News 2007

Just as they play your favourite song...

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

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

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

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


Let's hear it for the man...

Today's post is dedicated to my buddy Karl. And I'm sure Hilly will join in my celebratory mood, too!

Merriam-Webster has added the new Word of the Year to its dictionary. The word? w00t!

Some of you may be wondering "what the hell," so here you go...

Basically, "w00t" is a combination of letters and numbers that are known as l33t ("leet," short for "elite") speak. In this case, they form an onomatopoeia of sorts for the tendency of some people to cheer by going "woot woot woot!" This was used most popularly by Julia Roberts' character in Pretty Woman as well as by former talk show host Arsenio Hall.

Maybe you're still wondering "what the hell." I wouldn't blame you.

So here it is straight from the horse's, er, M-W's mouth...

"It shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language. It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other," said Merriam-Webster President John Morse. Apparently, they also liked it because it represented a blending of whimsy and technology. Okay, whatever.

Yeah, occasionally I've been known to w00t it up in the blogiverse. But to add it to the dictionary? I'm not so sure about that.

Yet, it still won out amongst a class of 20 nominees.

Those other words must've sucked something fierce.

But I do think visiting Karl's site and leaving him a comment of congratulations on this verbalistic accomplishment (of which I'm sure he's very proud) is very much in order.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): The walls are coming along in case any of you were wondering what has been happening with that project. They have all been stripped and plastered and are mostly primed right now. We hope to start painting the ceiling and maybe even the walls this weekend. Please pray for us as this project has proven to be a severe bitch. But it's certainly looking good. It feels like we've got a whole new living room.


When the lights go down in the city...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


It’s old scruffy teddy, he’s been around for years...

This is one of those news bits that tends to push me ever closer to the proverbial precipice... just teetering between sanity and pure lunacy. God only knows what it would take to tip me that final bit over the edge.

Gillian Gibbons, a teacher from Liverpool, England, UK, working in Khartoum, Sudan, was arrested recently for committing blasphemy.

the Sudan, like many Middle Eastern nations, takes religion deadly seriously. And, I suppose, it's their right to do so. I, as a citizen of the United States, do not have to take it quite so seriously. I can choose to accept religious thought, discount it entirely, or pick and choose as I please. But my willy-nilly approach would not likely fly in any Middle Eastern country.

My big beef, though, is with the action that Gibbons performed that was deemed to be blasphemous. She had introduced a Teddy bear in her classroom of seven year olds and gave them the opportunity, as a group, to name the bear. One child suggested the name Muhammad, not just because it is one of the most popular names in both Sudan and the Middle East as a whole, but also because it was his own name. The children voted and Muhammad came out the winner.

One child told his parents of what transpired in class and the proverbial shit hit the fan. Apparently, the name is so sacred that it is considered blasphemy to use it as a name for an inanimate object such as a Teddy bear.

Now this poor teacher, if convicted, could face 4o lashes, a fine, or six months behind bars... FOR NAMING A TEDDY BEAR!!!!!

What the holy hell is wrong with this world??? The woman made a mistake. Actually, it wasn't even she who made the mistake. Her pupils, having been raised in that culture, should have known better and advised against what was happening. But no. Now she will pay the price for what is, ultimately, just plain idiocy. It's not as though she was intentionally trying to offend anyone or a whole region. She was just engaging her students in an act of childhood innocence... the naming of a stuffed animal. If officials would give her the chance to apologize, I'm sure she would do so without even thinking twice about it. And the rest of the world would have learned a lesson as well. And you might gain the respect of people around the world for having used a more positive form of reinforcement.

Give the lady a break.

P.S. I think I'm going out to buy a Teddy bear and name it Muhammad. That's my show of opposition against this stupidity.


Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'...

Katie and I were watching the news the other day and they had a special about successful women in the workplace and how difficult their personal lives are as a result of their professional ones. It was so bad, in fact, that one of the five or six women that were part of this panel interview had actually started a Web site dedicated to successful women attempting to find meaningful relationships.

This floored me. I know that there are many men who are threatened by successful women. They look at it as though their manhood is being trampled.

But I had assumed that the tide had been changing for a while now so that, ideally, maybe it would be a 50/50 split between those guys who are threatened and those who are not. From the sound of things, though, it doesn't seem as though this is the truth. It sounded as though none of the women interviewed had been able to find men who could deal with what these women represented.

Now, clearly, five or six women is not a truly representative sample of the full population of women in the workplace. In fact, it's likely that the panel members were screened ahead of time to get a sampling that was skewed in favor of the viewpoint that the news channel was hoping to present.

But, even so, you have to figure that there is still some truth to it all. And I find this sad. I find it sad that men can't handle the concept of a woman having greater success than them.

Why is it such a sin for a woman to make more money?

Katie and I decided a long time ago that, when we have kids, the one of us that is making the least money with the fewest benefits or who has the greater chance at being able to work from home would stay at home. We're both fine with this decision even now. We talked about it after the news report and we're still find with this choice.

Have any of you made this same decision? How has it worked out? Or have you been in situations similar to these women? This can be answered by the men reading this post, too. Let me know how you would feel if you were in this position.

BTW, got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "Workin' 9 to 5, what a way to make a livin'..." »


I just wanna live my life...

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

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

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

WTF?!?!

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

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

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


The sky's the limit but my plane won't fly...

Paid Time Off...

Floating Vacation Days...

Personal Days...

Basically all are just different ways of noting that I have days off coming to me at work. But they're all designated differently. Some roll over from year to year, some expire at the end of a calendar year. With all this terminology, how is one supposed to keep it all straight?

I looked at my pay stub a week ago and discovered that I have one day's worth of personal days and three days worth of floating vacation days and they have to be used by the end of the year or I will lose them. Wait a second. I went on a five-day vacation at the end of May to Las Vegas. Why weren't they used up then?

Seems in my confusion over all this terminology, I marked the wrong box on my vacation request. I made the mistake of chalking up my time off to the only option that does not expire at the end of the year. D'oh!

And now I'm in the, I suppose, enviable position of forcing myself to take four days off before December 31. I know some of you are probably wondering why I'm whining. Wouldn't we all like extra time off? Well, yeah, and I've got plenty to do at home to keep me busy what with our wall project and everything. But I've got plenty to keep me busy at work as well. And trying to plan days off around my projects is never easy.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to lose these days. That's why I'm home today. I got to sleep in and, for the first time in a long time, was actually home while Katie was leaving for work. She's usually still asleep when I leave, so this is quite the change.

So I'll do some work on the walls, surf a bit, maybe watch Hot Fuzz since I got it from Netflix, meet Katie for lunch, work out, etc.

This grand list of potential accomplishments, of course, means I might get one of the above done. Probably the one about surfing.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was in a Starbucks the other day and I noticed a sign by the register advertising a recall on children's mugs. The notice claimed that if the mug fell, it would likely shatter and, thus, create pieces with sharp edges.

Well duh.

Are we going to recall all ceramic, glass, wood, Plexiglas, and plastic products now? They all create sharp edges when broken.

Does anyone else think the Consumer Products Safety Commission is going a little overboard these days? A lot of these very same problems existed throughout my childhood and I like to think I turned out okay. I almost think the CPSC exists so people can be slack-ass parents.


