Entertainment 2009

Why dance around to the same damn song...

I told you I'd post it today, and I posted it today. Whether my RSS feed updates is outside my control. So for that I'm sorry.

But I welcome you to the 2009 Primetime TV Kappy Awards!

A few notes... these awards relate to shows as they aired in the 2009 calendar year (with one exception detailed below), not the traditional network television season, not the non-traditional cable television season, not nothing like that. Just what's going on. Coolness? 

First, the list of shows we've watched over the last year from which these awards are derived:

  • Mad Men
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Castle
  • Life
  • Life on Mars
  • The Closer
  • The Cleaner
  • The Office
  • Criminal Minds
  • Burn Notice
  • Psych
  • The Good Wife
  • NCIS: Los Angeles
  • 24
  • True Blood
  • Flashpoint
  • Chuck
  • My Boys
  • Royal Pains
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • NUMB3RS
  • Private Practice
  • White Collar
  • Men of a Certain Age
  • 30 Rock
  • Cougar Town
  • Modern Family
  • Gary Unmarried
  • Dexter
  • Damages
  • The Amazing Race (Fall 2009)
  • I think that's about it. God, I hope that's about it.

    Let's proceed...

    Acting Awards:
    • Best Dramatic Acting - Jon Hamm, "Don Draper," Mad Men
    • Best Comedic Acting - Jim Parsons, "Sheldon Cooper," The Big Bang Theory
    • Best Dramatic 1-2 Punch - Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, "Richard Castle and Kate Beckett," Castle - sure, this is borderline between drama and comedy, but you'll just have to accept that I'm using it as drama
    • Psychusa Best Comedic 1-2 Punch - James Roday and Dule Hill, "Shawn Spencer and Burton 'Gus' Guster," Psych (at right) - this one is more comedy than drama despite being a cop show like Castle
    • Best Dramatic Ensemble - Burn Notice - and, if you're smart, you're tuned in to the Burn Notice marathon on USA as I type this
    • Best Comedic Ensemble - The Big Bang Theory
    • Best Male Comeback - (tie) Nathan Fillion, "Richard Castle," Castle and Ed O'Neill, "Jay Pritchett," Modern Family
    • Best Female Comeback - Courtney Cox, "Jules Cobb," Cougar Town
    • Best One-Off Guest Role - Wil Wheaton, "Wil Wheaton," The Big Bang Theory
    • Dark Alley Award - Jimmy Smits, "Miguel Prado," Dexter - yeah, his run on the show aired in late 2008, but not being a Showtime subscriber, I didn't have it available to me until 2009; and he was just too bad ass to not have earned this designation
    Show Awards:
    • Best Drama - Castle
    • Best Comedy - The Big Bang Theory
    • Canceled Too Soon - (tie) Life on Mars and Life
    • Most Overstayed Welcome - The Cleaner - it was amazing how quickly this show went from really exciting and a great vehicle for Benjamin Bratt to a lot of the same old, same old... and then cancellation 
    • Lost in Left Field - Grey's Anatomy - this show needs to find its way and we keep hoping it will but it just adds too many new characters all the damn time in a pathetic attempt at self resuscitation and it consequently loses us
    • Where the Hell'd You Go - Flashpoint - this is simply because we love this show and we want it back
    • Most Surprising Show (in a Good Way) - Cougar Town - we started watching this not expecting much at all and darn if it doesn't make us laugh harder than many shows
    • Second Chancer - Modern Family - we watched the first two episodes and didn't really care too much for it; then, due to prompting from one of Katie's students, we started again about a month or so later and now we love it
    Network Awards:
    • Best Network - USA - c'mon! It has Burn Notice, Psych, Royal Pains and White Collar!
    • Worst Network - NBC - according to Katie, we have one night of television (Thursday) that we watch and they killed an entire primetime hour every night of the week for a Jay Leno variety show that couldn't possibly be any worse than it is, or could it?

    Would you counternominate any actors or shows in these categories? Please share!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

    I always intend to do one of those year-end wrap-ups that so many other bloggers do so well, but I get so locked up in these awards I do that I forget.

    How about we talk about the actual day instead? So how'd you spend it?

    Katie and I did the same thing we like to do each year... wine, Chinese food, pajamas, and movies!

    Can it be any better?


    Everybody's singin', all the bells are ringing out...

    Hey all, Merry Christmas!

    Yes, I said it. I opted for political incorrectness and y'all are just gonna have to deal with it. Heh.

    I just wanted to quickly share one gift that we exchanged. This was with some of the cousins on Katie's mom's side of the family. In lieu of regular, paid-for, what-retailers-are-begging-for gifts, we decided to make mix CDs of music we enjoy for everybody else. No, we're not making mix discs of music the recipient would like. These are of music we like in order to potentially introduce the recipient to new stuff.

    Sounds like it should be pretty cool. Especially being the music fiend I am, right?

    Not so. I hate making mix albums. I was dreading this. I remember the John Cusack character (Rob Gordon) in High Fidelity describing all the work he puts into the creation of a mix tape and similar information is shared by Rob Sheffield in his book Love is a Mix Tape. And, based solely on this input, I've been scared off of ever making mixes. Stuff like the delicate mix between soft and fast music, the blending of the end of one track into the beginning of the next, etc. I'm a perfectionist and, if I can't do something right, I don't want to do it at all. That's just how I am. 

    However, after making the actual exchange yesterday, I feel much better about it. Everyone was really excited checking out the mixes that we all put together. Then, with those couple of people that forgot to include a tracklist, we threw the discs in a stereo and played "Name that Song." It was really fun despite my earlier dread. And Katie and I are kinda hoping we do it again next year. Heck, she's already planning out what she wants to do for hers.

    But here are the albums we put together. Let me know what you think.

    First, the covers. The covers are basically a photo of us die cut on top of a wallpaper of the album art for the songs contained on the disc. Disc one on the left is the disc in Katie's name and disc two is the one from me.

    The KA2 Xmas Mixes

    And now for the music...

    Disc 1 (Katie's mix):

    • The Smiths - "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want"
    • Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson - "Relator"
    • Rascal Flatts - "Life is a Highway" - she was worried about this fitting in, but it actually sounds decent, I think
    • She & Him - "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?"
    • Dave Matthews Band - "Why I Am"
    • Weezer - "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To"
    • Scissor Sisters - "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'"
    • Katy Perry - "Hot n Cold"
    • Doves - "There Goes the Fear"
    • Norah Jones - "Chasing Pirates"
    • Imani Coppola - "Legend of a Cowgirl"
    • Lady Gaga - "The Fame"
    • Phoenix - "Rome"
    • I Fight Dragons - "Heads Up, Hearts Down"
    • The All-American Rejects - "Gives You Hell"
    • 30 Seconds to Mars - "This is War"
    • Paramore - "Ignorance"
    • Pearl Jam - "Just Breathe"

    Disc 2 (my mix):

    • The Flaming Lips - "Race for the Prize"
    • Matt & Kim - "Lessons Learned"
    • Pomplamoose - "Beat the Horse"
    • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "The Tenure Itch"
    • The Republic Tigers - "Buildings & Mountains"
    • Blitzen Trapper - "Gold for Bread"
    • Stardeath and White Dwarfs - "New Heat"
    • The Mooney Suzuki - "Alive & Amplified"
    • Tokyo Police Club - "Tesselate"
    • Razorlight - "America"
    • Phoenix - "Lasso"
    • Silverchair - "Straight Lines"
    • Wolfmother - "New Moon Rising"
    • Damone - "Out Here All Night"
    • Foo Fighters - "Wheels"
    • Bear in Heaven - "You Do You"
    • Modest Mouse - "Guilty Cocker Spaniel"
    • Dungen - "Du ar for Fin for Mig"

    I was expecting most people to not know a majority of the stuff on my disc. I relish the thought of it being a musical expedition of sorts.

    LemonadeAlice at Beyond Alice and Through the Looking Glass has bequeathed unto me the Lemonade Award, or at least that's what I think it's called. Might have something to do with being able to turn lemons into lemonade via your blog posting or maybe it has more to do with having posts that grate on your nerves like a sour lemon. Meh, I'll take it either way. Thanks Alice!

    And now for the rules...

    • Put the Lemonade logo on your blog or within your post.
    • Nominate at least 10 blogs with great attitude or gratitude.
    • Link the nominees within your post.
    • Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
    • Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.

    Well, let's see what I can cobble together here. Mind you, these are just 10 of the many blogs I read and love every day. So, if you're not included, it's not from a lack of love. Trust me on that one.

    Oh, and as for the fourth bullet, I may or may not get around to that right away. We all know my piss-poor commenting of late.

    Merry Christmas to all my lemonheads out there!

    Well, I'm outta here. Talk atcha soon.


    Could you go and run into me...

    I don't know why this year was such a tough one from which to cull a top-ten album list.

    Oh wait, yes, I do know. It's the fault of that damn Amazon MP3 store and all the discounts and freebies they offer. I've discovered that about 2/3 of the music in my iTunes player actually was purchased or ripped this calendar year and a disproportionate amount of it came from Amazon... I bless and curse you!

    Anyway.

    I pared my list down from about 2,100 songs released this year to just 10 albums, and it was a bitch to say the least. So without further ado, I present you with the Kapgar Top 10 Albums of 2009 starting from the bottom of the list and moving to the top. So, um, that means the bottom of the list will show up at the top and the top of the list shows up at the bottom and, well, screw it. If you don't get it...

    Oh, and "Track It" is just my cutesy way of recommending a single track on the album. Just click one of the album links at the top of the listing and you can go to either Amazon or iTunes to listen to the "Track It" single.

