Tuesday, January 31, 2006

If Only I Had The Chance....

Here's a question to tax your creative powers...

Pretend in your mind that you opened the front door one day and on the front stoop was a strange, alien-looking device. Attached to the device was a note that said you could use it to create a hole in the space-time continuum and let you slip out of your life for 1 year, do something, and then slip right back at the moment you left without anyone knowing you'd ever been anywhere.

If you suddenly had 1 year free to do anything you like, without regard for current financial, parental, legal, marital or professional obligations, what would you do?

Keep in mind I'm not advocating you do anything that would compromise your personal ethics or morals - for instance, I wouldn't choose something that would make me go off with another woman for that year. I'm still married, and wouldn't break those vows, but pretend you were just on your own for a year with no pre-existing worries or responsibilities. What would you do that maybe you've always wanted to do, but never had the time, money, courage, perseverance, opportunity, etc.?

Here's mine: If I had a year off, I'd go down to St. Thomas or St Maartin in the Caribbean, rent or buy a boat, and live the Jimmy Buffett beach bum life for a year. Relax in the sun, sail the harbors, get to the know the native people of the islands, read, swim, snorkel, explore, take charters out to watch the dolphins...

Now, in reality I'd love my wife to come with me on this adventure, but, hey, sorry dear, get your own dream ;)

I've got Coastal Confessions - How About You?

Monday, January 30, 2006

This Just In...

Vegener Hansen, 59, who has cerebral palsy, is fighting to force the Danish state to subsidise visits to his home by prostitutes in the same way they would pay for a meals-on-wheels service.

Prostitution is legal in Denmark, so Vegener Hansen argues his local authority unfairly made a moral judgment when it rejected his application for financial support to bring prostitutes to his flat. If a social appeal board finds in his favour later this month, all Danish councils will have to obey the ruling.
There is no word yet on the name for this service, although such monikers as "On Call Girls" and "Whoreminos" are being considered.

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.


What would you suggest?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Seventy-Eight - Friday, January 27, 2006

Appetizer - Choose one: Popcorn, Pizza, Pretzels, Peanuts, or Pasta.

Popcorn. With butter and seasoning salt or white cheddar.


Soup - Describe your personality in terms of a particular vehicle.

Ford Mustang - the newer models, not the classic. I don't know why, I just love that car and I think it would suit me.


Salad - If you won a shopping spree, from which store would you want it to be?

Best Buy, because they seem to have all the electronic equipment I might want under one roof.


Main Course - Which television show re-runs do you enjoy watching?

Some of these meme questions get repetitive. I love watching "M*A*S*H" on the Hallmark Channel at night, right after "Whose Line is it Anyway?" on ABC Family.


Dessert - If you could look into the future, how far down the road would you like to see? 10 years? 100 years? A million

I'd like to see if humanity is able to survive the next 100 years relatively intact, so I'll know to stop worrying about what kind of world I've selfishly brought my kids into... I think if we make it to 2100 (ok, 2106) we'll make it as far as we like.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

And I Wonder Sometimes...

...why I don't get more heavily involved in politics (at least in following it more closely).

Because you start associating with folks like this:
"It's when opposing viewpoint crosses the line into disingenuous rhetoric or immature, rude behavior that things deteriorate. When that happens, the best thing to do is to disengage and simply ignore it. Or don't even start with them in the first place if it's clear that you simply disagree and nobody's going to change their mind. Instead, create a blog post with your opposing viewpoint and let the "marketplace of ideas" sort it out, similar to a point-counterpoint op-ed you might see in the newspaper. (Immature, off-topic, inflammatory, nonsensical one-liners that are obviously trolls or flame bait should simply be ignored.)"
The new Knoxviews multi-blogger blog apparently has already attracted the wrong element. By the wrong element I mean those whose sole purpose in participating is to stir up trouble. And you don't typically get that when you're writing about Disney or kids or theatre - you know, interesting stuff.

When you get talking about politics the trolls come out from under the bridges and decide to start throwing rocks at all the little Billy Goats Gruff trip-trapping over their heads.

It happens in sports commentating as well - certain people can't help themselves but to boost their own egos and agendas at the expense of other people's feelings. Apparently it's a common occurance at another local polichat board, KnoxBlab, and I recall it happening with less frequency at k2k (another local politics/public affairs bulletin board).

Political discussion is a subject that, by definition these days, no longer allows much room for real debate. Those participating typically have too much pride to admit they're wrong, or even willing to seriously consider other viewpoints.

Michael Williams has more on Making Up Your Mind - a discussion on why political partisans should or should not have open minds.

If you don't have an open mind, you can't discuss issues. Discussion requires give and take - otherwise it's just a lecture. And anyone who recalls college understands that nobody wants to be lectured to.

In our world today, politics has morphed into a huge beast that stifles a lot of real progress that could be made. Hopefully someday people will realizes that ideas matter more than partisanship and drop the me/you - us/them - my team/your team competitition that drives what should be cooperation. We'll see, but I'm not holding my breath.

PS - This isn't a dig at R. Neal (aka South Knox Bubba) who runs Knoxviews.com - just the trolls that are trying to ruin what is a nice idea. So far, SKB has kept his nose clean and not made me want to throw a chair at the screen.

