Thursday, June 30, 2005

Close Encounters of the "Doomed!" Kind

Check it out, my full review of War of the Worlds!

No dump station at this Trailer Park

King Kong - I just wasn’t wowed. Maybe there’s too much talking, too little special effects. Even then, I got the idea that the effects overwhelmed the personal stories. I’m giving Peter Jackson the benefit of the doubt. I think he's earned it.

Serenity - I was a huge fan of the Fox space opera/western “Firefly” a few years back, apparently one of about 200 since the show was canceled after less than half a season. Joss Whedon decided to make a motion picture out of the idea, and it looks just like the TV show, which is a good thing. Just think of these lines and you’ll see why I can’t wait to see the gritty sci-fi in action:

Good guy: “I aim to misbehave.”

Good guy: “I don’t kill children.”
Bad guy: “I do.”

Fun With Dick and Jane - Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni are a typical suburban couple, except that they get their jollies by robbing places. Believe it or not, but the trailer was wickedly funny and drew a hearty guffaw from the audience.

Sky High - A teen whose parents are superheroes is sent to a school for other offspring of superheroes. This could crash and burn badly, but the trailer’s actually entertaining. Who doesn’t like to explore the lives of superheroes? Or did you not like The Incredibles?

Red Eye - Rachel McAdams (The Notebook) finds a potential guy friend (the Scarecrow from Batman Begins) while their plane is late, but it turns out he’s all evil and stuff, and the suspensefulness of a cross-country plane flight turns into typical hostage action in the last third of the trailer. I was hopeful until then. Darn.

The Island - It may not be Logan’s Run, but is sure has borrowed some themes, especially the “lottery” (carousel, anyone?) where attractive young folks are “chosen” but no one comes back the same. You know, like college.

Rent - I’m sure I was supposed to get all excited when the movie’s stars start singing about 525,600 minutes in a year, but I thought it was cheesy and like a spoof of “Fame.” Oh, wait, it’s the movie based on the Broadway musical, and it has been spoofed by Team America, so I can’t expect to see this with a straight face.

Skeleton Key - Hogwash. Bunk. Stop pretending this stuff is real in the AMC pre-movie clips. There’s no more magic in New Orleans than Peoria.

Stealth - No. 5 is alive! But daggum he’s evil. And a superjet. I doubt he watches John Wayne movies, but this laserlips will try to take out an entire city. Megababe Jessica Biel wears a striking blue bikini and is among the folks trying to disassemble.

The Bad News Bears - We don’t need a remake of this classic. We just don’t, not with Billy Bob Thornton reviving his Bad Santa personality in Matthau’s role. However, the line “I think I just entered puberty” may get me in the theater. I know, I feel so dirty when I abandon my principles.

Elizabethtown - Kentucky, that is, as Orlando Bloom attempts to prove he can act in a Big Chill-esque funeral weekend for his estranged father. Kirsten Dunst in the love interest. Tough life.

Stand and be counted

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

- My wife should have expected faults in someone as easy to catch as I was.
- I’m going to subscribe to commercial-free satellite radio to keep from hearing their commercials on regular radio.
- Hey, make the Boy Scout pay for his rescue mission! Signed, The Runaway Bride.
- Folks in hell must be mighty cold today. I just used up my last free address label from the junk mail companies.
- I hope that every one of the Supreme Court justices’ homes gets seized, torn down and replaced by Wal-Marts. (Jeff note: You might get your wish.)
- I wish the ladies would learn to put the seat back up when they are through using the toilet.
- I try to be a Mr. Goodwrench around the house, but I’m more like Mr. Badhammer.
- As my grandfather used to say, the best place to go when you’re broke is to work.
- Why don’t they call Starbucks what it really is: Fourbucks.

Vents I Sent:

- I can’t wait to see how Democrats circle the wagons to accuse a former New York Times Magazine editor of being in the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy for writing a book critical of Hillary.
- A few years back liberals claimed Bush wouldn’t let his “corporate stooges” be punished for their scandals. Care to revise your conspiracy theories?
- I don’t know why my wife wants a new watch for her birthday. There’s a clock already on the oven.
- If the pro-choicers ever knew how long it takes to adopt young children, they’d never make the “who will care for unwanted children” argument.
- I would believe more in the righteous indignation of race-conscious Democrats if former Klansman Robert Byrd wasn’t their elder statesman.
- If Sen. Durban said that conditions in Guantanamo Bay are like what Klansman like Robert Byrd (D-WV) committed instead of comparing the tactics to Nazis, he'd at least be in the ballpark.
- Let's be honest, the media is too anxious to get out a story that would make the Bush administration and the military look bad.
- At least the left is finally paying attention to human rights abuses in Cuba. Okay, not “by Cuba,” but that’s splitting hairs. (mostly stolen from Lileks)
- The only thing worse than a male chauvinist pig is a woman who won’t do as she’s told.
- When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: either the car is new or the wife. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- The Supreme Court’s eminent domain ruling should be a Perfect Storm; the right will fret about Big Government taking our homes, the left upset that the homes are paved over by Big Business.
- Aw, did that mean old Karl Rove hurt the poor little Democrats' feelings? Maybe some therapy can help them feel right as rain again, er, left as rain.
- The problem with modern liberals is that they like imported bottled water instead of beer, raw fish instead of red meat and most of their women have higher testosterone levels than liberal men.
- In societies like the one (liberal AJC cartoonist) Mike Lukovich imagines America to be, people like him can’t draw cartoons like he does about the president.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mature themes, indeed

The latest kerfuffle over violent video games has landed with the cop killer game '25 To Life'.

You know, if folks really want to use a video game as a deterrent to a life of violence, make it really realistic. Go the "Oz" route. No matter how successful you are, the operator either gets gunned down horribly or is caught, whereupon they go to jail and have to face hardened criminals beating you up and gang raping you.

Can I copyright that idea?

They're here

Just got to work after seeing War of the Worlds. Initial thoughts positive with one reservation. It won't save Hollywood's box office slump, though. Full review later.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Not exactly Cocoon

I'm not one to post a lot of jokes on their blog (seriously, have you read my writing?), but this one from Grif.net had me laughing heartily:

Some "Senior" personal ads seen in Florida newspapers. Who says seniors don't have a sense of humor?

FOXY LADY: Sexy, fashion-conscious blue-haired beauty, 80's, slim, 5'4" (used to be 5'6"), searching for sharp-looking, sharp-dressing companion. Matching white shoes and belt a plus.

LONG-TERM COMMITMENT: Recent widow who has just buried fourth husband, and am looking for someone to round out a six-unit plot. Dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath not a problem.

SERENITY NOW: I am into solitude, long walks, sunrises, the ocean, yoga and meditation. If you are the silent type, let's get together, take our hearing aids out and enjoy quiet times.

WINNING SMILE: Active grandmother with original teeth seeking a dedicated flosser to share rare steaks, corn on the cob and caramel candy.

BEATLES OR STONES? I still like to rock, still like to cruise in my Camaro on Saturday nights and still like to play the guitar. If you were a groovy chick, or are now a groovy hen, let's get together and listen to my eight-track tapes.

MEMORIES: I can usually remember Monday through Thursday. If you can remember Friday, Saturday and Sunday, let's put our two heads together.

MINT CONDITION: Male, 1932, high mileage, good condition, some hair, many new parts including hip, knee, cornea, valves. Isn't in running condition, but walks well.

Drowning in spilled salt

I don't like to believe some people are born with bad luck, but Kyle Denney was born under a ladder on top of a broken mirror with a black cat as the nurse:
Indians righthander Kyle Denney is fine after the latest in a line of sometimes bizarre injuries that have dogged him throughout his career. Denney, the starting pitcher for Triple-A Buffalo Sunday night, was hit in the head by a line drive off the bat of the game's first hitter, Durham outfielder Joey Gathright. Buffalo trainer Todd Tomczyk said Denney suffered a cerebral contusion, a fracture of the parietal/temporal bone in his skull and a ruptured eardrum, but said he is in good condition and in good spirits. He never lost consciousness after the ball hit him behind his right ear, but was carried off the field on a stretcher and taken to a local hospital. He could be released from the hospital today.

Denney, a 1999 26th-round draft pick out of Oklahoma who finally reached the big league last year, got national attention when a stray bullet grazed his right calf while he was riding the Cleveland team bus to the airport in Kansas City last season. He was wearing leather go-go boots because of a rookie hazing ritual, which authorities said dented the bullet's impact. He also had Tommy John surgery in 2001, and was struck in the knee by a thrown bat during a spring training game this year, forcing him to miss the season opener. He later spent 33 days on the disabled list for an elbow injury.

It burns!

Throughout the year there are times when we in the cable news business can rely on seeing our favorite videos. For instance, the skiing squirrel comes in handy during a depressing show, or elephants eating pumpkins after Halloween, or footage of the Redneck Games.

