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Friday, April 28, 2006

I can't help myself

According to an article on MSNBC.com, President Bush said today that, "I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English...."

Sigh. Seems like it should be a requirement for presidents, too.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Pneumonia, you know?

Sorry for the slow posting of late. I was on a roll, then got sick and it turned into pneumonia. I'm doing fine; I'm back at work, walking around, not coughing so much anymore, etc. But I'm tired a lot, so this is one thing that's fallen a bit behind. I'll be back to posting soon.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

West Wing election ends with moving episode

Particularly after reading Alan Sepinwall's review of the episode, I expected to be disappointed by last night's episode of The West Wing. I often find Sepinwall to be right on target with his analysis and he often captures my moods, too. But I found the episode surprisingly strong and moving, reinforcing my regret that the series has been canceled. I'd very much love to see what a new season with Santos in office would be like.

On the face of it, tying Leo's death in with election night ran a risk of cheapening the death of the character and the actor. But I found myself being impressed with the result. Yes, we missed out on a few reaction shots. I would have liked to see Toby's reaction, in particular. But Leo seemed to be present in every scene, every moment. We didn't see Margaret finding out, but we saw her face, her thoughts, in a brief glimpse, and that seemed enough. Yes, the staffers danced and were excited about developments, but I could practically feel Leo in the room with them, celebrating the victory, while I could also feel the sense of incredible loss from those who knew him best.

The president's phone call with the first lady. Josh's reflection in Leo's room. Vinnick's reaction to hearing about the death of a man he respected. All of these bits resonated with me. If we didn't have an episode coming up devoted to memorializing Leo, I might feel differently, but I thought that the juxtaposition of his death and the election fever was handled pretty gracefully.

Of course, there's lots of speculation as to who might be selected as the next VP. The safe money is on the Gary Cole character. But I have a feeling that the writers are going to go another way. My money right now is on Sam, despite his lack of experience in public office, but I see that as a bit of a wild card.

Dina and I were even wondering, after CJ's conversation with the president about whether he would have run again, continued to serve, if he'd been able, if perhaps they were suggesting that he might be the vice president. I'm not sure if that would even be legal, and I think it would really be a silly, implausible stretch. But I wouldn't be absolutely shocked if they went that route. Vinnick, too, would make a fun and interesting choice, even if the idea of Santos and Vinnick joining together is improbably idealistic. Of course, CJ has stepped in for Leo before, and might make a good choice. And Josh, though I'd expect him to be chief of staff, might be a good call.

In sum:
Safe money: Bob Russell
My bet: Sam Seaborn
Decent chance: CJ
Decent chance: Josh
Longshot: Vinnick
Longshot: Bartlet
Longshot: Hoynes

Interested in West Wing on DVD? Check out the links below.
Season One
Season Two
Season Three
Season Four
Season Five
Season Six

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

In science news...

This just in. Scientists have discovered new red and blue rings around Uranus. Any guesses on how many late night talk show hosts will make cracks about this in their monologues tonight?

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Old Chicago

Memory's a funny thing. I have vague memories from my childhood of going to an amusement park called Old Chicago. I remembered that the entire theme park was indoors, something that seemed off-kilter to me whenever I thought about it afterward. Would someone really build an amusement park indoors? Would it be functional? Wouldn't it be expensive to power the whole thing and keep it warm or cool, as appropriate?

Whenever I thought about it, I figured that I was remembering wrong somehow, that either it was a very small park that seemed bigger in my memory, or it wasn't really all indoors.

My impressions of the park were positive ones, if not very concrete: fun, with a classic theme reminiscent of old World Fairs. I remember wrenching my neck on a roller coaster. I remember my mom and dad there, and I think Dad might have carried me on his shoulders.

I'm not sure why I've never just asked my parents about it when it's come to mind, but I guess I've just never thought about it when they were directly at hand.

So today, it popped into my head for the thousandth time and I decided to look it up. I found a site that goes into a good amount of detail and brought back some memories. You can also read more about it in the Wikipedia.

As it turns out, I should have trusted my memory more. It was indeed an outdoor amusement park, although, unfortunately, it didn't last for very long. Kind of makes me wish I could step into a time machine and visit it sometime.

Oh, and on a slightly related note, I recently read a really good thriller about an enclosed amusement park. The book is called Utopia, and I'd recommend checking it out.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The "mailman" joke is aging badly


I have brown hair. Dina has brown hair. Our younger son, Zack, has brown hair. Our older son, Alex, has blond hair. Ever since Alex was born, we have occasionally had people make comments along the lines of "where did he get his blond hair?"

Some of these are perfectly innocent--they generally segue immediately into questions about our parents' hair, etc. They're genuinely curious.

But others, most often complete strangers, seem to find this an opportunity for comedy. "Where did he get his blond hair?" they ask in teasing tones. Wink wink. Nudge nudge. Often, they suggest that the mailman is responsible. This evening, we attended an orientation function for kids signing up for kindergarten in the fall at our local elementary school. A lady (who had seemed perfectly nice earlier) asked us, rather loudly, about Alex's hair, then followed it up with an amused glance at me. "I bet you'd like to know," she said. Ha ha. Mind you, this was in front of Alex.

How many possible ways could this joke go wrong for someone? I mean, in our case, there's no question that Alex is my child, and Dina's. But what if that weren't the case?

Let's take fictional family A. They've adopted a child with blond hair. Or fictional family B. The dad has died and the mother has remarried. Or fictional family C. The mom had a wild fling at one point and the child isn't her husband's, but they've reconciled and he treats the child as his own. I'm sure you could come up with more possibilities on your own. Is it a good idea, in any of these situations, to make a potentially awkward situation (for the parents) even worse? Is it ever a good idea to suggest to a child that his parents might not really be his parents?

For the record, our parents also have dark hair, but Dina's brother's hair was blond when he was young. My grandfather had blond hair, and my aunt is blonde. So Alex's hair is a little unusual, maybe, but nothing far from the family tree. I have absolutely no doubt that Alex is mine, nor should anyone who really pays attention for more than a few seconds--we've got too many traits in common (including, of course, dashing good looks, keen intellect, and charming personalities). But you know, if he hears a half dozen strangers asking how he can have blond hair when his parents don't, he might eventually start to wonder, every once in a while. He might start to doubt us. And making a child doubt his parents isn't worth the price of a joke. Particularly a stupid one.

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1,003 and counting...

I'm moderately gratified to see that I've passed 1,000 hits on this blog since I started tracking traffic shortly after launching the site. I hope that's not just Mom hitting refresh a lot to make me feel better. Hi, Mom!

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