So far... ;)

The Toys Are Back In Town

Toy Story III, off the shelf?
"Reports from Burbank are that John Lasseter and Ed Catmull are cleaning house. First order of business, take those old toys off the shelf and put them in a box somewhere. News was spread through Walt Disney Feature Animation and the, once secret, Circle 7 unit that Toy Story III production has been stopped."

Toy Story 3 cancelled?
"At the Animated-News Forum, 'ShyVoilet' points to a new post at Animation Nation, where word comes that John Lasseter and Ed Catmill announced to Walt Disney Feature Animation employees today that production on Toy Story 3 has ended. "They said that sequels should only be made if there is a really great story that demands it, and should be the domain of those who created the original film. In other words, if Pixar wants to make a sequel to its films, it will. If Disney Feature wants to make a sequel to its film, it will. But the two will not cross," writes the post's author, 'Corn Fed'. Fortunately, Lasseter and Catmill are still interested in the artists of Disney's Circle 7 Animation and will try to find ways to use their talents."

Lasseter and Catmill announce "Toy Story 3" will stop





Well, from what I'm able to tell from these stories is that the Disney version of "Toy Story 3" that was in production will stop, and eventually a Pixar version of "Toy Story 3" will gear up. Which is great news. I think.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pixar's John Lasseter to head Disney Imagineers

From MiceAge:
"Pixar President Ed Catmull will serve as President of the new Pixar and Disney animation studios, reporting to Iger and Dick Cook, Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios. In addition, Pixar Executive Vice President John Lasseter will be Chief Creative Officer of the animation studios, as well as Principal Creative Advisor at Walt Disney Imagineering, where he will provide his expertise in the design of new attractions for Disney theme parks around the world, reporting directly to Iger. Pixar Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs will be appointed to Disney's Board of Directors as a non-independent member. With the addition of Jobs, 11 of Disney's 14 directors will be independent. Both Disney and Pixar animation units will retain their current operations and locations."
John Lassater is the real creative genius behind most of what Pixar has brought to the screen in the last 10 years (having been either a writer, director, executive producer or several combinations thereof for Toy Story, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, and the upcoming Cars).

Installing Lassater as head advisor of the Imagineering department promises great things for Disney Parks in the future. Hopefully this move won't detract from his involvement in the animation department, which is still more important to Disney overall...

Hey, I wonder what this merger now means for the development of Toy Story 3? It was greenlighted (greenlit?) back when Pixar and Disney had split, due to irreconcilable differences between ex-Disney czar Michael Eisner and Pixar prez Steve Jobs. Now that Disney is buying Pixar...hmm. Supposedly the Pixar gang had worked up a great plot for the movie, tying up the storyline - I'm not in love with the Disney version listed on the linked page... I hope they reconsider and make this movie the way it should be made.

Update: More about John Lasseter:
Lasseter's fans say he is Disney's best hope to rekindle an animation group that dominated film animation from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" through "The Lion King." He is exceptionally popular with animators, who see him as one of their own and are drawn to his wide-eyed enthusiasm.

"John is an artist; he understands their passions, their psyches, their insecurities — the whole package," said Chris Buck, the director of "Tarzan," who worked with Lasseter at Disney in the early 1980s.

The 49-year-old executive wears Hawaiian shirts on the job, stuffs his office full of windup toys and shuns limousines for an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile at the Academy Awards. Pixar's Emeryville, Calif., headquarters reflect that carefree management style. Animators and computer geeks tool around on scooters through hallways decorated with discarded Chuck E. Cheese mouse statues.

In graduation ceremonies for the company's Pixar University training program, new hires dress in large hats or as cheerleaders before parading backward as Lasseter delivers the commencement address.
Sounds like my kind of guy. Hey John, need an assistant?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Those Women You See Out Running...

...aren't training for the Marathon, or doing some afternoon jogging.

It's the Lady Vols, taking laps around Knoxville. Expect traffic delays well into the evening.

And if you look carefully you'll probably see Pat Summitt hanging out of a helicopter yelling at them to focus!!!!

Term Limited

'West Wing' ending its term in May
"NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly announced yesterday that "The West Wing" will end its seven-season run in May."
*sniff* I hardly knew ye...

Looks like the presidential election between Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) will be the last hurrah, unless something like the current Kazakhstan/Russia/China storyline continues to play out through the end of the season.

Hopefully they won't let Bartlett get out of office without one big final hurrah, especially since the them of his whole last couple of years has been "finding his legacy", or what he will leave behind that will make his presidency meaningful.

*sigh* Now I'm bummed.


UPDATE: Here's some more information about the end of the season, for those of you who actually enjoy quality programming ;)

'The West Wing': Lame Duck
The election will be covered on April 2 and 9 and viewers will know by the end of the latter episode whether the presidential candidate played by Jimmy Smits or Alan Alda won the election -- a decision the producers "have only really in the last couple days made," at the end of "quite a brawl," Wells told critics at the very last session of Winter TV Press Tour 2006.

...

The sudden death of actor John Spencer in December has "changed a lot of the storytelling" for the final episodes, Wells said, sharing the stage with some of the writers and cast members.

The producers had shot five episodes, three of which Spencer was central to, at the time of his death. Wells said they talked about how to handle the situation over the holidays and decided the best homage they could pay Spencer was to change nothing and "let people see the last days of his work." He joked that Spencer would have been angry at him if he had changed the episodes -- "cutting his best scenes . . . so we left it."

