I've only just begun to explore the realm of photoblogs. If you have some favorites, please let me know about 'em, ok?
It has come to my attention that there are many of you who assert that autumn is the best time of year. My flatmate is always saying that autumn is his favorite season. I heard another of you say today that you thrilled to summer as a kid but that you love fall more and more as you get older. You go on and on about football, the new chill in the air, the yellows and the rusts in the leaves, and Thanksgiving.
I want to call your attention to some other things, though. There's that tickle in the back of your throat. The way you're so congested that you can only breathe through your open mouth. There's that cough that makes you sound like Typhoid Mary. (Yes, dear flatmate, I'm thinking of you.) The way you can't decide whether to turn the air conditioner or the heater on. I want to call your attention to the way you're feeling right now. To the way you're alternately chilled and feverish. I want to call your attention to your sudden need to have cough syrup right there on your desk. (If you're sick, you could go home, you know? I'd just as soon not have to be inundated with your germs every second of the work day.)
Yes, friends, I want you to realize that the congestion and the horrible, unending hack-ack-acking cough (and, really, can you just keep that away from me, please?), well, they go right along with those rusty leaves and that chill in the air. The reason you feel so crappy right now is directly attributable to the change in the season. Your body is trying to figure out how to cope, but the weather just won't cooperate. It's warm one day, cold the next. It's cool in the morning, almost downright hot in the afternoon.
Your so-called favorite season is making you sick.
P.S. If there's any justice, I'll win the lottery soon and move to New Orleans or Key West or San Diego or Honolulu. There, I'll enjoy the sameness of all those warm days strung one against the other, from January to December. You'll be welcome to visit, so long as you promise not to go on and on about how you enjoy that chill in the September air. Ugh.
[E]veryone shall delight us, and we them. (Walt Whitman)
Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes. (Oscar Wilde)
The problem for me? I guess I just don't want my readers to think I don't know "the rules" or have sloppily forgotten them. I'm sympathetic to the view that words help constitute our reality, and I have little doubt that use of the default he helps (helped?) shape the assumption that men are the players in the world. As someone whose major work activity is writing, though, I just find it hard to be in the vanguard on the revived use of the singular they.
The solution: You should all get out in the world and help drum the singular they into the collective Anglophone unconscious. That'll make it a lot easier for me to follow suit. Help me, I'm meek.
The Tick was, in many ways, the best thing about the 2001 television season (and, for that matter, one of the best things altogether about autumn 2001), and Fox stupidly canceled it after airing only eight episodes. The DVD set contains the lost ninth episode. And that, to use one of The Tick's catch phrases, is definitely not icky to infinity.
Sure, as Green points out, some of the information on the walls (and in those handouts) doesn't stick with the visitor. And it can be distracting. I've made it halfway through many exhibits and realized that I was going to have start over because I'd been concentrating too hard on all the text. I know, though, that I've also benefited from having access to information—at the exhibit itself—that helped me make sense of things. Take, for instance, the exhibit of Isamu Noguchi's ceramics that I saw last month at the Sackler Gallery. I absolutely needed information, at the exhibit itself, about the context that Noguchi was working in. Without that background, I certainly wouldn't have been able to make sense of the works at the exhibit by the Sodeisha group that Noguchi influenced. Like most visitors, I hadn't done enough research beforehand to understand what I'd be seeing, and—even if I had—I probably needed to see the work as it was being explained to me.
Green notes that an interested visitor can simply do a little research afterward if she needs more information. Many of us do that, of course. But if you don't have enough information to make sense of the exhibit while you're there, you may not even know how to research it afterward. Or give a damn later.
I do think that Green is right that those "semi-glossy little handouts" aren't always helpful or effective. Often, the handouts contain scholarly, mini-articles about an artist. I've never stopped right there in the museum to read one of those articles, and sometimes I don't even read them when I get home. Sometimes I do, though. Green is surely right that museums should experiment with other kinds of handouts. Something that an interested visitor could use during her stay at the museum would be ideal.
