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32 posts from November 2005

Let your body do the talking...

And that's exactly what Dave Gahan did.  The man strutted, he crooned, he sauntered, he practically made love to his microphone stand.

Miscdmtourphoto2And he, as well as the rest of Depeche Mode, were on fire last night.

The DM portion of the show started at a little after 9:00 p.m. (CST) and lasted for a good two hours.  During that time, the band covered just about all their major hits (minus a few notable exceptions) while Gahan progressively lost more of his clothing and Martin Gore looked like a hen that had been dipped in tar. 

I have liked Depeche Mode for years but I'm sure I'm not the world's biggest fan.  But that band put on a show that could convert even the staunchest nonbeliever and have him or her waving their arms in the air in time with the other several thousand people that jammed themselves into the All State Arena in Rosemont, IL. 

The power was completely undeniable.  The sound system was easily one of the best I have ever heard for a show and the vocal to music levels were perfect.  There wasn't a single point in the show when you couldn't perfectly hear either Gahan or Gore unless it was completely intentional on their part.  Not only did the sound system shake you to your very core, but the way in which the band played it convinced you that there was nothing in this world more important to them than their music and our personal enjoyment and appreciation of it.

Miscdmtourphoto1But there was one thing I found interesting... just how much Gahan's stage antics and presence reminded me of the late, great Freddie Mercury of Queen.  I have never seen Queen play live, but I have seen quite a lot of video footage of Freddie hamming it up the way he was known to.  And that's exactly what I saw on stage last night.  There was nothing but raw sexual energy oozing out of every single pore of Gahan's body.  I am a straight man, but even I found myself muttering "dayyyamn" under my breath.  That microphone stand could file a harrassment claim against him and it would hold up in court, I tells ya.

It was a great show.  If you have a chance to go sometime this tour, jump through whatever hoop you need to in order to go.  You won't regret a single minute of it.

And, Dave, if you wanna go again, let me know.  I'm in.

Oh yeah, that brings me to the infamous Dave of Blogography fame who attended the show with Katie and I.

Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to meet up beforehand and hang out.  We got together outside the stadium just as the Raveonettes were starting their set.  So we went in and talked what little we could during the show and in between sets.  Then we talked some more after the show before we went our separate ways (he had to catch a redeye out of the Windy City).

My assessment?

He does not look like a cartoon.  Yes folks, he's a real boy!  And he's taller than I thought he would be.

Okay, enough kidding...

Dave is a very cool guy.  He and I were cracking wise during the shows (especially the opening act) and it seemed, at least to me, like we had known each other for quite some time.  I guess that happens when you consistently read each others' blogs.

I only wish I had more time to hang out with him and talk without having to compete with the music.  It seems like we could have a lot to say and have some fun.  Even Katie, who hasn't really read his blog too much, said he was cool and very easy to get along with. 

So, Dave, like I said after the concert, let us know when you are back in town and we'll do what we need to in order to get together.  I promise you a spinach and parmesan stuffed crust jobber from Giordano's since you didn't get that particular type when you went there yesterday.  Mm, mm, good!

If any of you ever have a chance to meet him during one of his famous globetrots, do so.  I'm sure Kazza would agree with me that he's a good guy.


Happy birthday to you (one day late)...

I must first apologize to my brother for not wishing him a happy birthday yesterday.  Well, so far as this blog goes.  I did call him and wish him a happy birthday, but I just never posted it here.  Not that he reads this anyway.

But, Happy B-day, bro!  You're 27.  How does it feel?

Will I post a picture of him here so that you all can razz him should you come across him in public?  No.  That would be two pictures featuring him in one week's time.  That's nearly tantamount to a hostile takeover of my blog and I will have none of that.

No, this site will not become bapgar (his name is Brian).  And, come to think of it, there is not a single other name in my family that works with the abbreviated naming structure that I use on this site as well as my own or Katie's (with whom it would still be "kapgar").  Let's see... my brother's fiance, Jen = japgar (definitely not culturally correct); my mom, Sue = sapgar (hmmm... no); my dad, Wayne = wapgar (again... no, although not as bad as 'japgar").

Sorry for the tangent.

Happy birthday again, bro.

Oh, and my review of the Depeche Mode concert with Dave and Katie last night will be coming later today.


I can't stand to fly, I'm not that naive...

I don't know why I started pondering this one today, but, if you could be any superhero or have any superpower, what would it be?  Each character has his positives and negatives and each ability has its merits and pratfalls.

So, let's examine some of the most common...

Superheroes:

MiscsupermanearthSuperman
(image courtesy of www.capedwonder.com)

  • pros - flight, super strength, x-ray vision.
  • cons - big aversion to Kryptonite and apparently surrounded by stupid people who cannot tell that he's actually Clark Kent.

Spider-Man

  • pros - webslinging and wall crawling.
  • cons - that costume that you're forced to wear under your everyday clothes has gotta be rank and itchy; your powers are all superficial, you lose your webslingers and you've got nuthin'; if there are no buildings around, face it, you're useless.

Batman

  • pros - all the cool toys and his brooding attitude must get all the chicks.
  • cons - much like Spidey, everything is a toy meaning that your abilities are nothing without them.

The Incredible Hulk

  • pros - strength up the yin yang and, if the movie has any truth to it whatsoever, the ability to jump very long distances.
  • cons - you're green and you have to wear torn purple pants, 'nuff said.

Wonder Woman

  • pros - sexiest. female. superhero. ever.  Magic lasso, invisible jet (no need for air traffic clearances).
  • cons - running in those heels has gotta be a bitch; otherwise, nada that I can think of.

Aquaman

  • pros - the ability to communicate with sea creatures and hold your breath for an inordinate amount of time.
  • cons - not too many human "companions" would be able to spend much time with you in your primary place of residence... that leaves... oh gawd.

Wolverine

  • pros - adamantium endoskeleton assures rapid healing and those claws rock.
  • cons - hope you never need to go to an airport or government building

Superpowers:
I think you can each figure out the "merits and pratfalls" of each ability on your own

  • Invisibility
  • Ability to fly (whether on your own or with the assistance of an invisible jet)
  • Immunity to bullets or other physical harm
  • Webswinging/wallcrawling
  • Holding your breath (doesn't sound so cool when you read it like this)
  • The Batmobile (not really a superpower, per se, but worthy of mention)
  • Superstrength
  • Superior butt kicking skills (not necessarily the same as "superstrength" in my book)

Yes, there are many more superheroes out there and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch of abilities as well.  But, what do you think?  If you could be any one of these superheroes or have any of these superpowers, which would it be?  Feel free to list something that's not here.

Typically, and despite the post title, I'm very much in favor of flight.  But, right about now, I think I'd prefer either invisibility or superimmunity.  Just my current state of mind.


And don'cha come back...

I really don't want to sound like this post is meant to degrade or take anything away from the great state of Idaho.  I've never been there before so who am I to pass judgment, right?  I wouldn't mind visiting sometime, to be honest.

Okay, pleasantries and apologies aside...

I read on Snopes today that the Idaho Legislature passed a resolution commending filmmakers Jared and Jarusha Hess for the many ways in which their film Napoleon Dynamite portrays the positives of life in Idaho.

Miscnapoleon_1I have seen Napoleon Dynamite and, while I would agree that it doesn't make fun of Idaho, per se, I never really perceived the film as complimentary of life in the state either.

I would just like to take a moment to make mention of some of what I perceived to be the funnier points of this resolution...

WHEREAS, the Preston High School administration and staff, particularly the cafeteria staff, have enjoyed notoriety and worldwide attention;

Hahahahahahaha!!!!

WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;

Ummm, is that really something to be proud of?

WHEREAS, Napoleon's bicycle and Kip's skateboard promote better air quality and carpooling as alternatives to fuel-dependent methods of transportation;

Yeah, but wouldn't insurance premiums rise a bit considering Napoleon's penchant for "sweet jumps"?

WHEREAS, Rico and Kip's Tupperware sales and Deb's keychains and glamour shots promote entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency in Idaho's small towns;

Isn't this what freelance web and graphic design are for?  Damn, and I thought I stood a chance in the world...

WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools;

Oh, those poor children have no hope whatsoever, do they?

WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!" and run the risk of having the "Worst Day of Their Lives!"

Yeah, you'd have to be a Freakin' Idiot to vote against this.  The negative press would kill any chance of a re-election.

I am now awaiting the e-mail that will inform me of the nation's first instance of a restraining order taken out by an entire state against a solitary individual.  I'm sure it will read something like...

Dear Kevin "Freakin' Idiot" Apgar,

While we appreciate your initial attempts at "smoothing things over," per se, at the beginning of your blog post dated November 28, 2005, found at http://kapgar.typepad.com, we must take this opportunity to inform you that you are not welcome in the State of Idaho, nor will you ever be.

We take our state very seriously and do not appreciate your attempts at humor.

Should you ever come within 500 feet of our state's borders, all law enforcement officials and duly deputized citizens have been instructed to beat you with nunchakus and/or shoot you on sight, whichever proves most convenient in the given situation.  Should you, somehow, make it through this first line of defense, a pack of rogue llamas have been trained to detect your particular "odor" and will spit you into submission at which time you will be apprehended, tied to a pole, and shown the true power of our fully armed and operational Youth Tetherball League.

Sincerely,

Representative Larry Bradford
House of Representatives
State of Idaho
U.S.A.

P.S. You are no longer welcome to dine on tater tots, either.

I'm hosed.  My current Dave-o-Sketch reading seems to agree...

Miscdaveosketch


And welcome to the terrordome...

Just a few minutes ago, I coined a new phrase that I think might catch on quite big.  It is...

Nuptial Terrorism - 'n&p-sh&l 'ter-&r-"i-z&m - noun - the act of inflicting pain and sufferring, whether mental or physical, on one spouse by the other.  May be done out of spite or hatred or, in some twisted instances, as a term of endearment.

I came up with this phrase while Katie was curled up on my lap on the couch in our living room.  We had the movie Stealing Home on in the background (one of our personal faves) and we were talking, cuddling, etc. 

Then she started to pinch me.  No, no, no.  You don't do that and not expect some kind of retaliatory attack.  Hey, what goes around comes around, right?

So I coined this phrase and informed her that it had been immediately committed to the law register and is punishable by tickling. 

