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5 posts from July 2004

Oldies: Sunday, July 25 - Saturday, July 31, 2004...

Saturday, 31 July 2004: In the immortal words of my wife, "We got the Nomar! We got the Nomar!"

Yep, the Cubbies scored big in a blockbuster four-team deal by nabbing shortstop Nomar Garciaparra from the Boston Red Sox. We also picked up a minor league outfielder named Matt Murton who is supposed to be pretty damned good in terms of both fielding and batting. Apparently, Murton was actually the deal breaker here. Maybe the Cubbies have some ideas in mind for shuffling their outfield. Sosa going bye bye? One can hope.

Thursday, 29 July 2004: What is it with Chicago sports and injuries?

Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Sammy Sosa, heck, just about any 2004 Cub has seen their name on the DL. Now, Chicago Bear middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is on the IR after only one day of training camp with a hamstring problem. The true scope of the problem is yet to be announced, but it cannot be a good sign no matter how you read it.

I, as a Chicago sports fan, feel like crawling into a hole. Grrrr...

Wednesday, 28 July 2004: Bond fans can start mourning now. After months of speculation, it looks as if Pierce Brosnan will wield the Walther PPK and down the martinis — shaken, not stirred — no more.

Despite fans' pleas and Brosnan's own attempts to recruit Quentin Tarantino to direct the next flick, it seems as though the Bond camp will be seeking out a new star. Whether it was Brosnan's choice or the producers' choice is still a bit up in the air. Some say he wanted too much money and walked away when they wouldn't give it to him. Others say that the producers want a younger actor to take the reins.

Who really knows for sure?

Heck, for all we know, they might still come to some agreement and Brosnan may don the tuxedo yet again.

Tuesday, 27 July 2004: I hate cosmetic surgery. I truly do. The concept of it makes me ill and the few shows that I've seen on channels like TLC and Discovery make me feel like wretching. I have no problem watching other surgical shows, but the idea that people actually "want" something like this done to them just makes me physically sick. I can't take it. I want to stay as far away from doctors and hospitals as I possibly can. I only go in when I absolutely need to.

So, why am I so addicted Nip/Tuck? You would think that a show like this, despite being a fictionalized drama, would go against all my better judgement. Well, it doesn't. This show is fascinating me to no end this season (I missed out on season 1 because I thought it was a real cosmetic surgery show and not a drama). I've been watching them all and I'm even picking up the season 1 DVDs from Netflix. The realism of the surgery is beyond compare even by shows like ER. If you have FX and a free hour each Tuesday, check it out.


Oldies: Sunday, July 18 - Saturday, July 24, 2004...

Friday, 23 July 2004: Lately, my old high school friends and I have been exchanging a ton of e-mails on anything from the Cubs to the opening of a Portillo's restaurant in Los Angeles in the near future. I'm talking something like 20+ e-mails are sent back and forth among the six of us each day and it's getting a bit out of hand.

So one of the guys, Frank, decided to set up a message board. We ran a naming contest and I came up with the winner. Since the bulk of our e-mails relate to sports and we're from Chicago, the name is now WaitUntilNextYear.com (yes, we already registered the domain name). We'll have a public section for anyone else who wants to join us, but the six of us will have a private section just for us.

Oh, and I also designed the banner for the site. I'm quite proud of it.

Keep an eye out for it.

Thursday, 22 July 2004: I love The Simpsons. I dunno about you, but I do. And I gotta say that I'm looking forward to this next season's Super Bowl episode. Katie called me and told me she heard about this episode on the radio, so I looked it up and here's what I found in terms of synopsis (courtesy of epguides.com)...

"Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass"
Guest Stars: Warren Sapp (Himself), LeBron James (Himself), Yao Ming (Himself), Michelle Kwan (Herself)

After Homer inadvertently performs a wild crowd-pleasing dance at a local carnival, he will stumble across a new career as a "victory dance choreographer." After working for defensive tackle Warren Sapp, basketballers LeBron James and Yao Ming, and figure skater Michelle Kwan, he's called upstairs to choreograph the Super Bowl halftime show. In over his head, Homer turns to neighbor Ned for help. Together they create a clean and classy, non-violent, deeply meaningful halftime show, only to have America turn on them for such a "blatant display of decency."

