Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Maybe I Should Have Waited a Month Before My Grand Declaration for the Future

Reviews and humour and thoughts and magic and kid pictures will flow like a fine maple syrup on this blog, but probably won't be doing such a thing until after August 20th. This is something that I knew for months, yet still thought my post from last week was a thing that I should write right away. There will hopefully still be some articles and maybe (a very small and miniscule maybe) a few movie reviews on here in the next four weeks, but there is almost definitely going to be a few several day droughts due to my upcoming limited access to Wi-Fi. I am well aware this may resemble a ghost town, but this isn't me just tripping into the emotional abyss for every 6 days. I will be a little engine that could, and hope that I will have a piping hot plate of words to serve up on a semi-regular basis over the next several weeks (though between July 30th and August 5th, there is likely to be almost nothing on here, as well as a few other 3 day periods later on).

What I know will be posted on here every Monday is The Breakdown podcast, because those are recorded and ready for listening. Next Monday, we have a show that really is to the styles, strengths and flavour of me and Scott's reviewing with The Breakdown of Box Office Flops. We like trying to find the gem amongst what others regard as trash, and I will spoil that there is at least one movie (but maybe so many more) that we both agree is worth checking out.

Then on August 7th is a show that embodies much of my childhood and brimming with nostalgic goodness in our The Breakdown of Totally 80s. We looks at such 1980s pieces of magic like E.T., Romancing the Stone, and The Karate Kid. Almost every movie on that show held a pretty special place in my heart as a kid, so it was exciting revisiting them and seeing if they held up. It was also interesting seeing how my childhood treasures were different than Scott's own. A few movies are bestowed with the cherished 4 stars.

The next stop for the podcast is August 14th, which happens to be our 200th episode. Scott is still reeling over the fact that we didn't do anything special for the 100th episode, so this time we explore what we have learned and experienced doing a movie review podcast over these past 5 years with The Breakdown of What We Learned After 200 Episodes. Unfortunately, we had some technical difficulties with this show, and we lost a good 30 minutes of it that we were unable to recover. It is still a great show and worth looking forward to it, and you may not even notice that some audio was cut other than it is shorter than most of our recent shows.

Finally, our last in-the-can show has a theme that we have wanted to do for over a year now with The Breakdown of Genre Filmmakers. We explore the directors who are most associated with films like horror or sci-fi or other mid-budget genre fare. It is a great show to introduce you to talented directors that are worth checking out while also discussing some of the movies that define them. Many of these directors have some of their work on Netflix, so many of you can check out their stuff right after the show. Synergy! That show will be coming your way on August 21st.

Now you know there will be our regular schedule of podcasts over the next month, and I think they are all pretty good and fun, but of course, I would say that. You will have to listen to them to see how accurate I am about that.

The goal is to have stuff up here as much as I ca until August 20th, then after that day there should be a slew of not-quite new releases reviews and other thoughts about how the world has changed over the last 26 or so days. This place will really rock and pop at the end of August, but until then, please stop by every few days (and every Monday), but also catch some sun, you're starting to look pasty.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Dunkirk', 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets' and 'Fantastic Four'

The Breakdown serves up another hot and tasy plate of new releases reviews with Christopher Nolan's foray into World War 2 in Dunkirk and as well Luc Besson campy space opera adventure, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. We also go all way the back to the distant year of 2015 to review the comic book misfire, Fantastic Four. As well we have some topic discussions where we debate if Netflix is right with their distribution model for their original movies and also if comedies still work as a theatrical experience after the string of high profil failures. As always if you love the show then please shout about it to the heavens so that other movie lovers may hear.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

Breakdown Outline:

01:39 Dunkirk review
20:45 Fantastic Four review
37:15 Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets review
55:07 Is Netlix right about the original movie distribution model?
1:06;42 Are comedies as theatrical movies now dead?
1:18:52 Box Office Analysis
1:25:33 Trailer Reviews: Justice League, Ready Player One, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Jigsaw, The Shape of Water
1:41:01 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Dunkirk ***½ (CS)
Fantastic Four ** (CS) & * (SM)
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets **** (CS)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes  $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $546 651 120 

