Monday, December 22, 2008

Earle Girls' Xmas Dinner

Every year for the past 6 or 7 years I have celebrated the holidays with my lovely lady friends that I befriended at my last restaurant job, The Earle. We usually go to the cozy restaurant, The Lord Fox. This year due to financial reasons, we decided to have the festive dinner at one of our homes. We were happy to have everyone over at our place. In past dinners, there have been 5 of us ladies. However, due to losing touch with one friend and the other living too far away in Arizona,there were three of us girls. (tear--We missed you so much Kindra!)

This was, however, the first girls' dinner where we had our men there too. My guy was making the yummy food, while the others were there to help if needed. Shannon had it under control though. It was so nice to have everyone over!

We started with martinis and good conversation. It soon followed with Chandon Blanc de Noir with hibiscus flowers and a lovely cheese plate. It consisted of Camembert, Boucheron, Gruyere, and a 3 year old Gouda. The plate was accompanied with apples, rosemary crackers, and a baguette.

A couple of hours later we moved on to drinking the 2006 Stadt Krems Qualitatswein Trocken Kremstal Sandgrube Gruner Veltliner and the 2005 Hubertushof Classic Riesling with a salad of arugula, roasted pears, gorgonzola, and toasted pecans that had been tossed in a white wine vinaigrette.

About an hour later we had the 2007 Seghesio Zinfandel and the 2005 Condado de Haza Ribera del Duero with dinner. Dinner consisted of so many yummy parts. We had pistachio and creole mustard encrusted lamb chops that had been roasted, braised ancho chili short ribs, scalloped potatoes with leeks and cream, as well as leeks and fennel sauteed with lemon zest. Yummy!

We did push on through about an hour later to eat dessert. Even though we were so full. We had a plate of chocolates, vanilla ice cream garnished with a raspberry lemon thumbprint cookie, and a slice of a yummy apple crostata. We had this with much needed coffee. Some of us may have decided to throw in a little Baileys, Amaretto, or Frangelico.

This was a very fun evening of yummy food and drinks with wonderful friends. What a wonderful way to start off the holiday celebration before we travel to see our families in Memphis tomorrow!

Friday, December 5, 2008

2 Weeks in Review

Thanksgiving - Everything was fun as always - the spinach casserole was hotter because I used habanero cheese. Carrie's new pumpkin mascarpone pie was awesome. But yeah, we ended up freezing half of the food, although I did finish the mac and cheese! We would love any of you to come visit next year though!!!

Wine of the week - Juan Gil 2005 Jumilla. It was only $13, and it gets an 89 from WS - it was fantastic. Seriously, it was like blackberry syrup, but also had tannins and earth and depth. The grape is monastrell, which is really the Spanish word for mourvedre. We will get it again, especially since the price is right. Here is what the bottle looks like, in case you want to look for it.

Music - I am horribly disappointed that Beyonce is playing Etta James in a new movie. That would be like Avril Levigne playing Wendy O. Williams.

Also, my new favorite song this week - Mogwai. Awesome video, plus it is apparently part of a genre called "post-rock", which always makes me feel cool when participating in something that uses the prefix "post-".

PS - there is this new video game or something Prince of Persia, and the commercial uses this, one of my favorite songs ever. I had a song by this band on at the wedding - seriously, the lead singer is a gay Icelandic guy who sings in falsetto using a made up language. I wish I were kidding. But the falsetto is very off-putting if you aren't a fan, but I am and I love these guys. (And I looked them Sigur Ros on wikipedia and apparently they are also post-rock. I just learned this term, but I will try to drop it in casual conversation as much as possible in order to appear more annoying than I already am.)

Books - I am in that moment where I can't find a book I want to finish. I have started reading 3 books recently, all from the library, but I am just not interested in finishing them. I am rereading The Blind Side, which you should read especially if you are from Memphis or are a football fan. I think I just want the new Malcolm Gladwell book.

TV - I am very happy that Steph and Chip are watching Top Chef. Also, I seem to be the only one left with any hope that Heroes will get better.

Favorite Link of the week - 82games. I love stats, and now I can better argue that the Grizz need to start Lowry or Crittendon over Conley. And that Rip Hamilton is having a horrible season.

Health - Carrie has been sick for 4 solid weeks now (coughing and sinus and whatnot), so we finally went to the doctor and got some antibiotics. I thought I was in the clear since I hadn't caught anything. Then Sunday, I felt like I might be getting sick and tried to ignore it and drink OJ and take vitamins and all. But Monday, I was just out of it, and I figured that would be it because by the end of the day I was feeling fine. Yesterday, I wake up and take a shower and look in the mirror and my right eye is just bloodshot red. I figured I was just getting pink eye, but as the day went on, it just kept getting worse and all this mucus stuff was coming out, and it hurt and itched. So we went back to the doctor finally and it turns out that it is an infection, and the mucus is really pus, and it is worse than pink eye. I wake up Wednesday morning, and my right eye is crusted shut and my left eye is so mucus-y that I can't see, so I just jumped in the shower and turned my face into the water. It all got better and I look normal again, because I looked like a boxer after a fight that morning. I'm still phlegmy though.

In other words, I haven't had as productive of a week as I would have liked.

Movies - we had a rare 3 movie weekend. Tropic Thunder - good but not as good as I would have liked, but still gets tons of points for being actually original in concept. Iron Man - yes, Robert Downey Jr. did a great job and the movie was really awesome. Then, we watched Raiders again - good times. I dread seeing the new Indiana Jones movie.

Overheard in the classroom - OK, this one is already a classic, but it bears repeating: at lunch, one of the boys in Carrie's class asked if she could open his yogurt for him, so she did, but of course the yogurt went flying and got on her shirt. She looked for some napkins to clean it off. Then, the boy says to her, "I can clean that off...with my tongue!"

The most Ann Arbor thing I saw this week - A woman, standing outside in a couple of inches of snow at Meijer, most likely waiting for the person she was with to get the car and pick her up, wearing sandals and socks.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Week in Review

Because I can never think of a good blog topic, I will try to post more by telling a little bit of what has happened in our lives over the last week. So here goes - the week in:

TV - Friday Night Lights made me cry because it is the best show ever.
I have been watching Lost reruns - still no good reason as to why they killed off Libby. I get that she had a DUI in real life, but come on.
South Park - really, it was the Goth kids versus the kids who are dressing like vampires now that this Twilight movie is out. Everyone should still be watching this show.
And BOO to ABC for canceling Eli Stone. Although it clears up an hour a week for us.

Movies - We saw Role Models on Friday, and it made us laugh. It had the funny kid from the Tracy Morgan Show. Also, a new Watchmen trailer came out - seriously, when that movie finally comes out, I want to see it in a theater chock full of nerds. Like, the nerdiest Leroy Jenkins nerds ever.

Books - Recently I read 2 books - The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. The Road - easily one of the best 5 to 10 books I have ever read. Some things in that book absolutely broke my heart. Fantastic read, highly recommended.

Haunted - I remember when a book came out in the 90s called The Hot Zone. The first chapter of this book was a must read - it was gripping and scary and suspenseful to the point where I still read the chapter from time to time. With Haunted, the Saint Gut-Free chapter is its equal. When Chuck Palahniuk went on a book tour to promote Haunted, he read that chapter aloud, and people started fainting! He even added an epilogue for the paperback - apparently 73 people nationwide have fainted at his readings. Some even in Ann Arbor! I wish I could have been there. Point is, none of the women in my life should read that chapter, but all the guys, seriously, google it - it is online. I am not going to link to it because I know my mom reads this, and I don't want her to read it. Steph - remember, you can't tell Chip what it is about until he reads it.

As for my books now, I am reading 3 but can't figure out it I want to read any of them. Thank goodness for libraries.

Health - Carrie got sick, and I have a stye on my right eyelid.

Music - I read something on Pitchfork about how Nirvana wasn't really grunge, but was only associated with the movement since they came from Seattle in the early 90s and wore the right clothes. Carrie and I discussed - we disagree. But feel free to discuss.

Also, we have 2 stations that have moved exclusively to Christmas music. Let me just say - I enjoy Christmas music and all, but really it has become like Rock 103 in Memphis - get some new material already! And not so much of the Groban already!

This is my favorite song right now, but I don't know why.

Weather - it is already stupid cold here. Not as stupid as it will be in late January, but I already have dry skin and have turned on the heat in the apartment. It shouldn't be this cold in November. I am sad because the electric bill has been ridiculously low since we turned the air off, but now it will be high again.

Style - I decided to bring the Doc Martens back. My dress shoes have no traction, and it is already slippery here. Also a big thanks to Cullen and Gina for the Friends and Family coupon that helped Carrie get some new pants for school. Now she has a second pair!!

