Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Carnival of the Jeffies

I don’t know why, but I’ve felt anxious all day, like I’m hunkered down with Jack Bauer in a Flank Two Position.

Since y’all know that’s not how I roll in this carefree life of leisure that I lead, I’m thinking it’s lack of sleep, combined with a readiness to get out of Atlanta at 6 o’clock and get up to Tennessee. I have a feeling once I’m on the road, with the sunroof open, radio blaring and a phone call from darling Valerie, I’ll be in high spirits again.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the inspiration to write anything today, so I apologize, especially since I’m going to be out of town the next couple of days, recharging my batteries. Maybe I’ll have something to add from Nana’s tomorrow afternoon before I go to Jackson to pick up Valerie and drive up towards Nashville to meet Mom for dinner. For some reason, this doesn’t make me nervous at all. I guess ‘cause I’m the only one who will know everyone there well. Watching Rudy Seanez come into a game the Red Sox are leading? THAT makes me nervous.

In the meantime, let's take a look at see what my family and friends are blogging ...

- Scott has a post about his class in Latin this summer, but since I’m only kind of sure that’s another language or something, I’ll scroll down to his X-Men 3 post. I kept wondering how, if there were so many mutants at the Xavier school and protesting the “cure,” only six showed up to take a last stand against Magneto, two or three of whom we really didn’t know or care about. Also, I’d like to make my mutant power be arms that never get tired when around your sweetheart at the movie, ballgames, etc.

- Stacy is wishing she could throw a tantrum because Nate’s turned psycho. Considering Mom says he reminds her of me at that age, I would like to apologize to my loving, patient mommy here in public.

- Steve is ruing not taking many photos lately for the website, though he keeps sending me close-ups of his armpits and feet via his Sidekick. (Okay, I made that up.)

- Kimberly does have pictures on her site, though perhaps with more skin than I’d put on my own site. Really, that horse needs a saddle!

- Julie has pictures, too, of the naked sunset from the Memphis in May Sunset Symphony and the winners of the Spice Girls Look-Alike Competition.

- I agree with Tim that it’s nice to see the Rockies have embraced Christianity, but I draw the line at putting favorite verses on protective cups.

- Eric has the itch to buy a motorcycle. No word on if this means Leah has to go by “hot mamma” from now on.

- Jenn M. should probably be turned in for condoning the torture of cabbage patch dolls. My Little Ponys and their elitist smirks? Not so much.

- Mark is writing about having diabetes, and I have no sweet jokes about this.

- Misawa’s on an anti-illegal immigration kick, though some would call it hypocrisy considering his Siberian bride.

- Semaj has the footage of Pat Robertson’s leg presses for Jesus, all 666 of them.

- Amy wants to know what’s up with the name Shiloh Nouvelle Jolie Pitt. I say Amy will burn in the cleansing fires when Shiloh saves the world!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wicked smart

Spent the evening playing trivia at Tijuana Joe's with Amy Christopher, her hubby Michael and his friend Mike. We finished second this time, a step down from my last participation. Not that I was a detriment to the team, but at least I knew Warren Harding was president for the Teapot Dome scandal, so that I got that going for me.

To wrap:
- Possibly stoned server who is a student at Georgia Tech and the only English-speaking member of the staff, not Michael's favorite.
- Michael had to correct me on Vilnius as the capital of Lithuania, not Latvia, even though I am a huge Hunt for Red October fan.
- We finished second to a group called "The Old People" when Amy couldn't come up with the name of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" author until after we turned in our answer for the final question. Hey, I knew John Gray wrote "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus," and actually admitted I own it.
- I almost got us in trouble by texting Val to say hi and reading her response, forgetting others might think I was cheating. (I don't care. Totally worth it.)
- Some guy kept asking people at other tables for their answers, as if we were just handing out correct answers to random strangers.
- You know the questions are getting hard when an answer is astatine.


Along the way I filled up my tank to get ready for tomorrow's drive to Tennessee and went through the coolest car wash ever. You pull your car so that your left wheels fit onto a conveyer belt and put your car in neutral. The belt pulls the car along at the whatever speed is necessary for the wash. It's awkward, since you really want to hit the brakes or steer the wheel, but if you let it go naturally, you pop out at the end clean and undamaged. You know, like dating. (Hi, I'm Jeff, I have a one-track mind at the moment. Please move on.)

Tooncinator

This one's for Oxford Jenn:

Just for that, I'm not eating the cookie

Today's backhanded compliment fortune cookie: "You are capable of extremely hard work and dedication."

Note the capable, meaning, "if you stop linking to every single pseudo-trailer on the web and/or stop driving to Tennessee every other day to see your honey."

And that's all I've got for today. Sorry to waste your time.

Brought to you by the new motto here at Thanks for Noticing Me:

You’ve read it, you can’t unread it!

Monday, May 29, 2006

RIP, Principal Vernon

Paul Gleason, who played the go-to bad guy in Trading Places and the angry high school principal in The Breakfast Club, has died. He was 62.



As the hard-knuckled principal in Breakfast Club, he provided us all advice to live by:

"You ought to spend a little more time trying to do something with yourself and a little less time trying to impress people."

Random Gleason trivia: Before becoming an actor, he played Triple-A minor league baseball for a handful of clubs in the late 1950s.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Jeff's Untitled Movie Project

A few years ago I came up with a drama that will knock the socks off, or at least replace the lost ones in the dryer, of any Oscar contender, and with movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the upcoming Lake House getting viewers to suspend disbelief a teeny little bit, now's the time.

I figure I should post the idea here just for copyright purposes, in case any film big wig wants to see it and buy the idea from me for hundreds of thousands of dollars so I can finally order my own robot butler like in Rocky.

Here's the idea ....

A young man, fresh out of college, high on life and starting a successful career. Let's say he just started working at a cable news network. You know, for kicks.

One day he meets a mysterious stranger (I'm priming Morgan Freeman for the part) who gives the young man - whom we'll dub J.W., for no reason - a slip of paper with a bank account number and says there is $5 million in there.

BUT, there is a catch. Once you dip into the account, you have one year to live.

Initially skeptical, J.W. treats the idea like a Nigerian email scam. Friends and family scratch their heads and ask him to at least check it out, but he doesn't pursue the mystery account, and hides the paper away in a safety box at home.

Fast forward thirty years. Our protagonist is in dire straits. He lost his job, his wife has cancer and he has a lot of debts. After a painstaking musical sequence, J.W. is on the computer, looking at the bank account number on the paper.

Stunned at actually seeing an account set up in his name with $5 million in it, he decides it's worth the risk to dip into the account.

The next day he's approached by Freeman - who looks the same - and is reminded that because J.W. has dipped into the account, he has 365 days to live. J.W. is curious, but laughs it off, since surely there's nothing to it.

Ten months later, everything is fine again. J.W. has a good job, his bills are paid, his wife's cancer is in remission, but the clock is ticking and the calendar advances to a day with a question mark circled in red.

The end is ambiguous. We see J.W. the last day, but we don't know if he lives or dies. It's up to audience to decide if he died or if it was a life lesson and he survives. Either way, J.W. is resigned to either fate, and is thankful for the gift he was given, a la Kevin Spacey in American Beauty.

The money isn't what's important, it's just the MacGuffin, a Rorschach test to see what the audience would do in the lead's place. How tempted are you? How desperate do you get that you take the money? Would you risk it early in life? Would you wait until you're old and ready for one last hurrah? Throw the paper away in the first place?

Sox make things interesting. Please don't do it again.

Since I don't imbibe alcohol, perhaps drunken Kermit can express how I felt watching the ninth inning of the Red Sox game just now:



Boston was cruising, up 5-0 after eight. Then in comes Rudy Seanez to walk three batters, Julian Tavarez two more, tosses a pitch to the backstop, the Devil Rays end up scoring three runs without a hit and then the last play of the game was a base hit that scored a run before Joey Gathright was thrown out at the plate attempting to score the tying run. Final score: Boston 5, Tampa Bay 4.

Oh vey.

A win's a win, though, right? Right?

I'll pick myself off the floor now and go to work.

UPDATE 6:50 - Seems fitting that Barry Bonds hit No. 715 and the Giants lost. Kind of like how, should A-Fraud break Hank Aaron's record, it will come with the Yankees up 15-2 on the Royals in the ninth inning of a September game when the Yankees had clinched the playoffs two weeks earlier.

UPDATE 11:00 - This certainly explains a lot of why what happened today did: Mike Timlin went on the DL. Good thing Angelina Jolie had her and Brad Pitt's miracle baby, 'cause we need our new savior now more than ever!

More classic Saturday Night Live

Back when it was funny ... the Bad Idea Jeans ad from 1990:

[ open on group of guys sitting on a bench on a basketball court, laughing ]

Guy #1: Hey, we've got our apartment. We ripped up the floors, pipes, wiring, and having everything completely redone.

Guy #2: You're renting, right?

Guy #1: Yeah.

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

Guy #3: Well, he's an ex free-base addict, and he's trying to turn around, and he needs a place to stay for a couple of months.

