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33 posts from March 2006

Get over it, get over it...

Apparently, I'm in quite a bitter, yet poetic, mood today.

An Ode to the Dipshit at the Gym Yesterday...

You came up to the counter last night,
With a tone full of venom and spite.
You got in my face,
You fucking headcase.
Now I may string you up like a kite.

© 2006 Kevin Apgar

Here's a tip, jackass... when your "favorite" treadmill is on the fritz, USE ANOTHER ONE! Or, better yet, take advantage of our 65-degree weather and run outside.

I hate stupid people.

But I love limericks.


Steamy windows, zero visibility...

An ode to Microsoft Windows...

Together we work, day in and day out
This situation makes me want to shout.

You freeze, you crash, you enrage me daily,
Yet your makers sing your praises gaily.

Some IT departments, stubborn they are,
Are their choices made while drunk in a bar?

They prefer the low-priced licensing rates,
Don't they realize they're tempting the fates?

Price equals quality, this much rings true,
I've declared this fact til my face turns blue.

Invest in quality, shoot for long term,
Make a wise choice and stand by it quite firm.

There's another choice, a better O.S.,
One that makes you scream aloud, "OH HELL YES."

The name's OSX and it's made by Mac,
And once you've gone Mac, there's no going back.

© 2006 Kevin Apgar

I'm done with you Windows. You and all the errors and crashes that you so readily propagate. My fury is at its peak. I want out... but I can't. Work dictates I deal with this hell on a daily basis.

I wish I knew how to quit you.


Oh, I have double vision...

I just found an article via Digg.com that I think is going to make the Nintendo DS the de facto portable gaming system in its quest to defeat the Sony PSP.

Miscdsopera According to GoNintendo.com, a web browser application is being developed for launch in December. Many DS users know that the system already comes with built-in wireless connectivity so that you can play online with friends or others via a wireless network. Well, now you'll be able to browse the Web using it.

I don't own a DS yet and I wasn't sure if I wanted one or not. For months, I had been weighing the pros and cons of both that and the PSP. My brother got a PSP for Christmas from his future in laws and, while it's nice, I just don't see anything that justifies the $250 price tag. And, even though the DS looks kinda cool, I wasn't sure it would really offer me much that I wanted. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I would be happy enough to just get a Gameboy Advanced SP.

Yeah. Not anymore.

First, I read in my Nintendo e-mails (I started getting them when I registered my GameCube) that a bundle pack of the DS with Mario Kart DS was being released around Christmas and I wanted one something fierce. I decided to hold off. Then I read Dave's take on the pack and realized how bad I wanted one. Of course, by the time I got to the store, it was gone. I did not realize that it was a limited-time offer.

Damn.

Recently, I read about how they were going to release a juiced-up version of the original Super Mario Bros. for the DS closer to this summer. I told Katie that I'm not missing out again. SMB is probably my all-time favorite video game and if they are putting out a new one, I gotta play it. And, if they release a combo pack of the DS and SMB-DS together, it's mine.

Okay, it was more like I asked her very nicely, being the budget overseer that she is, to let me buy one should it come out. She knows I've been jonesing for this thing and she's cool with it.

So, yeah, I'm a full-on DS supporter even without being an owner just yet. And this Opera-based browser only makes me that much more a fan. To be able to blog from my DS would just be cool. A bit inconvenient, perhaps. But I've seen and read about people blogging from Blackberries and cellphones so how much worse can it really be?

Better not tell Katie that last bit about blogging from it. She may change her mind. ;-)

Let's just tell her I want to school Dave in Mario Kart.


Voulez vous coucher avec moi? Ce soir...

This means war!!!

Anybody who is married or regularly shares a bed with a second person knows that there is an inherent adjustment period when going from sleeping in your own bed to sharing one, right? It can be difficult and the amount of time necessary to make the adjustment varies from couple to couple.

Well, Katie and I adjusted relatively quickly to it.

However, sharing a bed and sharing blankets are two. entirely. different. things.

For a long time, I was always more of a sleep-on-top-of-the-blanket kind of guy. This was a problem for Katie because when I'm on top of the blankets, I'm effectively pinning them down and keeping her from being able to move... a sort of bed-top straitjacket.

So she eventually weened me into becoming a sleep-under-the-blanket guy. This has it's own set of problems entirely. Now we are engaged in a bedroom civil war over blanket territoriality. She says I hog it, I maintain she does. She complains that I grab an edge and roll to the outside of the bed, I insist that she cocoons herself.

At some point, we reached a bit of a middle ground. Even though I'm now a blanket guy, I can get away with just a sheet. It's something covering me, and that's good enough.

However, she recently started violating this armistice by kicking the sheet, which she apparently is not fond of sleeping with, down to the foot of the bed. She does this completely unconsciously. She'll start out sleeping with the sheet and blanket up; but, by the time she wakes up, the blanket is still there while the sheet is nowhere to be found. And I'm left freezing my tookis (sp?) off.

The other night, in a final act of symbolic defiance, she intentionally kicked the sheet off me and down to the foot of the bed, grabbed the whole comforter, and cackled like a witch on speed.

Oh, it's on, baby girl!

MiscwarroomI turned on my nightstand light and got out of bed, and, immediately, her eyes expanded in fear of the unknown. I tucked the sheet back in the bottom of the mattress. Then I tucked in the comforter. She latched her hands on the top edge of the comforter as I maneuvered into a flanking position on her side of the bed, repositioned her arms down by her side, and tucked the sheet and blanket around her in a virtual mummification.

Katie: "Noooooooooo! I won't be able to move!"

Me: "I could strap you down like a mental patient."

"But what if I have to go to the bathroom?"

"Hold it til morning."

"Noooooooooooo!!!"

I jumped back in bed and shut off the light quite satisfied with the results of my militaristic strategery.

Schwarzkopf's got nothin' on me.


C'mon baby, light my fire...

WARNING:
A few paragraphs down the page, I'm going to ask you to click a link to iFilm. There you will find a video that I find incredibly funny. While there is no nudity in this video, there is pervasive porn-themed language. If you are easily offended, well, you're probably frequenting the wrong blog in the first place (but that's a whole other issue altogether), but I would avoid clicking this link while simultaneously eliminating me from your bookmarks and/or Bloglines subscription.

Don't feel bad about it, I would probably do the same thing... but I'm not easily offended.

WARNING #2:
I take no responsibility whatsoever for permanent or temporary mental scarring that this video may cause. I loved it. Doesn't mean you will.

MiscpornwarsThis is a video that a friend e-mailed to me. It was absolutely hilarious and I felt compelled to share it with you.

What do you get when you mix the porn industry and the Star Wars films? Porn Wars. Odd bedfellows, I know - pun fully intended. But this just might make your day.

And I would like to say that, while this is low budget, the choreography is great! But what would you expect from two "actors" who, all things considered, really should be quite limber.

I would try to embed the video right here in the blog, but for some reason, only the audio works when I do it. No video whatsoever. So I figured it might be best to just link you over there. Plus, if I send you over instead of embedding it, there is less risk of you getting fired should your boss be walking by your office/cubicle and the video autoplays and our starlet screams out, "Oh Johnny, I can't wait to ride your ..."

Well, you get the picture.

So here you go... I present Porn Wars.


I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees...

Ladies and gents, I am at a crossroads in my personal existence. I really don't know what I should do here. I have been presented with two choices and I cannot decide to which I should heed.

On the one hand, we have a brilliant post by Ms. Sizzle last week in which she takes the first step towards accepting herself for who she is. She has thus begun a quest for personal fulfillment. She wants to like herself more and, by publicly declaring her intent to do so, she is well on her way. Call it a 12-step personal acceptance program. But her letter is something that many can take to heart and maybe adapt in some ways for themselves. Because, God knows, few people in this world are 100% satisfied with who they are. I know I'm not.

I really wish I had the cojones to stand up to my own self doubt the way that she did. It's a very powerful letter and I'm proud of her for writing it. You really should check it out.

Of course, just as I start to incorporate this sort of philosophy into my own way of thinking, Katie and I pick up some Chinese food for dinner on Saturday night and I receive this fortune...

Miscfortune

That was really the fortune I got in my cookie... no joke!

Damn, now I don't know what the hell to do.

On one half of the philosophical scale, we have the eloquent letter written by Ms. Sizzle (which I still believe to be brilliant). But on the other half, we have a philosophy espoused and, I would assume, supported by a civilization that has existed for thousands of years and whose current population numbers over a billion people (not including those that live outside their borders, I think).

Thus we have another example of the age-old quality vs. quantity debate... the quality of a single belief vs. the quantity of people who support the other.

Where to go? What to do? And, most important, who to be? If not myself, as the Chinese suggest, then who? Can I just pick someone at random? Do I have to ask for their permission?

I guess what I'm trying to say is, who the hell writes these fortune cookies anyway? What kind of thing is that to say to a person? That's just ridiculous!

I'm sticking with quality, dammit. Go Sizz!