Today we finally got my favorite video leading up to the July 4th holiday: fireworks exploding and burning mannequins. It doesn't get much better than seeing an m80 blow up a hand or bottle rockets going off in the back pocket of mannequins. Good clean fun. (Unless you're a mannequin, and only then if you look like Kim Cattrall in the movie where she's yummilicious.)

Maps

Self-promotion is usually the cornerstone of business, but honesty is refreshing. For instance, on a search for "maps" on Google, their own service comes up fifth.

Remembered respectfully

*sigh* The greatest historians, unfortunately, are relegated to the past over time themselves. A few years back we lost Stephen Ambrose, today Shelby Foote. You might remember him as the most memorable historian on the Ken Burns series "The Civil War." I have several of his works, including the massive three-volume set on the War of Northern Aggression that takes longer to read than the war itself.

Foote was from the Memphis area, and I remember an interview with him after that popular series aired. A quiet and private man, he couldn't understand why so many women were approaching him and the number of wedding proposals by complete strangers who were charmed by him on television.

UPDATE: Foote isn't the only big name to pass this week. One of the Wal-Mart heirs, John Walton (second son of founder Sam), died when his ultralight aircraft crashed after taking off from an airport in Jackson, Wyoming.

If I was worth $20 billion, as he's estimated to be, no way in heck would I fly a light aircraft unless I could fly over a continuous bed of nerf or thirty feet-deep of flowers. In fact, I'd never leave my estate. I'd order everything in and everyone would have to visit me, which they would since my estate would be the size of Delaware. I'd be far too rich to risk dying.

On second thought, I'd end death altogether. If only I had that power, I'd be the most powerful man in the universe ... um, I don't like where this is heading.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Apology, Bewitched

Sorry, Mondays will always be slow blogging days since I use my free time to compile stats and write updates on the rotisserie baseball leagues I run.

But if you need something to read that won't make much sense and goes absolutely nowhere, ready my positive review of Bewitched.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Scientology's secrets revealed!

In an interview at times both fascinating and disturbing, Tom Cruise tongue-lashed NBC “Today” show host Matt Lauer for daring to suggest that people have been helped by psychiatry and certain medical drugs. See, because of his Scientology *coughCultcough* research, Tom can safely tell Matt he’s an idiot.

So what else does Tom know that the rest of us are “glib” and ignorant of? He’s done the research, you know. Let’s take a look:

Gravity is a trick forced upon us by astronomers who figured out how to rotate the planet at a certain degree in order to prevent man from bounding about naturally like the astronauts on the moon.

Pens don’t use ink. They use the blood of Xenu, the alien who brought life to Earth after it had been devastated by atomic warfare.

There’s no such thing as mad cow disease. They’re just ill-tempered.

Baseball players are such good hitters that they only hit foul balls to keep fans coming to the ballpark. Otherwise every ball would land in the field of play, including home runs.

Marisa Tomei won Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny fair and square. Seriously.

John F. Kennedy died of natural causes.

The Pythagorean Theorem doesn’t mean anything. It’s just fun to say “squared” after all the numbers.

Humans didn’t evolve from apes, but a really smart dolphin named Larry.

Stonehenge wasn’t created with any mysterious religious meaning. The stones were propped up by guys to pick up chicks. Like every civilization in history, it didn’t matter since the guys with all the colorful gems got the hot ones, anyway.

Harry Potter’s parents are still alive, and living under Hagrid’s coat until the time is right to reveal themselves.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

I shall call it, Mini Me

I did it. I caved. Last week I finally bought a new computer, something I owed myself. Today I splurged on something I neither need nor will I use it all that much: I bought an iPod. An iPod Mini, to be exact. Silver. Plus a combination leather case/armband/clip-on case. And a travel charger, since I especially look forward to trying out this baby on my trip to Texas in a week.

Hey, it’s not like it was all that bad, I get a six percent discount through Time Warner. Okay, so that didn’t help much. And I don’t feel any cooler.

Has anyone been to one of the Apple stores in the mall? How hip do you have to be to feel like you belong? I was like Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from Saturday Night Live (RIP Phil Hartman), all “I don’t understand your strange machines that enable music to play inside your head. I’m primitive and unaware of such technology.”

What else did I do today? I saw Bewitched, so expect a favorable review soon enough. Afterwards, I went to the local Putt-Putt-like entertainment complex for a party for former co-worker Pam (now upstairs at CNN) 30th birthday. Problem is, I got there at 8 o’clock like the invitation said, only I couldn’t find anyone! After a tour of the facilities, I headed back home to start uploading my entire CD collection into the iPod.

Okay, not entire. Only half of R.E.M. made it, skipping many of the crappy mid-90s songs that were either too rockish or slow. Not much in-between on those albums, in their “we’re a serious band” phase. Whatever, dudes. We don’t care. Just sound like you used to, mkay? Appreciate ya.

The first collections I made? “Les Miserables” and the Lord of the Rings trilogy of scores. Therein lies what I’m listening to nowadays. That's five hours of music, and not even one-tenth of the mp3 player's capacity. Neat.

Oh, and I guess we’re supposed to reveal the name we chose for our iPod, you know, to be part of that community. I went with Jeff’s Miracle Mini, which isn’t particularly fresh, but it is alliterative, and that’s what counts.

Baseball at its finest

I would just like to point out that this baseball weekend is perfect. With the Red Sox playing Philadelphia and the Braves hosting Baltimore, my teams can help each other significantly. With Boston's win last night and Atlanta's, the World Champions are back in first place in the AL East. Plus, Atlanta moves up on Philly for second in the NL East. Good times.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Feel-good study for the weekend

The “No frackin’ duh” story of the day: Compliments make a woman feel better, study concludes. Apparently, however, "You're a righteous broad" doesn't count, which I concluded in a free, if painful, study.

New research shows a quick, easy way to boost a woman's body image. The technique is free and available to anyone - “ no advanced degrees or intricate instructions are required.

Stop watching “America’s Next Top Model.” That’s it. There you go. Stick with “Blue Collar TV,” where fatness is celebrated, because men want women who eat turkey legs, not those who pick at side salads with low-fat dressing for their main course. But absolutely don’t get fat. (It’s a tricky transition, I know, but life isn’t fair.)

A single compliment about a woman's character or looks can do the trick, says Courtney Fea, MS, of Kansas State University.

You mean I don’t have to buy dinner, jewelry, take her to a show and send flowers to get to second base? I've been bamboozled!

"Simply giving someone one compliment is enough to make them feel better about themselves," Fea tells WebMD. Fea is presenting her findings in Los Angeles at the American Psychological Society's 17thAnnual Convention.

[Dr. Phil]And how’s that working out for you?[/Dr. Phil]

You know, sometimes folks need to be told their hair is a mess. I’d wager that most serial killers have great self-esteem, too, but that doesn’t mean they deserve it.

Wow, I’m a total raging asswipe, aren’t I?

Fea and colleagues studied 185 female college students at Kansas State University. The women were told that the study was about personality and appearance.

Not that it was complicated. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head, a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

Each student was taken alone into a room where a female "evaluator" pretended to scrutinize the student's looks at length. The "evaluation" was a sham, but the students didn't know it.

You may think they didn’t notice, but they did. Women always seem to figure out when I’m “evaluating” them, whether it’s how I’m rubbing my nipples or using binoculars. Women are so intuitive that way.

Afterward, the "evaluator" asked the student about personal interests, such as favorite books and hobbies. Next, the "evaluator" gave the student a compliment. The compliments were scripted, but the students didn't know it.

Does anyone else think this sounds like the “science” practiced by Bill Murray in Ghostbusters? Did the evaluator also hold up a card and ask the students if they see wavy lines or a star?

One compliment was neutral: "Thank you for participating in this study." Another addressed character: "You sound like a nice person." The third compliment focused on appearance: "You're a nice-looking person." Lastly, each student went to another room to fill out questionnaires about mood and body image. The study's true purpose was revealed before the students left.

I wish I had studied and memorized more any poetry in school. It’s one thing to say a woman looks nice. It’s another to tell them:
”My lady's presence makes the roses red,
Because to see her lips they blush for shame.
The lily's leaves, for envy, pale became,
And her white hands in them this envy bred.” - Henry Constable

Whatever. I can see the women swooning already. And here I thought quotes from Bull Durham and singing Bad English’s “When I See You Smile” would suffice. C’mon, this is gold:
“And when the rain is falling
I don't feel it,
'cause you're here with me now
And one look at you baby
Is all I'll ever need,
you're all I'll ever need”

Now that's poetry!

The surveys showed that some women tended to define themselves more by their character and inner qualities, while others dwelled more on their appearance or specific body parts (like their hips or legs), says Fea. The group was pretty evenly split between women who focused more on their character and those who described themselves by their looks. The appearance-oriented women got a boost from their compliment, Fea tells WebMD.

What if they defined themselves by character and body parts? A woman might say, “You know, my calves make me playful,” or “If I shaved my mustache I would appreciate my family more.” Where’s the control group for these women, hmm? Some study this is.

