Friday, December 26, 2008

My Curious Case of Cold Feet

As I'm typing this, my toes are cold. My hands and feet are the first two (four?) body parts of mine to drop in temperature when I get cold. On the coldest evenings, I'll take a couple baths (one after I get home and another a few hours later when the warmth of the first one has dissipated).

Yesterday afternoon, while attending a screening of Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", both sets of my toes were cold. In order to reduce this, I typically take one of my shoes off and put that foot under my opposite knee. Not only does this warm one of my feet, but for some reason, it also seems to reduce the coldness in my other one.

Shit, now that I've brought up "Button", I might as well say how I felt about it. Since it was directed by David Fincher ("Fight Club", "Zodiac"), I was expecting a masterwork. If you weren't aware, the story revolves around a man who is aging backwards.


It starts out in the present-day with one of the main characters going back and telling what happened way-back-when. I'm sure most are familiar with this structure (it was used in my favorite movie of '94, "Forrest Gump, my fave of '97, "Titanic", and my fave of '98, "Saving Private Ryan"). "Button" took the cake, though, in that it went from present-day to past and back again way too many times (On a couple instances, I actually rolled my eyes at the screen. The screen was like, "Kiss my ass").

At close to three hours, the movie was a real tour de force and had a number of moving moments, but just didn't quite do it for me. I agree with this reviewer who said, "I liked "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," but I wanted to love it." I do recommend it; just make sure to keep your expectations in check.

Later that evening, I watched a movie OnDemand from '06 that actually stars both Pitt and Blanchett as well (my wife said, "Weren't they both in the movie we saw today?"). It's called "Babel" and deals with people who are having problems communicating because of language differences (hence, the title).



It was a bit better than "Button" in my eyes. If you're ambitious, check it out.

NOTE: I'm taking a fortnight off to recycle myself. Hope you don't mind. Look through my voluminous archives if you get to missing my one-of-a-kind style (Be warned, however: my earliest writings are quite primitive).

Monday, December 22, 2008

Eating Outside

Though I love eating out, I can't abide eating outside.


There are many reasons for this. First, there's no guarantee that the temperature will be comfortable (it could get too humid or be too breezy). Inside the restaurant, you needn't be concerned about such things. Outside, flies (or worse) can get into your food. This could also happen inside, but the likelihood is much less (though the chances of seeing a cockroach are much greater indoors). Then we have the problem of traffic noise and smokers.

A few months ago, I went to a Friday's in Wisconsin and was quite surprised when the maitre d' said, "Smoking or non?". I was like, "Excuse me, my good man, but I wasn't aware that I had teleported to 1973. Now, please excuse me while I head out to find a young boy named Barack. Legend foretells that one day, he will change the world. Oh, and do you know any places around here that sell frankencense and/or myrrh?"

There's also the problem of sunlight when eating outside. Course, they usually have those umbrellas, but that's sometime not enough and I don't like to have to wear sunglasses while munching on some fingers. In addition, I love sitting in booths which are generally only available within the restaurant's walls.

Quick comment about eating: I only ever put salt on one food item: corn on the cob. In my mind, if you have to put salt on something for it to taste good, why are you bothering eating it?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Newly Erected Barriers Attract Unplanned Attention

WINTERS (CBS13) ― A $2 million investment into a downtown improvement project has yielded an unintentionally distracting image, some residents say. Downtown Winters has new benches and new brick sidewalks, but that's not what people seem to be noticing on the corner of Railroad and Main.

Many residents can't agree on what the newly erected, three-foot-high pedestrian barriers look like.

"They look like fire hydrants that have been painted," said one man. A woman named Katie suggested the thirteen barriers looked like chess pieces. Debra LoGuercio, a columnist for the Winters Express, saw something completely different.

"By God, they're penises," Debra said. "And it's a nice sturdy one at that."



Debra couldn't believe it, and even wrote a column for the Express titled "New Construction Shocks The L Out Of Our Pubic Spaces." "I've heard people leaning out the window, saying, 'Love the penises!" she laughed, "which you don't hear very often."

City officials weren't terribly amused when we brought the subject up to them. The city manager wouldn't go on camera to talk about it, saying it's juvenile. Many residents agree with him -- John Pickerel owns two restaurants on the corner, and he's all for the streetscape improvements.

"Winters is a jewel, and this just polishes the jewel," he said. It's a jewel for families and visitors, but now it has an unplanned attraction."It's all I can see," Debra said. "It's like the creepy kid in the movie: 'I see penises.'"

Video report

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Shopping Anecdotes

I'm in the midst of wrapping presents this afternoon. We got about half a foot of snow this morning as Al Franken moves into the lead in the Minnesota Senate recount. I've some amusing things to share in regards to my Christmas shopping. Yesterday, I bought a Vikings Winter Combo (hat, scarf, gloves, rope) for a friend of mine for $9.99. Per societal expectations, I removed the $9.99 sticker from the packaging before wrapping it. Just then, I noticed a sticker on the back that said the item was originally priced at $25. For some reason, I couldn't resist leaving that sticker on. Isn't that what Christmas is all about, though? Buying $50 worth of presents, but having the recipient believe you spent a hundred?


This same friend is also a huge movie fan (he has more than 500 DVD's). I had to chuckle back in the early 00's; you see, he had amassed hundreds of VHS tapes, but knowing its demise was imminent, spent thousands to upgrade to the magical DigitalVersatileDisc (I hope he doesn't find out about Blu-Ray).

I like to buy him 4 or 5 movies every Christmas, but how am I to know if I'm just getting him something that he already has? Easy, just get him a foreign film. :P But, seriously, I saw a few last night I thought he might like, so called him up. You might say, "But if you ask him if he has a movie, then he's gonna know what you're getting him." Not quite. You see, I ran about 20 movie titles by him, so he has no idea which are legit and which are just red herrings (yes! I've always wanted to use the term "red herrings" in a post).

I somehow found myself at Wal-Mart earlier this week and was quite surprised to see my first psychiatrist shopping there. She makes close to triple digits an hour, but shops at the House of China? Two miles down the road is a SuperTarget where you don't have to worry about seeing anyone wearing a vest (unless you go on Sunday afternoon where you might see a youngster wearing one. Vests look much cuter on the under-10 set. But you know what would be sad: a five year old wearing a Wal-Mart vest. I'm sure it'd be a YouTube sensation, though. Kinda like that O'Reilly kid).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

30 Minutes in Hallmark

This evening, I went to the local Hallmark to get Christmas cards for a couple notable loved ones.



Remember in the old days when greeting card stores were quiet, when all you heard was some piped-in easy listening music. Tonight, all I heard were people opening those stupid greeting cards that talk and sing when you open them (someone opened a Simpsons one and chuckled when they heard Marge dispense some motherly wisdom).

I checked both my pockets, but no ear plugs could be found. So I made the best of it and proceeded to find what I needed. When looking for cards for the most important people in my life, I like to look at all the store has to offer. Some may look at only 5 Christmas cards designated "Mother". I looked at dozens to find the perfect one for the one who birthed me. What makes this even more difficult is that she frequently mentions how I always seem to get her the perfect card.

I never buy cards that don't express exactly how I feel about a person. Some cards will say, "I know I don't say I love you as often as I should..." Well, I do, so that type of card is totally inappropriate. What is with you people who don't say "I love you" to those dearest to your heart? If it weren't for your attitude, I wouldn't have to see half the cards I look over give some variation on this. I'm telling you right now, if you don't say I love you to them every day, you're gonna be mighty regretful when they pass. Food for thought as we all look forward to stuffing ourselves next week.

Imagine my disgust, then, when I couldn't find one card that was as good as what I'd given her in previous years. I had to settle on one that was substandard, in my opinion. It only cost 2.99, which posed a bit of a problem. I almost wished that it cost more so that if she happened to look at the back of it, she would, "Ah, yes. He spent 5.99 for this card. He really loves his mama".



