Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Why I don't watch football

Today in The Birmingham News: Dad pulls gun on son after UA loss

I'd shake my head and say "only in Alabama," but if the game had gone the other way, it would probably be some poor kid in Arkansas we'd be reading about instead.

Alabama blogging community

For the past few weeks, I've been working on a project that some of you have already noticed.

At al.com, we have a Weblogs page where we link to a few locally-oriented blogs and host a few of our own. In attempting to add some diversity to our locals list, I began digging up blogs from all over the state. After a few days of searching, I'd found more than 50 and submitted them to my editor. He suggested that I whittle down the list and link to the best sites. This was difficult to do because I kept finding more and more Alabama-based blogs, and there were a lot of really good ones. I added about a dozen to the original page and proceeded to compile a massive list of over 100 weblogs to be linked from there. This past Sunday, I posted the new, extended list and put a little al.com - Alabama Weblogs button in my own blog's side bar so I could show my editor what I had in mind. Before he even saw it though, some people had already found it and linked it in their own blogs. Luckily, the project was approved.

Anyway, please visit al.com's Alabama Webloggers list and check out some of your neighbors' pages. If you'd like your blog added to the list, just let us know.

Haven's fate

I finally have an offer from someone to buy Haven. It's not an offer I'm thrilled with, but it's an offer nonetheless. I'm going to lose a lot of money in the deal, but at least it's money that has already been spent — I won't have to face the threat of spending more.

I hate the thought of giving up my store, but it's simply something I can't cling to any longer. Moving to Birmingham made it hard enough to keep up with things there, but with a baby on the way I'll be able to devote even less time to it. Haven requires and deserves a lot of time and energy to keep it running well, and unfortunately, I'm unable to give those things anymore.

We worked hard at putting Haven together and keeping it growing. I hope those who have appreciated our efforts will continue to enjoy the atmosphere brought on by new ownership.

Moving on from here is scary. In a sense, I'm starting from scratch. But others have done it, so I can too. After going through a divorce, getting transferred, selling my house, and finding out I've got a child on the way — all within the past year — I've grown accustomed to dealing with stressful situations.

Come to think of it, today is the one-year anniversary of my divorce, which also would have been the three-year anniversary of my marriage. Today seems like a good day to move on.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

The Book of Lego

The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly has a small feature on a new book that I'm anxious to check out. The Brick Testament, by Brendan Powell Smith uses Lego bricks to depict stories from the Book of Genesis. It's amazing what this guy has put together.

Genesis 2:21

His website offers even more. Beyond Genesis, it has stories from Exodus, the Gospels, Acts, and several others, all told with Legos.

John may, er... maybe not

Well, Misty and I had  planned on seeing John Mayer when he comes to town in November. However, I just went to Ticketmaster to get tickets, and it was going to cost $93.30 for a pair!

To be fair, I've paid such ridiculously high prices for concert tickets before. But when I pay that much, I expect it to be for either a major  act (U2, Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, etc.) or one hell of a spectacle show. John Mayer fits neither of these criteria. He's good, but he hasn't established himself as a mainstay heavy hitter yet. And I seriously doubt there's going to be any grand spectacle at his show.

Oddly enough, tickets don't appear to be that expesive. They're listed at only $33 each. So two tickets should be $66. Once Ticketmaster is finished with you, though, you're suddenly paying an extra $27.30. You could almost buy another ticket for that! Well, except that you'd need an extra $13.65 for the Ticketmaster gestapo.

Considering that tickets to recent concerts from R.E.M. and Tom Petty could be had for as little as $10-$15, I think we'll hold off on John Mayer.

Alabama's California complex

Jumping on the recall bandwagon, there is now a group of Alabamians striving to recall Gov. Riley.


He proposed an idea to fix our state's budget. We voted on it. The vote failed. Let's see if he graciously accepts defeat and goes about running Alabama's government (unlike Siegelman) before we jump to the most dramatic conclusion possible.

With knee-jerk reactionists like this, it's no wonder our country's divorce rate is so high. Something goes wrong, and we immediately swing to undo it all.

Of course, if Alabama does decide to recall our governor, we could have Charles Barkley, Courtney Cox, Emmylou Harris, and Ruben Studdard running for the office. Wouldn't that be a treat?

