Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Texting Tuesday, or "Laziness, Thy Name is Neurotic"

As I mentioned before, TopGun and I are doing the P90X workouts now. Because his work schedule is all over the place, we've decided to do our workouts first thing in the morning, which has lead to much zed-word-like behavior from yours truly in the evenings as I adjust to the new schedule. But it's also been the foundation of some mildly amusing texted conversations between my roomie and myself, which I now post here in lieu of having to come up with new material for a post.

First up: a conversation generated by one of many instances of me cursing TopGun's name on behalf of my sore muscles following a workout.

Me: Today's cursing of your name comes courtesy of my biceps, which were apparently sulking quietly yesterday but are now ready to voice their discontent
TopGun: I love it! I read your blog introducing me. I was not impressed with myself at all! :)
Me: So, was that a compliment from The Gray Man, or a complaint from TopGun/Showboater . . .
TopGun: A bit of both my friend! I like to be impressive but not brag about it! :)
Me: Humbly impressive, got it. I'll be sure to work that into the cast page entry I'm working on as we speak
On the second day of our early morning workout plan, I woke up to find a text from TopGun saying he wasn't feeling well, so he was giving me a break that morning. However, since I was already up, I decided to go ahead and work out by myself.

Me: Worst thing about this morning was I had no one to curse but myself. You made me curse my own name, TopGun, and for that, I curse you ;)
Me: Biggest regret of the morning: when you said you were nauseous, I should have said "I know you're scared you might throw up, but you gotta risk it for the biscuit!"*
TopGun: I must work out when I get home tonight.
Me: Damn straight you must, slacker!
TopGun: That word is prohibidabidibido!**
Me: Hehehehehe. I'm just saying . . .***
The next day, we were both back in the early-morning workout saddle

TopGun: Man, I'm tired
Me: You and me both, brother, you and me both.
TopGun: I worked hard this morning, why are [you] tired?****
Me: Trust me, putting up with you is enough to wear anybody out. Jackass***** LOL
TopGun: Shut up Todd. My feelings are in pain. Jerk wad. That's right! I called you a jerk wad. Take it, eat it, put that in your pipe and smoke it! :)
Me: Can't . . . breathe . . . laughing . . . too hard . . . you win this round, TopGun. Well played. Double Jackass :)
TopGun: Yes! I am so doing the running man in my head right now in honor of this victory!
Finally, a conversation that started when I decided to let him know that the dumbbells he had ordered for the workout had arrived, along with something extra.

Me: Your weights arrived, and you got a package from your mom. All I got were bills. You win again, TopGun!
TopGun: Not everything is a competition Todd geez!
Me: That's not what PigPen says . . . ;)
TopGun: But, even still, if we had to pick a winner for this situation, I guess it would be me . . . so I accept the victory!
Me: How gracious of you :)
Okay, that's enough of that; maybe next time I'll have actual content here.

*We had just watched Fired Up the evening before, and that was one of the lines we had been quoting back and forth.
**As was that one
***And that one as well; what can I say, FU was much more quotable than expected
****Yes, he left out the "you" in his text, so it took me a second to realize that I had just been insulted.
*****I'd like to remind all you blog monkeys that, to me, Jackass is practically a term of endearment


Monday, June 22, 2009

A New Plateau

No Movie Monday post today, although I will say that Fired Up was a heck of a lot funnier than I expected; instead, we have what will probably be the first in what I have a feeling will be a long, long series of posts in the new "TopGun and I giving each other crap" genre because, well, we both enjoy giving each other crap.

Earlier tonight while flipping through the channels, I happened upon an episode of COPS. I turned to TopGun and mentioned how it was one of Cap'n Shack-Fu's favorite shows. TopGun said he rarely watched it, and I replied that neither did I, except when Shack-Fu was around and forced it upon me. I related how when he would come over to the house to watch TV and I'd flip past an episode he would start pestering me to change the channel back; I also related that my quickness to respond to his request was proportional to how much I felt like picking a fight with him. I then did a nicely exaggerated imitation of Shack-Fu's threats, followed by the statement "and then he'd kick my butt and watch COPS after all."

"So, he's just a bully," deadpanned TopGun. "Beats you up, then forces you to watch a show that you didn't want to watch. He's just a user, man."

"You're right," I replied. "I'm going to call him up right now and tell him he's a user. And then, he'll raise my rent. And then I'll tell him that you said it first, and he'll raise yours too."

