Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm Not Pulling a Palin

I got my eight mile run in this morning. This was a great accomplishment because I hadn't been in my best running shape this month. The week of vacation -- NOTHING. And this past week? NOTHING. So I went from zero to eight today.

And it was great! I decided to keep the pace slow and concentrated on getting the miles in. And I did. And it went fine. I ran up every hill, even cemetery hill near the end of my run. I kept myself in check, even when I felt pretty good, so that I would have the energy to complete all the miles without so much as stopping for a brief walk.

And I did that.

Umstead afforded me lots of shade in the 73 degree humidity. I also brought my Coach Bubba hand towel to keep the sweat in check. There was quite a bit of people out there today and although I passed none of them (mostly, they passed me), it was great to be in such company.

During my run, I listened to Keith and the Girl, episode 997 "Flying Pussy". This particular episode was mainly about Sarah Palin's resignation as Governor of Alaska. I hadn't heard her speech, nor read it, but leave it to Keith and Chemda to bring the best out of a boring speech with their commentary.

You have to understand that when Keith and Chemda play something, as in this case, Sarah Palin's resignation speech, they stop it every other second to provide their comments. I love it. It wasn't too long ago that I was listening to the episode with Billy Bob Thornton's outburst and again, every-other-second commentary from the twos of them. It may annoy some but it's the highlight of my podcast to listen to it.

So her speech starts out with thanking everyone for coming out ad nauseum. Chemda then puts on her best high school prom queen voice, mimicking how a teenager thanks everyone for coming to her birthday party and thanking every single person that showed up. This is what Palin sounded like.

Palin continues, ad nauseum, about AlasKAH's accomplishments under her reign. And while she thanked her administration, she then turns and decides to blast the governor position as a 'take-advantage-of-the-government' rant, such as milking it by doing lame things like travel the lower 48 states, just collecting a paycheck...those lame duck governors.

It was her basis for resigning. So what are you saying, Sarah? If you stayed as governor, you would have done just that? And now your Lt. Governor will be doing that?

Just absurd. To use THAT as a reason for QUITTING.

The most ironic statement she made:
If I have learned one thing: LIFE is about choices!


Choices as determined by her and her conservative, religious freaks believe to be a choice.

So it was definitely an interesting way to get through my eight miles. And towards the end of my run, Keith says something along the lines about 'don't be a palin' meaning, don't quit. And I thought about my run and said to myself "I'm not gonna palin this one..."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Favorite SYTYCD Routines: Week Six

My favorite dances this week were all new couples...and it is now voter counts where the least amount of voted dancer goes home.

The "Hair" broadway piece by Brandon and Melissa was cooooool:


Jeanine and Jason were my favorite of the night. The performance choreographed by Travis Wall, who was a past SYTYCD contestant. Amazing. Chilling. Incredible.


And the group dance on the elimination show was amazing. I knew it was Wade Robson's routine before they even announced it. He rocks.


Sadly, Kupono was sent home. I was none-too-happy about that. Now I have no male dancer to really root for...yet.

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

This was a book that CJ had checked out and the cover and title so intrigued me that I decided to read it, even though CJ was bored with it.

And it was a nice read. Nothing that blew me away but a good teeny-bop book with some supernatural touches.

Alexis is a stand-out high schooler, with pink hair and a brooding attitude. A non-conformist, so an instant like from my POV.

Alexis and her younger sister, Kasey, live in a big, old, beautiful, mess-of-architecture of a house that ends up having a bit of history. The reader learns about it through dreams, neighbors, and the 'research project' that Kasey ends up becoming obsessed with.

Along the way, the reader follows familiar teenaged angst in a brooding Alexis as she deals with the popular cheerleaders of the school, and student council president, Carter Blume.

I enjoyed it. It isn't memorable but it isn't bad. But let me tell you, I'm really looking for a book to envelop me into its world.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Stoked

I love lists. I love making them and I love checking them out. Top Ten, Top 100, whatever. This is usually how I get ideas for music, TV, or books.