Lastly, can someone tell me why 80% of greeting cards have that sparkly shit on it? After perusing several dozen cards, my hands looked like they'd been spread with fairy dust. I coulda passed for Minneapolis bathroom boy Larry Craig.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2002 Part V

I can still remember going to Pierce Brosnan’s last Bond movie “Die Another Day” during the Christmas season of ’02. It was one of the last movies a friend and I went to before he met the love of his life. I hadn’t seen Brosnan in his 3 prior Bond flicks, so was looking forward to seeing “Die”. It was mostly satisfying.

The movie started with Madonna singing the title song (which had a very electronica vibe). The last half of the movie took place in an area of the Arctic, I believe. Bond’s big contraption in the movie was an “invisible” car. Though completely lacking compared to Daniel Craig’s reboot in ’06, I had a pretty good time with the Secret Agent Man (bonus points for Halle Berry who played the love interest).

Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Steven Spielberg looked to be a great movie about a guy who impersonated doctors and airline pilots in the 60’s, but I didn’t get around to seeing it until about 7 weeks into its run.




Based on a true story, it was quite captivating with great period detail (trailer).

The musical “Chicago” was the 3rd Richard Gere movie I saw in 2002.



Ridiculous, I know, but all three were very good. Most of his work since then has been blah. “Chicago” was special in that the audience was able to hear the famous Buddhist sing. Queen Latifah also sang one as did John C. Reilley. Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones each sang a number of songs. The film wound up winning Best Picture for the year. I didn’t think it quite deserved it (though the tunes were so good I bought the film’s soundtrack a few days after seeing the film). My favorite song from it might very well be “We Both Reached for the Gun” sung by Gere. (you can view it here).

Men in Black II” was the first movie I saw at Rochester’s newest theatre, Cinemagic (the theatre is now the worst in town by far). The only good thing about the movie was the talking Pug. He’s a stitch…and such attitude! (trailer)

I had much more fun with “Austin Powers: Goldmember”. I went to the first "Powers" twice and the second one thrice. My favorite character in part two was Fat Bastard, so I greatly looked forward to seeing his return in part III. Though he was only in one major scene, I was on the floor throughout it (the scene starts at 7:30 of this link and continues here). Tom Cruise surprised with a cameo in the film.


Friday, December 12, 2008

My Thoughts On Christmas

I love how Christmas has two mascots: Jesus and Santa.


And how ironic is it that when you flip the letters of Santa a bit, it turns into Satan. Jesus and Satan together again just like in the good ol' days. I believe a number of things in the Good Book, but not the Manger story. That's the justification for giving gifts over the holidays; because the Wise Guys gave them to Baby Jesus way back when (or maybe it's cuz of Santa).

I'm certain the story was written many years later as a way to address Jesus's birth. But they forgot to fill in the blanks as to what he was doing between the ages of 1-29. It's like he fell off the face of the Earth. Make something up, whatever, but don't say he was born and then pick up the story three decades later. We don't get to see the man develop, see how he came to be the person he is. By the way, if the Bible is the end-all, be-all, why is there such a thing as Christian book stores?

I love Jesus. It's hard to find a better way to live than the philosophies he espoused. But some of the stuff the church fathers made up about him are really messed up, so much so that Thomas Jefferson created his own account of the Gospels in which he took out all the miracles.



The Immaculate Conception thing is totally ridiculous. It infers that no one who is born from their parents can ever be good as Jesus. I don't think Jesus should be worshipped so much as emulated. People will say no one can be as kind as Jesus, but if you choose to do so every minute, it can be done.

Many people think the Gospels were written by the disciples when in fact all of the writers knew about Jesus only second (or third) hand and through prior oral accounts. The four books weren't written until decades after Jesus' death.

Some time ago, I read the account of a man (www.nderf.org/wayne_h's_nde.htm) who crossed over and while on the other side, had a riveting experience in which he learned what he believed to be the truth about Jesus. However you feel about NDE's, the following makes much more sense to me than the Gospels' origin story:

"I had the 1st person experience of the one called "Jesus." I had his entire life (remember, time does not exist). His name was not Jesus, something more like Josephus. He had regular mom and dad, no God intervention. He had a difficult birth and an NDE during birth. He had a difficult childhood because of his near death experience, he knew too much. As he got older, he began to tell people about his experience. He told people not to fear death because they would live forever. He told people that after death, there was perfect peace and a perfect state of love. He told people that everyone was exactly the same and everyone could know who they really were and awaken to their spiritual self."

"He drew a small crowd of followers. After a time, some of his followers wanted to form a religion and replace the Jewish priests because of the money and power. He cast the power mongers out of his following. Five of them conspired against him. At his trial there were three witnesses against him, all were his followers. He was hanged (not crucified, he was just a petty criminal to the Romans). Being in a hurry, the Romans cut him down a little early and his loyal followers carried his body off. He revived having had a second near death experience (his "second coming" so to speak). He lived for awhile hiding from his 5 traitorous former friends, but died after a bit from his injuries."

One of the reasons I don't go to church is because the religions stick to their ancient texts without realizing that there are actually better books out there, books that can be used to inspire even more greatly than the Bible. My favorite author is Neale Donald Walsch. I was fortunate enough to meet him this past summer and wrote quite extensively about it here. He has written some stuff that puts most all of the Old Testament to shame. Check it:

"You are goodness and mercy and compassion and understanding. You are peace and joy and light. You forgiveness and patience, strength and courage, a helper in time of need, a comforter in time of sorrow, a healer in time of injury, a teacher in times of confusion. You are the deepest wisdom and the highest truth; the greatest peace and the greatest love. You are these things. And in moments of your life you have known yourself as these things. Choose now to know yourself as these things always."

"When you catch yourself thinking negative thoughts—thoughts that negate your highest idea about a thing—think again! I want you to do this, literally. If you think you are in a doldrum, in a pickle, and no good can come of this, think again. If you think the world is a bad place, filled with negative events, think again. If you think your life is falling apart, and it looks as if you’ll never get it back together again, think again."

"Worry is just about the worst form of mental activity there is—next to hate, which is deeply self destructive. Worry is pointless. It is wasted mental energy. It also creates bio-chemical reactions which harm the body, producing everything from indigestion to coronary arrest, and a multitude of things in between. Worry, hate, fear—together with their offshoots: anxiety, bitterness, impatience, avarice, unkindness, judgmentalness, and condemnation—all attack the body at the cellular level. It is impossible to have a healthy body under these conditions."

"If you want guarantees in life, then you don’t want life. You want rehearsals for a script that’s already been written. Life by its nature cannot have guarantees or its whole purpose is thwarted. Know and understand that there will be challenges and difficult times. Don’t try to avoid them. Welcome them. Gratefully. Cultivate the technique of seeing all problems as opportunities. Opportunities to...be, and decide, Who You Really Are."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Worst Movies: Number 4

1997 was one of my favorite moviegoing years. It started with the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy and ended with the behemoth "Titanic" (I go into much greater detail on the films I liked that year here). I went to dozens of movies in '97, so it's no surprise that one was a complete dud. The 4th worst movie I ever attended was a sci-fi/horror flick starring Sam Neill from "Jurassic Park".



Here's a brief synopsis of the film (courtesy of Reel Views):

"In the year 2047, the deep space rescue craft Lewis & Clark departs on a two-month journey to Neptune. Their primary mission is to go into a low orbit around Neptune and make contact with the deep space research vessel Event Horizon, which was initially thought destroyed seven years ago. The would-be rescuers are to search for survivors and salvage anything that's reclaimable, but no one is prepared for the horror that lurks deep within the dark corridors of the dead ship."

