Saturday, September 30, 2006

What a Way to Start the Day

You know what the only thing better than having to work on Saturday is?

Coming in on Saturday and having the security system not recognize the code, thus setting off the incessant, high-pitched alarm, which then blares at a deafening level for the 30 minutes it takes for the cops to show up and shut it down. Oh, and the alarm has almost no variation, so you can't even have fun and do the Dane Cook car alarm sing-along.

There was one brief moment when it shifted from its "wheee-ooo, wheee-ooo" pattern to a very Morse code sounding pattern; I think it was trying to tell us something. But, we were unable to communicate with it, so it quickly grew irritated with our ignorance and returned to its old "whee-ooo, whee-ooo" ways.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

Cardinal Points

The other day The Cardinal sent out an email to a few of The Singles asking us why it was that he's the only person with a murder-mystery specific nickname.

"Why isn't Trouble 'Preggo'?" he inquired

Trouble (in costume) posing next to Mama Lighbulb (who wasn't)

"Or Disaster 'Cokehead'?"

Cap'n Disaster showing off her hidden drug stash

He then continued on to say that he felt picked upon and that it was such thoughts as these that kept him awake at night and prevented him from getting into a good school.

Magic Pants and Cap'n Cluck responded by listing off some of his other nicknames, such as Ultimate Fighter and Dennis, but of course, the reason The Cardinal is known to the Singles as The Cardinal is because, prior to the murder mystery, none of us knew him at all, so when we would see him out and about or try to describe him to others, we would use our only point of reference. After all, if you're going to dress like this

you've really got to expect that that's going to stand out in people's minds.



He also asked if, since there's an Anti-Cap'n to offset Cap'n Cluck, is there also an Anti-Pants to offset Magic Pants? I responded that I thought of someone who might be the Anti-Pants, personality wise, and then accidentally pictured him as also being Anti-Pants in a more literal fashion, and therefore had to go gouge out my eyes and hope that the shock freed me from the mental image forever.

There were a few other digressions in the replies flying back and forth (including Magic Pants declaring herself the Nickname Irregularity Containment Keyman & Notably Addicted Moniker
Enthusiast and the formatin of the Coalition Against Magic Pants, or CAMP), but in the end, The Cardinal's valiant efforts to dislodge his nickname were fruitless, for the nonce.

However, I did mentione his nickname suggestion to Trouble and, well, let's just say that the next time he runs into her, he might have to put his Ultimate Fighter nickname to the test . . .

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Ain't No Party Like a Cap'n Cluck Party

Last Friday, in honor of Cap'n Cluck's b-day, a good-sized group of Singles and Denton Bible folk headed down to Gilley's in Dallas for an evening of country dancing. Gilley's is a bit of a rarity in that it's a smoke-free environment, which is a huge plus for the respiratorally challenged among us, such as Cluckity and myself. Although, even that might not be enough to get Cluck to go back down there after the way last Friday ended . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The evening started off with a small caravan departing from The Cardinal's house around 7:00 in an effort to get to Gilleys before 8:00, which is when they start charging to get in; we got in for free with about 10 minutes to spare. The caravan vehicles were divided according to how long people were planning on staying; since I'm all for closing the place down, I got to ride along with The Cardinal, Cap'n Cluck, and a Denton Bible-ite whom I hadn't met before. For the purposes of this story, she shall be known as Rocker Girl, since she confessed to having little to no knowledge of Country music, let alone dancing, preferring Rock and Roll. Our drive down was uneventful, outside of the odd moment where I found myself in the unfamiliar position of being the only person in a group who likes a food that all the others despise. Unsure of how to handle this rare situation, I mostly sat back the let the three of them rail against the evils of pickles. Anyway, although Cluckity and I were the only Singles to join The Cardinal's caravan, it wasn't long before a few familiar faces arrived at Gilleys, including Scuba-girl, Monkey Dance, H.Q., Peanut, and Squiggly. I was especially glad to see the Squiggly One, since I knew it would mean there was someone there who was even less enthused about Country dancing than I was.

Quick digression about my attitude towards dancing* A while back I talked about how dancing is one of the few physical activities I can engage in without feeling self-conscious. I still stand by that, but with one caveat - - that my dancing isn't actually with somebody else. When all I have to worry about is myself, I can let loose with no regrets. Throw another person into the mix, however, and there goes my carefree, booty-shaking attitude. Because when I'm dancing with somebody else, I can't just let my goofy self do whatever goofy moves it decides to do in its goofy way; no, I suddenly have to worry about another person's moves, another person's gait, another person's rhythm . . . then you throw in the spinning and turning and moving of the arms at the same time as the feet . . . it's madness, I tell you, madness!

Seriously, I don't mind country dancing, but I'd need a lot more practice before I'm totally comfortable getting out on the dance floor with someone else in public, especially when they're veteran dancers like H.Q. and Cap'n Cluck. At this point, I'm too self-conscious to truly enjoy dancing unless I can be a total goofball while doing it. Still, I did dance with H.Q. and Cluckity once apiece; I might have felt more pressure to dance if there hadn't been a surplus of much more practiced guys from Denton Bible to pick up my slack.

So, given my reluctance to strut my clumsy stuff out on the dance floor, I was all-in with Squiggly's plan to keep playing pool since, as she said, "as long as I'm playing, I don't have to dance." And the fact that the pool tables at Gilley's are free made it an even easier decision. Had a pretty good time, even if Monkey Dance did whup up on us with his mad pool playing skills.


Although, I think there were a few times Squiggly wished I would go out on the dance floor, instead of dancing around the pool table; I wish I'd had a camera to capture the look of terror on her face as I boogied and sang along with the odd country cover of Prince's "Kiss." Priceless. Instead, all we got was the aftermath of Squiggly losing complete control of the cue stick, which went upside down and sideways and . . . well, you know the rest


It was somewhere around this point where Cluckity decided that it was time to engage in one of the favorite hobbies of the photo-happy gals of the Singles group: the quest to actually get a good picture of Cap'n Neurotic. I hate posing for pictures; I feel horribly self-conscious forcing a smile on my face, and usually wind up turning it into a grimace mere instants before the camera flashes. About the only time a picture of me looks relatively good is when I'm caught completely off-guard. So there I am, standing by the pool table, more than likely mortifying Squiggly by singing and dancing to whatever the band was playing, when suddenly Cap'n Cluck sneaks up beside me, tickles me on the side, and thrusts the camera in front of us, hoping to catch me in the middle of laughing naturally, thus yielding a good picture. Instead, what she got was this:



The horror, the horror!

Now, even though I might not do a lot of dancing, I usually have lots of fun watching some of the others doing their thing out on the dance floor. Take for instance the Denton Bible guy I like to think of as The Kinetic Kid. I've only met The Kid a couple of times before, but each time he's been bursting with energy, practically bouncing off the walls. This was my first time to see him dancing, and it was quite a spectacle: twisting, turning, spinning, dropping to one knee while the girl danced around him, The Kid was in constant motion and made sure his partner was too. Not too long after we got there he grabbed country dancing neophyte Rocker Girl and took her out on the dance floor, subjecting her to all of the convoluted spinning and turns that he'd been doing with the long time dancers; I decided that The Kinetic Kid does not believe on easing folks into things, an idea which was confirmed when he later grabbed Squiggly and did the same with her.

But the real stars of the dance floor** were The Cardinal and Cap'n Cluck.


Cluckity, of course, has been dancing all of her life, and in The Cardinal she's found a dance partner who is capable of doing all of the super-crazy moves and lifts she loves.


There's one lift where I swear he's about to suplex her; perhaps not surprisingly, it was such a near-suplex move which directly preceded The Incident.

It was close to closing time, and a good portion of our group had already cleared out for the evening; think Cluckity and I were the only two Singles left. Cap'n Cluck wanted to dance one more time with The Cardinal so they could do all of the tricks they hadn't managed to do earlier in the evening, so she went and requested an appropriate song from the DJ. Once the requested song started playing, she immediately grabbed The Cardinal and rushed onto the dance floor. They had barely gotten through a lift or two when a security guard approached them and said "The manager doesn't want you doing that sort of stuff," which seemed a little odd, since they'd been doing that sort of stuff all night long. Cluck was livid; The Cardinal tried to be the voice of reason***, saying the he had never been kicked out of a club or bar in his life. Cluckity's response? "There's a first time for everything." They stayed out on the floor and finished the dance, keeping things relatively low-key; the security guys were busy trying to get the grinding train-wreck threesome to vacate the floor, but the one who had initially spoken to our dancing duo kept his beady eyes on them, ready to pounce if they did the least little lift. As soon as the song was over, Cluck stormed off the floor and declared that she was ready to go, and she wasn't really planning on ever coming back.

