June 30, 2004


I worked so damn much this month, I came home early. So I had a little time to sort through the pictures I took last night at the concert and found a few that didn't suck as bad as the rest (see how I'm working for you?). Also? My zoom sucks so apologies in advance. It wasn't just a concert for little people, although we were close to Midgetville. The one below was a complete accident but I liked how it came out.

On to the pictures...

Posted by Chris at 01:45 PM | Comments (10)

Rufus, Guster and Ben

As I mentioned yesterday, Beth and I went to see Rufus Wainwright, Guster and Ben Folds last night at Wolf Trap. How was it, you may ask? Well...

The show started promptly at 7:00 – Rufus took to the stage dressed in black and pounded out an hour-long set that was nothing short of fantastic. While the audience was still getting settled and people were finding it hard to keep their mouths shut (including the robobitches behind us), Rufus shined on Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (although no one can ever convince me Jeff Buckley’s version isn’t better). He then introduced his mom who took over piano duties while he belted out Somewhere Over the Rainbow. If you have any doubts that this guy can sing, trust me. He’s amazing. Guster backed him on one song but the set was primarily solo.

I have to admit, I only own the latest Guster album. Some of it is truly inspired but some of the album was merely meh. I really wasn’t prepared to be wowed by them but…well…I was wowed by them. They’re truly a fantastic live band. And the percussionist? Get outta town! Incredible! I was very pleased that they played what I think is the best song off their latest – Come Downstairs and Say Hello.

Ben Folds helped Guster finish off their set then hung around to carry on with his own. I’ve always liked Ben Folds but I’ve never been an ardent fan…until now, that is. Folds is a fantastic songwriter, musician and all-around entertainer. He transformed the audience into horn sections, abused a perfectly good piano (how’d you like to be the guy who has to tune that every night?) and even launched into a seventies metal style number with Guster, for which the only intelligible lyrics seemed to be “rock this bitch” screamed while standing on aforementioned abused piano. The highlight? Well, that had to be the emotional duet between Folds and Wainwright on Wham’s Careless Whisper – and by emotional, I mean they were both laughing most of the way through the song. He closed the show, four hours after it started, by directing the audience in a choir-like sing-along that, on a cool moonlit night seemed almost heavenly.

PS - Pictures will be posted this evening if any of them turn out to be halfway decent.

Posted by Chris at 07:37 AM | Comments (24)

June 29, 2004


Tonight I'm going to Wolf Trap, one of the coolest venues ever, to see Ben Folds, Guster and Rufus Wainwright. One concertgoing curiosity I've always had - who is that dude that always screams "Freebird" between songs? Is it one guy who does nothing but travel from place to place, turning up at concerts all over the world? Or is there some type of "Freebird" representation system where one person is chosen for each show? I mean, look, everyone at concerts claps, some scream and there are usually a bunch of people holding lighters above their heads... but there's only one poor bastard who screams "Freebird" at the top of his lungs on any given night. I've made a decision - tonight is my night. I'm going to be the "Freebird" guy.

Posted by Chris at 03:06 PM | Comments (17)

Sacre Bleu!


Martha recently wrote about an interesting food experience in France. That post managed to jar something lose, a previously blocked memory that I figured I'd share.

When I was younger (so much younger than today, for you Beatles fans), shorter and blonder, I went on a family vacation to France with my parents. After a couple of days in Paris, we rented a car and drove around the countryside, also journeying into Germany, Austria and Switzerland and occasionally running through flowered hilltops singing the theme from The Sound of Music. Europe, showtunes - what could be better? Well, except for that one meal in Chablis.

We'd been driving much of the morning and we found a nice little sidewalk cafe seemingly untouched by the hand of tourism. This meant menus in French without the handy little English translations. My mom and I ordered the same thing, which looked to be some sort of ham thing while my father ordered something else, which actually did turn out to be ham. Speaking no French, we should have had super Spidey-vision and picked up on some of the visual cues from our waiter. That questioning look he gave us should have said "whatever you do, you do not want to order that you silly American people!" But no. We just smiled back and nodded like, well, silly American people.

When the waiter returned with our meals, he deposited a nice plate full of ham slices in a white wine sauce in front of my father. In front of my mom and I? Well...allow me to describe it. Picture, if you dare, a large plate. Its garnished nicely and resting on a bed of lettuce is a somewhat long, sausage-like thing. The thing is kind of pink, but with darker purple bits throughout. It looked not unlike...A PENIS!!

In the spirit of adventure, my mom and I both picked up our forks, cut into whatever it was, and tried a bite. You know how there are some things that just look awful but taste really good? This was not one of them. Whoever came up with this dish should have been beaten with ladles and whisked to death. My mom and I exchanged glances and we both had looks of extreme displeasure on our faces. My dad chimed in with something helpful like, "well, that sure doesn't look good." No shit, dad. Thanks.

We summoned the waiter, realizing we'd made a mistake. At this point, we weren't exactly starving anymore but we were curious - what exactly were these things on our plates?

In a mix of badly spoken French (us), slaughtered English (the waiter), intervention from the chef and many odd and terrifying hand gestures, we were finally able to figure out what it was...A PENIS!!

Apparently, in this little part of France, they liked to use all of the pig. ALL of it. When faced with the decision of what to do with the pig penis, they decided, "oh, lets stuff it full of cabbage, put it on a plate and serve it for dinner!" I'm here to tell you this was not the correct decision. Not at all. Needless to say, we didn't continue to feast on our lunch. We had some of my dad's ham, preferring the other end of the pig to the one with which we were originally presented.

That wasn't the only horrible meal in France - there was the time I was served red cabbage and a raw egg in a piece of pastry I thought was rather odd - but it was certainly the worst. I can happily report that the last time we were in France, I was on the lookout for rogue penises. None were found and good food was had by all without exception.

Posted by Chris at 08:11 AM | Comments (24)

June 28, 2004

Small World...After All

Here's a "small world" story for you...

I run a slightly large project for a client. I've got a team of people helping me accomplish this, of course. Now, I have to replace one of those people because they're moving on to bigger and better things - like anyone could ever find anything better than working for me! Okay...maybe that's doable. I was scheduled to have a conference call with a replacement candidate this afternoon. This isn't a formal interview. The candidate already works for my company but I've got to make sure she has the right mojo and all. When I glanced at her resume right before the conference call (damnit, I was busy - you expect me to do this ahead of time?) I ran across a very familiar company name. Turns out one of my favorite bloggers works for a company with the same name. Was it possibly the same company? Yes! Could said blogger actually know this person? Yes! Wanna talk about a quick reference? I got the scoop on the candidate via IM in about 0.005 seconds then jumped on the call!

Is it any wonder that I constantly stress the importance of not burning bridges and setting up good personal and business networks? The world can inflate and contract, getting bigger and smaller. You never know how small the world could be on any particular Monday.

Posted by Chris at 05:04 PM | Comments (9)

Haiku For Monday #36

So many things to
get done by the end of June.
Ugh, ew...and all that.

Posted by Chris at 07:34 AM | Comments (7)

June 27, 2004

Takes a Lickin'

Got tongue?

Posted by Chris at 07:17 PM | Comments (11)

Sunday Morning Conversation

The scene? Early Sunday morning, lying in bed. Beth decides to get up...

Me: Where are you going?
Her: Switzerland.
Me: Better wear beige.
Her: Why? Because they're neutral?
Me: Yeah. Why are you going?
Her: To smuggle back chocolate.
Me: And cheese!
Her: And watches!
Me: You could be, like, a mule. You know, like they do with drugs.
Her: I could put watches in condoms and smuggle them back into the country.
Me: Yeah. Except if the condom burst, you'd OD on time.

