Friday, December 26, 2008

There and back again...

I'm at a gate in the Orlando airport. I'm over an hour early which is customary for savy travellers. Not really looking forward to this trip. On top of the typical awkwardness that comes with being around my family, there will also be my grandmother's funeral.

The airport, like most others, is a haven for scum and villany. There is a mother changing her baby's diaper five feet from me. Another future passenger-mate has a small dog which is never a good thing on a plane. This is going to be bad.

I also get motion sickness pretty easily. Leslie typically forces a couple Dramamine down my throat at this point but since she's not here I'm not going to subject myself to that. Haven't quite pinpointed what makes me sick. I haven't eaten anything yet today and I don't plan to until I arrive in Connecticut. Hopefully that will be enough.

I'm posting this from my iPhone with a new app I'm trying out, so my appologies for the myriad of spelling and grammar errors.

There is a queasy feeling in my stomach and I don't know what it is. Maybe it's hunger. Or guilt. Or anxiety about the flight. Maybe my body so used to this routine that my motion sickness has begun before I've even left the ground. I guess I'll find out in a couple hours.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Worst. Day. Ever.

There are bad days, and then there are really bad days, and then there are days that you don't know how you'll make it to the end of. That is the kind of day I had yesterday.

My grandmother suffered a stroke a year and a half ago. Since then she's been paralyzed on half of her body and unable to leave her bed. My mother put her in a home so she could have constant care. Recently she took a turn for the worse and the doctors said it was only a matter of time before she passed. So I decided I wanted to get up there this weekend and see her so I could say goodbye.

This really couldn't happen have happened
at a worse time. Christmas is less than a week a away and we're low on fund because of shopping for gifts, and the dog had to have surgery last week which cost over $400. Obviously seeing a loved one in their final days takes priority over all else and that's how I knew I had to go. So Leslie went on-line and found the best tickets she could from Atlanta to Hartford. Unfortunately, each way there would be a layover.

Then word started to come in about the impending snow storm in Connecticut. My mother called me on Thursday and said she was worried about me coming up. The way I looked at it, I would spend all of Friday trying to get up there. I didn't care what I had to do, I was going to Co
nnecticut to see my grandmother.

Friday comes and I'm on the plane to Charlotte for my first layover. So far so good. I talked to my sister after I landed and she said the snowing hadn't started yet, and so far my flight was unchanged. No problem. Then the announcement came that the flight was canceled. So I got in line at the terminal to see what was the next possible flight I could get on. They got me a ticket on the 7:45pm. It was not even 11am. This was going to be a long day. After talking to Leslie, she insisted that the FAA website said the Hartford airport was still taking flights and I should push to get on another airline. So I got in line for special services to see what could be done.

I've been in my share of long lines in my time, and we lived in the land of theme parks for a while, so I've been training for long lines for a while now, but the US Airway Special Services line is the mother of all lines. It would be two and a half hours before I reached the end of it. And not before receiving tragic news.

While in line I talked to my sister and Leslie and a couple co-workers just to keep busy. Everyone knew I was stuck at the airport, so I wasn't surprised when a call came through from my mother. Unfortunately, the she had news that I hadn't expected. My grandmother had died earlier that morning. I felt my heart sink in my chest. "Hold it together," I thought. I didn't wa
nt to start crying and become a giant mess in the midst of a bunch of strangers.

Suddenly my entire day had been altered. Was I still going to come, she wanted to know? Could I possibly go back to Atlanta? "There is going to be a service next weekend so maybe it would be best you just came up then," she suggested. I couldn't focus on anything. The wind was knocked out of me and the least of my concerns was airplane flights. I had missed my chance to say goodbye to my grandmother.

Leslie later insisted I did all I could, but did I? She's been in the hospital for a year and a half and I selfishly avoided going to see her. When my grandfather died a two years ago, the last time I saw my gran
dmother, she didn't even recognize me and that really broke my heart. I didn't want to replay that. I guess I figured I'd see her at some point. I guess I figured I'd have more time. Maybe I should have dropped what I was doing and gone up there two weeks ago when my mother told me she stopped eating? I know there is no point kicking myself about it now, but this is very similar to what happened with my grandfather. I never got to say goodbye, and I've been haunted with guilt ever since.

Standing there in the special services line it was necessary for me to switch gears from emotional to practical. After a handful of phone
calls the decision was reached that I would return to Atlanta and fly up to CT the following weekend for the service. Unknown to me at the time, many flights into Atlanta were being canceled and delayed from being held up in the northeast. The next flight into Atlanta was 8:40pm and I got on standby for the 5:20pm and that was really the best that could be done and I'd just have to deal with it.

