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31 posts from June 2005

Talk about a positive working atmosphere.

Have you ever had one of those days where you are truly looking forward to going in to work?  There is something on the docket for the day that you just do not want to miss no matter what?  This would be one of those days that, even if you were on your deathbed, you would still want to make sure you're there on time.

I had one of those days today.

We spent the day on our George Williams Campus in Lake Geneva. 

MiscgwcampusI work at a small, private university that is land locked in the middle of a really nice looking subdivision that has a lot of history.  But not much of a view.  I look out the window in my office/bedroom, and all I see are a couple of trees and the house next door (which also serves as offices for our Advancement crew).  So it truly is not a whole heckuva lot to behold.

However, we also have a sister campus up in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, on the shores of Lake Geneva.  The campus is nice and hilly, surrounded by woods, spectacular landscaping, and you have "the view."  I don't think there is a bad view from anywhere on campus.  Especially when you can just look and see the lake.

If you have ever visited Lake Geneva (or "Geneva Lake" as the locals call it), it is gorgeous.  Not like so many other mucky lakes in the U.S.  This one is revered and it is well kept up as a result.  The water sparkles like so many crystals.  Even if it's overcast, there is still a light emanating from the lake that never fails to life your spirits.

I want this view permanently.  I just can't get enough of it.

It had been about two years since I've been on this campus and I was suffering withdrawal.  Finally, a few weeks ago, our boss told us that our staff development session would be held up here.  I knew, no matter what it was we would be doing, I would love it because of where we would be.  It's amazing how your surroundings can affect, either positively or negatively, your work disposition.  This place definitely affects me positively.

I want my office up here.  I want it now.  In the words of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, "make it so."


Too damn many books.

I was recently tagged by Carol with a book meme.  It's taken me a couple of days, but I'm finally getting to it.  So here goes...

THE BOOK MEME

The Number Of Books I Own

Only about 150 actually.  I'm a big proponent of recirculating books so I'm constantly trying to find used book stores to sell my old books to.  Of course, they close down more readily than frozen yogurt stands these days, so my resale outlet opportunities are quickly dwindling.

Last Books I Bought
I picked up five or six books from a used book sale at our library this past weekend.  I don't remember what all of them were, but I do remember it included Elmore Leonard's Out of Sight and Leonard Mosley's Hirohito, Emperor of Japan.  Katie just went out and picked up hardcover copies of the three Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books.  She finished reading all three in only about a week's time.  And I'm sure we will be heading to Border's pretty soon to place our pre-order for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Last Book I Read

I just finished reading Leander Kahney's Cult of Mac and I wasn't entirely impressed.  It could've been so much more.  C'est la vie.  Maybe I should write my own.  I'm now reading Chuck Palahniuk's Haunted.

Five Books That Mean A Lot
This is not an easy question to field, but I'll see if I can get it...

  • Ethan Coen's Gates of Eden - I love short stories and this is a spectacular collection of them.  Plus it holds sentimental value for me in that it was the book I was reading when Katie and I started dating.  She slipped a note to me in the book that I found when I was on a staff retreat while working at NIU.
  • Stephen King's Different Seasons - Again, one of the finest collections of short stories (actually, novellas) around especially since we all know King can't finish a novel to save his life anymore.  Also sentimental in that Katie tracked down a hardcover first edition of this book for me as a grad school graduation gift.  Sadly, I still haven't finished it.  I need to sit down and read The Breathing Method.  I've read the other three a few times each.
  • Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy hardcover compendium (I'd link it but Amazon doesn't list it) - It's a really nice black hardcover collection of all the Hitchhiker stories in one book.  The cover is gold embossed and it just looks beautiful on my bookshelf.  Even with the title typo on the spine of the book.  They spelled "Zaphod" with an i so now it's "Zaphoid."  Go fig.
  • Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal - this one was recommended to me a couple years ago by my friend, Juliette.  I finally remembered to pick up a copy in April 2004 while on a business trip in Washington, D.C.  Never before have I found a book that managed to tackle modern religion with such wit, brutal honesty, and reverence all in one fell swoop.  I have recommended this book to more people than all other books I've recommended combined. 
  • Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Also known as Blade Runner.  This is the first, and so far only, PKD story I've read and I loved it.  A very surreal tale of a man who hunts android replicants in the future.  What makes it special is that this is a copy of the book printed in the 80s with the Blade Runner movie cover on it and it belonged to my friend Stephen who, despite owning this book for the better part of his life, thought enough of me as a friend to give it to me.  It's in good hands, Gundark.

One Book That I Would Like To Burn
Sorry, but I've got two...

These two books, and their various permutations, have transformed far too many people in the entertainment industry into self-righteous assholes.

SJ at Chronic Listaholic added some questions to her version of this meme.  I really don't want to add more questions to what is already a long meme, so check her answers out (scroll down to 6/9/05).

People I'd Like To See Waste Some Time On This Meme Nonsense

I don't have anybody to pass this to in the Blogging universe.  All my friends have already been tagged with this one.  I'm one of the last to get it.

Wait, after looking a little more carefully, I can hit Kazza with it.  Tag, you're it.


The Original Sin.

I remember being in the middle of getting ready to leave a hotel down in Slidell, Louisiana, back in November 1997 when the news came through on both the TV and the radio that INXS frontman Michael Hutchence had been found hanged in a hotel in Sydney, Australia.

The four of us who had made the trek to this small suburb of New Orleans from Chicago were all rock fans.  Not only were we in "Loozeana" to hit the normal trappings like Rue Bourbon and the French Quarter, but we were also in town for the U2 show at the Superdome.  When we heard the news, it hit all of us like a ton of bricks.  To some degree, we were all fans of INXS.  Myself especially.

I'm not a career-long fan like so many others before me.  I will admit to having only become a fan as a result of 80s radio rotations in which their album Kick featured so prominently.  But I remained a fan long after so many other U.S. fans forgot about them.  I saw them on their Full Moon, Dirty Hearts tour in 1993 at the Aragon Ballroom (or "Brawlroom" as it's lovingly referred to in Chi-town) with my friend Michael who was an even bigger INXS than myself.  Heck, he made the trip out from Ames, Iowa, just to see them play. I slapped five with Hutchence three times while down in front of the stage (and I'll never wash my hand again... just kidding).

I own all their albums (either in CD or MP3 format), including those that predate Kick.  I still listen to them fairly regularly as I feel that INXS is a band whose music remains current.

But I will never be able to see them play live again.  Or will I?

MiscrockstarinxsA week from this coming Monday (that's July 11 for those of you scrambling for your calendars), CBS will premiere their latest in a seemingly neverending line of reality shows... Rock Star: INXS.

What's it all about?  Here you go, as per CBS.com...

Celebrated rock guitarist Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke are the hosts of ROCK STAR: INXS, a new reality show executive produced by SURVIVOR's Mark Burnett. The show combines the world of rock music with relationship-style unscripted drama, performance competition and a weekly contestant elimination. The last singer standing will become the lead singer of the internationally renowned band INXS, will embark on a worldwide concert tour with the band and will be part of the group's new album.

Yes, I realize that my comment "Or will I?" may sound like I'm holding out hope for this show.  That could not be further from the truth.  This is just a train wreck waiting to happen.

This is not the first I've heard of this disaster.  I think it was roughly a year ago that I first heard this show was in the network's coffer.  I was ready to gag then and I'm ready to gag now. 

My problems with the show...

  1. Michael Hutchence is INXS.  He was their heart, soul, and, for many women as well as some men, their body.  He epitomized the concept of modern stage presence.  His energy is what made the band what it is.  Yes, the other five guys in the band are spectacular musicians and I don't mean to take anything from them, but Hutch defined the band.  Don't sully his memory.  Please.
  2. I know many bands have replaced lead singers in the past with varying degrees of success.  But if you hope to be able to return to some semblance of your past self, don't you think you will need someone of a little higher caliber than unknown artists that, in some cases, are just barely half the age of the other band members?
  3. "Celebrated rock guitarist Dave Navarro"?  Are you kidding me?  Yeah, he was good with Jane's Addiction.  But the one album he did with the Red Hot Chili Peppers (One Hot Minute) was hardly palatable.  Aside from marrying Carmen Electra, what the hell else has he done to deserve the title "Celebrated"? 
  4. And why is Brooke Burke getting snubbed in the adjective category?  No descriptor for her?  Not even "Sex bomb host of Wild On!"  If I were her, I'd be pissed.  Then again, if I were her, I'd be running for the hills knowing that this was my next gig.

Bear in mind that these are just the humble opinions of one U.S. fan of the band.  I would like to ask INXS fans from their home country of Australia what they think (Kazza and others?).  If you are a fan, how do you feel about this whole sordid affair?  If you have no particular opinion, have you heard rumblings from other people?  Grunts of disdain or support?

Just curious.


See if I ever take a bullet for you again.

I just don't get it.  After lobbying for quite some time, Hollywood stunt men and women were once again denied the right to be able to be nominated for and win Academy Awards.

Let's see if I understand this... costume designers, special effects coordinators, sound mixers, and even animators (among many, many others) can win Oscars, am I right?  All those things are fine and dandy.  They are necessary elements when it comes to filmmaking and I don't want it to sound like I think anything should be taken away from them.  But without stunt people, 90% of Hollywood films would be lacking a big chunk of realism.  I use the word "realism" very loosely, by the way.

Actors put their reputations on the line for some roles (not all, mind you).  Stunt people put their lives on the line.  Who is making the greater sacrifice?  I truly think that they should be eligible to win awards.  What makes them less special than the "real" stars of the movies?  To be honest with you, some stunt people are better actors than the real deal.  Hell, there are some movies we see just for the stunts, not because someone like Vin Diesel is in it (God help me when the day comes that I go see a movie simply because Vin Diesel is in it).

