Previous month:
December 2009
Next month:
February 2010

21 posts from January 2010

Come and sail away with me...

Today we did it. We booked our first vacation in nearly two years. Of course, we won't be going on it for more than a year, but it's booked!

Come March 2011, Katie and I will be going on a cruise of the eastern Caribbean as part of a crew of folks celebrating the wedding of Katie's brother, Scott, and our FSiL, Becca. Big woot!

This cruise is going to rock for many reasons:

  • It's seven days of changing scenery without having to repack bags in between
  • We will be hitting four locations we've never been to before including the Bahamas, St. Thomas, Puerto Rico, and Grand Turk...
Cruisemap
  • There are a ton of cool shore excursions to choose from (although the list can change between now and then)
  • We're there with friends and family
  • We get a stateroom with a balcony as opposed to the no-window room from our cruise in 2003...

Stateroom

  • It's already half paid off
  • There will be some killer photo opps
  • Even though we're with family, Katie and I will get a lot of great quality time together

Oh yeah, we're stoked.

I blogged every week day through the entire month of January!

Been a long time since I've been that consistent.

Blog fiber, FTW!

Woo hoo!


I'm gonna find me a groovy little hippie pad...

The iPad is official. There is some rejoicing. There is some groaning. There have been jokes about the name. And some of my bloggy friends are already in on the action with their views on the new device, including Dave, Kevin, and Bob. You can find all the news you need about the iPad over on TUAW.

Being the Apple Whore that I am, I will admit tentative optimism about the device, initially. I really need to get in an Apple Store and play with it a bit and get some questions answered before I lay down my final verdict, but, for now, I like it.

This is funny since, upon initial inspection, it really comes off as no more than an iPhone on steroids and I am not an iPhone fan for several reasons. So why do I like this? Because it fixes some of the issues I have with the iPhone. Primarily the lack of a tactile keyboard. I CANNOT type on an iPhone for much longer than a search query or a text message. Anything longer and I start to go nuts. I just can't take it. So when I saw this, I swooned...

IPadwkeyboard

IT HAS A REAL KEYBOARD!!! Or, it can anyway. I'm pretty sure it comes separately.

Yes, that has been the breaking point for me with an iPhone. I will admit. The iPhone has killer apps and cool cross functionality between just about everything. But if I can't bring myself to even remotely tolerate the touchscreen keyboard, then why would I bother? This iPad feature settles that concern for me.

I will also admit that I've become more and more interested in some style of eBook reader lately, but I've never been able to decide between the Amazon Kindle, the Sony eReader, and the B&N Nook. All have their upsides and their downsides, in all honesty. But, now that Apple has entered the fray with the iBooks app on the iPad, I gotta say that one takes the cake at the moment. Reading a book on an iPhone or anything similar is too difficult (my wife actually tried it; she had headaches until she was finally done and declared "never again"). Too small a screen for a legitimately sized book. Plus, why wouldn't you want your eBook reader to double as a movie player or a Web browser? Only makes sense, doesn't it?

Okay, sure, you can't add software to it. It doesn't act like a real computer in many senses. But, as Dave said, it's not supposed to. This is the ultimate in-flight entertainment device. Small, thin, lightweight, solid-state drive, plays movies, reads books, plays music (I won't be using it for this), shows photos, browses the Web on WiFi or 3G (skipping the 3G part as I don't want to have to give AT&T any more money than I already am), etc., etc.

I'm kinda stoked.

'nuff said.

Why do people have problems going to the bathroom?

I was going to use the bathroom in an office building yesterday when I smelled something horrible. I went to investigate (MISTAKE! DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! DANGER!) and found that someone had shat on the toilet seat. Just left it there for the world to find. No attempt made to clean it up at all.

WTF PEOPLE??? Seriously? That's fucking disgusting. Animals like you should be tied in a barn and left there. Root around in your own shit for a few days.

I know it's technically illegal to place security cameras in bathrooms, but maybe it's time to revisit that law or at least find some way to work around it. Maybe the camera stays on while you're walking around in a bathroom and washing your hands or some such, but a pressure switch turns it off when you sit on the seat. That way you can at least see who comes and goes but not see them in the act.

Considering what custodial staff have to go through to clean that up, it's only fair that we can hold them responsible, don't you think?


And you were right there next to me...

And I said GO! If you're wondering if I want you to [I want you to] I want you to [I want you to].

Sorry about that. Had that song stuck in my head for a couple days now. On to Snippet Wednesday...

Gift
Less than a month until Katie's birthday. More precisely, only about two and a half weeks. I was really starting to sweat about what to get her. But, yesterday, it all finally fell in place. I know exactly what I'm getting her! Now I just need to buy it. I'm actually kinda stoked!

