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|Saturday, September 18th, 2004|
Having been out until 2 AM on Monday (MNF and driving home from North Raleigh), I was still looking forward to going out Friday night. But mb_k
bailed, and even though I pretty much just wanted to see some of her this week, I also wanted to head to Global Village with bdub77
for open mic night, maybe some pre- and post-music libations at Mitch's or wherever. So I packed my trusty 6-string into the Golf (man... gotta get new tires soon...) and headed over to bdub
's. We got down to GV early enough for some of the "pre" festivities I mentioned, and after getting some proper liquid courage going we headed back downstairs.
And made our fatal mistake.
You see, the "unofficial" policy at GV is that since open mic night is taking over the shop, players and friends should help out by buying a beverage. Being that GV has some of the best coffee and associated treats on the planet, this is a pretty good deal. But after a brief porusal of the menu, I found myself ordering a frozen mocha milkshake. Basically a few shots of espresso, lots of chocoate, good stuff, tall glass, and a straw. Caffeine squared. So this magical concoction began to mix with the beer and double-shot kamikaze from Mitch's, creating several internal pressures, some conflicting, some biological. By the time I got to my set, I was a ticking, having-to-piss time bomb with caffeine and nervous energy bouncing churning through my veins. I played a couple of my songs, about 20% too fast, and slunk back to my seat.
Meanwhile, similar effects were hitting bdub
, but perhaps luckily or unluckily he had a bit longer to wait before playing. He opened with Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide", nailed Teitur's "Amanda's Dream", and then brought down the house with Coldplay's "Green Eyes".
Afterwards, we hung out, listening to the other players, chatting with Josh (and guest), until everybody had their 15 minutes. So around 10:30 we headed back upstairs to Mitch's for the "post" party. We hung out a while, until the first group of Josh's friends hit the road, and then a bit longer, pleasant beer and pleasant company. Eventually realizing that we had not yet been able to grab dinner, bdub
and I headed to Chargrill for my first Charburger. Damn, that is
a tasty burger. Eventually the hour grew late, so little before 1 AM or thereabouts we swung back to Morrisville, and I crawled into bed around 1:30.
Saturday morning. We had tentative plans to go to the farmer's market, and get my car down to the shop for new tires, and... well none of that. Overslept and got ready for the wedding shower instead. Once there, mb_k
and I chowed down on the excellent barbeque-based spread and did the social thing with her co-workers. Sometime in there I begged out and got a chance to talk to Tom for a while, which was good, since we'd been playing phone tag for a couple of days, and I knew he was hurting. Anyway, after much eating, some keg abuse, some chatting, some watching nervously while mb_k
enjoyed herself holding a co-worker's baby, it was time to tear down. So we packed up the speakers and gear, the decorations, and some hearty leftover portions and headed home.
It's strange sometimes, how little time you can actually "spend" with your wife, between my sports and our rarely-intersecting social circles. So Saturday night was spent at home, helping pre-sort the CD collection for her iPod-in-shipment, assemble the new nesting tables, cleaning up the house a bit. But in the end all I could feel was some kind of guilt/regret/sadness for not leaving her alone for the 3rd night this week and heading to bdub
's Commando-fest. But it just was not the right thing to do. Sure, in a "perfect" world, maybe mb_k
would enjoy the occasional Commando-fest or open mic night, but in the end I wouldn't change anything about her. Sometimes you can't be in two places at once, and you can't please everybody at once. And even though maybe "nothing exciting" was going on at the mb
household, it was the place I should and chose to be tonight.
