Friday, December 31, 2004

Eliminating that nagging sensation

Answers to the music quiz have been posted below. Now you can smack your head with an exclaimation of "doh!"

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas in the hospital

This is the reason our Christmas cards are late.

We've been at Children's Hospital since Monday with Emily hooked up to oxygen. She has a virus called RSV which has led to bronchiolitis.

We're not sure when she'll be able to go home, but more details will follow whenever that is.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Quizes define me!

Penny Arcade!I usually hate posting these because they're so LiveJournal-ish, but I got a result I'm proud of (even if it's not accurate)...

You are Penny Arcade! Edgy and sarcastic, you cut through the stupid mundanity of everyday life, but mostly the world of computers and video gaming. While you are hilariously funny, no one will ever know if you never go outside. Put down the controller and get some fresh air.

If you don't get the reference, check yourself out at (I do get the reference).

What Internet phenomenon are you?

Quiz brought to you by Quizilla.
Link found via The Body Politic.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Just the distraction I needed

Chez has posted a nifty game over at Misguided Affections. I was only able to get one answer correct out of 30, and I've been gritting my teeth, wanting so badly to Google the lyrics to the songs that I'm sure I know (though obviously I don't), but that's against the rules.
The Rules:

1) On your current playlist, hit shuffle and pick the first 30 songs on the list.

2) Write down one line of the song. Try to avoid putting the song title in the line.

3) Have your friends comment and see if they know the songs. (NO CHEATING!)

4) When someone guesses correctly, strike out the line and list the correct name of the song next to it. (Title AND artist have to be correctly guessed.)

I'm bending the rules a bit by including more than one line of lyrics from each song. I'm also only posting the first 15 songs right now — my playlist at work is limited to only 100 songs or so, and I figure it will be more intersting to post the next 15 from my selection of 3000+ songs at home.

Anyway, here's my list. Have fun!

1. Hold on world 'cause you don't know what's coming / Hold on world 'cause I'm not jumping off
R.E.M. - "Around the Sun"

2. I'm the patron saint of the denial / With an angel face and a taste for suicidal
Green Day - "St. Jimmy"

3. I know my heart is being used / But what I'm not allowed to have, I never could refuse
Afghan Whigs - "Blame, etc."

4. I might be old, but I'm someone new - she said / I'm so sore that I could cry - always
Neil Finn - "She Will Have Her Way"

5. She just climbed the stage and died / Lights that rose and fell again / Songs that thinned out near the end
Buffalo Tom - "Torch Singer"

6. I'm a waste of a mama's boy / It's a shame they say this so much
Angie Aparo - "Hush"

7. It's raining like a nose bleed, cigarettes and sweets / And I feel it coming on / Bloody as the day I was born
Ryan Adams - "1975"

8. Why can't you shoulder the blame / Coz both my shoulders are heavy / From the weight of us both
Snow Patrol - "How to Be Dead"

9. You are the last drink I never should have drunk / You are the body hidden in the trunk
Pulp - "Like a Friend"

10. Looking down the shirt of a flirt in a plaid mini-skirt / When she said she was a Catholic, I told her I'd convert
Marginal Prophets - "Like This!"

11. I wish it was the '60s / I wish we could be happy / I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen
Radiohead - "The Bends"
(I thought surely someone would have gotten this one)

12. Thirteen's my lucky number / To you it means stay inside
Social Distortion - "Bad Luck"

13. They come from miles around / In avarice and love / To suckle on the blood / Of some forgotten God
David Gray - "Dead in the Water"

14. Sometimes, sometimes I see right through the scenery / The first place that's on my mind the last place I find each time
Beth Orton - "Paris Train"

15. I don't know this sea of neon / Thousand surfers, whiffs of freon
Rufus Wainwright - "California"

Update: Here are the next 15, from home this time. Some of them are a lot easier, and some of them are ridiculously difficult.

16. What can you tell them? / What can you say that won't make them defensive?
The Beach Boys - "Hang on to Your Ego"

17. I know we said goodbye / Anything else would've been confused / But I wanna see you again
Dido - "Sand in My Shoes"

18. Something I wasn't sure of / But I was in the middle of
Keane - "This is the Last Time"

19. You don't want to die / But the living gets you down
Matthew Sweet - "The Ugly Truth"

20. Does your memory stray to a brighter sunny day / When I kissed you and called you sweetheart?
Elvis Presley - Are You Lonesome Tonight?

21. And as strange as it seems / If you wish all your dreams / Will come true after all
Sugar - "Man on the Moon"
(I wouldn't have known this one — even after typing it in)

22. She stands with a naked flame / I stand with the sons of Cain / Burned by the fire of love
U2 - "In God's Country"

23. I was twenty-one years when I wrote this song / I'm twenty-two now, but I won't be for long
Paul Simon - "Leaves That Are Green"

24. I could get back up if you insist / But you'll have to ask politely
Aimee Mann - "The Fall of the World's Own Optimist"

25. If you go my way you won't go wrong / You'll find out where you really belong
Curve - "Alligators Getting Up"
(another ridiculously difficult one)

26. If I could feel / All the pins and the pricks / If you were real / I could take what's apart and put it back together
Nine Inch Nails - "Deep"

27. This is you on a bad day, you on a pale day
Morrissey - "Do Your Best and Don't Worry"

28. Can I ride with you in your BMW? / You can sail with me in my yellow submarine
Oasis - "Supersonic"

29. I'm falling all over you like a bad jacket
Possum Dixon - "Skid Marks"

30. Playing Sara-with-no-h's favorite song / La da da, la da da, la da da
Ben Folds
- "Zak and Sara"

Wednesday, December 15, 2004


I still don't really understand how it works, but Impending Distractions has an RSS feed going now, nonetheless.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Futile scribblings

I had a dream the other night in which I saw Eva Trout in concert and they closed with "Mazzie," my favorite song. When I woke up, I realized the tune was not as it should have been. That is to say: As far as I was concerned in my dream, the song was "Mazzie," but in the real world, I knew it wasn't. I couldn't sleep until I got up and wrote down the notes so I could figure out the imposter tune later.

Of course, since I can't read music, the notes are pretty meaningless.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I don't think I've mentioned here before that Misty's cousin (second cousin really, but that's not the point) has been expecting a baby. There's been some tension in the family regarding the fact that she's not married to the baby's father. Misty and I weren't married either when we learned that Emily was on the way, but this situation is an entirely different convoluted mess that I have no desire to transcribe for all the world to read. Just trust me; there's been tension.

Last night as I was reading Emily her bedtime stories we got a call from Misty's family. I didn't actually talk to anyone myself — all the information I have comes second-hand from Misty, who in turn got it from her cousin's hysterical mother — so my details may be sketchy.

Yesterday, Misty's cousin took herself to the doctor because she hadn't been feeling well and she hadn't felt the baby move for a couple days. Apparently, she'd been leaking amniotic fluid, and she was told that the baby needed to come out immediately. She underwent a c-section, and 12 weeks before his due date, Traie arrived into the world. He weighed just around 2 pounds.

Traie was brought by ambulance to Montclair hospital in Birmingham where he will likely remain for a couple of months. He has been given a 40% shot at survival. His mother has not been able to hold him.

I'm not sure how I feel about the claims of "everything happens for a reason," but if that's the case I'd say the reason was this: For this family to put aside their tension and disagreements and to love each other while they can.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Santa's 'naughty' list

We got a series of letters to Santa at over the weekend that I can't post in our Santa's Mailbag blog, but I just can't let them go unread, either.

*Names have been changed to protect the guilty.

First letter:

Dear Santa,
Erin deos not want eny thing for Christmas.....................................

From: Erin
Age: 8

Second letter:

Dear Santa,
    Please ignore the letter Shana sent you asking that her sister Erin not get any gifts. Please watch both of them closely to make sure they behave, because I agree only good kids should get gifts from you. I know they can be really good, and I hope you can bring them several things from their list.

Erin and Shana's Dad

Third letter:

Dear Santa,
I am very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very sorry for my note that I sended.


From: Shana
Age: 6

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Turkey travels

I've been in Atlanta for the past few days visiting my family. It doesn't seem so long, but I hadn't been there since last Christmas. Saturday night, I enjoyed my third Thanksgiving dinner this year, and I'm giving thanks that I've always seemed to have a high metabolism.

We got to see Jeff and Kim for the first time since their wedding. Unfortunately, they had to depart the same day we arrived, but at least we had a few hours. Jeff is really great with Emily — he's going to make a wonderful dad eventually.

Misty was all excited about going to Lennox Square, but we didn't make it. However, we did visit Discover Mills and the Mall of Georgia, both of which provided her with ample shopping enjoyment. At Discover Mills, Emily and I checked out the Lego store and watched the fish in the giant tank at the Bass Pro Shop. At the Mall of Georgia, on the other hand, Emily and I endured Misty's grueling 22-hour shoping spree (OK, it was probably more like 5 hours, but it felt much longer) that concluded with only one Christmas gift having been bought.