Like number 5 (Blair Witch 2), this is a movie where it didn't get really bad until the last half hour or so (the previous 60 minutes was just foreplay). As the paragraph above indicates, it did start out with a good premise, but just fell apart as time went on. There are a number of great sci-fi/horror flicks out there (Alien & Aliens, in particular), but this one wasn't even a quarter as good as those.

More interesting than the movie itself was what occured at the screening: There were two teenagers sitting a few rows in front of me and throughout the film, especially near the end, one of them would jump when something scary happened, and it wasn't a minor jump, either (he was genuinely startled). He did this at least 5 times. Pretty funny stuff. I wonder if his buddy knew about this prediliction beforehand.

Like "Blair 2", this movie can be watched in its entirety on YouTube. Go here to get started.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Reach Out and Touch Someone

I sometimes miss the days of having a conventional phone. You know, the kind you could slam on somebody's head and they'd be unconscious for half an hour. Remember how if you were really pissed at someone, you could slam the headset on its base and the person on the other end would get their eardrums blown? You can't do that with mobile devices. Close your flip phone and the other person will just think you're out of range. I have an old-school phone in my basement and am tempted to hook it up for shiggles. I remember twisting my finger around the cord while yakking it up with friends and how you couldn't leave the room while on it: You were stuck there until the conversation was over.

I watched a great independent movie a couple weeks ago called "We Don't Live Here Anymore".


Starring one of my all-time favorite actresses, Naomi Watts, as well as Mark Ruffalo, it tells the story of a guy and a girl (both of whom are married) who are having a affair. The film is set in the early 90's which makes sense because if you think about it, cheating can't be as easy these days as it once was, not with the advent of the cell phone. In the early days of Clinton, you could tell your beloved you were gonna be out for four hours and there was no way they could find you or check up on what you were doing, not unless you followed them or hired a private dick (pun intended). Though not a masterpiece, the movie was quite satisfying in three major ways: it dealt with real emotions, had no special effects, and gave me much to think about after watching it.

Two decades ago, my brothers were the kings of getting maximum use out of Alexander Bell's invention. On many evenings, they would call pizza places and have them deliver to a house up the street. It would always be amusing watching (from their house in the dark) the pizza man going up to the house and telling the occupant he had the pizza they "ordered". On one occasion, the guy actually bought the pizza. They would also call cabs to the same house and watch as the driver sat in his cab, waiting for his "customer" to come out. After a couple minutes, he would honk his horn. The boys always loved watching what would transpire. One time, two cabs from different companies were both in front of the house at the same time.

Monday, December 08, 2008

FOX Apologizes For Showing Schlong



Minnesota Viking Visanthe Shiancoe was inadvertently shown naked on television while a FOX camera crew taped owner Zygi Wilf’s presentation of the game ball to coach Brad Childress’ 19-year-old son Andrew, who is joining the Marine Corps on Monday. Shiancoe was standing behind and to the side of Wilf with a towel partly covering his body. But not completely.“It obviously was an oversight on our part and we apologize,” said FOX Sports vice president of Communications Dan Bell.

In a separate piece, Shiancoe later said to a reporter, "How'd it look?"

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Worst Movies: Number 5

As 2008 draws to a close, I'm counting down the 5 worst movies I've ever been to. This only includes films I went to see at the theatre (nothing I saw on TV or video). Let's begin, shall we?

Number 5 was a sequel to a movie I actually liked. Part 2 had a much bigger budget, but was less than half as good as the first. I didn't realize how bad it was until the last half hour (guess I was hoping it'd get better). The movie I'm referring to is 2000's "Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows".



The entirety of the film can be viewed on YouTube. Click here to begin, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thanksgiving at Old Country Buffet

I spent last Thursday afternoon with a friend of mine. He has no family in the area, so I sought to show him a good time on Thanksgiving Day. We watched some of the Titans' annihilation of the Lions before heading to one of the only restaurants open that day, Old Country Buffet.


I'm not a fan of buffets and rarely go to them (I prefer to have my food cooked to order and at regular restaurants, the likelihood of running into a carny is significantly less). I was able to compromise, however (especially when I found a coupon that reduced our admission from $12.50/person to $9.50).

We arrived a little after 3pm figuring that since it was the middle of the day, there wouldn't be as many people there. Boy, were we surprised. The line was almost out the door. Nothin' to do but wait. We talked as the line steadily moved. While engaged in conversation, I noticed a lady, a hostess, who looked quite a bit like a girl that I graduated with almost two decades ago. She was wearing glasses and a bit heavier than back then, but dang if she wasn't the spitting image of her. Why would she be working here, I thought. Oh yeah, that's right, we're in a recession.

As we got closer to the cashier, I hoped I would see my favorite buffet cliche', a big guy wearing overalls with a John Deere cap. There were people of all stripes at the restaurant. It was a regular global village. Obama would be proud. As we got close to the front of the line, I noticed people were having trouble finding seats. Yikes. I might have to eat turkey on the floor.

It was just then that I got a good look at the girl who resembled my former classmate. My eyes widened. It was her. This was proven conclusively 5 seconds later when I saw her nametag. I told my friend (who graduated the same year as I). He said he didn't remember her as clearly, but felt she looked familiar. After we paid for our grub, I said, "Hi" to her and believed she recognized the two of us. Luckily, we were able to get a booth right away.

The line to get turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberries, and all that jazz was not inconsequential. It actually snaked back around itself (kinda like W). I had a bit of a problem figuring it all out (though not as much as this guy). I told my friend to have a go while I held our seat and got something to drink (two small glasses of blue Powerade). I noticed in the center of the buffet a guy carving turkey, ham, and steak. Boy, was his arm gonna be tired tomorrow.

Most everyone in the restaurant was in a good mood (though some were more antsy than others to eat). Feeling our seat was safe, I got in line. Determined not to overdo it, I wound up getting a medium cut of turkey, some mashed tatoes, a cinnamon roll (I'd forgotten its pleasures), and a smidge of cranberry sauce. Oh, and a slice of pizza (I was probably the only person over 30 that day to take one).

My friend and I talked about work, social activities we've pursued of late, and the Marxist tendencies of Obama.



While eating, I noticed a man of Asian descent working quite feverishly at clearing tables and getting people refills of water and coffee. As my friend went up for another helping, I gave the man a dollar bill (I would've given more, but only had 5's and 20's besides the single). Nonetheless, he was incredibly happy when I gave it to him (he must not get many tips).

The high school lady walked past our table a couple times while we ate, but didn't look at me, instead taking a gander at my buddy. Had I lost my touch? Was she pretending to look at him while looking at me out of her peripheral? Did she notice me eating with my left-hand and feel she should steer clear of such madness? No matter. It was good to see someone I remembered fondly from my high school days.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Christmas Time Is Here

I have just over 40 Christmas CD's. Some are great (Chris Isaak), some not so much (Toby Keith). My collection tilts heavily in the country direction since that was my favorite type of music from 1992-2001. No matter the quality, I like to listen to all my Xmas discs during the holiday season. To do this, I need to listen to at least one per day (I usually take one or two discs with me in the morning and am able to listen to at least a half hour's worth of music over the course of a day).

When going to purchase Christmas presents (hopefully not at Wal-Mart), I'll bring my headset along and knock out a few discs. I have a new Christmas disc to listen to this year. Several months ago, I purchased "Now That's What I Call Christmas 2" at Goodwill for a few bucks, knowing I wouldn't be listening to any of the tracks until at least late November. The same thing happened a couple years ago with Chris Isaak.

One of my favorite Christmas discs is Diana Krall's Christmas Songs.



