Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top 5 Date Movies of All Time

Here they are, in reverse order. The indisputable top five greatest date movies of all time are listed below. This means that these movies are very enjoyable to watch on a date. If you can score a date, any one of these might be the way to go.

5. The Princess Bride

What’s not to like here? It’s Funny and Sad. There’s Action and Romance. Andre the Giant speaks poetry. If you and your lady-friend / fella-friend have somehow missed seeing this one during the last 20 years, you need to rectify that gap in your life. I’m going to watch it with my mom tonight (not a date) for her birthday.

4. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken

“Date Movie?! How is that a Date Movie!?” This is probably what you just thought in a voice sounding eerily like Jimmy Stewart. What’s more date friendly than a little suspense to go with your comedy and romance? Get the lady (or timid fellow) a little more snuggly. Plus the scene on the front Porch where Luther is trying to tell her that he likes her is simply beautiful and so painfully awkward.

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

A romance with quite a bit of darkness thrown in. The party scene always feels like I’m reading a Fitzgerald novel which is fun. You find yourself caring about some pretty selfish and despicable people and then you’re happy after being sad. Plus, Deep Blue Something highly recommends this movie as being good for your relationships.

2. The Notebook

The book was terrible, the movie was great. It’s not often I will ever esteem a movie above a book, but in this case that is most certainly true. Great date movie. It’s a little racy, so for those of you who like to bring small children on your dates (weirdos!) you might want to call a sitter for this one.

1. Say Anything

John Cusack holds the radio over his head.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Something Stupid.

So I did something stupid the other day.

Let me back up a little bit. In my entire life, I have never been afraid of snakes. I was that kid who ran towards the horrified scream of “SNAKE!” I brought them into the house. I played with them. I poked them with sticks. I alarmed my mother.

This has been my history. I never intentionally picked up a poisonous snake (cause that would be stupid) and was pretty confident in my snake identification. It’s been fairly simple to ID them since I’ve only seen a handful of different snakes in person, most of which have been easily identifiable. Mistakes can be made though.

For Example....

I did something stupid the other day. I was in my home, minding my own business, preparing to shave. I shave in the evening instead of the morning, but that’s not important for the purposes of this story. So I was shoeless (since shoes are non-essential to the shaving process) and shirtless (since shirts are counter-productive to the shaving process) and just about to apply the foam when my wife said my parents had just called and were in the driveway.

Normally I put on a shirt before I go outside (sorry ladies), but since it was just my parents (who have seen me shirtless on an occasion or two, including birth) I went out sans shirt. I got halfway to them when I spotted my next door neighbor crossing the yard to see what was going on as well. I’m now feeling a bit awkward about the semi-nudity, but pressed on.

My parents told me there was a snake at the end of their driveway, so I headed across to their house (yes... I live practically next door to my parents) to take a look. It was just starting to get dark at this point, so perhaps I can blame bad lighting for what followed.

There he (or she) was. I rapidly identified (or so I thought) the snake as a Rat snake. I have handled tons of rat snakes in my lifetime and without a second thought I stooped down and made a lightning fast (because I am lightning fast) ninja grab for the snakes neck to pick him up.

The snake was also ninja fast.

I did get him by the neck and picked him up, but somewhere in the process he turned his head at a very un-rat-snake-like speed and got me on the hand. No fang sinkage or anything like that. Just a very light scratch, but there was blood. The snake then proceeded to freak out. I have never before seen a snake struggle with the intensity this one displayed. Apparently he had a great deal to live for. The snake also did something else at this point I had never experienced. He “musked” me. For the non snake people reading this, I am going to share some information with you. Some snakes are capable of putting out a horrible stink as a defense mechanism when they are threatened, similar to what a skunk does. So what happened was that I got snake skunked. Real bad.

At this point of the story, I am holding a snake approximately 3 feet long and thrashing wildly who has bitten me and skunked me. At this point I am also realizing two things.

1. This is not a rat snake.
2. I don’t know what kind of snake this is.

Now, it is important to remember that my mother, father, and next door neighbor are nearby and my very unhappy wife has just joined them. So I confidently assure them the snake is non poisonous and nothing to worry about. My dad wants to kill the snake. Normally I am opposed to killing non-poisonous snakes and prefer to release them out in a field. Non-poisonous snakes are good and help keep the rodent population under control. I decided this snake had to die though. I did this for two reasons.

1. Internally I wasn’t so sure this was not a poisonous snake, in spite of my confident proclamation.
2. If it was a poisonous snake, I was going to need the snake’s corpse to take to the ER with me so they could administer the correct antivenin for my bite.

I tossed the snake on the ground for my father to run over with his Bronco. That’s right. My father’s preferred method of snakicide is death by Bronco. The snake hit the ground and started running for it. Slithering actually, and at a speed I had never seen a snake move. This added to my anxiety and helped confirm my realization that I had no idea what in the world this quite athletic snake was.

My father rolled over the snake. Backed up, and rolled over the snake again.

This is the point of the story where the snake died.

Bye snake.

I did not tell my parents the snake bit me on the hand because my mother would have spent the next 10 hours researching snakes, snake bites, and would have repeatedly told me to go to the hospital. I also kept the info to myself so my neighbor would not know I was the kind of idiot who would pick up a snake without knowing what kind of snake it was. So I said my shirtless goodbyes and retreated into my house with my wife. When I told her, she was ready to take my head off upon finding out about the bite.

She was quite angry indeed.

Please remember that I also smelled horrible due to the snake musk all over my arms. I cleaned the wound and took a shower. I had to scrub the fool out of my arms for a long time to remove the smell. It was quite strong.

