Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodnight common sense everywhere

I do know the book Goodnight Moon, having read it to Sarah for many a night when she was more on the wee side.

I am sorry to hear that it is in the center of a media maelstrom!

Can't people relax about anything anymore?


After many, many, many hours (more than I should admit, actually) I added a custom banner to my site.

You've probably already noticed it by now.

If you haven't . . . WAKE UP!!!!!

A great deal of thanks goes to E. Anderson who tried her absolute best to help me with my original image concept. I didn't end up using it, through no fault of her own, but because I didn't give her the proper instructions in the beginning.

Also, thanks to Paige Pooler of Eyes Wide Apart who's banner started me on this odyssey.

This may not be the absolute final WWYG?! image, but now that something is there, I think I can obsessively change it until I get the perfect visual.

But for now, whew! It is done.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wax off, "Alias"

According to this Entertainment Weekly story over the weekend, what we all knew would happen is now official--Alias is not long for this world.

I am not surprised about this but it still makes me sad. I was an Alias fan from the beginning, from the very first episode when Sydney's fiance was killed by Sloane. Over the years, I have grooved to an awesome theme song, been the happy witness to many an outlandish plot device, a great deal of club scenes, some memorable Super Bowl lingerie in an airplane, and one season 1 latex dress.

Most people seem to agree that the show peaked at the end of season 2, start of season 3. I think season two was best, when Francine was cloned, when she and Sydney had an incredible throw down in the apartment, etc. Plus, the whole Rambaldi plot was so outlandish that it defied belief . . . but was really fun at the same time.

Anyway, a few years ago I would have been really worked up about this show's demise, but now I can accept it and move on.

Of course, all Hollywood deaths are Tom Cruise's fault, and this is no exception. If Tom hadn't sunk his claws into J.J. Abrams and gotten him directing/writing Mission Impossible III then maybe Alias might have survived. But maybe it is time to die.


Speaking of Hollywood deaths, goodbye Pat Morita. I remember you from Karate Kid of course, but I loved you best as Arnold on Happy Days or as the thoroughly Americanized Korean soldier who occasionally dropped by the Swamp and played poker on M.A.S.H.

I hope you didn't cross Tom Cruise and rather died a peaceful death of a life satisfactorily lived.

Run Lola Run

If If If you you you took took took a a a simple simple simple plot plot plot and and and showed showed showed it it it three three three times times times in in in succession succession succession, , , changing changing changing small small small elements elements elements of of of that that that plot plot plot each each each time time time but but but ended ended ended each each each version version version at at at the the the same same same moment moment moment . . . . . . . . . you'd you'd you'd have have have Run Run Run Lola Lola Lola Run Run Run.

This This This movie movie movie is is is more more more like like like an an an experiment experiement experiment than than than a a a film film film. . .

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Where's Your God Now?

We set up our Christmas decorations yesterday and today. Constructed the tree, put the ornaments around, decorated other parts of the house. Today I put outside lights up and those are now twinkling merrily in the November darkness.

All of this invokes memories of my childhood, but I would rather remind you of other Christmas miracles from years past.

But seriously . . . one of the traditions when I was a kid was putting together the nativity set (the manger, baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the angel, the three wisemen, etc.).

Over the years, I would try to be as literal as possible, in that I would place the wisemen far away from the rest of the manger grouping and advance them across the house as time progressed.

Yesterday I realized that we had, for the first time, a good place to put our manger scene. Last year, we bought a small shelving unit to sit at the end of our entrance foyer, under the picture that we bought on our honeymoon in Charleston. This three shelf rectangular piece fits perfectly in the wall space that divides the hallway from kitchen. Normally, in more secular times, we have a plant, some pictures of Sarah and Grace, and diapers, wipes, diaper bags, etc. all residing there on different levels.

But now, it is the designated spot to commemorate the birth of our lord and savior--as depicted in miniature, figurine form. (This is also good because it gives us a place to drape the holiday-colored table runner that Mom quilted for us years ago. So now Baby Jesus is birthed on a south Georgia table runner--and I wouldn't have it any other way.

But a word on the nativity set itself. It was given to us by my parents and they bought it while they were living in Brazil for six months several years ago. So, the Holy Family and everyone else involved in the Blessed Event has an ethnic cast--which suits me just fine, thanks.

So, this is great. Jesus finally has an honored place in the scheme of holiday decorations, right? Wrong! Because, as perfect as this place is, as perfectly positioned as it is to remind our every guest that "Jesus is the Reason for the Season," it is also at the perfect height for our girls, who would like nothing better than to play with each and every figurine. Yesterday Sarah immediately had Baby Jesus flying through the house like Neo on his way to defeat Agent Smith.

I remain steadfast, however. I want the Nativity to stay there. I don't have a better place to put it right now. I'll try to keep an eye on the kids and hope that the better angels of their natures come to the fore when they are tempted to play.

I just hope we don't lose our God in the name of Better Housekeeping.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Lynda and I took advantage of the holiday-ness of the day after Thanksgiving today and went to see a movie--HP and the G of F.

The daycare was open today, you see, and since we pay by the week, we had already paid for Friday. We decided to take advantage of that and therefore planned to watch HP at 10:45 this morning.

We took the kids to school, dropped them off. Lynda then went to work for a few hours at the office and I waded into the day after Thanksgiving shopping to get some of the kid's Christmas giftage out of the way. The audio post below gives some of that experience.

About the movie, and YES . . . there are SPOILERS ahead (but you've probably already read the book anyway):

Speaking of the book . . . well, it IS 734 pages long, and unless you are Spike Lee or Peter Jackson, you aren't gonna get enough movie time to cover a book of that length.

So, stuff got cut, and I'm really okay with most of it. Hermione's Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare (S.P.E.W.) sub-plot is completely removed, as is any trace of house-elves. In fact, the entire intricate mystery of who is out to get Harry is simplified greatly in the movie. These things I can understand and accept.