It's perfect for a cold night at home. A few of the tracks are downright melancholy, not a bad thing since the holiday season isn't always happy (you can sample the tracks at the above link). My favorite song on the disc is a remake of the Peanuts classic, "Christmas Time Is Here". Here's what one reviewer says of Krall's version of the song: "Christmas Time" is quiet and poignant. It just seems to whisper to the night sky to loose its grip on the powdered snow while the fire rages from the hearth. It comes draped in that blanket of warm fuzzy feelings."

This is one of the most heartwarming holiday videos you'll ever see.

Whatever kind of Christmas music you like, whether it's Josh Groban, Alvin & the Chipmunks, or none at all, may you all have a very blessed holiday season.

Hello, Everybody

By Joe Kita

Hello.



It's one of the first words we learn as babies, yet it's one of the last ones we think to use as adults. In our never-ending rush to get something or somewhere, it seems we don't have time anymore for this most basic of gestures. And that's unfortunate, because saying hello is more than just saying hello. It is an acknowledgment of existence. It is a pause, however brief, to affirm another's worth (and have yours affirmed in return). How might the world change-how might we change—if we mastered this word? To find out, I spent one month saying hello to every person I met. That meant strangers on the street, people in cyberspace, and even myself in the mirror every morning. Here's what I learned:

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Dream Church

Since I’m more of a spiritual person than a religious one, I don’t go to church, but if some church were to put together something like the following, I would turn into a regular so fast it would make a Hoot Owl’s head spin:

Have all seating be extremely comfortable, ridiculously comfortable like the finest movie theatres. Serve a wide variety of healthy juices, Crystal Light Fruit Punch, in particular. Start the service by playing some really groovy techno music and encourage parishioners to dance with others of the opposite sex, even if married. Watch one of those cool videos where it looks like you’re traveling through space really fast (like at the end of “2001”).


Have everyone look at the person next to them, say “I love you” and actually mean it. Sing a few inspiring songs like Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach” and Britney’s “Piece of Me”.



Go over a few pages of works by Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, or Neale Donald Walsch. Have someone speak of specific ways to let more love into one’s life (hint: give more love). Pray for Joe the Plumber (even though he's not actually a plumber). Do a 15-minute seated meditation. Give hugs freely as others share what they’re going through.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Colege

I attended Winona State University in the early 90's. Here's a beautiful picture of the campus in winter time:



One thing I liked about college is that you could sit anywhere you wanted in the classes. I've always enjoyed sitting in the back row and off to the side. That way, the number of people that can stare at me is kept to an absolute minimum. In the rear, I don't have to be concerned about people talking behind me, distracting from what the professor has to say.

It's been generally proven that those who sit the closest to the front tend to get the highest grades and vice versa for those who sit in the rear. I was a happy exception to this rule as I didn't let sitting back there distract me in any way from what the teacher had to say. My eyesight was perfect, so I had no problem seeing the board from 30 feet away.

One of the most boring college classes I ever had was Human Resources. Not only was the subject matter incredibly dry, but the teacher totally spoon-fed us the book (she didn't lecture so much as just read the chapters to us). To make matters worse, we had to sit in a circle as if we were about to play musical chairs. One afternoon, I couldn't take it anymore, so took an earbud out of my pocket and placed it in my right ear (which faced away from the teacher). I pressed play on my cassette player and listened to a number of country tunes (my favorite genre at the time). That made things a tad more tolerable. A couple people noticed me doing this, but didn't say anything. I'm definitely not the only one who was put to sleep by her. Check out these quotes from her RateMyProfessor page:

"She is so boring! Never actually worked in the industry, so really has no valid teaching experience. Reads right out of the book."
"She makes dirt seem more exciting than this class. She curses like a sailor and rambles."
"Very boring. She will put you to sleep. She can be witty and a little funny at times but dry as hell."
"She is the most boring, old fashioned hag I've ever met."
"Her lecture notes are so old that the paper has a yellow tinge to it."
"She treats you like you're in grade school...every other seat or different color tests so you don't cheat!!! She's a weirdo alright"
"When she talks, watch out, don't sit in the front, cause when she says it, she sprays it as well!"

One class that I still can't believe I made it through was Statistics II. I had to drop it one quarter because I came down with depression. About a year later, I had to take it again, but all they had available was an 8am class twice a week that lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. Being able to drag my ass to that class every Tuesday and Thursday is something I'm proud of to this day. The man who taught it is actually the husband of the woman who taught the Human Resources class described above. Here's his RateMyProfessor page and some choice quotes from it (you'll notice a pattern start to form):

"Likes to crack jokes just to wake ppl up at 7.30 in the morning"
"Pretty good Prof. He has a nice curve so you should be able to get a B. You'll get a C for sure."
"He likes to make a lot of jokes that occasionally end in awkward silences."
"A mad scientist I say! So many little quirks and idiosyncracies. Awesome guy and fairly easy. Sometimes lectures on a masters level, but doesn't test on it. Makes jokes about material and no one understood it enough to find it funny!"
"The guy tries to have fun in class but he says jokes that no one laughs at because they can't feel their arm from writing notes constantly for an hour and a half."
"Jokes are definitely odd...just laugh and he'll move on..."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hearing Voices

I believe that I get a bit more enjoyment out of reading than most people. How so? Well, when I read an interview with, say, Conan O'Brien, I recall what he sounds like in real life and then use that voice in my head when reading what he has say. This makes the interview much more interesting as it feels like I'm listening to an audio recording of the person as opposed to just reading about them.

One of the most fun interviews I ever read in this way was a profile of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon on the release of their film "Ocean's Thirteen" last year.



I loved changing the voices in my head (shit, that makes me sound crazy, dun'it) as each one said what was on their mind. If you've never done this before, give it a shot:

TIME: When you have so many stars in a movie, and it's the third in a trilogy, how do you keep it from going off the rails and becoming Cannonball Run 3?

CLOONEY: Well, we like to think it's more like Lord of the Rings, in the trilogy sense.

PITT: Wait, what's wrong with Cannonball Run 3?

DAMON: I don't even think there was a Cannonball 3. Look, you have us confused with deep thinkers. You've already put more thought into why we did the movie than we did.

TIME: Shall we talk politics for a moment? I'm sure like most actors you're all watching the Republican field, just waiting for a candidate to get behind.

CLOONEY: I'm just hoping Gingrich gets in. Come on, Newt! Actually there's a really good field out there. I like Barack Obama a lot. I've spent some time with him.

PITT: You just cost him votes.

CLOONEY: I've actually had that conversation with him, just saying "Look, I'll give you whatever support you need—including staying completely away from you." Actors have done a lot of damage to candidates lately. My father ran for Congress in 2004, and it was "Hollywood vs. the Heartland!" My father was Hollywood.

PITT: I'm just hungry for some honesty and leadership. And I'm following them all—on all sides.

DAMON: I'm an Obama guy too. I think a lot of the problems in the world would be mitigated if he were the face of our country. I haven't ever met him or talked to him, but he's the first person in a long time who I've been inspired by.

CLOONEY: When other politicians stop and listen, that's how you know what charisma is. You can't teach that. He walks into a room and you go, "That's a leader."

TIME: As we're talking, there are paparazzi in boats out in the harbor taking pictures. Having just been through the celebrity muck of Cannes, who gets it the worst?

CLOONEY: There's no question, it's Brad.

PITT: Well, exponentially, with us together ...

CLOONEY: But even before he was with [Angelina Jolie], we used to chum the water with him.

PITT: This is not a joke. They used to send me out to take the hits.

CLOONEY: We were at the airport in Italy. So I walk off the plane, and it's "Hey, Giorgio!" And I go, "Look! Brad Pitt!" and they're gone.

DAMON: You described it once as "People were stepping on our faces trying to get to Brad."

PITT: Ah, well, I don't take it as a compliment.