Last night, Misty and I met the Coffee Achiever and Cap'n Ken for dinner at Six Feet Under, a restraunt that derives its name from the fact that it sits across the street from Oakland Cemetery. I hadn't seen Kara in years, and (despite her claims) I'd never met her husband, so it was a welcome rendezvous.

On our way back to Birmingham today, we stopped for lunch at The Varsity. Misty commented that Emily's lunch was the most nutritious thing in the restaurant. Indeed my lunch was chock-full of grease, salt, grease, sugar, and more grease, but it was sooo good. Again, I give thanks for my metabolism.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Humpty Dumpty

I'm officially a bad father. Emily fell out of her crib today.

I was doing the laundry in the hallway, just a few feet from her bedroom. She was playing in her crib. I heard the thud, then, of course, the screams.

Two steps and I was in her room where I found her on her side on the floor beneath her crib. She'd pulled herself up and over the railing which had been lowered half way to make it easier for me to get her in and out. I didn't realize that she'd reached the stage where she could easily accomplish the same thing on her own.

I scooped her up immediately and held her close to me, hoping that she needed comforting more than anything. It worked. After about a minute, she stopped screaming. After another minute, she acted as if nothing had happened.

I knew I wasn't out of the woods yet, though, so I called Misty and delivered the frightening news. She was still on her way to work, so she was frantic about whether she needed to come back home. I assured her that she didn't, but that I'd just wanted her to know what had happened.

My next call was to the doctor's office. However, I didn't reach anyone for more than an hour, so in the meantime I just had to assume that I was doing everything right. Emily played on the floor with her blocks and crawled around making happy sounds, so I wasn't too worried anymore. I squeezed each of her arms and legs, her hands, and her feet and pressed on her back and chest. She gave no indicaion of pain. I even measured the height from the top of the crib railing to the floor (2 feet, 10 inches — shorter than it seemed) in case the hospital inquired about it.

When I finally reached a nurse, she asked if Emily was still upset, whether she ever lost consciousness, and what sort of surface she fell onto. I told her that she seemed fine now, she'd been conscious the whole time and that she'd fallen onto a thick rug on top of carpet. She told me that I could bring Emily in for an x-ray if I wanted, but it was really at my disgression. There's no standard procedure to follow, she said; just watch her behavior. She told me to pay attention to Emily's sleeping, making sure that she wasn't napping longer than usual. She also recommended that after putting her to bed for the night, I gently rouse her an hour or so later to make sure she's still able to maintain consciousness; then to do so again during the middle of the night. She also said to check Emily's pupils from time to time, making sure they were dialated at the same level.

Everything ended up fine, which I pretty much expected even before I'd spoken with the nurse. Nevertheless, I was relieved. Since Emily was unhurt, I'm looking at the incident as a lesson learned in how to deal with an infant who has fallen. I also learned that I need to keep the crib railing up.

Upon hearing the news of Emily's fall, Misty's mother and Aunt were oddly well spirited about it. They threw out some old wive's tale about how if a baby doesn't fall off of something before it's a year old, then it will die before it reaches two years of age. I knew that wasn't the real reason for their enthusiasm, though. A couple months ago, they'd turned their backs while Emily was crawling on a bed, and she fell off onto the floor. Now the attention was on me, and they were off the hook.

Monday, November 22, 2004


Today is the first anniversary of Misty's and my wedding. I gave her a couple dozen roses in shades of pink. I wanted to make her a boquet of origami roses since this was our paper anniversary, but the directions were unfortunately beyond my skill level.

We celebrated a couple days ago so that we'd have a babysitter available. Saturday night we dropped Emily off with Misty's mother and aunt, and we headed to Bombay Cafe for dinner. There was another couple seated near us who (despite their feble attempts to hide it) were clearly having an argument. It was amusing, but we were glad that they left soon after our arrival, as we didn't want their vibe to spoil our good mood.

As we dined, we commented on the fashion sense (or lack thereof) of various people our age walking by the windows. Misty claimed that based on the style of several of the women, she is no longer hip herself. I think that actually, she's just more mature — we're parents now, and that affects everything from how you spend your evenings to what you talk about at lunch to what you wear. Of course, I was never hip to begin with.

For dinner I ate sweet potato & onion silver dollar pancakes with soft shell crab and some sort of fish with vegetables and lobster tails. The food was delicious, and although we were amply filled even after our appetizers, we continuted to stuff ourselves. For dessert, we shared the Double Chocolate Nutball with Fresh Driscoll Strawberries (which Misty delighted in ordering just so that she could say Chocolate Nutball as many times as possible).

Following dinner, we went to the bargain theater (after Bombay Cafe, we couldn't afford a "real" movie theater). Misty let me pick the movie, and even though I knew she would have preferred "Harry Potter," I opted for "Spider-Man" because I suspected she would fall asleep — better to miss the movie she didn't want to see. I was right. Misty nodded off after about 20 minutes. She drifted in and out for the rest of the movie, continually insisting that she was watching, while at the same time, asking me to explain what was going on.

We finally made it home after midnight after picking up a zonked out Emily. It was a fun and romantic date.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Remember last week when the Russell Clinic sent my mother-in-law home, claiming they'd mailed her a letter letting her know that her appointment had been changed?

Guess what arrived in the mail today. It was postmarked yesterday.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Wait issues

I went to Best Buy today to return a couple of DVDs that I'd decided not to give as Christmas gifts after all. I didn't have the recipts anymore, but they were both marked with Best Buy stickers that had both the price and the name of the movie listed. Nevertheless, it was a major problem in exchanging them.

First, I was told that they could be returned without a recipt, only they would have to look up my history on my Discover Card. I didn't realize Best Buy kept records based on my credit card purchases, and it was kind of creepy finding out. Regardless, looking up the DVDs took a long time. I waited, and waited, and waited. While two different people were supposedly helping me, they also took phone calls, helped several other customers, and chatted with other employees.

Eventually, I'd had enough waiting, so I asked one of "customer service" people what time it was. He said it was about 11:45. Shit. I'd been standing at that counter for 35 minutes! I was supposed to take my mother-in-law to the doctor at noon, and now I was going to be late. "It's going to be just a while longer," I was told. "We found one of the movies, but we're still looking up the other one." You'd think I had a customer history a mile long (a theory my wife would probably readily accept), but I don't purchase that many things there. I finally gave up. I asked for my DVDs back and said I'd come back in a few hours to try again.

After finishing up at the doctor's office, though, I didn't return to Best Buy as I'd claimed. Instead, I went to Wal-Mart. I peeled the price stickers off the DVDs and brought them to the customer service counter. I had bought the DVDs on sale from a different store and had no recipt, yet within 60 seconds, I was handed a store credit for their full price with no questions asked.

There are a lot of reasons I hate Wal-Mart. But the ease with which customers can take advantage of them is one of the few for which I love them.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Fond childhood memories

Clearly it's not a busy day at work when we sit around discussing classic McDonald's characters and trying to think of the name of the guy who had the Big Mac for a head. Remember him? You could climb inside his head on the playground. That was back in the days when the playground sets were made of metal and would sear your skin in the hot summer sun.

Even more pathetic than our source of trepidation is the fact that it took a while before we remembered that we work on the Internet and could simply search there for the answer.

We weren't the only ones who has pondered the fate of McDonald's characters of yore. On one site, the question is posed: "Do you remember Captain Crook?" The answer was revealed the shocking truth behind his and other erstwhile characters' disappearences.
A trip to McDonaldland to research this answer uncovered a complicated web of intrigue, deception and lies. Upon arriving I felt that there was only one person around who would be easily manipulated enough to give me the answers I was looking for.

Speaking with Grimace was interesting. While he's often portrayed as a big purple dope it seems that this is just a cover for a savvy political mind. With his "I have an IQ lower than a cheeseburger" act his peers all felt that they didn't have to cover their tracks as well as they would have to around someone like the Early Bird or I.M. Hungry. ...

It turns out the name of our character in question was actually "Big Mac." McDonald's wasn't very creative back then, I suppose. Nevertheless, those were the good old days.

I'm doomed

Just a moment ago I heard on Fox News: "A new study says sitting in front of your computer screen for too long can be bad for your eyes..."

My immediate reaction: "Is eight hours a day too long?"

I'd buy that for a dollar

Just last week, I was remarking that they ought to turn that old movie theater on Lorna Rd. into a dollar theater. There hasn't been a bargain theatre in Birmingham since the one at the Colonnade closed a few years back.

Then yesterday, Misty calls me and tells me to look at the movie listings in the paper. Lo and behold, my wish has come true! The Carmike 10 is now a bargain theater! Prices are $2.50 on weekends, $1.50 on weekdays, and a mere $1 on Thursdays.

It turns out that the theater was converted a while ago, too. I should pay more attention to the listings.

Right now, they've got a handful of movies that I either missed the first time around (Shrek 2, Harry Potter 3) or wouldn't mind seeing again (Spider-Man 2, Collateral). But for $1, I'd see pretty much anything.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I'll never know what you'll find

I've always been a fan of letterboxing. It's the reason I bought a DVD player seven years ago.