    10. Flo Rida - R.O.O.T.S. (Route Of Overcoming The Struggle) - Amazon | iTunes
    It took about three months before I finally discovered that first album of 2009 that moved me and that album was R.O.O.T.S. This marked my first time listening to Flo Rida even though I'd heard of him long before this album was released. I do believe I made the jump due to some deal on Amazon that was just too good to pass up. I'm glad I jumped.
    Track It - "Be On You" featuring Ne-Yo

    9. The Flaming Lips - Embryonic - Amazon | iTunes
    For a second there, I was almost afraid that my favorite live act of the year wasn't going to make the top album list. I might have actually felt bad about it, but this is a strange album even by Lips standards. It's a very moody, binaural cacophony of experimental noise that really allows the musicianship of Michael Ivins, Steven Drozd, and Kliph Scurlock to shine.
    Track It - "Silver Trembling Hands"

    8. Pearl Jam - Backspacer - No longer available in Amazon's MP3 Store | iTunes
    I remember reading another review of this album that said something along the lines of how Backspacer is the first album in years to come from Pearl Jam where they actually sound like they enjoy writing music again. I'd have to agree. This is one of the most upbeat works to come from PJ in years and my favorite since Vitalogy.
    Track It - "Johnny Guitar"

    7. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Amazon | iTunes
    I have a lot of trouble describing this album to people or comparing it to anything else. It was recommended to me by the music editors at Amazon and I've loved it ever since. Simply put, you should just give a listen to this NYC outfit.
    Track It - "The Tenure Itch"

    6. Pomplamoose - Pomplamoose Videosongs - Amazon | iTunes
    I do believe it was my buddy, Iron Fist, who guided this parched horse to the water that is Pomplamoose. They are an NYC duo, she the vocals and he the multi-instrumentalist. They've firmly lodged their foot in the YouTube door with interesting spins on Beyonce's "All the Single Ladies" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It," but this eight-track EP proves that they are not just cover wonders. How did an EP make a top album list? Well, when your eight tracks constitute a much more solid overall album than most others, why the heck not?
    Track It - "Beat the Horse"

    5. Stardeath and White Dwarfs - The Birth - Amazon | iTunes
    In a case of the student besting the teacher, Stardeath and White Dwarfs, consisting of members of The Flaming Lips' road crew and Wayne Coyne's own nephew, have put together one of my favorite pieces of eclectica (not a word... yet) that I've heard in some time. It's a fun mix of sounds and vocals and I really hope to hear how they sound live. And, yes, I did spell it right. They call themselves "Dwarfs" not "Dwarves." Merriam and Webster are rolling in their graves.
    Track It - "New Heat"

    4. Matt & Kim - Grand - Amazon | iTunes
    Special Note: this album is only $5 through the end of December 2009!
    Punk is a misunderstood genre anymore. Many artists claim to be punk who clearly are not. Matt and Kim claim to be punk and, thankfully, are. They are a New York duo (geez, what the hell is it with NYC this year???) who were classmates in college and decided to start a band, learning their instruments on the fly. They learned quick and so are we as fans. In their few short years of existence, they've rocked the stages at Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, and Pitchfork just to name a few. Sadly, I missed out on their Pitchfork performance. I didn't get tickets for that day. Dammitalltohell! I will not make that mistake again.
    Track It - "Lessons Learned"

    3. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3 - Amazon | iTunes
    If my recollection is correct, I listened to this album straight through something like three times consecutively. I'm sorry, but Jay-Z knows how to write a damn fine album and bring into the studio a laundry list of artists to perform with him including Pharrell, Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Kid Cudi and many more.
    Track It - "Empire State of Mind" with Alicia Keys

    2. Modest Mouse - No One's First and You're Next - Amazon | iTunes
    This EP was only meant to be a way to placate fans until their next full-length album due out in 2010 (I hope) and it has become, in my opinion, one of their better collections of works. The buzz kicked in with "The Whale Song," the video for which was conceived by the late actor and video director Heath Ledger. It continued with the band actually bringing his vision to life with the help of Monty Pythoner Terry Gilliam. It's a fantastic video and an even better album.
    Track It - "Guilty Cocker Spaniel"

    1. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Amazon | iTunes
    Phoenix For the longest time, this album was one that I kept returning to, listening over and over again. Then the songs started showing up in multiple TV shows and on commercials and, I think, even on Muzak. Usually, this equates to musical death for me. Somehow, though, that didn't happen here. Sure, my listening slowed down a bit, but it picked right back up after introducing my wife to them and discovering that they were one of the acts performing at XRT's Big Holiday Concert (even though it turned out to only be a five-song set due to a family emergency with their drummer back home in France). And I'm still listening and turning more and more people on to them. I love it. The album is just damn good electronic-rock and picking out a single song to recommend is not easy, but here goes...
    Track It - "Lasso"

    Well, that's all she wrote. Sure, there are a bunch of albums I never had the chance to listen to this year. It's tough on a limited budget, but I try.


    Tell everybody, waitin' for Superman...

    PhotoStrip-XRTBHC-sm...that his name is Lin Brehmer and he's the morning host on WXRT 93.1 FM Chicago.

    Actually, he was Thor, if the puffy muscle shirt he wore as one of the emcees of last night's XRT Big Holiday Concert was any indication.

    Yes, last night was my third concert of the year and my second one involving The Flaming Lips. Two shows and absolutely no letdown whatsoever from one to the next.

    I got to the show a little early and was able to snag a spot on the floor not too far at all from the stage right in the midst of the pit and surrounded by a bunch of kids. I still don't know if it made me feel younger by association or old and creepy. The jury's out.

    Anyway, the show opened with some local band called, I think, the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra. Not bad.

    Pete Yorn was next and he just rocked out. I've been a Pete Yorn fan since the release of his first album back in 2000, I believe. But this was my first time seeing him live. He performed a variety of songs over the course of about 45 minutes or so and even included solo versions of two of what I consider his best songs from Break Up ("Blackie's Dead" and "Relater"), his duets album with Scarlett Johannson (the video is at this link). He also did a pretty cool medley of Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" and his own "Don't Wanna Cry" from Back & Fourth.

    Before Phoenix took the stage, we were informed that their drummer had a family emergency and, instead of canceling their portion of the show, they would do a stripped-down, four-man acoustic set. The set was only five songs long, but I enjoyed it. And I do not agree with the article making it sound like everyone was booing. Sure there was a little, but I think people for the most part, got behind the idea that they were about to see something that few others would ever see. At least they got "Lisztomania" and "1901" in there. 

    Then it was time for The Lips. God I love Wayne Coyne and the band. Much like their performance at Pitchfork 2009, they had the domed light background that served as a video screen showing accompanying images for the songs. And, at the beginning, it was again used to great effect for the band's vaginal emergence sequence.

    I think what I love most about The Flaming Lips live show is that Wayne Coyne seems to truly appreciate his fans. He strikes me as genuinely humbled knowing that all these people are there watching him and his band play. The Lips are not one of the most well-known bands in the world. In fact, many of the people to whom I told I was going to this show just gave me a funny look like "who?" But this place was packed last night and everyone was completely into it. I don't know how you can't be. The music, the energy, the pageantry of it all. It's almost as though Wayne needs our shared energy to maintain his lifeforce. So he gives us the show we want in exchange for the fuel he needs to keep going. That's the best way I can think to describe it. And it affects you deeply. One of my Tweeps, @CityGirl912, was there as a result of winning a free ticket. She'd never been before and had no idea what to expect. 

    CityGirl912Tweet 

    Hmmm. Think she liked it?

    I guess you could argue The Lips following is almost cult-like. If that's the case, gimme the damn Kool-Aid. I'll drink it. Hell, one of my photos from the show is even my new blog banner... my green alien buddy.

    I did manage to sneak in a camera to take some photos (only a handful of which turned out decently). But I also used it to capture some video of Pete Yorn's "Hungry Heart" / "Don't Wanna Cry" medley, Phoenix's acoustic "1901," and The Lips' vaginal emergence and Wayne's gerbil ball. I'm hoping to take a little time to edit it all together nicely if y'all don't mind a little wait.

    In the meantime, I've got a photo gallery and The Lips' setlist below (as of right now, no one had submitted the setlists for Phoenix or Pete Yorn, bummer).

    [Facebook-ites, click through to be able to see the photos]

    The Flaming Lips setlist


    We care a lot...

    I need BlogFiber. Something that will make me more regular about posting here. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who would benefit from taking this.

    There was a time when, for 14 consecutive months, I posted every single day. Not that I ever want to go back to that again. That was hell. Not that I didn't enjoy the writing or struggle for something to say. I had ideas coming out the proverbial yin-yang. I only wish I'd held onto a few of them for these dry spells.

    Oh well. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20.

    Now I'm lucky to post three or four times a week. For those of us who live and die by RSS feeds, that's not really all that big a deal. We simply wait until notification arrives in our aggregator letting us know that a new post is up.

    But not everyone "gets" RSS. Sure it's free, but they don't understand how to use it or whatnot. And I can understand that. Not all of us are geeks and I'm not going to hold that against you. These people have blogs like mine bookmarked and just make return visits when they have time in hopes of finding something new to read. And here's little ol' me giving you jack shit for your loyalty.

    So I'm going to try to be a little more fair to you and your faithfulness. To that end, I've implemented an e-mail notifier on this blog. Simply enter your e-mail address and you should receive an e-mail when I post something new. Bear in mind, I did try to implement one of these some time ago from a third-party source and it didn't work. Hence why I hadn't done it since. But Typepad's been rolling out a bunch of new features lately and they've all been pretty reliable in their functionality. With this one working in conjunction with FeedBurner, it should work quite nicely. Here's hoping!

    All you need to do is visit that little box in the bottom of the right column and sign up. It looks like this...

    Subscribe
    [this is not the actual box;
    you won't be able to type anything in it;
    use the one over to the right --> ]

    You may encounter a CAPTCHA verification and then a confirmation e-mail, but those are all pretty easy peasey.

    See? I do care!

    Lots of people have asked that age-old question "if you could meet any one person, alive or dead, who would it be?" on their blogs.

    That question is boring. It always winds up being some great world leader or philosopher or thinker or the like. Plllbbbtttt! Yes, that's right, I just blew an e-raspberry at the great people of the world. BO-RING!

    I want to ask something a bit different...

    If you could sit in a bar and do shots with anybody, who would it be? And let's keep it to people who are alive, okay? And have some fun with it. None of the standard answers.

    Me? I want to do shots with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips and Chad Ochocinco (nee Johnson) of the Cincinnati Bengals. 

    Coyne  Ochocinco

    Why? I'm really not entirely sure. I just get this feeling that it would be a blast, they'd both have great stories to tell, and there would be some fantastic drunken Tweets (Chad does have his own account, too) and videos to post on this blog afterwards.

    Plus, you'd need one helluva twisted mind to come up with the stunts that Chad does as well as this video from the Lips.

    Ummm, I'm gonna make you link over to the video as it's severely NSFW (as in Not Safe For Work). Don't say I didn't warn you.


    We don't need no water...

    I love not-so-subtle wordplay... I enjoy coming up with creative ways to say things... twisting words to create meanings or thoughts contrary to what was intended...

    For example, last night I posted the following message on both Facebook and Twitter...

    CFA-twitter-me 

    Sounds pretty twisted, doesn't it? Kinda kinky and sexual, wouldn't you say?

    The truth, however, is anything but. See the photo slideshow below to see what I mean (Facebookers, click through).

    It was Fire Academy. We were using air tanks to crawl through a lit-up smokehouse crawling around on all fours and attempting to crane our necks upwards to see the fire while also looking down to follow the hose through the building.

    I was discussing this at length tonight with a friend. She got a bit of a kick out of it, but wasn't convinced. So I threw this one at her based on our situation at the time I was talking to her.