Scrambling to deal with the reality of the actor's death, Wells said, the producers discovered there is no real provision for dealing with the death of a vice presidential candidate on the eve of an election.
Sad or not, it should be interesting. They might even be creating some unintentional and unofficial precedent here. If that ever happened in real life and people are wondering what should be done, someone undoubtedly will remember these last few episodes of The West Wing and at least offer them as possibilities.

Sometimes art imitates life, sometimes life imitates art.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Seventy-Seven - Friday, January 20, 2006

Appetizer - About how many times per day do you check your email?

I'm checking email constantly throughout the day. Seriously, if you've sent me an email between 8:00 and 5:00, I'll see it within 15 minutes of the time it hits my inbox. Unless I'm at lunch, then a little more. After that, I'm on usually after 10, so it's a good chance I'm checking then, too.


Soup - If you had the money to collect something really valuable, what would it be?

I'd collect animation cels - you know, the original hand-painted individual scenes created for classic animated shorts and features.


Salad - Write a sentence using the letters of your favorite beverage. (Example: The egret admires.)

See! What exacting elegance the tiny egg acquires...


Main Course - If you could be on a game show, which one would you want it to be?

I'd love to be on Jeopardy. I'd wipe up the floor with Ken Jennings...


Dessert - Name 3 computer programs or web sites you would hate to be without.

I'd hate to be without Homesite for my web designing, Paint Shop Pro for my graphics editing and Firefox for my browsing pleasure...

The Rule of Four

I got tagged by Logtar...

Four Jobs You’ve Had

1. Bookstore Clerk
2. Movie Theatre Assistant Manager
3. Help Desk Grunt
4. Program Director for UT Wesley Foundation

Four Movies You Could Watch Over and Over

1. Star Wars
2. Back to the Future
3. Jurassic Park
4. Superman

Four Places You’ve Lived

1. Knoxville, TN
2. Daytona Beach, FL
3. that's
4. it

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch

1. Star Trek (any)
2. 24
3. The West Wing
4. M*A*S*H

Four Favorite Books

1. Tunnel in the Sky, Robert Heinlein
2. Insomnia, Stephen King
3. The Firm, John Grisham
4. Warning Signs, Stephen White

Four Places You Have Been on Vacation

1. Caribbean Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Lucia, St. Maartin, Barbados, Dominica)
2. Orlando, FL
3. Williamsburg, VA
4. Long Island, NY/Bensalam, PA/Lincoln, NE/Blythesville, AK (one two-week trip)

Four Websites You Visit Daily

1. Big Orange Michael
2. Lileks
3. Michael Silence (No Silence Here)
4. Television Without Pity Forums

Four Favorite Foods

1. Popcorn
2. Pizza
3. Ruffles "The Works" Chips
4. Fettucine Alfredo

Four Places You’d Rather Be Right Now

1. Snorkeling off St. John's
2. Ireland/Scotland
3. Walt Disney World
4. Watching the Vols play for a National Championship/Titans play in the Super Bowl

Four Bloggers You’re Tagging

1. I think
2. this one's
3. been around
4. enough ;)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

MENSA Intelligence Test - Well, Sort Of

This is a fun little test of your logic and pattern recognition abilities, not to mention a little knowledge of popular culture.

MENSA Intelligence Test

The text might have you believing it's an actual MENSA test, or at least an intelligence test - I have my doubts, but it's fun nevertheless.

As of this writing, I've found 30 out of the 33. There's no time limit - off you go!

(Hat tip: Doug at Reality Me)


UPDATE (01/23): Thanks, Doug - here are the answers. Of the three I never got, one (#19) I worked out with Laura when she took the challenge, although I question its validity as a common phrase or truism. The other two (#30 and #31) I don't think anyone could have gotten unless they lived abroad. Did anyone get those three?

Also, I think the word "in" in #14 and #17 should have been "on" - that's the more common phrasing that I'm familiar with....

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Tooth, The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth

Life is a series of events. Thank goodness they're not all Unfortunate. Actually, very few of them are. But they're all events, and they all connect - in ways that seem to repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

We're slowly outgrowing the "mythical beings" phases of childhood. Brainyboy v9.9 has at least privately abandoned all pretense of belief in the QuasiHoly Triumverite: The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny and Santa Claus (when I say privately, I mean he hasn't outright said to me, "I know they don't really exist" but he's mentioned a lot in passing to Laura so I know he knows). Tink, being 6, is still fully immersed in the lore.

And I, being the good and youthful dad, continue to play along.

But it's just so hard, sometimes...consider:

Here.

And Here.

And here, and oh my, here.

It's tough to be sneaky.

Well, Tink lost a tooth yesterday evening at church. It was quite the most stubborn of teeth, one that seemed to have decided to take permanant residence at the front of her mouth. It would twist this way and that, wobble in the breeze, do the Hokey Pokey and turns itself around (after all, that's what it's all about) but it refused to come out. So it was a Special Tooth (tm).

And now that it was finally out, it deserved a special sendoff - so bouyed by her success at writing Santa a letter (and getting a reply), she sealed the tooth up in an envelope and wrote the Tooth Fairy a message: "Here's my tooth - please leave me money."

An American girl, natch.

So she put it under her pillow and went to sleep. About 10:30, I'm watching TV downstairs and she putters out to the top of the landing.

Tink: (sleepy) Daddy?

Me: What's wrong?

Tink: I looked under the pillow, and the Tooth Fairy didn't come...

