December 31, 2004

2004: A Look Back

I'm jumping on the year-end meme bandwagon just like everyone else...

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
Oh, let's see...I buried a squirrel, surprised my wife with a kickass 30th birthday party, started a strict sex regimen, debated the finer points of the Gilligan's Island theme song, won a Diarist award, impersonated dead game show hosts, number threed in a cup, installed a toilet in a coworkers office, got stalked, frightened to the very core of my soul by a dental hygienist, spent the Fourth of July with refugees, saw Rufus, Guster and Ben, survived an afternoon with a psycho gardener, got to the bottom of the whole Midgetville controversy, found and removed new house-pets, and let you fine readers dress me in the morning.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year?
I don't recall making any resolutions. I think 2004 was the Year of No Resolutions. As for 2005, I'm not sure. Which means no, I think.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Nope. I was funeral-free in 2004.

5. What countries did you visit?
We were going to jet to the Riviera and dine on caviar and champagne just last October, but we decided to skip it, what with the private jet being repainted and all. So we just stayed here.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
Time, patience...oh, and a kid would be nice.

7. What dates from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
November 2, 2004...America makes an unfortunate decision.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
There's some personal kinda stuff I'm proud of...and professionally this was a good year for me. But I really can't top that Nobel Prize win. Oh wait...that wasn't me...

9. What was your biggest failure?
The failure to win said Nobel Prize...

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from the clumsy stuff I do on a daily basis and my ongoing struggle against the voices in my head, no.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well, the best think that was bought for me has to be the iPod. The best thing I bought for myself? Music.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My lovely wife for putting up with me. There should be ticker-tape parades for her.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Our illustrious president.

14. Where did most of your money go?
The Man, books, music...

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The birthday surprise party for Beth - I don't keep secrets well so that was hard, but fun. Also, the election...but not so much on the day after.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
Probably the song I played the hell out of this year - Invisible Ink by Aimee Mann.

17. Compared to this time last year,are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier
b) thinner or fatter? bout the same
c) richer or poorer? richer

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Writing

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Crack and hookers...oh, wait, that wasn't me again. Um, obsessing over work and being too critical of myself.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Oh god, don't tell me we have to do that again now!

21. Did you fall in love in 2004?
Little bit more every day.

22. How many one-night stands?
Two. I built two night stands when we redid our bedroom but why the questions about furniture?

23. What was your favorite TV program?
Lost

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Nah, hating is a waste of time.

25. What was the best book you read?
I'll be answering that question in the coming days as I put my yearly book review together.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Not the easiest question for me...I'd have to say, subject to change at any moment, The Autumns. But there were a lot of musical discoveries this year.

27. What did you want and get?
Love, understanding, forgiveness and an iPod.

28. What did you want and not get?
Well, there's still that whole kid thing...

29. What was your favorite film of this year?
In the theater, most likely Garden State. From the comfort of my own home? Man on the Train.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I spent time with family...and I turned 32.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The ability to stop time.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
I'm not even sure what that means.

33. What kept you sane?
Love, music...and drugs. The legal kind.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Tie between Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman.

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh come on...how bout the whole election?

36. Who did you miss?
My family and friends continue to surround me. As long as they're around, I don't miss anyone.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
All of you! I've met so many cool, wonderful and interesting people over the last year that I consider myself lucky.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004.
Here are a few: Time isn't constant. It speeds up as you get older. Listen to people who warn you of this and slow down every once in a while. With the right person by your side, most anything is possible. The good doesn't always prevail in the short-term, but over the long haul, they always emerge victorious. Don't dance in the kitchen. Someone will get hurt.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
From the aformentioned Invisible Ink...

What some take for magic at first glance
Is just sleight of hand depending on what you believe
Something gets lost when you translate
It's hard to keep straight
Perspective is everything

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (14)

December 30, 2004

Controversy (And Spookies)

I received a few emails yesterday about my post regarding the tsunami. A few folks took issue with my use of the word "only" when discussing the $35 million aid pledge from the US. Everyone had good points. Its true that the US is the single greatest contributor of aid in the world. I would expect nothing less. But I still maintain $35 million is stingy. This is a country that awards million dollar prizes on reality shows. A country in which lottery jackpots routinely hit the double or triple-digit million dollar marks. The District of Columbia alone will be spending in the neighborhood of $500 million just to build a stadium for its new baseball team. I think, in a country so prosperous, so eager to spread its values and principles around the globe, we should expect our government to give more. Because the message it sends if we don't is that we're perfectly happy to blow the hell out of countries we find offensive but unwilling to help those in the most need.

Links to aid organizations as well as a couple fine bloggers trying to do their parts have been placed in the right-hand menu. Please, continue to give if you can.

On a happier and less controversial note, Beth and I had a chance to hang out with two of our oldest friends...coincidentally they're married and coincidentally they met at our wedding. Its been somewhere around 15 years since we lived in the same state (hell, country at times), but it was nice catching up. Spookies rawk, man! (Scott got that...the rest of you didn't. That's perhaps subject matter for a whole other entry.)

Posted by Chris at 10:18 AM | Comments (33)

December 29, 2004

Sticky Entry: Help

This entry will stay up top for a bit. Scroll down for current goodness.

If you've watched the news in the last few days, you know that on Sunday, December 26th an 8.9 magnitude earthquake triggered what can only be described as a devistating tsunami. As of 7:00 Wednesday morning, the death toll in India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and surrounding areas has topped 67,000. The US government has pledged only $35 million in aid. Its not enough. Please take a few minutes, visit some of the sites listed below and part, if you can, with some of your hard-earned cash for The American Red Cross, OxFam America, UN World Food Programme and UNICEF

Posted by Chris at 9:59 PM | Comments (15)

It's Not All Death and Destruction

OR WHERE IS MY ZERO TOLERANCE FOR ASSHATS SHIRT WHEN I NEED IT?

This morning, as is my unfortunate and unhealthy habit, I pulled up to my local Dunkin Donuts to grab breakfast. Its like a crack addiction only not quite as harsh (crack-lite?). Anyway, it was cold (being winter, this was not a shock) so I decided I'd just pull up in front of the store instead of doing the full, formal parking thing. For the record, I never do this and I consciously thought I hate people who do this but I'm going to do it anyway because its six in the morning, its dark, there's no one here and its not like I'll be putting anyone out. So I just pulled up, making sure not to block anyone who might be walking into the store although that was unlikely because the parking lot was pretty much 28 Days Later with no one in this town so much going to work. As soon as I shifted into park, there's a knock on my window.

Hey, you know, this is a firelane and there's plenty of parking, son. You might just want to park like everyone else, the voice said. I looked over and honestly expected that there'd be a cop standing there. Nope. It was some older dude in ripped jeans, a wife-beater and a ski jacket. Before I knew what I was doing, I whatevered him and pulled into the closest space. I went in, got my coffee, ignored Concerned Citizen and headed back out. Low and behold, another car had just pulled up to the curb where I had once parked. I watched as the car's owner, a respectable looking gentleman in a military uniform, received the same lecture from our Concerned Citizen.

It's only now, through the veil of post-traumatic parking shock, that I can properly express my feelings. So here's a shout-out to my friend, Mr. Concerned Citizen:

1. I'm not your son. Not unless my mom had a serious lack of judgment with your sorry, wife beater-clad ass which I highly doubt. To my knowledge she's never spent any time in the backwoods of Appalachia and doesn't really have a thing for hillbillies.

2. Yes, its a fire lane. And I'm right up front! In the event of sudden, spontaneous donut combustion and cruller immolation fuelled by massive amounts of jelly and jimmies, I think I'll be able to move my car in time.

3. Plenty of parking? Yes. Because its six in the frigging morning. I'm pretty sure I could tapdance naked on the hood of my car while juggling toy poodles with a rose between my teeth without disturbing anyone's morning ritual.

4. What do you care? You're wearing a wife-beater in public. You've watched Cops haven't you? You know what happens to people when they venture outside their homes in wife-beaters. You are driving a Ford Tempo with approximately 37 different colors of paint and your steering wheel is held together with duct tape. I think - just a guess - you've probably got some bigger fish to fry.

Posted by Chris at 12:36 PM | Comments (18)

December 28, 2004

Audioblog: Breaking News

Yes indeedy. I've learned some very important things in the last hour. Tune in...find out.

Posted by Chris at 5:26 PM | Comments (12)

Dullsville, Man...Dullsville

Step on board the mundane train...we're heading for Dullsville! Toot toot!

