Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Reality TV...

Last night was a great night for reality TV. The Amazing Race two hour show was fantastic. We had the oldest woman in the race fall while exploring a cave and come up with a bloodied face. Gretchen proved she was a true competitor when she exhorted Meredith, her husband, to find the damn clue and not worry about her. They finished the first leg last, but were not eliminated. As a penalty they lost all of their money and all of their possessions. I gave them no chance to pull out of last place, but of course, I was pulling for them. In leg two, they ended up in fifth place out of seven teams. An amazing comeback. We also saw the most dysfunctional team - Ray and Deana - get eliminated by seconds when they lost a footrace to brothes Brian and Greg. This was especially gratifying after they were dissing Meredith and Gretchen last week. Add to that: the brothers got in a car accident, injuring one of their cameramen, unable to conceive couple Uchenna and Joyce were emotionally spent after a visit to an orphanage in South Africa, and depending on your point of view, Rob and Amber showed either their competitive nature or their complete lack of decency by speeding by the car accident scene. This episode had it all. I believe this was easily my favorite Amazing Race episode of any season.

On American Idol, Nadia came back with a great performance after last week's Cyndi Lauper debacle. Constantine showed really savvy by choosing the perfect song to keep him in the competition. Bo finally crashed and burned with a bad song choice. My choices for the bottom three this week follow.

Anwar - this makes me sad as I think he's very talented. Bad song choice and lack of personality are killing him.

Scott - If I close my eyes, he's usually not bad. Last night, even closing my eyes didn't help.

Anthony - I think he's far better than Simon gives him credit for. He shouldn't be leaving, but he might be the one to get the boot.

Also on last night was Invasion Iowa, the reality TV show set in Riverside, Iowa. I had a friend tape it for me so I haven't seen it yet. Anyone watch it and want to give an opinion?

Monday, March 28, 2005

New Iowa blogger

TanMan joins the list of Iowa bloggers. He's an interesting guy, a good poker player, and pretty funny, too. Check him out.

Thank God for Spring!

We finally have spring-like weather here in Coralville. High sixties, I'd say. This meant we could finally get outside and play. Rachel has been really acting up lately and I think it's because she's been so cooped up inside. She's always in a better mood when we've had the chance to soak in the sunshine. Today we went to the park. Rachel is getting so big. She was quite proud of her ability to work the sand digging tools.

It looks something like that. You have to be strong enough to coordinate the two arms and move the sand around. Rachel couldn't manage it last year but one year of non-stop pop tarts and she's there!

Sami is also getting big. Now that she can walk, she had a lot more fun at the park. She climbed up the smaller play structure and slid down the baby slide. Her favorite part of the day was the swing. Rachel enjoyed pushing her sister on the swing, too.

In other family news, we watched Little House on the Prairie Saturday night. Rachel, Sharon and I enjoyed it. Sami slept through it. There are two more installments, so I guess we're booked for the next couple of Saturdays.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Amazing Race spoiler

I am about to talk about a potential spoiler for the Amazing Race. So if you don't want to be spoiled stop reading now.

Okay, last chance.

Now that they've gone, here's the spoiler. It's called the background spoiler. It was originated at Reality TV World's Amazing Race message board. I am not sure who gets credit for coming up with the theory, but a lot of posters discuss it here. The way it works is this. On the Amazing Race website, there are pictures of each of the teams. There are three different backgrounds - some teams have an seaside background, some have a mountain background, and some have a sunset background.

Here are examples:

So far every team that has been eliminated (Ryan and Chuck, Debbie and Bianca, Susan and Patrick) has had the seaside background. Ray and Deana, pictured above, are the only team left with that background. If they are eliminated next, I think we're dealing with a spoiler or one hell of a coincidence.

The mountain teams are:

The sunset teams are:

Either the sunset teams or the mountain teams will be the Final Three. I am betting on Rob/Amber, Lynn/Alex, and Uchenna/Joyce.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Where ya been?

Found this over at LiveJournal. You bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

Go here to have a form generate the HTML for you.

I have been to twenty-five states. That's only half. I really ought to get out more. At the top of my list of places to visit that I've never been: Washington D.C., Hawaii, and Texas.

