Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Over It? Pt. 2

I finally figured out why I don't like taking pictures anymore as I blogged about in a recent post.  It came to me in a revelation during the first Camp Freddy show we went to.  Steven Tyler walked out onstage and my first instinct was to tell The Wife to start taking some pictures or a video clip.  Then I looked out in the crowd and saw about 30 cameras taking photos and videos, including the clip I posted.

So, I think part of me not wanting to take photos is because everybody else is.  Why do I need my own crappy video of Steven Tyler when I can get on YouTube two days later and watch something much better than I could have taken?  Why do I need to take a photo at friend gatherings when most everyone posts most everything on Facebook?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

So...That's It?

So. Apparently I graduated from my Master's program. I passed my one final and the other class was a breeze anyway so...I guess that's it...? It's a weird feeling since I didn't attend a graduation ceremony and I had no feeling of accomplishment of turning in my final exam. It was just me sitting in my front of my computer...clicking 'submit.'

So. I guess I'll get a diploma in the mail sometime. It's a weird feeling doing this program online but I'm glad it's over with and I'll be able to spend time with those that I've neglected throughout all of this -- namely my comic books and my Playstation.

I've been keeping an eye on job postings so I'll probably look a little more intently in the new year but hurray for being done with that. In celebration of getting a Master's, here's a YouTube video of Metallica doing "Master of Puppets."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Camp Freddy - 12/17/10

The Wife and I went to our second Camp Freddy show on the 17th and it was, once again, a really good and fun night. We got there a lot later since we knew CF wouldn't be taking the stage until 11 or so. Here's how the night broke down:

They opened with "We Will Rock You" and The Sweet classic "Ballroom Blitz" with the core band members. Steve Isaacs joined them onstage to sing The Cult's "She Sells Sanctuary." Franky Perez came out to do "War Pigs" again, and an amazing version of The Who classic "Baba O'Riley." Cypress Hill came out and did their own "Rock Superstar" and then Guns N' Roses classic "Paradise City." Sebastian Bach from Skid Row jumped onstage during "Paradise City" for what was one of my favorite performances of the night. It was cool and weird enough to see Cypress Hill singing "Paradise City" but then you throw in Sebastian Bach's screaming and headbanging and the crowd was going wild for it.


Juliette Lewis joined them onstage againf or "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and "Proud Mary" followed by Marc McGrath signing Ratt's "Round and Round" and Beasties' "Fight For Your Right." Jonny Lang came out to take guitar and vocal duties on Santana's "Black Magic Woman" - a song which bored me to tears. The only thing redeemable about that was the hysterical guitar faces Lang was making while he played. Thankfully he only took center stage on that one song.

After that, Sebastian Bach did his scheduled performances of Ted Nugent's "Cat Scratch Fever" and Van Halen's "Aint Talkin' 'Bout Love." Then the show closed out with members of Billy Idol's band and Billy Idol himself singing "Ready Steady Go," "Dancing With Myself" and "Rebel Yell."

My favorite performances were the aforementioned "Paradise City" and Franky Perez once again nailing some sick vocals on "War Pigs" and "Baby O' Riley." I'm not really a Billy Idol fan but it was kind of cool to see him live. Sebastian Bach was also a highlight as well. Another great show from Camp Freddy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yay, County!

On the flipside to my previous entry, The Wife and I got a letter in the mail from the County saying we owed just a little bit more on our property taxes.  We have an impound account but we got this letter saying because there was a transfer in the title of our property and because of section code blah blah blah, we owed like $80.  Not a huge amount, and it wasn't due until January and even then, it was broken up into two separate payments if we wanted to spread it out.

Fast forward to a week later, and we got another letter from the County saying to disregard the previous notice and in fact, our impound account had overpaid the County, so here is a refund check for $27.

Goooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllll!  Dinner at Red Lobster, here we come.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Unemployment Blerg!

A few months ago, I got a letter from the department of unemployment stating that they overpaid my benefits while I was unemployed.  I looked at the paperwork enclosed and sure enough, they were right.  When you file for unemployment, they ask how much you make each week.  At the time, I had a part time job, so I wrote in the total received from each paycheck...but, as I later found out, they wanted to know how much I made pre-tax.  Grrreeeeat.

So, I basically got a letter from the state saying I owed them X amount plus interest.  What was even weirder was when I called to talk to someone about it.  I asked for an explanation since I wasn't clear on everything.  The woman explained it to me and I said I had never filed for unemployment before and just didn't understand the paperwork.  She said I could not pay the fine and set a court date if I wanted to file a claim for it, and I said I would rather not.  She then said I could deal (in part) with the matter over the phone but she would have to record our conversation as evidence.  I said 'okay' because I really just wanted this over with and she came back and was like, "So, you're entering a plea of guilty?"

Whoa, lady!  Guilty?!  What am I being charged with?  I kind of skirted the issue and admitted that I was overpaid, but it was not intentional on my part.  I guess she was okay with that because she didn't bring it up further

Honestly, lady, what am I going to do with the extra $7.50 a week you overpaid me for four months?  Run away to Cabo San Lucas and retire?!

Ugh.  I totally hated that phone call because it just brought up the misery I went through of being unemployed and going through the process of unemployment benefits.  I know the system is there to help those in need, and it certainly helped me out (a little) but the whole process is so daunting, it almost seems not worth it.  As the great Liz Lemon would say, "Blerg!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Camp Freddy 12/10/10

The Wife and I finally got to see Camp Freddy this past Friday at the Roxy and...wow, what a show.  We got down there around 8:30 and they weren't letting people in until 9.  Boo.  And there were 2 opening bands - Sabrosa Purr (who I kind of liked and The Wife did not) and Darling Stilettos (who The Wife liked and I did not).

Camp Freddy finally took the stage a little after 11 and opened up with "We Will Rock You" followed by Blur's "Song #2."  "We Will Rock You" was pretty good as an opener and I would rather hear classic rock songs covered than something like "Song #2."  After that, the special guest musicians started pouring in as the original Stray Cats drummer joined them for "Rock This Town."  Franky Perez (who I never heard of, but was really great) came out and sang "War Pigs" and "Helter Skelter."

Camp Freddy guitarist Billy Morrison then sang Cheap Trick's "Surrender" and did a great job.  Actress Juliette Lewis came out and sang AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" followed by Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and did a stellar job at both.  Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray came out to sing "Fight for Your Right" and "Rock N Roll All Nite."  Even though I think he's kind of a tool, this is what I love about Camp Freddy.  They have an arguably cheesedick singer singing an arguably cheesedick song but they're up there to have fun and play some rock and roll.

Original Sex Pistols guitarist joined them onstage to play "Anarchy in the UK" with Corey Taylor from Slipknot singing.  He also sang Van Halen's "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" and Stone Temple Pilots' "Sex Type Thing."  He was a good singer but not great.

The evening then closed with the biggest surprise of the night -- when Steven Fucking Tyler from Aerosmith came out onstage.  He played drums on The Sufaris classic "Wipeout" and then took over on vocal duties for Aerosmith songs "Rattlesnake Shake" (which had Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac sitting in on drums) and "Sweet Emotion."  The evening then closed out with a rocking rendition of Led Zeppelin classic "Whole Lotta Love."

Wow!  What a bunch of fun songs and fun performers.  Overall a superfun night and I'm glad we went.  I'm very excited for next week's show and hope it holds just as many surprises in store for us.  We stayed a little bit afterwards to see if we could grab a photo with Steven Tyler but he was escorted very quickly out by security.  Ah well.  Thank you so much, Camp Freddy - can't wait to do it again next week.  In the meantime, here's a video clip of "Whole Lotta Love" --

Friday, December 10, 2010

TV on DVD

Might as well continue talking about TV shows for this week.  I own the entire runs of 5 television series on DVD...and I don't think I've watched any of them.  My intentions are good - I love the shows!   I want to watch them anytime!  But I just never seem to have any time or interest in watching them again.

