Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The games that kids play

(Let's see if I can get this right.)

Sarah got in the car with me at elementary school this afternoon and promptly said that she "had good news and she had bad news."

When she gets older, hearing those words will likely be the cause of increased anxiety on my part, but I wasn't too worried today. So, I patiently waited for her to gather her thoughts.

She asked me which she should tell me first, the good news or the bad news. I replied that it was up to her.

So, she went with the bad news first.

She told me that sometime during the day, prior to going outside to wait for me to pick her up, she misplaced her gloves and therefore didn't have them now. I told her that this was not really bad news and I was confident that she could locate the gloves tomorrow when she returned to school.

"So, " I said next, "what's the good news?"

Sarah then began to spin the beginnings of a tale that I am sure she will come back to again and again in the coming days as she thinks about it more. If my memory serves, it goes something like this (so far).

Sarah has an imaginary friend (Laura), whose cousin is 4 years older than Laura. The cousin (a boy) has a father who is overseas fighting in the war and has not been hurt. (That was the good news.) But he had been shot once before and was in the hospital for a few weeks recovering. Also . . . the father grew up in China and moved to Ohio when he got married and started his family.

As Sarah told me more of this story while I was driving the car to get Grace, it became clear that the boy cousin's mother is also in the military and is living here in Ohio, somewhere in southern Ohio, closer to Kentucky. The mother is also fighting in a war, which confused me.

I assumed that the impetus for this story was something Sarah was discussing in school or was borne out of the times she had heard Lynda talking to her mom on the phone about Sarah's cousin who has been serving as a bomb disposal specialist in Afghanistan for several years. Or it might have come from the prayers we say each week at our bible study group for relatives who are in the military overseas. But Sarah said that the cousin's mother was fighting in a war here in Ohio and the boy cousin was worried that his mom was going to be killed in the domestic war--(she didn't use the word domestic).

As we pulled into the daycare parking lot to pick up Grace, I explained to Sarah that military people serving here at home were not in danger of dying, as they weren't in combat here. But Sarah quickly pointed out, with a touch of patronizing exasperation that she was talking about an imaginary war (the DUH! was implied in her voice) and therefore the imaginary cousin's concerns were completely valid . . . in this imaginary context.

My head was swimming at this point and my careful internal psychoanalysis of where Sarah's story had come from crumbled. Now, I don't have any idea where it all came from and I suppose I don't have anything to be worried about. She's just spinning out her elaborate and detailed imagination wherever her mind takes her.

Which, it turns out, takes her to some pretty interesting places.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Harry Potter and the Censorship Battle

I listen to Harry Potter podcasts made by the staff of The Leaky Cauldron. These podcasts are usually focused on the books, theories about the upcoming book and movie, interviews with those involved in the movies and interviews with fans of the series.

There has been news lately about the efforts of Laura Mallory, a Georgia woman who has been working for over a year to remove the Harry Potter books from the Georgia school system list of approved reading books. Her suit has been denied by various Georgia educational and judicial bodies.

The Leaky Cauldron recently posted a link to Mallory's editorial in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. You can read her thoughts on the topic here.

I don't agree with Mallory's fear of the Harry Potter books. While my children haven't started reading the books themselves yet, they have seen bits of the movies here at home. Sarah and Grace have both spent a good amount of time imagining themselves as characters in the HP universe, with my assistance and encouragement. I don't have any fears that they are being seduced by any "evil" that is portrayed in the book series. I am also very secure in my ability to explain to them the moral dilemmas and motivations exhibited by each character. Both of my girls are young and I am able to effectively monitor what they see on television, what they read, and where they go on the internet. As they get older, my ability to oversee that will decrease, but I can only hope that my interactions with them now will help guide their decisions as they age. I choose not to let them live in fear and won't live in fear for what they may encounter in a world that promotes values that don't always agree with mine.

But that is part of the educational process and a very important part of being a parent. I need to let my kids know that there are people in the world that disagree with me (and with them), that there are people who make different choices then I (we) make. But we believe that those people have the right to make their choices, just as we have the right to make our own. I hope Mrs. Mallory doesn't condemn me for the choices I make, just as I will try to teach my children not to condemn her for the choices that she makes.

What I don't like, ultimately, is Mrs. Mallory's desire to deny choice and her belief that she is in a better position to choose for children than their parents are.

Friday, January 26, 2007

What did they do to you Slim Goodbody?

People of my generation . . .

(and by my generation I mean those a) not "lucky" enough to be touched by God and placed in the Baby Boomer group and b) lucky enough to have a few years of childhood before being bombarded with targeted marketing--i.e. those kids whose early childhood included Watergate and Jimmy Carter, or what I will now call "The Malaise Generation." ANYWAY . . .)

People of "The Malaise Generation" remember Slim Goodbody, that slightly creepy guy with the Brady Bunch perm and the body stocking screen-painted to look like those Human Torso models from science class. His mission in life was to get kids to eat healthier, exercise, and give a crap about their bodies.

Well, he's still around and still wearing the same body stocking. His face is a bit more lined and his curled locks are shorter, but he's still talking to kids.

