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April 30, 2005

Obligatory "Thumbs Up" to Hitchhiker's Guide

My friend Mark and I are visiting my brother in Fairfax this weekend (while the child is having a weekend with my in-laws and the wife is enjoying a bender her first ladies' weekend out in four years. Tonight we saw the new movie adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. That series in its novel, TV and radio drama forms was a big cultural part of the high school geek crowd I ran, er, slouched with. I was eagerly awaiting revisiting this part of my youth. That excitement was tempered somewhat when Adams biographer MJ Simpson wrote a blistering, devastating early review. (Link is to the Google cache, as Simpson's site is currently down.) We speculated a fair bit on whether Simpson was simply too close to his subject, or if the movie was truly that bad.

Having seen it for myself, it is my considered opinion that Simpson was smoking crack. Hitchhiker's is far from a perfect movie -- it's unambiguously a mess. But what a glorious mess, zipping from slapstick to sardonic humor. There are a couple of sentimental tar pits that bear no resemblance to the nihilistic authorial voice Adams adopted for his final Hitchhiker novel, Mostly Harmless. But those are thankfully brief. Hitchhiker's throws a ton of ideas on the screen, and there are more than enough winners to make the movie worth the price of admission, particularly if you are fond of its previous incarnations. Just don't expect the Second Coming of Adams. That would be needlessly messianic.

April 20, 2005

April 20

It's reliably reported that on April 20, 1996, you and I shared a fist-pump upon hearing Rev. Jerold Shetler say, "I now pronounce you...."

Nine years later it's not what we imagined. How can you visualize yourself so far ahead through moves, career changes, parenthood (and pre-parenthood angst), and just plain personal (and interpersonal) evolution? We've learned, and are re-learning, the same lessons every couple finds -- that marriages and partnerships aren't states of being but they're things you are constantly building, constantly doing, every moment.

It's not always the way we want it -- we'd have to be robots to want the same thing at the same time every day. But if you ever doubted it, let me tell you again: life with you isn't what I imagined, all right. It's better, more complete, it's transformed me, my greatest blessing, my favorite challenge, the thing that keeps me strong when the world around us has gone crazy, the gift for which I am most thankful.

Without you and Will, I would be a much hollower man.

With you and Will, I am alive.

Happy anniversary.

April 8, 2005

However, They're Assured of Great Seats for THE LONGEST YARD

Fans lined up at Grauman's refuse to believe that Revenge of the Sith will not be opening there.

(Thanks, Mr. Sun!)

April 6, 2005

You, too, could be Physician of the Year!

All you need to do is contribute $1,250 to the NRCC. Nifty plaque included.

Mueller soon found he was not the only winner. There were hundreds of Physicians of the Year present, many of whom found the criteria for being selected equally as opaque.

"You know, nobody knows, so don't feel bad about it," Mueller said one attendee told him. "I think that more than likely it's to get us Republicans together under the pretense that maybe you will work a little harder to keep Republicans in office."

... A Republican spokesman said there were thousands of doctors around the country content with their Physicians of the Year awards, and that there was nothing about the program to apologize for.

(From ABC.)

April 5, 2005

Coolest Web Toy Ever

Go to Google Maps. Look up an address. Click on the "satellite" link at the top of the page. Scroll around a fully interactive satellite image of the address -- and everything near it. You can see your house from here....

The Doherty Legacy

Via Ed Cone, here's Mickey McLean:

Say what you want about Matt Doherty, but he did recruit a talented group of kids to play at Carolina. And the fact that Roy Williams was able to mold them into National Champions in two short years is nothing short of amazing. But that really shouldn't surprise us since it was that formula—Doherty recruiting, Williams coaching—that led to much success for Kansas in the 1990s.

Roy Williams was thinking of Doherty during his post-game press conference:

You know, I did feel so badly for what happened a couple years ago. I felt badly for Matt Doherty. Let's not forget he's the guy who recruited most of these guys, with the exception for Marvin and Quentin. Jackie and Jawad and Melvin for sticking with it, after starting 8-20. To me it means more for those kids than it does anything that can be said about our program.

