17 posts from July 2009

Whenever you need someone...

Is there a point where mocking contempt actually becomes sympathy?

Confused? Yeah, I think I would be too after reading that statement.

What I'm referring to are the young Hollywood starlets who have made such shows of breaking down over the course of the last several years and have edged close to or over the verge of a nervous breakdown and into complete career and personal life destruction mode.

Sure, like many others, I've watched with morbid fascination as someone like Britney Spears who, despite some protestation, is actually a very talented young woman and seems to have it all just erupts. I don't need to recap it, we all know the story. And I will admit that I enjoyed the roller coaster ride. It was more thrilling than a day trip to Six Flags. You watch the news reports, you read some of the trashy tabloid articles while waiting to pay for groceries, you check online reports... and you're enraptured. Sometimes you laugh, sometimes you shake your head in disbelief, and you always wonder what will happen next. That was the fun part, a veritable game of Celebrity Limbo - how low can they go?

I think most of the fascination comes from the fact that I cannot even fathom having that much fame and money and then to sit there and watch it all be squandered. Maybe it's a boring thing to see for someone who is at a similar level professionally or financially, but I'm not, so I typically kick back and watch.

However, at some point, to me anyway, I start to feel a little pity. I don't know what causes it. I don't know where the line in the sand has been drawn that these starlets are crossing. But it's there. I feel bad for them and I almost want to help. Sure, from where I stand, all I can really do is be a bit of a cheerleader, but it's something.

With Britney, I have actually been hoping against hope that her career is permanently on the rebound and that her personal life will similarly follow suit. I want her to finish this tour she's on and make a lot of money and recoup her fanbase. I want her to find love and establish a positive relationship with her kids.

I don't know why I actually care, but for some twisted reason I do.

I'm also starting to feel this way about Mischa Barton. I'm not even a fan of Mischa and part of me, after seeing some of the stuff printed about her the last couple weeks, wants to reach out a hand and help pull her up to her feet.

The thing is, they're doing this to themselves so why do I actually care?

That's the $64,000 question. Although I think inflation may have raised the value a bit.

Lindsay Lohan? I don't know that I've reached the sympathy point with her yet. I still feel a bit ticked because I was such an early adopter fanboy of her performances in The Parent Trap and Mean Girls. LiLo's got some work to do to make me cross the threshold to true sympathy. Keep going, girl. You may get there yet.

Can I just say I'm dying for the return of Mad Men? I want season three and I want it now, dammit! I want to see how far in the future they jump, if at all. I want to see who is doing what and where and with whom. Please, just give me Mad Men or I'm going to have to keep doing stupid stuff on the Web like drooling over promotional stills or creating stupid images like this...


Yes, that's me as a character on Mad Men. Sure I may have fudged the body type a bit, but damn I look good. And I'm there with my own Betty Draper. Nice! Go ahead and make your own!

Please, AMC, make the madness stop and just give us season three already! I beg you. August 16 is too long to wait.

Oh lolli, lolli, lolli...

Eventually, if my eyes ever peel themselves open (ha! not freakin' likely), it will truly be Snippet Wednesday. Yet I fear it's gonna be a drag-ass one at that.

First a Happy Birthday wish to my Dad who turns God-only-knows how old today. Actually, I might really know if I wasn't too tired to do the math in my head. But he might not want me posting the truth so perhaps this works out for the better. Happy birthday, Dad!

The picture of me with Tori, Kim, Sizzle, and Nilsa the other day? It was pointed out to me by a couple of them that coming up with a name might have been easier if I had posted an alternate photo. One of the others that was taken by Sweets who snapped quite a few with my camera while Steven was taking pictures with everyone else's camera. So, below, find the picture they suggested and you all get to choose which name is better... "Kevin and the Hot Licks" (Nilsa's suggestion) or "Lollipop" (my suggestion). If you pick the last one, I'll get to strut into work like Jerry O'Connell and Corey Feldman as they sang "Lollipop" along the railroad tracks in Stand By Me. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll do that anyway.


Mark_buehrle_autograph I swear I gotta stay away from big-deal sports events. Last night, while typing up my weird post, I received an e-mail alert from the Chicago Tribune that White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle had another perfect game going into the fifth inning. If you recall, last week, he pitched what is only, by official definition, the 18th perfect game in baseball history. And now, on his first game back after that accomplishment, he had another one going. There have never been back-to-back perfect games ever. So I turned on the TV and saw him get two guys out in the sixth against the Twins, only to give up a walk, a couple hits, and a run immediately afterward, thus negating not just a follow-up perfect game, but any shot at even a no hitter. So to White Sox fans, I apologize. I'll stay away and never watch anything of this sort again. Promise. But to Buehrle, 45 consecutive retired batters? Nicely done. At least you're doing your part to make Chicago baseball exciting.

