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!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

#7 - My Season Pass List

Just for fun, here are some of the shows on my season pass list on TiVo that you might be surprised that I watch, or ones that you should be watching too. (Yes, I know that I need to rent The Wire, BSG, and Mad Men).

Supernatural - Yes, I love Sam and Dean. Not necessarily a show that everyone would enjoy, but I have it in my top 10 on TiVo. And now you know.
Reaper - Just getting Carrie into this show. I mean, it's not Lost or anything, but it is fun, and the cast is great. Also, the chick on the show is way too hot to be working at Lowe's.
Bones - Seriously, I won't be happy until Booth and Brennan end up together. The cast is great here as well. I say to give it a chance, although they got rid of one of the best cast members last season for no real reason.
Subterranean - MTV2 show that makes me feel like I am somewhat caught up on the indie music scene. Hey - this is where I found Band of Horses, Silversun Pickups, Peter Bjorn and John, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles - Yeah, everyone should put this on their season pass list for the fall. Really awesome show, adds a lot to the Terminator fiction. The chicks are hot too.
The Daily Show/Colbert Report - There is no reason why everyone doesn't watch these shows. TDS is still better, but Colbert is crazier.
Gossip Girl - Really one of the best shows that you're not watching. Cullen's got my back here - it isn't a chick show. I think TWOP graded most of the episodes as an A+.
Family Guy/American Dad - Yeah, I still love this stuff. It isn't for everybody.
Top Chef - Seriously, if you enjoy fancy food in the least, you should watch this show. Period. It is the best show out there for foodies like myself.
Saturday Night Live - OK, we still tape this show and watch it drunk. It has about 15 good minutes a month, but it is still fun. If it is funny, it will be on the next day. If it is a really bad sketch, you can just fast forward. Too many repeats during the season though.
Nova/Frontline - PBS bitches. Frontline is the last bastion of great journalism, and Nova is just fun for the science geek in me. You can cherry pick which ones you want to watch - really, Nova had like a 3 week thing on the history of ice this year. I mean, it was great, but really - ice. One week it can be a so-so history of fireworks, but then the next it can be an enthralling story of people trapped on Mt. Everest, or an incredible telling of the battle to teach evolution in public schools. (Whoops - I guess you Memphis folk couldn't have watched that one if you wanted to.)
30 Days - Still a good show, and we pause it to discuss many times when we watch it. Good stuff if you want more than just mindless entertainment.
Psych - I love this show, but probably not for everyone. Tiffany and Mark are literally the only other people I know who watch this show.
South Park - It disgusts me that you guys don't still watch this show. The quality never dipped.
Survivor - Still awesome, though not always as good as season 1. But sometimes it is even better.
Eli Stone - Again, we love the cast and would recommend the show. Although, the chick he will end up with is super annoying.
Chuck - Please watch this show. Adam Baldwin, bitches.

The sad part about this list is that it isn't even half of our season pass list. Then again, we do have our own shows that we don't watch together - notice I left The Real World, Beauty and the Geek, and Lipstick Jungle off this list - the shows on here are ones that I watch. I am always open to suggestions though.

#6 - Life on Mars

This fall, one of the new TV shows will be Life on Mars, which is a remake of a British TV series. It is about a guy who is a cop and gets hit by a car and wakes up in 1973, and you don't know if it is a dream that he is having while in a coma, if he has really gone back in time, or if he is crazy and has been in 1973 the whole time. British shows have been remade into US shows before, with The Office for instance. This one is unique for me because I actually watched the British version before it was remade. Really, Life on Mars and MI-5 are about the only two British shows that I have ever watched around the time they originally aired. But it makes me feel cool, especially because I absolutely loved the show. However, that is what worries me too.

See, when The Office had its American version, I hadn't seen an episode of the British version (and still haven't!), so I was able to judge the US version on its own merits. I read a lot about how it wasn't as good as the original - Steve Carell was no Ricky Gervais, and the British version had a finite number of episodes to tell their story. I was ready to defend the US version though - I thought it was great, and I loved the cast.

This time, I am worried that I will be one of those people who don't judge the show on its own merits, because I am married to the British version. Really, I can't imagine falling in love with the cast and the story the way I did with the British show - the guy who played the lead character Sam Tyler was awesome, as was the guy who played Gene Hunt. The chemistry was just good stuff, everyone got along. The female lead was cute but not drop dead gorgeous or anything. Plus, for some reason on the BBC, they can just say "shit" whenever they want and not get bleeped. There was even nudity!