This episode will air on February 6 and I'll be waiting with baited breath for it.

Wednesday, 21 July 2004: Here's some pretty big news if you're a fan of the TV show 24... only Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) is returning next season. Everyone else is gone insofar as being a regular cast member of the show. They may pop up every now and then, but not regularly. It's going to be interesting to see how they write off everyone. Especially his daughter. Apparently, Jack will no longer be working for CTU (Counter-Terrorism Unit) so that would explain the writing off of all his co-workers. The President has already told Jack he's not running for re-election, so the new season obviously post dates the election as the guy who played President Palmer's political nemesis last season is now the new President.

We shall see.

Tuesday, 20 July 2004: Today marks the big day for so many Van Halen fans the world over. The first time in God-only-remembers how long that VH has released an album with new material. Yes, it is just a two-disc greatest hits collection, but there are three new songs written and recorded since the band reunited with, who I feel to be their best vocalist, Sammy Hagar.

It was heaven to be able to buy a new VH CD. Lemme tell you that right off the bat. It felt so nice to see Van Halen in the new releases section at Best Buy. Here's the playlist for the set...

Disc 1:

  • Eruption
  • It's About Time (new track)
  • Up For Breakfast (new track)
  • Learning to See (new track)
  • Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
  • Finish What Ya Started
  • You Really Got Me
  • Dreams
  • Hot For Teacher
  • Poundcake
  • And the Cradle Will Rock...
  • Black and Blue
  • Jump
  • Top of the World
  • (Oh) Pretty Woman
  • Love Walks In
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Can't Stop Lovin' You
  • Unchained

Disc 2:

  • Panama
  • Best Of Both Worlds
  • Jamie's Cryin'
  • Runaround
  • I'll Wait
  • Why Can't This Be Love
  • Runnin' With the Devil
  • When It's Love
  • Dancing in the Street
  • Not Enough
  • Feels So Good
  • Right Now
  • Everybody Wants Some!!
  • Dance the Night Away
  • Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love (live)
  • Panama (live)
  • Jump (live)

First, the new tracks...

I've been sketchy about "It's About Time" since it first aired on the radio a little over a month ago. It's got some good guitar wailing as we would expect from Eddie Van Halen and it's got a nice intro beat. Kinda modern which shows a good evolutionary ability for the band. However, the rest of it feels like a patchwork quilt of songs that never quite materialized throughout their years on hiatus.

"Up For Breakfast" is interesting. It has it's highs and lows. The "helicopter" propeller sound in the beginning made me think I was listening to "Love Walks In" at first. All the musicians are strong in their skills. It's almost as though they never really left. However, the lyrics are weak. Yes, it is Van Halen attempting their good ol' double entendre lyricism. But it just doesn't work well anymore. Not at their age. Maybe back in the 80s when this sort of songwriting was rampant. I dunno.

Finally, "Learning to See" is probably my fave of the three. It has its heavy, confident moments interlaced into a relatively sweet ballad. I hope this is released as a single. It's far better than "It's About Time," but IAT is good as a first single simply because of the implication of the title. In other words, "It's about damn time Van Halen got off their asses and released some new stuff."

My biggest issue with this set is the ordering of the songs. To start the album with "Eruption" and not follow up with the radio-friendly 1-2 punch of "You Really Got Me" is practically sacrilege. Also, "Jump" is not preceded by "1984." What the hell!?!?! Those are two of the classic intro/follow up song combos in rock history. Along with Queen's "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions" and Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker" and "Livin' Lovin' Maid." I don't get why they would separate these tracks and not even include "1984" at all.

"Eruption" is followed, instead, by all three of the new tracks right in a row. It's like we're being lured in with the promise of greatness and then force-fed the new stuff. Left a bad taste in my mouth. The remainder of the set is a back-and-forth leaping from album to album and singer to singer with no sense of order or flow whatsoever.

