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31 posts from January 2008

It's time that you won...

This sort of crap just sucks. You join a park district sports league, you pay your way in, you practice with the team, then you injure yourself and wind up out for a couple weeks at the start of the season.

Dodgeballisgood That's just what happened to me. I joined a dodgeball league with a bunch of my softball teammates only to wrench my side last night in our first real game. I had actually hurt it a little bit the week prior during a practice, but it went away and so I thought I was good. Guess not. I was twisting for a throw when I felt my side, just below my ribcage, rip on me. Not literally rip, mind you. Just that "oh crap! It's not supposed to do that!" sort of thing.

One of the bad things was the timing of it all. Not just because it's the beginning of the season and you miss out on that critical "gel" time with your new teammates and just have to sit back and watch them as they begin to become a team without you, but also because I was still in the game and couldn't sub out. This particular match up came down to a two-on-two faceoff and I couldn't really throw without hurting myself worse. I just had to move gingerly and hope to avoid the balls being lobbed at me while throwing nothing shots back at our opponents.

It actually came down to sudden death where the first person out would end the round. Still two-on-two. But because all the balls wound up on their side, they were forced by rules to pass one to us to level the playing field a bit. So the guy goes to kick the ball over and winds up punting it in the air... right in my hands. He's out! And without me needing to whip the ball at all. Thank God!

I sat out the rest of the night and will likely do so for the next couple weeks to ensure I heal and don't re-aggravate the pain site at all.

Can I just tell you how much coughing hurts right now? I'm doing everything I can to avoid it.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Have you all seen the movie Once? Any good? Aside from Brandon at DWP! who I know worships it with a passion. How about the soundtrack? I've heard the snippets on iTunes, but wasn't sure if those samples are representative of the album as a whole. Let me know.


Killing in the name of...

I hate admitting to this sort of thing because, 1) I fear that I'm going to be flamed mercilessly, and, 2) it makes me feel severely un-American. But here we go anyway.

Once in a while, I will watch some movie that is considered to be a "classic," one of those films that defines cinema as an art form. I'll watch it and... I'll hate it.

It's very rare that this happens, truth be told. But when it does, there's nothing I can do about it.

This one makes me feel particularly bad because I generally love films by Alfred Hitchcock, I'm a fan of Cary Grant, and this film fared pretty well in the AFI Top 100 (both times).

North_by_northwest I'm sure you've guessed by now, but the film in question is North by Northwest.

[commence hissing and catcalls]

This was a movie I've been wanting to see for years. Literally years. To break it down, Cary Grant stars as Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive who is mistaken for somebody else. This mistaken identity leads him on an adventure to clear his name and regain the life he knows.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, it fell completely flat to me. The acting was strained (to say the bad guys are even two-dimensional is a stretch), there was no chemistry whatsoever between Grant and his female lead Eva Marie Saint, the plot was disjointed and lacking any sort of flow, and,  Jesus, talk about abrupt endings.

When this sort of thing happens, I typically question whether I was just not in a mood for this particular film. A good way to confirm this is to find out what Katie thought. If I was not in a mood for it, she likely would've enjoyed it and then I would give it a second chance. Yet, after watching North by Northwest, we just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. It did nothing for either of us at all.

The only other time this happened to me with what I consider to be a legitimate classic was Gone With the Wind. It's been a while since I've seen it so I can't really remember why I didn't like it, but I just didn't.

Two film classics and I didn't like either. I'm going to Entertainment Hell, aren't I?

Update: Allison helped to remind me that there is actually a third "classic" film I hated... Breakfast at Tiffany's. The movie made no sense whatsoever. That's three. I'm gonna burn.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The other night, after receiving about my fourth or fifth notification that someone is "following me" on the Twitter account that I set up last May and never used, I decided to finally log in and give it a fair shake.

Jesus, you people are all over that damn site, aren't you? This was during some clearly orchestrated attempt by the Twitter community of people I know to all watch the President's State of the Union address and provide Twitterized commentary on it. At first, I set up my cellphone to receive notifications of updates. Within an hour, I shut off the notifications because my phone was going nuts with text messages.

But I am intrigued by this whole pseudo chat room styled means of keeping in touch. So I'll keep playing. And if any of you would like to follow me and be followed by me in return, visit my Twitter page (the link is also in my left menubar - second row under "Personal").


Gonna write you a letter...

I really dug on this post idea that Alissa threw out there yesterday. So, I stole it. Plain and simple.

Basically, you write a letter to a younger version of yourself. The person Alissa took the idea from wrote to her 17-year-old self, Alissa wrote to her 18-year-old self. I think I'm just going to write to high school senior version of myself. Here you go...

Hey Kevin,

This may be coming completely out of left field and you may not really believe it, but this is you writing this letter... just 16 years in the future. Yeah yeah yeah, this is some pretty trippy time-space continuum violation crap. But, get over it now. Let's get to the meat of this, okay? I am here to give you some tips that can guide you through some interesting times that I know you are going through and will go through in the next several years. Sit back, listen, and don't take offense, okay?

Stop dating your friends' sisters. Move on. Oh yeah, that cheerleader in study hall who you think must be on drugs because she's actually nice to you? Ask her out. According to things you'll find out after graduation, she wants you to. It won't likely last long since college is coming soon, but it could be fun and then you'll have that "I dated a cheerleader" story to tell your kids.

I know Mike is away at college, but give him a call and see if he'd be willing to hang out with a lowly high school kid like yourself. You'll thank me later.

If there is still some time left in the football season, put a little effort into your practices and game time. You know all those names that the defensive coordinator is making out of your last name? He's not making fun of you; he's trying to motivate your lazy butt. Maybe he sees something in you that even you don't see. Put in some effort and see what happens.

At this moment, you are in the best physical shape of your life. Don't fuck it up.

Drop calculus. It's pointless. Your teacher will call you a quitter for wanting to drop, but steel up your nerve and walk out. You won't be the last to leave that classroom.

"Undeclared" and "Liberal Arts" are not bad words. I know you're struggling to figure out what you want to do in college, but architecture is not the way to go. Not for you anyway. Grad school, on the other hand, is. Don't let people tell you you're wasting your life by going back for another degree. Katie will thank you.

Oh, and when you meet Katie, just because it feels too good to be true doesn't mean it is. Take the leap.

Don't be afraid of computers. In fact, in another year, something called HTML is gonna make itself known. Jump into it full bore along with several other computer languages. Learn them, love them, and start a search engine called Google. I know it's misspelled, but trademark the name immediately.

In 1994, scrounge up whatever money you can find and invest it in Apple Computers. Yep, the old Apple IIGS's in your junior high computer lab. The company may not look like much at the time, but you'll thank me.

