News 2005-09

Devilman, devilman...

From time to time, I find myself amused by the images that Google News chooses to use to accompany news stories. I know it's probably some complex algorithm that picks the image based on metadata incorporated into the image, blah blah.

If that's the case, explain to me what the hell metadata was embedded into this image to make it algorithmically associated to an article about Microsoft's Bing search engine?

JackoBing1
Click image to excite it

I can only guess (and shudder) at what the "5 Turning Points" are based on the image.

I went back into Google News five hours later and found this...

JackoBing2
Again, click the image to give it a thrill

Seriously, is Google trying to create a mental image of Microsoft as a bunch of crotch-grabbing child molesters? I knew Windows was evil, but this?

I was on Goodreads last night and I entered a bunch of contests for free books. It had been a while since I entered any, so why not?

One of the books was a comedy about a road trip (I think), another about a woman trying to bring to light in America the problems in Darfur, a third was about a female photojournalist in Vietnam. The fourth I entered -- just for kicks -- is about a woman's voyage of self-discovery... in the world of BDSM.

Guess which one I'm probably gonna win?

Oy.


Help... not just anybody...

Relieffordads I found this ad on Facebook today.

It disturbs me for a few reasons.

One, why is it that only dads can take advantage of this debt-relief program? No moms? No childless guys? What exactly is involved here? Will they be selling their kids into child slavery behind their wives' backs?

Two, I could be wrong, but in that image I see long blonde hair, a pregnant belly, and boobies. How does this image depict dads in debt? Or is it meant to imply that all men are in debt because of women and pregnancy? Are they claiming women are the root of all evil including excessive levels of debt? That's a bold statement.

Three, what exactly is this woman doing in the picture? It would appear she is sitting/standing in the glow of a TV, but otherwise, what is this image depicting? Looks like her hands are doing an Al Bundy with the waistband of her pants. Is there porn involved in this deal?

So many questions...

Once in a while, I love scrolling through the Chicago Tribune's "Mugs in the News" section. You find a great random sampling of life there.

For example, here's a guy who was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated battery. Well if you were near a dude looking this sullen who was wearing a shirt that says "Most of the people that drive me nuts are in my family" and you didn't treat it a sign of things to come, well, you probably deserved it anyway...

Suspect-firstdegreemurder

This girl is actually pretty cute and looks happy to be there getting her mugshot taken. Prison fetish, I'd suspect.

Suspect-assisting

I was going to ask why this guy looks so damn happy after being arrested and booked, but I think we all know why, don't we?

Suspect-controlledsubstances

I have no words.

Suspect-tattoo

And oh so many more!


Don't you forget about me...

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

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

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

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

You get the picture?

And that list only scratches the surface.

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

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

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

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

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

To John Hughes, rest in peace.

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

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

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


Whenever you need someone...

Is there a point where mocking contempt actually becomes sympathy?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madmen_standard 

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

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


And the spies hide out in every corner...

Oh, the PR person for the CIA is gooooood. Like real good. Like deceptively, manipulatively, strike-and-retreat-under-cover-of-night good.

Jason_bourne I saw a headline on my Yahoo homepage this morning that read "CIA was a long way from Jason Bourne" and just had to read it. I am always curious how similar real life is to the movies. It's cool to think, sometimes, that the shit we see on the big screen can really happen. And, when it comes to government-recruited-and-trained assassins, well, I wholly believe it's the truth. There are so many deaths out there attributed to natural causes or some convenient accident that are clearly the work of paid hitmen.

You don't buy it? Here's an example right off the top of my head... Billy Mays... the shillman for products like Oxy-Clean. Totally a hit. Why? He was selling a product that promised to do all your cleaning FROM ONE BOTTLE! Do you know what a product like that can do to the American economy? It's devastating! People no longer need to buy detergent, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, shower cleaner, sink cleaner, toilet cleaner. Oh no... it's all right there waiting for them in one container. And Billy Mays was the man popularizing it.

Still don't believe me. Well tough noogies. I totally believe it. *

And now here we have the CIA's PR rep trying to say that all kinds of clandestine missions that they were accused of being a part of were unattainable given their resources and logistical planning.

Mmm-hmmm. Right.

The article says all the right things. It admits to them wanting to do some of these things, but not being able to. It uses all the right catchwords like "deniability" to make them seem like they admit to having this negative image. And they even try to claim that other government-funded groups, such as Special Ops teams, do these sorts of things regularly.

Oh yes, they're realllllll gooood.

Now let's all open up our arms and give a hug to the new family-friendly CIA, shall we? C'mon over, we're having s'mores and singing "Kumbayah." Leon Pannetta is making hot cocoa and then we're having a J. Edgar Hoover lookalike contest. It'll be fun!

* No, kapgar is not really a conspiracy theorist. He's just in a weird place this morning. But if you don't hear from him on this blog, Facebook or Twitter for an extended period, you know who's responsible! Just sayin'!

And my insurance company rejected my doctor's referral for chiropractic treatment. No surprise there.

Instead they'd rather me constantly go in for physical therapy (which I've already done), doctor's appointments, maybe an occasional ER visit when I throw out my back after the doctor's office is closed, and repeated cycles of prescription drugs.

So, yeah, in the short term, it's potentially more expensive, but they'd save a ton in the long term.

Asshats.


The ice is getting thinner...

I'll tell you one thing I don't like... starting your day with an appointment at the doctor's office.

Seriously, who in the hell schedules an appointment at 7 a.m.? Oh yeah, me. Because my doctor's office doesn't like evening or weekend hours. Bastards. So I dragged my ass out of bed this morning and nearly stumbled in the shower (at least I made it past the bed without falling). I gotta do something about that. I also ate breakfast, got dressed, read some blog posts, left some comments, loaded some new podcasts on the iPod, etc. (not necessarily in that order) and left.

I'm not a big fan of the doctor's office. No, they don't frighten me or anything. I don't get severely panicky like some people do. I'm just one of those people that doesn't believe in wasting either a doctor's or my own time with "little things." A cough or cold? Allergy med refill? Sore muscles? Cramps? Bad headaches? Phone them in for a prescription, don't drop by. What's the point? That's just how I operate. I hate how much work it takes to schedule and how long you sometimes have to wait for an appointment. By the time you go in there, any problem you had is gone.

