Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Exciting Announcement I Alluded to Yesterday

ChuckDaddy and his lovely wife Mrs. ChuckDaddy are the proud parents of a new son, Baby ChuckDaddy! Isn't that sweet?

Here's the traditional rundown:
  • 12:40pm Friday
  • 8 lbs 3 oz
  • 50 centimeters

I encourage you to rush over to the ChuckDaddyXpress right this second and leave your congratulations there. Even if you have no idea who I'm talking about.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Games that Were, the Games that Will Be, Again

I: The Games That Were: the Quiz

Oh, my gentle readers. They skip quizzes on obscure presidents and Shakespeare plays because they are "too easy," they pile up perfect scores on never-discussed African countries, and they wouldn't know a Stephen King bestseller if it tore into their entrails like a huge, primordial, unaccountably savage dog-beast.

I don't think any of the week's winners expected victory. But despite herself, last week's winner Karin successfully defended her title for the gold. Quiz perennial Rex Parker took the silver, his second, and newcomer Mark Witteman matched his score early Friday morning for the blue. Kudos to them, and to everyone who gave it the ol' college try.

II: The Games That Were: (Not Such a) Tough Week for Michael5000

I didn't get that job I was all excited about it. Didn't even make the second interview cut, in fact. But in the meantime, things are looking up at the existing job, so it's all good.

Plus I nailed Mr. Shain's impromptu quiz, and he actually had a real prize on offer, unlike some cheap-ass quizzes I could name.

III: The Games that Will Be: The Monday Quiz?

I've got it! I've got it! And I owe it all to the [Cherry] Ride!

[Cherry] had this to say about the Thursday Quiz:

This game would be much more fun if it wasn't 12 questions. Can't we narrow it
down to, say, five?
The answer of course is no, no we can't. The Thursday Quiz is timeless and eternal. However, there is no reason that the Monday quiz couldn't be narrowed down to, say, five. So, [Cherry], here's your long-distance dedication: The Monday Quiz starts October 1, a relaxed earlier-in-the-week and shorter version of the Thursday Quiz.

Meanwhile, if you're got some spare creative energy on tap, I've got a practical "Name That Quilt" contest going over at State of the Craft.

IV: The Games That Will Be: And may I just point out that I have not been wrong yet this year?

1. #11 Oregon is favored by the betting community by five points over the visiting #6 Cal Bears, due to that team's inconsistency on the road and to the cheerfully hostile environment of Autzen Stadium. And friends, I can not tell you how much I will be hoping to see our beloved Ducks prevail. L&TM5K readers, however, have come to expect the unvarnished analysis of my head, not the yearnings of my heart, and so I am obligated to forecast: #6 California 45, #11 Oregon 42. Oregon will dominate three of the quarters, but give the game away in one of them.

2. However, chronically inconsistant Oregon State will make me feel better by bringing home their first major victory at their newly tarted-up home stadium: Oregon State 33, UCLA 27.

3. #4 Oklahoma takes on my in-laws' team on the road. I frankly expect the Sooners to pound them into the dirt. Oklahoma 53, Colorado 17.

Coming soon: Another Concert Rundown, some lists, another goofy photo thing, the world debut Monday Quiz... Exciting times here at L&TM5K. And stay tuned this weekend for a VERY EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT. Really.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Thursday Quiz V

Mercy. It's already time for

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is, as always, a "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T in the week's category.

There has been considerable discussion -- by which I mean carping -- about the Thursday quiz adjudication process. Dear readers, I beg of your pardon: the original rules were not entirely clear. Here is an updated description of the scoring criteria:
  • When the game is up, contestants are ranked in order of score.
  • Any tied scores are ranked in the order that the entries were submitted.
  • First place is the extremely coveted gold star.
  • Second place is the very coveted silver star.
  • Third place is the somewhat coveted blue star, since bronze looks too much like gold.
  • Retroactively to last week, anyone tieing with but submitting their entry subsequent to the third place winner is awarded the green star!
  • But keep in mind that it is the journey, not the destination.

Also, and very importantly:

  • Anyone who elects to skip a week because they don't know much about a topic is a big chicken and a fuddy-duddy.
Remember always the keystone of all that is right and good:

No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday
Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will be drawn and quartered.

This Week's Category just goes to show that the Thursday Quiz isn't all stuffy:

The Novels of Stephen King
Let's shred.

1. Bag of Bones
2. Coriolanus
3. Cycle of the Werewolf
4. Dark Horse
5. Desperation
6. Erstwhile
7. The Horror
8. The House on Blood Street
9. Insomnia
10. Misery
11. The Plant
12. Ran Red

The race is to the swift! And to the knowledgeable! And lucky! Submit your answers as a comment.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cultures in Collision: a Workplace Vignette

When you work with refugees, it is a really, really good idea never to make physical contact with a member of the opposite sex. This is all the more so if the member of the opposite sex is a Muslim woman from the Horn of Africa. "Yes, some of them will be willing to shake your hand if you offer it," a conservative Somali coworker admonishes. "But you should never offer it! When they are touching a man, they are dying inside."


I was bustling through the building earlier today at a purposeful clip, several other people following right behind me. Going through a doorway, I ran directly into a Somali woman. Her back was turned to me. She had been having a parting conversation with a friend down the hall, and she had left her arm stretched out behind her, vaguely reaching for the doorknob.