    "Right now, I'm half naked with a woman who is not my wife climbing all over me."

    And this statement was 100% true. She died laughing. Mostly at how dirty it sounded. Partially at the fact that I managed to say that with a straight face and so off the cuff.

    Turns out I'd managed to turn a simple chiropractic appointment into a tawdry sexual affair.

    Oh God, how I love words. I seriously need to be a political spin doctor.

    I'm watching V right now. The remake, relaunch, reboot. Whatever you want to call it.

    I'm not entirely sure what to make of it all.

    It's got promise, I suppose. Note, I use "promise" very loosely. But it was all so rushed. So much crammed into a single hour. Half of what they revealed in this episode could've waited another episode or two.

    [episode 1 spoiler below]

    And, for me, the most shocking thing was the idea that Morris Chestnut is, effectively, the modern version's embodiment of Robert Englund's Willie from the original series.

    Morrischestnut  Robertenglund 

    I'll keep watching for now. But I may have to go rent the originals just to remember how cool it was.


    When you wish...

    Taking a cue from Marie's post yesterday, I'm going to write up my own I Wish... list.

    I wish...

    ...Katie would graduate sooner than December, maintain her 4.0, and wind up with many job offers from which to choose her ideal teaching position.

    ...someone would just donate us two new cars.

    ...all my friends in need of a job could find one.

    ...the idiots who skimmed my credit card number would be caught and violated in a very uncomfortable place while wasting away in a foreign prison.

    ...we would get an inordinately high number of trick or treaters this year.

    ...I could take Katie on a trip anywhere in the world she wants to go.

    ...all financial issues would resolve themselves.

    ...I could cook anything without worrying about how it's going to turn out and without relying on cookbooks or recipes; make me Kapgar Batali!

    ...our house would clean itself.

    ...we'd have a grounds crew in our townhouse association that actually made our monthly assessment a worthwhile investment.

    ...that people could accept each other for who they are and stop fighting, name calling, and judging without getting to know someone first.

    ...that two tickets to XRT's Big Holiday Concert 2009 featuring The Flaming Lips, Phoenix, and Pete Yorn would just magically find their way into my hands.

    ...I had an ice cream cone right now. Double scoop. Chocolate Peanut Butter. Waffle cone.

    Yum.

    C'mon. This is me. Did you really expect them all to be serious? Oh and I guess that might count as a meme to some degree, right?

    Well, they didn't "magically find their way into my hands," but I did score tickets to the Big Holiday Concert!

    Sadly, Katie can't go. Bad timing with work and whatnot. But she wanted me to go anyway, even without her. It's me, my Lips-man Eric, and his wife Michelle.

    So, even though it's six days after my birthday, we'll just pretend that the following are in town to help celebrate with me...

    Peteyorn
    Pete Yorn

    Phoenix
    Phoenix

    Flaminglips
    The Flaming Lips

    So, um, yeah, that's two Flaming Lips shows in one year.

    You could argue I'm hooked.

    I'd argue that you're right.


    And if you can find them...

    Consider me jazzed (Thanks Cinematical!)

    This is the first official photo of the main four cast members from the upcoming The A-Team movie. 

    A-team 

    [Click image for viagra-ized version]

    From left: Bradley Cooper as Templeton "Faceman" Peck (originally played by Dirk Benedict), Quintin "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus (originally Mr. T), Sharlto Copley as "Howlin' Mad" Murdock (originally Dwight Schultz), and Liam Neeson as "Hannibal" Smith (originally the late, great George Peppard). 

    Of course, any remake or "relaunch" of something from the past has cause for alarm. How badly will it deviate from the source material? How bad will the new cast be? There's just so much to worry about.

    But I actually think, just based on this photo, that this movie could be fun in a purely popcorn-munching sort of way. No high expectations at all. Just walk into it expecting nothing but shit gettin' blow'd up. Hey, if Liam Neeson kicks even half as much ass as he did in Taken, it will all be worth it.

    I do wonder if people will actually die in the movie unlike the TV show. Yeah, that's right, not a single person died in the show. That was one thing for which it was noted... no deaths. Lots of explosions and people flying haphazard like ragdolls through the air, but they all survived.

    To be filed under "Things I Never Thought I'd Hear Katie Say."

    This morning, she woke up and went into the bathroom to get ready for work. All of a sudden I hear, "OHMIGOD! The toilet seat is cold! If I had balls, they'd be shriveling." 

    I love my wife more than she'll ever know.


    A walk-on would be fine...

    There is a fatal flaw in the logic of mousedom.

    Sure, they're small. They can fit in places you wouldn't ever expect a mouse to be able to fit. They can take advantage of the tiniest of gaps. They're nocturnal and scamper about primarily at times when a majority of humanity is fast asleep. You rarely ever see them until it's too late. 

    The flaw is that they shit more than a newborn double dosing Super Colon Blow (tm). They're compact little crap factories. If Hansel and Gretel wanted to find their way home, they should've brought mice along to leave a poop path as opposed to leaving breadcrumbs in their wake.

    My mouse has been located due to his (or her) inability to control their rectal output. Yes, I found it behind my fridge through the hole in the wall where the waterline for the icemaker is located. There was a pile of shit on the floor under the hole, a trail leading from there to the side of our countertop, and another pile at the floor where they were scaling the counter. Yes, they were pooping the entire way up. If there was a second mouse in this hunter-gatherer pair, I'd sure hate to be him. "Dude! Will you quit shitting in my face!?!?"

    The gaps are now stuffed with steel wool, the plate has been replaced and screwed into the wall, and caulk has been applied to the area between the plate and the recessed valve box.

    I win this battle you little shit mongers!

    Here's some multimedia for you to enjoy. (Yes, Facebookers, now is the time to click through.)

    First, a video. And I have to thank Sizzle for guiding me to this absolutely fantastic visual gem by The Antlers called "Two." It blew my mind. Now I want both this album and a bubble-blowing guitar! How cool would that be?

    Second, a series of photos I took while on a hike with my mom through the Springbrook Prairie Preserve in Naperville. Good times, good photo ops, and good exercise.


    So give me coffee and TV...

    Robin, Dave, and Adam (and perhaps others that I've forgotten to list) have done it, so why not? Here is our list of Big-5 network TV shows we're watching this fall broken down into several categories. 

    For the record, "our" and "we're" refers to "Katie and me," not some split-personalitied version of myself.

    Returning Shows We'll Keep Watching

    • How I Met Your Mother - SUIT UP!
    • Big Bang Theory - You have no idea how much we love this show.
    • The Office - This one, too.
    • 30 Rock - We were late starters with this show, but it's a lot of fun.
    • Gary Unmarried - We were both surprised by how much we enjoyed this show. 
    • Criminal Minds - One of the few crime dramas we actually like.
    • Castle - Crap! I can't believe I forgot to list this the first time through. Thanks Odie! You just can't go wrong with Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic is a great foil to his behavior.
    • Brothers & Sisters - This one is actually a Katie show only. She loves it.
    • Dexter - This is my show and I will find a way to watch it. Even without premium cable.
    • Private Practice - Katie's more into this than I am and considering how much I like a lot of the cast members otherwise (Kate Walsh, Tim Daly, Taye Diggs), that's really surprising. But we'll keep going.

    Returning Shows That Are On the Fence

    • Grey's Anatomy - We were going to quit this show, but I was pretty impressed with the finale from last season and want to see how things wrap up. It may not last, though.
    • NUMB3RS - It's just getting a little uneventful and we don't care much for the newer cast members added over the last couple seasons.
    • Parks and Recreation - We didn't like the first season, but, it could prove to be a slow starter like The Office and it's from the same creators.
    • New Adventures of Old Christine - This show is painful because Julia Louis-Dreyfus is annoying as hell, but the supporting cast is a lot of fun.

    New Shows We'll Give a Shot
    I did mention at one point about how there wasn't much Katie and I were looking forward to in the new season, but we've decided to give a shot to a few shows anyway. Let's see how it goes.

    • Community - So far it's not boding too well. The first ep was almost painful.
    • Vampire Diaries - It's not that good so it may not last, but it's got Ian Somerhalder playing a rather cool and self-assured vampire and, as Katie says, it's better than Twilight (the movie; she loves the books).
    • Modern Family - We've watched the first episode. We're giving it one or two more episodes, tops. 
    • Cougar Town - These expectations are so rock bottom that I'm not even sure why we're bothering.
    • NCIS: Los Angeles - We like LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell, plus we watched some of the original series in syndication recently, so we'll give it a chance.
    • V - This one will likely be all me as well. And I'm very tentative about it. May not last long.

    Big Ol' Hell Nos

    • 90210/Melrose Place - Not a chance in hell.
    • Fringe - I gave it a chance last season and got bored. C'est la vie.
    • Eastwick - A series based on The Witches of Eastwick? Yeah... no.
    • The Mentalist - While I'm over the fact that the concept was stolen from Psych (yeah yeah argue all you want about how much different it may be, whatever), I just can't get over my dislike of Simon Baker. The dude just oozes smarm and I get bad vibes from him. To the degree where I just don't like seeing him.
    • Trauma - Yawn.
    • Mercy - Yawn.
    • Three Rivers - Yawn. So burned on medical dramas.
    • Ugly Betty - So done with this show. The character of Betty has become everything she once battled against. And it used to be so good.
    • And there are so many more, but I just don't want to get into them all.

    Bear in mind, this list does not include any midseason starters like 24, Chuck, and Flashpoint. Nor does it include non-standard-season cable shows like Psych, Mad Men, Burn Notice, My Boys, and Royal Pains, among others.

    The Kapgar Reading Initiative seems to be working. Slowly, but it's working. 

    I have two new books that I'm really looking forward to reading:

    Essays Harmonica

    And I'm currently almost halfway through this book:

    Meshugenah

    And I need to write a review of this book that I finished over the weekend:

    Monsterofflorence

    Added together with the other three books I've read and reviewed in the last couple months and I'd say that's pretty good, right? Well, better than the nil reading I was doing before that anyway.


    Heart cooks brain...

    I have become "The Ambassador of Din Din." More specifically, Katie's din din. Oh, and "din din" would be "dinner," not "loud, raucous noise" although I'm sure I could be quite capable of the latter given a chance.

    I'm not very self-assured when it comes to cooking. I try it, but I always fear it sucks. And it has a lot to do with the fact that I have very little ability to combine flavors. I know what smells good (although I cannot identify it for the life of me) but I'm not sure if this good smell works with that good smell. 

