Entertainment 2008

You say, I like what you say...

Since Katie and I don't always see eye to eye on music (I listen to "weird stuff she's never heard of"), I will take on a new guest host for the Best Albums and Best Singles of the Year awards... Lilly! Yep, we've got her from now through pretty much all of January while my SiL is in California visiting her family and my bro is on business, well, everywhere.

This is actually one of the easiest lists in which to find candidates as I simply look for "2008" in the Year column in iTunes, but paring it down was so difficult that, this year, I had to make this my final list so I had, at the very least, semi-adequate time to re-listen to all of it. Plus I'm far more passionate about music than I am television or movies, so I feel the need to give the art its deserved due.

Note: All the links below are to iTunes. If you have iTunes, click on them and you can listen to the 30-second sample. You are not locked into buying it by clicking the link. Really.

Anyway, here are my Best Albums of the Year starting at 10 and moving down to numero uno:

Portishead, Third - Portishead - Third
I have always loved Portishead's ridiculously ethereal sound and it's nice to have them back after an eleven year absence. Yeah, much better to have them back than Axl Rose. Sorry Axl. Portishead is one of those bands that you just lay back with all the lights turned off and let the music create your environment. Yeah, that's how good it is. I recommend "The Rip."

Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch
Sounds like an alt metal band, doesn't it? Good thing I read about this project in Rolling Stone or I might never have known that this is, in fact, Tom Petty. Years before the Heartbreakers, he had a bluegrassy band called Mudcrutch. They never released a single album. However, one or two Mudcrutchers moved on with him to the Heartbreakers, but he never forgot his other pals and they all got back together last year for an album. A damn fine album. The first Tom Petty album in years that I've dug wholly. I recommend "Lover of the Bayou."

Duffy, Rockferry - Duffy - Rockferry
Last year, Amy Winehouse made us love a more jazzy style tune. Then her pervasive exposure in tabloids made us hate her. Luckily we now have the similar, but slightly more sophisticated Duffy jumping in on the scene. And I'm thankful as I love that Winehouse sound but can do without ever actually seeing her freak self again. I recommend "Mercy."

Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman - Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman (Bonus Track Version)
I will make this review as simple as possible... any artist that can make me unabashedly want to shake my ass anytime I listen to him/her perform regardless of where I might be deserves a "Best of" ranking. 'nuff said. Oh, and this has such a great early 80s Michael Jackson vibe to it that I love it. Okay, so it wasn't truly 'nuff said. Now though. I recommend "Closer."

Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
I love everything Death Cab does and I preorder it with no reservations whatsoever. Albums like Narrow Stairs reaffirm what little faith I have in the recording industry since a vast majority of what they put on the market is sheer crap. So, thank God somebody took notice of Death Cab and signed them and allow them to record music on their own terms. I recommend "Cath..."

R.E.M., Accelerate - R.E.M. - Accelerate
I was admittedly a bit scared when I heard that R.E.M. was releasing another album. It's been quite some time since they've truly moved me and for good reason... can you remember their last good album? It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, this one knocked me out and I've listened to it repeatedly throughout the year. I recommend "Supernatural Superserious."

Nada Surf, Lucky - Nada Surf - Lucky
I really have no idea how I got into Nada Surf. Before I started listening to them, I knew of nobody that I personally knew who was a fan or had ever really heard of them. But I've been a fan for quite some time now and was ecstatic when the iTunes New Music Tuesday podcast reported the release of this album. Happy days for the Kapgar! I recommend "Weightless."

Amos Lee, Last Days at the Lodge - Amos Lee - Last Days At the Lodge
I've said enough about Amos lately so I won't subject you to anymore. But I love it. I recommend "Listen."

Coldplay, Viva la Vida - Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Frontman Chris Martin reported that he was feeling stagnant after the first three albums that he and the guys in Coldplay had released. That they'd gotten in the proverbial "rut." So they hired new producers and put out one of the best albums I've ever heard from them. Not everybody is as keen about the shift in their sound. It's not quite so dramatic as some bands changing their sound, but it's noticeable to longtime fans. I like it. I recommend "Violet Hill."

Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Ah, my lovely red-haired songstress. I don't know what it is that I love so much about your voice, but it grabs me and won't let go. Damn you. So why does Jenny feel the need to record aside from her band, Rilo Kiley? Well, her solo stuff, save for an errant song or two, is not nearly as uptempo as what she records with her band. Plus she gets to bring in cool guest artists like Elvis Costello. I recommend "Carpetbaggers" with Elvis.

And now for my Best Singles of the Year list. No explanation, just a list. And not in order of favoritism, simply alphabetical. Why 21? I dunno. It was 25 and I pared it down a little bit, but it's at least still legal. 

  1. Chris Brown "Forever"
  2. Chester French "She Loves Everybody"
  3. Coldplay "Viva la Vida"
  4. Death Cab for Cutie "I Will Possess Your Heart"
  5. Fall Out Boy with John Mayer "Beat It"
  6. John Legend with Andre 3000 "Green Light"
  7. Amos Lee "Listen"
  8. Jenny Lewis "Godspeed"
  9. The Killers "Human"
  10. The Kills "Cheap and Cheerful"
  11. Nada Surf "I Like What You Say"
  12. Ne-Yo "Closer"
  13. Nine Inch Nails "Discipline"
  14. Portishead "Machine Gun"
  15. R.E.M. "Supernatural Superserious"
  16. The Raconteurs "Salute Your Solution"
  17. Tokyo Police Club "Tessellate"
  18. Vampire Weekend "A-Punk"
  19. Volumen Cero "El Mar"
  20. Weezer "Pork and Beans"
  21. Kanye West "Love Lockdown" - Not as good as the Letterman live version, but still worthy.

Damn, there was a lot of good music this year.

Happy New Year, everyone!


I'm a joker, I'm a smoker, I'm a midnight toker...

One of the biggest difficulties with me doing top ten lists is that sometimes, as in the case of last year's top albums list, I feel the need to list more than 10. On the flip side of the coin, there are times when I cannot even come up with a full list of ten things for a list.

Such is the case with this year's Top Movies of the Year list. Should be 10, but it will wind up being a top six.

Huh? Why six?

Simply put, because we can't find 10 and we couldn't cut it down to five. And it's not as though we didn't see a lot of movies. After sifting through the list on Wikipedia, I discovered that we've seen 37 movies either in theaters or on DVD. Actually, I've seen 37, Katie has seen 34 (I saw 10,000 BC, In Bruges, and The Strangers on DVD, which Katie did not watch with me). And, despite this whopper of a list, I still can't come up with 10. Weirdness.

But, first, as usual, I'm going to list out the movies we still want to watch that could have the potential of making this list had they either come out on DVD in time or if we'd gotten off our butts to see them in theaters:

  • Bottle Shock
  • Flash of Genius
  • Pineapple Express
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
  • Slumdog Millionaire
  • Milk
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Doubt
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Revolutionary Road
  • Last Chance Harvey

Okay, now on to my Top Six in reverse order:

  • Nothing Like the Holidays - my earlier review (down in the TUA)
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall - I guess I never reviewed it, but I love this movie and have watched it about a half dozen times with absolutely no drop off in my enjoyment of it whatsoever. Jason Segel? Great. Mila Kunis? Shockingly fantastic. If you haven't seen it, rent it, now. No, check that, buy it!
  • WALL*E - Admittedly, I'm a sucker for Pixar films. And one about a robot in love that basically tells the whole story through visuals with little to no actual speech at all? Wow.
  • La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon) - my earlier review
  • The Dark Knight - looks like the extent of my review is in the TUA, so I'll add that while I LOVED Heath Ledger as Joker (I still think he deserves an Oscar), the reason this wasn't my top film was because I got a bit annoyed by Christian Bale's raspy Batman voice. I know he's trying to hide his identity, but damn.
  • Iron Man - even moreso than my sucker factor for Pixar is my sucker factor for Robert Downey, Jr. He's one of those guys that, even though he's a lifelong screw up, you just pull for because he's got this likable quality to him. Oh, and he's a fantastic actor regardless of what he's snorting at a given time. Well, he's a few years clean now and his career is so decidedly on track it's ridiculous. And Iron Man is simply one of the greatest superhero flicks I've ever seen.

If you're interested in a fellow blogger's top movie list, check out Avitable's list.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): After being burned twice now, you'd think Oprah might drop her book club entirely. Oh and that the book industry would either start to actually fact check their authors' writings or drop the "memoir" genre in favor of one called "good stories that you'd like to believe could be true."


Man came by to hook up my cable TV...

Here I am coming at you with my first year-end "Best of" list and this first one will be dedicated to the fine art of small-screen production... the television awards.

When I've done television awards in the past, they usually occured around the end of the traditional TV season and I would call them the Primetime TV Kappy Awards (2007 | 2006). Katie and I would work together to come up with winners in several categories and provide witty banter justifying our picks.

However, since the timing of the awards is changing, so is the format. This year, we've cut down the number of awards mostly by eliminating the distinction between rookie and veteran as well as actor and actress. We've also cut out the banter. Katie and I were discussing this on the road and didn't feel like recording our discussions, especially since they weren't nearly as funny as in the past. I guess we're still a little bitter about some show cancellations and a few others that are being thrown around.

So, without further ado, here are the Primetime TV Kappy Awards for 2008!