I was recently given Obama's 2006 book "The Audacity of Hope". Since I hear Barack's voice in my head as soon as I open the book, I must read each page at the rate and cadence in which he would speak it. This means no speed reading (Obama never speaks fast). It'll take me that much longer to read it, but for authenticity's sake, I think it'll be worth it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I Was Naughty Yesterday

I went to Wal-Mart, but the behemoth wound up getting the last laugh. I was running an errand right next door, so figured I'd pick up a few groceries. Upon my entry, I noticed a 20-foot tall Christmas tree displayed. Even worse, Christmas music was being played. I looked in my jacket for earplugs, but there were none to be found. I'd have to make this quick.

As I headed to Health & Beauty, I felt a sneeze coming on. I do something quite unique when this happens in public. Just as I'm about to blow, I jump up in the air so that I'm actually airborne as I sneeze. I'm not sure why I do this. Probably just to draw attention. After I did so yesterday, I noticed a guy looking in my direction, but was on too much of a "high" to return his gaze.

The first thing I threw in my buggy were a couple jars of Carmex. I noticed two teens with baseball hats looking at the contraceptives. I saw another guy behind them waiting to pick some up himself. Damn, tis the season...for nookie. I was tempted to go up to the display, take a pack of Magnums off the shelf and then note their reactions, but the Christmas music was tempering my usual playfulness.

Next, I headed to the grocery department. Going through the snacks aisle, I noticed they were out of my favorite chocolate treat, Oreo Cakesters. They had the Double Chocolate Cakesters and the Nilla ones, but not the originals. I knew I'd have to go to Hy-Vee to obtain them in the next couple days.

I was almost out of my Healthy Choice French Bread Supreme Pizzas, so looked forward to picking up a bundle of them. Wouldn't you know, they were out of that, too. They had several dozen of the Pepperoni variety, but that's not what I like to spend my bucks on.

Realizing that the Wall's was out of my two favorite foods convinced me to just get everything at the grocery store. I put the chocolate milk I'd picked up amongst a bunch of refrigerated Butterball turkeys (I was too lazy to drag it back to dairy) so it wouldn't spoil and then left my partially-filled cart near the avocados.

You may have won this time, Wal-Mart, but doggonit, if Al Franken ends up winning the recount, you're gonna be in for a world of hurt.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Change You Can Conceive In

The theory is almost too perfect to be true. Barack Obama, the son of politically progressive parents, was born Aug. 4, 1961—almost nine months to the day after John F. Kennedy was elected to the White House. Is it possible Obama was conceived on that historic night?

And if so, could history repeat itself? In the hours and days since Obama's victory, many of his exhilarated supporters have been, shall we say, in the mood for love.


And though it's too soon to know for sure, experts aren't ruling out the possibility of an Obama baby boom—the kind of blip in the national birth rate that often follows a seismic event, whether it's scary (a terrorist attack) or celebratory (the end of World War II). "The mood of the country and the optimism about leadership is always somewhat related to birth rates," says Dr. Manny Alvarez, chief of reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "I'm gearing up for a healthy increase."

Hope and euphoria, says University of Washington sociologist Pepper Schwartz, are a serious aphrodisiac. And voters under 30 went for Obama by a margin of 2 to 1. When you combine those two elements—randy people of child-bearing age—the likely result is what the online Urban Dictionary has already dubbed "Obama Babies" : children "conceived after Obama was proclaimed President, by way of celebratory sex." "If the amount of alcohol, happy people and major functions on election night is any indication, I suspect we'll indeed see a boom," says 25-year-old Brandon Mendelson, a graduate student in Albany, N.Y., who says he changed his vote at the last minute because "I wanted to be able to tell our future children that we voted for Obama."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Ode to Carmex

In the early 90's, being outside quite a bit, I acquired a taste for Chapstick. It was serviceable for a time, but once I had a taste of Carmex, there was no going back.


Every couple weeks, I pick a few jars up at the store. Thankfully, they're not as costly as cigarettes or subject to a sin tax (though they probably should be). If I were deserted on a desert island, there's three things I'd want with me: Carmex, Conversations With God Book I, and my life-partner.

This article talks about the addictiveness of Carmex. Here's some choice bits from it:

"Although Carmex has been available since 1987 in small plastic tubes, the true junkie consumes it only in its original and pure state, from milky-white glass mini-jars. An inch deep and the diameter of a half-dollar, a Carmex pot is not convenient, modern or unobtrusive. In the back pocket of a pair of jeans, it makes you look deformed.

By the time you develop into a full-blown Carmex junkie - after the first swipe is offered by "a friend" - it wouldn't matter if the container were the size of a baby goat. You would carry it everywhere. And stash one in your car and an extra in your desk and another on your nightstand.

The little pot is part of what the grandson of Carmex's creator calls, "the whole gestalt of Carmex." Take the jar away and Carmex loses some of its mystery.

"The jars are kind of our trademark," said Paul Woelbing by phone from Carma Lab, Inc., in Franklin, Wis. "You know, I can recognize the sound of one of those caps coming off even in a big lecture hall."

Can't we all? The easiest way to discover a Carmex addict is to produce a little pot and unscrew the yellow-and-black lid. An addict will pounce, index finger or pinkie extended, and moan, "Ooooh. Can I have some?"

Never in Carmex's history have the Woelbings advertised or marketed their product"

I think the primary reason I like it so much is because once applied, I rarely have to lick my lips. I tried Cherry Carmex a few years ago, but didn't find it medicinal enough for my tastes (pun intended).

To get an idea of how frequently I use it, check this out:

When going to a movie, I put some on before it starts.
When getting a massage, I put a significant amount on since it will be 90 minutes before I can put some on again.
Before starting my shift at work, there is an application.
Before going to bed...
Before making a shit...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chocolate Thunder from Down Under

My long-time readers are well aware that when going to the movies, I like to tell the cashier, "I'll take one to..." and then say a few words that are a twist on the title of the movie I want to see. For some reason, this tends to make me come off as a total dumb-ass.

I've pretty much pressured myself to give a fake title to every movie I go to now. On many afternoons, I'll be in the parking lot and think, "Oh shit, what am I gonna tell the lady?" That's exactly what went through my head last night as I entered the theatre to see the new James Bond movie "Quantum of Solace". Due to my lack of time, all I could come up with was "Quantum Leap". Some inspired ones from this past year can be found below:

The Spiderwick Chronicles - Spider-Man

Iron Man - Steel Man

Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Illinois Jones

Hancock - HisCock

Tropic Thunder - Chocolate Thunder from Down Under (a dessert at the Outback)

Pineapple Express - Pineapple Juice

The Happening - What's Happening

Disaster Movie - Scary Movie

House Bunny - Bunny Rabbit

The X-Files - The Sex Files

Ghost Town - Ghost

W. - X.

Zach & Miri Make a Porno - Let's Make a Porno

Thursday, November 13, 2008

2002 Part IV

Since I missed it at first-run, I saw “The Sum of All Fears” starring Affleck and Morgan Freeman at the cheap theatre (trailer).



Based on a book by Tom Clancy about a terrorist attack at the Super Bowl, it shoulda been a winner, but was a bit of a letdown for me.

The Bourne Identity” starring Affleck’s best friend, Matt Damon, was a much better spy thriller (a 4th “Bourne” film is in the works).



Damon stars as a trained killer who suffers from amnesia, having no idea how it is that he can kill a guy with his bare hands in 12 seconds (he should wear a shirt that says, “Bourne To Be Bad”). Very riveting stuff (trailer).

Being an Adam Sandler fan since his SNL days, I went to “Mr. Deeds” on its opening weekend. After being disappointed by “Big Daddy”, I wasn’t expecting much, but did get a few laughs out of it. I love the opening of the trailer where it says "Rated PG-13 for language and some rear nudity".