I really don't think she appreciated the efficiency of our legal system in judging on this matter.  In fact, she cursed and swore as I tickled her sides.

Bear in mind, this phrase can be applied to either member of a relationship.  Man v Woman, Woman v Man, Man v Man, Woman v Woman, etc. (hopefully, you do not fall into an "et cetera" category).

Feel free to employ this legal precedent the next time you are the victim of nuptial terrorism.  Should you need more reference material, contact the law offices of Kapgar.com, Esq.  We will be more than happy to provide you with the necessary documentation of this new legal measure.

You do not need to be afraid to report instances of nuptial terrorism.  In fact, hiding these despicable acts will only make matters worse as those who commit N.T. once are likely to do it again and again until they are stopped.

Do not allow yourself to become a victim of nuptial terrorism.


Welcome back...

... to another Mac lover's open arms.

Wow, it's been a week of welcomes for Katie and I.  First, we welcomed Jen to our family (and so have a couple other people in the comments to that post).  Now, we are welcoming a new computer to our household.

I teased you a bit yesterday saying that I would have more information about our trip to The Apple Store in Chicago, remember?  Well, that "more information" is our new purchase... a shiny, "refreshed" G5 iMac.  It is soooooo pretty. 

Katie and I have been wanting to get a new computer for some time now.  My computer at work has been bogged down with personal files that I've been really anxious to remove from the harddrive, but have had no place to which I could move them.  My pBook only has a 6GB harddrive and I have nearly that amount in just digicam photos.  Forget the fact that I have 35GB of MP3s.  So, yes, we've been talking about it for some time, but were unsure when, or if, we could actually do it.

But, yesterday, we did it.  We took the plunge.  We found our iMac. 

I said it's a "refreshed" one, which was terminology I was not accustomed to when dealing with purchasing computers.  According to the Apple sales guy who helped us, here's the classification structure:

  • "new" - duh;
  • "refurbished" - returned with a problem but rebuilt from scratch and good as new;
  • "refreshed" - opened, but returned without a problem.

Apparently, our computer was the victim of "buyer's remorse" or so the tag says on the side of it.  How anybody could have buyer's remorse with such a beautiful little piece of machinery is beyond me.  But, the Apple techs rebuilt it anyway so it worked like a brand-new computer and it's still subject to all of Apple's warranties and we purchased the three-year AppleCare extended service plan on top of that.

Because it was "refreshed," the price was cut from $1,500 to $1,150.  However, they marked it down even more before we got there and we walked out with a $1.5 K computer for only $900.  Of course, the warranty did up the price a bit.  But that's not so bad.

Here are some of the specs:

  • 17" display
  • 2 gig processor
  • 160GB harddrive
  • OS X.4 Tiger
  • iLife installed
  • Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.
  • 512MB RAM

Honestly, all we saw when looking at the thing upon purchase was the 17" display, 2 gig processor, and the harddrive.  I didn't even know how much RAM was on it or that it was Tiger as the operating system.  You would think I would look into this.  However, considering the price we were being offered, I knew that upgrading the RAM and the OS would be minimal. 

Anything we had priced through Apple's online store in the refurbished area was a minimum of $1,150 and, while they were all 20" jobbers, they only had 1.4-1.8 gig processors.  Having a 2 gig processor was a big selling point for me.  And, seeing how big the 17" display is makes me fear that a 20" display would be far too big and impractical.

No, this is not the new generation of iMacs with the iSight camera built in or the remote control with the Apple media center software.  Honestly, I could care less about either of those. 

However, when we opened the box and Katie pulled out a mouse and keyboard that had no wires, well, that was just icing on the cake.  I've never played with these types of keyboards and mice before, but it's soooo nice.  And then, before we fired it up, I found the CDs that said OS 10.4 and I just knew we made a great purchase.

We turned it on and had some fun.

Now, I'm sitting on my work computer typing this as I back up my MP3s to Katie's iPod and to DVD-R so I can transfer them off this computer and onto our new one.

And thanks to my parents for helping us with this purchase.  They agreed to boot a majority chunk of the bill and count it as our Christmas and birthday gifts for the year.  And, no, no matter what you say, I'm not using mom's picture as wallpaper on the computer as a way of showing my appreciation.  No.

We just need a name for the new 'puter, now.  Any ideas? 

Miscimac


It's the most wonderful time...

Today could not have been more perfect in oh so many ways.

Today was our day with Katie's family for our annual Black Friday Chicago trip.  Each year, we dare the crowds and shop on our own with no real agenda.  If we're actually good and have our shopping finished for Christmas, we go downtown and laugh at all the other shoppers.  Unfortunately, Katie and I are not done with our shopping, so laughing was not an option.

But, Katie and I began the day much nicer than we usually do.  Instead of waking up for the Black Friday early morning sales at Best Buy, et al, we slept in.  Yep, we decided to say "screw it" to the lines and the headaches and the early morning crap and just sleep in.  There really wasn't anything of interest to us in these sales.  Well, that's not entirely true.  If all goes well, my brother will have picked up seasons 1-3 of The Shield for me on DVD at Best Buy.  He was going in to buy Jen one of the Motorola RAZR phones that were on sale for $39.99 and I told him that, since he was already going to be there, he could buy me those as my birthday gift.  Saved us some headaches.  And, each season was priced at only $19.99.  We'll find out if he actually did it.

We then went to Kohl's and bought me a new winter coat.  I do have one nice thick winter coat, but I've been wanting to replace the black car coat I had a couple years ago.  So she helped me pick out a slate grey driving jacket that is just sweet.  Afterwards, we headed downtown.

Traffic was pretty easy, which is a severe rarity.  We found where Katie's family was at and got some parking.  Then we hit a few stores.  Including, of course, The Apple Store on Michigan Avenue.  This is one of the "flagship" stores, or so I've read.  And, every time I enter the place, I want to drop to my knees in hushed worship.  I drool.  Well, not literally; that would just be embarrassing.  More on this visit to My Personal Mecca tomorrow.

After hitting some more of the stores on upper Michigan Avenue, we headed to lower Michigan Avenue (south of the Chicago River) for places like Marshall Fields, Old Navy, etc.  Katie and I got our picture taken in front of the soon-to-be defunct Marshall Field's (they were purchased by Macy's parent company and will be changing their name soon) and I think that picture may be used for our holiday cards.

We met up with Katie's aunt, uncle, and cousins and hung out a bit for lunch and some shopping.  Then we went our separate ways with plans to meet later that night for chili at the condo of Dana, one of Katie's cousins.

However, our meeting time was several hours ahead and we didn't know what to do to fill the time.  So we wandered to the Germanfest that is sponsored annually around this time near Daley Plaza.  Little did we know that today is the day they light the big Christmas tree in Daley Plaza.  Great way to fill the time and we did.  You want to make it even better?  As we stood there waiting by the tree, it started snowing.  Not just a little bit of snow, either.  It built up consistently until it became a pretty strong snowstorm and was actually sticking to the ground. 

How much better can it get than to witness the lighting of Chicago's official Christmas tree in the middle of a mini snowstorm?  In my humble opinion, it would be hard to top that.  There is no better way that I can think of to fire up the Christmas spirit and Katie and I were both feeling it after that.

We then went to Dana's condo and ate chili and played games.  Doesn't sound like much, but we had fun.  An excruciating game of Taboo pitting the men against the women and I still say they cheated.  There were seven of them against five of us.  How is that fair?

Yes, I have pictures from today and I will post them, likely, tomorrow.  But it's pretty late right now and I think I'm going to bed.  I just wanted to get some of this information up today so you don't think I'm bailing on you.


We're a happy family...

Happy Turkey Day everyone!!!

And would you like to know one thing that I am thankful for?  In addition to my own wonderful family and friends and the great (albeit very big) family I married into, I am thankful for a new addition to my family.  Yesterday, my brother proposed to his girlfriend, Jen, and she said yes.

So, I'd like to congratulate Brian and Jen on their pending nuptials.  If there's one thing I did not have up to this point, it's a sister-in-law.  And, now, my brother has changed that.

one hint: Run Jen, run.  Before it's too late, run like the wind!!!  You don't know what you're getting yourself into.


Hide and seek; cloak and find...

Writing about Katie's hunt for her Christmas gift yesterday made me start reminiscing about the days when my brother and I conducted gift hunts of our own.

The good old days... the days of yore... ancient history...

I lie.  These times have happened as recently as 12 years ago.  Maybe even more recent, but that was the last Christmas in which I was living at home full time before leaving for college.

The first time was when I was about seven or eight years old and living in Lexington, KY.  We lived in a split-level ranch house... the type where you walk in the front door and are presented with the ultimate quandary of our time... "do I go up or do I go down?  Oh the possibilities."

Well, if you went downstairs, at the bottom, underneath what would be the half-flight of stairs that go up, was a big closet.  And I loved that closet.  As a kid at the age that I was, it seemed to continue forever.  And it was a great place to hide during a game of hide and seek.  Such a good hiding place, in fact, that my parents never knew I used it.  Or so it would seem they didn't know or they might not have done what I'm about to describe.

One time, my brother and I were playing hide and seek and I hid in the "closet under the stairs" (creepy sounding, eh?) with a flashlight.  I figured that since I was playing against my four-years-younger brother, I would be hiding for quite some time and pure blackness didn't quite appeal to me.

I flicked on the flashlight and looked around.

MiscgreyskullThere, before me in all its boxed glory, sat Mecca.  Every child's obsession in the early 80s... Castle Greyskull from The Masters of the Universe (read: "He-Man").  I couldn't believe it.  There it was.  Something I had been wanting for months and it was just sitting there waiting to be wrapped and then swallowed up into my greedy Christmas-morning paws.

I don't recall exactly how long before the holiday this game actually occurred, but, somehow, I managed to maintain my composure and not tell my parents I had uncovered their stash.  I think there were some other gifts in there, but nothing stood out quite like Castle Greyskull.

But I did tell my brother.  I dragged him back there and showed him.  He was almost as excited as I was.  And, somehow, I think he managed to keep the secret as well.

Thus marked the start of an annual obsession for Brian and me.

Parents=0; Kids=1

You would think that this sort of discovery would have ruined Christmas for me.  But it didn't.  I found that I actually enjoyed the hunt more than opening the gifts on Christmas morning.  No, that doesn't mean that I ceased wanting them or using them once I actually received them.  But I still preferred taking the risk and searching for my gifts whenever the opportunity was afforded me.

