Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Idol threat 1/31: Hell-A

I've actually been taking notes this time around. I got a new laptop in today and I've been jotting down as the show was progressing. But to be honest, it's not worth posting here.

The only thing that's worth talking about was the eccentric panther dude, but I don't have the patience, time or energy to tackle that topic.

Suffice to say -- more not talent.

Hollywood better be good 'cause so far the auditions are sucking wind.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Idol Threats 1/30 - It must be the floor

It says something about the state of the show when they only show 4 or 5 passes out of 22 and the rest of the show is spent focusing on the suck that was Birmingham.

The problem here is that I believe there was probably some really decent performances, we just didn't get to see them. The show again aims at the lowest common denominator.

At least we got to hear the genius that was, "It must have be the floor." That's gonna be my new excuse for any problem. Didn't make a deadline? Must be the floor. Got into an accident on the expressway? Must be the floor. Tripped over a broken tile? Must be the ... well, yeah.

It's kind of funny, my ass is on fire

Once again, I am trying to lose weight. Long time readers of my blog know how many times I've begun something only to not comment on it any longer which, of course, means I'd fallen off the wagon.

Sometimes I hurt myself because I was pushing myself too hard. Sometimes I didn't stick to the diet because I didn't have the willpower, or chose an unrealistic diet program. Sometimes it was a combination of the above.

I grew up a fat kid and it really bugs me that I'm fat again.

When I hit 10th grade, I started dropping weight like it was melting off of me. I went from 200+ pounds at the end of my 9th grade year to around 160 pounds at the end of my 10th grade year. When I joined the Army in 1994, I was 155 pounds. I have put on more than 100 pounds since then.

This time is different, though. This time I'm using my plan, my way and it's entirely my motivation driving this rather than (as several times in the past) just going along with something my wife had in mind to do.

Instead of cutting out carbs or drinking beat juice or jumping up and down on one leg and swinging a dead chicken over my head, I'm *gasp* counting calories! I've decided to try and eat healthier foods, but my primary concern is reducing the amount of calories and portion control.

I also got a bike (hence the title of this post). It's amazing how little you have to do to get that heart rate going when you're a big tub o' goo. But that's going to change soon.

Dudes. I started this on Friday and I've already lost 15 pounds. Which I understand is because I was starting from scratch and I had a lot of water weight and toxins and crap to get out. But still, 15 freakin' pounds is pretty motivating.

Not to sound like a broken record here on my blog, but I hope that by this time next year I'll be out of weight loss/conditioning phase and in a maintenance phase.

Monday, January 29, 2007

SO Angry

I had to wait to post this. I was so mad. I'm still mad. But I won't destroy the keyboard typing in anger like I would have Saturday.

I got home from school Saturday around 2:30 p.m. My wife and kids had been out most of the day doing wife and kid kind of things. After I got in, my daughters wanted to go outside. I'm all for outside play (read: noise outside rather than inside, AND they get exercise). They get dressed and pile out the door. Then I hear one of the most heartbreaking things I've heard in my life. My oldest daughter said, "Where's my bike?"

Some coward, some ... asshole ... stole a seven-year-old girl's bike. I mean, WTF?

Fortunately, I had the financial means to buy her a new bike. We went out, me and my two girls, and did a little shopping together. It turned into a good afternoon.

I was so pissed I had to build something. If I hadn't, I would have broken something. So, my wife got a shelf built in a cabinet that she's been asking me to do for months.

Funny how something so wrong can be a catalyst for good things.

Still pissed about it though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bring on the funny

Before yesterday, if you had asked me what the funniest thing I had ever seen was, I would probably have come up with a few different answers. If you had asked me when I was active-duty if a sergeant major yelling and going off on someone in your presense was funny, I would have said no. However, yesterday changed a lot for me.

