Friday, May 29, 2009

How Does One Title a Post That Deals With Disparate Subjects?

My beloved returns from sunny Las Vegas later today.

I was asked by a 10-year old last night if I'm looking forward to it. I said, "Kinda". She said, "What do you mean?" I replied, "Well, I wouldn't mind a couple more days on my own". She responded (not untypically for a girl her age): "I'm telling her you said that".

This weekend, I plan to go to a couple ridiculously high-rated new movies: "Drag Me To Hell" (more than 100 reviews; only 6 negative) and "Up" (118 pos, 2 neg). Should be a good time; "Hell" is said to be a very scary one without overdoing it on the gore while Pixar's release from last summer, "Wall-e", wound up being my favorite movie of the year.

I dyed my hair the day before last. If anyone gives me a hard time, I'm just gonna say that it brings out my eyes.

My mother's wedding is rapidly approaching. I've agreed to walk her down the aisle; this doesn't bother me as much as it might some as it's my belief that I've had prior lives with her in which I was quite possibly her predecessor (or at least an uncle or somethin' like that).

I'm also going to videotape the joyous festivities. My mom told me not to perform any fancy camera moves or split-screens. Can you imagine videotaping a wedding in the style of Michael Bay with a cut every 1.5 seconds? That's the main reason I hated "Armageddon".

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Misadventures of a 5-Year Old Pomeranian

Zoe loves days in which I do laundry. It gives her a rare opportunity to go downstairs and have access to the cat's litter box; we usually have a gate up so she can't cause mischief down there. I like to give her a break from time to time, though. As I load clothes into the washer, she sticks her head into the cat box and finds a piece (or two) of doody that smells good and then goes to town on it. This may be repulsive to some, but to each his own.

She also has a thing for women's panties. Whenever she can get her mitts on one of them, she starts licking and then chewing on the crotch section (by the time she's done, they're crotchless). She's destroyed at least a couple dozen of them over the years. Sometimes, when I'm on the computer, she'll look at my wife's laundry bag and then me and make a noise that seems to say, "Please, can I have just one more?". I'm such a pushover, I frequently give in, but have to be careful to throw them out soon after so my beloved doesn't see her pet's latest handiwork.

Many times when I'm just getting into bed, she jumps up on it and vigorously thrusts her pelvis against the comforter. If I were a male Pomeranian, this would be the point where I'd say, "You go, girl!" This behavioral tendency recently compelled my wife to dub her "HUMPty-Dumpty".

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Graduation Day

Twenty years ago this month, I graduated high school (pictured below in the foreground).

However, many of the activities that my fellow seniors participated in, I wanted no part of. I was glad enough that I was finally finishing school and didn't feel the need for a hubbub to made of the occasion. I refused to get a senior pic taken. In early '89, when a graduation questionnaire was passed around in government class, I filled in the box stating that I would not be attending. I only really had one close friend in high school and the rest of the people, I could take or leave. I was also still quite shy at the time and had no desire to be photographed wearing a mortarboard and black dress. Getting a class ring? Forget about it.

I was more excited at the time to see "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade", the first new Indy movie in half a decade. I understood that my social status in high school was mostly my own fault. A couple girls were interested in me in 7th and 8th grade, another in 9th, and still another in 11th. Though they showed obvious interest, I was unable to respond in kind. I'm sure this led a number to believe that I was a BattyBoy. In fact, I seem to recall, upon going to my 15th reunion, overhearing a female classmate making a comment about me attending with a female.

My grades in 7th to 10th grade were mostly shit. As a grade schooler, I was considered high potential, but the divorce of my parents led quite quickly to me losing interest in all academic matters. I stumbled onto good grades again by accident. In the 11th grade, I had a class with a history teacher named Mr. Krueger. He was a no-nonsense guy that only put on the chalkboard things that were going to be on the test. Without studying a whit, I got a test back and was suprised to see that I scored a C+. I got to thinking, "Damn, if I just put a little effort into things, I could be a B or who knows, maybe even an A student".

I proceeded to start taking my books home and really reading the material assigned as I listened to tapes by Genesis, Bobby Brown, and Richard Marx. It wasn't long before the A's and B's started coming in. I really began excelling at Kruger's tests, regularly scoring in the 90's. The positive reinforcement I got when the tests were handed back was worth all the studying.

