News 2009

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 Jägerbombs?

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?


I am the hunter...

I am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

I have skills that far supercede any mere mortal when it comes to the trapping and elimination of small furry rodents.

BobaFettI am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

When most people fail to capture their disease-laden adversaries, I succeed.

I am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

I am Boba Fett facing down a Wookiee. Dog the Bounty Hunter to a bail jumper. Chris Hansen to MySpace pedophiles.

I am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

In the last two years, I have, with the help of the Great White Mouse Huntress (Katie), killed four furry invaders as of this morning. Three in the house with traps and one outside with a car.

I am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

Our trap-laying skills are second to none. When we lay a trap, it is thought out carefully and with effectiveness in mind. When a trap is set, we will catch you.

I am the Great White Mouse Hunter.

Now if only someone else would come along and pick up the carcasses. I hate that part.

I have renamed my iPod. It was Snap-P because my nickname in high school was "Snappy" (before you ask, no). Now it's iSonic. Why? Because apparently my iPod has an obsession with the music of Sonic Youth.

When on Shuffle, a Sonic Youth song seems to pop up one in every 10 or 15 songs. This has been going on for about two months now. And I only have 110 Sonic Youth songs of the 5,584 total songs on my iPod.

Not that I'm complaining. Sonic Youth is on there for a reason.


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."


Dance, dance, we're falling apart to half time...

Katie and I watched the season premiere of Dancing With the Stars last night. We weren't planning to. Honestly. This despite the fact that one of my lifelong celebrity crushes, Belinda Carlisle, formerly of The Go-Go's, was going to participate.

The only reason we decided to watch was to see who was going to replace the injured Jewel and Nancy O'Dell at the last second.

And I truly wish we didn't watch it at all.

Why? Allow me to tell you.

My honey, Belinda, was the second to dance last night. And at some point during the dance, my wife blurts out, "My God, she looks like Priscilla Presley."

"No she doesn't."

"Yes, she does!"

"Be quiet! That's Belinda Carlisle! My number two all-time crush! She most certainly is NOT Priscilla Presley."

"But look at her, they've made her up so heavily that they look alike."

The sad thing is I was beginning to see it, too. Now, all I can think of when I see Belinda is Priscilla. And not even the good Naked Gun Priscilla.

Here is some empirical evidence for you.

  Belinda   Priscilla
Belinda Carlisle and partner Jonathan Roberts, left, and
Priscilla Presley with partner Louis Van Amstel, right.


Katie said she didn't even really watch much of the rest of Belinda's dance because she was looking over at me watching as my heart broke.

*sniffle*

I guess I will always have Elisabeth Shue, right?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Oh this one's just too good to not share.

The Vatican released a paper titled "The Washing Machine and the Liberation of Women - Put in the Detergent, Close the Lid and Relax." Can you possibly guess what it's about? Apparently they think the washing machine has done more for the women's lib movement than the pill or the right to work and, although it doesn't say it, I would assume they lump in the right to vote as well.

World - 3; Catholic Church - 0. Let's recap...

Priests with a proclivity toward molestation of young boys...

Excommunicating the doctors and mother of a nine-year-old girl who was given an emergency abortion while forgiving the stepfather who committed the crime (thank you for that link, Nat)...

Hey Vatican, would you like a backhoe to help make the process easier?


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.