Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A to Z 2013

Are you up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year?  I have just signed up.  This will be my third year to play.

No idea what I'm talking about?  The idea is simple.  You sign up on the list below.  Then, each day in April (excluding Sundays), you blog according to that day's letter - A on the first day, B on the second and so forth.  Themes are welcome but not necessary.  I've had baseball themes the past two years but am planning something different this time.

Want to learn more before taking the leap?  Visit the official site.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Family Movie Night: Brave

Title: Brave
Directors: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Original Release: 2012
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Brave is Pixar's latest offering, an Atalanta-esque tale set in Medieval Scotland.  Mérida, a princess, defies her parents expectations that she marry.  When suitors are assembled for a contest of skill, she chooses archery and, predictably, defeats them all as a testament to her own right to choose.  But that's just the beginning of her adventures.

Having a daughter, we're always on the lookout for stories with strong female leads.  While Studio Ghibli is very reliable on that score, this is the first Pixar feature to deliver.  Mérida is certainly beautiful (and voiced by the ultra-sexy Kelly MacDonald).  However, she's a far cry from the Disney Princess ideal.  She's intelligent, resourceful, skilled and extremely independent. 

Pixar is very dependable for visual splendor and Brave is no exception.  The voice cast is wonderful, too.  In addition to MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson and Robbie Coltrane are all delightful contributors.  Brave has already won a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature and is Oscar-nominated for the same.


My Wife and I were both pleased that by the end of the film, Mérida still hadn't chosen to marry.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Australian Open Day 14: Murray

Curtain Call

Player: Andy Murray
Age: 25
Nation: UK
Current Ranking: 3
Notable Conquest: Roger Federer (2nd seed, Switzerland)
Today's Result: loss to Novak Djokovic (1st, Serbia) in four sets
Photo via International Business Times

Weep not for Murray.  This was a big tournament for him.  He made the finals for the third Major in a row and beat Fed for the first time in a Slam along the way.  With last year's US Open title under his belt, the pressure will be on Murray in 2013 to threaten Djokovic for the top spot and, of course, win Wimbledon.  His odds of doing both seem a lot better than they did a year ago.

Hats off to Djokovic, too.  He now officially owns the Australian Open.  He is the first man ever to win the event three years in a row and his four title total equals that of Federer.

Now, once we have a healthy Nadal back in the fold, we should be in for another exciting year from the Big Four.  I'm eternally hopeful that someone new - really, anyone - will get it in gear for two weeks and storm the castle. But until they do, the best sports story going rolls on.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Australian Open Day 13: Na Li

Curtain Call

Player: Na Li
Age: 30
Nation: China
Current Ranking: 6
Notable Conquests: Maria Sharapova (2nd seed, Russia), Agnieszka Radwanska (4th, Poland)
Today's Result: loss to Victoria Azarenka (1st, Belarus) in three sets
Photo via Australian Open

In a sport of grunters, preeners and hypochondriacs, Na Li is a breath of fresh air.  She is gracious, intelligent and downright funny, even in a language clearly not her first.  To me, her claiming of the French Open title in 2011 is one of the best moments in tennis over the past few years.  Already the most successful Asian singles player in history, this was her second time making the final in Melbourne.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Australian Open Day 12: Barty

Curtain Call

Player: Ashleigh Barty
Age: 16
Nation: Australia
Current Doubles Ranking: 145
Doubles Partner: Casey Dellacqua (Australia)
Notable Conquests: Maria Kirilenko (Russia)/Lisa Raymond (USA) (3rd seed), Natalie Grandin (South Africa)/Vladimira Uhlirova (Czech Republic) (14th)
Today's Result: lost to Sara Errani/Roberta Vinci (1st, Italy) in three sets
Photo via Bettor.com

Here's one for the home crowd.  Barty is definitely on her way up.  She won the Wimbledon girls title in 2011 at the age of 15.  She already has 4 ITF singles titles and 4 in doubles.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Australian Open Day 11: Ferrer Joins the Club

Curtain Call

Player: David Ferrer
Age: 30
Nation: Spain
Current Ranking: 5
Today's Result: loss to Novak Djokovic (1st seed, Serbia) in straight sets

Photo via TennisEarth

Ferrer is, quite simply, the hardest working player in tennis.  His win against Nicolas Almagro (11th, Spain) was half Almagro-choke, half Ferrer-perseverance but the fact is, most players in Ferrer's position (down two sets and a break in the third against a darn good player) would have lost the match.  Sadly, he didn't have much in the tank left for Djokovic.  Ferrer now has 5 career semifinals at Majors, but no finals.  He turns 31 in April.  It would be great to see him cross the threshold before the window closes.  Paris?

