Friday, March 31, 2006

Not drowning

Xan has spent much of the last week learning that hand motions get him places. For example, he is pointing a lot and, when this happens at meals, I will often offer him whatever he has pointed to, unless he points to the cat. I am still trying to figure out what about my aunt's painting over the fireplace is so intriguing, because he points at it and talks a lot. A budding art critic, perhaps?

Yesterday, however, there was something new: he pointed to the ceiling and then proceeded to wildly wave his arms in a circular fashion. He also looked up at the ceiling fan in the dining room. I am interpreting this to mean that somehow he has managed to figure out that the ceiling fan in the dining room is similar to the colorful one in his own room. This would of course confirm that he has grasped the concept of "ceiling fan" before he has grasped the concept of "Dad."

That alone is fascinating. However, it is also entirely possible that, in my zeal to expose him to quality 80s music, I have accidentally let some LL Cool J in the mix and he is merely responding to the shout-out, "Now throw your hands in the air! And wave 'em like you just don't care!!" (Thank you to Stepahnie Koli, wherever you are, for ingraining in my mind the words that follow: "And if you are a Senior from Roosevelt, somebody say Oh yeah! (Oh yeah!)" I haven't taught Xan that part yet.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Well, whadaya know...

Thanks to Xan banging on my keyboard while looking at a blog (no, really, it's true), I happened to come across a website which tracks DC-oriented blogs.

Scroll down to the "W" and you will find -- lo, and behold! -- I'm actually listed! This amuses me greatly, especially considering I did not even know the site existed until about 5 minutes ago.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Peruvian film alert!

So, some of you may know that my specific topic of study happens to be Peruvian film.

Lo and behold, while trawling the Apple trailers site, I find that one appears to have been picked up by Lion's Gate for US release in April.

All of a sudden, the tentative title of my introduction ("Why You Have Never Seen a Peruvian Film") may need to be changed. Meanwhile, for the Peruvians who might be reading: has anyone seen this, since it has already been out in Peru? I must know!

Monday, March 20, 2006

A Year in the Life

What a difference a year makes. I started this blog just over a year ago, pretty much to track our descent into parenthood and, primarily, to let folks who knew us know more about what was going on with all of us without having to send emails out every other day. The event that triggered this was, of course, the impending birth of our son. The first picture below is me and him almost 365 days ago to the minute, give or take an hour.

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This is us now!:

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I can hardly believe that an entire year has gone by. Babyhood is apparently officially over and Xan is creeping slowly upward into Toddlerville. Seriously: standing is now a constant, happy activity (when done up against something relatively solid) and, as of the last couple days, he can wobble down the length of the coffee table to nabsomething that caught his eye (usually the wooden puzzle my cousin gave me, seen under the table here, which he is allowed to play with; or my computer, which he is not).

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We had a really (really) small party this evening, with my parents around and a couple friends. My parents have been really great while they have been here. Among other things, they arrived right when Angela left for a conference... and right as Xan got sick with only his second cold, meaning that he basically clung to me for three days straight. (Hence, my grading time was not what I expected this spring break. Sorry, class.) They have been wonderful though and my mother in particular is having a ball being the crazy Oma.

Speaking of crazy, perhaps our idea of an ideal birthday gift for Xan is a little nuts:

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We saw him play with a giant drum at a birthday party, the first any of us had gone to in our new roles and he took to it very quickly. As you can see -- and really, this is what amazes me -- he instinctively seems to know which end of the mallet is to be used to hit the drum, and which is to hold. This photo is really within the first five minutes of him acquiring the drum, and we did not show him what to do. This may, however, thwart Angela's plan for him becoming a violist. I mean, really, would you pick viola over precussion? (I put this to Señor Pájaro and he said, "Viola." So, maybe the quarter will still happen.)