Call me...

More snippety goodness...

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

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

Now you know.

And knowing is half the battle.

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

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

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

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

GRRRRRRR!!!

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

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

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

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


Tell me more, tell me more...

When you learn to write for the news, there are certain tips you are given that you should really live by no matter what. For example, if it's a press release, all the pertinent information should be conveyed right in the opening paragraph. Then, of course, there is the five Ws rule... to cover the who, what, when, where, and why (and how, too, but that's not a W).

But one of the most important rules, and one that is continually violated, is to make sure your headline grabs the reader. With attention spans as short as they are, it is important that you use your headline to draw a reader in. Sadly, in the age of the Web, when news needs to be turned around immediately, the thought process with regard to headlines isn't really there anymore. Take, as a random sample, some of the headlines on my Yahoo homepage at this moment...

Five dead in Colorado power plant accident - yeah, tragic for sure. But do I want to read more? Not really.

Isiah Thomas sexually harassed executive - any surprise here? Guess it takes the heat off his coaching inability.

Nic too cagey for home invader - boring.

Diesel, Walker reteam for new "Fast and Furious" - NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

However, once in a while you find a gem of a headline. One that is almost too perfect. It leaves you wanting to read because your mind becomes flooded with imagery regarding the substance of the article. It grabs you, shakes you awake, and makes you need to read it. This headline came from an Associated Press reprint in yesterday's Daily Herald...

Brain-eating amoeba killing more as lake waters get warmer

Say whaaa??? Who, in their right mind, wouldn't want to read about a mutant amoeba that chows on gray matter? Not me! Especially when the article comes from Phoenix, Arizona, making it that much closer to home! I want to read! Tell me that when you read this headline, you don't suddenly become bombarded with snippets from old 50s black and white horror films. Oh the possibilities elicited from such a graphic headline. This could be the start of the zombification of America! I LOVE IT!!

Before you all get on my case, I realize this is a tragedy and six people have died from it this year. That's a horrible thing, for sure. And I shouldn't make light of it, right?

Don't make light of it...

Resist temptation...

Don't say it...

Oh-no, here it comes...

It certainly does explain a lot of the people I encounter on a daily basis, though.

I tried. I really tried.


Darkness imprisoning me...

Just some snippets today...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Open up your mouth and feed it...

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

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

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

Say whaaaaaa??

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

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

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

[Thank you to Chicagoist for the update]

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

Wiizapper

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

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


To see if I still feel...

I walked into the break room at work yesterday ready to read my book. Since I was taking a very late lunch, nobody else was there so I knew I could get away with shutting off the TV without having to make sure it was okay with everyone else first. I hate trying to read with a TV going; I just keep getting distracted.

However, just as I was reaching up to hit the power button on the boob tube, a story on CNN caught my attention. It was the story of Kevin Everett, a tight end for the Buffalo Bills. In the Bills season opener this past Sunday against the Denver Broncos, Everett went in for a hit against Domenik Hixon. The two went down ending the play.

Everett2 The problem lies in that Everett never got back up. For 15 minutes he laid on the field motionless. Finally, medical staff put him on a backboard and braced his head and neck in place and he was placed into an ambulance and driven off the field to the hospital.

How did I miss this story on Sunday night?

Yesterday, he underwent more surgery. It was touch and go and he's still in intensive care. It seems extreme damage was done to one of his cervical vertebrae. Those are the ones that are really high up in the neck. When I say "really high up," I mean it... currently, he has no movement below the neck.

I love football, but hate stories like this.

Everett was playing what amounts to a game. Entertaining the masses who love to watch these brutal on-field hits. I'm sure when the hit initially occurred, the majority of people watching it live cringed and recoiled from the virtual impact, but then cheered how great a hit it was, until Everett didn't get up.

Now he may never get up again under his own power.

I hope I am wrong. I hope doctors can fix him. I hope he is able to recover and, at the very least, walk again.

To Kevin Everett and his family, my prayers are with you. Get well.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm having trouble believing that today is already September 11.

Don't worry, I'm not going to write about the tragedy of, get this, six years ago (that's tough to accept). If you want to read a well-written post about it, head over to metalmom's site. Or you can go back and read some of the posts from last year's 2,996 Project including my own entry.


Don't you know what it's really about...

I know this is a couple days late, but I was waiting for official confirmation. And we have it. Thus, I can now say that it really saddened me to learn that the hospitalization of Owen Wilson on Sunday was, in fact, related to a suicide attempt.

Owenwilson I'm not going to sit here and complain that there is no reason for Wilson to do something this stupid. Some will say that he has it all... a great job, a lot of money rolling in, scads of women, etc., etc., ad infinitum. I won't say this because obviously there is something else, something that we don't know, about which he is deeply disturbed.

I'm upset mostly because I find Owen and his brother, Luke Wilson, to be the more talented members of the so-called Frat Pack. Ben Stiller? Meh. Vince Vaughan? He's okay. Will Ferrell? Once in a blue moon. Jack Black? Nuh-uh. Steve Carell? Really only in The Office.

But I'm a fan of Owen Wilson and I just think Hollyweird would be that much less interesting should he not be with us anymore.

We'd have no more of the zaniness, the coolness, the goofy hair, the crooked nose, nor the fantastic writing that he churns out when he works with his buddy, Wes Anderson... I still think The Royal Tenenbaums is one of the most fantastically offbeat films in recent years.

Owen, I wish you the best in your recovery.


I'm stuck in Folsom Prison and time keeps draggin' on...

Snippets!

America - 1; BP - 0
Pol_hd_victory That's right, BP Amoco backed down on their plans to add thousands of pounds of ammonia and sludge daily to Lake Michigan. The outcry was likely too much of a public relations nightmare for them to handle. Protests at their gas stations and offices in the area, petitions signed, politicians vowing to find ways to stop them... I guess it all added up.

I think what really surprises me about the whole thing is that they held onto the idea that they would do this for as long as they did. I really thought the backlash would've resulted in them turning tail much sooner. Yet they kept maintaining they would do it for the sake of cheaper fuel and more jobs in the Whiting, IN, area.

I, along with the 50,000 other people who signed the online petition started by Congressman Rahm Emanuel and Senator Dick Durbin, got an e-mail regarding the victory yesterday. I just want to say that Dick Durbin has the coolest signature around. Check it out...

Durbinemanuel

I feel like Beavis. "Heh heh, he signs his name 'Dick,' heh heh."

Lindsay, Nicole and Vick... oh my!
It's weird how the world works.

Lindsay Lohan is taking a plea agreement on the multiple charges of drunken driving and drug possession she was hit with this week and she will get out after serving one day in jail. Nicole Richie, for multiple drunken driving charges, was sentenced to the same, but got out, after serving one hour and 22 minutes in jail (I'm sure she learned her lesson). People say that if they were normal, everyday folk like the rest of us, they would have gotten far greater sentences; that their celebrity status saved their butts. This is an assessment I agree with.

Then there is Michael Vick who is likely to get 12-18 months in prison for his role in dogfighting. It's a crime for which he deserves more time served, in my opinion. And now we have someone saying that an example is being made of him because he is a celebrity. If he were a normal, everyday person, he wouldn't get as stiff a sentence. I say "someone" because I only heard of one person saying this and I can't find the article about it that I read.