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk $50 500 000
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $322 186 275

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Scott Finally Finished His Part of the Summer Box Office Challenge 2016 Bet

It has taken almost an entire year, but Scott has finally fulfilled his end of the bet that we made during last year's Summer Box Office Challenge. The contest was that we would both pick ten movies that we felt would have the highest domestic opening weekend, and the winner at the end of the summer got to pick three movies that the loser had to watch and review. I had picked Sex and the City 2, Superfast, and Smurfs 2. Then Scott took forever in watching the movies, so Superfast left Netflix before he got to it, so he had to watch the original Sex and the City movie, since the sequel seemed to be such a painful experience. So, you can now enjoy his pain as he goes back to New York City with his favourite sexy ladies in his latest review.

If you enjoy Scott reviewing awful movies, then you are in luck. We did the Summer Box Office Challenge again this year, and Scott has proven to be awful at it. It is inevitable he will be losing once again, so I get to pick three more atrocious movies for him to review. The hope is that he does it in a couple of months rather than an entire year, but we will see how that goes.

Ranking 2017 Movies So Far

I told myself that I wasn't going to do this again. I also told myself that I'd stop just doing podcast reviews of new releases and have a svelte army of kicking written reviews. I have done better this year with written reviews than the past. I think I have a whole spanking five or maybe even six written this year, and if all goes well, by the end of the year I might even enter into the double digits.

Except I'm now hoping yesterday's grand declaration was enough of a rocket booster to at least get me to do a few hundred word reviews of everything going forward into the forever and forever. Amen.

My brain gets all misfired and short-circuited if I don't have some type of spot to reveal what I've seen so far other than just the podcast. I am ranking from worse to best every 2017 movie that I've reviewed this year (and a few that the podcast missed).

It has been a pretty killer year so far, and it is shaping up to be one of the best since I started reviewing movies professionally (got paid) in 2012. Several of these movies deserve deeper and more thorough thoughts in the future, and some of them I hope to never ever see again. They all represent the year of 2017 in movie form. This list just like all things in the movie review realm can change on any given day, and it is almost assured that movies will swap places when I reveal my Top 10 (or 20) movies at the end of the year. This is how I feel about them at this very moment as I type this in my underwear (it is hot today, but not as sizzling as this list).

76. Deuces *
75. You Get Me *
74. Clinical *
73. Small Crimes *
72. The House *
71. Take the 10
70. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword *
69. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter *½
68. Going in Style *½
67. Baywatch
66. The Circle *½
65. Rough Night
64. iBoy **
63. XXX: Return of Xander Cage **
62. Underworld: Blood Wars **
61. Fist Fight **
60. In the Shadow of Iris **
59. Goon: The Last of the Enforcers **
58. David Brent: Life on the Road **
57. The Great Wall **
56. Girlfriend’s Day **
55. Sandy Wexler **
54. The Fate of the Furious **
53. Shimmer Lake **
52. The Discovery **
51. Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie **
50. War Machine **
49. A Cure for Wellness **
48. Most Hated Woman in America **
47. Coin Heist **
46. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press **½
45. Kong: Skull Island **½
44. Ballerina **½
43. Win It All **½
42. Slam **½
41. Life **½
40. Before I Wake **½
39. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tells No Tales **½
38. Alien: Covenant **½
37. Despicable Me 3 **½
36. Deidra and Laney Rob a Train **½
35. Lucid Dream ***
34. Pandora ***
33. Casting JonBenet ***
32. Snatched ***
31. Journey to Greenland ***
30. Tramps ***
29. El Faro De Las Orcas ***
28. The 101 Year Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared ***
27. Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower ***
26. Counterpunch ***
25. Rodney King ***
24. I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore ***
23. Before I Fall ***
22. Burning Sands ***
21. To the Bone ***
20. Cars 3 ***
19. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie ***
18. John Wick: Chapter 2 ***
17. The LEGO Batman Movie ***
16. The Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ***
15. Chasing Coral ***
14. Megan Leavey ***½
13. Oh, Hello On Broadway ***½
12. Imperial Dreams  ***½
11. Split ***½
10. Beauty and the Beast ***½
9. Okja ***½
8. The Girl with All the Gifts ***½
7. Get Out ***½
6. Wonder Woman ***½
5.  Spider-Man: Homecoming ***½
4. Baby Driver ***½
3. Logan ***½
2. War for the Planet of the Apes ****
1. The Big Sick ****

EDIT: The initial ranking was missing the number 8 movie, The Girl with All the Gifts.

