October 31, 2003

Mea Culpa

If I've recently pissed you off, keep reading please! Yesterday I posted and got my facts confused. Del was kind enough to let me know what I did this morning and I've since updated the post. Regardless, I still feel a little guilty about it.

The sniper shootings that took place in and around the Washington DC area a year ago were really, truly frightening. I think most of us were afraid or at least indimidated by doing the mundane - getting gas, hitting an ATM or walking through a grocery store parking lot. And it seemed so random. It wasn't a black or white thing, it wasn't white or blue collar, urban or suburban. And, while I'm not a great believer in the death penalty, these guys, psycho or not, need to be held accountable for what they put the victims, their families and friends and the entire area through.

Regardless, a lesson to all you bloggers - don't try and post until you've consumed the requisite amount of coffee or whatever your stimulant of choice may be. And if I offended anyone, my humble apologies.

Posted by Chris at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

You're A Geek If...

You're a geek if you find this funny...

"Don't anthropomorphize computers. They don't like it."

...yeah, I'm a geek.

Posted by Chris at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)


Yesterday, we received a card in the mail. It was an anniversary card. It was a cute card but it was who it was from that really touched me. The handwritten part of the card simply said, “Sorry this is late. Happy anniversary. Bill.”

Bill’s the dad of an old friend of mine. I grew up in a house down the street and grew up with his son, also conveniently named Bill. Bill Jr. and I went all the way to high school together before I moved from Houston to the Washington DC area.

Growing up, Bill Sr. was a pain in the ass. He was strict and everything had to be a certain way. There was a two way stop where our street crossed a more major road and a few cars a day usually ran through the intersection without stopping. Bill would sit at the corner in his old, maroon Plymouth Volare and literally chase after anyone who blew through the stop sign. He just always struck me as a man with a lot of anger in him.

Almost a year ago, we received a phone call. Bill’s wife, Mary, was visiting relatives in Arkansas. She pulled out of her hotel parking lot in her rental car and was struck by a tractor-trailer. She died instantly.

Bill Sr. surprised us all. He’s still a little lost but he’s been able to keep it all together. He’s a grandfather now, something his wife never got a chance to be. But perhaps the most endearing thing is the cards. I’m sure he never had any clue when anyone’s birthdays or anniversaries were. But at some point, he found Mary’s address book and calendar. And, like she did before she died, he sends cards for all those days Mary found important enough to write down. Sure, they’re usually a little late but it really is the thought that counts.

Posted by Chris at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

What A Little Angel

UPDATE: My entry was a little inaccurate - it was indeed the teenager wounded in one of the sniper attacks who claimed he felt closer to god. My apologies for the inaccuracy - this was posted very quickly. But my original observations stand, for the most part.

I've forever altered this post but many were forever altered by the events that took place in the DC area a year ago. I was one of the people trying to stay away from these guys. Yep, I was one of the people in the DC area trying to find out of the way gas stations to avoid getting shot. Yep, I was one of the people stuck at work because our building was locked down when it was thought these guys were in the area. It was two weeks of hell, wondering if you were going to get shot for doing something simple like stopping at an ATM for cash.

To us, the little punks hiding out the the trunk of their car, picking people off at random, these guys kind of felt like some arbitrary force, but they weren't gods. They were just little pricks with some fucked up ideas about the world.

Posted by Chris at 01:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2003

Its In The Mail

I got home and pulled the mail out of the box and realized its truly voting season in Virginia. I mean, the millions of signs arranged in every possible median strip and grassy area should have tipped me off but the 13 - yes 13 - pieces of mail pimping one candidate after another was a little bit overkill. Silly candidates.

Posted by Chris at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Shake A Stick

Last night...a conversation:

Her: I wonder. What do they mean by 'more something than you can shake a stick at'?
Me: Hmmm.
Her: And why do you want to shake a stick at something anyway?
Me: I'm not sure. Doesn't really seem to make sense does it?
Her: No.
Me: And its not necessarily more of something. I mean, if you had 2 elephants, they'd cover a pretty big area. Like, more than a bunch of penguins.
Her: Yeah. And I guess I need to know what kind of stick.
Me: That's true. I mean, if it were a small stick, you could probably shake it at a lot of stuff.
Her: But if it was big, that would take some effort.
Me: And it wouldn't so much be that there were too many things to actually shake the stick at. It would be that your strength or coordination or whatever ran out because of shaking the stick, not necessarily as a result of the number of things you were shaking the stick at.
Her: Exactly.

And then we fell asleep.

Now, if you've ever actually wondered where that idiom came from, apparently The Lancaster Journal in Pennsylvania first used the phrase to describe the number of local taverns around 1818. It is surmised that the stick in question actually had its origins in livestock herding as a means of counting.