What is lost--and what is a more significant loss in terms of the entirety of the story arc that runs throughout the books--is the process of knowledge acquisition that Harry undergoes in this pivotal book in the series. Here in Goblet Harry begins girding himself (thought he doesn't recognize it until the end of this story) for the coming battles ahead. But this movie, by focusing on the "movie-ready" Triwizard events and skipping over the months that elapse between each event, don't give you the sense that Harry has become proficient in various spells and charms that his classmates haven't had access to. Therefore, it might become less understandable in the upcoming Order of the Phoenix movie why Harry's classmates turn to him specifically to teach them Dark Arts spells?

But, I am nit-picking. Steve Kloves, the screenwriter who has adapted each of the four books made into films, is in a no win situation here. If he adapts the movies well, no one notices. Generally, people only pay attention when stuff isn't there. So, soldier on Kloves. You're doing a difficult job well.

Overall, I found the movie VERY enjoyable. It was funny where it should have been, scary everywhere else. And this movie IS scary. This book, as I mentioned is the turning point in the series, where the childish wonder of the magical world is pretty much replaced by the growing battle between good and evil that takes up Order of the Phoenix (Year 5) and Half-blood Prince (Year 6).

I cant'/won't speak for anyone else, but I would NOT take Sarah to see this movie. I wonder if she will be ready to watch it when the DVD comes out. If so, we'll be skipping a lot of stuff. I just think a great deal of the imagery in the film would stick in her mind and cause nightmares for many days afterwards.

So, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: A.

The Truth Revealed

It's time to come clean.

It's time to admit the truth.

Burb isn't my real name--my parents were smarter than that!

My name is David, but you can think of me as Dave if it suits you.

Why am I telling you this now, after more than a year of lies?

Well, I find that it's been harder to maintain the duplicity once I started adding more and more audioposts and now, Why Won't You Video?! (Don't miss my new video additions--one from San Francisco, one from the 2003 camera archives, and one of the girls playing in the snow two days ago.)

It just doesn't make sense to try and keep all the aliases straight in my head. So, I'm putting it all out there, come what may.

Other important names that you should know:
  1. Tegan is Lynda, my wife.
  2. Ariel is Sarah, my oldest daughter.
  3. Ruth is Grace, my younger daughter.
  4. Kevin Spacey IS Keyser Soze.
  5. Senator Palpatine is actually Darth Sidious.

Holiday shopping--LIVE!

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Illustrated

It allows me to do this with as little typing as possible.
I give thanks for my lovely wife Tegan (the hardest working woman in the Midwest!)and my wonderful daughters Ariel and Ruth.

I give thanks for my parents, brothers, and sister, and all of the spouses, nieces and nephew. I wish I could see you all more often!

I give thanks for all of my most excellent friends. I don't have a picture that captures you all, but you are all there every day, making a difference, making me laugh and think.

I give thanks for life in general. It is a gift worth reflecting on and blogging about!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Ice Storm

I watched this as we prepare for our first snowfall of the season--nothing too bad, mind you, but it provides an opening for this observational movie review.

This movie was directed by Ang Lee, based upon the book by Rick Moody. Previously, I had only seen his craptacular The Hulk. This movie is so much better for many reasons, not the least of which is the cast: Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, a pre-brainwashed Katie Holmes, and my man Tobey Maguire. (Tobey even has the opening lines of the film, discussing comic books no less! Be still my heart.)

Set in Connecticut, 1973. The movie focuses on two well-to-do suburbanite couples and their attendant children. Everyone has too much time on their hands and is too confused with the world. They are searching anywhere for personal fulfillment--alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, self-help books, casual sex, whatever. Plus, as Jimmy Carter said, they are lusting in their hearts . . . and often acting on that lust . . . to achieve what, I don't think they truly know.

The kids in this movie aren't adults, but they sort of are, because the actual adults are too spaced out or confused to pay them much attention. So the kids fend for themselves and make all sorts of mistakes.

One of the two families lives in a contemporary home that reminded me of Miles van de Rohe's Farnsworth House. But I can't seem to identify the actual home used in the film. Does anyone know?

This movie reminds me strongly of American Beauty, because of the ennui evident in the characters and in the sparseness of the soundtrack, which has a very Thomas Newman quality.

I liked the movie, even if I don't really know where it might be going in the fictional future that stands ahead of the Hood family when this movie is over. I suspect you can get a better sense of that from the novel, which probably did a more explicit job of describing the internal motivations of the people. Ang Lee is more interested in showing you their confusion and their inability to choose than he is to have you hear that confusion.

Still, recommended.

Monday, November 21, 2005

This one goes out to others

This past week was Christ the King Sunday--the last day of the church calendar year. Next week begins Advent, the preparation for Christmas.

I tell you this because Fr. Rick had a great sermon this past Sunday that got me thinking.

The Gospel reading was Matthew 25 (Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to me.) The point--there are TONS of people in the world that need so much help, so much support.

I am NOT one of them.

Therefore, this year, if you are planning to buy me something, please don't. Yes, I did create an Amazon wish list on Saturday morning. But upon further reflection, getting another book about J.R.R. Tolkien's writings, the LOST season 1 DVD, or a big book of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons matters very little. If you have already spent money on a gift, hey great and thanks a lot. But if you haven't maybe you can consider doing this instead.

1. Calculate what you would have spent on me.
2. Give it to an organization that is trying to make someone else's life better. How about the Red Cross? Certainly Habitat for Humanity needs funds. Amnesty International does good work. What about Heifer International?

Or donate to a local organization--a Meals on Wheels in your area, your local food bank, heck, give a check to the local police department or local fireman's organization.

(If you get solicitation phone calls and increased junk mail from this, I am sorry. But if more of us tried to use the holiday season in this way, then maybe they wouldn't NEED to carpet bomb you with leaflets in the future.)

Anyway . . . it's a thought. Please don't be offended. Just make your hard-earned money work harder for someone who needs it more, okay?