To make a long story short (I know....much too late), the snake bite caused no lasting problems. I eventually was able to identify the snake, though it took me about 24 hours to accurately do so. I am happy to report it was not the dreaded and feared water moccasin it greatly resembled. It turns out I was nipped by a Blotched Water Snake, famous for it’s rapid biting and musky defense.

The moral of the story-
I promised my wife that I will never again pick up a snake. This will be hard to follow as the memory fades, but there for about a half hour I was in a state of real terror. The terror was greatly magnified when I googled Snake Bites.

On a side note. Don’t google snake bites. It’s really not the kind of information you want to see.

So... As north Texas seems to be over run by snakes recently, remember the lesson I learned. Don’t pick up snakes you don’t know while half naked next to your mother. Or maybe just don’t pick up snakes at all. Either way.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Top 5 Restaurants in the Metroplex

Well, this is going to be a quite controversial blog posting. I am going to give you the top 5 places to eat around the Metroplex. These are personal favorites, so they will only reflect places I have personally eaten and enjoyed. They are unquestionably the best places to eat. I defy you to name someplace better.

1. Tin Star (any location)
Tin Star is hands down my favorite place to eat in the universe. I get the Two Taco Plate and normally select the Steak and Avocado Taco and the Crispy Chicken Club Taco. I have also tried the Traditional Steak and Traditional Pork tacos, both of which were also excellent. I have aspirations to try other tacos as well, but I have yet to grow tired of my favorites. The two taco plate comes with Black Beans and Rice which are both good and healthy. The Chips / Salsa bar is a nice feature as well and the red salsa is my personal all-time favorite salsa. I wash the meal down with water and enjoy all this for $8.11. What a bargain. If you are looking to woo me, Tin Star is the way to go.

2. Napoli (in Rockwall)
I specify in Rockwall because I have not eaten at the other Napolis, which were offshoots from the original restaurant in Rockwall. Napoli was originally called Bella Italian Ristaraunte and opened back in the mid 90’s. They have since expanded and remodeled and renamed the place, but it still run by the same people and has the same incredible food. I usually get a calzone with no ricotta cheese and add in some additional toppings. Canadian bacon often makes an appearance. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is pleasant. They also have excellent pizza and my wife especially enjoys an item called the Zikri Special (with a possible Zikri misspelling). I don’t always eat Italian food, but when I do, I choose Napoli.

3. Don Pepes
This out of the way Mexican restaurant is located on Arapaho Road, just west of Coit in Richardson. This is the place to go for chicken enchiladas. They also have very good chicken fajitas and if you go at lunch time, the prices are delightfully low. I haven’t been in a while since I no longer live in Richardson and because Tin Star stole my heart, but every time I go I am very happy with the results.

4. Nemo’s
Nemo’s is a tiny hole in the wall sandwich shop in Irving, TX. It’s on the corner of Grauwyler and Irving Heights, just a bit west of Loop 12. They make the most amazing hot sandwiches in the world. They come in 8” or 16” increments and have some sort of dressing on them that helps the earth continue turning on its axis. I highly recommend you pick up a sub there at some point in your life.

5. Big State
This old fashioned soda shop is on the square in downtown Irving, located on the corner of Irving Blvd and some downtown cross street I don’t remember the name of. It’s a pharmacy with a soda shop in the back. I haven’t been there in a couple of years, so I’m hoping it’s still open. This is where you can get the best Milkshake in Texas. They make the milkshake by hand instead of just pulling a lever on a machine. They bring you the milkshake in a glass and bring the rest of the shake in the metal whatchamacallit it was mixed in, so when you drain the glass you can pour in the rest of your shake. Lot’s of shake for your money. The food is pretty good as well and is pretty much standard grill type fair. Good burgers and fries. Incidentally, french fries are excellent when dipped in a milkshake.

So there you have it. Enjoy your food responsibly and keep your napkin in your lap. It doesn’t pay to take chances.


Monday, May 17, 2010

The Little Things

So life only gets more hectic as time goes by. In these times of great hecticity (work with me) it is important to enjoy some of the nice moments as they come along.

Recently, I have enjoyed the following things:

1. My son sitting in front of me on the lawnmower in a big straw cowboy hat.
2. Red Bell Pepper in anything and everything it can possibly go in.
3. Tin Star Tacos, anytime I can justify paying to eat out.
4. Riding a bicycle.
5. Date Night with Allison.
6. My daughter’s report card.
7. Having Fajitas at Shannon’s house.

What have you enjoyed recently?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A round of Applause!

Let’s hear it for the city of Dallas! A round of applause if you will for this once fair city! Not only has the city managed to lose the most famous football team in the world to another city and managed to entirely kill the arts and music culture that was once so rich in its formerly renowned Deep Ellum area, Dallas has also managed to prove completely useless in its emergency response services. Let me expound.
I had a car accident on Sunday. Nothing too major. No personal injuries. No other vehicles involved. However, my car was undrivable, stuck on an overpass in the downtown Mixmaster with my wife and two children inside. Naturally, I dialed 911 before taking any other action in order to ensure the safety of my family. I was told that the police and a tow truck were on their way. Much relieved, I moved on to calling my auto insurance company and reporting things from there.
Long story short.... Two hours go by with the Dallas Police still as a no-show. Two Hours!!! I limped down the overpass on my broken wheel arm to the tiny shoulder. I ended up having to get my insurance company to arrange for the tow truck that never came from Dallas. My father in law came and picked up my family and took them home so they didn’t sit on the highway for more than half an hour. Two Hours! I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they probably would not have shown up had I stuck around for another 10 hours.
So, for all you criminals out there – Dallas is your target city! You have at least two hours to stage a get away, and possibly longer. I recommend calling 911 on yourself as you start the criminal activity, just so you can set your watch.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Triple Rant

I’m not generally much of a complainer. I tend to roll with things pretty easy and don’t let things bother me. Lately, I have encountered a couple of things that have been worthy of a rant.

