Entertainment 2007

We sure are cute for two ugly people...

Before we begin, we'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year's Eve and, in case we don't get back to you tomorrow, a Happy New Year as well!

Yes, I say "we" because this post is brought to you by both Katie and Kevin!

Katie's not that into the music scene. Yes, she listens. But not with quite the ravenous love that I do. So she steers clear of that stuff and leaves it to me.

Now that we're talking movies, she's totally into it. So we're both working together to bring you Kapgar's Top Movies of 2007. We may even throw in some comments for you.

At first, we considered the possibility of doing this in Ebert and Roeper format with each of us presenting our own Top 10s, one at a time. But we then discovered a few problems... our top five movies were exactly the same, and my 7-8 were the same as her 6-7 with me adding one movie she hadn't seen to bump them down a bit, and, finally, she couldn't think of anything beyond #7 to fill out a full 10. This made things a bit weird. Not weird that we have almost exactly the same taste in movies, but just weird in that you'd be pretty much reading the same thing twice.

So we are bringing you one list where I have a few thrown in that are slightly different than what she would've done had she compiled her own list. We hope you enjoy it all the same.

And I'd like to note, for the record, that we saw a flippin' load of movies this year. I started putting together the list and it's just ridonkulous how many are on there. I don't even remember seeing this many. But I know we did see them.

Oh yeah, there's also a laundry list of movies we have yet to see as well including:

  • Atonement
  • The Bucket List
  • Charlie Wilson's War
  • Fred Claus
  • Gone Baby Gone
  • The Great Debaters
  • Into the Wild
  • The Kite Runner
  • Michael Clayton
  • No Country For Old Men
  • Once
  • P.S. I Love You
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
  • The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep

Now on to what we actually did see:

Continue reading "We sure are cute for two ugly people..." »


And the winner is...

A quick note to begin... if you have not yet seen the movie Juno, go. Now. Don't pass go. Don't collect $200. Just buy your ticket at full price (it's worth it) and sit back and enjoy. It is one of the most perfect movies of the year (with only Waitress up there with it). Thoroughly enjoyable on all counts - acting, directing, writing. Go. Stop reading and go.

And now for Kapgar's Top Singles of 2007!

Bear in mind, these are songs I like and are not necessarily reflective of which songs on an album did best on the charts or radio. Oh, and I'm actually breaking this into a two-disc set... The Best of the Best and then the Second Best. I found that many.

So, once again, sit back, plug in, and enjoy!

Continue reading "And the winner is..." »


Just as they play your favourite song...

Before I dive into my top albums of 2007, I wanted to share this article I found yesterday. It's one of those "where are they now" sorts of follow ups with this one all about former figure skater Tonya Harding. I know, I know... who really cares, right? Well I was one who didn't. But I read it anyway, and Kansas City Star reporter Sam Mellinger does a very nice job with it. You almost begin to feel some sympathy for Harding by the end. That's the mark of a good writer... humanizing the demonic.

On to the meat and potatoes... Kapgar's Top 10 Albums of 2007!

As much work as these lists can be, they're still a lot of fun because they give you a moment to sit back and reflect. Maybe you can already tie one of these albums into some event in your life or maybe you just think about the first time you listened to it. Whatever the case may be, I love how music just carries you back.

Continue reading "Just as they play your favourite song..." »


Bottle it up...

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury,

FieldcateKyleortonAt left, I present a photo of my client, Field Cate, the young actor who plays the preteen embodiment of Lee Pace's character "Ned" in the ABC television series Pushing Daisies.

While, admittedly, he does bear -- no pun intended -- a passing resemblance to current Chicago Bears starting quarterback Kyle Orton, at right, there really is no reason to hold that against my client.

He does not, nor has he ever, played for the Chicago Bears.

He is not the Bears' desperate attempt to salvage a losing season.

And, honestly, do you, the Bears fans across America, really think that cracking jokes about how my client  touched the Bears and brought them to life for one play in last night's loss to the Minnesota Vikings only to find them drop over dead, forever, 60 seconds later is going to make you feel better about what has become a thoroughly pitiful season?

Give it up, Bears Nation. This season is a wash. Just give the Packers and Saints a tickmark in the win column, go home, and pine for what "could've been" last season... if you only had a reliable quarterback.

I rest my case.

Yes, I am sad about my Bears. This season sucks.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): But at least this makes me happy. I get to start compiling my "Best Of" lists for the year! No, that's not sarcasm. I'm actually looking forward to it. Really. I admit it will be hard work, but fun all the same. I think I will do a Best Movie and Best Album list like I always do. However, I may also do a Best Song list. That will be the tough one.

And I finally got off my butt and set it up so that if you click on music and TV links in future posts, you will be taken straight to the page on iTunes. No longer will I have to just talk about music without being able to give you a direct link. This will make it easier, if you are interested in something I talk about, like the killer Sara Bareilles Live Session EP that I just bought off iTunes this morning, you can actually click through and listen to the 30 second samples that iTunes offers. No, I'm not asking you to buy it even if I do get a cut. I simply like the fact that you can now actually listen to what I rave about and decide for yourself if these are simply the ravings of a lunatic mind (you can be honest, it won't bother me). Doesn't this make life that much easier?

Sure, if you don't have iTunes, this won't do you much good. But who doesn't have iTunes? And if you answer "me," might I suggest making the use of iTunes a New Year's Resolution? Real is dead, people. So is Napster.

Oh, and I will have to reconfigure the "Hear Me" box at left as that thing is still linked up to Amazon.


Watch out, you might get what you're after...

There was a time -- actually just a few short years ago -- when I was very much on top of the Hollywood film making machine. Not literally "on top," just in the proverbial sense of it in that I actually knew what was going on.

I would read regularly about books that were being optioned and turned into scripts or TV shows making the jump. I knew about stars and what their next several upcoming films were. I knew how directors were planning their schedules for certain projects for the next few years. Yeah, I had my finger on the pulse of Hollywood. And it was fun. A lot of it had to do with my addiction to playing Hollywood Stock Exchange (HSX).

This is not the case anymore, however.

These days, I find that I don't know what the heck is going on. Some movies come to theaters and disappear before I've even heard of them now. That's how far removed I am.

But I've noticed an oddly disturbing trend these days... I finish reading a book, and within a couple months it is released as a movie. Check this out...

This past summer, I read Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. Literally a week or two after reading it, I find out from some magazine that Sean Penn directed the film version that was coming out in the fall or winter. I had no idea.

The next book I read was Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, a fantastic book, by the way. A month or so after I finish reading it, I'm sitting in the theater waiting for a movie to start and up comes a trailer for, you guessed it, The Kite Runner. I didn't even know it was optioned for a movie. Makes sense that it would be, I just didn't know.

A few weeks ago, I finished Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. Basically, it's the true story of math whizzes from M.I.T. who formed a blackjack club that learned how best to beat the odds and win a vast majority of the time while playing the game. Yet another good read. Yesterday, while Katie and I were waiting to buy tickets to see August Rush, I found a movie poster on the wall for a film called 21 and it had a big ace of hearts in the corner and the description was something about students beating Vegas at blackjack. I looked a bit closer at the credits and saw "based on the book by Ben Mezrich."

Dang. This is really starting to scare me. Either I need to start reading about the goings on in Hollywood again or I need to be very careful with what I read. God only knows what Hollywood will churn out next since my reading tendencies apparently are very closely tied into their script approval process.


When the lights go down in the city...

How about some snippets for my first second day in a row of blogging in quite some time?

NBC-Ya-Later
NBC has now officially removed all their TV shows from iTunes. Well, you know what I have to say about that? Screw ya, NBC. I'll watch your shows on TV and if I miss them, I miss them. I will no longer make an effort to watch any of your shows if you're not going to allow me TO PAY YOU so I can put it on my iPod! You're saying no to my money... the one thing, aside from ratings (which should result in money anyway) that you like most. I was about to purchase an episode of Law & Order from last season to watch on my iPod, but since you don't want my money, I won't give it to you. Eat my shorts, NBC.

Protection
I have to thank Yet Another Girl for this one. The township of Manalapan, NJ, is demanding that Google hand over the identity, e-mail address, associated e-mails, blog drafts, and and other information they have regarding a blogger who uses the name "daTruthSquad." Apparently this person has written some critical comments about a township lawsuit and the town thinks it was actually written by the defendant in the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is stepping in to defend the First Amendment rights of the blogger and of Google in their protection of this information.

Favre
I know I'm a Chicago Bears fan and our natural adversary is anybody donning the green and yellow of the Green Bay Packers. However, Packer rifleman Brett Favre was just named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year and I am having trouble thinking of a more deserving guy. After a couple seasons of subpar play from him and his team, the man has come back in a big way this season at 38 years old, an age when most NFLers have hung up their spikes. Plus he has consistently been the top scorer on one of my fantasy teams and I drafted him as my backup. He was bumped to starter very early on. Maybe I'm supposed to hate the guy, yet I cannot help but respect him. He's amazing. Damn him for being a Packer.

Frosty
I was given an early birthday present from a friend in the form of a six pack of special winter brew by my buddies over at New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO. It is the Fat Tire 2° Below winter ale and I am so jacked about trying it. From what I'm told, it can be a very hard beer to find as it sells out rather quickly upon arrival in stores.

