Summer vacation

…With Kates’ last day of school on Wednesday, she asked me to pick her up at 11 a.m. -- conveniently leaving out the part about me helping her clean up and pack her classroom belongings.

… but I helped. Grudgingly.

… A couple hours later we were on our way home, and beginning a relaxing, low-key, three-day vacation.

First, we stopped at the neighborhood Blockbuster for a handful of movies ( … rather than forking over, what, $20, for a late night showing chock full of teenie-boppers throwing popcorn and talking on their cell phones, more and more Kates and I are finding fun in grabbing an armload of movies every few months and spending days on end entranced in a movie marathon…), and then at Dairy Queen for a couple Mocha MooLates (mmm mmm good!)

And then. The movie watching began.

… we started with ‘Rumor Has It.’ … I remembered the reviews of this being a little cold when it was in the theater over the holidays, but Kates and I were intrigued by it, especially with its loaded cast -- hello Jennifer Aniston and our homeboy Mark Ruffalo. We even did our homework last December by going out and renting ‘The Graduate’ for a weekend (loved it!).

Still, my hopes for ‘Rumor’ weren’t so high. … Never mind that now. ‘Rumor’ was a charming little pseudo-sequel to ‘The Graduate’ with some wonderful and comical moments (the scene with Aniston’s character, having pieced together ‘The Graduate’ clues and talking to Ruffalo’s character while driving -- and Mrs. Robinson playing in the background -- was priceless), not to mention a sweet, heart-warming ending…. Not a classic, but a good flick.

… Next up: ‘March of the Penguins’ … It took us like three sittings to get through because Kates kept falling asleep, but there’s no denying this was a fascinating film!! Who knew penguins could be entertaining!?! … not to mention so intelligent, so innovative in the way they live and breed …

… Thursday started with breakfast at Frank’s Diner, a dining experience like no other, a downtown institution in our city since 1936, where celebrities have stopped and thousands of political debates have been scored. Then it was off to IKEA … woo hoo! A patio set, some bathroom additions and few frames later we were back to our movies …

And ‘The 40-year-old Virgin.’ … Not worth it. For months and months, I heard people talk about how laugh-out-loud HA-larious this film was … Nope. Nada. Nothing. Sure, there were funny moments and bits here and there. But too many scenes were repetitive and just plain stupid. …

… On Saturday night, we took in ‘Ice Age.’ The storyline is far from revolutionary. If you’ve seen ‘Shrek’ or ‘Finding Nemo,’ you know the gig. An odd-pairing of (insert creatures here) team up to help another (insert creature) whose lost his way. Along the way, the form a tight bond and help each other deal with their own issues/troubling pasts. … If there’s anything to watch in this flick, it’s the harried squirrel who can’t find a place to store his precious acorn. Again -- no classic, but a cute entertaining film …

… And finally, tonight -- ‘The Family Stone.’ … Similar to ‘Rumor Has It,’ Kates and I had seen the cool reviews for it when it was in the theaters over the holidays, but we were intrigued by the stellar cast. And again, we got our money’s worth. A great story, a striking dynamic among the family of characters, and an ending that’s touching, heart-warming and inspiring all at once …


And all too fast, my vacation is over.

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