23 posts from December 2008

You say, I like what you say...

Since Katie and I don't always see eye to eye on music (I listen to "weird stuff she's never heard of"), I will take on a new guest host for the Best Albums and Best Singles of the Year awards... Lilly! Yep, we've got her from now through pretty much all of January while my SiL is in California visiting her family and my bro is on business, well, everywhere.

This is actually one of the easiest lists in which to find candidates as I simply look for "2008" in the Year column in iTunes, but paring it down was so difficult that, this year, I had to make this my final list so I had, at the very least, semi-adequate time to re-listen to all of it. Plus I'm far more passionate about music than I am television or movies, so I feel the need to give the art its deserved due.

Note: All the links below are to iTunes. If you have iTunes, click on them and you can listen to the 30-second sample. You are not locked into buying it by clicking the link. Really.

Anyway, here are my Best Albums of the Year starting at 10 and moving down to numero uno:

Portishead, Third - Portishead - Third
I have always loved Portishead's ridiculously ethereal sound and it's nice to have them back after an eleven year absence. Yeah, much better to have them back than Axl Rose. Sorry Axl. Portishead is one of those bands that you just lay back with all the lights turned off and let the music create your environment. Yeah, that's how good it is. I recommend "The Rip."

Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch - Mudcrutch
Sounds like an alt metal band, doesn't it? Good thing I read about this project in Rolling Stone or I might never have known that this is, in fact, Tom Petty. Years before the Heartbreakers, he had a bluegrassy band called Mudcrutch. They never released a single album. However, one or two Mudcrutchers moved on with him to the Heartbreakers, but he never forgot his other pals and they all got back together last year for an album. A damn fine album. The first Tom Petty album in years that I've dug wholly. I recommend "Lover of the Bayou."

Duffy, Rockferry - Duffy - Rockferry
Last year, Amy Winehouse made us love a more jazzy style tune. Then her pervasive exposure in tabloids made us hate her. Luckily we now have the similar, but slightly more sophisticated Duffy jumping in on the scene. And I'm thankful as I love that Winehouse sound but can do without ever actually seeing her freak self again. I recommend "Mercy."

Ne-Yo, Year of the Gentleman - Ne-Yo - Year of the Gentleman (Bonus Track Version)
I will make this review as simple as possible... any artist that can make me unabashedly want to shake my ass anytime I listen to him/her perform regardless of where I might be deserves a "Best of" ranking. 'nuff said. Oh, and this has such a great early 80s Michael Jackson vibe to it that I love it. Okay, so it wasn't truly 'nuff said. Now though. I recommend "Closer."

Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie - Narrow Stairs
I love everything Death Cab does and I preorder it with no reservations whatsoever. Albums like Narrow Stairs reaffirm what little faith I have in the recording industry since a vast majority of what they put on the market is sheer crap. So, thank God somebody took notice of Death Cab and signed them and allow them to record music on their own terms. I recommend "Cath..."

R.E.M., Accelerate - R.E.M. - Accelerate
I was admittedly a bit scared when I heard that R.E.M. was releasing another album. It's been quite some time since they've truly moved me and for good reason... can you remember their last good album? It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, this one knocked me out and I've listened to it repeatedly throughout the year. I recommend "Supernatural Superserious."

Nada Surf, Lucky - Nada Surf - Lucky
I really have no idea how I got into Nada Surf. Before I started listening to them, I knew of nobody that I personally knew who was a fan or had ever really heard of them. But I've been a fan for quite some time now and was ecstatic when the iTunes New Music Tuesday podcast reported the release of this album. Happy days for the Kapgar! I recommend "Weightless."

Amos Lee, Last Days at the Lodge - Amos Lee - Last Days At the Lodge
I've said enough about Amos lately so I won't subject you to anymore. But I love it. I recommend "Listen."

Coldplay, Viva la Vida - Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Frontman Chris Martin reported that he was feeling stagnant after the first three albums that he and the guys in Coldplay had released. That they'd gotten in the proverbial "rut." So they hired new producers and put out one of the best albums I've ever heard from them. Not everybody is as keen about the shift in their sound. It's not quite so dramatic as some bands changing their sound, but it's noticeable to longtime fans. I like it. I recommend "Violet Hill."

Jenny Lewis, Acid Tongue - Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
Ah, my lovely red-haired songstress. I don't know what it is that I love so much about your voice, but it grabs me and won't let go. Damn you. So why does Jenny feel the need to record aside from her band, Rilo Kiley? Well, her solo stuff, save for an errant song or two, is not nearly as uptempo as what she records with her band. Plus she gets to bring in cool guest artists like Elvis Costello. I recommend "Carpetbaggers" with Elvis.

And now for my Best Singles of the Year list. No explanation, just a list. And not in order of favoritism, simply alphabetical. Why 21? I dunno. It was 25 and I pared it down a little bit, but it's at least still legal. 

  1. Chris Brown "Forever"
  2. Chester French "She Loves Everybody"
  3. Coldplay "Viva la Vida"
  4. Death Cab for Cutie "I Will Possess Your Heart"
  5. Fall Out Boy with John Mayer "Beat It"
  6. John Legend with Andre 3000 "Green Light"
  7. Amos Lee "Listen"
  8. Jenny Lewis "Godspeed"
  9. The Killers "Human"
  10. The Kills "Cheap and Cheerful"
  11. Nada Surf "I Like What You Say"
  12. Ne-Yo "Closer"
  13. Nine Inch Nails "Discipline"
  14. Portishead "Machine Gun"
  15. R.E.M. "Supernatural Superserious"
  16. The Raconteurs "Salute Your Solution"
  17. Tokyo Police Club "Tessellate"
  18. Vampire Weekend "A-Punk"
  19. Volumen Cero "El Mar"
  20. Weezer "Pork and Beans"
  21. Kanye West "Love Lockdown" - Not as good as the Letterman live version, but still worthy.