My Dad, the devil

I imagine I'll become embarrassing to my girls at some point. Fortunately, I still have a year or three of Daddy-is -the-bestest-guy-in-the-world to cherish. But when my time comes, at least I can point to Mr. Simmons and say, "See, it could be worse."

Of course, he's turning his situation into a new kids show. It's about a boy who wants a normal life has to deal with his crazy rock star father. Here's the inspiration for the show:

Simmons, the cartoon's creator and executive producer, said the idea sprang out of a conversation about career day at his son, Nick's, school.

"So you had people coming in with scissors, you know, 'my mom's a hair stylist,' or a toothbrush, 'my dad's a dentist,' and my son came in with a poster of me spewing blood and spitting fire," Simmons said.

I can see how having a dad who appears to come from the lower reaches of Hell would be either really cool or absolutely mortifying.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Everyone hates hypocrites, right?

President Bush is fighting and fighting to save Terri Schiavo's life. If he believes so fervently that people should be kept alive even though there is no hope for recovery, why did he as Governor of the state of Texas, sign a bill that became Chapter 166 of the Texas Health and Safety Code? Basically it states that if hospitals disagree with parents or other surrogates over discontinuing treatment, an ethics committee must review the case. The ethics committee can then overrule the parents or surrogates and order the plug pulled.

And a week ago, amid all the Terri Schiavo hoopla, a six month old boy had his plug pulled over his parent's objections. Where was Congress and President Bush when this was going down? This isn't about saving a woman's life. It's all politics. Ugh.

All credit for this info goes to my friend, James.

Fun with words

Just received an email from a friend with some new words. The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and then supply a new definition.

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

2. Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

8. Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

9. Karmageddon (n): It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the
Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

10. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

11. Glibido (v): All talk and no action.

12. Dopeler effect (n): The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

14. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

15. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating.

16. Ignoranus (n): A person who's both stupid and an asshole

My favorite is sarchasm. Hee.

American Idol thoughts

Apparently, they showed the wrong numbers last night so there will be a re-vote tonight after a replay of last night's performances. Elimination happens on Thursday. Story is here.

Last night there were truly remarkable performances. And one absolutely awful performance. Let's get the one that hurt my ears out of the way first. Mikalah Gordon, your time is up. There is no way you deserve to be in this competition any longer. You were completely out of tune (and if I notice that, you're really in trouble) and boring to boot. If she doesn't go home Thursday, it will be the worst moment in American Idol history.

Onto the good performers!

First of all, Constantine performed the song "I Think I Love You" by the Partridge Family. I was sure he was doomed when they announced that. But I loved his performance. Paula got it right when she said he has the best showmanship on stage. He was unique and entertaining. Not the best singer there, but easily one of the best performers.

I finally understand the hype surrounding Carrie Underwood (or as Rachel calls her - Carrie Underwear. This is followed by lots of giggles...). She performed "Alone" by Heart and she was incredible. She did look a little scared up there and I wonder if she was nervous doing a song outside her country comfort zone. She doesn't need to worry. I am a believer now.

Bo Bice performed one of my favorite songs - "Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce. It has a special place in my heart as my sister sang it for us at my wedding. Bo proved again that he's got star power. Simon said it best when he noted that Bo doesn't seem to be in a competition. He has already arrived. I think he's going to be a big star whether he wins or not.

Jessica Sierra was also excellent singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler. If she can find some consistency, she'll make it to the end.

Quick Thoughts: Anthony was good, Scott was okay if you closed your eyes, and Nikko and Vonzell were fine. Nadia Turner turned in her weakest performance yet and her hairstyle made me think she was an extra from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. I hope she rebounds next week. Anwar was surprisingly bland.

The bottom three will probably be Mikaylah, Anwar, and a surprise... Nadia! I don't think Nadia's fan base is that big and with a performance as bad as that, I think she's due for a wake up call. One week in the bottom three ought to do it. And Mikalah had better be gone.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A brief Rachel story...

