Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best of the Decade Albums list

I swore that I would do this for a friend (even though as time went on it was quite clear that I am woefully uninformed on the subject matter of this list and absolutely unqualified to complete it).

But, here is my list of the best albums for 2000-2009 (as I see it). I am sorry that I did not go the extra mile and actually rank these in order from Best to 25th Best. I wrote these in the order that I selected them from my iTunes library. That was the best I could do. Please rank to your hearts content in the comments and tell me what an idiot I am for these choices and not for others.

1. Narrow Stairs (2008) by Death Cab for Cutie. I really, really like Death Cab and I really liked this album. Even though I found out that my favorite song on the album (I Will Possess Your Heart) is about a stalker. But hey, that's how I roll. And I also really like Grapevine Fires quite a bit.

2. Wincing the Night Away (2007) by The Shins. My favorite Shins album. Best songs on the album are Sea Legs and Red Rabbits. But I also quite like Australia. That was the song that sold the album for me.

3. Reveal (2008) by R.E.M. There are only three studio album to choose from during this decade and while I do like Accelerate, Reveal is by far the strongest choice. I struggle to find things to like about the middle album, Around the Sun. (I did go see that tour with Lynda in Cincinnati, so that helps.) The best song on the album is Saturn Return.

4. Kid A (2000) by Radiohead. No surprise that this is on the list and I expect it is on many people's list beyond mine. Read their takes for why it deserves to be. I came late to the Radiohead party but I'm a fan for sure. (I paid $10 for In Rainbows when it was available for download, so I've got that going for me, right?) Best song? I'll go with the obvious choice--Everything in its Right Place. (I think I owe some of my appreciation of that to some Chuck Klosterman reference in an essay that was probably about nuclear fission. But it's stil relevant.)

5. St. Elsewhere (2006) by Gnarls Barkley. I remember hearing everyone talk about Crazy and then I eventually listened to the album. I liked it pretty well. And I kept hearing that half of the group was also responsible for The Grey Album. I kept trying to find a way to download the Grey Album, but couldn't. And then eventually I got a copy of it from another friend at work. Unfortunately, I didn't like the end result as much as I wanted to. Best song on St. Elsewhere: A sort of a sheepish tossup between Gone Daddy Gone (good video and it was used in at least one episode of Chuck) and Necromancer (creepy subject but interesting song).

6. Guero (2005) by Beck. I want to talk about Odelay, but that doesn't fit in this decade. And so I'll pick Guero as the best offering Beck made during the last ten years. I do like the emphasis on Latin flavors. Best song: Black Tambourine. But I am also quite fond of Hell Yes.

7. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002) by The Flaming Lips. I always think of the Matrix when I hear this album because I first heard it when I was deep within my Matrix obsession awaiting the second and third films of the trilogy. This was also my introduction to the Lips as a group. I feel smarter knowing that they exist, but I probably don't appreciate what they mean sonically, etc, etc. Best song: the eponymous track. (I used it--or attempted to use it--in one of my work email movie invites.)

8. Vampire Weekend (2008) by Vampire Weekend. Typically, I got this album from a friend and I didn't sit down and absorb it right away. But I was told it was good and I copied it over to my iTunes library. And I find that when I listen to it, I really like it. I don't automatically recall it in my head as outstanding, but when I start to hear it, its unique sound combinations win me over.

9. Fearless (2008) by Taylor Swift. I know, I know . . . you're gonna let me finish . . . but this album is suprisingly good. And while I downloaded it primarily for my kids sake, I haven't regretted it at all.

10. Details (2002) by Frou Frou. I first heard of this group when I watched Garden State and then bought the movie soundtrack. Best song: Flicks.

11. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) by Coldplay. Maybe this is the decade of Coldplay--at least on mainstream radio and certainly if not for Radiohead and higher critical judgment. But did anyone else make as much with these years? And this was the album that I was introduced to them with. Best songs: Clocks and Politik.

12. From the Corner to the Block (2007) by Galactic. I got this album from another friend at work. It has a combination of hip hop, rap, jazz, and funk (I  think). I don't listen to it on a regular basis, but when I listen to it, it gets my feet moving. This is maybe one of two chances I've got to suggest an album to you that you haven't heard. If that is so, check this one out . . . and tell them I sent you.

13. Funplex (2007) by the B-52s. I admit that they have never been quite as good as they were in the 1980s when I first heard Rock Lobster. But, they are still as good as they've been in a while. And this album is simply fun to listen to.

14. The Mysterious Production of Eggs (2005) by Andrew Bird. Most of the music I have appreciated over the past ten years are due to the friends I've met since we moved to Ohio. I wouldn't know half of what I "know" without their recommendations, downloads, and burned copies. Andrew Bird is a prime example of this. This is my favorite album of his and my favorite song on this album is A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left.

15. Greetings from Michigan: The Great Lakes State (2003) by Sufjan Stevens. I sort of like his Christmas album best of all, but this is the one that game him the notariety and national press. I am still hoping (for entirely selfish reasons) that the next two states he profiles are Ohio and Georgia.

16. One Cello x 16: Natoma (2005) by Zoe Keating. I love this album because it is very cool to listen to, features a single celloist that loops her multiple recordings onto each other to create a very layered and intricate soundscape. I also love this because it points out one of the most important personal developments of my life during this past decade--the reliance upon podcasts. I first heard of Zoe Keating while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Radiolab. Check out the podcast AND the album when you have the chance.

17. Hotel (2005) by Moby. I swiped this one from the local library and it was the best money I never spent on something. Moby is sometimes hot and cold with me, but I like this 2 disc set more than Play, the album where he based everything off of continuous Gospel hits. Best song: Lift Me Up.

18. Extraordinary Machine (2005) by Fiona Apple. As usual, what I love most about Apple's music are the beats and the rhythms. It always makes me want to be able to play the drums. Best song: the title track.

19. Plans (2005) by Death Cab for Cutie. I got this album because a.) it was by Death Cab, whom I really, really love and b.) it featured the song Brothers on a Hotel Bed, which was used as the theme song for the Vlogbrother's Brotherhood 2.0 YouTube project. When you listen to this song almost 340 times, you're gonna want to get the album. Best OTHER song on the album: I Will Follow You into the Dark.

20. Now Its Overhead (2001) by Now Its Overhead. I had never heard of this trio (?) until Lynda and I went to see R.E.M. in Cincinnati in 2004. NIO opened for them and I liked their set as much as R.E.M.s. I listened to this album MORE than I did R.E.M.'s Around the Sun that came out the same year as their second album--Fall Back Open. Best songs: Blackout Curtain.

21. Hopes and Fears (2004) by Keane. Call me a girl if you want, but this is a good album. And the best song on it is the one that all the girls love to sing along to--We Might as Well Be Strangers.