Yay! Both Burn Notice and Royal Pains have been picked up for additional seasons by USA. And I do believe Wil Wheaton Tweeted from ComicCon that The Big Bang Theory was renewed for two more seasons. Happy days!

Oh, dude, Nathan Fillion is on Twitter? Sweet!

And in pure LeSombre tradition, I will save the last snippet for myself for when someone truly pisses me off and I must go all Whitechapel on their ass.


I know Saint Peter won't call my name...

I'm reading a book right now called The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi about a modern serial killer in Florence, Italy, and I came across a rather profound thought. The character who said it is an Medical Examiner's Assistant named Fosco and he is answering the question of whose body he is operating on as posed to him by Spezi (yes, this book is a true story):

"This one? A brilliant scholar, a distinguished professor in the Accademia della Crusca no less. But as you can see, tonight yet another disappointment has laid me low; I have just opened the head and what do I find inside? Where is all this wisdom? Boh! Inside it looks just like the Albanian hooker I opened yesterday. Maybe the Professor thinks he's better than her! But when I open them up, I find they're equal! And they both have achieved the same destiny: my zinc gurney. Why, then, did he tire himself out poring over so many books? Boh! Take my advice, journalist: eat, drink, and enjoy yourself--"

I know Fosco was being a bit of a smart ass. I've heard that people working as MEs and in morgues develop rather morbid senses of humor. But there is something very insightful about it.

Which of our accomplishments in life really matter? What things that we do truly have weight enough to count in our favor in the afterlife? Say you believe in Heaven (or adapt this question to your own beliefs as you see fit), what would you present to Saint Peter at the pearly gates as justification for why you should be allowed in?

Yeah, this is way too deep for a Tuesday night. I need a drink.

Something tells me I either need to stop being so deep on Tuesdays or come up with a new category to be dubbed "Deep Thought Tuesdays." What is it about this day of the week lately that gets me thinking so pseudo-profoundly?

Katie and I saw what had to be one of the worst movies we've seen in a long time this past weekend. Okay, let me qualify that a bit... this is one of the worst movies that we actually finished. Typically, when a movie is bad, we stop watching it. But this was such a trainwreck, I had to see how it ended.

I soooo regret that decision.

The movie was Nic Cage's Knowing about a guy who uncovers a code in a 50-year-old page filled with numbers written by a grade school girl in 1958 and placed for 50 years in a time capsule at a new school. Cage's son gets the letter when the capsule is reopened and is fascinated by the seemingly mindless jumble of numbers.


Turns out that the numbers represent the dates, death counts, and lat/long coordinates of major disasters for the next 50 years. But there are three dates on the sheet that have not yet happened. And, Cage, as you would expect, takes it upon himself to try to stop them. Sheeyah, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Basically, that's what Katie and I did the entire time... insult the movie. We were a regular Statler and Waldorf just picking it to shreds. And that was the only thing that made it tolerable. We were tossing around gems like...

E.T.'s back! "Yo bitches! I'm baaaaaccckkk! Where's my fuckin' Reese's Pieces? Yo."

Look at that! One tanker truck nailing her car and all of Glenn Close's problems are erased!

"So uhhh... if you're only taking me and her up there to space, does that make her my bitch? Sure she's only 12, but I can make it work."

Where's John Nash?

Hey whisper dudes, I know you're hard up for work seeing as you haven't done anything since Dark City, but can you cut that shit out? It's annoying me. [yes, I'm aware Alex Proyas directed both films]

A door? You're really stealing a door from a school and taking it all the way home and wasting all that damn time when you should be seeking cover? And speaking of cover... a cave, really? We're supposed to buy that as a solution?

Lesson to be learned here... never fly out of Logan Airport.

So this is what Draco Malfoy does during his breaks from tormenting Harry Potter.

Can somebody make those black rocks start flying at Cage's skull and end this thing already?

Okay, maybe it was only funny to us as we watched it.


Friends like these...

At Nilsa's

You see that picture? I was trying to come up with some cool name to describe us like the "Blogging Trio o' Terror" but there are five of us. "Sex Kittens"? Nah, not with me in it. 

So just call me Charlie and declare them my Angels. That works.

From left to right, we have Tori, Kim, Sizzle, and Nilsa, thus comprising a killah network of both incredible bloggers and fantastically cool women. And my personal value skyrocketed in their very presence yesterday at Nilsa's house in the way deep north end of Chicago. 