Kreuk
Chuck-vs-first-class I know that the show Chuck has its detractors and I can understand their complaints, to some degree. But I, for one, love the show and am happy as hell it's back and I thoroughly loved this week's episode ("Chuck vs. First Class") where Chuck goes on his first solo mission on a flight to Paris. Sure, there was still some of the simpering that people hate, but otherwise, he got to kick some serious ass. And the addition of Smallville's Kristen Kreuk as Hannah, Chuck's neighbor on the plane and future love interest was great. She and Zachary Levi look good together and work well off each other. And (only a semi-spoiler... barely) the final scene where the close up of Chuck upon seeing her shows his shock and confusion completely melt away to genuine joy was so well done. I only pray Hannah doesn't wind up as a Ring or Fulcrum agent (if you know, don't tell me). They already used that plot device last year with Jordana Brewster. Please don't pull it again. I just want her to be a normal girl who falls for Chuck and vice versa and they wind up in an awkward relationship simply because he cannot tell her where it is he is going and what he is doing when he disappears from the Buy More. Clearly I'm not the only person who loved this episode as evidenced by this thoroughly exhaustive recap (from whence I blatantly stole the image above).

Lists
While I'm still trying to assess the (dis)value of Twitter lists, I will admit to having made several. Not that they've helped me at all. But I am curious why Twitter coded lists in such a way that it will continue to follow a Twitterer that you are no longer following from your account. Shouldn't they remain sync'd up? Strikes me as weird. Now I have to not only unfollow and block someone, but delete them from any list as well? Wow, takes a lot of steps to let someone know you don't give a damn about them anymore, doesn't it?

Slavery
Another brilliant video from The Onion. I don't know how they continue to do it so well. And it amazes me how easily even the most innocent act can be twisted around and made to sound dirty. Just listen carefully.


Crime Reporter: Man Had Sex With Wife Thousands Of Times Before Killing Her

Well, I'm off to work


Colder than the coldest winter was cold...

We started this new year with bitter cold.

In the last couple weeks, we've been teetering between mid-20s and a balmy high-30s. High enough that, over the weekend, pretty much all the snow melted away and the river outside my office crested its banks.

Today and for the next couple days, though, we're back down to bitter cold and we've been getting a little bit of snowflaking around us. Nothing more than a dusting, really. A teaser of sorts.

I just wish freakin' Mother Nature would shit or get off the damn pot! If you're gonna snow, make it good! If you're not, stop teasing, you bitch!

Jeebus, I'm sick of this crap.

I guess if there's one good thing happening, it's that I left work today shortly after 5 p.m. and there was still some semblance of light around. No, not the sun, which I feel like I haven't seen in weeks, but a hazy, cloudy, brackish white sky. Hey, it's something.

I'm kinda bummed.

[imagine that]

I was trying to take advantage of the Goodreads book swap feature to take a box set of The Chronicles of Narnia books off the hands of someone who was supposedly willing to part with it. Basically this new feature permits you to browse books that other users want to get rid of and then purchase them for nothing more than the cost of shipping.

So I placed the order, submitted my credit card information, received confirmation of the order, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Nearly two months now since I placed the order and I've received nothing. Thankfully Goodreads doesn't charge your credit card until the seller prints the shipping label so I was able to cancel out of it easily enough, but it still sucks. I was looking forward to this because it was a killer price for this set.

I'm trying to purchase it from another person. Here's hoping this one goes better.


Egghead boys with thin white legs...

We're kinda pissed at Best Buy right now.

Yesterday, after giving it a full night of charging, Katie's iPod crapped out. And I don't just mean battery death, the entire unit was showing no life at all. We were at the gym and she was trying to use it for working out and... nada.

Hate-geek-squad The reason we're pissed at Best Buy is that Katie had seen signs of the iPod going down the crapper and she described them to me. I took it into Best Buy's Geek Squad for warranty repair and they said they could not replicate any of the symptoms that I was having right there on the spot. I tried to explain that they were intermittent, they didn't happen all the time. They said sorry and that they could do nothing about it and refused to help me.

Now here we are, outside her warranty period and stuck with a dead iPod. Simply because Best Buy refuses, like always, to listen to their customers who know better about what is happening to their own electronic devices.

I know some people scam them and this is what they're trying to avoid. But when I am trying to explain a problem and then get that teenaged, pimply-faced, asshat Geek Squad fucknut looking at me like I don't know what I'm talking about (yeah, I'd LOVE to know what "extensive training" he went through that qualified him as an EXPERT on such matters) just pisses me off.

To anybody reading who may ever buy a gift for Katie or I down the line, please NO BEST BUY GIFT CARDS. We would much prefer a Visa or MasterCard gift card that gives us the option of choosing where to spend it. PLEASE!

If I can help it, I'm done with that place. Ever since the "Geek Squad" started, the holier-than-thou mentality in that retail hellhole skyrocketed through the roof. And it's only gotten worse since Circuit City stores closed down giving U.S. customers pretty much a single dedicated source for electronics purchases.

[Thank you, Random-Good-Stuff.com, for creating this fine T-shirt!]

Okay, not totally unrelated, but still...

After the death of the iPod at the gym, Katie and I made the painful decision to listen to the radio station that was playing over the PA. It's some crappy suburban Chicago top 40 station that I just cannot stand.

And how'd they annoy us this fine day? They played that God-awful "Summer Nights" or whatever it's called by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John from the Grease soundtrack.

Simultaneously, Katie and I groaned and looked at each other and said "oh Christ, no."

If anything good came of it, it's the reminder that my wife has never seen nor ever wants to see Grease and anything related to that movie makes her ill.

I love my wife.


Out soaked in 95th Street beer...

Hey! That's my Boddington's, you ungrateful little bastard!

