Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: The Know-It-All

Subtitled One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World, the book chronicles A.J. Jacob's quest to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, from a-ak to zywiec. The book is filled with the fascinating tidbits of information he discovers, for example that John Heisman of football trophy fame was a Shakespearean actor during the the off-season. Mr. Jacobs then wonders, "Why aren't there any Shakespearean football coaches nowadays?"

Mr. Jacobs also explores why he began this quest. The answer is not as straightforward as the entries. He is concerned that his time as editor of Entertainment Weekly has caused him to lose much of the knowledge he gained while at Brown. As a boy, he fancied himself the smartest boy in the world--a self-concept that was severely shaken as he grew up. And then there's the competition: his father, who has a truly amazing list of degrees and who has authored 24 or 25 serious, scholarly books on points of law, had also attempted this feat. Dad, however, dropped the project around the B's. Could the son accomplish what his father couldn't?

The project takes him about a year. There is a chapter for each letter of the alphabet, except for X, Y, and Z, which are combined. But how can Mr. Jacobs be sure he actually is becoming smarter?

Thus he investigates the nature of knowledge and "smartness." He joins Mensa, interviews a gentleman with an acknowledged stratospheric IQ, interviews Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!, and participates in the game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He looks for others who have read the entire encyclopedia. His search even leads him to Chicago and the headquarters of Britannica itself.

And, oh by the way, Mr. Jacobs is married and he and Mrs. Jacobs would like to have a baby.

I have a lot of natural sympathy for Mr. Jacobs. I, too, love arcane facts and get side-tracked easily while looking up words in dictionaries or checking facts in encyclopedias. (Internet databases have not helped. I only become side-tracked more quickly and more deeply.) Some of the facts Mr. Jacobs shares are interesting, some are odd, some are downright funny. His sense of humor is much like my own: wry, a little dark, self-deprecating, and fascinated by the world around him. (He is a pessimist, however, while I tend to be an optimist.) In fact, this book was a Christmas present to me from DD#1 who saw the title and knew I'd enjoy it. (She knows me too well!)

What keeps this book from being a classic, however, is that Mr. Jacobs is truly a product of his environment: a secular Jewish liberal, born and raised in New York City (Manhattan, in fact), educated in elite private schools. Everyone around him is a liberal. His parents have an apartment in Manhattan and a country home in East Hampton. His friends get married in Italy, so Mr. Jacobs and his wife fly over, spending time in Venice before attending the wedding.

So of course he takes potshots at President Bush, with kind of a knowing wink because everyone feels this way. It's obvious. One or two cheap shots I could overlook. But there are several. They were unnecessary. It's almost as if Mr. Jacobs couldn't resist. So what could have been a classic book instead becomes more limited.

Okay, it was interesting as an anthropological study of a certain segment of Manhattan's socio-economic-cultural strata. A society I will certainly never fit into even if I do read the entire Britannica myself.

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks

crossposted at Catholic Media Review

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Movie Review: Marley & Me

Ostensibly, Marley & Me is about the world's worst dog. In reality, it's about family and love.

John (Owen Wilson) and Jen (Jennifer Aniston) Grogan are newlyweds. Jen has their life together all planned: moved somewhere warm, get jobs, buy a house. When a houseplant dies, Jen complains, "How am I supposed to take care of a kid when I can't take care of a stupid plant?", John realizes what Jen's next "step" is. He discusses this with his bachelor friend and colleague, Sebastian, who recommends getting a puppy. So John takes Jen off to a breeder where they get a "Clearance Sale" puppy--Marley.

Marley turns out to have a few quirks. He eats anything and everything. He's afraid of thunderstorms. He has nearly unlimited energy and an unconquerable will. He is untrainable. And he loves John and Jen unconditionally.

And they love Marley, despite all the chaos he brings to their lives.