Damn, there was a lot of good music this year.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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

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

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

Huh? Why six?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man came by to hook up my cable TV...

Here I am coming at you with my first year-end "Best of" list and this first one will be dedicated to the fine art of small-screen production... the television awards.

When I've done television awards in the past, they usually occured around the end of the traditional TV season and I would call them the Primetime TV Kappy Awards (2007 | 2006). Katie and I would work together to come up with winners in several categories and provide witty banter justifying our picks.

However, since the timing of the awards is changing, so is the format. This year, we've cut down the number of awards mostly by eliminating the distinction between rookie and veteran as well as actor and actress. We've also cut out the banter. Katie and I were discussing this on the road and didn't feel like recording our discussions, especially since they weren't nearly as funny as in the past. I guess we're still a little bitter about some show cancellations and a few others that are being thrown around.

So, without further ado, here are the Primetime TV Kappy Awards for 2008!

Acting Awards:

  • Best Dramatic Acting - Jon Hamm, "Don Draper," Mad Men although I also really like Harvey Keitel as "Lt. Gene Hunt" on Life on Mars (why can't I find the British version on Netflix?).
  • Best Comedic Acting - Neil Patrick Harris, "Barney Stinson," How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Dramatic 1-2 Punch (although, together, they are arguably quite comedic as well) - G.W. Bailey and Tony Denison, "Lieutenants Provenza and Flynn," The Closer
  • Best Comedic 1-2 Punch - Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, "Penny and Sheldon," The Big Bang Theory
  • Best Dramatic Ensemble - (tie) Criminal Minds and The Closer
  • Best Comedic Ensemble - The Office
  • Best Comeback Role (after being away from a significant TV role for a while) - (tie) Benjamin Bratt, "William Banks," The Cleaner and Chi McBride, "Emerson Cod," Pushing Daisies
  • Best Recurring Guest Role - Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen, "Clay and Willie Ray Johnson," The Closer
  • Best One-Off Guest Role - Wil Wheaton, "Floyd Hansen," Criminal Minds
  • Dark Alley Award (not that this should need an explanation, but it's the person you'd least like to meet in a dark alley) - Michael C. Hall, "Dexter Morgan," Dexter although a close second would go to Adam Baldwin as "John Kasey" in Chuck.

Show Awards:

  • Best Drama - Mad Men
  • Best Comedy - How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Show Canceled Too Soon - (tie) Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone
  • Biggest Drop-Off in Quality - Ugly Betty, is anybody else tired of how condescending Betty is becoming? If it weren't for the spectacular supporting cast, I'd probably have given up on this show already.
  • Most Overstayed Welcome - My Name is Earl
  • Lost in Left Field (a show that has lost its way and needs some guidance, or major restructuring) - Grey's Anatomy, the Denny ghost lovin' thing? Blech!

Network Awards:

  • Best Network - any extended cable network with cool original programming like USA, TNT, TBS, and AMC.
  • Worst Network - ABC, for killing some shows too soon and giving too much of a lifeline to others.

Bear in mind, these are based on the shows that Katie and I watch. And, while we watch a lot of shows, it's a small percentage of what's available. So let us know how you would amend these awards.

IHomeih9 Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie received one of these iHome iH9 iPod alarm clocks from my bro and SiL for Christmas. It's pretty cool and she was stoked to finally be able to listen to some real music as her alarm as opposed to the crappy reception we get from the AM/FM radio in our current alarm clock.

Last night, though, we discovered a little glitch. After setting her alarm, it would make this little beep every so often and we'd see the alarm icon turn off and then turn back on. It didn't dawn on me until several minutes later that the on/off switching was happening as I was fast forwarding or hitting the flashback rewind or pause buttons on our TiVo remote. Yeah, it would seem the iHome clock radio and our TiVo share a frequency.

I think we're going to have to be much more attentive when we go to bed at night to make sure her alarm is still on.

'Til one by one they were gone...

I find it funny how Katie and I go out to dinner last night to enjoy each other's company and what do we spend the time doing?

Talking? No.

Sharing details about our day? No.

Staring longingly in each other's eyes? Well, that's half right.

The entire meal, we were fixated by a balloon that had floated over to our table. Enough helium had leaked out that it wasn't drifting toward the ceiling, but enough was left that it was still aloft in the air to some degree. It glided from one couple, who had spent some time transfixed by it as well, along the bench to us. Then it just moved around in circles by Katie. Sometimes it looked as though it was going to leave, only to decide we were worth more of its time and it would stick around. There were a few moments it almost seemed to respond to verbal coaxing from Katie. She offered it a French fry. It didn't accept. But she did name him "Ol' Blue."

Of course I snapped a few pictures with Katie's iPhone. Here area a couple of them...

Balloony friend

Balloony friend 2

Yeah, we brought it home. And it subsequently lost all floating power. It has now settled on the floor of our living room.

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

Slip slidin' away...

It's one of those mornings where I'm both upset and grateful. No, not because of the holiday season, but because of what did and could have happened this morning on my way to work.

If you read any local Chicago news this morning, officials are calling it one of the worst road icing events they've ever seen. Hundreds of accidents reported by 8 a.m. It's that bad.