But now, with my back bugging me a little and being in my mid-30s, maybe I should go in. Get those regular physicals. All that jazz.

So I went in and, as one would expect, the first thing they do is weigh me. The dreaded scale, which gets followed up by the dreaded sphygmomanometer (blood pressure machiney). This is the one time I do get a little tense. I hate being weighed. I hate the reality of having those high numbers come crashing down on me. That, of course, results in a higher-than-usual blood pressure reading. A double whammy.

But, holy hell, neither turned out so bad. Since my last doctor's visit last February, I'm down 23 pounds and I only really started working on that in the winter. And my blood pressure, despite my scale anxiety, was actually within range. The doctor was impressed. I was impressed. Katie was impressed. The Gods on high were impressed (I know because the drive to work was actually quite clear and it's a pretty nice day out and all these seem to be rarities in Chicago this July).

Hmmm, maybe the doctor's office isn't so bad after all.

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday, dear Spongebob.
Happy birthday to you!

Spongebob-squarepants

Why did I think he'd been around longer than just 10 years?


Don't cry for me, Argentina...

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

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

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

Me: No.
     
       ...Maybe Brazil.

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

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

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

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


Here come the Hawks, the mighty Bla-a-ackhawks...

I was at a funeral yesterday.

I was listening to what the priest was saying during his sermon and, at one point, he said that he is very much looking forward to going to Heaven. That he is just living through the mundane details of life on Earth in anticipation of eventually being given the privilege of returning to be with his maker in Heaven. He also said that he anticipates that anyone who goes to Heaven has absolutely no desire to ever return to Earth.

This got me thinking.

Is life really mundane as he says? Just a detail? Why does he view life as nothing but a time out between birth and afterlife? Why isn't he enjoying it more? Wouldn't his god want him to enjoy it and make the most out of it? I don't mean that he should live the life of a heathen or anything, but I don't understand why he would think God would just stick us here as though it's a train platform that you sit on as you wait for the express line to the afterlife. What would be the purpose of that? To me, that comes across more like God saying, "meh, I'm just not ready for you and I'm sticking you there until I feel moved to do something about it."

I always viewed our Earth-bound existence as a time to test ourselves and prove ourselves worthy of a permanent afterlife in either Heaven or Hell or to be reincarnated (yes, I have a wide range of beliefs). To one of these ends, we need to make the most of this time here in our corporeal beings.

Obviously, this would be affected by your own personal beliefs. If you don't believe in an afterlife or God (or a God-like being), then you might have a totally different viewpoint.

I'm curious what you think. What say you?

Sure, most of you aren't going to give a damn about this, but I don't care. I must party like it's 1995... the last time the Hawks went this deep in the playoffs.

Photos and video stolen (with love) from CityGirl912.

BlackhawksBeatCanucks

Oh, and my condolences to Brandon and anybody else who was rooting for the Vancouver Canucks to overcome. No, wait, I'm not really that sorry. ;-)


Welcome to my nightmare...

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

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

AHHHHHH!!!!

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

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

548760

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

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

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


Shame that everyone's the same...

I swore I had written about this in the past, but I have trouble coming up with the keywords when I try to search for old posts, so I'm going to assume I haven't mentioned this and start this post under that assumption.

My wife has a cousin named Lauren. They've always been really close despite the more than 10 years of difference in age.

A couple months ago while we were working out at the gym, we both looked over at one of the treadmills and saw her... Lauren... only it wasn't Lauren... it was someone who looked EXACTLY like Lauren.

When I say "exactly like," I mean just that. Same height, same build, same facial structure, same hair color, same hair cut, same look on the face. Katie was almost tempted to go up to her and ask and make sure it wasn't her. And it wasn't just a fluke that she happened to look like Lauren on that particular day, we've seen her several times since then and it never ceases to floor us how doppelgangerish the similarities are. Katie was also almost tempted to take a picture of her using her iPhone (yes, phones aren't supposed to be used in the gym, but when it's also her iPod, she doesn't have a choice) and send it to her cousin to freak her out a bit.

I've taken to calling her "Clone Cousin."

We still haven't spoken to her, but I'm sure she's felt our eyes watching her in amazement.

Last night, though, we were leaving the gym and the attendants leave the IDs out on the counter so, in case they're away from the desk, people who didn't have a locker can just grab their card and go. Great primer toward identity theft, I'm sure. Anyway, the Clone Cousin's ID was out on the counter and guess what? Her name is Lauren, too.

C'mon. Seriously, what are the odds of that? This is just getting creepier and creepier.

Singularly the greatest marketing idea ever... Trojan2Go... two condoms in a card-sized sealed case that fits in your wallet like a credit card. A little thicker, of course, but still and all the same. I saw these at the register at a Walgreen's last night. Brilliant.

With all the movies and TV shows featuring guys carrying condoms in their wallets that have aged to brittleness from lack of use, I'm shocked that this sort of thing wasn't developed sooner.

Trojan2Go


Now we become part of it...

Sorry blogging hasn't been much of a priority lately. I guess when you have nothing to say, well, blogging gets a bit tough. Know what I mean? I do have some stuff to last me the next couple days, though, so that's good, right?

Katie and I had some fun on Saturday. The first part of the day was spent with Katie getting some shopping done while I spent a couple hours at a cemetery. Not your idea of fun? Well it was for me. First off, it was my friend Mike's 35th birthday, so I stopped by to say hi to him and ran into his dad again. So we talked for a while as we cleaned up the area around Mike's marker. Then, after he left, I wandered the cemetery and took photos. There were some beautiful stones and little tribute trinkets left at several that were just great and heartbreaking all at the same time. The pictures are below in a Pictobrowser (or you can see the album on Flickr).

Then we headed down to the city to meet up with her brother, Scott, and his girlfriend, Becca. We did go down primarily for the Rocco DeLuca concert. But we started in and around Millennium Park and got some more photos (again, you can click through to Flickr if you prefer).