If Gwyneth Paltrow can win an Oscar...


I'm melting!!

I've done nothing other than roast this past week.  Temperatures have been sky high and my spirits have liquified into little puddles of superheated despair.  The average has been in the high 80s and low 90s, but it seems as though every time I walk around outside, I manage to time it so that I am exposed when it hits its absolute high point. 

This makes trying to attend Midsommar Festival - Swedish Days an exercise in futility.  How can you possibly enjoy anything outdoors when you spend the whole time mopping your body? 

Swedish Days is a festival put on annually by the town of Geneva, Ill., and we've been wanting to check it out for some time.  However, it always winds up being scheduled for the same time that we are on some vacation.  Dunno what happened that kept us from going in 2002 (the first summer we lived here), but in 2003, we were on a Caribbean cruise and, in 2004, we were in Venice Beach/Los Angeles visiting our friends.  This year, we decided to make it a point to go. 

The festival has been going on since Tuesday of this past week, but our weekday schedules don't allow us much time to do anything.  On Friday, Katie and I went just to give it a quick once over and grab a meal before going to work at the gym.  Not much to see at the time.  What we did see reminded us a lot of the Festival of the Vine that is hosted by Geneva each September. 

We went back on Saturday to see more of it and our similarity theory was proven true.  Same retailers selling what seems like the same old, same old.  There is, of course, a carnival with all the sad excuses for rides for the kids.  However, unlike the Festival of the Vine, there are no town-sponsored wine tastings.  We could have still gone to Galena Cellars for our own tasting, but it always seems so much more fun to be able to do it while having city officials turn a blind eye on sobriety in favor of the almighty dollar. The temperature was pretty high on Saturday, but it was relatively tolerable.

Today was another question entirely.  Katie's parents came down for the festival and it was just miserably hot.  the external thermometer in her parents' minivan read 96 degrees while we were downtown.  By the time they left, it read in excess of 100 degrees.  Ack!

Katie wanted her mom to be able to see the arts and crafts exhibitors, so they went.  Her dad and I beelined it for Old Towne Pub and Eatery.  There is very little that can compare to an ice-cold beer on a flippin' hot day.  And that's exactly what we did.  As soon as we sat down, the first words to come out of our mouths were "two Blue Moons."  There was no way I was going back out in that heat.  Even if there was a parade going on.  If I'm watching it at all, it will be from one of the bay window seats sipping a beer and eating nachos while letting the air conditioning refrigerate away all my Fahrenheit concerns.  I opted, instead, to do everything I just listed sans the parade while focusing on a TV playing the Blue Jays/Nationals game.

And I'd also like to say that there is no quicker buzz achieved than when you've sweated away a ton of water weight and then you drink a beer without first putting some food in your system.  I was buzzed on a single beer.  That's sad and pathetic on so many levels.  In no way, shape, or form am I a lightweight.  Those of you who know me personally can attest to this. 

Since that time, we've remained indoors.  Air conditioning is a blessing. 

Until our utility bill comes in, that is. 


Holy lack of onomatopoeia, Batman!

Miscbatmanlogo_1I can describe Batman Begins in two words...

Geek porn.

And for those of you who don't consider yourselves geeks, you'll love it, too.  Just ask my wife who went with me yesterday as we finally got around to seeing a movie I have been drooling over for two years now.

Was it worth the hype and buildup of anticipation?  You're damn skippy it was!

It was dark, it was twisted, it was evil, it was everything that Batman is supposed to be.  Finally.

Christian Bale owns this movie.  He IS Batman with no uncertainty whatsoever.  He was born to play this role.  I was stoked when I found out some time ago that he was cast as the Bat.  After seeing how dark a character he could play in movies such as American Psycho and Shaft, I knew he would be good.  Yet, he has this charm and debonair quality to him that you just can't help but love.  No wonder he can do films like those and still be liked by the movie-viewing public.  I think as far as many people are concerned, he is always going to be that wide-eyed kid from Empire of the Sun, although he is doing his damnedest to shed that image.

But what surprised me entirely was that there was nary a character in the movie that wasn't good.  Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Tom Wilkinson... you name it.  In past Bat flicks, the supporting characters really got the script shaft.  They were just in it so the producers could say that they included such and such important character from the original storylines.

The villains were decent in the original films, but they got worse as the franchise continued.  In Batman, Jack Nicholson was spectacular as the Joker.  In Batman Returns, both Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer were enjoyable as the Penguin and Catwoman, respectively (duh). However, the Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) were merely tolerable in Joel Schumacher's first outing in Batman Forever.  By Batman & Robin, forget about it.  Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) were terrible.  Heck that whole movie was so bad I could never finish it. 

This film, however, brings the franchise back to life and brings it as close to Frank Miller's Dark Knight comics as has ever been achieved on celluloid.  You are left wanting more and they dangle the bait right in front of you at the end of the film like a rabbit on a greyhound track.  And I know so many of us that will be continually racing around that track until that sequel finally comes out.

Thankfully, they've already locked up Bale, Freeman, and Caine for a second, and, as has been rumored, a third movie, too. 

Will I be there for the opening weekend of the next Batman movie (instead of the second weekend)?  If they cast who rumors say they want to cast for the next baddie (read only if you can handle spoilers; personally I want to see either PB or MH), I sure as hell will be. 

What am I saying?  I'll be there opening weekend regardless of who they cast. 

This is what summer movie going is all about.


Betcha didn't know I was such a good Eugooglimagizer

This is another interesting blog that wasn't sent to me, but after reading it on a couple other sites, I wanted to do it anyway.

It's called Googlimage and the point of it is that you are supposed to answer ten questions and type those answers into the Google image search engine.  Then you compile the resultant images together for all to see.  I used Photoshop to come up with my nice little image bar.

Here are the questions...

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. Where do you live now?
  3. What is your name?
  4. What is your grandmother's name?
  5. What is your favorite food?
  6. What is your favorite drink?
  7. What is your favorite song?
  8. What is your favorite smell?
  9. What is your favorite shoes?
  10. What is your favorite number?

Here are the images I came up with...

Miscgoogleimages_1

And now the reasons behind these photos (as best I can figure them out)...

  1. That is the city hall in Rochester, N.Y., where I was born.
  2. Ironically enough, not only is this a building in Geneva, Ill., where I now live, but it is the library that I frequent.
  3. Two Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon minimates figurines that I reviewed for a friend's toy review website are what came up when I Googled my first and last name.  Go fig (no pun intended).
  4. Apparently, my grandmother (Katherine Kurtz) is the author of several fantasy/sci-fi novels.  I had no idea... You holdin' out on me, Nano?
  5. Mac and cheese, baby!
  6. I searched for a "black and tan" as my favorite drink and I got a black and tan Jack Russell Terrier.  Cute little bugger, though, ain't he?
  7. "Gypsy Road" (by Cinderella) was one of the only songs I could think of at the moment and this is a shot of what is known as Gypsy Road at Wind Cave National Park.
  8. I can't explain why, but I am always relaxed by the smell of my wife's powder fresh deodorant, so I looked up "powder fresh" and actually got an image of my wife's brand of deodorant, no less.
  9. My Skechers Critics in black nubuck.  I love these shoes.
  10. The number five a la The Ten Things You Didn't Know About the World Bank.  Ummm... okay.

This is a really fun exercise.  No, you don't have to go and compile the images the way that I did.  But answer the questions and search for them.  It's pretty interesting.


I've been meme'd - what hell hath I wrought?

Recently, Dave (of Blogography fame) was hit by another blogger named Neil with a meme.  Many fellow bloggers know what a meme is, but I know I have a few readers who are not bloggers and would likely appreciate an explanation before they run away banging their heads against all solid objects on the way.  Here you go, courtesy of Wikipedia...

In casual use, the term meme often refers to any piece of information passed from one mind to another.

If you'd like to read more, check out the full entry.

In lay terms, it's like one of those e-mails you dread to receive from a friend asking you to answer all these personal questions and then send on to ten (or however many) people as well as sending it back to the person that initially sent it to you. 

For bloggers, it takes on a whole new meaning because we post the results on our sites for hundreds to read (in Dave's case) or 5 to read (in my case).

Dave did this meme about ways to deal with anxiety on his site and hit up the requisite five people afterwards.  I mentioned that the next time he does one of these, he can tag me.  When that comment went out, SJ of Chronic Listaholic took me up on the offer to Dave and tagged me with my first meme.

Here it is...

List five things you enjoy, even when no one around you wants to go out and play. What lowers your stress/blood pressure/anxiety level? Make a list, post it to your journal, and then tag five friends and ask them to post it to theirs.

  1. Watch comedies that I know far too well on DVD and can recite line by line - usually Office Space, Fletch, Johnny Dangerously, and Ghostbusters will do the trick.
  2. Write in my blog.
  3. Mentally plot the death of the person or object that has caused the stress/blood pressure/anxiety level increase in the first place.  This is typically plotted out in such extreme detail that, by the time I'm done, I've forgotten what the target of my rage is and I wind up feeling better.  Ignorance truly is bliss.
  4. Log on to the Web and read about the exploits of really stupid people.  Hollywood news, Darwin Awards, or other completely ridiculous headlines (may require registration - but it's free) typically help in this capacity.
  5. Create a new playlist on my iPod and take it to the gym for a workout.  I find that following up a workout with some time in the sauna can relieve almost any stress.  Try it.

I know it says five, but I do have one more...

  1. Playing disc golf.  Even though it is more fun with friends, I have played alone.  That's when you can replay shots and get away with it.  Always a bonus.

The catch is that I now need to find five other bloggers that I can send this on to.  I've got plenty of Web-enabled friends, but only a few that have blogs.  Dave's already done this one.  So has SJ.  However, SJ recommended that I tag Mark, so I shall.  I'm going to tag Carol as well and see if she'll play.

