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Exit ArchiveArchive for October, 2005

Not too long ago, I wrote the following:

The meaning of the show and its raison d’être do not give it license to be bad. The fact that the guy made his project out of love is not an excuse to lie about how bad the project turned out.

And now, it is time for me to somehow explain why I’ve been downloading and watching every episode of something called Hidden Frontier. The site is home to a show—yes, a show—filmed entirely by amateurs and hobbyists. Having shot five seasons and just finishing their sixth, it is an obvious labor of love, a project for whom many plainly toil long and hard, and for which the rewards are, I imagine, purely spiritual.

Oh, and I seem to have forgotten to mention that it’s, er, a Star Trek show. Not surprising, I suppose.

Sharon Savene, a fellow actor from this summer’s CCPT, was in an episode (“Beachhead”) and gave me the link. I blame her for this new distraction.

Everything is shot on green screen (except some outside “away team” stuff for episodes I haven’t seen yet), and it’s all lovingly stilted. It seems the actors are often shot on different days, as they can share entire scenes and never appear in the same shot. Even now, in their sixth “season,” the rough edges have not been filed away, the green glow and the humorous writing all marvelously still intact.

These folks have it all:

Hidden Frontier: On the Bridge

A grumpy but fatherly captain and plucky, rebellious first mate!

Hidden Frontier: Special Effects

Nearly breathtaking CG spacescapes!

Hidden Frontier: Bad Guy

Magnificently melodramatic alien foes!

Hidden Frontier: Panel Explosion

Instrument panel explosions!

And so very much more! (Dare I mention they even have gay characters? GAZANG!)

So I said that passion is no excuse for ignoring mediocrity. In this case, that is certainly true. But I did not say that mediocrity can’t be engaging. Watching David W. Dial’s halting rendition of Ian Quincy Knapp makes me smile. Seeing the chaotic medium-res CG battles in season 6 has me nodding my head in appreciation. Scrutinizing the tenuously spirit-gummed alien prosthetics causes my breath to catch. Even watching the questionable episode where a Federation ship travels through a “rift” and ends up over the Atlantic two hours before the Titanic slips into the icy depths, I was enthralled.

Am I damning with faint praise here? I hope not. Honestly, while I can not say Hidden Frontier is good, it’s definitely fun, and I suppose that’s what it’s supposed to be. If anything, it suffers from the malady that often bogged down numerous episodes of the “official” series, from ST:TNG through Enterprise: tedious, histrionic, eye-rolling interpersonal drama.

I have much more to watch. Many nooks of the Hidden Frontier site remain unexplored. Maybe the brilliant episode is hiding in there somewhere. We shall see. Hats off in the meantime to these super-fans who’ve actually done something with their weekends.

Hidden Frontier: Delegation

Get arrested and give a DNA sample. That’s what these two conservative (of course) Senators think should happen. If you’re arrested. Like fingerprints. No, no potential for abuse here, is there?

Read about it here.

Thanks to Robbyn for pointing this one out to me.

The old house where I used to live growing up is now the site of a haunted house. Well, okay, not exactly a haunted house, but more a haunted field. It’s called “Field of Corpses.” According to the intro at the website, Torrance White, the man who built the house in the 1880s, and his family “found something” during the harvest of 1801. They started disappearing. And then the question is asked: “Why has everyone who has since lived on the property suddenyl [sic] died?”

Well, I haven’t suddenyl died, and neither has my family! So I guess we have to allow them some creative leeway.

I always thought, as a kid, that we had the perfect house to do a haunted house, but the farthest I ever got was stringing up ghosts and bats and things, rigging them with fishing wire so they’d move every time the front door was opened. Now, while they have not gone and made the house itself a haunted house, at least my childhood home overlooks the terror of Torrence’s discovery.