Sports - Michigan versus ohno state this weekend. I have been watching old games on ESPN classic and reliving the glory days. Of course, the glory days refer to ANY SEASON other than this one.

Also, Coach Rod has been under fire again this week. He said that the losers who post crap on message boards about individual Michigan players should "get a life". The media reported this as Rich Rod saying that all Michigan fans should get a life. Why do they hate him so bad? Wait - don't answer that. He left the poorest state in the nation to get one of the 5 most coveted jobs in coaching - how dare he!??! Then, some students started to leave the program - a third string DT, a WR who has played in one game, and then the great white hope, McGuffie. Well, McGuffie is just a rumor, but apparently the rumor is that he is clinically depressed, and really I just hope the best for him, whatever he decides. (Apparently he is playing on Saturday.) But if he wants to come over and hang out and play Madden, I am more than willing - Carrie goes to bed early, I get bored. Just please don't leave!

Memphis basketball signed a top 5 prospect for next year, and is in the running for a couple more, so that is good.

In other news, 10-0.

Overheard in the classroom
This wasn't this week, but it is one of my favorite Mrs. Miller stories yet. One kid said this to her (for fun, he pronounces his "r"s like "w"s):
"Mrs. Miller, you're a heartbreaker. Hey Mrs. Miller, what's a 'heartbreaker'?"

Food and wine: The current state of the Millfill economy has put a break on a lot of our eating and drinking habits. However, it has made me remember how much I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

As for the WS Top 100 list - anyone else getting tired of the same wines every year? Yes, the Clos Apalta is good, apparently it is number 1 this time. The Don Melchor is always top 10, but it was 12 this year. We have a vertical of this one since 1999, only missing the 2000. We don't have the 2005 yet though. Our favorite winery, Chateau Pontet-Canet hit #7 this year though! Very exciting - we don't have this one either. Then again, the 2005 Bordeaux from anywhere is overpriced now. Seghesio Zin hit the top 10, and as a result it is gone from every store in Ann Arbor, except for the Liquor Lotto Deli by our place.

#34 is another favorite of ours in a vintage we haven't tried - we love the Condado de Haza.
#40 - Kim Crawford 2008 - we actually thought this was a little off this time, a little more earthy with some notes of jalapeƱo. Good, but we found it for $12 - at $18, it isn't worth it.
#44, the Leasingham - we have had this wine, maybe not this vintage, and it is worth the $12 for sure.
#52 - the LAN - we have this on the rack, and I think we got the 2003 for Steph and Chip last year.
Then, the St. Urbans-Hof Riesling 2007 made the list, and this is another quality Riesling, but for fun you guys should branch off from German Rieslings and try some Alsace Rieslings.
#72 - Speaking of - an Alscace! Our favorite! Buy this one if you see it. We will! You know, when things are better.
#77 Duval Leroy - you can never go wrong with this Champagne.

I think those are the ones I am familiar with off the top of my head. If you can afford any of these, I say go for it. If you have any questions, let me know - I don't post about wine enough.

The most "Ann Arbor" thing I saw this week:
At Meijer, I parked next to a Prius with the license plate "MYBRID". Better yet, the M was from having University of Michigan plates.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bon Hiver!

Oh the snow, the beautiful snow, filling the sky and earth below. Over the house tops and over the streets, over the heads of people you meet. Dancing flirting skimming along... Oh the snow, the beautiful snow, how the flakes gather and laugh as they go. Whirling about in their maddening fun, it plays in its glee with everyone. Chasing, laughing, hurrying by, it lights on the face and sparkles the eye. And even the dogs with a bark and a bound snap at the crystals that eddy around. The town is alive and its heart in a glow to welcome the coming of beautiful snow. -John Whitaker Watson

OK, so it was just a flurry, but any chance I can take to quote Chris in the Morning!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Tonight, Carrie and I were celebrating the historic election, calling everyone we know to express our excitement, whether they wanted to hear it or not. I was speaking to my sister, who recommended that we go downtown Ann Arbor to see if anything was going on. After I hung up, I asked Carrie if she wanted to go, and she said "OK".

We knew that there was an election party at Cafe Felix, so we figured we would check out Main Street first, before going closer to campus. But as we got to the main strip, there was nothing going on. The streets were dead, but there were some people out at the bars of course.

We turned down Washington and headed towards State Street. Still pretty quiet. We had our windows down, and finally we got a scream from a couple walking down the street, so we hollered back - someone was finally happy! Then, we hit State Street, right in front of BWs, then turned right. Suddenly, you could just hear this huge roar. So help me, we looked and saw just hundreds of people walking north on State from campus, turning west onto Liberty. There it was! The celebration! Carrie says, "we should get out!" Of course, right next to us was the available parking spot we needed!! We parked, got out, and joined in the march down Liberty Street, all the while calling everyone we know so that they could hear the cheers.

If I have to name 10 of the most memorable moments of my life when I am on my deathbed, I don't know if there will be enough to knock this one off the list. We all marched down Liberty all the way to Main Street. And I mean the streets and sidewalks were packed full the whole way - there had to be a thousand people, mostly students, just marching, and hooting and hollering - "O-bam-a", "U-S-A", or even "Go Blue"! Random bouts of cheering and applauding, as we walked in the middle of traffic regardless of the color of the traffic lights. Cars driving by and honking and high fiving out of the windows of their cars. Me, trying to take pictures with my camera phone. The cops driving by and telling us all to get out of the middle of the street.

So many things I will remember - people coming out on their balconies to cheer and watch and take pictures, people coming out of bars to cheer, people taking videos, some kids playing a drum and an accordion in a doorway on the parade route, random cowbells. We made the right turn onto Main Street - there was the party at Cafe Felix! People in the lofts on Main Street had their windows open and were waving giant American flags. People just smiling and applauding and cheering and loving the absolute spontaneity of the moment.

We turned onto Washington from Main Street (the second time that night for us, only this time on foot). However, I had to stop - we were somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I wanted to stand off to the side just to see how long the parade really was. I pulled Carrie over at the corner, and we looked. We were standing next to an older couple, maybe 50-ish. I looked over at her - the woman was crying at the wonder and the happiness of the situation. I love the Ann Arborites! She was basically expressing what we were all feeling.

The walk down Washington was more of the same - cheering, people in the bars coming out to high five us, cars honking and cheering. People banging pots and pans along the sidelines. One woman walking in the opposite direction, stopping one of the girls in front of us and asking what was going on, only to be told "I don't know - this just kind of happened!" Then, maybe my favorite moment of the night - 2 African American students meeting in the middle of the street and giving each other an extended bear hug, one that expressed the emotions inherent in the moment, emotions that I will never be fully capable of understanding. That hug - that moment - this is why we were celebrating. That was why we were marching. It was just too exciting of a moment, too historical of a moment, that we had to share it with others. We live in the perfect town for that moment, and just gave me a level of civic pride - hell, national pride - that might never be topped.

Luckily, the parade route brought us full circle to our car. We had to come home, because Carrie had to wake up in less than 5 hours. As we drove south down State, we rolled down the windows and played Obama's acceptance speech at full blast. Then we watched it when we got home. Carrie knew she was going to be tired, but I don't think she cared at all. Still - I will always remember walking down Liberty with Carrie, and just looking at her and having her look at me, and wordlessly expressing to each other the awesomeness of the moment.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


On Saturday, Carrie and I went to the Salvation Army to find some costumes for the party we had to go to that night. See, we had to dress up as something that started with the letter 'B'. (I went as a bowler, Carrie went as Bob's Grandson. I'll explain.) I really wanted to find a bowling shirt to go with my bowler outfit, since I already had the shoes and the bowling ball case. Carrie was still trying to figure it all out.

In case you have never been to Goodwill or the Salvation Army or whatever, let me try to explain the experience. First of all, if you want to meet gay high school boys, this is your place. I guess the whole goodwill look is in still (Carrie said she used to go clothes shopping there in high school too). Also, if you want to find any equipment for any out of date electronic equipment, look no further. The music area had a Barry Manilow album which oddly overlooked the whole store. There were tapes and CDs (including Billy Gilman's One Voice), VCR tapes and even some DVDs, a whole bunch of iPod covers (for some reason), about a dozen VCRs, a dozen TVs (maxing out at 17 inches, tops). Every game or toy you played with as a child was there in the kids section. Well, most of them had some parts missing. There was some terrible artwork, a bed even, some furniture, a whole bunch of books that you might have bought in the 80s or 90s but now have no use for (go there if you are looking for a copy of The South Beach Diet). The kitchen equipment was suspect at best, but still surprising - not just snow cone makers, but a toaster oven and a blender among others. The sports section had some wooden tennis rackets and various random parts for every sport you could think of. There was even a poker chip case, without any poker chips of course. You could decorate a kitchen with the knick knacks and cups and plates that were there. Carrie even found a table lamp she had when she was a child and even wanted to buy, even though I told her it probably wasn't the same one.