There have even been recent shows that I thought were brilliant and I've seriously considered owning (30 Rock) on DVD but given the dust now collected on Joan of Arcadia, Buffy, Angel, Seinfeld and Lost, I think I may be giving up on the principle of owning a television series.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Mad Men

After waiting nearly 2 months and having it pushed up and down in my queue and having to endure 'Long Wait's and 'Short Wait's -- Mad Men, Season 1, Disc 1 finally arrived via Netflix this past weekend.  I eagerly sat down to watch it with The Wife on Sunday morning and we plowed through the first 3 episodes.  And here, ladies and gentlemen, is my one word review: "Meh."

I had heard this show was brilliant from my former improv teacher.  I had heard good things about it on various podcasts and through friends of mine.  After watching the first 3 episodes, I found myself not caring about any of the characters or any of the storylines they developed.

I kept thinking it might get better as the season progresses, but really if a show can't grab you after 3 episodes, I think it's grounds for dismissal.  Think about it - if you watched a 2 1/2 hour movie and thought it was nothing special, would you want to watch the sequel?  So sorry, Mad Men -- it's better we go our separate ways.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Today! Tomorrow! Yesterday!

For the sake of this story, let's just pretend I'm talking about a company when in fact, I am really NOT talking about my company, okay?  I'm really not.

So, a company recently made a change to their magazine advertisements which involves putting a banner at the top that states "Sale starts today!"  The problem is that these ads go in magazines.  That are printed.  And are picked up / go on sale two months from today, six months from yesterday, eight weeks from tomorrow.  There is no "today" in that scenario.

I am baffled by the rationale behind putting this as a masthead on every single ad because it's about as effective as those restaurants that have a sign stating "Free beer tomorrow."  The free beer will always be tomorrow.  The sale will always be starting today.

Translation - there is no free beer and there is no sale.

Is anyone going to pick up that ad and go "Waitaminute! The sale starts today!  Like, today today?!??!!"

*sigh*

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sushi

I don't think sushi and I will ever get along.  The Wife loves sushi and Japanese food in general and luckily, she has several friends that are also sushi lovers.

The 'problem' with me is sushi doesn't do anything for me.  I can eat a cheeseburger and my mouth says, "Hell yes!"  I can eat a pickle and my mouth says, "Never again!" I've tried sushi more than a dozen times - everything from the standard California roll to octopus, and each time my mouth says, "Okay, that was sushi."

Sushi doesn't elicit any response from me whatsoever, so I tend to order the standard and uninspiring chicken terriyaki or if they have it, some delicious tonkatsu.  Am I the only one out there that doesn't get any sort of reaction from sushi?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Over It?

For some reason, I've completely lost interest in taking photographs over the last year or two.  I have no idea where my digital camera is, and whenever I find it, I'll be surprised by whatever the last photo is on there.  Birthdays, gatherings, holidays and so much more comes and goes and I have zero interest in taking a photograph of anything.  I doubt this has anything to do with having a camera that's 7 years old.  I think it's some kind of subconscious psychological decision my brain made to rebel against...something?  I don't mind posing for photos but just don't expect me to take or upload photos of anything that happened in the last two years.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Camp Freddy

I bought tickets for two Camp Freddy shows next month and I am beyond excited.  Who the hell is Camp Freddy, you ask?  Well, I came across some YouTube videos a couple of years ago and kind of forgot about them.  I was interested but they don't do that many shows.  Then I found out they do a weekly residency in December at the Roxy but we couldn't make it last year.  So, I've been waiting patiently and started checking their website until they announced the show dates for next month so The Wife and I will be going to see them on 12/10 and 12/17.

Still, who the hell is Camp Freddy?  Camp Freddy is a core group of musicians that get together and play cover songs - the band features Dave Navarro (Jane's Addiction, Chili Peppers), Billy Morrison (The Cult, Circus Diablo), Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver), Chris Chaney (Jane's Addiction, Alanis Morissette) and Donovan Leitch, Jr. (son of Donovan and singer in his own right).

So, the band gets together once in a while, plays a bunch of fun cover songs but the best part about their shows is they have guest singers and musicians that join them onstage.  According to their list of past shows on their website, past guest performers include Steven Tyler, Slash, Gavin Rossdale, Courtney Love, Nikki Sixx, Ozzy Osbourne, Chester Bennington, Tom Morello, Paul Stanley and oh so many more.

Of course, it's also possible that one of the guest performers will be Fred Durst.  Still, I am beyond excited to see these guys and probably have my hopes up way too high.  At the very least, I'll get to see them do some fun cover songs and at the most, I might see something bizarre like Courtney Love singing "Sympathy for the Devil."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Midget vs. Chimpanzee


I was reading up on Penn & Teller a little bit and came across the Wikipedia article for Penn's old radio show.  I was just kind of browsing it, when the story of a regular segment called Monkey Tuesday caught my eye.  If I may steal and condense from Wikipedia --

"Monkey Tuesday originated when Penn told a story of a party...where he had invited Tarzan, a performing chimpanzee and Arturo, a dwarf, forgetting that chimpanzees fight for dominance with people of small stature. Penn worked out a compromise: Tarzan and Arturo could both be at the party as long as they were in separate rooms. As an added measure of security, Penn and a posse of attendees armed themselves with knives.
However, Tarzan and Arturo met poolside and predictably, Tarzan charged Arturo. Rather than jump into the swimming pool as planned as chimps hate water (Chimps, lacking buoyant body fat, sink like rocks in water), Arturo hauled ass into Penn's house. Tarzan pursued Arturo but got distracted by the other guests. The guests shuttled the chimp into various rooms to allow Arturo to move around, and later found Arturo a tall bar stool to stand on. Tarzan, confused, decided not to challenge."

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

I had NO idea about this but think this is kind of awesome!  It's like when you invite a couple to your party, and then you realize they just broke up 2 weeks ago.  You want them both to be there and you hope there won't be problems but you know there will be.  I was relating this story to The Wife and before I got too far into it, she said to me, "We are not having a party at our house where you invite both a chimpanzee and a midget."

Dammit.  She knows me way too well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reason #22

Presenting Reason #22 why I love* my company...

We recently moved locations to a "brand new" office building which mysteriously, has very used furniture in it.  But that's not reason #22.

Reason #22 is that my company decided to "go green" and give everyone in the office a brand new coffee mug and water bottle with our logo on them.  The problem is that the coffee mug does not fit under the brand new coffee makers that we got.  So people have to either use a paper cup outright, or use a paper cup to dump their coffee into their logo-emblazoned coffee mug.

* - still sarcastic

(PS - We've been in the office for 2 days and I already have about 5 more Reasons added to my list.  Stay tuned.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hyperbole

I think I just might hate YouTube.  No wait, I take that back.  I hate the world of Internet phenomena and hyperbole.  Every week on The Kevin & Bean show, they do a feature called the Internet Roundup where they discuss all of these popular YouTube videos and inevitably they comment that each one of them is "the best video EVER" and that "you HAVE to see this video."

These guys (and several thousand million others on the Internet and in my real life) are the same ones who raved about the Big Booty Bitches video a while back.  Does anyone give a shit about that video now?  Will anyone care about Antoine Dodson in 3 weeks?  Does anyone remember the Leave Britney Alone video guy?  The answer to all of the above is no.

The Internet, and especially Internet fame, is so fleeting and I'm so tired of everyone telling me how awesome these viral videos are.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

With the Top Let Back and the Sunshine Shining

I don't buy clothes very often, so I was as surprised as anyone when I recently bought 4 shirts within 2 weeks.  All of them were on clearance so I ended up with good deals.  The problem I realized when I got home was that 3 of the 4 shirts are distinctly Western-style shirts - somewhat similar to the one in this photo.

This got me thinking that maybe I am going through some kind of subconscious mid-life crisis where, on some level, I want to be a cowboy.

*sigh*  Getting older kinda sucks.