22. Welcome Interstate Managers (2003) by Fountains of Wayne. I had only known FoW for Jessi's Mom but this album showed me that they were more fun and more thoughtful. Best song: Valley Winter Song.

23. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002) by Wilco. I'm quite sure that everyone will list this one. And I'm quite sure that I don't appreciate it enough. But it is a good album and it deserves to be on my list.

24. No! (2002) by They Might Be Giants. TMBG is good in any decade. But when they decided to unleash their creativity and unique sound in service of distressed parents everywhere with a children's album . . . that was genius. All kids should be listening to this instead of Elmo. Best songs: John Lee Supertaster and Where Do They Make Balloons?

25. Up (2002) by Peter Gabriel. I still haven't found a way to download my favorite albums of his (Shaking the Tree and The Passion). But this was a good one that I liked quite a bit--even the song about Barry Williams, of The Brady Bunch fame. Best song: I Grieve.

BONUS recommendations that you will ignore:

a. Lemon Drop . . . the Beat (2007) by Dumbledore. This decade saw the creation of Wizard Rock and I have heard a good amount of it in the last few years. This ep is one of my favorites. It took the fledgling genre of Wrock and twisted it into something known as Wiz Hop. (Stop your snickering!) Bona fide rap songs about Harry Potter characters and events as delivered by the celebrated Hogwarts Headmaster? Sign me up! Best song: U Down with OotP? and D Bowla. OTHER Wizard Rock recommendations . . . Penelope (2008) by The Hermione Crookshanks Experience and especially I Was a Teenage Werewolf (2007) by The Remus Lupins. I was a Remus Lupins fan before I was a Harry and the Potters fan. Choosing between the two was sort of like choosing between the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupak. The Remus Lupins was the California cool side of things, with family connections to the actual recording industry and (at first at least) a bit more musicality. HatP was the brothers team from Massachusetts that originated the genre and they deserve props for starting everything, for embracing time travel, and for improving musically over time.

b. Songs for Dustmites (2003) by Steve Burns. This is the (only?) album recorded by the guy that got famous for playing with felt and talking to an imaginary cartoon dog. But Steve left Blues Clues behind, got some help from the dudes in The Flaming Lips, and recorded some interesting songs about science and math. Best song: What I Do On Saturday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

What you didn't know about the 'Aughts

I know this is likely old news to most people who frequent the Internet (and I should consider myself one of them, except that this video was NOT old news to me). But, the content of this video is relevant to end-of-year type posts that I sometimes provide here on WWYG?! during this time in the planet's transit round the orbit.
And since I haven't found time (or much knowledge) to do any other sort of year-end lists, perhaps this will suffice?

The decade according to 9-year-olds from allison louie-garcia on Vimeo.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Vlogbrother Christmas facts

It's Christmas Day! And since I am busy keeping an eye on Hannah while Lynda puts toys together, I present to you these interesting Christmas-related facts from John and Hank Green--the Vlogbrothers.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Creatures are stirring

. . . especially in the kitchen.

Broadcasting from Cherry Log (note, two words), Georgia, direct from Nana's kitchen, it's ME making another white chocolate cheesecake. Everyone loves it and I think of Ruth every time I make it. So, spread the love and widen your belt.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twitter traveling

Many other members of the digirati go Web silent during their holiday travels. But not this guy.

If you follow me on Twitter (\dtm1971) you see many travel posts. I'll also cross-post these on Facebook if you frequent there (www.\david.t.martin I think--or the picture of yours truly to the right.) And I may add ideas here on WWYG?! as timing allows.

So, stay informed as we go South. Happy Christmas to all.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Parking Lot Cookie Disaster

It has been a whirlwind of a weekend and there is still a lot to do. As the Holiday Season embiggens, our attempts to remain cromulent towards it grow more difficult. And yet we continue to try all the more, because to not strive in the face of holiday difficulties is . . . well, what is it exactly? Cowardly? Humbuggish? Secular?

I guess I don't know what I should be doing. I can only relate what I have been doing.

Yesterday Lynda and I split up bright and early, taking parts of the family in different directions. Sarah and I headed to the church. We helped put up the Christmas trees, hang wreathes, futz with strands of tree lights, eat coffee cake, and sweep the floor. Lynda took Grace and Hannah to get more flu vaccines at the pediatrician's office in Hilliard.

After those chores were all done, we all got haircuts and bought groceries. And all that was done before noon. (So, take that Shirtless, who didn't even get out of bed before 12:30 yesterday.)

But there was still plenty more to do. Later that night we spent a few hours decorating Christmas cut-out cookies for Sunday's church pageant. And I made chocolate-covered pretzel rods that will serve as a gift to the kids' school teachers. By then it was past 8:00 and time for kids to be in bed.

Once we were done with that Lynda made some angels wings for Grace's role in the pageant. There was lots of tracing, cardboard cutting, gold spray-painting, and star attaching.

Then we went to bed.

This morning we got up and had pancakes, eggs, bacon, and drinks. (Because Lynda needs to make a big breakfast once a weekend to earn her good parenting badge.) Then we hurriedly got dressed for church. We realized it was raining, so we got umbrellas and loaded up the van. I noticed that Lynda also was gathering the carry box of Christmas cookies to take with us, and I knew that, since the pageant was at 3:30 . . . we didn't have to take them with us, but we were running late so I didn't press the point. (Bad mistake, as you will see.)

We drove through the rain (see how I'm starting to emphasize the rain?) and made it to church five minutes late. The parking lot was full because (as I'd soon learn) there was a baptism today and we had extra visitor; that and the usual increase of people during the Advent/Christmas season.

Because of the rain (!!) I had to drop everyone off at the door and then find a spot at the far end of the parking lot and then walk with an umbrella to the door. But remember that I was also trying to carry the unnecessary cookies in one hand while holding an umbrella (because of the rain, remember?) and did I mention that the cookies were in a carry box? One with a snap-on lid and featuring two plastic handles?

So, while juggling the umbrella--that I wouldn't have needed but for the rain--and the box with the plastic handles and clips, I was forced to rely on the notoriously weak handles and clips to transport the premature cookies. If it had not been raining, I would had cradled the carry box like a stack of wood, or like George Bailey totin' Mary Hatch's books home from school.

But I wasn't George Bailey, it was raining, I did rely on the plastic clips, and i had to walk extra far because of the crowd.

Twenty steps from the van, while avoiding a puddle, the clips failed and the carry box separated top from bottom. The cookies that the girls had painstakingly iced and sprinkled tumbled onto the wet asphalt, broken, inedible, and so very, very unnecessary and premature.

I paused to gather my awareness of what had just happened. I resisted the urge to curse the heavens while standing in a parking lot flanked on one side by an Episcopal church and one the other side by a Jewish synagogue. I reaisted the desire to keep in walking, leaving the cookies to dissolve back into flour, sugar, and butter. I stooped down and put the sodden cookies into the faulty box. Then I put the box in the van. Then I went into the church to find some perspective.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Stuff that could go on Twitter

Minus the character count limitations, these random musings would be perfect for my Twitter feed. But I'll ponder them here.