It is, of course, entirely appropriate for a museum to focus on its educational mission. In fact, I'd describe education as one of the duties of any good musuem. If fulfilling that duty takes the form of wall text, semi-glossy handouts, or the cool quasi-comics that Green saw at the Wattis Institute, well, I'm in favor it. It's a cliché, I know, but knowledge is power. And I have no doubt that more people would be hanging out at museums if they knew a little bit more about the subject matter.
1. Who is your favorite singer/musician? Why? This is kind of a silly question. There are so many different kinds of music that it's impossible to really have just one favorite, isn't it? But an artist that I've especially enjoyed for many years is Lucinda Williams. Her Southern rootsiness, her bluesiness, and her raw, emotional songwriting all appeal to me. For example, on her most recent album, World Without Tears, a song called "Those Three Days" completely gets to me. Here's a snippet:
2. What one singer/musician can you not stand? Why? Bryan Adams comes to mind. Having said that, though, one of my most embarrassing guilty pleasures is his duet with Barbra Streisand, "I Finally Found Someone." I can't believe I admitted that.
3. If your favorite singer wasn't in the music business, do you think you would still like him/her as a person? Sure, I suppose so. She'd still be sassy and messed-up-but-mostly-in-touch-with-her-feelings. But I'm definitely glad she's a singer and not a waitress at a favorite diner. Or, God forbid, an account executive.
4. Have you been to any concerts? If yes, who put on the best show? As Fresh Hell's Kim said, this week's questions seem to be designed for, um, kids. And I'm not a kid. I've been to many, many concerts. Again, it would be hard to choose a favorite, but one unexpectedly good show comes to mind: In the early 1990s, I happened to see Willie Nelson, with my sister, at his short-lived theater in Branson, Missouri (just don't ask, ok?). It sounds like it would be horrible, but it wasn't. The concert was intimate, adult; it almost seemed like Willie was singing for friends and family. I'll never forget it. Oh, and it's the only concert I've ever attended where Goo Goo Clusters were being sold by vendors working the aisles. Yum.
5. What are your thoughts on downloading music online vs. purchasing albums? (By the way, I've eliminated part of the question, which invited me to comment on a legal question—something I don't do here.) As much as I like technology, including my TiVo and my Roomba, I like having albums—not just files. I don't feel like I own something otherwise. How long will it take for me to get over that?
First, was that telecast excruciating or what? The opening monologue by Garry Shandling was so awful, so disjointed, so nervous, so borderline offensive, that I nearly switched my set off right at the start. And it didn't get much better after that. Who exactly thought Wanda Sykes warranted two big chunks of unstructured time? It definitely didn't work. I loved it when the director cut to Sean Hayes during her first "bit"; Hayes gave the camera a knowing look (the look of someone being forced to appear to enjoy something awful), and the audience laughed back at him, sympathetically. And don't get me started on that canned patter that the Emmy "writers" served up to the presenters. I couldn't see that any attempt was made to ensure that the presenters didn't say the most banal things imaginable. Perfectly dreadful.
Thank goodness for Ellen DeGeneres, Jon Stewart, Conan O'Brien, and Darrell Hammond (but, hey, even he went on a bit too long with that Rummy bit). They kept me going when I thought I couldn't.
But let's get to the important stuff—the major awards. I'll start with the comedies:
Surely, if the Emmy voters actually watched (and liked?) TV, we'd have winners like Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, and their series Sex and the City. And I'm not just saying that because I'm a huge fan of City. Hey, I think Friends has been a pretty pedestrian series for most of its run, but it sure as hell would've made more sense last night as Best Comedy than Raymond. At least with Friends, we could say that the show has grown over time....
And Debra Messing as best actress? Gosh, I'm sure my jaw dropped. Where do I start? Will & Grace is frequently quite good, but it's not all that. And Messing is obviously the weak link in the show. As she said in her acceptance speech last night, she's just not funny. Haven't the Emmy voters noticed that?! Bizarre.
Of course, just when I'd given up on the whole thing, Emmy saved itself by honoring Shalhoub, whose Monk is pretty much the only reason (except for occasional tennis coverage, of course) to watch USA Network. I actually did a victory dance in my living room. Shalhoub's performance is striking. His obsessive-compulsive Adrian Monk isn't entirely realistic, I suppose, but he's a real character. And one that even the best actor can't sleepwalk through. There's real craft in Shalhoub's performance, and how often can you say that about an Emmy winner? Not often enough.