It didn't matter if the compliment addressed a woman's character or her appearance; both types did an equally good job. "In this study, it didn't matter what type of compliment you gave," says Fea. The praise wasn't flowery or dramatic. "The compliments were so mild," says Fea. It wasn't, "You are a nice person," but "you sound like a nice person," she notes.

Wow, that’s all it took? And here I’ve been going overboard, telling women, “your hair reminds me of a wheat field in the spring” and “thanks for not slamming the door in my face.” Keep it simple, eh?

Many women feel anxiety, shame, or dissatisfaction about their bodies because they feel they don't measure up to cultural ideals ormedia role models. A simple compliment may help offset those feelings, says Fea.

How’s this: “Wow, what a great smile. Want to go get registered at Target right away”?

Too soon?

Giving compliments is "probably a skill" that people can develop, says Fea. Afraid of seeming inappropriate? Compliment a woman's character instead of her looks, she suggests.

Sure, it sounds good, but “You have great attention to detail” doesn't generate enough heat to light a match. Now, “I like the way you dance. Want to give me a personal lesson? In the bedroom?” That’s hot. Well, I mean, the coffee to the face is hot.

Fea hopes to do more experiments on the topic, including whether multiple compliments are even more helpful and how long a compliment's effects lasts.

Trust me, there’s a fine line. For instance, “you have beautiful eyes” will get you a smile. But that, coupled with “and a tight butt” won’t get the same upshot.

Meanwhile, she says the impact of a few words of praise was "much more than what we would expect for one compliment."

Sounds like useless twaddle to me. Oh, sorry, I meant to say, “Thank you for releasing this study, which confirmed my knowledge of completely obvious dating tips.”

The Final Election Frontier

I couldn't help but look at this picture of Iran's elections without thinking ...



"What's the matter? Don't you like this form? An eternity I've been imprisoned in this place! The ship! I must have the ship! Now give me what I want!"

"What does God need with a starship?"

(Paraphrased, of course. AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

I wish I could write like this

From today's Lileks Bleat:

I enjoy history documentaries, because they give you the illusion of learning something without much effort or reading. I could watch docs about ancient Rome all day – less so Egypt, which had many fascination [sic] accomplishments but sometimes just looks like 5000 years of pyramids and boner-worship.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It's the little spitefulness in life that are fun

Know what I enjoyed most about my debt consolidation loan recently? My Fleet Bank credit card account was bought out by Bank of America a week before I paid off the entire amount, meaning they'll get ZERO interest from me! Hahahahahaha! You won't make a cent off me, a**wipes!

The Crying Game

Gosh, if I didn't know better (and I usually don't), I'd think that all this whining by Democrats about Karl Rove's comment that they wanted to understand the 9/11 terrorists rather than kill them, they could use some group therapy to cry together.

I mean, really, I don't have any clue where Rove might get the idea that liberals would rather use 9/11 to beat up on the U.S.

Adult cells? Why, we all have those!

Twenty bucks says you won't see this on the network or cable news (other than Fox):
In a ground-breaking study, scientists at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh have discovered that adult, or post- natal, stem cells have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to multiply, a previously unknown characteristic indicating that post-natal stem cells may play an important therapeutic role.

Freedom doesn't mean the same to everyone

[Getting up on soapbox]

I am appalled at two thoroughly disturbing developments the past two days that have limited personal freedoms in favor of government interests.

First, like a ruling straight out of The Goonies, the liberals on the Supreme Court decided (and for some reason Anthony Kennedy agreed) that it’s just peachy keen for local governments to seize your home - even against your will -- for private economic development. Yes, the leftists sided with big business since it means a more powerful government. Forgive my ignorance, but isn't the point of the Constitution to limit the scope of the government, not enable such drastic means? Plus, I'd bet that a lot of the social liberals won't like it when poor people are kicked out of their homes to make room for a new Costco. It’s not as if every community can be saved by a group of kids finding a pirate ship full of gems. Remember that when you ride up Troy's bucket to some new school in a different town.

Second – and done by the Republicans in the House of Representatives – Congress is trying to push through a flag burning amendment. You know, it may piss me off when people burn the flag, but that shouldn’t make it illegal any more than banning fat people from taking off their shirts while mowing the lawn. That’s in the public interest, too, but no one will be arrested for the offense. Not only that, but it makes it easier to spot the tinfoil hat-wearing loons on the left when they engage in such anti-American activities.

[Stepping off soapbox]

Royally fun

Sure, Prince William gets all the press, such as receiving his degree today in St. Andrews, Scotland (been there).

Still, I say it would be better to have the life of little brother, Prince Harry, instead. Think of it, as the younger brother he gets all the fun, all the girls, all the money, and none of the pressure. It would take a tragedy to Charles and William for him to assume the throne after Elizabeth II, and if not, then William’s kids would be next in line. So party on, Harry, and enjoy your spoiled life!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Double-shot Hump Day

Stealing from High Fidelity, it’s time for another look at Jeff’s Top Fives. Previously we looked at my favorite Minutes Of The Weekday and Secular Concerts.

Today, my Top 5 Best Jobs (Before coming here to work at CNN)

1. The Jackson Sun – You mean I get to cover sports and earn a paycheck? Wow, this journalism thing is neat. At first I was responsible for putting together the scoreboard page and taking calls for local high school scores, but after a few months I could put my writing skills to work by writing local feature stories. You’d be surprised how much work goes into a story about new baseball/softball equipment in time for spring and summer amateur leagues to start.

2. Production assistant, WMC – There’s a reason Channel 5 is always No. 1 in Memphis television news. The people are incredible. I thoroughly enjoyed working behind the camera for the 5 and 10 o’clock news. Ripping scripts out in the newsroom, I got to know the producers, who were all fun, and running prompter was a chance to kick up your feet, eat nachos and contribute. The absolute best part, though, was working the camera for the Saturday morning wrestling show hosted by The Man, Dave Brown. There’s nothing better than running to use the bathroom beforehand and seeing all the wrestlers milling silently around, putting on skimpy clothes and doing their hair before pretending to hate each other ten minutes later.

3. FedEx – Working overnight at the hub, I was outside unloading and loading planes. In the summer, it was actually quite pleasant at 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., the job was physical yet not demanding, and I could stay up all night and be paid for it. Nice work if you can get it, and tons better than sorting and scanning packages in the hot warehouse.

4. Sports Producer/Director for WLJT – Sure, it might seem like not much happens in the northwest Tennessee hamlet of Martin, where the students at UT- Martin outnumber local residents, but there was plenty to do at the PBS affiliate. Besides being in charge of covering UT-Martin football and basketball, I had plenty of time to stare out my campus window with binoculars at the cute co-eds.

5. Camlot Music – My high school job, I knew little about music but because of Dad’s friendship with the manager, Tina, I started as Christmas help and was lucky to be kept on. The guys and gals I worked with were cool for the most part, we worked with music and I was in the mall all the time, and thus accessible to the food court. Chick-fil-A to be specific. Plus all the cute chicks who shopped at the Raleigh Springs Mall until it became a … let’s be nice … less than reputable place to shop.


On the flip side, the Top 5 Worst Jobs

1. Wal-Mart SuperCenter - It didn’t take long in college until I ran up my credit cards and needed some cash to fund my late night Taco Bell runs. Patrick and Steve filled out applications at the same time and both ended up in produce, and I lasted two-weeks as a cart wrangler. Yep, I pushed carts out in the parking lot. Turns out that wasn’t exactly good for my asthma. Go figure.

2. Camelot Music – Yeah, I know, some crossover here. Working with music was great, and my co-workers were cool, but once I started working the register it all went downhill. I hated the customers. Straight up, hated dealing with them and handling their money. I was much more civil helping them find CDs, cassettes and laser discs (yes, that’s right) than ringing up their order. Then, a girl named Della started working there and was a raging bitch who thought the world owed her everything, so much that I later figured out that my register kept ending up short at the end of the night because she was stealing when I was on break. I hope she dies and goes directly to Hell.

3. Cracker Barrel – Really, the job wasn’t all that bad and it was just for the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I got to hang out at my favorite restaurant, slept late to cover the night shift and when I came home I felt like I put in a solid day’s work. Still, I was a bus boy and when I wasn’t lugging the bucket around cleaning tables I was washing dishes in the back, which was wet, dirty and difficult.

4. Outback Steakhouse – Again a bus boy, but this time without the bucket. (They don’t believe in that sort of thing.) Sure, I figured out I could carry six of those mugs in one hand at a time, but you try lifting that ginormously heavy trash can into the dumpster. The good, however, made it all worthwhile: Free cheese fries and wicked awesome blossoms.