Because I failed a couple classes in the 10th grade, I never had a study hall during my time in HS. I'd look at the people twiddling their thumbs, for the most part, in study hall and just shake my head.

Below is a pic taken from the second floor of the school (note the smokers on the lower right).

It felt awesome to be back at the top of my class again, just like in grade school. Despite the obvious pride I took in my grades, going to the graduation ceremony wasn't going to happen.

I'm not sure what I did that evening, but at least I'd alerted them that I wasn't attending. So it came as quite a surprise when my high school friend told me some time later that they actually did call my name that evening; after a few seconds passed, they went on to the next person.

Another reason why I didn't go was that it really was just for show, since the diploma wasn't given to the students anyway. I learned that they would be available at the school starting in mid-June. Since I didn't know how to drive at this point, I chose to bike, but not until the weather cooled a bit. It wasn't until July that I rode out there and picked it up. The secretary noted the lateness with which I was obtaining the certificate, but that was par for the course for me since I would be a virgin and not learn to drive until I was 23.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Music

In the late 90's, there were a handful of artists whose music I would buy the day they were released; Tori Amos, Garth Brooks, Vince Gill. The quality of their prior discs led me to believe that their new ones would be slam-dunks. In most of these cases, I'd only heard the lead single, but that was enough for me.

It's now possible to listen to entire albums before deciding to purchase them. I have half a dozen Chris Isaak discs, so felt his new one would be very solid.

I streamed the entire disc on MySpace some time ago and though good, I didn't feel it was worth picking up for $14. I have more than ten albums by Tori Amos, but after streaming her new one on MySpace, will wait on purchasing until I can get it for significantly less (this is probably my favorite track from it). For the heck of it, I even listened to half of Eminem's new one. Just try to stay in a negative place while listening to the five tracks on this page.

It really is a great thing to be able to sample new music in this way. There are few things more disappointing than spending fifteen bucks on a new record and being underwhelmed by it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

When The Cat's Away, Movies Will Play

My partner in life is out of town this week to see her parents and I'm finding myself astonished and very pleased by the quiet. Zoe will bark now and again, of course, but the TV isn't blaring with "Pretty Woman" or "Meet the Parents" for the millionth time, either. Her trip coincides with some much-needed time off work. I'm able to sleep in to my heart's content, to watch the foreign films that I recently Netflixed; "Tell No One" and "Timecrimes" (she doesn't generally like subtitled films). It feels like I'm taking a timeout from life, an opportunity to slow my thoughts to a crawl.

Yesterday, I persuaded an out-of-town friend to come out to Rochester for dinner and a movie. He wanted to see "Wolverine", but I was up for something that wouldn't kill brain me crazy. He agreed to accompany me to "State of Play", a film starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Rachel McAdams.

We went to the late show at the movie theatre closest to my residence. It was like a graveyard there (only 2 others were at our screening). I fear they might not be open too much longer. Course, that's somewhat my fault as I rarely go there. The sole reason I was there yesterday is because it was the only place in town showing the movie. It's always nice going to a film when there's hardly anyone else in attendance, though for comedies, I prefer a bigger crowd as the laughter from others can be contagious.

Here's a plot synopsis of "Play" (and for those who don't like reading, the trailer):

"Handsome, unflappable U.S. Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) is the future of his political party: an honorable appointee who serves as the chairman of a committee overseeing defense spending. All eyes are upon the rising star to be his party's contender for the upcoming presidential race. Until his research assistant/mistress is brutally murdered and buried secrets come tumbling out.

D.C. reporter Cal McCaffrey (Russell Crowe) has the dubious fortune of an old friendship with Collins. As he and partner Della (Rachel McAdams) try to uncover the killer's identity, McCaffrey steps into a cover-up that threatens to shake the nation's power structures. And in a town of spin-doctors and wealthy politicos, he will discover one truth: when billions are at stake, no one's integrity, love or life is ever safe."