John is offered a chance to write a twice weekly column. Initially, he's reluctant to accept it because he sees himself as a reporter. But the offer includes a raise, so he takes the assignment. His first column is about Marley. His editor (Alan Arkin) reads it and, perfectly deadpan, says, "This is hilarious. I'm laughing my ass off here."

Eventually, John and Jen decide to have a baby. Jen announces she's pregnant at the same time John's colleague, Sebastian, is offered a chance to go to the Middle East--and he wants to bring John along. John has to make a real choice here: career versus family.

And then Jen has a miscarriage.

John doesn't know what to do. But Marley does.

The Grogans do have children eventually and Jen has choices to make as well. Although Marley doesn't treat the children as chew toys, he's still pretty incorrigible and Jen becomes overwhelmed with it all. John is feeling the stress as well: he's the sole breadwinner and his column is now running five days a week. A decision--a serious one--has to be made about Marley and his place in the family. John and Jen also have to make a decision about their future as well.

Because the movie is based on the real-life experiences of the actual John Grogan, many of the scenes hit home for Hubs and me. The conversations John and Jen had were conversations that we've had, albeit with wittier lines. Their relationship with their kids, as well as the relationship of the kids with Marley, rang true. Despite the comedy, this movie does not sugar-coat the sacrifices each partner makes so that marriage and family life works.

The ending is predictable but not overly sentimental. The parents acted like adults, not hiding the facts of life from their children but helping them cope with the inevitable.

Bring tissues.

This movie is rated PG but I wouldn't bring young children (although there were some in the audience), mostly because the emotional undertones might be overwhelming. There is some swearing, a couple of implied sex scenes between John and Jen (hey--they're married, right?), one implied nude scene (again, it's John and Jen in the privacy of their own backyard). DD#2 (who is 15) enjoyed the movie, although she didn't always laugh at the same parts Hubs and I did. On the way home we talked about the dogs in our family, especially our current dog who broke through a closed window as a puppy--twice--and was notorious for chewing stuffed toys and underwear. (Fortunately, old age has mellowed her. She is currently sleeping on the couch next to me.)

The casting, by the way, is superb. Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston play off each other well. They look like real people who have lived real lives. They're sweet and goofy and serious when they should be. Alan Arkin plays John's unsentimental editor who pushes him to grow into adulthood. Kathleen Turner has a great cameo as the obedience school trainer. Eric Dane is Sebastian, the eternal bachelor and the life John Grogan could have had. Sebastian could be a sleaze, but he's not. The actors who play the Grogan kids are not precocious or overly adorable.

Kudos also to the animal trainers and handlers as well as the dogs who played Marley at different ages. Having a dog misbehave on cue is no small feat!

On the March Hare scale: 5 out of 5 Golden Tickets. An especially good "date night" movie for us old married couples who have raised a dog and a kid or two.

crossposted at Catholic Media Review

Monday, January 26, 2009

Post-Surgery TMI

Thursday afternoon was the Big Day. The two youngest went off to school for finals, the second oldest to work. I stayed up late Wednesday night because I wasn't going to be able to eat or drink after midnight (just call me "Gizmo") and I wanted to forestall a migraine induced by low blood sugar because my surgery was scheduled for the afternoon.

I took a shower, washed my hair, dressed in a button-front shirt, flannel pj pants, and slip on shoes. And after Hubs and I found the correct place to check in, got prepped and... waited.

No laptop. No cell phone. Just me and my latest issue of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. They finally let Hubs back to keep me company. Plenty of time for a quick Act of Contrition (got to cover all the bases, right?) and Apostles' Creed.

The staff was wonderful. But the questions--Oy! I repeated my name, my medical ID number, which breast needed surgery. I confirmed that certain opiates make me vomit. I confirmed that I was not pregnant, that I did not have to pee (come on--I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since midnight. What was supposed to come out?), that my blood pressure and pulse rate usually are ridiculously low.

"How do you respond to anesthesia?" the anesthesiologist asked.

"I have no idea. This is my first surgery," I explained. I was almost apologetic. "I always thought that was a good thing."

