22 posts from April 2008

That's how we laugh the day away...

*snip* *snip*

Seriously. From the bottom of my heart to all of you out there that took the time to comment on my funk yesterday and cheer me up or offer up some advice, understanding, DutchyHugs (highly recommended, BTW), warm puppies, or the like. It was a tremendous outpouring of concern that completely blew my mind. Thank you! I am feeling better thus far. All it took was time with Katie of which we had plenty last night. This is the first Tuesday other than the Florida trip in March that we've had together since before her class began in January. The wraps were great and we did play Wii.

Oh yeah, we did play us some Wii. We went through two circuits of races on Mario Kart and it was funny because Katie would come in second place behind me in the first race in each circuit but then drop way the heck back in subsequent races (Coconut Mall is our fave race, for the record). I never quite understood that. I know she was having some difficulty grasping the concept of the Wii Wheel controller so maybe next time I'll have her use the Wiimote and Nunchuk (you steer with the directional peg on the Nunchuk). That's what I used and I kinda liked it. She did make up for it in a couple rounds of WiiSports Tennis, though. That's one of her faves seeing as she was a high school and college tennis stud. And she was actually going through full-motion, two-handed swings with the "racket." Kinda funny to watch how into it she was.

Then, as I prepped some food for lunch today and cleaned up, she surfed the Web on the Wii. Although controlling the cursor is a pain and so is entering URLs, I love how the Wii's Opera-based browser renders Web pages and the default font is really quite nice. But the best part was watching some YouTube videos on it. She was checking out Dave's Blogiversary winner announcement as well as Avitable's Whose Line is it Anyway outtakes. Funny to think that Katie was watching a show that was produced for television, transferred to Web-ready video, and then was watching it on a television anyway.

I know I've asked for a lot of music recommendations from you lately and thanks for all the ideas. I'm still looking into several. May take some time before the library actually gets them in stock. Anyway, here's one from me to you. I just picked up Tristan Prettyman's new album Hello and it's great. If you liked her first album Twentythree, I don't see how you can go wrong with this one. Plus, for a limited time, it's only $5.99 on iTunes. Big bonus.

Speaking of music, remember how I was concerned that I would be too lazy to swap the code for the free single of the week? Guess I don't have to worry. I plugged in one bit of code to my site and it automatically updates each week with the link to the new freebie song. So just keep clicking on that button over there each week for free shit. This week it's The Ting Tings (they sing the song behind the new iPod commercial, although this free one is not that song).

If you've ever wanted to have someone come to your house and ask what a certain lump of something is that you have on display and you answer "Dinoshit," well, now's your chance. Bid away.


I don't know why, but I feel horribly depressive. Actually, I have felt this way since yesterday. No explanation. No warning. It just hit. Like a ton of bricks.

It's one of those feelings where I just want to shut off all lights and curl into a ball in a corner and neither think about nor do anything at all. Well, maybe listen to some really depressive music. But picking that out would require both thought and action... two things that hold no appeal whatsoever right now.

It's not the first time this has happened to me. Not by a long shot. Rarely do I know why it happens. And, no, I do not take any sort of medication or consult professionals to help with it. I just wait for the feeling to ebb to what I deem to be a sufficient level and then I continue with my life. It's worked for me for years now, so why should this be any different?

And today's supposed to be my day, dammit.

I was talking to Katie on the phone while she was in mid-commute to work. She knows when I'm down. Not as though it's difficult to tell; every inch of my being oozes it. So now she's determined to drag me kicking and screaming out of my funk.

Her plan is homemade chicken wraps tonight for dinner as well as an evening of Mario Kart on the Wii. Honestly, both sound surprisingly appealing. Katie and I rarely get to play video games. It's been a few months actually. We always plan to and then never do. In fact, this will probably only be the third time she's used the Wii.

Of course, now I'm even more depressed because I have to wait until tonight to do any of this. Shit.

Sorry I'm not more exciting today and I hate punishing all of you by writing a post like this. But I had to get some of it out of my system. Writing this actually helps a little bit.

Superman es ilegal...

I love when a movie actually moves me enough to want to blog about it. It's not often. Especially now during the proverbial "off season" of cinematic releases. Yeah, summer's coming and we'll be chock full of a bunch of popcorn munchers, but what is the likelihood we will really remember any of them beyond that first weekend? Not too good.

Lamismaluna However, Katie and I did see one this past weekend that we both thoroughly enjoyed and it was the first movie that we have both loved since Juno at the end of last year. And it is one we will both be remembering for quite some time. The film was Patricia Riggen's La Misma Luna (Under the Same Moon).