But now, he's not talking about healthy eating habits--at least not exclusively. His PBS short series "Life Lessons 101" that I saw this morning with the girls focused on how kids can educate themselves against the tricks and manipulations of advertisers.

I LIKE advertising, but I realize it's manipulative and I realize that kids don't have the cognitive awareness to separate the truth from the fabrications, so what I'm about to say doesn't stem from a POV that says advertisers are OK . . .

. . . but Slim Goodbody has gotten cynical, man!

He's still out there fighting the good fight, but it seems that he's been beaten down a bit. Maybe he's upset that childhood diabetes is growing rapidly in America. Maybe he realizes that all those pleas for healthy eating in the 1970s and early 1980s were swallowed up in the rise of MTV and other engines of cultural destruction.

But, there seems to be an edge in his voice today (or maybe Xtreme Kids of Today need that edge?), but he's not so happy-go-lucky anymore.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Truth Revealed . . . Again

(I don't remember the last time I revealed the truth, but Blogger informs me that I've used that title before. But TRUST me, this truth is the truthiest of all truths.)

I've been thinking, posting about LOST lately, worrying, fretting about the future of the show and passing along hints that the end is sooner than later--though, if the end is quality and is earned, then I'm okay with it, really.

But, these kinds of things can't be kept secret in a blogging, cell phone, YouTube universe.

And so, the Final Episode of LOST is now revealed. How we'll get to these revelations are yet to be determined, but it'll be fun connecting the dots from where we are now to what you see here.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Body Movin'

How do you walk down stairs?

This thought occurred to me when I was going down the stairs at work this afternoon to deliver something to the second floor for the fourth or fifth time.

I found myself holding my upper body fairly still and centering all of my movement in the legs as I moved at a pretty rapid pace down each step. My feet create a rapid-fire percussive sound as my feet hit each step going down. All of this is fairly standard and something that I do all the time. But what made me think about all of this was when I relaxed a bit and let my arms do whatever they wanted as my body moved down the stairs.

The arms sort of bounced and jiggled in time to my feet as I moved from step to step. I am sure that it would have looked a bit odd if anyone else had been on the stairs at that time.

But do people have a distinctive stair style? Some people go slowly down stairs, moving quietly downward. I am more of a rapid stair descender--much to my detriment back in high school. (Maybe I'll put that disastrous story online later . . . but I'm sure all of my readers have heard me tell it before.)

Certainly, we all walk a bit differently. I know that my gait has a very particular limp to it that I don't think I can do anything about at this point in my life, no matter how much I'd like it to go away. (I HATE watching myself walk past large windows, by the way.) In fact, I saw a young boy walking home from school this afternoon and he had a pretty odd gait himself. I have no way of knowing if this was his normal walking style or if he was responding to something or someone I didn't notice, but when he swung his leg forward to make the heel plant that begins the forward step, his legs were very rigid and robotic in some odd way. He must have been doing it on purpose (for what reason, I can't begin to guess), because I don't think he did it on every stride. At first, I thought he was walk-dancing, but I couldn't see any headphone cords emerging from his stocking cap.

In other observational news, I also thought that this boy in question had a very nice, proportioned look about him. And the only reason I bring that up is because I often think my clothing proportions look wrong, because I'm too "short." While there is no minimum height that makes me good or bad, I think that taller men look better proportioned in their clothes. I fear I end up looking slightly dumpy. But that's probably just my insecurities rather than how I come across in reality. (I have the same thought when I am buying shoes. The shoes that are displayed for selection are invariably size 8, which must be the best, most proportionally pleasing size. When I find a shoe I like, I then go and locate the size 11 shoe that fits my feet and the design lines seem all misshapen and huge.

Whoa, I am full of self-loathing today! But though my thoughts are odd, I'm in a pretty good mood overall.

In Cruise We Trust?

I've given Tom Cruise a pass in recent years. When I first started blogging, it was fun to blame any Hollywood deaths on Mr. Cruise. But I quit doing that in part because I couldn't see an immediate connection (not that it's not there) and in part because we all began to realize that he really WAS out there and I worried for my safety.

But now, thanks to a small item clipped from the local paper by Dr. Actually, I can return to Cruise Control, with this item.

Isn't this taking superstar thing too far?

Tom Cruise is the new "Christ" of the Church of Scientology, according to leaders of the religion. The Mission Impossible star has been told he has been "chosen" to spread his faith worldwide, Britain's The Sun reports. Scientology leader David Miscavige reportedly thinks that Cruise will someday be worshipped like Jesus for his work to raise awareness of Scientology. "Like Christ, he's been criticized for his views," a source said. "But future generations will realize he was right."

(And since I want to be "thorough" and won't trust the local paper to get the trashy British tabloid story correct, I'll provide you with the link to The Sun's web story.)

So . . .

Now . . .

Um, what do we say about that?

Well, the Scientologist who said he was like Christ is a bit off, since L. Ron Hubbard is more the God/Christ figure here. Cruise, as the spreader of the faith worldwide should be more accurately compared to the Apostle Paul.