I'd really love to say more, but there are no words in a human vocabulary grand enough to describe them. Suffice it to say that if you ever have the opportunity, you should meet them. Do not pass go, do not colect $200, just GO.

Thank you all for agreeing to get together. And thank you, Nilsa and Sweets, for hosting us.

And I get to move two people over to my "Bloggers I've Met" (and want to meet again!) list.

Everything zen, everything zen...

I realized something last night that was equal parts disturbing and reassuring... I enjoy washing dishes.

Actually, I can't say I just discovered it last night. I've known this for some time. But last night it dawned on me that the time I spend washing dishes is almost like a bit of a Zen moment for me. Yeah, I know it sounds weird, right? Washing dishes? Zen-like? Seriously?

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding the concept of Zen. But here is how I understand it (with assistance from Urban Dictionary)... it's a time of reflection and inner thought when you are able to block out outside distractions and focus on a sort of inner peace. Does that seem like a reasonable understanding of "Zen"?

Well, this seems to happen for me when I'm washing dishes. The running water (yeah, so my method isn't entirely environmentally friendly) blocks out a lot of distractions around me. I cannot hear the TV, the neighbors, not even the train that rumbles through our backyard right outside the kitchen window. I stand there making repetitive motions while cleaning the dishes that tend to calm my mind and allow my thoughts to flow freely. I think the only time this state of calm is disrupted is if I have a particularly difficult cooked-on stain to get out and I've even found ways to remain calm while dealing with that.

During this time, though, I tend to really be able to think things through. Reason out any problems I may be having. Think through my issues and come to a sort of resolution.

That is kinda Zen, right?

I don't even achieve this state of peace in yoga, to be honest. I'm still so new to yoga that my mind is too concerned with getting the positions right and that keeps me from truly finding my center, my peace. Some moves I'm comfortable enough with that I can be relatively Zen-like, but then we move on to something I'm not so comfortable with and I worry about posture and hand/foot placement and balance, etc. Stupid downward-facing dog. I still hate that damn pose.

So what about you? What weird actions bring you inner peace? Please don't say "masturbation."

One of the things I loved most about Pitchfork was all the free music. Sure, there were plenty of vendors selling albums on CD and vinyl and even, *gulp* cassette and 8-track. But so many people were there giving away either free CD samplers of music from their record labels or codes for free online downloads.

And "free" is one of my favorite words!

Sadly, though, several had codes that were needed meaning that they are one-time downloads only. But there was one that just had a URL to visit and enter your e-mail address and you can get an 18-track sampler. That one was from Absolutely Kosher/Misra Records.

So, if you're interested in 18 free indie label tracks, head on over. No, not all of it is necessarily great stuff, but I found some really good tracks on the album.

Oh, and Eric? You still have my copy of that one sampler in your bag! Help! I need my muzik!

I want to ride it where I like...

Wilkommen aus Snippet Wednesday nummer googolplex! Yep, despite how the company spells it, the real way is "googol." Looks so funny, though, doesn't it?

The BMX photo shoot that I was supposed to do last Thursday had to be rescheduled due to weather and other mitigating circumstances. Blake and I moved it to yesterday, instead. And then I almost missed it not realizing that Naperville, IL, has two skate parks and I was sitting and waiting in the parking lot of the wrong one. Go fig. But I finally got there and snapped away to the tune of 147 photos worth. I trashed 31 off the bat because they were bad and wound up uploading 98 to Flickr. I'm hoping this embeddable Flickr slideshow works better than Pictobrowser isn't, but, if not, you can check them out in the Flickr album.

I've always harbored a love of boxing, a revelation that is likely to turn my mom's stomach. And I've always wanted to take up boxing personally. Not for the purpose of fighting, but for exercise. I'm not sure you can get much more "total body workout" than that. I haven't joined a boxing gym yet, but I was pricing one near where I worked only to find out last night that it has gone out of business. Back to the point, though. Imagine my surprise when, a day or so ago, Katie tells me that she would like to try boxing as well, for fitness and stress relief. Not that I'm into the overly ripped female physique, I'm not. But something about Katie boxing is just, well... hawt.

Does that make me weird?

Just a few more days! Just a few more days! Until what? Until I meet my long-lost blog sis, SIZZLE! Ohmigod, we've been talking about meeting each other in person for years. Yeah, blows my mind to think about how long we've known each other too. But, yeah, it's been years. And I also get to meet NILSA! After oh-so-many Chicago-area meetups that she has backed out of, she's trapped! She's hosting this little shindig at her place and CANNOT ESCAPE! And there is also a chance that CITIZEN NEIL will be in attendance. There is no guarantee at this point depending on his schedule, but it could happen! As Sizzle pointed out to me, this meet-up will most certainly be worthy of its own post. Damn right!

