September 30, 2004

I'd Like To Thank...

Not tooting my own horn or anything but guess who just made it as Empress' most recent Man of the Blogosphere. Me! Thank you Empress! I'm truly honored.

Posted by Chris at 10:17 AM | Comments (31)

Compensation

As you know, I stop at Dunkin Donuts every morning for breakfast and coffee. Now, I generally see the same folks picking up breakfast every morning and I invariably see the same cars. Most mornings, I see this guy driving a huge black pickup with tinted windows - like, the kind of pickup tough workmen types drive. The kind you can hear coming from a mile away. The kind you can drive up the side of a mountain and build shit with. The kind that you can load a few tons of dirt in and still have enough torque to haul your house off its foundation. But this morning? This morning was different because I finally saw the driver. Imagine my surprise when, emerging from the driver's side, dropping to the ground as if from a great height, I found that the driver was tiny. Seriously tiny. Mini Truck Man had to be under 5 feet tall. Way under. Think he's compensating for something?

Posted by Chris at 9:10 AM | Comments (25)

September 29, 2004

Audioblog: I See Dumb People

Yes, another encounter with the bizarre at Best Buy. Think somebody's trying to tell me something?

Posted by Chris at 3:37 PM | Comments (12)

The Most Horrible Song I Own

You know how I've mentioned I have some bad stuff in my CD collection? Yeah. Well, I think I found the worst. I mean, really. The. Worst. Ever. So bad, in fact, that I had to rip a copy of the song and share it with you all. It'll be good for a laugh this morning - trust me.

Do you remember Emerson Lake and Palmer? Keith Emerson used to set his keyboards on fire and play like a maniac, Carl Palmer had an 82 bazillion piece drum kit, and Greg Lake? Well, no one could quite figure him out. They released their biggest turd in 1978 and called it Love Beach from which this single entendre-laden track was taken. I mean, look at the cover, people. You know its going to be bad when you see three guys with wide collars and hairy chests under the words "love beach."

Why is this the worst thing in my collection? Even Spinal Tap couldn't have come up with worse...and remember, they were trying to suck! Hint to all you musicians out there - if you ever start writing crap like this, please sell your instruments and get a job as a bank teller or something.

Without further ado...Taste Of My Love! Please right-click and Save As. And yes, I realize the sound quality isn't great but I was going for a small file size. You certainly don't need this to sound good...you'll get the idea.

Posted by Chris at 8:11 AM | Comments (25)

September 28, 2004

Startling Tuesday Observations

Startling Observation I:
I am a freakin' CD factory over here! Yes, chances are if I owe you music, I'm working on it. I have mailing envelopes, jewel cases, extra CDs. Give me elves and I'd be good to handle Christmas this year. Now, if I was only motivated to work like this...

Startling Observation II (The Search for Observation):
In creating said CDs, specifically the set promised to Amy, I've come to realizations both good and bad. The good - even a lot of the stuff I previously thought to be complete and utter crap has some redeeming qualities. The bad - the bad stuff I've got is really really bad. Not even point-and-laugh-because-once-somebody-thought-this-was-good kinda bad. Just terrible!

Startling Observation III (The Wrath of Observation):
Bill O'Reilly called the audience of Comedy Central's Daily Show "stoned slackers." Comedy Central responded by producing demographic data which indicated its own audience was more likely to have received a four year education. Hah!

Startling Observation IV (The Undiscovered Observation):
And yes, yes I am 12.

Posted by Chris at 2:17 PM | Comments (12)

Answers (Part Two)

You kept the questions coming...here are the rest of the answers!

Monique came back and asked...
tell us about your most romantic night with the missus AND tell us the most bizarre place you've done it (you know, made the beast with 2 backs, bumped uglies, knocked boots...)
I think the first one is easy - one night early in our relationship, I had Beth over to my new apartment for dinner. I cooked and served dessert and everything. Then we just stayed up talking all night. Really, it was as simple as that. As for that second question, Monique, that's for me to know and you to find out! :-)

Manda asked...
Okay. You've read a zillion and a half books in your life. What are your top five books?
Because I've read a zillion books, that question is VERY difficult. But I'll try. These are not in order.
1. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. The description will sound like science fiction but, regardless of your feelings about the genre, I'd really encourage everyone to read this. It is sincerely one of the finest books I've ever read.
2. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor. I've said a lot about this book here. It was probably the best thing I read last year and I still find myself thinking about it a great deal.
3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. There's a reason this book is being used to teach everything from strategy to team work. Its funny - since I read this many years ago, I've read a lot of Card's stuff and I really haven't been all that impressed. If he used up all he had for this book, it was well worth it.
4. The Bridge by Iain Banks. This was my introduction to Banks and it hooked me. Sadly, he's never caught on in the US but if you can find his books, they're well worth buying. The Bridge was a truly unusual yet satisfying novel, one that I wish I'd have written. Its a tough read, at times, and is a head-trip but its such a fantastic novel.
5. This is such a tossup. I mean seriously, I've only got one place left? Can I mention 253 by Geoff Ryman, one of the most creative books ever written? How about Ellis' American Psycho which was the most disturbing thing I've ever read? Last Orders by Graham Swift, maybe? Or Magnus Mill's Restraint of Beasts? I'm going through The Book...the book in which I've written down everything I've read for the last 7 years. And I can't choose just one more!

Also, what's your favorite song? [For me, it's hard to narrow it down to one, so pick a few, if you have to.]
Oh man! These are just too hard! Some (not all or THE) favorites as of today - Aimee Mann's Invisible Ink, Secret World by Peter Gabriel, Hallelujah as performed by Jeff Buckley, Porcupine Tree's Blackest Eyes...oh, I can't take it anymore! :-)

Zenwanderer asked...
What is your favorite "guilty pleasure" movie and band that you might be embarressed to admit to your friends?
That is actually easy. My favorite guilty pleasure band is Genesis. I'm not ashamed to admit it...well...okay, I kinda am. You must realize that before they became the top 40 hit machine they were in the 80's, they were actually an incredibly talented group of musicians making some incredible music. My favorite guilty pleasure movie? Logan's Run. Its so cheesy but I love it. I watched it about a month ago, as a matter of fact.

Jon dropped by again and asked...
Ginger or Mary Ann?
Mary Ann. Ginger seemed awful high-maintenance.

Mary asked...
What kind of camera do you use? I hope to buy a new one soon and I'm looking for suggestions. The pics off my current one are usually crummy. I'm *pretty* sure the problem is that I suck at taking photographs but, hey, couldn't hurt to try a new camera, right?
Nothing wrong with that. Blame the equipment, I say! Seriously, I use two cameras - both are Sony CyberShots and I love them both. You see, some people seem to labor under the misapprehension that I'm A Photographer. Let me set the record straight here and now - I point my camera at stuff and push the little button. Thats about the extent of my talent. I'm glad you like what you see though! Anyway, Mary, try the Sonys. The only downside? Proprietary memory stick. Still? Damn fine camera.

Gypsy asked...
If you could be ANYONE famous or not, who would you be and why?
I'm not entirely sure I'm cut out for fame. I'd honestly rather just be myself.

What is your favorite ritual?
Ritual? Aside from the entirely OCD crap I manage to do, I try not to have any. I do enjoy driving home at the end of a long day. That's always nice.

Which Holiday is your favorite, and how do you celebrate it?
Hmmm...I do enjoy Halloween and we usually spend that giving candy to all the little kids in the neighborhood. I also have to admit I like Christmas. Its all about family and thats who I spend it with.

Will you EVER buy Mrs. Cactus a pet duck for her bathroom?
There's an ever-expanding list of stuff that will have to fight over room in that tub. The duck, of course, is one. Last night while we were watching Finding Nemo, my wife expressed interest in a turtle too. And I believe there's been talk of a dolphin as well. So really, that tub's getting a little crowded.

Lissa asked...
If you had the power to change a moment in your personal life and therefore change the future, what would that moment be and why?
I've watched too many episodes of Star Trek to fall for this one! Seriously, we all fuck up. We all do great things. We all fall on our asses - literally and figuratively - from time to time. But all you can really do is pick yourself up, dust off your literal or figurative ass (or both) and learn from it. Without these experiences - both good and bad - we wouldn't be who we are today.

What does it take to be your valued friend?
Nothing. Maybe that's one of the things that makes me, well, me. I believe the best in people right from the start. And I generally put my trust in everyone until proven otherwise. Yes, this is often unwise. Sure, I pay for it sometimes and get hurt and I manage to get pretty pissed off at myself for letting it happen...again...but I'd honestly rather consider everyone a friend until proven otherwise than the alternative. Close friendship has to be earned, like most things, through time, honesty and trust.