XXX” starring Vin Diesel was (unfortunately) not what you might think. It’s an action vehicle for Diesel (vehicle, Diesel, get it) to show off his stuff. It had one of the weakest climaxes I’ve ever seen in a film in that the final 20 minutes consists of Diesel pursuing an unmanned boat that is carrying a bomb. Most action flicks have a mano-e-mano fight between the two protagonists at its conclusion, not this one. Thumbs down.

One of the worst films I’ve ever seen was one I was talked into seeing at the cheap theatre. The reviews said it was total garbage, but I thought, “What the heck? It can’t be that bad”. It was. The film: “Scooby-Poo”.

The Ring”, however, is one of my favorites from the year.



The concept is very compelling and based on an Asian film: a videotape is circulating that causes one to die seven days after viewing it. Naomi Watts is brilliant as a newspaper reporter who has a very convincing reason to look into the origin of the tape: she’s already watched it. Another thing I love about the movie is it takes place in Seattle, which perfectly suits the mood of the film. Watts spends some of her time investigating at a lighthouse and has a weird encounter with a horse. Though not on the graphic side (the film is actually rated PG-13), “The Ring” got under my skin big-time. Check out the trailer for a sampling. A lesser sequel was released a couple years later, but it did nothing to lessen my admiration for the original.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

Me In a Church

As a favor to a friend, I went to church this past weekend for the first time in more than half a decade. Many things went through my mind while there...

"I could never go to this church. There's not one hot chick to be found".

"Why don't these seats rock?"

"Why do the kids get to read secular materials during the service?"

I'm so used to movie theatres that when a mom and her child kept talking, I really had to restrain myself not to say, "Shhh!"

I was quite surprised to find that I was still able to quickly find Bible books and verses (Galatians is late New Testament, Numbers is early Old). I learned this skill as a young'un.

If only the Bible included the superior Gospel of Thomas; this is my favorite quote from it:

"The Kingdom of God is within you, not in buildings of wood and stone.
Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and you will find me."

Sunday, November 09, 2008

December 25th



I wish Jesus hadn't been born at the end of December. Why? Well, the way it's set up now, there's a logjam of holidays in the last six weeks of the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's). I love getting those days off, but the downside is there isn't crap for holidays in the first few months of the new year.

I think it would've been better if the Almighty had been born in, say, early February. That way, when the Christmas season ended, winter would be almost over as well. The way it is now, when Christmas is over, we still have close to 3 months left of winter. :(

Turns out the date was made up, anyway, so what would it hurt to change it to Groundhog's (Christ sees his shadow on the 3rd day)?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wedge Issue

Wouldn't it be great if, for just one day out of the year, we could act like kids again with no consequences? Specifically, if I wanted to give someone a wedgie who I encountered on the street, I could do so. Bonus points if they cried after.



It could be an all-day thing with kickball and dodgeball tournaments taking place in the afternoon. Later, in the showers, we could whip towels at each others' backsides while being careful not to gaze at the packages of guys over 6 feet tall.

In the evening, a game of Doctor might be in order for those who are attracted to each other. If necessary, some patients might need to stay until sunrise for overnight observation.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Scuzz Bucket



"I recognize that because of my margin of victory, Mr. Franken has the right to pursue an official review of the election results. It is up to him whether such a step is worth the tax dollars it will take to conduct."

Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman, after beating Al Franken by 725 votes (that lead has now been cut to 239). More than 2 million votes were cast. Recounts are required by state law for races where the margin is less than one half of one percent.

Strong Sexual Content

Last weekend, I went to Kevin Smith's new one, "Zach & Miri Make a Porno". More graphic than I was expecting (one of the females starring in the porno is constipated, use your imagination on what happened), but very funny, nonetheless. Here's the trailer if you're not familiar with the film:



As the credits rolled, most of the audience got up to leave. I stayed. This is something I've done for years, especially for comedies. In many cases, an extra 20 seconds to 2 minutes of footage can be seen at the very end (after all the credits have rolled). Even if there turns out to be nothing else, I like waiting for the crowd to disperse before exiting and enjoy hearing some of the film's music without any dialogue running over it.

For "Zach & Miri", the credits rolled for about 100 seconds before stopping completely. A 2-minute scene then ran. I nodded my head. Near the front, I noticed another group had elected to stay. Guess I'm not the only smart one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Live-Blogging Election Day 2008

10:48am - Just prayed to Allah for an Obama victory tonight. I know I'm not the only one.



11:10am - Off to the polls.

11:16am - I brought a TIME magazine to read while waiting in line, but forget about it. My wait to fill out a ballot is a mere 90 seconds. Ah, yes, the good old-fashioned paper ballot. If it was good enough for my grandpappy, it's good enough for me. I just filled in the oval, heh, heh, just like the Oval Office for Barack Hussein Obama. Who the fuck put his middle name on the ballot? Mother fuckers! Recount, recount! Al Franken, check. Why? Because he's good enough, he's smart enough, and doggonit, he's a Democrat. Some of the lesser races I'm voting for the person whose signs I've seen around town the least. I figure they could use my vote much more than the other guys. Voted yes for increasing the sales tax about half a percent to care for our natural resources. Talk about a no-brainer. The machine I put my ballot in says that 583 have voted so far today. Most of the other people voting are between their twenties and forties. I assume all the seniors voted when the place opened at 7am.

11:42am - I put my Obama lawn sign in an even more prominent place than I had it before.

11:58am - An Obama volunteer rings the doorbell asking if I've voted yet.

12:31pm - For the first time ever, Zoe caught the frisbee I threw to her. This bodes well for tonight.

1:46pm - Off to take Zoe for a walk.



4:36pm - Heading to Friday's for an anticipatory celebration.

6:02pm - Vermont! (Obama has 3 electoral votes)

6:23pm - I'm watching MSNBC tonight, by the way.

7:03pm - Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware, District of Columbia (103 EV)

8:04pm - New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Rhode Island (175 EV)

8:23pm - Ohio! (195)

8:32pm - New Mexico (200)

9:05pm - Iowa (207)

10:02pm - California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii (284)

10:03pm - Barack Obama is elected President of the United States!!!

10:08pm - Virginia (297)

10:14pm - Colorado (306)

10:16pm - Florida (333)

10:36pm - Nevada (338)

11:22pm - My eyes well up as the families of Barack and Biden wave to the crowd.



12:03am - Taking a bath while reading the latest ish of Newsweek (this is getting to be navel-gazing to the nth).

1:09am - Indiana (349)

Monday, November 03, 2008

White America

Frank Rich (of the New York Times) and Keith Olbermann recently discussed a disturbing aspect of the Republican Party:

OLBERMANN: There was something else that I thought while watching the (Obama-Bill Clinton rally) from Kissimmee that Clinton pointed out-the diversity of the crowd. It's a nice polite way of saying something that is unpleasant, but true, I think. If you looked at the McCain crowds early on, it was not that darker faces were totally missing, but there were few, they were scattered. If you watch now, it seems to me there are almost none, especially at the Palin events.



There's homogeneity to those crowds. And again, I'm trying to be as nice as possible about this, but only Clinton could get away with saying that in that way, don't you think?

RICH: I agree. And I don't think we have to be quite so nice about it. The fact is, this isn't South Africa 25 years ago, this is a major political party that is essentially all white. And the hierarchy of it is definitely all white. There hasn't been a new black Republican elected to federal office, I think, in six years. And so, what does that tell us about the party and how does that look to voters? I think it looks like it's the party of the last century. It looks bad-not only is it morally bad, but politically. I think it's idiotic because it's against the whole demographics of this country and where they are going.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Live-Blogging from Fawcett's Crematorium

October 31, 2008

This is what the place looks like in the daytime:



7:18pm - I just arrived. I never show up until it's already dark out. People look at you too suspiciously. My VCR is set up to tape Ghost Hunters Live tonight. Hope they find something cool.