"That's ok," he said with no hesitation, "I'll just beat you up and make you pay my half too.

That caught me off guard and cracked me up; when I stopped laughing I said "You know, that's the first time you've actually threatened to beat me up; we just reached a new plateau in our friendship!"

I hope PigPen and Shack-Fu don't get jealous.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Fragmented Fri - Five Posts in One Week? That's Unpossible!

  • When I was starting to get the blogging bug again last week, I made sure to ask TopGun if he minded me writing about him, what with him being a Grey Man and all; his response was that he would be honored to be included in my ramblings. Poor, naive fool had no idea what he was getting himself into, did he?

  • One thing I neglected to mention in last Friday's Shack-Fu-centric post was the conversation I had with him when I got back to Texas following my Virginia trip. I called him up to see how he was doing, since he had left out super-early that morning to drive from Quantico to Denton. When I asked if he was on schedule, he replied that he had been for a while, but now was having to make up some time. Anyone want to guess what had delayed him? If you said "saw an accident and stopped to help," then you've obviously either met Shack-Fu or read this blog before.

  • Sometime during TopGun's first week at the house, I was talking about my roughhousing around with PigPen and Shack-Fu and the subsequent injuries and made a crack about how for some reason my best friends always try to kill me. He responded that I didn't have to worry about that with him, going on to explain that he only uses violence on those who deserve it. My response at the time was that PigPen would probably say that I did deserve it, but if the conversation had taken place just a week later, when I was fully comfortable giving TopGun a hard time, I would have instead used the first response that popped into my head at the time, cutting him off after the first half of his statement with a wounded "You mean we're not going to be best friends, TopGun?" with maybe some puppy dog eyes and a quivering lip thrown in for good measure. Hate to have missed that opportunity.

  • In my jiu-jitsu class on Monday I managed to submit somebody twice, with two different submission moves, even. The first was a North-South arm triangle choke which has become sort of my go-to move from side control, and one of the few moves I can catch people in on a semi-regular basis; the second was a kimura, administered while he had me in half-guard, which was quite an achievement for me because I always mess up my arm placement when I go for that. Anyway, a nice little ego boost for me; always nice to feel like I'm not perpetually the lowest man on the totem pole.

  • Midway through last week I got a text from TopGun asking me if I would call up an exterminator, as my roomie had had some extra protein in his cereal that morning courtesy of the ants which had infiltrated the box. After asking around, I decided to first try the liquid ant bait traps that Zinger suggested; within a day of setting them out, the kitchen infestation vanished. However, last night TopGun was assaulted by a couple in his room; apparently they know he was the one who ratted them out and were taking their sweet revenge on him.

  • Saturday morning I was being my usual lazy self, lying in bed and wondering if I should get up or not, when I heard the front door open, followed by the sound of TopGun talking to someone else in the living room. Curious, I got up and moved towards my bedroom door, whose handle started to turn. By that point I had recognized the other voice, and so I whipped open the door just as PigPen was starting to stick his ginger dome in. Turns out he had been driving back from crashing at a friend's house, and was passing through Denton when he was struck by hunger and decided to come see if TopGun and I wanted to go grab some breakfast. Thank heavens I was awake; I'd hate to think what evil things might have befallen me otherwise.

  • Figured I should share an example of TopGun's smartassery towards me so you don't all feel sorry for him for all the pot-shots I've taken at him so far. As we were driving to breakfast on Saturday, PigPen and I were talking about our rappelling trips* and PigPen was trying to remember who all went on our first trip. I said it was just him, Shack-Fu, and myself; he said he could have sworn there was a girl with us; TopGun piped up from the backseat "No, that was Todd."

  • Shack-Fu gave me a call on Sunday afternoon, and when I asked how he was doing he said he was doing all right, although he was horribly sore. When I asked why he was sore, he responded "Oh, had a bit of a crash the other day." My first thought: not the Challenger! He then went on to explain that he had crashed his bike and scraped himself up pretty bad; when I told him what my initial thought had been, he responded that if he had crashed the Challenger, I wouldn't have been hearing from him, as he would have had to have killed himself.