Can we get our stories straight, people? Are celebrities privileged or targeted? Which is it?

Davecago!
Yeah!! Davecago is happening tomorrow! Woo hoo! To be honest with you, I'm not even sure who all will be in attendance for our evening of pizza- and beer-laden debauchery, but I do know it will be fun.

I only wish Katie could be there. Her job needed her to fill in tomorrow because of someone needing an emergency day off. She might make it if she gets off work early enough, but I'm not holding my breath.


And the thunder rolls...

At approximately four o'clock this morning, I was awoken by a sudden-onset thunderstorm. Since odd weather has been the norm for the last couple weeks, it's not as though I jerked awake in bed and freaked out, I just happened to open my eyes as the thunder crashed and the lightning illuminated the interior of our townhouse. The rain was pelting our roof as well.

A couple crashes later, the power went out.

About 30 seconds after that, it came back on.

And the storm stopped. No rain, no thunder, no lightning. Not even in the distance. It was as though nothing had happened. All signs of the storm, save for the moistened ground, disappeared. In all, the storm lasted maybe two minutes.

Now that's weird.

Totally Unrelated Aside: More information about the Tiwari double murder/suicide leaks out nearly daily. I'd expect no less. It was a big deal in the area.

But this little bit really caught my attention and choked me up a bit inside.

Apparently, Anand Tiwari, the father of the two children, is trying to make the most of a horrible situation. He and his wife had the stem cells from their children preserved in case of future illness. Now, he's offering up those stem cells to children in need. He has set up a G-mail account for the purpose of allowing doctors or others to recommend needy children so they can then test for compatibility with his children's stem cells.

Wow, I really applaud him for this. It can't be an easy decision to make, but it's one that may help preserve his children's memory forever.


And I see no bravery, no bravery in your eyes anymore...

Every time I read something like this, a little piece of me dies inside.

On Saturday, Katie and I heard news about a fire in the nearby suburb of Naperville. Actually, it's the suburb where I grew up; where my parents still live. A mother and her two children were killed. I kinda dismissed it as it all seemed rather routine. A bi-product of my social desensitization, I'm sure.

However, yesterday, people at work were still talking about it nearly two days after I had forgotten it entirely.

This was when I learned that there was some suspicion regarding how the fire started. In fact, the son's death had been ruled a homicide.

Huh? How'd this come about, I thought.

So I started reading some news online about the event. But nothing was truly clarified until later that day when the Naperville Police Chief held a press conference (video playback requires Windows Media Player) and announced that the deaths were being ruled a double murder/suicide. Digital security video had been uncovered of the mother, Nimisha Tiwari, purchasing gasoline from a nearby station and then taking the kids to a local store to buy one toy each; their last toys ever.

Four-year-old Vakadham and 18-month-old Anaya's charred remains were found in their parents' bed alongside Nimisha's burned body. The new toys were also found in the bedroom. None of the three were killed on-scene and they were all transported to Edward Hospital in Naperville where Vakadham died. Anaya and Nimisha were then airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where both soon died as well.

The husband, Anand, had been in Chicago at school. He was almost immediately cleared by authorities.

Yes, the two had a troubled marriage. The police were contacted by each party after a domestic dispute. She called him domineering and abusive, both mentally and physically, accused him of using a recording device to keep tabs on her, and claimed he had opened up a separate post office box in his name. She had the courts issue an emergency restraining order in May to keep him away from her and the kids, their house, and their son's school.

He fought back saying that she was having psychological episodes that were the result of her recently diagnosed multiple sclerosis. The courts rescinded the restraining order.

Of course, the truth is only known by the two of them. So none of us truly knows who to blame in the case of their personal battles.

But to me, what it all comes down to is the children. Why did they have to be dragged into this mess? Why did they have to lose their lives as a result of this "war of the roses"?

It truly kills me to think that two parents, perceived by neighbors as normal, kind, and loving, couldn't find a way to work things out that would find the children still alive and playing with their new Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Tank Engine toys today.

And now we have a painfully distraught father who is fully cooperating with police after his wife is charged with double murder/suicide.

If he was abusive, divorce him. If divorce is not an option, run away with the children. A life on the run isn't necessarily the most favorable way to live, but you'd all be alive.

In a world where some adults would kill to be parents, we instead have parents killing kids.

That's just not right.

Rest in peace Anaya and Vakadham Tiwari and God (or whoever you pray to) help both Anand and Nimisha.

Tiwaricrosses
Photo courtesy of Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune

Flipping my iPod to shuffle yesterday on the drive home while still mentally processing all this, the first song that played was James Blunt's "No Bravery." Eerily appropriate (with some minor context shift).

Houses burnt beyond repair.
The smell of death is in the air.
A woman weeping in despair says,
He has been here.
Tracer lighting up the sky.
It's another family's turn to die.
A child afraid to even cry out says,
He has been here.

And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
Only sadness.


There goes my hero...

Yep, I've got a new hero.

His name is Ken Livingstone and he's the Mayor of London is proposing a $50 per day "green tax" for SUVs to drive in the center of London.

Excessive? Sure. But so are the gas-guzzling tendencies of sport utility vehicles.

Do I think it will stick? Not so sure about that one. But, while it bears out litigation in British courts, it will still force owners of SUVs to rethink their ways.

Gas prices in London already top out over $6 per gallon (we thought we had it bad in the States). Add to that the high price of top-of-the-line SUVs and the $16 fee that must be paid daily to enter the downtown London "congestion zone" during prime hours and it becomes pretty damned expensive.

Hey, sometimes it takes unreasonable methods to kill excessive tendencies.

I applaud the guy.


I'm all shook up...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


And I won't back down...

Four words...

The Simpsons Movie ROCKS!

Okay, now that this is out of my system.

I found this editorial in the Chicago Tribune from last Sunday and I wanted to reprint it here because it makes a great point about how out of hand corporate sponsorship is getting. I can't find it in the Tribune's online archives so, hopefully, they won't be too pissed about me retyping it here. I know not all of you are NFL fans, but please read through to the end. The point it makes, while rooted in the NFL, transcends it because I do see this happening in the normal world around us every day.

Hesterdinuzzo_2 A Word to the NFL

If you saw this photo of Devin Hester on the front page of the Tribune on Feb. 5, you may not have noticed the credit line identifying the Tribune's Nuccio DiNuzzo as the photographer. But you understood, the moment you saw this shot the day after the Chicago Bears' loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI, the sadness it captured. It was telling, poignant and unbiased -- the work of a professional.

The National Football League is trying to compromise that professionalism. The NFL has decreed that all photographers covering its games on the sidelines will be required to wear red vests that sport sponsors' logos. The NFL wants to turn news photographers into walking billboards.

The league claims the vests are necessary for security. Perhaps they are. But the advertising logos for Canon and Reebok? Most newspapers, including this one, have stringent ethics policies. Reporters and photographers are explicitly forbidden from endorsing products or profiting from  a story or event. But the NFL wants to make news photographers part of the NFL "product."

