Sunday, May 28, 2006

A mi prima Mónica: Llámame

These people are some more of my relatives in Perú -- specifically (from right to left) my cousins Cynthia and Mónica and Mónica's daughter Luciana. Mónica and Cynthia and I make up the last three cousins in our generation and I think we are the closest, despite the fact that I grew up in the US for the most part. Mónica and I were particularly amused when she got pregnant right around the time that Angela did, meaning that our kids were likely to have eerily similar birthdays. As misfortune would have it, a sudden onset of preeclampsia rushed Mónica into the hospital and Luciana was born a little early. This naturally means that Luciana can firmly lord it over Xan as to how much older she really is than he is and why he should do everything she tells him.

The title of this posting is asking my cousin to call me because it dawns on me that I haven't heard about her in a while and I would like to keep abreast of what is going on down south. I could of course do that over e-mail or by calling her myself, but that would defeat the second purpose in her talking to me.

You see, I don't think that the federal government is sufficiently aware of Xan and Luciana and I think they need to know more about them.

If I understand this correctly, the NSA is only monitoring phone numbers that receive calls from (not necessarily those that make them to) a sufficiently suspicious foreign country. Well, Peru has been a breeding ground for terrorism since at least the early 1980s, so my guess is that if my cousin starts calling us, then our phone will suddenly start being monitored. (I suppose this will be particularly true if she calls our land line, because we have moved to using our cell phones as primary means of anyone else reaching us.) Once that happens, some lackey in the NSA will then eventually have to transcribe our discussions on walking, diapers, cute baby outfits, sleeping patterns and the latest words spoken to see if we are perhaps talking in code. At which point the US government would be properly informed about my wonderful, amazing child (and his equally splendiferous cousin Luciana).

So Mónica, call me. The National Security Agency needs to know about our children.

Friday, May 26, 2006

La tía Karla

And so my brother Quique's wife Karla becomes the first of the family in Peru to experience the Xan Man. As you can see, they got along just fine -- perhaps because she helped feed him a bit while the three of us went to the (slightly damp) Staff Appreciation picnic yesterday. Karla and I then spent part of the afternoon at the memorials, plus I took her quickly to the ground sculpture called The Awakening at Hains Point. (Thanks, "greg," for the info!) All this before quickly running back to work before class. A frantic day, but fun -- and now Karla can return home and attest to the fact that Xan looks exactly like he does in the pictures. Posted by Picasa


Our daycare provider, who is about to head off to Italy to visit her sister, apparently has encouraged my son's minor addiction fascination with balls by teaching him the above word.

Granted, we were already planning to watch the World Cup on Univision this year anyway, but now I'm wondering if she secretly has brainwashed my child into like the Ecuadorian team. (I'm still pulling for Spain to take it all.)

Anyway, since Xan appears to be happily indoctrinated into World Cup fever -- just like his dad -- you may note a new countdown indicating JUST HOW CLOSE THIS EVENT IS!!!! (le pant... le heave...)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My day as a pogo stick

The down part: As I mentioned in the comments of an earlier posting, it turns out that my sickness was not just a cold but rather strep throat. My doctor already had me on antibiotics, but added two more days worth. The nurse who called also said that Angela needed to get a throat culture. I mentioned that my doctor was also her primary care person, so she said, great, it should take no longer than 5 minutes or so.

Ha. Should have known better.

The day started going south when I went to pick up my prescription and it wasn't there. In theory, it had been called in two days prior. The pharmacist called my doctor's office and we waited. They put her on hold forever. I heard her spell my name four times. Finally, she put me on the phone with the receptionist, who said, "Are you sure you got a prescription from us, Mr. Middleton?" Then I spelled the name. Then I hear someone in the background say, "Oh, wait -- yes, I remember him." I mention that I'm bringing my wife into the office anyway. What should have taken about 4 minutes at the pharmacist has taken about a half hour.

We drive to the doctor's office. I should say this about my doctor: I chose him because he was close and he was on my insurance plan; quite frankly, I just picked him out of a list. He's OK, but nothing special -- and indeed, when he prescribed the generic Robotussin w/codeine for my cough, I thought that unusual since I told him that I was only coughing when it was productive. His office staff, however, I've always found a little off.