I promise, I'm not going to suffer.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A Farcical Dystopia

That is the best way to describe Terry Gilliam's Brazil.

Our hero is named "Sam Lowery" who is introduced to us in some sort of Icarus-suit in a setting that looks exactly like the old Tri-Star logo where the pegasus is galloping/flying through the clouds.

Sam works in one of the many divisions of the Ministry of Information, apparently the only government agency, certainly the most powerful. The reason for this is that tracking information, cataloging it, stamping it, filing it, is the most important thing in this bureaucratic world gone wrong--something that Hermes Conrad from Futurama would understand.

A incomplete collection of interesting things that I noticed while thoroughly enjoying this movie that I have wanted to see for years:

  1. Almost everything has a serial number (As a related point of interest--my cubicle at work is id #PRPL 33.).
  2. This movie has the absurdity of Dr. Strangelove, the Rube Goldbergesque contraptions of Wallace and Gromit or the oddly complicated technology of 12 Monkeys (another Gilliam favorite of mine). There are tubes everywhere--even wonderful pneumatic tubes, strange rubber bladders inflating and deflating, ducts running from floor to ceiling.
  3. Enemies of the state and suspected terrorists (who are bombing randomly throughout the movie) are trussed up in burlap bags with grommets, interrogated and/or counseled while swinging along ceiling-mounted tracks like sides of cattle.
  4. The soulless, vast empty bureaucratic spaces remind me of the upper reaches of the Hudsucker building
  5. Teletype machines constantly clacking evoke in me memories of the Prayer Machines mentioned in The Handmaid's Tale.
  6. The ending of the samurai battle dream sequence is lifted straight out of Luke's confrontation of Vader at Dagobah--but since both movies came out in 1985, who thought of it first?
  7. There are funny government propaganda signs everywhere. They say such things as Suspicion Breeds Confidence; Don't Suspect a Friend, Report Him; Trust in Haste, Regret at Leisure; Mind that Parcel. Eagle Eyes Can Save a Life. There is also an advertisement for Mellowfields Top Security Holiday Camps--Luxury without Fear, Fun without Suspicion, Relax in a Panic-Free Atmosphere.
  8. The ducts, the persistent rectangles of the buildings, the boxy subway-like transports--everything reminds me of the Borg cubes.
  9. Robert DeNiro played wacky long before Analyze This. One scene in particular was an odd echo of Godfather II--when the young, immigrant Vito Corleone (played by DeNiro) has killed the white-suited neighborhood Don, on what I think was Easter Sunday or at least some sort of Catholic Italian religious holiday. He then dismantled his gun, throwing the pieces down various chimneys. In this movie DeNiro's "Harry Tuttle" is a
  10. 'terrorist"/unauthorized plumber against the Ministry-run government. Near the end of the movie (on Christmas Eve--another religious holiday) Tuttle threw parts of his terrorist garb down a Keep Your City Tidy tube.
This random list of observations doesn't capture the Britishness of this movie, the senseless bureaucracy, the efforts to rail against mindless authority. An excellent film that you should see.

Less with More

What do I want for Christmas?

Well, probably the most useful thing would be a water-proof digital voice recorder that I could hang in my shower and use it to capture all of my good blogging ideas before they disappear somewhere between the rinsing and the toweling.

As I was taking this morning's shower, I ruminated over Sven Golly's first anniversary post (congratulations!) and his observation that his site is pretty simple--which I like and support. The phrase "Less is More" came to mind. From that thought came the idea that we are living in a world where everyone tries to do Less with More.

Let me explain:

Lulu is busily trying to get her holiday house in order before the arrival of Marky Mark. So she got me thinking of putting together Christmas lists, both for me and for the other members of my family. Doing this is hard and easy at the same time.

It's hard because none of us need anything. So trying to find something that isn't obnoxiously useless, might be creatively fun, and not take up to much space amongst all of our other stuff is challenging.

It's easy because the Internet allows you to search for anything under the sun and place it handily on an Amazon wish list (I am working on it now). These Amazon lists are easy to put together and convenient for others to access and view. But what do they really tell you?

That's where I am going with this . . . we live in a world of More choice, More options, More of everything. But at the same time, we are narrowing ourselves down into the sum of our consumption. Amazon, Netflix, Kroger . . . everyone is tracking the items you buy, the "I Give This Movie BLANK Stars" button and the "I Own This" link. It's useful in that it helps them target market you. (For instance, did you know that I might like "Antics" by Interpol, since I own "Franz Ferdinand.") But, as I go through these lists and dutifully identify my ratings, my previous ownerships, etc. I find that the computer search algorithms are sending up everything I already own. I guess after I spend a day or so cataloging every purchase I've ever made the computer will know me perfectly . . . and then what?

I'm sorry Dave. I won't open the pod bay doors now.
Why don't you take a stress pill and we can play a nice game of chess?

Will the computer then start accurately serving me stuff I don't yet have? And what about everyone else? Do they know me? Do we actually know anyone?

Can you read my blog and get to know me? Sort of, yeah. But wouldn't it be better to sit down with me and ask questions? (Am I gonna stop blogging? No. ) I guess my concern is that the world tries to pin all of us down and try to make sense of all of us, but that won't work. Many many science fiction movies have proven that artificial intelligence always goes bad in the end.

Do I sometimes worry the computers getting all of my personal information? Don't I worry about identity theft. Various bits of my life are already spread out there in the internets and sure, there are people that might try to put it all together, task their satellites, and spy on me in the backyard (I saw Enemy of the State . . . and if I liked that, I might also enjoy The Pelican Brief.)

I dunno. The part of me that doesn't worry about such things thinks that social historians in the future are so lucky. The wealth of information available to them about the comings and goings of Average American will be the greatest in the history of historians. Sifting through it will probably be relegated to computers (uh oh) but the opportunity to accurately distill daily life will be better than ever in all the eons of written records.

I wonder where I'll fit on that scale? Will I be comfortably in the average portion of the societal Bell Curve? Most of the time I am positive of it. We'll let our cybernetic overlords (which, I for one, welcome) sort that out.