As for the clothes, well, we had one rule - we couldn't buy anything we had donated. Finding a bowling shirt was daunting, but we found something that passed. But the shirts - really, everything you could ever expect. I found some Structure, Gap, Old Navy - you name it. Some of those country shirts that Garth Brooks used to wear. Flannel robes. Mom jeans. Silk, sateen, denim. I sadly found a shirt that I wear to work twice a week. (Even more sad - I wear the same shirt to work twice a week.) They had a big and tall section. There was even a section with bridesmaid dresses and prom dresses, and some shirts that might have been seen at a table you waited on at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon at Grady's. Despite all my prodding, Carrie refused to go as a bridesmaid (starts with a B, only $12!!).

The T-shirt aisle was where we spent most of the time, looking for something for Carrie. (I wanted a "Bikini Inspector" T-shirt, which would have been the awesomest costume ever.) There were many options - a Blue Cross Blue Shield employee, someone on the Belleville Denistry softball team. We even found one that said "Jerry's gang", but it didn't start with a B. Then Carrie found it - a T-shirt that said "Bob's Grandson". First of all, Bob's grandson sucks, because if my grandpa made me that shirt, I would wear it all the time. Also, who makes a shirt that reads "Bob's grandson"? But, it was Carrie's size, and really kinda funny for the party, so it was decided. Really though, looking at the shirts, they all seemed funny in a "I just got this at goodwill" type of way. But when you think about it, if you hadn't bought one of those shirts from goodwill and just had it, then were seen out wearing it, it wouldn't be that funny. And really, you can't tell that if you see someone just wearing a tacky shirt like that. Maybe they are being ironic, maybe not. I guess if they are a gay high school kid, they are being ironic.

Really, as weird as the experience was, and the feeling that we buying clothes better suited towards keeping Washtenaw County's homeless population warm this winter, I also felt that if my house burnt down and I had to refurnish at a minimal cost, I could fill up my place with crap from goodwill. But still - first thing we did when we got home was to wash those shirts before we wore them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

NFL Predictions

Out of sheer boredom from the fact that I just finished the book I was reading, Carrie was asleep by a quarter to 9, and I am postponing writing a cover letter for a job at Google, I am going to do an NFL preview. I know less than half of you will care, but I figured why not?

NFC East:
Philadelphia 12-4
Dallas 10-6
NY Giants 8-8
Washington 6-10

Philly - McNabb will have another year where everyone wonders why they didn't take him higher in the fantasy drafts. Until he gets hurt. Weak receivers though, but Westbrook is awesome. Defense will be great this year.

Dallas - Romo won't be as good this year. Barber/F Jones will be productive at RB, TO will have a big year, and Pacman will have a return to glory. Tough division though, and tough schedule to end the year. O-line is overrated. I should be watching them on that HBO show! I keep forgetting.

Giants - (Yes, I know they have already won tonight.) Super Bowl hangover - may not make the playoffs this year. Really overachieved last year, and lack of depth on the defensive line will hurt them. Eli is the backup on my keeper team, so I hope he starts off by tearing it up so I can trade him.

Redskins - Campbell is just not good enough. He will lose his starting job to Colt Brennan, who will lead them in a late season charge. Made an emotional playoff run last year, but I don't see them repeating.

NFC West:
Seattle 11-5
Arizona 8-8
St. Louis 5-11
San Francisco 5-11

Seattle is always good and gets no credit. They have Hasselbeck and a bunch of talented wideouts, then some solid RBs. Their O-line needs to play better than last year - losing Hutchinson hurt them, but Walter Jones is still one of the best in the game. Their defense is solid up front. But they have made the playoffs for something like 5 years in a row, but don't get any televised games this year. I don't get it.

Arizona - maybe this is the year they finally deliver and make the playoffs. I don't see it with Warner, and Leinart is in danger of becoming a fluke. He still gets laid more than I do, and I am a newlywed. Their receivers are awesome, Pope could have a big year at TE, Edge needs to put up 1000 yards and 7 TDs for me to be competitive in my keeper league, and their defense will be a surprise this year if they can stay healthy.

St. Louis - where the gun play ring all day. They will score a ton this year and give up even more. Start your offensive guys against St. Louis but not your defense. Especially if their O-line can stay healthy for once. Their points for and against will look like the Texas Rangers this season.

San Francisco - They are starting JT O'Sullivan, Bryant Johnson, and Isaac Bruce this year. Patrick Willis is a beast on defense though. I really got nothing to add here.

NFC North
Green Bay 12-4
Minnesota 10-6
Chicago 6-10
Detroit 4-12

Green Bay - I think Aaron Rogers will be fine, but not stellar. He won't lose a ton of games, especially with the weapons he has around him. Their defense is kickass, and they might get 6 wins against the division. They only allowed 19 sacks all of last season!

Minnesota - Awesome defense, offensive line, and running back. Really, a Super Bowl contender if they had a solid QB. Or even a good backup QB. I just don't see their QBs winning any games for them this year, but the rest of the team is so talented. I wouldn't start my offensive guys against this defense if I could help it.

Chicago - No depth at all. QB situation is whatever, and they have no discernible wide receivers. Sure, they have good players here and there, but still. They would finish at the bottom of the division, if not for...

Detroit - What can I say? I only follow the Titans more than these guys, but yikes. They do have some quality guys here - Kevin Smith will be solid, and their WR duo is among the best in the league. But their O-line allows too many sacks, their defense is more porous than it should be, and they are just not well coached. I am glad the Mike Martz era is over, but our passing is our strength now! Kitna might be the first QB ever with 30TDs and 30 INTs.

NFC South
New Orleans 9-7
Tampa Bay 9-7
Carolina 9-7
Atlanta 3-13

New Orleans has tons of offense. I like them to return to form this year. That is, only if the secondary can stop the pass at all. They might be one of those teams that scores a lot and gives up a lot, but still wins 34-31 each week. This will be the prediction that you laugh at me for at the end of the year.

Tampa Bay - Probably will win the division, but Jeff Garthia is underwhelming. They are young at o-line and d-line, but their secondary will carry them.

Carolina - Will actually win this division, but whatever. Delhomme is solid, WR and RB are good, and their defense will return to form. Should have picked them.

Atlanta - Matt Ryan will struggle, Michael Turner will suck to the point that he will cost me 3 different fantasy leagues, Roddy White will be okay at WR, but the rest of the team is whatever. Their O-line used to be dominant, I don't follow them enough to figure out where that went wrong.

AFC East
New England 13-3
NY Jets 8-8
Buffalo 7-9
Miami 5-11

New England - No way they go undefeated again. I don't know who will beat them, but whatever. Bound to have some injury issues. But they will probably win it all.

NY Jets - On the verge of the playoffs without Favre. Now, on the verge of the playoffs with Favre, but their WR will have better fantasy numbers. Especially Cotchery. Have rebuilt beautifully over the last 2 drafts.

Buffalo - No solid QB, and no defense. Other than that, they will be fine. O-line is solid and consistent. Defense will have Posluszny back, but that's about it. Honestly, I don't even know who their starting QB is.

Miami - Rebuilding well. Jake Long and Chad Henne will lead the resurgence. Henne throwing to Ginn next year makes me feel weird. But still, 5 wins is a kind prediction by me.

AFC West
San Diego 12-4
Denver 9-7
Kansas City 6-10
Oakland 5-11

San Diego - Still awesome, year after year. Will lose again in the playoffs, like they do year after year. The whole Merriman thing blows my mind - playing football on 2 torn knee ligaments? Yikes. Rivers is overrated.

Denver - Should have put 8-8, but they have KC and Oakland to play twice. Weak O-line, weak defense. I mean, comparatively weak. Anyone of them could kick my ass. Plus, their O-line intentionally tried to cause knee injuries, so now they can't stop Merriman who has nothing left in his knee to lose.

KC - LJ will get hurt, I don't know their QB, and they traded away a dominant young defensive player in order to rebuild, which makes no sense.

Oakland - I hope JaMarcus does well at QB, but the rest of the team leaves a lot to be desired. And their fans freak me out.

AFC North
Pittsburgh 9-7
Baltimore 8-8
Cleveland 6-10
Cincinnati 6-10

Pittsburgh - I hope they do well. Big year for Big Ben. Talented young receivers. I worry that the division will play them tough, and that their offensive line will not be good this year. Their defense is solid, but weak on depth. I still predict that Big Ben will have close to 40 TDs this year.