On my route to work, I was trying to turn off one road to get to the highway in to work. I'd already hit a couple small ice patches by this time but recovered without a problem. I've owned my truck long enough to know how to get out of just about anything. We've got a bit of a symbiotic relationship going... we can feel each other (no, not in that way). However, when I hit this turn lane, I could tell the plows and salt trucks had done nothing at all. I lost complete control of my truck for the first time. The pedals did nothing. The steering wheel may as well not have even existed. I just slid. And I had only been driving about 10-15 MPH into that lane.

I kept sliding. Right up to the car in front of me. At the last second, something shifted and made me drift into a giant snowbank on the side of the road.

While I was ticked that I lost control. I was entirely thankful that I not only didn't hit the car in front of me, nor the other car stuck in an extension of the snowbank, but also that the cars behind me were far enough away that they could avoid my lane and allowed me room to back out of the snow and onto the road.

No damage to the Beast whatsoever, though. Phew!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Katie got me a camera bag for my new Sony! And it's pretty awesome. It's a Tamrac shoulder sling bag. Perfect fit for the camera with my 35-70mm lens on it. Plus some compartments for cables and chargers and a pocket for extra memory cards and whatnot. Also, it's built for add-on components like a smaller pouch just for my telephoto lens, etc. I love it.

And I got another gift that is going to assist my photo and music loving immensely... a 500GB Apple Time Capsule. Sure, I could've requested just any external hard drive for our computers. But, considering we're probably buying Katie a MacBook very soon, having this Time Capsule available for her to use with Time Machine on it will be very nice. I also have an additional $100 in Apple Cash, which I'm debating using to upgrade the Time Capsule to the full 1TB jobber. I think I'd have to pay another $100 on top of all this. Good idea to plan for the future?

I'm dreaming of...

Howsabout a Christmas Eve edition of Snippet Wednesday?

First the good news, I'm pretty much done with what I had over the weekend. I'm back to having a varied and flavorful diet with few to no gastrointestinal repercussions.

And just in time for Katie to get sick. Which she did yesterday on her first official full day off from both work and school.

Helluva vacation, isn't it?

AmosleeliveI could say that I was building dramatic tension by holding off a couple days on drawing names from the Amos Lee live EP contest. Or I could say that I was trying to give people a little more time to enter. Or I can just face facts and admit I freakin' forgot until I was driving home yesterday from work and Amos Lee played on shuffle on my iPod and burned like a flaming beacon of guilt from the Heavens. CRAP!

Officially six people entered: sizzle, Sheila (CSR), Whit, Marie, Faiqa, and Nanuk the lurker. I'm going to assign numbers in order that they entered and use my fantastic random number generator (Katie) to pick one of you.

What's this? Must be a glitch. Katie picked 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. Hmmm... okay then. I guess you all get a copy. Consider it my way of abating the guilt of having forgotten. ;-)

Just e-mail me with the e-mail address you have associated with your iTunes account and I'll get that EP gifted your way. Sheila, I know you wanted to wait until you have your iPod, but you can still use iTunes now and listen on your computer even without an iPod. Let me know if you'd still like to wait, though.

Anybody who missed out on the contest but would still like to order the EP (it's only US$4.49) can do so at iTunes.

Last night, I finally saw the Family Guy "Blue Harvest" Star Wars special. I can't believe how faithfully that team recreated many of the scenes from the original Star Wars film. Seth MacFarlane, et al, did a magnificent job of showing their undying love of the original film while still giving it their Family Guy spin that I was floored. The animation was gorgeous without straying from their style, the casting of Star Wars characters was spot on (although I'll never forgive them for killing my love of Obi-Wan Kenobi), and the humor was some of the best I've seen from Family Guy in years.

"Oh wait, now we gotta do the rest of this thing with Danny Elfman?" Brilliant.

And now I'm off to begin work on my "Best Of..." year-end lists: movies, albums, and songs. Since I forgot to do a TV list in May for TV when I usually do it, I think I may include that one here as well. Hey, even the networks have talked about abandoning the traditional season structure for show production, why can't I with the awards, right? This is going to be a lot of work as I just picked up eight CDs from the library yesterday all of which could be contenders as 2008 releases. Aye aye aye. Why do I do this to myself?

Oh yeah, because I love it!

And I'm sadistic. Or is masochistic? I can never remember.

No time for losers...

Wow, it is getting truly wicked out now. Visibility from the window outside my office is maybe 1000 feet. Beyond that, all whiteness. It's almost like I'm coming close to living out my own Jose Saramago nightmare.

It's times like these that I feel I should have an overnight bag ready to go for work just in case I get stuck here. I can't imagine what it would be like to be stuck at work overnight due to weather that is unplanned. Sure, I've pulled overnight shifts, but they were known ahead of time and I was able to plan accordingly. But this? This is nuts. And I really don't want to be stuck. Not now. Two days until Christmas, for Christmas' sake!

Oh please may the roads be plowed before I have to leave.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Do I look?

Do I dare to actually look and see how it all played out? Oh hell, I guess I'd better...



I WON! I WON! I never win fantasy sports! I've been known to play upwards of three leagues in a single sport at one time and never placed higher than second or third. In the three years I've played in Brandon's DOWN WITH PANTS league, I placed seventh and 11th... pitiful. This, though, is awesome!

Okay, enough tooting of my own horn. Now I get to go ball up in a corner and cry that the season is over and I have to wait another eight months for the next season to begin.

But, before I go, can someone please tell me what the hell RW's avatar is? Looks like a booger or Slimer from Ghostbusters. I know I've seen it before or maybe it just reminds me a bit of the smiley from the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Wildcats, football... Wildcats, football...

There are pros and cons to having been subjected to the flu this past weekend.