Yes, if you guessed I was completely and horrifically bored you'd be correct. I've been working from home...but there really hasn't been all that much there to keep me engaged. Now I seem to have run out for the day and the cats refuse to play another hand of poker with me. Every year around this time I make the same astonishing discovery - the week between Christmas and New Year's is s-l-o-w. But the nice UPS guy just delivered a package from Amazon for me and I realized just a while ago that I've got to get my hair cut tonight. So, that'll keep me busy.

Apologies for boring the hell out of you today. I'll do my best to make sure it never happens again.

Posted by Chris at 4:06 PM | Comments (9)

Get Out of My Head!

Don't you absolutely hate it when you have The Beach Boys' "Kokomo" stuck in your head? Especially when you can't remember any of the words so you just fill in the blanks with random cities and dirty words? I hate that.

But on the plus side, I'm working from home today. There were about 10 people (and that's generous) in the office yesterday so I'm guessing I won't be missed. And I'm digging the fact that I'm sitting here in my jeans and a sweatshirt as opposed to the whole suit/tie thing...

Posted by Chris at 7:57 AM | Comments (26)

December 27, 2004

Zero Tolerance...

A while back I came up with a little phrase I liked. I'm thinking about t-shirts...a veritable "zero tolerance" revolution!




I really could have used this t-shirt yesterday. Allow me to illustrate.

The Place: The local grocery store.
The Time: Early afternoon
The Mood: Cranky. Still groggy.

The first half of the trip was uneventful. I was on-task. I was set to break some sort of grocery store land-speed record. Finished loading my cart with food for the week, I headed to the check-out lanes. As you probably know, picking a lane is a science. Luckily, there was one very close to me that didn't look all that busy. The guy checking out, while he'd bought bunches of stuff, was pretty much done. I moved in. And I was sitting pretty...for about 30 seconds. With the transaction nearly completed, he turned to the cashier.

Asshat: Those peppers you rang up for me? The price on those was wrong. You charged me $0.29 for each and the sign in the produce department says they're two for $0.29. I noticed they rang up wrong when I bought one earlier in the week.

So, that gets me thinking...why didn't this asshat tell this kind lady behind the cash register as she was ringing them up? I was all set to beat him over the head with the many available copies of The Inquirer and start pelting him with Tic Tacs when the checker nodded and seemed to take care of the problem.

With the ringing-up completed, Asshat pulls out a credit card and starts trying to swipe it at the machine thingy. Would you be really and truly shocked if I told you the card wouldn't work? Of course not. He tried several times. The checker then tried about 152 times and even the manager came over to give it a shot. Then, instead of just entering the damn card number, they shoved it inside a plastic bag and tried swiping it a few thousand more times. To no avail. The crack team of checker and manager entered the card number. Then the confusion began.

Asshat: Hmmm. Should I choose credit or debit?
Checker: Whichever works best for you.
Asshat: I just don't know. My wife would probably know.
Checker: Do you need cash back?
Asshat: No.
Checker: Then just go ahead and push 'credit'
Asshat: No, I don't think I want to do that. I want the money to come out of my checking account.
Checker: Sir, either way the money comes out of your checking account.
Asshat: No it doesn't. If I choose 'credit' I'll get a statement and have to pay it later in the month.
Checker: No, sir, that's not the way it works. You have a check card. The money comes out of the same account. You just have to use the debit option if you want money back.
Asshat: Really? I'm not sure I believe you. You promise me I won't get a credit card statment on it later?
Checker: I promise.
Asshat: Are you sure?
Checker: I am.

The pregnant pause that ensued should have ended in the delivery of a litter. I mean, the dude stood there and weighed his options for, no joke, two or three solid minutes. Then he turned around to me, apologized, then pointed at the checker and rolled his eyes as if it was her fault. He eventually, miracle of miracles, chose 'credit' after which he did something that thoroughly amazed me. He pulled out a coupon, laughed and said, "Oh, could you cancel that and let me use this coupon? My wife will kill me if I don't."

There are many lessons here. I think you can probably extrapolate for yourselves. Just remember the mantra - zero tolerance for asshats. Learn it, live it, love it.

Posted by Chris at 11:41 AM | Comments (28)

The Christmas Recap

Long weekend + posting slackage = missed stuff. But not all the missed stuff is really interesting. I mean, I was off for five days so I probably took six or seven showers. You don't want to hear about that. That would just be boring. Beth gave me guitar strings for Christmas...but you don't want to hear about me restringing two guitars and bass do you? That would be a really sucky entry. Oh...I did some last minute Christmas shopping too but that only involved standing in a big-ass line. Less-than-exciting to read about, I'd expect. So, I guess I'll just cover the good stuff...but I'll keep it brief.

Christmas Eve. Movie - Spanglish. Had potential, overall not hot. Indian restaurant. Busy but mmmm. Uncomfortably full. Home. Fire in the fireplace. Miracle on 34th Street (old, not new). Sleep.

Christmas Day. Breakfast - blueberry pancakes. Mmmmmm. Presents! Lord of the Rings, Nirvana...yay! Parents house. Food...more presents...mmmmm (the food, not the presents). Full again. Home. Crap out.

Day After Christmas. Sleep late. Breakfast. Take a nap. Grocery shopping. Stupid shoppers...we hate them! Movie at home - American Splendor. Odd. Light dinner. Extreme Makeover Home Edition. Bed.

Today. Blaring alarm. Work. Gah!

There. You're caught up. Any questions?

Posted by Chris at 10:02 AM | Comments (6)

Haiku For Monday #60

Five days since I've seen
the inside of my office.
I could have gone six.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (5)

December 26, 2004

Christmas, In Pictures

Oh, we've been so lazy the past couple of days...for instance I woke up late this morning just in time to take a nap! So really, its pretty surprising there's a post-Christmas update at all. More to follow tomorrow...

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!!

Posted by Chris at 2:24 PM | Comments (10)

December 24, 2004

Christmas Eve!

It's Christmas Eve! And if you're anything like me, depite all the advertising and the holiday decorations that were put up so early, it kinda snuck up on you. Frankly, its hard for me to believe its that time already. But it is.

Its time for jolly fat guys dressed in red to do a little breaking and entering, time for gravity-defying reindeer, time for Jimmy Stewart to run through the snow-covered streets of Bedford Falls. Its time for the annual recitation of Twas The Night Before Christmas and maybe, just maybe, you'll hear hooves on your roof tonight. Its time for mistletoe and eggnog and and endless stream of Christmas music you've heard so many times before but still enjoy. Its time for cooking, eating way too much, tearing open your gifts and watching others' faces as they open theirs. Most importantly, perhaps, its time to surround yourself with the family and friends you love.

I say it all the time but its true, you guys really and truly rock. Thank you for letting me into your homes and onto your computer screens over the last year. I'm really, honestly very thankful for that...for your emails, comments and friendship. Its been an interesting year, not all of it good. But I'm better off for your friendship.

Whether you celebrate them or not, I wish you all a very merry holiday season. I leave you, this Christmas Eve, with a little bit of holiday groove. Right click and 'save as' please.

Posted by Chris at 10:51 AM | Comments (26)

December 23, 2004

Death and Mayhem in the Tackiest Place On Earth

I'm sure Sweety will fill you in on all the details as soon as she returns home from her vacation to the States. But I'm feeling a little guilty (and, I'll admit, slightly amused) after an email I got from her yesterday. See, they're driving through California...

When Beth and I were out there a few years ago, as a goof we spent a night at possibly the tackiest place on earth. I mean, seriously. Check it out for yourself. Look at the restaurant and some of the many fine accomodations they offer. Believe me now? The room we were staying in had a wall sconce about the size of a small car and from it extended many sharp points. We were both convinced it was going to fall and kill us dead in the night. Obviously, it didn't. Anyway, I could go on about the tackiness but I think you get the idea.

So, I'd advised Sweety to cruise by the Madonna Inn when they drove through San Luis Obisbo. And they did! But they got an extra added bonus. To quote Sweety...

You funny man, you send me to the Madonna Inn on the day they discover dead bodies on their parking lot.

Its true...so says the San Luis Obisbo Tribune. To Sweety, I'm sorry about that. I had no idea there'd be dead people involved in your visit. I was thinking you'd just check out the dining rooms and bathrooms and giggle. At the same time, what says more about America to its visitors than tackiness and death?

Posted by Chris at 8:23 AM | Comments (35)

December 22, 2004

Three Hour Tour

Over dinner, apropos of nothing...