After this, it was off to the show. I don't really think we can fairly call them Rocco DeLuca and the Burden anymore because, as my buddy Brad warned me, it was just Rocco and his drummer performing. We thought it was for the purpose of a stripped-down show. However, after talking to Paul Doucette, the opening performer (of The Break and Repair Method and Matchbox Twenty), as he was wandering around in the crowd, we found out there was a big band rift and the drummer was the only guy to survive the cuts. I guess when your name is the name of the band, you can fire whoever you want and still keep the name. Katie preferred to refer to him as "Unburdened," though. Made me laugh.

Rocco put on a good show despite only being a two-man crew. However, his sound tech really needs to work on the feedback issue and someone needs to teach Rocco about moderation with his sustain pedal. Woah.

Breakandrepairmethod Let's get back to Paul Doucette, though. The opening act officially was billed as The Break and Repair Method, however, as Paul explained to the audience, it's a recession and he couldn't afford to bring the rest of the band. So he performed several new songs he had written and limited himself to just that which he could sing and play either on acoustic guitar or keyboard. He was damn good. To think he is the drummer for Matchbox Twenty and can do all this as well? That's talent. And, as often happens when we go to small shows like this, Katie and I bought his CD. If there's one thing we've discovered about small shows, the opening acts tend to be great. More often than not, we've enjoyed the opening acts more than the headliners... Amos Lee opened for Norah Jones, Ollabelle for Diana Krall, Sara Bareilles and The Last Goodnight for Rocco a couple times, Paul Doucette for Rocco this time. These headliners gotta be careful.

I think Katie best described the Break and Repair Method CD as sounding inspired by Ben Folds Five. Heavy on the piano, which we both like, with some good vocal work. Sure Paul's voice isn't quite as smooth and radio ready as Ben, in fact it's much rougher, but we like it a lot and are enjoying this CD. So, yanno, if you're interested, check out Milk the Bee on iTunes

Katie told me about this last week and I never got around to blogging about it. Some guy in Russia went to his doctor to have what they all thought was a cancer-related tumor removed.

Imagine their surprise when they opened him up to find a five centimeter spruce tree growing inside his lung.

I think those people who walk around wearing breathing masks might be on to something.


Where a kid can be a kid...

Just about two miles up the street from where I live is a Chuck E. Cheese pizza joint. I used to visit these and Showbiz Pizzas a few times here and there as a kid. They were fun.

For a couple years now, Katie and I have talked about going back just for kicks, but never have. No real reason for this decision from what I can tell, we just haven't.

Apparently we're missing out! Some employee of our Chuck E. Cheese just got busted for serving alcohol to a minor.

Since when did Chuck E. Cheese start serving liquor?? If I had only known!

Can you imagine how much fun Whack-A-Mole would be after a half dozen tequila shots? Or Skee-Ball while hopped up on J├Ągerbombs?

And if this Chuck E. Cheese is serving to the underage, I'm thinking you may really not want your kids anywhere near the ball pit.

Woo nelly!

Chucke_cheese

What is the area called on the reverse side of your arm from your elbow?

The elbow pit? The ante-elbow? I dunno.

Whatever it's called in anatomy circles, I have a problem with my right one. There's this one spot on my, oh what the hell, ante-elbow that constantly gets what I think is either a zit or some other dermal malady. It stays there for about a week and then goes away on it's own. Nothing I do will get rid of it on my own terms.

So why is it a big deal? Because when I wear short sleeve shirts, it shows and makes me fear that people are going to look at it as though it's my heroin needle stickpoint. I'm sure it's just paranoia on my part, but that's what it looks like.

Thankfully there's nothing there resembling a trackmark. How would I explain that one?


I'm about to detonate and demonstrate...

Why does the news of my day always have to play out like a Clint Eastwood movie? Specifically The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: An Apple Store is moving in literally about four blocks from where I work. Okay so this is good news for my Mac Whoredom while spelling disastrous news for my wallet. I wonder if they need part-time help? But, hey, we are getting a tax refund, so that's good, too!

The Bad: My two-month old 8GB Toshiba thumbdrive began a quick decay last night. I plugged it into my Mac to open up a post I had written and intended to use today only to discover that the post file was bad as well as one other folder with a couple of PDFs I used for taxes yesterday. I thought it was a PC glitch since I'd copied the files to the thumbdrive on a Windows machine and tried to open on a Mac. So I checked it on a Dell laptop I had at home. No luck. Couldn't even delete the bad files. I took it back to the Mac and discovered...

The Ugly: My only copy of a Web site I had worked on for a friend had now gone bad as well. In the time it took to move the thumbdrive from one computer to the other, the entire folder had corrupted. And it was my only copy. I kept telling myself to backup the thumbdrive to my Time Capsule, but I never got around to it. So I quickly made copies of everything else that had not yet corrupted and now I'm going to reformat the thumbdrive. The site is lost, but it's not entirely terrible because I hated what I had designed. Sure I lost an entire week's worth of work, but Katie helped me come up with what I feel will be a better design. And losing the files certainly constitutes more than enough impetus to start it over from scratch. Like I have a choice.

Still, though, the pain of knowing what happened and watching as it continued to self destruct is painful.

Tell me, is it worth reformatting a thumbdrive? Will that help?

You all know I hate crowds. People milling about, bumping into each other, spilling shit. Not fun. The only way I go to concerts is if I know I have seats which represent my own personal space.

So why did I purchase tickets to the final day of the Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday, July 19?

Aside from being slightly masochistic, THE FLAMING LIPS, baby!

Somehow or another, this indie rock festival known for having some of the best pricing around -- counter to the much more ridiculously expensive Lollapalooza Festival (although Lolla does have Depeche Mode this year), also in Chicago -- managed to land The Lips! And I am stoked. I'm going with my buddy, Eric, who got me into The Lips in the first place. No one better to go with, right?

Lips
[image courtesy of pitchforkmusicfestival.com]

But the fire is so delightful...

Sure, the weather has been anything but predictable this spring. In one week's time, we've gone from highs in the 50s and 60s to lows in the teens. But nothing, not even weathercasters prepared me for the shit I saw when I woke up this morning.

