Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Flickr Fun

Bouncy balls released into the wild for a commercial shoot (via Actually, to me it looks like the vomit of a giant clown who's just consumed an entire cartload of "Dippin' Dots" ice cream.

While looking around, I came across this little piece of nightmare fuel.

Offspring of that killer rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Some people's kids.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Reason 1,397,908 Why I Love That Woman

Last night I was ribbing the wife about something - don't recall what - and after a bit she cocked an eyebrow, smirked and said, "Keep digging. You might find a pony under all that shit."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Greatest Hits

In thanks for the praise and linkage from the 2Blowhards, I thought I'd compile a one-stop shopping list of my dating adventures for your convenience. Yes, these are all true.
(Note: I've linked these so they pop into a separate window so you don't have to keep surfing back to this page.)

This is the one that started it all. had a contest for the worst dating stories. This one's not appropriate for lunchtime reading:
<valley girl> Omiga-awd</valley girl> (aka "Date from Hell" and aka "The slob and the spit gob")

This one time, at band camp...

The Time I Became a Mormon for Dating Purposes

That Girl

The Time I Was on a Sitcom Date

"What's the Worst Green Thing You've Ever Had?"

The Time I Got a Date Because I'm Blonde

Bonus Tracks

These aren't about dating, but they are the ones I've gotten the most positive feedback on. Hope you enjoy them as well.

Vomit Phobia

Big nasty fuckin' spider

My Expeditions to the Planet of Third-tier Strippers - expurgated version

Too much information

Starship Trooper

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Thrill is Gone

Saw Lyle Lovett at Red Rocks recently. Lyle is, of course, a national treasure. When we are all dust in the wind, his stuff will still be in rotation on whatever the public transmission medium is of the day. The concert was excellent, natch, so praising it would be like saying ice cream is good. And something happened that I've never seen before at a concert: The entire audience was in reverential silence for the quiet part of a sad song. Usually you hear the low rumble of voices of folks talking through a song they don't know or like. But, twice during Lyle's show the song drops to a whisper, and not a freakin peep from the audience. That's an entertainer, my friends.

Shawn Colvin opened for him, she of the hit "Sunny Came Home." Well, it was just her and her guitar, and she didn't play the hit. Underwhelming doesn't quite come up to describing the experience. It was essentially no different than those girls who brought their guitar to church camp and crooned John Denver songs; pleasant in the moment, but about as memorable as a glass of water. Folks, I know it might be boring to play your hit after a while, but when someone lays out $50 just to get in the door, probably popped for parking too, and has skinned of $7 for a single beer - uh - PLAY THE FUCKING SONG! Damnit anyway. And would it kill ya to drag along a second guitarist or just a bassist?

Nonetheless, I enjoyed myself when Lyle did his thang. Well, the couple songs I didn't are merely acknowledged gaps in my taste. I've really never dug the gospel choir thing. I don't actively dislike it; it just does nothing for me. The whole rest of the crowd was on their feet holy rolling along, and the folks I was with looked down at me like, "What's wrong with you? This is where we're supposed to stand up! It's the gospel choir part!" Yeah, well, whatever flips up your skirt dudes. I'll wait for "It Ought to Be Easier."

My wife has coined something I think is quite wise, she says that a lot of the grief and angst we experience arises from expectations that aren't met. So, when dealing with people, if we can work out what our expectations are with each other, that will immediately relieve a lot of the strife. When approaching a situation, the more realistic your expectations, the better your experience will be, even if it's a bad one. There are many permutations and exceptions to this, of course, but for now the main assertion is all we need.

When I have to lay down a grand total of $80 for something, I expect (there's the word) it to be pretty transcendent. When someone as good as Lyle just doesn't get there, I begin to wonder if it's a function of my age, or if it is just too expensive for what you get. Given my love of music, I'm going to err on the side of the latter, because if tickets were $30 or less, and they at least allowed you to carry your own water into the show, I wouldn't even think of grousing. But it's so clearly tattooed on the experience that if you wanna play, you gotta pay. Starting with $5 for a bottled water.

I suspect there aren't many more live concerts in my future if things don't change.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I love the web!

And this is why: The alternative Potter: Dumbledore's death

Rumor has it that the great Dumbledore sees the wrong end of a wand in the new Harry Potter. So, in a fit of brilliant impatience, the Guardian has thrown down the magic gauntlet:

"Send us your accounts of the death of Albus Dumbledore, and we'll publish the best. Don't feel that you have to model your prose on that of the great JK. We'd love to hear how Dickens would have dealt with the demise of such a noble wizard, or Raymond Chandler, or Douglas Adams. Aim for around 300 words."

(Found via "Pushing Up Dumbledores" on Making Light)

Way too much fun.
Million Dollar Bummer

I'm one of those who make it to the theatre only for the big spectacles, the ones where you need the big honkin screen to fully experience the film. The smaller dramas and comedies are just queued up for DVD viewing as I have a pretty sweet setup and enjoy them more at home, what with the commercials before screenings and people talking on cell phones and (inexplicably) to the screen and such. (Note to theatre owners, one of the secondary reasons I rent movies is to completely avoid commercials.)