    I guess you have to think of it in terms of clothing. I can buy an individual article of clothing that looks pretty good. I have relatively decent taste in that regard. But ask me to make an outfit out of that piece of clothing with everything else that a guy needs to wear to keep from being arrested for indecent exposure and, well, that's where I need help.

    Apply this principle to cooking. I feel I'm okay at making individual dishes. I help Katie pretty well on a course-by-course basis at Thanksgiving. But I need to rely on her for the overall planning. What food goes well with what food, that sort of thing. If left to my own devices, I might have hot dogs with lime-and-cilantro orzo, tater tots, and a side of fruit cup. Ick, right? Individually, nothing really wrong with any of them. Together, they're a gastrointestinal disaster in the making.

    Somehow, though, I pulled it together last night. Not sure how, but I made it work. Katie had one of her infamous long days of work and I took it upon myself to cook as I've done a lot lately (good practice). So, intertwined with doing laundry, ironing shirts, and watching Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday, I threw together a meal of roasted pork tenderloin with an Italian glaze (thank you, Betty Crocker), green beans, and a long grain wild rice blend. Oh yeah, and throw some Vidal Blanc in the mix as well. It was really the rice I was worried about most, but Katie said it worked. She went back for seconds. That's good, right?

    Footballbrownies

    Did I mention that Katie made dessert? She poured a couple glasses of milk and grabbed a pair of Little Debbie football-shaped brownies. She actually hiked one to me like a professional center might. She bent over and pretended to give a snap count and, just as I was thinking there's no way she would actually do this, she fired it at me and nailed me in the thigh. So much for cat-like quarterback reflexes, eh? I was a lineman in high school. What do I care?

    As I laughed at her "ball" hiking skills, she asked me, "you're blogging this, aren't you?"

    Damn right.

    If a reviewer were to compare a new show that you're looking forward to watching (in this case, NCIS: Los Angeles) to "little more than an updated version of 'The A-Team'," would you worry or take that as a compliment?

    As a child of the 80s who loved The A-Team, I could see that as a good thing. But, then again, I've watched a few episodes of The A-Team in recent years and they don't really hold up so well anymore.

    I'm torn.


    The birds will still be singing...

    I have a confession to make, after a few months trying to transform into a runner, I crashed. I crashed hard. No, not a literal accident. Just the figurative "wall" that runners tend to hit. But it still hurt bad.

    There was a while there that I was doing pretty good. Constantly attempting to increase the distance that I was running. At one point, I actually hit five miles. For the first time since the summer after my freshman year of college, I ran five miles straight.

    Since that day, I have not run more than a mile and a half again.

    Physically, I'm not entirely sure why it happened, but it did. Any time I attempted to run, I got winded way too quickly or my body just couldn't move. That so-called "groove" I had during the monster run just would not come back. 

    Mentally, I saw myself getting worse. I watched (or read) as people I knew were running longer and longer distances at shorter and shorter times. I kept thinking "Why not me? Seriously, why the fuck not me?"

    As a result, I got frustrated and I ran less and less. I think I got stuck in the whole "you lost the race" mindset and gave up. I still worked out, but not nearly as much and running was a once or, maybe, twice-a-week thing I would do that did nothing more than bum me out even more.

    Yesterday, though, my brain had a breakthrough. After giving away an hour and a half of my life to Guitar Hero III (yes, I still enjoy playing that one solely because of the mix of songs on it), I decided I just needed to go out and run. 

    Screw how long I go. 

    Screw how far I go. 

    I just needed to go.

    And I did.

    I'm not sure how long. I'm not sure how far. I don't know how it compares to those of you who are runners... and I don't care. I just know that it was more than I've run in months. And it felt good. And I need to capitalize on this feeling. 

    Screw medals.

    Screw finish lines.

    Screw mentally competing with all the people I know who are runners.

    I need to do this for me.

    I need to do this for my health.

    I need to do this for Katie.

    I need to do this for our future family (no, that's not a veiled announcement).

    So, nothing personal against those of you who are competitively running. I'm happy for you and I wish you all the best. But I need to stop paying attention to what you say and write about. I need to stop gauging my success on how I compare to your efforts. That's the wrong way to live. 

    I need to do this for me. My own rules. My own standards. 

    And I need to just be happy that I'm doing something. Something that, hopefully, will result in a longer and happier and healthier life.

    Life is just too damn short to worry about keeping up with everyone around me.

    On a lighter note. I found this gem of a video via Google Reader. 

    A musician named Jarbas Agnelli found a picture of birds perched on a series of five suspended cables as birds are wont to do. But instead of just disregarding the image, he and his musical mind decided to see if there was any compositional value to how the birds were sitting.

    Check out what he discovered. It's pretty amazing, really.


    Birds on the Wires from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

    Originally posted at Superhero Journal. Well, that's where I found it, anyway. Via Google Reader.


    I believe that we are gonna be friends...

    Hey! I actually did it! I recorded another video podcast! It's been a year almost to the day, but The Damn Fool Network is alive! Alive, I tell you. Alive!

    Actually, I made a commitment to myself to defeat this video editing roadblock that keeps holding me back. So, while the results of this little experiment in habaƱero pepper consumption may not be the most exciting, I was doing this more for the opportunity to play with recording, editing and use of titles and transitions. I want to do this more often as it should get easier with time. I hope so anyway.

    Again, if I only had an iota of Marty's talent.

    Be honest and let me know what you think about it...

    The Damn Fool Network: Habanero Peppers from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

    I received a note from the press people for the Chicago Public Library (CHIPUBLIB) asking if I'd be interested in helping them promote the CHIPUBLIB Sound Off competition.

    CPLSoundOffLogo It's a really cool music competition for participants 14 years of age and over to develop their own original piece of music about or inspired by the City of Chicago. The competition is being judged by local music critics Chris Force of Alarm Magazine, Jessica Hopper of The Girls' Guide to Rocking and Kanye West's collaborative songwriter Che Smith, more commonly known as Rhymefest. Submissions are being accepted until September 27, 2009, and the grand prize winner will headline the CHIPUBLIB Sound Off Concert in October and receive a package of recording studio time.

    How cool is that? If music (making) were my forte, I'd be all over this.

    So if any of my Chicago-area readers are interested, head on over to the CHIPUBLIB and get a bit more information or check out what else is there.


    Is anyone going anywhere...

    On my way to work the other morning, I looked ahead to approximately where I hit the on-ramp to the highway eastbound and saw two helicopters just floating there.

    At that time of day, I couldn't imagine them being anything other than news or traffic choppers. This could not be a good sign, could it? Accident? Traffic jam? Prison break? Toppled beer delivery truck?

    Despite my internal alarms ringing, I kept driving in that direction in hopes that I was wrong.

    I was only partially wrong.

    They were, in fact, news/traffic choppers and were likely reporting on some accident, but the scene was about a mile or so further west of my on ramp. Translation? There was no eastbound traffic coming to my merge. My commute in to work was free and clear, baby! Oh my God, the only other time I'd ever seen the highway this empty at rush hour is on those few days between Christmas and New Year's when nobody is working. It was a beautiful thing.

    Now I must come up with ideas as to how I can create traffic jams at that same location daily so I can have this same easy commute every day! Any ideas?

    This has to be one of the most amazing music videos I've ever seen. It's for "King Rat" by Modest Mouse. Director credit was given to Heath Ledger for conceptualizing it as a protest piece against whaling off the coast of Australia. I'm not sure if he actually did any work beyond the concept phase, but I do know he had directed a handful of music videos in his time.


    Modest Mouse - King Rat (directed by Heath Ledger) from Johann S. on Vimeo.

    I think one of the reasons I love it is the choppy pseudo animation that's employed (I have no idea what the actual animation style is called). It's very reminiscent of Monty Python segues. I do believe Terry Gilliam had something to do with this as well, which would explain the Monty Python parallels.

    For the record, the video is incredibly brutal and raw and bloody, but oh so powerful and entrancing. I love it. Almost as much as A-ha's "Take On Me" (this particular copy complete with VH1 pop-up commentary), which is my favorite video of all time.

    Seeing stuff like this and realizing just how much raw talent was lost makes me miss Heath Ledger even more.

    Thanks to ChordStrike for cluing me in to this.


    Too easy to make you mine...

    This is driving me a little batty right now.

    Katie is now into the all-important student teaching phase of her Master's degree program, which means she's working a weird schedule at her regular job. Some nights and even weekends; well, Saturday, anyway. And I have no idea what to do with myself. I'm bored actually. Sure, I'm doing stuff around the house, but it's still boring. I miss Katie.

    I never denied being codependent. Neither did she. In this era in which the U.S. suffers a 51% divorce rate, I think codependency is a good thing, don't you? To me, it means you actually want to be with your significant other. How could that be bad?

    Anyway, one thing I have done is to start watching True Blood, season 1, on DVD. I really like it so far. Bloody, sexy, wickedly violent... everything that watching HBO used to be but hasn't been in a long time.

    But there has been an unexpected side effect of watching this series, I've begun having vampire nightmares. Last night's was vicious, to say the least. The violence and bloodshed in my dream far exceeds anything I've ever experienced on any vampire show or movie. Just when I think I've seen it all, my brain comes up with worse. Who'd'a thunk it?

    I want to write about it, get it committed to a page; but I cannot even fathom putting words to what my brain created. No words exist for what I saw in my dream.

    But it did give me an idea for a different type of story. Somewhat less gory, thankfully. I just have to actually write it down... like all those other ideas I keep swearing I'll write.

    I think that roughly translates to "it'll never happen." Heh.

    Now, however, in an attempt to cleanse my brain of all this vampire imagery, I'm going to go watch a TiVo'd copy of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead from the other night. I've never seen it, but how can you argue with a movie that stars Gary Oldman and Tim Roth?

    Yesterday, I updated my Facebook status with a message about being busy downloading a bunch of free and legal music.

    Samplingtheworld Based on the comments, it would seem several people couldn't grasp the concept of music actually being free and legal. Yes, it does happen once in a while. This time around, it was Amazon offering 27 free album's worth of world music. Yes, 27 albums worth. Believe it.

    Of course, world music isn't for everyone. It can be quite the acquired taste to us insular U.S. natives. But I've developed a taste for it in recent years. Very small scale, so far, like Fela Kuti and Rodrigo y Gabriela (who have a new album coming out next month that I'm completely stoked about), but it's a start. And 246 free new songs can go far to developing that taste, don'cha think?

    If you're interested in checking them out for yourself, visit Amazon.


    Grab your mouse and stroke your keys...

    (Sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques")

    Where is Kapgar?
    Where is Kapgar?

    Here I am.
    Here I am.
    Where the hell you been?
    Lazy S.O.B.

    I took a week.
    Just for me.

    And it felt damn good. Okay, moving on.