5. K-Mart – I think I was in tenth grade when I was the lackey there, stocking shelves, grabbing the heavy stuff from the storage and carrying them out to customer’s cars. It wasn’t so bad, really, for a first job, but after a few months I quit when I was asked to clean up an absolutely nasty bathroom mess. I’m talking “throw up in my mouth” bad. When I wouldn’t do it, I was told to do so or leave. I didn’t clean it. You wouldn’t have, either. Looked like an elephant with diarrhea nested in there for a month.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

His common sense is brain dead, so pull the plug

I don’t care what side of the Terri Schiavo case you supported; we should be able to agree that her ex-husband is an a**hole.

Snippy snippets

- ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, aka The Sports Guy, considers what you’d name your horse if you owned a thoroughbred. Me? I’d go with, in no particular order:

Mom’s Potato Salad
Trot Nixon (Trot, as in the Red Sox and the canter, get it?! Sheesh.)
We Buy Ugly Houses
This Is CNN (Have to have something work related.)
Glue Stick (Not a subtle threat to the horse.)

- Ever notice that after a few days of disregarding your alarm clock that it gets louder and more obnoxious (like me at a family gathering)? You know, like, YOU! WILL! NOT! IG! NORE! ME! AN! Y! MORE!

- As great as modern games are nowadays (and really, Lego Star Wars rocks), there's nothing to get a group of geeky guys talking like old arcade games. My favorite is Galaga, but if I could play it again, I'd plug one-hundred bucks worth of quarters into Choplifter like I used to do at the Pizza Hut on Austin Peay back in Memphis.

- Chronic Insomnia Baffles Sleeping Experts
I hope they’re not losing sleep over it.

- The super weightlifters at the gym have their own language in the locker room, talking about reps and quads and the like. Me? I try to fit in but I don’t know if it works. You decide: “Yeah, (flexing) I think today I’ll take it easy, head and shoulders, knees and toes … “

- Anyone who can help me here? I can't decide whether ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols is an uber-hottie. Some days I say yes, other days I’ve got nothing. I haven't been this conflicted about on-air talent since Keith Olbermann turned from whimsical ESPN anchor into an arrogant liberal prick on MSNBC.

- Co-worker Craig posted some more control room banter on his site.

- U.S. and British researchers said they'd found evidence that fat cells may hasten the aging process. That’s almost a relief. I’ve been freaking out about turning 30 in October, but it turns out my body passed that unsettling milestone long ago. So if smoking takes years off your life, does this mean that every taquito takes a day at a time off mine?

- I was skeptical about the new study finding that half of Americans will develop a mental disorder in their lives. That is, until I read that House Democrats held a make-believe impeachment inquiry over the Iraq war, during which:
At Democratic headquarters, where an overflow crowd watched the hearing on television, activists handed out documents repeating two accusations--that an Israeli company had warning of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that there was an "insider trading scam" on 9/11--that previously has been used to suggest Israel was behind the attacks.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Keep it pithy

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

- My kid asked how long eternity lasts so I showed him the NBA playoff schedule.
- Can’t we start a lane for people who don’t want to rubberneck?
- My husband asked me if I had heard of the droid that got lost. You know, R2-Detour.
- Did you hear about the android that got mad? You know, C3-PO'd.
- I was wondering where my boomerang had landed … and then it came to me.
- I've seen more cleavage in recent years than in all my previous years combined. Three cheers and my personal thanks to the fashion industry.
- Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.
- Bush is smarter than Kerry! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha! Take that liberal media!
- My husband wears the pants in our household, but I tell him which ones to wear.
- My accountant told me that I had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life. As long as I don’t live past noon tomorrow!
- Should I be worried? My boyfriend has gotten Father’s Day gifts in the mail from five different states.
- When a deaf person goes to court, do they still call it a hearing?
- Those sneaky, low-down right-wingers are now attacking Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton by quoting them. What’s next?
- Why is it that my clients don’t understand I am a beautician, not a magician?
- Who would have thought that oil could cause so much friction?
- Looks like Michael Jackson “Beat it.”
- Sweet! The umbrella dude keeps his job.
- M.J. has hired O.J. to find the real molester.
- I just heard Saddam Hussein is trying to move his trial to California.

Vents I Sent:

- Between Howard Dean, recent Vents and editorials from liberals it’s now clear that White and Christian are insults in the Democrat Party.
- Curious, a former governor of a state that is whiter than an albino bear with dandruff judging that the Republicans are too Caucasian.
- If the Democrat Party is supposedly so diverse, why is the party leadership so lily white?
- If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular? (I totally stole that.)
- Never trust a Yankee with directions. Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder." (From Grif.net.)
- Now that I have a new car and a new computer, the only reason to read the Sunday paper's inserts is for the women in their underwear.
- How come the more left-wing the Westerner, the more tolerant he is of right-wing Islamic extremism? (Victor Davis Hanson.)
- In all this talk about Guantanamo Bay as some sort of gulag, has anyone on the left noticed that the rest of Cuba is, in fact, a prison camp?
- The main obstacle to growth in development in Africa is weak and corrupt leadership, not insufficient foreign aid, and it won’t matter a lick how much money a concert of rock stars provide guilt-induced donations.
- Anyone else notice that the media and liberals (but I repeat myself) treated Bob Barr like a kook until he spoke out against the Patriot Act?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

So does this make Arizona the armpit of the U.S.?

Phoenix was named the sweatiest city in the U.S. How, exactly, is my birthplace No. 1? The sweat dries up as soon as it leaves your body? Hello, dry heat? In Las Vegas way back in the 90s, I was comfortably wearing pants in the evening. There is NO WAY I could do that in Memphis or Atlanta in August, without trying to lose fifty pounds of water weight in one night. Playing junior golf in the summers, I could drink six gallons of water in one round and never have to pee.

If you’re curious, here are some of the other rankings for our cities:

4. Miami
18. Waco
27. Memphis
31. Atlanta
39. Louisville
44. Nashville
50. Knoxville

Low-excitement update

Jeff diet life plan update:

Time to start over again. If I’m going to exercise five days a week, I should at least make an effort to eat right, too, and actually try to lose some weight.

Not that I’m going to jump in the deep end. Instead I’ll wean myself off the fats, meaning I will eat what’s left in my kitchen but when I went to the store tonight I stuck to healthy groceries. Low fat, low sodium, low sugar, low flavor.

Of course, we’ll see what happens the next time I go to the movie theater. Will I stick to Twizzlers (as always, a low-fat candy), or splurge on the hot dog and nachos? Mmm, nachos. Processed cheese. *drool*

And that pretty much wraps up today. I woke up at 10 a.m., took a Benadryl, read some of the paper, posted my Father's Day triubte and went right back to sleep on my futon while watching ESPN. Then I woke up after 2, watched the U.S. Open, called Dad and played my Tiger Woods golf game on the computer.

Afterwards, my Target and Publix runs. I didn't buy much, but figured out that the ratio of cute women to guys at those places on Sunday nights is entirely favorable to men who could actually pick them up.

We'll always have St. Louis




I've been pretty darn lucky to have two great parents, and I don't have anything negative to say about how they raised me or my siblings. They both made plenty of sacrifices to make sure we had everything we needed, not just materially, but most importantly with their time.

Growing up, Dad was my official sports manager, coaching my teams if it was needed, shuttling me around to baseball, soccer and golf, and always the parent you can hear enjoying themselves when we watch the old VHS tapes. Some of my favorite times were waking up at dawn to have the first tee time, many times waiting for the sun to come up to tee off.

Now that I'm an adult (in age only, of course), he's my travel buddy. Almost all of the cool spots I've been, it's because he initiated the trip and I was more than happy to tag along, to Venezuela, Brazil, Las Vegas, two weeks in the U.K., Key West, all over New England and wherever the Red Sox are playing.

See you July 3rd in Texas, Dad!

Sunday's blog insert (feel free to toss)

Now that I have a new computer, half of the Sunday paper is useless. I used to check the six dozen pages advertising new cars, and then last year I bought my Aztek. So then I started pulling out the inserts to look at computers. Now I have one. What's left? The expanded sports section and the ads with women in their underwear.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Would you like to play a game?

Sorry for the lack of updates today. It’s not that I’ve been particularly busy. In fact, I’ve been in front of the computer all day watching the Lord of the Rings extended DVDs.

Before you think me just lazy, maybe I should clarify. My new computer.

Yep, the seven-year reign of corruption Compaq held over my life has ended. All hail Hewlett-Packard!

Specifically, I purchased an HP Pavilion a1000n, with an Intel Celeron D processor at 2.93 GHz, 512 mb memory, 80 GB hard drive, DVD-Rom and CD-RW drives, 9-in-1 media reader (meaning I can just pop in my digital camera’s compact flash card) and other fancy-smancy terms that mean the PC is six zillion times more powerful than my last computer, which ran on rubberbands and urine (but not my own; I had to import a special blend from Taiwan).

Since I bought the computer at Best Buy this morning, I spent more time rebuffing their pitches to upgrade my new spiffy perfect computer and, oh yeah, it might explode in 32 days so you’d better pay $4,003 for our three-month service plan. It’s more if they have to come to your home, though, so they recommend not getting a heavy desktop.