Wishing you all the luck in the world... you're gonna need it,

33-year-old Kevin

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Dariush sent this to me the other night as he is wont to do every so often. Just some random piece of Web humor... this one contains tips as to what to do and what not to do with regard to babies. I should keep some of these in mind as it appears I've been misled thus far. It's pretty damn funny.


School's out completely...

As a result of my wife taking classes to become a teacher, I have been exposed to the world of educators, albeit at a much less involved level. However, the current topic Katie is researching has me interested. She's been looking into "cyberbullying" and the epidemic it has become in recent years.

No, my interest does not stem from a desire to participate, but mostly because I work in the Web world and use a lot of the tools that these cyberbullies use, just more for their desired purpose (communication).

But this shit is scary. According to one article she read, 25% or more of kids report at least one instance of cyberbullying against them in a two-month period??? That may not sound like much, but when you consider this is an average and that there are some that are clearly reporting a higher rate of abuse, that's just not right. And, due to the anonymous nature of the Web, it could be anyone at any time.

What the hell happened to just pushing someone on the playground? At least then you know who it is and, in many cases, can see it coming.

I don't know how well I'd fare as a kid in today's world.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Does anyone else think that the Federal Communications Commission, in much the same way that people argue against the United Nations, is desperately grasping at straws to remain relevant these days? If the news I read this morning on IMDb is any indication, I'd say yes. They're apparently considering fining ABC more than a million dollars for a full female butt exposure that happened on the show NYPD Blue.

Give it a second and it'll click...

Yeah, that NYPD Blue. The one that went off the air nearly three seasons ago. In fact, the episode in question aired in 2003... almost five years ago.

And it took the FCC this long to figure out they needed to go after them? What's next? Are we going to see them revive the Janet/Justin wardrobe malfunction and slap some additional fines on that?


You're my best friend...

Throughout our lives, we have many friends. But how many so-called best friends?

Very few I would guess. I think I can pretty much count them on one hand.

But your first best friend (I know some of you hate abbreviations, but I'm gonna abbreviate it to FBF for simplicity's sake, okay?) is one you never forget.

I don't know why, but the other day, I was thinking about my FBF. I was five years old and I had moved with my family to Lexington, KY (home of Wildcat basketball and the big D). That's where I met the guy who would become my FBF. His name was Steve Pope and he lived across the street from where my court deadended. He was about a month older than me and in the same grade and we had pretty much all the same interests including Star Wars, Legos, and just generally being five-year-old kids. If ever there was a better way for a kid to become acclimated to a new home, I don't know what it would be.

Steve and I were practically inseparable. He taught me to draw. We launched ourselves off swing sets. We caught crawdads in a nearby creek. We went sledding the few times it snowed in Lexington. We set up Star Wars dioramas (later replaced with G.I. Joes) with the figures in our yards. There was very little that involved one of us that didn't involve the other.

All this changed, of course, when I moved to Bristol, CT, five years later. We still managed to see each other once or twice a year by flying back and forth to each other's houses. But the dynamic was shot. He had new friends; I had new friends. We struggled to find common ground anymore.

After a few years, we lost touch entirely. No letters, no phone calls, and no visits.

I did see him once when my family and I returned from a trip to Tennessee for my grandparents' anniversary in the summer after my freshman year in college. But, again, it was strained. I also heard he was interested in applying to the Art Institute of Chicago, but that never panned out.

The last I heard, he was working for some catering company in Lexington and played drums or bass in some local band. Not much more detail other than that.

But he was my FBF and I cannot help but think about him from time to time and the good times we had as kids.

And I wonder what happened to him.


Rollin' with my homies...

Apgar is not a very common last name. Sure, we've met a few people here and there with the same name. But it's very rare that this happens. And, of course, everyone who has encountered multiple people with this last name automatically assumes we're related.

And aside from Virginia Apgar, the doctor who created the Apgar Score for rating babies upon birth, there are no famous ones. We're all just waiting in the wings for our moment to strike out and unleash our full potential on the world.

Oh yes, it will happen. Just you wait and see.

I've been planning the day for years. And I couldn't think of any other Apgar out there that was ready to make the move.

Kristinaapgar So imagine my surprise when, as Katie and I were watching the opening credits of this week's episode of Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles, we saw the name "Kristina Apgar."

Of course I had to look her up on IMDb.

Turns out she's the blonde on this past week's episode that John appears to be developing a little crush on. Well, a crush that's on a female of the non-cyborg persuasion, that is.

Oh this just isn't right on so many levels. My plan is failing miserably! Not only is she an Apgar who is making a move on the Hollywood machine, but she's a Kapgar, to boot! And she's more than a decade younger than me. If you combine that with the fact that women outlive men, her reign of Kapgarific tyranny will be much longer than mine!

It's not fair!

Not fair at all!

No, wait. I'm thinking about this all wrong. If the Kapgar Reign is to be effective, responsibilities must be spread out amongst capable agents. And, clearly, Kristina has her talons on Hollywood.

I should use that to my, er, our advantage. She works in Hollywood, I work on the cyberworld, and Katie works on the education system. We've got almost all bases covered!

The world is our oyster... time to shuck!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): So we bought four new tires for Katie's car today. An expense we'd rather not have, but needed to be taken care of.

Gotta love when we get home and, after shoveling the driveway, notice that Katie's car is leaning heavy on the passenger side. Then we find out it's because one of her brand spankin' new tires is completely flat.

Needless to say I heard words come out of my wife that I haven't even heard from the foulest truckers imaginable.

The kicker is, they're not open again until Monday.

Fargin' iceholes!


Oh pretty baby...

So how's this strike you for a good night?

Katie and I return home from a night at the gym (anytime you walk out of a gym on your own two feet and not a stretcher is a good start) and throw together the ultimate Trader Joe's dinner including...

  • Asian Style Chicken Stir Fry
  • Pork Gyoza Pot Stickers with Gyoza Dipping Sauce (two different items at your local TJ's)
  • A bottle of wine (well, this wasn't TJ)

Of course, when you combine a cardio workout at the gym with food and a glass of wine, sleep would be expected to follow in short order. And it did. We were both knocked out cold.

For the record, Katie and I highly recommend the pot stickers and sauce. In case you're wondering, the sauce is a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, cilantro, and crushed red peppers. Fantastic!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was trying to refrain from saying anything about Heath Ledger here on the blog. The news is everywhere and anyone who doesn't know, well...

So I figured you didn't need to read any more about it here despite the fact that his death did leave both Katie and me saddened. I've been a fan since Roar (which was the topic of one of my grad school pop culture analyses) and have watched and enjoyed many of his roles since then.

Yet I still felt compelled to say nothing.