Years later, I told my parents that I had pretty much found nearly every gift that was to be given to me on Christmas each year.  My mom was a bit dumbstruck.  She couldn't believe that, 1) I found either all the gifts or the shopping list for the gifts, and, 2) that I was able to keep it secret so well.

I wasn't that old when I revealed this secret to her.  In fact, I still had plenty of Christmases left and the challenge for my parents became finding new methods to thwart my hunt.  And my challenge was finding ways to overcome their "efforts."

They started to employ the use of neighborhood friends and their houses to hide our gifts.  But I knew my parents' friends and recruited their kids to help me.  I was a resourceful little shit.  I talked these kids into participating by informing them that, by finding my gifts at their place, they would likely find their own gifts at my place.  They were soon wound up in my twisted little scheme hook, line, and sinker.  We found 'em.

Parents=0; Kids=2

Actually, I think the only time my parents won was when they hid the gifts at a friend's house well outside our subdivision.  Like, several miles outside.  And I was too young to drive.  I'll give them that one... and that would be about it.  Why they didn't do this more often is beyond me.  You would think, if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Parents=1; Kids=2

Another year, my parents decided to not worry so much about hiding the gifts from us as they were with trying to use misdirection.  They bought the gifts early, wrapped them immediately, and placed them in a rather obvious hiding place.  But they put my brother's name on my gifts and vice versa.  While, admittedly, it did cause some confusion initially, we wisened up to their ploy and figured out what was what.  Hunt successful.

Parents=1; Kids=3

I can see this being a problem.  I worry how I'm going to deal with my own kids when Christmas comes around.  How should we hide them?  Will I have learned enough lessons from my own days of playing Yuletide Indiana Jones to know what works and what does not?  We shall see.

No, no, no, we're not pregnant and actively concerned about this.  It's a concern for the future. 

But I guess I do have to worry about this now, as well, with Katie around.  Hmm...


I'm on the hunt...

And the Great American Gift Hunt begins...

Yesterday, I purchased one of Katie's Christmas gifts. 

Being the moron and slacker that I am, I didn't hide it immediately upon returning home (she was at work).  I just kinda left the gift bag out on the floor near a chair and my briefcase and didn't realize it.  Then she came home and we talked and whatever else you do when you're both finally home from work.  Then I look over and see the gift bag and think, "Holy dear sweet mother!  Has she seen it?  Has she not?  Gah!"  So I slowly and, hopefully, innocently make my way over to where it is and do a bit of defensive standing -- yeah, I actually try standing in front of it hoping Katie wouldn't notice what I was doing.

MiscgiftbagsWhen she looked away, I threw my briefcase (actually a messenger bag; but I'll toot my horn as much as possible) over it to cover it.  And, several minutes later, when Katie is throwing some dishes in the dishwasher, I put the gift inside my bag.

On the way upstairs, she tells me, out the corner of her mouth, "I will find out what's inside your bag."

"What are you talking about?"

"There's something in that bag and I will find out."

"No, there isn't.  What are you talking about?"

"Oh yeah?  Then let me look inside."

As she turns to head back downstairs toward my bag, I jump in her way and she proceeds to try to fight her way through my roadblock.

This happened several more times before going to bed as she was suddenly more than willing to: 1) make sure the downstairs lights were shut off; 2) get us a glass of juice; and 3) get her some food to nibble on.  I've never seen a girl so willing to trek 14 stairs in my life.

This morning, hoping that she didn't look while I was taking my shower (she looked like she was asleep), I rehid her gift.  I think this place is much more secure.  I hope.

Oh where, oh where has Katie's gift gone?
Oh where, oh where could it be?

Yes, I'm taunting her.  I'm evil.  I admit it readily.

Post-script:
While searching for that gift bag image above, I did a Google Image Search for "christmas gifts."  Can somebody please repeat this search and tell me if I saw what I think I saw on the far right of the first row of results?


When its time to change you've got to rearrange

'Twas a hot and wet night in Geneva this past evening. 

As both hell and high water rained down upon Katie and I.

(yeah, I know where your dirty minds were going with that one...)

Our attempt to watch the new Harry Potter film was thwarted by legions of kids and parents flocking to the local multiplex in droves.  We could still have gotten tickets, but we would have been at the end of a seemingly interminable line and we had no card games to play or anything else to keep us company.  Plus, we didn't quite have the patience to deal with all these people.  We wanted in and out. 

But it was not meant to be.

So we watched Derailed instead.  Not bad.  Definitely enjoyable but with a not-so-satisfying ending.  I can't decide if it wasn't satisfying because it wasn't great or because the loudmouthed witch behind us decided to blurt out her theory halfway through which left me piecing together the clues in support of this shot in the dark (which turned out to be correct, by the way).  Great acting by Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston (who is really starting to show her range lately).

But this movie furthers my belief that Vincent Cassel is just the biggest freak around.  He frightens me.  That's all there is to it.  Derailed, Ocean's Twelve (no male should be that limber), Birthday Girl... I get the willies just thinking about him.  Can't he do some kind of cuddly, feel-good sort of role next?

Hopefully, HP will happen Wednesday night.  Hopefully.  Sorry to get your hopes up.  Heck, sorry to get our own hopes up.  Grrr...

But, the good news is that I'm caught up on my reviews.


I got a black magic woman...

Katie and I are movie buffs.  We like watching them in theaters, on DVD, and on cable.  If we like a movie, we may watch it multiple times.

So, these last few months have been a bit anomalous to say the least.  In this time, we have been to the theaters only twice (Wedding Crashers and Just Like Heaven) and have been really slow about watching our Netflix rentals.  There have been one or two that have remained in our possession for well over a month (I apologize to whoever may have wanted to rent Because of Winn-Dixie and were delayed because we had the disc... and we never even got around to watching it).  We've been really bad.

But, we're finally going to make our way to a theater tonight come hell or high water.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opened this past week and we need to see it.  No, not "want"... we "need" to see it.  We are both Harry Potter freaks and have seen all the movies thus far.  In fact, we even saw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at the midnight opening show.  For Katie to stay up that late on a work night for a movie is saying a heckuva lot.

We are really looking forward to seeing this and we hope it's great.  But it's going to take a lot, in our minds, to top the job that Alfonso Cuaron did with the last film.  Yes, we are "blasphemers" in the minds of many Potter purists because we liked the third film the best.  Hey, Chris Columbus did a great job of capturing the look of the characters in the first two films, but Cuaron was spectacular in nailing down the look of the sets and special effects and mood.  Columbus' films were just too bright and cheery whereas Cuaron's film was dark and moody the way I always imagined it. 

Hate us if you must.

But tonight is our night with Harry.  We will be there.  And I will have a review up soon (along with reviews of a couple other Netflix rentals that I'm a bit behind on -- The Living Daylights and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants).  Yeah, I'm slacking on the reviews.  Sorry.  Just not motivated to write them up.

I just have this bad feeling that Harry Potter will sell out.  Wouldn't that just be our luck?


One, two, Freddy's coming for you...

What are your biggest fears?

MiscdollI'm asking because it looks as if another C.S.I. show will be capitalizing on a fear of one of the people living under this roof.

A couple years ago, Katie got more than just a bit freaked out by an episode of the classic C.S.I. (read: Vegas Version) in which a woman was stalked by a cable guy that was hiding in and videotaping her from her own attic.  No, she's not afraid of cable installers, but the idea of someone hiding in one of the many deep, dark crevices of your home terrifies her to death.  Closets, attics, cubby holes, you name it, she doesn't like it. 

And I can't say I blame her.  I hear weird stuff in our attic all the time and never know what the hell it is.

This coming week, however, C.S.I. New York will be playing on one of my fears... dolls.  No, not Barbie dolls or that sort of doll.  I'm talking those big, cutesy baby doll sorts of dolls like that vile looking witch on the right.  The ones that have the eyes that open or close depending on if they're upright or laying prone.  Maybe they spit up or make weird noises.  Or, worse yet, they even talk.  That saccharine-sweet, giggly, freakfest of a voice.  And, for some reason, these dolls play a big part in the episode.

But, not watching it is not an option.  I'm addicted to the show.  It's my favorite of the C.S.I. family right now.  Last year, it was only so-so.  But, since Hill Harper became an investigator and they replaced Vanessa Ferlito with Anna Belknap, it became oh-so-much better.  I dig it.  It's one of my few "must-see" shows this season.

I'm screwed.  I'm not sleeping well that night at all.  I just know I'm going to have visions of ceramic-headed evil prancing around pentagrams in my R.E.M. sleep. 

I have a bad feeling Katie and I are going to have nothing but daughters.  And they're going to love dolls.

Oh, the horror.


3-2-1-Contact!

I originally found this meme on Karla's Tales of a Texpatriate and then found an extended version on Kazza's site.  I'm going for the extended one because I like the #1 option. 

You know the rules... if you like it, steal it.  I'm not tagging anyone. 

Here goes...

10 Favorites

  • Favorite color: blue - it was brown when I was a kid
  • Favorite food: tough one... anything Katie makes or Texas Chimichangas from Eduardo's in DeKalb, IL
  • Favorite song: wow... umm... I've got a few... The Police - "King of Pain," Van Halen - "Finish What Ya Started," Soul Asylum - "Black Gold," and Queen - "One Vision"
  • Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
  • Favorite sport: was always baseball, but I've found myself much more passionate about football (the American variety) lately
  • Favorite season: fall - and it was far too short this year.
  • Favorite day of the week: any day that Katie and I both don't have to work
  • Favorite ice cream flavor: chocolate peanut butter
  • Favorite alcoholic drink: tequila - have yet to find a favorite brand, though
  • Favorite word: excellent - does that identify me as a child of the 80s?