Rachel has a doll that she named Sarah. Sarah is a African American doll. Rachel has never really commented on this. The rest of her dolls are white. And in fact, Sarah and another doll named Mary seem to alternate as Rachel's favorite. We figured Rachel was pretty much color blind when it came to her many dolls. She decided that Mary, for instance, is Sarah's older sister. We're pretty happy with this color blindness - in today's racially charged society, it'd be better for all of us if the next generation didn't think twice about the color of someone's skin. Well, anyway yesterday Rachel was playing with Sarah and telling her that she was going to have a new baby sister named Mickey very soon. Mickey is another of Rachel's dolls. She told Sarah very seriously that Mickey wouldn't look like her. Sharon and I were close by and I could tell we thinking the same thing - this was it, Rachel was going to finally note the difference in skin color and comment on it.

"She's not going to look you at all. You see, Sarah, Mickey is going to have a different dress and..."

Sharon and I started laughing. Rachel looked at us.

"What's so funny?"

I changed the subject by asking Rachel about the new baby named Mickey.

Stay color blind, Rachel.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Stage Beauty

Sharon was returning movies to the video place the other night and I asked her to get a movie I would like. Twelve and a half years of togetherness paid off as she picked up a gem I'd never heard of - Stage Beauty starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes. Here's a quick synopsis:

Set in the 1660s at a time when in live theatre women's roles were played by men, Edward 'Ned' Kynaston (Crudup) is England's most celebrated leading lady, using his beauty and skill to make the great female roles his own. But when Charles II is tired of seeing the same old performers, the ruler allows real women to tread the boards and men may no longer play women's parts. Ned becomes a virtual nobody, virtually overnight and seems headed for suicide till his ex-dresser turned actress Maria (Danes) takes it upon herself to get him back on his feet.

Crudup is an amazing actor. I had forgotten he played the rock star in Almost Famous, which was also a good performance. This one, however, is filled with subtlety as he captures the pain Kynaston must have felt losing his identity. There's been some criticism of the film for suggesting that "sex with Claire Danes will cure homosexuality". But in watching the film, it's clear that Kynaston is bisexual so that criticism seems misplaced. The truly saddest moment in the film comes when Kynaston is asked to perform one of Othello's soliloquys and he fails miserably because he has worked so hard for so many years to remove all trace of masculinity in his acting. However, he finds his inner actor at the end of the film in a staging of the climatic scene from Othello when the Moor kills Desdemona. That scene is truly heart stopping. Claire Danes is excellent as well and Rupert Everett as King Charles II is a blast. I highly recommend the film. Rent it!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Revenge of an angry fan

I was so excited about the opening of Star Wars Episode 1 that I drove from Iowa to Denver to meet my friend Payjeck who was coming from Salt Lake City so we could see the show together. Star Wars had a critical impact on our childhood. George Lucas creating new movies gave us the chance to leap back fifteen years and revisit our childhood.

You can't go home again.

To say the Phantom Menace was a disappointment doesn't really begin to describe the abject despair we felt. The worst thing was, it didn't sink in right away. We actually saw the movie three times, perhaps out of a sense of desperation. Surely, it'll be better this time. Unfortunately, Jar Jar was still there every time. And they were still babbling about midichlorians. Still, I decided to give Lucas the benefit of the doubt. I'll check out the second movie and see if it was better. After all, Empire Strikes Back was the best of the original movies. Surely the sequel would be better.


Attack of the Clones? What kind of title is that? Sounds like a Barbra Streisand song gone bad. That movie was worse than the first. And I came to a disturbing conclusion - Lucas was the type of director who coaxed bad performances from otherwise extremely talented actors. Sam Jackson, Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman... these people have talent. Under Lucas' direction, they appeared as cardboard cutouts.

And now we have Revenge of the Sith. I just watched the trailer. It looks good. Those bastards can put together a good trailer, I'll give 'em that. It's dark. It'll be the first PG-13 Star Wars movie. I'll still see the damn thing. Maybe it'll be halfway decent. Lord knows my expectations couldn't be any lower.

Why see it? Well. You see. I still have this tiny glimmer of ... hope. I want it to be good. I want that so badly. So I hope, as I'm sitting there in the dark theater, I'll feel just a touch of that wide eyed excitement that fuled my imagination as a child.