And I like specific, hard-to-find lists. Not _that_ hard-to-find, but not the top 10 from itunes, Billboard, NY Times Bestsellers...more like top 10 college songs, indie songs, etc. I don't like what's popular overall, but what's popular in specific genres. Sort of the genre-egghead. Those folks take themselves more seriously than the bubblegum-Nickleback-loving population.

So here is a list related to books that I plan to use as my new checklist for reads for the rest of the year: the Bram Stoker Best Novel Nominations (and winner, since these are for past years). Completed ones will have links to my review. The information I have for best novel below is from wikipedia.

Bram Stoker Nominations for Best Novel 2008:
* Duma Key by Stephen King ***Winner***
* Coffin County by Gary Braunbeck
* The Reach by Nate Kenyon
* Johnny Gruesome by Gregory Lamberson

Bram Stoker Nominations for Best Novel 2007:
* The Missing by Sarah Langan ***Winner***
* The Guardener's Tale by Bruce Boston
* Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill Note: this novel is the winner of best first novel
* The Witch's Trinity by Erika Mailman
* The Terror by Dan Simmons

Bookmark

So for the past two books, my new bookmark has been one that Mi-Mi made for school. It has her name on it in big letters, and her mugshot, which is, by far, CUTE. It's laminated and I love using it as I smile each time I look at it. In other words, it is SPECIAL.

And what do I do with something that special? I leave it in a library book and turn it in.

And what other ding-dong thing do I do? I continue to look for the book at the library, but it's the wrong book. It wasn't until yesterday, as I pondered when I would blog my reviews that I realized that I was not looking for the last read novel but the previous one.

So I'm hoping that I'll have a bit of luck and get to the book before anyone else and find it. It's almost like a needle in the haystack, as I am only assuming that this book is from the library I go to. My modus operandi is to 'order' the book on-line and have it available for pick-up, which means it could come from any library (if the book is not available at this library).

China Lake by Meg Gardiner

This is another Edgar Award winner novel, this time for Best Paperback Original. I'm not sure why there is a category for this because if it was in hardback first, shouldn't it have won then? A new format makes it a winner? I don't understand.

If you read the previous review, then you know that I haven't been thrilled with mystery novels lately. On top of that, I am not a fan of mystery novels with the same 'detective'. You know, series of novels. And this one is not just 'China Lake by Meg Gardiner', it's 'China Lake: An Evan Delaney Novel'.

So I seriously thought about not reading the thing because, just by that, I was instantly turned off. But I was on vacation and I thought 'screw it' and read the darn thing anyway.

And it wasn't bad. I would say this one and the previous one are more of a summer read...not the romance type beach reads, but I feel that it's the same type just different genre. Shallow-but-fun reads.

This one had the religious cult edge to it. Evan Delaney and her BFFs are at a funeral for one of her BFFs mom, who has died from AIDS. There is a protest from an extreme religious cult, the Remnant. And these folks are outright WACKOs.

They are more involved with Evan Delaney than she thinks because her ex-sister-in-law is now part of the cult. This matters because the ex-SIL is the mother of her nephew, who she has been taking care of.

AAAANNNNDDD...Evan's brother is a fighter pilot in the military -- father to the nephew (of course) -- and the Remnant are conspiracy theorists that believe the military is responsible for biological warfare on ordinary citizens.

Definitely NOT MY CUP OF TEA but I read it to the end nonetheless. I didn't think I would like Evan Delaney, those stereotypes of strong women who fight evil but she wasn't too bad.

But not good enough, probably, for me to pick up another novel in which she fights crime.

Blue Heaven by C.J. Box

I ran across a list for book genre award nominations and awards and the Edgar Awards seemed interesting enough to pursue. So the first book I decided to delve into was the Best Novel Winner, Blue Heaven by C.J. Box.

First, I have been disappointed in mystery and horror fiction of late. I haven't found one that truly keeps me interested nor scares the bejeezuz out of me. If you have recommendations for good ones, please send them my way!!

But for this one, it was a good read. Not great but enough to keep me in touch with the storyline.

The storyline, IMO, played out like a made-for-TV-movie, and that's what I envisioned as I read chapter after chapter: two young kids, a sister and brother, stumble upon a murder scene by accident and then become hunted by the murderers. This was the best part of the book: anticipating how the kids would get away and who was who.