Posted by Chris at 08:47 AM | Comments (11)

June 26, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11

This morning, my wife and I went to see Michael Moore's latest - Fahrenheit 9/11. Based on the number of other folks there, I’ve got a feeling Moore will be enjoying a nice opening weekend.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is possibly the best film Moore's made. Gone is Moore's active participation in his films. Aside from a few instances in which he corners people on the street or reads the Patriot Act in front of the Capitol, Moore's rarely seen. Of course, its no more objective because of it. The sounds of 9/11 against a blank movie screen were particularly difficult to sit through. Scenes of war torn Iraq were equally disturbing. But the most disturbing? Moore's allegations. Even if only a tenth turn out to be true (though, I suspect most have some merit), we've all submitted to the most corrupt and utterly incompetent administration in our history.

I know that many of you don't share the same political views as I. I'm uber-liberal and have never made any excuses for it - and I've never held ones political affiliation against them. Its just not fair. Fahrenheit 9/11 is propaganda raised to the level of an art form. Its biased, its outspoken in its condemnation of the current administration and it goes out of its way to make Bush and the rest of the players look like idiots. So, in my humble opinion, its pretty accurate. If you reside on the other end of the political spectrum, will you like it? No. Should you see it? Definitely. In order to make decisions in life, you have to be educated. Considering the other side is imperative.

Posted by Chris at 02:02 PM | Comments (20)

June 25, 2004

Step Three: Obligatory B&A

...and now the reveal...

If you're wondering what I'm talking about, see steps one and two. Now, enough with the dishwasher...

Posted by Chris at 02:36 PM | Comments (18)

Friday...Live From Home

I have a dentist appointment today...and this is a good thing. Why, you ask? Has he lost his mind? Well, possibly but at the rate this week was going, maybe an hour reclined in the dentist's chair would be a relaxing alternative. The added benefit is that I'm working from home today.

By the way...great turnout for the Thursday Haiku Smackdown yesterday. Lots of new faces too!

Happy Friday everyone!!

Posted by Chris at 07:11 AM | Comments (13)

June 24, 2004

Haiku Smackdown!

Welcome one and all to the Thursday Haiku Smackdown! Check out the pictures (below), go forth and be funny.

Posted by Chris at 06:00 AM | Comments (287)

June 23, 2004

Step Two: The Installation

Success! The new dishwasher is in...no leaks and it works perfectly.

I wasn't quite as cranky as I thought I'd be...but I did stick my tongue out at my wife a number of times.

Posted by Chris at 08:49 PM | Comments (15)


I've found myself with a few extra Gmail invites. Anyone interested? My terms are flexible and you won't have to sign over your souls...well, not completely. Email me at blog AT rudecactus DOT com.

Posted by Chris at 02:39 PM | Comments (4)

Hump Day!

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! I have a meeting with Crazy Client to whom I've referred so many times before. Also? I walked in this morning and there seems to be an issue with the fire alarm throughout the whole building - its not exactly going off but emitting a loud hum that seems to be set to the frequency at which one's sinuses and skull begin to fracture after about 20 seconds of exposure.

All together now...today will not suck, today will not suck, today will not suck....

Posted by Chris at 06:52 AM | Comments (11)

June 22, 2004

Step One: The Removal

The dishwasher has left the building...or at least gotten one step closer.

Tomorrow? Installation of the new one. I predict much cursing.

Posted by Chris at 07:02 PM | Comments (10)

Tuesday, Snoozeday

There are a few reasons why I’m skeptical that today will end up being an overwhelmingly positive experience.

- I’m bored and tired. My job ebbs and flows. Its ebbing today. And my wife made good on her threat to wake up uber-early and go to the gym. She usually goes after work but decided to switch things up a bit. I woke up, couldn’t go back to sleep and ended up rolling into the office around 5:45 AM.

- I’m surrounded by very large, very empty coffee cups and packets of generic pain relievers from our office medicine cabinet. I’ve chosen “Maximum Strength Non-Aspirin” over “Maximum Strength Pain Away.” Catchy names, huh?

- When I get home today, I get to unhook the dishwasher. Granted, this will be much more fun than installing the new dishwasher tomorrow night.

- Did I mention I have pretty much nothing to do today?

- Well, I lied. I do have an afternoon meeting which should drone on for, oh, an hour or two.

Posted by Chris at 01:45 PM | Comments (10)


I realize that, if comments are any indication, my primary readership is comprised of women. Don’t think I don’t appreciate that. Also, could someone tell me why? I’m just curious. Anyway, this may or may not be an issue for everyone but its been bugging me for a little while.

The men’s room on our floor has two stalls and two urinals. Like most stalls, I’m able to see if they’re occupied by the presence of disembodied feet. As common sense dictates, once you find yourself a comfortable stall in which business can be conducted, there are a couple of preparatory approaches you can take. You can:

a. Allow your pants to drop to the floor, thus settling around your ankles.

b. Pull your pants down just as far as you need, allowing slack in said pants to be evenly distributed thus avoiding “trouser bunchage.”

c. Remove your pants altogether.

Frankly, I’ve never seen option c in practice and I’d like it to stay that way. The astonishing thing to me is the frequency with which I see option a used.

Bathroom floors, whether they’re in the Ritz or Old Sal’s Taco Stand and Dairy Mart, are not known for being the cleanest of surfaces. Nor are they known to always be dry. So do you really want to be mopping that stuff up with your pants? Now you’re walking around all day with bathroom all over your ass. That can’t be good for anyone. That's why I'm happy to announce that I endorse option b as the official Rude Cactus Bathroom Methodology. Live it, learn it, love it.

Posted by Chris at 11:02 AM | Comments (24)

June 21, 2004

Day Over

I pulled close to a 12 hour day today. I'm tired. The meetings started at 8:30 and went on almost constantly until 5:30. There are laws against that kind of thing aren't there?

Posted by Chris at 07:33 PM | Comments (7)

Parenting 101

Beth and I had dinner with some friends - we'll call them Debbie and Ted - at their place Friday night. They're not married, merely live together, and both have kids by their previous marriages. Debbie's two kids, aged seven and nine, live with them. They're also an interesting couple - Debbie's from a small Southern town and Ted's a true Long Island Italian. Yet somehow it all works. Probably the most notable thing about them is the success they've had with Debbie's kids. I've never met two nicer, genuinely cool kids in my life.

What's the point of all this? Well, we assign a lot of blame to society and claim its ruining our kids. Or we fault broken homes. Or video games, movies or what's on the radio. Rarely do we actually recognize the triumph of parenting over these things. Its time we started.

Posted by Chris at 02:11 PM | Comments (13)

Haiku For Monday #35

Gorgeous morning but
I'll be stuck inside all day.
Still, beautiful day.

Posted by Chris at 07:03 AM | Comments (7)

June 20, 2004

Father's Day

Summer in Virginia is never like this - mid-seventies, dry, cloudless and breezy. Could this day be any nicer?

We did the obligatory Father's Day stuff, visiting both sets of parents and dropping off appropriate cards and gifts. Beth's parents had way too much food (resulting in excessive sleepyness this afternoon) and my parents had, of course, the herd of cute kitties that were entertaining as always.

The only problem with the weekend? Its largely over. That, and the fact that Beth and I never managed to cook the big breakfast we'd promised ourselves. So, we're having blueberry pancakes for dinner. Sometimes being an adult really pays off.

