I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I’m well known in these parts for being a sentimental fool. Derided, even. What can I say?

Girl Scouts selling cookies. Warm days. Babies. Baseball. Cheeseburgers. I get misty-eyed from time to time.

But animals? Not so much. I like animals, I have affection for my dog, I worry about stray cats, I let robins nest in my garage, but it’s not a subject that usually tugs at my heart. I’m more of an observer.

But this one got me. It’s a couple of minutes, taken at the Vancouver Aquarium, and take the time to watch it all the way through. It’s got a big finish.

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UB-Day April 2

Linford Christie (4/2/1960)

Born in Jamaica, emigrating to England when he was 7, Linford Christie still holds the English record for the 100 m (9.87 seconds, in 1993), and although he was a consistent competitor in the 1980s and 1990s he never quite made it to the top tier, having unfortunately picked Carl Lewis as a contemporary. Still, he was a statuesque athlete and a crowd favorite, and the only English man to date to hold gold medals for the 100 m in the Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth games.

Trivia: An early proponent of form-fitting running uniforms, Mr. Christie (OBE) incited something of a national snicker in the UK when people starting referring to “Linford’s lunchbox,” which is all I’m going to say about that.

Age Today: 47.

Shares Birthday With: Emmylous Harris (60) Linda Hunt (62), and Ron “Horshack” Palillo (53, just missing UB-dom).

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Looking In, Looking Out

I belong to a community, although we’re scattered into support groups and acronyms, Web sites and understanding strangers in the waiting room.

We have children who are different.

Comparisons are tenuous. A life with a kid in a wheelchair, or dying of leukemia, or with Down Syndrome, or any number of other challenges is not the same as mine, but some of it is, and most of that, I suspect, is just what the rest of you don’t know.

It becomes natural, all second thoughts spared. You do what needs to be done and you forget that you might ever have dreamed it could have been different.

Except when you don’t, of course. I have those days.

I stay up late at night, waiting to hear the car pull in the driveway. I watch for signs of drug use, not sure how I’d deal with it. I stay out of his room, hoping I don’t spy a pack of condoms and then maybe thinking I’d be grateful if I did. I slip him an extra 50 on prom night and tell him what my dad told me — call me, no questions asked, I’ll come get you, be safe. I roll my eyes at his weird friends and enjoy his cool ones, thankful for the good influence. I go to his plays, or concerts or games. I wait in the parking lot while he finishes work, stocking the shelves or bussing the tables. I endure slammed doors and almost-fistfights and derision for Dad, who can’t know anything. We talk about colleges and goals.

It’s fleeting and hardly ever happens, but sometimes. Sometimes I remember what I thought when he was born, what I imagined. But mostly I just live, and love him, and it’s never been any other way.

His mom’s gone a lot, so we hang. He tells me pretty much everything, even things I really don’t want to know. I fight alongside him, against the depression and the obsessions and the compulsions. I tell him everything’s going to be all right, when really I can’t know that. I rarely think about tomorrow, not with him. We just make it through the day, and it’s second nature.

But sometimes I want something else, so I have nights like last night. Just some adult conversation about politics and movies, Mexican food and maybe some commentary on Sarah Michelle Gellar’s sorry post-Buffy career.

I went to the movies with a friend last night, just to get out of the house. He suggested “The Lookout,” and we both sort of grinned when we came out. We got lucky this time.

The minute I saw Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the lead actor, I had to fight the urge to rack my brain until I figured out where I knew him from. Turns out he played Tommy in “3rd Rock From The Sun,” along with the young Norman in “A River Runs Through It” and the kid in “Angels In The Outfield,” along with a bajillion other parts. This kid’s been working his whole life.

It’s an indie, a small story that is so lean, so well-written and -acted that I squirmed through the movie just from the pleasure (also, I was a little sore; not a big deal). Gordon-Levitt plays a former high school athlete, a victim of a car accident, who now in his early 20s is slightly brain damaged and struggling through a confusing world.

As my friend mentioned, it’s probably not a film I’d return to soon, but just because it’s so neat and contained, like a short story. Its complexity is in the narrative and the dramatic tension, not the metaphors. Still, the scenes have stayed with me today, and for reasons I understand.

Like Chris, the character Gordon-Levitt plays, my son has his nose pressed against the glass, watching life but not quite part of it. He, too, has trouble with forgetfulness and blurting out things that are better left unsaid. And, like Chris, I could see him flattered by false friends, led astray and into trouble because he couldn’t read body language and see souls that were up to no good.

Two thumbs up from me. It’s tense, it’s sad at times, it’s a little violent, there are bits and pieces of spectacular cinematography. You could do worse.

