Friday, May 28, 2010

Runners in the Storm

With a nod to The Doors, we were actually walkers in the storm. We became runners when it started hailing:

Not two seconds after I turned the camera off, the sky was split by a sizzling lightning bolt. It's all about timing, I guess.

No damage to body or property, though. Just a pleasant surprise.

iPhone Dump

Checking my iPhone pictures and I see I've got a few I haven't posted. Well, they're not amusing anyone just sitting on my phone, are they? Here they are. Be amused!

I'd said I didn't get any good pictures from Emily's Spring Concert and I wasn't kidding. Here's proof: (Emily's playing flute at the far left.)

A couple of Sundays ago, it was crunch time for Rachel and her semester essay for English. Her choice of location to work on it with Dad? The Downtown Library. A great place to jostle with the homeless for a connection to the 'net. Turned out just fine, thanks, but that was the day the huge hail storm came rolling through northwest Oklahoma City causing so much havoc. We got caught on the outer edges as we were making our way home and we sought shelter under a tree:

You can see the marble-sized hail near the windshield:

No damage to the car - that had already been done earlier with the baseball sized hail we'd got on the south side a week or so earlier. I've published those pictures on Facebook so I won't put them here. Can't be repeating myself, can I?

Last Friday I had lunch with Clara. I complain mightily about the limitations of my iPhone's camera but sometimes, when the light and the color and the angle are just right, I manage to capture a little something that makes it worth keeping. Here's a street view from the rooftop of the parking garage across the street from Clara's office:

Here's a glimpse of the Devon locations from the same view:

Finally, the sky was so blue, the Liberty Bank building was so awesome, well, I couldn't resist:

Saturday morning I went back downtown with Clara while she powered down her servers for a building power maintenance procedure. I whiled away the time, watching the Devon construction from her window: (Familiar? They might be to my tweeple; I tweeted 'em already so there goes my policy about repeating myself.)

You can barely see 'em but at the top of the blue tube - it's a concrete form for a pillar of, well, concrete - are three guys who've just scrambled to the top to guide the crane dumping in the concrete. They moved so fast that by the time I saw them and got my camera on them, they'd made it from near the bottom to all the way to the top. Sure, they had safety lines but an impressive, fearless feat nonetheless.

And that's all I've got for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Georgia O'Keeffe - Movie Review

The Redbox had squat so Georgia O'Keeffe
looked intriguing and, to a certain extent, it was. Yep, there was her glorious work of flowers examined so closely they became abstract and there was her relationship and subsequent marriage to Stieglitz and all that entailed. I suppose it was mostly accurate. There was the usual stuff about artistic freedom and some nice recreations of NYC in the teens and 20s of the last century and New Mexico, of course, but nothing really earth shattering throughout the movie. Just a sort of interesting biopic about an original, and accessible, American artist. A nice change of pace and well worth a buck but I'll bet there's a better episode about her on PBS or the Biography Channel.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Spy Emily's Eye

Taken while goofing around, waiting for the doors to open before Rachel's graduation.

(Inspired by the amazing Rick Lee.)

Iron Man 2

Like the rest of America, we saw Iron Man 2 and it was pretty good movie to munch popcorn by. Lots of action, clever quips, and 'splosions so what's not to like? Mickey Rourke does a fine turn as the heavily-accented and greasy bad-guy whose motives are driven by the same psychological sources as Robert Downey. It all ends the way its supposed to with an orgy of FX that just keep getting more dazzling as these kinds of movies progress. There seems to be no end to what can be put up on the screen in a convincing manner. Added bonus: no, not Scarlett Johansson in a too-tight outfit - I like her in anything I see her in - but the scenes of the Gran Prix in Monaco. When's the last time you've seen that location in a movie? Looks like things have built up around there since To Catch a Thief but still beautiful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rachel Graduates

Rachel's high school graduation has kept me away from the keyboard this week and I've only just now managed to find the time to upload the pictures we took over at Facebook for the family to share. She still has some school days left to go - a quirk in the ceremony schedules meant that her ceremony was this past Tuesday but her actual last day of school won't be until this Tuesday.

