Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Too Good Not to Share: What a Prediction!

just saw this on Ken Levine's blog, had to pass it along...even if you're not a baseball fan, give this a watch.

Fall TV Season 2009 (pt. 1)

By popular demand (no, really), my take on Fall TV--in two sentences or less.

in order of appearance:

  • Glee--I can easily see myself growing bored with part of this/all of this. But 'til then, the show is as much fun as you can have on TV.

  • Supernatural--good to have the Winchester boys back in action for what very well could be (should be?) their last hurrah. The theology's horrid, but at least they take good and evil seriously (esp. evil).

  • Bones--nice little series reset there thanks to Booth's tumor. Fun to have this pair back, but time to focus on the crime's more than the will they/won't they.

  • Fringe--I thought Olivia's line from the premier summed it up well: "There really isn't a point where things just can't get weirder, is there?" Thankfully, no. Made some gutsy moves this season, hope they keep it up.

  • Community--Good to see Chevy in action again. Not the best sitcom around, but this is good for some laughs.

  • House--absolutely stunning premier, okay follow up. Am sure they will soon resort to House the cranky addict again, like they always do (alas), but 'til then, this show I'd stopped watching is better than it's been since House fired Chase.

  • Big Bang Theory--oh I missed this show far more than I realized. Funniest show on TV as long as they don't focus too much on the Penny/Leonard storyline.

  • Castle--season premier wasn't the strongest mystery, but who watches this thing for the whodunit? The interplay between Castle/Beckett was strong as ever. Michael Connelly r0x0red.

  • NCIS--how awesome is Gibbs? Tony as interrogation subject is a sure-fire winner, now just kill the Ziva-centric storyline for a while and get back to the procedural bread-and-butter stuff.

  • NCIS: Los Angeles--not quite what the original is, but it has promise. Linda Hunt's enough of a reason to stick with the thing through growing pains (see John Noble on the first half of Fringe last year)

  • The Good Wife--not sure this isn't a mini-series, but so nice to see a new show populated by nothing but seasoned vets. Julianna Margulies, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Chris Noth--hopw can you go wrong? Another entry in the "better than I expected" category.

  • Modern Family--wow. Such a great pilot, a little afraid to try the next episode, can't live up to it--but how can I resist the pull? Seriously folks, find this on hulu or whatever if you missed it the first time. (not safe for the whole family) See Ken Levine's write-up on it from yesterday.

  • Cougar Town--far better, far funnier than a show with this horrible title has any right to be. Ignore the title and give it a shot (even less safe for the whole family) So good to see Busy Philipps back in action

  • The Mentalist--even Simon Baker's charm is wearing thin...'bout the only reason to watch this is to see if they return fire on all the jabs Psych's made lately at their expense. Premier was far too tedious to start off a season

  • Family Guy--what can I say? If you like the show, you'll find enjoy it. Not that sure I enjoyed the premier, honestly (great title sequence, tho)

  • Lie to Me--not sure I see the effect of a new show runner on the premier, but it's still a decent way to kill 42 minutes, and am more than willing to give the new blood a shot.

What I haven't seen yet:
The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, Numb3rs, Dollhouse, Dexter (all due to that hospitalization thing...should catch up with them this weekend or so)

What did ya'll think?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Unscheduled Absence

So much for that streak...Sorry I've been away from the blog, Arnold's been in the hospital since Friday, so obviously, not been very conducive to blogging. Nothing serious, I'll post some details in a day or so. Maybe.

Anyway, he'll hopefully be released tomorrow, so I'll try to get back on this thing by Wednesday.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Want These Moving in Next to Your Barbie Dream House

Times like this, I regret no longer collecting action figures. Dexter and Doakes...great stuff. (click for description/larger pic)

What in the World?

Apparently, there was someone walking a camel around town today.

A camel.

(h/t: Treasured Valley)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're Not in Kansas Anymore...

Well, the good people at the Academy wasted no time in introducing their students to that great and proud tradition of American education: Fund Raising. Ahhh, it's really official now, the kids are being schooled :)

I remember all too well the groans that my parents would emit when I'd come home from school/scouts/band ready to hawk whatever goods the fund-deprived program were asellin' (and pretty sure I heard a few of those in my living room the other day). My Dad wouldn't bring the forms into his work, fearing his subordinates would feel pressured to buy from him (other than when my sister sold Girl Scout Cookies, cuz, c'mon, who doesn't want those?)--I had no problem with him pressuring others to buy, but he did. So, I was cast out into the neighborhood to peddle my wares. This was, of course, the halycon days before Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Amber Alerts, and other expressions (inducements of) parental paranoia, so this didn't make them horrible guardians.

The one thing I remember from those days was that there was always a cheap option--for those who wanted to help some, but really didn't feel like giving me a lot of money. The brochures I'm currently flipping through have no such option. On the other hand, the pricing's very convenient--everything has the same cost. Smart move, no way can little dyslexic Suzy make a mistake on one product, and ADHD Johnny can't forget one.

There is a handy option for kids whose parents don't want them out selling things--the parent can just write a check to qualify their little darling for the basic prize level. Seemed like a great idea, until I multiplied their minimum donation by 4.

These are hard economic times, and schools don't have a lot of funds--which probably seems even more the case when the school is just getting going, lots of needs, very little to provide for them, so I certainly don't blame them for trying. I do wish the products realized that it's not just schools that are having tougher times--parents, grandparents, neighbors are, too.

