Periodic Pingback: The love stories of Toy Story

26 January 2011

Once again, time for Periodic Pingback — me passing on to you delectable little hors-d’oeuvre-sized bits of the Internet for your edification and enjoyment.  (My, what big words you use, Ray …)  Believe it or not, this latest morsel ties together the subjects of my last two blog entries: commitment in marriage, and the Academy Awards nominations.

One of the ten nominees for the Best Picture Oscar this year (and a shoo-in to win Best Animated Feature) is Toy Story 3, the conclusion of Pixar’s trilogy starring Woody, Buzz and their clan of loved-on playthings.  If you saw it, you know what a masterwork it was, and how many emotional buttons it pushed.  (Yeah, I got teary-eyed at the end, I admit it.)  But what, you might ask, does it have to do with marriage?

More than you might think.  I don’t know who the new blogger who calls himself “Some Guy on the Net” is in real life, but he posted a piece called “The Love Stories of Toy Story” that is so well-written and insightful that it was actually picked as one of last week’s daily links at, the premier website for film fans.  In it he hits a lot of the notes that I was attempting to hit in my post “The anniversary that wasn’t” … only he did it better than me, and used a much more entertaining jumping-off point.  Check out the full text here, and then maybe go and give your significant other a big hug.  Along with a chorus of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” …


The anniversary that wasn’t

24 January 2011

Yesterday was my wife Nina’s and my twelfth wedding anniversary.  Nowadays, it seems like spending twelve years married to the same person without committing a homicide is fairly rare, and considering some of the problems we’ve had to work through over that time (internal and external), we do rather feel we’ve beaten the odds.  So it’s kind of a big deal, certainly worthy of a celebration.

And what did we do yesterday to commemorate such a momentous occasion?  Well … pretty much nothing.

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Ever since I gave up control, I feel so much better …

20 December 2010

This is a work in progress, so bear with me …

Granted the last year and a half have been a little bumpy for me.  If you read this space with any regularity, you know the details, so I won’t inundate/bore/depress you with them again.  (If you’re new here, use the search box and type in “Leigh’s disease,” “CMT,” “Mom,” “stress” and “death” and you’ll get caught up fast.  But don’t say you weren’t warned.)  But it’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good, and I like to think that I’m learning a few things in the midst of it all.

And probably the most important thing I’m picking up is on letting go.

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“Mom has a problem” (a parable)

12 August 2010

(Blogger’s note: the following is something I wrote up in 2008 or 2009, I forget.  I came across it again recently and thought it might be worth sharing with my fellow denizens of Outside-the-Camp (Hebrews 13:13).  Enjoy!)

Mom has a problem.

I’ve been around her my whole life, and for most of that time I wasn’t really aware that anything about her was unusual.  That’s normal for kids – you don’t have the benefit of experience to tell you when something (or someone) isn’t quite right.  But now that I’m an adult, the conclusion is unavoidable.

It’s clear.  Mom has a problem.

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The definition of marriage

10 August 2010

The following is an idea that I’ve had in the file for months — I figured I’d get around to it eventually.  But all the controversy surrounding the overturning of California’s Proposition 8 kind of brings it to the front burner.

To recap the situation for non-Californians and/or people who don’t follow sexual politics: in November 2008, Golden State voters, by a small margin (52% to 48%) passed Proposition 8, aka “the California Marriage Protection Act.”  It amended the state constitution’s Declaration of Rights, saying that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”  The proposition overturned a California Supreme Court ruling from earlier in the year, allowing people of the same sex to marry.   (Full disclosure: I voted for it, too.)  Needless to say, Proposition 8’s victory generated some controversy among homosexual activists and those who support them, many of whom were quite vehement in their denunciation of the vote.

(As an aside, you know who probably was most responsible for Proposition 8 passing?  Barack Obama.  No, really.  Obama’s presence on the ballot, naturally, caused a huge increase in the number of African-Americans going to the polls that election — and African-Americans voted in favor of Proposition 8 by something like a 7-to-1 margin.  Bet you’ll never hear Keith Olbermann or Sean Penn bring that up.  Or, for that matter, Bill O’Reilly or Randy Thomasson …)

Well, the opponents of Proposition 8 sued, and last week federal district court judge Vaughn Walker ruled the proposition unconstitutional, citing the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  (The Fourteenth Amendment, incidentally, was voted into the Constitution during Reconstruction to protect newly freed black slaves.  That 7-to-1 margin makes more sense now, doesn’t it?)  However, at present he hasn’t formally entered his ruling and is allowing for further motions from both sides.

So now supporters of Proposition 8 — including most American evangelicals — are the ones up in arms, decrying the ruling as an attack on the institution of marriage.  One person I’ve read said that pretty soon one will legally be able to marry one’s dog or cat, at the rate things are going.  (No, I’m not kidding, someone said that!)  Regardless, the case is expected to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and whoever loses there will undoubtedly appeal it again to the Supreme Court; that’s how these things usually go.

In the midst of all this, I have a question: What is the definition of a marriage?

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The problems with critics

23 July 2010

For the last few months, I’ve been looking forward to the release of the film Inception, director Christopher Nolan’s latest mindbender.  The first teaser I saw blew me away, not only with its special effects (and I’m not normally impressed much by gaudy F/X) but with its basic premise of planting and extracting thoughts from minds, of playing games with perception and reality.  I like movies that mess with my head a little (Being John Malkovich is still a favorite of mine).  And if said movie features an all-star cast of great actors — Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Ellen Page, Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page and Ellen Page, to name a few — so much the better.

Oh, and did I mention the movie has Ellen Page in it?  That’s a big point in its favor too.  (I’m fully on the “Ellen Page is cute” bandwagon.  My wife of 11 years is tolerating it wonderfully — probably because she knows that if all else fails, she can bring up her long-standing feelings about Brian Boitano or Joe Montana and leave me in knots.  Of such checks and balances is a great marriage made.)

So I was pretty stoked leading up to the July 16 drop date for Inception … only to have an early review of it set me back on my heels.

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It was twelve years ago today …

19 June 2010

I find alternative history to be fascinating.  If you’re not familiar with what that term means, “alternative history” refers to exploring what could have occurred if a particular historical event had turned out differently, extrapolating from that change how subsequent events might have changed as well.  What if the South had won the Civil War, or the Germans had stayed with the Schlieffen Plan in World War I, or major league baseball had become fully integrated in the 1880s instead of the 1950s.  (All of which came close to happening.)  A lot of great books of recent years have been based on this concept, including Military History Quarterly’s What If? series and Michael Chabon’s award-winning novel The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

Playing the “what-if” game is an interesting exercise when dealing with key historical moments – and maybe even more so when dealing with key personal ones.  Think of the movies Sliding Doors, The Family Man, 13 Going on 30 and The Butterfly Effect, all of which hinge on how the protagonists’ lives are affected by a single decision.  (I guess you could throw It’s A Wonderful Life in there as well.)  Or think of your own (hopefully) wonderful life, and how different choices might have changed it.  What if I had stuck with my high school sweetheart instead of meeting someone new at college?  What if I’d applied for that job instead of this one?  What if I’d gone to the club with my friends rather than staying home and watching Seinfeld reruns?  What if I hadn’t taken a swing at that cop? For good or ill, our decisions shape our future.

My point, you may ask?  (Yes, I have one.)  Well, Peabody, let’s set the Wayback Machine to June 19, 1998 – twelve years ago – and the rock concert I didn’t attend …

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