She agreed.

Did I mention that, except for the recovery room nurses, the staff looks like they are the same age as my children?

I remember the anesthetic going into my IV. I remember waking up. I have no idea how long surgery actually took.

When the nurses told me I looked a little blue, I thought it was because I had just come out of surgery and was feeling a little nauseous. But actually I was blue from the dye the surgeon injected to find the tumor. I also had a drain in my armpit.

Hubs brought me home and surrounded me with soup, yogurt, and orange juice. I snuggled into the recliner and fell asleep.

The next morning, I got up and went to the bathroom. What a surprise! Somehow I missed the note in the Post-Op Instructions about how the blue dye gets out of my system.

One of the recovery nurses called me to see how I was doing and to make sure I was managing my pain. Fortunately, I haven't had much--my broken arm hurt much worse. I had a kind of sinus-migraine-type headache and a sore throat (from the tube) and that's about it. The drain is more bothersome than painful as I try to limit the use of my left arm.

I have an appointment on Wednesday to go over what the surgeon found, assuming the lab reports are back. And hopefully to get this drain out. Sometime after that I'll meet with an oncologist to plan chemo treatments and radiation.

Hubs, DD#2, and I went to a movie on Sunday to forestall cabin fever and to make me get up and walk around. I did change out of my post-op attire but am now back in mis-matched gear. I'm am also trying to convince Hubs that I have plenty of "bulk" at this point--I don't need to keep eating constantly. Especially since my exercise level is practically nil.

Thanks to all for keeping me in your prayers and sending good thoughts my way. I appreciate them as I continue down the road.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: Dark Night of the Soul

I have heard about the "dark night of the soul," when one feels abandoned by God. But I had never read the famous book of that name by St. John of the Cross. The book is primarily aimed at spiritual directors, but it's also a good background on the concept and what to expect.

The idea has its roots, really, in the story of Job, who is alternately rewarded and punished by God. In Dark Night, St. John compares the dark night to gold being refined by fire. The process is painful, but necessary for the ore to become something beautiful, pure, and precious. All the dross is melted away as the soul becomes more like its Creator, the better to become one with Him: "Souls begin to enter the dark night when God is drawing them out of the state of beginners, which is that of those who meditate on the spiritual road, and is leading them into that of proficients, the state of contemplatives, that, having passed through it, they may arrive at the state of the perfect, which is that of the divine union with God." (Ch. 1)

There are two stages: the Night of the Sense and the Night of the Spirit. The Night of the Sense is the first stage and, frequently, many who begin the journey go no further. Many beginners fall into the sin of pride--much like the Publican in the parable, they are proud of their devotion, their sacrifice, their good works. But as they grow, they become humble, looking at others as better, "regard(ing) them with a holy envy in their anxiety to serve God as they do." (Ch. 1)

St. John goes on to list and explain other spiritual sins that beginners make. These mostly have to do with our human need to feel (both physically and emotionally), to see, to hear, to taste. Our bodies distract our souls from the perfect contemplation of God and Satan uses these weaknesses to his advantage. During the first night, "God is now changing that light into darkness, and sealing up the door of the fountain of the sweet spiritual waters, which they tasted in God as often and as long as they wished." (Ch. 8) No comfort is found in things of God, nor in "created things." St. John then goes on to explain how those who have entered this first night are to behave and the necessary role of a spiritual guide.

Once this stage is completed, a person may stop there or may experience only a respite for the much more rigorous dark night of the spirit. This stage requires much more from the spiritual director because those going through it feel completely abandoned by God. They must continue on their journey with complete and utter faith in Him. The length of time required for this dark night may be months or years. There may be periods were God shows His Face and His Love is directly and powerfully felt, but then withdrawn, forcing the seeker to trust and believe. And to pray--always prayer.

The end is complete union with God. St. John intimates that for most of us, Purgatory will be our Dark Night of the Soul; very few reach the state of perfection while here on Earth. (This is probably as good an explanation for Purgatory as any I've heard.)

