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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Writer's Life 1/7 - Love, Football, Sci-Fi & Snow

I don't enjoy trashing books or films, as I know how much artists put into their work, so I considered not saying anything about how much I disliked Love, Actually (2003). I added it to my Netflix list only because it was touted as a favorite Christmas movie of Sara Stewart, one of the NY Post's critics. Set in London, it has an all-star lineup of Brit heavyweights, plus America's Laura Linney, always a welcome presence. It follows multiple story lines that eventually climax at a children's school play.To a point, some are interesting. The one I enjoyed most was Liam Neeson as a stepdad whose wife has died and whose pre-teen stepson has fallen into unrequited love, but even that was spoiled by an over the top pursuit. One aspect I hated was the gratuitous profanity, which was ridiculous in every case except that of the vulgar rock star on a comeback. Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean, does an amusing turn as a department store salesman/clerk. Although its heart is almost always in the right place, I was not swept up into the events as I was by the Christmas classics that have stood the test of time. It doesn't even approach the level of Scrooged (1988), which had great moments. It will be interesting to see how Love Actually will be remembered years hence. 332,000+ users at IMDb have rated it, forging to an impressive consensus of 7.7. I completely disagree. On a scale of five, 1.5. The film was written and directed by Richard Curtis, who has many credits as a screenwriter and only three as a director. The only other of his works I've seen is Bridget Jones' Diary (2001), which I liked. Those who prefer traditional holiday fare should pass. Not only is there much profanity, there is gratuitous nudity as well. Two of the characters are soft core porn stars. I shouldn't have been surprised by that now that porn is mainstream. For anyone who thinks I'm being an old fuddy-duddy, I liked Bad Santa (2003).

University of Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys was fired earlier this week after a 9-4 season that ended with a victory in the Holiday Bowl. He was done in by his support for his players' threat of a boycott of the game. 10 teammates were suspended following an investigation into a sexual assault allegation. The rest demanded their reinstatement, but eventually backed down. Claeys' loss is P.J. Fleck's gain. Fleck guided my alma mater, Western Michigan, to an 13-1 record, its only loss to powerful Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. It was the Bronco's third straight bowl appearance. His departure was expected. Good luck, sir, and thank you. Already six of his recruits are following him from WMU to Minnesota... As for the NFL's wild card weekend, the Raiders are down to their third string QB, Connor Cook, who will be making his first pro start vs. the Texans in Houston. A fine 12-win season seems to be dissolving into huge disappointment for the black and silver... I think Detroit has an excellent chance of winning in Seattle, where the Seahawks have been invincible the past few years. Their decline continued this season... I'd love to see the Dolphins beat the Steelers, but the recent history of these two teams points to an easy Pittsburgh victory... As for the Giants, Eli Manning is overdue to have a good game, and the Giants shouldn't be at all intimidated by playing on the frozen tundra, where they have won twice on their way to Super Bowl victories. I've finally remembered to mention how well they've drafted the past two seasons. Kudos to GM Jerry Reese.

The Post's Weird But True column mentions an appendectomy that led to the discovery of something that looks as if its out of science fiction. A Teratoma is a tumor made up of tissues, such as hair, muscle and bone. It occurs most often in the ovaries of women and testicles of men, and may be benign or malignant. Symptoms vary. A painful lump or swelling may be apparent. Some babies have a mass that can be seen on an ultrasound before birth. Treatment often involves surgery. In rare cases of malignancy, chemotherapy or radiation may be needed. Fortunately, it is rare, fewer than 20,000 cases per year in the USA. Here's a pic of one of the many available on the web:

The floating book shop was snowed-out today. Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of chores done without incident using my car. While parked near a playground I witnessed a scene that would be perfect for a modern Christmas flick - a dad pushing his little girl on a swing, each undeterred by the storm.
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