Incident #1
The Ft. Worth Zoo / the Train Ride Fiasco
First of all, let me dispel the myth that the Ft. Worth Zoo is far superior to the Dallas Zoo. It isn’t. In fact in many ways it is a far inferior zoo. But that is not the subject of my rant. The issue I am ranting about has to do with a train ride within the zoo. The Dallas Zoo (the aforementioned superior zoo) has a train ride that carries you through and over different animal exhibits and treats you to an interesting view of the various habitats. It provides a nice chance to relax and enjoy the zoo comfortably. It allows the short legs of your children a chance to rest and since they are on a “ride” they are content for a while and quit asking for the $5 Ice Cream. The Ft. Worth Zoo also has a train ride. The Ft. Worth Zoo’s train ride costs $2 per person. I plunked down $8 for my wife, kids and I to enjoy a train ride. We waited in line for 35 minutes for the train ride. Anticipation was high by this point as small children are not experts at standing in lines. The train finally arrived! Then the ride then lasted for less than 3 minutes, going about an 1/8 of a mile and consisting of a straight shot behind some buildings, past the trash dumpsters. No animals. No exhibits. Nothing but the smell of diesel fuel and an empty wallet (I don’t personally carry a wallet, but the image is fitting). So ridiculous! You pay Eight Dollars to be carried past some dumpsters?! I paid 8 dollars to avoid walking less than a quarter of a mile?! I will NEVER be going to the Ft. Worth Zoo again! They have lost my patronage forever. When I combine the train ride with the fact that several of their exhibits were closed on a holiday weekend, I come to the conclusion that it isn’t worth driving an extra 40 minutes past the Dallas Zoo just to get ripped off.

Incident #2
The Ranger Game / False Advertising
I am a baseball fan. I absolutely LOVE going to a baseball game. This is one of my very favorite things to do. Last night I loaded up the family and headed out to the Ballpark in Arlington for Dollar Dog Night. It was a chilly night. In fact, it was far colder than what was predicted on weather.com (which I’m not complaining about since weather people regularly mis-predict the weather and for some reason we continue to believe they know anything about what they are talking about). The family and I were all huddled up together (having already eaten our dollar hot dogs) enjoying the many strikeouts from Rich Harden from our view high up in the windy cheap seats. My wife was very cold and asked me to get her something warm from the concession stand. I went out to the stand and got in line. The line was extremely long because it was dollar dog night and everyone has to buy as many dollar dogs as they can eat, since they are only a dollar. Out in line the wind was blowing extremely hard since there was nothing to block it and I was soon shivering violently. I would have left the line except for the fact that I looked up at the list of available options and saw what my heart desired. Hot Chocolate! Now I wasn’t a fan of the $3.00 listed next to the words Hot Chocolate, but considering the frigid conditions I decided to wait out the line. Of course the line wasn’t moving because in the Tom Hicks era, things aren’t done efficiently at the ballpark (hurry up and finish the sale to Greenberg already!) and the hot dogs weren’t being made quick enough to keep up with the demand. I stood in line in the hurricane for a full half an hour in order to get hot chocolate for myself and my wife. During the time in line, the Rangers hit two home runs (which was about the only excitement the offense provided all night), but of course I did not get to see the home runs because I was in the unmoving line. FINALLY, I got to the front of the line. I already had my six dollars in my hand so I could speed along back to my seat and heroically deliver some warming hot beverage to my nearly frozen spouse.
“Two Hot Chocolates, please,” I said with confidence.
“We don’t have Hot Chocolate,” was the declarative and slightly annoyed response.
I pointed up to the sign on the wall and said, “But it says that you have Hot Chocolate.”
“Just because it says it don’t mean we have it!” was the loud, sarcastic response.
I am not kidding. That was the actual customer service response that was given to me by an employee at the ballpark.
I informed her that if they didn’t have that item, then it should really be taken off the menu so that people don’t stand in line for it. She kind of shrugged her shoulders in a “who cares, I’m not the one standing in line” manner. I had $6 in my hand and couldn’t return after being gone for more than half an hour with nothing, so I panic ordered a cheeseburger (which costs exactly $6). I took it back (keeping in mind the whole way that my wife doesn’t eat beef on almost any occasion). Long story short (too late) – the Cheeseburger was terrible and reminded me of the frozen cafeteria cheeseburgers in elementary school. We ended up leaving early due to my children being too cold. The Rangers ended up losing (probably because they were so disappointed in my leaving early).
All in all, it was a very disappointing night at the ballpark. The only complaint though is the service given to me at the concession stand. I found it completely unacceptable. Of course I will still go to several more games this year, during which I will sweat profusely in the Texas summer heat and remember fondly the cool temperature from last nights game. If Ron Washington’s Cocaine usage can’t keep me away, rude Hot Chocolate lady won’t either, but it’s just very disappointing.

Incident #3
Not really an incident, just a thought.
When I ask someone an Either / Or questions, I don’t expect a Yes / No answer. Here’s a hint – If I ask you a question like, “Would you prefer I kick you in your head or punch you in your stomach?” it is not appropriate to answer with a “Yes” or a “No.”

Thanks for your time and your ears. I feel better having warned you to avoid the Ft. Worth Zoo, warned you about standing in line for Hot Chocolate, and educating you about the proper way to respond to a question.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First Quarter Review

Well we are a quarter of the way through this whole 2010 thing. How’s your year going so far? Sticking with those resolutions? Getting anything done?