Posted by Chris at 8:14 AM | Comments (12)

September 27, 2004

Asking A Lot Of You

Have you noticed that I'm asking you to do a lot of the work lately? Yeah. Me too. I do still have original thoughts rolling around inside my head. Its just a matter of getting them out! In the mean time, consider this, which I stole (then modified) from a friend with a wonderfully redesigned site if I do say so myself.

Pick three pictures you'd like to see here. Open up the comments section and let me know what they are. These should not be difficult things - don't tell me, for instance, to take a recent shot of Jimmy Hoffa or the Holy Grail. I will post the most requested, the quirkiest or the ones that just plain amuse me the most.

This? Will buy me time while I work on the answers to the rest of those questions!

Posted by Chris at 4:18 PM | Comments (19)

Answers (Part One)

You asked and I have answered...at least some of your questions anyway. These things take time...especially when some of them are tough! But, for your reading enjoyment, I give you the first installment of answers. More to come tomorrow...

Heather asked...
So, Cactus, what species of cacti are you, anyway?
Blogus sedentaria. Once described by Audubon as ďoften lazy yet opinionated in its demeanor, blogus sedentaria can thrive in even the most hostile environs, although it seems to produce larger thorns without the requisite amount of caffeine or sugar, often times becoming one giant prick.Ē

Rachael asked...
You said that you're highly caffeinated, so what's your absolute FAVORITE caffeinated beverage??
I love caffeine. I usually get into the office by 6 or 6:30 in the morning so its vital. And nothing can ever take the place of a large cup of black coffee. All the frou-frou Starbucks specialty crap canít take the place of good, strong black coffee.

Rock Star Mommy asked...
Plant or Page?
Thatís practically impossible Ė apples to oranges and all that. But Iíll go with Plant. Page is an amazing guitarist but his output since Zeppelin hasnít been nearly as great. He remains, however, one of my true guitar heroes. Plant has continued to thrive. His latest, Dreamland, is one of the most played CDs I've bought in the last couple of years.

Muhammed Ali or Mike Tyson?
Ali. From what I can recall, he didnít remove other boxersí appendages with his teeth. Right? He floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee and didn't snack on his opponents.

Lennon or McCartney?
Lennon. He was about the music, about peace and about art. Paul, at least lately, seems to have sold out. I doubt Lennon ever would have. Although he married Yoko and I really never understood that.

Rip Taylor or Rip Torn?
Torn. Rip Taylor always freaked my ass out with that wig. Was he supposed to be funny or something?

Rambo or Rocky?
Rocky. Much better character than a ripped mercenary, I think.

The Grateful Dead or Phish?
Phish, although Iím not much of a fan of either. My wife likes The Dead. I donít understand it at all. At. All.

90210 or Melrose Place?
Gotta go old(er) school and say 90210. That said, I didnít watch much of either. Except Iím scaring myself by knowing things like ďThe Peach PitĒ.

Punky Brewster or Pippi Longstocking?
Punky! And Soleil Moon Frye or whatever the hell her name is turned out kinda hot. No, not then! Now. See?

Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss?
That might be the single toughest question Iíve ever gotten. Iím going to go with Dr. Seuss though. Loved him as a kid and still do. Not that I didnít like Shel. But I think I got more outta Dr. Seuss.

Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder?
Ok, second only in toughness to the previous question. I think Stevie is one of the more brilliant musicians of our time, although Ray had one of the best voices in soul. Iím still going to go with Stevie. Just go back and listen to Innervisions to see why.

Lord Of The Rings or Harry Potter?
Harry all the way. I was one of the masses who waited in line at midnight for the last book to be released. My wife and I were in the minority as we didnít have any kids. So we made up an elaborate story and talked loudly about our poor nephew Timmy who couldnít attend because of a vicious lobster attack. People still stared, albeit for different reasons.

Whammy bar or Wah pedal?
Wah. Although I have a special place in my heart for whammy bars, I dig my wah. And? I really like the phrase "dig my wah" although it sounds slightly dirty.

Potato chips or Goldfish?
Goldfish. Thereís really no contest. Goldfish all the way. They're like snack-crack.

Letterman or Leno?
Letterman. Leno annoys me. And heís too careful. Rarely does he go out on a limb to be funny. Letterman, on the other hand, is just wacky and has a sense of humor I appreciate. I mean, who doesn't like a bit called "Will It Float?"

Guns N' Roses or Motley Crue?
Guns Ní Roses. I bought Appetite for Destruction right after its release and was blown away. I caught their Washington DC show on the Use Your Illusion tour and I still maintain they were one of the most talented bands of their time. As for Crue, I was one of the few people who was happy when Vince Neil left. I've always had trouble with his nasally voice and liked his replacement (John Corabi, which I knew off the top of my head...aren't you impressed?) a lot better. Sadly that arrangement only lasted one album after which I really gave up on them.

Movies: Renting or Theaters?
It depends on the movie. Some things you just have to see in theaters. Other movies I can easily pass on and wait for the DVD.

Maureen asked...
Bono or The Edge?
Bono. While I like The Edge, I think heís slightly overrated as a guitarist. Bono seems like a cool guy all around.

On the Don and Mike Show- who is your fav. one on it?
Mike, actually. Talented dude.

Sledge asked...
Less filling, or tastes great?
As far as accuracy goes, Iíll go with less filling. If its less filling, chances are it doesnít taste great.

Jon asked...
You receive a secret love note from someone, complete with nude pictures (hiding her identity but showing enough to interest you) asking you to meet her somewhere for a ren-dez-vous. She tells you NOT to tell your wife.
Like the fool that men are, you tell your wife about it and she smiles and says, "Go ahead, it might be funny. I trust you."
Do you:
1) Stay home, knowing that its a female trick to test your loyalty and she probably set it all up anyway?
2) Go because its probably something she set up to be sneaky and romantic without involving a plastic cup and '70's porn, and she'll be completely heart broken if you don't do it because she's been planning it for months?

Knowing my wife as I do, I doubt it would be a setup. But Iíd stay home just to be on the safe side. Iím all for stuff that doesnít involve a cup or 70ís porn but Iíll stay away from the sketchy rendezvous (what's the plural of rendezvous, by the way? Rendezvi?).

Doulazanie asked...
Boxers, briefs or commando?
Boxers. Canít stand the briefs yet freeballiní can be a little uncomfortable too. Boxers seem to be an appropriate happy medium.

Loup asked...
re: the bizarre ice cream incident ... What flavor?
Vanilla. Yes, I almost lost a finger for simple vanilla ice cream. The shame!

Goodsnake asked...
How old were you when you had your first sexual experience and how many had you had before the misses made an honest man out of you?
That would be the ripe old age of 15, if I recall correctly. Now, for the second part? I have no clue!

Heather asked...
Um...if you could choose one superpower what would it be? You know, to complement your wife's alter ego of "The Pantless Wonder".
How about the Pantless Wonder Twins? That could be cool, right? Although not twins in the strict sense of the word. Iím talking a pantless crime fighting couple thing here. The superpower? Iíd like to be able to stop time and exist independent of it. That? Would be cool! Also, Iíd like to have super blogging commenting powers so that I could visit every one of your sites and comment everyday. Of course, if I was able to stop time, I could do that while no one was paying attention.

Groovebunny asked...
Mmmmkay...when are you gonna grace us with that audio of you playing something on guitar??? I mean...since now that you have the technology to deliver and all. :)
I actually have to try that. The problem? Iím a perfectionist and Iím not going to ever be happy with anything I post. Hell, I already record audioblogs about eleventy-billion times before I record one I'm happy to post. Hi, Iím anal!

Sweety asked...
Have you ever got emotional by looking at a piece of art, like a painting or a statue? What was it?
Kinda sorta. My wifeís favorite piece of sculpture is Nike of Samothrace at the Louvre. When we traveled there last year, it was pretty much the first thing she wanted to see since, being an art history major sheíd studied it quite a bit. Its placed at the top of a long stairway and its presence is almost magical. That magic combined with the way my wife reacted to it forced one of the stronger reactions Iíve ever had to art.

Do you always remember your dreams?
No. Rarely do I, actually. Which is probably good and bad.

Will you show me & Mr Sweety around Washington if we ever visit?
Of course! Let me know when youíre coming and Iíll sign you up for the Washington Cactus Tour. I know where all the good record and bookstores are. Oh, wait. Youíd probably actually like to see important stuff like monuments and museums, huh? I guess I can do that too :-)

What advice would you give me & Mr Sweety if we ever come & live in the US?
First, save money. Second, be somewhat prepared to be disillusioned. This is a wonderful country but, like any other country, its not without its faults. That elusive American Dream is becoming harder to obtain and clouded by crass commercialism and ridiculous politics. You might have to look a little harder for it. But its still here.

Ever had cartoon characters on you boxers?
Yes. Iíve got a pair of boxers with Marvin The Martian (I have a matching tie too) as well as a pair with Scooby Doo. I only wear those on special occasions.

