Saturday, December 31, 2005

10 ... 9 ... 8 ... 7 ... 6 ... 5 ... 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

My resolution for 2006? To be as blogtastic as ever! I rule!

(Oh, and less humble, too.)

Jeff's Top 5 Favorite Movies of 2005

As 2005 circles the drain it's time to revisit the year in film.

This was the first year I've ever avoided films based on their artsty-fartsy messages and went to see movies based solely on whether or not I would be entertained. So you might notice that my top five favorite movies of the year are more mainstream than professional critics who have no choice but to cave in to the "serious" motion pictures and their "contemplative" directors. Whatever.

1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - I really didn't expect this to be near the top of my list when the first trailers came out. Yes, they were exciting, but I knew little of the story and anticipated other big films like Harry Potter and King Kong. Narnia, then, was a most pleasant surprise, between the cinematography, leads, special effects and especially the soundtrack, also my favorite of 2005.

2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - I knew I would like the fourth installment of the franchise, and yet Goblet of Fire still surpassed expectations to become the best of the series thus far.

3. Elizabethtown - If my top two fulfilled my imagination, this one met my fantastical romantic side. I remain befuddled that critics didn't care either way, because I was fully engrossed in the story, the characters and the music selected by director Cameron Crowe. Makes this single guy feel like anything's possible. (Unlike my Realistic side who knows I'll die single and alone, watching DVDs of Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Narnia when I'm 133 years old.)

4. Batman Begins - Proves that even well-known franchises can be given a fresh spark. I didn't expect to, but I especially liked the backstory of Bruce, filling in the gaps between his parents' death and his return to Gotham as the new hero.

5. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith - An era ends. Still not as brilliant as I expected, still full of holes connecting to the original trilogy, but decent nonetheless, and of course it's Star Wars so yeah I'm a sucker for nostalgia.

(Previously we looked at my favorite Minutes Of The Weekday, Secular Concerts, Best and Worst Jobs, my cars, LPGA babes, movie scores, TV theme songs and Brat Pack flicks.)

Friday, December 30, 2005


Still apologizing for the lack of updates. Shortly after getting home yesterday, I ventured to sleep for 14 of the next 18 hours. Even awake all day, I've had a tummy ache and found myself in a waking stupor most of the time.

I at least found time to upload and arrange all my photos (12 pages worth) from Tuesday and Wednesday, but need more time to caption.

Making matters worse, I start back at work tomorrow, covering the 4a-Noon shift this weekend and the 7a-3p shift Monday to Wednesday, so I'll be in and out of consciousness anytime. Hopefully I’ll find my post-vacation second wind and get back to this by tomorrow!

UPDATE, 4:20 a.m. Saturday - All better now. No, Stacy, I didn't even take our own advice, but remembered the "no ibuprofen" advice about a minute after popping a couple Friday morning. When I did start feeling better was after eating a few oatmeal raisin cookies from Subway. I don't know if the ache was going out anyway, but I think the cookies did the trick, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Stay tuned

I’m home. Finally.

Could someone tell AirTran that when it’s 10 a.m., the flight is scheduled for 10:14 and the plane is just now arriving at the gate that you can feel free to change the board from “on time” to “late again, sorry ol’ chaps.” We ended up leaving about a half-hour late.

Then, when I hop on the subway to my car at the CNN Center, the power goes out near the central station where I had to switch trains for the last leg. That’s another 15 minutes.

I’m spent. I’ll start working on captions from Tuesday and Wednesday’s full days of photographs, but first I need to reset my switches. My body is shutting down either way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Sorry for the lack of updates the last couple of days; we've actually been pretty busy between the Lion Country Safari, airboating the Everglades and spectacular dinners - tonight's in Key Largo to watch the sunset.

I did crop and resize the photos and am uploading them now, so look for them by this weekend. I'm flying back to Atlanta in the morning, wearing a long-sleeve shirt and jeans during the day for the first time since, well, I flew down. Have I mentioned how warm and breezy and sunny it's been here lately? Tee hee.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Day After

Yup, still taking new pictures!

Christmas is sadly over, though. Bill and Stephanie left yesterday, and this morning Scott and I drove Mom to the airport at 8, and then her flight ended up being three hours late departing, so she won't get back to Chapel Hill for another hour. Yeek. Nana left this afternoon, and her flight was a half-hour late leaving for Memphis, which isn't as bad but still annoying, for sure.

Nothing much going on here. Two extra pages of pictures above, from yesterday and stolen from Stacy's camera of their flight to Miami last Friday. Pages 11 and 12 of the link are the newest. Tomorrow we're planning rides on airboats in the Everglades, then Wednesday driving to West Palm Beach for a drive-thru safari.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

More pictures, you seek? But of course! Six pages worth!

Sadly, we just got back from taking Stephanie and Bill to the airport, so they're headed back to Louisville via three hour layover in Atlanta. Tomorrow, Mom and Nana leave, making it all too real that the holidays are ending.

Gabriel has felt awful most of the day with stomach problems, but he managed to open his presents a little here and a little there, as the pictures show. He did manage to play a few minutes on his new Nintendo Gamecube and the Lego Star Wars game. Nate doesn't care yet, but he enjoys the toys all the same.

Still warm, partly cloudy and not a chance of precipitation here in Miami. Good times.

Last night we rang in Christmas at midnight at the tail end of a seven-person poker game, the second of three held this weekend. Scott took down Bill to win the first, and Bill beat me in the next two. Thank goodness Bill left! (Kidding, Bill, of course. But I would totally have taken you in a game of War!)

Christmas quotes

First, the typical rah-rah we're all one brotherhood of man crap, courtesy

"To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world." - Calvin Coolidge

"I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to this world." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Christmas is a necessity. There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we're here for something else besides ourselves." - Eric Sevareid

"Remember, if Christmas isn't found in your heart, you won't find it under a tree." - Charlotte Carpenter

"Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas." - Pope John XXIII

"The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has no Christmas in his heart." - Helen Keller

"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart." - Washington Irving

"O Christmas Sun! What holy task is thine! To fold a world in the embrace of God!" - Guy Wetmore Carryl

"Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion." - Ralph Sockman

"There is no name so sweet on earth, no name so sweet in Heaven,
The name, before His wondrous birth, to Christ the Savior given." - George W. Bethune

"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas." - Peg Bracken

"The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." - Burton Hillis


Okay, that's all for the goody goody bland quotes. How about some that are grounded in reality: Television and the movies!

"You all think Christmas just happens. You think all this goodwill just falls from the freakin' sky. Well, it doesn't! It falls out of my holly jolly butt! So you can cook your own damn turkey. Wrap your own damn presents. And hey, while you're at it, you can all ride a one horse open sleigh to hell!" - Lois, "Family Guy"

"Christmas is the time of year when the ghost of Jesus rises from the grave to feast on the flesh of the living and we sing Christmas carols to lull him back to sleep." - Peter, "Family Guy"

"Like we say in St. Olaf, Christmas without fruitcake is like St. Sigmund's Day without the headless boy." - Rose, "Golden Girls"

"Twas the night before christmas, and all through the house, / no food was a stirring, not even a mouse. / Stockings were hung 'round dad's neck like a tie, / along with a note that said "presents or die". / Children were plotting all night in their beds, / while the wife's constant whining was splitting his head. / But daddy had money this year in the bank, / then they closed up early, now dad's in the tank. /... and all of a sudden Santa appeared, / a sneer on his face, booze in his beard. / Santa I said as he laughed merrily, / you do so much for others do something for me. / Bundy he said, you only sell shoes, / your son is a sneak-thief, your daughters' a flooze. / Ho Ho Santa said, should I mention your wife, / her hairs like an a-bomb, her nails like a knife. / As he climbs up the chimney, that fat piece of dung, / he mooned me two times, he stuck out his tongue. / And I heard him exclaim, as he broke wind with glee: / you're married with children, you'll never be free." - Al, "Married ... With Children"

"I hate Christmas. The mall is full of nothing but women and children. All you hear is "I want this.", "Get me this.", "I have to have this."... and then there's the children. And they're all by my store 'cause they stuck the mall Santa right outside ringing his stupid bell. As if you need a bell to notice a 300-pound alcoholic in a red suit. "Ho, ho, ho," all day long. So, nice as can be, I go outside, ask him to shut the hell up. He takes a swing at me. So I lay a hook into his fat belly and he goes down. Beard comes off, all the kids start crying and I'm the bad guy." - Al, "Married ... With Children"

"Do we have to keep talking about religion? It's Christmas!" - Danielle, "My So-Called Life"

"Drinking, crying, cops, well it must be Christmas." - Ryan, "The O.C."

