News 2008

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

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

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

Huh? Why six?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ode to Joy...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I never said I was a good poet.

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


Chicago is...

I love Chicago.

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

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

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

This is, simply put, a great goddamn state.

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

Fuckin' Blago.

'nuff said.


When I'm gone...

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

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

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

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

That is definitely not an easy question to answer.

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

What about you?

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

The motley crew

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


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

I did it. I voted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why won't everybody listen?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Dear Rolling Stone,

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

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

Sincerely,

Dead Horse Voter

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

Just sayin'.


I get so weary...

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

It's because of stories like this.

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

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

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

So you'll forgive my dour outlook on humanity.

Sorry if that bugs you out.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wouldn't you love somebody to love...

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

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

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

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

by Kevin Apgar

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

But I'm going to try anyway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The old man is snoring...

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

Here are some photos...

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


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


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


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

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

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


Hey, I got some new shoes...

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

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

W. T. F. ????

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

And they paid Seinfeld how much for this campaign?

I wonder if Steve Ballmer kept the receipt.

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

I am, now and forever, Kapgar Ocho Cinco.

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


Didn't we almost have it all...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuckin' White Sox fans.

Go Cubs.

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

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


Who are you, who, who...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wake me up inside...

*BZZZT*

*BZZZT*

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

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

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

*DELETE*

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


Do you believe in magic...

I think I have officially found the strangest word ever included in a spell check dictionary. Or it could be a sign that the world truly is ruled by J.K. Rowling. Take your pick.

In an homage to an episode of Ace of Cakes when Mary Alice calls Duff "Dumbledork," I called a friend by the same name in an e-mail. The spell checker flagged the word and offered "Dumbledore," the character in the Harry Potter books and movies from which Mary Alice's comment was taken, as a viable alternative.

Now, unless "Dumbledore" has some other valid reason to be included in a Microsoft dictionary (I was using Outlook for the e-mail), I think I can say I've seen it all.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon four times in the back outside the latter's NYC apartment in 1980, has been denied parole for a fifth time. The question remains whether it was for the safety of society or for his own safety.

I say let him out and see what happens. It can be a Running Man of sorts to see who gets to him first. Muahahahahahahahahahahahaha. ha.


Take a walk on the wild side...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Uh-oh, let's go...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Watch me...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Babe, I'm gonna leave you...

I'm curious... what do all of you do with certificates, diplomas, and the like that you've received throughout your life?

I ask because Katie and I were talking about sorting through the attic this weekend because it's supposed to be nice and cool in the mid 70s. While we do this, she's hoping we find our diplomas from college.

I haven't seen my diploma since graduation. Well, actually, a few weeks afterward as they didn't give us our real diploma at commencement, just the holder. They wait to make sure our grades clear, payments clear, and we return our cap and gown before giving it to us. Greedy bastards.

But then, after receiving it, I threw it in a box and forgot about it. It just never mattered much to me. It's a piece of paper. I know I have my degree. My resume shows it. The school's records indicate it. So what good is an "official" piece of paper that could've easily been doctored up in Photoshop? Hey, I've seen Mumford. It's not that tough.

So, even if we do find them, I'm not sure what I'd want to do with them. It sounds like Katie is interested in having them framed. But what's the purpose? Where would we hang them? Not to discount her own attachment to her diploma, but I'm just curious.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It has been officially announced that the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics are moving to Oklahoma City.

I hate when sports teams move from one city to another.

When I was young and living in Connecticut, I was a huge fan of the Hartford Whalers of the NHL. I worshiped guys like Kevin Dineen and Ron Francis. They were great. I met Dineen when he came to my school. Still have an autographed card from him.

Whalers Several years later, the Whalers up and left Hartford and became the Carolina Hurricanes. I was heartbroken. I loved my Whalers and the Hurricanes just aren't the same. I love the logo with the whale tail that merges with the "W" to create an "H" in the negative space. Hell, I still have my Whalers jersey. It's the only hockey jersey I own anymore. I refuse to get rid of it.

So I felt the pain of people in Cleveland when the Browns left for Baltimore (even though they got a team back) or Charlotte when they lost the Hornets to New Orleans. And now I feel Seattle's pain as they lose the Sonics to Oklahoma City.

It sucks.


Fly to the angels...

Before I start, I need to send some love to the family of comedian George Carlin who died last night at the age of 71. I'm not going to say too much about this other than I was a fan of his stand-up routines as well as his many movie appearances. In a world rife with stale comedy, he was a God. And now he's up there cracking up his God as well. There is a really cool tribute to the man over at Shiny's Takeout.

[Just as a warning, I have a meme coming up next. If you're not a fan, skip through to the end as I have photos and a contest down there.]

This is a new meme that was started by Avitable (with bait taken by Brandon) based on an article he read in EW listing the top 100 movies of the last 25 years. Apparently it isn't enough that AFI puts out a Top 100 list and revised it just recently, now EW has to get in on the action. C'est la vie, eh?

