Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Same "Macaca", Different Day

I live in Virginia, the home of soon-to-be-former Senator George Allen. The reason he is about to become a "former" senator is because he was caught on camera referring to a campaign staffer for the Jim Webb (his opponent) campaign as "macaca". The word, which is a slang term for a person of African heritage, cost Allen his seat in the Senate, and also torpedoed his ambitions to run for the Presidency in 2008. When the campaign ended last month, we Virginians breathed a sigh of relief. No more talk about a national politician from Virginia embarrassing himself with a racist remark

(sigh)

Enter Virgil Goode (pronounced "gewd"). The chair of the Charlottesville chapter of the Sierra Club received a letter from Goode's office in which the Congressman made some pretty heady remarks about his newly-elected fellow rep Keith Ellison and his religion:

When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand. I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way. The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran. We need to stop illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country. I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.
The funny thing is, the Sierra Club chair had not written anything to Goode concerning Ellison, or Islam in general.

I think it's perfectly okay if Ellison uses a Koran to be sworn into office. I think it's fine that Goode uses a Bible. If you get elected and want to use a copy of the phone book, Dianetics or X-Men issue 107, that's your right. The Constitution doesn't require you to swear on any holy or revered publication for you to take office. My larger problem is with the attitude taken by Goode that we need to keep Middle Easterners from coming to America and messing with our traditions and values. When asked about the letter, Goode apparently took pride in the letter, remarking "I think it speaks for itself."

What it speaks to me is that racism and bigotry is not dead among our elected representatives. The letter, in my mind, speaks to the reprehensible notion that the United States is a White Christians-only club that "minorities" live in only at "our" leisure. What this letter speaks to me is that Virgil Goode is a racially and religiously intolerant man.

It may surprise Mr. Goode that most people from the Middle East share the values of faith and freedom that most Americans have. Of course, that probably doesn't mean a thing to him; Virgil Goode probably sees only a horde of future Muslim politicians coming over the ridge to storm the Capitol, take down the American flag and replace it with an Islamic crescent while forcing people like him to submit to Allah and follow the Five Pillars.

I'm really looking forward to the day when people can accept one another in our nation, regardless of religion or ethnicity. Sadly, I think George Allen and Virgil Goode have pushed that day back just a bit farther than I'd like.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Randomities

Just a few quick things to note as I try to get through the Holiday Season:

  • Kathy is currently doing the DMA tour (currently at UGA), and I'm spending lots of time with Ian. Unfortunately, he seems to have finally found the "terrible" part of his Terrible Twos. Thankfully, my honey will be home tonight. Hopefully.
  • I found out earlier this week that Martin Nodell passed away. I wasn't aware of who he was either, until I heard that he created Green Lantern. GL was one of my favorite comic book characters growing up. I still would like to get a tattoo of the Green Lantern symbol one day.
  • Peter Boyle's passing was a little shocking, but not unexpected. I remember seeing him on an episode of Mind of Mencia and thinking, "Man, he's not looking too good". Little did I know. I also was not aware of the connection between him and John Lennon, nor of his training as a monk. Goodbye, Mr. Boyle.
  • Soy makes you teh ghey?
  • 11 days until Christmas. I have some things to say about the alleged "War on Christmas", but I'll wait until I get my thoughts together a bit better.
  • Anthony Field, aka Anthony Wiggle, has announced his retirement from the group. In kids' music parlance, this is like hearing The Beatles are breaking up. 'Course, by the time Ian knows about it and can understand, he'll probably be full on into Zambian death rap-metal-yodel fusion. In the meantime, I gotta relearn their names: Jeff, Murray, Greg, and Sam.
That's all I have for the moment. Talk amongst yourselves.

Friday, December 8, 2006

It's (iPod) Friday I'm in love

A long way for a joke that 1-2 people will get. Anyway, here's my iPod shuffle list for this Friday:

1) Eye In The Sky-Alan Parsons Project
2) Young Americans-David Bowie
3) Chromatic Death-Anthrax
4) Doing A Dance-The Wiggles
5) Hangar 18-Megadeth
6) Running On Empty-Jackson Browne
7) One After 909-The Beatles
8) Little Things-Bush
9) Points of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer-Jay Z/Linkin Park
10) Letter To A John-Ani DiFranco
11) World Hunger-Sam Kinison
12) Dreams-Van Halen
13) Cold Sweat-James Brown
14) Dazed and Confused (live)-Led Zeppelin
15) Her Majesty-The Beatles

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Thursday I don't care about you...

I went to the doctor today to get myself checked out. As some of you know, I have been suffering from sinus trouble for years. I've also had to contend with allergies, but it hasn't been as big an issue as the sinuses. I also have a case of sleep apnea, which I've been having more and more trouble with as years have gone by.

Earlier this week, I had to take Ian to the doctor's office to see about coughing fits he has been having recently. Turns out he has a sinus infection, and the pediatrician prescribed some antibiotics for him to take to clear it up. I figured, if he can get his cleared up somehow, why not me? I made an appointment to see the doctor and went in this afternoon.

I told her about my symptoms, and after taking a good long look at my ears and nose, she informed me that I had a deviated septum. This probably resulted from taking a softball to the nose about 11 years ago. However, while it may explain some aspects of my health, it doesn't address them all.

I'm supposed to go see an ENT next week, but we have no money left in our flex plan account for the year, so I'm gonna have to reschedule until January. In the meantime, I've been given a prescription for amoxicillin, which I hope will alleviate some of the sinus crappola.

Other than that, I'm feelin' fine and dandy! You?

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

And Wednesday too...

When it rains, it pours. Yesterday I found out that a friend of mine who lives in California may have to have his foot amputated.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Tuesday's gray...


Which Famous Revolutionary Are You?

Nelson Mandela

“I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities."

Personality Test Results

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Monday, December 4, 2006

I don't care if Monday's blue...

Today was pretty busy for me. We had a weekend of parades, "Breakfast with Santa"s and other holiday activities around the county, not to mention one of our high schools playing in the state semi-finals, so I had LOTS of photos to process for tomorrow's deadline this morning.

Then about noon, Kathy calls me and informs me that I would need to take Ian to the pediatrician this afternoon. He's been coughing in fits lately, and we were worried that he had developed a case of bronchitis. I got off work about mid-afternoon and took the boy to see our pedia.

it turns out that Ian has a bit of sinus infection, so he wrote up a prescription for an antibiotic to take for the next few days. After we got out, it was too late for us to go back to school/work, so the two of us hit Wal-Mart and did some Christmas shopping. Bought a few things, but I'm not done yet.

When we went to pick up Kathy from work, it turns out that while she was gone to audition Friday, she received three boxes of Pistoulet and a shelf stereo system at her office, all of which we had to haul home SOMEHOW in our Prius. And yet, we managed to do it. Don't ask me how, but we did.

In any case, it felt good to get home, but there was still one more surprise waiting for us in our mailbox. Kathy got a biography request from Who's Who for possible inclusion in their next annual book. We're still not sure what she's done to even deserve consideration of a mention, but we figure that it's worth submitting anyway. If nothing else, it's one more line on Kat's resume.

So, I'm gonna go now, take a shot of NyQuil, and hit the sack. tomorrow looks to be a busy day as well for Clintster and family. And so to bed.

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Mr. Mom II: Electric Boogaloo

Kathy went off on part one of a (hopefully) three-part journey to audition for grad schools. See her blog for details of the trip and how it went. Meanwhile it was just me and the buddy at the house for two days.

Mind you, this wasn’t the first time that it’s been the two of us “bachin’ it”, but it always seems like she’s always gone too long anytime she goes away, to borrow from a great, underrated song. Luckily Kat had to leave on Friday morning, so it wasn’t too traumatic on the boy. When I picked him up from daycare that evening, I asked him if he wanted chicken or pizza. He immediately exclaimed “PIZZA!” and all the way home did a little “pizzapizzapizZA” chant.