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Ending the day on a high note

Yesterday was a good day. Things kicked off with a drive to Huntsville for a half-day at Haven. I met with two potential buyers for the store, and I am hoping to have offers from each of them by Monday. I have no doubt that I'm going to get far less than I'd like, but I came to terms with that a while ago. At least it looks promising that the store may sell instead of having to close.

On the round trip to Huntsville and back, I listened to various R.E.M. bootlegs to get in the mood for the concert. I even managed to catch "Bad Day" on the radio three times while switching CDs. My spirits were high.

Misty and I gave ourselves plenty of time to get to the concert, but that effort was foiled when I realized 10 minutes down the road that I'd left the tickets at home. Ugh. First setback. When we made it to Oak Mountain State Park, we kept driving and driving, and couldn't find the amphitheatre. It was obvious we'd gone too far, so I stopped and asked a park employee. Turns out we'd passed it a while back. Ach! Second setback. Heading back the way we came, we found where we should have turned. To my surprise, we hadn't overlooked the signs — there were no signs. Despite the delays, though, we managed to make it before any of the music started.

Sparklehorse opened the show. I'd heard their music before, and as such, wasn't excited about seeing them. Their performance last night didn't improve my opinion. Every one of their songs was a nothing but a chorus. They'd sing a line or verse and just repeat it over and over throughout the song. Also on nearly every song, the singer used a taped-up mic to distort his voice. I don't know whether they thought this was their cute little trademark (it's not, every band does this) or whether it was just the best way to hide a lack of singing talent (he might have sounded great, but I had no way of knowing). The tunes were nice, but nothing too catchy.

When R.E.M. took the stage, it was immediately apparent that these guys are rock stars. Nevertheless, it's nice to see a band with such clout maintain a down-to-earth attitude. Having seen them in concert a few times before, I must admit some of the excitement has drained for me, but the show was still thoroughly enjoyable. The setlist alone made the night a memorable one. We got to hear plenty of the tunes we've loved over the years...

Begin the Begin
These Days
Driver 8
Fall on Me
I've Been High
Bad Day
Imitation of Life
The Great Beyond
Don't Go Back to Rockville
Exhuming McCarthy
Losing My Religion
Rind the River
She Just Wants to Be
Walk Unafraid
Man on the Moon
Everybody Hurts
The Final Straw
The One I Love
Radio Free Europe
It's the End of the World as We Know It

Now, don't you wish you'd been there?

Fantastic artist

I just read in Rich Johnston's Lying in the Gutters column that Steve McNiven will be drawing Fantastic Four beginning with issue #509. On one hand, I'm thrilled to see McNiven move to such a popular title. On the other hand, I've never enjoyed FF (even when Mark Waid was writing — I tried), so I probably won't read it.

When I first heard that McNiven was leaving Meridian, I was worried. His artwork has really defined that series. But when I met the new penciller, Vincenzo Cucca, in San Diego this summer, all worries were dispelled. Not only is are his drawings gorgeous, but he'll be paired with inker Don Hillsman, one of the coolest guys in comics. It looks like Meridian will remain one of the best comics on the shelves.

Call blocking blocked by blockhead

U.S. District Judge Lee R.West has just made my shitlist. He's the person responsible for stopping the National Do Not Call Registry that more than 50 million people have signed up for.

Political cartoonist Scott Stantis has a good take on the issue...

Monday, September 22, 2003

What was old is 'new' again

I finally heard the "new" R.E.M. single "Bad Day" on the radio this weekend. Oddly enough, I was able to sing along despite this being the first time I'd heard it. Or was it?

I went home and riffled through an old box of cassette tapes to see if I could quell the nagging suspicion in my mind. Sure enough, on a bootleg from 1985 I found the same song. Now, I can't be certain that "Bad Day" is quite that old. Often times, people will include extra songs to fill up the rest of the tape on bootlegs. However, since I've had this tape since I was in high school, I can be certain that the song has been around for at least 10 years.

Likewise, the song "All the Right Friends" from the "Vanilla Sky" soundtrack, is another oldie. I found it on a bootleg from 1982.

It's nice to finally hear clean recorings of these songs though.

Placing bets early

I keep hearing raves about the new movie "Lost in Translation," and I'm glad that it's making its way to Birmingham next weekend. Bill Murray has always been funny, but since seeing him in films like "Rushmore" and "Ed Wood," I've been further impressed that he can act.  This is not to say that comedians in general can't  act, but rather, that Murray is just so good.