As I grew up in the house, the vast fields around it gradually were torn up and turned into housing developments. You can see that in the satellite image. My dad had the idea, back when I was in high school, to try to save our house from this fate by turning it into a restaurant. People had always been curious about the house and would sometimes stop by and ask for tours (which we didn’t give them… it was our home!). A restaurant would be a good way to save the house and let people see it.

The running and eventual losing of the restaurant is a long story for another time, but the house has since been a place for spacial events (wedding receptions, parties, etc.), and the garage/barn my dad had built behind the house became the new home of a locally-famous pastry shop, Das Meyer. I used to go to the original Das Meyer in junior high, on French class field trips. That the now-old new Das Meyer barn is called the Das Meyer Fine Pastry Chalet gives me a case of the smirking titters.

My mom and sister and others swear that our house was haunted. As a small kid, I made up stories about it being haunted, but I never really saw anything like that. Apparently, the ghosts became more active after the house became a restaurant. My mom said lights used to turn on when no one was in the room. A couple of the waitresses refused to go into the storm cellar, where the wine was kept, because they said it was haunted. My sister and a boyfriend witnessed the sudden and violent opening of a closed door that, after our rec room was built, led to nowhere.

One night, when the house was abandoned and being readied for conversion to the restaurant, some friends and I went up to my old bedroom and gave a Ouija board the ol’ college try. Nothing interesting happened. No lights flickering or doors flying open or wine bottles being stored. Figures I never got to see anything like that.

Well, real hauntings aside, I can not tell you how hilarious this is, this new event at “my house,” and how… bizarre it is. There’s my old haunt (ha ha ha!), being seen by all! I guess my dad’s plan worked.

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Two weeks ago, I did an improv show. Another Cage Match, this time with a team I’d never improvised with before. I’d met Michael a couple times, and he invited me to do the show, but the other two people I’d never met in my life.

We had an okay show, but lost (the other team was very good). After the show, standing in the lobby of IO West, a girl came up to me and told me that I was very funny. It was a nice thing to have happen, especially since I wasn’t sure if I’d been any good at all.

I am mentioning this two weeks late for a reason. I was just going through all past Wren Forum posts in a project not worth mentioning (I’m attaching categories to everything so they can be browsed via yet another variable). I had completely forgotten about this incident last year. How could I have forgotten someone who had an embarrassingly amusing approach to doling out the love?

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I was home sick (again) yesterday. The benefit was that I got to finish a book I had gotten half-way through, then got to start and finish a second book. The books couldn’t have been more different: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, and The Penultimate Peril, the 12th Series of Unfortunate Events book by Lemony Snicket.

The funny thing was that each of these books used a very uncommon French phrase. The fact that they would both use this phrase and I would read it on the same day was entirely amusing.

The phrase was noblesse oblige.

I know, right?

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While I wonder if the concept of Linux command line being easier to use than Windows is a true one, the conclusion Paul Murphy comes up with regarding Mac OS X (which is UNIX with a fancy face) vs. Windows is something with which I wholeheartedly agree!

Read his short article about it.

Hola mes amigos!

Finally, I have updated my main website homepage thingy. With what, you ask? Why, with this:

Lake Powell \'05

Click that sucker or here to see the latest in long-load-time webpages! As a bonus, you’ll get to see some pictures of my recent trip to Lake Powell. And dragonflies. Yes, lots of dragonflies.

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And now this, Startup Sound.

Cute. Not hilarious, but fun. Certainly an enjoyable diversion.

Another iPod Box

What is this, déjà vu? Okay, so I got a Nano just over a month ago. What the hell am I thinking getting another big iPod? Well, my trusty old iPod has been nearly out of space for a while. It’s also lacking features I want. So when Apple announced the new iPods last week, they had what I’d been waiting for. Not video exactly, though that will be fun, but the huge color screen and video and remote through the new dock. I nabbed one immediately using my trusty Disney discount. The thing was shipped two days ago directly from the factory in China. Yes, it got here in two days. That was with the free ground shipping!