After we got home, for the half-hour it took me to get the oven warmed up and the pizza cooking, he added to his performance by doing what shall henceforth be known in our house as the “pizza dance”. It consists mainly of jumping up and down at about 80 beats per minute while singing the above mentioned pizza chant. I have to say to his credit that, after all that, he worked himself into enough of a lather that he ate two slices of pizza all by himself!

Saturday was pretty uneventful, although I had to dissuade Ian from perusing his new favorite activity: pushing the television when he sees someone or something on the screen he doesn’t like. Yesterday morning, he managed to push the TV about a foot into the entertainment cabinet, which has no back, BTW. I’m just lucky that 1) the glass screen keep the rest of the TV counterweighted, and 2) we didn’t get the HDTV that I was waiting in line for last week.

A couple of times, we heard twigs being blown against the door, and Ina ran toward the office yelling “Mommy! Mommy!”, but alas it was not to be. She did finally come home (after contemplating sleeping over at her mom’s to break the trip up) about an hour before the boy’s bedtime. By this point, I was a bit exhausted being Mr. Mom for the Saturday, and glad to see my wife come through the door.

She has to do this again in a couple of weeks, but it’s in the middle of the week, so my worries over child-rearing will be limited to early morning, and evening hours. Wish us both luck.

Friday, December 1, 2006

World AIDS Day

Support World AIDS Day

In case you haven't heard, today is World AIDS Day. It's been 25 years now since the first cases of the disease were reported, and to date it has taken nearly 3 million lives. As of today, almost 40 million people are living with HIV and AIDS. Worldwide, 4.3 million new cases of HIV were reported in 2006, of which half a million were children under the age of 15.

In North America alone, 36,000 people dies of AIDS this year alone. There are half a million people living with HIV, and 68,000 new cases have been reported.

Although it has moved into the background, AIDS and HIV is still a threat to us all. Learn the facts and keep yourself protected.

Links to peruse
KNOWHIVAIDS.org
Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
National Institutes of Health
World AIDS Day
ACT UP/New York

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is it a month already?

Actually, I suppose I should title this post, "has it been five years already?", but I'm kinda doing a wrap-up of the past month's worth of blogging here. First, though, I must address some issues.

I started blogging about 5 1/2 years ago, at the urging of my friend Crystal. She had a blog, and I was interested in putting down my thoughts, feelings and experiences as I went through a season at a summer historical drama, located near my home at the time, in North Carolina. I figured it'd be a kind of a cool thing, since I had very little else to do. To be certain, I had no girlfriend to distract me!

All that changed that summer. Late in the season, I fell in love with the woman I was paired onstage with. As the season drew to a close, I decided to start a new blog to chronicle the misadventures of my sure-to-be-doomed romance. Luckily the romance bloomed into a full-fledged marriage, and the sweetest two-year old boy you'd ever care to meet.

The blog, however, has taken a bit of a downturn in recent years. I sort of fell off my game once we moved to Virginia, and my internet connection became tenuous at best. I also had some personal issues to deal with, and I didn't feel much like blogging about them, lest I scratch off some freshly scabbed over mental wounds. I've pretty much moved on from those experiences, though.

So what did it take for me to start blogging regularly again? Well, frankly, it was an idea I got sort-of secondhand from my friend Ombra. At the beginning of this month, she posted an item from someone else saying that this was National Blog Posting Month. It encouraged people to post at least once a day on their blogs. I thought, "Hell, at least I can try it and see how far I get before I just lose interest." Even my wife thought I wouldn't be able to sustain the pace.

And yet, here I am. I think I've managed to post every day this month, despite being sidetracked by one thing or another, and starting off a day late. I believe this may be my most productive month ever, blogging-wise.

In the past month, I have blogged about concerts I went to, and a Christmas pageant I was in. I've shared shuffle lists from my iPod, and listed the songs my son can now sing by himself. I've told tales of game show near-glory, restaurant trauma, and Halloween terror. I have opined on election, and more importantly, I have rolled in the sweet smelling schadenfreude of K-Fed's bogus music career. I punted a couple of times and put up small things I scrounged up on the internet. Most importantly, I said farewell to a friend of mine who went far too soon and much too randomly for my taste.

Will I keep this up through December, and in succeeding months? I don't know. It seems every time I announce I'm back to blogging, I get distracted, discouraged, or otherwise disconnected, and I find another couple of months have passed me by. I won't make any promises, but I will do my best to keep a regular schedule.

See ya tomorrow, I hope.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Bestest Christmas Pagent Ever

The year was 1996. In the science fiction world, Khan and his followers had just escaped prosecution by the survivors of the Eugenics War, with the help of a DY-100 sleeper ship. Either that, or Cyberdyne Systems was busy building Skynet, blissfully unaware that it would launch Judgement Day in less than a year. Or, apes would rise up against their human masters, or the Jupiter II would become lost on its voyage to Alpha Centauri. Ummm, take your pick. All's I know is that Austin Powers was still frozen.

Anyways, in the real world, I had just completed my second season at Snow Camp, was looking for a way to get back into college, and had performed in The Homage That Follows. As that show was going into production, I found out that my church was planning a pretty elaborate Christmas production, based on the oratorio "The Gift of Christmas." I found out there were roles to be played, and I decided I wanted to be a part of the production, one way or another.

I was a bit nervous about auditions, since my last Christmas play experience had come about 20 years earlier. I decided to audition for the role of Joseph, and sought out the help of my friends the Appersons to prepare myself. There were several men vying for the part, but I somehow managed to trump them all to become the step-father of Jesus.

We got into rehearsals, and were well on our way to getting the show ready, when our director had to take a leave of absence. I can't remember where she went off-hand, but suddenly we had a Christmas program that needed to get going within a week or so.

Joy and I took it upon ourselves to get the show up and running. We sketched out the set and got hold of materials to construct a stage, a manger, and a house scene. We sought out help with costumes and makeup from friends in the community. We took all of our theatre knowledge and threw it into the production.

Somehow, magically, maniacally, it all came together. The day of the pageant, my parents came to see the show. I was fitted into my costume, and combed out my beard. The makeup people had built a crepe beard for me to wear in the show, but I had rebuffed it, seeing as how I could grow a convincing beard in pretty short order. Still, I was feeling a bit nervous before the show.

Now, I'm not one to feel stage fright, and I had been singing in our choir for the previous four years, but this was a different situation altogether...

Dr. Rumack and Randy: This was a different situation.

Ahem. As I was saying, this was different from being on a secular stage or singing with other voices in the choir. This was me playing Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, miked and singing solo, before God and everybody. Did I mention it was the putative 2,000th anniversary of Christ's birth?

In this situation, I did what I had to do. Ten minutes before the performance, I hurridly excused myself from the cloud of wise men, shepherds, angels, and blessedly virginal mother-to-be, headed for the men's room, pulled the hem of my headdress back, and promptly threw up.

A few minutes later, Joy and I headed to places in the sanctuary, set to sing our songs. She went out first and sang her part wonderfully. I went out and as I was singing, my voice cracked. Badly. Several times. People tried to reassure me after the show, saying that my nervousness just added that much to the performance, because it made Joseph seem more real and human. It was nice of them, but I still felt as if I could have done better.



It was once a dream of mine to play Christ in an Easter production around the time that I turned 33. Some people have dreams of running a Fortune 500 company, I had that. Sadly, I never got that chance. However, looking back, doing "The Gift of Christmas" was a good experience for me. As I noted before, it brought all of my theatrical skills to bear, and I learned my strengths and weaknesses. I also have to say that I look pretty good in biblical garb, if I may take a moment to Narcissize.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ian's iPod Tuesday

OK, Ian doesn't have an iPod, but he does have a voice, and these are the songs that he can sing, when he wants to:

Itsy Bitsy Spider
The Alphabet Song
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Old MacDonald
Frere Jacques
If You're Happy and You Know It
Wheels on the Bus

Monday, November 27, 2006

28 Days Earlier

Well, after getting home and taking a break the last couple of days to unwind, Kathy and I (well, mainly the Kath) got the house decorated for Christmas. The tree’s up, the tchotchkies are out, and the outdoor lights are strung up. We tried to string up lights along our porch, but several of our strings were half or entirely burnt out.