So I spent the day in the airport. I managed to keep it together and focus more on my hatred for airports and less on the loss my gr
andmother. I managed to get onto the standby flight which didn't end up departing until around 7pm.

Leslie met me at the airport in Atlanta, but before getting into a shouting match with an airport worker which ended with her shouting "MERRY-FUCKING-CHRISTMAS!" I flew to North Carolina to spend a day in their airport and fly back. 13 hours and who knows how much money wasted. All for nothing.

In the end, despite having what will go down as one of my worst days, life still manages to throw something at me that's worth smiling about:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

In-Law Invasion: Thanksgiving Edition

We have been preparing for Leslie's family for months now. This wasn't one of those situations where the event snuck up on us, oh no. We have been carefully planning each day with cleaning and shopping. For Thanksgiving we would be joined by Leslie's mother, Leslie's step-father (who I call her father because he's closer then a step), Leslie's grandmother (who's street name is Grannie) and their incontinent bichon Dodger. When the expected day of arrival was upon us we were ready.

Or so we thought.

The original plan was that the fam would arrive sometime the day before Thanksgiving. However we received a call from Leslie's mother that threw us for a loop. Rather then leave Wednesday morning, my father in-law decided they would leave at midnight, late on Tuesday night, to arrive early Wednesday. Fine, we lose a few hours of preparation on Wednesday, but we'd get more time with them. All that we requested was that they call when they hit Atlanta, however early that might be.

I wake up at 5:30 every morning for work (I know, my life's a hell). So I was showered and in the process of doing my hair when I hear the storm door open. "No. They wouldn't," I thought to myself. Then I hear a knock at the door. I run out of the bathroom, hands gooey with gel, the dog barking like crazy, the cats fleeing for cover, and open the front door. There on my front porch are my four in-laws (yes, I'm counting the dog as an in-law) waving at me. At 6:30 in the morning.

That was yesterday. Today is obviously Thankgiving. Leslie and her mother are in the kitchen swearing at the turkey and I'm in the living room with the rest of the family watching the Macy's parade over the lap top as I write this.

I think the animals are a bit upset with all of the stuff going on. So far Dodger has pissed on a kitchen rug, Friday vomited on her bed at 6 AM, and Zam has puked in the hall way and on the living room carpet. And I know the feeling. It's weird constantly having to remind yourself there are new people in the house. I still have trouble remembering to close the bathroom door.

Leslie says the turkey will be ready around 4, I'll be surprised if we eat before 6.

And I don't mean to make it sound like I'm upset my in-laws are here. I'm actually really excited for have them here. For me it really is something for me to be thankful for. It's not easy to be away from your family for such a big holiday.

Oh yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 14, 2008

United States of Whatever

I've been working on an Obama victory blog off and on for the past week or so, but at this point it's a bit stale and pointless. And the last thing we need is more 'Rah rah' blogs patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, especially when the election wasn't a total victory. Sure we got our boy in the White House, but there are still a handful of states that don't think gay people should have the right to marry or adopt. And here in the state of Georgia we're having a runoff vote for Senator. So yeah, while I feel like I can join the rest of the country in a collective sigh of relief, we've still got a ways to go.

And will Sarah Palin go back to shooting innocent animals in Alaska and just shut the fuck up? Who the hell cares what she has to say about anything? If I was a member of the GOP I would seriously put a hit on her. She starts every statement or interview about how she won't respond to the negative attacks and then she'll proceed to respond to them in great detail. She's old news. She really thinks she's setting herself up as the new face of the Republican Party. You get this feeling like they can't stand her either, but since she's got the attention of all the 'Joe Six-packs' in the nation everyone is afraid to come right out and call her an idiot. The GOP needs to put a cork in her and spend the next four years regrouping.

Hopefully some good will actually come out of the GOP summit in Miami this week. Don't misunderstand me, I have no problem watching the Republican party crash and burn. I'm not suggesting that I would ever vote for Republican, but it should be in the interest of every American to have both parties operating to their full potential and in the best interest of the nation.

Not that I know anything about anything. I'm a comic nerd who watches CNN for 10 minutes a day at breakfast. And even though I said I wouldn't go on about it, I still wanted to share this:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Hold Steady in Atlanta

Last night we were running late for the Hold Steady show. To make matters worse there was a Georgia Tech game which held us up in traffic. We pull up to the club and what do you know, there's no opener. I could hear Craig wailing as we parked the car. The show was at the Tabernacle here in Atlanta. It used to be a House of Blues, to give you a bit of perspective on the size. The only two bands at the show were, of course, The Hold Steady, and the Drive-By Truckers, in what is being called the Rock and Roll Means Well Tour.