Me: Sweetie, it's just 10:30 - I haven't even gone to bed yet. Don't worry, she'll be here when it's really late and all the lights are out, and everyone's gone to sleep...

Tink: (considering) Ok....

And she scampered off.

Later...

Tink: (coming back onto landing) Daddy?

Me: What's wrong now?

Tink: I think the reason I can't get to sleep is because the TV's too loud...

(yeah, right)

So I turn down the TV, go upstairs and re-tuck her into the bed.

Later still...

It's approaching midnight and daddy's getting sleepy. Time for bed. This time I do remember to do the deed, so I creep into her roo--

*CREAK*

(damn creaky board...)

I continue... I sneak over to her pillow, reach under and carefully remove the envelope. Not wanting to be caught fumbling with the envelope in her room, I retreat back the way I came out the door. As I exit, I catch a glimpse of her stirring..

(O Crap.)

I peek back in. She's sitting up in bed, with the pillow thrown to the side, staring at the empty spot underneath.

I retreat back into the hallway, extricate the tooth, insert the coin (a Sacajewea Gold Dollar, by the way) and return. I still hear stirring. I stoop down and prop the envelope with the coin against the doorway into her room and scat back down the hall.

I hear the bed creak as she's getting up.

Down the hall to my room, duck inside---

(Crap! The light)

In a move that would have made Indiana Jones proud, I snap my hand back around the doorframe and cut off the light to the living room. The house is in darkness.

I peek outside my door down the hall and see Tink shuffling toward our room.

In a move that would have made Laurence Olivier proud, I shuffle myself out the bedroom door toward her down the hall - blinking, yawning, scratch---, er, well, blinking and yawning. We meet halfway.

She's quietly sobbing..."Daddy, The Tooth Fairy didn't come...."

(*BEEP BEEP DAMAGE CONTROL ERROR ERROR REBOOT ERROR ERROR STERILIZE STERILIZE*)

I smile through my sleep-dazed face, leading her back to her room... I point out the envelope leaning in the doorway. She glances at it, puzzled, and picks it up. She opens it and finds the coin. Smiling wanly, if puzzled, I get her back in bed - congratulating her and expressing my confusion as to why the Tooth Fairy would've left it in the doorway...

Tink: Daddy, why are you awake"?

Me: "Why, my sweet little tot," the fake Santy Claus lied, "There's a light on this tree that won't light on one side. So I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear. I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back ---"

Oh wait, wrong story.

Me: "Well, I heard you walking around, so I woke up and came to see what was the matter. I've been in bed asleep..."

I think I would've made Bill Clinton proud of that one.

And my fib fooled the child. Then I patted her head, And I got her a drink and I sent her to bed.

Or something like that.


And that's the story of how I fooled my daughter. And things are back to normal - at least until next time. I'm just not sure how much more of this I can take...


And that's the tooth. *PTTTTHHHH*

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Topical

It's interesting how some days I can have a ton of stuff to talk about, and other days I have nothing.

Or rather maybe it's that I have so much on my mind none of it has coalesced into a coherant form.

I think that way sometimes. Random ideas and thoughts will flit through my mind during the day, exciting me, angering me, frustrating me, making me think. But they don't stay, or at least not for long. They often come back to wreak havoc on me again and again but in no discernable order or pattern. They do seem to have effects on my mood, and yesterday's unrelenting all-day rain didn't help.

Here's a question. What's a fitting punishment for parents who medicate their kids when they can't seem to find the intestinal fortitude to control them? Slow injection with lighter fluid, or maybe spend an day in a room with the ghost of Eric Harris. Or maybe the parents of Cassie Rene Bernall.

Here's another question. How many times does one have to repeat a request before your coworkers remember it? Should it take 8 years? If a tree falls in the woods near a Marketing Department, does anyone hear it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Seventy-Six - Friday, January 13, 2006

Appetizer - Name one chore you don't really mind doing.

I really don't mind loading and unloading the washer and dryer. It's folding the clothes and more specifically putting them away that drives me crazy...


Soup - How many times have you moved homes in your life?

Interestingly, I've never lived away from Knoxville in my life. The longest time I've been out of town was a summer in Daytona Beach working for the Seaside Music Theatre as a Stage Manager. I lived in my parents' house through my first two years of college (I commuted), lived one year in a Ft Sanders apartment near campus, and two years in a dorm (with my roommate, Gary). After I graduated college my brother and I shared an apartment for a year or so, then I got married and moved into my wife's apartment. We stayed there about a year, then moved into our first house the following summer. We lived there for about 6 years, then moved to our present house just before Tink was born. And we've been here about 6 years.


Salad - How old were you when you had your very first kiss?

Next question.


Main Course - What time of day do you usually feel your best?

I never really have a down period. The closest thing is I sometimes feel lethargic after a big lunch in my 80-degree office, but that's about it. I rarely have mood cycles during the day.


Dessert - Using three words or less, describe your current local weather.

God, what next?

False Updates

Does anyone else have this problem?

I use Blogrolling for my blogroll, and it includes the feature to put a "*" by the links of folks who have updated their site in the last 2 hours - this is the best way I have of knowing who's updated during the day, so I can see what's up.

(aside - I know a lot of people use RSS, but it's been mostly a big waste of time for me. Maybe someone can actually show me a sample of how it can be used effectively to notify me at a glance who's made a new post)

But one thing I've noticed lately is a lot of "false updates" - where an "*" appears beside their link, I check it out, and see there's no new post.