Considering that "Lost in Translation" is one of the best-reviewed movies thus far this year (if not the  best-reviewed — such statistics are difficult to calculate), there is now a solid lineup of best-picture contenders for the Oscars.

  • American Splendor
  • Finding Nemo
  • Lost in Translation
  • Seabiscuit
  • The Return of the King

    Of course there are three months worth of movies yet to come, and some of the best Oscar fare often debuts in December, but I like this lineup.

    "Splendor" and "Translation" give the art affecionadoes something to croon over, while "Finding Nemo" and "Return of the King" (and even "Seabiscuit" to a lesser degree) are the blockbuster hits. It's evenly balanced.

    "Nemo" is universally adored. It's the highest-grossing movie of the year and critics lauded it with praise. It would be no surprise if it became the second animated feature ever to be nominated for best picture. "Seabiscuit" appears to be another shoe-in. Like boxing, the Hollywood community just loves horseracing. It's the patriotic choice en-lieu of a war movie. "Splendor" is another movie that all the critics seem to love, and the fact that comic books have exploded into popular culture over the past couple years gives it an additional edge. And while "Return of the King" won't open until December, so I have no idea what the critical or public reaction will be, I'm confident that it will follow its predecessors and work its way into the lineup.

    Of the movies on my list, "Splendor" and "Translation" have the greatest chance of being knocked off. They're just the two best-reviewed movies at the moment.  Next month, there could be another pair that the critics embrace. The other three movies, though, have solidified themselves with box office receipts, so their inclusion on the list is a safer bet.

    Only five more months to go before we find out just how far off base my list really is.
  • Friday, September 19, 2003

    The blog that doesn't exist

    For some time now, I have been trying to convince Misty to start her own blog. She is frequently sharing amusing anecdotes with me, then telling me that "you should write about that in your blog." But they aren't my thoughts; they aren't my experiences. They're hers. So I think she  should write about them.

    Here's some of what you would have heard about this week...

  • a client who, after hearing a reccomendation that she have her cat vaccinated for feline AIDS, informed Misty, "Oh, we won't need that. I live in Mountain Brook."

  • a woman who came in crying with a "Return of the Jedi" lunch box containing her pet rat to be euthanized

  • a caller who wanted to check prices because his pit bull's "privates" had been "either bit or cut off"

  • a caller who wanted the vet's advice on what to do about a racoon bite (but who refused to listen to Misty when informed she'd need to speak to a "people doctor")

  • a client who brought a flying squirrel in for treatment of a chipped tooth

    When I write about this stuff, probably doesn't seem that interesting, but believe me, these are some good stories. Misty is much funnier than I am. But unfortunately, she ain't bloggin'.
  • Episode VI: Return of the Jetta

    My car is back! A few days ago I was finally able to bring it in for repairs from the accident I had way back in the middle of July. I am pleased that the body shop was able to fix it so quickly. They gave my car a new headlight (which I didn't realize it needed) and a new hub cap, and they painted and buffed the bumper so it looks brand new. All this for the bargain price of $890. Thank goodness for State Farm.

    A very Kobe Christmas

    At Hallmark the other day, I saw this Christmas ornament.

    Kinda creepy now, isn't it?

    Hungry and cranky

    I'm sitting at work right now, frustrated that I can't leave for lunch. I was supposed to put together the midday package on our home page focusing on this weekend's Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival, but I needed a graphic to go with it. However, for some stupid reason, as mere producer, I am not supposed to design graphics on my own. Instead, I have to send a graphics request to the design team in New Jersey.

    I filled out the bureaucratic little form with explicit detail on how I wanted the graphic to look, and I included all the pieces they'd need to put it together. I'm just missing one piece that I know they already have. It should take them about 2 minutes to design this damned thing. Of course, it's been almost two hours now, and I'm still waiting. I've published my own confederate graphic in the meantime, but if they e-mail me theirs and it doesn't go up immediately, they'll bitch about it. Everyone else in the office has gone to lunch, so I'm stuck waiting.

    Update: 10 minutes after posting, the coveted Sidewalk graphic arrived. Also, Misty brought me lunch from Sam's (the restaurant, not the wholesale club) because she is le girlfriend extraordinaire.