A Whiff from the Bygone

My wardrobe consisting of the majority of the clothing purchased half a decade ago and my propensity to use cultural references that were almost fresh in the 1980s is enough proof that I'm not the paragon of cutting edge and timely. So, it is only fair that my blog churns out some dated material as well. As a follow-up to yesterday's confession/rant/reboot/exercise in self-indulgence, I'm going to try to play catch-up on some movie reviews, celebrity tributes, and not-so-hot news analysis that I've allowed to fly by over the past several years. I'm also going to even try to be relevant and personal and all the other stuff a writer is supposed to be as well, but there is a rather large catalogue of topics that I regret never delving into when they were hot and fresh. 

Plus it is always fun to tackle the challenge of writing about something way past newsworthy and try to make it relevant and valuable now. This won't just pertain to such fresh topics like Carrie Fisher or After Earth, but there is some stuff about Everett that happened in the pre-Danika era that I've been meaning to explore via prose. 

All this stuff will be made all the more interesting due to my fading memory and likely unintentional fictionalization of the reality because I'm remember it all wrong. Anyway, just a warning if you start wondering if Roddy Piper has suddenly passed away again to warrant an obit or if I'm referring to some little known remake that happens to have Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg (and an undead Bill Paxton) reprising their roles in 2 Guns. Nope, just me doing what I do best, be rather dated and behind the times.

Though speaking of hot and fresh, you should most definitely expect written reviews of new releases in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Dunkirk in the coming days (I may or may not see both movies tonight, as I have other writing to still tackle and my sole ruling of the kingdom is coming to an end).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

This Site May Start to Suck

My blog and podcast follower numbers are at their highest. This obviously gives me satisfaction, and more importantly, gives me motivation to work harder and produce better content. It also in theory means that I've been doing something right, because there has to be a reason people keep dropping by on a daily basis. The numbers still aren't big sponsor ready (though the current state of the Internet has made advertising far less lucrative) and after my two pitches towards Patreon, it has become obvious my readership/listenership isn't strong enough to be motivated to "donate" to my writing and recordings. The numbers are growing at a decent enough rate that I have a speckle of optimism that the site can grow and potentially lead to being a small part of my income (or just be what it has always been, a door to clients and writing for bigger sites that pay). 

While I have been happy with the work Scott and I do with the podcast, I largely feel a cloud of downpouring and electric shame over my blog. I confess most weeks that I feel the podcast can be deeper and tighter, but I am usually happy with the end product after recording. The blog has mostly frustrated me, even though I have complete control over its content and output rate. This is part of the reason that for the last two or three years, I keep posting pieces that declare a fresh and better start for the blog. In my odd and compulsive mind, my site can't start churning out greatness until I make a declaration that all things are anew. 

Of course, those posts really don't mean anything, and they mean even less if I just rewrite them every few months after weeks of posts of trailers, occasional reviews, and podcast promotion. The main reason for the "restarts" is because I want this site to be more than those things above. I keep telling myself I want it to resemble the articles that were posted on here in 2010 to 2012, but more professional and a stronger pop culture focus (with some occasional chronicles of my parenting adventures). I want it to have several pieces a day that range from hot takes on news, reviews of movies and television, variety of creative writing bits, humorous or thoughtful observations of my life, and be a place that provide some movie news along with deeper analysis pieces.

Except the more that I want to pile on here, the more it is one lone writer who also looks after kids during the day and has writing for other clients trying to be a one-stop shop site. Right there is kind of the problem, I am not the fastest of writers to begin with, but even with that hitch, that is way too much for any non-cyborg like being to tackle. 