This edition, translated by David Lewis and published by Saint Benedict Press Classics, is 189 pages, heavily footnoted, with short chapters. But the text is really dense. I found I could only read a chapter or so at a time because the prose is a bit clunky. And it can be repetitive, in the manner of a teacher who says, "Have you got this yet?" I haven't read any of St. John's other works which might have helped. A study guide, either a person or a booklet, probably would have helped as well. But Dark Night of the Soul did shed some understanding of what Blessed Mother Teresa experienced and wrote about.

When Mother Teresa's spiritual trials were revealed, I read comments by some Christians that were rather disparaging, mostly from those who hold to sola scriptura. The "dark night" might be a peculiarly Catholic tradition--although I wouldn't be surprised if this is also understood in the Orthodox religions as well, since they have a monastic tradition.

Biographical background about St. John of the Cross can be found in Wikipedia. I was kind of surprised by the list of those influenced by his thoughts, which included Dorothy Day and Pope John Paul II.

This isn't Catholic-lite. And it's not a book that I understood at first reading. It deserves more study than I'm prepared to give at this point, but I would like to return to it and to St. John's other works, as well as those of St. Teresa of Avila.

This review was written as part of The Catholic Company product reviewer program. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Dark Night of the Soul.

crossposted at Catholic Media Review

Books and More Books

After our Girl Scout meeting last night, DD#2 wanted to go to the local Big Chain Bookstore. She needed to pick up a birthday present for a friend who loves manga.

Unfortunately, the Big Chain Bookstore was having their After Holidays 75% off sale. And, since I'm a member, I believe I even got a discount from that.

Five books (four for me and the manga for DD#2) later we left. The total was less than $20.

So I picked up The Federalist: The Famous Papers on the Principles of American Government (I thought the topic was timely), Selected Poems of Emily Dickinson (inspiration for my own poetry, maybe), The Short & Bloody History of Knights, Spies, and Pirates (just for fun and because, thanks to my dad, I am a sucker for both knights and pirates), and A Long Way Down by Nick Hornsby. Mr. Hornsby also wrote About A Boy and Fever Pitch which I really enjoyed.

There's something about books that are deeply discounted or remaindered that tugs at my heartstrings, kind of like the puppies and kittens in the SPCA display at Macy's during Christmastime. I want to adopt them all. Unlike puppies or kittens, books just need to be stacked, dusted occasionally, read, and ultimately shared.

Still I rather regret leaving behind a nice edition of Christmas stories by Charles Dickens, which included A Christmas Carol, the only one I've ever read. This edition had gilt edges and a ribbon bookmark and old-fashioned type. But I know I wouldn't read it. So I left it behind along with some "beach" novels that also looked like fun. It's kind of like putting back a piece of clothing you really, really like so you don't feel guilty about the money you are spending.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Surgery has been pushed back to Thursday.

Who says God doesn't have a sense of humor? Patience has never been one of my strong suits.

Add to that, no one can tell me much of anything until after surgery. Everything "depends" because everyone is different. I know this intellectually. But I am one who Likes to Plan. In fact, when Hubs was still Boyfriend, he was amazed at how quickly--and how far ahead--my calendar filled up. I like Knowing.

Now I don't. This bugs me.

At work everyone has been supportive for the most part, except there is a little bit of "who is going to take care of my customers while you're out?" Unfortunately, my boss will be out of her office while she's helping another office relocate. The other office has the only other Customer Support person outside of HQ. So three of us will be unavailable (out of seven). Sales reps aren't always very patient either.

I know this is Not My Problem. But I hate being a burden, especially since the others also have their own projects. I'm working from home again tomorrow, hoping to catch up a bit.


Friday afternoon the surgeon called. She has an opening for the next Wednesday--do I want it?

Next Wednesday? I wasn't planning to have surgery for another two weeks! I have projects to do, customers to train, reports to send off!

After I finished hyperventilating, I accepted.

