Category Archives: Entertainment

Chasing Ice to Jekyll Island

I took a little “blog-cation”: for a while. I was feeling down with a cold-turned-bronchitis for most of January, and didn’t really feel like doing too much.

Mrs. Poolman and I had a nice weekend. On Saturday evening, we drove down to Jekyll Island (about an hour and a half from our home) to attend the screening of an environmental film “Chasing Ice.”  It was very impressive! Several folks from work were involved in the program. Also we are considering sponsoring a screening here in Savannah later in the spring. I thought it would be a good idea to see it first. The organizers from the University of Georgia did a great job. They estimate more than 700 people showed up for the reception, film and panel discussion. I guess there isn’t much else going on in the “Golden Isles” on a Saturday night in February. The film itself was also very good. Here is a trailer.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here it is, 2013. Where did you go 2012?

Our weekend kicked off Friday night with a sleep over, not the fun kind. We participate in a homeless ministry at our church. Once of twice a year, the church provides overnight housing for a group of homeless families for a week at a time. They need couples to cook meals, be “evening hosts” and “overnight hosts.” Since we don’t have small children at home to worry about, Mrs. Poolman and I usually take one of the overnight assignments. It’s just a matter of going up to the parish center and spending the night sleeping on cots. It’s not a real hardship duty, and it apparently does some good. Our night was uneventful, except that Mrs. P hardly slept a wink. I rarely have such problems.

So Saturday was largely a wasted day. Mrs. P spent most of the day napping on the couch. I made some corn chowder and delivered it to our daughter and her husband who were sharing a case of the flu.

Trouble with the curve We rented a pretty good movie that evening – Trouble With the Curve (Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake.) It’s a story of an aging baseball scout whose attorney-daughter joins him on the road to help save his career and reputation. It was Clint being Clint and Amy Adams being her usual cute-self. Throw in a boy-meets-girl sub-plot with Timberlake and you have a fairly predictable, but still very enjoyable flick. Mrs. P went back to sleep before we were 20 minutes into the show, but I liked it anyway.

Lincoln-Movie-Poster-1536x2048_extra_bigOn Sunday, we hit another movie at the theater that we both really enjoyed. “Lincoln” with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones was simply outstanding. I’m sorry we waited until it was almost at the end of its theater run before getting around to watching it. If you miss it in the theater, be sure to catch it on DVD or pay-per-view. The movie is not a comprehensive bio-pic of Old Abe. Rather, it focuses almost entirely on the single month of January 1865, when Lincoln lead a determined effort to convince the House of Representatives to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. At face value, that probably sounds boring to a non-history buff. However, the script is very well written, and the acting is outstanding. Watch for it to come up frequently when the awards season rolls around.

Mrs. P had to work both Monday and today, New Years Day. Unfortunately, they can’t send those babies home just for a holiday. Last night, some of our friends invited us to their house for dinner. We had a great time, but were back home by 10 pm so Mrs. P could hit bed in time for her 5 am wake-up. I’ve mostly watched football games today. So far the SEC is looking pretty good. Florida plays Louisville and long-tine, popular Gator assistant coach Charlie Strong tomorrow night. I’m back to work tomorrow. It’s been a good break. I may need it. Right now,  January and February look like they will be rocking.

Books, books and more books

Both Mrs. Poolman and I do a lot of reading for pleasure. In the past, a book or a bookstore gift certificate was considered a pretty good birthday or Christmas present around our house. Lately, however, that has changed, or at least it feels like it has changed. The problem? Between downloading e-books on her Nook and the availability of getting new releases from the Village Library, a present of a new book doesn’t seem any more special than picking up a gallon of milk at the grocery store.

The library in question is a small community library that serves the community near my workplace. It is chock-full of popular writers. It generally has a good collection of new releases, which they rent for 30 cents per day. Considering that Mrs. P goes through two to three books a week, that is a bargain compared to a $25 new-purchase price new.

Mrs. P typically gives me a list of books and authors she wants to read. I stop by the library a few times a week and check to see what they have. It’s a good system that usually keeps Mrs. P in fresh reading material, but it takes the shine off of giving her a book or gift card as a present. All the same, I still gave her a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas.

Speaking of books, I read two interesting ones recently.