Until last night, when, for the third night in a row, I found myself whistling Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You." And then I found out that Katie's been doing the same thing... both of us clearly in tribute to Heath.

I then thought maybe the only way to get past this point is to share with all of you. So here is my tribute to Heath Ledger, an actor Katie and I have both enjoyed for a while and were hoping for many more years of interesting roles. This tribute isn't much, just a favorite scene from a movie we both enjoy. Rest in peace, Heath...


Summons me with just one beep...

Was anybody else bored to tears by this year's Oscar nominations? Holy crap. I read through the major awards (not including editing, sound, or other technical achievement categories) and discovered that Katie and I have only seen three movies that were nominated for anything. One, of course, being Juno, which received multiple nominations each of which it fully deserved (although I think supporting acting noms for J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney would not have been out of order).

Then there was Ratatouille, which should clean up the Best Animated Film category and even stands a decent chance in the Original Screenplay category, I think.

Finally, American Gangster was the third film. We're both of the opinion that either Denzel Washington or Russell Crowe deserved acting noms, but it turns out the only nom it got in the major categories was Ruby Dee for supporting actress. Huh? Just her?

And that's it.

Sure, we want to see No Country for Old Men and have been meaning to for several weeks now. We just haven't, though. And I'd like to see There Will Be Blood (not sure if Katie's up for that one). But aside from these two additions, we could care less about the remainder of the nominated films.

Well, I guess if there's one upside to it all, Travolta did not receive a nom for his still-bad-acting-even-though-in-drag effort on Hairspray. Phew! There is a god after all.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): To be filed under "That's Just How Kapgar Operates" you'll find this little tidbit that I've found myself sharing more times lately than I care to remember...

If you call me on my work, home or cell lines, and you don't leave a message, don't be expecting a return call. I get so many missed calls anymore that I don't even bother looking at the caller IDs to see who it was. Hell, if I were to call back every single missed call I got during the day, I'd never be off the phone. And I hate phones. Leave me a message and I'll call back. If you don't think it's worth your time to leave a message, then it's probably not worth my time to call back. Saying "well, didn't you see that I called?" doesn't work with me.


Dream on...

Dear Brain,

I think it's time we set up some ground rules about dreaming. More specifically, the occasional tendency for aspects of my real life to crossover into the dream world. You've been in violation of some very basic tenets lately, and I would like to see this behavior stop before it becomes a real problem.

For me, sleepy time visions of me in more fantastical roles is fine. You want to make me some big name Hollywood actor? Fine. A pro-level athlete? I can dig it. Some famed adventurer and globetrotter? Heck yeah. These sorts of things are fine.

I even like having parts of my real life make the cut in these dreams. Do you want to introduce Katie into my dreams? Coolness. She can be my date to the Oscars, my sideline cheerleader, or the partner who is able to get us out of some sticky international drama. I have no problems with this.

However, there are things from my real life I don't want to see in my head as I dream. I don't want to see myself living at my parents' house as an adult. Especially not in a situation where I'm being barked at to clean up shit that my brother leaves around the house (yeah, if I'm living there, so is he).

Bill paying? Save it for real life (unless there's some way to eliminate it there as well).

And I'll be damned if I ever want to dream about and see HTML and CSS code running through my head like the binary rain in The Matrix. Oh, and for the record, at least it was valid code (v4.01 on the HTML, so far as I could tell). My brain actually took note of its legitimacy. How sad is that?

But it ends now! Not just the validity of the code, but its existence in my dreams entirely! Got it?

Kevin "Desiring to Dream of Better Things" Apgar


Falling apart at the seams...

I like to think I live my life by the Golden Rule. That is the one that reads "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," right? I hope so.

There are those people that deserve to be treated nicely who you want to treat you nicely in return. There are also people whose day you try to improve by being nice to them even if they've treated you poorly because you see some glimmer of promise about them. Something that says, "this piss-foul attitude of mine would be deep six'd if only someone gave a damn." Once in a while, it's nice to be the damn-giving sort.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not like this with everyone. That's asking a bit much, don't you think? Some people just deserve to be treated like dungheaps. So I bite.

But what I don't get is when someone who is doing something nice for someone else has the world rain shit upon him/her.

I got into a conversation with a guy yesterday who was walking around on crutches. Naturally, I asked what happened. He said around Christmas he and his son were loading a washing machine into a truck to take to Goodwill or some other donation service. Good thing, right? It's not as though he was dumping a bad machine on others. It was a working machine that they just decided to upgrade.

While loading the machine, he was on the ground pushing while his son was in the bed of the truck attempting to pull the machine upward. This guy hit a patch of ice and fell to the ground. He bashed his head on the concrete and the machine fell on him breaking his lower leg in six places. As a result, he has been forced to cancel his non-refundable annual ski trip with his sons.

How is that a form of positive karmic payback for doing something nice for a fellow human being? How did this guy deserve to get dumped on like this?

I guess when it all comes down, the Universe prefers "No good deed goes unpunished" to the Golden Rule, eh? What a load.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): All I can say about this picture is "holy crap."

Montrosewatermainbreak

It looks like a movie set. But, in fact, it is the result of a water main break on Montrose at Honore in Chicago that happened really early this morning.

I wonder what good deed residents in this area were trying to do.

Photo from Flickr user TheeErin.


In His hands...

Okay, Universe, I get it!

I won't do it again! I promise!

Yes, so TNT was playing Con Air this weekend and for some God-forsaken reason I watched it. Honestly, I was just curious whether or not the movie was as pitifully bad as I remembered it being a decade ago when it came out in theaters.

It was! It was!

Now please, can you just get my head to stop replaying the scene where Steve Buscemi is singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands" with that little girl in the abandoned swimming pool??? Please???

Oh dear sweet Baby Jesus, make it stop!!

T
otally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Dear Packer Nation, we tried. We really tried.

Ever since our Chicago Bears' season ended what seems like an eternity ago, Katie and I have been rooting for the Green Bay Packers in the NFL playoffs. We realize we're not supposed to like you. You're supposed to be our mortal enemies. But, in all honesty, we can't help but respect and envy you. It's the truth, sad though it may be.

So we went all out yesterday even going so far as to make homemade macaroni and cheese to eat during the game. Seriously, what better way to celebrate and support our cheesehead neighbors to the north than by eating cheese and, thereby, supporting their economy, right?

Well, it didn't work. And now we have a boring east coast Super Bowl. Whoopie.


She hit me with a tenth-avenue freeze out...

57

That was what the thermostat in our house read this morning. It was fine last night. We were actually quite cozy in the high 60s. Then, for whatever reason, the furnace and thermostat crapped out on us.

