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Archive for the ‘Family and Friends’ Category

As promised yesterday…  The first full weekend in December we get and decorate our Christmas tree!

A rainbow over the tree lot!

Tied to the top

Arriving at home

In the stand (with an assist from daughter Sarah)

Lit up! (from the right)

Lit up!! (from the left side)

And now we get to enjoy!!
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On This Day In:
2018 Weight / Health Update
What’s Happening With You?
2017 The Great Leveler
Conservative Depressions
2016 Election + 1 Month
2015 Dance And Sing
2014 A Measuring Stick For Progress
2013 Courtly Love Or Victory Over Habit
2012 Have We Met?
2011 Efficiently Useless

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Yesterday, Hil and I took advantage of a break in the rain to get the Christmas outside / house lights up…  Later today, the tree…  We have a family tradition of always getting and decorating the tree on the first full weekend of December.

X-mas House Lighting

Believe it or not, the morning weather was dense fog which burned off to sunny / partly cloudy.  These photos are about 3-3:30pm and it already looks like the sun is setting and it’s getting dark.  It isn’t.  These are just darkening storm clouds.  It was just starting to sprinkle as I took these shots.  Please excuse the poor focus.  Everybody ain’t able…  🙂
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On This Day In:
2018 No Reason To Turn
2017 Talking Knuth
Seeing It Through
2016 Hoping For The Best Come January
2015 Adaptive Security
2014 Wants
2013 Side Effects
2012 Just Trying To Earn A Living
2011 Productive Worry

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We are each of us angels with only one wing.  And we can only fly embracing each other.
  ―  Luciano de Crescenzo
[Happy 35th Anniversary, Hil
You still raise me up…
Love Always,
Your Kev
XXX
00
X
  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Happy 34th Anniversary, Hil!!
2017 Happy 33rd Anniversary, Hil!!
2016 Happy 32nd Anniversary, Hil!!
2015 Happy Anniversary Hil!!
2014 30th Wedding Anniversary
2013 Number 29 (And Counting)
2012 Hammer ‘N Roses
Happy Anniversary
2011 I Can Hear It Now