Me: You know, if they were smart, they'd have paired McGuyver and the Professor from Gilligan's Island.
Her: Strand McGuyver on the island or rescue the Professor?
Me: No, like after the castaways got rescued. After the show ended. You know, when the ratings for McGuyver started to tank. They could pretty much save the world with dental floss and a cocount.
Her: How exactly did they get rescued?
Me: Gilligan's Island? I think they built a big ass boat.
Her: And why didn't they figure that out before years passed?
Me: I think it was some cosmic kinda thing. Like the only currents that would get them where they wanted to be would happen then. Of course, I could be making that up...or I've just seen the last episode way too many times. I honestly have no idea.
Her: ...just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...
Me: ...a tale of a fateful trip...
Her: ...that started from this coastal port...
Me: Tropic port...
Her: ...tropic port aboard this tiny ship...
Me: ...the weather started getting rough the tiny ship was tossed if not for the courage of the fearless crew the minnow would be lost...the minnow would be lost...
Her: No, you forgot the part about the Skipper and Gilligan! And the three hour tour...the three hour tour.
Me: Shit. Okay....the mate was a mighty sailing man the skipper brave and sure five passengers set sail that day for a three hour tour...a three hour tour...
Her: Then the people...
Me: Yeah...Gilligan, Skipper, the millionairre and his wife, the movie star, the Professor and Mary Anne...
Her: We missed something. Isn't there something about luxuries and Robinson Crusoe?
Me: Oh, yeah! No phone, no lights no motor cars not a single luxury like Robinson Crusoe as primative as can be...as primitive as can be...
Her: That's it.
Me: Oh, dibs on blogging this.
Her: Fuck.

Posted by Chris at 8:20 PM | Comments (13)

Rapping Bout Wrapping

I'm sitting here watching TiVoed episodes of The Twilight Zone (the old black and white variety, not the newish version) while wrapping gifts. And its just struck me like a revelation of Biblical proportions - I don't like wrapping gifts. At all. I'm also not all that good at it. Sure, I can design a network for a Fortune 500 company and play a mean guitar riff but I can't wrap a piece of paper around a box to save my life.

Posted by Chris at 5:59 PM | Comments (12)

Plans for the Day Off

Finally, a day off. Despite some last minute work I had to tend to last night, I'm free!! Here's today's agenda, if you're interested...

1. Catch up on a few blogs.
2. Do my last minute Christmas shopping.
3. Continue the long quest to load much tunage into the iPod (in the queue to be ripped - Alice in Chains, Ed Harcourt, Guster, Ben Folds, Rufus Wainwright and Trashcan Sinatras).
4. Spend the $50 Amazon gift certificate I got yesterday.
5. Wrap all my Christmas presents.
6. Read.

Kind of a busy day but hey, at least it isn't work!

Posted by Chris at 9:22 AM | Comments (21)

December 21, 2004

Reasons To Flee

Reasons I need to just leave now and embark upon my five day weekend:

- Its freakin' cold in here. I lost contact with my legs hours ago.

- The fool outside my door who's been talking about nothing but football stats for the last half hour.

- The other guy down the hallway who's on the phone talking about a "dip" in his driveway. Could he perhaps be discussing himself?

- My slight attitude problem with respect to work this week.

- Problems? Fixed. Status? Bored.

- Driveway Dip has moved on to his broken dishwasher. Lots of talk about cut-off valves and wiring. Oh...breaking news: he's having a plumber come over to take a look. You'll also be happy to know he's cooking a beef tenderloin for Christmas. He seems a little concerned about this development since he's never prepared one before. But he is cooking it with parsley, breadcrumbs and bacon. After cutting it down the middle and stuffing it with something. Then tying it back up. And in case you were curious, last night was his wife's birthday so they went out to dinner. Turkish food, I believe. Oh, the results of the blood test were good too, in case you were concerned. Cholesterol is a bit high but nothing to be too concerned about. By the way, "Whiskers" is a chewer. Chews all kinds of stuff in the house. Don't suppose Whiskers is his wife, do you?

You can't make this stuff up, people...

Posted by Chris at 3:47 PM | Comments (21)

T Minus...

...eight or nine, but hopefully not ten, hours until my ass is out of here for five days. Hopefully? No asshats or penguin fluffers today. Oh, and lest you be concerned, I will be blogging during my time off...just not working.

Posted by Chris at 7:43 AM | Comments (16)

December 20, 2004

Cold Penguin Fluffing

I'm not sure if I prefer my chestnuts roasting on an open fire or jack frost nipping at my nose...but its still really cold.

In other news, I managed to survive all my meetings. But it was a near thing. I think people seem more stupid when you're geared up for taking a few days off. Zero tolerance for asshats is my rule this week. For example, lets take the person I almost yelled at this afternoon. We'll call her Maurice, for Maurice is a very unfortunate name for a woman, and she seems to be a very unfortunate woman.

Maurice and I had a very long conversation on Friday...all about a process I've helped put in place for one particular client. Let's call it fluffing the penguin, because it, like the conversation, is silly...and it sounds vaguely dirty. We talked all about fluffing the penguin. We talked about the need for penguin fluffing, correct penguin fluffing techniques and the existing penguin fluffing process. This afternoon I, among many others, received an email that stated, in part, "we understand there's a need to fluff the penguin for this particular client and there's no set penguin fluffing process in place. We'd like your penguin fluffing expertise to help design a fluffing process for this particular penguin." Exactly what part of I've already fluffed the penguin did she not understand?

Posted by Chris at 5:29 PM | Comments (16)

Whirlwind and Windchill

I have a number of things going on today, all of them meetings. Yes, I seem to have managed to schedule four meetings back to back starting at 9:30. This, my friends, sucks. At least I only have a two day week! But still? That whole meeting thing sucks. So, allow me to catch you up on a few things before I depart...

Last night, we had a little family get-together. When I say little, I mean big. My inlaws are flying out to the West coast for the holidays so we did a little early Christmas thing. The evening started off weird. We had a snow-thunderstorm. It was seriously wild. Then it got insanely cold. Then my extended football and money-obsessed in-laws (the family of my brother-in-law's wife) arrived and it got colder. Regardless, much fun and food was had by all.

Sometime overnight, the greater Washington DC metro area was moved to the North Pole. While we're now closer to Santa, its also effing cold. When I woke up to feed the cats this morning (dressed in my pjs and a t-shirt which was hardly adequate) I checked the outside temperature. It said 8. Just 8. And the windchill is below zero.

So, I'm off to meetings. But first, to smoke a cigarette. Because I'm stupid and addicted like that (until the New Year, that is...that's quitting time). If you don't hear from me by this afternoon, please send a search party. I might be frozen in front of the building a la Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining.

Posted by Chris at 9:13 AM | Comments (23)

Haiku For Monday #59

Two day week for me
but its effing cold, like eight
degress...plus windchill.

Posted by Chris at 6:47 AM | Comments (6)

December 19, 2004

Thank You

2004q3-overall.jpg
The Diarist award results are in and apparently you guys worked some kind of voting magic. I won! Look, I won't pretend that I have a clue as to why this little site of mine is at all popular or has any readers whatsoever. But I do have a lot of fun doing this...and even more than that, I've met some wonderful friends. Thanks to everyone who voted for me. More importantly, thanks to visitors old and new, those who comment, those who lurk, those who've stuck with me over the years or just found the site yesterday. You all, as I have said 2,394,750 times before, rock!
Posted by Chris at 7:52 AM | Comments (55)

December 18, 2004

iPod Update

This is going to take a little while. I'm now up to 3,406 songs, 11 days, and over 14 GB of music on the iPod. Or, less than half full. But in my quest to fill this thing, I've discovered (and rediscovered) some excellent tunage.

Say Anything...Say Anything is a Real Boy
Its rock, its alternative, its emo...its a little bit of everything. But the album's strength comes from the brilliant writing. Its crude, its funny but above all, its smart. I don't think these guys will have the benefit of flying under the radar for too much longer. You can't ignore a band this good and this original.

The Autumns...The Autumns
Combine the more sensitive and dramatic sides of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev and add a vocalist with Jeff Buckley-like power. Shake well...and you end up with The Autumns.

Elbow...Cast of Thousands
Ever wonder what the 1970's Genesis lineup would sound like if they got back together and went back to basics? Ok, probably not. But I do. Like, if they stripped out all the cheesy synthesizers and just went old-school with a piano and a mellotron. And they stopped with the slick production? Elbow is your answer. With a Peter Gabriel-like vocalist and instrumentation that, while progressive, doesn't wander all over the place (yet is still capable of producing surprises), Elbow is a unique band. It took me a while to warm up to this, their latest, but its a magnificent album.