    Thursday, September 18, 2003

    Enter: The penguin

    Opus returns November 23! E-mail The Birmingham News (or whatever your local newspaper is) now to ask them to carry the strip.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2003

    TV installation woes - the exciting conclusion

    I spent plenty of time reading blogs on my day off yesterday, but I forgot to actually write in my own. The soft glow of the television lured me away.

    Yes, we finally have television at home now. The Dish Network guys got us hooked up a couple days ago. And, of course, it was a fiasco...

    They were scheduled to arrive between 8 a.m. and noon. We got a message the night before that they'd be there between 8 and 10 a.m. Misty called at 11:00. and was "guaranteed" they'd be there by noon. At 1:00, she called again. This time, they "guaranteed" her they'd be there by 4 p.m. If not, they said, she should call immediately and ask to speak with a superviser. At 4:05, she made that call. The superviser "guaranteed" that someone would be at the house by 5:15 and that he'd personally come along. At 5:35, the superviser showed up. The regular installation guy arrived about 10 minutes later.

    The first thing they told us was that our wiring was substandard and that it wouldn't support satellite feed. I think they would have preferred to just go home and let us call an electrician, but we were none too keen on that plan, so they had to run their own wiring. Unfortunately, the two spots in the house best suited for televisions are not two spots that can be wired easily. Neither could be accessed from the attic, so the installation guys had to run cable along the outside of the house and drill holes in.

    After 7½ hours of delays and 2½ hours of work, they got the job done, and our television unleashed its glorious light.

    Monday, September 15, 2003

    It's not easy being green

    Misty and I ate lunch at Anchorage today. At the table next to us, we heard a woman order fried green tomatoes, green lima beans, collard greens, and grean beans. I think she would have ordered green eggs & ham too if it had been on the menu.

    Looking like an idiot, and you no longer care

    I hate what I'm about do do here. But I'm going to do it anyway.

    Mary Colurso had the gall to pen a negative review of a Jimmy Buffett concert once, and she caught hell for it from the Parrotheads. I know because a lot of them e-mailed me, thinking they'd reach The Birmingham News through al.com. She got so much negative mail that she even turned her column the following week into a story about it, sharing some of the more colorful letters. The fans who wrote in all ended up sounding like idots.

    Now J.R. Taylor of the Black & White has written a nasty preview of the upcoming R.E.M. concert in Birmingham. And since the Athens boys are my favorites, I'm going to leap to their defense and probably sound like an idiot, myself.

    Taylor claims, "the vast majority of fans haven't really cared about anything R.E.M. has recorded since 1992." Not true. 1994's Monster sold like crazy. And, though the band didn't like it, 1998's Up remains one of my favorite albums. In '99 they did the music for the Man on the Moon soundtrack, and MTV and VH1 played "The Great Beyond" in heavy rotation. When Reveal came out in 2001, I thought interest had waned — until I played "Imitation of Life" at Haven and witnessed more than a dozen people singing along.

    The author goes on to say, "Pete Buck still drinks and plays too much [and] Mike Mills remains the only talented member." I assume he's referring to Buck's arrest two years ago when he was accused of drunkeness on an airline, disorderly conduct, and assault. At his trial, he was found not guilty and cleared of all charges. What other "too much" drinking is he supposedly doing? And since when did consumption of alchohol have anything to do with musical talent?

    As for Mills being the only talented member of the band, that's nonsense. The other two members have plenty of talent themselves, Buck as a guitarist and Stipe as a lyricist. R.E.M. have always prided themselves on being a singular unit, not a collection of individuals. The group has never risen or fallen on the merits of one member.

    So, if you too think J.R. Taylor is full of crap, go buy your tickets for next week's show. You can get them for as low as $15.

    At least I didn't write, "you criticized my favorite band, so you suck! "

    Office hauntings

    The television in our office just turned itself on. Our best guess is that the microwave caused this to happen (since the TV sits on top of the microwave). What else is the microwave doing that we don't know about?

    Our child, the MTV star

    And now, nearly two weeks after our visit to the obstetrician, I present sonogram picture #2...

    The Kid

    Our thoughts: Wow, that kid's head is big! It's nearly the same size as the rest of its entire body!

    Apparently, this will be our child...

    what the future holds

    Sunday, September 14, 2003

    TV installation woes - part 3

    The Dish Network guy is supposed to come today to hook up our TV. Considering how previous appointments have gone, I'm not surprised that today's isn't faring much better.