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

Guy #1: [ tosses bottle to Guy #2 ] Head's up!

Guy #4: Now that I have kids, I feel a lot better having a gun in the house.

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

[ close-up of the jeans they're wearing, the label reads: BAD IDEA JEANS ]

Guy #3: I thought about it, and even though it's over, I'm going to tell my wife about the afffair.

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

[ more shots of BAD IDEA jeans ]

Guy #5: I don't know the guy, but I've got two kidneys and he needs one, so I figured..

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

Guy #2: Normally I wear protection, but then I thought, "When am I gonna make it back to Haiti?"

[ image on screen: BAD IDEA ]

Announcer: Bad Idea Jeans.

[ shows a group of tough looking basketball players on the court ]

Guy #1: Hey, you guys ready? Let's bet these guys! A hundred bucks.. make that two hundred! Two hundred bucks!

[ fade to image on screen: BAD IDEA JEANS ]

[ fade out ]

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memorial Day driving

I don't mean to be an alarmist, but did the Rapture happen this morning and we missed it? (I say "we" since if you're reading this then obviously you shouldn't have said "butt" this morning, you sinner.)

Isn't traffic on the Saturday before Memorial Day supposed to be extremely heavy? It wasn't. My drive from Memphis to Atlanta this afternoon was so light as to be insignificant. Where'd everyone go?

So yeah, anyway, I'm back in Atlanta until Wednesday night when I head back to Tennessee and my darling Valerie. Maybe I'll actually squeeze out a post or two before fleeing again, eh? Stay tuned!

UPDATE 11:30 p.m. - Anyone want to participate in the Great Jeff Blog Purge Of 2006? I know some of Valerie's co-workers found my blog, and I'm starting to wonder if her family has done it, too, so who wants to read my entire blog history and let me know if there's any incriminating evidence on there? Anyone? Hello? I'm a clean-cut guy, right? Nothing there? No cursing, no naughty talk, right? Why does this make me nervous?

UPDATE 12:09 p.m. Sunday - This past trip, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I drove from Atlanta to Jackson to Memphis to Jackson to Memphis to Atlanta, for a total of 1,061.8 miles. At this rate I'll have to change my oil every three weeks!

By the way, that STP fuel injector pixie dust really works. My last drive up I noticed my car stuttering at high speeds, so I put in some of that super-duper cleaner and no problems yesterday. Now, if only it would sprout wings on my car so I could make the trip faster and with less resistance from other people who claim they have "places to go." Obviously they don't and they're in my way to be vindictive and keep me from my lovely darling dearest Valerie.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Venty goodness

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

- I put one of those Staples’ Easy buttons on my wife’s nightstand. It didn’t work.
- Three things I never, ever thought I’d buy at the store: a bottle of water, a bag of dirt and a pallet of rocks.
- There’s another thing I never thought I’d buy: a bag of manure.
- I’m worried about myself. Both Playboy and Golf Digest arrived in the mail today, and I looked through the Golf Digest first.
- President Bush is having trouble with his generals. Clinton only had trouble with his privates.
- Has anyone tried making ethanol out of kudzu? The South could rise again.
- I’m not usually one to brag about a new product, but Coke Zero sure does live up to its name.
- Conveniently, Rep. Kennedy cannot remember anything about the evening of his wreck except that he wasn’t drinking and he didn’t ask for any special favors.
- Just how pleased is punch?
- Dubya doesn’t want to read Iran’s letter because it is full of Democratic talking points.
- My daughter and son-in-law went to a financial consultant. Upon learning about her husband’s 401(k), lump sum retirement and other assets for the first time, she asked, “Honey, how can I spend money I didn’t know we have?”
- Has anyone else noticed that erratic driving causes cellphone use?
- A Douglasville police officer gave me a ticket for “failure to yield right away.” From now on, I’ll be yielding much faster.
- If you believe the Mother’s Day ads, there are no moms over 21 or larger than size 8.
- I can’t see an advantage to building a wall unless they stop making ladders.
- With all the recent concerns in Florida about alligators and tourism, I guess Jeb will ask his brother for some federal gator-aid.
- Bush is blasted daily for his 35 percent approval rating while a judge sneers at 75 percent of Georgia voters and is treated as a hero for favoring gay marriage.
- A local TV news reader reported that ex-deputy Patrick Cuffy was recovering from a gunshot wound in the Virgin Islands. What part of the body is the Virgin Islands?
- My boss reads the Vent at breakfast every morning. I’d love to take this opportunity to let him know what a jerk he is.
- People in public greatly overestimate my interest in their cellphone conversations.
- Throwing cigarette butts out the window to keep the car from smelling bad is almost as bad as relieving oneself in the yard to keep the bathroom clean.
- My friend told his wife he was going to give her something for her birthday that went from zero to 200 in a couple of seconds. She thought it was a sexy sports car. It was a bathroom scale.
- I finally figured out what is wrong with the weather. We’re actually having spring this year.
- Never tell someone that they don’t have a sense of humor, especially if they don’t have a sense of humor.

Vents I Sent:

- Anyone else notice that the same people angry about exporting American jobs to Mexico are just fine with Mexicans taking many of the same American jobs in the U.S.?
Everyone on the left is for a free Tibet, but no one's for freeing Tibet. Why would they do anything for Sudan? (Stolen from Mark Steyn)
- Above average intelligence has always run in my family. Ambition, however, has always walked with a limp. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- Whoever said money can't buy happiness doesn't know where to shop. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine. (Courtesy Grif.net)
- Five out of four people have trouble with fractions. (Courtesy Grif.net)

Jeff note: No, apparently I was not feeling particularly original this week.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Please Reply All

Just so you know, I, uh, yeah, um, *cough*, I'm driving to Tennessee in the morning. *cough*

Then again, y'all might have been more surprised had I not driven over on my weekend. Doing it again next weekend, too, since after next Friday we won't see each other for a full month (I know!) due to my most excellently planned vacation with Dad in much of June.

Meanwhile, in the email servers of Turner Broadcasting ... You know how someone at work will send an email to the entire office, and one person hits Reply All, and then someone else gets all uppity and hits Reply All to say not to Reply All? I have approximately 75 emails in my box right now. The first dozen are all making fun of the first guy to get uppity. The next dozen are clueless and humorless people who aren't getting the joke and still ask not to hit Reply All. From then on, people are laughing at the clueless people, looking for lunch dates, talking about American Idol and placing bets on when the chain will stop. It's actually been the best part of my day at work to follow the development.

UPDATE 11:04 p.m. - After all the talk today, Taylor winning was about the least surprising thing to ever happen. On the other hand, over on ABC, I watched Lost over the phone with Valerie, and about the only thing we could muster at the end was, "Whaaaaa?????"

Today's fortune cookie

"You will enjoy doing something different this coming weekend."

Considering this is the first weekend in three weeks I'm not driving up to Tennessee, I guess it will be different. Wonder why I'll be doing that I'll enjoy? Play some golf? See a movie or two? All things considered, I'd rather be doing something in Tennessee, which is a guarantee I'd enjoy. (Did I mention that today is the one-month anniversary of our first date?)


  • Ladies, do you wonder why men don't ask for directions? For one thing, you could get arrested:
    Baltimore City police arrested a Virginia couple over the weekend after they asked an officer for directions.

    WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team reporter David Collins said Joshua Kelly and Llara Brook, of Chantilly, Va., got lost leaving an Orioles game on Saturday. Collins reported a city officer arrested them for trespassing on a public street while they were asking for directions .

    "In jail for eight hours -- sleeping on a concrete floor next to a toilet," Kelly said.

    "It was a nightmare," Brook said. "I was in there thinking I was just dreaming and waiting to wake up."
    (Hat tip: OpinionJournal.com.)

  • From the Letterman show, "Top Ten Signs the Government Is Spying on You":

    10. Post office wall has several photos of you sleeping

    9. Your houseplant occasionally sneezes

    8. Domino's keeps delivering to unmarked van parked across the street

    7. Birthday card from your mom has several words blacked out

    6. You get nominated for "Outstanding Lead Performance in an NSA Surveillance Video"

    5. Your dishwasher functions are "Wash," "Rinse" and "Record"

    4. Local news only reporting things that happen in your living room

    3. Every time you say goodbye on the phone, you hear a strange voice say, "Roger that, Chico"

    2. You googled a recipe for humus and the FBI raided your house

    1. Suddenly discover there's an antenna bolted to your ass

    (Hat tip: Media Research Center.)
  • Last chance for a good impression

    I know this was a competiton, but didn't tonight seem like a "best of" night for American Idol finalists Katharine and Taylor?

    For their first songs, Kat was much better with that Black Tree, Cherry Horse, Mahogany Coffee Table or whatever song. Makes a big difference when she's not on her knees the entire time. Taylor followed, but I couldn't hear him over his sparkly purple jacket. The audience went crazy, though, and Paula did everything but toss her underwear on the stage.