But, despite the downer ending of the evening, Cap'n Cluck's B-day Dance Party was, on the whole, a rousing success, and the b-day girl spent most of the evening with a smile on her face and a flashing tiara on her head.

Oh, did I forget to mention the flashing tiara?


My bad.

*What, you thought that just because it was her b-day party that the post would be all about Cluckity? Silly blog monkeys!
**Outside of the really gross threesome whose grinding on the middle of the dance floor was akin to the train wreck you want to look away from but can't
***Shocking, I know

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It's a "What-I-Watched" Wednesday

Okay, between computer mishaps and $*%#& allergies, I've fallen behind on my Film and TV reviews, so I figured I'd just do one mega-post to get caught up. Enjoy

MOVIES

The Wild: Sub-par animated film about a group of zoo animals who wind up traveling to the jungle to rescue a runaway lion cub. This one might appeal to the little ones, but it doesn’t hold a quarter of the wit and humor necessary to maintain an adult’s interest. A couple of chuckle-worthy lines (I have a feeling PigPen will be quoting “That proves it, my mother must have drank pool water” line for a while) and a nice bit with the chameleons, but this is pretty much a misfire on all levels.

Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: Latest installment in the car racing series which apparently has next to nothing to do with either of the first two, neither of which I’ve seen. This time around we have a troublemaking speed freak who gets shipped off to live with his estranged dad in Tokyo and then gets involved with the world of underground drift racing. Not a great film, but not as bad as I thought it might be. The script, while predictable, wasn’t cringe-worthy; the acting was passable, and a couple of the actors were actually likeable; and, of course, there were lots of cool car racing scenes. All in all, not bad for a mindless piece of escapism.

Stick It: Enjoyable enough comedy about a rebellious teen who is forced to re-enter the world of gymnastics or be shipped off to military school. Fairly predictable, but I didn't watch it expecting a complex, layered work of thought-provoking cinema. No, I watched it expecting some funny one-lines and some entertaining gymnastics, and that's what I got.

The Proposition: Australian Western about a former outlaw (Guy Pearce) who is blackmailed by a driven lawman (Ray Winstone) into hunting down his older brother in order to save his younger brother’s life. An interesting film that splits its time equally between Pearce’s quest for his brother and Winstone’s struggle to maintain order in his command and at home with his sheltered wife (Emily Watson). A word of warning: some the accents are really thick; I had to turn the subtitles on pretty early to catch most of Pearce’s dialogue. Also has a nice cameo by John Hurt as a drunken bounty hunter who waxes philosophic on Darwin and Origin of the Species.

Lonesome Jim: Off-beat indie about a depressed young man (Casey Affleck) whose return to his home town sets into motion a chain of events that throws his family’s lives into chaos. At times slow-moving, Jim’s biggest problem is that the titular character isn’t really all that likeable; when the single mom romantic interest (Liv Tyler) keeps pursuing him, all I could think was “Why?” But, while Jim might not have been an easy character to identify with, the film maintained my interest thanks to its dark sense of humor and the hilarious performance of Mary Kay Place as Jim’s bubbly and clueless mom. This one’s not for everyone, but fans of the off-beat might like it.

Gojira/Godzilla: The first DVD release of the original, uncut Godzilla film, along with the original American cut, now with more Raymond Burr action! Both versions of the film were quite a change for me, considering that I grew up watching the later, kiddie friendly version of Godzilla . . . you know, the one that acts more like an overgrown radioactive professional wrestler and less like the physical embodiment of the horror and destructive power of atomic weapons. Watching Gojira reminded me of my experience watching the original King Kong in that the monster was actually much more monstrous than I expected, with actual on-screen deaths and not just random property destruction. Despite some goofy looking shots of puppet-headed Godzilla, Gojira holds up fairly well, both in terms of story and in special effects. The American version, not so much; Burr’s insertion into the film is so obtrusive that it was difficult to suspend disbelief.

TV

In deference to Cap’n Cluck, this week I shall be arranging my viewage according to what day each show airs. Also, all new shows (as in "new this season") will be underlined.

**MONDAY**

The Class (CBS 7:00): This episode felt like a slight improvement over the first, and I have to wonder just how much of that improvement was the show finding its rhythm, and how much was the fact that the oddball sister had only a single line. I’m still not happy with the adulterous subplot, and not because of any moral grounds; I just find the characters bland. Still, the fact that the show will soon be adding long-time favorite Sara Gilbert to the show in a very Darlene Connor type of role makes it much more likely for me to keep watching.

How I Met Your Mother (CBS 7:30): Excellent episode just for Barney’s sheer jackassery alone; Lilly's twin-move at the end was just icing on the cake.

Heroes (NBC 8:00): New series about a group of people who suddenly discover that they’ve developed superhuman abilities. As you can imagine, the concept just screams Cap’n Neurotic, and I’ve been anxiously awaiting the debut. How does it hold up to my expectations? Fairly well, all told. I did find the introductory text to be a tad heavy-handed, and the special effects during the climax of Milo Ventimiglia’s rooftop dive were a bit shoddy. On the other hand, it has a great cast, and I’m intrigued by several of the storylines, particularly the indestructible cheerleader and the mysterious mirror image of Ali Larter. And the breakout character has to be the enthusiastic teleporter Hiro, and I’m not just saying that because he gets his time travel theories from the Days of Future Past storyline in X-Men. I’m curious about where it’s all headed, and as of now am in for the long-haul.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC 9:00): Love this show. Love, love, love, love this show. Watched it twice, laughed just as hard both times. This episode felt much more West Wingish than the premiere, which, considering how much I loved WW is not a bad thing at all. I don’t know if the execution of the musical number quite lived up to the buildup, but that’s a small quibble in the episode that introduced us to The Clock. Lots of familiar faces in the writers’ room, wonder how many of them are around for the long haul.

Taped but haven't watched: Prison Break (Fox 7:00)

**TUESDAY**

Gilmore Girls (CW 7:00): There was a lot of concern heading into the season about the quality of the show following the departure of Team Palladino. After watching last night’s premiere, those concerns have been laid to rest. The writers have captured the cadence of the characters wonderfully, and few things have given me as much joy as watching Paris doing screening for her SAT Prep course. The only thing that bothered me about the ep was something that was really out of the control of the creative staff, as they merely had to deal with the fallout from the season finale. The scene where Luke made his plea to Lorelei definitely tugged at my heart-strings. I’m interested to see how long before the two of them manage to work through everything.

Help Me Help You (ABC 8:30): New sitcom starring Ted Danson as a blowhard psychiatrist who tries to fix other people's lives while his own is falling apart. And while that description sounds terribly generic, I will state for the record that this is my favorite new sitcom of the season by leaps and bounds. Dark, sarcastic, witty, well-written single-camera show filled with interesting characters . . . which means that, since it's on ABC, it will quickly get cancelled. Still, while it's on, I encourage you to give it a shot; at least one or two of you won't be disappointed.

Smith (CBS 9:00): Promising new series about a group of international thieves led by Ray Liota. Have only seen the first episode, so I’m not sure if the series will be all about the heist-of-the-week or if it will focus more on the gang as the authorities search for them. Biggest revelation in the first ep for me was Amy Smart, who played a role so far gone from what I’ve seen from her before it blew me away; who knew she could play a hard-as-nails femme fatale?

Eureka (SciFi 8:00): Last week’s episode where people in the town lost all their inhibitions was one of the best so far. I’m hoping that the show gets picked up for another season.

Premieres next week: Veronica Mars (CW 8:00), Friday Night Lights (NBC 7:00)

**WEDNESDAY**

Bones (Fox 7:00): Glad that Bones and her new boss are still getting along; the fractiousness would have driven me away from an otherwise enjoyable show before too long. My favorite part of last week’s episode was the reminder of Hodgins’ paranoiac tendencies during his Illuminati rant.