I think the reason is with Blogger's new imbedded comment feature. Whenever someone comments on a post the site itself "updates", causing a Ping to be generated. This filters through to Blogrolling and it thinks there's been a new post. When there actually hasn't been.

Now this is not that big a deal, but it is a bit annoying to think your favorite bloggers have new stuff and there's nothing new there.

(I don't use the embedded comments, although they do show up when you click on a post's permalink (like here). I use Haloscan and have been very, very pleased thus far. I would recommend it highly.)

So, has anyone else noticed this problem with false updates?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

And in the "Not Quite Grasping the Concept" Department...

Nudity during sex annuls marriage, says cleric
"An Egyptian cleric’s controversial fatwa claiming that nudity during sexual intercourse invalidates a marriage has uncovered a rift among Islamic scholars. According to the religious edict issued by Rashad Hassan Khalil, a former dean of Al Azhar University’s faculty of Sharia, “being completely naked during the act of coitus annuls the marriage”."
I'm reminded of the old programmer's adage: "It's not a bug, it's a feature!"

(Hat tip: Appalachia Alumni Association)

The Latest Hybrid

I suppose it was inevitable....


Pat Pats Himself on the Back

I watch at least some of "Whose Line is it Anyway" almost every evening on ABC Family, and after it's over "The 700 Club" comes on. I always change the channel, but last night I decided to actually see what all the fuss was about with Pat Robertson.

I didn't actually watch the show, I was on the computer upstairs doing some very vital, important and grueling work but listened to the program out of one ear. They went through some various news items of the day, each with a noticeable (and unapologetic) Republican slant masquerading as a Christian slant.

Eventually, Pat (seemingly) brought the lights down a bit and talked frankly with his audience of 15,000,000 little old ladies and one Innkeeper. He spoke about the past week, how remarks he'd supposedly made on his little 'ol program had been misstated and fabricated by the - ahem - liberal media, and in fact he and Ariel Sharon are the best of buddies, and he has the utmost respect for him, and wishes him well and a speedy recovery, and let's go fishing next week and chase girls and all that. Then he read a transcript of the episode of the show that everyone had used to vilify him.

Here's the quote that circulated widely throughout the internet the other day:
"God considers this land to be his," Robertson said on his TV program "The 700 Club." "You read the Bible and he says `This is my land,' and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, `No, this is mine.'" (link)
I didn't hear Pat mention that quote in his transcript read, so he categorically denied he'd ever meant or wished Sharon any harm.

So either the media made the quote up out of the cloth, or Robertson conveniently omitted that section from his non-meaculpa last night.

If he did omit it, then he's worse than I thought - either stand up for your statements and defend them, or admit you were harsh and apologize.

If he didn't actually say it, then the media is at fault, and we bloggers (and the public) were quick to pounce on a statement that had no real meat. An action a lot of people were very eager to condemn in West Virginia last week as well.

So yet another chapter in the sage. Meanwhile, Sharon is being taken off the sedatives.

And the 700 Club went on to do a program about how Billy Ray Cyrus had turned to gospel music.

Ain't the world fun?

Give It A Rest, People...

These days I've tried very hard to be open-minded when it comes to politics, to listen to both sides and come to a well-reasoned conclusion on the issues. Since we are stuck in the United States with and eternal Republican/Democrat battle that has little to nothing to do with issues any longer, it becomes more and more frustrating to actually expect others to do the same.

I can't tell how many times I've heard this week during the Alito Senate hearings the snide remarks made about Ted Kennedy. I don't have an ounce of particular bias toward him, nor do I have an ounce of animosity toward him. He is what he is, he's the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, and has been since 1963. He's the surviving brother of an American family institution, and is always a magnet for controversy. I don't believe he's a saint any more than I think he's an axe murderer. As I say, he is what he is.

But I can't hear or read an opinion about Kennedy from the right without hearing, with a virtual snear, "Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment." Hardy har har har, they chuckle while exchanging knowing glances and winks. I hope you guys continue to have just a good old self-righteous, juvenile, asinine time with that 36-year-old story. I was barely 2 when it happened, and it wasn't part of the history books as I was growing up so all my information about the incident has come from hearsay, biased commentary and places like this. From what I've been able to discern, the worst Kennedy was guilty of was negligance and bad judgement - not murder and conspiracy. Yes, a woman died in the incident but for it to continue to haunt him 36 years later as a built-up example of his immorality and lack of deservedness to be a Senator, it's still pretty weak.

And to me, it disrespects the memory of the woman who died by using her continually as a means to dig at Kennedy. As if she wasn't anything more than a dog that had been run over in the road.

Again, I'm not defending Kennedy in particular. I just continue to find the junior-high mentality of political opponents and the methods they use to attack, smear, or otherwise denigrate those on the other side - Republican or Democrat - to be obnoxious and unworthy of true democratic and American debate. And you should all be ashamed of yourselves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Habits Meme

I got tagged by Michael, so here goes:

The “rules” indicate that I should add this portion of text so here you go; enjoy.

The first player of this game starts with the topic “five weird habits of yourself,” and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don’t forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says “You have been tagged” (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours.


1. When I'm busy with some kind of physical, social task - something where I'm moving around a good deal and talking to people - I'm constantly running my hand through my hair, as if it were hanging in my eyes. Those of you that know me or have seen my picture know that, well, that's not possible. My hair hasn't had the length to hang down in my eyes since I was, like, 12. So as a result, what little hair I have left tends to stick out in different spots after an evening of directing a play and hair-running. It must be like that "phantom pain" people feel who've lost a leg or an arm. I lost my bangs long ago, but I still feel they're there.