Baltimore - I really just hate this team. I don't know why - I like a lot of the players. Probably that playoff defeat of the Titans a few years ago. But their offense will not be that good this year. Their defense will be insane, but will wear down as they play 40 minutes a game.

Cleveland - Nice steal of Shaun Rogers from the Lions, but no way they repeat last year's success. They should have traded Derek Anderson while they had the chance. They gave up too many draft picks for a backup QB, and then Bodden will shine in Detroit this year. Their offensive line can't repeat last season's awesomeness.

Cincinnati - Just a train wreck. Palmer will still post big numbers, but as much as I love Chris Perry, he is no better than a couple of free agents available right now. No way to predict what will happen with their new defense this season. I do hate the state of Ohio though.

AFC South
Indianapolis 10-6
Jacksonville 10-6
Houston 8-8
Tennessee 7-9

Indy - Really will have a down year this year. Too many injuries - they need to hire a new medical and conditioning staff. Manning will be solid, as will Wayne, Gonzalez, and Addai. They get good karma for drafting Mike Hart. But too many injuries.

Jacksonville - The team everyone is picking this year. Just don't think that Garrard is all that. WR are pretty good I guess, but RB situation is awesome. Good O-line, but overrated defensive seven. Secondary will be helped with that draft pick, but I just don't see them running away with the AFC this year.

Houston - I wonder if Mario Williams watches coverage of the 2006 draft and laughs when people doubt him being chosen over Bush, VY, and Leinart. DeMeco Ryans is a beast, but there is not a lot of depth at defense. If Schaub and Andre Johnson play the whole year, they could legitimately contend for a playoff spot. They need to draft more defense next year. But they might finally have an offensive line this year!

Tennessee - I saved the best for last! Honestly, I will say they can contend for the Super Bowl. There, I said it. This is, of course, if VY gets injured or improves at a level unprecedented in football annals. Their Offensive Line is awesome, and is the only one in the league where I can name all 5 starters (plus some backups). If the rookies at DE can step up, then we can prove the doubters wrong! The secondary looks great, we have Kearse back at DE, Haynesworth needs to sign a big deal to stay in town. We just need a QB and some WR! Chris Johnson will be incredible this year going forward. Seriously - give me some wide outs! We could be a 13-3 team if we had someone like Garrard or if we had signed Culpepper! But I am more intrigued by these guys more than any other team in the year, because of their high ceiling and low floor. Really they could go 4-12 and I wouldn't be surprised, or they could go 11-5 and say that I knew it would happen.

Thanks if you read it, see you later if you didn't. PS - I even made sure that the records evened out to zero. Also, I did this more for myself than for anyone else. I want to go back at the end of the year to see how I did.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

Things have been pretty hectic around here lately. Carrie started school this week, and is struggling to catch up on all the sleep she lost in anticipation. You know how the first day of school can cause you to lose sleep. That's not good when you wake up at 5. Last week was the last week of my month at work, so I was nervous about hitting my numbers (which I did).

But the weekend was awesome. It was our first Saturday since August 2nd that we got to stay at home. Of course, I went and ruined it by getting a ticket to go see the first game of the Rich Rod era at the University of Michigan. The game was weird - the offense was like nothing I have seen here. No huddle, no rushing game, a bunch of freshmen starting, low expectations. Very strange. As you know, we lost, but it wasn't as soul crushing as last year's first game. All in all, it was fun to actually be there from the start, but we really kind of sucked. It will get better.

I walked home after the game, which is about 3 miles. I felt pretty cool about it, but it cut into our night. We were still able to enjoy a cheese course with heirloom tomatoes and some spicy shrimp with our whites. Carrie did not get the first one right (she guessed that it was a California SB, when it was an Oregon PG - Willamette Valley Pinot Gris 2007 $15, check it out) but nailed the second one. I tried to fool her by getting the 2006 Conundrum, but she got it (I didn't let her guess the vintage). I believe she said, "This is a California Chardonnay. Or wait, it is a blend. Hey, did you get me the Conundrum?" Then we had steaks with cheddar polenta and then Carrie made this ridiculous leeks and bacon dish. Seriously - it was made with cream, and the cream tasted like bacon. Then leeks are awesome - who knew? Another green for the rotation (green beans, broccoli, asparagus). We are to a point now where we take 2 canvas bags to the farmers' market. We are WHITE.

Oh, and with the main course we had this bottle of 2005 Chinon red something that WS gave a 92, but that was off the rack so no game playing. Only $18 at Whole Foods. Good times. (OK - I looked it up - it was the Couly-Dutheil Chinon La Baronnie Madeleine 2005. See why I couldn't just remember it?)

On Sunday we went to something called Arts Beats and Eats, which was basically the Taste of Ann Arbor on steroids. It was in Pontiac, which is an hour away. The whole downtown was closed off, and it was this huge street festival. You had to buy tickets which were in turn used to buy food from restaurants that had booths. Good stuff. The Arts part had a couple of booths that had some nude photography, making it far superior to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and no matter where you went there was always a band playing somewhere. We even went into a dueling piano bar to get out of the sun, and that The high was 85 and there was not a cloud in the sky. Being outside was pretty unbearable, until I thought about what it is like in Memphis, and then it didn't seem so bad.

Labor Day itself was relaxing, as we went to the pool, then made burgers and watched BSG. (PS - Happy Birthday Hillary!) All in all, a fun weekend, except for the football loss, the heat, the hangover (only 3 bottles - we have become lightweights), being sore from the 45 minute walk home from the game, and Carrie losing sleep from being nervous. But it was fun other than that!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Of Things Past

While I was in Memphis, I went into the attic to find the box of my old Dean Koontz and Agatha Christie books. When I was a teenager, I used to go to Bookstar up on Winchester to buy one of those books once a week. I think I read everything Dean Koontz put out before 1992, and I tried to read every single Hercule Poirot book that Agatha Christie wrote (Miss Marple sucked). But, recently I borrowed a Koontz book from Chip and read it. It kind of sucked, but it sparked the urge to go back and read some of the old stuff again, just to see.

The first time I read Dean Koontz's Watchers, I considered it to be the best book I had ever read. Granted, it was the late 80s, I was not quite full on puberty yet and didn't have many other books under my belt to compare it to. Even after I read some good quality books in high school, the memory of how awesome Watchers was the first time I read it still put it at the top of my list. Recently I have been thinking, if I had to name my favorite books of all time, would Watchers still make the cut? Then, seeing a special 20th anniversary edition at Target really piqued my interest enough to seek it out when we were in Memphis this last time.

Well, I am about 3 quarters of the way done, and let's just say it no longer tops the list. It hasn't been for a while (that spot belongs to Frankenstein - really, the book works on so many levels, I could discuss it all day) and now it just kind of seems like all of Koontz's other books. You know, every person (or dog) in all his books have the same sense of humor, have some degree of smug conservatism, the characters are clear cut good or bad, etc. He is really good at the suspense part, but the reveal is never as spectacular as the buildup. So reading the book has been a good bit of nostalgia for me, but the nostalgia itself far outweighs the substance so far. I think just remembering how excited I was at this part of the book is more exciting than reading this part of the book now, if that makes sense. Koontz is now just escapism for me, something to read on a plane or on vacation, where not much is required of the reader.

Then, in the car the other day, I heard Just Like Paradise by David Lee Roth. Also for a time in the late 80s, this was my favorite song of all time. Really, Vai, Sheehan - good times. Then I hear it in the car, and there is this line that goes, "Suzie Suzie, girl, for cryin' out loud, you got all the right moves you make me eat my heart out nightly. And that's all right with me, yeah!" I mean, I always knew the lyric was there, but yikes! What disturbed me was that I associated that song with some level of transcendence, like with Dreams by Van Halen - same time frame, emotional song, good music, still holds up after all these years. But Just Like Paradise is just goofy - this song used to move me! I guess when you are 12, that is how the world works.

These are just extreme examples, but seriously in 1989, that was my favorite book ever and my favorite song ever, right there. Coming back to them now, well, it is comparable to finding out that the actress that helped you get through puberty is dating Tom Green now. I figured out long ago that Mr. Roboto was just goofy, but I was like 6 when I thought that song was awesome. At least Star Wars still kicks ass. Well, the original versions at least.