  • Pro #1: Without going into any details, I feel the thinnest I've felt in a couple years.

And, actually, that might be the only pro.

  • Con #1: I was sick during Katie's first weekend after her classes ended. The weekend we should've been celebrating not only that she was done for the semester, but that she pulled in another 4.0 GPA. I'm ridiculously proud, but couldn't do much to celebrate.
  • Con #2: My diet becomes Katie's diet. She's not a big fan of cooking for one. So she was eating the same bland crap I was. Chicken noodle soup, noodles, etc. Not that there's anything wrong with those foods, but, after a while, you kinda want a little more.
  • Con #3: Missing one of her family Christmas parties. I guess we only have three this year instead of the normal four. But it still kinda sucks.

I'm not completely over it just yet. But hopefully soon.

Moving on...

I've got a third Five Questions to run through. This set comes from my neighbor to the north, Nat! Here is a link to her 5Q.

1. You recently shared a 10th anniversary with Katie. If you could give her anything in the world what would it be? (She's already had your hunka-hunka burning love.)
You realize Katie laughed her ass off when she read "hunka-hunka burning love," don't you? Thank you for that. I would give her a baby. Simply put. And we will, SJ. Fear not. Mini-Me will happen soon.

2. I have noticed (I could be misunderstanding) that you take it personally when specific Chicagoans or Americans do dumb things. I think "ashamed" was the word you use. Why do you think that is? (And weren't the Bush years just a bit brutal on you?)
You're not misunderstanding. Not in the slightest. I realize what a tenuous relationship the USA has with the world as a result of the Bush Administration. Although I'm not placing all the blame on him, his admin certainly does deserve a big chunk of finger pointing. So the reason why I feel so ashamed is because, even though I realize that stupid people are typically the minority of any population, they are the ones that achieve the headlines in the news. And, given the World Wide Web, these news stories circle the globe faster than the fallout from that meteor in the beginning of Armageddon. And, when that person receives such notoriety combined with the low expectations the world already has of us, it tends to reflect on the rest of the population of the USA as though we're all complicit. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, but it's truly amazing how often you hear "stupid American" or "ignorant American" while having done nothing personally to deserve it. Know what I mean?

3. Football. I don't get it. I mean you get more people at college and high school games than we get at the Grey Cup. What's up with that?
Wildcats As sung by Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes, and Goldie Hawn, et al, in the movie Wildcats, "It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings... football."

It's hard to explain the appeal of American football sometimes. It's even harder to understand why they use the word "football" to describe a sport where feet only touch the ball (or should only touch the ball) a grand total of a few seconds per game. But, in my mind's eye, it's a fantastically fun sport that requires a lot of strategy, balls, and luck. It's organized war. Their playbooks in the NFL are larger than those in a war room, I would imagine. And some people are fanatical about it. No different than football/soccer in the rest of the world. Both sports have equal levels of fanaticism. In fact, considering the movie Green Street Hooligans, I'd almost say that football/soccer has greater levels of fanaticism. I've never seen street gangs fighting and killing to support the Bears over the Packers. Seriously people. It's a freakin' game! Well, except maybe in Texas. But that's a whole other story.

4. I am toying with running the Chicago Marathon in 2009. Care to join me?
If by "join" you mean "stand on the sidelines and cheer like mad," then sure!

5. What one obscure film do you think everyone should see?
Oh, for you documentary buffs, I would highly recommend a little known, barely seen film called Barbed Wire Pioneers: Inventing a Community. Not sure where you'd obtain a copy in all honesty, but I would recommend it if you are creative enough to nab it. And, no, it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that I helped make it in grad school.

Want to be part of it? Follow these instructions:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Oh great, I've lost Katie forever. Thanks a pantload, SJ.

Click on the image to be taken to this shirt on SJ's Zazzle storefront.

Have a drink on me...

Well, this was supposed to be a week of 5Q posts, but I only received two sets of questions. No biggie, though. Just had to whip the mice in my brain-like contraption into some semblance of working order to juice a couple posts out of them.

Quick question for all of you, have you ever reconnected with someone with whom you lost touch only to feel significantly inferior to the success they've had. It can be any way by which you personally define "success" -- financial, spiritual, emotional, etc.

I just reconnected via Facebook with someone I was friends with years ago. In the short time we knew each other, we became pretty decent friends. But as many things go when you graduate high school and leave town, you lose touch. It happens. Shouldn't, but it does.

MartiniAnyway, he found me and we started talking. I asked what he's been doing with his life. He's got a degree in business that he followed up a couple years later with an MBA and works as an IT project team leader. That's cool. But what blew my mind was when he told me that he, a buddy, and a third partner bought a building and converted it into a martini bar. They own a second building as well that they rent to tenants.


Dude, a martini bar??? Rock on, Star Child! That sort of thing would be so much fun. I realize that bars are a big hassle and take up a lot of time and have a lot of overhead, liability, and whatnot. Believe you me, I've talked to enough current and former bar owners to know this. But it would still be pretty cool.

So, yeah, color me envious.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Only three of you so far? I say "music" and "free" and I only get interest from three people? Sure, it's not some big, elaborate, expensive prize. Hell, it's not even really a contest; just a giveaway. But it's free! My second favorite four-letter word beginning with "F."

You have until Monday.

Try to separate them...

Just a very quick note.

I know that Katie and I celebrated our wedding anniversary back in October. But today marks our 10th anniversary together.

One decade. In the immortal words of Harry Caray, "Holy cow!"

This is, by a longshot and outside my biological family, the longest anyone has ever willingly put up with my shit. By like nine years and eight months. Most normal people ran away screaming and seeking professional help.