    We were scheduled for installation between 8 a.m. and noon. The guy even called last night and left a message that he'd be at the house between 8 and 10 a.m. It's around 2:30 now, and he hasn't shown up yet. Misty has called a few times getting progress reports, and they have "guaranteed" us that someone will be there between 4 and 5 this afternoon.

    What I don't understand is why cable/satellite companies don't bend over backwards to get you connected to their services in a hurry. Shouldn't they want  us to start paying them?

    Cheap snacks

    On the way home from work yesterday, Misty and I stopped at the Shell station next to the animal clinic to partake in their "grand opening." They had hot dogs, popcorn, sodas, and sno-cones for 25¢ each. We'd already had lunch, so we weren't quite hungry enough to fully take advantage of the cheap food, but it was fun to fill our bellies for only 75¢.

    Misty remarked that she was surprised that they could afford to sell the food at such a low price. I pointed out that sometimes establishments will give out free  hot dogs and such at grand opening events. In fact, I've seen that happen a lot — I just don't pay it much attention.

    That's what's odd about this situation. If Shell had been offering free hot dogs and such as part of their promotional event, I probably wouldn't have bothered. However, by selling them at such a low price, I felt like I was getting a deal. I wonder if other people's minds work the same way?

    Saturday, September 13, 2003

    Halloween is good for you

    Misty gave me a couple "fun size" candy bars when I dropped her off at work this morning (we carpool — you should, too). I ate them a few minutes ago, and they got me started thinking about Halloween.

    I like Halloween. Like Christmas, it's become a season instead of just a single day. All through October, there are pumpkin patches, hayrides, haunted houses, costume parties, and more to partake in. People decorate their houses, and everything is festive.

    I'm particularly looking forward to getting lost in the cornfield MAiZE and getting scared at Sloss Fright Furnace. I'm also excited about the prospect of actually having trick-or-treaters come to my door this year, now that I'm living in a neighborhood that has more than four kids.

    We won't be greeting trick-or-treaters this year though, nor will we be going trick-or-treating ourselves. Instead, we'll be driving up to Huntsville to see Jerry Seinfeld. I missed his stand-up performance in Birmingham earlier this year, so I was very pleased to get tickets to the Huntsville show yesterday.

    Misty, however, does not yet know that I bought us tickets. Actually, I doubt she even knows about the event at all. We'll see how long it takes her to find out.

    Anyway, back to Halloween...

    It's a fun holiday. All these ultra-conservative Christians who claim Halloween is evil are just crazy. It may have been celebrated as "the devil's holiday" hundreds of years ago, but as times have changed, the meaning of Halloween has, too. These days it's just a source of good-natured frights and candy for kids (of all ages). There isn't anyone offering up human sacrifices to Beelzebub (I watched The 'Burbs last night). The only ones who still make a connection between Halloween and the devil are the loud-mouthed religious idiots who are trying to "save" us from it. Personally, I think they're the real devils. I wish they'd shut up and let the rest of us enjoy our candy.

    Nonsensical nightmares

    I had a string of nightmares Thursday night. I'd have one, wake up, try to settle my mind, go back to sleep, have another one, wake up, etc. I ended up getting only a coulple hours of rest, so I went to work late Friday morning.

    Upon attempting to explain my dreams to other people, they may not seem like nightmares, but trust me, they were. Each was based around a task I was unable to accomplish. It was either an exceedingly simple task that was somehow insurmountable in the dream (like tying my shoelaces) or a nonsense task that I'd try to sort out even though doing so should have been obviously impossible (like making an antelope sprout grapefruit). They were all very unsettling.

    In one dream, Misty and I were unable to name our baby. I don't mean that we couldn't decide  on a name — I mean we literally couldn't name it. We were trying to figure out how, and it seemed we'd have to undertake a series of quests in order to secure a name. It was as if some curse had befuddled us.

    Another dream had me trying to make a deposit at the bank, and I couldn't see how I was going to manage to do it. I knew how — it just seemed like it was something I'd never be able to accomplish.