That's all I've got in terms of people to send to at the moment.  Hopefully as more people discover this site, I'll find more victims... er... "friends" with whom I can converse on such meme-ical topics.

If you'd like to respond to this meme and don't have a blog, feel free to do so via the comments link below.


Injecting some personality

This is a post aimed to those people who have an office at work.  Be it a real office with four walls and a door; a cubicle with those faux walls and an entryway; a mobile office with four wheels, two to four doors, and an engine; or an at-home office.

What steps do you take to make your office reflect who you are?  What kinds of little tchotchkes do you have on display?  Posters or photographs?  Plants?  Feng shui fountains?  Let me know.  I'm curious.

I'm asking because we are talking about having an office cleaning day next month and I was looking around my office to see what stuff I could take home and what stuff I'd rather not do without.

My tally:

  • MiscrubikscubeThree framed pictures of either Katie and I together or her by herself.
  • Several action figures including Yoda; Kermit the Frog; Superman; Stitch from Lilo & Stitch; Ralph Wiggum, Wendell the sick kid, and the Bumblebee Man all from The Simpsons; and Bossk from The Empire Strikes Back (one of my online nics).
  • Other toys including a couple small Lego cars, some Geomags, a couple of Yo-Yos, and a Rubik's Cube.
  • Several books relating to my job as well as all my MBA notes and projects (since I go to school where I work).
  • Several posters including a giant subway-sized Al Pacino as Scarface, The Beatles' Abbey Road, a Finding Nemo mini poster, a Dodgeball mini poster, and a replica tour poster for the band Queen from back in 1974.
  • A stolen campaign sign from a mayoral election in rural Florida for a guy with the same last name as me (my brother and I couldn't help ourselves).
  • A Beanie Baby of Aurora the polar bear.  Appropriate since I dig on polar bears and I work at Aurora University.  Works nicely, don't you think?
  • Three plants.
  • Feng Shui fountain.
  • Simpsons day-to-day calendar.
  • Couple of candles.
  • Other junk that has collected over the years.

In terms of odd things (not intended as decor), I have a toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, a flosser, a pair of tennis shoes, and a stick of deodorant (I use the gym here during my lunch breaks).

May sound like a lot, but it really isn't.

MiscmobileSo how do you decorate your workplace?  What makes it unique?  Be honest.

I think the oddest thing I have is also what gets the second-most comments from people visiting my office, and that is a mobile (as in MOH-beel) I made a few years ago. You know, the kind that you hang from the ceiling and let dangle in midair.  Several baby cribs have them. 

It's something I created from odds and ends that I found here at work.  I constructed the frame with two double ended wire hooks I found in our kitchen drawer (I work in a house purchased by the university that is across the street from campus; hence why we have a kitchen) and tied in a cross formation using string found in our basement. 

Hanging from the mobile are two old typewriter letter wheels on opposite ends and two mini data CDs on the other ends.  I found the letter wheels in one of our supply drawers and I obtained the mini CDs from trade shows. 

People love it because it is such a juxtaposition of technology.  The old and the new, per se.  Ancient typewriter parts interacting with more modern media technology. 

At first, I was just searching for items that were similar in size and weight to hang opposite each other.  Then I looked at it when all was said and done and realized that it actually speaks of so much more than just boredom.  So, of course, I make it sound like the result was completely intentional when people ask me about it. 

Artistic genius, eh?  The next Alexander Calder?

Yeah right.

For those interested, the item that gets the most comments is my Scarface poster.  People really dig it because of how big it is.  Size really does matter.


Apodemus sylvaticus

Miscfieldmouse...also known as the common field mouse.

...also known as the little rat bastard who made his home in my grill.

Okay, so it had been nearly a month since Katie and I had grilled out.  The last time was Memorial Day.  This is quite uncommon for us as we love to grill.  We just haven't had the time nor the desire to do it lately.

Last night, we decided we wanted to grill out some chicken breasts.  I pulled the cover off the grill and lifted the lid so I could spray down the grill gridplates with my high-temp Pam cooking spray.  And what to my wandering eyes should appear?  But a mossy little nest and my furry friend living on coals.

The little bastard had built himself a veritable condo, or so Katie called it and I agreed.  It was a 6x6 inch moss hut under the gridplate and sitting on the coals.  When I saw him lurking around inside, I shook the grill and thought he had taken off.  So I went to lift the plate out to remove the nest.  That's when he shot out of hiding.

Sorry, no more games.  I grabbed the hose and soaked the little booger.  Next thing you see is a little waterlogged mass of fur racing across our slab deck.  He was none too happy.  Probably thinking, "what the hell did I ever do to you?  Not like I burrowed my way through the foundation of your house or anything."  Normally, I find mice to be cute.  But he was keeping me from grilling.  You never keep a man from his grill.  Let me repeat that... NEVER.

After the soaking, I removed the nest and threw it over the berm in our backyard.  Then I lit the grill and let it burn on high flame for a couple of hours in hopes of killing all germs the little bugger was likely carrying. 

We cooked our chicken on the stovetop last night.


Affected by the Butterfly

Is anybody out there an "expert" regarding the movie The Butterfly Effect? Would anybody admit it if they were?

MiscbutterflyeffectI'm asking because I saw and reviewed the movie several months ago. It wasn't terrible. Not the best acting, but, like many movies, it had a good concept that just wasn't executed very well. In a nutshell, it's about a guy named Evan (Ashton Kutcher) who, throughout his life, has suffered inexplicable blackouts. When he gets to college, he starts studying psychology to see if he can figure out why this happens. By the time he's in college, he has gone seven years without a blackout. However, one night, a girl he brings to his dorm finds a box of his journals under his bed. He's been keeping these journals at his doctor's request since he was seven in order to hopefully find some logical trigger for his blackouts. When Evan begins reading a journal entry to the girl, he is suddenly transported back to the point in time in his life that he is reading about. The difference being that he is traveling to the specific moments when he was blacked out. He is finally able to see what happened during those holes in his memory and he has full knowledge of what is going to happen in his future. What he doesn't immediately realize is that with each leap back to a blackout moment, he is irretrievably changing the future sometimes for the worse and other times for the better.

The title, The Butterfly Effect, refers to how one small event can change everything else. I guess it could also be called the domino effect, for that matter, but butterfly sounds much cooler. Plus Der Domino-Effekt was already being used at the same time for a German TV movie.

Sound interesting? Well, it was, to some degree.

My whole reason for posting is rooted around the ending of the movie.

Big spoilers abound. If you do not want the ending of the movie revealed to you, skip to the bottom of this post. You've been warned.

I seem to recall that the first time I watched this movie, the ending revolved around Evan killing himself in order to not continue to screw things up for all those around him. He has seen how his actions have affected the lives of his mother (Melora Walters); his girlfriend, Kayleigh (Amy Smart); her brother, Tommy (William Lee Scott); and their other friend, Lenny (Elden Henson). And, each time he tries to fix a wrong that he has inadvertently created in one of their lives, he winds up screwing it up for a different person. In a last-ditch effort to fix it all in one fell swoop, he travels back to an early point in his life and kills himself. Maybe I'm completely screwed up on this memory. Perhaps I'm thinking of Donnie Darko which had a similar ending. But this was what I remember seeing on the DVD.

Last night, I'm watching the movie on one of the Encore or Starz channels on cable. I don't know why I watched it instead of going to sleep. Katie was already sound asleep and it was 11 p.m. so I really should have just shut off the light. But I decided to see if I could last until the 1 a.m. end time. I did. And, while I'm glad I was able to actually stay awake that late which I feel I haven't been able to do for a while and, therefore, have started to consider myself "aged," I kinda regret it as well since watching the whole damn thing is what resulted in this post.

Yes, last night's version of the movie had a completely different ending. Evan still makes a last-ditch effort to fix the whole messy enchilada for everyone, however, he does so in a seriously variant manner. This time around, Evan goes back to the time when he first meets Kayleigh — they are seven and six, respectively — and whispers in her ear that he doesn't like her and if she comes near him ever again, he will kill her and her family. Needless to say, they never become friends and none of the future problems arise. Kayleigh and Tommy grow up having relatively well-adjusted lives. Evan, his mom, and Lenny also grow up in their own world that is completely oblivious to that of Kayleigh and Tommy. Well into the future, with both of them as working professionals, Evan and Kayleigh walk past each other on the streets of New York City. Neither one knows the other, but they both show signs of recognition for whatever reason. This is where the movie ended.

If there were two endings to the movie, this latter one is obviously the Hollywood ending. The nice, sanitized-for-your-viewing-pleasure ending that I'm sure was attached to the film in theaters. The former is likely what the director wanted to use, but test audiences said "nuh uh." How many people want to see the protagonist off him or herself as a way to resolve the central conflict? It also furthers my belief that the American movie viewing audience is laden with a bunch of controversy-deficient pusses. In the words of Indy's buddy, Jacques, from Raiders of the Lost Ark, "C'mon! Show a little backbone, will ya?"

Is this the case? Did the DVD contain an alternate ending and I just didn't realize that was the one I was watching at the time? Help.

Now I want to grab the Infinifilm version of the DVD again and watch all the bonus featurettes to get a bit more background on it. Wonder how inexpensively I can find it.

In other freakin' sweet entertainment news, it has been announced that a direct-to-DVD movie of The Family Guy will be released on September 27. The film, which will be titled Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin: The Untold Story, will center on Stewie's attempts to find his real father after determining that there is no way he was spawned by Peter Griffin. I've gotta say that I'm loving this. And what makes it even better is that Seth MacFarlane is not trying to release this to theaters where it could, like so many TV-toons-gone-Hollywood before it, bomb terribly. I like the idea of direct to DVD for this one. I'm buying it on the first day it hits shelves.

