Saturday, March 26, 2005

News from the Home Front

You’ll note from the posting time that it’s currently around 1:00 AM early Saturday morning. Angela let me sleep for about four hours, thank goodness, so I’m up for the long haul. Oddly enough, we did envision it this way, that she would take the mornings and I would take the late nights; unfortunately, of course, Xan obviously couldn’t hear us planning in utero and just keeps us awake all day and night. At the moment, he’s nursing while Ange is actually asleep. After going over the 10% body weight loss at the hospital (which is why he stayed an extra day), he is back up to 6 lbs. 13 oz. as of the pediatrician visit today. (He met Dr. Vijay for the first time and she declared him doing fabulously.)

I know I’ve promised the full story of the birth. Be patient – it’s coming. Everyone told me that I would have a hard time finding some time to do anything and, what do you know? everyone is right. Even while Angela was at the hospital, I have been frantically doing errands and checking email when I got home, so that I already wasn’t getting enough sleep before they both came home. As luck would have it, Linda, who came down to help out, caught a virus over the last couple days and is now banished temporarily to the basement, after acquiring some major drugs which should set things right quickly. Although I had to cancel a presentation I was to make today at the Literature Colloquium (on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dracula), I’m still planning on heading out to London for the SCMS conference. And at some point, I should finish the story on Xan’s birth. (It’s almost done, but Angela wants a look at it first, so we need some time, heh heh.)

Vega (our cat) is currently purring on top of my wrists at this very moment. Under normal circumstances, I would kick her off, but I’m glad right now since she’s been pretty much out of sorts since labor. She regards Xan VERY cautiously, although there was a great moment this morning when she and Xan eyed each other while he was in his car seat on the floor. She’s taking small steps and is otherwise staying in the basement with Linda where (a) things are more stable and (b) with a heater on downstairs running 24/7, it’s a tad warmer. Still, it’s nice to have her up here again.

I will say this, however: I’m totally smitten. Yes, he cries and I don’t know why. Yes, there is poo (although we’re at the stage where it still isn’t that bad yet). But he has the world’s biggest eyes and most adorable face. I love him so, I really do. I realize he’s probably hideously ugly or something and I really don’t care. I am incapable of seeing anything terribly wrong with him. Angela and I stare at him, making the most mysteriously intriguing sounds, or glaring at me while I’m reading to him from the Arabian Nights. We haven’t even watched the episode of 24 we taped the other day. It’s tough and we’re a little freaked out, but it really isn’t that bad. I{ve never seen anything cuter than my son's chin moving up and down while eating. There are some powerful emotions working these days around here and most of them are pretty good. I realize that I’ve been very blessed that I happen to be on sabbatical these days, that very few other dads get this experience these days.

More later…

Names to Keep Straight These Days

  • Angela and me: Mom and Dad. Straightforward.
  • The Dadaks, Angela’s parents: Grumpy and Gammy. I think Linda appropriated the latter from her best friend.
  • The Middentses, my parents: Oma and Opa, the Dutch for “granparents” and what I called my grandparents on my father’s side. Perhaps a surprise for my mom, but this is a neat story. When I asked them what they wanted to be called, Mom said, “Oh, that’s easy. Oma.” Shocked, I asked, “But Mom, don’t you want to be called abuela or abuelita or something?” She said, “Do you know how long it took you to say ‘ah-bweh-lah’? It’s hard and it frustrated you to no end. Besides, all the kids in your neighborhood are going to say ‘grandma’ or ‘abuela.’ But I will be the only ‘Oma.’” And at that point, my Dad laughed and said, “Well, I guess I’m Opa, then!”
  • The Mackeys, Angela’s grandparents: Great-Grandpa and G.G. (for “Great Grandmother”). Nana was so adorable, and also had apparently given it some thought before we asked what to call her.
  • Heather, Angela’s sister: Auntie Twinkie. Another great story: after we threatened a loooooong time ago to send our hypothetical children up to Aunt Heather’s for a visit, she said, “No problem. I’ll just get rid of all the food in my house and replace it with Twinkies. I’m gonna be Auntie Twinkie. ‘Here, have Twinkies for breakfast! And lunch! Hungry? Have a Twinkie. It’s good for you!!’ And then they’ll come back so wired, you’ll regret sending them.” This just cracked us up. Sure enough, when Angela was in the hospital, Heather brought a gorgeous potted hydrangea – and a box of Twinkies. We’ll see if the name sticks after all.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Meet Xan!

