Sunday, May 30, 2010

Notwithstanding his association with the "Prince of Persia" flick, what's your beef with Jake Gyllenhaal? And, if I may, do you dislike Maggie Gyllenhaal?

I'm jumping out of order on this one . . . AND I'm answering more than one in a day. (My "Blogging for Success" book says you have to develop a relationship with your readers . . . so I am accommodating YOU trustworthy questioner!)

So . . . what is my beef with Mr. Gyllenhaal? Well, mostly it stems from his constant comparisons Tobey Maguire back ten years ago. At the time they were both up-and-coming young actors. Both has large doe-y eyes. And they both a.) were supposedly in the running for Spiderman and b.) dating Kristen Dunst.

(So much so that when Maguire was rumored to be out of the Peter Parker role for Spiderman 2, there was strong opinions that Gyllenhaal would step right in.)

Andbutso, the point is, I've always thought Maguire was the better actor. I first loved him in Pleasantville, and really, really loved Spiderman and especially Spiderman 2. And I liked The Ice Storm and thought he did a fine job in Seabuscuit. Meanwhile, Gyllenhaal was in stuff like The Day After Tomorrow, etc. (Though I really did enjoy Donnie Darko.)

And there were always these persistent rumors that Maguire was a bit pretentious and a bit Too Much. But at least he never had The Bubble Boy on his resume.

So, while I was in the throes of my love for Spiderman and Spiderman 2, I became (willingly) associated around my office friends as a lover of all things Tobey. And to help bolster that definition, I sort of adopted a (kind of irrational) dislike of all things Gyllenhaal. And it helped that another of my work friends was willing to play along and support Gyllenhaal in opposition to me.

But that has mostly died off at this point. If pressed, I'd say that Tobey deserves an Academy Award before Gyllenhaal's pecs get nominated for one. But I'm willing to live and let live as I get older.


As to Maggie, I don't dislike her at all. I enjoyed her just fine in The Dark Knight, squirmed my way through two-thirds of Secretary, didn't realize she was in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, need to watch Donnie Darko again, and keep getting her mixed up in my head with Zooey Deschanel.

But, no. I have no beef whatsoever with Maggie Gyllenhaal.

So, there's my answer.

Thanks for asking.

If you had to convert to a non-Western religion, which one would it be?

I am not going to give this answer much in the way of the appropriate thought that it should have. And partly, I feel that I should do some research and think about it for a while and really, kind of, PRAY on it . . . you know? (For all the humor that brings to your mind . . . )

But, my initial gut reaction when i read the question was Buddhism.

The mental discipline aspect of it (or what I perceive it to be) appeals to me.

(And let me say as I go forward with this answer that I haven't done the aforementioned research and I'll speak in half-truths, misrememberances, demonstrations of profound ignorance, and who-knows-what-else as I complete this answer. But from this word on, I'll do it with CONFIDENCE.)

So . . . Buddhism seems like an attractive way to live a life. If you are really into it, it is a way of thinking about the world and your place in it. How you can connect with others and see how you affect (or don't affect) them. Such an attitude could probably help a lot of Christians, I venture to say.

Anyway, I've read some Daoist koans--back in college when "The Dao of Pooh" and "The Te of Piglet" were popular. (Yeah, I read them both.) But I also did read some honest-to-goodness koans. And I liked the thought-puzzle nature of the phrases. Plus, one of my brothers was into that at the time and I enjoyed the connection that it gave us.

Anyway, that my answer.

Thanks for asking.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST: The End

In the summer of 2004, I started seeing commercials for a new J.J. Abrams TV show called LOST. The commercial details were carefully vague. I noted a ensemble cast and the only member of the cast that I recognized--and who was featured prominently--was Dominic Monaghan, of The Lord of the Rings movie fame.

I was a Dom fan and certainly was a fan of Abrams other TV show then running, Alias, so I thought I would give it a try. But I wasn't particularly thrilled about it or anything. I probably thought something along the lines of "Hmm. Castaways on an island, huh? Well, Survivor has already done that (for reality programming), and I have serious doubts about how they can sustain a viable plot when you are confined to a deserted island."

(The lesson, as always . . . I'm no genius.)

Six years later and I watched it all end Sunday night. Other than M*A*S*H's "Goodbye, Farewell, Amen" this was (I think) my most anticipated series finale ever. And in a similar way to the M*A*S*H send off (or even parts of The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King or the last several chapters of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) LOST's "The End" had me crying here and there, swept up in the emotional experience of saying goodbye to the characters that I have experienced for these many years.