Before Photo365 Day 16

After

That last shot was completely unintentional. I was trying to clip him to the lip of the glass for a planned shot of him atop a full glass. Then he did a forward somersault into the glass and landed just like that. It was too perfect.

I promise not to do too many Stormtrooper story-picture posts. Maybe. I think. I dunno. Guess it depends on what else I've got.


My rhyme ain’t done…

A post for Odie
Who loves her a good haiku
Shame I’ll let her down.

Don’t blog while tired
Or your post will suffer bad
Crash and burn, huh Mav?

“When it rains, it pours”
But have you considered this?
Forecasters know shit.

Edwards is a whore
Now he has a bastard kid
Why’d he ever lie?

Avatar at third
On the all-time movie list
I still love Star Wars.

Haiti rocked by quakes
Many residents have died
Why does God hate them?

Golden Globes sucked ass
Most winners were a big joke
But Dexter rocks hard.

Busy taking pics
My camera’s going nuts
Will my efforts shine?

Missed the gym last night
I really wanted to go
What’s wrong with my head?

Still want T-U-A?
Haven’t I written enough?
My head really hurts.

Tough.


If you change your way, baby...

Howsabout some Snippety Goodness this fine Snippet Wednesday?

Heart
Before about three weeks ago, I can honestly say I'd never even heard of the movie Crazy Heart. Now it's blown up all over due to the Golden Globe award winning performance by Jeff Bridges. Hey, JB is cool and I'll see just about anything that he's in. He was the Dude, after all. The Dude abides. So do his fans. So I'm all about going to see this movie. And now, after listening to snippets from the soundtrack on Amazon, I really want to pick that up as well. Some good country tracks, and there's even a really decent song by Colin Farrell called "Gone, Gone, Gone" that I'm digging on.

The little Stormtrooper who could

Trooper
After sharing this photo with a coworker, he suggested the following, "you have to take him with you on trips and take photos like the gnome!" Of course, he was referring to the fantastic movie Amelie and how the main character, played by Audrey Tautou, kidnapped ("gnomenapped"?) her father's garden gnome and posed him in pictures around the world. Very cool and I think I really like this idea. Katie and I were going to do a whole Flat Stanley album, but, after a mere couple photos, we have no idea where we put our poor Stans. Likely at the bottom of a big pile of stuff never to be seen again. "Troopy" here can fit in my camera bag without a problem. And I could get a nice mix of wide shots with him playing Where's Waldo as well as some cool macro shots like the one you see with the rubberband ball. Oh the fun we could have.

Laughless
I gotta thank @lesombre for this little gem off Huffington Post. It's a scene from The Big Bang Theory without the laugh track. And, to be honest with you, it suffers not at all from not having one. I love it!

I wonder if they could do alternate versions of the episodes on DVD without the laugh track? I think it would be great.

Obsession
In an attempt to mimic my own luck with meeting Lance Guest, Sybil Law is attempting to score a meet-and-greet with her own idol and, apparently, wannabe sex muffin, Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters. I want to help this become a reality. So I'm going to mirror her request and hope that it results in a meet-and-greet. Sybil, don't say I never did anything for ya, hon. And I'd better get at least an autograph out of it if it actually happens.

Emilio
How bad is it that I looked at the headline and the accompanying photo on this news article and thought, "wow, Charlie Sheen's brother looks like shit these days." Yeah, I finally figured it out. Estefan... Estevez... whatever.


It's a long, long road...

Very long work day.

Finally heading home.

Head, meet pillow.

Pillow, cradle head.

Symbiosis achieved.

Zzzzzzz...

Speaking of symbiosis, I am starting to wonder if I can have my camera surgically grafted to my hand. We're really starting to become a bit codependent.

And I really love some of the shots I've taken. Sadly I can't share them all since a bunch are for work, but I can say that the clients have been happy.

Or they're just really good liars.

Meh, whatevs.


Someone still loves you...

I'm a bit bummed.

I got in my truck this morning and found a fuse on the floor of the driver's side. Not an automotive fuse, but one from electronic components. I thought maybe the guys at the auto shop where I had my oil changed may have busted some tool and left me a fuse.

Sadly, not the case.

Turns out the plug end of my iPod dock decided to sever itself. The cap came loose and the plunger end and spring flew out... somewhere. I cannot locate the spring, plunger, or cap. I just have the dock unit and the fuse. I cannot plug the thing in at all.

No dock = no iPod = radio for Kevin during his work commute.

I guess I'm lucky I've been prepping for this to some degree. I've made it a point to listen to WXRT 93.1 FM every morning on the way to work since the new year began. I used to listen to that station all the time until iPod happened. Even when I stopped listening to the station, I was still subscribed to their podcasts.

Now I'm back. And I'm sure they appreciate it. I've missed it.

WXRT-FM

That's what you get for waking up in Vegas...

Only I can't blame Vegas. Damn.

This morning I woke up no less than eight times and I'm not entirely sure which ones were real and which ones were dreams.

The first one I remember was about 4 a.m. to pee. Pretty sure that one was real.

Then I woke up to my alarm. I think that was real, too. But I snoozed it.