Yeehaw?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shaking Fists

My supervisor at work up and quit on a recent Monday morning.  I figured he was out sick that day which is odd because at the time, I was sick and had gotten back from a weekend in Vegas.  I was feeling a little run down but decided if I was going to take a sick day, I better really be sick.

Tuesday rolled around and still no supervisor, and that's when I found out he was gone.  I guess he just sent an email to the big boss and said he wasn't coming in anymore and that he was moving.  It's been a range of emotions since he left.  We weren't exactly buddies but we got along fine.  So, a part of me is really annoyed at the manner in which he left -- maybe it really was a spur of the moment decision and there was no time to prepare.  There is a ton of work left for me and my coworker to do in his absence so I've been forced into a very stressful situation.  I've put in a lot of overtime and meanwhile, still have to find time/energy to concentrate on finishing up my Master's program.

For the first week without him around, I think we did pretty well.  Monday and Tuesday sucked, Wednesday really sucked, and Thursday was just completely FUBAR.  By the time Friday came around, my coworker and I were caught up on things and *gasp!* getting ahead for the following week. The supervisor did a ton of shit -- a lot of which he never taught anyone so we're having to figure a lot of things out.

A part of me is a little relieved the supervisor is gone.  Sometimes our work relationship was frustrating but it's just work - who cares.  Now that he's gone there isn't a chance for that tension, and realistically, the only way for me to move up was for him to be gone.  So instead of being a small little cog in the work machine, I have a much bigger role in things.  A lot of people in my department depended on the supervisor but I think with the work load more properly balanced, we'll all be just fine.

I think I'm mostly annoyed by the manner in which he left.  I sent him a personal email after we found out he was gone and never got a response.  I guess his preferred method of leaving is just to burn every bridge in sight.  I would have at least appreciated a "Hey, sorry but there was no other choice.  It was nice working with you."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Begas




We went to Las Vegas recently for a friend's wedding renewal. The trip ended up being a lot of fun and a lot of frustration. The Wife and I drove out with two friends, leaving around 7-ish and getting into the hotel just past midnight. I was coming off of a cold so, sadly, I stayed in the hotel Friday night. It's just as well because everyone left at 2am and came home at 6. I struggled to sleep so maybe I should have just gone out anyway.

On Saturday, it started sprinkling when we were walking around Freemont Street which then turned into a full on downpour. None of us were prepared for rain so we did our best to stay dry but still ended up pretty soaked by the time we got back to the car. It was actually kind of refreshing as my cold felt a lot better after the rain. The Wife teased me and said maybe all I needed to do was take a shower.

Favorite story of the weekend - Vegas newbie Scott and I sat down at a blackjack table around 1 in the morning on Saturday night. It was $5 minimum and we both were doing okay. This douchebag tool walks by with his lady, who prompts him to sit down and play. He said he didn't want to sit because "there wasn't a lot of money on the table." I don't know if it's because Scott and I were doing just okay or if it was because there was only the two of us. Two other dudes joined us a little later, and then the Douchebag Tool made his triumphant return, sat down next to me and got $100 in chips.

First hand up, he bet $25 and got beat by the dealer's hand. He mutters "Fuck" and bet $25 on the second hand. Second hand - he busted and lets out an audible "Un-fucking-believable!" So he's down to $50 which he then bets on all the third hand to make up for his losses. The cards come out and sure enough, he busts again. He let out another "Un-fucking-believable!" and stormed away from the table. I was giddy because...well, that was awesome. I also won all three hands he was there for, as I think the other guys did at our table.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Paranoia

I've started doing this thing lately - against my own will and better judgement.  There have been a couple of times when I know I have done something but then I'll sit there later and wonder, "Did I do that?"

Example: I took the Wife's car to get dinner a few weeks ago, got home, ate and enjoyed the rest of our evening.  As we're laying there in bed, I'm thinking to myself, "Did I put up all of the windows on her car?"  Her car has 4 doors/windows, while mine only has 2.  I lay there and think further to myself - I had to have put them up.  I would have noticed if they weren't when I got out of the car, right?  Right?!??!  Well, I still didn't know so I had to explain to The Wife why I was getting out of bed at 10:30 to go check and for the record -- the windows were up.

Another example - I was making lunch for work one morning.  Everything was packed and I left to go into work.  I was about 10 minutes away on the freeway and thought to myself, "Did I put the food away or did I leave it sitting out on the counter?"  I was pretty sure I put it away but I also thought to myself, "If I get off the freeway right now, drive back and take a look, I'll just barely be late to work."  As I struggled with this internal dilemma while continuing to drive farther away, I decided to just trust my instincts that I had put the food away (which I indeed did).  Normally, it might not be a big deal but we've had 2 invasions of ants since we moved in.

*sigh*  It is SO annoying to be 99.9% sure you've done something but not be 100% sure.  I'm trying to trust my instincts since I am a pretty responsible person overall but sometimes I think I may just be going insane.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cashback

We watched the movie Cashback recently and I have to recommend it. I came across it while obsessing over movies involving time travel and/or freezing of time. Cashback is a British movie which started out as a short film, then expanded into a feature length which incorporated most of the short film seemlessly back into it.

It's about an artist named Ben who develops insomnia after his girlfriend dumps him. He takes a night shift job at a grocery store where his boredom forces imagination to run wild. He imagines time standing still and soon, he (seemingly) develops the ability to stop time at will. He develops a crush on his coworker, has some hijinks with his coworkers and boss and struggles to get past his insomnia.

I expected it to be artsy-fartsy, but it was sincere and actually quite funny. The Wife and I both ended up loving this film so kindly check it out, won't you?


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Blog Down Memory Lane

Wow.  First off, let me say I'm a fan of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.  It's a site that archives (or attempts to archive) websites.  I don't know how they do it, but I'm thankful because it's fun to look at band websites when they were promoting older albums.  Some bands I still love have broken up and don't have a website so it's neat to jog my memory and remember those days.

So I went on the IAWM and typed in an old old blog address I had and it had archived three pages of it.  Wow, three pages!  I went back and read them and it was pretty trippy.  Talking about my first job a LOT of detail, most of which would probably be frowned on these days, if not get me fired.  Talking about love interests, concerts I was going to, movies I had seen, stuff that I'd done with my family...it was just so weird to read old old blog posts.  It almost feels like I'm reading about a different person...which in a sense, I guess I was back then.

And no, I'm not going to give out the old old blog address so you can look it up.  The past is best left in the past.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Music Stores

I guess I didn't really talk about it much, but I took The Wife up to Santa Barbara for our one year anniversary last month.  It was very nice.  Santa Barbara is just far enough away that it feels like you're getting out of town but close enough that it's only an hour (or so) away.

One of the fun things we did was stop in a record store on State Street.  It was a little small but had a lot of product in their space. I told The Wife that I had forgotten how much fun it is to go to a record store, so we ended up going back the next day so I could look for more things. I don't buy nearly as much music as I used to but there is something really fun about looking through used CDs and discovering things you've never seen before or forgotten about. I ended up buying Encomium because it's not on iTunes or Amazon MP3.


I guess it's easier to shop for music digitally what with the comfort and the instant sound samples of everything. The music selection at Best Buy is fairly sad these days, too. For someone that's something of a music collector, I really enjoy digging through bins and finding rare import CDs and singles. It's been probably a good two years since I went to Amoeba Music, but we'll have to get down there sometime.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Snobs

In my 30-something years of living in southern California, I've encountered on many occasions what I would refer to as Valley Snobs or L.A. Snobs. These are people who live in the surrounding counties of Los Angeles (Orange, Riverside and especially Ventura) who deride Los Angeles as having no class or being too crowded...or simply believing Los Angeles / the Valley have nothing valuable to offer.

As someone who grew from a fetus to a bodybuilder in the Valley, I will gladly call bullshit on that every day of the week. Go check out the awesome antique store on Sherman Way in Canoga Park and you'll find see amazing things. Try to find more than one (if you can find any) good Filipino restaurant in Ventura county. Go see an improv show at UCB and tell me you can find anything funnier for the same price (average $5 fee).