Kidnapped (NBC 9:00): I meant to re-watch the series premiere last week to refresh my memory from when I saw it on DVD, but time constraints made that a bit troublesome. But while I didn’t watch it, I thought I’d reiterate how much I enjoyed it, and urge everyone to tune in to the new episode tonight.

Premieres next week: Lost!!!!!!!! (ABC 8:00), The Nine (ABC 9:00)

Taped, haven't watched: Jericho (CBS 7:00)

**THURSDAY **

My Name is Earl (NBC 7:00): Have I mentioned recently how badly Jaime Pressley was robbed at the Emmys? Last week’s episode served as a reminder of how egregious a snub that was.

The Office (NBC 7:30): So many great things in this episode, most of them revolving around Jim and Pam adapting to the absence of their usual partner in crime, from the reactions of Jim’s new co-workers to his antics to Ryan’s reactions to Pam’s looks and giggles. But nothing else beat the whole gaydar bit.

Survivor (CBS 7:00): Two weeks in, and I haven’t disagreed with an elimination yet. I did, however, find the throwing of the immunity challenge to be not only of questionable strategic value, but also really, really obvious. Was surprised Jeff didn’t call them on it. Of course, he was probably too surprised by the whole “it’s love at first sight” revelation to go back to actual game-play questions.

ER (NBC 8:00): The resolution to the world’s most melodramatic season finale of all time was not quite as melodramatic as its genesis, but it was close. Hated the whole rape aspect of Sam’s situation; I suppose the writers thought it was necessary to justify her pulling the trigger, but it made me horribly uncomfortable.

Grey’s Anatomy (ABC 8:00): One of the things I love about this show is how well it manages to shift from drama to comedy and back again without losing focus. Callie’s speech about why the doctors are all socially backwards was the high point of the episode for me; I hope Sarah Ramirez is here to stay.

Six Degrees (ABC 9:00): New series predicated on the idea that a group of random strangers are all connected to each other by a string of chance meetings and coincidences. A strong cast plus some interesting twists has me willing to give this show a shot, but I do question exactly how long they can keep the mystery up without it getting tiresome.

CSI (CBS 8:00): I only watched the season premiere because The A.C. had mentioned how much he disliked the ending; after watching it I totally concur. If the rape on ER made me feel hate, the rape of Catherine made me feel hate, disgust, disbelief, and tons of other negative emotions.

Shark (CBS 9:00): So-so new drama about a high powered defense attorney who switches to the prosecution after one of his former clients kills someone. Woods does tolerably well with what little he’s been given; I wish I could say the same of poor Jerri Ryan. Doubtful that I’ll keep watching this one.

Premieres tomorrow: Supernatural (CW 8:00), Ugly Betty (ABC 7:00)

**FRIDAY**

Men in Trees (ABC 8:00): New show about a big city professional trying to adapt to life in a small Alaskan town filled with quirky characters. Now, if you’re thinking “Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the idea behind Northern Exposure,” then you’re not alone. However, there’s a world of difference between the shows, and not just because this one focuses on a female author and not a male doctor. If nothing else, NE was about twenty times quirkier than MiT. Three episodes in and the show is still struggling to find its balance; so far I love most of the supporting cast, especially Emily Bergl as the stalkerish yet naïve Annie, Derek Richardson as her goofy yet endearing love interest Patrick Bachelor, and the always excellent Cynthia Stevenson as Patrick’s grumpy police officer mother Celia. However, I cannot stand the relationship between Anne Heche’s character Marin and her romantic interest; their fractious interactions annoy rather than amuse. I’m hoping that they come to a more amicable understanding soon.

Stargate: SG-1/Atlantis (SciFi 8:00/9:00): Mid-season finale cliffhangers: gotta love ‘em. Unless you’re like me, in which you curse them loudly.

Premieres next week: Battlestar Gallactica (SciFi 8:00)

**SATURDAY MORNING**

Legion of Super-Heroes (Kids WB): I am a long-time fan of the Legion, and have been looking forward to their animated series with a mixture of hope and fear. Thankfully, the hope was fulfilled more than the fear. Yes, the design-work still makes me cringe, and yes, I hate that they’ve decided to make Brainy into a morphing megabit of some sort, but overall I was happy with the end result if for no other reason than an interesting use of Triplicate Girl and her patented trijitsu.

**SUNDAY**

Amazing Race (CBS 7:00): I can’t come up with anything to say about this episode that’s anywhere near as funny as this person’s review, so go read that instead.

The Simpsons (FOX 7:00): It's been a long, long time since I've actively looked forward to watching The Simpsons each week, and so far this season hasn't done anything to renew my enthusiasm, although I will say that the White Stripes cameo a couple of episodes ago was brilliant.

American Dad (Fox 7:30): The return of the letterboxed digression was excellent, although it did leave both PigPen and The Anti-Cap'n horribly confused.

Family Guy (Fox 8:00): Is it just me, or has this season been a little weak so far? Still some laugh-out-loud moments in each episode (the proctology episode had quite a few), but it just doesn't feel as consistent as it once did.

Taped but haven’t watched: Brothers and Sisters (ABC 9:00)

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Squiggly-like

As long-time blog monkeys know, my decision to only refer to people by nicknames has been a source of much consternation, as my lackluster naming abilities have collided with constant prodding from The Nickless Ones who feel slighted because they have not yet been bestowed the (dubious) honor of a blog monkey nickname. And as those who’ve known me for a long time can attest, constant prodding is not the best way to get me to do anything. But, that doesn’t seem to stop people from putting their prodding skills to the test. This has been most true of The Singles, since (a) they’ve been the most active group of blog monkeys and (b) most of them haven’t come pre-equipped with ready made nicks.

There was one Single in particular who was always after me to assign her a nickname. Now, I can understand this urge; if one of my friends was coming up with nicknames for everyone else but me, I’d probably be in full-on neurotic mode. Where my frustration came in was when every nickname I proffered was shot down nearly instantaneously. Now, I’m not saying they were all winners, mind you; I know there were some stinkers in the bunch. But, I was doing my best, a fact that the Single (who I was threatening to start calling Pushy McPusherson) refused to accept. “You’re not even trying!” she’d accuse me repeatedly, much to my consternation.

It all came to a head on Magic Pants’ last post-church lunch in Denton before deserting us for Waco, a lunch which also marked the first visit of a recent addition to the class. As a new addition, he was introduced to the concept of CoIM and its nicknames by the others, which prompted Pushy McP. to once again bemoan her nickless state. I exasperatedly reiterated that I had tried my best, and she countered that none of them were any good. I posited that none of the nicknames I’ve come up with for anyone were really any good, and her response to this finally hit at the core of her complaint which she’d never vocalized before --- that at least those other nicknames had some sort of story behind them, and weren’t just randomly pulled out of thin air. I protested that I had tried a story-driven nick and she had refused it.

“What nickname?” she asked.

“The squiggly one,” I replied.

Let’s take a quick jump back in time a few months to the day of the annual Singles softball game and cookout. Afterwards a small group of us went to the Denton air show. Well, we went to a parking lot somewhere kind of close to the air show so that we could occasionally see the planes zipping around in the distance. During one especially intricate run, the nickless one in question exclaimed in joy, “Ooo, look! He’s upside down! He’s sideways! He’s all squiggly-like!” After a brief discussion about the validity of the phrase “squiggly-like” in the English language, I said that I thought we had finally found a nickname for her; she immediately (and forcefully) declined.

Flash-forward back to Magic Pants’ final Sunday lunch where the nickless one, having just heard me reference her shutting down of the squiggly-like nick, proclaims that I never offered such a nick, and subsequently she could not have shot it down. I was momentarily speechless, and was this close to descending into a “Did so! Did not! Did so! Did not!” style argument, when I realized that luckily (at least in terms of the maturity level of our discourse) I had three witnesses to the initial squiggly-like conversation. I quickly called on Magic Pants, Cap’n Cluck, and The Anti-Cap’n to back me up, which they all did readily. The nickless one, slightly abashed, maintained that she didn’t remember it, but had no problems with the nick now. Magic Pants compared it to her own initial reaction to her nickname, saying that sometimes they just had to grow on you. Magic Pants then called for the attention of all at the table and put forward a motion that the squiggly-like nickname be applied, a motion which was quickly seconded and passed by a unanimous vote.

