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June 2004 Archives

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June 30

I Dare You. Madeleine L’Engle feels very strongly about the TV movie made of A Wrinkle in Time

I expected it to be bad, and it is...

Oh, the Happy Medium, that terrified them. And Mrs. Which, who is not a witch at all but a wise old woman. I felt like I was really “in’’ because people were condemning it right away. But they were Christians, mostly, and that made me very sad.

And she's a great old lady about other things.

Such as I sometimes think God is a s--t—and he wouldn’t be worth it otherwise. He’s much more interesting when he’s a s--t.

I dare you to believe in God. I dare you to think [our existence] wasn’t an accident.

It takes a lot of intellect to have faith, which is why so many people only have religiosity.

June 29

Wimbledon (the football team) have finally dealt with reality. Wimbledon to change name.

My parents took me here before my sister was born.

June 28

On a referral by world-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster, here's an article about the dominance of Montgomery County schools on It's Academic, especially when compared to Fairfax County. There's some elitist sneering from Thomas Jefferson. I wonder if there's a marquee effect in Northern Virginia whereby the smart kids go to TJ and nobody else bothers to compete.

To those in the community who disdain the game show mentality in quiz bowl I say - why bother with the buzzers? If you're interested in pure knowledge, why should hitting a buzzer faster matter? Why don't the purists just hold written contests? Get a bunch of players in a room, give them a sheet with 50 questions on it. They have five minutes to finish and you're done. No need of the expense of a buzzer. You don't need moderators to read since the questions are printed. You don't need an entire day. You don't have to write as many questions. Mirror the tournament throughout the country and you could theoretically have a national tournament taking an hour.

So I challenge the purists - if you hate the game show trappings so much, drop the buzzers, drop the travel and reduce the competition to pure knowledge. I don't think it'll be much fun, but I've been wrong before. Still if you need the buzzers, you're not as pure as you think you are.

June 27

Watched The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited. Ernie Anderson and Doug Joubert hated it. Whitlock liked it. I just kept getting reminded how much Charisma Carpenter looks like the young Mary Tyler Moore. So I suggest male baby boomers just get the July 2004 issue of Playboy and use your imagination.

June 26

We came home to find some concrete work done on our street. The cicadas are mostly gone. The report from our pet sitter said that Kauai only came out from hiding today. Guess he really missed us.

Finished watching A Wrinkle in Time which we watched with Miranda. I thought it was all right. I definitely recommend seeing it once if you're a fan of the book. The story's been updated to the present. Overall, the acting was excellent, the special effects occasionally lame, and the story sometimes confused. I've learned that it was originally meant as a 2-hour theatrical release, then a four-hour television mini-series, then in its current form as a three-hour TV movie. With all these changes in length and medium, it lost some storytelling coherence.

June 25

Today we went home. Whitlock has vowed to return only when it's cool during the slack times. That probably means December or January. Miranda and I played Counting Zzzzs in the lounge car.

A huge amount of water outside the tram
The water finale of Catastrophe Canyon.
A Potemkin Flation Building
Look! It's where Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden work.
Muppet storefront with a huge Kermit on the wall, Miss Piggy above the awning and a generic Muppet loosely resembling Elmo on the awning
In honor of the biggest Muppet fan I know.

Carousel horse from Mary Poppins.
June 24

Arrived at Animal Kingdom at 8:30, well ahead of the scheduled 9 am opening because there's really only one thing to see there - Kilimanjaro Safaris - a ride in an open air vehicle among the animals of the African savannah. Unlike the other parks where guests spread themselves among the prime attractions, this is pretty much it in Animal Kingdom. After the initial stampede, the throng was stopped at Discovery Island for a few minutes to watch an "Opening Ceremony" that involved Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and an SUV. Mickey's truck led the mob to Kilimanjaro Safaris. I was reminded of the Pied Piper and wondered if he was leading us to an unpleasant demise.

The wait was brief for Kilimanjaro Safaris although there was much rudeness and pushing by guests. The ride itself was pretty much like Lion Country Safari, except for the part where poachers are caught and an animatronic baby calf sits inside a truck. Afterwards, Miranda bought a small stuffed lion that makes a roaring sound when you squeeze it. Hence she calls it Roary. The cast member who sold is to us went to work for Disney right out of high school.

We took the train to the Conservation Station. Being hot and tired we sat through the entire cycle of Rafiki narrating short films about endangered animals. There was one room filled with butterflies, but we could only see it through the glass. The characters of Rafiki, Stanley and Pocahontas were available for pictures. When Rafiki went into a cast room, a kid pulled his tail and I yelled at the kid, obviously not loud enough. There was a part called the Affection Section where you could pet domesticated animals. We finished by having lunch at the Tusker House. Whitlock decided that she and Miranda would be too tired to go out in the evening so I was free to do what I liked.