We're so very proud of Rachel and more than a little sad. Yeah, yeah, it seems like yesterday and all that stuff but you know what? It's true. It does seem like yesterday that she marched her way into her kindergarten classroom on that Fall day 13 years ago and started her school career. There've been a lot of ups and downs since then but, man, have those years have simply flown by. Well, it's the way of the world and that's the way things are supposed to be - she's been growing up and away from us ever since she was able to toddle around on her own. One thing has remained constant over the years: the blessings she's brought us have never ended. Never. We don't know yet what her next adventure will be but we know it'll be an interesting one. And we'll be standing by to give her all the love and support she'll need and more than she probably realizes.

So, here's to Rachel.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Robin Hood - Movie Review

It was our anniversary so that means if there's a Russell Crowe movie to be seen, that's how we're celebrating. Fortunately, Robin Hood was just released - perfect timing! - so that's what we did.

Too bad it wasn't a better movie. Oh, Crowe is just fine, brooding and manly like Crowe is, but this is an odd take on the story of Robin Hood and not really all that exciting. It's a long stretch from the opening battle scene to the last and in between there's some kind of royal intrigue that's going on that was a little hard to follow, what with Crowe muttering his lines and all. But I was willing to go along with it, confident there'd be a good payoff but that payoff was ruined when, in the final battle scene, Lady Marian - no, it's not Maid Marian in this version - shows up in her cute little battle suit and suddenly starts leading rough men into battle. Is there nothing she can't do? Oh, I see, it's necessary to get her out there and in peril so Crowe can rescue her. Never mind. Carry on, then.

The photography is good and I see on IMDB this was filmed in England and Wales and so the countryside looks lovely. Director Ridley Scott is no slouch and so can't put together a bad movie but I'd say this was one of his lesser works. Still, it's the only Russell Crowe movie out there and, if you're a fan, and we are, you'll want to catch it.

Nine - Movie Review

I've never seen 8 1/2, the movie which the play Nine is based on and which Nine, the movie, in turn, is based on (Yes! I win the award for the world's most confusing sentence!) so I can't compare the two but I found this version to be very entertaining. Cinephiles know the story: a Fellini-esque movie director has trouble with his next film. He looks for inspiration from the women in his life: his wife, his mistress, his mother, his first love. In this version, the scenes are punctuated with many dance and song numbers but, unfortunately, I couldn't whistle you a single memory or quote you a single line of song. The dancing was good though and the actresses looked pretty and, wow, Sophia Loren looked really good. I always like Daniel Day Lewis when he isn't playing crazy and he doesn't play crazy here so that was a good thing. Most of it takes place on movie sets or indoors but there are a few brief scenes outdoors that are quite beautiful.

This was panned when it was released but for a DVD rental it was well worth the time.

Baltimore Blues - Book Review

Nick Hornby lightly recommended a later book by Laura Lippman but being the completist that I am, I couldn't just jump right in the middle of her ouvre. That would be wrong. No, I have to begin at the beginning, if at all possible, and in this case it was so the beginning for Lippman and her Tess Monaghan mystery series is Baltimore Blues, which is a pretty good debut. Monaghan is an unemployed reporter who falls into the private investigation business almost by accident and finds she's rather good at it and likes doing it. The mystery? Not such a big deal. Not big twists or turns to be surprised at. The real pleasure to be had is the Baltimore locations and though the book is nearly 15 years old, it doesn't seem too terribly dated.

Lippman, like her protagonist, is a journalist and so knows how to string along a series of sentences to tell a good story. She spends a little too much time slagging on rich folk - they're always the bad guys, aren't they? - and yuppies and their poor taste but what're you gonna do? It's her show and she can do what she wants how she wants to do it and for a first book, this is one of the better ones.

