Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost: Season 3

I’ve been thinking about writing more substantial (translation: longer) entries on this blog, not because I am convinced there are scores of people out there dying to read my words, but because, as I’ve said from the beginning, I think blogging is a good way for me to work on my writing. For me, blogging is so interesting because it’s somewhere between private writing (journaling, etc.), letter writing, and academic writing (scholarly articles and books). This liminality (not quite the right word?) invites me, as a writer, to make important decisions about audience, topic, and even self-presentation. At the same time, I want to write about things that I enjoy—that are fun for me to think and write about and that I might not write about in more conventional genres.

So I thought I’d write just a few posts that are reviews/commentaries on some of my interests outside of work/school and family, beginning with TV, particularly the rewards of watching an exceptional show again on DVD. Specifically, I want to consider Season 3 of Lost, which I just finished re-watching over the weekend in anticipation of tomorrow’s Season 4 premiere.

There isn’t much I can say about Lost that hasn’t been said by other people before—and better than I could have said it myself. But I will say what a genuine pleasure it was to re-watch these episodes. Some shows that have complicated mythologies are a thrill to watch during their first runs, as we are on the edges of our seats waiting to see what happens next. Once you are done with them, though, you feel no compelling reason to re-watch particular episodes. I am reminded here of The X-Files, which I really did love, but whose mythology became just too complicated for me to keep up with over the years. Now when I watch re-runs of the show, I am drawn to the stand-alone episodes, as opposed to the mythology episodes.

With Lost, (like with my Buffy, Angel, or Veronica Mars DVDs), though, it was such a pleasure to re-visit each episode. Why? Well, for multiple reasons—the rewards of making connections between characters and storylines, an even deeper appreciation for how amazingly the characters’ plots interconnect, the same great feeling we get when we re-read a beloved book even when we know what’s going to happen.

In the end, for me, it’s about character, a point I’ve been trying to make in my ENG 102 classes. Character, in most cases, is what takes a work with a great plot and lifts it to another level. This isn’t any great revelation, of course, but it is such a treat to see it so well-executed on television. That’s what you get with the amazing writing and acting on Lost. For instance, re-watching Charlie’s arc in Season 3--knowing all along that he would end up sacrificing his life to get the others off the island--broke my heart all over again. No lie: I re-watched “Greatest Hits” and found myself tearing up in a way that I hadn’t the first time through.

Other episodes of note:

“Not in Portland: The episode that gave us the back-story on Juliet, perhaps my favorite character on the show, if only because of Elizabeth Mitchell’s fantastic portrayal. Seriously, think back to last season and how she so perfectly she played the part—how her face could express so much but still leave us wondering if she really was one of the good guys. Plus, you gotta love when her ex gets hit by the bus!

“Flashes Before Your Eyes”: An episode that confused the heck out of me the first time around and only makes just a bit more sense now. As I went back through Season 3, I grew more interested in Desmond, whose love for Penny is so moving, and whose ultimate inability to save Charlie is so heartbreaking.

“Tricia Tanaka is Dead”: Just when we think Lost is nothing but serious and depressing, they give us this episode. When Hurley got that van running and he, Charlie, Jin, and Sawyer went joy-riding (complete with Dharma beer!), I couldn’t stop smiling. Plus, we meet “Roger Workman,” although we don’t find out who he is until much later.

“The Man From Tallahassee”: Holy crap! That’s how Locke got paralyzed? And his father’s on the island? Even on re-watching, it’s still very powerful.

“Expose”: I didn’t hate Nikki and Paulo the way lots of other folks did, but man was this an awesome way to get rid of them.

“The Man Behind the Curtain”: I mentioned that Juliet is one of my favorites, but I would be remiss not to mention Ben and the fabulous work Michael Emerson does in this role. From his first appearance in Season 2, you knew this guy was trouble. I am reminded of that scene in the end of “One of Them” (I think that’s the episode) where he can hear Jack, Locke and Sayid arguing over how to treat him and he gets this tiny grin on his face knowing that he’s breeding dissension among them—and letting us know that he was, in fact, a “bad” guy. Gave me chills!