Animal Kingdom has the pseudo-Swahili tagline NaHTaZu as in it's "Not a zoo." Let me add a few new pseudo-Swahili words like YeSitiZ, iTZaZu, and ITZeNeFFingZuDaMiT. Sure it's a zoo with rides, immaculate landscaping that costs upwards of $50 to get in, but it's still a zoo. I saw animals on Kilimanjaro Safari I could see in Washington for free. I'd been told that you really can't spend a day in Animal Kingdom. I think that if you're not into thrill rides, it's not even worth a morning.

So I set off solo in the evening for Disney-MGM Studios. The early evening parade was just taking place and there were characters of Mary Poppins and Bert on a float.

I headed straight for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire - Play It! I must have missed where other quizbowl bloggers may have mentioned this attraction. The audience is 6 times larger than the real Millionaire set. There's a time limit on answering questions in the hot seat. The prizes were pins, caps, shirts and the top prize was a cruise.

I honestly have no idea how to get in the hot seat. The first qualification was a fastest fingers involving all 500 some people. I must have been too slow. I know I answered every question correctly while the first contestant played, but I wasn't in the top ten. There were only two hot seat contestants before they kicked everybody out for the next group. If I was a real geek, I would have gotten back in, but for some reason I wanted to see the rest of the park. The host was named Ken and he looked like Stat Boy with animatronic eyebrows.

I went next to the Disney-MGM Studios Backlot Tour. It begins with the shooting of guests in some scenes resembling Pearl Harbor. One girl was in the engine room trying to keep the boat running while water poured on top of her. The other three guys were on the deck of the boat avoiding fire from the air. They mixed this footage with some special effects, dramatic music and dialogue to produce a mildly amusing sequence. The girl was so spaced her scenes came off pretty funny.

After that we took a tram ride that showed some of the props from recent Disney productions. A part of this included Catastrophe Canyon where lots of fires broke out in a canyon with oil wells and a big tanker truck. Then a whole lot of water drowned it out.

Next I walked down cardboard front depictions of New York and San Francisco. Then I stumbled into Jim Henson's Muppet-Vision 3-D. In the waiting area, there was a large picture of Jim Henson depicted as Muppet. Included among the 3-D effects in the film were real time effects in the theater. This included animatronic Statler and Waldorf, someone in a Sweetums costume and bubbles and water sprinkling on the audience.

Finished off with The Great Movie Ride where you ride through scenes in some movies. After I got out of there it started to rain so I spent half an hour waiting it out by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. When it started to let up, I got Stitch's Great Escape t-shirts for Whitlock and Miranda. Then I said goodbye to Disney till next time and a shout out goes out here to a previous Disney buddy.

Tonight was the worst traffic getting out of the park. I also got lost and took a wrong turn on I-4. It was the night of the NBA draft and from listening to sports talk radio in Orlando, you realize it's a one-team town - all Magic, all the time. Seems like everytime I tuned in to local guys, it was all about Tracy McGrady.

Ian, Victoria and Miranda hug behind the cake
A small birthday celebration.
A bunch of balloons including a star shaped one saying Happy Birthday
Making up for a wet carpet.

The ibis.

The crane.
A small store in the shape of a soft ice cream cone
The Twistee Treat.
Miranda dunking her hands in a fountain
A fountain means going in elbows deep.
Miranda beneath a mist shower
Miranda at the Epcot fountain
Miranda is happy anywhere there's water.
Miranda and Whitlock before figures of Dory and Marlin
This tableau did not have Mr. Ray.

I finally got a picture of Gecko. This was outside our resort suite.
June 23

Today for Miranda's 8th birthday, my father treated the group to breakfast at IHOP. The waitress brought a chocolate face pancake and led the singing of "Happy Birthday". Victoria and Ian stayed with us and went to the pool while the adults went shopping. I went to get the cake from Costco.

Meanwhile, we'd been getting a wetness on the floor near the air conditioning. While it was fixed, the cleaning staff still had to sop up the moisture. So we had Miranda's small birthday celebration over in the other suite. Fairfield tried to make it up to us by allowing us until noon to check out and sending up some birthday balloons. We added a Fairly Oddparents candle and other decorations as well as Spongebob to the cake.

June 22

We went to the Magic Kingdom and headed straight for the Haunted Mansion. We'd prepared Miranda for several days so she wasn't very scared. After that it was straight to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which Miranda thought was too short. Then we took in Cinderella's Golden Carousel. It stopped after just two revolutions and vowed that we stay for another ride unless they kicked us out. No one did anything so we got a full five revolution tour.

Next up was the Hall of Presidents. Zachary Taylor looked quite realistic, but Richard Nixon's hair looked too dark. We went through to the circle in front of the castle to get to lunch at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe. There was a show going on the castle steps that we had to navigate around. A new attraction called Stitch's Great Escape is scheduled to open later this year. On the way to the Walt Disney World Railroad stop in Frontierland, we saw an ibex and a crane being fed by guests.

