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Items Noted Elsewhere, RNC Edition Part I

  • Gustav prompts talk of altering RNC agenda — “A senior McCain source said Saturday that officials are considering turning the convention into a service event, a massive telethon to raise money for the Red Cross and other agencies to help with the hurricane.”
Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere at 9:00 pm

Items Noted Elsewhere: DNC Wrapup


Via Animated Gifs from

Posted in Items Noted Elsewhere at 7:39 pm

Journal for 26 August 2008


It’s another beautiful summer evening, not quite like the others.  It’s hard to believe school starts next week, but, then again, I just ended my summer course a few weeks ago.  My summer for two credits.

Only 46 more to go.  If all goes as planned, I should be down to 32 the time next summer rolls around.

The weekend was good.  We hit the fair on Saturday–Lisa stuck around a few extra hours to catch a ridiculous band known as Girlicious–and on Sunday there was a two-year-old’s birthday party to attend.

Beyond that, not much.  Over the next few day I hope to catch up on some reading, get a few rides in on the bike, and finish the babyproofing.  I haven’t heard a peep from my professor for my first class this fall yet, so there’s still hope my last week of summer will provide some free time rather than homework.

And with that, I’m going to turn off the background noise known as CNN and switch over to C-SPAN.  More later.

Posted in Journal at 8:11 pm

TraveLog: New York, Part II


Here’s the thing about the trip to New York: Despite all the problems, the trip was actually a lot of fun.  The rain delay was kind of exhausting, but it added to the experience of seeing a game at Yankee Stadium.

We packed a lot into the two days we were in town.  Saturday brought shopping among the hipsters in Williamsburg, as well as an excellent lunch at DuMont Burger.  The evening was spent back in Manhattan, where we ended up watching Michael Phelps win his eighth gold on a large screen in Times Square.  We also had a quick but tasty dinner at Yoshinoya–yeah, it’s a chain, but we don’t have it in Minneapolis, so we didn’t feel like we were violating any of our trip rules.

One of the cooler moments of the trip came Saturday morning when I headed down from our room to get a first-person check of the weather.  The first thing I saw as I approached our hotel’s front door was a young woman running down the middle of Park Avenue, which instantaneously struck me as not the safest thing to do.  I stepped outside, and found the street filled with runners, walkers and bikers.  I’d stumbled across New York’s Summer Streets event, and just over an hour later Lisa and I would join the throngs temporarily taking over the street from the cars.  It was a very relaxing kind of awesome.

Sunday brought a visit to the ridiculously kid-centered neighborhood of Park Slope, as well as a few hours in Prospect Park.  (Upon entering Park Slope we started counting babies and toddlers as a joke, but quit after we realized the count was exceeding ten per minute.)  News that there was a Turner exhibit at the Met literally sent Lisa dancing around our hotel room, so of course we had to hit that, too.  We closed out the day with a good meal at Brasserie Les Halles, a nice restaurant one block from our hotel (and, oops, another chain), as well as a trip to Top Of The Rock.  Our scenic route to Rockefeller Center took us through Bryant Park, which brought the happy discovery of the Bryant Park Film Festival, as well as the what may be the best public bathrooms on the planet.

Friday’s attempt at lunch at Shopsin’s ended in failure after we got there too late, but at least we now know where it is for the next time we visit.  Much of the remaining afternoon was spent wandering around lower Manhattan, including an hour or so at Battery Park.

~ ~ ~

So, in all, we did and saw a lot, and had a lot of fun.  In that sense, I’d have to call it a good trip.  In context of everything else that went down, though, I’d also have to call it a bad trip.  It’s weird–I’ve had good trips before, and bad trips before, but never both on the same trip.

You’d think they’d cancel each other out, but they don’t.  In that way, this trip was definitely unique.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 12:32 am

TraveLog: New York, Part Ib


Driving to work this morning, I was reminded of one detail I neglected in Tuesday’s post. Unpacking the car in Madison, I dropped an unopened can of Dr. Pepper on Lisa’s iPod. The iPod was OK, but it punctured the can, sending Dr. Pepper’s delicious 23 flavors spewing throughout the Saturn’s interior. I tried to do a quick cleanup, but it was an effort in futility, especially considering I was covered in Dr. Pepper myself.

Time to finally get the car detailed, I guess.

I’m not sure what happened to the can. It may have landed 2-3 neighbors down after I chucked it.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 6:27 pm

TraveLog: New York, Part I


Who knows, maybe it was foreshadowing. Wednesday night, packing for our trip to New York, I opened my closet to find that a shelf and the entire clothing rack had collapsed to the floor.

On the way down to Madison, where Mathias would be residing with friends and family while Lisa and I were in NYC, I realized I’d forgotten my headphones, so I picked up a pair along the way. On Friday’s flight to New York, I learned they didn’t work.

The trip in from LGA was delayed when someone snuck onto our bus. On the short walk to our hotel my shorts spontaneously ripped, releasing my phone to the hostile pavement below. That in itself sucked, but what sucked more was the phone getting lodged under the wheels of my suitcase and getting dragged five feet before what I realized what was happening. The phone still worked, but now looked like I’d been using for three years, not three months.

Our hotel turned out to be nice. Unfortunately, Priceline signed us up for a smoking room, and no other rooms were available. This was our first attempt using Priceline, and it will be our last.

Later in the evening, the Yankees game we were headed to was delayed by a tornado warning. “Hen egg-size” hail–that’s a real designation–was reported in nearby cities.

Working on plans for Saturday, I found that an automatic Windows Update had bonked the wireless on my computer. Lisa, reasonably thinking I’d have Internet access on the trip, left the library books she’d picked up on New York back in Madison. As a result, we found ourselves relying on my Treo and the $.20/minute Internet access in our hotel’s lobby.