“Through the Looking Glass”: What can I say about this one that hasn’t been said? I would like to state, though, that (like other viewers, I know) I saw Jack’s phone in those “flash-back” scenes and thought, “Hmmm...that looks like a pretty new phone. How could he have had that in 2004 (or earlier)?” No, I didn’t realize that they were, in fact, flash-forwards, but at least I was on my way, right? By the way, of all the episodes, this one took on the most poignancy when I re-watched it, knowing all along that you were seeing how miserable post-island Jack was, especially given how desperately he’s trying to get off the island.

I'll end by saying that I'm not the kind of fan who spends hours exploring all the Lost websites out there or reading every book that pops up in an episode. I don't pour over message boards discussing every hint or clue. I only say this because you don't need to do that to love the show, another testament to the quality of the writing. (But I did watch all twelve of the "Missing Pieces" segments on, and thought they were great.)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Monday morning milestone...

My old car reached a pretty impressive number this morning on the way to work.

I've only had three cars that I called my own: a 1999 Chevy Prism, a 2002 Saturn SL1, and this car, a 1996 Nissan Maxima. I had a sentimental attachment to the Chevy for all the obvious reasons--it was the first car that was mine and I got it right after college when I moved to Greensboro and set out on my own (cue "Wide Open Spaces" by the Dixie Chicks). The Saturn was a fine car, although I can't say I missed it too much when I turned it back in (it was a lease). This Maxima is a hand-me-down car. First, it was my brother-in-law's. It was the first brand-new car he ever owned and he took great care of it. Then it was my dad's for a year or two, and now it's mine.

For the record, I love this car. I've had to put a fair amount of money into it, but what can you expect at this point? Otherwise, it's comfortable, it drives really well, and still looks great. Plus, it has some cool features none of my other cars had, like a sun-roof and seat warmers. (Admittedly, I don't get that excited about seat warmers, but I know lots of people--like Shannon--do).

Anyway, happy 180,000 miles to my car! To celebrate, this afternoon, we're getting an oil change.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Academic Olympics

I stumbled across a pretty funny and interesting blog a couple of weeks ago and since then, I've been meaning to link to it, especially to this very funny post about the Academic Olympics. Some of my favorites:

"GRADING MARATHON. The competitors run along a twenty-six mile route that passes through every office building on campus. At designated stops, they pause to grade a full stack of final examinations in their field. Competitors are penalized for illegible handwriting."

"JOB INTERVIEW SPRINT. Open to non-tenured faculty only. Competitors race between job interviews in different conference hotels; some of the interviews are spaced as few as five minutes apart. There are penalties for excessive sweating and broken high heels."

"THEORETICAL HOOPS. Using the hoop apparatus, competitors perform a rhizomatic routine that will be kept under Foucauldian surveillance by a scopophilic audience."

"DOUBLE-BLIND ICE HOCKEY. Teams try to maneuver a stack of frozen article manuscripts into their opponents' nets. Games are supervised by blindfolded referees. The winners will have their articles published in the journal of their dreams; the losers teams will be sent xeroxed rejection letters."

Enjoy the rest of the list!

53,463 nouns...

Check out this really interesting visual dictionary. I should find a way to use this in my can see lots of connections to visual literacy, exactness, definition, etc.


LL Bing Bag.

"Dude--I totally see you in there."

"Can I help you?"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The view from my office...

They're calling for 4-6 inches, with up to a quarter-inch of ice on top. Fun stuff.

I wonder how many students I'll have in my 12:25 class...

Christmas Catch-Up Part V: A new amateur photographer steps up...

It was inevitable, I suppose. Olivia, who wants to be like her cousin Kelsie in everyway (she's even adopted Kelsie's habit of starting most sentences with "Actually..."), also decided she wanted to play photographer with Tante Heidi's camera. And you know what? For a very energetic four-year old, she's not that bad.

Tante Guy, smiling for the camera.

"Say cheese, Oma and Opa!"

A shot of Tante Heidi, with a thumb in the way. It happens to the best of us.

A really cute picture of Colin, complete with a cookie stain on the corner of his mouth.

What do you think? Does this kid have a future in photography?

Okay--that wraps it up for Christmas 2007. Now back to the present...

Christmas Catch-Up Part IV: Fun with Olivia and Colin

A couple of days after Christmas, my parents, Erin, and I drove over to Tara's house so that Erin and I could see her and the kids one more time before we left. The kids are always a blast, and were especially fun while they were still basking in the post-Christmas glow.