We took the monorail back to the Transportation Center. We sped past the Grand Floridian Resort where a wedding couple posed in front of the coach from Cinderella complete with footmen in white wigs and livery. Unfortunately, the monorail raced by too fast for me to get a picture.

After the rest back at the resort, Whitlock and Miranda got soft ice cream at the Tastee Treat on 192. We went back to Epcot in the evening. A Scottish-Canadian band called Off Kilter (because they wore kilts) sang "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" and "Sweet Home Alberta". We saw The American Adventure and El Rio de Tiempo. Whitlock swears she got nausea just being in the fake Mexico. She thinks Aztec descendants mystically put Montezuma's Revenge in the air. I think she smelled Mexican food in the restaurant, which she doesn't like.

Miranda and I watch the Illuminations fireworks show relatively close to the water. Whitlock stayed by the stand where she bought a Diet Coke. Instead of being scared by the fireworks, Miranda just chose to cover her ears. I remember the intense heat from the flames and the image of The Scream projected on North America.

June 21

This was our first day at Walt Disney World. AAA Diamond Parking enabled us to park without having to take the tram.

The first thing inside the gates are huge monuments representing Leave a Legacy. You get your picture taken and have it etched in metal on the monuments in squares about a half-inch by a half-inch. I have this vision of some kid saying,"There's Dad with his college girlfriend. There's Mom with her college boyfriend. There's Dad and Mom with me and my older sister. There's my stepmom Heather with her parents. There's Mom with her partner Edna...."

I rode with Miranda in Spaceship Earth which still scared her a little bit with the darkness and the steepness. I tried to relate it to Civilization by pointing out when particular technological advances occured.

Went over to Universe of Energy, which is famous for the theater that you don't realize is a ride until it breaks up. One of the cars was missing today so it was obvious it was a ride. Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Nye, Jamie Lee Curtis and Alex Trebek are featured. This made me think that Counting Zzzzs should include cards for old college roommate, game show set and Albert Einstein.

Journey into the Imagination with Figment has restored the favorite little dragon. There's too much Eric Idle in the ride, unfortunately. It's not as charming as the original I remember. The Imageworks section at the end of the ride was a great deal fancier than I saw 19 years ago, but most of that old stuff is pretty standard on a home PC. We got a light-up Figment ball at the gift shop.

We ate lunch at the Coral Reef Restaurant in The Living Seas, right in front of the huge aquarium. The tank held sharks and rays. A diver fed the fish and waved to the children at the window.

There was an exterior tableau of some characters from Finding Nemo without any Mr. Ray. A cast member operated a remote control Nemo on wheels that guests could have a picture taken with. This was the alternative to a human in a Nemo costume.

Finished off with the ride Living with the Land. The old lady working this ride had been there for nine years. That's a tough job to hold continuously for that length of time.

Whitlock didn't have the energy to go back out, so we stayed inside and watched shows we'd taped. We started with the Tripping the Rift episode "Android Love". T'nuk takes Six to the equivalent of Chippendales where the sexbot finds an old friend named Ten. Six helps Ten and some other sexbots escape in Chode's shuttle. T'nuk has to hitchhike home.

Chode gets a replacement teen sexbot named Angel. She wants nothing to do with Chode while Whip falls madly in love with her.

A bounty hunter is after Ten and Six as well for aiding his escape. Chode saves them from the bounty hunter with a Publishers Clearinghouse trick.

Went on to the Cold Case episode "Glued". An 8-year-old boy is murdered on January 22, 1980. The case is re-opened because Lieutenant Stillman was the primary. He lost his marriage over this case and his daughter is pregnant.

It is mentioned, but not noted that the boy was hit only once, got knocked out, but died from hypothermia. In my mind, this points directly to the parents who would run away after one punch. Real killers would have finished the job.

The murderer was a clerk in a small store who let the kid slide on payment because he was so poor. That night, the kid shoplifted some model glue for the black kids on the corner. The clerk was a bit of a white supremacist who felt betrayed by the kid.

There was a poignant moment where the kid's mother goes out in the snow in her shorts to pray to have her burdens lifted. When her son dies, she loses faith, believing this was God's answer to her prayers.

An anachronism was the song "Slip-Sliding Away" which did not become a hit until the fall of 1980.

A gentle circling and rising ride
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish.

Whitlock and Miranda get an autograph from Sam I Am's nemesis. Does anybody know what his name is? He signed his autograph as "Guy".