And thus, this particular nickless one was bequeathed the nickname “Squiggly,” and all was right with the world.

Until, that is, she reads this post and then comes after me for the Pushy McPusherson crack and uses her karate skills to make my body go upside-down, my limbs go sideways, and my internal organs go all squiggly like.

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Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalt!

With my recent lack of Internet at home, I've been forced to type my blog posts up in a Word document on my computer, save them to disc, and then upload to the blog when I get a chance. Unfortunately, when I went to save to disk before heading to work I discovered that due to some technical mishap the Movie Monday blog post I had written several days ago had not saved correctly. So, you'll have to wait a few days to get my oh-so-insightful thoughts on Gojira, Lonesome Jim, and The Proposition. And if you're thinking to yourself "Gee, that's not a whole lot of movie-watching there, Cap'n," you're right. My movie watching has been seriously curtailed by a combination of my social life, the new Fall season, and the fact that I spent most of my weekend trying to watch as much of the Lost Season 2 DVDs as possible in preparation for the season premiere next week. This has been both cool, as I've caught a few things I missed the first time around, and not so cool, as I've been subjected to one of the most annoying sounds known to man: "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalt! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalt!" Thank heavens they're not gong to be regulars this season (for a while, at least).

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Friday, September 22, 2006

What a Long, Strange Year It's Been

I don't think it's any secret that my life recently has been a tad hectic, so it should come as no surprise that between moving, drastic changes at work, and lack of Internet access at home (not to mention the new Fall Season) that my overloaded brain let an incredibly important date slip through the cracks.

I can hardly believe it was only a year and 12 days ago that I made my very first blog post here on CoIM, a brief post whose title was an obscure reference to a line from Babylon 5, which was to be just the first of countless off-the-wall references to sail over the heads of scores of blog monkeys in the months to come.

It feels bizarre that I've only been doing CoIM for a little over a year, if for no other reason than there's been so many changes in my life since then. I mean, at this time last year I was still living alone, trying to finish up school, wondering what I was going to do after I finally got my Masters. Heck, back then I didn't even know (or, at the least, barely knew) Cap'n Cluck, Magic Pants, The Anti-Cap'n, Monkey Dance, PigPen, Peanut, Squiggly, The Cardinal, plus a few other nickless Singles, and yet now they're all integral members of my Cast. Which reminds me, I really need to update the Cast Lists . . .

It's also strange just how many changes CoIM itself has gone through in the course of a year, as I tried to find my voice as a blogger. If you were to compare my pre-Cabin postings with my post-Cabin postings, I think you can see a massive change in style (not to mention frequency). Have these changes been for the better or for the worse? I can't really say, although I will admit to missing my early, giddy, highly random blog-writing frenzies a bit. I'm hoping that now that I'm settling into the new place, my blogging will return to respectable levels, although I'm pretty sure the multiple-three-page-postings-in-a-day mania of my Secret Origin days are well behind me.

Anyway, let me take a moment to thank those of you who've been faithful blog monkeys, doggedly slogging through my ramblings week after week. Even if you never add to the CoIM comments section, I see the visits tracked in the stats, and your continued reading is much appreciated.

Of course, comments would be appreciated even more . . .

4 comments:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Song About My People, For My People



So, how many of you out there actually got the Star Wars Holiday Special joke? Anyway, for some insight into some of the inside jokes in the vid, click here

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Now You're Speaking My Language

A few weeks back I mentioned in passing that I was taking a “Supervision 101” class at work. One day we had a guest lecturer who talked a bit about motivation, particularly motivating and inspiring the people you supervise. He used a variation on the concept of the The Five Love Languages. The idea of the Five Love Languages that there are 5 basic ways in which people express their love: through words, through acts of service, through gifts, through quality time, and through touch. The presenter’s variation was called the 4 Languages of Appreciation, which were basically the original five minus “touch,” since using that particular “language” would probably be grounds for legal action in our litigious society.

I was already a little familiar with the 5LL because Freezeout has talked about it a few times, explaining how reading the book had helped his marriage run a bit more smoothly, but I had never given much thought to it; the idea that the concepts could be useful in something other than a romantic situation, let alone in a work environment, was a bit of a revelation.

Now, like most theories involving personality types, there’s really not a huge border between each “language.” People tend to express love/appreciation in multiple ways, but there is generally one that stands out as a primary “language.” Of course, the big trick is not figuring out what your particular language is; no, it’s making sure that you firmly realize that not everyone speaks the same language you do. In other words, while you, being an “acts of service” person, might think that doing the dishes without being asked will warm the heart of your significant other, there’s every chance that they’re instead ticked off because you never compliment them like they, as a “words” person, compliment you. It’s all a symptom of the problem that plagues so many of us: the assumption that everyone else thinks the same way you do, a trap that I used to fall into on a frequent basis - - so frequent, in fact, that nowadays I’m actually surprised when I find someone who does think like me. Anyway, the idea is to recognize the languages of those around you and to shape your behavior towards them accordingly, which means not only speaking their language to them, but also not feeling slighted if they don’t speak your language back to you.

In case you’re wondering, according to the little “which language do YOU speak?” quiz we were given, I lean towards the “quality time” end of the continuum, which makes perfect sense: being invited to hang out with the gang is worth more to me than all of the kind words and well-intentioned gifts in the world . . . which, of course, makes my Cap’n Cellophane moments even worse for me than they might be for someone who isn’t so time-focused. It’s probably also part of why I’m often such a stickler for not inviting myself along: I think my “don’t want to be where I’m not wanted” paranoia probably mixes quite well with my “do want people to actively demonstrate that they want me around” neediness.

Ain’t pseudo-psychology grand?

Of course, having nailed down exactly what sort of behavior makes me feel loved and appreciated got me to wondering about my friends and family and what they consider their primary language. Some of them jumped out at me pretty readily, but others I’m not quite as confident in. So, I posit this question to you, my blog monkeys: which language do you speak? Words of praise? Acts of Service? Quality Time? Gifts? Touch? Please feel free to discuss below.

After all, here at CoIM, blog comments count as quality time.

2 comments:

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

TV Tues - Please, Please, PLEASE Let Studio 60 Find an Audience!

This week starts up the new season in earnest. I'm afraid I'm a little behind in TV watching from last week (have a huge stack of video tapes to wade through), but here are my thoughts on what few shows I managed to get watched.

RETURNING SHOWS

Survivor: So, the much talked about "segregated by race" season has started and, as I expected, the controversy seems to have been a bunch of people getting worked up over nothing. I did find it interesting that out of the four groups, only the African American team truly embraced the "we have to represent our people" mentality. So far only one cast member has truly gotten on my nerves, and he was voted out, so things are looking good so far.

Amazing Race: I can't help but wonder if the twists and turns Phil warned of early on will amount to anything other than non-pit-stop Philiminations; my guess is no. I wasn't too sad to see Bilal and Sa'eed go, but hated that Vipul and Arti got cut. I would have much rather seen Team Coalminer, Team Single Mom, or Team Abusive-Relationship-in-the-Making go. I'm kind of rooting for Team Recovering Addicts, if for no other reason than it cracks me up that every single one of their interview segments looks like they spent half an hour setting up their blocking for on of their modeling photo shoots.

How I Met Your Mother: As always, the best bits of the show revolve around Barney, although Marshall and Robin at the gun range was a fun bit as well.

Two and a Half Men: As always, the best bits of the show revolved round Rose, although Alan and his mom's conversation was a fun bit as well. I have to admit, I'm sort of sad to see Candy go, I thought she was a fun addition to the cast. And I'm constantly annoyed that they've made the character of Judith act so gleefully evil towards Alan; Marin Hinkle deserves a better role.

Bones: I'm hoping that the truce between Bones and the new boss lasts; I don't think I could take week after week of them violently butting heads. A little conflict is good, but they were walking dangerously close to overkill.

Prison Break: I have a confession to make: I fastforwarded through sections of last night's episode because I just couldn't bring myself to care enough about certain subplots (I'm looking at you, Sucre and Maricruz!), and even portions of the show that I did watch barely entertained me. Is it just Prison Break burn out on my part? I did enjoy watching the evil Secret Service guy weasel his way into the doctor's confidence, and watching T-Bag get beat up is always fun.