The food was good, though.

Author's Note: Before anyone flames me, this post is not meant to take anything away from Sizzle's post whatsoever; it is a great post and I love it immensely. I just found the timing of that fortune cookie to be rather ironic, all things considered. Just wanted to make that clear.


It's my life, it's now or never...

When it comes to blogging life vs. personal life vs. professional life, many bloggers have different boundaries set.

Some might blog completely anonymously so as to preserve that delineation amongst their varied lives. They create a fake persona as well as a whole existence for that persona just so that every detail can mesh and there would be no reason for readers to question the validity of what is said.

Others allow for some crossover between their blogging self and their real self. Some family and friends may know about their online existence and may even visit on occasion. But they may still protect themselves and their online life from certain parties... perhaps their employer.

Yet others draw no boundaries whatsoever amongst all their lives. Everyone knows and anyone is welcome to visit.

These boundaries can also drive bloggers to avoid addressing certain topics of conversation on their blogs. Some people refuse to talk about work. Some may opt to not talk about family issues.

My question to you, fair readers, is what is your personal policy regarding this issue? Do your family and friends know about your blog? What about employers? Are you completely anonymous? What will you talk about? What won't you talk about?

Since I'm asking the question, I think it's only fair that I answer it as well.

My blog is open to anyone who wants to read it. My friends and family, for the most part, know about it. Many visit, but not all. A couple comment here and there (like Allison and MadIrishMan). My employers know about it and a couple of my bosses do read it on occasion. However, I will not type anything particularly incriminating or embarrassing about family, friends, and work life without permission. And, more often than not, I will change the names of the not-so-innocent in order to protect them.

I've always wondered what it would be like to be completely anonymous on the Web. Blogging whatever you want whenever you want about whatever you want. Obviously, in terms of this blog, it's far too late for that. And I'm not too keen on starting up a second blog to do the same thing I do here. Sometimes, coming up with something to say here takes enough effort on my part. I'd rather just save all the good stuff for the reader base I've created here. I love this blog and all of you out there too much to ever give up or switch to an alter ego.

So chime in...

You don't have to go into specifics, I'm just curious how some of you act regarding blogging.

If you are a lurker out there reading this post, please jump out of obscurity and weigh in on the topic. I (and I think others) may be interested in what you have to say.


Evil minds that plot destruction...

I was watching a TiVosode of The Daily Show from Monday night when they asked a commercial-break trivia question that really disturbed me...

The current war in Iraq has been going on since March 19, 2003. That means it clocks in at three years and, at the time the question was asked, one day. Based on this fact, which of the following is the only one to last longer than the Iraq War?

             

Miscwarof1812
The War of 1812

Misc100yrswar
The 100 Years War

Miscwwi
U.S. involvement in World War I

Miscnickjessica
Nick and Jessica

The answer is obvious, of course. But it disturbed me when I realized that the Iraq War has lasted longer than our involvement in WWI. How messed up is that? And it shows no sign of ending any time soon.

Sorry to go all political on your weekend.


It was a graveyard smash...

I have always been fascinated with graveyards. In fact, they have never, that I know of, been a source of fright for me. I live for the serenity, the beauty, the photography. I even like visiting them at night.

I think my brother knows of my love for cemeteries and, therefore, has been trying for years to freak me out regarding them. This has led to him suggesting a few times over the years that we visit so-called "haunted" cemeteries in the area.

The concept of a haunted cemetery amuses me a bit. While I believe in spirits and ghosts, I'm not sure I actually believe that there is such a thing as a haunted cemetery. I mean, why haunt a place that most people fear visiting anyway? Don't ghosts want to make their presence known? Isn't the primary theory behind hauntings that a ghost has unfinished business on Earth? Well, if they have unfinished business, I somehow doubt that it's getting done hanging out in a cemetery (unless they were gravediggers when they were alive).

However, haunted cemeteries make for great stories and some that I'm more than willing to share with friends and family. So, of course, I've been up for going along on my brother's jaunts through Chicago haunting lore to see if I could come up with a couple stories of my own that I could share.

Thus far, we have visited Benedictine University's cemetery once (supposedly, some blue orb will appear in the cemetery) and Bachelor's Grove Cemetery twice. Bachelor's Grove is considered one of the top 10 most haunted cemeteries in the U.S. although I don't know who develops the criteria for rating them.

The results? Decidedly negative. Not "negative" in an evil way; more a "nothing happened" sort of negative.

But we did get some pretty cool photos from our (Katie, Brian, Jen, and me) most recent trip to Bachelor's Grove a couple weekends ago...

The Gate
The gate to Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Grave 1
I think the freakiest thing about the cemetery is the fact that almost every tree is barkless. Why? I don't get that. Am I wrong for thinking it's weird?

Grave 3
Some of the photos are a bit blurry, but that's due to the sheer lack of lighting. It does add to the effect, though. And this headstone was just too beautiful to not shoot.

A fallen branch
Not entirely barkless, but toppled. The first time at Bachelor's Grove, we encountered a ton of overgrowth and damaged trees. It seems the Parks Department must've cleaned up quite a bit because the ground were pretty wide open save for the occasional fallen limb like this one.

Grave 5
Okay, I take that back, the freakiest thing about the visit was this yarn doll. Creepy. And it would practically glow while everything else was nearly pitch black.

Litter
Gotta love the litter. Sad, but eerie as well. Makes you start to wonder what was going on here.

Grave 7
Jen examining another naked and toppled tree that actually knocked over a really large headstone.

Grave 7.2
A close up of the toppled headstone.

I really should start scanning some of my old day-time cemetery photos that I've taken over the years and maybe try to get out some more with my camera. There was a time when I was taking cemetery photos on a very regular basis. Of course, that could also have to do with the fact that my master's thesis was about cemeteries.


They call me Mimi...

Well, I thought it might be a cute title considering I'm posting two memes in here. Get it? Mimi=Meme. Okay, maybe it was cooler in my head than it is here. Plus, you have to know Rent to really get it.

So here are a pair of music memes from Chase and S.J.

Miscqueensrycheom2Tickle Your Pickle:
As described by Chase, "list seven songs you're into right now. Old, new, whatever... just whatever is ticklin' your picklin' at the moment."

So here goes:

  • Sugar, "The Slim" from Copper Blue
  • Jane's Addiction, "Superheroes" from Strays (you may recognize this song as the theme from HBO's Entourage)
  • Kris MacQueen, "If I Lift My Hands" from BrokenHearted Palace
  • Queensryche, "I'm American" from the forthcoming Operation: Mindcrime II
  • Pearl Jam, "World Wide Suicide" from their forthcoming self-titled album
  • Guster, "The New Underground" from the One-Man Wrecking Machine single
  • Jeff Buckley, "Hallelujah" from Grace (Damn you, Johnny; I had forgotten all about this until I read your blog)

How are those?

Band for a Lifetime:
Choose a band/artist and answer ONLY in titles of their songs.

I'm gonna try this out with my boys, the Foo Fighters. Luckily I have my iPod loaded up with all their albums and even a few rare singles.

Miscfoofighters11. Are you male or female?
"Weenie Beenie" (it was the best I could do)

2. Describe yourself:
"Exhausted"

3. How do some people feel about you:
"My Hero"... not likely... probably more like "M.I.A."

4. How do you feel about yourself:
"Good Grief"

5. Describe your ex boyfriend/girlfriend:
"Stacked Actors" (tell me that one's not perfect)

6. Describe your current significant other:
"Miracle"

7. Describe where you want to be:
"New Way Home"

8. Describe how you live:
"Overdrive"

9. Describe how you love:
"Best of You" (the title sounds more positive than the song really is; so let's go with how it sounds)

10. What would you ask for if you had just one wish:
"See You"

11. Share a few words of wisdom:
"Another Round"

12. Now say goodbye:
"Come Back"

Those were fun!

As per usual, no tagging. But if you'd like to steal them, feel free.


Ridin' low in my chair...

An open letter to Dennis Haskins...

Dear Mr. Haskins,

Miscbelding For years, I watched as you adeptly played the role of Principal Richard Belding on two of my favorite childhood television shows, Good Morning, Miss Bliss and Saved by the Bell. For years, I watched as you struggled to maintain control in a junior high and high school that was plagued with a high rate of teacher turnover and forced to work its way through a literal transplant from the rolling meadows of Indiana to the surf and turf of California. All the while dealing with the junior terror that was Zach Morris.

You were put through the ringer on multiple occasions by Morris and his hoodlum buddies Lisa, Screech, Nikki, and Mikey (in the early years) and Lisa, Screech, Kelly, A.C., and Jessie (once they reached high school). They constantly used your hallowed hallways as places in which to party and sell God-only-knows what (I still maintain that Zach was the overseer of an extensive drug empire in the school). They pulled pranks, ran a pirate radio station, stole other schools' mascots, trashed your new convertible, and abused underclassmen.

But you put up with it. And you did so, arguably, with grace and dignity.