DSC03926

DSC03928

WTF 1

DSC03927

It's almost freakin' April. What the bloody hell?


It was love at first feel...

It has only taken me 34 years, but I have finally done it!

I have discovered the perfect pair of underwear that I can find readily and locally!

(and there was much rejoicing... yay.)

Men struggle with underwear. Well, finding the perfect pair anyway. You need security, comfort, flexibility, durability, and manliness while remaining relatively inexpensive. Most guys don't believe that you should ever have to spend a Victoria's Secret level of cash in order to keep our junk in.

After growing up as a briefs kid, I gave them up for boxer briefs. But finding the perfect pair was a pain in the ass, if you'll excuse the pun. There are always problems. And what makes it worse is that, unlike normal clothing, you can't try them on before or return them after purchase. It sucks.

Gostretchclassic Jockey, however, has THE PERFECT PAIR OF BOXER BRIEFS! They're called the Midway Brief Underwear (I've opted for the GO Stretch Classic and not in white) and they're form-fitting, flexible, long, comfortable as all hell, and I've just purchased 10 pair of the damn things. Of course, I got them from the Jockey Outlet so they were 40% off the regular price. I also threw out a vast majority of the underwear I currently own that were effectively held together by threads simply because I couldn't stand the thought of having to get rid of them for other untested pairs.

The best part about them for me is that they never "quit." Meaning that the legs of them never relax so that they stop hugging my legs. They always remain stretched around my thigh wholly and wonderfully. I hate quitters, be they underwear, socks, shirt collars, whatever. Quitters are evil and must be destroyed.

I swear I feel like I'm wearing nothing at all. It's like having really flexible bike shorts without the judgment and public ridicule.

And, before you ask, I'm not about to post a picture of myself with my new underwear. So don't even ask.

Wait. You really do want to see a picture of me? Seriously? Are you twisted?

Fine, just to sate your curiosity, I'll link to a picture of me and my underwear. I wouldn't want to scare readers away so I'll keep it off the main page. But take a peek only if you dare.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I saw a Tweet and link a little while ago from @andersoncooper asking, "Is this planet getting crowded or is it just me?" It's a pretty interesting article he writes and I was wondering what all of you think about the topic.

Personally, I do feel the world is getting too crowded. No, I'm not going to start advocating some sort of Swiftian remedy to the situation, but it's getting bad. Our resources seem to be drying up faster than we can create replacements. Space is getting tight. And then there's this damned global recession. Fun, huh?

I gotta admit I like the final sentence, "And you thought the Octomom had problems."


Says they all know her name...

The blogosphere, nay, the world just got a little less interesting... a little less hopeful... a little less bright...

Lisa Kelly, known to many of you as Clusterfook, lost her fight with cancer last night at 11:30 p.m., EST.

While I'm happy she is no longer experiencing the pain that this despicable illness caused her, I am sad for her husband, her children, her friends, and all of us who were given the blessing of sharing in her life even if just in the virtual sense of it all.

Lisakelly
Rest in Peace, Lisa. We love you.


Love letters in the sand...

I know today is Self-Love Day, but before I detail why I love myself, I want to make quick mention of the other holiday that shares this date...

Happy Valentine's Day!

To all of you, to your friends, to your families, to all my friends and family members. But, most importantly, to Katie. I love you, hon.

And I guess the reason why I started this way was because it does work itself in nicely with Self-Love Day. For me, a lot of the things I love about myself revolve around Katie. I know that sounds cheesy, but it's true.

Selflove2009altI love my life. It's not perfect in any way, shape or form, but I love it because Katie is in it with me and she loves me as much as I love her. I'm not an easy person to live with. Hell, there are times I've wanted to break up with myself. But Katie has shown an infinite amount of patience with me, which has, in turn, helped me improve my own ability to be patient with others.

Before you laugh or cry foul in my comments because, like you, I have also read some of my ranting posts expressing hatred with others and their stupidity, do take note of one thing... just because I feel I have patience doesn't mean that everyone out there deserves to be a recipient of said patience. I will select those I feel deserve my being patient with them.

I also love my willingness to try new things. There are very few things that I am completely unwilling to try at least once. Life is too short to be closed minded about new experiences. I want to live life as much as I can and so much as our bank account will allow us to (okay, so there is one restricting factor).

And, finally, I love that I'm a sap. I love being romantic when I can. I love public displays of affection, within reason. I love that I watch romantic comedies and enjoy them and that two of my favorite movies of all time are Sleepless in Seattle and Notting Hill. Does this make me less of a man? I'd argue no.

I'd better stop now or I'm going to have nothing left for the Fourth Annual Self-Love Day.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): As you know, this day now also has a bit of a somber side to it for me being a graduate of Northern Illinois University and this being the first anniversary of the campus shootings that took the lives of five innocent students.

The university is holding some memorial services today as well as an art exhibit and wreath presentations. Katie and I were going to attend, but she's pretty sick right now and we're going to stay in.

So I'd just like to take a moment to remember those five students who lost their lives one year ago today... Catalina Garcia, 20, of Cicero; Julianna Gehant, 32, of Mendota; Ryanne Mace, 19, of Carpentersville; Gayle Dubowski, 20, of Carol Stream; and Daniel Parmenter, 20, of Westchester.

Memorials
[Taken by me one year ago. Hey, Chicagoist picked up on this photo today.]


Listen to the math...

On Tuesday night, Katie invited me to go to school with her. No, not one that she's teaching, but one that she was attending. Why? They were going to be meeting a pretty special guy named Mike Byster, also known as the "Human Calculator" and the creator of Brainetics. Here's a quick video introducing him. It's about seven minutes long.

Simply put, this guy is amazing. He spent nearly two hours with a group of about 50 adult students as well as some spouses and children showing them how he uses patterns and alternate methodology to solve math problems, all in his head. And then he taught us how to do it. Scarily enough, it works.

But the best part is that he's not a hardnosed mathematician. Heck, he's not even a mathematician at all. He's a guy who has discovered he has a gift for math and enjoys it so much that he wants to share this gift... for free. He makes 500 school appearances a year and doesn't charge one red cent. He just feels it's that important to get kids to enjoy learning. 

