The Shapiro Files

Monday, July 31, 2006


CakeFor the last few weeks, I had been planning a surprise 30th birthday party for Marcie, which, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t write about here at The Shapiro Files until the event had occurred. Well, the big event happened on Saturday (although Marcie’s actual birthday is tomorrow) and I’m so relieved that everything went according to plan (except for her arriving slightly later than anticipated — but that type of thing always seems to happen at surprise parties). Marcie was sufficiently shocked, everyone was well-fed, and a splendid time was had by all...well, at least I hope it was!

I have to admit that it was a little stressful at times doing all the planning, buying decorations and supplies, ordering all the food and the cake (very yummy!), and getting everyone invited — all under the veil of deception. Remind me to never apply for a job with the CIA. All that secrecy stuff was exhausting!

Of course, in the end, it was all worth it! I think this photo (thanks, Loren!) of the birthday girl’s arrival says it all:


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cereal Killer

Killer CerealI had my first cereal-related injury over the weekend. While doing the dishes Sunday night, I noticed some dried Special K debris on the upper inside rim of a bowl left in the sink since that morning. While trying to scrape off the dried bits with my thumbnail, a shockingly sharp edge made its way beneath my nail and into the nether regions found therein. Needless to say, the pain was most unpleasant and I’ve had to deal with hypersensitivity on the tip of my right thumb in the days since. Even as I type this, every click on the space bar is a painfully tangible reminder of that most unfortunate incident.

I guess the moral of the story is: Always clean your cereal bowl right away because cereal can be a lethal weapon if allowed to warp in milk then dry all day. Breakfast carefully, my friends.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Netflix Wrap-Up #13

Previous installments: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12

In the midst of all our many activities over the past couple of weeks, Marcie and I still managed to get through several more Netflix DVDs of films we missed last year. So without further ado, here’s what’s been playing at the Shapiro household lately:

Elizabethtown (2005) - I’m a big fan of writer/director Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous and Say Anything. So despite mixed reviews, I thought this film would still be worth checking out. As expected, the soundtrack was excellent (Crowe always uses great music in his films) and there were some very funny individual moments sprinkled throughout. But overall, the film was a bit of a mess. It’s hard to say just what movie Crowe was trying to make, but I have a feeling this wasn’t it. Perhaps a couple more drafts on the screenplay and he would have had something much better. My Netflix rating: 2 stars

Nine Lives (2005) - Nine short vignettes about nine different women (with some story overlaps), each shot in a single take. Excellent writing and wonderful acting all make for what was often a very moving experience (especially the devastating final vignette). Highly recommended. My Netflix rating: 5 stars

Everything is Illuminated (2005) - I have a feeling that if I had read the original Jonathan Safran Foer novel on which this film is based, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the movie as much as I did. My understanding is that book is much less linear and goes much deeper into the subject matter — particularly on the subject of the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941. But taken on its own, I was pleasantly surprised by this quirky little movie. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005) - As much as I always enjoy Sarah Silverman’s work, I was a little disappointed by this film. Comedy concerts are supposed to build momentum, but that wasn’t allowed to happen. The music videos (some quite funny on their own) kept interrupting the flow and the overall experience was consequently a little jarring. As this was originally a theatrical release, I suppose Silverman and director Liam Lynch had no choice but to put everything together into a single 72 minutes experience, whereas a straight-to-video release could have allowed the videos to appear as extra features instead. Oh well. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

The Weather Man (2005) - A little funny and a little sad. Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine were predictably great and there were several very effective scenes throughout. But in the end, the film had a bit of a “so what” quality. And did we really need the superfluous narration? Not a bad film, but just nothing special. My Netflix rating: 3 stars

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) - What could have been another trite retro-Noir film was redeemed (and deliberately subverted) by its wonderfully rich script, a playful self-awareness, and a terrific performance by Robert Downey Jr.. According to the guys at Filmspotting, at least one critic described this film as a movie in a movie in a movie. While that’s not entirely accurate, it does give some indication of what makes it so much fun. My Netflix rating: 4 stars

Monday, July 10, 2006

Celebrations, Crazy Squirrels, and Clapping Hands

One of the problems with getting behind in my blog writing is having a huge backlog of things to write about when I finally get time to post a new entry. So while much of what Marcie, Melody, and I have been up to lately can easily warrant several new blog entries, I’ll have to resign myself to the following bulleted list of highlights from the past few weeks if I’m ever going to get caught up!:

  • Celebrated my first Father’s Day
  • Melody enjoyed a visit from her adorable cousin Sarah (daughter of my brother Dan and his wife Kim)
  • Melody had another visit the following weekend by new friend Michael (son of my high school friend Michelle and her husband Mike)
  • Melody celebrated her first Independence Day at her grandparents’ house with all of her Lewis family cousins
  • We attended a party for Dreyton, son of our friends Adeline and Chris
  • We attended a baby naming for Natalie, daughter of our friends Stephanie and Peter
  • I woke up one morning to find that squirrels (or possibly a raccoon) ate almost all the beautiful inpatients I had planted in our backyard a couple of months earlier (very devastating!)
  • Just today, Melody acquired a brand-new “trick”: clapping her hands!
I’m just as behind in my photo uploading/posting activities, but here are a few relatively new ones that I’ve managed to get online (click on a picture for a larger image):

Melody and her proud papa on his first Father’s Day

Sarah pays Melody a visit

Tag, you’re it!