When LOST began, I didn't know what to expect. But when poor Greg Grunberg's pilot was snatched invisibly into the air with a mysterious roar/ticking sound and his bloodied body was seen atop a 20 foot tall jungle tree . . . well, I got hooked pretty fast. The mysteries just kept flying in that first season and I traded many impressions with my friends on WWYG?! Omnimedia.

One of my favorite moments was when a friend of mine was complaining about how 40+ people survived the crash, but we only got to intereact with about ten of them. Here is how she broke down the cast list at that time, probably no more than two or three episodes into the series:

Lin (should have been Jin)
Large hippie (funniest bit of all; this, of course, is Hurley)
GWH (stands for Great White Hunter, a.k.a. John Locke)
Cute thief (poor, poor Boone)
His bitchy sister (the almost universally reviled Shannon)
The Dog (ahh, Vincent)

So . . . LOST has been a part of my life for years and it has been a commonality through a great many changes, most notably at work where friends and colleagues have come and gone, moved up, and moved away. During the first season, I brought in video tapes of episodes and we would eat lunch while watching it in a meeting room, then debate.

Seasons 2 and 3 broke up that party for most people. The show never recovered from those years, which many felt where meandering and muddled. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have publicly said many times that they were admittedly stalling while they tried to figure out how to plan the steps they foresaw to tell their story in the time they wanted. (Probably a good amount of hogwash there, but I forgive them some of their misstatements over the years.) My friend Shirtless has never been able to completely forgive the show for what happened in Season 2 . . . but any season that introduced us to the fabulous Michael Emerson and the character of Henry Gale/Ben Linus can surely be forgiven a few tedious experiences with "Waaaaaalt!" and "Where's my BOY!!???!"

Oh how we debated the history of the DHARMA initiative! How excited I was when "The Man Behind the Curtain" provided us with Ben's flashback story. And then, the next big surprise . . . the flash forward that marked the season three finale "Through the Looking Glass" and the tragic, heart-tugging end for Charlie Pace. (I don't think I've ever enjoyed a simple piano piece as much as the one that Michael Giacchino composed for Charlie's death and for every subsequent death scene in the show.)

Even when the show experimented--as with "The Other 48 Days" when we rewound the tale to see it from a different set of "Tailie" characters or, most infamously, in "Expose" when Nikki & Paolo--two of the "socks" (background characters) were brought forward to become a walking talking part of the cast--I found things to like. I've been drinking the LOST kool-aid from the very beginning and I wasn't going to let anything slow me down.

And so, Sunday came. I knew ahead of time that all of the mysteries weren't to be answered. I knew that the perpetrators of the outrigger shootout from the Season 5 time jump would not be revealed. I had made my peace with the fact that the glowing Heart of the Island had only been introduced a few TV hours previous. But I also knew that the story of the Oceanic 815 survivors would finally be told. And I was moved and pleased with how it ended. Many people have said that they loved the first 2+ hours and disliked the last fifteen minutes. And I have grown very frustrated with the misperceptions that many have taken from what Christian said to Jack in the church. But I have to let that go and let other people make up their own minds as to what they think they saw. (I suspect that each of us would experience an encounter with the Smoke Monster differently, as well.)

So . . . goodbye to LOST.

As I said at the end of things that night . . .

Monday, May 24, 2010

Working with an iPad

I am at the Easton Apple store waiting for Grace to finish a Daisy Scout visit to Build a Bear workshop. So I took the opportunity to get my hands on an iPad for the first time.

It is surprisingly heavy when you lift it up. And considering my recent problems with dizziness and a fear of dropping fragile things, I began to wonder if I was going to drop it. (Wouldn't THAT have been a tragedy!)

But I am not writing this on an iPad--though I tried. I was able to load up a new post, but I couldn't get the keyboard to come up when I was in the text entry screen. I wonder what I was doing wrong.

Right now I am typing this on a MacBook laptop--something that might serve as a replacement to my increasingly decrepit iBook G4. I like the feel of this keyboard and the laptop as a whole is feeling pretty solid. Not that I am in the market to buy anything at the moment.

But I was just wanting to get a feel for things.

I think I would feel very self conscious holding and working with the iPad--and I don't know if I could get use to the keyboard. It seems to feel a bit more cramped, but I didn't get much of a chance to really try typing.

Anyway, that's it for this field report. I'd better go before someone tries to make me buy something.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour

Back before Stephen Colbert ran for the presidency there was Pat Paulson.

Back before Jon Stewart criticized the government, there was the Smothers Brothers.