Monday, August 25, 2008

South Haven, MI

Some notes from the weekend in South Haven at the beach:

- We went with Frank and Hillary, and Hillary's college friend Meg, and the guy that Meg has been dating, a guy named Hunter Kim. He has a last name for a first name and a first name for a last name.
- This is the third time this summer that we have been to the western part of the state, after not going once in the first 8 years here.
- When I was in high school, I had the live VCR tape of the Van Halen concert after 5150 came out, where they were in New Haven. Of course, Sammy Hagar said that he would call the town "New Halen" from now on. This is important only because for the last few months, I have been saying that we were going to South Halen, to the point that Carrie thought that was actually the name of the town. Private jokes aren't really funny when you are the only one in on the joke. Sorry about that.
- The beach on Lake Michigan is better than the ocean for several reasons: fresh water rather than salt water, no sharks, no jelly fish, very little fish at all really, no real seashells on the beach to step on, and it is all really close to where we live.
- I can handle sunburn most places on me except for the top of my head. I avoided any sunburn really this time. At least, I thought I had avoided it until I went to brush my hair.
- Really there are few things as mindlessly enjoyable than a game of catch. There have been many times in my life where this involved a baseball and some gloves, but this time it was a football. I need to work on my spiral for sure. But for some reason, Saturday night I was thinking the best part of the day was throwing the football on the beach.
- I played Rock Band for the first time ever. I wasn't as keen on the guitar as I was the drums. They need Drum Hero by itself so I can get that and slowly work my way up to Rush and Metallica's One on Expert level.
- I had a fantasy football draft that I did from the back porch of a coffee place called Cafe Julia, that took most of Saturday afternoon. The next time I go to the beach, I really don't want my day to revolve around that. Also, Andre Johnson and Kevin Smith need to have HUGE years.
- This year, I watched the Olympics in Memphis, Olive Branch, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and South Haven. (Seriously, someone once ran the 5K in 12:37. That is asinine.)
- South Haven was a super cute town and we plan to spend more time there. It is much closer than Traverse City is, so the next time Mom comes to visit, we may have to take her out there.
- Oh, and if you get a mocha from a place called the South Bend Chocolate Company, chances are that it will be really chocolaty.

Back at work today, I was told that there was a place that was an old boat located behind all the stores on the waterfront in the bay or whatever (really, those were about the exact words used) that served a drink called South Haven Iced Tea, which is well known only because of the abbreviation. We totally must go next time. And we need to open a franchise down in Mississippi.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


For Mom's birthday, I got her a book called In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. With her permission, I read the book before I gave her the present, and it changed my life. Not in the dorky grad student "it changed my life" kind of way, but it just made me more aware of what I am eating and what I need to be eating. The basic thesis of the books is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." It says to not eat anything that your grandmother wouldn't have eaten. Basically, only get stuff from the edges of the grocery store, not the stuff in the middle that is all processed and has a bunch of ingredients that you don't recognize, etc.

It makes the case that there are certain "western diseases" such as heart disease, diabetes, etc., that have come about from all the processed foods that we eat. Places in the world without all of our processed foods don't have the same rates of these diseases, and there is a reason. In order to prevent these diseases, we need to eat "whole foods". Not foods from Whole Foods per se, but actual fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, etc., that exist the way that they did in nature. They have some balance of antioxidants and nutrients and vitamins that you can't get in foods that you buy frozen and precooked in the frozen food section.

Long story short (really, just read the book), we have decided to eat better. Make meals with real ingredients, not just eat frozen foods. This is important because we have been on Weight Watchers for so long, and have been eating a lot of frozen foods that are Smart Ones, or Boca. Now, I am not saying that those are the worst thing in the world (we did lose some weight), but now on I want to know what the things I put in my body are (that's what she said). So, per the rules in the book, we are reading labels: no foods with ingredients I can't pronounce, I have never heard of, or ones with high fructose corn syrup.

We are buying most of our groceries now at the farmer's market and at specialty stores, and it is really nice. We are cooking together, and having really awesome meals. Included in the awesome meals was this at Zingerman's the other night. Heirloom tomatoes all day! Fancy Zingerman's food! The most Ann Arbor crowd I have been around in a while! There was even a Chip-guy there who was photographing all the food, but wasn't like the official guy or anything. It was fancy and awesome. So many strappy sandals with jeans and such little makeup!

Last night we cut some corn off the cob and roasted it with onions and peppers and whatnot, and it was really fantastic. A very worthy meal for us to eat while we watched BSG. I don't know if the new diet will make us lose as much weight as the WW diet did, but I feel a little bit more piece of mind about what is going in my body (twss). Plus, we get to drink red wine every night!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Memphis Trip (in bullet points!)

(Sorry I haven't been posting this month, but things have been hectic. Here goes!)

- From all the horror stories I have heard about mothers-in-law (especially from Chip and Carrie), I feel that I am fortunate that I only have to use 4 words in order to make mine laugh: "That's what she said."
- The post-wedding party went off without a hitch. It was great to see all of my extended family-in-law in one place, as well as my own immediate family. The food was great, the cake was great, and although the kids were everywhere, I actually had a good time with them all. We got to spend some quality time with Nathan, Chloe, and Christopher - all the youngests!
- I also got to see plenty of Gerald and Jerry, which was really nice. I have had almost exclusively women in my family, so I welcome some dudes into the mix.
- I find it amusing that for the entire relationship, Carrie and I have slept in the same bed at the Stanfills, but the first time we show up as a married couple, we get the twin beds.
- Balmoral. Well, I have too much to say here that I may have to give it its own blog post, but let's just say that the next time Carrie and I are in town, we may just go even if no one else can make it, including Mom. It was just heartwarming to see so many well-wishers and friends in one place. Then, Carrie wanted to talk to me about the sermon on the way home!
- Connor. That boy can run me ragged. There is nothing better than walking into the Chockleys and having him come running up to give me a big hug! Even if it happened at Mom's this time.
- Di. I feel I reconnected with him for the first time in a while, and now I really want to make it out to DC. We picked up right where we left off. Good times! It was good to hang out, if only for a little bit.
- The Olympics. 4 years ago, they were on when we were in Florida with the Stanfills, so it was funny to be watching the games with them again. Also, on that Sunday night, just sitting around watching the games with Mom and Steph and Chip and Carrie really got me talking for some reason - I think we need to watch TV sometimes with the phone on speaker so I have more of an audience than just Carrie. She has heard all my good material. What little there is.
- Strangely enough, Carrie and I were both nervous to tell Steph and Chip that we aren't really big fans of the Flight of the Conchords. I want to like them, and I am sure I will try again, and I can see why people would like them and all, but I am just not a big fan of musical comedy. I am not faulting you if you are though!!! It is just subjective. They aren't objectively awesome, like, say, the Arcade Fire.
- Speaking of the Arcade Fire, big thanks to Mark and Tiff for the DVD of wedding pictures. That was really sweet. (Please save any and all of the photos for us though! Even if they are times when your cameras accidentally went off, we want those too!!!)
- I found my box of all my Dean Koontz and Agatha Christie books in the attic. I didn't bring them up when I moved up here, because what if someone from the History program came over and saw them? I would lose all credibility!
- I didn't wake up with any explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting like the last time I was in town, so we were able to make it home on time. TMI, I am sure, but I am just keeping it real. I was actually somewhat apprehensive about eating anything this trip for fear of it coming back. Plus, we made good time on the way home, so that was nice. Whatever.

Overall, it was a nice trip. No unnecessary drama, because maybe there just wasn't enough time. Again, the drive sucks, but what can you do. Maybe if we keep these trips to just a few days, we will start liking you all again. (Just kidding!)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

#31 - July was Fun

Well, the blog experiment went well. I will work to post 2-3 times a week at least. It will be easier to do it that way, so I can be more selective about the subjects. I hope you guys had fun reading my inane thoughts and looking at wedding pictures!

#30 - More Wedding Pics

I got about 250 more wedding photos from a guy I work with, so I figured I would post a couple here that I liked.

#29 - Be Careful Washing These Clothes...

#28 - Detroit Music

While there are many aspects about living in Michigan that I love, one of the things that bothers me is the amount of musicians that I hate who come from around here. I mean, Detroit is Motown, so we've got that going for us. However, most of the radio stations I listen to don't play Motown. The Detroit acts I hear are ones that I hated when I first heard them. But because they are from around these parts, the radio stations play them all the damn time! For instance:

Kid Rock - seriously, this Sweet Home Alabama/Werewolves of London mash-up - really, do you like it that much, people? I mean, the Bawitdaba, or whatever it was called, had its moments, but you just knew he was peaking with that. Then he gives us "I know it stinks in here, 'cause I'm the s***" debacle, the thing with Sheryl Crowe where they do that weird computer thing with his voice, and heaven forbid the "Cowboy Baybay" POS. Now, I hear this Sweet Home Alabama All Summer Long song at least twice a day, and I spend maybe 20 minutes listening to the radio every day. I get it - he is a hometown boy, and people seem to like his stuff. Carrie even has friends who find him attractive. (Seriously?) But it just isn't my cup of tea. Yet I have to hear it all the damn time!

