Photography 2005-09

I want to ride it where I like...

As I type this, Katie's asleep on the couch. We're supposed to go run some errands and get some stuff done, but we just got back about an hour ago from a 20-mile bike ride up and down the Fox River Trail

We had beautiful weather and it was a gorgeous ride, save for the point where you ride past the sewage treatment plant in Batavia. If you weren't feeling hunger pangs before...

But Katie's now completely wiped. I know she's getting tired on our rides when she starts to lean forward with her forearms on the handlebars instead of her hands. Never a good sign. Thankfully that didn't happen until about mile 18. 

She did take a few pictures. Sadly my PowerShot is in the shop with a busted zoom dial. But Katie took some (one of those times when Facebook readers should click through to view the photos)

Do I wake her up? I know we've got a lot to do, but I'm not suicidal.

I'm so stoked about this little gem I ordered. It's an official Invaded! coffee mug for Avitable's 2009 Halloween party

This thing is truly a work containing both fine craftsmanship from the folks at Zazzle.com and the artwork of Dave from Blogography. 

Invaded!   Invaded!

Unlike most coffee mugs, the design is not raised at all. It is so protected by ceramic glaze that there is no way to accidentally damage the logo without destroying the mug. And it's a heavy-duty mug at that. This is my favorite coffee mug second only to the kick-ass Jack Skellington mug that Katie bought me down at Disneyworld last year.

Kudos to Adam, Dave, and Zazzle on a fine product.

And no, I'm not receiving any sort of compensation from Adam, Dave, or Zazzle for this shameless plug other than warm, fuzzy feelings. I can't even go to the party. I'm just going to have to celebrate with my mug.

*sniffle*


It all keeps adding up, I think I'm cracking up...

All animals have their quirks, right? Oh God, I hope they do or we apparently have psycho-dog on our hands. Okay, even if they don't have quirks, just tell me they do so I don't have to live in fear for my life the rest of the time that Lilly's with us, okay?

Anyway, now that you've all reassured my nerves (you did, right?), I'd like to share one of the many quirks that Lilly has. I'm sharing it because we finally captured it on video. You see Lilly likes to spaz out on occasion. I got a photo of it one time, but it's hard to really make out what happens based on a single still frame.

Spazzing

And yet it's hard to know when she'll go into a full-blown episode to be able to capture it on video. The only time we can guarantee it will happen is after she's taken a bath. So here's Lilly in all her post-bath glory. We hope you enjoy.


Lilly's Freak Out from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

And please forgive us the titling on the video. It's the first time either Katie or I have played with iMovie. I couldn't get it to work for the life of me (I could create titles, but iMovie refused to add them to my video on the iMac), but Katie got it to work on her new MacBook with a newer version of iMovie. I think she did a great job and I'm sure she'll only get better. It's just sad that I, with the media studies degree, can't figure the damn thing out. So she just may be my editor from here on out. We'll see.

Oh, and even though I've proclaimed my disgust with Green Day (oh god, how I love re-reading those comments on occasion; warms my cockles), even I've gotta admit that "Basketcase" is the perfect song to title this post.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I've been trying for nearly a year now to convince Katie to play. And she's staunchly refused. "No," she'll say. "I just don't want to. It just doesn't look fun."

How can Guitar Hero III on the Wii not be fun?

Well, something tipped the scales in my favor and finally drove her to want to play. It came in the form of a challenge from Kristy of Our News... All the Time who received Guitar Hero II for her Playstation II for Christmas. She and her husband, Graham, play a lot. Graham says he just can't quite grasp it but Kristy's glomming on like nobody's business. She'll play on medium and handily defeat Graham who's playing on easy.

I get the feeling this is going to turn into a tag team duel. I'll have to play the medium level (of which I've only played a little bit, but I rock all but one of the easy songs at a 93%+ rating) against Kristy while Katie tackles Graham at the easy setting.

I think we're going to have to spend the next several weeks with a hardcore diet of Guitar Hero III and deprive her of all other things. Oh, we may just have to. There is no way the kapgars are going down. No, no. Not to some Mommy Blogger and her hubby. ;-)

Oh it's on... it's on like Donkey Kong!