I’m doing well with the majority of the things I resolved to do differently and/or better in 2010. On the lighter side I have indeed worn a tie to work every single day. On the heavier side I have managed to spend a little more time with my kids, though this is still the one that needs the most attention. I am mostly on track to bring my attempted writing of a novel up to 200 pages by year end. It’s sitting at about 50 right now and I’m optimistic. Since we got rid of the Satellite and never bought a converter box for our television it has been a lot easier to be productive this year. Life really is better when it is spent away from the television, though it will often require you to think. This can be frightening for all of us. I also have managed to stay on the eating healthy and exercising kick so far in 2010 and with notable results. Remind me to show you my biceps some time. Wow. My band is about a third of the way through recording a full length CD to release later this year. I’m also in the middle of putting in flower beds in front of my house, which is rather hard work, but will be worth it once they are in. I think it’s been a pretty good start to the decade.

So how about you? Is this going to be a year to remember? Keep in mind we only get to live this thing one time. It might be a good idea to look back on it fondly when you are older. It might also be a good idea to take care of yourself enough to have a chance to get older and have the opportunity to look back on something. So what have you accomplished so far in 2010?


Tuesday, March 30, 2010


So I’ve been thinking a lot about technology lately. It's rather hard not to what with the fact that even my parents have iPhones.  I generally approach technology with a significant level of trepidation, and I’ve collected some of my thoughts.

1. I don’t like the idea of technology completely replacing humans, primarily because I, myself am a human and would prefer not to be replaced. I read an interesting novel called “Player Piano” recently. It was Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel and it was published quite a long time ago. It’s rather dated, but the ideas are rather interesting. It proposes not so much the idea that technology takes over and tries to eat us (combining Terminator and the Flaming Lips), but rather the idea that humans lose any reason to live when their entire purpose and usefulness is replaced by machines. I like efficiencies being gained, but it seems that some fields really need a human being in place. More and more often the human is being replaced in today’s businesses. I guess humans really need to stop doing their jobs so pathetically most of the time.... That would certainly help.

2. I don’t like assembly lines / mass production. I enjoy the lower prices that result and likewise enjoy the convenience of getting what I want with ease. I know I can’t have it both ways, but it would be really nice to see some pride in craftsmanship somewhere... some time... I don’t think I’d get along with Mr. Ford.

3. Technology will eat us all. I watched War Games a few nights ago and it’s still a great movie. I don’t really foresee machines deciding to launch a nuclear war and I also don’t see artificial intelligence completely taking over and trying to eradicate humanity. I more see the all consuming desire for newer and greater technology resulting in a loss of perspective on what’s going on outside our windows. I think we (collectively) are losing touch with other humans a little at a time. Technology is great for helping to stay in touch with relations that live far away. Unfortunately, it’s also replacing the need to actually interact with the humans that live next door. It started with making a phone call instead of seeing the person face to face and it’s progressed to sending a text because a phone call just takes too long. The world has become a global community through technology and it has simultaneously become a collection of isolationists who don’t interact with their local community.

4. I don’t blame the problems of the world on TV. I really don’t. I don’t blame the internet either. I blame the humans involved in the process of creating television shows and putting things on the internet for all the world to see. I do believe there has been a gradual slippery slope that has helped create a world I am afraid to send my children out in. At six years old I rode my bike up and down the street and my mom wouldn’t see me till I got hungry enough to come home to eat. My six year-old doesn’t go past the mailbox unless I’m watching her. Why? It’s the world we live in, right? But why has the world changed so much in the last 20 years? What has changed so much? Technology has certainly come a long way in that time, but that can’t be the sole cause of problems. However, the gradual moral decline of our world is glorified and magnified every day through television, magazines, and the internet. There are consequences to this constant bombardment of trash. People become desensitized to things over time. Mass numbers becoming desensitized leads to a further pushing of the limits, which in turn leads to a more complete desensitization. Over time, we are changing humans and not for the better. We are helping to create a world we are afraid of. We are bombarded with such trash all the time that we stop even noticing it. Once it’s not a big deal, what’s to stop it from just happening all the time? I know the world wasn’t perfect before TV told us all it wasn’t perfect, but I think we have spread the disease further and more completely than ever before.

5. Yes. I get the irony. I’m posting this in a blog on the internet, using a computer to do so. I’m not opposed to technology anytime it is convenient and easy for me. I like indoor plumbing and electricity. I like emailing and playing video games (although I still play video games on the original Nintendo system from the early 80’s). I like cell phones when I want to reach someone and hate them when I’m trying to talk to you and you won’t quit looking at your facebook page while we talk.

So in conclusion...
Technology that I don’t like to use personally is bad and should be thrown into the Marianas Trench. Technology that I like to use personally is okay, but you should proceed with caution.

Turn off your TV and go say hello to your next door neighbor.

Or at least send them a text to say hello.

One step at a time my friends.

One step at a time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Top 5 Zombie Movies

I like Zombie Movies.

This is something I often find challenging to admit to people due to the fact that it certainly doesn’t speak highly of my intelligence level or sense of culture. But the truth of the matter is I tend to laugh my tail off watching the undead go to town attempting to eat the brains / flesh of the living. There is little I find more humorous in fact.

So if you have similar tastes or are wondering if perhaps you do, I am going to offer to you my personal top 5 zombie movies. Now you zombie aficionados out there will probably hate my list because it tends to ignore the more serious, traditional, and pioneering zombie movies that paved the way and had deeper societal implications in them. Be that as it may, here are my personal favorites in the genre.

1. Fido

Okay, so this one does perhaps have some deeper societal implications. This is a beautiful film the whole way through. My sense of the absurd loves seeing the zombie in the Leave it to Beaver type setting. Greatness.