Alexander Dadak Middents, born March 20, 2005, 7:03pm Posted by Hello

(More later -- and indeed, there is much more to write, but I am too tired now and need to be back at the hospital tomorrow morning. As you can see here, however, they are both doing wonderfully well.)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

And so it begins...

Heather had chosen Friday, since all the men would then be born on the 25th. I chose Monday, thinking it was the first day of spring. Linda took Wednesday, Eric Tuesday, Marit Thuirsday. Marc took Sunday -- although as the OB-GYN's son, he said it was doubtful she'd go today.

Marc, I'm never listening to you again.

Water broke around 3:30am. Still getting through surges now. (I can't believe I have a moment to do this -- had to download the pictures off our camera quickly and saw I had a chance to log on.) Nervous, very -- and excited. She's a trooper, God bless her.

Have to go.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Hot mama

Some of you might be amused at this. If you remember, Angela was hoping for the child to come on the 16th for St. Urho's Day; I, hoping that I wouldn't have to name my child after a Finnish saint involved with grasshoppers, was hoping for not. But Angela's had a really nasty cold over the last couple days and, because she's pregnant, can't really take anything to alleviate it. So I thought I'd use the tried and tested cure for us: hot and spicy Thai food.

This goes back to our wedding and honeymoon. We were both really sick during the wedding, to the extent that everyone thought I was crying -- and I just lost my voice from all the coughing. By the time we drove up to Maine for the honeymoon and found the house we were staying at, we just passed out without even turning on the lights. And our honeymoon was spent almost entirely in bed, just recovering from our respective colds. The only time we went out was to find a Thai restaurant -- in Maine, if you can believe that -- to order the spiciest, hottest things they had on the menu in order to burn through our sinuses. And, oddly enough, it worked.

So flash-forward to a couple days ago, when I agreed to make this shrimp-dumpling soup with an incredibly spicy stock. She was very exciting about this and it was actually fun to make. She got home, and the soup was really, really hot, requiring some milk to take the edge off out tongues.

And then, I remember that one of the pregnancy books said something about spicy food. Grabbed the book out and saw that that it was step #1 in inducing pregnancy. Which of course made Angela beam and got me worried that my son's initials were going to be AU.

As you can tell, it didn't happen. But it provided a funny moment of panic. Right now, I'm hoping for the first day of spring myself.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

On "Sin City"

Many, many moons ago, I went with my dear friend Jenny (hey there!) and some of her pals to go see my first exposure to the world of graphic-novels-go-Hollywood. Tank Girl, starring Lori Petty, Malcolm McDowell, Ice Cube and a then-unknown Naomi Watts, was a critically reviled flick, earning not a shred of critical praise and less of an audience. Dying a quick death at the theaters and not even earning a following on video, this quirky film has never really found an audience. The drubbing is not entirely unwarranted, but Tank Girl wasn’t quite as bad as everyone made it out to be either. A lot of people found the gonzo style – colors, editing, storyline involving kangaroo people – especially jarring, but it seems to go along with the aesthetic of the comic: fast and loose, yet garishly constricted by the drawing. The translation of the fantastic onto the big screen made it less so, but the intention was actually good.

Flash forward to 2005 and the graphic novel is a more respected form by a long shot. (Heck, I even just ordered one for one of my classes for next fall.) Hollywood in particular finds the form as an intriguing source material – not so surprising, since the only difference between a comic and a storyboard is that the former has the overall page to play with. Forget Batman and even Hellboy: Oscar Boy Tom Hanks did Road to Perdition and lots of people went to see that.

Which will make it interesting to see how people react to Robert Rodriguez’s rollicking new flick (and I mean that in the best of ways), Sin City. After seeing the previews, I’ve been looking forward to this stylish coup for quite some time now – and a preview screening was announced at the very last minute. (Much to my comic-book-store-owning friend Ben's chagrin, I'm not a comic connaisseur yet.) Luckily, no baby yet (I dodged naming him Alexander Urho!! Whew!!!) – so off I went. I wasn’t alone at the screening either: this movie has a lot of expectation, and for good reason. The film is co-directed by Frank Miller, who wrote the original comic; having fought for the co-directing credit on behalf of Miller, Rodriguez has actually been kicked out of the Directors Guild for this.

