Getting A Buzz


Woody and Buzz

Woody and Buzz

Really, it would have been tough to have a more diverse movie-going experience this weekend, than an almost-midnight show of Zombieland at the Monaco on Friday and a double feature of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 in 3-D on Sunday.

The former was enjoyable. I didn’t expect much, and was pleased that it was a lot of fun. My tolerances for scary and gory aren’t particularly high, and Zombieland skewed more toward comedy and romance, which made it enjoyable for me. Plus, awesome cameo toward the end.

The Toy Story experience was great. Pixar is almost too good at 3-D; I had the same feeling watching these that I did watching Up this summer (well, at least the same feeling about the 3-D) — the effects are so seemless that you almost don’t notice it. Pixar isn’t going to go for the typical 3-D gag of things flying out of the screen at you, and you leave realizing just how gratuitous a lot of 3-D is. That said, some of that gratuitousness has become part of what you expect, so it’s absence is almost disappointing.

Watching Toy Story on the big screen again, I thought it had aged pretty well. I remember going to see it when it first came out, and knowing that it was going to be a game-changer. Since then, however, Pixar has come a long way with their animation, and I was expecting Toy Story to look a little dated as a result. But, really — they do much better work with dogs now than they did then (heck, their dog work had improved dramatically just between the two Toy Storys, to say nothing of the incredible work in Up), but other than that, everything held up quite well. All in all, the evening was a lot of fun.

Wind And Water


SailboatMy dad bought the boat almost five years ago.

We’d had one once before, when I was in high school, and I’d sailed a small handful of times while I lived in Mississippi. So when I moved back to Huntsville, I immediately started trying to convince him he needed another one. After a couple of years, he agreed, and bought a small, 12-foot boat.

As it turns out, though, owning a boat and actually sailing are two very different things. After multiple summers of “we should take the boat out this year” not actually resulting in taking the boat out, I decided last year to start trying to persuade friends to go out instead.

Following the same pattern, “we should go sailing” last summer did not result in any actual sailing. So finally, last month, I started trying to move from idea to implementation, picking a weekend to go, starting some planning, etc.

I found some friends that were interested, and we started making plans. Since I was the only one who had sailed before, and the last time had been about a decade ago, I decided to invite a friend over from Mississippi who knows her stuff. When I acquiesced that she could be the captain, she agreed to come.

By mid-week last week, plans were starting to fall apart — my local friends realized that this weekend might not work for them as well as they’d hoped, and some other details were liking kind of iffy. But on Wednesday, I went over to my dad’s house to look over the boat with him, and to walk through the process of getting it ready to sail. And as I was remembering how everything worked, I could FEEL it — the tension in the sheets as the wind caught the sail and the boat angles through the water. And I decided then and there, that whatever it took, I was GOING to sail this weekend. No more “wouldn’t it be nice.” No more “that would have been fun.” No more wishing and regrets. If I had to drag the trailer to Guntersville with my bare hands, I was going sailing Saturday.

It ended up just being Shannon and I, which really worked out quite well. I’d forgotten more than I realized in the last ten years, and sailing on the lake was different from the gulf coast, and it just being the two of us made it easier and less stressful to give me time to try and regain my feel for sailing.

The whole day was a pleasant surprise. Like I said, the boat had never been out since my dad bought it, and I’d not even helped to rig a boat in the better part of two decades, and yet Shannon and I had no problems getting it set up and in the water. The weather was AMAZING; it was a beautiful day. I thought the wind was somewhat sporadic, and it did come and go some, but Shannon said part of what I was blaming on the wind was really just my own incompetence. Alas.

Any incompetence was 100 percent on my part, however. As soon as I turned over the tiller, our sailing experience changed, and Shannon showed me how it’s supposed to be done. By the end of our time on the water, I had gained a better feel for it, and think I’ll be a bit better prepared to go out next time. But it was an awesome experience — there’s nothing quite like the feel of a sailboat racing through the water, the wind catching the sails so that the boat is just a couple of degrees from capsizing, getting as much of its surface out of the water as possible to cut down on drag.

Realistically, this will probably be not only my first but also my last sailing excursion for 2009, but now that I know that the boat is waterworthy and fairly easy to set up, I’m definitely planning on not letting another summer pass without taking it out. Make your reservations now.

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