Batman Begins

If you see one movie this summer, make it Batman Begins. I realize this is high praise considering all the movies that I haven’t seen, but I so thoroughly enjoyed Batman Begins that I think it merits the recommendation.

Christian Bale is the best choice for Batman/Bruce Wayne yet, and I quickly got past the slightly annoying “batman-voice”. You’ll see what I mean. Surprisingly, however, you don’t actually see Batman in full iconic garb until at least an hour into the movie, by my estimation. Maybe more.

This is an origin story, and it is well told. I’m not a big enough fan of the comic to know how true to the “real” origin story it is, but it was certainly entertaining. Christian Bale’s strongest moments are as the driven and brooding soul who, realizing that vengeance upon his parent’s murderer is not an option, will settle for those like him.

Veterans Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, as Alfred and Lucius Fox, respectively, really add a lot in terms of comic relief. While this film was gritty, it was nowhere near as dark as the Burton Batman films. The action was frenetic and it was difficult to tell what was happening, which fits with the style of this Batman. He strikes, fades back into the shadows, and strikes again – constantly keeping the bad guys confused and fearful. It appears that they tried to keep the batsuit off camera as much as possible, which wasn’t a bad thing. It’s hard to make the suit believable, but they did as good a job as one could expect, and then kept it off screen as much as possible in a film that is about Batman. Don’t get me wrong, you see plenty of Batman in the suit – but not as much as I thought you would, and not as much as in previous films.

Fear is a major theme – and it is addressed well. While I was a little fearful that having multiple villains would hurt this film as it hurt previous batman films, it wasn’t an issue. The Scarecrow was well executed, and the scenes that made use of his hallucinogenic gas were a joy to watch.

I realize that watching a fellow run around dressed like a flying rodent doesn’t appeal to everybody – but this is a quality film, top to bottom. See it if you have the opportunity, and I’ll be glad to take the blame if you don’t enjoy it.

You know you need to sleep in when. . .

I went to the Orioles/Yankees game with Kate and my in-laws last night. This has become a yearly tradition where we go the game and watch my team lose. No, seriously. I think this is 12 O’s/Yanks games in a row that I’ve been to with my in-laws that the O’s have lost.

We got back awfully late from the game, and it was after 1AM before I finally fell asleep. My alarm went off at 5:30AM, and, as I usually do, I hit the snooze. Or at least I tried to hit the snooze. In my blurry-eyed haze I could not for the life of me figure out how to make the infernal contraption on the bedside table next to me SHUT UP. I must have hit every button and switch on the damned thing, and it wouldn’t turn off. Kate can vouch for this, and if she hadn’t been woken up by my inability to operate simple electronics, I’m sure she would have found it enormously entertaining.

I finally got the clock turned off, and managed to sleep in until 7:15, which was not the plan at all. I think I might need a new alarm clock. Because there’s NO CHANCE that this was operator error. Nope. None at all.

Dance Party USA – In Kate’s Belly

So up to this point whenever Kate has felt the baby moving and I have tried to feel it, he has promptly stopped. I think I felt the baby move twice over the past month or so. We were hoping that perhaps I have some strange calming effect on the baby. We were also hoping that, come October and beyond, this would translate into nice restful nights courtesy of yours truly.

Alas, it seems it is not to be. Last night around 11PM Kate was trying to go to sleep, and I was trying to read. Baby Campbell was really active, and I rolled over to feel the little tyke doing his thing, fully expecting him to stop. No dice.

That kid had cranked up the techno and was having a full on dance party. It was insane! He was all kinds of kicking and squirming and generally just having a good time. While I’m sure this was annoying for Kate, as she was exhausted and wanted to sleep, I was thrilled.

On an only somewhat-related note, we’ve cleared out the office, and it is currently being painted in preparation for its new life as a nursery. I hope to have most of the painting done by the end of this week. Pictures to follow.

Photo Stamps from Snapfish

I used to use Snapfish to develop pictures. Since we got our digital camera back in November 2003, I haven’t used them at all. However, I still get junk email from them advertising their services. Normally I just delete them, but I thought the photo-stamps looked particularly cool.

However, they’re way freaking expensive. So nevermind.

Bike & Build – Erin’s Summer Expedition

You’ll recall I recently posted about my sister’s graduation from college. I also mentioned that she’d soon be starting a cross-country bike trip. She’s leaving today from Annapolis, MD, and GOD-WILLING will end up in San Francisco on August 20. My family is flying out to meet her in San Fran, and I will have to make up for my lack of travel-edge by sending her lots of notes along the way.

She’s doing this trip with an organization called Bike & Build, which sponsors several per year. The bikers bike across the country, stopping periodically to perform repairs and construction on run-down and dilapidated homes in need of repair. They’ll stop in Colorado Springs for a week to “blitz build” a house from the ground up. Wow!

I am so excited for my sister, as this sounds like something that will really be an awesome experience. If I could, I’d take 3 months off of work and do it with her. It sounds like so much fun! Unfortunately that’s not a possibility.