Today was outrageous. The receptionist was, in my opinion, a word that should not be used on a family blog. Rude, self-important and very unhelpful. It turns out that Angela needs to be seen by the doctor, not just have the throat culture. By this point, I'm seeing various shades of red and I demand to see the head nurse. Instead of calming me down (which would have been fairly easy -- I've been in situations where I have to calm unreasonable people down), she makes it her business to show how she's right.

By the time Angela walked out after waiting for a good while without still having been seen, we had both already decided that we need a new primary care physician. And this time, we're doing what we did when we had to look for a pediatrician: ask for advice first.

How the day got better: For my shorts class, I was looking for serials. It turns out that Georgetown has a fairly extensive collection on VHS; when I went to our library on Monday to try to get a copy to screen, however, I found that it would not arrive in time for today's screening. My only hope was to try to find something at a local video store. I had already called my local store in Takoma Park which, oddly, had nothing.

Fortunately, I happen upon Potomac Video on Connecticut Avenue and quickly perused their shelves, whereupon I find an old copy of King of the Rocket Men. Upon viewing the whole series (mostly in fast forward due to time constraints) to find the right episode to screen, I discover that not only is this hysterically bad (and therefore perfect for class) but also features in the lead roles a group of... PHYSICS PROFESSORS! These professors, by the way, do very little actual phsyics-ing and a lot of punching and gun-shooting and flying with a ridiculous atomic flying suit. Believe it or not, this is actually useful for a minor research topic I've been floating around (thanks to Dr. Dr. Kaiser, a.k.a. he who now has a doctorate for each one of his adorable twin babies). Plus, this made me giggle tremendously while watching it. Completely unexpected, the serial tickled me greatly -- and it went over really well in class, too! Hooray!

(Preview for tomorrow: My sister-in-law is in town! Let's see what happens as she becomes the first family member from Peru to meet the little boy...)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Back from the saddle again

I apologize for not posting in ages. In an attempt to actually get some work done before the summer semester starts, I decided that I couldn't rightly blog and not do my own work. (Plus, I got sick, a form of mini-pneumonia. Mmm, fun.) Of course, the semester begins again tomorrow, so it's a perfect time to begin again.

Among other things, the new semester brings a new class blog which should see considerably more action than the last class blog. This is because the large majority of tehir assignments will be blog entries. It should be fun and interesting -- and hey, also contribute to the sincere dearth of information out there on short films (one of the reasons I'm teaching the course).

The other small reason for the lack of Xan updates: he's walking like a champ now and has indeed acquired his first pair of shoes! We'll have to take a picture of the be-sandaled feet sometime in the near future.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Definition #2: Cooked adequately

As in "stick a fork in me." Because as of this morning, I am DONE.

(Now if only summer semester didn't start in a little over a week...)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

In the setting sun

I just love this picture, and I am so proud that somehow I got this as the sun was setting. Taken a couple weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting up at Fort Meade. (Linda, heading homeward to Massachusetts from Virginia this morning, got stuck in traffic, said "the hell with this," and got off the Beltway to be Gammy for one more day -- and in the process, I got the Xan pictures off her camera.)

Xan Daily Walk-o-Meter (in # of consecutive steps without falling): 16 Posted by Picasa

Name This Tiger!

Xan has become a large fan of certain stuffed animals, particularly a small green dinosaur and a small panda. He has also developed something of an attachment to the little guy seen here, who is actually as big as he is and can sit up by himself.

He needs a name.

There is an obvious choice, but that one doesn't quite go with "Alexander" (or "Xan") so well. Plus, we should not be so derivative. Right now, he's going by "Tigeroo" because our colleague Mandy's girlfriend, who is Australian, says everything gets "-oo" as a suffix, kind of like "-ito" in Spanish. Can anyone come up with a better name for this tiger? Maybe something cinematic? We are very much open to suggestion. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Miguel Inclán

Tonight, Angela lured me away from grading for a moment with a really interesting PBS documentary on John Ford and John Wayne. I learned, among other things, that Ford really didn't know that Wayne could act until the director saw him in Red River, directed by Ford's rival, Howard Hawks. I'm inspired now to watch some of their movies that I either should have seen and haven't, or haven't had the desire to see but now want to (in particular, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Searchers and an odd depressing wartime piece called They Were Expendable).