By the way--if anyone wants to buy some delicious coffee beans , cookie dough (in a variety of flavors), Pizza gift certificates, flavored popcorns, or nummy nummy looking cheesecakes/other desserts--leave a comment, I'll hook you up!! :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

If there'd been no MTV, this wouldn't exist

...personally, and for no good reason, I'm placing the blame at the feet of Mark Goodman.

John Rogers posted this over at Kung Fu Monkey, and I haven't been able to get either the video or the song out of my mind all day. Maybe, just maybe by posting it here, I can exorcise example of whatever exactly it is.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dan Brown's Worst (well Amongst them)

No secret that I hate Dan Brown--I'd rather about anything than push myself through another one of his books. It's been hard for me lately wandering through bookstores/book aisles in dept. stores--all that evasive maneuvering to avoid The Lost Symbol takes a toll.

So I rather enjoyed this article that bluewoad sent me today, listing the 20 worst sentences from Brown.

How they limited themselves to 20 must've been difficult. I imagine the process started off a lot like The Spanish Inquisition skit from Monty Python, "Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four* *Amongst* our weapons..." Buncha writers sitting around brainstorming the "Top 3 worst Dan Brown sentences." Which quickly becomes 5, then 10, then they had to stop at 20 because they only have so much print space.

Actually, the piece's writer, Tom Chivers, states:

It’s not a definitive list. It couldn’t be: he has published five novels, each around 500 pages long, and the arguments over which are the worst bits will go on for a while.
It was quite the list, and one that had me literally LOLing.

Earlier in the article, Chivers quotes one critic of Brown:
Geoffrey Pullum says "Brown's writing is not just bad; it is staggeringly, clumsily, thoughtlessly, almost ingeniously bad."
Now that's how you write a sentence--clever, 100% accurate and intelligent use of vocabulary.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #46

stumbled across John Bunyan's Scriptural Poems the other day, interesting little ditties, I must say. His paraphrase of the Lord's Prayer provokes a thought or two.

Our Father which art in heav'n, thy name alone
Be hallowed. Thy glorious kingdom come.
Thy will be done on earth as 'tis in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And ev'n
As we remit our debtors, grant remission
To us. And lead us not into temptation,
But from all evil do thou us deliver;
For th' kingdom, power and glory's thine for ever.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Arrr, It's that Most Pirate-y Time o' the Year, Me Hearties

In honor of International Talk Like a Pirate Day...
For entertainment purposes:

and you just gotta listen Tom Smith's song, "Talk Like a Pirate Day" a few times today (and sing along!)

For educational purposes:

For a bit o' commentary (and a chuckle), Jim C. Hines' Arr! Google Update Ahoy!

Have at it, ye salty sea dogs!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Trails

The Yankees Universe--particularly the blog reading portion thereof--was rocked yesterday by the news that Peter Abraham, beat writer for the The Journal News has taken a position with the Boston Globe, and in two weeks will have to transition to covering some baseball team that apparently calls Boston home (I hear they have an affinity for garishly colored hosiery).

I've been reading Pete's blog almost daily since near the beginning (2006)--about once a day during the off-season (covering the Yankees gives him something to talk about throughout the year), and at least three times a day during the season. Like many, I will miss his thorough coverage, sense of humor, healthy dose of perspective (particularly when some fans are likely to start panicking), and appreciation for the game. Oh yeah, and frequency of posts!

Moving to the Globe is a heckuva step up for any writer and no one deserves it more, kudos Pete, and may you find only success (and a job with a major NY paper in the near future).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Personal Note

We all know the cliche, behind every good man is a good woman. What few bother to note, is that it's frequently true of even decent, tolerable, moderately okay, and us "not horrible" men. In our better moments, they're alongside us...but mostly, they're behind us, prodding us. I know that's the case with The Love of my Life--and by prodding, I mean prodding in a good way.

While I refer to her often around here, I don't talk much about her, I don't think she'd like it. I should probably talk more about how she makes me a better person (maybe in a difficult way to see, like subatomic particles, but still...)--I know all too well how useless I'd be without her, having glimpsed it not too long ago.

Would just like to take a brief moment to say "thank you" for that. For sticking with me, for working with me to raise the Offspring, for the award-winning work she does for the State of Idaho, for putting up with me, for pretending to be interested in a good deal of the myriad things that catch my eye, for making me think/talk about things I'm not that inclined to think/talk about, for laughing at more of my jokes than she wants to, for the long laundry-list of things I started out to say here and have temporarily forgotten.

Robert B. Parker has written about 60 novels, and has dedicated almost all-to-all of them to his wife, Joan. (so I recall, not in the mood to flip through all of them to verify). Similarly, I've written 1705 posts here, and if they carried dedications, they'd be for TLomL...and not just cuz she's the only one I know who reads them all. And honestly, that goes for just about everything I do.

Just hope she knows that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Time to Shuffle the Deck...

I got this issue of Newsweek in the mail the other day, but haven't gotten around to reading the cover article. I halfway suspect one of the first criterion given a parent to determine if a baby is, in fact, a racist is "has the baby ever been critical of Barack Obama's policies?"

Jimmy Carter has joined the growing ranks of those saying that those who disagree with/protest against/don't like Obama's policies are motivated in large part by racism. I'm soooooooooo sick and tired of this, almost as tired as I am of the phrase "Race Card."

Can those throwing around this accusation grow up and stop this? I.don'' I care that from where I'm standing, our President's economic, budgetary, medical, policies (and many others) are a direct violation of the principles this country was founded on and should continue to function under.