Miranda at the Citywalk Fountain.
Victoria, Miranda and Ian
The cousins in Florida.
Goddard and Jimmy Neutron on the side of Studio 42
The exterior of Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Adventure.
Dispensers of M&Ms in various colors
Mix your own bag of M&Ms.
Includes the copy of A Christmas Story won by Chris Barylick and the card with the first question whose answer was Groundhog Day.
Miranda behind a ball blaster
Miranda behind the most dangerous weapon she'll wield until she gets her driver's license.
Miranda still not awake
She wakes up slowly.
Train axles that look like barbells
Did a few curls with these before we left.
Quaint Victorian
Ashland, Virginia home.
Rail cars with water overwhelming the tracks
Flooded rails near Richmond.
A man walking abandoned area
After watching too much CSI, one always suspects that a man walking alone in an abandoned area has just finished burying a body.

Consolation final between Blake and Detroit Country Day.

Brooks and Tina Sanders. Compare with Brooks in 2002.
June 20

Woke up early to go to Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando. There was no line for The Cat in the Hat, but Miranda was abit shook up by the sudden movements. Then we rode the Caro-Seuss-el which is a carousel where you ride weird Seussian creatures. Miranda didn't want to ride One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish because it goes too high. We wandered through If I Ran the Zoo which ended with a small waterpark.

Around 11:00 it was already getting too hot for Whitlock and Miranda. We met a few characters such Sam I Am, Sam I Am's nemesis and the Grinch. We ate lunch at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous just before the crowds began to build. Miranda played at the Citywalk Fountain, an undulating black and white tiled square from which water spurts out at random intervals. Citywalk is a section of Universal Orlando for which you don't have to pay except for parking.

As recommended by all the guidebooks, we went back to our room during the heat of the afternoon before returning to Universal Studios Florida within Universal Orlando. We were going into Jimmy Neutron's Nicktoon Blast, but the ride description was too scary for Miranda. Instead we shopped in the souvenir store which included a sweets section where you could mix your own colors for a bag of M&Ms. I also had to take a picture of the awning reading "Silver Screen Collectibles" in honor of Silver Screen Test.

Went to Curious George Goes to Town where both Miranda and Whitlock had a lot of fun shooting robber ball blasters at targets. We were the only people in the place except for the cast member cleaning up. Nine o'clock hit and the park was closing. Whitlock loved the faux art deco architecture as we walked past the Hollywood section and the streets labeled Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood Boulevard and Rodeo Drive. The Universal globe at the entrance looked mysterious, bathed in either steam or dry ice.

June 19

Had a nice long breakfast through Southern Georgia. Miranda took a while to wake up and just looked outside the window. My father got to breakfast early and sat with a married pair of retired Filipino doctors who were taking their granddaughter to their home near Daytona Beach.

Miranda, Whitlock and I went shopping on our own at Belz Outlets. We ate lunch at a MacDonald's decorated in the style of ancient ruins. There was a gecko outside our seat, but none of the pictures came out. We stopped at Costco to order a cake for Miranda's birthday on Wednesday. This Costco sold gas at $1.82 and looked twice as big as the Gaithersburg store. A very nice associate helped me find a couple of Dockers. On a Saturday afternoon, this Costco was very quiet with hardly any lines at all.

We drove on the John Young Parkway which I assume was named for the astronaut and unnecessarily on the toll roads Florida Greenway and Osceola Parkway. Our room in the Fairfield is huge and includes a jacuzi. Although our suites are adjacent, they are not connected. Whitlock and I drove out to Publix to load up with groceries. This store was incredibly busy.

June 18

We started our trip to Orlando. We took the Autotrain and upgraded to a sleeper. It's only six by eight feet, but it has a toilet and a shower in the same space. It reminded me of what is must be like to live in space. At the same size as the inside of the Apollo command module, zero gravity would make greater use of the ceiling space and make it seem even larger. It also reminded me of the inside a submarine, although it's probably smoother in the sub.

In the afternoon, Whitlock was out in the hall pointing out sights to Miranda, Victoria and Ian, mostly animals like deer. There was a boy about five there with his father and his younger brother, but Dad was paying more attention to the baby, so he hung with Whitlock. He seemed to find everything she said interesting or amusing.

As we passed Ashland, Virginia, there were many quaint Victorians in sight of the tracks.

The train was stopped for several minutes near Richmond as the tracks were checked. As you can see by the picture, some of the rails were flooded.

After dinner, the train sped up and tossed us around pretty roughly.

June 17

In the discussions about whether to pitch to Barry Bonds, you often hear the statement that in baseball you can avoid the star offensive player entirely and take him out of the game. I submit that in the other sports, you can do that also. Double or triple-team Shaquille O'Neal or Michael Jordan and they won't score. Send your entire defense to sack Michael Vick and he can neither run nor get a pass off. As in baseball, the key to counteracting the suffocation of a superstar means other players too dangerous to be given scoring opportunities. This means a hitter who will deliver when the star has been walked, a player who can hit an open jumper when the future Hall of Famer is double-teamed or the receiver left one-on-one against a defensive back.