I was too young--actually not yet born--to remember the show during its original air dates in the late 1960s. But I was a bit familiar with the show and I did grow up a huge fan of The Carol Burnett Show--which owed much of its early existence to The Smother Brothers show. I also enjoyed Laugh-In (eventually), which was kind of like TSBCH's younger, more popular, hip brother.

David' Bianculli's book on this important show of the Vietnam Era has been a long-time labor of love. Bianculli, who I know best for his Friday hosting duties on NPR's "Fresh Air with Terri Gross" grew up watching the show and has long been a fan. The book grew out of the Smothers Brothers specific request to tell the story of their show, giving him absolute freedom (it seems) to tell the tale, warts and all.

And it is a good story. It shows how TV was beginning to shift from the hyper controlled studio/network-controlled system of the Tube's earliest days and shifting into a more "artistic" direction. Much like Hollywood film's simiar transformation from studio-controlled spectacle films to more auteur-driven works of art that are the reflection of a singular vision, TSBCH came along to challenge the television studios. And challenge is the central theme of the book, chronociling the ongoing and ever-increasing battle between Tom Smothers (the creative force behind much of the show) and the CBS censors. This battle, where Tom wanted to constantly push the boundaries of television in new directions while also using the televised platform to speak his mind against Vietnam, LBJ, and Nixon, led to the show's cancellation at the end of the third season.

One of the best things I can say about the book is that it made me want to seek out DVDs of the show's three seasons and experience the many skits, musical performances, and ideas that Bianculli carefully describes.

Of course, the things that were seen as so scandalous to the CBS censors in 1968 are laughably tame by the far more lax standards of today. But even just two or so years past the cancellation of TSBCH, Norman Lear's All in the Family was doing things far more scandalous than the topical variety show put together by Tom and Dick Smothers.

So, if you like the history of political protest; if you like television history; if you like a true story, well told, give this one a try.

Saturday's Dream

As I mentioned on Twitter Saturday morning, I had a particularly odd dream Friday night. It was influenced by many things that I will try to tease out as I describe the events.

First, I was locked in a life and death struggle with a dragon. I was wearing a very fancy suit of protective armor and I weilded a blade (more on that odd bit of detail later) and had a shield.

My armor was more of the decorated leather variety--not the fancy, ceremonial plated suit stuff that jousters wear at medieval faires. It looked brownish and definitely had metal decorations on the shield. It was the shield that I remember moat, because I was frequently using it to shield myself from the dragon's flames.

I called the armor "mithril" in my tweet, referring to Tolkien's elvish armor. But it wasn't fine silver. I guess I used that word because the metal decorations stood out during the dream and it seemed lightweight.

The location of the battle was also noteworthy . . . my girl's bathroom. It was definitely a very confinded space, which is partly why I referenced Jason Bourne. In his movies, he's often engaged in confined hand-to-hand combat with an adversary. And that is what this dragon battle was like: me and it in very close proximity, with constant use of the shield to avoid flames.

All of this is pulling scenarios from my media explorations. And the feeling that it was a competition of sorts related to "The Hunger Games" book that I read the last two days. I'll speak about it mire in a separate post, but the book centers around a battle to the death set in a dystopic future. So I guess that somehow transformed into a Bourne-style dragon battle?

All of this might be odd enough, but what if I told you that the dragon didn't look like a dragon at all? What if the only thing that made me sense it as a dragon was a) the fire breathing and b) that peculiar bit of dream (il)logic that tells you things that seem contradictory? And finally, what if I told you that the (non)dragon looked just like . . . ME?!

So, here I am in the kids bathroom struggling to survive a battle with a dragonish David doppelgänger.

How did I survive?

In perhaps the most bizarre way possible. I used the only weapon I had with me. A small dagger-like knife. But it wasn't just any old knife. It was pink . . . and the pink handle had a Mattel Barbie logo emblazoned on it. But it was sharp and in such close quarters, the only way that I could slay the beast was to plunge the Barbie dagger into the wide open eyeball of the doppelganger. In doing this I confirmed the Barbie-ness of the blade, since I got (rather the victorious me) . . . got a very good look at the logo as it slid into the opponents eye.

Mercifully, that is when I woke up. It was a bit freaky, to be sure.

But . . . what can it mean? Why was the dragon me? Why the familiar location? Why the distinctly odd weapon of choice?

Was it some way of my subconscious worrying about me being surrounded by women, and somehow trying to keep hold of whatever is my particular brand of masculinity? Or was it simply too much pizza for dinner and the pressures of hosting a sleepover?

What do you think, friend? Chime in with your interpretations and suggested therapies.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Friday, May 14, 2010


Sarah is having one of her friends over for a sleep-over tonight.

