Monday, February 27, 2006

I am not James Lileks

You aren't surprised by this are you?

Frequent readers will recognize the name. I once, in a bit of hubris, declared Mr. Lileks my nemesis. But, I never really actively pursued it as a writing theme and frankly, the more I read of, the more I realized that he's a good writer, very imaginative, and apparently able to access a limitless amount of sources ranging from old matchbooks, to old photographs, to whatever.

He is a orchestrator of several different websites, all connected together around his vision, his writing, his sources.

(Do you see where I'm going here?)

I have a few websites grouped together in my little corner of the internets. But they are sad, pale things in comparison to the Lileks empire. And I am here today to celebrate Mr. Lileks, not to bury him.

Look at the insane variety of sites that he provides. There is the daily Bleat. On Monday's you can also get a new Matchbook entry--these are always fun and quick. Every Tuesday, he features a postcard from an old Motel. (Since this echoes my thesis topic and some of the research I did for it, I have a special affinity for this one.) His most recent addition is Acme, a resting place for black-and-white photos from mid-twentieth century New York. You should REALLY spend some time with these photos. Every Friday he offers his Diner Podcast, a radio program that he has been handling for several years.

There's even more (if you can believe it) but I think I've shilled for him enough.

I bring this up because I have added one more site of my own--Why Won't You Write?!

I know what you're thinking: "But Burb, no one reads more than one of your stupid sites NOW! Why waste time with another?"

Well, the reason is that I recently acquired the articles that I wrote during my brief stint as a college newspaper reporter. I thought it would be fun (and enormously embarrassing) to reproduce them for others to read. So, once a week I'll post another of my (then) weekly columns "The Authority Speaks" until I run out. I'll also eventually put my thesis up on that site as well, but it will take much longer to complete and take much longer to read--if you choose to do so of course.

So, look for a new entry of "The Authority Speaks" every Monday evening.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

101 in 1001 update

Thought I'd forgotten about this, hadn't you?

Nope . . . just going r e a l l l l y s l o o o w l l y.

But, there is always hope.

Last night I accomplished #22 and #38 last night. Can't you feel the excitement?

Seriously, you should check these out next time you come by. The caricatures all look great grouped together, framed in black frames with black matting. (It was a struggle getting those matted too, let me tell you . . . some other time.) I also included the caricature of me and Shirtless that is so hilarious.

(I also accomplished #30, but I don't remember when.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bathroom Humor

Back in the very early days of this blog, I wrote a post about someone answering the cell phone in the bathroom.

I don't have LOTS of pet peeves . . . I think . . . but the bathroom, by the nature of what's going on in there tends to be a place where rules are fairly rigid. And so, when things are seemingly out of whack, people notice. The problem is that no one is comfortable talking about this issue.

Well, since I've gone there before, I thought I'd go back again.

Just moments ago, I went to the bathroom. There was some person I don't know in there. I don't know him, maybe I've never even seen him in the building before.

But he caught my eye from the minute I walked in. The reason? We looked over his shoulder when I walked in.

"Why would you do that?" I wondered to myself. "I don't think I have ever looked over my shoulder here in this bathroom. What is this guy afraid of?"

Because that must be the reason, right? What other reason would you have to do that when you are standing there at the urinal. Is he expecting someone? Is a drug deal going down? A quick game of dice? Are they gonna smoke a joint?

And if it's none of the above, then what ARE you afraid of TwitchyDude? My third floor office bathroom isn't exactly a "rough" neighborhood. I don't think someone is going to sneak up behind you while you handle your business and knife you in the kidney. Maybe that sort of thing went down in your previous place of employment, but I don't think it has happened here since the building opened in 1999.

So . . . that was odd. But it gets WORSE!

I followed the rule of standing with an empty buffer urinal between us (plus the wall-mounted dividers, of course). We were the only two and he thoughtfully positioned himself alongside the wall so that the next person could do so (or to minimize an attack from the right?). Another person arrived (I didn't see as I didn't flinch . . . maybe TwitchyDude did) and came between us. Again, perfectly reasonable since the fourth urinal is the "short" one that is apparently placed in all bathrooms for those less in stature or for children.

(That wasn't worse . . . this is.)

