November 2008 Archives

Live-Blogging the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

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Wrap-up: That's all for the 2008 parade, so the rest of this post is tucked away under the "continue reading" link below. Check back frequently for my normal blog posts, updated (almost) daily, and periodic live-blog events. Have a suggestion for something I should cover? E-mail me at Feedback is welcome too. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

11:55 am: Why is Macy's asking us to believe in Santa Claus? Is it because nobody has the money to buy their own presents, so we should just trust that presents will appear on Christmas Day? I heard a piece on the radio this morning about how to explain to your children that "Santa has limits too," and he can't necessarily bring everything he's asked for.

11:52 am: Andy Williams is so awesome that he doesn't even pretend to use a microphone. He can just chill there and look like he's projecting his voice all the way out to the stands and cameras. From the looks of it, he really believes that he can do it. Ironically, he's the best lip-syncher I've seen all morning.

11:49 am: I LOVE Kermit the Frog. He's got a really cute float, too, sitting on a log under a bridge surrounded by kids, but the subject matter? "I believe in Santa Claus"? Complete with a legion of kids all clutching their hearts and pledging allegiance to Santa? I don't know if I can support that sort of mixing.

Worth watching!

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Keith Olbermann with a "special comment" on the passage of California's Proposition 8. In an era of mediocre television, this clip stands out.

Thanks to Katie for finding and posting this.

How long?

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On its homepage, Google has an auto-suggest feature. Here's what popped up, verbatim, when I typed "how long" in:

-how long does cocaine stay in your system

-how long to boil an egg

-how long does alcohol stay in your system

-how long to cook a turkey

-how long does it take to get a passport

-how long does weed stay in your system

-how long does it take to get pregnant

-how long is the great wall of china

-how long did the great depression last

-how long does implantation bleeding last

Try it yourself, and see what fun responses you get!

Do I need The West Wing anymore?

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I own all seven seasons of West Wing, and I watch them frequently. I've gone straight through the series about five times, and I've watched specific episodes far more than that. This year, I started in August with the first episode, and finished the last season earlier this week. As relevant as ever, especially with the real-life election that West Wing completely foreshadowed, but now I stop to question why the series meant indeed so much to me.

I think back to the excitement I always felt before watching an episode. I'd rush back from class, or lunch, or a meeting, and have just enough time to watch one before heading off again. I quite literally put off papers that were due the next day to watch West Wing. But it was more than just a funny or a dramatic show, this year in particular. It was a show about hope. A show demonstrating that in this America, which we all love so dearly, the kind of government that we could only dream of is possible. A show proving that despite the inherent beaurocracy and dehumanization of "The Government," real people are placed all throughout it, making it run, and trying their very best to make our country better.

And maybe that's why I no longer feel that addiction. The day after our election, I watched the West Wing election in Season 7, in which Congressman Santos beat Senator Vinick. Santos was modeled after Pres.-Elect Obama, and Vinick after Sen. McCain. The episode following, the West Wing timeline sailed past the real-life timeline, as Pres.-Elect Santos worked on his transition, deciding whom to appoint and whom to hire. In real life, Pres-Elect Obama hired Rahm Emanuel (on whom Josh Lyman was based) to be his chief of staff. On West Wing, Pres.-Elect Santos appointed his formal rival, Sen. Vinick, to be his Secretary of State.

And so the hope has been fulfilled. After eight years of ever-darkening nighttime, daybreak has dawned on America. And with a Democratic House and Senate, combined with a Democratic president, perhaps Pres.-Elect Obama will be able to accomplish the tasks that Presidents Bartlet and Clinton never could.

Sorority Girls and Bus Drivers

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Whenever two coach buses pass each other on the road, the drivers always wave to each other. Even if they're from totally different companies, they always get this look like "check us out! We're totally both driving fancy buses."

Today, many sorority girls at Willamette dressed up all nice. I saw two of them pass by each other, on the way to class. Walking in opposite directions, they gave each other the same little wave that I've seen the bus drivers exchange for years.

Dreams are based in experience, right?

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I didn't sleep well last night. Probably something to do with the window being open just wide enough for the wind to blow against the blinds, knocking them together and waking me up about every four minutes.

But the good news is, I remember my dreams. One of them, anyway. You might even call it a nightmare. I was either Pres.-elect Obama or Pres.-elect Santos, I don't know which, and I was stressing out over whom to appoint to my cabinet. I was standing in my wood-paneled transition office, and I was arguing with someone (who very well may have been Barry Goodwin) about which appointees would be best for the job.

Go figure. What a scary/realistic/timely dream!

I think it would be so much fun to appoint cabinet members.

And suddenly, opera is worth it again!

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I really enjoyed an opera today. Not kind of enjoyed it, like with the Portland Opera's Faust a couple of years back. Not somewhat enjoyed it, like with Willamette's Dramatic Vocal Arts' Die Fledermaus last spring. No, I actually enjoyed an entire opera, three-and-a-half hours though it was.

Dr. Atomic, John Adams' newest opera, premiered a couple years ago with the San Francisco Opera. I guess it's hit the big time now that the Metropolitan Opera's performed it. Not only that, but they sent it live to movie theaters all over the country in high definition, which is how I saw it in Portland.