Acting Awards:

  • Best Dramatic Acting - Jon Hamm, "Don Draper," Mad Men although I also really like Harvey Keitel as "Lt. Gene Hunt" on Life on Mars (why can't I find the British version on Netflix?).
  • Best Comedic Acting - Neil Patrick Harris, "Barney Stinson," How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Dramatic 1-2 Punch (although, together, they are arguably quite comedic as well) - G.W. Bailey and Tony Denison, "Lieutenants Provenza and Flynn," The Closer
  • Best Comedic 1-2 Punch - Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, "Penny and Sheldon," The Big Bang Theory
  • Best Dramatic Ensemble - (tie) Criminal Minds and The Closer
  • Best Comedic Ensemble - The Office
  • Best Comeback Role (after being away from a significant TV role for a while) - (tie) Benjamin Bratt, "William Banks," The Cleaner and Chi McBride, "Emerson Cod," Pushing Daisies
  • Best Recurring Guest Role - Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen, "Clay and Willie Ray Johnson," The Closer
  • Best One-Off Guest Role - Wil Wheaton, "Floyd Hansen," Criminal Minds
  • Dark Alley Award (not that this should need an explanation, but it's the person you'd least like to meet in a dark alley) - Michael C. Hall, "Dexter Morgan," Dexter although a close second would go to Adam Baldwin as "John Kasey" in Chuck.

Show Awards:

  • Best Drama - Mad Men
  • Best Comedy - How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Show Canceled Too Soon - (tie) Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone
  • Biggest Drop-Off in Quality - Ugly Betty, is anybody else tired of how condescending Betty is becoming? If it weren't for the spectacular supporting cast, I'd probably have given up on this show already.
  • Most Overstayed Welcome - My Name is Earl
  • Lost in Left Field (a show that has lost its way and needs some guidance, or major restructuring) - Grey's Anatomy, the Denny ghost lovin' thing? Blech!

Network Awards:

  • Best Network - any extended cable network with cool original programming like USA, TNT, TBS, and AMC.
  • Worst Network - ABC, for killing some shows too soon and giving too much of a lifeline to others.

Bear in mind, these are based on the shows that Katie and I watch. And, while we watch a lot of shows, it's a small percentage of what's available. So let us know how you would amend these awards.

IHomeih9 Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie received one of these iHome iH9 iPod alarm clocks from my bro and SiL for Christmas. It's pretty cool and she was stoked to finally be able to listen to some real music as her alarm as opposed to the crappy reception we get from the AM/FM radio in our current alarm clock.

Last night, though, we discovered a little glitch. After setting her alarm, it would make this little beep every so often and we'd see the alarm icon turn off and then turn back on. It didn't dawn on me until several minutes later that the on/off switching was happening as I was fast forwarding or hitting the flashback rewind or pause buttons on our TiVo remote. Yeah, it would seem the iHome clock radio and our TiVo share a frequency.

I think we're going to have to be much more attentive when we go to bed at night to make sure her alarm is still on.


Have a drink on me...

Well, this was supposed to be a week of 5Q posts, but I only received two sets of questions. No biggie, though. Just had to whip the mice in my brain-like contraption into some semblance of working order to juice a couple posts out of them.

Quick question for all of you, have you ever reconnected with someone with whom you lost touch only to feel significantly inferior to the success they've had. It can be any way by which you personally define "success" -- financial, spiritual, emotional, etc.

I just reconnected via Facebook with someone I was friends with years ago. In the short time we knew each other, we became pretty decent friends. But as many things go when you graduate high school and leave town, you lose touch. It happens. Shouldn't, but it does.

MartiniAnyway, he found me and we started talking. I asked what he's been doing with his life. He's got a degree in business that he followed up a couple years later with an MBA and works as an IT project team leader. That's cool. But what blew my mind was when he told me that he, a buddy, and a third partner bought a building and converted it into a martini bar. They own a second building as well that they rent to tenants.

 

Dude, a martini bar??? Rock on, Star Child! That sort of thing would be so much fun. I realize that bars are a big hassle and take up a lot of time and have a lot of overhead, liability, and whatnot. Believe you me, I've talked to enough current and former bar owners to know this. But it would still be pretty cool.

So, yeah, color me envious.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Only three of you so far? I say "music" and "free" and I only get interest from three people? Sure, it's not some big, elaborate, expensive prize. Hell, it's not even really a contest; just a giveaway. But it's free! My second favorite four-letter word beginning with "F."

You have until Monday.


Bought it at the five and dime...

Considering my motivation to come up with original topics still seems to be using the bitterly cold Illinois weather as a justification for hybernation, I'm going to answer another 5Q challenge.

This one comes from my old bloggy friend, SJ. Since I know she's going to guilt me for my use of that word, I suppose I should qualify and say that I mean "old" only in that she's one of the first people I met in the blogosphere. Literally. She was my first commenter upon moving to Typepad, I believe. Wow, feels so long ago! Heh. Oh yeah, here's her 5Q.

So here you go...

1. When are you and Katie going to start making little Apgars?
Soon. Aligning stars be damned.

2. Who does your mom like better, you or Brian, and why (speculate if you don't know)?
Me. Duh. Everyone knows that. I'm the first born. Brian was the accident. Nobody has told him this yet. But he was. They were done after me. My parents knew they couldn't improve upon the perfection that is me so they weren't even going to bother. But, things happen. That "thing" being my brother. C'est la vie.

3. Why is your beloved grandmother nicknamed after an electronic device?
I think this question is misworded. It should read, why is an electronic device named after my grandmother. And the answer to that is because Apple needed something catchy and cool to market their product. They looked at my blog and saw how wicked cool my grandmother is and how universally loved she is and thought, "what better name to give to what is certain to be one of the wicked coolest and most universally loved electronic devices known to man!" Hence, the iPod Nano!

4. You are named Best Chicago-area Blogger, and offered a choice of prize: a Nikon D700 camera or an Ibanez JSBDG guitar. Which would you choose and why?
Tough question for a couple reasons. One, I did just get my new camera, not a Nikon D700, and I love it with a passion so I really don't need a camera. Two, as much as I love guitars and pine for my old Ibanez EX160, I question how much I would actually play. My attention span is pretty damn short with a lot of things. So I wonder how into playing guitar I would be sometimes. But if I were to just pick right here and now, it would be the JS BDG. That thing is pretty, isn't it?

5. Share with us who the top five people are on your "Bloggers I'd Love To Meet" list, and why.
There are a ton I want to meet, no question. And this is pretty cruel making me pick just five. Can I pick five areas I'd like to travel to, instead, and list the bloggers I want to meet in those areas? No? Fine.

So, in no particular order, and listed because I've been waiting the longest to meet them:

God this list could go on and on forever. I feel really bad answering this one. Please, forgive me if your name is not on here. These people have been on my must-meet list the longest and so many more have been added more recently. Ah hell, I'm gonna get flamed anyway.

If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure you link back to the original post.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I think Katie's and my TV viewing is going to get really easy for a little while. Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone will soon be gone. Life on Mars is on hiatus, with a questionable return status, until the end of January. And there will be no new Chuck until February. What the heck?

It's weird. We dropped a lot of shows from last season either because we lost interest or they were canceled. I'd say we lost about 20-25% of our viewership of TV. That's a lot. And we only picked up on two new shows, Gary Unmarried (it's Jay Mohr... you can't say no to Jay Mohr) and Life on Mars, the latter of which is one only I watch.

So not cool. And the only thing coming up that can fill some time is the long-awaited return of 24. Jack had damn well better be good or I don't know what we're gonna do with ourselves. Oh wait, Psych and Burn Notice are back, aren't they?


I just want to fly...

I'm not sure who resurrected the Five Questions meme of yore, but it's been making the rounds in the blogosphere of late and I thought, oh what the hell, I'll play along... again.

Or maybe I was just too damned lazy to come up with an original post this fine, ugh, Monday morning.

Here are my five questions from the lovely DutchBitch. You can read her responses to someone else's five here. And, SJ, fear not. I'm still willing to answer the five from you. Actually, part of me wants to do a 5Q each day this week save for Snippet Wednesday. That's how unoriginal I'm feeling. So maybe I'll seek out a couple more to cover the extra couple of days this week. Hmm...

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
NOOOOO!!! You can't make me grow up! I refuse to! I'm a Toys'r'us Kid! But if I must choose, I want to be a firefighting space cowboy! Or a crew member on board the Millennium Falcon or Serenity. Too fun! Or maybe a Muppet Wrangler. Is there such a job?

But, if any of my coworkers/boss are reading this... I want to be the best damn Web-dude I can be!

2. What would be your choice for a last meal if you were on death row and why? (Ok, so that is really 2 questions, STFU)
Such foul acronymical language! I don't know if I can continue.

But I shall... it would be Katie's beef stroganoff with a nice bottle of red wine. And if you could time the wine to arrive just before the execution, all the better.

3. If you could travel to Dutchyland today, what would be the first touristic site you would want to visit?
Well, I'd have to find "Dutchyland" on a map first. A search for it in Google Maps only comes up with a suggestion for "Germany." But, when I do find it, I hear one of the most famous tourist sites is DutchBitch Casa. However, the U.S. State Department warns that this could also be a hotbed of questionable shenanigans and a veritable tourist trap... SIGN ME UP!

4. Is that you that just let one rip?
I lit a match. Quit yer whining!

5. Whip or nippleclamps?
Are you talking Indiana Jones or a riding crop? Gator-toothed or straight-edged and rubber-coated? Ya gots to be more specific!