I also believe it is harder to avoid the great defensive player in baseball. You can run to the other side of Bruce Smith. You can choose to take the three-pointer instead of challenging Yao. But you can't really choose not to hit it to Andruw Jones. Of course, this leaves out that the primary defensive actor in baseball is the pitcher, whom you can't avoid, like the goalie in hockey. I think the goalkeeper may mean a little less in soccer, since the goalmouth is so large, you could overwhelm a great keeper with numbers if his defenders are incompetent.

June 16

The Red Sox are offering games on high-definition in movie theaters. One might leap to the conclusion that this practice could siphon games off broadcast and basic cable television. As long as alternative sports content is readily available I don't think this will happen. In the old days, the only way you could watch a major boxing match was in a cinema on closed-circuit television. I doubt movie theaters will be the outlet for telecast again unless the nature of society changes drastically. More and more, people just prefer their entertainment experiences in the comfort of their own home.

June 15

Sad story on Pandamania. Judging by this critique, Blake Gopnik looks like a suspect. The Freedom Panda pictured was just a block away from my office and I passed it on the way to the subway. I wanted to photograph it, but it was gone before I got a chance.

Watched the Tripping the Rift episode "Love Conquers All...Almost". The families of both Dark Clown Leader Bobo and Confederation leader Adam are vacationing on the same planet. Meanwhile, Chode learns that two beings who brokered a peace are receiving some huge monetary award that is the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize. The purple guy then plans to bring the Bobo's daughter Babette and Adam's son Adam 12 together and bring peace between the Dark Clowns and the Confederation, winning Chode the cash award.

Chode tricks Babette and Adam 12 into believing he's shooting a reality show. Nothing happens until Chode tells them that if they fell in love, it would upset their parents. The fathers demand the children back but by this time, they've escaped to the planet's surface. The couple threatens to jump into a volcano for their love but stop short when Chode reminds that their bratty siblings will inherit the family fortune.

There's a froglike creature named Shmoda who verb word order changes his, like a certain Jedi master. The crew welcome the couple aboard in Love Boat uniforms. Whip keeps quoting from the wrong 70s TV show.

June 14

In 1992, John Podhoretz had just finished the book Hell of a Ride about his experiences in the White House while Reagan and the elder Bush were in office. Richard Cordray ran unsuccessfully for Congress, but is now the Franklin County, Ohio Treasurer. Greg Proops was on Whose Line Is It Anyway? What they all have in common was that they were playing College Bowl in 1981. Are there quiz bowl players from 1993 who are famous for their work outside the quiz realm?

This is meant as an observation, not a criticism. This is not an old fogey tirade that ends,"In my day, well-rounded people played quizbowl, not the Sumerian love poetry experts you have now." Greater specialization can actually speak well of the field. The competition may have evolved to the the degree that it leaves little room for other activities. How many famous people are adept in two different areas of endeavor? On the other hand, has what was once a casual extra-curricular activity now become a geek ghetto?

Still, it's very hard to make a living in quizbowl. I'm fortunate to have a job that pays me well enough to get things I want and affords me time to do stuff I like. I don't have the dedication to be a political journalist or a stand-up comic, though I wouldn't mind the money Podhoretz and Proops are making.

Anyway, e-mail me some famous names with quizbowl backgrounds. At the very least, we can tout them in recruiting.

June 13

Went to the PACE Championships at the University of Maryland. I brought a cake which was quickly finished.

I read while Sara kept score. She's a friend of Jessie Connolly who subs at Gaithersburg High School and doesn't have a kind word to say about Bruce Beard.

I was reading in the consolation round which frequently seemed to not have a team show up.

It was good to see Tricia Southard, reading questions again after her brain surgery. Other bloggers I could identify were Tim Young, David Bykowski and Tom Chuck.

Saw the much-downsized Brooks Sanders and his wife Tina. They had some problems with the organization including unreturned e-mails. The organizers were ambivalent whether to put up the elaborate buzzer system and set previously used for the National Academic Championship and other tournaments. It's a lot of material not lightly dragged around.

From the Brooks viewpoint, both NAQT and PACE lack organization and pizazz. Chip has the wrong pizazz and bad questions. He thinks a national quiz organization and tournament can't really be run efficiently except as a full-time job. On a personal level, he likes everybody he's met in all the organizations, except Chip who he doesn't hate. He's afraid that PACE will only last as long as there are cannon fodder teams to keep the size up.

Strange that both of us old guys believe in the pizazz, in the inherent game show nature of the competition which the fundamentalists eschew. I don't think anybody has a finished product and nearly everyone has the best interests of the community at heart.

About the competition. I got to see the consolation final where Eubie Blake beat Detroit Country Day. The boards have Maggie Lena Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies from Richmond winning the tournament.

Saw the Enterprise episode "Zero Hour". Pretty much covered by the Enterprise destroying one sphere and thereby the entire expanse problem. The Andorians arrive in the nick of time to fight off the Xindi Reptilians. Archer destroys the weapon and is apparently dead.