Understandably, there are some bad aspects to both the Valley and Los Angeles but you can say the same thing about any town.  The Valley and Los Angeles both have so much to offer.  It's incredibly frustrating when I hear about The Wife's or my coworkers who dread going "over the hill" into Los Angeles.  Come out and find some good things - they're waiting.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Aunt May Must Die!



I read up on recent storylines taking place in the Spider-Man comics. I'll do my best to capsize it down so the non-comic book reader (all but one of you) can follow along -- Spider-Man was convinced to reveal his secret identity to the public -- Peter Parker. Peter moves his wife Mary Jane, and his Aunt May into hiding but an assassin spots them. The assassin's bullet hits Aunt May by accident and she ends up in a coma. Peter and Mary Jane contact a few superhero friends but they are unable to help. In a last ditch effort, the demon Mephisto shows up and will do two things - save Aunt May and also make the entire world forget who Spider-Man really is. Sabonis! The cost of the simple transaction - Peter and Mary Jane's marriage. So, Peter and Mary Jane figure that if they are one another's true loves, they will find each other again. They agree to the deal and wipe their marriage from all reality and memory to save his Aunt May.

Look, I'm not supporting assassinations nor reveling the death of old people, but come on! She's like 91 years old and has far outlived her usefulness in the world of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. I once heard about a nun that was very old in years who was diagnosed with cancer. Her church offered to pay for chemotherapy but she declined because she was old and the money could be better spent elsewhere - it was simply her time. Peter and Mary Jane gave up their entire marriage and life together. I'm sure Aunt May didn't want to go out via a sniper's bullet but life is tough sometimes. On the bright side, she could have been reunited with her beloved husband in Heaven who's been dead for a very long time now.

The story has met with a ton of controversy so I know my complaining won't do anything about it. Most people are whining about the changes to continuity but I'm tempted to go the other direction and start a 'Kill Aunt May' campaign since she is now a homewrecker and causing massive shifts in the fabric of reality.  I guess calling it 'Let Aunt May Pass in Her Sleep and Rest Peacefully' would be more appropriate, but I'll stick with my first title. Who's with me?!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Skippin' Ahead

I've been thinking a little bit about my Lost Room post the other day...

I started watching Dexter and it's pretty good.  I'm not 100% in love with it but it's pretty entertaining. The show is already up to season 4, so that's quite a bit of catching up to do.  Add to that it's only one of the many (see below) shows I've never seen and want to watch.  The problem is the amazing time commitment it will take to get through not only this, but all of the other series.

So I started experimenting with Dexter and watching only every other episode.  Each one starts off with a pretty good recap and if I follow my formula from The Lost Room post -- then I won't need to know how things happened, just that they happened.  It's working out pretty well so far.  Obviously, all of the main characters are still alive in every episode so anything that's presented as a threat isn't that much of a threat.  I'll get through the series faster and probably end up cutting out quite a few filler episodes along the way.

For anyone curious, here is a list of TV series I've never seen before and want to see.  When you realize how much of a time commitment it is, you'll see why I want to start skipping episodes --

The 4400
30 Rock**
Action
Battlestar Galactica
Breaking Bad*
Curb Your Enthusiasm*
Deadwood
Dexter*
Eastbound and Down
Flash Forward
Friday Night Lights
Freaks and Geeks
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia*
Justice League
Mad Men
The Office*
Oz
Rescue Me*
Rome
Samurai Jack
Scrubs**
The Shield
Smallville*
The Sopranos
South Park**
Treme
V
The West Wing
The Wire

* - in progress.
** - seen quite a few episodes here and there, but will probably need to start from the beginning.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Lost Room

The Wife and I watched a Sci-Fi mini-series entitled The Lost Room which, at the end, I really loved and she really didn't. The Lost Room deals with a hotel room in New Mexico that essentially disappeared from reality in 1961 after something called The Event. Every object in the hotel room at the time of The Event has some sort of power to it -- using a comb freezes time for 5 seconds, a glass eye can disintegrate or restore flesh and a hotel key takes you to any door in the world. Most of the objects have been dispersed since The Event so one group of people want the objects for their power, and another group is collecting all objects in the belief they can contact (or become) God.

The Wife's problem with this series is the lack of overall explanation behind things. They never delve into what The Event is/was, why it affected all of these objects or how the room disppeared, although they hint at several things. The reality of the show is simply that all of this stuff has happened and you're following the main character along on his journey within this context. Personally, I'm okay with that but I know it frustrates her.

I think about it in similar terms as the briefcase in Pulp Fiction - you're not sure why the briefcase is important, you only know that it is. It would be great if everything could be explained in these entertainment forms, but I still find value and enjoyment in the storytelling process.

How about you -- does not knowing what's in the briefcase affect your appreciation for Pulp Fiction? Are you still upset they never really focused on Walt again after Season 2 of Lost? Do you still want to know why the birds are attacking in The Birds?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Facebook Civil War

Below is a somewhat comical attempt to recreate some highlights from the Marvel Comics' story Civil War in a Facebook format. I probably should have prefaced this by saying that anyone but Tyler will probably not understand this. Yes, I was bored at work and wanted to attempt some humor with this. There were about 8 other plot points I considered adding in but I wanted to keep it somewhat short and hit a few beats.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

International Man

I was poking around online and looking for job postings in the field in which I am getting my Master's degree. I came across one job posting in Santa Monica with a salary that made me drool. I'm such a sellout but I can't apply for it yet since I'm still ~3 months away from graduation. On another job board, I found some postings with the government in foreign countries - there were quite a few but the only ones I remember were Germany and Egypt. How cool would that be?!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Year Later

This post is scheduled for Sunday, September 19 which is our 1-year anniversary of marriage. Hurray, we made it longer than Jennifer Lopez and Cris Judd! :)

As I write this and our anniversary date approaches, I'm happy -- but unsure if I should feel something more overwhelming. Our first year has been pretty good - we got our own place which we're slowly turning into a home. We painted one bedroom a few weekends ago, and have a color picked out for our bedroom. We're both employed, are overall doing well and have wonderful family and friends in our lives.

I'm also excited because we qualify to help lead an Engaged Encounter retreat, like we went on last year. When we went on ours, it was led by couples in their 70s (or so) with years of marital experience. I think it would be cool to have a younger couple presenting to give some perspective on the early beginnings of marriage. Plus, I know The Wife and I could make it fun(and funny!) for the couples that attend.

So an emphatic 'yay' to both of us. Here's to one more year! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

1/2 + 1/2 + 1/2 = ?

So, that John Mayer song "Half of My Heart" is admittedly catchy. The thing that baffles me, though, is the lyrics which go like this:

"Oh half of my heart's got a grip on the situation
Half of my heart takes time
Half of my heart's got a right mind to tell you"

So...Mayer has three halves to his heart...which means he would have 1 1/2 hearts? Am I missing something here? Consider me puzzled, Mr. Mayer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Double Down

I've seen advertisements for the new Really Big Chicken Sandwich at Jack in the Box. It is essentially a double chicken sandwich which got me thinking about the double cheeseburger. I love a good burger as much as the next guy but I wonder whose idea it was in the first place. Like some guy was cooking burgers and another guy came along and said, "You know what would go great on top of that burger?"

"What, man? Lettuce? Mayo?"

"No man, another burger." Minds were blown at that exact moment in 1942.*

* - Random guess at a year when the double cheeseburger may or may not have been invented

Friday, September 10, 2010

Learnin'

I've started compiling a mental list of things I still want learn. I'm in the last semester of my Master's Program and there's still a lot that I want to know how to do. Here's my list so far --

Learn how to fix shit on cars.
Learn how to fix shit in my house.
Learn how to make jewelry.
Take a sketch writing class.
Become a public notary to make some extra scratch.