We collided. I couldn't back up, because of the other people following me through the door. The Somali woman and I were pinned together, stunned, for a long, long fraction of a second, as we both processed the fact that her palm had become firmly, unambiguously pressed against my, um, boy parts.

I was the first to recover. I very gently grasped her arm and moved it away from my body. And I waited for... what? Anger? Humiliation? Hysterical weeping? Some indication that she was dying inside?

To my relief, she and her friend both burst into the universal laughter that comes immediately after life's more ridiculous and embarassing moments. I gave her the most sincere "excuse me" of my life to date, and continued on down the hall.

The Great Movies: "Aguirre, the Wrath of God"

If you have spent any time at all reading this blog (not even to mention its two obsessive-compulsive sister blogs) you will understand that big arbitrary projects are a big part of the the michael5000 experience. And behold, since I could not possibly have too much on my plate, this week I am beginning another pointless, oversized endeavor.

Dad5000 recently tossed out his copy of Roger Ebert's 2002 The Great Movies, a collection of 100 essays on that critic's favorite films of all time. I brought it home, where it gathered dust until a few weeks ago when, after drinking entirely too much lukewarm white wine, I grabbed it as a late-night leisure read. And you know, Ebert made all of those movies sound reeealy good. "I should watch all of these!" I thought.

So, now you know how I organize my life. I'm going to watch the 100 "Great Movies," and do the predictable write-ups here. Subject to the vagaries of the Multnomah County Public Library, chance, and of course Mrs.5000, I will be watching most of them in more or less alphabetical order. More or less. No reason.

Here we go!

At the Movies with Michael5000

Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Werner Herzog, 1972

One of the great things about the whole moving-pictures-with-sound concept is that it can help you imagine what it would be like to live an entirely different kind of life. Aguirre does this very, very well. It does not try to entertain you with exciting action or an interesting plot. In fact, it doesn't really try to entertain you at all, at least not in the "that's entertainment!" sense of the word. What it does, and pretty damn well, is to create a mood and a sense of empathy for what life (and death) was like in a certain historical context. You read sometimes about people doing things like trying to move cannons through the Amazon jungle in the 1500s. Here's an idea of what that must have actually looked like.

The Plot: Standard Heart of Darkness stuff. An episodic trip down a river through hostile territory, a descent into madness and desperation. In this case, the characters are Spanish conquistadors and the river flows into the Amazon Basin.

The Visuals: Stunning. From the opening scene, where a long line of soldiers, slaves, wives, and animals descend down a sheer cliff into the jungle below, the images are both lovely to look at and keen illustrations of the insanity and futility of what the characters are undertaking. There are a lot of long, steady camera shots; these are going to strike a lot of modern viewers as slow and boring, but make me sad for what we've lost with the more rapid cutting of newer movies. Sometimes its rewarding to just linger on a beautiful image, and sometimes the long impassive gaze on a scene is right for the mood. Both are true in Aguirre.

The Script: Spare. It's a image-driven movie. The characters, completely out of their element, often say things that are funny in a very dark, ironic sort of way. It seems odd at first to hear conquistadors speaking German, but you get used to that pretty quickly.

Prognosis: A great movie, but not for everyone. Recommended for film people, the overeducated in general, and folks interested in Latin American colonial history.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

One Way I Am Different From You

Mine has gloves!



I neglected to mention last post that, in addition to the three official winners of the Thursday quiz, mydogischelsea and ChuckDaddy2000 also submitted perfect scores later in the day. For this they do not get stars, but they do get accolades.


College Football Weekend Roundup

This is what it's like to be an Oregon Ducks fan: you start the season skeptical, but then get swept off your feet with a series of dominating performances against challenging opponents until you have dreams of a national title swirling through your sorry green and yellow heart. Then, during the fourth or fifth game of the season, after Oregon has built a commanding lead against a so-so opponent and you are beginning to pity the poor young men of the opposing side, something happens. Somebody becomes overconfident, or an opponent's offensive coordinator notices a weak spot, or something, and suddenly the big plays are all going the other way. The game, and then the season, gets flushed down into the sewers of broken football dreams.

That didn't happen this weekend, but it sure looked like it was going to. The Ducks' first play was a 75-yard touchdown pass, and after a dominant first quarter, they were up 21 - 3. Then came a long, strange nightmare of a second quarter, in which lowly Stanford put up four touchdowns to lead 31 - 21, before a field goal brought the Ducks back within seven at the half.

Final score? The ducks won 55 - 31. So that's good, they can clearly recover from adversity. My heart wasn't broken this weekend. No, it will likely be broken next weekend.

#13 Oregon 55, Stanford 31. (M5K's prediction was: UO 49, Stanford 14)

Arizona State 44, Oregon State 32. OSU took a quick 19 - 0 lead to get us all excited, but got ground down in the stretch. (M5K's prediction was: ASU 28, OSU 17)

San Diego State 52, Portland State 17. But, PSU's offense looked pretty good against a Division I-A opponent.

Other Games of Interest

Oklahoma 62, Tulsa 21. (M5K's prediction was: OU 61, Tulsa 31)

Michigan 14, #10 Penn State 9. Strange days in Ann Arbor.

Kansas 55, Florida International 3. Cute! Cute!