One of my additional duties is taking promotion photos for our Marines here. As you can imagine, I have a variety of people come through the office. Some of these Marines are super sharp. I barely have to adjust their uniform, they are that squared away. Most require some minor adjustments; Marines, by and large, take a good deal of pride in their uniform. Then, there are those that don't seem to care too much. Their uniform doesn't fit correctly, their ribbons aren't right, their shirt or trousers may not be ironed ... you get the picture.

Generally, most Marines show up with their supervisor who helps get the uniform squared away. Sometimes not. Regardless, I almost always have to move some fabric here or there to get it to look right in the camera.

Yesterday, one of hte poor souls who obviously doesn't care too much about his appearance came through. His ribbons looked like they were going to fly off his chest. His shirt looked like it was two sizes too big. His trousers and shirt both needed to visit the iron. But I was going to do my best. I was working hard to get his uniform looking as good as I could. His NCO, however, decided that it was a good time to sit down and watch the news.

It was at this unfortunate time that our base sergeant major decided to walk by. It took barely a look in the room for the veteran devil dog to see that the young Marine's uniform was far from sharp.

He says to the corporal, sitting watching TV, "Hey, corporal. Aren't you supposed to be up there (fixing that uniform)?"

The corporal, thinking the sergeant major was joking chuckled, "Heh."

The sergeant major, not joking in the slightest says, "Heh? HEH!?! Do you think I'm joking with your corporal?"

At which point the corporal shot up to parade rest and I was given the opportunity to reflect on my own service and how this kind of experience had now taken a completely different kind of significance. I actually had to stifle a smile.

Needless to say, the young corporal got yelled at for a good amount of time. He and his junior Marine left my office to get "fixed." I didn't expect to see them again that day, but about an hour before closing time, they showed up again, the junior Marine looking far sharper and camera ready.

I've reality TV happening all around me.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Idol Threats 1/24: So are the days of our Idol

The show has started off strong. A hilarious no. A heart wrenching yes and a heart wrenching no.

I just gotta say, again, WTF is up with the producers this season? And WTF is up with the judges. This is about the fourth or fifth time we've had a very decent singer come through that the judges just completely blew off. I realize that chick had been to Hollywood twice before, but, she could sing.

Oh well. Guess that's why I work for the government and Simon's on TV.

> New break, new comments:

So, BFFs 1 and 2. BFF 2 could really sing and really deserved her golden ticket. BFF 1, not so much. Simon obviously saw himself in a BFF sammich, so both girls made it.

Cowgirl #1: I wasn't expecting this cowgirl, but, man, that was amazing. WOW. That was some crazy, wasn't it? "I can't sing, but you can teach me." WOW.

Little opera girl was amazing. I enjoyed her rock voice a lot. I don't think Randy gave her enough of a chance, but we'll see how far she'll go in Hollywood.

And, dammit, show me the orgasming cowgirl. I'm dying over here.

Julie Isadora did not disappoint. What can you really say about that? She has, perhaps, earned her cowboy-hat tiara as the American Idol queen of people who think they can sing, but really, really can't.

- OR -

It was strange performance art. Something that straddled the lines of pop, rock, porn and deconstructivist criticism. Oh and mysticism too. Let us not forget the on-target palm reading. Would have been hilarious if she'd said something like, "You're boyfriend's name is Raul, Ryan." That would have earned her major cool points. But, no, she doesn't quite have it together enough for that.

Next week, Birmingham. Looking forward to it based on the teaser. Looks like there'll be some singers, and some silly.

As for tonight, my top of the pop was opera girl. I was very impressed. I hope she makes it through the opening days of Hollywood.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Idol Threats: 1/23

By Jeebus that was some funny stuff tonight. I now wish I had taken notes to share some of my thoughts that have by now floated into the ether.

First, I seriously don't think the judges are being any meaner this season than they have in the past. However, I do believe the producers and video editors are. The way they focus longer on individual subjects (as I mentioned last week) makes it more painful, individually. That said, there are some really bad, funny performances.