Technically, it’s a gorgeous film. A study in pure contrast, the blacks are coal-black and the whites like cocaine: a fascinating recreation of ink-on-paper. Rodriguez only introduces color intermittently – a red dress, a hooker’s blonde curls, the violet eyes of a traitor, the violent yellow skin of an experiment gone horribly wrong. The ultra-violence is on full display, with the blood splattering over all the shadows in glorious crystalline white. The movie comes across as deliciously cold throughout – and obviously that’s an evident carry-over from the form of the comic itself.

And here’s where I’m not sure if I’m entirely sold on this. Rodriguez’s film exposes the icy nature of the comic book form – and simultaneously shows how movies need just a little more warmth to make them really work. The movie takes a while to get going, shifting through several nihilist-noir threads; oddly, the least successful part of the film for me was a middle section with Clive Owen, Benicio del Toro and the girls from Old Town. Devoid of any noticeable humanity, this particular section of the film also works the least. It’s a beautiful, glorious display – but here, the film lacks soul.

It’s not like the film doesn’t have any soul – said soul may be black as tar but oh, it’s there in the other major sections. Sin City first follows “Marv” and, particularly as played by stunner Mickey Rourke, he’s a motherfuckin’ revelation. Brutal, twisted and singular – but far from two-dimensional; ditto Bruce Willis in the other main section as the good cop tying to protect a little girl from harm. To some extent because there’s more story here, there is more feeling – and in my opinion, work more effectively as a movie.

Then again, Rodriguez offers a lot more for us to chew in Sin City than your standard Hollywood shoot-‘em-up that truly is soulless. (That’s directed at you, XXX: State of the Nation.) American audiences loooove their drivel. So like I said, I’m curious what will happen when this movie opens to see if people give this garish, beautiful, sexy, bloody melee a chance or whether they’ll be more satisfied with less challenging – but surely lighter – material. When it opens, let me know what you think.

(Oh yeah, happy St. Urho's Day -- hope you had lotsa red wine to make my granfather-in-law happy!)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Baby pool?

OK, so Angela is getting closer and closer to giving birth, making us very excited. In fact, I actually dreamed of the birth last night. (I also dreamed that she was actually having twins and that we would be moving into a large gothic mansion in New York City with a punk for a nanny. So I'm not sure how well I'd trust my own dreams.) The due-date is March 17th, which is this Thursday. (The sonogram actually predicted March 8th. Clearly, that wasn't it.) Angela is hoping for March 16th, which is St. Urho's Day. My dream last night indicated it would be March 15th. I'm personally hoping for March 25th, so that Angela will only have to remember the month of all the men in her life, who seem to all have birthdays on the 25th. (I'm in April, her dad is in May, Marc Fields is October, etc.)

Any predictions? No contractions as of yet, by the way.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

On "The Upside of Anger"

I want you to remember the name Mike Binder.

There is a scene just after halfway through his new dysfunctional family drama, The Upside of Anger, where the matriarch, played by Joan Allen, is giving a steely look down the dinner table. She has just walked in on her third daughter sleeping with her radio producer boss, played by Binder. Also at the table: her 2nd daughter, who has just said she wants to go to dancing school instead of college;her youngest daughter, who is… a blank teenager of sorts; and the next-door neighbor, a washed-up baseball player who enabled her constant drinking of vodka tonics with his own drinking. Her husband has left her about two years ago and hearing the radio producer slurp his soup is making her seethe quietly. She looks at him. He looks back. Slurps. She looks at him again. He looks at her.

And then his head explodes.

Graphically. Chunks everywhere, on the walls, the table, everyone. His nose falls in his soup.

I mention this because it’s emblematic of how utterly uneven this film is. The rest of the movie is subtle, quiet, full of small movements. There is a later scene where we get the connections between the women in the family because they all begin to laugh together. And mixed into the middle of it is this really horrific head explosion, as if Leatherface had suddenly developed an interest in plastic explosives.

After seeing two really good movies in a row and gushing about them on this blog, I was beginning to worry that I would come across as one of these people that gushes about everything, because I try to avoid drivel. This one had promise since, after all, it stars Joan Allen, who I usually love. And Kevin Costner, who I could live without, but we haven’t seen him for a while. But oh boy, what an absolute disaster of a film.

I should have seen it coming at the very beginning. The film opens with a voice-over by one of the daughters (voice-over to open? rarely a good sign) who says, “My mother was the nicest person one could ever know. Ask anyone who knows her.” And quickly, we realize we will never actually see her be nice. We’ll just take the daughter’s word for it that she hasn’t always been the uber-bitchy, selfish mom that she remains throughout the whole movie. Her daughters hate her – but if she’s so nice, then why?

