Saturday, August 18, 2007

Beach Week 2007: Hilton Head

Digital cameras are wonderful. Everyone has one and you get back from vacation with lots of photos. But there are a few drawbacks. The main problem is that since everyone has a camera then nobody has the camera. This results in lots of fun photos but you never seem to get that carefully-posed group photo that has everyone in it. This is the second year in which beach week came and went without a full group shot. We planned to take one in the sense that we expected to take one but we never planned in enough detail to actually get together in front of a camera and take the photo. From time to time we would think about grabbing a camera and rounding up the crew, but the younger generation all have cars of their own now, and school and jobs, and they tend to come and go during the week. Whenever the spirit would move us to take the photo we would think of someone who was not there but was due to arrive that evening. As people left I would sometimes grab a shot of them with the idea of "PhotoShopping" it into a group photo to be taken later, but later never came. Oh well... Next year we'll try again.

Even after weeding my photos down to about one in ten I still have way too many to post here. If you want to see the full tenth of the beach week photos visit my Beach Week 2007 Photoset on Flickr. I will post here a few photos that give the sense of the event. Starting before we left...

Jaxon on his way to the kennel.

This summer's family reunion was the first time I have spent more than a few hours in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I had driven through it once or twice before looking for a spot to spend an hour or two on the beach while taking a break from an all-day north-south trip. On those previous occasions I had gotten the impression that Hilton Head was, shall we say, not all about beach access for the casual beach-goer. Or more clearly: on those previous occasions I never did see the beach. I'm sure Hilton Head has the mandatory public beach access somewhere but after spending a week there I still don't have any idea where it might be.

My week at Hilton Head did little to dispel the idea that a bathing suit, a towel, a cooler and a big bottle of Bull Frog sunblock are not enough to get you to the beach on Hilton Head. You have to be ready to pony up some bucks to get there. As it happens, this year the family pooled our pennies and came up with the necessary pile-o-cash to rent a house for a week and now I have seen the beach. It looks like this:

Left to right: My sister, father, son, wife and random stranger who appears to be doing the "Hustle"

To find the house we stayed in you start on the beach at the spot shown above (Palmetto Dunes behind the Hotel) and proceed north about one mile to here:

No, we didn't rent either of these houses. I have no idea what a house right on the beach rents for but our pile-o-bucks wouldn't cover it. We are three rows back...

Look for the steps next to the big sign with the answer to all questions about what is allowed on the beach...


Up and over...


... down the path, hang a right ...


... just a bit farther...


... and there it is.


Here's the front door.

Three generations of Haslup males with a former-Haslup female included for scale.

View from the front porch in the morning.

A few of the permanent residents of Hilton Head Island

A few shots of the interior.


From the dining room looking into kitchen and living room..

Nice big kitchen.

Living room, featuring a dance number from High School Musical and my brother actually managing to ignore it and read the Half Blood Prince. (He also finished The Deathly Hallows during the week.)

When you stay on Hilton Head you simply must rent a bicycle.

Teleodaughter's perspective on beach riding.

Sturdy tourist-rental bikes can be had for thirty bucks a week...

... but they could be a bit bigger. I have a bit of the aspect of a clown riding a six-inch bike here.

If you are interested in shelling Hilton Head is not for you. While at the beach the Teleodaughter and I always informally compete to see who can find the biggest and best shark's teeth. This year's take: one rather small specimen found (grumble) by her... and none at all for me.

But this is not to say that there is noting to be found on the beach. This photo taken by my daughter suggests there may have been a starfish, for instance.


And this guy was fairly interesting. Evolutionary theory indentifies Horseshoe crabs are one of the oldest animals on Earth, having lived, essentially unchanged, for 350 million years. This individual is probably not quite that old...

Horseshoe crab with woman's foot (size 11) for scale.

I calculate that it would take 17,248 of these to make one standard-sized crab cake.

This year's new family member was CeeCee, my sister's new dog.

Most recent new family member

The Teleodaughter's self-portrait with CeeCee


I will finish with a few more random shots from my beach week photoset.

Savannah is an hour away and is a lovely southern city...

... with a tourist-friendly waterfront...

...and random stuff to encounter.

The Teleosprout's Cannon likes the dark better than my Kodak.

Another Teleosprout shot (of your truly).

The Teleodaughter beat me at Scrabble despite having mostly vowels...

... and my niece also beat me ...

... because I had all consonants and Klingon words are not allowed.

But mostly we walked...

... on the beach.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Cheap Critic: Shrek Third


If you are anything like me the first first question you asked yourself when you heard that they were doing a third installment of the Shrek saga was "How many films can they get out of this property before the wheels fall off?" Having seen the film now I can provide an answer: Exactly two.

The first film got its juice from snarky anti-Disney parody. The second film was done because there were things to be done with the characters above and beyond making fun of the Mouse. The third film was done because ... because, ... well, because they just decided to do a third film.


It's a bit of a pity, actually. Dreamworks has all of the stuff on hand to make a top notch film: A good cast that was familiar with their characters and turning in uniformly good performances; An established franchise so that less of the film must be spent on exposition and the action can start right away; a team of animators doing the best work of their careers, work that rivals Pixar for technical excellence; good art direction ... and stacks of money to spend. You could tell that everyone took a turn cranking the handle of the magic machine... but the dang thing just wouldn't kick over.

Shrek 3 is dull, lifeless, over-produced and under-funny. This isn't to say I didn't laugh at all: case in point is in a sequence where the baby ogres are playing with the baby dragon-donkeys. A dragon-donkey sneeze ignites a baby ogre fart and hilarity ensues. Not particularly high-brow humor but nicely done and funny. It's in the final sequence right before the end credits roll and it was the first laugh in the film for me.