Ferrer, through his performance at the past four Majors, has earned the exalted status of Golden Squid.

He is the first player to enter this exclusive society while currently ranked in the Top 5.

Golden Squid Report

Sloane Stephens (Golden Squid since 6/29/2012) - Without a doubt, Stephens was the breakout star of this year's Australian Open.  Her victory over Serena Williams (3rd, USA) in the quarterfinals established her as a force to be reckoned with on the tour.  Her run came to an end against Victoria Azarenka (1st, Belarus) in the semis but this would seem to be only the beginning.  Stephens is, after all, still only 19 years old.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On Top of the World

Inspired by my pal Suze, I offer a Carpenters tribute... after a fashion...

Rick Moranis, Parenthood:

Chris Farley and David Spade, Tommy Boy:

The following is the one Carpenters song I genuinely love.  I've long assumed that it was originally their song and Sesame Street co-opted it.  In fact, the opposite is true.  "Sing" was written by Joe Raposo who penned the vast majority of the classic songs from both SS and The Electric Company:

Finally, a reverse tribute.  Obviously, this was a Beatles song first and the world would be better off if the Carpenters had never gone anywhere near it.  Think of it as brain cleanser:

Australian Open Day 10: Chardy

Curtain Call

Player: Jeremy Chardy
Age: 25
Nation: France
Current Ranking: 36
Notable Conquests: Juan Martin del Potro (6th seed, Argentina), Andreas Seppi (21st, Italy) and Marcel Granollers (30th, Spain)
Today's Result: lost to Andy Murray (3rd, UK) in straight sets
Photo via Greg in Hollywood

By reaching the quarterfinals, Chardy achieved his career-best result at a Major.  He won the boys title at Wimbledon in 2005.  His career-high ranking is #25, though given that he's improved on a mere first round performance from last year, that should change soon.

Golden Squid Report

Juan Sebastian Cabal (Golden Squid since 1/21/2012) - The Colombian doubles specialist Cabal teamed with his usual partner, countryman Robert Farah.  The two had a great tournament, reaching the Aussie quarterfinals for the first time.  They lost to the Italian team of Simon Bolelli/Fabio Fognini in three sets.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Australian Open Day 9: Almagro

Curtain Call

Player: Nicolas Almagro
Age: 27
Nation: Spain
Current Ranking: 11
Today's Result: loss to David Ferrer (4th seed, Spain) in five sets
Photo via TennisEarth

I watched much of Almagro's match last night, but after a while it was just too painful (school night, too).  If you watched, also, you heard the ESPN crew go on ad nauseum about how he'd never beaten Ferrer in 50 billion tries.  Almagro won the first two sets, then served for the match in the third.  Then it all gradually slipped away.  Ouch!  The Latin American clay swing is coming.  Half of Almagro's 12 career titles have been won in Latin America.  That should help to ease his pain... maybe...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Australian Open Day 8: Jovanovski

Curtain Call

Player: Bojana Jovanovski
Age: 21
Nation: Serbia
Current Ranking: 56
Notable Conquest: Lucie Safarova (17th seed, Czech Republic)
Today's Result: loss to Sloane Stephens (29th, USA) in three sets
Photo via WTA Tennis

By making the fourth round, Jovanovski has achieved the best Slam finish of her career.  On the downside, she's gotten some fairly brutal press for her grunting.  A sample (best grunting is at the end, beginning at about 9:00):

I don't know.  I think Sharapova's still worse.

Golden Squid Report

Richard Gasquet (Golden Squid since 6/27/2011) - Gasquet matched last year's performance by reaching the fourth round, losing to countryman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (7th, France) in four sets.  He started off 2013 very strong, winning the Qatar Open in Doha.  He made the fourth round at all four Majors last year - a tough feat to match.