I didn’t go in as a complete sucker – there will always be a bit of suckerdom in me at all times, alas – my budget was set up pre-“rebate.” I put the scare quotes on there because I think we all know that the idea of mail-in rebates is voodoo sorcery. Has anyone ever received one? If so, how long? Within six months? It’s all hogwash. I’m going to fill out the forms simply because there will be a time I’ll be bored and need something to pass the time. Then I’ll mail the forms and expect them to vanish for eternity.

The best news is that I stayed right at my estimate and could still afford to pass over the cheap HP monitor for a 17-inch LCD flat panel monitor. Oh dear me, it’s frackin’ sweet. There’s so much more room to see entire web pages (some of which I never knew had anything on the right side of their screens), and unlike my last 17-inch monitor that was three-feet deep, I won’t bang my funny bone walking between the kitchen and living room.

I’ve spent all day getting the computer up and running, installing and update software. I’ve probably had to restart the computer a dozen times already. Why do you have to do that, anyway? Is the new software like a bat, afraid to hunt when the desktop isn’t dark and unaware?

Of course, a new computer and monitor don’t improve a whole lot when I’m still using AOL for my Internet access. Sure, because of work I get the service free, but it took an hour to download the update for my BlackBerry. Can you imagine how long it must take to download nude pictures of the redhead from Just the Ten of Us? I’d be here for weeks.

I’m just sayin’, is all (why can’t I say my Gs?), look for me to get DSL at home sooner than later. Most likely upon my return from Texas in mid-July. When that happens, don’t expect any more updates than now, because my home computing will be opened up to all manner of websites and games I have heretofore been unable to enjoy. Oh yes, the Age of Jeff is still young.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Democrats in the minority are tortured by common sense

Hugh Hewitt (emphasis in original):
Every member of the military and their families and every voter who admires the military should be watching very closely as the Democratic Party and MSM say and do nothing about Dick Durbin's smear. You can't be a supporter of the military and allow the #2 Democrat in the Senate to put the Nazi/Stalin/Pol Pot brand on the troops, which is exactly what Durbin did.


What's he talking about? Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, likened U.S. troops to Nazis, Soviets and Pol Pot on the Senate floor earlier this week.

It goes without saying (I hope) that Dick is in serious need of perspective.

On a humorous note, Iowahawk uncovers more correspondence from Durbin.

Maybe Durbin will be happy, then, to see that a soldier in the NY National Guard murdered his two commanders in Baghdad. After all, it was such anti-war mentality on display at marches that declared "We Support Our Troops, When They Shoot Their Officers".

At least it got the "depraved" part correct

Frankly, I'm not sure what this religion quiz reveals, true or not, considering I'm more of an Agnostic Christian nowadays (I know, I know, what the heck does that mean?), but thanks to Scott for the link.

You scored as Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan. You are an evangelical in the Wesleyan tradition. You believe that God's grace enables you to choose to believe in him, even though you yourself are totally depraved. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives you assurance of your salvation, and he also enables you to live the life of obedience to which God has called us. You are influenced heavly by John Wesley and the Methodists.

Neo orthodox

54%

Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan

54%

Emergent/Postmodern

46%

Classical Liberal

46%

Modern Liberal

39%

Charismatic/Pentecostal

32%

Reformed Evangelical

25%

Fundamentalist

25%

Roman Catholic

25%

What's your theological worldview?
created with QuizFarm.com

Free money. Except for paying it back.

I recently went through the motions for a debt consolidation loan from my bank, Wachovia. It went through last night at the same time my paycheck was placed into my account. As you can guess, my eyes were wider than the Runaway Bride's.

I wanted to cash it all into quarters, put it in a ginormous bin and swim in it like Scrooge McDuck. In other words, my pockets got real hot, real fast.

So I quickly grabbed my checkbook and started writing the big checks to pay off my credit card debt, so as to head off any potential spending spree disasters.

However, that won't stop me from buying a new computer with that loan. Not an expensive one, but it has to include a 17-inch LCD flat panel monitor. This is non-negotiable. Considering my current home computer is seven years old, anything is a huge upgrade. Seriously, my hard drive has 2GB, and the cheapest ones nowadays start at 40GB. Glory is the upcoming weekend computer-shopping trip!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Pow! Bang! Zoom!

So I got off work as usual Wednesday night, 10 p.m., and by 10:15 I'm at my exit. I decided I could either a) Turn right, go home and watch my tape of "Mythbusters," or b) Turn left and see the 10:30 showing of Batman Begins.

What did I choose?

Let's just say I had a dark "knight."

Full review on the way, and a positive one at that.

UPDATE, 8:25 p.m.: MY REVIEW IS NOW ONLINE.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hey now you're an All Star, get your game on, go play

If you couldn’t care less about baseball, then I don’t want to know you. No, I mean, sorry, but it’s time to fill blog space with my official 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Picks. If you don’t care, there’s plenty more below.

American League

C – Jason Varitek, Bos. As you’ll soon tell I’m avoiding being a “homer” in my voting by not picking Red Sox players just because I live and die with every at-bat. That said, not making Varitek the starting All-Star catcher would have been like not inviting Eisenhower to post-World War II parades. ‘Tek is the captain of the Red Sox for a good reason, he controls the games with his calls behind the plate, and as a batter at the plate, he’s hitting .326 with 11 home runs and 27 RBIs.

1B - Mark Teixeira, Texas. Scott will be glad to see this, since the young Rangers stud is on his fantasy team, but really the decision was easy since Teixeira is hitting .289 with 17 dingers and 50 RBIs, compared to next-best Paul Konerko’s .247-16-42.

2B - Brian Roberts, Bal. Sure, Alfonso Soriano of Texas has more HR and RBI, but if not for Roberts’ hot start there’s no way in heck that the Orioles are still in first place in the AL East. That, and despite a slump he’s still leading the league in hitting at .357, and he’s hit more four-baggers in the first three months than the last three seasons combined.

3B – Alex Rodriguez, NYY Yeah, this hurts. I want nothing more than to declare him A-Fraud and ridicule his punk quotes and actions in the field, such as last year’s cheating chop at first base. But (and a painful “but” at that), there’s no arguing his production.

SS - Miguel Tejada, Bal. Any casual fan or Yankee humper who votes for Derek Jeter just because of name recognition should be banned from the ballpark. New York can’t even win more games than they’re losing with Jeter batting .295 with six home runs, 26 runs batted in and eight steals. Meanwhile, Baltimore is in first with Tejada hitting .328, 18 HR and 53 RBIs. There isn’t a debate here, it’s an easy choice. In fact, even Texas’ Michael Young has better numbers (.315-8-33-2) than Jeter the Golden Boy of the media, plus a better team record.

OF – Scott Podsednik, CWS Hustle is rarely acknowledged in MLB honors, and with my vote I say it’s high time we give these Speedy Gonzalezes their due. The White Sox have the best record in either league, and I give partial credit to the get-‘em-on, get-‘em-over, get-‘em-in approach brought over by Podsednik in a trade from Milwaukee in the DH-free National League. His 32 stolen bases by mid-June are phenomenal in a power league, after leading the majors with 70 last year, the most by a player since 1999.

OF – Johnny Damon, Bos. For awhile there, the Red Sox centerfielder was almost single-handedly keeping the Sox afloat, with his .346 average, 37 ribbies and seven steals. All amid pain from constantly running into walls and teammates.

OF – Vladimir Guerrero, LAA Vlad The Impaler is the only player who could make this list for me if it meant keeping Manny Ramirez off. Even missing time on the DL, Vlad still hit .326, 8 dingers, drove in 30 and had five swipes, while playing brilliant defense. He’s a joy to watch, and should be seen on the big scale of an All-Star game.

DH – David Ortiz, Bos. If Varitek is the captain of Boston’s ship, Ortiz is the engineer. You need an important home run to increase your lead or catch up? Big Papi is your man. If he weren’t a DH, I’d be adamant that he should have won MVP the past two seasons, he’s so important to the team.

National League

C – Johnny Estrada, Atl. A weak lineup this season, none with power. Instead, I’m crediting those who combine so-so offense with impeccable defense. Mike Piazza meets neither of these criteria, he’s been so bad. Estrada is only hitting .278, but his 26 RBIs are among the best among catchers in the NL. Plus, he fields his position with a 1.000 fielding percentage (perfect, in other words), and has 16 caught stealing with just 23 stolen bases. Not a bad ratio. (Piazza has 44 SB allowed to just five CS.)

1B – Derrek Lee, Cubs. The MVP of the National League thus far, even if current voting has St. Louis super-stud Albert Pujols on top. Let’s compare: Lee, among an anemic offense with every pitcher ailing, kept the Cubs afloat with a .385 average, 18 HR, 56 RBIs and nine steals, whereas Pujols, surrounded by sluggers on a first-place team, is hitting .329 with 16 homers, 51 RBIs and four steals. Lee also has a higher on-base-percentage and slugging-percentage, 23 more total bases, four more walks and seven more doubles, though he has several more strikeouts. If you look at defense, Lee even has a higher fielding percentage (.997) than Pujols (.994). So there. Even still, it’s tough to keep Carlos Delgado out of the debate, with his numbers: .325-14-49, but this season he’s just not good enough to start on the NL squad.