I was a bit happier with the awards for dramas. Here's the recap:
I was much happier, of course, with the remaining acting awards. The audience probably would have walked out if Edie Falco hadn't won for Best Actress. Falco took Carmela Soprano to new territory—infatuation, self-respect, purposeful anger—last year. I'm surely one of the biggest fans of Alias's Jennifer Garner out there, but even I knew that Falco deserved this one. For similar reasons, I wouldn't begrudge Gandolfini or Pantoliano their Emmy awards. They were two of the biggest reasons that The Sopranos was downright compelling last season.
But even in these categories, the Emmy voters had me scratching my head in the end. After all the major acting awards went to its actors, the Best Drama had to be The Sopranos, didn't it? As I just said, The Sopranos was compelling last year. Well, no. Somehow—Emmy voters tell us—the "Best Drama" was The West Wing. I thought West Wing was still quite good last season (I never missed it), but it clearly wasn't in the class of The Sopranos or even Six Feet Under. West Wing meandered last season; episodes often didn't seem to have a point. At times, West Wing got caught up in admiring its own cuteness. And, really, how could a show that didn't boast any of the "best" actors be the best show? Seriously, I'm asking. Emmy voters? (For what it's worth, I think the answer is that many Emmy voters wanted to honor Aaron Sorkin, who was unceremoniously dumped by NBC last year. That's nice, but it's not a reason to, well, lie about what was the best thing on TV last year.)
There's more that I could say, but I won't. Ok, I'll say one more thing: Wayne Brady for Oustanding Individual Performance in a Variety Show? He's great, but is what he does on Whose Line Is It Anyway? at all comparable to what Jon Stewart does every night on The Daily Show? Or to what Robin Williams did for his special? It's not even close.
I guess I should take what I can get. I guess I should just be happy that The Daily Show got any recognition at all. And that Falco and Gandolfini got what was rightfully theirs. I just keep thinking, though, that Emmy voters ought to be able to separate most of the wheat from most of the chaff. And last night, anyway, it was mostly chaff.
And, yes, Professor Cooper, talking like a pirate is one good way to make your class think you're a kook.
I didn't make it to work on Friday because my commuter line was affected by the storm. This came as no surprise, as my commute home on Thursday night took about three times as long as normal. Anyway, my flatmate and I sat around the apartment, hoping the electricity would find us again. It didn't. I had brought home some work, but there was only so much that I could do sans computer and light. The highlight of the day: We drove to a supermarket in an area that was unaffected and bought food that didn't have to be cooked. At this point, though, I don't care if I ever see another E.L. Fudge cookie again....
It was more of the same on Saturday. I read the newspaper—which, amazingly, was delivered on time every day—from cover to cover, and the flatmate and I listened to the radio all day long. Listening relentlessly to the radio was pretty depressing, as the news people kept saying how many hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents were without power. We were told, repeatedly, that it might be Tuesday before everyone had electricity again. Also depressing was having to throw out all of the now-tainted goods in our freezer. (Goodbye, tuna steaks and buffalo burgers! We'll miss you.) We drove around some more, too, killing some time at a fully-powered Target that is several miles away. We realized from the drive that our apartment was just about in the center of the affected power outages. That definitely didn't seem like a good omen. We spent the rest of the day playing board games, Carcassonne (I won, mostly) and Monopoly (I lost!). And, like the day before, I basically went to bed at 9 o'clock because it seemed like the Little House on the Prairie thing to do.
My flatmate made me promise that I'd blog about one thing. A woman from nearby was interviewed on the radio on Saturday. She hadn't lost power herself, she said, but it had sure been hard to find a good, open restaurant in the neighborhood. Poor baby! And, yes, that's the kind of neighborhood we live in. We were not amused.
This morning, I was awakened at 5:01 (according to my PDA) by a small miracle. The lamp beside my bed had magically started producing light. No, wait, it wasn't a miracle. The electricity was back! Let me tell you just how thrilled I was: I immediately turned the lamp off, rolled over, and went back to sleep. But when I got up again at 8:30, I did a little happy dance. And I never do anything like that. Now if I could only get my weekend back. And find a good, open restaurant. Hmph.