But I'm not counting on it.

More on Terri's case

EDITED TO ADD: Here's a link to the most recent developments.

Thanks to Robyn and Dweeze for the information they provided in the comments of my last post. I appreciate getting some information on the other side. Here's something that's pretty important from an interview with Larry King. (SCHIAVO is Michael, Terri's husband. FELOS is his lawyer.)

KING: But why do you want it taken out? Why do you want the feeding tube removed?

SCHIAVO: This is Terri's wish. And I'm going to follow that wish, if it's the last thing I can do for Terri. I love Terri deeply. And I'm going to follow it up for Terri.

KING: How old was she when this happened?


KING: A 25-year-old said to you, if I die, if I'm in this kind of state, most 25-year-olds wouldn't think of something like that?

SCHIAVO: It was a comment from watching certain programs. She said, we were watching some programs, and she says, I don't want anything artificial like that. I don't want any tubes. Don't let me live like that. I don't want to be a burden to anybody. She's also made comments to other people about different stories.

Her wish is to die. That settles it for me. I believe her husband.

Plus, here's a rebuttle to the idea that she's responsive:

KING: We see now there, we see the eyes open. A smile. It looks like a smile.

SCHIAVO: Now, you've got to remember here, too, when the Schindlers show their little snippets of Terri, there's four and a half hours of tape. OK?

KING: This is edited?

SCHIAVO: This is edited. This is a tape where they snuck in against a court order after the judge said, do not photograph her.

KING: But she looks like -- right, she's not in a coma

SCHIAVO: Right. But you're missing half -- you're missing three-quarters of the other tape where her mother does the same thing, and she does nothing. Now, Terri makes the same noises for the last 14 years. She's made the same facial expressions. She blinks her eyes. She has normal sleep/wake cycles.

Now, the nurses have even testified in the trial that Terri makes those noises when nobody's in the room.

KING: I see.

FELOS: Larry, that's one of the controversies in this case, that people see these videos and say, oh my God, here's a person that's aware. Terri has the classic symptoms of a patient in a vegetative state. If I can have just a couple of seconds. There is the article, the seminal article on that is "The Medical Aspects of the Persistent Vegetative State." And what it says here is: "Patients in a vegetative state are usually not immobile. They may move their trunk and limbs in meaningless ways. They may even occasionally smile, and a few may even shed tears. Some utter grunts, or on rare occasions moan or scream. These motor activities may misleadingly suggest purposeful movements." And that's the case with Terri.

Oh, and what Jeb Bush did is despicable:

FELOS: Well, what happened with the governor was just very, very disturbing. Literally, under threat of arrest from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, police took Terri from her deathbed, brought her to a hospital, performed a surgical procedure against her will. I mean, that's something that you think about in a totalitarian society, where the state owns you, rather than you have individual rights.

We tried to communicate with the governor. The governor was making statements about this case, which were factually incorrect. We sent him about a three or four-page letter to the governor, with copies of court orders, affidavits of doctors. We invited the governor to come and speak with us. He met with the Schindlers a couple of times so he could get the facts in this case. And we were told by the governor's attorney he never looked at our letter.

And for the record, I would not want to be kept alive like she is. I would rather die with dignity.

Right to die? Right to live?

Have you followed the Terri Schiavo case? She collapsed in her home from what doctors believe is a potassium imbalance in 1990. Oxygen flow to her brain was interrupted for about five minutes, causing permanent damage. Eight years later, her husband Michael petitioned the court to have her feeding tube removed so she could die. He insists she would not want to live in this manner and doctors have said she is in a persistent vegetative state and is not going to recover. Her parents disagree and have been fighting to keep her alive. They have doctors who say she could recover with therapy. On this website you can read their point of view. (I searched for a website with Michael Schiavo's point of view, but didn't find one.) Most interesting to me is that Terri has had no therapy for ten years.

