WordPress and more

I haven’t been paying a lot of attention to this site recently, partly because I’ve run out of photos and other good historical material to improve it. This is something I anticipated happening after about 3 months, but I got such good encouragement and tips from other enthusiasts that I had plenty to keep me busy for a year and a half. Thanks!

The other reason is that I went researching WordPress as an alternative to Blogger (since many have had trouble with the Blogger commenting system) and ended up creating a whole new site relevant to a different hobby of mine: movies. As regular readers know, I’ve done several audio commentaries for movies set in the White House and more still for other movies. I decided to create a site where others can submit their commentaries, so there is a central repository for movie and television commentaries available on the Web. Check it out at Zarban.com, if you like that sort of thing.

I’m liking WordPress a lot, so I may convert this blog one of these days.

Got it!

I got a copy (two, actually) of AD at O’Hare while traveling today. The photos are beautiful, altho I wish we’d seen one or two of the private rooms (even the Family Kitchen!). The Green Room looks great and the Lincoln Bedroom is marvelous, but the Queens’ Bedroom is as frumpy as ever. You’d think that first families would be more adventurous with the lesser known guest room. The Vermeil Room is somehow still boring, despite the goldware. It’s nice to see the Palm Room, tho.

Also, I must say, the Porsche advertising insert was very persuasive. It fairly convinced me that I want a Porsche. But what is with that ad on page 35? Are they selling Isabella Rosselini? As much as I admire her beauty and talent, I won’t be a part of the illicit film star trade.

Architectural Digest

I still haven’t had a chance to pick up the new Architectural Digest with pics of the Bush redecoration. I’ve looked for it locally, but couldn’t find it. I didn’t want to go all the way to Barnes & Noble or Borders because I knew I’d be passing thru O’Hare airport Monday and it would certainly be there. Cue the severe weather flight delays…. and I had to rush to catch my connection.

This week I’m in Sacramento. Surely these people are civilized. The weather certainly is.

Presidents in movies and TV

As a result of a reader of the WHM Movies and TV page, I was prompted to consider how the US president is portrayed in movies and TV. I thought it would be a good discussion topic.


One thing that comes to mind is political party. Without studying it in depth, I think few movie presidents have actually been described as Republican or Democrat. They just don’t talk about it. Jed Bartlett of The West Wing TV show was a Democrat, tho.

I’ve also noticed that there aren’t many presidential marriages portrayed as happy. Notably, in the movies Dave and The Sentinel, the first couple were estranged, and in Murder at 1600 and Absolute Power, the president was cheating on his wife. In The American President, the president was widowed shortly before taking office. Real presidents get the benefit of the doubt, tho. In Nixon, the marriage seemed solid, for example.

I can’t think of any works that portray fictional presidents as really corrupt, altho I think the president murdered his mistress in Absolute Power. I can’t remember if we see much of Nixon in All the President’s Men. It’s actually surprising, now that I think of it, that pretty much all fictional presidents are portrayed as thoughtful, well-meaning, tough-minded, and kind-hearted, even when they’re ordering mass destruction (Failsafe and Dr. Strangelove).
The president takes forceful action in Independence Day and Air Force One.

In the new movie, Vantage Point, I believe the president uses a double who gets murdered. Dave also featured a double, but for the-prince-and-the-pauper comic effect.

Presidents are probably most often the target of assassination. In the Line of Fire and The Sentinel come to mind, as well as JFK. I think both Parallax View and Manchurian Candidate are about candidates for president.

Diversity is pretty important to Hollywood. Female presidents feature in 1964’s Kisses for My President (gotta see that one) and the TV shows Commander in Chief and 24. Black presidents feature in The Fifth Element and the TV show 24.

Even so, the great majority of fictional presidents are white, middle-aged, male, and of European descent, just like every president so far in real life. I can’t think of any fictional presidents from the South, however, and we’ve had a number of those. Their names are almost uniformly bland too: Bartlett, Shepherd, Marshall, Palmer, Taylor, Allen, McKenna, Ballentine, Neil, Mitchell. One exception is Dr. Strangelove’s President Merkin Muffley, and–of course–The Simpsons Movie’s President Arnold Schwarzenegger.

List of fictional presidents from Wikipedia (as usual, way overdone, including presidents in short stories).

Super Bowl

Today is Super Bowl Sunday. With football gradually taking over from baseball as the national past time, how long will it be before the president of the United States starts flipping the Super Bowl coin rather than (or in addition to) throwing out the first baseball of the season?

Ford was a big football fan. Did he ever preside over the first football game of the season?

Presidents’ sleeping habits

I ran across a curiosity a couple of weeks ago and haven’t satisfied it yet. Today, I googled it again and came upon a blog post that actually phrases it in reference to presidents. I know that in “the old days” many people slept sitting up because they thought it was healthier, and it was so common that beds were built quite short. But when did it start and when did it end?

Specifically, which presidents would have slept sitting up and which would have slept flat?