A few years back, we replaced our traditional thermostat with one of them swanky seven-day programmable pieces of crap. From day one, the thing has been a pain in the ass. We followed the instructions to the letter and it rarely worked. We had the same times and temps set throughout the week and, one day, it would work, the next it wouldn't.

We said screw it. We're going back with the good old fashioned analog thermostat. We'll just have to make a conscious effort to turn the temperature down a few degrees when we leave for work in the morning. Meh. One extra step or an unreliable thermostat. Hmm...

Environmentalists and the like would have you believe that using a programmable one is the way to go to cut costs and preserve the Earth further. Well, if the damn thing doesn't work worth a crap, what good is it?

Well, it's all fixed up and the heat is coursing through our house again. And I can't tell you how happy we are to have a good thermostat that we don't have to sit there trying to decipher.

Who says technological improvements make all things better?

Just ask my dad and his lawnmowers.


It's peanut butter jelly time...

This disturbs me.

Obviously, we live in a society that relies on money. Everything is about money. We know this and we've come to accept it. Begrudgingly in some instances.

One step that is taken, more often than not these days, is to sell out. You sell the naming rights to a sports stadium. You sell advertising on a Web site (see left column!). You sell out the space on a sports jersey that once contained the name of your team in favor of a corporate sponsor's name.

As Katie says, "everyone has their price."

But, now I'm seeing it on game shows. Okay, it's true that game shows have always been sponsor whores. They rely on sponsors for prizes so they give away branded swag. So I guess what Katie and I saw last night could be considered the next step in sponsor intrusion of society... branding the puzzles on a game show.

Yeah, on Wheel of Fortune, the puzzle was (note: each "__" is a single letter)...

__ __ __ __ __ __      __ __ __      __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
__ __      __ __ __ __ __      __ __ __ __ __      __ __ __ __ __

Food & Drink

Considering how long the puzzle is, it took no time for people to fill in a vast majority of the letters. But the first and third words were what nobody could get. After a while, it looked like this...

S __ I __ __ Y      A N D      S M U __ __ E R S
O N      W __ O L E      W __ E A T      B R E A __

Clearly it's "Something and something on whole wheat bread." But what were the somethings?

After a couple misses and Katie and I scratching our heads, it was revealed that the solution was...

S K I P P Y      A N D      S M U C K E R S
O N      W H O L E      W H E A T      B R E A D

Okay, who the hell has ever asked for a Skippy and Smuckers on whole wheat bread? Not a single friggin' soul that I can think of. Certainly not me when I wanted a PB&J as a kid. Are the makers of those two products wrangling to make themselves the next generic brand name? The next Google or Kleenex or Rollerblade? If so, there are better ways to do it although I'm sure it would've happened by now. Your brands have been around long enough.

Please, to the producers of Wheel of Fortune, don't let this happen again. It cheapens your show. It really does.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Funny the timing of this spam mail considering my re-envisioning of the old AT&T slogan yesterday. But I got a message in the spam box today with a subject line "It Plumps When You Take 'Em." I'm sure it was for Viagra or the like and is in reference to what happens down, er, there. But I just find it funny how similar it is to the old Ballpark Frank slogan "They Plump When You Cook 'Em." Yes, I realize that was probably the point.

Ah, the things that make me laugh.


Reach out...

Have you ever had the desire to live by the old AT&T slogan? 

Reach out... reach out and touch someone. Reach out... call up and just say "hi."

Remember that one? Some of you may be too young to remember it as it's from way back in 1981. I envy you.

I wanted to do this yesterday with a guy from the gym. In the locker room. I wanted to reach out... reach out and strangle the ever-loving shit out of him. Reach out... smash his jaw and just say "STFU!!!"

After Katie and I finished our workouts last night at the gym, we went into the locker rooms to change to go home. I was sitting on the bench cooling down a little bit and listening to my iPod when I heard a pop and smack. I hate looking over at people in the locker room anymore for fear they will wind up being another naked wet yoga man. Hey, self preservation is king for me. So instead I shut off my iPod and just listen to what's going on around my earbuds.

The idiot next to me is sitting there "chewing" his gum with his mouth hanging open and doing it at full volume.

I've rarely heard anything more disgusting in my life. Chewing gum with your mouth open is not an entirely disgusting act if done right. It's not the best idea, but I can tolerate it. However when you're doing so with what sounds like a mouth full of liquid smacking, slurping, and just generally being an ass, then I take issue with it.

For a second, I thought it might be a joke. That it might've been a friend of mine doing it intentionally to get my attention. I finally mustered up the courage and looked at him. He looked back. Complete with jaw slapping around in a circular motion. I'd never seen him before so that theory was out the door.

But I don't think I'll ever forget that face.

Or that mouth full of crap.

It's rare that I want to beat a stranger to within an inch of his life. Unless it's a bad driver. But this dude just made the list.


Give it away...

How about a few snippets today?

Catty
I was e-mailing an old friend a few days ago. In one of the e-mails, she told me that someone we both knew had been promoted to a pretty high position of power within her company. If you knew this person, you'd know there was no way she actually deserved it in the traditional sense.

That's when I replied with, "I guess she blew, er, knew the right people."

To which she shot back, "Woah! Someone needs a testosterone shot! That was even cattier than most of the women I hang out with."

OWN'd
Elliotcarver Is anybody else completely terrified by the concept of this new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)? I can understand her show (though I don't watch it) and the movies she produces and whatnot. But a whole friggin' network???

This is scary to me. All I can see in my mind's eye is Jonathon Pryce from Die Another Day playing the role of the megalomaniacal media mogul hellbent on world domination. And you?

Any bets on how long until it's renamed Oprah World Network?

If nothing else, should Dr. Phil be removed from the big four networks, we know he'll have a fallback for his show.

Filmless
Turns out the new iTunes movie rental service will not work with the pre-Classic 5G video iPods.

Strange. They're both video enabled. I've put movies of my own on there. It's not as though it can't handle it. There is some speculation in the comments of the above post as to why, but no firm word from Apple yet.

I realize this is Apple trying to get us to upgrade. But considering I discovered that the games I own on my 5G won't work on the Classic, I'm not upgrading. I'd rather lose out on something I have not yet paid for than something I already spent money on.

All the more reason to wait for the day I can afford an iPhone and hope it works with both of the above.

Heroic
I was at Goodwill the other day, which I tend to do from time to time. No, we're not in dire straits. I have simply discovered that they tend to have a damn fine selection of books including hardcovers that you can't still find in regular bookstores. Plus, the money goes to a worthwhile cause and we donate to them all the time.

Anyway, I was looking in one of their locked cases where they keep video games and DVDs and I saw the damnedest thing... Guitar Hero III for the Wii!