And, now that I've started a discussion about DVDs, there's one last thing I'd like to say... I hate when companies change the packaging of a series of TV shows so that the seasons don't fit together when placed side by side on a shelf.

Sometimes, it's a small, but still intolerable change like our season 2 of Sex and the City. When it was released on DVD, season 1 had a transparent spine with reddish lettering. Season 2 came out, it had similar packaging, but an opaque blue spine with white lettering. No big deal. It still fit in with season 1 and the likelihood was that they were going to perform subtle changes such as this on all subsequent sets. Nope. Seasons 3 through 6 (part 1 and 2), all had the transparent spine with reddish lettering that was featured on season 1. Now season 2 sticks out like a sore thumb. Shortly after season 4 was released, they rereleased all the previous sets in a multiseason box set. And all of them had the transparent spine. Even now, you can find reprinted copies of season 2 with the conformist end panel. But why buy a new copy now? I already have the second season and I don't want to buy another copy. It just ticks me off.

But far worse than this is the atrocity being committed by creators of The Simpsons. Seasons 1-5 are already out on DVD and they recently announced season 6 for release on August 16. For season 6, the cover has changed to a new style that they plan to use for seasons 7-16 as well (should they ever actually get off their duffs and start releasing them at anything greater than a snail's pace; I'm still convinced that DVD will be dead before they finish releasing the entire run of the show). And this is no little spine recoloration.

Here is what season 5 looks like. And seasons 1-4 are very similar with a different color scheme but each has the die-cut TV screen showing some image of the family and a friend or two or three on the front...

Miscsimpsons5_1

Here is the sorry excuse for season 6...

Miscsimpsons6

I might be a bit more agreeable with the design of season 6 if it wasn't so divergent from the previous seasons and if it wouldn't look so damn awkward on my DVD shelf. Sue me for liking clean lines and rectangular boxes. Something just looks really cheap about the Homer head box. Grrrrrr...


All Scientologied out

As a result of her and Tom Cruise doing nothing but going on and on about their farce of a relationship, Katie Holmes is now out of the sequel to Batman Begins. Yes, they are already planning a sequel and they have already signed Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Michael Caine (Alfred), and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox). I'm not too terribly surprised about the dissing. After all, has she been doing any promotional work for the movie at all? Nope, she's doing nothing aside from blushing and gushing over Tom and, while I may have thought it was cute at first, I am thoroughly disgusted by it now.

Oh yeah, I guess this puts Katie Holmes on the list of people that should disappear a la Paris Hilton. Time to amend the proposal.

As for new casting for the sequel, fanboys of the Web have made Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker and voice of The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series) their number one pick to portray The Joker. I'd love it. I think that would be brilliant casting. You draw in fans from the animated show because of the familiarity with his voice, you draw in everyone that was a fan of him as Luke. Damn, the possibilities are limitless. Please cast him... please cast him...

Miscscarlett_1I also must say that Scarlett Johansson is my new hero. I've dug her since the early stages of her career in The Horse Whisperer and have liked her up through Ghost World and Lost in Translation. But now I bow before her. She is a goddess. Why you may ask? Read this from IMDb...

Cruise "Tried To Convert Johansson"
Scarlett Johansson pulled out of appearing in the second Mission: Impossible sequel after Tom Cruise tried to convert her to scientology, according to reports. Cruise, who produces the action adventures, met with Johansson ahead of casting for the upcoming Mission: Impossible 3 and took her to one of the controversial religion's headquarters, claims Radarmagazine.Com. A source tells the website, "After two hours of proselytizing, Cruise opened a door to reveal a second room full of upper-level Scientologists who had been waiting to dine with the pair, at which point the cool-headed ingénue politely excused herself." Officially Johansson quit the film because of scheduling conflicts after the film was delayed so Cruise could make War Of The Worlds.

You go, girl! Should this story be true, then that's the sort of personal conviction I like to hear about. Way to stand strong against the moral minority, Scarlett.

And since none of you commented about me rerating movies on my site, I've made the executive decision to go ahead and do it. You will all know that it has happened because I will list the movie in the Recent Updates box as a new review. I will no longer list the original review as that particular take is no longer mine so why display it as though it is?

The other reason why I'm doing this is because I ran across another movie that I get the feeling will wind up being subject to a rerate. I finally got around to watching Napoleon Dynamite yesterday. A different movie to say the least. Not at all bad as I was expecting it to be. It actually looks like it might be good once I've watched it a second or third time and have allowed myself the opportunity to really soak it in. This happens from time to time. It's good to recognize this. Some foreign films with subtitles need this chance, as well, since you can miss some of what is happening on screen while reading the translations. Damnable thing, but you get used to it.

My rerating and a couple other reviews will be coming soon.


Who said defecting is a bad thing?

We played another double header in softball tonight and we lost, but we won! Scratchin' your noggin, yet?

Well, the Henchmen won both games. However, I was not playing for the Henchmen tonight. The team we were playing against only had seven guys show up. So our coach, who didn't want to bother with a forfeit win, started asking a couple people to see if anyone wanted to play for the other team. Everybody said "no". But I knew, as soon as he started asking, that I would be asked. I'm a nobody on my team, in all honesty. I'm a backup catcher and designated hitter. So why not dish me over there?

When he asked, I said yes, took off my jersey, stuffed it in my bag, and took the long way around to the other dugout. We couldn't let the ump see this happen as he would know we were doing a player swap. Not a good thing and very much against the rules. So, here I am walking into a new dugout saying, "hey guys, sorry I'm late." They all played along.

I wound up being assigned to first base. Never played the position before in my life. But, apparently, I did pretty well without even trying that hard. I got about six or eight of my own guys out. I wasn't trying too hard and, anytime a ball was thrown to me for a force out of the runner, I kept praying that the runner would race it out. A few times they did. Several other times, the throws to me were way off. But anytime they were near me, I caught them. Couldn't look that inept at the base or I would accused of some kind of Black Sox scandal at a much smaller scale.

I wasn't really sure how well I was doing until two things happened:

  1. My friend Jason, who is a damn fine baseball/softball player, came up to me and said, "you play a good first base." To hear this from Jason who virtually never compliments another living being felt pretty damn good. He even left a message to that effect on my cellphone. I'm saving it.
  2. A player from my other team told me that if my own team doesn't accept me back, I am welcome to play with them anytime. I'd call that a good sign.

Maybe I've just been playing the wrong position. Not that I'm likely to take over first base from Dave. He's just too damned good and his hitting is great so he's going nowhere anytime soon. But it could give me yet another position I can play as a fill in.

I had fun. I played every inning of both games at first and I went 2-6 at the plate. Not great hitting, but better than my norm. Just gotta improve that.

But I gotta admit that it was very weird taking the field as my other team was leaving it. That's just odd. And then wearing a different jersey as well. I was part of Lifechurch where everybody is number one. And I mean that literally. Every single jersey bore a number one on the back. If this was their veiled reference to the whole "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending" thing, then I guess that makes the Henchmen the ending to the Lifechurch's beginning as we dispatched them pretty handily. It wasn't pretty in the first game. Slaughter rule invoked in the fifth inning. LC did better in the second game only losing 6-11. We actually put up some offense. Just not enough.


Made me an offer I couldn't refuse

There is one other thing a man should never admit to, and that is never having seen The Godfather.

MiscgodfatherUntil today, I was one of those men. I never had much desire to see it. The concept kinda bored me in all honesty. I had seen bits and pieces of the first one. Well, mainly just the horse's head scene as I really wanted to see that, and only that. But, my friend Brian loaned me his box set a few months ago and I finally watched the first one today. Now before you get on my case about taking advantage of his kindness by not watching them right away, bear in mind that he and his wife still have our copies of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, Ray, Jerry Maguire, and Mystic River and have had a few of those for an equivalent length of time. And I even tried to give them back to him a couple times saying that I was never going to have a chance to watch them. He made me keep them until I do. So I'm starting.

The first film is a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Yes, it is slow and not nearly as engrossing as my personal favorite mafia film, Goodfellas. But the story builds nicely and Francis Ford Coppola does a great job with character development. What I really liked is that, like the original Star Wars, the first movie in both series can either stand alone or you can go ahead and watch the sequels. But you're not really forced to take one action as opposed to the other. They are both very self-contained films.

Now I just need to find the time to watch the other two. Then I think I'll watch my copies of Goodfellas and Scarface again and rent Casino from Netflix. I'm on a mobster kick right now. Ooooohhh, and Untouchables. Good stuff.

Oh, and sorry I couldn't find anything to write about yesterday. Here I was well on my way to having posts up every day of the month for only the second time in the seven years this site has been up. Blew that one, didn't I?


It's my prerogative... isn't it?

One of the hazards I find of rating movies is that my opinion of them may change over time. This is not so much the case with books as I usually only read them once. However, I am likely to watch movies over and over and I may like one more or less depending on my attitude at the time I watched them or the company that I am in at the time. Who knows what the circumstances may be. Sometimes it's just a matter of being able to mentally re-evaluate a movie once I remove myself from it for a few days and can critically think about it. This is also why I don't regularly review CDs. My opinion of music changes even more readily than my opinion of movies. I'm terrible when it comes to CDs. I would like to review them, I just don't know how good I would feel about my review after a year, a month, or even just a week.

The question that arises is should I change my reviews on this site as my opinions of movies change?

I have tweaked my reviews in the past. Maybe a half star in one direction or another. I don't consider this to be a big deal. But there have also been times when I've been given reason to see a movie in a whole new light. Starship Troopers is one such movie. I thought it was just a complete cheesefest the first time I saw it. Then we did a critical analysis of the film in one of my grad English courses. As a result, I was given a whole new perspective from which to view the movie (revolving around a sort of Nazi-like interpretation of what the Earth has become in this future time period which is what was intended by Robert A. Heinlein in his original novel), and I enjoyed the film a helluva lot more.