What was my point?

Saturday morning play

this is an audio post - click to play

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Silence Falls

I had a brief moment tonight . . . a small flash of insight or quietude or something.

Yesterday's audio post was somber and I have been feeling a bit out of sorts the last few days. My personal life is fine, but many around me are facing various struggles. It makes me realize that I am extremely blessed and I guess tonight I internally paused to appreciate that reality.

It was after dinner. I was downstairs in the basement sorting clothes, hoping to take advantage of my evening by doing some productive chores. Tegan and the girls were upstairs. Ruth and Ariel were eating their desert brownies and watching a little bit of The Lion King before heading upstairs to put on their pajamas and begin the bedtime transition.

I had my back to the door that divides the finished half from the unfinished "utility" half of our basement, sorting delicates from whites from colors, placing each in their respective laundry bins (the organizing and the sorting is the satisfying "pre-flight" prep before the laundry washing begins).

And then Ruth was there behind me; she said "Hello, Daddy" in her small, quiet voice. She had been unable to find Tegan upstairs and so felt it necessary to come down to the basement (I had left the main-floor door open) to give me the empty bowl that her brownie had once been in. And that was it. She turned and went back upstairs to watch more of her show.

My relationship with Ruth has, as you know, been rocky at times in the last year. But, it feels like we have turned a corner recently. We don't clash as much as we were doing a month ago and she is more willing to let me do things with her, whereas in the past, she often demanded Tegan over me.

After she delivered the bowl and left, I continued my sorting and reflected upon the atmosphere in the house; it was quiet, still. It felt really comfortable and relaxed. That is a wonderful feeling, and as much as yesterday's winter sky made me feel somber, tonight I recognized the other aspects of winter.

Winter encourages you to bundle up--in comfortable jeans, corduroy, or sweaters. These thick fabrics cushion you and provide a softness. It helps muffle sound and provides a thickness to the things around you. When it is cold, people pull inside. If the wind isn't blowing, you can really capture the stillness and recognize the quiet that is such a rare commodity in our world today. This is especially true if you go outside at night after a snowfall. The blanket of snow muffles sounds, all the animals are somewhere else, no one is running around outside. The lights bounce off the snow and there is silence.

I love that feeling of stillness, solitude, warmth--even when there are three other people in the house with you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Whom It May Concern

Dear makers of Crest "Glide" floss:

I am a big fan of flossing. I want you to know that right away. Heck, I floss EVERY day. Do most people do that?

I also have been using Crest toothpaste for practically my whole life. I like your paste and this Colgate is vile stuff. So, please, hear me out.

I tell you this because I have some complaints about your floss product.

1.) The packaging--I grant that the molded plastic exterior is "cool." The green color on my particular container (which I got free with a tube of paste, by the way) makes it stand out. But, the lid is hard to open. Please remember that I, and likely many others, floss in the morning when our bodies are still half asleep and our fine motor skills are still warming up.

2.) The floss--You are claiming on your website that your floss is coated to make it slide easier between teeth and provide less irritation on the gums. All of these things are helpful and if it makes more people floss, I can support you. BUT, what did you coat it with . . . space polymers? That stuff is TOO slippery. When I wind it around my fingers, it is too slippery to stay put while I jam it between my teeth. Can you back off the glide factor a wee bit? We don't need a complete lack of friction. Save that for the Space Shuttle's exterior, okay?

3.) Tensile strength--This may be a result of my holding onto the floss really hard (see complaint #2), but today, your product broke in half mid-floss, resulting in me smacking myself in the face in a cartoonish manner. I don't need such slapstick occurrences to wake me up in the morning, thanks. My two young daughters rumbling and grumbling about putting on their clothes provides quite enough stimulation. Please rectify this problem.

Thank you,

A Disgruntled Customer with Healthy Teeth and a Sore Cheekbone.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sunday/Monday "mix tape"

(This post was begun on Sunday afternoon and I am finishing it up tonight. Its randomness is the reason for the title.)

Yesterday I was raking leaves in my front yard, listening to my iPod. It occurred to me that there are lots of people like me, approaching/ensconced in middle age who own iPods and use them to enliven their normal household chores. But why doesn't Apple depict this demographic in their ads? Instead you have young hipsters monochromatically gyrating to the latest song from the Gorillaz or other spiffy band-of-the-month.

If Apple listened to me, you could still have the young hipsters but you could also have their parents jamming to Bob Dylan while cleaning the gutters, mowing the lawn, or whatever.

Who would be against this idea? Anyone, really? Is Apple not interested in selling their iPods to just about everyone with $200? Wouldn't it benefit the company to do this? And if Apple won't do it, then maybe Creative or the iRiver people will do it?

Go ahead anyone who is reading this. Send the idea to Steve Jobs. I don't need credit for the idea, I just want to see good ideas come to fruition.

Someone tell me what I should do about King Kong.

As I have told some of you before, I am of two minds on this movie. Peter Jackson earned a lot of credit with me by making three excellent adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, but I am not sure if I am excited enough for this movie's subject.

Individually, I love a lot of the people involved in the movie: Jackson, Naomi Watts, even Jack Black. But the twenty-five foot monkey is a stumbling block. And, for some reason, the fact that it is set in the 1920s is a problem. Maybe I hate the clothes? I don't know.

I'll probably go see it, but I am not overwhelmed by it. Is that wrong? Am I growing up?


Speaking of growing up.

Here is a drawing that Ariel drew a long while ago and I just now decided to reduce it so that it could fit on my scanner bed. Unfortunately when it was reduced the picture lost some of its quality and the details aren't quite as sharp. Sorry about that.

The picture shows two houses, one on the extreme left edge and another one near the middle of the page. In the sky above are several blue birds. There is also a kite flying in a sun-filled sky between the flock of migrating birds and the houses below. Also between the houses is what I think was a yellow school bus.

