Archive for June, 2004

Movie Reviews

Posted by Arlo on Jun 18, 2004 under Movie Reviews

Summer’s here and it’s blockbuster season at the cineplex again. With a glut of big-budget, low-plot celluloid, an argument can be made that it’s the perfect time to avoid a Hollywood production. Me? I look forward to that magical weekend in April or May when the first mega-hit hopeful kicks off the weekly chain of movies that doesn’t let up until Labor Day.

Movie tickets are worth their weight in RAM nowadays. Once, the day after treating my wife to one of Hollywood’s finest, I made the mistake of opening my wallet. In the distance I heard a coyote howl and a small, lint tumbleweed blew out from between my credit cards. Now that the Juneau monopoly charges $8.75 for a regular showing and something only barely vale la pena for the matinees, you have to be prequalified for a loan before offering your date some popcorn and a soda. It’s quite understandable how many people look to the critics’ reviews before shelling out for a movie these days, but I don’t have to work very hard to justify trips to the theater. There are so many angles from which I can enjoy a movie that I rarely ever leave feeling like I threw my money away. (Cough-Battlefield Earth-Cough)

The Internet needs another amateur movie review site like I need another half-finished project, nonetheless I feel it’s my duty to share my opinion digitally. Figuring out how just how to do that is the hard part. Should I use my thumb or a varying number of symbols representing celestial bodies? Can I get my point across with another symbolic smashed fruit, or do you think I should fall back on the traditional A-through-F grading scale? I know! I could be the first person to come up with an incredibly detailed, 947-point scoring system that uses a matrix of variables such as “believability of visual effects,” “aspect ratio of lens utilized,” “supporting actors’ conviction,” and “applicability of songs licensed for the soundtrack,” to arrive at a precise percentage point designation for each movie. Has that been done already? Sounds like too much work, anyway. Nevermind.

Pre-millenium, I used to write some one-line movie reviews for the Whalesong, the student newspaper at UAS. Despite the lack of fame and fortune associated with my byline, I enjoyed doing it because it was fun and challenging, yet an eminently non-time consuming commitment. If I’m going to try to write a movie review for each movie I scrutinize, that’s the route I want to go. Especially if I can eliminate the “challenging” part.

Some of my friends’ movie opinions have made it painfully obvious that not everyone uses the same criteria to judge a film. That’s reasonable. I can appreciate that not everyone thinks that a movie full of fancy special effects is worth seeing. I don’t want to be responsible for someone spending their children’s college money on a movie they hate, so you’ll understand why I’m not terribly keen on giving recommendations. I think, instead, I’d rather write about what in a movie was worthwhile for me. So, if fashion is your thing and I write something like, “Boy, I sure did like the costume design in Shrek 2!” well, you’d better just whip out that debit card and get your butt to the theater.

I hereby deem that it will also be interesting if I arrange the summer movies in a best-to-worst fashion.

Oksana's 24th

Posted by Arlo on Jun 17, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Happy Birthday, Oksana, from Arlo and his hoe! (25k image)Today is Oksana’s 24th birthday. She called me from Vladivostok last night and the connection was easily the best U.S.-to-Russia connection we’ve ever had – it was like she was right there in the room with me! Though it was her birthday we were able to verbally celebrate, I felt like I was the one receiving a perfect gift.

Happy Birthday, Oksana. I can’t wait to see you next week.


Vacation Update

Posted by Arlo on Jun 12, 2004 under Life of Arlo

I’m on a plane right now, bound for Seattle (then Orlando, Philadelphia, Norfolk, and Nags Head – should stop moving in just over 24 hours). Considering the week I’ve had, this has been the first chance I’ve been able to even consider writing an update.

In the last couple days, I finally got the opportunity to talk to Oksana. She sounded… tired. I must admit, I expected to hear signs of emotional stress in her voice, but I have a feeling that she’s just too overwhelmed to react anymore. As I wrote earlier, a week ago today she arrived in Irkutsk to the worst possible news. Since then, she and her brother have been working non-stop to make all the necessary arrangements for their mother’s funeral.

Oksana had sent me an e-mail in which she mentioned that she would call as soon as she got back to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski on the 9th. It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, when I received her call a day early – I had forgotten to factor in the whole international dateline thing.