  • As I mentioned in my last post, despite only having known TopGun for a little over a month, I have felt unusually comfortable just being myself around him -- this, of course, has lead to me feeling compelled to explain to him several of my neurotic tendencies and try to prepare him for what storms may come. Honestly, I think I might need to just type up a pamphlet: "So You're Going to Be Todd's Friend: 10 Neuroses, Quirks, and Idiosyncrasies to Watch Out For.**" I'm sure it would come in very handy.

  • Last Sunday I got a call from my old pal Papa Lightbulb, who I rarely get to talk to these days since his family moved to Houston. They were in town, and I had seen them briefly after church but hadn't gotten a chance to visit, so wasn't totally surprised to get the call, but wasn't expecting the question he asked: "What can you tell me about Red Tornado?" Seems his son had just gotten a Red Tornado action figure at the store, and had asked Papa L. to call me up for the 411 on the character, since he knew I had been the source of primo Green Lanter intel a few months back. I weighed the pros and cons of illuminating the Lightbulb boys on Reddy's convoluted history, but finally settled for "He's a robot who controls the wind, can fly and blast people," thus maintaining my place as "useful comic geek" and not "horribly pedantic ubergeek." And yes, we did visit about other things besides comic book characters after that; man, I sure do miss Clan Lightbulb.

  • A few weeks back, TopGun let slip the date of his birthday to Slick (formerly MeiMei), and has regretted it ever since, as Slick has been pestering our resident Gray Man about how he wants to celebrate, and won't take "I'd rather just be totally ignored and not have anyone acknowledge my existence" for an answer.

  • At the beginning of the month I travelled to Asheville, NC for the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) Annual Conference. Sounds thrilling, doesn't it? It was actually pretty cool in a way, since most of the other conferences I've gone to for work have not had a whole lot of relevance to my job, whereas this conference was directed precisely at people who do what I do. Kinda nice. Plus, while exploring the streets of Asheville one night, we happened upon a drum circle and a huge mosh pit of college kids dancing wildly to primitive beats; don't get to see much of that around here.

  • The one down side to attending conferences is that they force me to try to get outside myself and meet new people, not exactly my forte. After my first night, I instigate the following texting conversation with fellow wallflower TopGun.
    Me: Now I remember why I hate going to conference: MINGLING.
    Him: I'm about to start a workout then just hang out. No mingling for me!
    Me: Just for that, I'm throwing you the biggest birthday party in the history of the Singles department. Mingle *that* bucko!
    Him: Hahaha! You clever bastard!
    Yes, this is definitely the beginning of a beautifully smartassed friendship***
*Okay, actually we were talking about Taco Casa, but that required talking about rappelling.
**Oh, who am I kidding? I could come up with at least 25.****
***Last weekend when TopGun and I were synching up our smartass natures to pester Slick, she looked at us and said "You guys just feed off of each other, don't you?" We both instantly went into wounded innocence "I don't know what you're talking about!" mode . . . I don't think she was fooled.
***Crap; I am now seriously thinking about what my list of 25 things would be. Thanks a lot, creativity-driven borderline-OCD, thanks a lot!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Move Over, Li'l Random, There's a New "Grey Man" In Town!

At the beginning of May, another poor soul found himself subjected to the psychological torture that is being my roommate. I learned pretty early on that TopGun shares Li'l Random's desire to be the Grey Man and fade into the background; so, naturally, I'm doing a special spotlight post all about him.

When I moved into Shack-Fu's house last November, the arrangement was that after he finished the academy and moved out, I would search for someone to rent out the extra room, a process I wasn't really looking forward to. So, when Shack-Fu called me to say that a friend of his was going to be moving to the area and needed a place to live, I was more than happy accept the excuse to avoid the roommate interview process for a bit longer. I was a bit leery about having someone I'd never met move in; I figured that the Shack-Fu Seal of Approval meant he'd be a stand-up guy, but that didn't necessarily mean that our personalities would mesh well. After all, when I asked Shack about my future roomie, he told me "he reminds me a lot of you, actually," and, well, let's face it: historically I have not always been my favorite person -- luckily, while TopGun and I have discovered some similarities, none have been of the overly-neurotic nature.