Bear in mind, when I say "singer to singer," that only relates to Hagar and David Lee Roth. Gary Cherone, from the third incarnation of Van Halen in the late 90s, is noticeably absent from the set. I know Cherone's stuff wasn't the most memorable in VH's otherwise impressive catalog. But there were a couple of decent songs on Van Halen III. They could have included "Fire in the Hole," "Neworld," or "Without You." I would have loved to have "Fire in the Hole" in the set especially since it was used so prominently in Lethal Weapon 4.

Speaking of movies, where the hell is "Humans Being" from the Twister soundtrack? I love that song and it was a relatively strong radio track. I always felt that was one of the best, and heaviest, tracks from Van Halen in quite a long time. They included "Me Wise Magic" which was one of the Roth reunion songs and they couldn't include stuff from Gary Cherone or one or both songs from Twister? Bad decision. How easy would it have been to eliminate the three live tracks and put some of this stuff on there instead? Not hard at all. You could've also thrown in "Little Guitars" from Diver Down and I really would have been beaming.

One last thing and I'll shut my yap... with all the history Van Halen has over the course of two and a half decades, you think they could have included a more comprehensive booklet with photos showing their evolution and better text accompaniment actually written by the band instead of just a letter from David Wild of Rolling Stone. Talk about your tours, give some history on recording each of the albums, talk about your inspirations for the songs. Anything. Please. I'm sure you've got plenty of stories each of you could tell. Hell, I'd even be happy just to get information and photos from Sammy's two Cabo Wabo bars or, hell, gimme an order form for Michael Anthony's signature hot sauce. It would have been something.

All in all, I would have to rate this a 3-star effort on a 5-star scale. And garnering another star just for song selection would have been so easy. Well, you can't win 'em all, eh?

Wow, was that long enough for ya?

Soapbox dismounted.

Monday, 19 July 2004: Got both an e-mail and voicemail from my friend Jason telling me that his wife, Kara, on her return trip to California from Chicago, was sitting right next to Tim Fluckey, one of the guitarists from the band Adema, and right behind Dave DeRoo, their bassist.

Apparently, Tim took it upon himself to be the calmer since Kara doesn't like flying and neither did the other person in their row. Kara said he was a really cool guy to talk to and nice as could be. That's cool. But, if you were to take a look at his picture, you might not expect it. Even I, at 6'0", 240 pounds, would likely think twice before messing with either of them.

Check them out at www.ademaonline.com.

Sunday, 18 July 2004: I don't think that, combined, Katie and I have watched this much MTV since we've been together.

Tonight was a slow night on TV, so we flipped to MTV (yeah, I know, I couldn't believe we were that desperate either) and watched two back-to-back episodes of Punk'd, an episode of The Assistant (much to my Andy Dick-hating chagrin), an episode of Best Week Ever, and two episodes of A2Z featuring Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson.

Okay, shoot us now.


Oldies: Sunday, July 11 - Saturday, July 17, 2004...

Saturday, 17 July 2004: Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months in prison with two years home confinement and two years of probation. Damn, she got off easy. And I think it's complete BS. And, of course, she's appealing it.

C'mon! Five months is nothing especially since you'll probably only wind up serving two months of the sentence. Suzy Homemaker herself will likely get off on good behavior or for her baking skills.

And two years of house arrest is nothing since you own a huge mansion and can just set up a temporary studio in there from which to tape your show. House arrest in a Hollywood mansion... yep, that's a tough life.

Accept the fact that you committed a crime, accept your punishment, and move on with life.

Friday, 16 July 2004: I popped open my web browser this morning and uncovered some rather startling information... both George Eads and Jorja Fox had been fired from their roles in the hit series CSI. Eads played Nick Stokes while Fox played Sara Sidle and both were fired for not showing up to work amid their demands for higher pay.

Each of them earn $100,000 per episode and, to be honest, they're supporting characters. So, how, exactly, is $2.4 million per year a bad thing? What am I missing here?

In my humble opinion, that is a good amount of money and I'm glad that CBS staffers played their trump card. TV pay is getting out of hand (not that film earnings are much better). Someone had to just say no.

Also, I've been really annoyed by Sidle the last two seasons as all she seems to want to do is compete against Stokes for a leg up within the team. Stokes was annoying me two seasons ago from time to time, but he seems to have calmed down a bit this season.