In the simplest terms possible, it is a story of illegal immigration. On a deeper level, it's the story of Carlitos (Adrian Alonso), a young boy whose mother, Rosario (Kate del Castillo), leaves him in their native Mexico with his grandmother while she comes to LA in hopes of earning enough money to bring him up to live with her. The only reason she leaves him behind is for his own safety as she knows she will spend all her waking hours either working or dodging INS agents. After four years, Rosario has earned about half of what she needs to hire an immigration lawyer to take her case and help reunite her with her son. For the time being, the only contact they have is through letters sent from a P.O. Box to hide her location and a phone call every Sunday at 10 a.m. sharp.

Shortly after his ninth birthday, though, Carlitos' grandmother dies in her sleep. Afraid of being taken by an aunt and uncle he never realized he had, Carlitos instead makes the decision to cross the border into the U.S. to find his mother himself. Once over the border in Texas, he must rely on fellow ilegales to help him get to Los Angeles, including the all-for-himself Enrique (Eugenio Derbez).

Jesus, this movie is a roller coaster of emotions. From anger to love to frustration to heartbreak to humor, this movie has it all. And it slipped completely under the radar. While it is officially listed as a 2007 release, it didn't open in the States at all until March 19 of this year, so it is a strong contender for top film of the year.

I gotta admit, I love when low-budget indies are better than the blockbuster releases. I only wish they would earn more money than they do. More often than not, they deserve it. And what won in the theaters this weekend? Baby Mama. Seriously people? Spend your money on more worthwhile fare.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I'm hoping for some blog love for Katie here, folks. She has finals in two classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, thus bringing her first semester of grad school to a close. She received a 95% in her first class that ended several weeks ago and she's hoping for similar grades in these other two. So please show some love!

Pictures of you, pictures of me...

Hey all. Not much to say as Katie and I are on the run to a baby shower in a few minutes. But I thought I'd share a few old photos of me that my mom recently found. Just got off my butt and scanned them yesterday. Should be fun for you all to pick me apart a bit...

My brother the Cub Scout and me the Life Scout on his way to Eagle.

Me, the Professor, and Figment at Epcot Studios.

In preparation for my senior year of riding the bench in high school football. Not sure what the red streaks are in the background. Wear and tear on the photos perhaps?

Talk to y'all soon.

And it's back to reality...

I'm not really the sort of person to grant myself too much regard. Whether you buy into it or not and despite my outward behavior and occasional posts in which I say things that indicate I have a really big ego or that I think very highly of myself, it's truly just posturing. Inside, I'm pretty insecure and I kinda think of myself as not much more than a speck in a cosmic dust storm. A nothing. Sure, I'm there and I add to the overall cloud, but I'm no different nor any better than any other speck. More of a follower speck, really.

That's really how I think of myself. Kinda sad, right?

So, when I received this e-mail from a fellow blogger yesterday, I was a bit shocked. A little background first... she had left a comment on my blog a couple months ago after either randomly stumbling across me or perhaps she was delurking, I really don't know. But, like many of us when a new commenter appears, I checked out her site and left a comment as well.

What she didn't realize was that, as a result of her commenting, she was also added to my feed reader and I kept reading her blog. I didn't comment because I was just plain busy. However, yesterday, or maybe it was the day before, I did take a moment to comment on a post she wrote.

Then I received an e-mail.

I have to honestly say that I am floored you even still visit my blog!! What an honor!  We don't seem to have just a whole lot in common, and I thought maybe you commented to me because I did for you one time, and that was that!

Anyway...thanks for making my day!  lol

She was floored? I was floored that someone actually used the word "honor" in regard to me. That's not typically the case. I replied back that it really was no big deal and it was "just me." I sent the message and figured that was that.

Then I thought about it a bit more. Why not me? Why can't I give myself a little blog love? Why can't I start to think of myself amongst those who I consider to be the greats (yes, each of those words is a link to a different site - sorry you only got the letter "I," Karl). It could happen, couldn't it?

That's when I felt it... that tinge of pride... an inkling of greatness... awwww yeah!

self regard --> SELF REGARD

Of course, then my lunch break ended and it was back to reality...

self regard

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I hate when I see trash along the side of the road when driving somewhere. I see it everywhere and it saddens me greatly. However, yesterday on my way to work, I can honestly say I saw some trash that I'd never seen before in my life.

While waiting to turn from a ramp off the highway, I looked on the side of the road and saw pages from a catalog. Or that's what I thought it was anyway. A woman posing in what looked like sheer lingerie.

Then I looked again. And I saw there was no sheer lingerie. She was decidedly naked. This was a page from a porn mag. And there were several other pages laying about from the same magazine.

There is a first for everything.