This is also the case with the movie Super Troopers (I didn't intentionally pick films with "Troopers" in the title; it just happened, I swear). I had built myself up for this movie quite a bit due to several rave reviews both from professional reviewers and friends I know who had seen it. I was severely let down by the film when I finally saw it. However, I have seen bits and pieces again on TV since that time and, on Wednesday night, I watched it with a couple of my friends from the gym. It was sooo much better this time around.

I did update my Starship Troopers review some time ago to reflect my newfound appreciation for the movie. But I have yet to do this with Super Troopers because I suddenly found myself questioning whether this was an ethical thing for a reviewer to do, even one as novice as myself.

What is your opinion? Should I be able to re-review a movie or should I leave it alone even though I may no longer agree with my own review? Should I just update it and not make mention of it or should I post a link to it in the "Recent Updates" box in the left column here on the homepage to reflect that it is a "new" review, per se?

Help... ethical conundrum.


Retire already

I get tired of athletes or entertainers who say they are going to retire, then do it, only to come back one, two, even three or more times. Elizabeth Taylor, Cher, Michael Jordan, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

When is enough going to be enough?

We can now add former Chicago Bulls and L.A. Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson to this list. After "retiring" from coaching after taking the Bulls to six NBA championships, he returned and helped the Lakers win, I believe, three championships as well. He left after losing in the NBA Finals last season to the Detroit Pistons (an incredible series, to say the least). Rudy Tomjanovich took his spot but left part way through the season for medical reasons. I have no idea who it was that coached the Lakers through the remainder of the season, but it marked the first time in the last 11 seasons that the Lakers did not make the post season.

So now Jackson is returning complete with his Zen approach to basketball success to likely be hailed as the Lakers' savior. Rumor has it he may even be bringing former Bull Scottie Pippen along as an assistant coach.

However, in the time that he spent "retired" this second time, Jackson published a book called The Last Season: A Team in Search of its Soul, in which he details what it was like to coach some of the players in his final season with the Lakers. From what I've been told, he is not afraid to dish the dirt and even trashes players like Kobe Bryant who are still with the Lakers. Now, do you see this as a good idea? Returning to the team you just trashed in a tell-all book? True a majority of the players are gone from last season and even more are likely to leave during this off season. But Kobe's still there so far as I know and putting those two back together is not, IMHO, that well thought out of a plan.

My other worry is that Jackson is going to tarnish his NBA reputation by not doing as well as everyone expects. Much like Jordan when he returned for his third term in the NBA with the Washington Bullets (I hate to call them the Wizards... political correctness run amok, I tells ya), I wonder if this return will be nothing short of lackluster. Jordan had his moments with the Bullets/Wizards, but nothing memorable and he certainly wasn't his old self. How you can expect him to be at that age is beyond me, but he convinced everyone that he was back in his prime form. Will Jackson be back at his prime? Or is he just adding weight to a sinking ship?


The hills are alive...

I feel so dirty. I just want to run to the bathroom and shower or scrub my skin with a Brillo pad. That's how dirty I feel.

What did I do to feel so dirty you might ask? I just downloaded Napster on my PC at work.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

MiscituneslogoI know, I know. I, a self-proclaimed Machead and iTunes/iPod devotee, just downloaded the Evil Empire's equivalent software... a piece of music download garbage that only works with Windows-based PCs and does not have iPod compatibility.

Why, why, why?

Simple... free music. That is my one and only reason for doing this.

I just purchased the Foo Fighters new double-disc set In Your Honor from Best Buy yesterday. When you buy the set from them, you are afforded a free digital download of the Best Buy-exclusive track "The Sign." At least this is what the sticker on the front of the CD said. What it didn't say was that this was a Best Buy and Napster exclusive. Didn't find that out until I opened the CD and saw the instructions on the insert card.

MiscnapsterlogoOooohhhh... those tricky bastards. Bait and switch, to some degree, I suppose. Lure us Mac users in and then screw us over. If I didn't have a PC at work, I would be screwed. The free download would be absolutely useless to me. However, I love my Luchadores de Foo and I want my free track. So I bit the bullet, tucked my tail between my legs, and downloaded the damn smelly cat.

I know I could've just purchased the album from the iTunes Music Store directly and have received two free tracks, a free digital booklet, and a free music video. But the price for the set was $17.99 at iTMS and $9.99 at Best Buy. Let's see, maybe I don't get the same two free songs that I would from iTMS but I saved $8 and the likelihood of me watching the video or reading the booklet more than once is slim to say the least.

Now, please don't misunderstand. Just because I've downloaded and set up an account with Napster doesn't mean I'm leaving my love of iTunes to wilt in the sun. Hell no. If it wasn't for this exclusive track, I wouldn't touch Napster with a ten-meter cattle prod. The way I figure it, I will download my track and any other free stuff I can get, burn them to a CD, and reimport them in iTunes so I can load them on my iPod. It's been done before.

Actually, I'm now finishing my registration with Napster and I've discovered that it's not likely I will actually be holding on to my subscription for too long. They have a seven-day free trial and then they charge you per month after that time. I'm not going to be charged for something I'm not using. I'll sign up, get my free track, and then kill it.

I was just looking at the two logos and realized (damn my overanalyitical mind) that the eyes of the Napster cat are almost the same green as the music note in the iTunes logo. Hmmm... green with envy? Wishing he could be more like the number two (tied) piece of music download software in the world? And this is when compared to illegal P2P software such as Kazaa and Limewire. That a legal download site can be that popular is pretty amazing. Napster is number seven on the list.

I find it funny the droughts that the music industry goes through. For months, there really hasn't been a whole heckuva lot that I've wanted to buy on CD. Now, all within a couple weeks, we see new releases from the Foo Fighters, Coldplay, the White Stripes, and the Black-Eyed Peas. I actually want all of these to some degree, but I must prioritize.

That is why I bought the Foo Fighters yesterday. That one is my numero uno priority. I have loved the Foos since their first album. Dave Grohl is one of my favorite musicians and, I feel, one of the most talented musicians today. Heck, he played all the instruments on his first album before he hired a band for the tour. That's gotta count for something, right?

I'm thinking I might pick up the White Stripes album next. I'm such a fool for "Blue Orchid." Great song. I just don't know when I'll get it. I want the Coldplay album as well, but I'm already a bit tired of the new song "Speed of Light." But their stuff is always so good that the rest of the album may just make up for the overplaying of that one track. But I'm still going to hold off for the time being. The Black-Eyed Peas are at the bottom of my priority list, but it is still an album I would like nonetheless. Library?

Oh, yeah, and don't forget that Alanis Morrisette's Starbucks-exclusive acoustic version of Jagged Little Pill also came out this week. That's one that Katie and I have both been looking forward to. Hard to believe that the studio version of that album is now 10 years old. That's why she's putting out this acoustic version, as an anniversary celebration. Odd that it's only available at Starbucks and only for six weeks. But I don't mind it so much.

Gotta stop... gotta stop... gotta stop.


A modest proposal

I read one of the most reassuring headlines of the day today when I clicked on the news section of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

Hilton Plans to Quit Public Life in Two Years

Are you kidding me? Did Christmas come early this year? Yes, they are talking about Paris Hilton. Here is the text of the blurb...

Newly-engaged socialite Paris Hilton is planning to give up public life for family life in just two years time. The 24-year-old hotel heiress-turned-reality TV star insists she'll be ready to truly settle down and be a good wife to Greek fiance Paris Latsis and their children when she turns 26. She tells Newsweek magazine, "I thought it was cute to play a dumb blonde. On TV, I do it because it's funny. I consider myself a businesswoman and a brand. I don't enjoy going out anymore. It's such a pain. It's everyone saying, 'Let's do a deal! Can I have a picture?' I'm just, like, 'These people are such losers. I can't believe I used to love doing this.'"

I thought maybe this was some cruel joke. It's not April 1st, right? Then I saw it listed in the entertainment links on Yahoo. Oh, happy day!

To be honest with you, I won't believe it until I see it, and, even then, I still think she'll be so starved for attention and "affection" that she'll come back very shortly thereafter. I just don't see her doing the domestic goddess thing. Seriously, can you imagine her as a mom? She's too self absorbed to worry herself over anyone else. Anybody remember Demi Moore when she declared she would give up life in Hollywood and retire a few years ago? That sure held up, didn't it?

However, I would like to make a deal with Ms. Hilton... should she stay gone and out of the spotlight completely for five years, I will make an apology to her on this blog. Not a big deal to her, I'm sure. But I will do it.

I do have one caveat, though. I want her to take several people with her. More people that just need to be permanently removed from the public eye once and for all. They are:

  • Michael Jackson - Need I say more?
  • Lindsay Lohan - I once liked her and I will always cherish her version of The Parent Trap, but enough is enough.
  • Britney Spears - No talent, spotlight clinging, white trash whore. And I once thought she was gorgeous. Those were the days, eh?
  • Kevin Federline - The man of unproven talent aside from his indisputable parasitic abilities. Check that. To be a parasite means that you must be feeding off a source of that which you need to survive; in this case, talent. And we all know Britney lacks that in spades.
  • Russell Crowe - When it pertains to spontaneous acts of random violence outside of movie roles.
  • Madonna - Oh, go ahead and take all practitioners of Kabbalah and Scientology with you while you're at it.
  • Martha Stewart - Just leave. Please.
  • Scott Peterson - And if you can arrange to have Russell Crowe carry out a random act of violence that results in his death, all the better.
  • Jennifer Lopez - I know she hasn't really been in the spotlight as much anymore, but I'm still sick of her.
  • Howard Dean - Aside from his innovative use of the Web to bring together voters, this man means nothing to me and he is only hurting the Democratic Party. I'm not a Democrat (nor am I a Republican for that matter), but I don't believe that the Republicans should just be handed such an easy target. And he's the head of the DNC to boot. That's just terrible. At this rate, the Republicans could nominate Paul Reubens as their Presidential candidate with the catch phrase "Hey! He's not Dean!" and probably take three quarters of the vote right off the bat.

