The West Wing: Where All My Favorite Shows Got Their Talent

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When The Clone Wars writer Katie Lucas (yes, that Lucas) compared me to The West Wing’s Josh Lyman, and I admitted that I’d never seen the show, she strongly recommended that I watch it. Five minutes into the series pilot, I was hooked. A number of things stood out to me about the show, not the least of which was the fact that I agreed with nearly every one of President Bartlet’s policy initiatives. Aaron Sorkin’s dialog is outstanding, the main cast shines in every episode, and the show does a great job of exploring American politics. None of this was particularly surprising as I delved deeper into the series. What I didn’t expect was that, over the course of its seven seasons, The West Wing would feature a variety of key actors from my other favorite shows and movies. I’ve collected a partial list here so you can see just what I’m talking about.
  • Rob Lowe (Sam Seaborn, starring in Seasons 1 through 4) – Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation
  • John de Lancie (Al Kiefer in 20 Hours in L.A. and Mandatory Minimums) – Frank Simmons on Stargate SG-1
  • Glenn Morshower (Mike Chysler in various episodes) – Aaron Pierce on 24
  • Carmen Argenziano (Leonard Wallace in Night Five) – Jacob Carter on Stargate SG-1
  • Reiko Aylesworth (Janine in Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics) – Michelle Dessler on 24
  • Nick Offerman (Jerry in The Crackpots and These Women) – Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation
  • Gregory Itzin (State Dept. Representative in Enemies Foreign and Domestic) – Charles Logan on 24
  • James Morrison (Jessie Weiskopf in Angel Maintenance) – Bill Buchanan on 24
  • William Devane (Lewis Berryhill in The Dogs of War and Jefferson Lives) – James Heller on 24
  • Cherry Jones (Barbara Layton in Eppur Si Muove) – Allison Taylor on 24
  • Robert Picardo (E. Bradford Shelton in The Supremes) – Richard Woolsey on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis
  • Jason Isaacs (Colin Ayres in Gaza, Memorial Day, and N.S.F. Thurmont) – Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films
  • Jimmy Smits (Matt Santos in Seasons 6 and 7) – Bail Organa in the Star Wars films
  • Don S. Davis (Don Butler in In God We Trust) – George Hammond on Stargate SG-1
  • Mitch Pileggi (Senator Dresden in Mr. Frost) – Steven Caldwell on Stargate Atlantis

Huge thanks to Katie for getting me addicted to The West Wing!
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Returning To Disney World

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On Thursday, I’m off to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for a weekend of Star Wars fun. The event is called, appropriately enough, “Star Wars Weekends,” and it features Star Wars activities, shows, events, and celebrities spread out around Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While I can’t wait to ride the new version of the Star Tours simulator adventure, Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, I’m equally excited to see some of my good friends for the first time in months. This will be my second vacation to Disney World, and to celebrate my return, I thought I’d share a funny story from the last time I was there.

My family at Walt Disney World, August 2004

I don’t remember much about my first trip to Disney World, which happened in August 2004. Due to a freak accident with my camera’s SD card, I lost all my pictures from that trip before I could back them up. Thus, the only images that survive, such as the one above, are from my parents’ camera. I do know that I rode the original Star Tours simulator, mostly because I still have a souvenir passport from the ride. I also know that I went on a number of other rides and posed for pictures with Goofy, Donald, and other cartoon characters.But one of my favorite memories from my first trip to Disney World is when my sister and I got lost in the park for several hours.

My parents had agreed to let us walk around on our own for a while, but we were supposed to meet them at a predetermined point at a predetermined time. We wandered off, exploring the many captivating aspects of Disney World, and needless to say, we forgot about that predetermined meeting. When we didn’t arrive at the rendezvous point, my mother called the Disney World switchboard and explained that we were missing. The switchboard operator promised to connect her to the security office and then told her to “have a magical day.” (I’m not sure why they have to say that at the end of every single phone call, and I can imagine many scenarios in which it would be painfully inappropriate.)

In any event, my mother eventually spoke to the security staff and told them our names. We were still wandering around at this point, oblivious to our parents’ search for us and the fact that all of Disney World was on alert for two young children matching our description. Soon, we were approached by a park security officer, who asked us, “Are you Eric and Lisa Geller?” At the same moment, my sister said “No” and I said “Yes.” In my eagerness to comply with the park staff, I couldn’t understand why my sister would lie to a uniformed security officer. Later, she told me that she had been following our parents’ instructions to never give strangers our names because they might kidnap us. (I still don’t understand why they would need our names to kidnap us, but perhaps that’s a topic for another blog post.)

The security officer brought us to his office and called my parents. As they headed over to pick us up, the security officer, perhaps hoping to reassure my worried sister, gave us each a “Magical Moment” certificate to commemorate the event.

Truly, Disney World is where the magic lives, and I can’t wait to experience more of that magic starting on Thursday.
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The Stars, They Doth War

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I have just determined that Shakespeare is George Lucas.


Shakespeare’s first “War of the Roses” tetralogy, which included Henry VI, Part 1, Henry VI, Part 2, Henry VI, Part 3, and Richard III, is the second half of his chronicle of the English civil war.

His second published tetralogy, which included Richard II, Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, and Henry V, set up the events of his first tetralogy.

Sound familiar?

The things you learn in English class, let me tell you…
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The Force Is With This Car Commercial

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Let me be clear: I know next to nothing about the Super Bowl. I saw the #superbowl hashtag on Twitter and assumed that a video featuring remarkable Strigiformes had gone viral. But even though I could care less about football, I found something to love about tonight’s event.

Above I’ve embedded what may be the best car commercial of all time, created to promote Volkswagen’s 2012 Passat. It’s certainly one of the most entertaining Super Bowl commercials I’ve ever seen. It’s just cheesy enough to get the job done, with zero “groan factor” (not so common in ads these days) and maximum sentimentality.

Should you buy a 2012 Volkswagen Passat? I have no clue. But you should definitely watch VW’s Star Wars Super Bowl commercial over and over again, marveling each time at how perfectly it captures the spirit of young Star Wars fans and plays on everyone’s inner desire to use the Force.

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Why I Love Kenyon

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These are screenshots from an email that my English professor just sent our class regarding tomorrow’s projected snowstorm of doom. Click for larger views.


First, props to her for this reference to the opening line of Richard III, which we’re reading right now in class.


Second, the obligatory Doomsday warning:


Followed by more apocalypse humor:


But look closer at that list.


Star Wars reference FTW!


Yep, Kenyon’s awesome.

Also, this may be my last blog post if the snow buries us all tomorrow.

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