    McPheever continued with last week's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." I still prefer the ukelele version that was played on ER as Dr. Green died a few years ago. Seriously, I was bawling. Katharine's version? Good, but not even a chill bump. Still, I was kind of impressed that she did that well when her earpiece was on the fritz.

    Taylor's second song is Elton John's "Leave On." It was alright, but nothing special. Kat wins that round. The performance didn't rise to the level of the night, I think. My favorite part? Paula telling Randy that if Taylor was pitchy it was just his style and that's okay.

    This year's official song for the winner blows, as always. It's not exactly made for Katharine, either, and that's bad news for tonight's vote. Could she lose based on the stupid Idol song? Absolutely. The part where she starts belting out as the choir appears was awful. Ear-splittingly awful. Can she blame that on a broken earpiece, too? Doubtful.

    Taylor's song starts out slow. I don't care for him during these long talky parts, which he seems to get a lot. Once the music kicks in he's fine. What's with the choirs, anyway? Is it just a gimmick for harmony, or what? Shouldn't we be listening to the top two on their own? Isn't that the point of the competition?

    Based on performances tonight, Taylor has an excellent shot. Based on overall demographics and who people would rather watch for the next year on TV, Katharine will win. My pick? Katharine.

    Doesn't it seem odd to have that "bad day" song played during the show of the top two finalists? No one has been eliminated, everyone's having a great time, why a negative song?

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    I don't even own a tux

    My big brother, Scott, wrote a long post of advice about weddings and dedicated it to me.

    I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it seems like everyone's ready to marry me off lately, and hmmmmm, I wonder why?

    100 Things About Me, 61-70

    1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 51-60 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150 | 151-160 | 141-150 | 161-170

    61. As a kid when The Wizard of Oz aired only once a year (remember that?), I would always find an excuse to leave the room when the flying monkeys came on. HATED them. I still don’t see it, although with my sisters we did see if it synced with Pink Floyd’s "Dark Side of the Moon." It does, pretty hilariously.

    62. I don't turn my clock back when visiting folks in the Central time zone. It makes me feel exotic; I'm literally in another time and place. I’m also always confused about what time it really is. Of course, now 24 hours a day I'm spinning my wheels an hour back to know what time it is in Valerie's magical land of rainbows and bunnies.

    63. Ever since I was a kid, if I’m just ultra bored and staring at my desk I’ll close my eyes and squeeze them to see cool shapes and colors fly by, noting that I can make them move by concentrating on the shape, or just let it fly past as if I'm on the observation deck of the USS Enterprise.

    64. Eating deli combos at work (sandwich, chips, two pickles and drink), I eat half the sandwich, eat a pickle, eat half the chips, eat the other half of the sandwich, eat the other half of chips, then eat the pickle to finish off the meal.

    65. Sunday mornings during church I would take the bulletin and design a golf course on it, using the text as a hazard (trees, lakes, etc.).

    66. The only countries other than the U.S. of A. that I’ve visited: Bahamas, Venezuela, Brazil, England and Scotland.

    67. Favorite season: Autumn. Least favorite: Summer. So fargin’ hot.

    68. My first car was an '86 Nova handed down by Mom. Second was a '94 Beretta after the Nova's engine seized. Now in Atlanta I got a '96 Jeep Cherokee Sport for my first planet-destroying SUV and first car bought without Dad’s guidance and credit. In January 2004 I got a Pontiac Aztek, my first brand new car and an XUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) that I had wanted for a few years. You know, just in case I ever go camping for the first time in twenty years and use the tent package. Or at least tell people I will.

    69. I’ve had asthma my entire life. As a kid I scared my parents plenty with attacks, though as an adult it’s been easier to control. I don’t even have a prescription inhaler right now, since the over-the-counter stuff works fine. When others notice that I’m wheezing I usually don’t since I’m so used to it, being that my allergies stretch far and wide. It’s not just a good excuse to get out of mowing the lawn. The last time I tried, about ten years ago to do my part as a man, I wheezed for two weeks and had to go to the hospital.

    70. I reach up and hit "Exit" signs and other high things just to show off that I'm 6'4" and taller than most everyone around me.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Let my people go. And get busy!

    This one's right up there with the The Shining and Sleepless in Seattle.

    A new trailer from the "what if" school: The Ten Commandments as a modern high school romantic comedy:

    Weekend O' Joy

    A photo journey of my weekend with Valerie in Memphis.

    Friday night we went to the Redbirds game. Pretty decent seats considering we just walked up ten minutes to game time. Interestingly enough, it turns out that one of her uncles was the usher for the next section over.



    All smiles despite the Redbirds losing 7-0 after two, and 11-0 by the seventh inning.



    As it became clear the Redbirds weren't going to challenge the Portland Beavers anytime soon, we walked across the street and went up to the roof of the Peabody hotel.



    Steve joined us and provided some mood music, "Safety Dance" by Men Without Hats.



    The world was ours for the taking, and we grabbed it!



    Steve was charged with Duck Harassment, though they let him go with a small bill.



    Saturday morning we went to the Memphis Zoo to find out where the wild things are.



    Ya-Ya the panda-panda had no shortage-shortage of bamboo-bamboo.



    Valerie appropriately oohed and awed.



    It was really hot but we managed to cope with our charm and wit. And shade.



    The polar bears put on a good show of play-fighting in what looks like refreshingly cold water. (The staff wouldn't let me join in.)



    Did I mention it was hot? And that I had to wait behind three guys buying food for 12 people just to get two bottles of water?



    Saturday night we met up with fellow Union alum Tracy and her beau Craig at Macaroni Grill where we learned how to write our names upside down and measured exactly how much pasta it takes to fill a stomach. (Not much once you throw in bread and salad. Not to mention the tiramisu for dessert. *drool*)



    I didn't take any more pictures, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I met her parents Sunday, and after they didn't kick me out and drive Val to Jackson themselves I was relieved to have the all-clear to continue planning such wonderful weekends!

    UPDATE 3:47 - I should also mention that we saw The Da Vinci Code on Friday. Valerie liked it more than I did, though she's read the book. The movie's very long and there are two scenes full of important information that nonetheless dragged, and it seemed to me that Tom Hanks wasn't even necessary, merely dragged along by the plot. As for the controversy, just see it as any other Hollywood fiction. The movie presents it all as fact, but there are so many "ifs" and "couldas" that it's obvious Dan Brown is just arranging convenient facts and interesting conspiracies for the story.

    Home again

    My four-day Weekend O' Joy with Valerie dearest is finished, as I got home at 2 a.m. this morning. Seeing as how I have to be at work in nine hours, I'm going to post a teaser photo that we took when I picked her up on Thursday to begin the fun:



    I'll have MANY more pictures and a few descriptions later today.

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    [Incoherent title here]

    *The Basic Structure of Jeff's blog entries:

    Use a story from the Drudge Report to state random thesis on humanity that sounds like a rejected Seinfeld "have you ever?" joke.

    Ramble on about personal story to defend thesis using run-on sentence.

    Random pop culture joke. (Use "frackin'" somewhere.)

    Say at least one thing that will make readers cringe/feel sorry for you/get offended and threaten bodily harm, possibly at the same time.

    Self-deprecating joke, hope it inspires a "aw, you're nothing like that" comment.

    Naughty reference to the story, followed by "am I right?"

    Express astonishment that at 30, you are still unmarried.

    Hello?

    To be fair, there were muffins downstairs:
    WARWICK, R.I. -- Two Southwest Airlines flights left Baltimore Monday night bound for Rhode Island, but it was just the beginning of a back-and-forth odyssey for dozens of passengers.

    NBC 10's Audrey Laganas reported that the planes turned around in flight just before midnight. The passengers said the pilots told them they were turning back because there was no one in the control tower at T.F. Green Airport.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    Live-blogging American Idol

    Sorry, I was actually working and missed Elliott and Katharine's first performances, though from my periphery it looked like everyone enjoyed her cleavage, er, singing. I'll check the tape afterwards and get back to you on what I think. About the singing, I mean.

    The first of three performances have been selected by Arista Records founder and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Clive Davis, which has worked pretty well in the past. If anyone would know what songs fit the contestants' voices, it's this guy in the blue suede jacket. As someone who lived in Jackson, Tennessee for four years and currently visits as much as possible for an excellent reason, I'm for anyone who can pull off the blue suede (Carl Perkins in the house!).

    The Soul Patrol's up with "Dancing In The Dark," shaky for the most part. Problem is, he doesn't have enough raspiness in his voice. He needs to smoke a carton of unfiltereds on the way out for that Bruce classic. Paula, of course, brings all the attention back to her by threatening us with a wardrobe malfunction.

    8:28 - Once Paula threatens Simon with sexual harrassment, it's time for the judges to pick songs for our finalists. Paula gives Elliott some song I've never heard of. As usual, he neglects to bring my excitement level past "Watching non-Triple Crown Horse Racing." Simon says Paula's choice stunk, Randy pretends it was Elliott's fault, and Paula would like to take her meds.