A couple of representative shots...

Olivia, in her dress-up clothes, posed for the camera. Lately she does this funny pseudo-vogue thing with her hands when you take her picture. She's very dramatic.

Colin with my parents. I include this one because he looks cute, my dad has a half-way decent smile on (a rare thing for him--he's got the Chandler Bing smile thing when it comes to pictures, for your Friends fans out there), and my mom appears in it. I think this is her first Christmas blog appearance, so there you go.

The kids climbing on Opa's lap to hear his phone make this weird noise that they love--it's like a jet plane taking off or something. Don't ask me to explain it. They just go wild for it.

"Again! Again!"

Olivia isn't the only one to play Disney princess dress-up. Colin really likes the Cinderella heels. Don't you love this picture? The jean. The red socks. The plastic heels. The tractor to the left. Awesome. Now my brother-in-law freaks out when Colin does this kind of stuff, but he's crazy. This boy is a little boy through and through. He just has a sensitive side and likes pretty things.

Some photographic evidence of Colin's y-chromosome in action. He's even got a bit of a plumber's smile going on as he plays with his trucks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I knew it!

Finally, some scientific validation that my fear of clowns isn't that strange. Check out this article from Reuters, although I warn you that the picture at the top made my heart freeze in fear. Seriously, for a good five minutes afterwards, I could still see it when I closed my eyes.

Only in West Virginia?

So I just helped a grown man--a man I've never met before--fix the strap on his overalls. (He didn't know how to make the strap shorter).

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Introduction to literature and Jhumpa Lahiri

Although my PhD. is in American literature before 1900 and I should, therefore, really love teaching courses in that area more than anything else (especially to English majors), I’ve got to say that there’s a certain joy in teaching an introduction to literature class to non-majors. When I teach these kinds of classes, my main goals are simply to get the students to realize that studying literature can be fun, that it does have some connection to their everyday lives, and that they can say smart things about it. Those aren’t particularly lofty goals, but they are awfully fun to guide students towards. To help along the way, I pick texts that are fun—surefire crowd pleasers.

This semester at Shepherd, I am teaching English 102, Writing for the Humanities, for the first time, a course that asks instructors to do a lot—it serves as the second half the of the freshman composition sequence and thus stresses research-based writing. Right now the department has it structured as an introduction to literary analysis, too, and the textbook we use is Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, one of these mammoth hard-cover books that contains a lot of the “greatest hits” of literature. You can take a look at my syllabus here. Most of the works I’ve chosen are works I’ve taught before or that I simply love.

And here’s why a course like this is such a blast for me to teach: as a nineteenth-century Americanist, how else am I going to have the opportunity to teach John Donne or Shakespeare or Robert Browning?

Now, though, I am also wondering if I shouldn’t have pushed myself towards teaching a few more works that I haven’t taught before, mostly because of the lovely hour or so I spent with a brand new story (brand new to me) yesterday afternoon. One of the few works I put on the syllabus without reading it beforehand is Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies.” I haven’t read all that much by Lahiri, but everything I read just knocks my socks off. This story was no exception. For those who don’t know much about her, you can read more here and here.

My first encounter with a work by Lahiri was several years ago, when I read a short story called “This Blessed House,” which was included in Convergences, a reader I was using in an English 101 class at UNCG. (The story was originally in Interpreter of Maladies, Lahiri's 1999 short story collection.) “This Blessed House” is a great little story about an Indian-American couple who keep finding Christian-themed kitsch all over the house they just bought. The wife is delighted by the finds, the husband is annoyed—and the whole thing is just a great read. I remember being particularly struck by this passage:

“Though she did not say it herself, he assumed then that she loved him, too, but now he was no longer sure. In truth, Sanjeev did not know what love was, only what he thought it was not. It was not, he had decided, returning to an empty carpeted condominium each night, and using only the top fork in his cutlery drawer, and turning politely away at those weekend dinner parties when the other men eventually put their arms around the waists of their wives and girlfriends, leaning over every now and again to kiss their shoulders or necks. It was not sending away for classical music CDs by mail, working his way methodically through the major composers that the catalogue recommended, and always sending his payments on time. In the months before meeting Twinkle, Sanjeev had begun to realize this.”

This passage sums up what I think Lahiri does so well—captures the image, the gesture, the simple thoughts that make us human--and that in some way translate across lines of race and class.