The funniest comment regarding the firings came from CSI: NY cast member Carmine Giovinazzo who said, "I'd be shining [CBS CEO Les] Moonves' shoes and caddying for him every weekend if I was making that much money."

I give him snaps for that soundbyte.

Thursday, 15 July 2004: Trade rumors in professional sports are always fun to watch. I like to listen to the latest rumors on the radio and TV news and then my friends and I discuss them on e-mail.

Well, the rumor mill is a buzzin' these days.

One rumor affecting Chicago sports was the news that the Bulls had been pursuing Kobe Bryant. Everyone knows he wants out of L.A. much like Shaq did (and Shaq got his wish this week being shipped off to the Miami Heat). However, as soon as this rumor blossomed, it was killed off. Kobe was actually supposed to fly out to Chicago yesterday to meet with Bulls' brass, but he changed his mind at the last second (probably one of the smartest things he's done this side of sleeping with female hotel employees in Colorado). And I think I heard the DJ say that Kobe was signing with the L.A. Clippers. I may have misheard it though. Who knows?

The second rumor I heard, and this one I like, involves a three-way trade among the Cubs, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Boston Red Sox. The D-Backs would send starting pitcher Randy Johnson to the Bosox, who would send shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs, who would send several prospects to Arizona. I can handle that. Nomar is a good batter and fielder and would give the Cubbies one heckuva boost in the second half of the season. Hope that one pans out.

Wednesday, 14 July 2004: Why do the Republicans insist on making it so... damn... easy... for me? I thought that Freedom Fries would be the Gimme Gag of the Century. Apparently, I was wrong.

At a cookout recently, Republicans came up with the idea that by using Heinz Ketchup, they are supporting the Democratic presidential candidate, John Kerry, as his wife is Teresa Heinz Kerry and she is one of the namesake Heinz's of 57 fame. So, the Republicans developed and are now marketing W Ketchup. It is effectively just a Heinz bottle with a new label emblazoned with a giant "W" and the likeness of George Washington.

This is just pathetic. Don't politicians have bigger things to worry about than ketchup? C'mon. Teresa Heinz Kerry doesn't even have a controlling stake in the company. She only has stock that amounts to 4%. She has no control whatsoever. Eating Heinz does not make you Democrat by some magic chemical reaction. People will not think you are showing a lack of moral support for the Republicans by eating it. My God people. Get a life.

Besides, George Washington is known for cherries, not tomatoes.

Morons.

Should you be so inclined to want to learn more about or, God forbid, actually buy this piece of propagandistic tripe, visit the website at www.wketchup.com. I'm not even gonna make it easy for you by making that a link. You can copy/paste or retype it yourself. I want nothing to do with it. I can't believe I actually put the address in there.

Tuesday, 13 July 2004: I really don't know what to make of this. Many of you may or may not be familiar with the Jack Ryan saga here in Illinois (no, I'm not referring to the star protagonist of The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, et al). Jack Ryan was a Republican candidate for Senate from Illinois. He was running against Democrat Barak Obama (sp?). Ryan was, at one point in time, married to Hollywood starlet Jeri Ryan of Boston Public fame. However, they divorced several years ago. Recently, a judge, against the wishes of both Ryans, made their divorce record public. It revealed that Jack pushed Jeri to have sex with him in public places like sex bars and whatnot and that Jack's reason for divorcing her is because she cheated on him. Embarrasing to both, no doubt.

In response to pressure from the Illinois Republican Party, Ryan dropped out of the race.

Now, the Republicans are in dire need of someone to fill the ballot in Ryan's place. And several key Republicans in Illinois are trying to convince former Chicago Bears' coach Mike Ditka to run. He is interested and it would certainly make for an interesting campaign. But, I just don't know about Da Coach in Da Senate.

Well, one thing's for certain, the Superfans will have a field day. Time to break out the Bears gear, George Wendt.