Another iPod IN a Box

Unlike last time, where this picture said the two iPods were getting along, this time I felt some tension. The 2G was feeling bad it was being replaced.

Well, I have a very soft spot for the first version of things that become a fixture in my life. I still have my Newton, for instance, though the screen is shattered. I might keep my original iPod in the closet. It will be one of those things I take out every few years and wonder why I have it, then some soft instrumental music will swell in the soundtrack of my life, I’ll get a tear in my eye, and, with a doleful smile, I’ll silently, lovingly place the artifact back behind the Legos.

Or I may let a friend borrow it.

Old and New

Here’s the new and the old, side-by-side. Look at the monster screen on the new iPod! I can vouch for its gorgeousness. And yes, I did get black. It matches my Nano, but that’s not why. In fact, I wanted white, but, truth be told, I do not like the gray scroll wheel. I think it’s a design flaw. That ugly gray circle on the white iPod ruins its beauty. The black wheel on the black iPod is nice.

(That icon in the corner of the pic means you can click to see a bigger version, BTW. It’s a new feature!)

Oh, and it is true: Scratches show up like nobody’s business on the black iPod. My Nano has been living in a Ziploc bag until my Nano Tubes arrive, and it’s already got webs of tiny scratches!

More for Less

The new iPod is much thinner, but holds three times as much as my old one. That is more than enough for all my music. I can add CDs I left off my other iPod. And I’ve been re-ripping some of my CDs into a higher bit rate, which sounds ever so slightly better, especially in the car. Those files take extra room, and now I have it!

More for Less Askew

I can finally use line out in the car, which will sound better. And I understand the audio quality has been improved on the 5G iPod (according to non-Apple reports). This and much, much more, all for $125 less than my old iPod! Amazing, really.

The final picture is one I simply could not help taking. Yes, I noticed the time discrepancy. 3:41 is the total time for that song. And, technically, the title has no apostrophe after “Good,” though, grammatically, it should have.

iPod iPod Demon Demon Days Days

I am enjoying the fact that “Demon Days” is on the box for this iPod. I mean, considering…

I do have a couple design thoughts. I will miss the FireWire cable connectivity, since all I needed was a FireWire 400 cable to get my iPod to connect and play through a Mac. The upside is that the dock connector adds much more functionality to this iPod, including line out, video out, remote control, power, and more. I loved having all the connections come from the top of the iPod. This was perfect for car listening. It’s going to be harder to use the iPod in the car with a cable out the top and a cable out the bottom. When I get a line-out/power combo thingy, there will only be one cable out the bottom, but then the iPod won’t rest easily on the sea beside me. No, the cable out the top was wonderful.

While we’re on the FireWire thing, the new iPod will not sync using FireWire. Only USB. My Mac at home has USB 1, not 2, so I imagine syncing all 18GB of music at home will take half a day, at least. Even with USB 2 at work, getting all my music on this new iPod took 3 hours. It took under 45 minutes with FireWire. Shucks.

It’s a slight thing, but one of the hallmarks of the iPod was its centered headphone jack. That’s gone now. The jack’s on the top right. Aesthetic reasons aside, having the jack right in the middle makes for easier handling. A cable plugged into one side makes the iPod unbalanced.

While I love the new click wheel combo, where the buttons are also the scroll wheel, I have already found on the Nano that this makes it harder to tell when you are pressing the correct “button.” Without the tactile feel of raised buttons, it is easy to hit the wrong control without looking directly at the iPod. Also, it is not possible to “hunt around” for a button with your thumb without activating the scrolling on the wheel. None of this was an issue on my original iPod.

The select button in the center of the scroll wheel is flat. Oops. I imagine, or hope, this will be fixed sometime in the future, but as it is, it is very hard to tell when your thumb is over this button. There is a texture difference, but this does not work as well as a raised button does. This has already frustrated me on the Nano.