    I can't remember the nonsense dreams, but I've had them before, and they're the worst. It's like trying to add 2+2, knowing  the answer is 3, yet being unable to arrive at anything but 4. When I wake from this type of dream, I find myself continuing to try to sort them out. But in a state of half sleep, I fail to recognize that the tasks are nonsense, so I keep struggling with them even after the dream is over. I have to fully wake up in order to clear my head. But after doing that, it takes a while to get back to sleep.

    I've heard that food can sometimes effect dreams, and I've decided that such a notion is true. Since my nightmares were accompanied by headache, heartburn, and other internal unpleasantries, I have attribuited them to something I ate during the day. The slice of Tombstone Pizza I had for dinner seems the most likely culprit. Its name says it all.

    Thursday, September 11, 2003

    Catching up

    Haven't had much time for posting today because I've been catching up at work following my vacation. Of course, I need to catch up on my blogging too, so here are a few brief highlights to tide you over...

    I enjoyed my trip to the beach. We saw lots of sting rays. Several of them swam along next to me. One morning we watched dolphins jumping in the waves for about 30 minutes. More about the beach later.

    Jeff has stepped down as manager at Haven. That's a relief since I was probably going to have to ask him to do so anyway. Ultimate Josh gets to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming manager now. Hooray!

    The usual nonsense is going on in ChatXtra. People keep sending me complaints about whatever transpired over the weekend, but they don't seem to understand that I just don't care!  Here's a rule of thumb — if you're a chatter, I hate you. No, you aren't the exception. I hate you, too. I even hate me when I chat.

    Tonight I am going to give my car a bath and watch Sleeping Beauty.

    Clean underwear

    Hooray, The Underwear Drawer is back! Actually, from the looks of things, it was never gone. Michelle just moved the Drawer and didn't tell us.

    Thursday, September 04, 2003

    Selective generosity

    So... Anybody like Ruben? Anybody want free tickets to see him in concert tomorrow night at the BJCC? I have 2 pair of extra tickets that I am looking to give away. E-mail me if you want to go to the concert, and maybe you'll get lucky.

    Keep in mind, I ain't a radio station. I don't have to give the tickets to the first person who contacts me or the person who writes the most eloquent e-mail. I'll give them to whomever I like best. So there.

    Publishing industry to sue libraries

    On my way to work this morning, I started thinking about a parallel to the music downloading "problem."

    I finished reading The Da Vinci Code last night, so Misty was returning it to her boss, from whom we'd borrowed it. She read the book, too. Since we borrowed it from someone else, though, had we cheated the publisher, retailer, and author out of the money it would have cost us to buy it?

    This is the argument the music industry is making regarding music downloads. Supposedly, if I download a song from Kazaa, I'm stealing money from the record company, the retailer, and the artist.

    If that's the case, then it should fit for other media. And the libraries must be stopped!

    Think about it... Libraries are in the business of just loaning books out for free! You can go to a branch, check out a stack of books, read them, take them back, and never have to pay for them.

    But have book publishers suffered since Benjamin Franklin invented the library? No. We still buy books. Sometimes people like to own things despite our ability to get them for free.

    Now, don't give me some malarky about libraries only being temporary  lending services whereas music downloads are permanent. How many times are you going to read a book? Usually once. So, it doesn't matter that you have to give the book back. Once you've read it, you're done with it anyway — you're not going to buy it, and the publisher loses a potential sale.

    But were you going to buy the book in the first place? Often times not. If libraries didn't offer books for free, we'd simply read a lot less. Few could afford to purchase every book that they think looks interesting. But if there's a book that really strikes us, we'll still plunk down the cash.

    It works the same way with music. Most of the music people are downloading is stuff they're only picking up because  it's free. We may have a casual interest in a song, but not so much that we'd go out and buy the album. In these cases, record companies aren't losing any money. They can't lose  money they never would have had in the first place.

    But we probably ought to shut down all the libraries just in case.

    Back to the way things were?

    I was very pleased to read that Universal is lowering the prices of their CDs. Wholesale prices for their CDs are dropping from $12 to $9. This means that retailers can order the discs for less, and hopefully will pass that savings on to consumers. Supposedly, Universal is pushing for a $12.98 retail cap.

    I remember when the Circuit City stores around Atlanta started carrying music in the early 1990s — all of the CDs they sold were priced at $11.99 and under. Best Buy arrived on the scene soon after, and their policy was the same. Nothing was priced over $11.99 (except stuff like imports or double-disc sets, of course). That meant that when something was on sale, it was usually under $10. It was wonderful. I bought a lot more CDs back then.