I remember being in school and being graded not just on having the right answer, but the way in which I discovered the answer. And it had better be the same way the teacher did it. Hell, that was half my grade most of the time. Mike thinks this is the wrong way to go. Sure you can grade students on how they do it, but you have to be open to new ideas that they come up with so long as they can be proven to work consistently.

He told a story about being on some Chicago news show when he was younger demonstrating his abilities. The host asked if he could do anything else and Mike asked if they had a deck of cards. He showed how with just a glance, he could tell which one card was missing from a deck and also showed how to count cards. This news show predated the World Wide Web, so there was no way for anyone else to really see it around the country quickly. But, within a few hours of it airing, he received notification from nearly every casino in the US that he was blacklisted. Heh.

I sincerely wish this guy was my math teacher in grade school.

</pining>

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Hey lady, what part of the signs that read "Cell Phone Use is Strictly Prohibited in the Gym" are you having trouble with? I don't seem to recall any caveats that say "If you're on a treadmill, go ahead and take a call" or "feel free to talk loudly on the phone while using the leg adductor or leg extension machines," do you?

Please show me where it says you can do this.

You can't?

Oh.

THEN LEAVE THE DAMN CELLPHONE IN YOUR LOCKER OR CAR OR I'M GOING TO PUT IT SOME PLACE WHERE YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO ANSWER A CALL AGAIN!

</hateful.ranting>


Never gonna give you up...

BarackObamaThe day is here and, despite my cynicism, I must admit that I am trying to be hopeful. I am willing myself to actually believe in a politician for once in my life and be open to new ideas.

I think my biggest reason for wanting to believe in President Obama is because so much of the rest of the world, outside the borders of the U.S., also believes in him. It's been a long time since the global community has had faith in us as a country, a helluva long time, and I hope it continues. I hope our relationship with the rest of the world improves. It needs to. Desperately.

To be honest, it's been a long time since I've had faith in us as a country. My faith needs to improve. Desperately. But I'm trying. I really am. And I hope this new administration is a step in the right direction.

Congratulations, President Obama. Welcome to the Oval Office.

Oh, and sorry if the title gave you an Astley-sized earworm.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, not totally. It is all Obama related. But, all the cool kids are doing it, so I wanted to as well.


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."


Ode to Joy...

Well, more accurately, An Ode to Pat and Lisa...

It was a quiet morning, the ninth of December,
A day the state will forever remember.

The Feds pulled up and knocked on the door,
Of our governor whose jaw dropped to the floor.

Is this a prank, a joke, a really bad gag?
No sir, you're under arrest, tell your hag.

Word spread like wildfire, news crews deploy,
to cover the fourth busted gov in Illinois.

A Senate seat they claim he tried to sell,
"Golden" he called it. For free? Like hell.

Mr. Fitzgerald, our shining white knight,
Explained to the press the extent of our plight.

Seventy-six pages, the charges did span,
Read it all through? I doubt any [bleep]er can.

The crimes were varied and truly quite stunning,
Were Blago and company really that cunning?

What kind of idiot would be such a yutz,
And effectively kick his state in the nuts?

If we're lucky, Lisa Madigan will succeed,
At reclaiming the power on which Blago does feed.

If Roddie is allowed to continue his reign,
The people of Illinois will keel over in pain.

Appoint friends and family? Flush our taxes down the loo?
Or maybe just give Obama's seat to some yahoo.

The hellish possibilities cause uncomfortable laughter,
So please Patrick and Lisa, end this sad chapter!


I never said I was a good poet.

Hey, and if you're reading this on any site or feed that doesn't have "kapgar" in there somewhere, it's stolen! Come on over to www.kapgar.com to read the real deal!


Chicago is...

I love Chicago.

It's the greatest city in the whole damn world.

Fantastic people. Delicious food. Beautiful skyline. Great shopping. Exciting (albeit ultimately unsuccessful of late) sports teams.

BlagoI love the state of Illinois and many other cities as well including Geneva, where I currently live, and many other suburbs.

This is, simply put, a great goddamn state.

And, yet, today marks the first time I'm ashamed to admit I am an Illinoisan.

Fuckin' Blago.

'nuff said.


When I'm gone...

It's pretty old news by now, but famed author Michael Crichton has died. He succumbed to an extended, and very private, battle with cancer.

Reading through a few articles about him, it amazed me how much he's done in his 66 years. The man was what you could legitimately call "accomplished." Let's see, according to The Wik, he has been published 25 times with #26 on the way, he's a doctor, he was a visiting lecturer in anthropology, he co-created one of the longest running medical dramas in the history of television (ER), he co-wrote some screenplays, he developed a few video games, he saw several of his novels turned into movies, he even directed one of them. There's more.

I was aware of most of these facts in some form over the years. But, as a lot of knowledge tends to do, things slip out of your mind when you have little to no need for it. So reading it all again was a bit overwhelming and made me feel like I had accomplished very little in life. Many people make me feel that way, in fact.

That's when I started trying to think about how I'd want to be remembered if I were to die right now. If my life ended, what do I want everyone to remember?

That is definitely not an easy question to answer.

Perhaps as a loyal and loving husband with a penchant for entertaining on the Web? Can my drivel even be considered "entertaining"? Damn, maybe I should just stick to "loyal and loving husband."

What about you?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Because sometimes I get cravings. And I'm not even pregnant.

The motley crew

No, not necessarily all at the same time. That would just be weird.


I'm half the man I used to be...

I did it. I voted.

I know I was leaning toward voting on the actual day, but I was starting to worry about just how late I would be to work and how frustrated I would feel sitting in that line for so damn long.

Funny thing, though... you remember how I was talking about how I hate when people stop up the line ahead of me and I can't do anything about it? Well, I was that person last night at early voting.

The woman at the desk was trying to check me in and print my registration verification sticker when she discovered a bit of an abnormality... I was registered twice! Both registrations had the same first and last name, home address, phone number, and birthday. The only difference was that one used my middle initial, while the other used my full middle name.