Me, I was glad to get out, and glad to come home. I told John about it, and he groaned at some of the scenes that struck a little close. It was a feeling I shared, in the superficial way that I can, a sense of recognition and also understanding that I can’t ever know what it’s really like to be inside, and that in a real way I’ll always be on the outside looking in, just like watching a movie.

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Gen What

Reader Cathy Hiller made a good point in the comments that I want to address.

It’s true that “Generation Jones” (1954-1965) has gotten a lot of media attention as generational shorthand for our demographic. I have to admit that I’ve always considered it more of a Brit term, for some reason. Also, I think it sucks just in general, but Ãœberboomers is pretty unwieldy, so.

And, as she pointed out, UB was a joke, and originally referenced a very specific group (i.e., 1957-58). I agree that, whatever we call ourselves, it’s awkward to be a boomer when you don’t remember Howdy Doody and were 12 in the Summer of Love.

Here’s a nice piece in the Times (UK; see?) on Gen Jones. Thanks, Cathy. I’ll stick with ubey for the time being; I can’t send back the T-shirts.

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UB-Day April 1

Scott Stevens (4/1/1964)

This one’s for Meg.

From Wikipedia:

Ronald Scott Stevens (born 1 April 1964, in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada) is a retired professional ice hockey defenseman who played in the National Hockey League. He was the captain of the New Jersey Devils and is among the NHL’s all-time leaders in games played (both in the regular season and in the Stanley Cup playoffs). He is generally regarded as one of the best “stay-at-home” defencemen to ever play in the NHL.

He was also a nightmare to opposing players, a vicious (but clean) bodychecker who left a trail of injuries behind him. At 6’3 and 210 lb, I imagine he was an imposing figure, but then I know nothing about hockey except that sometimes it’s on TV when I want to watch something else.

Scott is widely considered the best player in the Devils’ history, and 2007 should be the year he makes the Hall of Fame.

Age Today: 43.

Shares Birthday With: Ali McGraw (69; WTF?), Debbie Reynolds (75).

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Strawberry Shortcut

OK, so we have a couple of young girls. Not as young as these two,

but not much past that, either. Sixth-graders. A progress report is due, and one of the girls is missing a parental signature on hers. What to do?

“The dog ate my, uh, parents.”

Fib? Play sick? Ditch class? Throw yourself on the mercy of your teacher?

Naw. Let’s just poison her.

Nothing drastic, you understand. We don’t want to kill her over a missing signature, just incapacitate her a little. Since it’s a well-known fact that Ms. Jeffers is allergic to strawberries, let’s just find a chemical substance that contains the essence of strawberry and sneak it into her coffee. But it must be done delicately, nothing overt, and something that leaves no trace…

I’m sorry, but this story just struck me as less representative of prepubescent mischief and more like the handiwork of


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UB-Day March 31

(for more information on what UB-Day is and why you should care, read this post)

Angus Young (3/31/1955)

Angus Young was the lead guitarist for AC/DC, the band that brought us “Highway To Hell” and some other songs. Sorry; not a huge fan here.

Young was recognized not only for his passionate guitar playing but also for his onstage, um, passion. Including taking a lot of his clothes off and writhing (not at the same time). Remember Michael J. Fox playing the guitar in “Back To The Future” at the 1955 prom and getting wild at the end? That was Angus Young stuff.

(NOTE: Marc McClure, who played Fox’s older brother in that movie and also Jimmy Olsen in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” films, was born on this day in 1957. It was sort of a toss-up.)

Angus was also known for his “schoolboy” look, wearing a school uniform on stage. This is often attributed to an apocryphal episode when he rushed from school to a performance, but more likely it had to do with where he shopped for clothes.

Angus Young Trivia

He is 5’2″.

He is of Scottish ancestry, with some leprechaun thrown in.

Favorite movie: “Anything with that Yoda bloke.”

Favorite saying: “They’ve stolen me Lucky Charms!”

He lives in Australia but also has a home in the Netherlands, and was recently named one of the 500 richest people in Holland (pop. 723).

Age Today: 52.

Shares Birthday With: Gordie Howe (79), Shirley Jones (73), Richard Chamberlain (72), Christopher Walken (64), and Al Gore (58).

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Justice For All

Think the U.S. Attorneys investigation is “political theater,” as the boss says, much ado about nothing other than some non-serving at the displeasure of the President? Think Scooter Libby just had a faulty memory, maybe, and anyway Valerie Plame wasn’t really covert so where’s the harm in outing her and then sorta lying about it? Think we ought to be concentrating on putting the real bad guys behind bars?

Here are a couple of examples of stillborn justice that aren’t for weak ethical stomachs. The first deals with an HIV-positive man and medical marijuana, the second with high crimes and seafood.

I could use some medical marijuana myself right about now. There oughta be a law…

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