Secret Machines...Now Here Is Nowhere
This three-piece stradles the line between alternative and straightforward rock. The opener, First Wave Intact, sounds like something out of the vintage Zeppelin playbook, yet they're clearly capable of achieving a quiet, delicate sound as well. Its different...and something that definitely will continue to be interesting even after the first few listens.

Posted by Chris at 9:56 AM | Comments (8)

December 17, 2004

Ass Clarification

I'm aware that there was no obviously visible ass in the previous post. That's due to the fact that the picture was taken with a camera-phone through two windows. Hell, I'm impressed it turned out as well as it did. You'll just have to take my word for it - bare ass all the way.

Posted by Chris at 5:51 PM | Comments (11)

Dress Appropriately For The Holidays

In an effort to keep work details out of here, I won't really go into the recent holiday shindig (this hopefully marks the first and last appearance of the word "shindig" on RudeCactus). I will say that it was completely over the top. Chocolate fountains? Caviar? Multiple stages with live acts? Sushi bar? It rocked. But there was an interesting lesson I took from all of this...

See, a few of us were walking around and we happened to look out one window and into another. Seated against the window was a bartender. Pressed up against the window, was her bare ass. We didn't just catch ass-crack...we got full-on ass.




While I'm afraid the camera-phone shot just doesn't do it justice, I think this serves as a warning to all. Dress appropriately for all your holiday gatherings. And if you must allow your bare ass to hang out, make sure you've got an actual wall behind you. Please.

Posted by Chris at 12:20 PM | Comments (10)

Another Week Down

Good morning and happy Friday, world! Has it been a crazy week for everyone or just me?

I'm home - I've got a meeting this morning and then I'll be in the office. Being at work today could actually be fun. We had our holiday party last night so I get to see how hung over everyone is and who hooked up with whom. The party itself? Insane. For instance, they served caviar for 6,000...and there were fountains of chocolate. Ahhh, Xanadu!

Hope you all have a great Friday morning. Cactus out!

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (10)

December 16, 2004

Victim of the Meme

Original content is highly overrated. At least, I think it is when I'm not yet completely awake and the coffee has yet to actuallyl kick in. So, I hope this entertains you for a few minutes. Its the thought that counts, right?

Three Names You Go By:
1. Chris (duh)
2. BooBoo (a privilege only my wife has)
3. Cactus

Three Screennames You Have:
1. rudecactus (AIM)
2. rudecactus (Yahoo)
3. hotstud4u

Three Things You Like About Yourself:
1. i like to think I'm an all-around nice guy
2. successful despite my paranoia
3. marginal guitar skillz

Three Things You Dislike About Yourself:
1. i can be a real pain in the ass
2. paranoid despite my success
3. OCD tendencies

Three Parts of Your Heritage:
1. mom
2. dad
3. grandma

Three Things That Scare You:
1. spiders
2. heights
3. the startling success of Paris Hilton

Three of Your Everyday Essentials
1. coffee
2. music
3. more coffee

Three Things You Are Wearing Right Now:
1. button down shirt
2. tie
3. pants (I think...yes...yes, pants.)

Three of Your Favorite Bands/Artists (at the moment):
1. the autumns
2. elbow
3. aimee mann

Three of Your Favorite Songs at Present:
1. caramel (suzanne vega)
2. hush plain girls (the autumns)
3. break me gently (doves)

Three New Things You Want to Try in the Next 12 Months:
1. sleep would be nice
2. stop smoking again
3. write the great American novel

Three Things You Want in a Relationship (love is a given):
1. understanding
2. trust
3. presents!

Two Truths and a Lie:
1. i'm actually a midget height-challenged former circus performer named Gustavo.
2. i'm a vegetarian.
3. i've never been to Zimbabwe.

Three Physical Things About the Opposite Sex (or same) That Appeal to You:
1. eyes
2. smile
3. ass. hey, you asked...kinda

Three Things You Just Can’t Do:
1. fly without my jetpack
2. stop time
3. vote Republican

Three of Your Favorite Hobbies:
1. music (to include listening to and playing of)
2. duh...blogging
3. developing my superhero alter-ego

Three Things You Want to do Really Badly Right Now:
1. more coffee
2. sleep
3. flee the building and collapse on my couch (okay, that was two)

Three Careers You’re Considering:
1. rockstar/superhero
2. professional slacker
3. teacher

Three Places You Want to Go on Vacation:
1. well, I haven't been to Zimbabwe...
2. anywhere tropical
3. some other place that's tropical

Three Kids Names:
1. zoltar
2. anything with "The Great" after it
3. 007

Three Things You Want to Do Before You Die:
1. preferably live a long life
2. teach kids
3. form a band and tour the world

Note: For the record, the hotstud4u thing? Yeah, that's a joke.

Posted by Chris at 11:59 AM | Comments (17)

December 15, 2004

Brain Fart

Taken from an actual, real-life voice mail message I left in my manic wake five minutes ago. Some information has been sanitized for your protection...

Hi, this is Chris Smithson, Jr, III from the Bermuda office. I wanted to let you know that you're responsible for reporting your information by 4:00 this afternoon. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached at 555...

....

....

...555-5555. Yes. Hello. I'm sorry. I seem to have forgotten my own phone number. Goodbye.

Posted by Chris at 1:10 PM | Comments (26)

Letters From The Edge: RollNite

RollNite Lighter People
Address Unknown. Probably China

Dear RollNite Lighter People:

Excuse me for getting fired up but...you evil bastards!

This morning on the way to work, I found myself without a functioning lighter. So, I pulled into my local gas station, marched myself up to the counter and plucked a nice purple lighter (my wife's favorite color) from the lovely, colorful display of flammable goodness. $1.35 later, I got back in my car and headed up the long road to work.

It was only when I actually needed the lighter a few minutes later that I ran into problems. You see, the little wheel thingy that turns and causes all the mad sparking action thus igniting the gas...well, it was perfectly smooth. The side effect of this is that my thumb was able to gain no traction whatsoever. So? No sparks! And after trying it several dozen times, I was left with only a very sore thumb. I used one of the last matches I own instead.

Imagine my surprise when I got into work this morning and discovered that the Canadians have confiscated all your lighters for safety reasons. Americans, well, with all the gunplay on the streets, I guess authorities here figure rogue lighters are the least of our problems. And, admittedly if we're lighting up a cigarette we're sort of taking our lives in our own hands anyway. But its the last line of some of the consumer notices that's getting me. "Its still not known who is importing them."

So, who are you RollNite people? Are you, perhaps, a company wholly owned by household pets united under the banner of "if we don't have thumbs, yours might as well hurt like a bitch?" Or are you funded by the anti-tobacco people, trying to flood the market with unusable lighters? I'll tell you right now, smokers are determined people. We'll rub two sticks together for five hours if it means getting a nicotine fix. The most desperate smoker will wait outside in a thunderstorm, protecting his cigarette from the rain in the hopes that he gets struck by lightning and is left with just enough life to enjoy a drag or two. Or are you aliens? Maybe the whole transport-humans-to-the-mothership experiments are over and now you're trying to test our problem solving skills?

No matter who (or what) you are, you have $1.35 of my hard earned cash and I'm not happy about that. I mean, really, the $1.35 isn't going to make or break me. But think about all the crackheads out there who might not be so quick to part with that kind of money. Think about the 15 year olds setting off M80s in high school bathrooms. Think about the petty arsonists just trying to get their pyromaniacal fix and, possibly, cash in on an insurance policy. Think about the little people.

Posted by Chris at 7:36 AM | Comments (18)

December 14, 2004

Tuesday Turbulence

...BUT STILL BETTER THAN MONDAY -or-
I SURE HAVE USED THE WORD "SUCK" A LOT LATELY

Have you ever dealt with truly incompetent people? Of course you have. I've dealt with a myriad veritable plethora lot of them today. Their intentions were good but it was still frustrating. Although it gave me a chance to do my damnit Jim, pull yourself together man routine a few times (this came as a shock, since this person was neither a man nor named Jim). But really...at what point do you justifiably turn to someone and say you know, you're a nice person and all but you really truly suck at this?

Posted by Chris at 4:28 PM | Comments (17)

Christmas and Taser Guns

Good morning, oh people of the Internet! First things first - today will be better than yesterday. Repeat it with me. Today will be better than yesterday. Everybody! Today will be better than yesterday.

Now, I fully realize that I've been ignoring my blogroll for way too long. In my line of work we have an acronym for that. Hell, we have an acronym for everything. OBE...overtaken by events. I plan on returning to full blogging duties today...unless all hell breaks loose. But first, I'd like to say a word or two about Christmas shopping.

Have I expressed how much I hate Christmas shopping? I love giving gifts, don't get me wrong. Its the acquisition of said gifts that I don't enjoy.

