Monday, April 24, 2006

This is a public service announcement

For all you guys out there: If you are cooking with habañero peppers, please (please) wash your hands in more than a cursory manner before going to the rest room.

Trust me.

On the plus side, the Cabbage, Carrot and Apple Slaw with Habañero Vinaigrette that I made (to accompany Ginger Shrimp Fritters) was very tasty. Yum.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Good Egg Hunting

I have shamefully neglected to post some of these amazing pictures of Xan at his first Easter Egg Hunt at nearby (right around the corner) Forest Park. The event is a combination community brunch and free-for-all for candy. We were a little nervous about how this was going to go -- after all, Xan is very mobile, but still only on four feet. (On two feet, we're still a little wobbly... although today he actually stood by himself for a few moments.) As you can see, however, once we pointed him in the right direction, he had no problem whatsoever finding the eggs. And what's the best thing to do with Easter eggs? Bash them together, of course!

As the eggs were being hidden, all the kids were supposed to stay on the blacktop basketball court. Naturally, this was an amazing experience for Xan who, up until this point, has been forbidden to go there because usually people are playing basketball. Now, he (and dozens of other kids) could run all around! At some point, Xan got it into his head to (a) steal a piece of sidewalk chalk and then (b) make a mad dash for the other side of the blacktop. The amusing thing about this is that, because he didn't let go of the chalk, he ended up making a mark every time he put his hand on the ground. This meant that by the time he got to the other side, there was a chalky dotted line showing his path, kind of like the lines you see on the (evil) cartoon The Family Circus.

You may also notice he has no shoes on here, in part because it was so warm on Easter Saturday. The trip across the blacktop caused a bit of damage, which of course we didn't even notice until much later in the day: Xan had scraped up all sorts of skin on the top of his feet. Since then, he has been in at least socks constantly. This whole new "walking" thing has also caused a bit of damage: he has a lovely bruise over his right eye and a small bruise on his upper lip. Yes, if anyone was wondering, we do have a boy.

Oh, by the way, what is the best thing to stuff in Easter eggs? Roasted vegetables, of course.
Posted by Picasa

Cannes do!

Let's not even talk about the fact that there are a whole bunch of really interesting film being screened this year, not to mention one each from fantabulous Mexican directors Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu and the premiere of John Cameron Mitchell's sex-tacular new film Shortbus.

Check out the competition jury:
  • Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong director (president)
  • Monica Bellucci, Italian actress
  • Helena Bonham-Carter, English actress
  • Lucrecia Martel, Argentinean director
  • Zhang Ziyi, Chinese actress
  • Samuel L. Jackson, American actor
  • Patrice Leconte, French director
  • Tim Roth, English actor
  • Elia Suleiman, Palestinian director
This whole group is a modern-day cinephile's wet dream. The directors of Chungking Express, The Girl on the Bridge, and The Holy Girl, and the actors from Howards End, Irreversible, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Reservoir Dogs and (yeah!) Snakes on a Plane? In one room?! Can I please just sit in a corner and watch them all talk? (Yes, I am truly a geek because I want to watch them talk and not have a big cinematic orgy. OK, maybe that wouldn't be so bad either. But really, I want to watch them talk. Yep.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Hair-raising literature

Before I have to return it to the library tomorrow, I was watching a bit of The Outsiders: The Complete Novel, Francis Ford Coppola's recently re-released re-editing of the 1983 film which now includes a number of scenes that were originally in the novel, but cut out of the film. Among other things, what appears to be Rob Lowe's entire performance as Sodapop (everyone's favorite middle brother) is back in the film. The picture is neither better nor worse, in my opinion, though the new soundtrack and the added introduction make the pacing a bit more leisurely. Given the book, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

I was going to write something along the lines of "what ever happened to Michelle Meyrink?" Featured in what amounts to a cameo as Cherry Valance's friend Marcia in this film, Meyrink is better known for her manic performance in Real Genius which made all of us geeks in the 80s fall in love with her. In any case, a google search quickly answered that question. Her current life is fascinating entirely because it wouldn't play well on those VH1 specials.