But leaving theological quibbling aside, I wonder if this isn't evidence of a connection between Tom Cruise and the show Heroes. (Stay with me here.) Because this news that Cruise was akin to a "god" was released in the papers right after Monday's Heroes episode, "Godsend" in which the Japanese character Hiro attempts to steal a famous sword from a museum. This sword had a stylized character on the handle that is translated "Godsend." And Japan is one of the few places in the world where Cruise can stand out as being taller than some of the native citizens.

So, there you have it! Cruise is a god-like prostletizer and Heroes is a front for the Scientologists.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

こんにちは、私はmacである。(and other random stuff)

That's right, everyone. WWYG?! is now bilingual! Glare in envy and shake in awe!

But what does it MEAN?

Well, that's easy . . .

It (according to Google's handy translation tool) says "Hello, I'm a Mac!

In (the aforementioned) other random stuff, it's been a hectic few days at work as my workload shifts from one project to the beginnings of three projects at once (now with even more pressure!). And so, I've been alternatively frantic, hectic, sweaty, frantic again, determined, semi-focused, desperate for a distraction, tired, satisfied, uncertain, and probably something else as well. But, today is mostly over and tomorrow it all begins again, and maybe begins better and more clear.

Let's hope.

Adding to the hecticness, Lynda has been burning her own candle at several ends, preparing for a big two-day meeting that she was in charge of organizing, agendaizing, PowerPoint-izing (?), leading, and completing. While she was focused on that for the past several days, I've been trying to maintain homelife to a degree--though not to the level that I did during the Texas days.

For example, yesterday I had leave work early yesterday to get Sarah and Grace from daycare (since school was out yesterday) and get Sarah to her dance class. But after that she wanted to make a snowman, since the snow was too powdery on Sunday to make anything stick. (After a night of drizzle and cold temperatures, it was much icier.)

I've got nothing against making snowmen (though I'm not exactly experienced), but it as going to conflict with my plans for dinner, bath, and whatever else . . . not to mention the fact that it might get dark before we were finished. However, the girls really wanted to do it, so I said okay.

Luckily, Lynda was briefly home before heading back out to the fancy company dinner. Having her help make the work go easier. But the rapidity with which we did it made me think of that series of scenes in Groundhog Day where Bill Murray's character is so desperate to implement all the stuff that he's learned about Andie McDowell in his Perfect Day date that he is rushing through everything at high speed. Well, even if you don't know the scene I mean, it was sort of like that.

The snowman, which Grace (of course) christened "Frosty" wasn't as big as the last snowman we made, but he still takes a good picture.

In other news, today is the day that the Oscar nominations are announced. I didn't even pay attention (and I still don't know which movies won) because I am absolutely certain that I haven't seen any of the movies. In fact, once I started thinking about it, I realized that I couldn't even remember what movies Lynda and I did see in the theater this year.

Naturally, there are many ways to keep up with what happened, and I'm here to provide. If you want to read someone's liveblog of the nominations this morning, I can provide that for you.

And sure enough, I haven't seen a single of the Best Picture nominees. (And I might make as much money as they have combined!)

And on further reflection, the last movie that Lynda and I saw in the theaters was Stranger than Fiction. A good movie and quite possibly the best movie I've seen this year, combining the few we've seen in theaters and those Netflix has been good enough to send me.

So, I'm not that jazzed about the Oscars this year. Hopefully the return of LOST will give me something to be jazzed about in the upcoming weeks.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Snowy, silent Sunday

Well, we finally got some snow today, the first decent snow of the season for this area.

It was snowing when we got up this morning and it didn't look like it was coming down very hard. There was maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch of snow in the road and in the driveway, but not sticking on the grass. But soon after we started eating breakfast, we looked out the window and saw that the intensity of the snow was picking up and the flakes were getting larger.

I had hoped to avoid shoveling the driveway, but when we stepped out to head to church, I thought it was best if we quickly grabbed a shovel and a broom and pushed the snow out of the way enough for one car to get down the driveway.

Naturally, the roads weren't plowed at all as the snow was in process of coming down. (The neighborhood streets are hardly ever plowed unless the snow is really strong. But even the main surface roads and the highways weren't plowed.) So, we gingerly drove to church; it probably took twice as long, but there weren't any real problems.

When we got home, Sarah and I got out and finished shoveling the rest of the driveway. The snow itself wasn't icy/sticky enough to make a snowman or even make any snowballs, but Sarah and I also tossed some clumps of snow at each other just to acknowledge Good Form (as Captain Hook might say).

Back inside I enjoyed the smell of my split pea soup that I had started in the crock pot before we left for church. (I've made three successive soups over the last three weekends. The lentil was only passable. The potato soup of last week was tasty, but it was thicker than it should have been and the recipe called for too much grated cheese in the end. Today's split pea seems a bit watery, but it'll probably taste good.)

Right now, I'm alone in my appreciation of the soup smell. That is true for two reasons. First, Lynda and the girls don't really like split pea soup and second they aren't here to smell it anyway. They left about an hour ago to see "The Frog Prince" at the downtown Columbus Children's Theater.

I've stayed home to relax a bit and finish my soup, to do a bit of work. I also need to start some food for dinner when the girls get back. (The soup is mostly for me to take for lunch during the week.)

So, that's where things are today. Tonight I'll try to do a bit more work, but more importantly, I'll be watching the return of Battlestar Galactica at 10 pm.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sonic Workplace

Things at work have been going pretty well for me lately, at least generally.