There. You learned something. Never let it be said that this is not an educational blog!

Posted by Chris at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)

October 28, 2003

Mystic River

Credit where credit is due, Denis Lehane is a cut (or two) above most other mystery authors. I'm behind the curve, having only just polished off Mystic River, but for anyone who hasn't read it, check it out. I have a hard time imagining that the movie could be as powerful as the novel.

Posted by Chris at 01:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2003

On A Heavier Note

Most people who know me think I'm pretty darn duckie happy most of the time. And that's true. I really am. I try to be positive, not let the bad stuff get me down. This is why it surprises a lot of people that I fight depression on a semi-regular basis.

Today was one of those days...throw me a curve ball and I do one of two things with it - I either react well and deal with it fine or I react well and get all twisted up inside. I've been dealing with the latter issue the better part of the day. Everyone's got buttons that get pushed and one of mine got smacked with a 2X4. The problem is, I know all will be well but I'll internalize it all and have to deal with my mental gymnastics until it passes which is really a pain for me and those around me.

But I'll live and everything will be duckie fine and the world will continue to turn. Just a pothole in the somewhat bumpy road of life.

Now I will watch Fear Factor, for people eating gross things is bound to cheer me up.

Posted by Chris at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

Next, Thumbwar as Olympic Sport

There was a Rock, Paper, Scissors championship held in Toronto this weekend. One Rob Krueger of team "Legion of the Red Fist" took home the nearly $4000 in prize money. I shit you not.

Posted by Chris at 01:51 PM | Comments (0)

Rainy Days and Mondays...

The combination of absolutely drenching rain and the fact that its Monday are not helping me wake up and get moving this morning. The weekend, however, was gorgeous if not entirely productive.

Courtesy of NetFlix:
I learned yet again that movies often fall well short of the books on which they're based. Needful Things was a prime example. I read the book not long ago but the movie? It bit. And bit hard. Identity, however, was quite good. And I went all retro and popped in St. Elmo's Fire. Ahh, the Brat Pack. Such a cheesy movie with such bad acting. Its amazing any of them are still working in Hollywood...oh...wait...

Outside the House:
We actually went to see a real live movie in theaters. There was nothing we were all that interested in seeing so we decided to see something we cared less about. Runaway Jury. What a nice surprise - the cast was awesome, the plot was very well done and the overall movie was great. Probably the best Grisham film yet. We capped off the evening at a great local Mexican place.

And that's about it. Now its raining, I've got a meeting to head to (yeah, fun) and a couple things due this week so at least I'll be busy. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Posted by Chris at 01:50 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2003

My Sunday

Posted by Chris at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2003

Music As Therapy

In my music room, surrounded by speakers, Dreamland on the stereo, specifically Darkness, Darkness. My amp on, '68 Fender Strat over my shoulder, plugged in, pedals on. It sounds like a drag race. Like a race, you find a lane. You rev up a little bit then you start testing the limits, running fingers and pick up and down the fretboard, finding the right feel and the right sound, making the crude, then fine adjustments. And then you have it. You hold your breath and then plunge. Find the holes in the music where there is no sound, no solo, no melody and weave your own. Mind seemingly connected only to your two hands, you rock on your feet, back and forth in time while your fingers bounce off the fretboard and you play that dirty, dirty solo, sending soaring sounds you didn't know you had in you, holding your breath all the while. Trancelike, the room dissappears and you become the music and the music becomes you, still weaving that sound through existing layers. There's only a brief window where this happens. The house of cards crumbles eventually. Maybe its a bum note or bleeding fingers but you lose it eventually. And you're back to just being a guitar player, in your basement, surrounded by speakers, with a '68 Fender Strat over your shoulder. But for however long that window was open, you were a magician. You breathed life into the music and the music breathed life into you.

Posted by Chris at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)


Once I've ditched the suit and unloaded my pockets for the day, I'm always amazed by how much stuff I carry around with me.

Posted by Chris at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2003

Its All About Meme

I'd like to think I'm not completely dependent on memes. I rarely use 'em. But its sometimes hard for me to get my act together on Fridays which is why I occasionally do the Friday Five. Alas, today there is no Friday Five so I'm creating my own. My theme? None whatsoever.

1. What's your dream job?
Funny you should ask - I was just thinking about that. In all seriousness, I'd like to be a teacher, probably English or history. I think its sad that there's no money in it. Which is why I'm doing what I'm doing. Maybe, once I'm done here, I'll get a degree and a license to teach and spend the rest of my days dodging spitballs.