2. My Boyfriend’s Back

One of the funniest movies ever made. You will truly laugh till your limbs fall off. This also has a surprisingly famous cast for an unknown early 90’s zombie movie. Phillip Seymore Hoffman turns in his best performance to date.

3. Zombieland

The language is a bit extreme, and the zombies aren’t actually undead, but this one had me laughing and cheering. Bill Murray as himself was a nice touch. I also enjoyed the mockery of Garland TX early in the film. Funny cause it’s true.

4. Shaun of the Dead

Again, the language is a bit extreme, but the semi-dance sequence where they hit the zombie with pool cues is delightful. I laughed so hard I nearly joined the undead when the big guy rewinds the disposable camera for another picture in the backyard. A must see for the zombie lover.

5. Dead Alive (aka – Braindead)

This early Peter Jackson movie is disgusting and ridiculous. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, but I loved watching every minute of it. It’s entirely over the top and obscene, but it has rockabilly zombies to make up for its other shortcomings. Watching this movie will leave you wondering how the same person could possibly have made this movie and then gone on to craft the epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

So there you have it. I did not include my favorite films from the Evil Dead Trilogy because I do not consider them to be Zombie movies, even though they do include the reanimation of the dead. They fall into some other category. Whatever category that is, they are right at the top of its list, but it’s not really the zombie genre since the undead in those films want to swallow your soul, instead of your brains.

Many Blessings.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A chant to chant, something of a rant

Fire Ron Washington!

All together now!

Fire Ron Washington!

Come on Nolan!

Fire Ron Washington!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Supermarket Quiz

Okay. I have a series of supermarket related questions for you to answer. Give me your honest answer on each one and I'll give you my honest opinion on your worthiness to remain a part of the human race.

1) In relationship to the '20 items or less' line, I...
a. never use the line unless I truly have 20 items or less.
b. sometimes use the line, even if I'm slightly over.
c. say forget you! I'm shopping for my super bowl party and I'm using whatever line I want!

2) In relationship to the item I put in my basket but later decide I don't need after all, I...
a. always return the item to the exact spot I got it from.
b. sometimes return it to the area, or at least the same region of the store.
c. who cares! I'm putting these ice cream sandwiches in with the chili!

3) In relationship to returning the shopping cart to the designated cart return, I...
a. always return it to the cart return, regardless of any circumstances.
b. sometimes return it if it's close by and not raining.
c. look for the closest nice looking car and just shove it in that general direction.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Where I've been.... Where I'm going....

Time can get away from you. Life goes right with it. I find that when things get really busy for a while, I’ll suddenly look at a calendar and realize the month has changed and I didn’t even realize it. I feel like I missed February altogether. The 50 hour work weeks ate a bunch of it... The commute ate most of the rest.... I’m sure there was some life in there somewhere.... when I wasn’t sleeping.

I had a physical recently. I was expecting to blow it away. You see, back around November I decided to make some changes. I cut out soda entirely (this was a reduction of a good 2 liters of Dr. Pepper daily) and went from eating fast food 7-8 times a week to maybe once every two weeks. I started exercising almost daily. I lost 12 pounds. I was joking with Allison that I was going to whip her on the blood test (she had a physical recently also). I was expecting to dominate.

I didn’t.

It turns out my cholesterol is all out of whack. High on the bad. Low on the good. And not just a little bit.

So it’s back to the drawing board. More exercising. More dietary changes. I’m eating almonds like they’re actually good. Which they aren’t. I’m actually going to bed at night to try to get at least 7 hours of sleep. I’m taking fish oil capsules.

What happened to me?

So anyhow, I’ve been rather busy of late but am making an effort to slow things back down and get all this back in check. There have been no recent blogs cause I haven’t stopped long enough to collect my thoughts. This is sort of an apology for the gap blog. We’ll see if I can do better on that.

No promises, of course.

5 ½ months till the next blood test. We’ll see if I can whip my blood into shape between now and then. I’m guessing this will not be the summer of the root beer float.

Such is life.


Friday, February 5, 2010

5 Albums to Make you a better human

For your listening enjoyment and human betterment, I am going to recommend 5 albums that you should listen to if you have not already done so. They are not my all time top 5, because I could never bring myself to declare those. However, these are all very good records. You should listen to good records. Everyone should.

In no particular order....

1. The Flaming Lips - Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Beautiful and Amusing, all at once. My favorite from them.

2. Centro-Matic - Redo the Stacks
The original great. A lo-fi Masterpiece.

3. The Violet Burning - Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
One of the greatest least known rock and roll albums. Every track is great.

4. Lewis - Progress and Regress
The bass neck bends on Anywhere but Here blow me away each time.

5. St. Vincent - Actor
I just got this one for my birthday and I love it.

Many Blessings.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Something you might not have known about cubicles

It’s time for another chapter in the world of “something you might not have known about....” Today’s subject is..... Cubicles!

What is a cubicle?
Cubicle is a common name for a small desk area generally enclosed on three sides by waist-ish high walls and no ceiling. Generally speaking, many of these cubicles are arranged in rows and share common walls, allowing many desks to be put in one work area without having to either have space between the desks or having to build actual walls, which can be costly. The cubicle walls help give the illusion that each desk is it’s own tiny little office as well as helping to provide a place to hang your calendar. Calendars are important in cubicles because without them it is entirely impossible to distinguish one day from the next. The origin of the name “cubicle” comes from the squarish shape the walls make and due to the feeling that one is stuck inside a cube with little to no oxygen available.

How to Recognize a Cubicle should you happen to find yourself in what you think might be a cubicle, but you are not sure:
1) Look to your left.
2) Look to your right.
3) Look in front of you.
4) Look behind you.
5) Look up.
6) Look down.
If in the process of following these directions you identified a wall you can see over, another wall you can see over, another wall you can see over, an opening with no wall at all, open space with a ceiling higher up, and a floor, then it is very possible you are sitting or standing in a cubicle. Don’t panic! There are millions of people in the same position and all are relatively safe most of the time.

