Saturday, December 30, 2006

Well, We Survived

Since I last posted, Darth Gudrun came and left, and Liz realized I was kinda kidding when I called her that. All in all things went well, and we took in quite the haul from Santa Clause, who seemed to find Liz in Ohio. Early gifts to ourselves, which included our Xbox 360 and our little kitty, who has proven to be quite the furry bully have proven quite nice, and recently we managed to score a Bosch dishwasher, which is a huge upgrade over none at all. It did provide a suitable challenge for our wits and even our brawn, but that's over with. Really it's been a great week.

Liz discovered the game of rummy; my folks discovered two lovable beasts; two lovable beasts went on lots of walks; and everyone played nice. I hope everyone has a wonderful new year, and Go Gators!!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's that time of year--damnit!!!

So it's Christmas in Ohio--yeah me. This will be my 2nd Christmases here in Ohio, and I've done a pretty good job of picking the best years to be gone (that 2004 week without power sucked royally, well it sucked for those who were here). This year has the added stress of the impending arrival or Darth Gudrun, my Sith German, mom. The weeks of planning have descended into a frantic week of buying gifts, cleaning house, and getting everything that would be needed to avoid this being a disappointment for her. Adding to the event is that this will be the first time Liz has met her. Oh, I'm also busy loading my dad's new PC for him (well my mom, as it will be her gift to him). He has never used a PC, so it will be a challenge.

Anyway, I've managed to flick numerous people off, curse many more, and stare down a few, and they all deserved far worse (I couldn't afford the missile launcher option on my Mazda), oh and I've found myself grabbing shopping carts, purely for there potential use as weapons if shopping gets outta hand. Speaking of which, I decided to put off buying the standing rib roast until today. Bad move. I've pretty much decided to get all my meat at a local Italian market/butcher shop, which is a relic to a bygone era, and their meats are amazing. I really can't go back to supermarket meat, and their prices make it hard to do so as well. Well, I get there right after they open at 10am, and their lot is full, neighboring office lots is full, and the roadway is littered with cars parked on the right of way--oh shit. I decide that I really don't have a choice, and suck it up and go in. I grab a number, a pink one labeled 98. Ok, so I check the board to see what the current # was, 19. Fuck. Now if you're gonna brave the madness just to get your number, you're likely gonna stick it out, and you're gonna buy a shitload of meat. Oh, and everyone there is an Italian housewife or a grandma. They all have carts, and they mean business. Knowing that I can't wait it out and hold on to my sanity, I decide to take my number and run.

I run home; I do laundry; I go to Weilands (another local market) to check out their meat and buy some booze for Darth; I got to Giant Eagle and spend 30 minutes and $30 there; then I returned. 84. Not too bad, but I still had to wait, elbow to elbow with a lot of blue hair in my grill. As I wait, I see they are giving out yellow numbers, not too surprising as the pink ones were almost done when I grabbed mine, but then I realized that most people had blue numbers. The new #s were over 100 back in line from what was being called--shit, it sucked to be them. Before long I ordered my meat, and braved the line to checkout, which too 45 minutes or so.

Well, back to cleaning. Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yeah, I'm a hater

I usually want the best for everyone, and don't spend too much energy wishing ill upon others, but I've had it. I don't want that fucking bitch to get the goddamned hippo! It's not he overwhelming impracticality, as I've been known to see past those issues when it comes to animals, nor is it the likelihood that a hippo would rather go about being a hippo, though I suppose most hippos don't dream of being Christmas gifts--no it's purely because I hate that fucking song. If grandma got ran over by a reindeer, why can't that brat get sat on by a hippo. There's no surviving that.

What's odd is that up until recently I was immune to this plague, and now I'm all to aware. This is worse than the bird flu, far worse. I'm no expert, but folks living among nasty ass birds should get sick. Who would expect anything else, but this hippo song is a plague upon a far wider and seemingly more innocent populous. I first heard about it from Liz, and even then I didn't know the extent of the annoyingness--mostly from my complete ignorance despite my being well versed in Christmas songs. Now I'm plagues by it, and I don't know how much longer I have--I don't know how much more time we have.

It's maddening!

Monday, December 18, 2006

All Hail the King

As you likely know, I was a history major in college, and it remains an avid interest of mine (as opposed to political science which I also majored in and thoroughly hated), but I never really had much of an interest in American history. For all of its niceties, democracy and all that will of the people crap really is lame. It all but eliminates opportunities for real whack jobs and remarkable characters (I know most folks are wondering how our current situation doesn't qualify, but all in all it's still tame by real autocrat standards, and it has become too sad to laugh at). Anyway, kings (and queens), emperors (and empresses), Czars (I bet you didn't think I could spell czarina), and various princes, dukes, and misc monarch makes studying history amusing and fulfilling. So where am I going with this, well not anywhere I can tell.

A hunka hunka tacky lamp
A hunka hunka tacky lamp
So where was I? Well with all due respect to that creepy Burger King, the king of beers, and the Dairy Queen (who's attempts to annex the kingdom of burgers has been an udder failure--bad pun, but worse food), there is one king in American culture: Elvis. Yeah, he's not much of a musician, and he totally stole his whole gig from lesser known African American artists, but he's an unmistakable cultural icon and national treasure--kinda like Kylie Minogue is for Australia and Lars Ulrich is for Denmark. So why this sudden fondness for Elvis? Well, I'm not a fan, never was, and I doubt I will be, but this story has a point, well a general direction ...

His wonky facial expression is why some have called him 'Downs Elvis'
His wonky facial expression is why some have called him 'Downs Elvis'
Last Friday we had our late fall gift exchange event (gotta be PC) at work, which involved a 'white elephant' exchange. In a nutshell (for all you Buckeye fans), one brings in crap from home, and draws a number. #1 goes first, unwraps someone else's crap, and pouts. #2 can take the shit #1 would otherwise be stuck with or take a chance that they will get something even worse through unwrapping another persons garbage. If #2 (or any subsequent person) takes #1's gift, then #1 gets the same options as if it were his turn (including stealing someone else's unwrapped rubbish). So ... I went 13th, and I brought in some crap from the basement (sweetened in part with lotto tickets), and I opted to steal a gift card (for Starbucks) unwrapped by someone else. #20 (the last person) stole my gift card, so I went ahead and stole #1's Elvis lamp.

Let me tell you, it's big, gaudy, and an antique. I'd say 95% of the people on earth would describe it as hideous, and it may have ended a few marriages, but I think it's got some charm. More importantly, I knew it had to be worth more than the $10 average of these gifts. Sure enough, when the exchange was complete, I was presented with a printed eBay screenshot with a similar lamp selling for $225 (plus $25 S&H)! For now he's keeping the guest bedroom looking retro. See, I told you this was going somewhere.

Friday, December 15, 2006

May the force be with me

Remember in the beginning of The Return of the Jedi, when Darth Vader is checking out the 2nd Death Star's construction, and folks are more than a little intimidated and eager to please him while he's there for an inspection, and he scares the shit out of everyone when he says the emperor is coming soon. Well my mom is coming to visit.

I'm the black sheep of the family, which is odd as I'm rather white and I'm not a sheep (though my fur is getting rather woolly), due to my less than cleanliness. I'm no slob--nothing real gross here, just a bit of clutter and a good cleaning needed, but Liz has noticed that I'm a bit on edge. She's never met my mom, and I'm not too worried about that, but I would like to make sure everything goes alright, as well the Death Star blew up, and I just don't want to have to move.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Where are my monkeys?

You know those Career Builder ads with the dude and his monkey coworkers? I wish I could have his coworkers. That would be a step up.

Such an improvement over my current comrades

What's this world coming to?

I know things were getting weird when my cats each had Myspace profiles (I suppose they get bored during the day), now I see that our X-box 360 has started to blog!

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, as my neutered cats get emailed offers for Viagra. I think they need more help than the little blue pill can offer.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cruisin' with the Po-Po

I sit here groggy, tired, sore, and wondering what exactly led to me riding in a cop car last night. While I've watched more than my fair share of COPS, I can honestly say it's a bit different when you're riding in the car--mostly the smell, with a bouquet of puke, piss, and other fluids masked by an overwhelming fragrance of industrial sanitizer--basically like bowling alley shoes, only worse.

So how did I end up smelling these unique odors and enjoying the real life COPS experience? Well fear not it didn't start with a crack pipe and a wife beater. It all started innocently enough with a car ride to Cincinnati to visit Liz's friend, who was there on business travel. We got there early and discovered how the elite live and travel, and decided upon a nearby place to dine. We walked there only to discover that the Thai place we decided upon was no longer open, so we sauntered about to another Asian place, then another. All closed. Determined to keep going, her friend decided to ask the on the spot food critic: the fuzz.