As I kept watching the film, I thought to myself, "Man, they have great hair." And it's true: all the Greasers have really cool, long hair, sculpted back with tons of hair grease. Of note, they all also have dark hair, blond and red being reserved for the Socs.

In the book, much is made of Ponyboy's "tuff hair," particularly when it gets bleached at the abandoned church. My relationship with The Outsiders goes way back and actually more involves the novel than the movie, which I'm sure we didn't see when it came out because I didn't go to the movies that much back then. (My, how times have changed, heh.) I don't remember if I read the book for class or on my own -- even then, I was a regular at the Baldwin Public Library. I eventually owned a dog-earred copy of the book, purchased without its cover for a quarter on the streets of Manhattan when I went with my mom to work one day. (Years later, I discovered this was illegal, that someone was selling remaindered books. To be honest, we couldn't really afford to pay regular prices for books, so I thank my lucky stars for the Book Man who set up shop next to Gimbel's a couple blocks away from Penn Station, because I wouldn't be the reader I am today without him.) For me, The Outsiders was my Harry Potter, the book that really got me consciously into reading and I bought into all the crazily obvious and evocative symbolism of sunsets and cars and hair and what-not. The book also does high-school literary analysis with two interpretations of the Robert Frost poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay"; naturally, I immediately memorized this poem. Jenny and Ben can confirm that, not only did I quote the whole poem in my senior yearbook entry, but I also wrote a graduation speech based around the poem and implored my classmates -- just like Johnny implores Ponyboy! sob!! -- to "stay gold." Damn, was I hokey.

I was reminded of all this as I was watching this movie not just because I sheepishly adore this book and have some sort of connection to the movie, but because currently I am letting my hair grow out. Originally, this was because Xan just really enjoyed grabbing it, but the truth is I have always loved the idea of having longer hair. (Jenny and Ben and others can also confirm my high school pompadour.) I was never really allowed to have long hair, however, if not because my parents wouldn't let me, then because I would have to go through the horribly embarassing in-between phase where my wavy thick hair goes up and out instead of down. Indeed, the only way that my hair will even remotely behave is if I gel it down with copious amounts of product.

Only tonight does it dawn on me that my desire for longer, wavy hair may actually go back only as far as Ponyboy Curtis. Because really, I was a Ponyboy wannabe in a very big way: smart, passionate kid with a thing for sunsets; orphan; wrong side of the tracks; tuff hair. OK, so I fit in the first category, but you know what I mean -- and is it so wrong to also want that last decriptor as ewll? The scary thing is that if this is for real (and it might not be -- but it just might be after all), then is this the legacy of literature twenty-some-odd years later? College professor, father of one, homeowner: do I also still want to be Ponyboy, so much so I don't even know it? And if so, what will happen to all those kids growing up on Hogwarts in another 15 years?

(By the way, I am very curious to hear if there are other Ponyboy Curtis inspired stories out there. Come out of the closet, you S.E. Hinton fans!)

The photos of my googled world

This meme proved to be highly amusing.

Taken from Kristy, here are the simple rules:

Google Photo Meme -- The first image that pops up on Google Search when you enter:
(1) The town & state you grew up in

(2) The "town" where you currently reside
(3) Your first & last name

(4) Your grandfather's name
(5) Your favorite food

(6) Your favorite drink

(7) Your favorite smell

I'm waiting for Xan to wake up, so I thought I'd do this. I was not expecting some of the results:

(1) The town & state you grew up in: Baldwin, NY. This photo is perhaps not so suprising... except I have no earthy idea where this "lake" is, considering that this small Long Island town is near the beach.

(2) The "town" where you currently reside: Takoma Park, MD. Also, not too surprising.
(3) Your first & last name: Jeffrey Middents. OK, this was a bit disconcerting. I know the bride here, because we went to college together (and actually sang in the same a capella group one summer). But I didn't go to this wedding. My own picture is the second image.

(4) Your grandfather's name: My paternal grandfather's name came up with my cousin's picture -- my maternal grandfather, Maximo Romero, came up with much more peculiar results. The first, here, apparently is a professional cyclist. (No, this is not my gradfather.)

(5) Your favorite food: Rice. Boring perhaps, but I loves my starch, the hell with Atkins.