We got in the doors a little bit later then we had hoped for and we missed a few songs, but what we saw was amazing. I asked some random guy how much we missed and he said they had been on for maybe 20 minutes. The crowd was into it, and unlike when we saw The Hold Steady in Athens a few months back, this audience was devoid of all frat boys and jocks (who no doubt decided to get drunk at the Georgia Tech game instead). And while there was a good number of people there, the crowd wasn't packed too tightly, so Leslie and I managed to sneak our way into the center for a pretty awesome view.

They played a few favorites, such as Chips Ahoy! and Stuck Between Stations, as well as a handful of the songs from the new album. They still didn't play a couple songs I've been dying to hear them play live like Cattle and the Creeping Things. I'm trying to find a set list on-line to see what songs we missed, but I'm guessing we missed Constructive Summer which is a shame. It felt like the set was a bit short, no doubt because we missed a chunk at the beginning. It sucks that they were the opening act for this portion of the tour, but I guess Drive-By Truckers is the bigger of the two bands in the South. One of the members of Drive-By came out to sing a song with The Hold Steady, and it was hilarious because he barely knew any of the words. Because of the abbreviated set Craig Finn didn't do his hackneyed closing statement about how much the band loves playing on stage and how important the fans are, so that was refreshing.

Overall it was a great night. We got to see what was arguably a more enjoyable performance then the Athens show, even if it was significantly shorter. I picked up an new Hold Steady shirt, we left before Drive-By even came on, and home in time for a couple rounds of Guitar Hero World Tour and before bed.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I can understand why people like Sarah Palin

After having a sinister mastermind like Dick Cheney in the White House, I can understand why it might be comforting to some to have a vice president that's a complete idiot.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some art stuff I like

From time to time I would like to share an artist that I like. Today I will share Sandow Birk. Brik does parodies of classic works. I discovered Birk from his work on Dante's Inferno. Birk took the classic images created by the great Gustav Dore and put a updated spin on them. as seen below:

In the original piece we
have Dante and Virgil descending into the depths of Hell. In Birk's piece, the two authors gaze down at Los Angeles. Simply brilliant.

Be sure to check out Sandow Birk's site for more beautiful art.

And just because he's the man, here are a couple pieces from James Jean.

The Great Schlep

No, I'm not Jewish, but I still think this is brilliant.

The Great Schlep from The Great Schlep on Vimeo.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Hiatus Continues

Day 18 of the Great October Music Ban. The iTunes playlist is slowly getting whittled down, but I definitely won't have it finished by the end of the month. I still have 2213 songs to go. There hasn't been too many of the moments where I kick myself for not having listened to something sooner. I was really hoping to have my socks blown off on an hourly basis here. There's only been some mild cheating. I picked up a couple free digital download cards from Starbucks and I downloaded the songs, but the only reason I did was to try my hand at iTunes on my iPhone. I didn't listen to either song all the way through. I also downloaded a four track Mountain Goats EP because I was nervous it would only be available for a limited time. Oh, and some guy posted the two new Decemberists singles on his blog, and it's only a matter of time until he's forced to take them down. However I have not listened to any of the stuff yet, and won't until November.

I'm finally hitting that point where I don't search out meaningless purchases. Typically I would troll Pitchfork or go straight to the music review sections of Entertainment Weekly or Paste.
Or maybe it's just that I've been considering my purchases more carefully. Or maybe it's just that when I do find myself peeking there hasn't been anything that interesting. I do have a list of music to investigate come November 1st though. Mostly compiled from listening to the NPR podcast All Songs Considered.

It's been good though. It's a project. It's something to do. It's a bit daunting, and the fact that I won't complete it is a bummer. I haven't had any opportunities to go back and re-examine things like I hoped because I'm too busy listening to the new stuff still. And there are times that I feel like I'm just listening to some of the stuff so I can check one more song off of the playlist and I'm not really giving it a chance at all. Well, at least I'm trying. Sort of.

There are too many new albums coming out I want in the next couple of months, it's unlikely I will extend the project. Probably after Christmas.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Great Pumpkin

Ah, Fall. A magical time of year. I can finally wear pants outside without my gentlemen parts becoming a sweaty mess, spider season is coming to an end so I no longer have to wave my hands in front of me like an idiot everwhere I go, and the impending doom known as Christmas is right around the corner. In the spirit of this colorful season, this past weekend Leslie and I drove up to Dawsonville, Georgia to visit a pumpkin patch. It's simple pleasures like pumpkin patches that I often take for granted as an ex-New Englander, forgetting that Leslie has never experienced such things growing up in Orlando.