In no particular order:

1. This is the time of year when I eat a lot of clementines. (But only me, I'm sure.) I find it strangely satisfying to peel the fruit and then try to peel all of the additional white membrane that clings on the underside of the peel. It looks a bit like cull fat when it is peeled off the clementine segment in a largish piece.

2. Who got the color scheme first? The University of Southern California (at Los Angeles) or the United States Marine Corps? (And if the colors are not the same, I apologize for my color-blind eyes. I saw a USMC bumper sticker and it reminded me in color and composition--plus the M--to the USC logo.)

3. AISOT this morning . . . if I was single and somewhat aimless, I think I'd live in New York City just on the off chance that I could witness an Improv Anywhere mission. They sound and appear fun to experience--unless your these guys.

4. I've eaten more corn dogs this year than every other of my past years combined.

5. Grace's ongoing hearing problem has me concerned. But I'm really trying to be sensative to her and think about the problems she's experiencing. I do wonder if this is a source of several of the issues she and I have clashed over in past years. But the thing is, I don't know how far back the deficiency goes. In general, concerning and (as yet) not completely explained. Tracking . . .

6. Sure, everyone likes their pizza and their fried chicken hot on first serving. But . . . as leftovers, I have a fondness for cold. What about you the second time around?

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another night, another video

Since my last post, which was heavily video-centric, was well received, why not tempt the fates again, keep playin' with what brought me, go back to the well, and other similar cliches and sayings?

So, tonight, I present Grace as she expounds on how Hannah reacts to Christmas. (How Grace knows this, since last Christmas Hannah was almost one-year-old and therefore not reacting to much of anything except warm formula . . . well, that is up to Grace to explain to you some other time. Personally, I think that Grace is suffering from what psychologists call transference.)

Friday, December 04, 2009

Hannah sings the ABCs . . . sort of.

I might apologize for relying on a video for today's post. I might take it to heart that I haven't done much thoughtful blogging lately and I might decide to take some time tonight when the kids are watching a movie to reflect on the past week, consider what is good and what needs improving in my life, try to formulate cogent opinions on the important topics of the day.

I might do these things.

But it is a Friday night and I've had a busy, illness-filled week of late nights, crying babies, fevers, single parenting and what not.

(And, really, it's the what not that wears you out the most.)

So, yeah . . . tonight it's only a video.

(But it's a cute one, right?)

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Here is a Team Edward I can support

If you don't know what I'm talking about, this link might help.

Gizmodo sez: "The Weasley's Magic Clock From Harry Potter Uses Twitter in Our World"

Much like when cell phones started coming out and everyone pointed to Star Trek communicators and said "It's all coming true! How awesome!"

Well, now I can do the same with this story that describes the (imagined) sorcery of Harry Potter, the (seemingly?) banality of Twitter and the (medieval) technology of the humble clock.

It's all coming true, I say. How awesome! Can apparition (or teleportation) be that far behind?

Yes, yes, it probably can.

Thanks to Gizmodo for the full text.

The Weasley's Magic Clock From Harry Potter Uses Twitter in Our World [Magic]

Monday, November 30, 2009

November goes out with a whimper?

I don't know . . . Maybe it went out with a bang? I know I feel like I've been banged over the head repeatedly the last few days.

Lynda's parents visited over the Thanksgiving weekend--but that's not the source of my stress. Though the Thompsons weren't feeling great themselves, so it wasn't a Rockwell thanksgiving or anything. But everyone had time to rest, a bed to sleep in, and no one lacked for turkey, stuffing, potatoes, pumpkin pies, cookies, cake, and other food. So, in that sense, it was the perfect American Thanksgiving.

Rather, my troubles--and more importantly--Lynda's troubles began on Saturday. Lynda's has been laid up in bed since then. No one has said so aloud, but given that she had a regular flu vaccine, I can guess that she has been suffering from H1N1. (But I'm no doctor and she hasn't been to one.) All I know for sure is a.) She's been immobile for days, b.) she's had high fevers, c.) she's been achy, and d.) I blame anything to do with Black Friday.

You see, she was okay until she went shopping that day. And since I blame whatever I can on this terrible idea for a shopping experience, I'm gonna say it got Lynda (and her Mom apparently) sick.

So, since Saturday I've been taking care of the rest of the family. And when Hannah started getting fevers on Sunday . . . well, I knew I'd be taking Monday off as well. Asxtiring and as stressful as it has been, the girls have been understanding. When I served up a pot roast last night--because it could cook all day without my help--they ate bits of it with good grace and understanding, even if it's not their favorite. And they helped me decorate the interior for Christmas on Sunday as well. We maintained our own odd holiday tradition by listening to Jingle Spells and Jingle Spells 2 while we worked. (If you don't know what these albums are, you should look them up. It's quirky and distinctive, but all family traditions begin from somewhere interesting.)

Now I'm in the library lobby tapping this out on my phone while I wait for Grace's Daisy Scout meeting to finish. Lynda is able to be up a bit more, so I left her alone while Hannah slept. But Lynda won't be at work tomorrow either and since Hannah is going to get worse before getting better, I may be out again tomorrow as well.

Just because the calendar says a new month means nothing to the body after all.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fast Food: Maybe You're Dead to Me Now

I am sure that my many sophisticated readers will have already reached this conclusion and so nothing that I will present here tonight will be revelatory in any way . . . but, I think I'm finally done with fast food.

At least I'm done with the ordinary, historic burger joints: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys.

I took the kids to BK tonight and it just wasn't a satisfying food experience. Sure, keeping up with the kids and battling the fact that Hannah first poured milk on her jacket and then dumped a lot of the rest on the table didn't help things. Add to that the realization that Grace was more interested in playing on the playground than in eating her food.

Well, I should have chosen my usual Burger King option--the oblong chicken sandwich, which is usually good. Instead, I went with one of the new "speciality" burgers, some sort of Steakhouse thing. It had some fried onion things that were nicely crunchy and a sauce that had some bleu cheese flavoring. But the burger patty was large, squarish, and burned on the edges. It was served on a bakery roll. The fries were nicely crunchy. (I've been a fan of the BK fry recipe for several years.) But they were very salty and I am still tasting the salt in my mouth four-and-a-half hours later.

It was just an unappetizing experience. And as I reflected on it later in the night I found that I just haven't enjoyed my fast food experiences the last several times I have gone. Now I am not saying that I would never eat in a place that isn't a sit down place, but there are so many quick specialty restaurants now that serve food with more pizazz than burgers and fries . . . I can just do better. Why not get noodles at Noodles & Co. or Pei Wei? Panera has lots of satisfying choices and even Chipotle is pretty good.