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Today also served as an introduction to the world of cake. More specifically: cupcake. After a full year of mostly organic foods, carefully prepared or bought at Whole Foods, and milk either from the breast or made with the one formula I could find that didn't use corn syrup solids as an ingredient, we go and blow the whole thing with a Duncan Hines cake mix that was oh-so-yummy. Some kids apparently react really negatively to experiencing so much sweet after having had almost exclusively eaten food that was not nearly as sweet. They either spit it out, cry (usually both) or mash it into their (or their parents') hair. Not my boy: he ate the whole darn thing. And, son of his mother, the frosting was the best part.

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525,600 minutes, as the song goes: this is a good measure of a year.. Happy First Birthday, baby boy. We are very glad you are here.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Admittedly, I find this score pathetic

You Are 24% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Musings on what should have been a bad day

The whole family had been invited yesterday to the Annual ADE Conference, put on by our friend Cardo. ADE stands for the Association of Dumpling Eating -- so yes, this was an eating event, one to which we had been invited to for at least the last couple years. Something had always come up -- last year, for example, Xan appeared -- and we have not been able to make it. I resolved that I would go this year, no matter what. Since she is off to a conference later this week, Angela almost decided not to come -- but then realized that between my conference last week, hers this coming week and all the work we have had to do, we have not had any time for each other in recent history. So we thought this would be a good time to socialize not only with other good folks, but with each other. Plus, Ric lives in Annapolis and the day was scheduled to be sunny, warm and lovely -- a perfect day for an outing with the family.

Our first problem was expected: we ran late. Or rather, Xan's sleep schedule did not coincide with our departure schedule. He decided to nap for two hours instead of one, so we called saying that we would be late running out the door. Ric said, no problem, it is a rolling event anyway.

When we left, I remembered that I did not have to go up to 495 via New Hampshire Avenue; rather, I could just continue straight down 410 from our house and we would eventually cross it. Unfortunately, I forget that I am not supposed to take Ager Road, which only leads us back into DC. We end up semi-lost (Ange was nice and called it a "detour") in what turned out to be a lovely part of NE DC (Brentwood, I believe?), with me insisting that we would eventually have to cross New York Avenue, which was also Route 50, which would take us to Annapolis. Ange navigated using our handy-dandy DC street map; as we got to West Virginia Avenue, she noted that we were going by a prison -- and then looked up and noted that every business around there had super-barbed wire surrounding. Yikes. At least we would not have to stay here very long. We turn onto New York Avenue, whoop it up for a moment and finally think we are on our way...

...and then the car starts to wobble uncontrollably.

We realize that, oh my goodness, we have a flat tire.

We pull over right beyond the National Arboretum. I do not know how to change a tire. I turn to Angela and ask her if she knows. She says no. This is, in fact, the first time that either one of us has gotten a flat. Crap. We realize we are perhaps not in the most savory part of town (although not exactly near West Virginia Ave). We call AAA; they say someone will show up in less than an hour, to hang tight, that they will put a priority flag on it. Ange carts Xan -- who has been a trooper through all of this, happy as a clam on another new adventure -- off to the Arboretum, while I sit and wait for someone to come.

A semi-beat-up car then stops in front of me. A man steps out, smoking a cigarette. "It looks like you have a problem here."

"Yeah," I say. "A flat. And stupidly, I don't know how to change it."

"I can do it for you with no problem."

"I already called Triple-A."

He looks at me and laughs. "Man, I'm a mechanic. They ain't coming here anytime soon. You'll be here for three hours, at least. I'll have you done in ten minutes."

I am entirely unsure about this. The guy has weird teeth, I'm not in a great neighborhood, my wife and child are nearby but not here, I have a grand total of one (one!) dollar on me and I'm clearly going to have to give him money. Plus, AAA is (in theory) on its way. This is probably not a good idea. My instincts from living in Peru in the 80s are kicking in and say, No no no, just make him go away and wait for the official people to arrive. But before I can protest too much, he gets out my jack and my doughnut and starts changing my tire. I call Ange and tell her to come back.

Indeed, he is done in less than ten minutes. And, having shown me what to do -- really, it was simple after all -- I have learned something. I am really grateful. "How much do I owe you for this?" I ask.

"What do you want to give me?" he asks.

"Look," I say, and show him my wallet. "I have a grand total of one dollar. I'd like to give you twenty. Let me see what my wife has. If worse comes to worse, maybe we can find a bank."

It has already gone through my mind that this was a bad idea in the first place, that I could possibly get robbed or worse, and Ange and Xan are there with me, too. Ideally, I would have cash on me and that would be it -- but no, now I could go to the bank and this guy could ask me to drain my bank account for him. Holding my family hostage, I would probably give him anything. All sorts of scenarios run through my head. Like I said, child of Peru in the 80s. But, also, fair is fair: I need to give him something.

Ange comes back. She has nothing. The man says, "Look, you need to find a service station anyway. Follow me, I'll lead you to a bank that is right next to a service station." We agree, pile into the car, follow.

He leads us to a Bank of America on Kenilworth Avenue. I get a $20-bill from the machine, pay him. He directs us to the service station across the street. I finally ask him his name: he says James. He says goodbye, and drives away.

My trust in people remains intact. There is no way that James would be reading this, but thank you, James, truly.

But wait, the adventure is not over. James seemed to think that our flat was caused by a puncture and that the tire could be fixed easily and we would be back on our way to Annapolis in no time. Mind you, we still have not eaten lunch because, well, we were planning on loading up on dumplings. In the service station, however, we find that the tire has literally just slashed itself -- I said, "Slash? Someone slashed our tires" but no, it was on the inside -- and that we needed a new tire. These, however, were Costco tires purchased just three months ago. I asked if my doughnut would make it back to College Park so that I could just have them reinstall it for free. The guy said yes.

We make it to Costco. No problem fixing it, it's also under warranty. The wait, however, will be around two hours.

We have no other form of transportation. We agree, and gear ourselves up for a massive wait within Costco. At this point, we also call Cardo and say there is no way we could get there before Xan would melt down. Once again, dumplings are denied to us! We then spend two hours (and nearly a hundred bucks) on stuff at the store, taking a considerable amount of time to fill up on the samples, feed Xan on the display model of a porch swing, read a story from one of the open books and generally cavort.

Here's the funny thing, and why I am blogging about this at all: as we were heading home, sans dumplings and with a new tire, Ange and I looked at each other and could not say that it had been a bad day. In fact, we were still in a good mood after all this. Xan was still doing fine (if by now a tad cranky), having chalked it all up to yet another adventure. And we still got to spend some family time all together, if not precisely the way we planned. I am not entirely sure that this is because we are optimists (after all, included in this equation are not one but two Dadaks, and I say that with love), but it was actually nice to come to the end of the day and still think things are good.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Oscars, live from YVR!

Well, then. Who would have thunk that the biggest surprise would come at the end? This actually attests, in my opinion, to the complete dominance of the acting branch -- half of which, I believe, were actually in the movie itself. Or, it confirms that the best predictor for Best Picture is (perhaps not so surprisingly) the Best Editing award, for which Brokeback was inexplicably left off the list.

Still, I can not believe this is how it ends. Crash is not (not) the best picture of the year by a long shot -- I am sorry, but that is my opinion and I am sticking to it. Granted, if I had my druthers, A History of Violence would have swept everything. Perhaps it is best that I do not run Hollywood.

Signing off then. Only now can I appreciate that the Oscars actually ended in 3 1/2 hours. That's incredible in itself. Good night, and good luck. Don't crash.