I suppose it was a sound idea, but a tad unconventional--the kind of thinking I usually exhibit. He pulled his cruiser over and asked what kind of food we were looking for and processed the query. After a few results sputtered out, he thought of a Chinese place his Asian friend ate at. He then offered to give us a ride there. How could we refuse? So next thing you know, he's opening the back doors, the ladies slide in and I somehow got shotgun (though ironically enough there was no shotgun in the front seat, which was rather common in Florida). I suppose I haven't watched enough COPS, as I looked around for a while for the seat belt, which was no where to be found--five-0 gotta get in and out quickly. As we cruised around, we were like animals in a zoo exhibit, as everyone glanced in, often practically sticking their heads in, Not wanting to disappoint us further the cop called his Asian friend to see if the place would be open at that 'late' hour (like 8pm), and his friend seemed shocked that he would be riding around with strangers. Making our experience complete, he pulled up to a red light and asked if we wanted to run a red light; he then proceeded to do so and asked if we get pissed when cops do that. Before long our trip was over, but the journey continued ...

We got to the place, which was the cliche Chinese place with lots of red and green, a few terracotta soldiers, and the ubiquitous dragons. We sat down, and before long our conversations scared the family sitting nearby into a hasty exit, and we were greeted with a remarkably entertaining waiter, who warned us of what not to eat, advised us on the best values, and humored our general playfulness. The food was good, but the amusing interactions kept making sure we 'enjoys' everything.

After that we walked back to the hotel, sadly no ride in the police car, but we did see a bunch of blue lights while we were walking past the Hustler store. We walked over to see if our buddy was there, but alas we didn't see him. All in all it was the best experience I've had with the the law. It also was cool meeting Liz's cool friend. I wonder what kind of adventures we'll go on when our paths cross again.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A New Edition!

Sometimes when a girl and a guy love one another as much as Liz and I do, some unexpected things may happen. These additions are blessings, even if they're not what one plans. We tried to be careful, and we took lots of precautions. Apparently we took one risk too many, and somehow a new boy named Leo(pold) has joined our family. We love him, as we do all of our kids, and we're very excited about everything he'll add to our family. He's everything we both were looking for, and he loves us both. Welcome to the family!

Friday, December 01, 2006

No Messin Wit Da 614

I've been home ill the past few days, with an added touch of foot pain likely induced by being stepped upon by the enormous puppy. In my boredom, I've watched a few movies (including some that I knew would suck, thus enhancing the potential for sleep--didn't work) and surfed the net a bit. In my travels, I read up on some underground DVDs (well I guess that cats out of the bag) containing fights from 'the 614'. Wanting to see if these videos are just lame (think Vanilla Ice on Celebrity Boxing), amusing (think bum fights), or hardcore (don't think I've really seen that yet), I check them out via YouTube.

The first clip is rather subdued, even boring (don't think I'll want to front that I represent the 614 after that):

The second has a cool sound track (representing the 614) and is a bit more chaotic and violent (probably just a tad worse than COPs):

The last one has a good ole fashioned cat fight:

All in all, more disappointing than amusing. I guess we always OSU riot footage:

Oh, btw, there is an webpage. Perhaps it's reach problematic status when people start buying URLs.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I suppose everyone is looking for nirvana in one way or another (perhaps with the exception of Courtney Love who is content with Nirvana's money)--we even watched a film that may have been about that (not exactly sure what it was trying to accomplish). Anyway, recently I've noticed people who seemed to have reached the lofty state. Who are these people? Monks, philanthropists, pimps? None of the above. No the folks who seem oddly content and satisfied with this world (besides the mentally retarded--my cat included) are Blockbuster employees. Recently I've become quite the (ab)user of Blockbuster Online and their cool provision for returning discs to the store for more rentals, and I've interacted quite a bit (usually unwillingly) with the dudes who work there, and they're always so happy, content, outgoing, and more than anything--weird. I try to play nice, but perhaps I'm just not on their plane of existence.

So now I confront the issue confronting me: what about working there has them so happy, and how can I get there myself. Well first off working there is simply impossible, as I tend to enjoy the fruits of a decent job, and Liz likely doesn't want to be with a video store clerk. Perhaps there is a component of their existence I can replicate in a more financially rewarding job. It can't be free movies, as even if it were a benefit, we're hemorrhaging with movies and TV shows on DVD. Sometimes my biggest chore for the day is to keep pace with the influx of discs. It can't be the people who shop there, as I tend to feel the urge to vomit more often than smile when amongst the huddled masses that infiltrate the store. The work environment is laid back, but without internet access, I'd be paralyzed. Sadly they can't even decide which DVDs are playing on the TVs. So all I'm left with is the complete lack of responsibility.

I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise, as American Beauty seemed to hit that point, and I suppose Fight Club too (I did mention that I watch a lot of movies). Care free freeloaders, such as K-Fed, Paris Hilton, and perhaps the most freeloading freeloader--Kato Kaelin (I wonder if he's helping OJ find the real killer?) all seem happy as well. Maybe I'm just wired differently, as I kinda like responsibility, and I tend to waste away when there's nothing to do--unless I have a movie to watch. I suppose being trapped surrounded by movies but not being able to watch them (or at least choose what's on) is hell--movies movies everywhere but not a one to watch! Nirvana my ass, it must be hell. They must simply be stoners, retards (subtle distinction at times), or alien spies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Unleashing the Beast

Stuart is our little dog.  His bark is worse than his bite (but not his breath)
'Kuma trying to look serious--or just about ready to burb and/or fart.
This morning, while I was cheering our big baby on to completing breakfast, which can be a chore when eight cups on food is the norm, I was watching how they scare away bears with dogs. As a kid I watched Grizzley Adams, which was somewhat tainted when I saw him on Cathouse--anyway, I always marveled how he controlled the big beast. Now I wonder how I control the big beast, as even bears are afraid of dogs, and our boy is quite big. He may be the youngest (or perhaps the 2nd youngest) member of the family, but he's 85x the mass of the eldest. This all has been put to the test lately, as we've tried taking the boys out for a little exercise, so that grandma and grandpa can walk their grandpups when they comes to visit.

Stuart is our little dog.  His bark is worse than his bite (but not his breath)
Stuart is our little dog. His bark is worse than his bite (but not his breath)
Let's just say it's easier said than done. Being that I'm enormous myself, I kinda inherited the big boy (a St Bernard btw), while Liz, being a petite gal, gets the petite pup (no easy chore being a snooty basset hound). It all went well, save for a yelping dog who the gentle giant may have stepped on (the dog may have just shit himself when he realized how big 'Kuma is up close), then again I yelp when I can't get my feet out of the way of his mammoth paws. I suppose the big bubba is more of a suitable fit for me than my little yorkie I used to walk around campus in Gainesville.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Our Recent Dining Encounters

Unlike most folks who gorge on Thanksgiving and feast on the leftovers thereafter, we had a relatively modest meal with no real leftovers. So how better to balance things off than a weekend of buffets? I sure can't think of anything. Saturday seemed like a great day for the wonders of the Super Seafood Buffet, as Liz was thinking Chinese, and I was thinking of crab legs (I tend to do that often). While the buffet isn't quite as nice looking as the web site (which is oddly slick for what seems to be a family owned restaurant), the selection is very diverse (including real sushi, a Mongolian BBQ no one seems to ever want to take advantage of--I certainly don't wish to be the first, and the aforementioned crab legs). I'm glad they appear to have removed the chicken feat, which tend to make my taste buds sour a bit. Anyway, we got there, were greeted like anxiously awaited VIPs, and began our meal. I loaded up on the first of four plates of crab legs, and I was as happy as a clam (well happier than the clams on the buffet!). After a while I half expected to be approached by ownership with a buy-out offer to get me to leave the crab legs alone, but I started to notice how bad the Muzak was. It was heinous (think instrumental Richard Marx and Jackson 5 numbers), and Liz and I determined that it must have been a form of encouragement to leave, and it worked.

This isn't unprecedented, as I recall Disney World playing a non-stop ever changing rendition of 'It's a Small World' complete with transitions to Hip-Hop, Jazz, Ragtime, and Rae-Gae versions of the annoying diddy. It's far worse than it sounds, and I'm sure there are subliminal messages to buy shit and get the fuck out.