Monday, 12 July 2004: I hate falling behind in updates and reviews. That's when I have so many to do that it just becomes a bit cumbersome. This particular set of updates is even worse because I need to create two entirely new pages and tweak the navigation structures for both the Movie Critique and Fun With Dead Trees. Yep, got another Most Reviewed Author page (Christopher Moore) as well as a new section I'm starting in the Movie Critique section for reviews of TV shows on DVD. Katie and I own several season sets of TV shows on DVD (Sex and the City, Simpsons, Quantum Leap, Friends, Dawson's Creek, Felicity, and Mad About You) and I'm renting some from Netflix (just finished Band of Brothers and am about to start Nip/Tuck, season 1, as well as Fawlty Towers, Sports Night, The Office, and Coupling - the Brit version). Gotta put reviews somewhere. Hope you all enjoy them.


Oldies: Sunday, July 4 - Saturday, July 10, 2004...

Friday, 9 July 2004: Nice little gift we got today. There is currently a lot of construction going on around campus here where I work and, as a result, they had to shut off the water to several of the university buildings. The affected offices decided they may as well shut down at noon today. The shut off doesn't affect my building, but since all the people we work with and for were affected, we get to go home today at noon as well. I like it. Half day vacation that doesn't get docked from my vacation allowance. Always a good thing.

Thursday, 8 July 2004: One of my guilty pleasures is a well-done spoof film. Not this Scary Movie crap. I mean good quality laffers like Undercover Brother and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Both of those movies never cease to leave me in stitches.

Well, now there is another one coming out to video sometime soon that looks to be along the same lines as UB. It is called The Hebrew Hammer and it stars Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan and Chandler's psycho roommate in Friends) as Mordechai Jefferson Carver, an "Orthodox stud" who is on a mission to save Hannukah from Santa Claus' evil son Damien (Andy Dick - TVs Less Than Perfect). He also enlists the aid of Esther Bloomenbergansteinthal (Judy Greer - 13 Going On 30), who is the daughter of one of the world's top Jewish leaders, and Mohammed Ali Paula Abdul Rahiem (Mario Van Peebles - New Jack City), the leader of the Kwanzaa Liberation Front, in his efforts.

I'm sorry, but just the concept of this movie alone sounds hilarious despite Andy Dick being in it. Mario's father Melvin Van Peebles (Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song) is also in the film.

Hell, just the website is great. You can download the theme song which is a Kosher spin on the Shaft theme and is even sung by Isaac Hayes. Plus, you can play Gentile Invaders, an online version of the classic Atari game Space Invaders in which you are a menorah firing at enemy ships that fire crosses and Nazi swastikas at you. Instead of scoring normal points, you are rewarded with matzo balls. Check out the site at www.thehebrewhammer.com.

Wednesday, 7 July 2004: Okay, so we're now 0-2. At least, insofar as Cubs games that Katie and I have attended. We didn't go to any games last season, but we went to one the year before that, I believe, the Cubs lost as well.

I don't feel entirely bad, though, because apparently Katie's brother has attended nothing but losses by the Cubs over the course of the last several years. Some people might tack the word "jinx" to this phenomenon. I am one such person. Scott, you jinx.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004: I still find it odd that in order to see the Cubs play live this year, Katie and I must travel out of town. Tonight is the second of two games we have tickets for. Yep, Katie and I are leaving work a little early so we can head up to Milwaukee with her brothers and our friend Tim (the one from Washington, D.C.) to see the Cubbies take on the Brewers at Miller Park.

Go Cubs and go Prior!

Monday, 5 July 2004: Payback's a bitch, ain't it? One of the members of my gym, who knows I am a Cubs fan (he's a White Sox fan), came up to me last week and asked me, "what happened to your Cubs?" For those not in the know, this was in reference to the fact that in the first of two crosstown showdowns between the Cubs and Sox, the Cubbies only won one game. Well, in the second and final showdown, the Cubs swept the Sox.

Applesauce.

Sunday, 4 July 2004: Happy Independence Day to all of my fellow U.S.ians (the reason I don't use "Americans" is a long one and I don't feel like getting into it here and now).

This is easily Katie's and my favorite holiday to spend together. We love sitting out and watching the fireworks explode in the sky above us. No matter how old I am, I act like a little kid when I see those giant blooms of light overhead. I love it.