The Panther“The Panther” is one of a continuing series of thrillers by Nelson DeMille that feature one of his main protagonists, sarcastic, wise-cracking John Corey (The Lion, The Lion’s Game, Night Fall, Plum Island, Wildfire). In this book, Corey is still a member of the Anti-Terrorism Task Force. He and his wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, are sent to Yemen to track down the latest Islamic terrorist, nicknamed “the Panther.” Actually, Corey and Mayfield are selected because the higher-ups believe they will serve as bait to draw the terrorist out of hiding. DeMille teams Corey up with another of his previous protagonists, Paul Brenner (The General’s Daughter, Up Country). On top of being served up as bait for the Panther, Corey suspects that some members of the American team would not be unhappy if he and Kate were to return to the US in body bags.

You can pretty much figure the story from there. While the destination is predictable, the ride is a good one.

I do have just one criticism. Much of the book is narrated in the first person by Corey. While the wise-cracking is an integral part of his character, the sarcastic comments come about every other line. It gets a little old after awhile. It was just over-the-top. DeMille could tone that down just a little in his next gook and the book would be a little more readable.

Paris in love“Paris in Love” by Eloisa James is an entirely different sort of read. College professor and romance writer James moved to Paris to live for a year with her husband and two children. I am still fascinated with anything to do with Paris. Her book is a memoir of sorts or their year there. James is a clever writer. The book is interesting, especially to someone who just visited Paris a couple of months ago. There is no plot or theme to speak of. The book is broken up into a long series of short anecdotes and thoughts – snapshots of her experiences. It feels like a year-long series of Facebook posts. I enjoyed sharing James’ enjoyment of her year in Paris. The stories about her children will give you a grin. I’m not sure her precocious 11-year old daughter is really that precocious, but James’ stories about her are worth a chuckle. “Paris in Love” is a light and short read, and one worth the effort.

 

‘Mad River’ is an excellent read!

If you take a look at the “Books” tab at the top of the page, it will be no secret that I’m a big fan of author John Sandford. I just finished his most recent Virgil Flowers novel, “Mad River,” and loved it.

Sandford’s books aren’t great literature; he doesn’t even try for that. He just tells a great story.

The Virgil Flowers series is one of two of Sandford’s crime novel series. His primary, and longest-running series is the “Prey” series, which he began about a hundred years ago. That series of books focuses on a Minneapolis police detective, turned assistant chief, turned state investigator, Lucas Davenport. Davenport is smart, rich, urbane and smart-assed. Several years ago, Sandford took one of his secondary characters from the Prey books, Virgil Flowers (also known by his friends and colleagues as “that f_cking Flowers”) and created a second series of crime novels. While Davenport and his crew work the Twin Cities, Flowers works crimes out in rural Minnesota.

While it is helpful to read some of the books in order, it is not necessary. While with some authors (Patricia Cornwell, for instance) there are often important plot references to previous books, that is not so with Sandford’s books. It helps to know the characters, but you can pick up any of his books and fully enjoy it without having read any others.

Sandford’s strength is in his characters. His protagonists are the kind of people you would love to go hang out with for a while. He even creates bad-guys who can generate some empathy. And since all his main characters are wise-crackers, the dialogue can be great.

In Mad River, Flowers is standing on a street corner drinking beer with a friend when he gets a call from Davenport to work a multiple murder in a small down several hours drive away. When Flowers tells Davenport he won’t be in any shape to drive for a few hours, Davenport agrees and tells Flowers to be careful with the alcohol and driving.

“It would be best if you were gunned down in the line of duty and not killed in a drunk-driving accident.”

Mad River focuses on a trio of teenagers who start a minor killing spree across the Minnesota countryside – a kind of Bonnie and Clyde with a sidekick. The main plot isn’t a mystery, since there is never any question about who did the deed. It’s Flowers’ job to catch the kids before they kill two many more people, and hopefully before the local sheriff’s department takes things into their own hands and kills the kids first. There is also a sub-plot about what prompted the trio to start their crime spree to begin with.

As always, Mad River is a well written and compelling crime novel. Grab it for your own enjoyment or buy it as a Christmas present for a good friend or family member. They will thank you for it.

As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

A longer post tomorrow, but in honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share this link. One of the funniest TV sitcom episodes of all time was from WKRP in the late 1970s. One season, their Thanksgiving episode featured a promotion of releasing life turkeys from a helicopter. The result was a true TV classic, and one of the great lines of TV comedy. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

If you don’t have the patience to watch the entire episode, wade through the initial commercials and then fast-forward to around 22 minutes or so.  Great stuff!

http://www.hulu.com/watch/322

This and that

It’s been about a month since I last posted. After our trip to France, I needed a bit of a “blogacation.” I’m back with a mixed bag of thoughts.