There are many introductions to main characters early on, who are not initially connected at all. This was cool but also, very obvious that they all played a role at some point to the event at hand.

The mystery is revealed pretty early on and thus, the book is mainly a thriller. But the author does a great job of keeping the intrigue and momentum going. It was certainly never boring. To actually WIN the award, though, I wonder...wonder if I'm just to discriminating too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Domestic Help

One of my conversations this morning:

me: You need to comb your hair every day so you don't get all these tangles.

mi-mi (running her hand over the back of her hair with an "I-know-mom" tone): I can _feel_ the tangles.

I give her the brush and she brushes her own hair.

mi-mi: you didn't get the tangles out!

me: I thought it hurt too much so I want you to do it.

mi-mi (brushing her hair): it does hurt.

me: do you want to do it yourself or would you like me to continue.

mi-mi: I want you to continue.

I "continue" to brush her hair.

mi-mi: and don't forget my bangs.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just My Luck

This week has been a decent week for me, as far as getting back into my groove. I've made all my workouts and runs, although a bit slower in the runs. But I am actually getting up EARLY to do my workouts and runs. Remember: I love my bed.

Today I met Frank for a morning run through Umstead. We were going to start at another building at work, which cuts out a big, long hill. I met him in the parking lot and thought "Hmmm...I'd like to go pee before the run." I didn't really NEED to go but mentally, it's good for me 'to go'.

But since this building is not the building we work in, and because it was early in the morning, we do not have access to the building. Frank points out a worker bee getting out of his car and said 'if u run, you can get in with him'.

So I got my warm-up .01 to the building and tailed the poor bastard. As most southern gentlemen do, he gave me first dibs to use my badge to get in. Well, I know mine won't work but now have the ruminations in my head that if he knows I don't work here, perhaps he won't let me in (BTW, this is a stupid rumination as most people that work at my company are overly-nice and accommodating to the point that it's very cultish).

So I oblige and scan my badge. TADA! Does not work. He then uses his badge and....nothing. Not a beep, not a flick, not a single thing. My badge at least gave a beep - it just wouldn't unlock the door.

So we walk to the _other_ side of the entrance to try that one. I notice that his badge is broken and as most goobers would do, he had simply used scotch tape to tape it together. That badge was not going to get him in.

And it didn't. The other entrance did not work with his badge. And I'm peeking through the door looking for signs of life. "Does this man not have FRIENDS?" I thought to myself..."Why is he not calling someone?"

I notice a landscaping employee pull up in the John Deere and I attempt to wave her down. She ignores me so I run 0.1 to her (she kept getting further away from me) and asked if she had accessed to the building. She nodded and said she would help me shortly.

And she did within a minute and I made it to the restroom and doofus finally got to his office. What would he do without me?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Favorite SYTYCD Routines: Week Five

I am posting these a week late since I didn't get to see it last week! OH THE HORROR!! But I'm almost caught up (currently watching who gets eliminated) and can post the routines I loved the most.

This week, Brandon and Janette's two routines were my favorites. It's funny because they are not my FAVORITE dancers but most of there routines make it into my favorites for the week.

Their first routines was an Argentine Tango, which was fricking amazing:


The second was a Wade Robson who is THE BOMB as a choreographer. I LOVE HIS ROUTINES. I haven't met a routine he's done that I didn't like. This was an awesome dance:


The third was Kayla and Kupono's contemporary routine, which was phenomenal. You have to watch Kupono's face because it truly made the routine so much more powerful. I loved it. My favorite of the week.

And they are both two of my favorite dancers. Kupono is amazing and sooooo hot...until he starts talking...ahs well.


The opening routine for Thursday night's elimination show was also another favorite. It's rare for me not to like these:

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lounge Lizard

Monday, for me, was spent lounging. I spent much of the day lying on a comfy chair on the beautiful porch, reading. I think I stepped outside, in the great mosquito war, twice to get stuff out of the car.

It is real purty to look outside and see the beautiful trees and tropical foliage, but man-oh-man, the mosquitos are cruel.