(6) Your favorite drink: Gin and tonic. If it weren't 8:30AM, this actually looks tasty.

(7) Your favorite smell: The first thing that came into my head was "jasmine," as in the flower. I really love the smell of jasmine in the cool, early summer air. Angela, I swear that this is not the Jasmine I was thinking of.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

It's not "Mxyzptlk"

A while ago, we thought that the first word was "Hi." As mentioned here, however, there have been other hand motions for "milk" (which he seems to actually use for many things to eat) and his own motion for "ceiling fan."

The Boy Who Cannot Walk Yet, however, has apparently spoken his first semi-intelligible word, we think, and given his recent trend toward round, rolly things, this is not surprising. Therefore, beating out early possible contenders such as "Mom," "Dad," "Vega," "cat," "tofu," "NPR" and "tracking shot," Xan's official first word is ball. Needless to say, we're having one. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 10, 2006

Becuase what I really need in my life are more papers written by an undergraduate

This weekend, I wondered if there was something akin to an electronic siphon. Literally, I stared at my old Mac Powerbook 1400cs (anyone remember those?), wondering if there was a way to get information just by sucking it out.

You see, I've kept the old laptop only because virtually every file I have from undergrad and grad school is on there. All my papers, any creative writing, everything. The problem: the CD-ROM drive never was able to write anything, the disk drive is pretty much broken and won't accept disks, and I can't seem to find the connection to make my zip drive work. In other words: no way to get the information out. A couple months ago, I discovered that my internet PC card still worked and that I could just dial in to AU and download the files from an ancient version of Netscape; this meant, however, that I could only do this three files at a time with a v e r y s l o w connection. I looked for other ways to do this, to no avail.

This week, I really needed to access an article I had written during graduate school which I had promised to my students. Written in 1998 mere weeks before they won the Oscar, the paper is a star study on Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, chronicling their coverage as screenwriters being an important factor to their construction as stars. Not only had I decided to share this with my class, but in the last week, a publishing possibility came to light, so I wanted to revisit it. I went to try accessing the file on Friday.

This was when I discovered that I had mistakenly taken out the PC card from the computer, and now don't know where it is.


I sat there for about an hour, looking from one computer to the other, envisioning the electronic siphon. I imagined myself sucking on a big tube stuck into the hard drive, making sure not to get any 0/1 combinations into my mouth as if it were gas.

In the end, I did what is unthinkable these days: I retyped the entire paper. Although it took the better part of a day (23 pages total, including an appendix -- and the day included many interruptions by cute baby), it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was.

In the process, I found this, which may be a solution to my problems so that I won't have to retype EVERY SINGLE FILE. Will update at another point (hopefully) on the ongoing saga.

I'd like to thank the Academy...

...because I just won an award! And I'm so proud! *sniff!*

OK, so it's not a real award. I have been declared Reader of the Day at Where's My Cape? because, well, I'm the only person to consistently post a comment. Go check this new blog out because, not only does she write well and you can see great pictures of one of Xan's little friends but -- in this same entry I get mentioned -- you will find that just because we occasionally allow our son to eat things like dirt, wood chips and dust bunnies, we may not be the worst parents out there after all.

(And, KC, don't worry. When Xan was two weeks old, I accidentally didn't put the brakes on the stroller very well and it went careening into the middle of the road -- our road, a very busy road -- with him inside it. It's been over a year later and only now can I really write about it without major guilt of the mere possibility of causing him trauma. You're OK.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Let me take this opportunity to say...

...that Phish Food? Mmmmm. Even for the lactose-intolerant, corn-syrup-avoiding boy that I am. Yummerific.

Yes, yes, I have not been posting regularly. This is because I got caught behind in my grading and am only starting to see the light again momentarily. And the worst is yet to come. After this weekend, however, I might (might!) get to breathe a little, and will comment again on matters of importance, like how the free world is starting to imitate 24, how I am considering putting my our new favorite book Llama Llama Red Pajama on one of my course reading lists for the fall, and/or how the possibility of a new couch might affect Xan's attempts at acting like Spiderman while attempting to use support in order to walk.