8:32 - The most amusing thing now: after the credits, CTV cuts back to programming already in progress, which is.... wait for it... According to Jim. Stellar.
8:25 - I have to say that I am truly, truly stunned. Hard to type because I can't believe it.
8:23 - OH MY GOD.
8:22 - JACK! How come he doesn't host the Oscars? He's more of an Oscar icon than anyone.
8:21 - Ange just thanked all three Chinas!
8:20 - HOORAAAAAAAAY!!!! Ang Lee so deserves this award. And he just had his own "Hello, gorgeous" moment.
8:19 - Jon Stewart forgets that no one cares if someone breaks a viola. (Ha! A viola joke! Hi Angela!)
8:12 - And Crash goes for two. Brokeback 2, Crash 2. Neither for acting. Hm.
8:11 - OK, these two make an amazingly amusing writing team. I love them. And Larry McMurtry gives props to books!!! GO BOOKS!!! RIGHT ON!!!!
8:10 - Brokeback goes for two! And you know, Diana Ossana definitely had the best outfit of all the nominees.
8:08 - Dustin Hoffman is thanking the losers for doing great work. This, from the man who thanked people for losing when he won.
8:03 - I feel really icky having watched that speech. How plastic.
8:00 - Oh, Brookebrown. I'm so sorry we're not having the Oscar party to watch you blow up. Don't worry: we all know Reese is a horrible person, particularly because she's the first acting winner tonight to give a traditional Oscar speech... which now seems lame.
7:58 - Judi Dench seems embarassed to see her clip.
7:55 - What? Geisha wins Cinematography? That's completely ridiculous. That is the one that makes me the least happy.
7:53 - We're about to head into Hour #3. And suddenly, I realize that I have accidentally left my leftovers from lunch at the restaurant. Oops!
7:48 - And there goes my upset. Oh well, you go, PSH!
7:46 - Terence? Maybe? Aw heck, I'll be happy whoever wins.
7:44 - Whoa. No, Hilary didn't deserve to win last year. But wow, she looks really good right now. Best Actor now? Yippee!
7:42 - And Crash gets its first Oscar. Fairly well deserved, I think. Plus, a shot on Terence Howard.
7:39 - Wow, that was really a great speech -- a great one-line comment on Foreign Film. (Plus, he one-uppsed both Colleen Atwood and Gustavo Santaolalla by thanking an entire continent.)
7:38 - The Palestenian Territories -- not Palestine, not the Palestine Authority. Are you all happy with this?
7:37 - Ooh, controversy time! Let's see what happens to Paradise Now. Where is it from?
7:34 - In Canada, we now get the ad for possible 2007 nominee The Da Vinci Code.
7:33 - I actually think it was Shelley Winters, with a runner-up from Pat Norita.
7:31 - Uh-oh. The memorium applause montage. Who wil win?
7:26 - Agreed with Stewart: that is how you accept an Oscar. I'm telling you, Terrence Howard has got it in the bag.
7:20 - More interpretive dance!
7:18 - Ludacris is looking stylish. And this intro is magnificent.
7:12 - Note: there is no music playing under Altman's speech. Hallelujah.
7:09 - Really, can I explain how much I really love Altman? Just watching those clips is like watching many many masterpieces all at once.
7:04 - This is amazing. Only they could do this. Meryl is a comedic genius, yes, JJ. And this is a perfect homage to Altman.
7:03 - Lily and Meryl, together.
7:02 - And now, a shout-out to New Zealand!
7:01 - Jessica Alba appears to only have a 12-inch waist. This must be the reason why she has been asked to present, because if I'm not mistaken, even Jennifer Lopez has displayed more acting talent on the big screen.
7:00 - Oh wow, Jon Stewart reads all of our collective minds.
6:59 - Oh, duh. Of course it's not a genre montage. It's a montage to the wonders of widescreen. Well, exhibition is in the house, I guess.
6:56 - Oh jeez, another genre montage? At this point, if they don't do horror, I'm going to be very unhappy.
6:51:15 - Wait, I just got thanked. He thanked all the Latinos, everywhere. ¡De nada, Gustavo! ¡Te queremos también!
6:51 - First, Japan is thanked, now Argentina.
6:49 - Aha!! The Argentine wins!!
6:47 - I predict Iglesias or Santaolalla, because they chose Salma to give the award.
6:45 - Oooh, classy way to do the Score nomination. Gotta love Itzhak Perelman. And actually, they are doing it as if the Kodak were an old-style silent movie palace! So brilliant.
6:44 - Sorry, I dozed off there. Woke up to Salma's boobs, however.
