Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Millenium, Baby

I've written about how much I adore the movies of 1999 here, here, and here. I've also discussed the job I was working as 1999 gave way to 2000. But it's the music from that time which takes me there most forcefully. Before I elaborate, let me just share a bit of what was going on in my life at that time.

My wife and I were getting ready to move into our first house. We had rented apartments for the prior 3 years and after paying more than $700 rent for quite some time, realized that having our own home was a win, win (other than having to mow the lawn, shovel snow, and living several minutes out of town as opposed to within city limits). Our apartment was just 3 blocks from Saint Mary Hospital, so we constantly heard ambulances and police sirens.

Getting a yard for our dogs and cat was a big move-up as was having a garage for both our transports. We had requested that the home be built with vaulted ceilings, but the builder messed up and didn't do so. Since they wouldn't redo the ceilings, we either had to accept the standard one with a $500 credit or wait several months for another home to be built. We decided to take the credit and ended up moving into our place in January of 2000.

For our first few months there, we were the only ones on the block. In fact, they hadn't even put a streetlight on our block yet. Since the basement was mostly unfinished, we actually had less space to live in than we did in the prior apartment. Living a few miles out of town made me less inclined to want to go out in the evenings. However, I did love the quiet and quickly became used to the "commute".

As '99 drew to a close, a friend of mine and his wife began stockpiling supplies, worried that either all the world's computers would fail or that the world would come to an end. He was pleasantly surprised that nothing happened. I shook my head, never giving much credence to the hype in the first place.

Now, on to three songs that really take me back to those days. The first has Timbaland uttering the name of this post at the end of the song, the second song's video revolves around a party that is taking place on New Year's Eve 1999,

and the third is a late-night tune whose video surprised me in that it shows the use of text messaging (I had no idea it existed back then).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Time Is Here

I finally finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. Who wants to touch me?

I said, Who wants to touch me?!!

Kmart came to the rescue with a number of Buy 1, Get 1 Free specials. While I was looking for presents for my mom and her girls, my woman spotted something she liked. A few minutes later, heading in another direction, she asked if she could buy the item in question. I said we couldn't afford it, but then picked it up a few minutes later when she went to another store. She made it almost too easy.

One thing I've noted, doing a lot of shopping this season, is the look of not-quite-bliss on so many faces. It's like they don't realize that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Sure, most days are cloudy, there's too much snow on the ground, and the nights are incredibly long, but is it not the Chosen One's big day on Friday?

I think that many resent being slaves to the holiday, having to spend money they don't have on things that their family and friends might not even like. You'll find none of this ridiculousness on Thanksgiving. The joy is in simply being together. Being compelled to give gifts four weeks later doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Sure, I'll like getting Lady Gaga's new EP and a Friday's gift card, but does that compare with making someone smile or laugh? Not even close.

As I waited to get checked out at Kmart, I heard the cashier say to the couple ahead of me, "Would you like to donate $1 to St Jude's?" They said no, but I got an idea. Here is how my conversation with her went:

Cashier: "Would you like to donate $1 to St Jude's?"

Tom: "If you can say, "Suzy sells seashells by the seashore."

Cashier: "I can't do that!"

Tom: "Well, I'll donate the buck, anyway."

I did something similar at the movie theatre earlier this year. A lady was asking people, when they bought their ticket, what their ZIP code was. When she asked me, I said, "12345". Two seconds later, she said "Refusal" to herself and punched a couple buttons.

I got a nice gag gift for my twin sisters. They're 21 now, but I bought them each a RingPop (something they enjoyed as 5-year olds). I may also purchase some Fruit by the Foot; back then, they called it Pruit by the Poot. So cute.

Click here for video of our 2005 get-together.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Favorite Movies of the Aughts

As we say goodbye to 2009, I thought it'd be a good time to share what some of my favorite movies were from this decade (2000-2009).

My favorite movie of 2000 was "Gladiator". Other goodies from that year included "Scary Movie", "CastAway", "Me, Myself, and Irene", "You Can Count On Me" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (no, this isn't a sex film about the famous golfer).