There you have it, my first 5Q. If you want to play along, leave me a comment in which you BEG to be interviewed. I mean it, I want begging.

In your post replying to my questions, link back to the original post of the person asking you the 5Q, which I did above!

You must also put the rules in your post:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me” or email me (addy in sidebar)
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I decided on a whim to go see a movie yesterday. I hadn't seen one since Twilight came out and, to be honest, there isn't much showing right now that screams, "SEE ME!" But I had heard pretty decent reviews of Nothing Like the Holidays with Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Peña, and a bevy of other good actors, so we checked it out.

Simply put, a very enjoyable watch. Basically, it's the story of two generations of a Puerto Rican family (and their close friends) in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Around Christmas, the stars align so that all of them can spend the holidays together at their parents' house (Molina and Peña). The reason why it would be so difficult otherwise is because their eldest son, Mauricio (John Leguizamo), is a lawyer in NYC married to a stock trader (Debra Messing) who doesn't feel she fits in with his family; their daughter, Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), is a struggling actress in Hollywood; and their other son, Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), is just arriving home after three years in Iraq. Everyone in the family has their issues both with each other and with their own station in life and all these issues boil to a head, as many things tend to, during what should be a happy holiday celebration.

It was a very well-acted film with great supporting roles played out by Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, and Melonie Diaz and one that deserves a bit more notice than it's receiving if the $3.5M it made in its first weekend is any indication.

C'mon people, see good movies. Skip that The Day the Earth Stood Still tripe!


How long before you let me go...

Well, it's official, Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money have been nixed by ABC. And not even Ned the pie maker can do anything to revive them. While DSM's cancellation has no effect on me having never watched it before, I am saddened by the death sentences dished out to Daisies and Eli. I love both those shows immensely.

However, unlike most cancellations, Daisies and Eli will be allowed to play out through the 13 episodes that are currently in the can or, at the very least, scripted for production. No new episodes will be ordered.

My question to all of you is whether you will, if you watch any of these shows, continue to watch them through to the end. Before you curse me as nutso or not a real fan, hear me out.

There are two sides to this debate.

On the one side, there are those that will want to watch the shows through to the end. Give them their due. Celebrate their very existence while we still can.

But on the flip side of the coin, there is a very strong probability that there is no way in the name of all that is holy that we, as fans, can ever be happy with how the shows end. That, given the knowledge that the shows are ending and that, at least in the case of Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, there are new projects to worry about (he's moving on to, *ack*, Heroes) and writers may not care about putting their all into the swansong episodes of these dying series. A lot may be left unresolved and I'm scared about how disappointed I may feel by the wrap up and finale episodes.

So what's your take on it all?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Yes, we did see Twilight last night. We did not chicken out. We were not crowded out of seats. And we did not sell our tickets to overzealous tweeners.

Before you continue, there is a potential that some of what I write may constitute a spoiler. Read on at your own risk.

The movie wasn't bad, but was far from great. It was very compressed for sake of time and many scenes were either axed or combined with other scenes as a result. And they made some interesting decisions regarding some key moments in the book such as leaving out the blood testing scene and keeping Bella conscious during the final fight scene.

But our biggest concern was with the characters. Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen was better than either of us expected him to be; we really had our doubts early on. But Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan didn't sell us. And so many of the other characters were so peripheral that they almost didn't need to be there at all and that's sad because they were such strong characters in the book. I think this happened because the filmmakers wanted to focus too much on building the roles of the enemy vampires James (Cam Gigandet), Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre), and Laurent (Edi Gathegi) who never made an appearance in the book until the thunderball scene. In the movie, we got a lot more of them and, consequently it would seem, a lot less of everyone else.

There were a few characters whose casting I thought was pretty spot on considering my vision of them as I read the book. This includes Billy Burke as Bella's father Charlie, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, and Gil Birmingham as Billy Black. All were very good, but also very criminally underused.

The camera work was actually pretty decent and I like the soundtrack music that was used. And, thankfully, the tween girls, while numerous, were not as bad as I was expecting. Sure, they all turned into a bunch of slack-jawed Woo Girls (see the most recent episode of How I Met Your Mother for that reference) when Edward was on screen and the girl sitting in front of Katie began hyperventilating and had to leave the theater during the "shimmering."

In all, though, I'd give it three out of five stars and a willingness to watch it again. With fewer girls around.


And, baby, I'm the walking dead...

Dear Lord,

I pray you grant me the strength to survive tonight. It will be one of the biggest challenges of my life to go into the heart of the lions' den and come out with my wits intact and my hands free of blood from having throttled people who clearly know no better.

I pray you grant me the patience to brush off and hear through the insensitive cooing and sighing and screaming that will no doubt occur at his very first appearance and more than likely every instance thereafter. I can't say I entirely understand their level of love and adulation, so I will need your help to weather the storm.

And I pray you grant me the ability to forgive my wife for buying tickets for the opening night of Twilight. But, like me, you know that she loves those damn books.

In your name I pray.

Amen.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): My head is swimming right now.

Why?

Both Gmail and Typepad have hit me at the same time with all kinds of new features and I'm not sure what to do with myself.

Gmailmountains Gmail now has themes that have been pushed out to a select group of users (I say "select" as opposed to "random" to make myself feel specialer). Now you can pick any one of a few dozen different display themes to make your Gmail experience, I suppose, cooler. Some of them are just strange, some are cool, and some, like the one I chose, could be so much cooler than they are. I chose "mountain" because I live in the wonderfully un-hilly region of northeastern Illinois and desperately miss the mountains that I've seen when visiting Colorado or flying out west. But, while it's a beautiful photo, it needs to fill more of the available screen. Too much of my monitor is covered in the slate grey fill color associated with the theme. I'm sure these themes will improve with time, though.

Typepad Typepad has a whole new blog entry interface. They've been talking about it for what seems like a year now and only now am I finally having it rolled out to me. It has a much better RTF toolbar with greater functionality and more choices. But, key for me is the built-in image editor. Sure, I'm a Photoshopper and will still use this. However, if I happen to be blogging from another computer that doesn't have Photoshop installed, it's nice to know I can still do some basic work to images before posting them. Yeah, there are several online options and I've used them. But their use is so infrequent that I can never remember which one I've used and then have to get accustomed to a whole new control panel for a single image for a blog post. Not fun.

Now, if only I can talk Typepad HQ into implementing an image library so I can easily choose an image to use over and over again. As of now, the image uploader only looks on your computer for new images. Something to work on, Typepad.

BTW, you can click on either of those images to get a full-size version for closer examination.

So it looks like I've got some new toys to play with.


Till her daddy takes the T-bird away-ay-ay...

I was sworn to secrecy.

I couldn't talk about it to family or friends. They might try to influence my outlook.

I couldn't use the Web to do my own personal research. Reporter or blogger bias might bend my views one way or the other.

I couldn't even talk to my fellow jurors. We might start thinking things through and unduly influencing each other before deliberations even begin.

Bummer, right?

Not so! I didn't get chosen for the case so I can talk all I want, baby!

For anybody following my Tweets yesterday, I showed up at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago yesterday to report for jury duty. While there, I looked out the window and saw a ton of TV satellite relay trucks. I asked if anybody knew what was going on and Sheila informed me that Obama and McCain were supposed to be in town talking. I looked into it and found out that, in fact, they were in the building right next door to me. How cool is that? I could feel the power rubbing off on me! And, according to Shiny, my own influence was clearly rubbing off on Barack Obama. Here's the reTweeted proof...

mr_shiny @kapgar RT @BarackObama: "just confirmed... Apgar will be right next door to me. Closest I've ever been to a blogging superstar. Scary...

I'm telling y'all, get aboard the kapgar train now while there's still room. ;-)

Anyway, a bunch of us were called into a courtroom and told how the whole jury selection thing would happen. The judge would ask us a bunch of questions and give us each the opportunity to respond if it pertained to us. Unlike in movies like Runaway Jury, each of us was not really grilled individually. It was a group process. And with 43 of us in there, it was a very long group process. And there were a lot of gaps where we sat on our duffs just waiting on the hard wood benches. There is very little efficiency with regard to time at all.

We went through the first round of questions and went on recess. When we returned, eight of us were let go due to perceived conflicts. Then we went around the room talking about who we were, where we came from, what our jobs were, who comprised our household, what jobs they held, and what our hobbies were. Then it was lunch. For an hour and a half (as I said... efficiency? Non existent.)

When we got back, they picked their 14; 12 primary and two alternate. Going through the list in order by our seats, the 14 were picked before they even got to me. The rest of us were sent home and told we didn't need to report today at all, but still needed to check in for potential service on Wednesday through Friday. Just when you think you're free, they suck you back in!

I was kinda hoping to get in on this case. It was a federal drug possession and trafficking case. Meth, no less. How much fun would that have been? DEA. FBI. Chicago Police. Phoenix Police. Fun, fun, fun!

But I wasn't chosen. Dammit. My T-bird was taken away.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Do any of you watch The Big Bang Theory (yes, I know you hate it, Avitable ;-) ). Well, Katie and I love it and crack up repeatedly watching it. She likes it because she relates to the science and math aspects while I can relate to the general geekery. And watching Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons verbally spar each other is fantastic fun.