According to the rules set by Adam, you must bold the titles of the movies you've seen and asterisk the ones you liked. For me, because a movie isn't asterisked doesn't necessarily mean I didn't like it. It could just mean that my forgetful ass doesn't even remember what it was all about other than to say I do remember seeing it. Such is life at the advanced age of 33.

  1. Pulp Fiction (1994) **
  2. The Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) **
  3. Titanic (1997) **
  4. Blue Velvet (1986)
  5. Toy Story (1995) **
  6. Saving Private Ryan (1998) **
  7. Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)
  8. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) **
  9. Die Hard (1988) **
  10. Moulin Rouge (2001) **
  11. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) **
  12. The Matrix (1999) **
  13. GoodFellas (1990) **
  14. Crumb (1995)
  15. Edward Scissorhands (1990) **
  16. Boogie Nights (1997)
  17. Jerry Maguire (1996) **
  18. Do the Right Thing (1989)
  19. Casino Royale (2006) **
  20. The Lion King (1994) **
  21. Schindler's List (1993) **
  22. Rushmore (1998) **
  23. Memento (2001) **
  24. A Room With a View (1986)
  25. Shrek (2001) **
  26. Hoop Dreams (1994)
  27. Aliens (1986) **
  28. Wings of Desire (1988)
  29. The Bourne Supremacy (2004) **
  30. When Harry Met Sally... (1989) **
  31. Brokeback Mountain (2005) **
  32. Fight Club (1999) **
  33. The Breakfast Club (1985) **
  34. Fargo (1996)
  35. The Incredibles (2004) **
  36. Spider-Man 2 (2004) **
  37. Pretty Woman (1990) **
  38. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) **
  39. The Sixth Sense (1999) **
  40. Speed (1994) **
  41. Dazed and Confused (1993) **
  42. Clueless (1995) **
  43. Gladiator (2000) **
  44. The Player (1992)
  45. Rain Man (1988) **
  46. Children of Men (2006) **
  47. Men in Black (1997) **
  48. Scarface (1983)
  49. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) **
  50. The Piano (1993)
  51. There Will Be Blood (2007)
  52. The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad (1988) **
  53. The Truman Show (1998) **
  54. Fatal Attraction (1987) **
  55. Risky Business (1983) **
  56. The Lives of Others (2006)
  57. There’s Something About Mary (1998)
  58. Ghostbusters (1984) **
  59. L.A. Confidential (1997) **
  60. Scream (1996) **
  61. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
  62. sex, lies and videotape (1989)
  63. Big (1988) **
  64. No Country For Old Men (2007)
  65. Dirty Dancing (1987)
  66. Natural Born Killers (1994) **
  67. Donnie Brasco (1997)
  68. Witness (1985) **
  69. All About My Mother (1999)
  70. Broadcast News (1987)
  71. Unforgiven (1992)
  72. Thelma & Louise (1991)
  73. Office Space (1999) **
  74. Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
  75. Out of Africa (1985)
  76. The Departed (2006) **
  77. Sid and Nancy (1986)
  78. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
  79. Waiting for Guffman (1996)
  80. Michael Clayton (2007)
  81. Moonstruck (1987)
  82. Lost in Translation (2003) **
  83. Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987) **
  84. Sideways (2004) **
  85. The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) **
  86. Y Tu Mamá También (2002)
  87. Swingers (1996) **
  88. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) **
  89. Breaking the Waves (1996)
  90. Napoleon Dynamite (2004) **
  91. Back to the Future (1985) **
  92. Menace II Society (1993)
  93. Ed Wood (1994) **
  94. Full Metal Jacket (1987) **
  95. In the Mood for Love (2001)
  96. Far From Heaven (2002) **
  97. Glory (1989) **
  98. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) **
  99. The Blair Witch Project (1999)
  100. South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999)

83? Not too shabby. I did think I was going to do better as I had only missed out on four films up through #50. But then I hit that mark and it seemed to all be downhill from there. Oh well.

Oh hey, got some photos that I took from Swedish Days in Geneva this past weekend. You will have to click through to see the presentation applet. Sorry about that. I have no idea why it won't show in most readers (well, maybe it works in some readers, but certainly not in Google Reader).

Wii Fit socksThey had a pretty sweet 20-odd kiosk set up of Wii Fit that we were all able to try out. My mom and I are hooked. Plus they were handing out some nifty Wii Fit ankle socks with the rubber nubbies on them. We managed to snag about nine pairs and are going to give away three pairs of them to the people (one pair to each person) who can come up with what we deem to be the most creative description of why they need them in 25 words or less. Katie and I will both be judging. This contest is open until my post goes live on Monday, June 30 and the winner will be announced during Snippet Wednesday on July 2. All replies should be left in the comments. No e-mails, please.

Have fun. Lie through your teeth if you feel the need. But, make it good, okay?


Baby take my hand...

I actually wasn't going to post today, but then I saw a rash of disturbing articles about animals and I suddenly came up with a topic. Sorry it's so late, though.

We all have fears.

Some of my more common ones that I'm pretty sure I've discussed here at some point in time or another are things like falling, heights, and ladders. All pretty common and interrelated. I'm also not a big fan of spiders although I'm not as bad with that one as I once was.