Apparently, the brother-in-law who regularly reads this blog has inquired as to why I have not written a post about his and his lady fair's new dog. They adopted recently and, by all accounts (Katie's included), he's one adorable little booger. The problem is that I'm the admin of this blog and I have not met him yet. So, Scott, when you want a post and pictures up about the li'l guy, you let me know when your schedule opens up and you're not busy littering the earth with little white pock-marked balls.

Ball... court... yours. ;-)

And in pure LeSombre tradition, I will save the last snippet for myself for when I must make the ultimate decision between the red wire and the blue one. Or is it green? Or yellow? Shit!


Thank you, kitteh.

And I hate everything about you...

Katie and I were watching the most recent episode of The Closer last night in which the team is investigating the involvement of a couple of neo-Nazis in the shooting death of two LAPD officers. As they were interrogating the pair and executing the search warrant of the house where one of them lived, they displayed more and more evidence, both in terms of behavior and material product, of their personal venom.

Although I've wondered this before, I'm pretty sure I've never blogged it... but what has to happen to a person to become that hateful? To just take a wide-bore paintbrush and lay down a stroke that covers an entire people and say "I hate you all"?

"Hate" is an ugly and powerful word, but I cannot say I'm completely immune to it. I have hated in the past. There have been people that have pissed me off so badly or done something to me I have felt was so despicable that I developed what I can only describe as hate or utter contempt for this person. But the difference is that this feeling was targeted at a single person... the person who did wrong by me. I didn't generalize my hatred to everyone that was similar to this person either in terms of race, gender, religion, culture, upbringing, sexual preference, career choice, etc. It was just this one person that I hated and upon whom I imagined all kinds of horrible deaths, simply put.

So how do you wind up hating a whole group of people?

I know psychologists say "you live what you know," meaning that you can inherit these feelings either from your parents/guardians, friends, teachers, siblings, or anyone else who holds a level of influence over you. I believe this wholeheartedly. When you're around something enough, it can take hold in you. Even hatred.

But who made your personal influencer so hateful? Eventually, if you dig back enough generations, there has to be some traumatic event that caused it. That started the whole mad downward spiral into the pit of personal despair. You can't tell me that it dates all the way back to the dawn of mankind, regardless if you believe in evolution or creation.

I'm sorry, but this is such a foreign concept to me. I just can't wrap my brain around it.


It's hard to make the good things last...

Updated to add photo link and to remove failed Pictobrowser embed (whoops)

Suffice it to say that after seeing The Flaming Lips in concert last night at the 2009 Pitchfork Music Festival, I'm afraid that any live music experience I attend will pale in comparison. The only thing that could be better would be a longer show by The Lips.

Conclusion? The Flaming Lips = awesome. Festivals = crowded, but awesome. Pitchfork = I will be going to again, I don't care who's playing.

During the day, I Tweeted, snapped some photos, and captured a little video. Bear in mind that any photographic equipment with, as they called it, detachable lenses, was strictly forbidden. So all I had was my Blackberry. Translation? The quality isn't as good as it otherwise would be. I need to nab me one of those VIP passes next year. Those peeps all had the big cameras and I was jealous.

As for the rest of my recap, I'm going to let my evening's interactivity do the talking for me...

Photos - Apparently Pictobrowser doesn't want to work any more. Here's a teaser photo from the Flickr set:

Flaming Lips 14

Videos -

The Flaming Lips: Bubble o' Wayne from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

The Flaming Lips: Do You Realize? Finale from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Tweets - And, finally, the Tweets. Bear in mind, the correct order is from the bottom up. I could've reordered them for your convenience. But your convenience is my inconvenience and anybody who uses Twitter knows how it works and can adapt accordingly. Sheesh. ;-)


Okay, time for work. Adios!

And the spies hide out in every corner...

Oh, the PR person for the CIA is gooooood. Like real good. Like deceptively, manipulatively, strike-and-retreat-under-cover-of-night good.

Jason_bourne I saw a headline on my Yahoo homepage this morning that read "CIA was a long way from Jason Bourne" and just had to read it. I am always curious how similar real life is to the movies. It's cool to think, sometimes, that the shit we see on the big screen can really happen. And, when it comes to government-recruited-and-trained assassins, well, I wholly believe it's the truth. There are so many deaths out there attributed to natural causes or some convenient accident that are clearly the work of paid hitmen.

