Letters to Holly

Monday, February 20

Three-Day Weekend

Saturday, Your Sister and I had lunch at the local Irish pub with our pals, Travis and Kathy and their German exchange student, Tonia. They’re expecting and have sonograms to display their little smudge of joy. Kathy’s convinced it’s a girl; Travis is convinced it’s a tadpole. We like to meet up on the weekend at this pub, and the joint doesn’t give us much choice: They close the kitchen at 8 p.m. on weekdays. Even here in Mayberry, that’s pathetic. And a bit stupid. They might as well post a sign reading “Please eat at the Mexican restaurant a hundred yards away.” But the burgers are good and huge, and we can sit for a while and rant against the world.

I should also note that my high-school buddy Esther is expecting; she emailed her sonogram to me last week The couple we saw Hamlet with on Friday are also with child, and all this fertility discourages us from sleeping in the same room.

That night we watched the Olympics. Shani Davis won gold in speed skating and caught hell for not helping Chad Hedrick win five gold medals by competing in a team skate. I don’t get it. He’s there to win his event. He’s trained to win his event. Why should he risk that to help Chad pile up his medals?

During all this to-do, we took an Olympic break and popped in our dusty, unopened Elektra DVD. This was a spin-off of the better-than-expected Daredevil film, and it let Marvel Comics see if a solo heroine film could work. While I think one can, this film isn’t proof. It’s ninety minutes of ho-hum action, sparse SFX, and weak character development. For a comic geek like myself, the worst offense is that this is in no way the Elektra that would draw people to the theatres. The comic Elektra doesn’t need sleeping pills, doesn’t fall for frumpy dads on the run from super-ninjas, and doesn’t get sappy over super-powered teenage girls. This reminded me quite a bit of King Arthur, the Clive Owen film that shoehorned in Camelot names to characters who neither behaved like the Arthur crew or undertook any Camelot-like deeds. Elektra is just like that. Save for the names of characters, this has nothing to do with the characters' source stories. I had heard nothing but bad things about the film, but Your Sister was curious enough for us to buy the DVD unseen. She likes Jennifer Garner. To be more precise, she likes confident action heroines. Garner does a fine job with what was given her, but it’s in no way a good product. We wondered if a longer edit might make a better film, and, when we were in Best Buy the next day, I noticed the director’s cut Elektra DVD. It’s only three minutes longer and includes “a new sound remix.” This is not enough to get through our door. When we saw Kingdom of Heaven on DVD a few weeks back (this is the “Orlando Bloom in the Crusades” film), we both could tell this was a good movie hacked to a shorter length, and what we’re left with is a hunk vehicle with no substance. When the director’s cut of Kingdom comes out, we’ll definitely get it.

On Sunday, we went to H&R Block and got our taxes done, our first as Man and Hot Wife. I managed to have two Caramel Crackaccinos this day, and I still have yet to blink.

We caught more Olympics, including the controversial ice dancing. By controversial, I of course mean “inappropriately dressed for that kind of activity.” This year’s event saw a lot of crashes as the couples tried dangerous tricks to score more points. One Canadian gal was literally hip-tossed flat on the ice. While the sport markets itself to the more feminine audiences, it stands a better chance of respectability by courting the Winter X Games crowd. Since these couples are daring to bend backward and grab their skates and twirl around the rink, why not encourage them to backflip (France’s Surya Bonaly has done it for close to a decade now) and have them dress for body protection? Move away from the bangles and glitter and let these athletes display themselves as such, not as full-size girl dolls. And ditch all that eye shadow. It’s hideous. You might lose the little pre-teens, but you’d gain a larger teen male audience, the key demographic for sponsors.

On Monday, with the day off, I hit the doctor’s office to get my glasses adjusted. They’re a bit better, but there’s still a transition of focus within the left lens. It’s as if I have bifocals. They assured me I don’t, and now I wonder if I need to tell the doctor to strengthen my prescription. I stare at a computer screen all day at work, and the new glasses have given me the bad headaches and squint lines. When the glasses were fixed yesterday, I thought the best way to try them out would be to, of course, stare at a computer screen for a few hours, and that’s where my glorious videogames paid for themselves. Mondays, as always, mean Wings and Wrestling, but before we saw the night’s WWE show, we watched “Mad About You” (your sister’s favorite sitcom), and I spotted one of the actors’ from my favorite all-time film, From Beyond, the 1980s b-movie. We also caught a "Star Trek: Next Generation" episode where Troi's mom argues against a planet's custom of killing anyone who reaches the age of 60. Some of those episodes can get heavy-handed and dull, but good acting by David Ogden Stiers (you know, Winchester from "MASH") and Mrs. Roddenberry elevate it. Watching this was my wife's idea by the way; turns out she's just as much a geek as I am.

The Monday WWE show, “Raw,” featured the in-ring debut of the Spirit Squad, a five-man cheerleading team decked in green and white. Before last night, all they had done was pop into the ring and perform a lame cheer and annoy those of us who hate dumb gimmicks (yes, some wrestling gimmicks aren’t dumb). Last night, however, they worked a match and put on a high-flying clinic, including the use of a mini trampoline. These guys can work. I now think this may be the greatest gimmick in all of pro wrestling. I am officially a fan.

We also watched some more Olympics last night, the highlight of which was the men's aerial jumps. This combines the ski jump with flips, twists, and turns done at slightly less than the speed of sound. It can only be deemed the Downhill Flail. Everyone lands on a steep hill and have no choice but to bounce on their tushies lest the landing crush their ankles. I can't tell how the judges determine the winner because all the jumps appear to be the same thing: a flurry of limbs. Tonight, Shani and Chad go head-to-head for a medal, and Shani has the full support of the household.

The debate rages over the proposed sale of domestic port operations to a company from the United Arab Emirates. The Senate majority leader has called to cancel the deal. Some consider the sale to a foreign company a national security issue, and some, I suspect, don’t like the word “Arab” in the name of any country. There are references to the UAE as the native country of two of the 9/11 hijackers and to the country supporting terrorist organizations in the past. It’s a dumb move to outsource this to anyone, period, and I don’t understand why a domestic company isn’t given more consideration for the deal. I don’t think it should be a government agency though; there’s too much potential for operational changeover between administrations. … The Supreme Court will hear a case concerning the constitutionality of banning late-term abortions. … David Edmondson, the CEO of Radio Shack, has resigned after it was discovered he lied on his resume about graduating with two degrees. He only completed two semesters. Speaking of disbelief, how is Radio Shack still in business? I’ve been in two stores in as many states in the past 10 years, and both were small and depressing. The one closest to our house has items for sale in packages from the 1980s. …

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