Sunday, August 28, 2005

Reminiscing on Sunday, listening to the Sundays...

It's that little souvenir of a colorful year
That makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise...

First summer of being a dad. Quite the experience. The 4th of July parade, running after politicians, then quietly painting in the backyward while listening to classical music. Long trips to Cape Cod and the North Carolina beach, where you slept for long periods of time, being the best little boy possible until it was just unreasonable for you to be strapped into that chair for so long. Days inside the house, because it was just too hot to go for a walk -- and lots of days where Mom brought you out to dip your feet in Sligo Creek, or your whole body in the little inflatable pool left over from our grad school days in Michigan. Painting and rearranging the laundry room, which lead to an unfortunate avoidance of the weed-haven of the front lawn. Mom dilligently pulling those weeds, hoping it would eventually work out. The wondrously tall stalks of flowers by the fence, taller than even Mom or Dad. Meeting Oma and Opa for the first time, watching their faces light up with your smiles.

You turning over, even if you won't turn back yet. You, laughing your butt off for no apparent reason whatsoever. You, making two hours of crying disappear with a single smile. You, with the most adorable wheezy cry ever. You, being born, becoming you.

Thank you for letting me be here for almost all of it, for having a sabbatical where I got to be more a part of your life than probably any other dad these days. It has been utterly amazing.

Tomorrow, classes begin again.

Here's where the story ends,
Ooooh, here's where the story ends.

Time to turn the page. New chapter begins. Let's go at it together, what do you say?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Who needs to go out on Friday nights? Or watch stupid comedies on ABC?

Let us take this moment away from baby talk for a moment to drool slightly over PBS's recent Friday night lineup which, because I am now an old lefty academic, I find a little... well, hot.

On the left, we have David Brancaccio. When he was the voice of NPR's Marketplace, I thought he was very intelligent and had a great radio voice. I have been disappointed with seeing what some of my favorite radio personalities actually look like. (Then again, I'm such a fan of Daniel Schorr that I would wear his old mug on a t-shirt any old time. Eric Martinsen, I know you would, too.) Nonetheless, Mr. Brancaccio left radio to work PBS' Now, the embattled current emblem of Everything Wrong with Public Television According to the Republican Party. (For the record, I also think Bill Moyers is tres cool and a fairly courageous personality in this day and age. Yeah, boy howdy, I'm a liberal, ain't I?) In any case, it turns out that Mr. Brancaccio does not have a face for radio. He's so earnest-looking, yet wise. Like an assistant professor who is trying very hard to get you to understand a concept. (The fact that I not only know assistant professors but am one is entirely irrelevant to this analogy.) I mean, isn't he dreamy? Don't you just want to go into his office hours and have him explain public policy to you?

Or maybe you'd prefer to be locked up. In which case, we have Sharon Small on the right. Not exactly the starlet but hey, I'll take her over Lindsey Lohan any day. She has had a couple of good roles in films, most prominently in Dear Frankie, but I think she's best known here for playing Barbara Havers on the PBS Mystery! series The Inspector Lynley Mysteries. Characterized as smart and scrappy (if lower-class and therefore, since this is a British series, doomed), Havers is the best personality on the show. I have been informed by my Dean (through Angela) that in the books, she is supposed to be highly unattractive; Sharon Small is far from that. Not that she'll make magazine covers, perhaps, but wouldn't you also want to talk over a good pint about a case with her?

Yes, when I become the right demographic for PBS, you know there's too much So You Think You Can Dance? on network television. (Then again -- mmmm, David Brancaccio... mmmm, Sharon Small.... mmmm, Daniel Schorr... wait, no, that takes it too far.)

Given that I just blogged about David Brancaccio, it should not surprise me that I am a...

Pure Nerd
56 % Nerd, 30% Geek, 34% Dork

For The Record: A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia. A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one. A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions. You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.


Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on Ok Cupid

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Xan Middents: Celebrity Spokesmodel

Given that we finally had decent weather in which to take an afternoon walk, Xan and I went out to fabulous downtown Takoma Park. I thought that perhaps we didn't have enough new pictures of the cutest little guy on the planet to send to the grandparents, so I whipped the camera out and took a couple of pictures, including this one:

Xan Middents, with bug Posted by Picasa

Personally, I was pretty impressed with this one: it hasn't been retouched at all. We then went to CVS to print the pictures. The person at the counter told us it would only take about 10-15 minutes, so I decided to wander around the store.

When I got back, he handed me the pictures and then said, "Would you mind if I used one of your pictures as a sample photograph?"


"As one of the sample photographs."

"Oh! Which one?"

But I already knew which one he was talking about. And so, my son is now, at the ripe age of five months, shilling for CVS as Mr. 5x7 at the Takoma Park CVS. Isn't that hysterical? For our troubles, I got a free 5x7 enlargement of my own with a frame to match. Naturally, that will appear on my desk when I go in tomorrow.

Of course, Vega and I are both a little ticked off that he didn't choose this one. What an ego-deflator. (Despite what Russell says, "Hot" I am not.)

Jeff and the animal worth only five points Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 19, 2005

This reminds me of when I have to tell someone that I am PROFESSOR Middents to get something done

The second half of Roger Ebert's hilarious, take-no-prisoners-unless-you-beat-theirs-stumps-with-their-own-arms review of Deuce Bigelow:European Gigalo, proving that the most entertaining reviews are always the ones for the worst movies --

The movie created a spot of controversy last February. According to a story by Larry Carroll of MTV News, Rob Schneider took offense when Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times listed this year's Best Picture Nominees and wrote that they were "ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that ... bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,' a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic."

Schneider retaliated by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers."

Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can't take it. Then I found he's not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a award, and the Publicists' Guild award for lifetime achievement.Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.

But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "
Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

(Thanks to Defective Yeti for highlighting this. How come J.J. didn't get to it first?)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

That rocket you're waiting for? Want to suck on its exhaust?

(This reaction will no doubt please the folks over at Baggage Carousel 4 while causing those who listen closely as well as the newly outed DCLush to, at the very least, roll their eyes at me...)

I occassionally listen to the pop radio that is marketed to my demographic. In the Metro rag Express (a.k.a. Post lite), I read yesterday that Jazon Mraz publicly stated that smoking makes him happy.

And you know what? The moment I read that, I actually felt myself starting to really dislike his music grow. And this grew exponentially as time went on. Now, I'm actually looking forward to turning to a new station when I hear "Curbside Prophet" come on the radio again -- and I kinda sorta liked the ditty at one point (the first 28 times I heard it in a single car ride).

Somehow, New Order's constant, unabashed use of heroin and Rufus Wainwright's confession of rampant drug use don't bother me. But Mraz's public joy he's felt he needs to express for his cancer sticks? That annoys me.

Or perhaps makes me realize just how annoying he really is.

Funny, eh?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Walk like an Egyptian, but waddle like an emperor

Xan and I went to see March of the Penguins today which, I thought, could be summed up as an exceptionally well-photographed National Geographic special. (Which, as it turns out, is what it is, since one of the production companies was National Geographic Feature Films.) I am in fact not entirely sure why this has become the Second Coming of the Documentary – it’s done well and it’s entertaining and all, but there are better docs out there.

That said, considering that the movie moved fairly slowly and therefore meant that if Xan distracted me I didn’t really lose the plot (“wait, are those the females marching now or what??”), it was an ideal film to attend with an infant. I went with some friends who also have an infant, 7-month-old Ruby. Angela met mom Sarah at her Mom’s Group; I met Adam when they came over for Peruvian Independence Day. And I have to say that Xan was a total champ! He quietly nibbled the restraint in his carrier through the (gazillion) previews, then sat snuggled in my lap, fascinated by the movie for almost 45 minutes. Maybe this is because we haven’t been watching TV or movies with him at home at all? Who knows, it brought joy to my heart. Then, when he started getting antsy, I pointed him toward Ruby (who was being held by Adam) and the two of them hit it off wonderfully, smiling and talking to each other. Oddly enough, we had a seemingly gendered moment when Ruby’s very feminine, high-pitched sighs were met with Xan’s deep, gruff grunts. He also didn’t seem to mind at all that Ruby kept smacking him in the face. Better he learn now! The two of them had a grand old time. Adam, who also will have Tuesday mornings at home with Ruby, and I will definitely have to get together as the semester progresses.