If Tom Cruise isn't careful, he will wind up on this list pretty damn quick. Oh wait, he already is! Bye bye, Scientology boy.

I don't think this is asking too much, is it? Heck, if you can make all of them disappear forever, I will commute your sentence to the point where you can come back in, say, two to three years (with good behavior; if that's possible on your part) and I won't even bat an eyelash about it.

Sadly, I'm not even close to the first nor will I be the last who includes many of these people in their list of overexposed human beings. I've read it on many blogs and I'm sure they will continue to pop up as they garner even greater media exposure.

And to the rest of you out there reading this post, please feel free to let me know, via the comments link below, who I have missed that should be included on this list. I'm open to amending the proposal to Paris.


U.S. legal system gets Jacko-d

MiscjackobadMichael Jackson is not guilty, eh? I've gotta say that I'm disappointed by the findings in the case. Maybe he shouldn't be guilty of all charges levelled against him, but definitely a couple of them. Here are the formal charges as per The Scotsman (go fig I had to use a Scottish source to find the list of formal charges, eh?)...

  • Count 1: Conspiracy to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion.
  • Count 2-5: Lewd act upon a child.
  • Count 6: Attempt to commit a lewd act upon a child.
  • Count 7-10: Administering an intoxicating agent to assist in the commission of a felony.

I wholeheartedly believe he is guilty on counts 2-10. The only one I think there is some wiggle room on, per se, would be the first count. It's all a matter of "he said/she said" there. That and I think the victim's mother really overexaggerated the claims here. But we have all kinds of descriptions from independent sources claiming that he did molest children in his bed, his shower, etc. I'm not saying it's entirely his fault. What mother in her right mind would actually allow their child to stay at his place in his bed? She needs a psych eval as well.

There must be something else going on here if they found him not guilty. Something I'm missing. Is there anyone out there that can reasonably explain why he got off? Lesser charges have been brought against non celebrities and they've been put away for years as a result. I think it's just a load of shit the pedestal we put celebrities on. Jackson has maneuvered his way out of legal trouble a couple of times now and he's just going to keep playing the system, IMHO. Why would you stop if you see that you can get away with it?

Funny thing was that I was listening to Woody, Tony, and Ravey on Q101 yesterday afternoon on my way to softball and they were talking about this one "Former Prosecutor" named Wendy Murphy who was so pissed off by the jury's findings that she resorted to calling Jacko the "Teflon Molester." That's just classic.

Oh, and I apologize for my terrible Photoshop job on the cover of Jacko's "Bad" album. It had to be done, though.


Deal me out

This is not something that any self-respecting man should admit to, but I am terrible at playing card games against other people.

Poker, spades, hearts, euchre, you name it, I blow at it.

* Kevin watches as his e-mail inbox becomes inundated with invitations to attend random card parties. Each with a $20 minimum bet and a $200 buy in.

But this inability is not limited to just card games. I'm terrible at other games like Risk and chess as well.

I think it has something to do with on-the-fly strategy development. I'm the sort of person that needs a bit of time to develop a comprehensive strategy and games in which time tends to be of the essence are not the ideal arena in which to hone these skills.

And that's only considering I actually remember how to play the damn game. I have been taught so many card and board games over the years and play them with such infrequency that I forget and need to be retaught all the time. I do remember how to play poker and Risk and chess, but any memory of how euchre, hearts, and spades are played always winds up escaping through some medically undetectable hole in my head evaporating into the atmosphere and likely having some negative effect on the ozone layer.

I think this is my only saving grace. So much time needs to be spent retraining me to play these games that the time during which I can lose my hard-earned money is quickly whittled away.

So, I've begun to wonder if maybe my mind intentionally forgets how to play these games as a sort of primitive defense mechanism. If so, God bless you, brain. Primitive or not, I've never wound up with an empty wallet or a bookie chasing me down. And I have never been forced to contact Gambler's Anonymous nor call the Parker Brothers as material witnesses in a divorce proceeding. This method is clearly brilliance at work... all while playing dumb.

Can you think of a better way to deal with this?


(Very) random ramblings

Man, we just have to stop hosting parties. When we lived in the apartment, we rarely had people over. Check that, we practically never had people at our place. And we certainly never hosted parties. There was simply no room.

Now that we have a place of our own, with a front yard, back yard, larger living room, larger kitchen, and, most importantly (especially upon considering some of the company), multiple bathrooms, we are able to host many people at one time. And we've been taking full advantage of this opportunity. We've actually had people over twice just in the last month.

And I think we both need a breather.

Cooking, cleaning, prettifying, constructing bean bag toss boxes... yes, you heard that right, I built two bean bag toss boxes. It just takes it all out of you. Katie even more so than me. She has this habit of wanting to clean up as we go instead of letting dishes or garbage pile up as the party progresses. So she'll be in the kitchen cleaning while talking to the girls. I feel bad and think she should just kick back and relax, but she argues that she is relaxed and would rather do it this way.

Sick. That's all I can say.

But you've gotta respect that work ethic. She's the same way at her real job. If she's not actively inputting prescriptions in the computer or filling bottles with someone's daily pill fix, she feels like she isn't doing enough. And she'll find more to do.

Me? I've been looking forward to retirement since the day I graduated from college. Nay, I can date it back to high school graduation. I hate working. It's not as though I'm not a motivated person. I enjoy expending my energy to worthwhile causes. I loved being in school. I was great at research and writing and taking tests. I enjoyed everything about it.

But, there's just something about waking up and getting dressed nicely (if you consider khakis and a polo "nice") and showing up to do effectively the same thing day after day that just does me in mentally and emotionally. I don't know where this desire to not work comes from. My dad likes his job so far as I know. My brother would wither and die without work (I'm convinced that would really happen but doubt that I could ever convince him to play the role of guinea pig should I ever carry out the experiment). Obviously my wife loves it or she wouldn't be beating herself up taking classes to move up in the ranks to become a full-fledged drug pusher... er... pharmacist.

I think it must have something to do with feedback received on a job well done. In school, you receive grades on everything you do. If you say something intelligent during class, you receive positive feedback. At the end of it all — be it four, five, even six years or more — you receive a diploma. Talk about positive reinforcement.

Now that I'm part of the working world, it seems that such feedback comes less often. Unless you're talking negative feedback. Nobody is ever afraid to tell you that you are doing a bad job. Positive feedback, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a place in the real world. There are some managers that believe in it highly. But they are clearly in the minority. Once in a while, one of my bosses will pass on a compliment to me that she heard from someone else. But these compliments catch me so off guard or they're timed so awkwardly, that I don't know how to respond or it doesn't sink in until much later. By the time I have mentally processed the compliment, responding to it is pretty much moot.

Wow. How did you like that? In one post, I covered party hosting, work ethics, and personnel management. Talk about one huge tangent after another. It's gotta be late. There's just no other way to explain this massive derailment of my train of thought.

To anyone who has scratched their head to the point of blood loss, I apologize. This was entirely unintentional.


Automotive politics

People have pet peeves. Everybody does whether you realize it or not. Maybe it's something as simple as the person in front of you in line at the grocery store who waits until they are being rung up to fish out coupons. Perhaps you hate driving next to the person who leaves the cover on their gas tank open and you just want to reach out your window and close it for them. Some can be much more serious.

I have several pet peeves. So many I'm not even going to bother listing them all here. Suffice it to say I've got enough to choke a horse. Well, maybe more like a quarterhorse or a pony even. I'm not quite up to stallion-level peevage yet.

But the one peeve I would like to discuss today is when people use their vehicle as a political sounding board. I don't have anything against most bumper stickers and window decals. Most of them are fine. A logo showing support for your favorite sports team... great. A radio station... yay! Heck, I could even handle those white ovals with the W and the flag waving behind it showing support for Bushie in 2004 (no, I'm not a fan, as you all know; but this was a rather nonintrusive way to show support, so I was cool).

What I hate is when a sticker is emblazoned with some kind of politically motivated message that you can't help but read and then you regret having done so for the rest of the day. What's even worse is when you are subjected to multiple bumper stickers all with roughly the same message on one car.

That happened to me today on the way to work. I was stuck at a red light behind a Grand Caravan with three bumper stickers. I'm going to list each with my comments after it...

REMEMBER TERRI — obviously a reference to Terri Schiavo. Great, remember her. She deserves it. But don't make a martyr out of her. And, for God's sake, don't victimize her yet again by ravaging her memory to make a political statement. Oh yeah, I guess I should take this opportunity to let you know that buried under those two words was the URL stopliberaljudges.com. I'm not even going to bother turning that one into a legitimate link. Should you feel so inclined, type it in yourself. I do not support the idea so why make it easier? I just think it would be interesting to find out what Terri's opinion was in the matter. Would she have approved of keeping herself on life support all these years? Does she actually dig on liberal judges? What is her opinion on bumper stickers?

God is Pro Life — I truly do believe this. At least now. But when you've got all those instances of floods, famines, pestilence, hellfire, and brimstone raining down on humanity littered throughout the Old Testament, it becomes a bit difficult to say that He's entirely pro life, doesn't it? Maybe He had some kind of life affirming breakthrough vision. I'm thinking childbirth did Him in. Nothing like having a kid to make you reevaluate your view of life, eh? Not that I know personally, but I can imagine it would. I've seen so many people I know that have changed when they've had a child. And I can only imagine that the sense of pride and love would increase exponentially knowing that your son will grow to be the savior of humankind.