P.S.: When I want to get an Art Deco fix, I head to beautiful Tulsa. Actually, you know, I can imagine living in a snazzy Art Deco building. I just can't imagine decorating with Art Deco materials and styles....
Belgium vs. Austria - Belgian tennis isn't all about the women. I'm picking the Belgian men, 4-1, despite the Austrian home-court advantage.
Czech Republic vs. Thailand - As I said yesterday, one player doesn't make a team. That's true even if the player is Paradorn Srichaphan, and he's playing in Bangkok. Srichaphan will do all he can, but it won't be enough. Czech Republic 3, Thailand 2.
Belarus vs. Germany - Germany has gone with Tomas Behrend in the second singles spot. (Rainer Schuettler is the German No. 1; he should win both of his singles matches.) Behrend's only hope is that Max Mirnyi and Vladimir Voltchkov will be so tired from playing both the doubles and the singles that he'll sneak in a singles win on the final day. I think the tie may be over by then—thanks to Schuettler. Germany 3, Belarus 2.
Great Britain vs. Morocco - Neither team is deep; both squads are using just two players for the entire five matches. I expect Britain's Tim Henman to win once, and I doubt Greg Rusedski will even do that. Morocco 4, Great Britain 1.
India vs. Netherlands - Although it's always possible that Martin Verkerk will continue to play absolutely dreadful tennis, I don't expect India to win anything but the doubles. Mahesh Bhupathi is a doubles god, you know? Netherlands 4, India 1.
Romania vs. Ecuador - If I were the tennis commentator of your dreams, I'd know why Romania is using someone I've never heard of—Razvan Sabau—in the second singles spot, especially when more familiar players like Andrei Pavel and Adrian Voinea are ranked ahead of him. I have no clue, sorry. I like the chances of the Lapentti brothers. Ecuador 3, Romania 2.
I expect Roddick, currently the world's second-ranked player, to win both of his singles matches. (If he loses one of the matches, the Americans are in B-I-G trouble.) Although I thought Blake would surely win one of his singles match—probably against Slovakia's No. 2 player, Dominik Hrbaty—my gut tells me that Fish might lose to both Hrbaty and Karol Kucera. I hope I'm wrong, but my gut's my gut, you know? That makes the second-day doubles the key. In that, I like the chances of Americans Bob and Mike Bryan over Karol Beck and Michal Mertinak.
I suspect that McEnroe has made a mistake with his last-minute switch, and I hope the Americans don't pay for his foolishness with a year-long trip to the Davis Cup's equivalent of AAA baseball. Still, I see the Americans squeaking by.
Prediction: United States 3, Slovak Republic 2.
Argentina's four singles matches will be played by some combination of Calleri, Mariano Zabaleta, and Gaston Gaudio (presumably, the first two will play, as they're ranked slightly ahead of Gaudio—it's close, though). They're all fine players, but it's hard to imagine any of them taking matches against world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero (why does that still sound so foreign?) on clay. The question, then, is whether Spain can win just one more match. I sure like Carlos Moya's chances to win at least one of his singles matches; failing that, the Spanish probably have a fair chance in the doubles. The funny thing about the Spanish team is that it's the Kid and the Three Old Guys (Ferrero; Moya, Albert Costa, Alex Corretja). Is this Spain's last good chance for the title for awhile? Anyway, what's the doubles team here? Costa-Corretja?
Prediction: Spain 4, Argentina 1.
Update (Thurs., Sept. 18): Argentina has decided to use Gaudio and Zabaleta in singles. This doesn't change my prediction (but, um, maybe it should've been Spain 3, Argentina 2, to begin with....).
Switzerland vs. Australia - Australia has the home-court advantage here (the tie is being played on a hard court). That should make things a tiny bit tougher for Switzerland's No. 1 (and world No. 3) Roger Federer. Still, I see him winning both of his singles matches. Tasty singles match: Federer's singles match against former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt.