    8:32 - Simon lives for 1939, so he gets Katharine to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." She's on the floor again. I don't know why. Maybe she broke a heel. Since she's big on the theatrics, she should have brought out a little dog, too. But not monkeys. HATE those monkeys. *shudder* Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, even though she's on her tush the entire time, she belts it out nicely, if not particularly memorable. I'd say my excitement level there was at "Ordering Fried Rice Instead of White Rice." Randy and Paula exclaim that Katharine was a tornado of awesomeness. Simon concurs, but he's biased, after all.

    8:40 - Randy chooses Joe Cocker's "You Are So Beautiful" for Taylor, which should at least keep down the dancing, so we've got that working for us. He's sucking on many levels by hesitating with the slower talky opening, but gets better save for the woohooing. My excitement level? "Watching MSNBC At 3 A.M." Not good, dawg. Randy lies and says he was solid, Paula took her meds in the last ten minutes and agrees, and Simon says it was awesome, and I have no idea if I'm listening to the same program anymore and maybe I slipped into a time-space continuum of another season.

    8:48 - Last song is personal choice. Elliott's going with a Ray Charles song in some other style or something. I have no clue. Sure, he's fine and all, but could he ever make you tingle with a performance? Be honest, Elliott fans. (All five of you.) If he held a concert, even you wouldn't call for an encore at the end. You'd be all, "That was nice. What a nice young man. I hope he gets a nice snack and good night's sleep tonight." My excitement level: "Buying new gym shorts." Paula tries to compliment him by saying that no one else sings like that, which most likely is because no one buys songs sung like that anymore.

    8:52 - Katharine's choice is "I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues," which I've never heard of, and is becoming a pattern this season. Funniest thing? She starts this weird dance move as the music starts, stops, kind of rewinds, and starts again as if she wasn't supposed to start until her part started. Her voice hits about 10 different keys, all on purpose, but the short black dress and knee-high boots? Excitement level: "Watching Katharine Prance About In A Short Dress." Randy's all "whatever," Paula gives a backhanded compliment about doing great last time, and Simon wishes she'd sung the first two songs last or the middle last and the first second and third first or, I don't know. No one said there'd be math.

    9:02 - Taylor continues with an Otis Redding ditty about tenderness while flailing his arms in more of a "appearing on COPS without a shirt" movement. Does anyone else get the feeling he only goes for songs that he thinks will make women swoon from Makeout Mixes on iTunes? My excitement level? "Watching regular season hockey on television."

    Meanwhile, in the montage of three songs for our finalists, Elliott definitely comes out the worst. The editor seemed to pick the worst parts of Katharine's songs, too. And yet, Taylor's montage was edited to make him look good. No, there's no conspiracy on the show where Ruben beat Clay or LaToya was booted early or Chris got knocked out last week. Don't dare suggest it.

    Stay tuned, I'll rewind the tape and see the first two performances ...

    9:08 - Davis rules more than I thought. Getting Elliott to sing "Open Arms" by Journey? Sweet. I would have thought Elliott more of a "Wheel In The Sky" kind of singer, but anyway ... not spectacular. I don't think he's really into it, straining against the stunningly awesome words that put me in a glass case of emotion. Randy's unsure, Paula's Paula and Simon says Elliott is stiff. No joke here. Swear. Excitement level: "Trying To Get A Human At Comcast's Call Center."

    9:13 - After wooing Clive with her bare, uncovered, smooth, long legs, Katharine gets "I Believe I Can Fly," a song that has been overused more than "Wind Beneath My Wings" and has got to stop. Y'all hear me? No more! Katharine doesn't even sing it that great, and I swear a couple of notes were lost in her hair and it seemed to me she forgot a few words again, though no one says so. My excitement level: "Trying To Figure Out The Extras On The DVD Of Harry Potter."

    Am I too demanding? I really wasn't blown away by anyone. Not that it's surprising, since CHRIS SHOULD STILL BE HERE AND ALL OF THIS IS A FORMALITY WHEN HE ENDS UP SELLING MORE ALBUMS AFTER THE COMPETITION. Ahem.

    See y'all next week, same Jeff time, same Jeff channel!

    Comcastic-ish

    You might remember a little over a week ago when my Extra Innings cable package was on the fritz. Even when I went to Tennessee last week and came back, same problem. I finally called Comcast yesterday to schedule an appointment, and the guy arrived this afternoon.

    Not a good sign: When the technician grabs all of my wires, laughs, and says I was the problem. Apparently the way I had the cables hooked up using an A/B switch splitter thingamajig was draining the signal from the baseball package and the music channels. This would be the same design that Comcast had posted on their website when I put it all together a year ago.

    Still, who am I to argue with success. It took about five minutes for the guy to reconfigure everything, and I'm good to go. So yeah, I'm the idiot. Fine. But as much as I'm paying them for all of this, can't they pretend that they were at fault just to make me feel better? Talk about terrible customer service.

    At least it's not Screech


    Which "Saved By The Bell" Character Are You?

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Wild Kingdom

    A Netherlands zoo kept bears and monkeys in the same area. What could possibly go wrong?
    Bears killed and ate a monkey in a Dutch zoo in front of horrified visitors, witnesses and the zoo said Monday. In the incident Sunday at the Beekse Bergen Safari Park, several Sloth bears chased the Barbary macaque into an electric fence, where it was stunned.

    It recovered and fled onto a wooden structure, where one bear pursued and mauled it to death.

    The park confirmed the killing in a statement, saying: "In an area where Sloth bears, great apes and Barbary macaques have coexisted peacefully for a long time, the harmony was temporarily disturbed during opening hours on Sunday."

    "Of course the habitats here in the safari park are arranged in such a way that one animal almost never kills another, but they are and remain wild animals," it said.

    Witness Marco Berelds posted a detailed report on the incident, including photos, on a Dutch Web site. He said one Sloth bear tried unsuccessfully to shake the monkey loose after it took refuge on the structure, built of crossing horizontal and vertical poles.

    Ignoring attempts by keepers to distract it, the bear climbed onto a horizontal pole, and, standing stretched on two legs, "used its sharp canines to pull the macaque, which was shrieking and resisting, from its perch."

    The bear then brought the animal to a concrete den, where three bears ate it.

    The zoo said it "usually wasn't possible" for keepers to intervene when an animal killed another.

    The park plans now to move the Barbary macaques _ which are large monkeys but often inaccurately called "Barbary Apes" _ to another part of the park, it said.

    Impossibly cute

    Thankfully y'all are ignoring Jeffy McSquintyeyes and focusing on the radiance that is Valerie:



    This from Friday night when she *gasp* met Dad, and yet continues to talk to me - thankfully Nana was there. (I kid, Dad!)

    If y'all were bored and hoping for a blog fix you didn't get here last weekend, well, it'll happen again this weekend, too. I'm heading back to Tennessee on Thursday, and won't return until late Sunday. And I'm giddy about it, so no apologies, but I will try to stock up on stuff to post for my loyal readers!

    Headed the right direction

    The benefits of driving north out of Atlanta last Thursday at 8 a.m. instead of south:



    It amazes me that people will sit in this commute, every day, stretching back 15 to 20 miles, all the while listening to inane local morning radio. (Yeah, that's right, I'm a satellite radio snob now. What are you gonna do about it?)

    Classic SNL

    Remember when "Saturday Night Live" was funny? I watched last week's show with Tom Hanks hosting, and couldn't make it past his monologue. The Wheel of Fortune spoof started out fine, but turned into a poor man's retread of the Celebrity Jeopardy.

    Here's a classic from when Dana Carvey hosted in '96 that hits close to home in my field of choice, TV news: Tom Brokaw's Pre-Tapes:
    Tom Brokaw: Okay, who are we up to?

    Voice of Producer: Uh.. we're still on Presidents. Gerald Ford.

    Tom Brokaw: Gerald Ford? Well, he's in good shape..

    Voice of Producer: Just covering our bases, Tom. You never know..

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. [ graphic of Gerald Ford, "1913-1996" appears over Tom's left shoulder ] "Gerald Ford dead today at the age of 83."

    Voice of Producer: Okay, good. Annd, one for next year.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright.. [ graphic of Gerald Ford, "1913-1997" ] "Gerald Ford dead today, at age 84."

    Voice of Producer: Uh.. a little sadder.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. [ sad ] "Gerald Ford dead today.. at age 84.."

    Voice of Producer: That was good. Good.

    Tom Brokaw: Okay, what now?

    Voice of Producer: Now let's do one for if he's shot.

    Tom Brokaw: Well, what are the chances of that?

    Voice of Producer: We're just covering contingencies.

    Tom Brokaw: I mean, it just seems that Gerald Ford..

    Voice of Producer: Look - you're the one who wants to spend the whole winter in Barbados, okay? Now, we gotta be ready with something, just in case. Alright, Tom?

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. [ graphic of Gerald Ford, "1913-1996" ] "Gerald Ford shot dead today, at age 83."

    Voice of Producer: Uh.. add the word "senseless".

