Signs of the Apocalypse

Anna Nicole Smith is appearing before the Supreme Court today (Yes, that Supreme Court). Look out, Justice Stevens, she's partial to octogenarians! Let's hope that the fabric of reality can withstand this one.

And if there was ever a Supreme Court case you'd like to see televised, this would have to be the one. None of those dry, boring lists of legal precedents that make the eyes of normal folk like you and me glaze over; no, this would be more like an Oprah! episode breaking out in the staid chambers of the highest court in the land. Actually, I think they missed an opportunity here: Think of what they could have made with a pay-per-view special! They might have made substantial inroads into the national debt.


Old Movies (1941 Edition)

I watched two old movies today from 1941. The first, "Here Comes Mister Jordan," was remade in 1978 as "Heaven Can Wait," with Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in the starring roles. For anyone familiar with the remake, it was recognizably the same movie, with the main difference being that in the original movie, Joe Pendleton was a boxer, but in the remake, he was the quarterback on the Los Angeles Rams. I really liked "Heaven Can Wait," and I'd never seen "Here Comes Mister Jordan" before, but I liked it as well.

The second movie, which just finished, was "Sergeant York," a biopic about a man from the backwoods of Tennessee who finds religion, then is drafted into the Army in World War I. At first he tries to claim conscientious objector status, but after talking with his unit's commanding officer and some serious soul-searching, he decides that sometimes it's necessary to fight to defend your country. Sergeant Alvin York is played by Gary Cooper, and he won an Oscar for his portrayal. The high point of the picture is when Sergeant York and a handful of men capture a bunch of Germans in the trenches, and then when another group of Germans turns their machine gun on Sergeant York's men, he single-handedly kills about 20 of them and captures the rest, a total of 132 of the enemy. For his valor in charging the machine gun nest, Sergeant York received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Spotted in the credits: A very young (15- or 16-year-old) June Lockhart played Alvin York's younger sister, Rosie.


Gee Whiz!

In the news, from Whizconsin:

Urine Samples Taken From Probation Office

Whoever broke into a state probation and parole office left with items that can be key evidence - urine samples of those under court orders not to use alcohol or illegal drugs.

Agents who work out of the state Department of Corrections Probation and Parole office periodically require people under the court orders to submit the samples for testing.

Police Capt. Mike Babe said someone broke into the Waukesha office Monday night or early Tuesday and took all the urine samples that had been stored in the office.

Ain't that a pisser?!


"Stuck On You" by Elvis Presley

Well, THAT makes me feel incredibly middle-aged, being as how ol' Elvis is almost thirty years in the grave.

What was the #1 song in the U.S.A. the day you were born?

Thanks to Josh Hosler. Found via Mary Katharine Ham at HughHewitt.com.

Wow, It HAS Been a While, Hasn't It?

I went back to work last Wednesday. Except for a lingering cough, I feel fine.

I wasted my best writing of the weekend in the comments of someone else's blog, so I'll just plagiarize myself here with my take on the press reaction to the Cheney kerfuffle:

"I was recovering from the flu while watching those [White House] press conferences last Monday and Tuesday, and for a moment, in my feverish state, I thought I was watching an out-take blooper reel from the Westminster Dog Show, seeing a pack of pampered poodles and chihuahuas yapping and snarling at their handler and then lining up and lifting their legs en masse to use him as a fire hydrant. Then my vision cleared and I saw that the pooches were actually the ink-stained wretches and talking heads of the Washington press corps going berserk on poor Scott McClellan. I just shook my head. What more needs to be said?"

I watched a bunch of old movies over the weekend: "Joe vs. the Volcano" (a critically panned but underrated Tom Hanks movie, with Meg Ryan chewing up the scenery in a triple role), "The Terminator" (vintage Ahnold, although Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton were great in their roles), the 1967 classic "The Taming of the Shrew" (with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in the starring roles) and finally, "The Silence of the Lambs." For me, Jodie Foster was the perfect Clarice Starling, and I thought it was a shame they didn't get her back for the Clarice role in "Hannibal."