Super phun thyme, please don't go away...

Would you like some snippets? C'mon, you know you do! Everybody wants some snippets! Be like all the cool kids and indulge!

For quite some time now, my favorite South Park character has been Butters. Yet, I've not been able to explain why. He's such a minor character in the overall SP scheme. Until last night's episode, that is. Holy crap, Butters owned "Super Fun Time" like you wouldn't believe. From the very first scene with him coyly kicking at the ground while Cartman is looking for a partner to his undying refusal to let go of Cartman's hand to the final scene, "Teacher! My partner... is on... the bus!"

I'm looking for suggestions for some new music to listen to. Though, not to sound entirely self serving, this is also intended to help my local library. They seem to look at me as some sort of music guru and keep telling me to make suggestions to the board as to what CDs they should purchase (yes, I have a direct e-mail address, heh). They have a budget that needs to be spent and I intend to help them do just that. So what stuff have you been listening to lately? I really want to know for, y'know, the library's sake.

G.I. Joe
I've gotta admit that I'm really sad the picture of Rachel Nichols as Scarlett has cycled off my homepage. I truly think it did a lot to, um, brighten up the page. I know Katie's probably happy as a jaybird to see it gone. She even joked, after reading that post, that she wasn't going to let me see the movie. At least I think she was joking. I can't say I blame her. But I'm going with a bunch of guys from the office as well as some other friends and relatives. Yeah, the movie's not coming out for more than a year and we're already planning for it. If you'll be in the Chicago area next year and would like in on the trip, drop me a line.

I find it funny how this worked out. I was completely gung-ho when the "stars" for this season's Dancing with the Stars were announced. My Kristy Yamaguchi was going to be back. I've had a crush on her for years and now to be able to watch her for several weeks on TV? Suffice it to say, for me, it was heaven. Now, however, we're several weeks into the show and I am so sick and tired of her and her over-acting partner Mark Ballas. They always win. Period. Nobody else seems to stand a chance. I just keep hoping that her constant success will bite her in the ass and the fans will grow tired and not give her enough votes to continue. I actually want to see Cristian de la Fuente win it all. I really dig what he's done and how he's improved. And it doesn't hurt that his partner is Cheryl Burke, recently named to FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World. So c'mon people! Let's will Kristy out!

When you take journalism courses (of which I took one in grad school), they always teach you that the key to a good article is the headline. It doesn't really matter what crap you write in the article -- okay, that's not entirely true -- if the headline is good, it will draw readers in. Well, get a load of the headline I found in Yahoo's Oddly Enough section the other day... Penis theft panic hits city. Say whaaaaaa. Oh, it don't get much better than that. The article is all about Kinshasa, Congo where a bunch of so-called sorcerers were arrested under suspicion that they had used black magic to either steal or shrink the masculine holiest of holies from men in the city. Remind me never to visit the Congo, 'kay?

I see your true colors...

Oh holy hell, Mother's Day is coming up (Update for Diane: It's Sunday, May 11). This, in my pained world of stacked holidays also means that my mom's birthday is nigh. Do I have any idea what to get her? Of course not. That would require a little something known as "forethought," a concept I have yet to grasp after 33 years.

So imagine my sheer delight when I see an e-mail in my inbox from Apple with the subject line "Find gifts to make Mom smile." Well, not that my mom is a Certified Apple Whore (tm) like Dave or myself, but whose to say there won't be something kinda cool in there?

What do I do? I actually open the damn thing and am greeted with this...


Ah hahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahaha. ha. A MacBook?!?! For Mother's Day?!?! My Dear Apple, let's get something straight... I love my mom, but I can barely afford a MacBook for Katie and myself let alone one for somebody else. Even if she is my mom. Even if she would take this opportunity to remind me that she spent some God-awful number of hours in labor with me (it was more than a day, for the record).

But you tell me what's better here... buying her something more reasonably priced (like waayyyyyy less than the $1,100 price tag on a low-end MacBook) or buying her something lavish like this, winding up in the poorhouse, and subsequently being forced to move back home with her and my dad. That's a lose-lose for all involved.

Sure, Apple had more than just this MacBook in the e-mail, but after seeing this as the first thing listed, do you really think I bothered looking any further in the message? Hell no. For all I know, they probably asked me to buy her a MacBook Air or a Pro or an entire friggin' farm of Xserves, not that she'd have any idea what to do with them.

Quick tip, Apple, build up to the expensive recommendation next time.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Not only is Tony still alive, but he's gone rogue!

Yeah, baby!

This is a call to all my past resignations...

Oh hell, this can't be good...

Uh oh

Yep, that's from the United States District Court in Chicago and it had lots of questions about my eligibility and availability for... *GASP*... jury duty.