However, there is one deep, dark fear I have that I don't discuss all that often. I think it's because, if I admit it aloud, that's admitting that it could be a reality. Until today, it wasn't. Not in my mind. It was simply one of sheer conjecture... a purely irrational fear that no one could ever see possibly happening... not anymore, though.

In Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, a six-foot-long, black-headed python was found in a toilet in an apartment complex. And not just any apartment, this one was on the 10th floor. Just when you think you're safer the higher you go, not so. To make matters worse, it was speculated that the damn thing had been squirming back and forth from apartment to apartment through the sewer pipes for God only knows how long.

So, so wrong.

Maybe it's just me, but I never want to sit on a toilet and feel... well... that. No no. Not what I ever want to experience. And, yet, I've feared this sort of thing for some time. It just seemed to make too much sense. I think it dates back to seeing the movie Alligator with Robert Forster in which a parent took his son's pet alligator that he won at a carnival and flushed it down the commode. In the sewers, it grew to mammoth proportions and terrorized Chicago.

Speaking of alligators, check this out... a six-foot alligator was found in the Chicago River! How twisted is that? Not what you wanna see while swimming, eh?

There are all kinds of weird things in places they don't belong. Yesterday, I saw upwards of five absolutely enormous fish in the DuPage River in Naperville that looked like Koi fish. They were about 16-odd inches long with really fat round bodies. Not your standard river fish, by any stretch of the imagination. I wondered if they came from some flooded yard up north that had a Koi pond.

What's next? Dogs and cats... living together... MASS HYSTERIA!


It can't rain all the time...

There are few things more frustrating than when a needed Web-based service goes down either temporarily or permanently.

Right now, I'm attempting to do some work and a service that I rely on seems to be down. I can get to the login screen and enter my password, but then my browser sits there chugging through the login javascript for several minutes before returning an error message. I've tried nearly a dozen times now in multiple browsers (just in case) and nothing. And I know it's not my computer or Web connection as this is the computer I've always used with it and I can access pretty much anything else on the Web.

Currently, I have three projects that require me using this service. By the end of the day, that count is guaranteed to go up by one and another by tomorrow. This count could potentially increase more than that with other unforeseen events. Thursday is my big day when it comes to this service and, as you would expect, this is the day it goes kablooie on me.

Most people would tell you to have a secondary service ready to go as a backup. But that requires paying out extra cash for something that will wind up being used once or twice a year and then it would have to be configured to do what we want it to the way we want it to and, well, it would just take more time and money than it's worth.

I'm getting really sick of waiting around for this and not so much as a downtime message on their homepage.

Web (and its users)... sometimes I love you; other times, well...

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, I know my brief experience with Iowa was, well, sketchy, but damn, what has it done to deserve the heavenly pounding it's been taking lately?

First it was the tornado that pummeled Britt's hometown.

Then it was flooding that left approximately 1/3 of the state in tatters (and also drained a lake in Wisconsin... drained a lake! Have you ever heard anything more unreal?).

Next came a tornado that touched down in a Boy Scout camp killing four teens.

Then it was more rainfall.

I know I'm not the biggest Iowa fan in the world because of what my old roommates put me through in my brief time there, but dayamn! What in the holy hell can they possibly expect next? Locusts?


Here I am, stuck in the middle...

Middleman (also Middle Man) - n. a person who relays a message from one party to another to facilitate communication; generally in business situations.

See also: "an awkward damn position to be in."

Oh how I hate being a middleman. Hate, hate, HATE! Generally when I find myself in a position where I'm playing middleman between two groups, I do everything in my power to get out of it. I hate having to pass messages on without having the benefit of the knowledge of what's going on to be able to answer further questions. One of the parties always seems to think you have all the answers and all you can do is sit there as they stare back at you expectantly.

Other times, though, it can be fun. Take, for example, the gym locker room last night. I was in there getting ready to leave after my workout. There is one teenage guy (kid 1) in the shower when a second one (kid 2) enters.

Kid 2: Dude, where are you?

Kid 1: [from shower] Huh?

Kid 2: Hurry up, man! Jason's getting pissed. Stop playing with yourself.

Kid 1: What?

Kid 2: I said, Jason's getting pissed. Stop playing with yourself!

[kid 2 leaves the locker room]

Kid 1: Dude, I can't hear you over the shower. What did you say?

[I look around to see if kid 2 comes back in... he doesn't]

Me: [deep breath] JASON'S GETTING PISSED! STOP PLAYING WITH YOURSELF!

Kid 1: Oh... thanks.

Me: Yeah.

Highlight of my evening.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I was watching the news last night and they were talking about a speech that Obama gave yesterday. The sound bites they played about how McCain is going to continue Bush's trek down the Economic Uncertainty Expressway sounded pretty good, but, then again, sound bites are supposed to sound that way. I may have to look up the entire speech. Anyway, they flashed over to McCain who was stumping to supporters at some coffee house somewhere. His response, "Our economy is stable." Actually, "stable" may not have been the word he used. Might've been something else, but you get my meaning. Let's assume "stable" is the word he used for the sake of this post, though.