TwitchyDude finished first and relocated to the sinks. I was next and when I got there I noticed that he was reinserting his shirt and fidgeting with his pants and belt at the sink, rather than doing it beforehand.

I found this to be an odd choice. Shouldn't this be done in the "privacy" of the urinal zone rather than in the more "public" zone of the sinks, in full view of the full length wall mirror?

Again, it seemed strange.

Well, I washed carefully and got the heck out of there before the NEXT weird thing occurred. But I did notice that he hadn't washed his hands yet . . . and he'd had time after he finished his pants.

Hmmm . . . is he one of those?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Your Fifteen Minutes of Hate

On the way home from work yesterday afternoon I was listening to NPR. The good folks of "All Things Considered" were interviewing Sam Jackson about his latest movie Freedomland.

I turned on the radio midway through some answer between Jackson and Michelle Norris about costar Julienne Moore. None of this was especially attention-grabbing until Jackson started talking about how African Americans are especially adept at acting differently, depending upon whom they are around. He noted that working professionally as an actor, and in the media, he acts a certain way--a markedly different way than how he acts amongst his friends. He speaks differently, chooses different words, conjugates differently, and so forth.

This, I realize, is not breaking news. Heck, even I do that . . . act differently at home or with my friends than I do with my bosses at work. It's all part of being professional and operating in a formal setting. Its a crucial skill of adulthood that is learned. But, Jackson's race colors his mention of this topic, and please note that I am not imposing that interpretation upon what he said, that is how he meant it to be understood.

This is proven by the "anecdote" that he proceeded to tell Norris, about being stopped by police and threatened earlier in his career. Sometime after Pulp Fiction came out (to my mind, but not to his, the beginning of his stardom and fame) he was in a play and was talking with friends outside the theater after a night performance. Someone must have seen Jackson and his friends talking in one place at night and called the police, reporting that African Americans with guns and bats were loitering too long in one place.

The police rolled up, shone lights and pointed guns into these innocent people's faces and started yelling at them to get down on the ground. Once it was clear that they weren't dangerous at all and had no weapons of any sort, the police (rather than apologize and admit their mistake) told them to move on, disrupting them even further.

Jackson calmly and matter-of-factly told this story as if it is a way of life, and I guess for African Americans it is a commonly heard story. I know this sort of thing happens, but to hear him explain it so calmly, so resigned (and with a bit of time and distance) just made me ashamed. I wonder when we might ever be able to get past these sorts of basic mistakes of race.


In other angry news, have you heard of American female snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis? She was a VISA spokesman before the Games started, but now she ranks alongside Bode Miller as one of the sorriest excuses for Americans since Benedict Arnold or Joseph McCarthy.

Jacobellis was solidly in the lead in the finals of this Olympics sexiest event--snowboard cross. Americans had already dominated the snowboard halfpipe event and one of Jacobellis' teammates had won the men's final earlier with a dramatically late lead change and triumph. So, all was good. Jacobellis was ahead with one jump to go, the second place boarder was far behind, heck the other two finalists had fallen down.

On the last jump before the finish line, while soaring in the air (catching BIG air, as the kids like to say) Jacobellis grabbed (tweaked) her board (deck). Was she showboating, hot dogging, adjusting for a gust of wind? It doesn't matter, apologists . . . she failed (gacked), she fell, was passed, and settled for silver rather than Wheaties box and Gold.


One more instance of arrogant Americanism run amok. One more example of "Mission Accomplisheditis." One more stain on the Red, White, and Blue. Why must we give the world opportunities to hate us so?

But it wasn't bad enough for her to be the top story all day at and to be the one tape-delayed item that everyone wanted to watch when tuning in for the 8 pm broadcast. She also had to do the march of shame, appearing in the NBC studios to be grilled by Mr. Bob Costas, to relive her youthful exuberance, to explain her shame, to dissect it for those of us up at 11:15 pm on a Friday night in the Western Hemisphere EST zone.

So, has Lindsey suffered? Not until Colbert makes "hot doggery" next Monday's "WORD."

So, how can Lindsey recover? There's only one route, in my opinion that leads back into the loving embrace of nonathletic America. She's gotta Dan Jansen us.

