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8 posts from September 2010

Hit me baby one more time...

Welcome to Snippet Wednesday. Just barely making the cut (again), but I'm here!

ALDI
Katie was out trying to use our bank card to buy something today when it was declined. We theorized that it was just a communication error with the scanner, but then it happened at a second place. She called the bank and found out that both of our bank cards had been canceled and new ones issued due to a data compromise on the part of a vendor. While at work, Katie had two customers come in paying by check because their bank cards had also been canceled by their respective banks. They told Katie it was due to ALDI Grocery Stores.

We had seen something on a news teaser last week, but never saw the actual story, so I Googled it and wound up with a bunch of stories about a debit card/PIN number swiping scam that had been occuring at several Chicagoland ALDIs (ours in St. Charles included) as well as some in Indianapolis. Oh yay! As a preventative measure, most banks canceled the cards of customers that had been used at potentially effected stores. Nothing had happened to our account, but it did make us wonder if this was how my bank card got spoofed last year. Hmmm...

So a tip to all you ALDI shoppers, USE CASH!

Brittany
Recently, Katie and I started watching Glee. We're pretty much all caught up on season 1 (missed a couple episodes, unfortunately) and we're up to date on season 2. It's an interesting show. Very well done and the actors are pretty good (even though I want to bitchslap Rachel Barry nearly every episode). I can understand why people are Gleeks over it.

Brittany But if there's any one aspect of the show that Katie and I love more than anything, it's Brittany. For those of you who haven't watched, she's one of the Cheerios (the school's cheerleaders) that is actually part of the New Directions (the glee club) and she is to this show what Ralphie Wiggum is to The Simpsons. Both are minor characters that usually meld into the background save for an occasional one liner that is typically more memorable than anything else in the show. She's got some true gems like...

"Sometimes I forget my middle name."

"I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist."

"Does he mean like a burglar alarm?" (when told to use protection during sex)

"This room looks like that room on that spaceship when I got probed."

"It's a male duck." (when asked what a ballad is)

This week's episode, though, was Brittany's time to shine as it was all about Britney Spears. When all done up in terms of costume, hair, and makeup, I often couldn't tell the difference between Brittany and Britney. Eerily uncanny. But, dayamn! Brittany was rockin' the episode. The actress who plays her, Heather Morris, is a former dancer for Beyonce and it shows. She's got serious moves. I've seen her dance in previous episodes, but this was an entirely different ball of wax. All Brittany, all the time. I liked it.

Kevin
I got an e-mail the other day from a guy who shares my last name. I opened and read it and he detailed for me a family vacation they had taken, how his family was doing, that his dog had died and how he was feeling as a result.

Then he wished me a happy 62nd birthday.

Woah. Hold the phone. My birthday's not until December. And, while I know I'm getting up there in age, I'm certainly no 62.

Turns out he was trying to contact a different Kevin Apgar. One whose name I've seen many times when I've Googled myself and he even used to return higher results than me. Not anymore. I've kinda become cooler than him.

I explained this all in a reply e-mail to my mystery sender.

And I offered condolences on the loss of Gus. Sounded like a good dog.

WWF
Now that Katie and I both have iPhones, we've taken to playing a few games here and there. Our latest addiction is Words With Friends, which is basically a spin on Scrabble. Just a little looser in terms of useable words.

If you're a WWF fiend, look us up and challenge us. I'm "kapgar" and Katie is "ktkat216."

Okay, I'm outta here. Talk to you soon. Hopefully sooner rather than later.


Do you know your enemy...

Yesterday, Katie and I did a massively thorough cleaning of the house. Thorough to the point where I was up on a ladder cleaning the Golden Gate picture frames and the high windows and soffet in our living room as well as the arced window and chandelier lamp in our entryway. I was taking care of dust and grime that hadn't been touched in a while.

That's about the only thing I can think of that we did that might have caused this deep-chest cough that I now have. It's a cough that I was able to control relatively decently during the day with liquids. It seemed entirely manageable when we went to see Easy A with my brother and SiL. I think I may have only coughed once or twice during the entire movie.

That evening was a different matter altogether. Katie and I were watching football and reading books in bed and my cough came back full force. So I took some allergy meds, a swig of Delsym (a cough suppressant), and located a blister pack of Chloraseptic. Again, I seemed to get it under control.