So . . . see you later fast food burgers. I won't be eating at your place very much any more.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hannah and the Roar Socks

My kids have a strange history with their hosiery.

When Sarah was a child, she always chose two socks of different colors and intentionally wore them that way.

Grace must have the most sensitive feet in the world, because she often complained that the seam at the toe of the sock was irritating her.

And now Hannah insists on wearing socks on her hands (like opera gloves!) to make puppet-like movements and "roar"ing sounds.

The "roar" bit is a leftover legacy from when Grace was a baby. We have a book about a kid who writes to the zoo and asks for a pet. The zoo sends a series of animals (snake, monkey, camel, giraffe, etc.) who fail to be good pets. On one page, a lion is the zoo's latest attempt to placate the pushy kid . . . and whenever we read that page to Grace we'd mimic the lion's roar, but with a soft kind of "rahr." She eventually got it and started mimicking the sound in an equally soft voice (very un-lionish). We thought it was so cute, we did it again with Hannah.

She also does the roar, but somehow, she's tied this to sock puppets? I don't get it either. But it's cute and it makes for a fun video. (Sorry about the light quality on the video. It was this morning and I didn't bother to turn on the room lights.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Unusual thoughts while stealing candy

I'll admit that the title, while true to what I might end up writing down here, is an echo . . . well, no it's a pretty blatant ripoff of what David Sedaris might use as an essay title. Or maybe it's something that Chuck Klosterman might use. But I've been listening to an audiobook of Sedaris at work the last few days and reading Klosterman's newest book at night. So, at least my stealing is honest . . . and timely.

Okay, enough name dropping.

A few minutes ago I was pilfering in the girls Halloween candy bags--which still remain more than half full as we are receding into the third (fourth?) week after Halloween night. I often make a habit of stealing their Halloween candy when they are upstairs, in bed, and otherwise unaware of my thieving. I've done it for years and I'm not particularly guilt-racked about it. I have better dental hygiene habits than they do and so I am better equipped to eat candy than they are.

Anyway, as I choose a few small Fun Size bars from Grace's bag, I think about how I eat in relationship to the Fun Size. I'm afraid to admit that I most often pop the whole candy bar in my mouth and start chewing. I don't think the Fun Size is demanding multiple bites and I've got a big mouth. Of course, doing this makes me savor the flavor of the candy less and that isn't a good thing. Not stopping to savor ensures overeating, which leads to becoming overweight. And I think popping the whole morsel in your mouth and divorcing your experience of the candy's flavor reduces its ability to make the eating Fun. It becomes something more like an addiction. Of course, doing it somewhat hurriedly (in case the kids came downstairs and saw me, wondering why I was pilfering their candy) doesn't help either.

Yeah, I've got a problem with that.

And also, when you open up the Fun Size Butterfinger bar, the getting older peanut butter flakes in the center become more brittle and the bar shatters and gets on the floor, forcing you to get the broom out to sweep up your secret shame.

And then there is the Oh Henry bar. As I chew the Oh Henry, I think about the oddity of its name--how it is partly a homage to the American writer who used a variation on the name. And I wonder . . . how many candy bars out there have any sort of (even tenuous) connection to literary figures? In my lifetime, I can remember eating the Reggie bar, for Reggie Jackson when he was a celebrated New York Yankee. And I've definitely eaten my share of Baby Ruths. But those are sports figures and celebrating sports figures in candy is common. Do most Oh Henry consumers even know of this connection to a writer?

Another thought about the Oh Henry. It's made up of peanuts, caramel, and chocolate. Yet it has its own distinct taste--at least I think it does when I pause to taste it as I scarf them down. It must be a particular mixture of the peanut butter or some balance of stuff in the chocolate. But we have so many candy bars in this country. It must be hard for the flavor scientists to make everyone's chocolate taste different.


Well, that's it for tonight. I wanted to write something and so I have. It wasn't what I intended to write when I thought about this earlier in the day, but that will have to be done tomorrow or over the weekend when I can devote some time to writing it thoughtfully and well. It's too important to dash off in ten minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

LOST in review

As we begin thinking about the approach of LOST's final season, try to see the connections from the past.

But why do it all yourself when others can do it for you?

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ABCs Updated

A is for Apple, but not that kind . . . this kind.

B is for blog.

C is for corporation.

D is for DVR.

E is for easy. It's what we all want.

F is for Facebook.

G is for Google.

H is for hybrids, the kind that you drive.

I is for interstate. Because we won't be flying hybrids Jetsons-style anytime soon.

J is for Jayne.

K is for Klosterman. Read him . . . you'll see.

L is for LOST, the best show on TV.

M is for Mad Men . . . also quite good, don't you agree?

N is for namaste.

O is for obsolete. (Read C to wonder why?)

P is for podcast, but Pixar's also fine.

Q is for quarrels. Something that happens too much.

R is for RSS. It's for reading and such.

S is for sweater vest. Because that's where it's at!

T is for Twitter. I'm already down with that.

U is for unique. It's what we all want to be.

V is for vampires. 'Cause they're so hot right now.

W is for Wright. Because some things never stop being hot.

X is for Xtreme? My favorite . . . it's not.

Y is for YouTube because it's okay to watch.


Z is for zeitgeist. (Because that's what this shows? Or maybe not . . . who knows?)

Star Trek is coming true . . . thanks to our corporate overlords?

I quote this text directly from Gizmodo:

"Leave it to a NASA scientist to create the first Star Trek Tricorder using a stamp-sized sensor chip, an iPhone, and some spiffy programing. What does it do? It can detect killer gasses in the air.

While the concept is not new, this prototype is fully working and operational. Created by Jing Li and a team of researches at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, the sensor is a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip integrated in micro-board with 64 nanosensors.

The low-cost, low-power system can detect minimal concentrations of ammonia, chlorine gas, and methane, showing the values in an iPhone application. It can automatically communicate the results with other cellphones or the Enterprise's computer using Wi-Fi or 3G, and order massive teleportation evacuations if needed. OK, not true. No teleportation yet, but we are getting there. [NASA]"

Monday, November 09, 2009

My latest update on The Hobbit

I've been collecting information on the planning/writing/development of the del Toro Hobbit movie. And it's high time I put it out there for my distinct subset of readers who are Tolkien/Peter Jackson/cinema fans.

Here you go, from oldest to newest:

1. There wasn't much news for this past summer's Comic Con in San Diego. There was no announcement given on which actor has in the running for the part of Bilbo. What was news at the time was the looming spectre of yet another Tolkien family lawsuit.