Birthday
Nice segue, eh? Yep, tomorrow I turn a pair o' threes... 33 years old. I admit I'm old. But I'm still younger than you, Hilly! Hah! Yeah, that was mean. But she's constantly teasing me or expressing her disbelief that I'm not older than her. So she deserves the poke... um... yeah. I only wish ThinkGeek had a gift registry. Oh the fun I could have! Or maybe they do and I'm just too lazy to look. Oh well.

Power
The area I live in here in the Midwest is expecting one heckuva winter storm today and tonight. If you live in the area, please be safe. Stay home, put on pajamas, find emergency candles, and hunker down with someone you love. Best advice I can think to impart unto you.


Sometimes you wanna go...

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I tried to come up with something worthwhile late last week and my mind just failed miserably. And, since part of the point of this pseudo-hiatus is to not post crap, I didn't.

This past Friday night, I got together with a couple long-time friends for the first time in a long time. Just three guys out at a bar drinking, chatting, and maybe eating a little to help soak up all the Guinness. It was fun and it had been far too long.

But I have to admit that I did feel a little weird during this whole event.

We went to a pub and tavern that is actually right up the street from where I live. If I needed to, I could walk there (thankfully, I didn't need to). Yet, despite living so close, I felt the role of outsider to the x degree.

When I arrived, MadIrishMan (as some of you may know him from comments a while back) was already in full swing. He may have been on Guinness one or two, I didn't bother asking. Not much point. But he was also already chatting up the bartenders who all knew him by name.

Then B- (also how he refers to himself here on my blog) showed up. Immediately he started chatting up everybody. Not just the bartenders, but the wait staff, greeters, and management.

This was not just the normal, run-of-the-mill smalltalk either. In some cases, what they were talking about was clearly a continuation of conversations started well in the past. Like old friends picking up where they last left off.

For B-, this is completely understandable. He used to work at the place. And much of the crew on staff that night worked there at the same time he did. MadIrishMan, on the other hand, never worked there. He was just someone they knew from the many... many... times he'd been a patron there.

I actually found myself a bit jealous. I liked the idea of having "that place" that you can go to where people do know you; as they sing in the Cheers theme, "sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name." I wanted to have that exhilaration of being in this place and having people welcome you by name, have the employees being nice to you not just because you are a potential tip but because they know you and legitimately give a damn. I don't want to go so far as having everyone shout "Kevin!" when I enter, although that might still feel kinda cool every so often.

How can I achieve this kind of recognition and localized fame on a reduced budget?

Waitress Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Yesterday, Katie and I watched the first movie in a long time that we both enjoyed in all regards. The film was Waitress starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion.

Basically, it's the story of a small-town waitress and pie maven named Jenna (Russell) who is in an abusive relationship and longs to escape. Her plans to just leave her husband are thwarted when she finds out she is pregnant. However, as a result, she meets and falls in love with her doctor (Fillion) with whom she begins an affair.

Yes, it's about adultery, but it's an incredibly endearing movie that has outstanding acting by everyone involved. Plus the writing and directing by co-star Adrienne Shelly, who was murdered near the end of production of the film, was fantastic.

And if you need another reason to see this film, how about Andy Griffith turning in one of the funniest performances of his long and storied career? I don't think I've ever laughed as hard watching him.

Yeah, this one is high up on my "best of" list for 2007.


Blue, blue, blue Christmas...

If there's any one thing I learned from multiple dorm viewings in college, it's that good scripts and plots are very much the exception in the porn industry. Who needs a script and plot (and acting for that matter) when sex is all you are trying to convey?

Well, me. Back in the day when watching these sorts of films was commonplace for young men, it would've been nice to legitimize the affair a bit by being able to claim that these films bordered (and I use that loosely) on art.

Therefore, I think I'm going to make it a point to start writing the thinking man's (and woman's) porn scripts.

I've actually already got several ideas in my head. No, the other head, you pervert. The one north of my shoulders.

But the problem is that I am a married man. I hope to have kids some day. And I'm a professional in the tech industry. So there really is no way I can legitimately use my real name when writing these scripts.

This is where you come in. I need a good porn pseudonym... basically just a pen name under which I can write these scripts and not rouse suspicion from those I know.

Any ideas?

I'd also like to know... if you were to do something similar, what would be your nom de plume?

MonsterballadsxmasTotally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Today's sign that the apocalypse is on us comes in the form of a CD that I picked up at the library last week. It's titled Monster Ballads Xmas and features many of the great hair bands performing holiday standards. Check some of these out...

  • Skid Row - "Jingle Bells"
  • Winger - "Happy Christmas (War is Over)"
  • Jani Lane of Warrant - "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
  • Twisted Sister with Lita Ford - "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
  • Queensryche - "White Christmas"
  • L.A. Guns - "Run Rudolph Run"
  • Firehouse - "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"
  • Danger Danger - "Naughty Naughty Christmas"
  • Tom Kiefer of Cinderella - "Blue Christmas"
  • Nelson - "Jingle Bell Rock"
  • Faster Pussycat - "Silent Night"
  • Dokken - "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"
  • Enuff Z'nuff - "Happy Holiday"
  • Stryper - "Winter Wonderland"
  • Billy Idol - "Christmas Love"

Wow. I just don't know what to say other than I can't wait to hear this one!

On the topic of music, got a meme for you in the extended post.

Continue reading "Blue, blue, blue Christmas..." »


His skin is green, but his mood is blue...

You would think that being an American male I would have an innate love of all things Thanksgiving. Heck, if there's one character trait hammered home by popular culture, it's that any holiday involving food is a favorite of men.

Sorry, not so much for me. Never cared much for it. Thanksgiving always seemed like a misnomer of a holiday to me. Kinda like Columbus Day, which is meant to celebrate the man who *cough* discovered North America and became a *cough* friend of the native peoples. We all know that, despite our grade school education, this entire image of Christopher Columbus is a load of crap. He wasn't even close to being the first one to discover North America and he was anything but kind to the natives.

That's how I view Thanksgiving. The image of Pilgrims and Native Americans sitting down side by side and enjoying a meal together always struck me as being too much of a stretch of how I perceive the reality of the situation to be. Maybe there isn't historical evidence to support my alternate theory, but it all still feels, well, wonky to me.

When you combine this historical skepticism with my continued quest to lose weight, you'll understand why I'm no friend of Thanksgiving.

But there is one good thing to come of the holiday this year... for the first time in a long time, Katie's not cooking the feast and we're not hosting the get together! Oh, it feels so good. We're actually going to spend the holiday with her family. We usually host it for my family, but we wanted a change this year. I think Katie is feeling a combination of relief and anguish. It's a relief to not have to worry about it, but then we watch shows on the Food Network and they're all about Thanksgiving right now, so she starts to feel like she's missing out to some degree. It's a painful mix for her.

What are your plans?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): When I can find well-done schlock films, I tend to love them. Great stuff like John Waters' Cry-Baby make me feel like all's right with the world.

Zombierights This is why I've been loving the short film Zombie Prom. It's schlock, pure and simple, mixed with comic art and a lot of singing.

Basically, it's the story of an idyllic little American town in the 50s whose world is changed by the arrival of an outsider, Jonny ("without the customary H"), who doesn't buy into the societal norms. At Enrico Fermi High School, he falls for a girl named Toffee but she dumps him because her parents do not condone of their relationship. So, in a fit of atomic adolescent angst, Jonny hurls himself into the cooling tower of the nearby Francis Gary Powers nuclear power plant and he returns as a zombie... a zombie who still wants to take Toffee to the prom, no less.

It's best to think of this film as what would happen if Cry-Baby, Pleasantville, The Mask, Grease, and Creepshow were all thrown in a blender and the puree button was left on for way too long.

Oh c'mon! This is great stuff! And it was free on iTunes when I downloaded it. While it's no longer free, it's still only $1.99. How can it get any better? Oh yeah, here's how... the line "This isn't about civil rights. This is about protecting the traditional values that made this country great" being uttered by none other than RuPaul. Yeah, that's right. Ru-friggin'-Paul ranting about traditional values.

Schlockity, schlock, schlock, and schlockers! Come to daddy!

[production image courtesy of ZombiePromtheMovie.com]


I just wanna live my life...

I really have a problem with censorship. It can be any sort of censorship, but most specifically when one person, group, or organization tries to enforce their views on others thus restricting their ability to take part in some activity.

This time around, the object of my rant is a parents' group (and the school board) in Tuscola, Texas, who had a ninth-grade English teacher placed on paid leave because he allowed a student to read Cormac McCarthy's Child of God for a pre-Advanced Placement English course.

The teacher, Kaleb Tierce, had a list of books available from which students could pick one for a reading project. This one freshman chose the book and read it. Then the student's parents picked up on it and made the complaint. Now the teacher, who also doubles as an assistant football coach, is being investigated for allegedly distributing harmful material to a minor. If charged, he could be charged with a misdemeanor and receive up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.

WTF?!?!

This booklist was compiled by all the English teachers in the school and approved by administrators. Yes, it features themes including rape and murder and sex with corpses that may not be appropriate for all, but that's why there are several books on the list. The students have a choice. They don't have to read this book. He didn't force it into this student's hands; they chose it and asked for his approval to read it. Bear in mind that the legal charges aren't likely to come and few people actually want anything to happen the teacher. They really just want the book removed from the list, which it was in response to this complaint. However, a DA is currently examining whether a crime was actually committed.