Back to our fine dining encounters, we made a visit to the gourmet pizza shop, also known as Cicis. They not only make a selection of original creations (such as mac n' cheese pizza), they offer it all for $5.75 with all you can drink fountain drinks. Due to some somewhat undesirable types of folks that frequent the establishment, we tend to visit only one location that has proven to be relatively trash-free, but this has led us to become regulars of a sort at this locale. Upon our last visit, one of the employees, who we call Dante (he once proclaimed that he wasn't even supposed to be working that day--and he looks a bit like Brian O'Halloran as well), started to call us out and recall that I always ask for a mac n' cheese pizza, which I don't enjoy, but Liz loves it (kinda odd for a grown up who's not a stoner). He was there again for our most recent encounter, and sure enough he was all buddy-buddy with us. I've learned to be more people friendly, but I'm kinda weirded out by complete strangers who I run into multiple times acting like they know me. I do feel bad, as I kinda imagine he has no real friends, and his mom likely doesn't even talk to him much, as he refuses to move out. I'm hoping he doesn't spring a request that I be his best man or something on me--then again, he doesn't strike me as being the ideal catch for the ladies. Anyway, between Cici's, the Dollar Theater, and a trip to Wal Mart (topped by an evening of COPS), we had the ultimate white trash date. I'm such a good boyfriend.

Friday, November 17, 2006

It's almost over

After a year of what could tamely be described as hype and perhaps more accurately hysteria, the end is near--for this year. Once every year representatives of the fine institution up in Ann Arbor play the hoodlums from Columbus in a football game, and the hooligans who idolize the process and invest their lives and sanity into the silly rivalry allow the irrational enthusiasm to reach a crescendo--typically leading to fires, flipped cars, pepper spray, rubber bullets--you know the usual riot stuff. Time to make sure the insurance is paid up, the fire extinguishers are full, and I need to see if I can borrow Maurice's kevlar outfit. Weeks of incessant murmuring, boisterous remarks, and blinding amounts of red are converging upon tomorrow, with quite a bit of turmoil today, mostly in the form of nausea inducing potlucks (my office reeks of sour kraut). What's sad is that it's all so devoid of pageantry or anything truly positive. It makes me miss the simplicity of the hokey homecoming parade of Gainesville (local schools close--as do many businesses) along with the mediocre comedy of the always over hyped Gator Growl.

I hope we make it through this weekend--if this is my last blog, adieu.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I'm Not Really White Trash

Lately I have been reacquainting myself with my white trash roots, and nothing exemplifies that more than watching COPS and WWE wrestling. COPS is especially nostalgic, as many locals I've frequented or had occasion to travel through are subjects of the fine show (worry not, I never was a crack head or tweaker). I've watched enough COPs lately that I can tell what city they're in without reading obvious clues (such as decals on the side of police cars or badges). I've learned how to make crystal meth, how to shop lift, and how cheap a ho really can be. I've had many meals that cost less than a romp in the bushes with some of those nasty girls, and by the looks of some of the men, I'd want much more money just to spend 5 minutes in their presence, let alone--eeeeeewwwweee. WWE is somewhat less nostalgic, as many familiar faces are older, fatter, and less entertaining. Rowdy Roddy Piper looks bad, the undertaker looks older than my now retired dad, and Ric Flair looks absolutely horrible. He's aged more in the past two years than Charo has in the past twenty--ney forty years. I don't recall wrestlers wearing french maid outfits (complete with tiger print g-string), and I'm not talking about a chic! Totally unnecessary. Oh, the Boogeyman is a sigh to behold--homeboy runs out with live worms in his mouth. He wrestles quickly to avoid chocking on them, then spits them out on his opponents upon defeating them. He carries a few extra in his cargo pants, just in case he wants to go fishing afterwards. The Flava-Flav clock he smashes on his head is cool though. Eddy Guerrero has been replaced with his wife, who looks worse than he would in drag (well while he was still alive at least). At least she continues his tradition of sporting a mullet. Only in WWE and the NHL does the mullet thrive. I blame Canada, the homeland for white trash. All this talk of white trash makes me want some Waffle House---mmmmm yum!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Who's Watching Us?

For those of you in the dark, I love to eat. It's fitting, as I also love to cook, and I have the pleasure of enjoying all of the wonderful cooking that Liz has to offer as well, but every once in a while we venture out to let someone else do the cooking. Yesterday was such a day. Armed with a coupon and an appetite, we ventured for breakfast at Scramblers, an establishment that fancies itself as a breakfast bistro, and they tend to deliver on one's expectations. The wait was modest, affording a modest people watching opportunity, which makes the journey that much more worthwhile. When we were sat, we were surprised to see a couple crowded in a table adjacent to us with newspaper and coupons sprawled out upon the table, discussing the weeks deals and the various deals in front of them. They obviously were a couple, likewise apparently cohabitating, but they seemed to know very little of what each other liked, which would have been the most surprising aspect of the situation, were it not for the fact that it occurred in a pact establishment with a wait for tables. A truly bizarre situation. Dinner also was rewarding, as the wonders of loads of sausage and other German fare are hard to resist (well, being the lousy German I am, I can easily resist sour kraut), but all I can remember was seeing Liberace reincarnated, complete with a silvery reflective shirt--more than mere sequins, rather nickel sized bits of reflective plastic.

So the question is, who's watching us? I enjoy people watching, but I'm not so sure about being watched.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


It is finally election day, and I couldn't be happier (well if it weren't raining, the old farts knew how to operate the voting machines and there were likable candidates, I could be happier). I've grown tired of hokey signs littering the landscape (shouldn't they subtract the # of signs remaining on the roadside the day after election day from official vote totals? Wouldn't that be interesting? I've also grown sore from lugging reams of junk mail, typically duplicated for my girlfriend (isn't there a candidate smart enough to run a filter on their database for duplicates? are candidates that well funded that they could care less?). Perhaps most annoying are the ridiculous attack ads, often focusing on bizarre connections, peripheral issues, or things that happened decades ago. I don't know about you, but if the worst thing you can say about a candidate is that someone who supports them is wacko or they once voted for something silly 20 years ago, I'm kinda inclined to think there not that bad. Lastly, and perhaps most annoying, is the return of deceptively worded and far to easy to pass constitutional amendments. The whole point of adopting a constitution, a higher law, is to protect the minority (those in the majority do have an odd tendency to always have their rights protected), so why should a simple majority allow for such fundamental change? Why should the masses be entrusted to read cryptic legislation and make a split decision (wait, those 'yes on x' and 'no on y' signs explain it all so well). Anyway, given my lack of faith in people, my jaded views on politics, and my general dislike of crowds organized by elderly volunteers, election day is no thrill for me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Ode to and Old Friend

A year ago I had to put an old friend down, someone I had known for 13 years. When I first knew him he was a weathered three year old, who had been around the block a few times. It was a friendship of convenience, as he needed a new home, and I was in need of the services he could provide. He was my first, and I will never forget him.

At first the hot summer days were invigorating, as I felt freer than I ever was before. My friends liked him, and my foes stayed clear. He was big, black, powerful, and named after a sword--not just any sword, the sword of a pirate. Arrr!!! Before long we got pulled over for the first time, but his stealthy exterior concealed our velocity. Sadly it all started to spiral--at first I sneezed at the sight of the bright Florida sun (damn photic sneeze reflex--why do only white people get cursed with that?), which led me to shut my eyes the moment he slammed into a shitty-ass mustang. He was OK, and a little bit of cosmetic surgery left him as good as new. Alas minus the stealthiness, and I soon got my first ticket. Later we began to feel the exhilaration of weightlessness, being airborn, and an occasional bath in a small pond. After a while he started becoming ill. First he lost his cool, then he couldn't keep a charge. Before long he would forget how to keep warm in the winter, and he finally acquired quite a loud persona. Through it all he kept going.