    Apparently, retail America would have you believe that we're closing in on the winter holiday season. This despite the fact that we have only just begun hurricane season and, hell, Chicago only recently started to actually have summer weather. Yeah, we're late bloomers around these parts.

    But the idea of it being so close to holiday season had me thinking about gift giving. No, I'm not giving you anything. Well, not yet anyway. Maybe sometime down the line a bit. I was actually thinking about the process as a whole. Some people are easy to buy for, some people are a pain in the ass. Some gifts are fun to buy, some are not.

    This is where you come in... I need the answers to two questions regarding gift giving.

    First question... What would you consider the worst gift you had to buy for someone? I'm not talking about white elephant gifts or gag gifts. I mean what gift did you have to buy for someone that just made your skin crawl, activated your gag reflex, made the hairs on your neck stand on end? But you did it anyway because it was what this person wanted.

    For me, it was the Bodyguard soundtrack CD that I bought for my brother one Christmas years ago. I know I don't always listen to the greatest music and that some might consider my tastes to be bad. But this? An album of nothing but Whitney Houston tripe? This was physically painful for me to have to purchase. Mainly because I could not fathom that living around me did not rub off on him more positively. The shame I felt.

    Second question... what do you think others may have considered to be the worst gift you bought for them? This would be something that you bought that you just know this other person despised. It may have been purchased intentionally to drive them nuts or maybe they just didn't receive it the way you intended.

    For Katie and me, it was a gift package of Chicago Bears bib, baby bowls, sippee cups, and plastic flatwear that we purchased as a baby shower gift for Katie's cousin and his wife. Why was it so horrible? Well, her cousin is a diehard Bears fan, so we're pretty sure he liked it. But he lives and works in Green Bay and is married to a woman who bleeds Packer green and gold. We knew this when we bought it. It was purchased wholly for him in his quest to keep his newborn daughter on the good side of fandom. And we're pretty sure it's either been disposed of by his wife or has at least been hidden far, far away.

    I think I have discovered the definition of "geek porn." And it's a song.

    The song is "(Do You Wanna Date My) Avatar" by The Guild featuring Felicia Day (she being the object of many a geek fantasy herself after her starring role in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog).

    It is a truly hilarious satire (at least I choose to look at it as satire) about people who take their online realities very seriously. Not to poke and prod them too much as they might rise up in revolt against me, but it is well done and funny. (For the record, there is a video embedded below that you may not be able to see if you're reading this from my Facebook wall. Wanna see it? Click through to this post on my blog.)

    Also, this video is receiving huge traffic so you might want to click to start it and then pause it to wait for the entire video to preload before you play it straight through.

    Check out the song on Amazon or on iTunes.


    Alright, already, we'll all float on...

    GuestBlogMonkey

    Need I say more? Didn't think so. Okay, I will anyway. Go check out my guest post at Secondhand Tryptophan.

    Yesterday was Triple Feature Friday for the ol' kapgar. Something I'm pretty sure I've never done before in my life. Yes, three movies in one day. And I stayed awake for all three!

    First, after Katie finished her student teaching meetings during the day, she and I went to see (500) Days of Summer. Absolutely brilliant movie. It was so well done and if this doesn't hammer home the name Joseph Gordon-Levitt as one of the better 20 to 30-something actors in Hollywood right now (I think he's 28), nothing will. And Zooey Deschanel? I don't think there's anything I can say that hasn't already been said. She's just fantastic.

    After that was The Time Traveler's Wife. Admittedly, I have not read the book yet so I cannot compare from one medium to the other. But Katie just finished the book a couple weeks ago. As someone who has only seen the movie, I enjoyed it. I was never bored nor confused and I enjoyed the interplay between Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams. Katie said that there were some key details left out and the ending was very different, but it didn't bother her too terribly. She still cried like a baby at the end and enjoyed it overall. She did tell me, however, that whereas the book's description of time travel kinda confused her, it all made sense when she saw it on screen. The woman sitting next to us completely agreed.

    Then, later that night, my buddy Eric invited me to go see District 9 with him. I need to admit something about this movie... before last week, I'd never heard about it at all. No previews, no posters, no nothing. Then I saw a trailer tacked onto G.I. Joe and just thought it looked weird. But I went anyway after Eric gave me a primer on it. I FREAKIN' LOVED IT! Holy crap. I haven't had this much fun at an alien film in years. Probably not truly since Aliens in '86. The documentary style of shooting this film and splicing in the news and archival footage was brilliant. Plus, it was the most perfect integration of live acting and CGI I've ever seen. And the movie was a ton of fun, too. I don't want to say much about the plot of the movie whatsoever because I think my going into it with a complete sense of tabula rasa really helped the experience immensely. Just go see it.

    'nuff said.


    When you're gone...

    I swear, when technology rains, it freakin' pours.

    About a month ago, the left half of my Bose In-Ear Buds died brutally. I was at the gym running and *fzztt* they died. That left me with the gym-attendant-chosen radio station. Christ it's painful.

    You might remember me inquiring on Facebook and Twitter about some SkullCandy Ink'd earbuds. While I haven't picked them up yet, I still may. I've been suffering through the humiliation that is the standard iPod earbuds in the meantime, though.

    Katie is not happy about the death of the Bose since we spent $100 on them. To me, I got a relatively good value out of them since I used them nearly daily for a year and a half, but it does still kinda suck. And that amount of money is why I was asking about something much less expensive like the SkullCandys. I can't see myself spending as much as I did on the Bose again. Not now at least.

    And this morning, while watching the final episode of season one of Battlestar Galactica, another pair is fuzzing out on one side. I was listening to the episode on my big ol' Pioneer SE4000s to keep from waking up Katie. I've loved these over-the-ear, noise-reducing 'phones for quite a while. They're huge, they're bulky, the plastic of the frame creaks when you move them around... but I didn't care. The sound was fantastic, the bass response was awesome, the big sponge and foam covers blocked out anything short of a nuclear blast, and they have about a seven- or eight-foot-long cord so I could still sit a comfortable distance from the TV or stereo and use them.

    The best thing about them? They cost me $50 and lasted 16+ years. I was still in high school when I got them, that much I'm sure about, and I graduated high school in '93. Damn, they don't even show up in a quick Google search, that's how old they are.

    Crap. Now I need to choose which to replace. I'm sure it will be my daily wear since I'd use them more often. I may be able to juice some more time out of my Pioneers since they aren't completely dead yet. If I move around the cable on the left side a little bit, the sound returns. Annoying, yes. But better than buying two new pairs of 'phones.

    This blows.

    I am very techno-bummed right now.

    It really kills me sometimes when a song like The Who's "Who Are You," for example, comes up on shuffle on my iPod like it did this morning and all I can think of is the opening credit sequence from CSI.

    It truly pains me that I can no longer enjoy the song just for the song but that it now has to be forever associated with that show in my head. It's not always such a bad thing like, say, when used in a Quentin Tarantino movie. But, otherwise, TV and product ad usage are really gonna be the death of my enjoyment of music.


    Don't you forget about me...

    If you were raised at all in the 80s or into the early 90s, you were dealt a bit of a blow today with the sudden passing of John Hughes at the age of 59 from a heart attack.

    Yeah, I know that everybody in the world is talking about this already. It's been Twittified to the ends of the Earth and back. But I don't care. I'm talking about it anyway. And if you don't want to read it, then move on. Nobody's forcing you to stay.

    For those of you still with me... thanks.

    JohnHughes John Hughes was a big deal to a great number of us. He wrote, produced, and directed some of seminal films of our life. Just to name a few of the ones that might help set the stage: The Breakfast Club; Sixteen Candles; Weird Science; Ferris Bueller's Day Off; Home Alone; Some Kind of Wonderful; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; National Lampoon's Vacation (and the European and Christmas varietals as well); Uncle Buck; The Great Outdoors; Pretty in Pink...

    You get the picture?

    And that list only scratches the surface.

    The man told stories from the heart. They were funny, they were painful, they were silly, they left you heartbroken. But, most importantly, they were real. Sure, you might look at that list and think, "what the hell are you talking about, Kevin?" But look beyond the surface. There was somebody or some event in each and every one of those films that you related to, that defined who you were and who you are.

    And what made John Hughes so great was that, despite how you viewed yourself or what similar situations you found yourself in, he let you know it was okay. You could be the jock, the nerd, the wastoid, the punk, the princess, the slacker, the overachiever. It didn't matter. To John, everyone had some kind of redeeming value and that's why he took such care in crafting his characters.

    Those of us who grew up watching his films learned about love and hate and pain and fear and joy and sorrow and, well, life

    Sure, you won't see any of John's films on the AFI100 lists. But his legacy is much greater. He made us human. And his films will be with many of us in our hearts forever. What greater legacy could you ask for?

    Even you naysayers cannot deny the impact he had on our generation.

    To John Hughes, rest in peace.

    On a side note, I'd like to personally thank you for Mary Stuart Masterson in fringed, fingerless gloves playing the drums. *sigh*

    Oh, and if some dude named Avitable comes asking for an interview, run.

    I gotta thank Rory for this little montage he shared on Google Reader. It's good times.


    I need you to need me...

    Yesterday, in my guestpost at The Dutch Files, I made a promise that if people forgive me for my hackneyed attempt at both guestposting and poetry, that I would make kapgar.com a smarter place. A better place. One that you don't need to feel shame about when visiting and reading.

    Bigfatgreek-guestpost How do I follow up on that promise? With another guestpost, of course! This one is over at It's Me... Penelope who happens to be on what is quickly becoming an annual trip to Greece. I'm stowing away next time, dammit.

    So, um, forgive me for one more day, 'tay? You'll get the normal Snippet Wednesday tomorrow barring some personal or natural catastrophe. Really!

    Sometimes I feel like I don't belong in the world of working professionals.

    I see people who are clearly colleagues going out for lunches sometimes and walking to and from their lunch destinations talking and laughing, sharing inside jokes, discussing business deals, whatever. They hang out after work on occasion too. You see them all the time. It's a camaraderie they've all developed. (Please note: I'm not completely antisocial. I have developed a similar camaraderie to a lesser degree with some people, but not to the level that some of these folks clearly have.)

    And then there's me. How do I spend my lunch breaks? Well, besides people-watching obviously. I sit somewhere and read a book or, like I did yesterday, listen to Lady Gaga (iTunes link) on my iPod and play Ninja Town on my DS.

    I swear I'm such a kid. I'm a 34-year-old kid.

    Is that wrong?


    Good ol' fashioned nightmare...

    I had a disturbing one last night. Actually I had several weird ones due to a strange sleep, but this one stood out.