Happy anniversary, hon. Sorry, but the return period has long ago expired.

Oh tidings of comfort and joy...

We interrupt this week-long 5Q Extravaganza to bring you... SNIPPET WEDNESDAY!!

Amosleelive I am an unabashed fan of Amos Lee. Have been since Katie and I first saw him perform live as the opening act for Norah Jones some years back. And I'm doing my part to promote his fantastic music by blogging when he releases new music or material. Well, he now has a five-track Live Session EP available on iTunes. While I would highly recommend just going over there and buying it outright for yourself (it's only $4.49 and it's iTunes Plus, meaning that it's higher bitrate and DRM free), I'm going to give away a copy here. The deal? Leave a comment saying you want to be entered in the contest. The catch? You have to be an iTunes user as this is an iTunes-exclusive album. Come next Monday at whatever time I decide to write my post, I'll close the contest, assign numbers to the entrants, and use some number randomizer to pick one of you to receive a copy. That simple. And, no, this is not limited to just people who have commented here before. Maybe this will serve as a bit of a delurker carrot-on-a-stick if you will. C'mon out and play!

The third-party Blogrolling service has now been down for more than two months. Apparently they were hacked and are both fixing their security holes and upgrading to what they're calling Blogrolling 2.0 all in one fell swoop. And it's pissing those of us who still use the service (because we're too damned lazy to just handcode our rolls) off severely. I have a ton of people I need to add and some I just discovered desperately need to be updated. My blogroll still has Hilly's old Typepad URL for chrissake! So any of you more recent reads, don't think I'm dissing you. I'm not. I just can't make an update. If it's not fixed soon, I may have no choice but to handcode. I'll give them until the New Year or until I'm so inclined to do it myself, whichever comes first.

Just when you thought Facebook and other social media services were our friends comes this little bit out of Australia about a couple who were in default on their mortgage. After months of trying to find them and serve them with legal documents about their situation, lawyers convinced a judge to allow them to serve these docs, legally binding, via their Facebook accounts. The one condition was that they couldn't be posted in a publically visible area of their profile. Wow, if ever there was support for Miss Britt's belief that Facebook and MySpace were evil and used for stalking (listen to the episode dated 12/03/2008), this is it. Tip for anyone hiding from authorities of any sort... don't keep using social media accounts while on the lam, 'tay?

CubeClock I found my ideal Christmas gift. It has to be one of the coolest things ever... the Cube Clock. Basically, it's a cube-shaped clock made to look like a Rubik's Cube. No, it doesn't have the full twistability (is that a word?) of its inspiration, but it does twist in at least the top layer. If you look at the top right cubit, you'll see a sticker indicating time (facing), alarm (right cubit), calendar (not visible), and temperature (also not showing). Simply, whichever of these panels is aligned above the clock face controls which mode the clock is in. And the three cubits underneath the display help with settings. I wonder if you just smack the top of the cube for snooze.

Okay, I'm sure you're all sick to death of me ranting and raving about busted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, but I have one more thing I need to share with you. And I'm sure when you hear that it was sent to me by everyone's fave Sheila over at Charm School Reject, you'll likely read attentively. And it's also sort of a holiday song. Sort of.

"Blagojevich" by John McHugh
(to the tune of "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen")

Get packin', Rod Blagojevich
The state's in disarray
The Tribune wants you unemployed
At least by Christmas Day.
The TV pundits want your head
Could there by pay to play?
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Good riddance Rod Blagojevich
Your Elvis look's inane,
The Senate's mad, so's Lisa's dad
You drive us all insane.
Our transit's broke, the state's a joke,
The Tollway's one big pain.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Good luck old Rod Blagojevich
The feds have quite a place
Fitzegerald's poked his nose around
And if he has a case,
George Ryan's moving stuff around
Creating extra space.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy
Save Illinois!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy

Until next week, I bid thee adieu!

Bought it at the five and dime...

Considering my motivation to come up with original topics still seems to be using the bitterly cold Illinois weather as a justification for hybernation, I'm going to answer another 5Q challenge.

This one comes from my old bloggy friend, SJ. Since I know she's going to guilt me for my use of that word, I suppose I should qualify and say that I mean "old" only in that she's one of the first people I met in the blogosphere. Literally. She was my first commenter upon moving to Typepad, I believe. Wow, feels so long ago! Heh. Oh yeah, here's her 5Q.

So here you go...

1. When are you and Katie going to start making little Apgars?
Soon. Aligning stars be damned.

2. Who does your mom like better, you or Brian, and why (speculate if you don't know)?
Me. Duh. Everyone knows that. I'm the first born. Brian was the accident. Nobody has told him this yet. But he was. They were done after me. My parents knew they couldn't improve upon the perfection that is me so they weren't even going to bother. But, things happen. That "thing" being my brother. C'est la vie.

3. Why is your beloved grandmother nicknamed after an electronic device?
I think this question is misworded. It should read, why is an electronic device named after my grandmother. And the answer to that is because Apple needed something catchy and cool to market their product. They looked at my blog and saw how wicked cool my grandmother is and how universally loved she is and thought, "what better name to give to what is certain to be one of the wicked coolest and most universally loved electronic devices known to man!" Hence, the iPod Nano!

4. You are named Best Chicago-area Blogger, and offered a choice of prize: a Nikon D700 camera or an Ibanez JSBDG guitar. Which would you choose and why?
Tough question for a couple reasons. One, I did just get my new camera, not a Nikon D700, and I love it with a passion so I really don't need a camera. Two, as much as I love guitars and pine for my old Ibanez EX160, I question how much I would actually play. My attention span is pretty damn short with a lot of things. So I wonder how into playing guitar I would be sometimes. But if I were to just pick right here and now, it would be the JS BDG. That thing is pretty, isn't it?