How long were Katie and I looking for that before we found it at Best Buy? A few weeks. Everyone was sold out. And here it is for $75 (albeit in a pretty beat-to-death box) at Goodwill of all places. I never cease to be amazed by the world around me.


I feel pretty...

MacbookairCan pure, unadulterated sexual lust come in an aluminum case?

Before yesterday, I would've thought not.

Now, though, behold! The MacBook Air.

I'm sure many of you have already read yourselves to death about this new laptop from the geniuses at Apple. Sorry, but if you stick around here, you'll have to read some more. But I've got a meme at the end of the post if it will justify your sticking around a bit.

Of course, like any new technology, it's upsides (the sheer lack of bulk, form factor, Mac OS and not Windows, etc.) do require you giving up a bit (Dave and TUAW do a pretty good job of detailing the downsides). But, dayamn! This is one fine looking computer and one that I want desperately. However, with the price tag it currently bears (starting at $1,800), it will be some time before that happens.

I just don't get how designers and developers at Apple can so consistently get it right and so few Windows PC developers and designers cannot.

If this doesn't make Dustin and Hilly convert, nothing will.

Now, as promised for you non-computer lovers, a meme!

Continue reading "I feel pretty..." »


Damn it feels good to be a gangsta...

Do you remember that scene in the beginning of Office Space when Michael Bolton is sitting in traffic with his car stereo pumping out some gangsta rap and he's just jamming to it with no abandon? Until, that is, a black guy asking for donations comes walking by. At this point, Michael composes himself and turns down the stereo so as not to bring any attention to himself and his antics.

He's not the only one who acts this way. I don't necessarily mean this as a class delineation by any means. I just mean we worry about how people in other cars see us when we're driving or stopped beside them. The scene from Office Space was just a good example of someone reacting to his surroundings and altering his behavior.

I'm guilty of this as well. I'll be rocking out to music from my iPod in the car, singing out loud and bopping my head or thrusting my fist in the air in some constrained form of musical revelry. Until I'm next to someone else, that is. Then it all stops. I don't even know why I do it. It just happens. Totally unconscious physical reaction.

Why are we so self conscious around our fellow drivers? Why is that we give such a damn about people that we're likely to not personally know and not likely to ever see again?

I don't get it.

And it's not just how we react to our music. I've observed as others carefully and stealthily consume their meals, and do other things, while driving. Heck, even I do it (eating, not the "other"). But, when you're eating something that looks like this, you might do the same...

Banana Burrito

Katie and I call it the "banana burrito." It is simply a piece of bread with peanut butter spread on it wrapped around a banana. Totally phallic looking, yet delicious. Even worse than the appearance that results from eating just a banana.

So I'll forgive myself for hiding this little gem as I eat it.


Where the river flows...

I am about to post about one of the most seemingly mundane topics in the world, and yet I feel compelled to continue. The topic? Water.

For as long as we've lived in Geneva, IL, we've read warnings about how tap water in the city has "issues." Usually some chemical or substrate or other crap floating that you wouldn't otherwise want. They always claimed that the level of this "additional content" was never enough to really harm us unless we drank 30 gallons a day and soaked ourselves in bathtubs like we're steaks marinating. So it's really nothing that we need to worry will destroy us from the inside out. But, by law and/or out of civic and moral obligation, the city still sends out notices about these things and scares the crap out of residents to the point where we invest a vast majority of our take-home earnings on bottled water.

Until recently, though!

Katie and I have been following the construction of a giant barn-like structure about a half mile from our house with great interest. It's a very cool looking building, but we were curious what it was. A few months into construction, a sign finally went up claiming this facility would be a Drinking Water Filtration Plant or some such nomenclature.

From that point on, we were curious how much of an effect it would truly have. Would we notice a marked difference in taste or is this just an attempt by the city to bring mineral levels to the point where they no longer have to kill trees to warn us that we're killing ourselves?

Well, that question was answered the other night when Katie called me into the bathroom and handed me a glass of water from the tap. I took a sip and, damn, it was good! I mean really good!

Okay, yeah, I'm getting freakin' excited about tap water here. But I can't say I've ever tasted tap water that was this good. We're talking good to the point of curbing purchases of bottled water. And considering the rising level of plastic bottle refuse in landfills (We recycle, for the record!), this is probably a good thing.

I wonder how many other communities are making or have made changes such as this.

Oh my life is slow.


Don't wanna see no blood, don't be a macho man...

Katie and I babysat for our friends again tonight. These are the same friends I babysat for a couple months back. We were both there tonight. Just Katie, me, and little S.

It was a fun night overall and we both get along pretty well with S so I knew it wouldn't be a bad night by any stretch of the imagination.

Until it was time for bed, that is. Katie put S to bed and all was great for about 10 minutes. Then we heard him stirring through the baby monitor. The stirring turned to attention-seeking crying. I volunteered to go up and check on him.

Oh he was more than happy to see me coming. One thing that S's parents didn't warn us about is that he is currently in a phase where he sees his mom as the authority figure. He will listen to her more readily than to the father (or temporary, stand-in father as I was currently playing). So when he saw me coming, he just knew. He demanded to be picked up, he continually grabbed books out of his cart for me to read, he tried to run around. And I, being the nOOb, played right into his psychological trappings.

After several minutes, I picked him back up and tried rocking him to sleep. That wasn't happening. Instead, he sat bolt upright in my arms and proceeded to pop me on both sides of my face with his hands repeatedly. And I just stood there doing nothing. I think I was expecting the baby police to be watching through some kind of monitor. The second I tried to do something to stop him, they would come roaring into the room and haul me off to babysitter purgatory.

I guess I'm just wondering if claiming "baby abuse" will be enough to cover me tomorrow at work should a black eye or swollen cheek develop overnight.

Oh yeah, did I mention that Katie came upstairs, took S from me, laid him down in the crib, and had him asleep within one minute? How sad am I?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): How do you like this? Katie, the total non-scifi geek actually enjoyed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles tonight! She's looking forward to the next episode! Mind you, I had to give her a brief course on the history of Terminator considering she's never seen any of the movies. Of course, I know the first one very well, but I have not seen T2 in 16 years (since it was in theaters) and I never cared for the third so I kinda forgot what it was all about. But I tried my best to instill some appreciation and understanding of the storyline and it seems to have helped somewhat.


Get up, get up, get busy, do it...