Then I remember laying in bed back-to-back with Katie and we were holding hands when I woke up. Doesn't sound like something we'd achieve comfortably. So I'll mark that as a tentative no.

Another time I heard Katie talking to somebody on her side of the bed and I heard a man's voice responding. I spun around and saw nobody there. I shook Katie to ask her what was going on and she said she was talking to my brother. She has had weird conversations in her sleep before but never have I heard a second voice in the mix, so we'll consider that one a pretty definite no.

A second snooze wake-up call. Pretty real, I think.

I also remember waking up and showering and dressing and getting back into bed but on Katie's side and we turned on the TV and watched it. Considering I woke up again after that and was not fully dressed like that, we'll nix that one too.

I woke up to the sound of carts crashing around and then two women I work with pushed shopping carts full of used clothes into my bedroom and put them in a pile under our window. They informed me that they were donations for me to take to Goodwill. I told them they couldn't put them there because that's where we put all our dirty and clean clothes and they'd all get mixed up. When I finally got up, I looked and saw no clothes against the wall at all (not even our own), so I'm pretty sure that one's fabricated by my head.

Then I got a third snooze alarm.

So I woke up, showered, dressed, and here I am... wishing I was back in bed to make up for all the sleep I lost in all those "wake ups."

Be proud of us. This gym thing is taking hold.

Katie and I have been to the gym five times since last Friday. Tonight will be #6.

But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that my iPod Shuffle desperately needs a new mix of music. It's been a while since I updated it. Gotta work on that. Soon!


Kickstart my heart, why don't you give it a start...

I went through CPR/AED recertification today. It has been a few years since I've renewed my knowledge and, damn, how things have changed.

Cpr_dummy As I recall, we were supposed to give 15 chest compressions for every two breaths back in the day (yanno, waaaaaaaaay back in 2007, a bygone era) for adults and 10:2 for kids. Or something like that. Just pray I don't have to save your life.

Now, however, according to American Heart Association standards, the ratio is now 30 chest compressions to 2 breaths regardless if you're an adult or a child. The only real change is how hard you press and the immediacy of your CPR actions as opposed to taking time to call 9-1-1 first, whatever.

And, according to my instructor, the European Union standards dictate 100 compressions with no breaths.

Why does something like this change so often and remain so truly unstandardized? Have human beings changed that much in such a short time that we need to adapt this lifesaving technique with this high a level of regularlity? Or is this going to be a butter vs. margarine argument where they keep going back and forth until the end of time as to which is better for you?

But 30:2 is pretty easy to remember... so long as my back and shoulders can hold out through that much chest pumping. I might have to take a break while my patient lies there dying. How inconsiderate of them to make me work so hard to save their life!

Bastards.

Apparently today is De-Lurking Day. Of course, the likelihood that you'll read about this fact before today becomes Friday is pretty minimal. But I'll give it a shot anyway. And, oh what the hell, I'll unofficially extend it through tomorrow. Because this is my blog and I can do that.

So, if you're someone who has been reading my site for a while and hasn't left a comment, why not start now? I don't bite... hard.

Delurkerday

Don't wanna be an American idiot...

Oh such a wonderful start to what should have been a nice calm Snippet Wednesday. Alas. Thankfully it's almost over.

Rubbernecking
Why do people feel the need to rubberneck at accidents? Can you please just move on and let the police do their job instead of creating a situation in which more accidents could happen? I left early this morning thinking how nice it would be to get to work ahead of schedule and be nice and relaxed going into my day. Yeah, that didn't happen.

100000000
For a while, I was amused by all the attention my Green Day rant was receiving. Then it just got ridiculous and I became disheartened by the apparent inability of humanity to spell correctly and clearly articulate a complete thought, so I closed the comments on the post. Well one Douchey McDoucherson was so desperate to insult me that she decided to do it through Facebook. I received this as a message (language NSFW)...

100000000 fucks u

because you re silly Green day is the best band in the world , ok?

are you listening mee ? the BEST BAND !!!!!!!!!

you are jeleaous because your fucking ears don't know how good music is you are a crazy ?? sii to o ets ooi eske kina outa rabia no saps que es la bona musica green day o es tot per mi i vas i li comensas insultaa ? que et penses¿¿

First, wow! 100 million fucks? I'm gonna be busier than Wilt Chamberlain, Warren Beatty, and Tiger Woods combined! Couldn't you have just added one more zero to make it easier to say? "One billy-yun" rolls off the tongue so much more easily than "One hundred milly-yun." Don'cha think?

Second, if that's supposed to be Portuguese (it sure isn't Spanish), then you clearly can't spell in two languages. Please, learn your own language before you decide to butcher another one.

Third, yeah, unsolicited communication to my account is now blocked as well. Fuck you, Facebook, for changing all your privacy settings on us and making us hunt for what needs to be changed. Zuckerberg, you self-righteous, "nobody will care about privacy" fucknut. I am sincerely pissed that I was able to be contacted by a complete stranger on Facebook despite having a profile that is otherwise PRIVATE.

I'd cancel my Facebook account if Katie weren't so hooked on keeping up with family and friends using it.

Throwback
Katie and I decided to buy into the soda throwback rage that PepsiCo is offering right now. We purchased a 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi and Mountain Dew and, I gotta say, I don't notice much of a difference in taste. Is that a testament to the efficacy of artificial sweeteners or a condemnation of my taste buds? Not sure.