Posted by Chris at 06:10 PM | Comments (13)

June 19, 2004

Suburban Jetpack Blues

As one who understands the nature of fate, don’t give your future a second thought. In the space of a few breaths, those inhales and those exhales, the whole world could change. Imagine that. Remember those old ads from the fifties? Jet packs. Where are my jet packs? Toasters of the future. Bubble cars that could drive themselves. Kitchens with every modern convenience. It seems sometimes that all we’ve really improved are the methods with which we kill people. Give me my fucking jet packs, son, so I can fly the hell away from here and go someplace nice, someplace where people make some sense. Someplace where people aren’t knocking the hell out of each other.

He stood on a suburban street corner next to an Army duffel bag that was almost as tall as he was. It looked as though he was wearing a dozen layers of clothes, but it could have been more. You can’t carry everything you own. Sometimes you have to wear it.

When they took me in, the last time, when they grabbed my poor sorry ass and dragged it all that way to jail – the pokey, the clink, the slammer, the joint – they told me a joke. Three men walk into a bar. The fourth one ducked. Can you believe that? Can you believe those motherfuckers tried to pass that off as funny? Like, I’m just some poor dude out on the streets but I don’t have no sense of humor? I just looked at them and I said just take my poor ass into the joint cos I don’t need your jokes.

His arms were wrapped in plastic garbage bags – some white, some black. He punctuated every sentence with a wave of his arms, accentuating each point by the rustle of plastic. Crumpled newspapers escaped from his waistline and his pants legs – odd since it was the middle of summer.

Did you know I went to Harvard? I’m just kidding. I didn’t go to Harvard. I went to Princeton. Ha! Princeton! Come on, you know I don’t look like a Harvard grad. But I sure as hell can diagram a sentence. Bet none of you all can do that. I only went there for a year. Then I dropped out. Then the Army came looking for me. Then it was just the Viet Cong. I was happier with the Army, if you want me to be honest with you. Charlie? Charlie didn’t ask about eyesight. Charlie didn’t give you the once-over, check your ears, eyes, nose and throat, and send you away for a year or two. Charlie just shot you between the eyes, or whatever pieces of you just happened to be sticking up.

He’d drawn a small crowd, rocking back and forth, faster and faster as his speech grew more furious in its delivery.

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone
Sometimes I feel like I’m almost gone
A long, long, long way from my home
I got a telephone in my bosom
And I can call him up from my heart
I got a telephone in my bosom
And I can call him up from my heart
When I need my brother
When I need my father

He sang it like Richie Havens did, strumming furiously on a guitar that wasn’t there, singing to an audience that’d gathered more out of mild curiosity than anything else. This was his Woodstock.


He became unsteady and his voice faltered.


And then he fell. And in the space of a few inhales and a few exhales, he died. He’d overdosed on heroin and had been in and out of shelters the better part of his last twenty years. None of us ever learned much more about him. We talked to the police, told them what we’d seen and then the whole thing just went away.

We’d witnessed the arrival of his future, his jetpack and hopefully his journey someplace nice.

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


Brief follow-up...more than three hours later and there have been a minimum of 150 people stopping by the house next door. If they stop and get out of their cars, they stay for under a minute - only a few have stayed longer. They're arriving with nothing and leaving with nothing.

I think we can rule out a yard sale. They're not selling the house because they rent. This is no party - no one's here long enough. I highly doubt drugs are involved. What's going on? Ideas?

Update: Apparently what we witnessed this morning was a moving sale. I say 'apparently' because we never saw anyone actually take anything. Regardless, the neighbors have now started to pack all their stuff up.

Posted by Chris at 10:44 AM | Comments (11)


We went over to a friend's place for dinner last night and ended up out very much past my bedtime...especially since I was pretty well shot to begin with last night. Regardless, we had a very good time. But for some reason, I couldn't fall asleep...and when I eventually did, I couldn't stay asleep. I've been up since 6:00 AM and I don't even have to work or anything!

The funny thing is that I've been sitting here, answering email and surfing, while dozens of cars have been pulling up in front of the house and turning around. Some of the drivers are getting out of their cars and heading for the house next door but they all end up leaving within seconds. And all this started around 7:00! Strange.

Posted by Chris at 08:13 AM | Comments (4)

June 18, 2004


Its only 3:30 yet its been a full day.

I just returned from a spectaculicious lunch with Amy despite having to keep a lookout for mutant fruit. We discussed turning into our parents, books, comedy and Ms. Chanandler Bong. We laughed, we cried, we ate burritos.

According to some its the Day of WOO and I wholeheartedly agree. Its been a WOOtastic Friday indeed. Also? I've learned that my car is protected by St. Craptaculightus, patron saint of crap in automobiles. I shall also be starting to put together my new band, the Sturgeons Of Ghent. Anyone want to join?

Really, I haven't been drinking. All together now...WOOOOOOO!

Posted by Chris at 03:37 PM | Comments (10)

If It Isn't Friday, Shoot Me

Its Friday right? Don't tell me it isn't. I don't want to hear that. Let's see if I can put something coherent together in between all the yawning I'm doing. Thoughts for Friday morning...

- I'm about one step away from buying some cheap, official-looking badge from the back pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine and pulling idiots over. There was this guy yesterday who repeatedly cut me off on my way home. When he did it for the third time and I had the nerve to honk, he shot me the finger. When I ended up passing him, he was shooting me the finger, sticking his tongue out and laughing. Who does that? Freak.

- I'd suspected that I'd be driving to Ohio for a funeral this weekend. I'm not sure whether its ultimately a good thing but my grandfather is supposedly doing better. So I'll most likely be replacing a dishwasher instead.

- I'm leaving the office early today to drop off something at a client and then I'm having lunch with Amy!! Will we encounter mutant strawberries? Will swarms of rogue midgets attack? Or will our fate be sealed by hitherto unknown terrors? Stay tuned to find out!

Posted by Chris at 08:26 AM | Comments (11)

June 17, 2004

Say What You Feel

I work with a woman who is extraordinarily outspoken...which is a nice way of saying she doesn't know when to shut up or be tactful. When discussing a client in a meeting earlier, she said:

Someone needs to put a helmet on that guy and get him on the short bus.

While true, there's a time and a place for everything. As I was leading this meeting, I probably should have confronted her about it...but I was too busy trying not to nose my coffee.

Posted by Chris at 01:20 PM | Comments (11)

Movie Reviews: The Second Attempt

As you may recall, my recent attempt to post a few reviews was cut short by evil popups, combined with my cat-like reflexes and eagerness to kill them. Let's try this again, shall we?

To be completely honest, I should be posting a review of The Terminal, the new Tom Hanks film. We had passes to an advanced screening that I managed to score. I'm sure it would have been fun...had we not completely forgotten about it. In all the chaos thrown at us this week, it slipped our minds. But over the past week or so we have seen a few things worth noting.

Shrek 2
I am, perhaps, the only person on the face of this good earth who thought the first Shrek was just okay. It was moderately amusing and I was forced to use the dreaded c-word to describe it - cute. Now, if you all haven't grabbed your pitchforks and torches and started beating a path to my front door, I'll have you know that the second one was only a slightly more amusing experience. I can't fault the movie entirely. It might have had something to do with the fact that Beth and I were the only adults without children in tow.

* * *

An aside: If you're a parent and you know that your child can't sit still for more than, oh, 2.5 milliseconds and keep their mouths shut, why would it then seem like a brilliant idea to take said child to a movie where keeping one's mouth shut and sitting is really the entire goal? I'm not a parent. Admittedly, I don't know the ins and outs of parenthood. I do know enough, however, that I would not follow the logic of "hey, little Timmy can't sit still for more than, oh, 2.5 milliseconds, he screams and he has a tendency to get up, wander around and talk to people...so lets go to a movie!"
* * *

The bottom line is that the movie was decent. There was a vast amount of humor clearly targeting the adults in the crowd (all five of us) and for that, I was grateful. Its probably worth checking out if you haven't already.