The pumpkin patch was at Burt's Farm, about an hour and a half or so from Atlanta. We spent a good hour walking around the patch, marveling at all the different kinds of pumpkins that we never knew existed. $70 and heavy wheelbarrow later we wrapped it up. Overall it was a really great trip.

What I didn't expect was that Leslie and I would be what I have dubbed as, 'geographically profiled.'

When we first got to Dawsonville, we were concerned the patch might not take cards so we decided to stop at a gas station for some cash. I went into the station and asked where the ATM was only to find it was down. So we went across the street to another station. As I was walking in the employee was putting an 'Out of Order' sign on their ATM. Frustrated, I asked the cashier if I were to buy something could I get cash back. She looked at me frustrated and replied, "No sir, we're outdated," in a not-so-pleasant Southern twang.

Later in the afternoon when we were leaving the patch we stopped at a bait and tackle shop for some lunch. We looked around the shop, which was about the size of our bathroom, and ordered a couple hot dogs. When the cashier rung us up Leslie was surprised how inexpensive it was and remarked, "$4.50? That's it?" to which the cashier replied, "Yup. This ain't Atlanta! Yuk! Yuk!"

I really got the impression that these folks were thinking, "You f_cking city folk, only coming around for your f_cking pumpkins." I guess wearing my shorts and a t-shirt and driving a Honda kind of gave us away as anything but local. It was humorous that we got pegged right away in town. I'm sure this the time of year for having lots of loud and bousterous strangers in town, but it's not like Leslie and I are from New York City and we went to the deep South. These people live an hour away from the major metropolitan area we call our home!

It's cool though. I'm more then happy to have them stare down their nose at me while I take advantage of their agricultural superiority. They get my money, I get their pumpkins. Seems like a fair trade.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A List of Words I Never Want to Hear Ever Again


Pork Barrel

Tax Cuts
Wall Street
Offshore Drilling
My Friends
Alternative Energy
Pallin' Around with Terrorists
Moose Dresser
Liberal Media
Bridge to Nowhere
Updated on 10/14 with recommendations from my pal John

I probably should have probably named this 'Words and Phrases'. Oh well.

Expect updates...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Playcount is 0

There are so many awesome features that Apple offers via iTunes and your iPod. One of my favorites are Smart Playlists. You can go into iTunes, set a couple parameters, and iTunes will create a playlist based on your specifications. For instance, say you want a playlist of just albums that came out in 2008, just plug it in there and booyah! It will also automatically update whenever the items in your library change, such as music added or dates they were added, etc. And there are tons of parameters to choose from.

Being that I'm on a mission to listen to all of my unheard music, I made a Smart Playlist to include anything in my iTunes library that I haven't listened to yet. It went to work and put together a play list of 2613 songs. At an average of 10 songs an album, that's over 260 albums worth of songs that I haven't even listened to! Do you see how this has become a problem?!

Most of the unheard music is stuff that was given to me from other folks. It's not like I buy CD and load it into iTunes and forget about it. When someone hands you a dozen albums all at once it's not uncommon for a couple to slip through the cracks. However 260 albums slipping through the cracks is a bit much. There are a few albums i just haven't listened to in their entirety. Some of the albums I've listened to tons of times on CD but since getting added to my iPod have gone unheard.

Day two without searching for new music.

Monday, September 29, 2008

1 Step Program

Hi. My name is J.P. and I'm addicted to music.

Okay so it's not an addiction really, perhaps more of a compulsion. I buy large quantities of music. I suppose I should say I "procure" large quantities of music. That isn't to say that I pirate music, I haven't done that for years. I buy a bunch and then I also get a lot from my friends. The sad truth is, I get more music then I could possibly listen to. I have an insatiable hunger for new music. I'm like Galactus, except for music!

I don't know what it is. Sometimes I wonder if I feel like so much music came out before I was really getting into music that I don't want anything to slip past me now. However there's so much music coming out at any given time it's impossible to find all of the good stuff. It's like trying to catch a waterfall in a tea cup. I listen to whatever I can get my ears on, but sometimes I give something just a quick once over and if it doesn't grab me then I immediately move on to something else. Often times I will end up going back to something I whizzed past and falling in love with it, which I probably would have had I given it the attention it deserved in the first place.

Is it perhaps my need to identify with a culture of net nerds and hipsters so I feel like I am resisting the alluring pull of mainstream music? I pride myself with listening to a fair share of independent bands. Don't get me wrong, I'll be doing cartwheels around the backyard when the new Fall Out Boy album comes out in November, but I like mostly indie stuff. A couple obscure things here, but nothing that you probably wouldn't read about on Pitchfork or sometimes even in Entertainment Weekly. But any time something is recommended to me or gets a decent review from some pretentious reviewer I pretty much have to own it.