I'd love to avoid having to traipse through stores and deal with stupid people. I'd love to avoid clocking 16 year-old "sales associates" in the head with a copy of the latest bestseller I picked up for Aunt Ethel. Although I don't have an Aunt Ethel. But I'd still like to smack that blue shirt-wearing kid in Best Buy who came up to me approximately 2,593 times to ask if there was anything I needed. Please go back to smoking pot behind the store. There are CDs and DVDs here. I see something I like? I pick it up. This is not a complicated process. More than anything else, I dislike people who can't operate a shopping cart. These are the geniuses who stop...right in front of you. Just stop. And in some cases, leave their carts there blocking the aisle. This is why I need weaponry. I need to be able to Taser their asses when they pull crap like that. Clean-up on aisle three. Man down, man down! And as much as I respect the contributions of older members of society, get the hell out of my way!

So, I'd really be able to save some precious sanity were I able to hand craft all my Christmas gifts. Sadly, I have no appreciable talents on which I can capitalize for Christmas gift production. I could take a nice picture, print it out and frame it. I did that once already. I can knit. But I can only knit square things. And they're not knit well enough to pass as pot holders. I can draw. But I can really only draw cartoonish faces. I could burn mix CDs for everyone but you all know how long it takes me to get around to doing that. It would be June before anyone actually got Christmas gifts from me. I could write Christmas haikuage but I think that would probably be lost on a lot of people.

I guess, overall, its probably better that I just shop like normal people. But don't be surprised when I leave a trail of writhing shoppers and pimple-faced "sales associates" in my wake.

Posted by Chris at 9:40 AM | Comments (27)

December 13, 2004

Still Monday, Still Kinda Sucky

Okay, okay. Mea culpa. So, I mentioned earlier that there was a 'technical glitch' and thereby dodged some of the blame for my own failings. Its true but some of its also my fault. But frankly, when your boss (X5) has just left your office, you'll tend to do a little bit of justifying in your own head.

After we last spoke, I headed to Maryland for a long meeting with a client who couldn't quite articulate the exact nature of their problems. This was fine because I? Simulated the English language but not convincingly, much like that 'diamondoid' you saw on the home shopping channel. It reminds you of a diamond yet remains unsatisfying. Somehow there was a complete disconnect between my brain and my mouth all damn day, in which I knew what I wanted to say, got half of if out of my mouth and then seemingly decided to rethink the whole thing. That's okay...I was doing a lot of thinking. Allow me to illustrate several of the conversations I had with myself.

Conversation One
Me: Hey, why the hell is this Enter key doing nothing?
Me: Well, buster, probably because that's the Shift key you've been hitting for the last, oh, twenty minutes.
Me: No I wasn't.
Me: Yes you were...

Conversation Two
Me: Locked door. Imagine that.
Me: You know what would make this "getting into your office" thing a little easier?
Me: My badge? Oh! Good idea! Where's my badge?
Me: Last I saw it, it was in your office.
Me: Dumbass.
Me: Who you calling a dumbass?

Conversation Three
Me: "As I was saying, in order to..."
Me: What's the word I'm looking for? The one that means "mitigate."
Me: Um...how bout "mitigate"?
Me: Genius!
Me: "...mitigate these problems..."

Allow me to conclude my rambling post (apparently my fingers have somehow succumbed to that whole brain-mouth issue) by saying what you're all thinking. Mondays? They suck. Big donkey balls. Big hairy donkey balls with ass on the side...

Posted by Chris at 5:35 PM | Comments (15)

Its 9:44 And Monday Already Sucks

OR TWO REASONS WHY TODAY BITES

Reason One
I thought it was going to be a quiet day. I woke up this morning and muttered something like, maybe this will be the week it gets nice and quiet. Yeah. Not so much. Guess who's going to be on a client site all day? That would be me.

Reason Two
Through some technical glitch, a report that I basically have to have in at the end of every day didn't exactly get reported correctly. Everyone has to do it. I looked uber-negligent. So the Big Boss comes into my office this morning and shuts the door to have a little chat. Luckily I think he believed my side of the story and he's hoping to get to the bottom of it. Which I hope helps my side more than it hurts it. Then, as he was leaving, I thanked him and called him the wrong name. Sure, it was a matter of one consonant. But still. I feel like an idiot.

I'd love to crawl back into bed but I don't see that happening. No, I have to pull my shit together and try to seem somewhat competent the rest of the day. Wish me luck with that.

Posted by Chris at 9:51 AM | Comments (21)

Haiku For Monday #58

I take one day off
Yet get enough email for
Ten work days. Sheesh, yo!

Posted by Chris at 7:26 AM | Comments (5)

December 12, 2004

Behind The Times

I'm still having a hard time realizing that Christmas is right around the corner.
Posted by Chris at 3:29 PM | Comments (20)

December 11, 2004

T-Shirts and Shopping

Wanna turn a couple heads? Wear this shirt and see what happens. I was out doing a little Christmas shopping and it was interesting to see reactions...not that I really care. To each his/her own...

Also? Christmas shopping almost officially done. Yay!! Now we're headed to our local Indian place...

Posted by Chris at 5:17 PM | Comments (18)

December 10, 2004

iDAY

As I mentioned earlier today, I managed to take the day off (finally!). So what am I doing with the time? Well, duh, I'm playing with my iPod.

All this is complicated by the fact that I've got a bunch of stuff ripped to my computer in different formats...so those have to be converted. And I keep thinking of stuff I've got to have on the iPod...after which I sprint downstairs to grab a handful of CDs to rip. Then there's the fact that some of the imported stuff isn't labeled correctly and I'm super-anal about that. So, really, I might not be at work but I am kinda working.

Its a cold, rainy day here in Virginia and I'm thinking of a change of venue...namely the couch with a book. Its just that kinda day.

Posted by Chris at 1:07 PM | Comments (25)

Friday!

Guess who's taking the day off. Me!!

That is all. Have a great Friday everyone! I'll be back with something intelligent to say later.

Posted by Chris at 7:09 AM | Comments (18)

December 9, 2004

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That

Background (part one): The floor on which I work is divided into two distinct sections with different entrances. We all work for the same company but there's this little, exclusive group of people in their own little corner that do things about which we dare not ask. Who knows, they probably play Yatzee all day.

Background (part two): My officemate (OM, here, for brevity) is a Republican and very conservative on all issues social. Despite this, we get along wonderfully. But its fun, sometimes, to freak her out. I get immense pleasure from this.

A couple of months ago, this guy stopped by our office to talk to OM about some company event thingy. I wasn't paying attention. He's one of those good-looking model-type guys. But not good-looking in a rugged, manly kinda way. He's more effeminate than anything. After he left, OM and I were headed out of the office to catch an elevator. I inquired just who this pretty boy was. I'm sure we sounded like two junior high girls.

Me: Who was that?
OM: Oh, a guy who's doing this event thing with me.
Me: He's pretty.
OM: What?
Me: He's pretty. He's a pretty boy.
OM: What, you want to date him or something?
Me: Hell no. Married and straight, remember. But you want to, don't you?
OM: Why would I want to do that?
Me: He's pretty. Oh so pretty. That's one pretty man!

What I didn't realize is that a guy from that other part of the office was standing right there. He looked at me a little funny, smiled and shook his head. To which I responded, "You didn't see him. He was pretty!"

Now, yesterday OM and I were talking. Somehow, the word "boyfriend" became code for the employees who work for us, probably because we have the nosiest office neighbor and didn't want her to know exactly who we were talking about. On our way out to the elevator...

Me: So, how's your boyfriend doing with that new project?
OM: Good! And how's your boyfriend?
Me: Dreamy. He's awesome but of course he's working off-site so I never get to see him.
OM: Does that make you sad?
Me: Yes. I miss my boyfriend!

You wanna take a guess who happened to be standing behind me? Ever since that first incident, that dude's been eyeing me funny in the bathroom. It doesn't help that we seem to be on the same peeing schedule so I run into him all the damn time. Today I'm planning on beginning a campaign to turn this ship around. A few strategically placed comments should do the trick:

"How bout those Redskins?"
"Last time I went hunting, I had to wrestle three black bears to the ground with one arm, while I dropped a 10-point buck with the other."
"I was looking through my latest copy of Juggs and saw an interesting article about carburetors."
"Any plans for the weekend? I'm gonna hit a strip club and get me some hookers! Female hookers!"

Or I could just say screw it and seal the deal by dropping "nice ass, sugar" next time we happen to run into each other.