NEW SHOWS

The Class: This is probably the best of all the new sitcoms I've seen so far this season, but that's not really saying all that much. I liked the cynical, sarcastic Kat (surprise surprise) and the over-achieving anchorwoman Holly, but was put off by the "mother/son always yelling at each other gag" and found the "woman leaves husband" plotline a little forced. I'm undecided on most of the characters, especially the depressive Lina, who has such unusual mannerisms and delivery that it kept taking me out of those . . . and this is apparently after they toned her character down from how it was in the pilot (according to The TV Gal, anyway). I'll be giving this a few more eps to find its footing, thanks to its cushy, pre-HIMYM time-slot if nothing else.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: I've already talked about how much I loved the pilot, and rewatching it last night just reaffirmed my opinion of how much the show rocks. Seriously, if you're a fan of The West Wing, SportsNight, Matthew Perry, or fast-talking snappy patter in general, do yourself a favor and go to NBC.com, scroll down to the NBC 24/7 section, and, Internet willing, watch the series premiere online.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Movie Mon. - What's a cowsay?

Dead Man’s Shoes: Interesting little British revenge flick about a former soldier who sets out on a mission to pay back the scumbags who terrorized his mentally challenged brother. I found this to be a lot more engaging in the first half of the film, when the vengeful brother is playing cat and mouse games with his prey; once the actual violence kicks in, the film loses a bit of its focus. Not that it becomes a mindless bloodbath or anything; the on screen gore is remarkably low-key. I guess I just preferred watching the scumbags slowly going nuts due to the harassment as opposed to going nuts because they just saw the corpse of one of their friends.

Relative Chaos: Lightweight made-for-TV movie about Dill, the youngest member (Christopher Gorham) of the super-competitive Gilbert family, and his drive to finally win the annual Gilbert Cup which has been claimed by his two older siblings Gil (Nicholas Brendan) and Lil (Jennifer Robertson) every year, a drive that's been encouraged by his go-getter of a girlfriend (Charisma Carpenter). Nothing ground-breaking here, but it was an enjoyable enough piece of fluff which I watched mainly because of its cast of former WB stars.

Saturn 3: SF film from the early 80s about two free-spirited researchers (Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett) who find their world turned upside down when their research station receives a visit from a borderline psycho (Harvey Keitel) and his borderline psycho robot pal. Odd little film which had some interesting ideas (and at least one really successful creep-me-out-sequence), but sadly most of the interesting aspects were obscured by unbelievable character decisions and horrible over-acting by Douglas. I can see why this one has sort of faded into obscurity.

The Miracle Match: Based on the true story of the first U.S. World Cup soccer team and its unlikely victory over the English team. Like many sports movies, this one is a tad on the predictable side, but the dialogue is well-written and the cast is engaging and likeable, which helps buoy the film above its relatively generic plot structure. If you enjoy underdog sports films, you should give this one a look.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World: Comedy in which Albert Brooks portrays himself as a struggling actor-comedian who gets chosen to head a government investigation into just what makes people in other countries laugh, a project that requires Brooks to head to India and Pakistan for research. First off, I generally enjoy Brooks's films. Lost in America, Mother, and Defending Your Life are all great movies; the less said about The Muse the better. While I don't know if Looking for Comedy is quite up there with the first three films, it's definitely closer to them than it is to the latter. My only real complaint with the film is that Brooks has written this fictionalized version of himself as a bit too whiny and self-involved, which at times makes it difficult to identify with him. However, the script is full of the typical Brooks wit, and the stuff that made me laugh far outweighed the stuff that didn't. Not for everyone, but if you like Brooks, you'll probably enjoy it. And if you don't know if you like Brooks, then go out and rent Defending Your Life first, since it's a much better film.

Kicking and Screaming: Will Ferrel vehicle about a perpetual loser who decides to coach his son's soccer team after the son is kicked off the team coached by his grandfather (Robert Duvall). Where to begin with this one? Well, Duvall is hilarious as the overly competitive grandfather, and there are some really funny parts sprinkled throughout the film, many revolving around the idol of Chicago Super-Fans everywhere, Mike Ditka, as Duvall's next-door neighbor and long-time rival. But for every moment that made me laugh out loud, there were at least three or four that made me wonder "who in the world thought that bit was a good idea?" All in all, it was a struggle to get through, and unless you're a super-obsessive fan of Ferrel, Duvall, or Ditka, I'd say give this one a miss.

The Wicker Man: The original, cult classic British film about a straight-laced police officer who travels to an isolated island community in search of a missing girl only to find that the island is populated by pagans whose beliefs include, among many things, sacrifices to the old gods. Now, I have not seen the Nick Cage remake as of yet, but I have a feeling that it contains only a fraction of the intelligence, daringness, creepiness, and downright oddness of the original. This is a difficult film to summarize accurately, since it's such a departure from the usual horror film tropes. In fact, while it is nominally advertised as a horror film, it's probably more accurate to describe it as psychological thriller with supernatural overtones which at times borders on becoming a straight-up musical; three days after watching it, I still have the Maypole song running through my head. I liked this one quite a lot, and am now looking forward to the righteous indignation that's sure to fill me when I finally see the recent remake.

The Sentinel: Snooze-inducing "thriller" about a veteran Secret Service agent (Michael Douglas) who gets framed and has to outwit the agents chasing him (Kiefer Sutherland and Eva Longoria) long enough to find the real culprits. Didn't care for this one at all. None of the characters clicked with me, especially Eva Longoria, who was so horribly bland in this that her character might as well not even have existed. Oh, and that "snooze-inducing" crack wasn't just a joke; I did actually fall asleep halfway through my first attempt to watch this.

Lucky Number Slevin: Intricate mistaken-identity comedy-thriller about an unlucky young man named Slevin (Josh Hartnett) who gets pulled into the feud between crime lords known as The Boss (Morgan Freeman) and The Rabbi (Sir Ben Kingsley) thanks to the machinations of a mysterious assassin known as Mr. Goodkat (Bruce Willis). By far my favorite movie of the last few weeks: great dialogue, great actors, great movie. A lot of the big twists I saw coming early on, but there were still a few that took me by surprise, and even knowing the twists were coming didn't dampen my enjoyment of the film a bit. I particularly enjoyed Lucy Liu's performance as a bubbly, semi-scatter brain love interest, partly because it was a good role and good performance, but also because it was such a departure from her usual roles as stone-cold insert-pejorative-term-of-choice-here. If you rent this and enjoy it, I recommend checking out the deleted scenes, which are of a higher quality than most deleted scenes, especially the scene with the two Israeli bodyguards, which PigPen, The A.C. and I watched a couple of times.

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Friday, September 15, 2006

All Your Base Are Belong To My Roomies

On my first full night at the new place, I found myself caught in a college flashback, as I reclined on the couch, splitting my time between reading a book and watching my two roomies play video games. Dox* only knows hours I spent doing the same thing while rooming with Flunky, Dr. G’ovich, and Wrath. There are differences between the experiences, of course, and I don’t just mean that now my roomies are playing Xbox instead of Super-Nintendo. No the personalities involved are vastly different as well: nobody’s going to confuse The Anti-Cap’n or PigPen with Flunky or G’ovich. Plus, so far I’ve avoided getting sucked into playing games against them when I know their skill level dwarfs my own, whereas in the Parker days the Doc and Flunky were gifted in the ways of video game peer pressure. Now, whether it’s just that I’ve reached the point in my life where such pressure no longer fazes me, or whether the A.C. and PigPen just don’t know which psychological buttons to push to get me to cave is open to debate

I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with video games, I suppose. Love to play them: hate how much I suck at them. Honestly, you’re more apt to hear me lose control of my vocabulary while playing video games than just about any other time; if you see me pick up a controller, it would be wise to get anyone with overly sensitive ears out of shouting range.