I admired the hell out of you, Mr. Belding. And, I feel for good reason. You were a role model. You didn't hide yourself from the goings on in your school by boarding yourself up in your office. Oh no! You got right out there in the middle of it all! That is proactiveness.

Did you ever rely on an assistant principal or dean? Nope!

Hell, did you even have an assistant principal or dean? I somehow doubt it. Who needed them! That would've been a waste of taxpayer dollars! Tough guy with a heart of gold Richard Belding would take care of it all on his own.

That was the code of the schoolyard for you!

You were the Rambo of Bayside!

You were "da man"!

You were the person I always hoped would show up in my high school when the door to the principal's office opened.

Alas, no.

So, imagine my surprise when I opened my e-mail and found this...

Mischaskinsemail

That's right! An e-mail from the one and only Dennis Haskins! WooT! (please ignore the "Sxy_Wife" who is "craving cock.")

I was so excited. The man, the myth, the principal was e-mailing li'l ol' me!

I was flabbergasted, honored, enthralled, you name it. It was likely to be the pinnacle of my online life.

I'll bet you can also imagine my dismay when I opened the e-mail only to discover that I was spammed. Someone, maybe you, was using your name, the name I so often associated with the greatest principal ever to grace the screen, be it the small or the silver one.

But my pain was not alleviated by one of your life lessons. I was cheated. I was wronged. I was misled. I was bamboozled!

Why Mr. Belding/Haskins? Why would you do this to your faithful fans?

Had we wronged you somehow?

Were you still bitter that none of us diehards tuned in to Saved by the Bell: The New Class. That was years ago. Can't you forgive us after all this time? Those of us who were in it for the long haul (read: "the Zach Morris era"), were already well into our college years and, in all honesty, the new show... well... it sucked. In hindsight, even you should be able to admit this.

Please Mr. Belding/Haskins, please end your reign of spam terror. Or, if it's not you and some limey bastard is impersonating you on the Web, please hire Zach Morris to hunt them down and try them to the fullest extent of the law. After all, I heard he had a brief stint with the NYPD after his time at Bayside High. I'm sure, as an alum, he would be willing to accept an olive branch of peace and bring down those sick bastards.

Sincerely,

Kevin Apgar
Longtime fan

P.S. I am still willing to accept mail from you. But could you please include an autographed photo next time?


It's not easy being green...

Yes it is. Or, at least, this past Friday, it was pretty damn easy.

Katie and I met up with my brother, Brian, his fiancee, Jen, and their neighbor, Josh, at a bar called Venice Tavern in Batavia, IL, for a night of festivities. Considering it was the first time Katie and I have ever been able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day together, we were taking full advantage of it.

We ordered up a couple pizzas in the dining room and downed them. Then we made our way to the bar and drank for several hours. It was crowded, smoky, restricting, loud... everything you would expect from a bar on St. Patty's Day.

Here's a photographic retrospective of the night...

Katie and me
A little blurry, but I like the photo too much to not use it

Josh, Jen, and Katie
Josh, Jen, and Katie... I wonder if Josh can get any redder?

The double lip lock
Yes, yes he can.

Cheers!
Brian and me toasting in the evening. I know, I know... Bud Light... he was paying, not me. Can't argue when it's free.

Prada or Prado?
Katie and I spent the night decorating Jen's faux Prada purse with Bud Light stickers... both sides.

Jen and Brian
Awwww... aren't they cute?

Katie and me
We're cuter.

The Kiss
Told ya so.

These are just a few of the photos. More are available in our Flickr photo set.


Fear awaken...

I'm going to hell for this one.

Just thought I'd warn you in advance.

And it's not as though this post is going to be particularly blasphemous... it's not. Nothing God-related or religion-infused whatsoever.

I'm just going to be picking on some people a little bit simply because they're stupid. I mean ridiculous stupid. These people deserve their own word, they're that stupid. So, okay, why not? When someone is not just naked, but doing so for the purpose of "getting some," we call them "nekkid," right? They have their own word. These people I'm about to discuss shall have one of their own.

Henceforth, they shall be known as "Stoopid." Yep. Let it be said, let it be done.

Miscmaury The stoopid people I would like to discuss are the ones that were featured on Friday's Maury Show, that would be the daytime talk show hosted by toolboy Maury Povich.

For the record, I don't ever watch this show... period. However, Katie and I were both home on Friday and flipping around the stations and I saw the show's title call-out box with the description "My fear of mustard and pickles is ruining my life."

Oh my dear God... how could I possibly say no?

Essentially, the show featured stoopid people being confronted on their irrational fears.

Yes, I have fears of my own (clowns, ventriloquist dummies, spiders, heights, and, now, stoopid people), but these folks were just freaks. Their fears were completely irrational. They would wig out (yes, I said "wig out") at the very sight of their fears.

One woman was afraid of birds and, when they brought a little canary on stage to help her face her fear, she blew a gasket and ran around the stage screaming, hiding, etc.

A second woman was terrified of mustard. I dislike mustard, but I'm not afraid of it. When they brought a platter covered in mustard on stage, she blew a gasket and ran around the stage screaming, hiding, etc.

Are you starting to see a pattern develop here?

So did I.

I'm guessing the script looked something like this.

[guest sits on chair on stage next to Maury; two guests on stage at a time]

[guests eyes dart around stage in realization that something bad is about to happen]

[despite seeing nothing, guest will stand up and start to scream with hands flailing about at neck level and bouncing back and forth from one foot to the other as though running in place]

[screaming continues as guest looks for nearest exit... they spy the backstage steps and run up them to the landing and start to run down the final flight of stairs only to realize that, at the bottom, is a stagehand bearing the source of their fear]

[guest runs back up steps and yells]

Guest: "Maury, how could you do this to me?!?!?!?!"

[guest spies stagehand off stage left with source of fear as well as one off stage right]

[guest runs behind chairs on stage and shakes one back and forth as though they will pick it up and use it as a weapon]

Guest: "I'm going to kill you!!!!"

[Maury defers to psychoanalyst conveniently sitting in front row of audience]

Maury: "Doc, have you ever seen anything this bad?"

Doctor: "Sadly, Maury, I have."

Maury: "Can you help them, doc?"

Doctor: "Of course I can."

[guest continues wailing like a banshee]

Maury [to stagehands]: "okay, back off!"

[guest improvises]

It was exactly the same for each of the two guests I stuck around to watch (bird girl and mustard girl). I couldn't stomach it after those two despite the fact that pickle girl was coming up after the break. The improvising portion featured one woman running to the side of the audience bleachers and clutching them while crying. The other actually did lift up a stage chair and wield it as a weapon. I really wished she threw it.

So I guess when you look at it, I'm not really picking on people for having irrational fears so much as I'm picking on the writers and producers at The Maury Show for portraying irrational fears so ridiculously. These clearly were not legitimate people fearing something. They were actors. I mean, they did the same damn thing up to the very end. Motion for motion, word for word (as few as there actually were).

Maybe I won't be going to hell after all. Perhaps I will be presented with some kind of award for calling out the stoopid people working on this damnable show for making such a farce of fears. I'll be the talk show whistleblower! I like the sound of that. Someone needs to call them on their stoopidity.

And, for the record, I do not make a habit of watching these shows. I detest them. I watched The Jerry Springer Show a few times out of morbid curiosity, but stopped.

Well, I learned my lesson. That tripe comes on again, I'm gone. Ritualistic self sacrifice, here I come!


To the handshake drugs I bought downtown...

A week or so ago, I had a meeting with someone. No big deal as I have meetings with people all the time. I got my stuff together for this meeting and headed to the designated location. When I arrived, I was ushered in to his office by his secretary. He stood up from his desk and came over to greet me with an outstretched hand. I took that hand and...

Mischandshake... he gave me a pansyshake!

As I went in for full-thumb-to-forefinger-web contact, he closed down his grasp on my fingers. My fingers!!! It was a firm pansyshake, but still not a complete web-to-web, palm-on-palm handshake.

I thought maybe it was a timing fluke. But then he did it again as I was leaving!

Gah! There are few things I hate worse in this world than a weak handshake.

So, I'd like to take a moment to point out some keys to delivering a proper handshake:

  • Allow time for a person's hand to completely meet yours. The webbing between your thumb and forefinger should make contact with that same point on your recipient's hand.
  • Close your fingers and thumb around their hand firmly. Not too hard, though. Here's a tip to help you figure out how much pressure to apply: if it can crush an egg, that's a bit too much; if a Nerf ball would be safe in your clutches, you're being a pansy. Practice at home.
  • Shake hands up and down once or twice. Typically, if you've shaken hands enough times with people, you gain an instinctual feel for when they want to stop. If they seem like they want to stop pretty soon, go for it. If they don't stop, then you should initiate the termination (rather oxymoronic, eh?) after one or two up-and-down motions.
  • Don't go for grandiose up-and-down swings. A couple inches of movement will do just fine.
  • Save the empty-hand-on-shoulder or two-handed handshakes for the politicians of the world. A single-handed shake will serve perfectly in most occasions.
  • Even if their hands are sweaty, do not visibly dry or brush off your hand. Wait until you're seated or they are moving away from you and you can wipe your hand on your pants discretely. Calling out someone on sweaty palms, even if unintentional, can be rather humiliating. And make sure to find a bathroom after the meeting to wash your hands. It can't hurt.