2B – Jeff Kent, LAD The four-time All-Star leaves everyone else in his wake with 13 round-trippers and 50 runs batted in, with a respectable .287 average for a slugger. Even better, he leads all NL second basemen in runs scored, too, and second in walks without a high strikeout total.

3B – Troy Glaus, Ari. This used to be easy. Chipper Jones versus everyone else. This year he’s been injured, so I can’t just hand it to him for the heck of it. So let’s welcome Glaus over from the AL, deserving with 16 balls over the fences, driving in 43 teammates and an on-base percentage of .358, helping an Arizona team stay competitive in the NL West, a year after finishing dead last. Props, though, to Morgan Ensberg in lowly Houston, with 15 HR, 38 RBI and .376 OBP.

SS – Felipe Lopez, Cin. I wasn’t sure about this one. Usually, Nomar would be the obvious choice for name recognition, but he tore his groin early on and is out. The speedy guys can’t hit, and the only guy to combine power and average, rookie Clint Barmes, is out for a few months. That leaves Lopez, a utility player for the Reds who, if given more at-bats, would improve on decent numbers of 10 HR, 36 RBI to go with a .303 average.

OF – Pat Burrell, Phi. Welcome to the party, Mr. Never-Met-His-Potential, you’ve arrived. The Phillie is batting .322 among his 14 homers and 55 ribbies.

OF – Carlos Lee, Mil. - The former White Sox is making a big difference in the NL, tied for the league lead in HR and the outright RBI leader with 56.

OF – Andruw Jones, Atl. Sure, he’s hitting just .243, so you could call this my Homer pick of the year. Still, his defense is so amazing in center field for the Braves, his range and ability saves two runs a night for Atlanta. If I can give Podsednik props for stolen bases, I can give Andruw credit for his defense.

No shortage of pedophile jokes

Fellow Conan O'Brien fans, and specifically fans of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, here he is at the Michael Jackson trial. Jacko's fans take themselves far too seriously, which makes it all the more funny.

(Thanks to Sydney for the link!)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

In the news (as Jeff sees it)

Today's fortune cookie: "You have plenty of insight. Share it with others." Amen. So here goes:


- Who knew that you literally can walk in the Word of God? (Thanks to Sydney for the disturbing link.)

- James Lileks got on a comics kick, and the question came up, who's "hotter," Blondie Bumstead or Dennis the Menace's mom, Alice? I beg to differ. I think we all know that the most smokin' babe in the funny pages is Miss Buxley from Beetle Bailey, am I right? I mean, seriously. As if. (Remember, ladies, all this can be yours.)

- Bad news in the lung front. A few weeks ago I rejoiced that Georgia's legislature passed a smoking ban in most public places. But, unfortunately, I found out last weekend that the sports bar I frequent has decided that instead of banning smoking and allowing patrons under age 18, they've decided to be more bar than restaurant, allowing smoking and banning minors. Meaning, it could become a smoker's oasis. I'll still go, since it's down the street and offers trivia and Red Sox games via satellite, but there's no way I'll be sitting in the bar area socializing. But hey, I don’t drink and I don’t smoke, so why am I there? So I guess I have no point.

- Western companies welcomed in Cuba as heroes a decade ago for bucking the U.S. embargo are packing up and leaving as the Communist government rolls back market reforms and squeezes out intermediaries. When asked for a response, Fidel Castro shrugged, “Hello there. Me? Commie dictator.”

- I notice that the folks using Xanga for their blogs list what music they're listening to. I don't know if I'd want that feature, what with Steven and his Bartlett Baptist friends listing Contemporary Christian music because they're Good Christians, whereas I'm a Backsliding Baptist. My music listings would include Def Leppard's greatest hits or the Team America soundtrack, which is very (hilariously) naughty.

- Schadenfreude of the day comes from the Arctic Ocean where two Minnesota men tried to cross it to call attention to global warming. They had to cut the trip short because of poor weather conditions.

- In this month’s Lark News, "Man arrested for drunk-in-the-Spirit driving."

- Liberals are sure to be up in arms by the newest “abuses” at the Guantanamo Bay prison. Among the interrogation techniques: Invasion of Space by a Female, whence the terrorist “becomes especially agitated by the close physical presence of a woman.” Abuse my a**. Heck, dude, I can’t get a woman to share my space for any length, and I’d pay for dinner and the movie!

- Finally, today’s headlines:
"Experts See Rage in Brutal Murder"
As opposed to cute fluffy bunnies.

"Roach Named to Supreme Court"
Democrats agreed not to filibuster it so long as Bush didn’t submit a caterpillar to the Circuit Court.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Do you, Brad, take this assassin ...

I doubt attempted murder was in their vows, but you have to be flexible in marriage, am I right? A review of Mr. and Mrs. Smith explains.

But Geeks are "in," right? Hello?

So my sis, Stacy, passed along this Geek Test.

I knew I was doomed when I had to check "waited in line 12+ hours for movie tickets" and "argued about which "Trek" is the best" and "I own .. four-color pen."

29.78304% - Total Geek

Sunday, June 12, 2005

This just in, Jeff is unserious

Time for a new batch of Headlines:

College Students Download in Dorm Rooms
Is that what kids are calling it these days?

Shuttle rollout delayed by crack
Crack is whack, yo!

Pacers Hire Person As Assistant Coach
Second choice, Spot, plans to sue for "canine bias."

Britain's red squirrel on the rebound
Calls blue squirrel "bitch," vows next girlfriend will be brown and "have big cheeks for holding nuts."

Hawaiian island stars in 'Lost'
Maui calls for walkout until all islands are paid equally.

Senate May Weigh Climate in Energy Bill
Rumored by an anonymous senator to be "hella heavy."

Schwarzenegger Ponders Special Election
Around these PC parts, we call that "voting challenged."

Cops: Nude Beach Flasher More Aggressive
Flashing on a nude beach? To show what?

Trailer Park

The Dukes of Hazzard - I'm not sure why making good ol' boys Luke and Bo Duke (Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott, respectively) into scraggly asshole agitators is supposed to be an improvement? I'm confident that Jessica Simpson couldn't act her way out of an MTV reality show, and this is after a two-minute trailer. So why will I see the movie? The car, silly!

The 40 Year-Old Virgin - Steve Carell of "The Daily Show" and Anchorman gets a chance to prove he can carry a film. I'm doubtful, but I'll still see it someday. Might feel a little too personal, though! It looks like one of those mid-80s teen sex comedies as if the teens grew up to be exactly the same, only still without getting any lovin'.

The Skeleton Key - Louisiana voodoo horror starring Kate Hudson. No. Even worse, the "documentary" playing in the commercials before the movie is an insult, and makes me hate the movie. I don't believe, and I'm going to look into every mirror in my apartment to mock the filmmaker. You know what's next, don't you? A horror movie where three teens look in a mirror, say "Bloody Mary" at midnight three times and are haunted by a ghost for an hour.

War of the Worlds - Wally, because you won't let him take the van, you're going to die. Nobody ridicules Tom Cruise when danger lurks. Nobody!

In Her Shoes - Chick Flick Checklist: 1) Sisters, one of whom is sexy (Cameron Diaz), the other a dullard (Toni Collette), and they can't get along; 2) The grandmother (Shirley MacLaine) offers wisdom yet has issues to be resolved by the end; 3) Men are objects of ridicule and backdrops to the movie. To say that I will avoid this movie is to be understating the case. I may end up setting fire to all the prints.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Stand by for more Trek ... Engage.

Why didn't anyone tell me that the special edition DVD of Star Trek: Insurrection came out Tuesday? In fact, it did so without any hoopla that I know of. First Contact had plenty of fanfare several months ago, but then again it was a much better film.

My Insurrection review way back in '98 was a lot more positive than I remember, and I wouldn't rank the film as high in the Star Trek universe as I did at the time. On the flip side, it's also not nearly as bad as generally regarded by critics and serious Trek fans.

Since then I've become more and more annoyed by Data, and this is just one more "Data malfunctions" Trek film. We've discussed this before, and I stand by it: Any time a Data-specific TNG show comes on, I turn the channel.

You know what does make this movie worth appreciating? Non-Trek heroine Donna Murphy. What a knockout. And those eyes? Big brown saucers I could stare at until she files a restraining order, and even then I'd risk jail time.

Anyway, I got the DVD at Best Buy this afternoon, and it seems that this was a half-assed job in at least one way. The only commentary is text by master Trekkie Michael Okuda, who has done several others. No commentary by director Jonathan Frakes (who did it for First Contact earlier) or the producers, as previous special editions were better for it.