6:42 - Oh, look! The president of the Academzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
6:40 - And Jon Stewart makes a great crack at the montage sequence. I love it.
6:36 - No no no, the political film is not a genre of choice. Sam should be introducing horror! Or exploitation! Snakes on a Plane!
6:34 - Why did they play the Wallace and Gromit music for the section on Harry Potter? Could the Oscars not get the rights to the music?
6:32 - Oh, look: a Speed reunion! Complete with music! For Art Direction?? OK, they lost me on the relevance of presenters to awards thing that they started with. A shout out to Brad Isbister, who I went to see this movie with in North Carolina years ago at a sneak preview.
6:29 - So here's the problem with playing the Best Picture nominee clips right before a commercial: I hear Philip Seymour Hoffman's voice and think they're doing Capote... except he's talking about killing his wife. And then I realize that they've cut to a commercial for MI3. Which is not quite Best Picture material.
6:27 - I was just saying to myself, "Why didn't they simulate the movie for Transmerica?" And suddenly, I remember that Dolly was wearing a pantsuit. Was there a bulge? Hmm.
6:26 - Except I see that they're actually trying to simulate this! Or, maybe it's interpretive dance? Call Debbie Allen!
6:25 - There's a burning car in the background, which is where I remember the montage sequence begins in the film. It would be great if the stage can turn around to simulate this.
6:22 - I was actually really hoping that the Penguins would not win this one. It's not the best of the year. But then, they thanked the children of the world. And, even better, they almost just ran over Jennifer Lopez.
6:21 - Look, it's the Prius on Charlize's shoulder!
6:19 - At this point, I would like to point out that I am predicting a major upset and that Terence Howard will actually win the Best Actor race.
6:16 - That Best Actress smear campaign stunt was hysterical. I am literally crying right now.
6:13 - First, a western montage; now, noir. If we cover the musical, the melodrama and horror, I'll never have to teach a genre course again!
6:12 - Except they must be using a very small font for the teleprompter, because she's stumbling just like Morgan Freeman did. This is not good. Making Bacall look bad is not a pleasant thing.
6:11 - Lauren Bacall: now there is a movie star.
6:09 - The lead-off commercial on CTV here is for A&W fast food, where a young couple bring their parents to A&W to buy them a "Grandpaburger" to let them know that they're having a baby. I feel like yacking. This channel is also advertising both American Idol and The Amazing Race.
6:08 - Great choice for the Good Night, and good Luck clip.
6:06 - Ah, good for Weisz. She looks wonderfully simple. Pregnancy suits her well. Although I would love to have seen Frances McDormand's ensemble, just because it looked casually fab.
6:04 - Catherine Keener is so wonderful. And lovely. Mmm.
6:03:30 - See, if he had worn a tie, he wouldn't have flubbed.
6:03 - What is up with Morgan Freeman's open collar? I love Morgan, but still.
6:00 - One hour down! Time for the sci-tech awards. And wow, what a horrible dress Rachel McAdams is wearing.
5:59 - The costumer who got cut off is going to bitch-slap the guy who took up all her time.
5:57 - The ceremony is actually doing a great (and entertaining) job of pointing out what these awards are actually for. Plus, those eyelashes are a riot.
5:56 - In the comments, cardhead says that he's not going to wear pants to class tomorrow in solidarity with the ducks. I think this is a good idea.
5:53 - This is an odd montage, probably unnecessary. Of interest to me: the scene that was considered shocking and immoral and earned an R-rating in 1969 in Bonnie and Clyde plays on network TV with no problem now.
5:51 - Colleen Atwood gave a shout-out to the entire country of Japan. Shouldn't that have been a grand arigato?
5:50 - Geisha gets the first technical win for costume. Of course, because it's beautiful. Oddly enough, having just seen Walk the Line on the plane, I wonder if that wasn't the deserved win there.
5:47 - Hey, a professor won! Maybe there's hope....?
5:45 - And then we offer Chicken Little? The non-nominee? (Although the presence of Joan Cusack talking about pants is always welcome in my book.)
5:43 - Actually, the Owen brothers offer a great reason why they are the ones selected to do the short film category. (Plus for my shorts class this summer!)