Do cubicles affect the space time continuum in any way?
Actually, yes they do. It is scientifically provable (opinions will vary amongst scientist as all things scientifically provable will vary amongst scientists) that time actually slows down within the walls of a cubicle. It is not certain why this phenomenon occurs, but it does indeed occur. This phenomenon has two radical effects.
1) A day spent in a cubicle is drastically longer than a day spent elsewhere, which can lead to depression and a sense that one’s life is slipping away from them.
2) A person’s life slips away from them. A person will age must faster inside a cubicle than will someone outside a cubicle since the person inside will continue to age at the same rate of those outside the cubicle while actually spending more daytime hours alive inside the cubicle. This can be very confusing, but is scientifically verifiable (opinions will vary amongst scientist as all things scientifically verifiable will vary amongst scientists).

In conclusion:Cubicles are real and exist in many buildings in many cities in many countries on this fair planet. Should you encounter one, proceed with caution and make sure you are familiar with the dangers they present before you enter one. And always remember, it’s much easier to walk into a cubicle than it is to walk out.

Many blessings

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Guns in hand and Fingers Crossed

I suppose it would have made more sense to post this song at the beginning of this blog, but I really don’t want to make this blog a “poetry / lyric corner” so I haven’t done so yet. I have had some questions about the title of my blog and what in the world it refers to. The blog title comes from a song played by my band, ‘Leaving Denton.’ It says a lot about my views on the state of things in the modern world and how I feel about a lot of issues and what not. You might get it. It might say absolutely nothing to you. To each their own. So here you go...

guns in hand and fingers crossed

into the dark so fast so slow
headlong into that good night we go
we can’t get there soon enough
and we’re gonna take you with us
yeah we’re not going down alone
we’ll fight the good fight again
cause we’ve been told
fighting will prove what we believe in
technology will make us faster
and help us to define the masters
as we pray to our computers
and build our better futures

into the dawn of a new day
headlong into a new yesterday
we know we’re gonna crash or else
cause history repeats itself
but we won’t go down alone
we’ll fight the good fight again
cause we’ve been told
fighting will prove what we believe in
dressed our best for this disaster
the world is spinning ever faster
we pray to gods our fathers lost
with guns in hand and fingers crossed

to each their own
we’re all in this together
to reach the throne
we’ll have to kill each other
the seeds we’ve sown
here in the morning sun
will soon be grown
and we’ll see what they’ve become

into the new world same as the old world
headlong headstrong headed for destruction
we now know what it means
to be destroyed by our dreams
but we won’t go down alone
we’ll fight the good fight again
and convince ourselves
we did it for our children
front to back all in a line
we’ll toast the past now one last time
and pray a prayer for what we lost
with guns in hand and fingers crossed

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I grew up without any kind of Cable or Satellite TV. I only had the standard channels that could be picked up by an antenna. I know you probably find this shocking, but I assure you I was not abused in any other way. This lack of cable continued on through most of my life, with the only exception being a year in an apartment that included basic cable as part of the monthly rent. A few years ago, my wife and I built a house and realized that we could no longer pick up television stations with only rabbit ear antennas. This was before the digital conversion and was due to the fact that we now lived in a somewhat rural area. We decided at that point to do a combo deal. When we got our internet set up, we went ahead and had them lump in a Satellite TV plan as well. We then had Satellite Television for a little over a year before deciding recently to get rid of it.

Below, I am providing a detailed listing all of my personal accomplishments during the year+ that I had Satellite Television.

1. Watched a lot of Television

Many Blessings.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Something you might not have known about rhinos

I enjoy learning things I did not previously know, particularly if the knowledge will be completely useless to me in the future. From time to time I plan to post a blog on here in the vein of "something you might not have known about (insert the something here)," and will then proceed to tell you something you might not have know about that something I am telling you about. The something which you learn will most likely be completely useless information to you, but will hopefully be interesting to know.

Today’s useless something will be about Rhinos

Topic: The Rhino
Clarification: Rhino is short for Rhinoceros
How to recognize a Rhino in case you are unsure what one is: A Rhino is a fairly large animal, best recognized by its having a rather large horn on its nose. This often furry eared mammal is indigenous to Africa and the southern parts of Asia and looks kind of like the love child of a pit bull and an elephant. There are five species of Rhinos and they are not all the same. Some species of Rhino have two horns, some have one. Despite the number of horns, Rhinos are easily recognizable due to the fact that most animals don’t have horns on their noses. So, Horn on the nose generally = Rhino.
What you probably didn’t know about Rhinos: Rhinos are not born with horns (a fact which the female of the species is said to be eternally grateful for) and these horns are in fact composed of hair. They are made up of Keratin, which is what hair and fingernails are made of. The super matted up hair grows and forms the horn of the Rhino over time. Rhinos are an endangered species now because some cultures believe their horn to be an aphrodisiac. I can not confirm or deny this supposition, having never sampled Rhino Horn. The horn, when ground up, has been used for other medicines and what not as well.
What you probably didn’t know about Rhinos Part 2: Some Rhinos have a Prehensile Lip. That’s Right. Prehensile. If you are struggling to remember where you have heard that term before, it is generally applied to Monkey Tails. Some Rhinos have a prehensile upper lip and it basically operates kind of like a finger, to grab things and pull them into the mouth. This is especially useful to the Rhino, who has no hands with which to stuff itself with food.
Summary: Horn on nose = Rhino. Horn is made of hair. Prehensile Lip.