With the American version, I am already wary of the guy playing the lead. The guy who plays Hunt seems like a good casting decision, but the female lead looks to be really hot, which for the first time ever seems like a negative to me. Like, that was part of her appeal was that she looked normal, not "Hollywood". Then, Christopher Moltisanti was just added to the cast. Now, that almost seems to work for the character he is playing, but it is someone I will be familiar with, which just makes me seem apprehensive.

Also, the British version had 16 episodes. Total. It was enough time for the characters to develop their awesome chemistry, but also just enough time to tell the story. The last 2 episodes wrapped up the series perfectly. It was all a neat package, and I worry that the US version will lack that neatness. I am trying to go into it without any preconceived notions. But it will be difficult - like hearing a remake of a song, you always compare it to the original.

Then again, the advantage of being on American TV will be that there will be potentially SO many episodes. When Life on Mars ended, I really wanted more. I wanted to see more of DCI Tyler and the "Guv" and Annie and the whole crew. I liked the locations - 1973 just seemed so real in Manchester. I hope the US version will pull it off - we'll see. It is going on the TiVo season pass list for sure. Just don't be surprised if I am that annoying guy who says that the original was much better.

PS - I know I should watch the British Office, as well as Torchwood and Dr. Who and all. Maybe down the line.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

#5 - Waitmares

So, the holiday weekend, along with Carrie leaving for Memphis, has caused me to fall behind on my blog post goal for July. But fear not - I am home alone for the next few days, so I will get right on track after a short post tonight.

The other night, I had a waitmare. For those of you who have never waited tables, a waitmare is when you have a nightmare about your job as a server. In this one for instance, I kept getting sat, and the ice machine was out of ice. This dream took place at some dreamland-modified version of Brooklyn Bridge, which is weird since I haven't worked there since the 90s. However, at one point, I turned around and my section was entirely sat, which was somewhere between 15-20 tables. This was the breaking point in the dream where I stopped caring and woke myself up. It is weird - now that I don't wait tables anymore, I have trained myself to get out of those dreams when I have them. I just thought it was weird that I had a waitmare after 5 years off from waiting tables.

The only other recurring nightmare I have involves college, and finding out that I have a final exam in a class that I have been skipping all semester because I thought I dropped it. Almost inevitably, the class is a math class, which is weird since I majored in and went to grad school for a completely different subject. I haven't trained myself to wake up from these yet, although I am working on it. Apparently, when you are reading in a dream, you only see words as you read them or something weird - I was able to wake myself from a dream recently where I realized that the book/page I was reading was really blank, and I could just make up what I would read next.

It is nice to not have a stressful job that causes me nightmares right now. However, I am sure that there will be a whole new realm of nightmares that comes with having kids that I have to look forward to in a few years. Bad dreams are few and far between for me right now, so I need to enjoy my sleep right now, while I can. Especially the awesome dreams that are so complex that it makes me think that one day I could write an awesome book.

Speaking of dreams, I am off to have some right now! Talk to you soon!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

#4 - Last Night's Wines

So, last night we didn't really pair food and wine, but we kinda did. We had burgers and hot dogs, with some mac and cheese and some baked beans. (Quick note - Carrie made the beans in our dutch oven, which would coincidentally lead to more dutch ovens later.) The book called for zins, cabs, and chardonnay overall for the dishes we chose. We also had tomatoes and cheese, since heirlooms are starting to arrive on store shelves finally. One of the cheeses we had was a cheese you can grill that is not haloumi - I don't know exactly how to spell what we had, because it has 3 "u"s, and 2 of them are back to back. But, a rundown of the wines we had since they weren't fancy, just wines you can probably find at the store now:

2005 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay Indian Wells - this was $15 and got a 90 from Spectator. We really enjoyed it - very bright, balanced. I believe the tasting note involved "sweet vanilla oak", my old nickname. Chances are that the 2005 is harder to find, but it has a pretty good track record if you can only find the 2006 or even the 2007. Especially at the price.