7:25pm - I didn't bring marshmallows this time. When I stepped on the scale this morning, it said I was 167 and that's a couple pounds over where I want to be, so I don't intend to eat until tomorrow night when I go to Friday's.

7:32pm - I'm hearing the cries of children every few minutes. This is probably the peak time for kids to be out trick-or-treating. I wouldn't mind having some candy myself right now.

7:43pm - It's not too cold out this evening, maybe upper 50's. Minnesota Halloweens are typically much cooler. In case you were wondering, I'm here by myself. My friend is pulling an all-nighter at Kwik Trip.

7:51pm - I was thinking of meditating for half an hour, but forgot to bring my earplugs. Shit, I think someone's coming.

7:54pm - False alarm.

8:04pm - You may be wondering why I come here on Halloween. It's basically so I can experience something paranormal. The most otherworldly thing I've ever experienced was hearing the first dog I ever had barking a couple times after she had passed on. I wasn't the only one to hear it, either. I'm looking for something a bit more spooky tonight, just want to feel a presence, I suppose, a full body if I'm lucky. It would be so awesome to see an apparition that I'd probably vote for McCain as a thank you to God. Wait, that doesn't even make sense.

8:12pm - My luck would probably be better if this was England, Ireland, or the redneck part of Pennsylvania. lol

8:23pm - Alright, I give up. I'm heading home to watch Bill Maher and maybe have a few Fun Size Milky Ways. Why do they call them Fun Size? What's so fun about getting two bites of a candy bar? Isn't it much more fun to get a full serving? Whatever...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pop's Cave

In the late summer of 1993, two of my college friends asked if I'd like to go with them to a place in Wisconsin called Pop's Cave. I'd never really been in a cave before and felt it'd be a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We left early in the morning with a change of clothes and plenty of supplies. The day was overcast, but that wasn't a concern as the cave was underground.

The leader of our group was a guy named Brock Friedman. Originally from Illinois, he was a big geology buff and greatly looked forward to going through the cave. The other fellow, from Wisconsin, went by the name of Daniel. Brock and Daniel (along with two others) elected to spend the summer in a house in Winona rather than go back home only to return in the fall (we were all students at Winona State University). I remember Brock mentioning a few times that he had a fear of driving up hills. He didn't know where this originated (perhaps he was a wheelburrow in a past life).

It was lightly sprinkling as we arrived at our destination. In order to get to the cave, we first had to climb a reasonably steep hill and then hike about half a mile. The rain had started to make the side of the hill (which was mostly sand) awfully muddy. We grabbed onto branches as we ascended. I was quite surprised that I didn't slip into the mud at all. My pants were clean. The worst was over.

We continued our hike with Brock leading. The rain was starting to increase. About 10 minutes later, we saw a sign that said "Pop's Cave" and proceeded to enter. The light from the sky gradually decreased as we descended. The other guys couldn't wait to get deeper, but it was then that I started hesitating.



The cave was going to be completely dark and all we had were a couple floodlights. What bothered me even more were the constrained quarters. This wasn't as big a cave as I'd hoped. I'm sure it eventually opened up more, but my fear started to get the best of me and I told the guys I couldn't go any further. They asked if I was sure. I said I was and headed back up to the real world. What a relief to get outta that hole.

I remember that Brock had locked all the car doors which was a bummer since I really woulda liked just relaxing in a dry car while waiting for the completion of their expedition. Screw it. I'm gonna head down there, anyway. So I walked back towards the top of the hill and then went down it. This time, I did get my pants dirty. Fudge.

I wanted one of the car doors to be open in the worst way, but knew they weren't. I crossed the road and went to open one of the doors. OMG! One of them was open. How could this be? I was incredibly thankful at my good fortune (God?) and changed clothes in the car. The time in Brock's car gave me time to reflect on life. Several months before, I'd been diagnosed with major depression, but with the help of therapy, medication, and Godfather's pizza, I was able to return to life with renewed vigor. I rested for a while, thankful for everything in my life.

I don't know how long it was before the guys showed up, 90 minutes, 2 hours, I didn't have a watch, so had no idea. I told them about the door being open. They told me how much fun they'd had exploring. We were all in a good mood as we headed back to Minnesota. Brock mentioned he wanted to stop in LaCrosse to pick up some kind of anime vid. We watched it that evening as our big day came to a close. Though the day was nothing like what'd I planned, I went to bed grateful for the opportunity to spend time with friends and feeling that perhaps a bloke named God just might be on my side.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Where Do You Want to Spend Eternity?

It's always been my dream to work at a crematorium. Since I'm not likely to get my wish (due to a misunderstanding in Grand Forks), this post is probably the closest I'll get until I pass on. Yes, I plan to be cremated once all the life in this body is gone. Cremation rates have steadily gone up over the past couple decades. Since it's your body, it up to you to decide if you'd prefer it to be burned to a crisp or slowly decompose over many decades. I prefer cremation since I'm a cut-to-the-chase kinda guy and think the whole casket and burial thing is too much too macabre and Edgar Allen Poe-ish.



I would prefer that my ashes be disposed of, not kept in a urn or some crap like that. I've often kidded that I wouldn't mind if they were thrown into the cat's litter box.

I've been to a number of cemeteries over the years and one thing I've noticed is the silence. One, in particular, had tons of trees, but I was unable to hear a single bird. Wonder if they know enough to stay away. Burial might be fine for some people, but I can't say I like the way it's presently done. I think caskets should be made in such a way that over time they decompose (just like the body inside). In that way, the remains are actually incorporated back into the earth as opposed to being encumbered by a box needlessly protecting it from the elements.

Many prefer to be buried for religious reasons. Quite a number of faiths teach that since the body will one day be resurrected, you should keep it in as good a condition as possible, especially after death. Problem is, if you look at a body just a few months postmortem, you'll see there's not much left to resurrect.

This Halloween, as you dance and drink at your favorite cemetery (I'll be roasting marshmallows at Fawcett's Crematorium), ponder for a moment if that is where you truly wish to spend your un-bodied days.

Sucker

Was it Kierkegaard or Mark Wahlberg who once said that learning something new everyday is the key to life? Regardless, here's the juicy tidbit I just came across:

The word "sucker" originally referred to fellatio which helps explain why a guy called this 50 years ago would get so mad. It's hard to believe someone would get angry at being called a "jerk" unless you know that the word is actually a reference to masturbating.



The words "sucks", "bites", and "blows" also originated as sexual insults (P.L.T.).

Here's the full article where I learned this info as well as an interesting passage from it:

"Over time, taboo words relinquish their literal meanings and retain only a coloring of emotion, and then just an ability to arouse attention. This explains why "Close the fucking door", "What the fuck?", "Holy Fuck!", and "Fuck you!" violate all rules of English syntax and semantics—they presumably replaced "Close the damned door", "What in Hell?", "Holy Mary!", and "Damn you!" when religious profanity lost its zing and new words had to be recruited to wake listeners up."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Heartburn

Three years ago, my favorite snack to eat (other than Swiss Cake Rolls, that is) were Taco Doritos. They had just enough spice to keep me interested. Some time later, they came out with Salsa Doritos. I tried a few one evening and liked them even more than the taco ones.

A strange thing started happening, however. After ingesting a significant number of them, I experienced a dull pain in my chest. I had no idea what it was, but quickly came to the conclusion that it had to do with my chip consuming. A quick internet search told me that what I'd been feeling was heartburn. After feeling its symptoms one too many times, I realized I had to stop eating them, so back to the much-more-bland-in-comparison Taco Doritos I went.

About nine months later, I was tempted to walk again on the wild side, but found much to my chagrin, that the stores I frequented weren't selling them anymore. As this thread shows, I wasn't the only one who noticed their disappearance (I love his comment that "I would have an orgasm if I were eating them right now").