2. I'm always sniffing. Through some accident of nature, my nasal passages are constantly at least partially blocked, one side or the other. Not from illness, just a quirk of internal anatomy keeps me from breathing clearly and deeply very often, due to some congestion. So I'm always sniffing, just a little, just to keep the airways open. You know, it's that pesky "living" thing I like to do. Annoying.


3. I eat way too many chips and salty-type snacks, as long-time readers of my site know. I've tried twice to give them up for Lent, once much more successful than the other. They keep me from maintaining a good, stable weight (or consistently losing weight). But, you know, come 11pm or so I just have to have....something. Anything. ANYTHING!!!


4. As much as I love kids, I Can. Not. Stand to hear kids talking or crying or being disruptive in the movies, or church, or wherever I'm trying to listen to something in public. Parents have a responsibility to prevent their children from being disruptive as much as they would keep themselves from being disruptive, and if the child won't behave or be quiet, they should be taken outside. End of story, and it doesn't matter how much the parent wants to hear what's going on themselves. Is that a habit? Maybe, I'm not sure, but there it is.


5. I leave empty glasses sitting on the computer desk. It's not uncommon for there to be 5-6 empty glasses of tea waiting patiently to be taken away and washed, while I shift them around to create empty spaces for the current full one.




Yes, I know, terrible, terrible habits. I hereby tag Danielle, Cathy/Doug, Will, Lass and Becky.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Third Bloggiversary 2005 Year in Review

Three years ago, I started my blog and the Inn of the Last Home was born. The past two years I have published a list of what I felt were my more noteworthy posts of the previous 12 months.

So in the spirit of all that's interesting and mind-numbing, I'm once again opening up the log books of the Inn of the Last Home for 2005. Enjoy.

January:

Fun at Traffic Court - My first court appearance ever, where I am shackled in chains and dragged to the basement of the City/County building to be...well, just read it.
Author Stephen White - My new favorite author, and an overview of his mystery novels.
"Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz" - The Unplayable Symphony - This post has generated by far more search engine referrals to my site than any other. I've posted copies of the (loosely stated) sheet music to this hilarious, bizarre, and unorthodox piece of music. Collect 'em, trade 'em with your friends...
Playing with the Little People - My son loses his mind and hallucinates Oompah Loompahs. Or something.


February:

Confessions of a Salty Mind II - Follow-up to last year's Great Lenten Chip Withdrawal. Not quite as successful as before. Great rejoicing is heard at Lays and Ruffles headquarters.
Nothing's More Important Than the Team - Especially those lightweight things like, country...honor, I don't know...integrity?

Sleep Study
     Part 1 - I am poked, prodded, plied and probed in prep for a peek into my periodic patterns of palatal problems. In other words, I snore. Part 1 is getting ready for the study.
     Part 2 - The aftermath. Oh, the horror..the horror. Actually it wasn't too bad.

School Uniforms - Should kids be required to wear a uniform at school? Mine do, and are the better for it. Here's why.
The Squirrels In My Yard Are Conspiring Against Me - A harrowing tale of paranoia and imminent danger in blank verse.


March:

Sleep Study II: The Sequel - Yep. Sleep apnea. Read the gory details.
Zen and the Art of Raquetball - I am once again slapped in the face with the reminder that I am no longer 21. Well, and that's not the only thing that's slapping me around...


April:

Amazing but True Facts - And they're all true, I swear by my tattoo.
Interviewed by Logtar - Logtar asks what kind of tree I would like to be, and other burning questions...
Conversations with Tink 1 - You know, it's kind of sad but as they get older the cute little non sequiter conversations get farther and farther apart. But they're still there on occasion..
It's Not Easy Being a Parent - A heart-to-heart with BrainyBoy, about some of the first pangs of peer pressure.
Those Were the Days - Reminiscing about my college days with my roommate, Gary. More to come, but I didn't know it yet.
It's What I Like About Me - 10 Things I Like About Myself. No, super-strength isn't on there, but it was a close 11th.


May:

Being Paranoid Doesn't Necessarily Mean They're Not Out to Get You... - It's frightening the things that will come after you when you're napping on the couch...
A First For Me - I hit a home run. Finally.
Bibles in the Schools - I wish they would try as hard to ban bullying and cheating in schools as much as they try to do Bibles...

"Revenge of the Sith"
     May 24, 1977 - The first of three posts looking back to where I was in my life on opening day of the first three Star Wars movies. I was 10 in 1977 and still a little kid.
     May 21, 1980 - Part 2, the sequel. I was 13 in 1980.
     May 25, 1983 - Part 3, the conclusion. I was 16 in 1983.
...And my thoughts on "Revenge of the Sith"
(and still More Sithian Thoughts... )


June:

Vacation in Williamsburg, VA.
     Archetypes - Who are the people in your neighborhood? Let's look at a few types, as we people-watch while on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach...
     Shirtless in Washington - Part 1 - Our family side trip to Washington DC, first visiting the Smithsonian and the White House.
     Shirtless in Washington - Part 2 - The return to our hotel in Williamsburg, VA. where I lose my shirt, my time, and my pride.
     Busch Gardens Williamsburg Trip Report - A review of one of the coolest amusement parks ever...