Other stuff I'm looking forward to doing after I finish up school and have more free time --

Playing video games!
Selling old toys, comic books and other stuff on eBay / Craigslist.
Writing / drawing / launching a webcomic.

Mid-December cannot get here fast enough!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

iTunes Weeding Update

Remember back when I was talking about weeding my iTunes library? The project is finally over and done with, so here are the final results. Keep in mind that while I deleted a great deal of songs, I also downloaded / "acquired" a few new ones along the way. So it started at 8,744 and is now down to...7,027!

Hurray!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reason #40

Presenting Reason #40 why I love* my company...

The power went out at work the other day just after 11am. For some reason, they had us evacuate the building. So, we all stood outside for about 10 minutes when our boss told us to just go to lunch and come back at 1pm. Normally, we only get 30 minutes for lunch so getting anything over an hour was a huge blessing!

I called up my brother who works nearby, had lunch and headed back at 1pm. Unfortunately, the power came back on so we had to finish out the day. About 15 minutes back into the work day, the same boss emails us and says that our long lunch will be deducted from our timesheet of hours for the week.

Um...didn't you tell us to go take a long lunch? Weren't we just following orders? So bogus!!!

* - sarcastic indeed!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

110 North

I vaguely remember hearing about this story years ago and very randomly came across a web article about it, so I figured I'd share some links.

Back in 2001, artist Richard Ankrom fabricated his own freeway sign to the exact Caltrans specifications and hung it up himself in broad daylight. He did both as guerrilla art piece and to help ease traffic in downtown Los Angeles. Remarkably, it took 9 months to break the news story and Caltrans didn't do anything about it because the signs really did help ease traffic.

The sign remained for about EIGHT YEARS until Caltrans finally went around replacing / updating signs.

Read about it here and here. Awesome story overall.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Russian Ark

I randomly found a movie called Russian Ark in a Blockbuster one day but wasn't feeling risky enough to spend $5 to rent it. Luckily, I remembered the title years all these years later and got it from Netflix. What intrigued me about the movie many years ago was the fact that this 96-minute movie was filmed in one take.

The movie is in Russian (with subtitles) and it shows scenes from 300 years of Russian history as the camera winds through a museum. I'm not up on my Russian history whatsoever but The Wife is, and she really enjoyed those aspects of it. Me, I just thought it was pretty cool to see an uninterrupted shot for 96 minutes. It's kind of weird because you're so used to scene transitions and the cuts every director has in a movie. You're sitting there almost expecting to see a cut, or a wipe to another scene. There are times where they are stalling for a little bit of time but if nothing else, you should check out this movie for the feat. There is also a 40-minute documentary on the disc about how they shot it and the coordinated efforts it took. The shot you see in the movie was their fourth attempt at getting it done and if it didn't make it on that take, the movie might not have made it at all.

So, if you're into Russian history, you'll love this movie. If you're into movies that were shot in a really unique way, you'll probably like it, too.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

27 Degrees

The attached image is (allegedly) the weather forecast for the next few days. I'm going to go on record as saying it's bullshit and there's no way it will drop 27 degrees between now and Saturday.

Will there be a drop? Maybe, but I highly doubt it will be anywhere as dramatic as my iPhone is indicating. As this article on Cracked points out and this other, in-depth piece referenced in that article, weather forecasters are generally full of malarky.

Check back on Saturday and see how far off they were. My prediction for Saturday - sunny and 85ยบ.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Puddin'

I made pudding for the first time in years last night and it is DELICIOUS. Comedian Greg Behrendt has a bit about pudding that I can't find online anywhere but trust us, if you haven't had pudding in many years, give it another shot. Your tastebuds deserve it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Specificflix

Wow, Netflix. You're getting very specific with your movie recommendations.



I pretty much stopped going to Blockbuster because they didn't have a section for 'critically-acclaimed revenge movies from the 1970s.'

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Aerosmith

The Wife and I saw Aerosmith recently and the show was good, but not great. The set list and energy started off really strong through the first six songs. Then it just reached a lull in the middle and somewhat picked up at the end. I think we were both expecting more but considering the age of the band, maybe we shouldn't have.

Here's a recap of the setlist:

Back in the Saddle
Love in an Elevator
Falling in Love
Eat the Rich
Pink
Livin' on the Edge
What It Takes*
Mama Kin
Last Child
Cryin'
Lord of the Thighs
Guitar solo
Stop Messin' Around
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
Sweet Emotion
Baby Please Don't Go
Draw the Line
----
Dream On
Walk This Way
Toys in the Attic

* - where the show started to drag.

I think two of the lowlights were the drum solo and the Joe Perry vs. Guitar Hero Joe Perry guitar solo. On the way home, I was talking to The Wife about how '80s bands always had drum solos and guitar solos during concerts. On some music documentary (either about Poison or Def Leppard), I heard they did this because the other guys would go backstage and hook up with a groupie. I think drum and guitar solos are still a leftover relic from those days but I can't imagine Steven Tyler wants to go grab a quickie at his age.

Of course, the overall concert experience might have been hindered by sitting in the lawn section 5 miles away from the stage. However, we got the tickets for $10 from a special promo and there was free parking, so $20 for an outdoor Aerosmith concert can't be too bad overall.

Here's the video for one of my favorite Aerosmith songs - "Love in an Elevator" --

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unforward Back

Remember by previous post about potentially going back to my old job? Yeah, that's not going to happen. I had a good meeting with the current manager, but I was still skeptical about the overall stability of the company. They're doing good but are still a minimum of 3 years away (my guess) from doing great.

Things seemed to be going well enough with the re-interview, so they brought in the CFO. I caught up with him for a few minutes and expressed some of my concerns. He asked me what type of salary I was looking for, and I told him. His response was, "Huh. That wasn't the number we were looking for." Dude, I don't even make that much! They best they could offer me was my old salary when I was working there...so really, what would be the point of going back to a potentially unstable company just to make my old salary?

*sigh* Oh well. They understood they were far off on the compensation, so I'll be at my current job.

*sigh*

Thursday, August 5, 2010

San Francisco

As part of our Northern California adventures, the Wife and I went up to San Francisco for the day. My previous two experiences in SF probably combined for a total of 8 hours - 3 of which were spent at a concert. So this was kind of my first real chance to explore SF and...I kinda had some issues with it. The traffic is f'ed up. The streets and navigating your way around are f'ed up. Parking anywhere is f'ed up...everything is crammed in and feels really tight.

However, I had a good time, probably because I wasn't doing the driving. We parked at Ghirardelli Square and walked over to Fisherman's Wharf where I tried the famous, yet unimpressive, Fishwich. On our way back, we went to Ghirardelli's to get a milkshake and to get our parking validated. Said milkshake cost $6 and the guy informed us we had to spend $20 there in order to get validation. So you have to spend $20 to get a $10 validation credit...? Sounds like a deal.

Luckily, I walked to the diner next door where the 16-year old host couldn't care less and gave us validation. We then found our way over to Golden Gate Park which also proved confusing. *sigh* Oh, San Francisco, I want to like you more but you make it a little difficult. I'm looking forward to seeing how you and I do next time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Garlic Festival 2K10

The Wife and I recently went up to Gilroy for the 2010 Garlic Festival. We went on the Friday of the 3-day weekend festival which was a smart decision. It was pretty packed but judging from the traffic we saw on our way out of town, it gets pretty insane on Saturday and Sunday. They had a ton of food booths, some arts and crafts people, cooking demonstrations and three stages of music.

We spent the entire day there just wandering around listening to bands and eating way too much food - garlic bread, garlic fries, garlic sausage sandwich, garlic calamari, garlic steak tacos, beer battered crab garlic fries, garlic popcorn and of course, (free!) garlic ice cream. Unlike the garlic ice cream we had at The Stinking Rose many years ago, this only had a hint of garlic to it. It was pretty refreshing on a warm summer day, too.

