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 al.com'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, al.com 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.