I was very interested to see that Apple returned to the sharp-edged front for the iPod. I did indeed love the smooth feeling of the rounded edges of the 3G and 4G iPods, but for sentimental reasons, I’m glad my new iPod shares this feature with my old one. (The Nano has the sharp edge, too.) I believe they had to do this because a rounded front would eat into screen real estate.

Finally, the scroll wheel is smaller, and the screen is bigger. A bigger screen is fantastic and I would not want it to be smaller. But the smaller scroll wheel? Not sure why that was done. Put these two together, and the iPod is now missing a harmonious balance of design. The screen crams to the very edges, while the scroll wheel is swimming in free space. Look at the picture above showing the front of the two iPods. There is a beauty to the old iPod, though its controls seem dated thanks to the sleek new click wheel. Look how perfect the layout is. The sizing and placement of all the elements is sublime. The new iPod, thanks to its design, looks fatter than it is, and looks more functional than beautiful.

Man, I wrote more than I intended. And did I just end up skewering my brand new toy without even having used it? I did. But for all the issues above, there are a dozen improved things that will make my new iPod even more useful in my life.

Yes, it’s me again. You know, I posted a long-ass comment on Robb’s blog, where a highly-heated discussion is raging regarding his critique of a new, Christian-based sitcom. Because I worked long and hard writing it and actually like what I had to say (ain’t I modest?), I’m gonna post it here, too.

But first, you can see what caused all this by reading the first post, then reading the follow-up post.

* * * * * *

Having read these comments, but not having seen the Pastor Greg episodes (they require Windows Media, which I won’t allow on my work Mac (uh-oh, crazy Mac guy posting… look out!)), I have these things to say:

I believe Robb is allowed to say whatever he wants here, especially if a show is as mediocre… okay, crappy as this one sounds. It is true, despite what someone here said, that many shows start off mediocre and then grow into quality. I offer these examples as shows that were nearly unwatchable in their first episodes, but became amazing after one or two seasons: Seinfeld, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The One Show I Forgot the Name Of.

On the other end are shows that start off brilliant, but flame out rather quickly, or at least after three or four seasons: The X-Files, The West Wing, Wasn’t There One with Some Alum from That Show from the ’80s?

In the end, however, you simply can not generalize, and the world of TV is more littered with crappy shows that start off crappy and end up crappy all through their runs than either of my above examples. I can not offer my opinion on whether Pastor Greg is this kind of show until I get the thing up at home or on the PC here at work. Seinfeld, while rough and often unfunny at the start, had definite glimpses of quality and originality. Lost is damn fantastic from frame 1, but already shows signs of fatigue in season 2. There are signs in any show, and I’m sure Pastor Greg already contains clues to its future possibilities or lack thereof.

That the show is meant to be a positive Christian entertainment experience would make its lack of quality all that more unfortunate. I’m an atheist as well, though I hate using that term, and speaking outside the realm of religion, Christianity has a lot of public relations hurtles to overcome. The best pro-Christian show would be one that stays true to Christian values, but that also succeeds in being a GOOD SHOW, Christian or not. A good show comes first. The political/religious/fetishistic reasons for its creation come last.

I recently saw a gay-themed sitcom pilot some guy has been passing out on DVD to whoever will take it. The gay community has already had their breakout hit show that was, at least the first few seasons, hilarious and of high quality. That’d be Will & Grace, in case anyone cares to take umbrage with my summary of its qualities. The limitations imposed on Will & Grace—most glaringly the lack of any meaningful demonstration of gay romance and relationship—might stem from the desire to make the show palatable to a mainstream audience. It might also come from a desire to keep the focus of the show on the humor and characters. (I don’t buy this necessarily, since Grace has had her share of relationship subplots.)

The sitcom pilot I was handed was meant to be something more involved, more representative of a gay couple’s relationship. After watching, my first reaction was mental congratulations. The guy got it made. He took his passion for his project and got it friggin’ done. That’s an amazing accomplishment. All my other reactions after that were, “This sucks major ass.” The meaning of the show and its raison d’être do not give it license to be bad. The fact that the guy made his project out of love is not an excuse to lie about how bad the project turned out.

