Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Greatest Movie Ever

The best movie ever is The Lord of the Rings.

I'm not prone to such ultimate statements; I'm much more likely to say something is a great movie - and I do think The Lord of the Rings is a great movie - than to say that anything is the best movie ever. There are so many good movies, you know? I love movies. But I'll go on the record here and say that The Lord of the Rings is. The best movie. Ever. Today, it is.

The Lord of the Rings. All three chapters: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King. All three Extended Editions. Six discs, a total of, like, what, twelve? Twelve hours.

But you have to know just how to watch it. It's a great movie no matter what, but if you want it to see that it is the best movie eve, you have to watch it just right. So follow these steps:

1. Buy the movies with an unexpected gift certificate that you got for your birthday from some students.

2. Place the DVDs, still shrink wrapped, on the television for two months to cure.

3. Wait for very very cold weather. And, then, snow. Lots and lots of snow.

4. Oh. Hang on a sec. I skipped a step.

0. Go to college and get a degree in education. Become a teacher. Marry a teacher. Have three kids. Let kids cure for 12, 10, and 5 years, respectively.

5. Have a snow day. Or a too-cold-for-school day. Have it be announced the night before school, too late to do anything, nothing on TV, but you get to stay up late! Watch excited kids run around, then settle down, then look to you for the evening's amusements.

6. Look at your new movies sitting on the TV. Look at them there. Look. "My preciousssss. . ."

6 1/2. You know, there are some really scary scenes in those movies. It would be really irresponsible for you to show it to Daughter, maybe, and definitely Youngest. Could cause nightmares for weeks. Do the right thing: sit through one of their kiddie flicks for the thousandth time. You don't want to risk screwing up your kids just so you can watch a movie, do you?

7. Yup.

8. Start the movie. Man, that music is perfect. Good story. Keep glancing at the kids. Answer questions. Watch the movie, peek at kids. Then, it starts to happen: Watch kids fall completely in love with this movie, in all the best ways - the way you used to watch The Wizard of Oz when it came on TV once a year.

See Eldest enjoy it yet again, having seen it, and love it, before.

See Youngest love it, despite some fears and some falling-asleep-on-the-big-comfy-chair-with-his-head-hanging-upside-down-over-the-edge-how-cite-is that?

But especially, see daughter stare at this movie, just gaze, just fall in love with it, in a way that allows you to see it again as if for the first time: the epic, noble story; the story craft and film craft; the characters, the language, the adventure. It is Oz all over again. It is Oz and Willie Wonka and all of the best Christmas specials and the first Saturday morning of the new TV season when you were ten years old. It is all of that, but new and now, and you get to watch it happen and live it with her. Until it is too late at night to keep watching, and you pause the film, and they beg and beg, and you sigh with a smile and watch some more, and, later, you pause it again, this time you mean it, and they beg and beg beg and beg, no, no, we'll watch more tomorrow, go brush teeth, awwww, Dad! no really, come on, night night.

9. Get another snow day. Watch the rest of Fellowship. Then, go to breakfast, swimming, lunch. So worn out. And the cold. What else can you do? May as well watch more. You watch a lot of The Two Towers.

10. Get another snow day. Go to breakfast, sledding, home for lunch. Do other stuff. Be worn out. Watch more. Marvel at how incredibly long it is. And rich. And so so good.

11. Go back to work in the morning. But, later, watch some more. Still good.

12. Wait a couple of days. Get stuff done.

13. Then, the next week, who saw this coming? get another snow day. This time for real snow. Lots of snow. Shovel the driveway with Eldest, do some stuff, home stuff, work stuff, shovel again, with Eldest, this time in the sleet. Even go help Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor shovel. Laugh a lot. Get worn out.

14. Then, put a fire on, gather the tired kids, lay on the floor, and watch more. Enjoy the fire. Enjoy the deep breaths of Youngest, who fell asleep on the floor next to you. Watch daughter do her "Daughter-fly," where she wiggles tense finger tips together in front of her mouth, something she does when excited, during the battle scenes, or the Frodo scenes. Answer all of her many questions. Suspect she has a crush on Legolas, just like she does on Will Turner in Pirates of the Carribean. Coincidence?

Watch and watch and watch. Snacks and tea. Put another log on the fire.

15. The last disk is coming to an end. Daughter actually claps - she applauds! - when Argorn is crowned king. Watch through to the end, and don't even mind that the movie has, like, fourteen endings. It's a whole half hour from the end of the quest to the end of the film. People complain about that. They're wrong. They don't get it. It's magical. Look at daughter, there. Frodo sails off. Fade to black. Nice fire.

16. Then, to shake the cobwebs off, take the dog for a walk. The family doesn't join you, thinks you are crazy.

17. Take a walk. In the lots-of-snow, now crunchy with sleet. It is still sleeting, so the whole world is making that sound, tiny ice crystals hitting fields of ice by the millions, so loud and so quiet at the same time, which is hokey but perfectly true, all around you, and pattering off of your hat and off of your coat and sticking to your dog, who is running and slipping on the ice and breaking through the surface ice in ways that are funny. She is not on a leash, because the two of you are alone at the top of the world. The sleet rat-a-tats and pings off of a flag pole, and the flag waves in the wind, but it crackles with sleet. You've never heard that sound before. You walk on shoveled sidewalks, but secretly look forward to non-shoveled strips of sidewalk because they make you feel like a more responsible home owner - slackers!- but also because you get to take big steps and crunch through the ice. You are on the tundra. You look back, and your footsteps smashed big holes through the ice. Your tracks are the tracks of a mammoth. The sleet comes faster and stings your face, but it's not as cold as it looks, so you go a little farther, pretending it's because the dog is having such a nice time, and she is.