The really horrible thing is that the movie has some really wonderful individual scenes which are both funny and touching; the problem is that Binder has both too much in the film and really doesn’t know what to do with anything. Why have four daughters, when really we only delve into two of their stories? And why give them pseudo-masculine names, like Hadley, Andy, Popeye (no joke), and Felicity? Oh wait, her name isn’t Felicity, it’s just Keri Russell… playing a high-school sophomore. Yeah. Right.

Which leads me back to why you should remember Binder: because the man clearly does not know what to do with a movie. The performances are actually pretty good – Allen does her best with what turns out to be a really one-note character and Costner is hilarious as the stoned wash-up. (And I don’t even like Costner!) And the daughters are fine too. But the film is edited so unevenly, I’m actually wondering if Binder even looked at the material he had carefully enough. The script needed editing to begin with – get rid of two of the daughters, give the mom more of a personality, make us care a bit about the missing dad, etc. – and then the editor needed to cut and trim scenes in a more effective manner. The movie has such awkward transitions, I felt wrenched from one disparate scene to the next. And since he directed, produced and starred in the film (he actually isn’t such a bad actor), I hold him entirely responsible for molding some pretty good performances into such a piece of junk.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What we learned from Jack & Bobby on the WB

We never watch this show. But dinner ran a little late today, and there was nothing else on. And we got hooked in. And, as it turns out, there were some good speeches we might want to remember as parenting tools for when Xan turns 13, or 17, or whatever.

  1. On whether or not you should like the girl who likes you: So you’re growing up, becoming the guy that girls want to date. But at some point you’re going to have to decide what kind of guy-that-girls-want-to-date you want to be. And that kind of guy doesn’t go after his best friend’s girl.
  2. On “the first time”: Sex is a kind of test. And not one that is determined by whether you’re good at it or not, but whether it’s right. You can have it early, but you might regret it. (OK, granted, Buffy did this in a far more effective manner, in that it demonstrated that having sex with someone may cause them to lose their soul. But still...)
  3. On cities: Apparently, Chicago is important, too. (Who knew?)

It's a little funny wandering into a scripted TV show where we're supposed to know all the characters' stories when you don't. Ange and I were both wondering who this random guy was, thinking, "If we watched this show, we'd know. And we actually care!" A sign of decent TV, I guess. It happens sometimes.

(Then again, I'm going to be like the Movie Mom, because she's so cool and didn't have her kids watch TV. I can be like her. Right? Maybe?!)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

On "Downfall"

A two-and-a-half hour movie about Hitler during the last days of the War. Sounds thrilling, right? Actually, surprisingly enough, it is. Bruno Ganz plays der Fuhrer with gusto, getting at his every neurosis and maniacal self-delusion; undoubtedly, there will be many who will remark that this film is anathema because Hitler is not portrayed as a monster. This is particularly true when he interacts with his secretary, Traudl Junge, the person who we most clearly identify with throughout the film. The way in which many of the characters blindly follow his every move, entrances by his zeal for power, is truly fascinating. The film is also wonderfully cold: I find it fascinating that we feel something oxymoronic between empathy and emptiness as we watch character upon character die. Downfall has a horrific impact precisely because it strips all sense of character down to the very human and shows how horribly cruel it can be.

I've been thinking a lot about national cinematic identity these days (clearly -- since that's what my work is all about) and I must admit that following this film I wish I knew German, because I really would love to know what Germans think about this film. One of the interesting things about the film -- and I think this is new to cinema, and a bit controversial -- is that it shows Hitler to be a cruel, unfliching fanatic... but not because of his treatment of the Jews, but because of his utter disdain for the Germans.

Let me back up a moment. Angela told me that the Poles did not care for Schindler's List all that much when it was released because it focused on how cruel the Nazis were to the Jews while demonizing (and thereby ignoring) the plight of the Poles, who were equally massacred and sent to the camps. When I saw The Pianist, I thought to myself, "Gee, the Poles should like this one, given that it treats the Poles in a more favorable light, also showing their real danger. Being a German film, Downfall plays an interesting role in retelling this story both from a German perspective and to a German public. I am sure that the film (although based on a book, probably doesn't have the same impact that the film did, particularly after it was nominated for an Oscar this year) has sparked a discussion amongst Germans about how does one reconcile the past into the present, and how "German identity" has become extraordinarily problematic. (An aside: this makes two movies I've seen set in Germany concerning Nazis -- the other, an Israeli film called Walk on Water, is not as deftly crafted but could enter into this cinematic conversation with a contemporary perspective.) I would love to read what German critics in particular have been saying about the film as I imagine they'd have a slightly less distant take on it than the couple reviews I've read online from The Village Voice and Salon.