If the person whose hand you are shaking violates one of these rules, there's nothing you can do about it except gripe to others like I am now. But it's no fault of your own so long as you tried. Don't attempt to correct them on their pansyshake in mid-shake, that's just bad form. Besides, how awkward would it be if you grabbed their hand with your open hand to reposition it?

If you follow these simple guidelines, you'll give a perfect handshake every time, people will be impressed, you'll get business deals (I can't guarantee that one), and soapboxers like me won't call you out on their blogs.

Kapgar.com: Committed to the fight against Pansyshaking (TM)

(image from fellow Typepadder HughesforAmerica)


I would die 4 u...

I've got another meme for you today.

While I will admit that this is awfully similar to the sevens meme I did a couple weeks ago, there are several new categories in this meme that I think are pretty interesting. Plus, this is the first one that my non-blogging friend, Allison, has sent me so I felt compelled. Also, she gave me a shout out in her answers that made me feel pretty good. Maybe it was a suck up to make me actually do this, but still and all the same.

And, how weird is this... two memes each with a Prince song as the title. Strange.

Fours:

Four jobs you have had in your lifetime

  • Food service (waiter at Baker's Square and Barista at Starbuck's)
  • Hall Director, R.A., Hall Council President, and Front Desk staffer at Northern Illinois University
  • Web developer and graphic designer
  • Shoe salesman at Sportmart

Four movies you would watch over and over:

  • The Shawshank Redemption
  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • Fletch
  • Real Genius

Four places you have lived:

  • Rochester, NY
  • Lexington, KY
  • Bristol, CT
  • Geneva, IL
  • The only other places were Naperville, IL; Ames, IA; and DeKalb, IL

Four TV shows you love to watch:

Four places you have been on vacation:

  • San Francisco (twice)
  • Hawaii (twice)
  • Mexico (twice), Grand Cayman, and Belize (on a cruise)
  • Florida (too many times to count)

Four websites I visit daily:

Note: this was Allison's #4 that I liked so much... "Hotmail and/or Kapgar.com (to read the gossip pages/Kevin's daily blog... I do have the occasional vice)"

I like being a "vice."

Four of my favorite foods:

  • Anything that Katie makes (and I do mean that)
  • Texas Chimichangas at Eduardo's in DeKalb, IL
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Grilled cheese sandwiches (mmm... samitch!)

Four places I would rather be right now:

  • Home
  • Movie theater
  • Bookstore
  • Electronics store

I'm going to throw an additional category on here for good measure...

Four bands I can't live without:

  • INXS
  • Foo Fighters
  • Depeche Mode
  • The Replacements

Four friends I am tagging that I think will respond:
You know my rules, I do not tag. But if you want to steal this, go ahead. Free for the taking.


Sometimes I feel like the lucky one...

Happy St. Stitch's DayFirst, what better way to chime in the holiday than with an uber-celebratory Stitch?

So from me to all of you... a happy St. Patrick's Day! This is the first one that Katie and I have ever really been able to spend together without having work or classes interfere. And damn if we're not going out to enjoy it!

On the topic of luck, have you ever had an article of clothing that you considered lucky? Or maybe it's just that perfect piece of clothing?

I have a sweatshirt like that. It's a hoodie that's about six years old. I have no idea where I got it, but it's the first pullover hoodie that I ever owned. I don't think Katie bought it for me, per se, but I'm sure we bought it together, just don't ask me where. It's dark blue a band across the chest comprised of a yellow, white, and light blue stripes. This thing feels almost like fleece it's that soft.

Yet, recently, this sweatshirt almost wound up in a pile of clothes going to Goodwill.

It was intentional at the time. It had been a couple years since I'd worn the hoodie and I had gotten some kind of stain on the stripes that I couldn't seem to get out.

When Katie saw the hoodie on the pile, she looked at me with one of those "are you nuts?" sorts of looks.

"You can't get rid of that," she said. "It was your first hoodie!"

"But I never wear it any more."

"So? You will. Trust me. You always return to the clothes you feel comfortable in."

"We'll see."

Sure enough. I've worn it about three times in the last couple weeks. Yes, it was washed and we even got the stain out of it. I kick myself for nearly getting rid of it. What the hell was I thinking?

Now, I'm convinced I wouldn't be complete unless I'm buried in this hoodie.

We're off for some beers. Well, in about seven or so hours, that is.

Have a happy one!


Is there a song I could sing...

I have found, on occasion, that the best place to discover new music is from my fellow bloggers.

Many times, I read about artists and albums on various blogs (particularly The Xtine Files, A Mind Awake, Blogography, and WWdN: In Exile). Other times, I've received recommendations from you guys directly via e-mail. Late last year, when I was suffering library withdrawal, many of you chimed in with ideas for music that I should listen to. I've appreciated all your help and have enjoyed nearly all the music that was suggested.

Mischammhock Now it's my turn to throw my hat in the ring and lend my support for a little-known artist who posts his wares completely free of charge (read: legal downloads... screw you, RIAA) on macjams.com. His name is Kris MacQueen and he posts under the macjams username hammhock. Whether or not that's really a picture of him at right remains to be seen; but it is the image he uses on his profile. Slightly Tom Cruise-ish, no?

Macjams is a site where common folk like you and I can upload music that we've created for others to download and comment on. You can vote in different technical areas of the recordings and create profiles to help get the word out about your stuff. Typically, the tracks you submit to this site should be recorded or remixed using Apple's GarageBand, but some people have violated that rule. No biggie. But, the site helps promote a community environment, much like us here in the blogging world, where people can meet and discuss their own music. While I am a member of the site, I've never contributed any music because, well, I'm just not that talented.

Kris, on the other hand, has talent in spades. Currently, he has eight original tracks available to download with a ninth one in the form of a remix collaboration of one of his own songs with another artist named "themasses."

I regularly listen to several artists on macjams and receive new song e-mail notifications from the site quite often. Some of the music is really good, some of it... not so much. But, Kris' tunes never cease to impress me. And they have yet to lose their place of honor on my iPod (sorry, Eric... I love your stuff, but, well, it creeps me out).

I don't know if Kris is planning on ever releasing BrokenHearted Praise as an album or not, but, even though I already have many of the tracks likely to be included on it, I'd still buy it just to support the guy.

Give a listen to "If I Lift My Hands" (my personal favorite) and "Setting Sun."

While you're on macjams, show some love for the other artists, too. They don't get paid. They do this shit because they love it. Can it get any better?


I've got a question for you...

Alex Trebek: "In the category of 'College Students' for $1,000, the answer is 'three times'."

Me: "Alex, the question is 'how many times does the average college student change their major?'"

I never liked to think of myself as average. God knows that if I'm the status quo, this world is screwed. However, judging by these statistics, I am just that... average.

I began by applying to college with an intended major in architecture. I managed acceptance at the University of Illinois, Purdue University, Iowa State University, Northern Illinois University, and my beloved University of Kentucky. However, I was only accepted at UK in the liberal arts and sciences program pending an interview process for their architecture and design school.

I really don't know why I applied as an architecture major. I think it was mostly out of a desire to not be "undeclared." There is some kind of horrible stigma associated with that in my mind. Yes, I am an indecisive bastard, but I wasn't going to make one of the biggest decisions of my life without having some idea how all this money was going to be spent. And I loved to draw and was always a big Lego freak, so why not architecture? Sounded logical to me at the time.

In hindsight, my decision-making process could've used a little tweaking.

I opted for Iowa State. However, during the summer between my senior year of high school and freshman year of college, I spent some time with a couple local architects. They told me how they spent much of their time. Suddenly, architecture held very little appeal for me anymore.

Don't ask me how I came to this conclusion as I really don't recall, but I somehow decided that physical therapy was the way and the light for me. Maybe it had something to do with all the articles my parents had been reading about the "up and coming" career choices. Maybe it was because I had personal experience with the need for physical therapy. But I honestly can't recall.

However, I was already accepted to Iowa State and had some waivers and scholarships coming my way for that first semester. So I went anyway knowing that I would just be transferring to some other school since ISU didn't offer a physical therapy major.

That "other school" became Northern Illinois University. I transferred in January 1994 and actually declared a pre-physical therapy major. It was "pre" because there was an intensive and highly competitive application process for the program. Those of us not in the program were given the underling "pre" title.

About a year later, halfway through my sophomore year, a friend (whom I had known since junior high as he lived across the street from me), who was also a pre-PT major, and I made the bold decision to leave the program. I had been throwing around the idea for a while ever since I worked as physical therapy aide at a clinic in Schaumburg and didn't really care too much for it. We both changed our majors on the same day. My friend to outdoor education and me to Spanish.