As Dr. Sam Beckett would say, "oh boy."

I'll tell ya right now, (S)HE'S GUILTY! FRY HIM/HER! (yes, your honor, I can be impartial and objective)

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): A simple math equation for you.

clean sheets
+ clean pajamas
       + clean mattress pad
            + open bedroom window
         + white noise from fan
two fantastic nights of sleep from which waking up is not particularly easy.

Ah, restful bliss!

Do you like American Music...

I find it amazing how much variance can exist in the quality of a live musical performance from one concert to the next.

Sarabareilles Last week, Katie and I went to see Sara Bareilles (for the third time in the last year) at the House of Blues in Chicago. Gotta tell ya, we weren't that impressed. It was no fault of Sara's that I can tell, to be fair. It was the House of Blues and a majority of the audience in attendance.

Sure, the House of Blues is a quaint little place with some pretty cool decor and whatnot. But the acoustics in the place suck, horribly. Because we got there a little late, we weren't able to get too close to the pit area (an area of recessed flooring surrounded by the stage in front, a bar on either side, and the sound and lighting engineer's booth in back. The only spots we could find were against the railing in front of the largest bar tucked behind the engineer's booth. This, of course, did Katie no good at all. Regardless of where she stood, at 5'2", she could see nothing at all. And people kept piling in front of us with no regard whatsoever for anyone else around them. Tack on top of this the fact that all sound was deflected away from us due to the poor acoustics and much larger people in front of her, and she could barely hear anything either.

Oh yeah, did I mention that all the people around us were clearly Top 40 fans only? How do I know? They did nothing but talk and cackle and drink and chat on their cellphones and be general nuisances the entire night, until Sara performed "Love Song." Then they all either shut up or sang along in their loud, pathetically out-of-tune voices, thus ruining that song as well.

But, get this, as soon as Sara finished that song, they started filing out. I counted a good 100+ who left immediately after that song was done, and we were only at the 2/3 mark for the show.

The good thing about this happening was that Katie was able to move down into the pit area finally and discovered that was where the true fans were. They were either just listening or singing along at a respectful tone, paying attention to the stage and performers and even to those around them.

While the night ended better than it began, I gotta say that the show wasn't quite worth the cost of the tickets. Sure, they were only $15 each, but after fuckin' Ticketmaster tacked on their charges and service fees and convenience costs, it was about $67 for the two of us to attend the show. Never mind parking and gas costs.

Yeah, it's going to take a lot to convince us to head into the city for another show again.

Please note, though, I really don't want this "review" to drive people away from seeing Sara Bareilles live. She's a fantastic artist with a great voice who just got stuck in a lousy venue with a ton of Johnny-come-lately fans. If you are into her music, by all means see her live. But take into consideration the venue where you will be seeing the show and plan accordingly.

If there was one good thing to come of the night, I found a bunch of House of Blues iTunes cards sitting around. The cards grant you $30 in free (albeit pre-chosen) music they describe as "A special collection of songs from today's hottest club artists." After distributing a few of them to some people I know, I have six cards left. The first people to actually request it in a comment (not e-mail) will find themselves the recipients of free tunage. Have at it, folks.

Check that, I just entered the code for my card, and it's giving me back 31 songs. Bonus. Guess this makes up for the 40th anniversary Rolling Stone magazine free song code that was supposed to give me 40 songs and only gave me 39.

Oh, and obviously, don't go requesting the code if you are not an iTunes user. That would just be a stupid waste of a redemption code.

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."


A real American hero...

Some snippets!

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.

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...


Three words... hot, HOT, HAWT!

May the angels sing on high.

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.

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.

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?

Cry for the feeling... all for the prize...

I guess I have been somewhat negligent in my duties as a cosponsor of the GBBMC2008 project with Carly... I forgot that I was going to mention the weekly blogging winners here on my main site and not just over on the GBBMC site. Whoops. Please forgive me.

Well, we've had two weekly winners so far and I'd like to give them both a little love. They are:

But there's also something I feel I need to admit... I get a bit of an odd feeling by doing this. No, it's not as though I don't feel they deserve it. Not that at all. Both are fantastic writers and both of these were spectacular posts.

The reason I feel, well, off about this is because it strikes me as though I'm playing the role of host to a truly bad game show. "Wow! That's a horrifically painful story you just told us about one of the most difficult things a person can possibly go through! Great! Now tell her what she's won, Don Pardo!"

Don't get me wrong, not all the posts written on behalf of this project are painful stories of survival or bearing witness to some terrible deed. There are many that are heartwarming, inquisitive, and even some downright hilarious. But still...