The poor kid who sang Burning Love, I'm sure he was a high-functioning mentally challenged individual. Which is kind of sad. But (and this is bad of me) he reminded me of that character that Tracy Morgan used to play on Saturday Night Live -- the animal show host? Brian Fellows ... that's it! That dude so reminded me of Brian Fellows.

So far, I agree with American Midol. The level of the passes this year just aren't up to last year. But tonight there were a couple that were pretty good. I'm not sure I'm on board with everyone with Sundance or whatever the hell his name is. I didn't think he was all that hot. The shy background singing chicky was damn good. Fidel Castro Clone (tm) was also very good.

The best scene of the season is forthcoming, though. Orgasming cowboy hat girl is coming up tomorrow night. And we all know that television will never be the same.

Monday, January 22, 2007

BIAAtG: Capitalism Sells ... But Your Music is Suffering

Henry, Henry, Henry. Go put out another mediocre album and go on another spoken-word tour.I am a capitalist. In the grand scheme of things I believe that capitalism, tempered with some minor regulation, is best for a country’s economy and, ultimately, society and its political systems.

That said, there are some pitfalls to capitalism. One of the areas that suffer greatly under a capitalist system is the arts. When everything is a commodity, people are more interested in marketing what sells than what may be the newest or most innovative. And one area where this is very evident is in music.

A lot of people complain when an underground band they like goes mainstream. Some people may scoff at this, but there is some legitimate concern. Just take a look at the history of bands like The Offspring, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and (and I REALLY hate to say this) Henry Fucking Rollins.

It’s insidious, this commercialism.

It starts with better production quality. Think back to Ride the Lightning or Freaky Styley. Then compare those to later releases like … And Justice For All and Mother’s Milk. And then compare those to later releases The Black Album and Blood Sugar Sex Magic. Hear the edge slipping away? Hear the raw power give away to that slick noise gate and compression?

On the earlier work, even though they were studio albums, you knew that under the best of conditions you could expect to hear something similar live as to what you were hearing on these albums. Then you have the transition albums (or albums, in some cases). These albums have better production but still maintain a sense of that raw energy from the earlier studio albums.

Finally, the “Fuck it, lets over-produce the shit outta this” albums come out. It’s the Bob Rock syndrome. Is that album a little too heavy? Lets just smooth it out with some extra chorus and mix it down a little. Let’s over-effect those vocals -- put the singer through some more vocal training first -- and overdub like our lives depend on it. Gotta watch that subject matter also. You have to sound like you’re being controversial without actually being controversial or offending anyone.

While all this is going on, the record label’s marketing team is aggressively pushing the band making them seem like the best thing ever. In the case of Metallica, to your die-hard fans, you’re being sold as “the greatest Metallica album ever,” but to pull in that elusive top-40 audience, you’re being marketed as “a new, edgy voice in this troubled world.” And then everybody and their mother buys the album. And then you hear Johnny McPopCollar singing Nothing Else Matters. And then nothing else matters ‘cept dumping your Metallica collection and forgetting that you ever liked them.

It has nothing to do with them becoming popular. It has everything to do with them trying so hard to get there.

Cross posted at Faster Than The World.

Friday, January 19, 2007

On celebrity *ahem* tapes...

If you film it, it will be leaked.

The latest, a D-list Page three model Keeley Hazell, is upset that a video of her exploits has been released on the internet.

Now, the most telling part of this story? Nowhere in it does she say she'll not video herself in future exploits. No she says, "In future I know I will have to be more careful who I fall in love with."

So ...

Anyone else out there kind of pissed that the new House leadership desires to waste so much of our time and tax money for a stupid, useless, non-binding resolution? This kind of whining is horrible. This is the kind of whining where the whiners not only want everyone to know their displeasure, they must have some kind of acknowledgement of their plight.

You know what, you arrogant bastards, we know how you feel. We know your positions. You can't keep your money-grubbing, power hungry faces off the television for five freaking minutes. You know what's a good allegory for "non-binding resolution?" Here are a few I thought of -- non-operating automobile, wingless airplane, and my personal favorite, empty beer bottle.