Parent 1: "My kid just got an A on his spelling test!"

Parent 2: "Well my kid scored the winning goal in his soccer game!"

God: "Yeah? Well my kid is gonna save all your asses, your kids' asses, and their kids' asses some day. Top that."

U Can't B Both Catholic & Pro Choice — My, my, my... where to begin on this one. This is America. Land of the free, home of the brave, as I recall. That would mean I've got the right to choose, wouldn't it? I know that this may be some kind of contradiction of ideals, but screw y'all. If I want to be Catholic and pro choice, that's my right and, ironically enough, my choice. And there is nothing you can do about it. Since I am neither, I guess I really don't need to worry, eh?

But I did learn one thing from this bumper sticker. That lesson is that U Can't B Catholic, Pro Choice, and Grammatically Correct all at the same time. C'mon, does it really take that much effort to spell out "You" and "Be"? Think how much more effective your message would be if you weren't spelling like some seven-year-old kid typing an instant message.

Some people just make it too easy. Oh well.

But since we're on the topic of political activism, I felt it appropriate to share one of my current viewpoints. It is very near and dear to my heart and I think many of you would agree. Help her before it's too late.


Speaking your mind

Why is it that when someone announces that they intend to speak their mind that others around them tend to cower away or completely block the person out instead of sitting there listening attentively? Why is speaking your mind such a bad thing? From where did the negative connotation arise?

Wil Wheaton (yes, the actor who costarred in the film Stand By Me and the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation) wrote on his blog about how, over the years, his site has lost its focus. He's become too caught up in making others happy and not using his blog for what it was intended, that being to speak his mind in a public forum. He feels he is suffering from what he termed "Blogger Burnout" and linked to a site that gave ways to determine if you, too, are suffering from BB. Now he is making a conscious decision to turn his site back into what he originally intended it to be. A forum for his thoughts. If you agree with them, fine. If you don't, he isn't going to lose any sleep over it.

I agree with him and feel it's important to use a blog to air your thoughts, opinions, etc. It's a great way to say something that you otherwise might bottle up inside yourself. My blog is the closest thing I've ever had to a diary in my life. I never wanted to write stuff down in a little book and keep it to myself. Heck, I could do that in my head; why make my hand cramp up in the process? I think it's cool to read someone else's internal dialogue and to have their permission to do so makes it all the better. I don't have to worry about feeling like Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) reading Clare's (Emilie de Ravine) journal in that episode of Lost. I never have to feel dirty knowing that I'm scanning the (sometimes) innermost thoughts of my fellow bloggers and Web surfers and knowing that you all can do the same back to me.

However, I also feel that a line sometimes has to be drawn. There is only so much I'm going to type on this blog. And there are reasons why I have made a conscious decision in this regard.

I do like having readers. It's rather self affirming to know that people read what I write and to know that a few of you come back here on a regular basis because you like reading my little cyberniche. I know Tony Pierce said that you will suffer burnout "when you get caught up in traffic, hits, popularity, readers, and/or fame." But I do feel that knowing that someone is reading your posts is important. There's nothing worse than getting up to speak and not having anyone listening in the audience. No, increasing traffic to my site is not my focus. It is simply a welcome benefit of having done this for so long. I will still write what I think and not actively seek topics that will boost my hit count. But, should it happen from something that I am writing, great. I won't be upset having more readers.

Also, I'm never going to lie to get more readers. I will always speak what I'm thinking. But, at the same time, I am not going to say something that will hurt my wife, my family, or my friends or jeopardize relationships or jobs. As frustrated as I get with work from time to time, I'm not going to bad mouth specific people right here in this forum. I do know, for a fact, that some of them have read my site. But at the same time, I also know I have poked fun at our IT department a couple times, but it was well deserved and something that every business, school, or organization endures often enough that what I'm saying is not particularly damning.

My site will never be WWdN. There's just no way. Nor do I want it to be. But I respect Wil as a fellow blogger and applaud him on his decision to take back his site. I am Kevin and that's all I can ever aspire to be.


An even more Intel-ligent Mac? (and more)

I've only used the whole "tidbit" thing a grand total of like three or four times on this blog and already I hate it. So I'm just going to type my random thoughts and hope that all of you are capable of sorting them out as you deem appropriate.

Miscq101First, I need to thank Tony of the afternoon drive-time Woody, Tony, and Ravey Show on Q101 Chicago (101.1 WKQX) because, for the first time in nearly a dozen attempts, I finally made it through during Tony's Dumbass Contest. The mindless trivia challenge that Tony posited was "name the two shows that have characters named Kelso."

I'll give you a second...

Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) on That 70s Show and Dr. Bob Kelso (Ken Jenkins) on Scrubs. I'll be honest and admit that it took me a second or two to remember Dr. Kelso only because I'm so accustomed to hearing Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) call him "Bob-o." But, when I did unearth that cranial nugget of pointless drivel, I called in and got through. And I won. Woo hoo!

My immediate prize was a copy of Scrubs, season 1, on DVD which I already own, but I'm sure I can make use of somehow. I've got friends... friends who watch Scrubs. Or maybe I can take advantage of this opportunity to convert someone into a "true believer." God, I sound like Stan Lee.

My second prize was a choice between Six Feet Under, season 3, on DVD; Haunting Ground for PS2; or a ream of Boise Cascade printer paper from the Q101 storeroom. I never was a big fan of Six Feet Under, to be honest with you. I keep hearing what a great show it was. But, when Katie and I tried to start tuning in at the beginning of the third season, we were less than thrilled. Granted I also kept hearing what a joke the third season was, much like the third season of Alias which, of course, was when I tried to start watching that show as well. I was less than impressed to say the least and this goes far to explaining why I still don't watch the show. And printer paper is something we don't seem to be lacking on since we have three reams at home. So I went with the game. I've never heard of it. I'm not a huge gamer. But I have a PS2 and I figured, what the heck, it's free.

MiscmaclogoI've been reading on a couple of blogs (Carol's SfS and Dave's Blogography) and several news articles about how Steve Jobs of Apple Computers has announced that, beginning in 2006, Mac computers will all contain Intel processor chips instead of the Motorola processor chips that they have been incorporating thus far. Several reasons have been given for this switch:

  • Intel has great support for their chips.
  • Motorola has completely dropped the ball on their chip design division.
  • Intel chips are far less expensive.
  • Motorola chips overheat too fast and this is not a good thing, especially in laptops.
  • Better integration on cross-platform (Windows and Mac OS) networks.
  • The built-in copy protection in Intel's Pentium-D chips would allow for the security that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is striving for which would push forward the attempts by Apple to create an online movie store (currently being referred to in tech circles as iFlicks although a real name has not been announced) that would prevent illegal copies from floating around but allow the original user to permanently store movies on their harddrives.

I asked the question about what this switch means for the Mac/Motorola plan to create a mobile version of iTunes for use on cellphones over on Blogography and Dave thinks it won't affect it since processor chips and mobile technology are two wholly different divisions of Motorola. Here's hoping.

Do I feel betrayed? No. Mac is still Mac and it's still superior to Windows any day of the week, IMHO. Jobs is just doing the smart thing which is to try to steal a bigger market share by bringing the two platforms as close together as possible while still remaining distinguishable. Finally, IT departments the world over can stop their bitching and realize that it is not that difficult to use a Mac. Plus, if we can make Macs a bit less expensive than they currently are by using Intel chips, run with it.

Lastly, there is a girl named Katie S. who works out at the gym where I work (and work out). I've seen her at the gym pretty regularly lately while I'm working the desk and we make polite small talk every so often. She's a nice kid. But, every time I see her, I wonder if she remembers who I am. She is, after all, the girl that sideswiped my parked truck a couple years ago when she was learning to drive and was practicing her parking at my old apartment complex. She doesn't show any signs of recognition. She doesn't act embarrassed or fidgety. But she just might be a good actress or she might be wondering if I actually remember who she is. I'm not going to intentionally point out that I know. I wouldn't want her to suddenly freak out and then try to avoid the gym as a result. I'd feel bad about that. With regards to the accident, though, I wasn't mad when she hit my truck and I'm still not mad about it. After all, she and her dad did the honest thing and called the cops who found me and let me know what happened. They didn't try to run away from their responsibility in the situation and they paid for the repairs and the rental car I used while my truck was in the shop. For that I was grateful. Hence why I never held a grudge over the matter.

Somehow I doubt she knows who I am. After all, when she did actually look up at me (I think all once or twice) the night the incident happened, it was through profusely tear-stained eyes. I could've been Michael Jordan and she would never have been able to tell due to her crying. But it would just be interesting to know for sure if she does realize it or not.


Haloscanned

This will likely make one person out of many happy. Okay, maybe two. But I finally started doing some research into how to allow people to make comments on my posts directly on this page. And, thanks to Haloscan, I think I may have it.

Hopefully, what you will now see is an option at the end of each post that will allow you to post comments immediately about posts that I have made on this site. You may be redirected elsewhere to post these comments (meaning: "not on the kapgar.com site") and you may or may not have to register a username to post, but it should still be worth it so that you no longer have to deal with my stupid "e-mail me" links and you will all now be able to view what everyone else says about my mindless ramblings. Here's hoping it works.

Please make sure to try it so I know it works and please use it semi-often so my research and coding time is time well spent.

Update: It's posted and I've tried it and all you need to do is click the "comment" link and a pop up displays where you type in a user name, URL (if you have one), an e-mail address, and your comment. Very simple. No registration necessary whatsoever. You can be as anonymous as you want, which scares me.


A day well spent

Today was a day off for Katie and me. I initially took the day off because Katie had a dentist appointment scheduled and I wanted to be able to drive her considering I was expecting her to be completely doped up on novocaine (not that novocaine really affects your driving ability, but I thought I'd do the nice, sweet, caring husbandly thing). Well, the dentist didn't finish quite as much as he was supposed to and now Katie will have to go back in towards the end of July. Not fun considering she had already built herself up for so much to be done and now she has to go back yet again.