I miss my Olds. He made it 180,000 miles, sounded like a '68 Camero, looked like A Chevy Celebrity, Pontiac 6000, and Buick Century, but he was way cooler, as he had a rocket on his grill. He was a rocket--the rocket, and my old friend. Not many cars have experienced ice on the inside of the windshield (no heat), exploding pop cans from brutal Florida heat (no AC), flat tires from rusty rims that no longer hold a seal, an odd odor from a leaky crown air freshener, wiring chewed by squirrels, and many other adventures. I had to have him put down, and I wish him well in the auto afterlife.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

An Open Letter to Meth Heads

Dear Meth Head (yeah, tweaker--that's you):

We've had a rocky friendship, stemming mostly from your entertainment value. I can't tell you how many laughs you provided Liz and I on our frequent viewings of COPS, but we often have to watch while we're all congested. You see, you've made it hard to buy Sudafed and many other things with pseudoephedrine. Now I've found out that my good ole' friend Nyquil no longer has pseudoephedrine (nor does it have that half-ass phenylephrine shit). My extensive Sudafed purchases likely have me on some federal database (I guess checking out Mein Kampf in high school also had me being watched). I know you like to make your Saturday nights in Missouri more interesting, but we need to breath. Here's an idea, smoke crack like everyone else on COPs, and then we won't have an even harder time getting pseudoephedrine. That would make everyone happy. Now, get back to cleaning your kitchen, freaking out, or living in a house that smells like cat piss.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Favorite Time of Year

Between the changing leaves, horror movie marathons, and cool night, this is my favorite time of year. Granted the leaves will need to be raked, the movies aren't that good, and well cool becomes cold, but I still can't help but like it. AMC has shown horror flicks for about 8 days now, and they still aren't done. Liz and I have managed to watch the first three Exorcist films, a few Friday the 13ths, a Halloween (the odd third one that didn't have Michael Myers), and there's more to come. There has also been an abundance of shows about haunted locals. Sometimes different series will go to the same place. Hopefully there will be plenty of leftover candy. Mmmmmmm yum!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I Don't Mean to be Insensitive ...

Over the years I've seen an increasing amount of attention being paid to cancer, cancer causes, and cancer charities. Of these, it's impossible not to notice the often singular focus on one particular cause: breast cancer. Perhaps I'm not the right person to point this out, as men have a much smaller likelihood of contracting the disease, but many of the people I care most about are women. It's not that I'm not supportive of those with the disease, those who have to constantly worry about contracting it, and those who have lost loved ones to it--far from it. It's just odd that with so many forms of cancer, many others that strongly impact women (and men), it seems odd to only draw attention to one.

October is breast cancer awareness month. I see many companies supporting the cause with pink merchandise, charitable donations, and other means of support. What about ovarian cancer? What about prostate cancer (what color is that ribbon)? What about the dudes who have breast cancer--do they like being associated with a pink ribbon? Why do we ask consumers/donors/supporters to choose between different forms of cancer? Lance Armstrong (a dude that I don't have a whole lot of respect for, but follow along with me) didn't just support those with nut cancer. Anyway, I just think it's ridiculous that it has gotten this far. I love my mom, my girlfriend, and I generally like breasts. I just don't breasts are more important than ovaries, skin, pancreases, lungs, brains, etc ...

Can someone explain this to me? Am I an ass?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Odd Sorta Deja Vu (part two--sad but true)

I've come to the conclusion that the two best movies I've seen in theaters this year are Victorian era magician flicks. As I wrote earlier they were so similar I and many others in the theater saw the preview for the one while watching the other and thought we were somehow in the wrong theater. Anyway, these two films, The Illusionist and The Prestige are very good, and this seems to be quite the exception these days. If I had to choose one, I'd go for The Prestige though.

Then again, we saw The Prestige for $4!!! Apparently the theater at Crosswoods only charges $4 for the first showing of the day (12:45 in this case), and I'm a sucker for a deal. The $6 normal price there is pretty good, but the $4 is a steal.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

My First Act as a Dim Wit

I still don't feel too dim-witted, but the loss of my wisdom teeth has made me nauseous and unhappy. I can't help but think of that song by the Verve--The Drugs Don't Work. Drat! At least I have the greatest nurse in the world to bring me back to health. Honestly it hasn't been too bad (she may tell a diff story having put up with me). When I woke up from the anaesthesia, I checked for scars in my chest to see if I had my kidneys or other shit boosted, and fortunately everything seems there (and my pants were still on). I resisted the temptation to dig around my mouth, as the hollow craters were my once mighty teeth stood would be a sad reminder of my decision, and I may regret my choice (not as much as I regret putting Being Bobby Brown on the TV--I'm trapped. That was my first dim witted move).

Fortunately I was able to keep the teeth, so I can make something out of them. Shit, in fifty years they may be the only teeth I have left.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Blast from the Past

Every now and then I have nothing better to do than look back at some previous part of my life, and I usually end up laughing. I suppose that's a good thing, but some times I'm not so sure, anyway ...

Someone mentioned going to gay clubs, and I recalled some of my coworkers I used to hang out with down in Gainesville, and where we'd go. Gainesville is an odd town. It's a big town, but hardly a city, and the plethora of students and generally progressively minded folk made it rather open to all sorts of people (sadly with all sorts of smells, but that's another blog). Anyway, me and my friends/coworkers would often go to this establishment known as the University Club, or simply UC.

If you've clicked on the hyperlink, well, you know what type of establishment it is. If not, let's just say they were proud of the fact that the entrance was in the back. Depending on what night you'd show up, you could see a real eyeful, but if you stuck to Thursdays it was rather heterosexual friendly, plus that's when all the drag queens performed. More than a few actually worked at the same company as me. What's odd is looking back to how many times I went to an un-air-conditioned gay bar in Gainesville, Florida (arguably the hottest sweatiest place in the US). On top of it all, I'd drag (maybe not the best word choice) back to work, only to see many of the people I saw the night before (sometimes they were expressing a different gender).

I honestly think I went out more on Wednesday and Thursday than Friday and Saturday (Friday was house party night and Saturday was pretty much the same). Wednesdays I'd either go to a coffee bar for open mic night at a Common Grounds, a coffee bar that also had good beer--cheep! or if I was hangin' with a posse, 80s night at the rotator. The place was called that because the bar rotated. Well one of them did. Since the place was owned by ABC liquors, it had like 5 bars in a small venue, and everything was cheap house brand stuff ($3 long islands--big ones!). The dance floor was a crazy Saturday Night Fever-style light up affair. What really topped it all was the reality that the other six nights a week the place was a redneck bar (it was 10 miles outside of town).

Oh, speaking of cheap long islands--there was Ashley's Mexican Pub (yeah, what a concept), which featured long islands and margaritas in goldfish bowls. The best part was they were $4. The worst part--you needed to alcohol to cleanse your mouth from their less than stellar food. After a few, you wouldn't give a shit.

Ah, those were the days. I don't miss them, but I do think about them every now and then.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm Surrounded by Lazy Wusses

I'm no water cooler etiquette scholar, though I suppose writing about this puts me among the more contemplative water cooler users, but I suppose it should be a common courtesy to refill the water cooler if you've depleted it. I know I'm a big strapping young lad, able to curl 5 gallon water tanks in each hand, but is it too much to ask the average dude to replace an empty water jug with a full one? I suppose the previous drinkers may have been ladies or perhaps elderly, but in two of the three (yes 3!) times today where I was greeted with an empty water cooler, I saw men departing the scene of the crime (the third time saw a solitary water cooler free of clues). Granted I guzzle a lot of water (I drink a shitload of hot tea--black in the morning, oolong midday, and green in the afternoon/evening--maybe jasmine every now and then), but changing that water cooler five times in two days is crazy. I imagine Han changes the water cooler in the Millennium Falcon every now and then. Chewie may owe him a life debt, but a bitch he is not.

The Dream is Over

For at least a decade I've resisted the persistent efforts of many people to give in and join the dim witted masses. I've always looked forward to the opportunity to one day be a wise old man, kinda like a slightly taller and less green Yoda, and I knew to give in would shatter those dreams. Temptation has come and gone, with many 'professionals' seeking to crack my armor.

Tomorrow I will give in. Adios wisdom teeth. I will miss you: from the challenges of brushing you, to the odd aches and pains, I never quite forgot you were there. I'll wake from my slumber, and I'll poke around to make sure I wasn't toothjacked while I was asleep, and for once, I'll not reassuringly find them. RIP

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My Odd Hobby (continued)

Last month I wrote about my odd hobby of wandering through the Wikipedia, getting lost in articles about interesting topics, which likely only interest me (and whoever put so much effort into writing that article). At the time I used some articles regarding death metal, death grunts, cookie monstering, etc.. as examples of my readings. Yesterday I discovered the greatest hidden treasure of interesting crap. The holy grail of time wasting. Articles regarding pro wrestling.

While I'm not the wrestling aficionado my girlfriend is, I've watched more than a little wrestling, and I've had friends who are more than willing to suspend disbelief (I've found that some refer to these types as smarks) in the whole show (which is known as Kayfabe). I can still remember the good ole days (rather Monday nights) of watching Raw and Nitro simultaneously either at my friend Mark (the dude who believe it all way too much) or better yet Hungry Howies, where all you can eat pizza met two different wrestling programs at once--a perfect storm of white trash euphoria. It almost brings a tear to my eye.