Last night's episode was awesome! They did a whole sequence tearing apart both the newer Star Wars films and the Clone Wars stuff that has come out and then a second scene debating the merits of the original Star Trek movies. Freakin' hilarious.

If you've ever watched a show created by Chuck Lorre (BBT, Two and a Half Men, and Dharma & Greg), you know that he tends to have some very wordy fun with his vanity cards at the end of each episode. They're hilarious and I often catch myself pausing the TiVo to read them. Hell, he's got a whole Web site dedicated to these cards. The one that followed last night's Big Bang Theory was in regard to the in-show SW and Trek debates and was classic...

Dear George Lucas,

May I call you Mr. Lucas?  On behalf of the writers of The Big Bang Theory, I would like to thank you for your astounding body of work, which has awakened the child within us and unleashed our dreams. That being said, we hope you don't take offense at our good-natured jest regarding your most recent animated efforts. Yes they were cheap shots, but we can't help but hold you to a higher standard -- a standard of your own making. In closing, we are all looking forward to Indiana Jones 5 - The Curse of the Golden Catheter.  Oops, sorry again. 

Very truly yours,

The Writers

P.S.  To William Shatner, director of Star Trek 5. Go ahead, sue us.

Bigbangtheory_2

Check out The Big Bang Theory on iTunes.


Where, oh where...

I'm being punished.

I'm convinced of it.

By the very technology I otherwise love.

Ipod_shuffle My iPod Shuffle is lost. My trusty old Truffle Shuffle (named in tribute to a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Goonies) is nowhere to be found and I think it's a form of punishment for a vile betrayal on my part.

You see, I'm a fan of the second generation orange iPod Shuffle. I've been a fan of it since it came out and was saddened when newer generations of the clip Shuffle were not available in orange. So I've been shopping around the Web for a good deal on one. I keep looking, but I never buy.

And I think my first generation, gumstick Shuffle has had enough. It has sensed my near betrayal and is hiding from me just as I was about to charge it up and put a new playlist on it for my trip into Chicago today.

Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing technology. It's nothing new for me as I've made clear that I think iPods are capable of syncing themselves not only with our computers, but with our brainwaves and emotions as well.

Truffle, please come back. I promise not to cheat on you again. I miss you. I really do. Just come home. Let's talk this out.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): So, Quantum of Solace... we did finally see it Sunday night. A little later than we planned, but still during opening weekend. I'll be honest, it wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. Was it as good as Casino Royale? Not even close. But it was still gritty and action packed and more daring than most Bond films tend to be.

This also proved to be its downfall to some degree.

As Delmer pointed out in a comment on my Friday post, and I completely agree, the camera work and frenetic nature of the filming did make it difficult from time to time to figure out what the heck was going on. For me, at no time was this moreso the case than during that strange operatic sequence. It almost seemed to me that there were three different scenes blended into one and it just got confusing.

But, Craig still kicks severe ass as Bond. I do think he's the best of the bunch now, officially. He brings a snark to the character that we have come to expect, but without being over the top. He likes the ladies, but the focus is not on bedding them at every turn. And he doesn't rely on gadgets like every other Bond, which I like. It's him, his car, his gun, and his instincts. I'm not saying there are no gadgets in this film. Wait until you see MI6's computer getup. Holy crap.

The reason I'm still holding out hope, though, is because they have a third movie that they are planning on to make this a three-film arc... a Bond trilogy, as it were. And we all know that in trilogies, the middle film pretty much always sucks. Save for The Empire Strikes Back, which is, by far, the greatest Star Wars film ever.

Oh, and where the hell was my Star Trek trailer??? So bummed. I'm not a Trekkie, but I'm dyin' to see this flick regardless. My dad is, too, so I think we'll be each other's date since our respective significant others likely couldn't be coerced to see this even at gunpoint.


Another ringer with the slick trigger finger...

You know it's bound to be an interesting day when you go to brush your teeth in the morning and your toothbrush misses your mouth entirely spreading toothpaste all over your goatee (substitute "cheek" for "goatee" if you have no facial hair). Not the best start.

But, hey! It's Friday! How bad can it possibly get, right? And, to boot, it's a special Double-Oh-Friday! Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond film, is finally out on this side of the pond. Yeah, Brits have been able to watch the film for a week or two now. I'm sure if I wanted to be illegal about it, I could've downloaded it. But I want the big screen experience and Katie's stoked about it, too. How can a guy possibly want to ruin things when his wife wants to go see an action film? I'm not going to be the one to do it.

So we're going. Likely tomorrow morning. Tonight will be spent with homemade pizza and a rewatch of Casino Royale to pump us up for QoS. Should it turn out good, I will officially declare Daniel Craig to be the best Bond out there.

Qoswallpaper2sm

Can you tell I'm excited?

On a related aside, before I get to the unrelated one, does the lyric in my title (which is from the Alicia Keys/Jack White-penned "Another Way to Die," the theme from QoS) sound like something that should be sung by Scott Weiland during his Velvet Revolver days? I can imagine it being the opening line in the song "Set Me Free" for some reason.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): After coming home from the gym last night to discover a, um, shortage of sorts in one of my dresser drawers, I decided to accept Dave's challenge. I did it through this morning for a full 12-hour stretch. That may not sound like much, but baby steps, people. And it was weird. Oddly liberating, but weird. I have yet to decide when I'll be doing it again, but if the fact that I've thrown out more than a dozen pairs in the last several months is any indication, it may happen sooner rather than later.

Oh, and before you ask, I have no photographic evidence of my exploits like Dave does. You wouldn't want that anyway. Trust me on this one.


Is there anybody in here...

This is kinda funny...

Yesterday, while Katie was working on some homework, I decided to pop in a DVD of the movie The Strangers. It's a horror film "inspired by true events" about a couple who are terrorized in a family home by three masked assailants. They cannot get away, cannot call out, cannot get help, and seemingly cannot stop them. Pretty basic fare.

Anyway, the film started a little bit freaky. One of those things where you watch and convince yourself that there's no way in hell that you will ever let yourself be in a situation where this could happen to you. So, yeah, I was getting the heebie jeebies to a minor degree.

However, about halfway through, I shut off the movie and started Tweeting about how stupid victims are in horror flicks always enabling their assailants and really just making the terror process too easy. I even argued that they pretty much deserve any bad thing coming to them.

Why is this funny? Because after Tweeting this stuff and receiving a reply from @Sheila_CSR about stupid people in horror films, the rest of the movie just became laughable. I couldn't take it seriously anymore. It was a non issue.

Movie ruined.

Speaking of the movie, I wanted a little more information about the "inspired by true events" claim in the opening credits. Turns out that when the director was young, somebody knocked on his family's door asking if someone were home (that didn't live there) much like what happens in the film. The next day, they found out that many houses in the neighborhood had been burglarized presumably by the door knocker testing to see what houses were empty.

That was his inspiration for this blood bath? Seriously? I'd say the use of the word "inspired" is stretching it a bit.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I were talking about teaching over the weekend. As many of you know, she wants to be a junior high science and/or math teacher. I was asking her what she could see me teaching, if anything.

"English or literature," she replied.

"Cool," I said. "Well, I'm going to read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

Some English or lit teacher I'd be, eh?


You know you twist so good...

Sometimes I wonder why my body doesn't just revolt on me by shutting down entirely and turning me into a vegetable against my will. I wouldn't blame it.

And yet, in my next test of vicious cruelty, er, physical stamina that I am putting myself through, I am joining a yoga class on Wednesdays. I let some friends talk me into it simply because there is a minimum class enrollment for it to happen and I help toward that minimum quota. Of course, I think there is one more that they'll need so I guess the class could possibly still not happen. We'll see.

However, if it does, I'll need your help. In the form of prayer and lots of good will.

Not to guilt you or anything, but if you do think good thoughts for me, I could wind up looking cool and in shape like this...

Maleyoga_2

If you don't, the likelihood is that I will wind up permanently stuck like this, and that's just not right...

Humanpretzel

You must choose, but choose wisely. I beg of you!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It's been a year and a half since we've had the pleasure of watching Jack Bauer kick some serious arse on the tube. And I've been in withdrawal. Thankfully, though, we're almost there!

The two-hour movie, 24: Redemption, airs on Sunday, November 23 and it looks pretty cool. From what I've read, it sets Jack up as a sort of aid worker in Africa who, as is typical for Jack, is caught up in unfortunate goings on.

Then, on January 11, season seven kicks off, baby! It has been far too long.


I feel fine and I feel good, I'm feeling like I never should...

Hey all.

Sorry, I really thought I'd have something more meaningful to say than "hey all," but I suddenly realized, late last night, that I messed up the importing of about two dozen CDs into iTunes. I had the import functionality set to MP3 format at 128 Mbps (very low quality for you non-techies) because I was creating ringtones some weeks back. And for a few hours, I've been trying to reimport some CDs I still have at better quality, lossless settings (yes, MP3s can actually lose quality over time if reimported or moved around or otherwise messed with enough times).

Thankfully this doesn't affect what I've purchased off iTunes and Amazon.

I've found about a half dozen of the CDs, but I've had to go on the library Web site and re-request a ton that I have already checked out. That won't raise any eyebrows amongst the librarians, will it?

Anyway.

So I'm leaving you with a video. File this under "How in the name of all that's holy did I miss this one when it came out earlier in the month?" I just cannot forgive myself.

Thank you to Funny Or Die for the embed code that the original Huffington Post did not provide.