Yes, I went from architecture to physical therapy to Spanish. More specifically, Spanish business and translation.

I stayed at NIU because they had a pretty decent foreign language program. I had aspirations of becoming a translator for the U.N. Never mind that our country is loaded with native Spanish speakers who fluently speak English as well and would've been 200 times more suited to the position than I. But I did it anyway. And I excelled at it. There were some classes where I actually corrected the teachers. And they liked that I was doing it. I'm assuming it was because it showed that someone was actually paying attention.

After a while, I decided I needed another linguistic challenge and took a German class. I loved it. There's nothing quite so exhilarating as being able to speak and spit at the same time.

But it wasn't just the foreign languages that I did well in, either. I also excelled in marketing. My declared major required me to only take three marketing courses (principles, international, and advanced international). However, I enjoyed those classes so much that I took an additional two or three just for kicks. Who the hell takes classes "for kicks"? And business school classes, at that? If I had stuck around a bit longer, I could've had a minor in marketing. I was only two classes shy. But that would've necessitated another semester. One I wasn't ready to pay for.

The amazing thing about all this is that, even though I changed my major three times to completely unrelated fields, I still graduated in four years. Yes, I took some courses during three of my summers at a community college just to get them out of the way and I graduated with 20 credits more than I needed, but I still pulled it off in four years.

Now you have the story of how I, Kevin Apgar, attained average status in the academic world.

Do I have any fellow "average" students out there?


Is there a letter in your bag for me?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in a meme that I was completing that one of the great things about blogging is the people that you meet.

So many bloggers have become friends as a result of this wonderful blogosphere (yeah, yeah, stop cringing at my use of an overexposed, cliched catchphrase) and you read about these meetings rather regularly.

For example, last November, Katie and I met Dave for a Depeche Mode concert.

This past weekend, Alissa flew out to San Francisco to meet up with Sandra, Jacynth, and Elliott and also met Sizzle.

There are many others. But these are just off the top of my head.

I'm hoping to meet some more of the people whose blogs I frequent sometime in the near future as well. There are several that I know Katie and I would have a good time with.

What I'm trying to say is that we, as bloggers, become part of a community. If you are genuine in your caring of these other people, they care about you as well. It may sound sappy, but I've met a really great group of people and I meet more of them every day.

We're a bit like a family that rarely ever physically sees each other. So, you make up for it by taking care of each other in different ways. You comment on their blogs, you e-mail each other, etc.

But, one of the bloggers who reads my site really went the extra mile for me recently.

Remember my post about loving black licorice a couple weeks ago? Well, my currently Roma-bound blogger pal, Kilax, who is also a black licorice fan, offered to send me some true Italian licorice. Just out of the clear blue. I didn't prompt it in any way, shape, or form.

There was no way I was going to let her fork over cash to send a package of food overseas to me. But she insisted and, today, I get a call at work from Katie.

Katie - "So I'm upstairs getting ready for work when the doorbell rings."

Me - "Okay."

"It was the mailman and he had a package. I thought there was no way my replacement PajamaGram could possibly be here." 

Misccandybox

(note: I had purchased Katie a PajamaGram for Valentine's Day, but bought the wrong size, so we're currently awaiting an exchange from them).

Me - "What was it?"

Katie - "Well, it was a pretty beat up box with some other language on it that I didn't understand."

"And....?"

"Inside was a bunch of candy. It looks like a lot of black licorice along with some chocolate and lemon cookies and pasta."

Misccandy

Me - "KIM!"

Katie - "There was also a note inside. Hold on, I'll read it for you..."

"Dear Kevin & Katie -

I hope you enjoy these treats! Watch out - the black licorice is a bit... strong.

I threw in my favorite kind of cookie here - hope you like lemon. I also added some funny 'Italian architecture' pasta - I expect you to name all the shapes to me!

Take care!

Kim Ilax --> Kilax"

Rock!

To Kim, I know you said I don't owe you anything, but I will find some way to repay you for this. I don't take this kind of generosity for granted. Believe you me.

Maybe when you hop back to our side of the pond and finalize your move in with Steven here in the 'burbs, the four of us can go out for dinner or whatnot. Oh, and it won't be Italian food as I'm sure nothing you can possibly eat here will ever compare to what you're eating now.

How's that sound?


Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack (tm)...

Although the official date is still a week and a half away, I think it's safe to say spring is upon us.

The birds are chirping.

Rain is falling.

Grass is regaining its green coloration.

Northern Illinois spent most of the night laboring under the threat of a tornado watch/warning.

And spring training is in full swing for baseball.

I am a professed baseball nut. I love it. I love the crack of the bats, the smell of pine tar and leather fielding gloves, I love going to the stadiums to watch, I love the cheap beer and hot dogs.

Miscwrigleyscoreboard So why am I not looking forward to the start of the 2006 season whatsoever?

I don't want the sounds, smells, and tastes.

I don't want to spend the money on tickets to the games.

I don't want to fight for parking around the stadiums.

I don't want to watch it on TV, nor read about it in newspapers or on the Web.

Hell, I don't even want to play fantasy baseball.

I want nothing to do with any of it.

I can't explain it for the life of me.

The closest I can come to explaining why I feel this way is because of all the negativity already enshrouding the game this season... and it hasn't even started.

The renewed steroid controversy regarding Barry Bonds with the pending release of Game of Shadows, Sammy Sosa holding out for the contract he feels he deserves even though the rest of the sporting world knows he doesn't, Frank Thomas signing with the Athletics for a pittance compared to what he was once paid and then starting a war of words his former team.

Combine this negativity with my reading of Jose Canseco's Juiced toward the end of last season, my desire to read Game of Shadows, and my first viewing of Eight Men Out in nearly 15 years and you've got one cynical Kevin.

Is there any way to save this season for me? Or am I doomed?

And, with my luck, this will be the season that the Cubs will win it all and I won't want to watch a minute of it.


I'm just a girl in this world...

I have had some interesting experiences in the last few days. Due to somewhat conflicting work schedules, I have actually been working at the gym without Katie on a couple of occasions.

For the last several months, we've both been at the gym together for each and every one of our shifts. We call them our "date nights." Sad? Yes. But at least it's time spent together, right?

However, this past Thursday night and yesterday morning, I've been at the gym without my Katie and with a different one... Katie S. The fundamental difference between the two is the age. While my Katie is now 29, this other Katie is, I think 17.

A 31-year-old man (some might argue "boy," but I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt) working with a 17-year-old girl (something about saying "17-year-old young woman" just sounds awkward) makes for an interesting time.

For example, on Thursday, another one of our coworkers, Katie S's classmate in high school, came in to visit and the two of them were just going on and on about some big scandal that was unfolding at school. I sat there playing a couple games of sudoku while keeping a lazy ear open to their conversation for some reason I can't possibly fathom.

"I can't believe how bad it was!"

"I don't think they'll ever talk again!"

"[xxxx] is so miserable right now. I saw him walking down the hall all dejected."

Finally, I'd had enough. I turned and said, "okay, against my better judgment, I'm gonna ask... what the hell are you two talking about?"

Have you ever watched the episodes of 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter when John Ritter would ask his eldest daughter the same foolhardy question? You remember the results? His daughter would throw out melodramatic situational "facts" at lightning speeds that would make a professional auctioneer blush.

Not that it was nearly as rapid fire, but I was getting information from two sources at the same time. Something about stolen marijuana, brother blaming sister, juicing her for $300, finding out a year later it was his best friend, mom giving son until spring break to pay back sister, retribution via bricks through windows and stolen cash from parents. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

I was lost.

Then, yesterday morning, I worked with Katie S. again.

This time, though, she was bored to tears. She had nothing to do and, despite me having told her during her training to make sure she brings a book or magazine to help get through those boring times, she brought nothing.

I, once again, was playing sudoku (I'm an addict, okay?). So she went out into the fitness center and grabbed a copy of Miss Seventeen magazine. Talk about your true waste of trees. Even she was disgusted by how banal the content of the magazine was.

I grew tired of sudoku and started looking at the magazine with her. To effectively enjoy it, we discovered we would have to practice some kind of chronological mental digression. It was even necessary for her to do this despite being the same age as the magazine's purported target audience (or one would assume given the title of the rag).

This led to us, eventually, pulling out black markers and giving the cover a "reimagining" of sorts.

We were just plain brutal. There was a time in my life when I recall drawing mustaches and the like on magazine covers, but I was something like 12 or 13 years old. Yesterday, I must have been a 12 or 13 year old hopped up on speed. Goatee stubble, scars, eye patch, black eye, hooked hand, severe acne, pot eyes, shoulder tattoo, skunk hair... the list goes on.

And we were having way too much fun for it to be healthy.

I know I should be ashamed of myself, but it helped pass the time. So how bad can it truly be?


I, live on a chain...

