31 July 2005

But first, a musical interlude...

As we already had plans to see Barbie's friend Becca Yuré perform in the Charlottesville Ashlawn Opera Festival's performance of Annie Get YOur Gun, we saw no reason to put that off, so we're down in Thomas Jefferson's neck of the woods.

Yesterday we toured Monticello, the house and the plantation. We had an amazing plantation tour guide, Stephen Levine. Props to him and the rest of the staff there for making a balanced and historically accurate portrayal of our 3rd president. He crusaded for human rights but had slaves. That was the central dichotomy of his life. The question is of course, was the good he did enough to outweigh his ownership of slaves? You could argue that it was normal, at the time in Virginia, to own slaves, but he was on the record for calling it a stain on America's soul. Tough questions. Good place to visit. Interesting crowd there, actually. Far larger swath of America than you get in an art museum tour, to be sure. They contend, with DNA evidence, that the Hemming family and the Jefferson family are DNA-related, but there's not enough evidence to prove conclusively that Jefferson and Sally Hemming had kids. They step out on the plank with circumstantial evidence (mostly opportunity) and say TJ was the father of all 6 of her kids.

Regardless, there are no Hemmings in the Jefferson family burial grounds, so I guess not all has been rectified.

Annie was great, and so was Becca. Their Frank Butler (Annie's love interest) was also really good. I don't envy these players, in period costumes out in the muggy VA night. Frank sweat through at least 2 shirts, collar and all. We hope to see Becca off- and on-Broadway one of these days...a benefit of living on the East Coast.

29 July 2005

The L-rd giveth...

Barbara's grandfather, Aaron Berkson, passed away this morning. They didn't have the best relationship of late, as he'd gotten pretty cranky in his old age and physical pain, but she still loved him very much. I'll be heading back to LA on Sunday for the funeral on Tuesday.

28 July 2005

It's a boy!

Well, we've known the gender for months, but that's beside the point. Actually, no, time for a mini-rant. When did we all start substituting "sex" for "gender." Just because they're synonymous, doesn't mean they are precisely the same thing. "Gender" is a great word, with a very specific definition. Let's bring it back into the lexicon. But on to the real news...

Welcome to the world my new nephew, Benjamin Morgan Bishoff, born about 5 hours ago to my sister-in-law Randee and her husband Scott.

Yes, she married a Bishoff and Barbara married a Bushman. Coincidence?

Doubtful, but I'll be headin' to LA for the bris next week.

27 July 2005

Not dead?

So a theory now being tossed about is that Dumbledore isn't dead. They faked his death so he can pop out and surprise Voldemort at the end of Book 7. That would certainly enable a "happy ending" scenario, but I doubt it'll shake out that way.

Anywoo, no more HP discussion till the next book comes out.

Neville Lives!


25 July 2005

Send your name to Pluto!

Part of our outreach program for the New Horizons
mission to Pluto will be a CD full of names. You, yes
you, can add your own name to that disc and get a
swanky printable certificate to boot.

Should you want to join the hordes:



24 July 2005

First Review of the New and Improved Blog

Okay, here we go:

The Island: 2.25 Stars. Let me put it this way. In this film, Los Angeles has a working, viable elevated train system. Now how am I supposed to suspend disbelief that much? I'm starting to wonder if Ewan McGregor is capable of picking a big-budget script. Scarlett Johanson is hot, though.

So let's have a 2005 movie recap:
Hitch: 3 Stars
Constantine: 2.5 Stars
Madagascar: 2 Stars
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith: 2.5 Stars
Batman Begins: 3.5 Stars
War of the Worlds: 2.5 Stars
Mr. and Mrs. Smith: 2 Stars
Fantastic Four: 2.5 Stars
Bewitched: 3 Stars
Wedding Crashers: 2.75 Stars
The Island: 2.25 Stars

What dreck. I hope we get something decent besides Batman Begins.

22 July 2005

Terrell Owens is an idiot.

Okay, maybe this isn't as important a talking point as the new SCOTUS appointment, but now that Travis Henry is a Titan and the Eagles won't be sending T.O. and Buckhalter up to Buffalo for Henry and Moulds, it's time to sound off.

T.O. is an idiot.

There it is. I'm a die-hard Eagle fan. I've been so for 31 years; I will be so for another 131, and no amount of money is worth what he's doing to his career, his name, and his legacy.

So for those who haven't paid too much attention to this, a brief summary: Perennial highlight-reel/motormouth wide receiver Terrell Owens signed a 7-year, $49-million dollar contract with the Eagles last year. Including signing bonus, he made a shade over $10 million last year. He had a hell of a season, catching for well over 1000 yards and 14 touchdowns before breaking his leg in December. With surgically-inserted screws in his leg, he played in the Superbowl 6 weeks later and caught for 122 yards in a truly awesome performance. He won the love, devotion, and admiration of one of the toughest blue-collar fan bases in the country.

This year, he will make about $3.2 million. After retaining a new agent in the offseason, he has decided that he wants to renegotiate his contract to get some more guaranteed money. He has further decided that the way to do this is to threaten to sit out this year.

First, I will contend that, for various reasons including an inept agent, he didn't get the best contract he could have last year. He got far less up-front money than someone of his talent would normally get (note, I didn't say "deserved").