Then we get to the Enterprise returning to World War II San Francisco. Archer is in a Nazi field hospital with some alien in a Nazi uniform looking over him.

There are too many questions to ask and of them assume that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga have writing, storytelling abilities or creative skills, which they don't. Yeah, I'll still watch next season. It may be a latter day Manos the Hands of Fate for all I know.

On the slide at the cookout.
A ginger cat among leaves
Fred the jungle cat.
June 12

I hope this really means Angelos has thrown in the towel.

If the Expos wind up in Washington, Angelos will begrudgingly accept the move.

"Unfortunately, I have no choice," he said. "After all, Washington is also my capital."

Went to a cookout at the Beyes' house. Gene Beye is the director of the chuerb choir at Rockville United Methodist Church. The cherubs are about age 3 to first grade. Miranda is now in the children's choir. The attendees consisted of the families of the those in the cherub choir and children's choir.

Miranda played on the swings and other playground equipment. I started juggling three balls of ridiculously different size and weight. I taught a little bit of juggling to a teenager named Jason. By the end of the evening he was actually juggling those three balls. A ginger cat named Fred came to visit and hunt voles in the bushes.

When we got home we watched the Cold Case episode "Lover's Lane". It's August 1986. A teenage couple neck in the park. The boyfriend sees a man digging through trash. Soon the girl is raped and killed and the boy is left for dead.

In 2004, the guy digging for trash has been released from prison due to DNA evidence. The boyfriend is interviewed and he develops a crush on Lily because she resembles the dead girl. Her mother was apparently a single mother in the health professions. There was also the fat girlfriend, the guy at the movie theater and the older guy.

Older guy was run off by the mom, took the girl's $200 and wears the laughable skinny tie in the flashbacks. Turns out the guy at the movie theater was hounded by his father into bringing home girls for the father to rape. The father looked uncomfortably liked Ron Jeremy. When the dead girl rejected him, the father raped and killed her in the park while the son assaulted the boyfriend.

Finished off with the CSI: Miami episode "Innocent". A porn star is found dead near a couple making out in the park. The first suspect is the president of the adult film company. He admits to a fight, but not to killing her. There is an incriminating audio tape that points to him, but it turns out to refer to doctoring her birth certificate. She'd been underage when she first worked in porn.

Still, the porn moguls get a work release inmate to drop hydrochloric acid and ruin the tape. A red herring is a stalker who breaks into the porn star's apartment to leave a small part of himself on her bed.

The murderer turned out to be the guy half of the couple that found her. There's a sub-plot of another porn star coming on to Speedle. Also, Rick Stetler of Internal Affairs is harassing Horatio while dating Yelena. He knows that Suzie's girl is Ray's, not Horatio's.

June 11

For the day off, Whitlock and I watched the Enterprise episode "Countdown". The Reptilian Xindi have captured Hoshi in order to decrypt one of the other three launch codes for the Death Star. T'Pol, Reed and Mayweather return from a sphere without the MACO redshirt but with information that may damage a sphere and destroy the entire network. The Aquatics promise to help rescue Hoshi if the humans promise to attempt to destroy a sphere.

The Spherebuilders employ deus ex machina and slip the final launch code to the Reptilians. The Aquatics aid in the attack while the MACOs transport over to the weapon to rescue Hoshi. More Spherebuilders ex machina as they create anomalies to stop the Aquatics. Hoshi is rescued but Major Hayes is fatally wounded because the transporter conveniently malfunctions.

The weapon goes into the vortex. The Reptilians squash an Insectoid ship. Archer takes a task force onto Degra's ship to destroy the weapon from the inside. An unhealthy Hoshi also comes along.

Went on to the series finale for Angel "Not Fade Away". When last we left them, they were having a fake argument. There's still an argument going on when Hamilton walks in.

Angel has a meeting with the Circle of the Black Thorn and has to shove back the creature Archduke Sebassis uses for a water bottle. The Circle has Angel invalidate the Shansu prophecy by signing it in blood. Back at Wolfram and Hart, Angel tells Harmony to keep Hamilton occupied and out of their hair.

Angel enlists Lindsey in their fight. Then he tells his minions to go spend this day as if it was their last. Lorne sings before an audience. Angel has coffee with Connor. Spike is getting blind drunk. Gunn visits Ann. Wesley just nurses Illyria back to health. We go back to Spike who's reading that awful poetry he wrote when he was human complete with the word "efulgent" and the crowd goes wild.

Connor admits he knows that Angel is his father. The real memories are mixed in with the fake memories like a bad dream,"A very strange, and violent, at times, inappropriately erotic dream."

Angel lays out the plan. Wesley will take out Vail. Illyria will handle four members of the Circle just after dinner. Gunn will kill Senator Brucker who's being guarded by several vampires. Spike will rescue the baby being held by the Fell Brethren. Lindsey and Lorne will take on the Sahrvins. Angel will handle Sebassis. We find Harmony in bed with Hamilton.