2. If you won, say, $100 million in the lottery, what would you do with it?
First, I'd pay off my house and the cars and get rid of any credit card debt. Then I'd invest it in some stable fund that would give me some modest amount of return on investment and make sure me and my family are set for the rest of our lives. Whatever's left over, I'd just give away. How bout a fund you use to just do nice things for people - like walk into a Starbucks on a Tuesday morning and pay for everyone's coffee? And I've done a lot of work with the homeless - they provided me with some tough life lessons and I think I need to pay them back.

3. What's your biggest weakness?
I don't drink, don't do anything illegal, don't gamble. I'd say at this point, cigarettes. I quit five years ago. On a recent trip to Paris, my wife and I both decided we could smoke a cigarette or two a day. When we got back, well, we never really quit. I haven't increased my intake but I can't seem to stop.

4. Describe the contents of your office desk.
Complete disrepair. As much as I try, its bad. The obligatory coffee, a left over bag (unopened) of baked Lays potato chips, the normal computer stuff (mouse, keyboard, speakers), a phone which will probably ring off the hook, clock radio, a team appreciation award, big-ass desk calendar, photos of my wife and our wedding, and a whole lot of paper. Oh, and several billion Post-Its.

5. If you could be a superhero, what powers would you have?
I'd fly, of course. X-ray vision would be a plus. I'd want to be able to read minds, but not all the time - only when I wanted to. And sing and make women swoon. Like Sinatra in the 50's. Super Crooner!

Posted by Chris at 01:44 PM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2003

Doin' My Civic Duty

I'm all for doing my civic duty but I could have done without the letter I got in the mail. Fucking jury duty.

Hopefully its something interesting. I don't want to hear the word 'sequester' used...I hear that and I'm breaking out the fake coronary right there in the middle of the courtroom.

Okay, for the record I wouldn't really do that. Still, fucking jury duty.

Posted by Chris at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

Another Meeting

Sometimes it feels like all I do is sit in meetings. And speak in acronyms. When I started this job a couple years ago, I didn't understand what anyone was saying. Now I think I talk like that. So, I'm off to meet a VIP POC ASAP in DC via the HOV. Thankfully, I should be done NLT COB. TTYL!

Posted by Chris at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

Why The Hell Isn't It Friday Yet?

My wife says that I say the same thing every Friday - "It seemed like a really long week." Part of its habit. But it really has seemed like a horribly long week this week. Can we just call it a week?

Posted by Chris at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

Day In The Life

What's the antidote to A Day In The Life by The Beatles? I've been humming it the whole damn day!

Posted by Chris at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

Really Bad Fiction

Through a convoluted series of blog jumps and general linkage, I ended up at a very interesting site - I thought I'd share. The site was created by a seemingly bitter ex-husband when he discovered a cache of badly written fiction written by his ex-wife and discarded after the divorce. When you have a minute, head over to The Worst Novels Ever.

Posted by Chris at 01:41 PM | Comments (0)

The Best Worst Movie Review Ever

Sure, this is stealing content but Entertainment Weekly had a review that absolutely made me - and I don't use this word often - guffaw. Without further ado, here's the review for House of the Dead as reviewed by Scott Brown.

It's hard to write a review worthy of House of the Dead and still use correct spelling and grammar. To properly convey the jaw-dropping shoddiness of this videogame-based ''horror'' ''movie,'' one must approach what scientists call Absolute Stupid, a state previously thought to exist only under highly controlled laboratory conditions or at the highest levels of government. In fairness, the source material lacks the rich mythos of, say, ''Resident Evil'': In the plotless ''House,'' you simply shoot zombies. The movie is fairly faithful in this regard -- clips from the game actually account for a good chunk of the footage. (I'd call this lazy filmmaking, but that would imply the existence of filmmaking here.) The most frightening aspect of ''House'' is its production values. The zombie makeup appears to be designed by a Ritalin-starved tween -- perhaps the same kid who nauseates us with endless sub-''Matrix'' ''rotation'' shots, the kind you can now make with a PC and too much free time. Perhaps he also wrote this brilliant exchange: ''You created it all to be immortal...Why?!?'' The answer: ''To live forever!'' Amazingly, director Uwe Boll and writer Mark A. Altman (''Free Enterprise'') aren't tweens. Jury's still out on the Ritalin. What more can be said about a movie that actually makes you lament, ''Clint Howard, you're too good for this!'' I can barely bring myself to give a flying F.

Posted by Chris at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

UPDATE: Fight For Life...Or Death

Yesterday I made an entry regarding Terri Schiavo, the Florida woman who is the center of a legal, medical and ethical fight. According to news this morning, Governor Bush has ordered that her feeding tube be replaced.

Again, I urge you all to think about living wills - it gives you the opportunity to call the shots instead of - god forbid - a Bush.

