Words, Words, Words

November 30, 2000

Teddy wasn't at lunch today, so I didn't have an opportunity to impress him with my Latin. I shouldn't have referred to him as a baby yesterday; he's 2 1/2 now, well into the talking stage. Rachel was elated that he'd learned the meaning of "That's private." ("Do you know what 'That's private' means?" "Not Teddy's!") He is very clear on the distinction between what's his and what's other people's, although I wasn't sure if he's grasped that he doesn't always get to make the designation. I commented that he sounded like a control freak, and when they agreed suggested that he might have a career in upper management. We also talked about my nieces and nephews for a bit, and I mentioned how complicated it was because Caroline's birthday is a week after Christmas. Rachel then shared her childrearing philosophy with me, which is that you have to teach them as young as possible that Life Isn't Fair. She thought this was a very important lesson for them to learn.

Eric also told me about his new job, which is working for Rachel. There was an opening in her office, what with the economy being the way it is they have a hard time hiring people, Eric wanted to change careers anyway, and she got permission to hire him. "So now you have to do what Rachel tells you to do." "Yes." "It must be a wrenching adjustment." "Not really."

We met at the Luna Grill, by the way, which shares some similarities with the Luna Cafe near my apartment but has a somewhat different menu. I had the mozzarella and tomato sandwich, with french fries; Rachel had a roasted vegetable sandwich, with sweet potato fries; and Eric had some kind of sandwich. (I guess next time I need to take notes.) I said I didn't like sweet potatoes, Eric said he didn't like sweet potatoes either, and Rachel said Eric liked everything except sweet potatoes, but she loved their sweet potato fries. (Which were huge, more like wedges than fries.) The sandwiches were pretty big. Eric cleaned off his plate, Rachel ate most of her food, and I ate about half of mine.

After the food came we talked about Unbreakable for a while, discussing the bits we really liked. We agreed that not many movies could create so much suspense out of basically commonplace events, like walking down a flight of stairs. (I was going to give another example, but it belatedly occurs to me that it might be a spoiler.) We also liked the paint cans and the newspaper. Rachel particularly liked the relationship between the father and the son. She pointed out that these relationships are usually seen from the child's point of view, and in this movie it was really from the father's perspective. The actress who played the wife didn't really have a lot to do, but I argued it wasn't her story, and we didn't see what made Dunne fall in love with her because by the time the movie began he wasn't in love with her; and that once he found his place in life, their relationship began to improve.

After that we shifted to Buffy and Angel for a while, discussing the themes of the series and whether Joyce is going to die. (Eric thought she was toast, Rachel didn't want anything bad to happen, and I said I saw two ways to resolve the plotline: either Joyce could die, or Dawn could sacrifice her human existence to save her. (But probably she would die.) We all agreed that the spell which made Joyce 'remember' that Dawn was her daughter caused her cancer, and that the Queller demon going after her was confirmation.) We all thought that Angel is losing its way this season and hate the plot with Darla.

I argued that the best episode of Angel so far was "Blind Date", the one with the blind assassin. First of all, it had some great scenes, like Gunn's performance in the lobby of Wolfram & Hart and the fight where Angel figured out she couldn't see him unless he was moving. But more importantly, it was the clearest illustration yet of the series's theme of redemption. Both Angel and Wolfram & Hart had the chance to redeem Lindsey when he suffered a crisis of conscience, and Wolfram & Hart won because they cared more. They were willing to sacrifice their objective for Lindsey's sake, while Angel treated him with disdain. And at the end of the show, Angel never even realized that he'd lost--never realized what the real fight was about. His failure to help Lindsey is the kind of error that, from a story point of view, has to come back to bite him, and I think what's happening this season is just the beginning. Sooner or later Angel will have to fix his mistake and it'll be a lot harder the second time around.

Usually when I visit Eric and Rachel we talk for four or five hours, so it was a shame when an hour passed and they had to go. We didn't even get around to talking about the election until a few minutes before the end. But now that I'm at home during the week, we can easily have lunch another time.

I also shared my latest election tidbit, which is that it turns out there were two kinds of punchcard machines used in Palm Beach County, built by two different manufacturers. The Palm Beach Post did an analysis and found that one kind of machine had an undervote rate three times the other. The evidence that dimpled ballots were caused by machine jams was already overwhelming; this just makes it even more impossible for any honest person to deny that those ballots should be counted. (Which makes the dishonesty of Republicans all the more irritating. George Will's column today claims that the Democrats' case rests on two assertions: "anything done with a ballot constitutes a cast vote" and "no vote can be considered counted until a presidential intent has been ascribed to it, even if the inscription involves ituiting the meaning of 'marks...barely discernable to the human eye.'" [Will quotes Charles Burton, the Republican who oversaw the Palm Beach recount, without identifying him as a Republican.] Of course the Democratic position involves neither of these assertions, but misrepresenting your opponent's arguments rather than rebutting them seems to be the only defense the Republicans have left.)

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