Oh, and I have a meme for you in the extended post.

Continue reading "I feel fine and I feel good, I'm feeling like I never should..." »


We can't go on together with suspicious minds...

I was going to hold off posting this. However, since fireshaper was so convincing, here you go...

As both a fan of Criminal Minds and Wil Wheaton (mostly from his writing), I gotta admit that I was looking forward to seeing the episode of Minds in which he had a guest starring role. It aired on Wednesday. And in the aftermath of it all, I've enjoyed reading the production notes posts he has up on his blog (part 1, 2, 3, and 4, with a final post yet to come).

Overall, it was a good episode. I like when Criminal Minds casts a relatively recognizable face in the role of a bad guy. The same thing happened a year and a half ago when James Van Der Beek came on as a Bible-thumping, split-personalitied serial murderer. It usually means that they want this character to have a larger role... more speaking... more face time... more of a chance for us to learn about them. This as opposed to being just a disposable, red-shirted ensign type of role.

The episode also guest stars the actor known as Tom Cruise's non-couch-jumping cousin and Lost guest William Mapother and the actress formerly known as Goldie Hawn's eldest daughter in Wildcats and nurse to Doogie Howser, M.D., Robyn Lively.

However, about halfway through the episode, some guy shows up on-screen in a scene shared by Wheaton and show star Thomas Gibson. Just this hulk of a guy who seemed to barely fit through the door and nearly had to bend at the knees to make sure his head didn't hit the ceiling in the tiny motel office set they were using. Being a Chicago Bears fan, my sports-nut head decided, for whatever reason, that this dude looked just like Bears Defensive Tackle Tommie Harris. Katie agreed saying the only thing missing was a nasal strip across the bridge of his nose. Imagine my surprise when I saw the end credits and learned that "Father" was indeed played by Tommie Harris.

I wondered what was going on until I read Wil's blog and discovered that Tommie is a huge Criminal Minds fan and his people knew people who swung a favor and got Tommie a walk-on role. How freakin' cool!

I want people who know people. People who can swing favors.

If I could pull this off, I'd love to be in any one of the following shows:

  • Burn Notice - as much as I'd like to be one of the bad asses that Michael Westin (Jeffrey Donovan) deals with, I know that I'd probably be better cast as one of the losers that solicits his help.
  • Chuck - I want to have my ass kicked by Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) while Casey (Adam Baldwin) heckles me because that would be cool.
  • Mad Men - I think it would just be fun to dress up like they do and then be able to walk away and never worry about doing it again.

And Katie would like to be in:

  • Criminal Minds - because she thinks Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) is cool and she wants to drool over Morgan (Shemar Moore).
  • Big Bang Theory - probably because she can actually hold her own in geek speak with the guys. She "gets" them.

Can anybody out there make that happen?

Now to shamelessly whore for comments... on which shows would you want to have a walk-on role?


She says she talks to angels, call her out by her name...

Last week, an Air Angels helicopter crashed in Aurora, a few towns south of where we live, en route from Sandwich, IL, to Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. All four on board were killed including pilot Del Waugh, paramedic Ronald Battiato, nurse William Mann, Jr., and their 14-month old patient Kirstin Blockinger.

The crash site is a mere few miles from my high school and a block or two from a pub that Katie and I love dearly, so we know the area well.

First and foremost, I'd like to express my condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives. The three crew were doing something they love and something that was a positive contribution to society and, for that, I thank them.

But, this is not the point of this post. I found a follow-up article written about the funeral of young Kirstin in which they make mention of something her older brother said. When she was loaded on the helicopter and her parents waved good-bye, young Collin said to his mom, "Sissy is not coming home."

I've always felt that kids were more attuned to the more spiritual and supernaturl sorts of things that float around us all day, every day. Maybe it's because of their innocence, they have a more trusting nature that is willing and open to being influenced by spirits. Heck, wasn't Haley Joel Osment's character in The Sixth Sense enough to convince you of this?

Whatever the explanation may be, don't you think it's time we start to listen to what kids have to say? And, no, I don't mean this in a Whitney Houston "I believe the children are our future" sort of way. God I hate that song.

But, when Katie and I have kids, if one of them says something that even remotely resembles a premonition, my ears are perking up. If they say, "don't get on that plane," you can bet your sweet bippie my ass is sitting on the tarmac. If they see a car crash in their mind's eye, I'm walking.

Why won't everybody listen?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Dear Rolling Stone,

Three prObama covers in the last six months? Really? Not a bit of overkill on your part, is it? I'm so oversaturated by political coverage right now that I could scream. And you, one of my few bastions of pure musical lust just have to get right in there and hammer home why I'm so freakin' tired of the American political machine.

Here's how bad it is, I'd rather see the cast of High School Musical 3 on your cover than any more political crap. You like Obama, we get it. We got it six months ago.

Sincerely,

Dead Horse Voter

P.S. The reduction in size of your publication to that of a normal mag... not cool. Sure, it's a cost savings, but it no longer feels like Rolling Stone if you get my meaning. You could always find RS on the racks, you could always tell when someone was reading it. Now, you just blend in and get lost with everyone else.

Just sayin'.


I get so weary...

People ask me why I'm so cynical of human nature. Why do I, who otherwise seems like such a nice and easygoing guy, mistrust my fellow man so horribly.

It's because of stories like this.

Basically, two people in Villa Park, IL, who have prObama signs in their yards received notes in their mailboxes from an unidentified future Darwinism victim that read:

Get the Obama signs off your property -- now. Failure to obey this order will result in the immediate death of all family members.

I realize this is the minority... the bottom of the barrel... the shallow end of the gene pool. Yes, there are many really great people in the world doing fantastic things to make life better for the rest of us. And yet these lowlifes are the ones who dominate the news. Not only do they give the Republican party and American politics in general a bad name, but they cast a pallor on all those people who try to be all that they can be (no Army Reserve comments, okay?).

So you'll forgive my dour outlook on humanity.

Sorry if that bugs you out.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I just received a couple e-mails that have made me very happy this morning.

The first came from Ginger Snaps and her friend Dave Delaney. You see Dave had the same thing happen to him that happened to me on Twitter. He got satisfaction through a site called, well, simply, getsatisfaction.com. On this particular thread, several people griped about how their Twitter accounts were nixed for the same non-reasons as me and their cases were summarily resolved. Considering my Twitter Support e-mails still remain unanswered, I'm giving it a shot. Let's hope for the best as I would hate to have to try to remember all the people I had on my friend list. Thanks to both Ginger and Dave!

Jennylewis The second came from my local library and they now have copies of B.B. King's One Kind Favor, Jenny Lewis with the Watson Twins' Rabbit Fur Coat, and Darius Rucker's Learn to Live awaiting my pick up.

I love the blues and B.B. is literally the king of them so how can you go wrong?

Jenny Lewis (right) is the lead singer of Rilo Kiley, the former actress who starred in The Wizard with Fred Savage (the movie that introduced the world to Super Mario Bros 3), and is currently my favorite female vocalist. She has a killer voice.

And Darius Rucker... yes, Hootie and the Blowfish Darius Rucker and his turn as a country singer. I've heard a few songs off this album and actually kinda dig it. I'm strangely looking forward to hearing the rest of it.


Hey Chicago, whadda ya say...

I need to apologize to some of you. Over the past, well, while, I've become kind of militant in my support of the Chicago Cubs. Maybe it was an over optimism of their chances. Perhaps I just wanted this 100 year drought to finally end. Actually, it was likely both. And a few other thing thrown into the mix for good measure.

Whatever the case was, I came off as a Cub-loving jerk at the expense of a couple of my readers who are White Sox fans (Nilsa and Sheila). As I explained to them, I have nothing against the White Sox even though it may sometimes sound as though I do. The Sox are just as much Chicago as the Cubs are. And, in fact, as any of us who watch baseball have seen, the Sox are actually better representatives of baseball and the Windy City than the Cubs.

At least the White Sox care enough to actually try to play. They've won the World Series a couple times in the last 100 years, a feat the Cubs can't seem to manage even once. And, unlike the Cubs, the Sox are still holding onto their post-season chances this year. As I type this, the southsiders have actually won a game against the Rays to bring the series to 2-1. Sure that record is in Tampa's favor, but at least the Sox are trying.

Why any of us are Cubs fans is beyond me. How any team can be so loved despite doing NOTHING to give back to the expectant masses is beyond me. We support them season after season, unflinchingly. We start each season saying, "this is gonna be the year," only to finish each one with, "wait until next year."

We are the world's most pathetic optimists. The moniker "Lovable Losers" that has for years plagued the club is clearly not just about the team, but its fans as well. We sit back and take heartbreak after heartbreak. Generations have lived and died with no championship trophy. Why do we put up with it? Why don't we just fold up our banners, stuff our T-shirts and hats in a dark dresser drawer, and move on with our lives?

The Florida Marlins, a team that has been in existence for 15 years and won two World Series in that time still can't fill up the seats in their stadium. Why? They've at least given people something to be proud of, a team that can actually win (even if they do have a bad tendency of completely dismantling each championship team the next season).