Haiti
My prayers are with the people of Haiti after yesterday's nasty mother of an earthquake. 7.0 will do some damage. Although nothing confirmed, the reports that have leaked out are not very promising. Even less promising was this Tweet from @WilW (Wil Wheaton) warning people who are trying to aid the relief effort monetarily. Scares and disheartens me that this warning is even necessary. 

Tweet-wilw

Time for dinner!


Whenever this world is cruel to me...

I just finished watching The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

First off... amazing movie. I love stories about World War II told not from the standard soldiers-at-war sort of point of view. Know what I mean? If you haven't seen it, see it.

Boy1 In the simplest terms, an eight-year-old boy named Bruno moves with his family to the countryside outside Berlin during World War II when his father is promoted within the Nazi army. While there, Bruno gets bored and decides to explore the forest near his house and comes across an electrified fence. On the other side is an eight-year-old boy in "striped pajamas" and the two develop an unlikely friendship.

Truly heartbreaking considering that we, with the knowledge we have of history, know exactly what's bound to happen and, yet, we watch the story unroll before our eyes. Despite this knowledge, the movie still gripped me tightly and kept me enthralled.

This film is based on a book that the author claims is a work of fiction but is steeped in potential reality. I guess you could almost think of it as a sort of revisionist history. Not in the traditional definition of the term, but still.

However, watching a film like this gets you thinking. Did stories like this actually happen? How would we know? IMHO, it easily could have considering the naivete and feeling of personal indestructibility inherent in youth.

Another thing I wonder about is how a person, regardless of how well trained they are, can just sit back and let this sort of thing happen. How brainwashed and/or fucked in the head do you have to be to just accept that you are taking people to a gas chamber and killing them even though you know that they personally did nothing to you. It's sick. Also, if some people realized that what they were doing was wrong, did they jump ship and desert? You never really hear many stories of Nazi deserters. At least not that I've heard.

Lastly, should this war we're currently involved in ever actually end (and I somehow don't see that happening anytime soon, if ever completely), what parts of it will we look back on in the future as having truly been a mistake? And how will history books document this war? This is the first war the U.S. has been involved in during the age of the World Wide Web when we're able to see more than just our point of view of what's happening. I would argue that there's even more popular outcry against this war than there was against Vietnam, but we're just not blaming the troops (for the most part, that is) as happened in the 60s and 70s. Whose propaganda will win out?

I really need to shut off my brain during movies.

I'm not a Conan O'Brien fan. I never have been, in all honesty. His show just never appealed to me.

But I respect the hell out of him for the stand he's taking against NBC and their plan to move Leno back to late night and bump both Conan and Jimmy Fallon back later in the evening (actually the next morning in the eastern time zone).

Conan's statement about NBC's plan and his refusal to accept it is very elegant, well-written, and humorous. And he pulls no punches.

If NBC doesn't listen, they're only hurting themselves more. This letter is going to garner a lot of pro-Conan sympathy. Don't they understand that moving Jay Leno back to late night is not a good idea? Sure, anything is better than his primetime slot and he may gain back a little more viewership as a talk show instead of a variety show. But, for the most part, people are done with Leno.

Call that my humble opinion on the matter.


Three to get ready...

So lemme tell you about our Saturday.

Actually, before I tell that tale, I have to take you back a few months. Remember back in September, I regaled you all with my failed attempt to acquire the signature of Lance Guest, star of Million Dollar Quartet and one of my childhood heroes for his role in The Last Starfighter? About a month after that post, I received the following e-mail:

Hi Kevin:

I'm the Company Manager for Million Dollar Quartet and I saw your blog on the failed mission to get your Last Starfighter DVD signed.  Lance is back in the show on November 4th and I'd like to offer you tickets to come back. Lance would be happy to say hello and sign the dvd after a show.  

You can email me directly to set up the signing.

Best,
Marcie Roman
Company Manager
Million Dollar Quartet

I wasn't quite sure what to think. Maybe this blogging thing does have unintended and positive side effects or maybe it was someone pulling a prank on me. I e-mailed her back and we continued the conversation for a while culminating on Saturday night when Katie and I drove in to the Apollo Theater and saw Million Dollar Quartet (me for the third time, Katie for the second) and, afterward, met Lance Guest and he did this for me...

Photo365 Day 4
It's signed "For Kevin, Victory or Death, Lance Guest" Rawk!
Oh, and this is also my Photo365 Day 4 picture.

Million Dollar Quartet SeatsFirst, I have to thank Marcie for reading blog posts about the show and discovering what I had to say (other than not meeting him after the second show, everything I said was exceedingly positive and I stand by that) and working with me to get to this show. She was incredibly patient and ridiculously cool. And she got us great tickets in the third row off stage left (see photo at right). We were so close we could see the microphones hidden in their hairlines. Plus I have to apologize for being a bit awkward the first time we met up. She found us before the show and I was caught off guard mostly because it was one of the only times someone has come up to me and said something along the lines of "Ah, I knew that was you. I recognized you from your blog." So, yeah, I was stumbling a bit. Sorry, Marcie.