You remember Jansen right? He was a speedskater. He was favored in Calgary (1988) but the emotional blow of his sister's recent leukemia death distracted him and he fell in two separate races. In Albertville (1992) he stumbled in one race, finishing fourth. After being hounded by the media for days a shell of his former self finished 26th in another race. In Lillehammer (1994) he made a mistake in the 500 m race and ended in 8th place. Haunted by his demons (with the initials NBC, probably) he laced up again for the 1,000 m race. All was going well until he once again made a minor slip. But MIRACULOUSLY, he maintained his balance and his pace to win the gold and set a world record. Norwegians set themselves on fire in an ecstasy of joy and athletic achievement. NBC went insane with glee. If you don't remember this, it's cool, he's got his own website.

So that's what Jacobellis has to do. She's only 20 years old. She can qualify again for Vancouver 2010. She must then fail again, possibly falling inresponsee to the death of her dog. She must face the cameras and explain that she had learned a hard lesson in 2006, was playing it safe during her final race and was momentarily distracted by the short-haired collie that was accompanying one of the well-meaning Canadian spectators. It reminded her of Fluffles and she slipped. People will shake their heads and be sad.

Then Jacobellis must qualify again for the 2014 Games. (She'll be 28 . . . a stretch, yes, but one all the more heartwarming when placed in the capable hands of NBC videographers.) Here she will easily win and just for fun will successfully pull off her flubbed trick jump in the last moments of the race. NBC's RobobCostas will remind her of her 2006 mistake, but the twinkle in his cold electronic eye will signify that all is forgiven and that all the world loves a successful scamp.

Go for the Gold (again) Lindsey! Just make sure you make it mediaworthy!

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Electric Company on DVD

I have seen prior to today indications that The Electric Company is coming out on DVD.

I was immediately curious as this was one of my favorite shows growing up. I don't have specific recall of skits, but I clearly remember the presence of Bill Cosby, Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and Spiderman.

I wonder if my girls would respond well to the show and find it interesting or educational.

Slate has provided one view of my question with this article.

Maybe I'll give it a try.

Random stuff no one but me cares about!

I know that the Olympics have been going downhill for many years. Heck, they were probably going downhill since the modern Games were reintroduced in 1896 and athletes wore clothes instead of competing in the raw. Certainly they have been in precipitous decline since the introduction of such things as Rhythmic Gymnastics, Mountain Biking, Snowboarding, and Moguls Skiing.

But now things have gone TOO FAR dammit! Tonight on NBC, while waiting for This Old House to get started, I caught some male figure skater performing the beginning of his routine and the music made me gasp in horror. It was some piece of music from The Matrix! The MATRIX, people! This is NOT Olympic-worthy music, okay?!

And if that wasn't bad enough, I later caught the latest extreme sport that has somehow weaseled its way onto the Olympic stage--Snowboard Cross. Imagine four snowboarders racing down a twisting track of jumps and banks and turns, much like motorcycle motocross. (sigh) Pierre de Coubertin is rolling in his grave.


In other news, and as you read in an earlier post, Sarah's art class is continuing. I haven't posted any of her recent art, but the one she drew last week (and that I saw today) was so good that I had to catch up. Here are her last three drawings, in order:

This one didn't translate that well when scanned. It was a dollar bill design, complete with a cat in the portrait oval at the center. You can barely see, if you squint REALLY hard, the words "Cat Cash." I don't know what the swirl on the right side of the bill signifies, but I am sure that Dan Brown can figure out some mysterious symbolic meaning of it in his next book. As to why it was felt this to be a suitable artistic image, I can only assume that artists are fed up with being starving artists and are now resorting to counterfeiting to keep their families fed. But, hey, we'll be able to renovate the bathroom as soon as Sarah gets rid of the cramps in her fingers.

This, as you might guess, is a snowflake. I confess that I'm not sure why this was selected as an artistic image either. I suppose the pattern encourages spatial planning or drawing in symmetry or something. I just know that I like the way she drew it. I also like that it is drawn in bold black and jumps off the page (and computer screen).

This is the image she brought home today and this is the one that prompted me to get back to these images. The quality of detail in this one blew me away when Sarah showed it to me. I know that she had an image to draw from (the figure is George Washington, by the way), but still . . . I couldn't produce a drawing this well constructed myself. I am really struck by how accurately she proportioned the various physical elements of the figure, the head to the shoulders to the torso, the details of the clothing, everything. It just blows me away!

