4 posts from June 2004

Oldies: Sunday, June 20 - Saturday, June 26, 2004...

Friday, 25 June 2004: This weekend will span the spectrum of emotions. On Saturday, Katie and I will be in Iowa for the wedding of her best friend's brother. We're spending the night there and I'm heading back out to Chicagoland early for the memorial service of the mother of one of my best friends.

Talk about your extremes.

Thursday, 24 June 2004: It's amazing how everyone is jumping on this low carb bandwagon. Whether it's an alliance with Atkins, South Beach, or just a basic low-carb offering, everyone is getting on board.

I say this because Katie recently came home with Atkins Chocolate Milk which I think is actually really good. Plus, I was at Subway where they have the Atkins Wraps and they also just started selling Doritos Edge which is the low-carb version of our favorite Doritos nacho cheese chips. My advice to you on these new chips... stay the heck away. They are God awful. It's like biting into chalk with a hint of nacho cheese flavoring. Blech!

So based on how everyone is offering low-carb alternatives and I don't mean just low-carb product producing companies, but also established companies (e.g. Frito Lay) and restaurants who are altering their menus (e.g. Applebees), would you say that this low-carb craze will last longer than most regular fad diets? 

Tuesday, 22 June 2004: So my friend Chris (or as we lovingly refer to him... "Mojo") lives in Orlando and works with Boeing as a contract employee at NASA. He was at work the other day and a coworker comes up to him and tells him that the Stanley Cup is in one of the other rooms in the building. Yes, you read right, the Stanley Cup.

Of course, being the sports nut that he is, he boogied on over and got his picture taken with it. 

How cool would it be to stand next to the most storied trophy in sports history? Each year, new Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Championship, etc., trophies are cast. The Stanley Cup is the only trophy I know of that gets passed on from year to year. If you don't win it the next year, you have nothing to show off in your trophy case.

Mojo told me that the original Stanley Cup was retired to the NHL Hall of Fame back in 1960. Even if this is a new one, it's still 44 years old. That's still 15 years older than me and it's still a ton of history right there in that Cup. I think it would be cool as hell.

Monday, 21 June 2004: Be happy, the trip photos are now posted. And, ideally later today or tomorrow, I will have up the Father's Day photos. Not nearly as many of those so it shouldn't take all that long.

Sunday, 20 June 2004: Happy Father's Day to all daddies out there. Myself not included. Not yet, anyway. Maybe sometime down the line.

For Father's Day, Katie and I invited both sets of parents to our apartment for a cookout. My Nano came as well because she was in town. It was a lot of fun if I do say so myself. Everyone stuck around for about four or five hours and we just talked and ate and, generally, had a good time.

Does this mean we're off the hook for Thanksgiving?

Oh, and pictures are coming.

Oldies: Sunday, June 13 - Saturday, June 19, 2004...

Friday, 18 June 2004: Once again, I have returned to my blissful zone of television ignorance. I don't care what's on the tube and it is rarely turned on except to watch movies. I love it. The television off season should be much longer. I would be in heaven. Or, better yet, just release all TV shows straight to DVD so we can rent or buy them and watch them at our leisure instead of having to stick to the messed up programming schedules that networks establish... and then reestablish later in the season... and then jumble up for sweeps periods... and then... Yeah, you get it. Why have a schedule if you don't stick to it?

Thursday, 17 June 2004: It really pains me when someone I really like does something stupid. Much like George Lucas and the Star Wars trilogy. But not to harp on a dead topic. This one is something new.

Back in 1997, the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, INXS, killed himself in a hotel room. Since that time, the band has been in a bit of a limbo state. They have performed as INXS but with a new lead singer (Jon Stevens) to, likely woefully, try to fill the shoes of Michael Hutchence. Now, to find a permanent lead singer, the band — Garry Beers, Kirk Pengilly, and the Farriss brothers, Andy, Tim, and Jon — have teamed with Mark Burnett of Survivor fame to create Rock Star, a show much like American Idol, in which the winner will become the new lead singer of INXS.

How could you guys do this? It's shameful and disgusting and you're trouncing on Hutchence's memory. I'm ready to guarantee that he is turning over in his grave.

