Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dr. Tyson on The Daily Show

In case you missed my friend, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson's great appearance on The Daily Show last night, click here. Be sure to watch both Parts I and II as well as Jon's exchange with Colbert, all of which play in succession.

Giving In to MySpace and Facebook

OK, I've finally given in and done what I said I'd never do. I've joined MySpace and Facebook. I don't plan on posting blogs or such at either location, but intend on using them strictly for that which I've been assured they are indispensable--networking and staying in touch with friends. Click on the links to be taken to either page.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Standing Room Only

Is it just me or is the fight for next year's Democratic nomination shaping up to be even more fascinating, compelling and exciting than the race for the Oval Office itself?

It's been a huge week for the Democrats, with several new heir apparents throwing their hats into the ring. Most are of little surprise, though to have their ambitions confirmed instead of merely speculated over is causing quite a stir.

What is perhaps most striking is the abundance of genuine riches gathered on the playing field. In the top three alone, you have some genuine showstoppers.

John Edwards was always the more dynamic and interesting of the failed Kerry/Edwards ticket. Barack Obama is riding a wave of national popularity that is shocking to behold. And Hilary Clinton is setting herself up as the first woman to run for president who also actually has a chance of winning.

Or does she?

I don't know at this point. Sure, the love for her here in New York is palpable, but I am not at all convinced that that goodwill spreads through the rest of the country. Even among Democrats, Mrs. Clinton may be unable to separate the cold, hard persona of her former White House days with her current eyes on the office.

I just don't like her all that much.

Obama, on the other hand....

Is this what our parents and grandparents felt like when JFK made his run for the Presidency? Because that is what it feels like to me whenever the hyper-intelligent, youthful, good-looking candidate stands up and opens him mouth. And I have to admit that I am one of those in awe of just about everything the man is saying. His genuine authenticity is searing. He's one of the single most exciting politicians to appear in my lifetime. That he is, admittedly, largely untried is just about the only thing to give me pause.

At least on the Democratic side, the Presidential race is going to come down, in all likelihood, to a black man and a woman. Are you ready America? You better be?

What is your alternative?

An admittedly equally crowded field of Republican contenders trying with an almost fanatical desperation to get as far away as possible from George Bush and his utterly toxic legacy?

This one is the Democrats to lose...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

All The News That's Fit To Air

I get my news primarily from two sources, a daily dose of National Public Radio for several hours each morning and NBC’s Nightly News with Brian Williams in the evenings. That having been said, I also require a little bit more to ensure that I stay relevant, informed, and, quite frankly, sane.

If you’re a regular viewer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you may have noticed familiar laughter (at least my sister did) from the audience on last night’s show. Truth is, I decided that, while watching the show on cable each night is great, attending a taping is even better. It took me a few tries, but I finally got tickets.

After standing outside in the 30 degree cold for two hours (tickets do not guarantee entry), a friend and I were led into the studio and seated almost directly in front of Jon’s desk. Surprisingly, the set is extremely small, basically just a desk with three large screen recessed in the background.

Daily Show writer and insult comic, Paul Mercurio warmed up the audience before Jon came out and fielded a few questions. I was struck most by Jon’s manner when the cameras are not on him—exactly the same as when they are. His hilarious delivery and comic timing mirror his on-camera persona.

We discussed Fidel Castro’s surgically implanted artificial anus, Barack Obama’s run for President, and American Idol. Featured correspondents included John Hodgman (PC on the Mac ads), Rob Riggle, and Larry Wilmore who taped an advanced segment for an airing later in the month. The guest was NFL superstar and rug-cutter Jerry Rice.

Living only a mile or so from the studio, I may need to make a habit of this.

Check out some of the highlights here.

But that's not all folks. It was a great week for political comedy shows.

Several days earlier, I was in Chicago for a taping of NPR's hilarious news quiz show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“Wait Wait” is hosted by Peter Sagal, with veteran “Morning Edition” NPR newscaster and sidekick Carl Kasell as scorekeeper and a rotating set of three panelists. (Our three for the week were Mo Rocca—himself a former Daily Show correspondent—, writer Amy Dickinson and comedian Adam Felber.) In addition to the panelists, “Wait Wait” listeners phone in to play games on the air with questions based on the week's news. If they win, their prize is Carl Kasell's voice on their home answering machine.