I just don't understand rationale like this. Especially in this day and age. Do you really think removing a book from a list is going to stop young people from checking it out? No. This might make them want to read it even more. I hope it does. I hope students spite the ignorance of those trying to stop them and go read it anyway.

So there you have it, the inaugural book in the Kapgar Featured Pages Club... Cormac McCarthy's Child of God. Go read it and, while you're doing so, remember that a teacher's job and freedom are at stake because of it.


Sing, sing a song...

After a night of sleep that left me wondering not only what day it was but also who and where I was this morning, I think it might be easier to try to lay off deep posts and just run with a meme idea I've had swirling in my head for some time. Oh, and if this has been done before, I apologize. I don't remember seeing one like this yet, so that'll have to be good enough for this morning.

Simply answer the questions below to the best of your ability

Musicology:

  1. What is the first music album you remember owning? If not the same, what is the first music album you purchased for yourself?
  2. What artist currently occupies the most space either in terms of shelf space or megabytes on your hard drive?
  3. How many different types of music media (vinyl, cassette, CD, etc) have you owned in your lifetime?
  4. Who or what has had the biggest effect on your music taste?
  5. How do you currently prefer to listen to music?
  6. In terms of music memorabilia, what is your most prized possession?
  7. Have you ever "swapped headsets" with a complete stranger (meaning have you ever unplugged the earphones from your listening device and plugged them into someone else's player and had them do the same)? If yes, what did they play for you?
  8. Have you ever been completely obsessed with a particular artist? Who and to what level did your fandom go?
  9. What is the farthest you've ever traveled for a concert?
  10. Who have you seen in concert the most?

My answers:

  1. The first one I owned was either my special edition Michael Jackson album that included songs inspired by E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial or it could've been a Star Wars soundtrack album. The first one I purchased for myself was one of the following that were all purchased around the same time: Bon Jovi Slippery When Wet, Europe The Final Countdown, or Run D.M.C. Raising Hell on cassette. My first CD was actually The Black Crowes Shake Your Moneymaker.
  2. Shelf space is clearly KISS (I own CDs, vinyl, and cassettes) with Pearl Jam in a close second. On my computer, it's a virtual tie between The Beatles, Foo Fighters, INXS, KISS, Led Zeppelin, and U2.
  3. I have owned vinyl, cassettes, CDs, minidiscs, and digital formats. Although my parents also owned 8 Tracks that I listened to but never personally owned.
  4. My biggest influence is probably my parents whose music I still listen to including The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, The Bee-Gees, Barry Manilow, Lionel Richie, and Kenny Rogers. But I also remember being at a Cub Scouts meeting when I was about 11 years old. Our meetings were held at a local high school and they used to post mini biographies of students on the wall of the cafeteria. In one of those bios, the student said he was a big fan of Bon Jovi, Europe, and Run D.M.C. I had to find out what they were all about (hence my answer to #1) and it's been downhill ever since.
  5. iPod is the only way for me to listen to music. As Katie said the other day, my iPods go pretty much everywhere with me. CDs are used once to put the music on my computer so it can be transferred to my iPod (if I even buy CDs at all anymore).
  6. I have a collection of concert-used guitar picks from artists like Jackyl, Van Halen, Buddy Guy, INXS, Pantera, etc. But my prized possession is a CD insert signed by all the guys in Jackyl. Not that it's particularly valuable in a monetary sense, but I obtained it at one of the last concerts I went to with my buddy, Mike, before he died. Great times.
  7. I have, but only once. I think they played some Lemonheads for me. I've been addicted ever since.
  8. While I've liked bands greatly, I've never been really obsessed. But my friend Mike (see #6) was completely obsessed with KISS and I shared in his obsession to some degree. We would drive around to various music memorabilia shops in Illinois and Iowa to pick up stuff to add to his collection. He was attempting to save the money to purchase a KISS pinball machine at the time he died. I still want to buy one to dedicate to him.
  9. I drove with my buddies the whole length of I-55 from Chicago to Louisiana in 1997 to see U2 play at the Superdome in New Orleans. Great concert.
  10. I have seen Van Halen, KISS, and Rocco DeLuca and the Burden three times each. Of course VH and KISS were spread out over several years, while the three Rocco shows spanned eight days only.

As always, steal if you're so inclined.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Bwahahahahahahaha!!


And it makes me smile...

Howsabout some snippets?

Clean-up
The post-mouse clean-up continues in Casa Kapgar. I'm feeling less and less bad about the steps I had to take to eliminate our houseguest considering how much he, well, "left behind" for us. We completely wiped the counters clean with bleach cleaner. Same with under the sink and our lower food cabinets. His presence was felt in many, many places, if you know what I mean. We also wound up throwing out a lot of foodstuffs. The little prick even got inside the cannister we use to hold many of our kitchen utensils. Yeah, that's right, we emptied it out to find little brown specks all over the inside. Not fun. Not at all.

Jericho
Do you remember back in May when I announced I won a radio contest for a DVD box set of Twin Peaks, season 2, and I was confused because I couldn't remember entering the contest? Well, I still don't remember entering it, but I have won something else from the very same station. This one I'm pretty sure I remember entering but only because I didn't think there was a prayer of actually winning it.

It's the first season of Jericho.

I started watching this show last season and made it through a handful of episodes before giving up. It wasn't fantastic, by any stretch. But it wasn't terrible. And I think, this time, I may actually watch it. Heck, it's free so why not, right?

But I would like to know when I'm going to start winning the contests I want to win. That's not asking too much, is it?

Muzak
Oh the agony I could've saved my fellow man if only I'd had a rocket launcher installed on my truck. I'd be a hero to millions the world over who are tired of bad music being piped into their workplaces and offices and stores they visit on a daily basis.

Target acquired

Sorry it's a bit blurry. I was driving at the time. And I did black out his license plate. I'm not targeting this guy specifically so no need to worry him and, consequently, the local authorities. But that doesn't make Muzak any less evil.

Lily
Typically I'm one of those people who knows immediately whether he likes an album or not. I can listen to it once and know if I will ever listen to it again. That's just how I roll.

But Lily Allen's Alright, Still has me a bit confused.

I really can't decide if I like it or not. Some of it appeals to me but in a way I can't quite put in words and, thus, I don't know if I truly like it.


Don't leave me high...

This is an excerpt of a conversation I had yesterday with my office mate (MyOM)...

Me: So I discovered why the break room has three different coffee pots. One decaf is for full strength and one is for half strength. The regular pot is for full strength caffeinated. They use one and a half packets of grounds for full strength and one packet for half strength although that doesn't necessarily add up mathematically.

MyOM: Sounds a bit too complicated for me.

Me: I agree. I think they should all be the way I like it... black, regular, and strong.

[awkward silence]

Me: Umm...

MyOM: Yeah, I'm not going to touch that one.

Me: It really didn't sound quite so bad in my head.

MyOM: It never does.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It was announced a few weeks back that Radiohead was going to ditch iTunes when they release their new album, In Rainbows. Their complaint was that, on iTunes, people could buy just a song or two and not the entire album. They feel their album is one complete narrative and that it should be purchased as an all-or-nothing deal.

Artistically, I can understand where they're coming from. But, as a fan, I think they're being selfish and bullheaded. That's the beauty of iTunes and other online music stores, you can buy what you want when you want it. And you'll own the music legally.

Then Radiohead made another announcement... In Rainbows is being offered up on their Web site in either discbox or download format and you pay what you think it's worth to you. Whether the amount is $0, the normal $10-15 for an album, or even more, you pay what you feel the album should be valued at. It's an interesting concept and one I'm willing to try. I'm especially willing since I'm not as big a fan of Radiohead's newer tunes. I much prefer their old stuff like The Bends and OK Computer. But, with that offer in place, I'll definitely give this new album a shot.

Radioheaduptoyou

Upon further examination, you are subject to a transaction fee if you order the download as opposed to the discbox version. Not sure how much that is yet, but we shall see. Plus, if you order the discbox, you get it a week ahead of those who buy the downloadable format.

So what is Radiohead worth to you?


Call me...

More snippety goodness...

Caffeinated
There was regular coffee in the breakroom today! Yay me!

Cub-boom
Here's a quick note to anyone who knows that I am a Cubs fan and would like to tease me over the fact that the Cubbies are now down by two games to the D-Backs... yep, I realize it. And no, it doesn't phase nor upset me in the slightest. I am so desensitized by disappointment that any Cubs failure really does nothing to me. My expectation for success is about as high as my expectation that a Will Ferrell movie won't annoy me. Yeah, pretty low.

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle.

Freebies
I love how the Apple iTunes Store gives stuff away for free. Most of the time, it's a B-side to a new album, or a music video, or some song by an artist or new TV show you've never heard of in a hope to give them a popularity boost. Whatever. The key is that it's free.

However, when the freebie is something that I know and love, it's all the better. Take, for instance, the free episode of American Dad that is currently being offered. It was this past Sunday's "Vacation Goo" episode which I thought was brilliant and left me in stitches. And to make it free? Score!