When you're all alone...

First off, I want to thank everyone here for all their birthday wishes. I was truly overwhelmed. To be honest, I wasn't sure if anyone would catch on to my image reference. Yep, that is Sweetness himself, Walter Payton, donning #34, the age I turned on Friday.

However, anyone who has friended me on Facebook needn't have bothered with the reference as they were reminded on their own and I received nearly 30 well wishes. After a couple years on Facebook, during which I've received only a couple birthday wishes, seeing approximately 30 this year just blew my mind. I guess I actually should start paying attention to the birthday list and returning these sentiments. So, anyone not on Facebook, please get on there. It's going to be my primary method of keeping track of your birthdays. Lord knows I won't remember on my own. Seriously... I won't. I'm bad like that. So I guess it's nice to have Facebook.

Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, I took some pictures of the Christmas decorations around our house. I would've taken more of the Christmas tree, but we have a bunch of unwrapped presents underneath and I don't want to reveal them. I'll get a new photo of that later on. Enjoy what I have otherwise in this pictobrowser (or over on Flickr)...

Did I forget to make note of the camera used to take these pictures? Yeah, it's my brand new Sony Alpha A350. Got it earlier today. I bought just the body of it, though, at the Sony outlet store. It's a refurbished camera and with nothing additional but the battery, covers, cords, manuals, etc., and with an additional 20% discount this weekend only, it came to $471. I did tack on a memory card and a four-year protection plan so it came out to a bit more total. But still. I love it. It's wonderful.

My rig

Thank you Katie!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I woke up this morning and took my shower then came into the bedroom to wake Katie up. She was buried under the covers. Up over her head, in fact. So I peeled back the covers from her head and said, in a sing-song manner, "Katieeeeeee."

She looked at me with the good ol' Katie stinkeye and said, "There is no Katie, only Zuul.

"Are you the Gate Keeper?"

My wife, the movie geek.


I got a devil's haircut...

Katie and I are up watching the Olympics last night, it's about 10:30 p.m. and I'm dying. Simply nodding in and out of sleep for the next 15 minutes until we decide to go upstairs. We turn on the Olympics up there and I decide I'm going to sleep regardless. I nod off and then Katie turns out the light. I wake up long enough to kiss her goodnight and see her fall dead to the world.

And, of course, I wind up awake until sometime after 1 a.m. How the hell is this fair?

So, um, yeah, my creativity is kinda shot and I had this really cool idea for a post I was going to write that would serve as a review of this razor that was sent to me as a freebie. You probably saw it over on Karl's site. Apparently we were both hit up at the same time. Combine my tiredness factor with the fact that Karl already did the cutesy review and I'm sorry, but you're not going to wind up with a bunch of photos of people with curious shavings in their heads and facial hair with parts of my own face Photoshopped over them. Just ain't happenin', folks. Shame because I was really looking forward to my face with Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn's zigzag hair from Major League.

[I realize not all of you appreciate product placement, but if you stay tuned, I've got a couple video snippets from the TDFN: Pizza episode in the extended post. No, really!]

Instead, you're going to get a straightforward review of the new Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer (to be referred to henceforth as the "SQTT").

In the simplest terms, the SQTT is an all-in-one razor and trimmer. One end is your standard razor with four blades, a moisturizing strip, and a single edging blade on the reverse face of the blade. I always like having an edging blade. Pretty handy when you've got cutoff sideburns and a goatee like me. However, on the opposite end of this device is a battery-powered trimmer with a three-setting protective head cover. While I haven't looked for it in stores, I was told by the guy that contacted me that this thing goes for about $14 retail. Not bad considering I spend about $7-8 for a razor and $15 for a trimmer.

The razor works just as well as you'd expect. Nice, clean shave. Didn't nick myself at all and the moisturizing strip makes the blades just glide over my face. One strange thing is getting used to how big this thing is. Most of my razor handles are about half the width of this thing, if not less. Plus the battery and motor used for the trimmer adds quite a bit of heft to the thing. It may sound odd, but once you've been shaving with a certain type of razor, this additional weight can take some getting used to in order to make sure you don't overapply pressure and cut yourself. Thankfully, it really took me no time to get used to it.