I am still trying to keep about 200 balls moving at the same time and trying to get them all in the same circle when someone calls "time" but in the last few weeks, I've felt that I'm doing a pretty good job of that.

Naturally, when I stop to really think about it, I can identify probably 50 additional balls bouncing slowly to the side that I need to start paying attention to. If I don't figure out what to do with those ball soon, their bouncing will increase such that I won't be able to direct them anymore.

(My metaphor is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, so I'll quit using it. Suffice it to say that I've been moving along well lately, while trying not to let other stuff drive me to nervous distraction.)

But, I didn't start writing this post to talk about balls.

This afternoon, after a bit of a nervous lunch in which I was worried that those 50 balls on the side were getting ready to bounce a bit higher, I tried to focus a bit and worked on some computer stuff while listening to my iPod. In the midst of this work, Peter Gabriel's I Grieve shuffled up.

This song is a bit depressing, I'll admit, but for whatever reason, the words caught my mind and it helped soothe me into the early afternoon. It inspired me to stop tonight and write these brief thoughts down, but I knew that it wouldn't be a very effective post unless I could provide you a link to the song itself. (Luckily, YouTube provided on the page I provided above.) What I didn't realize when I started searching for some way to present the song is that it was written (I think) in response to September 11th, which is sort of made implicit in this 2002 Larry King clip.

The odd thing is I went into this evening just being thankful for the song that helped calm me down from some moments of anxiety. Now I look at the song itself from a different point of view. Certainly my workplace problems aren't nearly so dire. But it wasn't the lyrics themselves, but rather the overall sense of the song that made me pay attention and divert my mind into a different direction.

As a parent, I often try to divert my girls from their anger or disappointment into a different direction, in an attempt to make them calm down or to see things in a different light. (Speaking of calming, while writing this sentence Moby's Fireworks just shuffled up--a song that is the sonic equivalent of calm.) I guess Gabriel's song did that for me today.

So, was there another reason for this post? Nope, not really. Maybe the brief sonic tour will provide a diversion for you wherever you are and whatever you're thinking, doing, feeling.

Happy listening . . . and go buy the albums.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Golden Globes will be blogged, apparently

8:00--The only thing for you to know this award season is this:

You can't stop Jennifer Hudson, you can only hope to contain her. I'll put it down right now that she is the only dead certain lock of this year's Oscar broadcast. Her unstoppable train just started rolling down the tracks, snagging her the first award of the Golden Globes for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.

The other thing that I'll say while I try to understand why Prince's song just won Best Song from the movie Happy Feet is that I like how the Golden Globes just kicks into the awards without apology. The broadcast is only eight minutes old, just went to its first commercial, and has already given out two awards. In that amount of time the Oscars wouldn't even be done with its self congratulatory film montage and host monologue.

But, back to the Prince song . . . Justin Timberlake was the award presenter and when it became clear that Prince wasn't going to be there to accept the award (and why would he since he's Prince!), JT made a visible crack at the Purple One's lack of height by bending his knees to drop below the microphone to "accept the award on Prince's behalf."

I wouldn't piss of Prince, but then I didn't singlehandedly Bring the Sexy Back.

. . .

8:19--And then I had to go upstairs to calm down Grace. She has been sleeping with Sarah more and more lately, but tonight Sarah wasn't interested. That upset Grace, so I had to distract her and calm her down while trying to get her to stay in her bed. Since she suddenly decided she wants another birthday party, I got her talking about what sort of cake she wanted, who she wanted to invite, etc, etc. We'll see if she stays in her room now. But I still here some walking around upstairs, so I'm not currently optimistic.

8:22--And, in my absence from the TV, Lynda has taken control of the remote and the prospects of me keeping up with the newest awards from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is getting slimmer. But, I probably won't be too upset if I can't see that Dreamgirls is growing more and more popular and award-worthy by the minute.

8:32--The Golden Globes can't compete with Gay, Straight, or Taken, the show that is currently airing under Lynda's supervision. The set up? A girl goes on dates with three guys, each of which fits the titular categories. If she picks the available straight guy they go on a paid vacation. If she picks either the gay guy or the taken guy, she gets nothing except slight humiliation and television exposure and they get to go on her vacation with their actual spouse.

8:38--While I sit around wondering what's going to happen to the television, I have to talk about what I perceive have been occurring on LOST during the hiatus. Everyone knows that the show decided to divide the show into two pods, a 6-episode mini arc stretching from late September through Halloween and then disappearing into holiday hiatus, not to return until February 7. I've said before that I understand why this was done--to avoid breaking up the story development with random weeks of reruns. But, the affect that this has had on LOST's momentum has been dangerously crippling in this a critical third season.

Season 1 was a tour de force, a juggernaut of water cooler buzz and excitement. Season 2 was solid, but disappointed when measured against the unreasonable expectations of Season 1's super success. But, the end of Season 2 caught me again and got me excited. And the LOST Experience web promotions during the summer did a fair job of keeping the mythology in the public eye. Plus, the media was still drinking the LOST Kool-Aid and was supporting the show with lots of articles.