    I was at an M83 concert and it had just wrapped up. Anthony Gonzalez and the drummer and the female vocalist/synth player (who played with him during Pitchfork) were out front taking their bows to the audience. All of a sudden I heard someone scream, "You broke my heart, M83!!"

    I looked up and there, behind the drum kit, was Avitable.

    And he was naked.

    And he was standing there behind the drum kit with a snare drum covering his junk and his arms raised in the air with drumsticks at the ready.

    I'm not sure what's more disturbing, the vision of him naked in public or that I was dreaming about it.

    I need brain bleach.

    Wii Punch-Out!! rocks. Way too much fun for one game.

    And that's all I've got to say about that one.


    Whenever you need someone...

    Is there a point where mocking contempt actually becomes sympathy?

    Confused? Yeah, I think I would be too after reading that statement.

    What I'm referring to are the young Hollywood starlets who have made such shows of breaking down over the course of the last several years and have edged close to or over the verge of a nervous breakdown and into complete career and personal life destruction mode.

    Sure, like many others, I've watched with morbid fascination as someone like Britney Spears who, despite some protestation, is actually a very talented young woman and seems to have it all just erupts. I don't need to recap it, we all know the story. And I will admit that I enjoyed the roller coaster ride. It was more thrilling than a day trip to Six Flags. You watch the news reports, you read some of the trashy tabloid articles while waiting to pay for groceries, you check online reports... and you're enraptured. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you shake your head in disbelief, and you always wonder what will happen next. That was the fun part, a veritable game of Celebrity Limbo - how low can they go?

    I think most of the fascination comes from the fact that I cannot even fathom having that much fame and money and then to sit there and watch it all be squandered. Maybe it's a boring thing to see for someone who is at a similar level professionally or financially, but I'm not, so I typically kick back and watch.

    However, at some point, to me anyway, I start to feel a little pity. I don't know what causes it. I don't know where the line in the sand has been drawn that these starlets are crossing. But it's there. I feel bad for them and I almost want to help. Sure, from where I stand, all I can really do is be a bit of a cheerleader, but it's something.

    With Britney, I have actually been hoping against hope that her career is permanently on the rebound and that her personal life will similarly follow suit. I want her to finish this tour she's on and make a lot of money and recoup her fanbase. I want her to find love and establish a positive relationship with her kids.

    I don't know why I actually care, but for some twisted reason I do.

    I'm also starting to feel this way about Mischa Barton. I'm not even a fan of Mischa and part of me, after seeing some of the stuff printed about her the last couple weeks, wants to reach out a hand and help pull her up to her feet.

    The thing is, they're doing this to themselves so why do I actually care?

    That's the $64,000 question. Although I think inflation may have raised the value a bit.

    Lindsay Lohan? I don't know that I've reached the sympathy point with her yet. I still feel a bit ticked because I was such an early adopter fanboy of her performances in The Parent Trap and Mean Girls. LiLo's got some work to do to make me cross the threshold to true sympathy. Keep going, girl. You may get there yet.

    Can I just say I'm dying for the return of Mad Men? I want season three and I want it now, dammit! I want to see how far in the future they jump, if at all. I want to see who is doing what and where and with whom. Please, just give me Mad Men or I'm going to have to keep doing stupid stuff on the Web like drooling over promotional stills or creating stupid images like this...

    Madmen_standard 

    Yes, that's me as a character on Mad Men. Sure I may have fudged the body type a bit, but damn I look good. And I'm there with my own Betty Draper. Nice! Go ahead and make your own!

    Please, AMC, make the madness stop and just give us season three already! I beg you. August 16 is too long to wait.


    I know Saint Peter won't call my name...

    I'm reading a book right now called The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi about a modern serial killer in Florence, Italy, and I came across a rather profound thought. The character who said it is an Medical Examiner's Assistant named Fosco and he is answering the question of whose body he is operating on as posed to him by Spezi (yes, this book is a true story):

    "This one? A brilliant scholar, a distinguished professor in the Accademia della Crusca no less. But as you can see, tonight yet another disappointment has laid me low; I have just opened the head and what do I find inside? Where is all this wisdom? Boh! Inside it looks just like the Albanian hooker I opened yesterday. Maybe the Professor thinks he's better than her! But when I open them up, I find they're equal! And they both have achieved the same destiny: my zinc gurney. Why, then, did he tire himself out poring over so many books? Boh! Take my advice, journalist: eat, drink, and enjoy yourself--"

    I know Fosco was being a bit of a smart ass. I've heard that people working as MEs and in morgues develop rather morbid senses of humor. But there is something very insightful about it.

    Which of our accomplishments in life really matter? What things that we do truly have weight enough to count in our favor in the afterlife? Say you believe in Heaven (or adapt this question to your own beliefs as you see fit), what would you present to Saint Peter at the pearly gates as justification for why you should be allowed in?

    Yeah, this is way too deep for a Tuesday night. I need a drink.

    Something tells me I either need to stop being so deep on Tuesdays or come up with a new category to be dubbed "Deep Thought Tuesdays." What is it about this day of the week lately that gets me thinking so pseudo-profoundly?

    Katie and I saw what had to be one of the worst movies we've seen in a long time this past weekend. Okay, let me qualify that a bit... this is one of the worst movies that we actually finished. Typically, when a movie is bad, we stop watching it. But this was such a trainwreck, I had to see how it ended.

    I soooo regret that decision.

    The movie was Nic Cage's Knowing about a guy who uncovers a code in a 50-year-old page filled with numbers written by a grade school girl in 1958 and placed for 50 years in a time capsule at a new school. Cage's son gets the letter when the capsule is reopened and is fascinated by the seemingly mindless jumble of numbers.

    [POTENTIAL SPOILER IF YOU ACTUALLY GIVE A RAT'S ASS ABOUT THIS TRIPE]

    Turns out that the numbers represent the dates, death counts, and lat/long coordinates of major disasters for the next 50 years. But there are three dates on the sheet that have not yet happened. And, Cage, as you would expect, takes it upon himself to try to stop them. Sheeyah, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

    Basically, that's what Katie and I did the entire time... insult the movie. We were a regular Statler and Waldorf just picking it to shreds. And that was the only thing that made it tolerable. We were tossing around gems like...

    E.T.'s back! "Yo bitches! I'm baaaaaccckkk! Where's my fuckin' Reese's Pieces? Yo."

    Look at that! One tanker truck nailing her car and all of Glenn Close's problems are erased!

    "So uhhh... if you're only taking me and her up there to space, does that make her my bitch? Sure she's only 12, but I can make it work."

    Where's John Nash?

    Hey whisper dudes, I know you're hard up for work seeing as you haven't done anything since Dark City, but can you cut that shit out? It's annoying me. [yes, I'm aware Alex Proyas directed both films]

    A door? You're really stealing a door from a school and taking it all the way home and wasting all that damn time when you should be seeking cover? And speaking of cover... a cave, really? We're supposed to buy that as a solution?

    Lesson to be learned here... never fly out of Logan Airport.

    So this is what Draco Malfoy does during his breaks from tormenting Harry Potter.

    Can somebody make those black rocks start flying at Cage's skull and end this thing already?

    Okay, maybe it was only funny to us as we watched it.

    Statlerandwaldorf


    Everything zen, everything zen...

    I realized something last night that was equal parts disturbing and reassuring... I enjoy washing dishes.

    Actually, I can't say I just discovered it last night. I've known this for some time. But last night it dawned on me that the time I spend washing dishes is almost like a bit of a Zen moment for me. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, right? Washing dishes? Zen-like? Seriously?

    Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the concept of Zen. But here is how I understand it (with assistance from Urban Dictionary)... it's a time of reflection and inner thought when you are able to block out outside distractions and focus on a sort of inner peace. Does that seem like a reasonable understanding of "Zen"?

    Well, this seems to happen for me when I'm washing dishes. The running water (yeah, so my method isn't entirely environmentally friendly) blocks out a lot of distractions around me. I cannot hear the TV, the neighbors, not even the train that rumbles through our backyard right outside the kitchen window. I stand there making repetitive motions while cleaning the dishes that tend to calm my mind and allow my thoughts to flow freely. I think the only time this state of calm is disrupted is if I have a particularly difficult cooked-on stain to get out and I've even found ways to remain calm while dealing with that.

    During this time, though, I tend to really be able to think things through. Reason out any problems I may be having. Think through my issues and come to a sort of resolution.

    That is kinda Zen, right?

    I don't even achieve this state of peace in yoga, to be honest. I'm still so new to yoga that my mind is too concerned with getting the positions right and that keeps me from truly finding my center, my peace. Some moves I'm comfortable enough with that I can be relatively Zen-like, but then we move on to something I'm not so comfortable with and I worry about posture and hand/foot placement and balance, etc. Stupid downward-facing dog. I still hate that damn pose.

    So what about you? What weird actions bring you inner peace? Please don't say "masturbation."

    One of the things I loved most about Pitchfork was all the free music. Sure, there were plenty of vendors selling albums on CD and vinyl and even, *gulp* cassette and 8-track. But so many people were there giving away either free CD samplers of music from their record labels or codes for free online downloads.

    And "free" is one of my favorite words!

    Sadly, though, several had codes that were needed meaning that they are one-time downloads only. But there was one that just had a URL to visit and enter your e-mail address and you can get an 18-track sampler. That one was from Absolutely Kosher/Misra Records.

    So, if you're interested in 18 free indie label tracks, head on over. No, not all of it is necessarily great stuff, but I found some really good tracks on the album.

    Oh, and Eric? You still have my copy of that one sampler in your bag! Help! I need my muzik!


    It's hard to make the good things last...

    Updated to add photo link and to remove failed Pictobrowser embed (whoops)

    Suffice it to say that after seeing The Flaming Lips in concert last night at the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival, I'm afraid that any live music experience I attend will pale in comparison. The only thing that could be better would be a longer show by The Lips.

    Conclusion? The Flaming Lips = awesome. Festivals = crowded, but awesome. Pitchfork = I will be going to again, I don't care who's playing.

    During the day, I Tweeted, snapped some photos, and captured a little video. Bear in mind that any photographic equipment with, as they called it, detachable lenses, was strictly forbidden. So all I had was my Blackberry. Translation? The quality isn't as good as it otherwise would be. I need to nab me one of those VIP passes next year. Those peeps all had the big cameras and I was jealous.

    As for the rest of my recap, I'm going to let my evening's interactivity do the talking for me...

    Photos - Apparently Pictobrowser doesn't want to work any more. Here's a teaser photo from the Flickr set:

    Flaming Lips 14

    Videos -

    The Flaming Lips: Bubble o' Wayne from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

    The Flaming Lips: Do You Realize? Finale from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

    Tweets - And, finally, the Tweets. Bear in mind, the correct order is from the bottom up. I could've reordered them for your convenience. But your convenience is my inconvenience and anybody who uses Twitter knows how it works and can adapt accordingly. Sheesh. ;-)

    Lipstweets

    Okay, time for work. Adios!