"Christmas is awesome. First of all you got to spend time with people you love. Secondly, you can get drunk and no-one can say anything. Third you give presents. What's better than giving presents? And fourth, getting presents. So four things. Not bad for one day. It's really the greatest day of all time." - Michael, "The Office"

"Kenny G will be releasing a CD fully comprised of Christmas songs. Happy birthday, Jesus - HOPE YOU LIKE CRAP." - Norm MacDonald, "Saturday Night Live"

"Many Christmas' ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reached for the last one they had, but so did another man. As I rained blows upon, I realized there had to be another way." - Frank Costanza, "Seinfeld"

"You can't go home, man. This pageant's your chance to spread some Christmas spirit. And that's contagious like VD." - Leo, "That 70s Show"

"This is the worst Christmas ever. I had thought it was the one when our parents bought us hamsters and forgot to poke holes in the boxes, but at least that had a moment of suspense." - Brian, "Wings"

"Christmas? Christmas means dinner, dinner means death! Death means carnage; Christmas means carnage!" - Ferdinand the Duck, Babe

"You know what I got for Christmas this year? It was a banner fuckin' year at the old Bender family. I got a carton of cigarettes. The old man grabbed me and said "Hey. Smoke up Johnny."" – John Bender, The Breakfast Club

"Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?" – Charlie Brown, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

"Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no. We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f***ing Kaye. And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse." – Clark Griswold, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

"All right, listen up guys. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the four a**holes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation." – Theo, Die Hard

"Today... is Christmas! There will be a magic show at zero-nine-thirty! Chaplain Charlie will tell you about how the free world will conquer Communism with the aid of God and a few marines! God has a hard-on for marines because we kill everything we see! He plays His games, we play ours! To show our appreciation for so much power, we keep heaven packed with fresh souls! God was here before the Marine Corps! So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to the Corps! Do you ladies understand?" - Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, Full Metal Jacket

"Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp so long as we have hands to clasp." – Narrator, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”

"Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!" – George Bailey, It’s a Wonderful Life

"What a splendid idea! This "Christmas" sounds fun. I fully endorse it - let's try it at once!" – Mayor, The Nightmare Before Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Pictures upon pictures

Merry Christmas Eve, folks! Been fun today, outside and inside. Two more pages of pictures have been posted this afternoon. It was so warm this afternoon that after a half-hour at the park we had to come back in. Yep, December 24 and it's too hot. Sweet.

Today's headlines

-- Two more rings discovered around Uranus

You know, a little bleach on the toilet seat and you won't have that problem.

-- Evolution may explain need for privacy during sex

Great, that's all I need, a scientific answer for why I sleep alone.

(Hat tip:

Miami Christmas - Spectacular

Day two pictures now posted on the site!

After staying up until almost 4 posting pictures last night, I'm downright early this morning, eh?

We all woke up around 10 or 11 Friday morning, and Dad, Scott and I went to the Miami airport to pick up Nana. Thirteen traffic headaches later, Scott and I walked up to her gate approximately thirty seconds before she appeared.

Tonight, Dad and I drove separately to Ft. Lauderdale airport for the final - and larget- bunch, Mom, Stacy, Joe and the boys, all flying in together via Southwest. On the way home I forced Mom and Joe to shop at Publix and double down on all the snacks. Totally necessary after even one day here.

Today is Jenn's birthday (happy happy, Jenn!). Plenty of updates this weekend, from the Titans-Dolphins game Saturday afternoon to Jenn's party to Christmas celebrations and all fun between. God bless us, everyone, indeed.

UPDATE 1:25 Saturday - We decided not to go to the game. We never bought tickets ahead of time, and then it sold out, and I hate trying to buy tickets outside the stadium. Besides, it would also mean spending several hours away from everyone on Christmas Eve. Too much fun to be had! It's 75 degrees, sunny and we're headed to the park with Gabriel and Nate, so ta ta for now!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas, Japanese style

Day one of our Miami Christmas Spectacular is in the books, and what do ya know, I've already posted some pictures!

My flight was cramped, but on time, and I got into Ft. Lauderdale at 4:30 p.m. as planned. Stephanie and Bill had already flown in two hours earlier and had lunch with Dad before turning back and picking me up. Scott waited for us back at Dad's.

Tonight, Scott and Dad went to pick up Jenn from Dallas at 8, joined by Dad's "friend"/co-worker, Natalie, and her ten-year-old son, Jonathan. Me, Stephanie and Bill went on to Benihana to meet the rest for a late dinner with a 9:30 reservation. Of course, we sat in the bar for a while and didn't get seated until well after 10, but who gives a flip, we're on vacation! Merry Christmas, indeed! Nothing says thanks-for-being-born-Jesus like some teriyaki steak, shrimp and thick bowl of fried rice, am I right? Amen.

Tomorrow, Nana arrives after Noon, then Mom, Stacy, Joe and the boys fly in together in the early evening. By tomorrow night this place will be a zoo, and we're already sitting on top of one another. I'm sleeping in the living room tonight, albeit on a thick air mattress, one of a few that Dad bought to make sure everyone was comfortable. What a host. He also bought all of our favorite snacks and drinks, so the turkey won't be the only thing stuffed by next week!

More pictures as I download them in Dad's office and can post. As you can tell, it's late Friday/early Thursday because there's too much time to play to worry about getting on the computer. Updates to follow all Christmas week!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

More thinking out loud

Nothing like waking up on the first day of vacation one minute before the alarm went off, your body a lot more excited than if it was another day of work. Problem is, the first thing I heard on the radio was that on my route to CNN Center, 75 South, all lanes are blocked as you enter downtown. Just to prove that forces may be acting against my trip to the airport for my 2p flight to Miami, the secondary side road has a water main break. For the next hour I'm going to be studying the Georgia Navigator traffic map like it's my fantasy baseball team.

Now to the funny. (Hopefully?)

  • I’ve been highly critical of Saturday Night Live’s suckitude since the early 90s, but have to give them credit for this illin’ rap video: The Chronic of Narnia.

  • Two bidders won a lunch with former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein at auction recently for at least $16,000. Now, I’m as big a fan of Theo as the next guy, but for sixteen grand I should get to use his cell phone to prank call Larry Lucchino or get one of Theo’s castoff groupies for a night.

  • U.S. Olympic Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth called on the Bush administration to reverse its decision to keep Cuba out of next year's World Baseball Classic. Hey, here’s a bright idea. Why not field a team of free Cubans who escaped Fidel’s hellhole? You’re talking about names like Orlando Hernandez, Jose Contreras, Alex Sanchez, Rey Ordonez, and Danys Baez. For comedy’s sake, maybe we can even bring Jose and Ozzie Canseco out of retirement for the tournament. They’re allowed to wear ankle monitors with the uniform, right?

  • A web site called lets you send emails to yourself and others in the future.

    Dear Jeff: Hope you are doing well and not reading this using voice software after clawing your eyes out when the Red Sox traded David Ortiz to the Yankees straight up for Tanyon Sturtze. Did the Democrats try to impeach President Bush (George W., not Jeb) for feeding his dogs with fake kangaroo meat? How’s the love life? Did you marry that cute producer at work, or finally break down and import a bride from Russia? Sorry I stayed fat so long; hope you finally got that stomach-stapling surgery when it became clear I wasn’t going to stop eating taquitos.

  • The NCAA recalculated student-athlete graduation numbers to include students who transferred to other colleges, which raised the average rate overall. The strangest note is that among women’s sports, the lowest graduation rate was bowling. I guess they can’t even take themselves seriously in those clown shoes. Just goes to show, it’s not where you release the ball, but how you knock over the pins that matters. (Don’t worry, in bowling parlance that’s deep stuff.)

  • I wonder if Nicky Hilton gets super jealous of all the attention sister Paris receives? When we first heard of them they were a pair, right? The Hilton Sisters were the talk of Hollywood. Then Paris’ p0rn tape surfaced and that was all she wrote for younger sis Nicky. Then again, I’ll bet she enjoys being the “good Hilton,” since she could sleep with the entire cast of “How I Met Your Mother,” shoot Donald Rumsfeld in the foot and get busted for selling heroin to kindergarteners, and no one would bat an eye since, “heck, she’s still not as nuts as Paris.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Veni Vidi Venti: I came, I saw, I vented

The latest quotable Vents posted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (registration required - use this):

- I just realized I am middle-aged. People stopped telling me I look good and started telling me I look good for my age.

- If we fail in Iraq, the media and Democrats deserve full credit.

- I think it should be legal to shoot paparazzi who use telephoto lenses to take photos of celebrities in the privacy of their homes.

- If not for Venetian blinds, it would be curtains for us all.

- Has anyone ever lost a button from a shirt that came with replacement buttons?

- After raking my yard, I’ve come to the conclusion that Mother Nature is a litterbug.

- So Arnold really is the Terminator.

- The saddest part of the Tookie Williams story was that he lived longer than his four victims.

- All the leaves have fallen, but the leaves of the mysterious snack bag tree keep showing up in my yard every night.

- Gay marriage is already legal: Gay men can marry gay women in all 50 states!

- I told my wife that if I am ever in a vegetative state and dependent on some machine and fluids to just pull the plug. Now she’s unplugged the TV and thrown out all my beer!

- Santa’s so jolly because he knows where all the bad girls live.

- How come the healthier food is more expensive?

- I’ve decided to start getting in shape – round.