Season 3 has been hard to judge because it hasn't been on that much, but it is definitely getting beaten in the media's eyes by Heroes. But even more worrisome is that the extended multi-month hiatus has moved the show out of people's consciousness and the media has seemingly given up on pushing for it.

For instance, a few weeks ago, Entertainment Weekly published its Winter TV Preview issue, focusing on new shows that are premiering in this new segment of the year. And while its not surprising that LOST wasn't mentioned because it's not a NEW show, it also wasn't mentioned in the returning shows article. That REALLY got me worried, since EW has been one of the show's most vocal supporters in the past.

And then today, I saw this story. Once you read it, it doesn't seem as dire as the headline, but it's clear that even Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof are (maybe?) seeing the writing on the wall and trying to wrap things up before ratings plummet. It just makes me sad; so much potential lost--no pun intended.

All this so that Daybreak could be a big flop.

Thanks, ABC.

8:54--It looks like blogging the Golden Globes isn't going to happen tonight after all. Lynda's rule of the remote hasn't flagged and she doesn't seem interested in finding out if Babel will be an unexpected winner.

9:27--We've settled on Super Nanny, the show on ABC that I really haven't watched more than ten minutes of prior to tonight. It's a show that must be propped up by parents, because I don't understand why anyone without kids would watch it. The premise is that out of control kids prompt a family to call in the Super Nanny (a British Mary Poppins wanna-be named Jo) who observed exactly how out of control the kids are and then helps teach the parents how to be parents. Predictably, the kids are usually the worst imaginable and the parents are as hapless about what to do as is necessary to make the show dramatic.

I think parents watch the show because it must make them feel better about their own kids and how their parental styles and problems compare.

Come to think of it, Andy Rooney might watch this show. Heck, he's so famously curmudgeonly that he might produce the program.

10:01--Tom Hanks is congratulating Cecil B. DeMille award honoree Warren Beatty. But that's the last I'm saying about it. I'm done for the night, as this blog ends with a whimper, not a bang of any kind.

Staying mainly on the plain

It's been a pretty slow (and rainy, ALWAYS rainy!) day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I stayed with the kids most of the morning and through the afternoon while Lynda worked at the office. I am mentally struggling with the decision NOT to work on any of the office stuff that I brought home with me on Friday evening and has sat untouched throughout the weekend.

I am also not sure if I'll watch the Golden Globes tonight, though I don't have a whiz-bang alternative. I'm plowing through the aforementioned book given to me by Lulu, but it's not the sort of thing that demands I keep reading. Lynda will probably find a reason to do more work tonight, if I let her.

This morning I got two cavities filled, the first time I've experienced that in probably two decades or so. It's not that I don't take good care of my teeth--I brush at least twice a day, floss every morning, and have even added fluoride rinse to the regimen in recent months. The problem comes from my wisdom teeth, that came in crooked and resisted all attempts by my childhood dentist to straighten them out. Also, I could not afford to remove them since my orthodontist had already removed four teeth to give my braces room to work .

So, I'm stuck (I guess) with my crooked wisdom teeth and since they're in there all wonky, it creates areas that my toothbrush can't get to effectively. As a result, cavities set in in hard to reach places and so this morning I went under the drill.

I am usually a pretty good patient and while I can sit still and let the doctor do his thing, the sound of that high pitched drill whine automatically makes me tense up. Even willing myself to relax didn't really do the trick, so for the better part of an hour I was tensing and relaxing, tensing and relaxing. When I got home I had to change my shirt because I had sweat in it pretty noticeably.

The novicaine wore off around lunch time and I'm lucky not to be in pain, but I'll be drinking water and other cold liquids without ice for a while to let my tooth nerves calm down for a bit. I try to feel around back there with my tongue, but I can't quite tell what was done or if part of my tooth is gone. Honestly, it's pretty hard to know exactly what dentists do. You're staring into a bright light while they mutter to the nurse for this band and that burnisher, this tip and that compound. All the while he's keeping up a steady stream of talk about attending the bust of a BCS bowl game in Arizona last week.

So, I hope I'll be recuperating nicely over the next few days and that I can brush more effectively back there. Maybe I need to break down and get an electric brush or a water pic or something to access the nether regions of my food hole?

Still not sure if I'll do the Golden Globes or not . . . but even if I do, don't rely on me for all the best insight. They do pay other people to do it you know . . . you just don't happen to know them personally.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

What I'm doing when I'm not blogging on the Golden Globes

Whoops . . . I thought the Golden Globes was tonight and I thought (since I don't have to be at work tomorrow) I would blog my thoughts while keeping half an eye on the awards show.

But, the GGs must be on tomorrow night, because NBC (whom I think own the broadcast rights to the show) are instead insulting our intelligence and banking on (some of) our nostalgia with the show "GREASE: You're the One that I Want," a reality talent show that could be best described as "You mean this isn't "American Idol"? and the prize is a one shot chance as anonymity on Broadway?"

Of course, that isn't the only thing that is on TV tonight. The juggernaut that is "24" begins it's sixth season tonight with the first installment of a two-night premiere.