I agree, the guy is wicked smart. But that doesn't mean everything he says is correct. Doesn't mean that I can't find fault in his philosophies, ideas, theories, plans on their merits.

If Obama was purple, I'd disagree with him (and then check the color adjustment on my TV). If Obama was Hispanic, I'd disagree with him. If Obama was a white guy, I'd disagree with him. If he was elected on a Republican ticket, I'd disagree with him.

Tea Party protesters are clearly 100% Aryans. Not even 100% Caucasians. And those protesters "of color" aren't self-hating, sell outs either. For the pundits, elected officials and fellow blogging blowhards to just label all detractors "racist" is insulting. Before long, Godwin's Law will have a corollary about this knee-jerk response (or at least it should).

I'm sure there are elements on the fringe who will despise everything he does because of our President's ethnic background--and there are some on another fringe who will give him carte blanche to do whatever for the same reason. But that's why we have fringes--for those people to be on (that and to look cool on clothing in the minds of many people who ride motorcycles). But the rest of us do live on this little plain I like to call reality, and we'll like/dislike his policies/actions for a myriad of other reasons--many of which are principled (many others have to do with the way he acted on Leno, O'Brien, etc.)

Free your minds.

Just Wrong

wrong, wrong, wrongwrongwrong, wrong.

Doing some browsing at the iTunes store, I stumbled across the new single from Mariah Carey...a cover of "I Want to Know What Love Is" (link provided in case you want to verify my claim/listen to a clip).

I hope I don't have to say "atrocious" for ye of good taste to have realized that.

Why didn't Kanye steal that microphone?

Stewart on the ACORN scoop

watched this 2x now...still laughing...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Transition to Away-Schooling

Since a few of you have asked, a few thoughts on the first week of

Arnold's having a good time, and seems to be growing up a lot. He's having more conversations with his mother and I--and taking a more active role in kicking them off. Very pleased with what he's learning in school--and thankfully, he has someone far more qualified to teach him cursive than his parents. Since he's in Kindergarten, we're getting a good deal of quality time, which is a definite plus for me (he even seems to be enjoying it)

The Princess is loving this--she's thriving on the social interaction (has even scored a party invite for this weekend). We're less than impressed with the her coursework thus far, but there's more than enough time for them to catch up. (another parent with a kid in her class is saying the same thing, so it's not just me being a snob).

It's hard to get a real bead on what Samwise is up to, as is his norm, he's vague where he needs to be specific and overly specific with the things he could/should pass over when talking about his day. He's enjoying it, tho, and is eager about the work, so that'll work for now.

Frodo's taking all of this rather seriously (like he does everything). I'm not sure he's having fun, but he's being challenged, and is very driven to leave the challenges in the dust. When he gets to the level where they start revealing class rankings, I pity anyone who happens to land above him. He seems to be particularly getting into his Latin work (as is TLomL, who had far too much fun last night reading some sentences in Chapter 1 of his textbook).

WonderMutt spends a good deal of her day pining, but is getting part of the routine down (for example, she knows when it's time to go pick up Arnold from school). She's getting a couple additional mini-walks down to the bus stop, too, and loves that. The downtime, tho, is another story. I really feel sorry for her, and hope she adjusts soon.

The transition from being the Head Coach to Season Ticket Owner when it comes to my kid's education is not going well. I'm fighting impulses to take over daily--if not more often. Thankfully, there are enough roadblocks to that (time/$$ to obtain curriculum, paperwork involved in withdrawing, kid's interest in staying) that I have enough time to talk myself down before taking any action. On the other hand, I'm getting to sleep a few more hours a day--that'll pay off in the long run (and probably even the short run)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Strikes me as Cooler than it Might Really Be

but worth sharing regardless :)

Most of us see a bunch of birds on telephone/power lines and think nothing of it. If you're the brainiacs at Pixar, you make For the Birds; if you're musician Jarbas Agnelli, you see this:

Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

Here's a bigger version and a the full story beyond this fun little composition.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #45

Let us notice how volatile men are. He that is best disposed to follow God will soon fall, for we are so frail that the devil will overcome us every minute of time, if God does not hold us up with a strong hand. And for that reason it is said that God manifests his power in upholding us when he has elected us and given us to our Lord Jesus Christ. For if he did not fight for us, alas, what would become of us We should be absolutely confounded, and not by reason of one stroke only, but there would be an infinite number of falls, as I said before. As soon as we were in the way of salvation, we should at once be turned out of it by our own frailty, lightness and inconstancy, if we were not restrained and if God did not so work in us that we might, by his Holy Spirit, overcome all the assaults of the devil and the world. Thus God’s Spirit does a two-fold work in us with respect to faith. For he enlightens us to make us understand things which otherwise would be hidden from us, and to receive God’s promises with all obedience. That is the first part of his work. The second is that the same Spirit is pleased to abide in us and to give us perseverance, that we do not draw back in the midst of our way.
- John Calvin

Saturday, September 12, 2009

From my Netflix Queue (week of 8/31)

A decent-sized stack this week:

  • I was really, really looking forward to Let the Right One In, the Swedish import heralded as the best Vampire movie ever.

    Sadly, that's not what I saw.

    The central character's are a paler than normal 12 year old boy (even by Nordic standards), misunderstood by his mother and teachers, bullied by everyone else who befriends a new girl in his apartment complex. He's apparently the first friend this girl has had in a long, long time--if not ever. There's some almost good moments as the two of them get to know each other, and explore the friendship.