I’ll try to put up some pics of our decorations in the next day or so. Sorry this isn’t a huge post, but I’m not in a huge posting kind of mood. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

iPod Shuffle Friday Sunday

Since it was a holiday weekend, here's the first 15 on my shuffle list this week:

1) Nightswimming-REM
2) Other Voices-The Cure
3) Aneurysm (1990 Demo)-Nirvana
4) Brother Woodrow/Closing Prayer-Afghan Whigs
5) Ain't Talkin' 'bout Love-Van Halen
6) Same Ol' Situation-Motley Crue
7) Sunday Bloody Sunday-Pearl Jam
8) Queer-Garbage
9) I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry-Johnny Cash
10) The Great Gig In The Sky-Pink Floyd
11) Love Song-Tesla
12) 8 Piece Box-Southern Culture On The Skids
13) Adam And Eve-Ani DiFranco
14) Love Me Do-The Beatles
15) Boogie Oogie Oogie-A Taste Of Honey

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Thanksgiving Song

We spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my mother-in-law’s house. This was the fifth out of six Turkey Days since I met Kathy that we’ve celebrated at her place. The other one was at our place here in Virginia. My last Thanksgiving with my siblings was in 2000, when I went to Georgia with a tub full of seafood from the restaurant I worked at, and took a photo with my other three sibs and their spouses/fiancée.

The trip down was a bad one. We left about two hours later than I thought we would. It rained on us the whole trip through, and Ian whined for most of the second half. Somewhere around Wilkesboro, I began fantasizing about the Canadian Club and cola that my mother-in-law proffers me whenever we first come to her house. Luckily, it was there the moment that we arrived.

Thanksgiving was about what you would expect; lots of food and plenty of camaraderie. As with previous years, I carved the turkey, and as I did last year, I made my extra-rich mashed potatoes and gravy. In fact, most of the adults in our house made something for the dinner. Carol did the turkey, green bean casserole and cranberry sauce. Julie made sweet potatoes, and pumpkin crisp for dessert. Kathy baked a pumpkin pie. Patrick made nothing, but he held down the couch pretty darn well.

For the second year running, Ian ate none of his Thanksgiving dinner. He did eventually have a crescent roll, but we just have trouble getting anything down his throat that isn’t carbs or chicken (“chickey,” he calls it.) I know turkey is close, but he doesn’t get that yet. Maybe next year we can introduce him to the “turkey nap.”

Pat and I spent a good bit of time on the couch watching football, and discussing the finer points of the sport. Julie and Kathy hung out some, but I really wish they had not decided to hold a deep ontological argument as I was trying to get some sleep in anticipation of Black Friday. I was up until 12:30 am listening to them talking. I finally closed the door between my “bedroom” (Carol’s office) and the living room, only to trap Abby, Pat and Julie’s dog, with me.

Abby soon wanted to go back into the living room, and began to growl to get me to let her out. The closed door also gave a subconscious signal to Kat and Julie that it was okay to continue their religious Chautauqua at a substantially louder volume level. I can’t remember if I fell asleep because they stopped talking or because I passed out from exhaustion. All I know is that the next thing I know, Pat was knocking at my door telling me it was 3:30 and time to go.

We drove back yesterday, because we wanted to beat this weekend’s traffic rush. The trip was much more pleasant and enjoyable than the trip down. We stopped at a truck stop/Taco Bell for our dinner, and while we were there, I saw what had to be the world’s saddest claw game. There was a distinct paucity of prizes to be won, and what was in there was nothing that I would willingly spend 25¢ for. When the “top” prize is a stuffed figure of Meg from Family Guy, maybe it’s time to do a little refill.

In any case, we’re back home and preparing for the Christmas season. Kathy has to take two trips over the next couple of weeks, and we’re planning to have an open house. It should be an interesting month.

Happy Holidays, y’all!

Friday, November 24, 2006

When Black Friday Comes...

I just woke up from a nap, thanks to the first Black Friday I've ever gone through. My mother-in-law and brother-in-law decided to go to Walmart to try and get a 52" projection TV for $500. Kathy saw this ad, and thought it might be nice if I could secure us one of these TVs for that price, seeing as how they had HDTV built in.

I woke up at 3:30 this morning, and went out with the in laws to Walmart. We waited for about an hour outside the store, drinking coffee and fantasizing about a killer Super Bowl party. When the appointed hour came, we rushed into the store, and made our way to the electronics department, just in time to find out that all the TVs had been sold out.

My mother-in-law ended up buying two smaller HDTVs, and a portable DVD player. I ended up getting nothing but an exhausted feeling, and a steak biscuit combo at Hardee's. Meh; maybe I'll do it again next year, but I'll be sure to go to bed much earlier (and with earplugs) if I do.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Giving Thanks

I hope I can get this in before midnight, but if I can't, that's cool.

These are the things I am thankful for this year:

My wife and my son, the two greatest joys in my life. They make me laugh, give me love without question, and they complete me (apologies to Cameron Crowe).

My friends, be they a room away or across the nation. I've learned that even if I go months or even years without seeing or hearing from them, that we are never far from the thoughts of one another. To those of you who I haven't seen in years, I wish you well, and hope to see you again someday.

Making it to 40 without becoming all the bad things that were predicted of me. I may not be where I want to be yet, career wise, but I'm getting there. As I once said in a children's show, "slow and steady wins the race."

My family, by blood and by marriage. You are a complete and total crazy quilt of opinions, likes and dislikes, quirks, and temperaments. Thank you for being who you are; I wouldn't have it any other way.

My job. There may be days where it seems like I'd be better off playing "Mr. Mom" all day long, but I still feel what I do is a vital part of the company's operation, and even if I am sometimes overused and underpaid in that capacity, it's what I have.

My country. I am grateful for living in a nation where I can speak out against my elected leaders if I disagree with them, without fear of reprisals or life-threatening consequences. I am glad to live in a land where, if I feel the government is not serving the general welfare, I (and millions of my fellow citizens) can change the government without lifting a gun or making a Molotov.

My God. I thank my Holy Father for giving me life, guiding me through the steps of my life, protecting me from destruction from without and within, and for giving me the gifts I have to survive and thrive in this world.

Oops, I didn't make it to midnight. Looks like I'll have to shake off the turkey nap tomorrow (or later today) to post about... something!

'Til then, true believers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Appointment Viewing

When I was growing up, we only had three channels to choose from on TV. Cable was just dawning in the US, but the places we lived were too remote to really be reached by the relative luxury of 13 channels of televised entertainment.

As a result, our family learned to like what was on the networks, or read a book, go play or (God forbid) talk to one another. Actually, we found ourselves hooked by what we saw on the tube in those days. I’m tempted to go into a full-blown discussion of what we used to watch in the “good ol’ ‘70s”, but that’s not the point. The point here is that back then, we got the Big Three programming, and we liked it.

As time wore on, and we moved around the Southeast, our family finally got cable. We saw programming from different parts of the country, thanks to independent TV stations like WTBS and WGN, and nationwide, cable exclusive programming. It made a bit of a dent in our network viewing habits, but prime time was still pretty much all theirs.

Time passed. I moved out of my parents’ house and got cable of my own, and then satellite TV. The universe of TV went to 30 channels, then 70, and then hundreds. My attention began to shift in prime time to what I could find outside of the Big Three, which had become the Big Four with the debut of the Fox network. I found myself less and less enchanted by the nets’ offerings.

A couple of years ago, I sat in my chair in my living room, and as I flipped around the channels looking around for something to watch, I realized there was no network show that I had any particular loyalty to. Sure, I would watch the occasional episode of “The Simpsons”, and “American Idol” would manage to suck me in during the auditions and the final couple of weeks, but there was nothing that really screamed “appointment viewing” for me.

