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No Easter bunny for me. No dying hard-boiled eggs or picking through green plastic grass for the Hershey’s chocolate eggs at the bottom of an empty half-gallon pail of ice-cream that is doubling as an easter basket. Nope. None of that. Here’s what I’m doing for Easter, and I suggest you all do the same:

1. Start your day by catching up on your podcasts. My podcasts aren’t working in China. I like to get the weekly podcasts for This American Life and Radio Lab, but in China, it’s really hit or miss. Some weeks they come through. Other weeks they don’t and I have to go to the websites and listen to them there.

Anyway, while I was doing laundry and cleaning my apartment this morning, I listened to the This American Life episode from the week before, titled “Remember Me.” The episode is about how we remember people and it features a story about a ghost who haunts a hotel in Wisconsin (as well as a few interviews from the StoryCorp people!). But what I was really impressed with was the third act – “Giving up the Ghosts” by Shalom Auslander. This is a must-hear episode and, if you can get your hands on it, his short story collection sounds like a good read.

2. Next, visit the Washington Post so you can take a look at the third annual Peep Diorama Contest. Then ask me about “peeping.”

3. Finally, zip on over to the New York Times so you can read the latest Modern Love column, a Sunday ritual for me. These columns are the perfect fit for a lazy Sunday afternoon (at least for me in China!).

Happy Easter!

What did everyone think of the Olympics?

I’m not much of a sports fan, but I love watching the Olympics. I think it has something to do with my family always settling around the television to watch when I was a kid. I remember watching the Olympics as a child, but not since. I think this is the first Olympics I’ve actually sat down and watched the majority of the games. It probably has something to do with the fact that I haven’t been working this month.

Finally, here’s a video Emily recorded when I was in Madison. As you may recall, I have problems with women’s gymnastics. This is what the event sounds like to me:

I hate the women’s gymnastics at the Olympics.

Now, obviously, I love watching the men tackle those rings and fly around that pummel horse. I could watch that all day. So, it isn’t the sport. What bugs me are the annoying teenage girls yipping on the sidelines. All I can hear from the sidelines are these screeching, high-pitched, yips. Come on Shawn! Come on Shawn! And that’s just the Americans.

Anyone else notice this? It grates on my every nerve.

To celebrate The Mole finale tonight, allow me to dip back into the past.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with catching Carmen Sandiego. I’d spend a half-hour every school morning – between when the bus dropped me off and when the bell rang – playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? in the school computer lab. I think the game was on one of those large, flimsy disks, which, for reasons I still don’t fully understand, was not called a floppy disk.

But every morning I would improve my geography skills by seeking out, and eventually catching Carmen Sandiego. I loved being called a gumshoe. I loved the cheesy, junior high humor (I suppose it helped that I was in junior high). Sometime later, I discovered a series of Carmen Sandiego books which included cards on some of Carmen’s villians. I liked the drawings of these villians, their names, and their goofy characteristics on the back of the cards. For example, Phil R. Yup is a street musician who liked hush puppies and bald eagles. Sarah Nade is the lead singer in a Hawaiian punk band called the Sarcastic Fringeheads. She like Chinese food and is addicted to soap operas. The books are a lot like the Choose Your Own Adventure books. You slowly uncover clues to which villian committed the crime before you track him or her down, get a warrant, and bust them.

My love for Carmen Sandiego extended further as I got older. I became addicted to the board game Clue. And, when The Mole premiered on ABC in 2001, I was giddy with excitement. It was my chance to be a gumshoe all over again!

If this whole writing thing doesn’t shake out, maybe I’ll become a private detective – specializing in gnome crimes.

I’m convinced Craig is the Mole. I’ve been asking other people who they think the mole is and I’ve been getting a mix of responses. But I strongly believe Craig’s the mole. He has to be! We’ll find out tonight!

The Mole

The Mole

Has anyone else seen the Sonic commericals with the two guys? They don’t have Sonics anywhere in North Dakota, but they still play the commercials here. The one I’ve been seeing is with these two guys eating burgers in their car. I can’t find the commercial on YouTube, but here’s how it goes:

Passenger: “I was never very good at food math.”

Driver: “What? How many burgers are you holding?”

(This is my favorite part!)

Passenger: “I don’t know. Eight!”

Anyone know what I’m talking about?

I found a different video on YouTube:

I’m back on American soil. I’m at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, waiting for my flight out to Jamestown, where my parents will be picking me up. I’m tired and smelly, but, surprisingly, in a good mood. It feels good to be back home.

So, apparently, Fall Out Boy recorded a cover of “Beat It.” Northwest Airlines’ had the song looping on their onboard music playlist. And it’s total crap. It’s just one of those songs you don’t cover.

But the song got me thinking about what I missed during the summer. I had limited access to goings-on across the U.S. so I’m sure I missed stuff. For example, a few months ago I found out that in 2003 (when I was in Iraq and had virtually NO access to the outside world), Lifesavers replaced the lime-flavored candy with green apple. I love me some green apple, but as an amateur candy connoisseur, I was floored.

So here’s my question to you, dear reader: What did I miss this summer? What was going in the news while I was on the high seas? What has everyone been watching, reading, listening to while I was searching for octopi in the Pacific?

Here’s a list of things I already know:

  • The Dark Knight is flooring audiences and causing controversy. I saw the film on my last night in Japan. Heath Ledger was amazing and it’s even more sad that he’s gone. He made that movie. In fact, I would say the Batman played second fiddle to the Joker. (The theater, however, did not show the Watchmen preview. I’m not a big fan, but I read an interesting story in Entertainment Weekly. Anyone see the preview?)
  • Comedians and newsmen died over the summer (George Carlin, Tony Snow, etc.)
  • When You’re Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris. I’ve had some time to think about the book now, and the stories I remember the most are the ones about the old-lady neighbor, the crazy birds, the spider, and the human skeleton. Anyone else read this yet? What stood out to you?

And if anyone says anything about The Mole I will kill them. I am planning to watch the episodes online when I get to my parents’ place.

I swear to god, I’ll hunt you down and kill you like I did those Iraqis!