The doc also highlighted Fort Apache where -- in a major twist of irony -- Henry Fonda plays the stubbornly conservative lieutenant while Wayne plays the more open-minded captain. The clip that they showed corresponding to this film showed Fonda sitting in front of Apache chief Cochise, who tries to settle with the American soldiers before Fonda rudely dismisses him. (Apparently, the Americans then try to go after the Apaches... and the Apaches slaughter them. Oops.)

I thought it was a little unusual that in this clip an Apache was speaking in Spanish; about halfway through, however, that disturbing thought was displaced with the realization that I recognized the voice. Sure enough, IMDB indicates that Cochise is played by famed Mexican character actor Miguel Inclán. I had forgotten that Inclán did two films with Ford -- the other one is The Fugitive -- shortly following the high period where it seems that he is in every major representative film from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. Ask any of my students from my Cinemas of Latin America classes over the years and they'll sing the praises of Inclán in María Candelaria, Doña Bárbara, Salón México and Buñuel's masterpiece Los olvidados, where he plays the twisted, blind beggar who curses the youth that populate the film. He is not even remotely attractive, but his presence in each of these films is memorable.

Here is what I find funny: I can hit the "next blog" button and undoubtedly find a generic Britney or Jessica photo -- but when I googled "Inclan," there indeed are no photos available of him on the Internet. This is a crime: the man rightfully deserves at least a tribute webpage. If I didn't have more grading to do, heck, I'd do it myself.

Passing out is the just one of my desires

I type this as I am about to finally leave my office. I have been awake since 6AM. There have been three final exams today, culminating in my graduate presentations which lasted past midnight. I don't know whether to throw up or just collapse in a convulsing heap, conveniently forgetting that I have bones.

It is something to think that this will all be over very, very soon.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Staying up late

Oddly enough, this posting is not about my having to stay up late tonight, as I (a) finish crafting my final exam which I will give tomorrow morning, and (b) finish grading the few straggling assignments I have avoided doing for my graduate class before their final presentations, also tomorrow. Tomorrow shall be one heck of a day, by the way, as my third class also has a final tomorrow. Oy.

No, the person staying up late tonight is obviously my son who, as it turns out, had a very hard day and decided he needed to finish it up by quietly watching 24 with us. (The day's events included going to the doctor and getting three shots, but apparently did not involve any naps at daycare today at all, leaving us with one very grumpy little boy.) Xan has some fantastic theories about why Miles is a scuzzball and why Audrey's shirt is becoming strangely red (is it the blood? or has she been afflicted with Trekkian wardrobe issues, perhaps?) but since we can't yet speak Xan and the only intelligible things he can communicate right now involve the ball, the cat, the ceiling fan and milk, I can't scoop you about how he thinks the season will end. Unless stopping the evil ministrations of President Logan actually involves President Logan thwarting Jack Bauer by having a cat bounce a ball off a ceiling fan into a bottle of milk; in that case, well, you heard it hear first. ("Chloe, can you use the sattelite to send the ETA of the ball hitting the milk to my PDA?" "There's no time, Jack!! Get out of there!!" "Meeeeoooow!")

Friday, May 05, 2006

A psychological profile

I couldn’t resist trying this, nabbed off of The Film Experience. In theory, the directions are as follows:
  • Turn on iPod.
  • Shuffle.
  • Hit play.
  • The songs that then appear -- in order -- answer the following questions.
Being technically unadvanced (read: cheap) as I am, the problem here is that I do not own an iPod. Luckily, one can do something similar simply by taking everything I have on WindowsPlayer, making a gigantic playlist of it and hitting shuffle. Voila. Here's what came up for me, which is decidedly funny:

1. How does the world see you?
El mayoral by Susana Baca. This translates to "Slave Driver." Perhaps my students (along with my T.A.) might agree. Not sure about my wife though.

2. Will I have a happy life?
Let Love Speak Up Itself by The Beautiful South. This means that life is happy and full of love? I can definitely take that!

3. What do my friends think of me?
Marlene on the Wall by Suzanne Vega. What a shocker that a Suzanne Vega song made it on here. So my friends think I'm a wallflower? Perhaps people from high school.

4. Do people secretly lust after me?
Julianna by Patrick Brickell. Well, none of you know this tune at all, though it's worth checking out since Pat is someone I knew in high school in New York and is now a very cool folk singer. As for someone named "Julianna" secretly lusting after me, the only person I know with a name close to that would be the roommate formerly known as Julie Donahue -- and I think we covered long ago that there is noooo secret lusting after me, especially since she only laughed when I ran across the bedroom naked.