Our economy is stable?

The cost of milk and beef is higher than it's been in a long time. Gas prices are through the roof with no visible sign of relief. Rice imports are practically nil due to famine and the inability of producing countries to support themselves let alone us. The housing market is in a slump in nearly all major cities across the country (note the "nearly all").

And I'm supposed to believe that our economy is stable?

Mr. McCain, I was having difficulty figuring out who I want to vote for. Thank you for making my decision in November that much easier.


Campaign slogans, election year...

So I was reading some headlines this morning and I found out that Hillary Clinton secured the Puerto Rico primary. This led to a rather shocking revelation on my part...

Puerto Ricans can vote?

I know that Puerto Rico is a protectorate of the U.S. or a territory or whatever the hell is going on down there. I also know that Puerto Ricans have no desire to become a U.S. state whatsoever. Well, I'm sure someone down there might like to see it happen, but I think, for the most part, they want nothing to do with us in an official capacity. And, yet, they get to vote?

This lack of statehood, of course, also means they don't have to pay taxes to the United States. Dang, how'd they get the best of both worlds?

Nice gig, eh?

Does anybody else feel like, during this campaign season, they've learned more about American politics than they ever wanted to know? Yeah, that's my hand flailing wildly back and forth.

Oh, I'm depressing myself again. I need happy thoughts. How about a Wayne's World reunion a la the 2008 MTV Movie Awards? Classic stuff here!

For the record, I've never embedded an MTV video before, so if it doesn't work, blame them and click over to their site to view it. Totally worth it.

I think I may just increase the happy factor even more with a meme in the extended post. Sound good by you?

Continue reading "Campaign slogans, election year..." »


You come from out of nowhere...

I'm feeling snippety today...

Iowa
You read stories like this and you just want to huddle in a corner and will time to rewind so that you can stop it from ever happening. Britt, I have no idea what to say other than I'm so, so sorry. Please know that we're there for you.

Sorry to hit you all so hard right in the beginning. But Britt is a friend and we here in the Blogosphere try to care about our friends as best we can. Even if just in a virtual sense.

I will try to be a bit more lighthearted from here on out. 'Tay?

Glasses
Anybody who says glasses aren't hot haven't seen this picture yet. Total hotness!

A closer look

Florida
Here are the pictures from Florida that I promised. Apparently I took a lot more than I remember. I thought it was maybe 50 photos and it turned out to be 148 not including what I'm not uploading to Flickr (maybe another 10). So enjoy. And, yeah, you have to click through from your reader to see the photo applet or you can just view the album directly on Flickr.

Baby
Suze and Nat, aren't you proud of your countrymen?

Derailed
And this might be one of the reasons I'm glad I don't take public transit. Can you imagine if that y-split in the rail wasn't there to catch them?


Quench my thirst with gasoline...

Yesterday I saw it. That thing I've been dreading for so long. I had heard rumors and seen news reports and photographs that other people had taken. But, until I saw it personally, I wasn't going to allow myself to believe it. And yet, there it was...

Regular unleaded gasoline for more than $4 per gallon. $4.07 to be exact. And after paying just $3.82 that very morning. Yeah, I say "just" as though $3.82 is a good price. Relatively speaking, I suppose it is.

I've also heard rumblings that, at this rate, the price will surpass $5 per gallon by June or July.

This is just disgusting and something desperately needs to be done about it.

Katie heard on the radio that some oil companies are feeling a slight pinch because people are not refueling all the way at their stations. They are purchasing just enough gas to get them to another station that will hopefully have lower prices. That's all fine and good, but you're still going to have to refuel, which means that someone is eventually going to get your hard-earned money anyway. And now  you're wasting more gas as you drive further and further to find that golden station with the ideal price.

Then there are the idiots who think those e-mails and campaigns in which they plead with you to not buy gas on a certain day are actually going to work. Well, hate to tell ya, but you're going to have to refuel sometime as well. Should you actually get enough people to buy into these bogus gas blackout days, the stations need only wait until, oh no, the next day to take your money.

There are only two things I can think to do that will help with this fuel crunch... buy more fuel-efficient vehicles (not necessarily hybrid, just fuel efficient) and stop buying oil from OPEC.

The first requires that we, as drivers, get over our bullshit belief that bigger and more expensive vehicles translate to greater prestige. I hate to break it to ya, buddy, but I could give a shit what you drive so long as you keep the flow of traffic moving at a steady clip. The only time I care about your car is when you act like an ass on the road and I mentally conceive how I'm going to make you pay for slowing my commute.

Opeclogo The second requires that our government get off their asses and find other sources of fuel. Guess what? The Middle East is not the only region that has storehouses of oil. Yes, I realize that there are more than just Middle Eastern countries that make up OPEC. I'm also pretty certain that there are other oil-producing countries that are not members of OPEC just chomping at the bit to make a name for themselves in the high-stakes world of oil production and exportation.