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. "Gerald Ford shot dead today, at the senseless age of 83."

    Voice of Producer: Um.. uh..

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. "Gerald Ford shot senselessly dead, at the age of 83."

    Voice of Producer: Good, good.. Okay, now suicide.

    Tom Brokaw: What?!

    Voice of Producer: Just read it!

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. "Gerald Ford dead today, after jupming out of an office building, senselessly."

    Voice of Producer: That's a nice touch. Okay, moving on.

    Tom Brokaw: Okay. "Gerald Ford dead today, from an overdose of crack cocaine."

    Voice of Producer: Good, good.. Next.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. [ graphic of Gerald Ford and a commuter plane ] "Stunning news from Michigan, as former President Gerald Ford was chopped into little bits by the propeller of a commuter plane."

    Voice of Producer: Good. One take.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, we got it?

    Voice of Producer: No. We've got "eaten by wolves".

    Tom Brokaw: What? Now, come on!

    Voice of Producer: Just read it!

    Tom Brokaw: Gerald Ford isn't gonna be eaten by wolves!

    Voice of Producer: Taft was.

    Tom Brokaw: Really? Taft?

    Voice of Producer: Uh.. yeah.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. [ graphic of Ford surrounded by a pair of wolves ] "Tragedy today, as former President Gerald Ford was eaten by wolves. He was delicious." Now.. now, that's just superfluous, you know?

    Voice of Producer: It's a former President, Tom. What do you say - he's not delicious?

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, fine.. what's next?

    Voice of Producer: The double story.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. [ graphic of Ford and map of France ] "A fireball destroyed France today, and Gerald Ford is dead." Now, what are the odds of that?

    Voice of Producer: Fine. We'll get Stone Phillips to do it. You know, I'm sure Stone Phillips would be thrilled to break a story like that!

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. Let's keep moving.. [ graphic of Ford and the corpse of Richard Nixon ] "Stunning news from Yorba Linda today, as Richard Nixon's corpse climbed out of his grave and strangled Gerald For to death."

    Voice of Producer: Excellent.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. [ graphic of Ford and circus lion ] "Gerald Ford was mauled senselessly by a circus lion in a convenience store."

    Voice of Producer: Good. Next.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. "Gerald Ford is dead today, and I'm gay." Now, wait a minute!

    Voice of Producer: What? That'd be a huge story - Ford
    dying, and you coming out!

    Tom Brokaw: But I'm not gay!

    Voice of Producer: Today you're not gay, you know.. but then one day you wake up, you like men, and Gerald Ford dies, and we're screwed. Everyone's hearing about it from Dan Rather!

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. what's this for?

    [ graphic of Gerald Ford and the Zimbabwee flag appears ]

    Voice of Producer: Alright, this one's for if we're invaded by
    Zimbabwee.

    Tom Brokaw: Would I still be the anchor if Zimbabwee invaded us?

    Voice of Producer: Yeah.. if you break the Gerald Ford story, you will..

    Tom Brokaw: Alright. "Hola bambe, hungala dimba Gerald Ford.. *click* *click* *click* *click* ..hola bambe, allah bumba bubba hulla humba hey."

    Voice of Producer: Very nice. Very nice. A little sadder, please.

    Tom Brokaw: Alright, alright.. [ sadly ] "Hola bambe, hungala dimba Gerald Ford.. *click* *click* ..hola bambe..."

    [ fade ]

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Trailer Park

    (By the way, I'm back in Atlanta after my couple of days in Tennessee. No other information forthcoming. Sorry.)

    If you have a decent connection, you have got to click on the high-definition trailers if given an opportunity. Amazing quality. Better than seeing the trailers on the big screen, even.

    The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford - Setting aside the longest title in the history of film, I’m pretty enthusiastic about t his western starring Brad Pitt as the outlaw and Casey Affleck as his would-be killer.

    All the King’s Men - The 1949 original won three Oscars, and it seems that the makers of this one hope for the same. Why else display the award history of every single major cast member? Sean Penn chews right through the screen as a rural politician who becomes a populist hero governor, with support from Jude Law, Kate Winslet, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Hopkins. The trailer didn’t make me interested at all. (Sep. 22)

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest - It’s a sequel, so expect everything you loved about the first at twice the scale. I’m so there. I feel sorry for Orlando Bloom. He barely gets a mention, while Johnny Depp gets “Jack is back” treatment. (July 7)

    Superman Returns - I’m not sure about the new Superman or the new Lois, but Kevin Spacey looks delicious as Lex Luther. Just hearing that music again underneath was worth the trailer, though I’m still not sold on the quality of special effects. (June 30)

    The Omen - You just know they only remade this horror thriller so it could come out on 6/6/06. How much money will it make on that alone?

    Pathfinder - This is IMDB.com’s description: “A Viking boy is left behind after his clan battles a Native American tribe. Raised within the tribe, he ultimately becomes their savior in a fight against the Norsemen.” Um, oookay. Not exactly how to take that. (Sep. 8)

    Lady In the Water - I thought the first trailer to M. Night Shymalan’s new thriller was cryptic, but this is just ridiculous. Is she a mermaid? What’s with the mythical wolves or whatnot? Do I even care anymore? Apparently not. Will I still see it? Duh. Of course.

    Casino Royale - Daniel Craig will be a better Bond than Pierce Brosnan. That’s right, I said it. Then again, apparently I was one of the few who thought Timothy Dalton was a better Bond than Roger Moore, and I’ve had my Swiss bank account frozen until I recant. I refuse!

    Miami Vice - I didn’t seen Colin Farrell or Jamie Foxx wearing t-shirts under blazers or dress shoes without socks, and that’s disappointing. The trailer didn’t even give an ironic wink to the TV show, which makes it look like every other sleek Miami-based cop film.

    Nacho Libre - Jack Black as a Mexican priest turned wrestler? So odd. So much so that I can’t not see it in the theater and report my findings. Not that it's any stranger than the Christian Wrestling Federation.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Let the hate flow through you!

    From Lore Sj√∂berg at Wired, Frackin’ George Lucas:
    Lucasfilm has announced that it will be re-releasing the original Star Wars movies on DVD this Christmas season in their original format, without later additions such as the part where Greedo shoots before Han, the scene where Han meets up with Jabba and repeats all the lines he said 10 minutes ago, and the bit where Luke talks about how he saw Willow and it was completely awesome.

    With this move, Lucas has managed to surprise absolutely nobody except for a few clinically credulous people who actually believed Lucas when he said, "There is no way I am releasing the original film versions on DVD ever, seriously. I'm not going to do it, so you may as well go buy all the versions I am releasing, because there's no reason to suspect that you're just going to have to buy them again when the original versions come out on DVD in late 2006. Believe me here. If I'm lying, you can make me eat a llama." Lucas answered "no comment" when asked about this statement, but I have since learned that he has canceled all trips to South America.

    The best part is that the original-release DVDs include the special-edition DVDs as well. So people who bought the special edition when they really wanted the original version will have to buy the special edition again, and people who didn't buy the special edition because they only care about the original version will have to pay more to get the special edition anyway! Yes! Use your aggressive feelings! Let the hate flow through you!

    And of course it doesn't end there. Here's a look at some of the upcoming DVD sets Jedi-heads will one day find clutched in their hands as they emerge stiffly from the store:

    The Anyone-Shoots-First Edition

    Do you want Han or Greedo to shoot first? Using the angle feature on your DVD, you get to choose! Not only that, you get to decide who shoots first in any battle in the series. Make the stormtroopers shoot first at Leia! Make the Millennium Falcon shoot first at the TIE fighters! Make Alderaan shoot first at the Death Star! Have long, involved arguments on message boards about which is better!

    The All-Wampa Edition

    Some people are still disappointed that they're never going to see the planned scene in The Empire Strikes Back where wampas invade the Rebel base. Well, this edition gives you that and then some. Every single scene has one or more wampas in it, including a wampa enjoying bubble tea in the cantina. You'll meet Red Twelve, the lovable wampa pilot who crashes into the Death Star trench when he's distracted by what he thinks is a delicious tauntaun corpse. It's actually just a cannon.

    The 8-Year-Old Edition

    One of the reasons thirtysomethings get so pissy about Lucas' crimes against continuity is that what they really want is the original sense of wonder, joy and possibility that the movie instilled in them before a deadening, crushing world sucked it right back out again. This edition comes with a brain probe that turns you into an 8-year-old again, at least mentally. You'll watch the entire movie with your mouth wide open, then you'll run around the house making lightsaber noises during the credits. As an added bonus, if you apply the probe twice, you'll turn into a 4-year-old, which will allow you to enjoy the jokes in The Phantom Menace.

    The Just-Better-Effects Edition

    This edition redoes all the special effects -- every single one throughout the entire series, using the best technology available, applied by the guys who did the Lord of the Rings movies. Nothing else is touched. No dialogue is changed, no scenes are added, no new characters are included. Can you imagine how much Star Wars fanatics will love this one? They'll be standing in line outside every place in town that sells DVDs, dressed in Jedi robes and elaborate rancor costumes. What a bunch of hard-core geeks. I'd better preorder my copy now.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    Toodles

    Posting will be light. I'm heading to Tennessee for a couple of days. Back to Atlanta in time for work Saturday night.