Then came 3 a.m., and one of my worst coughing fits ever. It wasn't even coughing that woke me up. I'd had another one of my ridiculously vivid dreams. It was very cool and one whose storyline continued in my head even as I lay in bed awake. I had to get this thing written down, I had absolutely no desire to forget it whatsoever. So I made the damn-fool mistake of getting up and heading to the bathroom where I could sit and jot down what I remembered from my dream without waking Katie.

Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

The shift from prone to upright position clearly knocked everything loose in my lungs and throat and the coughing began again in full force.

Now, not only was I unable to get back to sleep because of my coughing (and the fact that my brain was continuing to mentally write the dream I had), but it was also keeping Katie awake.

And thus the story of why I'm in the living room posting to my blog at 4 a.m.

This should make for a fine day of work, don'cha think?

There is no question in my mind that the Chicago Bears lost the season opener to the Detroit Lions. It may be marked down as a Bears' win in the record books, but it just wasn't. Calvin Johnson's last-second reception in the endzone, I don't care what the rulebook says, was a touchdown. That rule is bunk and I can't believe the refs enforced it in good conscience.

However, this week, the Bears beat the Dallas Cowboys fair and square and it felt sooooo good. (Sorry Ren!)

I don't much like the Cowboys. And, although I can say the feeling of "hate" that I once felt for them has abated to the point where I believe I can actually respect them as a team and I do like several individual players, Evil-monkeyit still feels nice to have that one team that I can think of as "the enemy." Someone to point at and snarl as though I were the evil monkey in Chris' closet in The Family Guy.

Why the animosity? I don't really know why. It's not like they did something to me personally. I cannot nail it down to a certain event. Not like when Duke's Christian Laettner dropped in that buzzer beater against my Kentucky Wildcats in the 1992 NCAA Tournament (I won't even get into his stepping habits).

Perhaps it's less an event and more of an attitude that disgusted me about the Cowboys. I just didn't like the triumvirate of evil that was Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and, especially, Michael Irvin. I couldn't stand the arrogance of that team. Yes, they won. They were a great team. They were, supposedly, "America's Team" (clearly not my America), but I hated them all the same.

I have my "evil" teams in most sports leagues. Obviously the Duke Blue Devils in NCAA Basketball. The Iowa Hawkeyes in NCAA Football. The Atlanta Braves in the MLB. The Detroit Pistons in the NBA. The Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL. Some with reason, some without.

But there is no team I hated more during their heyday than the Cowboys.

So yesterday's win felt good. Very good.

Again... sorry, Ren.


Running into the sun, but I'm running behind...

I have a very vivid dreamstate when I sleep.

There's sometimes a ridiculous level of detail to my dreams and I also have a series of recurrent themes and settings. An example of the latter is that I've dreamed many times of a place that is clearly the campus of my alma mater, but, it's also not. There are all these changes... new buildings, a couple new roads, that sort of thing. And these changes remain so consistent amongst my dreams that involve this campus as a setting that I could practically draw up a map.

This altered-state campus played a part in my dream last night.

Apparently, I was running a marathon through the campus and surrounding town. And it was a messed-up marathon, too. There were guides there to help you know which way to go, but even they weren't sure what was the official route. So they just kept pointing people in a variety of directions and clusters of runners were crossing paths and colliding.

That's not even the weirdest part. About five miles into this "marathon," my clothes disappeared. I looked down and I was running stark naked.

But wait, it gets stranger... I didn't stop. I just kept running. Around real parts of campus. Through imagined portions, too. In buildings. Through classrooms. Along streets. To quote Forrest Gump, "I was run-nayng."

And I finished the marathon, all 26.2 miles of it. The last 21+ naked. Oh, and after the marathon, I became one of the most searched topics on Google and a trending topic on Twitter.

In my dream, I was so proud.

In real life, I'm at a loss.

I pray there's no possible interpretation of this dream.

On the way home last night from a signing with Chicago Blackhawks Center Dave Bolland, I decided to stop at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (known as "Fermilab" around these parts). It's not like I have business there. In fact, my grasp of science is so bad that it would likely be in the lab's best interests to keep me far, far away.

However, they have a buffalo ranch on their grounds! For years, I've wanted to drop by and take photos of them. I've never really seen a buffalo before, other than in a zoo. And, for some reason, I never stopped by. It's on my way home, for God's sake.