CJ and Mi-Mi made it over to a neighbor's house, who has a daughter the same age as CJ. But more importantly, they have a POOL! So the girls spent most of the afternoon over there, swimming their little butts off.

Grandma spent the day with us and so we had a lot of opportunity to chit-chat. I got a couple of calls in to mi mama y papa, who I have not talked to in several MONTHS. Papa was great to speak to; mama is probably PO'd at me and thus, I left a voicemail message.

And I have not run nor worked out since, hmmm..., Wednesday? Running here would be harsh. And I mean around the hacienda. Their place is truly an oasis in a world of burned out, fried, hot concrete. The beach is not far but truthfully, I like lounging around. :)

The guys, Tim and Joey, spent the day running errands and getting bags of concrete to make a concrete slab for a grill area. So on vacation, Tim can't stop working...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Fourth, Fifth of July a Unce Joey's

We made it into Palm Bay on the 4th, sometime in the afternoon.


Traffic was surprisingly sparse. We did have one incident with a cool ray out on the road, but nothing a few flip of the birds couldn't take care of.

Aunt Judy made some awesome burgers for us, plus some cheese noodles that I eventually finished off for lunch the next day.

Everyone was together: me and our brood, Grandma, Joey & Judy, and Uncle Phillip, who flew in from Colorado the day before. It was really nice.

I didn't stay up for fireworks but the girls did...watched some of it on the TV that they have on their gorgeous porch.




Sunday, I was excited about Breakfast at Wimbledon. I had missed the Williams' sisters match on Saturday so I was especially excited about the men's finals. I made sure to tell everyone I really really really wanted to watch tennis. And I did, and what a game!!!


Afterwards, we did the tour of Tim's childhood. We do this everytime we are here and I love it...every single time.

Tim grew up as a preacher's son so they lived by churches. This is his childhood home, which isn't much bigger than the picture I got.


Across a great big field is the church that Tim's dad preached at...but they (Tim and the family) built this church:



We looked at other places of interest: Uncle Joey's first house (which he demanded I not put on facebook), Aunt Judy's homes, other childhood homes Tim's family lived in, and some childhood friends' homes.

Finally, we made it to the beach and watched the girls romp around in the ocean. It was quite 'choppy'; I was surprised at how forceful the waves were. I'm used to being at the beaches of Hilton Head, which aren't as harsh as they were here...but they had a blast and weren't swept out to sea.

Aunt Judy suggested we hit Del's Freeze, which has been a local institution for ages. And boy, it earned that reputation because the ice cream was soooooo good.

We headed back to the hacienda and enjoyed the evening with neighbors and Wii.

La Vida Loca!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Not A Whole Lot of Quality In(n) Darien, GA

I thought hitting Darien, GA would be the halfway point for our journey to Uncle Joey's house. Savannah seemed to short and Brunswick seemed a tad too long. Tim won't 'let' me drive, so I had to think about my tired old man and how long I should keep him driving.

When I made the reservation, I requested a whirlpool. Tim's been working hard for so long, I thought he deserved a nice, warm, bubbly bath. When we got to the hotel, I asked the lost looking girl behind the counter if I could get a room with a whirlpool. She seemed confused and finally said 'we have one but I'm not sure it working'.

Great. There goes my big plan.

Instead, we get a double room on the second floor. We get to traipse through the lobby with the dog and the cat. Lovely.

We head out to the pool as Mi-Mi can't shut-up about the pool. She's been reading the billboards for the last few miles and pointing out all the hotels with pools...'let's go to that one! it has a pool...NO????? Waaaaaaa! I wanna go to the pool!!!!!'

So we finally hit the pool, which feels GREAT. It's nice and warm despite not seeing any electronic devices that would actually heat the pool. Nor, as Tim noted, do we detect any chlorine. Tim is advising the girls not to purposely put water in their mouth.

We are hootin' and a hollerin' having a great time when a fella walks into the pool area. I think he's a potential guest, checking out the pool, but what does he do? He sits down in one of the pool chairs and watches us. Tim acknowledges him with a 'what's up' but the dude sticks around for a good 15 minutes.