You don't buy it? Here's an example right off the top of my head... Billy Mays... the shillman for products like Oxy-Clean. Totally a hit. Why? He was selling a product that promised to do all your cleaning FROM ONE BOTTLE! Do you know what a product like that can do to the American economy? It's devastating! People no longer need to buy detergent, bathroom cleaner, floor cleaner, shower cleaner, sink cleaner, toilet cleaner. Oh no... it's all right there waiting for them in one container. And Billy Mays was the man popularizing it.

Still don't believe me. Well tough noogies. I totally believe it. *

And now here we have the CIA's PR rep trying to say that all kinds of clandestine missions that they were accused of being a part of were unattainable given their resources and logistical planning.

Mmm-hmmm. Right.

The article says all the right things. It admits to them wanting to do some of these things, but not being able to. It uses all the right catchwords like "deniability" to make them seem like they admit to having this negative image. And they even try to claim that other government-funded groups, such as Special Ops teams, do these sorts of things regularly.

Oh yes, they're realllllll gooood.

Now let's all open up our arms and give a hug to the new family-friendly CIA, shall we? C'mon over, we're having s'mores and singing "Kumbayah." Leon Pannetta is making hot cocoa and then we're having a J. Edgar Hoover lookalike contest. It'll be fun!

* No, kapgar is not really a conspiracy theorist. He's just in a weird place this morning. But if you don't hear from him on this blog, Facebook or Twitter for an extended period, you know who's responsible! Just sayin'!

And my insurance company rejected my doctor's referral for chiropractic treatment. No surprise there.

Instead they'd rather me constantly go in for physical therapy (which I've already done), doctor's appointments, maybe an occasional ER visit when I throw out my back after the doctor's office is closed, and repeated cycles of prescription drugs.

So, yeah, in the short term, it's potentially more expensive, but they'd save a ton in the long term.


Never coming back until I touch the midnight sun...

Welcome to Snippet Wednesday number one billy-yunnnnnn. Okay, so that's not entirely accurate.

So do you think I can lie and pretend I live in Scranton just so I can unload a bunch of my crap to the producers of The Office and hopefully see that shit appear as props on a future episode? That would be soooo cool!

I'm hoping to have some pretty good photos later this week. A local park district decided to reserve a couple days of the week for BMX riders and I am friends with the guy who was behind the request. So he's gonna make sure that a bunch of guys are out there tomorrow, weather dependent, so I can snap some shots of them in action. That could be serious fun!

I didn't even know Martha Plimpton was still alive let alone still acting and now she's going to be a regular on Grey's Anatomy? The last thing I saw her in was Pecker with Edward Furlong (don't ask).

It's weird. I don't guest post for the longest time. Then I receive an invitation from one person... and then another... and another... until I have three gigs all within a couple weeks of each other. Guess whose blog is gonna be rather neglected during that time? Anyone want to fill in here for me? But I will have fun during these posts. I actually already have one written for It's Me Penelope. It's one that will guarantee she never asks me to guest post again! Muahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! ha.

Holy crap! Not only is Tupac alive, but he's... purse snatching?

And in pure LeSombre tradition, I will save the last snippet for myself for when all the rest of my hair falls out save for two strands. Then I can groom it and be stylin' like Homer Simpson!


The ice is getting thinner...

I'll tell you one thing I don't like... starting your day with an appointment at the doctor's office.

Seriously, who in the hell schedules an appointment at 7 a.m.? Oh yeah, me. Because my doctor's office doesn't like evening or weekend hours. Bastards. So I dragged my ass out of bed this morning and nearly stumbled in the shower (at least I made it past the bed without falling). I gotta do something about that. I also ate breakfast, got dressed, read some blog posts, left some comments, loaded some new podcasts on the iPod, etc. (not necessarily in that order) and left.

I'm not a big fan of the doctor's office. No, they don't frighten me or anything. I don't get severely panicky like some people do. I'm just one of those people that doesn't believe in wasting either a doctor's or my own time with "little things." A cough or cold? Allergy med refill? Sore muscles? Cramps? Bad headaches? Phone them in for a prescription, don't drop by. What's the point? That's just how I operate. I hate how much work it takes to schedule and how long you sometimes have to wait for an appointment. By the time you go in there, any problem you had is gone.

But now, with my back bugging me a little and being in my mid-30s, maybe I should go in. Get those regular physicals. All that jazz.

So I went in and, as one would expect, the first thing they do is weigh me. The dreaded scale, which gets followed up by the dreaded sphygmomanometer (blood pressure machiney). This is the one time I do get a little tense. I hate being weighed. I hate the reality of having those high numbers come crashing down on me. That, of course, results in a higher-than-usual blood pressure reading. A double whammy.