That all changed a little over a year ago. In the summer of ’05, I began seeing promos on NBC for a new show called “My Name Is Earl.” I was drawn in by the fact that it starred Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee, and the concept of a show based around the theory of karma intrigued me. When it debited that fall, I watched and all my hopes for the show were realized. I started taping it, and lo and behold, I had a brand new “appointment viewing” on a broadcast network.

I wasn’t sure that it could happen again, but it did a few weeks ago. I had just gotten home from Roanoke, and the auditions for “Jeopardy!”, and I was looking for something to watch. I turned to the local station that broadcasts “Jeopardy!” and decided to watch the show that came after it.

It was “How I Met Your Mother.” That night’s episode was one centered around Halloween, so there was a bit of gimmick writing involved in the ep. Still, it was cute, and had some genuinely funny moments. I decided to tune in the next week and see if the positive things I had heard about it really were true.

I wasn’t disappointed. The episode was very well written, and featured a great mix of wordplay and visual humor. The characters seemed fleshed out, and there was a bit of pathos mixed in with the yuks. What really sold me on the series, though, was one word. If you’ve seen the episode, you’ll instantly go “ohhhhh yeah!” and if not, it’s your loss.

Swarley.

This one word, inspired by a badly misspelled name on a coffee cup, had me rolling. The way that “Swarley’s” friends teased him over the name, and the way they worked it into their conversations was beautiful, as was Swarley’s reaction to the name. Even when he pretended not to care about being called this new name, you could see the pure hatred burning inside him for this nickname. Neil Patrick Harris played it brilliantly, and the next day, Kathy and I were calling one another Swarley and passing e-mails back and forth with the name as the subject line or in the body of the message.

“How I Met Your Mother” has grabbed me and won’t let go. Last night’s episode, in which one of the characters has a deep-seated, secret fear of malls, was another classic. I learned for the first time about the world of “slap bets”, and the payoff to the character’s reason for avoiding malls was damn near perfect. For the record, I think I would rather be associated with Canadian porn than 90s Canadian teen pop.

So, there are two shows I am committed to watching regularly. Any other suggestions out there?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Clintster On Tour Part 2

I think this Blog Posting Month exercise is really helping me to reawaken the writing spirit in me. Just thought I’d mention that here at the top of the post today.

Now, on with the show…


Today, I’d like to talk about the last concert I went to, not counting classical/art song recitals.

Sonic Youth/Pearl Jam
Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA-August 7, 2000



It was the summer of 2000. I had moved in to an apartment in Kingsport, TN, with my friend Andrea. We were planning on opening a theatre in the town, and providing a place where we could grow artistically and provide a training ground for our friends and for people new to theatre.

Unfortunately, we had a few problems getting our project off the ground, and I soon found myself feeling alone, even with my friend and roommate. I was wondering if anything was ever going to happen with the theatre, or with my personal growth. Then, a few weeks after I moved in, Andrea informed me that I would have to move out within 6 weeks time.

I called my parents and told my mom about my situation. My birthday was coming up, and I was sure it was going to be a miserable one. Mom asked me if there was anything I wanted for my birthday, and that’s when the light started to shine.

I remembered reading in the newspaper that Pearl Jam was on tour that summer, and I had read that they would be playing the Philips Center in Atlanta on August 7, which happened to be my birthday. I had thought about how nice it would be to see them then, but I just didn’t know how I was going to earn the money to see them before it came up Here was my chance, however. I sheepishly asked my mother if she would mind getting me tickets to the show. She agreed, even though it was a rock concert and she was not exactly a rock fan.

All that was left was for me to get down to Georgia to go to the show. Mom ordered the tickets and sent them certified mail to my apartment. Andrea and I had been working on a drama camp project at a local dance school, so once we mounted an almost totally improvisational version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves”, we split our $200 payday, and I held on to as much as I could to make the trip to Georgia.

I took off August 5, and made my way first to Aiken, SC, where I went to school and where many of my friends still live(d). I had two tickets and wanted to find someone who would go with me on short notice. Unfortunately, no one I asked was able to go with me. My concert buddy from my last Pearl Jam show, Mike, was in mourning for a friend and co-worker who had been found murdered in her apartment a few days before. Most everyone else had to work or had summer school. Sadly, I went down to my parents’ place in central Georgia to celebrate my birthday with them.

I had cake and ice cream with them, and sat around talking about my adventures in Tennessee, and I discussed alternatives to my present situation with them. Finally, it was time for me to get to the show. My parents lived a little over two hours from Atlanta, and I had stayed long enough to have a birthday dinner with some of my other relatives. I figured I was going to miss Sonic Youth, but I could live with that. I was determined to see my boys, however.

I got in my dad’s pickup (I was lucky to have coaxed my Jeep Cherokee down from Tennessee) and got into Atlanta a little after 8. I found someone outside the arena who was willing to take my extra ticket, and I took off myself for the interior of the Philips Arena.

A few minutes after I found my seat, Pearl Jam hit the stage and tore the roof off the joint. It felt like my biggest birthday party ever, with my favorite band ever providing the music. I was a good way away, but Eddie Vedder drew me in to where I felt like I was at the front of the stage. My only regret was that I didn’t have someone there with me to share the experience.

This was a significant concert for several shows. It made PJ the band I had seen in concert more than any other. It was the first (and so far, only) concert I have seen in the Philips Arena. It was the first concert I ever went to alone. And so far, it is the last one I’ve gone to see. Hopefully, it won’t be my last rock concert ever, but I think in order to see another one, we need to move somewhere more urban, and have someone willing to watch our boy for the evening. Here’s hoping.

Setlist:
Release
Corduroy
Insignificance
Animal
Hail Hail
Nothing As It Seems
Rival
Given To Fly
Light Years
Do The Evolution
Even Flow
In Hiding
Daughter/(The Wrong Child)
(Romance, classical song Eddie learned in Barcelona)
Better Man
Nothingman
Leatherman
Grievance
Rearviewmirror
1st encore:
Once
Breakerfall
Immortality
Crazy Mary
Small Town
Porch
F*ckin' Up
2nd encore:
Yellow Ledbetter


Next Time: Lollapalooza and the great big pass-out

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shame and Happiness

Time heals all wounds, and I find my wounds left from the sudden death of my friend David beginning to heal over. It is a slower process than I would like, to be sure, but it is happening.

Yesterday I waited for someone, anyone to call me from South Carolina to let me know how things were going. I thought there was going to be a gathering the night before in order to let everyone vent and mingle together. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen, neither the gathering nor the call. I called my friend Joy late last night to find out if she had met up with anyone, but she didn’t answer.

I felt a bit hurt at what I perceived as a slight; it was pure egotism on my part. After a while, I reminded myself that if anyone had gotten together, that the emotion of the weekend and the memories of our departed took precedence over calling me. There were far bigger things going on than connecting with me. Having assured myself that there was nothing personal going on, I went to bed.

This morning I went to church and realized, to my horror, that I had missed a training session for Sunday school teachers because I had become upset over David’s death. After church, I got a call from Joy, explaining that she had not gone out anywhere Saturday night, and that by the time I called, she had already gone to bed. We then swapped several phone calls as I tried to navigate her to the site of the funeral service.

A couple of hours later, my friend Cliff called me from Chili’s. He was with a group of mutual friends who had gone to the funeral, and he passed the phone around to let me talk to them. Some I had last seen back at our theatre department’s reunion in June; a couple I had not seen since my friend Holli’s wedding in 1999. It was good to reconnect, even if it were only by phone. Some of them even expressed hope that when my family and I move south next year, we all can get together more often and on much more pleasant circumstances.

I’m feeling many different emotions right now. Overall sadness at the loss of my friend. Shame at my egotistical desire to have people call me Saturday. Relief at the connections I did make this afternoon. Finally, hope that this will lead to renewed communication with those I reestablished with.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pleasant Valley Saturday

We got an early start to our Christmas season today. We worked on getting our living room cleaned up and Kathy put up our Christmas tree. We figured we’d better do it now, since the next few weeks are going to be absolute Hell for us. Well, maybe not absolute Hell; things could definitely be worse.

