Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Its beginning to look a lot like.....

Now that Thanksgiving is past, I can let loose and let the 'Christmas' in me go wild. For my feelings on Christmas before Thanksgiving, you can check out my post from last year. First off, I am happy to report that we had a very nice Thanksgiving. We spent the holiday with my Aunt Marlene and Uncle Ron at their home in Brainerd. Of course, I ate way too much, but it was worth it. Everything was great from the turkey to the desert. Julie made her first pumpkin pie and it was AWESOME! Every year I struggle with how to explain what the day is all about to my kids and how to help them have a thankful attitude on more than one day of the year. I also still struggle with having a thankful attitude on a more consistent basis. We have much to be grateful for and it overwhelms me sometimes.

We decided to use what would probably be the last 'warm' weekend of the year the best way possible. On Friday we put up Christmas lights on the house. Looking at the picture, it doesn't look like much (well, to me anyway), but it took all day to complete. I guess at our previous home in California we had a system down and knew where to put the lights and power/extension cords. Here, it was completely new. A few trips were made to the local Target.

Saturday night, we went to the Holidazzle parade. The Holidazzle Parade can be described as a Disneyland Main Street Electrical parade at Christmas except you're not on Main Street and you're not at Disneyland. Also, its just a bit colder....just a bit. They run the parade down Nicolett Avenue in downtown Minneapolis at night. Julie and I were back here at Christmas in 1996 and we went to the Holidazzle was mind-numbing cold. I mean COLD and we ended up watching the parade from the Skyway. Not this was much more bearable. Thankfully, it was in the high 30s at parade time. It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed it.

Sunday, after church, I took the two older kids to see HAPPY FEET while Julie put up all of the XMAS decorations in the house. It feels good to have the Christmas spirit back and I'm glad I didn't see too much of it before Thanksgiving this year, despite the efforts of some friends back in Cali.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

T-Bone's Movie Minute

Welcome to the first 'T-Bone's Movie Minute' brought to you by I'd like to use this space to reflect on a movie that I have viewed recently, either at the theater or at home on DVD. In this first movie minute, I'd like to talk about one of each.

First up is a film that was a recent rental. The film was TSOTSI. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film earlier this year. Tsotsi is the name of the title character in the film. When translated into English, Tsotsi also means 'thug' or 'gangster' in the language spoken in the townships of South Africa, where the film takes place. In the film, Tsotsi is a brutal, cold-hearted person who runs with his a group of fellow thugs. Together, they spend each night looking for the next 'job,' hoping to score some money. Through a series of heart-breaking events, Tsotsi is forced to face his past and what made him the way he is and decide his course of action. This is one of those films that is required viewing for me from time to time. A film that sucker-punches me in the gut and leaves me on the floor in pain. In this film, you see the living conditions in the South African townships, the disparate lifestyle between the people living there and the people who are better off. You see what Apartheid left behind and how AIDS is a REAL problem in South Africa that cannot be ignored. It also had a pitch perfect ending. This film further cemented feelings in me after hearing stories from friends who spent time in South Africa earlier this what they saw and experienced impacted their lives greatly. This film is not easy to watch, but should be watched. This film helped me realize (once again) how much I have to be thankful for in life. It also helped me think about how much I squander on unimportant things.

The other film is one Julie and I were able to catch at the theater a few weeks ago. That film is MARIE ANTOINETTE. It was written and directed by Sofia Coppola, who also wrote and directed LOST IN TRANSLATION, my favorite film of a few years ago. At this point, you are either with me completely or I have lost you. I recommended LOST IN TRANSLATION to many friends after it came out and the reaction was 'loved it!' or 'that was the most boring 2 hrs. of my life and what was it exactly that Bill Murray said to Scarlett Johansson at the end of the film?' In my opinion, Sofia Coppola has a talent for evoking emotions and feelings that help me get lost in the moment through her use of the film's soundtrack, both music and the 'sound' of the environment, and the lack of dialogue in certain scenes. One example of this in LOST IN TRANSLATION is when Scarlett's character, Charlotte, travels to Kyoto (the film takes place in Japan) to explore. In this scene, music by the French band Air (now I have completely lost some of you....thanks for reading this far) is playing and Charlotte spies a traditional Japanese wedding procession. A lot of detail placed on Charlotte's point of view and what exactly she is looking at. I won't describe the whole scene, but to me it says so much about Charlotte's character without one word of dialogue. Its brilliant! Go watch it.

In MARIE ANTOINETTE, Sofia continues in this tradition. From the opening credits this film had me with its 'Sex Pistols-type' of font being used for the credits and Gang of Four's 'Natural's Not In It' being blared over the speakers. During the opening credits, there is a brief shot of Kirsten Dunst's Marie Antoinette reclining in a chair, getting a pedicure, like in the picture to the right. During this shot, after sampling some French pastry, she looks right into the camera with a grin on her face that I can't quite explain, but it let me know that was not going to be your ordinary French historical period costume drama. Along with the classical music one would expect to hear in a film like this, there is much 80's post-punk/new wave music (from the likes of Bow Wow Wow, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Adam and the Ants, and New Order to name a few) used throughout and it works so well. There are so many great shots and little moments in this movie to get lost in. Kirsten Dunst carried this film and she was extraordinary. Jason Schwartzman (who played the infamous Max Fischer from one of my other favorite films RUSHMORE) also turned in a good performance as King Louis XVI. My wife and I enjoyed it very much and you will too if you are willing to try something different and let go of what you come to expect from typical movie fare.

Now I know that these are two films that most of you won't care to see, but I would like to challenge you and try something new, hoping you will come away surprised.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Happy Halloween from the Cloyd's! (A.K.A. Mr. Incredible, Incredible Dog, Hot Chick, Cinderella, and Stitch) It was cold out there on the streets, a chilly 28 degrees. We decided not to keep the kids out for very long. We saw other intelligent parents driving their kids around the neighborhood, using their car as a warming hut. Need to remember that for next year, although it should not be as cold. The kids got plenty of candy none the less. Now I get to go eat it all............

Do a Good Turn

Julie and I started encouraging our son Cameron this past summer to think about joining scouting. In his case, Cub Scouts. We wanted him to start thinking outside of his own box, to learn new skills, and to have fun outside of the home. At the start of the school year, the local Cub Scout pack put on a information meeting for parents and future Cub Scouts. Cameron said he was interested.

We went and he ended up joining. I also volunteered to be an assistant den leader. It was my intention to invest more time into my kids when we moved to Minnesota. Back in California, I invested so much time into our church (which is not a bad thing) and started to realize that my kids were growing up rapidly and that I should do something about it. Well, here was an opportunity looking me right in the eye. I took it. Cameron and I have been enjoying it very much and it has provided some great time for us to spend together.

This last Saturday was the annual pack community service project. We spent the morning doing fall yard cleaning for an elderly couple who were too sick and too weak to do it for themselves. It was good to get Cameron out and do something for someone else and to explain to him why we were doing it. The Cub Scouts have the philosophy of 'do a good turn daily.' What that means is we should do something for someone else, whether it be big or small, every day. How simple and easy is that?

Well, we ended up filling 30 tall compost bags from Lowes with leaves. We could have spent the whole weekend there. It looked as if their yard had not been cleaned in a long time. We only stopped because we ran out of bags. Still, it was a good experience. The boys did as best as they could, but I think the parents did most of the work. That's OK though. I think the elderly couple were very grateful.