I had superficially followed this case in the news over the years and in all that time my most common thought was "Let the poor woman die in peace." But in researching it today, I found that the poor woman is not in the condition I had thought. Check this out from that website I linked to above:

Terri's behavior does not meet the medical or statutory definition of persistent vegetative state. Terri responds to stimuli, tries to communicate verbally, follows limited commands, laughs or cries in interaction with loved ones, physically distances herself from irritating or painful stimulation and watches loved ones as they move around her. None of these behaviors are simple reflexes and are, instead, voluntary and cognitive. Though Terri has limitations, she does interact purposefully with her environment.

Okay, this is not what I had imagined at all. Why does her husband think she would want to die? Apparently, money is not the reason is either as most of the money that Terri was awarded in a malpractice suit is gone. If he can't take the stress of this situation, he could divorce her and move on with his life. Either he has a horribly stubborn nature or he truly believes that is what Terri would have wanted.

I doubt that Michael Schiavo doesn't believe in what he is doing. He waited 8 years before asking that her feeding tube be removed. Maybe he's right and Terri doesn't want to live that way. But maybe her parents are right. What do you do in cases like this? What is the moral action? What is best choice?

I don't know.

I suppose in cases like this, one should err on the side of life and not death.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Who Would Win?

The latest installment of Who Would Win came to us while we were watching Movin' Out over the weekend.




Monday, March 14, 2005

American Idol Scandal!

Mario Vazquez quit!

"Personal reasons" were cited. There's a rumor at a message board that it's related to Michael Jackson somehow. Sounds like bunk to me. Someone probably noticed that Mario listed working with Michael Jackson as his proudest moment on his AI bio and concocted the story.

I was never a fan of Mario. I had a post planned for a few weeks entitled, "What's so great about Mario?" He reminded me of RJ from the first season. He'd be fine as a member of a boy band, but he's not solo talent.

The good news is Nikko Smith gets a shot at the Top 12. A lot of people felt he should have made it. I am not a huge fan, but I think he's pretty good so I am glad he gets a chance to convince me.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Movin' Out

Sharon and I saw Movin' Out at the Des Moines Civic Center on Saturday.

What an amazing show. I don't feel qualified to review it because it was mostly a dance show and I know next to nothing about dance. However, I was completely entranced every moment of the show and blown away by the moves of the dancers, especially the woman who played Judy and the man who played Eddie. Of course, I loved the music - it's all Billy Joel and the singer was very good, although he did lose a few low notes late in the show. His voice must have been damn tired by then. I was impressed that they could tell such a moving story just through dance and songs Billy Joel had written without ever intending for them to be brought together as a musical. I was very happy that they used some of Billy's lesser known gems, like James and Summer Highland Falls, two of my favorites. And I actually enjoyed Just the Way You Are for the first time in a decade because I believed the love of Judy and James. I do wonder if it would have an impact on someone who was completely unfamiliar with Billy Joel's music. Sharon and I are such big fans that we came into it knowing we'd like the show. I wonder what the teenagers of today, who might not know Billy Joel's music at all, would think.

Friday, March 11, 2005


Theresa at 2 Hot Chiks talks about the idea of a Turkish Prison Friend. I will quote her hypothetical:
If you landed your own sorry ass in a Turkish Prison (the likes of those in Days of Yore), and you only had one quick phone call to the outside world before being locked away forever, WHO would you call to help you?
I thought of a few different people in my life, but then I decided to go with my brother, John. John is smart, tenacious, a problem solver. Most of all, he wouldn't stop until he got me out of there. As I was thinking about this, it ocurred to me. My two other brothers fit that description, too. So does my sister. I thought of John first because he'd probably do some dramatic rescue involving parachuting to the roof of the prison and with a knife in his mouth. My sister, on the other hand, would work the diplomatic channels. No matter which method they chose, I know I could count on any and all of them to help me.

I am a lucky guy. I have four siblings I can count on. We were taught by our parents to value each other and our family. We are still a close group that gets together for birthdays and holidays. I hope to pass the importance of family and siblings to my girls. Sharon has a similarly strong relationship with her sister, so Rachel and Sami will see lots of good modeling of positive sibling relationships. The big difference between my experience and my kids is that they have only each other whereas I am lucky enough to have four siblings. I am hopeful that we can expand the idea of family to the Rachel and Sami's cousins. I wasn't very close to my cousins growing up, but my siblings and I are already making it clear to our kids that cousins are important family members too. And we've seen a lot of positive bonds between cousins so far, so even if they don't have more sibs they count on, they'll have cousins.