Samantha asked...
if you were to hand select a menu, of all of your favorite foods and wines, what would you choose, for a perfect meal?
The perfect mealÖprobably something Italian. Iím a big pasta fan. Perhaps a nice Caesar salad followed by some homemade risotto and possibly a nice spaghetti with a red wine sauce? Desert tooÖchocolate mousse! Iím not a wine drinker so Iíd have to pass there.

what do you really think about the state of popular music right now? Does it scare the shit out of you? Depress you? Or did you buy an Usher CD?
I have mixed feelings, honestly. The music industry is horrible. It rarely fosters original talent or creativity. Music Ė the art and the creativity Ė has been thrown under the bus for the sake of revenue. Yet, we also live in a time in which there are so many ways of getting music out to the world. Indie labels have large following and the Internet is providing artists new and old with new tools for distribution. Sadly, I think the industry overall will continue to be dominated by whatever sells.

Monique asked...
if/when i go to DC what are the 3 places i HAVE TO SEE... and they don't have to be touristy spots (i've never been there). i'll show you and the missus around boston if you show me and the boys (that would be hubby and child) around DC sometime.
Deal! As far as the three places you have to go, Iíd say the first stop would be the Mall. Thatís with a capital M, not one of our local teenage hangouts with the Shoe Hut and Pizza World. No, the Mall in DC with all the museums and monuments is a must. The second would be Great Falls. Did you know that more water flows over Great Falls in an hour than passes over Niagara Falls? Its true. You can look it up. Itís a truly gorgeous site that most people donít expect to see right outside our nationís capital. The third? Arlington Cemetery. Its almost impossible to comprehend how many people have sacrificed themselves for this country. And while Arlington doesnít paint a complete picture, its both surreal and humbling.

you're a vegetarian, what prompted that? have you tried Trader Joe's Succotash?
Yes, Beth and I are both vegetarians. We never ate that much meat to begin with. Eventually, when we realized we werenít even cooking it anymore and just eating it when we went out, we decided to stop altogether. It wasnít a major life change or anything. And no, I havenít tried that but it looks like Iíll have to!

you're a avid, rabid reader, do you prefer one specific genre or do you read all over the map?
I primarily read fiction. My dad started me off on sci-fi as a kid. I credit the imaginations of Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein with most of my enthusiasm to read now. But rarely do I read much sci-fi anymore. I enjoy almost everything Ė from good literary fiction to cheap horror novels.

Dawn asked...
When was the last time you cleaned out your car?
Um. Does the fifth amendment apply to a blog? Please!? Its been ages, quite possibly eons, since Iíve cleaned my car. Iím not proud of it. Excavation and carbon dating is perhaps the only way to determine how long its been.

Out of your insanely large CD collection, which ONE is your absolute all-time favorite?
Iím not trying to duck a question here but thatís seriously impossible and my answer would change on a daily basis. I have a few though. Genesisí 1974 album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway probably did more to get me into music than any other single album. After I bought it, I was transfixed for days. It was elaborate, epic and singularly original. Iíll also credit Yesí The Yes Album with similar early inspiration. Led Zeppelinís Physical Graffiti showed me that there was more to life than progressive art-rock, specifically insane guitar solos, wailing vocals and bombastic drum work. There was a level of energy to the music I hadnít heard beforeÖand I loved it. Still do.

Kelley asked...
What are you and Mrs. Cactus doing for your fifth anniversary?
For our upcoming anniversary, weíre traveling back to NYC where we went on our honeymoon. Weíve got tickets to a few shows and reservations at some of our favorite restaurants.

Zoot asked...
What's your favorite Halloween Candy?
Does it have sugar in it? If so, its my favorite. Iím an equal-opportunity candy consumer. For example, Iím currently typing this with a mouthful of gummy bears.

What are you going to be for Halloween?
I think Iíll probably just go as me.

Do you dress your cats up for Halloween?
No. While Callie, our smaller, more docile one would most likely put up with it, Pixel would remove several of our limbs if we tried. I value my appendages.

Shiz asked...
Would you stop shopping at TARGET (or another favourite store) if you found out they were irresponsibly contributing to some world misery? Like slavery or child prostitution or something?
Yes. Although Iím sure it would be hard to find a store in which there isnít something objectionable from that point of view. But on the whole, I couldnít in good conscience support a store who knowingly sold or distributed something like that.

Groovebunny returned and asked...
Mmmkay...what's your happiest memory from your life thus far?
My wedding. Or all the random memories I have of being silly with the woman I love.

Your life overall...the grass in greener on the other side or the grass is just lovely where you are?
The grass is fine right here. Of course there are always going to be some weeds but you just pull those out and move on.

How much wood could a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?
27.43 cubic feet per day for your average sized wood chuck. This number will vary based on the region. For instance, your wood chuck in the Pacific Northwest will often chuck more wood than the Midwestern wood chuck, given that they're larger in size and are generally located closer to Starbucks.

Do you even know what a wood chuck is?
Yes.

Favorite line from a movie?
ďSew, old one. Sew like the wind.Ē From Three Amigos.

Favorite thing about yourself?
Iím going to go with personality. I think Iím reasonably intelligent, a fairly nice guy and have an okay sense of humor.

Most unfavorite thing about yourself?
My occasional lack of a sunny disposition and the inability to just chill.

Do you dream in color?
3-D actually. But only when I remember to put on the glasses.

Do you snore?
Oh hell yeah. Much to Mrs. Cactusí chagrin.

I know you've written somewhere here that Mrs. Cactus works out in the morning before work, while you make your coffee and donut run...so in an arm wrestling battle, who would be the victor? You or Mrs. Cactus?
I think Iíd win. Of course once she reads this, Iíll probably have to test that theory so Iíll let you know for sure.

So we've seen shots of your fabulous shoes. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
Somewhere around 10. I wear maybe three of them regularly.

Do the shoes make the man or the man makes the shoes?
The shoes definitely donít make the whole man but they canít hurt.

What would you do if you were in the shower and a very large spider appeared from no where and landed on your face?
Probably pass out, hit my head on something and die. I hate spiders. HATE!

Do you sing in the shower?
Yes. Although very quietly so Mrs. Cactus canít hear me. I'm okay with a guitar. Singing? Not so much.

Do you have any holes in your socks?
I have one pair of socks that I found holes in the other day. Other than that, no.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, what is the one thing you could not live with?
My mother. Damn, I love the woman but sheís crazy.

If you had the opportunity to say one thing to the entire world, where everyone was listening to you at once, what would that one thing be?
Be nice to each other.

Genuine asked...
How did you get hooked up with the JLB?
Most of the members of the JLB all hooked up at the same time. We were chatting one day and it all just came together. And can I tell you what a kick ass group of people they are? I couldn't ask for nicer, more wonderful friends.

Bond Girl asked...
How'd you and your missus meet? Was she charmed right away or did you have to convince her?
We met in college and halfway through our freshman year, she picked me up in a bathroom. Really! Havenít I told this story before? If not, I smell a future post. When I moved off campus, she came with me and we havenít looked back since. I like to think she was charmed right away but thatís really her question to answer.

And the one that speaks volumes, Coke or Pepsi?
Coke. Coke all the way.

BMH asked...
Red or Green Apples?
Red, preferably Fuji.

And what do you make of the theory that Smurfette was actually a guy in drag?
I can get onboard that theory. What proof do you have though?

Retro Girl asked...
I'm new to your blog so I have to know just what the hell is the 'Judith Light Brigade' besides a collection of great blogs? And who came up with such a brilliant name for this troupe?
All your answers should be here: http://www.jlbrigade.com/2004/03/its_the_jlb_yea.html ďGreat blogs?Ē Thanks for that! As I mentioned earlier (scroll up), the JLB is an awesome, supremely talented group of people...so I'm not really sure how I fit in there! ;-)

Second question: Your top 5 films (in any order).
Thatís a tough one.
1. Avalon
2. North By Northwest
3. Philadelphia Story
4. Magnolia
5. Citizen Kane

Amy asked...
My friend wants to learn how to play the guitar...and lessons will be in her future very soon...but I was wondering if you have any suggestions for books or videos as well that I can pass along to her??? Or words of wisdom? Or both. :)
First thing first Ė get a decent, simple chord book. That pays off instantly because knowing the chords is important and they sound cool, thus providing encouragement. A word of advice Ė lessons arenít for everyone. The second my parents hired a piano teacher, I lost interest. When I started seeing a guitar teacher for pointers a few years after I started playing, the same thing happened. I think the most important thing about learning to play the guitar is simply playing. Instruction helps but some of the best lessons are learned by screwing around.