    They got me; public enemy number one...

    Did you know that there are professionals out there in the world tasked with causing you pain? Seriously. You willingly go in there, contort yourself in all kinds of wild positions while partially disrobed, have someone climb all over you, and then lay there and grunt as they just jack your body in all kinds of directions and do things that your body wouldn't normally do. Oh, and did I mention that the first time you go in there, they take semi-naked pictures of you??

    And we pay them to do this to us!

    I'm in shock. I really am.

    What's worse is that Katie and I have signed up to go along with this.

    What's even worse than that is that Katie and I enjoy it and feel great afterward and want even more!

    Oh, we're such dirty birdies.

    I never thought I would ever go along with such physical abuse. It's unnatural. It's cruel and unusual. And I would think the Geneva Convention has some regulation against it. But alas, they seem to have circumvented the rules and get away with these barbaric practices on a daily basis.

    It's inhumane!

    Freakin' chiropractors.

    (I guess it does soften the blow a bit knowing that the physical therapist there looks like a pre-arrest Yasmine Bleeth)

    [NO SPOILERS, I SWEAR] Don't you hate when a movie lets you down? Especially one you were looking forward to seeing? That was the case with me and the newly released Public Enemies. Katie and I saw it with my parents on Sunday and I was thoroughly disappointed.

    PUBLIC-ENEMIES-POSTER-2 A disjointed and difficult-to-follow timeline of events, odd camerawork (they used digital cameras when traditional film would have worked out so much better for a period piece such as this), uninspired action sequences, a bad script, and completely unsympathetic and wholly unenjoyable characters on the part of everyone involved... yeah, this movie had it all in spades.

    That last part is what I don't get the most about this film. Director Michael Mann is known for making his characters, even the worst of them, somewhat sympathetic. In Collateral, even though we're supposed to like Jamie Foxx's put-upon cab driver, I also really enjoyed Tom Cruise's dark assassin. In Heat (one of the most brilliant cops-n-robbers flicks EVER), I couldn't tell you if I liked Al Pacino's cop or Robert DeNiro's robber more because they were both fantastic and well written and brilliantly performed. That diner confrontation between the two remains one of the greatest pieces of filmed dialogue ever, IMHO.

    Then comes Public Enemies with the supposed good guy being BI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) who is tasked with bringing in public enemy numero uno John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). With a story such as this, it would be easy to show either of them as the good guy or the bad guy based on their actions and intentions. Dillinger is bad because he robs banks and shoots people, but he's got that Robin Hood quality in that he never takes money from the people struggling their way through the Great Depression, just the bank's money. Oh, and he's brutally loyal to the people who remain loyal to him. Purvis is good because he's trying to do the right thing by fighting crime in a lawless era, but he could also be just the opposite because he and his team use all kinds of questionable methods to achieve their end result.

    What would make us as viewers waffle in our perception of each character would be their backstory or some key bit of information about their lives that we could take to heart to make them either loved or loathed.

    And Mann gave us none of that. Both characters were just plain boring. We got little story on them whatsoever. We were just inserted into the middle of the action as it played out (much was the same, in my opinion, of Mann's Ali; although the fantastic acting by Will Smith saved it somewhat for me). And that made this movie no fun for me at all. I really just wanted it to end.

    I would ask for my money back on the ticket, but my dad paid for it. Oh well.


    Oh say can you see...

    I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that not only is tomorrow the U.S. Independence Day, but that we're already halfway through 2009. Just another half to go before we're making contact with the alien races according to bad Roy Scheider sci-fi films.

    But the problem is that since the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, a lot of employers are not sure just how to deal with giving days off to employees. I am off work today, the day before the holiday, since I'm an 8-5, Monday thru Friday office rat. Katie, who for now only works Monday thru Friday, but for an employer who is open seven days a week, won't see a day off. Her day off would be tomorrow, but since she doesn't work Saturdays, she gets nada. That sucks. So I'm here at home typing to all of you while she toils away at work.

    What to do... what to do...

    Wake-up? Check.

    Check e-mail? Check.

    Catch up on Google Reader? Three-quarters of a check.

    Shower? (sniff) Nowhere near a check. Yet. I promise I'll get to work on this one, not just for your sake but my own as well.

    I think I might also check out my neighbor's garage sale that started up this morning. I saw him out placing signs last night and, as much as I used to love garage saling (can that actually be a verb?) with my mom as a kid, I haven't been to one in years. And I'm told, with the economy in the shithole state it's in, garage sales are totally en vogue. Maybe I should join the hipness and go a salin'.

    Do you all garage sale at all? Any cool finds? My curiosity is piqued.

    But first, I will shower, and I will download my free Star Spangled Banner from Amazon's MP3 store. Yep, you read right. In honor of the holiday, the Amazon MP3 store is giving away one free copy of any version of "The Star Spangled Banner" that they have in stock. Just click on the link above and follow the instructions. There are a ton to choose from. Once I hit number 400 in my browsing, I gave up looking. I had no idea that song had been recorded so many times.

    Burnsbaseball And, shockingly, as much as I thought I'd go for, say, Jimi Hendrix's classic rendition or one from KISS's Alive performances (Ace was on fi-yah playing that one), I instead nabbed one by Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby that was recorded for Ken Burns' Baseball documentary series. This recording really takes me back to my documentary filmmaking days (well, not that I made one on my own, but I was part of a team that made one in grad school). Not to say I'm a huge Ken Burns fan, but the use of music in Baseball was so fantastic and so memorable that it's pretty akin to how Quentin Tarantino chooses music in his movies. Anytime you hear the song afterward, all you can think of is the scene from the movie where it was featured. Just try to tell me you can listen to "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel and resist the urge to lean over and nibble on your neighbor's ear.

    Yeah, okay, anyway. So head over there and nab your favorite version now. Offer ends July 6.

    Nuh uh. No way. Not a chance in Heaven or Hell.

    Well, maybe I would. But I would have to do some severe steeling up of my gut first. Holy Christ a mighty! Welcome to the new Sky Deck on the outside of Chicago's Sears Tower (fuck Willis Group Holdings).

    Skydeck
    Stupid SkyDeckChicago Flickr group didn't enable the Flickr photo sharing option, so I did it myself! But I still followed all their linkback rules. So ha!

    Update: I did find some cool swag at the garage sale! Checky check!


    Don't cry for me, Argentina...

    Just a brief one for you, today. Sorry if you were expecting something grandiose, but c'est la vie.

    This exchange happened this morning as Katie and I lay in bed watching Today Show reports on South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford:

    Katie: Are you going to leave me and head for Argentina?

    Me: No.
         
           ...Maybe Brazil.

    You gotta be pretty secure in your relationship to have a convo like that one. ;-)

    I love you, hon. (I fully expect her to smack me when she gets home tonight)

    I saw this question linked on the Typepad homepage and thought it was pretty cool. If you want to answer on the page linked below, go for it, but I'd like to hear it in the comments here as well (if they're working today; I've heard of some people having issues). Here's the question:

    If you could bring back a canceled TV series, which would you choose?
    submitted by The Good Girl Gone Blog


    Hot in the city, tonight...

    Oh my god, people. I've only been offline since Friday and you hit me with 577 unread articles in Google Reader? What the bloody hell? I usually only get 577 during a moderate week, but over a weekend? Unheard of! Don't you people have families? Spend some time with your loved ones, for Chrissake!

    </rant>

    Katie and I had fun this weekend. We went to dinner and a play with my family, including the Nano, on Friday. It was pretty hilarious. If you ever have the chance to see a show called "Don't Dress for Dinner" I highly recommend it.

    Saturday was a blast, as well, since that was the day Katie and I went to Naper Days to see Matthew Sweet. Well, it was more of a blast for me than for her. She only really knew one song the entire night and that only tangentially.

    Sweet's opening act was Chicago's very own Michael McDermott, an artist I've known of for many years but whose music I had never listened to. He's pretty good. I may have to look up some of his stuff at the library.

    Sweet was pretty good, too, but his show was much shorter than I expected. After a mere 55 minutes, he announced that the next would be his final song. By that time, he'd already played everything I wanted to hear, so we packed up and left to avoid the exiting masses. I had a feeling he would play an encore, which he did, but beating the crowds out of downtown Naperville was worth it to me.

    I did take a bunch of photos from that day and Katie even took a few and I swear I'll get them uploaded soon, but I'm trying to make this Flickr Desktop Uploader, which promises faster uploads, work and it's not proving to be any faster than the Web interface. I swear you'll have them soon. Really! I got pretty close to the stage and got some great shots. I'm at 13 of 64 now.

    But the real fun happened that night when Katie and I got home (get your minds out of the gutter!). It was really hot that day (again, minds... gutter) so we decided to fire up the air conditioner for the first time this year. Nothing. Not a bit. The engine whirred, and we could feel cold air trickling out at a miniscule rate, but that entire night, the house never dipped below 81 degrees fahrenheit. It was brutal. (18 of 64)

    We checked the next day and it turns out our fan motor might be blown. Great. I don't think a fan motor will be too terrible, but it's money we were hoping to instead save for a new car. I swear, it's just like they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. We begin to save for one thing only to have something else require a redirection of our funds. WTF? Same damn thing happened to the Lexington trip. (23 of 64)

    Hmmm... might be time for a break and get ready for work while the rest of them upload. I'll be back to finish this post. I promise.

    [several hours pass]

    Thank God, they're finally done! Enjoy...

    And here's a direct link to the album in Flickr.


    Don't you need to get back in the arms of a good friend...

    In a very last-second decision, I caved and bought tickets for a concert this Saturday. It's the annual Naper Days event in Naperville, IL, and the tickets were only $5 a pop with no fees attached to it at all (God bless the peeps who don't go through TicketMaster; there is a special place in Heaven for you).

    And who will Katie and I get to see? My boy Matthew Sweet!

    Matthew-sweet

    Oh I'm stoked! And I find that Katie and I have more fun at these more low-key and low-cost shows than we do at big, overblown concerts anyway.

    I found this pretty funny.

    For anybody who appreciates either 24 or The Office, you should enjoy it as well.

    24 at the office from Twelve Episodes on Vimeo.


    I'm on the nightrain, ready to crash and burn...

    Very early this morning, something like 2 or 3 a.m., I woke up for whatever reason. All of a sudden, I heard a train whistle outside.

    Living as close to the tracks (no jokes about right or wrong side, okay?) as we do, we're used to hearing the normal sounds that one would expect from a train. However, the city we live in has a noise ordinance that states, unless they are crossing an at-grade intersection or they see someone or something on the tracks, they are not allowed to blow their whistles between like 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Many towns with train tracks have similar ordinances.