2. Then in September, it was announced that the Tolkien family had settled their lawsuit.

3. This link isn't strictly about del Toro's work on The Hobbit, but it is related to The Lord of the Rings.

4. And then today, we still don't find out who will play Bilbo, but we do learn that del Toro will have some sort of mystery role as a background character. My money is on one of the goblins that capture Bilbo and Thorin's company while they travel through to the Lonely Mountain.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Living in a world of choices

We live in a country of overwhelming choices. I'm sure that you are not surprised by this fact. Anyone who walks into a grocery store could spend ten minutes trying to decide which cereal to buy. Even a trip to the magazine aisle in one small corner of that same grocery store could take up an astonishing amount of your time--and that is only if you wanted to pick between the many, many magazines on wedding dresses or body building.

Normally, we are glad of all of these choices. Or at least we don't think about them all that often because we have spent time learning which of the options we like and which ones we don't. Or maybe our childhood experiences led us to believe that Jif peanut butter was far superior to Skippy, so why bother dithering over one or the other. In the same way, we know that we like Kellogg's cereal and so we walk past all the stuff from General Mills--unless we happen to have a coupon or something.

But what if we actively choose to limit ourselves in ways outside the ordinary? What if we take our normal preferences and narrow the focus even farther? Suddenly, we become aware of the vast number of riches around us. Suddenly we realize how much we take for granted and maybe . . . just maybe we think about the amazing hardships that some experience every day, in ways that we don't fully appreciate.

You might know that I have been involved in a Soup for a Year challenge--something that I have concocted with friends from work. You can read about it over on the Soup for a Year blog that we are collaborating on. I noted on the initial post of this challenge that in the beginning I didn't think it would be that difficult to eat nothing but soup every day, for every meal. But, of course, once I limited myself to only soup, I realized the number of foods in my own home that I could not consider anymore. I am glad that I am not eating as much dessert and junky snacks as I usually did. But I find it hard to reject apples and toast and even a simple bowl of cereal or oatmeal.

But, if I can make this event into a small force for charitable donations for those people who don't get the opportunity to reject choices as I so often do, those people who would love to have the luxury of dithering over different types of cereal and ice cream at the grocery store . . . then that would make me feel good.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Didn't strike while the thought was hot

While driving down to Hilliard for the weekly Bible study group, I thought of lots of interesting words, phrases, story & observational tangents that might make for an interesting post.

But since I was driving, I had no opportunity to make any of it a reality.

Now I'm home again, but I'm tired and don't want to take the mental energy to see if I could recall any of it and type it into this post screen. Of course, this may very well guarantee that I will never be able to make those ideas see the light of day. If I can't expend the energy to recall them only three hours after they occurred to me, what are the chances that I'll be able to do a better job a day from now?

But I don't care.


In other news, I am involving myself in the insane Soup for a Year Challenge. It's got a blog and everything. Today marks the end of day 3! Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the effort and my friends who are involved. And if you here in the WWYG?! side of my digital life have any ideas about how to make it better and make it more meaningful, please make your thoughts known to me.


Monday, November 02, 2009


The moving continues at the office. I and a few holdouts remained in our "old" positions on the fourth floor while the rest of our colleagues moved down to the second floor. Meanwhile, new people with new job descriptions began to appear around me. I plugged my earbuds firmly into my ears, shoved my nose into my work, and tried to power through as best I could.

But it was hard.

I've got to try and be productive where I am while preparing for my own move (which is supposed to come over this weekend). So, starting next week I'll be reunited with my coworkers (and it'll feel so good).

Speaking of things that feel good, I left the chaos of work this afternoon to get my teeth cleaned. As I lay there, I reflected on reasons why they don't put ceiling mirrors in dental offices and to why I tend to keep my eyes closed when get a cleaning. It's just best to try and block out what is happening to you and not imagine what it must look like having someone shove their fingers into your mouth, prying back your lips like some kind of prize stallion on the auction block. Its simply very dehumanizing, even if it is necessary. So, close your eyes, relax, and let them do their job.

What a job it must be, though. I try to be conscientious to the position that they find themselves in, poking around in the mouths of strangers. I chew gum (or brush my teeth) if I can beforehand. I am conscious, if kind of powerless, to make their experience as pleasant as possible. I just hope that they can turn off the reality of the situation and treat me as a dehumanized training dummy or something. (I won't take it personally, I promise. I'll try to understand.)

After the cleaning, the hygienist tried to get me to sign up for a free whitening service that they are now offering. She claimed that it would be no expense to me, as long as I kept up my biyearly appointments. If I chose to partake, I'd get custom molds made of my teeth and they would give me two tubes of whitening gel that I must place in the molds and then wear around the house every day for an unspecified amount of time. Because I chose to decline, I never found out if the whitening gel was on your teeth for thirty minutes per day or three hours per day. Regardless, I didn't find the idea of wearing a gel-filled retainer around the house appealing. Plus, do I need it? (Well, sure. My teeth aren't Tom Cruise white. But I'm not in the appearance business.)

So, trying not to feel as if I was being given some sort of subtle hint, I declined. (Sorry ladies!) I figure all of the coffee I drink in the mornings would make it a waste of time anyway.

And, I think that is all for tonight here. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Apple less rotten this time?

I don't want to be too premature here, but I guess I am inviting slightly bad karma by being hopeful. But today I went BACK to the Apple store . . . again in the hopes that I might finally get to the bottom of my substandard laptop performance.

If you recall, this is my third trip on this issue. Trip one was to try and find out what was causing my iBook to suddenly cut off in the middle of things--whether I was plugged into the wall socket or sitting on the couch. The Apple Genius thought that the problem was maybe the main logic board. So, off shipped the laptop and I waited.

When I got it back about a week later, the problem was not resolved. So I took it back again and they again took my computer from me and I waited. When I got it back again, I saw that the main logic board had been replaced again but this time they also swapped out a component that conducted the electricity from the wall cord into the laptop itself. And since then, the computer has performed fine while plugged into the wall. But if I unplug, after about ten minutes, regardless of how much power the battery meter says, it shuts off. So, since a laptop is most useful when used as a portable . . . I went back for the third time.

I knew from my first visit that batteries have a finite life. And even though I was pretty certain that the battery was now the sole problem, I didn't want to pay for a new one. (Given that I've paid $300 for the initial repair, as well as gas and time for every visit.) And Lynda backed me up. Though she knew that my ability to be firm and angry about things was not my strong suit. I suggested that maybe she go in my place and put her own foot down--but she didn't.

I took Grace with me--half joking that if things got bad and if the Apple people didn't want to give me my free battery, I'd get her to start crying on cue and try to chip away at their cold, corporate, silicon hearts.

Turns out I didn't have to be a bad@ss and Grace didn't have to cry. They told me that my battery was old and they offered to replace it for me. And they said that they would do it for free. So, here's hoping that third times the charm.

I'll let you know.