Let's work with Argentina and Brazil and other South and Central American countries. Let's also improve foreign relations with Russia whose vast Siberian countryside, I've been told, has plenty of oil available. Let's talk with President Putin and see what we can work out. And, geographically speaking, both regions are much closer to the United States than a majority of OPEC nations so less fuel would be wasted in transit.

I'm sure there has to be something I'm missing here. Some reason why we don't already do this. And it better not be some bullshit reason like "we've got agreements with OPEC as our primary supplier." Well, they keep raising the price to unreasonable levels and, I don't know about you, but that's reason enough to break off our agreement. Governments have broken contracts for less in the past.

So please tell me why... why do we keep on keepin' on with OPEC? Help me understand, will ya?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Okay, sorry to hit you so hard with current events up there. Here's something a bit lighter. Katie and I were watching Dancing With the Stars and, if you've ever seen the show, you know how just before they cut to commercial, they show some of the celebrities joking around backstage, right? Well, I was thinking that in a nod to figure skating's sordid history, one of these segments should feature Kristy Yamaguchi pretending to hit Cristian de la Fuente's other, uninjured arm with the same sort of telescoping club that was used in the infamous Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan attack. C'mon, wouldn't that just be hilarious?


Crazy, that's how it goes...

I'm just going to hop aboard and see where this train of thought takes me this morning. Buckle up! Don't worry, this train is eco-friendly.

Katie is done with school (ed note: done for the semester)! She knows, for certain, that she has As in two classes and she's pretty sure she got an A in the third class. I'd call that a nice start to her work towards an M.A. in education, wouldn't you? Thank you all for the well wishes the other day!

It's been kinda funny, though, being back together relatively early the last couple nights. We're not used to this. On so many Tuesdays and Wednesdays recently, we haven't seen each other until about 10 at night. Sometimes even later. We've actually been able to spend time together. We're like a married couple again.

Unfortunately, though, softball starts for me tonight. So that blows our Thursdays. Part of me is happy to be playing softball, part of me is not. I enjoy the game and I enjoy our team, but I hate giving up an evening. And since it's down in the city where I work, which is a 40 minute drive away (without traffic), there's no coming home between work and the game. With gas prices and commute times what they are, it's just not feasible. Sometimes I go to a local gym and work out, sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a movie on my laptop. I think tonight will be Kitchen Confidential on DVD.

Last night, after Katie finished her final and I finished dodgeball (yeah, that season's still going on, too), we met at our gym and worked out. At the end of it, I was watching some of the Cubs-Brewers game while riding a stationary bike. I'll tell ya what, if you're looking for entertainment value on TV, nothing quite compares to reading the closed captioning on live TV. Last night, they were talking about some player who hurt himself. I'm not sure who, but he had a torn lateral meniscus. I've heard of a meniscus, though I have no friggin' clue where it is. However, the caption typist wrote it out as "torn lateral men miss kiss." What is this? Clumsy man-on-man porn?

Speaking of porn, is anybody truly surprised about the whole Miley Cyrus flap? Honestly, not me. I'm sure it was all taken out of context as her parents and handlers argue and maybe there was a hope for something a bit more wholesome. But, in my mind, if wholesome is what you want, Vanity Fair is not the place to go to find it. Why not ask the Enquirer for truth in reporting? Or Fox News for balanced political coverage? I've seen what has happened to self-professed "good girls" like Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson in the past. I think my only surprise is that it happened so quickly for Miley. I was giving her until her 19th birthday.

I will admit, though, that I do now feel like my teen years were squandered. I should've dressed more provocatively... racy... sexy... It is my right after all, isn't it? Wait. Is it really too late? Can't I just try to make up for it all now? How about I plaster nude pics of myself all over my site? Yeah! I'm doing it!

...

Yeah, no. I'll leave that to Karl and Avitable. There will still be one blogger from BFF that remains fully clothed, dammit!

Okay, time to go to work. Clothed.


Shake, rattle, and roll...

Yep, there was an earthquake in the U.S. early this morning in an area that actually is not at threat for falling into the Pacific Ocean when the proverbial "big one" eventually does strike. And it hit a fault other than the dreaded San Andreas.

It was along the lesser known, red-headed stepchild to the San Andreas known as the New Madrid fault that runs roughly along the Mississippi River around the area where the states of Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas come within a few hundred miles of meeting up.

No, unlike Dariush and Mocha, I didn't feel a thing (thanks for asking, SJ!). And like Tori and her friend, I'm thoroughly bummed out about this, too. Seriously, this thing was a 5.2 on Heir Richter's namesake scale and I felt nothing. Admittedly, I did wake up at 4:30 for no reason whatsoever and I suppose this could be attributed to my sleep self having felt it. But my awake self remembers nothing at all.

I have experienced one earthquake in my life and it was, I believe, also a New Madrid jobber while I was living in Lexington, KY, in the early 80s. A few things shook, but only slightly. It was a rather small earthquake in the grand scheme of things and doesn't even warrant a mention on Wikipedia.