Tears of the Sun
This movie has all the suspense of, well, Die Hard. I mean, would Bruce Willis really fail you? Would Bruce die? Heck no. Rent this one if you have a couple hours to kill because its an absolutely beautifully filmed movie.

Six Degrees of Separation
We'd seen it before but Beth wanted to watch it again. Aside from the occasional overacting, this is a fantastic movie. Just for the record, Six Degrees stars Donald Sutherland, father of Keifer Sutherland, who was in Flatliners with Kevin Bacon.

I have no idea what book it was, but I read something a few months back that made constant reference to Fail-Safe. This 1964 flick starring Henry Fonda took a look at the concepts of nuclear warfare, mutual assured destruction and the emerging role of technology in the nation's defense. I realize that doesn't really sound all that thrilling but its abundantly clear why it became the The Day After of its time.

Posted by Chris at 07:15 AM | Comments (9)

Thursday Haiku Smackdown Time

Don't forget to do the 'ku today over at Shiz's place!

Posted by Chris at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2004

Damn Popups

There should be movie reviews here. Really. I was just typing up the entry and I think I had something really brilliant going. Then up came a damn popup. I went to close it, it moved (I swear!) and I killed my browser.

Maybe I'll type it all up again tomorrow. In the mean time, I'll just give you a picture of me and Callie because that's all I've got up my sleeve tonight.

Posted by Chris at 08:51 PM | Comments (7)

Things That Go 'Duh' In The Night

I'm halfway into my second cup of coffee and am just now waking up. And by 'cup' I mean 24 ounce bucket. I've just learned from my wife that I have a reason for being tired (although she has a better one). Apparently we were having a nice discussion around 2 AM that I can't, for the life of me, recall.

Me: Could you not sleep last night or something?
Her: Nope.
Me: I noticed your book was in the office this morning and figured that's what happened. Why?
Her: Just wide awake. You talked to me for a while.
Me: Really? Was I witty and amusing?
Her: Of course.
Me: Was this before I fell asleep or had I already been asleep for a while?
Her: It was about 2 AM.
Me: Damn! I so don't rememeber that. What did we talk about?
Her: Me being awake.
Me: So we didn't solve any of the great issues of our time?
Her: Not that I recall.
Me: Good. I'd hate to have forgotten that.

Posted by Chris at 09:05 AM | Comments (16)

June 15, 2004

A Sign

If you embiggen and look carefully, you'll see that its official - my wife wants babies!

Yes, those are barrettes. On the cat. The boy cat.

Posted by Chris at 06:06 PM | Comments (15)

Bringin' In Da Bling

Guess who just got a reasonably nice raise?

a) Ed McMahon
b) television's Jeff Probst
c) me, your host, Chris Cactus
d) adult film star Ron Jeremy

Posted by Chris at 01:42 PM | Comments (24)

Truth in Advertising

Rarely do I pay attention to spam. Its usually one of two things - either women who want to, uh, show me things or someone trying to push the latest prescription medication. So I was caught off-guard when I got an email from Joe asking me to try his "state-of-the-art pee bottle." Intrigued yet convinced the link would ultimately lead me to naked live pharmaceutical saleswomen, I decided to check it out. And wouldn't you know...truth in advertising at last.

The Website looks like it was designed by someone with the skills of, well, one of my cats. But the idea? Simply brilliant. How can something that provides "a convenient way for you to relieve your bladder quickly and easily and without leaving the comfort of your truck" not be the next Clapper waiting to happen? For use by both men and women, this baby sports an odor-resistant lid, convenient wall-mounting bracket, a five foot transfer hose, and a 1.25 gallon tank with level indicator. Check out the site...and while you're there make sure you also check out the Pit Stop cleaning unit because it will "Help Keep Your Parking Lot Clean."

Kudos to Joe and the millions dozens of people peeing into bottles everywhere for my morning laugh.

Posted by Chris at 07:24 AM | Comments (11)

June 14, 2004

Vewy Vewy Qwiet

Its been very quiet around here today. Did I bum you guys out with all the talk of death and stuff? Perhaps a funny face will make it all better.

No? You can't say I didn't try!

Posted by Chris at 09:36 PM | Comments (11)

The Truth Comes Out

Last week, I told a couple lies and asked you guys to find the truth. Jewdez proved up to the task and won! What with all the depressing stuff, I never got around to actually explaining everything. Here goes...

1. When I was two my family moved to Chile for a year.

I've never been to Chile but I hear they're famous for their beefy, beany stew and a chain of restaurants. I was born in Argentina (now famous for its horrible economy - Argentina, the worlds largest dot bomb) but, as I left when I was somewhere around six months old, I had very little time to travel around South America. Most of my jaunts were confined to the neighborhood although I once freaked my parents out by catching a cab and staying out all night clubbing.

2. I've jammed with Zakk Wylde, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and the Black Label Society.

This one is true. When I was in high school, I had lots of local musician friends who also ran music and record stores. Zakk was doing a guitar clinic at a local place and a couple of us hung around afterwards and jammed. The dude's good! And actually a really nice guy.

3. As a kid, Dukes of Hazzard was my favorite show. I loved the General Lee!

I know this will horrify some of you but I couldn't stand this show as a kid and can't stand it now. And I was raised in the South! Shhh...don't tell anyone or they'll revoke my Southern rights and never let me back!

4. When I was in junior high, we used to hang out at an arcade with an authentic pinball machine. I rocked.

Nope. I remember in junior high we did go to an arcade. I mean, those were big back then. There was this kick ass Star Wars game where you had to blow up the Death Star. I loved that one and I even had the high score for a while. Pinball? Never my thing. I was a big fan of Tommy by The Who though...

5. I once played drums at a live show for a side project of some of the Black Crowes guys.

This is inherently not true although there a little nugget of honesty in it. Afformentioned music place was a haven for local musician. A local guitarist was a good buddy of a few of the guys in the original Black Crowes lineup. They were there, I was there and guitars were broken out. I didn't play drums. As I recall, no one did. We were all unplugged before it was cool.

6. Before I went all wacky and vegetarian, I actually secretly liked Spam.

Meat in a can? Meat.In.A.Can? Are you kidding me? My closest run-in with actual Spam consumption was in college. A few of us got really curious about the consistency of Spam and its behavior under unusual conditions. Really it was like a science experiment. We designed a series of tests which rendered the Spam both inedible and melty. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, under the right circumstances, Spam melts. That is not - repeat not - a good quality for meat to have. Then one of our friends ate it. I don't recommend that part but he didn't die...so that's something.

7. I was the editor of my high school newspaper for three years.

The second of the two truths. I was the editor of my high school newspaper (called The Stinger) for three years. I turned it into a newsmagazine with full-page front-cover pictures and all kinds of good stuff. I've still got all the copies. Maybe I'll find them and reprint the editorials. I'm sure they're hilarous now.

8. I've gone skydiving three times and plan on going again this summer.

Hell no! I'm going to admit something to you all in plain, simple and crass terms - when it comes to heights, planes and hurling myself into the wild blue yonder I'm a complete and utter pussy. There. Are you happy? Now you know.

9. My favorite color is red.

Green, actually. Although I have nothing against red.

10. I think Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is the greatest novel ever written.

Never read it. Even worse? I've never read anything by Faulkner. Maybe someday. I already have a gazillion books waiting to be read.

Posted by Chris at 11:00 AM | Comments (9)

Haiku For Monday #34

Two restful days gone.
Now Monday morning's here and
I've got shit to do!