Then I spent the weekend catching up with chores. The simple ones: dishes, laundry, taking down the Christmas tree and the decorations.

Yeah, our tree was still up. I didn't feel too badly, though--many of my friends also had just taken their trees down as well. We commiserated about the boxes now decorating our living rooms.

And I did what any good Catholic does in a crisis: I went to Reconciliation.

I always have difficulty with Reconciliation. It's not that I don't have sins; it's just that my sins seem so... boring. I lose my patience with Hubs and the kids. I have difficulty not holding a grudge against my MIL. I goof off at work and don't give my all. I gossip. I have a "smart mouth."

How many times have I confessed to these over the course of my life? (With Hubs & kids taking the place of parents and siblings.) I have improved some--I'm much better at restraining my impulse for the "zinger" around people I don't know well. But, overall, my weaknesses are my weaknesses and improvement is incremental.

Reconciliation is also a lot like getting called into the Principal's office. My hands get cold, my heart races. I am now going to hold myself accountable to someone. It's kind of like announcing that I'm going on a diet. My sins become public, as does my failure to reform. If I don't tell anyone, no one will know that I've failed except me. And I can continue on the charade of being a better person than I know I am.

Because going to Reconciliation (especially since this was as an individual) is so tough, I know it's good for me. Humbles me in a real way. And I always feel better afterwards, especially if the priest doesn't let me off the hook too easily--which some of them do.

Am I ready to face what Wednesday will bring? Not entirely. But more than before.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Results Are In

And I've got breast cancer.

The tumor is small--about the size of a pea. But it definitely needs to come out. I've opted for a lumpectomy and radiation. I met with the surgeon today and surgery is scheduled for February 3, unless there's an earlier opening. Radiation starts about a month after surgery. I also had an EKG and pre-op blood tests.

Besides the tumor, the surgeon will also remove at least one lymph node under my arm. If that's clear, she won't have to remove more. I probably won't have to go through chemo, but we won't know until after the surgery.

I'm beginning to hate Januarys. Otherwise, I'm in my "take charge and do something" mode, which is good for me mentally. I'll break down later. I'm not looking forward to telling my mother & the two youngest kids about this.

Continued prayers appreciated!

More Prayers Requested...

DD#2 and 59 fellow candidates for Confirmation left this afternoon for their weekend retreat. She and two friends are bunking together--I feel for their counselors.

Please pray for these teens (most are sophomores in high school, so they're 15 & 16 years old) as they learn more about the Catholic faith and their place in it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Mystery of Ministry

The Coordinator of Lectors emphasizes the importance of our ministry. "You never know who you will reach by your proclaiming the Word of God," she says at every meeting.

Last night I was a Eucharistic Minister at the Youth Mass. One of the altar servers was fairly new, but I've known her since she was in Kindergarten at the Parish School and through Girl Scouts. I'm in the Sanctuary, getting ready to receive the smaller ciborium to hand out the Body of Christ, when she comes up to me.

"I don't feel good," she whispers.

She is slightly hunched and has her hand cupped over her mouth, which my mommy-sense tells me is the sign she's ready to throw up.

"Go to the sacristy," I whisper back and point. (Just in case she's forgotten or didn't understand me.)

She leaves. I think about following her, but there's Father K. (a new priest himself) standing there. I take the ciborium and head out to my spot.

On my way, I look for the altar server's mom. Like most of us, she sits in the same spot, more or less, each week. She and I find each other.

"She's in the sacristy. There's a bathroom there," I whisper.

Mom nods and heads off.

After Mass, I notice the girl was in the pew with Mom, looking very pale.

Part of me wonders what she would have done if I hadn't been there. Would she have been brave enough to go up to another adult and tell them she didn't feel well? Or did she come to me because she knew me as the mom of DD#2? (I had spoken to her briefly before Mass.)

Chalk this up as one of my more unusual experiences in ministry... :)

Prayers Requested...