Alektra asked...
You are quite the writer. If you could quit your job and just write, what would you write? Fiction? Social history? Journalism?
Fiction. Iíd like to write the clichť Great American Novel one day. Weíll see how that goes. I originally wanted to be a journalist but the college I went to didn't have a great program. In retrospect, that probably wouldn't have made me happy.

And why do you feel that draw?
Iím not sure. I think itís the way my brainís wired. Iíve always been a words person, never drawn to numbers or proofs or theorems. Always words and sentences and paragraphs. Strings of the right words woven together can yield such emotion and such power. While I'm reading, I'll occasionally run across a sentence or paragraph that forces me to sit back, reread and think "my god that's an incredible sentence." I'd like to be able to do that...I'd like for someone to have the same reaction to something I piece together.

Posted by Chris at 10:39 AM | Comments (17)

Haiku For Monday #48

Can you remind me
what it is I'm doing here
so freaking early?

Posted by Chris at 6:57 AM | Comments (8)

September 26, 2004

Weekend (In Pictures)

Yes, I'm still alive. I've just been slaving away trying to provide witty and insightful answers to all the questions you guys innundated me with over the past few days. Not that I'm complaining...I mean, I asked, right? To prove I've actually been doing plenty of other things, I give you my weekend photo montage!

And how has your weekend been?

Posted by Chris at 5:15 PM | Comments (16)

September 24, 2004

Quick Answer

I'm busily collecting questions and will be working on all the answers this weekend. So, if you've got more, go to the original post and leave them in the comments. But my wife had a good question that she submitted and I answered it last night (I tell you I answer ALL my email...even if she was commenting from our living room couch downstairs!). I wanted to share it with you.

Question: How did you ever convince such a beautiful, funny, brilliant, talented, sexy woman to marry you? The world wants to know.

Answer: Present were Satan, a contract, and a pinprick of the finger. My name was signed. Of course, in the afterlife I'll be the devil's bitch but
its worth it ;-) Hi from upstairs!

Posted by Chris at 2:58 PM | Comments (9)

Mental Health (Fri)Day

So, I called in sick this morning. Am I sick? Well, there's some room for interpretation there...but I am very tired and have an irritating headache. That qualifies, right? I thought so. Hopefully I'll come up with something brilliant and enlightening to post later...but until then, remember to ask me some questions. I'll be collecting them and answering them this weekend!

And one special announcement - Joe, a long time reader, from Play By Play dropped me an email in which he announced, "I have to say Chris that my day turned around dramatically after our e-mail exchange. My wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl at 5:23 p.m. CT this afternoon! :)" Congratulations to Joe and his wife!!

Posted by Chris at 9:35 AM | Comments (11)

September 23, 2004

Audioblog: Over To You!

Yes, I'm really lazy. So I'm relying on you to help me out. Yes its that time again...ask me questions!!

Posted by Chris at 5:42 PM | Comments (33)

String Theory

Its a cheap way out of original thinking but I got nothing this morning. So, I bring you the latest and greatest search strings that got some of you here. But while I'm at it I've gotta say once again that you guys rock. While searching the strings, I happened to notice my hit and visitor counts. Sheesh! I'm floored. Absolutely floored. Thanks to all. Onto the search strings...

Criss cross applesauce: I'm rubber, you're glue!
Rigid tool calendar: Really, I know what you're going for here but I have the sense of humor of a 12 year old, okay?
Ass hair: Sorry. None here.
The mysteries of midgetville riverside municipal museum: There's a midget museum?? Who else is thinking "road trip?"
Do not call me jlo: Really, don't. You won't like me when I'm angry.
This country is going to hell: I didn't say it.
I'm a loser named chris: Its finally time to come out and tell the world...
How to be rude in a meeting: Light up a cigarette, tell your boss to go to hell and fart loudly. Need more tips, just swing back by.
How the bowels work: Um...no...whatever.
Shel Silverstein naked pencil sharpener: C'mon people. What is wrong with you?
The name of the cactus that lived 31 years without any food water or barely any air: Not me. I've been well-fed most of my life and I'm getting plenty of oxygen, thanks.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the bed while Little Bo Peep gave him head: Huh. They left that out of my book of nursery rhymes when I was a kid.
My bank has spelled my name wrong: I can naturally see why you turned to the Internet instead of calling them.
Colonoscopy how s it feel: No personal experience but I'm going to go out on a limb and say not good.
How does deaf people haer the car siren? How do stupid people form sentences?

Posted by Chris at 10:19 AM | Comments (21)

September 22, 2004

Designing Fool

A long time ago, in a previous life, I was a Web designer. Hey, get me! I can still design stuff! Amy put out the call for a little design help so I gave it a shot. Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Now, here's the question...do I take a shot at my own site or do you guys still like the Basic Cactus design? To be quite honest with you, I'm reluctant to change much. But let me know what you think!

On a side note, what's the smallest measurement of anything ever? Because whatever it is, I have exactly .0003 of those worth of motivation today.

Posted by Chris at 2:49 PM | Comments (37)

Re: AVSRC

I appreciate all the supportive comments (well, and the ones about 70's porn and all too) with respect to the Very Special post from yesterday. I also wanted to let you know that, while it is stressful and kinda freaky, Beth and I are both laughing a lot about it. I mean, what else can you do, right? So really, the intent of that post was to make you laugh, not to get all serious on your asses.

Now, will someone get the damn 70's porn music out of my head for me please?

Posted by Chris at 8:04 AM | Comments (19)

September 21, 2004

A Very Special Rude Cactus

Warning: Iím sending up the warning flare now. This post most definitely falls into the TMI category. And yes, men have these things too, thank you very much. Iíll do my best not to be crass Ė anymore crass than usual, that is Ė but I canít make any guarantees. You see, I have this dateÖ

Yes. I said a date. I can hear what youíre thinking Ė heís a married man! How dare he have a date! And how dare he flaunt it here of all places where his wife can see it. And his wife? Sheís the epitome of The Hotness! What the hell is he thinking? Let me assure you that not only do I have my wifeís full support but I even have her encouragement.

Youíre confused. I can sense it. So let me try to explain a little more. This date? It wonít be a laugh riot. There will be no sweet-nothings exchanged, no frolicking in the park, no carriage rides, no champagne. There will be memories, Iím sure, but they wonít be fond ones. There will be sex, so that's something. I mean, thatís the point of the entire thing. No sex? Pretty much a failure on my part.

A few weeks ago my wife went to the doctor. When she returned she had a ďprescriptionĒ for me! Yay! For a test. But I'm trying to look on the bright side of it all. Of the nine possible things they could want me to do, all I have to do is number three in a cup (think about it).

In an effort to circumnavigate the globe of my neuroses, letís review what I donít have to do, shall we?

Male Sperm Antibody Test, Semen (Direct Immunobead Test): Isnít it a bit redundant to specify that the sperm must come from semen? Sperm, semen. To-may-to, to-mah-to. Right?

Male Sperm Antibody Test, Semen (Indirect Immunobead Test): See previous. Iím not sure I know what the difference between direct and indirect is. Excuse me sir. Please excuse these rather long forceps up your nose but we need to get that sample indirectly. Just tilt your head back a bitÖ

Female Sperm Antibody Test, Serum (Indirect Immunobead Test): Hold up! Hold up! To-may-to, to-mah-to, right? I thought thatís what we agreed on. So, uh, female? WTF? I seriously need to get my mom on the phone because apparently she left a few things out of that whole ďbirds and beesĒ conversation we had so many years ago.

Sperm Preparation For Intrauterine Insemination: How, precisely, does one prepare sperm for this? Are they taken shopping for a new wardrobe? Maybe some grooming tips? Is it like a reproductive version of Queer Eye? Five sperms that donít particularly want anything to do with the egg give helpful tips to the few hundred thousand who are raring to go? Perhaps theyíre taught to accessorize, sear a nice tuna steak and pick a good wine to go with it.

Semen Cultures: Good morning gentlemen and welcome to todayís cultural tour of Chrisí Recessive Neighborhoods. If you look to your left, we have the Latin Quarter. Famous for their infectious music and spicy cooking, the swarthy residents originated with Chrisí great great uncle Paco, a participant in the Mexican American War. Up ahead on the right Ė and please keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times - we have Freaktown. Please try not to stare. Next stops Ė Chinatown and Redheadville!

Sperm Conservation: I recycle. Iím a vegetarian. I donít start forest fires nor do I dump my raw sewage into streams and rivers. I give a hoot and donít pollute. Iím even thinking about buying a hybrid next year. But please! You people are taking this way too far.

Sperm Cryptoconservation: The horror! All I can think about are hundreds of thousands of little sperms getting frozen like Han Solo.

Non Surgical or Surgical Sperm Aspiration for ICSI: First, I donít want to know what ICSI is. I try to avoid having acronyms done to me. Nor do I really care for the sound of ďaspiration.Ē It sounds like an awful lot to put my guys through.