It all gets worse because I am constantly hampered by the most productivity prohibitive form of perfectionism. This site could function quite well with a few 500ish word movie reviews a week, a few short pieces on news or movies, and a weekly larger thinkpiece. Part of the problem is my brain is a machine that pops out idea after idea at a rate that is far faster than my fingers can type and creates an itinerary that is far too much to ever finish in a week. This means I've often been taunted by pieces that I don't have time to give focus. It all is made worse when along with those taunts is a dark and insidious voice that says what I am currently writing or what I am planning to write isn't good enough or not the least bit interesting to anyone. Even if blog numbers or the occasional comments that I get contradict all that.

The worst thing about the voice is that it has meant that several reviews or thinkpieces that I've written will never to read by anyone because not only did I leave them unfinished, but eventually I deleted them with no way to recover them. This is something that has happened far too often, and is the epitome of foolishness for someone who feels that he never has enough time to get to all the projects and work. 

This blog is missing way, way, way too many written movie reviews from the past few years. Though at least in that case, most of them have been covered by the podcast. At times, I wonder if that is the best way to focus on my movie reviews. Though my gut and my mind won't stop nagging how important it is to have a written version and to try to go in avenues that are different than the ones explored by the podcast. The site is also missing tributes to celebrities like Carrie Fisher, George A. Romero, John G. Avildsen, Roddy Piper and Shirley Temple. It is missing pieces that have been bouncing around in my head regarding the modern (ridiculous and unhealthy) battle between conservatives and liberals, the dangers of hiding behind "fake news", how Everett's new events are more anxious for me than him, and only about fifty other ideas as well.

No matter how much people like my site or how great a single piece may turn out, I am nagged and dogged by the fact there should be way more and it should be way better. The easy solution is to quiet that nagging by writing one or two or ten of those pieces. It does get slightly harder when the brain doesn't help by adding in ten more each day. It gets even harder when the inner screams are tearing my work apart and making me fearful of exposing myself as a hack.

2017 has been a great year for movies (not much else), and there have been several movies that I could have championed on here. There have been some interesting themes and ideas that have arose from the type of movies that have been released this year that I have wanted to explore. I've done it to some extent, but not anywhere near to where I have wanted.

My point is I apologize. Apologize because I let those foolish voices win too often. I have it in my head that every piece needs to be ambitious and perfect and come hand delivered from heaven. My reviews need insight and analysis that no other writer was able to uncover. While my brain gives podcasts a pass and I have convinced myself trailer are piffling affairs that can posted swiftly before the echoes start up in my head, everything else gets hampered by my need for the composition of words to be award winners. Of course, that nasty voice forgets to mention you can't win literary awards with no words written and sites without daily content can't earn sponsors.

If my writing is to continue and I am going to meet each day despite the wall bouncing anxiety and the crippling self-doubt, then I have to accept that the voices aren't going anywhere any time soon. Instead of fearing them, I listen to them, I say "sure, you're right", and then write anyway. I accept what I just wrote was a steaming pile of awful and then subject all my readers to it anyway, The caveat being then I tell myself that I will try harder tomorrow and I will write better the next time. Then when that steaming pile of awful is posted, I tell myself there is tomorrow, and after that day there is tomorrow again. While I am at it, I will complete those disastrous novels and send out those putrid short stories, and I will get my rejections. Because maybe, just maybe, I will fool a publisher into liking my work, and everyone's taste turns out to slide towards the wretched, and my writing stumbles upon some success.

The bigger deal, is that if I keep on writing then the ideas clogging my head with get some release. If I write despite the voices screaming it is no good, maybe one day I will have written enough that one day that voice will say, "Okay, this was alright, maybe I'll give you a pass." Or I'll just laughing at that voice the same way that I do when Danika tries to convince me it was the dog that poured her cereal on her head. I have been around long enough to realize some voices are just straight-up wrong.