It had been several years since I'd seen a Russell Crowe movie and this was a welcome return. Affleck was excellent as the somewhat-compromised Congressman. At first, I thought the film took place in the early 90's as Crowe drove a '90 Saab and his work computer did not have Windows on it (just a black screen with white letters when he typed on it). References to You Tube and the fact that his colleague was a blogger pointed to a present-day setting. Comments on mercenary organizations such as Blackwater and the demise of the modern newspaper made the movie seem even more of-the-moment. All those up for an intelligent thriller, check it out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I've dyed my hair thrice over the past couple years (my hair is about 50% gray and 50% black). The first time, virtually no one noticed. Another time, I did it shortly before heading to Chicago for a conference (see pic of me on left). I've not done it in quite a while now, but will most likely do so in the next couple weeks; my mother is getting married again and I may go to my high school reunion which takes place a couple weeks later. In addition to dyeing the hair I do have, I also have a small canister of Toppik which pleasingly fills in my bald spot. My mom has chided me for being vain while coloring hers almost nonstop. I don't typically like to gawk at myself in the mirror, but in '7 after I first did it, I was like, "Hey, Sexy!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Shiggles (mostly the former)

Upon waking yesterday morning, it appeared that I'd finally have the opportunity to make-a the shit (it had been several days). Per recent tradition, I took a number of fiber tablets to get me going, as it were. Success! (1) But it was quite possible that I'd have to go again; that's the way it typically is for me. The wife and I had planned to go to LaCrosse that morning and a few BM's weren't gonna stop my ass from going (pun intended).

First we drove to Winona where I picked up my old high school friend, Brian. He was waiting outside for us. I had some more friends to drop off at the pool by this time, so asked if I could use his bathroom. He said his girlfriend was sleeping and asked if I go just go to Kwik Trip. I had a better location: the Winona Visitors Center (this is where my wife-to-be and I met way back in '96). I savored the location for a split second before going to their bathroom. Success, another BM (2).

Once in LaX, we had lunch at my wife's favorite restaurant, Beef & Etc. (it's the only area place that serves Vienna Beef and Chicago-style hot dogs; the stuff she loved growing up in the Greater Chi-town area).

Since we were thinking about seeing a movie, I grabbed the newspaper while they ordered and carried it with me to the bathroom (it was time again). A couple people looked at me with the paper in my hand, but I didn't care. While seated, I could hear my wife and friend talking a bit about me (the sound really carried). After a couple chuckles, I had yet another BM (3) and sat with them for a time; I planned to save my appetite for later, so didn't eat anything.

We then went to a used book store; I was hunting for a Ray Bradbury book, but had no luck. Then we hit Deaf Ear Record Exchange where I found a classic disc from my teen years for $5 (Arcadia's "So Red the Rose").

I had promised Brian that we'd go to "Star Trek" together, but couldn't resist seeing it the prior weekend (fantastic film). He still wanted to see it while I was up to going to the local pawn shop. My wife can't stand pawn shops, so elected to see "Trek" again with B. With a friend who is a big-time movie lover, she sees many more movies than me (recently, she's seen "Wolverine", "Monsters vs. Aliens", and "Ghosts of Girlfriends Past").

I headed for Pawn America while listening to Arcadia (an offshoot group of Duran Duran). Once at the shop, I wanted to start looking for some good CD's, but felt some discomfort coming from down below. I noticed a sign near the entrance that said, "Restrooms Available - Please see an Associate". I went up to the main registers and said to a guy (dressed in a white shirt and tie): "Are you an associate?" He said, "Yes". I asked to use the bathroom. He pointed the way and laughed a bit at being referred to as an associate. I did my business yet again (4) and then looked for some good deals in the music section.

About 45 minutes later, I had to go again, but didn't want to stink up the pawn shop's bathroom again, so went next door to Petco. While on the throne, a man came into the restroom with his young daughter. Seeing that the stall was occupied, he said to her, "We're gonna have to wait a minute". I thought to myself, "It's gonna be more than a minute, Boy". My phone went off and I heard the little girl saying, "What's that noise?" Thankfully, they left a couple minutes later. I again had a BM (5) and was starting to marvel at how many restrooms I had used so far that day (5).

It quickly became time to pick up my compatriots at the movie theatre, so I headed back downtown. As I arrived there, it was time again to "let it go". Since I needed to buy a ticket to get into the movie theatre bathroom, I (quickly) walked to Pizza Hut which was next door. While having my 6th BM, I looked to the side where I could see myself in a full-length mirror (nothing makes one more humble than seeing yourself on the throne). I headed back to the car. A few minutes later, they came out. My wife said she liked it more the second time since she understood it more. Brian gave it a B+ (It was an A- film in my book).