Coming Clean - Where I reveal my true identity.

Trip to Universal Studios, Florida with my college roommate Gary
     All Flights Lead to Atlanta: Part 1 - Flying out of Knoxville for Orlando, I witness a dad's poignent farewell to his son.
     All Flights Lead to Atlanta: Part 2 - Returning to Knoxville from Orlando, I am caught up in a web of international intrigue.
     Virgins and Chickens and Dominatrixes - Oh My! - My vote for my best post title ever. Musings on the people we met on my visit.
     Ever Have One of Those, "Oh, Crap - I'm About To Be Eaten By A Dinosaur!!" Moments? - Me neither.
     Well, Crap. I Really Am About To Be Eaten By A Dinosaur... - The horrifying reality of theme park visits...
     Action shot of "The Incredible Hulk" - Don't make it angry.
      "Past this point of no return, your only choice is freeze or burn!" - And they're not talking about kitchen appliances, here.


July:

Thoughts and Deeper Thoughts on "War of the Worlds" (spoilers, duh) - Deadbeat dads that are forgiven in the movies because they were "misunderstood", "following their dreams", "abducted by aliens". What a load of crap.
Your Favorite Sports Memories - Actually, my favorite sports memories. But why quibble.
My 10 Most Memorable UT Football Moments - Now that's more like it, on to the real stuff. If only we'd known what was to come in the fall...
Bedtime Story Podcasts - "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Goodnight Moon". Great for reading to your kids when you're out of town.
The Ghost on the Line - Harrowing tale of privacy invasion.
The Kindness of Strangers
- I spend an evening and overnight with homeless at our church.
Togetherness - Where do you sit when you're out on a date? People may be watching you...


August:

Ethics in the Workplace - Don't you just love creative accounting in business? Especially when it screws over your employees? Me too.
Multiplication Rocks! - One nice thing about your kids being in school is it gives you a chance to fresh up on the basics..
Hedging Their Bets - Just when you think natural disasters couldn't get worse, see what some places are preparing for...


September:

It's Here...It's Finally Here...IT'S FOOTBALL TIME IN TENNESSEE!!! - Oh, the painful, painful irony...
I'm Shocked, ShockedTo Find That Fundamentalism Is Going On In Here! - Not every Christian is a fundamentalist. Nor is every fundamentalist as Fundamentalist. But try telling that to some people...
The Penultimate Potter - Half-blooded thoughts on the latest doings at Hogwarts.
Deciding America's Future - Choose wisely. Who will become our next president in 2006? (huh?)
My New Car - Before it got folded, spindled and mutilated two months later...
The Game Ball - Watching your son play baseball is great. Watching him enjoy it is wonderful. Watching him give his very best and succeed is priceless.


October:

Committing the Cardinal Sin - I become one of "those" parents...the ones that -- oh, it's just too horrible to talk about. Just move on, please.
From the Archives... - I take a phrase from an old, old post, and write a completely different story about it. With noir results.

Diary of a Musical Director
     Part I - I begin my chronicling of the process of musical directing "Annie" at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. Starting out, first week of rehearsal.
     Part II - "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" - What does that lyric really mean?

Bringin' Down the House - Disaster movies hit a bit to close to home these days. And apparently revel in it.
All the State's a Stage - Tennessee Theatre Association Conference report from Cookeville.


November:

Diary of a Musical Director (cont.)
     Part III: "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here" - Having fun. With reservations.
     Part IV: "Little Girls" - You know it's going to be a bad rehearsal when...
     Part V: "You Won't Be An Orphan For Long" - And now we add the band...
     Part VI: "Tomorrow" - Opening night approacheth. Can I handle the pressure???
     Part VII: "It's a Hard Knock Life" - Perils and pitfalls of particular performances. I also become a hazard to local wildlife.

Fumbling the Ball - Yeah, if you're reading this at work you should be fired. And I'm going to call the media, write letters and raise a stink until you are... Well, that's the mentality of some football fans.
Blogging - It Isn't Just For Politics - Lots of good people are around to talk about their lives. You just have to wade through the political garbage to find them...
Flip, Pick and Riff - Another piece of short fiction based on a random internet find. This one is about musical composition that defined a relationship.
Protesting! UGH! (Good God, Ya'll) What Is It Good For? - What the heck use is it to anyone for people to protest? Not much, if you're doing it for the wrong reasons...


December:

Diary of a Music Director (cont.)
     Part VIII - "Easy Street" - And it's all over but the erasing...

GrandBlessed - We're blessed that our kids' grandparents are here, and involved. Some people aren't...
So Long, Leo, and Thanks For All the Cheese - I say goodbye to an actor I greatly admire...
Goodbye, Buddy and Cat Tails - I say goodbye to a member of my family.
The Letter from Santa - The generosity of my daughter continues to amaze me.


Thanks for sticking it out this far. I hope I've provided some amusement and thought-searching this past year. Here's to a great 2006 - thank you for visiting the Inn of the Last Home.


UPDATE: Happy Birthday, Hatamaran! Get well soon and get your butt back to work! ;)

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Book of Daniel...My Take

My only take on the "Book of Daniel" controversy:

Here's the point I think that's being made by a good number of those opposed to its showing. Jesus Christ is a sacred religious figure and icon all Christians. To a lot, it would be highly offensive to put words in his mouth and use him as a character in a TV show (although God portrayed in movies seem to be exempt - I don't recall any protests against George Burns or Morgan Freeman when they played God). More to the point, Christians revere Jesus as much or more as their own family members, and what would your reaction be if a major network aired a show in which your own spouse, kids or parents were depicted unfavorably, or even slanderously.