For me. Tomorrow I go in for a breast biopsy

I find it awkward to ask for prayers for myself. Part of me wants to stay in the background. Another part--the proud part--thinks I can handle this on my own. Or that I should be able to. I've never been very good at public announcements like this.

Just before Christmas, I went in for a routine mammogram. Just after Christmas, I was called back for a second look at my left breast, followed by a sonogram.

The radiologist found a small "nodule" in the middle of my left breast. It's about the size of a pea and can only be seen on a mammogram, not felt. So my timing was just about as perfect as it could be. Since this is a suspicious nodule/mass/lump--not a cyst and it has irregular edges-- the doctor encouraged me to get a biopsy as soon as possible.

And then I wait a week for the results.

BTW, I cannot say enough good things about my HMO, Kaiser Permanente, at this point. The Nurse-Practitioner called me twice from home to set up the appointment for the biopsy and for the follow-up appointment with the surgeon (as she said, "If you don't need it, it's easy to cancel). And then my GYN, who works out of a different facility, called me as soon as he received the results of the first mammogram. He called me both on my cell and at home to make sure I was receiving the appropriate follow-up care and to ask if I had any questions.

I told Hubs and the kids at home but haven't told the rest of the family. I figured I'd wait until I know more. I left a garbled message for my boss (who works on the East Coast) about why I need tomorrow off.

Meanwhile, life goes on, albeit I'm a bit distracted and worried. At this point, I've been praying and trying to live "Thy Will be done"--and mean it. ;)

BTW, Ladies, if you have been putting off getting a mammogram, please don't.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Movie Review: Bedtime Stories

The movie opens with a voice-over: Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce, who played Elizabeth Swan's father in Pirates of the Caribbean) explains how he started the Sunny Vista motel and the reactions of his two children, Wendy and Skeeter. Wendy is a serious and solemn girl. Skeeter has a wonderful imagination and a sense of adventure. Skeeter loves living in the motel and can imagine nothing better than to run it when he grows up.

Alas, Marty Bronson is no businessman and is forced to sell his motel to his rival, Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths). However, he does make Mr. Nottingham promise that his children can live in the motel as long as they want and that Skeeter will have a chance to run it some day. Mr. Nottingham promises and Mr. Bronson signs the contract.

Cut to the present. The modest motel is now an upscale hotel and Skeeter (Adam Sandler) is the maintenance man. He's a good maintenance man, but is clearly not seen as hotel management material. The head concierge is Aspen (Lucy Lawless) who treats Skeeter with disdain. However, he is not intimidated by her and answers her tit-for-tat.

Skeeter has another rival: Kendall (Guy Pearce) who is named as the "Manager Apparent" for Mr. Nottingham's new mega-hotel. Kendall is also dating Mr. Nottingham's daughter, who loves to party and is often photographed coming out of the hottest clubs.

Meanwhile Wendy (Courteney Cox) is going through a bitter divorce. She is the principal of a local school, which is slated to be closed. She has an interview in Arizona and asks Skeeter to watch her two children, splitting the duties with her best friend, Jill. Jill will take the "day shift"--getting the kids to school. Skeeter has them at night, along with their guinea pig, Bugsy.

His first night with them, he realizes he has to do something to entertain them, as Wendy does not have a television and the kids' books are all of the crunchy organic/progressive kind. Skeeter decides to make up a bedtime story, much as his dad with him and Wendy.

The story is a barely concealed sketch of Skeeter's life at the hotel, illustrating all his frustrations. The kids, Bobbi and Patrick, start to get into it and add their own scenes to the story. The story ends with Patrick exclaiming, "And then it rains gumballs!"

Skeeter brushes it off as a bit of childhood whimsy and gets them to bed. However, the next day events follow the narrative of the story pretty closely. It even "rains" gumballs! Skeeter tries to explain this to Jill (Keri Russell), who thinks it is merely coincidence. However, Skeeter tries to take the story in a new direction, one more positive for him. But the kids interrupt, adding their own twists.