All in all, it was a pretty fun time listening to music, eating and people watching. Some people had garlic hats and one guy was dressed up as a garlic bulb.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Second Skin

I recently saw a documentary about MMORPG gamers called Second Skin. MMORPGs are video games like World of Warcraft and Everquest where you create and develop your character, taking him from a novice to a pro. The game is played online where you make friends, join a guild, and complete quests together. Second Skin is very interesting and well put together, even for someone like me who has a waning interest in video games.

One of the interesting things they touched on was the real world relationships that develop out of a simulated reality. Several people have met and fell in love because of this community. For a few of them, it's a welcome change to feel accepted by a group. Some may be considered "different" because they're in a wheelchair or they may not be the most "attractive." But they play the game online, talk to others and are accepted just based on the communication they have, not what they look like.

At the end of the movie, I felt left with question of where the bigger problem lies - is it with the gamers who are by all accounts addicted to the game and spend their free time playing it? Or is with society who still has issues accepting people that are different? I learn towards the latter as the answer, but if you're 35 years old and lost your job because you're too attached to levelling up your cleric troll named Targun, perhaps you need a look in the mirror as much as society does.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

"The Wife"

I've had to answer this question twice in the comments section about why I refer to my wife as The Wife on this blog, instead of by her real name. Figured I might as well make a post and get it out there. The simple answer is that this is my blog - whatever is said here represents my opinion alone. It's not like I say anything inflammatory, but I don't want to put her actual name on this thing, nor think that I can speak on her behalf in a forum like this.

I frequently tell stories on here that involve both of us, so I needed to find a way to mention her somehow. Calling her simply The Wife seemed like the easiest solution. I assure you it's not meant out of disrespect to her or our relationship whatsoever.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Munday

Let's say you get away for the weekend with The Wife and have a totally awesome time. You have a lot of good laughs. It's fun, it's relaxing and you feel a combination of refreshed and tired on Monday morning when you wake up. What would you say is then the best way to wake up on Monday morning? A little action first thing in the morning? Finding a breakfast burrito waiting for you at work? Either one of those would have been preferable to finding your bicycle stolen, your passenger car window motor (I think) on the fritz and being late to work. Fuck you, karma.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Walking the Room

Amongst the intense boredom at work, I enjoy the welcome distraction of a good podcast. Previously, I recommended the Adam Carolla podcast on this blog, but I may have to issue a semi-retraction. It's hit-and-miss these days as he's gone back to the format of his old morning radio show. They still have a different guest each day but they rarely leave any time to get into anything in-depth as they did when it was just Adam and a guest. There are enough funny moments to make it worth my while but it's no longer the podcast I most look forward to listening to.

That distinction now belongs to Walking the Room featuring Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony. It's hard to say what the podcast is about...since it isn't really about anything. What it is is two very funny and clever comedians bantering back and forth about anything from Greg's neighbor's death to Dave's story about "comedian" Ant. These guys clearly have a friendship and camaraderie that stretches back many years and it comes through on each episode. Plus, there is only one episode released each week so it's not like it requires a daily commitment like some other podcasts I listen to.

Check it out at the previous link or over here on iTunes. Download. Enjoy. New episodes are posted each Sunday.

Anyone out there have any good podcast recommendations?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dual Dukedom

I've been trying to use Yelp on my phone more - to post reviews of restaurants we eat at, but mostly for taking / posting photos of food. One function I was fairly unaware of was the ability to "check in" when you are at any location. I don't think there is an overall goal to checking in somewhere, other than to tell Yelp where you were.

I recently discovered if you have the most check-ins at a location, you become the Duke or Duchess of that place. I'm happy to say I am currently the Duke of a sushi restaurant near our house. The place is kind of small and has become The Wife's favorite sushi place so it was pretty easy to achieve Dukedom.

The new goal I've set is to become The Duke of Ikea. The current Duke has 4 check-ins there, so it will be easy to revolt and topple his regime. We get a lot of our furniture there, and it is always our meeting spot when we see the in-laws. The running joke between The Wife and I is that we go to Ikea more often than we go to church. So keep an eye on the local Ikea page on Yelp, and remember you knew the Duke of Ikea before he held dual Dukedom.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Food Nights

I've never proclaimed myself to be a scientific expert, but I have observed something from the world of entertainment on two occasions. Once I have a third example, I will consider this to be fact but in the meantime, I present a tentative hypothesis - designated food nights may contribute to sour relationships.

In the episode of LOST titled "I Do," Kate tries to settle down with a normal guy and live a normal life. She goes to the grocery store to pick up stuff for "Taco Night" and ends up crying, leaving her fiancee and admiting that she "just can't do Taco Night."

In the 1986 movie About Last Night..., one guy teases another about becoming domesticated and having a weekly Sandwich Night in their meal plan. I believe it comes up later in the movie as a point of contention in his relationship.

Personally speaking, I think food nights sound like a good idea since it's planned ahead and takes the guesswork out of planning at least one meal a week. I believe these examples from entertainment media had both of their food nights take place on a Wednesday, so perhaps that is the point that leads to conflict.

Further research must be done.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Forward Back

I was recently contacted by the first company that I worked for. It seems the manager of my old department will be leaving soon, and they were discussing how to proceed once he's gone. My name came up and someone I was close with at the company got in touch via Facebook. I told them I'd like to stop by and see what their plans are. Part of me still thinks it's pretty bizarre (in a good way), though.

I certainly left on good terms, and I even told them I would come back to work for them if the circumstances were right. I just wonder if you can move forward in your career by going back...?

I'm not positive what type of new work would be involved but it would certainly be more creative than what I have going on right now. Intriguing - we'll see what happens.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Random Celebrity Sightings

I had two very random celebrity sightings recently. First up was Nikki Sixx at the Topanga Mall. I was 99% sure that was him I saw in the food court but when I walked by again, he'd up and gone. A few minutes later, he was standing by a kiosk so I went up and asked if it was really him. I told him I was a fan and asked for a photo, but he said he was trying to spend with his kids, so he'd rather not. No problem, Mr. Sixx! I only wish my phone would have rang at that moment since my ringtone is "Kickstart My Heart."

The other sighting was at the Natural History Museum as I spotted one Diedrich Bader, of Drew Carey Show and Office Space fame. He was hanging out in the Insect Zoo portion of the museum with his kids, as a live animal presentation was about to start. Weird and random on both counts.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Smith

A female friend of mine whose maiden name was Smith got married recently. At the reception, her Dad got up to give a speech and his opening line was something like, "Well, we're all a little sad there's going to be one less Smith in the phone book now." I have to give him props as that's probably one of the funniest lines I've ever heard.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Wife and I were curious to watch the television Avatar: The Last Airbender since the movie is coming out soon. I had read really good reviews of it and luckily, the entire series is available to stream on Netflix. After plowing through all three seasons in about two weeks, the verdict is - this show is awesome. The series originally aired on Nickelodeon and its three seasons compose the entire arc of the series and characters. It is currently heading to the big screen this weekend, as adapted by M. Night Shymalan and hopefully he doesn't mess it up.

Back to the original, though - the story is about a 12-year old boy who is the current Avatar, the only person who can master all four elements (Air, Earth, Fire and Water). He's been missing for over 100 years, during which time the Fire Nation wiped out all of the Air Nomads, and is laying siege to the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom. Two teenagers from the Water Tribe discover Aang frozen in ice, and help him out in his quest to master the elements and restore balance to the world.

Yes, the cartoon aired on Nickelodeon and I guess it's aimed at kids, but both The Wife and I were enthralled with the story. It's easy enough for kids to follow, but it isn't dumbed down to the point where adults would get bored with it. On the contrary, the story is engaging and I enjoyed many of the shows funny moments. Overall, this is a very clever and original television series, and with only three seasons to watch, it's a short term commitment. Check out an episode or two and judge for yourself.

I got that pretty cool wallpaper image from this site.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Domestic Bingo

Here's another game I'm going to invent - Domestic Bingo™. Ever since The Wife and I were married and got our own place, some of our weekends feel formulaic. So, print this card out on Friday mornings and see how many squares you get by Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I love my Wife and being married - it's just that some weekends are way more predictable than others.