One of the contributing factors to my not playing much with the new roomies is the sort of games they’ve been playing: Halo 2 and one of the Madden football games. I’m not really a big fan of first person shooter games, due to my inability to hold the map fixed in my head. I have spent a bit of time playing the solo campaign mode on Halo 2, but pretty much only when the others aren’t around to mock my poor spatial sense . . . Heaven forefend they ever witness my pathetic attempts to drive the blankity-blank truck in the game. As for Madden, well, in addition to the fact that having to listen to Madden’s inane chatter throughout the game is enough to turn my mind to jelly, there’s just something about most sport themed games that refuses to click in my brain . . . much like me trying to play actual sports.

Parkerite Video Game Flashback: When we had the house on Knoblock, we had a cheapo football game for the Super-NES which came from the bargain bin at Hastings. G’ovich delighted in thrashing me at the game, one time even going so far as to play the whole game upside down and still murdering me.

Good times, good times.

Another flashback occurred when PigPen installed Civilization II on my computer and proceeded to spend just about every free minute he had trying to emerge as the undisputed ruler of his computerized world, a behavior highly reminiscent of everyone's favorite future world conqueror, Flunky, back in the day. And, much like back in the day, I have next to no desire to play the world-building/conquering game myself, but am endlessly fascinated by watching others play.

All that being said, I’d probably be much more apt to jump in on the video game playing if they game styles being played were slightly different. After all, while I’m not necessarily good at them, I’ve always enjoyed fighting games a la Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat or, my favorite, Battle Arena Toshinden, if for no other reason than that sometimes random rapid button pushing is just as effective as actual skill. I don’t have much of a knack for learning special moves, especially if they’re any more complicated than the basic “back-back-A” style, but when I do learn one, you can prepare yourself to see it a lot.

Parkerite Video Game Flashback: One time we rented a dinosaur-themed fighting game. G’ovich and I spent a good hour or so playing it, trying to figure out the special moves with no luck. Our game-play was interrupted by my having to head to class; when I returned, I was immediately greeted by G’ovich with an invitation to play again, said invitation accompanied a look of faux innocence which practically dripped Eeeeeeeeevil. Sure enough, while I was out The Doc had deciphered the mysteries of the special moves, and gleefully demolished me for several round before finally growing bored of his utter domination through special moves and passing on the secrets, so that he could then utterly dominate on a more level playing field.

Good times, good times.

I also enjoy your basic side-scroller games, if for no other reason than most of the older ones take all the guesswork out of the "which way should I go" decision making process, as a quick game of Super Mario Bros. on PigPen's trusty old Nintendo reminded me. It was kind of strange playing SMB, which I probably haven't played in over a decade: most of my game playing skills were rusty (many, many jumping mishaps), but it was amazing how many of the easter eggs I remembered on those early levels. Guess it's just like riding a bike . . . an analogy that would mean much more to me if I ever actually learned how to ride a bike, but that's a totally different blog post.

*Comic book reference

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Great Cola Debate: an Excerpt From The Boys of Benjiman Street

For your blogging enjoyment today I thought I'd treat you all to a snippet from last night's showing of the new ongoing performance piece which is taking a very small section Denton by storm: The Boys of Benjiman Street.

BEGIN SCENE

As we open, the three main characters return home from a co-ed softball doubleheader. THE ANTI-CAP'N heads upstairs to take a shower. CAP'N NEUROTIC heads to the living room and flops on the massive bean bag chair exhausted from a couple of hours of watching other people perform athletic feats. PIGPEN, covered in dirt from playing softball, heads into the kitchen, opening up the refrigerator to find several 12-packs of Coca-Cola Classic


PigPen: [hollering out to his two new roommates] Okay, who's the Coke drinker?

Cap'n N: [gets up from the massive bean bag chair in the living room and approaches the kitchen] That would be me

PigPen: [shaking his head sadly] We're going to have to train you to drink Dr. Pepper.

Cap'n N: [grimacing] Trust me, that's never going to happen. Dr. Pepper's the one thing I refuse to drink.

PigPen: [shocked] But Dr. Pepper has 23 flavors!

Cap'n N: [dryly] Yes, and they're all varying shades of "crap."

PigPen: [disgustedly] Coke is just all carbonation.

Cap'n N: [shrugs] And I like it that way.

PigPen: [still disgusted] Ugh. It tastes like copper pennies. Dirty copper pennies.

Cap'n N: [grins] And Dr. Pepper tastes like bad cough medicine.

Both shake their heads at the other's obstinacy and retreat to plan the next salvo in the Great Cola Debate of '06
END SCENE


This has been a brief excerpt from "The Boys of Benjiman Street," playing daily at the Benjiman Street Duplex in Denton. No two shows are exactly the same!

3 comments:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Digging-est Dog

Back when I was a little kid, one of my favorite books was The Digging-est Dog, about a family who was at the end of their rope because the family dog did nothing but dig 24-7. I'm pretty sure that if I were to read that book now, I would not be nearly as amused. And not just because I'm now in my 30s and so books aimed at 4-5 year olds don’t quite hold the same impact they once did; no, it's also because I am currently living the book, with The Anti-Cap'n's puppy, Jake, in the lead role.

It all started a few days after we moved into the new place and I noticed Jake pawing furiously at the ground next to the fence separating our yard from our neighbors' yard and their (rather large) dog. Right now the fence doesn't reach all the way down to the ground all the way around the yard; there's a good stretch where the gap between the fence posts and the ground is blocked only by a series of stakes. I didn't think too much of it at the time, since Jake is a pretty big dog already, and I didn't think there was anyway he'd be able to squeeze through. However, the next day I glance out and noticed that he had been able to pull up stakes and dig in the rain-softened ground enough that he was poked through to the other side up to his neck. I hollered at him to get his attention, and then The A.C. wedged a large chunk of wood into the hole, and we figured that was that.

The next day, there was a knock at the front door from our neighbor. He introduced himself and then asked if we had a German Shepherd puppy. I said yes, my roommate did, and he responded "Well, he's over in our yard playing with our dog Zander." Sure enough, a quick glance in our backyard showed that Jake had discovered another section of fence where the stakes were easily uprooted and had industriously burrowed his way through to his new playmate's territory. We retrieved Jake, and PigPen barricaded the second hole, saying that he would call our landlord and ask him about doing something about the fence issue.

The following Sunday morning I was actually running on time for church for once and was reviewing my Sunday School lesson when I heard Jake whining outside. Now, Jake whining is not an unusual occurrence, but this was a bit louder than usual, so I looked out back, scanning the yard for a minute before finally locating Jake's head poking out from under the fence. It seems he had found yet another weak spot in the defenses, had escaped into Zander's yard, but then got himself stuck trying to come back through. Since neither PigPen nor The A.C. were home, it fell to me to extricate him from his predicament, which resulted in me receiving minor nips, scratches, and lots of mud on my clothes.

Oh, and I stepped in dog crap.

By this point I was running late for church, so I hastily cobbled together a makeshift barrier from the uprooted stakes, hoping that it would slow him down long enough for us to make a more permanent solution, then rushed inside, cleaned off my shoe, changed my muddy clothes, and raced to church. Later when I returned home, I found the following note taped to our front door:

"Hi! Jake decided to come over and play with Zander again. We let them play together for a while, and then let Jake back in to your yard through the gate. We knocked and rang the doorbell, but nobody answered."

Shaking my head, I first went to the back door and confirmed that my makeshift barrier had been a bit too much "shift" and not nearly enough "make." However, Jake had apparently worn himself out playing and was taking a nap on our porch. I then took the note upstairs and taped it on The A.C.'s door. After he saw it, he headed out back and used the posts which had formed the border of the backyard flower bed to block off a lengthy section of the fence. The A.C. then headed out to Cap'n Bumper's place to watch the Cowboys' game and made sure I knew that he was taking Jake over there with him, so I wouldn't think that the hound Houdini had performed another disappearing act. His assurance seemed unnecessary, since a quick survey of the area seemed to indicate that we had finally blocked off all possible areas of egress.

We, of course, were wrong.

Once again, I was the lucky one who discovered our pooch trying to make a break for it. This time it was early yesterday morning, right before I headed to work. Up until this time, Jake had been systematically moving to the right of the initial hole, but with that particular stretch stymied, he had moved to the left, plowing through the plant cover which had made that section seem more solid than it was. When I saw him he had not yet managed to squeeze through, but it was only a matter of time. I wearily proceeded outside and looked around the yard for an effective means of stopping up the latest breach. Over in the opposite corner of the yard I found a big blue metal . . . well, I don't know what it is exactly, all I know is that it was big enough and heavy enough that Jake wasn't going to be able to move it, so I plugged up the latest in a long line of holes and hoped against hope that this would be the end of it.