I'd never heard of this type of letterboxing, though, before today. It sounds really cool. Once I get a better idea of how it works, I might give it a try.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

It's in the mail

Today I picked up my mother-in-law and drove 20 miles in the rain to the Russell Clinic. After dropping her off at the door, I circled the parking lot for almost half an hour looking for a space. Then I traversed the gauntlet from the parking lot to the hospital across the street, through a maze of corridors on various floors, finally arriving at the clinic.

As I walked toward the waiting room, I saw my mother-in-law get up and make her way toward me. She had her coat and hat on, so I assumed she was finished already. "That was fast," I remarked.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. It seems that her appointment wasn't today after all. They told her that they'd mailed her a letter informing her that her appointment had been moved to February 3.

It would be easy to blame my mother-in-law for not having this information, but I'm not going to. Maybe they sent her a letter; maybe they didn't. Maybe she got the letter; maybe she didn't. Whatever the case, that sort of communication is ridiculous in this day and age.

What sort of backward system mails a letter to give a patient a new appointment date? Why not just place a phone call? Not only would they be wasting money on postage (not to mention paper and envelopes) each time they sent such a letter, but they'd also have no confirmation that the patient ever received their correspondence.

Best of all, this is the second time this sort of incident has happened to us at the Russell Clinic. Luckily the first time though, we had been unsure of the appointment time, so we called first to confirm. Upon doing so, we were told that the appointment had been moved, and that they'd mailed a letter to let us know.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The review is built into the title

I saw "The Incredibles" this afternoon. Wow.

But was there really any doubt that I'd love this movie?

There's no point in my singing its praises because so many other legitimate critics have already done so.

I'll just say that for anyone who's thinking it's a blatant knock-off of the Fantastic Four: You're right. The last few seconds of the movie confirm it with a hilarious and respectful homage.

Yes, I'm a comic book geek, so you can call me biased, but I'm really impressed that the two best movies I've seen this year have been superhero flicks (Spider-Man 2 being the other).

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

My own caffeinated ramblings

I discovered a dangerous new enjoyment today. Misty introduced me to coffee.

I've never cared for the taste of coffee. Nevertheless, I've always wanted to like it. I love the smell, and the atmosphere created by coffee drinking — whether at home, in a coffee shop, or standing around in the kitchen at work waiting for a fresh brew — is something I've felt left out of, so I've tried to give it a chance every so often. I've sampled different types of coffee several times over the years but never with a pleasant result. I don't even like coffee-flavored ice cream or cake.

Then yesterday morning, Misty and I stopped at Starbucks where she got a tall café mocha. Despite my protests that I wouldn't like it, she insisted that I try a sip anyway.

I liked it.

It wasn't fantastic or anything, but I felt that it was a breakthrough for me to at least enjoy it.

The drawback to this revelation is that I'm sure to soon become addicted. My body isn't used to much caffeine. I don't drink soda or tea, either, so the only caffeine I get comes from chocolate. The sudden introduction of coffee into my diet could produce disasterous results.

I'll take my chances.

Bird's brain

Watching the trailer for "The Incredibles" for the umpteenth time, I thought I recognized something familiar about one of the children's voices. Not the voice, specifically, but rather, its intonations and the way the line was delivered. The "Hey! No forcefields!" line reminded me of Billy — "You stupid dumbhead clutzoid nong-nong!"

Then I started noticing the character design — particularly of the parents when they were in civilian clothes. They too, seemed very familiar. That square head with the hu-hum, stuck-here demeanor of Dad; those backward glances at her impossibly curved hips from Mom... Could it be? Skip? Beverly?

Oh my God, it is! "Incredibles" director Brad Bird not only helmed "The Iron Giant" (one of my favorite movies), but he also directed the greatest cartoon ever — "The Family Dog." My taped-from-TV copy has the credits cut off, so I never realized that Bird was responsible.

With any luck, the success of "Incredibles" will prompt whoever owns the rights to "Amazing Stories" (Dreamworks? It was a Spielberg project, after all) to finally release "The Family Dog" to DVD.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The battle for climate control

I've never understood something: If it's summertime and you want to cool off, you'll set the air conditioner at 68°. As such, I assume 68° is a comfortable temperature for you. Why then, in winter, do you set the heat at 74°? Haven't we already established that 68° falls within your comfort zone? And if 74° is suddenly comfortable, why can't the air conditioner be set there in the summer?

My roomates had similar climate control issues during my freshman year of college. Two of them liked the air to be cold enough to lure in walruses (one of them even claimed that he needed it that cold for his computer to run properly), while the other two of us preferred a more normal range.

Every day, the two roommates who lived on a steady diet of walrus fat and crushed ice (acually, it was more like chicken fingers and Dr. Pepper, but this makes for a better story) would knock the thermostat down to its lowest setting. Whenever my more sensible roommate or I found our environment in such a state, we'd knock the temperature right back in the other direction (that is, assuming our fingers had enough sensation left in them to actually feel the thermostat — sometimes we had to put our mittens on first).

After a while, we got tired of this stupid game and decided to take drastic action. We opened up the thermostat casing and, with a pair of pliers, twisted the mercury-filled temperature gauge out of alignment. Our operation caused the thermostat to "think" the room temperature was in the mid-50's when actually it was somewhere in the low-70's. Now our foes could push the lever as low as it would go, and the temperature would end up right where we wanted it.

Unfortunately, I don't think such a procedure would work for me at home today.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Spring into action!

I so badly want this hanging in my living room.

Though if I bought it, I'd probably be up feces river without a method of propulsion.

For those of you who don't get it, you should be reading

AT&T's trojan horse

We've got the sound muted on the TV at work, so I don't really know what the point was in AT&T's ad where a giant trojan horse rolls through a city. I imagined my own dialogue: "Fools! You've led us right inside your gates!"

Probably not the message they were trying to convey, but sometimes it's the feeling I get from them.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

They think they're special, or something

In flipping through the Sunday newspaper ad inserts, I'm wondering: Why is the "Shrek 2" DVD being released on a Friday instead of a Tuesday (the usual day for video releases)? What's the advantage of Friday over Tuesday, or vice versa?

Update: A little research answered my question. The suspicions in the comments were correct.

I would buy myself a gray guitar and play

Last week, upon hearing Depeche Mode's "Policy of Truth" blasting though the P.A. speakers at her local Publix, Robin posted: "I couldn't understand why the stock guys and cashiers weren't sliding down the aisles on their knees a la a Fame break-out dance scene."

This morning I stopped at the Bruno's near my house to pick up bananas and something from the bakery for breakfast. While there, I heard Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones" on the P.A. That in itself is nothing special, as "Mr. Jones" is one of those crossover songs that fits into pretty much any format. However, as I walked toward the lone open register, I passed an aisle where the stock boys were dancing and singing along with gusto. It was pretty funny.

I didn't linger to watch, but I'm sure the next song, The Jets' "Crush on You," brought them to a screeching halt.

Good morning, Emily

Much like Arizona, babies do not believe in daylight savings time.

So much for that extra hour of sleep.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Flaming idiot

Oh, I'm so excited! I've gotten my first flamer.

If you're wondering what the hell the "Anonymous Guy" is talking about (it's not like you can discern anything from his sentence structure), read the comments of this post.

Despite what AG insinuates, I'm not trying to impress that blog's author. I'm quite happily married, so I'm not really interested in joining the dating circuit. Of course, anyone who gives a cursory glance to Impending Distractions can pretty easily discern that fact, but as trolls can't write, I suppose they can't read, either.

Rather, Jennifer is my friend and co-worker (the one with whom I auditioned for The Amazing Race). I helped her set up a blog after hearing about her experience with the It's Just Lunch people ($1,500! Can you believe that?). I thought that such stories would make for good blog fodder and that maybe she could even use her site as an avenue in her dating search. After all, most of the bloggers I've encountered are intelligent, discerning, articulate, and friendly. They've got interesting things to discuss, and they write about those things with passion.

Sorry, Jen. I forgot about the trolls. Don't let their stupidity reflect on the rest of us.


It's too hot in this t-shirt.
It's too cold without a blanket.
My pillow is flat.
Misty is poking me with her elbows.
She's breathing right into my face.
The dog won't quit licking herself.
The baby monitor is turned up too loud.
This Alavert doesn't work worth a damn.

All of the above and none of the above. I've only managed to sleep for three hours, and something is driving me crazy. I just can't seem to pinpoint whatever it is.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Incredible Sith

As if I wasn't already excited enough about seeing "The Incredibles," now there's this announcement.

(link via Kermit the Blog)

Lunchtime secrets

This is what happens when I go out to lunch with my female co-workers.

I just kept my hands at my sides and tried not to look in any particular direction for more than a few seconds.

Hydrogen, schmydrogen

8-10 miles per gallon? And that's the eco-friendly version?! Can't everyone see how incredibily stupid that is?

Friday, October 22, 2004

Slippery tactics

Now, this is funny.

I was less amused, though, when NBC-13 promoted this story repeatedly last night for their 10:00 news. Their ads claimed: "We've got footage of Castro's fall." Not only is such wording misleading, but they're hawking a news story about a man tripping!