Family Movie Night: MirrorMask

Title: MirrorMask
Director: Dave McKean
Original Release: 2005
Choice: Mine
My Overall Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Image via Wikipedia

MirrorMask was a project between McKean and Neil Gaiman, longtime comic book collaborators.  As discussed in previous posts, Gaiman's work is hit-or-miss for me.  The film Coraline?  Good fun.  The Sandman comic series (for which McKean did the artwork)?  Didn't care for it.

MirrorMask was originally intended as a direct-to-DVD release but it got a short theatrical run as well as a screening at Sundance.  The story is, on its surface, fairly straightforward: a teenage girl in a circus family is troubled by goings on at home.  She gets stranded in a dream world and has to find her way back.  From there, things get more complicated and the main knock on the movie, from both professional critics and the tough crowd at our house, is that it's rather difficult to follow.
Image via Tales from the Old Wooden Art Table

The artwork, however, is well worth the show.  So, while Gaiman's writing efforts are sub-par, McKean's images are a great success.  The acting's pretty good.  I thought the lead, Stephanie Leonidas, was wonderful as Helena - beautiful, too.
Image via Aveleyman

Finally, the following is a song that I generally don't like.  I have a strong Carpenters aversion.  However, this scene is very cool:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Australian Open Day 7: Flipkens

Curtain Call

Player: Kirsten Flipkens
Age: 27
Nation: Belgium
Current Ranking: 43
Notable Conquest: Klara Zakopalova (23rd seed, Czech Republic)
Today's Result: lost to Maria Sharapova (2nd, Russia) in straight sets
Photo via TennisEarth

Flipkens definitely has one of the best names in tennis.  This was her first time reaching the fourth round of a Major.  She has never quite matched her success on the junior circuit.  She was the girls champion at both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2003.

Just watched the end of the Djokovic-Wawrinka tilt - wow!  Best match I've seen in a long time.  The exchange between commentators Chris Fowler and Darren Cahill at the end:

Fowler (referring the Wawrinka): Tough loss for him.
Cahill: I don't think he lost anything tonight.

Yeah buddy, easy for you to say!

Catching Up with Old Friends

Irina-Camelia Begu (Curtain Call, US Open Day 4) - Begu had a strong tournament in both singles and doubles.  She reached the Aussie second round in singles for the first time, losing to Agnieszka Radwanska (4th, Poland) in straight sets.  She teamed with countrywoman Monica Niculescu as the 13th seed in the doubles draw.  They didn't match last year's quarterfinal run but they did live up to their seed, losing in the third round to Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina (4th, Russia).

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Double Barrel #7

Title: Double Barrel
Issue: #7
Release: January 2013
Writers: Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
Artists: Kevin Cannon and Zander Cannon
Image via Comic Vine

After a month off to finish other projects, the Cannons launched issue #7 of their web comic this past Wednesday.  I got my copy at ComiXology, though it is available nearly anywhere e-books or web comics are sold.  87 pages for $1.99 - one of the best bargains around.

In Zander's Heck, Hector must continue on his underworld adventures without Elliott, his faithful sidekick.  In Kevin's Crater XV, truths are revealed about the Canadian space program and Army and Pravda are finally reunited.  As usual, lots of extras, including Penny from the Front and Here Me Is.  This month's How To: is an exploration of spotting black areas, a particularly important consideration in black-and-white comics, the Cannons' chosen medium.

Australian Open Day 6: Tsurenko

Curtain Call

Player: Lesia Tsurenko
Age: 23
Nation: Ukraine
Current Ranking: 85
Notable Conquest: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (24th seed, Russia)
Today's Result: loss to Caroline Wozniacki (10th, Denmark) in straight sets
Photo via TheNews International

Tsurenko is Ukraine's #1.  The Australian Open has been particularly good for her, the only Major where she's gotten past the first round.  This year's third round finish is a career-best.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Laura Robson (Curtain Call, US Open Day 7) - It was another great tournament for Robson.  She took out the 8th-seeded Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) in the second round.  Her third round finish is a career best for the event.  Robson was named WTA Newcomer of the Year for 2012.

Australian Open Day 5: Savinykh

Curtain Call

Player: Valeria Savinykh
Age: 21
Nation: Russia
Current Ranking: 159
Notable Conquest: Dominika Cibulkova (15th seed, Slovakia)
Today's Result: loss to Kristen Flipkens (Belgium) in three sets
Photo via TennisForum.com

Aussie is Savinykh's best Major.  It's the only one for which she has reached the main draw, having done so last year as well.  Her third round finish is a career-best and will help her ranking tremendously.