Target is the freebie square in the center because really, a weekend isn't a weekend without a trip to Target.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Stuff"

Since space is an important issue in our new place, we've been downsizing a lot. I'm amazed at how much stuff I've gotten rid of. A few months ago, I was going through a collection of my old drawings and paintings. I had sketches going back to like 4th grade and I was thinking to myself, "This isn't a good drawing. If I save this, it's going to sit in a closet for 30 years and then my kids (if we ever have them) are going to come across it and decide what to do with it." So rather than put the burden on them in the future, I'm getting rid of a LOT of stuff. Chances are that I will never have a museum built in my honor, so if my drawing of "Tanglor, the Monster from Saturn" gets recycled into a Cheerios box, that's cool with me.

Part of me is also intrigued by the idea of leaving nothing behind. I recently tossed out the journal I kept from 11th grade through my first three years of college. I read through it and the majority of it was about girls I liked, and hoping they would like me back. I'm happily married and there isn't a need to re-read my futile words again and again. (It's probably in the Simi landfill at this point if anyone is looking for it.)

One awesome thing we did was condense an entire collection of over 250+ DVDs into one small box that fits under our coffeetable. We recycled all of the cases, and artwork / inserts that come with it, and put the discs in individual paper sleeves. How often am I going to pick up the DVD case for Swingers and read the back? I own the movie, I love the movie, I can recall the plot description -- and if I can't, the Internet is always standing close by.

Am I insane for getting rid of this much stuff? Am I going to wish I had that drawing of Tanglor, or my journal filled with thoughts of my high school crush? Is it ridiculous to keep only a minimum number of "things"?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reason #88

Presenting Reason #88 why I love* my company...

There's been a freeze on salary increases since last July, I frequently run out of work to do and we hired three new people in the last month. When that freeze gets lifted come this July, all of us better get raises.

* - yep, still sarcastic

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Facebook

I think this will make Facebook complaint #3 for me, so let's get it over with - why do people post status updates mentioning people that are not on Facebook? Examples I've seen in the last few months -

"Happy birthday to my wonderful husband" -- even though this person's husband does not have a FB account and is, in fact, opposed to the site. Are you going to relay all of the follow up comments you solicited on behalf of your husband's birthday?

"Happy birthday to my Grandma, who would have turned 88 today!" -- great, not only is this person NOT on Facebook, they're also fucking dead.

Stop it already!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Freeway Overpass Signs

I don't know if this happens in other parts of the country but I've noticed an increasing number of signs being hung on freeway overpasses. You know, you're driving down the 118, look up and there's a bedsheet hung to the overpass that says "Happy 18th birthday, Natasha!"

Consider this, the average person is doing 55-65mph on a freeway and they have maybe 3-4 seconds to see your bedsheet that you spray painted on. This message is for one person (if they even see it) and it's a distraction to a thousand others.

The other thing that annoys me about this is it never gets taken down later that day - it sits there for 2-3 days until it falls off or the weather beats it down, which in my opinion, means it's on par with graffiti and/or littering.

Stop it already!!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Rookie Champions

With the NBA Finals underway and inching closer to conclusion, I got to thinking about pro athletes and the concept of winning a championship. The goal of every pro athlete is to be the champion and there inevitably have to be some rookies that get drafted to a team that takes off. There's probably some rookie that got drafted to the New Orleans Saints last season and barely saw any playing time - yet they're on the team, so he's got a Super Bowl ring.

Also consider Adam Morrison - a standout college basketball player who hasn't quite hit his mark in the NBA. He got traded to the Lakers last year, got a championship ring with them last year and is headed towards another.

Some players go their whole lives without ever making it past Round 1 of the playoffs and some players end up on a championship team but don't contribute much of anything. I wonder if a player is more excited or frustrated by an experience like this.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Birthday

Today marks my 32nd birthday. Hurray. I don't know specifically when this shift happened but my birthday has gone from something I really looked forward to something I could easily forget about. Ten years ago, I would get all of my friends together for a big birthday dinner and hangout. Then, that got kind of annoying because you have to reserve a table for 20 at BJ's and paying the bill is an utter disaster. Five years ago, I'd get all of my friends together at a bar and everyone gets their own check. Much easier, yet kinda frustrating because I could never spend enough time with everyone that was kind enough to show up.

I'm almost tempted to go out with a handful of friends but then that excludes a lot of people from the larger "group." It's almost easier to not do much at all in terms of a big celebration.

Maybe I'm just getting more anti-social and crabbier (see: upcoming posts) as I get older.

I'll go out to dinner with The Wife tonight, and if we're both done battling illnesses, maybe see an improv show on Saturday.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Balcony Bingo

I'm going to start a new game called Balcony Bingo. The Wife and I have a neighbor across the way that looooves to talk on her cellphone on her balcony. Loud. Or loudly, whichever it is. I wouldn't mind if it was an occasional thing but the balcony has become her "private" phone booth while also polluting my auditory space.

From two phone calls on Monday, we learned how much she is in debt, what her current health problems (and prescibed medication) are and the issues she and her boyfriend are working on. I'm very tempted to start leaving notes on her front door saying things like, "Hope your acid reflux clears up" or "You and your boyfriend can work through this."

In the meantime, I think I'll make a bingo board and mark off squares depending on what personal information is revealed. Feel free to stop by and play anytime since this occurs almost every day.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Movie Recommendations

Since Netflix stupidly removed (most of) the Friends compatibility feature on its website, I'll start posting my movie recommendations on here. Two movies we saw recently are totally worth checking out.

First up is a movie called Hoodwinked. Hoodwinked is a little bit Shrek-ish in that it's an animated movie drawing on fairy tale characters; it's also a like The Usual Suspects or Vantage Point, in that the same mystery / story is told through flashbacks and from differing viewpoints. It's very clever and funny, and well worth the 80 minutes.

My next recommendation is a flick called Appleseed Ex Machina. The Wife occasionally gets some anime movies off of Netflix and I find most of them too long, convoluted and/or boring but this one is sheer awesomeness. The animation is amazing and the story of a bleak future populated with genetically engineered humans is gripping.

Highly, HIGHLY recommend both of these.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Reason #5

Presenting reason #5 why I love* my company...

New people starting at my work is a weird thing. Aside from the 3 managers, the rest of the department has no idea someone new is coming in. We've had 3 new people start within the last couple of months, and they just show up and are put into the department. Whenever there have been new hires at my previous employers, we'd get an e-mail a few days before saying, "Hey, Steve Johnson is going to be starting with us on Monday - he's got 6 years of experience doing ___, and let's make sure to welcome him to the team."

Nope, not here. Looking back on my first day here, I remember getting quite a few weird looks from people like, Who the f is this guy and what is he doing here? Sadly, it's a cycle that keeps on repeating itself. New people are pretty much left to fend for and establish themselves.

(* - still sarcastic)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Housing Shoutouts

With all of the house purchasing and stuff we've done recently, I'd like to take a moment to plug a few people that helped us along the way. Most of these people do their business through positive word of mouth, and I have nothing but positive things to say about each of them. When I got the names / companies of some of them, I tried Googling them to find reviews to see how they conduct business. I couldn't find anything - good or bad - so hopefully this blog post will come up in searches, so others can read about our good experience:

First up is our realtor, Kari Wilson. As nervous and inexperienced first-time homebuyers, Kari was incredibly patient with us. She took the time to explain things to us, and in some cases, re-explain them in easier terms. She kept telling us that her goal is for us to find a home that makes us happy, even if it took months and months. We never felt any pressure from her to bid or act on something we weren't 100% comfortable with. She was always quick to respond to emails, phone calls or texts, and she really stayed on top of getting the bid and proper documentation. Whenever we decide to sell that place and look for a new home, we'll definitely use Kari again.