It sucks, because I could see this coming since Monday, and even since Monday the situation became more apparent that this is how it would turn out. Instead of a moderately late evening on Monday and coming home at halftime, I ended up at Chino's with bdub
until after some post-game Halo. Instead of mb_k
coming out on Friday for open mic, she sayed home. So when she was incredulous that I would even ask about being out all night a 3rd time this week, it was easier to bail on bdub
and stay home, especially since I hadn't even spent much time with my wife
Hope Sunday is... something.
|Monday, September 6th, 2004|
|Movie Review: 50 First Dates
I had avoided watching this movie for many trips to Blockbuster. But it was genuinely funny in many parts, although too often interrupted with ill-timed attempts at jokes. And, although nobody may ever again respect my opinion on a film... I liked it. There, I've said it. I liked 50 First Dates
. May I burn in film-critic hell.
|Sports Report: Syracuse at Purdue
The Orange got crush'd. The Boilermaker defense sure squeezed The Orange. When a university changes its mascot to a citrus fruit (they claim it's the color
orange but we
know what's really going on) they are begging to get these and other colorful description when they get trounced 51-0 in their opening games. It could have possibly been more fun if they were the Syracuse Grapefruits or even the Nectarines but as it was, it was a blast to see the old alma mater
lay the smack down on the Syracuse Citrus Fruits. We had bdub77
in attendance, and mb_k
made her famous guacamole, and there was much beer and bratwurst.
In a game punctuated by big plays by the Purdue offense, the story was honestly written by the young defense. Eight new starters on defense and they shut down one of the premier running backs in the game in Syracuse's Reyes. They shut down any and all passing attack. And they shut out the Citrus Fruits in dominating fashion. Boo-yeah.
Anyway, the Boilermakers host Ball State on Saturday at 1 PM. I doubt it's televised, because it shapes up to be even more lopsided than yesterday's afore-mentioned pulping. But then, after an off week, the schedule gets both interesting (and likely televised) with visits to Illinois, Notre Dame, and Penn State, before a 2-game homestand against Wisconsin and Michigan. The season continues with games at Northwestern and Iowa, homecoming against Ohio State, and closes at home against Indiana for the old Oaken Bucket.
My predeliction? We'll beat Ball State, Illinois, Notre Dame, and Penn State, giving us a 5-0 record and likely top-15 ranking before an ugly game against Wisconsin. I think we can win the Wisconsin game, but we'll be beat up and worn out when Michigan comes to town and trounces us -- for some reason we just cannot beat that team. Still, a 6-1 record should be bumped to 8-1 after victories at Northwestern and Iowa, and we'll finally beat a very beatable Ohio State team and destroy the Hoosiers to close the season at 10-1.
We'll be playing in a BCS bowl, perhaps the national championship.
How far-fetched is this? Key games: Wisconsin, at Iowa, and of course Ohio State. At worst I see us swinging as low as 8-3, but with a weakened Michigan and Ohio State both being home games... could we conceivably run the tables
Sometimes it can be a horribly bad thing to open a season with a 51-0 puree-ing of a Citrus Fruit team. But I don't think this year is going to be one of disappointment in West Lafayette!
|Sunday, September 5th, 2004|
|Movie Review: Vanity Fair
Imagine, if you will, a rich novel set in the early 19th century, revolving around a pair of English girls. One hails from a minor nobility, the other the orphaned daughter of a Londan artist and a Parisian opera singer. The book involves growth of character and an insight into life.
Imagine taking a talented set of filmmakers, giving them this book and a lot of money, and locking them in a room, and telling them to write a screenplay.
Then you give them all a hit of acid.
This film is perhaps the result of such a fictional scenario.
There were nice big chunks of good story and film. There were bits of good acting, bright colours, and festive music and song, but the downfall of the film was that several of the scenes were so disconnected from those before, that it jars the viewer out of the 19th century world where they might have been imagining themselves to be, and into the present where they could wonder, "what the hell just happened".
In the end, I didn't care about any of the main characters. Several were idiots, some were fools, and some were nothing more than shallow archetypes of shallow late 18th century gentlemen. Oh, and nothing of real consequence happens.
|Wednesday, September 1st, 2004|
|Venue Review: Durham Bulls Athletic Park
This isn't so much a review of the whole park (which is awesome, by the way) but instead of it's owner's suite.