5. Share with us who the top five people are on your "Bloggers I'd Love To Meet" list, and why.
There are a ton I want to meet, no question. And this is pretty cruel making me pick just five. Can I pick five areas I'd like to travel to, instead, and list the bloggers I want to meet in those areas? No? Fine.

So, in no particular order, and listed because I've been waiting the longest to meet them:

God this list could go on and on forever. I feel really bad answering this one. Please, forgive me if your name is not on here. These people have been on my must-meet list the longest and so many more have been added more recently. Ah hell, I'm gonna get flamed anyway.

If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure you link back to the original post.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I think Katie's and my TV viewing is going to get really easy for a little while. Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone will soon be gone. Life on Mars is on hiatus, with a questionable return status, until the end of January. And there will be no new Chuck until February. What the heck?

It's weird. We dropped a lot of shows from last season either because we lost interest or they were canceled. I'd say we lost about 20-25% of our viewership of TV. That's a lot. And we only picked up on two new shows, Gary Unmarried (it's Jay Mohr... you can't say no to Jay Mohr) and Life on Mars, the latter of which is one only I watch.

So not cool. And the only thing coming up that can fill some time is the long-awaited return of 24. Jack had damn well better be good or I don't know what we're gonna do with ourselves. Oh wait, Psych and Burn Notice are back, aren't they?

I just want to fly...

I'm not sure who resurrected the Five Questions meme of yore, but it's been making the rounds in the blogosphere of late and I thought, oh what the hell, I'll play along... again.

Or maybe I was just too damned lazy to come up with an original post this fine, ugh, Monday morning.

Here are my five questions from the lovely DutchBitch. You can read her responses to someone else's five here. And, SJ, fear not. I'm still willing to answer the five from you. Actually, part of me wants to do a 5Q each day this week save for Snippet Wednesday. That's how unoriginal I'm feeling. So maybe I'll seek out a couple more to cover the extra couple of days this week. Hmm...

1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
NOOOOO!!! You can't make me grow up! I refuse to! I'm a Toys'r'us Kid! But if I must choose, I want to be a firefighting space cowboy! Or a crew member on board the Millennium Falcon or Serenity. Too fun! Or maybe a Muppet Wrangler. Is there such a job?

But, if any of my coworkers/boss are reading this... I want to be the best damn Web-dude I can be!

2. What would be your choice for a last meal if you were on death row and why? (Ok, so that is really 2 questions, STFU)
Such foul acronymical language! I don't know if I can continue.

But I shall... it would be Katie's beef stroganoff with a nice bottle of red wine. And if you could time the wine to arrive just before the execution, all the better.

3. If you could travel to Dutchyland today, what would be the first touristic site you would want to visit?
Well, I'd have to find "Dutchyland" on a map first. A search for it in Google Maps only comes up with a suggestion for "Germany." But, when I do find it, I hear one of the most famous tourist sites is DutchBitch Casa. However, the U.S. State Department warns that this could also be a hotbed of questionable shenanigans and a veritable tourist trap... SIGN ME UP!

4. Is that you that just let one rip?
I lit a match. Quit yer whining!

5. Whip or nippleclamps?
Are you talking Indiana Jones or a riding crop? Gator-toothed or straight-edged and rubber-coated? Ya gots to be more specific!

There you have it, my first 5Q. If you want to play along, leave me a comment in which you BEG to be interviewed. I mean it, I want begging.

In your post replying to my questions, link back to the original post of the person asking you the 5Q, which I did above!

You must also put the rules in your post:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me” or email me (addy in sidebar)
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie and I decided on a whim to go see a movie yesterday. I hadn't seen one since Twilight came out and, to be honest, there isn't much showing right now that screams, "SEE ME!" But I had heard pretty decent reviews of Nothing Like the Holidays with Alfred Molina, Elizabeth Peña, and a bevy of other good actors, so we checked it out.

Simply put, a very enjoyable watch. Basically, it's the story of two generations of a Puerto Rican family (and their close friends) in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Around Christmas, the stars align so that all of them can spend the holidays together at their parents' house (Molina and Peña). The reason why it would be so difficult otherwise is because their eldest son, Mauricio (John Leguizamo), is a lawyer in NYC married to a stock trader (Debra Messing) who doesn't feel she fits in with his family; their daughter, Roxanna (Vanessa Ferlito), is a struggling actress in Hollywood; and their other son, Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez), is just arriving home after three years in Iraq. Everyone in the family has their issues both with each other and with their own station in life and all these issues boil to a head, as many things tend to, during what should be a happy holiday celebration.

It was a very well-acted film with great supporting roles played out by Luis Guzman, Jay Hernandez, and Melonie Diaz and one that deserves a bit more notice than it's receiving if the $3.5M it made in its first weekend is any indication.

C'mon people, see good movies. Skip that The Day the Earth Stood Still tripe!

Ode to Joy...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I never said I was a good poet.

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

I'm back in the saddle again...

After a two-week hiatus during which he saw the world, reinvigorated his persona, and bedded many other blog theme days, Snippet Wednesday makes his triumphant return!

Yeah, I'm back on my Razr for a little while as I had to send my Nokia E71 back England way yesterday. I may have griped about a few issues I had with it here and there, but it is certainly a great phone and I will miss having it around. Dammit.

So did you all notice anything new about the comments here? 


