Saturday, November 19, 2005

Walk the Line

Yep, saw this last night. And I like it even more today than I did last night. Biopics aren't usually my favorite types of movies. Trying to fit someone's life into a standard plot formula doesn't usually make for great fare - more movie of the week than blockbuster. While I think Jamie Foxx did an incredible job as Ray Charles and I found the story interesting, I didn't really find it compelling. Interestingly, though Johnny Cash's story very much parallels Ray Charles' around his relationship with music, drugs, career, and women.

The funny thing about this one is that I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what happened next, even though I knew. As you've no doubt heard already, Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Whitherspoon are fantastic. He picked up the voice (so did she), and he even picked up the way Cash sings out of the side of his mouth, and the stage mannerisms. It's all there. Even though I went in expecting the acting from the two of them, what I didn't expect was the chemistry. They had fantastic chemistry. I wanted to cheer when they kissed the first time, even though he was married.

It does take some getting past the fact that he was married with daughters at home while he's trying to get June Carter to be with him. Looking back, you can see that he and June were "meant for each other," but at what point does that justify how you treat someone you once loved? I don't know that it does, and the movie doesn't even try to say that, which I applaud. It just puts the story out there for us. But it is hard for me to watch a man, even an incredibly charismatic and talented one, cheat on his wife and get upset over her frustrations by explaining that he's bought her the house of her dreams, and asking what else she wants. I certainly felt her frustrations at times, and think this woman was nothing but justified in her own reactions.

But I guess that's the thing about biopics, they are warts and all. And even after seeing the warts, you really can't help but root for Johnny and June to finally get together and live their happily ever after, in spite of the woman he left behind.

PS On a more selfish note, three cheers for a movie that portrays the south and southerners with all heart and zero cliche. The Thanksgiving scene brought me to tears, not only because of the strained relationship with his father, but when Mother Maybelle Carter tells of learning music in church and reading shape notes. There are so many things about the way I grew up that my own children won't experience: sitting around the piano while my grandmother played and sung hymns, heading to a local pond to go fishing after digging up your worms in the back yard, and walking railroad tracks by the cotton mill. Kids, don't roll your eyes when your parents wax nostalgiac about how they grew up.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Oh, the irony.

Or is it ironic? I don't know anymore.

Reading one of my daily work newsletters, I came across this tidbit...
Blogging: About one in four workers average 3.5 hours a week reading online blogs that are not work-related, according to analysis by Advertising Age. All told, U.S. employees this year will waste "the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs" that have nothing to do with their jobs. Also, a white paper on blogs by public relations firm Edelman and Intelliseek reveals that "nearly 70 percent of companies have no policies or guidelines" for employee bloggers, raising liability questions. And while employee blogs have "helped enhance the reputation" of companies like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, they also have "hurt reputations in the case of several high-profile firings" at Google Inc., Delta Air Lines, Waterstone's and Friendster, according to the Edelman-Intelliseek research. Even so, IBM is giving employees "blogging tools" and views blogs as a way to forge new relationships with business partners, as well as market new products.

So, naturally, I decided to blog about it.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Trip

By singular demand I am posting the trip.

I don't know if I do summaries very well, but I'll try it - enter the joys of a one-week trip to the other side of the world.

Saturday morning we flew from Atlanta to LA, then LA to Sydney. The best part is that because of the time change in the States and Australia, instead of flying over night as is the usual itinerary, we were able to fly "during the day" and land Sunday night Sydney time. This allowed us to get there, and pretty much go straight to bed and get a full night's sleep, rather than having to start in the morning. I think this was the key to the fact that neither one of us experienced any jet lag in Austrlia. Upon check-in at our hotel, this was our view.

Not bad, I say.

The next day was Monday, and I worked from 10-5 while Dave walked around Sydney and figured out where things were. After work, we walked around and went to dinner. Some of the sites:

Seriously, we were really there. At the Sydney Opera House. I still don't know if I believe it.

