Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Sabrina is so adorable these days, walking and talking and generally being ultra-charming. Today she had been awake for a few minutes when Mommy left the baby's room to get breakfast started. Sabrina played with me and Fred for a while and then headed toward the top of the stairs. Rather than run past her so I could get downstairs from her and catch her if she fell, I decided to stay behind her so she'd have to make the decision herself, and if she went for it I could grab her legs and stop her.
Then Fred walked between her and the top step, turned to her, and growled. He was protecting our little angel from a fall down the steps! Even better, Sabrina seemed to understand and stayed away. And even better than that, when she's about to do something she knows we don't want her to do, she now points at the offending obstacle/activity before she touches it and babbles gibberish at us as if to say "Can I?"
Best of all, when we say no, she doesn't dwell on it. What an amazing little girl.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
I couldn't wait to see it, personally, because I remembered something about the way such shows work that apparently few others recalled: the producers hand pick the contestants. Therefore they could load the non-white teams with competent, hardworking team players, rendering any real or imagined disadvantages meaningless.
And by real disadvantages, I mean lack of camping skills. That's pretty much the only thing that really matters on Survivor. Building shelters and fires, finding food and water, and dealing with the necessity to do absolutely everything yourself is a lot easier if you've done it before. In my not terribly educated opinion, I'd expect whitey to do better than the rest because generally on Survivor, more of the whites have been camping. How anyone shows up for a show like this without being able to make a fire escapes me, anyone who watched a single episode understands you need some Boy and Girl Scout skills to get along on a desert island, but by God they do show up unprepared in droves, white or not. But there's always a few good outdoorsmen and -women, and they're almost always honkies.
Anyway, back to my point. I knew the producers would pick contestants carefully, and I suspected that during the segregated portion of the show, the honkies would place third or fourth of the four teams in challenges, and I was right. The Asian team rocked everything and so did the Latin team, and not just because they each had three men and two women while the black and white teams had two men and three women. They just worked harder and better together. I was worried for the black team early because none of the five had done much outdoor stuff, but they mixed up the teams after not too many episodes, and what happened next is pretty much exactly what I suspected: the white people teamed up, acted like jerks, and are now at a major disadvantage.
Fairly early on, the teams were racially mixed up in two tribes when, during one challenge, the chance to mutiny and change teams was offered. A white girl on one team jumped at the chance to get back together with three of her former honky teammates, and the remaining white guy on that team did the same at the last minute. This gave the now-tiny four-person rainbow coalition a serious competitive spark, with which they have won every challenge since, and something even more important: moral superiority. The kind the hero in old Western gets for doing the right thing for the right reason and shutting up about it. At the end of Survivor, the jury of former players votes on a winner, and while backstabbing and double dealing often wins the game, nothing beats being deserving, admired, respected.
None of the white players has anything like respect on the island, or frankly anywhere else. They are dirtbags who deserve beatings, nothing else. Even worse, they ignored the danger signs when it should have been obvious that they were about to have the whole game turned upside down on them. Idiots.
The hilarious part of all this is that the people who were mad about Survivor segregation at the beginning are getting a great holiday season present: the four white people left on Survivor are lazy, stupid, arrogant and dastardly, and they don't trust each other at all. With the exception of the most dastardly one of the four, none of them has even a remote chance at the big prize. How's that for TV racism?
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Daddy never was much good at throwing the ball, but if his daughter works hard she could be the first ambidextrous female starting Super Bowl QB in NFL history. I'd rather she weren't, but if she wants to, be my guest.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Mommy used to do that but she can barely pluck my monobrow any more, or keep an eye out for ear hairs. Plus she figures I should have been able to pick it up myself after seven years. No dice, baby. I'm fashion dyslexic.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Before the deployment, Russell was not exactly known for his heroic attitude. When he was accepted at Annapolis, some of his high school teachers in San Antonio started a pool: How long till they boot the smart-ass? At the Naval Academy, he instinctively cast every step in his career in Us-versus-Them terms: freshmen versus everybody, juniors versus seniors, seniors versus the staff. This rebellious instinct did him no favors in his class standing. But it sure helped when he looked out of the suicide bunker to size up the heavily armed hostiles. He knew that the insurgents were undisciplined. He remembers thinking, There’s no squad leader there directing fire, making sure their shooters don’t get drawn off by the first bright shiny thing that passes by. He made a decision. “Basically,” he says, “I became the bright shiny thing.”
He started pushing back into the vehicle-search area, drawing fire, discovering enemy positions. While Cyparski covered him from behind the bunker, Russell crept forward—a moving target—taking shrapnel in the arms and face and exposing enemy positions. When the volume of fire became, as he put it, “stupid,” he and Cyparski retreated to the bunker and got another idea. During his feint into the vehicle area, he’d located several insurgents. Hey, now’s as good a time as any to try to engage those positions, he thought. So he popped up to shoot and took an AK-47 round to the head. The bullet penetrated his helmet and ricocheted—up.
“It knocked me to my ass and gave me a pretty good concussion, I found out later,” he says. “Regardless, I went down, and at this point I think I’m dead, because the shrapnel that I’d taken to my face started bleeding with the impact. So I go down to a knee and tell Ski, ‘Hey, I’m hit.’ What do you do in that situation? ‘Well…tell my mom I love her’? I don’t know. Basically, you just kind of accept it and wait. But one count, two count, and things aren’t getting dark. I don’t see the great white light. So I’m like, Well, uh, it’s your brain, man. So try thinkin’ something. If you can think, you’re fine. So I tried thinking something, and nothing came. I figured that was fine, too. At least thinking that I wasn’t thinking anything was kind of thinking.” A few
beats later, he popped back up and resumed his command.