But the good news is that we had the rest of the day to ourselves and didn't need to worry about Katie not being able to communicate due to novocainitis of the jaw. So we did some shopping downtown and at Home Depot (our home away from home), started work on a pair of bean bag toss boxes, caught up on some DVDs (Northern Exposure, season 1, disc 1 and Ladder 49), finally followed up on our contact lens appointments that we had conveniently forgotten about, went on a bike ride, and had a great home cooked dinner a la Katie.

I still find it funny that, in hindsight, no matter how much you actually get done in a day, you can still feel like you did absolutely nothing worthwhile. This seemed like one immensely uneventful, event-filled day. Sound weird? Deal with it.


Wendy or Danica? Danica or Wendy?

Tidbit 1: You might recall a little ways back that Katie and I took a trip to Green Bay, Wis., at the beginning of April for the wedding of her cousin, Mike, to his fiancee, Wendy. I was recently reminded of Wendy when I looked at last week's issue of Sports Illustrated featuring Indy 500 racer Danica Patrick on the cover. And I think you'll see why.

Pictured here are Mike and Wendy (sorry, the photo was pretty dark to begin with)...

Miscmikewendy

This is Danica Patrick, the fourth-place finisher at the 2005 Indy 500 and the first woman to place as a top-ten finisher as she appeared on last week's cover of Sports Illustrated.

Miscdanica

I think it's safe to say that we have a Halloween costume nailed for Wendy for this year, wouldn't you agree? Just a bit uncanny, to say the very least.

Tidbit 2: We got some more work done on the bathroom today. The filler board is now installed as is the toe kick. The light is also installed although we are probably going to move it over an inch or two sometime soon. We just need to cut one more strip of quarter bead for the trim behind the bathroom door and install some moulding for the top of the linen cabinet and the beast should be all done. Thank God.

I would have posted some photos of our progress, but, to be honest, what we did wasn't really all that much to look at. A fixture, an outlet, and some boards and trim. Not exactly Wow!-factor photos here. I'll hold off until it's all done.

Tidbit 3: Lastly, I finally connected the final rear surround speaker to our stereo. The thing has been hanging on the wall for several months now and I just never got around to actually hooking it up to the receiver. Well, it's done and we now have sound behind us when we watch DVDs or play CDs. The only catch is that we don't have the separated sound that most DVDs are capable of because, as I recently discovered, we need to have the DVD player hooked up to the receiver via either optical output or coaxial. The RCA cable I'm currently using doesn't allow for Dolby Digital Surround Sound. We are only able to get Dolby Pro Logic sound as is. I may have to look to see if our DVD player has optical outputs. I don't think it does, though.


Stay Asian!

Today was the big day when Katie and I went to see David Sedaris at Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville. We got there a little after 5 p.m. and there was already a line of just under two dozen people waiting to get their tickets to have their books signed. Several dozen more showed up after us. We wound up as number 19 and picked up another of his books — Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim (my indie bookstore guilt factor kicking in like I described a couple weeks ago). Then we headed out to Starbucks to pick up a drink. It's amazing how stuffy a store can get with a ton of people in there.

When we came back to the store around 6:30, the place was literally jammed with people sitting down in the speaker's area to listen to him talk. I was standing up against the help desk and Katie was floating around the store trying to circumnavigate the crowds whiiles shopping for other books. When he finally came out, he started reading a fable he had written about a cat getting a haircut from a baboon. This would mark the first time I've heard something from him that was not directly related to his family and it was very well written. I hope it will be published sometime soon. He followed this up with a new one that was soon to be published in the New Yorker about his unfortunate experience with a young woman named Becky on a flight to North Carolina. Katie and I could not stop laughing. Some of his jabs were very blatant while a few hovered under the radar a bit. Either way, it was a scathing rebuke against modern seating assignments in planes and, oh yeah, stupid people. Can't forget that one.

After shilling a short story collection from other authors — Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules — that he wrote an introduction for as well as "edited" (in quotes because he said he could never bring himself to actually cut content from any of the stories as they were all perfection) that benefits a reading program started by Dave Eggers (author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius), we decided to go ahead and buy that one as well. Then we got around to the signing. Of course, I had him sign all three — the two mentioned here and my copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day — and the signatures are interesting to say the least. He signed them all to Kevin (I wanted them signed to both Katie and myself, but she said to just have them signed to me since she hadn't read any of his books yet; I still feel bad, though) and followed each with his signature as well as either a rubber stamping of wild mushrooms, a hand-drawn Jack-o-lantern, or the phrase "Stay Asian!" I can't help but laugh when I think about this last one. Good stuff.

But the end result was even better than just having the books signed. Katie has now decided, based on his readings, that she wants to start reading his books. Good work, Mr. Sedaris. You just created another new fan. I'm happy to share my books with her. And you all should as well. Start here.


I want my two dollars!!!

Tidbit 1: Just this past week, the gym where Katie and I work parttime started selling bottles of Evian water and cans of Full Throttle energy drink. Typically, this would be viewed as not that big a deal, right? However, it quickly becomes a big deal when you discover that these drinks cost $2 a piece. For the Full Throttle (16 oz bottle), I can understand it. Many energy drinks border on the $2 threshold. Some can be even more expensive than that.

Evian (~17 oz bottle), on the other hand, is soundly regarded as one of the worst bottled waters around. Yes, it has the name and the history since it was one of the earliest bottled waters. However, name and history don't mean jack when Evian is regularly declared the worst of the bunch in blind taste tests. Heck, New York City tap water beat it in a recent taste test. I can taste the difference when I drink Evian, and it's bad. And, to add insult to injury, we have soda machines that sell 20 oz bottles of Dasani water for half the price.

Last night, while working at the gym, I was checking out the can of Full Throttle that we keep out on display to promote our sales "efforts" (read: we really haven't sold much of either). One of our trainers said that Full Throttle actually tastes pretty good. He likened it to Mountain Dew with a kick. I can't imagine Dew having any more kick than it already does, but, sure, why not? So I was reading the nutritional facts label on the can and one of the ingredients was "glycerol ester of wood rosin." What the heck? Am I drinking a baseball bat? Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad, but I don't know if I want to drink a tree to find out. Color me crazy, but...

Tidbit 2: I was given these two links within the last couple of days and had to share them with all (two) of you. If I already sent these to you in an e-mail, then you can obviously disregard these links. If you haven't seen them, have fun.

Tidbit 3: To be filed under "what will they think of next"... On my way back to work after my lunch break, an ad came on the radio for Botox. It was weird enough to hear Botox advertised on the radio, but to hear how it was being plugged just blew my mind. They were advertising it as a cureall for underarm sweating. Yeah, it makes sense that it would work that way, but whatever happened to their bread and butter crowd? The folks who love having their faces temporarily paralyzed in order to eliminate wrinkles? Have they become wise to it so now the company must hype their service to those with overactive sweat glands? I'm just waiting for the Botox Impotency Cure to come out.


I beat the smart kids!

I'm better than the geeks! I'm better than the geeks!

Katie and I watched Ashton Kutcher's new "social experiment" Beauty and the Geek last night. I know, I know... right after proclaiming my love of the fact that I had no TV to watch for a few months, what do I do? I go and watch something new. Deal with it.

For the uninitiated, the show teams socially hopeless Mensa-level members with cranially defunct uberfrauen to gauge whether they can help the other in the areas in which they most need help. Funny thing about the casting, though, was seeing all the guys names pop up on screen with their credentials... "Mensa member," "nuclear radiologist," "IQ higher than you want to imagine," and then "VP Dukes of Hazzard Fan Club." Huh? What?

It wasn't an entirely terrible show. Katie and I both feel better about ourselves because we were able to answer nearly all the questions posed. But, there was one question that both the beauty and the geek in one pairing got wrong. The question was when did D-Day occur? The woman didn't know and the geek said it was 1942. The beauty came back with "no, that's when Columbus discovered America." Well, you're both wrong! It was 1944. I was even able to call the exact date... June 6. And, if you want proof.

Maybe it's just because I'm a nerd for all things World War II, but shouldn't it be obvious that there is no chance in hell that D-Day occurred that early in the war? 1942 was when the allies were just barely started to gain a foothold in the war with the Nazis having their frozen butts handed to them in the Battle of Stalingrad and then the Japanese being turned back in the Battle of Midway. But, D-Day was the nail in the coffin in the European front. We already had the foothold established and then launched our Normandy offensive which broke the Nazi army apart.

I beat the geeks! I'm so proud.


Softball's a bitch

Last night, the Henchmen took a pair against one of the teams we were tied with for first place. We are now 10-4 after slaughter ruling the first game in the sixth inning and taking the second game by a run. I still can't believe we held on to our one-run lead in the second game. We usually blow little leads like that. Heck we even blow big leads when given half a chance. We blew a nine-run lead a few weeks back.

Personally, I didn't play at all in the first game. In the second game, I started off as a DH and got on base with a walk (yes, I actually was able to restrain myself from blindly swinging). As I was stepping up to the bag for my second at bat and was taking a practice swing, the coach pulled me for a courtesy batter. Maybe if I was still on the bench that would be okay, but I was up at the friggin' bag getting ready to swing! The pitcher was none too happy either as he was delayed from pitching. Then, to make matters even worse, the guy they put in for me ground out. Talk about salt on an open wound.

I made it back in the game in the fifth as a replacement catcher, but my spirit was effectively broken by that time. My next two at bats, I lined out. I almost think it would have been better to not have been put in at all then to be given the proverbial theater hook like that. I'm just gonna have to go to the cages this weekend so I can whomp some ass next week.