Now as I finish this post, I realize it did say Turkish Prison Friend. Are we not supposed to consider family?

I could think of a couple of friends I could call. In fact, the more I think about it, the more people I think I could call. Hmm. The implication of Theresa's post is that TPFs are rare. I don't know if I agree with that, at least in my experience.

By the way, friends who are reading this, if you need a TPF, call me. I'll get you out. It might even involve parachutes.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

True or False?

Which statements are true and which are false?
  1. There are more chickens than people in the world.
  2. Two-thirds of the world's eggplant is grown in New Jersey.
  3. The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
  4. There are only two words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous and horrendous.
  5. All of the clocks in the movie Pulp Fiction are stuck on 4:20.
  6. No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, or purple.
  7. "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt."
  8. John Lennon's first girlfriend was named Roxie Lyons.
Good luck!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Reality TV thoughts

Let's start with American Idol. This week, they get rid of four people and end up with the Final 12. Two more men and two more women will be eliminated. Hopefully, Mikalah Gordon will be one of them. She sang Somewhere from the musical West Side Story. I love that song. She butchered it. She was slurring the words so badly, she sounded drunk. Go home, Mikalah.

Onto the men... I wish Constantine were doing better.

The rocker just isn't impressing me anymore. And I'm still not a bad fan of the other rocker, Bo, although he is better than I originally thought. Finally, while I still like Anthony, I think the best singer of the men is actually Anwar.

The men are, as a unit, much better than the women. However a couple of the women may be better than all of the men. Nadia Turner, for instance, grabs your attention whenever she's on stage. I can't look away from her. Powerful voice and powerful presence. I could see her winning this thing.

The other woman who really captured my attention the last two weeks was Jessica Sierra.

I could see her going far in the competition.

How about that Amazing Race? Two exciting finishes in a row. I can't believe it again came down to a footrace with one team being eliminated by seconds! I was not sorry to see the Barbie twins go home...

...especially since I really didn't want the brothers to lose so early.

Rob and Amber are extremely entertaining and they're running a great race. They are making alliances with some of the teams and screwing with everyone else. Rob bribed a guard to not tell the others which bus was faster. That one didn't work. But later he also bribed a bus driver (using other teams' money) to keep the back door closed and slow down a bunch of teams. That one did work. The only problem with the strategy is they'll be the team yielded when that opportunity arises. Of course, they had the target on the back anyway as former Survivor winners.

So far this edition of the Amazing Race is my favorite season. It's just exciting to watch.

That's interesting...


Which Of The Greek Gods Are You ??
brought to you by Quizilla

Thanks to Kris.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Englert's Kerchner resigns

Well, maybe now things will improve. I felt better when I heard Mike Partridge was the new President of the Englert as I know Mike and he was there from the beginning. I would have been really surprised if he didn't attempt to correct the no local groups can afford the Englert issue. Now we have the news that Eric Kerchner, who was constantly making it clear in his public comments that local groups were not a priority, has resigned. I hope this means things will get better.

Here's an interesting quote from the press release:

“...upcoming performances include the Iowa City Community Band, New Horizons Band, Iowa City String Orchestra, City Circle Acting Company, Young Footliters, Old Capitol Chorus, Greg Brown and Dave Zollo. We also have commitments from the Jazz Festival, ArtsFest and Arts Iowa City. And of course we plan to play a large part in Iowa City Community Theatre’s upcoming 50th anniversary season.”

City Circle, Young Footliters and the Iowa City Community Theatre? Really? Wow. That looks good to me.

EDITED TO ADD: Dweeze at Corn O'Copia posted about this, too. In it, he makes it clear that there are still lots of questions about the Footliters and ICCT performing at the Englert. We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Dweeze also suggests Justine Zimmer as a replacement for Kerchner. I agree wholeheartedly. If she's interested, she'd be a great choice as she was in it from the beginning and knows the community and the Englert. We trust her. Bring her back!