Cubs skipper Lou Pinella said, "To hear all this talk of, 'Well if you guys don't win the division and you don't win a World Series, it's a lost year.' That's a bunch of bull (bleep). That's just the way I feel." [quoted from the Daily Herald]

Guess what Sweet Lou, it's not bullshit. The Cubs were one of the best teams in the Major Leagues all season long. Much like the New England Patriots were to the NFL last season. The Pats tore through the regular season and through the first couple rounds of the playoffs. They were on their way to the first perfect season in the NFL since the Miami Dolphins in, I believe, 1972 (correct me if I'm wrong on the year; I'm on too much of a roll to bother looking it up).

The Pats lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants and nobody talks anymore about the near-greatness of that team. Their perfect regular season is a footnote, an asterisk, in a season in which they did not win when it counted most. NOBODY CARES ABOUT 16-0 IF IT DOESN'T BRING HOME A TROPHY!

The same is going to happen with the Cubs. Nobody will care that they finished with a .602 record. They couldn't make it past the first round of the playoffs. Hell, they were swept out of it for the second consecutive year. That's what people are going to remember... their futility... their inability... their sheer ineptness.

The Cubs played like a team with no winning record at all. Everybody involved was abysmal. They didn't care. There was no heart out on the field swinging the bat, throwing the ball, fielding hits by the other team. There was nothing but a bunch of shell-shocked, overpaid imbeciles who need to get their heads out of their asses and realize that, YES YOU ARE PAID TO WIN.

But why the hell would they care what I think. I'm just a fan. The Cubs have plenty of them. What's one pissed-off fan, right? They'll still sell out Wrigley Field every home game. That's a given.

And there will be no shortage of blue-pinstriped idiots out there at opening day next season saying, "this will be OUR year."

Yeah, we'll see about that.

Wanna see what others are saying? Check out Chicagoist.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was reading a library-borrowed copy of Alan Moore's Batman: The Killing Joke last night when I noticed that someone decided to break out their proverbial red pen and get all editorial on it. In one panel, the Joker says, "God damn it." And one previous borrower penciled out the "God" in the line.

Fear not, I took an eraser to the edit. It is what was written and nobody but the author has the right to change their own words (unless of course the author is trying to change the words post-publication, in which case he becomes no better than George Lucas in my mind).


I know all there is to know...

My dad and I went to a home improvement show at Pheasant Run in St. Charles this past weekend. It was two large conference centers full of people showing off their wares and completely overwhelming me at the same time.

Never before have I ever been so happy to be a townhouse owner.

"Would you like an estimate on new siding?"
"Association takes care of it."

"Would you like to put in new roofing shingles?"
"I live in a townhouse!"

"How would you like to take advantage of our highly rated chimney sweeping service?"
"Just come on out and try to find my chimney."

But one woman I did talk to was promoting something aside from home repair stuff. It was her husband's musical production at a local theater. And I am now convinced that armageddon is upon us.

The production was Night of the Living Dead: The Musical. Yes, the musical. I'm not sure how singing would work into this production. Zombies singing? Victims singing as their brains are eaten? I really don't know. I really don't know if I want to know.

So then I started thinking about some of the most ridiculous potential translations of popular movies into the musical theater format. Hell, I even came up with the starts to some songs.

I'll warn you now that some of my lyrics may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk...

The Usual Suspects: Singin' Suspects
A freighter of death, more bodies on the way!
But that dude with the gimp, he's Keyser Soze!

Star Trek: The Emo-tion Picture
Kirk! You whoring bitch!
Kirk! Scratch your own itch!
Kirk! You broke my heart!
Kirk! My life is falling apart!

The Crying Game: Song n' Schlong
What is this before my eyes?
It's a manly meat surprise!

What other movies would be fantastically weird musicals? My mind is running wild with possibilities!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): There are some stores you expect to see "pop up" all over the place. Those stores that are routinely characterized as retail weeds... when you least expect it, there it is. Some such weeds include Walgreen's, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.

So imagine my surprise that within the last six months, two Lover's Lanes have opened up within five or ten miles of my house along the same road. If you don't know what Lover's Lane is, use your imagination, I'm sure you won't be too far off the target.

Good to know there's one thing that remains unaffected by the economic downturn in the U.S.


Nothing compares...

This bummed us out to no end.

On Friday, Katie and I decided to go out for a very traditional dinner and a movie date. Since the movie started earlier, that was where we started. And Nights in Rodanthe it was (that is how much I love my wife).

Afterwards, we were going downtown to a nice sit-down pizza place called Sanfratello's. We've been there before and enjoyed it, so we thought we'd go again. When we pulled up, we saw it was kinda empty, but there were still some people milling about so clearly it was open.

However, when we got inside, we saw a band setting up. Meh, no big deal. We'd sit in the bar area where the volume would be a bit less (we're soooo old). However, when we got up to the front counter and asked for a table for two, the guy told us that the kitchen was closed.

Closed???? WTF???? The restaurant wasn't closing, according to the sign on the front door, for another hour! This was complete and utter crap. I am fine with having a band play at your place. If customers don't want to hear it and you provided fair warning, then the onus is on them to leave. But don't push everybody out, period, by closing the kitchen! You run a delivery service as well, for chrissake! Did you tell all the phone-in people you were closed, too? How many of them do you think are going to bother coming back after being spurned during normal hours of operation?

Asshats.

We went elsewhere. To a pizza joint that had no problem staying open a bit later than their posted hours to make a couple hungry customers happy. Thank you, Antonio's!

Got a semi-, demi-, quasi-, pseudo-meme in the extended post for ya...

Continue reading "Nothing compares..." »


I am, I am, I am...

You all know I am a Mac Whore (tm). I love Mac and all things Apple related. So, yes, it's entirely possible that this obsession has colored my reception of the Jerry Seinfeld Windows ads to a small degree. But I don't think I'm tainted so much that I can't recognize a good ad when it's thrust in my face.

And this, my friends, is a GOOD AD.

Why Microsoft ever bothered to spend the $10 million on Jerry Seinfeld is beyond me when they were capable of this sort of ad for what I can only assume was a fraction of the cost. It strikes to the very core of the Get a Mac ads and does so with personality and energy and gives some humanity to the Evil Empire.

Bravo, Microsoft.

(I can't believe I just said that)


Take the money and run...

So I'm at home the other day while Katie is working late and I receive a phone call from a number I don't recognize. I pick up. It was Katie's hairdresser, Amy.

Amy tells me that Katie has an appointment with her in October and that, despite a phone message she may receive in the next couple of days, the appointment is still going to happen. Just at another location. Turns out Amy was given a job offer at a new salon and, when she gave her current boss two weeks notice, the boss told her to just leave.

In some cases and industries, I can understand this. If a person announces they are leaving and give their notice, a boss may fear that they might use the time to compile their contacts or some company information and secrets and take off with them. So you want them out before that can happen.

Amy was a hair stylist. There are no secrets to take and all her contacts were her own anyway. So why'd her boss let her go before the notice time was up?

Based on what Katie pays to have her hair done and assuming a bare minimum of five appointments per day in a five-day workweek, that's nearly $5,000 that the salon is losing out on. And I know that Amy has far more appointments than that per day and sometimes works six days a week. There's no way to make up that kind of money without having a new stylist immediately ready to take Amy's spot and especially since many of these customers are loyal to Amy and will follow her in exodus from one salon to the next.

Why would she (the owner) do this? Sure, bitterness can play in here. But you're trying to run a business during difficult economic times. Take the money! Let her work out her couple weeks and you reap some benefit as a result.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The Chicago Cubs/Houston Astros series was affected by the invasion of Hurricane Ike down in the gulf region. It was not, however, postponed. Instead, it was moved to a "neutral" site in Milwaukee, WI, at Miller Park, home of the Brewers.

I point this out simply because I'm questioning the decision by Major League Baseball regarding how to handle the weather delay of the series. This series was a home series for the 'Stros. To be played at home in front of their home fans in a stadium that they know. That's why it's called "home field advantage."

I realize that the MLB is trying to not shift that advantage from the 'Stros to the Cubs by moving the series to Chicago. That makes perfect sense. But why not wait until the end of the season and replay the series down in Houston? Or play it in a real "neutral site."

Seriously... Milwaukee is not a neutral site for the Cubs. In fact, until the Brewers actually got to be a semi decent team in the last couple seasons, the stadium was regularly filled with more Cubs fans than Brewers fans. It's only a couple hours north of Chicago. Many fans that are unable to find tickets at Wrigley Field regularly venture to Miller Park to watch the Cubbies play. Hell, ChicagoCubs.com even calls Miller Park "Wrigley North."

To the MLB, think next time. If you're going to yank the home field advantage from the Astros, try a truly neutral site geographically located between both teams like, oh, say, Kansas City? They might enjoy actually having some good teams play in their town once in a while.

But, oh well, too late. I'm sure the Astros will complain that the no hitter Zambrano dealt out last night never would've happened if the game were played in Houston.

Go Z!


Hey, I got some new shoes...

I just saw one of those "highly touted," "gonna save our asses" ads for Microsoft featuring Jerry Seinfeld. It aired during the Monday Night Football game between the Packers and the Vikings just a few minutes ago.

In it, Jerry Seinfeld was shopping in a mall (already unbelievable) and eating a churro (which might make Dustin switch back) when he sees Bill Gates shopping in a Shoe Circus and automatically assumes that Gates is poor and needs his guidance about everything from churros to showering with your clothes on.

W. T. F. ????

This had to be one of the stupidest commercials I've ever seen. It was just pointless. Aside from the final exchange between the two, it had nothing to do with computers. Oh, wait, it had Gates in it, so I guess that makes it all better.