I didn't have my registration card on me. I've never carried it. Never needed it. Until now, apparently. So one of the only two people verifying registrations had to stop and call into the clerk's office to find out which one was the real me. That took another 10 minutes.

I'm just thankful that nobody in line behind me was as overtly pissy about what I was doing to them as I likely would've been to anyone doing that to me. Irony, eh?

I guess I take "vote early, vote often" to a whole new level.

Oh, and, no, I did not get an "I Voted" sticker. They'd been out of them for two days at that point. Good sign for overall voter turnout considering they never usually run out of those things over the course of the entire election. But I've got friends on the inside who might be able to score me a couple of them.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This is one of those things you never think you'd have to ask a realtor, but I suppose it's better to be safe than sorry.

Branson West, Missouri, has a problem. A not-so-tiny, eight-legged problem that comes in the form of tarantulas. Some of these beasts can get as big as a dinner plate and can often be found in swarms crossing neighborhood streets. Apparently, they're everywhere in the town and officials have asked residents to hold back on killing them as they eat the scorpions that are also a town pest.

Tarantulas? Scorpions? Am I in the Suburban Twilight Zone here?

Um... screw that. I'm never going anywhere near western Missouri again. Unless it's St. Louis, I want nothing to do with it. And even then... (just joshin' you, ajooja).


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.


Wouldn't you love somebody to love...

I hesitate to post this simply because I know what I'm doing is akin to tasering a bear and sticking around to laugh, but fuck it. For the record, this is the post I referred to last Tuesday.

Please note, what lies beneath is not an endorsement of McCain in any way whatsoever. I have my issues with him as well, but so many people have been so wont to point them out in their own blogs that I just don't see the need. This post is simply my take on the Obama campaign.

As a warning, much like Dave's well-crafted post about McCain's "support" (HA! I made a funny) of veterans, any comment that is too vitriolic or just plain inconsiderate will be deleted right off the bat. It's my blog and y'all are working under my rules here. Sign the release at the door and deal with it, okay?

Why I Don't Know If I'm Ready to Vote For Obama:
A Study in Voter Indecisiveness

by Kevin Apgar

Most of you know that I'm not decided when it comes to the Great Presidential Election of 2008. I've made no bones about it whatsoever... I don't know who I want to vote for. Obama/Biden? McCain/Palin? Hell if I know. I have no prObama icons adorning my site nor do I admin a blog all about my right wing leanings. Sure, it seems as though Sarah Palin should really be making the decision easier for me, but, still I have an unease about Barack Obama that I've had difficulty putting into words.

But I'm going to try anyway.

I'm no political expert. I don't know everything there is to know. In fact, my knowledge probably borders closer to "nothing" than to "everything." I tend to vote more with my heart or my gut rather than my brain. That's the way it's always been. I get a feeling about somebody and that feeling turns into my drive to vote one way or the other. It's not always the issues that sway me as no one candidate has ever fully represented my diverse beliefs. I am the ultimate fence rider and damn if it isn't uncomfortable. I've been asking for years to have that rusty old chain-link jobber replaced with a nicer rounded-top picket fence, but no. I'm forced to sit astride this nasty ass pokey fence as my beliefs get split between two parties.

Hence my Heart-Gut Voting Technique (tm). And I've got a relatively large gut whose instincts should never be questioned (I did vote against Bush both times, dammit; now you tell me who's right).

Most of you should know that I live in Illinois. If you didn't, I'm not sure how you missed it. But here I am settling any question of that whatsoever. I live in the far western suburbs of Chicago about dead center between the city and Rockford. Barack Obama is our Senator. We voted for him a few years ago to represent us in Washington.

And I think many of us are still waiting for him to represent us.

You see, I, like some other Illinoisans feel like we've gotten the shaft by Obama. Maybe "shaft" is the wrong word to use here. But consider this... he came tearing through our state making promises of cleaning up the years of problems that we've had. He would be Our Guy in D.C. We bought into it lock, stock, and barrel. And some of us are still hoping for that change. It almost seems as though he won that election and has since been on a whirlwind tour of the world in preparation for what was the inevitable... running for president of our fair country.

Right about now I feel like a kid who's been bullied in the schoolyard for years. The bullies have taken my lunch money, beat me to a bloody pulp, and left me crying in a mud puddle. The principal isn't doing shit about it either. Now, here comes the new kid in school. He comes rushing in, pushes the bullies down, and takes my hand to help me up. I'm starstruck. This new kid is the epitome of cool. You know how the saying goes, "all the girls want him, all the guys want to be him." However, as soon as I start to get up, he spies the head cheerleader on the side smiling and lets go of my hand. He walks away and I fall back down in the mud as the bullies start to walk back my way smiling menacingly.

It's the truth. Illinois has had nothing but bad Governor after bad Governor for years. Our political offices have been embroiled in scandal after scandal. Three former governors were convicted of white collar crimes including Otto Kerner, Jr., Dan Walker, and George Ryan. Currently, we're saddled with the joy that is Rod "Blago" Blagojevich.

Then along comes Obama and we finally start to see a light at the end of this otherwise dark and infinite tunnel. No, not in the Governor's seat, but just a shining knight of a politician who was making promises to change how business is done. I feel, though, that I have yet to emerge from the proverbial tunnel. As I approach its terminus, it stretches out another hundred or so feet. Enough to keep it in sight, but also enough to keep it out of reach.

I realize I should be thinking of the bigger picture. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. The "many" being the country and the "few" being my state. Yeah, I get it.

Right now, though, it's hard not to think about my state. Why? Because Obama made promises to us. Promises I feel he has yet to live up to. And this colors my view of his ability to run our country. Will he keep those promises? I hope so. He'll certainly have time this go round since it's not like there's a bigger ship for him to jump to once he's President. If he makes it, he's hopefully in it for the long haul.

Another negative lies in the knowledge that if/when Obama wins his White House bid, his replacement in the Senate will be chosen by Blago. It could be anyone, including Blagojevich himself. And, considering the fact that popular opinion is currently weighing heavily against him (a mere 37% approval rating as of 9/22/08), there is a strong possibility that in order to maintain some semblance of power, he could nominate himself for the position. That scares me even more than saying "President Hillary Clinton."