Banned books

This banned book list is everywhere. I am very late to the party. But here we go anyway.

Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize the ones you’ve read part of.
Underline the ones you specifically want to read (at least some of).
Read more. Convince others to read some.

#1 The Bible
#2 Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
#3 Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
#4 The Koran
#5 Arabian Nights
#6 Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
#7 Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
#8 Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer In Olde English
#9 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
#10 Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
#11 The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
#12 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
#13 Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
#14 Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
#15 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
#16 Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
#17 Dracula by Bram Stoker
#18 Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin
#19 Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
#20 Essays by Michel de Montaigne
#21 Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
#22 History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
#23 Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
#24 Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
#25 Ulysses by James Joyce
#26 Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio
#27 Animal Farm by George Orwell
#28 Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
#29 Candide by Voltaire
#30 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
#31 Analects by Confucius
#32 Dubliners by James Joyce
#33 Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
#34 Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
#35 Red and the Black by Stendhal
#36 Das Capital by Karl Marx
#37 Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire
#38 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
#39 Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence
#40 Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
#41 Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
#42 Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
#43 Jungle by Upton Sinclair
#44 All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
#45 Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx
#46 Lord of the Flies by William Golding
#47 Diary by Samuel Pepys
#48 Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
#49 Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
#50 Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
#51 Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
#52 Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
#53 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
#54 Praise of Folly by Desiderius Erasmus
#55 Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
#56 Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X
#57 Color Purple by Alice Walker
#59 Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
#60 Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
#61 Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
#62 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#63 East of Eden by John Steinbeck
#64 Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
#65 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
#66 Confessions by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#67 Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais
#68 Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes
#69 The Talmud
#70 Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau
#71 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
#72 Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
#73 American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
#74 Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
#75 Separate Peace by John Knowles
#76 Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
#77 Red Pony by John Steinbeck
#78 Popol Vuh
#79 Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith
#80 Satyricon by Petronius
#81 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
#82 Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
#83 Black Boy by Richard Wright
#84 Spirit of the Laws by Charles de Secondat Baron de Montesquieu
#85 Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
#86 Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
#87 Metaphysics by Aristotle
#88 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
#89 Institutes of the Christian Religion by Jean Calvin
#90 Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
#91 Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
#92 Sanctuary by William Faulkner
#93 As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
#94 Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
#95 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
#96 Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
#97 General Introduction to Psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud
#98 Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
#99 Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown
#100 Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
#101 Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines
#102 Emile Jean by Jacques Rousseau
#103 Nana by Emile Zola
#104 Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
#105 Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
#106 Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
#107 Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
#108 Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
#109 Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
#110 Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

I've read 36 out of 110. I am not very happy with that number. Hrm.

Odds and Ends

That crafty ol' George Benard Shaw. And on a related note, I love snopes.

Good for Joe Namath. I was embarrassed for him when he hit on a sports reporter live on TV during a football game while under the influence. Glad to see he got sober and is in control.

I voted today! The Coralville Library needs to expand. It's not nearly big enough for our growing community. Some quick stats:

Since opening in 1987, the Library has seen:

* Items checked out, up 270%

* Library users, up 400%

* Coralville’s population increases 110%

* Collection size grown 65%

* Annual Library visits 212,132 up 460%

Because of the value of my house, it'll cost me about $15 to get a new library. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Mind you, I don't really care if we have a new Pope or not as I am not remotely Catholic anymore. However, come on, Pope. You need to resign your office, get some rest, and let someone else take over. There's no shame in it.

Well, that's a relief. King Tut wasn't murdered. Thank goodness. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about that...

I miss CopTalk.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Englert Board, are you listening?

I meant to blog about this on Saturday, but I forgot! The Press Citizen comes out on the side of local arts in its battle with the Englert Theatre. Thanks, PC.

Looking at who's performed so far and at the coming lineup, it's increasingly clear that the Englert won't really be a place for locals to perform. Most of the shows, from the upcoming children's plays to musical and artistic performances, all are from out of town. Certainly some of that is expected, and use of the theater should be maximized. But the lack of locally produced performances reduces the Englert to a smaller Hancher. While Iowa City will benefit from such a venue, many who donated dollars and time to the Englert would say a place for locals to perform is a higher priority.