The DVD does not skimp, however, in production extras. I'm not sure why five minutes is wasted on Kissy the llama, but there's plenty of time spent on design, locations and the like. Plus, interviews with Donna Murphy. Have I mentioned that I want her to be my Sweet Baboo?

Driving me crazy

Previously on What Is Jeff Thinking?, … we listened in on my thoughts at the grocery store and the gym.

Today, something near and dear to my enigmatic heart: Jeff's thoughts while driving, the place where I usually get "it" out of my system, at the expense of everyone around me:

"Let's get this out in the open: None of y'all are going fast enough."

“Hey, she’s cute. Wonder if she saw me smile at her. Hey, she’s leaning out the window, I wonder if she’s motioning for me to meet her at the next exit? Oh, wait, nope, she’s throwing up.”

“Sure, you should live every day like it's your last, but I don't think that means actively pursuing a course to ensure it is your last day.”

"Do you have enough ladders on top of your van? Are you sure ten will cut it?"

"Is that a cop? ... Good, my heart is beating again. And I was going the speed limit. May need new Underoos, though"

"I'll give Mississippi credit, their roads are terrible but they keep the median freshly mowed. Tennessee never touches their medians and puts up signs calling it a "wildflower project.' Right, just like not dusting my apartment ever is an 'allergy classification.'"

"You know a good rule of thumb? Not starting multi-car accidents. I'm averse to that whole dying thing."

"Geez, frackin' Louise, if these Kentucky roads were any bumpier I'd need a saddle."

"Aw, man, Diet Coke with Splenda tastes like Coke mixed with Old Spice. Yuck."

"You want to drive in the left lane, be aware of your responsibilities: 1) Travel faster than everyone behind you. 2) Should No. 1 not apply, kindly skooch over a lane. 3) If you don't do No. 2, don't get upset when I flash my high beams and/or glare at you when passing on the right."

"What a shock, that car with the Kerry bumper sticker is veering so far to the left as to almost be off the main road. There's a metaphor for the Democrat Party for you."

"From the author of So, You Almost Caused A Major Traffic Wreck comes a heartwarming tale for the ages: Don't Use That Blinker, It Might Sting You!"

"I can't believe people still pick up hitchhikers. At best, your car smells like Rosie O'Donnell's feet for three days. At worst, you're a sensationalized story that people get tired of on the 'Nancy Grace' show."

"What's better than to pull up to a red light next to a car of cute girls with the windows down and the radio blasting Extreme's 'More than Words'?"

Friday, June 10, 2005

Unfortunately, I know where I stand

I have found something to watch this summer besides the new season of “Battlestar Galactica” in July: The WB reality show "Beauty and the Geek".

It’s not a dating show, but a culture clash in which both a group of dorks and a group of princesses partner up to learn from each other in challenges, the former about dancing and music and the like, and the latter about history and science and such.

This week the guys nearly fainted having to learn the art of massage (touch a girl? eek!), and the girls had to check the oil, change the oil filter and change one tire of a car. The winners choose which two teams have to compete in the elimination round at the end of the show.

At first I thought the show would spend an hour making fun of everyone (it is created by Ashton Kutcher of “Punk’d” fame, after all), but it’s pretty sweet. There are some humiliations, but nothing embarrassing just to be cruel. The girls are nice, less snooty than I expected, the geeks are dorky but once that awkward shell is open they learn confidence – albeit an itsy bit at a time.

In fact, I was more afraid when one of the geeks said D-Day was in 1942 than the beauty who thought that was the date Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

Fortune favors the dolt

Today's fortune cookie: "You will soon bring joy to someone."

Yeah, that could mean a lot of things.

For instance, it might suggest I will save a little girl from a dump truck careening onto the sidewalk.

Or - and this is much more likely - it might portend that I will tumble ass over tea kettle in the newsroom while a group of tourists above in the overlook get a good laugh.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Kibbles and bits

- The NBA Finals start tonight, marking the 15th year in a row I haven’t watched more than five minutes of any game. Well, that’s not entirely true. There was a time in the late 90s when I napped after Escape to Witch Mountain and woke up during the third quarter, and I couldn't find the remote so I just watched the rest of the game.

- Headline of the day - Studies: Cynicism Starts Young and Sarcasm Is Complex. Wow? Really? That’s some brilliant research. I hope they spent millions of dollars on it.

- Hey, my SuperCuts card finally filled up so I can get a free fancy do! Only took seven years! At this rate, I look forward to my free Jiffy Lube oil change in 2018 and I should get a free six-inch Subway sandwich around 2009.

Experts Say Wormholes, Time Machines Unreliable. Good thing Warp drive is so dependable for short trips.

- Before you believe the media’s righteous indignation over Guantanamo Bay, read this column by Michelle Malkin.

- A woman who had slathered herself with suntan oil escaped an attacker in a park restroom in part because she was too slippery for him to grab , authorities said. Big deal. Really, what guy hasn’t experienced this every time they try to pick up women? No? Just me?

- Runaway bride Jennifer Wilbanks appeared in court to answer to two counts of getting uglier after this stressful ordeal and the judge admonished her fiancĂ© for "not running away like an antelope from a frackin’ cheetah."

- Combining the best components of low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets could be the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off, a leading obesity expert said on Thursday. Cool, so if for lunch I eat a Lean Cuisine frozen meal and four sausages, with an Atkins shake for dessert and top it off with Jell-O and whipped cream, I'll lose weight? Sweet.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Your Fairy Godmother would approve

We don't get a shot of Russell Crowe wearing glass slippers, but Cinderella Man is good nonetheless.

Carnival of the Jeffies

Today’s fortune cookie says, “You are strongly tuned in to those around you.” Seems like a good time, then, to check and see what my family and friends are blogging:

- Scott is quoting St. Dionysius the Areopagite. I would like to point out that I can’t pronounce two of those words.

- My heartfelt condolences go out to sis-in-law, Jenn, as her father passed away yesterday. She remembers his life fondly.

- Stacy’s counting down the hours until the new Harry Potter book comes out. I can’t even finish the HMO pamphlet on male, um, “concerns,” so who knows how long it will take to read that behemoth.

- Steve hasn’t updated since his caption contest, but at least his lovely and generous wife mentions me! Yay me!

- Lucky guy he is, Brent took his new squeeze to her first Redbirds game. After all the sausage and cheese he ate there, I hope they weren’t hanging out long afterwards.

- Down in Oxford, Miss., Jenn M. is awash in an online music game of which I have no idea how to do. But I do know that if you have to list an artist starting with a D, forget the Doors and go with Devo! “Whip it!” indeed!

- The Big W, Wally, went all flash on us with fancy web development classes.

- When she’s not ripping me off (*wink), Julie is being written about for her cooking skills, and don’t forget her and Wally’s cozy puff piece a while back.

- Now that he has a fiancĂ©e, John’s blog is nearly dead to us. Brent, don’t you join him in the lovey-dovey non-blogging abyss!

- Looking back seven years ago to the beginning of he and Leah’s relationship, Eric actually admits he was kind of an ass. First steps and all.

You talkin' to me?

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

- What do you get when you mix poison ivy with a four-leaf clover? A rash of good luck.
- I wrecked my car last week. I’m OK, but my car had an auto body experience.
- What are the odds Muslims would allow a prisoner to keep a Bible?
- Sticker seen on a motorcycle policeman’s tag: “Smile, I could be behind you.”
- Shopping math: A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs. A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn’t need.
- You know your family is getting boring when the buzz around the house is that you bought a new Crystal Light flavor.
- Forbidden fruit creates many jams.
- Where do birds live while they are building new nests?
- My mother, who is in her 80s, bought me two shirts, so I made sure to wear one of them when I visited her recently. Her reaction? "What's the matter? You didn't like the other shirt?"
- I'm not bitter, just half-happy.
- So what do you suppose appeared over Edison's head when he thought up the light bulb?
- I was wondering where the sun went at night, then it dawned on me.
- Mark Felt is no hero. A hero is brave and stands up for his beliefs. All Felt wanted was his paycheck, his pension and revenge for being passed over. Having gotten all that, he then hid for 30 years.
- The older I get, the dumber young people get.
- Honey, I'd like to do something about my balding, but with all the money I'm spending on your shampoo, conditioner, hair dye, hair gel, hair spray, exfoliants, body lotion, self-tanner, Slim-Fast, skin firmers, makeup and lipstick, there's no money left to buy Rogaine.