Posted by Chris at 9:45 AM | Comments (36)

December 8, 2004

Simple Steps To Avoiding Kitchen Injury

They say, well at least I say, that most accidents happen in the home. Most of those probably happen in the kitchen. Here are some simple, highly theoretical injury-avoidance techniques for use in the kitchen.

Step One: Do not, under any circumstances, put an oven mitt on your head.

Step Two: Should you find yourself with an oven mitt on your head, do not attempt to launch it across the room at your wife.

Step Three: Should steps one and two prove impossible to prevent, stand well away from kitchen drawers and cabinets.

Step Four: If karma finally catches up with you and you find yourself in such a quandary, don't wear baggy clothing. This includes untucked shirts or pants with pockets.

If, again theoretically, you're unable to stop the momentum of these four admittedly bizarre things from unfolding, be aware of what might happen. Hypothetically, one's untucked shirt and/or pants may become entangled on the drawer/cabinet handles. This will result in a near gravity-defying combination of things. There may be, for instance, immediate drawer/cabinet openage. In addition, the occupant of aforementioned clothing may find him or herself hanging from kitchen cabinetry. This, for the record, will prove at once loud, confusing and quite painful. There could exist significant damage to one's person and cabinet hardware.

As my wife said, "you should know not to play in the kitchen. Someone always gets hurt. And that someone's you." She was, of course, speaking hypothetically.

Posted by Chris at 7:30 PM | Comments (19)

Remember Me?

Hi. Chris here. Don't know if you remember me or not but work's been kicking my ass all day. And it still is. I'm alive though...devoid of anything interesting to say but alive! That's something, right?

Posted by Chris at 3:49 PM | Comments (8)

Man Walks Into An Office...

No, that's not the opening line to a joke. I walked into work today and was immediately assaulted by the voluminous amount of stuff I've got to do today. I feel violated.

Posted by Chris at 8:18 AM | Comments (13)

December 7, 2004

Head Honcho (Redux)

The meeting with the Big Boss is over. It went mighty fine, I think. So, that's over (until next quarter) as is my work day (until, well, tomorrow). Normally this is a nice, quiet time of year for consultants such as myself. But, while yesterday was pretty much the pinnacle (or nadir, or zenith, if you will) of boredom, today was just flat crazy. My apologies if I haven't visited you in a while.

So what's new with you?

Posted by Chris at 5:38 PM | Comments (19)

Head Honcho

T-minus 35 minutes until I meet with the Big Boss and discuss all the projects I've been leading over the last year.

Reminders to self:
-Spit out gum
-Straighten tie
-Roll down shirtsleeves
-Avoid gratuitous any use of the f-bomb
-Do not address boss as "dude" again

Wish me luck...

Posted by Chris at 2:31 PM | Comments (14)

Post-College Post-Traumatic Dreaming Disorder

How long have I been out of school? Seven or eight years? Then why, precisely, am I still having nightmares about college?

Background: Chris' Startling Insight Into Education
Let me back up a second. I wasn't an exceptional student. That's a pretty applicable statement whether I'm talking about elementary school, college or anything in between. Frankly, I was bored most of the time. I mean, I think I was learning stuff but I didn't really feel like anyone was telling me anything I didn't already know. (Yes, I know they were now but that didn't help then.) And I didn't always see the importance. I initially began my education in a private school and the only thing they really taught me was how to memorize then regurgitate Bible verses. Oh, and that my family was somehow inferior since we didn't go to church. Oh, and that racism can be fun and educational too. By the time I got my parents to pull me out of that slice of hell, I was in the fifth grade and didn't know what a fraction was. Then there was the rest of my illustrious school career. Why, for instance, would I ever need algebra? Have I used algebra since I last took it? Nope. Do I ever diagram sentences? Well, yes, I do but that's only because me done be a grammar freak ;-)

Cactus Goes To College
Anyway, where was I? College. Yeah, so in college I skipped a lot of classes. I mean a lot. Despite that, I ended up with a 3.0 so they couldn't have been too important. Plus I had some serious drinking to do. And sleeping...or not sleeping as the case may be. But I graduated, I did okay, and I'm a reasonably smart person. It could have been worse. Take the case of my friend Brian. He never went to class, drank way too much Malibu (seriously, dont) and ended up with a 0.64 GPA at the end of his freshman year. Still, the whole skipping class thing had some sort of psychological impact because I'm still dreaming about it.

Dreaming 101: An Intro To Post-College Paranoia
Last night's dream was a classic, one that I'm sure everyone has. I'm sitting in my room or apartment or whatever and someone (it was my officemate, in real life) tells me that its time to go take a final...and I've never heard of the class. I've never been in the classroom. I've never once met the professor. So, I get there, take a seat and the professor starts clarifying some of the test questions and its shit that doesn't even come close to making sense. Then I bullshit the entire test which largely consists of short essays. I'm not sure what happens because, at the exact instant I've reached the most problematic question and consider chucking the whole thing and walking out, I wake up.

For the record, this never happened to me. Sure, I didn't see the inside of some classrooms for weeks on end but I was always marginally prepared for finals. Yet, this is one of the reasons, when people ask me if I'm going to grad school anytime soon, I say "hell no!" Can you imagine what would happen if I did? I'd be dreaming about this shit until I'm 80. I don't need that. Higher education? Done!

Posted by Chris at 8:50 AM | Comments (15)

December 6, 2004

Letters From The Edge: ABC

Salutations ABC Honchos,

Hullo and bully to you, fine gentlemen, on the smashing success of your show Lost! I'm a dedicated (and apparently British) fan. However, I must say you certainly have my bangers and mash in a twist over your scheduling of this fine entertainment feast.

Aside from being a Lost fan, and British, I'm a proud TiVo owner. I love my TiVo much like my father loved Churchill (our terrier, not Winston...my father was rather fond of Benjamin Disraeli, but that's neither here nor there). And while I'm rather fond of Lost, I also have an affection for West Wing which airs on another station directly after Lost. Ahh, I love seeing the fictional machinations of the American government at work! Yet, because of your deceptive scheduling practices, I'm unable to record both shows! Why must you end Lost at 9:01? For that reason, and that reason alone I think you are all silly twits and I shall point at you and call you "Edna."

What used to take two clicks of a button, dear Edna, now requires elaborate timing and at least two doctoral degrees or just a very large brain. I have none of these things.

Admittedly, I don't watch your network that often, Edna. No, I prefer instead to gaze upon Girls Gone Wild Masterpiece Theater and laugh at the hilarity that ensues when Mrs. Slocombe gets her knickers in a twist on Are You Being Served. I do, however, enjoy Peter Jennings, eh. And I thought returning James T. Kirk to the telly was a winning move...Kahn!! Your Extreme Makeover: Flat Home Edition makes me tear up with glorious joy but Desperate Housewives is lost on me. This might have something to do with the fact that, while I am quite desperate, I'm not a housewife. The Queen's excrement is more worthy of attention than Hope & Faith and that Benefactor thing sure didn't work out for you, now did it? You did have my interest with Wife Swap until I realized it wasn't what it sounded like.

I ask you, kind people of the ABC Broadcasting Network, set my TiVo free! Allow it to surf the happy waves of friendly broadcasting and retrieve the fine shows I hold so dear. As kids would say these days, "You bitches got some madcore shizzle up in that tube, Edna, but you don't get that scheduling straight, someone gonna raging bull your lame-ass padonka donks, yo."

Respectfully,
Chris Cactus

Posted by Chris at 3:54 PM | Comments (18)

Birthday Weekend Recap

Before I get into the whole weekend-summarizing thing, I need to say a hearthy, enthusiastic and very bombastic thank you to all of you who commented or emailed such kind birthday wishes. I tell you "you rock" often. Just for a chage, I'll say that you're all uber-nifty.

Friday night? I was plumb tuckered out (and obviously quite Southern). We had a nice, low-key evening complete with carry-out from our favorite local Thai place, our friend TiVo, and Lindsay Lohan. Lindsay says hi.

I think Saturday, at least most of it, was adequately summarized however Beth and I did go out and have a nice pre-birthday dinner. Apparently I was still feeling a little Southern - I had a wonderful meal of blackened catfish and jalapeno polenta. Sometimes I miss living in the South.

That leads to Sunday...the day my mom, being unable to wait for the hospital elevator, ran up four flights of stairs and gave birth to me in 20 minutes. Really, I've been pretty punctual ever since. Beth made a wonderful breakfast (blueberry pancakes!) and then handed me my gifts. For future reference? iPods rock are uber-nifty. As is my brand-spankin' new "American Psycho" t-shirt. After playing with afformentioned uber-nifty iPod for a large portion of the day, Beth and I headed to my parents for dinner, along with my in-laws and my great uncle and his wife. It was an odd (but good) evening.