We went to a strip mall for a short time next. As soon as I entered the store, I knew it was magic time yet again. I went into my 7th bathroom that day (including my own) and again did my business. The bathroom was cool in that instead of having 3 stalls in a row, there were two on one side and one on the other.

Finally, we headed to Happy Joe's Pizza where I didn't have to go at all; I enjoyed several pieces of Taco Pizza and a Peanut Butter Sundae. What a day! Thank you, Public Restrooms, for being my savior. You really hit the spot in my most dire hour.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seeing Into the Future

I started my subscription to TIME magazine in the fall of 2006 (getting a year's subscription for a paltry $20 was just too good to pass up). In October '06, they put a relative unknown on the cover. Looking back now, they were eerily prescient:

Now, you have to remember this was months before Obama even entered the race. He had been in the US Senate for less than 2 years and Hillary was considered the "inevitable" Democratic nominee. Even in late 2007, Obama was trailing Hill by double digits. Here are some choice excerpts from the piece:

"It is 9 A.M. on a fresh, sunny Saturday in Rockford, Ill., and nearly a thousand people have gathered in the gymnasium at Rock Valley College to participate in a town meeting with their Senator, Barack Obama.

About halfway through the hour-long meeting, a middle-aged man stands up and says what seems to be on everyone's mind, with appropriate passion: "Congress hasn't done a damn thing this year. I'm tired of the politicians blaming each other. We should throw them all out and start over!"

"Including me?" the Senator asks.

A chorus of n-o-o-o-s. "Not you," the man says. "You're brand new."

A nurse named Greta, just off a 12-hour shift, tentatively reaches out to touch the Senator's sleeve. "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! I just touched a future President! I can't believe it!" She is literally shaking with delight--her voice is quivering--as she asks Obama for an autograph and then a hug.

The question of when Obama--who has not yet served two years in the U.S. Senate--will run for President is omnipresent. That he will eventually run, and win, is assumed by almost everyone who comes to watch him speak."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

After These Messages

In 1993, after having recently acquired a number of friends, it was suggested that I purchase an answering machine. This would make it much easier for others to let me know what they were up to and if they wanted me to call them back. I can remember hearing my mom's surprise the first time she called me on it (she didn't have one herself). I also recall how excited I'd be coming home from work or school and seeing that I had multiple messages waiting for me; they were like aural love letters. Several people left me goofy messages, but that's par for the course. I also went out and bought a new phone, one that fit my mood at the time:

I can remember one afternoon in 1997 when my wife-to-be received a call about getting electronic voicemail; an answering machine without the machine. We quickly switched to it and I find it hard to believe that others continue to use a physical device.

In the mid '00's, the phone company changed their name to Qwest. I always got a chuckle out of how my wife referred to them as "KeyWest". I had to make sure not to laugh too obviously or she would ask what was up (I didn't want to correct her; her pronuniciation was too cute).

A few years ago, we thought about switching to a different landline company, but the greeting she has on the Qwest service is just perfect and I didn't believe that she could record it as well again. We continue to pay $58 a month for the line and VM service.

A few months ago, I heard a really funny VM that someone had on their phone. It was so good that I adopted it as my own; in a computer voice, I say (alternating my tenor a bit with each word): "Please...leave...a...message...after...the...tone".

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Last week, I was listening to a discussion about change (something in plentiful supply these days). The point was made that although most people look back on the major changes that have occurred in their lives (loss of a job, a breakup) as good things, many, when they're actually in the midst of a big change occurring, would prefer that it not be happening. They don't have faith that the change they're experiencing is, like so many of the others, for their greatest good.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Long Distance Dedication

I have wonderful childhood memories of Casey Kasem. On New Years Eve 1983, I sat in my bedroom for eight hours and listened as Casey counted down the Top 100 songs of that year (I actually taped the entire show on my boombox using 6 cassette tapes). I eagerly looked forward to listening to his weekly Top 40 countdown in the mid-80's. I strove to get most of the tracks on the charts on cassette. Sometimes I would look at the Top 10 in the paper and say, "got it, got it, don't got it, got it..." The reason I'm bringing this all up is because my old friend, Tim, sent me the following link this afternoon. To me, it was like hearing God swear.