While all of this was going on, we found ourselves involved in a ridiculous game of phone tag with Laura and Ted. I can call it ridiculous as we called them a number of times, they called us a number of times, and not only did our cell-to-cell calls not connect, but our voicemails didn’t get delivered, either. (Well they didn’t right away, at least. As soon as we landed back in Madison, Lisa turned on her phone, and, ding, two day-old messages from Laura. WTF, Sprint?)

To top things off, a pocket button on my second pair of shorts—shorts of a similar design to the ones that ripped on Friday—went AWOL on Saturday. I wouldn’t care about that much, except that my phone apparently decided to follow it, and at this time may still be riding the D train. I’ve talked to a number of friendly MTA employees since then, and while I’ve heard a number of times that personal items like phones are recovered “more often than you’d expect,” we won’t know for sure until next week, as it usually takes 7-10 business days for small items to make it to the lost and found department.

So, in all, it probably wasn’t our most successful vacation. That doesn’t mean I regret us going, though. More on that later.

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 10:57 pm

TraveLog: Travel Prep


Well, Lisa and I are about to do something we haven’t done on a long, long time:  Go on a vacation. By ourselves.

It took a lot of work, but as of tonight we have packed bags, a borderline-neurotic obsessive-compulsive multi-night  babysitting arrangement set up for Mathias, completed wills should our plane go down in flames, and, drumroll please, $320 worth of Yankees tickets. By which I mean two.

If all goes according to plan, two nights from now we should be in New York watching the Yankees play Kansas City.  After that we should have two full days to visit friends, bum around the city, and pretend that we’re not parents.

Well, try to pretend.  This will be the first time Lisa will be away from Mathias for more than six hours, so the trip may turn out to be an interesting psychological experiment.  Will Lisa enjoy the trip, or will we have to increase our minutes with Sprint?  Stay tuned!

Posted in Journal,Travelog at 11:55 pm

MovieLog: Update on The Dark Knight


Well, it didn’t take long for me to get labled a fanboy.  For what it’s worth, I don’t think The Dark Knight deserves to be at #3 on the IMDB’s Top 250 list.

Posted in MovieLog at 10:22 pm

MovieLog: The Dark Knight


So, The Dark Knight. It’s kind of stupid to review a movie that everyone has already seen, but humor me for a moment.

I could try to avoid repeating everything that’s been said about Heath Ledger’s performance, but, seriously, they guy was amazing. Nicholson was great as the Joker, but comparing the two makes Jack’s version look a child’s toy. Ledger completely owned The Dark Knight, and in doing so posthumously gave us the best acting performance of the year. Heck, he probably gave us one of the best performances of the decade.

The script gave him a lot to work with. The Dark Knight’s Joker is deliciously evil, a masochist with a serious need to fuck with people. Ledger became his character in a way few actors can—Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance in Capote is one of the few relatively recent examples that comes to mind—so his performance is really one to be appreciated.

But you know what? The rest of the cast was strong as well. Sure, things got laid on a bit quick now and then, especially Gary Oldman’s short monologue at the end, but on the whole The Dark Knight was an incredibly well-acted film. If there’s anything disappointing about any of the performances, it’s that many of them will never be repeats: The Dark’s Knight’s willingness to kill off central characters borderlined on shocking.

The story overall was quite strong, and managed to build on Batman Begin’s real-world envelopment of its superhero. While the concept of course remains fundamentally ridiculous, Christopher Nolan has come exceedingly close to making the story seem plausible. The supposed smarts shown by the characters actually damages the film a bit, though, as it makes gaps in the plot painfully evident. (If everyone was as smart as portrayed, someone would’ve thought to run a security check on the passenger ferries.) But, this is a film about a guy in a cape, so there’s probably something to be said about suspending disbelief.

If I have a complaint about the movie, it involves the hospital bombing, which came across as technically sloppy. While it was fun watching the Joker have a field day with explosives, it was exceedingly clear the building behind him a) wasn’t a hospital, and b) had nothing in it. Shortly before the big explosion, a couple of shots allowed you to see straight through the building, a goof so obvious that it was practically daring the viewer to ignore it.

So, that part kind of sucked. I could also complain that The Dark Knight’s Gotham looks quite a bit different from Batman Begins’ Gotham, which bugs me as the storyline only leaves a few years between the two movies. While it’s exceedingly obvious that Chicago was starring as Gotham in both cases, Batman Begins at least bothered to give us some long shots of a  CGI metropolis as if to say,” we know you know it’s Chicago, but play along with us, OK?” The Dark Knight was more “yeah, fuck it, it’s Chicago.”

And since I’m on the topic: Where the hell was the monorail?

Since I’m nearing rant-mode, I should probably just get to the rating: 9/10. (I’d give it a full 10 if not for the technical issues, but they’re there and I can’t get myself to ignore them.)  On the exceedingly slim chance you haven’t seen it already, go and see it while it’s still in theaters.

Posted in MovieLog at 7:21 pm

TraveLog: Crossing Northfield Off Our List


We headed down to Northfield today, partially to celebrate Lisa’s birthday, but also just get out of town for a bit. We’ve been meaning to visit it for a few years now, and in retrospect we could’ve waited a few more. While granting the town that yes, it was Sunday, and, yes, half the town was closed, we still have no idea what the big idea is.

Sure, the colleges were nice, and the downtown was kind of quaint, but a lot of cities have that. Sure, Jesse James gang, but blah blah blah whatever. The most interesting thing that came out of the trip was that Faribault has potential. (Mathias was sleeping, so we took the long way in.) They have a well-preserved, albeit vacant, downtown that could be cool if they get something in it.

Hopefully we’ll have more to write about from next weekend’s trip.

Posted in Travelog at 10:19 pm

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