Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Videos

Happy Halloween and Boo from the Martins!

We had a good night. I took the girls around the neighborhood--Grace as a Witch and Sarah as a Cheerleader. I played the part of a friendly neighborhood wizard.

We wandered up and down cul-de-sacs and on both sides of the main road that we live on. It was a bit chilly, so I carried the girls jackets as well as Grace's witch hat that she kept taking off.

They had a good time, as almost all kids do on Halloween. They were very polite and didn't forget to say "Thank You" whenever they received any candy. But I noticed that they didn't say "Trick or Treat" very much. Perhaps they said it very quietly--I stayed on the sidewalk and let them go up to the main door, but it sometimes seems that that particular phrase is going out of fashion? At least I thought so until we all got home and the older kids were unfailingly saying it every time they came up to the house.

It was my custom in the past few years to sit on the porch and man the candy while Lynda shepherded the kids up and down the street. (That way I could keep up a running blog commentary on the kids that visited our door.) (You can read previous Halloween blogs by manipulating the Archive Calendar, situated to the right.)

But since Lynda was "heavy with child" she wanted to stay at the door and let me do all the walking. But we all joined forces in the end, each of us in our costumes, hanging out on the porch in the dark, feeling the sugar rush kick in and enjoying the night breezes.

You can see the evidence of our chocolate induced madness here:

and watch it head further downhill here.

Eventually we all came inside, turned off the lights, brushed our teeth twice, and hit the sack.

A good Halloween night for all. I hope your night was fun as well.

Suri Cruise must be allergic to nuts.

Emerald Nuts - Emerald Nuts: Robert Goulet

Posted Feb 04, 2007

Beware of Robert Goulet, for he will mess with your stuff once you fall asleep.

Sad news today. But a father has to protect his daughter.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Not a Robot

Really? Are you sure?

Let's think about this for a minute, shall we? You claim to "not be a robot," eh? Did you come up with that catchy phrase yourself? No? Then what's it from, hmmm?

Ohhh. It's a reference to a TV show. Are you the only one that watches this TV show? No? Then you're just like all the rest that watch a semi-popular show?

But, I guess you made the shirt yourself, huh? What? You bought that? From an online store? Hmm . . . again.

And then, there's that hat. Surely you've got to have some explanation for that hat, right? I mean, how many people up where you live have a hat like that. That "O" sure doesn't stand for "Original," does it?

Disappointing . . . very disappointing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Twin Peaks on DVD!!

[Since my morning has been spectacularly unproductive, as I searched for (four) hours to find a document that has taken me months to complete, I though I'd wrap up the void before lunch with a brief post on a media matter.]

Twin Peaks is coming out in a complete seasons 1 and 2 boxed set. Yes, it's been on DVD before, but fleetingly and then it disappeared.

(You can read David Lynch's thoughts on the DVD release here and get an EW review of the Gold edition boxed set here.)

Twin Peaks is one of the defining television shows of my youth? high school salad days? young adulthood? neonatal media awareness? Whatever time it was, the show meant a lot to me. I found it insanely quirky, strange, so unusual that it demanded to be watched.

I was one of those fanatics that held Twin Peaks parties at my house, serving pie and coffee to my nerdish brethren as we tried to unravel the details of Laura Palmer's murder. (I even dressed up in a suit to honor Kyle McLaughlin's FBI Agent Dale Cooper.) We fanatics--without the benefit of today's message boards, Internet fan sites, all everything else, tried to understand the strange things the denizens of Twin Peaks did and why they did them. I loved it all . . . and while I absolutely acknowledge that season 2 was a slowly developing train wreck that gave answers in the most confusing way possible, I still hung on to the bitter end.

My reactions to LOST today are hardwired by my experiences with TP back in 1990. My desire to sit through Lynch's mixture of good and bizarre films stem from this show . . . and Blue Velvet. If I'm honest, a lot of the reason that I have watched this year's show Reaper is because the actor playing The Devil is the one and only Leland Palmer--father of the deceased Laura.

To this day, I doubt I could coherently explain the ultimate resolutions (if there was one), but I desperately want to buy the DVDs and relive the entire experience. (I wonder if I'll be as frightened when Killer Bob crawls out from behind the couch. Along than Samara coming out of the TV in The Ring, that image of Bob is one of the scariest moments in my life.)

I'll bake the cherry pie, brew up the coffee, and give you a call.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New Blogger feature to pay attention to

Hey everyone.

Just a quick note to point out a new feature on Blogger (generally) but on my site specifically.

If you, like so many of my readers, want to comment on one of my hilarious and insightful posts, but you also want to know what others are saying about the same post--so you can get back into the conversation--there is now a way to do that directly from the comment screen that you are already familiar with.