9 Currents

  • Current mood: annoyed due to a headache and ridiculous "news" stories, but otherwise okay
  • Current taste: anything, I'm hungry
  • Current clothes: see "5 things you're wearing" below
  • Current desktop picture: see my TUAW screen cap on Flickr
  • Current hair color: what's left is brown
  • Current time: 11:50 a.m.
  • Current surroundings: my office
  • Current annoyance(s): slow computer processing and my pounding headache
  • Current craving: Subway or Jimmy John's... I could use a sub sandwich for lunch today

8 Firsts

  • First best friend: Steve Pope in Lexington, KY
  • First kiss: I don't remember, to be honest; but, for some reason, the memory of a girl named Krys in 8th grade is starting to form in my head (I don't remember if she kissed my cheek or my lips)
  • First screen name: z917892 at NIU that I changed to "gurgi" when I figured out how to log in to the university's student info database
  • First pet: a gerbil named Tippee (he had a white tip on the end of his tail)
  • First piercing: a pencil through the palm of my right hand in first grade (the graphite is still in there)
  • First crush: Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's and Elisabeth Shue of The Karate Kid
  • First CD: Poison - Open Up and Say... Ahhh!!! and The Black Crowes - Shake Your Moneymaker
  • First car: 1984 Chrysler LeBaron... totaled it a month and a half later

7 Lasts

  • Last cigarette: never smoked; never even inhaled save for secondhand
  • Last alcoholic beverage: Blue Moon beer at Old Towne Pub and Tavern last weekend
  • Last car ride: this morning on the way to work
  • Last kiss: this morning from Katie
  • Last movie seen: in theaters - Just Like Heaven; on video - The Living Daylights (I still say Timothy Dalton is my favorite James Bond because he was the closest to Ian Fleming's vision in the books)
  • Last phone call: this morning to the Copy Center on campus
  • Last CD played: OnXRT Live From the Archives, vol. 8

6 Have You Evers

  • Have you ever dated one of your best friends: no; but, like Kazza, I became best friends with one I dated and then married; and she's still my best friend
  • Have you ever broken the law: yes
  • Have you ever been arrested: yes
  • Have you ever skinny dipped: hell no
  • Have you ever been on TV: yes, a furniture store commercial when I was a kid and a Christmas special naming all Santa's reindeer from memory, and I still can - Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder, and Blitzen (amazing how, as an adult, many of them sound more like the names of exotic dancers than Santa's means of holiday transportation)
  • Have you ever been in love: yes, and I'm married to the object of this love

5 Things

  • 5 things you're wearing: grey Russell mock turtleneck, khaki cargo pants, black socks, black Skecher Critics (fave shoes of all time), and Hanes boxer briefs (not a whitey tighty or boxer guy... I believe in the best of both worlds - the coverage of boxers and the security of whitey tighties)
  • 5 things you did yesterday: woke up, worked primary job, worked secondary job, went home, fell asleep with my head on Katie's back between her shoulder blades (until she made me roll over)
  • 5 things you can't live without: Katie, my iPod, my laptop, my digicam, my contact lenses (unfortunately)
  • 5 things you can hear right now: heater, my boss down the hall, the keys clicking on my keyboard, iTunes (iTunes New Music Tuesday podcast), a printer printing in the background somewhere
  • 5 things you do when you're bored: blog, watch movies, read books, surf Web, wander around aimlessly and make those around me quite nervous

4 Places You've Been To

  • Lots of places in America with my faves, outside Chicago, being San Francisco, Kauai, and New Orleans
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Grand Cayman and Belize (very brief day trips)

3 People You Can Tell *Almost* Anything To (in no particular order)

  • Katie
  • Katie
  • Katie (not very original answers, I know; but that's how it is)

2 Choices

  • Black or White: Black
  • Hot or Cold: Cold, but it is also dependent on circumstances; I don't want it to be cold when I'm on a beach, but I don't want it to be hot on Christmas morning

1 Wish

  • I'm going to have to agree with Kazza on this one... I wish that I could fly

If I had a million dollars (or just $29.98)...

MiscbnlstickThis is easily one of the coolest and most novel ideas I have seen from the music industry in a while.

The Barenaked Ladies, one of my wife's favorite bands back in the day, is attempting a new means by which to deliver music to the masses.  In this case, a 128MB USB thumbdrive loaded with the "For The Holidays Album" in mp3 format, live tracks, best of the ad libs (whatever that is), album artwork, a photo gallery, and the all-important "and more."

I'll be perfectly honest with you... I love this idea.  I never listen to CDs anymore and rarely buy them unless it's an album that I must own (I just bought WXRT's "OnXRT Live From the Archives, vol. 8" yesterday... great live recordings with all proceeds going to charity that is not available digitally). 

You get a cool little thumbdrive on which you can either keep the data that they give you or blank it out and use it for whatever you want, you can create a CD of the music to listen to on a stereo at home or in your car, or you can just load the stuff right into your computer's MP3 player.  There just seem to be so many practical purposes for this sort of media presentation.

This can be purchased at the BNL online store, Werkshop, and, supposedly, on Amazon as well although I'm having the damnedest time finding it.  It's a bit pricey at $29.98 (USD) or $35.00 (CAN), but it does have a lot of stuff on it and it's reuseable, which is a lot more than I can say for the CDs that are collecting dust on my shelves.

I love it.

I wish more bands would do it.

I am seriously debating picking this up.

You can't tell me you wouldn't love to own a USB drive that has "Barenaked on a Stick" emblazoned on the side of it, can you?


Let's get it on... (a follow-up report).

You sick, gullible, perverted bastards!

No, not my regular readers.  I love you all.  Even newbies who have come aboard and feel the urge to make a return visit... I loveth thee as well.

That first comment is directed to the multitude of people who have found my site by searching for more information about the e-mail address brave@realmeet.info.

If you recall, this was the "reply to" address that was included in my Ode to Bridgette post a few days ago.  And this e-mail address has garnered me a boatload of hits.  A couple hundred just since Sunday.  Heck, in the 18 hours since midnight GMT (yes, my stats tracker actually uses a Grand Meridian midnight as a starting point for counting daily hits; don't ask me why), 35 of my 85 unique hits (I'm not that popular) have been searching for either that e-mail address or information on the domain realmeet.info.  I've gotten hits from Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Germany, and Mexico... all because of a piece of junkmail!

Why are people that fascinated with this address?  Do they think this is some real proposition?  Do you actually believe that some undersexed chippie named Bridgette is looking to you for carnal refuge?

While I do thank you all for the overinflated hit count, I'm a bit upset that it's not for somewhat more legitimate reasons.  Not like all my new friends from the DVD Forum hosted by the little southeast Pacific island of Niue (despite my theory that this is actually a Swedish site) who are apparently quite enamored of my news of the Friends 10-season box set.  Heck, they quoted me and gave me a direct link in their forum.

Now, could someone please translate what else they've said for me?  They could be badmouthing me to Taipei and back for all I know.


Oh, you were a vampire and, baby, I'm walking dead...

Is it really going against the status quo to do something nice for a person in this day and age?

MiscivvampireLast night, despite leaving work early because I was sick (and am still home sick today), I trekked in to my fave book seller, Anderson's Bookshop, in Naperville for a signing by the famed Anne Rice.  Yes, she of The Vampire Chronicles fame, was in the 'burbs signing books and promoting her new novel, Christ the Lord.

Well, in all honesty, it was more "signing" and less "promoting" ironically enough.  You would think that there would be a big push on the book and her talking about it to lend it some credence.  Alas, she did not.  They had plenty of the book on hand and the requirement was that if you want her to sign copies of her past books, you must purchase a copy of Christ the Lord and have it signed as well.  That was pretty much it for promotional push.  She never spoke word one to the audience as a whole.  Over 200 people showed up and she said squat.  Both Ted Allen and David Sedaris had pretty nice speeches and Q&A sessions.  Heck, Sedaris even read a couple of stories he had just written.  Yet, not even a Q&A for Ms. Rice.  C'est la vie.

If I had known there would be no pre-show, I would've waited away from everyone else in order to keep from spreading my diseased aura to the masses.  However, since we didn't know she wouldn't be speaking until just before she came out, I had positioned myself as close to the front table as possible. 

To anyone who comes down with a sinus infection, my heartfelt apologies; but I was not missing this signing.

My only intent was to pick up her new book for signing.  It sounds interesting as it is Rice's take on the missing years between Christ's childhood and adulthood.  Not quite like Christopher Moore's perception, I'm sure.  But I would think it would be interesting, all the same.

When they finally got around to calling me up in line (I was #166 of 200+ people waiting), I was in line behind a girl roughly my age who had a paperback copy of one of Rice's books to sign.  When she got up to one of the Anderson's staffers, they informed her that it was unlikely that Rice would sign that book without having a copy of CtL to sign as well.  The girl was upset as she had been waiting nearly an hour and a half and was having the book signed for her boss.  The staffer told her to wait anyway as Rice may change her mind. 

I turned to the staffer and asked, "Rice will sign paperbacks so long as you have the new book to sign, too, right?"

She said, "yes."

I pointed to the girl in front of me who was also looking back at me curiously regarding my question as I clearly had no paperbacks to have signed, and I held out my hand to take her copy of the book.  Both realized at the same time what it was I was offering to do and were immediately grateful.  The girl kept saying "thank you so much" while the staffer said "that is so sweet of you."  Both comments were made with a tone of voice that made it readily apparent that what I was doing was not the normal thing you encounter from your fellow human being.

All I was doing was ensuring that her book would be signed.  Is this really all that big a deal?  Is our world really that numb to common decency that making the offer that I did is deemed that grandiose a gesture?

I'm really happy that I was able to make her day the way I did.  But, in all honesty, it just struck me as the decent thing to do.  Nothing more, nothing less.

Now if only I had her e-mail address... she snapped some digital shots and I forgot my camera at home.  Dangit!


I'll be watching you...

Just how safe is your neighborhood?  How many sex offenders live near you?  Do you even really want to know?

I found this link for mapsexoffenders.com off digg.com and, I gotta tell you, I really dug it (yes, pun fully intended).  It is a Web site that uses Google Map technology to show where registered sex offenders live.  If available, the map also shows a photo of the sex offender.

Miscmapsexoffenders

It's a very simple app to use... just punch in an address you want to look near and wait for it to find the names.  The app will place a blue pin point for the address that you used as a reference point and red ones for all the registered sex offenders in the area.

So here's my count...

Geneva, IL (where I live now) - 2 registered in the surrounding area with known addresses; 5 others known in the area, but without details (some are listed because they are in the local jail)

Naperville, IL (where my parents live) - only found one in the immediate area.  Guess the Naper-politicos did their damnedest to keep them out.

McHenry, IL (where my in-laws live) - quite a few in the city with one on the street over from where my father-in-law's business once was (he sold the business a little over a year ago).