My next encounter with Lahiri came through The Namesake, her first novel, published in 2003 and made into a pretty great movie in 2007. I won’t say too much about it, other than that you should read it (or at least see the film).

Anyway, as I mentioned, for my class on Wednesday, we are reading “Interpreter of Maladies,” the title story from Lahiri’s 1999 Pulitzer-prize-winning collection. This story, about an Indian tour guide who takes a young Indian-American family to the Sun Temple at Konorak, once again shows us everyday people who seem to be living happily enough on the surface, but dream of better things and harbor secrets and regrets. And that’s a clich├ęd and oversimplified way to talk about the story, I know.

Particularly moving are the passages where the tour guide, Mr. Kapasi, imagines that he and the young wife, Mrs. Das, will begin an important correspondence with each other and that he has found someone who will appreciate and value him:

“The paper curled as Mr. Kapasi wrote his address in clear, careful letters. She would write to him, asking about his days interpreting at the doctor’s office, and he would respond eloquently, choosing only the most entertaining anecdotes, ones that would make her laugh out loud as she read them in her house in New Jersey. In time she would reveal the disappointment of her marriage, and he his. In this way their friendship would grow and flourish….As his mind raced, Mr. Kapasi experienced a mild and pleasant shock. It was similar to a feeling he used to experience long ago when after months of translating with the aid of a dictionary, he would finally read a passage from a French novel, or an Italian sonnet, and understand the words, one after another, unencumbered by his own efforts. In those moments Mr. Kapasi used to believe that all was right with the world, that all struggles were rewarded, that all of life’s mistakes made sense in the end. The promise that he would hear from Mrs. Das now filled him with the same belief.”

Of course, the story doesn’t end in this happy fantasy—not by any means, but that’s part of what makes it worth reading. The state of mind this put me in—that wonderful time after you’ve read a great story for the first time and you are still running through it in your head—left me in a great mood for the rest of the day. I only hope I can get my students to hold onto a fraction of that feeling when they read it.

The point of all this? Well, I guess there are three: 1) I am happy to be teaching introduction to literature, 2) it is great to know that I can still get that excited over a new story and 3) I wish I had time to read more Lahiri.

Christmas Catch-Up Part III: Christmas Eve

These days, Christmas Eve is actually the big holiday in my life. That's the day that everyone comes over my parents' house, we have a big dinner, open boatloads of presents (well, most of those are for the kids), and do the candlelight church service. Christmas Day is actually pretty mellow--usually my mom has to work, and the three unmarried kids (Ryan, Erin, and myself) hang out with my dad until my mom gets home. Then we have a nice dinner and open the presents from each other. It's actually a very pleasant way to spend the day--and worlds away from the craziness that is Christmas Eve.

Some pictures from early in the day:

Christian and my dad.

My dad and Ryan.

Tara and Erin.

Wesley chilling out in my room, where he and Bing spent most of their Christmas vacation.

A cute shot of folks saying grace at the kids' table.

After dinner, the real madness got going, as the gift-giving got started. I include this picture to show that there was literally no room to move in our living room (unless you were a determined kid, looking for your next package).

There were some real gems under the tree--a little Mexican dude named Diego made many appearances, as did various cars and trucks, all sorts of little dollies, and some gifts for the grown-ups, too.

Not to pat myself on the back too much, but I really did well with my gifts for Colin, who loves all things cars and trucks. Here is he asking his dad to open the tow truck I got him. The other part of his present, a Tonka Lights and Sounds Ambulance, was his clear favorite. He even asked Tara if he could sleep with it that night. That reminded me of that image from the end of A Christmas Story when Ralphie is sleeping with his bb gun and his brother is holding the zeppelin.

Look at Christian's delight at opening this gift! A cheesy horror flick called Mr. Jingles, featuring a killer clown. If you anything about the five Hanrahan children, you know that's right up our alley: we love B horror movies and at least three of us are pretty darn terrified of clowns. What would Christmas be without horror movies? (This is actually true for us--when we were younger and we would have to wait for my mom to get home from work to open our presents, we would pass the day by watching horror movies.)

Tara and Jeff gave Chris Mr. Jingles, which goes pretty well with my gift for him: glow-in-the-dark zombie figures! BRAINS!!!

Kelsie and Heidi.