If I have my dates straight, Nadia’s funeral was held on the 10th and Oksana said that it went as well as could be expected. There were about 30 friends and family in attendance and… that’s about the extent of what I know. I never know how to handle conversations about death, even with my own wife, it seems. I didn’t press her for information, and she didn’t talk much about it.

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Bearing the Weight of Bad Tidings

Posted by Arlo on Jun 6, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Oksana and her mother at the wedding, 08-17-02My grandfather once told me that it doesn’t matter how well you plan things out, there will always be unexpected events to trip you up.

Of course, we were talking about finances, but I think that his lesson applies equally well to life in general.

Oksana and I have been looking forward to going on a vacation together since last December. Finances are really no longer a problem as we can save up vacation money fairly easily, but getting the time off from work is an entirely different matter. I have the university calendar year to plan around, while Oksana has to give consideration to her job at the Mendenhall Auto Center.

Fortunately, we knew far ahead of time what we wanted to do. There was a family reunion (on my father’s side) scheduled for late June in Daytona Beach, and we also wanted to visit my mom parents on the beach in N.C. We asked our respective bosses early and were lucky enough to find two weeks in June that we could both afford to be gone.

Even though we had such advance warning, Oksana and I made a mistake. Instead of booking our tickets as soon as we’d received permission from work, we procrastinated. We thought it would be okay since we still had more than six weeks to go V-day, but we underestimated the number of people who go on vacation in June. The flights weren’t full yet, but we lost our opportunity to purchase a “saver” ticket with our accumulated miles.

Further complicating matters, we needed to take a roundabout flight path. Alaska Airlines (where we have a mileage plan) only flies to a handful of cities on the East Coast, so in order to spend a week in both North Carolina and Florida, we decided to fly round-trip to Orlando and purchase another ticket to Norfolk, VA, on the side. We could have done all that by cashing in 40,000 miles and paying $144 each on airfare.

Instead, we ending up cashing in 73,000 miles, paid $175 to purchase 7,000 extra miles, and spent $250 each on the additional FL-to-VA tickets. Lesson learned.

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After the Wedding

Posted by Arlo on Jun 4, 2004 under Life of Arlo

Oksana's ParentsWarning: This one is long. I wrote this… wow… about a year ago now. I’ve been meaning to post it on my wedding page, but I still have some writing to do that chronicles what happened before this stuff. I had been waiting (in vain?) to complete that first. I’m posting this on my ‘blog, today, because it has some background information that not every knows about. Unfortunately, it’s background information for some bad news that I need to post tomorrow.

The day after our wedding, Oksana and I awoke in our opulent room at Pearson’s Pond. The room was expensive, but it was also comfortable a quiet. Lying there in the late morning, enjoying the distinct lack of stress, I decided that it was worth every penny. My only regret was that we were not able to stay there much longer – our checkout time was rapidly approaching.

The day before, Oksana had dropped off an overnight bag in our room. I was glad that I’d married a smart woman – it meant that I wouldn’t have to wear my tuxedo again. In fact, because I was back in casuals, we dropped it off on the way home.

Our arrival back at our apartment was a rather rude awakening. It seemed as though every item from the wedding and the reception was piled in up our living room and kitchen. Flowers, clothes, decorations, leftover cake, and computer gear was everywhere. For some inexplicable reason, there was a pair of men’s dress shows on the kitchen counter.

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Photoblog – May '04 Results

Posted by Arlo on Jun 1, 2004 under Website

Unique Visitor Results by DayI’ve been looking forward to today. May is over and it’s time to check the web stats for my Photoblog site! Let’s see what we’ve got:

The final count of unique visitors for the month of May was 37. If you’ve been reading along, you’ll recall that April had just 21. Remember, too, that April’s numbers were essentially “unadvertised” hits (those that came off the links I semi-discreetly placed only on my own web pages), while May’s included a mini-campaign to tell my online contacts about the Photoblog (via this ‘blog, e-mail signature tags, and changing my contact name in MSN Messenger to “”).

Looking over the details of my statistics, it’s interesting to note that the majority of referral hits came from the web log you’re reading right now. Those days where I wrote about the Photoblog site show definite spikes – 19 alone hits came from this ‘blog’s index page. The next biggest link referral came from, no surprise there.

Something I didn’t notice before were the number of return visitors. April had 60 visits from the 21 visitors, while May had 116 visits from 37. I can make a loose assumption that there are a fair number of people coming back to see more. That’s great!

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