Posted by Chris at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

Liza, Surely You Gest

Rarely do I take any kind of pleasure in other people's misery but there's something about the latest Liza Minnelli news that just makes me chuckle.

Apparently estranged husband David Gest has filed suit against Liza for the physical abuse he was subjected to. He claims to be suffering from "throbbing pain, severe headaches, vertigo, nausea, hypertension, scalp tenderness and insomnia" and has been put on 11 prescription medications as a result.

Now, I don't in any way endorse abuse. But, couldn't we all see this one coming? I mean, Michael Jackson was the best man. Gest is supposedly gay. How exactly was this supposed to work out?

Posted by Chris at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

The Weekend - Wha' Happened?

For what seemed like a quiet weekend, we managed to get a lot done!

First off, we got some much needed yardwork done. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we planted somewhere around 120 tulips - that's about 50 more than we planted last year. We whipped the yard into shape and mulched all our flower beds.

Second, we relaxed with a couple of movies. My quick reviews:
Road to Perdition: I was not prepared to like this movie. I like Tom Hanks and Paul Newman but this looked like a slow, boring film. And it was to a certain degree. It was also a beautiful, well acted movie that's definitely worth watching.

A Mighty Wind: A fan of all of Christopher Guest's "mockumentaries" (Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman and Best In Show), I'd been looking forward to seeing this one. It was excellent but perhaps not as good as Best In Show or Waiting for Guffman. Still, even the worst Christopher Guest movie is better than your average film.

Posted by Chris at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2003

Pssst...Check This Out

My new friend Kristi recently posted a link to The Brick Testament, which contains both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible illustrated through Legos. Seriously. This rocks.

Posted by Chris at 01:32 PM | Comments (3)

Fight For Life...Or Death

If you haven't already heard about it, an interesting battle is taking place in Florida. In 1990, Terri Schiavo suffered heart failure which left her in what doctors have described as "a persistent vegetative state." Her husband has fought to have her feeding tube pulled, insisting that his wife specified she did not want to remain on life support should anything happen. Her parents, however, have fought this decision. Today, the state senate is expected to pass emergency legislation giving Governor Bush the right to intervene, allowing him to reinsert the tube.

I truly believe everyone has the right to insist they not be kept alive artifically. Existing in a coma for 13 years is not the way I would want to live. And I believe that, most likely the husband is in the best position to understand his wife's wishes with respect to medical decisions. However, if this doesn't highlight the need for a living will, I don't know what does. Please, please, please - if this is something you haven't considered, put this at the top of your to-do list.

Posted by Chris at 01:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2003

Two Things

#1 - It's frickin' cold in here!

#2 - Does anyone get Entertainment Weekly? If so, check out the Jenna Jameson article. There are a couple of pics of her, one of which is Jenna and her dad standing arm in arm. Under it is a quote about her brilliance transcending the world of porn. Um...I'm happy that, you know, she has his support and all but does that mean he's watching? Ew!

Posted by Chris at 01:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2003

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Yesterday, while planting somewhere around 120 tulips (yes, 120!), I ran across this little guy. He was more than happy to hang around and pose for a few pictures.

Posted by Chris at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2003


Since I introduced Callie last week, I figure Pix would be a little upset if I didn't get his picture up soon as well. So, without further ado, here he is!

In anticipation of any of your questions, yes that is pasta with a nice marinara and yes, he was eating some when this picture was snapped. He does that sometimes. We know its strange.

Posted by Chris at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

October 17, 2003

What the Hell...Friday Five

1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
Not a hell of a lot - orange juice, some Dr. Pepper, soy milk, tortillas and various veggies.

2. Name five things in your freezer.
A half pint of Ben and Jerry's One Sweet Whirled, a ton of food kindly given to us by my mother in law, frozen peas, some Oreo ice cream sandwiches, and - shocker - ice.

3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
Lots of household cleaning products well-deserving of the old Mr. Yuck stickers - anyone remember those? Some dusting rags, various Swiffer products, furniture polish and the garbage disposal.

4. Name five things around your computer.
Our Nick Bantock address book, a lamp, some Lifesavers gummy sour things I was eating yesterday afternoon, a spindle of blank CDs and more pens than you can shake a stick at.

5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
Oh, there's nothing exciting here either. Some Band Aids, razor blades and shaving cream, hair spray, Advil and a few antihistimines.

Posted by Chris at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

Short Attention Span Blogging

1. Is there any doubt that Hagrid Rupert should win the million? I didn't think so.

2. I'm not a huge baseball fan but I'm dissappointed that the Sox didn't make it to the Series. The idea of a Marlins/Yankees series just seems much less exciting to me.