I found myself in the owner's suite at the end of a fairly boring an uninteresting chain of events. I was going to go to this same game with a group from work, but mb_k
's work was also going in a group. We chose to go with her group. At once this turned out to be an interesting decision, because her group was getting a suite. However once at the game, we found that there had been a mixup with the suites and that our suite was double-booked.
"Don't worry, be happy!" said the friendly assistant. They put us in the owner's suite instead. Complete with pool table, barber shop, and a very nice little collection of sports memorabilia. So I spent a nice evening at the park playing pool, laughing at the fact that we had a barber in our suite, and oo-ing and ah-ing over the signed photos of Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig, and Ted Williams.
Our wonderful hosts for the evening also provided large coolers full of a very nice assortment of beverages, a buffet of burgers, brats, chicken, and pizza, and even graciously allowed us to invite some friends from my workplace (down in the peasant seats) to come up and partake of the experience.
Oh yeah, the Bulls lost 3-2.
|Friday, August 27th, 2004|
|Conqueror and Conquered
No gold medal for Team USA in men's basketball. It was an ugly game, syncopated throughout by random calls in both directions, puncuated by the failure of Team USA to play either offense or defense, and underscored by timely 3-point shooting by Argentina whenever USA made a run. Hooray for the Argentinians and the other 5 billion people of the world who rejoiced in Team USA's demise.
Just wait until the next Olympics, when perhaps the best USA players will actually go to the Olympics again now that it is a challenge. But what will that team look like? Shaq, the most dominant basketball player of this generation, will be 36 years old and likely retired --- not many men who go seven foot one, three-forty play for too long. So what's the answer for Team USA? Other countries have come up with good shooting, quick guards, and capable post defense -- the only thing USA could have brought to this Olympics to ensure victory would have been Shaq and some better outside shooting. Now it seems that unless we discover another Shaq (not likely) the best we can do is to compete with the world on their own terms. We no longer dictate the terms in basketball, which is fine by me. Sluggish grabbing and holding, more muscle than finesse and speed -- these are the hallmarks of USA basketball.
And now for Iraq. What a wonderful run it has been to watch, but they come up just short of a medal. Still, 4th place should not be a place of shame for this team, which held its own in chances as well as grit throughout this tournament. It's just too bad that the most widely-read story about this team in the United States has been the controversy over Bush using them in his political ads, instead of actual stories about the personal courage of these men, representing their new country under threats of death for "selling out" to the New Iraq. Meanwhile their families and homes are under attack by US artillery, and now they return home, teammates set to fight against each other as some support the new US-led Iraqi government, and others fight to protect their homes and mosques against what they see as a US occupation which must be ended.
|Tuesday, August 24th, 2004|
|Movie Review: The Fiddler on the Roof
How can I do a movie review of a movie that's over 30 years old? Well, mb_k
and I rented the 25th anniversary edition DVD -- and I had never seen it. It's hard to put a movie musical into a "ranking" with all the musicals I have seen live: The King and I (Purdue), Camelot (Purdue), Rent (Raleigh), Cats (Raleigh), Aida (Raleigh), Fame (Raleigh), The Phantom of the Opera (London), Les Miserables (London), and The Full Monty (London). As far as comparing it to other movie musicals, how do you comparatively rate Oklahoma, My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Producers, and so many others? It's largely a matter of taste and what you like in a musical. As for me, I like as much story and dialogue, and Fiddler
delivers on those points, as well as a beautiful and sometimes haunting, sometimes hilarious score.
The story of a small Jewish town near Kiev, Russia, during a time of rising anti-semetic sentiment, Fiddler
is largely the story of Tevye, a dairy farmer, and his 3 eldest daughters. Tevye has a typically Jewish outlook on life, part cynic, part gnostic, as he has conversations with himself and God on whether to support increasingly non-traditional choices his daughters make. The film itself was impeccably made, wonderfully acted, and even the direction was good -- yes, a musical with good direction.