Posted by Chris at 06:52 AM | Comments (3)

June 12, 2004

Notes For A Future Pallbearer

#1. Don’t trip. Put one foot after the other and watch where you’re going at all times.

I’ve mentioned my grandfather in the past, the past being a place to which my father’s father has been confined for the last several years because of Alzheimer’s. Over the last twenty-four hours, his condition has worsened. Pneumonia took hold and accelerated the inevitable.

#2. No alcohol. Increases the likelihood of aforementioned tripping.

You wouldn’t think the body could forget how to swallow. Its so ingrained. But apparently that’s what’s happened. So they put a feeding tube in while he floundered in a coma. They’re removing it soon, further accelerating the inevitable.

#3. Try not to think about the fact that you’re carrying a dead person in a box. Think of it as a very fancy piece of furniture, so fancy, in fact that lots of people are watching you move it.

My grandfather was - and I use the past tense here because dying is just a formality at this stage – never the cuddly type of grandfather. He wasn’t the type of guy who’d light a pipe, hand you a piece of candy and tell you about the good old days. If you met him, he’d shake your hand and you’d be opening and closing your fist for hours trying to get the feeling back. I’m pretty sure he could change a tire with his bare hands with a grip like that. He was more the type of grandfather who didn’t quite know how to handle kids. Granted, he took me out on his tractor a lot and always gave me lots of beer.

#4. Attend rehearsal – there has to be a rehearsal, right? Who would allow you to move your dead grandfather a valuable piece of furniture without a rehearsal?

He served in World War II, in all the places you’ve heard of so many times before. He was never the first one in but he was, perhaps, one of the more important soldiers – he was the cook. Stories are often compared to fish and to further the metaphor, the memory of his time in the service became the one that got away. It was, until very recently, the one set of memories that escaped the ravages of whatever it was that was destroying his brain. He often demanded to be driven an hour away to visit his wartime friend, Brownie. I’m not sure if they actually talked about their time in the war or merely sat there and stared at each other but, regardless, he was proud and wanted to share the experience until it was taken away from him.

#5. Avoid the use of humor as a defense mechanism. Funerals are not appropriate occasions for laughter no matter what happens.

In my opinion – and its not really my place – he wasn’t a good father to my dad. He was not the nicest person. Not to speak ill of those who can’t properly defend themselves, but he was, in fact, mean. Yet in the last years of his coherent life, he began making lists. He had his “book” which was treated with more reverence in their small house than the Bible ever had been. His book was filled with names, places, clippings, pictures, lists of everyone he had ever met and everyplace he had ever been. He might have had his shortcomings as a father but he was proud. The last time I was there he was only able to slightly participate in this world but he got his book and showed it to me. And not only had he captured the details of his life, but of our lives – newspaper clippings detailing my dad’s career, photos of my parents’ wedding ceremony, my high school graduation announcement, and our own wedding invitation.

#6. High-fives and slaps on other pallbearers' asses upon successful completion of 'the mission' are out. Not that this would ever cross your mind. Just saying...

In all fairness, my grandfather did mellow. He and my dad's relationship changed during the last five or ten years prior to the onset of Alzheimers. They grew closer, but not close. He was always remarkably kind to me and adored my wife. He put up with my mother's quirks and became much more tolerant in general. I can only hope that, over the last few years, he was completely oblivious to the world.

#7. If your father cries, don't watch. If there's one thing in the world that will get to you, its that. Visualize classic Monty Python sketches and focus on where you're going.

When Pete Townshend wrote “My Generation” he was only partially correct. I do, indeed, hope I die before I get old – old and helpless, at least. But the fading away bit? No. I’ve watched someone fade away and it seems neither pleasant nor peaceful. Going through what my grandfather and my family have been put through over the past few years scares the hell out of me. When Beth and I get too old, we’re Thelma-and-Louising it.

Posted by Chris at 09:17 AM | Comments (26)

June 11, 2004

Books in Circulation

As Goodsnake pointed out, I read a bit. I've seen this meme floating around but finally decided to play along. Steal it, post it on your site, bold the books you've read and add three of your own!