It's especially hard to see a tragedy, because - I don't know about you - but I have to be in the right mood to be bummed out by a movie. I remember going to Sophie's Choice back in college, and while it was a very moving experience and a beautiful film, it was the first time a movie kicked me in the nuts that hard. I attended with two buddies, both thoughtful types - but you probably guessed that since they'd gone to Sophie's Choice in the first place. We egressed in silence and went with wordless agreement to a bar and ordered a picture. After a couple cold ones we were able to find words again, and once we dispensed with the usual blah-de-blah about performances and general thumbs up or down (all great, all up), we breached the barrier about the experience. All agreed that, while a great film, no one really wanted to feel that crummy without being consulted first.

So finding a babysitter on a night where you can take being emotionally squashed, and then dealing with the distraction and expense that is the modern movie-going experience just fills me with inertia. Also, we have no theatres where I live; they're a half hour or more away down the highway in Denver. To top if off, the butter-flavored topping provided for the $7 popcorn totally ruins any clothing it touches by leaving an indelible, dark grease stain. We've yet to find a laundry product that removes it, so if you're gonna have popcorn, you've got to be diligent and not get any on you, or wear a shirt and pants that're already ruined, which involves complex laundry scheduling and specific placement within the clothes storage system for easy retrieval. With apologies to China, you go through all of this to be immediately confronted with loud TV commercials that were equalized for the same and sound like someone belching through a bullhorn. Outside of finally moving to stadium seating, theatres have really fucked up the moving-going experience.

Thus, my lovely wife and I saw Million Dollar Baby only last night, and not before the Oscars, as usual. We have a standing rule that we try to see the films nominated for best picture beforehand, but due to the litany above, we didn't make it this year.

I knew what was going to happen in the flick because of the silliness of the culture warriors who are trying to make America over within the rubric of their cramped little mental boxes, who think the fictional exploration of a topic is tantamount to endorsing it. If you are the one person who still doesn't know the overall plot of Million Dollar Baby, I won't spoil it for you here. But I will proceed as if you do know.

I liked the movie, but I don't think it was the shining point of brilliance in last year's movie offerings. It was one of the better ones, but the topics have been done before elsewhere, and done better. I suggest approaching this movie with no expectations, and thus it will be the most rewarding.

Hillary Swank is a good actress, believable, technically adept and so on. Yet, I just don't "feel" her in movies. She's like Tom Cruise in that she always seems like she's trying just a little bit too hard, and thus you always have the meta-perception of watching an actor go through the steps, very brechtian, rather than being convinced she's the character. It doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the movie, but I'm conscious of watching a performance and not in a state of suspended disbelief.

Now Clint Eastwood and, especially, Morgan Freeman do seem as if they are the characters they're playing. Man, Eastwood looks old, though. He conjured the image for me of an angry badger emerging from his hole and snarling at the passers-by who had the temerity to tremor his ground. It works, though. Clint is apparently aware of the roles he fits anymore (well, and always has been). Freeman glides along on that mellow, deep cool he's had forever. He's one of those whose mere presence in a film merits a look.

All this culminates in a fabulous bummer. Good tragedies try to leave you with a little something rather than a dead, oversized cockroach in the corner with a moldering apple lodged in its back. Million Dollar Baby attempts this by showing the heroicness of the Eastwood character, and it almost works. But this is one of those stories were pretty much everything is lost and any redemption to be found is likely to be concocted more by the need of the viewer than there is to be found within the story itself.

If you're in the mood for a good bummer, great acting, and like to see what pulls an Oscar, check it out.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Chick Lit (and Dude Lit by association)

It's official, I don't like "chick lit." Before I venture further, by "chick lit" I mean the variety of book typically printed as a trade paperback, a jaunty, kicky picture of a cute girl on the front, wherein the story centers on the search for Mr. Right - or at least Mr. Rightnow - written in a quasi-humorous breezy fashion. I thought I would like the humor, but most of it is self-depreciating at the expense of the heroine and after a while it just comes off like she needs therapy. (Yes, therapy, not vitamins. Tom. You freak.)

I won't name the authoresses I've read, because I think that would be unfair. Y'see, I don't think the problem is the books, necessarily, but the fact that I'm not the intended audience. I think these are for abstract commiseration in how difficult dating is for the young, single gal. Since I never have been, nor ever will be a young, single gal, these just have no traction for me.

Oh, I was once a young, single guy who had troubles meeting someone. Well, not meeting someone, but meeting the right someone. I recall sitting on a bench at lunch one day, in the bright sun on a beautiful day, laying down a streak of woe about not having a date for eons. The guy sitting next to me on his cigarette break turned to me and groused, "What do you want me to do? Feel sorry for you?" In hindsight, I love those times where life just comes up and bitch-slaps you and says, essentially, "Cowboy up, weenie!" At the time though, I was shocked. In my mind, I thought, "Well ... yeah. Feel sorry for me. This is tough." But, y'know, there I was whining all over his sunny day when all he wanted was a smoke. It was a watershed for me, so I shut the hell up about that topic; for good, pretty much. (Oh, there were occasional beery moments and those dark teatimes of the soul where I relapsed just a little bit, but I still put on the brakes after a paragraph.)