... But I also am going to sit back and understand that these guys, my assistants, this staff and the kids really bought into everything we tried to do. We're 33-4. Again, I feel for Matt Doherty, I really do. If Matt was right there, I would want him to know that this was special and I would give Matt Doherty a big hug. Matt Doherty needs to be back in coaching, too.

Raymond Felton even mentioned finally accepting some old advice from Doherty:

Felton shot only 31 percent from the floor last year, but he raised his shooting percentage to 46 percent this season after changing his shooting form by tucking his elbow closer to his body.

Felton said former North Carolina Matt Doherty suggested that he change his shot as a freshman with the Tar Heels, but Felton resisted the change. Tired of hearing about how he couldn't shoot, he decided to correct the mechanical flaw after the 2003-04 season.

Old habits are hard to break, so Felton began a regiment of 600 jump shots a day.

"I basically brought my elbow in to help make my shot more accurate," Felton said. "And, then it was a lot of repetition, getting a lot of shots up each and every day. I just continued to work hard at it."

Given the events and personalities involved, a Matt Doherty-coached 2004-05 Tar Heel team, successful or no, probably would not have won a national championship.

But it takes nothing away from Roy Williams's breathtaking success this year to point out that a Doherty-recruited team did.

April 4, 2005

Carolina Victory

There'll be a Carolina Victory,
When cross the field our foe has fled.
Cheer our team to victory,
For we are Tar Heels born and bred (Rah! Rah! Rah!)
Glory, Glory UNC,
Our hearts will live with thee.
Fight! Fight! Fight! for the blue and white
Are rolling to victory!


It's been a dramatic week for people concerned with issues of quality of life, freedom of choice, death with dignity, and reverence for life. The week's events -- the national spectacle of Terri Schiavo's death and the end of one of the most consequential papacies in history -- were brought home to me yesterday as I helped one of my oldest friends move some of his grandmother's things into the memory unit of an assisted living facility. Not long after Will was born, I bid final farewell to my own grandmother who also suffered from Alzheimer's. Last night was very familliar territory.

As I try to make sense of my own feelings upon once more seeing elderly people sitting blankly in visiting rooms and helping my friend figure out what few items would fit in his grandmother's new room (and appreciating the difficulty he faces the today, as she leaves the hospital but does not go home), I've found a couple of things that feel simultaneously true and contradictory.

On John Paul II:

The final legacy of this man will be the way he has died. The way he has fallen apart, disintegrated—physically, emotionally, mentally, embarrassingly—before the world, making a spectacle of himself.

Now [the documentary was filmed in 1999] he can barely say a word. He's drooling, the body is out of control, headed directly to the [final] moment, and still…he wants the world to see…[his] final encounter with the ultimate question.

For him I am sure this was the moment to embody everything he has said. [That] human life is worthwhile, no matter what—no matter how weak, no matter how insignificant it may look….To challenge the world, which is obsessed with image, with youth, with success, with power, with words. Forcing us to look at the aged, either in ourselves or in others. And in the end summing up his very first words to the world: "Be not afraid.” Be not afraid of even being afraid. The value of your life is worth infinity. It can not be destroyed by death.”

On the politics of Terri Schiavo:

The real lesson of the Schiavo case is not that we all need living wills; it is that our dignity does not reside in our will alone, and that it is foolish to believe that the competent person I am now can establish, in advance, how I should be cared for if I become incapacitated and incompetent. The real lesson is that we are not mere creatures of the will: We still possess dignity and rights even when our capacity to make free choices is gone; and we do not possess the right to demand that others treat us as less worthy of care than we really are.

There's some hemming and hawing later on — it's a tough decison, best not to have the state involved, etc. etc. — but Cohen's bottom line is clear: in order to avoid slippery slopes, we should insist on keeping anyone alive who's this side of irreversible brain death. It doesn't matter if you've made your wishes clear. You should not be allowed to control your own destiny. Period. ... If they won't even let me control my own destiny, why should I let them control anyone else's?

There's a lot more here to chew on than I've got time for on a lunch break. I'll likely come back to this soon. But I find myself simultaneously concerned over the choices that might or might not be available to me and my family at the end of my life, and genuinely, honestly inspired by the way John Paul II lived, and died, in the twilight of his calling -- not giving up, and blessing the people throughout his pain.