I watch a fair bit of TV and read about even more, but "24" is a show that I missed from the beginning and have never bothered to keep up with. A great many people are devoted to it and I am sure that it provided excitement, thrills, and suspense aplenty, but the increasingly worsening days of Jack Bauer have never caught my fancy. Probably some of that is due to programming. I think it was always broadcast on Tuesday nights in the past, a night when I don't watch much television since I am driving back and forth from Hilliard for our weekly bible study class.

But anyway, "24" is kicking off tonight and from what I am seeing so far, there are words like "terrorist," "drop point," "extreme prejudice" (I kid you not!), and the usual split-screen excitement going on. I think the villain this year is Arabic--possibly Iranian?--and only Jack Bauer, sprung from Chinese jail by the direct intervention of the Executive Office, can save the day (literally! 24, remember?).

We'll see . . .

So, to sum up so far . . . no Golden Globes, but don't worry. I've got a hand written backup plan tonight. Earlier today, while keeping an eye on the girls while Lynda spent some time at the office, I jotted down some thoughts. I'll type them for your (undeniable) enjoyment.

I'm sitting in the basement with the girls.

Actually I'm sitting inside a folding tent-like chamber that is vaguely like a human-sized version of those plastic hamster habitat tubes. Sarah and Grace are sitting beside me in their own habitats. Sarah is repeatedly singing the word "telephone." I think that she is imagining a TV video--complete with dialogue from two imaginary female characters.

(By the way, have I told you that I sometimes wonder if Sarah is schitzophrenic? Her imagination seems so vivid and real and present . . .)

Grace is so convinced of Sarah's "video" that she is constantly clicking the video player (which is really just a plastic toy they are reimagining as a VCR) on and off, on and off--much to Sarah's anger since it disrupts the constant stream of dialogue that she is creating. It seems that the two female characters are obsessing over their lack of friends. (Are my girls becoming insecure already?)

Now Grace has started playing random notes on the electronic keyboard down here in the basement and before I am finished writing the sentence she is back again arguing that Sarah won't share the video tape that doesn't really exist.

Now they are telling me about a new movie "Chicken in Love," a movie that they are in the process of making up, but they are doing it so quickly, my handwriting can't keep up with the unspooling movie--and the accompanying theme song--as my hand cramps and I lay on the floor, scribbling notes on scrap paper with a dull Crayola colored pencil (gray, in case you are interested).

The girls ability to constantly talk, downloading all of this stuff down from their brains is amazing to see. I suppose I did the same thing when I was young, out in the backyard, sitting on a folding chair set on top of the picnic table, flying the Millennium Falcon through the galaxy.

. . .

Sorry, I had to stop and argue with them for a minute when Sarah got upset because Grace was "staring at her." I wonder why this is so surprising, since Sarah has done nothing but carry on a stream-of-conscious, two-person dialogue while looking at a plastic toy for the last five minutes. But I try to encourage Grace to play with some of the many other toys surrounding us here in the basement. It's amazing that they spend so much time complaining about what to do, given this fact of toys. I swear, I should donate the whole lot of these toys to someone else and convert the basement into my own Fortress of Solitude.

And really, they are usually asking me to "play" with them but all I'm doing is taking notes while lying on the floor, like an anthropologist studying the Yanomamo. I guess they only require my presence, not necessarily my participation (at least on this day). But there are times when I wonder why I shouldn't be upstairs continuing to read my newest book (Can't Take My Eyes Off of You: 1 Man, 7 Days, 12 Televisions by Jack Lechner) which was given to me by Lulu. I also just finished reading Chuck Klosterman IV. So, it's an overload of pop culture musings and quirky observations.

Of course, these are the things I could be doing for a living if I had talent or connections. Instead I read others doing it first and doing it better.

All right, bitterness over . . .

Being a writer means being well read, something I observe often. This has been reinforced many times recently as I listened to Ronald Moore's podcasts of his show "Battlestar Galactica." He often points out in his remembrances of episodes how many references to books and movies the writers of the show use as their jumping off points for episode ideas. This was reinforced again this morning while I was watching "The Backyardigans" with the girls. The writers for this kids show were relying on the murder mystery genre/Sherlock Holmes tropes to create their kiddie whodunit.

That made me wonder about the writer's decision to make the butler the first suspect in the episode. At first I thought it was a bit of a cop-out and a lazy way to write the episode, but then I thought that I was being too postmodern, too meta- for a kids show. So, then I wondered if the writers felt some obligation to put "the butler did it" in the episode because its such a cultural idiom that they are required to hand it down to the next generation.

If that is so, this is an interesting reflection on our current culture. Earlier parents had to teach their kids how to grow corn and make bread. We now might be obligated to teach our kids how to be pop culture literate so they'll understand snarky cocktail small talk.

(The Greatest Generation, we're not.)

Friday, January 12, 2007

"Killing me won't bring back your damn honey!"

I know, I know . . .

My posts haven't been very original lately, meaning they haven't been very introspective or especially about ME. They've been about stuff that I read or saw that I wanted to share and pass along.

I haven't even commented about those items very much.

Truth be told, my posts have been pretty random and surreal in nature.

Well, I'm sorry about all of that, but this post will be no different.

Before you give up in disgust, you have to understand that I have NO CHOICE but to pass this one along.