The blocks of text are her "story" of the picture, dictated to me:

"At home I got a book and I threw it. I went inside my house and I looked at something else. Mom told me not to throw my books. And then I went to go pet Dog. And I looked everywhere but I could not find my dog." [Shades of Terry and Hopkin Green Frog here?]

"I didn't check in the living room and I saw my dog. It was fun. So we both went outside to play. I threw my dog a bone. But my dog could not chew it. He did not like the bone so he went inside. I did not want to play with the dog so I played with my dolly. [Preferring inanimate objects over living things?] But I accidentally broke it. And I yelled, 'Mom!' And I looked everywhere for Mom."

Really, it's a sad tale, a search for life fulfillment, as described by a five-year-old.

If you didn't like that bit of child-like creativity, you might enjoy this. Last month, on Columbus Day Tegan and I didn't have to work--but the daycare was closed. So I stayed home with the kids while she went into the office to try and keep up with her Project from Hell.

While I was home, working on the computer, the kids were playing with some spare yarn (from Tegan's pregnant and knitting phase). When I stopped to see what they were doing, I was confronted with this complex (multi-roomed!) masterpiece of yarn art.


Other entertainment news:

1.) The demise of Arrested Development on Fox is for certain, but there is some hope that the show might be resurrected by Showtime. So, people with lots of disposable income will benefit from intelligent humor while the frugal and the poor will suffer.

I wonder if I can adjust our budget to squeeze enough money out to subscribe to premium cable? Maybe if I can buy some Malk (now with Vitamin R!) rather than that expensive milk.

2.) You might have hated Aquaman in the late October episode of Smallville, but soon you will be able to hate Aquaman each and every week. Hurray? (No, not really . . .)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hey Flipper! Feast Your Eyes on This Beauty!

My post of earlier in the night was pretty depressing.

But then, with Spec's help, I found a new way to make WWYG?! even more thrilling--and that has made me pretty happy and taken up a lot of my time tonight, getting something ready.

So, I present to you: Why Won't You Video?!

Of course, because it's me I may be changing the look of the site a bit as time goes on.

Keep in mind that WWYV?! is not hosted by Blogger, so it doesn't have the uniformity of design that I have striven to maintain up to this point.

But moving pictures helps to mitigate that shortcoming, don't you think?

The context for this inaugural video clip can be explained here, over here, possibly here and maybe here. You might also try here, but I am sure that she will provide some angry context before it's over as well.

I sometimes wonder

if this is all there is. I know that sounds really terrible and actually now that I think about it more it sounds REALLY terrible.

I almost want to just delete this and act like I never started the post, but I think I'll continue.

So, why terrible? Well, for me to ask, "Is this all there is" is awful considering that I have SO MUCH more than about 99 percent of the planet. I've got everything I could EVER need and yet I still get to the end of a week of work (that wasn't even filled with pressure, stress, or tons of deadlines), eat dinner, pick up after the kids, get them to bed and well, then what . . . ?

Tegan is working so hard, she is taking the chance to just go to bed. So, what am I going to do all alone? I could flip through endless channels of useless TV; I could read a book until I inevitably start falling asleep, I could try to fiddle around with various blog ideas and projects that I have in mind but are all sort of long-term things; I could watch a movie.

All of these things just seem to be time fillers, things to do when you don't have anything more worthwhile to do.

The truth is, I'm bored--and I feel really bad about admitting it. I am ashamed because I see every day how hard Tegan is working to get her project done and I hear every day about how difficult it is to stay focused and positive. Meanwhile, I'm in limbo between my own work projects--one wrapping up and the other not yet fully formed and ready for me to pursue. I am grateful that I am not pulling out my hair worried, but I am guilty about it as well.

I guess that is me . . . worried about being ungrateful and feeling guilty that I am not saving the world or doing Something Important.

Random thought--If Sartre argued that "Hell is Other People" (didn't he say that, in so many words, in No Exit?), then maybe I say Hell is Laundry. No matter how much of it you do, no matter how well you may do it, no matter the feeling of accomplishment and completion you achieve when it is folded and put away . . . it's coming back in five to seven days and there you are doing it all over again.

So, what is the point? Maybe I should go do someone else's laundry, so I can get the feeling of completion and accomplishment and they will have one less thing to fret about. I could start my own Laundry Brigade that travels around, taking the tedium of laundry out of someone else's hands, so that they can free themselves to achieving their own goals.

But then I'm sublimating my own goals in favor of others. Is doing other people's laundry truly the best thing I can think to do with my life?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Day After I Began Admiring the Gyllenhaal

Relax, okay?

He'll NEVER be Tobey.

But he's more talented than Fabio.

These thoughts came to me the other night as I watched The Day After Tomorrow and soon upon the tails of watching Donnie Darko. So, maybe I've got the Gyllenhaal on the brain and don't really admire him at all. His image is just shifted up into the short term memory area of the brain's cortex. (Or maybe I now know what Flipper is like every day when she walks around. Her brain's cortex has probably carved out its own little Gyllenhaal area.)

Anyway, I am sure that when Spiderman 3 comes out next summer (TOO FAR AWAY!) I'm quickly displace Jake with the Tobey. In the meantime, I'll try to scrub it all clean by watching The Ice Storm or something.

As for TDAT, it is standard summertime fare that I finally got around to watching. Maybe it seemed more dramatic because I was watching it Tuesday night/Wednesday morning as the lightning and thunder flashed and rolled outside my windows.

I was struck by the fact that Jake's character never has a moment's hesitation about anything that he is going to do. At one point, in order to save the life of his cute girlfriend, Jake must collect medicine from a Russian tanker that has run aground in the urban canyons of NYC. But to get the medicine, he has to experience the super-cold storm that is inflicting a new ice age upon the Northern Hemisphere. Remember that his meteorologist father (Dennis Quaid) has ALREADY warned Jake that this storm is so cold that he could be frozen to death instantly! But Jake is so noble and heroic that he never hesitates to expose himself to the cold. And, while on the ship he has to crawl out one ship window and shimmy along a icy/frozen metal pole to access the room with the medicine. And after THAT he has to outwit CGI wolves that are also roaming the ship! WHEW!