2007 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay Sonoma - Well, we did not go to St. Jean when we went to Sonoma last year, but it has always been a favorite because we love their Fume Blancs. I have always wanted to try the Chardonnay, just because. I found it for $14, but then saw it Meijer for $11. I wouldn't have liked it even if we only spent $2 on it. Yikes - it didn't even taste like a Chardonnay, and we stopped after one glass. Not one glass each, one glass combined. I can't speak for the other vintages or the reserves, which seem to score better. If you see one of those, you can try them out - the Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnays are in the $20s, and the Reserve Chards are in the $40s. I still recommend their Fume Blancs for sure.

2006 Kumeu River Village Chardonnay - This is actually a New Zealand Chardonnay, and you should buy it if you see it. We found it at Costco for $17 or so - well worth it, especially for the fact that you will probably be drinking your first NZ Chardonnay. Our tasting notes included mineral, lime, orange, maybe some lemon. It isn't overly oaky like some California Chardonnays can be. Scored a 90 from Spectator. Check it out if you can find it.

2005 Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet - We picked this up at Costco for around $20 or so, only because we went there when we were out in Sonoma last year. It was actually pretty solid. You always wonder about wines after you visit a place - you always are more complimentary when you are at the actual vineyard and someone employed by the vineyard is standing there looking at you, waiting on your response. You may convince yourself you like it when you are there, but the real test is to buy it later and give it a whirl. This is what we tried with the Simi, and it was pretty solid for sure - it doesn't have a good track record on Spectator or anything, and you can probably do better for the cost. I probably wouldn't recommend it, but if you have a chance to have a glass, why not?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

#3 - Tesla, Signs

OK - this is a fascinating song for several reasons to me, and a completely inane topic. But here goes.

First of all, this is a remake. Initially it was performed in the 70s by a Canadian band called the Five Man Electric Band. They were obviously the worst kind of hippies, based on the lyrics of the song. Here is my thing - I know the 60s and 70s were all about protest and all, but someone in the band was bothered enough by the presence of like, roadsigns and billboards enough to write a song about it. Seriously - during the height of Vietnam and the civil rights movements. I have to think that the conversation went like this in the Five Man Electric Band:
1 - Hey - I wrote a new song!
2 - What is it about?
3 - Is it another Vietnam protest song?
1- Nope.
4 - Is it about the unfortunate treatment of blacks in not only Canada but the US?
5 - Oh, I know - we are Canadian, so it must be about French people seceding - good God I hate those frog bastards.
1 - Nope. This song is about how much I hate Signs!
2 - The terrible movie that won't come out for another 30 years?
1 - NO! Like, street signs and shit.
3 - Really? Like, 400 soldiers died in a pointless war yesterday.
1 - Yeah, but there are enough songs about that. I just hate signs!
5 - Let's hear it!
1 - (plays song)
2 - That could work
5 - Maybe 20 years from now, some other band will make this song famous.
4 - I mean yeah, we are Canadian, what do we know?

Also, the lyrics are somewhat suspect because, well, let's take a look.

(First of all, it is a song about how some dude is pissed off at signs enough to write a song about it.)
First verse - dude totally wears a hat to a job interview and gets hired. Then, the fact that Tesla is associating their long hair with that of hippies of the 60s/70s. I mean, the long hair of that era was counterculture in response to buzz cuts and the 50s and such. Hippies did drugs and had sex like bands in the hair band era, but that is about all they have in common. Hair bands were somehow hyper-masculine by dressing up like women. That is why Tesla has long hair - to get chicks, do drugs, and have sex. Hippies were seen as less masculine because of their long hair. The association of hair bands with hippies always bothered me.

But I get the point here, don't judge a book by its cover. Yadda yadda.

Second verse - okay, I agree here that it is silly that someone thinks they can just shoot you if you happen to walk along and get pushed off the sidewalk into their yard. It doesn't make murder legal just because you have it on a sign.

Bridge - Heaven forbid that any exclusive club exists that requires a membership. Stupid hippies.

Last verse - Here is what bothers me. They are attacking signs in this song, then mention that a church has a sign that says "everybody welcome, come in, kneel down and pray." Assholes. Then he makes a sign for God at the end - isn't the whole point of the song to rail against signs? I get it - God doesn't care about money. The church is just trying to make some money for some new drywall or something! Get over yourself, hippie!