The trimmer is a nice little toy to have on this thing. It's a small trimmer head, but it's perfect if you travel a lot and don't want to carry a large trimmer in your luggage. However, the size means it is best used on small areas (no jokes, people!) like sideburns. I used it on my goatee and it took a little longer than I'm used to in order to finish trimming. But the results were quite nice. If you plan on trimming a full beard, you'd better have the patience of a saint, though.

The entire unit is waterproof, which is great. I almost always shave in the shower and knowing that I can use this thing without worrying about frying it or myself is a plus.

My only true concern now is with how much replacement blades cost. The housing used to connect the blade to the base unit is unlike any I've seen before (maybe this is the standard Schick Quattro and I just haven't used one yet), and the high cost of replacement blades is something that has irked me for years.

I would've also liked to see it come with a little bottle of oil that could be used to lube up the trimmer, though, and possibly a cleaning brush. Most trimmers I've owned come with both these things.

Would you like to see the final result? Here you go...

Tom and Katie
Ain't I sexy? Okay, so my creativity was only mostly shot. This was a quick grab and slap, though.
But, c'mon! Tom Selleck in Mickey ears is quality comedy gold!

Overall, I'd give it a B+ bordering on an A-. If you hurry over to TrimFlixx.com and make yourself a free gag movie (akin to those viral dancing elves videos around Christmas time), you can score yourself a free razor. Or at least I think you still can. It might end this week, though, so HURRY!

Continue reading "I got a devil's haircut..." »


Bye bye, Miss American Pie...

They say that, sometimes, pictures speak louder than words. I'd like to take a moment to measure the decibel level of a few I took yesterday. If you're interested in more, click on over to Flickr.

Carillon

Reflection

Americana

Okay, so the last photo doesn't exactly fit in the theme I had started. But it's pie! Everyone loves pie! Why question it?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): A happy belated sixth birthday to my friend, lover, and slavemaster.


Until I touch the midnight sun...

It's another snippet kinda day for me.

Where the Hell in Google Earth is...
It suddenly dawned on me that I never revealed the answers for the latest installment of Where the Hell in Google Earth is? Maybe I was holding out hope that more people would guess and those final few would be figured out. Anyway, here are the answers...

  1. Universal Studios, California, USA - good call, Dave.
  2. Paramount King's Island, Ohio, USA
  3. Six Flags - Great America, Illinois, USA - good rationale, Kilax, wrong picture, though.
  4. Epcot Center, Florida, USA - good call, Dave.
  5. Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, USA - I'm kinda shocked Dave didn't get this one.
  6. Sea World - San Diego, California, USA - the prize goes to SJ.
  7. Disneyland Resort Paris, France - good call, Dave.

Photo ops
This was pretty cool. Late last week, I received an out-of-the-blue e-mail from a local park district official saying that she was searching through online photo repositories when she found mine. She really dug my photos and my blog and asked if I would be interested in teaching a class on personal Web site design and basic photography.

Um... heck yeah! Sign me up.

Bear in mind that nothing is set in stone. She was just throwing around ideas for a spring course booklet and, when we talk, it may turn out that nothing will come of this. But one can hope all the same.

I don't need Cialis, really
Have any of you Gmail users out there been receiving an inordinate amount of spam in the last week? By "inordinate" I mean "a helluva lot more than usual." Just over the course of this past weekend, I tallied 175 spam messages of which I'd say 90% have been about Cialis. Already today I've received 30+ spams. Thankfully, they seem to have moved beyond the Cialis push.

Dear God, does it ever end? I pray for a day when all the governments of the world give us "shoot on sight" freedom regarding known spammers. Again, one can hope.

Go Bears!
That's all I want to say. It's their first Monday Night Football game in some time, so I wish them well as they go to pound the everloving crap out of Arizona.


Latest Fun With Dead Trees reviews - Claire returns with reviews of Setting Your Genius Free: How to Discover Your Spirit and Calling by Dick Richards, Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere by Michael Kimmelman, and Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding & Correcting Common Dog Problems by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier.


But everybody's watchin' TV...