Since we're hanging out with some friends tonight for a wine and cheese night starting at about 6 p.m., we decided we were going to spend most of this morning and afternoon working on homework, projects, cleaning, etc. In fact, our checklist for today looked something like this:

  • Wake up early
  • Go to gym
  • Read texts for classes starting at noon (Katie)
  • Work on various Web-related projects starting at noon (Kevin)
  • Finish spot work on walls when I need a break from the computer (Kevin)
  • Shower and leave at about 5:30 or so

Here is the reality of the situation:

  • We actually woke up about 10 a.m.
  • We watched Psych, Ugly Betty, and two episodes of Friday Night Lights off our DVR while eating breakfast
  • Katie started reading at about 2 p.m.
  • I cleaned up the kitchen at about 2 p.m.
  • I began my Web work at about 3 p.m.
  • I never once touched the walls
  • We're leaving for the gym at 4 p.m. (that's in 20 minutes)
  • We'll shower there when we're done
  • We'll leave to go to our friends' house about when we planned

It shocks me sometimes how poor a motivator a checklist can be.

I guess I'd better get ready for the gym. But I have no motivation. Go figure.


You know I'm no good...

I was talking to RBJ a week or so ago and he questioned me about my Top Singles of 2007 list. For the most part, he liked the list and the selection, save for one... The Polyphonic Spree (calm down, Bec! Don't strangle him yet!). He wasn't sure how I could like what I believe he referred to jokingly as a "musical cult."

Well, "cult" might be a bit strong, but I can understand where he's coming from. The very concept of a few dozen people in flowing robes or otherwise matching uniforms singing and traveling together and all that jazz could be seen as borderline choir/cult or, at the very least, a modern incarnation of the Partridges or Osmonds.

I responded that what they do in their own time is their business and it's been a personal philosophy of mine for some years to separate artists from their personal lives. I found out the hard way that if you worry about an artist's personal life, it will ruin your appreciation of what they do professionally.  Or, at least, I try. It doesn't always work.

It dates back to when a friend and I saw Oliver Stone's movie The Doors. While Val Kilmer did a brilliant job of portraying the poetically blubbering mass that was Jim Morrison, I hated the film. At the time, my friend and I were going through a classic rock discovery phase and The Doors were high up on our list of loves. After watching Kilmer's portrayal and reading books confirming his behavior, I had the worst time listening to The Doors. I had to stop entirely. Cold turkey. Sold all my music and got rid of anything else I owned. I just couldn't do it anymore.

It was a good three years before I began listening to The Doors again. But it was only after I was able to mentally distance myself from the movie and the stories. It wasn't easy, but I did it. And I try to keep doing it to this day.

Amy Winehouse? Great singer; freak of a person.

Kanye West? From many accounts, a bit prima donna-ish, a conspiracy theorist, and a whiner, but a fantastic rapper and poet.

Russell Crowe? Need I say more?

I don't want it to look like I'm picking just on the three of them as there are plenty of instances of this in the great entertainment machine. These three were just the first ones I thought of. C'est la vie.

It's sad I have to do separate the personal and professional lives of artists, but if I don't, I'd never be able to see a movie, watch a TV show, or  listen to an album anymore. Then what do I have left? Working out at the gym with a dead iPod. Oh wait, that happened to me this week. Sucks.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I overheard this one at work... "Oh man! I misspelled 'intelligence'." D'oh!


I'm a live wire...

Way back at the end of June, I posted about the wonder that is the "Shared Items" feature on Google Reader. God was it that long ago? Well, about a month ago, Google quietly released an extension of this application in which you were automatically hooked up to all your fellow Gmail contacts that also used Google Reader and could see what they were "favoriting."

While this new feature has not been without its detractors (what they're "sharing" that they're worried about others seeing is beyond me), I gotta admit that this has made me even more hooked on Google Reader. I love seeing what you all are reading and loving and, as a result, discovering all these new sites.

For example, Dagny's shared list introduced me to SFist. Since I'm already an avid reader of Chicagoist and a lover of the city of San Francisco, I suppose it's only natural to love that site as well. So thank you, Dagny!

Hilly has also shown me the wonder that is Cinematical. For a crack, er, movie addict like myself, this site is awesome! Thank you, your Hillyness!

But, then there's Bre... oh Bre... I started reading her shared articles only to discover that a vast majority of them are for some site called CRAFT Magazine where people either put up instructions for artsy crafty sorts of things or links to where they can be. I immediately began having nightmares of the clouds of glitter and waft of glue that permeated my parents' basement for years after my mom took up stamping and scrapbooking. I wanted nothing to do with it.

That's when I started paying attention and discovered what a complete and utter geekfest CRAFT Magazine has the potential to be. Check out some of these gems...

Craftpacman
Pac-Man shoes???

Craft1up
A Super Mario Bros 1-up mushroom scarf???

Craftwire
How to make my own barbed wire???

This is a craft magazine! You've gotta be kidding me. This stuff is just plain cool.

Not that I'd ever learn how to crochet, mind you. But I might try the barbed wire just for kicks. If nothing else, this is simply fun to look at to see how creative other geeks can be. No, not all of it is geekified, but I can tolerate scrolling through all the "normal" stuff to find gems like those above.

Damn you, Bre! You're ruining my chauvinistic, tough-guy image! ;-)

Must. Fix.

cheerleaders
Okay... masculinity re-established... feeling much better, thank you.
(I think this is the third time this picture has shown up on my blog now)

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I need you all to be honest with me about the "Sell Me Out" typelist at left. Does the fact that I have iTunes ads in the left bother you? I know advertising is roundly loathed in the blogosphere, but I'm not trying to really make any sort of money here. The purpose of signing up with Linkshare, initially, was so I could directly link to songs and albums in iTunes. Then they started sending me opportunities to link to some other cool stuff using the little button ads and I thought it might be stuff you all would want to see or be interested in. The money I would make on this stuff is so minuscule anyway. If it bugs you, let me know and I'll ditch the buttons. Be honest.


Cigarettes and chocolate milk...

On January 1, Illinois became smoke free. No smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces, etc. Also, no smoking within 15 feet of entrances, windows, or air conditioning units.

Nosmoking I gotta admit that I love this.

I've never been a cigarette smoker. I've never even taken a puff to try one out. Never wanted to. Both my parents smoked when I was younger. Although both quit, I remember hating the smell of it. So I never tried it. I don't know if this was some alternate parenting philosophy or just dumb luck, but it seems to have worked. With me. Not my brother.

I did smoke cigars every now and again, but have long since given that up.

Simply put, in my mind, this law presents nothing but positives.

Except for one thing I noticed last night... bars stink.

When you clear out the nasty stale cigarette smell, what's left is not much better than a frat house. Instead of smoke, we get the stank o' Homo sapiens.

I also discovered that there is a direct correlation between secondhand smoke and alcohol buzzes. For smokers, it may not be that big a deal because they're accustomed to the feeling they get from nicotine. But for us nonsmokers, it appears that the secondhand high really does a lot to enhance the feeling when you're drinking. It takes a lot more to get drunk.