And they paid Seinfeld how much for this campaign?

I wonder if Steve Ballmer kept the receipt.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm making a change around here and I'm hoping that you'll respect the decision that I'm making. What I'm going to do is change my name. From here on out, I am going by the name Kapgar Ocho Cinco. You may not understand why I'm doing this but it's not your place to. This is my life and I will live it the way I want to. But note that I will no longer respond to "Kevin Apgar." That name is dead to me.

I am, now and forever, Kapgar Ocho Cinco.

I think I may put it on a mug. Or a sticker. Ohhh, better yet, a keychain!


But I ain't got wings...

I finally got off my butt and strung together the strands of video for that third of three Damn Fool Network posts that I recorded somewhere upwards of a month ago. It's a long one, I'll warn ya now. I don't even remember it taking this long to make the thing. Shame it didn't turn out. Oh, did I just ruin it? Hm, oh well.


The Damn Fool Network: Jello Pretzel Salad from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I have a fairly busy weekend in store for us. Lots of things to catch up on and places to go/people to see. And yet, if I had the chance, I would totally drop everything to go to Flugtag tomorrow. Is that wrong?

Who wouldn't want to see homemade flying machines crashing down into Lake Michigan?


Walk Idiot Walk...

I make no secret of my hatred of treadmills. I don't really hate running so much, but running in place always struck me as completely pointless. Sure, you get a good workout in very little space. You can control temperature and terrain and all that jazz, but it's just so. damn. boring.

Nothing changes and I hate that. Even running with an iPod set up in front of you to watch something doesn't really help so much. It's just too small a screen to counter the fact that nothing else changes around you. The same view in front, the same view to the sides, and you feel like you're winning nothing because you're "keeping pace" with everyone around you. No matter how fast you go, there they all are. After a while, you almost feel willing to trade a non-vital bodypart to convince one of them to leave so it looks like you've made headway on someone.

Or this could just be how my crazy, mixed-up brain perceives it all. Wouldn't be the first time.

Treadmill However, yesterday at the gym, I was introduced to something that just might change my view. It was a new LifeFitness treadmill they receieved a couple days ago and finally finished assembling. Actually, they got two of them. And it is tres cool. I wish I knew the model number, but who really cares. Yeah, it's got the shock absorbing running platform, QuickStart, LifePulse, blah, blah.

Most importantly, it has full iPod compatibility! Plug in your iPod and it not only charges, but it starts to play on a 17" (maybe it was 15" - I wasn't carrying a tape measure) flat-panel monitor that is separate from the actual gauge monitor for your workout (mounted above the monitor you see on the treadmill at right). After figuring out how to use the on-screen controls (it takes a little getting used to), I was watching America's Game #2: 1985 Chicago Bears on the TV for the duration of my 45 minute workout. And I didn't even notice how the time flew. Very sweet, indeed!

Now if only I can guarantee that nobody else will ever use MY treadmill, I'd be happy.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie's other class started last night and, don't ask me how, they got on the topic of foreign films. Katie's teacher is a big fan and Katie was recommending the movie we saw a few months ago, Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), to her. And her teacher said she is always willing to accept recommendations for foreign films. So I began to think of some that I've seen and enjoyed. The list includes: City of God (Brazil), Run Lola Run (Germany), The Princess and the Warrior (Germany), Amelie (France), He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (France), A Very Long Engagement (France), and some others.

And then I got to thinking, hell, I'd like some recommendations. Many of you are pretty worldly in terms of cinema. Throw some recommendations at me. You can see from the list above what I like (Franka Potente, Audrey Tautou, Tom Tykwer), but I'd never limit myself to just this. Throw me some ideas.

One last note...


don't forget to vote!


If you start me up...

I feel bad leading into the weekend on such a somber note, so I'd like to leave you with something a bit more lighthearted. But I didn't feel right putting these on the Lilly post. So you're getting them on Saturday.

These are about the funniest damn teasers for the fall return of television shows that I've ever seen...

Here's a second one that doesn't have embed code available just yet. Maybe soon. I don't want to know what "Hide the Hamster" is, but I'd totally rule "Pizza Making."


Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die young...

It's time I take a stand, dammit. I've been sitting back way too long and just watching the world go to pot and I've had it! As the late, great Peter Finch said in his role as Howard Beale in Network, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" So sit back, folks! I'm goin' political on yo' asses!

Yeah! Here's how it's goin' down... I'm going to lobby Congress for legislation to protect us against Marketing Blasphemy and I need your support and assistance.

What? You thought I was announcing who I was going to support in the Presidential election? Ha!

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that marketing and advertising firms are no longer allowed to use popular music or television/movie imagery in the ads they create for their clients.

I'm sick and tired of having media-related things that I love in life raped and pillaged for the sake of advertising. For example, there's this piece of crap from J.C. Penney.

Don't get me wrong, it's a semi-well done commercial from a production standpoint. They captured the feel of The Breakfast Club decently enough. But they are still killing the memory of one of the best John Hughes films ever. A movie I grew up loving. And now I not only never want to see it again because I'll be stuck thinking about this piece of tripe, but I also never want to set foot in a J.C. Penney because of what they've done by accepting this from their ad firm as part of their new campaign. It would seem to me that the best way to bring in customers is by not pissing them off. Maybe I'm in the minority here and am the only one who feels this way. I dunno.

Nirvana? Really? I'm guessing the Ally Sheedy wannabe was about two years old when Kurt off'd himself (or was off'd by Courtney if you buy into the conspiracy theory). And, lastly, that kid is their stand-in for Bender? You gotta be kidding me. Judd Nelson would eat him for lunch and still have room for a Pixie stick sandwich.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This was sent to me by a friend. I had to share...

Government

Hmmm... maybe this isn't who I should be lobbying for anti-Marketing Blasphemy legislation after all.


It's a beautiful mornin'...

Hey all, I have three things to help you ring in this new week and I hope they're as good for you as they are for me.

First, I'm guest posting today for the second time in nearly as many weeks for another good friend Penelope. This time, I won't be writing about how scared I am to guest post, I swear. Nothing cheesy like that. Nope, no cheese... just w(h)ine. So click on through and check it out.

Itsmepenelopegreece

Second, I'm prepping for Davecago 2 (it's 3... sorry) this weekend! That should be great. Okay, correction... I don't think "should" is the proper thing to say as it's Dave coming to town. More like "will." It's always fun when Dave comes to town. And I do believe Katie and I will both be there. Anybody else planning to be in attendance?

Davecago

Third, I've got a fun little joke for you courtesy of my wife. It's a long one, so to keep my homepage a bit uncluttered, I'm putting it in the extended post.

Continue reading "It's a beautiful mornin'..." »


So tell me why...

For the first time since tearing up my shin last year, I finally got out and played some disc golf. No, I wasn't scared to play. I wasn't fearing further injury. I was, plain and simple, just too damned lazy to get out there and play. So what do I do? I wait until one of the hottest damn days so far this summer to get my butt out there. I'm such a freakin' moron.

Qlalsam Speaking of working out, I was at the gym the other day and I flipped through the channels on the TV and found some network I'd never heard of before called ION (their logo slugs show it like TELEVISION). Cute, whatever. But they were airing an episode of Quantum Leap and, honestly, I can never say no to Sam and Al. I love that show. Always have. Always will. So, yeah, I left it on.

I've discussed time travel on here before. The whole would you/wouldn't you question. How you think it might affect your current life. That sort of thing.

But, what if you were like Sam and you were traveling around taking over someone else's life for a brief period of time instead of time traveling around as yourself? It would probably mess with your head a bit but we all know that Sam became relatively well adjusted to the concept. In fact, anybody who watched the whole run of the series will remember that instead of going home in the final episode, Sam opts to continue leaping. It became that much a part of him.

What about the poor saps whose lives he jumps into, though? How fucked in the head do you think they are? One second they're living their life (I think I correctly used "they're" and "their" there, didn't I? Heh) and BAM they find themselves stuck in some holding chamber at a science lab in New Mexico in a bad white jumpsuit watching as some schmuck takes credit for what is rightfully your claim.

One guy is about to make the winning basket in the state championship game... BAM... Sam makes the shot instead.

Another dude is gonna ask the love of his life to marry him... BAM... Sam's got another wife. Not you.

Some guy is about to make love to his wife... BAM... Sam swoops in and scores the notch on the bedpost. And for all you know, that could be Sam's kid, not yours.

Yeah, it's great for that guy who, in this episode anyway, was being hooked up to an electric chair. But still.

So what moments in your life would you rather have Sam leap in and take the blame for?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was talking to a friend recently and he relayed to me how, at his job, he was "voluntold" to do something. "Volun-what," I asked.

"Voluntold" as in you're told to volunteer or someone else volunteers you for an assignment, he explained.

That has to be one of the greatest contractions of two words I hate that I have ever heard before in my life. It's brilliant in its simplicity, isn't it?


I wanna run to you...

I can't remember if it was yesterday's ad for Circuit City or Best Buy, but one of them was having a sale on all video games that were tied in to summer movies. Wall*E, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, etc. It blew my mind to see how many games had been made to accompany movies.

That's when I started to wonder who made the decision as to what movies get greenlighted as video games. I also started wondering why some movies, that are seemingly born to be made into video games, are not.

So I began pondering what movies would be great games. And it hit me... JUNO!