This YouTube video, which I read about on Popwatch this evening is EASILY the funniest thing that I have witnessed in weeks. I haven't seen The Wicker Man--though all accounts say the original movie and last year's Nicolas Cage remake are equally bad--but the random collection of movie clips assembled by this YouTuber is so funny my stomach hurt for several minutes and I was crying.

(Ask Lynda, she'll tell you that she was worried about me.)

Please, just watch it. I hope you can get a good laugh out of it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Ahnuld the Snowman

If you never ever listen to another episode of This American Life, you really should link to this one (January 3, #323) and listen to the second story "Super Duper."

I really don't want to spoil it for you, so please take the time at home to plug in and marvel.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The i's have it . . .

Today, all the news was about the iPhone, the revolutionary new phone/iPod/wireless internet device that Steve Jobs introduced at the MacWorld convention.

Everything that you hear about new technology is always to be taken with a grain of salt and all new technology is unproven/less-than-tested technology.

BUT . . .

. . . that new phone SURE looks like a nice piece of work and it's iPod functions alone would make it worth having. If it can live up to the billing as an actual phone/wireless device, then Apple may put a serious hurting on Nokia/Blackberry/Treo.

You can click on the photo below to be taken to the Apple website to read and see all about it for yourself:

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Random Entries Sunday

I had a brief discussion with my next door cube mate Thursday afternoon (the day I actually started typing notes for this post. She is BSG fan and she told me there were rumors flying that Katee Sackoff's Starbuck character is going to be killed off sometime after the show returns Sunday January 21. Now, I don't believe that and I certainly don't want that to happen. I thought is that any reports that Sackoff wants off the show probably has to do with contract negotiations (the Nick Saban school of negotiating?). But I have a solution if she does go . . .

I suggested to my cube neighbor that the show's writers make Starbuck undergo gender reassignment surgery. Then Starbuck can remain on the show as a man, Sackoff gets to leave and the BSG purists are glad that Starbuck's gender has been restored to it's original conception. Now, the writers could also make Dirk Benedict the actor that steps in to play the newly conceived Starbuck. (This would also make the nostalgic purists happy). But here's the biggest twist of all. Allow Apollo to stay in love with now-male-Starbuck because when he looks in Starbuck's eyes, he still see Kara Thrace staring back at him, just like Belle did at the end of Beauty and the Beast.

Why aren't I writing television? And Ronald D. Moore, why aren't you reading this?

Have you see the Harry Potter clothes at Hot Topic (thanks The Leaky Cauldron). Do these kids look like Potter fans? What do Potter fans look like?

The ever informative Entertainment Weekly blog, Popwatch told me the other day about Wil Wheaton's posted commentaries of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. As the Popwatch article indicates, Wheaton was there and now, apparently, doesn't have any problems letting us all know what he saw, what he remembers, and even what he didn't like. All this coming from the actor who played one of the most reviled Star Trek characters in the entire (almost) half century of the Star Trek franchise's existence. Great stuff!

(Back to Battlestar Galactica . . . ) Ron Moore's statement that I heard in a BSG podcast--that "you can't be truly adult until your parents are dead" made me sit up a bit. Luckily I don't have that problem, and I instantly rebel against that idea. However, it does flow into my realization lately that I am aging--and I realize that I'm not as old as many of my readers so keep your sarcastic comments to yourself or voice them in the quiet of your own reading space--but I have noticed more gray hairs in my beard lately and I found myself staring at my face in the mirror last night. When I stare in the mirror, I have always been able to see (mostly) the same face that I've always seen, but--either psychosomatically or really--I thought I was noticing a different face looking back at me for the first time. Of course, that essential quality of my face will always be there (baring fire or skin grafts) but that face was deeper below the surface than I remember in the past. This is mostly ramble and probably either narcissistic or insulting to others, but it's (mostly) stream of consciousness and suited to a collection of random ideas and thoughts.

Lastly, here are some interesting bits from a website that Popwatch told me about-- It's a kind of site that let's you see (someone else's opinion about) how music and movies connect to one another. So, if you like . . . oh, I don't know . . . Beck, you might also like some group called Grandaddy. If I like Mel Gibson's film, liveplasma suggests that I give Rob Minkoff's "The Haunted Mansion" and Peter Hogan's "Peter Pan" a try. The reasons for these choices are, I am sure, clear deep within the HTML coding of the liveplasma website, but I'll be darned if I can understand it right now. I'll have to keep searching until I can find the meta-individual that bridges all entertainment/media outlets into one Einsteinian whole.

Of course, if they'd program ME into the site, that search would end pretty quickly. :)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Won't Lynda Write?!

