Thursday, October 30, 2003

85% certainty

It's a girl!

More later. It is time for bed.

Blog Meetup Day

Skillzy, author of the Hard Times blog, is hosting November's Blog Meetup Day event for folks in the Birmingham area. It's to be on the 19th at an as-yet-undertermined location (those who plan to attend get to vote on the venue). Since the blog crowd seems a much more intellectual lot than the chat crowd, I am going to give this meetup thing a try. I'll be there — wherever there ends up being.

I visited the Blog Meetup site, and I found its navigation rather confusing. I can't tell from the list of people signed up whether those people have RSVPed or whether they're just bloggers in the Birmingham area who might be interested. It says you should RSVP, but where do you do that? Just by signing up? Unfortunately, the FAQ section of the site focuses on what Blog Meetup Day is (which is immediately obvious), rather than how the event actually works. In other words, it's a great idea with poor execution.

I agree with Sugarmama in that there's little point in going if only a couple people plan to show up, so since the site doesn't make it clear, I suggest that anyone who wishes to attend e-mail Skillzy and let him know. I'm sure he can come up with a way to advertise the guest list. Beyond that, promote it in your own blogs, and maybe we'll see a decent crowd.

Music reflects mood

Want to guess my mood today? Here's what I'm listening to...

Powerman 5000 - Blast Off to Nowhere
Marilyn Manson - mOBSCENE
Monster Magnet - Big God
Hole - Awful
Curve - Chinese Burn
Catherine Wheel - Waydown
R.E.M. - Circus Act
Social Distortion - Don't Drag Me Down
Crystal Method - Name of the Game
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name
Magnapop - Skinburns
Dada - The Fleecing of America
Sugar - Helpless
Green Day - Welcome to Paradise
Disturbed - Fear
Veruca Salt - Straight
Lush - Ladykillers
Union Underground - Trip With Jesus
Afghan Whigs - My Enemy
Bif Naked - The Peacock Song

Ask me why.

Who are you, again?

My earlier post about probably having a difficult time remembering the baby's name makes me think I should comment about names. I am terrible with names. It takes me a while to remember them. Sometimes I'm even forced to create association games in my head so I'll remember the right names for certain people.

I've conditioned myself to pause and think before I say someone's name, but every once in a while, I'll blurt out the wrong thing. It's pretty embarrassing.

My most difficult time with names came from my marriage. In high school, for about a year and a half, I dated a girl named "Jennifer." Then in college, for about three years, I dated a girl named "Theresa." I'd been so used to my girlfriend's name being "Jennifer," though, that I would often almost  say her name when talking to Theresa. Not wanting to get my ass beat, however, I trained myself to think, every time I said her name, "not Jennifer — Theresa." The problem came years later when I was married. My ex-wife was also named Jennifer (though not the same Jennifer as before — to this day, my mother refers to the Jennifer I dated in high school as "the real Jennifer"), and my conditioning stuck. I'd be about to (correctly) say "Jennifer," but in my head I'd still think, "not Jennifer — Theresa." Then I'd have to remember, "no, this is  Jennifer. It always took me a couple of seconds for me to get her name out. Very frustrating.

Luckily, I have not had this problem with Misty. Her name is different enough that it's been easy for me to remember. With other people, though, it still takes me a moment to think — and even then I may not remember. Someone will say, "good morning, Matt," and I'll simply reply, "good morning" because I can't think of their name quickly enough. It happens with my co-workers whom I see every day and even my best friends. So please don't feel hurt if it happens when I talk to you. I'm lucky that I remember my own name.

The end of androgyny

Today is an exciting day, so I woke up way too early, unable to sleep. Today we make our fourth visit to the obstetrician, and hopefully we'll be able to learn our baby's gender from the ultrasound. I am impartial to the results. Either way it goes, I'll be happy. Misty, on the other hand, is clearly rooting for a girl. So much so, in fact, that if the nurse tells us it's a boy, she's likely to do something along the lines of demanding a second opinion. She wants a girl. We'll know this afternoon (probably).

The one bad thing that comes with knowing the baby's gender is the rejuvenated barrage of name suggestions. For the most part, I've been able to keep such suggestions at bay lately, with the postulate that there's no point in trying to select a name when we don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl. That idea goes out the window today, and for the next five months, I'm sure, the baby's name will change every other day. By the time it's born, I'll be so confused, I won't know what to call it. I'll probably just have to stick with "baby" for the first few weeks until Misty repeats its name often enough for it to stick with me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Misty's debut

For months now, whenever we've discussed something amusing, Misty has been making comments to me like "You should write about that in your blog." I always reply, "It's your  story (or idea, or joke, or whatever) — you  should write about it."

This weekend, prompted by the acquisition of her ring, she finally decided that she wanted to write her own blog. I think she's just excited about sharing with everyone that we're engaged.

We've spent the past couple days putting a blog together for her, and it's looking pretty good. As her title suggests — Bitching: My Anti-Drug — she plans to vent about stuff that pisses her off — work, family, people in general. I assume she'll also give occasional updates on the baby's progress and throw in some recipes and such.

I know the main reason she's doing this is that it's something I enjoy, and I appreciate that. Maybe after a couple of weeks of her own blogging, she'll understand why I've grown so fond of it.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Calvin proposes to a witch

It's finally "official" now. Misty and I are engaged! Good thing, too, because we're getting married in less than a month.

Misty came to visit me at work Saturday so she could use the fast Internet connection. While I worked, she looked into weddings/honeymoons in Gatlinburg. After much research, we booked a cabin with a goofy name for the week before Thanksgiving.

On the way home, we each went off in different directions to search for Halloween costumes for a party we were going to that night. Unbeknownst to Misty, I also jotted over to Levy's to pick up the engagement ring.

Finding the components for my Halloween costume prooved much more difficult than I had anticipated. I was dressing as Calvin (of "Calvin & Hobbes"), so I needed a red t-shirt with black stripes, a stuffed tiger, and blonde hair. The first part was easy. I picked up a red t-shirt at Goody's for $5. I thought finding a stuffed tiger would be equally simple. The Tigger from the Classic Pooh collection would be perfect. However, after visiting Babies R Us, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, K.B. Toy & Hobby, and the Disney Store, I was getting exasperated. Those things were everywhere when I didn't have any interest in them. I finally found something close enough at the second Wal-Mart I went to.

When I got home, I used a Sharpie marker and a yardstick to draw black lines on the shirt. Misty helped me mess up my hair and spray it with "fluorescent yellow" hair paint. Unfortunately, the yellow wound up looking like green, but it was too late to do anything about it. We figured green hair was just the sort of trouble Calvin would be likely to get into.

Misty was dressed as a witch, and the cat was terrified of her. She had a witch's cloak, a pointy hat, green hair (a wig), and lots of dark eye shadow and lipstick. Just before we left for the party, I told her that I had one more witch accessory that she should wear. I pulled the ring out from a drawer in the kitchen and gave it to her. I told her that she'd put a spell on me. That put a smile on her face for the rest of the evening.

The party was a total bore. I've been to parties before where I hardly knew anyone — even parties where I literally knew no one there — but I've never before had a problem finding sociable folks to chat with. At this party though, the guests were mostly neighbors of the host — they talked to each other, but it was clear that we weren't a part of their neighborhood clique. We pretty much just sat around, occasionally eating snacks and waiting for an opportunity to leave.

I was a little disappointed that no one guessed my costume. One person thought I was Christopher Robin (no, he wears a yellow polo, not a red t-shirt). What shocked me, though, was that when I informed people that my tiger and I were Calvin & Hobbes, they didn't have any idea who that was. "You know — the comic strip of the little boy with the stuffed tiger that comes to life when no one else is around," Misty offered. Nope. "You know the stickers you'll see on the back of a Chevy truck where the kid is peeing on the Ford logo? — that's Calvin," she said. Oh, him! They knew that one. Dumb asses.

Anyway, since Saturday night, Misty has been staring at her ring and saying things like, "Let's see what it looks like in the bathroom..." "Let's see what it looks like in the guest bedroom..." "Let's see what it looks like in the car..." I get the impression that she likes it.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

The perils of blogdom

Terror link to mass 'blog' outage

Law enforcement officials are probing a "significant" series of computer attacks launched in the last week, including one that took down some of the most popular web logs, or "blogs," on the Internet, an AT&T spokesman said yesterday.

But the best-known of the affected sites, including Glenn Reynolds' "Instapundit" and the Long Island-based "Command Post," apparently weren't the intended victims of the so-called "denial of service" attacks.

But those sites were taken out when unknown hackers went after an obscure Web site belonging to a group called Internet Haganah, which tries to get service providers to boot terror-connected Web sites off the Internet, according to Annette Howard, co-owner of Haganah's ISP, Hosting Matters.

Watch out, fellow bloggers. One of us could be next.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Today's best headline

Man arrested in theft of Popsicles

The owners of a house on Beverly Road returned home to find a man loading three rifles and eight shotguns, along with some tools, from the house into a truck, [Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Christina] Bowersox said.

The man fled on foot and hid in nearby woods as the homeowners called deputies to the scene... Deputies began to search for the man with help from a K-9 unit.

Sometime during the 90-minute search, the man broke into an area home and stole some Popsicles, Bowersox said.

He told deputies he didn't have time to finish one of the Popsicles before they arrested him, the spokeswoman said.

Friday, October 24, 2003

What is a 'groonk,' anyway?

A big thanks to for providing me with space to store my images after the new owners of Haven deleted them off their site.

Hubie maintains an impressive six  blogs on his site — games, comics, movies, music, pop culture, and personal. Pick your favorite, and get to reading.

The answer to your question, "What is a groonk?" is there.

Mediocre soul

My soul has been valued at $31,731, and apparenly, 51% of people have a purer soul than mine.

I'm a little disappointed here.

When is $100 better than $4,495?

I just visited and got this message...
Starting today, you can find books at based on every word inside them, not just on matches to the author or title keywords. Search Inside the Book — the name for this new feature — searches the complete inside text of more than 120,000 books — all 33 million pages of them.

I don't know if this will ever help me, but it sounds like a nifty feature.

The contest mentioned later in the message, however, is what I find amusing.
We'd love to hear about your experiences using Search Inside the Book. We're running a contest where we'll award our grand prize winner a Segway Human Transporter. Ten additional customers will each win a $100 gift certificate.

Have you ever seen a Segway? It's for everyone who's ever thought, "walking slowly is just too strenuous." It is the death of the human race.

Forget the grand prize — I'd rather have the $100.


Our next door neighbors' dogs bark a lot — often well into the night. Naturally, I wish they'd pipe down.

I am very pleased, however, that our trio of shih tzus rarely barks. Sure, they bark when we come home, waiting to be let out of their room. They'll bark when the doorbell rings. And once in a while, the oldest one will bark wanting to be picked up onto the sofa. For the most part though, they're pretty quiet.

On the few occasions when they do start up their yapping, Misty and I try to get them to stop. We don't want to hear their noise. I don't think we're different from anyone here, as everyone (except our neighbors, apparently) wants their dog to stop barking.

I got to thinking about this today, and I wonder if we, as a society, are inflicting psychological trauma on our dogs. When they bark, we tell them to be quiet. When they whine, we tell them to cut it out. When they growl, we tell them "no." Basically, we don't want them to emit any sounds whatsoever.

But what if someone did that to us? What if any time we made a sound, we were scolded? We'd be a society of mutes.

Maybe dogs have something to say, too. Just because they don't speak English, does that mean we shouldn't try to listen?

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Country ham and biscuits

I'm not a big advocate of prayer, but Aunt Eunice needs some sort of help.
For many years, Aunt Eunice has been a champion of local fundraising for the Arthritis Foundation. She also has had both knees and hips replaced as a result of the crippling condition.

She had not been feeling well the last weekend of September, and after closing her restaurant of 50-plus years for the day on Sept. 29, she went to the doctor. He immediately sent her to the hospital.

An infection in one of her legs last spring apparently never completely healed, according to Eunice's daughter, and that's what sent her back to the hospital. After being admitted, her kidneys failed - a likely result of many years of medication for the arthritic pain.

About 18 months ago, Eunice's Country Kitchen celebrated its 50th year in business. This may be the longest stretch the restaurant has been closed during that half-century. The owner has become Aunt Eunice to generations since taking over a business called Lee High Drive In in 1952. Mayors became loyal customers, bringing with them governors and congressmen. National magazines and network television shows featured Eunice's over the years.

Having lived there for ten years, I can attest that Eunice is, herself, a Huntsville landmark. When she gets better — and she will  get better — go pay her a visit at her restaurant.

It's fixed!

Based on sugarmama's comment, I decided to re-select my blog template and start over. It worked! After putting all my personal adaptations back in, the scrolling problem was fixed. However, another weird quirk had popped up. Line breaks were appearing where there shouldn't have been any. With a little help from the Coffee Achiever, that too got fixed, and now everything is in working order. Thanks for the insight, y'all.

A cry for help

Every time my blog loads, you can only scroll down so far before it cuts off. The page stops where the right well stops. If you change your text size, or even re-select your current text size, the page will adjust properly, and you'll be able to scroll to see everything.

I have noticed this problem on a few other blogs as well — always with Blogger/Blogspot. However, since it does effect all  Blogger/Blogspot pages, there's got to be a way to prevent it from happening.

Surely, someone knows how to fix this. Can anyone help?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You're missing 45% of the movie, you fools!

In case you didn't get enough of me bitching about DVDs over in Get on with Your Nightlife yesterday, here's some more...

When I watched 28 Days Later last night, I was disappointed to find that I had rented the full-screen/pan-and-scan version instead of the widescreen/letterboxed version. To prevent such a travesty from occurring again, when I returned the movie today, I asked Blockbuster to add a warning to my account specifying "please ensure that customer is renting widescreen DVDs, not full-screen." This way, whenever someone there scans my membership card, a little flashing message will come up with my account.

I rented The Italian Job, went home, and popped in the movie. I was greeted with the message that it had been "formatted to fit your screen." Exasperated, I immediately returned the movie to the store.

I talked to the same woman who had checked the disc out to me earlier and explained the problem. I was annoyed, but I was not rude. Her first response, however, was that "The Italian Job" only comes in full-screen. I know that is false. I said that Blockbuster may only carry  the full-screen version, but it does indeed come in widescreen. She looked in the computer, and unfortunately, that was the case. That store only carries the full-screen version.

Worse than attempting to blow me off with her first response, though, the woman next tried to tell me that it was my  fault that I'd rented the wrong version. She said that I could have looked just as well as she. That, however, is beside the point, as I specifically asked for Blockbuster to do that checking for me.

Furthermore, the fact that the movie was presented in full-screen was not  indicated on the rental case. I had no way of knowing that it was not the version I wanted. In fact, I did  check, but since there was no marking as such, I believed that (as with many movies) both versions were included on the same disc.

The fact that a specific request I made to a Blockbuster employee was ignored moments after I made it, disappoints me. The fact that I was then blamed by that employee for her own negligence disgusts me.

Beyond that, I am tired of the stupidy of Blockbuster in only carrying full-screen versions of movies. Supposedly they've since changed their position, but it's obvious that they have not. When I bought my DVD player several years ago, I did so because all movies were conviently offered in widescreen. Now I'm having trouble getting that format at the nation's largest video rental outlet.

If you are one of the misguided people who complains about the black bars on your screen, go to The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page to learn why you are an idiot. I don't have the patience to explain it again.

False advertising

I've just decided that the candle I've been burning smells more like cough syrup than "Blackberry Crisp."

A long last, a weekend

I love this! Not having to be at Haven on Wednesdays is even better than I expected. This weekend has been my first real two-day weekend in years (remember, my weekends run Tues/Wed).

Every weekend, I make myself a list chores I want to tackle. It feels like I've accomplished something as I cross each item off the list, but I usually don't come close to finishing them all. Yesterday was no different. I wanted to clean the garage, wash the laundry, mow the lawn, and do a bunch of paperwork. I finshed about half the garage and half the laundry, and I cut the grass (well, the weeds, actually). Today, though, I can still work on finishing my projects. I'm still at home! I suppose everyone else who regularly works five days per week won't see this as revolutionary, but I am beside myself. It's quite odd.

Misty was home yesterday, too, so we did a lot of work in the yard. She planted pansies in front of the house while I mowed the lawn. We trimmed the crepe myrtles so we have room to sit in our rocking chairs on the porch. Misty also cut back the maple tree a bit, making it look much cleaner. I dug up all the grass from around the mailbox so we can put flowers back in there. Finally, we dug through the closet for Halloween decorations and replaced our door wreath with a sign declaring that "The witch is in." We're rather impressed with what we accomplished yesterday. We're far from winning our neighborhood's "yard of the month," but if there was a "most improved" category, we'd be a shoe-in.

As the day wound down, we baked a frozen pizza and settled into the couch to watch 28 Days Later. Unfortunately, this meant that Misty didn't eat any of her dinner — the undead do look a lot like pizza. Anyway, it's a good movie, and it kept us pretty jumpy. I liked the way the zombies were fast instead of sluggish, moaning things. Danny Boyle also does some pretty cool stuff with sound and music in the movie, adding much to the tension. Our doorbell rang half way through, and we nearly came unglued.

I'm looking forward to another fun and productive day off today. The rest of you just can't understand my sense of peace.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Sun sets on the sigil-bearers

From Lying in the Gutters this week...
Some not-too-happy people at CrossGen. They are a fair few weeks behind on paying even their staff members, let alone freelance and other creditors. Some people are okay to wait, or take partial payments for now - but not everyone.

Still, with a whole bunch of books cancelled, they may not get a choice.

A whole bunch of books cancelled? Huh? I knew "The First" was ending with "The War" miniseries, but I didn't know what else. Obviously I haven't been paying enough attention, so I headed over to the the press release section of CrossGen's site to see what else. According to them...
After three years of planted clues, mounting tension, and escalating skirmishes, the saga of the Sigil Bearers vs. the Negation Empire is hurtling towards its explosive climax. As events build toward "The War," the following titles will reach their series finales with the following issues:

Crux #33
The First #37
Meridian #44
Mystic #43
The Path #23
Scion #44
Sigil #43
Solus #8

When "The War" hits in 2004, our greatest warriors will finally collide with an invading evil as alliances shatter, worlds burn, and destinies are fulfilled.

Blah, blah, blah... As much as I love CrossGen, this press release is a load of crap. There's no way they'd be cancelling these books if they were selling well. Everyone's been hearing about employees and freelancers not getting paid on time. Several key staff members have left the company in the past few months. Mark Alessi and Bill Roseman can deny it all they like, but CrossGen is losing money.

They're right to cancel most of these titles. "The First," "Sigil," and "Solus," are just plain lousy and always have been. As for "Crux," "Mystic," and "Scion," their stories have played themselves out, and an end makes sense. And, though I continue to say that it's the best comic book on the market, "Meridian" simply isn't selling. It never has, and it isn't going to. I'm rather surprised to see "Ruse" and "The Path" getting canned, though. They've had a positive response from both readers and critics. Admitedly though, I haven't read either in a while — maybe they've gone downhill.

So we're left with "Brath," "El Cazador," "Negation," "Route 666," "Sojourn," "Way of the Rat," and the upcoming series "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." The continuation of most of these series makes sense. "Route 666" and "Way of the Rat" have been optioned for movies. "Sojourn" has consistently been CrossGen's most popular title. "Brath" and "El Cazador" are relatively new, and have both picked up a solid readership. Here, "Negation" surprises me though. I like the book, but it's not really something with mass appeal.

Anyway, it's looking like we won't see much more of CrossGen. I wouldn't be surprised if the remaining books see their end within another year. I hope I'm wrong. They'd put together a great company with impressive writers and artists and a diverse selection of titles. They tried to grow too fast, though. Mark Alessi wasn't content for shooting to be #3 or #4 — he wanted to start from nothing and be the #1 publisher within a few short years. That's not a realistic goal. CrossGen suffered from over-marketing, trying to reach new readers via every possible avenue. They did everything at once, and it's cost them.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

100 things about me

I was going to post one of those "100 Things" lists to commemorate my 100th blog post, but it seems that I'm a few posts too late. Oh, well. I'm not going to make a list of 106 Things. This one took long enough as it is.

100 Things About Me...

1. I was born in Boston, so technically I'm a Yankee.

2. However, I've spent nearly my entire life in the South.

3. I do not believe that the "South will rise again."

4. I have lived in five different states: Massachusetts, Texas, Kansas, (did I mention Texas?), Georgia, and Alabama.

5. I have visited (not counting those I've merely diven through) 19 different states.

6. I have only been out of the country once — for a 10-day trip to England and France.

7. I am not named after the character Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables, but I enjoy the association.

8. I do not understand why so many people mispronounce my last name. It's pronounced just as it's written.

9. I am married to a beautiful, witty, and loving woman named Misty.

10. We met on New Year's Eve, 2002.

11. We are the proud parents of two little girls named Emily and Kendall.

12. Emily had colic and screamed nearly non-stop for her first 2½ months of life. It was the most difficult thing I've ever experienced.

13. In comparison, Kendall was an easy baby.

14. I am the older of two children.

15. I have a degree in communication arts from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

16. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on movie trailers.

17. College wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.

18. Nevertheless, my grades weren't very good.

19. I feel like I learned more than most people who had better grades, though.

20. In school I rarely took lecture notes. I've always had an easier time learning by paying attention and figuring things out instead of transcribing and memorizing.

21. I failed statistics twice — the first time because I never went to class, the second time because I never went to class, figuring, "eh, I've had this class before."

22. I used to claim that the Internet was just a fad.

23. Now I make my living on the Internet as the senior editorial producer at

24. I like my job.

25. If I wasn't in the career I'm in, I'd like to be a teacher.

26. My first job was working at a swimwear store. Basically, I got paid to read and occasionally help women try on bathing suits.

27. When I went to college I wanted to work in radio.

28. I got an internship writing news at WAHR, and for about six months I worked as a DJ.

29. I no longer want to work in radio.

30. Growing up I was always shy and reserved, especially in high school.

31. At my college orientation, a girl who I'd thought was cute came up and asked me to dance — twice. I turned her down both times and again when she asked if I wanted to accompany her and some other students to the other side of campus to play volleyball.

32. Later that evening, I realized the incredible stupidy of my actions, and I made a conscious decision to change my behavior and embrace a more outgoing personality. I consider it a defining moment in my life.

33. After my first year, I was named my university's "Most Oustanding Freshman Leader."

34. When I was elected president of the Resident Student Association, my opponent accused me of rigging the results (I didn't).

35. Students were asked to re-vote, and I won by an even greater margin.

36. I was on UAH's homecoming court one year.

37. I have never attended a football game.

38. I don't care who wins the Iron Bowl.

39. I skiped my high school prom and graduation.

40. It doesn't impress me that someone can graduate from high school. You're required by law to attend school for most of it anyway — finishing up that last bit isn't that much more.

41. I used to enjoy cooking, but gave up because my wife not only enjoys it more, but is so much better at it than I am.

42. Considering how much good food is put in front of me at home, it amazes me that I haven't gained weight since marrying Misty.

43. I don't really try to manage my weight -- I guess I just have a strong metabolism.

44. My favorite drink is milk.

45. I used to collect those milk mustache magazine ads, but there got to be to many of them. Now there's a book.

46. I cannot stand the taste of coffee, but I love the smell.

47. My only source of caffiene is chocolate.

48. I have never smoked or used recreational drugs.

49. I didn't even drink until I was 21. I'm such a prude.

50. I have never chewed gum.

51. I've never had any cavities, either. So there.

52. My teeth are straight even though I haven't had braces.

53. I wear contacts to correct for severe myopia.

54. I am physically, but not mentally, claustrophobic. Small spaces do not frighten me in the least, but my body physically shuts down.

55. This affliction prevents me from being able to snorkle, wear Halloween masks or blow up balloons.

56. I am often guilty of procrastination.

57. Most of the time, I will back-date my blog entries, catching up on things I should have written earlier.

58. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. You get food, family, and two days off from work. Also, since Christmas decorations go up and shopping commences in full force, it's like having two holidays in one.

59. My heroes include Jim Henson and Walt Disney.

60. I have been to Disney World more than a dozen times, and I may even enjoy it more now as an adult.

61. I am not interested in your rants on why you hate the Disney corporation.

62. I love animated movies and have more than 50 of them in my DVD collection (though the girls like to claim ownership of them).

63. I have seen 65 of The American Film Institute's 100 Greatest Movies (and nearly 80% of the top 50). I'm slowing working on the rest.

64. It irritates me to no end when movies are displayed in the wrong aspect ratio. You'd think that the proliferation of widescreen TVs would have solved this problem, but it's only made it worse.

65. When I go to the movies, I am very picky about picture and sound quality.

66. I have been known to yell at people who allow their cell phones to ring in movie theatres.

67. I managed to make it until September, 2009 before finally getting my own cell phone.

68. I don't like to channel surf while watching television.

69. However, I'm sucker for home improvement shows and reality TV.

70. I rarely do any home improvement, though I did audition for a reality TV show once.

71. I will gladly do any of the household chores except washing the dishes.

72. I clip coupons and usually save a few dollars with them each time I buy groceries.

73. I have become adept at using coupons for products which I am not actually buying.

74. I am a stickler for proper grammar.

75. My favorite band is R.E.M. I've been to five of their concerts.

76. My favorite book is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. It really captures how I see my life. The movie is one of my favorites as well.

77. I tend to plan  to read books more often than I actually get around to reading them. Each new year I resolve to read more, but I'm lucky to finish a book each month.

78. I love comic books. They are my soap operas.

79. Unfortunately, I no longer have the time or the money to keep up with keep up with the stories month-by-month (or week-by-week). I stick with a few of my favorites and read them in graphic novel format.

80. I have attended the San Diego Comic Con a few times, and I can tell you that I'm far from the nerdiest, geekiest, or dorkiest of comic fans (actually, most of those stereotypes are unfair).

81. For 2½ years I owned a comic book store called Haven.

82. That cured me of ever again wanting to own my own business.

83. Nevertheless, I do miss the store. I don't get to visit there as much as I'd like.

84. I have always believed in God, but for a long time I was hesitant to label myself as a Christian (too many hypocritical, loud-mouthed extremists gave Christianity a bad name). It's only since Misty and I started attending church together that I've truly begun to embrace my own faith.

85. I think it's more likely that we've all got it a little bit wrong than one particular religion being absolutely right.

86. I am a firm supporter of the separation of church and state.

87. I swam competitively from the time I was in 6th grade through high school.

88. My swimming abilities were always overshadowed by my younger brother's.

89. I once had to leave swim practice early to drive my brother to the hospital. He and another teammate had been tossing a stick back and forth while running laps, and the stick ended up piercing his bottom lip. On the way to the hospital, he kept trying to stick his tongue through the hole.

90. I can touch my tongue to the tip of my nose.

91. I do not require an alarm clock to wake up on time each morning.

92. When I was a freshman in college, I got my ear pierced. It was stupid. The earing has been gone for years, but there's still a lump from where the hole was.

93. When I was in 2nd grade, I played Bambi in the school play. To hear my mother tell it, you'd think I'd played Hamlet at the Globe Theatre.

94. I drive a 2003 Volkswagon Jetta.

95. I do not know how to operate a manual transmission.

96. I once crashed my car (not the Jetta) into my neighbor's house. Never, never try to push your car out of the garage if you live on a hill.

97. I love to sing in the car.

98. When I'm alone or with my daughters, I tend to sing a lot of nonsense songs.

99. I don't know if I'll ever feel like a grown-up.

100. Life is hard, but I'm happy with mine.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

In my day...

Join me in feeling old as the children of today provide commentary on the videogames I played as a kid.

I remember when Q*bert came out and my friends and I all thought, "Wow! It's in 3-D!"

Thanks to Hubie for the link.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Better stories than mine

I don't think there's any convincing her to write a blog, but Misty continues to have some funny stories to share regarding the animal clinic where she works.

Just yesterday...

  • A woman came in asking her if any of their clients were looking to adopt a beaver.

  • Another woman wanted to know if the vet could check her neighbor's dog's poop for worms. The sample she brought in, however, was seven days old. Hearing the news that she'd need fresher poop, she said that getting it would be difficult because the dog lives 70 miles away. "You must have a lot of land," Misty replied. This comment completely baffled the woman. Still determined to get this particular poop sample checked by the vet, she asked again if Misty was sure it wasn't possible. Misty explained that as time sets in, the feces will harden, making it impossible to check for worms. "Oh, I can make it soft," the woman said. She then proceeded to squeeze the plastic baggie and mash up her poop sample.

    As usual, the stories are better when Misty tells them. But I thought they needed to be shared, even if only secondhand.
  • Sorry, ladies

    My little brother has gotten himself engaged!

    Apparently, his little vacation last week was just an excuse to set up a proposal.

    Best wishes, Jeff & Kim!

    Thursday, October 16, 2003

    Citizen bloggery

    My editor e-mailed me this today...

    An experiment in citizen blogging is underway at, the online division of Advance Publications Inc., publisher of newspapers, magazines and Web sites (including and The company has introduced citizen bloggers at two of its local-news sites, and If the concept pans out, it may be expanded to other Advance sites.

    A few community members have been invited to write and maintain their own personal blogs on specific local-interest topics in the site's blogging sections. Advance isn't running a blog-hosting service where anyone can have a blog; rather, this is a more selective strategy of vetting who can blog as part of their news sites. The idea is to expand the depth of local news on and (call it "hyper-local" journalism) — and offer consumers a more personal local-news experience than what you typically get from a newspaper or local-news Web site.

    I think this is a pretty nice feature. Since is an affilliate of Advance, maybe Alabama will see this sort of thing soon.

    What do y'all think about it?

    Tuesday, October 14, 2003

    Pulling out the grammar smock

    OK, grammar... I'm a big fan of grammar, and it irks me that people abuse it so casually. I've even gone so far as to compose a list of my grammatical pet peeves on my Web site.

    I had a good English teacher in high school. Mrs. Buice forced grammar lessons upon us whether we wanted them or not (and, of course, we didn't). We knew whenever a grammar lesson was imminent because our teacher would be wearing what she called her "grammar smock." We'd groan and resist, but look at me now — I can write coherent sentences.

    Mrs. Buice instilled a fear in us that English 101 was designed to weed out students who didn't belong in college. As Sugarmama pointed out in her blog today, the professor in a freshman English class doesn't have time to teach you something you should have learned long before. Instead of holding your hand through grammar lessons, we were told, college professors would simply fail you if you turned in a paper rife with errors.

    Unfortunately, this is not the case. It's true that most professors won't bother to take the time to go back and re-teach grammar. Simply flunking students, however, would lead to lower retention rates. Instead, inept students are allowed to coast by, shuffled along until they're someone else's problem. Now, out in the professional world, those people who never learned high school-level grammar are inflicting their warped speech and writing on the rest of us.

    Part of me wants to say, "big deal — there are editors for that sort of thing." But I've been an editor (I still am, in some sense), and I would much rather fine-tune someone's style than fix elementary errors.

    Not everyone has the luxury of an editor, though. And when you're the person who's making those grammatical errors, you probably don't know you're making them. As such, people end up sounding ignorant without even knowing it. Of course, they only sound ignorant to those of us who know the rules. I cringe at the thought of someone from my company sending out an e-mail that doesn't adhere to proper grammar. Someone else is going to read that and form a poor impression of our company.

    Many will argue that grammar is a minor issue. So long as the message is conveyed, your goal has been reached. Yes, I understand what someone means when they say "we might could lose weight if we ate less candy bar's everyday," but I stumble on it nonetheless. I know that I'm not the norm. Most people probably won't take note of the slip, and of those who do, most won't care.

    So, no, not everyone will think you sound stupid for making grammatical errors. But someone  will. On the other hand, no one  will accuse you of ignorance for getting it right.

    Unwanted houseguests

    Misty has just reported her suspicions that we have a mouse in our house. She says it sounds like something's running around inside the walls.

    I'm inclined to accept that we probably are sharing our home with a mouse.

    Last night, upon draining the sink after washing the dishes, water started pouring into the cabinet below. The PVC pipe had somehow disloged itself. I used this as an opportunity to clean the gunk out of the pipe, but when I put it back together, I found that there were no grooves with wich to screw it in. It just plugs into the next piece, and it comes apart easily. Brilliant bit of engineering there.

    We moved out all the "cleaners and cleansers and shit" from under the sink and proceeded to sop up the mess with a towel. At the back of the cabinet, I noticed what looked like a leaf or a dead bug or something. Just before I picked it up, I realized it was the carcass of a mouse. I decided not to pick it up with my bare hands after all.

    If there are mice in the house, I don't know what we're going to be able to do about it. If we set out traps or poison, the dogs will surely get into it.

    I think this should be Saturn's job. She catches bugs all the time. She even caught a bird in mid-flight that had found its way onto the back porch. She should be able to outwit and capture a mouse.

    Monday, October 13, 2003

    The way to a man's heart...

    For dinner tonight, Misty made gorgonzola & apple pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes. Last night, she made smoked sausages with roasted potatoes, carrots, and corn on the cobb. Lined up for tomorrow is butternut squash soup. Later in the week will be chicken piccata with pasta and pesto sauce, then country ham and macaroni casserole. She's got so much lined up on her menu that I don't know when we're going to get a chance to actually eat leftovers.

    I am marrying a good cook.

    Speaking of getting married, it's just starting to set in that our wedding is barely more than a month away. It won't be the typical wedding though — we've each done that before. We're eloping, only not in the strictest sense of the word, since it's planned, and our families and friends know about it. We're just not inviting anyone. We'll likely have a party to celebrate afterward instead.

    A few days ago, Misty and I went to Levy's where we found an engagement ring. It's a beautiful piece from the 1930s. The resizing will take a couple weeks. After that, we can finally consider ourselves "officially" engaged.

    I am looking forward to being able to call Misty my fiancé instead of my girlfriend. Even more so, I'm looking forward to being able to call her my wife.

    Where's Wesley Willis when you need him?

    There is a bat flying around my front yard.

    Halloween season is officially here.

    Thursday, October 09, 2003

    'Matt' is just so boring

    According to Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants, my new name will be Tootie Chickenshorts. I'll be heading to the courthouse this afternoon to make the necessary changes. If Misty and I run into trouble naming our baby, this book seems to be a good place to turn to.

    This important information was shared with me by Lumpy Bubblebrain.


    After much struggle, my official Weblog, Get on with Your Nightlife, launched today. I anticipate that much of it will mirror the stuff I post here, but I'm not going to abandon Blogger. Over there, I'll have to stick to a central topic (entertainment events), but here I have the freedom to ramble about whatever I want.

    Anyway, please visit Get on with Your Nightlife often — especially if you live in Alabama. It would be nice to see my work justified with a healthy readership.