Golden Squid Report

Jurgen Melzer (Golden Squid since 1/24/2011) - Austria's #1 is still going strong at age 31.  He lived up to his seed, reaching the third round before falling to Tomas Berdych (5th, Czech Republic) in straight sets.  Doubles was a bit of a disappointment.  A three-time Slam champion in doubles (twice in men's, once in mixed), Melzer teamed with Olivier Rochus (Belgium) in Melbourne this year.  They lost in the first round to the 9th-seeded pair of Alexander Peya (Austria) and Bruno Soares (Brazil).

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Australian Open Day 4: Brands

Curtain Call

Player: Daniel Brands
Age: 25
Nation: Germany
Current Ranking: 120
Notable Conquest: Martin Klizan (24th seed, Slovakia)
Today's Result: loss to Bernard Tomic (Australia) in four sets
Photo via TennisDesire

Brands went through qualifying, then reached the second round of the main draw, the best showing of his career at the Australian.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Camila Giorgi (Curtain Call, Wimbledon Day 7) - Even with her first round loss to Stephanie Foretz Gacon (France), Giorgi's career trajectory is clearly on the way up.  She currently stands at her career-high world ranking at #74.  This was her first Aussie main draw.  She's unranked in doubles at the moment, though that will change, too, as she teamed with Stefanie Voegele (France) for this event.  They served as cannon fodder for the Williams sisters (12th, USA, four-time doubles champs in Melbourne) in round one.

Golden Squid Report

Marina Erakovic (Golden Squid since 1/17/2012) - Erakovic, New Zealand's #1 by a wide margin, put up a good fight in the first round, but ultimately fell to Alize Cornet (France) in three sets.  In doubles, she paired with Heather Watson (UK).  The team lost to Anna-Lena Groenefeld (Germany)/Kveta Peschke (Czech Republic) (9th) in the first round.

Tobias Kamke (Golden Squid since 1/17/2011) - Kamke made the second round in singles, matching his career best at the event.  Once there, he lost to Stanislas Wawrinka (15th, Switzerland) in straight sets.  In September, he won the Challenger tournament in Pétange, Luxembourg, defeating Paul-Henri Mathieu (France) in the final.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Australian Open Day 3: Kuznetsov

Curtain Call

Player: Andrey Kuznetsov
Age: 21
Nation: Russia
Current Ranking: 79
Notable Conquest: Juan Monaco (11th seed, Argentina)
Today's Result: lost to Kevin Anderson (South Africa) in straight sets
Photo via bettor.com

This was Kuznetsov first main draw appearance at the Australian.  His second round finish is his career-best for a Major.  He was the Wimbledon boys champion is 2009.

Golden Squid Report

Christina McHale (Golden Squid since 6/29/2012) - McHale's in a bit of a tail spin at the moment.  Her first round loss to Yulia Putintseva (Kazakhstan) was her eight consecutive lost match.  She didn't fair much better in doubles.  She and partner Eleni Daniilidou (Greece) lost in the first round the second-seeded team of Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.  Hopefully, she can get back on track with the upcoming North American hard court swing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Australian Open Day 2: Menendez-Maceiras

Curtain Call

Player: Adrian Menendez-Maceiras
Age: 27
Nation: Spain
Current Ranking: 233
Today's Result: lost to Jeremy Chardy (France) in four sets
Photo via Wikipedia

Menendez-Maceiras went through qualifying to reach his first Australian Open main draw.  For his career, he has 1 Challenger title and 9 Futures titles.  The Challenger tournaments are one level below the top flight, the Futures two levels below.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Edina Gallovits-Hall (Curtain Call, US Open Day 3) - Gallovits-Hall was double-bageled by Serena Williams (3rd seed, USA) today, probably not so great for the ego.  However, since she didn't play the main draw last year, her ranking will still improve slightly.  She is currently the sixth-ranked Romanian woman in the world.

Golden Squid Report

Rebecca Marino (Golden Squid since 6/24/2011) - It's great to have Marino playing again.  She took off several months of 2012, citing mental and physical fatigue.  Today's match, a straight-sets loss to Shuai Peng (China), was her first in the top flight since last February.

