Saturday, December 31, 2005

As the clock ticks...

...why not consider some resolutions?
  • To write more. Got to get that book done, so preferably nightly. Don't call between 10pm and midnight.
  • To see more movies. Not sure how to do that between Xan and kicking up on writing but I can hope.
  • To get the front lawn in a halfway decent shape, considering how much I wrecked it this year.
  • To be a conscientious advisor for my independent study, capstone project and thesis students.
  • To use the word "frell" instead of the more socially unacceptable word it usually replaces on Farscape to get through the censors, thereby ensuring that my son learns the geekier word first. (This may lead to more social outcastness. However, given that both of his parents survived that, we will chalk this up to something that is "good for him.")
  • To get in frelling shape. (see? why not start now?!)
  • To get the darn blinky Christmas lights up outside the house with plenty of time before Christmas. Or, even, get them up at all, which I failed to do this year.
  • To call my parents more.
  • To have even more fun with Xan, if that's possible.
That's it. I think. Happy New Year -- see you in '06!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Time really stops in the blogosphere

And I say that because I just checked several of the regular blogs that I read and we all stopped blogging a few days before the holidays really kicked in full force. (Well, not La Loca but then again she's over in Korea with her snoogums. And, well, she's loca.)

As for me, I had plenty to blog about but was hampered by a very slow connection in Cape Cod, an obviously changed toll-free dialup number for the University (darn you!), and all that free time that I used to have over the holiday break that was now swallowed up by such activities as, oh, keeping little boy hands from touching the hot wood-burning stove. (FYI: no injuries.)

But we're back -- bushed beyond belief, but back. And maybe some day soon we'll also see our living room floor again.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Be afraid of geeks bearing gifts

I am always wary of getting gifts from students, particularly around finals time. So I was particularly concerned when S stopped me on the way out of class last week and said, "I have a gift to give to you. But I want to make sure that it won't affect my grade."

"OK," I said. "Why do you say that?"

"Well, this gift might affect it... negatively."

Wow, well, one should really be concerned about thsoe kind of gifts.

At the final exam today, S gave me a bag and a a box and said, "Merry Christmas. These are to be used together."

In the bag was a letterboxed VHS-version of Pearl Harbor, the wonderful Ben Affleck-Josh Hartnett love story that I stated on record in class as one of the biggest wastes of celluloid in recent history.

In the box -- were matches.

What a great gift!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Christmastime is here

We interrupt this grading session to report that...


I realize I'm old-fashioned in this day and age of TiVo and everything-televised-on-DVD, but there's something special about catching this on television. It's just so neat.

If he weren't asleep, I would be waking up the boy. Then again, I still have to wait a few years until he can learn the Snoopy Dance. (And then, he can be like that other Xander. Not to mention me, since I do a mean Snoopy Dance.)

Speaking of this Christmas special, I discovered just now that Jody Watley has a version of the tune from this special that makes it sound very... well, let's just say it's a version that makes you want to snuggle at the fireplace.

(Hee hee, Lucy just said the "big Eastern syndicate" line, a metafictional dig at the world of comic strips. Have I mentioned I love the Vince Guaraldi Trio? Yay.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

If I don't come back... *cough sputter*

The first finals came in today, so I really have to hunker down. So I'll be disappearing for a while.

And if you can't find me, look in the bushes for the guy drowned in green ink. Yep, that'll be me.

(Darn it, my grading helper is asleep, too. You'd think I'm not, you know, providing him food and shelter and what-not.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Back to what's important in life...

Movie awards, of course!

Thanks to NPR, I managed to remember to catch the Golden Globe nominations this morning while I was trying to feed Xan some food. (Emphasis on the "try" here, since this morning he preferred to use mush as a skin cream.)

So without further ado:

Why I Will Be Watching the Golden Globe Ceremony
  • 7 noms for Brokeback Mountain (pic dram, actor Ledger, supp actr Williams, dir Lee, song, screenplay, score Santaolalla) because it is that good
  • 3 noms for The Constant Gardener (pic dram, supp actr Weisz, dir Mireilles) because it's directed by a Latin American
  • 3 noms for The Squid and the Whale (pic com, actor com Daniels, actr com Linney) because now I've become really interested in this flick
  • 2 noms for A History of Violence (pic dram, actr dram Bello) although as the clear best picture of the year so far, it deserves more
  • 3 noms for Match Point (pic dram, supp actr Johansen, dir Allen, screenplay) because the mere fact that Woody is nominated in the drama category makes me go hmm
  • 2 noms for Felicity Huffman (film drama actr Transamerica, tv com actr Despearte Housewives) because she's so fab
  • 3 noms for George Clooney (supp act Syriana, dir and scr Good Night and Good Luck) because he's so fat... I mean, it's just so interesting
  • nom for Paul Giamatti, because -- yay!
  • nom for Terence Howard for Hustle and Flow because that man seems to really deserve this
  • only 2 noms for Munich (dir Spielberg, scr Kushner) and only 1 nom for King Kong (dir Jackson) because that makes me laugh
  • only 2 noms for Memoirs of a Geisha (dram actr Zhang, score Williams) because, although I love all these Chinese actresses, I hear the film is a beautiful travesty
  • random foreign film noms for Kung Fu Hustle and Paradise Now
  • TV noms for My Name is Earl, Weeds, Eva Longoria (so people can shut up), Sandra Oh, Kyra Sedgwick and S. Epatha Merkerson
Why I Will Throw Things at the TV during the Golden Globes
  • Shirley Maclaine for In Her Shoes, because there had to have been better supporting actress nominees (hello? Gong Li??) and because if anyone deserves something for this movie, it's Collette
  • 2 noms for North Country (despite the fact that they are for actresses I respect, Theron and MacDormand) because the pic is supposed to be piffle
  • no director nod for David Cronenberg, because that makes the sense that is not
  • no nom for the French Caché -- because the HFP could do whatever they want with this and didn't
  • no TV noms for Gilmore Girls or Arrested Development (!!!!)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Today is sponsored by the letter "B"... in "ba," "babababa," "bwabwbwaba," "boooo" and "Bob."

(Who the heck is Bob? And why does Xan get his name before mine? Sigh.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ho oh no

I had to stop looking at these pictures because (a) I should be grading and (b) attempting to contain my laughter in order to not wake up the rest of the house was starting to get painful.

Suffice to say that this is yet another reason why we are going nowhere near Santa's Magic Kingdom at the mall anytime soon.

Thanks to the posters at my nephew Joel's blog for finding this.

European Cultural Heritage Smackdown 2006

I know I've probably spelled that incorrectly (sorry, Becca!) but I discovered to my glee last night that the Final Draw was made for World Cup 2006 in Germany.

Soccer, people. Jeez.

Yes, believe it or not, Jeff turns into a sports fan once every four years and will actually wake up in the middle of the night to catch some games. (I'm not quite as fanatic as my colleague Matt, who may use all of his stored-up vacation time to actually go to Germany, but I still get all excited.) In my world, this compares to the morning that the Oscar nominations are announced -- which, come to think of it, are also fast-approaching! *pant pant pant*

It does appear that there will be some fantastic soccer being played next year. Though this doesn't sound all that exciting, there appear to be two "groups of death," where there are at least three strong teams in a group where only two will survive. One is Group E, featuring (with world standings in parentheses): the Czech Republic (2), the United States (8), Italy (12) and Ghana (50). The big one, however, seems unexpected: the Netherlands (3), Argentina (4), Cote d'Ivoire (41) and Serbia/Montenegro (47). Considered the weaker no-brainers: Group A - Germany (16), Costa Rica (21), Poland (23), Ecuador (37); Group G - France (5), Korea (29), Switzerland (36), Togo (56); and Group H - Spain (6), Tunisia (28), Saudi Arabia (32), Ukraine (40).

Who am I rooting for? Peru, of course! VIVA PER- oh wait, surprise surprise, Peru didn't make it. In fact, thank goodness for Bolivia, otherwise Peru would have come in last place for South America. I could root for Poland for Angela's sake, but they're going to get sacked early by Germany. Then I usually go for the Latin Americans and/or the US... but I also believe that a couple random strong upsets from Cote d'Ivoire and newcomer Portugal will also knock out all the Latins save Costa Rica and Brazil. (The draw was unfortuante for the Latin Americans, alas.)

I'm much more reliable for Oscar predictions. So here are wildly misinformed (but fun!) predictions for FIFA World Cup 2006 -- winners of each match in capitals:

Round of 16:
GERMANY d. Paraguay
CZECH REEP d. Croatia
FRANCE d. Tunisia
ENGLAND d. Costa Rica
SPAIN d. Switzerland

ENGLAND d. Cote d'Ivoire
SPAIN d. Brazil

Final: SPAIN d Netherlands*

Here's the fun part: that final game is more than possible, should #6 Spain upset #1 Brazil and #3 Netherlands tackle #2 Czech Republic. Such a meeting, however, would provide a certain ethnic conflict in me since, as it turns out, my mother's side of the family largely descends from Spain (with some Italian, English and Quechua thrown in for good measure) and my father's side is almost exclusively Dutch (with, ironically, a tinge of Spanish). Given that I have Spain coming from both sides, I'll be pulling for España all the way. ¡VIVA ESPAÑA!