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne
8. 1984, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
19. Captain Corellis Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Sorcerers Stone, JK Rowling
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
26. Tess Of The DUrbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alices Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Susskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Joness Diary, Helen Fielding
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot
100. Midnights Children, Salman Rushdie
101. Three Men In A Boat, Jerome K. Jerome
102. Small Gods, Terry Pratchett
103. The Beach, Alex Garland
104. Dracula, Bram Stoker
105. Point Blanc, Anthony Horowitz
106. The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens
107. Stormbreaker, Anthony Horowitz
108. The Wasp Factory, Iain Banks
109. The Day Of The Jackal, Frederick Forsyth
110. The Illustrated Mum, Jacqueline Wilson
111. Jude The Obscure, Thomas Hardy
112. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 1/2, Sue Townsend
113. The Cruel Sea, Nicholas Monsarrat
114. Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
115. The Mayor Of Casterbridge, Thomas Hardy
116. The Dare Game, Jacqueline Wilson
117. Bad Girls, Jacqueline Wilson
118. The Picture Of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
119. Shogun, James Clavell
120. The Day Of The Triffids, John Wyndham
121. Lola Rose, Jacqueline Wilson
122. Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray
123. The Forsyte Saga, John Galsworthy
124. House Of Leaves, Mark Z. Danielewski
125. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver
126. Reaper Man, Terry Pratchett
127. Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging, Louise Rennison
128. The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle
129. Possession, A. S. Byatt
130. The Master And Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
131. The Handmaids Tale, Margaret Atwood
132. Danny The Champion Of The World, Roald Dahl
133. East Of Eden, John Steinbeck
134. Georges Marvellous Medicine, Roald Dahl
135. Wyrd Sisters, Terry Pratchett
136. The Color Purple, Alice Walker
137. Hogfather, Terry Pratchett
138. The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan
139. Girls In Tears, Jacqueline Wilson
140. Sleepovers, Jacqueline Wilson
141. All Quiet On The Western Front, Erich Maria Remarque
142. Behind The Scenes At The Museum, Kate Atkinson
143. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby
144. It, Stephen King
145. James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl
146. The Green Mile, Stephen King
147. Papillon, Henri Charriere
148. Men At Arms, Terry Pratchett
149. Master And Commander, Patrick OBrian
150. Skeleton Key, Anthony Horowitz
151. Soul Music, Terry Pratchett
152. Thief Of Time, Terry Pratchett
153. The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
154. Atonement, Ian McEwan
155. Secrets, Jacqueline Wilson
156. The Silver Sword, Ian Serraillier
157. One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, Ken Kesey
158. Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
159. Kim, Rudyard Kipling
160. Cross Stitch, Diana Gabaldon
161. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
162. River God, Wilbur Smith
163. Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon
164. The Shipping News, Annie Proulx
165. The World According To Garp, John Irving
166. Lorna Doone, R. D. Blackmore
167. Girls Out Late, Jacqueline Wilson
168. The Far Pavilions, M. M. Kaye
169. The Witches, Roald Dahl
170. Charlottes Web, E. B. White
171. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
172. They Used To Play On Grass, Terry Venables and Gordon Williams
173. The Old Man And The Sea, Ernest Hemingway
174. The Name Of The Rose, Umberto Eco
175. Sophies World, Jostein Gaarder
176. Dustbin Baby, Jacqueline Wilson
177. Fantastic Mr. Fox, Roald Dahl
178. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
179. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, Richard Bach
180. The Little Prince, Antoine De Saint-Exupery
181. The Suitcase Kid, Jacqueline Wilson
182. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens
183. The Power Of One, Bryce Courtenay
184. Silas Marner, George Eliot
185. American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis
186. The Diary Of A Nobody, George and Weedon Gross-mith
187. Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
188. Goosebumps, R. L. Stine
189. Heidi, Johanna Spyri
190. Sons And Lovers, D. H. Lawrence
191. The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera
192. Man And Boy, Tony Parsons
193. The Truth, Terry Pratchett
194. The War Of The Worlds, H. G. Wells
195. The Horse Whisperer, Nicholas Evans
196. A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
197. Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
198. The Once And Future King, T. H. White
199. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
200. Flowers In The Attic, Virginia Andrews
201. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
202. The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan
203. The Great Hunt, Robert Jordan
204. The Dragon Reborn, Robert Jordan
205. Fires of Heaven, Robert Jordan
206. Lord of Chaos, Robert Jordan
207. Winters Heart, Robert Jordan
208. A Crown of Swords, Robert Jordan
209. Crossroads of Twilight, Robert Jordan
210. A Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan
211. As Nature Made Him, John Colapinto
212. Microserfs, Douglas Coupland
213. The Married Man, Edmund White
214. Winters Tale, Mark Helprin
215. The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
216. Cry to Heaven, Anne Rice
217. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, John Boswell
218. Equus, Peter Shaffer
219. The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten
220. Letters To A Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
221. Ella Minnow Pea, Mark Dunn
222. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
223. Anthem, Ayn Rand
224. The Bridge To Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
225. Tartuffe, Moliere
226. The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka
227. The Crucible, Arthur Miller
228. The Trial, Franz Kafka
229. Oedipus Rex, Sophocles
230. Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles
231. Death Be Not Proud, John Gunther
232. A Dolls House, Henrik Ibsen
233. Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen
234. Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
235. A Raisin In The Sun, Lorraine Hansberry
236. ALIVE!, Piers Paul Read
237. Grapefruit, Yoko Ono
238. Trickster Makes This World, Lewis Hyde
240. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
241. Chronicles of Thomas Convenant, Unbeliever, Stephen Donaldson
242. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
242. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
243. Summerland, Michael Chabon
244. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
245. Candide, Voltaire
246. The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More, Roald Dahl
247. Ringworld, Larry Niven
248. The King Must Die, Mary Renault
249. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein
250. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline LEngle
251. The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
252. The House Of The Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne
253. The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne
254. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
255. The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson
256. Chocolate Fever, Robert Kimmel Smith
257. Xanth: The Quest for Magic, Piers Anthony
258. The Lost Princess of Oz, L. Frank Baum
259. Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon
260. Lost In A Good Book, Jasper Fforde
261. Well Of Lost Plots, Jasper Fforde
261. Life Of Pi, Yann Martel
263. The Bean Trees, Barbara Kingsolver
264. A Yellow Rraft In Blue Water, Michael Dorris
265. Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls Wilder
267. Where The Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
268. Griffin & Sabine, Nick Bantock
269. Witch of Blackbird Pond, Joyce Friedland
270. Mrs. Frisby And The Rats Of NIMH, Robert C. OBrien
271. Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt
272. The Cay, Theodore Taylor
273. From The Mixed-Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg
274. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
275. The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
276. The Kitchen Gods Wife, Amy Tan
277. The Bone Setters Daughter, Amy Tan
278. Relic, Duglas Preston & Lincolon Child
279. Wicked, Gregory Maguire
280. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
281. Misty of Chincoteague, Marguerite Henry
282. The Girl Next Door, Jack Ketchum
283. Haunted, Judith St. George
284. Singularity, William Sleator
285. A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
286. Different Seasons, Stephen King
287. Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
288. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
289. The Bookmans Wake, John Dunning
290. The Church of Dead Girls, Stephen Dobyns
291. Illusions, Richard Bach
292. Magics Pawn, Mercedes Lackey
293. Magics Promise, Mercedes Lackey
294. Magics Price, Mercedes Lackey
295. The Dancing Wu Li Masters, Gary Zukav
296. Spirits of Flux and Anchor, Jack L. Chalker
297. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
298. The Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices, Brenda Love
299. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace.
300. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison.
301. The Cider House Rules, John Irving.
302. Enders Game, Orson Scott Card
303. Girlfriend in a Coma, Douglas Coupland
304. The Lions Game, Nelson Demille
305. The Sun, The Moon, and the Stars, Stephen Brust
306. Cyteen, C. J. Cherryh
307. Foucaults Pendulum, Umberto Eco
308. Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
309. Invisible Monsters, Chuck Palahniuk
310. Camber of Culdi, Kathryn Kurtz
311. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
312. War and Rememberance, Herman Wouk
313. The Art of War, Sun Tzu
314. The Giver, Lois Lowry
315. The Telling, Ursula Le Guin
316. Xenogenesis (or Liliths Brood), Octavia Butler
317. A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold
318. The Curse of Chalion, Lois McMaster Bujold
319. The Aeneid, Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil)
320. Hanta Yo, Ruth Beebe Hill
321. The Princess Bride, S. Morganstern (or William Goldman)
322. Beowulf, Anonymous
323. The Sparrow, Maria Doria Russell
324. Deerskin, Robin McKinley
325. Dragonsong, Anne McCaffrey
326. Passage, Connie Willis
327. Otherland, Tad Williams
328. Tigana, Guy Gavriel Kay
329. Number the Stars, Lois Lowry
330. Beloved, Toni Morrison
331. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christs Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore
332. The mysterious disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel, Ellen Raskin
333. Summer Sisters, Judy Blume
334. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo
335. The Island on Bird Street, Uri Orlev
336. Midnight in the Dollhouse, Marjorie Filley Stover
337. The Miracle Worker, William Gibson
338. The Genesis Code, John Case
339. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevensen
340. Paradise Lost, John Milton
341. Phantom, Susan Kay
342. The Mummy or Ramses the Damned, Anne Rice
343. Anno Dracula, Kim Newman
344: The Dresden Files: Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
345: Tokyo Suckerpunch, Issac Adamson
346: The Winter of Magics Return, Pamela Service
347: The Oddkins, Dean R. Koontz
348. My Name is Asher Lev, Chaim Potok
349. The Last Goodbye, Raymond Chandler
350. At Swim, Two Boys, Jaime ONeill
351. Othello, by William Shakespeare
352. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas
353. The Collected Poems of William Butler Yeats
354. Sati, Christopher Pike
355. The Inferno, Dante
356. The Apology, Plato
357. The Small Rain, Madeline LEngle
358. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Richard E Cytowick
359. 5 Novels, Daniel Pinkwater
360. The Sevenwaters Trilogy, Juliet Marillier
361. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
362. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
363. Our Town, Thorton Wilder
364. Green Grass Running Water, Thomas King
335. The Interpreter, Suzanne Glass
336. The Moors Last Sigh, Salman Rushdie
337. The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson
338. A Passage to India, E.M. Forster loved
339. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
340. The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Leroux
341. Pages for You, Sylvia Brownrigg
342. The Changeover, Margaret Mahy
343. Howls Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
344. Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
345. Johnny Got His Gun, Dalton Trumbo
346. Shosha, Isaac Bashevis Singer
347. Travels With Charley, John Steinbeck
348. The Diving-bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
349. The Lunatic at Large by J. Storer Clouston
350. Time for Bed by David Baddiel
351. Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
352. Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre
353. The Bloody Sun by Marion Zimmer Bradley
354. Sewer, Gas, and Eletric by Matt Ruff
355. Jhereg by Steven Brust
356. So You Want To Be A Wizard by Diane Duane
357. Perdido Street Station, China Mieville
358. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
359. Road-side Dog, Czeslaw Milosz
360. The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje
361. Neuromancer, William Gibson
362. The Epistemology of the Closet, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
363. A Canticle for Liebowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr
364. The Mask of Apollo, Mary Renault
365. The Gunslinger, Stephen King
366. Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare
367. Childhoods End, Arthur C. Clarke
368. A Season of Mists, Neil Gaiman
369. Ivanhoe, Walter Scott
370. The God Boy, Ian Cross
371. The Beekeepers Apprentice, Laurie R. King
372. Finn Family Moomintroll, Tove Jansson
373. Misery, Stephen King
374. Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters
375. Hood, Emma Donoghue
376. The Land of Spices, Kate OBrien
377. The Diary of Anne Frank
378. Regeneration, Pat Barker
379. Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald
380. Dreaming in Cuban, Cristina Garcia
381. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
382. The View from Saturday, E.L. Konigsburg
383. Dealing with Dragons, Patricia Wrede
384. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
385. A Severed Wasp - Madeleine LEngle
386. Here Be Dragons - Sharon Kay Penman
387. The Mabinogion (Ancient Welsh Tales) - translated by Lady Charlotte E. Guest
388. The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
389. Desire of the Everlasting Hills - Thomas Cahill
390. The Cloister Walk - Kathleen Norris
391. The Things We Carried, Tim OBrien
392. I Know This Much Is True, Wally Lamb
393. Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
394. Enders Shadow, Orson Scott Card
395. The Memory of Earth, Orson Scott Card
396. The Iron Tower, Dennis L. McKiernen
397. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
398. A Ring of Endless Light, Madeline L'Engle
399. Lords of Discipline, Pat Conroy
400. Hyperion, Dan Simmons
401. If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things, Jon McGregor
402. The Bridge, Iain Banks