Overlay
I know it's common for areas to be "redistricted," for lack of a better way to word it, in terms of area codes for phone service. Heck, since I've lived in Illinois, I have had four area codes. The reason for this is because the proliferation of new technologies like fax machines and cell phones over the past couple decades has necessitated more numbers within an area code and, thus, the coverage area must shrink and new area codes must be added.

But what I hate is when overlay area codes are applied. This occurs when a single geographic area has two area codes working in it rather than redividing the area. This has already happened in other parts of the Chicago suburbs and now it will affect my area as well. We will soon see the 331 area code work in our 630 zone and all phones, faxes, cells, etc., must be reprogrammed because we must now dial the full 10 (or 11, if you need to use the 1, but cellphones don't need them) digit number to make a local call.

GRRRRRRR!!!

Redesign
I'm pretty sure I mentioned this on here somewhere recently, but I am going to make the jump to WordPress pretty soon. My hope was to have all this done by the middle of this month, but it doesn't seem to be happening. I've got so much crap going on that doing anything to my blog other than posting is just an impossibility. Heck, I haven't even transferred my domain over to a new host yet and that's really the first thing I need to do to make it a reality.

But I do think I finally have a photo in mind for my banner. That's one baby step in the right direction.

Speaking of redesign, I have two sites that I worked on in the past for friends and family to which I need to make some stylistic tweaks. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that all the source files for these sites are nowhere to be found. Original raw images? Nothing. Layered Photoshop images? Nada.

This ticks me off. Now I have to recreate the images from scratch. So not fun.


It's hip to be square...

Snip, snip...

Cube'dCube
For the first time in, I believe, five years, my Rubik's Cube is finally solved! Yay me!

Do you find the timing odd considering Dave's post a couple days ago? Well, yeah, I do have him to thank as the solution he linked to is what ultimately helped me solve it.

I had tried just about everything short of peeling the stickers off and putting them back on (the way I did it when I was a kid). Heck, I even tried to pry it apart (see below), but to no avail. I also tried online solutions and none of them, until Dave's link, worked worth a lick.

Claw'd Cube

But it's done. And now that I know it's possible to solve it and how to do it, I may shuffle it back up and try it again. But not yet. I'd like some time to revel in my accomplishment.

WMPy WMPy WMPy
On that rare occasion that I listen to a CD at work instead of my iPod, I have to use Windows Media Player and, sorry kilax and Diane, but it sucks. I have the worst time trying to figure out the functionality of this piece of software. Everything is so scatterbrained that you can tell a committee worked to set it up.

However, I did get a little laugh from it yesterday. I put in a compilation CD that was not registered with the CDDb and, as expected, none of the CD's information registered in the player. But I still got this in the identifier box...

Unknownbuy

I love it! They don't know who it is, what album it is, or what genre it is... but I can still buy it!

Stupid Microsoft.

Daisies
I owe Dave an apology. I challenged him a bit on the new show Pushing Daisies which premiered last night. He said it was great and that we would all love it. I left a comment saying it better be as good as he keeps hyping it to be.

Well, he was right (yeah, yeah, stroke his ego some more, right?). It was quirky and fun and it had heart and it was beautifully rendered and wonderfully cast and... I just hope they can keep it up. Think the good ol' days of Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands era) meets Dr. Seuss and you'll have some idea of the feel for the show. Then realize it's about a guy who can touch dead things and bring them back to life. But if he touches them again, they die forever and if he doesn't re-kill them within a minute, there will be drastic consequences on another living being around him.

Very cool.


Wanna be your superhero...

What triggers a person to have a specific dream?

Shouldn't every dream that a person has be attributable to some external factor?

For example, if I just had a particularly strenuous workout at the gym, then it's understandable that I have a dream in which I'm walking down the street, muscles rippling through my shirt. As I pass, all the women swoon while the men they are with stare daggers in my general direction for visually winning the hearts of their women.

Or, if it's storming out as I sleep, my brain registers the storm and turns it into a dream in which I'm running for my life as lightning bolts strike the ground where I was just stepping. Sorta like an episode of The A-Team in which the enemy is so bad, all they can do is shoot where one of our illustrious former Special Forces guys was, instead of where they are or will be. Anybody who knows anything about pop culture knows that A-Team villains are the only ones who have a worse weapons accuracy rating than Stormtroopers.

Both of these make sense, right?

Turtle So how do I go about explaining my dream last night in which I was viewing an episode of a show very highly similar to VH-1's Flavor of Love, in which one pseudo-star is surrounded by some of the strangest and most desperate women known to man who are willing to turn his every wish into reality for the chance to be with him. Only this time, instead of Public Enemy's Flavor Flav, for whom the show was named, the star was Entourage's Turtle. No, not Jerry Ferrara, the guy who played Turtle on Entourage, but Turtle himself. Sorta like his association as part of Vinnie Chase's posse resulted in enough star power to warrant inclusion in the next iteration of the show.

Explain that one, will ya?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Spam comments on a blog never truly make sense. Usually they are garbled B.S. that is meant to look like a comment. But the one thing they all seem to have in common is a link either in the URL field of the comment or built into the comment itself that would guide some unlucky soul to a Web site hawking porn, religion, or prescription medication (a motley mix, indeed).

So what is the purpose of this one? There was no link to any sort of freakfest Web site whatsoever, just a very loosely related comment on my first Lost Blogs post from last year...

Hi Paul, are you realy dying. 30 is far to young to die. Now I typed in 'God is dying". Are both you and God dying. Now I feel bad about that. God talked to me. He told me a number of things. If you are dying and you have been say a good boy during your life, you really don't die. You get a new and better body in the next life. We will even call it your birthday. I know you say that you have been born, but you get to be born again. I hope in your short years that you learned as much as you could. You will need that knowledge in the nest life. See you in the next. Love Angel Melanie. ;-)

Huh? Do you think Angel Melanie realizes that the post was written from the point of view of a horse?

*DELETE*


Good to the last drop...

Having been a past part of the food service industry in two different capacities (host and server), there is one thing I'm very well versed in and I'd like to share that with you this morning.

Decanter_black_2 At right is a black-rimmed coffee decanter. The black is indicative of the contents being fully caffeinated or "regular."

Caffeinated = what coffee was meant to be

Caffeinated = wakey wakey

Caffeinated = God's nectar

Caffeinated = important on a daily basis especially in an office environment

Decanter_orange At left is an orange-rimmed coffee decanter. In this case, the orange helps servers and patrons, alike, know that the contents are decidedly decaffeinated or, if it's not regular, it must be "irregular."

Decaffeinated = no energy

Decaffeinated = sleep inducing

Decaffeinated = stripping coffee of centuries of hard-earned dignity

Decaffeinated = BLECH!

And this viewpoint is reflected daily in my office by the fact that the one black-rimmed decanter is almost always nearly empty while the two orange-rimmed decanters sit nearly full all day long.

Did you catch the irony in that statement? One caffeinated pot that is always low on contents while two decaf pots sit untouched. WHY? DEAR GOD WHY ARE THERE TWO POTS OF DECAF AND ONLY ONE REGULAR??? Is nobody paying attention to what the masses are clearly demanding? Are they intentionally attempting to create a non-productive work environment?

Yes, I know it's easy enough for me to brew a new pot of regular coffee. But, any of you coffee lovers out there know that when you want coffee, you want it that second. Not 10 or 15 minutes later when the pot finally stops brewing. The wait is hell.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Have any of you listened to Kanye West's new album Graduation? Any good? It's funny because all the hype seemed to be about the head-to-head sales competition between West and 50 Cent who both released new albums on the same day. However, I've heard jack about it since and never really heard much in the way of album reviews of either. All writing was focused on the competition.


Let's talk about sex, baby...

A couple sex-related questions I'd like to throw out there for ya today.

You are a married person in your real life. Now, supposing time travel were possible and you went back in time and visited an earlier period of your life before you were with your current spouse. Not much has changed about how you looked between both periods of time that can't be chalked off to "being tired," meaning that if you ran into people you know in this time period you traveled to, they wouldn't think you looked all that different. You now run into an ex love of yours. To this person at this time, you are still together and this person wants to have sex. Is it cheating to have sex with this person that you were, at that point in time, in a monogamous relationship with and that you'll likely not see again after this visit?

Second question, what is worse for a relationship, having an open marriage in which you share yourself both sexually and emotionally with another person other than your spouse or having single-serving sex with another person? Assume, in both cases, that your spouse knows and consents and that transmission of diseases is not a concern.

No, Katie and I are not at some strange crossroads in our marriage. Both are inspired by television viewing last night. We got around to watching the series premiere of Journeyman on NBC, which, while a bit awkward, shows promise and strikes me as a much more somber and modernized Quantum Leap. God I loved Leap.

The second was inspired by yesterday's Oprah. Sorry Hilly, I know you're disappointed. But when you're flipping through channels after the news is done and all of a sudden the program guide shows that Oprah is talking about open marriages, you become morbidly curious. And watching her squirm very uncomfortably was more than worth it. The couple that we watched being interviewed talked about how the woman had too much love in her heart for just a single relationship. How strange is that?


C'mon and be my little good luck charm...

I suddenly felt old yesterday.

Very old.