This time, though, I'm really upset about it. I feel like I miss out on so much natural phenomena. Sure, I waded and baled my way through the big Aurora/Naperville flood of 1996 and I weathered my way through Hurricane Gloria while living in Connecticut. But I've never seen the funnel cloud of a tornado nor have I been in an earthquake. For a weather phenomenon junkie like me, that's pretty saddening.

I want to see a tornado (not necessarily coming at me).

I want to feel an earthquake.

Mostly just to say I did. And to get some cool pictures or video. How badass a video post would those be?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): It suddenly dawned on me that I hadn't done a TUA in a while. Like a long while.

I found this joke out there on the Web and thought you might like it...

The old priest lay dying in the hospital. For years, he had faithfully served the people of the nation's capital in Washington D.C. He motioned for his nurse to come near.

"Yes, Father?" said the nurse.

"I would really like to see President Bill and Senator Hillary Clinton before I die," whispered the priest.

"I'll see what I can do, Father." replied the nurse.

The nurse sent the request to the Senate and waited for a response. Soon the word arrived; the Clintons would be delighted to visit the priest. As they went to the hospital, Hillary commented to Bill, "I don't know why the old priest wants to see us, but it certainly will help our images and might even get me elected President. After all, I'm IN IT TO WIN IT." Bill agreed--it was a very good thing for her campaign once they put out a press release about it.

When they arrived at the priest's room, the old priest took Bill's hand in his right hand and Hillary's hand in his left. There was silence and a look of serenity on the old priest's face. Finally Bill spoke. "Father, of all the people you could have chosen, why did you choose us to be with you as you near the end?"

The old priest slowly replied, "I have always tried to pattern my life after our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

"Amen," said Bill.

"Amen," said Hillary.

The old priest continued, "He died between two lying thieves. I would like to do the same."

HA!


A real American hero...

Some snippets!

Brah
I was talking to some guy the other day. Not sure who it was or what it was about, but when all was said and done, he finished off the conversation with "no problem, Brah." Yeah, "brah" pronounced like "Erin go..." or an article of feminine undergarment. Since when did this become a way to address your fellow male? "Bro"? Sure. "M'man"? Absolutely. "Homie"? Well, in limited instances. But to call me something that is held in near mythic levels of esteem amongst prepubescent boys (unless it's Molly Ringwald's panties) until they try to unfasten their first one is just downright strange.

Scarlett
Cinematical just posted a preview picture of how actress Rachel Nichols is going to look as Scarlett in next year's G.I. Joe movie. As if I wasn't geeked out enough by the casting of Dennis Quaid as Hawk and the pictures of how Ray Park looks as Snake Eyes, get a load of this...

Scarlettjoe2

Three words... hot, HOT, HAWT!

May the angels sing on high.

Freebies
I just noticed that my LinkShare subscription (what I use to allow me to link to the stuff in iTunes) also allows me to create a link to the free singles of the week. So, if you want free songs, there is a button in the sidebar for that now, too. I just gotta keep up with it and change it each week so we'll see how long that lasts. I do tend to get lazy.

Wordpress
I would like to say that Wordpress can suck the sweat off a dead donkey's hairy... well... you get me. Just because I'm posting lots of comments on a variety of different Wordpress-hosted blogs, this does not translate to me spamming Wordpress. THEY ARE DIFFERENT. Don't give me "WOAH! You're commenting too fast! Slow down!" messages, okay? Byte me.

Celeb-vote
Does anyone out there actually take stock in what candidate a celebrity endorses? In the wake of The Boss endorsing Barack Obama, as well as any number of other celebrity candidate endorsements, I was just wondering if anyone even cares?


Tell me what's on your mind...

I feel like there is a giant clock ticking behind my head and the world is leering over my shoulder as I sit here debating my choice for President of these United States come the November election.

Yeah, that's right, I'm still undecided, not just on candidate, but on party as well. Everyone has their pluses and minuses but, being the cynic that I am, I tend to look more at the minuses or what I perceive will be their potential faults.

But I think what is making matters worse is that I have yet to find a single article in the media recently that dishes on the candidates in a truly objective manner. Everyone gushes or everyone bashes, and I am sick and tired of it. I don't want to read anything put out by a candidate's campaign or party as you know that will be slanted. Nor do I want to read a book written by the candidate themselves (I'm just too afraid that I'll be disappointed should a candidate not live up to the ideal I set for them after reading their book).

I received the most recent issue of Rolling Stone with Obama on the cover and was looking forward to reading it (I'm a bit behind on reading my issues of RS right now). Until, that is, my officemate told me she finished reading it and described it as a "love letter to Barack Obama." Now I have absolutely no desire to read it at all. And the only thing worse is when a reporter claims to have no affiliation, but their writing reeks of a lean (check out James Poniewozik's interesting suggestion).

Why can't we find members of the media who have no leaning or, for the purpose of writing an article, can put aside their preconceived notions in favor of giving a fair and accurate portrayal of the candidates?

If there is an article out there that you can recommend, please do so. I need help. I realize I have half a year left, but I'd like to get started on the process of making up my mind. Please help.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): If your whole life came crashing down on you, would you try to auction it all away? Interesting.