After the pool, we head out to the restaurant next door: Smokey Joe's BBQ. I get really excited because the on-line menu looks great. Once we walk in, I think 'uh-oh, I bet they have no booze'. That ends up being my answer to "Dine in or take out?" 'Do you have booze?' And the waitress points out all the domestics they have bottled up.

Hmmmm...domestics. I. Am. A. Beer. Snob. And domestics are not in my repertoire. Unless it's Pete's Wicked Ale or some micro-brew. And sure, Budweiser is no longer truly domestic, but I haven't drank that crap since high school.

So I had a Bud Light with Lime. It was that or a Coors Light. They had an Amber Bock. Next time, that is what I'll order. But hopefully, there won't be a next time.

We had one of the pissiest waitresses in Darien, GA. It was as if I came in to purposely piss her off. Well, we had about three or four women come by to give us food, drink, whatever, but pissy girl was the 'main' one.

And the menu was nothing like the on-line one. It had all the meats: beef, pork, ribs (of both types), chicken and sausage. The on-line menu stated it had andouille sausage so I asked the pissy girl if that's what it was. Duh. 't's just sausage.'

OK. Get me the beef.

And that's what thi food was: just a big ole pile of MEAT. The green beans, while tasty, had meat in it. MEAT MEAT MEAT. I like meat but my god, this was ridiculous.
I brought most of my meat back to my carnivore dog. I was done. With the food and with Darien, GA.

We won't be back.

P.S. The on-line menu was a menu for a Smokey Joe's BBQ in Darien, *Connecticut*...

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

I decided to pick this novel up based on its being awarded the Bram Stoker Award for First Novel in 2007 (better late than never, right?).

When I picked this up at the library, it was thick paperback. It reminded me of all the books I read in my teenaged days: thick, small print, paperback novels full of horror: my genre of choice then. I could smell the smell of paperbacks in the small bookstores I would venture into, floating aisle to aisle, looking for a great book to engulf my psyche.

Overall, it was a very entertaining book. I didn't get scared. But I did get into it a bit towards the end.

I don't know if with age, I have grown tired of these types of books, or if they are different than what I read as a teenager. I truly believe it's the former since this book, IMO, would have been well-loved while reading in my younger days.

And although it was enjoyable, it was not believable...even for a scary book. I know, i's a work of fiction, but I need a little more blur with reality and I couldn't get that from it.

Jude Coyne is an aging rock star who has very shallow relationships with people, especially women. Currently, he has a young fan that he calls "Georgia" as his mate...based on the state she came from. Before her, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama...

He is also a collector of morbid oddities: a noose used to hang a man in England, a snuff film, all kinds of similar items sent from fans.

But his assistant finds a ghost for sale on eBay and they pay the Buy It Now price of $2K for said ghost.

The ghost arrives in the form of the dead man's suit, wrapped in a heart-shaped box. And then, the haunting begins. Almost immediately, the ghost appears and it becomes apparent that the ghost will not leave until Jude Coyne and Georgia are taken with him.

Reading about Jude's transformation from shallow rock star to what happens in the novel is really good. Georgia" becoming "Marybeth" is also really good. The interaction between the ghost, Craddock, and Jude and Marybeth, eh, lukewarm. Wasn't scary for me vs. just 'special effects' (via words) and gore.

Still, an enjoyable novel but hoping to find one that will scare the bejeezuz out of me.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My Favorite SYTYCD Routine: Week Four

This week was amazing. I think every one of these dancers are pretty incredible. However, I only have one that stood out for me as my favorite. I liked them all, though. But I did get really tired of Mia Michaels listening to herself talk. Is it just me, or has her ego just quadrupled and she thinks she is the shit of all shit? Love her routines but give me a break with your fucking attitude...

BTW, this Kayla and Kupono routine was choreographed by Sonya Tayeh, who I fucking LOVE!!

(b)Racing for the Fall

I decided that I would do the Second Empire Grand Prix Series in the fall.

Basically, it is a series of eight races that run (hehe) from September to December. Participants earn points for each race they participate in, plus how your time compares to the winning time. The minimum number of races to participate is three, with a max of seven. There are only eight races this year; normally, there are nine but the Second Empire 5K Classic, which is usually part of this series, has been moved to the Spring.