The team will rendezvous in the alley behind the Hyperion, but Lorne says he won't be there. The assaults are largely successful, except for Wesley who gets killed by Vail, but Illyria comes along to finish off Vail. She spends a moment being Fred before Wesley dies. Lorne surprises Lindsey by shooting him after they are finished. Nice touch, I was surprised. Lindsey dies expecting to be killed directly by Angel. The brooding one already took care of Sebassis because he poisoned his minion. He has a huge fight with Hamilton in Wolfram and Hart and is saved by Connor. Harmony admits her betrayal, but Angel has written her a letter of recommendation anyway.

So Angel, Spike, Gunn and Illyria turn up in the alley in the dark and the driving rain. Illyria reports that Wesley is dead. The minions of Wolfram and Hart come charging at them and it's the end of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or Thelma & Louise.

So while I'm driving around today, the sports talk shows are abuzz with the column by Tom Boswell telling the Orioles to pitch to Bonds because their season is down the tubes anyway. They should pitch to him because there's a 63% of getting him out when you don't walk him. There's a zero percent chance of getting him out when you do walk him.

The section on Babe Ruth in The New Bill James Historical Abstract simulates a season of the Babe in a very below average lineup. That team scored 10% more runs when opponents walked Ruth every time. There is no major league player in a major league lineup good enough to be walked every time.

But not trying to win is what the Black Sox did in the 1919 World Series.

Miranda in antennae among other 2nd graders
Goin' buggy.

Yelena dancing.

Today, Miranda was in three performances of Goin' Buggy. We went to the 7:00 performance. Most of the kids stood on risers and sang. Miranda's friend Yelena did a dance. Miranda had some lines as a bug petitioning Congress for voting rights.

So when we got home we watched the CSI season finale "Bloodlines". A woman named Linley Parker is raped. The MO and the semen match an unsolved murder from a year ago.

Linley identifies her assailant from a police lineup, but the DNA clears him. So she's all panicked and calls Catherine from her cellphone when she gets abducted again. This time the killer finished the job.

Turns she had the right ID all the time. The first suspect had a twin who died in utero, but whose DNA was absorbed. Therefore, he was walking around with two sets of DNA.

The episode ends with Sara being brought in for DWI.

Went on to the Tripping the Rift episode "Emasculating Chode". On Whip's 16th birthday, Chode just gets him a paint-by-numbers kit. Darth Bobo uses Whip's depression to lure him by e-mail to his lair. Chode beams down to rescue him and gets into a lightsaber battle with Darth Bobo, but he gets a tentacle shopped off and Whip is now Bobo's slave.

Apparently for Chode's species, a severed tentacle has severe effects on masculinity and sexual confidence. However with the help of the tentacle club, he rescues Whip and his tentacle from Darth Bobo.

In between, Whip is scrubbing the floors in Darth Bobo's mansion. He has a Mrs. Robinson encounter with Darth Bobo's wife.

June 10

There are sick minds coming out of the closet.

Ray Charles 1930-2004. Strange that the first thing that came to mind was the Jackson 5 Saturday morning animated television series. Even then the young animated Michael Jackson had weird pets. In this case, a snake named Rosie and two mice named Ray and Charles.

June 9

But where will Irmo and Dorman play?

Watched the CSI: Miami episode "MIA/NYC - NonStop". I started the tape five minutes late so I didn't catch the opening, but we come in on the murder scene of a mother and father, but the teenage daughter survives. A glob of spit points to a New York killer and the rental car office delivers a name - Nick Murdoch. But meanwhile in New York, Nick Murdoch, an undercover cop is found dead more than 72 hours. Someone killed him and used the ID to perform the murder in Miami.

Prints in both New York and Miami lead to a suspect named Penrod. He escapes the cops with a broken leg, but Horatio finds an address in his apartment. Penrod hit the wrong family and the right family lives in a New York highrise. When Horatio and Mack, played Gary Sinise, the CSI: New York star, there are two more dead bodies, but the son is still alive.

The son is the prime suspect because he and his father were getting backstage passes from the same Broadway showgirl. The son's knifewounds, however, are different from everyone else's. A search by Mack inside the building's elevator shaft reveals the weapon and the doorman. He was getting a million dollars when the father died for saving his life with CPR. He couldn't wait so the doorman hired his drug dealer who mistakenly killed the Miami family, then killed the right folks. The doorman merely wounded the son to frame him. Penrod killed Murdoch and took his ID believing Murdoch was just a lowlife who'd never be missed, rather than an undercover cop.

Gary Sinise seems less overbearing than David Caruso. My money's on "Baba O'Riley" as the theme song.

June 8

News about the official 60 Seconds Category Sweep Prize of the National Academic Championship.

