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Home from the Holidays

January 9, 2007

Well, we’re back. The holidays were lovely–really warm in South Carolina and snowy-cold in North Carolina. Family everywhere. My only big regret is not getting to see my brother Jason, who was down in Charleston with a kidney stone and didn’t want to sit in a car for two hours. What a wimp.

Other than that, though, a fine time was had by all. I read a Russian vampire novel (the very good Night Watch, basis for the equally good but somewhat more confusing film) and most of Howards End. Gwyn read Eragon and is most of the way through Eldest. She thinks they’re pretty good, while acknowledging their derivativeness.

That must be why, given our first chance in six months to go to a movie without the kids, we chose to see the film version of Eragon. As an adpatation, Gwyn says it falls way short of the mark, taking out all of the most interesting parts and replacing them with standard Hollywood action crap. I, however, can evaluate the film without holding it up against the book. So I can honestly say that Eragon might be the most spectacularly bad film I’ve seen in ten years, maybe ever. It’s so bad I’m not even going to do much of a review–I’ll just say that the strongest emotion it evoked in me was embarassment for John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons, who were either tricked or blackmailed, or else they aren’t nearly as smart as I had once assumed. It was mainly their presence that reassured me that the movie wouldn’t be that bad. They cannot be trusted, apparently.

Please don’t go see Eragon. The books are going to be a trilogy, and our only hope is to make the first film bomb so badly it won’t spawn sequels. How the author (who is desperately young but seems sincere and intelligent) went to the premiere and didn’t gnaw his own foot off in penance for releasing such a film on the world, I don’t know.

Be that as it may. We have returned. The homecoming was bitter-sweet. We are certainly extremely home-sick fo the South, and being there for two weeks, surrounded by our favorite people underlined the homesickness to an almost unbearable degree. But, we came home on New Year’s Eve to a foot of snow on the ground, glittering under a nearly full moon. Our walkway had been shovelled by our thoughtful neighbors, who had also left muffins in our kitchen since they rightly guessed our house had no food in it. Our other friends from down the road came over with a plow and cleared our driveway, doing in ten minutes what Gwyn and I couldn’t have finished in a week (we have a very long driveway). We felt very taken care of, and it really was good to be home.

Best Christmas gift? For Ian it was certainly the new drum set (much bigger and louder). For me, an MP3 player, bringing me firmly into the culture of two or three years ago. I’m using it right now to listen to a recorded books version of Don Quixote, but I also ripped music from family and friends all across the South: Aimee Mann and the Beatles from my step-father, Rush from my brother Alex, Billy Joel from Mom, and much music (ranging from Johnny Cash to Green Day) from my friend Chad, who we spent one night with between Carolinas. Good books and music as well, which are always welcome.

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