You are now prepared to discuss Rhinos, should they come up in the conversation (as they so often do). Or, you could take your fella/ladyfriend to the zoo and show them what a genius you are (the zoo is an excellent place for a date, incidentally). Whatever use you find for this info, I hope you find it useful.

Many Blessings

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I like Dragons and the people who write about them.

I enjoy reading. Reading has had a monumental influence on my life since I was five years old. I enjoy reading a lot of different kinds of books from many eras and from many genres. I enjoy classical literature by Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas. I enjoy early 20th Century authors like Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. I enjoy some deep thinking literature by the likes of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton. I enjoy some modern writers like Ken Follet and Kurt Vonnegut.

I also enjoy Fantasy Literature.

(insert pause for derisiveness)

For reasons unknown to me, Fantasy literature and Science Fiction literature are considered as some sort of sub-genre that is substandard to other literature. I have encountered this prejudice on numerous occasions. I'd like to say I'm above it, but when I get to the check out register at Half Price Books, I sometimes feel the need to pretend that the Fantasy novel I am purchasing is a present for someone else. I will at least make sure it's on the bottom of the stack, underneath the Wharton and Salinger. I am not sure why, but if a book involves anything happening outside the realm of normal experience, it is somehow considered to be a lesser work of lesser value. (This snub carries over into the film world as well, where Fantasy and Sci-Fi movies are regular passed over for the ''serious'' awards and seem to only be eligible for Best Makeup, or Best Effects.)

Today I'm taking a stand! No longer will I feel the need to justify myself for liking Dragons and Wizards in the same way I enjoy The Sun also Rises. I can like Tolstoy AND Tolkien.

There are some amazing writers in the Fantasy world and they shouldn't be disregarded. There are also a lot of Hacks who can't write. Every genre has the greats and those we don't know how they found a publisher. Here is a short guide to the Fantasy World. I encourage you to broaden your horizons and dive in.

1. J. K. Rowling - The Harry Potter Series
Some have chosen to disregard this series simply because of its popularity. It isn't cool to like something that is so universally loved. That's lame. Quit being lame. If you dislike something simply because other people like it, then you are as simple minded as those people who like something simply because other people like it. This series is amazingly written and is much darker and deeper than you might guess. I enjoyed every minute of every book and have read the series multiple times. Great Characters. Great writing. Great books.

2. Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
These two authors have teamed up on numerous occasions, but I am going to give you my two favorite series they wrote together. They write beautifully and create deep and moving characters.
The Death Gate Cycle - This is a seven book series which starts with the book "Dragon Wing." I started reading this series when I was in Junior High School and spent the next six years in agony, waiting for each subsequent book to come out. The truths of the book come across a little Taoistic in nature, but that didn't stop me from enjoying every page of each book.
The Dragonlance series - The Dragonlance world can be a confusing world to navigate because after it was created by Weis and Hickman, many other authors wrote books in their world and used many of their characters. Some of those writers could write very well. Some of them were ogres which somebody taught to type. The original book was titled "Dragons of Autumn Twilight" and if you start there you won't go wrong. I am going to be honest with you. I cried several times reading this series. I'm not much of a crier. Not that this series is sad. It's just that you can grow quite attached to the characters.

3. Orson Scott Card - The Homecoming Series
Mr. Card is most well known for his book "Enders Game" but I enjoyed this series much more. Book one is titled "The Memory of Earth." Deeper messages abound and the characters are quite compelling.

4. J. R. R. Tolkien - The Lord of the Rings
See Above. Don't disregard something just because it was made into a beautiful movie. This is a great story and worth your time. This series was originally intended to be one book, but since the publishers did not see it that way, you will need to start with "The Fellowship of the Ring." If you want to do it even better, you should first read "The Hobbit." This children's story is not part of the series, but does tell you what happened earlier and introduces you to the characters you will meet in the much more adult Trilogy to follow.

5. C. S. Lewis - The Space Trilogy
I am sure you were expecting the Chronicles of Narnia. I also love that series also, but I REALLY love Mr. Lewis' Space Trilogy. Book one is titled, "Out of the Silent Planet" and begins the story of Ransom and his adventures through space. The second book of the series will teach you a great deal about the concept of Original Sin and the choices we make. The third book is an apocalyptic novel and gives the reader the opportunity to consider the end of the world from a rather unique perspective.

So there are five opportunities (though actually more than 40 books) to enter the world of Fantasy Literature and not be immediately turned aside by the aforementioned ogres of the writing world. I think the broadening of horizons can be a good thing. See if yours can stretch a little.

Many Blessings.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Quit being a Troll and pay attention to the lyrics.

So I've always been a fan of lyrics. I never have been able to get into those bands that had a great sound if I didn't connect with what they had to say. I started writing lyrics long before I ever picked up an instrument and the writing has always been the most important thing to me in playing music. To me, music provides the emotional atmosphere for the lyrics, but it is mandatory for me that the words say something that I can connect with. I love that a song can mean something to me entirely independent of what it meant to the person who wrote it, and that it is going to be different for each person who hears it. With that in mind, here is another list for you.

Here are Ten albums with amazing lyrics that you should listen to unless you are a troll who just wants to nod along with the beat. Don't be a troll. Again, this is not a top ten list, but is rather a listing of ten albums that will hopefully plunge you into some uncharted waters and will be impactful in your musical world. Don't settle for songs that say nothing. Dig deeper.

1. Adam Again - Dig
Speaking of Digging Deeper, this is an older album and holds up well with each listen. The lyrics are powerful and aching. I especially appreciate the songs "Dig" and "River on Fire."

2. The Violet Burning - Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
There are moments on this album that can change who a person is. "Oceana" is particularly poignant, and "Gorgeous" is one of the strongest romance songs I am aware of. It was especially wonderful when, seeing them live, I finally understood that the 'two angels painted blue' were angels tattooed on the inside of each forearm of frontman Michael Pritzl.