If anyone else gets a chance to see this, le tme know what you think of it -- and whether this rambling seems to make sense or not.

On "Millions"

I saw a preview for Danny Boyle's new film, Millions, last night. The same guy who gave us Shallow Grave, Trainspotting and 28 Days Later now has brought us a movie about two young boys who find a big bag filled with money; the elder wants to spend it to make new friends, the younger wants to give it to the poor. Yes, Danny Boyle has made what appears to be a movie for kids.

And maybe it's my impending dad-hood, but I found this film to be utterly charming. It takes an interesting middle-ground between reality and pure fantasy that begins with the premise that Britain is changing currency from the pound to the euro. Boyle uses a number of special effects and some brisk editing to make Damian's world a product of cinematic magic realism. (And I mean that in the best sense of the word: for some reason, this is not nearly as forced as I've seen it used in drivel like Like Water for Chocolate.) Damian's world is grounded in reality -- and yet everything he imagines (including meeting up with a series of saints) seems perfectly plausible. Part of what makes the film work seems to be the acting; while certain situations are really out-of-this-world, the characters are grounded in this one, making the film as a whole a true flight of fancy.

It's entirely possible that I'm becoming a sentimental sap. Then again, if that were entirely true, I would have probably liked Shultze Gets the Blues a couple weeks ago (which I loathed, boring even for me, a guy who enjoys slow, atmospheric films). We'll see how I manage tonight, as I'm planning to see an uplifting (sarcasm, please) film about Hitler.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

When an accident is really an error...

OK, time to get political. You all knew this would happen at some point.

Yesterday evening, Giuliana Sgrena, a journalist from the Italian newspaper Il Manifesto was finally released after having been held hostage in Iraq for about a month. As she was heading to the airport, her car was fired upon by American soldiers, wounding her and killing the secret service agent who supposed to protect her. White House communications director Dan Bartlett commented on the incident on CNN, saying, "This is a horrific accident, on which President Bush personally called Prime Minister Berlusconi to offer his condolences, as well as to make sure that there is a full investigation, so we're able to understand the very facts that are now being discussed."

I call bullshit.

Not that the incident didn't happen, nor that this isn't horrific. But it is far from an "accident" as this staffer wants everyone to believe. It's a question of connotations: an "accident" implies lack of culpability or fault. My son is likely to have many accidents -- particularly when toilet-training, I suppose -- when it really won't be his fault that he couldn't hold it in anymore. Motor vehicles can be part of an accident when no one is at fault as well. And guns can go off accidentally, I suppose, such as when it is being cleaned or if one trips and falls on one's gun (see Steven Soderbergh's movie Out of Sight).

But how does a car get shot up by an exceptionally large number of bullets and still be considered an "accident"? Those kinds of guns have to be aimed. And correct me if I'm wrong, but in order for those many rounds to hit the car, you need to hold your finger on the trigger for a while. And re-aim.

I am willing to believe that the American soldiers did not know that the car was not terrorist-oriented. (That seems unlikely, but fine, for the sake of this argument, I'll take it.) But such an act is not an accident: it's an error. Errors happen, and people die from other people's mistakes. And people -- armies, countries -- take responsibility for their mistakes. It's high time this administration starts taking responsibility for its actions. If we are so gung-ho about this war, let's not shy away from our mistakes.

Or is it simply that if we started doing that, we'd be owning up to way more than we'd want to admit to?

Rant over. Back to happy stuff about movies and my-wife-is-still-large next time...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Maybe we should name our son "Spike"...

Angela looked up a few names on the thing I posted yesterday and found it fascinating that the legal names "Willow" and "Xander" both went up significantly at the same time. "Buffy," on the other hand, peaked in the 70s and hasn't come up since.

On that note, responding to Oge's comment as to whether or not I should name my son after the guy who used to tackle me in the hallway and do the turkey trot on my chest, and who once locked me out of my room and e-mailed my future wife saying that I wanted to ravish her "voluptuous body" (which, granted, it is now, but still...): No. But it was worth a shot.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What's in a name?