I inadvertently placed sixth one year...or something that was pretty good without winning anything. I only found out when a friend of mine sent me a congratulations e-mail. I raced in several of the series' races without knowing it and actually placed! And I don't believe I even ran the full seven max, so I'm pretty excited about it for this year.

The races I plan to do are the following:

* September 13: The Magnificent Mile
* September 27: Anna's Angels 10 Miler
* October 10: Triangle Run/Walk for Autism
* October 25: The 5K Run for Healthier Babies
* November 7: Free to Breath Lung Cancer 5K
* December 5: Jingle Bell 5K Run for Arthritis
* December 12: St. Michael Jolly Elf Trail Run

The Jingle Bell Run may interfere with the half marathon race that I was planning to do this year. It was on December 6th of last year, so I am assuming it will be the same weekend as this race. I would have skipped it if I had two to skip (nine races vs. eight) but since I am missing one of the races in the series, the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day (I will be enjoying the mountains again this year), I don't want to miss another one and be one short. If that's the case, then I will need to find another half to run. (I was eyeballing one in Key West in January...:))

There may be a couple I may add to the calendar. Of course, this seems plenty but I enjoyed the Neuse River Bridge 10K and I'd love to make a weekend trip of it in beautiful, cozy New Bern. Then there's the local favorite, Old Reliable, that I can usually be peer pressured into...so we'll see. I would, however, would really like to find a December half marathon nearby.

Taxing My Movies

I received this PSA from Bill Peebles, owner of our local theaters The Colony, The Rialto, Six Forks Station and Mission Valley. Apparently, NC wants to increase the taxes (about .40) on movie tickets. Perhaps to the above average salaried person, this is nothing, but IMO, movie tickets are high already and increasing it only hurts the regular joes who seek entertainment...especially in our present economic times.
It appears that our legislators are not able to cut the State’s expenses so they are considering taxing movie admissions. Please take the time to print, fill out the attached post card, and drop it by one of our theatres. Or email your representatives.

If this tax passes, I will have no other option than to add this to admission tickets. I will also have to add the concession tax as well.

Thank you,

Bill Peebles

So I am passing this information along for you all to consider: nomovietaxes.com.

Things that Go Screech in the Night

Brenna the dog woke me up at 4:30 this morning. I happily jump out of bed and tell her 'good dog'.

I know she needs to go out as I noticed she was taking an especially long time the evening before to do the deed.

I take her out and wait. I notice she starts eating grass. Well, I don't want her to eat grass because this leads only to one thing: grass comes back out the front door.

I scream a whispered scream "BRENNA! STOP IT!" Imagine, she does not listen to me and continues the buffet of grass.

I run down and shake my finger at her. This does not seem to work either. Finally, I resort to nudging her away.

It was about this time that Brenna and I both heard a horrible, horrible screeching scream.

WTF? Brenna said the same thing. I could see it her face. A face I have never seen before on her.

The screeching-scream continues. I am trying to place what possible evil incarnation it could be and how close it was getting to me...forget the dog.

It sounded like a cat being skinned alive. I swear. And the only other thought was a cat dying and screaming and writhing in pain. Yes, I have a demented mind that puts actual images of such things in my head. Especially at 4:41 in the morning.

These screeches continue for an agonizing 10-15 seconds in length, with approximately 2 seconds of break. And this went on for maybe a minute. Do I need to map out an equation for this event?

In my life, I have never heard of such a creature. I thought: maybe it's a wallaby (or some Australian animal). Don't ask me why I thought that (well, there is an escaped/kidnapped wallaby in the area, so that may be how the thought came to my mucked up mind) but remember, it's early in the morning...although by this time, I am wide awake.

I went back to bed pondering it more (and more and more and more...get to sleep, will you!). A screech owl. That must be it. That's why they are called screech owls. I go to sleep thinking I've solved the puzzle.

But I just checked and screech owls, apparently, don't screech. They hoot. Well, I heard one screech and it was a duration of ~3 seconds and in those three seconds, it sounded nothing like a cat being skinned alive.

Any other ideas?