Sperm Urinary Recovery for Retrograde Ejaculation: Que lights...camera...action!!
Warden: What happened, Smith?
Deputy: I donít know sir. It just went off when I wasnít looking. I totally wasnít expecting it!
Warden: Lockdown! Lockdown! We have a break! Letís search every henhouse, outhouse, doghouse, cathouse and urinary tract to find The Fugitive sperm! He looks a lot lie Harrison Ford only much smaller. And with a tail. Or has the one-armed sperm struck again?

So what is it I have to have done? According to the kind andrology services folks, Complete Semen Analysis. In other words, number three in a cup.

Most guys Ė if theyíre being honest with you Ė will admit that when pressure is applied to an already delicate process such as this, the results will invariably be less than spectacular. This is one of those situations in which the more you think about something, the less likely it is to actually happen. My kind and lovely wife has offered to buy me porn but Iím uneasy with that. Not that I mind porn. Thereís just something odd about your wife going out to buy porn for you, selecting porn specifically for you so that you can go get it on with a cup, that makes me really uncomfortable. So, Iím trying to think of other ways to lighten the loadÖemotionally speaking.

There you have it. Iíll let you know when Iíve made the appointment for this illicit rendezvous but I certainly donít want anyone to say ďGood luck Ė Iíll be thinking about youĒ or ďIíve got my fingers crossedĒ because thatís just really Ė whatís the word Iím looking for? Ė oogy.

One last thing - I know you've all got a thousand jokes that have spontaneously come to life while reading this. Please feel free to share. And never let it be said that I don't pull back the curtain for you guys.

Posted by Chris at 4:44 PM | Comments (44)

Road Rage

There's a moral here...somewhere. Perhaps its drive softly and carry a big wrench but most likely its be careful who you piss off on the road...you might have just cut off an insane monkeywrench-wielding blogger.
Posted by Chris at 9:07 AM | Comments (25)

September 20, 2004

Audioblog: Freak Magnet II

I'm afraid. Hold me!

And if you can't see the audio controls, please download Flash.

Posted by Chris at 2:33 PM | Comments (17)

One Fish, Two Fish...

OR, THE OBLIGATORY WEEKEND RECAP

Weather and movies. Really, that's what this weekend was all about.

On Friday evening, we had plans to go out with the family. Those were quickly dashed by tornadoes! There were, according to reports, between 15 and 30 tornadoes in our chunk of Virginia on Friday evening. Freaky. We cancelled our evening plans and stayed home. And, oh, about the time they closed Dulles and evacuated the air traffic control tower (we live five miles away), we figured it might be a decent idea to spend some quality time in the basement. By 10:00 Friday evening, the worst was over and we escaped unscathed although on Saturday morning we noticed that the house next door had lost some of its siding and they're the ones who are going to have to retrieve it from our roof!

Saturday...well, Saturday we had to cancel plans because of weather too although it ended up being a gorgeous day. We did manage to catch Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow which was awesome! But I was bound to love it because I? Am a dork. I love 40's and 50's action/adventure and sci-fi movies. Sky Captain essentially took the best elements of these classic films and rolled them into one great-looking movie.

Saturday was also Pretend Celebrity Boy/Girlfriend Day! As some of you may know, my wife has herself a Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend. I also have to admit that I have a Pretend Celebrity Girlfriend. We started off with Bend it Like Beckham which was, well, cute but not extraordinary. Although my Pretend Celebrity Girlfriend jumped around a lot in a sports bra, so that was something. My wife then got her Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend fix in Beyond Borders which was surprisingly decent although not at all happy. Really. Not. Happy.

Sunday? She was nice and relaxing. I finished a book I'd been reading, caught up on some email, took a few pictures. You know, nothing big. Then we went to our rescheduled dinner with our families. The place was cool...the food was not. You know its bad when the best thing you can say is "well, the salad was good." I mean, how can you fuck up salad? Unsatisfied, we went home and watched the most horrible thing on TV ever. Then? Bed.

Now you're all caught up. And how was your weekend?

Posted by Chris at 8:51 AM | Comments (20)

Haiku For Monday #47

Crap! Monday so soon?
Dumb calendar inventor.
Two-day weekends? Gah!

Posted by Chris at 6:45 AM | Comments (4)

September 19, 2004

Match Game

Posted by Chris at 12:42 PM | Comments (15)

September 18, 2004

Audioblog: Heavy Weather

Hurricane Ivan Goes To Washington!

By the way, if you're having issues accessing the Audioblog, please make sure you download Flash.

Posted by Chris at 11:01 AM | Comments (8)

September 17, 2004

The Verdict

Seventy-four guesses! Yes, that's how many of you guessed the total number of CDs I own. Some of you were very close. Others, not so much. Regardless, that's what I call reader participation! So, thanks to all of you.

As I promised, the winner will receive a two part compilation culled from the collection - the best and worst of the Cactus Collection. Additionally, if the winner came within ten CDs of the total, he or she will receive something from their wishlist. Could such a thing happen? Indeed it has.

I present to you, the winner...Amy of Amy's Bad Groove! That's right, folks. Not only did Amy submit the closest guess, she only missed the correct answer by seven CDs! Want proof?




Yes, I got all dorky and scientific and anal and put everyone's answers into a spreadsheet and let it work the totals for me. Got a problem with that? Cos you don't want me doing math all willy-nilly.

I will start on the compilations ASAP and have already made the wishlist purchase!

For those of you who are curious, yes, I have exactly 3,305 CDs. I realize that this is a sickness. I also realize that its better than spending money on hookers and/or crack. And I love music - what can I say?

Thank you to all who participated! I seriously have the best readers in the history of blogdom. As always, you rock!

Posted by Chris at 2:22 PM | Comments (29)

Boy Wonder

In the somewhat near future, my company has its annual end-of-summer event for which we take over a local amusement park for a day. My wife and I were discussing it last night.

Her: I hope its nice when we go.
Me: Yeah, me too.
Her: So I can ride the Batman!
Me: Superman. There is no Batman.
Her: I thought there was a Batman.
Me: There's a Joker or something but no Batman.
Her: What did I want to ride last year?
Me: Superman.
Her: Isn't there a whole Batman-themed area there?
Me: Its pretty much superheroes in general. Its not limited to just Batman.
Her: So, Superman it is.
Me: Good, cos I don't want to hear that you want to ride the boy wonder. I'm your boy wonder!

It got crass after that. I'll spare you.

And yes...I'm tabulating the results of the vote right now. I'll post the winner this afternoon!

Happy Friday everyone!

Posted by Chris at 8:22 AM | Comments (17)

September 16, 2004

Bacon and Books

I'm a vegetarian. There. I said it. But I want it to be known that I'm not one of those freaky, organic-nut-only-eating vegetarian. My wife (who's also one) and I eat very well, thank you very much.

The one thing, really the only thing, I miss is bacon. I love the smell of bacon. I love bacon that's really crispy. I love the salty taste of bacon. I care not that its pig ass. To me, bacon is just little slices of crispy heaven. Fatty heaven, but heaven nonetheless. Which is why every day is a battle.

You see, there's a deli in the basement of the building in which I work. Starting around 6:30 in the morning, they start frying bacon to prepare for the morning breakfast rush. When I walk in from the parking garage? Bacon. When I get into an elevator? Bacon. If I take the stairs? Bacon. You just can't escape the heavenly smell of frying bacon in this place. Bastards.

One day a couple of years ago, I really wanted to cave. So I bought fake bacon. Where real bacon can be considered heaven-sent, I'd like to warn you that fake bacon is clearly cut from the flanks of the devil's ass. It smelled almost like bacon but not quite. Kinda like when the pods started taking over people in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers - it looks like Frank, sounds like Frank, but isn't quite Frank. We worked for a week to get the smell out of our house. And the taste? Lets not go there, okay? The cats wouldn't even touch it.

Despite my vegetarianism, I'm resigned to forever loving bacon. Like a theme from Shakespeare (A Mid Summer Night's Bacon? Taming of the Bacon? Bacon III?) it is a love that shall go unrequited.

In other news: The book club is now open for business. Yes, all of you who expressed interest a month ago should have received an email last night. Please go register! Weren't on the email distribution list but interested in joining? Go register - its open to all! Voting for the October 2004 book has begun!

Posted by Chris at 8:07 AM | Comments (30)

September 15, 2004

Fashion Woes

Yes, I'm a straight man and yes, I'm using the word "fashion" in the title of a post. Two separate stories over the last 24 hours have, in one way shape or form, involved fashion.