Eminem - well, I really liked Lose Yourself. And that's about it. I haven't really listened to his albums, but Stan was a debacle, the cleaning out my closet song was actually really bad, and all his catchy stuff for the radio plays like pop to me. I don't get the appeal, but really I do like the one song by him. I just don't care to listen to him bitch about his mom and his wife and his kid and his uncle or something or whatever - I get it, things sucked. But when someone writes a book about a tragedy in their life, they don't keep harping on the same shit on every subsequent book! Do more stuff like Lose Yourself! No more of this "nowadays everybody wants to talk" stuff. But, needless to say every channel loves him up here. Even the one that proudly boasts that they don't play rap.

Ted Nugent - really, no respect on a personal level for this guy. I mean, have your political beliefs and all, but don't say stupid shit. Have some sort of class and intelligence when voicing yourself politically, don't just be closed minded and freaky. As for his music, well, if the radio stations played the Damn Yankees, then we would be good. Seriously - he is great on Come Again. But the one Ted Nugent song that they play on the radio that I hear at least once a week is this gawd awful "Fred Bear". Apparently this is a real guy, not just some bear, and he is a personal friend of Nugent, so I can respect that. But I am just not a fan of the song. I wonder if I would like it if I didn't hear it all the time, but whatever. I just can't stand the guy.

Bob Seger - OK - this is the toughest. Seriously, dude went to Pioneer High School here in Ann Arbor. Down on Main Street is a song about Main Street Ann Arbor. He is my hometown. Yet, when I was growing up, I always joked that I tried to live in a Seger-free zone, because I hated his stuff. So I am torn here, because I have such a degree of civic pride here in A2 that I have never had anywhere else, so when someone sings about my town - I don't know. I am just saying, why couldn't Radiohead be from Ann Arbor?

Hey - at least we have Detroit Rock City and Motown and Jack White to fall back on. I am probably forgetting someone significant, but whatever - it just seems like every musician that I hate ends up being from around here. Whatever - the sample size is too small. Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

#27 - Who are these people?

#26 - Upward Angles

#25 - Michigan Football

This season, I am more excited about Michigan football than I have for any other season so far. I think it is the fact that we are about to begin a new era in Michigan football history - the Rich Rod era. We totally stole him from WVU, and I couldn't be any more excited. He has this guy as his strength and conditioning coach named Mike Barwis, who is insane. He is a former UFC type of guy who has a masters degree in something to do with being in shape. While Michigan may not have the talent this year, we will have the most athletic team in the Big Ten, and will be competitive every week.

The thing is, it has been a really rough year for Michigan football. Coming off of our loss to osu and our bowl loss in 2006, expectations were high for last season. Then, the Appalachian State debacle happened, which I have talked about before. Then Oregon destroyed us the weekend after that. Then we had a decent run up until we lost to osu again. But hey - we beat Florida in the bowl game, which we all knew would be Lloyd Carr's last game.

Then we tried to replace Lloyd. So many candidates - the Les Miles debacle, our play for Iowa's head coach, then we land Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia. And then it begins - you would think that he went on a killing spree before he left - all the West Virginia hate. He gets shit for trying to grab Pryor, who eventually signs with osu. Then we lose Mallett to Arkansas, and we have no QB. Then we lose some offensive lineman to osu (WTF?) - this guy is a douche though. He is a legacy and he quit the minute he had to run wind sprints. Riddance, I say. But now, we have neither a QB nor an offensive line.

Then we steal a recruit from Purdue and their head coach rips on Rich Rod. Calls him "a guy in a wizard hat selling snake oil." Then Rich Rod gives the number 1 jersey to a non-wide receiver, which is apparently a big no-no since there is a scholarship for wide receivers who wear that jersey. Then there was the lawsuit from West Virginia to get the money Coach Rod owes them.

Wait - is that all? That was the last 12 months of the history of the proudest college football tradition in the nation. It has been a disaster, but still - with the new conditioning program and the enthusiasm, it just all sounds like what it was when Bo took over. He came in and everyone was wary of the outsider, and he had a strict regimen of conditioning that made a bunch of players quit. There are parallels, and I am excited about the new era. So August 30th can't come soon enough! Bring on Utah!!!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

#24 - No Idea What's Going On Here

...but it looks like fun!

#23 - Wasn't the Food at the Wedding Awesome?

#22 - Arcade Fire on SNL

So, the Arcade Fire is one of my favorite bands, and "Intervention" is not only my favorite song by them, but also maybe my favorite song ever. This weekend, the replay of SNL was the one where they perform the song, and I have to go on record - it might be my favorite performance of all time. (I would link to it, but it isn't on hulu or youtube.) Really, a couple of bars in and my eyes welled up a little. Arcade Fire is the only band that can produce this emotion out of me consistently.

Once, when we went to a Cowboy Junkies concert, someone in the crowd yelled out "Sweet Jane". Margo explained that they don't perform the song anymore because they have played it so much so often that it lost that initial meaning that it had for the band. I always wondered that about musicians - can you play one of your hits so many times that it loses that fire and emotion that it had the first time it was written? Does Eric Clapton still cry every time he plays "Tears in Heaven"? Was Rage Against the Machine still pissed the 8000 time they played "Freedom"?

But the SNL performance is great to me because it was before the album even came out. Win Butler hadn't had that chance to play "Intervention" so many times that he didn't still get pissed off so bad when he plays it. *Quick side note here - the song gets me all riled up too. And I don't know why - I don't fully understand the lyrics. I like to think they are anti-war, anti-Bush, against the hypocrisy of going to war for religion, etc. But, you can see the anger on his face as he starts the song, and the song is really beautiful, and you can just feel the emotion involved while they play the song.

The end of the performance on SNL though - Butler fully breaks a string on his guitar, and he is so agitated that he just rips the other strings off his guitar before slamming it into the ground. I remember when it first came out, that people called it a poser move and all, but really, when I watch it, I just think he is so angry by the song and the music that it is all he can do. So I can't really say anything bad about it.

Now, I know that they aren't the favorite band of everyone who reads this blog, but I just had to go on record - the performance moved me so much the other night that I just had to reaffirm my love for those guys. To see a band I love so much, playing such an emotional song so early on in the life of the song - good stuff.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

#21 - Bachelor Party

So, I went to a bachelor party on Friday night. The next day, Carrie wants to know all the good stories and all that. Here's the thing - I just think most of the people I know are too old to be too wild anymore. No real stories to tell, but I did have a really great time. My favorite story involves being at a strip club and going to the bar and ordering 2 Coronas and a Beam and coke, and the bartender saying, "That'll be $25." Dude!

I think that it was funny that there was such a standard bunch of guys there. We had the bachelor, the wild guy (he told stories of 2 guys with machine guns at a club in Mexico), the really good looking guy, the newlywed (me!), the guy who openly hates everyone but somehow in a likable way, the guy who sees the whole thing as ironic, and the guy who kept telling stories about his kid. I only knew half the guys, but it was still a fun time. We stayed at the Renaissance Center Marriott, went to some pizza place in Greektown, then a bar called Jacoby's where there were Jagermeister reps handing out schwag, then the strip club where a round of drinks and a couple of more beers for me almost cleaned out my bank account (dude!), then Greektown casino, where I put $10 on 11 and $10 on 21, only to have 2 come up. Note to self - only go to the casinos with Cullen.

Really though, it just reminded me of my own bachelor party weekend. The homeless guy who stepped out into traffic to stop cars for us so that we could cross the street, the hockey game with free food and drinks in the box seats, my singing the entirety of "Don't Stop Believin'" on Carrie's voicemail, Cullen's losing both his wedding ring and some chucks, the Memphis/MSU game and people throwing stuff at our table, Frank standing on a table (completely sober too), American Psycho, and other stuff I don't want to mention. Really - I think that going forward, Carrie and I should not only celebrate our wedding anniversary, but also we should celebrate the anniversary of our bachelor/bachelorette parties. Cullen and Chip - next year, the last weekend in March - get plane tickets now. Bring Jay and Di.

Friday, July 25, 2008

#20 - The Library

Anyone who knows me well or has even just been over to my apartment knows that I am a collector. I have way too many books, DVDs, CDs, bottles of wine, baseball cards, kitchen gadgets, etc. This explains most of the balances that I might have on any credit cards. It is a habit that I have been able to beat most of the time, due to the fact that we don't have as much money to spend on stuff like that. That, and I made myself aware of the whole psychology of buying things to make you feel better, and I came to terms with that.

Now, if I want a CD, I usually try to obtain it in an mp3 format rather than buying the whole CD, unless it is a band that I really like and want to support. I don't but as many DVDs anymore, only because I realized that I rarely watch the ones I do own, and many of my favorite TV shows are available in syndication or online. Baseball cards - well, I just don't have the patience or the disposable income that I used to have. Kitchen gadgets - people bought us enough of those for the wedding (except for the 10 inch chef's knife, which really would just be superfluous anyway). As for the wines, well, our collection is dwindling a little bit because we are starting to drink some of the ones that we have been cellaring.