We're getting down to the wire -- even other moms are now starting to say that Angela's getting big. (And yes, she is.)

So it's about time we picked a name, right? I'm being facetious -- we picked a name long ago. And yes, we've looked to see how popular the name we've chosen is by checking out the Social Security Administration website. There has apparently been a surge in the popularity of our chosen name over the last few years and, lo and behold, it's in the top 20 for boys. (Our girl's choice was barely in the top 1000.)

But here's something fun that my sister-in-law found: an application that tracks the popularity of kids' names over the last century or so. Really neat! Check it out. I just love the little graphs -- the ex-math major in me, I guess.

Only other news? The introduction to the book I'm working on -- which I couldn't seem to finish over the summer and have been working on for about a month -- is finally done. On to another chapter!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

There's nothing like llama spit

Maybe I watch a little too much TV. (Hence why we don't have cable until tenure. And even then.) And I'm pretty down on the reality show bandwagon. But in general, I find The Amazing Race to be somewhat honorable. Usually, the teams could care less about where they're going as they're just running from one place to the next.

I decided to tune into tonight's premiere of the new season not for Survivor's Amber and Rob, but because I thought I saw a llama in the previews. And sure enough, the show did what I've been waiting for them to do all this time: The Amazing Race's first stop was Peru!!

It was actually fun to watch all these silly Americans run all around the only other country I'm pretty familiar with. Here's my take on the episode:
  • Note how they didn't show them arriving in Lima until after they got out of the airport. That's because they're just finishing up a massive reconstruction project on the international arrivals portion, where they'll finally have flyways to disembark from the plane directly into the airport. (In Spanish, these things are apparently called "sleeves.")
  • Their first clue was in the Plaza Mayor in the center of Lima. Gorgeous -- and surrounded by one of the most dangerous parts of Lima! And all these Americans are running through them! I want to know how many cameras got stolen.
  • They took buses from the airport to central Lima and then to Ancón. My family found out that Angela and I was riding these buses to work instead of taking a taxi and were shocked. Usually, they're packed to the gills with at least eight people over capacity. The people on this show got lucky. I was a little bummed, however, that they didn't show the guys leaning out of the windows yelling the destinations.
  • I'm so thrilled they went to Ancón! A cute beach area a little to the north of Lima, that's where my parents used to court. Angela's never been there, so it was neat to show her. I love the bicycle taxis used by the beach.
  • I assumed that once the teams got to Cuzco, they would stop immediately because you're really not supposed to do too much strenuous stuff because of the altitude. When I realized they were going to continue on, I thought, "Wow, this should be really good. I can't wait for someone to pass out." Of course, they gave them ample mate de coca to alleviate altitude sickness. (See, Dan? It's not just me...)
  • The teams then went to a gorge, ziplined down, and then had to decide between roping a llama or carrying a basket 2/3 of a mile. If I were on this show, I would know that llamas are testy and would have opted for the baskets. But it was hilarious to see the persnickety llamas spitting like mad at being forced to move by one of the teams. Angela and I were dying of laughter. And she was thrilled because she had wanted to see the llamas spit when we were down there. (I refused to annoy them to be spat on -- it's gross.) It was worth watching the whole thing just to see the llamas spit at the Americans.

I have to say that what most impressed me with the episode was that the teams didn't say anything nasty about Peru and kinda realized the situation there. (The producers probably edited it out, but still...) Most of the contestants just marveled at the scenery once they got to the Andes, but they seemed to even enjoy being in downtown Lima. Considering some of the ugly Americans I've seen go to Peru without camera crews or the need to get to a location that quickly, I'm so thrilled that both the country and the Americans were shown in a positive light. At some point during the show, we called my sister-in-law (who came down to Lima while we were there) and we were all reliving our own adventures down there. (I've been everywhere they've shown -- and a couple of those places aren't exactly on the beaten tourist path.) I have to say I'm tickled they chose to showcase Peru for the two-hour premiere -- and made it exciting to boot.

Hey Jenny, I'm sure you didn't watch this -- but if you did, I'm wondering if you were as amused as I was.

This is what I get for mentioning "Roller Boogie"

I've only been posting things to a blog for about two weeks or so. And I mentioned the roller skating double fantasia of Xanadu and Roller Boogie. And how you know the movie's good if it features roller rinks.

Lo and behold, apparently someone else thinks the same thing.

The apocalypse, indeed, appears to be nigh.