The scene which most stands out from a D.P. standpoint is a wedding dance scene, where a line of black-clad men balance half-empty wine bottles on their hats and drop to their knees and make a zig-zag walk towards the camera. But instead of the camera being still and the dancers moving left and right with the backdrop stationary, the camera slides to the left and right along with the line of dancers, causing the backdrop to move in an effect which makes it appear that the dancers are pushing the world with their powerful strides. It's just pretty darned cool, and that a musical would take the time and vision to film scenes like this goes to show you what can be possible even with "old tried and true" genres of film.
It made me think of my fond days at AEPi, of the magical moment in my own wedding when my brothers threw mb_k
and I onto chairs and danced around with us.
There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Camelot -- I grew up sich a King Arthur fanboy -- and for Les Miserables -- seeing a flawless performance in its London theatre may tend to do that -- but Fiddler on the Roof
may have supplanted them as my favorite musical.
|Sunday, August 22nd, 2004|
|Movie Review: Collateral
I don't really feel like writing a review, but suffice it to say that bdub77
and I went to see it Friday night. There were a couple of plot twists which didn't get quite fully explained (maybe they're on the cutting room floor and will appear in the extended DVD or something) but the movie left me with a couple of thoughts: (1) Jamie Foxx is actually a good actor and (2) apparently in LA the drug lords and the asian club owners have more guns and better computers than the feds do.
remarked after the movie, it was good to see a movie which didn't give everything away in the previews. You know, like some movies, where the 30 seconds of preview footage contain either (1) all the plot or (2) all the jokes from the rest of the movie. Collateral
built slowly, gave the characters growth and depth, and was a very satisfying movie experience.
|Friday, August 13th, 2004|
|Thought of the Day
Paul Bako is possibly the poorest-batting position player in the last 100 years of Major League Baseball.
That is all.
|Wednesday, August 11th, 2004|
|Humbling thought of the day
Sitting at the office, wondering if work is "fulfilling enough". Obviously you could think about how much many people in the world might like to be in your shoes. But instead here's what has been on my thoughts:
"Your parents and grandparents worked very hard to put you in that chair."
|Monday, August 2nd, 2004|
|Movie Review: The Italian Job
You know... movies like this have some interesting potential. I don't think anybody gave truly galling performances, the plot was pretty fun, but it was the strange attempt at "style" which ultimately doomed this film. Note to directors: either attempt to do a good film in your own style, or a stylistic film. Do not mix. What we ended up with was bits of a good movie, interspersed with truly awful stylistic scenes, like the "intro" scene where (I'm not kidding) one character narrates the introduction, nickname, and basic life story of the other main characters for the benefit of a new member to the crime team. This is just truly awful, and suspends my suspension of disbelief.
But all in all I did enjoy the movie somewhat, just glad it was a "free rental".
|Saturday, July 31st, 2004|
Nomar is coming to the Cubs, starting tomorrow at shortstop. In the same game, Maddux is going for win 300. The game is going to be on WGN, scheduled start of 2:20 PM.
I'm not gonna miss this one. GO CUBBIES.
|Movie Review: The Bourne Supremacy
OK. The movie was a blast. But why, why, why did the director continue this incredibly annoying practice of sHaKiNgThEfReAkInGcAmErA whenever there is an action sequence. It just gives the viewers a headache and detracts from the action. But all in all I can't wait for the 3rd installment, I just hope this absolutely stupid camera shaking trend STOPS before they start filming.
Also, had a beer and chat at Champps with bdub77
after the movie. Next time I'm going for the "giant" sized beer mugs instead of the regular glasses. Those things looked Oktoberfest sized.
Quote of the evening: "We should have shotguns for this sh*."
|Restaurant Review: Red Robin
A nice new "gourmet" burger restaurant in the Brier Creek area, Red Robin, opened recently. Now, my burger was indeed tasy, and the bottomless fries were nicely crisped, well seasoned, and provided some laughter (Josh actually thought this meant they cut off the bottoms, the opposite of "muffin tops"), and the staff was friendly and cheerful.