That just leaves books as my biggest vice in terms of unnecessary money spent for something to sit around the apartment and collect dust. It doesn't help that I have a ridiculous amount of books from grad school already, but any time I want a book I usually just went to Borders. And why not? We live in the town that invented Borders, and then they put one about 200 yards from my front door. We get coupons weekly via email. Buying too many books isn't a new thing either - when I was younger, I had a quest to get all the Hardy Boys books. When I was in elementary school, I even started to catalog the books I owned in a card catalog type system, because I was a sad lonely nerd.

In the same way that the internet has halted my CD and DVD buying ways, the library card we got a couple of months back has done the same for my book purchasing. It is awesome - especially for some crappy Dean Koontz books that I can read in a week, I can just check them out and return them. They even have DVDs at the library, but I haven't made it that far yet. But it is all free, it is something that has been there forever, and I took advantage when I was at the university, but I just didn't anymore. It is so simple that it is stupid that it took me this long to get the library card.

Here is my one problem with the library, and I don't mean the creepy-ass people who go to the library - I sort of, in a really strange way, fetishize the books. For instance, I never crack the spine, and try not to bend the corners of the cover in any way. If it is a hard cover book with a jacket, I tend to take off the jacket of the book as to not scuff or bend it. I spilled a little wine on our Wine Bible recently, and considered just buying a new one even though the copy was still completely usable. I am usually hesitant to lend out my books - it is all strange and OCD, you get the point. Well, the library books are usually pretty grungy. Like, who has sneezed on the cover of this thing? What nasty floor did it rest on? What is the fleck on dirt between these pages - is it a booger? I don't know - I try not to think about these things, but I am happy when the book I check out is newer looking.

Also, renting a book is like renting a movie, but the movie takes so much less time to watch. I have one book that I have renewed 5 times but not yet returned because I am not reading it cover to cover. It is more of a reference style book on wines with a bunch of essays. Normally, having a set amount of time to read a book would bother me, but now you can renew your books online without ever having to go up to the library. The whole system is perfect. I mean, except for the germy covers.

Quick note on this - we were in Meijer about a month before we got the library card, and I put a copy of Michael Crichton's Next in the basket. Carrie made the point that it was the type of book I should just get a library card and check out, so I put the book back. Well, when we got the card, the first book I checked out was Next, and after I read about a third of it, I realized that the book was terrible. Like, something happened involving some parrot talking to a woman followed up by some guy rescuing a money-man hybrid made from his own DNA that they started to dress up like a kid. No seriously, it was that bad. And I usually like the Crichton, but this was terrible. I am glad I kept the $8 that day at Meijer.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

#19 - Nice Rack

Seriously - MINUTES after we are wed, you can already tell what I am thinking. In my defense, at least I was checking out my own wife and no one else. Also, I mean, we never had sex before marriage - please. (Hi Jerry and Jan!)

Notice that Gerald sees what I am doing here, but he can't say anything. I finally married her!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

#18 - Coldplay is Not Gay

So, I am here to reclaim Coldplay. When The 40 Year Old Virgin came out, there was a scene where Seth Rogan says to Paul Rudd, "You know how I know you're gay? You like Coldplay." At the time, there was an audible groan in the theater - all the guys liked Coldplay, but suddenly it was something "gay", less manly. Coldplay is still popular and sells tons of albums and all, but it is different now.

I think this is probably what happened to men and quiche back in the 80s. Suddenly, something was stigmatized as having a quality that was somehow emasculating, so it was to be shunned by men. Coldplay, well, it was the same way after that movie came out. We all kinda liked "Yellow", then we liked "In My Place", loved "Clocks" and then were moved by the video for "The Scientist". But we couldn't really mention it because of the stigma. We listened to Clocks when it was everywhere, but claimed that we liked it somehow ironically, like it was Barry Manilow, or Journey or something. It is hard to explain - Journey rocks and all, but there is something undeniably cheesy about it. I think that has happened to Coldplay, instead of just saying that their music is really good. (OK - I actually would love to make the same argument about Journey! They are awesome, and not in some camp, cheesy, ironic way! Shut up.)

The last album started off great - Speed of Sound is maybe my favorite song by them. It is quality stuff, even if they have started this genre of music where bands use things like cymbals, really high notes on the synthesizer, or strings in order to sound "big". But the rest of the album was lacking somewhat, except for Fix You. But the new album - I have only heard this new song about the revolutions and the kinds and Jerusalem bells ringing, but I love it, and I don't want to be ashamed anymore. (Seriously - the album cover is Delacroix's Liberty Leading the People. I knew that without having to look it up - I have 2 degrees on stuff like that. It is like they are actively trying to get me to like them at this point.) I was really feeling that I could come forward and not call them a guilty pleasure or anything, and just say that I like them with no repercussions.

Then I see this preview for Bones (love that show, btw), and they bring up the whole Coldplay is gay joke again! Seriously - I have gay friends, and Coldplay is not a large part of their culture. I would guess that similar percentages of gay and straight males are fans of the band. I know dude named his daughter Apple or something, but still. Coldplay is not gay. Guys - it is cool. You can listen to Coldplay, and people shouldn't question your sexuality. If you want to call us gay, do it because I call my sister after Friday Night Lights to discuss Tim Riggins, or because my best man has a guy crush on Justin Timberlake, or because one of my other groomsmen liked Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, not because we like Coldplay!

#17 - Sports Pain

So this week the ESPYs were on ESPN, hosted by Justin Timberlake. He actually did a pretty good job, but really, all the show did was to open up some old wounds for me. It is crazy to think, but the last 12 months have seen 2 of the worst defeats I have ever had as a sports fan. This doesn't even include the Super Bowl! Really - the Super Bowl this year - I mean, I know that apparently we all see the Patriots now as the big bad guys, even though I never got the memo, and we are supposed to root against them. But to me, they were led by a Michigan QB and a Marshall WR. How can I hate that? Plus, it would have been the only time ever that a team has gone undefeated - we didn't get that either. Very disappointing. But not as bad as the other 2 losses.

Having TLake host the show was nice because I was able to live vicariously through his pain about the Memphis loss to Kansas. Seriously - when that game happened, Frank was over here watching it, after when we lost and Frank left, I closed the front door, went into the computer room and closed that door, locked it, and just sat there. It was too much - our team came as close to winning it all as possible, and fell just short. It reminded me of the Titans in the Super Bowl - so close! But really, it just all sucked, and who knows when we will get back. But still - it felt nice to see TLake ripping on Kansas and voicing our disappointment in the opening monologue.

But then, the first award of the evening - seriously, it was for the biggest upset. Suddenly, there is the Big House, Michigan, Appy State, yadda yadda, all on screen. I mean, it still pisses me off. It was the opposite of the Memphis game - imagine waiting all year long, after your team came so close to going undefeated last season, to see them try again for a national championship, and then to lose it ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE SEASON!! When it was over, I went into the bedroom and just laid back on the bed and stared at the ceiling. Carrie came in and rubbed my arm because she knew it was bad, but I just couldn't explain it. It was all over, just like that. Luckily, Tiffany was in town visiting, so it wasn't the worst day of my life or anything, but still. I have waited since that day for the new season to start - this time I don't have the same expectations, but still.

So, the ESPYs kind of sucked because I had to relive those crappy games. At least I will always have the Red Wings!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

#15 - 5 Foot Radius

OK, this photo still makes me nervous, even though nothing was spilled. I am happy that we got a photo of Carrie with Tiffany and all, but that red wine is just too close to the dress - I still cringe when I look at it! Like, someone is going to come and accidentally bump into Tiffany's arm!

There was supposed to be a 5 foot radius around Carrie at all times where no one had any red wine. Then again, it isn't like she is going to wear that dress again, I hope...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

#14 - Dirty Sanchez?

#13 - Should I look at the camera on the way out?

#12 - Weekend Wine Game

OK, I have been slacking this week. I want to tell you guys about this weekend's wine game, but really it is just an excuse to post this picture of Carrie. (The wine game - where I pour the wine and Carrie has to guess what wine it is.)

The first wine we had was an Alsatian Pinot Gris, because it is our favorite style of wine at this point. Surprisingly, it only got an 82 from WS, because it wasn't that bad. Carrie thought about it, and nailed it. Very impressive.

Wine #2 was a bottle of Italian Pinot Grigio that we already had, that Carrie bought because she swears that we had it and loved it when we had it before. We actually opened both wines at the same time - we drank the Alsatian first because we actually liked it. This one - not so much. Probably a different vintage or she just had the name of the wine wrong. But, the very first thing she said when she had it was, "well this isn't the Italian". So she was 1 for 2 at this point.