Am I weird for feeling this way?

Should I feel this way at all?

Does it bother any of the prize recipients or other participants as much as it bothers me?

This post was written in support of the GBBMC2008: Sexography project. Please consider donating to the Rape and Incest National Network (RAINN) and include "GBBMC2008" and the name of any one of our participants in the comments section of the donation form. And while you're at it, please visit our participants' sites. You can also check out applicable posts on our Shared Google Reader.

As a note to participants... please remember to mention and link to RAINN's donation page in any post that you are writing on behalf of GBBMC2008. It's the only way we know that it is intended to be a related post. If we don't see the reference and link, we don't tag it, and you likely won't win much of anything. I hate to be so blunt, but it's the truth.


Surfing with the alien...

Oh, today was a good day on the media front. A very good day, indeed.

I purchased our copy of Juno just a few minutes ago on DVD. Considering how much we both loved this movie (we paid to see it in theaters twice), it was a given that we'd be buying it. We wound up buying it at Circuit City because it came packaged with a replica of the track team T-shirt that Michael Cera wore in the movie. Of course, it's only a large. But, once shrunken, it should be fine for Katie as a workout shirt. And very appropriate considering we've started running ourselves.

Alienquadrilogy While at CC, I found a copy of the Alien Quadrilogy box set for $19.99. This is a nine-disc set of all four Alien movies that, when it first came out, was nearly $80 and is still retailing for $50 now.

I've been holding off on the Alien movies on DVD for quite some time. I did own the second film, Aliens, the James Cameron masterpiece, on special edition VHS, but, well, it's VHS. We don't even own a VCR anymore. So I finally have my replacement copies and for a killer price! I guess it pays to wait sometimes.

Even if I never watch Alien3 and Alien Resurrection, I've made up my money just with the two original films.

Throw into the mix the fact that I traded some stuff in at GameStop. Enough that I was able to completely pay for my pre-order of Wii Mario Kart and also apply $10 to a pre-order of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

Good times. Good times, indeed.

Oh yeah, so I'm commiserating with the clerks at GameStop about the sheer number of cool video games that have come out in recent months and those that are upcoming in the next few months and that's when they decide to drop the bomb on me that Rock Band is coming out for the Wii in the next few months. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, think Guitar Hero, but with a guitar (that also doubles as a bass), a drum kit, and a microphone. How freakin' sweet is that? But it'll wind up being about $180 so I may have to hold off. For a looong time.

But I'm off right now. Hopefully to have some Alien-infused fun.

On the Dark Side, woah, yeah...

Once again, Katie and I have begun to look into some new computers. Likely a pair of laptops, but not necessarily at the same time. I need one I can use for work and she needs one she can use for school.

As you all probably know, we're both Mac whores, no question about our status in this regard whatsoever. However, for a little bit, I actually considered jumping ship and buying a Windows laptop for myself and a Mac for Katie. Why? Well, price primarily. Macs are not cheap.

Guess what else I discovered? Neither are PCs. Once you get them to a proper performance level anyway.

The thing about Macs is that they are built pretty standard. With one company doing all the design and construction of them, they wind up pretty much the same. Sure, you can tweak with higher RAM and HD space and the like, but it's not at all like when you visit, say, Dell.com and start to build there. I thought for sure I'd be able to save some dimes by building myself a custom laptop. So I tried it out.

Well, I had some things I needed to do with my computer. I needed a working copy of Windows XP. And there isn't a single purveyor of Windows laptops (recognized purveyor anyway) that loads their computers with XP as an operating system. You can pay them to wind it back, as it were, to XP from the dreaded Vista and the quote I got from Best Buy for that was $300 for a copy of XP and $130 to install it. That alone took just about all their laptops up over the $1K mark even before tacking on a service plan. Even the low-end systems. On Web sites where you custom build your laptop, I couldn't even find the option to purchase XP anywhere.

Speaking of low-end systems, if I were to stick with Vista instead, I would need to make sure that my RAM was at least 2 MB and my processor was greater than 2GHz. Anything less with Vista is just pathetic. Sure, I can go out and buy myself a little Toshiba laptop for $599 just about anywhere. But have you tried really taking Vista through the curves using the default system that comes on a computer that costs that little? It may work for less memory intensive apps, but the hogs I use like Adobe Creative Suite 3 ain't gonna play nice here. Vista, by itself, is a system hog and taxes everything you've got beyond belief. So, once I mark higher processor speeds and RAM quantity as needs, I'm up over $1.5K as well. Unacceptable.

The Macs that I'm pricing right now come in well under this mark.

I guess I know what this means... I'm back to the good side of computing. The Apple side. And we're going to buy two Macs. It's just a matter of when now. And it should be soon. The need is really here.