- My 80-year-old father called me and complained that some “old guy” had hit his car in the parking lot at Wal-Mart.

Vents I Sent:

- Can Happy Meals be written off on tax forms as therapy?

- Given the Valerie Plame leak scandal, it seems odd that the media is trying so hard to expose secret CIA prisons.

- Perhaps you slept through the 90s when Saddam tried to kill George H.W. Bush, fired on our planes every day and swindled the U.N. out of billions?

- Between Hillary Clinton under fire for saying we need to finish the war, and Howard Dean claiming we’re doomed to lose in Iraq, I’d say the Democrats can’t get together on policy.

- I wonder if the liberals so eager to relive 1975 think North Vietnam moseyed in with lollipops and kites when we left the South undefended?

- Do you smart alecks really think capturing Osama will convince his buddies in Iraq to put down their bombs and take up Amway? (Stolen from Lileks.)

- So the media's new excuse for their Bush bashing is that he won't sip wine with them at haughty restaurants? How shallow.

- Forget Kong. The real eighth wonder of the world is Naomi Watts' wardrobe.

- There is only one force that can save the Republican Party and it is called the Democratic Party.

In case of rapture, this flight will continue as scheduled

The wife of Joel Osteen - pastor of the nation's largest church - was asked to deplane after a disagreement with a flight attendant.

Apparently Mrs. Osteen became furious when she was informed that Jesus was not, in fact, the co-pilot on that flight.

(Hat tip: Tim Ellsworth.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thinking out loud

  • One of the final events of the yearlong Las Vegas Centennial Celebration was marked with the official dedication of a time capsule. By the way, has anyone seen Celine Dion lately?

  • The only thing that I would have knocked A-Fraud more than playing for the Dominican Republic – where his parents were from, but he was born and raised in the States - in the Baseball World Cup next spring is the ability to call him a wussy boy for pulling out altogether to avoid such criticism.

  • When liberals invoke God’s name it makes the baby Jesus cry.

  • I hope Mariah Carey does her inevitable Playboy spread before it’s too late and she has to be airbrushed so much she might as well be painted on the pages. Yeah, I’m talking to you, Belinda Carlisle.

  • Last year I noted with mockery that Buster the Bulldog was featured on the home page of the Union cheerleading squad. Thankfully, this year that’s not the case, and we have cuties again! I would especially like to point out Jennifer, a tall drink of water from Jackson. She’s majoring in nursing and also played soccer in high school. *Drool*

  • According to PNC Advisors, the twelve days of Christmas will cost you $18,348.87. I guess it’s hard to find cheap maids-a-milking nowadays.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Mental nourishment

Pack your bags, we’re going on a guilt trip.

I kind of feel like I should be insulted. After all, I’ve just seen The Chronicles of Narnia for a second time, and none of you have done so even once. Does my opinion mean nothing? I thought we really had something here. Tsk, tsk. For shame.

Anyway, I’ll move on. (Lowers eyes from steely glare of contempt).

The second viewing to me was to fit the score that I’ve been listening to for a solid week into scenes of the film. I don’t know why I’ve been addicted to it. Certainly I have been before with Lord of the Rings or Road to Perdition, among a dozen others. Why does Narnia hit the spot? I think because of its feel-goodness. Like the movie, the score is pure, wholesome. Calming. The four vocal songs at the end work the same way.

The second time around, I also became fonder of director Andrew Adamson’s work. I can’t believe this guy’s previous successes were the Shrek animated flicks. The camera shots are most impressive, from the sweeping vistas and set shots from creative angles to close-ups that focus on the big blue eyes of our heroes and cold steely glare of Tilda Swinton’s White Witch.

As much as I loved Goblet of Fire and devote much of my lackadaisical adult life to the series, I may have to put Narnia at the top of the list of my favorite movies of 2005.

So what I’m saying is, I will force my family to see this with me a third time in Miami. Don’t make me threaten you.

Saturday was one of those glorious sports days when I ate nothing but pizza, chicken fingers and buffalo wings. Sunday, after going to the gym, my body was craving actual nourishment. Badly. I stopped at Subway and got a footlong turkey sandwich absolutely loaded with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions and peppers. Daggum that was filling. I love the holidays.

Christmastime in the ATL

Merry Christmas from the CNN Center. Not only is our atrium decked out for the holidays, in the lower right you can see that Santa himself stops by regularly at the behest of Ted.

Of course, Santa still stops by his regular hangout, the mall.

The Cumberland Mall is festive in only the way a mall saying "spend all your money and make us profitable" can.

Nothing says Merry Christmas like twirling fifteen-feet-tall reindeer.

Centennial Olympic Park is full of lights as always.

You can even put on your ice skates and see how firm your butt really is.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not feeling the jolly

The world hates Santa?
CHRISTMAS revellers dressed in Santa outfits were attacked in an ugly incident in Melbourne early yesterday.

The violence erupted after a group of about 20 men taunted the Santa characters in Lygon St about 3.15am. Several shop windows were smashed by chairs thrown during the fracas, but the gang fled before police arrived.

It runs both ways, apparently:
A group of 40 drunken people dressed in Santa Claus outfits went on a rampage through New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, robbing stores, assaulting security guards and urinating from highway overpasses.

Maybe it just takes a while for the goodwill from the North Pole to trickle down under.

(Hat tip: Tim Blair.)

Trailer Park

The Da Vinci Code - When the preview started I rolled my eyes, “oh, great, another religious thriller full of secret societies.” But oh no, it’s the movie based on the bestselling book about Christianity based on a secret society. Which would explain why I never read the book. I’ll end up seeing the movie for Hanks and Audrey Tautou, but not because of the trailer, which was made for people who read the book on the beach this summer and would rather take their religion watered down. The entire trailer screams: “YOU LOVED THIS PART OF THE BOOK! LOOK HOW TOM HANKS WILL DO IT IN THE MOVIE! AWESOME!” (May 19, 2006)

Poseidon - Oh look, a disaster flick based on a previous disaster flick. Where’s the market for this, exactly? Should we look for Airport 2006 next summer, too? Even the filmmakers have apparently decided this will suck, as it won’t even be an adventure this time around.

Glory Road - Josh Lucas was so good in Stealth **cough* he gets two trailers in a row! At least this one doesn’t look half bad. Lucas is the coach of the 1966 Texas Western team that became the first to start five black players, and even upset powerhouse and lily white Kentucky in the NCAA championship. I have hopes that this could be an above-average inspirational sports flick.

Ice Age 2 - The trailer is a different version of what we got in the teaser, the squirrel trying to get his nut, this time by fighting a bunch of toothy fish. We also see that the mammoth gets a love interest voiced by Queen Latifah.

Tristan and Isolde - This costume action/drama set in medieval times is trying to be Romeo and Juliet. Admittedly. There’s even a bit about “before Romeo and Juliet, there was …” Lame.

Cars - The second teaser doesn’t show much more than the first teaser earlier this year. All they want you to know is it’s MADE BY PIXAR. That’s enough for me.

Race and Katrina

Bush hates black people! He let them die after Katrina! Down with whitey!

Um, never mind:
The bodies of New Orleans residents killed by Hurricane Katrina were almost as likely to be recovered from middle-class neighborhoods as from the city's poorer districts, such as the Lower 9th Ward, according to a Times analysis of data released by the state of Louisiana.

The analysis contradicts what swiftly became conventional wisdom in the days after the storm hit — that it was the city's poorest African American residents who bore the brunt of the hurricane. Slightly more than half of the bodies were found in the city's poorer neighborhoods, with the remainder scattered throughout middle-class and even some richer districts.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just don't shock the monkey, if you know what I mean

Need a last-minute "white elephant" gift or something for your buddies to do when drunk and/or high?

I've got a gift that should be a shocking good time.

Loving the season

It’s official. I’m ready to get out of town for Christmas. Of course, I don’t fly out to Miami until Thursday, so I have a few more days to wait.

This morning I cleared off the coffee table, put on some Christmas music and wrapped all of my gifts. I encourage my family not to notice that I ran out of regular tape halfway through and used packing tape for the rest.

Even better than the wrapping is putting them all in a big box, driving to the FedEx shipping center and sending them off to Miami so Dad can put them under the tree before most of us arrive. Next to a big bowl of peanut M&Ms. And a fridge full of Diet Coke.

On the way to FedEx I stopped at Target, which had the last-Saturday-before Christmas feeling, even though next Saturday is Christmas Eve. At least the traffic seemed heavy enough to fit the description.

For some reason, though, all the cuties that normally shop at Target alone were with boyfriends today. What’s up with that? Is it the “desperate for a squeeze during the holidays” syndrome? I’ll check back in mid-January when they’ve broken up with the holiday dates and are ready for Valentine’s Day rebounds.

Back home now, eating pizza, wings and watching the Memphis-Ole Miss basketball game. I expect the Tigers to roll over the Rebels easily. In fact, as I typed that the guys in blue and gray are already up 7-0. Weeeee!