Yep, Typepad implemented a new comment system for their users. It's opt in only so not all the Typepad blogs you visit may have it rolled out yet. Basically we now have an avatar system (although you need to set up a free Typekey account, which is apparently now known as a "Typepad Profile," so your avatar will show up), nested comments with direct replies, and e-mail notification should a reply be posted to your comment (also requiring Typekey). The fact that it requires Typekey/Typepad Profile kinda bugs me, but it's a step in the right direction.

When Katie and I bought my camera the other day, I opted for a four-year warranty. The 20% off that I received covered the cost of the warranty, so why not? Anyway, the woman at Sony asked me if I was aware that the warranty covered X, Y, and Z, but not A, B, and C, with "C" being "acts of war."

Me: Acts of what? You mean the warranty actually says that?

Her: It does now.

Me: I'm guessing for reporters in warzones?

Her: Yep.

Me: Wow!

Jesus, we can't win for losing with movies on Netflix. First it was the travesty known as Fred Claus and, last night, it was Kung Fu Panda. Maybe it gets better the further you watch into it, but we got through the first half hour or 45 minutes and were bored to tears. We hadn't even chuckled once by the time we shut it off. I'm on the verge of deleting all films from our Netflix queue and just populating it with TV discs. Okay, not really, but you get my point.

Speaking of bad movies (and I admit I brought this one on myself), I was flipping through the on-screen channel guide and saw that some channel was playing The Hottie and the Nottie last night so I flipped it on out of sheer morbid curiosity. "The what and the what?" you might be asking. It's a Paris Hilton attempt at an acting career. Need I say more? I got through three minutes and 32 seconds before flipping the channel. Simply put, David Caruso can out-act Paris Hilton and that's saying something. What it's saying, I'm not sure, but it's something. The fact that this movie came out earlier this year and is already on extended cable also says something... about it stinking like year-old eggs, perhaps, but still.

Chicago is...

I love Chicago.

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

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

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

This is, simply put, a great goddamn state.

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

Fuckin' Blago.

'nuff said.

I want money...

I was watching a little bit of the Oklahoma-Missouri football game (that's "American Football" to all you outside our borders, sorry), and I took issue with something that happened during halftime.

Dr. Pepper hosted a football throwing contest (the video is from an old contest for a bit more money). Two guys were pitted against each other in a not-so-to-the-death competition to lob footballs through a hole in the side of a giant Dr. Pepper can. The kid who got the most in the hole (heh heh) won the contest.

Fun? Sure. It would be cool to do this and have it aired on television. Then to have a bunch of college cheerleaders flank you when you won? Why the heck not.

However, Dr. Pepper took it more than just a bit further. The winner was granted a $100,000 college scholarship.

For throwing a football. Well, five of them to be exact in this particular contest, but still and all the same.

Katie and I have been taking out student loans to pay for grad school for her like so many other people in this world. With the ridiculously overinflated cost of college in this day and age, there are few that don't need help. And with the increasing numbers of people needing help to pay for college and the instability of modern U.S. financial institutions, there is less and less money available. 

So it just angers the hell out of me that some kid won a drawing, threw five footballs through a hole, and walks away with $100,000 when so many others are trying through legitimate methods to get much-needed money. Not to say these kids don't necessarily need the assistance as well, but why can't Dr. Pepper create a real scholarship fund with the money and make it available to everyone through proper application processes? Heck, that amount could even be split into two or three or more scholarships to help an even greater number of people. Sure it would fund less of the overall experience, but they'd be helping more people.

Right now, I look at this Dr. Pepper contest the same way I do Oprah giving cars to everyone in her audience or taking dozens of camera crews with her as she opens her school for girls in Africa... charity in exchange for popularity, ratings, exposure, etc. Not charity for the sake of charity. It's disgusting to me in so many ways.

Sorry, I should try to be a bit happier. We are in the holiday season overall. But I do feel good knowing I'm not the only one bothered by it.

So, in trying to keep the holiday spirit going (questionable if it's even truly started yet), I present you with a meme in the extended post.

Continue reading "I want money..." »

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.

It's so cool, it's so hip, it's alright...

'nuff said.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I like when certain Web sites dynamically change the proverbial little things each time you revisit them. For example, a Javascript-based image rotation or how Flickr welcomes you in a different language each time you log back in or reload the page. I like that sort of thing.

FeedBurner does the same sort of thing. It's a corny message about "your feed" and what it's capable of. And last night's message certainly spoke to the geek in me...

Heh heh. Sorry, it's the little things in life for me.

A wise man once told me...

Typically, today would be Snippet Wednesday and I tried, I really tried, to come up with enough snippets to populate a post. But I kinda blew that on Monday with what was effectively a bunch of snippets, but on the wrong day. Oh well. So we're fiddling with the format a bit today. Why? Because I need your help.

I'm looking for a wise man (or woman, lest I be called sexist)... someone I can turn to for spiritual advice or guidance. A person whose actions are of such reproach and whose judgment is free of moral and ethical question (by my standards, of course) that I would feel comfortable, in a difficult situation, simply asking, "What would such-and-such do?"

But it's not just mentally asking the question, I feel the need to make it known to the world that I look to this person for this assistance. To achieve this, I will need physical reminders around me at all times. Do you remember the old WWJD ("What Would Jesus Do?") bracelets from several years ago? Yeah, something along those lines. I want a magnet on my office cabinet, a coffee mug, a mousepad, and a bracelet, maybe more, so that no matter where I look, I will see the solution to my nagging problem, the light at the end of the tunnel. So obviously this person must not only be wise, but marketable.

I'm turning to you, my blogopeeps. Who gets me better than all of you? That's why I want one of you to be that person.