And, this year, I got pictures of it. I used the new digicam to nab several snapshots of the display at Naperville's Ribfest. Pretty good shots that I'll post soon. Even took a short video which I'm debating posting because of the file size. I may try to edit it down and see what I can do from there.


Oldies: Sunday, June 27 - Saturday, July 3, 2004...

Friday, 2 July 2004: I like winning things. Today, for instance, I won a contest from WONC FM 89.1 in Naperville ("The Voice of North Central College"). They had a random item in their studio and, each day, they gave a clue as to its identity. On the fifth day, you could call in and guess at what it was. I knew the answer after the second clue. The rest of the week, I just spent my time trying to anticipate what the clue would be. If I had been allowed to call in the answer early, I would have. Oh well. Here are the clues and then you can e-mail me what you think the item was...

  • It's a girl's best friend
  • It's a type of garden shovel
  • Nirvana sang about a box shaped like this
  • It's another name for an organization
  • Together, these four things make up a "bicycle"

Have any idea? It's actually pretty easy.

Oh yeah, and I won a gift certificate to Big Bowl restaurant. To be honest, I've never been to a Big Bowl nor do I know what they serve. Guess I could try bigbowl.com, but I'm feeling a bit lazy at the moment.

Thursday, 1 July 2004: I feel like I'm living in the Twilight Zone here. And I just don't get it. So far this summer, Katie and I have gone to see three films that fit the dictionary definition of "sequel" — that being "the next installment (as of a speech or narrative)." We have seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Shrek 2, and, last night, we saw Spider-Man 2. As weird as it sounds to actually admit this, especially in light of how terrible movie sequels tend to be, they have all been better than their predecessors. What's going on here? Did Hollywood suddenly develop a sense of creativity? Is a comet hurtling towards our planet? Am I in danger of winning the lottery? 

Wednesday, 30 June 2004: I've been reading some pretty interesting news bits about upcoming TV shows recently. Some good, some bad... as would be expected.

First, Eddie Cahill (Tag on Friends and he also starred in Miracle) is joining the cast of CSI: New York. Of course, he is being cast as a "tough, young, sexy homicide detective." How else would they cast him? Need to guarantee the young femme viewership, right?

Second, I saw a commercial this morning during the NBC news for Hawaii. This show is the reason why Sharif Atkins left ER (explained on the show as him being called up to go to Iraq). However, the cast also includes Michael Biehn (my God from Aliens, The Terminator, The Abyss, and Tombstone), Ivan Sergei (Jack & Jill and Crossing Jordan), and Eric Balfour (24 and The O.C.). Not a bad cast. It's a cop show that takes place in Hawaii (duh). I think what made me like the preview was a chase scene with Atkins yelling "Where's he think he's going? Doesn't he know he's on an island?" Made me laugh.

Lastly, and I'm not sure what to make of this one, agents are in Chicago today to cast for A Nightmare on Elm Street: The Reality Series. This show focuses on people's worst recurring nightmares. Okay. So where exactly do creators want to take this idea? "My dream's worse than your dream, so you're outta here!"

Tuesday, 29 June 2004: Guess what it is time for? Another Darwinism Missed Me Award!!!! Yay!!!!!

On my way home from work today, I saw a man waiting to cross what is a relatively busy road (Randall Road in the western Chicago suburbs, if any of you are familiar with it) on his ATV. No big deal, really. However, he did not have a helmet on and his infant daughter was sitting astride the gas tank of the ATV in her cute little pink jumper without a helmet, but with her pacifier.

In the immortal words of Bill Engvall... here's your sign!

Monday, 28 June 2004: It was an eventful weekend for Iraq, wasn't it? First, the U.S. decides to handover power of the country to the Iraqis two days earlier in order to quell the likely uprising by Saddam supporters. Oh, I think you can pretty much guarantee that there would have been some kind of attack if there was a big public ceremony on the 30th.

Also, it was announced that legal custody of Saddam would be given to the Iraqis so they could put him on trial for war crimes. Of course, the U.S. retains physical custody of him.

My question is, if the Iraqi courts sentence him in a manner that the U.S. does not agree with, will the U.S. continue to retain custody until both sides agree on the verdict and sentencing?