In other news, the Soup for a Year blog has been added to a bit over the weekend and tomorrow is the big start date. I'll try to keep you updated with how things progress by linking to the Soup blog from Why Won't You Grow?! And I'll try to prevent that blogging from making this blog suffer.

I hope y'all had a good weekend. Mine was pretty good and I'm going to find a way to not work tonight and relax a bit before conking out for sleep.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Halloween was fine here in Westerville. The girls got into their costumes, which I count they have worn no less than three times BEFORE Halloween occurred, which I think is a great success. Grace had on her full vampiress regalia--complete with frightful wig and yellow fangs. Sarah was in full spy mode with her black outfit and makeup. And Hannah was as cute as every as a walking, talking lady bug.

Me? Well, I had on my wizard outfit that I have used many times in the past. But this time I was a Wiizard! (See the Wii remote in my hand in place of a magic wand?) And, yeah, I made that up on the spot.

Lynda took the kids trick -r- treating and I stayed on the porch with Hannahbug to give out the candy. Normally I blog the night away on my laptop. But with the battery being suspect and all the outdoor outlets devoted to decorative lighting, I twittered an facebooked my way through the evening with my trusty iPhone. The only technical mishap of the evening was my inability to download the "Thriller" song to my phone via the home network. (I had planned to play it on a loop to add a scary element to night. Oh well, maybe next year.)

Head on over to this list of tweets (in case you don't follow me habitually) so you can find out what you missed.

    Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Up in the air!

I posted some more audio ramblings over on my Twitter feed.

Listen to it now via this URL:

The picture below isn't everyone's Halloween costume in full--especially Hannah (obviously). But it's the best photo I could acquire at this moment. I took this at Inniswood last Sunday during the Halloween craft fair.

-- Posted From My iPhone (so, I apologize in advance for any typos I missed)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My latest insane idea

Yeah, I'm at it again--creating stuff I shouldn't create and thinking about doing stuff I probably shouldn't do.

There will be more . . . much more . . . (I hope) in the coming days.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Doing a meme that I stole

I swiped this from my friend G's semi-updated blog.

And since I've got nothing better that I can coherently put together right now, I'll calling an audible and punting. (Hey serious football fans . . . can you both call an audible and punt? I'm thinking not.)

Anyway, it's self explanatory . . . and (possibly?) semi-illuminating?

If you're surprised, let me know.

( ) Gone on a blind date
(x) Gave blood
(x) Skipped school
( ) Watched someone die
( ) Been to Mexico
(x) Been to Florida
(x) Been to Hawaii
(x) Been on a plane
(x) Been on a helicopter [It was in Hawaii.]
(x) Been lost
(x) Gone to Washington, DC
(x) Ridden in a police car [I've written about this before. The infamous night I went walking with Stan Parker.]
( ) Hugged a homeless person
(x) Swam in the ocean [And almost drowned in two inches of churning ocean. But I think I've written about that as well.]
( ) Swam with stingrays
( ) Been sailing in the ocean
( ) Cried yourself to sleep
(x) Played cops and robbers
(x) Recently colored with crayons
( ) Ran a marathon
( ) Sang Karaoke
(x) Volunteered at a soup kitchen
(x) Paid for a meal with coins only
( ) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch
( ) Seen the northern lights
( ) Been para sailing
( ) Been on TV
(x) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't [I'm sure I have, but I must have blocked the memory to protect my self image.]
( ) Made prank phone calls
( ) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(x) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(x) Fed a Giraffe [My annual zoo membership allows me to indirectly say "Yes."]
( ) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
( ) Fired a gun
(x) Danced in the rain
( ) Been to the opera
(x) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(x) Serenaded someone
(x) Seen a US President in person
(x) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(x) Watched the sunrise with someone
( ) Driven a race car
(x) Been to a National Museum
( ) Been to a wax museum
( ) Eaten caviar
(x) Blown bubbles
(x) Gone ice-skating [But those who went with me have blocked it out to protect their image of me.]
(x) Gone to the movies
(x) Been deep sea fishing
( ) Driven across the United States
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
( ) Gone snowmobiling
( ) Lived in more than one country
(x) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(x) Seen a falling star and made a wish
( ) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(x) Seen the Grand Canyon
( ) Seen the Statue of Liberty
( ) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
( ) Been on a cruise
(x) Traveled by train [But strictly in a tourist capacity, not as a way of life.]
( ) Traveled by motorcycle
(x) Been horse back riding
x) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
(x) Been to Disneyland/Disney world
( ) Been in a rain forest
( ) Seen whales in the ocean
( ) Been to Niagara Falls
( ) Ridden on an elephant
( ) Swam with dolphins
(x) Been to the Olympics [I've been to the Special Olympics, immediately following the mainstream Olympics.]
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
( ) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
( ) Been water-skiing
( ) Been snow-skiing
( ) Been to Westminster Abbey
( ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
(x) Been to a Major League Baseball game
( ) Been to a National Football League game
( ) Swam with sharks
(x) Been White Water Rafting
( ) Written a book or screen play
( ) Been to a Tournament of Roses Parade
(x) Lived in more than one state - like whoa
(x) Become a parent [Why else do you think I've colored with a crayon recently? I'm no artist.]
( ) Been Bungee Jumping
( ) Been to Vegas
(x) Been to a minor league baseball game
( ) Worked on a political campaign
( ) Been to the top of the World Trade Center or Empire State Building
(x) Ridden a Subway [Washington D.C. Metro--see above--and Atlanta's Marta]
( ) Been to your High School Reunion

Monday, October 19, 2009

At the heart of it all? Awesomeness

My internet world is pretty narrow. And those things that I blog about that are directly related to the internet itself consists of, I guess . . . Harry Potter, the Green (vlog)Brothers & assorted Nerdfighterness. And, I guess, television . . . but that isn't strictly reliant upon the internet.

Of course, I am involved in some internet-based stuff at work, but I don't talk about it much. (In general, I don't talk about work stuff in my blog for very sound, covering-my-ass type reasons.) But today some of those limited worlds collided in nice ways.

Last week one of my colleagues wrote a piece about Teen Read Week (which is going on now). As part of the celebration, teens go on the internet and vote for the YA book that they like the most. And yesterday, Teen Read Week's celebration the WWE (whaaaa?!) announced the winner.

Of course, the only way to describe this is . . . awesome!

If you've been reading me for the past year, you know how I dove into the Brotherhood 2.o obsession and have read Green's books. I've enjoyed the books immensely and am glad to see Green rewarded.

But what makes it even more interesting is that he is going to be in the Columbus area tomorrow! Some people from the office . . . but probably not me . . . are going to see him and maybe get some photos from the event (possibly even a brief interview reaction?) to serve as a great, news-worthy, follow up for btw.

This makes me very happy.

And to close, here is a video from Mr. Green in reaction to the Balloon Boy madness of last week. (I am happy to say I was NOT one of those who obsessed over the events described. But I do agree with what he says about it.)