The Tribune won't allow its photographers to cover games in vests with logos. "We're not doing it," said George de Lama, the managing editor for news. "Absolutely not." If the rule doesn't change, the paper will cover the NFL without visuals.

In the late 1920s, Bears owner George Halas used to hand deliver press releases to Tribune sports editor Don Maxwell, hoping to snare some coverage.

Maybe the NFL no longer thinks it needs independent media coverage of its games. The NFL is the richest, most powerful and most popular sports league in the United States. It has its own documentary film production arm, its own Web site and, now, even its own television network. The combined television rights for its games go for billions of dollars.

But it can't slap ad logos on independent photographers.

It will be a shame if Tribune photographers don't have a chance to capture another poignant shot like this one -- or a shot of a triumphant Devin Hester at Super Bowl XLII. But they won't be on the sidelines unless the NFL backs down.

I think it's complete and utter BS the stance that the NFL is taking on this matter. They also want to ban outside news video cameras so third party news agencies have to pay for official NFL-produced footage for their nightly newscasts. I've heard that some news channels like NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox are throwing a penalty flag on this one and threatening to do something similar to what the Tribune is threatening... they'll talk about the games, but not show any footage.

The NFL needs to get its collective head out of its collective ass.


Between a rock and a hard place...

Some snippets for you today...

Typepad Outage
Yes, Typepad, the host of this and many other blogs, had a service hiccup yesterday and the system went down. Not sure how long it lasted or how many were affected, but we're back! All of us! We never left you, we swear! We're here waiting for you! Off the top of my head, this would include me, Karl, Hilly, and Nat. Not sure who else.

Lindsay Lohan
Okay, I've had enough. Less than two weeks out of rehab, after agreeing to wear a BAC anklet, you still get busted, yet again, for DUI and cocaine possession. Sorry, don't expect any sympathy from me. You need to disappear for about 5-10 years and then try a comeback. Just leave. Please. And get away from your mom. She's not helping matters at all.

Potter
No. Neither Katie nor I have even started Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet. We haven't had time. So you won't be seeing a review from me anytime soon. Sorry.

And, is it just me, or is there actually someone else out there that's not really in the mood to read this book just yet? I'm so turned off by all the hype right now that I need a little distance. But I know if I do, I stand a much greater chance of accidentally ruining the ending via Web browsing. So I'm kinda stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. Wait to read it until I'm in the mood and will enjoy it or read it now so the ending can't be ruined? Gah!!!

Moore/Braff
But I am about to turn on a friend to the wonder that is Christopher Moore's Lamb and Joshua Braff's The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green. I'm loaning her my copies. I've been hyping up these books to her so much that I hope she's not let down or she'll likely never listen to my opinion ever again. And that would be a travesty!

Robot Chicken
I have become an addict of Robot Chicken on Adult Swim. Yes, some of the sketches can be stupid every once in a while, but the good ones more than make up for it. Rainbow Brite? Enter the Fat One? The Star Wars special? Great stuff! God bless TiVo!

Bird
A coworker turned me on to the music of Andrew Bird recently. So I picked up Armchair Apocrypha and, damn, if it isn't a great album! Then my coworker has the gall to tell me that it's not even his best album (in her opinion). What are you trying to do to me!?!? I'm attempting to trim my iTunes library!

Garden
If this little garden fortification doesn't stop those damn bunnies, I don't know if anything will short of a well-placed landmine. Yeah, I've got the Fort Knox of gardens going on right now.

Fort Knox


It won't begin until you make it end...

I had a very vivid dream last night. And, sadly, I actually remember it this morning.

It started out with me going to my old high school to interview for a head football coaching position that had just opened up. Only an interview. Well, that's what I thought anyway.

I show up at what is decidedly not my old high school and, instead of being taken to an interview, I am led by my new secretary to my new office, which looks eerily like my old bedroom at my parents' house complete with all my old furniture, and am asked to set up what I felt would have been the ideal starting lineup for every sports team the school has offered for the last decade. "Wow," I thought. "And here I was just coming in for an interview and I've already got the job and it seems to be a bit more involved than just head football coach."

My brother, who is apparently my assistant coach, is there to help me sort through all the rosters, which are set up like Weight Watchers Points sliders -- a really cool idea that I should try to market, by the way -- only to discover that they are not complete. Several sports are missing in random years and there are oddball sliders thrown in such as one that determines nap periods throughout the day for specific athletes.

My brother and I sit on the bed and begin to compile a list of the missing roster/sliders when my old buddy, B, comes walking in. He's drunk and is treating my office as I viewed it upon entry, as my old bedroom. There is no realization on his part that he just came walking through a high school to get to it. Instead, he just plops down on the floor and regales me with tales of his drunken exploits with our mutual friend, J.

"You'll never guess how much our bar tab was," he says.

"You're probably right," I reply dismissively. "Why don't you just tell me."

"Let's just say it was a couple hundred dollars," he continues. "And it was all spent on just the two of us."

"Wow," I say offhandedly. "That's a lot of booze." And I continue making my list of missing rosters.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"C'mon," I say. "Let's take a walk."

My brother and I help B to his feet and we walk out. I'm trying to find a delicate way to tell him that I'm the new head football coach, a job he has always wanted and that we both realize I am way too underqualified to take.

We walk out the front door of the school to a dry dirt courtyard. On the other side of a low brick retaining wall is a line of people standing there obviously waiting to catch their first glimpse of the new coach. A few clap (thank you!) while some jeer and hiss and the rest stay silent.

"Wait a minute," B says as he turns to face me. "You're... us?"

"Um yeah," I reply.

All of a sudden all the old coaches, led by the former head coach -- a guy who, in real life mind you, has not been the coach of our school in several years -- come walking around the corner like an honor guard. My mind's eye starts panning down the line of coaches as they stand there facing me. Some are openly weeping. I'm not sure if this is because they are out of a job or because it's me taking over. The old head coach steps forward to hand me something. A passing of the guard, I suppose. I take the box of whatever from him and...

... I wake up.

Thank God. That could've been disastrous.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I know he's not my mayor, but I love Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. I know he's had his issues like any elected politician, but here is a man who knows how to handle the press. In a press conference (not sure if registration is required to view this article or not) regarding police misconduct charges and a push by the public to have the names of multi-charge offenders released, Daley replied to a question with, "We have a very good police department. You cannot say there are a few bad apples and write them off just like the media does.

"You [the media] have a few bad apples as well."

Considering the Amy Jacobson scandal just a couple weeks ago, his timing on that quip could not have been any better.

That man is my hero.


Fuel is pumping engines...

More snippets...

Bend Over:
My chase yesterday morning to find that one last gas station in the suburbs that is charging south of $3.20 per gallon in light of a major recent spike made me recall this conversation I had with Katie on Tuesday. Sadly, all such related conversations tend to end this same way.

Katie: Damn! I wish I filled up my gas tank this morning!

Me: Why? Really good price? Like $3.05?

Katie: $3.00 on the money.

Me: Really? That's awesome!

Katie: Yeah, well now it's $3.29.

Me: WHAT THE FUCK DID BUSH DO NOW????

Yeah, it's true. One of my favorite stations spiked from $3.05 on Tuesday morning to $3.45 on Wednesday morning. This is just sick and wrong.