Before I get lambasted here, I'm not against a woman in the White House, nor am I against an African American. What I am against is the campaign process; a time during which it seems candidates do nothing but say what they think you want to hear. And we, as voters, must decide whose cup of Kool Aid we want to sip from. I'm a cynic by nature. I am very mistrusting of human nature. I lock my office door at work when I'm not there. Instead of admiring decorations around our house, I take mental bets on what's going to be stolen first. I'm not sure I've been given enough reason to pick Obama's cherry Kool Aid over McCain's tropical punch. Both are mighty fine in their own right and damn tasty; and, considering the last eight years, I'm pretty damn parched.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm still waiting for my ideal candidate. I have no idea who it could possibly be. But the two parties (the fact that it's still just two parties that dominate our political frontier makes my blood boil), I think, need to work harder at finding the best candidate for the position. Given another four or eight years and a chance to prove himself as a Senator, Obama might be that guy. Right now, I just don't know.

But I guess I'd better freakin' decide soon.


The old man is snoring...

From what I've read, "remnants" of Hurricane Ike hit us here in Geneva yesterday. I'm having trouble believing it was from Ike. Seems far too soon since the 'cane only made landfall early Saturday morning (like 1 a.m., wasn't it?). But, if they say it, I guess it's true. Anyway, got some photos and video of all that happened in our neighborhood. We actually had to cancel plans because all the routes out of our neighborhood were flooded beyond driveability. But it certainly made for good camera stuffs.

Here are some photos...

And here are a few different videos for your viewing enjoyment...


Ike in Geneva, part 1 from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.


Ike in Geneva, part 2 from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.


Ike in Geneva, part 3 from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Congratulations to Kristy Brown for correctly guessing the order slip challenge from yesterday. The pizzas we ordered were a medium stuffed with cheese and spinach and a medium thin crust with sausage and pepperoni.

The sausage and pepperoni was pretty obvious. But the other... "POPY"... was not poppy seeds or poopie or anything like it. According to the guy at Giordano's, they were going to use SP for spinach but they already used that abbreviation for their special pizza. So they came up with "POPY" meaning Popeye who eats spinach. And it has stuck. Cool.


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!


Didn't we almost have it all...

It's truly sad sometimes how we, as human beings, fight.

We can find the smallest, most insignificant thing out there and turn it into something blown completely out of proportion and use that to justify holding a grudge against our fellow man for longer than it deserves.

Take, for example, a couple people I know... they fall on opposite sides of a long-standing rivalry. And lately, with news that has been coming out, it has become even more bitter. Information has leaked in the press that has made one side feel more, shall we say, righteous than the other. This side thinks that this information ensures that they will win while the other will suffer a crushing defeat.

I found these two friends fighting today. Slinging barbs and arrows back and forth while many of their shared friends just watched. They were stunned into silence; afraid to say anything at all.

I came in on the middle of it and I only wish I hadn't appeared at all.

I have a take on the whole issue. I have a side that I ally myself with. But sometimes, especially in instances such as this, I keep that affiliation to myself. I don't want to alienate friends I have that fall on one side or the other.

So, being the self-appointed peacemaker, I took it upon myself to do what none of our other friends were daring enough to do, I attempted to separate them. My hope was that by forcing some space between them, I could calm them down and maybe make them see each other's side and come to some sort of understanding.

In the midst of my negotiations, I slipped. I said something that revealed my true colors and made one side realize that I couldn't possibly see their viewpoint. That I would never understand why they believed the way they do and why they support who they do.

I guess, if nothing else, the heat was taken off my one friend while I became the target of the verbal onslaught. I tried to calm this person down, but nothing I said seemed to penetrate their skull and lodge itself in their brain.

Finally, I walked away. What else could I do? When people get this heated, the best thing to do is remove yourself immediately and definitively.

But it still hurts. The words sting. The looks burn.

Fuckin' White Sox fans.

Go Cubs.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I think I'm going to brutally hurt the owner of the next gas station I visit that advertises one price on their street-side sign only to discover, after I pull in and shut down my engine, that this is the post-carwash-purchase price.

SHOULD BE FREAKIN' ILLEGAL!!! Isn't that a form of bait and switch?


Who are you, who, who...

I have a question for you, why, in the modern age of information "acquisition" via the Web, would anyone want to be a celebrity of any kind?

Five days ago, I'd venture a guess that 90-95% of Americans had never heard of Sarah Palin, the two-year governor of our northernmost and largest state, Alaska. This would qualify her as pretty much a "nobody," wouldn't you say?

Now, ever since she was chosen as John McCain's running mate on the Republican ticket, we likely know more about her than she does. Let's recap what we've learned, shall we? I do not vouch for the accuracy of these statements; they are just what I've heard. And I also leave it up to you to decide if they are good or bad; I'm not passing judgment in my recapping of them.

  • SarahpalinShe's a MILF
  • She's a former beauty pageant contestant
  • She's a hunter
  • She's a supporter of the NRA
  • She can certainly handle an assault rifle and look good doing it
  • She has interesting taste in clothing from time to time
  • She's married to an Eskimo
  • She has five children
  • Her eldest son is shipping out to Iraq
  • Her youngest daughter has Down's syndrome
  • Her youngest daughter may actually be the daughter of her eldest daughter
  • Her eldest daughter is pregnant and it may or may not be her second child
  • She's embroiled in "Troopergate" which involved her brother in law (I think), abuse at the barrel of his gun, pressure applied to have him fired, and the ousting from office of the guy who refused to fire him (sound correct?)

The Modern Muckraking Machine (tm) is clearly set on lethally efficient, isn't it? I mean DAYAMN! I've seen people in the limelight torn asunder, but never this quickly.

No, this does not mean she's getting some sort of sympathy vote from me come November. She is a Republican, after all, and I think that means she's born with slightly thicker skin than many. But it doesn't mean I feel any less badly for her.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Oh if only you could've been a fly on the wall for Katie's and my games of Uno last night. You would've been privy to such gems as:

  • Fucker
  • Sonuvabitch
  • Kiss my ass
  • I hate you
  • Can I just win one fucking game?
  • I'd like to be able to say "Uno" just once, dammit
  • Someone doesn't want sex ever again

Yeah, "fun for the entire family," my ass.


