■ Starved Rock State Park (entry)
■ Milwaukee Art Museum (entry)
■ Milwaukee County Zoo (entry)
■ Life of Pi (theater) Technically, the Misses and I saw this in the week before our winter break began, but I think our hearts may already have been on vacation. All three of us recommend this beautiful film. (And, yes, all of us have read -- and adored -- the book.)
■ The Princess Bride (DVD): Quite simply, it doesn't hold up.
■ It's a Wonderful Life (DVD): And neither does this. How is it a happy ending that George has friends? Might not he have had friends had he been permitted to pursue any one of his dreams? All around him, people live, learn, grow, achieve, avoid painful consequences, etc. in no small part because of their relationship with George. They are permitted their dreams, but he is not. And it is a wonderful life because he was fortunate enough to be an actor in theirs? Bah, humbug.
■ Moonrise Kingdom (DVD): Brilliant, quirky, original.
■ Les Miserables (theater): Better than we had hoped. In the eighties, Mr. M-mv and I saw the play twice on Broadway and once in Philadelphia. We recently took the Misses to see the twenty-fifth anniversary production playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago. Going into the movie, we were, at best, cautiously optimistic, but we left giving it four enthusiastic thumbs up.
■ Terror of Frankenstein (DVD) An adaptation that is quite faithful to the intent and spirit of Shelley's novel. Recommended.
■ The Hobbit (theater) Another movie we attended with cautious optimism -- and loved.
■ Swim practice
■ Music practice (piano, guitar, violin) and lessons (piano and guitar)
■ Quirkle Cubes
■ Uncle Tom's Cabin (Harriet Beecher Stowe; fiction)
■ Bonsai: 101 Essential Tips (Harry Tomlinson; non-fiction)
■ Life after Death (Damien Echols; non-fiction)
■ National Geographic Birdwatcher's Bible (Jonathan Alderfer; non-fiction)
■ The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady (Elizabeth Stuckey-French; fiction)
■ Rin Tin Tin (Susan Orleans; non-fiction)
■ Animals in Translation (Temple Grandin; non-fiction)
■ Animals Make Us Human (Temple Grandin; non-fiction)
■ Trouble (Gary Schmidt; YA fiction)
■ Astrophysics Is Easy! (Michael Inglis; non-fiction)
■ Why There's Antifreeze in Your Toothpaste (Simon Quellen Field; non-fiction)