Speaking of college basketball, doesn’t it just seem right to see Memphis and Louisville both ranked in the top five? Even better, currently the Cardinals are getting whipped at Kentucky, so next week the Tigers will surely move ahead of their heated rival. Good times.

In my review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and How Long Is This Title Exactly?, I mentioned that the score was bloody brilliant. So much so that the next day I was frantically searching for the special edition CD + DVD.

No dice at Best Buy. Target? Nada. The music store in the mall only had the contemporary Christian companion album. Finally, at Barnes & Noble I knew it would cost more to purchase but by this time I didn’t give a flying flip, and for $25 it was totally worth it. lists the CD as limited edition, so maybe I should have expected the search to be difficult.

Now the score is in heavy rotation on my iPod, in the car and on iTunes. I’m listening to it right now, in fact. If you want a pirated copy, let me know and I’ll burn you one. You know, so you can buy your own eventually and we’ll all be legally in the clear.

The DVD has half a dozen featurettes on the movie, film and concept art galleries, plus a twelve-minute conversation with the composer, Harry Gregson-William. He’s kind of a weird dude, but it wouldn’t matter if he ate puppies and peed on the White House lawn so long as the product delivers. Yeah, I’ve got standards.

Time to get my own home

Several times I’ve mentioned my noisy neighbors.

Guess what. Across the hall a few more college-aged guys just moved in yesterday and already at this moment their music is so loud and thumping I’m researching what the penalty would be to toss a molatav cocktail inside their open door.


Steven, Patrick, back me up. When we lived out of the dorms on Brooksie Drive our senior year at Union, were we loud and obnoxious? Did Goat Lady next door ever complain?

Crack is whack, yo

Dr. Isadore Rosenfeld of Parade magazine – yeah, that stupid Sunday insert – reveals common medical myths. Among them, cracking your knuckles (or other joints) will give you arthritis. What’s the reality? Survey says:
“Cracking your joints does no damage and, in fact, protects them against arthritis. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that osteoarthritis is more often present in those who never crack their joints (fingers, backs, knees) than in those who do. That may be because cracking a joint reduces the space within it and results, at least temporarily, in a greater range of motion and flexibility.”
I love it when science validates what I thought was a bad habit.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I guess that mockingbird wouldn't sing

An anonymous gift-giver left a $15,000 diamond engagement ring to the owner of an unlocked car in western Massachusetts with a typed note hinting at a broken heart.

Oh sure, leave a diamond ring in the front seat and everyone awwwws, but when they open their door and I’m curled up in the backseat eating sweet ‘n sour sauce left on the floor and crying about missed love, I’m a “creep” and “disturbed.” This is a fracked up world, I tell you what.

Or maybe I'm better off single

Unbelievable. I can't get a date, and guys like this score regularly:
Heather Brennan thought her fiancĂ©, Travis Nickel, was a perfect match – until she learned he fed her rats, was engaged to another woman and had a child from a prior relationship, she alleges in a federal lawsuit.

Her 10-month love affair with Nickel, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard, ended after he left her in July, two weeks before their wedding, she said. Broken-hearted and broke, the jilted bride is seeking $125,000 to recoup cancelled wedding costs and other debts, as well as compensation for the “humiliation and mental anguish” she endured.
Thank goodness women I've been with aren't nearly so crazy. And by "been with," I mean "women I've stared at across the mall and imagined feeding me grapes while I watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy - the extended DVD version."

At least I don't have to worry about getting an email like this anytime soon:
As people seek novel ways to solve problems related to life, in the age of HIV they have yet another way to notify their partners of their condition without disclosing their identity. A website launched by LA county health officials now permits anonymous mailing of e-cards that notifies the recipient of the sexually transmitted diseases they suffer from.

The site jointly developed by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the county health department allows users to choose between six e-cards that can either be sent with a note or anonymously. One card reads: "It's not what you brought to the party, it's what you left with. I left with an STD. You might have, too. Get checked out soon". Another says: "You're too hot to be out of action…I got diagnosed with an STD since we played. You might want to get checked too".
Welcome. You've got mail. And gonorrhea.

Boo fricking hoo

Tiger Woods is skipping the exclusive PGA Tour season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua, Hawaii next month, citing fatigue.

You know, Tiger, that might garner you some sympathy if I hadn't seen you every single weekend on TV during the current "silly season" when tournaments aren't official and players fart around for show and easy money.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Photo goodness

Pictures from last weekend's birthday and Christmas parties in middle Tennessee are now posted!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jeff's review of King Kong

I don’t really have time to form a sensible narrative to review the new King Kong movie today – the day of its release – so I’ll string together a bunch of points without an outline and we’ll see how it goes. OK? Great.

What does the 500-ton gorilla flick of the Christmas movie season get to do? Anything it pleases. Including, go on for over three hours. ‘Cause Peter Jackson can. He developed the rep as the Oscar-winning director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and now he’s the 500-pound gorilla of Hollywood. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Does this remake need to be three hours? No. Not really. For one, I think there were really big spiders. I say “think” because I’m pretty sure I saw a few dozen legs emerge from the dark at the same time I realized I really, really had to use the little boys room.

Naomi Watts is a knockout. Screw Kong, SHE is the eighth wonder of the world. Even rated as Movie Star Gorgeous she’s near the top. She could really tame my beast, if you know what I mean. (And when you stop vomiting at the thought of that you’ll understand.)

Jackson is an artist. His work should run in a museum. Project a screen from the back and put it on the wall between the statue of David and the Mona Lisa. The way he works camera angles, frames scenery and colors the screen to set a mood is downright miraculous.

You might be surprised, then, to find out that I’m not going to give this movie even four out of five stars. Three-and-a-half is the best I could do on my scale.

Amid one of the greatest eras of film (in my humble opinion), the epics are as good as the indie weepers. But the difference with the best of the lot like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and even the new release The Chronicles of Narnia is their ability to make the audience wide-eyed with “I haven’t seen that before” scenes. King Kong doesn’t have that gift. For one, it’s been remade before, and that’s after the original is seen as a classic of Hollywood cinema. Also, none of the effects can truly amaze. We’ve seen a giant ape, we’ve checked well-made computer-created dinosaurs before.

The effects, though, are brilliant. I had no problem immersing myself in that world and believing every second. Well, maybe not. There was one time when the brontosauruses are on a cliff stumbling among people, and I actually thought, “that guy looks fake.” Not the dinosaurs. The man. Another time when Kong is fighting three T-Rexes among really long and thick vines it got a bit silly as he managed to keep hold of Watts.

The score is invisible. I don’t know why Jackson parted ways with LOTR composer Howard Shore in the middle of this picture, but replacement James Newton Howard’s mix isn’t nearly as weighty as one would expect. The main theme was reminiscent of The High and the Mighty (starring Duke, now a special-edition DVD!), which won an Oscar for the music.

If you want suspense you’ll like King Kong. Jackson builds it and builds it and has you squirming when all that is happening is Watts getting on the daggum boat out of New York.

Someone needs to enact a hate crime measure on Skull Island. Why the freaky ass natives gotta sacrifice the white woman?

Getting carried by a ginormous ape that is running through a primitive jungle has to cause some hella whiplash. The computer-effects of Kong handling Watts isn’t perfect with these scenes, either.

The ship captain reminds me of the cargo captain in Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s a wee bit sketchy and you’re not sure if you can trust him, but you want him on your side when the fit hits the shan.

Yeah, I may have covered my eyes a bit during the big creepy crawly scenes, but if you’re scared of heights you’d better do the same lest you be nauseous when the big ape is on on the Empire State Building. Let’s just say that he isn’t going to be meeting anyone from Seattle on top.

Oscar winner and Halle smoocher Adrien Brody, or A-Bro as I like to call him (this once, I mean), doesn’t have much to do. He reacts mostly to events, events caused by Jack Black, as a matter of fact. Now he’s just downright reckless and manipulative. He’s an ass is all I’m saying.

How did Black come across the map to Skull Island? How did they fit Kong in that boat for a trip home that had to take several weeks?

I realized a few scenes in the trailers that did not make it into the film, even though said film is three hours long. So it was good enough to entice us, but not good enough to fit? Even so, maybe it was for the best, because the trailer emphasized style over substance, when the story is what sells the drama.

Kong is definitely a male in love, no matter the difference in species. Only a guy could be so infatuated as to not realize that the woman he cares for is the reason for all of his pain. Every time he’s with her someone or something is trying to kill him. By the time we’re ready to leave Skull Island we feel a lot more sympathy for Kong than any of the men. We’ve all been there, you big lug.

The best parts of Kong were between Watts and Kong. They were downright tender, even. The rest of the action? Meh. Like I said, seen it before. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Watts could garner a nomination or two for best actress from an awards show or two.

So what am I saying? Maybe Pete Jackson could do a 180 and helm a Jane Austen adaptation. Heck, even I’d venture to see that if only out of curiosity.

In the meantime, it’s very doubtful I’ll see King Kong in theaters again. I won’t buy the DVD, and I’ll catch it on cable only during scenes that do not involve giant bugs. The film is well done and looks marvelous, but it’s just not what I’m looking for at the moment. It’s not you, Pete, it’s me. I’m sorry.