I seriously have enough music to occupy any normal person for a very long time. According to my iTunes library, I have over 32 days worth of music. Sure, that's not all on my iPod, but I still have it available to me.

So I'm going to try an experiment. I am not going to get any new music for the month of October. That means I'm not going to download, buy, or borrow any new music for one entire month. I sometimes feel like I have to get stuff right away or else I'll miss out but the truth is that in most cases it will be readily available whenever I want it. This isn't just a money thing though; this also applies to any free albums on-line I might stumble upon. I have so much stuff I either haven't listened to yet, or haven't properly chewed and digested it yet.

I know this task hardly presents a challenge for most people, but for me this is going to be tough. It's concert season, so there are bound to be a few new albums coming out. I also receive my bonus this week, and because of the way the weeks fall we're going to get paid thrice this month. The odds are against me here!

There are a couple conditions of course. If there is anything coming out in a limited quantity and I will miss out, then I will be forced to act. For instance, I know already that the new Los Campesinos! album is coming out next month and it has a limited print run, so I will have to purchase that when it becomes available. However, even if the need arises to make a purchase like this, I will not listen to it until the end of the month.

This experiment also doesn't apply to podcasts.

Today is September 29th. I have until midnight tomorrow night to get my fill of new music for an entire month. All music mailed, handed or e-mailed to me must be post marked September 30th or else they will go unheard until November 1st.

Wish me luck my friends!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birthday Prank

It was my buyer's birthday last week so a prank was in order. Check it out:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Hail to the king baby.

Every now and then something happens in the world and you are convinced that this single event has occurred to make your life better. I don't mean you in general, I mean you as in you.

For me, this is one of those times:

Friday, September 12, 2008

New T-Shirt Design

For those that care, I've submitted another t-shirt design to This time I'm going to go through their critiquing process rather than jump head first into my design and be crushed when it doesn't get accepted. Please stop by and offer up some input if you get a second. You can see my design here.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

And in this corner: Governor Sarah Palin!

Like many of you, I was at work when John McCain announced his VP choice on Friday, so I didn't get to see the news conference. I decided to search for the speech online. Here it is for those of you that might have missed it.

My fellow Americans. I come to you today with news the world has been waiting for; I have chosen my running mate for the 2008 Presidential Election. And guess, what: it's a woman!
Come on out here Governor Sarah Palin! Yes my friends, the Democrats aren't the only party with a feisty dame in politics. Nevermind that she has no foreign policy experience. Just look at her? She's hot! She's so much hotter than Hilary!

My democrat friends, I know many of you are feeling alienated by your party. After all of your hard work and dedication to Senator Clinton, you feel like you've been left out in the cold in favor of this brass rock star. Well have I got a treat for all of you. If you thought you liked Hilary, you'll love Governor Palin. She's got breasts and a vagina just like Hilary! Nevermind the fact that she probably would disagree with Hilary on every issue that's important to you and even called her a whiner.

Yes Governor Palin thinks creationism should be taught in school, yes she doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change, and yes I had only met her once before picking her for my VP, but come on, check out that rack, eh? She even makes Cindy jealous! And please, do not worry that Governor Palin is unsure of what a the duties of a Vice President are, come November she'll know exactly what is expected of her.

For critics that would say this is a cheap attempt to pandering to Democratic voters, I would like to remind you that when I was a POW we didn't have luxuries like women. I spent many nights in the arms of my fellow POWs waiting for a day to lead this fine nation, and with Governor Palin at my side this might finally be my chance.

My fellow Americans, on November 4th make the right choice when you enter that voting booth. No, you won't be able to vote for Hilary, but this is almost just as good!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

5's a Crowd

Sigh. It's happened again. We've fallen in love with a cat.

There is a Pet Smart not far from our house. We seem to end up there once a week so Leslie can buy something for her fish. Typically she'll poke around in the store and I'll walk to the Toys R Us next door. After a few minutes in the toys aisles, and being disgusted with their crappy Star Wars display, I'll retrieve Leslie from Pet Smart before she attempts to purchase a 10 gallon tank.

After a few minutes in Pet Smart together we typically make out way to the pet adoption section. There they have a pretty little cat named Sylvia. It's a simple black and white cat, but when you pet her she quickly falls in love with you, as I'm sure she does with everyone that goes in there. However, this 3 year old cat is having trouble getting adopted in a sea of adorable kittens. She's been there for going on two months now. And we feel awful about that.