18. Go home. Rub the sleet off of the dog on the porch. Open the door. Look: Your wife is making apple pies from scratch. You pour a Glenlivet for you, a Knob Creek for her, and you sit by the fire. The kids are playing at your feet, and you grab your laptop to record this day.

See? Isn't that the best movie ever?

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Us, While You Were At Work

Alas, back at work. But who's complaining? Not me.

Conferences tonight and tomorrow, which means for the students, this is a one day week. Boo-yah, as they say, whoever they are.

I received an email from a parent of a student. She was at the sledding hill yesterday and snapped this photo. Fun was being had.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

On Super Bowl, Snow, and Sleds

The bad news is the Super Bowl. And that ain’t nothin’ compared to the good news.

Eldest is a fan of the football game, particular the Steelers, which is a team, but also the Bears. His love of that team is genetic, passed from Mother, who hails from Bear-ville, but most especially from Grandpa, with whom Eldest watched many hours of football whilst Mother and Father cavorted in sin city.

Aside: Eldest is tossing the old pigskin to himself as I type this, in flagrant violation of various paternal injunctions, and I am as distracted by the tossing as I am by his enormous hair.

Aside 2: Youngest insists that I take his picture as well, and I choose to set his hair on fire to do it.

Aside 3: Eldest informs me, after reading this, that he is a bigger Bears fan than Steelers fan. This is, I think, revisionist history, perhaps in the hopes of a greater inheritance from Grandpa.

End of Asides.

When there is a football contest we wish to watch as a family – and there aren’t that many, that just isn’t how we roll, as they say - we do a pretty pleasant little shindig, with hot wings and barbecue wings and nine-layer dip (well, four or five layers of a nine-layer dip, but I’m not complaining) and lots of chips and ice cream and blankets on the floor. Also, later in the game, lots of laughter, and groaning from mother, as we enjoy the fruits and toots of the bean dip, a happy family healthy as manatees.

The game was fun to watch, the commercials okay, with the following family favorites:

Daughter: Doritos
Eldest: Bud Light “Rock Paper Scissors”
Youngest: “Ask me my favorite! Ask me my favorite!”
“Okay. What was your favorite?”
“Rock Paper Scissors too!”

Mother: Snickers
Father: Robert Goulet

So, guess what? The Bears stunk, losing after an amazing start in much the same was as the Buckeyes did, if with less humiliation.

Eldest was despondent, and spirits were low.

And then we got news that school was closed the next day. Wind chill, it seems.

And yea, the spirits were lifted, and there was much rejoicing. And up-late staying.

But do we dare hope for two days in a row? No, that would be greedy.

And we got two days in a row.

The first day, we hung around the house, eventually driving each other crazy, until Alex’s evening Soccer game got us out and about. But the second day, we got it right, without Mother, sadly, as her meetings were not cancelled. Breakfast at the kids' favorite place – Youngest pronounces it “Bob’s Evan,” and then, on the coldest day of the year, we went swimming. As did everyone who didn’t have school – at one point you couldn’t see water. We had much fun, and then, a late lunch at BD Barbecue, a favorite of Daughter’s. By now, the snow was really coming down. Do we dare hope for. . . no, we don’t dare. But we did camp out in front of a fire and watch Lord of the Rings, or at least the first three hours of it. This could be called irresponsible parenting, but Daughter loved it, as did Youngest, though he hid his eyes occasionally. No nightmares.

I realize that non-teachers might find it hard to understand, but going back to school after a snow day is kind of hard. You get greedy. And we were greedy. As I lay in bed before the alarm went off, I was dreading going back to work in a way that is completely unfair to the rest of the working world. The alarm went off, I sighed, and Mother turned on the TV.

You know.

Just in case.


You know, as nice as it is to find out about a snow day (or “really frickin’ cold” day) the night before, to stay up late and not set the alarm at all, it is really great, even better, to be surprised in the morning.

Today? First, omelets and pancakes. Then, another hour of the Rings trilogy (Extended Edition!) Then: Sledding!

Mother is not a fan, but she came along so that she could see first hand the limb loss that concerned her. But then guess what? No injuries! Sort of. And who was the biggest sledding beast? Guess.

After going down the hill with me – a pretty good hill, at a local State Park – Youngest wanted to go by all by his own self. Father was gleeful, Mother less so. After his second run, Youngest got crushed by another sled. (We sort of skipped the whole “be sure to get out of the way of other sleds” part of his training.) As responsible parents, we didn’t see him get hit. Mother and I were laughing-all-the-way on a sled run of our own, Parents-of-the-Year Award Number 421. By the time we got to him, the park ranger was already checking his vitals – she was a dramatic type: “Can you move your head?” she asked. “Can you take deep breaths?” To which Youngest responded, through his tears, “Can I go again?”

And now, the evening. Another fire, a Papa Murphy’s pizza (recommended!), another hour or so of Lord of the Rings, and, realistically, no hope of another day off. That would just be greedy. Greedier.

I would love to share with you pictures and tales of Daughter as an indoor soccer star, and Eldest as a star of stage, but Middle Earth is on, loudly, and I need a break. Writing this is the most work I’ve done in days.