I began considering some of you and came up with a list of positives and negatives, which I have detailed in this post. Do not feel offended if your name is not listed below. If you feel you would be a viable candidate for this role, nominate yourself! Tell me why you would be a good soothsayer. I will certainly take you under consideration.

Be my sage.

So far, I have:

Let's see... What Would Avitable Do? I think the appropriate question here is more What Wouldn't Avitable Do? And the answer scares me. Plus, WWAD looks too similar to wad, like "spitwad."

It's Me... Penelope
I love Penelope too much to wear a wimpy bracelet in her honor. Seriously! WWIMPD. "Wimp" right in the middle of it!

Delmer Wells
What Would Delmer Wells Do? WWDWD. That's truly a mouthful, but kinda looks cool on paper.

What Would Snackiepoo Do? I dunno. Kinda reminds me of Return of the Jedi, "Bantha poodoo."

Karl Erikson
What Would Karl Do? See "Avitable" above, but realize that, by comparison, Adam has shown considerable personal restraint.

Iron Fist
If I want to be a world dictator, this is the way to go! What Would Iron Fist Do? He'd rain down hellfire and brimstone, I tells ya!

What Would Watchdog Do? If I split "Watchdog" in two, we get What Would Watch Dog Do, WWWDD. A FULL HOUSE, baby! My favorite hand in poker. That's gotta be good for something, right?

Wil Wheaton
What Would Wil Wheaton Do? That's a lot of Ws. Even more than the World Wide Web. So I, like the World Wide Web Consortium (abbreviated W3C), will have to shorten it to "W4D" to make it easy. It's nice and concise as well as memorable and I feel I can trust Wesley Crusher to not guide me astray so long as I can get over the idea that the acronym sounds like a lubricant spray.

We all know Dave is evil. He declares such on a regular basis. Why would I want to use someone who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of all things evil as my daily inspiration? It's simple, evil gets stuff, be it items of wealth or favors or praise. Who wouldn't want that? Besides, that bracelet would read WWD2D, which sounds an awful lot like a certain Astromech droid who, through six Star Wars movies, made his vast knowledge and ability to accurately read a situation quite apparent, even if few people listened to his chirps and tweets. Plus, I could then make a What Would Bad Monkey Do? bracelet.

So what do you all think? One of the above or another blogger altogether?

What do you say...

I was at the gym last night and I ran into a an old coworker, let's call him Pat. Now Pat was one of those perpetually happy people. He always had a smile on his face, never had a bad word to say about anyone, very deeply religious. He's basically Kenneth the page from 30 Rock without the buffer of writers and a television screen. From what I've been told, pretty much his entire family is that way.

Disgusting, right? Anyway.

I had a conversation with him and we got on the topic of Thanksgiving.

Pat: So how was your Thanksgiving?

Me: Not bad. And yours?

Pat: Could've been better.

Hmmm... something questionable happened in Pat's household? I must push forth.

Me: "Could've been better"? What happened?

Pat: My brother relapsed.

Of course, me being the cynic, I automatically mentally assumed a drug addiction. Wow, his family had a chink in their sunny armor, a misstep in their happy dance, a black sheep.

Me: Relapsed? I never knew he lapsed.

Pat: I never told you about this?

Me: Nope.

Pat: My brother has bone cancer.

Oh hell.

Pat: Yeah, he's 14 years old and this is his fifth round of treatment.

Oh sweet Jesus, no.


How are you supposed to react to this? What do you say when a guy you know -- hell, I actually trained him at his job -- tells you that his 14-year-old brother has bone cancer and this guy seems to have given up all hope that the situation will ever permanently reverse itself?

Me: I'm sorry, Pat. I'm really sorry.

Me, the wannabe writer... and that's all I could come up with.

There is nothing left to say...

You would think after blogging only three times in the last week that I would have a helluva lot more to say.

You would think that with a holiday I would have a ton of time to jump online and write up some stuff.

The fact that neither of the above happened really worries me.

It's not as though nothing happened around here. Not as though we didn't do anything interesting. We did. But none of it really seemed blogworthy. Twitter worthy, sure. But not blogworthy. Let's quickly recap...

  • Hung out with family members many times
  • Cooked Thanksgiving dinner (which we never wound up videotaping for a segment of Damn Fool Network like we had planned)
  • Cleaned our house entirely
  • Rearranged our living room twice
  • Set up a Christmas tree for the first time in two years
  • Had a couple snowfalls
  • Went out to dinner for my brother's birthday, my birthday, and my parents' anniversary all combined in one; this also constituted the first time Katie and I had ever had fondue as a meal
  • Went Christmas shopping finally (and got more than half of it done in a mere two hours)
  • Discovered that Target offered rainchecks on Black Friday prices (yay for Target!)
  • Bought a DS game for the first time in about a year (The New York Times Crosswords - interesting, I know)
  • Went to the gym again and started up our diet again, just in time for the holidays
  • Watched nearly all of the first two seasons of How I Met Your Mother on DVD
  • Grew a beard
  • Watched what is probably the worst holiday movie ever, Fred Claus, on DVD (Netflix should offer a free month of rentals to anyone willing to watch that laughless tripe)
  • Watched the Bears get their asses handed to them by the Vikes
  • Rearranged my Netflix queue and discovered that an inordinate amount of our queue is TV shows, not movies
  • Changed the profile picture on most of my Web memberships (save for Facebook, MySpace, and some of the comment systems out there)
  • Am attempting to wade through more than 1,300 articles and posts in my reader; if I don't comment on every one, please understand

See? I told ya. Lots happened. But how much was really interesting?