Truthfully, we probably would have swept up the cat a month ago, but on her little information card it says she has dominant issues with other female cats. Being the our female cat Zam doesn't try to assert dominance over anything, we wonder if it's possible to incorporate the cat into our home. Then of course the realization that we'd then become a four cat, one dog, and two fish family, and that's a lot. I know the fish don't usually count as pets in most homes, but in our house they require the most upkeep. Christ, the idea of cleaning a four cat litter box alone makes me squirm.

I don't know what we're going to do here. Leslie's going to contact the agency and see if they'll let us give the cat a trail run. More news to follow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gum ball of DOOM!

Leslie and I went to the mall tonight. She wanted to pick up some jeans. As we near her store I figured I would delay the inevitable boredom and check out the gum ball stand. The colorful orbs called to me from their glass prisons, begging to be released and chewed on until their flavor was gone. I fished a quarter from my pocket and circled the stand, deciding which flavor was best, knowing full well whatever I would probably not taste like what the makers intended. I settled on the banana strawberry gum ball.

As you might imagine, it tasted like crap. I may as well have wadded up a piece of paper and dipped it in surgery water. But whatever, it was serving it's purpose. Until I noticed I was having trouble chewing it. I suddenly noticed it was sticking to one of my top molars. "That's odd," I thought as I worked the wad away with my tongue. It was then I realized the gum had adhered to one of my fillings. I just got my fillings a couple years ago so they're the fancy white ones and not the dark silver jobs I had growing up. As I forced the gum to the other side of my mouth, I suddenly remembered the filling in the same place on the opposite side. Of course it was already too late. I sat in the husband chair in the fitting room picking the neon colored gum from my teeth, cursing the manufactures and pledging my revenge. The whole way home I tried to free the little sticky piece with my tongue but to no avail. When we got home I went to work with my fancy electric toothbrush, and that got most of it, but I can still feel some of it back there, and I see some flossing in my future.

How ridiculous this whole situation was. I got depressed at the realization that I'm only 28 and I already need to worry about foods sticking to my dental work. Isn't that the kind of think seniors are concerned with? you can't really see it in the photo, but it's there, and what little is there is enough to cause a huge annoyance. And why does the roof of my mouth look like an alien?

Sigh. I need a cupcake.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Clone Bores

Ask anyone that knows me what I like and chances are Star Wars will be one of the first things they say. I grew up watching the original three films, or the Holy Trilogy as they're referred to in our house. At a very young age George Lucas had a tight grip on my heart, and my parents' wallets. When it was announced that the new animated Clone Wars was going to grace the big screen, I was all a tingle in my gentlemen parts.

The more I saw the trailers and read the reviews, the more worried I became about this film. It certainly didn't have the media blitz attached to it you'd expect from a Star Wars film; I suppose Warner Brothers also wasn't expecting much from the film.

Entertainment Weekly
gave the film an F and said George Lucas is becoming, "the enemy of fun." I tried to hide the issue of the magazine from Leslie but unfortunately she found it. The New York Times said, "
this new “Star Wars” saga (II.5?) completes the franchise’s divorce from photography-based cinema, as well as from any relationship to credible human feeling."

Doubt began to set in amongst the household. Even Prickers was seen sulking in the
corner, a Clone Trooper tucked tightly
in his paws. Everyone was turning against me, but like a Jedi facing the Sith, I would not be deterred. I had to see this movie. So I forced Leslie into the car and locked the door, and we went to the theater.Sadly, the world was right. The movie was pretty damn bad. I have defended the Star Wars films since the prequels started coming out, and I still stand behind my claim that Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is an amazing film. But this? This is just garbage. This film should have never happened. Not only is this film an insult to Star Wars nerds everywhere, it's an affront to anyone with a working set of eyes and ears.

The plot centers around a boring adventure of Mannequin Skywalker and padawan, Miley Cyrus. Jabba the Hutt's son is kidnapped and these two plucky Jedi are charged with his rescue. Along the way they encounter Sith, bumbling robots, and a baby Hutt that likes to burp. Sorry kids, no grown men getting kicked in the balls. There is also no explanation as to how this film fits into the existing Star Wars continuity. I mean, Episode III takes place after this, and Anakin's new padawan Ahsoka is no where to be found in that film. I'm pretty sure there is more Clone Wars to take place after this, but who really cares.

I really feel like the film makers decided to put out this contrived nugget of disappointment realizing that it would be a blockbuster regardless of how awful it was, and sadly they'll be right. The theater wasn't that full, but those that were there had little kids with them, who were definitely the target audience of this film.