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I took books back to the library during Sarah's art class today. One that I had to return was Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself to Live. I enjoyed it a lot; Chuck has a modern, rambling writing style that I enjoy. He writes what he thinks and he thinks about a lot of random stuff.

The "reason" for this book was his cross country trip (sponsored by his employer, Spin magazine) to visit the death sites of famous rock stars. Along the way he ponders the efficacy of death adding to one's fame, his various girlfriends--past and multiple present, and his many, many, many opinions on rock-n-roll.

As was usually the case, while reading I dog-eared some pages when passages or thoughts struck me, thinking that I would later go back and use those items as the bones for my blog review. And, as usual, when I get to the point of writing things down, I can't remember what I was thinking at the time or even where the particular passage can be found on the page. This illustrates what is good about Klosterman and what is bad about me. Whether it is real or not, he presents the remembrance of his trip in vivid detail. (I venture to guess--and he admits as much--that some of it is embellished, but even so, he presents a very clear picture of the journey, conversations he had, very specific details that make the description come alive.

I find that I fail when attempting this sort of thing. That is why (reason 1 of 284) he is a famous author with three books under his belt and I am an anonymous blogger with no fan base and absolutely no recognition.

But ANYWAY (as he would write), I do wonder how much of his story is based upon hastily written notes, jotted down in hotel rooms at the end of the day and how much is fabrication. In this world of James Frey and Oprah Winfrey, we NEED to know these things, don't we? (NOTE: This book was published before Freygate and is, in fact, subtitled "85% of a True Story." How much of that is hipster authorship and how much of that is changing the names of real people and how much of that is a true reflection of his writing style is what I wonder.)

But, the point here is that I enjoyed the book. Give it a try if you want someone rambling on about nothing in particular: rock music, how to structure memory around the KISS discography, how Radiohead's "Kid A" (through no fault of its own) reflects the events of September 11th . . . stuff like that.


When I picked up my newest book at the library (see to the right), I was happy to see the renovations finishing up. Not done of course, but finishing. The media section is now in a different place and protected with detector gates. Across the hall from the reserves room is the teen media room. I wonder what books constitute "teen reading" these days, but the place looks very hip--i.e. full of iMacs.

Sadly, I don't think I can accurately report on what's in there because I think they wouldn't let me in. I don't know for sure since I'm afraid of trying it out only to be told to "beat it old dude" but the lady giving me my reserve book indicated (jokingly?) that only teens were allowed.

I know that I am not really old and that old is more of a state of mind than any sort of condition or state of being, but . . . I do realize at times like these that I am getting older.

LOST: "One of Them"

What did we learn from last night's episode of LOST?

Well . . .

1. We know that Sawyer continues to have "issues" with the island's fauna. First the wild boar, now the tree frog, next . . . a blowfish?

2. We now know what the numbers truly mean. If you ignore them as discrete digits and instead line them up like so--4,815,162,342--you get the number of times Locke will change the combination on the armory safe and ALSO the number of times that Jack and Locke will fight about it. I wish they could quit each other.

3. We also know what the Dharma Initiative was TRULY researching . . . how to achieve breakthroughs in extending the shelf life of perishable foods. I mean, come ON! Ranch dressing that doesn't go bad for seven year with no refrigeration? The island IS magical.

4. We know that the entire episode was a dream. How? Because Sawyer actually used someone's given name. (He said, "Hey Hurley . . . does this mean we're not friends anymore?" To which Hurley should have said, "Uh, yeah dude. Nobody's your friend after the gun-stealing stunt you pulled last week. And, oh yeah . . . stop calling me Jabba and maybe I'll give you the time of day . . . dude.")

5. We know that Sayid was . . . a TORTURER! Oh, wait . . . we've known that for a long time. Well, then, we know that the Americans TRAINED him to be a TORTURER! Oh, the horror! Americans corrupt everything we touch. Probably, Vice President Cheney taught Sayid how to shoot also.

For more illuminations on LOST, you could try these sites: Lost and the Entertainment Weekly weekly recap. Naturally, there is also the Television Without Pity recap, but it won't be ready until early next week.