3. Aaron Sprinkle - Moontraveler
This is one of the solo albums from the lead guitarist of 'Poor old Lu' and is simply wonderful to listen to and learn from. I also hate the motor cars with racing stripes that keep getting in my way.

4. Tanya Donelly - This Hungry Life
This live, alt-county CD from the former lead singer of 'Belly' has been in heavy rotation in my mix ever since I borrowed it from my friend Dave. "Invisible One" makes me realize how far I still have to go before I get there.

5. Damien Rice - 9
It is hard to say too much about this album. The opening track "9 Crimes" is beautiful and tragic. I can't get enough of the way the male and female vocals intertwine. Don't listen to this album (or really Damien Rice in general) if you are borderline suicidal. He doesn't strike me as a particularly happy human.

6. Pedro the Lion - It's hard to find a friend
Another older album that has stood the test of time. The story of Hosea has never been better than in "of minor prophets and their prostitute wives." An appreciation for sarcasm is a handy thing to have going into this one, particular for songs like "when they really get to know you they will run."

7. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky
This is the rare album that marries unbelievable music with equally wonderful lyrics. It's a tough call, but this is my favorite Wilco album thanks to songs like "Either way" and "Please be patient with me." If you could not care any less about lyrics, then you can enjoy this album as my favorite guitar album of all time instead.

8. Daniel Amos - Mr. Buechner's Dream
A double CD with twice the opportunity for lyrical brilliance. Terry Scott Taylor has long been one of my favorite songwriters whether it's his work for the Lost Dogs, Swirling Eddies, Daniel Amos, or his solo work. "The Author of the Story" and "Flash in your Eyes" are two favorites.

9. They Might be Giants - Flood
Fine. Go ahead and mock me. I still think this is a lyrically brilliant album and haven't gotten enough of it in the 20 years since it was released. "Dead", "We want a Rock", and "Whistling in the Dark" still speak to me on some deeper level that I have never been able to successfully explain to anyone else. In 1990, I made a little birdhouse in my soul and have never turned off the nightlight.

10. Centro-Matic - Navigational
"Not Forever Now" will always ring through me, as well as favorites like "Ordinary Days" and "Numbers one and Three." Will Johnson has been a favorite songwriter of mine ever since he stepped out from behind the drum set of the Funland Band. This album is one of his finest, though least appreciated.

Please enjoy good music responsibly.

Many Blessings

Thursday, January 7, 2010

10 books for a better 2010

I’ve never posted a blog before and frankly it feels kind of strange and possibly a bit pretentious. But then I suppose I am rather pretentious. I’m making the assumption that what I say in the following list is of value and that you would be better for having read it. What could be more pretentious than that?

What I am offering to you, my fine reader, is a list of ten books which you really should read at some point in your life. Why not in 2010? Perhaps you have already read some or all of them in the past. Read them again. Some of them are better the second time through. These are not necessarily my ten favorite books of all time or anything of that nature. They are just ten books that I think would be good for you to read and would help maximize your enjoyment of the year ahead, while broadening your literary horizons. So visit your local used book store and get started. You can read them in no particular order.

1. The Winter of our Discontent – By John Steinbeck

This is an outstanding book from my favorite author. It is a must read for every human. Are you human? Then read this book.

2. The Areas of my Expertise – By John Hodgeman
I laughed a great deal. You will laugh too unless you have no sense of humor. Do you want to be thought of as a person with no sense of humor? Then read this book and find it funny. I especially enjoyed discovering the truth about squirrels. It’s shocking.

3. Bridges with Spirit – By Adam Voith
This is a little known book that is truly an amazing read. You can usually find used copies online. I bought my own copy at a Pedro the Lion concert. The author had a table set up in the back of the venue.

4. Cat’s Cradle – By Kurt Vonnegut
I discovered Vonnegut for the first time in 2009 and promptly read a more than a dozen of his books. Cat’s Cradle is very unique and, while it doesn’t have quite the impact of Slaughter-House five, it is an extremely enjoyable book.

5. East of Eden – by John Steinbeck
This one is asking a lot out of you because it is a book of Epic proportions and is a commitment to read. If you survive and make it to the end, you are rewarded by such profundity as is rarely realized. It can be a life altering experience and quite liberating.

6. Ecclesiastes – by Solomon
Dust off your Bible and turn to a little known book towards the center. You can read this one in about an hour. It’s rather depressing until the end. Then you are enlightened, though still slightly depressed. I recommend reading it from the New International Version of the Bible. It has a nice flow in that translation.

7. Till We Have Faces – by C. S. Lewis
This retelling of the myth of Cupid is fascinating to read and quite unlike anything else written by Mr. Lewis.

8. For Whom the Bell Tolls – by Ernest Hemingway
Everyone should read some Hemingway at some point in their life. If you are alive and have not read any Hemingway, then you should keep in mind that you might die soon and miss this opportunity. This is my favorite Hemingway novel. Maybe it will be yours as well.

9. Nine Stories – by J. D. Salinger
Okay, so technically this one isn’t a novel. This is a collection of nine short stories by Mr. Salinger and is unbelievably depressing to read. The last story in the book, “Teddy” is one of the greatest short stories ever written. You should read one of the greatest short stories ever written. Everyone should.

10. Pillars of the Earth – by Ken Follett
This is not the normal Follett in that its setting is medieval. I got angry a lot while reading this book. I’m not a fan of injustice. No one should be a fan of injustice. So unless you are a criminal, you should read and enjoy this book.

So there you have it. Ten books for a better 2010. Reading is good for you.

Many Blessings.