Aside from Federer, though, I don't like Switzerland's chances at all. Australia definitely has the advantage in the doubles match (are Ivo Heuberger and George Bastl really going to play doubles for the Swiss?). That means that Australia only needs to win the remaining singles match, which pits Mark Philippoussis against Kratochvil. And, um, let's see: Kratochvil is ranked #129 in the world, 109 places lower than Philippoussis, in singles right now? Oh, golly, I guess I'll have to take Philippoussis.
Prediction: Australia 3, Switzerland 2. (Moral: One player does not make a Davis Cup team.)
Actually, I've been having a little writer's block on the job, too. This isn't really like me, although it happens every once in awhile. Suddenly, it's just enormously painful to spew out sentences that work. I'm thinking, really, that I'm still struggling with whatever was ailing me last week. That's mostly a sinus thing, I've decided. That'll teach me to try to sleep with the windows open, even once. When I was a kid, I used to miss a week of school every September or October with something like this....
Random comment: Diet Pepsi Vanilla is the soda of the gods. (Does that count as blogging?)
I started paying attention to Formula One when I was in junior high. I moved to a new school before the start of seventh grade, and—happily enough—so had Joel Bermel, whose house was just a couple over. Those first few weeks after my family moved were, by far, the loneliest of my life, and Joel's friendship saved me. After I met him, I knew I was going to be ok.
Joel seemed so worldly. He had moved from New York, and I had only moved from the country to town. He knew lots of things that a kid from the Oklahoma sticks wouldn't—about Australian beer (he collected beer cans!), the NBA, and Formula One. I vividly remember how Joel kept track of the world championship points race on notebook paper, in his boyish, idiosyncratic printing. I don't really know how he kept track so well. Although cable TV had made it to northeast Oklahoma, and our homes, there definitely wasn't any Speedvision. And I'm pretty sure the Muskogee Daily Phoenix didn't provide all the information that a 13-year-old Formula One fan might need. But Joel kept up.
Joel's father worked for a national company, and his job kept the family moving every year or two. Sometime before we entered the ninth grade, the Bermels moved again—this time to Puyallup, Washington. We wrote letters back and forth for awhile, and Joel's family visited Muskogee again shortly after they moved. But, inevitably, Joel and I lost track of each other. I don't know where Joel Bermel is these days. If I did, I'd say thanks for being there for me when I really, really needed someone. And I'd tell him that I'm still keeping track of Ferrari, and McLaren, and the Schumachers. I hope he is.
Update: Here's the fullest report I've seen on the excitement in Center City.
1. Is the name you have now the same name that's on your birth certificate? If not, what's changed? My birth certificate, of course, says James, and most of my friends call me Jimmy. That's not that startling of a difference, though, is it? As for my surname, well, I've had mine for so long that I can't even imagine changing it. It amazes (flabbergasts?) me that women (and some men, but mostly women) change their surnames when they marry. Maybe that's just because, as a man, I wasn't socialized to expect that my name might change....
2. If you could change your name (first, middle and/or last), what would it be? I'm happy with my surname. As for my first name, I've experienced a few complications in life because of the difference between the official James and the unofficial Jimmy. If I were starting over, I might want a first name that didn't shorten. That said, I wouldn't want something as formal as James as a name; Jimmy suits me. My middle name? It's Allen, which is completely dull. (Half of the men born in Oklahoma, it seems, have either Alan/Allan/Allen or David as a middle name.) I wish my parents had used Garland, a middle name popular in my father's family. Or, perhaps, Thaddeus--which was my paternal grandfather's first name.
3. Why were you named what you were? (Is there a story behind it? Who specifically was responsible for naming you?) My parents allowed my sister, who is 15 years older, to have a role in naming me. (What could they have been thinking?!) I understand that they set limits and vetoed one or more early selections. That's probably why I'm not named after Paul Revere. Family lore has it, though, that my middle name is an homage to some rock'n'roll guy, but I've never figured it out myself. (I'd call my sister up right now and ask, but she's traveling.)