Bar owners should be happy about this realization. The extra drinks they'll have to sell to get a person drunk should more than offset anything lost by those patrons who declared they would stop frequenting local bars and restaurants and head to Wisconsin, Indiana, or Iowa instead (yeah right you will).

That is, if you can sit through the stink long enough to down those drinks.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Did any of you watch SciFi's miniseries Tin Man when it aired in the beginning of December? I have been saving all three episodes on my DVR and finally started watching it on Monday night. I got through the first two-hour installment and, well, it's weird. I can't really put it any other way. Just plain weird. I haven't watched the other two episodes and that's where you come in. If you saw it, is it worth me continuing to watch? Does it get better than the first episode? If not, I'm just deleting it. But I'd like to at least say I gave it a fair shake if you all think it's got some redeemable value.
 


Turn the minutes into hours...

0456

Read my bedside clock when Katie, fearing that my lack of audible breathing was a sure indicator that I was dead, nudged me to wake me up. Yeah, I was alive.

0515

Was what my clock showed when my alarm actually went off to wake me up.

0648

Was the time I finally woke back up and realized I had WAY overslept and needed to get my butt goin'. I'm usually on the road by 7:10 a.m.!

But let me tell you, this mental jolt is better than the most caffeine-infused coffees in the world.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!

(Good thing my resolution to curb swearing was last year, eh?)

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, I'm an avowed Mac whore (tm), but this "farewell" video to Bill Gates of Microsoft is just brilliant. Okay, Apple could've done it better and funnier, but still good for some laughs. ;-)


Breaking the habit...

Ecopacks... oh how I loathe thee.

In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, I'm referring to how some companies package CDs and DVDs in what they consider to be environmentally friendly packaging made mostly of cardboard and using little to no plastic molding in them whatsoever.

These can take on any number of forms from a simple, pliable paper slipsleeve to very elaborate cardboard configurations that would leave NASA engineers scratching their heads.

The latest villain in the Ecopack struggle is the new two CD/one DVD collection from Led Zeppelin called Mothership. It is a truly fantastic collection of studio audio recordings and live video clips. Even the artwork on the set is pretty sweet.

But you just try to find a way to get those damn discs out of there easily.

In the case of this set, the box opens like a book. Then each half of the opened "book" opens yet again. The result is a four-panel gatefold sort of approach much like vinyl albums of yore (I remember vinyl, do you?).

In instances such as a gatefold presentation, the disc sleeves themselves typically have part of the upper part of the opening cut back in a concave shape so you knew where from where to slide out the disc. Not so with Mothership. I opened the double gate and looked and saw nothing. I started flipping the packaging around in my hands and finally discovered that panels 2, 3, and 4 had slits in the top which were obviously meant to be the openings.

The other problem is that the CDs fit into the sleeves like a hand into a glove... I take that back, more like OJ Simpson's hand into the glove. Just way too tightly and probably shouldn't fit at all. I looked on the packaging to see if there was some other special way of opening the sleeves and nada. I then tried to reach in and my fingers wouldn't fit in the openings without stretching them to the point of tearing. I tried shaking the packaging upside down and there was no give. I finally just bit the bullet and stuck my not-so-stubby and not-so-little fingers in there. They pulled out but it was a struggle and I think I heard the packaging cry out in pain.

Thankfully I never have to use the CDs again since I ripped them to iTunes already, but I'm going to have to find alternate packaging for the DVD so I can watch it without ruining the case.

So, really, is ecopackaging truly that great if it results in such headaches for users?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I know you're not supposed to drink alcohol before noon on a given day lest you be considered an alcoholic, right? Save for mamosas and Bloody Marys, of course. So, will you forgive me the Jack Daniel's flavored coffee I brewed up this morning? I hope so because I also have a package of Southern Comfort flavored coffee I'm looking forward to and I'd hate to let you all down more than I normally do.

Continue reading "Breaking the habit..." »


Burnin' down the house...

As much as I claim to miss my regular television programming schedule and as much as I want to see this writers' strike come to an end, there is actually a part of me that is happy it is going on. Sure, I want the writers to get their money and I really miss The Office and some others, but Katie and I have been discovering so many other shows that we probably would not otherwise have taken the time to look into.

GiadaAnd a vast majority of them air on the Food Network.

We've watched Throwdown with Bobby Flay; Ace of Cakes; Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives; Emeril Live; Iron Chef America; Unwrapped; Good Eats with Alton Brown; Giada's Weekend Getaways; Food Network Challenge; Roker on the Road; Everyday Italian; Paula's Party; and so many others as we happen to tune into them.

These shows are absolutely fascinating.

But the great thing about these shows is that not only are they fun to watch, you actually learn something. You learn how to cook. You learn how to prepare. You learn what things work together. You learn where to go out to eat. You learn that Giada DeLaurentiis is the hottest woman on TV.

The only ones we actually subscribe to on our TiVo are Throwdown and Giada's Weekend Getaways. The rest we catch if they happen to be on. But we've gone days where our TVs have not strayed from the Food Network at all. Suffice it to say, we'd be a horrible Nielsen household for the big four networks, but great for extended cable.

And what I've learned (aside from the realization about Giada) is stuff I can use here at home now that Katie is going back to school. I'm going to be the primary cook and this scares me... immensely.

I know I can cook to some degree, but I've never been too sure of my "abilities."

Well, I guess it's time to get over my insecurities and begin cooking.

And make sure the TV doesn't stray from Food Network as I'm doing it.

Wish me luck and pray I don't burn down the house.


These crocodile tears are what I cry...

We went down to Katie's new school today and bought her books.

That was painful for both of us. For her three classes, we had to buy a total of six books. But there was also a book that she needed that was intended to span the entirety of the program she's enrolled in. I'm not quite sure how that is going to work, but we'll see.

The creme de la creme, though, was a special key to access an online portfolio kit that she needs for her graduate thesis. This online kit is required. And it's simply a piece of paper folded over and sealed in a plastic sleeve so you can't open it without buying it. And it's kept behind the register in the bookstore.

Oh yeah, and it cost $115... for a piece of paper... and two sheets of plastic.

I'm going to cry now.


More sweet than bitter...

Some snippets here for ya!

Huckachuck
Did anyone else watch the coverage of the winners' and concession speeches for the Iowa Caucuses on the news last night? Am I the only one who was left completely flabbergasted by seeing Mike Huckabee giving his "I love Iowa" speech with Chuck Norris standing over his right shoulder?

Ummm...

Bhtm Monster'd
One of my favorite bands when I was going through college was a Colorado band named Big Head Todd and the Monsters. I was a big fan. Just some very smooth and rather melodic indie rock in an era when everything was still very grunge based. I could listen for hours to tracks like "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savior."