Wouldn't it make you upset that it might air? Even tremendously upset?

What if there was a show depicting your teenage son, and I mean your son specifically - by name, by likeness, as a drug addict. Or your wife as a prostitute. By name, intentionally. Would you be content to merely say, "Hey, if you don't like it, turn off the set or change the channel," shrug your shoulders and wonder at the insanity of it all.

Personally, I don't think a show should be pulled unless it violated basic decency laws or standards that are known to exist at the time. Excessive language, sex or violence on NYPD Blue is what caused it to be boycotted by a number of ABC stations 10 years or so ago. I can sort of see that. But this is an idealogical and religious difference of opinion - I'm glad WBIR decided to air it, since (from what I've heard) it violates none of those standards. But I think it's important for those who are against censorship to truly understand the depth of the offense taken to what the show airs.

That's all. I'm not planning on watching it, for a couple of reasons. One, cited above. For the other, my minister was one of those here who was invited to the pre-screening, commented on the air, and mentioned to us last night that it was simply a lousy show and not worth viewing regardless of its controversial content.

But either way, look at the other side of the story. You'll be surprised what you find.

Friday's Feast

Friday's Feast

Feast Seventy-Five - Friday, January 06, 2006

Appetizer - Have you ever seen a ghost or an angel?

No,I never have. That I know of, of course.


Soup - What is your favorite board game?

Hmm..that's a good question. I might opt for the old standard and say just good basic Monopoly. Then there's Trivial Pursuit as well. Mousetrap was my favorite game when I was a kid. Plus Scrabble. Ok, there's four...


Salad - What was the last movie you saw that made you cry?

Me? Cry at movies? *phhttt* (makes vague waving motions with hand)



"Mr. Holland's Opus"

Ahem. What? Did somebody say something? Next question.



Main Course - What would you do if you had 3 months off from your job?

Is that an offer? Seriously, I would:

* read
* catch up on my DVD's I haven't watched
* volunteer at my kids' school
* sleep



Dessert - What kind of shoes are you wearing today?

Brown loafers. Just like every other day at work...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Thoughts about Dads and Sons and Responsibility

Michael wrote:
"A few weeks ago, the sports world was shaken by the death of James Dungy, son of NFL head-coach Tony Dungy. As the reports came out, the news went from bad to tragic as it was revealed that James had taken his own life.

In the weeks that have followed, we've seen the Dungy family have to publically deal with what is a very private pain and one that will not easily, swiftly or possibly ever go away. I will admit that in the wake of this family tragedy, I've been moved by the show of support for Dungy and his family from people in the sports world and those outside of the sports world. I've also been moved by Dungy's faith in God during this time and his falling back on that comfort in a time of pain, sorrow and tragedy."
(reposted from a comment on Michael's site)

I can't help but wonder what did Tony not do for his son - and what sacrifices did he make in his personal life so that he could succeed as an NFL head coach?

I know James hung around the team a good deal in the past couple of years, and was a fixture around the players. But how much real, private attention did he get from his dad in his oh-so-important teen years? Those of us who follow football on college and pro levels have an idea of the time commitment it takes to be a head coach - recruting, road trips, scouting, meetings, practices, watching film, late nights... how does anyone find time to raise a teenager?

Makes you wonder what Phil Fulmer has lost in his relationships with his girls all these years. Obviously it doesn't mean they're going to commit suicide, but any father who spends an inordinate amount of time away from his kids is giving up something precious.

Which is what scares me to death when I think about career advancement and my avocational pursuits of theatre and music - one job took me away from home for two weeks. What if that happened regularly, and I wasn't there for that one ballgame, or recital, or play. Or two, or three. Or that one crisis, or that one special talk that needed to happen right then - not later, NOW.

I don't blame Tony Dungee. I don't know James' particular situation. But I can't imagine having an NFL head coach for a dad helped.


UPDATE: Will of Hit Coffee has more on a similar topic, "Wayward Sons and Daughters" where he discusses the occasions when well-raised, well-disciplined kids go wrong.

Monday, January 02, 2006

We Are The Champions - complete

I won the finals of my local league, to go 3 for 3 in my fantasy football league.

My team scored 137 fantasy points to my opponent's 71, fueled by the above average play of WR's Randy Moss and Troy Walters, QB Jake McCown, Kicker Ryan Lindell and the Tampa Bay Defense, plus the average (but still superior) play of RB Larry Johnson.

3 Leagues, 3 Championships - never done that before. Very cool.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Well, it was until....

...Tink woke up this morning yakking. Well, just twice. Then she was happy and bright as a clam the rest of the day, eating grilled cheese sandwiches and soup...

Go figger. Keeping a close eye on Laura and BrainyBoy - maybe it was just something she ate. We'll see.

Happy New Year!

This evening, we had 21 people at our house for the annual New Year's Eve Party. 12 adults, 8 kids and 1 teenager.

We ate, and ate, and ate....played "Things"....toasted the new year inside and out, and the kids launched balloons with wishes attached.

Well, most of the kids. Tink wiped out about 11pm in the playroom chair, and I took her upstairs to bed first.

Great friends, great company....Best New Years Eve Ever.