Getting Better All the Time

I think this must have been that "California Flu" that they were talking about last month. All I know is that I haven't been that sick in a long time, maybe ever. I think my fever is pretty much gone (I don't have a thermometer here at home), and the exhaustion and the aches and pains are ebbing. Of course, I slept another 12 hours or so yesterday, so that could be part of it. I figured that in the 72-hour period starting Tuesday morning at 8:00, I slept for a total of about 44 hours, which is more than I usually sleep in a whole week. I've even eaten some solid food today, so I'm slowly getting back to normal. For now, it's plenty of water and more rest. Hopefully I'll be okay to go back to work on Monday.

Man, it sucks being sick.

My theory is that I probably picked up the germs at the Tut exhibition. With that many people from all over the place packed in so closely, it was a virtual incubator for disease. Bekki told me that it was Tut's curse. I think she was kidding.


The Flu, Day 2

I don't remember much about yesterday. I went to sleep around 8:15 in the morning, and slept on and off for about 20 hours or so. I haven't eaten anything since yesterday morning around 4 a.m. I'm not really hungry. I'm feeling marginally better today than yesterday, although I'm still feverish and achy. I'm drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest. It looks like I'm out of commission for the rest of the week.

I'm watching the "Flight 93" docudrama on A&E. I saw another one last year called "The Flight That Fought Back." It's probably not good for me to watch something like that, because it brings back all the sorrow and anger I felt on that horrible day. And yet, it's important not to forget, not to sweep it under the rug. Our enemies are still out there.


Feeling Like Shit

I think I'm coming down with the flu. Last night at work, I noticed a slight barking cough, followed by body aches, chills, fever, headache and that "stretched-out" feeling your head gets when you're running a fever. I was feeling worse and worse as the night wore on. When I got home, I took a three-hour nap, waking up about three times. I think I might be slightly dehydrated, too.

Did I mention that I feel like shit today?

I think I'll go back to bed now.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I went to the "Treasures of Tutankhamun" exhitibiton in Fort Lauderdale yesterday. As the title of this post suggests, the experience was a mixed bag. The original plan was for me to take my dad to the exhibition as a Christmas present. I had talked with my ex-wife, Bekki, over the holidays and she said that it sounded like something she'd like to see, too. I told her that she was welcome to come along. I ordered tickets for the three of us last week, including a Senior ticket for my dad, since he's over 65.

Well, on Friday, my dad called me and told me that he had bronchitis and was as sick as a dog. He wasn't able to go, which was disappointing. I called Bekki and told her that we had an extra ticket if she knew someone 65 or older who wanted to go. Alas, she didn't, so I ended up eating the cost of the ticket.

We met up as arranged at 10:00 yesterday morning and drove across Alligator Alley to Fort Lauderdale. I'd gotten the driving instructions off the Ticketmaster web site, and I also pulled the map up on Mapquest. I knew exactly where I was going, and we had no problems at all finding the parking garage across the street from the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, where the exhibition is taking place.

The weather was ugly, very ugly. It rained hard most of the drive across the state. Fortunately, we both brought umbrellas. By the time we arrived, it was only drizzling in downtown Fort Lauderdale. We got there around 12:30, about two hours early, and the plan was to have some lunch and then look around the trendy Riverfront area, which has cafes, restaurants and shops.

We went into the Museum box office to get our tickets at Will Call, and then I discovered that I'd left the paper on which I'd written down the ticket order number in the car. I had to go back across the street to get it. As I went out the door, the skies opened up and it began to pour down rain. Having an umbrella doesn't help much when the rain is blowing in diagonally. I went back to the car and got the paper, then went back across the street. In that short period of time, puddles about two inches deep had formed along the curbs by the crosswalks. By time I got back inside, my legs and shoes were soaked from the driving rain and puddles.