Anyway, I've read up on the Montreal Screwjob, which some people really seem bothered by, the Freebird Rule, the Dusty Finish, and the fact I wasn't the only one grossed out by X-Pac. Histories on The New World Order, the Four Horsemen, and Legion of Doom, D-Generation X are more complete than much of the crap I learned in school. I know more about Ric Flair, Gorilla Monsoon, and Sgt Slaughter (did you know he recorded a whole album--complete with a Niel Diamond cover!)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Some Fond Memories of Old

Being football season and the best part of football season (that period before the Gators lose), I'm a little nostalgic for some of the memories I've had attending games. I started going to UF games back when I was in high school with both my brother and a friend of mine procuring tickets. I would go to an occasional home game (especially against shitty teams) or even the SEC championship (my friend's parents really saw me as a positive influence in his life, so they would take me on trips to Atlanta and shit). Anyway, it all was rather fun, but the real fun started when I got to college. From watching colossal Peyton Manning chokes to ungodly scores against mediocre teams I saw a lot.

1996 was cool, as I went to 10 games, got to meet Rick Flair--whew!, taunt Kirk Herbstriet, see police dogs and mace get used (all the same game), and I got to wait in line for tickets for over a day. Boy that was quite a scene, as people brought couches, TVs, Playstations, and an insane amount of junk food to hold them over. We all camped out in the stadium, and the athletic department even pitched in for pizza. That led up to being able to watch the Gators win their only national title (and my revulsion for how nasty New Orleans was--it has since bathed). Also in there was an unfortunate incident in Atlanta where I strained my groin yelling real loud. Fuck that hurt.

Speaking of yelling loud, I once had someone get the cops on me for making too much noise. I used to go to all the Jacksonville Jaguars games, and the dude in the seat in front of me claimed I was harming him by cheering a little. The cops laughed at him, the rest of the seating section taunted him, and he never returned. That seat remained unoccupied the rest of the year. Perhaps the most eventful happening at a Jacksonville game was watching a drunk guy swing and miss hitting some guy he was pissed at and hit his own daughter. Poor girl. Oh, we sat in the 'no drinking, no cussin' section of the stadium--lot of good that did.

I suppose I'll go to more games sometime in my life, but it was quite a blast then, and it will likely never be the same.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

It's Official, I'm Getting Old

It all started six months ago, I parked where I should have known I'd get towed, and I left my debit card at the bar. Neither mistake worked out to well for me, but at least I found out real cool that my girlfriend would come through for me (the next day was our first encounter, and she helped me get it all straightened out). Twice in the past few months I've left the water running in the sink in the middle of the night (at least this icky boy washes his hands)--not a good sign. Yesterday I left my headlights on, and owing to the place I park, only the graces of one of those portable jump starters (likely designed for blonds in distress), saved the day.

Today I'm 30. It's a good age, and so far it's been a good year (check back with me in a few months for a more detailed assessment). I suppose I should expect to leave stuff in the microwave and maybe encounter a forgotten Thanksgiving turkey in the oven when I go to bake Christmas cookies. Now if only I could remember to take ginko biloba.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

My Luck has Run Out

Who the fuck invented the Pot Luck? It must have been someone who is a lot more lucky than me, as I never seem to see fortune smile on me when these dreaded events are thrust upon me.

Right now I'm being assaulted by the symphony of stench generated by six, yes six, crock pots bubbling mysterious ooze, deviled eggs that the devil himself would torture only the worst inhabitants of hell with, and countless festering trays of odd concoctions. Nothing is remotely healthy, and if you can't tell, it all scares me. Why should I trust the culinary exploits of would be strangers purely based on the fact that I work with them?

Today is a big pot luck day at work, so it's not just my department bringing out the 'old family recipes' (which seem more like the secret ingredient is a long departed old family member--poor Fido), but rather a whole building with crock pots churning on all corners of all floors. I'm quite surprised the lights haven't dimmed. What's even more odd is that it started in the parking lot, as one group of 'hard working' associates had set up a tailgate outside with a TV, grill, coolers, etc... Kinda hard to get much work done. Then again, to be honest, it's hard to work while being inundated with whiffs of nausea inducing fumes in here.

Gotta go find some place to barf.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

How's it Hanging?

There comes a time in every relationship when that awkward topic needs to come up; one you just don't know how to present to your loved one, yet still needs to be resolved. Liz and I fell for each other quite quickly, and it was almost like we knew each other for much longer. We had a lot in common, so much it might scare those who know us, but not too much for it to be weird. , well weirder than we are individually. Anyway, there was one thing we didn't have in common, and rather than confront her, I have dealt with it in silence.

You see I can be a little weird when it comes to some things, but I usually am right, and this was another case. I understand the proper way to position a toilet paper roll is with the paper hanging over the top and out the front. She seems to just hang it any old way. Surveys have continually showed a preference for the proper manner, both by homeowners and hotel operators. It also just looks right. I had be secretly adjusting the rolls to the proper configuration, fearing guests might notice her faux pas. Trying to be open and honest, I decided to discuss this with her.

After a few weeks of not quite figuring how to broach the subject, I managed to find the words, but they didn't come out right, as she seemed to think I'm just crazy, which is more than a little true. I expressed my feelings, and she still thought I was crazy. We kinda agreed just to disagree. I suppose if she's purely hanging it at random, she'll likely have it right 50% of the time, and I'll try to always change the rolls when possible. I love her too much for this to be an issue. I suppose eHarmony wouldn't have matched us up, but that would be a shame, as she's the greatest gal ever.

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Odd Hobby

Well, actually I have many odd hobbies, but one blog at a time. In my free time, which I tend to have an excess of, I often veg on the internet, and one of my favorite places to do so is the Wkipedia. What's a Wkipedia, well it's part wiki, a collaborative community knowledge repository where everyone can make contributions, and it's part encyclopedia (if you don't know what an encyclopedia is, you really have more important things to tend to than read my blogs). Anyway, it's an odd nerd ecosystem, where anyone can create or edit entries on anything. While there is a potential for really poor or rather biased entries, it doesn't end up much worse than Britannica or anything else (it's certainly more accurate than your average know-it-all, even me). What is real interesting is the scope of articles, especially the details available on some of the more tangential subjects, and how you can quickly go from one area of knowledge to another.

One such example was this Saturday, when Liz and I were watching Stay Alive, a rather forgettable story, sort of a Ring meats Playstation, with a touch of Dracula. Anyway, the description isn't so good, but the movie wasn't either (by our standards, it was better than many though), anyway, it featured a rather bastardized (and Americanized) rendition of the Elizabeth Báthory story or urban legend (is it an urban legend if it originated in rural society? is there a rural legend?). We looked up her entry, and read up on what people had to say. I won't bore you with he details, though in all honesty it's an interesting, though grizzly, bit of history, but I will mention our odd journey that followed.

We managed to confirm what Liz already knew (someone likes to read up on serial killers), and we found links to various references to her in pop culture. These included various books, games, and a lot of bands--especially death metal bands. Hmm, when all else fails, I can always laugh at death metal. We noticed that there were death metal bands mentioned, black metal bands mentioned, and blackened death metal bands. Hmm, I like blackened seafood, maybe I'd like blackened death metal? We had to read up on this new subgenre, and we were rewarded with a highly technical assessment of the genre, its roots, and practitioners of the 'art'. A link to the article on death grunts was our next jumping point, and that led us to doom metal, melodic doom metal, and gothic metal. Did you know doom metal has subgenres? traditional doom, epic doom, death doom, black doom, funeral doom, drone doom, stoner doom, sludge doom, and the all other doom category: avant garde doom. I find it interesting that enough people care about the differences between these subgenres and can distinguish each one. These articles are written about as well as those on the Declaration of Independence or William Shakespeare.

Anyway, it passes the time, and it will prepare me for my appearance on Jeopardy. "I'll take Swedish death metal bands for $1000 Alex".

Monday, September 18, 2006

It Could Have Been So Much Better

koala being adorableYesterday was the annual outing to my employers annual outing at the zoo. My employer, whose name will remain confidential (though it would appear with Haitian pride in rhyming dictionaries), sponsors an outing to the Columbus Zoo once a year. It's not free, though it's close enough to that, and with the zoo being a popular destination, my employer a big one (apparently with rather fertile employees too), Jack Hanna making his annual appearance, and the weather being nice for a change, we had the perfect storm of crowds. Which means, it wasn't the perfect day for the zoo.

cute elephant mommyLet me get the fact that I love the zoo out of the way, and I especially love big lumbering animals (me being one helps in that regard). This gives me a great deal of positive inertia that normally overcomes obstacles, but yesterday I was put to the test. We got an early start, not insanely early, but early enough. I was surprised to find that every one else got there early too. Not a good sign. We stand like cattle ready to get slaughtered as we ease our way through the line to get in, and we dart past the huddled masses at the entrance to see the elephants and new exhibits, and from that point until our departure several hours later, we were constantly outnumbered by kids, strollers, and the occasional kid actually in a stroller. I'm not expert, but isn't the reason for the stroller to haul the kid? Also, if a kid is too young to walk upright for a sustained period of time, why bother with the zoo. You can just take them to a taxidermy shop or somewhere else and lie. They won't know the difference, and I won't have to hear there screams, smell their diapers, or remove their pudgy bits of flesh from my shoes when I accidentally step on them.

orangutan hidingAfter an hour of concentrated birth control, we tried to scavenge for food. This year the food that's included in the tickets was a giant buffet (a hot dog buffet at that) with an even more monstrous line. Liz and I were about as eager to wait in that line as our vegetarian friend. Pretty much at that point any one of us were willing to just hop in one of the animal pens and do what the critters were doing--hiding. I've never seen so many animals from so many diverse backgrounds hiding--many just cowering in the corner, trying to get away. I totally understood them, and I wish I could join them. It was that crowded, and there were that many kids. Between tortoises hiding behind bushes, orangutans curling up in balls in corners, and pandas, tigers, and otters seeking refuge in caves (not the same one--fortunate for the otters and pandas), there wasn't much to see. Many more animals just were missing, likely finding places behind the scenes to hide. Fortunately the usually sleepy koalas were awake enough to move a bit, which served as the highlight of the day--well that and the walk back to the car.

leopard sleepingAfter I got to the car, I scraped some odd bits of kid off of my shoes (along with some bird shit from my shirt), and we were on our way. I hope to go back, but hopefully on a much less crowded day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My Last Hurah

During my brief stint in college, I was lucky enough to be on the University of Florida College Bowl team, and I got to travel to a couple fine cities, and many not so fine places. Even if our destination sucked, the journey was usually fun, and the people watching potential, always made things even more interesting. After graduating, I had to pass the baton onto a new era of combatants, and I left the glory days of road trips behind me.

Well that was the way things were until one summer, Jeff, the never ending student asked if I wanted to join the folks on a road trip--a masters tournament, which basically means one open to old hags like me (I may have been 23 at the time). Anyway, I jumped at the chance. We would be going along with Alex, the fella with the most remarkable memory I've ever seen and Mark, the only dude I knew who took estrogen pills--long story. Anyway, the tournament was in Washington, DC, and it also had a trash tournament, which probably was the main motivation for Alex and Jeff. We were taking a rental up there, and we would stay with Stacia, our old advisor, who fondly referred to us as 'pookies'. She was living in DC as a part of her career as a PC PR rep.

The trip started ominously enough, as the rental was a Mazda 626. I've rented dozens of cars over the years, and I've never so much as seen a Mazda on a rental car lot. The car wasn't the biggest means of transit for a Sasquatch like me, and four dudes in any car could get crowded. Oh, and it started to look like I would have to drive the whole way. What was worse was that we were gonna drive all night and get there in the morning, which was when the tournament began. Ugghhh.

After a couple hours on the road, we stopped for gas, and owing to the fact we were in Georgia, the guys came back from their trips to the restroom with 40s (such beverage choice is illegal in Florida, though I'm pretty sure driving with open 40s is illegal in Georgia as well). I resigned myself to having to drive the whole way. ugghh. The trip through Georgia was rather uneventful otherwise. South Carolina too, but we were looking forward to a stop at South of the Border. South of the Border is a uh ... well it's hard to describe. Basically it's the last exit in South Carolina (thus the name, well at least from a North Carolina perspective), and it is Mexican themed--very badly stereotyped, and rather racist. Pedro is the Mickey Mouse equivalent, and he's quite the beaner. They have restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, and Pedroland. Of course there are bad tourist trap style souvenir stands, gas stations, and stands. What was new and quite foreign to all of us was these big empty buildings with signs that said "Adult Video Games".

?!?!?!?! Adult Video Games? Interesting--bizarre, yet interesting. First off we wanted to know what exactly an adult video game is--our imaginations wandered. Secondly, why was such a brilliant idea so popular to create such vast establishments, yet so mysterious to us? Also, why were they all closed? We were rather perplexed, yet too shy to ask. We had to drive on--confused, tired, and wearily looking ahead to North Carolina and Virgina yet to go.

We eventually got to DC and the lovely campus of George Washington University, which really wasn't that lovely. The tourney was a disaster for me, as I was basically a wreck from having to drive the whole way without rest, and owing to the fact it was a masters tournament, it was rather dry and free of the usual chaos and unpredictability (and endless supply of Krispy Kreme and Surge) of regular tourneys. It was summer, so campus was dead, and I don't remember much else.

We hung out with Stacia, went to Georgetown (shamefully commericalized these days) and washed down a few margaritas. We waxed nostalgic about the good ole days before crashing. We headed home the next day, with some relief while Jeff drove. Thank god for that, as that 626 was the biggest piece of shit I ever drove. It would bounce the opposite direction of any pothole or bump. We figured out what the adult video games were--video poker, which was just banned, thus the closed establishments. Not as exciting as I imagined.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sometimes Good Friends can be Rather Shitty

Once upon a time, in a city far far away, I was going with my then girlfriend to see a play at the Hippodrome, which is a quaint old post office that's been converted into an rather intimate theater, where odd, often sexually charged, often rather gay, plays are performed. We decided to bring our naive, homophobic (and here the term applies quite literally), and rather closed minded friend Kevin with us. Now, I'm not trying to paint him as a bad person, rather one who grew up in about as sheltered and closed minded upbringing as possible. Anyway, we were going to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Since this was well before the movie hit the silver screen, he likely had no idea what he was in for, but that was kinda the point, as otherwise he wouldn't come with us. Being a very small theater, we were right up at the foot of the stage, and everything was very close to us. Through the course of the play, you could see that poor Kevin was physically uncomfortable, and with no more notice than this, he just got up and left when the titular character gave a lap dance to someone nearby (I almost can picture it happening to him, but I'm pretty sure it was just someone nearby). After the remainder of the show, we left, expecting to see Kevin sitting on the steps in front of the theater, at the nearby coffee shop, or maybe in the lobby. No such luck. He fucking left, and he was our ride! We ended up walking home, which if you've lived in Gainesville, you know that the area near the Hippodrome can become ghetto rather quickly. We made it OK, but it still really sucked. I guess he wasn't ready for something new.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An Odd Sorta Deja Vu

Last Friday, Liz and I were at the theater to watch the Illusionist, and prior to seeing the movie and after the barrage of ads, there were a few previews. When one of the previews began to air, an odd feeling came over me and many others in the theater. One that you usually don't experience, and quite frankly is hard to describe, it's the hey, isn't this preview for the movie we're gonna see? Liz and I even had to ask each other if we were in the right theater. The preview was for the The Prestige, another film based on illusionists in a bygone era. It's not unusual for similar films to come out around the same time, though often studios try to prevent such things, such as the delayed release of First Daughter owing to its similarities to Chasing Liberty. Both bombed. Other times a movie is rewritten (allegedly Die Hard 3 had to be rewriten as it was to be like Under Siege) or simply cancelled (the Baz Luhrmann Alexander the Great film). Then, you have movies that are simply remakes (usually a foreign film was the original), such as La Femme Nikita becoming Point of No Return, Ju-on becoming The Grudge or Insomnia becoming Insomnia. Lastly, you have different versions of the same film, such as the two prequels of the Exorcist--Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist and Exorcist: The Beginning. Anyway, it was an odd feeling, and I ended up enjoying The Illusionist, and I'm looking forward to The Prestige.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Canine George Washington Carver

This morning Liz and I watched our cute not-so-little puppy discover the wonder of peanuts, and the fella was like a canine George Washington Carver. At first he carefully picked up the nut, managing to neither swallow nor destroy the nut, while likely enjoying the yummy saltiness of the shell. After carrying it to closer to us, he began to analyze it through sniffing and further attempts to taste it. Then he looked at it some more and began to gently chew upon it until it opened. Now that it was opened up, he sniffed it some more and enjoyed the peanut inside. We were very impressed with our smart puppy, though he did prove a little less than selective in the end, as he eventually ate the shell as well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Trip to The Renaissance Festival

Yesterday, I ventured to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which was a first for me. It wasn't my first time at such events, rather the first for this particular one; nevertheless I had a good time. As a connoisseur of people watching, I couldn't pass up the event, as there really is nothing quite as interesting as dorks in their own element, or more specifically dorks in their carefully crafted non-existent element. You see dorks, which I might as well come out and admit my own dorkdum, are quite adept at augmenting the otherwise dull and uninviting real world with supplemental fantasy elements, which can overwhelm reality. Sometimes these alternate realities converge at an event such as this (comic book conventions, Rocky Horror nights, and goth clubs represent similar opportunities). Anyway, I knew I'd see awkward looking folks, those too pale, to androgynous, or unkempt for the real world, and they were there, as were dudes with long ratty hair, chicks with lots of cleavage, would-be pirates, gypsies, wenches, maidens, knights, fairies, berserkers, bizarre evil looking types, etc... All in all, a cornucopia of different people. The highlight was listening to a tarot reader mentioning the spiritual advisor pot-luck she recently attended. I could imagine a shaman holding a crock pot with Swedish meatballs asking a palm reader if she brought her famous deviled eggs, while in the background a a medium discusses a particularly difficult séance while dipping chips in a hollowed out crystal ball filled with dip brought in by a psychic who nods along with the conversation. Speaking of food, the food was good there too. I had a good time and would recommend it for most folks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The wait is finally over--yet I feel cheated more than relieved

In 1977 George Lucas release Star Wars, a wonderful piece of filmmaking filled with then breathtaking special effects, original characters, an interesting setting, and just the right amount of fantasy to get you out of your day to day life for a few hours (some people have left the real world for years due to this movie, but it's likely due to their psychosis). The camera work was solid, the cinematography was quite good, and while the acting was lacking, it didn't really matter, as the characters (save for whiney bitchy loser Luke) were so cool. Darth Vader and Chewbacca were the best thing to happen for tall people since ... uh, me. Anyway, it really was something that was treasured by fans then and still is today. 1980 brought The Empire Strikes Back, a solid film in its own right, and perhaps one of the best sequels ever made. More great characters (Lando, Yoda, and Boba Fett) added to the saga, and Luke even became a little less bitchy (just a little, as if I were Yoda, I would have bitch slapped him a few times). 1983 brought Return of the Jedi, not all that great, but after the first two movies, fans were so wrapped up in it all that it didn't really matter. It was the icing on top of some damn fine cake. That was that, and things were great for Star Wars fans (as long as you forgot about The Star Wars Holiday Special).

Sure at the time people were clamoring for more (at the time episodes 7,8, and 9 were the focus of interest), but George Lucas had moved on to such great masterpieces as Howard the Duck (I can't make this shit up). So after the genius that was Howard the Duck, folks should have cut George off (like some Karaoke singer thumbing through the Neil Diamond section of the song book), but he decided to piss all over his masterpiece in 1997. At first it sounded promising. The film was to be digitally restored and some of the effects were to be updated. Really updating the effects was unnecessary, as while they were dated, they did the job, and there was a classical elegance to the old school models (imagine Michelangelo recreating David today out of silicone, and what you'd get is a giant gay sex doll). Anyway, the redone effects were OK, painful but OK. Where things got really ugly were reshot scenes and edited story lines. Yes I'm talking about Greedo shooting first! Han Solo is a scoundrel, a space pirate, and among many things, a man who looks out for himself first. That's why boys thought he was cool and gals thought he was hot. He was the anti Luke (anyone with nuts would do in that role though), and he helped make the movie. Han wasn't afraid to find his own solutions, which involved killing Greedo before he did the same to him (after all, who would comb Chewbacca or trim his nails). The Jaba shit was lame too. It all was a drunken mess, and what makes it worse than Godfather III or Episode I was that it ruined something that already was good. Fortunately Empire Strikes back only got minor edits, mostly on backdrops and such, and I really could care less for Return of the Jedi, unless George had Darth ask the Emperor to step down or something less ballsy than just heaving him down one of those always handy never ending corridors. I must say that lame ass song and dance number at Jabas is why fast forward was invented though.

It got worse in 2004, as George finally got off his ass and released Star Wars on DVD (he was all over Laserdisc in the 80s), and all that was released was the Special Edition BS. He even tinkered with it some more (Greedo and Han pulled triggers at the same time, but Greedo still shot first), and the schleps we are, we all went out and bought it. Now after a couple years of living with that (not to mention the horrors of Jar Jar), we have a new DVD release this week. Could it be true, the original Star Wars? Well, yes and no. Yes the original uncut Star Wars is coming out, but no (hell no) the bastardized Special Edition is coming out with it as well. See you have to buy the movies separately, and each film comes with both versions (who the hell doesn't already have the Special Edition DVD?). So you're paying for a movie you never wanted in the first place and you already own just so you can get the one movie you always wanted. Wait, it gets better. They're just copying the laser disc release from the 80s to DVD, and there is a reason no one uses laser discs, and that’s because the quality never was that good. So rather than using the digitally restored original film (despite the mess that the Special Editions were, they were pretty, and most of them was the original film), they will be using shit left in the vault for 20 years to rot. Why? Well George doesn't give a fuck, or rather he does, and what he cares about is his Special Edition. He's gonna take his podracer, go home, and pout. As a result no restored film, and also coincidentally, no significant amount of advertising or buzz in general. Granted most people are Star Warsed out, but still, it's eerily quiet. No one wants to piss off George. Well, I'll pass on buying the DVDs.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The world is going to hell

Flanagan's, a place that fancies itself as a cool hangout with a bar, decent food, and social activities ranging from mediocre cover bands to 'beach' (who are we kidding--we're in OHIO!) volleyball, now is advertising it's latest contribution to the masses of central Ohio--Cornhole Leagues! WTF!!! I cannot believe this shit. I never understood why people in the Midwest feel the need to play this lame game (at least the trendy popularity of Sodoku or poker involve a bit of aptitude and mental activity), and it baffles me that it continues to remain popular. I still see $60-80 cornhole kits which consist of two painted boards with holes in them and a bean bag. What a ripoff, but then again white trash has never been known for fiscal responsibility. I shouldn't be too surprised at Flanagan's, as it is the same place that goes all out with it's Irish heritage on St Patties Day, more so with its Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo, and doubtlessly will jump on the Bastille Day bandwagon.

It's that time in a relationship

There comes a time in a relationship when you introduce your significant other to your synagogue, temple, Tabernacle, church, or cult, and well that time is upon us. I started dating the wonderful gal back in April, and up until now she hasn't had the pleasure of witnessing my calling. This Saturday she'll have a chance to be indoctrinated among my peers for an evening of Gator football. Thankfully I won't have to actually convert (no undoing Buckeye brainwashing) her, as she's pretty much in a virgin state when it comes to football. I even had to point out that John Madden was an alum of her not so known for football school. I'm not looking for much, just acceptance. Hopefully all goes well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My pets

I have three guinea pigs and a bunny, who liven up my living room and kept me from getting too bored or lonely, but I spend most of my time with my two cats and the recently added two dogs. I can describe these four free-rangers each in one word:


What does that say about my pets? What does that say about me? Who has a neurotic dog? Can a dog be evil? What kind of lead paint did my poor kitty encounter before he came under my care? Am I shallow for describing my cat simply as pretty?

Friday, September 01, 2006

From the best city to land of the fat drunk

When I first moved to Gainesville in 1995, Money Magazine proclaimed it the best place in America to live (a small boost from Jacksonville, which it ranked #3). It didn't seem all that special, but hey, it wasn't Detroit, and I liked it. Over the years one thing led to another, and now I'm in Lovely Columbus. When I arrived here it was declared the 5th fattest city in America (and from the looks of it people here take the competition seriously). Now I read that it's the 5th drunkest city (I see a lot of overlap, especially with big fat Buckeye fans). I don't know what this all means, but I suppose if I had more civic pride I should be stuffing my face and drinking like a fish.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Odd Journey of My Old Washing Machine

Once upon a time, I was working as a CSR in a call center, and as such I got to meet and know many people who also worked in the call center. Call centers can be odd environments, bringing out some rather interesting folks. While I cannot hope to catalog all of the weird people I've met, nor can I dream of revealing all of the interesting stories they had to tell, but I shall start here.

Shortly after I started working in the call center, I got into a bit of rouble when I helped too many coworkers owing to my old desk being by the help desk, so I was moved into the nether regions, and I sat across from a gal, who I'll call "Stephanie." "Stephanie" was a single mom of around 30 years old, who was a former beautician who got the job in part to one of her customers who was a manager at our employer. She wasn't an exceptionally good CSR, nor was she much of a beautician from what I heard.