Finally! A romantic comedy that doesn't make me want to gouge out my eyes!

A dream unrealized

Cards win Game 7

Bummer. I was really excited about the possibility of both my hometowns being in the World Series. An Astros / Red Sox matchup would have compelled me actually watch baseball.

At least now it's easy to choose who to root for.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

BAM! - my car kicks it up a notch

On our way to the library last night, there was much fussing from the back seat. Once we got her out of the car, Emily was happer, but it was clear that she would still rather be at home eating dinner instead of browsing for books. We made our library visit a quick one, and upon our return home, I drove while Misty sat in the back in order to curtail any further eruptions.

About a quarter mile from the house, as we passed a small dirt and gravel patch on the side of the road where I've sometimes seen cars parked, there was suddenly a loud bang as if something had exploded. It sounded like it had come from inside the car, but obviously it hadn't since we were sitting right there.

I immediately thought that someone had thrown a bottle at my car and it had burst against the door. I pulled over at the neighborhood pool to check, but neither Misty nor I could find any signs of damage. Surely if a bottle had broken against the side, the paint would be all scratched up, but there was nothing.

Running through possibilities in my head, I then considered that I might had run over a large branch. If it was bent right, it could have acted like a lever, smashing one end into the bottom of the car as a tire pressed the other end. It didn't seem very probable, but it was the best I could come up with.

Whatever it was, I couldn't find anything wrong with the car. The explosive noise would have to remain a mystery.

I had put the incident out of my mind, but as she was getting out of the car at lunch this afternoon, Misty picked up an inch-long piece of plastic off the floor and handed it to me, suggesting that perhaps this was what exploded last night. The plastic piece had clearly broken off something, but it didn't look anywhere near capable of producing the noise we had heard. I fished around under the seat for something else, but found nothing but a couple of pens.

On our way home from work, though, Misty found the something else. A large, tightly-coiled spring rolled out from under her seat, and suddenly it became clear what had happened. Whatever the spring was attached to had given way and snapped. The breaking of the plastic, accompanied by the recoil of the spring had resulted in the loud bang.

So that mystery solved, a new question has emerged: Where does this spring go? It seems that it's time for a trip to the VW service station.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Tell your kids what to think

$24 is way too expensive for something she'd end up wearing once, but I'd love to get Emily this outfit.

The picture is a little hard to make out, but the shirt reads "VOTE. I'm a baby... what's your excuse?"

This one is even better, but where's the "Daddy" version?

Oh, well... Maybe in 2008.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Best in Birmingham? Really?

A couple weeks ago, my editor told me that Impending Distractions had been named for an award in Birmingham Magazine and offered me his congratulations. He wasn't sure exactly what the honor was — he'd simply heard about it from our CEO. I looked around the office where we usually have a copy of the magazine, but I could only find the previous month's issue. Looking toward the Internet, I found that Birmingham Magazine does not publish their content online.

Oh well. I figured it couldn't be that big of a deal if I hadn't heard about it first-hand. I forgot about it for a while.

On my lunch break today I went to the Homewood library to read. However, I'd forgotten the book I'm working on (now five days overdue), so I sat down to flip through magazines instead. I decided to see if I could uncover the mystery behind this apparent award.

The September issue of Birmingham Magazine provided the answer. In their "Best of Birmingham" article noting "the people, places and things you won't be able to live without," Impending Distractions was named Best Blog. It said: "Get wrapped up in the day-to-day life of Birmingham Blogger 'Matt' on his Web site" I was shocked.

First of all, I can't believe that my blog would even be considered for such an honor — much less, to actually be named to the top spot. Secondly, I can't believe that it took me so long to find out about it. I'm a little embarassed to have been so oblivous.

In the meantime, my posting of late has been sparse. If I'd known that new people might be checking this page out, I'd have put a little more effort into giving them something to read.

Anyway, to Birmingham Magazine: Thank you!
And to anyone who's found this site as a result: Welcome.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The temptation of vegetables

Last year Misty put together a cornucopia full of little pumpkins, gourds, and silk flowers. Unfortunately, it was constantly under siege by the evil kitty, and it didn't last very long.

This year, with no evil kitty to eat the display, Misty is more hopeful that her efforts will last through Thanksgiving.

Enter Emily.

Emily wants those gourds really badly. So much so, in fact, that she began to crawl this evening in order to get to them.

It's a slow, labored crawl — like someone trying to crawl with two broken legs, Misty said — but she's crawling. She made it over to the treasure trove of dry vegetables and promptly inserted a gourd into her mouth.

That cornucopia is doomed.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Catching up with yesterday's technology

Next Tuesday will mark a milestone in my Internet life. On that day, I shall finally join the rest of you in the 21st century, getting high-speed access at home.

I've been suffering though this 24Kbps dial-up connection for too long.

Maybe next I'll get a cell phone. But don't count on it.

Adventures down under

This morning as I was changing a particularly full diaper from Emily, Misty poked her head in the room to see what was going on. "Wow," she said. "There's so much poop in there it's almost as much as a human's."

Perhaps in our constant playful reference to Emily as the chupacabra, Misty has forgotten that she is indeed human.

Monday, October 11, 2004

McDonald's is the place to rock

Misty and I just watched "Super-Size Me." It was a decent movie — Spurlock's experiment didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but it was fun to watch. The highlight of the movie though, was when the soundtrack broke into "Rock n Roll McDonald's" by Wesley Willis. It was a brilliant inclusion. And of course, I sang right along (though not quite as poorly as Wesley).

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Returning from the Centennial State

I've been back from vacation since Sunday, but I'm finally getting around to posting today. Our vacation was exhausting (as vacations can be), so it was nice to have a few more days off afterward. Between events surrounding the wedding and visiting with family, we didn't get to see nearly as much of Denver as we would have liked. Nevertheless, we had a great time (except for at night when Emily, who, effected by a stimulus overload of new people and new surroundings and a cold to boot, decided to kick her fuss into overdrive).

Anyway, here are a few photos from our trip to Colorado.

Misty, Emily, and I enojy a day exploring outdoors.

You can just barely make out the snow-capped mountains in the distance.

My brother and his new wife hold Emily.

This would have been a great place to eat before the wedding.

Our little pumpkin.

I suppose this is what happens when your only knowledge of sharks comes from "Finding Nemo."

Emily has lots more pictures on her blog.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Better than the Chattanooga Aquarium

Emily has discovered a new source of amusement. She can turn her aquarium on and off. She likes to do it over and over and over again.

See? It's incredibly exciting.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Fan mail

Earlier this month I got a call at home from someone I didn't know. She told me she'd read my blog and wanted to e-mail me, but couldn't get the address to work (I list it as matt[at]cuthbert[dot]ws to avoid spambots).

My immediate reaction was, "Where did you get my home number?"

"Information," she told me. "You're listed in the phone book."

Hmm. I should have thought of that. I've never bothered to hide my real name on here, so I've always known that it would be easy for someone to track me down — I just never considered that anyone would actually do it. Oh well. No big deal.

After I explained the intentional variation in my e-mail, my mysterious caller thanked me and bid me good night. However, she hadn't told me what she'd wanted to e-mail me about. I began to fear that I'd pissed off some "Passion of the Christ" fan who was going to write and tell me about how she's praying for my soul.

A little while later I checked my e-mail and received a the message.
Hi Matt,
I just got off the phone with you. Thank you for clarifying your email address.
I just wanted to tell you that I was sorry to read your negative comments about the product I created to help my daughter in her grief over her little dog. Obviously you didn't bother to visit the website and really see what we have to offer. All the customer has to do is place the cremated remains in the zipper pocket that has been created for them. Read the testimonials and see what a wonderful product we have.

I have received the most heartfelt thanks from people who have purchased a Comfort Pet. The following is one such response and there are many many more:
Dear Monica,
Thank you for providing the UPS tracking number. As soon as I saw that the package had been delivered, I rushed home to get it. She's absolutely beautiful! You did a wonderful job. The package with the bow, it was all so special. You made me feel like a special person just to receive such a wonderful gift! And I thank you so much for including a fleece blanket, even though that doesn't come with the package that I ordered. That was very kind and generous of you, dear Monica.

Words cannot express how it will feel to be able to hold my baby in my arms again! I was extremely close to Bailey, being a single mom and having my sons grown and living away from me. It's been just me and my two girls for years and years. Losing her has been traumatic for me, to say the least. What you have done for me, I cannot express my gratitude. I truly hope your web developers fix the search for your website and you become wealthy beyond your wildest dreams! You deserve it!

I've decided to go ahead and order a comfort pet for my Molly girl, so I'll have it all ready for her, when her time comes. Hopefully, that won't be for a long, long time. But when it does happen, I'll be able to hold her in my arms right away.

My deepest and warmest heartfelt thanks to you!


As far as I am concerned, Matt, I am already 'rich' by receiving emails such as that. These people are not 'wackos' as you put it.