When it comes to crap like this, I could care less what your political party is. I could care less what your point of view is. This is worthless. It is a waste of time I'd almost call criminal considering the things you guys should be doing. The only silver lining I can see in all of this is that the longer you focus on this crap, the less amount of time you'll have to fark up something else.

There is a response to people when they waste your time with this kind of whining. You scrunch up your face in your best baby/person who is whining imitation and, using a baby voice, mockingly say the following, "Waaah, my pussy hurts." 'Cause that what all this amounts to.

Heroes: A preview

Given my compulsively demanding fandom of Doctor Who, it was great news when Heroes announced that Christopher Eccleston would be joining the cast. published this interview with Eccleston which is so unbelievably cool that I might just have to leave work to recover from this much cool.

Warning: There are some spoilers via implication through the article.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A message to the "man on the street"

I don't care what kind of car you drive or want to drive. If you drive a huge SUV, more power to you. I couldn't care less.

However, if you are approached by a camera crew to appear in a local advertisement for a car dealership, there are some things you might want to keep in mind.

General advice that any person can benefit from:
1. Dress for the event. I mean, you don't have to dress to the nines, but you probably don't want to look like you just rolled out of the bed or like you're going out on the town to go whoring.

2. You might want to practice what you're going to say about said dealership's service or your vehicle. That way you don't come across as a stuttering idiot when the camera is shoved in your face.

And, this one specifically addresses a local ad:
3. If you drive and have bought Hummers, never, ever, say the following: "I just got my second hummer from (Joe Schmoe)."

Jumping on the library cardwagon

With thanks to Sheila, Tracey and Nightfly for prompting me to go ahead and do this myself.

Go create your own catalog card.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Idol threats - 1/17

When are people going to stop coming on this show and, after giving a bad performance, say to Simon: "You don't know nuttin' 'bout myusic. Your opinion doesn't mean nuttin'." When?

I don't get it. He's the freaking judge, people.

Is is just me, or have they been dragging out the pain this year? They've been focusing on individual contestants (the bad ones) longer than before. In past years, the shorter sessions are enjoyable looks into the badness. These longer sessions are painfully awkward.

And yet ... I can't look away.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Idol threats - 1/16

Orgasming cowboy hat girl?

Oh, Idol, how I hath missed thee!

American trainwreck

Yes, the trainwreck that is American Idol begins again tonight. I cannot wait. I hate, in a way, that I am so caught up in this thing, but I am. I have decided to once again indulge my gossippy side and blog it as much as possible. So there will most likely be a semi-live or just-after-the-show blog tonight.

More later.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Send it off in a letter telegram, er, blog post

Day off of work [stop]

Going to Macon [stop]

Hope everyone has a good day [stop]

Regular blogging to resume later [stop]

In the meantime, see my post at Faster Than The World [stop]

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Marilyn Manson: Irresistible

Weeks after filing for divorce from his super-hot stripper wife, rumors have it that the Marilyn Mason is now dating Evan Rachel Wood.

I don't get it.

Somebody please explain it to me.

This day in history: Alexander Hamilton

Today is the birthday of Alexander Hamilton. A historical figure I consider a hero.

Hamilton is far more important than "that guy on the 10-dollar bill" or "that guy who died in that duel." Both things I have heard when I've mentioned being a fan of Hamilton.

Please go read Sheila's piece about him. Far more eloquent, more exuberant, and more detailed than I could say right now.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The great home school experiment has begun. Day two had my children going to a local park for P.E. after completing their morning work.

As my family left the park, my noticed a lady driving with a small dog sitting on her lap. My wife remarked, "That is so dangerous!"

My seven-year-old daughter said, "I hope she has Allstate."

My wife, laughing, says, "Why is that?"

Delivered deadpan, "Because they forgive you if you get in an accident."

Monday, January 08, 2007

I present my present

One of the greatest things man has ever produced is the upgraded video card.