(I miss the Transmission podcast, though! Come back Ryan and Jen!)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life, Death--the usual topics

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately. It's been going around my office, especially on my cubicle row. I went to bed early on Monday night and stayed home from work yesterday. Today I feel less coughy and sore-throaty.

On Monday night, Lynda took some adorable videos of the kids dancing around. She made one of Grace, then allowed each of them to take a turn. I was able to download Sarah's video but wasn't able to get Grace's to load correctly. You'll have to visit me to see the real thing. They are very cute, but be warned . . . these files take time to download. Go make a sandwich and come back.

In other news, you can read my latest addition to Omnimedia . . . a review of another David Lynch film that has been lying around my house and I had to get back to Netflix.

Finally, for now, read this article about a quiz that helps predict your mortality. Now, why isn't THIS an internet quiz, hmmm?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Friday night "fun"

You might wonder what a family man does on a Friday night, after working all week and facing a night of relaxation and weekend preparation.

Well, I'm here to tell you what I did last night. Whether it's what other family men do, I kind of doubt, but I can't speak for them.

Mostly we had fun with hair, as you will see.

The girls were eating supper and decided they wanted to put their hair up into ponytails that stuck up off the top of their heads--kind of like this:

Of course, it the girls are going to do it, then Mom and Dad have to play along, right?

So . . .

Long hair is fun!

And finally, the family portrait!

To see a larger image of this image, click here.

(What's sad is that this is the first family photo we've taken in quite some time!)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Waiting at Art Class

Sarah is finishing her art class. I'll pick her up in a few minutes. I was finishing up the reshelving some books in the elementary school library when I ran across some favorites of my own childhood--Encyclopedia Brown.

I think I read every one of Donald Sobel's books growing up. In each Leroy (Encyclopedia) Brown solves all sorts of crimes in the small sea-side town of Idaville. Along with his fifth-grade partner Sally, Encyclopedia helps out the kids against the tricks and cons of Bugs Meaney, the leader of the local gang--the Tigers.

Encyclopedia also helps out his dad, the local sheriff, at times. Each story is six or seven pages long and to find out the answer to the crimes that are the central portion of every story, you have to turn to the back of the book.

When I saw a line of them in the library bookshelf, I knew I would stop restocking and flip through one of them.

I quickly read four stories in one of the books, was immediately reminded of the formula that each book is built upon. Unfortunately, I was no more successful in deciphering the crimes than I was when I was eight. Most of the solutions center around one blink-and-you'll-miss-it detail that I did miss during my skimming.

(I suppose that is why I never got perfect scores on my SATs. Stupid reading comprehension!)

But it was fun to take a literary trip down memory lane.


In other blogs, there is this . . . (I can't think of, don't have time for a better transition here. Stupid lack of writing skills!)

Inspiration and Prevention--UPDATED!!


I hate it when I get a good idea, but I don't have the time to start writing it down or typing it in!

I've got a great thought for a post, but I can't take time from work to do anything about it--oh well. That is a pretty simple problem considering.

In good news, I have made a slight width adjustment to my blog template, which I think makes better use of the screen space. It will shorten my entries, making them seem less substantial, but that is only an illusion people. Don't be fooled!

In more good news, I finally bought the REST of the Fountains of Wayne album Welcome Interstate Managers. (I bought "Stacey's Mom" a while back.) Stop that laughing! I know I'm about six to ten years late on this one, but I am really enjoying it. It has a very The Office, Office Space vibe about it, which suits just fine when I'm sitting in my cube.

If I ever, God forbid, get fired or something, this will be my soundtrack.

Okay, I finished my genius idea. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More Proof that Television is the Only Medium that Matters

The new issue of Newsweek hit my mailbox yesterday afternoon.

No . . . WWYG?! is still missing from the BlogWatch. But I keep plugging along.

Stephen Colbert and The Colbert Report positively overwhelms the back third of this issue. Mult-page story, LOTS of big photos of Colbert, sidebar items, this story is GRAPHIC. Jon Stewart acts of the Godfather, beaming benevolently upon his progeny, but I can't help but wonder if someday Stewart will have to go to the mattresses against Colbert. In the media business, friendships rarely survive when competition and egos get mixed up. We'll see.