But at $11 for a lunch consisting of a burger, fries, and a drink (before tip as this is a "sit down" place) -- sorry, I won't be going back there very often. The burger was tasy enough to put this on my "every blue moon or so" list, but at that price there are a half-dozen places in the neighborhood I would prefer. Moe's Southwest is just around the corner, Uno's Chicago is across the street, along with Chili's, Quizno's, Jason's Deli, etc.
All in all I loved the food and thought the staff was great, and bottomless fries are just a great thing to behold. But while I like burgers as much, if not more, than the next guy, $13 is a little heavy on the wallet for a "burger, fries, and a coke" lunch.
|Friday, July 30th, 2004|
|Movie Review: The Bourne Identity
A co-worker lent me The Bourne Identity
on DVD last night (along with another couple of flicks I hope to get to in the next week or so). I don't really know what to say about the movie other than "it was ok". Nothing blew me away, nothing was disappointing. It was like, "OK, you've seen this car chase scene done better in Ronin
, but not where the hero is driving a beat-up old Mini! Now it's original!"
I enjoyed the movie. It was done well for what it was. But after all I had heard about this movie, I expected a little more plot to go along with the action. I never got a good idea on who Wombosi was, for instance, and why exactly the CIA wanted him killed. This seems to be a pretty key point. But I digress. I liked the film enough to want to see the sequel eventually.
On a high note, the alternate ending had a really nice song, "In The Sun" by "Joseph Arthur". Too bad it's not available on iTunes, but some of his other songs are and hey, I'm glad for any good new music I can find these days. So what if it appears to be a cover of a Princess Di tribute song by Peter Gabriel, right? (Or vise-versa, I haven't decided to look into who wrote it yet -- not that it seems to matter, since Arthur is signed to Gabriel's label 'Real World Records').
|Thursday, July 29th, 2004|
|Barry Freaking Sanders
I failed to "Beat the Buzzer" on 850 The Buzz
My prize: an hour of Joey Galloway's salary, upwards of $500, if I could have but named 5 of the 10: "All-Time NFL Rushing Leaders". I had a generous 10 seconds to accomplish this task.
But I panicked. I named Walter Payton (#2
), Jim Brown (#7
), Emmitt Smith (#1
), and Tony Dorsett (#5
). I also mistakenly named O.J. Simpson (#13
) and I think I may have blurted out Gale Sayers (not even top 20)!
I missed so many obvious ones which I, as a ridiculous sports trivia guy, knew all too well: Barry Sanders (#3
), Eric Dickerson (#4
), Jerome Bettis (#6
), Marcus Allen (#8
), Franco Harris (#9
), and Thurman Thomas (#10
It hurts because I was having such a crap-tastic day at work, and on the way home I tried for the 12th or so time to get on the show. Only to fail in getting a $500 which is sorely needed at home :(
Barry Sanders. That's the one I'm most upset at not getting. I remember actually jumping for joy when he retired, because it meant my beloved Walter Payton's record would stand a few more years.
Now looking back, I would rather it had been Barry Sanders than Emmitt Smith. I don't know why, but I've never given Emmitt much credit for his yards. It doesn't make sense, but I've just never considered him a "great" back, which Barry obviously was.
So here I am today, $500 short of where I would be if I could have just said the words "Barry Sanders". Getting 4 out of 5 isn't bad, and you just naturally panic a little when the 10 second clock starts ticking. But man, I'm going to remember this quite vividly for a while.
|Monday, July 26th, 2004|
|Concert Review: Modern Troubadours
So here it was. Last Saturday night, the rag-tag quartet known as the Modern Troubadours
blew into the Carrboro ArtsCetner
. Abra Moore
, Ben Arthur
, Vienna Teng
, but sadly no Teitur
. Ah well. I would post more of my own review, but I think bdub77
covered it pretty well and beat me to the punch.