The next day, events happen that mimic the story, but only the parts of the story the kids have added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nottingham has announced a competition between Kendall and Skeeter: whoever comes up with the best theme for the new hotel will become the manager.

And then there's the fate of the school where Wendy is Principal, Jill is a teacher, and the kids are students. Can it be saved?

There is some clever wordplay, reminding me of the Amelia Bedelia stories, where confusion reigns because the same word often has several meanings--especially between a six-year-old and a thirty-something-year-old.

This is a Disney movie, so there's no nudity, no bad language. Several archetypical stories are represented. Discussions of divorce and the impact it has on a child's emotions (the absent dad is mentioned but never seen). I did find it rather odd that Wendy would have to go to Arizona for a teaching job when the Los Angeles Unified School District is the largest in the state. And Principals are covered by California Teachers' Union seniority rules. The only Sandler regular who appears is Rob Schneider and even his character is restrained.

Hubs, DD#1 (who is 22), and DD#2 (who is 15) saw it with me. Our verdict: it's a cute movie, especially suited for grandparents to take the kids during the holidays. I'm not sure, though, which age level/s Disney was aiming for. Bobbi and Patrick appear to be five and six, but I don't think kids that young would get the story. Tweens (11 and 12-year-olds) would probably be bored, especially if they were expecting more typical Sandler craziness. DD#2 didn't like it right off the bat, but thought it was "pretty good" after she thought about it.

Bedtime Stories is not a typical Sandler movie--he's much more restrained, although there are plenty of snarky comments between him and the other adult cast members. I thought there were clever and funny, but then verbal "zingers" are an honored tradition in my family.

We saw this at a matinee--I wouldn't pay full price to see this one. Bedtime Stories might do better in the rental market, either on DVD or cable.

On the March Hare scale: 3.5 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks.

crossposted at Catholic Media Review


There's something special about college football. While money is always a factor, for most of the athletes, college is the last time they'll get to play in a stadium in front of a crowd. For many of the seniors, there is no "next year." They seem to want to win for the sake of winning and will lay their bodies on the line for a trophy as simple as an Axe, a Bell, a Cup. And if they get to play for larger stakes--a shiny silver trophy awarded on national television--so much the better.

The play-calling is more creative, the coaches more willing to try a stunt play. The Song Girls/Dance Team/Pom-Pom Girls look like the girls next door and often cry when the team loses. The Cheerleaders/Yell Leaders and the Mascots give their all to rally the audience behind the team.

This year Cal was invited to the Emerald Bowl, located a mere 1.5 miles from my office. The Bowl sponsors were thrilled: they got their first sell-out. The Cal Seniors were happy: they played their last game in front of a home crowd. And Cal fans were excited: it was cheaper to see the Emerald Bowl than the Big Game versus Stanford. Cal fans bought up their allotment and all the tickets the University of Miami turned back in. Ten members of my family attended--thanks, Mom! And Happy Day-After-Your-Birthday, too. :)

The only Bowl Game that would have made us happier would have been the Rose Bowl.

Jahvid Best, who played for the local Catholic High School in my neck of the woods, gave the right answer when asked about next year's Heisman Trophy: "We want the National Championship!" Turns out the Rose Bowl hosts the BCS Championship game in 2010.


The game turned out to be closer than it seemed like it would be. Miami's team is young and I foresee great things for their young quarterback. I wouldn't be surprised to see another Cal vs. Miami match-up at a Bowl Game next year. Meanwhile, I hope Tedford finds the answer to the passing game: a QB who can throw accurately and Wide Receivers who can catch consistently.

The Pac-10 is now 5-0 in Bowl Games this season and will gain some respect among the football pundits.

Nah. Don't think so.

Other games are on, allowing Hubs and I to watch dispassionately, analyzing strengths and weaknesses of the various teams. Next week it will all be over and I'll reading about the Giants and the A's, their bullpens and the stadium plans of the A's.