This was also a momentous occasion for us, as we took Ian’s crib and put it in the attic. He’s been sleeping pretty well in his “big boy” bed, and the crib has pretty much become a semi-open storage unit in the meantime. Hopefully, we’ll be able to use it for kid #2 in the near future; we’ll see how that goes once we move away from here.

Tonight, many of my friends are gathering in South Carolina to remember our mutual passed away friend David. Someone described it as being our group’s “Big Chill” moment. I just wish that I were there to be a part of it. In any case, I’m waiting for one of them to call me so I can talk to some of them and commiserate.

Go Buckeyes!

Friday, November 17, 2006

iPod Shuffle Friday

Hey, hey, hey... do the iPod Shuffle:

1) Three Days - Jane's Addiction
2) Hello - Lionel Ritchie
3) Origin of Love - Hedwig and the Angry Inch
4) Goodbye Cruel World - Pink Floyd
5) With Arms Wide Open - Creed
6) Yellow Submarine - The Beatles
7) Pilate - Pearl Jam
8) La Resistance Medley - South Park Cast
9) You're The One That I Want - Olivia Newton-John
10) Let It Be - The Beatles
11) Hamburger Train - Primus
12) Dance The Night Away - Van Halen
13) China Girl - David Bowie
14) Three Times A Lady - The Commodores
15) We'll Meet Again - Johnny Cash

More stuff later tonight or tomorrow

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Culture War Report

I’m still trying to get over the death of my friend David. It was a shock, but it is getting easier to handle. Several of my friends called me over the past couple of days have called me to check in, hear a friendly voice, and commiserate over this event. I want to thank Ombra, Cliff, Holli, Steve and Chuck for calling me. I love you guys.

I wanted to share a little story from this afternoon. I had just gone to Ian’s day care center to pick him up and bring him home for the evening. I had the radio tuned in to our local talk station, and kinda listening to Bill O’Reilly. He was talking about the special OJ Simpson is shopping around where he talks about what might have happened “if” he had murdered Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

As O’Reilly went on and on, he began to talk about how this was part of the “culture war” that he (O’Reilly) was carrying the banner for. He went on about all the other influences that he was concerned about. As O’Reilly ratcheted up the rancor, I heard a voice coming from the seat behind me…

Ay, bee, tee, dee, ee aff, gee…

It was Ian, of course. Over the past couple of weeks, he has gotten into the habit of singing songs to himself. His current repertoire consists of “The Alphabet Song”, “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”, and “Old Macdonald.” For the next few seconds there was a battle between Bill O’Reilly and Ian McGuire.

“…in the culture war…”

…ait, ay, day, kay…

“…polluting our children…”

…ell, em, en, oh, pee…

“…these torture movies…”

…cue, ar, ess…

“…violent hip-hop…”

…tee, you, vee…

In those few seconds, it finally hit me. Maybe our society isn’t perfect, and there are things I definitely don’t want to expose Ian to until he’s ready. However, I don’t need Bill O’Reilly to tell me what’s good or bad for my child, or to call me a “secular progressive” for looking to improve the things in our world that need improving.

The best thing I can do for my boy is to be there and to guide him in the way he should go. He’ll make mistakes, and he’ll probably get into some things that I don’t necessarily approve of. I just need to be there and be the best dad that I can be. I reached over and turned off the radio…

…dub’u, ex, why an’ dee
now I no my ay, dee, ee,
nets tie won you si’ wif mee”

Ian and I rode the rest of the way home with no radio, but with plenty of music. We sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, “Old Macdonald”, and another rousing rendition of “The Alphabet Song.” I’ll take that over another rehashing of the “Culture War” any day of the week.

This is no talking point, this is the real stuff.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Remembering Dave

I can’t quite remember the first time I met David McLaughlin, but I have never been able to forget him since. I’m sure many other people who knew him feel that way as well. We were in theatre together in college.

The first play I remember us being together in was a children’s show called “The Wish Peddler.” Dave looked like a frat boy, but he found himself as an actor on the USCA stage. His first show he auditioned for, and he wound up with the lead role; that was one thing the two of us had in common.

In the 3 years that we worked together, studied together and partied together, Dave put his all into his art. He partied like there was no tomorrow, too. At cast parties, Dave usually played the part of the host; whether or not it was his house, whether or not he knew the people actually throwing the party. You could find him with a drink in one hand, a smoke in the other, talking about whatever was on his mind. Arts, sports or the world in general, Dave was everywhere you wanted to be.

And yet, as gregarious as he could be, Dave was not a simple social butterfly. He could be introspective and play the part of life advisor when the situation called for it. I remember one time when I was mooning over one of many women I had unrequited love for, I was giving Dave a ride in my car and he asked me about this woman, who I’ll call “Madame X.”

I told him my tale of woe, wondering if I’d ever get together with Madame X, or meet anyone who would take me as I am. Dave listened, and patiently told me that, although Madame X was certainly attractive (I believe his exact description was “I wouldn’t kick her out of bed for eating crackers”), that I deserved better, and assured me that if I played it cool, I’d find love.

I was a little envious of David. He seemed to have all the things I wanted back then: respect, popularity, a good relationship with a great woman. Things began to unravel a bit for him after he left school. He stopped acting, and when I’d see him downtown, he’d seem to get a bit prickly when the subject of theatre came up. He was still playing the part of the bon vivant, but when I looked into his eyes there was something there; it was a pain that I wanted to talk to him about, but could never find the opportunity or courage to approach him.

I feel a bit guilty about that right now. I wish I could have sloughed off my own torpor and shook him into talking to me. I wanted to find out what was going on in his mind. David did reasonably well in his post-college career; he became a caterer, and his business was recently praised in a “best of the town” issue of a local magazine. I wish he were still around to enjoy it.

Dave’s roommate found him dead this morning, at the base of the stairs in their apartment building. I’m still not sure what happened to him. Right now, I can only pray to my God that he is at peace now.

Godspeed, David. I hope to meet you again, drink in hand, bitching about the Blackhawks and ready to pull out every stop to make us laugh no matter how crappy we feel.

David Lee McLaughlin
1969-2006

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Monday, November 13, 2006

40

I wasn’t sure what to get into this evening. I was thinking about writing something political, then I thought about doing a “Day in the Life” post, and then I was going to do a continuation on my concert posts.

Actually, I think right now I will discuss my age. I turned 40 this year. That’s right – the Big Four-Oh. I’m not sure how to feel about it. On one hand, I’m glad I made it, considering that there have been a couple of times in my life where I very easily might have had the journey ended looooong before getting here.

On the other hand, I can feel my age. I weigh more than I ever have before. This is something I can take care of if I were to get some exercise and maybe watch what I eat. Unfortunately, the other changes are a bit more difficult to deal with. A few months ago, I got my first eye exam ever, and found out that I have mild farsightedness. I have yet to get my prescription filled on that, but I know if I don’t get it soon, it can only get worse. I look in the mirror and I see a man with graying hair and scattered lines, where a much younger kid used to be.

I worry about how much longer I’ll live. There is a history of both longevity and premature death in my family. Two of my grandparents barely lived past 60, and two others lived well into their 80s. My grandmother on my father’s side saw her 90th birthday pass before she died. I hope I can live that long. It would be nice to see possible grandchildren when I am older.

It worries me that I’m running out of time to do the things I want to and need to do. I suppose the time to do them is now. I just need to take the first steps.

Sorry this isn’t your usual yukfest. I just hope someone out there is reading this and understanding where I’m coming from.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Clintster On Tour part 1



Blue Öyster Cult/Rush
James Brown Arena-April 23, 1986

I was a late bloomer in life. I got into popular music later than most people. I was also introduced to more carnal pleasures later than most, but that’s a whole different subject. Still, I managed in my life to see some pretty cool shows in my bachelorhood. From time to time, I intend to blog on the concerts I saw and the circumstances surrounding them. I can’t promise they’ll all be barnburners, but I think I need to write their stories down before I forget them.