Fashion Woe Part I: Turn The Other Cheek
Yesterday I wore my standard-issue, no-client-meeting outfit to work - slacks, nice shirt and tie. Since jeans and a t-shirt are almost always preferable, I usually slip into something a bit more casual as soon as I get home. Yesterday was no different. When I got home and started changing, I was surprised to notice something on the back of my pants. For some portion of the day, unbeknownst to me, I was walking around with some bright reddish, chalk-like substance all over my right ass-cheek. Of course, me being me, I didn't worry about the future of said pants (which I actually don't like anyway). No, thoughts immediately turned to how long have I been walking around today with something on my ass? Was I walking all over the office acting all serious and shit with people laughing at me and my red ass? And what the hell is this? Looks like I wiped off a chalkboard with my butt...not that I'd know...really! It wasn't a tiny little sprinkling of stuff - it was half an ass-cheek big! People would have noticed. People would have thought, well there goes a fine upstanding citizen, conservatively dressed...but wait...whats that....what in the name of all that is good is all over his right ass-cheek? What a loser! I never trust a man with a sullied ass-cheek That's an image-ruiner there, folks.

Fashion Woe #2: Nippley
It is approximately 23 degrees below zero in my office. I shit you not. One sudden move and my nipples are going to cut holes in a perfectly nice shirt. Only fit for wear with, of course, my right ass-cheek stained pants.

Posted by Chris at 5:06 PM | Comments (16)

Audioblog: Number One

My name for the day...and a lame joke.

I realize some of you have had issues hearing the Audioblog. If so, you're not missing anything today.

Happy Hump Day!


Posted by Chris at 9:11 AM | Comments (19)

September 14, 2004

He Said, She Said

My wife just posted a little IM conversation we had earlier this afternoon. I figured I'd post the first half. Yes, we're weird but we're weird together.

Me: I? am probably leaving early again!
Her: you? suck
Me: I? am sorry about that
Her: you? are so lying
Her: I? will be working late
Me: I? am. for I? am not too sorry about that but I? am sorry you're stuck at work
Me: that? is not good
Me: why? will you be stuck
Her: I? am a little tired of this
Her: but I? came in late
Her: so I? must stay late
Her: so that I? do not look like a slacker
Me: tired? of what? the question thingy?
Her: that?
Me: I? am a proud slacker
Her: how could I? be tired of that?
Me: then? what are you tired of?
Her: the? question? thing?
Me: oh? we shall stop then
Her: yay?
Me: yay

Clearly she stole the better half of the conversation.

Posted by Chris at 6:08 PM | Comments (13)

Slacker

I have failed in my job as a dutiful blogger. Its 1:00 in the afternoon and this is the first post of the day. I wish I had a good reason but I dont. Sure, I've been a little busy but not that much. I'm just a slacker.

It has been fun to watch all the entries coming in for Reader Participation Time. Some of you guys are very very close. Others? Not so much. If you haven't already commented, keep em coming!

Being hurricane season, I caught an article on CNN yesterday that amused the hell out of me. It consisted of suggestions from normal, everyday folks on what could be done to soften the blows of hurricanes. A few suggestions I thought worth sharing -

Coat the surface of the ocean with olive oil. Of course, add a little roasted garlic and some fresh basil and all you need is a big-ass loaf of bread!

Build large fans and aim them at the ocean. Um...um...dumbass!

Drop a nuclear warhead into the storm. Great - high winds, rain, fallout and massive doses of radiation. Sure, that makes sense.

That's it for now. Remember to vote!

Posted by Chris at 1:11 PM | Comments (12)

September 13, 2004

Reader Participation Time!

OR, HOW MY OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE TENDENCIES CAN BENEFIT YOU

My lovely wife had to work most of the weekend. Luckily she was able to do this from home but it left me with some free time. So I embarked on a project that I've been meaning to do for, oh, about three years - update my list of CDs. Yes. I have so many I have to provide a list to my insurance company. Yes. That's sick. Yes. I'm slightly obsessive-compulsive. At the same time, I love music so its really a win-win thing for me and my compulsive side.

Anyway, I couldn't find the original list (I'm obsessive-compulsive yet not all that organized...odd, huh?) so "updating" became "recreating from scratch" very quickly.

Several thoughts and probing questions came up as I was going through this process. Who the fuck is Jet Circus? And Brendan Lynch? Tattoo Rodeo? I have all the Ratt albums? Was I on crack? Was someone holding a gun to my head at Tower Records and I've just blocked that particularly unpleasant memory? Oh good, I have the matching set - both the William Shatner and Leonary Nimoy albums. I can die a happy man now. Wait, this one still has the shrink wrap on it. Kitaro? So, I'm what? 80?

Not that its all crap. I'd say there's really only a small percentage that's crap. I'd give my collection a 10-15% Crap Rating. Not bad considering that there's a world of crap out there I've managed to hold at bay.

The point? Reader participation time! Yes, if you guess the total number of CDs I currently own, you'll get your very own Cactus Compilation (TM) containing the best from the collection. And for a limited time only, I'll also send you a compilation of the worst! So, take your best shot. All comments must be received by Friday. See disclaimer below for more details...

Disclaimer: The closest entry to the total number of CDs wins (in other words, no Price Is Right rules here). If you're within 10, I'll send you something from your wishlist as well, provided you have one. In order to enter, please be willing to give me your address or the whole mailing thing wont be all that successful. Contest participants expecting rap or country music to be present on said compilation are sorely mistaken. Sorry. All entries must be received by Friday, September 17th. Unless no one enters in which case I'll feel bad but probably extend the deadline while I nurse my hurt feelings with booze and cigarettes and become a bitter, bitter man...but no pressure or anything. Contestants with an inside knowledge of my CD collection (i.e., my wife - hi honey) are not eligible. Nor are people who have heard me say "hey, I have ---- CDs!" That would be unfair. Insider knowledge - look where it got Martha Stewart.

Posted by Chris at 1:09 PM | Comments (75)

Haiku For Monday #46

Hey, weekend! Where did
you go? You're always running
out the door too fast.

Posted by Chris at 7:06 AM | Comments (10)

September 12, 2004

Literal Cactus

I need your opinion. Do you think this is just poorly worded? Or is this a new line of business someone has recently discovered?



Posted by Chris at 5:39 PM | Comments (16)

September 11, 2004

Remember

Credit where credit is due...I did not take this picture but I thought it an appropriate way to remember. I hope you do too.

Posted by Chris at 7:48 AM | Comments (10)

September 10, 2004

Audioblog: Freak Magnet

Music and scary women with fanny packs. Yes, I'm a freak magnet.

Posted by Chris at 5:39 PM | Comments (25)

Friday...And (Not) Working

Good morning and Happy Friday! I am reporting again from the RC3! Important to note that I am not STILL at work. If you followed my cries for help yesterday, I can report that I made it out alive and marginally sane (really, not so much)...after an 18 hour day. Yes, in at 6:00 AM and out at 12:00 AM. Today? I'm "working from home" which basically means I'm doing whatever the hell I feel like.

I'll be getting to the backlog of email and blog visits I owe you guys today. You gotta hate it when work gets in the way of the good stuff.

Special thanks to my lovely wife for waiting up for me last night to see her wreck of a husband arrive safely home.

Posted by Chris at 9:12 AM | Comments (12)

September 9, 2004

Guess Where I Am?

Yup...still here at work. For those of you playing at home, almost seventeen hours and counting...

Posted by Chris at 10:36 PM | Comments (12)

Everlasting Joy Of Meetings

Just for the record, remember that meeting I talked about earlier? Yeah, I'm still in it. Also for the record, its 8:20 PM...and I got here at 6:00 AM. Not that I'm complaining or anything...

When you work long hours, some things seem perfectly reasonable. Which is why I found myself writing the words "customable" and "monitority" and overusing the phrase "breadth of knowledge."

Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Posted by Chris at 8:21 PM | Comments (6)

Work...Cos I Never Blog About That

Let's say you have a big document to write. So, you gather a team together and assign folks to write various parts. Simple enough, right? Now, lets also say you bring everyone together on a Wednesday to review what's going well and what's not. Everyone should be on the same page, correct?

Around here, pulling together a proposal is a Big Deal. Its how we get work, how we stay employed. When a proposal comes in everyone scrambles - some to work on it, some to run screaming from the building. But everyone recognizes that its a Big Deal.

So why is it that, as I'm sitting here reviewing the entire 75 page document now - the entire document that must be completed by 5:00 this evening - I find that its complete and utter crap? I already had to completely rewrite one person's section because, frankly, I didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

And why is it grown people can't string a decent sentence together? I mean, I know I'm no Steinbeck or Salinger on my site but that's because I rarely edit what I write here. But on paper? For work? For money? I don't mind saying I'm damn good at what I do. But apparently I'm the only one who knows any of the rules of grammar.

Yes, I'm bitter. Going back to Bitter Proposal Writing Mode. Thanks for letting me rant.