For further insight into the nature of television, here is another interesting Green video.


Gyrowheel Eliminates Training Wheels in Kids' Bikes

If we get this for Hannah, she'll be the luckiest kid on the face of the earth . . . or at least in our family.

[h/t and all text swiped directly from Gizmodo]

Rarely one invention can save Humanity from annihilation, and push the world forward a couple of centuries in one go. The Gyrowheel is not it, but to millions of children worldwide, it'll feel like that. Check it in action:

LIke the Segway, the Gyrowhee uses gyroscopes to stabilize an object on wheels, using them to detect the when the vehicle is out of balance. Unlike the Segway, however, the Gyrowheel has a disk inside that spins in whatever direction is needed, creating a force that stabilizes the bike, even at low speeds. It's not the wheel itself that moves, it's the disk inside. According to Gyrobike, the manufacturer, this is called 'gyroscopic precession.' I call it 'black magic.'

Gyrobike says that their 12" wheel—which will be available on December 1 for around $100— will make any kid learn to ride a bike in 30 minutes to an hour, teaching "correct riding technique" in the process. A 16" model will be available in spring 2010.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Resurrecting another theme

I decided to resurrect another item left on the wayside tonight.

I posted some thoughts over on my sister site Raising the Awesome Family, this time focused on the trials and opportunities inherent in the holiday seasons.

More specifically, I thought I'd throw out some ideas about Halloween. You can read all about by clicking here.

And then enjoy this video of holiday insanity at the Boo at the Zoo event.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bucket hat & "Prisoner" shirt

If something is going well, don't change it I say. So, I'm back again tonight with another entry in The Clothing Project.

Tonight's entry? My Skyline Chili bucket hat and my new "Prisoner" inspired Glarkware t-shirt. They don't go together, but I thought I'd put them together for the purposes of this entry. And maybe my stream of consciousness composition style can lead me down synergistic paths that I can't foresee as I finish typing this sentence. Ohhh, can you feel the excitement?

So, the hat is older, and that is where we'll start.

I won this hat in a church auction approximately seven years ago. This was when Lynda and I were still living in Hilliard on the city's west side. We were toiling (and I DO mean toiling) along in the small Episcopal church there. Besides work and our (at that time) family of three, the church took up a lot of our energy. It was a small congregation and we were always trying to find ways to grow the membership and stand on our own two feet as an operating unit. Over the years that we lived in the area and attended that mission church, Lynda and I served on just about every position there was . . . except for priest. (And, there were Sundays that I almost served that function. But don't worry Mom--or Father Rick--I didn't attempt to consecrate anything.)

ANYWAY . . . one thing we did to raise some money once was an auction of items and services. It was a silent auction. The kind where you walk around, placing your bids on a sheet of paper beside each item up for grabs. You then can come back later and see if someone has upped the ante on your bid and whether or not you want to raise the price further. It was at this auction that I bought a nice piece of art made by a church member that is now hanging in the house. But, the hat . . .

The hat was part of a set of items--the bucket hat in all of its yellow, Skyline chili glory along with a golf towel. I won these items, not in the silent auction itself, but as some other sort of prize that I don't now remember why I won. But, I did and I've worn the hat off and on again ever since. There was once a time when I tried to convince myself that this would be my regular golfing hat. But it didn't really take because 1) I don't play golf enough to need a "regular" hat and 2) I've convinced myself that the hat looks best on me when I'm sporting a beard--I guess it's some sort of slacker motif that I've got in my brain. And since I don't have the beard now . . .

But, that isn't really the reason I wanted to bring the hat into the Clothing Project discussion. What I haven't brought up yet is the logo for Skyline Chili that is the hat's whole reason for being. Have you heard of Skyline Chili? (Chances are, if you aren't from the Midwest or live in the Ohio area, you haven't.) Its a chili franchise that originated in Cincinnati. I had never experienced it until I moved to Ohio. I ate it once, disliked it immediately, and have never gone back. I've even gone so far to say publicly that I won't EVER go back!

Now I know that this is upsetting to some of my Ohio readers. Heck, I might even be alienating them from ever reading WWYG?! again, but I've got to be true to myself. I don't like the taste of the chili and question the use of some of the spices that are in the "signature" chili recipe. (I am never good at identifying individual spices in foods, but something . . . maybe cinnamon? . . . just doesn't belong according to my tastebuds.

My dislike of Skyline Chili is not new to my friends and lunch companions at work. Whenever they get a hankerin' for some Skyline, the head across the street from the office, grab some of the mini coneys or a chili "threeway" (or whatever it's called), then come back to the lunch cafeteria ready to extol on the greatness of the Skyline experience. The cult is so strong that they even claim the cheddar cheese to be out-of-this-world good. Now, I've had the cheese, because they bring back extra in little dime bags to load up their coneys with, and I'm here to tell you that there is absolutely NOTHING extraordinary about this cheese. But they won't hear it. They claim that the cheese is special. They can't quite explain to my why this should be so. It simply is. I shake my head and disagree.

So, there is item #1. A Skyline Chili bucket hat that I have convinced myself only to wear on a golf course when I'm bearded. And I guess I must also wear it ironically. Picture that psychological/sartorial stance if you will. Any artist that can draw it will get special mention on the blog!

Item #2? My brand-spanking new Be Seeing You shirt from Glarkware.

Normally, Glarkware has good ad copy on their shirt pages. Sadly, this one didn't bowl me over in any way. But, no matter. I guess that is why I'm here tonight.

Those in the know will recognize that this shirt is a reference to the Prisoner TV show that I enjoyed watching this past summer. As I prepare for the AMC remake of the series set to premiere next month, I had to take an opportunity to get another excellent t-shirt to add to my collection. I can thank Lynda's brother M. and his wife A. for their generosity as this was an early birthday present for me.

I'll wear it in good health. And if I can find any way to wear it other than ironically, I'll try to do so.

But, until we meet again . . .

. . . Be Seeing You!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

These old socks

Back to one of my old themes today, focusing on my oldest pair of socks.

I bought these socks back in college. I think it was my freshman year at Georgia Southern. there are some things about that trip that I remember and that is what I am going to write about today, not the socks themselves which are pretty ordinary tan colored elastic socks that straddle the line between casual and dress. I haven't worn them all that much over the years, which is why they are still around about twenty years after the original purchase. Truth be told, there are things about the socks that I don't particularly like--especially how difficult they are to pull off of my feet. But maybe I'll get back to that.

