Good-bye 2008, I hardly knew ye

Well, good-bye 2008.

I’m happy to say I met some of my goals for the year, including: read Tom Sawyer; read Huckleberry Finn; run in a race; continue learning guitar; and finish the first draft of my book. Some goals, I didn’t make at all, such as: learn to yo-yo; brush up on my German; and edit our wedding video. Oh well.

One of the goals I listed for the year was: Create at least one new film. I’m happy to say I made TEN new films in 2008, and with two films from the year still needing to be edited, that number could bump up as high as 12. So, totally kicked ass at that goal.

I also had a goal of writing for a newsletter/magazine. I met this goal in April, when I wrote a short article for Minnesota Atheist Newsletter about an upcoming speaker. But I did even better when I wrote a review of the film WALL-E (see below), an essay on the definition of “atheism” and two on-line articles:one about Christmas and one discussing the Catholic Church’s forgiveness of John Lennon. That Christmas article was also accepted for posting at the Rake and Memoirs of a Godless Heathen. My definition of atheism essay was also published in the PIQUE (a secular humanist newsletter based in New York). I hope to do better with my writing in 2009. Things are looking promising. Century College accepted an essay I wrote to be published in their book Breathing In this spring.

March 22nd – Attended “American Atheists Convention” in Minneapolis with my friend Ryan. Got to meet Dr. Krauss, bought some awesome books, a fun t-shirt & Ryan introduced me to Baja Sol (a great Mexican fast food place). Also, it was nice to hear some mentally-stimulating talks for once.

May 14th – Jennifer and I celebrated Owen’s birthday with him by taking him to Nickelodeon Universe, Underwater Adventures and the Rainforest Café. A nice break in the middle of the week.

May 18th – Heard Grant Steves speak on cults, then hurried back home for Owen’s birthday party.

August 14th – Owen and I checked out the Twin Cities’ Railroad Train Museum, had lunch at Jimmy Johns, visited the library & hung out at a park we’d never been to…just for the heck of it. Another weekday well spent. Bonus: Owen fell asleep fast and easy that night.

August 25th – Jennifer and I visited Fort Snelling along with her immediate family. Got in for free, there were no crowds and we had a fun time. Afterwards, Jennifer’s parents treated us to dinner for our anniversary.

September 21st – A free day at Valleyfair thanks to my place of employment. The day was made even better spending it with two old friends and one new friend.

December 21st – Jennifer, Owen and I froze our asses off at Murphy’s Landing. A very cultural and appropriate (considering the season) activity. Bundled up under blankets with hot tea and cocoa when we got home.

December 25th – Happy Birthday, baby Jesus! The three of us traded gifts with each other, then drove to Jennifer’s parents’ house for more holiday fun, then off to her Uncle and Aunt’s place where the whole family celebrated. I played Wii, board games, the dice game, ate, drank & made eye contact with my wife everytime someone said something “Catholic”.

Okay, there were many, including my recent two hour+15 minute commute home. But the booby prize has to go to…
March 7th – Yeah, I was happy to be leaving Big Lake, but not happy to wake up the sickest I was all year. I felt like passing out on the table during closing, and especially enjoyed learning the man buying the house was a curmudgeon, then used what little strength I had to finish packing, then had to go pick up a moving truck (did I mention it was below zero?). I didn’t even have the strength to pull the ramp out of the truck I was so sick. Jennifer’s sister helped, but this meant I had to watch two toddlers. We had less help than we predicted, so it took a long time to load the truck. In the cold darkness, I nervously drove the big truck an hour away, with Jennifer driving behind, calling me to let me know when it was safe to change lanes. Her parents met us at the aparment long after their bedtime, and we unloaded the truck. Finally, at 11:00, I had to drive the truck an hour back to Big Lake. It was so cold, my frozen hands couldn’t locate where to plug in the truck, so I had to set my alarm for every two hours that night. I’d get up, don my coat and boots over my pajamas, then go sit in the truck for 15 minutes while it idled. A bad, bad day.

I saw six films at the theater in 2008 (okay, I actually saw seven – but I’m excluding Sweeney Todd as it was from 2007): 2 animated, 2 documentaries, 2 big-budget blockbusters. I’m happy to report they were all well worth the money (particularly The Dark Knight, which my friend Ryan paid for). Allow me to detail…

U2:3D – Holy cow! This documentary didn’t let up. I was actually hoping for it to chill out for a few minutes just so my heart rate would stop. I saw this at the iMax, which undoubtedly helped. Still, sweet footage, first-rate music. A

Horton Hears a Who – For the first time in nearly two years, my son joined my wife and I at the theater. I am pleased to report that he enjoyed himself to remain seated through the entire showing. A good movie based on a great book – way better than the film version of The Grinch. B+

Indiana Jones and the Obnoxiously Long Title – Decent fourth (but woefully delayed) outing in a great series. Better than Temple of Doom, not as good as Raiders or Last Crusade. Probably the worst of the six films I’m listing here, but still, worth a look. B

WALL-E – The best Pixar film ever (and that’s saying something), WALL-E was so fraught with cinematic bliss I didn’t even have time to realize how much it made me think until it was over. Unique among the films I saw at the theater in 2008, WALL-E was promptly added to my list of 50 best motion pictures of all time (Sorry, Rebecca, you’ve dropped off the list, but I still have a place in my heart for you). A+

The Dark Knight – Another outing at the iMax, Dark Knight was the best Batman film ever (though that’s not saying much). I jumped, I gasped, I gripped the armrest, I wondered why in hell they bothered with the two-face storyline. B

Religulous – Bill Maher is so full of himself, I thought I was watching Michael Moore at times. Regardless, Maher humorously made some excellent (and, at times, uncomfortable) points, culminating in his 10 minute Armageddon-back-dropped tirade against religion. Though I suspect he’s just preaching to the choir (pun intended), any movie that exposes religion as the pernicious fairy-tale that it is is alright in my book. B+

Of course, not every movie I saw this year was at the theater. The best film we rented was United 93, which, I think, is not only the first time I viewed a drama based on a historical event that happened in my lifetime (I’m just a tad too young for All the President’s Men to fit that bill), but also blurred the line between fiction and non-fiction. I had to make room for this amazing film on my top 50 list (Sorry, Mary Poppins, guess you’re not practically perfect in every way).

The worst film I saw this year was Umberto D, which is one of those films that film snobs watch so they can maintain their snobbiness. It was long, depressing and pointless. Oh – I guess I should mention Casper: A Spirited Beginning, which was so god-awful (pun intended) that my wife and I couldn’t even finish it.

2008’s word of the year: GEOCACHING.

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2 Responses to Good-bye 2008, I hardly knew ye

  1. Mike says:

    Man, that day you moved was the day from hell wasn’t it? I commend you for getting up the next morning to continue your life! I totally agree with you about Wall*e. I got it from Netflix on the day it was released and over the course of the next week I watched it 3 times. It was great!

  2. James says:

    Yeah, there were just too many terrible things piled up on top of each other that day. I mean, usually, if I'm sick, I just stay home from work. But I had no choice but to do the things scheduled for that day. Also, driving an hour to St. Paul & an hour back wouldn't have been so bad if I was a nervous wreck driving that truck. It was super cold that day, too. What really topped it off was being unable to get a good night's sleep that night, too, as I had to get up the next day and finish moving.
    Oh well. If that's the worst day I had in 2008, I'm willing to bet I had a much better year than millions of other people. So, not complaining, just noting…

    Oh – and, yeah – three cheers for WALL-E!

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