Read more about it from E! Online.

Wednesday, 16 June 2004: You wanna know what's really nice? When you take the day after your actual vacation as yet another vacation day. Great way to unwind a bit and let everything in life return to normal. That's what today is... the decompression day. And it is very welcome.

Tuesday, 15 June 2004: Unfortunately, today was our last day in LA. We didn't want to leave because that meant that we would be returning to "reality". I hate reality. I want to be a professional beach bum. Do they pay you for that?

The flight home was much better this time. It actually ran a little early. We had a meal instead of just a snack box. Drink service came around several times (we stuck to Coke and Ginger Ale). Very little turbulance. Much nicer. Katie attributes it to a completely female flight crew. Yep, pilot and co-pilot were women. That's a first for both of us. But it worked nicely.

Only bad thing about the flight was that they switched out the movie on us. It was supposed to be Starsky & Hutch and we were really looking forward to seeing it. Instead, we were stuck with Win a Date With Tad Hamilton. I didn't really care much for that movie the first time around. Bummer.

But I got a really great shot of Katie during the flight with the digicam. You'll see it at the end of the photo album entry for this trip.

Oh, and congrats to the Pistons who won the NBA Finals four games to one over the Lakers.

Monday, 14 June 2004: It was hard to really get going today. Since Jason had to work, Katie, Kara, and I went to the beach and then went to check the sites in Venice. Afterwards, we met up with Jason at a sports bar in a marina in Venice for our last hurrah. It was fun and the waitress/bartender could mix some mean drinks.

We went home after watching a pretty big chunk of the Cubs/Astros game and played Skip-Bo until the wee hours. We all love that game and have a lot of fun playing it. Now if only I could actually win it...

Sunday, 13 June 2004: Today was just a lazy day. If you read yesterday's entry, you should know how tough it was to get up today. Katie and Kara headed into Simi Valley to hit an outlet mall (probably an unconscious effort to make up for the shock of the prices at Rodeo Drive) and Jason and I watched the Cubs/Angels game followed by game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Pistons and the Lakers. If you know Jason, then you realize how difficult it is to tear him away from the tube when something important like the NBA Finals is on. Hell, it's hard to tear him away from SportsCenter and that's on how many times a day? Heh heh.

Go fig, the Cubs won the last two games of the series against the Halos. Do they win when we're there? Of course not. At least the Pistons won. Now they're up three games to one against the Lakers and hopefully they'll win game 5 on Tuesday. You would think that I, being from Chicago where Phil Jackson (current Lakers coach) steered the Bulls to six championships, would be a Lakers fan. Heck, if you knew what a Lakers fan I was in the days of Magic and Kareem, you'd think I would still be one. Nope. Can't stand Shaq and I never could. Don't have much feeling one way or the other for Kobe other than I don't think he raped the girl in Colorado. He had sex with her, yes. But, in my opinion, it was consensual. As a basketball player, I don't really care much about Kobe. The Lakers have won three out of the last four NBA Finals, time for another team. Go Pistons.

Oldies: Sunday, June 6 - Saturday, June 12, 2004...

Saturday, 12 June 2004: You want a good way to depress yourself (if you are an average citizen much like Katie and I are)? Wander around on Rodeo Drive a bit.

That's part of what the four of us did today. As pretty as it is, unless you actually have the money to do something on that road, I do not recommend going there. It is so easy to tell the shoppers from the gawkers. You just "know" which people have the money and which do not. We did not. God help me we actually walked into Tiffany & Co. to check out their stuff. I walked out feeling like a third-rate citizen. It's so ridiculously expensive in there.

Thankfully we left relatively quickly and headed up into Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills. We went to see the house where Kara nannies and also check out the Walk of Fame and the hand/footprints outside Graumann's Chinese Theater. Cool stuff. We have several photos of us posing with some of the sets of cement prints.

The drive up through the hills was weird. I really expected the houses up there to be very spread out, but they were all right on top of each other. The streets were very tight and difficult to drive, as well. Los Angeles should just be happy it seemingly never snows up there. I can't imagine how terrible it would be if the street we drove up there became a solid sheet of ice. Might be fun to watch as a blooper video, but otherwise...