But throughout it all, Our Man Jake soldiers on, never making a mistake, doubting his actions, second-guessing, nothing.

Forget having your own personal soundtrack . . . I want my own personal screen writer!


On to other media news.

Shannon died on LOST last night and I am not too sad. (I called it accurately, by the way.)

I did wonder today if, since we didn't actually see her dead and buried besides Boone, it might be possible that Jack could save her. After all, it was only a gut shot, right? I mean, Charlie didn't die and he was hung up in a tree by CrazyTomCruise'sCrazyCousin.

But then, I read this.

So, I guess it really is goodbye to Shannon.

(The funniest part of the articled linked above is Jorge Garcia's mother worrying that Sawyer might die. Hey mom, what about your son's character, hmmm? I mean, doesn't "Everybody Love Hugo"?)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Toys! Lists! Fun for EVERYONE!

Hey kid! Watch where you're putting that hand, okay? We're underage, after all!

Yep, it's another one of those posts, featuring links to another website that foists another list of 100 things to be ranked and discussed.

But this one is a British website and the subject is toys! Crank up your nostalgia generator and dive in!

You'll love the oh-so-British descriptions of some of these items, most of which were created for British children. But you'll see familiar toys that broke the cultural and geographic barriers of our two countries.

After all, if we can get together on our love of Weebles, then maybe this world can become a better place after all.

I counted 34 of the 100 toys that I either owned myself or played with on a regular basis at neighbors homes. The two most startling things--the inclusion of the Evel Knievel toy that I absolutely played with all the time as a young lad of the 1970s (he also shares my October birthday, dontcha know) and the odd and sad British version of the Death Star. My Death Star playset wasn't cardboard, but rather a three-storied plastic transport to wonder that was a fabulous thing. That Christmas morning was one of the best ever . . .

(Thanks to Pop Culture Junk Mail for the original link.)

Can you help?

If you have been keeping up lately, you know that I watched Donnie Darko the other night. At the end of the movie, there is a really great song, "Mad World" that plays during the final scene. This song, originally written by Tears for Fears is covered in the movie by Michael Andrews.

I really like this version of the song and wanted it for my iPod. Unfortunately Apple's iTunes Music Store won't let you download that song. You can download every other song on the soundtrack, but not that one. To get that song, you have to download the entire album--spending $10 to get a $0.99 song! Outrageous.

And judging by some the reviewers of others who visited the Music Store, they were upset by the same issue. Though some were swayed by the entire soundtrack over time, they initially went to the store in search of that song alone.

Flipper suggested that I borrow a copy of the soundtrack from the metropolitan library system. I searched for it and found that no library in the system has a copy of the soundtrack of this somewhat obscure film.

So, now I'm stuck . . . jonesing for a song I can't get!

In desperation, I am turning to the impersonal void of the internet. If there is anyone that reads this post that happens to own the soundtrack, would you mail it to me? I can rip a copy and mail it right back, I promise.



Monday, November 07, 2005

Pump Up the Jams (election style)!

Yesterday I took Ariel to a Pump It Up! birthday party.

The party took place in a large warehouse-type building in one of the industrial outskirts of our "Irish" suburb. Driving up to it, you wouldn't expect that anything fun could take place in a place like this--unless you enjoy running inventory or maybe operating a forklift.

But, no! Ariel and I entered the nondescript building and were assaulted by bright primary colors on every wall. After presenting the waiver (can't play without a waiver that assures no one will sue anyone about anything) and verifying that Ariel had socks, we awaited the rest of our party goers. Because I had to drive across the top of the city to get there, we were early.

Eventually several of Ariel's old daycare friends started arriving. These are the kids that Ariel grew up with from when she was six weeks old. She remembered their names and I had a good few minutes saying hello to parents I haven't seen in about a year or so.

When all the kids had arrived, we watched the five minute video about the rules. (Imagine a corporately-produced sexual harassment but replace the sexual harassment with about ten rules that five-year-olds are supposed to remember. You can judge the lameness of the video: Rule #1--Only one person at a time going down the big slide; Rule #2--Only three people at a time going up the slide steps; Rule #3--Only two people going through the obstacle course at a time; Rule #4--You may only go in one direction on the obstacle course . . . Rule #15--If the Staff person blows the whistle, give up any hope of every having fun that isn't structured to death.)

Finally the indoctrination is over; let the fun begin! We enter our reserved Party Room and are confronted with large inflatable "fun structures." If you have ever been to my company's Summer Picnic you can imagine these structures. They are virtually identical to those inflatable things.

There was the aforementioned 20-ft. tall slide (with about a 50 degree decline), the obstacle course that also ended in a steep slide, a standard-issue bouncy cage, and a place to throw balls into three holes in the wall. Mix with twenty-five 4- to 5-year-olds, set to bouncy generic 80s sports pop, and have fun!

After the running, sliding, and bouncing were over, we adjourned to secondary Party Room for the eating of cake and the opening of presents.

All in all, a fun two hours spent.

On the way home, however, tragedy struck.

As she was leaving the party, Ariel received a treat bag with candy, small toys, etc. She also got a helium balloon. She tied the very long balloon string to the treat bag. As we drove home across the cities northern face she had fun with the balloon, making it dance to the evening jazz program on the public radio station. We we exited the Interstate and hit our city's surface streets, she opened her passenger window a bit (it's an old-style crank--no electrics) and had more fun watching the wind's slip stream push the balloon around a bit more vigorously.

But then she took it a step further.

She decided to dangle the treat bag out the window, trolling it in the wind. Being the permissive father that I am, I let it happen. What I didn't consider was the long balloon string. Ariel was clearly enjoying her window fun, but when we pulled into the garage and I stepped out of the car to open her door, I saw the folly of our choices.