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Today’s reviews are for the book: “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©), written by Stephen King and the movie: “The Dark Tower” (2017), which is based on the book.
The Dark Tower” (2017) — movie review
This movie is based on the book by the same name.  Okay, it’s not exactly the same name.  The book is the first of a series (8 books in total) nominally called: “The Dark Tower Series“, all written by horror writer Stephen King.  The movie, like the books, is a blending of science fiction / magic, American western lore / Arthurian legend, and dystopian future, with a bit of existential / quasi-religious philosophy thrown in for seasoning.
The movie stars Idris Elba as the titular “Gunslinger” (hero) named Roland Deschain, Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick (aka “the Man In Black”) (bad guy) and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers (the boy who must be saved by the Gunslinger).
Basically, we have a multi-universe tied together by a “Dark Tower” which separates all of the universes from the dark evils which would destroy / enslave them all if the tower should fall (ever be destroyed).  Somehow children have the ability to destroy the tower and the Man in Black sends his minions to kidnap them to be used to to this.  The “Gunslingers” are the defenders of the Tower.  At the start of the movie, they lose a major battle with the forces of darkness and Elba / Deschain is the sole survivor.  Disheartened, he seeks only to kill the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father (not to protect the Tower).
Blah, blah, blah, magic, gunfights and chase scenes ensue until we get to the main / concluding battle.  Three guesses who wins…  Three guesses who gets to be the sidekick and next “Gunslinger”…
So, is the movie any good?  How’s the acting and the special effects?  How closely does the movie match the book?  Well,…  The movie is okay.  It’s entertaining for a minor action / SciFi movie.   It’s definitely NOT great cinema.  The acting is fair to okay.  The special effects are a little better than “just” okay, but nothing ground-breaking and nothing we haven’t seen a dozen times (at least).  Not having read the entire series, I can’t say how closely the movie is to the series.  To the first book – not very closely at all.  Well, both have the two main characters, so there is that.  The boy is completely different in the movie.
Final recommendation: moderate. To be honest, I’m not a big fan or either Elba or McConaughey. I haven’t seen Elba in a lot of roles, so maybe I’m just not “there” yet. I’ve seen McConaughey in lots of different roles and I’m hard pressed to name one role where I got up saying, “That role makes him a star.”  He’s okay.  Even good, sometimes…  But I feel like he’s getting older and I’ve not seen a DiCaprio / “Inception” role / performance.  Again, maybe I’ve just missed it (the performance).
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” (1982©) — book review
As mentioned above, “TDT:TG” was written by Stephen King.  The book is actually a compilation of short stories which have been turned into a book.  I guess, more accurately, a series of books.  I haven’t read any of the other books, so I don’t know if they are also compilations or if they are actual true-form novels.
As mentioned above, the book is a western / feudal / dystopian story about a group of “knights” called “gunslingers” who are supposed to defend a Tower.  This first book, jumps around introducing the main character Roland Deschain who grows up as a knight-in-training and then sets about trying to find and kill a mysterious “Man-In-Black”.  The Man-In-Black has multiple names.  I just remembered him as “Walter” (which is used in this book).  Roland does a lot of wandering around (in a desert, mountains, a tunnel and a forest) and meets a boy named Jake, who he brings along on his “adventure”.
The “Tower” series of books is supposed to be the linch-pin for King’s writing career, tying together all of his other novels / stories.  I have only ever read “Salem’s Lot” and “Carrie”, and both of those were back in my Army days (1970’s) and I don’t remember any references to the “Tower” or the “Gunslingers”.
This book came to me from my son who says it is his favorite book series of all and that he has read the complete series multiple times…  Okay…
Final recommendation: give it a pass to moderate.  I don’t know if this is a book I would have read if it hadn’t come so highly recommended.  It reminded me a lot of the movie “Cloud Atlas” with the way it jumped around in time and location.  I didn’t enjoy that movie and I didn’t enjoy this book.  Or, at least most of it.
Again, if it hadn’t come so highly recommended, I would not have finished it.  The writing style is overly flowery / imagery.  I felt like the author was adding words to fill out the book length, not to actually make a point in the story.  I was repeatedly bored; waiting for something – anything – to happen.  Then, when things finally did happen, they still just weren’t interesting.
Having said all of this, in the last 20-30 pages, Roland finally confronts the Man-In-Black and they get into a lengthy philosophical conversation which I did (finally) find very interesting.  Almost interesting enough that I could imagine reading another one of the books.  The discussion is VERY briefly held in the movie, too.  But, it is almost an after-thought there.
Full disclosure: I got the book from my son after hearing there was a movie coming out.  He loaned me the book, but I never got around to reading it.  I saw the movie last year, but didn’t like (understand) it, so I was still not motivated to read the book.  Over the summer, my son asked about the book / movie and egged me on about reading the book (“give it a chance”).  Since I didn’t really remember the movie, I decided to read the book and then revisit the movie.  I did both, in that order.  I’m glad I did or the movie would still have made no sense.  This is definitely one of those cases where you need to read the book first, then see the movie.
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On This Day In:
2018 Land Of My Birth – Executive Order Notwithstanding
Keeping It Real…
2017 Use A Bigger Can
2016 Vote Tomorrow – 8 November 2016
2015 Old Bond
2014 Preferences
2013 Prudence
2012 Reason Against Reasons
2011 The 1% Rule Of Large Groups
2010 Going, Going, On…
Expect Mike
Wasted Again?
You Did?
Reflecting Plenty
Old Math
Mental Images
Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid
Learn
Nothing Feared Today
I Had Other Plans
Ratings…
Really?
Encourage Greatness