You may as well mark the roof of our house with a giant white Apple.

Go Speed Racer, go...

Oh sweet Mary, mother of God, I've been on a major geek high since yesterday at lunch!

I love, love, love it!

First, I was attempting to pick up a gift for Katie to give at a baby shower. The gift was available on the couple's Babies 'r' Us gift registry. However, since most of the Babies, Kids, and Toys 'r' Us stores have shut down or merged in recent years, I wasn't quite sure where to go find an actual BRU. So I went to the local TRU.

Well, they didn't have what I was looking for. But they certainly had what I wasn't looking for! An entire wall of Speed Racer movie tie-in products! Holy crap! I sat there looking for something like 10 minutes debating what I wanted. I knew I had to get something. Then I found it! The Holy Grail of Speed Racer products. The Lego Speed Racer sets!


There are four kits total, but TRU only had two in stock. The first is Speed himself with Snake Oiler, the second is Racer X with Taejo Togokahn, the third is Cruncher Block and Racer X, and the fourth is Grand Prix Race.

Oh too freakin' cool! I bought the Mach 5, of course. And built it. During the remainder of my lunch break. And I have pictures for you all (note: you can't see the photos in your feed reader; you'll have to click through; sorry, I have no control over this)! I plan to build Snake Oiler during lunch today.

I totally need to dig through my old Legos for one of those pirate set monkeys so I can have a Chim Chim.

The Second Coming of the Geekification (tm) manifests itself in the Mario Kart Wii Driving School Tour that will be coming to Chicago in May!


Lessons! Competitions! And a free personalized license!

Is there such a thing as Geek Overload? If so, I'm a chronic sufferer.

The sound of silence...

Video blog post #2 has come to fruition!!

Okay, before any of you continue, I want to say that you have to watch this with sound. If you don't have sound where you're at right now, wait until you have a computer with speakers. It will be ruined if you do not have sound and just watch the video now. SJ, this means you. Especially since this is your video post!

I also must apologize for the slight delay between video and audio. There is a bit of, well, something akin to the old mousetrails effect where the video drags a bit. I was mucking with settings on the camera and forgot to reset them. However, since I managed to do all this in one take, I wasn't going to go back and re-record it. I won't mess with unscripted perfection. Oh, I am using "perfection" very loosely. It's highly relative. Relative to my first video, which, as you recall, underwent 20-something takes.

This video is much longer than the first. About 10 and a half minutes total.

If you don't have a sense of humor, well, that's not my problem...



There is gloom and doom while things go boom...

Normally I don't really have all that many bad dreams. I do have them, but they're either not that regular or not that memorable.

But one thing that bugs me is how easily influenced my bad dreams are by outside factors such as things I witness in real life, watch on TV or in the movies, or have someone suggest to me. And that last one is probably the worst.

The most recent violator of it is my own wife. On Sunday night, we finished the first season of Dexter on DVD. Fantastic show, BTW, and I highly suggest you not only watch it, but do so on DVD and not the ABC (or is it CBS?) rebroadcasts. I can't wait for season two to come out on DVD. It's going to be a long time until August.

Those of you who watch Dexter know that the first season revolves on the Miami-Dade Police Department's search for the so-called Ice Truck Killer (ITK), a guy who dices up his victims into smaller kibbles and bits but only after completely draining them of all blood, thus preserving the parts quite well.

Obviously, by the end of the season, we find out who the ITK is and find out what happens to him as a result of the reveal of his identity. No, I'm not going to ruin it for you. It's far too much fun and you must find out for yourself. I digress, though. But it was a pretty terrifying couple of episodes for Katie and, as we watched other shows that night, she was seeing characters that resembled the ITK in most of them. By the end of the night, she was pretty freaked out.

Of course, I then made the mistake of mentioning the ITK just as we were getting ready for bed and she flipped out on me. This was when she made a revelation of her own... she was freaked out enough, especially after finding out that our front door had been unlocked for some time, that she was looking in closets and our second bedroom to make sure that nobody was lying there in wait. Great move on my part, eh, because from that moment on, I had problems of my own falling asleep. Slick.

I still don't forgive her for this. It was a rough night of sleep for me.

Then, of course, the next morning she revealed to me that she had a nightmare in which the ITK and Dexter teamed up with the Carver from Nip/Tuck and went on a spree. Thankfully, that one was relayed early enough in the day that it didn't mess up my slumber last night.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I just finished listening to the most recent archive broadcast of Secondhand Radio in which Karl interviews Kyra (Savy) and I think we should all join in some kind of grassroots campaign to convince her to post both details and photos of her Rocky Horror Picture Show days!