To fulfill a challenge thrown out there by Ninja Poodles, I present you with the contents of my TiVo Now Playing list as it stands on Thursday, September 21, 2006, at 7:00 a.m. (or thereabouts).

Here is her description (yeah, Wife Swap is her shame, not mine)...

Got TiVo?  Or any other DVR? Go, right now, pull up your "Now Playing" screen, and snap a photo of whatever is at the very top. No cheating, just whatever is the top page of your recorded (or currently recording) shows.   Come on, show your shame.  I did--"WIFE SWAP," people!!

Post the result on your site, and leave a link in the comments here, OR send it to me in an email, at ninjapoodles@gmail.com. If we get a decent number of responses, I've started a flickr group (where you can either add your dares yourself, or, if you don't have a flickr account, send them to me and I'll add them), and perhaps the "dare" will become a regular feature, and maybe eventually evolve beyond the "show and tell" phase. 

Yes, we do have a second TiVo in our bedroom that has some interesting stuff on it. But Katie is asleep and I wasn't going to wake her up for this. Sorry.

Here you go...

TiVo

So we have last night's Tonight Show because we want to see the interview with The Office's Steve Carell, Kidnapped, Justice (one of our current addictions), Miami Ink (I love this show), Ebert & Roeper (the podcast wasn't doing it for me), three episodes of Psych (one of the best shows on TV right now, IMHO), nine episodes from last season of The Office (even though we now own the season on DVD), and the car dealership/Twix episode of Seinfeld.

What's on your TiVo?

Oh, and don't worry, I have not forgotten... the fourth and final lyrical challenge will go live later today. Promise!


Hot shoe burnin' down the avenue...

I'm really behind on some of the photographic retrospectives I've been meaning to post about. They've all been loaded to my computer, but I tend to slack about uploading to Flickr. Oh well. They're uploaded now, so I can post them. I hope you all don't mind a couple photo posts this week.

The first one is from the Swedish Days festival in Geneva that happened on the weekend of June 23-25. We went down there with Brian and Jen on Friday and had us a good ol' time. What with two local wineries having a lot of tastings going on and all of us being of age... how can you not have fun?

Katie and I
Even though this photo of Katie and I is dark, I still like it. Some of you may recognize the shirt.

Hot dogs
Thankfully, not a Chicago-style dog.

Continue reading "Hot shoe burnin' down the avenue..." »


I'm talkin' about devil crabs...

Sorry, no meme today. Taking a Saturday off so I can catch up on some fun posts after this week's current events charge into the Blogosphere.

I pray I'm not the only one out there who watches My Name is Earl. It's a great show and one of the few sitcoms that NBC is still showing. It's also been renewed for next season, so either I'm not the only one who watches it or I hold far more influence over NBC execs than I previously anticipated.

Yeah, okay. Anyway, I was driving to Panera for lunch yesterday when I looked in front of me and suddenly exclaimed, "Holy crap! Crabman's flinging rubberbands at me! And he's enormous!"

The Mobile Crabman

Alas, it was merely an old OfficeMax truck with their spokesperson of a couple years past, Eddie Steeples, who now costars as Darnell "Crabman" Turner on My Name is Earl along with Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee.

But what makes this vehicular encounter even funnier is that, down in the bottom left of the truck's backdoor, someone finger scrawled in the grime, "Hey Crabman". It's not the easiest thing to see, so I blew it up a bit. Hope it helps.

Heycrabman_1

I used to love those old OfficeMax commercials. Steeples made me laugh to no end. Before Earl started, I always wondered what happened to those commercials, then I found out... their star moved on to bigger and better things.

I really wish they'd re-air those commercials. Or maybe make fun of them in an episode of Earl. That would be a great nod to his past.


A little bit is better than nada...

I may be spending the majority of this week doing nothing but Lost Blogging, but I still miss my regular posting. I just haven't had the time to do it each and every day this week. I thought taking the week off would allow me more time to blog. Well, it really hasn't. Yes, I've spent an inordinate amount of time at the keyboard (an amount Katie is not happy with), but I still feel like there is so much more I need to do here. It's insane. As much as I love doing this, I can't wait for this week to be over and I can return to my regular schedule.

But I do have another non-Lost Blog post for you all to read. It regards the Christopher Moore book signing I attended this past Sunday.

