Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today I am Thankful For...

1. My wife not having any acute changes in the condition of her spine, which was a significant concern yesterday morning when she awoke with severe back pain of the kind she was experiencing before her cancer diagnosis last year. X-Rays yesterday afternoon showed no changes to the vertebrae in and around her surgery site, and as of last night she was feeling a little bit better than she was earlier in the day.

2. The love and caring of family, friends, and co-workers across town and across the country.
Not enough can be said, especially over the last few years, but more words don't do the feelings justice, so for those of you who I'm fortunate enough to be able to associate with in a positive way, you know who you are.

3. The promise of our children and the nurturing of their gifts and abilities, as evidenced by yet more accolades for the Orange and Black, the GJHS student newspaper. The staff and advisor Mark Newton continue to distinguish themselves, this time by winning the Newspaper Sweepstakes competition of the Colorado High School Press Association for Class 5A High Schools.

Additionally, the newest edition of the paper contains among other things a comprehensive discussion of school security issues. If you can grab a copy at the school or someplace else, check it all out. This group knows how to ply its' chosen trade. Well done, and keep it coming.

4. The freedoms inherent in our system of government, tempered by the responsibility to be an active participant in that government by taking the time to inform oneself on the issues, being proactive with our elected representatives, and voting.

One of those freedoms includes creative expression, as evidenced by the collective work of the late Robert Altman, one of my favorite, if not most admired film directors who passed away earlier this week. One of my fondest memories of the movies is going to the generic mall cinema outside Monaca, PA when I was 15 with my mother and brother to see Nashville. There were maybe about 75 people in the theater, and we were the only ones laughing our heads off. Maybe it hit too close home for some people, but for me it was a big funny slice of America in the 70's, and still is.

Altman's films didn't always work for me, but when they did they displayed an intelligence and ring of truth that came from sharp writing, multiple story lines, and overlapping dialogue that sounds like real conversation (what a concept, huh?). My favorites that are emblematic of what has come to be known as the "Altman Style" include M*A*S*H, Short Cuts, Ready-To-Wear, The Player, and his last film, A Prairie Home Companion. His sendup of 70's nuptials, A Wedding, starred Carol Burnett in her prime. It's on my short list of older movies to see, and hopefully it will be available soon as part of some type of "Altman Masterworks DVD Collection".

Altman could also make some weird, funny films as well. Someone uploaded
Brewster McCloud to YouTube in 10 segments. It is still as innovative and funny as when I first saw it as a teenager. I can see why Universal Music might be a bit peeved at this capability, though.

It was fitting that he got his honorary Oscar this year while he was alive, and when Crash won Best Picture. That film, along with Magnolia, are among some great examples of successful uses of ensemble casts and interweaving story lines by other filmmakers. Mr. Altman left a great life's work behind, and hopefully it will continue to be enjoyed extensively by future generations.

5. Finally, I'm thankful to you, for being willing and able to take the time to read this today. Enjoy your day of Thanksgiving with whomever is important to you. Tomorrow starts something else entirely.

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