C'mon Kyra! You can't tease us like that! That's just mean!


And the flowers and the trees...

Is the age of the old "Birds and Bees" speech dead and gone?

I'm not sure why I'm asking this or why I'm even thinking it for that matter, but here I am. And I'd seriously like to know if the days of dads sitting down with their sons (and mothers with daughters, for that matter) and delivering some insanely awkward diatribe that is intended to convey the concept of sex from one generation to the next has gone the way of the DoDo.

Did any of you have such a speech from a parent or, as a parent, have you delivered this load of hooey to your kids?

To the best of my recollection, I never received "the talk" from my dad. And, to be honest with you, I'm not entirely positive how I learned about sex other than from the three moving boxes worth of magazines that one of my best friends discovered his dad had hidden in the basement of their house. I'm dead serious here. Three flippin' boxes worth. And they weren't even particularly well hidden.

Of course, every time we visited this friend's house, we were in said basement checking out the goods, as it were. It's amazing how quickly a youth can evolve from being a giggly kid excited about any little piece of illicit porn and chanting words like "boobies" to being a discriminator of what images are well shot and which models look better in which situations. I think that took all of two weeks.

There were other lessons learned from a variety of other sources throughout my formative years, as you might expect. But this Library o' Hef was my formal introduction.

And I'm sure my dad is happy he never had to suffer through "the talk."

So how did you learn the story of the birds and the bees?

This post was written in support of the Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign 2008. Don't worry, neither this post nor I am eligible for any prizes. Damnable thing about being the creator of the promotion.

Please help support the Rape and Incest National Network by making a donation on their Web site.

The devil's in the house of the rising sun...

Here's some snippety goodness to carry you through your Saturday...

Well, on a minor scale anyway. I solved the easy level of Guitar Hero III. For a guy who doesn't commit to video games, this is a pretty big deal. But it is seriously fun. I had a 92+% on all but one song. Ironically enough, I can't even finish the song without being booed off stage. It's "Raining Blood" by Slayer. I just can't do the speed metal for some reason. I also had problems with the unlocked final song in the end credits, "Through the Fire and Flames" by DragonForce. But that last one goes unrated; a bit of a freebie throwaway, I suppose. I'm not sure if I should skip up to medium or go back and force myself to master that damn Slayer song. The furthest I've made it through was 43%. It killed me. Bastards. I will tell you, though, that playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" against Satan (or "Lou" as the game calls him) is really fun. I love the little Mortal Kombat reference with "Finish Him!" Cracked me up.

Is it just Katie and me or has the quality of movie theater popcorn gone to hell in a handbasket? We saw Leatherheads last night with Scott and Becca (you may have seen them commenting here in the past) and the popcorn was horrible. Not that it really tasted bad initially. But as it sits in your gut, it leaves you feeling hollow and almost sick. But it's not something you realize is going to happen until it's too late. You can't determine it based on smell or taste. You just have to try your luck, eat it, and hope for the best. I'm having trouble remembering the last time it turned out for the best, though.

Oh, and Leatherheads was a lot of fun. I recommend it.

I finally booked our airfare for Florida in May. While searching through Expedia and Travelocity, et al, I found an odd little quirk. You know how you can book flights either non-stop or with any number of stops and transfers to save some money? Well, have you ever heard of transferring airports? One of the flights offered to me said that we would be flying to D.C. and make a transfer. Not just of airlines, but of airports! I've never heard of that and I somehow doubt the airlines or what I pay to Travelocity would cover the transfer costs from one airport to the other. What kinda load of crap is that?

Oh, and just to prove to Nilsa that shit does happen to me in multiple numbers, our garage door opener died yesterday. Thankfully, Katie and I were not in a hurry to get where we were headed, but it still died. And we had to buy a new one. I'm installing it either later today or tomorrow. Never fun.

Oh, and I'm not sure if any of you ever buy from Craig's List (I never have), but I'm here to help my brother sell his Silverado. If you have any interest, check out his ad and get in contact with him.

Keep them clean each day...

First off, a quick apology. The video post hasn't quite come to fruition just yet. Sorry. I'll continue working on it and practicing in order to make it a GREAT video post. Hmmm... I really need to stop making promises like this.

Scraper I was at the dentist last night for my regular six-month check up. Everything was fine. Not at all like one of my previous experiences with Hygienist Ratchet. This hygienist was awesome. Very nice, professional, great chair-side manner, and pretty.

Yes, I'm happily married, but I, like anybody else, still notice when someone is pretty. And she was. No question about it. And there are times when this is a bonus. When you're sitting in a chair with someone looming over you prying your jaw open and scraping at your teeth with sharp metal implements, wouldn't you agree that having a really congenial and good-looking person goes a long way toward easing you through the process? And, no, this is not a sexist thing because I'm sure women would agree as well.