Posted by Chris at 10:35 AM | Comments (15)

Friday Mourning

Happy Friday everyone! You know, yesterday when I left work, I took a bunch of stuff home with me so I could work from home today. Then I did a stupid thing - I woke up and came to work. Because the DC area is in a tizzy about the Reagan memorial services, there was no traffic - zip, nada, nothing. And of course, there's no one in the office. Perhaps I'll leave early and work from home after all.

Hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a very excellent weekend!

Posted by Chris at 07:03 AM | Comments (8)

June 10, 2004

Ray Charles: 1930-2004

Posted by Chris at 10:05 PM | Comments (8)

Date Night Movie Review

Last night I went on a date - with my wife of course! After a quick dinner, we went and saw Harry Potter and the Pensioner of Kazakhstan. Side note to all of you who hate crowded theaters - when a big summer blockbuster hits theaters, wait till the following Wednesday evening. There was nobody there! Anyway, the movie? It was good. I won't say great, fantastic, marvelous, frickin' incredible or even damn fine. Good will just have to do.

The problem for me is that, despite the fact that I am a Harry Potter fan*, the books and the movies run together for me. I couldn't tell you if the movie lived up to the book because frankly the details of the book are all squashed up inside my head with the details of the other books.

Overall, Y Tu Potter Tambien looked very cool and was a little more intense than its two predecessors. Some of the outdoor scenes looked a little too sound-stagey and there was little involvement with supporting characters. And not enough Gary Oldman! But don't let all that deter you. Its definitely worth catching on the big screen.

*This is evidenced by the fact that my wife and I, on a very warm June night, stood in a very long line for the last novel, Colonel Potter and the Order of the 4077. We felt as if we were the only adults without kids in tow. So, we made up stuff and talked really loud about our fake nephew Timmy who couldn't be there with us because of a vicious lobster attack. People still looked at us funny but at least we were amused.

Just a reminder:
Whatever you do, don't forget that Oliquig is hosting the Thursday Haiku Smackdown today!

Posted by Chris at 07:25 AM | Comments (11)

June 09, 2004

And The Winner Is...

I won't drag this out any longer...the winner is...Jewdez!!! She was the only one who came up with the right combination. Numbers 2 and 7 were actually true! I did, indeed, jam with Zakk Wylde many moons ago and I was the editor of my high school news paper (The Stinger, if you really want to know the details) for three years. For those of you who thought I was the Dukes of Hazzard type, as uncool a statement as this may be, I always hated that show. And why do you all think I was a Spam kinda guy? Meat in a can? No thanks.

Congratulations Jewdez! Now I guess we need to talk about some tunes! And to everyone, as I always say, you guys just absolutely rock.

Posted by Chris at 09:50 PM | Comments (9)

The Truth is Out There

Some of you have guessed. Many of you haven't. The comments are still open in the "You Can't Handle The Truth" contest. Whether you think you know me or this is your first time here, take a shot!

Posted by Chris at 11:52 AM | Comments (2)

Memorialize This

Please don't think me crass but I heard disturbing things on the news last night about the freaks individuals who'd like nothing more than to drink the Reagan Revolution flavored Kool Aid preserve Ronald Reagan's "legacy." These are the same folks who managed to get the name of Washington's airport changed to, get this, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Not only did they get Congress to change the name but they managed to get subway service funding witheld until all the name changes were made on Metro documentation. And now? Now they want The Gipper on the ten dollar bill. Fail that, half of the dimes minted. Oh, and they want a Reagan memorial on the Mall. I mean this with all due respect but there are a few folks I'd like to see memorialized first.

Posted by Chris at 11:43 AM | Comments (13)

June 08, 2004

You Can't Handle the Truth!

I've been thinking all day and I can't come up with anything interesting. I'm just boring today. I'll let you do some of the work then. This was popular the first time so lets do it again. Your mission - decide which two of the following are true. The winner gets a cool CD of swell music.

1. When I was two my family moved to Chile for a year.
2. I've jammed with Zakk Wylde, guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne and the Black Label Society.
3. As a kid, Dukes of Hazzard was my favorite show. I loved the General Lee!
4. When I was in junior high, we used to hang out at an arcade with an authentic pinball machine. I rocked.
5. I once played drums at a live show for a side project of some of the Black Crowes guys.
6. Before I went all wacky and vegetarian, I actually secretly liked Spam.
7. I was the editor of my high school newspaper for three years.
8. I've gone skydiving three times and plan on going again this summer.
9. My favorite color is red.
10. I think Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is the greatest novel ever written.

Post your answers in the comment section. I'll give you 24 hours. Have fun.

Posted by Chris at 05:40 PM | Comments (38)

Reagan (Or, A Liberal's Startling Admission)

I'm a liberal. This should not come as a great shock to you, especially those of you who've caught some of my politically motivated rants. And while I don't really want to get caught up in the entire Reagan wave that's sweeping the nation, I did want to share a little secret. As surprising as it may be, I had a lot of respect for the guy.

Reagan's economic and social policies were disasterous. He almost single-handedly brought about an unemployment rate second only to that of the Great Depression. He supported the rich and largely ignored the poor. He tripled the defecit, traded arms for hostages and invented voodoo economics. But, growing up in the eighties, as I did, the idea of an American president was almost synonymous with Reagan. In classrooms across America, three presidential portraits graced the walls - Washington, Lincoln and Reagan. When he got shot, my entire class sent letters and jellybeans. And he replied too - or at least someone in the White House did.

While he was urging the Soviets to tear down walls, while he was pushing star wars defense systems, Reagan began what would become a nine year correspondence with a small boy in Southeast Washington DC. Over the course of their conversations they touched on almost everything. Reagan advised the boy on the best techniques to make up with his best friend. He even explained the Challenger disaster. Every year, they exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts.