The long balloon string had allowed the treat bag to drag along the road behind the car rather than in the air beside the car. As a result, the cheap cellophane bag had burst open, scattering the candy and cheap toys all along the darkness of State Street.

Truly Ariel was sad when she discovered this.

I felt bad and somewhat responsible for letting it happen, but the overall idea of the event was also kind of funny.
Some info had appeared regarding Spiderman 3. I have been vocal in the past about my concerns over the villains/actors for this sequel. This news still doesn't placate me entirely, but it at least looks competent. I withhold any further criticism as a sign of good faith.
Finally, don't you Georgians out there wish you lived in Ohio with me? Only here can you get pre-recorded election messages from Archie Griffin and John Glenn, both within five minutes of each other! That's right, college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and the first American to orbit the Earth are trying their mechanically-enhanced darndest to talk me into voting their way!

But no matter what famous celebrity tries to sway you, get out and VOTE!

The Spice of Life

Do you like variety?

Do you go out of your way to achieve variety?

Does it extend to all areas of your life or just to some things?

In some things I like to achieve variety. In other ways, not so much. This notion struck me Friday as I was shuffling out the side door of the office in the evening. And as I start to describe the idea striking me, I see that my choices are varied and yet rigid at the same time.

Let me explain.

I always leave the office building out of the side door (the north end of the building). But in the mornings, Tegan and I typically enter through the main doors on the building's east side. So, there is definite repetition there but there is also variety. And I consciously choose to enter and exit through different doors. I also admit that the morning's choice is somewhat influenced by the desire to use the elevator in the morning, but then why not use that same logic in the afternoon?

More examples: I often try to think of different ways to drive places, actively avoiding taking the same route to the same place again and again and again. I find it exciting to try and find different roads and want to see new things, new streets, whatever. Now, I am not one of those people (think Perk here) who tries to catalog the mileage of each route and to cut the gas mileage or something. I just want something different, that's all.

So, I try to get into differences to make the day less repetitive. But of course, I am a constant set of repetitions as well. My morning routine is very similar day after day. I usually get into the office at the same time (plus or minus 10) every day of the week.

Another instance: in high school my friends and I often ate desserts and coffee in a local Cracker Barrel. (It was a small town and there weren't many restaurants.) Anyway, because we went there frequently, I decided that I would make it my mission to eat everything on the menu. It was another attempt at achieving variety.

So, what about you? Do you want variety or do you prefer routine?


In other news, I saw that the High Museum in Atlanta has recently had a major architectural upgrade. The museum complex includes the museum, the theatre for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and some other stuff as well. You can see more about the museum from its official website and more about the architectural changes here.

The High was my first major museum experience back when I was probably twelve or thirteen. I remember enjoying their exhibit on the five senses, featuring computer graphics to excite your sight and learn more about hearing with a greatly enlarged ear canal. Since then I have gone back a few times, especially for the Henri Matisse exhibit while I was in college.

Finally, I watched the director's version of Donnie Darko over the weekend. This is the second time that I have watched this movie and I enjoyed it again the second time. I can't say I truly understand it more completely now than I did the first time, but I really appreciate the originality of the story.

It's not every movie--in fact, it's only one other movie--that features a six-foot-tall rabbit as a major character. But the rabbit in Donnie Darko is also demonic, see, so that makes it different.

I've also got to give credit to the Gyllenhaal, here. It must not have been easy to play a teenager that is experiencing schitzophrenic-based hallucinations that might also be time-travel, but he did a very admirable job. He is especially creepy when he is in the midst of his communes with "Frank" the demonic bunny and hid eyes are half-lidded and his shoulders are all hunched over. It's very effective and very menacing--even though the net result of everything isn't itself menacing.

I don't want to get further into the plot, just in case some of you haven't seen the movie. But I highly recommend it. It is visually engaging, well-written, well acted. Just worth your time.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Happy Birthday Merch

Memories of my sister, on the occasion of her birthday:

  • one situation (as opposed to a specific, remembered event) that quickly comes to mind is when she drove me to high school. I was a sophomore, she a senior. We shared the red car . . . what brand of car was that again? I can't recall all of a sudden. I know that both MSquared and Muleskinner had it prior to you . . . but what brand was it? And why do I recall a painting of a bronco-busting cowboy? Anyway--it was a small, faded red car with a hatchback and a cramped backseat.
  • The time we both went to see Dune. I had already finished the book and was familiar with the story. You were not even a big science fiction fan (Why did you go? Was it to see Sting?). I almost laughed out loud when the usher at the theatre door handed out the vocabulary sheet that the studio had printed. With such words as melange (spice from Arrakis), Kwisatz Haderach (messiah of the Bene Gesserit), gom jabbar (needle-like finger device used during a testing ritual), and Bene Gesserit (space nuns, of a sort), I thought you might just turn on your heels and leave. But you stuck it out. I hope the images of Sting in a skimpy outfit made it worthwhile.

(Don't hate me for the photo! It was the '80s after all. Besides, I don't think I have the iconic photo of you in the tree when you were five. I'll talk to dad about getting it and maybe I'll edit this later.)
  • Another time in the mystery red car. The horn on the car had been malfunctioning--going of at random times when you turned the steering wheel to the right. The only way to make it stop, as far as we knew at the time, was to pound on the wheel. (It must have been a faulty wire and pounding make it shake loose again.) Anyway, you were driving and I was in the passenger's seat. We were swinging around a curvy road near the high school and you turned the wheel, making the horn go off. So, you were pounding on the wheel, going around the turn, passing a car in the other lane. I was laughing so hard at the sight of it all. What must that other car's driver been thinking?
Of course, we didn't always get along. We were brother and sister, after all, and the closest in age. She was born 2 years and a month before me. During much of our childhood we played together with one of our neighbors two doors down. As we got older, our interests naturally diverged. But, as we have both gotten older, in college, I thought (and hoped) that we sort of came back together with similar experiences and goals.