Last night, on a whim, I decided to give it a shot.

Have you ever seen a buffalo up close? They're amazing creatures. Stunningly majestic. They saw me coming and stopped what they were doing to walk up to the fence and check me out, too. I snapped dozens of shots of them. Sorry, I have yet to offload the photos from my camera, but I do have one from my iPhone to share.

Eventually, like most other living creatures, they got bored with me and moved on. And they displayed their disgust over me quite explicitly. Several peed a giant yellow stream akin to what a garden hose might output. Another reared up his hind leg to fully expose his ass and then wrenched his head around to lick himself in my general direction. Have you ever seen a buffalo's butthole? I can now say I have.

But, the fact that something that big was also that flexible was kinda mind blowing. Remember back when George Bush used "Shock and Awe" in a public speech? He wasn't talking about the war in the Middle East, he was talking about buffalo perfect circles. Wow.


Cause you cannot fight the television...

Since the fall television season is about to begin in earnest, howsabout a TV-themed Snippet Wednesday?

Hawaii
I can't say that I'm really looking very forward to any of the new shows coming up on the boob tube, however, Katie and I will be giving a shot to a couple newbies. One of these shows is the revamped Hawaii Five-0. I'm tentatively optimistic about it. The good? It's got a pretty decent cast in Scott Caan (Ocean's Eleven), Alex O'Loughlin (Moonlight), Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica), and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost). The bad? It's a used idea. Hell, it's not just a used idea, it's used everything down to the title, setting, and cast of characters. But it still looks like it could be kinda decent. We're also going to try Blue Bloods primarily because we get to see the 'stache return in the form of Tom Selleck. Sure, he's no longer Thomas Magnum, but at least he's got the facial hair back. I'm not expecting much else from it, though. I think one of the only other new shows we're trying out is Running Wilde simply because Katie and I are junkies for Keri Russell.

Glee
Glee-theatricality-kiss Since we borrowed the first half of season one DVDs from the SiL, Katie and I love Glee. Yes, we're Gleeks and proud of it. we've been trying to catch up on the second half via TiVo recordings, but FOX isn't reairing all of them. Only select few. But we've got the basic gist of what's happening and will continue to watch into season two. However, last night, we watched the reairing of the Lady Gaga/KISS episode and, being a longtime KISS fan, I must take issue with something... Gene "The Demon" Simmons DOES NOT play drums and his kabuki'd image DOES NOT appear on the drumheads for the band. Finn should have donned the makeup for Peter "Catman" Criss or Eric "The Fox" Carr. Yes, I'm anal retentive like that. I could get really into the actual makeup design, but I won't. And my friend, Mike, would be proud of my attention to detail.

Summer
One of the things I don't like is that the start of fall television marks the end of my summer season of shows. Stuff like Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, The Closer, Royal Pains, Rizzoli & Isles, and Flashpoint (currently one of our favorite dramas) make for some of the best TV viewing around. And I also really like the 8-12 episode seasons that off-season dramas employ. If a show has a season-long story arc, having this abbreviated season tends to cut out a lot of the crap and make the episodes tighter and more exciting. I feel like most of the 22-24 episode network dramas have too much fluff or strained writing that takes away from the shows. I can use NBC's Chuck as an example of before and after. While I enjoyed the first season of the show, having a full 24 episodes got a little dull. The following two seasons were both mid-season replacements at 12 episodes each and the show got so much better. There's little to no downtime and anything that might otherwise be unexciting either never gets taped or winds up on the cutting room floor. Plus, if networks were to cut many of their dramas to 12 episode seasons, they'd have time to give other shows a chance. They could technically have three seasons each year... fall, winter, and summer.

Boys
I just found out yesterday that TBS's My Boys, also a summertime favorite of ours, has been canceled. While I'm upset, I have to admit that the last couple seasons have been less than thrilling. Still enjoyable, but not up to the bar set by seasons one and two. Plus, if you watched the season four finale, you've gotta agree that it wrapped things up pretty nicely. No real loose ends left unresolved. It was well planned. I'll miss you, P.J., but you bowed out on a high note.