And so it is with Pastor Greg.

While I may be the audience for a gay-themed show and not the audience for a Christian-themed show, I could enjoy a Christian-themed show if it were a good one. (I wonder if a majority of Christians would say the same thing about a gay-themed show? The fact that I doubt it goes back to bad PR for the Christians and perhaps demonstrates the necessity for something like Pastor Greg, but good.)

I think Adam is brave for posting his comments here. Kudos. I am this close to posting this long response on my own site, but really, I think blogs are more fun with comments and dramatic dialogue! So I’ll leave this up here and hope that it doesn’t get split in two because it’s too verbose.

* * * * * *

My comment was split in two, and I did post here after all. So shoot me! (Which was a horrible show.)

On a dark and gloomy day, some pictures of color. (Yes, I know what that sounds like. But I’m not changing it. I’m too lazy today. It’s much simpler to write a parenthetical aside than to go back and re-word the sentence.)
 

Burbank Rainbow

The only thing I can think to say about this is, “This was the scene today as a three-mile-long swath of banded light fell from the sky, killing 468 people and injuring thousands.”
 

My Grim Lunch

And the one thing I have to ask about this is, “Why?” As in, “Why even bother putting any vegetables in there at all?”
 

Now Less Horrible Tasting!

So much more than one thing to say, but I’ll limit it to two: “Yes, I recall last week before these came out that Doritos were much crappier tasting.” And: “Apparently, the better flavor was achieved through some miracle of electricity!”

Any comments on the unpalatability of my lunch may be sent care of this website.

Dent of ManOn my way to have dinner before my improv show last night, I took my usual route over the hill from Burbank into Hollywood. From Highland, I turned onto Franklin. Usually, I get into the right-hand lane, since the left-hand lane is often taken up with stopped cars trying to turn left. I ended up in the left lane instead. Less than a block from making the turn, I did, in fact, see the two SUVs ahead of me in my lane stopping. I made a quick lane change to the right to avoid this. Just as I finished the change, a guy appeared from behind the first stopped car. “What is he doing there?” I thought. Then I hit my brakes, but I don’t remember: Was there squealing? Did I stomp on the brakes, or just press with controlled firmness?

I watched the man’s face. He watched me through his glasses. He was young, clean-cut, wearing a backpack. “I’m going to hit a person,” I thought. I was resigned immediately to this fact. I continued to watch him, as he did me. He didn’t run or jump back. I didn’t swerve. I didn’t yell. I don’t think I did, anyway.

Did my brakes squeal? My eyes felt wide. I just made a swift lane change, it’s my fault. Why was this guy here? Didn’t he bother to look? It’s his fault. What was he doing there?

I waited to see what would happen. How fast was I going? Not speeding, definitely. Jump out of the way or something…

It was not a hard crunch or any kind of bang, and my car didn’t lurch. It was like hitting a sack. The guy rolled up the front of my car, onto my hood, sideways, fetal. Did he roll off the car? No, I think he stepped. He was up immediately.

I did not panic, and I did not feel uneasy. I felt stupid and resigned. He looked at me with the same look he had before I hit him. As I pulled my car off Franklin to a small side street, he was limping. I stopped on the left curb and turned on my hazards. Before I got out of the car, I took a half-second to pause my iPod, which was playing a duet. Annie and Warbucks had just been cheerfully singing, “Hamlet needed his mother. Woolworth needed his shop. Orville needed his brother, or else… he’d go… KER-PLOP!” It was embarrassing enough I’d hit this guy; I had to pause the treacle.