My fave of 2001 was "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" followed by "The Majestic", "The Others", "Vanilla Sky", "Memento" and "Amelie".

2002: "Minority Report", "About Schmidt", "The Ring", "Signs", "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers", "The 25th Hour"

"Unfaithful", "The Mothman Prophecies"

2003: "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King", "Anger Management", "Scary Movie 3", "Love, Actually", " Bruce Almighty", "Bad Santa"

2004: "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", "Super Size Me", "EuroTrip", "Team America: World Police"

2005: "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", "Brokeback Mountain", "The Weather Man", "A History of Violence"

2006: "Borat", "Casino Royale", "The Illusionist", "The Prestige", "Children of Men", Scary Movie 4"

2007: "Superbad", "The Orphanage"

"The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford", "Michael Clayton", "The Heartbreak Kid", "The Mist", "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story"

2008: "Wall-E", "Slumdog Millionaire", "Forgetting Sarah Marshall", "Religulous", "You Don't Mess with the Zohan"

2009: "Bruno", "Inglourious Basterds", "A Serious Man", "District 9", "(500) Days of Summer", "The Invention of Lying", "Drag Me to Hell"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There Is More Joy In Giving (Gag Gifts) Than Receiving

Christmas is fast approaching, but so far, I've only bought one present. One good thing about all my blood siblings being Jehovah's Witnesses is that I needn't worry about getting them anything. Same goes for my old man, bless his heart. I've only five people to purchase things for: my mom, her newly-minted husband, my twin half-sisters, and my SexyGirl.

My mom likes getting gift cards, but I can't abide giving them. So unoriginal. Jerry Seinfeld once commented it's like saying, "I put absolutely no thought into this whatsoever!" So I'll go to a number of unique stores later this week and see if I can't find something more memorable.

Last year, I bought one of my sisters a page-a-day calendar called, "Why Do Men Have Nipples? and Other Mysteries". I gave my stepdad, a serious Baptist, a Jehovah's Witness Bible (When my mom talked about potentially rejoining the Witnesses, he said he would not support her on this, even dangling the possibility that he might break up with her). I have a Witness songbook that I may give him this time out.

I remember going to a meeting in college with a group called Christians In Action. After a prayer session, one of the leaders asked me if I had a Bible. I said I did. He asked what kind. I replied that it was the New World Translation. He was knowledgeable enough to realize that this was the one published by the Witnesses and asked if I knew that they were a cult.

One year, I wrapped a sample size package of Viagra and gave them to a friend. He thought it was just an empty box, but was rather shocked when he found tablets inside; don't worry, the meds weren't prescribed to me. On a similar note, I recently found a prescription bottle in the basement from 2002. It was Hydrocodone, a pain reliever I was prescribed while experiencing the excruciating pain of kidney stones. What should I do with them now, all these years later? Throw the bottle out? Flush the tabs down the toilet? Keep them in case Sarah Palin becomes President?

Monday, December 07, 2009


"You only live once". It's an oft-repeated phrase, but is it accurate? If you had the option, would you choose to live again? I'm of the belief that we do, if we so wish. This has informed my life experience for well over a decade. To illustrate, here is a portion of a journal entry I wrote ten years ago this month (the full entry can be read here):

December 27, 1999

"My peace of mind lately has been interesting. I go to work, take the dogs out, have supper, watch some TV, take a bath, and go to bed. On weekends, I can do what I want. And all this is fine with me. I don't really feel that I am missing anything. When I have no places to go, my favorite things to do are to take a warm bath and lay down in bed.

In the past, I felt that I should go somewhere and meet people and such. Now, I don't really have the desire. This has to do with my laid-back attitude and the fact that I don't HAVE to do anything. There's nowhere I need to go, no one I need to see, no goals that absolutely have to be done.

I'm exaggerating a bit, but I do have a choice in all things. I choose to go to work. I choose to do virtually everything that I accomplish. Only rarely will I do anything that I don't want to. I remember as a youngster, my parents telling me from time to time that I would sometimes have to do things I don't want to. But I can't really recall the last time I did something that I really didn't want to at some level.