Posted by Chris at 12:43 PM | Comments (14)

Waste of $6

I haven't really had the time to talk much about my long weekend. And I don't really have much time to go into it here. Maybe tomorrow? I would like to tell you (warn you!) about the horrible movie I saw over the weekend. Wicker Park. And I'd also like to demonstrate how opinions differ from person to person.

In Friday's Washington Post review, Stephen Hunter raved, "A movie such as 'Wicker Park' is a movie critics favorite, and because it has so many secrets, I can say very little about it and may get out of here before 3 p.m." After seeing the movie, largely based on his glowing review, I'm convinced he just skipped the screening and bailed on the whole work thing at noon.

The following praise for the movie is lifted directly from Hunter's review.

...the plotting is ingenious...this is a smart movie...astonishing reverses and switchbacks...adroitly walks the thin line between too clever by half and not clever enough by three-quarters...nothing is what it seems...this is a nothing-is-what-it-seems movie, par excellence...

Those are pretty words...shiny and distracting. And while all of these things are, appropriately enough, matters of opinion, I couldn't have disagreed with them more. I'll use less pretty words, with less shine - this movie was complete raw sewage. Rarely have I felt tempted to walk out of a movie, no matter how bad. Battlefield Earth? I sat through it all. Eyes Wide Shut? Yup, the whole thing. Why? Well, I was under the illusion that I really couldn't judge something unless I'd seen the whole thing. I'll admit, however, that I was more tempted to walk out of Wicker Park than I've ever been to walk out of any movie ever before. Why? Well, let me default to the words of another Washington Post reviewer, Michael O'Sullivan:

There would be no movie here -- none -- if the characters in it simply had answering machines, functioning cell phones, knew how to look someone up in the phone book and delivered messages to their best friends when they said they would instead of waiting until the last minute. In other words, if they acted like you and I do. Somebody needs to be slapped here...the movie collapses from the weight of its own stupidity.

Amen, brother. Bottom line - please skip the movie. In the immortal words of Forrest Whittaker's character from Good Morning Vietnam, it "sucked the sweat off a dead man's balls." And, as he then said, "I'm not sure what that means but it can't be good."

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (19)

September 8, 2004

Delirious-o

Yeah, okay...I'm going to blog about work again. Why? Because I started this day at 6 AM and guess who's still working. Yep. That's me! Luckily this thing will be off my desk on Friday morning. Then I can get back to blogging all normal-like and visit your sites and leave comments and communicate with you all like a real person!

I give you the following IM conversation that just played out as evidence that I am, indeed, a little worn out. Names changed to protect the innocent...and all that...


co-worker: YOO HOO!
*** Auto-response sent to coworker: I'm away right now.
Me: oops! I'm here
co-worker: haha
Me: sorry bout that
co-worker: ya sure you want to be there?;-)
Me: eh...should I not be?
Me: whats up?
co-worker: well I am looking for someone to review my section;-)
Me: shoot it my way and I'll take a look!
co-worker: awesome...thanks!
Me: my pleasure!
co-worker: just have a sentence or two to add and then I will send it to you..
Me: just got it! will review! :-)
co-worker: gracias senor!
Me: de nada seniorita!
co-worker: muy bien;-)
Me: I've barely got any English left...much less Spanish ;-)
co-worker: no problemo;-)
Me: lol-o ;-)
co-worker: delirious-o

Posted by Chris at 9:08 PM | Comments (8)

Tired...And A Quote

Less than eight hours after last night's post (in which I prove to be five), I'm back at work ready to edit Another Fucking Proposal (AFP). But I won't get into work here...not yet, at least. I did hear something on the radio that amused me though. I thought I'd share.

In a recent speech, President Bush actually said the following: "Too many OBGYNs aren't able to practice their love of women all over this country..." Now, am I the only one who could take that the wrong way?

Also? Doing a Google search on "Bush+OBGYN" is NOT a particularly wise idea when you're at work. Just so you know...

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (21)

September 7, 2004

The Spaghetti Incident...A Post In One Act

OR, HOW I'VE OVERESTIMATED MY MENTAL AGE BY SEVEN YEARS

Perhaps its because I was punchy after my seven (consults fingers again), yes, seven hour meeting. And its Tuesday but really more like a cleverly disguised Monday. Regardless, I proved this evening why, when I've said I'm pretty much like a 12 year old, I seem to have overshot by about seven years.

[Kitchen, Chris and Beth sit at the dinner table over bowls of spaghetti. Beth, who's been home all day and kindly prepared said meal is dressed casually while Chris, just home from the office yet still in work mode, is dressed in button-down dress shirt and slacks.]

Me: So, how was your day?
Her: Good. I didn't have to work.
Me: Bite me.
Her: You're going to get spaghetti on your shirt if you don't watch out.
Me: Ok. So I should go change. Is that what you're saying?
Her: Yes.
Me: Because, I'm like five.

[Exit Chris. Chris returns wearing a beat-up college t-shirt, threadbare in parts, missing most of a collar.]

Her: You'll probably get spaghetti on that too.
Me: Yes, but I'm okay with that. I mean, this barely has a collar.
Her: True.

[Both begin eating, Chris pondering the fact that he's really not a messy eater at all. And yet, a small droplet of spaghetti lands on his shirt.]

Her: See?
Me: But, see? I don't care.

[Chris, holding large forkful of spaghetti nods. And proceeds to drag forkful of spaghetti over the front of his shirt. Rothko, he thinks, with maybe a little Pollock influence. Satisfied and smug, he turns to Beth with stained shirt and nods.]

Me: See? I'm five.

[Chris then eats said forkful of spaghetti.]

Posted by Chris at 9:15 PM | Comments (22)

Not The Best Way To Start The Week

Showing up to find this little reminder isn't a great way to start the morning.

To: AFP Team
From: Tallulah P. Coworker
Subject: Reminder

Please remember that our proposal meeting will take place on Tuesday. I've reserved the conference room from 8:00 AM until 3:00 PM.

Holy hell. That's (begins finger counting) seven hours! At least I brought my power cord so there will be no repeats of the laptop battery incident. Oh, and I swear I'll stop blogging about work soon. Really. I'll try.

Posted by Chris at 7:41 AM | Comments (12)

September 6, 2004

Labor Day Labor

Like many Americans, I had the day off today. Unlike most of those same Americans, I've actually been working. See, we have a big proposal due (hereafter known as Proposal From Hell - PFH) on Friday afternoon. This means I will be sitting through yet another long meeting tomorrow to work on PFH (okay, I'm rethinking the whole PFH thing because it doesn't seem like a natural thing to type) and I had to pour through the draft of PFH (perhaps, Another Fucking Proposal? AFP? That seems better. So, I take that last statement back...hereafter the proposal, formerly the PFH, which is still hard to type, is known as the AFP. Still with me?) in order to be marginally prepared to discuss what's wrong with it...and there's plenty.

But I also took the time to tweak the site a little bit. Yes, new content! Check it out over there on the right - new photo galleries and a newly designed blogroll page! I've been meaning to get around to those for a long time!

That's all I got. I hope you all had wonderful weekends! Think of me tomorrow as I slave away on the proposal PFH AFP. Labor day indeed...

Posted by Chris at 5:28 PM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #45

Holiday Monday!
Loosely translated - no work!
Happy Labor Day!

Posted by Chris at 7:50 AM | Comments (12)

September 5, 2004

First Fives!

Since I participated in this yesterday over at RockStarMommy's site, I figured I should post it here. This also gives me a great chance to plug RockStarMommy who does, as her name suggests, totally rock!

Without further ado, list the first 5 things that come to mind for all 5 categories.

1. Electric
2. Kid's Books You Liked
3. Having Fun
4. Green
5. September

No cheating, but here are my original answers...

Electric: guitar, Company (am I the only one who remember that show?), Light Orchestra, Bugaloo, LadyLand.

Kids Books: Where the Wild Things Are, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Wrinkle In Time, Wizard of Oz.

Having Fun: Paris, long blues solos, dancing in my kitchen, reading a good book, singing Foo Fighters songs at the top of my lungs while driving.

Green: leaves, tea, "its not easy being," grass, River.

September: 11th, school, fall, Labor Day, traffic.

Posted by Chris at 9:42 AM | Comments (13)

September 4, 2004

Comfort of Everyday Objects

At last! A new gallery!




Over the last couple days I've snapped some random shots of stuff. Just stuff. While I was out this morning, I drove through this industrial area and managed to get some interesting shots as well. Figured it was about time I gave you something new to look at. Check them out here.

Posted by Chris at 12:57 PM | Comments (11)

On Books: August

It's that time again - the beginning of a new month! Which means looking back at what I read the previous month. If you recall, I wasn't really happy with what I ended up reading back in July. Luckily, August was better.

I think the highlight of the month has to be Yoga For People Who Can't Be Bothered To Do It by Geoff Dyer. To blow any preconceptions out of the water now, this book has little, if anything to do with yoga. I'll default to Dyer's own words for an explanation.