I will say that it was nice to get to a concert again, especially one as "unplugged" and intimate as this one. These 4 musicians, following their dreams. I just relaxed and let myself enjoy the music, and I was throroughly pleased with the evening of music. Abra's music was melancholy yet hopeful, and I really enjoyed Ben's songs, especially his comedic numbers. The addition of Jeffrey Gaines
to the program added a kick of bluesy rock to the evening, but he fit right in and starting jamming away. I very much preferred his live performances to his slower-paced recordings -- he played the songs with more energy and purpose live, something bad is happening to his music in the recording studio!
I ended up picking up an iTune or 2 from each of the performers to have some audible memories to roll around with. But I immensely enjoyed myself and hope to find more concerts like it in the future!
|Friday, July 23rd, 2004|
|Movie Review: King Arthur
I wouldn't be so disappointed in this film, if it didn't open with text along the lines of: "New archeological discoveries have revealed the true story of the legendary King Arthur. This is that story."
Other than that, it was an okay little movie. The setting is the 4th or 5th century AD, and Arthur is the Roman commander Arturus, a historical figure of the time. His Knights are conscripted horsemen from the Continent, ordered to serve in the Roman legion defending Hadrian's Wall.
At this time in history, the Romans are abandoning Britain, tiring of defending the wretched Isle from barbarous hordes seemingly coming from every direction, including a massive marauding army of Saxons. I'll skip the rest of the "plot" of the movie, except the predictable progression of marching and riding which leads Arthur to the penultimate battle with the Saxon leader. Who wins? Yeah. That's a tough question.
But along the way we get a few shallow archetypes cast as knights. Gawain, typical perfect knight guy. Tristan, naturalist pagan hawk-training ninja knight guy. Bors, "New York Cop" knight guy with the heart of gold. Diggory, apprentice "New York Cop" knight guy with a heart of even more pure gold. Galahad, the youthful idiot knight guy. And of course Lancelot, the "pretends to be attracted to Guenivere but is sooooo obviously in love with Arthur" gay knight guy.
The take on Merlin as a Celtic shamanistic leader was pretty neat, but Guenivere as a badass Celtic huntress... mm-kay.
Along the way, Arthur comes to grips with the nonexistence of his idyllic Rome, the hypocrisy of the early Church, and of course, his love for so-thin-they-appear-starving Celtic huntresses. It ends with a beautiful ocean-side wedding in a replica Stonehenge by the sea.
Oh yeah. Bruckheimer gets his explosions in the film, in the form of massive Celtic-built tribuchets launching exploding payloads. Whee...
|Wednesday, July 21st, 2004|
|Victory, defeat, and friendship
Well, yesterday was one of defeat and victory. Defeat for my beloved Cubs, once again blowing a big lead. Now they've fallen 10 games behind the Cardinals, and it looks like the division is all but lost. Ah well, there's always the wild card...
But at least my team won our softball game last night. It would have felt like a failed season to lose 2 straight and be out of the tournament. Now at least we've got a postseason win -- and hopefully a big double-header on Thursday!
Now instead of looking forward to Saturday night because Teitur was coming to town, I'm looking forward to hanging out with bdub77
, just kicking back with some brews and good music with a real good friend. Maybe turn back the clock 9 years or something. Who knows, maybe we'll run into Heavy Metal Mark
, or even Horton
. Ya never know.
|Tuesday, July 20th, 2004|
I was so hyped about Teitur coming to Carrboro. But I e-mailed the vendor after there appeared to be some confusion about whether or not Teitur would actually be performing. This is the reply I received:
Teitur is not on the bill for the show this weekend at The ArtsCenter, since
he was asked by the prince of Denmark to perform for his birthday. But
Jeffrey Gaines is on the bill instead this Saturday.
No way! I might still head out to the concert, especially since I already convinced bdub77
to buy tickets and all, and the other musicians looks to be talented and all. But no Teitur... hope the Prince of Denmark is happy! ;]