Most of my birthday stuff was stuff I bought for myself. One of those things was a video card I impulse bought while surfing the post-Christmas clearance shelves at the Office Depot near my parent’s home. I’m usually pretty good and not impulse buying but the big, shiny $27 sticker on the front of the package was too alluring.

I picked up the box just to see what it was. It’s not a great card, just a 128-bit NVIDIA, but when I was about to put it back on the shelf something caught my eye. It has both S-video and HDMI outputs. My mind began to plug away at the possibilities. See, I play a lot of videos on my computer. Being able to output them directly to my TV would save A LOT of time, effort and recordable DVDs.

So, I bought the card. What I didn’t buy were the cords and adapters I’d need to run the card to my TV. I knew I could find them cheap online, but I wasn’t sure how long a cord I’d need. When I got home, I measured things up, did my online research and got my cords and adapters in the mail Friday.

Although the card has an S-video out, I needed an RCA, so I had to buy an S-video to RCA adaptor (I found one for less than $3). Then I had to get some RCA extenders (less than a buck a piece) and some more RCA cables. I am particularly proud of my RCA cable purchases. I was looking for single strand RCA cables – just the one cord, not all three, to cut back on cost. I thought I found what I was looking for in a 95-cent a pop 12 foot cord. I ordered five. But when they came in, each package contained three cables, at 95-cents per package! Great deal. Now I have three extra 12’ RCA packages.

Anywho, I got everything hooked up and it works perfectly. I finished watching some videos I was putting off watching until I got this hooked up and was so happy to watch it on TV versus sitting in front of the computer to do so.

Popular listening

There is a great music discussion going on at Tesco's Blank Forever. It has branched from the original premise, to the point I'm not sure what the argument is or has become. But make sure to stop by and add your two cents. Then come back here and think/comment on this:

Do you think music's listenership and popularity are one and the same? How related are they?

What do you consider to be the difference between a band whose popularity is foisted upon us through advanced radio/MTV play versus one whose popularity grows through word-of-mouth? What bands do you consider to be examples of each?

You're not the one that I want

Can you believe that I've never seen Grease in its entirety? I've seen bits and pieces through the years, but it's just never appealed to me. Not my kind of show.

But I did watch You're The One That I Want last night. Very much an American Idol format, but they're really speeding through it so you don't really get the opportunity to form any attachments to any of the contestants. At least not at this point.

At different portions of the show, they would say, "Did your favorites make it through?" My wife and I were both like, "We only seen these people for five minutes, we have no favorites." The format is less personal than AI, it seems, and you don't connect with the people auditioning.

Not sure if I'll be back for the next episode.

My latest entry is up at Faster Than The World. Go by and check it out.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The great nothing hope

A while back I spoke of something big I was very hopeful about. I didn't really want to talk about specifically for this reason -- it never materialized.

I had a shot at a very good job opportunity. It was an overseas position in Japan and would have been a decent promotion. Additionally, in government service, when you accept an overseas position, your current position is guaranteed to be held for you. This is called return rights. You typically cannot work in an overseas slot for more than 5 or 6 years so that return rights thing is pretty important. There is also a thing in federal government service that once you get paid at a certain level, you cannot get paid at a lower rate. So if you get promoted and then go back to a lower position, they have to raise your pay to match or better what you were making.

The upshot of this is that I could have spent 3 to 5 years in Japan, had a guaranteed return, and not lose any money in the deal. You can understand how excited I was at the opportunity.

So, it's a bit disappointing that I didn't get the job. However, as you can tell by the post below, it's not like I'm sweating it. We have decided to settle down. And that's probably for the best.

This ties into things I've been realizing more and more lately. There are things that are meant to be, and there are things that are not meant to be. You can take this how you want to. I am perhaps feeling more spiritual than I have in years -- and that's how I take this -- but it's just as easy to say that you can only expect the benefits you are prepared to accept.

Shocking and perverse ...