3. Anne's idea of participating in NaNoWriMo is brave and bold but I'm not sure I could pull it off. A novel in 30 days? The problem is, this idea's a lot like skipping class in college was - once you start thinking about it, it's probably going to happen.

4. Everyone's aware of the Federal Do Not Call list, right? Now, do you think we could set something up so I'd stop getting all this snail mail from Republican candidates for whatever?

Posted by Chris at 11:53 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2003

I Spy

If you don't live in or around Washington, D.C., you're probably not aware that there's an entire museum devoted to the history of spying. If you're ever in the area, you should check it out. The hand's-on exhibits are great - you can even crawl through air ducts and listen in on people's conversations.

Posted by Chris at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)


Have you ever had one of those moments in which you're sure your life will end? Not an oh-shit-that-bus-came-a-little-too-close-to-the-curb-for-comfort moments. But a there's-no-imaginable-way-that-I-didn't-die kind of moment. I have one that I was, for some reason, thinking about yesterday.

When I was around 9 or 10, we had lots of kids in the neighborhood growing up. I hung out and got along with most of them. Except for one. Surprisingly, I don't really recall his name but for this exercise we'll call him Prick. Prick McDumbass. I'd had run-ins with Prick before. He was just a pain in the ass. Kind of mean but not a bully, he just needed knocking down by a peg or two.

One day we're all out riding our bikes (mine was a Mongoose, remember those?). Everyone was riding as fast as they could and jumping this ramp in the driveway across from the McDumbass' house. It was my turn and I started hauling ass down the street and just before I got towards the ramp, around which most of my friends were gathered, Prick pulls out an arrow. A real live arrow he stole from his dad. And it was pointed in my direction, right in my patch.

Needless to say the arrow didn't go straight through my heart or do much damage. I managed to bail and crash the bike about an inch before it would have made contact. The arrow stuck in my handlebar as I went flying off the bike. A few cuts and bruises and a completely trashed bike were much better than the alternative.

I still hold a grudge agains Prick McDumbass wherever he may be now. He almost killed me. But he didn't, and I guess that's the important thing.

Posted by Chris at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2003

The Casual Etymologist

Why exactly are 'bad words' bad? Who decided that 'fuck' was evil but 'rutabaga' - which, to me, sounds much dirtier - was perfectly fine? Look up 'rutabaga' in the dictionary sometime - thick, bulbous and fleshy are all words used to describe it. Surely, that's worse than 'fuck'. It seems so arbitrary.

Posted by Chris at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2003


Everyone, I'd like you to meet Calypso, Callie for short. Will also answer to The Cipster, Caliptus Rex and Callie The Great.

Callie is the epitome of a lap cat. She's been living with us for about five years. My wife originally got her when she (my wife) was 12. The look on her face probably has to do with a lack of affection for the new camera. And she's well aware that her legs appear way too small for her body. She drools and snores but she does a mean impression of Elvis, thanks to a little sneer caused by a missing canine tooth. And she's got a purr like you wouldn't believe.

Posted by Chris at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

Legislation for Dummies

I don't want to be the blogger who just posts links to other people's content but Dawn made two interesting points recently, one about "Marriage Protection Week" and the second regarding some new trade policies established by the current administration. I think Dawn's summed it up well and the comments she's been receiving have been enlightening.

My basic statement about these issues is this: When did it become okay to legislate values? Why is it necessary to mandate a point of view, an opinion?

UPDATE: In addition, Annie has a particularly impressive rant on the subject of Marriage Protection Week.

Posted by Chris at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2003

Fear Factor for the Other 99.96%

I'll admit it...I watch Fear Factor. There. I said it. But in my defense, I want it known that I wholeheartedly endorse the creation of a Fear Factor for the rest of us. Sure, seeing supermodel thin women with 34DDD boobs jumping into tanks of cold water is fun but would it really hurt to have the occasional mother of three with 36As? Or, instead of the buff, know-nothing jock fresh off the college football field have a 35 year-old balding car salesman with love handles? I mean, its not supposed to really represent the public but it would be nice if it captured a little more than .04% of this country's population.

I'm done...I'm going back downstairs to watch the rest of the episode.

Posted by Chris at 11:46 AM | Comments (0)

Haiku for Monday #2

Monday comes too soon
You can’t hit “snooze” forever
But you sure can try

Posted by Chris at 11:45 AM | Comments (1)

October 12, 2003

That Whole DiVinci Code Thing

I'm always skeptical about conventional wisdom, especially when it comes to books. I caved and finally read The DiVinci Code. Well worth it - highly recommended.

Posted by Chris at 11:45 AM | Comments (17)

Sayings for Sunday

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

-Robert Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

"When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?"

-Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters

Posted by Chris at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2003

Do The Friday Dance

It's Friday! Everybody do the Friday dance.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

Music That Sucks #1: It Bites

As you may have gathered, I'm a major music fan. Throughout the years, I've managed to accumulate quite a collection. And, as in any collection, there are some real duds. I figured I'd share a few as a somewhat regular feature here. So, the first entry...

Album: Eat Me In St. Louis
Artist: It Bites

Really, I'm not sure I have to explain how I feel about this one. The title of the album says it all. It Bites was a British progressive rock band that banged around for a few years in the 80's. They resembled a poor-man's Styx...and that's not intended to sound like a good thing. They had some decent musicians and actually gained a small following - hard to believe with songs like "Yellow Christian" and the inspiring, "You'll Never Go To Heaven." Lead singer Francis Dunnery went on to play with Robert Plant and develop a small following with a solo career (and I've actually liked all of his solo work) but none of the other members have done much since. Truly, It Bites bites.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2003

Getting Chased By Stuff

Two of Anne's recent posts have gotten me thinking about getting chased and paranoia. I thought I'd share.

Tell people that you think you’re being followed and they’ll think you’re a little paranoid. Tell them you think something’s chasing you, and they’ll think you’re nuts. While I might be both paranoid and off-kilter, I got into a conversation the other day and suddenly realized that nature has it in for me. I’m serious.

Stuff that's chased me:
Pet dogs
German German Shepherds (I meant to type it like that)
Black Bears

Example One: Pet Dogs
Growing up everyone gets chased by dogs. That’s a given. One day while I was at my neighbor’s house, I was playing with his dog. I can’t remember the dog’s name but he’s most likely dead now and I’m not going to shed a tear. It was a little dog, maybe Jack Russell size, and it got it into its little head that it was going to chase me. And it did. Then it played nice so I’d bend over, reach down and give his cute little head a scratch. And I did. It was then that it opened its mouth and latched on to my ear.

Example Two: Alligators
I lived in Texas for the first 15 years of my life. It was a great place to be a kid. Not only was Houston a decent city to grow up in but there were a lot of places to go outside the city. We usually went to this huge park once a year and did a little camping. It was right on a bayou so it was chock full of alligators. See where this is going? Yep. Chased by an alligator. I escaped unharmed.

Example Three: German German Shepherds
Traveling through Europe several years ago, we stopped at a gas station. I wanted some water and the kind lady behind the counter was able, in broken English, to direct me to a hose close to the road. I headed towards it and it was then that the lady’s two German shepherds attacked. Like a no-shit, full-on attack. I hauled ass knowing that I was dead. Within (literally, I’m not making this up or exaggerating the circumstances for my benefit or yours) about a foot of reaching my heels, the lady behind the counter emerged and called off the dogs.

Example Four: The Grouse
A grouse is a strange bird. I looks a little like a chicken and is about the same size but its got this amazing ability to inhale a bunch of air and puff itself up to about twice its size. One day hiking in the mountains of Wyoming, I managed to piss a grouse off. I’d seen a little chicken-like thing along the path but thought nothing of it. Until this turkey-sized bird came screaming up behind me. Of course, I took off running, not knowing exactly what this loud puffy thing was. After 50 feet or so it stopped. I turned around and here was this little chicken thing. As quickly as it had stopped, it puffed up again and started. Not exactly sure what it could do to me, I took off again. The grouse and I did this for another five minutes until it eventually got bored.

Example Five: Bears
Quite obviously I spent a little time in the mountains - like, every summer for many years. Unfortunately on one of those days, hiking in the mountains, I found myself between a mother black bear and her cub. For those of you who know little about bears or maternal instinct, this is a bad thing, one of nature's big no-no's. I did the calm, rational thing - I slowly backed away, keeping my eye on the mother. Then I turn around and ran like hell. Carl Lewis style running. Deviating from the trail I headed straight down the slope of the mountain's foothills jumping over trees, running through streams, and for a good quarter mile, that black bear was not too far behind me. Eventually she got tired or just lost interest.

Example Six: Cows
Now, you might think it strange that I got chased by cows. Frankly, I thought it was pretty odd at the time. A friend of mine and I had been camping on an island in the middle of the Potomac River near Point of Rocks, Maryland. We were canoeing back to the car when we ran across a very shallow spot in the river, so shallow we had to get out and carry the canoe. Around the same time, we started noticing a high concentration of cows, not on the banks of the river but in the river itself. They really weren't all that happy to see us, especially the bulls. So...yes, you've spotted the trend...they chased us. And that's how I got chased up the middle of the Potomac River by cows.