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Back on 29 October 1984, the restaurant pictured below was a fondue restaurant where I proposed to my (future) wife.  The table we sat at was located at the column just to the left of the door in the picture (between the two awnings).  The current restaurant is named: “Opa!” and serves Greek food.
The table in the following picture sits almost exactly where we sat back in 1984.  The floor-plan / table layout is completely different from back then.  Our table was a four-place table back then and there was another four-place table directly behind me (where the lady is sitting at the bar).  My wife would have been slightly to the left (her right) of where she is currently sitting and where I am is almost exactly where I got down on one knee to propose (in the aisle, between tables).
My wife has had Greek food before.  This was my first time…  We both enjoyed the starter and our main courses, and we loved our desserts!
Hil had the Baklava Sundae for her afters…  (We told the waitress about Hil’s birthday and it being the anniversary of our engagement and they put a candle on her ice cream!)
I enjoyed the Banana Bread Pudding for my afters…
All in all, mid-week (Tuesday) at 3:15pm was the perfect time to dine there.  When we entered, we were literally the only customers in the place.  Service was prompt, friendly and helpful with the waitress offering suggestions.  The food taste was new (to me), just different enough to seem “exotic”, and the meal / experience another unique memory for us to add to our list of happy events together.
There is an axiom that you can never go home again.  Sometimes, “going back” doesn’t have to mean “being the same” to still be “great”…
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On This Day In:
2018 Forever
2017 Too Good To Be True
Plain Speaking
2016 She Is Still Singing
2015 Don’t Complain
2014 Nothing Is The Same
Orange October (XII) – Giants Win Game 7 (3 To 2) And World Series (4 To 3)
2013 Hours, Days, And Years
2012 In Kev Are In Hil
2011 No Game, Didn’t Really Happen
A Good Post

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Falling In Love & Yes!!

Thirty-five years ago, my girlfriend (Hilary) and I got dressed up and went to try out a fondue restaurant which had opened in town (Walnut Creek, CA)…  It was also her birthday!

Photo of Hil and Kev 29 October 1984

Hil’s Birthday 1984 and our Pre-engagement Photo (Hil in her little black dress)

I had written to Hil’s father (in advance) asking his permission for her hand and he gave his blessing.  We had just met (a little over five months earlier) in May.
We were (and are) very much in love.  I got down on one knee in-between the tables and I asked Hil to marry me…
She said: “Yes!“, and we were married in early December.   Thirty-five years later, the rest is history (and the unwritten future…)
[Happy Birthday, Hil !!
All my love,
— ALWAYS —
Your Kev
(XXX – OOO – XXX) ]
PS:  The fondue restaurant is no longer there.  It is now a Greek restaurant.  We will be going there (for an early dinner) to check it out.
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On This Day In:
2018 Forever
2017 Too Good To Be True
Plain Speaking
2016 She Is Still Singing
2015 Don’t Complain
2014 Nothing Is The Same
Orange October (XII) – Giants Win Game 7 (3 To 2) And World Series (4 To 3)
2013 Hours, Days, And Years
2012 In Kev Are In Hil
2011 No Game, Didn’t Really Happen
A Good Post

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Earlier this week I got a call from my cousin Michael (from Arizona) saying he would be in the Bay Area and he would like to visit with me and my brother (Sean).  It turned out he was going to be visiting / staying with his niece about two miles from my brother’s house, so I said I’d pick him (Mike) up and we’d go visit there (Sean’s) for a few hours.  My brother is on dialysis four days a week, so he is hooked up to a machine for several hours at a time or recovering from being hooked up.  I called Sean to make sure he was up for a visi,t and Friday, the three of us got together.

Sean & Mike (trading colors)

My brother (Sean) & my cousin (Michael Romero)

Me & my cousin (Michael Romero)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been over 10 years since Sean and I drove down to Phoenix and visited Mike (and his family) at his house.  I had to go down there for a business meeting, so I offered to pay the costs for Sean and his son to drive down with me.  That way we could also make some side trips (to the Grand Canyon and to Yosemite).  (This was before my AFib and Sean’s kidney failure.)
Anyway, it was terrific to see my cousin Michael again!  (And, see my brother Sean, too, of course.)  And, yes we talked Warriors, Niners and Raiders.
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On This Day In:
2018 Forests, Shorelines And Mountain Paths
2017 Reach Down
2016 And Women When You Are 59
2015 Intersections, Explorations And Relationships
2014 [!(±*=)/≠], [!<]
Orange October (XI) – Giants Win Game 5 (5 To 0)!!!
2013 Hard To Deserve
2012 Cloudy Between Games
Admiration, n.
2011 One, Two, Three – Blink

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