Southern Oregon 34, Willamette 27. I don't think Rebel even reads this part.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Games that Were, the Games that Will Be

I: The Games That Were: the Quiz

Who says Americans don't know their world geography! Well, lots of people say that, actually. But ignorance was nowhere in evidence this week as multiple perfect scores on the Countries of Africa topic shut down competition in the Thursday Quiz before the workday was even underway.
Ms. "Ask Me About Senegal" Karin made her first quiz star a gold one, spiritual traveler Austin seconded that emotion for the silver, and quiz stalwart Rex Parker made it look easy to claim the blue star, the second for his virtual trophy shelf. Props.

II: The Games That Were: Tough Week for Michael5000

It's not so much that mydogischelsea decided to run a twelve item "is it or isn't it" quiz of her own -- homage, I can live with. It's that her quiz really kicked my ass. Hoist on my own petard, I was. Guess I had it coming.

Compounding the misery, I was cast in a reality blog show -- you know, one of those 30-men-vie-desperately-for-the-attention-of-the-women-bloggers deals -- and was then voted off the proverbial island in the first round. Confused? Not to worry. So is everyone involved, not least Blythe and dmbmeg, whose mutual brainchild this was. The important thing is, I was good and humiliated in a public forum.

Aw, just kidding about the humiliation of course. Blythe, the one who actually gave me the axe, was super nice about it. It was a real honor to be nominated in the first place and tons of super fun while it lasted! I have no regrets, and certainly bear no rancor towards Blythe, shown here in a picture I found somewhere on the internet:

III: The Games that Will Be: The Monday Quiz?

There has been some behind-the-scenes kvetching that the Thursday Quiz is toooo haaard. Well, let me say this about that: the Thursday Quiz is supposed to be hard! I'm not in the business of passing virtual stars out like candy, people! Virtual stars must be earned!

Still, as I am sensitive to the wants and needs of my readership -- not to say a craven comment ho -- I am mulling over a more (shall we say) inclusive Monday quiz. One that would be less intimidating, less competitive, more friendly for the whole L&TM5K family. For instance, one thought was just a less challenging quiz in the same format, which has the benefit (for me) of being fun and relatively easy to construct. Thoughts? Input?

Just to clarify: The Thursday Quiz isn't going anywhere. It's the quiz of champions. Just ask Rebel, Jessica, Rex, or Karin.

IV: The Games That Will Be: Predictions have more cred when actually made in advance

1. #13 Oregon should have no trouble picking the Cardinal's defense to shreds: Oregon 49, Stanford 14.

2. Oregon State has not won at Tempe since before I was born. That's not going to change this week: Arizona State 28, Oregon State 17. [Mrs.5000, however, is picking OSU in this game. We'll see who really understands football in this house.]

3. #4 Oklahoma will face its first real challenge of the year against the Golden Tornados' explosive offense. Well, kind of. Oklahoma 61, Tulsa 31. [Is it just me, or does that team name sound really dirty?]

May I be the first to wish you a very happy weekend?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Thursday Quiz IV

Hi Kids! Time once again for

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is, as always, a "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T in the week's category.

Remember always the central tenet of Judeo-Christian ethics:

No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will be subject to gnawing guilt that will eat at them and eat at them and eat at them.

This Week's Category is gonna get cartographic on you:

The Countries of Africa

Bring it!

1. Benin
2. Brunei
3. Burundi
4. Central African Republic
5. Kuala Lampur
6. Laos
7. Lesotho
8. Luanda
9. Malawi
10. Mauritania
11. Mombossa
12. Talkeetna

Keeping in mind that it is supposed to be challenging, and that you aren't expected to get them all right, hold your chin high and submit your answers as a comment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

How to Be an Aging Indie Rocker

Why Be an Aging Indie Rocker?

Listen. You can be an indie rocker or not be an indie rocker. That's your deal. Take it, or leave it. But, if you are going to be an indie rocker, you are going to age. "Look out, you rock and rollers," said David Bowie, "pretty soon now, you're gonna get older." And the funny thing is, he said that about 30 years ago. And just look at him now!

What You'll Need

An appreciation for independently-produced rock music. This one is important. Unlike the more turbulant seasons of your life, when you could build an entire persona around your affection for, say, the Dead Milkmen, or Live, at your current age no one is going to give a rat's ass what you listen to. You can tell coworkers how you scored tickets to Wolf Parade all you want, and all you are going to get for your trouble is puzzled peers and a reputation as a really serious enviromentalist. You aren't going to be scoring points, so you better enjoy the sounds coming out of the speakers or you are just wasting your time, and lord knows you have less of that remaining every day.

Some money. Your days of catching three dollar shows at some rat-infested walk-in closet of a club are over, chum. Because of your inability to keep up with the scene -- more on which, below -- you don't even know where those clubs are. You certainly don't know the bands that play in them. No, you know the bands that have a high enough profile to surface on the various internet music services you so slavishly monitor. And these bands are just successful enough that you are going to have to surrender a twenty dollar bill or two in order to get in to the show. Plus, you are too old to know how to score free downloads, so you'll have to pay for that too. You might even go to the record store, which is quaint and all, but again -- it costs money.

Internet Access. Which you obviously have, since you are reading a "Blog." Which is short for "Web Log." They were popular about six years ago. I started mine this summer.

The Ability to Stay Up Late. This can be pretty painful. Many independant rock bands do not even start playing until well after most men and women of your advanced years are blissfully in bed. If you are past 35, it will take about a week after the show before you really feel rested again. No one said this would be easy.

Comfortable Shoes. That's right. No chairs. It sucks, but what can you tell these kids?