And that is why I am sitting alone in the other room, with the iTunes on shuffle, and a book at the ready. I'm trying to stay out of their way and give them their freedom of choice and fun. But I want to be close by to head off any fights or noises that are a bit . . . TOO loud. (But to be honest, the really loud noises and fights would likely originate from Grace, not Sarah and her friend.) Grace always wants to insert herself into the action and sometimes--like earlier tonight--she got into a couple of altercations during a board game the three of them were playing.

(I guess I can count myself lucky . . . a bit . . . that both of Sarah's invited friends were not able to come.)

ANYWAY . . . I am glad that Sarah is doing a good job of being social this year--as evidenced by the frequent sleep-overs here at our house and when she goes to other's houses. It does me good to see it.

What else can i say?

Funny, when I sat down to start writing this, I KNEW stuff that I was going to include in this post and it has just evaporated away in the last few minutes. Maybe it's the music? Maybe I can no longer concentrate on writing something while the music is competing for my attention? If that is so, then I am worried about my ability to read the book that is waiting.

I can tell you that I have a book review post that I need to write in the next few days before the book must be returned to the library. And I just started a new book that's been a long time coming on the library reserve list. But I won't mention the names of them here to help build the suspense.

I can also tell you that while I have seriously considered abandoning Facebook in the last few weeks, as the stories on the site's terrible (& every changing) privacy policy have mounted. But the reason that I am deciding to stay is equally terrible. It is the best way that I have to promote my inconsequential blog to the biggest number of people. And for what purpose? I am ashamed to admit it, but that is the truth . . . the horrible, narcissistic truth. (And you'll possibly learn all about it when I use the site to promote this post onto Facebook.)

Do I get an points for being kinda meta about it? (Yeah, I didn't think so.)

Well, since I failed to write anything coherent in this post, I should just shut it down before I reveal anything else terrible about myself.

I hope we all get a bit of sleep tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm no Jimmy Stewart

I went to the doctor this afternoon in the hopes of beginning to understand what has been causing my dizziness, weird balance problems, and intermittent leg muscle stiffness.

Though I felt kind of silly trying to explain all of my weird (maybe completely unrelated?) symptoms in the vain hope that someone can piece it all together--like an episode of "House"!--but I just had to try and figure this out.

I thought it was inner ear related, which would tie my post airplane cloggedness with the dizziness. But a trip to Urgent Care last Sunday left me with some nasal spray to unclog the ear and remaining dizzy spells. And nothing seems to account for the muscle spasm/stiffness that nearly made me drop my tray of food in the cafeteria yesterday as I walked to the cash register. I was concerned enough to get a friend to come get my tray from the register to the table.

It's just strange and I don't have a good answer for it. In my worst moments of fear I imagine that my CP is slowly growing worse . . . but can it do that? And that doesn't seem likely. It's just as likely that I've gotten some sort of psychological block on holding "droppable/breakable" things. (A variation on a golfer's "case of the 'yips'" as Shirtless noted yesterday. ) but from what did it start? Why now?

But at least I've started the investigatins now. Blood has been drawn and some tests will be done on it. I'm going back in two weeks to see what has been learned.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Do you expect to have a mid-life crisis, and, if so, what form will it take?

I like to think that I will not have a mid-life crisis. I like to think that I am too rational and level headed to react to whatever it is that spurs the midlife crisis.

Because, I think people have mid-life crises when they are not happy with the life that they have, when they react to the notion that *half* of their life--presumably their *better* half is over, believing that they are locked into the rest of their life and the only way out of this track is to do something drastic.

I am happy with the life that I have.

I am fundamentally conservative (in the lazy, let's not shake things up sense . . . NOT the political sense), so it would take something pretty bad going KABLOOEY in my head to make me do something mid-life crisisy and dramatic. And I don't anticipate something that bad happening to me. I'm a extremely lucky guy and if I keep my mind on that, then I'll be okay.


But that is a pretty boring answer, don't you agree?

Perhaps we can imagine what David's appropriate mid-life crisis might be?

Those of you who read my online life . . . please provide your best suggestion of what an appropriate mid-life crisis for me might be.

If I get multiple answers, I might consider having a mid-life crisis weekend (assuming that Lynda's okay with it, of course). But it can't be too expensive. If it is fun and dramatic, I might even try to get some of it filmed and provide the "Hangover"-like details (movie reference)?

If you'd like to see me attempt such a spectacle, the first thing YOU must do is comment and challenge me. Then it'll be up to me to turn you down and disappoint all six of you.



(But first, let me say "Well, that's my answer. Thanks for asking.")

Now . . . go!