PWN3D

Sometimes I have too much fun coming up with titles that could be misleading.  For example, todays title: “PWN3D.”  In gamer terms, it means you got owned or destroyed by your opponent.  There was some owning going on today on two fronts really.

 First, my wife and I now own a house.  We signed the papers (which in the process “owned” my wrist), got  the last few things tied up, and now we can move in next week.  I’ve still got that sense of it not being real.  I think it’s taken me this long to get used to the fact I live in the town that I do and I don’t go home for breaks anymore.  Now, I have to remember that after we move next week, when I come home from work, I have to go to a different address.  I have no complaints of the new address.  It has it’s advantages; for example, we’re painting some rooms just before we move in.  You don’t paint rooms in a rental.  Well, you can, but the consequences aren’t pretty.  So really, owning a house is good.

Of course, there’s always the flipside.  Today, while I signed papers that I said I own a house, I also signed papers that said that someone now owns me.  Well, probably not a person exactly, but now that I have a mortgage, I am owned by the loan company.  Our loan lady is nice, which definitely helps.  I also have to keep in mind that we haven’t moved yet.  So of course, that day next week will probably own me as well.

 I told one of my co-workers today that I bought a house, he responded, “You mean a money-pit.”  I’m hoping that’s not the case for a little while.  That’s what I currently call my car.  But it doesn’t matter, but when all the owning is done to me and by me, my wife and I now have a place we can truly call “Home.”

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A Review of “The Pianist”

Tuesday night, my wife and I sat down to watch the other movie she had rented along with Bridge to Terabithia. It was The Pianist. I believe my wife’s intentions were good when she referred to the film as “a war movie without the fighting.” To an extent she was correct, but I would probably have to refer to it as a drama that occurs in the context of a war.

Set in Warsaw, Poland from 1939-1945, The Pianist tells the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a trained concert pianist and Jew in German occupied Poland. The movie begins with the German occupation of Warsaw and the destruction of the radio studio where Szpilman is playing the piano. His family hears on the radio of how Britain and France are entering the war, and celebrate that evening, believing the end of the war and their freedom from Germany will come quickly. The arrival of Allied forces from the West, of course, never happens, and soon the oppression of the Jews begin.

The story follows Szpilman as he struggles in the Warsaw ghetto, is spared death in the gas chamber, and goes into hiding, continually watching the war occur literally around him. If I had to categorize this film, it would fall under “watch only once per year.” Don’t misunderstand, I was blown away by this movie. It hooked me and drew me in. But it’s intense, it’s moving, and you have to be emotionally invested in the film for it to really have the impact it’s after. I don’t like to get burned out on movies like this. I want it to hit me emotionally. I want what Hitler did the Jews during that era to resonate with me. I don’t want it to become just another film that I watch. It has to be real, each and every time.

Adrien Brody’s performance is incredible. He blows Tom Hanks’ Cast Away performance away in my opinion. I did like Cast Away and thought Hanks did a good job, but it’s hard to compare a fictional character to the true story of Szpilman as portrayed by Brody. He speaks so much with his eyes alone, and you feel his pain with him.

I can’t suggest the film for younger children. It’s rated R with good reason as the movie is riddled with murders and mutilations of Jewish occupants of Warsaw. It’s also not the most uplifting movie. You won’t walk away from this one smiling. It’s a sobering look at the Holocaust. As a side note, I had the opportunity this past summer to tour Auschwitz, one of the Holocaust Camps in Poland. I found The Pianist to be a great companion to that visit, as it made the images seen at Auschwitz come alive through the characters in the film.

I’ve been gone?

Ok, it has been a while. In the meantime, a lot of things have happened. One is that my wife and I hopped in a Yukon with my family and went to Colorado for vacation. I had fun, and we saw a lot of sweet stuff. Hopefully I’ll be able to do a post more in depth on where we stopped with pictures later.

But with the good comes the not-so-good. Right before we left for vacation, I came to discover that I had a cracked radiator. A friend was looking under the hood as some other things, and to be honest, we discovered it quite by accident. Thankfully, he turned to me and said, “We can change this ourselves, it’s easy!”. So just this past weekend, we finally stopped by the auto parts store and picked up what we needed. He worked, I helped and learned. I now feel confident that I could any of the following.

  • Change out the radiator (which I hope to never have to do again),
  • Change the distributor cap and rotor
  • Change the spark plugs and wires
  • Change the fuel filter
  • Change the oil
  • Replace the oil filter

All I need is a pair of ramps. It’s kind of crazy really. It’s not that hard to change the oil. I realize it’s more convenient to have it changed by someone, but now that I’ve seen it done once, I feel like it would be silly not to save myself the money and change it myself. Learn something new every day right?

Oh, I would be remiss not to mention that I watched three movies on Saturday, something I haven’t done in years. What made it more odd was that I enjoyed all three, and they’re all quite different movies: Shooter, Bridge to Terabithia, and Breach. I liked them all, and I would recommend each to fans of each type of movie. Bridge to Terabithia I found to be better than I thought it might be going in. I would recommend that as a great family movie you can watch with your kids and then talk about afterwards as it tackles some difficult subjects.

Fun for Less!

Generally when you think of a wedding anniversary, you think “expensive”. At least I do. My wife and I couldn’t do “expensive” this year, so we came up with a different plan and a had a great time. We ended up spending some time in historic Dubuque, Iowa. It’s the oldest city in the state, home to industry, ports, and really nice big houses up on the bluff. We took a historic carriage ride around town (the most costly part of the day next to gas). We also rode a small cart up the steep hillside so we could get some shots of the Mississippi from the top of the bluff.

After our time in Dubuque, we jumped across the border into Illinois and drove to a town called Galena. This place was pretty sweet. They have a really nice downtown area full of small shops in historic buildings. We stopped quick at a coffees shop there, before heading out to cross the border into Wisconsin! That’s right, 3 states in less hours. Then home for dinner and games. The verdict at the end of the day: do it again when we have time to spend a day each place.