The hot news out there this past week has been the sex scandal surrounding David Petraeus.

David and Paula Broadwell in happier times.

What a waste! It is interesting to note the double standards our society has for those in the public eye. If Petraeus were a Hollywood celebrity or a professional athlete, the entire episode might not even be worth a mention in People Magazine. I think we, as a society, tend to be a little sanctimonious when it comes to a good scandal. I’m not justifying marital infidelity, but I don’t understand why today that activity needs to ruin a good career. In the not-to-distant past, many great and admired leaders had a little, or a lot, action on the side. (Hello, FDR, Ike, JFK, Teddy K, etc.)

I got a chuckle out of a set of petitions that have been circulating around the Web promoting states to secede from the Union following President Obama’s re-election. What a bunch of sore losers! I’m not an Obama supporter, and, while fairly centric, lean more towards the right side of the political spectrum. (Big surprise there, huh?) This is a democracy folks. If you want someone you like in any elected office, then go out and convince enough people and get them to vote. If you can’t, then suck it up and live with it. Don’t just try to take your ball and go home. And, oh, by the way, didn’t we settle the issue of secession back in the 1860s? You would think the folks here in Georgia would remember that.

How messed up is college football? Imagine this. My Florida Gators are 10-1 and ranked #4 in the country. With just a couple of games going the “right way” this weekend, (wins by UF, USC, and Alabama) they could play for the national championship. And this, for a team with an offense so bad they would have trouble getting a first down against Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind. I love the Gators, but I do wish they would play some offense.

And if sex scandals, a replay of the Civil War and the BCS aren’t enough controversy for you, how about skydiving cats? There has been a uproar (or at least an upwhisper) over a Swedish insurance company television commercial that featured supposedly skydiving cats. I like cats. I have two of my own, one of whom is snuggled in my lap as I write this. But when I heard about this, I laughed. Jeannie Moos with CNN picked up on the story and had this tongue-in-cheek report.

The key here, folks — they didn’t really throw cats of airplanes. It’s all a joke. And besides, don’t cats always land on their feet anyway? (That’s also a joke.)

Paris — Day Six, Arc, Champs Elysees. Orangerie

This was a busy day. Monday is day three on our four-day museum passes. Tomorrow, we are headed to Versailles, so today was the last chance to hit some of the paid-admission attractions by using our passes.

We started the day by riding the Metro half way up the Champs Elysees and then strolling the rest of the way to the Arc de Triomphe.  We took the elevator to the top, where the view was very nice. We have been blessed with sunny weather ever since the third day here.

Back down the Champs Elysees and the Metro and a breeze-through visit to the l’Orangerie museum. This is a relatively small art museum, but is packed with Monet’s Water Lilies and a bunch of paintings from other impressionists, like Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne and Picasso. Mrs P wasn’t so sure about this stop. But afterwards she said “That was really cool!” Chalk up one win for the Poolman!

Back on the Metro. Next stop, Ile de la Cite. We wanted to visit the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame but it was closed on Monday. Our next planned visit was to be the chuch of Sainte Chapelle. However the line was around the block and wasn’t moving.

So, lunch time!

We got some sandwiches and pastries from a walk-up lunch stand and took the food to some benches along the Seine. Lovely scene. Lovely weather. Even the begger-pigeons contributed to the ambience. Not too shabby. Pics below.

After lunch, we hiked through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon. I was not overwhelmed, but BIL really wanted to see Foucault’s pendulum. It was pretty cool.

The best part for me was the church next door, St Etienne du Mont. The steps on the side of this church was where a key scene in one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, was shot. Owen Wilson’s icharacter, Gil Pender, is reclining on those steps at midnight when a 1920s era cab picks him up and carries him back to the 1920s where he meets F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Hemmington, Dali and a bunch of other characters. I waited on the steps but no one came to pick me up. Of course, that was four in the afternoon, not midnight. Maybe I should go back later.

After that a stop at Monop for supplies and back to the apartment for the night.

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We have logged a lot of trips on the Metro.

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Mrs P and me on the Champs Elysees

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The view from the top

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Our merry band back on the ground

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The sisters near Musee de l'Orangerie

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Picnicing by the Seine

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The none-too-shabby view from our picnic bench.