Will I read more in the series? I'm not sure just yet. I've got some other stuff lined up so it'll be a while before I can get back to her but this might be the start of an interesting relationship.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Emily's 2010 Spring Concert

Emily and the band at Brink Junior High performed their Spring concert this past Tuesday. Did I get some good pictures? I did not. Did I get some good video? I did not, too. I may have something better in the camcorder but I'll have to rip and edit it later and post it if it's any good. Meanwhile, how about a lousy video taken with my iPhone, with the exposure all out of whack because, well, I dunno what the iPhone was registering. You can see Emily, sort of, in the left of the frame, the flute player with the touch of blue-green color from the top she was wearing. You can also see a massive amount of the back of someone's Dad's head. But the sound is pretty good so you might enjoy this little one minute or so snippet:

Emily was excellent, of course, and we really enjoyed the show. We're looking forward to a lot more, too.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Tornadoes blew through here last night but for the most part we got through just fine.

Emily was at the high school for band practice and I had to go get her when the weather was a'stirrin' and the sireens were a'wailin'. They had the kids in the safe hall - built after the May 3rd tornado from 10 years ago - and I took her out of a perfectly safe environment and put her in my car and headed home. I call that good parenting. We got caught in the hail and managed to find a drive thru bank awning we could get under before things got too bad. I was worried the windshield would go but it was fine, just a big dent in the hood. After it cleared up, we got home, and the tornadoes were dancing all around us but we were pretty much out of danger by then. Clara's brother, though, and his wife had their front windows blown in, water in the house, shingles torn off, deck damaged, trees downed - you know, the usual. But otherwise unharmed. (They live where they do because they followed a relative who had moved 10 years ago because they'd lost their home in that May 3rd tornado. Yikes!) If you see pictures of the Loves Truck Stop that was destroyed, that's right near where they live.

My office okay. My staff's fine - Terra had texted me and said she was okay but her brother, our intern, saw the tornado touch down in Norman. He was okay, though. The office should be abuzz this morning.

Clara and Rachel managed to get out and scoop up some of the hail on the ground. Not quite the size of canned hams but they'll do some damage:

Here's some of the damage. The hood of my car:

Ouch! Well, we're fine and healthy and if this is the worst we get, we'll manage. Pray for those who lost their lives and sustained real damage.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Rachel's Choir Performance at Westmoore's Evening With the Arts

Rachel's in the final weeks of her high school career and this is her next to last choir performance. Next week is the big choir finale and I hope to have something from that as well so expect some more dimly lit, blurry still pictures and some poorly edited, shaky video with lousy sound. You know, the usual stuff you've come to expect from me.

Clara was out of town this week and Emily was at home a'wrasslin' with her upper respiratory infection so it was just Grandma and Grandpa and me to handle the rabid fan chores.

Here' Grandma and Grandpa, ever-faithful and always early:

The auditorium soon filled up but not to the rafters like a normal recital; since this was an arts appreciation night, there were 5 other venues going on at the same time so the halls were filled with proud parents and bored siblings. But soon, Rachel and the choir took the stage and performed their competition numbers:

Where's Rachel? Second row, second from left, her face blocked by the dark-haired beauty in front of her. See her now? Yeah. One thing that's been consistent throughout the years, no matter what seats we get, the view of Rachel is always obscured. Always. Sigh.

Here's another view? Better? No? Well, it'll have to do. I didn't take a lot of still pictures because of the lighting and I was working the video camera, too. I'm only one person, people.

Did I say video camera? So I've got video to post? Well, yes but not from the camera. You'll recall I've had trouble converting the Sony files to WAV files that I can upload to YouTube. Also, I'm all thumbs with the free Windows editing software so I can pare down the clips to YouTube's draconion limits. But the still camera has a video mode and it does a not-bad job of things and and all I have to do is upload the file directly to YouTube. Why can't all things be that simple?

You get the idea. (I'm working on the camcorder video and may post that later. Check back often.)