Aurora, IL (where I work) - too many to count.  With a few right around the university and several more around local elementary and high schools.  Fun thought, eh?

As freaky as this realization may be, you've gotta admit that this is a brilliant idea.  The easier you make it to access this data, the more informed you will be.  And it can help when it comes to making the decision on where to move your family when the time comes.  I just hope people don't use this sort of service to form vigilante-style groups. 

How bad is your neighborhood?


Let's get it on...

I found this message in my junk mail folder the other day.  Don't ask me why I opened it -- even though I know I mentioned you should never just dismiss all junk mail just out of principle -- as this one easily should have qualified as "dismissable."  But, sometimes, reading these e-mails can be fun in and of itself.  And they can lend themselves to quickie blog posts...

From: Bridgette Cornell <MCMJJBVD@market-web.co.za>
Sent: Friday, November 11, 2005 12:26 PM
To: renatods@hotmail.com
Subject: let's meet comprehensive

Greetings

I am going to stay in the USA for some time may be we can meet each other and have some fun time or may be more. I am looking forward to getting your message to my personal email brave@realmeet.info.

I will reply with a picture

UDo noot oreply to this meRssage. WriteC to me direYctly.

flemish effluvia multiple stubborn asinine dey chime hoff errant pitchblende earthy jitter compacter glycerine teacart speak ipecac addenda bernini incommunicable amity meek brittany decertify spume repel galveston apostle feature auburn pair dadaist aristotelean murray

My dearest Bridgette,

Ohmigod!  You're finally coming the USA and want to stay with me!?!?  Oh, Bridgy darling, I've been so looking forward to this for so long!  Please!  Let's meet each other and have some fun time.  And can I emphasize my desire to further explore the "or may be more" possibilities that exist for us?

I see you have forgiven me for getting married behind your back and for dismissing any of the previous e-mails you have sent.  I apologize.  It's not my doing.  But we must keep our relationship on the QT.  I'm sure you understand, don't you?  If not, both my wife and your Zairean pimp will be hunting our asses down.

Can I ask what that list of random words are that you included at the end of your message?  Are those compatibility criteria?  Holy Cow!  We really were meant to be together!  I can see that now!  We're both stubborn and meek?!?! 

I live for role playing... I have no problem with you calling me Murray while I scream out Brittany during our jittery teacart escapades in Galveston. 

And you're an Aristotelian Dadaist!  I thought I was the only one.  I'm melting into a puddle of gooey ipecac as we speak.  The luck I have!

Out of curiosity, does "incommunicable" refer to your lack of proper speaking and writing skills or to the current status of your smorgasbord of sexually transmitted diseases?  Oh, no matter.

Baby, I can see that you didn't think I would respond.  Hence why you sent this message to renatods@hotmail.com and not directly to me.  But, thankfully, renatods is such a good friend that he/she/it forwarded it on to me.  He/she/it realizes we are meant to be together.  I forgive you for your lack of faith.  Just reply to me directly next time.  You know the address.  I have no hard feelings. 

And can you make sure that the picture you send features you wearing that little number that you had on when we had our last multiple rendezvous in Amity?  Thanks, sweetie.

Faithfully yours,

Bernini


So happy together... (part 3)

Continuing Kevin's roommate chronicles...

Sophomore year, semester two
After Jeremy left and moved into, I think, an apartment with his girlfriend, I played the waiting game through Christmas break until my new roommate showed up.  His name was Joe and he was a girl's ideal mate... tall, dark, and handsome.  I felt rather inadequate in his presence, but, like an old car, I'm sure my personal value may have gone up a buck or two just by rooming with him.  Yep, he was about 6'1", very athletic and into eating healthy, and had the whole slicked-back hair thing going.  Not quite like a bad mafia flick, but still back all the same.

We ran in completely different circles.  Even though this was his first semester at NIU, he already had his cadre of friends because both of his brothers were students there.  We got along pretty well when we were both around but it wasn't one of those ideal roomie situations.  But we survived the semester, was introduced to some good new music, got some workout tips, and he then moved into an apartment with his brothers.

By this time, I was getting a bit fed up with the floor I had been living on for three semesters and took advantage of the offer made to me by a friend to move up to his floor.  I was going to turn 21 the next semester and I felt that living on an alcohol-free lifestyle floor would not be quite as much fun as being able to drink without having to hide it (there are ways around any college rule).

I'm movin' on up... to the east side... of the sixth floor. 

Okay those revised lyrics don't work that well, do they?

I'm going to write up something a bit different tomorrow.  I'll continue with these stories in a couple of days.


So happy together... (part 2)

Sorry everyone.  I really screwed the pooch on the first part of this post.  I meant to click "save as draft" and actually published it instead.  Dang it.  Sorry.

So here's part 2...

Freshman year, semester two
I was in heaven when I left Iowa State and moved in at Northern Illinois University.  Don't get me wrong, ISU as a school was spectacular.  Gorgeous campus, great profs (the few I had), incredible Campus Town.  I just had shit roommates that made the experience unbearable.

So I moved into Grant Towers North 3C in January 1994.  I was going to be living with a guy named Cornelius who was from Rockford.  I had no idea what to expect because there was so little time between the semesters that I never had a chance to contact him.

When I met Cornelius (or "Corn" or "Corny" -- Cor-NAY -- as he insisted everyone called him), I discovered one thing that would have made my ISU roommates seethe... he was black! 

I loved it.  Corn was a great roommate.  He was a quiet guy like I tended to be, but had no racial predisposition whatsoever.  I think he may have been caught a little off guard at first, but that melted away pretty quickly and race never became a concern at all after that.  We shared stuff and talked and watched TV and whatnot.  Every so often, his girlfriend, Vanessa, would sleep over and she and I got along great.

Such a switch from the first semester.  I loved it.  I got along well with his friends and he got along well with my friends.

However, when the end of the year came nigh, he told me that he wasn't surprised that I was white at the beginning of the semester as I had thought.  He was surprised that I existed at all.  He had been under the impression that he was going to get a single room and was just disappointed that he was assigned a roommate.  He was really delicate about it as he knew that it would be easy for me to misinterpret what he was saying.  Then he told me that he was signing up for the room as a single for the next year, which I was fine with.  However, this would mean finding a new roomie.

One of my friends on the floor, Jeremy, asked if I wanted to move into the corner room with him.  The corner room is just that... in the corner connecting the hallways.  The floors of the towers at NIU were triangular in shape with three corners.  One corner was the floor lounge, a second was the R.A.'s room, and the third was another room the same size as the R.A.'s room but intended for two people.  It's pretty much a palace compared to the other rooms.  I said yes, and we got the room.

Sophomore year, semester one
On paper, Jeremy and I couldn't have been a better match as roommates.  Same age, similar likes and dislikes, a love of movies and music, same taste in women (although he had a girlfriend and I did not), and we both worked out together.

It was very cool. 

This was the best year of my undergrad in all honesty.  I had friends on the floor now as I had been here for a semester and no longer was the "new guy."  I was a sophomore and was looked up to by the freshmen.  And we had fun with that status.  Oh, yes we did.  Basically, though, we just had fun.

Jeremy's girlfriend had a roommate that was an interesting girl, to say the least.  She was an attention whore and did some odd things to get people to notice her.  She was a really pretty girl and should not have had to do any of the things she did to get attention, but she did anyway.  I'm not talking that she whored herself out or anything.  Not nearly that self destructive.  Just weird.  For example, she let Jeremy, who was an art major, draw the Guns n' Roses logo on her thigh in marker.  He did a spectacular job and the thing was about six inches round.  I have a photo somewhere.  I dunno, but if I was Jeremy's girlfriend and I saw him drawing on a very cute girl's thigh (and pretty high up to boot), I might be a little weirded out.  Michelle was not.

Another time, this girl (I can't remember her name) walked around the floor all day with nothing but plastic grocery bags as clothes.  Where the idea came from, I have no idea.  But she did it.  Yes, another photo.  And, finally, she decided one day to wrap the entire length of her legs in duct tape.  Not together, but individually.  And she walked around for a while like that until she couldn't stand the lack of flexibility and cut the tape off.  I'm just glad she shaved her legs.  It could've been real ugly.  Oh, and I have photos of this as well.  She was very photogenic.  She lived for it.

One of the funniest things Jeremy and I did involved Byron, the guy in the room next to us (well, one of the rooms next to us; Corn was in the other one).  He was a towering black guy with a heart of gold and a great sense of humor.  We always picked on each other.  He was 6'4", I was 6'0", and Jeremy was something like 5'7", maybe.  So you would think Byron would be a tough guy, but he only acted the part.  Jeremy and I saw right through it and took full advantage of it. 

One day, Byron and his girlfriend were having... er... some "fun" and we could hear them through the wall.  We jumped onto my bed which was on the shared wall with Byron and started listening.  When he was done, we started smacking the wall and yelling, "woo hoo!  Go Byron!  Two minutes is your new record!!!"  He nearly killed us.  His girlfriend was laughing, though.  Byron was a bit more discrete from that point on.

As the semester wore on, however, the friendship between Jeremy and I wore a bit thin.  He and his girlfriend got tired of the parties and the late nights that the rest of the floor liked to keep and were going home every weekend just to get out.  This doesn't exactly make it easy to hang out.  Just before the end of the semester, he announced he was moving out.

Yeah, okay, whatever.

And I spin the wheel again...


So happy together...

I think this post was inspired by both Sandra and Kilax (scroll to November 8) and their obvious love of this sort of thing (still looking forward to some more info about it Sandra), but it's something I've wanted to discuss.  So, why not here?

And that topic is... ROOMMATES!

A dreaded word to many, I know.  But one that is all too prevalent in our lives at some point or another.  And it's not always a bad thing.  Some roommate experiences can be great.

I had a seemingly never-ending, lazy susan of roomies throughout my undergrad and grad years.  I never had a roommate for longer than a year (unless you count Katie although she's my family now and not a "roommate," per se).

Freshman year, semester one
I started my freshman year at Iowa State University in Ames in what could not have possibly been a worse living situation.  I was in a triple room with two guys I hated more than anything I have ever developed a distaste for in my life.  Both were from small towns in northwestern Iowa and their ignorance for anything that was not small-town in nature was quite apparent.  They constantly bitched about all the Indians in their engineering courses (NO!  Not that!) and the occasional black person they came across while on campus (the heavens shudder). 

