An Eventful Weekend

I enjoy my time away from work, but I wouldn’t classify myself as the sort that “lives for the weekend.” It’s not that I dislike free time, but sometimes my wife and I plan weekend overnighters or fun activities that are entertaining and stimulating on many levels, but hardly relaxing. For example, we are traveling to Yellowstone National Park at the beginning of June with her mom and step-dad; and while we are really looking forward to the extended weekend, it won’t be very relaxing. We tend to be very busy on our vacations, and come home exhausted from the massive amounts of fun we’ve been having. My weekends are often a lot like that. We have so much that we either need or want to accomplish that the weekend ends up going too fast and being just as busy as a day at work.

[Note: Don’t get me wrong: Yellowstone is probably my favorite place to go on vacation, and we will have loads of fun with my in-laws (I am one of the fortunate ones that really loves and enjoys time spent with my wife’s family). My point is we will have such a good time that we won’t come back re-energized for work the next day.]

I mention all this because this last weekend was one of the rare relaxing ones, where I felt like there was plenty of opportunity for leisure. We still had planned activities to attend, but they were generally sitting down activities. We had to sacrifice house cleaning and yard work to do some of them, but that is the price we had to pay.

I am sure nobody besides me really cares to read a recap of the weekend action, but I will write it anyway. That is kind of the primary driving force behind 99.9999% of all blogs anyway: overwhelming vanity.

1) NBA Playoffs: Utah Jazz vs. Golden State Warriors

Two of my three weekend nights (Friday and Sunday) were dominated by this second-round playoff series, so it only seems appropriate to mention this. I will write more about it later in the week for the sports blog/podcast of which I am a part (Utah SportsCast), and post excerpts on that here.

The only problem was that my mood for the rest of the evening was based almost completely on whether the Jazz won or lost. When they got worked over by Golden State on Friday night, I spent the rest of my time in a mélange of bitterness and irritation. That didn’t stop me from playing four hours’ worth of my new Xbox video game – Marvel: Ultimate Alliance – but trust me; I was bummed out the entire time. This is so stupid of me in retrospect, because I also got to spend that time with my wife. Unlike basically every stand-up comedian I have ever heard, I both love and like my wife (not the same thing, and don’t automatically go together) and we have so much fun together. I wouldn’t say I let the Utah Jazz come between us on that night, but it certainly colored the evening.

Then, when the Jazz won on Sunday, handing the Warriors their first home playoff loss of the postseason, I was ecstatic. In direct opposition to the frustration two nights before, I spent the next few hours with a giddy little smile on my face. I will write more about both games with the blog tomorrow, but it made for a poor beginning and a great conclusion to the weekend.

2) Spiderman 3

Aim and I went to see this in the theaters last Saturday, and I have very mixed feelings about it. To begin with, I am a big fan of Spidey, having read that series of comics for years. I also enjoyed the first two movies, and although I don’t think Tobey Maguire is completely perfect as Peter Parker/Spiderman, he does a fine job.

The third movie was pretty good, and held pretty well to the concepts that make the comic books so good: namely the struggles of Peter Parker and his escapist escapades as Spiderman. Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson became a much less pleasant character in this movie, and rather than alleviating Peter’s worries and heartache (as she promised she would do at the end of movie 2), she just adds a bunch more drama. One of the minor aspects of this storyline involves MJ being jealous of Peter’s popularity as Spiderman, although to be honest, Spidey starts to get a big head about things.

In the movie, Mary Jane ends up being terrible as a singer and actress, and loses her Broadway job. She then alienates Peter, because while things are finally going okay for him (for a change) they aren’t so hot for her. Peter was always supportive of her successes even when his life was in the toilet, but she doesn’t return that favor. Rather, she pushes him away for not “understanding,” even though he still lives in a flop house, is constantly late with rent, drives a moped, struggles with his responsibility for the death of his beloved uncle, has monstrous superhero battles with his best friend, contributed to the death of his mentor (and that same best friend’s father), is still being strung along by his editor at a newspaper that hates his alter ego, is responsible for the welfare of a city of millions, and somehow has to maintain college grades in the midst of everything else.

In spite of all that, Peter manages to be happy, for the first time in many years. MJ stinks as an actress, gets bad reviews, gets let go from her Broadway job, has to work in a jazz bar, and suddenly the world is coming apart. Then Peter is the jerk who doesn’t sacrifice his hard-earned happiness to lament with her. In the comics (and to a lesser extent, the first two movies), MJ is a happy, pleasant person who helps Peter unwind from the intense pressures of his life. MJ in movie three just piles more stress on the hero.

Anyway, the bad guys of this movie show up in the following order: Green Goblin (Harry taking over the family business), the Sandman, and then Venom. The famous symbiotic black Spiderman suit makes an appearance, although fortunately the movie producers chose a much better method of bringing it about than the comics. (In the comics Spiderman is invited to a superhero battle in space (really!), and bumps into the symbiote there.) The graphics and effects of the movie are very good – the best of the series, probably.

Not to give too much of the story away, but I was terribly disappointed with the use of Venom at the end of the show. The story of how Eddie Brock becomes Venom is preserved pretty well from the comics to the movie, and because that whole thing takes a while to develop, I can understand why he was only in the last twenty minutes or so. However, Venom was one of the very best villains in the entire comic storyline, and they could easily make an entire movie out of how dangerous he was to Peter/Spidey. For one thing, Venom doesn’t register with Peter’s “Spider Sense,” and because Venom is formed from the symbiote, Venom knows Peter’s identity, where he lives, his friends and family, everything. The ending could be construed as non-specific enough to allow Venom to return, but I think they should have kept the door wide open, rather than make it vague. It’s possible Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst are not interested in another Spiderman movie, and if so, maybe they made the correct decision. But Venom is way too interesting and dangerous a character to be wasted on twenty minutes of movie.

Finally, I think Topher Grace (Eddie Brock/Venom) may have made a better Peter Parker than Maguire. Not for this movie, of course, but from the beginning of the series. Again, Maguire does a fine job, and I don’t have any significant complaints, but there has always been something about him that makes me hard to accept him as a superhero. Then again, that is sort of a resounding theme in the “real life” alter ego of Peter Parker.

Spiderman 3 gets a score of 7 out of 10. Very good movie, but is marred by a few ridiculous scenes and things I didn’t like in the storyline.

3) Mother’s Day

Not much to recap here, except we visited my mom and my wife’s mom. We love them both very much, and had a nice time in each place. We are fortunate enough to have both mothers live within reasonable driving distance, so we have opportunities to see them on special occasions like this. I’m not really sure why I even mentioned it, except that I felt like it would be an oversight not to.

I guess that’s about it for the weekend. More coming very soon.

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