“I’m so sorry! Are you okay?” “I think I am, yes,” he said with a slight accent. European something. “Are you sure?” “Yes.” He touched himself on the legs, wiggled around. Repeat that exchange few times, and the wiggling. I looked at my hood, where a long, white mark was. I didn’t see the dent until later that night. “Are you sure? I think I hit you pretty hard. I don’t know what to do.” I was very sorry, I did not see him coming from behind the SUV. He was very sorry, he saw the cars stopping and thought he was okay. “Are you sure you’re not hurt? I don’t want to leave you hurt.” How can anyone be sure of something like that on the spot? Was I kidding? “Thank you for even stopping. That was very good of you,” he said.

I should give him my card, I thought. But no, I shouldn’t. I should be happy this wasn’t worse. What if he’s one of those people who will sue me? I shouldn’t give him my card. No, I should. Give him my card. It was a choice between paranoia and the correct thing to do.

I didn’t give him my card. All I did was awkwardly shake his hand. He turned and walked up the hilly side street as I sat for a minute in my car, taking a moment to relax as the yellow hazard lights reflected off the world. He seemed to be walking fine. No limp. Yes, he must be okay. Maybe.

Continuing on my drive (“Annie, Annie, Annie, look what you’ve done for us!”), I was not as shaken as I thought I should have been. I was pensive over how simply and quickly the accident had taken place. They all do, though. But I hit a person. Shouldn’t I be shaking? Nervous? Worried? Shouldn’t I be slowing down?

The guy could still find me and sue me, I suppose, even if he’s not hurt. I don’t think he will. His manner was antithetical to such action. But how can anyone be sure of something like that on the spot? That I may have hurt him more than I believe I did is what gives me pause.

I feel badly that I did not give him my card. I feel worse about that than about hitting him. Hitting him was not a choice. I had no choice. He was there and I was there and neither of us could have done anything. The only real thing I could have done was be brave and give him my card. I found I was being let off the hook, though, so I took the opportunity. I should have been a better person and made sure he had a way to contact me in case he found I’d injured him.

Sometimes I’m not as decent a person as I want or try to be, and that’s more distressing than the accident itself.

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For bit of fun between two sobering posts, I present some easy links to comics from The Joy of Tech. If you laugh at these, you belong.

Crack in the Nano

Greedy Edgar

Serenity: Can’t Stop the Sci-Fi

Just for the record, I know nothing about, am not a fan of, or have ever watched more than one episode of Firefly.

This article on Macworld.com (yes, it’s a Mac-happy site!) showcases another beautiful illustration of modern propaganda. It’s almost laughable, this blatant bias. And on a NEWS site, too. It’s like that whole thing with W’s government passing off pre-packaged propaganda to local news stations as journalism. I mean, just read about it here if you still doubt that our current leadership is sneaky, covert, corrupt, and immoral. There is nothing right or good about someone who could believe this, for instance:

Supporters say prepackaged news stories are a common public relations tool with roots in previous administrations, that their exterior packaging typically identifies the government as the source, and that it is up to news organizations, not the government, to reveal to viewers where the material they broadcast came from.

I see. So in this instance, it’s okay to say you’re behaving like those depraved previous administrations you spend so much time trying to distance yourselves from. And the viewer is meant to somehow have seen this exterior packaging that is not part of the fake news story. And it’s okay to pass the buck this time to someone else, the journalists. Scratch that last one: W’s people pass the buck all the time. That’s how lying works, I think.

I’d laugh, but it’s all to much. Oh, Mr. Murrow, where are you now? (I mean, dead, yeah, I know, but… you know…)

Hello friends. I’ve been working on fine-tuning the Forum, and I simply had to point out a couple of the new improvements.

Check Your Spelling! You can now check your spelling in the Write Posts area. How groovy is that? (I used it just now, in fact.) I have not found a good spelling checker to use while writing comments, but the checker will work when editing comments.

Recent Posts! A list of the most recent posts is now in the sidebar so your brilliant rant will still be easily accessible, even when pushed down the page by useless posts like this one.