    Oh, she's a very violent, near feral vampire when she's not being awkward with the boy, by the way. And she eventually comes to his aid from the bullies, but by the time that happened, I couldn't even care that there was little motivation left for her to do so.

    This was one of the dullest movies I've seen this year--punctuated by brief moments of big violence. These moments were done right--absolutely right, when the girl jumped up on a victim and began to attack/feed, it was so raw, so animalistic, you couldn't take your eyes off the screen. And then seeing her covered in the blood of her victim was truly horrifying, because no 12 year old should ever have that much of anything covering her, much less someone else's blood.

    Outside of those moments, it was all to easy to take your eyes off the screen--there were any number of scenes, characters, shots that added absolutely nothing to the movie beyond time, and lessened the whole because of their presence. (I'm on the wait list at the Library for the novel, I hope most of these scenes make sense after reading it--but if there's required reading to "get" the flick, it's an utter failure). Too much time was spent on things not happening, things happening that related to nothing else, or things happening (too) slowly and dully. I know European movies aren't as action packed as American movies, but this isn't just the ugly American talking--it's one thing to not be bursting with action because you're building character, developing the setting, or something. But there's nothing to be gained from pure non-action.

    This could've been as good as everyone says it was, and maybe 15 minutes of it was. But the rest of it was so bad it just didn't matter.

    For my money, you want a scary as h-e-double-hockey-sticks, yet arty vampire film--you still have to go back to 1995's The Addiction (which I just now put on my queue, been too long since I've seen it).

  • Sugar is one of those films you hear about for months, and unless you happen to catch it while it flits through your art house theater, you're sunk til the DVD release. Thankfully, the wait is over.

    The movie follows baseball pitcher Miguel "Sugar" Santos from the recruiting days in his native Dominican Republic, his first Spring Training and assignment to a minor league team in the MidWest (where apparently only 1 person speaks halfway decent Spanish, and he's the team catcher).

    A movie about dreams, a movie about cultures not so much clashing, as much as bumping into each other, a movie about one boy growing into manhood (while others around him do so in different ways).

    Watching the minor league system from Sugar's point of view, is far different from Costner's or Redford's ever was. It rings absolutely true--I have no idea how close to reality it is, but until I hear differently, it's going to be what I expect the Boise Hawks (and everyone else) are going through.

    But you don't have to know anything about, or even like, baseball, to let this quiet, slow (but not slow in the "nothing happens for ages" way that the above is, more of a graceful slow), powerful film cast it's spell over you.

    The storyline doesn't go where you expect, even up to the last few minutes when you think you've figured out Plan B (or C or whatever). Excellent direction, character development, script, and actors I'll probably never see again.

  • Sherman's Way seemed like a movie that would be a decent way to kill 90 minutes, but not much more than that.

    Uptight Yale Law student finds himself in California on a last ditch effort to save his relationship, which blows up in his face. He finds himself cut off from his high society funds and hitching a ride with a washed up ex-Olympian who is busy coasting through life. Odd Couple bickering ensues, lessons are learned, characters grow, etc.

    The reason Odd Couple movies are so often made is that when they work, they are funny with a capital "F". This is one underscores the capital "F." James LeGros and Michael Shulman have great chemistry together, and keep the predictable storyline laugh-filled. The movie belongs to Enrico Colantoni, who plays the sage friend of the Olympian, and host to both. In most scenes, it appears he's doing very little, but you don't have to step back very far to see that he's in command of every scene, and turning up the funny all the way to 11.

    Funny, touching, more than just a good way to kill time.

  • I honestly didn't intend on writing about Good Dick, but as I wrote up the rest of these, I decided it had bothered/offended me enough that I might as well vent a bit. Marianna Palka wrote, directed and starred in the feel good movie of the year. Well, feel good if you're a stalker seeking hope that the object of your fixation will end up falling for you. Otherwise, it's just wrong. And creepy. And disturbing. And just wrong. I was ready to turn it off within the first fifteen minutes, but kept at it to see when a. the comedy in this "rom-com" would set it; b. the female protagonist (listed on imdb as "Woman") would either reveal a decent justification for giving her stalker the time of day; or c. would wake up to the danger she was placing herself in.

    Naturally, I waited til the end of the movie and didn't see any of those. I should also mention I just couldn't believe that Josh Ritter (playing the part of "Man") would be as creepy as he was--but I was wrong again. Ritter plays a video store clerk who becomes fixated on Woman, who spends her time holed up in an apartment paid for by someone watching rented "adult" movies. But it's okay, because this stalker has a heart of gold and really starts to care about the Woman. Man lies to Woman, which basically leads to her letting him move in, and eventually they fall in love, and she begins to recover from a horrid childhood. Just what always happens with stalkers, right?

    What woman in her right mind stars in this bunk, much less makes it? What was she thinking? Despicable.

    Incidentally, most, if not all, of the supporting characters (who did bring the amusement and heart into the flick) did have names--which just seems strange. But a very, very, very minor crime comparatively speaking.


  • Troubled childhoods seem to be a recurring theme this week, but this one was done right. Phoebe in Wonderland is a magical film (not a term I throw around lightly) about a precocious little girl who gets cast in her school play of Alice in Wonderland and starts to receive guidance from Carroll's characters. Sort of. That was the gist of the Netflix description, as I recall, but it missed the mark. It's a story about a mother trying to figure out how to be be the mother she wants to be (while working on expanding her dissertation on, coincidentally enough, the book Alice in Wonderland), s girl trying to figure out how to fit in to a world she doesn't understand (and which doesn't seem to want to understand her), and the chaos that can erupt when an actual educator finds themselves in a modern school.