My first concert came when I was 21 years old. I was still a sheltered kid from the mountains of North Carolina, looking for a place to fit in. I was working as a stockroom manager at a cafeteria in North Augusta, SC, still wondering if I would ever make it into college. My only outlet was listening to music, and one of my favorite bands was Rush. I couldn’t make up my mind whether I wanted to play bass like Geddy Lee or play drums like Neil Peart.

At this time, their current release was Power Windows, an album I thoroughly enjoyed. My favorite song was “Mystic Rhythms”, but I was fond of most of the tracks, and I played my cassette of it constantly. When I heard that they were coming to Augusta to play a concert, I knew I had to catch the show one way or another. The fact that Blue Oyster Cult was opening for them didn’t hurt matters, as “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was one of my all-time favorite songs.

I went to the local record store in March and bought two tickets, intending to use them as chick bait to find a date for the show. Gimme a break; at the time, I was young and naïve and seriously overestimated the sensual drawing power of a Canadian power trio who espoused a fondness for the writings of Ayn Rand. Unfortunately, my current social circle consisted of the people I worked with at the cafeteria, and of them the only person I would even think of inviting was dating some other guy.

There was one girl who had a crush on me, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. When I offered to take her to the show (mostly to get her off my back), she immediately rejected the offer, saying she didn’t go to “Devil music” shows. Mind you, this was the stretched out notch of the Bible Belt back in the ‘80s, when busybodies were concerned more with finding Satan hidden in the backwards-played grooves of a metal record than actually paying attention to their own children.

I finally turned to my friend Johnny. He was a guy I had become friends with when my family moved to the Augusta area two years before. He agreed, and on that fateful night, I took my ticket and about 20 bucks and we headed to the James Brown Arena (then creatively called the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center).

The show was general seating, so Johnny and I made our way to the floor and managed to work ourselves to a spot just a few feet from the stage. BOC opened the show, and played a pretty good set. I wasn’t as familiar with their work as I was with Rush’s, but I still enjoyed myself and sang along with the stuff I knew. Judging from my own slightly fuzzy memory of the audience’s reaction, the most popular song after “Reaper” was “Godzilla.”

When BOC finished their set, they left and it seemed like an eternity in the time between acts. Finally, the theme to “The Three Stooges” played, and Rush hit the stage and launched into “The Big Money” which was the big single off of “Power Windows.” I had a shit-eating grin for the remainder of the concert, and I’m not sure, but I think I caught Geddy Lee looking my direction a couple of times and smiling. He was probably thinking “what a freakin’ hick”, but I didn’t care; I was enjoying myself.

It was amazing! They played nearly everything off of Power Windows, and still had plenty of time to put in many of the audience favorites. “Closer to the Heart.” “The Spirit of Radio.” “2112” “The Trees”

The centerpiece, however, was of course “Tom Sawyer.” What “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was/is to BOC, “Tom Sawyer” is to Rush. What makes that song so special to me? Well, I could say it’s the lyrics, which kinda bridge the gap between Mark Twain’s character and that of Paul Atredies in Fran Herbert’s Dune series. OR it could be the fact that Geddy Lee found a way to make synthesizers fit into metal (although that may have been a curse more than a blessing, as it paved the way for Europe’s “The Final Countdown”.)

If pressed, however, and you don’t have to press hard, I would have to say the secret ingredient in “Tom Sawyer” has to be what I regard as “The Greatest Freakin’ Drum Solo EVER!” In the instrument break, as the band prepares to go back to the prechorus, Neil Peart lets loose with a drum solo that simply leaves me breathless every time. Seeing it live in my first concert only seared my opinion of the solo, as I saw Peart beat his drum kit like it owed him money. That was when I knew that I had chosen well for my first rock concert.

I left the area with my hearing diminished ever so slightly, a Rush shirt I had bought after the show, and a sense that I was a little more attuned to the world around me. I also had the feeing of what it was like to have a complete stranger rub on you in a crowded arena, as someone had done that throughout Rush’s set. I was afraid to turn around and face the snuggler, afraid that it would be a bit older and more male than I would have liked.

Still in all, it was a great first show for me to attend. It would have been a bit better for me socially if I had gone to this concert (or one like it) about five years earlier, but I’m still glad that I am able to count this as my first.

Setlist:
Intro ("Three Stooges Theme")
The Spirit Of Radio
Limelight
The Big Money
Subdivisions
Manhattan Project
Middletown Dreams
Witch Hunt
Red Sector A
Closer To The Heart
Marathon
The Trees
Mystic Rhythms
Distant Early Warning
Territories
YYZ
Drum Solo
Red Lenses
Encore: Tom Sawyer
2112
Overture
The Temples Of Syrinx
Grand Designs
In The Mood

NEXT TIME: My last concert (to date)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Clintster vs. K-Fed


I’m sure by now you’ve heard about it. The Election Day shocker that had people questioning their faith in our nation, our Constitution, and the existence of an ever-loving God.

Democrats winning Congress? Pshaw! I’m talking ‘bout Britney filing for divorce against K-Fed!

In a one year span of time, Britney Spears went from being a pop princess going steady with Justin Timberlake (who knew he’d be the better end of that relationship?) to a quickie marriage to her high school bud Jason Alexander to marrying a backup dancer with stars in his eyes and money on his mind.

When I heard that Britney had decided to divorce K-Fed, I decided to seek a little insight into the world of this Fresno “king of the world”, so I got a hold of his debut album, Playing With Fire. I had heard his first single at the first of the year, so I wasn’t expecting a magnum opus on a par with Enter The 36 Chambers or even To The Extreme, but I was hoping to at least get some campy, William Shatner’s The Transformed Man value out of it.

No such luck.

We start with the Intro, which starts with a plethora of kids’ voices, which fade into one tyke asking the “musical” question, “Grandpa, can you tell us a story about when you were young?” It’s pretty obvious that Grandpa is K-Fed, although we’re not sure of where these grandchildren come from. Are they Britney’s or are they Shar Jackson’s (the woman that Kevvy left pregnant to run off with Ms. Spears. My guess is this is the progeny of the offspring of the next superstar that K-Fed is able to mooch from; let’s call the rugrat “Firecrotch Lohan-Federline”.

Sadly, the first 15 seconds of this track are the most entertaining of the entire album, as we dissolve into a babbling montage of faked news reports talking about the troubled marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Federline. Good thing they were able to put those scurrilous rumors to rest, eh?

The rest of the album just goes downhill from there. Basically, Kevin’s songs can be broken down into four themes:

• I’m so rich and popular that everybody flocks to me when I go to the clubs.
• All those hatin’ haters hate me ‘cause I’m so rich and popular, yo.
• Y’all just jealous ‘cause I married Britney Spears, but we’re gonna be together forever, no matter what you say.
• If I wasn’t so high off this primo weed right now, I’d whup all y’all ass.

He usually puts at least two of these concepts into every song, sometimes combining all of them into one verse. K-Fed also manages to slip the sound of someone inhaling everybody’s favorite herb at least once in every song. That was cool as hell back when Dr. Dre made The Chronic. In 1992. Now, it’s almost as cliché as the “yo man, you comin’ to the club?” interludes that also pepper the album.

By the third track, “America’s Most Hated”, it’s pretty evident that Kevin Federline is nothing but a wannabe trying too hard to fit in with the hip-hop artists he gets stoned to. The album is unimaginative, painfully lame, and not worth playing more than once, even for camp value.

The only satisfaction the listener might receive from Playing With Fire is the sense of Schadenfreude in his now painfully dated boasts of the solidity of his marriage to Britney Spears. One rhyme, on his single “Lose Control” says:

I’m a superstar
And I married a superstar
Can’t never come between us
No matter who ya are


I guess it’s technically true, since it was Brit herself who sent the text message to Kevin letting him know his marital services were no longer required.