4. Are there any names you really hate or love? What are they and why? I haven't really thought much about cool names since I was 13 or 14 years old (about the time I realized/decided I'd never have children). I do like the name Eamonn, for some reason. And Jens. And Chance. And Flavio (hey, I've mentioned that before). I don't really hate many names, though I'd regret being named Barker or Ogden or something like that. Some names sound too old-fashioned, of course (e.g., Bertha, Agatha, Bessie), and some sound too trendy (e.g., Tyler, Taylor, Amber). But that's not really about the names per se.
5. Is the analysis of your name at kabalarians.com accurate? How or how isn't it? Although I put no stock in anything like this, it's not too far off. (Of course, neither are most fortune-cookie fortunes.) It says I'm idealistic, reserved, self-conscious, private, not aggressive enough for business, and more literary than verbal. Those things are generally true. I don't think I'm so generous or gullible that I attract con artists, though.
Probably we wouldn't. It isn't that Smith's drawings lack interest, but that there really is not enough critical mass in this episodic exhibition to define an evolving train of thought.
I'm not particularly a fan of Patti Smith's music, by the way. I wonder if "Strange Messenger" is more appealing to viewers more familiar with Smith's musical work....
Anyway, I'm simply stunned that Oklahoma could finish behind Utah or Alabama or Mississippi.... Have I been away that long?
Too much information?
Roddick sure rose to the top quickly. In the past couple of years, everyone from Davis Cup captain Patrick McEnroe to commentators like Cliff Drysdale and John McEnroe hailed Roddick as the next big thing. He's definitely talented. But would he have risen to the top so quickly, and so efficiently, if the label of future greatness hadn't been attached to him so early? Roddick, it seems to me, has had extra attention—from placements as a junior member on Davis Cup squads to being offered the assistance of super-coach Brad Gilbert—lavished on him; those extra resources sure haven't hurt his chances. And, probably just as importantly, would Roddick have believed in himself enough to win the Open, this soon, if people hadn't been telling him over and over that he had the right stuff? You've got to wonder. Still, at this point, Roddick's absolutely got the stuff, and it looks to me like the next few years, maybe the next decade, will be the Roddick years. It's going to be fun to watch.
Who is the best men's player in the world right now? That's an interesting question, I think. The four Grand Slams this year were won by four different players, and each of those players—Andre Agassi, Ferrero, Roger Federer, and Roddick—can make a fair case for being the sport's best right now. The ATP computer will, starting tomorrow, say Ferrero is the world No. 1, and I won't argue with that. If he continues to play on non-clay surfaces the way he did yesterday in his semifinal thrashing of Agassi, he'll definitely deserve the top spot. A look at Roddick's numbers, though, suggests that he has a slight edge in the race to be the world No. 1 when it counts—at the end of the year. But it's definitely going to be close enough that the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup will be thrilling.
Something about today just hasn't seemed right to me. In many ways, this day—the last Sunday of the Open—marks the end of the tennis summer. This is always the day when I hold on to tennis, at least until the men's final is over, even though my mates have already turned to the NFL season. (Actually, I think I always have a hard time getting into the football season because I refuse to focus on anything but tennis until after the NFL season has already started. By then, it seems like I'm walking into the movie five minutes after it started.) On this last Sunday of the Open, the reminders of football are many: Most prominently, CBS holds up the men's final until its early-game football coverage is over, and that always annoys the tennis fan in me. I suffer through the closing minutes of that football game, annoyed that 10 minutes of football time can amount to 30 minutes of actual time. And it occurred to me today, during that 10 minutes of football time, that—somewhere very deep in my psyche—I associate this very particular feeling, this feeling of annoyance with something that won't end fast enough, with Pete Sampras. He just popped into my mind while I was sitting through that fourth quarter. I've gotten so used to seeing Pete Sampras in the Open final that I associate a feeling, a feeling of impatience with neverending football games, with him. Damn. That's when it really hit me how much I'm going to miss him. Somehow or other, I've come to think of Sampras as part of my life.
I'm going to miss Sampras's cocktail-party coolness, the way he somehow played tennis like Frank Sinatra sang, the way he somehow played tennis every day like I felt once on the smoothest date of my life. Gosh. It truly feels like I've lost something important.