After speaking to you on the phone, you sound like a very nice person. I hope you raise your beautiful daughter with as much love and attention and affection that these 'wackos' feel for the beloved companions.
Best of luck to you,
Monica Josephson

Ms. Josephson's letter is the sort of thing I want to make fun of, but I can't. To be fair, she wrote a very polite and sensible response to my remarks about Comfort Pets. I still disagree with her, but I don't think she's crazy, and I certainly respect her. She's just an entrepreneur who created a product that I think is bizarre. And yes, I think the people who use it are a little off, too. I'll admit that the Comfort Pets concept is sweet, but that doesn't make it any less weird in my eyes.

So what's the point, then? If I'm not going to pick apart her letter or change my original stance, why should I even bother to post her message?

As a point of contrast.

Ms. Josephson was displeased with something I wrote and was very nice about it. On the other hand, Steve S., a reader of my Get on with Your Nightlife blog, was not so tactful when he responded to my review of the documentary "Outfoxed."

As a young person I look at your opinions and background (comic books) and I see why you are against Fox and probably anti-Bush as well, you and your type can unfortunately be pigeonholed as Liberals with minds full of mush who are doomed to repeat history and would have been fully behind Neville Chamberlain (look him up, it's called a history book and not made by Marvel) Saying Michael Moore is a Great satirist is like comparing Norman Vincent Peale as a deep philosopher. Son, please, for the sake of your child, do a little studying and see where your generation is causing the crumbling of the underpinning of our nation

Steve S.

In case you were confused, I am not actually Steve S.'s son. My father's name, in fact, is Arthur. The use of the term "son" here, is merely intended to condescend.

Of course, such condescention began in the very first sentence using a tactic that Mr. S.'s nemisis Michael Moore is famous for — half truth. My background does indeed include having owned a comic book store. Therefore, Mr. S.'s assertion is true. However, it's not really the whole story. My background also includes almost 10 years of journalism experience in newspaper, radio, and Internet. It includes writing and editing in both the news and entertainment fields. It includes a degree in communication arts with a focus in rhetoric. An enjoyment of comic books does not negate those things.

Unfortunately, Mr. S. didn't come up with a respectful disagreement to my opinions; he chose to insult me instead. The problem is, he seems to have misread my view in the first place.

For one thing, I didn't call Michael Moore a "great satirist;" I called him a "gifted satirist." There's an important difference between the two, and I was specifically careful with my choice of words there. To say someone is a great satirist could be interpreted as meaning either that he "does a great job" or that he is "one of the greats." To avoid such ambiguity, I used the word "gifted," denoting that Moore is talented when it comes to satire. More importantly, the word "gifted" does not imply admiration as the word "great" does. I do admire Michael Moore, and I do think his talent is great. But that was not the point of my statement. Rather, I was pointing out that Moore uses satire to his advantage, but the filmmakers behind "Outfoxed" do not.

What confuses me more than a simple misquoting, though, is that the whole focus of my review was that "Outfoxed" was a disappointing documentary. Nevertheless, Mr. S. attacked me for my liberal views. I admited that I wanted to like the film, but I was also fairminded enough to concede that it just wasn't very good. A critic with admited prejudice is willing to give the other side a chance — I would think that's the sort of review a person could respect. Instead, I got labeled as having a mind full of mush.

But at least my soul is still intact.

Friday, September 24, 2004

The South's ugly colors

Misty's mom got moved into her new apartment last week. It was a long process of packing and cleaning before the big day arrived. The landlord at the new place was kind enough to give us the keys early and said we could start moving things in as soon as we wanted — just so long as the apartment wasn't occupied until the 15th. I made several trips from her old home to the new one with my little Jetta loaded up with boxes and other things that wouldn't fit well into boxes.

My mother-in-law's new apartment complex is full of old ladies. These women don't have much to do in their day to day lives, so any new activity is met with a captive audience. Each time I made a trip over there to unload boxes, one neighbor or another would come out and introduce herself. Each of them expressed enthusiasm that someone was moving into their little community. They were cleary a friendly bunch.

On one such cleaning/moving trip, I had the help of Misty and her aunt and uncle. We moved a whole bunch of stuff over, and as usual, a couple of the old ladies came outside to offer their greetings. They told us how long they'd been residents and assured us that Misty's mom was going to like living there. "It's very safe here," we were told. "And we've been lucky that we've never had any of those kind of people move in."

I swear to God, I thought she meant noisy college kids.

But no. Uncle Mike knew what she meant, and he chimed right in. "So, y'all ain't got no niggers here, huh?"

My jaw dropped.

"No, we don't have any niggers," the nice hateful old lady said with a chuckle.

The conversation continued with the word "nigger" being droped several more times back and forth along the way.

The whole time I kept my mouth shut because I was too timid to stand up for what was right. All I could think of was how much that hateful word reinforces the stereotype that the South is full of ignorant redneck trash. I thought of Sidney Poiter in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" when he said: "Not until your entire generation has lain down and died will the weight of you finally be off our backs!" *

Ah yes, what a wonderful community Misty's mother has moved into.

* I can't find the exact quote, so I may be a bit off.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I have stories to tell... really

There have been all sorts of exciting things going on in my life lately — racism, hate mail, tooth extraction, food poisoning, moving, family bickering, hurricane damage — but I haven't told you about any of it. It's the same old situation that 99% of bloggers run into. Writing just gets to be a chore after a while.

Maybe I can work up some enthusiasm to get back on track, but does anyone really care? Who wants to read my bitching, anyway?

(Come on... fuel my ego — I need it.)

Friday, September 03, 2004

Shut up, America. Your opinion doesn't matter.

In his music column this week, Clay Broussard takes aim at the Vote for Change tour. He says, "Most of the artists on the list are: 1) old; 2) white; 3) musically safe; 4) appealing to liberals; and 5) desperately in need of some press." Most of those traits could be pinned on Broussard himself.

He goes on to write:
I've always been suspicious of rock artists who get political. Conservative rocker Alice Cooper, who has been at the center of some controversy regarding his recent criticism of the tour, said recently, "If you are listening to a rock star in order to get your voting information on who to vote for, you are a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons."

Amen, brother, from one moron to another.

I'm sick of this stupid argument. People afraid that some celebrity might sway votes in a direction they don't agree with are quick to denounce celebrities as sources of intelligent political discourse. "He's just rock star — what does he know about politics?" or "All these overpaid actors ought to keep their mouths shut when it comes to political issues."

By that line of thought, engineers should shut up when it comes to politics, too. So should doctors, traffic cops, librarians, construction workers, retail managers, football coaches, chefs, and newspaper music columnists. After all, they're not politicians — what could they possibly know about politics?

Broussard claims:
I've never met a rocker whose political views I valued; in fact, I can't even remember one political conversation I even had with a musician.

People like Broussard need to think again when it comes to the voice of the American citizen. Every American has the right to speak out regarding our government. And every American's voice matters. Believe it or not, just because politics isn't your profession doesn't mean that you don't have something worthwhile to say.

So don't be so quick to dismiss Broussard, either, when he offers his opinions:
So let the rockers rock, let the politicians politick, and try not to mix the twain.

With that advice in mind, don't vote, either. Because unless you're a politician, you're really in no position to make such a decision.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho.

It's September 1st, and you know what that means: It's Christmas time at Wal-Mart.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sing along in the age of paranoia

Listen to Green Day's new single, "American Idiot" remixed with quotes from everyone's favorite American idiot.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Bloody Tuesday

I love Rolling Stone's review of "The Passion of the Christ" (which comes out on DVD tomorrow).
Since Jesus wasn't a fan of smug church shit (Matthew 6: 5-6, bitch), he would have left the theater to sneak into Soul Plane like the rest of us. Repent, Mel!

I had to look up the Matthew 6: 5-6 passage (I haven't exactly read the Bible), but I think it applies to this pompous little prick, too.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Proud accomplishment

Our air conditioner started leaking again this week.

We've had several problems with the unit in the past year. It was repaired two or three times and finally replaced. Just after it was replaced, our homeowner's warranty expired. I didn't renew it because the air conditioner was the only thing I was worried about, and it was now brand new.

So when I heard the dripping sounds coming from the closet the other day, I was pissed — both with the repair company which never seems to be able to get it right and with myself for letting our warranty lapse.

Tuesday afternoon, I pulled out the manual to see if it offered troubleshooting tips. It didn't. In fact, it was clearly written, not for the average homeowner, but rather, for service professionals. I stood peering into the closet for a while, attempting to figure out how things worked.

I pulled apart and unscrewed some of the PVC pipe that I thought looked like it probably drained to the outside of the house. To my amazement, I was correct. The pipe was clogged with dust (which, now wet, could be more accurately described as muck), so I cleaned it out with water and a toothbrush. I put everything back together, changed the filter, and voila! My air conditioner is humming along normally again.

I was so pleased that I didn't have to call a repair service and pay them to do the work. Moreover, I felt manly.

Expanded menu

Emily has been eating rice cereal for the past couple weeks now. She loves this new process. It's adorable watching her tip her head back and open her mouth in anticipation of the spoon — she's like a baby bird waiting for worms.

