I took a walk with my dog this evening. Two miles around the neighborhood, I kept a leisurely pace and stopped every so often to take a picture. I noticed a lot of things, as I tend to do these days--the way the setting sun skimmed across the northern sides of the houses; the play of shadows on garage doors; the way a little breeze rippled the skirt of a mother at the elementary school playground, her hip thrust out to support one child as she watched another running through the grass. Mostly what I noticed was the quiet, though.

Of course, it's never completely quiet. A breeze would rustle the leaves of a jacaranda as I passed, or a car would drive by. As I crossed the mouth of one cul-de-sac, I heard the rumble of an air compressor and the shouts of childish delight at the simple joy of jumping in an inflatable castle. But these were only fleeting and sporadic. Mostly what I heard was my own footfalls, and the click-clack of my dog's claws on the concrete--the kinds of sounds you can only really notice against a backdrop of real quietness.

Arriving home, I set about filling the silence that now permeates my house, now that Juliette and the kids are 2500 miles away. The whir of the microwave, heating my meal of leftover rice and beans. Shelby Foote's mellifluous drawl as he chuckles over some anecdote revealing the character of some Confederate or Union general--still not enough to overcome the quiet, though, and I drifted off and dozed for a bit, awaking as "Ashokan Farewell" played over the credits. When was the last time I fell asleep on the couch? I don't know, but it's been a while.

This is what I've been doing every night for the past week, and what I imagine I'll do for the next week as well: filling the quiet. Being used to its absence--whether because of the laughter or tears of your children, or even just the television down the hall in our bedroom, lulling Juliette to sleep--quiet now just reminds me of how alone I am.

It's almost the same, though. I stay up late, just as I do when they're here, and my office is lit by the same dim lamp and bright computer screen as every night after Juliette turns in. And after, when I finally admit defeat to my own need for sleep, I walk into the same darkened hallway, and for a moment I can pretend that past each bedroom doorway will be one of them, quietly sleeping. And when I reach my own room, turn out the light, and slide under the blanket, in the dark I can pretend that Juliette is beside me, there just past the part of the bed that I can feel.

It's quiet, and I let the sound of my own breathing, my own heartbeat, carry me off to sleep. In the morning, things will look better again, and I'll be one day closer to seeing them again.


I estimate that I've seen each of the Toy Story movies at least fifteen times over the past four years. Those being Jason's most enduringly favorite movies over his life, that's no surprise, but in fact I've seen most of the Pixar features multiple times. Cars probably ten times, Cars 2 three or four, Finding Nemo seven or eight, A Bug's Life three, Up nine or ten. The one exception has been Wall-E, which I've seen exactly once, only because we don't own it. And now, of course, Brave.

I mention all of this because many of Pixar's movies hold up quite well to repeated viewings, even over a relatively short span of time. Some are better than others, but so far the only one that I find really grates on me is Cars 2, and, thankfully, Jason doesn't ask for that one often. By and large, though, I'm able to keep coming back to these movies and still enjoy them.

With that in mind, I'm curious to know how well Brave will fare after the fifth or tenth time I've seen it--as I'm sure Jason will insist on getting it as soon as the Blu-Ray comes out.

Now, overall I have to admit that I liked this movie quite a bit. As I've come to expect from Pixar, the animation and voice acting were superb, the comedy was well done, and there were moments of genuine emotion, especially near the climax. And while I agree with some of the critics who've wished that the filmmakers had done more to create a more feminist story (which is to say: one without princesses), I think that it's clear that the writers and directors were at least trying to break out of the typical family movie mold, and I think they deserve credit for that. It's been said before, but the fact that this company is so consistently able to churn out such high quality work is nothing short of astonishing.

Still, one of the things that struck me as I left the movie was how straightforward and simple the plot was. Unlike some recent favorites like Up and Toy Story 3, I never really felt very surprised by anything that happened, and if not for the fact that the voice acting was so good and the relationships so well realized, Brave might not have had much emotional impact for me.

Of course, throwing out an "if not for" like that sort of trivializes just how good those aspects were. Billy Connolly's distinctive voice has always been one of my favorites, and I don't think I've ever seen Emma Thompson not do well in a movie. And I've been a fan of Kelly Macdonald since No Country For Old Men made me go back and revisit her earlier work, so it was quite gratifying to hear her adding her talents to this movie as well.

And then there's all the rest: the wonderfully atmospheric setting, the comedy, the animation managing to be highly expressive with surprisingly few words, the characterization. There's a lot to admire about Brave.

So the question is, will all of that good stuff be enough to keep me coming back despite the sort of weak main plot? I think it most likely will, since after the twentieth viewing it's really the characters that hold my interest. Only time will tell, though.

Viewed: 6/29/2012 | Released: 6/22/2012 | Score: B+

IMDb Page

Water Baby

Water Baby

Eva loves being in water. She loves taking a bath, she loves the kiddie pool, and she loves the real pool. She hasn't been in the ocean yet, not really, but I'm sure she'll love that, too.



On Sunday we hauled the kiddie pool out of the garage for the first time this summer. It was also Eva's first time in there, so of course we both felt the need to document the occasion. Eva, of course, loved it, even though she wasn't such a fan of having sunscreen in her hair.

Del Mar

Del Mar

It's a bit of a cliche, but I like taking pictures of people taking pictures of people.



Eva wanted very much to get in on the game of Candyland that Jason and I were playing this morning. I would have gladly given her my spot, too, but it says very clearly on the box: "Ages 3+."