    But this train clearly was not crossing an at-grade street intersection as there are none within a few miles in either direction of where we live and it could not have been an object on the tracks because it was blowing its whistle in short bursts constantly for 10 minutes and the sound was not moving. It was like listening to a car alarm that was programmed to sound like a train.

    I'm sure many cities cannot actually enforce noise ordinances with regard to trains as they are moving quite fast and I can't imagine a code enforcement officer trying to jump the train to issue a ticket. But can't something be done? It's not easy to fall asleep when you have this whistle bleating for so damn long that early in the morning. Part of me believed the engineer was intentionally screwing with us.

    Don't get me wrong, I love trains and I realize how central they are to our economy here and in other countries. But this was a bit nuts. I seriously wanted to go out there and shove the whistle up the engineer's ass.

    Some time ago, I entered a contest over on Banal Leakage and I won!

    I won a major prize (name the reference)!

    Actually, it was the best thing a guy like me could win... free music in the form of a $10 gift card to iTunes.

    Well, as they say, easy come, easy go. I used it this morning to buy Sonic Youth's new album, Eternal. And I wanted to thank Marty for helping me start my Thursday on a great, er, note (pun intended).


    She wore lemon...

    Lemonade standYou know the economy is bad when even children are affected.

    Last weekend, we drove by a street corner lemonade stand run by four neighborhood children. They were charging $1 per glass (allow me to say, at that price, the lemonade better have a little alcoholic accompaniment). The next day, they were charging 75 cents. This weekend, they started at 50 cents per cup. Yesterday, it was buy one-get one free.

    Wow. That's just sad. Poor kids can't survive in this economy. How long until a larger neighborhood lemonade conglomerate gobbles up their business and sends the kids packing? Aye aye aye.

    There's something wrong with ABC Family. While it's cool that they are having a Harry Potter marathon today, I take issue with the fact that they're being played out of order. A couple hours ago, we finished up Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and now we're watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As I recall, those are book four and book three, respectively. If you're going to play them, play them in order.

    But should I really expect logic from a network that is soon to be starting what looks like a really bad TV series version of one of my fave teen flicks 10 Things I Hate About You. Yeah, you read that right. They're going to trounce on a great movie (starring the then up and coming Heath Ledger) with a bad show.

    Part of me says I should be fair and give it a shot, the other says to run the hell away.

    Okay, gotta go flip the ribs on the grill. Adios. Enjoy what's left of your weekend.


    One for the money, two for the show...

    I'm of the opinion that not only should I be enjoying this geeky kick that Katie is on, but, to a safe degree, I ought to exploit it for all its worth while I can.

    I've suggested a few potential things we can watch together and she just doesn't know which way to go yet. This is where you all come in. I need you to help us decide. I've put together a little poll with some of the things I've suggested and some others I just kinda threw in there and I want you all to vote on what you think Katie and I should watch together next. Bear in mind I've seen all of them, so none of it is new to me; just to her.

    And a few explanations and caveats. On "other," don't go suggesting Battlestar Galactica or any other lengthy television series. There's too much to watch and she'll get bored quickly. Firefly is okay because it is such a short series, we already own it, and I figure it stands a chance with her because it stars both Nathan Fillion and Adam Baldwin, both of whom she loves. And The Last Starfighter is in there for reasons detailed in today's TUA.

    Vote away!

    On December 4, 1956, Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Recording Studios, witnessed the perfect storm of musical talent in his studio. For that one night, four recording legends met up and jammed well into the night. Carl Perkins, a man desperate for a second hit song after his first, "Blue Suede Shoes," was made more popular by Elvis than himself; a brash up and coming pianist and vocalist named Jerry Lee Lewis; a brooding man nearing both the peak of his career and the end of his contract, Johnny Cash; and Elvis Presley himself, a man disgruntled with his newfound fame with RCA Records who wishes he could return to the simpler times with Sun.

    Yes, this is a true story that has been immortalized in the musical Million Dollar Quarter, which Katie and I saw last night with my mom at the Apollo Theater in Chicago. These four legends, along with Elvis' girlfriend Dyanne and session bassist Jay Perkins (Carl's brother) and drummer "Fluke," rocked away the night with some soul and R&B classics as well as some of their own hits and songs that were being worked on for future albums.

    The best part about this show is that all the music and singing were live and performed by the actors themselves. Nothing recorded. It was incredible. The actors were spot on in their takes on these classic musicians so far as I could tell (I wasn't quite alive in their heyday, but I've seen enough video). Some of the highlights were Rob Lyons as Carl Perkins who had that rockabilly swagger down pat and had a look in his eye that screamed both that he was the man in charge and yet with just enough of an edge to make you think he could crack at any moment. Then there was James Scheider, a last second addition to the program (he wasn't even the understudy for the original), as Jerry Lee Lewis. He was just on fire, playing out all of Lewis' eccentricities to perfection.

    But the coolest thing for me was seeing one of my childhood heroes as the Man in Black. Lance Guest, who starred as Alex Rogan in The Last Starfighter, was 50 feet away from me. This was the kid from a trailer park who played a video game and was subsequently recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Zuur and the Kodan Armada! I wanted to be Alex Rogan! More than I wanted to be Han Solo, and that's saying something. Plus, his girlfriend, Maggie (Catherine Mary Stewart), was hot. I was so geeked out I couldn't handle it. And he owned the role of Johnny Cash... the voice, the strumming, the expressions, the raised guitar. Everything.

    We loved it. If you get a chance to see it in Chicago or in your own town should you be lucky enough, then GO. It's worth every penny and then some.

    Holy crap, did I just blog five straight days? Better slow down before I burn out!


    Welcome to my nightmare...

    I'm fine with being 34 years old. It doesn't bother me. I don't feel old (except when my joints creak). And, to me, age is really just a number.

    However, once in a while, something happens that makes me wish I was young again. Something, like, say, a CASTING CALL FOR EXTRAS IN THE REBOOT OF THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET FRANCHISE THAT IS HAPPENING AS WE SPEAK JUST TWO TOWNS NORTH OF ME!!!!

    AHHHHHH!!!!

    Oh how freakin' cool would this have been? Sadly, they were only casting teenagers. And, even though I've been told I look much younger than 34, I don't think I'd make the cut. "Almost" only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear warfare.

    It would've been so much fun. Even just a walk-on bit.

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    Frederick, dear friend. So close, and yet so far.

    Well it only took about two years, but the Illinois State Police finally got enough of something to justify arresting that dipshit Drew Peterson in charges related to the death of his third wife, Kathleen Savio. Sure, this doesn't help with finding Stacy Peterson, his fourth wife who is still missing, but it's a step in the right direction when it comes to getting this jackass behind bars. Ideally permanently.

    My favorite line in the article is "Police arrested Peterson at 5:35 p.m. in a traffic stop at Lily Cache Lane and Weber Road in Bolingbrook." That's about a mile from where I played dodgeball and is right where my buddy Eric (Flaming Lips Eric) used to live a few years ago. Am I right about the street, Eric?


    Ladies and gentlemen, these snakes are slitherin'...

    I looked over at my wife in the car last night on the way home from the gym and thought to myself, "who the hell are you and what have you done with my wife?"

    A little background might be nice, eh?

    [rewind the scene a minute or so]

    Katie: So your Star Trek movie comes out this weekend, doesn't it?

    Me: I think so. Why?

    Katie: Okay, I'll go see it with you.

    Me: Huh? Where'd that come from?

    Katie: I dunno, but I'll see it with you.

    Me: You don't have to do that, y'know. I'm more than willing to see it by myself.

    Katie: No, I'll go with you.

    Me: Really? You sure?

    Katie: Yeah.

    Me: Why?

    Katie: I dunno. I just will.

    Me: Okay. Cool.

    My wife, who has, I believe, never seen any Star Trek film or TV show, is suddenly willing to go see this new film with me. She had no desire before and I couldn't blame her. It's geek porn, plain and simple. And yet, much like Adam, I'm not even really a Trekkie, but I still think it looks cool and want to see it. But I never even was going to ask Katie because I knew, well in advance, what her answer would be, so why bother?

    Then this. I'm still curious why. Is she afraid I'm going to run away with some she-Trekkie I run into at the theater? Is she writing her own blog that I don't know about called "My Geeky Husband" in which she is going to chronicle the childlike awe she's expecting me to put display in the theater complete with hidden video (I'd read it)? I'm lost as to where this came from. Complete left field here. And after being so adamantly against seeing it.

    Speaking of "adamant(ium)ly," if you want further evidence to support my theory that aliens have abducted Katie and replaced her with a lookalike with a scifi penchant, try this one on for size... she saw Wolverine with me on Sunday. Now you believe me, don't you?

    I guess this one is a bit more understandable, though, since it has Ryan Reynolds (albeit in a far-too-small role, as noted by Crys) and Taylor Kitsch. But it's still Wolverine. She's never read an X-Men comic (not that I have, either) and has never seen any of the films and, much like Trek, she always said she had no desire. And, yet, here she was with me in line buying tickets and watching in rapt awe at the screen. Guess what... she enjoyed it! Not one of her faves, by far. But she liked it. She even expressed an interest in watching the original X-Men with me again to see how well the two films flow together.

    Has my wife gone geek? Beyond just marrying me, that is.

    Should I push my luck and see if she'll finally watch Star Wars with me?

    Should I just accept it for what it is? A wife becoming tangentially interested in that which interests her husband?

    Or should I worry that some nefarious plot has been set in motion?

    I made a new friend while on a walk yesterday during my lunch break. However, he's not the kind of friend you just take home and introduce to everyone. He's kinda timid and likes his privacy. If you get too close, he might get a little pissy... or hissy, as the case may be.

    I had my camera with me on my walk and was taking some pictures of flowers near where I work. I ran into another friend who suggested I snap some pics of a plant in a little garden area so I descended the stairs and, just as she was about to follow me, she stopped and said, "SNAKE!"

    Yep, there he was, coiled around himself right beside one of the stairs I was just walking on. I think at his fattest point, he was about an inch and a quarter to an inch and a half in diameter. Uncoiled, I'd guess he hits about three to four feet long.

    I'm used to seeing garter snakes in the area and even some small snakes swimming in the river just 10 feet away, but never ones this big just sitting there. I think he was asleep, but his eyes were open. I wasn't going to ask.

    Anybody out there with snake experience want to help identify him? I've got him loosely pegged as a Cottonmouth.

    Update: Local Animal Control ID'd it as a Brown Watersnake.

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    The rest of the photos are available on Flickr.