Can you tell I'm also trying to bump my site's rating a little bit? Don't hate me. I put my seventh of a gallon worth of change in the swear jar.

Slurpee80_2 80 Years:
Happy birthday to the 7-Eleven chain that turned 80 years old yesterday. How did they celebrate? By giving away 7.11 ounce Slurpees (well, "Squishees" now since they are still in the midst of The Simpsons' marketing juggernaut) on 7/11.

Yes, I got my freebie when I went in to pick up my fantasy football guide (you starting another blogger league, Brandon?) I never quite realized just how small 7.11 ounces was until I saw the cup. For your own reference, I've provided a picture of the cup next to a standard-sized wine cork.

Just a bit small. But still free. And I got The Simpsons' Blue Vanilla special flavor and, just like old times, I got a brain freeze. Thank Heaven for 7-Eleven!

CTU:
A big thank you to my girl, Hilly, who, a week ago, provided me with a copy of the wav file containing the CTU office phone ringtone from the show 24. Although I couldn't figure out how at first, I finally managed to transfer it to my phone and set it up as my ringtone. Woo hoo! It's the coolest damn thing in the world!

If you'd like the CTU ringer as your own ringtone, send an e-mail to your cellphone (you'll have to figure that out on your own) and put the following code (between the brackets) in the body of the e-mail... [http://kapgar.typepad.com/CTU.mp3].

It should work. No guarantees, though. It worked on AT&T/Cingular for me, though, and when we uploaded Low Stars' "Calling All Friends" to Katie's phone.

Vote:
If you haven't voted yet, please go back to the Lyrical Challenge page and pick your top two lyrics to serve as a theme for my blogging in the future. Voting will close tomorrow.


Will I be on the streets tomorrow...

How about some random snippets today?

Stupid Blonde Reporter:
Amy Jacobson of NBC 5 news in Chicago has negotiated a release from her contract. She's pretty well known around these parts and now even moreso. Why? Because the idiot was caught on tape in a bikini and towel at the house of Craig Stebic, the husband of missing mom Lisa Stebic, a story that Jacobson has been reporting on since the beginning.

Her excuse? She was on her way to a health club and received a call from the sister of the missing woman and turned immediately back around to head to the husband's house, bikini and all.

Now explain to us all why he (one of the PD's top suspects, by the way) was in a swimsuit, as well, and you were eating food at his place with his kids around, huh?

People claimed she was getting some nice exclusives. Now we know why.

And NBC has already pulled her from their Web site. Nice.

Update: Found out the kids were hers, not Craig's. So she had her own kids along with her while doing some "investigative reporting."

Smarter Blonde Reporter:
Ivanka Trump on The View? Wow, that might've even given me enough reason to watch that cacklefest. Sadly, 'tis not meant to be.

Davecago, Take 2:
So, some of you may have heard of this obscure guy named David Simmer II. Perhaps you've seen the name Blogography around the Intarwebs? Well, maybe one or two of you anyway. He's coming to town in August and is trying to pull together a mass meeting of fellow D-list bloggers (I KID!) for a night of pizza and brew in the Loop. Anybody interested?

Graverunners Union:
I was driving home when I noticed some kids practicing baseball. No big deal, right? Wrong. Their practice field was right beside a graveyard.

Catch that last part?

Right ... Beside ... A ... Graveyard

That's when I came up with the coolest idea for coaching motivation ever!!!! The coach needs to show up with two bat bags. When speaking to the team, the coach motions to the first bag, full of bats, and says, "if you don't learn to use these," he then turns to the second bag, full of shovels, and says, "you'll learn to use these."

Think it might work?

Parental Guidance:
I'm so ashamed. Stupid freakin' New Year's Resolution!!!!

Online Dating

Hilly, I think I need you to guest blog again and up my rating. Think you can pull off an NC17 for me in a single post, hon?

Dilbert Porn:
I got this from my desk calendar a couple weeks ago (it's a few years old, otherwise, based on date of original publication). Simply put... best. Dilbert. ever.

Dilbert

And a happy Hump Day to you, too!


Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats...

(It may be tough, but please see this one through to the end)

Oh I tried, I really tried. I wanted to not blog about this so much. I bit my lips. There was blood. Really.

I wasn't going to say a thing about this travesty of justice known as the Paris Hilton trial. But it just. got. interesting.

She DUI'd. She DUI'd again. She showed up in court. She was sentenced to 45 days in the klink. She appealed. She withdrew her appeal. She found her sentence commuted to 23 days with good behavior. She turned herself over in the middle of the night. She began serving her sentence. She stopped eating. She got depressed. She developed an undisclosed medical condition. She was released. She was fitted with an ankle monitoring bracelet. She was told to serve out the full remaining 40 days (even though, technically, she had only served three days thus far).

Blah, blah, blah.

But now the judge in the case is crying foul? Saying that the sheriff who released Hilton had no right to do so? He's demanding a hearing on the matter this morning? Public sentiment is overwhelmingly against Hilton? There's talk of the sheriff being held in contempt?

This really got fun!

I want them ALL in jail!

Rot together!

Throw Nicole Richie in there while you're at it!

Lindsay Lohan, too!

And that one who played Marisa in The O.C. I can't remember her name, but she's another no-talent hack who is way too overexposed in the media!

Oh, oh, Hilton's mom for raising such a little beyotch and being one herself!

Maybe the dad, too, for enabling her with all his money and not using it for something worthwhile like comfortable beds in his hotels!

Lindsay's dad, Michael, for wearing mesh muscle T-shirts in TV interviews!

Mario Lopez for being enough of an idiot that he felt the need to cheat on Ali Landry and Karina Smirnoff!

The entire cast of Grey's Anatomy for turning their off-screen dramas into stories that, at least this last season, are far more interesting to watch than the ones that were on screen!

The other execs that keep reupping CSI: Miami and providing David Caruso the opportunity to refine his head-tilting, script-whispering, sunglass-removing antics!

The other-other execs that canceled What About Brian, The Class, and Veronica Mars!

In the words of Chuck D, "Burn Hollywood! Burn Hollywood! Burn!"

It's all so incredibly ridiculous that I just can't help but be nutty about it all. BYAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

'Tis a strange, punch-drunk day here in Kapgartopia.


This Howard Dean moment has been brought to you by a severe inability to readjust to non-Vegas life. We thank you for your understanding and apologize profusely. Professional assistance for Mr. Apgar is currently being sought.

-The Management


There's no business like show business...

Everyone dreams as a child about what they want to be when they grow up. And, more often than not, you develop a list of all the different things you want to be. Perhaps an astronaut. Maybe an archaeologist. Sometimes a firefighter. Your moods change when you're a kid and, often times, your dreams of the future change as a result.

But did you ever dream about being a celebrity? Did you want to become an actor or a singer and wind up in the limelight with all the world watching and swooning over you? I think most people have entertained this fantasy to some degree or another at one point in their lives. I'll admit I did. And I think with the oversaturated coverage of celebrity lives in the media these days, so do a lot of today's kids.

I think we can still save them, though. Convince them that the path to celebrity is not one they want to travel. Just do a screen capture of today's WENN Celebrity News on IMDb and save it for that day when you hear a kid talking about wanting to be a star.