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Back up at street level.

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Pantheon

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We be pooped.

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BIL and SIL watching the pendulum.

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St. Etienne du Mont

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Checking in from paris

I havent been as diligent as I should have been for the past
few weeks.   Sorry.
Mrs Poolman and I are off on an aventure. We are in Paris for a a week, to be followed by a few days in Normandy and Mont St Michel. We have been planning this trip for months.
I am working off my nook tablet which does not allow me to be quite as fluid a writer as I would like. Mostly lll post pictures for now. Stories later.

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The plane, ready to go.

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Our room at the Holiday Inn St Germain

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View from our hotel room.

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Mrs Poolman sister- and brother in lawvchecking out a lunch menu.

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Fellow travellers, brother in law and Mrs P's sister

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,The two of us

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Very good onion soup for lunch

A two-year old birthday party, a great burger and a pretty good movie

Mrs. Poolman and I had a very nice weekend, at least so far. It’s only Sunday afternoon.

Five Guys stock photo

After a busy week, I slept late on Saturday and then took care of the weekend yard and pool chores. Mrs. P had to run some errands. We went to “Five Guys” for lunch. If you are not familiar, you should know this is a great hamburger place. Giant burgers and tons of fantastic fries. I could eat there every day, but if I did I wouldn’t live long.

Later in the afternoon, we went over to our friends, Lynn and Sam for their twin daughters’  (Helen and Brittany) second birthday party. Fortunately, both Mrs. P and I like little kids, because there were a bunch of them. I don’t think we have been around that many small children since our children were that age. It was fun, and Liz had laid out a great spread of food. Unfortunately, Mrs. P and I had just stuffed ourselves at Five Guys a couple of hours earlier, so we weren’t hungry at all.

The girls enjoyed their cake.

Yum!

We didn’t stay too long. We came home and watched a movie we had rented earlier.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect out of “Mirror, Mirror” starring Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Nathan Lane. It simply is the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs done a little tongue-in-cheek. It wasn’t Academy Award-winning great, but it was definitely cute. Julia Roberts did a nice job as the evil stepmother and Lily Collins shined as “Snow” (although someone really needed to trim that girl’s eye brows.) Even the dwarfs were pretty cool. The movie didn’t take itself too seriously. On the other hand, it wasn’t so over-the-top farcical that it became stupid. See my account of the latest Three Musketeers movie as an example of a farce that got out of hand.

In summary, it was a light, fun movie that was fun and enjoyable to watch.

Right now it’s Sunday afternoon, and the plan for the rest of the day is to simply “chill out.” We’re doing beer-butt chicken on the grill with various veggies. Mrs. P is planning to make a dessert we saw in the newspaper – grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream and topped with a sweet bourbon glaze. Sounds yummy!

“Hope Springs” fails to spring

Mrs. Poolman and I went to the movies last Saturday afternoon.  We don’t go to many movies at the theater, mostly because it seems most producers tend to target their films for an audience of middle-school age children.

Mrs. P really wanted to see “Hope Springs” with Tommie Lee Jones and Meryl Streep. This film was definitely not targeted at the adolescent set.  As a matter of fact, we were sitting in the front row, and when I got up to look at the audience when the movie ended, I think we were the youngest people there.

“Hope Springs” is the story of a 60-ish Omaha couple whose marriage has fallen into a stale, repetitive routine. They sleep in separate bedrooms and, as it comes out later, have not made love in four years. Streep drags her husband, Jones, kicking and screaming to Maine for a week of intensive marriage therapy.

The plot from there is predictable. I don’t need to lay it out. Much of the dialogue consisted of clichés you see in the marriage advice columns in women’s magazines.

Some of the scenes were fairly stupid when you think about it. In several scenes, the couple tries to reignite the sexual flame in their relationship, but they can’t seem to figure out how to take their clothes off. I appreciate the director saving us from the sight of pot-bellied Tommie Lee in the buff. But seriously! If you are trying to heat things up in front of the fire, don’t you think you would do it without all the clothes in the way? Oh, well. Maybe that’s just me.

Streep and Jones save the movie from being a total bust. They do a good job with their characters.  It was enjoyable watching them play back and forth with each other. But aside from their interplay, there is not a compelling reason to spend the time and money to see the movie in a theater. If I had the chance to do it again, I’d wait until it comes out on DVD. It’s less expensive, and I can read a book during the slow parts.