    As Phoebe's mother, Felicity Huffman is at her very best (which is quite good), even tho' the brunette 'do she sports drove me to distraction a few times. Bill Pullman gave the reserved performance that only he can as the less than perfect father--ditto for Campbell Scott, whose performance as the school administrator you love to hate was pitch perfect (I've quoted a couple of his lines over and over). Patricia Clarkson's turn as the theater teacher made me embarrassed I couldn't place the name when I read it in the opening credits. The various children were really quite good--particularly the lad who played Phoebe's friend Jamie, and the girl who played her little sister.

    Which means I should get to Phoebe herself--Elle Fanning. I don't know exactly what type of genetic engineering the Fanning parents dabbled with to produce such fantastic actors as Elle and her sister, but I'm pretty sure it's illegal in most nations--but man, it payed off! One of the more captivating performances I've seen this year--she brought be to the edge of tears at two points in the film--once due to her character's pain, and the other because she was that inspirational. Few actors triple her age can pull that off.

    None of that matters without a great script and director--Phoebe has problems, real problems--but the nature of them is drawn out slowly, and not in the typical way the entertainment industry does so. And when we're finally flat out told what's wrong with her, the issues are shown in a very real, and again very a-typical manner. She nailed the movie nailed it in exactly the way so many fail. Even at this point, it's not a problem to be solved/cured--it's presented as the way Phoebe is, and she and her family just have to figure out how to live with it.


Friday, September 11, 2009

73 and Counting

Not to take anything away from the previous post, but, TLomL had this as her Facebook status last night, and I couldn't help but think it needed to be spread a little wider, too.

On the eve of September 11th, 2009, in a country that seems to have forgotten what happened on that day a mere 8 years ago....let us not forget one of our own who is in the hands of the Taliban, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl. He has been in captivity for 72 days now.

8 Years Later

Wasn't going to say anything else about 9/11 today, I'm just not the man for the job. I'm not equipped for it, but then Alan Sepinwall provided quite the link, at A List of Things Thrown 5 Minutes Ago, they posted both video links and transcripts of the monologues that David Letterman and Jon Stewart did when they returned to the air after the attacks. And I just had to do my part to spread this link...

These two funnymen (whose politics I typically deplore) didn't just wear their hearts on their sleeves, they shoved their hearts into the faces of their viewers.

We can't forget this day and what it meant.


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Soon?

(a slightly repost from September 2006, both in honor of the anniversary tomorrow, and because I'm still trying to figure out how to manage my time now)

I Remember just before United 93 hit the theaters this spring, and then again just before World Trade Center premiered, there was this refrain of, "It's too soon." It's too soon for a's too soon for us to remember's too soon for whatever.


Tonight my manager and I are approached by some 30+ year old woman, holding four DVDs--Friends with Money, Just My Luck, some other "chick flick," and United 93. "Have you seen any of these?" I hadn't and said so, manager had seen Just My Luck (which she called "cute") and the "other" one which she said was pretty good. Manager tells her that she's heard "Friends" was "more of a mid-life crisis movie." Customer holds up United 93, "What's this about?"

Ummmmm, I think, but manage to sound a little less sarcastic when I started, "It's about that plane on 9/11 that..." The manager cuts in, "Y'know the one that crashed in Pennsylvania." Blank stare. Me again, "the one that the passengers took over, made crash before it could hit anything." Blank stare. "The one on 9/11?"

This woman had no idea what we were talking about. It's five years later--FIVE YEARS!! She had no idea what we were talking about--thankfully she got distracted by the idea of Antonio Banderas doing ballroom dancing (oh, hey, I remembered--the other chick flick was Take the Lead) and headed off before the conversation continued (and my dismay hit critical mass).

It's not too soon. It's not too soon. It's not too soon.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Little More on the First Day

All the kids reported that they had a good day--despite the school bus for the elder 3 being 50 minutes late...ugh. Am sure WonderMutt and I didn't look too suspicious standing on the sidewalk in front of a neighbor's house for almost an hour.

The oddest summarion of the day came from Arnold, who after talking to us for a couple minutes about his day reported, " detention!"

I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear that after the first half-day of kindergarten, he felt he had to assure us that he hadn't misbehaved to the level of serving detention.

(oh please, don't let this be a harbinger)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Another Year Begins, and Something Ends(?)

It's the practice around here to post a picture or two of the Offspring on their first day of school on the Tuesday after Labor Day--so here they are. The careful reader will have noticed that the children are not sitting around the kitchen table, their hair in some degree of disarray and wearing clothing that is comfortable if not easy on the eyes. In fact...they appear to be outside.

What gives?

Well, as of today, the Offspring aren't being homeschooled (for all but a couple of subjects, including Bible)--they've enrolled in a new Classical Academy in the area.

I'll take a quick break here to tell you to feel free to fire all the invective, hate mail, charges of giving up, selling out, etc. I've probably uttered worse about the choice.

Yes, I still believe in Homeschooling, but more than anything, I believe in Parental Choice. The best choice for these parents of these children is to put them in this Academy--they have the resources to do the things we've always wanted to/tried to do. We don't. In particular, I don't have the resources to keep going at the rate I have been. Maybe I could've faked some of the abilities I don't have--there's enough great helps/curricula for homeschoolers out there, if I only had time/energy. In a sense, it's a choice between by health and the education of the kids.