    UPDATE 6:18 a.m. - I couldn't leave without a prolonged "Whaaaaaaaaaaaa?????????" Believe it or not, between "Lost" and the Red Sox losing to the damn Yanks, I didn't see "American Idol" last night. Chris? Really? The show just raised to Suckitude Level 8 (10 reserved for when Katharine goes next week, since apparently America hates me. Whatev.)

    UPDATE 6:53 a.m. - I'm pulling for Yolanda and Ray in the final three of "The Amazing Race." I won't miss Monica and Joseph, but I wish B.J. and Tyler were gone. If they win even after getting saved twice from non-elimination legs, I'll, well, I'll be upset but there's not much I can do about it. But did they have to eat crickets while I'm watching my tape with breakfast? Ew.

    100 Things About Me, 51-60

    1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150 | 151-160 | 141-150 | 161-170


    51. When typing on the computer, if I misspell a word, instead of fixing a letter or two I'll delete the entire word and start over again, even if it means deleting three words to go back and fix one in the middle of a sentence.

    52. I can whistle breathing in pretty well, but I stink at whistling out.

    53. I have a site for the Civil War battle at Kennesaw Mountain near Atlanta that's perpetually under construction.

    54. I spurn fountain drinks, especially Diet Coke. I'll take a bottle, or even a can, instead. Fountain drinks are too prone to being watery.

    55. When I make a yellow light I kiss my hand and touch the roof. Three times you do that in one trip, you make a wish.

    56. I never had the chicken pox or measles, never had my tonsils take out, and none of my wisdom teeth have been pulled.

    57. I was born in 1975 in Phoenix, Arizona, and have subsequently lived in Summerville, Oakland, Jackson, Memphis, Martin (all in Tennessee) and now Atlanta, Georgia, since February of 1998. If people ask my hometown, I say Memphis, where I lived from 1981 through college. I just happen to reside in Atlanta.

    58. I make fun of people or criticize them to feel better about myself.

    59. I buy people things. It makes them like me.

    60. I say things that I don’t mean for the chance that it might get a laugh.

    1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50 |

    Facing the hard truths

    Women looking for a long-term relationship like men who like children --- and they can tell which guys might be interested in becoming fathers just by looking at their faces:
    "This study suggests that women are picking up on facial cues that are perhaps related to paternal qualities," said James Roney, a University of California at Santa Barbara psychologist and lead author of the study. "The more they perceived the men as liking kids, the more likely they could see having a longer-term relationship."



    So ladies, what do you think? I'm your guy!

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    That was fun

    RED SOX 14, YANKEES 3



    The Big Unit was beaten up and pulled in the fourth inning, A-Fraud booted a ball that led to two runs, and Boston piled on long after the game was settled. Wicked awesome.

    What really made me laugh, though, was watching the Damn Yanks' feed, and seeing that in response to the popularity of "Red Sox Nation," New York is trying to cash in with stuff saying "Yankees Universe" while pretending it's all about charity. They're pathetic, and it's just the kind of petty thing you'd expect from the Evil Empire.

    Idol Final Four take the dance floor

    It’s Elvis week on American Idol, and the final four contestants flew out to Memphis last week to get a glimpse of the King of Rock ‘N Roll. I’m thrilled to see it and scared to death of failure at the same time, like the last couple of M. Night Shymalan films. Like BBQ, there are some things native Memphians are particularly snobby about, and Elvis is next on the list.

    How about a picture? It’s my blog, and I say yes. It’s of me, Kimberly to my right, her friend Katherine on my left (who had a boyfriend and I wasn't hitting on her), and one of Kimberly’s suitors, I-forget-his-name, at the front gate to Graceland during Christmas 2004.



    On with the stars of the show. Oh please, oh please, oh please, let Katharine sing Suspicious Minds. That would make my night. Or Surrender. That would work, too.

    Taylor is first with Jailhouse Rock. Randy and Paula are ready to give him the keys to a pink Cadillac, but Simon disagrees.

    Chris is a boxer-brief guy, so he’s my kind of man. Not in that way. And he’s singing Suspicious Minds, which pretty much makes him the Best. Idol. Contestant. Ever. Sorry Katharine, you’re hot, but Chris is The Man, and he made the song his own. Your 2006 winner, everyone!

    Not a good sign when Tommy Mottola tells Elliott during rehearsals to work extra hard ‘cause he stinks. Did Elliott take his advice? Yes. He’s a lot better than I thought he could perform Elvis.

    Did anyone else notice that we’re glossing over Mottola’s biggest accomplishment in the music business? No, not heading Sony Entertainment. Marrying Mariah Carey!

    Katharine’s singing Hound Dog “with a twist.” Oh dear. Could work, could fail miserably. I didn’t mind the mix, but the singing was just screaming. I didn’t really like it.

    Here’s something only Taylor will ever be able to say: “We went on a magical golf cart ride with Priscilla Presley.” Fascinating. No word on if they were plastic surgery buddies, too. His second song is In The Ghetto, which is actually pretty soulful, if not as deep as Elvis sings it, but that’s the point, eh? Not sure about the “woooohooooooooo” part, though.

    Chris tackled A Little Less Conversation, and leaves me underwhelmed. Not the right song for his voice. Still my champion, though. He wasn’t bad, just not as good as usual.

    Elliott, once again, exceeds expectations and I’m impressed by how hard he works. I still know nothing about him and wouldn’t watch him on anything except this show, but he seems like a good guy.

    Last up, and truly in need of a hit, Katharine sings I Can’t Help Falling In Love, and the music is so loud she has to really project her voice and it sounds muddled on my TV. What I can gather is that she’s not bad, and may have saved a spot in the final three if Elliott doesn’t earn any more voters than last week.

    A couple of sports items

    • Sports Illustrated identifies the ten jobs in sports that you definitely would not want.

      I'd rather think about the jobs in sports you would most certainly want to have. For instance, the guy who wraps Maria Sharapova's legs when she's hurt. Second, being soccer star Heather Mitts' masseuse. (Is she a star? Does it matter?)

      You see where I'm going with this.


    • As the Red Sox and dang Yanks face off for the second time this season tonight in the realm of the Evil Empire, here's a Red Sox fan's list of which ex-Sox players fans should cheer for, and which they should boo. (Hat tip: Deadspin.)

      I kind of feel sorry for Jeff Suppan that his 5.57 ERA in three awful months of 2003 didn't warrant a mention, now that he's slumming in St. Louis. To get him at the trade deadline, the Sox gave up prospects Freddy Sanchez and Mike Gonzalez, who is now closing for the Pirates with a 2.38 ERA.

      Now I'm heading out to the sports bar to watch the game and play some trivia. Go Sox! Yankees suck!

    When loss is a good thing

    This Weight Watchers thing is going rather well. Is there a catch I should know about?

    Since I'm heading to Tennessee early Thursday morning, I went ahead this morning to a meeting and to weigh-in, and even after five days I was down four pounds on the dot.

    I'm now living a life where last night for dinner I had a plate of potatoes, green beans and blackeye peas, loved it and got plenty full.

    Remember the first few weeks I said I wasn’t seeing any results other than the scale? Toss that aside.

    Sunday morning I put on pants I hadn’t been able to wear in three years or more, and at Target today I bought new jeans in the same size as those khakis, and it felt soooo good. I can’t wait until these are considered my "fat jeans."

    Heck, if this keeps up - almost 30 pounds in less than two months – I may be going through new pairs of pants every month. I can't imagine how this is a bad thing, other than avoiding $50 pants that won’t last long. Next goal: Smaller shirts!

    Almost every woman in front of me take off their shoes when weighing in. Is that to get a more accurate read? I don't. I figure they were on the first time I stepped on the WW scale, then they count overall. Then again, I did switch from jeans to shorts a month ago, so it’s not like I’m not into a little cheat now and then.

    Keep Jeff accountable
    Starting weight (March 16, 2006) - 362.2
    Current weight (May 9, 2006) – 333.4
    Total lost – 28.8
    10% target - 326
    Ultimate goal – 200

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Something is wrong with me, part LXVII

    My life is all about trying not to inconvenience other people. For anything.

    I just realized that if I’m behind someone walking towards a door I’ll slow down so that I’m far enough back that the person doesn’t feel obligated to hold the door for me.

    Here's the kicker. And yet, if that person doesn’t look back to at least see how far back I am or see if anyone’s there at all, I get miffed.

    Is it possible to be selfish and still try not to inconvenience people?