Later, he turned into a movie critic by babbling constantly in the car, full of new-found consonants. Our son turns out to be a budding blabbermouth. This, I’m sure, surprises no one.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Apparently, my wife's been doing some grass

Last night as she was heading to bed, Angela said to me, "I wish I had a blog to work out the complex affair I have with the lawn." Pause. "I mean, relationship."

"Wait a second, you said 'affair.'"

"I meant 'relationship.' Complex relationship with the lawn."

"You're having an affair with the lawn. I knew it!"

A sigh, a roll of the eyes. These, I am familiar with. *grin*

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Like sand through the hourglass

Well, alas, in my world the summer is pretty much over. The new semester is approaching and the house is gearing up for the fall, not the least because I'm up for review again this year. In preparation, we started Xan in family childcare today where, for now, he is the only child because the place is new. (It's also about three blocks away from home and run by an Ecuadorian woman, which means he'll be getting a lot of Spanish -- a very good thing in our book, heh.) As a testament to his enjoyment there, he managed to finally succeed in getting his toes into his mouth after having explored them for the past few days! Quite exciting!

And where were we the last few days?

Xan says hello to the oceanPosted by Picasa

Our good friend Steve invited us to his family's house on the ocean in North Carolina this past weekend, which was a nine-hour drive -- but well worth it. It rained a lot, but we still managed to get some time jumping around in the waves. Plus, while I don't have a picture of this, we actually saw some sea turtles coming up out of the sand!! It was wild, watching the little guy (or gal, who knows) flop valiantly toward the ocean... probably to be immediately eaten by a sandpiper or bluefish or something, but still. In any case, Xan was a little unsure of the waves, but didn't really complain too much. In fact, he seemed mostly intrigued by the whole concept of waves throughout the visit and really injoyed sitting around on the deck just listening and watching the horizon. Maybe he missed the traffic at home?

The boys in blue...Posted by Picasa

Today, I finally managed to get a razor to my face to get at four days of facial hair growth. What may surprise some of you is that I did for a moment consider the notion of a goatee, since I already had some of the growth. (Gone are the days when I could go this long and barely register a shadow. Sigh.) I actually shaved it into the shape and considered myself in the mirror. And then I realized I kinda looked like a former student named John Turner. Not even that: I looked like the pen-line representation used for his production company. Love ya, John, but no. Not to mention the objections from Angela at the mere concept. I shaved it off.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

In the Swedish bargain basement

Xan and I brought my parents to Ikea for the first time today. My mother had been salivating over the catalog for the last couple days and the evil store is a mere 10 minutes from our house. We decided to go for the 99-cent breakfast and get there relatively early. Four hours later, we had traversed the whole store, with my mom getting umpteen ideas about what do with their new place, if only the new Detroit-area Ikea were open sooner than next year. (Indeed, it appears they are building one in Canton, about a half-hour away from Ann Arbor.)

I instructed them as to the usefulness of checking out the "As-Is" department, on the hunt for bargains that have minor scratches for a steal of a price. In particular, we have been looking for some furniture to put Angela's nine gazillion craft/yarn projects in the basement. We had finally narrowed it down to a couple Ikea pieces and something we found at Target. Since I've memorized the names, I knew what to look for "just in case" in Ikea.

And sure enough, we found a birch-colored Expedit shelving unit, the large one. Retailing for $149, it was dropped in As-Is down to $59. And the problem here was merely that the boxes were a little ripped up, while the furniture itself was fine. I called Ange and got permission to buy it.