I like to think of our leaders as real people - real people who, while they have egos and are often misdirected, are compassionate, caring people. So, while my politics are radically different, I'm not at all troubled by the fact that, when someone talks about the American presidency, the first image that comes to mind is Reagan.

Posted by Chris at 08:33 AM | Comments (7)

June 07, 2004

Note To Self

To: Self
Re: Lunch

Mints to not constitute lunch. Nowhere in the food pyramid do mints play a significant factor. They are neither satisfying nor, after the seventh or eighth one, refreshing. In the future, when extremely busy, do not rely on breath fresheners for nourishment.

Posted by Chris at 01:40 PM | Comments (12)

Coffee Question

At what point is coffee or caffeine fatal? I'd just like to know before I accidentally ingest too much. Granted, at this point in the morning it may very well be too late.

Posted by Chris at 09:40 AM | Comments (13)

Haiku For Monday #33

Awake, alive but
I've got too much work to do.
Coffee...more coffee.

Posted by Chris at 07:10 AM | Comments (3)

June 06, 2004


It doesn't look like much, does it? It just looks like any old stretch of beach. I'm convinced that no camera can capture the true look of the place, the true awe you feel standing high above the beach looking down, so far down, at the water and all the impassable terrain in between.

Of course, it looked radically different 60 years ago today. This is Normandy.

Standing here as I did less than a year ago, what stuck me was the fact that more people didn't die. You look at the beach that stretches forever, you take in the hills above and walk through the old German foxholes, and you understand that, for all the planning, whoever came up with this idea was part genius and part nuts. 2,000 Americans died here. Its amazing to me that there weren't more. Thankfully, there weren't.

Posted by Chris at 08:08 AM | Comments (3)

June 05, 2004

Rainy Saturday (and thanks)

First off, you guys are awesome when it comes to crossing your fingers or doing whatever it is you did yesterday. Beth is happily still employed. She was faced with the possibility of getting laid off but she emerged unscathed at the end of the day. Thank you all for the positive vibes and good wishes!

Its a chilly, rainy Saturday. We've been out most of the morning looking for new office chairs and dishwashers. Thrilling, no?

Posted by Chris at 01:58 PM | Comments (9)

June 04, 2004

A Friday Meme

Its been a long, long time since I've done a meme but hey, its Friday, its content and I'm bored. Thanks to Laura for this one!

Answer the following questions in the comment box:
1. Who are you?
2. Have we ever met?
3. Give me a nickname and explain why you picked it.
4. Describe me in one word.
5. What reminds you of me?
6. If you could give me anything, what would it be?
7. Ever wanted to tell me something but couldn't?
8. Are you going to put this on your weblog and see what I say about you?
9. What do you love like a fat kid loves cake?
10. What makes you come back here?
Posted by Chris at 12:04 PM | Comments (31)

Friday...Cross Your Fingers

Happy Friday everyone! How is it that a four day week always seems longer than the average five day version?

I ask that you all cross your fingers or whatever it is you do when hoping for good things. There's a chance that my wife's professional future will be altered this morning. Not necessarily in a good way. I'll let you know...

Posted by Chris at 08:52 AM | Comments (15)

June 03, 2004

On Books: May

Its the beginning of a brand spanking new month so its time again to review some of my reads from last month.

The Good:
You'd think Denis Lehane would be a little intimadated following the success of Mystic River. And while it was a good book, people often forget he authored five books prior to it, all of which are excellent. With his latest release, Shutter Island, Lehane lived up to the reputation he's gained. Set in the 1950's on, appropriately, Shutter Island, a mental institution in Boston Harbor, Lehane weaves a truly disturbing story. I always think its a good sign when something leaves you breathless and manages to roll around in your head long after you turned the last page. This one was one of those.

Also of note is Chris Stewart's memoir Driving Over Lemons. Little known fact - in 1968 Stewart joined then exited the band Genesis as their first drummer. Laboring lately as an itinerant sheep shearer, Stewart and his wife decided to uproot themselves from England and settle in Spain. Stewart's a decent writer and his story is worth reading.

The Not So Good:
Why must every young author be compared to J.D. Salinger? Wherever he is, I'm sure Salinger isn't pleased seeing his name bandied around like this. Especially when used in conjunction with David Amsden's Important Things That Don't Matter. Its a fine book but not Salinger-caliber. Speaking of mistrust of blurbs, I fell for the 'spellbinding literary noir' claim on the back of Samuel Ligon's Safe In Heaven Dead. It was noir to a point but it certainly wasn't spellbinding. Not horrible but not excellent either. Similarly not horrible was Jere Hoar's The Hit. When a narrator starts weaving his tale from a mental institution, you'd think the story's going to go somewhere and get interesting, right? This one didn't.

The last two - Lee Child's Running Blind and Die Trying - are cheap, pulp throw-aways but were vastly entertaining. Recommended for mindless reads.

Posted by Chris at 07:36 PM | Comments (5)


The Thursday Haiku Smackdown is over at Amy's site today. Check it out. There are nuns and rednecks aplenty.

Posted by Chris at 07:51 AM | Comments (3)

June 02, 2004

Kittens (And My Sister)

If you recall my posts from Christmas and Easter, you'll remember that I discovered I had a long lost sister (go back and read...you've got time). You may also recall that my parents recently went off the deep end and officially became Crazy Cat People. For Memorial Day, I got to see both Alexis and the new feline members of the family. It'll surprise no one that I took my camera.

Warning: This gallery contains an obscene amount of cuteness. Please enter with caution. Don't say you weren't warned. OK...go check out the kittens!

Posted by Chris at 04:15 PM | Comments (22)

Styx and Stones

There's been a bird in our yard that's been singing the first line of Styx's Mr. Roboto for the past three days.

You're wondering who I am...machine or mannequin...

I'm not a total dork...I did have to look up the lyrics online.

Posted by Chris at 08:33 AM | Comments (12)

June 01, 2004

The Sky Is Falling

Over the past couple of days, the world has ended twice. And I'm not talking an oh-crap-my-internet-connection-died kind of devistation. I mean, that's plenty bad and I don't wish that on anyone but I'm talking full-scale terror. It started off with a measley case of plague or something along those lines. I'm talking of course about 28 Days Later. As if that weren't sufficient, the world also came to a screeching halt in The Day After Tomorrow. Beth and I have decided that all we're watching for the next week are home improvement shows.

28 Days Later was okay. It wasn't at all what I was expecting. I was looking forward to a reasonably fast-paced, scary parade of zombies and general ickiness. I got the ickiness but the movie was slow and not all that scary. What was it? Disturbing. Of note - the movie was written by Alex Garland, the dude who wrote the novel The Beach on which the film was based (the book was far better than the movie, by the way).

The Day After Tomorrow was pretty much a vehicle for special effects. Really, Mr. Director, why did you actually bother with a plot? You could have blown up, flooded, frozen, and blown away plenty of shit without trying to get us to feel for any of the one-dimensional, throw-away characters. I would have paid to see that. Bottom line? It looks cool and it actually is pretty cool...as long as you're expecting a cheesy disaster pic and not a stunning work of cinematic art.

Oh, then we watched Run Lola Run which is apparently some cult flick. Really, its a German version of Groundhog Day...well, without the funny (side note: have you ever met a funny German?). And with, go figure, lots of running. Plus some armed robbery, a little gambling and more running.

Posted by Chris at 05:37 PM | Comments (20)

I'm Not Sure My Insurance Covers This

It seems that the cicada outbreak around here has sparked a Godzilla-like panic. Should your vehicle actually suffer such a fate, I'd love to hear about it.

Posted by Chris at 08:42 AM | Comments (21)