I wanted to say something to them about it, but our room had become very clique-y.  In other words, it was the two of them against me.  I figured fanning the flame would have not been such a good idea.  So I stayed out of the room as much as humanly possible.

My goal, by about a month into the semester when I knew I was going to transfer out, was to avoid them and stay out of their business.  But at the same time, keep them out of my stuff.  However, if I could get a jab in edgewise on occasion, I would.

The semester I was in Ames was the same time that the Beavis & Butthead Do America movie and its soundtrack came out.  I purchased the soundtrack because it was actually pretty decent.  By this time, we stayed out of each others personal possessions, but this soundtrack was apparently too much temptation for them.  I came home one day from class and heard the CD being played in the room.  As soon as I turned the doorknob, it stopped.  So, what did I do?  I went straight for the CD case and feigned my surprise at it being gone.  Then I went to their CD player and hit "eject."  They were embarrassed and a bit pissed.  The CD remained in my backpack the rest of my time out there.

But my fave was when I was moving out.  Another guy on the floor knew I was leaving and wanted out of his room situation.  He asked if he could move into my part of the room.  I knew my roommates hated him from their limited experience with him, so I said "yes" and made the recommendation to my R.A.  The final turn of the screw.


Come on, get down with the sickness...

Today, I'm going to try blogging on a theme.  And today's theme is "sickness."  Interpret that as you will; soon you'll discover that I have loosely interpreted that one as well.

Katie
Misckleenex...is home sick today.  She rarely ever gets sick and tends to work through any minor illness that she gets.  So when she actually stays home from work, you know it's serious. 

Judging by how she sounds and feels, she may even stay home tomorrow.  We shall see.  It's an annual thing for her to get a sinus infection that evolves into full-blown bronchitis when the weather starts shifting.  This is Illinois and the weather here tends to shift a lot.  Thankfully the infection is a one-off deal.

I wanted her to stay home yesterday because she was pretty bad even then.  But she couldn't find a replacement at work.  I felt horrible for her and still do today.  If I didn't have so much crap to do at work, I likely would've tried to stay home with her so I could take care of her.

But, staying at home without me is better than her still going in to work.  Until she told me she actually went out in the garage and was staining some boards for our entryway.  Girl!  Lay down and relax.  You are supposed to try to stay warm and inactive.  Don't go out in that frigid garage!

Marina's Pandemic Podcast
This is one of those utterly ridiculous news items.  I was listening to Adam Curry's Podfinder Podcast this morning on the way to work and one of his higlighted p'casts was Marina's Pandemic Podcast.  Basically, this woman is giving advice and offering professional outlooks at what she deems to be the impending pandemic of Avian Bird Flu.

All I've got to say about this is "oh great."  Yet another loon buying in to this and blowing it out of proportion.  I know some of you might think I'm nuts.  But this lady is saying that we should've been planning for this for a few years now by stockpiling dry goods and canned food and water because we will be homebound under quarantine for anywhere from a few months to a few years. 

I'm sorry, but I just don't believe it's going to be as bad as everyone is making it out to be.  They're likening it to the Black Plague and the Spanish Flu, both of which thrived in eras or populations that didn't have the access to vaccinations and other medicines that can cure it.

Ironically enough, there have been liberal media and conspiracy theorist reports that a cure (or maybe it's just a helpful deterrent) for Avian Bird Flu called oseltamivir (trade name: Tamiflu) does exist and is sold by Hoffman-La Roche.  Tamiflu was originally developed by Gilead, a company that was, in 1997, chaired by current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.  Hmmm... Republican politicians linked to corporations that are intricately tied to the current affairs of the world seems to be a running theme these days, no?  (Dick Cheney and Halliburton for those of you not making the connection).

Oh well, I'm only a part-time conspiracy theorist.  There was a second shooter on the grassy knoll, dammit!

Rafael Palmeiro
MiscpalmeiroHow does he tie into my theme of "sickness," you might ask?  I argue that he is a cancer on the sport of baseball that needs to be excised, once and for all.  Yet, despite standing in front of the U.S. Congress and declaring "I have never used steroids. Period" he has not been found guilty of perjury even though he failed a steroid test earlier in the year.

In a statement yesterday, Palmeiro seemed to dispute his own earlier testimony by saying "I have never intentionally taken steroids" [my emphasis].

So, let me see if I understand this correctly.  Just because he decided to play a game of CYA ("Cover Your Ass") and declare that his positive steroid test was possibly the result of a bad vitamin injection, he's getting off on potential perjury charges.  The guy steadfastly declared that he never took steroids, "period."  There is very little room for interpretation in that comment. 

Looks like spin-doctoring is not just for politicians anymore, eh kids?

Blockbuster Video
Yes, another loose interpretation of "sickness" that also falls in my cancers-that-need-to-be-excised category.

Many media outlets are reporting that Blockbuster Video is struggling for existence right now.  They are losing money hand over fist and may have to file for bankruptcy.  Yay!!!

I have always hated them because of their late fee policies and, even though they "eliminated" these practices, I still don't rent from them.

Maybe this will mark the return of the ol' mom & pop video stores.  Oh, how I miss them.  They may not have had the selection of a Blockbuster or a Hollywood Video, but they were so much nicer to rent from.  Good people who love what they do instead of the feeble corporate mentality and non-existent customer service of a market giant.

Yes, some of these stories relied on a very loose interpretation of the word "sickness," but it worked for me.  Did it work for you?  Please don't expect me to do this all that often.  "Blogging on a theme" was fun once.  Once.  (That was for you, Pauly D).

Get well, Katie!  I love you.


Those crocodile tears are what you cry...

Just a quick note.  Sorry it won't be longer...

I am suffering extreme musical withdrawal right now.  It really hurts, too.

As a quick note, I do not trust the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to actually put out good music.  I don't think they know what they're doing (and don't get me started on policies they have initiated).  So I rely on friends and the library to give me ideas as to what I should try to listen to.

Yep, the library.  I check out CDs religiously from my local library.  But they don't all come from my local library.  In fact, very few of them do.  My library is part of a rather extensive Chicago suburban interlibrary loan association.  And I take full advantage of it.  I go online to my library's website and look up anything and, nearly, everything and place holds on it.  Then I just wait for the CDs to come rolling in.

However, the beginning of this month marked the start of a two-month period in which my library's online catalog goes offline.  They are "upgrading" (so they say) and joining a new library association.  And the process will take until the new year.

How am I going to get my music in the meantime?!?!  I need music!!!  Desperately!!!  Please help.

I need suggestions for albums that you consider "must hear."  Give me some ideas.  iTunes only helps me so much.  And I'd prefer to rely on people and not algorithms.

Help.


But you've gotta let me know... should I stay or should I go?

A little surprise was awaiting us on our doorstep last night.

Back at the end of September, I chronicled the problems we were having with our phone line at home.  Everything was connected to it and we were receiving little to no signal from it whatsoever, remember?  Well, as it turns out, the problem was actually our TiVo.  We had an electrical storm earlier in the month overnight that fried the internal modem of the TiVo causing it to try to constantly remain connected to the remote host.  This was killing our attempts to use the phone line for its primary purpose... to call out and receive calls.

I dealt with the problem with TiVo initially.  I called them up and explained the problem.  The guy I was working with said it was no problem and that they would send us out a new unit immediately and he would also include instructions and shipping labels to send our old unit back.  Then I told him we had purchased the unit at Best Buy less than a month before and he said, "Great!  Take the unit back to Best Buy and swap it with them.  Saves you and us a lot of time and hassle!  I'll just put a note on your account now that you are swapping units with them and that you will only need to transfer your TiVo box registration."

We went to Best Buy, got the replacement box, hooked it up, transferred the registration, and have been happily using it ever since.  That was that.  Or so I thought.

When Katie and I come home, we always enter through our house through the door in the garage, which makes sense since we park in the garage.  So we have to remember to physically take the time to check our front entry to see if packages were left out there.  It's rare that we actually get packages, but you never know.

For whatever reason, I checked there last night after coming home and I found a big orange and black box sitting on a plant stand to the side of our door.  It was a 40-hour TiVo box.  And there was a shipping label with our name on it.

I was so confused.  The situation had been resolved... hadn't it?

MiscackbarI was afraid to open the thing, thinking it may have been some sort of trick or sting operation.  A Fark-worthy, Admiral Ackbar-esque warning kept sounding in my head... "It's a trap!"

I called Katie at work and told her about it, she convinced me to open it thinking it may be an early birthday gift from someone or that explanatory paperwork may have been in the box.  I did so.

Well, it certainly isn't a gift from someone as the box contained nothing but the unit wrapped in plastic with the ends covered in the injection-molded styrofoam blocks.  That's right... no instruction manuals, no cables (not even a power plug), and no remote.  This was clearly intended as a replacement unit for the old one.  Just unplug all the old cables and stick them in this one and send the old one back.

However, there was no paperwork in the box, either.  The CS rep I spoke with said that any replacement unit would have instructions and pre-paid labels for shipping.  Nada.

Obviously, this is a complete "slipped through the cracks" sort of situation.  At least, I hope it is.  Because if it would have taken them over a month to send the replacement unit, I would have been a bit pissed to say the least.  That's not exactly customer service.  It's as if the repair order was canceled, but they forgot to notify a department that was waiting for confirmation to ship the unit.  When they never received it, they figured maybe they should just ship it out anyway.

Do I keep it?  Do I send it back?

We've been wanting a second TiVo to hook up in the living room so we have one connected to the cable box and can record the secondary shows we have that interfere with some of our season passes on the primary TiVo as well as recording movies and shows that are on our extended cable plan.

The way I figure it, TiVo should know that we have this box.  They sent it to us.  They should have record of it.  They know we resolved the problem we called about when we transferred our subscription registration to the new unit we got at Best Buy.

I would think all they can do is call me on it when I call to register this "new" unit.  Obviously, I have to register it to activate it.  There's no way around it, right?  So, if they uncover the error, it would happen during this registrationm, wouldn't it?

Should I just try to do it anyway, for kicks?  If it works, I keep it; if it doesn't, I send it back?  Sound reasonable?