One personality trait that we discovered in common on his first night in town was that we are both people who don't do so well being thrust into new groups of people, and both tend to keep to ourselves in the beginning until we get a good sense of the group. Being cognizant of that, I tried hard to be a bit more outgoing in our initial conversations, in order to overcome the awkward zone. Luckily, we found our own ice breaking commonality pretty easily -- swapping Shack-Fu stories. And while that definitely opened up avenues of conversation, I think our burgeoning friendship really began to gel when Shack-Fu came back into town for a week. TopGun and I had been getting along pretty well, but I think the presence of our mutual friend made us both a little more comfortable letting our true selves show, and I quickly discovered another common bond: the bond of smartassery. Granted, thanks to his generally laid-back persona, TopGun's brand of smartass behavior is a bit more dry and deadpan than what I've grown accustomed to after the past few years of hanging out with The Lovable PigPen and Cap'n Peanut, but as they say, variety is the spice of life.

However, while we do have some traits in common, there are also some pretty big differences. First of all there's the whole "Grey Man" thing; as I've noted before, although I am prone to Cap'n Cellophane moments, I actually kind of like being the center of attention. TopGun, on the other hand, is not likely to perform a humorous interp in front of his co-workers or dance his fool head off at a New Year's Eve party or sing the Popular song in a crowded restaurant. But at least that's a fairly innocuous difference, and not one that's likely to cause many problems; some of the other differences though . . . I mean, look, I'm a pretty tolerant guy for the most part, but even I have my limits. Seriously; rooming with a laid-back, self-motivated, productive person who eats healthy food and works out every day? It makes me shudder just to think about it! I frequently accuse him of only working out so diligently because he's trying to shame me into getting off of my butt and doing something, and have threatened to make his nickname "Showoff" of "Showboater"; even worse, it's actually worked -- he's got me to agree to do the P90X program with him. I think he may have gotten some mental-manipulation tips from Count Shackula

All kidding aside, I'm very surprised at how quickly I've felt comfortable just being myself around him; as all the loyal blog monkeys know, it usually takes me several months before I let down my guard around new folks. Whether my new-found openness is a product of our personalities clicking just right, or my feeling generally more comfortable with myself than I used to, or something else entirely, I don't know; whatever the reason, I'm glad that I've been able to bypass most of my neurotic hangups and just let the real Todd manifest, and even more glad that getting to know the real Todd has not sent him off running, screaming into the night.

Then again, it's early days yet -- it took PigPen at least a couple of months of rooming with me to start plotting my death . . .

Welcome to the roller-coaster ride that is being my friend, TopGun; hope your sanity survives the experience.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Written Word Wed - So, I'm Slightly Better Read Now . . Slightly

Several months back, I filled out one of those "how many of these books have you read?" surveys on Facebook, once again confirming that in terms of The Classics I'm a pretty poorly read English major, having read only 27 of 100. I asked for suggestions for which of the 73 unread books I should tackle; these are the ones I've gotten to so far.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon: Suggested by a friend of PigPen and Cap'n Peanut. Story told from the P.O.V. of an autistic teenager who becomes fixated on solving the mystery of who killed his neighbor's dog. Really enjoyable book, which I have since heard referenced by at least three different people in different situations.

The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
: The one book from the list that I decided on all by my lonesome because the synopsis caught my attention. Story of a book-dealer's son who is introduced to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where he is tasked to select a book at random to become a caretaker for; his choice is The Shadow of the Wind, a choice which will have huge implications as a shadowy figure begins to stalk him -- a shadowy figure reminiscent of the book's version of the devil. And that just barely scratches the surface of the many plot threads suffusing the book; sometimes funny, sometimes maudlin, but always engaging.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck:
Suggested by Redneck Diva, who wanted to know what was wrong with me that I hadn't read it yet. To be honest, I had never read any Steinbeck before this one, mainly due to my mother's long-standing dislike of his work filtering down to me. However, I found that I enjoyed this tragic tale quite a bit. Enough to try some of Steinbeck's other work? We shall see.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen:
Read this one largely thanks to Flunky Lover's prodding, although I have to admit that the then-upcoming release of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies helped encourage my decision. Out of the books I read for this little exercise, this was by far my least favorite; I can see why people enjoy it, and there were sections that amused me greatly -- particularly any scene with Lady Catherine -- but overall, the plot's focus on Lizzy misinterpreting Darcy's motives and actions just wore me down. Yes, you can add that to the list of things that I don't particularly care for in my fiction: misinterpreted actions. All in all I'm glad I read it, though -- it made Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that much more enjoyable when I read it a month or so later.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving: Suggested by Cap'n Disaster and one of my co-workers. My favorite of the books listed here, this novel is the story of Owen Meany, whose brilliant mind is stuck in an underdeveloped body, a fact that doesn't keep Owen from deciding that he is a servant of God with a special mission to fulfill. I think I would have to do a full-blown review to really do justice to this book; suffice it to say that the Christmas pageant sequence in the book was one of the funniest things I've ever read, and that I really wish I could have used part of it for a prose piece back in my Competitive Speech days -- although, how I ever could have done justice to Owen's voice, I couldn't possibly tell you. Anyway, highly recommend this one to any and all.