Some Sort of Ear Protection. Remember, in your younger years, how you knew and yet did not care that if you went to lots of really loud rock concerts you would lose your hearing in the future, when you got old? Well my friend, the future is now.


The Warp of Time. As you age, the concept of novelty stretches out with a weird relativistic flexibility. Back when you were secretary of the sophomore class, you realized that a song, a band, or a hep piece of def slang can be considered fresh, new, and relevant for a period of a few weeks or so. By the time you entered your twenties, you began to hang onto your songs and your groovy jive for months and then, with increasing persistance, years at a time.

And by the time you reach middle age, my lad, you have lost track of which decades events fell into. The sudden popularity of Seinfeld, the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust, young men wearing their waistbands around their knees, flags plastered to every available lapel and surface, "Achy Breaky Heart," the expression "talk to the hand," 50 Cent, all of these things crowd together in a murky eternal present. Because they came to your attention after you graduated from college, they feel like something that is happening, more or less, now. They are new, au courant, like something you might mention to a younger person to telegraph how damn hip you really are.

If you are approximately my age, you are all too aware that Nirvana seems, yes, like a band that had some historical importance, but also like a band that had some historical importance recently. You are still proud of how early you caught on to Nirvana, aren't you. You saw how catalytic they were going to be right away, when everyone else was still gaping. Does this make you cool? No, sir, this does not make you cool. It only makes you old. Most people at the show were not old enough to dress themselves when Kurt Cobain made his one-way trip to the greenhouse. Get over it.

Staying in the Know I: Volume. The college-age music fan has vast reserves of time in which she can go to shows, scrutinize obscure recordings, seek out the most ascerbic of critics, and in general educate herself about the minutia of her chosen subgenre. You can not hope to keep up with this. You, my friend, have a real job, and likely a mortgage, a marriage, land and property to keep maintained, and, god willing, a diverse range of friendships, interests, and involvements in the community. She, the college-age music fan, will discover two or three new favorite bands every week. Count yourself on an excellent pace if you can discover four or five every year. No, of course it's not fair, but frankly you don't have much time left to enjoy your new discoveries anyway. Buck up.

Staying in the Know II: Proportion. It is easy, especially with the decentralized distribution that the Internet hath wrought, to follow bands without having any real sense of how popular they are. Here is a "current" (i.e. only 2 1/2 years old) example from my own journey, to illustrate: In a two-week period, I went out to see Jim's Big Ego, Guided by Voices, and the White Stripes. Not having scrutinized the tickets, I figured that Guided by Voices, an established band with a dedicated cult following, would be the biggest show of the three. JBE, being just so stinking awesome, would be the middle show. The White Stripes, kind of a concept band that was only just then coming off of a breakthrough record, should draw a small but enthusiastic crowd. I hardly need tell you how surprised I was by the arena crowd for the 'Stripes, or by the (basically) living room that JBE played in. [For the record, all three shows were scorching great. I didn't feel truly rested again for about a month.]


I like this band, she likes this band.... Aging Indie Rockers who hit on young indie rockers are not, sadly, always unsuccessful. They are, however, always pathetic. If you are just that attracted to someone twenty years your junior, perhaps you might inquire if her mother is available.

Obsession is not pretty. Your neighbors and colleagues will meet your fanaticism for a band, sub-genre, or club scene with the same numb tolerance that they would extend to a trekkie, Hummel figurine collector, or avid breeder of ferrets. If you can talk about a range of other things as well, it will help a lot.

The Rock and Roll Lifestyle. At 24, putting away that much alcohol was rakish, daring, rebellious. At your age, it's just sad that you haven't got your little problem under control. Drugs? At 20, they made you kind of crazy and edgy. At your age, they make you a derelict. Trashing the place? Dude, you've got assets. They'll sue your ass. Go home and sleep it off. You'll feel better in a few weeks.

The Rewards?

None, really. Take it or leave it. The rock music available today is incomparably better than the crap that we listened to when we were kids. You won't have to dig very hard to find some really great stuff that you'll enjoy a lot. But on the other hand, so what? It's not like it's important or anything.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Three Things That Should Not Have Been Surprises

We'll do the local-interest one first:

I: Wild Animals Are Not Pets

Recently, some folks here in the Beaver State were found to be keeping a couple of deer as pets. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, citing laws against keeping wild animals as pets, confiscated the deer and will try to re-release them back into the wild. Where they arguably belong. In that they are, you know, wild animals and everything.

Good! Except that, at this point the Oregonian, as part of its increasingly constant program of getting people all riled up about stupid shit, ran a fair and balanced top-of-the-front-page story on the affair. In the 'gonian's coverage, the State of Oregon, portrayed thus:

...wanted to take the deer:
...away from the nice people.... order to be mean. And to break their hearts. The word "heartbroken" has been flying around a lot. Public outcry ensued. People who, last week, would have quite sanely opposed the keeping of wild animals as pets, are now coming out as noisily anti-heartbroken. I know autumn is supposed to make people sentimental, but this is just getting ridiculous.

For the record, I would be entirely willing to have my state tax money spent on getting the nice people a new pet to speed their grieving process. Perhaps one of the established, name-brand domestic animals. A dog, say. Or a cat.

II. Britney Spears is Not a Genius of the Performing Arts

Even a recluse like myself, with no television, no commercial radio, and only the thin, thin thread of the aforementioned Oregonian to connect me with the outside world, knew about our nation's collective stunned disbelief last weekend. Britney Spears put in an amateurish performance at an MTV awards shindig. Everyone is reeling. Everyone is afraid this may hurt her comeback efforts.