She likes to get involved in the feeding process, whether that means grabbing my hand and helping to guide the spoon into her mouth (though her aim isn't very good), holding the spoon herself and sticking the wrong end in her mouth, or skipping the spoon altogether and going directly for the bowl.

You think that's messy? You should see what happens with sweet potatoes.

Mother-in-law update

Misty's mom signed her lease, paid her deposit, and picked up her keys Tuesday. Moving day is September 15.

Creating controversy

I've seen dozens upon dozens of news reports about the anti-Kerry ad that questions his military record. But other than in those reports, I've yet to see the ad itself. This leads me to wonder: Was there really a huge controversy? Or did the conservative news media create it? I'm inclined to believe the later.

The same thing happened earlier this year with Janet Jackson's breast at the Super Bowl. The news media cried out: "Gasp! How horribly offensive! Here it is again in slow motion."

Remember back in 1993 when some dumbass kid got killed while lying in the middle of the road, emulating a scene he saw in the movie "The Program?" Disney responded immediately by cutting the scene. So what do the news media do? They play the scene over and over and over again so that more kids can see it. How responsible!

Now we've got an obscure ad made by a group of hatemongers running a few times here and there. It's been denounced by the Kerry campaign (obviously) and by the Bush campaign (supposedly, though not really), and nobody has seen the damned thing anyway. But there needs to be a controversy, so the news media are going to make sure you do.

Just as saying there are WsMD in Iraq doesn't necessarily make it so, saying there is a controversy doesn't necessarily make it so. Repeating it enough times though, in either case, will make people believe it.

They don't make 'em like they used to... or do they?

Postmodern Barney has an interesting entry this week about various nostalgia series. I'm especially beguiled by Dorian's take on the Star Wars franchise.
I find it ever so amusing when I see Star Wars fans getting worked up about the perceived lack of quality in "Episode 1" or "Episode 2." Or getting angry about the possibility of Lucas making "Episodes 7, 8 and 9" because he will "fuck it up." Because, as we all know, the original Star Wars films were the most perfect works of art of all time. Utterly and completely flawless. For centuries to come they will be studied as the pinnacles of film-making, superior in all ways to what came before, destined to never be surpasses by antything that comes after. Oh, wait, no, my mistake. We were talking about the original Star Wars films. They were crap. Deliberate crap. The first one was an over-serious attempt to duplicate a crappy Saturday morning serial. It was Lucas himself wallowing in nostalgia for the cheap children's entertainments of his youth. And then the toys started selling and that was it. ...

So yes, I'm entertained when people complain about how the newer batch of Star Wars films "aren't as good" as the original films. As if Lucas, who waited years to do these movies, financing them all himself, was somehow not doing the best job he's capable of doing. The slightest glimmers of quality in the "5th" and "6th" movies were only there because people other than Lucas worked on them, and even then those movies weren't very good. What are the Star Wars fans expecting? Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane in space? Not going to happen.

I almost can't believe I'm saying this, but I agree with him.

Earlier this year after catching a few minutes of the mind-numbingly awful "Attack of the Clones" on HBO, I tried getting Misty to watch the original "Star Wars" with me in order to convince her that it wasn't always this bad. She'd seen "Star Wars," but not in many years. She didn't dislike it, but she was never what you'd call a fan of the series. To give you an example of her indifference: She didn't know which character Yoda was.

So we popped in my VHS copy (George Lucas is a technological visionary, my ass) and began to watch. Fifteen minutes into the movie Misty says to me, "This is pretty stupid, isn't it?" I was dumbfounded. How could she say such a thing?

But after I scooped my jaw off the floor, I began to wonder: Is it really as great as I see it? Having loved "Star Wars" for so many years, it's hard to see it from an outsider's perspective. This is something I grew up with. It's ingrained in me. Like religion, "Star Wars" transcends the boundaries of the mortal coil — it simply is.

And that's where the problem lies. Having watched the film so many times since childhood, I've built a terministic screen that keeps me from objective opinion. Nevertheless, with much effort, I turned off the memorized scene-by-scene playing simultaneously in my head and actually listened to the dialogue.

The results were astounding. It isn't brilliant, after all. It's just as dopey as its contemporary counterparts.

Does this revelation diminish my enjoyment of the movie? Not a bit. "Star Wars" is, and always will be, one of the coolest damned movies ever. It's terrifically entertaining, and that's what really matters.

No, the only thing that's changed is my acceptance of the prequels. Previously, I had vowed to keep my daughter safe from the knowledge that they even exist. However, I may be reacting too harshly to my own dislike of them. If my entire generation grew up loving the campy "Star Wars," today's kids could just as easily fall in love with the world that "The Phantom Menace" brings to life. And who am I to deny my child such a wonderful fantasy?

I'm still going to try to seer her toward "The Lord of the Rings," though.

Monday, August 23, 2004

New neighbors

I added approximately 60 new listings to's Alabama Bloggers page today (and culled all the dead blogs). If you're among the Alabama blogging community, check out your new neighbors.

It's easier to leave than to be left behind

R.E.M.'s new single "Leaving New York" has been posted on their Web site (right-click the link to download).

Friday, August 20, 2004

Again?! Already?!

Misty returned from the OB-GYN yesterday with a bandage around her arm from having blood drawn. She dropped eight sample packs of pre-natal vitamins on the coffee table. Then she dropped the news. She's pregnant again.

The idea of having another kid so soon is daunting, but not unwelcome. I was a little surprised, but I took the news rather well. I think Misty had expected a more dramatic reaction from me, though.

I suppose that's why after ten minutes of toying with me, she told the truth.

She's not really pregnant. She's just really cruel.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Good news

The realtor who deals with renting the apartments we're waiting for Misty's mom to get into called yesterday. There's a downstairs space coming available soon, so my mother-in-law could be moving out of our house by the beginning of September.

I can feel my sanity returning already.

Slim chance?

I finally saw an episode of The Amazing Race Tuesday. What a cool show! I can't believe I've been missing out all this time. Now I am really antsy to hear wheter I'll be called back for a second interview.

This article doesn't give me a good feeling, though. Birmingham's interview process was nowhere near that exciting! It was like: Ho, hum... here are some applicants. On the plus side, by not acting like fools, Jennifer and I may stand a chance at getting accepted. Our interview gives an idea of how the two of us really interact — not just a bunch of rehearsed show-off tactics.

Unsavory at any speed

I've noticed a stupid-looking new trend in auto extras lately — the home-constructed spoiler. Some of these things look like they were put together with an erector set. What makes people think this makes their car look cool?


Nothing screams Redneck like a giant, home-made spoiler on a Civic or a Neon.

Still, they're not quite as bad as the jackasses with noisy stereos.
Paul's Diamond speakers and two 10-inch Eclipse sub-woofers is child's play compared to that of 32-year-old Robert Benson, a wholesaler in the produce industry. Benson installed two eight-inch subs, four 12-inch subs and amps that total north of 5,400 watts, into his muscle car a 1999 dark blue, T-top Pontiac Trans Am with a spoiler and Marvin-the-Martian stereo knob controls.

"I listen to talk radio on the way to work every morning," Benson says. "But when I pull up next to someone playing loud music, I like to embarrass them. I like being able to make people jump two cars ahead of me."

Trust me, guys. No one's impressed with your stereo except you. The ladies don't hear that bass and think "Ooh, what a stud." They think: Tiny penis.

Monday, August 16, 2004

W's mass distruction

I keep seeing the term "weapons of mass destruction" abbreviated as "WMDs." Such an abbreviation doesn't make sense, though, as the "s" is pluralizing "destruction," making the phrase "weapon of mass destructions." To abbreviate correctly, the acronym should really be "WsMD."

So why aren't we seeing the correct abbreviation? I smell a Republican conspiracy that Michael Moore would be proud of. Read "WsMD" aloud. Your brain automatically hears an apostrophe: "W's MD."

I suppose "W's mass destruction" doesn't sound too good to the right-wing spinsters. Don't let them keep the proper acronym hidden any longer! Fight for grammatical justice!

Monday, August 09, 2004

It's Microsoft's fault

For once, Senator Joe Lieberman has a concrete example to back up his claim that video games lead to violence.

If it was a Game Cube, they'd have used wiffle bats.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Hopefully, this is part 1 of the story

I auditioned for a reality TV show this weekend.

Take a brief moment to get over the shock, then carry on to read the rest...

After work Friday afternoon, sports producer Jennifer Bonilla and I headed over to Watermark Place Outlet Mall with our applications for The Amazing Race.

As we sat in the food court awaiting our turn for an interview, we brainstormed what sort of questions we might be asked. We figured that they would be vague sort of questions like "Why do you think you should be on this show?" This notion worried us, as there would be no correct answer — we'd just have to make ourselves appear entertaining.

The direction of the interview, though, was different than we'd guessed. Questions were generally specific. We were asked things like: "How did the two of you meet?," "Are you good at directions and reading maps?," "Do you speak any foreign languages?," and "Which one of you would be more likely to eat gross foods?" As such, coming up with answers was pretty easy. We breezed through our interview without any trouble.