Interesting guy. I really like his philosophy:
“You know your Platonic ideals?” First Lieutenant Russell said hesitantly. “War is probably the Platonic ideal of sport—what all sports are trying to become. It’s physical, but it’s as much mental as physical. It’s definitely got its spiritual aspects, you know? And the prize at the end is the ultimate prize imaginable. And I’m not talking about democracy in the Middle East or the end ofthe Great War but your own life. And the lives of your team.”
Thursday, November 16, 2006
One one hand it's the ultimate masturbatory revenge fantasy show: a protagonist unconstrained by anything resembling conventional morality, who acts soft and pushovery and invariably runs afoul of bullies and other monsters, who sometimes need to die. On the other it's a tender story of the emotional reconstruction of a man whose brutal past has rendered him unable to feel. His current girlfriend is so emotionally screwed up herself that he starts to care about her, cracking his own shell in the process.
The cast is excellent. Dexter's played by Michael C. Hall, who did such a great job with David Fisher in Six Feet Under. He's naturally dark and unsettling. I think he has to work overtime to come across as warm and human. I've seen him as a regular cop in Paycheck and it just doesn't work. I don't know any of the rest of them by name although I do recognize some of them vaguely from somewhere, but Dexter's sister is played excellently by Jennifer Carpenter, the girl who played the title character in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, in which she was amazing as well. I can't stand scary movies, but once I started watching it I couldn't look away from this girl. I was amazed that anyone that young, shoot, any actress I could think of, would be willing to make themselves so ugly for the camera, the way she contorted her body and face when acting possessed. It was the perfect way to do it but I've never seen anything like it in my life and it left an impression. I can say the same about her role in Dexter, the most vulnerable, exposed character I've seen in years. Good stuff.
And I should also say that I love 30 Rock, the SNL parody by SNL people and Alec Baldwin. Tina Fey, who I liked on SNL even though Weekend Update usually sucked, is very funny, but Baldwin is friggin' Superman on this show. He kills every second he's onscreen. Five thumbs up.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
The nice thing about Fred is that he's a perfect judge of where your fingers are and how hard he's allowed to bite them. I'd much rather Sabrina learns about biting dogs from getting bitten gently by Fred than have it be a complete surprise when she does get bitten by a dog, which will invariably happen. I got bitten on the eyebrow by a family dachshund when I was small, and I very much deserved it. But the next time a dog snapped at me I was ready for it and got away clean.
Good old Fred. He may be the best dog I've ever known. And I'm glad Sabrina gets to know him too.
Monday, November 13, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
By oldest brother David sent me a link to some of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen. A fellow named Frederik has been tooling around the South Pacific in a yacht and came upon a once-in-a-lifetime sight, the birth of an island. It's an amazing sight and an even better story:
Yesterday we saw the birth of an island, most likely we were the first humans to see the new creation. We have some pictures, but they will have to wait until we have a chance to upload them. So you might have heard about the sailor superstition that you should "never leave on a Friday". Well, we did and the sea turned to stone, it is hard to get a stronger sign than that. It sounds like a bad joke, but just wait until you see the pictures. Floating stones none the less. When you pick them up, it is easy to see that they are really just volcanic ash that compressed into pumice stone. This experience mixed with a close encounter of three whales makes you understand that the ocean is full of surprises.Truly amazing. My favorite pics of the bunch are the ones where it looks like they've run aground because of all the pumice floating on the sea surface, as described in the excerpt above. Looks a lot like being parked on a beach. Good catch, David!
Friday, November 10, 2006
I linked the top 100 Hubble Telescope images page last week or so, and have bookmarked it and visited it many times. I hadn't seen this one before, and now that I have I feel an irresistible craving for hobbit meat.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
A lovely moment, the other night:
I was sitting on the floor in the living room, playing a made-up song on a ukelele in front of the coffee table, and Sabrina was standing in front of me holding on to my right knee with her left hand and to the top side of the ukelele body with her right. She was singing gibberish in time with me pretty softly, watching my fingers and not, as she often does, muting any of the strings with her hands, and as I started playing a solo part she stopped singing for a half a minute, just watching, and then as I started playing faster and moving up the neck she started singing again. And as she sang, still softly, she leaned in to the right side of my face and put her lips on my right cheek, singing and slobbering on me. I was looking down at the neck, really focusing and, if I may say so, shredding (yes, I'm that old - I still call it shredding), so my face didn't move and I didn't look at her, I was pretty glazed over. But she just kept singing and slobbering, rubbing her face right against the right side of my mouth. It literally melted my heart and after a while I stopped and hugged her for as long as she would stand it. Which was a long time, because she's a little angel.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Saturday, November 04, 2006
I read about ten newspapers a day and three newsmagazines a week, and I have my TV tuned to cable news all day, and I still find myself taking notes from The Daily Show.
I'm guessing Dowd's completely oblivious to how dumb and unprofessional that makes her seem. My response to that quote is above, in the title.
Friday, November 03, 2006
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Actually, she had a wonderful time until the moment we tried to take pictures with her cousins Camille and Amber, whereupon she got a little sad about it being past her bedtime. And we hugged her and kissed her and gave her a ride on Daddy's shoulders and then everything was OK.