Wake me up inside...

*BZZZT*

*BZZZT*

From: 62262
Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee.
Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on www.BarackObama.com.
Spread the word!
2:43am 8/23/08

2:43?? Seriously, Barack? You couldn't have told us this at a HUMAN hour??

I signed up to receive updates via text message so I could know "first." In my mind, "first" shouldn't have to be at 2:43 a.m.

*DELETE*

[For the record, this does not mean I'm voting for Obama. I just want to keep up on the news... even at ungodly fuckin' hours.]


Take a walk on the wild side...

In an age where portable devices are becoming more and more prevalent, you knew that legislation would follow. Some states are banning the use of cellphones without headsets while driving. Some are banning text messaging while driving. Some are just passing legislation for younger drivers.

In all, I agree with all of them. Anything to make these hellish roads safer.

But this one is a little odd. Some politicos in Chicago are pushing to make the use of wireless devices while walking illegal.

Upon first read, this sounds ridiculous. Then you hear that it's actually only for those people in crosswalks. That's when it starts to make more sense. People don't pay attention anymore, period. Now we have the attention paid to handheld devices making it even worse.

However, I have to ask, exactly what will be banned? It sounds like it's just texting, but I've seen enough idiots talking on the phone and strolling out into traffic as though all cars should stop for them. Will they ban talking on the phone as well? Must you then use a hands-free headset to talk? Will my fear of a world full of cyborgs with machinery sticking out the sides of the skulls be realized? What about Web browsing or scrolling through a playlist on an iPod? Sure an iPod isn't "wireless" in the same sense that a cell phone is, but it can be just as distracting.

Well, one thing's for sure... the Chicago Police Department will finally have legitimate justification for their fleet of Segways.

Hey, got a meme for you in the extended post. Enjoy.

Continue reading "Take a walk on the wild side..." »


Uh-oh, let's go...

Intellectual Property Rights (regarding music; from Wikipedia):
Intellectual property rights are a bundle of exclusive rights over creations of the mind, both artistic and commercial. The former is covered by copyright laws, which protect creative works such as books, movies, music, paintings, photographs, and software and gives the copyright holder exclusive right to control reproduction or adaptation of such works for a certain period of time.

I studied Intellectual Property Rights (also known as "IPR") back in grad school because it was a big deal regarding my field of study, which was communication and media. We talked constantly about IPR, copyright, trademarks, copylefts (yes, that's a real term), and what constituted a violation of each of these.

Basically, what we learned is that when someone else tries to use an artist's IPR for personal gain or to deny said artist from their right to gain material wealth through illegal acquisition or distribution of material, the artist has the right to recoup losses (read "sue your pants off").

And now, knowing what I do, I have to ask... why is Prince being such a prick?

Yes, I'm referring to the artist formerly known as Prince Rogers Nelson, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, and TAFKAP. The guy who sings classics like "Little Red Corvette," "1999," and "Nothing Compares 2 U."

Now, Prince is claiming all kinds of IPR and copyright infringement is happening to his property over on YouTube (I apologize if this is old news to many of you. I only recently realized this is affecting someone I know).

At this year's Coachella festival, Prince performed the song "Creep." Some fans, who had never heard him play the song before, captured it using the video modes of their cellphones and/or digital cameras and posted it to YouTube. Prince, in an effort to protect himself and his performance, claimed copyright/IPR infringement and had YouTube pull the video.

The catch here? The reason that nobody had ever heard him perform the song before and why they were so excited and wanted to capture it is because IT'S NOT HIS SONG! The song "Creep" was written by and rights to it owned by the band Radiohead. Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, found out that Prince had performed the song and, when guitarist Ed O'Brien tried to watch the video on YouTube, he was denied access to it. Yorke was none too happy claiming that rights to the song belong to the band and not to Prince and, therefore, TAFKAP has no right to block the song.

I'm not entirely sure how this one panned out as yet.

In another case, mother, blogger, two-time GBBMC participant, and all-around LOLcat lover Stephanie Lenz, also known as Edenza of So Anyway..., is going to court this Friday to defend herself and her toddler son, Holden, against charges of copyright infringement being brought by, as p2pnet is calling him, "his Purpleness" and Vivendi Universal.

Wanna know what she did? She took a 29-second video of her son bopping along in the family kitchen to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." 29 FRIGGING SECONDS of which the audio quality is so bad, you cannot even tell it's the Prince song for the first five to eight seconds. Now she has to defend her "illegal" actions, with the help of the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) thankfully, in court.

If anybody were making money off that rightfully belonged to Prince in either case, then I might be able to see Prince's side of the argument. However, he is neither the copyright holder of Radiohead's song, nor is Edenza trying to make money off the video she posted. She thought it was funny. It is. I've seen the video. P2Pnet has it on the linked page above.

If it was the full version of the song at an audio level such that people could capture it and save it to their computers or iPods in lieu of buying the real song themselves, Prince would have a case. Here he does not. Why not sue me for using three or four words of lyrics from his songs in the title of this post? That's about all the validity this case has.

I want to know what crawled up Prince's ass sideways and is now permanently roosting there. To paraphrase Ferris Bueller (please don't sue me, Matthew Broderick), "If you were to shove a lump of coal up Prince's ass, in two weeks you'd have diamonds (and pearls)."

HA! See what I did there? Oh never mind.

Good luck, Edenza. We're pulling for you.

[Correction thanks to Avitable... This Friday, Edenza, along with help from the EFF, is taking Universal Vivendi to court saying that they violated her legally protected fair use of the song with claims of copyright infringement.]

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): This was supposed to be part of yesterday's Snippet Wednesday, but I forgot. Now I've found an article to go with it.

Nestle's Spinach Artichoke Chicken Lean Pockets are being recalled because something went wonky at the processing plant and some of them wound up with bits of plastic in them. Oh yay!

Somewhere, a falsetto'd Jim Gaffigan is chiming in, "Recalled Pockets."


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.