Speaking of politics and TV, did anyone know that John McCain was momentarily featured on this week's episode of 24? Nope, I didn't know either. I must agree with the end of the article in which Troy Patterson expresses some reserve with McCain associating himself with a pop culture show that utilized torture while standing up against torture in "the real world."

Jack Sparrow and the Cashew nut

I maintain that Johnny Depp is a talented actor, a principled person, and worthy of respect. Heck, he's even from my mother's home town of Owensboro, Kentucky! (saaaalute! to all you Hee Haw fans)

At least I maintained that until he sold his soul to star in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl movie and its upcoming sequel Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (which two movies combined might have beaten out Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith--the Quest for the High Ground as the most unwieldy film titles in recent memory).

So, Johnny Depp still does arty films like Benny and Joon or The Libertine, but he is now tainted as well.

Don't misunderstand. I realize that MANY, MANY actors have done this--even Tobey Maguire, who started out in indies and more thoughtful movies only to hit the big time by putting on a superhero costume.

But Depp rose above his humble 21 Jump Street beginnings to be a "serious" actor. And he WAS serious, right? He was gloomy, cryptic, he moved to France. All the ladies loved him for his unapproachable, bad boy persona.

But then, he chose to do Jack Sparrow in PotC. And I admit he did a good job. He brought interest to the character. He was the most compelling thing to watch on screen. And he was rewarded by getting an OSCAR NOMINATION for it!

I also realize that the Oscars are always incorrect with their nominations--Russell Crowe for Gladiator instead of The Insider, Paul Giamatti for Cinderella Man instead of . . . oh wait he was ignored for American Splendor and Sideways--but to honor Depp for a Disney movie based on a theme park rather than for almost anything else he's ever done had to stick in his French cigarette-smoking craw, dontcha think?

Still, this is an old argument (Depp selling out) that I have made before and nobody cares anymore anyway.

Except that now I can show you THIS! THIS is sad, people.

But how does this relate to the Cashew nut, you ask?

Well, I think Depp and the Cashew are similar. They both live off of hype, generated by a brainwashed public.

Really, someone TELL me why the cashew nut gets the publicity that it has. Is it biochemically important? Can its antioxidents cure cancer or slow the onset of male pattern baldness?

Is it the pleasing curved shape that reminds us of the female hip?

I just don't get it.

Don't get me wrong (again). I enjoy cashews. I eat them. I think they taste better than, oh I don't know . . . the Brazil nut (which has a chalky, dry crumble-in-your-mouth quality).

But why do people go in paroxysms of glee when they find cashews near the bottom of the mix nuts can? Why do people go out of their way to pick out the cashews, so they can horde them?

I just don't get it.

The cashew nut must share Depp's agent.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Conversations and Drawings

"I know that bears can amble."

Thus said my oldest daughter tonight as I was putting her to bed.

Taken aback by this turn of phrase, I checked. "Did you say amble?" Indeed she had. I asked for clarification, asking her "What does amble mean?"

"Walk slowly," she replied.

It seems that her kindergarten teacher had been teaching the children how animals move. Intrigued, I briefly quizzed Sarah.

"How do ducks walk?"

"Waddle," she replied confidently. "Penguins waddle too." (Here she stood up on her bedspread, placed her stiff arms at her side while sticking her hands at a 90 degree angle from her hips while swaying side to side (the international kinesthetic movement for waddle). I signaled my agreement that these birds do, in fact, waddle.

(What kids learn!)


Before this episode, after dinner, we played Pictionary. She had wanted to play last night, as she associates my friends coming to the house as a reason to play. (We did this on possibly one occasion and she has decided it's a normal function of all parties.)

We didn't play last night, but I told her that we might be able to play tonight. Because she never forgets those sorts of parental promises, she brought it up and I was bound to oblige.

But, it's not bad because she is (as long time readers of this blog might guess) pretty good at drawing things. She can't read the choices yet and the more abstract Pictionary items are beyond me let alone her, but if Lynda or I give her a choice, the other parent guesses what she drew. It turns out, she is a extremely skilled guesses of other people's drawings as well. I helps, of course, that we have long since lost the hourglass timer and therefore the pressure to scrawl something fast isn't there. Given time, Lynda and I embellish our drawings with clever, important, and functional details. But Sarah never fails to figure them out.