Check out this commercial for Salsa Doritos from a few years ago:



What I wouldn't give to have a bag right now.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Perils of Being Left-Handed

I've been a lefty for as long as I can remember.



I had to use the left-handed scissors while making things in kindergarten. On the first day of each school year, I would make sure to sit at a desk that had the arm part on the left side. These desks were harder to come by in high school, so I eventually just got used to sitting in a right-handed one (when taking tests, I would sit facing the right a bit so that my left arm could be supported at least somewhat by the top portion of the desk).

In junior high, my father wanted me to take up golfing, so got me a set of left-handed ones. Turned out that I'm right-handed when it comes to golf (same for bowling, baseball, foosball, etc.) I can use a computer mouse with either hand, though I favor the right.

What percentage of the population is left-handed? Approximately 7 to 10. It's more common in males than females. A recent book called "Right Hand, Left Hand" argues that the proportion of left-handers is rising and left-handed people as a group have historically produced an above-average quota of high achievers. The author says that left-handers' brains are structured differently in a way that widens their range of abilities.

Three of the last four Presidents have been left-handed (W. being the exception). Both Obama and McCain are also Southpaws. Other famous lefties: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain, Aristotle, Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Paul McCartney, Michelangelo, Leonardo DaVinci, Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Nicole Kidman, Robert Redford, Julia Roberts, Robert DeNiro, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves, Jerry Seinfeld, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Celine Dion, Jimi Hendrix, Sting, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Babe Ruth, Greg Louganis, Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner, Dorothy Hamill, Larry Bird, Jimmy Conners, John McEnroe, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Albert Einstein, and Oprah.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wassup! :P 2008

Its been eight long years since the boys said, "Wassup!" to each other. Even with the effects of a down economy and imminent change in the White House, they're still able to come together and stay true to what really matters.

Friday, October 24, 2008

July 24, 1985 (age 14) - Journal entry

Well, I did it. I'm living with my mom now. Just me and her in downtown Winona. Dad got really mad at me when I didn't want to take the trash out last month. He said he couldn't handle me anymore and asked mom if she would take me in. I would've acted up much sooner if I'd known that it would lead to this. :) I'd be even happier with a girlfriend, but this is nice. I get to see my brothers and sister every weekend, but definitely enjoy the quiet I have during the week. One other good thing is I can watch pretty much anything I want on TV now instead of having to share it with the boys. And mom will make whatever I want for supper!

I also get to go to movies whenever I want. Back to the Future is awesome! I've seen it 7 times already. I love movies about time travel and it's got a lot of laughs and a couple Huey Lewis songs in it. Some other good movies I've been to are European Vacation, Fletch, and The Man With One Red Shoe.

I have a paper route now. It pays about $20 a week, so I always have money in my pocket. I buy a LOT of tapes with my paper route money. I bought Simple Minds new one a few days ago. I also think Duran Duran are pretty gnarly.

I went to the rerelease of Return of the Jedi a few months ago. I hadn't seen it in a couple years, so was excited to see it again. Two guys I know from school, Matt Chester and Matt Struck, were there. I loved the movie for the first hour, but after that it was kinda boring. Weird to think of a Star Wars movie as boring.

Oh, crap. I forgot about one other good thing about living with mom. I don't have to go to the Jehovah's Witness meetings anymore. Dad still wanted me to go to them, but I was able to get out of it. :) I hate dressing up and now I can watch Family Ties and The Cosby Show since my Thursdays are now open. I'll miss seeing a few people from the Hall, but the meetings are so boring! Mom doesn't go to them, either.

I bought Weird Al's new tape a couple weeks ago.



It's got a song on it called I Want a New Duck! Get it?!

I also have a 10-speed bike. It's much faster than my old SkyHawk and doesn't have a banana seat!

I start 9th grade this fall. I'll be able to just walk to school now.

Previous entries:

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Southern Sheriff Pulls Over Obama Campaign Bus For Broken Taillight



FOXWORTH, MS—Despite obeying the posted speed limit and having all inspection, registration, and insurance documentation up to date, Sen. Barack Obama's campaign bus was stopped for nearly four hours by Marion County deputy sheriff Dewey Clutter while en route to a Jackson, MS speech, sources reported Tuesday.

According to those on board the bus—including various journalists, members of the Secret Service, and Obama campaign staffers—several minutes passed before Clutter exited his cruiser. Witness statements all mention hearing the sheriff's jackbooted footsteps along the gravel roadside as he slowly approached the vehicle's passenger side. These reports also assert that, prior to reaching the front of the campaign bus, the sheriff paused momentarily to smash the right rear taillight of the bus before dragging his still-drawn baton along the entire length of the vehicle.

"Where's the fire, son?" Clutter, 42, was overheard saying to the Illinois senator and 2008 Democratic presidential nominee. "Driving like that in these parts, what with a busted taillight and all, fella like you liable to get hisself into a whole mess a trouble."

Obama protested briefly before Clutter interrupted the graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, brusquely informing the senator that he could "detain [Obama's] uppity ass for 48 hours without charging [him] with shit."

"Huh. Illinois," Clutter said while scrutinizing Obama's driver's license from behind a pair of mirrored aviator sunglasses. "You a long way from home, ain't ya?"

"Now Barry, someone 'bout your height, 'bout your skin color knocked over a Piggly Wiggly up in New Hebron just a coupla hours ago," Clutter continued. "But you wouldn't know nothin' 'bout that, now would you?"

Clutter then turned to Obama's wife, Michelle, looked her up and down, and wiped his mouth with a handkerchief.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

2002 Part III

Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson have a fender bender and spend the rest of the day on a collision course in the surprisingly good “Changing Lanes”.


If you have any doubts about Ben’s acting ability, they will be gone after viewing this. The movie is a great thesis on how one seemingly insignificant event can change the course of many lives (trailer).

Another good thriller is “Insomnia”, a moody film that stars three Academy Awards winners, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, and Hillary Swank. It takes place in Alaska (yes, Alaska!) and involves a cop (Pacino) who is after a killer (Williams). Check out the evocative trailer.

Williams is quite a baddie in the film, but I bought it. One of the most memorable aspects of the film and one that I hadn’t seen before was the movie taking place in Alaska at a time of year when the sun doesn’t set. As a child, I was fascinated by the idea of living someplace where it was day all the time (or night, for that matter). The film was directed by Chris Nolan who broke through with “Memento” and most recently directed the number two movie of all time, “The Dark Knight”.

Red Dragon” is a prequel to “Silence of the Lambs”. There was talk of Anthony Hopkins’ face undergoing digital youthing to make him look younger since “Lambs” came out more than a decade before, but nothing ever came of it. Edward Norton, one of my favorite actors, also stars. In the end, I was left a tad disappointed by it. Just a tad, though. If you like seeing Lecter go to town, you might wanna check it out (trailer).

The director of “Seven” and “Fight Club”, David Fincher, returned in 2002 with “Panic Room” (trailer). Starring Jodie Foster as a mother who goes with her daughter into a safe room when intruders break in, it’s a very intense experience, though not as good as Fincher’s late 90’s movie “The Game” which starred Michael Douglas.

Road to Perdition” was the second effort from Sam Mendes. His first was my favorite movie of 1999: “American Beauty”. Starring Tom Hanks, Jude Law, and the recently passed Paul Newman, it's a good gangster movie for people who don’t like gangster movies (trailer).



My best friend at the time was a huge Eminem fan. I kinda liked the rapper, though I actually preferred him with peanuts. :P So it was that one weekend afternoon, we went to “8 Mile”. It actually wasn’t too bad. After all the talk of him being anti-gay, I was pleased to see a scene where he stood up for one of them. As the credits rolled and Em’s song “Lose Yourself” started playing, my friend started really getting down with the music. A bit embarrassing, but what can I say, it is a good song.