If nothing else the film looked pretty. They could have taken the boring route and just made them look real, but instead they gave the characters a unique style. Sadly, the studio hardly holds a candle to seasoned computer generated filmmakers such as Pixar.

So yeah, this was a big bummer for me. I hope we can expect better things from the live action Star Wars series that's planned to come out in the future. Avoid unless you are under the age of ten.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Hold Steady Almost Killed Me

I wonder how many blogs have started with that very same title. Who the hell has time for originality any more.

Last weekend Leslie and I traveled to Athens, Georgia to see The Hold Steady. We had never been to Athens before, and The Hold Steady was playing there on a Saturday, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go up there
for the weekend. They were performing at the 40 Watt Club, famously known for being the starting point for R.E.M.

Athens is pretty cool, but much smaller than I had anticipated. It's a college town, and being that the semester hasn't started yet, the town was relatively dead. There were a couple cool shops. There were not one, but two indie record shops, and there was a comic book store that looked like it had gone through an earthquake moments before we got there.

But if you're reading this post you probably don't really care about Athens, and you want me to get right to the good stuff: the show.

Leslie and I have been fans of The Hold Steady for a little while now. We missed two other opportunities to see them because they were in town when we weren't, so there was no way we were going to miss this show. This time they would not escape our grasp!

The show wasn't as packed as I feared it would be. the 40 Wat
t is probably the smallest venue I've been to in Georgia. It reminded me of the smaller clubs I went to in Connecticut. The opening act was The Loved Ones, who we had seen open for NOFX a few years back. They remain refreshingly mediocre.

The Hold Steady hit the stage and nary a hipster wasn't on their feet and ready for the performance of their lives. Lucky for all of us Craig Finn and co. didn't disappoint. It was the greatest shows I had seen in a while. They played a ton of my favorites and a few songs I had never heard before. It would be difficult for me to pick a highlight from the night. The setlist included Stuck Between Stations, Chips Ahoy!, Stay Positive, The Swish, and Ask Her for Aderall, just to name a few. There are some pretty great 'Woah's in Slapped Actress and the entire audience chimed in to sing along with the band. They played two encores!

You really get this feeling that The Hold Steady are in touch with their fans. They act like they're more of fans then musicians themselves. They knew what songs people would like to hear, and slipping three B-sides into the act certainly is a way to pander to the diehard fans in the crowd.

Leslie was kind enough to snag one of the posters off of the wall of the club for me. It was just a simple gig poster, the kind we saw hanging up all over the city and someone had Sharpied the date of the show at the blank space in the bottom. I proudly hung the poster in my cubicle in office as soon as I got to work on Monday morning.

It was a pretty awesome show. I give them my highest possible recommendation if they come to your town. and if they do, be sure to give me a call and see if I'm busy that night.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Shirt Design Was Accepted!

However, that doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to get printed. Please click on the link below, click that you would buy it as a shirt and a print, and then hit 5.

Waffle Squirrel - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

I know I should be excited that it even made it this far, and I am. After reading the long list of responses I could expect if they didn't accept it, making it this far is quite a triumph. But now I want it all. Sure, the money would be nice, but I want to know that I made something that people liked and it's going to be made and distributed. Hipsters across the globe will see my design and want it. People I've never even met will be wearing something that I pretty much put on them.

This is my first step on my quest for world domination.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Threadless T-Shirts

So after hours of painstaking work, and hours of Leslie getting frustrated because I don't know how to use Photoshop, I have successfully submitted a design for Threadless.

Threadless is a t-shirt shop in Chicago that I was introduced to by my dear friends Angie and John. They also accept submissions for t-shirts. So I put something together and sent it off.

You can see the status of my design here:

Waffle Squirrel - Threadless, Best T-shirts Ever

Once it gets approved, I will need everyone to go and vote for me!!!

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I'm really proud of how it turned out, and I really feel my design fits the kind of stuff they do on the site. Some of the other designs up just don't really go with the style of the shirts the site offers. I don't know, maybe I just have a bit head, but I really think I have a shot. And I've always felt that if you get paid for art that you've created, that officially makes you an artist. So somehow if I pull this off I feel as if it would validate all the claims I've been making in my head for many years now. That and I would love some free t-shirts!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Dark Knight

Wow. Seriously, wow. This film is deserving of all the hype it's been getting. It really is one of the best superhero films in years. Brilliantly written and performed, this will be remembered as one of the best comic book films ever made, by far the best Batman movie ever. This film proves that comic book movies can be taken seriously and be recognized not just as giant blockbusters, but as art.