First, my mom decided that, instead of turning 32, I was turning 3+2. The theme for the party? SpongeBob. Why? Its unclear. I didn't ask. Then there was my great uncle's wife (lets call him Sid and her Nancy for convenience) who's really not all there. She's not even mostly there. Proof:

MIL: And how's your brother? How old is he?
Nancy: He's 95. And he's never married.
MIL: I thought he was married to a Japanese lady.
Sid: Let's not go there.
Nancy: Japanese lady? No. He was dating a girl once but she wanted to get married and he had to finish his law degree. I have a Japanese maid!
Sid: She's from El Salvador.
Me: Is that north or south of Hokkaido?

Nancy's brother is married to a Japanese woman and has been for about 15 years.

And I think I ate something odd. Not bad-odd, but strange-odd. I had dreams last night that I was hanging out with Roger Moore, Lee Marvin, Tony Curtis and a host of other celebrities. Then I became Roger Moore and realized that my two front teeth were false.

Aside from the oddities, I received some wonderful presents, had a great meal and spent quality time with some of the people I most love in the world. I have no complaints. I'm a 32 year-old, all-around happy dude.

Posted by Chris at 10:07 AM | Comments (22)

Haiku For Monday #57

The post-birthday buzz
wears off fast when you're up at
five to head to work.

Posted by Chris at 6:53 AM | Comments (11)

December 5, 2004

Thirty Two

Today I am thirty two years old. That seems like a lotta years to me. But thanks to my lovely wife, I won't be thinking too much about it while I'm spending quality time with my new iPod!



Posted by Chris at 11:18 AM | Comments (68)

December 4, 2004

12-Step Saturday

1. Woke up. Complete awakening only accomplished with coffee and donuts. Yay donuts.
2.Wandered around Best Buy. Emerged having spent no money. Took temperature. Am fine.
3. Went to local music store. Checked out $2000 Gibson Les Paul. All I needed were strings. Left with nothing. Took temperature again. Still fine.
4. Got Christmas tree. Liked first one we saw and bought it. Odd. Usually takes longer.
5. Brought said tree into house. No hernia. No tree-related deaths or injuries.
6. Went shopping at Borders. Bought books. Hello, my name is Chris and I have a problem.
7. Saw The Incredibles. Verdict? Incredible. Go see, please. You'll like it. Really.
8. Called my mom. Said "uh-huh" alot without paying attention. Hope I didn't agree to, well, anything.
9. Played guitar really loud. Made cool, strange sounds. Sure neighbors wonder "who stepped on a cat?"
10. Took shower. Smell better now.
11. Cut myself shaving...ouch. Will live.
12. Booted up laptop. Typed entry. You're caught up.

Posted by Chris at 6:13 PM | Comments (17)

December 3, 2004

Music, Memories

Its late(ish) and I've put a tired Beth to bed. Despite my busy day, I'm moderately awake and I've found myself enconsed in my music room, surrounded by so many memories. Since I lamented the devise of music journalism and touted the virtues of music as some memory filing system, I figured I'd pull out a few important albums and give them a spin...

The Album: Surfing With The Alien
The Artist: Joe Satriani
While I'd been into music long before I discovered Satriani, it was Surfing With The Alien that proved to me, and a lot of other people, that guitar instrumental recordings weren't territory only for new age musicians. Satriani's album showed guitarists that they didn't necessarily have to be there only in supporting roles or for thirty-second guitar solos before the last chorus of some hard rock song. No, Satriani crafted an album of nothing but guitar solos. And while some of the musicianship sounds a little dated now, seventeen years later, the songs hold up. There's a beauty to "Always With Me, Always With You" that's rarely been surpassed to this day. And it taught me something important - I might not be able to sing worth a damn but I can let a guitar be my voice.

The Album: Rage For Order
The Artist: Queensryche
I'd already become a fan with Operation: Mindcrime. Geoff Tate's vocals were amazing and I was into that whole metal scene at the time. Rage For Order proved to be hook-driven metal but the real importance of the album wouldn't really be revealed until, well, now and times like now. In high school, I had a group of very close friends. We'd hang out, smoke cigarettes, drive all the Virginia backroads and blast music. One of the songs we loved the most was "I Will Remember." I look at the lyrics now and realize how cheesy there were. But that really doesn't matter. In an instant, that song became our song, something that somehow symbolized our friendship, something that, fifteen years later transports me to those Virginia backroads traveled in summer any time I lay it into my CD player.

The Album: Joshua Tree
The Artist: U2
Like half the world, I caught onto U2 when Joshua Tree came out in 1987. I was 15 and idealistic. And what idealistic 15 year old wouldn't pick up on the anthems of "Where The Streets Have No Name," the opening chords of which still send chills up and down my spine? Who couldn't sympathize with the lonliness containted in "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" or the anger of "Bullet The Blue Sky"? Joshua Tree not only taught me names like Bono and The Edge but introduced me to the finest producers in the music industry - names like Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite and the genius Daniel Lanois. It remains their finest work. It also remains one of the best and most important albums made.

The Album: Temple of the Dog
The Artist: Temple of the Dog
When Andy Wood, lead singer of Mother Love Bone, died, he left behind some great music and a lot of fans, some of whom were former band mates and musicians. Among them were Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron (of Soundgarden), Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard (of Mother Love Bone) and newcomers Eddie Vedder and Mike McCready. Cornell penned a pair of songs, "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down," and recorded them with help from this hybrid band. Then they wrote a few more songs and it took on a life of its own. Of course, Chris and Matt would go back to Soundgarden. Stone, Jeff, Mike and Eddie would form Pearl Jam and the rest is, really, history. But Temple of the Dog left behind such a wonderful memento of their time together and their love of Wood and his music. It was this music that pushed me even deeper into music and opened my eyes to the many forms it can take.

The Album: The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
The Artist: Genesis
I take occasional heat for my love of Genesis. But before they became the Top 40, hit churning machine of the 80s and 90s, they were as progressive as any band ever got or would become. The Lamb, released in 1974 but discovered by me ten years later, can be credited with getting me into music. Its a long, two hour journey through a surreal landscape charted out in Peter Gabriel's odd mind. But it opened my eyes to the possibilities inherent in music. Sometimes its simple, other times its incredibly complicated. Its majestic in parts, harsh and brutal in others. Above all its almost literary in its expression laden with lyrical brilliance and intense imagery in every song. "Cabman's velvet glove sounds the horn and the sawdust king spits out his scorn," Gabriel sneers in the title track. "I've got sunshine in my stomach like I just rocked my baby to sleep," he whispers in another. And surrounding these words is brilliant musicianship, from Steve Hackett's subdued guitar work to the bombast of Phil Collins in his prime behind the drum kit. Its music in which there's something new upon each listen. Its music that opened my eyes...and continues to.

Posted by Chris at 11:39 PM | Comments (11)

Half-Assed Friday

Good morning afternoon and happy Friday! Apologies for sticking you with a half-assed post this morning but I had things to do! Yes, a quick appointment this morning out of the office followed by putting the finishing touches on a document due to a client this afternoon. I've been busy! But now, here I am. And by posting about a half-assed post, I've written another half-assed post. Its a half-assed kinda day I guess...but its Friday and one is allowed to be half-assed unless one has a meeting with a client this afternoon and who the hell schedules a meeting late on a Friday afternoon? I'll try to pull it all together and have a whole-assed meeting. Until later, happy half-assed Friday everyone!

Posted by Chris at 12:17 PM | Comments (20)

Krafty

An update from a post I brought you in November...

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business days.

Please add our site, http://www.kraftfoods.com/, to your bookmarks and visit
us again soon!

Posted by Chris at 9:44 AM | Comments (14)

December 2, 2004

Jealousy

Pixel was feeling a little jealous that Callie made it onto the site yesterday...



Posted by Chris at 5:40 PM | Comments (14)

Tx4 (The Results)

You've waited long enough and I have this sinking feeling I'm going to be trapped in meetings the whole damn day. As promised, here are the answers from To Tell The Truth Volume IV.

1. Truth
Yes, my friends, I was sixteen or seventeen, attempting to light a cigarette when a rogue optometrist decided to slam on his brakes for a green (I said green, people) light. Unfortunately, he was driving a 1978 General Motors Land Yacht which indicated two things - he wasn't doing so well as an optometrist and even my Jeep wasn't going to be able to claim victory. The entire front of the Jeep curled up under itself. And yes, the first thing he did was jump out if his car, hand me a card and ask if I had problems with my eyes. Dillhole.

2. Lie!
The first album I remember actually going and buying was Van Halen's 1984. I'm sure there were some before that. I'd already emassed a large collection of 45s (don't tell me you don't know what 45s are...I don't need to hear it). Among them was a Tears For Fears single with the song "The Big Chair" as a b-side. I loved it and played the hell out of it. Its only been in the last few years since all their albums were re-released that I've been able to get my hands on it again.

3. Lie!
I never wanted to be a psych major. I actually went to school for journalism but I didn't like their program. I jumped ship for the history department instead, focusing on Far Eastern history. I did double duty in the English department as well. The first psych professor I had convinced me that it wasn't the place for me. He was a great guy but looked remarkable like an elf. The only thing he was missing was a pointy pair of shoes. He gave multiple choice tests and, while you could usually eliminate one or two answers, after that it was anyone's guess. He had some mad test giving skillz.

4. Lie!
You guys liked this one. Which scares me a bit. Have I been sending out Dance Fever vibes or something? I recall the show, remember watching it sometimes as a kid but I was certainly never discovered trying out any of the moves. I waited until I moved out of my parents' house for that. Kidding!

5. Truth
Our pep squad had no regulations as to the sex of an applicant, only that the applicant wear the uniform. We were the Paul Revere Raiders so the uniforms were red, white and blue one-piece things with a short skirt and a picture of Paul Revere smack-dab on the chest. Sexy, no? On a dare, I tried out...and wore the skirt thingy. It wasn't pretty, folks. Not one damn bit. And no, before you ask there were no pictures taken.

6. Lie!
This is actually kinda sad and not something I'm altogether proud of. Its based in truth. But it wasn't my college orientation. It was my high school orientation. We had to go in a week before school started, in the afternoon (like that makes this better). I had a few way the hell to many beers then, with a few friends, hopped on a bus and headed to the orientation. Proud moment, folks.

7. Lie!
I've always said that I'm amazed I've been able to keep up with the blogging thing. Why? Because I've never, ever been able to keep a journal of any kind. I've tried and always failed spectacularly.

8. Lie!
As with all these, its rooted in some degree of truth. I was born in Argentina but Argentine laws prevented me from returning after I turned 18. Were I to fly in, I would have been forced to spend either two years in prison or serve in the military. Remember the Falklands (if you're answer is no, Google it)? Argentine officers shot their troops in the foot to keep them from abandoning their posts. So, no...I didn't like either of those options. They've since changed the laws but there have been random incidents involving other folks in my situation.

9. Truth
Perhaps this requires a separate blog entry, but there are few specifics I can provide. Let's just say this - a person in my family was in a position of power. Someone decided they had a grievance against the institution who'd granted that family member power. Instead of just writing a nice little letter or mailing a postcard, they let their fingers do the walking and made some very unpleasant threats. The end result? Bodyguards for a year and burly men with 9mms and shotguns surrounding my house. Oh, and there were the bomb sweeps of my car before I could get in. Overall, though, it was a positive experience. The folks looking out for us were incredibly cool and we still keep in touch with them to this day.

10. Lie (of course, its the last one)!
I did have an Atari 2600 but, alas, I don't now. My wife did buy me this joystick thingy recently that you plug into your TV set and its got bunches of the old Atari games. Tres cool.

So that's it. There you have it. But I'm sure you're more curious who the winner is, right? As it turns out, no one! That's right. No one correctly guessed all three (because you guys were all hung up on that Dance Fever question). That said, it would just suck for everyone to walk away empty-handed so there were a few folks who came pretty close, getting two out of the three correct. I'd appreciate it if Amy, Groovebunny, Amber, Dawn (the email only Dawn), Paul and Sheryl would drop me an email with an address to which I may send some tunes. And if I've somehow made an error in my tabluation, hey, its early. Let me know!

Thanks to all who guessed!

Posted by Chris at 6:55 AM | Comments (24)

December 1, 2004

Barriers

Sometimes its not willpower that gets in the way of working from home...




Aside from the turf war, its been a moderately productive day. But its not Friday yet, is it?

Posted by Chris at 5:48 PM | Comments (17)

On Books: November

November has passed and, while it seemed to fly by, I managed to cram a lot of reading into those thirty days. Here’s what I read and what I thought.

Around Halloween, I got in the mood for something a little scary, so I picked up Peter Straub’s Lost Boy Lost Girl. Having not read Straub before, I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised by what the book offered. Part mystery, part thriller, Lost Boy Lost Girl offered a nice amount of creepiness balanced with decent writing and great characters. I find it hard to get freaked out by anything I read, no matter how scary, and this was no exception. That said, its got its chilling moments. Do I recommend it? I’ll put it to you this way – Straub has just released a new novel starring the same main character. I’ll read it but only after it comes out in mass market paperback.

Thisbee Nissen’s The Good People of New York had been of interest to me since it came out in 2001. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a new copy for $5 in, of all places, New York this fall. Nissen proves talented, accomplishing in 288 pages what few writers could with twice the paper. It’s a family saga without the whole saga-part. Instead Nissen provides readers with sequential snapshots of life yet somehow makes the whole story flow and work. Its funny, well-written and (without trying to sound like a hack for People magazine) moving.

A few months back, I read Sarah Vowell’s Take the Cannoli. I finally found Partly Cloudy Patriot at the local bookstore and decided to take it for a spin. Especially since November made me feel mostly cloudy in the patriotic sense. Its not strictly political, mind you. In addition to tackling subjects such as the popularity of invoking Rosa Parks metaphors and the life of Abraham Lincoln, she also writes about Tom Cruise’s breakout performance in Magnolia (I agree), Tom Landry as an existentialist, and German cinema. Really, its good, I swear!

Paul Auster’s Ghosts, the second book from his New York Trilogy, proved to be a lowlight of the month. Auster essentially found himself repeating the first volume of the trilogy. While I like Auster’s style and wholeheartedly recommend most anything he’s written, I think Ghosts is for die-hard fans only. When you’ve run out of good Auster material, pick this one up. Reach for The Book of Illusions or Leviathan first.

Los Angeles Diaries by James Brown (no, not that James Brown) has to be one of the toughest memoirs I’ve ever read. Jumping around in time from the 1960s through the 1990s, Brown lays out the simple, unflattering facts about his life, his career (as a screenwriter) and addict. The picture painted from the compilation of all these pieces is singularly abhorrent and Brown makes no excuses for that. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a wonderfully written and well-executed memoir worthy of a read. If nothing else it’ll prop you up a bit. The fact that Brown has gone though as much as he has and survived intact enough to write about it will surely make some of your own problems seem inconsequential.

Bond. James Bond. I’ve loved the Bond movies since I was a kid but its only been over the course of the last year and a half that the original Bond novels by Ian Fleming were reprinted. Curious, I picked one up and have been reading them on and off for a while. This month I chose Moonraker. If you hadn’t guessed, the folks that wrote the movies took a lot of liberties with both Fleming’s stories and the Bond character. Moonraker was no exception. Slightly more plausible than the cheesy and unrealistic movie version, this one proves to be a good, fun read worthy of picking up.

Possibly the most disappointing read of the month (besides the Auster debacle) was Deprivers by Steven-Elliot Altman. Be wary of any man with a hyphenated first name. The concept was decent in a speculative-fiction, sci-fi kinda way. The execution just wasn’t all that hot. The writing was simplistic and the characters weren’t well developed at all. On the plus side? The writing was so simplistic that it took no time to make it through the book's 350 pages. It coulda been better…but then again, so could this review.

In the grand tradition of magicians and, well, reviewers, I saved the best for last. Adam Thirlwell’s Politics is an unusual yet brilliant first novel. It is not, repeat not, about politics in the traditional sense. Instead, its about sex, relationships, theater, Bollywood, etiquette and, well, sex. Sound unique? It is. But a word of warning – if you’re easily offended, read something else. Its graphic, yet not for the sake of being graphic. Call it honest. And frankly what we all need is a good, honest piece of fiction every now and then, no matter how much of a contradiction that seems to be.

Posted by Chris at 3:19 PM | Comments (7)

Wednesday So Far

Its a cold, rainy Wednesday and I'm working from home today. I didn't sleep very well and woke up with an evil headache. I've also got an important document to edit and its easier to do that here than it is in the office with phones ringing and people stopping by.

Voting is still open! I'll be closing the comments at the end of the day and revealing the winner tomorrow morning. Stay tuned.

One last, odd question - does anyone have a copy of the Muppet Christmas Carol movie soundtrack? Its for a friend. Really. I swear!

Posted by Chris at 9:37 AM | Comments (11)


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