Second, I have to thank Lance for being willing to meet me. After putting on a very high-energy show for nearly two hours and still coming out afterward to say hi to a geeky fan? Well, that's just plain cool. Then he signed the DVD cover with the Rylan war chant "Victory or Death!" And he stood there in the lobby talking to us for five or so minutes. He even dubbed us "Tet Heads" because of how often we've seen MDQ and our expressed desire to see it again sometime after its Broadway premiere in April.

Third, again, if you're in Chicago and have a chance to see Million Dollar Quartet, we both highly recommend it. We found another friend of ours yesterday at the gym who said that he's seen it three times as well and loved it every time. Plus, if you're in NYC, it opens on Broadway in April. You can catch it there. Not sure what the cast will be just yet as both the NYC and Chicago shows will be running concurrently. But check it out.

Finally, we topped off the evening by picking up some Piece Pizza to go. Those of you who are veterans of Davecago will remember the place for its heavenly offerings. Those of you who are not vets, well you should be.

Yeah, it was a good night. One that Katie and I will enjoy for some time to come.


No matter how I rant at you, you never let me be...

A couple of quick rants to chime in the weekend. Bear with me. Oh, and there might be some swearing so, if you're easily offended, go to some happy place on the Web instead.

Netflix and Warner Brothers
Word has come down the pipe that Netflix and Warner Brothers have come to an agreement in which Netflix will delay release of new Warner Brothers movies on DVD to their customers by up to 28 days. The purpose of this agreement is so that Warner Brothers can maximize sales of their movies as opposed to losing money to rentals.

Asshats! What the bloody, fucking hell is this all about? Wasn't that supposed to be what was so great about DVD and Blu-Ray? That you could rent a movie as soon as is was available for sale? This happened with some VHS releases, where you had to wait a bit to get the tape for rental but could buy right away. Yet, because of the lack of a World Wide Web on which we could all bitch about it, er, view the legitimate release dates, we rarely realized it. Now, Netflix, a company I always thought was one of those that was "in our corner," turns its back on us.

Why did they agree to WB's demands? Supposedly they are getting a larger backlog of WB movies and at cheaper prices. Fuck that. I've never had a problem finding a movie on Netflix. And will we, as customers, see a cut in the price of our memberships? Not freakin' likely. Please, prove me wrong, Netflix. Sent us an e-mail letting us know that our monthly rate is going down a dollar or two and I will apologize right here on my blog. So far, I have seen no such e-mail nor do I ever expect to. Netflix has claimed that fast-turnaround renters and their relatively-low-by-comparison rental cost on Blu-Ray (and HD-DVD when it was around) have killed their profit margins. Hence, I fully expect them to pocket this money savings.

Guess what?

To Warner Brothers, I can wait. And I will wait. I'm not giving you any more money than I otherwise would for your films. That's not to say I won't buy anything from you, but I won't go out and purchase a movie just because I can't rent it. Take your plan and shove it up your ass.

To Netflix, I'm going to do everything in my power to become a fast-turnaround renter and blow your profits to maximize my monthly rental charge. No, one person is not going to kill you, but if a bunch of us do it...

To all of you, I hope you try to do the same.

Garbagemen
Katie gave me a call telling me that the trash crews that collect our garbage refused to pick up our stuff.

Our garbage tag shows what is and is not acceptable via a diagram of a can with a whole other bag sitting on top of it. We did not do that. We did not even come close. And yet, Katie found a note on our can saying it could not be picked up and because our it was too overloaded.

Admittedly, I did pack a bunch of stuff in there, but it was only three inches above the top of the can rim. Hell, the lid could still have fit over it as it's domed. I just opted to not leave the lid with it because I was afraid the garbagemen wouldn't securely fasten it and it might blow away in this winter storm we were supposed to have been experiencing today.

Seriously, guys? Three damned inches above the brim and you can't take it? You lazy bastards. Considering I only make you work a grand total of about five times a year (yeah, Katie and I very rarely put trash out; this was the first time in nearly three months), you think you could throw me a bone here.

Jackasses.


And I swear...

In addition to my resolution to take part in that Photo365 challenge, Katie and I are making a vow to get back to the gym. I did a little running at the gym on Monday and, afterward, it felt like my foot was going to remove itself from my ankle involuntarily and leave me forever. So I'm not really counting that one so much.

But, tonight, we both went to the gym. After getting past the regulars who asked where the hell we've been, we worked out. I mean actually worked out and got a pretty decent workout at that.

And we're going to try to do it more regularly. We need to. We're going to be in a wedding a year from March and we want to be so sexy walking down the aisle that people forget who the bride and groom are and just pay attention to us the whole night. Isn't that what all good groomsmen and bridesmaids are supposed to do, after all?

Oh, and in case you want to see the Day 1 photo for Photo365, it's below...

Photo265 Day 1

Don't forget to follow my Photo365 progress on Flickr.

Speaking of resolutions, did you make any for this New Year?

Six days in now, have you completely broken them yet?

Well, here's one resolution I hope doesn't get broken anytime soon via my friend (well, no, not really, he might have something to say about that claim) Craig Ferguson. He's resolving to learn Spanish.

Here he is announcing his resolution...

And here is his first night truly attempting to follow through on the promise...