As much as I didn't want to admit it (and I thank some friends' prodding, and my wife's patient endurance and encouragement to see it), God answered prayers I should've been praying and got us into this school's inaugural year. It's practically just what we'd have designed if we'd thought of starting an Academy. If this school existed when Frodo was 4, we'd have tried to get him in then rather than starting homeschooling. And we're not the only ones doing that--approximately 1/2 the students this year have been homeschooled up to this point.

I really do think that this is the best solution for us--not just for me, but this will equip the Offspring better than I think I could've. This year will be a probationary year we may return all, some, or none of the children to the Academy. We hope (for their sakes) at this point that it's all. But time will tell.

So today, they boarded a school bus for the first time, very excited about the day (tho' less than excited about the unusually cold morning). They all came back unusually chatty about all their new experiences. Samwise and the Princess both have close friends in their classes, Frodo has an old Little League teammate in his, so that helps.

Making the decision to send the Offspring off is one thing, actually doing it, is another. Still, Mom and Dad handled the first day okay--it was rather a busy day, so that helped. We'll see if that continues. WonderMutt, on the other hand, just about had a nervous breakdown--all her charges gone, and the parents let it happen? She just couldn't believe it.

Sometime, remind me to sing the glories of school uniforms--I'm inclined to buy into the behavioral/cultural/etc. reasons for it, but I know and exult in the benefits for parents--monetary and ease, if nothing else.

Couple of Things I'm Not Funny Enough to Write much as I wish I was:

  • Fantasy author Jim C. Hines list of 20 Neil Gaiman Facts--eat your heart out Chuck Norris
    1. Neil Gaiman once wrote a Nebula-winning story using only the middle row of his keyboard.
    2. Harper Collins has taken out a 2.5 million dollar insurance policy on Neil Gaiman’s accent.
    3. If you write 1000 words and Neil Gaiman writes 1000 words, Neil Gaiman has written more than you.
    read the rest

  • Music Reviewer/Author Chuck Klosterman reviews the remastered works of The Beatles
    Like most people, I was initially confused by EMI's decision to release remastered versions of all 13 albums by the Liverpool pop group Beatles, a 1960s band so obscure that their music is not even available on iTunes. The entire proposition seems like a boondoggle. I mean, who is interested in old music? ...

    It is not easy to categorize the Beatles' music; more than any other group, their sound can be described as "Beatlesque." It's akin to a combination of Badfinger, Oasis, Corner Shop, and everyother rock band that's ever existed.
    read the rest

Monday, September 07, 2009

Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar?

(trans. "Oh! Was I speaking Latin again?")

Today's the traditional day around here for the last minute bursts of activity in preparation for the upcoming school year. Most of which would've been done by someone far more organized by myself (like, say, TLomL) earlier than today--but if I didn't procrastinate weeks/days ago, what would I do today? Thought I'd take a quick break and mention a resource that some of you might be interested in (am sure some of my readers have this site and others like it bookmarked, but just in case)

I was doing a bit of reading this afternoon, trying to remind myself of the benefits to the Offspring learning Latin (only Frodo will be doing a formal Latin curriculum, but the rest will be getting ready). Not that I needed the reminder, but I do need to be ready to respond to the extended family's "What, your kids aren't oddly educated enough already?" type questions. The website for the National Committee for Latin and Greek is quite the handy resource for these type of answers, along with some nifty propaganda to convince prospective students to take up the subjects.

The flyer, Harry Potter Knows Latin!, for example, is a nifty sampling of some the more common spells non-Muggles learn at Hogwarts and their Latin roots. I can't imagine it's that convincing, but it's cute.

Frankly, I find Henry Beard's books on the subject (some samples are here), to be a much greater incentive, but hey, whatever works...

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #44

Though sense of God’s love fail, faith may continue to be strong. For faith is not grounded upon sense and feeling, but upon God’s gracious promises, immutable, goodness and infallible truth. Yea, when sense and feeling cease, then faith which the evidence of things not seen, begins it chief work. And the most excellent faith shows itself most clearly when we have no sense or feeling, or when we feel the opposite.
- John Ball

(via Patrick's Pensees, had to share this one...)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Technically Not a Miracle, but Ever So Close

I'm not a football guy, really. I can watch a game and understand it/not sounds like a moron, but really I'm with George Will: it's the two worst aspects of American culture, 20 seconds of violence followed by a committee meeting.

But for some reason that I don't care to spend the time figuring out, for me (and countless others who really don't care about sports in general/football in particular), when it comes to your college's team...all bets are off.

I'm a third-generation Idaho Vandal, came of age during the Decade of Dominance, back when the team had it's act together--until it won it's first bowl game (I was in the stands!), lost the coach, and the wheels fell off.

It's been a miserable ten years since then (I haven't mentioned to Frodo that he was born just months before the team forgot what "win" meant), and the team has become a joke--especially in this media market dominated by Boise State University. It's really remarkable what can happen to a program like that overnight (and then keep happening, and happening, and happening)

And then tonight--the University of Idaho Vandals won over their conference opponent the New Mexico State Aggies. Their first win on the road since 2006, their first season opening win since 1999.

21-6. Beautiful. Yeah, it's just one game, but come on--this is great.