Katie and I went to see the new Dane Cook starrer Good Luck Chuck. I know, I know, why didn't I read the Good Doctor's review first, right? I seriously should have known better when IMDb's keywords for the movie are listed as "Breasts / Topless / Temptation / Curse / Sexual Wiles." Normally, this wouldn't phase a guy, right? Well, I guess I still tend to look for some of the more traditional movie genre descriptors when selecting a film to watch in the theater. Descriptors like "Drama" or "Mystery" or "Thriller." Heck, it should've served as a warning that "Comedy" doesn't even come up as one of the first IMDb keywords. Even in the expanded list of keywords, the closest you get is "Sex Comedy."

Not that it was entirely horrible. I have seen worse. And this film did have a few (emphasis on "few") redeeming qualities. Alba was somewhat better than normal, which isn't saying too much, and I dug the guy that played her stoner brother, Lonny Ross, apparently of 30 Rock fame.

Yeah, okay, that was about it.

What made me feel old, though, were two scenes in the movie. One scene in which they do a video screen montage of Chuck (Dane Cook) having sex with a ton of women and the other being the final scene of the film.

In the first, I just sat stoically as the various sexual positions were thrown at us on screen. Honestly, it just didn't phase me in the slightest. This could have something to do with the occasional porn party that was held on my dorm floor as an undergrad. Even porn directors have more regard and cinematographic respect for the act of sex than the makers of this film. But the teenagers around Katie and me, who constituted 90% of the theater's audience, seemed to be in awe. It was one of the few times they shut up entirely. If I were the movie screen, I'd feel like I was burning from the intense stares cast upon it.

The final scene of the film, which I won't even describe, was one of those that was just completely unnecessary in the film. For me, it was akin to seeing Ben Stiller's zipper-impaled sack in There's Something About Mary... a movie I loathe. Both didn't help further the film in any way and just served as a means to get some yuks from the crowd. And they both did just that. The kiddies were cackling like hyenas. Not Katie and me, though. We just sat there wondering why we couldn't get up and walk out. We were transfixed, and possibly even slightly horrified. Perhaps we stuck around out of sympathy at what was being done to that poor... well, I'll leave it at that.

And I'll also end this "review" now and leave you with these little bits to help you decide if Good Luck Chuck is one you want to dish out your hard-earned cash for or not.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Katie and I had fun with Kim and Stephen and Diane and Evan this past Friday. We went out to Yu's Mandarin in Schaumburg to enjoy some good Chinese food and drinks and conversation (well, the conversation wasn't Chinese, thankfully). So a big "thank you" to all involved for making it a great evening!


What would Jay-Z do...

Well, the majority, or so it seemed, voted for 3:10 to Yuma with Shoot 'em Up in a close second. So my dad and I went to see the winner.

It was good, no question. It was very well acted and the cinematography was great. Of course, like you might expect of a western, it had a pretty slow build and some moments of boredom. But I've always found this to be a good thing in westerns as it helps convey the mood of life during that era in that part of the world. Would I recommend it? Sure. Enjoy it.

But movies like this always get me thinking... if I was alive during this era and this film was actually depicting life during that time accurately, who would I have been? What I mean is, knowing what I know about myself, what role would I be living out?

Of course, there are two sides to this coin. The first being what role I would like to see myself in, the romanticized vision of how I would like to see my life. Then, on the other side, there's the reality of who I think I legitimately would have been.

Take 3:10 to Yuma. Would I have been the destitute rancher trying desperately to make ends meet who takes on the epic challenge to earn money and, ideally, respect from his family like Dan Evans (Christian Bale)? Or am I the bad ass criminal mastermind who would just as soon shoot his fellow human being than talk to it like Ben Wade (Russell Crowe)?

There are several other characters that warrant consideration in this question as well... bounty hunter and loner Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), the willing but not necessarily well suited to the task Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk), Wade's loyal second in charge Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), and many others.

I'm not sure which character I idealize myself as being. Each has his promises and flaws. But, in reality, I'm likely either Dan Evans or Doc Potter. Both are kinda in the wrong place at the right time to make good on their lives and turn it into something memorable even if they shouldn't be doing so.

Another movie that makes me think like this is Brian DePalma's classic The Untouchables. Would I be the lawman (Kevin Costner), the criminal mastermind (Robert DeNiro), the unwilling hero (Charles Martin Smith), the aging cop itching to make a difference regardless of the steps taken (Sean Connery), the gunslinger (Andy Garcia), the second in command (Billy Drago), or just some sideliner? While this may sound rather similar to the options in 3:10 to Yuma, you must consider the setting difference and question whether that would have an effect on your decision. In one, you are in the very lawless rural west where anything goes and you have few options regarding how to make a living. In the other, while it's equally lawless, you have options for employment that could keep you on the straight and narrow.

Oh so many questions.

I may just be overthinking the moviegoing experience.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Woo hoo! Tonight is dinner with some bloggers! A triple date with diane and her man, Evan, as well as Kim and her new hubby, Stephen. I do feel bad for Katie, Stephen, and Evan, though, as none of them are bloggers. But at least they can sit there are all roll their eyes at us together. Heh.


Don't look at me, I don't want you to see me this way...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but whenever you take some sort of course on public speaking, be it a professional training course or just the basic 100-level communication class in college, one of the first things they teach you is to look up from your notes at the people who are in attendance, right? Another tip was to spread out where you look. Don't spend your entire presentation looking at one person.

Clearly, this last bit was missed by a woman presenting at this conference I finished attending yesterday. I swear to God, when she wasn't pointing to things on the projector screen, she was looking directly at me. No joke. Of the 75 minutes that the presentation lasted, she was looking at me for a good 65 of them.

Now, I realize I'm one sexy fine specimen of a human being (*COUGH* *COUGH* *HACK* *HACK*), and I can't say I blame you for wanting to look at me, but I really began to feel the jealous stares of those around me and I even think I caught on to the occasional envy-laced whisper.

Okay, all joking aside, please start looking elsewhere. You made me feel as though I really needed to pay attention to what you were saying. Almost like I was your confirmation of having done a good job during your presentation.

C'mon! What if I wanted to doze off, look at my Palm Pilot, read a book, or even scratch myself inappropriately? Not that I would actually do these, but you were clearly denying me my right to should I have felt the need! 

Next time, look at other people in addition to just me or whoever winds up being your visual target. Please?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Looks like I'm by my lonesome tonight as Katie will be hanging with my mom and the SiL at a city-sponsored "Girls Night Out." Not entirely sure what that entails, but I suppose she'll find out.

I think I may see another one of those NSFK (Not Safe For Katie) movies. Once again, I need your votes to decide. Will it be...

You have until 5 p.m. to cast your vote. And choose wisely, my evening's entertainment depends on you!


Go round and round...

This is a quick snippet post because I'm running late for my final day at a conference and traffic has been horrible!

Chocolicious
Oh. My. God. The monster has been reawakened! Katie picked up a few quart-sized Dean's Chocolate Milk Chugs the other day because they were on sale and sounded good.

Damn right they're good! We haven't had chocolate milk in the house in months. Actually, on second thought, it might have been a bit more than a year. Yeah, we had Hershey's Chocolate Syrup here at one point, but it's never the same for me. I can never get the ratio of milk to chocolate syrup just right and I wind up sitting there in a pouring, squeezing, stirring, tasting, lather, rinse, repeat cycle for what seems like an eternity. I'd rather just twist, pour, melt. So much easier.

Volvo
It took one hour and fifteen minutes to convince me that I never will own a Volvo.

Last night, Katie and I watched a repeat of the E! True Hollywood Story on The View (I don't watch The View at all, but the controversy that's been going on lately has made me laugh hysterically) and they played a Volvo commercial featuring a derivation of the song "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round" literally a dozen times. In most cases, you heard the God-forsaken song twice in a single commercial break.

Ever heard of "overkill"? Well, you just reached it with me.

And, yes, Katie has been relishing the opportunity to further implant the earworm in my head.

Designers
With the Primetime Emmy's having happened this past weekend, the major coverage on most entertainment networks like E! and shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight has been about the show and what happened before and after, specifically the Red Carpet Coverage.

I think the opportunity to be on the red carpet is the only reason I'd want to be a celebrity. I want some reporter from E! to come up to me and ask whose clothing I'm wearing as I strut my way to the show. Then I'd turn to the reporter and say, "Men's Wearhouse!"

How weird is it that I desperately want to do that?

Oh, and if anyone from here on out actually does say that, I'd damn well better get the credit for it!


Be a hero on the movie screen...

Katie and I hooked up with the SiL this past weekend to go see The Nanny Diaries. It wasn't necessarily a movie I really wanted to see, but I wasn't completely adverse to it and I owed Katie for making her sit through Superbad, a movie whose viewing I regret more with each passing day. Even though I wanted to see Shoot 'Em Up instead, I went with them. How bad can it be, right? It does have Scarlett Johansson.

It wasn't too bad. It had its funny moments, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. Most of the good scenes were done to death in the previews. And God knows I dreaded having to watch through the "the teddy bear has been compromised" bit. I hated the concept of that line from the second time I saw a trailer for the movie. I had another hundred previews and trailers containing that line to help solidify my hatred of it as well.

I think the best part of the movie was actually the trailers. Holy crap do we have some good stuff coming out this fall and winter!