Yeah, no kidding.

In addition, the prices charged for some of the events aren't for everyone in the community. The $25 or plus shows outnumber the $5 to $10 ones. While the children's plays generally run $10 to $12 a ticket, most single parents living on tight incomes will have to opt for the less expensive movie matinee. That Wednesday's gala cost $60 for the performance and $100 for the performance and reception signals to many in the community that the Englert is now for the city's wealthy.

This is a great point that I wish more people were talking about. The Grand Opening was just for the wealthy of Iowa City. Very nice. How many of the middle and lower income people volunteered their time and effort to make the Englert what it is today?


I saw two movies over the weekend - Garden State and Troy. Garden State was excellent. It was written and directed by Zach Braff, the lead on Scrubs. He also starred in the film. Clearly, it was a bit of a vanity project. Nevertheless, it was wonderfully written and the characters were achingly real and complex. Natalie Portman plays the lead female character. She's such an amazing actress with a wide range. Contrast her role in Closer with her role in Garden State, and you clearly see someone who has the talent to become one of our best actresses. In contast, I have a feeling this was Zach Braff's one movie and we won't see much more of him.

Troy was surprisingly good, as well. I had low expectations and it certainly didn't knock me off my feet, but it was enjoyable. It's been a long time since I've read the Illiad, but with a little internet searching, I found that many of the characters who lived in the movie died in the Illiad. Ah well. I enjoyed the battle scenes and some of the character stuff. As a fan of this sort of movie, I probably enjoyed it more than the average person. I do think Eric Bana stole the movie from Brad Pitt. Hector was a far more interesting character and that was mostly due to Bana having some acting talent to draw from, whereas Pitt's acting talent consists of looking off into the distance pensively.

The weekend that was

Saturday night, I saw Hedda Gabler. Great show. The acting was quite good, including Kris as the lead and greenman as the Judge. After the show, we played Texas Hold 'Em. I won one of the games which felt good. I was on a bad streak for a while and I feel like I'm getting my groove back. I felt in control last night for the first time in a while. My raises and bluffs were working, I was getting some good cards, and I was able to read some of the other people well enough to win some chips. We played a second game and I went all in relatively early on not the best cards because I needed to get some sleep. As expected, I lost and was able to head home and collapse into bed. I needed the sleep because Sharon wanted to take the kids to a Pancake Breakfast Sunday morning at the Indian Creek Nature Center. It was part of Maple Syrup fest. Now I like sleeping in on the weekends. All right, I like sleeping in every day, but the only days I have a chance to do that are the weekends. And after playing cards til 3 am, I was not looking forward to an early morning pancake breakfast. I have rarely found tasty pancakes at one of those things. Still, we got moving in the morning and by the time we arrived, I was feeling mostly awake. (Sharon drove.)

The surprises started early. For one thing, the place is beautiful. I love the outdoors. There are lots of trails to follow and we planned on taking a walk after breakfast. Second surprise - the pancakes were tasty! The syrup was about as good as it could get. After the pancakes, we watched a tapping a tree demonstration. Rachel helped tap it. I learned that sap is clear when it comes out of the tree! I had no idea. I just assumed it was brown like the finished product. Rachel had a lot of fun running from tree to tree finding all the bags of sap. Afterward, we took our walk along the trail. I have a baby backpack which Rachel loved to ride in when she was a baby.

Sami, however, asserted her independence and made it very clear she was not riding in that contraption on Daddy's back. She was very Mommy-centric that day, so Sharon carried her. It was a really nice walk. At one point, I climbed this hill which whetted my appetite for this year's Appalachian Trail hike. Overall, it was a great day and served to remind me how lucky I am to have a wonderful wife and two great kids.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

An exercise in non sequiter (sequitur)



Heeeeeere's Johnny.

Twiddle twiddle.



Who. Are. You.



My Survivor blog has the latest news and speculation as well as some spoiling about the show.
About Me

Name: Matt
Location: Coralville, IA
I am a Dad and a Husband. An Actor. An Administrator. A Hiker. A Writer. Probably a bunch of other things too. Read my blog and you'll find out more.
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

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