Friday, December 22, 2006

Checking in

We're in leg one of our journey -- at my father in law's house. He has broadband, so it's not too bad getting on, checking mail, etc. My parent's (where we leave to tomorrow) only have dial-up (darn country livin') and I will not even try and hit certain sites.

Last night the wife and I went to see Rocky Balboa. I mean, if you're in my age group, Rocky was a huge part of your childhood. Like it or hate it, it's nostalgia. I liked it and was looking forward to the movie. Honestly, this was the best installment since the original film. I mean, you have to suspend some disbelief, but in which Rocky installment have you not had to do that?

The thing about this one is that it relies heavily on story and character interaction long before you even get to any fighting or training. The build up is intense and the film delivers. I was very happy with it. Glad we didn't see Eragon.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Want your opinions; vacation break

Part the first:

Happy Wednesday everybody. I am soliciting your opinions. We have decided to home school our children. It has been a long and arduous process coming to this decision. We are very unhappy with the curriculum in our local schools and want to be able to focus more personal attention on their specific education needs.

That said, it is not without some apprehension that we go into this. My wife worries about being able to instruct our kids. You know, drawing the line between mommy and teacher. We worry about having the time to home school and still get all the daily things done around the home.

So, what I'm asking is if any of you have any experience with homeschooling and, if so, what that experience has been like?

My wife and I have both had experience with home schooled children and home schooling families and from my experience, it's kind of a mixed bag. But there's always the fall-back option: If it doesn't work, they can always go back.

Part the second:

Today we're leaving on vacation. After work, we're taking off for a lengthy drive to the Gulf Coast for a couple of days. Then it's on to Louisiana for a few days, and then back home by New Year's Day.

I wish you all the very best this holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc.

For my family and me, 2006 has been both a challenging and rewarding year. We look forward to 2007. So, again, I say to all of you, happy holidays.

Oh, and if you want to hook me up, my birthday's Jan. 3.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pitching a tent

So, I thought I was just visiting the nothing farm, but apparently I'm setting up camp.

We are preparing to go on vacation soon and life is accordingly busy. There is much to do to get things in order before we leave, both at work and at home. So, posting, among other things, have been light lately.

I do have a couple of things I want to share with you as I'd like to get your thoughts on them. I just don't really have the time to put it down here like I want to, and, since vacation is coming up soon, I doubt I'll have the time to address much of what I want to. But I do hope to get something substantive up later today or tomorrow.

I hope everyone is doing well and I will have a decent update! Someday.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Faster Than My Debt

I'm at Faster Than The World today with an article wherein I detail the upcoming Elf baseball season. OK, not really. I talk about guitars and stuff.

Get thee hence and make sure to leave comments!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I wasn't going to post today, but ...

Today I went out to cover the first day of our Marine Reserve Detachment's Toys for Tots toy hand outs. It was amazing. I can't describe the feeling of watching our Marines (and corpsman) perform this charity task. They love doing it. And the people! I can't believe the spirit.

The line wrapped around the old dilapidated building in which they were handing out toys. But even with the long line and long wait, everyone was cheery. It was the exact opposite of the line at the movie theater. Or the line at the DMV. The feeling of charity was infectious. I gotta tell you. I wasn't in the Christmas spirit this year until this morning. My heart just grew three sizes.

And while out, I noticed some things around the area that looked like great subjects for some quick photography. It's pretty overcast out today and it just casts everything into a cool frame.

This shot just jumped out at me. It really speaks of the state of this town in a lot of ways.

As though it's attempting to put up a good front, but cannot hide the decay and corruption going on within. I wish I could have shot this under better circumstances (without cars surrounding it, etc.). I guess I'll have to shoot it another day.

This is what inspired my little spat of personal photography this morning. This building shared the parking lot with the old department store where the Toys for Tots hand outs were going on. I really love the texture of this building and all the vines. I do not like the fact that I couldn't shoot it without all the power lines and modern-day obstacles, but I just love it. Also, we just got new lenses for our cameras and I wanted to test it out a bit. It an 18-200 zoom and I really kind of dig the circular deformation in wide-angle.

This is a closer shot of one of the windows of the same building. Just look at all that texture!

The minor and stark color contrast is amazing, I think. And in B&W the contrast is just too damn cool. Oh, the first thought I had when I saw this building is how cool it would look shot in B&W. Well, thanks to digital photography, Photoshop and Ctrl+L, we can approximate.