When you decide to comment on my post next time, down where you select your identity and do the word verification stuff, you'll also see a new field where you can "subscribe" to the comments by inputting a email address. That way, when another comment is added, you will receive notification and will be completely up-to-date.

Previously, this feature was only available to me--the administrator of the blog. But now everyone can enjoy.

You can read more instructions on how to use this via this link. Have fun and I'll here back from you soon.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Watch Pushing Daisies!

It'll probably be cancelled (Don't believe what you read. Be constantly ready for disaster.) since it's visual, clever, not explainable . . . all the stuff that never makes it on TV. (It reminds me of Twin Peaks in this way.)

It's got an Addams Family sensibility and color palate. Especially since Barry Sonnenfeld was involved.

There's women' cleavage everywhere. Seriously! I'm a bit surprised by how prevalent this unexpected element is in each of the episodes that I've watched.

It's freaking narrated by Jim Dale!

Some stranger's Wikipedia page about the show is here.

Television Without Pity recaps of the episodes you missed are here. You can also watch streaming Internet episodes of the show on Last night I caught up with the three episodes I missed while wasting my time with NBC's Bionic Woman.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Cell phones suck!

This is somewhat related to Flip's post . . . and Lulu's response, but I built the anger while I was driving from work to pick up Sarah at school this afternoon.

I realize that cell phones are an indispensable fact of life and I am no Luddite. I would absolutely LOVE my cell phone, but for one problem . . . I have NO WHERE to put the $#&^ thing!

I don't have a belt holder because the only kind I've ever had are the cheap clip on kind that stick halfway up my belt and dig into my torso whenever I sit down. (Yeah, I suppose I need to lose ten pounds and do some sit ups and crunches to get rid of the fat rolls above my hips. Don't change the subject!) So, I don't want my phone digging into my less-than-sculpted physique every time I sit down . . . and my job requires me to sit frequently. They've given me my own desk and everything.

OK, then what next? Put it in your bag? Well, that defeats the purpose of the phone's portability, doesn't it? I'm not going to carry around my bag--and no, Joey, I don't care if it IS European. I'm not doing that.

Well, I could put it in my pants pocket, but here are the problems with that:

1. I've already got my keys in my left pocket--and cars today demand big heavy plasticky things to automatically open up your doors and start your engines and set off your panic alarms and water your grass and shave your face and God forbid you've got TWO modern cars with TWO big plasticky things (that cost $100 to replace if you ever lose them). So, no, that pocket's out.

2. I've usually got my iPod in my right pocket--at least when I'm walking around at the office, so I can't very well have my iPod AND my phone in there, right? (Obviously, I don't have an iPhone. Don't even suggest it unless you give me $300.)

Sure, I know that when I'm actually driving, I don't have either pocket encumbered--keys are in the ignition and iPod isn't in pocket. But then the REAL problem occurs. What if I'm driving (with phone in pocket) and I actually DO get a call? Have you tried to keep driving, snake your hand into your pocket, past my coat, around the lap belt, grabbing the phone--that's already on the third ring now . . . hurry up or it's going to voicemail, nope, got to unhook the seat belt--YES, kids I know my seat belt isn't on, but I've got to get this phone call. Crap, I can't get it, it's wedged sideways in my pants and the pocket is all bunched up. Almost got it . . . shoot . . . gotta open it up, click seatbelt, turn down radio . . . WAIT, hit the brakes!!

Aww crap! Went to voicemail.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It seems that selecting Michael Gambon is making more and more sense as time goes on.


Michael Gambon, the British actor who has portrayed Harry Potter character Albus Dumbledore since film 3 (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) has always drawn criticism from the fan base.

Gambon famously said that he didn't read the books, which I understand is his prerogative as an actor trying to create his own embodiment of the character, but since Dumbledore is such a pivotal character, it might be helpful now and then to see how the author originally intended him to act.

How to act is a critical piece of the ire focused on Gambon over the years. He always seemed too gruff, too business-like, too distant, too hard than the slightly off-center, humorous Dumbledore of Rowling's books. Gambon's most famous gaffes (in my opinion) are:

1) when, near the beginning of the Goblet of Fire film, when Harry is selected as a Triwizard champion. While Harry waits to see what the teachers will do, Gambon's Dumbledore rushes at him, bodily shakes him and shouts at him to see if he put his own name in the Goblet. Very aggressive, very cold, very abrupt.

2) Later, when the teachers are meeting in private to discuss whether they should allow Harry to compete in the dangerous tournament, Gambon chooses for Dumbledore to sit on the floor, head in hands, seemingly defeated by this turn of events. Not at all the Dumbledore of the books that never seems confused or perplexed by the constant turn of events.