I know, I know.  Why would I talk about it on my blog of all places?  Maybe it's because I'm giving TiVo yet another outlet by which to discover their error.  Maybe it's my non-Catholic, Catholic Guilt kicking in.  And please don't say, "if you're asking this question, then you already know the answer."  I hate that. 

Maybe the ol' Admiral is right and it is a trap... or a test... or something else all too sinister.

Or maybe I'm just reading in to it too much.

Maybe I will hook it up and try to register it.  I'll let them call me on it.


Wake me up when this music ends...

Some snippets for you this morning...

Sport's Illustrated:
Tell me what's wrong with this picture...

Miscsisoxlarge

This is the cover to last week's Sports Illustrated.  And I am quite disturbed by it. 

Take a careful look at it.  The main image is that of the Indianapolis Colts' Quarterback Peyton Manning and New England Patriots' Quarterback Tom Brady who will be facing off against each other tonight in Monday Night NFL action.

Okay, that's cool and all.

Miscsisoxsmall_1But, why is it that the World Series is relegated to nothing more than a tiny little circular call-out in the top right corner of the page?  I don't care how big a match up the Monday Night game is, we are talking about the flippin' World Series!  The championship series of Major League Baseball!  This is what the 162 games of the major league season was building up to and it gets a corner of the cover in lieu of a regular season NFL match up!  And it was the announcement of the winning team!  A team that hasn't won the Series in 88 years!

SI... you should be ashamed of yourself.  I'm not a Sox fan, but they deserve more respect than this. 

I was looking forward to a nice big cover photo that I would be proud to hold on to as a keepsake. 

This cover is barely fit to grace my recycle bin.

Culver's To Go:
I am an idiot.  Yep, that's me, your fair blogger, admitting that he's an idiot.  Why, you might ask?  I pulled into the drive-thru at Culver's yesterday to get some custard for Katie and I.  When the kid came on the system asking me what I wanted, I said, "a quart of red raspberry to go."

"To go."  Yep.  That's what I said.

WHAT THE HELL ELSE WAS I GOING TO DO IN A DRIVE-THRU?!?!?  EAT IN?!?!?

I'm a moron.

Failed Dream Recall:
I woke up with quite a start this morning at about 3:30 due to a fairly twisted dream I was having.  But what's truly killing me is the fact that it was a very vivid dream that I can't remember that well anymore.

The dream started with me waking up to go to work and it was still pretty dark outside.  However, I looked out the window anyway and could see that we had our first snowfall. 

For whatever reason, I wanted to take a picture of the snow so I went to grab my camera which I had left in my truck in the garage.  As I grabbed it, I heard another pick-up truck pull into my drive way and saw the headlights from it shining through the little arced windows in the garage door. 

I couldn't possibly fathom who it could be so I decided to try to sneak a peek through the corner of one of the windows.  It was a truck just like mine driven by someone I had never seen before.

When the garage door started raising, I bolted to the door back in to the house.

All I remember beyond this is that the "person" in the truck, despite the cramped quarters of our garage was able to pull in and walked right through the door into our house.  Yes, that's right... right through it.  While it was closed.

I know there was much more to this dream than that.  But I can't remember it for the life of me.  I do remember that when I woke up after the dream, I wanted to blog about it while my recall was perfectly intact.  Shame I didn't.  But it was just so damned early and I was sooooo comfortable in bed despite my rapidly beating heart.

Damned Earworms!:
Even worse than dreaming about a haunting at our house, I woke up with an earworm that still isn't gone.  It's that damned "Wake Me Up When September Ends" song by Green Day.  I hate it!  I hate it!  I hate it!

Isn't this song dead yet?


Shootin' dirty pool, spewin' dirty lies...

$20 + 3 hours = $100.

That would be the equation that defined my night last night.  And, no, I wasn't selling myself on the street corner or the resulting dollar amount would have been a negative, I'm sure.

I played poker last night.  And, for the first time in my life, I won.  The whole enchilada.  It's MINE!  Gimme!

MiscpokerchipsI don't know how or why, but the cards were on my side last night with six friends playing Texas Hold 'Em.  It was so pretty.  I won the first two hands of the game pretty big.  People were betting large and I won them both.  It became a bit more conservative after that and I wound up not winning or losing too much in the next eight to ten hands.  Then I took a few more of the next several.

As the stakes increased and the blinds kept doubling (roughly every 20 minutes), I kept playing it down.  I took only a couple here and there, but enough to keep me in the game.  With four guys left, I was actually number three in terms of chips.  But a couple of big hands, which I won with a flush and a full house, made me the chip leader.  I went back down a bit after that and lost my leader status.

Then came the final hand.  Three of us still in it.  I had a 2-3 suited and decided to stay in.  Normally, logic would have dictated that I fold.  Why did I stay in?  Because the last four or five hands had been won with absolute squat.  Pair here, two pair there.  Nothing big.  Plus, I was once again the chip leader.  Even if both of the remaining guys went all in (which they did), I would easily have it covered and enough to still hold my own against them should another hand be played.  I figured I'd play it.  And the flop had a 2 and a 3.  Oh so pretty.

Most of my bets were pretty conservative.  I raised only a few times here and there and not a whole heckuva lot as my confidence isn't quite where I would like it to be.  And I had a few friends groaning here and there that I didn't just go all in on a couple or raise the stakes higher.  But I was afraid of losing the person I was betting against.  With how conservative my betting was up to that point, I would've thought a big bet would make the person think I either had a great hand (which I did in some cases) or that I was bluffing like a mutha (which I am seemingly incapable of doing... gotta work on that).

I've never won a game of poker in which we had real money going around.  No, it wasn't a lot of cash, but it was certainly a bolster to my card-playing ego.  Especially when you consider that I'm not much of a card player.  I took it and ran.  Well, not literally.  I did stick around for a few more limit games that we just bought in as we went.  Lost about ten bucks there.  No big deal.  But it felt great having that small wad of 20s in my back pocket as I drove home to Katie.


Too much, too much...

I feel that human beings need to have their internal clocks reset a bit both by God and by Mother Nature (unless you consider them to be one and the same).

Why?

Because I feel it's unfair that: a) when you don't get enough sleep, you're tired beyond all comprehension; and, b) when you try to make up for that lack of rest on a given day by sleeping in, you often times wind up even more tired than you were before.

That's just not right.  I don't think we should be punished for too much sleep.  We should feel like we're floating on clouds... soaring through the open skies... dancing in fields with dandelions 'twixt our toes... [take your pick of these similes or create one of your own].

I am so exhausted right now that I'm in pain.  We went to bed the normal time last night, but I woke up this morning, after having slept an extra two and a half hours, with a raging headache (no, I did not drink last night), a case of dragon breath that would make an ogre turn and run, and... well... I just wish I didn't sleep that extra time.  Let's just leave it at that.

I've been awake for about an hour now.  Katie has yet to wake up.  When she does, I have an inkling that she's going to feel roughly the same as I do.  And with one helluva case of bedhead to accompany it (she sleeps all over the place and her hair shows it).  I guess that's one thing I should be thankful for.  Yes, I am a restless sleeper, but with the cease-and-desist order that genetics has imposed on my hairline, I never have to worry about bedhead.

Silver lining?  Nahhh...


Tell me am I wrong?

Select a timely article from an important business publication. The local newspaper does not qualify. For the most part, no daily publication qualifies (although The Wall Street Journal is an exception). Business Week, Forbes and so forth are good choices. Do not repeat usage of a publication in submitting articles during this semester. Each should be drawn from a different publication.

With these instructions, I and my fellow MBA students were sent forth into the world to uncover two articles per week to summarize as part of our homework. 

For the first week, our articles were to revolve around the topics of "leadership" and "competency modeling" (if you are not familiar with the latter, do not ask me to explain it as I'm still attempting to understand it as well).  Looking online for these topics can be a chore when you don't really have a firm grasp either of where to take an idea as broad and generic as the former or how to define the latter to know if an article is truly related or just "related" in the way that web search crawlers make it.

So I decided to hit my local Borders and check the periodical racks for related articles.  The only ones I could find were, of course, not in decently priced mags like Forbes and Money (~$2-5/issue), but, instead, in such "high-scale" rags like Harvard Business Review ($17.99/issue).  Since I couldn't fathom spending nearly $20 on a single article (that's my Revenge of the Sith DVD fund!! - no I have not picked it up yet), I decided to hit Google one more time.

The instructions listed above say nothing about online sources, right?  No qualifiers at all.  And if there is any "news" entity that deserves qualifiers, that would certainly be the Web.  So many pseudo/quasi/demi publications just spring up out of the shallow end of the credibility pool these days that it's hard to know what to trust and what not to.  So I decided to e-mail my prof and ask for some clarification.

My initial e-mail to Prof:

I’ve got a pretty good idea from the BlackBoard information of what constitutes an “appropriate” article in print. But what about on the Web? What Web sites are good for obtaining articles? What criteria should we use to determine good v bad?

I’m curious because I found what I feel is a pretty interesting article on nwlink.com all about how to implement Competency Modelling within an organization. Seeing as how last week was the first time I’d ever heard of C.M., I figure I need to start with the basics.

Would this be appropriate? How do I determine appropriateness in the future?

His reply:

Is the article credible, relevant, fresh and would it be meaningful for your classmates? If you're not sure about the credibility issue, find other articles to support or refute it. Hope that helps.

Yeah, gee, thanks.  That helps a lot.  Still doesn't help me know what is "credible."  Heck, if I didn't already know better, an article on leadership style from The Onion qualifies because, without the prior knowledge that I have of this wonderful parody rag, I could just find the article as a standalone on the Web and not realize that it's not real.  Are there any sources that you think are really good for online business news?  Obviously, I can't go ahead and use something like Yahoo Business News or Reuters Business News because you already declared that "daily" news sources don't count (or, at least, I would think that caveat would carry over from print to web).  Given this confusion, how would I know if the articles I find to "support or refute it" are credible in and of themselves?

My follow-up e-mail:

I'm just wondering because my interpretation of "credible" may be wholly different than yours and you give the grades, not me.  Just playing it safe.

That comment about the grades was intended to be cutesy and a jab at his almighty power over us lowly students.

His reply:

Okay. You're becoming compulsive. Do the best you can and we'll fine tune it. That's what "education" is all about. See ya tomorrow night.