(While this was going on, Grace was alternatively playing with a tea set or watching a DVD that we borrowed from a fellow parent. The subject matter of the DVD deserves it's own special post, so I only mention it in passing tonight.)

So . . . what did she draw? I'm glad you asked. Here are some of her drawings. Can you guess correctly? Put your answers in a comment.

(Drawing A)

(Drawing B)

(Drawing C--don't let the arrow fool you. It's the whole image, not the part.)

(Drawing D)

(She made this one up, so it's a bit harder . . . but it is what it looks like.)

Super Bowl party review

The usual suspects (and a few new additions) came over to the house last night for a Super Bowl party. Because, in my world, all interesting parties need a food theme, the theme for this night was Souper Bowl.

It's a tried-and-true play on words, and sure, it might be considered trite, but you can't argue with the yummy food that resulted. Jack Thunder and Cordelia brought a delicious corn chowder filled with tender potatoes. MAS brought a chickpea, spinach, lemon-infused soup that was great. Dr. Actually and GF provided a whole pot of black bean soup with all the fixins', and Flipper brought a hot pot of vegetarian chili. Sven Golly brought some homemade wheat bread. Lynda provided lots of brownies and chocolate chip cookies. VG made her own cornbread. DG brought some crunchy French bread. Shirtless Wonder provided sweet pineapple. I made some salsa and cheese quesadillas.

The food was indeed, super. The game, alas, was pretty lame. The commercials were even lamer, lackluster, lacking in verve.

I confess that I was too busy doing other things and didn't pay tons of attention to the game itself.

Luckily, there were plenty of people that were much more invested in the game than me.

The sad thing is that we sat and complained about the game being pretty slow, but we didn't do anything about it. No one, me especially, took control of the situation and forced a change. We didn't turn off the TV, we didn't play cards, we didn't turn on a movie, we didn't play Pictionary. We just kept watching, waiting, hoping for something exciting to happen.

The girls were very good during the entire affair. They played a lot together and kept to themselves for a lot of the party. It was pretty unusual for them. I think they really enjoyed the party setup I created in the front room. (I moved our TV down from the bedroom and Lynda and I moved the loveseat up from the basement for additional seating.) The mysterious presence of different furniture energized the girls and got them excited.

Finally, thought, the game ended, people went home. Today at work everything seemed subdued. It took until late in the afternoon when the iPod shuffled up "Hey Ya!" that my spirits started to rise. (Nothing like "Hey Ya!" to get your feet tapping.) It got me to thinking . . . maybe we should leave early on depressing days like this and find a club to go to and dance like idiots. I'm not saying that I would participate in the idiot dancing, but I can imagine the scenario.)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Snow and Ice

When Lynda came home this weekend she didn't even bring any of her work home. In fact, she didn't have any work to bring home. That has been an extreme rarity, let me tell you.

But that was good, because we had plans for this weekend.

Lynda took Sarah and Grace to see Disney on Ice this afternoon with one of her coworkers who also has a three-year-old daughter.

I didn't go, giving me a free Saturday to myself.

I called Jack Thunder, to see if he wanted to see Looking for Comedy in a Muslim World. He also had a free weekend and so we set up plans to meet at his place.

Unfortunately, the movie has already come and gone from the theaters in the area. So, we went to see Match Point instead. This was definitely NOT your typical Woody Allen movie. I reminded me strongly of The Talented Mr. Ripley. It was a good movie, I guess. The actors did a good job with characters that you don't want to like. And the ending was a bit different than you expect it to be. It's not a surprise or any kind of a twist ending. It's just an atypical ending for movies of that sort.

Sorry for being oblique, but you don't want me to give everything away do you?

So, after the movie, Jack and I went down to the Gateway area, near campus. I haven't been down near OSU in quite a while and the Gateway development is looking like a very nice and needed improvement over what used to be a pretty run down and depressing section.

In general, the Short North area is a nice place to be. The apartments and condos are going up quick down there and there are lots of shops, art galleries, restaurants, everything nicely located and in walking/biking distance. It's the kind of place that lots of people wish they could live in but don't. Its the kind of place I would enjoy living in if I was single, I guess (assuming I could afford it).