Wish the man some luck. C'mon! Do it in Spanish!

God I love his show.


And you told me all kinds of insanity...

My first Snippet Wednesday of 2010! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Deathwatch
An old college buddy of mine, Bob, has started a blog. Actually, he started it several months ago, but I wanted to give him some time to decide whether or not he wants to make a run for the hills both before it's too late and before I tell some of you about him. But he's gone and written a couple of pretty funny posts to chime in the new year that I just had to share. It's his view on the classic Celebrity Death Watch (part 1 | part 2). Morbid? Sure. But that's why I love it. Head on over and place some bets. I really like the Shia LeBeouf pick. I'm throwing Randy Jackson from American Idol on the list, though.

12K
I have officially broken 12,000 songs on my iPod/iTunes. The 12,000th? "An Eluardian Instance" by Of Montreal (Amazon | iTunes). I really dig on that band. Damn good stuff.

Vampire
VWContra One year ago, I couldn't bring myself to include the debut album from Vampire Weekend on my Top Albums list. I only really liked the song "A-Punk" (Amazon | iTunes). One year later and I love the band entirely, am looking forward to the release of their new album Contra next week (is it just me or does the girl on the album cover look an awful lot like Kate Bosworth?), and even am debating looking into the cost of tickets to see them at the Riv in Chicago on March 25. Should I? Shouldn't I? Anybody seen them? Any good? BTW, their new album sounds fantastic. Click on the band name above and you can stream the album right off their Web site. Got a nice funky island feel to it.

Photo365
I was reading a photographer challenge from Digital Photography School that Marty linked to in Google Reader. One of their 30 Photographic Goals for 2010 was to take a picture every day for one year. While I can't guarantee that I'll get them posted to my Flickr account that often, I certainly think I can take a picture each and every day. We'll let the exif data stand as proof of that. But I'm a little late to the party having not taken any on the 1st and 3rd, so I need to pick a new start date. And I think I'll run with my brother-in-law Scott's birthday on the 7th. That should be easy enough to remember.

Adios y'all.


What if I do...

Just some random "what if" thoughts for today. Don't ask me why.

What if there actually was some sort of emergency on the first Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m. when they test the outdoor alert sirens?

What if we moved to a completely alternate fuel driven society and the world then drowned in an overabundance of crude oil?

What if teleportation existed and the flow of our particles in the air resulted in virtual traffic jams?

What if your particles comingled with someone else's particles during a teleport and you came out the other end looking like this?

Rollerdude 

What if evolution reversed itself?

What if dinosaurs and humans were forced to co-exist?

What if the plot of District 9 was really happening as we speak and we just didn't know it?

What if electricity stopped working?

What if the people you thought were your family really were not?

What if you only had 24 hours to live?

What if reality TV never came to be?

What if you could be a superhero?

Hmmm...

[this post is filed under Me & Mine as in "Me and my f'd up head"]


And the pieces of my puzzle keep crumblin' away...

Considering how great my musical whorishness has become in the past couple of years, it should come as no surprise that I'm actually developing a list of albums whose releases I'm looking forward to this coming year.

Of course, being the music industry, dates and whether or not they even come out is a very fluid topic. You never know. A band could break up. They could be dumped by their label. They may not get the album done on time. The Web may trump their projected release date and they are forced to push it out early (that sounds dirty). Sometimes the information is just plain bad.

However, I am a man on a budget and knowing what I can expect will help a bit. But finding a reliable source for this information is not necessarily easy. So I'm just going to default to my normal source, Wikipedia (U.S. releases | British releases), and list out what I like the sound of based on the releases as they currently stand.

  • Courtney Love - Nobody's Daughter (January 1) - I gotta admit that I'm a bit curious about this project. No expectations, though.
  • Vampire Weekend - Contra (January 12)
  • OK Go - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (January 12)
  • Eels - End Times (January 19)
  • Leighton Meester - S/T (January 25) - HA! Had you going, didn't I?
  • Massive Attack - Heligoland (February 8)
  • Goldfrapp - Headfirst (March 23)
  • The Black Keys - untitled, so far (April-ish)
  • Common - The Believer (December 28)
  • Bryan Scary - untitled (1st quarter)
  • Linkin Park - untitled (1st quarter)
  • MGMT - Congratulations (1st quarter) - REALLY looking forward to this one.
  • Fleet Foxes - untitled (1st quarter)
  • Hayden Panettiere - Falling Down (unknown) - Had you going again, didn't I?
  • Kings of Leon - untitled (unknown)
  • Social Distortion - untitled (unknown)
  • Stone Temple Pilots - untitled (unknown)
  • The Strokes - untitled (unknown)
  • Gorillaz - Plastic Beach (unknown) - Really REALLY looking forward to this one.
  • Kate Nash - untitled (unknown)
  • Portishead - untitled (unknown)
  • Radiohead - untitled (unknown)

Anything else you think I should be looking into? What are you looking forward to?

Oh, please may 2010 be a good music year!

Puzzle: Santa ClausFor Christmas, Katie’s parents bought us a good old-fashion jigsaw puzzle. We finished it over the weekend and had a lot of fun working on it so we’re going to keep a card table set up in our living room with a puzzle on it that we can work on for kicks.