So, for the hundredth time, I promise this blog will have more content, but I will worry about the "better" for later. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

'Professor Marston & the Wonder Women' Trailer: Not Your Typical Super Hero Story

Fall is on its way and so that means all the Oscar bait trailers are starting to roll out. Nothing says Oscar bait like a biopic, and during the rise of superhero movies, I am shocked it has taken this long for there to be a movie about a comic book creator. Annapurna Pictures just released the first full trailer for its big fall feature in Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, which I had wrongfully believed was a documentary until I saw the trailer. Also based off this trailer, it seems to be far less about the creation of the iconic superhero, Wonder Woman, and more about the love triangle between Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and his mistress Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).

I don't know much about the actual history of these figures, but the movie seems to have some intriguing drama. I am now on team Evans after his great performance in Beauty and the Beast, and Hall has been great in everything she has been in. I hope that the movie does explore further some of the problematic contradictions of Wonder Woman created as a feminist icon but the mixed message coming out of those original stories. Plus it seems like Marston himself had some divergent views opposed to what Wonder Woman signifies now.

The timing is right for this movie to be a decent hit for Annapurna, since Wonder Woman was a smash hit movie this summer and so her name is hotter than it has been in a long time. Of course, the material of this movie is likely to appeal to those that often skip out on super hero movies and wait until October to return to the movie theatres.

It at least looks to move away from many of the typical biopic beats and is willing to delve into some more controversial and interesting material. It hope this doesn't just go full tawdry romance and does explore some of the interesting elements of the comic's creation.

'Alpha' Trailer: Caveboy and His Friendly Wild Wolf

Alpha is slated to be one of Sony/Columbia Pictures' original movies for 2018. It was initially scheduled for this September and was called The Solutrean. It is set 20, 000 years ago in Upper Paleolithic era Europe (though, it wouldn't have been called that then). It is about a young teenage caveman who gets lost on a hunting expedition after he is presumed dead and then forms a relationship with a wolf. It also apparently stars Kodi Smit-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Let Me In) but I did not recognize him at all as the lead in this trailer. I guess, I can credit either make-up and costume or the power of aging and growing out hair.

I really want to get excited for this movie. Any time there is a big studio production that isn't based off an established franchise, it is worth promoting and championing. But just being an original story isn't enough, it also needs to be good. I hate to say it, but this just doesn't look like a big studio movie but rather something out of an ambitious independent or a high budget TV series. I am going to assume that the date push is so that they can have more time on the post production and polish up the CGI. When we are world that gave us Jungle Book and War for the Planet of the Apes, this isn't going to cut it as a big movie event that is attempting to be taken as realistic and serious.

Speaking of being taken seriously, one of the early scenes where a cavemen is attacked by a savage animal elicited a laugh rather than fright. This the big problem with this trailer, it is coming off more as a parody of an early man move rather than the man fighting against and learning to respect nature story that it wants to be. Plus we've seen this story many times before with the survival tale in The Revenant, or hero bonding with the beast in The Good Dinosaur or even the cavemen tale in Quest for Fire. I'm not seeing anything new or interesting here, but I look forward to be proven wrong. I also thought Megan Leavey looked horribly generic and was a delightful surprise. What we need is more original movies and we need them to succeed. Though, we also need them to be actually original too.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Me This Week

As mentioned on this morning's The Breakdown.

In other news, yes, I have really sucked at posting written reviews on here again. But please check out this morning's show for glowing reviews for War for the Planet of the Apes and The Big Sick.

Also, not doing so swell on following through on my upcoming stuff post. Some of those will still be happening, but others will be replaced with something 100 times more awesome.

The Breakdown of "War for the Planet of the Apes", "The Big Sick", "To the Bone", "Chasing Coral", "Pixels", and Remembering George A. Romero

It is a huge week on The Breakdown as we have five big movie reviews including the much anticipated final chapter to what is one of the best trilogies ever, War for the Planet of the Apes. We also review a modern comedy that is actually getting critical praise and tries something cutting-edge like being funny in The Big Sick. We also look at Netflix originals in To the Bone and Chasing Coral. As well, we pay tribute to the man who created an entire horror subgenre in the zombie movie, George A. Romero. As always if you love the show then please spread the word so we can grow and get even better.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