Of course, when I got him last night, I saw that Jake had found yet another gap to attack; however, I think we might be okay for now, since this gap was between the big metal blockade and the original hunk of wood blockade, and doesn't look anywhere near wide enough for him to squeeze his body through.

Then again, I have been wrong before

3 comments:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

TV Tues. - A New Season Begins

Haven’t had one of these for a while, have we? But the new season is gearing up, so you can expect a return to form here as well.

Bones: With all the hustle and bustle of moving into the new place, I completely forgot to set up my VCR to tape the season premiere of Bones, and therefore missed out on the introduction of the new boss, which is too bad, since getting thrown into the strained dynamic between her and Bones in the second episode made it hard for me to gauge what the character is really like. I did enjoy the moment where the new gal had to take a moment to accept that Bones had absolutely no clue what the significance of her “rocks” comment was.

Standoff: New drama about a couple of FBI negotiators who are not only partners at work, but romantically involved as well. I have to say, the ads for this one did absolutely nothing for me, and most of the pre-season buzz was fairly negative, but since there wasn’t much on the night of the premiere, I decided to give it a whirl. At first, I was pleasantly surprised; the writing wasn’t too bad, the interplay between most of the characters was entertaining, and it turned out to star not only whatshisname but also the wonderful Gina Torres. Things were definitely looking up. And then, the romance angle broke out . . . and the show broke down. Seriously, anytime the plot moved into a scene about the stars’ relationship, the show ground to a screeching halt. Think that’s partially to blame on the writing, partially to blame on the conceit itself, but most of it falls on the fact that the couple has no chemistry. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Everyone who ever complained about the Buffy/Riley relationship being stale needs to give this show a watch, after which Buffy and Riley will seem like Dave and Maddy from Moonlighting (the early years, of course). There are lots of things a show can do to improve itself over time, but a complete and total lack of chemistry in the relationship which is supposed to be the driving focus of the show? That’s going to be tough to overcome, any way you slice it.

Justice: Yet another legal drama, only this one has a couple of twists on the usual formula. The first twist is to end each episode by showing what actually happened in the case, so that the audience can see if the jury’s verdict was right or not. The other twist is to make almost all of the lawyers so greedy, loud, and over-the-top intense that they are impossible to enjoy watching. Victor Garber’s character is the worst culprit, since the only time he’s not screaming at his peons or clients is when he’s doing a press conference. I will admit to laughing once or twice at his curmudgeonly ways (in particular his views on dealing with a client’s family members), but in the long run I kept hoping that Kerr Smith (the only borderline likeable character so far) would just snap and pummel Victor unconscious to stop his constant haranguing.

Celebrity Duets: Not really proud of the fact that I’m watching this latest reality show experiment, but it could be worse: I could still be watching American Idol. For the most part I’ve found the bulk of the duets to be cringe-inducing, with the only consistent exception being Jai whathisname who has knocked it out of the park every time. I think Lucy Lawless has a great singing voice, but a great solo singing voice; it never meshes well with any of her partners. And I have no idea what the judges are smoking to keep praising Leah Thompson, whose voice sets my teeth on edge. At least, I think, Little Richard has been praising her, although to be honest, I have no idea what he’s babbling about at the best of times. It’s sad that people will now look back at his time on Hollywood Squares as on of the more coherent points of his career.

House: I never got into the whole House phenomenon before. I’d watched the very first episode, thought it was okay, but kind of routine, and since it was up against several other things I actually liked a lot, I never gave it a second thought. But a combination of The Anti-Cap’n’s love for the show and the fact that there was nothing else on I cared about last week meant I gave the season premiere a chance. Have to say, I liked it quite a bit; House is one heck of a flawed character, and I mean that in the best possible sense. None of the supporting cast clicked with me, which could make this one of those rare shows that I actually watch for the titular character . . . if I continue to watch, that is. Right now, signs point to “possibly maybe,” especially since there’s not a lot of competition on the schedule right now and, at the new place, I once again have regular cable which allows me to watch one channel while taping another! My multiple VCRs will go to waste no longer!

Stargate: SG-1: I’m still bummed that this is going to be the last season of SG-1, which I still find superior to Atlantis. The news that they’ll probably do some SG-1 tv-movies only slightly mitigates my disappointment. There’s a rumor that some of the SG-1 characters might move to Atlantis, which is interesting, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. Daniel would be the logical choice, since both Cam and Sam would be a bit redundant with Shepard and Rodney around, as would, to a lesser degree, Teal’c thanks to Ronan. There’s no solid Daniel analogue on Atlantis right now, and his character has been whining about not being allowed to go there for several seasons now, so his transplantation would seem a good fit. At the same time, I just don’t know how well Daniel would fit into the current Atlantis dynamic. The only other really viable candidate is Vala, but I think she fits even less into the Atlantis schema than Daniel. Personally, I would much rather see some sort of Vala-centric spin-off, especially after this last week’s Vala-heavy episode (and here you probably thought I wasn’t going to actually mention any episodes at all). Claudia Black’s highly comedic performance on SG-1 has been a constant joy, especially in light of her former dourness on Farscape. Honestly, at this point I don’t care what show she goes on, as long as I get my Claudia Black fix somewhere.

Prison Break: This show is testing my patience. They do get bonus points for killing off Veronica in the premiere, which took me by surprise, but lose those points and more for having the characters constantly acting like idiots. I’m a little too invested to completely write it off yet, especially since I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when T-Bag catches up with the rest of the gang, but unless they start tightening up the plots, the show is going to get dropped.

Vanished: Not to be confused with the similarly themed NBC series Kidnapped, this is a season-long look at the investigation to find a single missing person. On Vanished it’s a politician’s wife who apparently has a past filled with secrets. Two episodes in and, well, while I suppose I could conceivably care less about the show, I’d have to say probably not by much. As opposed to Kidnapped which I saw on the special promotional DVD available through Netflix a few weeks back.

’Til Death: Fairly by-the-numbers sitcom about a jaded married couple and their newlywed neighbors. A few lines here and there made me laugh, but it’s just so danged sitcomy that I don’t see it staying on my “must see” list.

Happy Hour: This one has gotten a pretty big drubbing by the critics, and I agree that it’s not going to win any awards for comedic excellence, but I saw a few flashes of potential here and there. However, the uber-bitca fiancé of the “old” Brad did not amuse, only annoy, and will probably be enough to get me to stop watching the show fairly quickly.

Trailer Park Boys Seasons 1-2: Canadian comedy series which is probably best described as a mockumentary version of Cops, only told from the P.O.V. of the white trash criminals. Pooh’s Canadian boss has mentioned this series to her, and she and Zinger passed the word on to me, thinking it sounded like something I would like. When I first read the description, I thought the same thing; after watching the first couple of episodes, I began to have second thoughts. But, this is exactly why I usually give TV shows at least three episodes to hook me, because by the time the third ep had run, the show had started to find its rhythm, and by the beginning of the second season, it was firing on all cylinders. I think one of the problems I had with the early episodes was that it was obviously one of those “improvised dialogue” shows, and the cast didn’t seem really all that comfortable operating in that mode. Over time, their delivery and self-consciousness dissipated, and the characters started to engage, rather than annoy, me. I’m about a third of the way through Season 3, and the show has continued to improve. I’m now looking forward to the in-the-works big-screen version.