Second, the generally accepted consensus is that if the Eagles guaranteed his roster bonus of $5M next spring, he'd be happy as a clam. Instead, he's worried they'll cut him rather than spring for the $5M and then he'll be a 32-year-old free agent.

Third, he's one of the top 3 wide recievers in the league, with Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison. He's real, real good.

But he decided to piss off an entire city by saying that he's underpaid and won't play for his 1-year-old contract. That's certainly his right, but I can still call him an idiot. There's a couple reasons I feel this claim is valid.

First, there's more ways to be paid than on the field. I've never understood why so many players never learned the lessons from Michael Jordan, who made far more money in endorsements than he ever did on the basketball court. T.O. is handsome, talented, and outgoing. He's not a head case like Moss or a supremely private person like Harrison. He loves attention. So why didn't his agent go out there and get him some commercial deals? Now, T.O.'s a friggin' carnival with circling media vultures continually getting him to say increasingly stupid things. Who wants that on their billboards?

Second, there is no way that the average fan is going to support a guy who wants to make $9M instead of $7M. Those numbers are so mind-boggling that we can't relate, and when he says that he's "just trying to take care of my family." we know that's an entire load of bullcrap, because anyone could take care of their family for the rest of their lives on a couple million, much less an extra $2M a year.

Third, the average fan can love football, but knows he'll never have the talent of T.O., so he doesn't dream of being him. The average fan can know football, but knows he'll never know the game like a coach, so he doesn't dream of being a head coach. However, the average fan does dream of owning a football franchise. We're all fantasy football team owners now. So when push comes to shove, I believe we're all going to side with team management these days.

Fourth, if he went out and played well this year and helped the Eagles get to the Superbowl, there's no way he'd be cut next year and that $5M would certainly be his.

T.O. is an idiot because he picked a battle he couldn't possibly win. Even if he gets his money, he's still tainted. Even if he goes and plays this year, the fans won't forget this. Certainly the folks who vote for the Hall of Fame won't forget it. And right now, he couldn't sell a cheesesteak in Philly.

21 July 2005

I'm e-bloggin', bitch!

First test of blog-by-email.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around

Stewie Bushman and the Half-Wit Blog ***HERE BE SPOILERS***

Clearly I'm just not very good at the daily-blog thing.

So what's it been, a year?

I s'pose this had just degenerated into movie reviews and the occasional political rant, but you, the reader (should you exist) certainly deserve better.

As far as movies, the last year hasn't really done it for me, anyway, so you haven't missed much. See my main page for my faves from last year (Eternal Sunshine was the year's best, despite the lone writing Oscar).

I just want to put ink to screen after finishing the most recent Harry Potter tome. I was trying to read HP and the Half-Blood Prince at a leisurely pace...100 to 150 page chunks every night. (I got a late start since my copy of the British version didn't arrive until Monday afternoon.) That plan failed last night as I was up till 4am finishing up the last 500 or so pages.

Worth it, though. J.K.'s a fine writer. Not great literature, mind you, but popcorn reading of the highest order. Having said that, I'd put Volume 6 as no better than 4th best in the series after 5, 4, and 3.

My favorite parts from the books have been watching Harry's friends do great, heroic things. I'm not sure why that is, but I can guess it's because Harry's the main guy -- he won't get killed off, but when Neville and Luna and Hermione and all the Weasleys (among several others) start kicking ass and taking names, I know they might not actually survive the encounter.

This book, unfortunately, really didn't have much of that until the very end, and it was heavily glossed over. I needed a chapter or two of Ron and Hermione and Ginny drinking the luck potion and going out against the Death Eaters. I wanted to see Neville and Luna back-to-back fighting for their lives. (Can you tell I like Luna and Neville best of all the characters? I'm not sure what JK has planned for Luna, but she's been slowly preparing Neville for greatness since Book 1. He may be the character upon whom the outcome of the whole war will rest.)

But, alas, there was none of that.

So I'm left with this whole Half-Blood Prince mystery. I won't say I figured it out, 'cause I didn't, but the resolution -- just a play on words, really -- was lame, especially in a country where there actually is royalty.

And then the climax. JK has spent too much time trying to make us doubt Snape for me to think he's anything but totally loyal to Dumbledore. And that includes killing him, when it needed to happen. Dumbledore asked him to do it to spare Draco from becoming a murderer, to protect Harry, and, ultimately, to make sure that Snape is at the right hand of Voldemort when the series comes to a close. Read the death scene again if you have any doubts, but JK's not particularly subtle with plot points.

Having said that, Snape's got a lot of guilt in his life, and this, killing the only person who truly trusted him, will destroy him. Snape will die, probably saving Harry and Neville, perhaps killing Voldemort. Hopefully JK's got the chops to make it a noble end.

Overall, though, a heck of a read. I suppose I was most worried that the Weasley parents would die in this book, and that didn't happen. That would've been far more emotionally troubling, though, especially for younger readers (not to mention me).

I hope JK will be able to come up with an equally good series to follow up this one. I won't begrudge her if she wants to stay in the same universe, though. It's a fine starting point.

Oh, and as for the hanging mystery at the end: the identity of R.A.B. The only R.B. mentioned in the series thus far is Sirius' brother Regulus Black, theoretically dead ex-Death Eater.