Ya tebya liubliu (I swear!)

Guess I won’t be looking to Belarus during my inevitable search for a Russian bride:
Belarusian lawmakers on Wednesday passed legislation that would crack down on Internet dating and online spouse searches in the latest of a series of stringent government controls backed by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Authorities said the measure, which was passed 101-1 by the subservient lower house of parliament, was intended to help halt human trafficking in the ex-Soviet nation.

The legislation would place new restrictions on organizations that promote dating or that help match potential suitors with spouses, particularly via the Internet.

The bill also would require Belarusian students seeking to study abroad to receive written permission from the Ministry of Education, if the study is longer than 30 days. Foreign companies seeking to hire Belarusian students for summer jobs also would need ministry approval.

No worries. At least is still running!

Anybody but the Weavers

Thank goodness gracious, the Weavers didn't win this season's Amazing Race. And it wasn't even close by the end, with the Bransen girls and their father coming in second to the Linz brothers and sister Megan.

I'll bet the other teams were REALLY excited not to have to clap for the Weavers if they had come in first. I know I got tingles. And the Linzes were actually the most fun team to watch this year, had the most fun during the race and Megan grew the most as a competitor by proving to her brothers that she was as tough as they are, so it's well deserved.

Does anyone else wish we could have seen Ma Weaver try to put together the geography puzzle near the end? Remember, this is the woman who thought Lake Pontchartrain is one of the Great Lakes. It might have been fun trying to watch her fit Wyoming into New England or Tennessee in the southwest, while her kids scoff behind her, "yeah, that's an ugly state, I feel sorry for those people who are beneath us as really holy Christians." As one of the forum posters on Television Without Pity put it: "Proof that if you bug God enough, eventually He'll block your calls."

Next season starts in February, with two teams of eleven again, and they leave the Americas. Yipee!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia film review

Like the Lord of the Rings and even the first couple of Harry Potter films, I haven’t read The Chronicles of Narnia and knew little to nothing about it going in the theater. I was sure to find a lion, a witch and for some reason a place for clothing, but that’s it. But you probably knew that already. It’s a pattern we’ve established.

I’m tellin’ ya, just as soon as there’s a big-screen version of “Ribsy” or “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret,” I’m totally there. Can you imagine everyone on the edge of their seat, anticipating the “must increase my bust” scene? We’ll go bonkers.

Perhaps I’ve said too much. Note to self: Stop telling personal stories one sentence earlier.

About the only thing I had heard about The Chronicles was the buzz from Christian groups looking for an allegory relating the C.S. Lewis adaptation with Jesus, desperately trying to cling to any mainstream movie that might entertain the masses and doesn’t star Kirk Cameron.

I wouldn’t know. My brother Scott is the one who likes to draw parallels between movies and religious iconography, not me. When I stare at clouds I see a doggy and a bunny rabbit playing in the snow. He sees John Locke writing a treatise on the reasonableness of Christianity. We each have our talents.

If you’re likewise ignorant of the world of Narnia, let me provide some background. The setting is the Battle of Britain, with German bombs raining down on English cities and its citizens. Four siblings – two girls and two boys – are packed up and sent to the country for safety at the elegant home of a reclusive professor and his housekeeper who isn’t exactly the warmest disciplinarian.

During their attempts to entertain themselves, they stumble upon a wardrobe whereupon they can enter into coats and exit into another world, one filled with mythical creatures big and small, good and evil, and where animals communicate in our language, such as a pair of sassy beavers and a fox right out of the Three Musketeers.

This is the kind of movie, then, that couldn’t be made until now using modern computer effects that are pretty bloody brilliant. In fact, I’m convinced that the youngest girl, Lucy, is a special effect, for she is impossibly adorable.

Once in Narnia, the kids learn that as “daughters of Eve” and “sons of Adam,” they’re the only humans around and it just so happens that their arrival fits snuggly with a prophecy that says they’ll save that world from the White Witch (Tilda Swinton).

That’s a voluminous amount of story and the movie does well to fit it all in under three hours. Even then the movie feels hurried along sometimes, and therein is my only regret with the picture. I wanted to know more about the creatures fighting for good and their nemeses under the witch’s banner. I wanted to see how the kids matured into good fighters with the help of weapons provided by Father Christmas himself. (Don’t worry, it all works, and frankly, I wish St. Nick would give me a cool sword or a bow-and-arrow that’s always true to the target. Not that I’m not perfectly happy with an extra set of golf balls and a DVD or two.)

The suspense of the movie can also feel watered down at times, since you know that the filmmakers aren't going to kill off kids and none of them is in any real danger.

Contributing to the positive, the score was important to the lasting adoration I have of the LOTR and Potter films, and in Narnia the soundtrack works equally well. The composition is never overwhelming and the vocal slices aren’t distracting. It flows from one scene to the next flawlessly, and I plan on purchasing the score as soon as I can get to Best Buy. (The CNN Center already has a hotel, a dozen restaurants, a sunglass hut, three retail stores and a Waldenbooks, so where’s the music store? Huh?)

The ultimate battle is certainly unlike any you’ve ever seen on film. Unless, that is, you’re used to seeing centaurs face off against minotaurs, or cheetahs running full speed at snarling tigers, or giant birds dropping boulders from their talons (obviously not European swallows, who would need a string tied between them and … I’m off the subject again).

Getting to the Jesus stuff, for much of the movie I’m thinking, “yeah, this could be seen as a Christian metaphor, though mostly it feels like a World War II allegory, what with the secret police and Aslan the lion returning to free the people of Narnia with a large armed force behind him.”

And then comes one scene that’s almost unmistakable if you’ve ever heard of Jesus, even if he only helps you hit a curve ball, and you can’t help but go, “Oh, okay, yeah, that’s totally a Jesus thing,” albeit it framed in an imaginative adventure filled with creatures from fables.

I really didn’t want to go into the movie thinking of it as a Christian parable, wanting to be entertained by the film’s story as a whole, and I left the same way. Sure there’s the Jesus scene and the Judas-esque talk of a traitor seduced by the dark side, but overall don’t feel like you’re being moralized to if you’d rather not be. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Okay, over-moralizing is often annoying in a movie, but mostly such moralizing is coming from the left-wingers in Hollywood with oil=bad/retribution=bad films like Syriana and Munich who yet still feel oppressed by the mere suggestion that churches are using Narnia as a Sunday school lesson. I would also expect PETA to moralize all over Narnia for the fur coats worn throughout much of the first half.

I don’t mean to say that Christians are latching on to this movie without reason, either. After all, Disney was all for a contemporary Christian album released to coincide with the movie and its themes.

Either way, what I’m trying to say (though not well), is that Narnia is a worthy addition to the recent spate of fantastical special effects-laden epics with hearts of gold. The weighty story should still charm the little ones as well as adults who have held on to a childlike imagination.

A.M., P.M., it's all the same right now

My body will absolutely not stand for going to bed early and waking up before dawn, like how your body rejects donated organs of a different blood type.

I’m working the 5a to 1p shift today through Friday, and put myself to bed by 7 last night, read and then fell asleep a little after 8.

At 10:30 my eyes opened, and that was it. My body was awake. Perhaps it figured I was merely taking a nap before my usual late-night stirring on the computer or watching Conan O’Brien, because at 3 I started feeling the heavy eyelids of doom.

Wonderful. Only ten more hours until I’m off work and can come home to crash. What really worried me was that I was chugging caffeine to induce a false sense of being awake, knowing full well that my first show meant sitting in the chair in front of the switcher with no chance of getting up from 5:45 until 8, or about the length of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Without the magic, no less, unless you count my nimble fingers playing the switcher like a piano to squeeze out every bit of video and effects possible. Forget Esteban, my hands are a gift from God! (Cue lightning bolt, thunder.)

Somehow my bladder managed, and I’m eating a ham and cheese omelet for “breakfast.” In reality it’s my dinner, since I had Uncle Ben’s teriyaki & rice at 11 and a turkey pot pie at 4 before coming to work. I. Am. Spent. (Not because of the pot pie, though. Yummmmm.)

No time to doze on my downtime, either, since I need to finish my review of The Chronicles of Narnia, and I managed to get a couple of pages of pictures captioned from this weekend, but that means I have six more pages to go. Stand by for several pages of rambling, incoherent drivel! (As opposed to, say, this, I guess.)

Monday, December 12, 2005

Breaths of fresh air

I started wheezing Saturday evening. It’s not important why. Maybe transferred dog hair from visitors, maybe a food allergy, even from a skeeter on my peter, though most likely just ‘cause. When I went down to my car and realized my inhaler wasn’t in there and wasn’t with my luggage back at the house, a slight panic starts setting in. For non-asthmatics you might not understand, but hours of wheezing is not fun. Taking a deep breath becomes a gift from God, even more so than a big plate of nachos with cheese and chicken smothered on top.