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Ticketmaster that they're coming to town at the end of March. I think I have to go and I want to take Katie with me. Anyone else? Scott? Becca? If you want to hear what they sound like, click through to the songs I linked above and hear the samples. Otherwise, go to their Web site. It turns out their new album, All the Love You Need, is available for download absolutely free. The band believes that their popularity and, thus, their money comes from performing live. The best way to get people to your shows is to familiarize them with your music by getting your studio recordings out to as many people as possible. What better way to do that than to give it away? After all, who doesn't like free music? So, if you haven't heard them before, check out BHTM FOR FREE! (note: the All the Love link is the free one; the individual song links are to iTunes and are not free -- just a head's up).

Legos
A couple nights ago, I saw a commercial on TV for a new Lego theme... INDIANA JONES!!! I was so excited and I was going to blog about it immediately, but it wasn't quite going to fit in with what I blogged yesterday. So I held off a day. And, of course, Dave beats me to it. Not only beats me to it, but writes something much better than I could ever hope to. Sometimes, I hate/envy him. *sniffle*

As cool as they are, I think the only set I really want is the Motorcycle Chase one because then I get figures for Indy and his dad (Sean Connery) as well as a couple of really bitchin' motorcycles (these are certainly not the same ol' Lego two wheelers that we had as kids).

Speaking of cool Legos, check out the custom sets at Gizmodo. I particularly love Iron Man, the iPhone, the iPod dock, the candy catapult, and the medieval pinball machine. Too awesome!

Got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "More sweet than bitter..." »


Guess I grew up too fast and I forgot my name...

I've heard from certain sources over the years that the best way to look forward to the future is to take a look at the past.

I'm not sure who said this or if there is any empirical evidence to support it, but I had nothing better to do at lunch yesterday. So I headed to an antique shop near where I work to check out what cool swag they had and to age myself a bit more. Yeah, there was plenty of crap down there that I remember from my childhood that is still WAY too recent to be considered "antique."

But the reminiscing was kinda fun. As was the photography. Check some of this stuff out (the entire album is available on Flickr)...

Music
More guitars, an old stereo, and a mouse.

Hardy
I owned and read practically every Hardy Boys book in existence as a kid including these really old hardcover editions.

Continue reading "Guess I grew up too fast and I forgot my name..." »


Nothing stays the same...

While I'm not making any resolutions this year (sorry, but swearing is now allowed!), I would like to recommend some New Year's resolutions for other people. Here's what I've got so far and I open up the floor to any suggestions you all have as well...

All those opposing the Writer's Guild of America
Please resolve this strike now. You make enough money as it is. Give the writers their due. And give us back our TV shows.

TV studios
Stop. Now. I'd rather you go black than continue with some of the "reality" TV programming you keep shoving down our throats. The Moment of Truth? Really? Can't you just replay entire seasons of old, scripted shows?

Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears
I've asked this before and you didn't listen. But I'm going to try again... disappear. Just for a couple years. Please. I'm sick of your mugs "gracing" the covers of every friggin' magazine on the shelves in the checkout line.

Amy Winehouse
While I gave your album, Back to Black, pretty rave reviews in my year-end recap, you'll need to put out at least one more hit album before I think your made-for-the-tabloids life is worth giving a rat's ass about.

Led Zeppelin
I would like to request you play at least 10 shows in Chicago should you go on a world tour this year. With what the demand will be for tickets to your shows, it will likely be nearly 10 concerts worth of tickets sold before I'm able to get through either on the phone or net to get some for myself. Or you can save me the headache and just give me four tickets now. I don't care if they're for nosebleed heaven, I'll take them. I will even review your show on my blog. Really, I will. That might cost you a press pass, though.

The makers of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
I pray you have created a good show. Considering there is nothing else original on TV right now, I'm putting a lot of faith in your show. My entertainment quotient is relying on you. If not, I suggest you get crackin' on some quality episodes. But I will admit that casting Summer Glau of Firefly as a terminatrix is pretty inspired. Nice call.

iTunes
I love you and what you offer me with a passion, but can we finally do away with that ridiculous "Album Only" requirement that you impose on some albums. I know your goal, and the goal of musicians and music labels is to sell entire albums. But the great thing about online music purchasing is the ability to pick and choose what you want. Or, at least, that's how it's supposed to be. Now, with albums like the Juno soundtrack, I have to buy the whole thing to get the Moldy Peaches' "Anyone Else But You." Kill the totalitarian ways already.

Chicago Bears
Cut Grossman, find a quarterback in the draft, and fix up the rest of your offense. Might want to shore up the defense, too. They weren't entirely consistent this past season. Whatever. I just know you need some help. Desperately.

Major League Baseball
I'm going to give you a shot again this season. It's been two years since I've really given a damn about you at all. But I'm going to try. I would like to see the Cubbies win it all, but I'm a realist in addition to being a Cubs fan, so I'm not holding out much hope. Otherwise, I'm pulling for the Tigers. Go Big D.

Gillette
We guys need to shave (and let's not forget the women who shave their legs as well) and you are one of the top companies when it comes to shaving products. Can you finally lower the price on your replacement razor blade cartridges? I feel like I've already willed you my firstborn as it is. Do you need the second child as well?

Fat cells on my body
Just leave. You're not wanted. I suggest you find a host body that wants you as opposed to mine. You'll feel so much better about yourselves when you can play parasite on a willing person.

Lead reviewer at Fun With Dead Trees
I'd like to recommend you read more books and write more reviews. Your site is getting a bit stagnant. If you hope to rule the amateur book review ranks, you really need to hop to it. Oh wait, I'm the lead reviewer at FWDT. D'oh!


Should old acquaintance be forgot...

Happy New Year everyone! Even those of you who might celebrate at another time!

So how did Katie and I ring in the New Year? Three words... naked. snow. angels.

Just kidding.

Well, the "naked" part anyway.

Yep, despite Katie having a sinus infection, we decided on pure impulse to run outside in nothing but pajamas and T-shirts and socks and make snow angels in the six inches of white stuff that fell last night. I triple-dog-dared Katie to do it thinking there was no chance in Hell that she would. Next thing I know, she's running outside and taking a dive into the snow. I followed shortly thereafter.

If it wasn't so cold and the event so short-lived, I would've taken a picture of Katie actually doing it. Instead, you'll have to accept a photo of the aftermath...

Snow angels... questionably

And here is the pile of wet clothing we dropped after we were all done as well as the snow we tracked inside. It was fun. Quite exhilarating. But don't ask us to do it again.

Wet clothes

Well, Happy New Year all the same! Go Illini (although you're losing pretty badly as it is)!