There is also the fact that I don't look at life as so many years and then you die. I know that I existed before I became Thomas **** and that I will continue to exist long after. So I may not be as compelled to have kids as others who think that all they get is one life and out. I know that I probably have had offspring in the past and/or the future, so having them right now is not necessary, although sometime in the next few years I may choose to do so.

Everything is now, and in this instant, I don't want to take care of a child. In the future, I may. In the future, having children is, like everything else, possible. But, in this instant, it is not a concern. Ask me about it next year.

That's all for now. It's almost 6pm. Time to take the dogs out, get a bite, get some gas, watch some TV, take a bath..."

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Going Green...and Red

I decided last night that I'm not gonna give any Christmas cards to my nearest and dearest this year; I typically spend $4 apiece on cards for my mom, wife, and sisters. Ultimately, the cards just say "Merry Christmas" and "I love you" and I'm not ashamed to say that in person. Plus, cards are almost always thrown away after the holidays. If anyone gives me any lip about it, I'll just say, "I'm goin' green. Tis the season".

In a similar vein, I read a capsule review last night of a book called "Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn't Buy Presents for the Holidays". The author says his theory is solid economics. "As an institution for 'allocating resources' (getting stuff to the right people), holiday giving is a complete loser." One example is that if you spend $50 on yourself, you'll get something worth $50 to you. But if your aunt Winnie buys you a $50 Christmas gift, she's likely to buy something that's worth nothing to you. In economic terms, that's a "deadweight loss". Our shopping puts retailers in the black while we wind up in the red.

My wife received an iPod this past week as an early Christmas present, so my days of being able to brag that I've never downloaded a song will most likely be ending soon. This, less than a week after getting HighDefinition installed on our new TV has my head spinning a bit (but in a good way). It's quite difficult to go back to watching regular definition TV after experiencing the joys of HD. Kinda like having sex with the prettiest girl in town and then trying to find enjoyment with your previous partner.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A Night on the Town

On Saturday, I had the house to myself, so decided to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and take Zoe to the dog park. There were a number of canines frolicking in the winter wonderland. Kidding, the ground is as barren as what's between Sarah Palin's ears. Zoe can be a bit timid, but didn't hesitate to sniff a few derriers on that afternoon. We then took the trail that leads to a creek. We didn't stay in that area long as it was quite muddy. A few minutes later, I got a call from a friend and asked if he wanted to get together. He agreed and met me back at the house an hour later.

The first place we hit was Wal-Mart. I had a couple gifts that my mother gave me for my birthday that I wanted to return (some winter socks and a long-sleeve shirt). After receiving $12.50 for the items, we headed for the music section. Over the past week, I'd become a fan of Adam Lambert. It started when I happened to see him performing on the AMA's (his was the last performance and the only one I caught). I saw how risque' his act was and was like, "Damn". I chuckled as the show ended right after his song instead of giving out a last award; It'd be like the Oscars ending by playing a scene from a movie. Next, I read a review in Entertainment Weekly that gave his new disc a B+.

Shortly thereafter, I listened to the recording online at AOL's listening station. I was ridiculously impressed by his vocals and style. This from a man who's only ever watched one ep of "American Idol". So it should suprise no one that I was tempted to pick up his disc when I saw it on sale for a mere $9.95. With the extra money in my pocket from the returns, there was no way I was gonna pass up this deal.

Back in the car, I asked my friend where he wished to eat. He said he wouldn't mind Culver's. Not having been there in quite some time, I said that would be fine. I chose something from their "Meals for under $4" menu and looked for a seat. All the booths were taken save one, one of those corner booths that can seat six. Our party consisted of only two, but I always love sitting in such spaciousness. As we waited for our food, I noticed that the TV they had on the wall was playing Charlie Brown's Christmas in an endless loop. Tis the season. Culver's chicken tenders were pretty dang good for the price. We talked for quite some time as the restaurant gradually began to clear out.