Criminal
There is one show that Katie and I have loved for a while now, the return of which frightens us a bit... Criminal Minds. Why? Because it was announced over the summer that A.J. Cook (J.J. Jareau) was unexpectedly let go from the cast. In addition to that, Paget Brewster (Emily Prentiss) is supposed to now have a significantly reduced role. What the what?!?! It had been announced that Kirsten Vangsness' (Penelope Garcia) role was being reduced as well, but this is solely because she will be playing the same character on the spinoff show Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, starring Forrest Whitaker and Janeane Garofalo.

Okay, time to go. Adieu!


I became awake from a very dark place...

Would you like a Snippet Wednesday recap of my morning from hell? No? Then you might want to stop reading now.

Still here?

You asked for it.

Heel
As I was walking around this morning getting ready for the gym and work, I discovered a pain in my left heel. It's pretty normal. I have this chronic crack problem (heh heh) with my heel. It tends to get a lot of dead skin in the form of a callous and then it cracks. I do take care of it and use a Ped Egg to get rid of it pretty regularly and douse it in lotion. But, no matter how much work I do to it, the crack always comes back in the same spot. It doesn't matter what I do, it never permanently goes away. And it can be pretty painful every so often. So I put some Neutrogena Cracked Heel cream on it and decided I was going to ride a bike at the gym instead of run to give it a break. Strike 1.

Book
When I ride a bike at the gym, I'm actually able to read while I work out. Obviously not while running or using an elliptical machine... so much bouncing around that I'd get a headache. So I thought, "Great! I really want to keep reading my book, Gods Behaving Badly," only to discover I'd left the book at work the night before. Strike 2.

Clothes
So I pack my stuff and head to the gym. I get a locker and go to unload my stuff only to discover that, of all things, I forgot to bring my pants for work. Seriously, WTF? Of course, this means I had to shower at home and reduce my workout time. Yay. On the way home for my shower, I realized it's probably a good thing I'm heading home because I also forgot to pack a set of clothes for yoga at lunchtime. Strike 3.

And I'm outta here like the Cubs pennant chances.

If you want to ensure just how "outta here" I truly am, here's one more for ya...

Music
Speaking of leaving stuff at work, I downloaded some music to my computer this morning that I was really looking forward to listening to today on my iPod. Of course, I left my iPod at work. No new music for the Kevvy Kev today. Strike 4. That's like a Super Out, isn't it?

I know I don't usually do a TUA in concert with a Snippet Wednesday since a TUA really is just a Snippet. But since the Snippets are on a theme and this is totally unrelated to that theme, I thought why not.

If there is one good thing to come from today, it was my first experience with Yoga Nidra.

It is, by definition, "yoga sleep" and comes from meditation. Our yoga instructor decided to try this with us today per a suggestion I gave her. And I'm so glad I did. I feel so ridiculously relaxed right now. I have to pick up an audio version so that I can introduce this to Katie.

Wow! Just... wow!


Tastes so good, make a grown man cry...

So how was your extended weekend (well, that question is aimed more at my U.S. readership)? Katie and I spent some time with our families on Saturday and Sunday. However, Monday was for her and I. And we celebrated Labor Day by laboring in the kitchen, over a large pan of Chicken a la King and a homemade pie.

I would like to take a moment to focus on the word "homemade." Why? Because this was Katie's first attempt at making a whole pie from scratch. She's made pies before, but she used to buy a finished crust or the premade, rolled-out dough. This time, it was all by hand. And it was sooooo good.

Would you like to see?

Photo365 Day 242: Pie Maker
Pouring the fruit filling into the pie. For the record, that's a mixture of peaches, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries... all purchased fresh and whole at Trader Joe's.

The Finished Product
The finished pie after baking. It burst through a little bit. Oh well. And that's a cinnamon and sugar dusting on top.

Yum!
Sliced and a la moded!

Oh yes, we labored hard. And enjoyed the fruits of said labors very much!

Don't forget to wipe the drool off your keyboards. ;-)


You've got to humanize yourself...

I'm going to hit you with a Snippet Thursday: The Reckoning with a theme today. It's going to be all about the show True Blood and my current disappointment in season 2.

Yes, you read that correctly. I loved season 1, but, seven episodes into season 2, I'm left with a pretty hollow feeling so far. Maybe the final five episodes will right that, but I just don't know.