Every episode features a section entitled “Not My Job” in which celebrity guests are asked questions about topics completely unrelated to their job (when former Secretary of State Madeline Albright was on recently, she was quizzed on the history of Playboy magazine). Recent guests have included Senator Barack Obama and Tom Hanks. Our guest was former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, and indeed jokes at New Jersey’s expense played a large part in the show as did the infamous soft-drink Surge, New York City’s flatulence, stupid criminals, murdering Martians, and the iPhone.

You can listen to the entire show here, or in bite-sized bits here.

Great stuff. Next stop, The Colbert Report!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Dory Cove: Down But Not Out

As a child, every other year or so we ventured out from the Colorado mountains for the pebbled beaches of Lincoln City, Oregon. My favorite beaches are those along the Oregon coast. I'll take their rugged, rocky, frigid-lapped stretches over a white sand California or Florida beach any day. Even as an adult, no trip to Oregon to visit my family is complete without the Lincoln City pilgrimage.

And the pilgrimage itself is unthinkable without a visit to Dory Cove, the little seafood place on a bluff overlooking the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean where I always ordered clam chowder and The Captain's Plate, a massive mixture of fish, shrimp, clams, oysters and scallops. Opened in 1973 (the year I was born) by a retiring Air Force Master Sergeant who'd never before operated a restaurant, the Dory Cove quickly became a staple of Lincoln City.

I just learned this afternoon that the Dory Cove was gutted by a fire at the end of November and completely destroyed.

* * *

In just a few weeks, Lincoln City will hold a fund raiser for the beloved eatery. The owners intend to rebuild on the original site.

And when they open, I will be there. Maybe not on opening night, but I will be there. And for many years to come.


During the first minutes of New Year's Day, just moments after the clock initiated 2007, my wife, her brother - who'd been visiting us in New York for the holidays - and I sat down to a movie. Wordplay, which was one of last year's most talked about documentaries, examines the phenomenon of crossword puzzles as seen through the eyes of Will Shortz, the New York Times' and NPR's puzzle editor.

While a movie about people doing crossword puzzles probably sounds as interesting as watching the proverbial paint dry, that is far from the truth here. Aside from those ferocious fans who can plow through a puzzle in less than two minutes, the film also spends time with such puzzle-players as President Bill Clinton, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart and documentarian Ken Burns. The need to unravel the mystery and crack the code drives many to daily take up the Times and its challenges. It turns out Wordplay was fantastic. And inspiring.

It was high time we began. It was, as far as I know, our only New Year's resolution.

We greeted the new day and year properly (after a few hours sleep) with brunch at Sarabeth's, one of Manhattan's most sought-after restaurants. Over an amazing breakfast and tall mimosas, we unfurled our copy of the Times that we snagged from a corner vendor on the way over, found the puzzle, folded the paper properly and set to work with a carefully procured pencil.

The three of us finished the puzzle by the end of brunch. We were elated. Though we knew the puzzles got progressively more difficult as the week went on, Stephanie and I had never done one before - at least in adulthood - and felt a certain amount of empowerment. It was fantastic to watch the white spaces disappear as we racked our brains successfully for the answers.

Tuesday's was indeed more difficult, though we were still able to complete it with a few helpful hints from the internet. We seemed to be getting the hang of things on Wednesday, easily finishing over 3/4ths of the puzzle. Turns out we were just being lulled into a false sense of security. Thursday's puzzle incorporated peculiar punctuation that confused us to no end, and Friday's involved mostly and nearly impossible to comprehend long or multi-word answers. What began as an enjoyable exercise quickly devolved into a frustrating conundrum. We were lucky if we properly answered a handful of clues. I'm afraid that Saturday's puzzle was only given a half-hearted and cursory glance and though Sunday's expansive (and expensive) paper sits on the kitchen table, we have yet to open it.

It's only January 8th. So much for that resolution.

Then again, today is Monday. Perhaps it's time for a fresh start. The disillusionment and despair can wait until later in the week. For today, we're an 10-letter word, across, meaning "unable to defeat, cannot overcome."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Where's The Snow?

We awoke this morning to discover that Colorado received yet another major snowstorm last night, the third in just about as many weeks.

Drifts rise to the height of rooftops. Cars are buried. Interstates are closed. The National Guard is dropping hay to immobilized cattle. Since the beginning of winter, offices and schools have had to shut down well over half a dozen times, a number which would have doubled had not one of the blizzards struck during the Christmas break.

I have just one question? Why am I stuck here in New York!?

When I was a kid, I remember these sorts of storms as common events. In recent years, however, I can't recall one significant blizzard. The last time Colorado got hit like this was 1997 and I had to watch from sunny Florida where I was engaged in my aircrew training. When I got out of the Navy and moved back to Colorado I couldn't wait to experience good snow again. The problem is, it never came. At least not like this.