    Wednesday, October 08, 2003

    Georgia on my mind

    I'm in Atlanta today. My brother Jeff and his girlfriend Kim are taking a short vacation, and they stopped by my parents' house on their way to South Carolina. I hadn't seen Jeff since last Christmas, I'd not yet met Kim, and Misty had never met either of them, so we drove over to Atlanta last night.

    The trip took longer than I anticipated. Construction along I-20 and missing the exit for that road didn't help any. We got here around 10 p.m. Luckily, everyone was still up watching the Cubs/Marlins game. We saw Sammy Sosa hit a 9th inning 2-run homer to tie the game only for the Cubs to lose in the 11th.

    This morning I got up early and sat on the porch swing reading the paper. It was the first time in ages that I've actually been able to read the paper and not have it be related to work. I gorged myself on homemade raisin bread which my mom baked.

    Jeff, Kim, and Dad went off to climb Stone Mountain this afternoon, but we opted out, considering Misty's "delicate condition." Instead Misty, Mom, and I went to Tribble Mill Park and walked through the trails in the woods. We hiked back to where we found the remnants of the old mill alongside the creek. It was pretty nifty.

    Now dinnertime is approaching. Jeff is grilling pork loin while Misty is making mashed potatoes. My cooking skills don't venture far beyond dessert, and there are already plenty of cookies, so I have no assignments. Instead, I have time to sit around and blog.

    I know I'm going to miss owning my store, but this certainly was a much more relaxing way to spend my weekend than to drive up to Huntsville and run things there.

    I'm outnumbered

    Sugar, Mr. Poon? directed me to an interesting survey...

    According to Perseus, women outnumber men in the blogging world by about 10%. The same survey indicates that men are more likely to abandon their blogs than women. Blogs in general are abandoned at a very high rate — around 66% that have been created haven't been updated for at least two months. Of those who do maintain their blogs, most only post updates at an average of once every two weeks.

    I hope I don't join these demographics.

    Monday, October 06, 2003

    The Axis of Weevil

    In reading Webgrits this afternoon, I learned that its author has been inducted into Possomblog's Axis of Weevil. As it turns out, so have I! I don't know what I did to find myself among this elite group, but I am honored.

    Black to school special

    I finally made it out to a movie last night. School of Rock does indeed live up to all the praise critics have been heaping on it. It's got a formulaic plot that doesn't stick to the formula. So while you get something safe and comforting, it's fresh and hip at the same time.

    Parents and teachers could take a lesson from Jack Black's character: The kids in the movie like and respect him because he asserts himself as an authority figure without ever condescending to them. The unncessary PG-13 rating might suggest otherwise, but this is really a family film. Black is hilarious, but the kids shine just as brightly as him. They're cute, they're funny, they're endearing, and they act like kids really act.

    Is the movie realistic? Of course not. But we don't go to the movies for realism; we go for escapism. Beyond being funny, School of Rock is just plain fun.

    Sunday, October 05, 2003

    Sugar and spice bad for marriage

    Do daughters cause divorce? Slate reports that married couples with a daughter are more likely to divorce than couples with a son.

    Maybe repainting the pink bedroom wouldn't be so bad after all...

    Mad about babies

    I finished reading Paul Reiser's Babyhood last night. It was generally amusing and certainly a nice change of pace from the other point-by-point sort of baby books I've been reading lately.

    Reiser's main theme in the book seems to be that babies are stressful (though cute). He describes loss of freedom, sleepless nights, paternal ineptitude, constant worry, and more. Of course, he does this in a humorous fashion, so it doesn't end up sounding too  bad, but the whole process still sounds pretty scary, nonetheless.

    What strikes me is this: Who's going to read a book about babies and childbirth aside from expecting parents? If I'd read such a book months ago, it might have stood as a warning. However, since I picked it up after  learning of Misty's pregnancy, it reads instead as "look what you've gotten yourself into."

    Our baby had better be incredibly cute or something to make up for all the other commotion it's apparently going to cause.

    Saturday, October 04, 2003

    Lost amid the cornstalks

    Last night Misty and I went to the Cornfield MAiZE in Locust Fork. The haunted version of the maze had just started, so Misty's grip on my hand got tighter and tighter as eerie noises rustled through the corn and spooks jumped out at us. We made it through relatively quickly — I think we only had to backtrack twice. This is the fourth year in a row that I've visited the corn MAiZE, and it remains one of my favorite Halloween attractions.

    Friday, October 03, 2003

    Giant Keanu

    Hubie didn't know this. And since Hubie is in-the-know when it comes to entertainment things, I figured I'd better post it to spread the word just a little bit more...

    Matrix Reloaded is currently playing at the Huntsville IMAX theater. Furthermore, Matrix Revolutions will open at the Huntsville IMAX theater at midnight on Nov. 4 — the same day it opens in regular theaters everywhere.


    Thursday, October 02, 2003

    Justice too late

    According to an article from E! Online News, Oscar screener DVDs and tapes are no longer going to be sent out to Academy members. Now, they'll have to watch the movies in theatres like the rest of us.

    If only this had happened five years ago, Saving Private Ryan would have won Best Picture instead of Shakespeare in Love.