Time passes, Sampras got older, and I've gotten older. We're definitely into a new era now. Whether I'll come to associate the final 10 minutes of that first football game with Andy Roddick, or Juan Carlos Ferrero, or someone else—well, that remains to be seen. Maybe I'll always associate it with Pete Sampras.... But things have definitely changed.
I'm almost ready for autumn now.
Finals: Clijsters vs. Henin-Hardenne.
It'll be interesting to see how Capriati copes with this loss. With the absence of the Williams sisters, it was probably her last, best shot at winning the Open. And she served for the match twice! I rarely root for Capriati—it's that unregenerate vulgarity thing, I think—but I was sure feeling for her last night. Oof.
Update: Jason Kottke also has the link about the, um, doughnut cakes, and one of his commenters provided this link to a page featuring cakes made of items from the supermarket snack aisle. Yum, Sno Balls.
1. What housekeeping chore(s) do you hate doing the most? I'm not wild about scrubbing the bathtub (but I do it).
2. Are there any that you like or don't mind doing? I don't really mind dusting too much, and—even before I snagged the Roomba—I didn't mind vacuuming too much.
3. Do you have a routine throughout the week or just clean as it's needed? I wish I was organized enough about housework to have a routine, but I'm not. I just do it when (i) I have time and (ii) the messiness is getting to me.
4. Do you have any odd cleaning/housekeeping quirks or rules? I'm sure my flatmate thinks I have several, but nothing comes to my mind. He thinks I'm weird because I insist that we throw trash away as we generate it. (Maddeningly, he'll just leave wrappers and empty boxes on the kitchen counter rather than walk two paces to the trash can. Grrrr.)
5. What was the last thing you cleaned? I really tackled my office (at work) earlier this week. At home, the last housekeeping chore I did was to go through some old magazines. Anyone looking for a year-old Oklahoma Today?
Mardy Fish: Nooooooooo! I've already swallowed the humble pie about this one, remember? My back-up pick, Guillermo Coria, is the quarterfinalist.
Juan Carlos Ferrero: He made it to the quarters, if barely so. I had real doubts this evening whether he'd get by the wily Todd Martin, but he did (in five sets). My heart may have been with Martin, but my brain was right about this one.
Paradorn Srichaphan: Damn! Lleyton Hewitt defeated Srichaphan tonight in four sets. It's not that I'm all that upset that Hewitt beat Srichaphan; it's that I originally picked Hewitt over Srichaphan. I have the correction fluid on my draw to prove it, too. As I said when I announced my picks, though, it was either Hewitt or Srichaphan, and I thought Srichaphan might just be the hotter of the two. Maybe all the rain cooled him down.
Rainer Schuettler: Foiled again! Tonight, Sjeng Schalken defeated Schuettler in four sets. So, once again, I had the right players going into the round of 16, but I had the wrong one coming out. Partial credit?
Andy Roddick: I absolutely got this one right. He's looking just about invincible.
Younes El Aynaoui: Woo hoo! Yesssssss. Woo hoo! Hee hee. This is the prediction that makes me the proudest. I had #22 El Aynaoui in the quarters, correctly guessing that he'd outlast both #10 Jiri Novak (that was a close one, huh?—7-5 in a fifth-set tiebreaker) and #7 Carlos Moya. Damn, I'm good (but only part-time).
Roger Federer: Once again, I had the right players in the round of 16; I just thought that Federer would be too tough, finally, for David Nalbandian. I say "finally" because I knew that Nalbandian had beaten Federer all four times the two had played. That sure game me some pause, but I thought the Wimbledon champion would have some newly-found confidence and momentum. I was wrong. Damn, I'm pathetic (but only part-time).
Finals: I'm adhering to my prediction that it'll be Roddick over Agassi. Roddick has looked absolutely incredible during the tournament. And his young legs certainly won't hurt him in the days ahead, as the tournament struggles to get caught up from all the rain.
Amélie Mauresmo - I got this one right, too, of course. I can't be unhappy with that.
Lindsay Davenport - Given her continuing foot injury, this pick seemed a tiny bit dicey. Still, Davenport hasn't stumbled (no pun intended).