When we got back to the Canals, a concert had started in the area. Some big blues/jazz/rock festival. Live bands. Beer. Wine. The works. We didn't really want to go down to the festival at all. So we sat on Jason and Kara's deck and listened to the music and drank wine. Good fun. Jason's boss and his wife also joined us. They were a lot of fun. We were up talking and drinking until God only knows how late. Something like eight or nine bottles of wine consumed. I'm gonna need AA after this vacation.

Friday, 11 June 2004: After yet another morning walk on the beach with Katie, we came back to the canal house and got prepped to go out to our Cubbies v Angels game in Anaheim. Beforehand, we went to CostCo and used Jason and Kara's membership to buy an additional memory stick for the new Sony. The one we bought was only 128 MB and, when set on the 5.0 megapixels that this camera is capable of, it only gets about 47 pictures. My brother clued us in that CostCo has a good deal on memory sticks. Our 128er cost $55 at Best Buy and we got a 258 MB jobber at CostCo for $70. Fifteen more dollars and double the memory? Sure, why the hell not.

The drive to Anaheim wasn't too terrible. A bit of traffic on one of the expressways we took (and I use expressway in the loosest possible way), but otherwise. We got a late lunch/early dinner at Chilis. Lots of food and alcohol. May as well drink it while it's cheap, right?

Anaheim Stadium is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. Big rock waterfalls in centerfield. The seats are actually relatively comfortable. Clean. Average priced concessions. Will Ferrell threw out the ceremonial first pitch. What more could you ask for?

Maybe a Cubs win.

Alas, no. They fought hard but wound up losing 3-2 when all was said and done.

Thursday, 10 June 2004: Since the place we are staying is only a stone's throw from Venice Beach (if you are humanly capable of throwing said stone six blocks) and they are right on the Venice Canals, Katie and I woke up and took a walk to the boardwalk for some morning exercise. Both Jay and Kara had to work today, so it was a day of nothing but the two of us which is kinda nice.

We walked the entire length of the boardwalk and saw all the vendors as well as Muscle Beach. The latter was quite disappointing since there was only a single person working out there.

Next, we went to lunch at a little restaurant right near the beach. Afterwards, we tanned out pale skinned selves out on the beach. That was kinda nice. I didn't even burn as much as I usually do.

After a couple hours of tanning and the subsequently necessary showers, we jumped in our Escape and drove up to the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway for all your Cali neophytes) and hit a side road which took us to Sunset Boulevard. We wanted to take some photos along the PCH, but our digicam decided that now was as good a time as any to crap out. After all, who needs a camera on vacation, right?

We stayed on Sunset as long as we could driving through ritzy neighborhood after ritzy neighborhood including Bel Air, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, et al. Let me tell you how weird it is to drive through all those areas and have it wind up in West Hollywood on the Sunset Strip with all its rock club and strip joint glory. Bit of a shocking change.

Finally, we found ourselves a Best Buy to buy a new digicam. Nice new toy. And right after I had told myself I wasn't going to spend a lot of money on this trip. Never tell yourself that. It's a jinx. Nothing but bad things will happen as a result. However, we did get a good deal on an open box Sony CyberShot. New toys are fun.

Wednesday, 9 June 2004: Nothing like a delayed flight to start your vacation, eh? We got to the airport with a little over an hour (maybe an hour and a half) to go before our 3:11 p.m. scheduled flight. As soon as we got there, the boards said our flight was pushed back to 4 p.m. No biggie. We boarded the plane at 3:20 and started to pull away. Then we had a luggage loading problem and we sat there. Then another loading problem. More sitting. Finally we were stuck behind a line of other planes that obviously needed to get where they were going before we did despite how late we already were. I believe our plane got in the air sometime around 6 p.m. We landed in L.A. four hours later but we gained two hours from the time zone differential. So that was a plus.

At least Calendar Girls was a good movie.

Next was the rental car. Pretty easy going save for the annoying agent who asked us far too many times if we wanted the supplemental insurance. NO! Get it? Two letters. Starts in "N", ends in "O", nothing in the middle.