... Which is just a headline to seduce you into reading this. Which is going to be pretty much nothing.

Starting this month, I am a "too-many-irons-in-the-fire" kind of guy. I'm in my last semester of school with a heavy class load. Our office still has manning issues. There are also things outside of both of these issues that keep things rolling. I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to get through the next few months. It's going to be very interesting.

Last night I had my first class of the new semester. I had a class with this instructor last semester, so things went well. When I told her I was graduating at the end of this semester, she told me that she waives the final exam for students who are graduating. It's her gift to those students. What luck.

Things like this happen to me often. I stress over things that are difficult or seem like they're going to be near impossible to do. Then, they wind up either being far more simple than I anticipate or someone comes along with help I wasn't expecting. I don't know what I've done to deserve this kind of karma, but I'm very thankful for it.

We have intensified our house hunting efforts (which is one of those things outside of school and work that adds to the life tempo). We might have found a place. I am hesitant to say anything or explain any more until I have more information. It's a great place with a lot of land and we're very hopeful. I'll leave it at that.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Viva la resolution

Having a birthday two days after the new year begins can be a difficult way to keep some resolutions you might have attempted to adopt. To be fair to myself, it's not a new resolution. It's not really a resolution, more of a long-term goal. I just have little self control.

Long-time readers of the blog and those who know me know that I've been trying to exercise more and eat better for some time. There have been some successes, but they always fall away due to something or other. I am committed to doing better this time around. Seeing my family and seeing the health issues they are dealing with because of poor life choices has really lit a fire under me.

My dad has smoked and eaten poorly for as long as I can remember. And now he's sick more often than he's well. He lost his mother, father and younger brother to lung cancer. An older brother has emphysema and pulls an oxygen tank along with him. But my dad refuses to quit smoking and has pretty much accepted the fatality of his decision. He won't even go to the doctor to see why his chronic cough and chest congestion won't go away. I think he's afraid to find out. And my children have invested their love into this fatality. It's very difficult to watch.

On my mom's side, my grandfather has had several heart attacks over the past 20 years. He's in his 80s now and I think the only reason he's been able to carry on is his bullheadedness. He has always been active and is still always doing something and I think that's what has contributed to his longevity. But his heart problems are due primarily to his poor diet through his life.

Looking at both of these family histories has really opened my eyes lately. I quit smoking two years ago because I wanted to be healthier and wanted to stop spending so much money on the habit. It was very hard to do, but putting down a pack of cigarettes and never picking them up again gets easier as time goes on. It's certainly easier than eating better. You don't have to smoke. You have to eat.

Yesterday I tried. I started my new program. I woke up early, went on a walk and did some crunches. I had a V8 (with hot sauce!) for breakfast and ate well through the day. Until the evening. When your 7-year-old child really wants to get you cake and ice cream, well, it's hard to say no.

This morning, I didn't get up early and walk or anything. But I did have my V8 for breakfast (which, I should explain, is a pretty big thing for me to do -- I never eat any breakfast and this serves as a way for me to get nutrients and such to help start the day and not have a bunch of fat and gunk). I have a good lunch and snacks through the day. Hopefully I won't fall off the wagon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Unto the grindstone the nose is put

Well. I hope everyone had a decent and relaxing holiday break. The family and I got back from vacation Sunday evening and have been taking our sweet time getting around to doing anything. Like updating one's blog.

I have very little to report. Most of our vacation was spent sitting on couches reading books or playing games with the kids and/or family. It was fun and needed.

There are plenty of things to talk about in the world right now, but one of my resolutions for this year is to restrict my political/issue talk. It simply pisses me off too much and instead of being the release that this blog was intended to be, it has really only served to rile me up more. I'd rather just chill for a bit.

This is not to say that I won't ever be discussing politics or pressing issues, but I'm going to be very selective in what I choose to discuss.

Continuing in that vein, I have a new post up at Faster Than The World. Please check it out.

Oh yeah, I turned 33 today.