Of course, there is National Treasure: Book of Secrets. I know it wasn't, by cinematic definitions, a great movie, but Katie and I love watching the original and are looking forward to this one a lot. This, of course, means we will be horrendously disappointed.

We Own the Night with Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix looks pretty promising. Not that it will be nearly as good as the last time Wahlberg played a cop in The Departed. But with both Phoenix and Robert Duvall in tow, how bad can it be?

In the lobby of the theater, we saw a poster for Steve Carell's new one Dan in Real Life. I'm rather hit or miss with Carell. Sometimes he's good, but for the most part, I'm not much of a fan. So I was a bit put off by the poster thinking it just didn't strike me as something I wanted to see. Until the trailer played in the theater, that is. Woah! This could be good. Or it could just be Michael Scott in a feature-length film.

I still think I'm the only person I know (save for the SiL) who wants to see Across the Universe. Anybody else?

As much as Robin Williams annoys me these days, Katie and I are really intrigued by August Rush nonetheless. It stars Freddie Highmore and I can't think of a time that kid hasn't been good.

Speaking of promising young actors, how about Millions star Alex Etel's new movie The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep? It's a fictional story about the origins of the Loch Ness Monster. It looks fantastic.

But my number one movie for the season, the one whose trailer made my jaw drop simply because I've been so removed from the film industry lately that I didn't even realize a movie was being made; one that looks so beautifully realized that I sat more quietly during its airing than I've ever sat before to the point that even Katie realized that something was up. Sorry for the run-on sentence, but the movie I'm referring to is The Kite Runner.

It's funny, but I saw the rating box come up on screen and was troubled by what it said until the very image showed on screen with kites in the air and I knew immediately what it was. My eyes became saucers as I watched snippets of Khaled Hosseini's fantastic novel come to life before me. Although I have yet to write my review of the book over on Fun With Dead Trees, it was easily one of the best books I've read in recent years. It was just such a richly written portrait of life in Afghanistan around the time of the coup and then the Soviet takeover as well as subsequent years as an immigrant in America. If you have not yet read the book, please do so. And soon.

I am now officially dying to see the film. It's been a long time since I've said that, but I can honestly say I mean it.


Darkness imprisoning me...

Just some snippets today...

Darkness
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly Mother Nature shifts her tune for the seasons. It was pretty warm to hot last week and dropped massively in a matter of 24 hours to the point where I had to find my sweatshirts again this weekend. It did warm back up a little bit yesterday, but dang.

Also, it seems like yesterday that I was complaining about how much brighter it was in the morning. Now it's pitch black again in the morning. No warning whatsoever.

I was stumbling around in the dark this morning trying to remember where everything was so I wouldn't wake Katie up while trying to make my way downstairs to type this. I jammed my foot a couple times. It's weird how much we come to rely on a single sense and then to see -- or in my case, feel -- how tripped up we are when that sense is taken away.

O.J.
I find it funny that the legal system failed so miserably at convicting O.J. Simpson in the murder of his wife and now here he is busted in Vegas and "booked on suspicion of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and burglary" (much easier to just quote the article).

I like to think that this will stick. It is Vegas, after all, and if Ocean's Eleven taught us anything, it's that casino owners will go to hell and back to screw over those that try to screw them over.

Being a Chicagoan, I, of course, liken this to how Eliot Ness finally managed to bring Al Capone to justice. Not on any of the charges you might expect, but on income tax evasion (I almost typed "invasion"; how would one manage "income tax invasion"?). We can't get O.J. on murder, but we get him for all this Vegas tripe.

Well, whatever it takes to get his worthless ass rotting behind bars, I suppose.

TiVo
Hilly started a fun little DVR survey on Snackie Teevee. Go check it out!


Open up your mouth and feed it...

I'm not a vegetarian, although I once considered making the jump for health reasons. But I do know several vegetarians such as Dave and Kilax and, let me tell you, they're the best kind of vegetarians because they do not try to force their views upon you. If you go out with them and you want to eat meat, they're not going to look down their nose at you or try to talk you out of it. They just eat their vegetarian friendly meal while you eat your carnivortastic delicacies. That's how they roll. And I respect them for it.

Then there's this douche bag, Dave Warwak, who is, for now anyway, an art teacher at Fox River Grove Middle School in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago. In January, he decided to become a hardline vegan and preached animal rights as well as distributed books (to his art students) about how an animal friendly diet can save the world. He became so militant, in fact, that administrators removed him from his job.

This week, in a meeting with district officials, Warwak was given two choices: keep going down the path he's been following or apologize for what he did and be allowed to return to his job. He chose the former, not the latter. He says he will not return to work until school officials remove all meat and dairy products from the school cafeteria menu. He has even indicated an interest in suing the school district for child endangerment because they promote these products as part of a healthy diet.

Say whaaaaaa??

What kind of whack job is this guy? I can understand that he believes that meat and dairy are bad for you and that he can actively pursue a lifestyle that is free of those dietary options. It's his choice and I respect his right to make that decision.

But, the second he starts to force these views down the throats (pun fully intended) of his students, their parents, and school board officials, he has become no better than some religious quack who publicly espouses that their god is the only god and anyone who believes anything else will burn in Hell.

Warwak (or should I spell it War-whack?), your job is teach art. If you cannot do it, get the hell out.

[Thank you to Chicagoist for the update]

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Ohhhh, me likey! This is the new Wii Zapper gun controller for the Nintendo Wii. Notice the Wiimote snapped in the top of the barrel and the Nunchuck controller in the handle.

Wiizapper

Now all we need is a really swank new version of Duck Hunt. Or maybe Warwak Hunt!

Okay, so this TUA wasn't totally unrelated. Heh.


Baby don't hurt me...

Normally, I'd think that a person's license plate is private. In some cases, where it might be damning, I'd block it out of a picture or eliminate references to it in a post. But, clearly, this guy is advertising himself, not in a good way, and, therefore, I feel justified in telling you this story... complete with license plate.

Katie and I were driving to meet my bro and SiL yesterday and we came upon a Pontiac Solstice with the license plate SCOT ROX on the back. It was a convertible with the top down and a scripted "Solstice" insignia emblazoned on the plexi shield between the driver and passenger seats to hammer the point home in case we didn't pay attention to the name of the car the first time.

As soon as I saw the license plate, I knew this guy was going to be a tool. Even without seeing him I felt I could make this judgment call. It's like how we all knew Chris' (Elisabeth Shue's) boyfriend in Adventures in Babysitting was a prick just by hearing Darryl relate how his (Bradley Whitford of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, btw) license plate read "SO COOL." It was just one of those things you could tell without further evidence.

Thankfully, we were right. We pulled up alongside him and saw the guy with his wavy hair that never budged a millimeter despite being in a convertible and his big, dark sunglasses behind which I'm sure he would check out women that pulled up next to him. And he was bopping his head around almost imperceptibly to music unheard.

RoxburyKatie and I started cracking up.

Then we pulled to a stop beside him and heard the music. It was horrible, mid-90s, club music. Just really bad shit. All Katie and I could do was bust out in a perfectly sync'd up medley of "Nnnnh-chuh-nnnnh-chuh" and "woah-o-o-oah-oah-ah" and bop our heads like Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury. Score!

It was just sad.

Dude, the 90s called... they want their hair and music back.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): As would be expected, Katie started feeling ill this weekend as well. So we tried to lay low as much as possible. And what did we do? We purchased, started, and finished the season three DVD set of The Office. God we can't wait for the next season to start. Bring it on!


Where I will annoy you... until you decide to wake up...

Hey all, sorry about the long weekend of no posting. But it felt kinda nice, so you won't really hear me complaining. However, it's weird to be here blogging again. It feels as though it's been nearly a month since I've posted. My fingers are even rusty when it comes to remembering how to type. Thank God for the delete key. Heh.

Another thing I had trouble getting reacquainted with was my alarm clock. Yeah, I remembered to set it, but this morning was like one of those days where you're using an alarm clock that you're not accustomed to. My brain worries that it won't sound at the right time, or the volume is turned down, or I set it for PM instead of AM. That sort of garbage. As a result, I woke up more than an hour in advance of my preset just to make sure I was up in time. I had a lot of trouble falling back asleep, as well. So I sat there and thought about what to blog. How sad is that?

Speaking of strange wake-up calls, I had one of those yesterday morning. Katie's been dying for me to finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, as you know, so she can talk to me about it. Well, on Saturday night, I made it to the next-to-last chapter before I decided I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer.

The next morning, she crawls out of bed for a bathroom trip. Usually, when these happen, she just crawls back in bed. If you were to watch her, you'd swear she wouldn't even make it back up on the mattress and might just fall on the ground and start sawing logs.

Not yesterday.

She, instead, comes bounding out of the bathroom and jumps on top of me and shakes me awake like a child on Christmas morning. "TIME TO READ! TIME TO READ!" You've gotta be kidding me.

Well, I finished it. It was good. Not the best book of the bunch, but I did enjoy the second half much more than the first half. I do have a few questions that went unanswered, but I can deal with it. And I only got misty-eyed once. Just once. And not when you might have expected it.

One final wake-up call for the weekend... well, more like a rude awakening, I suppose. Katie and I went to the Northern Illinois vs. Iowa football game on Saturday at Soldier Field in Chicago. This was a home game for the Huskies of NIU even though it wasn't played on their home turf.