Erin and Aidan.

Ryan and Colin (with the ambulance). Notice that Colin is in his undershirt. In an earlier shot, Olivia has stripped down to her tights and undershirt. By the end of the night, all the kids were in jammies. When you are surrounded by toys, it's all about comfort, people.

After the gift-giving was over, the adults crashed for a bit while the kids, on combination toy and sugar highs, got a little crazy. Actually, Erin helped them out a bit...

Erin making her classic "stupid face" for the kids. I challenge anyone not to laugh when she makes this face. It's even funnier in person. Needless to say, this led to a chain reaction of more craziness and silly faces...

Kelsie hamming it up.

Olivia doing her part for the crazy face contest.

Okay--that's all for Christmas Eve. Looks like a fun day, right?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Christmas Catch-Up Part II: Return of our junior photographer...

Remember this post from back in August? Well, on the same day that we bought the tree, Kelsie once again became junior photographer with my camera.

First, though, here's a cute shot of her as we were decorating the tree.

Sweet, right?

Anyway, as my dad and I were moving furniture around to make room for the tree in the already-cramped living room, and as we were all waiting for my sister Erin to arrive home for the holidays, Kelsie wandered the room, taking what she called "artistic" shots.

Bailey, at age 13, more kitten-like than he's been in years, looking out the front door, "waiting for Tante Guy," as Kelsie explained. (For those who don't know, the kids call Erin "Tante Guy"--and there's a long story there...)

Lorelei, or as I call her, "my mom's evil Siamese cat," peering out from under the ornament box lid. No, I don't think that all Siamese cats are evil--I grew up with Siamese, in fact. This one, though, fits the stereotypical "evil Siamese" role to the letter. She'd give those Lady and the Tramp cats a run for their money.

After she got bored with the cats, she moved onto inanimate objects, most notably "Oma's birds." My mom has gotten into collecting all things cardinal-related. Believe me when I tell you that this one shot represents a fraction of the pictures Kelsie took of the bird menagerie. (Forgive me for exercising considerable editorial discretion.)

Next it was onto "Oma's cat statues." Again, you are seeing just one of at least ten shots. To say my mom likes knick-knacks would be quite an understatement.

Finally, Kelsie thought it would be "really cool" and "kind of funny" to take pictures of pictures in frames. Kind of post-modern, right? Since my parents' living room also has enough picture frames to fill a museum gallery (mostly of the grandkids), I've been selective of Kelsie's shots again. And, because so many of these pictures are, as I mentioned, of the grandkids, I decided to use one of Erin. Vive la R├ęsistance! (Stand up for the rights of the kids without kids! We matter, too, or at least that's what we keep trying to tell my parents.)

Kelsie's last shot was this one of Erin as she came in the door. Technically, this is a re-created moment, as she missed the shot initially and asked Tante Guy if she would pretend she had just come in. Erin was happy to comply, not bad for someone who had just completed a seven hour drive.

Anyway, once Tante Guy was home, Kelsie was done with the camera. Can't say I blamed her!

Friday, January 11, 2008

So sweet (and yes, a bit morbid!)

This story broke my heart, but reminds me once again how lucky we are to have animals in our lives.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919-2008

One of the last great adventurers has died.

Some excellent Edmund Hillary quotations:

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things -- to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals."

Why do people listen to him?

Not sure how many of you have read this story or heard about this issue, but I've only got one thing to say: If Tiger Woods, the person to whom the comment was directed, can say it was "no big deal," then why in the world is Sharpton trying to get this woman fired? And why do people keep listening to him? Again, to return to a point I made in this post, it seems like a majority of people in this country want to bring us all together. Sharpton's tactics here seem to accomplish just the opposite.

Christmas Catch-Up Part I: The Tree

Sorry it's taken me so long to do some updates from the holidays. Better late than never, right?

Anyway, I arrived in NY for Christmas on Friday, December 21. At this point, my parents still had not gotten a Christmas tree, and my father told me that getting said tree was one of our missions for the next day, the 22nd. Now we've gotten trees pretty late before, but I was just a bit worried that this was the latest we'd ever tried and that pickings might be pretty slim.