Posted by Chris at 11:42 AM | Comments (0)

Ahnuld...The Morning After

I have this hunch...electing Ahnuld was probably fun. It was one of those things where people ran to the voting booths smiling, thinking about how amusing it would be if he actually got elected. Like a college prank on a really large scale. I predict, however, that California's going to wake up sometime soon, wonder what the hell it was thinking, and dig around its bedside stand for some policical RU-486.

Posted by Chris at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

On This Day...

This very day, four years ago, my wife and I got married. Its hard to believe its been four whole years! Time flies...but its time well spent.

Posted by Chris at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

Good In A Crisis?

A conversation between my wife and I last night:

Me: Did you wake me up to protect you or something last night?
Her: Yeah.
Me: Okay. I couldn't remember if that actually happened or not.
Her: It happened.
Me: Okay. What happened?

As it turns out, night before last, around 12:30, after being asleep for about an hour, my wife wakes me up.

"I don't know but I hear noises," she says.
"Huh?" I muttered groggily.
"I think its one of the cats but it sounds like other noises in the house."
"Huh?" I muttered.
"We need to check it out. There might be someone in the house."
"Huh?" I muttered again, getting out of bed.

Ever been awakened when you're just dead asleep? So much so that suddenly getting up is just an amazing shock to the system? That was me. But, cold and, possibly without any clothing at all (I don't really remember), I wandered into all the rooms of the house, walking into at least every wall we've got and tripping down stairs in a numb haze of fleeting sleep. Had I been actually confronted with a burglar, I'm sure the most effective thing I could have done was trip on him.

Regardless, this all calls into question my ability to function in a crisis, in the middle of the night. I'm sure, had it actually been something real, I would have been able to respond better. But it wasnt (thank god).

UPDATE: It's come to my attention that many might assume from this that my wife was freaking out and generally unable to defend herself. This is so not true. She could totally kick ass...assuming I wasn't nodding off between her and any attacker.

Posted by Chris at 11:40 AM | Comments (1)

October 07, 2003

My 100th

It certainly doesn't seem like I started this thing so long ago but this happens to be my 100th entry. Please keep in mind that I promised myself before I even started contemplating running a blog that I would never, under any circumstances, blog on and on about blogging. When I first started thinking about doing this, I took a good look through lots of blogs and realized early on that the most interesting ones were those that didn't ramble about blogging itself.

That said, I'm going to break my little rule for my 100th post and ask you guys two questions.

Question One:
We wander through life and pretty frequently, I'm sure we all ask ourselves what we're going through all this trouble for. We're born, we live - hopefully leading positive lives - and we die. Nothing morbid or negative about it - its just the way it works. So, scaling back that big-ass concept to the world of blogging, what does this all mean, specifically, what impacts do the relationships/friendships/acquaintences we form through blogging have? If I, or any other blogger you frequented, flipped off their machine, shut down their server and went offline, what would you feel?

Question Two:
I realize that I've been remiss in actually posting a lot about myself. There's not much of an "about" section over there on the right and I haven't done a "100 Things." I plan on rectifying that. To that end - what do you want to know?

Yeah, I realize that was more than two questions. More like two topics. But I really would appreciate your feedback. And I've said it before but I'll say it again - I really thank you all for dropping by.

Posted by Chris at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

October 06, 2003


I thought it would be a busy day...so much so that I came in nice and early as usual and got a bunch of stuff out of the way. Turns out, its a little on the quiet side. And of course, I got all the major stuff done this morning. Really, what I'm saying here is that I'm bored. For once, thank god for afternoon meetings!

Posted by Chris at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

Books of my Recent Past

There are millions of books out there and, frankly, there are millions of you as well, so I don't really expect long discussions on books we all have in common - I'm not sure how many of those there would be. But sometimes I feel obligated to mention some of the things I read (those things, by the way, are located over there on the right >>).

Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. I wasn't impressed. There was no story there. Instead, he showed snapshots of a war-torn Sri Lanka. And while that was interesting, it didn't produce a moving novel.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. A tremendously unconventional, trippy, freaky novel chock full of social satire and a healthy disdain for our consumer culture. I hadn't read a Palahniuk novel since Fight Club first appeared (the book, not the movie) but I'm glad I did. I don't think reading Palahniuk is ever particularly enjoyable but the end result was nothing less than fantastic.

A Thing (Or Two) About Curtis and Camilla by Nick Fowler. Again, this was a real dissappoint to me. It had such potential. Mix the humor of Nick Hornby and the playfulness of Dave Eggers and you have what would appear to be a great writer. Sadly, the story didn't live up to the talent of the author.

So, there you have it. My opinions, nothing more. Please feel free to argue with me anytime.

