June, 2014 Archives

The Fault In Our Stars

June 30th, 2014

“Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.”

 

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are simply amazing in The Fault In Our Stars.

Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are simply amazing in The Fault In Our Stars.

Go see The Fault In Our Stars.

I can’t be any more direct than that. You’ve probably heard about the movie, based on the massively best-selling John Green book of the same title. It centers around Hazel and Gus, two whip-smart teens who are both dealing with cancer. Yes, it’s a Young Adult story supposedly, but you’ll love it if you’re 90.

I read the book last summer, while on vacation at a rented cottage, then saw the movie this summer while staying at the same rental cottage. It’s not like I’m looking for cancer stories while I’m on vacation; I’ve had enough cancer stories to fill a book (yeah, literally!).

This seemingly simple story is fantastic. It’s life-affirming, even while dealing with horrible diseases. It’s funny, even while being sad. And it’s beautifully told with real emotional heft. The type of feelings you experience seem to be dictated by where you are in life.

My youngest daughter was moved most by a speech made by one of the secondary teen characters. My wife found meaning in the parent’s struggles. Me, well I tended to look at it from a patient’s perspective. I was brought to tears when one of them got some good news. So there’s something for everyone.

Shailene Woodley, whom we first noticed in The Descendants as George Clooney’s daughter, was absolutely incredible as Hazel. Along with her ever-present oxygen tank, she inhabited the screen with a type of emotion that’s hard to describe, yet incredible to watch. They might as well only plan on four other Best Actress nominations, because she’s a lock to get one.

There are other great bits about this movie. The snappy male lead, Ansel Elgort’s father is a professional photographer and named him after my hero Ansel Adams. Elgort and Woodley starred together earlier this year in Divergent, which I didn’t see and got roundly panned. I plan on renting it, though, simply to see how their chemistry played out under completely different circumstances.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia was appropriately subdued as the cancer support group leader. He may very well be the next comedian to hit the big, big time, like Louis CK. And, of course, there was Dutch actress Lotte Verbeek whom I couldn’t take my eyes off of. I’ve just finished scouring IMDB and have added some of her other movies to my Netflix queue. The wonders of the internet!

There is so much more to say about this movie, but I wouldn’t want to spoil anything for those few out there who haven’t heard about it. Everyone I’ve spoken with who has seen the movie has also read the book. And they are all blown away by both. Sure, see the movie THEN read the book if you’d like (though that sentence may get me in trouble with the Literati).

It doesn’t matter how you experience this story, just experience it!

 

Some handy tips for watching World Cup Soccer

June 22nd, 2014

“Soccer” for dummies

Here are 20 important things you should know:

1. Soccer began, some say, when a group of Medieval Brits gathered together around a pig’s bladder to receive endorsements from Nike.

2. Like presidential elections and new episodes of Mad Men, World Cup happens every four years.

3. In every other part of the world it’s pronounced “SOCK-er.”

4. FIFA stands for “Football: It’s FOOTBALL, Americans.”

5. Each team has 11 players, unless one of them has a day job and can’t get off work.

6. Follow this easy trick to remember the positions on the field. There’s a goalie, then all the others.

7. A game lasts 90 minutes, made up of two 45 minute halves and a bunch of random extra minutes no one ever tells you about.

8. Apparently, even having LeBron James on your team isn’t enough to insure victory.

9. Like we have fantasy football leagues, other countries have fantasy soccer leagues.
(I don’t actually know if this is true, but I’m too lazy to Google it.)

10. Before World Cup, most Americans knew only two famous soccer players: Pele and David Beckham. Now they know nil more.

11. Oh, and Brandi Chastain.

12. Except for boxing, it’s the only other sport that allows you to use your head.

13. Imagine I’m writing this with a British accent; It’ll sound way more authoritative.

14. Soccer is basically lacrosse without sticks, or padding, or helmets, or danger.

15. Names to bring up when you’re talking with your daughter’s soccer-playing boyfriend: Jozy Altidore, Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey.
Oh, and Brandi Chastain.

16. Here’s an interesting tidbit about Portugal:

17. Even people in Ghana don’t know where Ghana is.

18. Although you’d never know it by his name, Team USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann is NOT a native-born American.

19. Most referees are sponsored by Hallmark and often show off their latest line of cards during a match.

fuleco-the-mascot20. This is the first time in World Cup history that referees will be using a special vanishing spray to mark where players have to stand when a free kick takes place. (Really. I’m not making this up!)

21. Fuleco, the three-banded Armadillo is the official World Cup mascot. If you think that’s a bit odd, consider the Racing Pierogies during Pittsburgh Pirates games.

22. Soccer is as riveting to watch as a full-blown chess match.

23. When anyone else besides Team USA plays, there’s always a Family Guy re-run somewhere on cable.

24. Like soccer games, this list inexplicably goes on past its stated ending time.

Sunset, Moonrise

June 16th, 2014

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie …

Lake Michigan sunset and moonrise

Hiya fellow wanderers!

Sorry for my absence. I’ve been busy, busy with my youngest’s graduation, party, trip and my eldest’s return home for a brief stay.

We spent a little time over at Lake Michigan for a mini family vacation and I had some fun walking the dunes with my point-n-shoot camera, taking celestial snaps. Enjoy!

More later,

Rodney