An M and E Mail


When my niece E was quite little, she was fascinated with a book at my mother's
house on Louis Pasteur that Mom's husband had from his days as a teacher. It referred to germs as "the invisible enemies" but E kept calling them "the invisible anemones" — not realizing, of course, either her mistake or the fact that there were actually such things as anemones.

E and her younger sister M are older now, eight and six respectively, yet still delighted by books and still coming out with terribly funny things.

"Let's pretend we are in the olden days," my sister J overheard E saying to M recently. "Pretend it is 1980!" ("And no," J added, "she did not mean 1880; I asked.")

Ducks Uncovered


I'm about to call a moratorium on posts beyond what's in the pipeline because there's so. much. to write. The 11 o'clock edition of Action News tonight, however, ran a story that just screams to be blogged on both for what it said and for what it left out.

very abstract Google logo made out of birds on branches

The main thing that I was surprised anchor Jim Gardner didn't mention during the story was that today was the birthday of John James Audubon — which I'll admit I only knew thanks to the day's Google logo.

And one reason why the omission is surprising is that the story was about some
ducks hatching outside a fast-food restaurant across the bridge from Philadelphia in Camden County. In case you didn't know: Audubon, born Jean-Jacques Audubon in France, was a renowned ornithologist — Hello! — who became an American citizen right here in Philly during the War of 1812.

Good Morning, Good Morning


And the end of Fringe Season Three, including what may be the final showdown in
the series' Two-Worlds War, begins.

I'm not sure how much there is to say about the events of...

Fringe 3.20 6:02 a.m. EST

... that won't be rendered moot by next Friday. So while I can't help but ask a few burning questions, I won't really try to answer them, either, instead sticking to some random reactions and tangential tidbits. Here they are in the order of their prompts throughout the episode.

Mind Games


Yes, "Mind Games" it will be, since "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" felt both a little
too on the nose and not really descriptive of ...

Fringe 3.19 Lysergic Acid Diethylamide / animated still of Leonard Nimoy as William Bell at the wheel of a ship

I'm going to try to blog weekly on Fringe, quite possibly my favorite TV experience
of the moment, as I said the other day in recapping the past couple of seasons. My oft-cited online problems and innately unpredictable abilities mean no guarantees, although I suspect that having gotten a new overview of the show out of the way will help. Now, better late than never, I offer my thoughts on one of the most intriguing
and most disappointing installments of this excellent series to date.

Across the Universe


Olivia and her doppelganger next to one another, both with guns drawn, a small 'Fringe' logo oddly placed between then at waist level

I'd been planning to write up the last three Fringe episodes of this season, which reportedly form one continued story, both to quell persistent requests from friends and as practice for potential weekly reviews come autumn now that Fox has renewed the show. A few things (LSD not being one them) conspired to convince me that it was a good idea to start early with last night's episode. Here's a bit of background to save us all from recap fatigue in future chapter-specific editions.

My Other Saturday Notes


I don't expect brilliance from Saturday Night Live these days. But it's not impossible, so I still hope for it. A genius moment and genuine belly laugh may come from the old standby of celebrity impersonations or from something utterly bizarre like that French dance sketch that first popped up in October — even from a rare recurring character who somehow stays hysterically funny, like Bill Hader's Stefon.

'SNL' title card with Helen Mirren at a drum kit whaling away
Photo: Mary Ellen Matthews for NBCUniversal Media © 2011.

With few exceptions, in fact, the weirder SNL gets anymore the better. Not to say that weird is always good, just that the good is almost always a result of weird, be it Zach Galifianakis' out-of-nowhere Annie number from last month, the non sequitur "lost" Vincent Price TV specials, or the crazier SNL Digital Short installments.

SNL's mediocrity isn't always a consistent mediocrity — we might get a whole show where everything's sort-of average, or a show with extreme highs and lows that on balance is hard to grade. Last weekend's edition, hosted by Helen Mirren, was almost aggressively middling. Its standouts were the Digital Short of Nasim Pedrad exper-iencing the magical world within Mirren's breasts, more for the bizarre premise than the slightly-too-long execution, and the latest of the fake ads for extreme concert events from Under-Underground Records featuring Pedrad and Jason Sudeikis that I've praised in the past, which are chock-full of gleeful randomness. Filmed segments have always been a part of SNL's mix (Albert Brooks, Mr. Bill, fake commercials), but it's kind-of a shame when most of the best parts of Saturday Night Live are taped.

E Mail


Here's a story that my sister sent along last year about her daughter E, who is now
eight but was seven at the time.

E was having one of those days — woke up on the wrong side of the bed, just mad at
the world. At some point she went to her room only to come back downstairs with her hair tied in a low, tight ponytail, dressed all in black, and proclaim, "My new favorite color is black. My new favorite place to go is nowhere."

Then E said that she wanted to call Mom-Mom, because her job is to help people
with their feelings, so all was not lost.



Kindred Posts: An M and E MailWhat I SaidBedtimes and Broomsticks

All Right for Typing


'Saturday Night Live' title card

I hadn't planned on reviewing Saturday Night Live in brief or at length anytime soon. But as long as I was pausing my VCR — yes, really — to read the quick-scrolling text from this week's Fox & Friends sketch, I figured I might as well transcribe it to share on the blog before heading to bed. (And of course that led to me typing up my thoughts on the show in general.)

Here's what zipped along the screen under the guise of what the fact-checkers had to say, in case you're interested, copyright 2011 NBC Studios.



President Barack Obama's middle name is not "Danger".

First Lady Michelle Obama was born in Illinois, to human parents.

"The first trimester" refers to a stage of pregnancy.
It is not a Tom Clancy novel.

What I Said


I've been remiss in sharing stories about the kids in my family, even though my sister
J has sent along a passel of awesome anecdotes with her permission to post them.

As visitors here may recall, I only refer to my nieces by the initials E and M for priv-acy's sake — but I call my nephew Ishmael because his initial happens to be the same as a personal pronoun that I have now used three times in this sentence alone. Me talking about "I" could be confusing.

Zooming towards four years old, Ishmael's likes include Buzz Lightyear, superheroes, his mommy's lap, building things, and knocking things down. His dislikes include being told what to do.

He still loves to play with his older sisters, but his relationship with them is no longer just extremes of jealousy and idolatry. Couple these more complex interactions with the first stirrings of independence from his parents, and you get situations like him app-roaching my sister recently to say "Don't go into my room."

Any parent of a small child who hears that naturally thinks (1) "Um... I'm going into your room," and (2) "You know, I probably wouldn't have been suspicious if you hadn't told me not to go into your room, so thanks for that."