On Tuesday, I worked 7-12, and Dave went to the aquarium. Then we met my colleagues at a pub to watch the Melbourne Cup. This is a horse race that shuts down the country. Think the Kentucky Derby's influence on Kentucky, and apply that to Australia, which is the size of the US's lower 48. I looked out the window of the pub during the race, and there was no one on the street, not even cars. Well, unlike the Derby, these horses can race multiple years. And the favorite was on her third race. We picked her, and she won. This is the first horse to win three in a row. We won $37 on a $10 bet. Good times.

Then we went to the airport to fly to Melbourne - a one hour and 20 minute flight south. Since the cup was there just a few hours earlier, and the week-long Carnival was still going on, things were crazy in Melbourne. Our hotel was a few miles outside of the city - probably similar to Decatur, if you have to compare it to Atlanta. We were about two miles from the Italian area, and that's where we ate. I've never seen anywhere like this. All the restaurants are right along the same street, one right after the other. They all had their sidewalks full of tables and chairs. We had about five feet to walk between the restaurant and tables along with everyone else going in our direction and the other. Meanwhile the restauranteurs were accosting us to come into their restaurants. Bizarre. So we went across the street to one that didn't attack us.

Wednesday was another 7-12 day, while Dave walked around. We ate on the river

and then took a tram for about 45 minutes to this little beach.

Something we started to realize is that modern cities are modern cities. Outside of something like the Sydney Opera House, if we had been dropped off without knowing where we were, these could have been pretty much any city in America. Well, ok, and driving on the left side of the road. But still, the buildings could be just about anywhere. The key is getting outside of the cities. And we got to do that when my boss gave me Thursday off, and directions to Mooloolaba beach about an hour outside of Brisbane. Turns out, this is where he was a member of the Mooloolaba Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. These are lifeguards, but they also participate in competitions.

The drive was beautiful, with these cool mountains that would pop up. Then the beach was incredible. Blue, cool water, nice sand, and huge waves. Huge waves. Waves like I've never seen in my life. I couldn't stand up in them. They knocked me over until I figured out that I better go under them or get out entirely. The pictures don't do them justice because there's no context, but they were at least five foot breakers. We had such a good time. This is somewhere we hope to go back to.

The beach

Apparently this is a protected beach, and the waves "aren't that bad." Thank you to my boss for sending us to this one.

Brisbane was a short day, and our flight left at 3pm. We then headed to Auckland, through Sydney. The flight created some cool shots. We could see how big Sydney really is. This shot is only one part of Sydney.

Ah, and then there's Auckland, New Zealand. We actually had a good bit of free time here, so this was great. Kayaking, driving around hills and beaches in a Suzuki Samarai, and then a visit to the Auckland Museum.

Some Auckland shots...
From the ferry

Waiheke Island Kayaking and Driving

A beautiful park in the heart of the city.

A different park, also in the city.

I guess that about sums it up.

The flights? Long - 14 hours LA to Sydney. 11 hours Auckland to LA. The jet lag? None going over. At first it seemed there wouldn't be any coming back, either. Ah, but there was. And has been all week. I'm still wiped out at about 3pm every day.

All in all, an amazing trip. I was ready to get home, but I definitely want to go back. We'd like to see more of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in Australia, plus more inland. And we definitely want to go back to New Zealand and hit the south island. That's where the truly amazing stuff is supposed to be. I can't even imagine.


Someone else I know will be sad about the first one, but my day has been marred by the announcement of the cancellation of Arrested Development.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Trent Reznor

I may be the last one here, but has anyone out there seen Trent Reznor lately? He was interviewed for a clip on VH1 that I saw this morning, and I didn't recognize him. Even after they said it was him, it took me a minute. It's interesting that so many of the "rebellious" types take on a more conventional look as they get older. I mean, he was not that alternative looking before - just long hair. But his new look certainly doesn't fit the sound of NIN from back in the day. Anyway, I'm just rambling.



Um, yeah, that's him - second from the LEFT.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

To Sum it Up

Having dessert - tempura banana - at the Harbourside Restaurant,

after a day of kayaking

Waiheke Island New Zealand...

The radio plays "Wish You Were Here," Pink Floyd.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Language and Dialect

Fun stuff from here. And not surprising one bit.

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English

35% Dixie

5% Yankee

0% Midwestern

0% Upper Midwestern