5. How can I make myself happy?
Cubik by 808 State. Mindless, wordless techno in an extended version, no less. Actually, this makes sense.

6. What should I do with my life?
Supermarket from the soundtrack to Run Lola Run. At least I know where to go if (God forbid) tenure doesn't come through.

7. Will I ever have children?
Beautiful by Manderlay. Yes, he is.

8. What is some good advice for me?
One Day I'll Fly Away by Nicole Kidman, from the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge! Wait, I should leave? I don't want to leave! This is not good advice.

9. How will I be remembered?
The Drinking Song by Moxy Fruvous. And the band played on/As the helicopters whirred/Drunk on the lawn in a nuclear dawn/My senses finally blurred. Sounds like there won't be no one left to remember me.

10. What's my signature dance song?
Sing by the Carpenters. Isn't this from when they were on the Muppet Show? I kinda do dance like a Muppet.

11. What's my current theme song?
Yahoo! by Erasure. Given that it's the end of the semester, couldn't be more appropriate.

12. What do others think my current theme song is?
Rodeo by Aaron Copland. Oddly enough, very similar. Except classical instead of 80s New Wave.

13. What shall they play at my funeral?
Better? by Propellerheads. No lyrics again, but funky and lilting. I can see people jamming to that at my wake.

14. What type of men do I like?
MMM Skyscraper I Love You by Underworld. I kid you not that this is what came up. It appears that I am not just a metrosexual -- I am a metropolisexual.

15. How's my love life?
Jump in the Line by Harry Belafonte from the soundtrack to Beetlejuice. Whee! Conga in the bedroom!!!

OK, who else would benefit from this? Let me tag some other fun folks with blogs: how about Cathy at Where's My Cape?, Becks, Cardo, Kristy, Jenny (because her list will be amusing) and (because she's the one likely to have as much techno on her list as I do) Kata? Your turn!

Now hear this...

The fact that this seems to have actually been printed in my undergraduate institution's daily newspaper makes it even funnier. Any old Dart-folk want to confirm this? (Alas, I never did anything like this in what we used to call "the New Dorms." Besides, I was quiet then.)

(Thanks, frood, for posting it.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My 'shmen Oge will appreciate this

Sorry I haven't written anything for a while but, well, it's finals time, which means I'm trying to slog through my nightmarish amount of work to grade before the end of the semester. That, and there are a lot of fun things going on. We have been doing some neat things and so I have some correspondingly cool photos to share over the next few days.

Like this one, taken on the last day of classes last Friday. Naturally, what would the end of semester be without a trip to Guapo's for margaritas with the Writing Faculty? And what would drinking margaritas be like without a baby to share them with? As you can see, baby Xan is well on his way to the finer appreication of cheap tequila, just like Mom and Dad. (Uncle Chuck, by the way, is the one fostering foisting alcohol on my son.)

Why bring Oge into this? No, my darling former freshman when I was an Undergraduate Advisor at Dartmouth -- the sweet boy who was not only an offensive linebacker tackle (I think?...), but also upon occasion would demonstrate wrestling moves (along with the "turkey trot") on his poor defenseless UGA, much to the laughter of his fellow dorm-mates -- would never think that plying alcohol to a minor would be a good thing. Nope, never. The fact that I caught the entire freshman contingency from my hallway in his room on day #3 of classes must have been a complete anomaly. (So, I suppose, was my agreement that, at only the age of 20 myself, I wouldn't tell anyone if they gave me a beer as well.)

No, Oge would be happy because the gift he sent ages ago finally fits my son. Yes, now that's it's summertime, my son can act as a walking billboard with his onesie emblazoned with the logo from EA Sports, where Oge is employed. (You can't see it here, but trust me, it's there.) Among other things, such a sign on my son may up my street cred with my students since then they might think that I actually have time to play videogames as well as grade their papers and keep up with the latest in Hollywood fare.

(Holy smokes, I just found out that Oge has a blog, too. Given his fanatic love for all things Star Wars, I'm not surprised at the blog name. Have I mentioned that at watching the original movie with him and other freshmen, he -- correctly -- identified that I was C-3PO?) Posted by Picasa