Nevertheless, we set out on our mission. Kelsie came along, riding in the car with my dad and I, as we followed Ryan in his truck (the easiest way of getting the tree home). My dad started to get very agitated when the first two lots we went to were already closed and completely out of trees. We tried yet another place that was closed, and Ryan oh-so-helpfully said to my dad, "Why did you wait so long?" My dad started to wonder out loud if (horror-of-horrors!) we'd have to get an artificial tree. "Do you think your mom would notice?" he asked, only half-jokingly.

Then, in an instant, my brother changed from asker-of-agita-inducing-questions to hero-of-the-day. He remembered this lot in Setauket (about 15-20 minutes from our house in Rocky Point) that he thought still had lots of trees. So we headed off to Setauket. Sure enough, they had trees left. Yay!

The place was kind of depressing, though, only because you could imagine what it was like earlier in the tree-buying season. I imagine that the owners pitched it like this: "Come on down for a fun holiday experience for the whole family. Come and get your tree and let the kids have a blast! We've got rides and animals!" Now, though, it was the skeleton of a once-quite festive site. There was no one else there except for the workers. It was also a cold and gray day, which made the place seem even more desolate. Still, though, they had trees and that's all that really mattered.

I snapped some pictures of the animals that were animals on display who must have been part of some kind of petting zoo.

I got a kick out of these goats, although Kelsie wasn't too crazy about them. By the way, I left this picture more-or-less uncropped so you can see the bounce-house in the background. My friends, no one was bouncing in the house on this day.

Honestly, even the goats seemed kind of mellow, at least more mellow than I've ever seen any petting-zoo goats act. This guy was pretty cute, though.

Kelsie really liked the bunnies and asked if she could take pictures of them. So yes, the picture above (and the one below) were taken by her.

Kelsie: "Awww! He's so cute! I asked Santa for a bunny. I wonder if I'll get one." [Santa's answer: "No."]

But wait...why were we there to begin with? Oh yeah--to find a tree!

My dad and Ryan "talking trees." long last, we found one!

The perfect tree! (Or more accurately, possibly the last acceptable tree on Long Island).

Kelsie took this picture of my dad going inside to pay. I include because the place looks so desolate. Also, Kelsie laughed and said, "I took a picture of Opa's butt!"

The guy putting the tree through the machine that shakes off all the dead stuff.

The tree coming out of the shaker. Check out that vehicle on the left. You know I wanted to take a ride in that thing!

For some reason, I didn't take a good picture of the finished product (fully decorated tree) this year. This is the best I've got. I don't even think I took this--I think one of the kids did. You can see my brother Christian on the left. Anyway, it does give you some idea of what it looked like when all was said and done.

Now the real question is this: has my dad learned his lesson about putting off getting the tree or will he risk it all again next year?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Watch out! It's a political post!

Actually, the subject heading is kind of misleading, as I am trying very hard to stay politically neutral in this blog. (Academics, after all, sometimes get into trouble for expressing their political beliefs too explicitly, especially if people disagree with them.) But I do want to write just a bit about a possibly refreshing change in American politics.

Say what you want about Mike Huckabee or Barack Obama, but they (along with a few other candidates from both parties) are certainly coming off as less divisive than previous candidates. I am not talking about specific stances on issues here--more just their overall demeanor and rhetoric. And yes, those assets do matter. On a simple level, both of them just seem like nice guys--good people who want to make a difference in this country. They seem like the kind of people you could disagree with on every level but still respect, admire, and even like.

I was particularly struck by these words from Obama in yesterday's New Hampshire debate:

"And, you know, so the truth is actually words do inspire. Words do help people get involved. Words do help members of Congress get into power so that they can be part of a coalition to deliver health care reform, to deliver a bold energy policy. Don't discount that power, because when the American people are determined that something is going to happen, then it happens. And if they are disaffected and cynical and fearful and told that it can't be done, then it doesn't."

No matter what side of the political fence you are on, you've got to love this idea. It's inspiring for us all. (Yes, this is especially true if you are a geekyAmerican literature and composition professor). Again, I won't comment specifically on my feelings about President Bush, except to say that from day one of his second term, I've been looking forward to less partisan animosity in our country, so much of which stems from how people feel about him.

It seems to me that a McCain/Obama race has the potential to be a tone-changing race for our country. People treating each other civilly, actually debating real issues instead of throwing cheap shots at each other. And maybe I'm just dreaming...

[Full debate transcript (source of the quotation above)]