Richard Harris, the actor who portrayed the Hogwarts headmaster in the first two films, seemed more approachable, kinder, more in line with what the fans wanted Dumbledore to be. He seemed to play Dumbledore slower, more patiently, as someone who was willing to let things play out, with a confidence that he would maintain control of the situation. Gambon's Dumbledore sometimes seems to be swept up in the tide of events, barely able to stay ahead of disaster.

But, as we were confronted with a Machiavellian backstory to Dumbledore in the final Harry Potter, it made it a bit easier to take this hard-edged Gambon-style Dumbledore. Certainly, the Deathly Hallows Dumbledore is a man that compartmentalizes his emotions to enable him to manipulate Harry and drive him to his final destiny. This new portrayal of the Headmaster shows someone who is indeed playing a very long-paced game with fate, someone perfectly willing to push people around on chessboard to achieve the ultimate goal of Voldemort's defeat.

So, maybe Gambon had it right? But, now the fans are confronted with this new bit of news via J.K. Rowling as she tours three U.S. cities this week and next.

This will surely upset some people, and it will definitely fuel the fire of some of Rowling's critics--especially those on the religious right, who were uncomfortable with all the magic. I'm not at all worried about the occult argument, since anyone can see the deep religious themes that flow through the books, explicitly stated or not. But, sexuality will cause some to speak up. It doesn't bother me at all, frankly, but I'll admit to be surprised by it. Sexuality never really entered into my viewings of the books, outside of the various schoolyard crushes that developed in the course of seven books. It just provides another element to the story, one that critics and fans alike will begin processing now and will speak out on. I am very interested to see how everyone takes it.

(image of Dumbledore taken from "The Harry Potter Lexicon website.")

Thursday, October 18, 2007

College-aged clothes

In today's installment of "The Clothing Project" we reach back in time to my college days. The jeans you see to the left were purchased when I was in college so many years ago. They are Levi's 560s, waist 34, length 30. One reason that I have been able to wear these jeans for so many years is that when I bought them I didn't need a 34 inch waist and thankfully I don't absolutely need the 34 inches now . . . but I admit that I'm getting closer to that reality.

As you can see, these jeans are pretty old and stained. There are paint stains up and down from several bedroom painting sessions, as well as grass stains on the knee from working in the yard at various times. The denim patch on the right (stage left) knee is a recent addition, covering an ever expanding rip that I finally decided to deal with a few weeks ago.

These jeans don't see any "formal" wear anymore, just bumming around the house and dirty work in the yard and such. But, they have that comfort that is best in jeans that are old and worn. I won't get rid of them for a while, I guess.

The shirt can be dated specifically to a purchase of October 1996. I remember this because Lynda and I were house-sitting for a graduate school professor that attended our church back in Statesboro, Georgia. We lived in his two-story house for several months while he and his wife were in England doing research on some medieval history topic or something. I remember buying that navy blue Land End long sleeve polo during October. It was around my birthday and the Braves were in the baseball playoffs again. (The team had actually won the year before, but I had missed the clinching game, spending it with Lynda and my sister as we took a night-time ghost tour of Savannah.)

So, I was determined to watch them win again in October 1996. I remember that the Braves were the strong favorite in the postseason that year and they made it back to the World Series to play the upstart New York Yankees. The Yankees had made it into the postseason the previous year (the first year with the Wild Card?) but had been beaten in the Division Series by the Seattle Mariners in a thrilling game 5. But in 1996, the Yankees (in Joe Torre's second year as manager?) made it all the way to the World Series.

The Braves won the first two games in Atlanta and seemed ready to sweep to their second straight World Series win. But in what became an all too familiar trend over the next five or six years, the Yankees fought back in Yankee Stadium, getting unexpected home runs from nobodies like Jim Leyritz. Sure enough, the Yankees came storming back and won the Series that year, beginning their run of success that is only now--twelve years later--beginning to (hopefully?!) come to a close.

So, I do have some rather specific memories about that shirt at least, though nothing that directly relates to wearing it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Worth one penny

I was in a bit of a funk this past weekend. Looking back at it today (as I succumb to a runny nose ), I am sure it was the beginnings of my current cold. But then it was just a general weariness and a headache that went on and off. I thought my body rhythms were slipping into preparation for gray skies and winter temperatures.

These feelings tended to cause me to be short with the kids and be in a generally bad mood. Poor parenting form, I admit . . . but it's in the past now.