Let's see what we have in the coffer today...

Washington To Front Gay Awareness Campaign
Months after the whole flap began on the set of Grey's Anatomy, Isaiah Washington is still paying the price. I'm not saying he's not wrong because he is. But, in Hollywood, under the celebrity microscope, anything and everything you say can become fuel in a campaign against you. Scary.

Esposito Files for Divorce After Four Months of Marriage
The divorce rate in America is 51% these days from what I hear. I wonder how much higher it is among celebrities. Does anyone have stats on that? Marriage is treated like such a joke among the famous. It's sick.

Spears Makes California Comeback
Just the fact that anyone would still want to see her, promote her, etc., after all she has done is wrong. Just wrong. Please, world, just forget about her. Let her fade into oblivion. I guess it is a testament to the fact that anyone can get a shot, I suppose.

Bullock Requests Restraining Order Against Fan
This is why people like Spears always have a chance at recouping their fame... we freak out about celebrities. However, some people take it a bit too far. When your own life is not enough that you have to stalk a celeb, you need help.

Cross Promises 'Desperate' Creator She Won't Get Pregnant Again
And your personal life is sometimes forced to take a backseat to your professional one. It still kills me to think back several years to when FOX-TV issued an edict declaring that actors on their shows must acquire permission from on high to be able to cut their hair. This was in response to when Keri Russell of Felicity chopped her hair and the show's ratings drop was blamed on it. Sad. Funny, but sad.

Lohan: "I Am a Serious Actress & New Film Will Prove It"
Not necessarily related to the point at hand, but the fact that she has to go to such lengths makes me worry.

Brown To Take Murphy To Court for Paternity Test
And this is what sleeping around will get you, kiddies.

Yes, there were three other stories that were somewhat upbeat in nature. But that's three out of ten. A mere 30% is positive news.

What a twisted day in Hollyweird.

And what a slow flippin' day for blogging.


It's evolution, baby...

Dear Charles,

Considering the lambasting you've been taking lately in that backwards state known as Kansas, I thought I'd take a moment to reiterate why you are one of the truly great scientists of the last couple hundred years.

The fact that you would take the commonly accepted "laws" of religion and turn them upside down with your theory of evolution shows that you've got balls. Serious balls. Like a pair of brass ones. You could've just as easily realized the trouble you'd be in with the church by proposing that theory and tucked those pieces of paper in your pocket never to see the light of day again. But you didn't. You made your findings public in what has to amount to one of the most controversial books since the Bible itself.

However, I have to admit that recent events have resulted in my questioning the integrity of your Survival of the Fittest theory. You remember that one? You claim that the most well adapted and capable of each species will be the ones to move on and breed. They have even named awards after this theory.

My complaint is that it doesn't seem to work.

Yesterday, on my way home from work on a particularly busy, four-lane street, I watched as the cars in the two oncoming lanes were suddenly merging down to a single lane near the median. I didn't see any police or ambulance lights so there couldn't be an accident. In fact, I could see nothing that would cause me to think there was any reason to merge like this.

However, as I got closer, I saw what it was... a bicycle-bound commuter.

While I give this woman credit for saving the ozone by riding a bike, I think my desire to club her like a baby seal outweighs any congratulations I might toss her way. You see, not only was she riding on a busy commuter thoroughfare when a perfectly usable sidewalk was to her right and a BIKE PATH was on the left, but she was riding one handed.

One handed? Why would she do that, you might ask?

She was using her other hand to hold a cellphone to her ear.

Yeah, that's right... she was bicycling in a busy road while talking on a cellphone.

So Mr. Darwin, how do you explain that one? Hmmm?

Sincerely,

Conflicted Believer

P.S. While we're on the topic of stupid people, check out this Comedy Central tribute to one of Hollywood's Father of the Year candidates over on YouTube.


No one said it would be easy...

My dearest Sheryl,

Since you first appeared on the scene back in my undergrad days of college, I've had a crush on you. Your penetrating eyes. The long, curly brown hair. Pouty lips. Soulful voice.

And I know I wasn't the only one. Half the guys on my floor had your album or a poster of you up on the wall. And I was fine sharing you with them.

Through the years, the love remained strong despite such relationship breakers as you losing weight, going glam, dying blonde, straightening the hair, and *GAH!* getting engaged to that bicycle guy. I was willing to forgive you these transgressions.

But this latest act of yours really has me wondering, am I man enough to be your man? Can I do what you asked on your blog? Can I really limit myself to one square of toilet paper per visit to the john?

I want to save the Earth as much as anybody does. Katie and I recycle as much as possible. We shop at Trader Joe's. We use (and then reuse) paper bags when available. All the new cars that we've been pricing for that day when one of us must buy a new one have been either high mileage or even hybrid, if at all possible. We turned the heat down a few degrees in the cold months and the air conditioner up a few degrees in the warm months, when it's too unbearable to open windows and use fans, that is. We've even started switching over to CFLs.

However, this latest call to action may be going a bit over the top, my dear.

Do you really not have any better suggestions? Something more significant? Something more realistic?

If not, and if you really stand by this statement, then, much like the tree I'm using to obtain my TP, our love is dead. I'm sorry, but you can kiss my lily-white, well-wiped butt.

Because, if you're only using one square of toilet paper, I'll be damned if I'm kissing yours.

Sincerely,

kapgar

P.S. I have a meme for you in the extended post. Probably not very environmentally friendly either. They require factories to create and, in two out of three cases, electric power to operate. Sorry.

Continue reading "No one said it would be easy..." »


Mama, you been on my mind...

We don't get to travel nearly as much as we would like to or that we may have at one point in our lives thought we would. We've got rather normal, sedentary jobs. We have a home. We have bills. All that good stuff.

What this means is that we tend to remember our few trips very fondly. We take time to talk about them and think about what we'd do when we go back. We also like to think about how a place we've visited may have changed in the years since we've been there.

Katie is a big fan of colleges. She likes to visit them just to see what they're all about, see if they fit her "ideal" of what a college campus should look like, and also buy a sweatshirt. She loves her college sweatshirts.

Together we've been to Northern Illinois (our alma mater... go Huskies!), Stanford, UW-Madison, Illinois State, University of Hawaii-Manoa, UC-Berkeley, and some others that I can't quite recall.

And I, during my own personal travels, have been to a few additional campuses. In all these travels, I've only ever seen one college that fit my ideal of what a campus should look like. Big, beautiful buildings that looked like pieces of art. Large, open expanses of grass with students laying out doing homework and playing frisbee. A student union that was unlike any I had seen up to that point. A garden of flowers that, when viewed from afar, formed the school's logo... an orange-bordered burgundy V connected at the top to the letter T.

It wasn't just the campus, either. The surrounding town was beautiful as well. And it was one of the first towns to be completely wired to the World Wide Web, with a company setting up Web sites for every little mom 'n' pop shop in the 'Burg. It was so ahead of the curve that you couldn't help but love it, admire it, and wish it was your own town.

I longed for the day I could take Katie there to show her what my brain and heart had forever internalized as the "perfect" college campus.