First, here's a quick geography lesson...

We, the Huskies, have a much shorter drive. And, while I realize that Iowa, being a Big 10 team has a larger fan base than the Huskies do, I really don't like witnessing a stadium filled with nearly 80% raving, yellow-clad beakheads when WE ARE THE HOME TEAM!

Huskie fans should be ashamed. That's all I have to say.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I have made Metalmomma smile! She says it was my Lyrical Challenge post about my shop class incident in middle school. Well, I'm glad it made you smile, but I'm truly afraid of what I'm going to have to do to elevate that smile to outright laughter. Severing a limb entirely is really pushing it, don't you think?

Smileaward1_2 But, anyway, she gave me an award for it. My first blogging award ever!

Since I cannot find the origination of this award, I'm just going to do what Metalmomma did and hand it out to a few random people that I feel deserve it. This is not to say that you all don't deserve one of these puppies, but here are a few I'd like to point out for recent posts.

August at Girl on the Run... she could use a good smile in light of recent events and she's always made me smile in the past, so I'm returning the favor.

Brandon at Down With Pants!... his blog is very much like mine, completely disjointed and all over the place and we like it! Plus, he's secure enough in his heterosexuality to admit when a guy is good looking enough to make him potentially go gay. BTW, mine is Chris Isaak.

Sandra at Internal Monoblog... apparently something's got her real happy these days, and it's rubbing off. Damn you!

Michelle at This Fare City... who knew driving a cab could be so much fun and blog worthy? I wonder if any of her fares have found her blog and thought, "Hey, that asshole is me!"

Greg at What Greg Likes... I love his taste in music and have followed up on several albums he has recommended, although my credit card probably hates him right about now.


No more tears...

About two months ago, Katie started re-reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (book five). Her reasoning was that it had been four years since she read it and she wanted to know what was going on before we saw the movie together this summer.

Her plan expanded as she decided to re-read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (book six). The plan this time was to refresh her memory on what happened just before book seven so she'd be set and ready to go when the final book came out.

Class got in the way and her reading of book five languished a bit by her standards. She was actually pretty upset with herself for taking so long. Heck, I even went ahead and grabbed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book seven) so I could start reading it thinking that I would be done by the time she got up to speed. Up to that point, she had always read the books first. By most accounts, I'm a faster reader than she is, no question. But when she really gets into something, she flies. This time, though, I had a feeling I would be able to pull this off; to finish book seven before she caught up and, that way, I'd be able to talk with her about it as she progressed through chapters.

In the end, it was my plan that backfired.

Katie finished her class and tore through the remainder of book five... and book six... and then she grabbed the copy of book seven, sitting on the floor next to my nightstand, yet another victim in a line of about six books that had stacked up over the last few months that I had started reading but had no motivation to finish.

Two days later -- yesterday, in fact -- she finished it. She had the day off work to make up for working this past Saturday and she used it to finish the book.

And she was a wreck during the final 200 pages. She called me a few times at work to give me updates.

"I've got 200 pages left and I can't believe who just died! I can't tell you who, but it's bad!"

"Only 100 pages left and I can't put it down. Someone else died."

"I just finished. It's so sad. But so good! You have to finish this book so we can talk about it."

Her sadness spilled over into just about everything else yesterday as well. It was quite cute, but I never knew a single human being contained so many tears. I realize we, as humans, are 70% water, but after yesterday, I expected Katie would have shriveled up.

She cried as she read the book. She cried when she finished the book. She cried thinking about finishing the book. She cried on the phone to me. She cried as she described her crying to me. She cried when she announced that she wanted to read it again. She cried during reruns of Friends on TBS and claimed it was due to the level of emotion she was feeling from reading the book.

I love you, hon, but please stop crying.

And I guarantee she'll cry as she reads this post later this morning or tonight. Guarantee it.

I only worry that I won't like the book as much. That I will have been desensitized by her over-emotion and it won't have nearly the effect on me. We shall see. I did grab the book again last night and picked up where I left off. I'm now on about page 380 of 760 or so.

Wish me luck. Me, the suddenly slow reader.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): *lynne* over at Life After Work is running a promotion of sorts. She's currently on trips to Malaysia and Switzerland and offered to send postcards to those who signed up. Well, I signed up and my postcard from Switzerland arrived yesterday. It's a beautiful photo of the Alps and a stream flowing in the foreground. It's just cool to get this sort of stuff from overseas. So thank you, *lynne*! And I included the asterisks. Aren't you proud of me?


She says she's babysitting tonight...

Just a few snippets real quick. I swear! Real quick! I have to get to the gym anyway...

Babysitting
Yeah, so I'm babysitting for my friend B's two kids. Heh. I plan to have these kids snickering like Beavis & Butt-head by the time their parents get home. Muahahahahahahahahahaha.

I wonder how else I can corrupt them. Oooohhh... I'll teach them how to blog!!

Death
While it took a little while to hit its stride and it did take advantage of some pretty standard comedy cliches, Death at a Funeral was pretty good. By the end I was laughing out loud. But, then again, lots of things -- even rehashed jokes -- are funny with a British accent. Sorry, Bec, but it's true. I will admit that Alan Tudyk was hilarious. I wouldn't have expected any less from Wash/Pirate Steve anyway.

Harry
Earlier this week, Katie and I saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on the local IMAX screen. I gotta admit I'm starting to dig seeing some wide release films on IMAX. And 20 minutes of it near the end were in 3D. That was fun! I haven't seen a decent 3D film in years. Decent meaning that it wasn't necessarily intended to be that way so the actors aren't making lots of awkward movements meant to take advantage of the technology.

Flash
I've learned a lesson today, one that I hope you will heed as well. When Dave says something sucks, it sucks. No really, it sucks. Don't be like me... don't go and watch the SciFi Channel's Flash Gordon anyway just to find out for yourself.

Will you ever forgive my insubordination, Dave?


Somebody help me, yeah...

As much as we all might like to admit that we are our own person and as much as the thought of being even remotely like our parents feels like a hand reaching through our stomach, grabbing hold of our guts, and then twisting, you kinda gotta admit that it's true to some degree.

Yeah, I said it, I am like my parents... but only to some degree... not entirely... but still...

AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

For example, it seems like I'm receiving, with increasing and alarming regularity, comments about how similar my dad and I look. That disturbs me because I just don't see it. Or maybe I just don't want to see it. Not sure. But if several people are saying it seemingly independently of one another, then, I suppose, there is a little truth to it.

Then there are the smaller, less noticeable ways in which I resemble my parents.

Movies: My mom and I have a habit of mentally rewriting the endings of movies. We also have relatively similar tastes in movies. Independent and foreign films do not scare us at all. My dad on the other hand...

Music: I developed a love of Elvis, The Beatles, Kenny Rogers, Air Supply, and Lionel Richie because my parents played nothing but that in the car when I was a kid. Hell, I even foster a guilty love of all things Bee Gees. Oh yeah, and I have a love of musical theater thanks to my mom, as well.

Books: I love to read thanks to my mom. However, my Dad and brother have trouble committing to anything that is not a technical manual for work. If it's a "fun read," it either has to be on tape/CD or have a lot of brightly colored pictures to distract them from the words.

Health: My dad and I both had hernia surgeries and both have chronically bad lower backs. Oh yeah, we're both blind as bats. Thanks a lot, dad.

Food: My dad and I also believe fungus that takes the shape of mushrooms is not meant for human consumption. I love eating vegetables and have since I was a young child, though, thanks to my mom. One odd difference between my parents and I is that they like a lot of red in their cooked meat. Me? I need it dead. There will be no mooing from any cow that I eat. I know people scowl at the idea of overcooking meat; but if I don't, I become physically ill. I nearly became a vegetarian in college, I would get that sick.

I started thinking about this as I was wandering the grocery aisles at Meijer's the other day with Katie. Suddenly, I discovered I was having cravings for things I hadn't thought about eating in years. And the only reason I could come up with was that it was because they were tastes I had developed from my parents. Things like braunschweiger and cottage cheese with cinnamon. Of course, I bought both immediately, shocking Katie entirely.

Are these tendencies cause for concern?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Tomorrow, I will be alone. Katie is going to take part in a girls' night with friends and relatives and I have nobody to hang out with (thanks a pantload, Scotty). So I'm going to check out a movie. Maybe two. And I need your help deciding what I see. This is my chance to see movies that Katie would not necessarily be so keen on seeing with me. The choices are:

I was hoping to add Sunshine to the list, but apparently it's gone from theaters. Bummer.

I am giving you all until tomorrow at 5 p.m. to vote on this. Choose wisely. My evening depends on you!


I'm all shook up...

EPA
So how much palm greasing do you reckon is going on with the EPA these days?

All they typically do is bitch and moan and whine and gripe about the travesties committed by man against the earth; more specifically, big business. It can be the smallest thing that sets them off, too. I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Someone needs to stand up for our planet. But at least be consistent about it. Don't go citing some factories for releasing too much soot into the air a mere couple days after signing off on BP Amoco's plan to release more sludge and ammonia into Lake Michigan... Chicagoland's primary source of drinking water. Which, by the way, is connected to the other Great Lakes as well as, via a two river connector, to the Mississippi River and, thus, the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. So, if BP Amoco's refinery were to have an accident -- which isn't completely out of the realm of possibility -- a vast majority of the planet's water supply would be screwed, even if only to a minor degree.