But, holy hell, neither turned out so bad. Since my last doctor's visit last February, I'm down 23 pounds and I only really started working on that in the winter. And my blood pressure, despite my scale anxiety, was actually within range. The doctor was impressed. I was impressed. Katie was impressed. The Gods on high were impressed (I know because the drive to work was actually quite clear and it's a pretty nice day out and all these seem to be rarities in Chicago this July).

Hmmm, maybe the doctor's office isn't so bad after all.

Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday, dear Spongebob.
Happy birthday to you!


Why did I think he'd been around longer than just 10 years?

Here we go round, round, round...

Balance... coordination... a Jedi needs not such things.

A regular human being, on the other hand...

You pretty much know not to expect much out of the day when, immediately after getting out of bed, you catch yourself from falling flat on your ass not just once, but twice. And I hadn't even taken a step yet.

Imagine my terror at the realization that I had to shave this morning. Yes, I made it through without incident, but don't ask me how. I barely remember doing it.

Golf_ball In instances such as today, shouldn't mulligans be allowed? I know I don't play golf, but I understand the concept of a mulligan and I like it. It's a great idea that needs to be applied to life as a whole. And I'd love to take one today. My schedule of appointments at work is pretty light.

So to whom would I need to appeal to just declare today a bust and claim a mulligan?

And how many mulligans do you get in life? 1? 2? 3? Do we get one on life's "front nine" and another on the "back nine"? Oh how I pray today's would be from the front nine of my life. I'd hate to think I've transitioned to the back nine this early.

You know your blogging is bad when your wife looks at you, as mine did last night, and says, "you haven't even blogged since last Wednesday" and truly seems disappointed by this fact.

Yeah, that's bad.

Easy as 1-2-3...

Hey everyone. Hope you're having a very happy 7/8/9 Snippet Wednesday. Don't forget to make it an ├╝ber-celebration by going hog wild for a whole second at 12:34:56 p.m., too!

I was driving behind a little PoS car this morning when I noticed an odd license plate. It said "TWI HARD." I wasn't quite sure how to take it until I read the license plate frame that declared "My heart belongs to Edward" and was accompanied with a litany of bumper stickers in the rear window including "I like my men cold, dead and sparkly" and "My other car is a shiny, silver Volvo" (Edward's car), among others. Yeah... obsessed much? I've got one thing to say to that and I'm going to let the Count from Sesame Street do it for me...


Also on the way to work, I was driving up a hill when I saw a can in the road up ahead of me rolling uphill. Yes, uphill. That had to be some strong wind. Not that Illinois is full of mighty hills by any stretch of the imagination. Heck, I live in an area where "mountainous" is used to describe any natural formation that is greater than 100 feet above sea level. Ah, scenic northeastern Illinois!

Did I mention that Tales From Redesignland has returned? Oh happy day!

A couple weeks back, my Pitchfork buddy Eric introduced me to a French alt/electronic band called Phoenix by way of the video for their song "1901." I was hooked. So I purchased the "1901" single... only to receive a copy of it free the next day as part of a Facebook indie rock sampler. Go fig, eh? There's something to be said for patience.

Tweetdeck supports multiple accounts simultaneously now??? Oh, this is dangerous. Seriously dangerous.

And in pure LeSombre tradition, I will save the final Snippet for myself in anticipation of the day when the apocalypse will be determined by a game of Rock-Scissors-Paper (and I hope the other guy picks "paper").


They got me; public enemy number one...

Did you know that there are professionals out there in the world tasked with causing you pain? Seriously. You willingly go in there, contort yourself in all kinds of wild positions while partially disrobed, have someone climb all over you, and then lay there and grunt as they just jack your body in all kinds of directions and do things that your body wouldn't normally do. Oh, and did I mention that the first time you go in there, they take semi-naked pictures of you??

And we pay them to do this to us!

I'm in shock. I really am.

What's worse is that Katie and I have signed up to go along with this.

What's even worse than that is that Katie and I enjoy it and feel great afterward and want even more!

Oh, we're such dirty birdies.

I never thought I would ever go along with such physical abuse. It's unnatural. It's cruel and unusual. And I would think the Geneva Convention has some regulation against it. But alas, they seem to have circumvented the rules and get away with these barbaric practices on a daily basis.

It's inhumane!

Freakin' chiropractors.

(I guess it does soften the blow a bit knowing that the physical therapist there looks like a pre-arrest Yasmine Bleeth)

[NO SPOILERS, I SWEAR] Don't you hate when a movie lets you down? Especially one you were looking forward to seeing? That was the case with me and the newly released Public Enemies. Katie and I saw it with my parents on Sunday and I was thoroughly disappointed.