    Vent-worthy

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

    - The chief meteorologist is the leader of the Cumulus tribe.
    - First God created man and he rested. Then he created woman and he rested. Since then, neither God nor man has rested.
    - Life Lesson No. 27: When your wife asks if her butt is too big, don’t say, “Which one?”
    - Life Lesson No. 136: Never wear a red shirt to Target.
    - I avoid diet drinks since I only see overweight people drinking them.
    - When your wife calls you at work and says, “Guess what, honey, I’m pregnant,” don’t dare say, “Who is this?”
    - I always thought that when the cashier asked, “Paper or plastic?” she wanted to know how I was going to pay.
    - They as you, “Paper or plastic?” at the grocery store because baggers can’t be choosers.
    - My wife bumped her head while she was in the process of berating me. I guess you could call it a nagging injury.
    - I think I’m going to replace my trip odometer with a cashometer.
    - I hear that plans for the Kennedy Family Driving School are now permanently on hold.
    - I just read Friday’s Vent online on Thursday. What a concept! Now can you post tomorrow’s stock market results?
    - I’m somewhat confused. Can someone tell me why Kentucky Fried Chicken would use “Sweet Home Alabama” as its TV theme song?
    - Ray Nagin’s new hurricane evacuation plan is simple: just do everything he didn’t do before Katrina but still blame any mistakes on President Bush.
    - Scientists now say the ozone layer is healing. Can Dubya get credit for that?
    - My wise old grandfather used to say that the way things were going, he wouldn’t be surprised if one day people would have to “pay for water.”

    Vents I Sent:

    - I was a Bush supporter until someone etched “Impeach Bush” into the wall of the bathroom stall. Now I see the light.
    - A three-column bio on Robert Byrd and not one mention of his KKK background. What liberal media?
    - Democrats should be thankful that the administration's success in terror-prevention has made it possible to be complacent and argue about petty gripes again.
    - My life as a country song: “Baked My Sweetie A Pie, But He Left With A Tart.” (Courtesy Grif.net)
    - He who claims to be a self-made man has relieved God of an embarrassing responsibility. (Courtesy Grif.net)
    - Sign seen at last week’s anti-Rumsfeld protest: "Dissent has been criminalized.” I didn’t see the sign carrier get arrested.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Comast stinks

    I like to call this piece, "How much am I paying for Extra Innings?"



    Three hours I've stared at that screen hoping to see any of the Red Sox game - of which the Sox are leading 10-3 in the eighth - but nooooooo, just this stupid message that is a big fat lie. Hey Comcast, that channel was NOT available shortly!

    That's it, you forced me, I'm going outside where it's sunny now that the storms have passed. You did it to yourself, Comcast!

    UPDATE 5:05 - Oh no they did not! I was literally reaching for the power button on the TV when the game popped up. Thanks a bunch Comcast, I get to watch the final three outs, and then I'm going outside! Grr!!!

    Democrats get two new voters

    There's really no way to avoid reading the rest of the story when you see this headline: Man With Prosthetic Legs, Deaf Man Brawl.

    In related hear no evil, see no evil news, the New York Times has decided that making fun of al Qaeda terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is out of bounds.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    Sleep is for suckers

    This weekend I've been covering the 4a-Noon shift, and I'm still awake watching the Red Sox beating the Orioles. Last night I went to bed at 6 but didn't get to sleep for good until 10. I might be slightly tired tomorrow afternoon.

    This is really to explain why I haven't churned out reviews to United 93 and Mission: Impossible 3 yet. Apologies! I'll be efforting tomorrow morning during my break, I promise.

    We're still friends, right? Hug!

    How about a photo to make up for it? I've scanned a few today (mostly for you-know-who, not for public consumption), and this is from my high school yearbook senior year, showing off my golf game. Frankly I think I look awesome. The Greg Norman hat is still one of my favorites of all time:

    Cinco de Trasho

    It's not that I wish ill on my college-aged neighbors. I appreciate that they had such a good party last night that they were still up and at it when I woke up at 3 a.m. this morning to cover the early shift.

    I only ask that they do the rest of us a favor and leave a sign pointing bugs to their side of the hall.



    And oh, flick more used cigarettes on my Red Sox doormat and you'll wish you were still in the dorm with someone to protect you.

    (Yeah, as if I'd follow through on that threat. I have neither a bark nor a bite. I'm not even a yappy chihuahua.)

    I pinch

    I love this commercial, and have no shame in saying it's worked its way into our pop culture quotables at work:

    Pain makes you beautiful

    In a study released this week, researchers say that anticipating pain can be as bad as experiencing it:
    How bad? Among people who volunteered to receive electric shocks, almost a third opted for a stronger zap if they could just get it over with, instead of having to wait.

    More importantly, the research found that how much attention the brain pays to expected pain determines whether someone is an "extreme dreader" — suggesting that simple diversions could alleviate the misery.
    Well, at least now I've figure out why some of you read my blog in chunks every few days rather than checking several times a day!

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Why you should check the backyard before buying a new home

    An Atlanta homeowner is upset that he's nearly beseiged by golf balls from a neighboring driving range flying over the fence into the yard and swimming pool of his 6,000-square-foot $1 million-plus dream house.

    I would be ticked, too, if a range opened up next to my house.

    Oh, wait, this guy built a house knowing the range was there? Then shut up.

    It's not like he let a woman drown or anything

    No matter how much bad news the Bush administration gets or conservatives like Rush Limbaugh get blistered for their problems, Democrats keep coming along to take over the news and make the world a little more fun to live. So thank you, Cynthia McKinney, for hitting the security guard last month, and thanks today to a reliable source of amusement, the Kennedys:
    Rep. Patrick Kennedy will enter rehab for addiction to prescription pain medication Friday evening after a highly publicized car crash near the Capitol. ...

    "I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police, or being cited for three driving infractions," Kennedy said.

    Ole!

    From the Researchers Get Paid For This Brilliant Work? department

    Catching sight of a pretty woman really is enough to throw a man's decision-making skills into disarray, a study suggests. Apparently testosterone in men rises significantly ... holy cow check out the gams on that hot chickadee!

    Wait, where was I?

    Ah yes, science.

    In other news from the battle of the sexes, researchers of a mass speed dating study in Edinburgh say they have found the most successful pick-up lines.

    The most successful chat-up lines were those intended to build conversation and impossible to answer with a simple yes or no, including “What's your favorite pizza topping?”

    Great! Can't wait to try it out. "Hey baby, do you like sausage?"

    I'll let you know how that goes.

    However, the experts said looks were obviously a major factor and further research would be conducted into that area in weeks to come.

    I’m shocked that appearance could be a factor! So she doesn't really care that I prefer onions, peppers and mushrooms? I'm hurt.

    Interestingly, they also found that those looking for a potential partner should steer clear of topics which could cause disagreement, such as favorite films, because men and women “often disagree about the best types of films.”

    Ah, yes, the old Three Stooges Lesson. I say if she can laugh at Curly having a piano dropped on her head, she's the one. That should clear the path significantly, no?

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Watch this!

    My vacation didn’t set me back after all. I’m down 3.6 pounds since my last weigh-in two weeks ago, which is more than just okay. I am invincible again! Pshaw, three slices of pizza. Up yours, fried rice! Take that, alfredo pasta! I laugh at you, enchiladas!

    Okay, it's not like I splurged. The pizza came after spending 10 hours outdoors at Thunder Over Louisville where the only thing I ate was a six-inch Subway, the fried rice was in small portions to go with chicken and veggies, I only had about half of the pasta at Chili's with Val and I made sure the points checked out at Cafe Ole when I was with Syd to watch the Grizzlies game.

    Since I returned I've actually found myself eating fewer points than allotted, and during the trip I was pretty darn good about ordering healthy fare, so the vacation was probably a wash.

    Not that I can’t tell I'm making progress. Two months ago it was a chore just to bend down and tie my shoes. Now I am wearing an older, skinnier belt, need new jeans and can bend down, dance around and feel a lot better. I'm downright peppy. Even more than usual, which is saying a lot for those who know me best.

    Then again, I also have a new motivation.

    Old and busted: Lose weight for confidence to ask for dates.

    New hotness: Be “arm candy.” Why lie? I'm fueled by vanity.

    I feel so good about the forecast, in face, that I’m already declaring next summer The Summer of Jeff. I’m taking a beach vacation and going to feel good about it!

    Keep Jeff accountable
    Starting weight (March 16, 2006) - 362.2
    Current weight (May 4, 2006) – 337.4
    Total lost - 24.8
    10% target - 326
    Ultimate goal – 200


    p.s. I took the weekend of May 20th off, so I'll be heading back to Tennessee - Jackson and Memphis - that Thursday. Stay tuned!

    Common theme

    This is a panorama I took yesterday afternoon while training at CNN.com's Pipeline video service, as the Moussaoui verdict was announced.

    You might notice a common theme on all the networks on the TVs above.


    (Click for larger view)

    Idol now down to Final Four

    Blah blah, Paris is gone, no one cares, can we just get this over with and hand Chris the title?

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Why does it cost money to talk?

    From the live, learn and adapt files: I have totally blown through my T-Mobile minutes with ten days to go in my cycle. Funny thing is, a month ago I was psychic and changed plans to add one-thousand more "whenever" minutes and free weeknights to go with free weekends. Wish I'd done it two months ago. Good thing for work, eh? (Not that I'd use them for free long distance. No sir. Uh-uh. Not a bit. *cough*)

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Pictures now posted!