All of the chick lit I've read is essentially this wailing and gnashing of teeth over the same, with a few digs at what pigs men are (and, when it comes to the rut, yeah, we can be pigs), and then the hosannas on how wonderful the guy is who sticks around past the farting right out loud in front of each other stage. Bores me silly.

But, whilst thinking about this post, it occurred to me that most dude lit - which I would categorize as tough guys doing brave and daring things like in Tom Clancy novels - bores me silly, too. I mean, I liked The Hunt for the Red October because there was nothing out there so deliciously technoweenie at the time. Pages of submarine operation minutia was cool because most of us never see that. But then Clancy veered into Republican hero land and it was over, as far as I was concerned. It's kinda like the "Left Behind" series; the story might be fun, but man, the proselytizing is murder.

The whole genre that Clancy belongs to gives me the yawns. It takes a special person to write action well, and when it's done right - see any of the Robert E. Howard "Conan" stories - it's riveting. But when it's just action hero does thus and such, then does this, then something blows up, it's a lot like heroine dates thus and such, then does him, then something blows up - you get the picture.

Both of these genres, by the way, work spectacularly in a movie, because you can see the action, and movies cover far less material (they're usually the equivalent of a short story). The thin material provided by chick lit and dude lit hangs much better in the cinema than it does on the page.

Thank God we've got a new Harry Potter and a new John Irving coming out in a few days.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Oy, my sides hurt...

Re-imagined romance novel covers (via

Make sure you read the smaller blurbs on the covers.

My faves were "Senior Photo Backdrop" and "Lord of the Hissy-fit."
Summer Music

Summer. You get into the car, and it's so hot you think an obscenity or two. Maybe you even mumble it out loud if you're alone. Start'er up, get that A/C pumping if you have it (enduring the initial blast of even hotter air), or crank the windows down if you don't. Then it's time for probably the most important decision you'll make for the day (unless you're a doctor, astronaut or the POTUS): What to play.

Summer albums can burn entire pockets of time into your memory like those black ash-snake fireworks the can mark a sidewalk for seeming eternity (on a nostalgic drive through my childhood neighborhood after college, I could still see the ghost of one I'd lit way back when). For instance, I think Fleetwood Mac's Rumours is that for many people. For me, it evokes picking up my good buddy Pete in my old beat up '62 Chrysler Savoy with the slant six that was so rusted out many a mechanic warned me one day the body would just fall down off the frame and onto my noggin, heading out to the beach or another friend's house, laughing about the fact that "Second Hand News" was about jerking off (complete with a three cymbal-crash climax), and of course lusting over Stevie Nicks. For a former boss of mine it harkens back to illicit sex which resulted in a pregnancy and a regretted marriage. Where were you when you first heard "Dreams" or "Don't Stop"?

This summer is shaping up to be a fine summer of new music, especially after such a drought, partially because the music industry continues to disappear up its own anus fretting over a new music delivery reality they just don't want to face. DRM should stand for "Damned Right it's Mine" - it's my copy and I'll play it where I want to. But I digress.

The quintessential summer release is Sugar Ray's new greatest hits compilation. This is one of those groups the casual listener has heard and loved, but probably never put together just who they were. This anthology even starts off crooning "summer." My God, within seconds it feels as though you have an ice-cold beer (or lemonade if that's your speed) in one paw, a glob of sunscreen in the other, a beachtowel between you and the hot sand, listening to the glittery sound of children's laughter wafting back from the surf. If any group has successfully absorbed and reimagined the entire history of popular music, it's these guys. Part Beach Boys, Barenaked Ladies, Run DMC, Metallica, and Todd Rudgren, these guys are one of the few bands I can imagine someone from every generation grooving to at a party.

Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters (and of Nirvana for the pups in the crowd) promised this was gonna be a great summer for music, and until I heard Sugar Ray, plus the new Foo, I was skeptical. In Your Honor is not as tuneful as previous efforts, but still kicks out the jams. For those of you who like your golden rays enhanced by a little thunder, check out the new Foo.

When I say I was skeptical in the last paragraph, that's because I thought Dave Matthews Band's new release was a fluke, a standout in what would be a typical spate of crep summer releases. Then Dwight Yoakam kicked out a new one which was awesome as usual (he's never made a stinker folks), but he's always good, so I didn't count him initially.

But, finally, when I had 5 new CDs circulating in the player I had to admit that the event of Sugar Ray, Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band, and Dwight Yoakam putting out so much wonderfulness at once was worth noting. And even though I haven't heard them in their entirety, the new Coldplay and Van Morrison sound like they're both in good stride.

Therefore, it's official: This summer doth rock.