Monthly Archives: February 2012

“The Debt” — A good choice!

Last week we watched a rental DVD that nearly passed under our radar, but I’m glad it didn’t.

“The Debt” is excellent!

I don’t want to give away the entire plot, but here are some broad brush strokes. The plot involves an Israeli Mossad snatch squad that is sent to East Berlin to capture a former concentration camp doctor. The three members of the team returned to Israel to a hero’s welcome. The movie flashes back and forth between the time of the kidnap in 1965 and 1995 when it appears something is not quite right. Two separate sets of actors play the three protagonists 30 years apart.

The story is interesting and engaging. The acting is also excellent. Helen Mirren is the biggest name-actor. She plays Rachel, the female member of the snatch squad in 1995. Jessica Chastain (The Help) plays her younger version.

The movie is definitely for adults, not because of sex and violence, but because of the sophisticated plot. It reminded me of a Fredrick Forsyth or John Le Carre novel set to a movie.

Sophisticated plot with a few surprises, and well acted. I’m really glad I watched it and give it a strong recommendation.

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Right to the point

Last Wednesday, Mrs. Poolman and I attended the Ash Wednesday evening Mass at our church. Normally on Wednesday evenings, we have CCD class, but last week,  that was replaced by the Ash Wednesday Mass. Since I had strongly encouraged my students to ask their parents to take them, I figured it was a good idea if I went also.

It was obvious that our pastor, Monsignor C, was trying to keep down the length of the Mass. The distribution of ashes alone took at least ten extra minutes.  So when it came time for his homily, Monsignor walked to the pulpit and had this to say:

“I’ll try to express my homily in as few words as possible.

It’s Lent.

Shape up!”

As he turned from the pulpit, he got a rousing round of applause. Way to go, Monsignor!

A Friday evening flashback

Life has been both busy and slow at the same time. How can that happen?

This past weekend started out busy but then coasted to through to a quiet couple of days. On Friday evening, I helped out serving at the Knights of Columbus fish fry. Our daughter’s best friend, Norma, invited us to go over to her house afterwards for a small get-together and to eat some of those fish dinners. We’ve known Norma and her family since the girls were all middle-school age. Early on, our families had discovered an amazing coincidence. Both of our families had five children; we all grew up in the same town (Wheeling, West Virginia) at the same time; and we all attended the same parochial school, St. Vincent de Paul, in Elm Grove.

On Friday evening, I sat down with Norma’s mother and aunt and played “Do you remember…?” It was incredible what we both recalled. In addition to sharing the same school, we played in the same parks, went to the same movie theaters and swimming pools, attended the same church and shopped at the same stores. We even shared the same family physicians. It’s amazing that none of us can remember knowing one another back in the mid-60s when we were all at the same school together. The best we can figure out is that we must have alternated grades. Despite each family having five children, spread across roughly the same time frame, none of us were in the same class. As the evening wore down, I remembered one last detail of those years.

“Did your mom ever cook city chicken?”

“Oh my God! I haven’t thought about that in years! We had it all the time.”

City Chicken

City chicken is a dish apparently indigenous to western Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio. It is simply cubed pork and veal, arranged on a wooden skewer and cooked like chicken. My recollection is my mom browned it in butter, made gravy and then finished the cooking by simmering the pieces in gravy. It was served with noodles. What a flashback! Now Mrs. Poolman is hot to trot to cook some city chicken and have the other families over for a 1960s dinner. Should be fun.

Is it football season yet?

It’s still five and a half months until college football season starts up again, but I ran across a couple things that are interesting.

The first is a map of college football loyalties. For those parts of the country of which I am familiar, it is pretty accurate.  (Click on it for a full screen version.)

The United States of College Football

The second is a video of “Things Gator fans say?” This guy has some talent. The video really hits home.

“How do you fall asleep at a MacDonalds drive through window?”  Funny!

The best ever National Anthem

I am a big fan or critic, as the case may be, of performances of the National Anthem at sporting events. It just drives me crazy to watch a young performer try to put their own spin on the song – a young female singer trying to turn it into a love ballad or a young male singer making it into a country rock song. But I’ll stand and cheer for a really good performance.