The opera's subject was the coolest part of the entire show. Science has always fascinated me, as has politics, and their intersection always causes fireworks. Galileo and Copernicus, Darwin, Marie Curie, even Albert Einstein. But no bigger fireworks have erupted than those from the Manhattan Project. The beaurocratic back-and-forth was the most fascinating past of Dr. Atomic: the general who wanted to go forward with the test no matter what, the meteorologist who was ordered to give a more favorable weather forecast, the low-ranked scientist whose warnings about the test were completely

Dr. Atomic - in a movie theater!

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Tomorrow morning, I'm heading up to Portland to watch the Metropolitan Opera's live broadcast of Dr. Atomic, John Adams' awesome new opera (I think it premiered during my freshman year here). John Adams is a minimalist composer, which is SO COOL, and he also writes about contemporary historical events. Tight.

This opera in particular is about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father of the atomic bomb," and his friends at the Manhattan Project in the 40's. What a thing to write an opera about!

While we're talking about the Met, you can Ask Figaro if you need help deciding which opera to see. It's a really fun quiz. Check it out!

I saw another of John Adams' operas in person, a couple years back. The Portland Opera performed Nixon in China, which was a total trip. The minimalist music, plus the incredible staging, made for a fabulous performance.

Fabulous was the "word on the street" this morning on Sesame Street. The yellow monster said that it means "wonderful."

Even more West Wing :-)

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So as I was checking Will's father's title for the previous post, I found this incredible blog section that consists exclusively of creative fiction with Will Bailey in it. Cool!

There's this really great story about Will conspiring with Amy Gardner to keep Josh away from the First Lady's meeting with a certain Republican congresswoman. Check it out:

Librarian of Congress

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Quite a fancy title, "Librarian of Congress." He's on OPB right now with US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. Reminds me of the West Wing episode where Pres. Bartlet meets Will Bailey, and remarks that Will's father has the only title grander than President of the United States:

Supreme Allied Commander of Europe's NATO forces. No joke. 

Sesame Street

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So I'm watching Sesame Street, and they're talking about families today. Risky, to be sure, even without the diversity component. But then somewhere in between the families with single parents and the families with grandfathers, and the Asian and Latino families (OMG! Asian familes exist? I had no idea!), they showed a family with two fathers. Hallelujah! I'm so proud of Sesame Street, that they take seriously their responsibility to educate a generation of children (and their parents) to accept diversity, and reject bigotry.

I seem to remember a West Wing episode during which the congressional Republicans wanted to cut Sesame Street's funding because of this specific issue. Kind of a West Wing day... :-)

On a related note, I learned from the Asian family that long noodles are special because they represent a long life. Also, the oranges at the end of the meal represent a sweet life. And the youngest child pours the tea for the whole table. "Actually, I'm not the youngest. But babies can't pour tea." Ain't that the truth!

"Jefferson Lives"

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This morning my mom sent me a page from the NY Times web site with a history of events that occurred on this day.

It tickles me that Eleanor Roosevelt died on the same day as Nixon's "last" press conference, when he lost his gubernatorial election. You wouldn't think that Eleanor Roosevelt had stayed alive that long, until 1962. Kind of like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams (who were fierce political rivals) dying on the same July 4th in 1826. Adams' last words were "Jefferson lives," not knowing that Jefferson had in fact died hours earlier. There's a great West Wing episode about that, and it's one of Pres. Bartlet's favorite stories.


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I was walking to a meeting today at a downtown coffeeshop. The air was kinda misty, and Rhiannon (the Collegian's fab production manager) called it "spitting." As in, not drizzling, and not completely dry, but somewhere in between. Spitting.

I'm not sure whether "spitting" is an actual Oregon thing or just what Rhiannon calls it, but Oregon does have some strange weather. A couple years ago, when I first started going to school here, I was shocked to see rain and sunshine at the same time. My skin was so confused to feel the warm sunlight and cool drizzle on my skin at the same time.

So sometimes up here, it's sunny, which I love. Sometimes it's stormy, which I don't love. And every once in a while, I experience new and exciting weather that I've never seen before. Cool!

Daylight Savings Time

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Thank God that it's no longer dark at 7 am, so that the schoolchildren have light by which to harvest their family's crops before their classes start.

"It's been a long time coming, but I know: A change is gonna come"

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"It's been a long time coming, but I know: A change is gonna come." -Sam Cooke, "A Change is Gonna Come," 1964

What a night! I realized, mid-way through President-Elect Obama's speech, that this is the first time I can remember that we won. Certainly the first time that I was aware of its significance. It's an historic election for the Black community, and he's the first liberal president(-elect) in 28 years.

But more than that, it's the hope I felt for the future. Yes, we can change the government! Yes, we can fix the problems that have persisted for far too long! And yes, we can choose the best candidate for the job regardless of his name or the color of his skin.

And I can't help but wonder, now that this once-impossible election has been won. Maybe, someday, possibly, could a Jew be elected?

But for now, congratulations, Pres.-Elect Obama, and I can't wait to see you in the White House.  

"It's been a long time coming. But tonight, because of what we did on this date, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America." -President-Elect Obama, in his acceptance speech tonight

Election Weather

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Sen. Obama's got a comfortable lead, according to most polls. The contest now depends on turnout.

Oregon scared me today. Heavy rain means that voters don't really want to go out and vote, according to West Wing. That's bad news when one candidate is visibly stronger in a state, and supporters think their vote doesn't matter.

Luckily, it doesn't matter here in Oregon, since they're 100% mail-in. I called my mom in California, and she said that tomorrow should be clearer down there. Cross your fingers for the rest of the country...