You always made fun of my nerdy friends, but they were pretty nerdy. Heck, so was I, and you never abused me too badly about it all. I am glad to say that we are friends as well as siblings, and even though I don't get to see you nearly as much as I would like, I think about you often and hope that you are doing well.

Happy Birthday MA! I hope it is a good one for you. I'll see you as soon as I can.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Why do I do it?

It's a valid question . . . do I seriously think, even in my most deepest, most private desires, that this blogging thing will EVER be more than just something I do.

Do I think, even one small iota, that it will suddenly get discovered by someone and become a highly-read site? What constitutes that anyway . . . 100 readers per day, 1,000 per day, 10, 000 hits a month? What is a undeniable quantity for "blogging success?"

Do I ever dream that this will become more than just a hobby. Certainly, it can't be a job in and of itself. Who would pay me to do this (or something like it) and for how long, really? You can't make a living at it.

So . . . why?


Hey guess what? I ate a black-and-white cookie today! You know, the one in the Seinfeld episode where they are waiting for a chocolate Bobka to take to a party and Jerry is boasting that he has a nonvomit streak going since 1980? But he decides to eat the Black-and-White cookie ("Two races of flavor living together" . . . "Look to the cookie!") and he throws up? Well, a New York vendor came to give a presentation to our managers at work today and they brought some of the cookies with them. If you have never had one, it looks like a good sized pancake with the two types of icing on top, divided clearly down the middle. The icing has a very strong, pleasing cocoa taste.

I recommend them.


Hey Maureen Dowd, I think you got it wrong. Men prefer women who are their equal, but aren't afraid to put on a maid's uniform if the mood is right.

Maybe I'm wrong--and I'm certainly no expert on the thinking and writings of Dowd.


Do I watch Alton Brown's Good Eats because I admire the simplicity of his recipes? (Yes.)
Do I harbor illusions that I'll get off my lazy, predictable butt and actually try his recipes? (Every once in a blue moon, but not frequently enough.)
Do I really do it to revel in the ultra coolness of his kitchen that I want desperately? (Oh yes! From the cabinets to the cookware to the fancy schmancy measuring cups. Does this REALLY and TRULY mean I'm gay? No; I've just got good taste and an appreciation for design.)
Does this mean I'm gonna go to my Polaris-area Kitchens and Things to get all of Alton's gear? (Sadly . . . no.)


Just got the kids to bed. It is amazing how accommodating Ruth is when Tegan isn't here. There literally is a night and day type difference. She doesn't fuss, she wants me to read her books, she has no problem letting me rock her and saying prayers. It is a wonderful feeling to feel needed by her. And she actually enjoyed it, which was part of the fun. But we sang songs ("Wheels on the Bus," "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed," and a couple of verses of "Old MacDonald"). My kids sure love the classics, don't they?

Then Ariel told me a story, showing me the pictures that she had drawn. And then she was down to bed.

They were very good all night really. The pancakes that I made for dinner weren't the best that I have ever made--far from it actually. I decided to try and make Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes, but I don't have a form or anything, I just tried to free form them. Well, it didn't exactly come out in any recognizable shape. But it still cooked properly and tasted good.


So, I don't know why I do it. Obviously I find it fun. It gives me a bit of a creative outlet. It gives me a chance to connect with my family. But, mostly, I guess I do it because I can. It is simple and it is free. I must think that what I have to say is important, whether it is or not. And I guess I think I have a unique perspective on things that no one else can have. So, there is a bit of arrogance in there as well.

Okay, no more introspection. More random stuff to come.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I don't really have anything profound to report so far this evening . . . but the night is young, right? Does hope spring eternal these days? Is my life that exciting and fraught with possibilities? Maybe?

What am I doing . . . trying to stall and find a reason to blog tonight I guess. Call it Blogger's Expectation or maybe Blogger's Obligation. I feel that I should have something to say even when I really don't.

Well, have I sold you on continuing to read? With this level of writer's commitment, why wouldn't you want to keep going?

I'm watching Speed, maybe Keanu's third best movie, behind the original Matrix and the transcendant Point Break. Seriously, are there other Keanu options? You could put Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure in the conversation, but that was before he was "Keanu," so I think that diminishes the value. Of course, maybe that was The Keanu Movie that started it all, right?

Um, what else can I say . . . oh! Tegan is leaving early Thursday morning for a one-and-a-half day business trip to Buffalo. She'll be back on Friday afternoon. Tegan's parents who have been here since last Saturday will also be leaving tomorrow, after I get the kids off to daycare. As usual, they have been a big help, doing some much needed cleaning and straightening, cooking dinner, etc. I tell you, it is a wonderful thing for the two of us to come home after work and not have to worry about cooking.

If none of that is of interest to you, then maybe you can consider this--

You might know of my interest in the Segway--that stand-up, two-wheeled transportation vehicle that seems like a good idea for people that simply have too much money to spend. I don't have one, obviously, but I think they would be fun to attempt to steer/ride/whatever you do. I am sad that while in San Francisco, we couldn't/didn't find Segway tours. But, anyway, there you have it . . . my interest in Segways.

But that's not the interesting part. The interesting part is this:

This is Toyota's answer to the Segway, the i-Swing. It seems kind of clunky, but maybe it'll be fashionable for the money-flush jet set.

If that bit of information isn't interesting enough for you, then how about this one? Have you thought about elvish sex? Maybe only the most hardcore of Tolkien fans (and the insane writers of fan fiction) have REALLY though about it . . . but now you don't have to think about it any more. This helpful website lays a lot of it out for you. And don't worry . . . it's not graphic or disturbing, simply informative.

Lest you think this is how I spend my evenings--feverishly searching for kinky Tolkien links--I can only promise that I found this through, a website dedicated to finding anything and everything on the internet that you would never think to look for. Besides, I already told you that I am watching Speed, okay?

Well, I don't know. This post wasn't extremely satisfying for me, but it's something. Maybe you found something interesting in it?

I'll try harder next time. I promise.