"Guard this with your life," I told my mother, as I ran off to get the cart.

Even better, while I was distracted with Xan, I failed to realize that the cashier only rang it up for $50.

I think we had a good shopping day, myself.

Ahora todos -- ¡a cantar!

I have to get this down before I forget it. My mom taught sang this to me when I was a kid and I had forgotten a couple lines:

Los pollitos dicen pío, pío, pío
Cuando tienen hambre, cuando tiene frío.
La gallina busca el maíz y el trigo
Y les da alimento, y les da abrigo.
Los pollitos duermen acurrucaditos
Bajo de sus alas hasta el otro día.

For those of you who don't speak Spanish, the song is about freakin' demanding ingrates who only take, take, take, those whiny bastards!!! Still, a fun song to sing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I am such a manly man

I was about to sign off and go to bed when a giant beetlewaspflyingbugthang appeared in the living room. And not only did I kill it without waking up parents, wife or baby, but I also managed to do so before my flabbergasted cat. (Admittedly, it was amusing to see her freak out when the bug dive-bombed her.)

I, for one, now go to bed feeling as if my chest hair is justified

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

As August dawns...

An update of recent events...

  • The party over the weekend was fabulous. For all of you who came (and hoo boy, there were a bunch), I apologize if I was perhaps too busy grilling beef to chat for too long with anyone. It's the only problem with having nine million people in your house: you want to chat with everyone and can't quite because you have to mill. (Angela apologzies too, since she had to escape to put Xan to bed. Next time, I'll try to use more brian cells and not plan a party right in the middle of the sleep routine. Nonetheless, what a wonderfully motley crew: between the College Writing crew (with significant others) on the upper deck, the kids running through the garden and throwing part of my driveway at the garage, and my parents chatting with the foreits in the living room, it was quite an event. Plus, as previously mentioned, I cooked meat! Of course, I had to remember how to do it, but it was impressive nonetheless. And, oddly enough, we have leftovers, which are in my freezer.
  • Invaluable to the party in general was my mom who (with my dad, lest you think I do not have both parents) are in town en route to a new chapter in Ann Arbor. Though they arrived in the middle of a heat wave (missing one of their ten suitcases... yes, ten...), they have adjusted nicely to the very cool basement of our house. Today, we repacked all their belongings to mail them through the postal service since Amtrak has decided to cut all baggage service to the state of Michigan. (On the minus side, this has caused us worry and Congress should be reprimanded for cutting back funding to Amtrak. On the plus side, now my parents' stuff will go straight to their door, meaning they won't have to carry a darn thing.) Alas, the new Ikea in Canton, MI is not yet open for their shopping pleasure. In the meantime, they are having tons of fun doing the grandparent thing, as you can see:
    Oma and Xan, a few minutes after first meeting each other Posted by Picasa

  • Speaking of which, Xan is, as usual, just a great kid. (Can you see that smile?? That totally makes me day. And he's doing it a lot these days. Gosh, I hope I have a happy kid.) Today was especially wonderful, since he decided to (a) talk up a storm and (b) roll over on his own. First step to locomotion, indeed. He's getting a huge kick out of Oma, who keeps doing insane things in his presence, which cracks him up like you wouldn't believe. (Me too, actually.) My cousins have called my mom la tía loca and I totally understand why.
  • We have some grass in the font yard now. (Wheeeee!) This is entirely due to Angela's hard work and the battle against the evil weeds is not quite done, but we're getting there.
  • We have finally decided to return to Telluride this year, although we are doing it sans Xan. This kills us in many respects, but we finally realized that the only reason to bring Xan would be to show him off; otherwise, he will be cranky, grumpy, jet-lagged and disruptive, not to mention, he won't remember anything about spitting up on Roger Ebert. Now all we need to do is finally send our forms in, which are now almost a month overdue... sigh, and I was trying to get all this together ahead of time...
  • Less than a month until classes begin again. Sob.

OK, that's it for now. Yawn! Off to bed soon.