"This book is a ripped, by no means reliable map of some of the landscapes that make up a particular phase of my life. It's about places where things happened or didn't happen, places where I stayed and things that have stayed with me, places I'd wanted to see or places I'd passed through our just ended up." He continues, "Everything in this book really happened, but some of the things happened only in my head; by the same token, all the things that didn't happen didn't happen there too."

Yoga is like a well-traveled David Sedaris on crack. As I was reading, I found myself open-mouthed and muttering things like "if I could only write like this."

While Yoga might have been the overall best thing I read in August, certainly Wigfield by the team of Sedaris, Dinello and Colbert was the funniest. Its fake journalism at its very best and I don't recall having ever laughed out loud as hard with any other book.

Checkpoint by Nicholson Baker has gotten a lot of press lately - and rightly so. The book, a slim 115 pages, consists of nothing but a conversation between two people in a Washington DC hotel room. The conversation? Its about killing the president. As in, the current one. I've always been a big fan of Baker's. I think his last novel, A Box Of Matches was one of his finest. Checkpoint, however, is a novelty. It doesn't function well as a novel. The conversation is good, witty and bold but the book itself seems rushed. Its clear that Baker had an agenda. The Republicans among you will not enjoy this. Fierce Democrats most likely will.

Sailing Alone Around The Room is a collection of poetry (yes, I said poetry) from former poet laureate Billy Collins. Now, I'm not a fan of poetry in general but Collins writes poetry thats quirky, meaningful and, unlike elaborate sonnets with rhyming couplets, ordinary about everyday things with which we can all identify.

The last book I'll mention here is Bentley Little's The Walking which falls squarely into the cheap horror novel category. I do love a cheesy horror novel once in a while. Sadly, Little really dropped the ball on this one. By the end, I just really didn't care what happened. Its too bad - some of Little's other books have really been quite good.

So, that's it for August. We'll see what September brings!

Posted by Chris at 8:57 AM | Comments (2)

September 3, 2004

Live From The RC3

Happy Friday everyone! After a long day yesterday, I'm happy to be broadcasting live from the RC3. Of course, this isn't all relaxation - after all, I was just savagely attacked by a shower caddy full of products and junk. But it is a gorgeous day and I didn't have to throw on a suit...or even tie my shoes. And? No long, boring meetings.

I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and, if you're lucky enough to get it, an excellent long weekend!

Posted by Chris at 12:49 PM | Comments (17)

September 2, 2004

Outta Juice

OR, NOTES FROM A LONG MEETING

99% of my laptop battery leftÖAre we done yet?

87% of my laptop battery leftÖI should have gotten something to eat before I came in here. Gum isnít working. Reminder Ė gum is not food.

86% of my laptop battery leftÖNo wireless connectionÖno internet connectionÖno wall jack. This isnít civilization, people! What kind of heathens build a conference room with no internet connection?

78% of my laptop battery leftÖfor the courage of the fearless crew, the minnow would be lostÖthe minnow would be lostÖ

73% of my laptop battery leftÖWonder what that knob does. Hey, look everyone! Iím playing with my knob!

56% of my laptop battery leftÖand I really really have to pee.

54% of my laptop battery leftÖahhhÖmuch better.

47% of my laptop battery leftÖI'm disturbed to report that my ass has fallen asleep. Just my ass. Not my legs or back or anything. Apparently only my ass abandoned ship on me.

41% of my laptop battery leftÖMy knobís no fun anymore. Let me outta here!

33% of my laptop battery leftÖJerry! Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Cantrell, Jerry Stiller, Jerry Mathers (as the Beaver Ė heh), Jerry-that-kid-I-hated-in-elementary-school, Jerry Garcia, Ben & Jerryís Jerry. King of the Jerrys!

27% of my laptop battery leftÖand all Iím really hearing at this point is blah blah blah blah blah like the Charlie Brown teacher, you know?

21% of my laptop battery leftÖWhy in the HELL did I start singing the Gilliganís Island song? Thatís never leaving my head. Help! Iím trapped in a meeting with the sound of blahs and the Gilliganís Island song in my head!

18% of my laptop battery leftÖIf I keep nodding and typing purposefully people think Iím actually doing something. Lesson: type like you mean it and nod. Itíll all be okay.

7% of my laptop battery leftÖInternet! I can get to the Internet on my cell phone! The shakes are starting to ease up a little bit. But no, thatís too obvious. Keep typing like you have a purpose. Donít let anyone see that you opened up a document and titled it ďHoly Hell!Ē because it will all be over in a few minutes. Hey, wait. This meeting was supposed to be over ten minutes ago!

1% of my laptop battery leftÖwhen is this ever going to eÖ

Posted by Chris at 8:15 PM | Comments (17)

Welcome To My World

You know what they say...another day, another four hour meeting. Ok, maybe that's not exactly how the saying goes but its what I'm in for today. A few thoughts for Thursday before I feel the need to get motivated and do something once my bucket of coffee kicks in...

Headline: Insect Holds Bank Customers At Bay:Apparently, large bugs have a great amount of power over the banking industry, as I learned this morning.

Meaningless Business Concepts 101:I'd like to pull back the curtain yet again and allow you a small, painful glimpse into my world. I sat in a three hour meeting yesterday during which the following terms were used in mind-blowing, rapid succession: capability development, pattern taxonomy, business case development, community of interest, portal development, market facing materials, intellectual capital development, scoping phases, service delivery architecture delivery business leadership, market leadership teaming, lessons learned, capability working group, capability build-out areas, strategic investment support, resource allocation, social network mapping, capability maturation, security service offering, and market penetration.

Is your head spinning yet? No, chances are you think I sat through the most boring meeting ever. And you're right. The question is, do you think any of those phrases actually mean anything? Me? I'm not so sure. I just giggled when they said penetration. Sure, put me in a suit and I'll look professional, but still, I'm 12.

Close Encounters of the Crazy Client Kind:The meeting with Crazy Client went much better than expected. I actually dazzled him with a very honest answer to a hypothetical question he threw at me. While complaining about a guy who was promoted into a position of power, not because of his skills but because of his tenure (a man he referred to as being "all flash, no film"), he decided to throw me a Moral Dilemma:

CC: So, Chris? Let's say someone offered to promote you to a Senior BlahBlah (many levels over my existing level of Blah). And they'll only offer it to you once and if you refuse, you'll never make it to that level no matter what you do. What's your answer?
Me: Let's say I took it. I dont have the experience to be a Senior BlahBlah and, because of that, I'd probably do a lousy job. So I'd have to say no, in spite of the fact that the opportunity wouldn't come my way again.
CC: You're a good man. That's the best answer I could hope to hear.

The Book Club: If you commented on the "I'm Not Oprah" post, you should have received a message welcoming you to the book club. If you'd still like to participate, send me or Hudson an email and we'll add you to the mailing list. Thank you all for your participation and your patience while we try and get this thing off the ground.

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (15)

September 1, 2004

Potty Proof

Apologies for the lack of updates today. I sat through many a meeting and I took notes. Good, evil notes. But I left those at work so I'll be posting them tomorrow. Besides, I'm too braindead from a day of meetings and proposal writing and Crazy Client meeting to be witty. So, I'll just leave you with proof that the toilet I mentioned last week was successfully installed and the joke went over well.

Once discovered, the victim was confused for a long period of time - precisely what we wanted to happen.

Him: What the hell is a toilet doing in my office?
Me: Toilet? What toilet?
Him: The one in my office. That you put there!
Me: Oh, that toilet...

Everyone who walked by was very impressed. And I still have my job! So, really, it was a win-win situation for everyone involved. I refuse, however, to post the pics of him sitting on the toilet. While fully clothed, attired in suit and tie, there are just some things you don't need to see.

Posted by Chris at 7:01 PM | Comments (16)

Humpariffic?

Yesterday, I might have mentioned that I was a little bored. Sure, work got a little slow but that drastically changed yesterday afternoon when I got chosen for a team that's working on the dreaded P-word. That would be proposal. See? The government needs work to be performed and we want to do it. So we write big documents explaining how wonderful we are and why they should choose us. This is a lot like first graders standing in a gym yelling "pick me! pick me!" while teams are being formed for a dodgeball game. Except it takes longer. And is much less fun. And you dont get to throw shit at each other. And there's no naptime afterwards.

Anyway, so, I've got another proposal to work on...but to my credit I set others' expectations very low explaining that I had many other oars in the water and couldn't possibly work continuously on the effort - which is very much true.

If you're wondering where I am today, my calendar is booked - staff meetings, proposal meetings and even a meeting with Crazy Client I didn't know I had until about, well, 20 minutes ago.

Have a humpariffic Wednesday, everyone!

Posted by Chris at 7:01 AM | Comments (13)


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