Sadly, due to the incomprehensible madness of one idiot, that ideal is forever ruined. Katie's first view of this beautiful locale is now through the lens of a video camera capturing the aftermath.

Of course, I'm talking about Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, more popularly known as Virginia Tech, in Blacksburg, VA, the site of yesterday's armed slaughter that took the lives of around 33 people.

There's no need to go into details as they're all over the news and will be for weeks to come. But I would like to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives and offer my condolences to their friends and families as well as to those who work there and live in the neighboring town.

It's going to be a rough going for some time, Hokies. And it's a shame that you, or anyone for that matter, should have to endure this kind of pain. But my heart goes out to you all.

I love you, VT.

Vtlogo


And we'll keep on fighting, 'til the end...

And a hush enveloped the crowd. Everybody's attention was diverted from whatever they had been discussing previously. All eyes turned to the large plasma TV hanging on the wall above where the bartender stood. Her attention also focused on the suited gentleman on the screen.

Chicago2016logo "May I have the envelope," requested Peter Ueberroth, USOC Chairman. "Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, I am proud, very proud, to announce the United States' applicant city for the two thousand and sixteen Olympic and Paralympic games is... Chicago."

And the facade of silence broke away erupting into rancorous applause.

I know we face some potentially steep competition in the form of Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, Rome, Tokyo and Prague. But I don't see why we can't win. Why we, as one of the greatest cities on the face of the Earth, should not be given the right to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

How cool.

I'm proud to be a Chicagoan. Even if I am, technically, a suburbanite and not a city dweller. But who cares? You can come from Chicago, Geneva, Naperville, Winnetka, McHenry, Zion, Tinley Park, Springfield (I wasn't going to leave you out, MochaMomma)... it doesn't matter. Today, we're all Chicagoans.

Sorry, Los Angeles, but it's our turn. Finally.


We'll stand by you...

Seeing as how I now work for a company in Naperville, IL, I've made it a point to, once again, become somewhat ingratiated into the wherewithall of the town.

A little history... I moved to Naperville in 1987 with my parents. But I "left" in 1993 when I went to college and didn't come back full time until the summer of 2000 after I finished my M.A. Of course, I was back during most winter and summer vacations, like most people. After graduation, I stuck around for a year with my parents while saving money for my wedding to Katie. Then, in September 2001, we loaded up the truck and moved to... Geneva. So, other than the occasional visit, I was pretty well removed from Naperville.

So now I'm making amends by spending time in the city at stores, restaurants, events, etc. It seems like the right thing to do and I'm nothing if not a good citizen.

That was why I decided to take part in Gina Glocksen Day yesterday.

For those who don't know, Gina Glocksen is the self-proclaimed "Rocker Chick" American Idol contestant who was booted off the show last week. For the last couple years, she has lived in Naperville. And, even though most Napervillians realize that Gina was raised in Tinley Park, they've embraced her as one of their own. So they gave her a welcome home party at North Central College.

And I was there.

Even though I'm not an American Idol fan.

But, despite this fact, I know everything that is going on in the show. It's the water cooler topic du jour where I work and I can't help but hear it. I try. Believe me, I try.

Plus, working in a media-related role, I read a ton of local newspapers. And she's been one of their favorite topics of discussion for weeks now. I honestly feel like I've known her my whole life.

Sad, eh?

Well, the event was fun anyway. Nearly 1,000 screaming tweeners shouting out "we love you, Gina" and "you're our American Idol!" Thankfully, Gina was a good sport and threw the love right back. I give her credit for that. I know I could only handle hearing those sorts of things shouted at me once or twice before I would likely throw the wireless mic into the crowd hoping for vicious skull fractures. But she didn't. That would've made for a great picture, though.

Instead, I settled for some of the following...

The twirl
This is one of my favorite "accidental" photos ever. I feared the shutter was snapping with her turned the other way, but she spun at exactly the right moment just like in a classic fashion shoot. And this is what I got.

Gina and the press
The media swarmed her. As would be expected

There are a few more shots on Flickr if you're so inclined.

Oh, and there's no guarantee of this actually happening, but footage of this event was shot for a show called American Idol Extra that is set to air sometime in the future on Fox Reality Channel. If you find out when it's on, let me know. I may be in it.


Everybody walk the dinosaur...

When I was young, one of the things I always dreamed about was being an archaeologist. No, I was not laboring under the fantasy of living the Indiana Jones lifestyle swinging around on a bullwhip, shooting swordsmen on the streets of Cairo, and romancing women in the chilly northern peaks of Tibet.

I wanted to be a legitimate archaeologist, uncovering lost objects buried under centuries or even millennia of dirt and rubble. I wanted to find a new species of dinosaur never before seen. I wanted to discover ships lost at sea (yes, I am a SCUBA enthusiast). And I wanted to be the one to find the Missing Link between apes and man.

I guess, even as years went by, that I've always harbored the dream of somehow still doing this. I took some anthropology classes in college that related to this topic. I am a big fan of the Field Museum in Chicago and Katie and I even became donors to/members of the museum this past year. I'm sure my fascination with archaeology played into this decision somewhat.

So imagine my excitement when I read an article today about a local forest preserve district presenting a program in conjunction with the Field Museum in which students will be able to be a part of a dig for 11,000-year-old mastodon bones in a forest preserve in Wayne, IL.

Wayne, IL?!?! That's only 10 miles from where I live! A mastodon was found there?

Yep, back in 2005 and, somehow, I missed the announcement entirely.

How cool would that be? Think I can go back to school and jump in on the fun? One can dream, right?

TUA (Totally Unrelated Aside): Does anyone still use Technorati? Has anyone ever clicked on the link I have in the sidebar? I'm asking because I'm thinking about replacing that link with my new Facebook link. I'd rather not add another line over there and, to that end, I think this swap might be the best solution.


I wanna sex you up...

While watching The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night (yeah, you all thought I was going to be talking about my sex life, didn't you? Some things shall remain private, even here.), he made mention in some joke about a concept called "Green Sex." It was part of a joke about conservation efforts and I don't even remember the punchline, to be honest.

But the very name, and the fact that Jay never bothered to explain it at all, left me wondering. Maybe it was my perverse mind in combination with the fact that in Christopher Moore's latest book, You Suck, he talks about how the Animals hired a blue-skinned, Smurf-looking woman named Blue to be a long-term sex pal and this was just my mind working its way across the rainbow of not-so-fruity flavors.

So I wrote it down on a pad of paper I had on my nightstand so I would remember to look it up today.

Yes, it's actually about making your sex life more environmentally friendly. Sex, being the organic (and, hopefully, orgasmic) act that it already is, didn't strike me as something that you could really make "green." It's not like it's car emissions or garbage disposal. But, leave it to treehugger.com to make us put more thought into the act than we already have to.

Oh, and they even have a top 10 list. Here are some highlights...

1. Sex Toys - yes, they start off with a BANG (pun fully intended). I guess many sex toys are made with chemicals called phthalates that are actually semi-toxic to the human body. They suggest looking for toys made of hard plastics (no pun there, really), glass, metal, silicone, and elastimers. Oh, and use recyclable batteries when possible.