And that's it so far; I plan on picking up one of the complete Sherlock Holmes collections next time I'm on campus, since Coronela has been championing those stories for almost as long as I've known her. But after that, it'll be time to ask for more suggestions.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TV Tues - Ups and Downs

Again, just trying to keep the blogging momentum going, so just some general TV thoughts.

First, things that have made me happy

  • Better Off Ted is one of the funniest shows to come down the pike in a long time; I did a big dance of joy when it was renewed
  • Did smaller joy-dances when Castle, Dollhouse, and Chuck were renewed.
  • Did a much bigger joy-dance when word came down that Futurama is coming back on the air with 26 new episodes, courtesy of Comedy Central.
  • Am beyond happy that the new season of Wipeout has started; can't go wrong with the continual proof of my favorite adage: "People getting hit in the face -- always funny. Always."
  • The penultimate season of Lost started off really strong, lost its way just a tad towards the end, but ended with a massive mind-frak that makes me want it to be 2010 right now so I can see how it all ends
  • Best late night comedy sketch in quite a while: Twitter Tracker!

Things that made me not quite so happy
  • Cancellations of Pushing Daisies, The Unusuals, and My Name is Earl.
  • Continuing decline of Heroes, which not even the return of Bryan Fuller could help
  • Lackluster reboot of Cupid; the original version with Jeremy Piven and Paula Marshall was filled with rapid fire wit and incredible chemistry -- the reboot fell short on both counts, despite too leads I like a lot.
  • Parks and Recreation, the lackluster new show from the creators of The Office. Can't believe just how bland and uninteresting the show is.
Maybe next week I'll get back into more timely reviews . . . maybe


Monday, June 15, 2009

Movie Mon. - Drag Me to FUN!

Just a handful of reviews, to keep the blogging momentum rolling

The Burrowers: Entertaining horror-Western about a rescue party who sets out to save some missing settlers from Indians, only to discover that the settlers were taken by something far more dangerous. Solid script is enhanced by a talented cast (including two of my favorite character actors, Clancy Brown and Doug Hutchison) and the novelty of the monsters and their m.o. Recommended for horror fans.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop: Kevin James stars as an over-weight mall security officer who takes it upon himself to pull a John McClane when the mall is taken over by a band of crooks who take the girl of his dreams hostage. Not one I was looking forward to seeing -- the commercials did absolutely nothing for me -- but had heard enough positive word of mouth that I decided to give it a try. Not one I'm going to be watching again any time soon, and it had a few "Oh, come on!" moments that made me cringe, but over all, better than I had been expecting.

Defiance: Historical drama about the Bielskis, a group of Jewish brothers (played by Jamie Bell, Liev Schreiber, and Daniel Craig) who banded together to protect a community of Jewish refuges in the forests of Russia during WWII. Liked this one; interesting look at a facet of the war that I had never really heard about before.

Darkon: Documentary about a community of Live Action Role Players (or LARPers) who take part in the shared world known as Darkon

Some people will watch this and spend their whole time laughing at the dork in chainmail with padded swords; I confess to doing that a bit, but mainly aimed at those who take it so danged seriously that they can't separate relationships between characters in the game from relationships with the people playing the characters in real life. At the same time, the film shows multiple people who have used the game of Darkon as a way of improving their social skills in a way that benefits them in the real world, and it's much harder to laugh this hobby off when taken in that light. Either way, a fascinating film.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons: Excellent film about a strange boy who was born an old man, and ages backwards . . . kind of like Mearth from Mork and Mindy only a bit more attractive to the lady folk. Great writing, great directing, great performances; an off-beat movie, but one that I think can still hold great appeal to more mainstream audiences.