Anyway, she was dating and having mixed luck. She started dating a dude, who wasn't too much of a catch from what she said, and in fact she wasn't at all enamoured with him. She kept talking about wanting to dump him but merely lacked the energy to do so. Well one
day she, knowing my somewhat odd affinity for all things Alf, mentioned he had some ALf stuff including a large stuffed Alf. I tried to politely continue conversing with her, but somehow she convinced herself she should go out with him another date to get the Alf for me. I was rather confused and nearly speechless, so I really didn't do much to stop her. Sure enough, a couple days later I had a lightly used stuffed Alf. Apparently the Alf was just the beginning.

Having enjoyed the rush of taking a treasured childhood memory from this schlep, "Stephanie" decided to get something for herself. You see this fella did have one thing going for him, he was an appliance salesperson, which means he could get her appliances at cost. I dunno when or how she got the Euro washer bug, but she had it, and she had him get her an Asko (Swedish made) front loading washer/drier set. The washer normally went for $1800 alone, and the dryer wasn't cheap either. Before long she was complaining about the washer, which owing to its frugal European design used a whole lot of time and very little detergent and water to clean clothes. Some cycles could take up to 3 hours, and being a vein impulsive type, that was too long.

Well the Alf and the washer/dryer must have been meant to be together, as it wasn't much thereafter when I, who had just moved to a place with hookups for a washer/dryer and didn't have either, was offered the set. I paid something like $650 for the pair, and I was delighted to have a stacked pair in my somewhat crowded apt. I also got a neat conversation piece, as the washer sounded like a jet reving up owing to its extremely high RPM spinning stainless drum.

Sadly the washer has since met its demise, and the Alf has been given to charity.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

21st Century Ghetto Lemonade Stand

A few weeks back, I was taking one of my nearly too many shortcuts, driving through my neighborhood to avoid the congestion and construction on a nearby major road. Along the way I passed two schools, a church, and a quaint reminder of a bygone era--a lemonade stand. It brought back fond memories of my childhood. I look back upon those simpler times, playing Lemonade Stand on an old Apple II in my elementary school. I was quite the Lemonade tycoon, able to eclipse anyone with my trademark, "charge $1000 a glass, as mom will always buy at least one", strategy. I never actually sat on my ass in the Florida sun and tried to sell real lemonade, that's what other kids did--I focused on my calling, cyber lemonade sales. Well the memory passed, and I drove on. The kids seemed disappointed I didn't stop, but it's not like they had a drive thru.

Zooming ahead to the closer to present, I recently was driving home, this time not on any short cut and venturing along a bigger road, and I saw something novel and quite unexpected. A tend with a few TVs, some rather ghettofied folk, and a sign up "Madden '07 Tournament $25". I'm sure it had all the proper permits, licenses, and permission, and I also suppose whoever had the extension cord plugged into their home knew about it (and isn't getting a government subsidised electric bill). It all was very brazen, only feet away from a major road, and it was also quite popular, especially given the entry fee. I was quite impressed, and I was a little envious of their entrepreneurial acumen.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Holy Grail has been found!

After years of searching and many unfulfilled journeys, I have successfully located the Holy Grail of caffeine. The arduous nature of my quest seems odd given the recent popularity of caffeine, first in high potency coffee drinks and later via energy drinks, but an ordeal it has been.

Yesterday morning, while wandering past the collection of refrigerated drinks at Big Bird, I saw they now have Jolt products. Jolt Cherry Bomb, Jolt Blue, and some new-fangled sugar free variety (sugar free Jolt?!?!?!?!) I didn't see any Jolt Cola, but I didn't look too hard. I was so excited, and I grabbed some Jolt Blue, then everything started getting jittery.

I feel that all is right in the world, or at least mostly so. Well, maybe just a bit more right.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How Not to be a Presenter

I'm no expert, nor do I play one on TV, but after last week, I might as well be one. I spent last week in lovely Salt Lake City, Utah at a conference dedicated to eLearning, which happens to be by occupation, but I honestly never have been specifically trained in the tools, techniques, and terminology of the craft. I basically took up the job because I started tinkering with web design twelve years ago and somehow ended up at Nationwide---oh and the pay is not bad. History and Poly Sci grads can't be too choosy, so I'm quite happy. Don't get me wrong, I'm real good at what I do, and from my experiences, I have a gift for training. Anyway, I'd like to think I fall well short of what a presenter in a conference has to offer (especially being a generalist without a well defined niche). I'm wrong.

None of the people I flew cross country to see and my company paid good money for had anything real useful to offer. I saw some new tools and got an idea or two, but generally they were no thanks to anyone, just me stuck in a room with a wandering mind. Most work for companies they own, and from the likes of it, I'm overqualified to own an eLearning business of my own. They boast of slaying dragons I conquered years ago or never considered to be obstacles. They name drop lands far and wide where their services were needed (I don't consider dazzling 3rd world slave drivers a feat to be proud of), and they run in fear of the greatest evil of all, details. Most dress horribly, yet the greatest fault of all is their presentation skills. As a presenter, you must be ready to present. That starts with looking decent, but it also expends to verbal communication skills, well designed Powerpoints (being familiar with them is a plus), and lastly if you're gonna hook your personal laptop up to a projector, don't have all shorts of shit on it. From AIM clients, to bad music (Abba, Michael W Smith, Celine Deion), to saved email forwards, it just isn't becoming to share that. Oh, and if you're using your own company's software, make sure it doesn't cause BSODs all the time. Oh and by the way, if you're talking about podcasting, don't just show someone how to save an audio file.

In the end, I had to fill the little shoes that the presenters chose not to step into. In the aforementioned podcasting presentation, I had to explain why people do it, how it gets done, what tools are needed, and how to get it done quickly and efficiently in the real world. Lastly, I was able to talk about real world experience. Is this too much to ask of another? It must be, as before that ill-fated presentation the presenter asked a show of hands for those who had done it before, and then she said we (with our hands up) likely already knew a whole lot more than her. Are you kidding me? Why volunteer to present, and why do so on a subject you've only read about or dabbled with?

All was not lost, as I learned I'm at the top of my field instead of in the middle or worse, and I saw some new tools (some with promise and others to avoid), and I got to see some mountains. Sadly my quest therein did not lead to finding bigfoot, which ultimately makes this all a disappointment.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Free at Last, Free at Last

I'm writing this from the safety and security of Kentucky, where all in all, things are far less weird than Utah. It's scary when Kentucky is better than some alternative, but I suppose I already dealt with that in regards to Tennessee. By the time I publish this I'll likely be home in Columbus (currently stuck waiting for a delayed flight from Cincinnati to Columbus, but the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky). Anyway, I've already written twice about Salt Lake City, especially it's weird quirks. I'll miss the mountains, and the dry air was really nice, but the weirdness, well that's definitely something I'll leave behind.

It started off normal enough, a giant Abercrombie Billboard (though I could do without the half naked dude on it). But besides that, it looked like some weird Sim City creation. From overheard, you could see the odd squareness of it all, in unnatural gridlike harmony. The city had areas devoted to industry, commerce, and residency, but they were strictly segregated, much like Sim City. Oh, there was no variety either. What was also odd was that there was one football stadium, one golf course, and one baseball stadium, and all kinda looked like what you'd see in Sim City--the airport too. A few years back, there was this odd tornado (they tend to mostly hit trailer parks in rural areas, not so common in cities), much like someone had turned disaster mode on. I'm glad there was no Godzilla sightings.

Trapped in Utah (continued)

Well after finding all the watered down beer (oh, and no wine at all) at grocery stores, I decided to embark on a quest to find the real McCoy. In Utah (like Soviet Russia) you have to get the real stuff from the government. There aren't many such stores in the state, but most of them are in Salt Lake City, so I was able to find one. It was quite a drive, and when I got there I drove past it, as it's deep into a shopping center with no sign on the street and only a small one on the building.

When I enter I see it's all utilitarian and there are no specials, gift boxes, or anything cool. Booze isn't much pricier than Ohio, but beer certainly is. Many six packs had one or more bottles missing, as someone could only afford a bottle or two. Beer is in fact sold by the bottle, and since any bottle of alcoholic beverage requires a special stamp. This per-bottle tax seems to hit beer the hardest, especially 12oz bottle of cheaper beer. Basically if you drink 1 liter bottles of high alcohol German beer your better off than Bud or something less exotic. Fortunately, the store did take credit cards (none of that lame cash only shit we have in Ohio), and they had a decent selection.

Now I just need to find a coffee shop. Seriously