Third bottle - red, Bordeaux. The 2005 Chateau du Moulin Rouge. It was just so so, but it was a 2005, and it rang up about $5 less than the price, so I felt good about it. Carrie - totally guessed that it was a Bordeaux. 2 for 3!

Last bottle - please keep in mind that this was from about 6:00 in the evening until 3:00 in the morning. We are bad, but not that bad. Well, I grabbed the newest Seghesio Zinfandel, 2006 maybe? Carrie thought it was the Thorn Clarke. So kind of close.

But still - 2 for 4! She is back in the game! Also - that is maybe my favorite picture of Carrie ever.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

#9 DragonForce

Ok, so in case you haven't ever heard this song or seen the video, HERE. Apparently this song is the expert level of Guitar Hero 2 or something. But still, please take 5 minutes to enjoy, and let me talk about it.

OK - had this song come out in 1991, it would TO THIS DAY be the greatest song that has ever happened. I think now that if my mom were to hear this song right now, she would insist that I used to play this every time she drove carpool and that Jim and I used to try to play this on guitar. All of my high school friends would meet every year and have a party to commemorate the first time we heard this song. It would have been the #1 song on Dial MTV for more weeks than Metallica's One and Bon Jovi's Living on a Prayer combined. George Bush Sr. would have been elected to a second term based solely on the fact that it came out during his presidency. Peace in the Middle East - you get the point.

Instead, it comes out some 15 years after when it would have worked. But still, so much to love about this song and video. First of all, the lyrics. It seems like a poem that someone wrote during smoke breaks at a Dungeons and Dragons tournament taking place at a Renaissance Fair. Really - the guys from Iron Maiden heard this song and were like, how come we never wrote this?

Also, the guys in the band - the lead singer totally looks like Weird Al. Then, the Asian guitar player - his lack of emotion and soul makes Paul Gilbert blush. But his hair! Holy crap, his hair! It goes to his waist and it looks like it is so soft that it would make silk feel like sandpaper by comparison. It makes Crystal Gayle want to move somewhere more humid just so she can keep up. Then, the other guitarist, who obviously isn't as fast as the hair guitar - he could easily be the lead guitarist for any other band, but has to play second fiddle to Speedy McGee. It has driven him to drink!

That leads us into the guitar solo. What can I say? Please, if you started to watch it and stopped, go back to 3:22 of the video and just enjoy. Every metal band should be forced to go to a 2 guitar system like this - bring in the one guy to spell the other. I am convinced that this video led to most NFL teams going to a 2 running back system in their offense. Genius. I mean, the hair guitar guy - he is totally coming at the fretboard from the top down at times when he doesn't have to, just to show off. He isn't even hitting every note, but at that speed, who cares? When he needs a break, cool beer drinking second guy comes in. I hope first round pick Rashard Mendenhall is able to work this well with Willie Parker in Pittsburgh next season. Plus, the way they just single out the guitarists during the solo with closeups of their hands - brilliant. I really feel like I am watching something special here.

A couple of "cool" moments to watch for during the video - close up of Weird Al's eyes at the beginning, which is just goofy; when hair guitar picks up his guitar with the whammy bar, a la Steve Vai; do a shot every time someone wipes the hair out of their face - just try it; then all the random slow-motion clips, the lighting, the "directing" including random camera shakes when the song is kicking ass. Seriously - are they joking? Is this parody or some sort of satire even?

So yeah, this is totally a guilty pleasure for me. Really, the whole thing is surreal - is this really happening? Did this video really come out in 2006? It isn't even like The Darkness - there is no sign that this band is in on the joke. Which makes it more awesome.

Sometimes I think that corporations control music, and that sometimes we go away from trends in music prematurely just to fit some sort of agenda or something. For instance, was anyone really ready for grunge to end? Did the grunge era even last 5 full years? But then think - how many of the top 50 songs of your lifetime come from the grunge era? Was music really only that good for 5 years, or did economic prosperity of the 90s lead us away from the angst which defined grunge? Come back, grunge!!!!

Then there is this song - were we really ready for hair bands to go away completely? I mean, I see Sebastian Bach on Gilmore Girls, Brett Michaels has his own TV show, CC Deville is on the Surreal Life - it didn't need to go away. Sometimes, we need a band to come along to show us that we still love this crap - that is what this video is for me. Hair bands rule!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

#8 - Raccoon Showdown

So, tonight I am taking out the garbage in order to get the apartment all clean for when Carrie gets home tomorrow. Sadly, we are still throwing out boxes from the big wedding extravaganza. Plus, I have 3 full bags of trash to throw out. See, this goes back to apartment living - the trashcan is a little bit of a walk, so we usually make sure we have a full load before we take out the trash. Kind of the same way that we get the mail every other day, because that is a long walk to make, and if you go get the mail and it is just some junk mail flyer from that State Farm guy again, well it just pisses you off. That, and we are just lazy, lazy people.

Back to the story - I grab a couple of boxes and go to the dumpsters. Normally, I go to the second one because the first one fills up quickly. However, tonight it was like whatever, I just opened the top and threw the boxes in the closest one and went back for part 2. Once I get back into the apartment, I just decide to take the other boxes and all 3 trash bags, because I don't want to make 2 more trips (the lazy thing again). So, I am walking out to the trash with 3 bags in my left hand, and 3 or 4 boxes stacked up in both hands. The long walk start to irritate me, because it is all getting heavier, so I just have my head down, trying to ignore the strain.

Well, I look up at the dumpster, and suddenly the hood pops up and a pair of eyes is staring at me. It comes out about halfway, and I was like, oh crap - it's a raccoon. I was only about 10 feet away, so I immediately retreated to get some sort of distance. But I'll be damned if I am going to take all this trash back up to the apartment. I decided to wait until he left - I mean, animals will run away, right? Squirrels do it, why not raccoons? But he just stares at me, halfway in and out of the dumpster. It occurs to me - this sucker was more than likely in there just a second ago when I threw away those other boxes. Great - I will never ever be able to throw stuff away in that dumpster without thinking that I will be viciously attacked the moment I open the hood.

Then another thought occurs to me - I have absolutely no idea if raccoons will attack humans. Am I really in danger right now of that thing charging me? Is this one of those things where I shouldn't be making eye contact? We really are having a staring contest right now, should I be running instead? I am sure raccoons will protect themselves if provoked, so I don't want to provoke. Luckily, I have some distance to react just in case he does decide to charge me or anything. (I did set the trash down, btw.) Then, he crawls out of the dumpster (hopefully no one is offended by my assumption that it was a male raccoon - it could have been female, whatever) and turns and climbs up the top of the dumpster. That is when I realize that this frickin' thing has to weigh 30 pounds at least. Dude was huge. Then, he just sits down on the top of the dumpster, and turns and just stares at me again. I guess he was just protecting himself, but the act of sitting on top and staring at me was like, "your move, punk." So I grabbed a couple of rocks, thinking that maybe I can throw them in his general direction and scare him off. Seriously - I really just want to throw away the trash, I'm not looking for a trip to the emergency room for a rabies shot or anything.

Then he gets up and walks to the back of the dumpster, jumps to the fence, and jumps down behind the two dumpsters. Well played - I have no idea where he is, and I'll be damned if I am gonna walk up if I can't see him. I walk around to see if he is coming out the other side, then I walk back to where I had been standing - and he is standing there in front of the dumpster, a little bit closer than before, just staring at me! I was like, I'm gonna back up some more now. Then - he left. Finally. But dude - that thing in motion - that was a ginormous raccoon. He slowly made his way across the far sidewalk, and I am thinking, what if someone walks out of their apartment right now and sees this thing? That would make me jump 10 feet off of Beale if I opened the door to walk to my car and saw that thing crossing my path.

But, he is gone now - I can finally complete the simple task of throwing out the trash...when I heard some rattling coming from inside the dumpster! WTF? It was daylight! Why all the raccoons? I throw one of the rocks and hit the dumpster - will the rattle make the new raccoon run off? Apparently not. So I say to hell with it, and walk all the way over to the other dumpsters at our apartment complex, the ones that are a ways away. You know, over by all the birds that hate me and are swarming in mass numbers tonight...

Post script - after I made it back, I decided to go see if the other raccoon ever made an appearance. I picked up a rock , just in case - again, trying to avoid the rabies at this point. But she was there in the parking lot, just as plain as day (this one can be a she). She was not nearly as big as the first dude, but still.

From now on, the simple task of taking out the trash will come with some form of trepidation on my part. Great. Hopefully no nightmares of opening up the trash can and getting my face attacked like the movie Alien or whatever.

Wow - that was a lot of typing for such an insignificant moment in my life!