What I really like about this shot is that the window is about 7 feet or so off the ground and I was able to shoot low which gives the foreground the effect that it's bending away from the window. Almost like you could walk on that wall and the window's a door.

Last shot of the day.

This just happened to be on my route to my shoot and I made a mental note to go back and get a couple of shots. Something about trains appeals to men, I think. I never got into toy trains or anything like that. I have no hidden fascination about ever becoming a railway engineer, but I do admit some sort of visceral pleasure from looking at trains and railways.

Well, I had some fun this morning while on the clock. Hope you guys like the shots.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Not so much ado about nothing

I had the weirdest thing happen yesterday.

I wasn't feeing great, so I took the afternoon off (that in itself is weird), but I was having headaches and kind of seeing double. Never had that happen before. Well, not unless I'd been smacked upside the head.

So, the wife had some kind of candle party last night and I man'd up and took the kids out to dinner so she could get things in order. Got home and got the kids squared away and I sequestered myself in my bedroom.

I watched Pulse. Don't waste your time. It sucked.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

While my guitar gently weeps

I haven't played guitar in many days. It has something to do with time, but a whole lot to do with pain.

As my job requires me to spend all day on the computer, and a lot of my leisure time is spent here also, I use my hands for keying and "mousing" a lot. And, of course, my posture and typing/mousing habits suck. I have, over time, developed tendonitis in my wrist. Which, because I ignored it long enough, has caused me to put pressure on different areas of my arm and I developed pain in my elbow and lately I have begun to feel some pain in my shoulder.

So, not only does is hurt to stay on the computer for too long, but it also hurts to play guitar and that really sucks.

Guess I should start wearing that damn wrist brace.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oh yeah ...

Make sure to go to Faster Than The World today to check out my new All About the Guitar column.

I've compiled a nice list last minute shopping items for that special guitarist in your life. Of course, all I want for Christmas is peace and harmony and the end of all banjoes.

A commercial

A local spa here has a commercial that airs often. One of the things they say in the commercial is: "We have a variety of services available for that special person, including massages, facials ..." and it really doesn't matter what they say after that because I'm giggling like a school girl.

What the hell do they think we're going to think?

Relative notoriety

Recently watched The Notorious Bettie Page. Bettie Page was one of those people in the peripheral of my pop consciousness until I read The Real Bettie Page about 10 years ago. Since then, she's always been of interest to me. When I heard that this movie was coming out, I was very interested in seeing it.

It certainly isn't disappointing, but anyone who's read the Foster biography won't find anything here they didn't already know. Rather, it's the performance by Gretchen Mol that is most worthwhile in this pic. She brings a fresh-faced naivety that is hard to associate with Bettie Page through the pictures that made her famous.

The movie is more than a story about her life though. The director uses Page's history to question our concepts of innocence and morality. Even naivety. Was Page really so naive after so many years in the business, or was actively attempting to justify her actions to herself?

Expertly presented in black and white with color scenes in Miami.

Disturbingly, the extra features include a color video of Page -- in what is obviously not one of her more professional works -- stripping down to stockings only. After watching the movie, this video seems contrary to what the film was all about. It just really seems out of place.

Anyone else seen it?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tonight, but not the rest of my life

Our installation Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is tonight. I have to take photos of the event, but I'm taking the kids with me so it should be nice. It's usually a pretty quick thing -- a little prayer from the base chaplain, some music and carols with some of the brass section from the band, some hot cocoa and roasted peanuts, and the tree is lit. Pretty nice.

Go here, do this

I urge you to go to Faster Than The World today. As always, there is stellar content, but I pimp it today especially 'cause my friend's post is up today: The Fictional Universe.

This is part two of a video Q&A project. Please stop by and let him know what you think.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


The flag on base flew at half-staff.

And several people had to wonder why.

And that fact really made me angry.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Us and Them

During lunch today, I took the opportunity to catch up on an episode of Torchwood.

One of the topics they bring up during the episode is the difference between "you" and "we." That is, a new person joined the organization and every time she referred to something involving the organization, she said, "you have" instead of "we have," and the unit chief called her on it twice. I can sympathize with her.

I have worked for the Marine Corps for almost two years now and still find myself saying "you guys" when referring to the way Marines do things. Granted, I am not a Marine nor was I ever. And I spent 10 years in Army, which colors my thinking about "us and them."