Hit me with your best shot... fire away...

Guitarheroiii Okay, prior to the E3 conference in 2007, it was announced on IGN that Gibson Guitars had become an official partner with Activision, the creators of the ridiculously successful Guitar Hero series of games, so that the guitars that would be released with the then-upcoming Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock game would be styled after Gibson axes and bear the Gibson logo on the headstock.

The game has been out for months now on, I believe, all modern console video game stations. Again, it sold like wildfire. Hell, even I have it and love it because I'm rocking out with my Wii-model Gibson Les Paul, one of the finest guitars known to man.

Fans are happy, Activision is happy, and Gibson Guitars is happy.

Er... maybe not.

ComputerWorld reports that Gibson is claiming a patent infringement against Activision. They own a patent, filed in 1999, for technology that is intended to simulate a musical performance. Now, they believe Activision has violated it with Guitar Hero.

Never mind that this infringement claim was filed only this January... after three iterations of Guitar Hero have been released on multiple video game systems over the past three years... after Gibson became an OFFICIALLY LICENSED PARTNER WITH THE COMPANY MAKING THE GAME!

If you feel a company is violating a copyright, why the hell would you partner with them? Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but wouldn't this partnership imply some sort of tacit approval of the product that bears your logo and design work?

Wouldn't this be like the NFL suing Reebok for making replica jerseys after giving Reebok permission to use both the NFL logo and all the team logos on said jerseys?

How fucking stupid is this?

Guitarhero

Oh, for the record, I have begun playing it just on trial mode to get used to it before I start a career or whatever they call it. I freakin' love it! My best songs are Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on which I scored a 98% and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" that, on my first try, I nailed with 100%.

Now that I've played through all eight of the songs available in trial mode, I need to get working on that career.

RAWK!

By the way, I'm still waiting for Dave to create stickers of his Lil Dave with a Wii guitar so I can put it on my mini-Les Paul. Because that would just be cool.

Davetoon20


Won't you be my neighbor...

Some snippets for you...

Photos
I promise, the pictures from Florida will be up and ready to go tomorrow. They're mostly loaded... only mostly loaded. I'll have an album up tomorrow.

Robo
I've been wondering when I would start reading gripes about that incessant political robocalling that happens around election time. That's when you receive a call from a political candidate only it's not really the candidate but a recorded message either from them or some random lackey. They just keep getting worse and they're driving me nuts. And I totally agree with this newspaper blogger who theorizes that some people probably vote against candidates that use it excessively simply because they're pissed. Probably not the best way to elect someone to office, but I totally understand it.

Sweaters
FredrogersHey, they have Towel Day for Douglas Adams, so why not this?
In celebration of what would have been his 80th birthday, March 20 is now being declared "Sweater Day" in honor of Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.

I grew up loving Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. It was a fantastic show. Well, at least insofar as I remember it. Along with Electric Company, The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and reruns of The Brady Bunch, this show was the pinnacle of entertainment for me.

I think my favorite bit about the whole thing was the trolley and how it was the means by which we were transported between two different worlds... our reality and then the world of Make-Believe. I don't know why that simple transition did it for me, but it did.

So, yes, I will be wearing my sweater on March 20. Will you?

Bonus points if it's a zip-up cardigan and you actually sing the theme song to a coworker.

Hour
Hey, come join me in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 29 (8 p.m. CDT). It's a movement that started last year in Sydney, Australia, where people shut off all electronic equipment, cars, and other mechanized stuff and just, well, do what they would do if none of that stuff existed. Use your imagination. Not you, though, Avitable. Your imagination scares me.


Come tumblin' crumblin'...

It was made official yesterday... Cole Hall, site of the murders on the NIU campus on Valentine's Day, is going to be torn down. In its place they will construct a new academic building to be named Memorial Hall. This project is going to be funded by the State of Illinois because Governor Rod Blagojevich thinks it's the best way to move on.

Cole HallI have mixed emotions about this decision.

On one hand, I realize that many students are not going to want to see this building ever again, let alone enter it for a class. And, if you're an NIU student, you will have at least one class in here during your tenure at the university. It's a given considering it contains two of the largest lecture halls on campus. For some of the students to return to the building would be difficult.

Also, it's an old building and one that should either be severely renovated or rebuilt in the next decade anyway. So receiving funding from the state for the project is a good excuse to get moving.

However, on the other hand, it's hard to let go. This building holds a bit of history for everyone on campus. As big a lecture hall as it is, you could get away with a lot of shit in classes that were held there and, as a result, I have a lot of great memories from the building.

Plus, I feel almost as though they're punishing the building for something it had no control over. Did Virginia Tech tear down the building where the shootings happened last year? No (granted their building has a load of expensive equipment they were afraid of damaging during a move). Okay, yes, they did tear down the library at Columbine High School. But the school was already undergoing massive renovations as it was.

I also worry about where the money is really coming from. Yeah, the state is paying, but from what fund? We are having a tough enough time keeping the state's mass transit system afloat, which I find to be of much greater importance to the state's infrastructure than spending $40 million we don't have to tear down Cole and build Memorial on the taxpayer's dime.