One of the most disheartening things about living in this country in this day and age is that everything is being consolidated.

In some ways, this is great. For example, I would love if cell phone companies consolidated even more than they already are so we could have all our phones work on one network and we could, consequently, use them outside the U.S. Hey, if nearly all the rest of the world can do it, why can't we?

But, for the most part, consolidation strikes me as a bad thing.

All the little mom n' pop shops of yore have gone the way of the dodo.

There was a time in my life when I went to a place in Bristol, CT, called Stafford News to pick up comic books, candy, pea shooters, slingshot ammo, baseball cards, etc. While I haven't been back to Bristol since 1987, I am of the opinion that S.N. no longer exists. This place and so many others like it are being replaced with 7/11s, White Hen Pantries, etc.

I once shopped at any number of independent bookstores, my favorite being the Junction Bookstore in DeKalb, IL. They knew me there. They could point me right where I needed to go and they knew their books. Junction is no more having been put out of business when a Border's opened a few miles away.

I also once was able to purchase my comic books from tiny little comic retailers. They pulled new issues for me every Wednesday and even made recommendations for me based on my buying trends. Even those stores, if you can believe it, were replaced by a chain of comic stores in Northern Illinois. A chain of comic book shops! Will the madness never end?

I've watched as independent store after independent store has died out due to chains and megamarkets and all the other wannabe Wal-Marts permeating our planet.

It's truly sad.

I mention this because yesterday, I ate lunch at a rarity of restaurants... a standalone Mexican food joint. It's a little hole in the wall place called Jalisco's Tacos in Aurora, IL, and, while it's not necessarily A+ 100% primo dining, it is definitely a welcome reprieve from the Taco Bells and Chipotles of the world.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Chipotle or Taco Bell. In fact, I love Chipotle and eat there semi-often. But every once in a while, you've just gotta sate that primal craving for non-chain food and yesterday was that day for me. And Jalisco's filled that void with a mother of a steak burrito at a very reasonable price.

That first bite... damn.

But I worry about how a place like Jalisco's can survive in era of the chain store mentality. Can it? How long until a Taco Bell starts to push it out of existence. Will los patrones de Jalisco's stand tall in support of their favorite dive joint? Or will they flock to where the low-priced chilitos rain down in mass-produced glory?

Jalisco's has been there as long as I can remember, but I worry all the same.


I wanna push you down, I will, I will...

While I'm not a huge fan of The Mix Morning Show on 101.9 FM in Chicago, every once in a while they do have some fun and/or interesting segments. Hence why I prefer the podcast version as those fun segments are typically the ones that are included.

For example, on yesterday's show, they had a segment called "Marry, Sleep With, Push Off A Cliff." In this segment, the hosting team challenges each other with a list of any three people and the person being challenged must categorize each as either someone worth marrying, someone they'd like to sleep with, or someone they want to push off a cliff. Even if you'd like to, say, sleep with all three of them, only one person can fit in each category.

Just remember, "marry" refers to having to wake up to this person every morning and be, literally, married to them. "Sleep with" just means unattached sex. "Push off a cliff" frees you of any obligation to them whatsoever.

Considering I'm not coming up with much else right now to post, I'm going to challenge each of you to a game of "Marry, Sleep With, Push Off A Cliff." I am going to list a few threesomes below and you must categorize them. You can pick one cluster from the entire list or, if you feel really daring, answer all of them.

In their version of the game, they must try to guess how each person will answer. But, since the blog format doesn't easily allow for this type of exchange, just answer for yourself and then check out how others have responded and comment on it.

Just remember, each person in a cluster can only be used in one category and each category can only be used once within a cluster (redundant, yes; but I know some of you are going to try to bend the rules).

Group 1 - The Jennifers:

  • Jennifer Garner
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Jennifer Lopez

Miscjennifers

Group 2 - Ocean's 3:

  • George Clooney
  • Brad Pitt
  • Matt Damon

Miscoceans3

Group 3 - The Femme Rockers:

  • Kelly Clarkson
  • Gwen Stefani
  • Sheryl Crow

Miscfemrockers_1

Group 4 - The Athletes:

  • Summer Sanders
  • Johnny Damon (circa 2005)
  • Warren Sapp

Miscathletes

Group 5 - The Mathletes:

  • Samuel "Screech" Powers (Dustin Diamond, Saved by the Bell)
  • Lewis Skolnick (Robert Carradine, Revenge of the Nerds)
  • Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder)

Miscmathletes

Group 6 - The Threesome Threesome:

  • Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie
  • Britney Spears/Kevin Federline
  • Billy Bob Thornton/Angelina Jolie

Miscthreethree

Does anyone have the guts to respond to all six lists? I'm not even sure I can. It's the Threesome Threesome one that terrifies me.

I'll give it a shot anyway... maybe after some of you do it. Hey, I already admitted I'm a horror wuss, and I think Warren Sapp and Britney Spears qualify as "horrific."


Who ya gonna call?

I don't know what happened to me, but sometime between my teenage self and the me of 2006, I became a horror wuss.

As a teen, I reveled in my love of horror films and my ability to sit through them and not give a rat's patootie about what happens. I was rarely ever scared and, if I was, it was one of those thrillseeker sorts of scared. My heart lived for it. It needed the quick adrenaline surge provided by a good scarefest of a film.

Now, however, that does not seem to be the case. I don't like being scared by movies. I still get the same cardiothoracic kickstart that I did before, but the settling back down is terrible. I have to force myself to find a rhythmic breathing pattern. It's just not fun.

Miscghostwhisperer I mention this because, yesterday, I watched my first episode of ABC's Ghost Whisperer. The show stars Jennifer Love Hewitt as the owner of a small-town antique shop who, since childhood, has been capable of speaking with the dead. She can actually see and talk to what she calls "Earth-bound spirits" and help them let go of whatever is keeping them from leaving this ethereal plane (read: "Earth").

And, of course, I chose to start watching the series with an episode entitled "Demon Child." Brilliant choice, eh?

The episode centered around a businesswoman played by Lori Loughlin who just had a baby girl and is raising it with the help of a nanny. However, she's about to move out of her big, beautiful house to the city because, as we find out, she's haunted by the wickedly malevolent spirit of her dead first child.

And he's a little stinker.

He scares away all the new nannies that are hired to take care of the new baby through a series of seemingly inexplicable poltergeist-like activity including noises, toys that self propel, and power surges.

Hewitt's character, Melinda Gordon, who was actually only hired by Loughlin to sell off her rare and valuable antiques, begins to talk to the child to figure out how to help him.

But, before the episode gets to the "help" part, it runs through about 20 minutes of the kid terrorizing people, myself included. I was laying on my bed while Katie was at a bridal shower and I was wide eyed and fixated on the screen as I watched this kid mentally torment the hell out of anyone and everyone. And they did a really good job of it. I haven't jumped like this since watching "The Version You've Never Seen" of The Exorcist.

Once out of those 20 minutes, it really wasn't so terrible. Some cheesy acting as would be expected. Well, I expected it, at least, hence why I never bothered tuning in until this episode.

Has anyone else watched this show? Are they all jump-out-of-your-skin scarefests? Or was this the exception to the rule?

Oh, and Jen, lose the bangs, they look terrible.

Ohmigod, I just openly critiqued a woman's haircut. WTF?


Next milestone...

This has been one heckuva last month for kapgar.com.

A few weeks ago, I broke the 1,000 comment plateau (thanks again to Jacynth for that one).

Today, though, I hit two more blogger milestones.

First, this is my 300th post at Typepad. I think, in all, I've posted more here than in the seven years at my static HTML "blog." It's just so much simpler when you use blogware. When you don't have to worry about handcoding, the words come that much easier.

But, even bigger than that is that I also got my 10,000th page view today. The props on this one go to Pauly D who was checking out how the Lost Blogs contest was shaping up when the crossover happened.

I wasn't even sure I would hit the 10,000 mark by the time this blog turns a year old (June 15 - despite the fact that my posts date back to June 1; a bit of backposting on my part so I could archive the entire month in one place). I didn't hit 5,000 until late December. These last 5,000 hits have been in a mere two and a half months' time.

Yeah, so this post serves as gratuitous back patting on my part. But, as I've said before, I'm a stats whore (Alissa can understand where I'm coming from on this one). I don't know why. I don't know where it came from. It just is. I can't get enough of webstats. I accept it and move on with my life knowing that this is one addiction that no 12-step program can cure.

Lostblogsbadge_2Speaking of the Lost Blogs promotion, we're up to 19 participants! That is more than I ever imagined and the competition on this is going to be a lot better than I ever anticipated. I've been adding new participants on a daily basis for about the last week.

So make sure you pick out a good historical figure and have some fun with the writing. The more creative you are, the better it will be, the more fun you will have doing it (ideally), and the better your odds will be of winning one of the prizes.

I've got my histoblogger (sounds like an allergy medication). Do you have yours?


You've come a long way, baby...

I've made it! I've really made it!