In the interest of Truth, I journeyed to the MTV website to see video of the performance. And indeed, though it's not the fiasco that internet scuttlebutt had led me to expect, Ms. Spears comes as a modestly talented high school sophomore trying to keep up with the professional entertainers around her.

But People! Exactly when, in her bizarrely long career, did she ever come off as anything else?

III. There's Trouble in the Sub-Prime Lending Market!

Let's ignore for the moment that the credit system in the United States is a creepy Orwellian threat to personal liberty. Don't think so? Order a copy of your credit report; you are entitled to a free one once a year. You'll be dazzled at how much more they know about your finances than you do. But like I said, let's ignore that for the moment.

Our economy has recently been rocked as financial professionals have discovered, to their shock and horror, that if you lend lots and lots of money to people with poor credit, some of them are not going to be able to pay you back!

That's right, the guardians of our economy in both the public and private sectors, men and women in very nice suits, many of whom presumably have degrees in business and finance from expensive colleges, have been caught completely off guard by this development. Which is strange. I, myself, with no knowledge of the sophisticated wheels of finance, found it quite alarming a few years back when mortgage companies were agressively peddling low-interest, no-down-payment mortgages to any strung-out tweaker who could stay out of jail long enough to get to the closing. Didn't you, dear reader?

Doesn't it seem strange that noted financial megagenius Alan Greenspan didn't?

What part of "sub-prime" didn't they understand?

College Football Weekend Roundup

#19 Oregon 52, Fresno State 21. Oh my. Even without showing up for the third quarter, the Duckies still took a perfectly legit FSU team completely to the cleaners. We could be in for a hell of a season here. Although let us not forget, the road to Eugene is paved with broken dreams. (Michael5000's prediction was: UO 33, FSU 24)

Oregon State 61, Idaho State 10. After last week's debacle, it was OSU's game to lose. They didn't. (M5K prediction was: OSU45, ISU 13)

Portland State 35, Sacramento State 24. Two touchdowns in the last 2:04 to squeak out a win. College football, baby!

Other Games of Interest
#3 Oklahoma 54, Utah State 3. Boomer! (M5K's prediction was: OU 59, USU 10)
Michigan 38, Notre Dame 0. Maybe -- just speaking theoretically here -- Michigan doesn't suck. Maybe App State and Oregon are just really, really good.
Utah 44, #11 UCLA 6. What the hell happened here?
#1 USC 49, #14 Nebraska 31. I'm not sure why it always makes me smile when Nebraska loses.
Willamette 14, California Lutheran 7. First victory is sweet for the intrepid Bearcats!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Revisions, Redactions, Recriminations

Regarding the Thursday Quiz

Rex Parker nailed the quiz with a perfect store, and has now completed the coveted Thursday Quiz trifecta, adding a gold star to his previous silver and blue.

Blythe, in addition to recently being nominated as Oklahoma's most amusing blogger, can now add a Thursday Quiz silver star to her trophy case. She's kind of a big deal.

Newcomer Heather swept down at the last hour to claim the blue star for South Korea, where she is newly in residence.

Regarding the Book List

After reading sweet eulogies to the late Madeline L'Engle by both the aforementioned Blythe and occasional L&TM5K commenter Boo, I've added A Wrinkle in Time to the reading list. To tell the truth, I had been very, very fuzzy on the distinction between Madeline L'Engle and Ursula LeGuin, probably because both of their names start with the letters "L" and "E". This might be a good time to sort that out.

Regarding How I'm Shameless

The Special L&TM5K award for Best Personal Blog I Never Looked at Until Today, But Then Was Totally Wowed By, as it is Quirky, Witty, and Thoughtful, and Really I Couldn't Get it on Google Reader Fast Enough goes to dmbmeg's I am Quietly Judging You.

Regarding How I'm a Big Jerk

Point #3: In consideration of MyDogisChelsea's point's in the comments, a long conversation with Mrs. 5000 regarding the ADA in architectural practice, and watching a member of the UC-Davis marching band take part in halftime formations, in his wheelchair, at last week's football game, I am formally dropping my opposition to legally-mandated access considerations for people with disabilities. Stop the presses.

Point #7: Anything I say about the relative importance of cultural diversity, comes from a guy who works in an office where more than 30 languages are spoken. In other words, I can be careless about the value of diversity the same way that Bill Gates can be careless with his spending money.

Regarding Positive Things About President George W. Bush

Occasional L&TM5K commentor Austin pointed out something to add to my list of things I like about the President: under his administration, Daylight Savings Time has been extended by three weeks. Now, I actually feel that as a concept, DST is pretty dumb. But in practice, I love it as much as you do. Thanks, Mr. Bush!

Regarding the Decemberists Tale

Having found that the Decemberists' concert video opened with footage of Mrs. 5000 and myself, I naturally bought us a copy. The concert -- one of the best we've ever been to, by the by -- ends with a rave-up reading of "I Was Meant for the Stage," after which the camera makes a long, slow pan left-to-right across the crowd. In the very last four or five frames of the video, with ghostly briefness, enters the screen from the right side none other than -- Mrs. 5000. We have been thinking a lot about why the filmmaker chose to frame the concert film with images of us. No firm conclusions yet. Really, generations of graduate students in Film Studies may be wrestling with this.