Greta Arn (Golden Squid since 5/24/2011) - Arn had to go through qualifying to reach the main draw.  She lost to Jana Cepelova (Slovakia) in the first round, failing to match last year's third round result.  Arn will turn 34 in April.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Australian Open Day 1: Bemelmans

Curtain Call

Player: Ruben Bemelmans
Age: 25
Nation: Belgium
Current Ranking: 114
Today's Result: loss to Edouard Roger-Vasselin (France) in five sets
Photo via Hbvl.be

This was Bemelmans's first Australian Open main draw.  A lefty, he is currently the fifth-ranked Belgian in the world.

A few years ago, I posted a list of reasons "Why You Should Watch the Australian Open."  The highlights:

If you live in a northern climate as I do, glimpses of summertime anywhere else in the world can provide a welcome relief. Thank goodness for the Southern Hemisphere! The sunshine over Melbourne can seem relentless and I don't envy the players the heat but it's so pleasant on the TV screen. Then there's the people. To say that Australians are more laid back than Parisians, Londoners or New Yorkers is an embarrassing understatement. The atmosphere of the tournament is reflected accordingly. The beer is free-flowing, though, and crowds can occasionally tend to the raucous. If any Slam feels like a day at the beach, this is the one.

No Longer Optional

The Australian Open was, for decades, the ugly duckling of the Slams. Quite often, the top American and European players would decline to make the trip Down Under at all. That time has passed. Endorsement contracts are now structured to give everyone ample incentive to show up. Also, ever since Pete Sampras established total Slam titles as the measure of all-time greatness, no one in search of a legacy can afford to pass it up. While perhaps still not as glamorous as its brethren, the Australian Open is a world-class event by any measure.

The Big Kickoff
The tours have already been in action since the beginning of the month but Melbourne is the first big gathering of the tennis season. Some are critical of the fact that the tennis year begins with such an important event right off the bat. It's not quite as strange as NASCAR beginning its year with the Daytona 500 but the timing does present unique challenges. The summer Slam season is a marathon. The physical challenge is to pace oneself at the smaller events and peak just in time for the big pay day. As for the Australian, this is the first tournament of the year for many of the top players. Those who trained well in the off-season are rewarded here.

A Slower Hard Court?

The hard court surface used in Melbourne is of a different chemical composition than that used at the US Open. The stuff is called Plexicushion Prestige and is apparently slower than the Deco Turf at Flushing Meadows. Thus, it is not so surprising that Rafael Nadal has found greater success here than in New York. I'm not sure I really buy it - concrete is concrete, right? But as I have no personal experience whatsoever in the comparison, I must defer to the experts.

Ideal for Night Owls and Early Birds
If you live in the Western Hemisphere and are at your best in the afternoon, the Australian Open is probably not the tournament that will turn you on to tennis. But, if you're like me and just start to hit your stride around 10 p.m., the coverage will suit you just fine. Similarly, morning people like my wife could watch over morning coffee (assuming they care more about tennis than my wife does, of course). It upsets me that so much of the tennis is played as I slumber but my schedule works out pretty well for the other Slams so I really can't complain.

Catching Up with Old Friends

Maxime Authom (Curtain Call, US Open Day 1) - It's Belgian Appreciation Day at The Squid.  Authom is currently the sixth-ranked Belgian.  He reached the main draw through qualifying, then lost to Carlos Berlocq (Argentina) in four sets.

Golden Squid Report

Juan Carlos Ferrero (Golden Squid since 6/25/2012) - Ferrero announced his retirement in September.  He played his final ATP tournament at Valencia in October.  He leaves the sport with 16 titles, including the 2003 French Open.  He held the World #1 ranking for nearly two months of that same year.  Hall of Fame?  My guess is no.  Injuries and the rise of Nadal robbed him of a more meaningful legacy.  Nonetheless, he had a fine career.

Family Movie Night: Lupin the Third

Title: Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Original Release: 1971
Choice: Our Girl's
My Overall Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Image via Ghibli Blog

The Castle of Cagliostro was the directorial debut for Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese anime titan.  The title character, a professional thief and a cad, was created by Monkey Punch for a manga series entitled Lupin III.  This film is actually the second of five feature films about Lupin but the only one directed by Miyazaki.