On Saturday, my blog made the big time!

Yeah, there's no better metric for success than this!

I got my first spam comment! Well, actually, it was a trackback spam to be more specific. But, still and all the same to me.

Check this beauty out...

Misctrackbackspam

Of course, this is just the e-mail notification of the trackback spam. The real deal can be viewed in context here. And I use "context" very loosely as the trackback really has nothing to do with what I said in the post. Spam about free MP3 downloads on a post featuring me bitching about my early eBay problems? Okay. Whatever.

I feel like a proud papa. It's my first, after all. And the first is always best, isn't it? It's all downhill from here from what I'm told.

So I should savor this moment, right? Yes, I do have the option of deleting it and reporting it as spam, but isn't that tantamount to trackback abortion or going all "Old Testament" on your firstborn?

I don't think I could do that to my first. I may have to preserve this one for posterity's sake.

What was your first time like?


And I'm not who I thought I was twenty four hours ago...

If you have not watched this week's two-hour 24 blitz and plan to very soon, then skip this post. If you have seen it or never plan to anyway, go ahead and read. This post contains all kinds of spoilers otherwise. So, for today, I bring you...

Kapgar's Views on 24

(and there was much rejoicing)

I'm going to present this as bulleted points on what I thought of this week's episode. They covered so much stuff in those two hours, it's hard to not have developed some opinions. So here goes...

  • Kim (Elisha Cuthbert) is back! I don't know for how long, but she's back and it's cool because there is more of that awkward tension that we felt at the beginning of the season when Audrey (Kim Raver) discovered Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) was still alive. That awkwardness has since waned. But we have more! Woo hoo!
     
  • I think Robocop needs a tune up. As cool as I thought it was to see Peter Weller in 24 as Jack's mentor, Christopher Henderson, it is painful to see how he's aged. Apparently, the powers that be in New Detroit didn't see fit to take out the human elements that make him age. Shortsighted bastards.
     
  • Mrs. Logan (Jean Smart) and Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower)? Seriously? Cool! Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looked like he squeezed her hand back. Well, we all know Aaron's more man than President Logan (Gregory Itzin) will ever be.
       
  • Speaking of relationships... Kim and Barry? Seriously, girl, what the hell are you thinking? The actor who plays Barry, C. Thomas Howell, is exactly two weeks older than the actor playing your dad. But we all know what role reality plays in Hollywood scriptwriting... none at all. After all, for Kiefer to be Elisha's dad, she would have been born when he was 15. Throws that complaint out the window.
     
  • If I were Russian President Subarov (sp?), I'd be kicking Logan's ass to Moscow and back.
     
  • Kids, they weren't lying when they said "crack kills." I just don't think they meant a bullet in the head execution-style. Oh, wait, they were cokeheads, weren't they?
     
  • Kill the Hobbit! Kill the Hobbit! Right about now, I really hate former-Hobbits-turned-TV-stars. First, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) becomes jackass supreme on Lost. And now we have the prick that is Lynn McGill (Sean Astin) wrecking all kinds of havoc at CTU which culminates in...
     
  • The deaths of nearly half of CTU's staff?!?!?! Gah!!
     
  • And, no, Lynn McGill would not make it out of a dark alley, either.
     
  • Miscchloeedgar_1 NOOOO!!!! Not Edgar (Louis Lombardi)!!!! Even the normally non-plussed Chloe (Mary Lynn Rajskub) showed emotion as he met his fate. That's telling you something.
     
  • But what I really want to know is did Tony (Carlos Bernard) and Curtis (Roger Cross) survive? Please say they survived! I didn't see them when the crew sealed themselves in the tactical room. They need to survive! Tony's my fave on the show and Curtis is quickly climbing those ranks as well. Tell me they made it to one of the other sealed rooms or I just missed them entirely in the background as the action was occurring.
     
  • I really love how they eliminate the ticking of the clock at the end during those special moments when they prefer to opt for complete silence. They've done it twice this season and it always seems like a fitting tribute given the events of that particular episode. Plus, the screen that they used when they announce that you should stick around for scenes from next week's episode showed Jack with his head bowed down in what struck me as a reverential tribute to those lost in this episode. Maybe it wasn't intended that way, but it came across as such to Katie and I.

Last night was an emotional roller coaster for the two of us. And this whole waiting a week between episodes really sucks. It's not easy at all.

Well, it could be worse, I suppose. We could have to wait several weeks in between each episode if they were all spread out over a traditional television season as opposed to the "non-stop season" format they've opted for this season and last.

I can't believe we actually look forward to Mondays now.


So here I am with open arms...

This sickens me.

Miscgaygames Katie and I were watching the news the other night when we heard a story about the Gay Games coming to Chicago July 15-22 this year. I thought, "oh, that's cool."

Unfortunately, that was not the entire news story that was being reported that night.

The rowing event was set to take place in one of the suburbs of Chicago, a small town called Crystal Lake about an hour northwest of the city and immediately adjacent to McHenry, where Katie was born and spent her entire life until she married me.

However, this is no longer the plan. The moral minority in the town put up a stink causing the town board to vote on whether the event really would be held on Crystal Lake or not. The final vote was 2-2 with the fifth voter not present for the vote. Since a majority did not vote in favor, it is not going to happen there.

So now the event is out of Crystal Lake and they need to find a new venue.

It truly still amazes me the level of ignorance and intolerance in the world these days. I never grew up around it to the best of my knowledge. I don't remember experiencing anything like it ever. I've always had a wide range of friends of different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. It never bothered my parents, so it never bothered me. I never thought twice about the fact that the friends I invited to my birthday parties as a child were white, black, hispanic, asian. My best friend in the world as a kid was a pure-blooded Cherokee indian (well, okay, he'd been adopted by white parents, but that didn't matter) and another was black.

As I grew up, I became aware of "racial divides" from the news and from school. But I'd never experienced anything that I was personally aware of. In college, I met my first gay couple. One of them was one of the nicest guys I'd ever met (the other was an arrogant bastard, but oh well, self righteousness knows no boundaries).

Perhaps it is my own personal ignorance to the situation at hand. When you are not that exposed to it on a regular or even semi-regular basis, it's even more troubling when it does happen. So color me shocked at the depths to which people will sink to preserve "traditional family values" as one interviewee on the news called it.

People! Wake up! It's fine to be traditional. It's nice to hold on to some good old-fashioned values. God knows, in many instances, we need that kind of infusion of values. Perhaps you should start with corporate America, though.

But, when these "values" foster ignorance, they've gotta go.


Oh, I'm kickin' television...

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been taking my sweet ol' time about jumping on the TV-on-iPod bandwagon.

While, admittedly, I have downloaded several shows and music videos to my computer and watched them, I am hampered by the fact that I do not yet own a video-enabled iPod. They say that can cause problems.

But I have watched the shows on my computer and enjoy doing that. I purchased an episode of Lost that I missed when it originally aired and I always take advantage of the free shows that have been occasionally offered up as marketing gimmicks on iTMS including the new show Conviction as well as Monk. I've also got a bunch of music videos on there as well. And I'm sure I'd enjoy watching them on my iPod when the time comes that I do invest in one.

Have any of you tried this functionality out yet? Have you purchased shows from the iTunes Music Store and watched them either on your computer or your iPod? Do you think you will?

If yes, what did you think?

If no, why not?

I know that the $1.99 per show price tag can be a big sticking point for some people. So maybe this little bit of news will help soften the blow a bit.

ABC, who already offers up shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost on iTMS at the $1.99 price point, has announced that they will not only be expanding their iTMS offerings, but will also be offering two versions of their shows.

No, not like a director's cut or anything. But still pretty cool, all the same.

They will continue to offer up the $1.99 episodes. In addition, however, they will provide the same shows for free download.

Miscgreysanatomy_1 The catch? They will have commercials in them.

Their test of this process will be, for the time being, limited to Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy. The list may expand as time passes, but this is a pretty good start.

I don't know about you, but I can handle having ads in my shows if it means that I can download them for free. How cool is that?

Not that I care about D.H. and Lost so much. I've nearly lost all hope that either show can recover although I am still watching them.

G.A. is another matter altogether. I am stoked about the fact that, once I get a new iPod, I will be able to look at Iz... er... enjoy the daily exploits of young interns in a major metropolitan hospital whenever I want (phew).

Does this knowledge affect your decision to invest in a video iPod? Do you think it'll change any of your current TV viewing habits?

I know I'm screwed. I'm going to become a full-on PodTV whore.


We're hunting humans, it's killing time every day...

MiscbarbarawaltersBarbara Walters needs to die.

I know that may sound mean, but it's true.

For those who don't know her, and I can't understand how that could possibly be, Barbara Walters (AKA "Barbara Wa-Wa") works for ABC and hosts both The Barbara Walters Special in which she interviews whoever she damn well wants and The View morning talk show that she cohosts with Joy Behar, Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

And I would like to say, for the record, that I use the word "interviews" very loosely.