Regarding those Interesting Blogs I was Talking About

I should get them on the blogroll. I know. I've been busy.

Regarding that Job Interview

It went really well. She talked to me for two hours. And I loved the place. But they are interviewing twelve candidates, so I'm going to have to ask y'all for sustained good mojo here. And, again, discretion if you happen to know people in my workplace.

The Thursday Quiz III

Oh yeah. You're here for

The Thursday Quiz!

The Thursday Quiz is, as always, a "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T in the week's category.

Remember always The Prime Directive:

No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will be keelhauled.

This Week's Category:

The Plays of William Shakespeare

1. As You Like It
2. Caligula
3. Coriolanus
4. Two Gentlemen of Verona
5. The Jew of Malta
6. Marcus Aurelius
7. Measure for Measure
8. Richard II
9. Titus Andronicus
10. Tristan and Iseult
11. The Two Noble Kinsman
12. Wit Without Money

Submit your answers as a comment. Don't worry. It will be good.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Poetry Edition

Listen up, suckers -- it's poetry time. If you aren't happy about that, blame Karin. She got me in the mood by writing, and posting on her blog, what strikes me as quite an excellent little paradelle. (A paradelle is a eleventh century French poetic form. Or is it?) So, it's her fault.

Four Subjects

It has been said, accurately enough I think, that there are really only four subjects of poetry. The person who said this was the late William Matthews, and he said it in a poem very sensibly titled "Four Subjects of Poetry."

Four Subjects of Poetry
by William Matthews

1. I went out into the woods today, and it made me feel, you know, sort of

2. We're not getting any younger.

3. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey, or (b) with you,

4. Sadness seems but the other side of the coin of happiness, and vice
versa, and in any case the coin is too soon spent, and on what we know not

Autumn Poetry

What about seasonal poems? A minute ago, I planned on saying that they don't fit any of the above categories. But looking at the list again, it occurs to me that a seasonal poem, and in particular a good Autumn poem, is a kind of grand slam experience. It hits all four subjects at once. The wistfulness of Autumn, after all, is rooted in experience of nature, and it speaks to the passing of time as well as to loneliness, sadness, and regret. Capture all of that in a poem, and you've hit the poetic ball out of the park. If you will forgive me my metaphor.

This time of year, I often do a mass-mailing of Keats' "To Autumn." I will spare my email contacts the spam this year, and inflict it on you the L&TM5K reader instead. Honestly, I'm not especially what you would call a "poetry guy," but I think this one rewards either a casual or a careful read. It's good.

Two challenges for any the poetry-oriented:

1 - Do you have a favorite piece of Autumnal poetry? Stick that puppy in the comments!

2 - Do you have a fall poem that you yourself have composed? Are you brave enough to put it in the comments? Sure you are.

Keats, Baby!

To Autumn
John Keats (1795-1821)


SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

In Which michael5000 Avails Himself of Divers Publick Entertainments

Ah, it was a fine weekend to live in the City of Roses. For me, anyway.

Friday Evening: Mrs. 5000 and myself hie ourselves to the McMenamins Crystal Ballroom -- "the Crystal," as one says -- for a wee rock show. The opening act was one Grand Old Party, a San Diego act that I had never heard of before, but which by no means sucked. They were a trio with the female drummer/singer thing going on; I detected some Talking Heads influence, and Mrs. 5000 identified more than a little strain of Led Zeppelin. Cool.

Second opener was Scottish singer Johnathan Rice. I like him, and it was not a bad performance, but I feel that musicians run into trouble when they tour with a louder, harder sound than is on their record. An audience that likes a blazing studio recording will usually be receptive to a more nuanced performance, but an audience that has grooved on your accoustic 'n' strings arrangement might not dig the Great Wall of Guitar Roar. And thus it was with Johnathan Rice.

The headliners were L.A.'s Rilo Kiley, a very smart band that simply exuded talent in performance. Travelling with extra musicians to capture the big, horn-heavy sound of their new album, they made a lotta noise, and it was all good noise. Rilo Kiley tends to sing about the grim, seedy, and disturbing aspects of the human experience, but in a kind of stoically optimistic sort of way. We all may be portions for foxes in the long run, but we can have a good time at the show in the meantime.

Disturbing note: Although Mrs. 5000 and myself are very often among the elder statesmen of a given rock show, this is the first where neither of us saw a single person who was visibly older than us.

Saturday PM: I worked in the studio while listening to the Ducks' 39 - 7 dismantling of the allegedly mighty Michigan Wolverines. My expansive enjoyment of this was wholely untroubled by a certain negative vibe I was getting from the Sooner State. (I am afraid I must tell you that the word "Assfaces" was used at one point in reference to our fine young Oregon student-athletes.) But really, it was all in good fun, not so much abusive as whiny and increasingly desperate.

Saturday Evening: Went to Civic Stadium to watch PSU lay an egg in its home opener against UC-Davis. But oh well. There was some interesting football, a moderately engaged crowd of 10000 -- not bad for Division I-AA -- and fireworks at halftime. Gotta love fireworks. And did I mention that the Ducks humiliated Michigan? Walked home across bustling downtown, over the river, up Belmont on a superlative late summer night. Sweet. Literally sweet.