PUBLIC-ENEMIES-POSTER-2 A disjointed and difficult-to-follow timeline of events, odd camerawork (they used digital cameras when traditional film would have worked out so much better for a period piece such as this), uninspired action sequences, a bad script, and completely unsympathetic and wholly unenjoyable characters on the part of everyone involved... yeah, this movie had it all in spades.

That last part is what I don't get the most about this film. Director Michael Mann is known for making his characters, even the worst of them, somewhat sympathetic. In Collateral, even though we're supposed to like Jamie Foxx's put-upon cab driver, I also really enjoyed Tom Cruise's dark assassin. In Heat (one of the most brilliant cops-n-robbers flicks EVER), I couldn't tell you if I liked Al Pacino's cop or Robert DeNiro's robber more because they were both fantastic and well written and brilliantly performed. That diner confrontation between the two remains one of the greatest pieces of filmed dialogue ever, IMHO.

Then comes Public Enemies with the supposed good guy being BI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) who is tasked with bringing in public enemy numero uno John Dillinger (Johnny Depp). With a story such as this, it would be easy to show either of them as the good guy or the bad guy based on their actions and intentions. Dillinger is bad because he robs banks and shoots people, but he's got that Robin Hood quality in that he never takes money from the people struggling their way through the Great Depression, just the bank's money. Oh, and he's brutally loyal to the people who remain loyal to him. Purvis is good because he's trying to do the right thing by fighting crime in a lawless era, but he could also be just the opposite because he and his team use all kinds of questionable methods to achieve their end result.

What would make us as viewers waffle in our perception of each character would be their backstory or some key bit of information about their lives that we could take to heart to make them either loved or loathed.

And Mann gave us none of that. Both characters were just plain boring. We got little story on them whatsoever. We were just inserted into the middle of the action as it played out (much was the same, in my opinion, of Mann's Ali; although the fantastic acting by Will Smith saved it somewhat for me). And that made this movie no fun for me at all. I really just wanted it to end.

I would ask for my money back on the ticket, but my dad paid for it. Oh well.

Gave proof through the night...

Katie and I hope you all had a great Fourth of July (whether you observe the U.S. Independence Day or not). We had fun with Katie's brother and his girlfriend at the fireworks in St. Charles, IL. We were going to head up to the Wisconsin Dells, but the weather kinda battered down that plan. So we stuck around here and just did our normal thing. And we loved every second of it.

If you weren't able to see any fireworks of your own, here are a couple videos I captured on my Blackberry for you to enjoy. Surprisingly good quality for a phone-based video camera. I was impressed.

Pyrotechnic Uber Fun from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Pyrotechnic Uber Fun, Finale from Kevin Apgar on Vimeo.

Oh say can you see...

I'm having a lot of trouble wrapping my brain around the idea that not only is tomorrow the U.S. Independence Day, but that we're already halfway through 2009. Just another half to go before we're making contact with the alien races according to bad Roy Scheider sci-fi films.

But the problem is that since the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, a lot of employers are not sure just how to deal with giving days off to employees. I am off work today, the day before the holiday, since I'm an 8-5, Monday thru Friday office rat. Katie, who for now only works Monday thru Friday, but for an employer who is open seven days a week, won't see a day off. Her day off would be tomorrow, but since she doesn't work Saturdays, she gets nada. That sucks. So I'm here at home typing to all of you while she toils away at work.

What to do... what to do...

Wake-up? Check.

Check e-mail? Check.

Catch up on Google Reader? Three-quarters of a check.

Shower? (sniff) Nowhere near a check. Yet. I promise I'll get to work on this one, not just for your sake but my own as well.

I think I might also check out my neighbor's garage sale that started up this morning. I saw him out placing signs last night and, as much as I used to love garage saling (can that actually be a verb?) with my mom as a kid, I haven't been to one in years. And I'm told, with the economy in the shithole state it's in, garage sales are totally en vogue. Maybe I should join the hipness and go a salin'.

Do you all garage sale at all? Any cool finds? My curiosity is piqued.

But first, I will shower, and I will download my free Star Spangled Banner from Amazon's MP3 store. Yep, you read right. In honor of the holiday, the Amazon MP3 store is giving away one free copy of any version of "The Star Spangled Banner" that they have in stock. Just click on the link above and follow the instructions. There are a ton to choose from. Once I hit number 400 in my browsing, I gave up looking. I had no idea that song had been recorded so many times.