And now, here we are in New York City, salivating over our television news and internet snow reports which list abundant inches of powder at our favorite ski resorts.

It's true that New York usually doesn't hurt for the white stuff either. However, the East Coast and the Great Lakes region are undergoing a warm snap, and have been for the past several months. Today's temperature is 60 degrees. It will be almost 70 tomorrow. Nature itself is flabbergasted--flowers are blooming and trees are budding throughout the region. In January!

In fact, today New York broke a record for the most days without snow since 1878! And there is none in sight.

I'm being punished for something, aren't I?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from the Fibbs

In Greek mythology, Janus is a two-faced god, one face looking back in time and the other looking forward. I often feel like Janus, especially this year. Having closed one chapter of my life and begun another, I too find myself looking both backward on wonderful experiences and friends and forward to an exciting, yet unknown future.

* * *

Happy holidays! We write to you from our cozy apartment on the Upper West Side in New York City, where Christmas really is all around us. We are staying here for the holidays, enjoying the fantastic musical offerings, window shopping at Macy’s and along 5th Avenue, ice skating outdoors with friends (and hundreds of other people!), and planning to be at Times Square with Stephanie’s brother to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.

Our big move this fall from our hometown of Colorado Springs to the Big Apple for Brandon to begin his master’s program at New York University is our big news of 2006. Living in Manhattan is an educational experience in itself. In many ways, adjusting is much like moving to a foreign country. Luckily, living in a foreign country was always something we relished, and we find our new lifestyle captivating, even if we do haul our laundry down four flights of stairs and three blocks. Though we miss our wonderful friends, we are very much at home in New York.

But our year contained many other significant moments, too. Stephanie’s dad treated the family to a cruise to the Mexican Riviera in March. We shared eight wonderful days – on the open sea, lounging on deserted beaches, swimming and snorkeling in azure-blue waters, and sipping drinks out of coconuts. Zihuatanejo was our favorite port city.

In June, we were confirmed in the greater Anglican Communion, a step in our faith journey we had been considering prayerfully for some time. We cherished and were sad to leave behind the faith community at Grace & St. Stephen’s.

In one short week in July, we lost one generation but gained another. Stephanie’s last grandparent, her beloved grandmother Olivia, passed on. She was nearly 92. A few days later, We became an uncle and aunt when Brandon’s brother and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl, Aaliyah Megumi, into the world July 25. Unfortunately, since the three of them live in Okinawa, we have met Aaliyah only in pictures.

Since we were physically separated for our anniversary in September, we celebrated our first two years when reunited in October. As we learn and grow more as a married couple, we find each year together, each year of learning to put the other first, a greater reason to celebrate.


This fall I began my graduate work in Cinema Studies at NYU, one of the finest film schools in the country. While it is amazing to think I have begun such a momentous undertaking, it is no less amazing to realize I have already completed my first semester. Returning to school has been a rewarding and enriching experience, both academically challenging and creatively rewarding.

This November, I turned 33. Not normally a year to elicit too much contemplation, I found myself struck often by the fact that I am now the same age as Christ at the end of His life. Stephanie’s surprise gift to me was tickets to the revival of Les Miserables, a glorious and touching story of grace.

My family is well. My mother celebrated her first wedding anniversary in Oregon. My sister also undertook a monumental move this summer when she left Michigan, where she had lived since getting out of the Army, for the warmer climes of San Diego, California, where she should start in the new year as San Diego’s newest police officer. And my father retired after almost 20 years with the Colorado Springs Sheriff’s Department.


My big news is that NASA has recruited me to work as a public affairs specialist at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. It was a very difficult decision process, but we both felt I should take the opportunity at NASA and be challenged in new ways. Nevertheless, both leaving the Space Foundation, where my career has been so nurtured, and leaving Brandon every week will be hard. I will stay in D.C. during the week, and Brandon and I will take turns commuting to see each other. I start Jan. 22, and this should solidify my status as a “space geek.” As I settle into both places, I look forward to renewing my extracurricular activities by finding a soccer team, book club, and German language group. And, hopefully, a couple places on the East Coast for snowboarding!

I was not the only one in the family to move this year. My twin sister moved back to Colorado Springs and is teaching fifth grade, and my older sister, after graduating with her nurse practitioner’s degree, moved to San Diego to work at its Children’s Hospital.

We have been pleased to welcome visitors to our apartment already and would be delighted to see you in New York (or D.C.!), too.
Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus