September 30, 2006

Flower Power

Posted by Chris at 7:22 PM | Comments (24)

September 29, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Well, Duh

Another week, another load of great material. But sadly, I've had about as much sleep as Paris Hilton has brain cells so forgive me if I choose the easy targets.

...probably from the AP...I forget...

Photographer Larry Birkhead, a former boyfriend of
Anna Nicole Smith, tells Us Weekly magazine that, no matter what a national TV audience was told Tuesday night, he's the real father of the reality TV star's newborn girl. And he's seeking a DNA test to prove it.

Smith's lawyer and spokesman, Howard K. Stern, told CNN's "Larry King Live" on Tuesday that he is the "proud father" of the girl, Dannie Lynn Hope, born Sept. 7, and he plans to marry Smith "at some point."

"Right now we have to somehow get through what we're going through," said Stern, referring to the Sept. 10 death of Smith's son, Daniel Smith. The 20-year-old Smith died of unknown causes at his mother's hospital bedside in the Bahamas.

"And I'll tell you, our baby is the one ray of hope," Stern said.


First, I think it kinda sucks having to hear about this woman any more than is absolutely necessary. And truthfully, it sucks to be her. She's a sad, disturbed mess who has been, up to this point, fun to watch but her son's death had to be an unimaginable blow. Now this. Can you imagine two non-lobotomized individuals actually fighting over got jiggy with her most recently? From where I'm sitting, you don't want to be that guy. Unless you're one of the next guys, and then you'd be pretty much happy being anyone else...

...can't remember where this is from either but if I had to guess, I'd say the AP...

Dallas police have classified Terrell Owens' case as an "accidental overdose," not an attempted suicide, closing their investigation Thursday of the Cowboys receiver's hospitalization.

Authorities also released a recording of the brief 911 call Thursday that brought rescue workers to Owens' home, in which publicist Kim Etheredge said "I think he took too many pills" but never mentioned her client's name or said anything about a suicide attempt.

Police Chief David Kunkle said he had "great confidence" in his officers' initial report, which said rescue workers responded late Tuesday night to an attempted "suicide by prescription pain medication."

Certainly sucks to be either T.O. or the cops. But I guess T.O. has some consolation since he's a freak but a freak with more money than god. So, what do you think - did T.O. try and off himself or not?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (36)

September 28, 2006

Not How I Roll

[Before I begin, let me just warn you that I got a sum total of 2 hours of sleep last night. Two words which should make everyone quake in their boots - ear infection. Mia, the poor kid, screamed all night long. Literally. But hey, I'm awake, I'm at work, and apparently I can type so here we go...]




Okay, let me rewind...

Last night, the monthly credit card statement arrived. As usual, Beth checked out all the transactions and determined that everything looked good...except for one little thing. A phone number accompanied the transaction number so Beth called. Apparently, I purchased a membership to an exclusive website. An exclusive gay porn website.

I'm a pretty liberal guy. I'm of the mind that people should be allowed to hear, say, watch or do whatever it is that makes them happy. Dudes doing horizontal mambo? Cool. But it ain't my thing. Nor was the membership to Uber-Gay Sex Pass, The Bone Zone, The Meat Market or whatever the hell it was. That's not how I roll (not that there's anything wrong with that).

So, I immediately proclaimed my innocence and called the company who charged the transaction.

Guy: Hello, customer service. How can I help you?
Me: Yeah, hi. I received my credit card statement and there was a charge from your company. Can you give me the details on that please?
Guy: Yes, sir! It looks like you bought a premium membership to The High Hard One premium gay adult website.
Me: Okay...except, well, I didn't.
Guy: Excuse me? It's your name on the membership.
Me: I don't know how to break this to you but, as a straight man, I doubt I'd have much use for such a membership.
Guy: So, you're saying you'd like me to cancel your membership?
Me: Well, there's an idea.

And then I got progressively more concerned. I mean, some gay-porn loving dude has my credit card number. And he must be lame because all he's done is charge a membership to a gay porn site. If it were me, I'd be checking out plasma TVs. But I called the credit card company anyway.

Guy 2: Hello, how can I help you?
Me: There's a transaction on my credit card I didn't make and I'm a little concerned.
Guy 2: Let's look that up then. I see the charge here. Now, why are you concerned?
Me; Well, I didn't actually make that transaction.
Guy 2: Are you sure? How do you know?
Me: To be perfectly honest, I called the company and its a membership to a gay adult website.
Guy 2: Okay...
Me: And as a straight guy, that's really not something I see myself doing. Not that there's anything wrong with that, you understand.
Guy 2: Uh-huh. And did the company say they'd credit your account.
Me: I didn't ask.
Guy 2: Well, we'll do that. Is there anything else?
Me: I don't care about the money, really. Aren't you a little more concerned about the fact that there's a transaction on my card that I didn't make?
Guy 2: I'm sure it's nothing.
Me: Great. I feel comforted. By any chance, do you need a membership to a gay porn site?

Posted by Chris at 8:04 AM | Comments (62)

September 27, 2006

Not Living The Dream

By the time I made it home last night, stumbled through the door with one of those Bluetooth things hanging from my ear that I make fun of other people for wearing, a conference call raging on with approximately .02% of my attention, I found a very sleepy and cranky baby and a wiped-out wife. "Burritos," I proclaimed, "burritos for all." Dinner without cooking or cleanup. Ahhh. Mia went to bed uber-early, I conquered Chipotle, we dined and caught a first season episode of Grey's Anatomy. The baby stirred, I rocked, the baby stirred, rinse, repeat as needed. Still on shaky legs of my own healthwise, I rested a bit, downed a final (knock on wood) shot of NyQuil and headed to bed.

On my way to work this morning, early though it was, I started having strange visions. I began stitching them together and came up with a rather incomplete yet disturbing dream.

I'm living in our two-story double-wide trailer with cathedral ceilings and crappy appliances. And there's a gas leak (dun dun duuuunnnn). The gas, somehow, is visible and it swirls around the trailer like that water-creature thing in The Abyss. Then it did the unthinkable - invaded the massive habitrail we had set up so that all of our various guinea pigs (total count unknown) could move throughout the house. The gas, still all swirly, focused on the highest part of the habitrail and sucked those little guinea pigs right out through the ceiling. So of course, after this stunning disaster that not only hit my stunning trailer/mansion (tansion? mailer?) but the rest of the small town in which I resided, leaving vast power and guinea pig-outages, I ran to man the grocery store which, by a strange turn of events, I also managed. And boy was there pandemonium! Apparently in the face of such a disaster, the entire town needed a snack. I did what any true hero could - I opened up one of the lines and started checking motherfuckers out. And damn if I wasn't speedy. To ensure calm, the staff sang showtunes whilst helping people out. It did the trick. So did the evil eye of Today Show movie critic Gene Shalit (who I've regularly confused with movie reviewer Gene Siskel, who has, sadly, left his aisle seat for the great cosmic multiplex). Shalit, complete with big-ass (and disturbing) porn 'stache and bow-tie, looked at me, winked, and pointed ominously at the giant watch he was wearing. I took this as a sign of impending doom and checked people out double-time. That is, for good or bad, where the dream ended.

And - poof! - here I am, at work. Sometimes it's a relief to realize you're not living the dream, you know? That particular one, at least.

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (36)

September 26, 2006

All These Things That I've Done

Upon conception, Mia inherited much of my genetic matter. While the jury is still out, she was most likely infused with, among other things, my vibrant wit, insightful wisdom, devil-may-care attitude, rockin' musical ability, inability to say no, knowledge of inane trivia, opinion that burping and farting are indeed quite funny, ability to drive Beth crazy, admiration of literature, and over-all wicked-cool sense of style. That was a monumental day. This weekend though? All I gave her was my cold.

Yesterday morning, Mia woke up and immediately began acting odd. It didn't take us long to noodle everything through. She had a fever. My fever. See, sometime over night my fever broke. Not so much broke as jumped ship. Unfortunately I wasn't awake or I would have grabbed a box of Kleenex and a thermometer, stood on the bed and done battle with the germs, chasing them out of the open window. I got no opportunity to wage this war. And now I feel a little guilty. I let the germ terrorists win. Mission not accomplished.

Being sick is never a good thing and I wouldn't wish even the slightest, most inconsequential cold on my daughter. But yesterday evening, when Beth ran out for dinner and Mia was inconsolable, I pulled her close and for once this squirming mass of cute toddler wasn't so eager to escape from my lap. Instead she seemed comforted to have my arms around her. She rubbed the tears from her face with my shirt, looked up at me a smiled. And I knew that, while I'd passed on much of myself to her, she made me who I am today. A dad.

Posted by Chris at 7:14 AM | Comments (43)

September 25, 2006

Six NyQuil-Fuelled Facts For A Monday Morning

Good morning. I? Still feel like ass. And since said ass is jacked up on NyQuil, I'm afraid you shouldn't hold out much hope for the quality of what's to follow.

As I might have mentioned, I feel like crap. I'm staying home from work today.

When I stayed home from school as a kid, my mom let me watch lots of TV. I'd overdose on old episodes of What's Happening, Facts of Life, One Day At A Time and The Love Boat. And if you're too young to remember those shows or weren't even alive when they were on, please don't tell me. It would depress me. And I'm physically fragile as it is.

Speaking of televions, I have to admit I'm kinda digging Grey's Anatomy. When I first watched it, I thought it sucked. I didn't get the hype. Now, it rox (and rox is to rocks as hott is to hott - you heard it here first). Although my version of Dr. McDreamy is probably a bit different than yours. If you're a girl, that is.

Yesterday, I was mentally noodling something through and I made a brilliant analogy using the band Journey. Of course, now I have no idea what Journey was supposed to be analgous too. But you know what, I like Journey and I'm not afraid to admit it.

My friend Ali brought up something important the other day. See, there's this site called Bitacle and they're reposting my content and that of others. They claim to be an aggregator but I don't buy it. So, I'd like to hearby invite Bitacle and the brains behind it to kiss my sick ass. Pucker up. Oh, and if anyone sees my content elsewhere, let me know, 'kay?

Can I say how awesome my wife is? Thanks. My wife is awesome. See, she's been dealing with me and when I'm sick I'm no fun. And she's been taking care of Mia too. She's definitely proving adept at handling two babies.

Okay. Goodnight...or good morning...or whatever. I'm getting back in bed.

Posted by Chris at 5:50 AM | Comments (49)

Haiku For Monday #141

Cough cough bleh bleh bleh
I'm sick, goddamnit! Cough bleh.
Fuck off germs. Fuck off!

Posted by Chris at 5:46 AM | Comments (5)

September 24, 2006

Sick

Dudes. Being sick sucks. I've had a fever for, like, 2 days and I just slept for 13 hours straight. There should be a law - this shit needs to happen during the week, not on weekends.

If you need me, I'll be the one surrounded by tissues clutching a NyQuil bottle like a homeless dude holds on to a bottle of Thunderbird for dear life.

Posted by Chris at 10:00 AM | Comments (33)

September 22, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: All The World's A Stage

As usual, there are just too many good stories. It's tough to settle on one.

from the AP

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush "the devil" in a fiery speech to the United Nations, but later reached out to an audience of Americans, saying he sees himself as a friend of the United States.

The leftist leader, long at odds with Washington, appeared to be making one of his boldest moves yet to coalesce international opposition to the Bush administration. Chavez began Wednesday's speech noting that Bush spoke from the same podium a day earlier.

"The devil came here," Chavez said. "Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of."

He then made the sign of the cross, brought his hands together as if praying and looked up to the ceiling. Chavez's words drew tentative giggles at times from the audience, but also some applause.

He later spoke to hundreds of New Yorkers who filled a college hall Wednesday night, saying he hopes Americans choose an "intelligent president" in the future.

"I'm not an enemy of the United States. I'm a friend of the United States ... the people of the United States," Chavez said during his speech to an audience including union organizers and professors. "They're two very different things ó you the people of the United States, and the government that's installed there."

He drew a standing ovation when he said Bush committed genocide during the war in Iraq.

"The president of the United States should go before an international tribunal," Chavez said as applause filled the hall at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. He compared the Bush administration's actions to those of the Nazis.


Okay, okay, okay...I'd be lying if I told you that this didn't please me just a little bit. I'm not condoning what Chavez did but it did make me giggle. But to do this at the U.N? About as appropriate as a skinhead at a Black Panthers rally, K-Fed in the music industry, Dubya at a Mensa convention, good acting in a porn flick...you get the drift. Why? Beth and I had the following conversation. It may help me illuminate my point.

Her: So, you were wearing your President Bush/American Psycho shirt today.
Me: Yeah.
Her: And I kept having to resist calling Bush bad names when Mia pointed at it.
Me: I noticed.
Her: I don't think we should trash him in front of her.
Me: Me either. Although I'll miss calling him an incompetent fuckhead ass-weasel.
Her: You shouldn't say that in front of her anyway.
Me: True.

You see, I knew where she was coming from. As much as I don't like the incompetent fuckhead ass-weasel, he's the President of the United States. And while I don't respect the man even one little teensy bit, I respect the office.

Yes, Chavez has some valid points. Whether a valid understanding of himself on the world's stage, he sees himself as a voice for the disenfranchised third world, the ones just now beginning to stand up to the U.S. in all it's imperialistic glory. Of course, the U.S. also buys roughly 65% of the oil produced by Venezuela. I didn't see Chavez standing on the docks refusing to let the oil tankers depart for America. You can't have it both ways.

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (36)

September 21, 2006

Carry That Weight

Late last week, my grandmother tried to kill herself. I can't begin to tell you how many things are wrong with that sentence.

A week or so ago, I mentioned that my grandmother fell off the wagon after forty years. Fuelled by alcohol and painkillers, this otherwise quirky and lovely woman quickly surrendered to some murky, paranoid, delusion-filled world in which my mother had ruined her life and there were rapists hiding in her house. Then she chose to leave. But my grandmother's never been what you'd call normal and her suicide attempt followed suit. After she dropped the razor blades, she picked up the phone and called for an ambulance. Once stabilized, she admitted herself to the psychiatric ward. She's moving into an assisted living facility this weekend.

Despite the fact that this probably should win the Terms of Endearment Award for Most Depressing Morning Blog Entry Ever and I've probably bummed you the fuck out, I wanted to share the second chapter with you. What I don't know is the moral to this story. I don't really find The Who Philosophy On Aging ("Hope I die before I get old") appealing but I'd like to leave this world with my brain intact...and hopefully my body. So maybe that's it. Or maybe this is just further affirmation that my family, like every family, is fucked up. Or that addiction is bad. Maybe it should serve as a warning that mental instability runs in my family (shock!) and the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree. After all, after the shock wore off, I gave myself a good laugh about the new band name I'd discovered - The Suicidal Grandmas.

Posted by Chris at 7:24 AM | Comments (77)

September 20, 2006

Head In The Game (But Missing Brain Cells)

I'm backÖback from the conference, back from vacation. Let the games begin! I've got so much crap to sort through it's not funny...unless you're a sadistic bastard but none of you are that mean, right? I sincerely hope my head is a little more in the game today than it was yesterday or I'll never get anything done. What happened, you ask? I broke out the stupid and the way in which I did so was threefold.

Episode One: Dumb
I was sitting in the conference auditorium with three co-workers. I looked to my right and saw this dude with a weird, square keyboard thing with a couple red lights tucked into a backpack. I had no idea what it was, so I turned to one of my co-workers.

Me: Hey, you like gadgets. What do you think that square keyboard thing that guy has in a backpack down there is?
Him: Which one?
Me: The guy in the red shirt. Check out that keyboard thing on his lap. With the red lights.
Him: Um. That's the pen holder of his backpack. Holding a red pen.
Me: So, not a keyboard?
Him: No.
Me: Ha. I knew that.

Episode Two: The Dumb Strikes Back
Walking back from lunch, I came around a corner and ran directly into one of the many members of the military attending the conference decked out in his BDUs.

Me: Whoa. I'm sorry about that. You're wearing camouflage so I guess I just didn't see you.
Him: *crickets*

Episode Three: Return of the Dumb
There were a lot of people at this conference which resulted in a line in the men's room. I was standing in said line, leaning against the wall very close to one of the stalls. Whilst leaning, it seems as though I accidentally pressed a button, a button which was wired to the door of the handicapped stall, which opened the door, which, in turn, exposed the poor man sitting on the toilet to a great deal of unwanted scrutiny, I'm sure.

Like I said...I hope the neurons are firing a bit better today...

Posted by Chris at 7:07 AM | Comments (45)

September 19, 2006

Dorks and Geeks and Dweebs, Oh My!

I work in the IT industry, an industry with some real geeks. Really unsurpassed geekdom. I know this because I attended a conference with 300 of my fellow workers yesterday and I'm about to head back for a merciless second day. Looking around the conference room, I was able to group everyone into three categories (politically incorrect to draw such generalizations, I know...).

1. The Geeks. Members of this group are unadulterated geeks. They'd probably even agree. They've got pocket protectors, thick glasses, and no social skills whatsoever. They use PDAs instead of paper, take pictures of slide presentations with their camera phones and wear black socks with sandals. If forced to attend a cocktail party and subsequently forced to speak, they'll speak enthusiastically and only in acronyms leaving everyone else bewildered.

2. The Hotshots. These folks think they've got the coolest jobs in the universe, a universe of which they are the masters. And when you're on a computer on their network, you're playing in their domain. So don't fuck it up. They buy expensive clothes, wear wrap-around shades and drive sporty, impractical cars. Their communication skills far exceed those of the Geeks, but their attitude makes you wish they'd just keep their mouths shut.

3. The Normals...Mostly. Here's where I think I fall (shut up...stop laughing!). See, I dress nice but I don't drive a fancy car. I can talk endlessly about what I do but I know when to shut up. And I can talk about other things too. I don't own a pocket protector nor would I consider wearing socks with sandals and I am modest about whatever mad skillz I happen to have.

Sure, there are some that don't fall as neatly into any of these categories, like the one presenter who spoke for an hour and a half and took tiny swigs of Sprite after every 200 words. Or the guy who walked into the menís room and just started farting. I mean, if you've got to do it anywhere, I guess that's the place but how does one just fart for two or three minutes solid? Oh, and the woman who resembled that freakishly tiny lady from Poltergeist except this person turned out not to be a woman but a strangely effeminate man...with lots of questions.

I'm sure every profession has its freaks, its geeks and its hotshots...but this one seems to have more than most.

Posted by Chris at 6:20 AM | Comments (39)

September 18, 2006

VV06 Part Deux: The Photo Recap

It's the ass-crack of dawn and I'm attending a conference-type thingy for work. Yeah. Right after vacation. Nice. Anyway, since I'm not going to be around all day, I figured I'd leave you with pictures of the Vacationless Vacation of '06 (VV06) Part Deux.



...visit the flickr set for many (!!) more...

What went down during this week off, you ask? Well, we/I...

Whew. So, now I'm back but stuck at a conference without Internet access for an ungodly nine hours (not including travel time) so I can't actually work on any of the stuff that piled up while I was away (frustrating!) nor can I check in and see how you're all doing (argh! more frustrating!). And the same thing'll happen again tomorrow.

That's all I've got. So, what's up with you?

Posted by Chris at 6:25 AM | Comments (35)

Haiku For Monday #140

There's almost nothing
worse than a post-vacation
Monday. 'cept VD.

Posted by Chris at 6:23 AM | Comments (9)

September 15, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: The Obvious Punchline Edition

Hi. You might recall that I'm enjoying a nice tropical island vacation without the actual tropics or tropical weather of any sort. Regardless, I don't have a heck of a lot of time to go all brainiac on you, break out the funny to make up some good stuff today. So, you'll just have to settle for some quick schadenfreude. It's like one of those massages you can get at the mall - it isn't really as satisfying as stripping and getting worked over by a large Swedish woman, but it's sure as hell better than nothing.

from my friends at the AP...

The tumultuous marriage of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown -- which withstood drug addiction, Brown's numerous arrests, the decline of Houston's once-sparkling image and domestic abuse allegations -- is coming to an end.

The Grammy-winning, superstar singer filed papers in Orange County Superior Court on Friday requesting a legal separation from her husband of 14 years. The reason given was irreconcilable differences.


The Obvious Punchline: It's a bad sign when you look at this couple and have to consider Bobby Brown to be the normal one.
CNN writes...

If viewers had been taking "Survivor" for granted, here was an idea guaranteed to catch their eye: organize the players by race.

For "Survivor: Cook Islands," the 20 castaways will initially be split into four tribes along ethnic lines (black, white, Asian-American and Hispanic). The 13th cycle of the CBS adventure challenge premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT, arriving on the heels of a burst of attention -- including outrage that creator Mark Burnett had played the race card with his players.


The Obvious Punchline: Well, how the hell should I know? I'm the dumbass who forgot to TiVo the damn thing. So...anyone have a copy?
The Superficial reports (here's the link - with blurred bits)...

I don't know when it happened (actually I know exactly when it happened) but somewhere along the line Lindsay Lohan decided to just completely give up on underwear. This shot was taken outside of London's Kabaret club, and once again features Lindsay Lohan and her totally NSFW vagina. There was so much controversy over her first attempt to offend my eyes she thought she'd give it another go. Only this time she's not leaving any doubt as to its authenticity.


The Obvious Punchline: Come on, give the poor girl a break. She's just trying to keep up with the in-crowd. I mean, Paris Hilton's walking around everywhere showing off her teeny tiny appetizer of a dog. Lindsay's just showing off her pussy.

Posted by Chris at 8:12 AM | Comments (37)

September 14, 2006

Yawn. And Did I Mention, Yawn?

I promised you pictures, so pictures you shall have. But just a few. I'm behind with my editing.




I'm also behind with responses to comments and email...and blog surfing...but I just realized something - I'm on vacation! So, you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to go back to bed. You see, it's 5:15 in the morning (bit of an early morning with a baby who was none too pleased about the prospect of staying asleep). Instead of obsessing over writing the perfect post, I'll be snoozing. Or I'll just get a massive cup of coffee and see how long I can ride the caffeine high. After that, who knows. Sparky, the Bean and I have the whole day to figure that out.

Speaking of...Mia and I are going out solo (i.e., without mom) today or tomorrow to give Beth a little time to chill at home. Where should we go? Seriously, I need your help.

Posted by Chris at 5:18 AM | Comments (44)

September 13, 2006

The Last Four Days

OR, WHY I'M WORN OUT

So, by this point you know that I'm on the Vacationless Vacation of '06 Part Deux but since I've been posting all this serious shit, well, you're probably wondering what the hell we're up to.

Saturday. We got sprung! Yep, the in-laws came over and babysat while we went to dinner and - now, hold yourselves in readiness - went to a movie. A real life movie. To put this in perspective for you so that you understand the importance of this, the last movie I saw in a theater was War Of The Worlds before Mia was born (and toupee-wearing Suri, for that matter). We saw Little Miss Sunshine which was without doubt utterly brilliant.

Sunday. We headed to a farm buried amongst the urban sprawl of D.C. It's a real, working farm so Mia got a chance to see chickens, cows and some freakishly stinky pigs. All the things you expect to find on a farm. Oh, including horses. Did you know Sparky hates horses? With a passion. I've heard her wish them all dead. Really.

Monday. Despite the fact that it's been right around the corner for nearly three years, we hadn't bothered to visit the National Air and Space Museum's Dulles center...until Monday. Dudes, it was cool. Airplanes everywhere. And the Space Shuttle! It allowed me to channel my inner 12-year old. Without the farting and giggling. Sparky would have disapproved.

Tuesday. Yesterday, we went to the zoo. Now, I realize that we did this a few months back, but it was unclear exactly what Mia took from that experience. So we tried again with a great deal more success. For the record, all forms of cats, some small mammals and birds are totally kick-ass in Mia's book. Elephants, hippos and just about everything else? Dead to her.

Our visit to the zoo corresponded with the arrival of Inappropriate Man, my alter-ego who makes loud, completely false comments just to see what happens.

Example 1: In the bird-house, trying to find the damn kiwi. We saw precisely nothing but I wanted to screw with the high-school dipshits who were on their way in.
Holy crap, honey! I didn't realize those things were so damn big! And goddamn, I know they have to eat but I can't believe they feed 'em live penguins like that.

Example 2: Upon exiting an exhibit which exhibited precisely nothing and served only as a tucked away area in which we could quietly change Mia.
Who would have guessed that kangaroos could kickbox? What I wanna know? Where do they find gloves for them? Or do they maybe have someone at the zoo making them?

Example 3: While eating lunch.
Well, this is a lot different than our last lunch here. That gibbon we snagged last time was great! Sucker never saw it coming and I guess the zoo didn't notice since they let us in. Gibbons...surprisingly lean and tasty.

Pictures coming soon. Now, what have you been up to? Oh, yeah...I did refer to Beth as "Sparky" throughout this entry. It's her new nickname. Like it?

Posted by Chris at 6:36 AM | Comments (35)

September 12, 2006

Forty Years On

I have no idea how to write this...I suppose starting from the beginning is the best bet.

My mother's side of our family was split in half in 1964, the same year my parents got married. There was a dead relative, a will and money. The equation is brutal and familiar, made that much more complicated by the fact that my grandmother was an out-of-control alcoholic. Two of my grandmother's brothers contested the will and everyone ended up in court. Including my newly married parents, there to stick up for my grandmother. Immediately after the case was resolved, grandmother and her brothers ceased speaking. And my grandmother quit drinking.

This 40 year-old dispute had lasting consequences, as silly as it sounds. My grandmother only spoke with one of her brothers before he died ten years ago. She and her one remaining brother - Dick, about whom I've written quite a bit - refuse to speak even though they both acknowledge neither of them have a great deal of time left. All because of money, alcohol and a great deal of stubbornness.

Late last week, my mother called and left an insanely cryptic message. I called back and she got right to the issue. "If I let you guess a million years, you're never going to believe what's happening with your grandmother," she said. From her tone, I realized immediately we weren't talking about something good, like winning a million dollars or meeting Wayne Newton. I caved immediately. "Your grandmother is a raging alcoholic...again."

After 40 years, my 94 year-old grandmother fell off the wagon. I wish I could honestly sit back and say something like, "well, she made it to 94 so why shouldn't she do whatever she wants?" But I can't. She's become verbally and physically abusive and started chasing her alcohol with pain meds. Instead of raising a glass to all the old folks, I felt like someone shot Santa Claus.

I'm not 100% sure where I'm going with this; I just felt like writing it down. After the death of my grandfather last month, however, Iíve come to a few conclusions:
- It seems as though itís getting harder and harder to go out with dignity;
- Alcoholism is a bitch and I guess youíre never quite in the clear; and
- The things that come between family are, most often, stupid, especially when rationalized decades later.

Now that I've completely bummed you out, I'm off to enjoy day two of the Vacationless Vacation of 2006, Part Deux (the first part, you might recall, took place back in June). I'll give you all the highlights to date soon!

Posted by Chris at 6:26 AM | Comments (56)

September 11, 2006

911

I don't think I'll ever be able to tell a complete story of that day, avoid stepping all over more eloquent words from others, or find the language to express the sorrow, pain, confusion or the bright blue sky that characterized the day. So this year, I won't try.

I'm taking the week off from work. There was supposed to be a vacation with traveling but due to a few factors, that didn't happen. Instead, I'm hanging out with my girls at home where I should be. Especially on a day like today.

Where were you, when the world changed?

Posted by Chris at 6:46 AM | Comments (71)

Haiku For Monday #139

Mondays...less painful
when you're taking the week off.
Yay for vacations!

Posted by Chris at 6:17 AM | Comments (5)

September 9, 2006

Angle-O-Phile

No fancy manipulations other than playing with the contrast and colors a bit...
Posted by Chris at 12:17 PM | Comments (38)

September 8, 2006

Schadenfreude Friday: Bust(ing) Up A Starbucks

Sometimes a week just gives you too much material. I know the obvious choices would be Paris' latest mistake or the whole secret prison debacle but instead I'd like to use this space to highlight a true American hero.

Starbucks' decision to revert to its original mermaid logo this month is causing a stir at one local school.

Thirty-five years after the first cup of Starbucks was sold, the java giant is returning to its artistic roots. During September, Starbucks' cups are sporting the original logo, a familiar mermaid. But for some, the sketched depiction clearly showing the mermaidís breasts is a little too much skin.

A Kent elementary school principal has asked that teachers stopping for a cup on the way to work be sure to get a cup sleeve to cover up the image.

"The principal at that school made a decision that she thought that it could be distracting for students," school district spokeswoman Becky Hanks said.


In this day and age, a time when pesky things such as sexual abuse, promiscuous underage sex, drug and alcohol abuse, broken homes, and television rife with sex and violence are becoming the rule, not the exception, combined with the added bonus of a failing educational system, I stand and honor you, oh nameless Kent elementary school principal. You have single-handedly cut through the politically correct bullshit of our time and found an issue that matters - boobies!

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (58)

September 7, 2006

Trannies, Tampons and Poles

OR, HOW TO DRAW SOME BIZARRE SEARCH STRINGS

Hand grenades, quicksand, land mines, rabid chickens, stingrays, falls from great heights, falls from great lows, a myriad of cooking-related incidents, heart attacks and strokes, murder, those evil natural causes, disappearance in the Bermuda Triangle, torture at the hands of an enemy spy agency, unusual wood-chipper accidents - all unfortunate ways by which one could leave the living world behind. Last night, however, I met the invisible foe, denizen of the afterlife, the silent killer. Yes, I stared death in the face then laughed. Well, fell down, actually. That's right. I had a run in...with...tampons!!

Dun dun dunnnnnn....

See, Mia, like any 13 month old, likes getting into stuff. Apparently sometime yesterday she found Beth's stash of tampons in our bathroom. And dumped them everywhere. I'll have you know that those little round white buggers are pretty much invisible in the dark and stepping on a batch of them is like being stuck in a cartoon in which the person you're pursuing dumps a bucket of marbles in your path. I think I sprained my ass. Thankfully, it's not broken. I can safely avoid an assectomy.

In other news, I'd be remiss if I failed to recount a conversation which took place earlier regarding the firemen.

Me: To be fair, I didn't actually call to evacuate the house or move to another state. What I haven't told you is that, whilst driving by the firehouse a few days ago, I spied a hottie firewoman. So, by all means call, if you have to call them to come by just wait until I get home.
Beth: Maybe it wasn't a hotty firewoman - maybe it was just a hotty firetranny?
Me: Well, I didn't see a hose. Of course, "she" was driving.
Beth: I've seen her!
Me: And? Tranny or not?
Beth: I'm gonna have to go with tranny, just because how much fun would that be?
Me: Fun for whom?
Beth: For me, of course. And I suppose for the tranny as well.
Me: If its a tranny, how do you suppose they figure out who goes down on the pole?

Posted by Chris at 7:19 AM | Comments (35)

September 6, 2006

Broadcasting From The Studios of WBFD...

Last night I, lemming that I am, tuned into the CBS evening news to see Katie Couric's debut. I'll admit here and now that the only reason I did so was because I was positive that it would be the watercooler topic of conversation - in the real or blogging world. It was more about survival than it was curiosity. Yet, I was curious. The short version of the summary? Big fucking deal.

Precisely at 6:30, Katie arrived, dressed in conservative black and white, caked in makeup so thick she appeared to have the skin tone of a Twinkie. While Katie was pleasant, she imparted about as much information as a Twinkie. Instead of hard-hitting news, the broadcast consisted of fluff. Sure, there was some news - an in-depth look at the Taliban and a report on the discovery of a new oil field in the Gulf of Mexico - but the majority of the content wasn't news. Instead, we were treated to a new 'free speech' featurette in which we were lectured by an over-rehearsed Morgan Spurlock about how all Americans really want just about the same thing. There was a self-serving 'snapshot' feature which capitalized on what I'm sure is a vast CBS vault filled with old footage. We got to see Suri Cruise which is just about as newsworthy as the fact that I had a grilled cheese sandwich and salad for dinner. And then we got to see a warm and fuzzy story about a nice man who delivers nice portraits to nice children in Latin America. Katie shared a little montage of anchors' sign off lines, apologized for not having one of her own then ended the broadcast by soliciting ideas from the viewer. Hard hitting indeed.

The bottom line is that I didn't feel like an average citizen trying to gather information about his world. By the end of the broadcast I felt as if I'd been transported back into the fifth grade and had been delivered a nice warm, fuzzy and completely unthreatening civics lesson. I felt coddled and condescended to. But I guess it's not all Katie's fault.

News can be dropped into three buckets. First, there's sensationalism, the hope that an audience will be drawn by exposing supposed evils of the world and that this view will, somehow, be assumed to be news simply because it's scary. Second, the fluffy and cozy news, the broadcasts that just make you feel comfortable that the world is headed in the right direction without ever imparting much news at all. Finally, there's fair and balanced journalism. Unfortunately, that third thing - the ideal - is sadly lacking in this country.

News can't be driven by personality, money or advertising. Instead it must be driven by the events of the day as they transpire around the world. The goal should be to fully inform the viewer, reader or listener to the maximum extent possible so that they may develop as complete a picture of the day's events.

Like I said, it's not Katie's fault. She's just a very highly-paid cog in the wheel of what has become very big business. It's more our fault because we settle for this infotainment. We, along with the companies that run the network news outlets, have let news broadcasts turn into well dressed, literate versions of Jackass with anchors tied to trees in hurricanes and staring down IEDs in Iraq. It's important that we're presented with a fair and balanced picture of the word and that that picture comes from as close to the front lines as possible. But it's a whole other issue when that picture is taken not for the value of news but for the attention it brings. Special interests and cults of personality have no business in the news.

But like I said...Katie? Big fucking deal.

Posted by Chris at 7:17 AM | Comments (46)

September 5, 2006

The Labor Day Weekend Recap

Labor Day has passed. And it's a damn fine thing it was, for the most part, a nice weekend because it's pissing down outside this morning and traffic was terrible. However, the passing of Labor Day means that the summer is officially over and I'm not sure what wormhole or rift in the space-time continuum I went through (yes, perhaps I watched too much Star Trek growing up) but...how did this happen? I mean, it was just June, right?


...more on flickr...

While summer is over, I am happy to report that Beth, Mia and I had a fantastic long weekend.

Saturday - There was a great deal of hardcore hanging out and playing followed by a visit from my parents for dinner. Oh, and firemen who had to invade our home. But I can't talk about that. I've been sworn to silence at least until my wife writes about it. She called dibs. And we all know that anything involving firemen is really her territory anyway.

Sunday - We headed to the in-laws' place for some September birthday celebrations. Despite the fact that it wasn't her birthday, Mia came out the big winner. Why? Because she got to hang out with a dog, second only to cats on her list of the Coolest Things Alive on Planet Earth. She was fearless, which isn't surprising but was a little odd considering that the dog was, literally, five times her size.

Monday - More playing, more hanging out. A visit to the playground proved to be a particularly inspired idea. Swinging? Rocks!

On a very different note, it has occurred to me, through reading your comments, that I was a dick when I wrote of Steve Irwin's passing. In my defense, the media didn't help. They told me the dude was dead and showed a picture of the guy with a giant snake wrapped around his head. But, there is evidence that I was being a dick sporadically throughout the weekend. Beth turned to me at one point and said, "hey, you're being a dick." That was my first clue. Regardless, I'd always thought of Steve Irwin as little more than a circus freak but, upon reading quite a bit more, I realize that's not true. He was a guy who was totally dedicated to what he did and he died doing exactly what he loved. We should all be so lucky (unless your real passion in life is dumpster diving whilst dressed like the opposite sex...or not dressed at all...cos that's just strange and no one should die that way). Tragically, he left behind a wife and two kids. So, if I left you with a rather dickish impression of myself yesterday, I apologize. I'm a heartless bastard sometimes. And a dick.

Posted by Chris at 7:28 AM | Comments (45)

September 4, 2006

Crikey!

Oh, and one last thing - Crikey!

How terrible am I that my first reaction was to laugh? I know...I suck.

Update: I'll admit it - I giggled but I giggled before reading the whole article. So, yeah, I still suck but it is sad that the dude left behind a wife and kids. That sucks more than I do. And at the very least, he died doing what he loved. I'll go hide my head in shame.

Posted by Chris at 9:50 AM | Comments (47)

The Obligatory End-Of-Summer Music Post

It's Labor Day! I've got the day off and I'm trying to get breakfast ready for Mia and I. Now, this weekend I did a little thinking about some end-of-summer music and I figured this would be a good time to share. For those of you with days off, enjoy them!

butch.rise.jpgButch Walker: Rise & Fall of Butch Walker & The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites
Unlike some people, I've never been totally sold on the genius of Butch Walker. Maybe that's because he's difficult to pin down. He's done the hard rock thing, done the alternative thing, and even tackled the singer-songwriter thing. And he's done all these things well but none of his approaches to music have ever completely blown me out of the water. Until Rise & Fall of Butch Walker & The Let's-Go-Out-Tonites. It's glam-rock in the best sense of the term. Take the best of 70's Bowie, add a little Mott The Hoople and T-Rex and transport them into the 21st century and you might end up this...which wasn't what I was expecting but what I'm now very happy I got. This is a fun, trippy, sleazy (in the best sense of the word) and brilliantly constructed album. The writing and the music are insanely good and wonderfully addictive. Since picking it up, I've gone back into my collection and spun some glam albums. Butch might have actually beaten these legends at their own game.

dyan.modern.jpgBob Dylan: Modern Times
Unlike Butch, I've always been sold on Dylan's genius. He is one of the most eloquent, important songwriters in history. It's odd, then, that I've never really cared for his stuff. I mean, I like the words just fine but I'm not a folk guy. Folk albums are boring to me. Yeah, I really like Nick Drake but he wrote three songs I can distinguish from his others. Gary Jules came up with one of the best folk albums a couple years back (Trading Snakeoil for Wolftickets) and I love his writing but musically, it's boring. Alexi Murdoch is the only folkster in a long time who actually created what I think of as an interesting folk album (Time Without Consequence). I don't know - I guess I need more drama, more complexity. I couldn't, however, ignore the hype around Dylan's latest release. Oddly enough, the hype is well-deserved. The album vacilates between slow, bluesy numbers and only slightly more upbeat songs that sound as if they could have been recorded in the 30's. The writing is, unsurprisingly, brilliant. Despite the slow pace of the album, Dylan sounds good...and happy. I don't think Modern Times is a masterpiece but it is damn fine.

format.dog.jpgThe Format: Dog Problems
The Format represent all that's right about indie alt-rock. All the elements of a great band combine to form the perfect storm. Their musicianship is solid. They've got a penchant for writing rock songs laden with catchy hooks, saturated in intelligence and cleverness. And they do this without sounding like every other band out there. They're not trying to be The Killers, Fall Out Boy or Coldplay, which seem to be the three buckets into which most bands fall this year. Nope, The Format just write some damn fine, catchy rock songs and sound like they're having fun doing it.


snowpatrol.eyespoenjpg.jpgSnow Patrol: Eyes Open
Based on the strength of Final Straw, the band's last effort, I picked up Eyes Open immediately. Man, was I disappointed. On first listen, these rather capable musicians weren't doing anything unique, anything any other band couldn't do. It struck me as an album of ordinary, four-minute, rock songs devoid of hooks or emotion. Since that first listen, I've warmed up to Eyes Open just a bit. It's good...not earth-shattering, but good. I even used Set Fire to the Third Bar, a duet with Rufus Wainwright's sister Martha, on a recent mixed CD compilation I sent out to quite a few of you. You won't get me to say its a brilliant or terribly unique album. But it is solid and it doesn't suck.

muse.revelations.jpgMuse: Black Holes and Revelations
You know, I bought their first album Showbiz when it was released. I listened to it, liked it, then promptly forgot about the band entirely. New albums came out, I ignored them. I finally got my head in the game and, after hearing all the good press, picked up this, their latest. What the hell was I thinking, staying away from these guys for so long? Last Monday or Tuesday, I was working in the office, practically alone, and I ended up listening to their entire catalog. They're brilliant. These guys are what Radiohead could have been had they not wandered off the deep end and made a couple albums of experimental and largely unlistenable crap (Kid A and Amnesiac - the jury's still out on Hail To The Thief). Black Holes and Revelations continually shifts between alternative and progressive rock. Simple ballads punctuate pounding anthems which are followed by complex progressive suites. And it somehow works, most likely because Muse, while musically schizophrenic, consists of guys who know how to play. The music they make is beautiful, angry and haunting. I think I might prefer their Origin of Symmetry just a bit, but this album is a must.

Posted by Chris at 7:25 AM | Comments (14)

Haiku For Monday #139

Labor Day. The end
of the summer. And, better,
a no-work Monday!

Posted by Chris at 7:13 AM | Comments (4)

September 1, 2006

When You Need to Protect Your Nose Against Invading Children...

For those of you who've ever wondered, yes, child-proof outlet covers fit the adult nose perfectly...




...and make excellent nose-plugs. This discovery is brought to you by Mia.

Posted by Chris at 7:46 PM | Comments (23)

Schadenfreude Friday: How The Mighty Fall

Sure, there are lots of potential targets for my scorn this week. I'm even reaching back a bit, ignoring the arrest of the crazy Mormon and the Kentucky plane crash (although I can't claim to take any pleasure in that one). And I already talked about Dumbsfeld once this week...

No, instead, I bring you something which is simultaneously heartbreaking and enjoyable to me.


According to the Washington Post...

Tower Records, the iconic chain where generations of music lovers have gone to lose themselves in record-store reveries, is up for sale in bankruptcy court, forsaken by consumers who favor digital music and discounts at big-box superstores.

Tower represents a time when music had a different cultural status than it does today, as songs vie for attention with newer pastimes such as video games, Internet sites and instant messaging. Its financial faltering -- this is its second bankruptcy filing since 2004 -- signals not only corporate problems but also a shift in how people shop and think about music in their lives.

Tower's operations started in the back of a California drugstore in the late 1950s, and its founder, Russ Solomon, cultivated its reputation as a communal place for hanging out to train and trade musical tastes. Its huge yellow-and-red stores became part of the music album culture. Stores hosted live concerts, and employees were hired for their expertise in music arcana.

But over the past decade, as larger retailers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target undercut record-store prices and combined shopping for music with shopping for a variety of other consumer products, the music-focused stores started to die. Although Tower began selling music downloads on its site in June, digital music sales through such services as iTunes and Amazon.com have also taken a bite.


You know me - I love music. Consequently, I love my local Tower Records. You know those studies that kindly inform you that, by the time you're about ready to start pushing up daisies, you'll have spent 37 years of your life asleep or 19 years commuting to work? Similar studies would reveal that, in my 33 years of life, I've spent about a quarter of them in Tower. I'm serious.

One summer, a friend of mine and I used to go every day. I can't tell you how many times I've shopped drunk in Tower because, in all honestly, I don't remember.

[Aside: But I do remember this one time I was at a lame party and decided to leave. With a friend driving I shotgunned a six-pack during the 20 minute drive (welcome to "Reasons I No Longer Drink") to Tower. Once there, I led a pack of hot women (this was pre-Beth, thank you) through the entire store, giving them a complete tour of each and every section in the store, highlighting their best purchasing options. I was so drunk, it was really late and I had to pee so I pissed in the empty parking lot after the tour only to have them all walk out at the same time which made waving very difficult but not impossible.]

Going to Tower, to me, is like looking for buried treasure. There are thousands upon thousands of CDs and, while most are fairly pedestrian, occasionally there's something you can't live without, something you'd been looking for forever, something you never imagined you'd find.

Of course, the availability of so much music online - either through downloading services or retailers like Amazon - has made finding music much less challenging and less expensive. It's bittersweet for me - I can find what I want more easily but some of the fun's gone. For years, Tower failed to roll with the punches. Their prices mirrored their selection - extreme. In this day and age no one should be expected to pay $18.99 for a single CD anymore. And no one will. Apparently that's a concept Tower now grasps...the hard way. They never changed with the times. Their biggest mistake, perhaps, was assuming they'd forever have the loyalty of their hardcore shoppers, like me.

While I still do walk the aisles of Tower, rarely do I buy prefering instead to find whatever it is for a better price. It's kind of like religion to me. I don't really get anything spiritual out of pretty church. It's a nice building and it's interesting to look around. But the effect isn't so profound that I'd stick with it, no matter what.

Tower Records is an institution and I'd be sad to see it go. I'd understand it, but I'd hate to see it.

Posted by Chris at 6:49 AM | Comments (27)


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