There were so many things that I loved about this film. Like nearly ever Batman film since Tim Burton's first Batman, they decided to put two villains into the story. Typically this makes things a bit too over the top and you fall into the typical corny, rehashed story where the villains turn on each other or something like that. However it w
orks in this film on so many levels. I knew Harvey Dent was going to turn into Two Face, but I wasn't sure when in the story it was going to happen to him, if at all. I was expecting it to happen at the end and lead into the third film. This was so much better than that.

I really enjoyed the Spider-man and the X-Men films, and Iron Man is a welcome member to the family. However those all feel very grounded in a different, more fantastic word. The only thing that removes The Dark Knight from the real world to me is Batman's technology, which could all one day be real. In the first one the Scarecrow's fear toxin is a bit of a stretch, but with this one you don't feel that way.

I was worried that I was going to keep getting taken out of the film by the presence of Heath Ledger. I didn't want to get too distracted when remembering that the guy is dead now. However, I still have trouble looking at the Joker in the movie and understanding it's Ledger behind the greasepaint. His performance is so demented it's not nothing else that he had ever done. This would have opened up so many doors for him. This film serves for him as his swan song.

As far as how they wrote the Joker, they did an excellent job. He's
a brilliant character who is so much more psychotic then Jack Nicholson portrayed him in the first Batman film. He is every serial killer and mad man rolled into one. He's more scary than funny, and when he is funny, it's even more scary. The disappearing pencil bit is a perfect example (and one of my favorite parts of the movie I might add!).

Just a couple minor details I didn't like about the film. I'm a big Batman fan and the Joker has always been one of my favorite villains. I think Heath Ledger truly understood the character. However, as sick and twisted as they managed to make him, he wasn't particularly funny. I kept waiting for that one token Joker joke. Nothing too poignant or silly, just a little anecdote to remind viewers, "This guy's f_cking nuts!".

Another thing that bugs me is Christian Bales Batman voice. For those of you that didn't know, Bale is English and suppresses his accent for most American films. When he puts on the cape and cowl, he changes his voice to a whispery thing, probably so people that know Bruce Wayne don't recognize him. However when Bale does this voice it sounds like his trying not to sneeze, and it was very distracting to me.

But those are two minor details in a nearly flawless film.

Do yourself a favor and go see this movie. The Dark Knight is one of the riskiest film I've seen in a while, it is the best movie of the summer if not the year.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Home-town Hero Gone Sour

We're in Connecticut for the wedding of our dear friends Angie and John. The wedding was Saturday night in Mystic. We really had an amazing time. The food was good, the music was fantastic, and the company was second to none. I love my family, but I still stand behind the statement that our friends are the best friends in the world. More on the wedding later.

Of course no trip to CT would be complete without the obligatory visits to the parental units. So far most of our time has been spent with my father and step mother in Bridgeport, from where I'm writing this. We're going to New York tomorrow for a couple days and then we'll return and spend a few days with my mother. My mother still lives in West Haven, in the very house I grew up in. Being in West Haven fills me with anxiety. For some reason I am terrified to bump into people from high school. For the most part I don't really care for the majority of the folks in my graduating class, and with a couple of exceptions, I keep in touch with everyone I care to from West Haven.

So I am filled with dread and fear wherever we go. Every establishment I enter is a potentially awkward encounter with someone from my past life as a Connectican. I don't feel like chatting it up in an aisle at Walgreens feigning interest in how many kids you have now and how your husband/wife is serving in Iraq. I try not to make eye contact with anyone any where I go for fear they might recognize me and I'll be forced to converse with them.

But I'm a realist. I'm not really so conceited to believe that any of my classmates would want be compelled to stop and catch up with me. It's only happened to me a couple times in the handful of visits since I've abondoned the state. However this logic does not compute when I'm out and about. There are a couple folks that would actually make for some REALLY uncomfortable moments. Oh course my life wouldn't come to an end if I bumped into one of these people. I might have a momentary loss of control in my bowels, but after a shower and a quick stop at the laundry mat and I'll be as good as new.

Is it perhaps because I'm not pleased with the direction my life has gone? I have an amazing wife. I have a decent job. I live in a awesome city. However I still haven't completed college, I haven't published anything yet, I haven't had any screenplays made into films. Okay, so that last few are a bit much, but these are the things that go through my mind.

Whatever. People are out there. If I'm meant to bump into them I will. Some of them I will hate, others I will be excited to see, but most will make me flee the scene. The one thing they all have in common is that they all stay here when my vacation ends, and that's all that matters.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Don't call it a comeback

I'm sure many of you will suggest that I've only gone and created this blog because my lovely wife Leslie has found such success here. And you might be partly correct. But this is something I've been meaning to do for a while now. And now it has begun. More to come later...

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