Vents I Sent:

- Atlanta: Where blinkers are for suckers.
- I would rather have fought for Terri Schiavo than live in England where socialized medicine demands you aren’t fed even if you asked for it.
- While we’re celebrating government whistleblowers who took on presidents, where’s the love for Linda Tripp?
- The problem with being a single guy in Atlanta is that all the single women think they should be dating guys as hot as their cutest friends do.
- So the European Union constitution has been rejected by two of three countries that put it up to public vote. Maybe that will flush the group into the EUrinal of history.
- Why do I get the feeling that the left-wingers advocating stem cell research would barricade themselves in front of animal research facilities even if it meant curing the same diseases?
- Clinton did try to feed the North Koreans in the 90s, but naturally Kim Jong Il, being a dictator, used it to build nuclear weapons and let his people starve.
- If the Guantanamo Bay guard accused of urinating on the Koran had just claimed it was art, he would have gotten a grant and a display in New York.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Smile! Say "Jeff is the bestest picture-taker ever!"

I have pictures! Check out two pages of fun, from last weekend at my sisters' homes and a few weekends back in Chapel Hill.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Do you hear the people sing?

My mini-vacation is over, and it's time to turn over the Etch-A-Sketch and start anew. (Pictures soon.) It was one of several summer trips planned, meaning there's plenty of time for my family to get tired of me mooching their food and cool gadgets.

I got back late Sunday night, and spent today catching up on what I missed. You know, government coups, new Pauly Shore movie, stuff like that.

I had a note from UPS saying that I had a package waiting for me at the apartment leasing office. The guy grabbed the first one he saw with my apartment number and I left. When I got to my car I thought, "Hmm, this doesn't seem like the right shape for the gift I got Patrick and Julie for Eli's birth." Sure enough, nearly six months after my package was lost or misplaced at the leasing office, the Boston Globe World Series edition and Sports Illustrated World Series edition were now in my hands. I went back in, and yep, there was another package for me, the gift for Eli. I don't have many guesses about what happened to the package in the months since, but the specks of dirt and four-leaf clover provide a hint.

Next stop was the locksmith. After last week's failure to find a place to open my little safe to retrieve my passport, this time it took approximately thirty seconds for the guy to make two new keys for the safe. I'm sure a crook breaking into my apartment wouldn't be able to open it that easily.

Rule No. 1 when spending a day on errands: Always build in extra time. The locksmith was too easy, and Target was a breeze since they actually open extra lines when crowded, but then came Walgreens. Their digital picture computer wouldn't read compact flash cards, so the picture lady offered to transfer my photos to CD since that worked on the computer. That took fifteen minutes, and then when I was editing a picture the computer froze. I paid for the CD (three dollars) and will try again later.

Then came the Post Office to mail Eli's gift to Alabama. When I walked in, the line was about three people long. Not bad, with three workers behind the counter. By the time I found an envelope the right size for the gift and addressed it, the line had grown to six people. It wouldn't move again for ten whole minutes. Things just get curioser and curioser as the workers fumbled for forms and packages in the back, and I got tired of playing games on my BlackBerry. Finally, another worker told me she could help me out at another counter.

I started my run at 12:30 and planned to finish it at 3 o'clock when Cinderella Man started. When I left Target it was 1:30, and I walked to the ticket counter right at 3, meaning simple trips to Walgreens and the Post Office, less than two miles apart, took well over an hour. I had also hoped to fit in a trip to the driving range, but that was out, especially when the thunderstorms hit during the movie. I couldn't tell at first if all the thunder was in the picture, but I realized it wasn't when the scene was a sunny day and we could hear thunder and the rain pounding the roof above.

How to finish? A Publix grocery run to check out the, uh, goods (I mean cute women, of course), then home to see the Red Sox play St. Louis. Boston was routed. Welcome home, me!

But I'm not done. We're reading, we're reading ... please keep up with the tour, folks ... let's review the weekend.

Thursday night after work I drove straight to Chapel Hill and the comfy bed at Mom-Mom and Granddad's, who were long asleep, of course. Friday I woke up, packed up, said hey and bye and Mom and I drove up to Louisville.

For the first time since visiting my sisters in the Louisville area, I stayed with Stephanie and Bill instead of Stacy and Joe. I totally became "that guy" who sponges off the cool stuff his family has. In this case, I mean Bill and Steph's X-Box, playing Lego Star Wars until the wee hours. The game is kid-friendly since there is no blood and when Jedi or droids are destroyed they simply break apart into Legos, but it's fun to play, can be darn difficult at times, and watching Yoda bounce around with that lightsaber blazing is a joy to control.

It's even more fun to watch Gabriel playing. He gets very animated, and jumps up and down whether he's winning or losing. He doesn't say his guys are dead, either, but it's "game over." During our cookout Saturday night, after he and his friend Gabriel couldn't get past the pod race, I took the controls to give it a shot. With every checkpoint I passed he would jump and holler, my very own cheerleader, and I got to be cool Uncle Jeff. Later I was Incredible Nerd Jeff, staying up until 2:30 a.m. to finish all three Episodes (with an assist from Bill), getting to see Padme deliver twin Legolings, and Darth Vader go all Lego Evil. So cute!

Speaking of Bill, I commend Stephanie for marrying a tall person and ensuring showerheads at their home will actually be high enough. I'm not not saying that Joe is a pipsqueak, by any means, just that Bill has lived in a world where showerheads only go up to your man boobs.

I forgot my deodorant, though, so I used Steph's Lady Speed Stick. Don't worry, sis, I licked off my armpit hairs. And it smells so dainty fresh!

The point of the trip wasn't the X-Box, of course, but we were going to get some culture! Mom, Stacy, Stephanie and me made a pact last year to see "Les Miserables" when it came to town, and we attended the 2 p.m. Saturday matinee showing. Don't worry, it's the same during the day. The theater turns out the lights and everything.

The Kentucky Center is smaller than I've been used to in The Orpheum (Memphis) and Fox Theater (Atlanta) , in every way. Those seats were tiny. If the armrests vibrated at least they could have worked out my love handles, but that didn't fix the wedge in my butt. Thus, I can only guess that God likes me and condones my fatness. How else to explain the empty seats to my left? It happens a lot at ballgames, too. Sure, I can get thinner, but I can't get shorter, and the leg room at every one of these arenas is like if you shorties had to squeeze in a cardboard box to watch an entertainment event.

As for thoughts on the performance, it was excellent as always but with a few negative thoughts. My girl, Eponine. wasn't as good as the last time I saw the show, but maybe I'm spoiled by her Broadway and London predecessors. Her voice wasn't high enough for a screeching scream like we should hear when her dad's gang is trying to break into Valjean's home.

Apparently, my sisters and mother bawled a few times in the tragic musical. The part that always gets me - I mean, when my allergies always seem to act up - is at the end when Valjean sings that to love is to see the face of God. Stacy calls me a helpless romantic, which, you know, is fitting.

One thing I learn from traveling a lot is that every city's sports talk radio has a focus special to the area. For instance, on Sunday mornings in Memphis you'll here a show about duck hunting. In Louisville they talk about horse racing. Back home in Atlanta, the focus is on shooting rats in landfills. To each their own, is all I'm sayin'.

Sunday, back home via Tennessee and through two time changes.

1:30 p.m. EDT - Left Jeffersonville
4:30 p.m. CDT - Arrived in Chapel Hill, had dinner with Mom, visited with Aunt Lynn and Mom-Mom and Granddad
6:30 p.m. CDT - Left Chapel Hill
11 p.m. EDT - Arrived in Atlanta
11:01 p.m. EDT - Crashed on the futon

My baby got some bad gas at the Pilot on exit 6 in Kentucky (pump six), and hiccuped all the way through Tennessee when I was between 75 and 80 mph, but I stopped in Adairsville, Georgia and re-filled the tank with sweet BP crude. I think the cool British gas soothed my aching Aztek, and for myself I went next door for a strawberry milkshake at Burger King that promises to do to my stomach what the Pilot gas did to the car.

The curtain's down on a long, pleasurable weekend of travel, so let's focus on what's important in summertime: Bitching about the heat and humidity, complaining about working while it's nice out, worrying about being too fat for the pool/beach, and seeing movies that are too loud and inconceivable. Good thing I'm such an optimist or I'd never make it, eh?

Like taking candy from a baby

I don’t have any quips for this one; I thought it was fun and felt like sharing: Sixty percent of U.S. employees who put out a candy dish got a raise last year, compared with 49 percent who didn't, a new survey finds. The survey also found candy dish owners were more likely to get a bonus during the past year -- 43 percent -- than those who forego a candy dish in the office -- 37 percent.

The profile of the typical candy dish owner that emerged from the survey was that most are women (69 percent), married, Republican (who wants the granola bars left by hippie Dems anyway?), at least 35 years old and are pet lovers. They are also usually organized, satisfied with their job, loyal to their employer and likely to socialize with co-workers outside of work.

Of course, Howard Dean isn't buying any of this. No, the DNC chair has decided that Republicans "have never made an honest living in their lives."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

FYI

As of Thursday after work I'm off on a long weekend to Louisville via Chapel Hill - to pick up Mom - to see "Les Miserables" with my sisters and mother on Saturday. Plenty of time to play with my nephews, too, before heading back to Atlanta late Sunday. Monday is a good day to rest, see a movie and play some golf without all the usual crowds.