Of course, this theory backfires if you're going to visit your doctor to have some, er, issue in a precarious location examined closely.

That's when it dawned on me... the dental profession has it all wrong. We shouldn't be scheduling appointments with dentists, we should be scheduling them with hygienists. Think about it... if all goes well and even if we have minor problems, we see the hygienist for a far greater amount of time during the appointment than our dentist. Last night, I was with the hygienist for a half hour scraping, talking, scraping, laughing, scraping.

I saw the dentist for all of three minutes, literally. The last several times I've been in there, it's been the same story even during trips in which a cavity is discovered. Except, in those cases, the dentist might stay for five to eight minutes only to tell me I need to schedule another appointment to have it filled. That's when I really see the dentist, during those follow-up visits.

Hey, that's how I feel and I'm sticking to it.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Criminal Minds is finally back! Oh how Katie and I have missed you. In one short year of watching this show, it has quickly become one of our favorite dramas and we've been renting the DVDs on Netflix to catch up on past seasons.

However, did any of you watch last night's episode of CM? If you did, I'm curious if you noticed something peculiar.

As you know, most of the team were with SSA Rossi (Joe Mantegna) investigating his 20-year-old "one that got away" case. (POTENTIAL SPOILERS) While in Indianapolis trying to track down the carnival clown that became the prime suspect, did you catch the bit where Prentiss (Paget Brewster) and Rossi are talking with the carnival master? During their informal interview, Prentiss is standing in front of a sign with the big, bold-faced word "LEGACY" on it. Not sure what it was for, don't really care. But, at one point, and only for a second, Prentiss shifts a little bit and her head covers the "LE" on the sign so what you can still see reads "GACY." Intentional? Considering the person they catch is a clown, I'm wondering. Just one of those very subtle nods from the cameraman, editor, or director, but still. Very creepy and cool if you actually see it.

It's perfect, perfect, perfect timing...

You know it's going to be an interesting day when you start it off by using fluoride pre-rinse on your teeth and, as soon as you pour it in your mouth and begin swishing, you sneeze.


But minty fresh.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I think I'm going to try another video post tonight to go live tomorrow. This one will be for SJ, by request. If I can pull it off.

There is no other place I'd rather be...

Have I ever told you that I almost became a physical therapist?

Yep, that was going to be me in a clinic helping people work out the nearly unusable limbs, muscles, and joints in an effort to regain their functionality. I liked the idea of having such a rewarding profession. A job where you arrive, do some good, and go home feeling like a million bucks.

Then reality hit me in the face like the proverbial ton of bricks.

I took a summer job at an outpatient clinic in the northern suburbs. I worked as a physical therapy aide. While much of what you do as an aide, intern, assistant, etc., is grunt work like filing, paperwork, and cleaning up after the big-money pros, this place did allow me to take part in therapy sessions as well. For that I was eternally grateful because it made me change my mind about PT as a career.

I ran away. Far away. The foreign language program at NIU, to be specific.

I decided physical therapy just wasn't for me. I think I had this illusion in my head that the whole process was so much faster than it was in reality. That after a week or two, you'd see some miracle happen and a person who couldn't use their hands would suddenly be typing up a masterpiece or a wheelchair-bound patient would be running marathons. I think I also falsely believed that I'd be performing a variety of tasks and trying new, experimental techniques that would break the mold, as it were, and revolutionize the field.

Sure, it was naive and wholly unrealistic and something that nobody in their right mind would ever buy into. And a big part of me knew the truth was not at all how I was imagining it. But the dreamer in me didn't want to listen to the realist.

That's not to say that physical therapists don't occasionally witness miracles. They do happen. Just ask Kevin Everett. And you can have fun and find radical new ways to provide assistance to those in need (thank you, Nintendo). But I was young and impetuous and needed gratification right here, right now.

Please don't ask me why I thought Spanish was the way to go to achieve this goal. I don't even use my language "skills" at all. My Spanish is horrifically rusty. I guess this was one of those life lessons that you receive as you grow up.

This was part of what made me who I now am and gave me the wonderful life I now live. If I had gone the PT route, I wouldn't be with Katie. We never would have met because our paths never would have crossed. So, obviously, I don't regret the decision I made at all, but I will admit to wondering "what if" on occasion.

What about you? What sort of life lessons helped mold who you are now? What career paths had you considered in the past?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): GBBMC2008 starts today! Feel free to write up a post in support of the cause. Sign up if you haven't already. Check out who is participating.