5:39 - Whoa. This is how they will introduce the clips from the Oscar-nominated films? Hmm, on the one hand, a time-saving device. On the other hand, definitely doesn't give the films the platform they theoretically deserve from being nominated in the first place. Comments?
5:37 - Back to Dolly: she has the audience clapping along, which is pretty good given that she has no band. (Somehow, it seems empty without a band.)
5:36 - While Dolly is singing, this is as good a time as any to mention that I did not get that beer, after all. I decided to get a gift from a store that would close before 6. This means that, alas, I will not be grading drunk after the ceremony after all.
5:35 - I'm actually thrilled that Dolly is not wearing the pink thing she was wearing on the red carpet. But I think this therefore means that that she's this year's Beyoncé. Isn't she remarkably well-preserved?
5:32 - These ties that Nick Park and his partner are wearing are going to be the new fashion rage. I want one. No, I do! Bringing them for the Oscars is brilliant.
5:30 - Stewart is making great penis jokes tonight. No, really.
5:29 - The big monkey wins!
5:26 - If anyone really deserves to be in a green suit, it's Ben Stiller. I'm cracking up.
5:23 - Speaking of JJ, he seems to be live-blogging as well. I'll have to keep up with him. (Hey, JJ! What up, yo?)
5:20 - I'm enjoying the Clooney speech. (But what is that music in the background?) Political, but classy, not crass. Nice. (FYI: In the Oscar pool, I am now 0 for 1, because I stupidly listened to JJ. Thanks. I should know better.)
5:19 - George wins! And that was a classic opening line.
5:16 - But that intro is too long.
5:15 - My first look at the set. Very nice! I like the retro look. And my, does Nicole look absolutely luminous.
5:13 - OH NO. The gay western montage! They just stole my entire reason for showing Red River this semester! That was utterly brilliant.
5:12 - Ooh! First Jack Nicholson sighting! Where are my sunglasses?
5:11 - Charlize Theron seems to have a Toyota Prius on her shoulder.
5:10 - Bjork and Cheney, together forever. Fabulous.
5:09 - Ah, the Jewish trilogy! Loved it.
5:08 - Jon Stewart just talked about women not being able to afford enough gown to cover the breasts. And why don't they cut to Felicity?
5:07 - DARN IT! I missed the opening. I'm so upset. But I'm on now.
4:29 - Sandra Bullock says she's not doing romantic comedies anymore. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon arrive. Coincidence?
4:27 - Was about to go get some beer... and then I saw Felicity Huffman. In that dress. WOW. Is that really a desperate housewife? Hoo-hah.
3:52 - I just realized that the Oscars aren't on for another hour. I'm taking a break.
3:41 - I think Ryan Seacrest made a disparaging remark about Heath Ledger wanting to be a stay-at-home-dad for a while.
3:38 - George Clooney says that he hates Ang Lee. I now find him evil and wonder if Mizrahi just cut him off or whether he was asked to do that, haha.
3:34PM: I turn on the TV and finally find the Oscar coverage on CityTV. And Isaac Mizrahi is interviewing Dolly Parton. Who is, shall we say, a little on the gigantic side. The irony here is that they then cut to Keira Knightley, who could use some.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Oscar Live-Blogging in just one day!

As requested by Señor Pájaro, I shall be live-blogging the Oscars on this site, sitting in my hotel room (rather spacious for just me!) in lovely Vancouver, Canada, where I am staying for the Society for Cinema Studies conference. I present in about four hours, so I'll say no more for now. But tune it tomorrow night!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My little boy

I swear, he's getting bigger all the time. And he looks so cool in black-and-white! He is also becoming a daredevil, now that he can stand up against any object. He crawled away from me while I was packing for my conference trip to Vancouver this morning and, after not finding him in his room or the living room, I cam back around the corner to see two little legs trying very hard to catapult a little body over and into the bathtub.

We are in for some trouble now, let me tell you.

(Thanks to Lara for taking this and other pics while babysitting on campus one day!) Posted by Picasa