Conchita Martinez - As I mentioned over the weekend, Martinez disappointed me again. The quarterfinalist is #24 Paola Suarez. There's so little chance that I would've picked Suarez over both Martinez and #8 Chandra Rubin that I just can't feel too bad.
Jennifer Capriati - I got this one right, too.
Ai Sugiyama - I want partial credit for this one, ok? I correctly had Sugiyama meeting #29 Francesca Schiavone in the round of 16, and that ought to be worth a little something, huh? Schiavone beat Sugiyama today in a tough three-setter that lasted four days because of the rain. Ugh.
Mary Pierce - Pierce made it to the round of 16, but she lost today to #7 Anastasia Myskina. I can't beat myself up about this one. I had Myskina in the round of 16, and it would have been pretty nutty to pick her for the quarters, I think. In fact, she nearly lost in each of the first three rounds. (Ironically, Myskina's easiest match has been the rain-rain-rain-delayed match over Pierce.)
Justine Henin-Hardenne - No troubles here.
And just so I have something tennis-related to blog about tonight, I'll mention this. SI's Frank Deford says it's perfectly ok for fans to admire good-looking athletes, including a "smoldering Robby Ginepri," even if they don't win the big ones. Deford's best line, in a discussion about how a sexy Tiger Woods is good for the game of golf: If you were trying to make a pinup calendar for the PGA, you couldn't get past April. Hmmm.
P.S.: As much as I want to be your intrepid Roomba correspondent, I don't think I have the time or the patience to hang out at the online Roomba Community for you (this link also via PVRblog). Maybe I just don't get it, but it's a vacuum cleaner, not a lifestyle.
Who didn't I see in the round of 16? Here's the list, as well as my excuses:
Noguchi's works in clay were one of the influences on a group of Japanese potters called Sodeisha; that group helped move Japanese ceramics away from a focus on vessels. Some of the most compelling pieces in the Sackler show—which is entitled Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics—were done by Yagi Kazuo, one of Sodeisha's founders. I was thoroughly charmed by the entire show, from Noguchi's earliest pieces to the most modern pieces. I'm glad I made a special trip to see the show, which ends on September 7. (As you might recall, I promised myself months ago that I'd make the show.)
While I was at the Sackler, I checked out—a bit too quickly—Love and Yearning: Mystical and Moral Themes in Persian Poetry and Painting, which opened on Saturday. I focused yesterday on the watercolors in the exhibit, which were colorful and tiny (the Sackler provides magnifying glasses for a reason). One watercolor really grabbed my attention. It depicts a physician's visit to a love-struck patient's house. The backstory, which was helpfully provided, is a folk tale about a man who falls in love with his physician. The doctor's visits fuel the love, of course, and the patient can't get well—probably doesn't even want to get well. That painting, and several others, had a definite homoerotic theme, by the way. Love and Yearning runs through February 22, so I should have a chance to get a more complete look at the show. (Some of the accoutrements of the show, including an interactive station focused more on manuscripts, weren't up and running yesterday.)
The secondary purpose of my visit was to visit the National Museum of African Art's exhibition The Fabric of Moroccan Life, which looks at Moroccan textiles and embroideries. The exhibition is awfully well-done, down to the Moroccan music and light fixtures. I was really taken with a beautiful curtain that must have been 10 feet long. It depicts several minarets in a rich, shiny purple silk that contrasts well with the white background. Some of the show's more striking pieces—but not the curtain (why are my choices always idiosyncratic?)—can be seen here. Moroccan Life runs through November 2. It's definitely worth an hour of your time if you find yourself in D.C. before then.
That was about all I could see in my afternoon in D.C. It's awfully hard for me to make it to D.C. and back in a single day—and be productive while I'm there. That's why I usually plan multi-day trips to D.C. I'm planning one of those trips for this autumn because my favorite museum on the planet—the Hirshhorn—is celebrating its permanent collection in a show called Gyroscope. Gyroscope runs through January 4, and I'll definitely be spending at least a full day there. (For a less positive look at Gyroscope than you'll likely find here, see Tyler Green's artnet review of the show as well as some additional thoughts he posted on his own excellent blog, Modern Art Notes.)
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