We mentioned that, unlike previous contestants, we don't have a long-standing relationship. We've worked together for a few months, but beyond that we don't know each other very well. I don't know if that factor could be a benefit or a deterrence to our performance. We also pointed out that we haven't followed "The Amazing Race" during its five previous iterations. Jennifer has only watched one episode, and I've never seen it at all. In fact, before I filled out my application this week, I thought the contest was something along the lines of Cannonball Run. Again, I don't know if our unfamiliarity with the show will hurt or help us.

At the conclusion, we were asked if we had anything we wanted to add. Since the sort of questions we'd planned for hadn't been asked, we decided to answer them then. I said that with so many reality TV shows on the air these days, it has become a rite of passage to appear on one. I don't think I'm cut out for "American Idol," "Survivor," or "The Apprentice," but "The Amazing Race" seems like it would be really fun.

After unclipping our microphones and thanking our interviewer, we headed outside where we began what will be four to six weeks of speculation as to whether or not we'll be called back. I've already begun to second-guess our performace. Perhaps the questions were so easy as a way to weed out boring applicants. Presented with a question that could be answered with one or two words, would you deliver a brief response, or would you elaborate offering amusing anecdotes about yourself? I'm having a hard time deciding which direction we went.

If it was the right one, you'll get more updates about my quest for reality TV stardom here in the weeks to come.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Family frequency

There's been a lot going on lately that has kept me from posting with my former frequency. Work is keeping me busy (which I actually prefer) and home is even busier.

Misty's mom had her second chemo treatment this week. She still seems to be doing fairly well, though her hair is dropping rapidly. She's been staying with us for about a month now, and she goes back and forth between being a welcome helping hand and a major source of frustration. On one hand, she's able to watch Emily for us while we're at work — this can get us a half-price rate for daycare if Emily stays home a whole week. She helps cook dinner, washes the dishes, and does a fair amount of work keeping the house in order. On the other hand, having a long-term houseguest is incredibly stressful — no matter how much help they lend with chores. Misty and I never have the house to ourselves, and it's rare to even have a private conversation. I'm not talking about sex, here. In fact, there's nothing specific that Misty and I need time alone for. We just miss time alone together. There's a sense of always having to include a third party no matter what we're doing.

It's hard to complain because Misty's mom needs our help. She needs to be driven to the doctor for chemo and numerous other procedures and checkups. However, as such, Misty and I have to give up most of our weekends and a few vacation days, too. So after we've conceded our time and our privacy, it really pisses us off when she tells us she doesn't want to bother with taking her ear medicine. Or when she sits on the back porch smoking a pack a day. Or when she tries to convince me to keep portions of the doctor's comments from Misty. Or when she needs us to drive her over to her apartment (45 minutes away) to check her mail but won't let us come inside to use the bathroom. Or when she makes one suggestion after another as to why Emily might be crying... It gets to the point where every little thing is annoying, even when it shouldn't be.

We're still looking for an apartment for her. There's a place across the street from Emily's daycare that's perfect, actually — low rent, water and cable included, close proximity to us, good base of employment opportunities nearby — but there's nothing available right now. We're trying to decide how long we want to wait for an opening before we move on to another complex. There are a few other potentials, but they're significantly more expensive. The place we're hoping for has low enough rent so that Misty's mom could afford to live without working.

Jeff, Emily (in new Jeep stoller), and Kim at Vulcan ParkIn other family news, my brother Jeff and his fianceé Kim came to visit last weekend. It was their first time to see Emily. Having heard her screams of colic over the phone, I think they were relieved to see that she's passed that stage (and therefore, won't be screeching through their wedding). They brought Emily a Jeep stroller which is super cool. We all went to Vulcan Park together where we enjoyed seeing the Iron Man's giant, naked ass. I'd actually never been there before.

A couple weeks earlier, my parents and my Aunt Linda visited. I was very glad to get to see Linda since she won't be able to make it to Jeff's wedding this fall. For a year I've been promising my family that Misty and I will fly up to New England to visit, but life has continually gotten in the way of such plans. I'm looking forward to October when we'll all be in Denver together and our daughter can steal the spotlight from her aunt and uncle.

Emily loves her new ExerSaucer

Emily has discovered lots of new noises and has been chattering constantly. Every once in a while she'll even laugh, but it's tough to get her to do it. Last night, though, she let out a giggle that lasted for several seconds. Misty and I were, of course, thrilled. Emily still tends to get fussy each night while we're trying to eat dinner, but it's nothing compared to colic. As horrible as that experience was, at least we can say that it broke us in as parents. Now when Emily cries, it's as if it's no trouble at all. Other parents tell us, "oh, just wait until she's crawling and getting into things — then you'll have your hands full," but we aren't worried. I don't want to discount their advice — I'm sure teething and crawling and the terrible twos will be a big pain — but there is no way anything will be as bad as colic. We will always be able to fall back on that reassurance.

Friday, July 30, 2004

President Buck

Watching George Bush on television today, I realized that he reminds me a lot of Gen. Buck Turgidson.

I can hear him in my head: "I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say, no more than 10 to 20 million people killed — tops."

Or: "Gee, I wish we had one of them doomsday machines."

Monday, July 26, 2004

Fox wishes they'd thought of it first

This is so horribly distasteful.

I can't wait to watch it.

The other convention

At the San Diego Comic Con this weekend, actor Lance Henriksen made an interesting observation.
"There are 80,000 people who are going to pass through here, and there are only 35,000 at the Democratic convention. What does that tell you?"

It tells me that Americans have their priorities well in order.

Monday, July 19, 2004

And speaking of libraries

 Buy this and donate it to your local public library.

 Watch the trailer here.

Book bandit

Dumb criminal of the day
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A 36-year-old man led police on a brief car chase, driving on sidewalks, through parking lots and even against traffic on a busy boulevard, so he wouldn't get caught with stolen library books, according to police.

"The officers were a little taken back when they found out what the deal was. They couldn't believe it," said Syracuse police spokesman Sgt. Tom Connellan, who added police broke off pursuit because the situation Sunday became too dangerous.

Someone should tell this guy that you can check out the books for free.

October's 2nd-most anticipated event

Finally, some news I can get excited about...
R.E.M. will release their thirteenth album in October, just before the presidential election. And Michael Stipe wouldn't have it any other way.

"For better or worse, the current state of the world has had a profound impact on the way I'm writing," says the singer, who is in the midst of finishing up the record in Miami with guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills. "But this isn't a downer of a record. Even the most depressing R.E.M. song is going to have a glimmer of hope in it. That's just me, I can't help myself." ...
"At this time, as an American, I feel like the angriest pacifist in the world, and I don't think I'm alone in that," says Stipe.

But who would have expected that they were so angry that they'd recruit the drummer from Ministry?

Anticipated tracks for the new album include:
"Final Straw," "I'm Gonna DJ," "On the Fly," "The Outsiders," "Leaving New York," "Wanderlust," "Electron Blue," "Aftermath," and "Magnetic North."

And of course, if anyone comes across MP3s before the album's release, I would be most greatful if you'd share.

* In case you were wondering, October's most anticipated event is my brother's wedding.

The acrobat

Guess who started rolling over yesterday?


Friday, July 16, 2004

The throes of cancer

As I mentioned yesterday, it's been a pretty rough week.  We found out that Misty's mom's hysterectomy was unsuccessful in ridding her of cancer.  She's still got cancer in her cervix, and her doctor described it as the most agressive form.  More frightening, we were told that if chemotherapy didn't work or if the cancer cells were destroyed only to regrow within the next five years, her cancer would be considered fatal.

Briefly, Misty's mom suggested not even bothering with chemo.  That, of course, didn't sit well with those of us who want her to live.  Misty was angry.  She told her mom that there was no discussion, she was simply going to do it whether she wanted to or not.   Later on while I sat talking to my mother-in-law, I told her that she couldn't do that to Misty.   If she were to die having never tried chemo, Misty would never forgive herself for not pushing her to do it.  She agreed that she'd undergo the treatments for the sake of Misty and Emily.
Her chemo began Monday.  The first session hasn't made her feel too bad, she says.  She's got between five and seven more sessions, one every three weeks.

Tuesday, I took her to the American Cancer Society to pick out a wig for when her hair starts to fall out.  It looks pretty natural — it just looks like she got her hair done.  When we came home, she put her wig on Emily's head, which everyone thought was a riot.

Right now, Misty's mom is staying at our house.  She's capable of living on her own just fine, but in the event that she did need anything, she'd be 45 minutes away from us if she were to go back to her apartment.  Also, facing the reality that she may not have a mother much longer, Misty wants to be able to spend as much time around her as possible.  I figure that's not a bad thing, whether or not she makes it through this disease.

However, we won't be able to house her indefinately.  Having already spent the past month staying either with us or with her sister, Misty's mom feels like she's imposing.  And, of course, a long-term houseguest does make your privacy seem invaded.  Not only that, but she's bored — she's stuck on the first floor of our house, so pretty much all she has to do during the day is read.  We're working on finding her a place to live that's closer to us.  Hopefully that would create a pleasant medium between two extremes.