Pauliebleeker The game is played as Paulie Bleeker and the goal would be to bed as many of your classmates as possible. This is a strategy game, first and foremost. You have to scout your school to find a person whose intimacy levels most match yours. It would be like comparing Playboy centerfold profiles. Obviously, your levels will be very low when you start playing for the first time. However, you can create a savable profile and build your levels up. Eventually, given enough time and skill building, you can achieve the Dancing Elk o' Intimacy level and be able to bed anyone in your school, including teachers and administrators (if you manage to get your superintendent in bed, the game will self destruct and you will forever be remembered as the Minnesota Mastodon o' Love).

Once you scout your target, the next step is to woo them. This would be done using the guitar controller that comes with Guitar Hero. You have to show your mad strumming skillz and make them swoon for you. As soon as you do this, you have to then use the Wii Fit Balance Board to prove your sexual prowess. Rock, roll, sway, whatever it takes to bring them to the brink of ecstasy.

Money can be earned by winning track meets and these are run by jogging in place on the Wii Fit Balance Board. While it may sound unnecessary as the goal is to get in bed, this money is necessary so you can purchase energy boosts in the form of tangerine Tic-Tacs and Hot Pockets. You can also improve your running by purchasing deodorant that can be used as leg lube as well as progressively showier shorts. Given enough money, you might be able to afford the Cadillac of running outfits... Velcro tear-away shorts. This purchase would benefit you both on the track and in bed.

However, there is a catch... if you do successfully woo a classmate but you subsequently fall flat on your face in bed, your name and details of your inadequacies will be posted up to a pseudo MySpace profile and you will have to start over from a level below where a normal person would start the game. Also worthy of note, if your guitar skills are not up to par, you will wind up using the Wii Fit Balance Board to run in place to work off your sexual frustration. These runs will not earn you money as they are not school-sanctioned track meets. And you will not be able to move on to another target until the frustration level -- as determined by the immensity of the peer rejection and negative comments on your MySpace profile -- is worked off.

I can see this game being HUGE! Bigger than Ellen Page's belly!

Anyone out there with programming skills want to work on this one with me?

I wonder what other movie tie-in games I can come up with?

I'm going to hell, aren't I?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, "Semi Related Aside." Katie and I broke out the Connect Four board last night and started playing. I wish I had a Web cam running because it was funny to watch as the game started friendly, but quickly became a study in human competition. After just a couple rounds, we started playing it like it was some city park speed Chess game... just slamming the checkers into the grid square with no time between for play consideration. It was fun! Well, save for Katie throwing a checker or two at me. I think I wound up sleeping on one last night.


Call me a relic, call me what you will...

There are some things I truly hate about the summer. The biggest of which is the fact that it seems that we have something planned every weekend. So far as I can tell, our lives are pretty well "on reserve" through the end of August.

The reason why this is such a big deal is that now we can't do spontaneous things we find out about at the last second. For example, this coming Saturday there will be a program hosted by the Geneva History Center called "Wooden Bats & Iron Men." It's a baseball game between the Geneva Rovers and the Midway Marauders.

The catch is that it's not your standard, everyday baseball game. This is old school here. They play by 19th century rules and use the uniforms, equipment, and lingo from the era. Here's the text slug from the flyer we received in the mail...

The Rovers & Marauders play by the rules of 1858, when men were men and gloves were for sissies. Learn the wildly different rules and cheer on the Rovers as they defend the honor of our fair city.

This is about the coolest thing for a guy like me who loves not just baseball but 19th century history (I've always been a freak for Civil War history). And, yet, we've got plans for most of the day on Saturday. I hope I can find video of it all somewhere.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I like when people in a customer service sort of role take a little time to get to know you or have some fun with their job. Katie and I took her car in yesterday for an emissions test. After it was all over, the guy who was helping us said, "Well, I'd tell you both to have a nice day and drive safe, but screw it. Go out there, drive erratically, and hit some people!"

Katie: "SWEET!"

Service guy: "Yeah! And when the cops pull you over, blame it on a few too many at the beer garden!"

Me: "Because we all know that overconsumption of liquor is a viable excuse for vehicular homicide!"

Service guy: "You know it!"

I like that he felt comfortable enough to know he could joke around with us a bit. Made for a fun afternoon... at an emissions testing station of all places. Who'd'a thunk it?


Batman...

In one hour, Katie and I will be here...

Whysoserious

Yes, we both have the day off and we're spending part of it to go see The Dark Knight.

However, I thought it was merely luck that we had a day off that coincided with the release of the film. I was under the impression that somebody at Katie's work wanted to swap days with her for whatever reason and so I took the day off to spend with her.

As it turns out, Katie had been planning this for weeks. She requested the shift change at work so she could go to the dentist and we could also go together to see the film as early as possible (without it being an overnight showing).

How awesome is my wife?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Well, they're both still films. Two weeks ago, I had no idea that the Broadway musical Mamma Mia! was being made into a film. Now, with all the ads I've seen and heard -- actually a greater number of them in the last week than for The Dark Knight if you can believe it -- I'm sick to death of it. I can't hear the song "Mamma Mia" without cringing. It's freakin' everywhere! Literally every other commercial break on every network we tune into has a trailer for it. I'm going nuts over here!


Watch me...

One of the wonderful things about the television off-season is that Katie and I really start to hunker down and tear into our Netflix queue. At one point in time during our five-year Netflix membership, we had about 140+ movies listed. Now, due to a combination of actually watching some and deleting a bunch of others that hold no interest with me whatsoever, our queue is down to 35 DVDs.

We are also quite prone to using Netflix to watch TV. Of the 35 I mentioned above, four are Burn Notice season 1 (we want to watch it again), four are Mad Men season 1, four are Monk season 1, and two are Extras season 1. Yeah, that's a lot of TV, but this is how Katie and I watch some shows. It's actually more fun. We can watch them back to back and with no commercials. We recently wrapped up all three seasons of The Closer in time for last night's season 4 premiere. And we've also watched Dexter, Kitchen Confidential, Criminal Minds, 30 Rock, Dead Zone, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, Northern Exposure, and Band of Brothers.

We've also got 11 movies and TV series in our Saved section simply meaning that they are either too far from being released or no release date has been announced yet.

But it's just a matter of time before the 35 in our queue are waxed completely and, to be honest, I can't think of much I want to watch and Katie's notoriously bad at telling me what to include in there. So guess what? I'm pulling a Miss Britt and asking all of you for recommendations on what to add. Be they TV shows or movies, I want your opinions. Please give me some insight into what interests you that you think may pique my interest as well.

Also, since I've got my 160GB iPod, I'd also like some suggestions as to what might make for good iPod-ready video. I'm not a big fan of watching highly visually detailed programs or movies on it since it has such a small screen, but this only applies to the first viewing of something really. If I've already watched it once on the big(ger) screen, then watching it small ain't so bad. So gimme some suggestions what you think could play well on the micro screen. Right now, I have stuff like The Simpsons Movie, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, several random episodes of South Park, Kitchen Confidential, Two and a Half Men, and The Office. What else would work?

Ooohhh, I might have to put the Star Wars movies on there.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Hmmm... I wonder if I should start pricing GM cars. I also wonder if Michael Moore will suddenly feel compelled to do Roger & Me, part deux.


Is there a ghost...

Can ghosts have pets? I ask because I think Bernard may have a pet cat.

Katie and I finally went up in the attic this past weekend. I know, I know... we made plans and stuck by them! Who'd'a thunk it? We also did find our diplomas. Despite not having remembered where they were, we apparently had the foresight, before "losing" them, to put them all in a single cardboard sleeve. My B.A. and M.A. and Katie's B.S. (no pun intended).

And, thankfully, this was one piece of cardboard that wasn't trashed by mice.

Yeah, that was our biggest discovery of the weekend. Mice had ransacked almost every cardboard box in the attic. Full ones, empty ones, it didn't matter. They tore through cardboard and styrofoam like there was no tomorrow. We had to pitch a lot of what was in those boxes. The good thing was that a lot of valuable stuff was in sealable plastic cartons that the mice didn't bother with. Sure they showed their disdain for our packing by pooping on top of the plastic boxes, but nothing else.

But the oddest thing was evidence of cats. I can totally understand mice in an attic. Hell, through last October, we could even occasionally hear them scurrying about up there. We didn't do anything about them because we were just too damned lazy, but we heard them. However, in addition to the mouse droppings and burrow holes in our insulation, I found cat hair almost everywhere. It was stuck to the wood boards, laying on top of boxes, and even used in one of the mouse nests we found. Seriously, WTF?

I highly suggest, if you use an attic or crawl space for storage where you live, to check your swag regularly. You might be amazed -- and disgusted -- at what you find.

But, despite the disgust, when all was said and done, we wound up trashing nearly half of what was in the attic. Now, instead of nearly a dozen boxes of co-mingled crap, we have only three, plus about six or seven boxes of holiday decorations, which we can now get to much more readily when the holiday seasons approach. Maybe this year we'll even decorate for Christmas.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I asked this question on Twitter over the weekend. However, since I texted it in to the system, I never got around to receiving replies and sometimes the Twit can be a Twat when it comes to letting you scroll back through archived screens. So I'm going to ask all of you and apologize if you did reply on Twitter, if you're reading a book and you suddenly realize that you are having difficulty remembering what you've read up to that point, do you quit reading it or labor on through to finish what you started?