Things improved a bit on Sunday, however. The weather was nice, sunny, the temperatures moderate. And I got outside after church during the afternoon to enjoy it. True, part of that "enjoyment" involved cutting the grass in the backyard, but at least I didn't sweat through my clothes or anything. (I had not wanted to cut the grass any more when I did it last two weeks ago and intentionally folded up the handle in an attempt to indicate that I would cut the grass no more forever. But . . . the length of the blades could not be denied and, as I say, the temperatures were moderate.)

So, anyway, I cut the grass and Lynda neatened up various flowerbeds by cutting back dead leaves, tree branches and the like. Once that was done, I even got to help Sarah and Grace practice their bike riding skills--something that I dearly wanted to do, but was determined not to force the issue.) The bike riding has been difficult since I have had very little luck finding reliable training wheels to help stabilize Sarah. Either training wheels are universally crap or we purchased an odd-sized bike that doesn't correspond with mass produced training wheels. Ultimately, it's been harder than it should have been. But Sarah is trying and I'm trying to hold my impatience with the wheels. It'll get worked out in the end . . . or it won't. It's not like kids are lining up around the block to ride bikes anymore, right?

After the brief bike riding session, the girls got all excited to sell lemonade. I know what you're thinking. "Isn't it two months two late to be trying that hoary old trick?" Well, yes, I suppose it is, but you can't deny the kid's entrepreneurial spirit when they are committed. So, we mixed up a batch of Kool-Aid ("Oh Yeah!") and pulled the small table up from the basement. Sarah fashioned a sign and we hit the sidewalk.

No one came by. It was, after all, 5ish on a slow Sunday afternoon. Everyone was watching the New England/Dallas football game, I guess. I hoped that we'd eventually see some runners or dog walkers come by, but nothing materialized. Grace seemed to give up after two minutes, convinced it was all a lost cause, but Sarah didn't want to let go. Besides, we had the whole pitcher of Kool-Aid just sitting there with the Dixie cups and everything. Luckily, the next-door neighbors appeared on their way to dinner and stopped to talk. They gave us some loose change and we drank our way through the pitcher as we talked. It gave the kids a sense of accomplishments, I guess. Anyway, I had a good time and my mood was greatly improved.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't Fear the Vest!

No, this post is not a love poem to Jim Tressel, (but our Friends From Up North don't agree--sometimes with rather salty language!) but no one other than Chandler Bing has done more to celebrate the sweater vest--one of my favorite articles of cold-weather clothing.

As you can see, I have a multitude of said clothing, in a variety of styles, colors, and weights. I don't have a specific story to go with each one, but rest assured that I have rocked each one of them in some awesome fashion over the years.

The gray one at bottom left is my "athletic" one, suitable for a tennis match in October or keeping me warm when raking leaves in the back yard. The navy blue one with the horizontal stripe is, I think, the oldest one. I know this because it is a JCrew vest and I haven't bought anything from JCrew in many a year. That navy one is also one of my favorite one's because I like navy blue and because I like the stripe. I often choose to wear it to work with a white shirt and a tie. I feel nerdy and classy when doing this--what you might choose to call "clerdy."

I think of the red one as my Christmas vest, as that is when I wear it most consistently. Sometimes, to ram the point home, I will wear it over a green long sleeved polo shirt. In doing so, I am saying "It's CHRISTMAS, as if you didn't know! Get ready!" I think I wore the red one over my mint green button-down and my striped green tie to the company Christmas party last year. Luckily, no one sniggered in my face.

I like the charcoal black one (top right) over blue button-down shirts, especially when paired with a black tartan-like tie that I wear occasionally. When I wear all of this with my black corduroy pants, I'm saying to the world that I am serious about myself, but I also do it with a twinkle in my eye. I think you know what I mean.

The two light colored ones don't get used as much as they should. For some reason, I prefer stronger colors in my vests. (I suppose I want to be confrontational, saying "Look at my sweater vest! It's brightly colored so you will look at it!") The one on the top left was a Christmas present from my parents. It has a square pattern in it that isn't visible in the picture. I often wear it with a red shirt that was also given to me by Mom and Dad. The other vest (top center) is oatmeal colored (maybe?) and is the most traditionally sweater vesty of the bunch. You might see Vance wearing this at the club during his tennis lesson. I like it even so.

The last one of the bunch is the blue one in the bottom right. My friend and former colleague Spec gave me that one when he left for his new job and fabulous life in New York City. I've never been to NYC in my adult life, but I expect that all the hipsters there wear vests like I do. When Lynda and I visited San Francisco for our 10th anniversary trip I wore a sweater vest almost every day. It kept me warm when the winds blew off the Bay, but I stayed cool (in more ways than one!) since it wasn't as bulky as a regular, full coverage sweater.

