Posted by: Mark Nielsen | February 9, 2008

Reviewing the Super Week That Was

Look, up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane–

No, it’s Super Week!

Started with the Super Bowl, included the super-est of Super Tuesdays ever, and finishing on Friday with a bang. Of course, not everything went as I personally hoped it would, and down in Tennessee the storms were awful, but it was a dramatic week nevertheless.

For me, the good times started rolling (as those crazy Cajuns say) last Saturday: Groundhog Day. It was a good day to stay in here in Chicago, and the great Harold Ramis-directed, locally shot, Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day was on cable. Six more weeks of winter? You bet your ass! (Not that I’m happy about that, but good movies make the time fly…) Later on that day Graham and I did a treasure hunt in the house, and his verbal clues were so spot-on that I cracked up. (“It’s in a red thing that you wear”… as if that could be anything other than his red snowboot.) At what age does a child learn subtlety and indirectness?

Sunday was Super Bowl Sunday, and I definitely had a horse in that race: the Patriots. We were having a few friends over, and I looked forward to watching the game on our new HDTV. So I did a little blog/quiz on the two teams. (Took too long researching it, which meant I sort of blew off church. Oh well, …I’ll be putting in extra time over Lent anyway, so that’s a wash.) As for the game, it’s already universally acknowledged to be one of the best Super Bowls ever, a real nail-biter start to finish, as Patriot Super Bowls usually are. The outcome was not to my liking, of course, but I’m man enough to give credit where it’s due: the Giants team defense was the real MVP, and for once Belichick and his young offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels got outcoached. As for Eli Manning, he somehow pulled a few great plays out of his rear end under pressure, and I guarantee he will never look that good again.

Monday was tough, as I had to go back to work after having most of last week off (home with a sick kid Tue-Thurs, and Friday was a snow day… we went sledding). But I started the CMLC students on a volleyball unit, a sport I like an awful lot, and they’re getting in the swing of things (pun intended). Monday night, a real treat: Tony Campolo was interviewed on The Colbert Report. Tony’s one of a handful of progressive, Democratic Christians actually getting the word out that evangelicals are not actually one uniform (or automatically conservative) voting bloc. Check out Tony’s interview here. And for further evidence of same: an interesting New York times article appeared this week on how Barack Obama is attracting crossover moderate and/or young Republicans — the new term I heard this morning is “Obamicans” . Read the NYT Kristof op-ed piece here. Even Ike’s own granddaughter, a lifelong Republican, is an Obama girl!

Tuesday, my regular day off, was also Super Tuesday. So Graham had no schol, as his school gym is a polling place. In the morning I watched one of the best films I’ve seen in years, Wim Wenders’ Don’t Come Knocking. It’s a little sleeper of a film about family and responsibility and “being a man”, written by and starring Sam Shepard, one of my all-time faves. Now I must confess Wenders is also one of my favorite directors (Wings of Desire is #3 on my “desert island” list), so I’m inclined to be forgiving for the few sloppy or self-indulgent aspects of this movie. Mostly, it’s a great collection of characters, great acting, an important theme, and beautifully shot in Butte, Montana — a really cool little city I visited back in 2006.

In the afternoon, we went to vote, then to the public library, then some much-needed grocery shopping (holy crap, food’s getting really expensive… is it the fuel costs?). Watched the election returns with Sue that night, taking particular interest in two things: that Obama took so many delegates, and that in a late development he took the bellwether state of Missouri (the news & schmooze crews had stupidly called it for Clinton too early, then had to “un-call” it and put their tails between their legs).

I was aware that it was also Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras, but my grown-up, Family Man responsibilities precluded me from getting out… not even to see my brother-in-law Brez’s zydeco/blues band Hurricane Gumbo. Nevertheless, I hope to get out and see these good-time boys sometime soon. Keep your ears peeled if you live in Chicago: they play around town all year, and their live show is a laugh riot.

Wednesday (Ash Wednesday, in fact) began in fairly ordinary fashion. But as the slushy snow started to fall in the afternoon, I knew it was going to be a long ride home, and an even longer night.

Which it was. By the time I got home (which is an hour north of where I work) the lake-effect snow was getting deep and heavy in Skokie. After a brief rest and a snack, I dug out with shovel and snowblower, helped a neighbor get her little sportscar unstuck from the bottom of her driveway, and then flopped on the couch exhausted. That took the Ash Wednesday church service off the table, which I felt bad about, but I was too spent to go back out again. However, thanks to a racing mind, insomnia still kept me up till 2am, watching a pretty stupid movie (The Number 23, directed by perennial hack Joel Shumacher and starring Jim Carrey).

Thursday, a fun performing arts lesson with my kids: I gave them some historical and geographic background on Alaska, and the 1,150 mile Iditarod dogsled race (usually run around the last two weeks of March– watch for it on the Versus cable channel, and for a bit of coverage on CBS also). It’s like going from Chicago to Orlando, pulled by a team of Huskies, through some of the most gorgeous country in the world. Then our classes used some sport dollies and rope and made our own dogsleds, with which we ran a few races of our own in the gym. Mayhem and hilarity ensued, plus a blister or two.

Thursday night, in honor of Chinese New Year, ordered Chinese take-out. I’m partial to spicy dishes… think I had the Szechuan beef this week. Graham loves the fortune cookies, but as he gets older, I plan to help him develop his palate for almond cookies, too. Sue’s a Sweet & Sour girl… those of you who know her can vouch for both of those flavors within her personality, as well. She’s sick this week, so maybe a bit more sour than usual. Or maybe it’s doing the income taxes that has turned her sour.

Friday, a shortened school day for teacher meetings, followed by preparations for tonight’s Valentine’s Dance. It’s more a festival than a dance, really, but there IS a spinning mirrored disco ball, that I put up myself. Imani, an African American eighth grader helping set up, took a moment while we were testing the ball out to sing the chorus of “Stayin’ Alive”. I’m so glad to see some things just never get old.

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother,
You’re stayin alive, stayin alive.
Feel the city breakin and everybody shakin,
And we’re stayin alive, stayin alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin alive, stayin alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin aliiii -iii- iiive.

Time to go put on my white leisure suit…

Have a great weekend, all you brothers & mothers!

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