Blackstar: So, who out there remembers Blackstar? Nobody? Not surprising; it was a relatively short-lived cartoon on CBS in 1981 produced by Filmation, the folks who would later be responsible for the He-Man cartoon series. After recently clearing up some legal issues, quite a few of the old Filmation series have been getting the DVD treatment, and Blackstar is one of the first that I’ve been curious enough to rent. I figured it wouldn’t be anything too stellar (few of the cartoons from that time frame are), but the siren call of nostalgia and morbid curiosity compelled me to give it a whirl. The verdict? Man, what a stinker. Oh, there were some positives, like an interesting design sense, but really the show is one that is much more enjoyable when given the MST3K treatment, as PigPen* and I demonstrated while watching the only two episodes I got through. The worst offense of the series was the inclusion of the “trobbits,” seven dwarfish characters who were primarily there for the sake of hostage fodder and comic relief. Interesting sidenote on the trobbits: originally they were colored blue, but the production staff kind of had to change that after word of this other animated series debuting in 1981 about miniature blue creatures . . . In terms of unintentional comedy, probably the highlight for me was the way that the animators were endlessly fascinated by showing character reaction shots. There were times when a minute or two would pass by with no dialogue, as the camera cut back and forth and zoomed in and out on the horrified grimaces of characters; you’d think the voice actors were getting paid by the word or something. I also swear that when making the second episode one of the production staff was trying to win a bet about cramming as many stock sound effects into a single half hour as humanly possible; pretty sure he won it. Anyway, two episodes was enough to satisfy my craving for a Blackstar fix, so I sent it back. Now I’m just hoping that I get a copy of the Space Sentinels/Freedom Fighters DVD soon. I’m sure it will be just as cheesy (if not more so), but I am a bit of a glutton for punishment.

*That would be the new nickname for Cap’n Red.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

What Are the Odds?

Last Thursday I made me last trip to Biz-Z's place to get the last bit of junk and do a final bout of cleaning before turning in my housekey. While heading out to my car with a load of stuff, I opened up the door into the garage only to be greeted by the one sight that always moves me . . . to terror.

Yes, that's right, planted right in the middle of Biz-Z's garage was a strange dog, barking its fool head off at me, while its adolescent owner was sitting on her Big Wheel on the sidewalk half-heartedly calling "C'mon, Yappie, c'mon."

Luckily, Yappie wasn't really all that aggressive, and was quickly distracted by something else outside and ran afer it, with his lackadaisacal owner still planted firmly on her stationary Big Wheel.

Now, while it was nowhere near as terrifying as my surprise dog experience my first day in the house, my encounter with Yippee did serve as an interesting little "freaked out by strange dog" bookend to my time in the Biz-Z household.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

L.P.

Back when I was living in Parker Hall there was a 2nd floor resident who some of us thought of as The "Hey" Guy because, for the first year and a half we lived there, that's pretty much all we heard him say. You'd be walking to class, pass him on the sidewalk, and have your presence acknowledged by a mini shooting gesture accompanied by his trademark, low-key "Hey." Compared to him, I was practically an exhibitionist. But one day something happened to change all that. You see, The "Hey" Guy got sick. Really sick. Not cancer sick, or Ebola sick, but definitely brainmelting fever, ER visit, and brain fogging meds sick. Don't know if it was the illness, the meds, or the one-two combo, but suddenly midway through the Spring semester of Sophomore year, The "Hey" Guy's inner extrovert spoke up . . . and it wouldn't shut up. Not moving in the same social circle as The "Hey" Guy, I'm not sure how long his newly unleashed personality had been in effect before word began to spread that the quiet guy wasn't quite so quiet anymore.

The question you're probably asking yourself is "How exactly did the change manifest itself?" Well, okay, maybe not that exact question, but something similar, right? Well, I think the best way to describe it is that it was like the fever and meds had combined to knock out the portion of his brain that acted as a censor. If a thought popped into his head, odds were good it was coming out to his mouth. The prime example of this was when I got to hear him go into horrifyingly explicit detail as to how the illness affected his bodily functions, oblivious to the protestations of most people around that no, it was okay, they really didn't need to hear about his difficulties urinating, thanks. To this day I regret that I wasn't in his Speech class that semester; from all reports, following a particularly out there presentation, his professor was almost convinced the he had either had a nervous breakdown or become a meth-head -- possibly both. But while I did miss out on that, there were some other examples of the altered "Hey” Guy that I got to witness firsthand, since, in his newly outgoing state, he was spending quite a bit of time hanging out with the usual Lounge Lizards.

The "Hey" Guy's explosion of exhibitionism coincided with a visit from Flunky Lover's younger brother, who was a bit of a skater punk at the time. His presence elicited the confession from The "Hey" Guy that in high school he had dabbled in skateboarding. However, his attitude towards his former hobby was a bit defeatist, with him proclaiming dejectedly that he was never any good, and had been (and I quote) just a "lamer poser. A lamer, poser, loser punk." And thus was The "Hey" Guy transformed into L.P. The revelation that L.P. had once been a pseudo-skater was trumped by the fact that during this conversation L.P. suddenly bolted upstairs, returning moments later with his skateboard in tow. We were then treated to a demonstration of his lamer poser loser punkness in the Parker parking lot.

The other big thing I remember from this time was when the emboldened L.P., freed of his inhibitions, got up the nerve to ask Coronela out on a date. As part of the date they rented The Lion King, which I remember for two reasons. First, neither of them had a Hastings card, so they had to borrow mine. And the second, more striking reason, is that partway through the movie L.P. turned to her and said "You know, you can call me Simba if I can call you Nala."

Coronela, of course, declined.

As time went on, people began to question how much of L.P.'s behavior really stemmed from the meds, and how much was just him taking advantage of an opening to say and do whatever he wanted with no worries about the consequences. I think it was probably a pretty even mix of the two, but regardless it wasn't too long before L.P. settled back into a slightly more normal mode of behavior. But while his mental censor was repaired, the former shell from behind which he previously flung his "hey"s was, if not totally demolished, at least reduced in strength. L.P. would never spend as much time among the Lounge Lizards as he did during those days of fever-driven freedom, but his time as The Hey Guy was a thing of the past. I don't know if I'd recommend mind-warping illness as a tool for all quiet folks wanting to break out of their shells, but I can't deny its effectiveness.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Movie Mon. - Disparate Housewives

Didn't get much watched this past week due to (a) lots of moving of stuff; (b) lots of reading of books; and (c) lots of playing of Halo 2. But, here's what little I did manage to squeeze in.

Capricorn One: Late 70s thriller about a group of astronauts forced to fake a Mars landing, only to find themselves in danger of being bumped off when the shuttle used in the hoax burns up on reentry. Early on I was impressed with just how well the movie held up after almost 30 years, but by the time we reached the "astronauts must escape or else be killed" point, the film began to show its age. Which is not to say it was bad; it just slipped a little here and there. My biggest annoyance with the film was the reporter character played by Elliot Gould, whose behavior didn't really seem to fit with that of a man who has found himself almost killed multiple times by members of a huge conspiracy. "Let's see, my good friend has disappeared like he never existed, my car was tampered with, people have tried to shoot me, so what should I do now . . . I know, I'll go to my apartment and sit around idly waiting for government agents to come and take me away. It's brilliant!" *sigh*

Friends With Money: Comedy about a three well-off couples and their not-so-well-off friend. I rented this movie because of the cast: Frances McDormand, Joan Cusack, and Catherine Keener are three of my favorite actresses. But despite a great cast, this movie never really clicked for me. Perhaps it was my inability to buy Jennifer Anniston as a down-at-he-luck pothead; maybe it was the fact that at no time did we ever find out how these four disparate women became friends; or it could have been that I just wasn't in the mood to watch a movie about people's lives self-destructing. I do want to give the film props for not going the clichéd route with the metrosexual husband; yes, he's essentially the big-screen version of the old SNL skit "Lyle the Effeminate Heterosexual," but it's refreshing to see a movie which has a character displaying stereotypical qualities without making the character into the stereotype. Again, not a bad movie, but a big ol' sense of "been there, done that" pervaded most of it.

Straight Into Darkness: Low-budget movie about a couple of American deserters during WWII who stumble across a band of guerrillas comprised almost entirely of mentally and physically disabled children. An odd film, but entertaining.

Friday the 13th: A New Beginning: I stumbled across this 5th installment in the franchise on cable the other night and felt compelled to watch it, since I hadn't seen it since my initial viewing over 20 years ago. While Cap'n Red and I were discussing where this one was in the series, I realized that this had been the last installment I actually saw before I broke down and rented Jason Goes to Hell out of morbid curiosity. After watching the film, I realized exactly why I'd stopped watching the series: man, was this one a stinker. Overly predictable and cliché-ridden (at least 4 separate examples of "tripping while running through the woods"), this z-grade movie isn't good for anything other than making fun of. However, it is excellent fodder for mockery, and the viewing of it was, sadly, probably the highlight of my movie watching this week.

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