I. D. A. H. O. Idaho, Idaho, go, go go!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Not Exactly Sure How This is Supposed to Make Me Sleep Better

As I've mentioned before, I have sleep apnea, and occasionally (far to rarely, to be honest) use a CPAP machine. Ideally, this device is supposed to keep air flowing into my lungs no matter what my body wants.

In reality, this device makes a lot of noise, makes my face sweat and will frequently convince me that I'm being smothered in my sleep.

But anyway, it's something I need to use, because if I remember my 8th grade health class, breathing is a pretty important thing to do.

So now I get a recall notice from the machine's manufacturer. If I have a DC powered humidifier, I may be in jeopardy--I'm fine if it's AC powered. Somehow, this is the only appliance I have with a power chord where both the chord and the place you plug it into have no labels about amps, volts, or other words used by energy drink marketing gurus. So instead I get a grainy, black and white zerox of a photo of the back of a DC powered machine.

I think my machine matches--I may have to take a digital photo, print it on an old printer and run it through a copier for a few generations to be sure, tho. So now having determined that I probably have a DC machine, "There is a remote probability that some failures may result in thermal deformation..." Now, I'm not a technician, or an engineer, so I'm not absolutely certain, but to me "thermal deformation" sounds like "things will melt due to heat."

I'm assured that, "There have been no reported injuries or property damage as a result..." That sentence is just begging for a "yet", isn't it?

The thermal deformation will be accompanied by a "blinking blue light" on the control knob, so I'll have some warning before I become eligible to be the exception to the "no reported injuries or property damage."

Of course, the only time I use this doo-hickey, I'm asleep, and I tend to do that with my eyes closed, so I probably won't notice any blue lights, blinking or otherwise.

That is, if I ever sleep again.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Happy Blogg-iversary to Me, Happy Blogg-iversary to Me

It was seven years ago today that I first posted to this blog, time for the onset of the Seven Year Itch--guess I shouldn't be surprised that I've been looking at I'm fairly surprised I kept at it this long, honestly, and see no reason to stop anytime soon. Figure this is as good as time as any to take a breath and reflect on what I've done here. How close have I come to keeping the purpose I had from the get go?

On that first day, I said:

Why blog? It's an effort to discipline myself to write something every day. I figure if I can do that, I will begin having more discipline in different areas, I'll become a better writer, get published, make enough money to quit my lousy job, become a world-famous theologian, and attain entire sanctification!
Including this post, I've posed 1688 times--an average of .66 posts a day. Not quite as disciplined as I'd intended...I've never really gotten the "daily" thing down--tho' last year I had a 43 day streak. I'm sure that's the main reason I haven't accomplished the rest of that list.

Okay, so much for quantity/regularity of posts--we'll just ignore quality, because I'm in the mood to feel good about myself. That leaves theme (probably some other things, too, but can't think of them at the moment).

The original name of this patch o' cyberspace was White Noise, which I took from the name of one of my top 2 novels of all time. Again, on that first day, I laid out the direction I hoped things would take:
The name for this blog came from one of my favorite novels, Don DeLillo's White Noise. In discussing that novel, DeLillo said:
"In White Noise in particular, I tried to find a kind of radiance in dailiness. Sometimes this radiance can be almost frightening. Other times it can be almost holy or sacred.... Our sense of fear--we avoid it because we feel it so deeply, so there is an intense conflict at work.... I think it is something we all feel, something we almost never talk about, something that is almost there. I tried to relate it in White Noise to this other sense of transcendence that lies just beyond our touch. This extraordinary wonder of things is somehow related to the extraordinary dread, to the death fear we try to keep beneath the surface of our perceptions."
Similarly, my original epigraph (have abandoned those for the time being) for the blog was also from DeLillo describing the book elsewhere:
"It's about fear, death, and technology. A comedy, of course."
I think I've come closer to the goal on this one. The main topics (although I haven't tagged every post with labels, so I can't promise this is totally accurate) I've touched on are things happening with me, my family and in the news. Pretty typical for bloggers. The next big grouping involve various aspects of theology and various media (books, movies, TV, music, etc.), baseball and education follow close on their heels. It's at the other end of the spectrum that I find some surprises: I've only tagged Joss Whedon, caffeine, coffee, and Narnia once each. Not so surprisingly, I've only tagged travel and celebrities once. I've started a handful of series on this topic or that, think I've finished none of them, which tends to explain why I've started fewer lately, but am pretty sure I'll try again. I seem to do best at just grabbing what's at the forefront of my mind (and believe you me, you don't want to go further back then that--scarrrrryyyy stuff. Although, that's where we keep all the shoes in your size). In short the everyday stuff of my life comes up a lot, "the radiance of dailiness", I guess.

Of course, about a year ago I changed the name of the blog--it's also from a beloved work of literature, but carries the bonus of not leading people to think this is going to be a tech-inclined space (you wouldn't believe how many emails I've gotten about that). Also, it's in Latin--which carries a lot more weight in Reformed and Homeschooling/Classical Ed circles than technobabble, and you know me, I'm all about currying favor. "Peace, Love, and a Sense of Fun," I think it's safe to say I touch on that regularly. Either that, or I need to read myself more closely.

I can't pause to talk about the blog without thinking of you, gentle readers (and the nastier ones, too). Some of you are sporadic, some are regular, some of you really have no business being here, but you come anyway. I wish there were more of you (the numbers ebb and flow, but there's generally 20-30 of you), but I'm very glad for each page view. Thanks for reading, I'm glad you do, I truly appreciate it. Wish you'd comment more ('tho the emails, IMs, etc. are nice, too). I guess while I have your attention, I should ask for your suggestions: what should I do more of/less of? What should I start doing/stop altogether? Is there a way for me to fit more of this orange into things?