Posted by Chris at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Hell on Earth: Update

Think back to last week and you may remember my post about that wacky group of kids getting together to play some groovy tunes while some nice person offed themselves. Since just about every venue kicked them to the curb, they were relegated to broadcasting their show online. Enter hackers. Another wacky group of kids - these hailing from Hong Kong - seems to have shut them down...but only for a week. Will the show go on?

Posted by Chris at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

The Amazing Race

Tomorrow's the big day in California. Using your keen mental powers, tell me who's going to win and why.

Personally, I have a feeling that Ahnuld might just pull it off...that is, unless another 15 women come forward claiming he sexually harrassed them as well. But I guess that hasn't (sadly) made a difference so far. Maybe California voters will come to their senses and realize that this is all great entertainment but only entertainment.

Posted by Chris at 11:37 AM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

Hell On Earth?

I have no problem with physician-assisted suicide. I don’t believe that anyone, anywhere should be forced by the government to suffer when the outcome is a foregone conclusion. There’s a slippery slope there – I’m well aware of that. But I don’t think that anyone has the right to legislate the decisions I make about myself.

But suicide as entertainment?

Tampa Bay band Hell on Earth promoted an upcoming show by letting their fans know there would be an onstage suicide. Apparently a terminally ill fan is perfectly willing to put a plastic bag over his or her head and suffocate onstage to help the band draw a crowd (“Killing Me Softly,” anyone?). If you’re lucky, lead singer Billy Tourtelot may also sodomize a skinned pig, something he’s known to do when he’s feeling frisky.

Billy responded to recent criticism by saying “This is about standing up for what you believe in, and I am a strong supporter of physician-assisted suicide." Since when is a plastic bag over the head physician-assisted suicide?

I’m not easily offended. I think I’m open-minded, non-judgmental, liberal, forward-thinking but for me, this crosses the line. There’s a perversion here that I just don’t understand.

Posted by Chris at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2003

Ozzy Does Broadway

Apparently, Ozzy's writing a musical about Rasputin. I'm so there when that opens. Can you imagine the dialogue?

Rasputin: Hello. I'm fucking...
Alexandra: Rasputin.
Rasputin: Yeah, right. I'm fucking Rasputin!
Alexandra: Fuck right, you are.
Rasputin: Fucking A its cold in...
Alexandra: Russia. We're fucking in fucking Russia.
Rasputin: Yeah. Me fucking nipples could cut glass.
Alexandra: Yup.
Rasputin: So, I hear your son's a fucking bleeder,eh?
Alexandria: Yep. He's a homophobe.
Rasputin: Fuck.
Alexandria: Fuck.

Posted by Chris at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

What's In A Name?

Ever wondered where Rude Cactus came from? Maybe its time I pull back the curtain and let you in on the secret…

When I was growing up in Houston, I became completely and hopelessly addicted to music. I remember when I was really little, I used to crash with my dad’s stereo and play DJ. He had a microphone that broadcasted over the speakers and everything. My parents would take me up to Sound Warehouse and I’d get all kinds of 45s and spin them all weekend. The obsession with music only grew.

When I was 13 or so, I went to my first concert. I remember afterwards being utterly blown away. Here were these five guys on stage at The Summit creating this wall of sound for two and a half hours. It was unbelievable. I think from that moment on, I was hooked. Music was my passion.

Throughout all of this, some of my closest friends and I shared our music. Nights when parents were out were dominated by blaring Led Zeppelin tunes, a haze of cigarette smoke and way-underage drinking. But it was all about the music – we wanted to be these guys. Screaming to Zeppelin, The Stones, The Doors, old Van Halen and early Guns N Roses. It was magic.

Later that year we hatched a plan – our own band. If these guys could do it, why couldn’t we? There was a pretty simple answer to that – we weren’t all that good. But we tried. Me on guitars, vocals and keys, Brad on keys and vocals and Matt on drums. Sure, we didn’t have a bass player but that didn’t seem to bother us. We were a band. We were making music. We were Rude Cactus.

Fifteen, sixteen (damn!) years later, I still have some very fond memories of that time. We were so innocent and our love of the music was so pure it was as if the rest of the world ceased to exist when the radio was on. Maybe I was the only one that was happy. Brad tried to kill himself a few times during that period of time – I was the one who stopped him each time. Matt drank way too much for a 14 year old and got himself into quite a few moped accidents. I was the one who tried to hold it all together.

We’ve all gone our separate ways. From what I understand, Brad came out of the closet a few years back, not something that surprised me at all. I’m not sure what happened to Matt. And while many things have changed, my love of music and my fond memories of Rude Cactus have not. Every once in a while, when I plug my guitar in and flip on my amp, I play a few riffs of some of the old Rude Cactus playlist and it all comes back.

Posted by Chris at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)