And that, people, is what they are all about!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Struggling to focus

I want to blog but I haven't found strong topics to write about. I felt like attempting to recap a few of the new shows that have premiered this Fall, but I can't convince myself to invest that much time in watching something (and probably something that isn't really worth watching once) several times to get all the nuances and jokes and dialogue bits.

So, the premiere episode of The Big Bang Theory that I downloaded for free from iTunes will likely stay unwatched and unappreciated. I think I'll delete it from my iPod so I can save more room for Wizard Rock tunes.

The most significant events in my life in the last several days involve our weekend trip down to Waycross, Georgia to attend my brother-in-law's marriage. Also, on the return trip, we took possession of Lynda's parent's van. First let me say that the van is a very nice ride. Cruising up the interstate in this baby was like driving a La-Z-Boy at 70 miles an hour. But La-Z-Boy's don't have cruise control, AC, fold-away seats, or a pretty nice stereo. It was also nice to be able to sit and stretch your legs from time to time. The kids appreciated the extra room (which I know will only be extra for another five months or so . . .)

The wedding was lovely and everything went well. I wasn't directly involved with a set role in the wedding itself--which was fine with me since we were travelling from a long way and scheduling would have introduced new problems in a wedding (which is always complicated enough). Since I wasn't "important" I tried to look after the kids now and then to free up others that had stuff to do. This caused a nice moment for me on Friday morning when I took Sarah, Grace, and my nephew to a small Waycross park and I was forcibly reminded of Tifton's Fulwood Park. It had the same sort of old-style metal tubing playground equipment with flaking paint. The ground itself was also exactly the same--clumps of grass with great expanses of sand. (You really understand that all of southern Georgia was once ancient seabed.) I enjoyed hanging out with the kids, swinging on the swingset and trying to remember some of my own childhood. It was also neat to find some cicada exoskeletons on the trees--something that the kid's didn't understand. I had vivid memories of finding them all over the pine trees of my childhood home, pulling them off and examining them. In such events and remembrances, my childhood is connected to my own children--though they will never appreciate that, I am sure.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Family Noir

I tried to be all artsy and take some black-and-white pictures of the family last night. As usual, it didn't quite work out as I wanted. When I shift my digital camera to the B/W setting, the stabilization ability of the camera doesn't work when I turn off the automatic flash--which always creates artificial light that defeats the artsy efforts of all black-and-white photography. So, my pictures end up being blurred.

These (taken with flash) turned out alright, but are a far cry from what I wanted and imagined in my head.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Maybe Smallville has portrayed him right these past six years.

(Yes, I'm emulating James Lilek's once again--and the stuff I'm using to do so aren't even originally mine. But then neither were his, I suppose.)

Everyone thinks that Superman is a paragon of truth, justice, the American Way--all the things we wish for in ourselves, our kids, etc.

But, as this website clearly shows, Superman can (and has been) a massive jerk over the years.

1. While what he says about both Lana and Lois being galactically stupid is true, dude could be a bit nicer about it, huh?

2. Superman, criminal mastermind or really over-reacting lover? You be the judge.

3. What's even sadder is that he sometimes gets others to help him in him murderous rages.

4. Sometimes he uses his powers to play with people's needs.

5. Sure, Superman tries to make up for his egregious behaviour by occasionally fighting the good fight, but in the end . . . he's a deadbeat dad like the rest of us. Or he's creating his own international incident.
(Or galactic incident.)

6. There is no way to defend this one. Or this one.

7. He even treats Superman's Best Friend badly. (Another example here.) I would be more upset with this second one, but . . . I'll admit to doing this same thing to a cat once when I was a kid.

8. And once you treat dogs that badly, it doesn't take much to abuse your own children too . . . even your adopted son.

9. I hope the upcoming Supergirl arc on "Smallville" ends just like this.

10. Superman's favorite movie? Fight Club.

11. I know that Superman is an alien from another planet--where they mourn the dead differently?--but didn't Martha and Jonathon raise him better than this? Not that he respected their needs very much.

12. He's become so cavalier about killing and maiming his friends that it seeps from his very clothing.

13. When you're all powerful, you've just got to flaunt it, I guess.

Yes, still here

I'm still here and I'm still thinking about stuff to write on.

I have various ideas and observations to impart on all sorts of useless stuff, but I haven't devoted my time towards hammering it out for your edification.

But, don't give up on me yet. Keep checking back every day, breathlessly awaiting stuff from me.

It'll totally be worth it, I promise!

(While you wait, check THIS out. Thanks to Raisinette for the linkage.)