Ha - I told you I would do some inane posts!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

#2 - The Birds

At our apartment complex, our mailbox is about 50 feet away from our actual apartment, so when I get home from work I just walk over and get the mail. Otherwise, if I come in the house and make myself comfortable, chances are that I won't go back to get the mail. Plus, right now checking the mail is critical for us because we are anxiously awaiting our wedding photos so that we can relive the day finally. Seriously - we appreciate all the photos that everyone has sent us, but we didn't pay any of y'alls. We want what we spent the big bucks on!!!

Well, our apartment complex has covered parking, and within the covering, there are many many birds' nests. This is normally fun, because we have some birds who normally nest near our car that we see every year. It is cool because we just basically stare at each other when I get out of the car, like we have some understanding that I won't hurt it if it won't like poop on our hood or anything.

However, the covering for the parking between our spot and the mailbox is populated by some very aggressive birds. When I go check the mail everyday, they, well, dive bomb at me. I swear, one of them got within two feet of my head this week. It has gotten to the point where I was intimidated enough to swing my mail at them today. I mean, seriously - I know that they are acting on instinct and all since I pose a threat in theory, but it really pisses me off. Like, I wish I had a BB gun. I am thinking of taking a tennis racket to the mailbox with me so that I can connect. I have worked all my life to look and act in a respectable manner, and appear non-threatening at all times. I feel personally offended that the birds think that I am after their babies.

Well, tonight I had enough. I actually went and knocked one of the nests down and most of the eggs broke. OK, not really, I'm just kidding - but I did go after the birds who were dive bombing me by swinging the bag I had (which had all of our thank-you notes, btw), and then I stood there in a way that I wanted them to come after me. Seriously, it actually raises my blood pressure, and I don't know why. I think it is an affront to my character that they would assume that I would actually try to kill their kids. It is totally irrational, and it really didn't piss me off at first, but now I try to think of new ways to walk to the mailbox so that they won't attack me. To anyone who saw me today, I probably looked like the biggest idiot, swinging a bag at birds. And justifiably so.

And it isn't like they are going to ever just fly directly into my face and make contact or anything - it is just an aggressive maneuver designed to scare me off. Sometimes I think, maybe I really should go after their eggs or something, just so they would feel justified in their aggressive behavior going forward. However, Mom pointed out that doing so would basically be the same as saying, "Stop crying, or I will really give you something to cry about!"

I need to figure out what species I am dealing with here. Because if these are mockingbirds, then Harper Lee was WAYYYYY off.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

#1 - Cube Raiding

Sadly, on Monday, the guy in the cube next to me was fired. I won't say who I work for or who the guy was, because there is probably some legal ramifications if I do. But, he had worked there for 3 years, and was probably the hardest worker in the office. He makes at least twice as many calls as I do on a daily basis, and 3 times as many calls as our top reps. (I'm in sales.)

Well, needless to say, we were all a little shook up and took a day to talk about it, about how delicately our jobs hang if we aren't hitting our numbers, about how much it sucks since this guy has 2 kids and the job situation in Michigan is less than stellar. Then today, one of the people in charge went into his vacated cube and threw away everything on the walls and in his desk drawers. Then, over the course of the rest of the day, it happened - if you have ever had an office job, you know what I am talking about here. It was a cube raid - people going in to see if his computer speakers were bigger and better than theirs so that they can upgrade, get his stapler and/or tape dispenser if they need one. One coworker was taking the plastic paper/file holder things off his desk. It was crazy. I think someone even took his business cards.

I have a confession to make - I used to be the guy who would lead this charge. I am an office supply whore. I used to have 4 staplers at my desk until I brought 2 of them home. I mean, until I put 2 of them back in the supply closet. But yes, I have endless supplies of push pins, staples, printer paper (don't ask), an extra 4 notepads just in case I run out, one of every color dry erase marker and an eraser, so many of those plastic things you are supposed to keep papers in that 2 of them don't even have anything in them, ball point pens, pens that click, magnets on my file cabinet - I could probably go on. I even have about 2 copies of every book we sell for some reason.

So I found myself surprised today that I didn't partake in the raid. Maybe it is a fear for my job, maybe I have stopped caring, maybe it is because he was in the cube next to me. But I couldn't do it today. I think it is because I just have too much stuff in my cube. Especially since all I do all day is look at the internet.