"Compulsive"?  Excuse me?  Don't go insulting medical conditions.  I realize this is what "education is all about."  But it's also about being willing to admit you need help and then asking for the necessary assistance, isn't it?  Doesn't the "real world" applaud such initiative?  I would think that asking for clarification is better than doing it wrong and then having to redo it (if we'd even be given that opportunity).  In the "real world" that's called "inefficiency."

I'm taking an eight-week class.  That is a ridiculously short amount of time in which to learn this stuff and definitely not long enough for us to be able to take the time to wade through this ambiguity. 

Am I being compulsive?  Please let me know.  I'm dying to know.


All is Full of Love.

One of the blessings (and, occasionally, "curses") of becoming one with the Blog Borg, is that you not only wind up writing a lot more, but you also read a heckuva lot more than you ever did before.

Ever since I started using TypePad for blogging, I've been writing daily.  In fact, since the beginning of June, I've only missed one day of blogging.  With my old static HTML blog, there was only one month out of seven years in which I posted every day; and that was a chore.  What I'm doing now equates, in my book, to ridiculous dedication to the fine art of blogging.  It's sick.  Plain and simple.  But I do it because I love it.

But, even more than writing, I love the communities that you wind up becoming a part of when you blog and people start to discover you and vice versa.  Via links on people's sites and in comments, I have met a bunch of new people and started to read a ton more blogs than I ever thought I would.

Right now, I'd like to take a moment to recognize some of those blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis.  No blushing.

MiscdavepimpI've gotta start with Blogography.  There's just no way around it.  Dave is one of the best and he is also the one that convinced me to come over to the Dark Side and ditch my static HTML ways in favor of Blogware.  Dave is prone to talking about his general observations of life and pop culture and does so with a great sense of humor and insight.  Plus, he's got some of the greatest photographs and self-made cartoons which really bring his stories to life.

Another personal favorite of mine is A Mind Awake.  Johnny C is a good guy and quite humorous to boot.  You never know what to expect on his site and it is that sense of mystery that keeps me coming back.  Plus, we're eerily alike in more ways than either of us would probably want to admit.  And you just gotta love the Super Mario Bros banner on his site. 

I would be remiss to not talk about SJ at Chronic Listaholic.  You know all the memes I do?  Many of them wind up coming from her.  That's her entire site... lists... hence the name.  But what I like about her site is that she tends to take them a step further and add some custom questions to each meme to make it a bit more interesting.  Right now, she's taking a month off as she participates in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  If you'd like to follow her progress, you can do so at YoMoMyLi ("Your Money Or My Life").

Run Jen Run is a relative newcomer to my Befriend Me list.  Jen is a fellow Chicagoan (although she is Chicago proper) who has a very fun way of presenting her life in blog form.  And, damn if her photo contests don't just rock.  I have yet to win one, but, so help me, I shall!!!!

Would you like to read something with a little bite?  Then check out mrjerz.org.  Actually, he's a bit more multifaceted than most of us as he not only maintains a blog, but also has a great Podcast that I listen to on a regular basis.  And, remember, just because it has "Pod" in the name doesn't mean that you need an iPod to listen to his Podcasts.  You can tune in right on your computer.

I don't remember how I found Humanity Critic, but I'm glad I did.  Talk about a man with issues.  On any given day, he might discuss fantasies he has had, fights he was in, or reminisce about the good ol' days.  But his brutal honesty is completely refreshing and I think his therapist thinks so, too, as it sounds like s/he refers to his site for some of the truth in the matter as well.

Two other recent additions to my Befriend Me list are Sandra at InternalMonoblog and Alissa at I Found A Fatal Flaw in the Logic of Love.  I could easily have dedicated a paragraph to each, but they are both such good friends and seemingly inseparable (in a virtual sense), I felt it more appropriate to list them together.  I'm sure they'd both agree.

Finally, a new member to the blogosphere is kilax at ilaxSTUDIO.  Kim is an architecture student at Iowa State and her site does a great job of displaying her flair for design.  It's quite unique. Typically, one of the curses of being a great designer is that you have no ability to express yourself in words (be they written or spoken).  Kim has shattered that perception.  Plus, I think we've got her hooked to the point where she's posting nearly every day.

While the bloggers listed above are my most common reads and the sites I always wind up visiting first, they are not the only ones I read.  There are several other, more commercial sites I read on a daily basis.  Plus, I have a list of sites that I've just picked up on very recently.  This list includes Shane at Nickerblog; Magazine Man at Somewhere on the Masthead; Paul at Words for my Enjoyment; and the granddaddy of blogging, Wil Wheaton (currently in exile from his usual site).

Yeah, so this is a bit of a cop-out post.  I apologize.  But, these are great reads and I wanted to share them.  Better luck tomorrow, I hope.

(November 23, 2005 - For whatever reason, I went back and re-read this post and discovered that I did a horrible job of proofing before I posted.  For this, I apologize.  For this post reappearing in your RSS aggregators as though it's a new post, I apologize again.  But, I'm a perfectionist and needed to go back and right my wrongs.)


I smell a lawsuit.

Ah, more e-mail fun this morning.

Chavez v. Netflix, Inc.
If you were offered the opportunity to jump in on a class action settlement bandwagon, would you do so?

I received an e-mail from Netflix today detailing a settlement in a class action lawsuit against them by some bonehead named Chavez who claimed that "Netflix failed to provide 'unlimited' DVD rentals and 'one day delivery' as promised in its marketing materials."

Umm... okay.  Whatever, dude.  Maybe you're just strange, but I seem to get an unlimited number of rentals so long as I return them on time.  And, almost all of my rentals have been one-day delivery as promised.  A few have ventured beyond that time span, but I would be more prone to blaming the U.S. Postal Service than Netflix.

Well, it would seem that Netflix is settling it all by providing a free one-month upgrade in service to anyone who wants to take part in it.  This means that I would be bumped up from a three-at-a-time plan to a four-at-a-time plan.  And only for one month. 

Considering how little I've been watching movies lately due to the new TV season, I don't think that fourth DVD would get much action other than sitting on my turntable with the rest while I wait for a window of opportunity in which to watch it.

In this case, I don't think I will be participating.  It's such a minimal payout and I've otherwise been very happy with the Netflix service.  I have no bone to pick with them.  If it was Blockbuster Video, I'd be all over it regardless of how minimal the payout was simply because I hate them and they've screwed me over enough that I would relish the payback. 

What would you do?  What have you done in the past?

But this was not the only interesting e-mail I found this morning...

Celebrity Art Exhibit Friday at Crobar
MiscanthonyquinnI'm not sure if you're at all familiar with Crobar.  It's a bar and nightclub in downtown Chicago that has a bit of a reputation (or, at least, it had a bit of reputation) as a leather bar and... well... if it helps paint a mental picture, former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman frequented the place.  Getting the idea?  I thought you might.

Perhaps my mental perception is a bit off-base.  If so, to the Crobar crew, I apologize.

This e-mail was actually delivered to my junkmail folder because it came from a name that the Hotmail system didn't recognize.  I don't even recognize it nor do I have any idea how I would have ended up on a Crobar mailing list.  The potential explanations terrify me.  I'd really rather not go into them.

The exhibit is called, interestingly enough, "Hard Men."

You'd think I would have stopped reading right there, wouldn't you?

I didn't.

It was, thankfully, followed up with this description...

An Exhibition of Art by Charles Bronson, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, Anthony Quinn, Sly Stallone, Evel Knievel, Robert Mitchum

Curated by Baird Jones
Friday, Nov. 4, 2005, 10:00 - midnight
Crobar Nightclub, 530 w 28th St. (between 10th and 11th Aves.)

In all honesty, it sounds a bit intriguing.  I'd love to see what Anthony Quinn would call art.  Muhammad Ali... not so much.  It might wind up being a recycled cardboard box.

“Starfighter” Video Game Led to Youth Saving Galaxy
Okay, this one is not an e-mail but a Bloglines link to a Digg submission regarding a Daily Gaming News article (catch all that?).  All I can say is bwahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

I guess you have to know The Last Starfighter to understand.


Tell me no lies...

Overheard from Trick or Treaters...

[in response to my noting that it was rather wet outside] "Ah, who cares.  It's Halloween."
'Nuff said.

[in reaction to my neighbor's door being answered by her dog] "That's a big dog." 
Rather Sandlot-ish, wouldn't you say?

[as one TnT'er tripped over a pumpkin] "Wooooaaahhhh!"
Followed by *kerthunk*

"Thank you"
Who says teenagers can't have manners?

"Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat; if you don't, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear."
Ah, the classics endure.  I wonder if she realizes how awkward it is for a 30-year-old man to hear a 6-year-old girl threaten to pull down his underwear?

Interesting Observations Made...

Even though teenagers may want to still trick or treat, I think they realize that they are beyond their candy-grubbing prime.  Evidenced by two teenagers who came to my door dressed in goth rock clothes (not a costume - probably what they wear to school any given day) with some make up and hair dye (I hope these parts were solely costume in nature) who had shame-ridden grins on their faces as they sheepishly proclaimed "trick or treat" and actually said "thank you."

Telemarketers don't even take a break for Pagan holidays.  You would think being the spawns of Satan that they are, they would worship appropriately.  Bastards.  (yes, I know "Pagan" doesn't necessarily equate to "Satanic"... deal with it).

TnT'ing ends way too early in the evening.  25 of 28 of the TnT'ers that came by did so before 7:00 p.m.  What fun is that?

Even when TnT'ing ends, there will still be stragglers.  Three of them came by after 9:00 p.m.  Nobody in between.  I can hear The Voice from Field of Dreams... "Turn on your porchlight, they will come."

MiscscreamRegardless of how cliche Edvard Munch's "The Scream" may have become in its use as a Halloween costume (damn you Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven), it can still be pretty freaky seeing that mask stare back at you through a glass stormdoor at a little after 9:00 p.m.

Best Costumes...

Little kid dressed as Jango Fett (Star Wars coolness).

Kid who couldn't decide which Chicago team he liked and wore bits and pieces of several uniforms.

KGB assassin dressed as a milkman (oops... sorry... I was watching The Living Daylights as TnT'ers came by).

Overall...

28 Trick or Treaters total.  Woo hoo!!!  I can now put to rest the specter of failed Halloweens past and look forward to the new homeowner era of Trick or Treating!!!  I'm a happy camper.