Oh, and if you haven't watched season 2 yet and plan to, you might want to skip this post. It will be full of spoilers. So consider that your **SPOILER ALERT**

Bill
I'll be honest with you, Bill Compton is really starting to wear on me. He's become very whiny lately always bitching about Jessica or his relationship with Sookie, or the fact that Eric is "using" Sookie "inappropriately." Dude, you're a vampire... stop that now. You're becoming worse for the image of vampires than Edward from Twilight.

Sucky
Speaking of Sookie, another thing that annoys me to tears is Bill's constant hissing of her name and making it sound like "Sssuckeeee." Dude, I get it, you're a Brit playing a southern gentleman. But take a cue from Sam Trammell who plays Sam Merlotte. He's a native N'awlins boy and, when he says her name, it sounds like "Sookie" with a twang, the way it should be.

It has actually become a bit of a joke between Katie and me and anytime we hear Bill say her name, we bust out in a chorus of the "Suck It" product jingle that David Wallace and his son wrote in The Office. One of us will say "Sssuckeee" and the other chimes in with "Yeah!"

This was all Katie's idea.

Sex
Speaking of Sucky, I get that Bill and Sookie are enjoying the sexual aspect of their relationship. Very much, apparently. And I hate to sound like a prude when I say this, but do we have to see it all the time? And all these freaking orgies that Maryann keeps holding in the woods near Bon Temps? Really? I'm not easily offended, but I'm getting a little tired of this. It's like they're doing it just because they can and they need something to fill the 54 minutes in each episode. Also, as a heterosexual male, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I'm really getting sick of seeing Anna Paquin's boobs in nearly every episode. I'm guessing the embarrassment comes more from the fact that I so highly hyped this series to my wife and now here we are watching this and she's clearly uncomfortable so, by association, I am too.

Grams
I think what this show is desperately lacking right now is a moral center. In the first season, this role was assumed by Sookie and Jason's grandmother. As anyone who watched season 1 knows, she's dead now. And Katie and I both miss her terribly. When Andy Bellefleur is the closest thing you have to a moral compass in Bon Temps in season 2, you know something's wrong.

Jessica
JessicaHoyt This is one area where I have actually shifted my view. When Bill created her last season and when she returned to live with Bill initially this season, I couldn't stand Jessica. Just a bratty teen. However, once she was introduced to Hoyt and the two of them started seeing each other, I really began to like her. In fact, the burgeoning love story with Jessica and Hoyt is one of the best things going in the season, IMHO. I really want those two crazy kids to work out. Something tells me they won't, but a guy can hope!

Jason
Just when I was beginning to enjoy the story with Jason and the Light of Day Institute, they had to go and discover who his sister was, didn't they? Man! And Sarah shoots him in this last episode we just finished watching? Even I know it was the paint gun that Jason and Steve were using for target practice on the course a few episodes before. Did the writers really think I'd forget that soon? That is what happens, right? Well, I guess we do get a bit of a change of pace for once... instead of a woman that Jason messes around with being found dead as per season 1, this time she at least gets to think she killed him.

Godric
I get that Godric is a 2,000-year-old vampire and the creator of Eric and I understand why saving him is important, but this hunt and the trip to Dallas and all that jazz has been just completely underwhelming in terms of excitement level. I enjoyed seeing the history sequences between Eric and Godric, but even that isn't making up for my overall boredom with the storyline. Tell me it gets better.

Funny thing I'm noticing, I seem to prefer vampire stories that explain how certain vampires are created more than the rest of the story being told. I like the creation sequences in the Twilight books, particularly Jasper and Rosalie. I liked the creation of Louis by Lestat in Interview with the Vampire. And I liked the creations of Eric and Bill in this series. But anything that happens after that kinda pales by comparison. Am I weird in that regard? Anyone? Anyone?

Good?
Not all of this season is entirely bad. As I said, I like where the Jessica storyline is going, so long as it doesn't take a 180-degree turn.

I was briefly enjoying the Daphne and Sam bit. Until she was revealed to be a Maryann minion. Very disappointing.

I really like Terry Bellefleur and am happy he's playing a much larger part this season even if it involves dating Arlene. But the scene where he defended Lafayette against Andy was great and has quickly become one of my favorite scenes of the series.

And I still get to see where the Jason vs. LODI storyline will go. I'm looking forward to that quite a bit. I wanna see Stackhouse go postal on a bunch of born-again Christians.

Tell me it's worth it. That I won't be regretting seeing this season through to the end. Is season 3 better?