I wheezed all night, and as soon as I woke up drove to the only grocery store in Chapel Hill, Rex’s Foodland. No over-the-counter inhalers on the pharmaceutical shelf, so I asked behind the customer service counter if there were any elsewhere. Yep, she said, behind the counter in a drawer. Great, we're in business, right?

Not so much.

Turns out there was a box of Primatene Mist, but it had been taped up despite being empty. Ugh. I’m feeling like Charlie Brown falling on his back after Lucy pulled the football away. But hey, at least there were two refills, right? Not if there’s no inhaler, it doesn’t matter. Nothing at the Shell station, either, and the local pharmacy is closed Sunday mornings. Seriously, folks, breathing is a serious matter. Some would say it’s vital to living.

I sat at Mom’s for a couple of hours trying not to pay attention to the lack of clear breathing until Granddad and Mom-Mom got home from church. She’s got asthma, too, and a nebulizer because they stay prepared. (I would totally suck as a Boy Scout.)

So Granddad hooked it up to Mom-Mom’s oxygen tank. I mean, one of them, not the one she was using, since that wouldn't be right, now would it? He then poured that sweet, sweet albuterol in the bottle that mists into my lungs and I sucked on that puppy until I could breathe air from Lewisburg. You know it’s working because all the oxygen makes your brain woozy.

Note to self: Don’t forget inhaler when flying to Miami in 10 days. If so, be thankful there are ten grocery and retail stores within five minutes.

The Chronicles of Vacation Boy

I’m off today (yeah, yeah, what’s new Vacation Boy – although today is due to a trade after covering a co-worker a few Fridays past, so nah). Still, I can’t frolic all night seeing as how the rest of the week I’m working the 5a-1p shift, so it’s early to bed, early to rise for me.

I did find time to see a matinee of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and can tell you that my review will say the film is pretty bloody brilliant.

Unfortunately, the review may be a day in coming, since I’m still putting together all my pictures from this weekend’s birthday/Christmas parties. Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Skeeter on my peter

This is for cousin Karla, the lyrics she requested:

Theres a skeeter on my peter flick it off,
There’s a skeeter on my peter flick it off, flick it off,
There’s a dozen on my cousin,
You can hear them suckers buzzing,
There’s a skeeter on my peter flick it off!


There's a skeeter on my peter, whack it off
There's a skeeter on my peter, whack it off
There's a dozen on my cousin
You can hear the bastards buzzin'
There's a skeeter on my peter, whack it off!

Don’t forget your shirt to go with that one.

This last version, however, is nearer to the original, if only because it comes with a country-sounding download:

There's a skeeter on my peter, sweet Marie
There's another on my brother -- can't you see?
There's a dozen on my cousin
Can't you hear them bastards buzzing?
There's a skeeter on my peter, sweet Marie.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Walk the Line

A couple of years ago I decided I need to own more albums by artists who transcend genres and decades. My first choice? Johnny Cash.

The Man in Black was a virtuoso at turning a story into song. The lyrics mean something, not like the pop tripe about holding hands or letting it be (kidding, I love the Beatles).

One has to wonder what he would think of a film about his own story? More than he gets here, unfortunately.

Don’t get me wrong; Walk the Line is a fine film and a strong story of Johnny Cash’s life (at least up until he and June get married), but ultimately it’s the same format of every E! “True Hollywood Story.”

Think about it. John is raised on a poor farm [incidentally, my Mom-Mom (Mom’s Mom) knew Cash when she also lived for a while as a young’un in Dyess, Arkansas, and her brother Joe was good friends with J.R., as he was known there. She also says he was snotty once he got famous].

Anyway, so he’s born to a poor family and a verbally abusive drunk father, his older brother dies young and John can’t live in his shadow (at least to his father), in the same way Denethor told Faromir that he should have died instead of Baromir in The Return of the King. He then joins the Army, learns music on his own, raises his poor family trying to make his mark in the music world, gets a chance, becomes wildly famous, is introduced to drugs, ends up strung out and cheating on his wife, hits rock bottom, climbs his way back out with the help of the woman who would become the wife of his dreams and they live happily ever after.

End of story. Stay tuned for “The Soup,” next on E!

Obviously, of course, Walk the Line is one thousand times superior and more dramatic than that, because we’re not talking about the make-up artist for Gwar but a bona fide music legend.

I just wanted to show how typical the story ends up being, a basic Hollywood formula we’ve seen a million times before. I’m sure there is fudging with timelines and people, but we accept that as a film necessity.

What jumps to mind immediately are inevitable comparisons to Ray, especially since critics will connect more with Ray Charles’ bio-pic because it premiered a year earlier.

That would be most unfair, if only that it downplays the brilliant performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, both of whom absolutely own the Man in Black and the future Mrs. Cash.

June is a peppy singer, a real showman who grew up famous in a singing family. Reese’s June’s got sass, a colorful personality and a big heart. Johnny sings some real downers, but also from his heart, which is a darker place, evidently.

How do they make it work, then? I hear that love, is a burning flame. It burns, burns, burns, in fact.

And Walk the Line is on fire from the start. Like I said, just because it’s formulaic doesn’t mean the film doesn’t deliver the emotional cargo to grab a nomination or two come Oscar time.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Merry Grrr-mas

Nothing says “in the Christmas spirit” like yelling at left-lane hogs to “get the *&*#@# out of the way!” Newsweek goes so far as to call it the Mean Season. Sadly, I’m not immune.

Let’s take Thursday evening. Between the biting cold and rain, I stayed home all day. About 5 o’clock the next door neighbor started blaring music, or a movie, or whatever. I figured whatever, after a few songs they’ll shut it off. An hour-and-a-half later, I had to do something, so I ventured outside and knocked on the door. When this guy answers, my arms are folded and I blurt out, “Dude, it sounds like a train is rumbling by my walls.” He gives this incredulous “are you serious look,” says he’ll turn the volume down and I just sneer a “I appreciate it.”

This morning on my way out of town I scribbled a note that said “Sorry I was a dick last night. I should have been more diplomatic in asking you to turn down the volume (or at least the bass). Your neighbor in 914, Jeff.”

So either he cried tears of gratitude at my note or he thinks I’m both a dick and a [slang word for female genitalia].

Then, today, the drive to Chapel Hill. Ah, yes, the holiday drive full of coughCheerfulcough travelers and eighteen-wheelers passing each other at 55 mph (the guy in the right lane is driving 54).

I have a feeling I’ll be yelling the same things out of my AirTran window on the tarmac of Atlanta International Airport when I fly to Miami in a couple of weeks. Some of which may get me shot by the federal marshal on board.

And yet, I’ve been in the Christmas mood lately. Really.

The last several years I would tune past holiday music and think, “bah humbug.” Not lately. I’ve found myself stopping at one of five XM Radio Christmas channels full of goodies featuring classics, country, classical, modern and a mix. I downloaded Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy Charlie Brown Christmas album, even.

So yeah, dangit, I’m brimming with holiday cheer, but don’t annoy me or get in my fargin’ way!!!!!!

Wednesday was an on-call day, and I wasn’t called in, so I finally saw Walk the Line (review pending) and got a haircut.

As always, any time a woman services me for money, I have to develop a crush on her. This time was no different.

We met Jennifer, someone I hadn’t seen before at Great Clips. She was cute in that short-and-stacked kind of way, and you know I’m a sucker for long straight blonde hair. Half of my restraining orders are from women with the same description.

While she was cutting my hair we were enjoying jovial conversation. I was on my game, meaning she wasn't stripping skin of the back of my neck or poking me in the eye with her scissors "by accident."

As a transplanted New Yawker, she went to Augusta with a friend for an old-fashioned Southern Thanksgiving dinner, and couldn’t believe how bland it was. I told her I'd force my Granddad to make her one of his pecan pies, and all the while she’s cutting my hair she’s brushing up against me and I’m thinking, “Score!”

As always, the relationship ends at the register. She has to charge me for the privilege of our experience, and I tip her, so that makes a relationship all too awkward based on a consumer transaction. Bye Jennifer, hope you’re still there in a month when I return.

And I know what y’all are thinking. Her names Jennifer – starts with a J – so why didn’t I propose on the spot? Okay, I know that so many friends and siblings have spouses with J names, but I’m still convinced that since my name starts with J that I’m not automatically obligated to marry a J. We’ll see.

Although, maybe I’ll need a touch-up next week before flying to Miami for Christmas.

I promise not to yell at her if she says "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas."

On the road again

I'm leaving for Chapel Hill in another hour or so. The rain has passed and the icy roads have had time to clear, and oh yeah, I was going to sleep ten hours anyway.

Should be a big weekend. My sisters and cousins are in town, seeing as how we'll be celebrating the birthdays of Gavin (fourth birthday), Evie (1st birthday) and Nate (1st birthday), plus exchanging Christmas presents with all of them (don't forget Gabriel (6 yrs old), A.J. (18 mos.) and Caleb (3 mos.) since the Rushings will be in Miami for the holiday. Good times.

Hopefully I'll report from Mom's computer. I've got a review of Walk the Line to finish, between the cake, ice cream and attention-grabbing happy children.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Thursday linkage

  • The World Wildlife Fund says it has discovered a new species of carnivore on Borneo. Tragically, other researchers later discovered that it “tastes like chicken.”