Hope to see you around for awhile longer.

'nuff said

While the Summer TV Season Wraps Up...

If you can't watch TV, sometimes reading about it can help fill the void.

  • Women of NCIS -- Sara Paretsky takes a glance at the troubling way NCIS deals with female characters (the inestimable Abby Sciuto excluded).
  • My Supernatural Summer -- Matt Roush spent the summer catching up on Supernatural a show I'd not bothered with until recently myself, read this to discover why I was wrong to do so. Best line: "this show is less Touched By an Angel than, say, bitch-slapped".
  • Everything you wanted to know about the CHEERS' Bar Wars -- Ken Levine discusses the background on some Cheers episodes that were always filled with laughs.
  • Top 8 Happy Moments (Sorta) in the Whedonverse -- this one's pretty self-explanatory, actually. I do find it sorta odd that a creator that brings so many such happiness in watching would only have 8 such moments in his Verse (and do note the 'sorta'). I couldn't help but notice that Dollhouse has zero entries on this list, and frankly, am not sure what a happy Dollhouse moment would be.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

I woke up in Escher's World today...

My mother said it was okay

Up's down, down is out, out is in
Stairways circle back to where you've been
Time falls, water crawls, are you listening?
- Chagall Gueverra
"Escher's World"
I couldn't stop Chagall Gueverra's song from playing in my head as I read the Reuters's story "Grandson sues to clear Stalin over killings."
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Josef Stalin was in the dock on Monday when a Russian court held a preliminary hearing in a libel case brought by his grandson over a newspaper story which said the tyrant had ordered the killings of Soviet citizens.

Rights groups say the case shows a creeping attempt in modern Russia to paint a more benevolent picture of the Soviet Union's most feared leader, under whose rule millions perished.
The mind just boggles, doesn't it? I know, I know living in the age of Holocaust deniers, 9/11 Truthers, and Dan Brown, I shouldn't be surprised at people twisting history to their liking, but come on! Stalin?
Leonid Zhura, a convinced Stalinist who is representing Dzhugashvili [the grandson] in court, said that the article -- based on declassified Kremlin documents -- damaged Stalin's reputation.

"Half a century of lies have been poured over Stalin's reputation and he cannot defend himself from the grave so this case is essential to put the record straight," said Zhura.

"We want to rehabilitate Stalin," he told Reuters. "He turned populations into peoples, he presided over a golden era in literature and the arts, he was a real leader."
One more time, "We want to rehabilitate Stalin."

Jane, get me off this crazy thing!

Eschers World - Steve Taylor

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

From my Netflix Queue...

Caught a couple of good ones last week:
Sunshine Cleaning sounds like a dreary film: a single mother, struggling to make ends meet working as a cleaning lady/waitress who has to pay for a private school 'cuz her kid keeps getting kicked out of public schools. She's having an affair with her (married) high school sweetheart, her sister is an immature and unreliable wreck, and her father is a conniving loser. But to pay for tuition, she goes into business with her sister...enter heart-warming ending and sell it to Lifetime. But it actually works! When you cast the Amy Adams (who can play any kind of role, apparently) as the mom, Emily Blunt as the sister, the hilariously sublte Alan Arkin as the dad,* throw in some wry humor and genuine emotion, it's a charming, and endearing black comedy.

Black comedy? Oh yeah, the business they start is a biohazard removal/crime scene clean-up service. Adams + Blunt + blood/guts/associated smells/stains = Hilarity.

There's actually not as much of that as I expected (even wanted)--that's just the hook to get you into the flick. The real heart of the film is in the sisters learning to trust each other, dealing with death--and helping others to do the same, and in the shadow of death, finding life and hope. Great script, great cast, decent story...well worth your time.


The quietly humorous story of a group of twenty-somethings working at a crummy amusement park in 1987. Our protagonist, James, a new college grad, finds that a family financial crunch leaves him without the means to travel Europe over the summer as he planned. Instead, he has to return to Pittsburgh and get a...job. Of course, the market for comparative lit majors is pretty small (whether or not they're headed to Columbia in the fall for grad school). So he ends up getting a job at the amusement park, thanks to a tip from his former best friend, who apparently lives only to frequently punch James in the testicles.

The park is owned by the hilarious married couple played by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader--who both are a strange combination of cluelessness and skill, callousness and support. But more importantly, the park is staffed by a tight-knit group of kids who return year after year and quickly befriend James. It's not long before James starts seeing Em (Kristen Stewart displaying the talent that probably got her that other role she's known for but didn't get the chance to display). On the one hand, the movie plays out from that point pretty much in the way you'd expect. But it's so skillfully and honestly told, it doesn't matter.

Harry Knowles summed it up better than I could:

This is about that fragile point in a person’s life where they have to come to a realization that they’re not going to be about the dreams you had in High School – that you can’t live at home forever, that you must evolve beyond the plan. And in a very different way, this is that story about the last time you lived at home and that moment that you left knowing it was never going to be the same.

Martin Starr, naturally, threatens to steal the movie, but in the end provides it's heart. Really wish he'd get more work.

As an aside, I'm clearly getting old when Ryan Reynolds is cast as the older mentor-like figure to a college grad. Think Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, only slightly less creepy.


* ...probably shouldn't forget Steve Zahn not playing an obnoxious moron (I knew you had it in you, Steve!)