The occasion of the sock purchase was something of an ordinary Saturday in the Spring (I think?) of 1991. My first year of college was coming to an end and I had been living in the dorm with my old high school friend G. On this Saturday, either because we needed clothes (not likely) or we needed something to do (more likely), we decided to drive to Savannah to go to the mall. Statesboro had a mall, but it wasn't much of one--though not as bad as my hometown's mall, which had been in steady decline for the last several years. Savannah, however, was the most "urban" area in this part of Georgia and therefore, had a mall to go shopping in when necessary. Plus, it was a manageable roadtrip for a weekend afternoon and got us off of the campus and out of our dorm rooms. (You can see that while we did have friends, we weren't burning up the social circuit at school. We just weren't those kinds of people.

So, of to Savannah we went. I don't remember many of the particular details of that trip. I guess I could make things up--the songs we listened to in the car, the sorts of conversations we might have had, but I'll try to stick to the things I do remember. I remember that I bought these socks in the Gap store and along with the socks, I purchases a thick sweatshirt/hood pullover that was a bright mustard yellow. Looking aback on that purchase now, i really wonder what I was trying to accomplish. I have a few yellow things in my closet--even today--but I'll admit that yellow is hard to pull off, especially in cold weather wear--which at the time I thought this hoodie/sweatshirt thing was. In actual fact, it was probably intended as something for those kids who were aspiring to be white boy rappers like Marky Mark or (God help us) Vanilla Ice. I, I hope you realize, was aspiring to be none of these things. I was probably simply attracted by thew bright yellow color--a color that said "Look at me!!"

(I know that this is a undercurrent of many of the clothes I wear . . . wanting people to take notice. But, moving on.)

So, I bought the socks and the obtrusive sweatshirt. What is funny is that I had an uneasy relationship with both items of clothing for as long as I had/have them. The sweatshirt is long gone to some charity donation box and the socks, as I said, I still have. But I knew that the sweatshirt wasn't quite me as soon as I got back to Statesboro and tried wearing it some. It's color was a bit too "Look at me!" and it wasn't sized correctly for me. (I say this like it is the shirts fault that I picked it in the wrong size.) It was always a bit big, too much for me to pull off in so many different levels. And as I've gotten older, I find that I like clothes that fit me tighter. I think they just make me feel more secure, more in control of what I'm doing than things that are too loose, too baggy, too outsized. (As usual, I push myself to be "outsized" at times, but find that I don't like it when I'm there. I want to pull back and slide into the crowed a bit more.)

That day was one of the first times I went out and purchased my own clothes--and I guess I learned a few things as I lived with those choices. You may find it remarkable that I was nineteen years old and had such limited clothing purchase experience. But, well, in the past I went with mom to get things and I just wore clothes for a very long, long time. I didn't go out in search of clothes that often. Maybe that was the reason that I still remember the day out of all the other weekends that we did things in college. Maybe it was because I came away from this taste of independence with nagging regret that I couldn't quite let go of. Maybe it's just because I saw the socks this morning and some of these memories came back and I decided to sit sown and write about it finally. Maybe it means something, maybe it doesn't. But I'm glad I took the time while sitting out here on the sun-dappled patio to put it out there.

It felt good to blog a bit again.

Let it be the start of a new commitment.

(Man, that is sappy! But I'll leave it there.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why So Angry, "Matrix?"

That, up there in the title, is my four-word review of "Wanted."

But, since I'm not writing this on Twitter, I'll strive for a few more words to sum up the film with slightly more precision--not that this film needs anything like care or concern. It was out there to make teenage boys fork out there money and sell some popcorn.

Now, you're probably wondering why I am getting to this film SOOOO late. I mean, it was in summer movie theaters two years ago, or something like that? Well, my answer to most everything (this included) is "I have three kids." I'll just leave it at that for now. Can we get back to the review?

Oh, and I could say SPOILER ALERT here, but . . . come on. Haven't you already seen this?

As you might surmise from my title above, this film owes a strong debt--perhaps its entire cinematic existence--to the Matrix trilogy. And there are many things about Wanted that made me think of Neo and his happy band of resistance fighters.

First, our main character Wesley lives a life of desperate anonymity. He's a ignorable drone in a cubicle office, doing other people's work for them. He hates it and he is heavily medicated to counteract his frequent anxiety attacks--most of which are triggered by his over-the-top office manager who terrorizes him with her stapler and bombastic voice. (Let's just say this lady ain't "Joan" from Mad Men.) But, much like Neo, who was also once an anonymous cube jockey, Wesley discovers during a strange encounter with a mysterious lady at the pharmacy (instead of a leather clad mystery lady at a rave), that all is not as it seems.

The pharmacy lady is Angelina Jolie, all tatted up and packing heat (weirdly shaped guns with joints that let her fire at 180 degree angles). Of course everyone knows she doesn't really need this . . . but that comes later. Jolie is "Fox." She saves Wesley from an assassin in a pharmacy shootup that would have made John Woo happy. The fight goes outside and morphs into a car chase that wasn't as inventive as the highway scene in Matrix 3 . . . or even the subway fight between Spidey and Doc. Ock in Spiderman 2. But no matter. The chase only propels the plot along more to the point where Wesley finds out that he is descended from a group of medieval assassins who can do freaky stuff like bend bullets (like Beckham) and that, they think, gives them the right to kill whomever they want.

The bullet bending and the fact that they get their orders from a loom.

Yeah, but its the Loom of FATE!!! Don't question its thread count!

Anyway, I've probably already spent more time of this review than was strictly necessary. So maybe I'll throw some questions and observations down at this point:

1. The healing pits remind me of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits. I'd say that this is quite intentional, since Wanted originated as a comic story. But I think they wanted them in the movie because it allowed the principal actors to be scantily clad often and dripping wet as well. (Remember that the audience is teenage boys . . . though they only showed Jolie in a healing pit once. But you only need once in the trailer, right?)

2. Speaking of Jolie. I didn't count, but she only had twenty five or thirty lines of dialogue in the whole film. If they were smart on the budget, they could have handed her the script, let her memorize it in the makeup chair while her body tattoos were being applied, filmed all of her scenes in one day, then let her go.

3. And speaking of talking . . . or the lack thereof. Inanimate objects had more to say in this film than Jolie. Early on, when Wesley is triumphantly storming out of the office to face his destiny, he smacks his best friend (who's also cuckolding him with his girlfriend) across the face with a computer keyboard. As the letters fly through the air (in slo-mo "bullet time") they spell out F@CK Y*U. Later, when Fox is bending a bullet, it has the word GOODBYE etched into it. I assume that the keyboard thing was never intended to be assumed real, but was the bullet pre-etched? And why would I even wonder about such things in a movie where bullets can travel in circles or be shot accurately from approximately 20 miles away.

Anyway, I won't go on. Except to say that while this movie did own its cinematic style, its basic story outline, and many other things from The Matrix, it replaced the slick futuristic "cool" of Neo and the Gang and substituted a whole lot of anger and gore. I guess that allows it to appeal to a different subset of the nerd audience, but it mostly turned me off. I could (in a bizarre way) aspire to be Neo, but I would not want to be Wesley.