    Sorry it took a few days, but I have my pictures up from last week's vacation. You've seen most of the ones from Jackson with Valerie, but the Thunder Over Louisville photos are brand new.

    Enjoy!

    Live-blogging American Idol

    With The Pickler losing last week, tonight we're into the top five. Each contestant gets two songs, though we all know the second one will end up making the most difference. The real drama? Watching Ryan and Paula for any sense of bad mojo between the two.

    Tonight's theme? Making us feel old. Before the contestants sing we'll get some pictures of them as little Idol hopefuls, and no doubt their baby pictures will be from the Clinton administration and I'll roll my eyes and say something snarky.

    First up, Elliott. I'm sure the lights are bright on Broadway, but I still can't get too enthusiastic about his performance. Sorry, he doesn't do anything for me.

    Did Paula's hair grow twice as long since last week? Maybe she downs all that liquor and prescription drugs with extra bread.

    UPDATE 8:10 - Paris was born in 1988. See what I mean? She's tackling Prince's "Kiss," which sounds awesome, but isn't near as exciting as the audience pretends it to be. They're standing and clapping because they're supposed to. You can see it in the weak claps. The judges agree with me and the audience pretends to disagree, but they don't.

    UPDATE 8:15 - Chris dressed up as The Joker for Halloween, but did not sing "Batdance," which might have been very cool. Instead he goes with "Renegade," a song I've never heard before and will never again. Oh sure, Chris rocks it all week and twice on Sunday, but not my favorite, though after Elliott and Paris, the judges are tossing their underwear in stage and thanking him for boosting ratings.

    UPDATE 8:21 - It's McPheever time! First they apologize for her extra-long split in her dress last week, and make some really creepy comments about watching it over and over again. Not 'cause it's untrue, it's just not appropriate conversation. (Yeah, I know, you've read this blog and I'm a big fat hypocrite.) For some unknown reason, Katharine sings "Against All Odds," and not well I'm afraid. Bloody awful, actually. Monotone, pitchy, all over the fargin' place. There will be no apology this week, nor should there be.

    UPDATE 8:28 - Taylor the spaz is back, so much so that he ends up singing the end on his back. Stealing from Andrea Bocelli much? The judges have no clue what to say, and is there anything? If you like Taylor, you loved it. Hate Taylor? You went to the kitchen and didn't pay attention anyway.

    UPDATE 8:35 - On to the second songs of the night. Elliott slows it down with some purple hues, and let me say that it's probably not a good idea to sing, "Let me go home" when people can do so by not voting for you. He may get his wish. Hee, Simon just said the same thing.

    UPDATE 8:38 - Paris slows down, too, and isn't Sucktastic like a half-hour ago. I'm torn. On the one hand, I don't care if Paris loses tomorrow. On the other hand, I really, really, don't care if she loses tomorrow.

    UPDATE 8:40 - Yowzers. Now I see why Ryan and Katharine addressed that button issue.

    UPDATE 8:45 - Chris sings another song I don't know. Is this all a plot to expand my iTunes collection? It's not working. Again, he's great, though a little too much screaming. Not that you care, but the guy I was working with down at CNN.com's Pipeline video service looks exactly like Chris. Without photographic proof this means nothing, I admit.

    UPDATE 8:48 - Katharine starts out sitting on the floor, and this is a trend that should stop right now. I don't know this song, but she looks darn good singing it, and that's all I need. (I'm such a pushover. What do I care? I've never bought an album by any Idol contestant, so I'd at least like to enjoy watching her.)

    UPDATE 8:55 - Wrapping things up, Taylor absolutely butchers The Beatles' "Something." I will not be going down any long and winding road to see his show.

    In passing ..

    - Today's fortune cookie: "Happiness is found when no one is looking." I hate when these cliched platitudes are right!

    - Iran threatened to begin hiding its nuclear program if the West takes any "harsh measures" against it. Also, the mullahs promised to hold their breath until their faces turn blue and draw a big line in the sand between Iran and Afghanistan.

    - The next great invention: A microwave that masks the smell of popcorn so it doesn't linger for three days every time you open the door.

    - My new reality show idea: "Dude Ranch." Surfer cowboys! That's just good fun right there.

    - As usual, Ann Coulter is blunt and I love her for it:
    I would be more interested in what the Democrats had to say about high gas prices if these were not the same people who refused to let us drill for oil in Alaska, imposed massive restrictions on building new refineries, and who shut down the development of nuclear power in this country decades ago.

    But it's too much having to watch Democrats wail about the awful calamity to poor working families of having to pay high gas prices.

    Imposing punitive taxation on gasoline to force people to ride bicycles has been one of the left's main policy goals for years.

    For decades Democrats have been trying to raise the price of gasoline so that the working class will stop their infernal car-driving and start riding on buses where they belong, while liberals ride in Gulfstream jets.
    Read the whole thing.

    - Thanks to Mom and Aunt Lynn for introducing me to Criminal Minds on CBS, which has turned into one of my top five TV shows - better than CSI or Law & Order: Criminal Intent, even, in that genre. Now that Dharma got a show, it's good to see Greg in his own solid role as an FBI profiler.

    - Any American male aged 25-40 should appreciate this video of what's reported to be world-record pace for Super Mario Bros. Riveting. Thrilling. Better than most Hollywood features. (Thanks for the link, Stacy.)

    - Aren't there really only two choices for dealing with Iran? One, bomb the snot out of them. Two, accept them as a nuclear power and try to contain them and make faces behind their back. That's it, that's the list. Or Iran could just give up their hopes of going nuclear. Stranger things have happened. No, wait, stranger things have never happened.

    - From the Sucks To Be You department: A man who spent 12 years in prison for murder before new DNA testing exonerated him last year died in a hit-and-run as he walked in Chicago Wednesday night.

    - From the People Are Really This Stupid? Department: A high school senior in Florida was arrested Friday after authorities began an investigation into his posting a countdown of the hours until he blew up the school on the popular "My Space" website; and a California woman who claimed she was spanked on the job as part of camaraderie-building exercises has been awarded $1.7 million in damages and compensation. Whatever happened to trust falls and Kumbaya?

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Sox-Yanks

    I'm a little disappointed that there were so many boos at Johnny Damon, but it looks like there were mostly cheers, especially after he doffed his cap. Like I said, I give him a lifetime pass. I cheer him this first at-bat, but from here on out he's a member of the dang Yanks and I can't root for him.

    Secondly tonight, welcome back Doug Mirabelli! This is high comedy. Young Josh Bard was so awful catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield that the Sox traded him for Wakefield's personal catcher the last few years, Mirabelli, who was shipped to San Diego over the winter for new second baseman Mark Loretta.

    UPDATE 10:35 - Yeah, baby! Sox win! Big Papi goes deep for a three-run shot to pad the lead in the eighth, Papelbon finishes it off, back in first place, good times! (Yes, I know, it's May 1. But it's the dang Yankees!)

    UPDATE 11:12 - (Thanks to Steve for the image.)

    100 Things About Me, 41-50

    1-10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 51-60 | 61-70 | 71-80 | 81-90 | 91-100 | 101-110 | 111-120 | 121-130 | 131-140 | 141-150 | 151-160 | 141-150 | 161-170

    41. I come from a big, boisterous family, whose collective motto is “Those who talk loudest get heard.” Therefore, I apologize to friends and co-workers who aren’t aware of this when I’m Jeffy McButtinski and cut in right in the middle of a sentence to interject just because a random thought popped in my head.

    42. I’m as proud as any good sane Southerner (you know, the “I love my heritage but admit we were on the wrong side of the Civil War” kind), but I do not like grits. Sorry.

    43. My sports dream? Playing in The Masters with Dad on the bag as caddy.

    44. DH or no DH? DH. Hey, I’m a Red Sox fan, we love Big Papi!

    45. When driving, I can't stand when people stay behind me for extended periods. I'll either speed up to lose them, or slow down and let them get ahead. I am not your decoy for the state trooper. Even worse, it drives me insane when people pass me, then I pass them, then they pass me again, over and over down the highway. I just seethe and mumble about "consistent speeds." I’ll actually pull off at a gas station just to get away from them.

    46. I’m the only member of my immediate family who doesn’t need glasses.

    47. I was born at 7:11. That’s A.M., not “would you like a large Slurpee for 35 cents more?”

    48. I will read three paragraphs, realize my mind was elsewhere, and have to re-read the whole thing again.

    49. Big spiders and any roach gives me the willies. I won’t watch the scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Harry and Ron are in the forest with the giant spiders. There’s just too many of them. *shudder*

    50. Not only do I sleep with the fan on, but also the radio. And I juggle while balancing a pen on my nose. Okay, not the last one. But I do keep a pen with a light on my nightstand with slips of paper in case I get a great idea during my normal overthinking time before slipping into sleep.