Erin has said that she wants to document her trip on a blog of her very own, so she and I sat down on blogger a couple of weeks ago and put one together for her. I anticipate that it will be updated infrequently, if at all. I mean, really. If I had just spent the day biking and building, I think that posting to my blog might be very low on my priority list. I believe that sleeping would be number one. However, hopefully we’ll see the occasional post from her there. It’s in the links to the right, so check it out occasionally.

Good luck, Erin! We’ll be praying for you daily!

Neighbor Wars – Episode I

So our neighbors who lived next to us moved out and sold their house in, oh. . . March. We just now had a new family move in. So here’s my issue. They have a dog. A YAPPY dog. It’s a beagle/jack russell terrier mix. Casey loves having a dog next door. And a yappy dog means she is constantly reminded there is somebody right around the corner.

Anyway, I was mowing the lawn last weekend, and found in my yard what? That’s right, a nice little deposit. I could only assume that it was from our friend next door. So last night, we are making dinner, and Kate sees the dog on it’s leash in our front yard and says “Oh that’s nice. They’re letting their dog pee in our yard.”

Me: “Did you say something to them?”
Her: “Well. . . no.”

So I’m rather irate at this point, and I poke my head out the front door, and sure enough – dog in our yard (not doing anything at this point other than strain at the leash and try to get to me). I notice that not only has Princess (yes, that’s really her name) peed in our yard, she’s also left another lovely deposit. So I bend down and pet her and say hello. And as nicely as possible, I say to the lady at the other end of the leash something to the extent of “We’d appreciate it if you didn’t let your dog pee and poo in our yard. That’d be great. Thanks.”

To her credit, she was really nice about it, and apologized. I went back inside to get a bag to pick up the offending poo. And I was plotting with Kate what I would do if this kept up. What would be an appropriate response? Dropping the deposits right back in their yard? Flaming bags of said deposits set on their front porch? I was pretty riled up. I mean, really. HOW FREAKING RUDE.

Anyway, I went outside to pick up the poo, and it had VANISHED. They were nice enough to pick up the poo when they realized that this was actually something that bothers people. So I had to take back all the nasty things I said, and, fortunately for everybody involved, neighbor-wars were averted.

So I’ve determined that I can be pretty mean behind people’s backs and really nice to their faces. I’ve determined that nice wins, and I should start trying to be nice behind their backs as well.

Nationals Beat Braves, and I was There!

Two posts in one day! I’m on a roll. Or. . . something. I went to my first Washington Nationals game last night, and it was a blast. The worst part about it was the 45 minute-plus ride on the metro to get to and from the game (motion-sickness sucks). But the game itself and the experience was all I could have hoped for. I’m so glad baseball is back in DC.

The Nats lead for most of the game before Atlanta’s four runs in the top of the 8th gave them a 6-3 lead. I was sad to watch a bunch of people get up and leave before the National’s half of the inning. I bet they were even sadder when they heard that the Nats scored 5 runs to eventually win the game 8-6. Ha. Serves them right.

Attendance wasn’t tremendous, but there were enough people to make some noise. I hope the Nationals make the playoffs before they move out of RFK, because that place can get LOUD. Even with the diminished crowd last night, the metal bleachers were swaying with people jumping up and down after the Nationals rally in the 8th. I can’t imagine how nuts that place would be when it’s packed to the gills with people for a playoff game. I only attended a couple of Redskins games at RFK before they moved, but that place was ridiculous when it came to the noise level (Fed Ex can’t hold a candle to it, even with all the extra people they can fit in there).

So yeah. Go Nats.

PHC at Wolf Trap & Memorial Day Festivities

Last Friday, Kate and I went and saw A Prairie Home Companion at Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts (see it from the sky on Google Maps). It was quite a show. The weather was beautiful, the picnic packaged by Kate was yummy, and the entertainment was enjoyable.

There were several musical guests, two of which I really enjoyed. Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver did a couple of bluegrass numbers. Who knew I liked bluegrass? You can download some songs from various albums from the Discography section of their Web site. I highly recommend “Heartbreak Number Nine” from the album You Gotta Dig a Little Deeper.

We also saw Mari and Håkon Samuelsen, who are an enormously talented brother-sister duo hailing from Norway. They play the violin and cello, respectively, and performed several pieces. You can hear an arrangement of a Handel piece on their Web site, and “Mountain Vision” on the recording of Saturday’s PHC show, if you’re interested. I must say though, while these pieces are good online, watching and listening to these two do their thing live was UNBELIEVABLE.

We spent Sunday at Great Falls with my family for hiking and picnic (it was packed with people and dogs on what was another beautiful day). To round off the holiday weekend we went over to my parents house for a burgers and dogs on Monday night. My grandfather joined us, and we all stuffed ourselves silly. So here’s to our veterans and the sacrifices they made, and to our current troops defending our freedom abroad.

In other news, I felt the baby kick for the first time last week! I think we may have a little Pele on our hands. . .