Drag Me to Hell!: A return to the horror genre from Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi filled with the sort of horror-comedy moments that made him a bit of a cult figure in the first place, DMtH is the story of a young bank loan officer who is stricken with a terrible curse which will doom her soul to hell. Saw this one with Li'l Brother, and we both loved it; at one point early on, he leaned over to me and whispered "Are we the only ones laughing?" And, for the most part, I think we were, and nearly falling out of our seats while doing so; guess not everyone appreciates a good old-fashioned horror-comedy romp these days. So, not for everyone by a long shot, but if you're a fan of Raimi's early work, you should definitely give this a try.

Okay, that's it for now; I'll try to catch up on some other reviews next time around.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Fragmented Friday - Giant Goofball

Yes, I'm back; no, I haven't any good excuses; yes, I plan to post regularly again; no, I don't guarantee it. In order to kick-start the blogging process, I figured I'd devote today's posting to the one man who has provided me with more blogging fodder than anyone outside of The Lovable PigPen: everyone's favorite action hero, Cap'n Shack-Fu.

In my last Fragmented Friday post back in April, I mentioned that I would be heading up to Quantico for Shack-Fu's graduation from the academy. I had a really good trip; would have been a great trip except for this nagging little "couldn't get a decent night's sleep for almost a week and so was pretty out of it most of the time" issue

I will admit to getting a little teary eyed at the graduation, although it was at a sort of strange time; before the graduating cadets even came into the auditorium we got to watch a video about what people at the academy go through, and as I sat there watching it, thinking about all the struggles my best friend had to get through to get to that graduation day, well, I got a bit choked up. Was pretty much back in control by the time Shack and his classmates came in; at that point, all I felt was intense pride in Shack.

Probably the question I got asked most often right after I got back from the trip was if the academy had changed Shack-Fu any; initially my answer was "no." He seemed like the same giant goofball I'd known and loved like a brother for the last several years. But during the week I took off work to help him move, I did get to see that his time at the academy had taught him how to handle stressful situations better -- so, for example, when there was a huge miscommunication with the movers that took several days and several iterations of plans to straighten out, Shack handled it all with great patience and grace instead of turning into Disaster Mode Shack-Fu which, trust me, is never fun to be around. Still a giant goofball, though.

Speaking of changes, as I was riding with him a few hours after his graduation, I asked him if he felt any different; he responded that it hadn't really sunk in yet, and that he really just felt like he was breaking the law because he was going around in public fully armed. Within a week, though, he was so used to it that he felt awkward when he wasn't packing heat. Honestly, if there was any job tailor-made for my gun-loving buddy, it was this one.

During his all too brief time back in Denton getting things organized for his move up to OK, I encouraged him to cover as many of the usual Shack-Fu activities as possible, and I think he did a fairly good job: had at least one meal at each of the usual restaurants; did the usual work-out routine at the UNT gym; had a couple of Guys nights and a couple of All-Singles gatherings; went to the firing range with PigPen; organized a game of flashlight tag; used his inhuman powers of persuasion to make me play flashlight tag even though I don't care for the game; and last but certainly not least, kicked my butt in a wrestling match. All in all, a pretty action packed few days, but what else would you expect from Super-Shack?

About a week or so after graduation, Shack-Fu decided to reward himself for all his hard work by buying a new car -- this car, to be exact.
Yup, that's a limited edition, numbered, 2008 Dodge Challenger. You would not believe how many comments, double-takes, looks of lust and/or envy I witnessed during my brief time riding around with Shack in the new Shack-mobile. If nothing else, the car is definitely a conversation starter . . . because, y'know, Shack needs so much help with meeting new people, shy, retiring wallflower that he is . . .

Shack only stayed at Wicker Way one night during his time off, and that was pretty much just so he could pick up some stuff and head up to OK for his house-hunting trip. When he came back from house-hunting to move his stuff out, he actually stayed at Li'l Random's place. Why? Because a couple of days after Shack went on his house-hunting trip, my new roommate -- a friend of Shack-Fu's who just moved to the area for work, tentatively nicknamed TopGun -- moved in. Things were a bit cramped for a few days as TopGun moved in his stuff before Shack-Fu was able to move his out, but we seemed to manage okay.

I can't tell you how awesome it was to have Shack-Fu around again for most of a week; unfortunately, getting used to having him around again meant that I had to get used to not having him around all over again when he finally packed up the last of his things and drove off into the sunset in his shiny new car. Man, I really miss that giant goofball.