Complete and utter bullshit. That's what I've got to say about it.

Please, if you have a choice between BP and another gas station, go with the other choice. I'm not asking to start one of those "Don't Fuel Your Car" days or anything because we all know they're crap. But just slowly whittle away at the giant that is BP Amoco to make them pay for wanting to pollute our water supply. A Chicago Alderman seems willing to do what he can (this may require a username and password; if so, e-mail me and I'll hook you up).

ElvispezKing
Usually you celebrate the big birthdays of deceased celebrities. For example, if this were the year that Frank Sinatra would turn 90, you celebrate. Elvis fans, however, seem to be having a lot of fun with the fact that this year marks the 30th anniversary of his "death."

ElvisbubbahotepCorporations are jumping in on the fun as well. Reese's has released a "King Size" peanut butter and banana cup as well as Beanie Baby styled bears in orange and brown. Pez put out a special tin box of three Elvis dispensers (at right) from three different stages of his life (young and stylin', militarized and stylin', and old and bloaty). The set also comes with a special edition greatest hits CD, but, sadly, no jumbo-sized candy for the old and bloaty dispenser.

But the best, so far, is one that I saw yesterday afternoon at Best Buy while buying my copy of Flash Gordon (yes, I bought it, what did you expect?). It was a special edition of Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep starring Bruce Campbell (Ash from Evil Dead and Sam from Burn Notice). Amazon calls it the "Hail to the King" edition, although I never recall seeing that name on the outer package and that's a line from Army of Darkness. The packaging is one of Elvis' white jumpsuit jackets. Too cool.

Flash
Speaking of Flash Gordon, the DVD I picked up yesterday had a cool little insert with it... an Alex Ross designed "recruitment poster" of sorts with Ming the Merciless looking back at you and the words "Ming Wants You" like the old Uncle Sam posters. I think I'm framing it and hanging it at work.

Foo
It's always a good day when an e-mail arrives from the iTunes Store to let me know of the pending release of a new album from an artist I like. Check that... an artist I love! In a totally hetero way, of course.

It's the Foo Fighters with their new album Echos, Silence, Patience & Grace and it comes out September 25. But, if you pre-order now, you get the single "The Pretender" right now. If this first song is any indication, the album will be fantastic.

Zodiac
I hate when this happens. I totally get into a movie, like I was with Zodiac last night, and it starts to crap out on me. Normally this can be solved by simply ejecting the DVD, wiping it clean, and then starting it back up again. Alas, not this time. This disc had a deep gouge near the outer edge keeping it from playing at all.

Dammit! I hate this. And now I'm going to have to start from the beginning just to remind myself of what happened up to this point by the time the replacement arrives from Netflix. This is not some short movie, either. I was a little more than an hour into what amounts to a two hour, 45 minute film. Gah!


Flash! Ahhhhhhh...

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother to blog. Seriously, what's the point of trying to figure out what I want to write each day when I have material like what Katie gives me on a daily basis?

Her latest occurred last night while checking out the Sunday paper. Admittedly, our perusal of the newsprint is a day late, but oh well. We've been looking for new checks because we're running low and we're decidedly old school... we don't do any banking online save for checking our account balance and making sure payments clear. We pay no bills online because of the many horror stories we've read about auto bill pay double dipping and overbilling and other things that would piss me off to have to waste the time to correct. So we just don't bother. This leaves us with paper checks. And we're running low.

So Katie was checking out those little coupon section inserts to see if she could find any checks we liked. That's when she found this little gem (the checks look the same as this check book cover)...

Catscratch

And her reaction? "Oh yeah, because I wanna pay bills with a check that shows a cat scratching itself!"

Again, why do I bother? I should just start a blog dedicated to Katie Quotables and call it a day.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Ah! My childhood comes screaming back to me! And with some really boss Alex Ross cover art to boot!

Flashgordon

Not exactly sure yet what constitutes this being dubbed the "Saviour of the Universe Edition," but I'm getting it anyway!

Oh Christ. I just used the word "boss," didn't I? How 80s am I?


Zoom, zoom, zoom...

Again, although this may seem like an NFL-related post, it does transcend the football base in which it is steeped. Maybe not quite as far reaching implications as my sideline photographer post, but still and all the same.

Nike Corporation
One Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005
attn: Marketing and Promotions Department

To Whom it May Concern:

I understand you have a new product in your Nike Zoom line and, as such, you have a desire to market it in the most effective way possible. Being Nike, a good way to do this is to imply speed. Due to this rationale, I completely understand why you would choose LaDainian Tomlinson, running back for the San Diego Chargers and the NFL's top rusher in 2006, as your spokesman. Who better than one of the fastest and most effective runners in the NFL to carry your new line of Zoom products to the top, right? And who better to show him running against than one of the most brutal defenses in the NFL?

And you even came up with a very well-shot commercial to illustrate this point...

However, as someone who is employed in a marketing and promotions capacity as a working-world professional, I must question the mindset of those behind this commercial.

Your goal is to maximize the number of people who respond positively to this commercial so you should be trying to not offend current or potential customers.

So why in the name of all that's holy would you air a commercial in Chicagoland featuring some guy juking out each member of and then scoring against OUR HOME TEAM, THE CHICAGO BEARS???

Whose head was up whose ass when you decided the best way to get through to the Chicago market -- the third largest city with one of the largest suburban constituencies in the United States -- was by showing Tomlinson beat up our home team's defense? The defense that made it to the Super Bowl last year while LaDainian and his Chargers did not. Yeah, we lost, but that's another point altogether. At least we were there.

Admittedly, not everyone in Chicago is a Bears fan. There are pockets of Indy fans down in the southeast, some St. Louis fans in the southwest, and, God forbid, some Green Bay fans in the north (allowing them to live here is simply a charitable act by very forgiving people). But a good 90% of Chicago-based NFL fans are, in fact, Bears fans. Don't ask where that statistic came from, just accept it.

In closing, I'd like to say that you should think before you distribute your commercials next time. Yeah, no matter what, we'd still see it thanks to the wonder that is the Web and, more specifically, YouTube. But at least it wouldn't seem so brazen.

Sincerely,

Kevin "Quite Content with my New Balance Shoes, Thank You Very Much" Apgar


They say, 'why are you dressed like it's halloween?'...

I saw this last night on TV and all I could think was "why?"

Yeah, I know many of you love Rob Zombie regardless of what he does, be it music or movies. I like his music a lot, too, but cannot say that I've seen either of the films he has directed so far -- House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.

But Halloween?

As they say near the end of the trailer, "This August, Rob Zombie unleashes an extreme vision of terror and reinvents a legend." That's just it. The original is a legend to this day. Did it really need to be redone?

C'mon, Rob.


I am aiming to be somebody...

In a world where actors and musicians regularly come of as pampered, over-privileged pricks, it's really nice to see something like this happen.

This past Saturday, Katie and I, along with others, hit up our second and final Rocco DeLuca and the Burden concert. This one was set to take place in Naper Settlement in Naperville, IL.

A day or two before the show, I read a newspaper article detailing that Rocco and the guys would be playing a small pre-show set at Millennium Amphitheater along the Riverwalk. If you've never been to Naperville, Riverwalk is just that, a really gorgeous walkway that borders either side of the DuPage River. Think San Antonio's riverwalk. There are several little public gathering areas and parks along the multiple miles that constitute the Riverwalk. It's truly pretty.

So when we heard that Rocco would be playing there, we were all over it. We got down there with Katie's brother, Scott, and his girlfriend, B. Scott and I headed out to the car to run to Best Buy to pick up a copy of the CD for signing. As we were walking to the car, coming the opposite direction were Rocco, et al. They were just out and about, getting a feel for the town. I said hi, they said hi back.

After the four-song set, which was truly fantastic, we got in line to have the guys autograph the CD. This was when Katie remembered she still had her ticket stub for last week's show at House of Blues in her purse. She grabbed it and we asked the guys to sign it as well. I think they were more shocked than anything that someone was at their show last week as well as both (the acoustic and the main show) that day. But they happily signed it and took pictures with the girls.

About an hour later, we were walking around passing time when we happened to see the band, yet again, and they remembered us. Bret "Bix" Bixby, the fifth man in the band, actually said, "hello again!" before we said a thing.

The courtesy wasn't limited to just RDB, the two opening acts, Sara Bareilles (whose debut album, Little Voice, scored a well-deserved three out of four star rating in People magazine last week) and The Last Goodnight both went above and beyond in terms of meeting and greeting with fans after their sets. I was discussing future singles with Sara and walking around the grounds with Kurtis John, the lead singer of The Last Goodnight, as we plotted ways to embarrass my sister-in-law for her birthday (she thought he was cute and I had to take advantage of that and Kurtis was willing to help).

I know it behooves up-and-coming artists to cater to fans and their seemingly stupid and endless stream of requests, but they all really were great to us and the rest of the fans and I hope that, as their fame grows, they don't forget that humbleness that endeared them to us this past weekend.

By the way, both Sara Bareilles and The Last Goodnight put on great shows. If you're a fan of Tori Amos, I recommend giving Sara a listen, and if you dig on Maroon 5, try The Last Goodnight.