While the sites were nice, the weather was decidedly NOT. We have enjoyed an extremely mild January this year and up till today, February had been the same. But it rained all morning and converted to big, wet, fat flakes of snow by mid-afternoon. The wind was blowing it diagonally into our faces as we walked.

So, Jack and I retreated for coffee and after a while I turned around for home.

I got home just in time to get dinner underway when Lynda arrived with the girls. They had enjoyed their time seeing the Princesses ice-skating. Not too many problems occurred from what I hear.

Now I'm alone. The kids and Lynda are in bed.

Tomorrow we are hosting a Super Bowl party and there is some last minute cleaning and straightening to do.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Random Subject Generator

1. TOAST: It's great, you know? I came to remember the beauty of toast recently. Lynda and I haven't had a slot toaster for years. In fact, I'm not sure that we've ever had one. So, whenever I've wanted toast in the past, I've done it using the stove's broiler. Ignoring the fact that it probably wastes electricity to heat up the stove coils for toast and then having to flip the bread to get both sides toasty--well, it just doesn't make good toast.

So, as I am wont to do, I consulted Alton Brown (host of Good Eats). He had definite opinions on what constitutes a good toaster, and he even devoted an entire episode to toast-based dishes. I even read in a recent issue of Invention & Technology about the history of toasters.

Did you know that the chemical reaction that causes the sugars in bread to change and make the bread brown is called the Millard Effect? Well, it is.

(For the record, my new toaster--which I recently bought and LOVE is an Oster brand toaster that features two long slots that are wide. That way I can accommodate four slices of regular bread, bagel halves, oddly shaped bakery loaves, almost anything.

2. Sarah's reading is getting better every day.

3. Do you ever think about the fact that the word random has a history? I know that counties have a history, sure. I can think about words having a definition . . . and even a history of usage like what the Oxford English Dictionary provides. But, I hadn't thought about it in the historical sense.

4. Did you know that the Super Bowl is coming up this weekend? It's true! For some people, that means lots of football, lots of chips, and lots of cheese. For others, that means lots of talk about commercials. For the majority of my adult life, I've grown more and more interested in the commercials. AOL has asked viewers to vote on what is the greatest Super Bowl commercial of all time. (You can get to the voting site and see the commercials themselves via this Entertainment Weekly Popwatch page.) I believe that the Apple Macintosh commercial HAS to be number 1. It was THE archetype of the splashy, Super Bowl debut ad that was a mixture of art and commerce. End of discussion.

5. Tonight, to celebrate Lynda's completion of phase one of her hellish project, we went to Graeter's for ice cream. I had a scoop of chocolate almond. It was delicious.

6. Jack Thunder sent me a link to the preview trailer of the new movie Thank You For Smoking. It looks like a good movie. What you might not know, however, is that when the trailer was aired at the Sundance Film Festival, 12 seconds were apparently missing. Director Jason Reitman claims that he didn't know about the missing 12 seconds. Fox Searchlight claims that the missing footage was due to a "technical glitch." But wait! What content went missing? It was a clip of a sex scene between Aaron Eckhart and Katie Holmes. Speculation is now running rampant (thanks to Newsweek) that Tom Cruise somehow forced the deletion. Nothing is proven, of course, but I'm a believer.

7. Sarah is sometimes so imaginative that when I am having conversations with her I don't know where reality ends and fantasy begins. It's true that I don't know all of her friends names, but tonight she was talking about her friend J.C. and I really don't know if that person exists. She was also showing me her notebook that is filled with drawings, "projects," images, and all sorts of other things that defy description. As another example, she often talks of a movie that she has seen called "Coldland." Sometimes when she describes the characters and the action it sounds like she's talking about The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. At other times, it sounds like she is describing a movie she saw but she has embellished and expanded the plot so much in her own mind that I just don't know if it's true or imagined..

8. Harrison Ford used to be a respected actor. He never reached the level of respect that someone like Dustin Hoffman has. He may not be an "actorly" actor, but he was a rock-solid guarantee of good box office and return-on-investment. He might be the Dustin Hoffman of the action movie genre. But now? Now his current movie, Firewall, is a remake of a movie he made nine years ago. And even worse? He's playing second fiddle to a car in the advertisements.

The text of the advertisement says: See the Chrysler 300 in Firewall. Harrison isn't even mentioned!