Burnsbaseball And, shockingly, as much as I thought I'd go for, say, Jimi Hendrix's classic rendition or one from KISS's Alive performances (Ace was on fi-yah playing that one), I instead nabbed one by Branford Marsalis and Bruce Hornsby that was recorded for Ken Burns' Baseball documentary series. This recording really takes me back to my documentary filmmaking days (well, not that I made one on my own, but I was part of a team that made one in grad school). Not to say I'm a huge Ken Burns fan, but the use of music in Baseball was so fantastic and so memorable that it's pretty akin to how Quentin Tarantino chooses music in his movies. Anytime you hear the song afterward, all you can think of is the scene from the movie where it was featured. Just try to tell me you can listen to "Stuck in the Middle with You" by Stealers Wheel and resist the urge to lean over and nibble on your neighbor's ear.

Yeah, okay, anyway. So head over there and nab your favorite version now. Offer ends July 6.

Nuh uh. No way. Not a chance in Heaven or Hell.

Well, maybe I would. But I would have to do some severe steeling up of my gut first. Holy Christ a mighty! Welcome to the new Sky Deck on the outside of Chicago's Sears Tower (fuck Willis Group Holdings).

Stupid SkyDeckChicago Flickr group didn't enable the Flickr photo sharing option, so I did it myself! But I still followed all their linkback rules. So ha!

Update: I did find some cool swag at the garage sale! Checky check!

But I won't heed the battle call...

Yeah, it's been nearly a week. I go on tears anymore... several days on and several days off. Oh well. At least I'm back in time to celebrate Snippet Wednesday. Wouldn't want to miss that.

In the class Katie is taking right now, they have a project where they are supposed to analyze a movie that is appropriate for teenagers. I'm not sure entirely what the analysis entails, but it's a project I'm more than willing to help with simply because it involves, well, movies. Last night, one of her fellow students presented on the movie she had watched. It was Grease. During the presentation, you are supposed to show a scene or two from the film that supports your analysis. Katie has never seen Grease and never wanted to. Last night, she walked away from having watched one of the musical numbers and said stuff to me like, "this is one of women's favorite movies? Why?" and "are we all sure John Travolta's not gay?"

I love my wife. And her disdain for this movie is the primary reason why I'm willing to forgive her for not having seen Star Wars. If she was one of those women that watched Grease repeatedly and dragged me into it, I guarantee she'd have every line from the holy trilogy memorized by now.

I've decided something... running outside sucks. I don't know why, but I just can't breathe outside. Maybe it's the allergen factor or something, but everything just closes up and I can barely run about 20% the distance that I do on a treadmill at the gym. I am actually able to run five miles on a treadmill and, yet, I think my max-out distance before I feel like keeling over and dying outside is a mere 1.1 miles. I can understand the uneven terrain and inability to control your speed will have an effect, but that freakin' much??? Yeah I see no races in my future unless they start the world's first treadmill-based virtual race. Now that would be cool.

Laces However, despite my disdain for outdoor running, I must say that I do absolutely love my new running shoes. I went to an actual running store, Naperville Running Company, and got a pair of New Balance 769s. I never realized how lightweight shoes could be. And the heels are like running on pillows. But even cooler than the weight and the cushioning are the laces. Yes, laces. I love these damn things (see right; I have the silver and blue version of those shoes). Instead of being the regular or even the barrel laces that are so common on athletic shoes, these ones kinda pill out so they look like a fabric version of a dogtag chain. The purpose is to keep the laces secure without double knotting them. And they work! New Balance apparently holds the patent on this style of lace and don't sell them in stores separate of the shoes, but I have a pair and I love them. Simply because I hate double knotting shoes and sitting there forever trying to unlace them.

Holy crap! I actually finished a book that wasn't either a Twilight novel or a graphic novel! Last night, I finished Dennis Lehane's fantastic historical novel The Given Day and this is probably one of my first completed books in nearly a year if not longer. My reading has been pathetic as of late. I just can't motivate myself to do it so finally tearing through this 700-page beast felt good. Sure, I was struggling at first even with this book, and, all told, it took me a couple months to finish. But the final 450-500 pages were just in the last couple weeks. So that's a marked improvement. Now I just have to write the review over on Goodreads. Next is Jhumpa Lahiri's Unaccustomed Earth. Bought this one a little more than a month ago and I'm finally going to read it. I love Jhumpa Lahiri.

I did take some photos from this past weekend's Swedish Days festival in Geneva. And, despite being such a beautiful day, it got a little wicked that night, so I also have some photos from the looming storm. Enjoy.

As always, you can hit up the photo albums over on Flickr as well - Swedish Days 2009 and Under a Blood Red Sky.