The story begins with Lupin and his partner Daisuke robbing a casino only to discover that the loot is counterfeit.  This inspires a visit to the fictional duchy of Cagliostro, rumored hub of an international counterfeit operation.  Soon, a damsel in distress comes on the scene.  Adventures ensue.  As is often the case with Miyazaki films, the plot is quite sophisticated for a children's film, though perhaps this one is better suited for slightly older kids for other reasons.  We'll get to that in a bit.

Much of Miyazaki's genius is already on full display in this early work.  Landscapes and other wide-view shots are breathtaking.  Human movements, on the other hand, are a bit more clunky than in later Miyazaki films.  Mind you, it's still pretty good by most people's standards.

Our Girl's a big fan of this one.  We don't have many rules regarding Family Movie Night but one we had to institute early on was that once a film had been chosen, no one could choose it again for at least a year.  It was an important measure for assuring variety.  Our Girl generally likes to pick movies she's seen before rather than trying something new.  It's not too surprising.  Most children appreciate the comfort of the familiar.  She'd been particular eager for this one to become available again.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • Language is a bit on the mature side.  While it is officially unrated, the movie has a suggested MPAA rating of PG-13.  If you worry about your kid dropping the wrong word in polite company, you might consider another Miyazaki film as your first.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Family Movie Night: The Return of the King

Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Director: Peter Jackson
Original Release: 2003
Choice: My Wife's
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Image via Pollianicus

Eleven Oscars.  Not that Oscars are everything.  After all, Titanic won eleven and nearly everything associated with that movie makes my skin crawl.   However, those eleven Oscars are at least an indication that I'm far from the only person who considers Return of the King to be one of the greatest films ever made.

Recently, my blogger pal Suze asked me which of the three Lord of the Rings films was my favorite.  At the time, I said The Two Towers, the middle movie.  But now, having watched all of them again over the past few weeks, I'm not so sure.  All three have strong selling points.  The Fellowship of the Ring is a loving introduction to the story and perhaps the most beautiful visually.  The Two Towers is the heart of the tale and provides lots of meaningful screen time to my two favorite Tolkien characters: Gollum and Treebeard.  The Return of the King provides a magnificent conclusion.  By the end, the viewer feels as invested in the journey as the characters.  We have all defeated Sauron.  We have all made it back home.

The story's conclusion reveals its true hero: the eternally faithful Sam.  Frodo's the star, of course, and he deserves admiration for having borne the burden of the Ring.  But it is Sam who carries him into Mt. Doom when his own strength and will are gone.  It is Sam who saves Frodo from himself.  Without Sam, the mission fails and Middle Earth is lost.

The end also reveals the tale's most tragic figure: Gollum, of course.  For the most part, The Lord of the Rings follows the fairy tale dictum that everyone gets what he or she deserves.  However, for as genuinely evil as he proves himself to be, Gollum's sentence far outweighs his crimes.  After the centuries of pitiful slavery to the Ring, his fiery death seems almost merciful.

Multi-generational considerations:
  • There were a few moments when Our Girl covered her eyes and asked to tell her when it was over.  Gollum murdering Déagol in the beginning was the first.  The Army of the Dead freaked her out quite a bit as well.  Overall, I'd have to say this is the scariest of the three movies.
  • It is also probably the most violent.  If you love epic battle scenes, this is your film.
  • "Too much kissing," she said.
  • Our Girl and I are still midway through reading The Two Towers together.  I was a little worried that her interest in the story would fade once we finished.  I'm pleased to say that hasn't been the case so far.

I'm with the Band: Kent State

Band: Marching Golden Flashes
University: Kent State University
Founded: 1919
Current Director: Frank Cosenza
Today's Bowl Game: Arkansas State, GoDaddy.com Bowl, 9 p.m., Mobile, Alabama
Photo via Kent State University

An excellent promotional video:

"Zombie Nation":

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I'm with the Band: Pittsburgh

Band: University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band
University: University of Pittsburgh
Founded: 1911
Current Director: Jack R. Anderson
Fight Song: "Hail to Pitt"
Today's Bowl Game: Mississippi, BBVA Compass Bowl, 1 p.m., Birmingham, Alabama
Photo via Wikipedia

"Victory Chorale":

They can dance, too.  "Party Rock Anthem":