Grandma and Grandpa and I spent the time before the show and between performances reminiscing about all of the times we've spent out in the audience and how those times are coming to a swift close. Oh, sure, there'll be plenty of times ahead for Emily but this, well, this is different. Now may not be the time to get all misty-eyed about how fast time goes by - the thing to do is to enjoy the time at hand, right? - but, oh my, doesn't the time pass so swiftly?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Car Lust: Minivan Madness Week

See? It's not just me. Mini-vans rule!
The truth is, the 21st-century minivan is a remarkable instrument. Insanely practical, with a utility envelope that can hold a whole youth-league soccer team or enough plywood to build a pretty serious model train layout, the modern minivan also has shockingly good driving dynamics. In one now-famous test conducted by Grassroots Motorsports magazine, a box-stock, straight-outta-Lincoln-Alabama base-model Honda Odyssey ran dead even with the legendary Porsche 356 on an autocross course--and flat-out blew the doors off an E-type Jaguar! And that was on cheap all-season radials.

Time to re-post this awesome mini-van video, baby!

Whole Foods Confirms Oklahoma City Lease

What a difference eight months makes:
Whole Foods confirmed Wednesday the chain has a signed lease to open a store in Oklahoma City.

The confirmation was provided through the company's marketing department via Twitter in response to a question by The Oklahoman regarding rumors that have been ongoing for the past two years.

Whole Foods is one of the nation's leading grocery chains that specializes in natural and organic goods and operates more than 270 stores in North America and the United Kingdom.

The chain has only one store in Oklahoma — a former Wild Oats store in Tulsa acquired as part an acquisition in 2007.

I call that good news. The first, and only, Whole Foods I've been in was in Orlando while on vacation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We bought Cuban food to eat back in our room and it was almost as good as Grandpop Pete's. I'm looking forward to Whole Foods coming here and spending a ton of money on stuff I can get cheaper that tastes just as good.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I.M. Pei OKC: Resurrecting the Model

Some months ago, I made a passing Prior post reference to the destruction of downtown Oklahoma City at the hands of architect I.M. Pei. Now Pei's model of his plans has been resurrected and the revisionist historians have taken over. Did you know that it wasn't Pei's intention to raze many of the fine old buildings that were destroyed to make way for his vision? Nope. Well, okay, maybe not all of those buildings. Just that one and that one and that one over there. Beautiful buildings turned to rubble and dust to be replaced by some of the most painful eyesores you can imagine. So don't blame him. Blame urban renewal. And greedy land developers, according to some paranoid commenters at the site. You know, the usual suspects.

What happened to Oklahoma City happened to many large cities across the United States. Residents fled to the suburbs not because they were duped by developers to leave downtown but because it was preferable to live in the suburbs. And we've never returned. Sure, I admire some of the efforts we're now making to attract residents back downtown but I think, in the long run, it's folly. We're not Manhattan. Never have been. Never will be.

I can't be bothered to plow through the site and learn where Pei is today and what he thinks about how Oklahoma City implemented, or didn't implement his plan. All I know is it seems he high-tailed it out of here out of here after milking us yokels for his fee and was never heard from again. Maybe I'm being unfair. Maybe Pei weeps long into the night because his dreams of a Utopian Oklahoma City never came to fruition. But the history of Oklahoma City and its grand buildings speaks for themselves. This exhibit is should serve as a reminder to those who think the new plans that have recently received approval will somehow be different.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

It Ain't the Thunder's Night

Dang. The Oklahoma City Thunder lost:
The Los Angeles Lakers are moving on — battered and bruised, but not beaten.

Pau Gasol putback a missed jumper by Kobe Bryant with a half-second left and the defending champion Lakers survived a late comeback effort by Oklahoma City and eliminated the Thunder 95-94 in Game 6 of the first-round playoff series on Friday night.

“This is the playoffs. This is what it’s about,” Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. “When you have teams that have won 50 games in the course of a season like this Thunder team did, they have a sense of pride about them. They can play a game that’s obviously not far off of what our mark is or was this season.

Well, it was fun while it lasted. And for a team that's only be in existence two years, not a bad performance at all. Way to go, Thunder.