We got to Jay and Kara's place around 9:30 and got trashed on four bottles of wine.

An omen of things to come?

Tuesday, 8 June 2004: If there is any one thing I hate about going on vacation, it's having to get everything at work done before I leave. Talk about packing everything in and feeling like a sardine with all the projects just crushing you in. It's not fun. Ideally, this will be made up for with the next week that Katie and I will be spending in LA.

When we get back, I'll fill in all the days with the list of what we did. Plus, you'll see a couple movie reviews since we have in-flight movies on the way out and on the return trip. I do believe they will be Calendar Girls and Starsky & Hutch. Should make for some good laughs.

See you all in a week... or so.

Monday, 7 June 2004: My SW DVDs are in! My SW DVDs are in! From what little I've watched, they look great. I'm a happy camper! Thank you, digitalfreakNYC!

Oldies: Sunday, May 30 - Saturday, June 5, 2004...

Friday, 4 June 2004: I am dragging ass today like no other. But it was well worth it. Right after I closed the gym last night, Katie and I went straight to the theater. Thankfully, I ordered my tickets online ahead of time so that wasn't a worry. All we really needed to do was wait. And wait we did. Two hours worth. We sat on the floor of the mall and played card games and watched as all the little teeny boppers around us ranted and raved and compared their little pieces of Harry Potter memorabilia. Yes, 96% of the audience was aged between 15 and 19 with 75% of that number being female. I've never felt so old.

Katie's only complaint was that the movie strayed too much from the novel. And she should know, she finished rereading it on Wednesday. I think, in hindsight, she wouldn't have read it again.

This movie is much darker than the original two films. And far grittier. But damn if it wasn't that much better than the originals for those very reasons. I just wish director Alfonso Cuaron was coming back for The Goblet of Fire. However, the next director will be Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral and Mona Lisa Smile). Honestly, I'd rather have Cuaron. I didn't care much for Mona Lisa Smile.

Thursday, 3 June 2004: Here are your options:

  1. Katie and I are insane
  2. We are junkies
  3. We thrive on sleep deprivation
  4. All of the above

I ask this in light of the fact that we will both be in attendance at the midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban tonight. I found out about it yesterday or the day before and called Katie at work and just threw it out there as something to do tonight. I never thought, in a million years, she would actually say yes. Well, she did. And we are going.

Tomorrow's gonna be hell.

Wednesday, 2 June 2004: If you have been listening to any sort of rock and roll radio station in the last week, you likely know the big news and have heard the big new release. Yes, Van Halen is back together (as has been known for a couple of months now). However, they have also released a new track to the radio. It is called "It's About Time" (for what should seem obvious reasons) and will be on their forthcoming two-disc hits album.

The first disc is mostly Roth-era tracks with the last few being from Van Hagar's 5150 album. The first half of the second disc is the remainder of the Hagar works as well as one or two Cherone era songs, three new tracks (including "It's About Time"), and three live tracks. The set will be called "The Best of Both Worlds." Pretty a propos.

Despite already owning the one-disc hits, I'll probably still get this set anyway. It's a good mix of songs and I am looking forward to more new stuff on it.

Note: as I typed this entry, iTunes kicked in with VH's "Dreams." Eerie, eh?

Tuesday, 1 June 2004: Katie's had a problem brewing with her car for several months now. The paint on her hood has started bubbling and by no fault of her own. We checked with her dealership since she has an extended warranty on the vehicle and they said that if she wants to get it replaced, she would have to pay a $100 deductible on it. Or we could wait until it burst on its own and it would be covered 100% under warranty. You guess which we opted for.

Rust streaks have been spilling out of the bubble and up her hood for a few weeks, so we pretty safely assumed that it has burst.

Today, we took her car in to have the hood replaced (we had to wait for the ordered part to come in). Since they will have the car for a few days, they gave Katie a courtesy car for the time being. Nice idea, we thought, until we found out her loaner is a 2004 Caravan. From Katie's little Stratus to a big honkin' Caravan. More than just a little bit of difference, wouldn't you say? I should really get a picture of her with the van for the site.