Since I had my place in line secured as well as my new copies of his book, I waited a bit to go in. I wanted to spend some time with Katie since I had to open the gym that morning and would soon be going in for the signing without her (she didn't want to go).

I finally left at about 12:45 p.m. and arrived at the bookstore at 1:30. It was mayhem. First, it was a sunshiny weekend in Naperville, so people were everywhere and parking was practically nonexistent. I should've known better after living there as long as I did.

The bookstore itself seemed sedate from the outside. Only a few people waiting in line to buy their books. So I went inside rather happy. Until I realized that the lack of people up front was because they were all already in back listening to him. He had been out amongst them all for nearly a half hour. It was his "informal" portion of the day.

Already finding a good place to stand and listen was shot.

I finally found a spot to stand and this was the view I had.

Christopher Moore at Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, 2006

Not bad, but it could've been better. At least I caught a video of his entrance. A little too large to post here without killing my bandwidth allowances for the month. Oh, and am I the only one who thinks he bears a passing resemblance to George Mason (Xander Berkeley) on the early seasons of 24?

He spoke to us for quite a while and was hilarious. Most of his talk was about the research he put into defining the "Beta Male" in society. Yes, we all know about the "Alpha Male," but how much do we know about the "Beta Male." Apparently, not enough. He found nothing surfing the Web, so he defined it himself. This is important because this concept is the focus of his new book, A Dirty Job... a book I still have yet to read since I only purchased it that day. So I was a bit lost, but still able to laugh all the same.

Then came book signing time.

Christopher Moore signing

I was #16 in line and that was incredible considering there were over 200 people in attendance. I had two books with me in addition to my two copies of A Dirty Job that I purchased. I do own two more of his books, but I didn't want to be hogging his time having him sign a half dozen books. So I opted out of the two new books I received for Christmas (The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story) and had him sign my out-of-print copies of Lamb and The Stupidest Angel. I think he appreciated seeing the old covers of both books. I just wish I had an old hardcover copy of Lamb like the guy who was two ahead of me in line. Very cool cover on that one. C'est la vie.

Well, here's the inscription on my copy of Lamb...

Lamb

A little blurry, sorry. But it works and I'm too lazy to take a new photo.

And here's one of the copies of A Dirty Job I had signed.

Belinda's book

Yes, Belinda from Ninja Poodles, this would be your copy. I had it inscribed to "Belinda from Arkansas" just like you wanted. Moore laughed when I explained why you wanted it inscribed this way and agreed that there's no way he's coming to a signing in Arkansas simply because you are his only reader there. He also jokingly implied that literacy is a marginal requirement for living in Arkansas.

You're supposed to laugh at that last comment.

So, how should I get this to you in semi-decent shape? E-mail me. You know the new address.

Oh, and for any fans of Moore, the next book he's working on is the sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends. That announcement was met with great applause.


And many mo-o-o-o-o-re...

Now that it's all over and I've got the photos uploaded and caption at Flickr, I can finally talk about what happened this past weekend.

Although the actual event does not occur for another month and a half, we held a surprise 60th birthday party for my Mom on Saturday night at Traverso's, an Italian restaurant in Naperville. It was a lot of fun and we got a lot of pictures to show for it all.

Traverso's
The scene of the crime... Traverso's Italian restaurant in Naperville. Both my brother and I worked there one summer.

My Mom's seat
My dad saved all these things from his 60th birthday party last year for my mom to wear this year.

Mom walks in
The trap is sprung. My Mom's on the left and that's her friend, Lynda, on the right.

The attire
And wear all that stuff she did. All night long.

The floating heads
Three of the co-conspirators. I was manning the camera and my Dad was working the crowd.

Mom and Dad
My Mom and Dad.

The speech
Lynda delivering the first toast while my Mom hides her face. Brian, Jen, Katie, and I delivered a toast/roast as well, but I don't have those photos. I hope someone does.

Blowing out the candles
Thankfully for her, we didn't make her blow out 60 candles.

The aftermath
It was quite a good cake. No leftovers. My Dad was a bit upset.

The teeth
And who to blame?