Sunday: A friend's barbeque went somewhat awry when the usually secluded riverside location turned out to be the venue for -- I am not making this up -- Hempstock 2007. People everywhere, a persistant thumping reggae bassline from the festival stage, and a singular tart woody smell hanging in the air throughout the afternoon. But that's cool. We enjoyed a great bike ride down the Willamette River trail to get there, along with a gazillion bikers young & old, serious athletes and young families, everybody out enjoying the tail end of summer. It's so thoroughly Portland, that it's a totally wholesome scene on the way to and from your accidental trip to Hempstock.

Have I mentioned recently that I am absolutely in love with this town?

Weekend College Football Round-Up:

Cincinnati 34, Oregon State 3. Yeah, this one was pretty painful.
UC-Davis 26, Portland State 17. The Aggies hiked a ball over their punter's head into the end zone for a safety. TWICE!! But PSU didn't really come back out after halftime. Also painful.
Oregon 39, Michigan 7. Two of my teams were embarassed. Why am I so HAPPY!!!!

Other games of interest:

Oklahoma 51, Miami of Florida 13. Even if I weren't an experimental Sooners fan this year, I'd be happy with this one. Stinkin' SEC. Stinkin' State of Florida.
Washington 24, Boise State 10. Divided loyalties here, but it's exciting to see Washington showing some fire this year. Also, I'm happy for my Huskyphile brother-in-law.
Kansas 62, SE Louisiana 0. OK, I don't love my alma mater, and it wasn't a real game. But it's cute. Rock chalk!
Gustavus Alolphus 34, Willamette 25. A tough loss for the Bearcats, after being ahead at the half.

Final Note:

I'm interviewing for a totally sweet job on Wednesday. Wish me luck. And if you are involved with the live-action life of michael5000, don't mention this to my boss. Cheers.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Why Are You Reading This Blog When You Could be Reading a Really Interesting Blog?

The topic of this here post is Blogs That I Think are Really Cool. More specifically, these are some of my favorite blogs that – unlike the L&TM5K – cleave consistantly to one specific topic, and can therefore be reliably interesting to their reading audience. Unlike the L&TM5K. Whatever.

But first, I would be remiss in not announcing:

The Thursday Quiz Winners

Newcomer Jessica nailed the quiz, earning a perfect score and a gold star, her first.
Rex Parker took the silver star, having placed now in both Thursday quizzes. Similarly, last week’s champion Rebel came right back to claim the blue star this week, but it will be cold comfort as apparently she is going to hell. She said it, not me.

Take this week's quiz yourself, here. Answers are in the comments section. Want to compete? Come back next Thursday for next week’s quiz. Bring your A-game.

OK, Where Were We?

Oh, right, topical blogs. I’ll start, like the self-indulgent jerk I am, by plugging my own two single-subject efforts. Michael Reads the Bible is the notes from my naïve but thorough reading of Christian scripture. I frankly think it’s a blast. After all, who wouldn’t want to know what a random untrained, uninformed, irreverent guy had to say about notoriously complex sacred texts? Oh, nobody would? Hmm, I guess that explains the lack of traffic.

There is also State of the Craft, in which I write about my quilts and my various adventures in the world of quilting. Even if you aren’t yourself interested in quilting, I can confidently say that you would find State of the Craft somewhat more interesting than many of the other quilting blogs out there. Plus, there are pretty pictures.

But let’s get serious, shall we?

  • You may have heard of “PostSecret.” It’s the blog that invites you to create a homemade postcard confessing your deepest, most carefully hidden secret, and send it to a guy who will post it on the internet for all the world to see. Anonymously, natch. The cards are by turns funny, tragic, touching, horrifying, beautiful, and ridiculous. It’s the internet at its best.

  • Indexed” is a brand new discovery for me. Venn diagrams, economic graphs, and the other visual tools of social science applied to real life for a change. It’s like cartoons for dorky smart people. Might that be you, gentle reader?

  • Along with charts and graphs, you’ve got to have maps. Doug Greenfield has been keeping a Map of the Week listserv for years, and is finally putting the collection into blog form for general consumption. He’s gone back to the beginning and is entering all of the alumni Maps of the Week, so there’s already plenty there to browse through. From crude found sketch maps to elaborate online interactive extravaganzas, it’s a playground for your inner cartography geek. You know you have one.

  • The Rag and Bone Blog is a neverending parade of really cool stuff from and related to book arts. In fact, if you never know what I mean by “book arts,” browsing this blog would give you a pretty good idea. It has had the good taste to feature the work of Mrs. 5000, so you know it must be pretty excellent.

  • When he’s not rocking the Thursday Quiz, Rex Parker Does the NYT Crossword Puzzle. You really, really ought to look at this if you have any interest in crossword puzzles whatsoever. In fact, check it out even if you don’t. Dude does for crossword puzzles what Pauline Kael did for movies. It’s a thing of beauty. His collection of campy paperback novels is pretty boss, too.

  • If you live in Portland, you ought to bookmark Amanda Fritz’s blog. Whether or not you agree with Amanda’s progressive populism (although I usually do, myself), you should appreciate the sheer volume of footwork and number-crunching she does on your behalf. She’ll tell you much more about the Rose City than the ‘gonian and the Tribune put together, although she’ll flag articles for you when one of them accidentally print something important. (Kidding. I actually like the Trib.) The world is her gonzo civics project.

  • Also for you Rose Citizens: Willamette Week’s “local cut” covers our local indie music scene in great detail. Often excruciating detail. But even if you just skim it, you can walk around feeling all in-the-know.