  • What are the odds that a witch's name is Pagan?

  • Things must be bleak under the golden arches. Ronald MacDonald was found stealing from Wendy's. When interrogated later he said, "What would you do, take money from a pigtailed redhead or that freaky king who lurks outside bedrooms?"

  • A Christmas card printed in 1843 sold this weekend at auction for $16,000. So remember this year to save my classy card of reindeer farting and Santa drunk, and in 150 years our ancestors can cash in! Cha-ching!

  • A Toronto man has been acquitted of sexual assault charges, as medical officials said he was asleep at the time, with a disorder known as "sexsomnia," or what is now known as The Default Defense Argument For Every Man In The World.


Tim blogs that a number of churches have decided to forego services on Sunday Dec. 25 this year because … it’s Christmas day.

Let me be frank. Whaaaaaaaaaaa??????????

That is flat out the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Isn’t that Christians taking the Christ out of Christmas?

What’s next, canceling services on Easter because it interferes with egg hunts and chocolate feasts?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A cinematic '06

The official 2006 calendar of Thanks For Noticing Me is … (drum roll) … Classic movie posters, put together by the Museum of Modern Art (but purchased at Border's).

The movies represented are:

January - Anatomy of a Murder
February - The Wizard of Oz
March - Ben-Hur
April - North by Northwest
May - Singin’ in the Rain
June - West Side Story
July - The Maltese Falcon
August - Easy Rider
September - City Lights
October - Breakfast at Tiffany’s
November - Metropolis
December - It’s a Wonderful Life

However, I may need to make 2006 a two-fer and find a place for the Golf Channel’s Big Break V: Hawaii 2006 Calendar. Scantily-clad golf babes for 12 months? Be still my lustful heart.

Losing its prized place on my kitchen wall is a calendar of Norman Rockwell paintings. Thanks a bunch and fare thee well, Mr. Rockwell; 2005 was a fine year.

I love it?

Courtesy, the Top Ten things you "could" say about a Christmas gift you just don’t like:

10. Hey! There's a gift!

9. Well, well, well ...

8. Boy, if I had not recently shot up 4 sizes that would've fit.

7. This is perfect for wearing around the basement.

6. Wow, this is a hot gift. I hope this never catches fire! It is fire season though. There are lots of unexplained fires.

5. If the dog buries it, I'll be furious!

4. I love it -- but I fear the jealousy it will inspire.

3. Sadly, tomorrow I enter the Federal Witness Protection Program.

2. To think -- I got this the year I vowed to give all my gifts to charity.

1. "I really don't deserve this."

Dodgers soon to be blue

Despite the appearance of improving this offseason by signing Rafael Furcal, the Brooklyn L.A. Dodgers are in no way serious about competing in 2006 after hiring Grady Little as their manager.

The over/under of jokes by me and every other Red Sox fan made at his expense as he keeps starting pitchers in games too long and is reminded of October 2003 is set at 25.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Carnival of the Jeffies

A quick tour of recent posts by my family, friends and frequent visitors …

- Scott is cheesed off about the resurgence of slacker undergrads in the library that he would rather be quiet, empty and yet I’m sure filled with all kinds of babes that he can’t admit staring at to the detriment of his studies. Or that was me. (By the way, can you believe that “cheesed off” was in the Microsoft Office 2003 thesaurus?)

- I adored Stacy’s post about five minutes in the life of Nate. So much activity and passion for life, as opposed to five minutes of my life at home: “Sitting at computer. . . Takes handful of popcorn. Reaches down to pick up three kernels that fell. Grabs toothpick to get rest out of teeth. … Drinks a glass of Diet Coke. … Clicks to another website. …” You get the idea.

- Apparently Stephanie is still shopping, ‘cause she’s been absent for over a week.

- Steve links to a post of a guy curing himself of a sex addiction. Wait, you mean some people don’t have sex by choice?

- Kimberly’s excited about the Christmas season, but that doesn’t mean her crackwhore neighbor shouldn’t have a terrible reindeer accident.

- While I’m avoiding serious movies and seeing the new Harry Potter three times, for instance, Jenn M. is watching films about gender transformation and AIDS. Surprisingly, neither features flying horses or fire-breathing dragons. To each their own.

- Julie is enjoying the smell of her first real tree. I look forward to her Dec. 26 post, “Where’d all these needles come from, and why won’t the vacuum pick them up?”

- Tim’s explaining why he doesn’t listen to contemporary Christian music as much as he used to. I tune into Christian stations rarely, though every once in a while I’ll stop on one such channel on XM Radio, and have several albums on my iPod. I don’t think there’s any quality to contemporary Christian anymore, and the stuff from the 80s and 90s that I used to love now sounds outdated. Realizing many of the artists were cheating on their spouses and had seemingly no connection to their music didn’t help, either. (Wait, where’s the joke? Oh well.)

- It’s parental bliss for new mommy and daddy Leah and Eric after two weeks, already such professionals that they’re throwing out terms like “Ferber method” and “clean diaper.”. Don’t forget the requisite cute photo with Santa!

- Fellow Atlantan Mark, however, is commending the virtues and sound of local band done good Third Day. Of course, Mark also used “Jimmy Carter” and “cool” in the same paragraph, so take his recommendation with a grain of salt, in my opinion.

- Semaj posts the mug shots of the two “Lost” stars charged with DUI, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros. Yikes. And you thought Lostzilla was scary.

The bus to Blameville

"New Orleans" "mayor" (as much as either really exists) Ray Nagin was in Atlanta this weekend to urge evacuees to return home. At first, his pleas seemed innocent, like he was advocating a big round-up of citizens to party with gumbo at his place:
We're going to pick a date, and we're going to hire buses and we're going to come pick folks up, and we're going to go build a levee system.

One sentence later, however, he decided that wasn't good enough:
We're going to build a levee around the White House.
Really, Ray, is that the best use of your resources? Besides, all those buses you didn't use to evacuate people before Katrina in the first place are now water logged, so what's the plan now?

Danger: Southerner driving on ice

Mark the time: 2 a.m. Tuesday Dec. 6, the first time this winter that I had to scrape off the windshield because of freezing cold on top of rain.

Mark the time: 2:04 a.m. – The annual "can’t find the ice scraper in my car, so I resign myself to sitting in the front seat with the heat on full blast waiting for the window to defrost enough to drive away with that 'peeking between the ice and the dashboard' sideways slant that’s entirely dangerous but who cares since it’s 2 o’clock in the fargin’ morning?"

Monday, December 05, 2005

Worst. Nativity. Ever.

And lo, Jesus was born on a table on a porch.

(Hat tip: Tim Blair.)

Dean Scream

Howard Dean says what the other Democrats won't admit to thinking: US Won't Win in Iraq:
Saying the "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong," Democrat National Chairman Howard Dean predicted today that the Democrat Party will come together on a proposal to withdraw National Guard and Reserve troops immediately, and all US forces within two years.
But hey, he supports our troops and their sacrifices, right?
"I've seen this before in my life. This is the same situation we had in Vietnam. Everybody then kept saying, 'just another year, just stay the course, we'll have a victory.' Well, we didn't have a victory, and this policy cost the lives of an additional 25,000 troops because we were too stubborn to recognize what was happening."
OK, maybe not. At best we can hope the Dems aren't spitting on returning soldiers and calling them baby killers.

Again, I say, maybe not. Check out what John Kerry had to say this weekend:
And there is no reason, Bob, that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the--of--the historical customs, religious customs. Whether you like it or not-- ...
Back to Howard the Suck:
Dean also compared the controversy over pre-war intelligence to the Watergate scandal which brought down Richard Nixon's presidency in 1974.
Yep, to the left-wingers, every year should be 1974. You know, the good old days when the U.S. was humiliated in the eyes of the world watching Vietnam, and Republicans were backpedaling. Nothing says "don't question our patriotism" like rooting for the U.S. to fail in order to gain partisan advantage.

My nightmare

Saturday night I did what might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done on a computer. Dumber than every time I've ever wondered, "how do the Adult Sex Friend Finder advertisements know I live in Atlanta?"

So I’m clicking around the Internet without a care, when suddenly I open a site I visit all the time, only now my little arrow freezes. I immediately figure there was some graphic-heavy ad slowing the site down and close out the window ASAP.

That didn’t work. And the mouse was more difficult to manage than Tom Cruise at a psychiatry convention.

I turned off the computer.

Rebooted, still nada. Aw, crap. Must be infected with some spyware or virus, right? Dangit. No, I’m not panicking? Me, panic? Never! Stop thinking that! I’m going to stop writing! Back off! I’ll do it, I swear! Don’t make me threaten again! Stand back! I mean it! Here I go!