Opening our gift
Mom opening the gift from Katie, Brian, Jen, and I.

The gift
It was a charm bracelet that Katie had custom made with the birthstones of all four of us (and, as she likes to point out, room for charms of the grandkids, when they happen).

The hug
My Mom's reaction. Yes, she did cry.

Lemon Drops
One final photo of how the four of us spent our evening while setting up. God bless lemon drops.

It was a fun night. Nearly 35 people showed up and we took up nearly the entire event room at Traverso's. The bill? Yeah, I think my Dad would prefer I not talk about it. Quite a few more photos are available for your perusal on Flickr.


It's not easy being green...

Yes it is. Or, at least, this past Friday, it was pretty damn easy.

Katie and I met up with my brother, Brian, his fiancee, Jen, and their neighbor, Josh, at a bar called Venice Tavern in Batavia, IL, for a night of festivities. Considering it was the first time Katie and I have ever been able to celebrate St. Patrick's Day together, we were taking full advantage of it.

We ordered up a couple pizzas in the dining room and downed them. Then we made our way to the bar and drank for several hours. It was crowded, smoky, restricting, loud... everything you would expect from a bar on St. Patty's Day.

Here's a photographic retrospective of the night...

Katie and me
A little blurry, but I like the photo too much to not use it

Josh, Jen, and Katie
Josh, Jen, and Katie... I wonder if Josh can get any redder?

The double lip lock
Yes, yes he can.

Cheers!
Brian and me toasting in the evening. I know, I know... Bud Light... he was paying, not me. Can't argue when it's free.

Prada or Prado?
Katie and I spent the night decorating Jen's faux Prada purse with Bud Light stickers... both sides.

Jen and Brian
Awwww... aren't they cute?

Katie and me
We're cuter.

The Kiss
Told ya so.

These are just a few of the photos. More are available in our Flickr photo set.


Here we go Steelers, here we go...

I got an e-mail from my grandma this morning.  Being the bit Pittsburgh Steelers fan that she is, what was attached to the message was no surprise whatsoever.  Well, especially considerig she told me about it the night before and I asked her to sent it to me.

It's a series of photos from the Steelers victory parade in Pittsburgh.  They were taken by my mom's aunt, Judy, and compiled in a Powerpoint slideshow and it's really nice.  Some of these photos are truly stunning as the crowd turnout is just unbelievable.

I was not at the victory parade for the White Sox after they won the World Series last year, but the photos and video footage that I have seen make it pale in comparison to these Steelers photos.

Even if you are not a football or Steelers fan, you've gotta check these out.  Particularly the one of the parking deck.  Wow.

This file is a little over 3MB in size.  So, if you have a dial-up connection, it may take a little time.  Be patient, it's worth it.


No! We ain't gonna take it...

I've gotta say that this whole James Frey thing has been blown out of proportion.  People want his head on a pike because he embellished on his memoirs.  They want their money back!

Yes, he lied.  He admits it.  He's feeling the wrath of America (and some of the rest of the world, perhaps).  And I'm sure it's not that much fun for him, either.  And then, to have Oprah, who initially supported you, turn her back on you and attack you for an entire episode of her show.  Well, that's just going a bit far.

I'm not condoning the fact that he lied.  It's not right.  But it's not something to get this worked up about.  Especially when we have a president whose lies have had much graver consequences.  And we're worrying about a book.  Way to prioritize, America!

Well, I'm going to jump on the smaller of the two bandwagons here and lend my support for James Frey.  And I'm doing so symbolically.

My attack shall be exacted against the two-faced witch who made demonizing this guy chic.  That's right... the Queen of Sting, Oprah Winfrey.

The Cover: Pre Assault

The Cover: Mid Assault

The cancer removed

Eliminating the cancer forever

The Cover: Renewed

Now, isn't the end result that much better than the original?  I thought so, too.  And it felt so good to do.

Sorry the torch picture isn't clearer.  It was a bit of a race against time as it was burning awfully close to my fingers by the time the camera reset for another shot.  So, you'll just have to deal with it.

People, it's a book.  Move on with your lives and take this as a cue that you should take anything you read (books, magazines, newspapers, etc.) with a grain of salt.