Comments Links Go to Comments! Clicking Comments in the header of a post brought you to the post’s page, but not to the comments on that page. This is now fixed. I hear cheering from many lands.

Modifications Noted! Now, if a post is changed after a certain time from the original posting (currently set to 6 hours), an Updated date shows up at the bottom, to the right. It’s beautiful. (This snazzy feature can not be added to comments due to a limitation in WordPress.)

Advanced Photo Tips! In the Adding Pictures to Posts page, there’s new info on how to create padding between the picture and text, and how to make a thumbnail picture open the full-res photo in a separate browser window. WARNING: Contains jargon!

Now Smoother and Creamier! Using a new blend of emulsifiers, The Wren Forum is now 60% creamier than before, with less chunks and lumps. Throw those forks away!

Hybrid Motorcycle

I am, by no means, a fan of motorcycles. They scare the living bejesus out of me. However, if I had to ride one, it would be this: The Yamaha Gen-Ryu Hybrid prototype. Yes, it’s a prototype, but I’d drive it anyway. Even if the knobs were just glued on. I think I love it because it’s an attractive balance of retro futuristic and futuristic retro.

Okay, not minutes after I posted the Wal-Mart thing do I have something else to add.

Just as the new movie about Edward R. Murrow’s brave stand against nut-job Joseph McCarthy is hitting theaters comes this fun post by Aaron Swartz. I call it “fun” only because it’s fun when people make the connections like this that shed important light on dangerous people in power. And O’Reilly is a dangerous person in power if only because he influences so many minds with his bile.

The comparisons between McCarthy and O’Reilly that Aaron offers are not exactly comparing apples to apples or Twinkies to Twinkies. But you can see the connection, and the similarity.

I did not know much about Edward R. Murrow until college. In our first year at B.U.’s College of Communication, we freshmen had to all take one huge class together in an auditorium. It was a crash-course on the history of media. I remember three things from that course:

1) The fact that Marconi invented the radio.

2) The Lyndon B. Johnson/anti-war ad with the little flower-collecting girl getting blown up in a nuclear blast. (Go here to see it. Click on one of the DAISY feeds.)

3) The entire Joseph McCarthy episode of See It Now. (Go here to listen to Walter Cronkite’s NPR commentary from last year, the 50th anniversary of the famous See It Now episode.)

Watching the See It Now episode gave me chills because, while I’m sure I got some schooling on McCarthy in high school, it took this episode of this show to demonstrate to me how much like our Communistic “enemy” we were willing to become in the fight to destroy them. And here we are, 50 years later, history repeating itself, with terror replacing Communism, with evil schemers like McCarthy being replaced by W and his little friends who believe we need to keep freedom from Americans so we can continue to fight for freedom across the globe, with real journalists like Murrow being replaced with repugnant pseudo-journalists like O’Reilly. Who are these people?

I know there were hack journalists back in the ’50s, and that McCarthy was not the only American leader who was supporting the anti-Communist inquisition, but at least someone finally stood up. Murrow’s show was the pivot for America shaking off the haze of fear. Who will do that now? Who will wake us up and allow students 36 years from now to see an exhibit of true bravery that brought some sanity back to America? I hope someone comes forward soon!

This interesting item that Darren posted on his blog has me riled. Though, really, I’m riled so often with this administration, I barely noticed.

Read it and be angry!

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So a quick thanks to Robb for the kind words and the link! And for the laughter! And the tears!

For the record, while I do see the definition that Robb found for ebullience on my Mac here, the following is the one I used when choosing the word for The Wren Forum:

“The quality of lively or enthusiastic expression of thoughts or feelings.”

That came from an old-fashioned dictionary, with paper pages. It’s 12 years old, so perhaps an “archaic” needs to be added before that definition.

The other definition is “cheerful and full of energy.” Well, “cheerful and full of energy” certainly fits, huh?

Last year, after Sven moved out of the apartment, I re-did the sucker. (The apartment, not Sven.) Painted, cleaned the carpets, threw out clutter… and bought furniture.