So anyway, I reboot again, and click on F10 during the rebooting to open System Restore. Um, no dummy, you just opened System Recovery, and the hard drive is being reformatted, erasing just about everything I’ve ever done on this computer. Son of a *$#$%. And you can’t just stop the Recovery and change your mind. Oh no, once that sucker’s fired up, you have to let it go, like Rosie O'Donnell at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

About thirty seconds into the process I nearly choked on my caramel popcorn. Or was it butter? Or cheese? I forget which side of the three-sided tin I was grubbing. (The can has a Star Wars design! Because I hope to never have sex again!)

Anyway, what happened is, I realized I forgot to check the simplest fix possible: Check the batteries on my new wireless optical mouse. Yep, something even more obvious than every joke on "American Dad."

Sigh. I’m irritated just thinking about it.

Yes, that was the problem. The batteries in the mouse ran out, and as a result I was reformatting the hard drive, the equivalent of hearing a knock in your engine, taking apart the entire car and finding out the problem was an acorn under the hood rattling on top of the battery.

Not only that, but I didn’t reformat correctly. I used Standard instead of Full, in which I had to load the 12 recovery discs I created three weeks ago. So I had to re-reformat. (Actually, I accidentally hit Standard again the second time, and had to re-re-reformat for Full recovery. Me=Moron.)

I did that last format tonight. A five minute mistake took a couple of hours to load the recovery discs, and even longer to load software, and will take a week to reload all of my CDs onto iTunes. I have to start over with my family tree software from scratch and execute the tedious task of adding all of my bookmarks.

I also can’t find the backup files to all of my travelogues, essays, blog posts and movie reviews. No telling how much valuable time that will … yeah, right. If by "valuable" I mean watching the same “Family Guy” episode for the eleventy-first time.

In no way will I look back on this and laugh. It’s not funny ha-ha. It’s humiliating. Degrading. Dirty. Like Schindler’s List, only less funny. Good thing no one will ever know.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Please touch/don't touch the art

An art exhibit in Miami encourages visitors to lick the art. Surprisingly, Mona Lisa tastes better than The Birth of Venus.

Meanwhile, in France, women are being asked to stop rubbing and kissing the groin area of a statue of a 19th Century journalist. Thank goodness there aren’t any laws here forbidding the same done to mannequins at Macy’s, whose “women” are so much more attractive than the blue collar Sears’ models.

(Yep, we’re hitting new lows here at Thanks For Noticing Me. Stay classy, and thanks for stopping by!)

M is for Memphis

No one knows how to make Memphians feel good about the Tigers like Commercial Appeal columnist Geoff Calkins. I wish I could have written a story like that.

(If link requires registration, use

How much is Jesus worth?

A coin depicting Jesus was recently discovered in excavations of Tiberias, Israel. It is belived that the coin was issued in Istanbul in honor of the first millennium.

In other words, it's their version of the John Wayne commemorative plate. See, just like the Franklin Mint ads promise, these things do appreciate in value!

Saturday, December 03, 2005


You might remember a month ago I took my darling Aztek to the car doctor for an oil change and to fix the ignition relay.

Today I received a letter from the service department that bordered on threatening. Check it out (emphasis is theirs):
Thank you for choosing Lou Sobh Automotive for all of your automotive needs. You may receive a Service Survey from General Motors regarding your most recent service visit. This survey is to grade us on our level of service we provide to our customers. This survey is very important to our Service Department. We are graded On [sic] all questions, but mainly on question #16, It [sic] reads BASED ON THIS SERVICE VISIT, OVERALL HOW SATISFIED ARE YOU WITH LOU SOBH AUTOMOTIVE. We strive for our customers to be able to answer this question as COMPLETEY SATISFIED, This [sic] does not mean that we were perfect, but we treated you in a professional and courteous manner and we repaired your vehicle to your satisfaction. If for some reason you do not answer the questions as COMPLETE SATISFIED Then [sic] G.M. scores us a zero. It for any reason you are not able to give us COMPLETELY SATISFIED, please contact me directly at either phone # listed below before you return Your [sic] survey. I appreciate your business and please take the time to fill out the survey Because [sic] this is very important to our Dealership.
!!!!!! My #1 goal is COMPLETE CUSTOMER SATISFACTION !!!!!!

Does anyone else get the feeling I had better answer correctly lest I get fitted for cement shoes?


  • And the winner for First Christmas Card Received Of The Season goes to … (drum roll) … Oxford Jenn! Congratulations, Jennifer and thanks for your support!

  • I remain nonplussed that there is a period of celebration (?) of World AIDS Day. I don’t get a parade that announces, “Hey, look at us! We neglected safe sex, monogamy and clean needles! Hooray!”

  • In December’s Lark News: Teens ditch inauthentic friend
    Three college-age friends have stopped hanging out with a fourth friend who quit relating to them in a genuine way, they say.

    "He wasn't letting his heart out," says one friend. "He was obviously going through stuff he wasn't sharing with us."

  • The Atlanta paper started running this increasingly popular daily puzzle called Sudoku, and warned it can be addictive. They were correct. I. Must. Fill. The. Boxes. Or. Can’t. Go. To. Bed.

  • Headline of the Day: N.Korea ready to scrap nuclear plans for better ties: envoy. Heck, in that case, throw in a sweater, too!

  • I’m guessing you have to possess a healthy sense of humor to work at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

  • Remember the movie theaters of your childhood? Check this site and see if it made the list. (And no, fellow native Memphians, the Paris theater did not make the list. Tsk, tsk.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

The F word

Not quite an inspirational Friday for the Jeffmeister. I went to the mall for a spell, enjoying all that is K*B Toys and had lunch at Cracker Barrel, or The Barrel as we true Southerners call it. (Or we should. Can we start that, and credit me?)

Next, a flick. Yeah, I could have finally seen Walk the Line or the critically acclaimed Capote, but I haven’t been in the mood for melancholy lately and went for Just Friends instead. Besides, while the first two are biographies, the latter is more like my autobiography.

You think you know “friends”? I’m the frickin’ mayor of Friendtown.

For instance, you might have seen below where I went to the Georgia Aquarium (the LARGEST indoor aquarium on the planet, by the way). I walk outside to see the seal exhibit, and when I walk up to the rail I find out a really cute aquarium employee is stationed there to make sure people don’t jump in and swim with the seals (as if, it’s 45 degrees!) and provide some info.

We end up in a conversation, since I’m the only one out there (remember, 45 degrees, and windy), and I’m feeling good, totally working my mojo. Y’all would have been proud. I wasn’t missing a beat. Turns out she’s a recent Auburn grad, and yadda yadda yadda adorable and spunky and oh-dear-God-can-I-go-out-with-her?

No. After a few minutes she throws out the Boyfriend Card. Very casually, too, to her credit.

When the Boyfriend Card is tossed on top of the pile it changes everything, and the conversation becomes a foregone conclusion of doom. It’s essentially over because I know that she knows that I know that she knows, etc. We both knew I was hitting on her, and she figured out that she had better temper my eagerness but not just come right out and say, “Look, I’m dating someone else, so don’t even think about it. Oh, and you’re fat and smell like a stingray. Next time it’s okay to pet them, but don’t lick them, m’kay?”

My part is almost as tricky. I have to pretend I didn’t notice and/or didn’t care, as if she said “I like squash.” Yet, the entire time I’m thinking one thing, “Frack. Another New Year’s alone with a tin of popcorn and Tombstone.”

At best, you can tell how much the woman likes you by how fast the Boyfriend Card is introduced. In this case, she didn't mention him until after like ten minutes, so I felt pretty good about myself anyway.

The lesson? If my dating life were a video game, I’d be stuck on the advanced level. You know, when the computer is actively working against you and winning becomes impossible, let alone improbable?

Maybe I can get scientists to remove the fear gene that makes mice, at least, less timid and more fearless. Until it's proven to work in humans, I'll have to accept that male mice will continue to get all the hot chicks while I sit on the sidelines because they don't let the Boyfriend Card trap stop them.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Under the sea/ Darling, it’s better/ Down where it’s wetter/ Take it from me

Today was my first visit to the brand new Georgia Aquarium, the LARGEST in the world, containing eight million gallons of water. (Think of how many toilets you’d have to flush for that!)

(Vader voice) Impressive. Most impressive. (/Vader voice)

Initially I spent the first half-hour with a sea of people, not fish, in line to get my annual pass, complete with god-awful picture. After that, pure awe. Folks, you have to see it to believe it. I’ve never been to Chattanooga or any other large aquarium, so I don’t ask me to compare. Just know that this is the bestest, most fabulous ever and that’s that.

The aquarium is separated into five sections: Tropical, Ocean, Cold water, Rivers and Georgia. There are two gift shops and a cafĂ©, plus a 4-D theater upstairs. You could spend an hour walking through everything, but you’d have a better time looking at everything and spending hours exploring. There are several ginormous exhibits where you’ll just want to take a seat and watch; it’s that relaxing. As you can tell below, there are also several places to stick your hand in the water and feel up a ray, little shark, horseshoe crab and shrimp.

Most of the comments ranged from "Wow" to "Holy cow" to "I want to see a big fish eat a little fish!" Okay, the last one was just me.

Click for larger pictures and enjoy!