Since finishing the Santa Claus gift puzzle (at right), I picked up one of the Sistine Chapel ceiling mural that I’m really looking forward to working on.

But I discovered one thing while speaking to the clerk at Marbles about this puzzle… while it says it’s 96 (whatever) long, I gotta stop assuming that the units of measure on products sold in America are all Americanized. There’s a big difference between 96 centimeters (as the box stated) and 96 inches (as I misread it).

BIG freakin’ difference.

I felt like such a moron.


Then we're gonna give him a best friend hug...

The plan behind the reason why this post is coming on New Year's Day instead of prior to the New Year was a complete and dismal failure. We had hoped to see a movie or two on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and we did no such thing. Our local theater was so horrifically packed

I actually started by creating a list of all the movies we've seen, but, for whatever reason, it didn't save in the e-mail draft I had written. Thankfully, the list of finalists did save.

With no further ado, here are mine and Katie's top movies of the year starting with #10:

  1. Away We Go
    This movie almost never had a chance to charm us the way it did. Starring John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as a couple struggling to find themselves as they're about to have a baby, I thought this film had come and gone before it even came. Luckily, it finally started airing in the Chicago suburbs nearly a month after most other places got it. It was worth the wait.
  1. Taken
    Liam Neeson kicking serious ass while trying to rescue his daughter who was kidnapped and sold into sex slavery while vacationing in Paris? Yeah, the equation for a great film!
  1. (500) Days of Summer
    I had high hopes for this film and it did not fail me. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a hopeless romantic falling for Zooey Deschanel's hopeless singleton. Can it possibly work? Well, the voice-over introduction does tell you right off the bat that this is not a love story.
  1. Inglourious Basterds
    I know I'm not rating this nearly as high as many other people have this year end, but I loved this revisionist take on WWII until just around the end when something happens that makes this film go from a "could this have actually happened and just never been reported" to a "no possible way." I really preferred believing the former as opposed to realizing the latter. But it does contain the finest acting I've yet seen in a Quentin Tarantino film. Had this maintained the illusion of semi-reality in my head, I think it would've rated much higher.
  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox
    Wes Anderson + Stop-Motion Animation + the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Bill Murray = a surprisingly good film based on a classic Roald Dahl children's book about a fox who returns to his thieving ways despite promising his wife he'd become an upstanding citizen.
  1. Up In the Air
    I really have no idea how the films of Jason Reitman remain so consistently good. From Thank You For Smoking to Juno to this gem about a normal guy (George Clooney) who jetsets around the U.S. firing employees for spineless bosses. He believes that this is the way he is meant to live until he meets Vera Farmiga and realizes that there may actually be more to life.
  1. Star Trek
    Apparently, my earlier review led people to believe I didn't like this movie. That is not true. I liked it, just not as much as some other people. However, on subsequent viewings, I love this film. I'm not a Trekkie. I never aim to be one. But this is a thoroughly enjoyable film with some incredibly unique and spot-on casting. I can't wait for a sequel.
  1. District 9
    Easily the best scifi film I've seen in years mostly because it's presented as another one of those "so real it seems real" sorts of films. The scratchy, over-the-shoulder documentary style of filming really brought this film to life and helped hide any imperfections in the CGIs making them blend seamlessly with the live action acting. And, like any good scifi, it uses false characters and situations to bring to light real social issues (segregation and genocide) in terms that even regular joes can understand.
  1. Up!
    Can Pixar ever do any wrong? It sure doesn't seem that way. As good as this film is, though, I could handle just watching the opening segment which brings greater emotionality to a movie using animation and no dialogue than almost any live-action film I've ever seen.
  1. Hangoverposter09 The Hangover
    Four friends, Las Vegas, date-rape drugs, a tiger, a hooker, a baby, a stolen police car, Chinese mobsters, and Mike Tyson. Need I say more? Nah, didn't think so.

Oh, and the following movies are ones we have yet to see although I'm pretty sure they may have fared pretty well on our list had we gotten around to them.

  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Hurt Locker
  • The Informant!
  • Zombieland
  • Where the Wild Things Are
  • Invictus
  • Crazy Heart

I also really liked Marty's idea of listing movies that kinda let me down. I'm just listing a single movie here because I lost my list of films we watched. I'm sure there'd be more, but...

  •  The Men Who Stare At Goats
    In concept, this movie about soldiers who are trained to use their minds as their greatest weapon should have been great. And for about the first hour it was. The final half really was terrible, though. It felt like a film that fell victim to the writer's strike of 2007 and just never was properly finished. Or maybe it had a great, but controversial, ending that studio execs nixed in favor of one they deemed would fare much better with audiences. If this is the case, Studio Exec Tampering FAIL!

What films did you enjoy this year?

Katie and I learned a few things about ourselves last night during our stay-at-home New Year's Eve celebration.

Thought we'd share:

  • We are not late-night people.
  • We are not party people.
  • Unless it is mixed with orange juice, we are not champagne people.
  • I do not have my finger on the pulse of popular music as evidenced by my not knowing half the people performing on New Year's Rockin' Eve. Justin Bieber who?
  • Unlike the Black Eyed Peas, I do not got your boom boom pow. Hell, I don't even know what your boom boom pow is. Sorry.