I got our tickets and then we went back out into the deluge to find lunch. We ended up having subs at Quizno's. Well, I had a sub; Bekki had a salad and one of those SoBe energy drinks in a pastel purple flavor. I think it was raspberry-blueberry, but I wouldn't swear to it. Then we went and looked around a couple of the eclectic shops nearby, before going to the Museum's gift shop to look for souvenirs.

Finally, the time for our entrance approached. Bekki didn't want to go up the stairs (she broke a leg a dozen years ago and doesn't like stairs), so she took the elevator. I took the stairs and waited in the line that snaked up to the door. I made it inside a little after 2:30. She was waiting inside, wondering what had taken so long.

A word of advice: If you go to see this exhibition in Fort Lauderdale (or Chicago or Philadelphia, when it comes to those cities), be sure to pay the extra $7 per person to get the audio tour headset. The narration goes into a lot of detail about many of the objects on display. Bekki told me that she felt bad for the people who didn't have the headsets, because they were missing out on a lot of information.

The other bad thing, besides my dad not being able to go, was how crowded the exhibition was. There were a LOT of people moving through the halls, and it took us about and hour and a half to make it through. I would have liked to have gone through on a day when there perhaps half as many people in order to be able to move from item to item more quickly.

The Treasures themselves, however, were dazzling. The Boy King got a splendid send-0ff into the afterlife. Who says "You can't take it with you"? Tutankhamun did. It would be hard to go into a lot of detail about all of the items I saw, or rather, it would take too long. One of the most amazing items a saw was a child's chair, with a woven seat that looked like it was made of something similar to cane. It was more than three thousand years old and still intact due to the dry climate of Egypt.

The most visually stunning item was probably the golden mummy case. This one didn't belong to Tutankhamun, however. Also dazzling was a golden dagger which was found on Tutankhamun's body, as well as the golden crook and flail (with detail in faience, carnelian and glass) that were his symbols of authority, and the golden head-dress with the heads of a cobra and a vulture at its crown. There was a large ointment jar showing Tutankhamun trampling on the heads of Nubians and Syrians. There was a little game board for him to use in the afterlife, which was engraved with hieroglyphs telling how powerful he was (slightly intimidating if you were playing against him, as the narration pointed out).

There were many little shabti statues, which were engraved with spells from the Book of the Dead so that they would stand in for their maker in the afterlife if the gods demanded difficult labor. The shabtis were made from a variety of different substances, including clay, stone, copper, faience and gold.

"What is faience?" you ask. Faience is a glazed non-clay ceramic material, typically made from quartz, and the characteristic bright blue-green color comes from copper used in the glazing process. There were numerous faience items on display; especially common were the large ankhs which were the symbol for "life."

Also interesting were a number of symbolic model items that were expected to magically become real in the afterlife, including jars, toy boats and even a non-working camp chair. There was a glass headrest of the type that Egyptians wrapped with cloth and used instead of pillows when they slept. This one had a spell from the Book of the Dead to protect the mummy's head.

There were also several alabaster canopic jars, which held the entrails of the body when it was mummified. One of Tutankhamun's canopic jars bore a disturbing resemblence to Michael Jackson, which I pointed out to Bekki. Maybe it's the other way around, though; perhaps Michael Jackson was using it for his model for plastic surgery. Either way, it was kind of creepy.

All in all, we had a good time. My pants had even dried out by the time I finally got home. My shoes were still damp.


The Weekend is Here

The weather's supposed to be cloudy and rainy for the next couple of days, but I should still have a good time this weekend. Tomorrow, I'll be going over to Fort Lauderdale to see the "Treasures of Tutankhamen" exhibition, which should be really interesting; I'll blog about it when I get back. And Sunday is the Super Bowl (Go Seahawks!) so I have plenty of things to do, all of which will disrupt my normal sleep schedule. But sometimes you just have to say, "What the heck."

Time for some breakfast. More later...