The Breakdown Outline:

4:41 To the Bone review
27:36 War for the Planet of the Apes review
47:30 Chasing Coral review
58:57 The Big Sick review
1:13:46 Pixels review
1:26:58 Remebering George A. Romero
1:39:26 Trailer Reviews: A Wrinkle in Time, Darkest Hour, Birth of a DragonDave Made a MazeThe Layover
1:55:33 Box Office Analysis
2:02:22 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

To the Bone ***½ (CS & SM)
War for the Planet of the Apes **** (CS)
Chasing Coral *** (CS & SM)
The Big Sick **** (CS)
Pixels * (CS) & *½ (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1. Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2$145 049 000 
2. Spider-Man: Homecoming $117 015 000
3. Wonder Woman $100, 505 000
4. Transformers: The First Knight $45 300 000
5. War of the Planet of the Apes  $56 50 000
6. Baywatch: $18 100 000
7. The Mummy: $32 246 120
8. The House: $9 000 000
9. Atomic Blonde
10. Captain Underpants $23 500 000
Total: $546 651 120 

Scott's Picks:

1. The Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: $62 179 000
2. Despicable Me 3: $75 410 275
3. Alien: Covenant $36 000 000
4. Cars 3 $53 547 000
5. Dunkirk
6. Annabelle: Creation
7. Snatched $17 500 000
8. All Eyez on Me $27 050 000
9. The Emoji Movie
10. The Hitman's Bodyguard
Total: $271 686 275

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Happy Birthday Summit: Eight Wonderful Years of Bone-Crushing Lap Sits, Unexpected Mountings, and Lots of Slobber -- And Love

Eight years ago today a ball of fur rolled out into this world. Several weeks later that fuzzball of cuteness was named Summit and a few weeks after that we took him home. He instantly became my furry and slobbering son. He only knows me as 'daddy' and Emily as 'mommy.' He would tilt his head and eventually walk away if you asked him to find Christopher. For three years, I considered him my baby boy, until a real and far less furry one came into my life. But he always has and always will be family.

He was there the day my grandma passed away and I didn't know how to manage my feelings other than break down and cry. For that entire day he refused to leave my side and allowed me to just squeeze him and sob.

Every day without fail, he will come ambling over while I am writing to stick his muzzle under my arm and fling it into the air. This is his way of letting me know it is time for some pets and hugs. It is also his way of reminding me that he loves me and he is always there for me.

When we finally got kids, he had little problem transitioning into climbing apparatus. He has had Everett and Danika sitting on his head countless times and been the mountain to conquer when they first started crawling. When he has enough of being a play toy, he quietly gets up and moves to another room. I know enough to tell the kids he isn't interested in them following. If they do, he puts up with it for a while before moving to the next location.

Danika loves Summit. I mean, really adores and loves him. She wakes up every day with her most frequent first question being about the whereabouts of 'doggy.' She cheers with glee when he runs into her room and if that doesn't happen, the celebration commences when we find him downstairs. He is her best friend. She loves letting him know when he is a "good boy", one of her highlights is giving him treats, she squeals with delight when he comes outside with us, and will often tell off her brother if she thinks he is teasing him.

He keeps me fit. We walk twice a day. Or at least, we are supposed to. I've been a little slack the last few months, and maybe that is partly why my emotions have been flaring up. My time with Summit in the cool evening is special. It is our time to unwind and decompress. It is when we bond.

My eight years with my constantly shedding and panting son has convinced me there is no such thing as "just a dog." Summit is family. Summit is my child. Summit is my love. Summit is my treasure. I can't imagine these past eight years without him. If I had a wish, it would be that I could get eight more with him. His breed makes that very unlikely, so I will settle with the remaining years being memorable.

He is still healthy and full of life. Like most Bernese Mountain Dogs, he is convinced that he is still a puppy. If you are sitting on the floor, he believes his 80 pound frame is perfect for your lap. If you are standing, he will sneak through your legs so that you have now mounted him. He just wants to be real close. He is a family dog, and he is a central part of my family.

Happy Birthday, my son Summit. Thank you for eight very special years.