I hate to sound so cold and callous because I love my alma mater and hate to see the campus, students, and faculty/employees suffer, but I just don't know that tearing it down is the answer.

I also hate to pander for comments here, but what do you think? If this happened at a place you know and love, what would you suggest to help rectify the situation, ex post facto?


Don't let the sun go down on me...

I'm really getting sick of this crap.

Just as things were starting to thaw out around here and I could start to see grass poking through our frozen wasteland, we get nailed... yet again. This is about the fifth or sixth serious snowstorm we've had this year. This does not include all the little snowfalls we've had as well. The land around here has been nothing but white for 10-12 weeks now.

Here are a couple pics to show how bad it was last night...

Enlightened     Cars

I had to go driving around 9 last night and just looked out at the farmland and areas that are being prepped for development and I swear, when you combine the snow, murky white clouds, and odd late-night natural and artificial lighting, I'd have sworn I was scouting locations for a remake of Doctor Zhivago.

And, as much as I normally like snow, I'm done. I can't take anymore.

Looks like Guth agrees.

I'm thankful Katie and I are going to Florida this weekend considering we're supposed to get more snow. I only hope we make it out in time. God knows how willing O'Hare Airport is to nix flights from its schedule.

I'm also going to do my part to try to usher out the snowy season... that's right, I'm ditching the snow theme from the blog. It's time to go! Nah nah hey hey goodbye and all that jazz. Let's hope the new theme (that Katie helped design) engenders some goodwill with Mother Nature.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): When I posted the testosterone and finger measurement info, I was taken aback at the fact that nearly everyone who replied said their pointer finger was shorter. There had to be somebody, I thought.

Then I realized I f'd up the graphic. I had the lines in the right place, but the words in the bubble were off. It was supposed to read "ring finger" and not "middle finger." So, if your ring finger is longer than your index finger, you have higher levels of testosterone than if they were the other way around.

Does this affect anybody differently who replied before?


Turn the Page...

I'm curious... what was your type back in high school? I mean, what type of person were you interested in? Sexually aroused by? Who "did it" for you? Was there even a certain type of person or were you the stereotypical horny teenager that was turned on by anything with the proper sexual organs and a heartbeat?

This question is open to everyone out there.

I ask because Jeffrey Wells has now claimed twice how it's improbable that anyone of the high school age would find Ellen Page of Juno to be cute enough to want to hang out with let alone knock up. He does think that Page did a great job in the role but that she was miscast and the role needed to be played by a more stereotypical teen queen actress. I'm assuming that translates to the three Bs -- "blonde," "big boobed," and "bimbotastic" -- but I can't be absolutely certain without grilling Wells personally.

Ellenpagejuno I'm not sure what decade Wells grew up in, but couldn't this happen to anyone and isn't that the point of the movie? That Juno, as played by Ellen Page, was thought to be highly unlikely to get pregnant and, yet, here she is, knocked up. Thus proving that sexual curiosity can strike anyone.

Okay, enough of the aside on teen pregnancy. But what about Page? Why not her? I actually think that Ellen Page is incredibly cute in a normal, non-overdone, and girl-next-door sort of way and exactly the sort of person I would be friends with in high school.

I was a geek, it's true. My friends can confirm that. And a couple of them remind me of Juno. Maybe not quite as spitfire on a regular basis as her, but close. Sarcasm was my thing. Being judgmental of others was a trait that appealed to me. Up to that point in my life, I had been ridiculed by classmates for so long that it was hard not to do the same back. So I did. And I wound up with friends who acted similarly. And we would sit and ridicule together.

I will also admit that this sort of conspiratorial, antisocial behavior was a bit of a turn on. Kinda like finding your soulmate in the depths of personal despair. No, I never acted on those feelings, but they were there. Sass did it for me. Yes, Juno would have done it for me at that age. So long as she wasn't ridiculing me the whole time.

Thanks to Cinematical for the idea for this post. I would've commented this there, but it was just way too much to simply leave as a comment.

Speaking of movies, this is the first weekend in a couple months where I'm actually a bit excited by what's coming out at the show. We've had such a dry spell of late. But, finally, Charlie Bartlett is coming out! Katie and I have been looking forward to that for some time now. And it's got one of the greatest actors of our time in it, Robert Downey Jr. He's had a rough go of it and it's all his fault, no question. But that doesn't take away from his ability to act, that's for damn sure.

Plus, we also get Be Kind Rewind. I'm not a Jack Black fan, but I dig on Mos Def and the film is directed by Michel Gondry, one of the greatest music video directors ever. Not sure how that will translate to feature length, but we'll see.

And, if there's still time left, we also have Vantage Point. I fear when a seemingly big budget action flick with a cast like this is released during the dry season, but I'll give it a shot.

Update: Okay, I feel like a moron. I express concern over Michel Gondry shooting feature-length films only to be reminded by a movie review that he also directed Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep among others. Guess I can put to rest that concern.