Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Another post on LOST

Today I read an article about the fourth season of LOST on Slate. I recommend it because it generally agrees with my take that the newest mechanism of flashes forward and back add something cool to the show, though I disagree with the author's assertion that the shows haven't been planned out, at least to some degree, from the get-go. But then, maybe my inclination to believe there is a larger plan drawn up in advance speaks directly to the very reason I like the show: maybe I like figuring out a deeper, hidden story arc, even when none exists. This hints at some uncomfortable doubts regarding religious and philosophical choices I've made, but...

I think the best evidence of the tendency toward the conspiracy theory is evidenced by my reaction to the author's name. Check out who wrote this piece:

"We Don't Know Jack: The clever narrative trick that has made this season of Lost the best one yet."

Notice her name?

By Juliet Lapidos

Anybody else out there pathetic enough to see a connection to two Lost characters; Juliet of the Others, and Lupidus, the helicopter pilot? So she spells her name differently by one letter. So she's written 83 other pieces for Slate and a host of subjects unrelated to the show LOST. Still, she could be part of a conspiracy that extends beyond the fictional world of the show and even influences the pseudonyms of the show's critics! Or maybe it's not a pseudonym. Maybe the show reached through time and affected her parents' choice of names for her!

Seriously, I think I have a problem.

One last fix of LOST before some apparently warranted detox.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Go Red Wings Beard!

Well, as some of you folks know, I've been participating in this somewhat perverse version of a fantasy league, where, instead of some kind of reward for choosing a winning hockey team in the Stanley cup playoffs, winners must continue to grow out their beards. I thought I would choose based on my birthplace, and when the guys told me the team would probably go to the finals I didn't balk, on the grounds that I needed an outside force to keep me from shaving, and this was my chance to see if I could actually grow a decent beard. Now the Detroit Red Wings have made it to the finals, so I'll be continuing for a couple more weeks, but I thought I'd finally get around to sending off some pictures. I did finally trim it this weekend. It wasn't so much looking burly as mangy. Now, after a trimming, I told Paige, "You know, it's starting to grow on me."

"No," she said flatly, "it isn't."

Noah echoed this sentiment at the Obama rally on Sunday. "Daddy, why does your face have to be pokey?"

Now, looking at these pics, I get where they're coming from.

But the Red Wings keep winning, so it will have to go at the end. Now that it won't change the shaving date whether they win or lose (see? More fantasy perversion!) I might as well root for "my" team. So, Go Red Wings!

beard 1 - Share on Ovi

beard 2 - Share on Ovi

beard 3 - Share on Ovi

beard 4 - Share on Ovi

With a hat on, it almost creates the illusion that I have hair on my head! Oh, and as one of my younger colleagues pointed out, this was a necessary way to find out that I am going gray.

Beard and Hat - Share on Ovi

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Unapologetically Pro-Obama

Today Paige and I took our son Noah to see the next president of the United States, Barack Obama, at a rally in Portland, Oregon. Here are Noah and Paige in a line that snaked its way through a dozen city blocks:

Outside the Obama Rally - Share on Ovi

It was a hot day. The weather report said it would be 82 degrees, but it felt a lot hotter. Still, 75,000 people came out, according to the local news. 75,000 people! There are only about 3.5 mil in the whole state of Oregon, and about 568,000 in Portland. Paige and I attended a Peace March in Portland back in '03 that had about 30,000 show up, and that felt huge, but the people were distributed across the city in a long march. In this case, all the folks were right down at the riverfront. Here's a shot of the crowd ahead of us, between us and the stage. We were pretty close, because we showed up two hours before they started letting people in, and four hours before Obama spoke. We lost our great spot because Noah had to go to the bathroom and we didn't want to get separated. Still, from this spot we could still see him clearly and hear him very well through the nearby loudspeakers. Here's the crowd:

Crowd at Obama Rally - Share on Ovi

Before Obama came out, we got to hear the Decemberists, a band I really like. They only played five or six songs, but they sounded great and had us all singing by the end. I was particularly pleased because they played a bunch of my favorites, beginning with "Crane Wife 3" and ending with "Sons and Daughters". Paige was impressed that they sounded so much like their studio stuff (in a good way). Noah just enjoyed sitting on Daddy's shoulders and dancing. At the end of "Sons and Daughters" thousands of us sang, "Here all the bombs/ They fade away." That was a neat moment in itself.