This came to mind earlier today when I read that Whitney Houston has died. For whatever else you can say about Whitney, her performance of the Star Spangled Banner at the 1992 Super Bowl may be the best ever.

If you are too young, didn’t see it, or simply don’t remember, I should point out that the performance came just ten days after the air campaign began in the first Gulf War. There was an intense feeling of patriotism throughout the country. Whitney stepped up before a world-wide audience and just let it rip.

Whitney seemed to draw energy from the crowd, but apparently that was just an illusion.  I read today that she recorded the song a few days earlier and lip synced it at the event. Until today, I hadn’t realized that.

At the time, I remember watching it and saying to myself, “Holy smokes! That was really great!” Courtesy of YouTube, here it is.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I may be one of the last people to climb on board the Steig Larsson bandwagon. His “Millenium Trilogy” has been on the bestseller lists for some time, but for some reason they didn’t grab my attention. I’ve had “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” sitting on my “to read” shelf for months. Finally, last month I broke down and read the novel and I’m glad I did.

The story is essentially a crime mystery with a number of side plots, placed in Larsson’s home country of Sweden. A discredited financial journalist is hired by the aging patriarch of an old, rich industrial family to investigate the mystery of what happened to his teenaged granddaughter who went missing, and was presumed murdered, one day in the 1960s. However, the rest of the family are lead to a believe that the journalist, Mikael Blomqvist, has been hired simply to write a family history.

Blomqvist is assisted by the brilliant, but seriously odd Lisbeth Salander, aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Lisbeth is an absolute freak, but an extraordinarily compelling character.

As they delve into the family and the mysterious disappearance, they find all kinds of bizarre stories. That family had some serious issues!

I thought the story started slow. I was nearly 100 pages into the book before things really started to pick up. However, once they got going, I found myself staying up and reading much later than I should on work nights to see what was going to happen.

My advice – Don’t give up on the book too soon. Give it 100 pages. You won’t be disappointed.

I am really looking forward to the next two books in the series.

 

Sick, recovery and back to work

The last few days have been fairly eventful, at least from my limited, self-centered perspective.

On Saturday, I was a judge at the regional Ocean Science Bowl competition. It involved 16 high school teams from Georgia and South Carolina. It was actually a lot of fun. I was a “rules judge” so my amateur knowledge of ocean science didn’t hurt me. I had one minor conflict with the moderator on my team of judges. He interpreted a rule incorrectly and, at least initially, was not happy about being corrected on it. We discussed it, and when he actually saw the rule in question, he realized he had made a mistake and everything turned out OK.

Mrs. Poolman and I went out for dinner with some friends Saturday evening. It was “restaurant week” in Savannah, and many of the up-scale restaurants had fixed-prix menus. I was not impressed with the restaurant, even though it had an excellent reputation. The chef barely seared my steak that I had ordered “medium.” Once the food was laid down, the waitress did not appear again until it was time for dessert. She didn’t even ask why a perfectly good (but practically raw) steak sat, barely touched, on my plate.

I’m not a complainer. If I’m asked, I’ll answer. Otherwise, I’ll just remain quiet but take my business elsewhere.

I almost nev­­er fall victim to a “stomach bug” or other gastro-intestinal maladies. So I was very surprised to find myself spending most of Saturday night in the bathroom with significant eruptions coming from both ends. What do they say about “thinking you’re going to die, and afraid you won’t.” Ugh. Not a fun experience.

So I spent Sunday like a zombie, laying on the couch, napping and watching TV. I napped through the first half of the Super Bowl. I apologized to Mrs. P for being such lousy company. There are benefits to being married to a nurse. She took good care of me.

Dinner?

On Monday, I recovered enough to drive to Atlanta for today’s Board of Regents meeting and a “Coastal Georgia Day at the Capitol” tomorrow.  I’m off in a little while to meet some of my fellow “coastal Georgia” people for dinner at a Brazilian steakhouse. Is it supposed to be ironic that the representatives of the Georgia Shrimp Association go to a Brazilian steakhouse when they come to the “big city?”

Whatever. I’ll report back on dinner tomorrow or later in the week.