Oh, and just in case you were curious, here are a few more nuggets of wisdom from PWF:

• He’s hotter than a pizza oven.
• “Dudes hate K-Fed. Girls love K-Fed. It doesn’t matter to me ‘cause K-Fed stay fed”
• He compares himself to Tupac at one point. Yes. He went there.
• He’s comin’ out like Janet’s boob at the Super Bowl. At least hers was talented.
• He loves pancakes.

I kid you not. Kevin mentions “pancakes” about 7 or 8 times on this album. At least we know what to give him when he has the munchies, but just when you think he’s done rapping about them, he brings them up again. Insert your own IHOP joke here.

This was truly painful. 98% of the time I had a look on my face that I can only describe as “incredulous.” At one point, he brags that he has $50 million, so he can rap about whatever he wants. Proof positive that money can buy lots of things, but talent and respectability are not two of them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What's On Your iPod Friday

For all those who are unfamiliar with the game:

Place your iPod (or MP3 player) on random play and blog the first 15 songs that show up. if you don't have a portable music device, use your favorite media player (iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp, etc.)

Here's mine:
1) Mozart: Die Zauberflöte, K 620 - Florence Foster Jenkins
2) Lovey Dovey - Local H
3) Alive - Pearl Jam (Live 12/31/92)
4) Sunglasses At Night - Corey Hart
5) We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
6) Small Town (Acoustic) - John Mellencamp
7) Creeping Death - Metallica
8) New Kid In Town - The Eagles
9) Echoes - Pink Floyd
10) Love Is In The Air - John Paul Young
11) Shy - Ani DiFranco
12) Kyle's Mom Is A Big Fat Bitch - Joe C. featuring Kid Rock
13) Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 - Canadian Brass
14) Tunnel Of Love - Dire Straits
15) (Love Is) Thicker Than Water - Andy Gibb

editor's note: I apologize to anyone out there who is waiting for my K-Fed post, but I'm still trying to get the memory of his music tamped down sufficiently to write a coherent post. Keep checking back.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Well, that's surprising

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: Philadelphia

Your accent is as Philadelphian as a cheesesteak! If you're not from Philadelphia, then you're from someplace near there like south Jersey, Baltimore, or Wilmington. if you've ever journeyed to some far off place where people don't know that Philly has an accent, someone may have thought you talked a little weird even though they didn't have a clue what accent it was they heard.

The Northeast
The Midland
The Inland North
The South
Boston
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

The Day After


So, it's the day after the election. I'm feeling several different emotions today; I'm mostly happy, but I'm also feeling some sadness at a couple of issues, and frankly, some schadenfreude.

* We're still waiting out the results for the Senate race in Virginia, and it may actually be weeks before a winner is officially declared, but it appears that Jim Webb will be our new senator. Fine by me; George Allen was a bit too cocky for my taste.

* Virginia is for lovers - some restrictions apply. Although, I am happy that Arizona bucked the trend. Oh, and Missouri approved stem-cell research. And South Dakota voters threw off the odious anti-abortion bill that the legislature passed earlier this year.

* I think it's great that the Democratic party is back in control of at least one chamber of Congress, but I think that once the dust settles and the champagne headaches go away, the party should seek the higher ground and reach across the aisle. I can't speak for everyone, but I for one am sick and tired of people telling one another that they're un-American because of this issue or that.

Today I'm celebrating. Tomorrow, I'm hoping the change begins. It will come slowly, and there's a hell of a mess to clean up, but together we all (Democrats AND Republicans) can restore some sanity and faith in the legislative process.

God bless America. Let love rule.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The ghosts of elections past

As I'm sitting here in my newspaper office, waiting for election results to come in, I'm thinking back to the past three congressional elections:

2000-I was in the mountains of North Carolina, wondering how I was going to ever make a living in anything but waiting tables. I went to my polling place, which was also my elementary school as a kid, and cast my ballot. I watched the results through the night, and when it was announced somewhere after midnight that Bush had won Florida, I fell asleep, thinking it was all over. I awoke about 4am, to hear the news that Gore was challenging the call in Florida, and the rest is convoluted history.

Unbeknownst to me, my future wife was in the next county over, sleeping soundly, having decided that the election that year wasn't going to be "all that important."

2002-With war on everyone's mind, I wasn't sure what was going to happen on Election Day. It's traditional that the non-Presidential party picks up seats in the midterms, but it wasn't so this time. I was a little embittered the next day. The thing that gave me hope, though, was hearing "A Lincoln Portrait" by Copland on the radio as I was out driving around.

2004-Bush over Kerry. At least I had my son and wife.

I hope this year is more hopeful (at least from my vantage point) when all is said and done. In any case, I'm still here, and I am still an American, and damn proud of it.

Monday, November 6, 2006

Vote!!!

Just a remember, Tuesday is Election Day. If you're Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Constitutionalist, or Natural Law, or if you're just plain ol' independent, go out and VOTE!!!

Seriously.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

Just to Prove I Didn't...

Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.

The Last Pumpkin on Halloween

Finishing up the first part of my adventurous week that was, I need to talk about our Halloween. I went as a zombie, Kathy went as a witch, and Ian was a dinosaur, or “Dido” as he calls it.

I woke up about 6 Halloween morning to apply my makeup, seeing as how I promised my love that I would do her makeup as well before we all went off to town. Almost as soon as I finished (this took about 45 minutes,) Ian and Kathy both woke up.

Kathy waked into the room and almost pooped herself when she saw me. Her first words were “Do you think Ian’s gonna be scared of you?” There was only one way to find out. She brought him out of his room and set him on the floor. Almost immediately our boy, still sleepy from a late night, crossed the floor to my chair, curled up in my lap and grabbed his morning juice cup, not even bothering so much as a furrowed brow on my part.

I took this as a sign that either

1. He was an incredibly fearless boy, or
2. My makeup job absolutely sucked

After doing Kathy’s makeup and getting Ian dressed, we all went to town and our respective stops. People kept coming by my office during the day to see my makeup. If we had had a costume contest, I think I might have been the winner, or a close second.

The crowning touch, though, was when Kathy and I went out for lunch. As I was getting my drink, a coed from W&L came up to me and said “You even did your hands. Man, you’re hardcore!” Yes, I even applied makeup to my hands to get the creepy vibe going. I wish I had time to distress some clothes for my costume, but the naturally ratty stuff I found in the bottom of my dresser served equally well.

Anyway, there’s not much more to tell about that. Maybe tomorrow I’ll have a more ribald tale to tell. Maybe.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Gunfight at Malone’s

So, I’m sitting here on the group W bench… nonono

OK, so aside from the “Jeopardy!” auditions, things were… interesting last weekend.

Sunday, we almost got thrown out of a restaurant downtown. We had just gotten out of church when we smelled something delicious coming from the restaurant located near our parking space. Kathy asked if I was hungry, and despite a nagging feeling in my stomach that this would not end well, I agreed.

We went in, took our seats and I went out to get a newspaper. I should have known something was up when I returned, because the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, and when I asked her to repeat herself (I didn’t hear her) she asked the question again in a much ruder tone. I told her “umm, Coke, Pepsi, whatever”, and returned to my seat.

We ordered our sandwiches (after some confusion over who was getting chips or potato salad) and an appetizer of cheese fries, and got down to family bonding. Ian got restless, so I had to walk him around the restaurant until he calmed down. A couple of minutes later, the waitress brought out our cheese fries.

Now, unbeknownst to me, Kathy had been trying to flag down our waitress to see if she could bring out some chips for Ian. She was ignored, and when the fries came, Ian wanted some. Unfortunately, they were still hot from having been fried and covered with molten cheese. Despite our best efforts, we could not cool the fries down enough for him to eat them, and so when he put one in his mouth, he would inevitably burn his mouth and scream.

After a few minutes of this, our waitress came over and informed us that we would have to move to another part of the restaurant. It would have been kinda acceptable if she didn’t have this smug smirk on her face as she informed us we’d have to move (NOTE: we were the only table with a child in the place.) Kathy immediately got indignant and told her that we’d just leave instead. Kat sought out the manager before we left and told him about our problem. He took care of our meal, and we left.