I’ve lived in this apartment since I moved out to L.A. in 1994, and for all that time, I was still living like a college student. Boxes in the living room. Crappy shelving. Low-rent kitchen stuff. Both Sven and I were over it. He moved out to get a place to, as George Carlin says, keep his stuff. I gained another room to keep my stuff.

Painting was time-consuming and true work, but the real challenge was furniture. I did not want to continue the frat-boy crap fest by buying everything on the cheap, yet spending good money on furniture was not in my makeup. Sure, I had no problem spending money on an HD TV and very nice new front and center speakers (excuse: it was a tax write-off), but spending that same kind of money on something you place drinks on? Hmm. Difficult.

But I got over it by choosing which things were most important to blow the good moolah on. A comfortable, big, custom sofa was the big-ticket item. Then a nice coffee table and matching side table. Then a rug. The rest of it all—shelving, mostly—was semi-cheap Ikea that matched well with the pricey stuff. I can tell you now, spending money on the sofa was a great idea. That sucker is the most comfortable thing I own. I even fell asleep on it Friday when I was home sick. Good money spent well is well-spent good money, I learned.

My apartment has been just shy of complete for maybe 9 months. The last thing I needed was a dining room set. I kept going to Ikea, since I had spent so much on the living room and figured I’d be okay with Ikea in the dining room. The problem with Ikea is that their chairs suck wicked major ass. Sure, I could get a mediocre table with self-storing leaves for $400, but not a single chair in that place was good to sit in for anything longer than a breakfast drive-by cerealing. So my place, while nearly nice, had the old dining room garbage in it, creating an eyesore and reminding me that I was still not truly beyond the dorm phase.

Two weeks ago, when Sven and I were making a pilgrimage to Venice for good pizza—good pizza is very hard to find in L.A.—we walked into a little store where a table set drew my eye. I have begun to learn now to trust the calling of furniture. If something is drawing me toward it, I can trust that it is something I will not regret buying. This table was one of those things. And seeing it made me impatient to finally get a dang table, the shopping for which I’d been putting off, and get my dang place finished!

So Saturday, I roped Marcy into going table shopping with me. Sure, she had to shop for a chair herself, but I still consider it a roping. For a few hours, we went around the Helm’s Bakery (a.k.a. Helm’s Deep) furniture stores, seeing what was out there. Some okay stuff. The best thing I saw would have cost me over $3,000. That’s sans chairs, mes amis!

Then I roped Marcy into going to Venice to see the table from two weeks ago. The set was still there, solid oak with six chairs and two leaves. The store owner had bought it in France, just outside Paris, and brought it back to the U.S. to restore and sell. Marcy liked the set. We discussed any shortcomings it might have (ex: an older style in an apartment with more modern items), but determined it would fit well. And the wicker chairs? I mean, wicker? Well, this was not rattan or nuthin’, and they were incredibly comfortable. The wicker was subtle and actually attractive.

Being as impatient as I am once I set my mind on something, I called the store back maybe 45 minutes after we’d left and told them to consider it sold for the price Marcy’d gotten them down to. Oh, and I wanted them to deliver it the next day, if possible. It was, they did, and here it is. (Click the picture below to see it bigger.)

My New Old French TableAll the worry is gone. As soon as the table was in my place, I loved it. It works perfectly with the décor. It’s solid and beautiful, with simple lines but a sturdy build. It gives my place has that “old furniture” smell, something I like because I grew up with it.

Most wonderfully, though… I’m done! I’m done, I’m done, I’M DONE! My place is done. I have finally graduated from thrown-together dorm space to purposefully-styled home. As my mom said last night in an e-mail, “You’re nesting!” True. I feel grown up. In a good way. I still have a Lego Y-wing in my living room, and until last Monday, I had a train set on my living room floor, but it’s my space, it’s cozy and together and clean and it’s mine.

I’m done!