Her most recent interview special on Wednesday night found her doling out questions to Matthew McConaughey, George Clooney, Patrick Dempsey, and Mariah Carey. This special was the water cooler fodder for my office on Thursday morning and not for the reasons you may think.

Yes, I am the only guy who occasionally partakes in these water cooler discussions. The rest of the group is comprised of three women. Typically, we will discuss what happened on The Amazing Race, Grey's Anatomy, or the like. But in this case, we were talking about the interview.

First, I must say that I did not watch it. How can I discuss this special if I did not watch it, you might ask? Well, I've seen enough of her "interviews" to know that I never want to see one again. And the discussion we had about it furthered my resolve on this issue.

All the women did was complain about how terrible an interviewer she is and that she never lets anyone answer the questions she asks. In mid-sentence, she will dish out a follow-up question. While normal interview decorum states that the best questions flow from the previous answers (and that's clearly what Wa-Wa was doing here), you still need to let the interviewee finish what they're saying first. No need to cut them off just because you came up with another question.

George Clooney was apparently wise to what was going on and never really even answered her questions. He just circumvented the answer like some kind of carnivore circling its prey without ever actually pouncing. And the funny thing, according to my coworkers, is that she never seemed to notice that he answered nary a one of her questions.

Matthew McConaughey must have been forewarned as well, as he was drinking scotch or bourbon throughout the entire interview to dull the pain.

Poor Patrick Dempsey, on the other hand, was clearly frustrated as he was constantly cut off and never allowed to answer the questions she posed to him.

No word on how the interview with Mariah Carey went as the women in my office don't like her and didn't care.

What I really hate, though, is when interviewers ask the questions that they know their subjects cannot answer. In the case of Dempsey, Walters asked if his character on Grey's Anatomy winds up with Meredith or Addison. And she ended the question with, "you can tel me, it's just the two of us" and how many millions of others that have tuned in? That would be a great way to ensure his further employment on the show... reveal one of its biggest plot secrets.

Barbara Walters must die, I tell you.

Anyone know a good bounty hunter?


Well, I'm back in black...

MiscblackbeansWhy does the world hate black licorice?

It's an aversion I never quite understood.

Personally, I love black licorice flavor in all things. Be they licorice whips, jelly beans, black Necco wafers, etc., I like it.

This worldwide conspiracy against my favorite little black gems was always known by me, but came to a head the other day when I was snacking on some Crows Licorice Gumdrops and my boss asked why I was eating them. I said, "because I know no one else will touch them if I have them in my office." She replied sarcastically with, "yeah, you don't have to worry about that."

So why? Why are black licorice candies so hated? What is it about them? What did they do to you?

I think black licorice should be held in highest regard. Anything bearing black licorice flavor should be placed on a pantheon looking down upon all other candies as the inferior beings that they are.

After all, without black licorice we wouldn't have Jägermeister or Sambuca. Shouldn't that be enough to make you change your minds?

Has your Snickers bar given you a delectible liquor lately? I didn't think so.

In all honesty, I really believe that more candies should have a black licorice flavor option.

We're coming up on the Easter holiday season and what marks the season better than Marshmallow Peeps? Okay, well maybe good ol' jelly beans and Cadbury Creme Eggs. But, after those two, the season is all about Peeps. And, lately, they've been diversifying their offerings with different flavors and holiday shapes and whatnot.

So why not a black licorice flavored Peep for the Halloween season? Call them "Reaper Peeps." They would go over like gangbusters!

How about Razzles? Remember them? They were a candy from my childhood that would have faded into complete obscurity if not for the Jennifer Garner/Mark Ruffalo 2004 film 13 Going on 30. Imagine how their Razzles scene might have been different if there was a black licorice flavored version...

Jenna Rink (Jennifer Garner): "Hey, Matty, tell me something... what color is my tongue?"

Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo): "What?"

JR: "What color is my tongue?"

MF: "It's red. I don't know. Red."

JR: "'Red' red? Or tongue red?"

MF: "Razzle red."

JR: "Show me yours."

MF: "What?"

JR: "Your tongue. I showed you mine."

MF: "I'm not showing you."

JR: "Show me your tongue. I showed you mine."

MF: "I didn't ask to see yours."

JR: "Matty, I need to see your tongue... [smiles and nods] Shroud of Death Black."

How fun would that scene have been? And if the two of them could live through Matty having a Shroud-of-Death-Black tongue, you know they were meant to be. Their relationship could survive any challenge.

Okay, enough ranting. Now get out there and show your support for black licorice!

Buy up all the candies you can find and bring them to your homes, your offices, your local gym!

Let's start a movement!

Let it be known that we black licorice lovers will no longer stand for the intolerance borne upon us by the small-minded black licorice haters of the world!

It's a Black Licorice Revolution!!!!!


One day your seven will die...

First, I'd like to thank all of you who sent your virtual well wishes my way yesterday. It really was an incredible feeling to read how much everyone cared. For the record, I do feel better. Not entirely over it, but much better. Thanks again.

On to today's post...

Alissa hit me up with this meme that I had read earlier at Ms. Sizzle Says, Mikey's blog (even though he did it as fives instead of sevens, and played with the categories a bit), and Bre's site. I wasn't going to do it, but then thought "why not" as I read Alissa's take on it only to find that she tagged me with it. How fortuitous, eh?

Sevens -

Seven Things to Do Before I Die:

  1. Visit Europe
  2. Skydive
  3. Eat a Chicago-style hot dog
  4. Launch my damn book-review blog
  5. Become a PADI-certified SCUBA diver
  6. Enjoy 15 minutes of fame; doing what I don't know
  7. Write a book

Seven Things I Cannot Do:

  1. Wink
  2. Read lips
  3. Imagine my life without Katie
  4. Stay away from my Typepad stats and e-mail
  5. Not listen to music or podcasts while working
  6. Eat a Chicago-style hot dog (ironic, considering the first category, but I feel I must)
  7. Come up with a topic for the book I want to write

Seven Things That Attract Me To Blogging:

  1. The people I meet
  2. The immediacy of comment feedback
  3. Being able to speak my mind on anything
  4. A distraction from the everyday
  5. Reading other blogs
  6. Having Bloglines tell me when a site is updated instead of having to remember for myself
  7. Stress relief (when I don't have writer's block, that is)

Seven Things I Say Most Often:

  1. "Whatever"
  2. "Uh-huh, sure"
  3. "It's your choice"
  4. "I love you"
  5. "English speak well very I"
  6. "I was reading on the Web today" (bad habit, I admit)
  7. "You'll never guess..."

Seven Books I Love:

  1. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore
  2. Different Seasons by Stephen King
  3. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (AKA Blade Runner) by Philip K. Dick
  4. Gates of Eden by Ethan Coen
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert
  6. Last Breath: Cautionary Tales From the Limits of Human Endurance by Peter Stark
  7. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Seven Movies/DVDs That I Watch Over and Over and Over Again:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back
  2. Office Space
  3. National Lampoon's Van Wilder
  4. Fletch
  5. The Shawshank Redemption
  6. Tombstone
  7. Real Genius

Seven People I Want To Join In:
Okay, I never "tag" people with memes anymore as I don't want them to feel obligated. But if you're looking for a cheap, quick post, feel free to steal it.


Sometimes I think I'm blind, or I may be just paralyzed...

I awoke this morning in pain.

Not an extreme or debilitating pain, but a dull, aching, pervasive, full-bodied pain.

It began in my eyelids. As though I were punched in both sockets the night before and now they were swollen shut. It took a Herculean effort to break the nearly hermetic seal that joined them together.

Yet, cracking them open was only the beginning as I now need to open them to see where I was and what I was doing. The clock read 5:55, or so I initially thought. I blinked my world into focus a second time and saw that it was actually 6:15.

I was in bed. I was not drunk. But I could not move and, if I tried, I feared something might drop off my body.

I sat up anyway.

And promptly fell back in bed.

I attempted it again and braced myself up with my arms. Under the weight of my upper body, I grew aware that my arms might crumble like aged and dry-rotted wood columns.

I set my feet on the floor and felt the tickling of blood in my veins as my heart pumped the necessary fluids to ennervate the muscles I would soon need to enable walking.

Painstakingly, I maneuvered to the bathroom and got in the shower. The warm water did nothing to relieve my aching. All I felt were heated needles sticking my body in rapid succession. I got out, dried off, got dressed, and made my way to the stairs.

The staircase was an exercise in agony as, with each step I took, lightning bolts coarsed from my feet up to my hips. Never before had I wanted to live in a ranch house more than at that moment.

That was my morning. And, sadly, none of it is an exaggeration. It is now nearly noon and, while it has dulled somewhat, I'm still feeling much of the pain. My head is throbbing and my eyesight is clouded over. My fingertips feel as though they are shattering with each keystroke I make. I've never felt this kind of aching before in my life.

So constant.

So complete.

And there is absolutely no explanation for it whatsoever.

I just want to make it end. Please, make it end.