The whole situation is incredibly stressful.  And I don't pretend that my stress level even comes close to Misty's.  After all, it's her mother.  We're both physically and emotionally drained.  Free time has gone from being a precious commodity with an infant to being nonexistant now.  But each day we push through the stress and do the things that have to get done — whether we have time to do them or not.  Hopefully soon, as this new way living becomes routine, it will get easier.

His name says it all

Ever since my mother-in-law's hysterectomy last month, her dog has been boarding at the animal clinic where Misty works.  The dog needs a new home, but has yet to find a family to adopt him.
The first obstacle in the adoption process is the dog's name: Stopit.   Kind of gives you an idea of what to expect when you get him home.  He's a bit of a hellion.  I've heard stories of him ripping the wooden lever off a recliner and devouring steel wool pads.  And this isn't a big dog — he's a shih tzu mix.
Last week a man and his daughter stopped by the clinic looking to adopt a small, fluffy dog "like a shih tzu." Seizing this perfect opportunity, Misty directed them to her mom's dog (not mentioning his name).  The pair returned with disappointing news — Stopit wasn't the dog for them.  It seems that as they approached the run where he was being kept, they discovered him eating a dead bird.  We don't know whether he caught the bird and killed it or if it simply fell into his cage.  Either way, his little episode has earned him a longer stay at the clinic without a new family to take him home.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Republicans find common ground with James Nichols

James Nichols (brother of Terry Nichols, the man responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing) is angry with Michael Moore, too, and he's taking his greviances to court.
James Nichols claims Moore tricked him into appearing in "Bowling for Columbine," the Oscar-winning 2002 documentary that studied guns and violence in American culture. Nichols also contends Moore libeled him in the film by linking him to the 1995 bombing that killed 168 people.

The timing of the lawsuit has come into question as it was filed more than a year after the movie opened, too late for the statute of limitations for libel claims. However, there's some question as to when the movie actually opened in James Nichols' town.

In explaining the details of when the movie opened vs. when Nichols had the opportunity to see it, the article claims that "Nichols was not aware of the movie's existence until a newspaper called him for comment the next day."

That's odd. He was in the movie. Surely, he knew of its existence back when it was being filmed.

I'll agree with Nichols in the sense that he comes off looking like a fucking nutcase in the movie. But I don't think Moore had to stretch the truth here. That guy is a nutcase.

(Let's see you Michael Moore bashers jump to James Nichols' defense. ... Come on. You know you want to.)

Low priority

I can't promise a return to frequent posting anytime soon. I've had plenty going on worth writing about, but I just don't feel like writing.

I did finally see "Spider-Man 2" yesterday, but overall it's been a pretty bad week.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Setting a bad example for Girl Scouts

Sometime last week Misty and I stopped by Bruno's to pick up a few groceries on our way home from work. Outside, there was a table set up where a woman was selling Girl Scout Cookies. I am a sucker for Girl Scout Cookies (who isn't?), so Misty and I walked right up. Once we settled on how many boxes of each kind we wanted, I asked the woman...

Me: What forms of payment do you accept?

Woman: We prefer cash.

Me: Can you take a check?

Woman: Well, we prefer cash.

Me: But can you take a check?

Woman: We prefer cash.

Me: Yes, I understand that you prefer cash, but I don't have any cash. Can you take a check?

Woman: Oh, hey! How are you? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... (to another woman who has walked up)

It bothered me enough that the mother was doing the work for her daughter, but I liked her attitude even less. Not only did she effectively ignore my direct questions, but she interrupted me to start talking to someone else to boot. Annoyed, we went inside to get our groceries.

Upon exiting the store, however, the woman at the table called out to us...

Woman: Would you like to buy any Girl Scout Cookies?

Me: No, thanks. Since you blew me off earlier, you lost your sale.

I desparately wanted some cookies, but I won't support any organization that doesn't treat me well as a patron. Instead, I'll wait for one of the neighborhood kids to stop by my house.

Spider-Man 2: The Lego Version

This is an absolute riot.

(And, no, I still haven't seen the movie.)

Link found via Cognitive Dissonance.

We eat ham and jam and Spam a lot

Most people cringe at the thought of Spam (both the e-mail variety and the canned pseudo-meat), but it seems there is some good to it after all.


Sunday, July 04, 2004

Yes, it is

I'm getting sick of right-wing hatemongers insisting Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" isn't a documentary.

Yes, the movie is slanted. It is an unabashed propaganda peice. But that doesn't make it fiction. "Fahrenheit 9/11" compiles real footage and real facts. It just manipulates them to lead the viewer to a specific conclusion.

Kudos to the conservatives jouornalists and bloggers who've been able to pick apart Moore's "sneaky editing tactics." It must have taken some close scrutiny and a lot of research to find all the totally fucking obvious instances of one-sided storytelling.

Those of us who get Moore's viewpoint aren't stupid. We see what he's doing. We know Britney Spears doesn't serve as a spokesperson for U.S. opinion — but it's funny when the scene plays as such. Michael Moore is a satirist. He uses humor to deliver his message. Pointing out the particulars of his slant not only insults the viewer's intelligence, but it also serves to ruin the joke. There's no better way to kill a joke than to explain it.

Of couse, Moore's humor is more than just playful fun; he's serious about his viewpoint, and he wants to convince you to see things the same way. So why should he make a case for anything other than his own side?

A documentary is not required to examine both sides of an issue. One does not argue his opponent's side in a debate. Doing so would serve to undermine one's own position. It is not up to Michael Moore to highlight George Bush's "good qualities" alongside the bad. Likewise, it is not up to someone like Sean Hannity to highlight the benefits of a liberal agenda alongside his attacks against it.

Hannity's new book "Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism" (yes, liberals are just as dangerous as terrorists) doesn't take both sides and let the reader choose which is best. He argues with a conservative slant. Nevertheless, his book is shelved in the non-fiction section of the library, alongside Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?" Neither book presents a "fair" account, but they're both non-fiction.

There is a reason libraries and book stores are divided into sections of fiction and non-fiction. The opposite of fiction is fact, yet there is no fact section. Obviously, two books with opposing viewpoints cannot both be factual. As such, we call such books non-fiction.

The same holds true for the medium of film. A wholy concocted storyline would fit into a fiction category such as drama or comedy. Even a film based on factual events that uses actors to portray real people would fit into one of those categories. On the other hand, a film based on actual events using real footage of real people who aren't playing any role at all — no matter how skewed and manipulated its message — is non-fiction. And the word for non-fiction in the film medium is documentary.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Just like her mommy

Today is Free Comic Book Day, so stop by your local comics shop and pick up some free swag.

I'm looking forward to reading the free comic from AdHouse Books which showcases new material from Scott Morse and Joel Priddy.

We're going to try to take Emily over to the new Kingdom Comics in Vestavia to get her picture made with Spider-Man. As you can see from this photo of Misty, it's a tradition on par with visiting Santa.

We're passing our wastefullness along to you

I've a television commercial a couple times now for Alabama Power which touts their supposedly low rates on electricity that are "at least 15% below the national average."

Hey, Southern Company, you know how you could make your rates even lower? Quit wasting money on advertising; you're a monopoly, for God's sake.

Oh, and this seems like a really useful page.

Spidey, say it ain't so

Friday, July 02, 2004

Beep-Beep! Ten Four, good buddy

I'm sure I'm not the first person to say it, but I hate those god damned two-way radios. I don't want to hear one side of some smug, loud-mouthed ninny's conversation over a cell phone — I certainly don't want to hear both sides over their two-way radio.

I'm convinced that the only reason people have them is that they want everyone within a 500-foot radius to know that THEY'VE GOT A TWO-WAY RADIO! Congratulations. Now shut up.

Thursday, July 01, 2004


So, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11, 50 First Dates, Possession, and About Schmidt this weekend, but I didn't see Spider-Man. Yet I had the day off Wednesday! What in hell is the matter with me?!

Well, for one thing, Misty asked me to wait and see it with her, and since I'm a big sissy who lets his wife call the shots, I obliged.

The real reason, though, is that I'm in Birmingham. Sure, it's playing on 39 screens here — including 12 screens at the brand new Giant Orgasm Rave theater — but it just doesn't feel right seeing it in this city. If I had gone Wednesday afternoon or Tuesday at midnight, who was going to be there? A bunch of people from Legion, Kingdom, Lion & Unicorn, and Capt. Comics. I don't want to share this experience with a bunch of comic fans I don't know. I want to share it with my friends.

Unfortunately, those friends live in Huntsville. The Haven crowd probably went en masse Wednesday night to see the movie, but I don't know. I'm 100 miles away and out of the loop. It's a little depressing.

Even after a year of living in Birmingham, I still haven't found a comic shop where I feel at home. The problem is that I want Haven, and I'm not going to find it here. It's not so much the comics that I miss (I've got plenty of other things to keep me busy) — it's the camaraderie. Outside of work, I haven't found a new group of friends here. Haven represented that base for me in Huntsville. Now that I'm gone, though, my connection with them seems to have evaporated.