June 7

Just a couple of thought watching the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Martin St. Louis is the same height as Sam Ryan.

Bill Davidson owns the Pistons and the Lightning? I thought Detroit sports owners were supposed to be pizza guys. In the back of my mind I kept thinking the Pistons were owned by Papa John's or Armand's.

Chip Beall, Ernie Anderson and Tanya Govurune in a serious discussion.

The Washington runner-up: High Tecnhology High School (Lincroft, NJ) - Katherine Wu, Chris Paci, Phil Graff and Dan Scotto

The Washington winner: Horace Greeley (Chappaqua, NY)- Philip Levitz, Sara Sheer, Owen Godshall and Robert Cousins

Christopher and Jason Russell

Brad Rutter

Doug Joubert
June 6

I started the day working with Doug. Then I moved to the restaurant Bernie's and worked with Brad. Apparently, the noise in Bernie's was terrible on Thursday and Friday with non-tournament participants talking and the latte machine running. Today, with the facility closed and no outsiders, it was great.

I read the semi-final match between High Tech and Hastings. There was a bonus where you had to identify the real people mentioned in various songs. I couldn't help myself and actually sang them. Then I told the audience I'd be touring with William Hung.

Horace Greeley of Chappaqua, New York won Washington again, defeating High Tech of Lincroft, New Jersey 380-240.

June 5

Today I worked with Jason Russell. He is no longer teaching, due to a fallout with the administration and is an air traffic controller for the New Hampshire Air National Guard. There was a question about dairy products to which a player guessed,"Whey".

To which I had to reply,"No way."

Someone buzzed in early with "Wisconsin" when the answer was "Polio". To be fair, the question did start by mentioning HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, the former Wisconsin Governor.

Another incorrect guess was for Pearl S. Buck for Terry McMillan. Stella Got Her Chi Back.

Chip tested a shortened form of his game with no player introductions, fewer questions and simplified scoring.

Again we played Host Your Own Jeopardy. Christopher figured out that you only have to hit the buzzer several times in succession to be recognized.

The weather has been amazingly mild for Washington in June and we had a cold rain today.

June 4

Today I worked with Jeopardy Million Dollar winner Brad Rutter. He hosts a high school program in Harrisburg called Inquizitive. One question asked which real live politican thought he was better looking than Robert Redford in The Candidate. The answer was Dan Quayle, but someone guessed Michael Dukakis. To be fair, the question mentioned the 1988 Presidential election without suggesting Vice-Presidential candidates might also be possible. Miranda will be happy to know there was a question on Spongebob Squarepants.

Lunch was a pasta bar where your meal was cooked right before your eyes. I had bowtie pasta, broccoli and meatballs in alfredo sauce.

In the evening, we played Ernie Anderson's Host Your Own Jeopardy game. It's Jeopardy attached to your television set complete with buzzers and a dollar value display for the top of TV. Brad won the first game while I tried to figure out the buzzer. I won the second game and the Final Jeopardy was the exact same clue Brad had when he was on the show.

Later, I played Aquarius, Fluxx and Showbiz Shuffle with Jason and Christopher. They kept Showbiz Shuffle to play after I went to bed.

June 3

Today I worked with Doug Joubert, out of the Louisiana Academic Championship. We talked some Star Trek. Unlike me, he doesn't like arcs, but agrees that the time travel element to the Xindi storyline was unnecessary. We played the Star Trek Boss game. His preference is Picard, Janeway, Sisko, Kirk.

The funny answer of the day come from a question that asked who said,"The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart." The real answer was Helen Keller, but someone said Jesus Christ.

In the evening, I taught Counting Zzzzs to Jason Russell and his son Christopher.

June 2

It's the 22nd annual National Academic Championship, Washington phase from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Due to construction around two of our usual rooms, I'll be running from a tiny room that nevertheless has a lovely view. Ernie Anderson will be in a restaurant called Bernie's.

June 1

Once again, Peter Schmuck proves the appropriateness of his name:

The contention that only a relatively small number of Washington and Virginia baseball fans are willing to drive 50 miles to see the Orioles - a cornerstone American League franchise that plays in one of the most popular, fan-friendly ballparks in the country - might be the most tangible indicator of the level of true, sustainable baseball interest in that area.

Angelos (which is Greek for Schmuck), can spin the numbers anyway he likes. If only 10% of Orioles attendance comes from Washington, then Washington has no interest and doesn't deserve a team. If 50% of Orioles attendance comes from Washington, then a team will hurt the Orioles so a team can't be moved to Washington. Awfully convenient. Tails I win, heads you lose.

The only numbers that matter are these from the Bureau of Economic Analysis:
2002 Total Personal Income
Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV-PA $335,371,550
Portland-Salem, OR-WA 89,984,766
Las Vegas, NV-AZ-UT 51,879,888
Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News, VA-NC 49,062,997

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