For getting the home loan, we used Carrie at Military Home Programs. She also took the time to explain things to us so we could understand them, and was quick to respond to all communications, even if it was after regular business hours or on weekends. She got us a great rate and was very friendly to work with.

We had the acoustic ceiling scraped off and repainted in our new place, courtesy of Andrew Kang. He's been in the business for over 30 years and gave us the most competitive quote (out of the 3 we received). We left a house key in a lockbox and he had the whole job done in 2 days. The ceiling looks great and it's really helped with getting rid of the smoke smell that was lingering in our place. He was out on a Saturday to give us a quote, then came back to start the job on Tuesday and finished it by Wednesday. What a pro!

The last person is the handyman our realtor recommended - Rich Flittner. We faxed him a copy of our home inspection report and he gave us some rough estimates. He said he would stop by sometime on Wednesday, get the key from the lockbox and take a look at the problems in person. He figured he would assess it, then come back on Thursday and/or Friday. It turned out the problems weren't that intensive and he didn't have to buy any supplies, so he started and finished them all on Wednesday. One of the problems was that neither ceiling fan / circulator in the bathrooms were working. His original estimate included replacing them outright, but all they needed was a good cleaning and to be reconnected. He could have told us he replaced them and charged us the full amount he originally quoted, but he did the cleaning / adjusting and saved us a decent chunk of money. Rich is totally professional and honest, and we will definitely be using his services again.

If you need any of their phone numbers, post a comment or shoot me an email and I'll get it to you.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Free Food

I don't know what is wrong with me but I cannot pass up free food. This is something that developed in my recent adult years but if there is free food in the office or if we're at Trader Joe's, I cannot refuse free food. It's not like we were poor growing up and were hurting for food. Heck, it's not like I'm poor now and am hurting for food. Maybe it's because it combines two of my favorite things: food + free = awesome. Anyway, if you want to get me to show up to any event whatsoever, just tell me there's going to be free food and I'll be there in a Dallas second.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MegaFaire

The Wife and I went to a Renaissance Fair recently and had an awesome time. They have food, games and of course, people in costumes ranging from pirates to elves, to centaurs and fauns. The best value for my entertainment, though, is a game called Pelt the Privateer -- for $5, you get 10 tomatoes to throw at a guy in stocks. He was a lot further away then the last time I did this 4 years ago so it was harder to hit him. I did manage to have one headed straight for his face before he blocked it like a chickenshit coward!

Anyway, as The Wife and I were looking at everyone dressed up in costumes, we talked about how it looks fun to dress up and act in character the whole day. I said it would be fun to dress up as something totally out of place, like a cowboy, and go to a RenFair.

Then I had the following idea - MegaFaire™. Everyone would be encouraged to dress up as any one of a number of creatures or personas - cowboys, ninjas, zombies, pirates, robots, knights, centaurs, elves, zoot suit gangsters, Jedi Knights, comic book characters, etc. This would take place in a massive open park area and have multiple themed villages for each character class, but they would all funnel into one open area where everyone mingles and intersects. I bet we could even structure some kind of LARP-event around it, too.

Who's with me?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

LOST

After last night's episode of Lost wrapped up, we were talking about how we've devoted 6 years of our life to this series. It was kind of weird to think about, because I remember watching the pilot at my mom's house when I lived there. This was before my apartment when I was still working for my first company out of college. Since then, I've worked for two other companies, met and married my awesome wife, moved back into my Mom's house and bought our first condo. All that since little Jacky Shephard crashed on an island 6 years ago.

Anyway. I had a guess about how the show might end - I thought it would end with Jack as the new Jacob protecting the island sitting next to the smoke monster as Locke, as a new group of crash survivors ends up on the island. The cycle would repeat. This fails to resolve the sideways timeline and I think that would leave viewers a little unimpressed. I wonder now if Desmond will in fact blow up the island since we saw the island underwater in the season premiere and everything would resolve and end. Considering the finale's episode is called "The End" it seems like it will be more along those lines.

That, too, seems a little too obvious at this point. It may still happen but I think there will be an even bigger twist or revelation at the end. What about you? Any guesses on what will happen to end the series?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Well Enough Alone?

I'm currently in the running for a job and will hopefully get a second interview this week. This place is ten minutes from our new home and sounds a ton more creative. Part of me wonders, though, if I should just stick with my current job and leave well enough alone. Financially, we're doing good but I want us to do better. Doing better entails me making more money which this new opportunity should allow.

But, having been laid off before, part of me is nervous about shaking up the status quo we have going right now. By all indications, this potential new job is better geographically, financially and creatively. I almost wish someone else could make this decision for me so it would be "easier." Of course, we'll have to see how the second interview goes and what / if they offer.

Any thoughts out there, blogland?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Bad Beer

I have a few blog posts in the works but nothing ready to publish. Moving into and owning your own place is a lot more work than we expected. We cleared two important things out of the way yesterday and finally have enough furniture set up to where it's starting to feel like home. Internet is supposed to be hooked up tomorrow so hopefully I can catch up on posting blogs and listening to podcasts soon enough.

Random question for you - does beer go bad? I really REALLY wanted a lot of drinks last friday. Our closest supermarket had my two favorite kinds of beer but every case was dated April 2010. I thought it might be okay but decided to keep my ten bucks and nit find out if beer goes bad. Sadly, I have yet to have a celebratory drink in our new place.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Divergent Paths

After viewing Zombieland recently, I was reading up about its star, Woody Harrelson, who has to be one of the...more unique actors in Hollywood. The most fascinating thing I read about him from his Wikipedia article is the fact that his father, Charles Harrelson, was a freelance hitman who went to jail for the murder of a federal judge.

Wha-wha-what....?! Wait, it gets better. He also hinted at one point that he might have been involved in the JFK assassination. Wait, it gets even better as he once also attempted to escape from prison at the age of 58.

Wow. I mean, WOW. Find me any other parent / child combination in Hollywood (or anywhere else) with such divergent paths.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tweet

This is one of the many reasons I hate Twitter. I follow a few people (via Google Reader, so thankfully I don't have to have a Twitter account). One of them is the bass player of my favorite band who posted this:

RT @Tomdrummond leave @fudgerecording. Does this happen??? RT @RobertLeBlanc @gabagavi *not lately*(cont) http://tl.gd/sp1ii (via @gabagavi)

W. T. F. What is that even supposed to mean? It's a bunch of nonsense. My best guess is it translates to 'Does Tom Drummond ever leave Fudge Recording (Studios)? Robert LeBlanc and Gaba Gavi don't think so - click this link to read an additional twenty letters. The fact that there is a completely different website just to publish longer messages means that Twitter itself is a TOTAL FAILURE.

Please die, Twitter. Pretty, pretty please.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Home Sweet Home

If all goes well, by the time this post is published, The Wife and I will be homeowners. After three months of looking, we found a condo we liked and put a bid in on it last month. We've been going through the whole process of home inspections, escrow, finalization of loan documents and such. I think the most frustrating part of the thing was the amount of paperwork you have to fill out. I kind of understand, since the paperwork for owning property shouldn't be on the same level as a job application at McDonald's, but it's still fairly annoying.

I really have to say, thank goodness we have iPhones. Yahoo! Mail is blocked at my work, so we were able to stay on top of emails much faster - I think there was one day last week where we got 8 emails in a matter of 20 minutes for something escrow needed "ASAP." The thing they needed, though - I had already sent them a month ago. So lame. Not to rave too much about iPhones but being able to merge phone calls into a conference call was also a big help on many a lunch break.

So...the new place is a 2+2 with an awesomely huge park within walking distance. We have 1 parking spot in a shared garage, and 1 assigned outdoor spot. It's also within walking distance of a Catholic church. Everyone we talked to in this condo complex was really nice and they all said, without fail, that they really enjoyed living there. It's a very exciting time in our lives. It needs a few things done to it which we will hopefully have taken care of in the first week and a half, and then we can start moving in after that. I will take pictures at some point and post them -- perhaps in a more restricted setting like Facebook.