But I am a Marine Corps employee and it's weird that I haven't assimilated that into my way of thinking. I really don't think that way, even when I try and force myself to. I think of myself as a Department of Defense employee. I don't know if that will ever change.

I do hope I can stop the, "Gee, you guys don't do that this way? In the Army ..." because even I'm getting tired of it.

Any of you (ever) have a you vs. we issue?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

So, I finally saw Clerks 2 ...

And I hated it. And, more than that, I hate that I hated it.

See, I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan. Big, big Kevin Smith fan. Like, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is one of my favorite movies ever, big fan. For someone to admit that in writing out here in the ether, you know I have to be a big fan.

Prior to this movie, there wasn't a Kevin Smith film I didn't like.

To me, Clerks 2 just feels like a shade of his pre-Jersey Girl movies. Clerks 2 is a horrible mesh of the frenetic energy of his earlier films and the sappiness of Jersey Girl and the two do not mesh. And I'm a fan of Jersey Girl.

Jersey Girl works for me in the way that most chick flicks work for the women folk. It pushes the right buttons to make me feel something, it's funny enough, emotional enough and delivers a sappy, happy ending. I fully understand that it's not good film making. But it was, for me, an enjoyable and touching movie.

Clerks 2 fails because it captures none of his earlier manic force or the sentimental sappiness of Jersey Girl. Some of this is because the main roles required more acting ability than Brian O'Halloran or Jeff Anderson could muster. They're fine with all they have to do is deliver witty quips and O'Halloran has to act harried. But when they have to convince us their emotional turmoil ... well, let's say that it would have been nice to have Assfleck. And I hate Affleck.

I avoided reviews of this movie like the plague because I really didn't want them to taint my POV. I just checked Rotten Tomatoes and am shocked to see that it did so well. I mean, I honestly thought this movie fell flat. I didn't laugh once during the entire thing.

Each to his own, I guess.

A Heroic break

No new Heroes until Jan. 22. What's up with the huge break in schedules for TV shows lately? I'm afraid that, for the most part, I don't feel compelled to come back and finish the season. Honestly, I'm seriously considering not bothering with LOST. But, I will with Heroes. And Monk and Psych.

Last night didn't accomplish much, I didn't think. I was very upset that it took the entire episode worth of jumping around for 20-second bytes of what's going on with certain characters to bring us to the anti-climactic cliffhanger. OK, Haitian dude can talk. And he's not going to wipe Claire's mind. So? Tell us something.

There was nothing terribly plot advancing, except for what was almost an aside: "Maybe it was 'save the cheerleader,' THEN 'save the world.'" Which I was beginning to suspect anyway.

So, as the shows go on hiatus, we'll have to revel in repeats or in obscure cable shows. I'm sure there will be plenty of American Chopper and Mythbusters marathons over the next few weeks.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sell your soul

My new post is up at Faster Than The World.

Make sure to check it out.

Patience is a virtue I possess only in limited quantities

I am waiting for some information that could significantly impact my life in the near future. And waiting has been hard.

Hard. Hard. Hard.

I am not a patient person, but I want to be. I would love to be able to better accept the natural timing of things. But I'm not. I would love to say that I've gotten better at waiting as I've gotten older. But I haven't.

Why won't they just hurry up and let me know something?

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm a one-man comedy club, over here

My 7-year old (who I said was 8 recently on another blog, but she's 7, she just acts 8) is a fan of "funniest home video" style shows. She has become so fond that she really wants to get a video camera and shoot her own videos.

I once asked her what she would film and she said, "You, daddy."

"Me?" I asked. "Why?"

"Because you're funny," she said.

This exchange (and it's really a paraphrase I'm sure) happened quite some time ago. But last night as I was taking care of some mundane kitchen stuff, my daughter comes in and says, "You are so silly."

I realized at that time that my behavior was the kind of thing she was talking about taping. See, I have a habit. When I'm doing something boring or mundane, especially if the kids are around, I make up songs. And not good ones. Usually the lyrics have something to do with whatever I'm doing and the tune is usually ripped off from whatever TV program is currently on - OR - I sing variations of the show's theme song to different tunes.

I have officially been put on silly notice. Thankfully my 7-year-old digs it. My five-year-old is already acting like she's embarrassed though.