The two of us were just shaking all the way home at the rudeness that the waitress displayed. When we got home, I volunteered to go out to Taco Bell to get ourselves some lunch. I had to wait a half-hour to calm down enough to go there.

When I eventually did, I found there was a bus load of special needs people in the restaurant. I just decided to wait it out, and when I got to the counter to order, I was very courteous and thanked the cashier when I got our food.

A couple of days later, we were giving a friend of ours (who’s from Massachusetts) a ride to work and told him of our experience. The restaurant advertises itself as being “a pub in the Boston tradition”. Jonathan queried “So, what, they’re rude?”

In any event, if you ever come to visit us in Lexington, you can have your choice of restaurants to go to. Except Malone’s; attempt no landing there.

Next time: Halloween with the Clintster and family.

Friday, November 3, 2006

What Is "A Dream Deferred"?

I promised I was going to post about my "Jeopardy!" experience, and now I shall make good on that promise.

Last week, Kathy and I were watching the show when an ad came on, announcing the Jeopardy Brain Bus was coming to Roanoke on Monday. I jumped up and down like a kid finding out that Santa Claus was coming to town.

Monday afternoon, I took off from work early and made the 45-mile journey to Roanoke to stand in line for the contestant search. When I got to the Center on the Square, there was already a line stretching around the block. I took my place, got a wristband, and waited.

About 15 minutes after arrival, the first of the successful contestants came running down the sidewalk. He was a skinny, redneck-looking guy who was singing at the top of his voice "Jeopardy is my destinyyyyy!!!" He then was kind enough to inform us that he had only missed one question on the test; "It was the Loch Ness monster," he helpfully informed those of us in line.

We kept waiting and moving as the line before us shrank. Some guys behind me began talking about "Jeopardy!" and other game shows. Someone talked about a question they had seen on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?", having to do with the drummer for INXS. Out of instinct, I nearly blurted out "Tim Farriss" (which would have been wrong; I just checked), but kept it to myself.

Finally, after 45 minutes, I reached the door and was welcomed into the testing center. I thought it was going to be the full 50-question test that I had taken online back in April; instead it was a 10-question test that would gain you access to the Big 50. I had 5 minutes to answer all 10, and I completed them in 90 seconds.

I handed it in to the proctor, who saw my nervous, worried expression and reassured me, "Hey, it's all just fun. Relax!" I calmed down a little as he looked over my answers. He asked my name, where I was from, and how long it took to get to Roanoke. I told him. He handed me a letter, and said "See you tomorrow, and be sure to bring that good energy with you."

I walked out, floating on air, and called Kathy to let her know the good news. She asked me when I was supposed to be back in Roanoke. I looked at the sheet for the first time, and realized to my horror that I had to be back at 9am Tuesday.

The problem with that was Tuesday is press day at my newspaper, and I had to be there to process photos and print out negatives for the printers. Also, our sports editor had computer problems Monday, so I had to be there to help get the sports section put together for the issue. I was also nervous about the online test and whether it counted against the "One 'Jeopardy!' Audition Per Year" rule. I finally decided to just let my online audition ride, and try again in person somewhere next year.

I'm kinda sad that I wasn't able to go and continue the audition, but at least I have a good idea how the Brain Bus/regional auditions work now. For me, appearing on "Jeopardy!" isn't a question of "if"; it's a matter of "when", and it's coming very, very soon!!!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

It's National Blog Posting Month!

Saw this on someone else's blog, and I decided to do it, even though I'm starting too late to be eligible for the contest. If nothing else, it'll give me a chance to stretch my writing chops, or something.

In order to reach a wider audience, I'm going to post simultaneously on Clintster's So Called Life and on my MySpace blog. They'll mostly be the same post, but I will try to post exclusives to each. I hope that this will spark some creativity on my part; God knows I need it!

Just a little preview of my next post, later today: my early week of adventure, including Halloween, "Jeopardy!", and getting thrown out of a restaurant. Chew on those for a while, and I'll be back!

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Back, but for how long?

OK, I haven't blogged in a while, but I think it's time I picked up the torch anew.

It's summer and that means travel. I thought I'd give you a taste of the McGuire family itinerary for the summer months. NOTE: I've included the trips we've made already to this point.

Early June: Greensboro NC/Blowing Rock NC - Ian's first trip to Tweetsie Railroad.
Late June: Aiken SC - Clint's college reunion
Late June: Minneapolis, MN - Kathy at conference
Late July: Aiken, SC/Tampa, FL/Vidalia, GA - Family vacation
Early August: Boone, NC - Recital (and maybe some "Horn" goodness)

More later, as I get back in the swing of things (I hope.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Four!

'Cause Kathy did it on her blog, I shall do the same:

Four jobs I've had:
1. Burger King, Daytona Beach - My first job, a block from the beach. Not sure if it was more fun or frustrating.

2. Telemarketer - For about a half hour, before I decided I had some measure of self-respect.

3. Actor - In two outdoor dramas, just to show that my theatre degree came in handy.

4. Digital Photo Specialist - The current 9-to-5, except for Tuesdays, when it's more like 8:30-to-8. Better than it sounds, though I feel a bit underpaid.

Four movies I can watch over and over (this week):
1. The Empire Strikes Back

2. Any of the Lord of the Rings movies

3. This Is Spinal Tap

4. Manos: The Hands Of Fate

Four Places I have lived:
1. Augusta, GA

2. Aiken, SC

3. Boone, NC

4. Kingsport, TN


Four Shows I love:
1. The Daily Show

2. WWE Monday Night Raw

3. My Name Is Earl

4. South Park


Four highly-touted TV shows I don't get the hype:
1. Oprah

2. The Simple Life (OK, it's no longer "highly touted", but what was the attraction?)

3. Desperate Housewives

4. CSI

Four books I'd recommend to anyone, anytime:
1. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

2. Any of the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy

3. Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them

4. The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass

Four places I have vacationed:
1. New Orleans, LA

2. Washington, DC

3. Santa Fe, NM

4. Woodward, OK (yeessss, I bask in your jealousy!)

Four of my favorite dishes:
1. Lasagna

2. A nice, thick steak with a baked potato

3. King Ranch Chicken

4. Philly Cheese Steak

Four sites I visit daily:
1. My Family

2. Sadly, No!

3. Fark.com

4. Inside Pulse: Wrestling

Four places I would rather be right now:
1. Home

2. Aiken, SC

3. Home

4. Home (did I mention home?)

Monday, January 23, 2006

Betty

The first time I met Betty Apperson, I was bald. Completely bald.

I had been in a play with Joy, and had shaved my head for my role. When I met Betty, I was a little intimidated, and a little bit embarrased. Nonetheless, she welcomed me into her home and made me feel like one of the family, ridiculous shaved head and all. This welcoming nature was a trait which ran through her entire family, and one for which I am especially grateful.

As the years went by, my respect and admiration for Betty grew. Countless times through the years, even at my worst moments, she was able to make me feel good about myself and the world around me. I felt I could come and talk to her anytime, and on nearly any subject. It meant a lot to me, at a critical point in my then-young life. I considered her to be like a "second mother" to me. I even gave a Mother's Day card to her one year; it was a silly, sentimental gesture, but it was from the heart.

After I moved away from Aiken, I lost touch with Betty, but Joy would keep me up to date now and again with the goings-on in her family. I'd tell her about my mom, and she'd talk to me about hers. I had hoped that one day I could meet with her again, and introduce her to my wife and son. But it wasn't to be.
Through it all, Betty Apperson was a friend and a beacon of faith thorugh works, not only to me, but to so many here and elsewhere. I wish I had been able to properly express my gratitude to Betty and her family for making me feel welcome, in their home and in the community of Aiken. I wish I could be there today to pay my respects, and to say "thank you" one last time. This will have to suffice.

Courtney, Lori, Joy: I mourn with you today the departure of your wife and mother. But please know that she lives on today and evermore, in the lives and souls of those who she touched with her kindness, her generosity, and her spirit. Thank you, Betty, for sharing your gifts with those around you. May we meet again.