    Then some of the other stores started to complain. Supposedly, they couldn't compete with such low prices and they were losing money. They filed a big lawsuit, and eventually, CD prices rose at stores like Best Buy and Circuit City.

    Now CDs retail at the ridiculous price of $18.98, and we're lucky to find them on sale for $12. And everyone's downloading music for free. I wonder why?

    Hopefully, Universal's move will set a precedent for the other record companies to lower the prices of their music as well. If that happens, we could see a return to the way things were 10 years ago. It won't put a stop to downloading, but it would likely kickstart retail sales again.

    Tuesday, September 02, 2003

    Searching for songs

    In working on a new CD for this weekend's car trip to Florida, I've been downloading music from Kazaa. I can't seem to find the two new tracks from R.E.M. that are supposedly floating around, though. Anyone have a copy of "Animal" or "Bad Day?" E-mail me and let me know. I found "The Final Straw," but the quality is very poor. I assume these going to be included on "best of" disc that's coming out in October.

    I also found "All the Right Friends" which, I am ashamed to say I didn't realize, is on the Vanilla Sky soundtrack. I hated that movie. It was entertaining enough for a while, then toward the end, I figured out what was really going on, and I thought, "oh, that's clever." ...But the movie didn't end. It kept going and explained everything again. Then it went over the details yet again. Then, in case the audience is completely dense, it screams "HERE'S THE EXPLAINATION TO THE PLOT TWIST!" By that point, I decided it really wasn't that clever in the first place. I will say this, though: Cameron Crowe always puts together phenomenal soundtracks.

    A relaxing day of chores

    I received some relieving news from Ultimate Josh this morning. Because of the Labor Day holiday, new comics are shipping Thursday this week instead of the usual Wednesday, so there's really no need for me to drive up to Huntsville to work at Haven Wednesday. Better yet, UJ has already taken care of things so Thursday is covered, too. He's a pal. It's not that I don't want to spend a day at Haven this week. I really do. I love it there. But it cuts four hours out of my day in driving alone, and with as much other stuff as I've got going on right now, I can really use the break.

    Tuesday is the only day I usually have available for household chores, so this morning I've been washing laundry and dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc. I tried to get my oil changed at Wal-Mart, but they didn't have the oil filter my car would need. I may treat the Jetta to a car wash to make up for the oil disappointment.

    Later today I'll be heading to St. Vincent's for OB GYN appointment #2. At least this time, we don't have a big question hanging over us, waiting to be answered. I anticipate a much less tense visit this time. Hopefully we'll get to see a new sonogram picture. Four weeks ago, the baby wasn't even half the size of a coffee bean, but now it's supposedly a little bigger than a plum, so it should look somewhat more human this time.

    Monday, September 01, 2003


    Here it is, Labor Day, and I'm at work. I must be fair, though. I am here by choice. My boss asked me if I'd be working, and I decided I would. This way I can use my holiday in lieu of a vacation day next week.

    My "secret" has finally been outed to the al.com ChatXtra crowd. I hadn't told any of them about Misty's pregnancy, but someone announced it in the room yesterday. I wasn't exactly keeping it hidden, but I wasn't broadcasting the news, either.

    Yes, this blog is linked from my chat profile, but until yesterday, very few had looked at it anyway. Of the few who did click the link, fewer still bothered to actually read  the blog. Hell, I've had my web site, e-mail address, and Yahoo Messenger screen name linked from my chat profile for years, and no one's ever bothered with the personal information you can garner from that stuff. I figured even though the subject is occasionally mentioned on this page, that the news of my impending fatherhood would leak out slowly, if at all. I figured I'd announce it when I was comfortable doing so.

    Oh, well. It's a moot point now.

    So, why take such a chance in the first place? Why let the chat crowd, a group of people whom I barely know, have access to my weblog? Simple. I want traffic.

    I've been trying to convince my editor that I should write a blog or two for al.com. If I can show that people are interested in reading the stuff I write about here, maybe I can sway him. Surely a blog with a focus on entertainment and events in Alabama would draw more interest than a blog about myself.

    But who knows? Maybe more people are voyueristic and would prefer to read about the daily activities of someone they don't even know. If that's where you fit in, welcome to the mundane adventures of my life.