4. Sexy Giving - I can't even begin to paraphrase this one, so how about a quote? "Organic massage oils, fair trade chocolate, or a bottle of biodynamic red wine are hot options." Huhwhudda? Fair trade? Biodynamic? Head swimming...

6. Bamboo in Bed - ouch! Sounds painful. I have visions of people being caned in SIngapore when I think of bamboo being used for anything other than as a home to koalas. Hey, nothing wrong with a little kink in your life, but dang! Oh wait, they're talking about bed sheets... made of bamboo?? Still sounds weird to me.

10. Meeting that Special Tree Hugger - this is the best... avoiding those Escalade-driving, eco-hating freaks is the essence of this one. Try your local farmers' market or Whole Foods instead. Well, I gotta argue against that one. Have you seen the parking lots at Whole Foods? In the suburbs, they are jam packed with SUVs because all the soccer moms think it's the "in" thing to shop there, so they do.

Oh, holy crap! It goes beyond a Top 10 list! Links to online dealers? Hemp lingerie? A pyrex studded... woah. And it's got pictures! Ones that I will not duplicate on my site or my IT department at work will red flag me for sure this time.

I'm just in shock here. Who'd'a thunk it?


It's my prerogative...

Is it wrong that for once in my short voting life, I'm actually looking forward to a Presidential election?

I've only been able to legally vote for the Commander in Chief of the U.S. since 1996 (I missed the '92 election by a month) and, each time, I've always felt cheated. I've always voted for what I thought was the lesser of two evils. Seriously. I've been that jaded for that long.

In '96, I was voting based on the Vice Presidential candidates. That was my determining factor. I don't know why, but I knew something would happen to the President on either side of the political coin. If it were Bill Clinton, I knew he'd be impeached (I really did, I swear); and, if it were Bob Dole, I feared he'd die. So I picked which VP I liked best. In this case, it was Jack Kemp over Al Gore. Sorry, I can't stand Tipper or the idea that she would be that close to the leader of the free world. God only knows how she'd exert that power to screw up the music industry any further.

0 for 1

In '00, it was Dubya or Gore. Duh. Who do you think I picked? I even managed to put aside my disdain for Tipper on this one. But I would like to state, for the record, that I voted for John McCain in the primary.

0 for 2 (0 for 2.5, if you include the primary vote)

In '04, we had Dubya or John Kerry. I was really torn on this one. I didn't particularly care for either of them. I almost wanted to vote Independent or Green Party, but even their candidates were for crap. I went Dem.

0 for 3

But things are shaping up interestingly for the '08 election. Right now, there are two candidates I feel I can support. And they come from two different parties, to boot. Not only do we have Barack Obama (Illinois Represent!) on the Democratic side of things, but m'man McCain is coming back!

In case you haven't figured it out, "party loyalty" is a foreign concept to me. I don't prescribe to it.

At this point in the game, I'm not sure who I want. All candidates right now are just highstepping around the country to get some preliminary support for their campaigns. So no real information has come out yet. I will have to wait until later this year to really get any substantial information about who supports what and the like. Then I can make a real decision. And I'll actually give a damn (I'm putting a quarter in the jar now) about what they have to say.

Wow! Might my voting record finally see a tic mark on the positive side? It's entirely possible! I feel like a winner already!


Right there, that's a tatty tatty...

Chi-tonw
This cracked me up to no end.

Basically, a guy wanted to get the words "Chi-town" tattooed on his upper chest using a rather decorative font. The tattoo artist was able to take "Chi" from a sample the guy brought in, but had to create his own letters for "town" after not finding anything similar enough in a font sample book. After an hour of back and forth, they agreed on the lettering and the stencil and the stencil was applied to his chest. The guy was happy with it all and signed a waiver. When the tattoo was done, the guy looked at it in a mirror, loved it, and left.

The next day, he contacts the tattoo parlor complaining. Apparently, instead of "Chi-town," the tattoo read "Chi-tonw." He never noticed until a coworker pointed it out to him. Now he is planning to sue the parlor.

I can see how this might be a problem. It's permanent, right? I'd be pissed, too. But, he also signed off on the design, stencil, and application. He knew what was being done and it was spelled that exact way when he looked at it and signed off on it.

The artist
-- Sam Hacker of Jade Dragon Tattoo and Body Piercing in Chicago -- did everything right from a legal and self-preservation perspective. Yeah, he transposed the letters accidentally. He says it was because he was freaking out too much about the artistry of the letters and didn't give the spelling the appropriate attention. But the other guy saw and approved it.

But the story doesn't end here. to show support for Hacker, a few other area artists are having "Chi-tonw" tattooed on themselves.

Oh, but it gets better still. If you want to show support for Hacker yourself, you can get the same tattoo at Bridgeport Tattoo Co. and they'll do it absolutely free on Sundays.

Now, if I was more of a tattoo freak, I would actually do this.
Say I worked at Miami Ink, yeah, I'd be all over it. As it stands, though, I only have the one tattoo and adding this to it might be a bit weird.

But the sentiment is great and the support that Hacker is receiving has got to make him feel good. And I'd say his odds in court are pretty good as well.

VisualDNA
I've seen this going around on several blogs in the last day or two and decided to jump on board. It's my VisualDNA. Kinda cool, really.


Now would I say something that isn't true...

I went out to lunch with some people I know yesterday (you can never go wrong with Mexican food at lunch) and, somehow or another, we got on the topic of where we were when 9/11 occurred. We were discussing if we were near someplace where we could watch TV and see things as they were happening. Two of them were while I was relegated to struggling to find any working Web site I could with information.

Then one of my lunch cohorts mentioned how I wouldn't need to worry about finding a TV for that purpose because this sort of thing is not likely to happen again during our lifetimes. This person was not at all arrogant about this statement. It was more of a hopeful declaration than anything else.

I hate to sound so pessimistic, but I just don't believe that. And I really don't think I'm wrong for this point of view.

Let me give you some reasons why...

1. We are the most outspoken of all Democratic nations. There are many more like us, but, because of how visible we are in the world forum, we are the nation that first comes to mind when the word "Democracy" is brought up. Not everyone supports this ideal.

2. While some countries are backing down in Iraq, our president wants to shore up our armed forces contingent. Color me crazy, but I just don't see our opponents in the Middle East and elsewhere being all too happy with that decision.

3. Despite being hit in the past - and badly at that - by terrorist attacks, it still seems as though many people in the U.S. are prone to "puffing out their chests" and declaring that this sort of thing can never happen. Mmm hmmmm.

4. Our insularity makes us ignorant to what's going on outside our borders. There is so much we should be learning about in the world. So many current events that very few of us know are going on. And what's dominating our nightly newscasts now? Anna Nicole Smith's DNA and Britney Spears' head shaving and rehab merry-go-round. Does anybody remember what dominated the news just before 9/11? Anne Heche's post-Ellen mental breakdown. Truly hardhitting and newsworthy. Seriously, go back and check it out.

True that the last one is not exactly the hardest of evidence, but still.

I realize that this is not exactly the sort of thing you expect to read here. Lighthearted? No. Funny? Not exactly. Many of you may have even started reading it, gave up, and moved on to another blog. I apologize for that. But it's something that's on my mind and isn't that what blogging is all about?