OK, back to my regular life now. Except I wonder if there are World Cup onesies...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Decisions, decisions

As I await the snow and am grading, I just found out that this week's "crybaby" screening offers a choice of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe in Georgetown or Syriana in Tyson's Corner.

Eek. Which one to choose?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Oh, look! A bandwagon!

Everyone else seems to be writing about Brokeback Mountain, so I might as well join in on all the fuss since movies are, you know, my business.

Is the hype for this movie justified? Yes. As I mentioned before when I saw the film at Telluride, this is really a beautiful film which does the utterly beautiful short story by Annie Proulx incredible justice. The movie aches with subtle majesty between the grandeur of the scenery and the quiet moments where Gyllenhall and especially Ledger do their best work. The movie justifiably should do well come Oscar-time; while I hope it does well at the box-office, I will be happy if the movie does even modestly well. It's really a quieter film than what the media is hyping it up to be.

Is it sexy? Yes -- but not in the way that you might think. There is only a moment of all-out SEX and you don't really see all that much... but the implication is more than you need, believe me. The urgent violence of the story is, I think, depicted well.

Is it a gay western? This actually gets my goat and is why I'm posting this at all. It is a movie that features cowboys, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination, a western. Cowboys alone do not make a western. (Watch High Noon, a tense thriller with all sorts of cowboys in the Wild West, but not a western.) No, this is a melodrama in a big way, which means Kleenex should be provided when you purchase a ticket. If you place the movie in technicolor suburbia, the movie would fit in a lovely manner back in the Sirkian 50s, in some ways better than Haynes' Far from Heaven.

As for its status as a "gay film"? Well, some films deserve to be ghettoized into that section of the video store and, generally, I find this to be a particularly ineffective marketing tool. There is something around the notion that "gay folks will watch anything as long as it has a gay character in it. Then there are films that happen to have a gay-themed storyline but are good movies without necessarily taking that into consideration. (I'm thinking of movies like The Deep End or Bound here.) So enough of this calling it a "gay film." It's a good film, period.

And does it deserve your dollar? Yes. Don't go expecting the greatest thing since sliced bread, because it's not. But it's a darn good story, told well. Good moviemaking is not usually hyped this much -- this time, I would suggest rewarding it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why my son is doomed - DOOMED, I tell you!

Xan and I were happily listening to NPR's Fresh Air this afternoon, merrily listening to John McCain talking seriously about the world we live in and how he isn't still smarting about what happened in South Carolina and how we should still stay in Iraq and the like. We both felt rather up to date and I was multitasking by making dinner, getting informed and watching the baby, all at once.

And then, they had to go and review Madonna's new album, Confessions on a Dance Floor. And they played a snippet of her new single, "Hung Up," which re-envisions the hook from ABBA's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" even better than Erasure.

That switch that was triggered at an early age by watching too much Solid Gold was suddenly flipped.

The next thing you know, I run downstairs to find the CD of dance music purchased long ago at the New Orleans Virgin Megastore. (The CD was sold to raise money for AIDS research and features remixes of Erasure's "Oh L'Amour," Depeche Mode's "Everything Counts," Bedrock's "Heaven Scent" and a really cranked up version of Yaz's "Separation." Thank God for gay men.) I pop it in the kitchen CD player, turn the Christmas tree lights blinker setting from "slow fade" to "supa-dupa disco funkay!!" and grab my son. We then proceed to dance, dance, dance all over the house, much to his utter joy. Baby screams of laughter and delight. For almost an hour.

Naturally, this is how my wife found us when she got home.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A few good men (played by movie semi-stars)

The trailer for the new movie Annapolis features the deep-voiced guy saying the following: "In the toughest military academy in the nation... if you want to become a leader... you have to get through one man..."

And immediately, I imagine my friend Ric, who just got tenure at the Naval Academy but who in another life was my rush chair in my fraternity. One of his favorite stories is that the main negative comment on his student evaluations one year were the complaints from the cadets thathe cut off his long hair. What I want to know is if he can make his students drop and give him 20. Because if I could do that, man, what a class I would have. ("I'm sorry, I haven't done the reading, nor do I have the paper due today. Can I have an exten-" "Drop down, student and count it out loud!!" Bwahahahaha.)