Then Barack came out, and the crowd went crazy. It was hard to get a shot through the signs.

Fired Up At Obama Rally - Share on Ovi

I caught this one in a moment when people were simply rapt:

Rapt At Obama Rally - Share on Ovi

The speech was moving. Near the end, I found myself almost in tears. In an email to a friend, I dismissed this as heat-induced delirium, but that was just machismo. When Barack spoke about all the benefits his family had received from the government, from his grandfather's G.I.Bill which bought their home, to the loans his mother received to go to college, to the food stamps which fed them when his single mom had trouble making ends meet, he essentially created a list of the kinds of big-government programs conservatives hate. But, he explained, despite the fact that we are a fiercely independent people as Americans, when we are at our best we lift one another up. I can't find a transcript of the speech online yet, and I'm sure it won't read as well as it sounded. There were no earth-shattering new ideas, though he didn't shy away from some specific policy issues. More than anything, I was struck by just how unabashedly liberal he is. He believes government can actually be a vehicle by which we help one another, if we have the passion to get involved and the compassion to care enough to make the government work for us instead of against us. For so much of my life the conservatives have pounded their plutocratic ideas about "welfare queens" into our heads, and moderate Democrats have tried to run as shadow Republicans, it was so refreshing to see a candidate who actually talks about government assistance without ridiculing poor, disempowered people for our lack of personal responsibility. Also, it's exhilarating to see someone who can talk about service to this country and not limit that to only military service. Finally, it's wonderful to have an option on the ballot who openly talks about avoiding quick fixes, and who is willing to spend political capital looking for long-term solutions. I don't know if he can deliver long-term solutions, but I do think he already has a huge head start on all the other politicians who aim only for the easiest pander and the most cosmetic policy changes. I'm sold. Fired up and ready to go. And dreading another crushing disappointment if this country fails another national IQ test yet again. But couldn't we start making good choices as a nation? Could we stop hating our own poor and treating the rest of the world like smaller children on a playground? Couldn't we make our country, if not the kind of place our kids deserve, at least a little better than the hellish Ann Rand theo-fascist dystopia ultra-conservatives fantasize about? Can't we believe in the possible, instead of settling? Please say, "Yes We Can!" Please?

Obama In Portland - Share on Ovi

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Free Rice

While I'm promoting free online quizzes, please check out . On this site, you answer multiple choice questions about the definitions of words. If you're a word lover (or "logophile") like me, this is just fun, but here's the really cool part: For every word you identify correctly, someone in the third world gets twenty grains of rice. I racked up 3800 with the help of my Creative Writing class today. (We had some down-time between units and someone recommended the site.) It's addictive, educational, and philanthropic. Who could imagine anything better?

Again, feel free to brag about your best scores in the comments section here.

McCain Vs. Bush: The Fun Quiz Every American Should Take

Everyone in this country (well, those who are voting age, at least) should take this quiz! Not only is it fun, but I learned some valuable information. Feel free to post your score in the comments section here when you're done.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Tom Hanks Endorses Obama

Besides the content of the video, I enjoy the way Hanks plays with the notion that celebrity endorsements are meaningless. He claims they are, sarcastically teases that his words have convinced everyone, and then proceeds to lay out a thoughtful explanation for his endorsement which may actually persuade people. Lastly, he makes a reference to his career as an actor which seems to imply that his portrayal of historical figures and his research into history both give him some authority on the subject of our next choice of president. This may actually be true, but it flies in the face of his earlier assertions that his endorsement doesn't matter. Well done, Mr. Hanks. Kudos for your rhetorical skills, as well as your excellent taste in political leaders.

Beware: Celebrity Endorsement