I put Grace to bed tonight. Right after I finished singing "Angels We Have Heard on High" and rubbing her back simultaneously, she says, "Will you rub my back one more time?" "Ten rubs," I said. One-two-three...nine-ten. Done. I lean over and give her a kiss on the forehead. "I love you sweetie. Hope you have a good night's sleep." She immediately starts to whimper/whine, "I want you to rub my back just one more time." Thankfully she can't see me roll my eyes in the darkness of her room. "No, Grace. You'll have me in here all night with 'Just one more time'. Now give me a kiss and go to sleep." She hides her face, pouting into her pillow, so I start to leave. "NO!!! I want to give you a kiss." I smile slyly in the dark. "I'm so glad, " I say, "I really wanted a goodnight kiss from you." She gives me a little peck on the cheek. I say one last goodnight and pull her door almost closed as I exit the room. Sarah is still sitting at her writing desk as I pass her room, which corners up to Grace's room. I whisper to her to turn off the light and get some sleep. "But Daddy said I could do this," she whines. I sigh and signal to her that she's got about five more minutes and then it's lights out. She frowns, but I'm not sticking around for more protests. I'm down the stairs and headed to the fridge for a Coke.

David's sitting at the computer, but he soon moves to do some work he's brought home. I thumb through the Scholastic book order Sarah's brought home. Nothing looks worth ordering. I mention a few things I see in there to David. He has to turn down the podcast he's listening to in order to here me. I decide to leave him alone.
I should really do some work too. I brought home a book a coworker lent me. She had to read it to meet one of her performance management goals. It's called TEAM THINK and its all about how to run more effective meetings. Yes, its a book I should peruse. I'll be leading more meetings this year than ever before, and I could use the help. My friend has tagged some pages, so I glance over those topics for a while.

Soon David and I hear footsteps upstairs. A few at a time, in short bursts. Then it sounds like two set of feet moving up and down the hall. What's going on up there? Then the movement stops. We don't hear anything for a little while. Did they just both have to use the bathroom one last time? Then we hear the familiar BUMP, BUMP, BUMP,... of Grace sliding down the stairs. Next we hear her run and hide in the front room. This is a familiar pattern. Grace always gets up once after we put her to bed. Usually I just carry her back to bed, rub her back a few times, and give her another goodnight kiss. Tonight is no different. I scoop her up, carry her up the stairs, and back to her bed. As I start to leave, I see Sarah standing in Grace's doorway. I shoo her back into her own room and head towards the stairs, but she's got a story she wants to tell me. "What did Grace say to you?" Sarah asks. "Nothing," I reply, "Why?"

Here's what she said, with several ums and stops to look down at her lap.
"Well, after you put her to sleep, she came in my room and stood there for a while, so I asked her if she wanted me to rock her. She said yes, so I rocked her in the rocking chair. Then I took her back to her room and asked her if she wanted me to rub her back. She did, so I rubbed her back. Then I asked her if she wanted the door open or closed. She said open, so I left it open. Then I went back to my bed. Then I heard her going downstairs, so I said, 'You better not be asking Mommy or Daddy to rock you or rub your back, because I already did!' "

I leaned over and kissed her on the head and told her she was the best big sister in the world! The grin on her face was as wide as a mile as she crawled under her covers.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thoughts from the 4th Floor

Everything seems more isolated up here--probably helped by the division of the department (one group on the East side of the building and the other group on the West side of the building; we should start a Biggie/Tupac-style feud).

There is always a sense of change when I'm walking up the stairs in the morning (and it's not the aching of my thighs either). Somewhere halfway up the landing towards the 4th floor, I can feel the presence of the ceiling and the fact that the stairs are ending--before I see the ending step.

On the first day going down to lunch, my body--used to the rhythm of descending three flights of stairs swung out to the side when I hit the second floor landing. I hitched to a stop to prevent from going into the wrong floor.

My clothes are also taking a beating since I moved up here. On day two, I ripped my dress shirt's sleeve in the bathroom stall when the coat hook grabbed hold of the material and I swung the door. Today, I got soup all over another shirt when I was preparing to heat up my tupperware dish and the released pressure created a geyser of soup onto my unsuspecting chest.

Everything seems more utilitarian somehow than it did down on the third floor. Possibly it's the more muted colors on the cube out panels. Maybe it's the view of the interstate rather than the parking lot (does that make a significant difference?). Maybe it's on the top, so it is more isolated and somehow more quiet than the other floors, sandwiched as they are between layers.

Maybe I expect it to be different, and so it becomes different.

Or maybe I just need to bring my BURGER KING Crown to work and assert some dominance over the situation.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007? Bring it ON!

So, how did you spend the first day of the new year?

Mine started off with a bang! (The fireworks were loud at midnight for a few minutes but didn't wake the kids up, thank goodness.

I slept until 8:30 this morning, something that is surely NOT a harbinger of things to come for the coming year. And then the power promptly went out for about an hour or so this morning. But things were soon restored. Lynda restocked our vacation-impaired panty shelves and the girls played on the computer for a while and played with some of their new Christmas gifts.

I made a pot of lentil soup, which I will eat on this week at lunch. I hope to make more soups this year, both as a efficient use of money and as a good, healthy source of lunch. It's also one of my 101 goals that I can safely achieve in this, my last 13 months or so of the 1001 days.

Tonight we took the girls over to a friends house for dinner and now the kids are settling down into bed in preparation for the return of routine. I hope we can all successfully put back on the mantle of work, school, dinner, homework, deadlines, anxiety, and all of the other elements of life that separate us from vacation and make vacations worth going on.

I hope your First Day was relaxing and satisfying and that it is a day that you will be happy to repeat throughout the coming 364 days.