So many blogs, so little time. But I’m getting tired, and you’re getting bored. So I’ll catch you later.

The Thursday Quiz II

Time once again for

The Thursday Quiz!

Oh yeah. Remember, the Thursday Quiz is a "Is It or Isn't It" game. From the list of twelve items, your job is to determine whether each IS or ISN'T in the week's category. Remember also

The Main Rule:
1. No research, Googling, Wikiing, or use of reference books. The Thursday Quiz is a POP quiz. Violators will be prosecuted.

This Week's Category:

Books of the Christian Bible

1. Abraham
2. Baal
3. Ephesians
4. Etruscans
5. Galatians
6. Habakkuk
7. Haggai
8. Jehoshaphat
9. Lamentations
10. Methuselah
11. Micah
12. Titus
Submit your answers as a comment. Go get 'em, Tiger.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Back to School With Michael5000

Well, I'm not going back to school. No way. But I wanted to start out this Labor Day by thanking the teachers who are going back into the proverbial trenches right about now. You guys get worked like mules and get way too little credit for what you do, and oh yeah, the future of the civilization is pretty much in your hands. So whip those little punks into shape for the rest of us, yeah? You guys are awesome.

I found this back-to-school write-up by occasional L&TM5K commenter Boo both harrowing and inspiring, and a good reminder of why I'm no longer in the classroom (i.e., I'm a big wuss).

The Reading List

Meanwhile, the votes have been tallied, the chads have all been swept into the dustbin, and the dust settles on Michael5000's official reading list for the next few years. And here it is, in all of its strictly alphabetized glory:

  • Andric, Bridge on the Drina
  • Ball, Bright Earth
  • Blume, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
  • Brown, Louis Riel
  • Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita
  • Byatt, Possession
  • Campbell & Campbell, The China Study
  • Camus, The Stranger
  • Cervantes, Don Quixote
  • Chandler, The Big Sleep
  • Chaucer, Cantebury Tales
  • Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent
  • Davis, One River
  • DeWitt, The Last Samurai
  • Diamond, Guns Germs and Steel
  • Donaldson, the first Thomas Covenant trilogy
  • Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.
  • Fforde, The Eyre Affair
  • Greene, The End of the Affair
  • Greene, The Quiet American
  • Hansen, Motoring With Mohammed
  • Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
  • Homer, The Iliad
  • Homer, The Odyssey
  • Ishiguro, The Unconsoled
  • Joyce, Ulysses
  • Kafka, The Process
  • Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies
  • LeGuin, Earthsea trilogy
  • Levin, How the Universe Got its Spots
  • Lucius Apuleius, The Golden Ass
  • McCall, Makes Me Want To Holler
  • Mieville, Perdido Street Station trilogy
  • Moore/Gibbons, Watchmen
  • Nabakov, Lolita
  • Nabakov, Pnin
  • Naipaul, A House for Mr. Biswas
  • Pamuk, My Name is Red
  • Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country
  • Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death
  • Pullman, His Dark Materials
  • Ramachandran, Phantoms in the Brain
  • Rawicz, The Long Walk
  • Rivoli, The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
  • Robinson, Housekeeping
  • Rossi, What Every American Should Know About the Rest of the World
  • Rowling, Harry Potter books
  • Sapolsky, A Primate's Memoir
  • Schlosser, Fast Food Nation
  • Scully, Dominion
  • Singer and Mason, The Way We Eat and Why Our Food Choices Matter
  • Smiley, A Thousand Acres
  • Some Old English Dude, Beowulf
  • Stegner, Angle of Repose
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Twain, Huckleberry Finn
  • Updike, the other Rabbit books after Rabbit, Run
  • Voltaire, Candide
  • Woolf, To the Lighthouse
  • Wright, The Moral Animal
Oh my God. What have I done? he asked, a quiver of panic catching in his throat....

Ahem. Yes, well, anyway, one or two of you may be wondering why I haven't come up with a dashing little synopsis and review of the Brothers Karamazov yet, and the answer to that is that a) it proved to be a tough book to read at a high intensity family reunion, and b) it's been hard to get back into since what with the beginning of quilt season and all. Which wimpy excuses do not necessarily augur well for the reading list project. BUT! I'm happy to say that I dove back into the book this weekend, and am making forward progress again. So.

College Football Weekend RoundUp
  • Oregon 48, Houston 27. (The Ducks looked real good. And, at times, real bad. We'll see!)
  • OSU 24, Utah 7. (A nice win for the Beavs; an awful night for Utah as they lost several players to injuries.)
  • McNeese State 35, Portland State 12. (...but I'd still rather live here than in McNeese.)

...and in other games of interest:

  • Washington 42, Syracuse 12. (A nice surprise! Maybe the Huskies are better off than everyone thinks this year.)
  • #8 Oklahoma 79, North Texas 10. (Apparently the Sooner defense got sloppy a few times.)
  • Appalachian State 34, #5 Michigan 32. (Awesome upset. Just awesome. It is for games like this that you have to love college football. Or you ought to, anyway.)
  • Western Oregon 23, Willamette 9. (Michael5000 takes care of his readership.)
Song of the Day

I'm really not going to get all retro on you too often, but Supertramp's "Logical Song" has been going through my head all day, so now it can go through your head too. Interesting song, actually. I think its familiarity obscures what a quirky little piece of music it really is. A smart little gem from the days of big man hair and high man voices.