Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Week In Pictures, May 31, 2009

Last Memorial Day weekend with my family in town for a cookout at Valfrey Estates:










Last Sunday, the Burk birthday/graduation party at Glenn & Stephanie's:









Wednesday, graduation for Val's students:




Saturday afternoon at the Redbirds game:


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

I trust everyone is still groggily at work following a pleasantly long Memorial Day weekend? I actually had a four-day weekend, thankyouverymuch (*sticking tongue out*), which, considering I work most holidays, was a welcome relief.
 
Much of my family was able to drive to Memphis for the weekend, Saturday night Val and I hosted a cookout at Valfrey Estates for even, and my dad-in-law even made an appearance without charging his usual fee. (Mostly just Caffeine Free Diet Coke.)
 
The cookout was "well done," as in one-third of the first batch of burgers and hot dogs were inedibly charred. Considering Dad bought me the grill for last Memorial Day's cookout, making this the second time I've used it (I know, and it wasn't even cleaned until last week), I think it's high time I treat Val to some well done steaks over the summer, should she be having cravings suitable for a healthy baby. With the grill knobs turned to low instead of high, of course.
 
I think I've figured it out now, so no more singed eyebrows. *crosses fingers, which are bandaged as well*
 
Still, everyone was very nice about preferring "blackened burgers," but if they didn't then the hot dogs were largely juicy and jumbo as per the package description, plus Mom made my very favorite food of all time, her potato salad, and Val's mom brought baked beans and mud pie for dessert, which is awesome piled onto awesome.
 
Sunday afternoon Val's uncle Glenn hosted the family's four-time annually birthday party, which doubled as graduation for three of the guys raking in the cash. Which just meant extra cake for the rest of us. Even tradeoff, I think.
 
Before my family left town, we dined at Olive Garden, the Official Restaurant Of The Rushings. When there, we're not just family, but all of my siblings and two of the three significant others have worked there as servers. We really need to settle down in the same town and buy our own franchise at this point. Sure, I didn't work there, but I'll gladly test the food before it's taken out of the kitchen, so I'll do my part.
 
On the way out of town we stopped at Toys R Us for nephews Gabriel and Nate, and on the right hand side of the store, Babies R Us, for me and Val to look for those big full body pillows. It was the first time I parked somewhere in "expectant mother" parking. Hey, it didn't say HOW expectant!
 
You know how AAA does studies about how far Americans travel for holidays? Does it count if you do it all in one day? Because Tuesday, Dad and I drove to Greenville, Miss., and back to see my grandfather and my step-grandmother, seven hours of driving for three hours of visiting. Two of which were spent ravishing the Shoney's buffet. (Yes, half of my posts are about food. I'm okay with that if you are.)
 
On the way down we drove down highway 61 through South Memphis, where every other business is either for payday loans or fried chicken. I'm thinking whatever I say about how this defines that part of the city will only get me tossed on my keister as a racist.
 
Once into Miss'ippi we took the scenic route along state route 1, the Great River Road. You can't actually see the river due to the levee that stretches alongside the length of the road, but I'll stipulate to it being there. If you've driven through the delta you know that it's very flat, very straight, full of farmland and poor little towns peppered every ten miles. There's also a lack of stores with restrooms.
 
I only mention that last part because I may be getting a sympathy pregnancy bladder. Sure, Val has to go a lot, but put an avocado on your bladder all day and you'd have to pee a lot, too. I just drink a lot of water. Which is why we had to pull the rental car (a surprisingly plush Ford Taurus) onto a gravel road to a thicket of trees past a quiet cemetery in the middle of nowhere. And no, I would not do the deed near the graves, for fear of ghostly reprisals.  
 
Did anyone else watch that show on NBC purporting to put together "TV's 50 Funniest Catch Phrases?" It was all as you'd expect, the "To the moon, Alice" types, a compilation we see with the AFI "best of" shows. But in the top 10 was "The Office," and the phrase "That's what she said!" Which, um, I don't know why they're giving this show credit for this, because we juveniles used it in high school with great frequency and snickers, which means we got it from somewhere else long before that. Way to be current, NBC.
 
By the way, No. 1 was "Seinfeld" (I know, another NBC show, surprise!) and "Yadda Yadda Yadda." An hilarious episode, for sure, but the funniest of all time?

Free Pink

Attention Memphis residents or summer visitors:

The Pink Palace is offering a free membership for the summer through their website, good through August, including the planetarium and Lichterman Nature Center, among other things.

By "free," I'm pretty sure that means they won't charge you, so good times!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Here and There, but Mostly There

- New Dang Yankee Stadium both sucks and blows. Just ask Hall of Famer and ESPN baseball expertastic Peter Gammons, who says the park "has become one of the biggest jokes in baseball." Something about how little leaguers can hit homers to right field in there when the wind whispers just right.

- Speaking of, here’s how Deadspin.com reports the latest news from the new park:
Great news! The most obnoxiously self-indulgent team in college football wants to join forces with the most obnoxiously self-indulgent team in baseball. Yes, folks: Notre Dame wants to play football in shiny new Yankee Stadium.

- Whomever carves the NHL’s storied Stanley Cup is to spelling what anyone on “The Hills” is to acting:
Over the years words like "Ilanders" (Islanders), "Leaes" (Leafs) and "Bqstqn" (Boston) have found their way onto the cup, while more than a dozen players and coaches have had their names butchered. Former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jacques Plante had the misfortune of having his first name spelled four different ways in the span of five years.

- Hotshot 18-year-old Spanish guard Ricky Rubio presumes to tell the Grizzlies what to do with their second pick in June’s NBA draft. Namely, don’t put his name down on the card. Either he’s heard of Willie Herenton or no one told him about the Rendezvous:
"Rubio doesn't want to go to Memphis, and he especially does not want to pay money out of his own pocket with that huge buyout for the honor of doing so. [Dan] Fegan [Rubio's agent] wants him in L.A., and if he can't have him there, he wants him in Sacramento. Definitely not Oklahoma City."
The good news is, his agent said the same thing about Chinese phenom lame duck Yi Jinlian last year regarding Milwaukee, then the Bucks took him anyway and signed him, which might not be for the best since Yi is a bust.

- Think life is easy as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader? Watch the league’s premier franchise, wear skimpy outfits, shake what you’ve got for drunken fans, get free dos at “Big Floppy Blonde Curly Hair R Us.” Not so fast. It would also help if you knew ”one country that borders Iraq.” Bonus points if they answer, “A country that paid off Washington Redskins owner/weasel Dan Snyder with Saddam’s old WMDs.”

Monday, May 25, 2009

It's a fact

- PEOPLE ACTUALLY GET PAID FOR THIS KIND OF INTENSE SCIENCE:

Researchers Say U.S. Obesity Epidemic Due to Overeating

Intelligent women enjoy sex more than 'bimbos', research finds

(Now that one I'd like to see how they proved!)

- HEADLINE: Two men ordered to stay away from Britney Spears.

100 million men think, "I still have a chance!"

Someone has a crush!

Sometimes I can only picture the Obamedia as a bunch of giggly 12-year-old girls with pictures of the president on covers of Tiger Beat taped to their bedroom walls.

- NBC White House Correspondent Savannah Guthrie gushed when Obama came to see the reporters in the press room: "Shocked is more like it, Norah. I felt a little bit like I was having a dream sequence minus the pink unicorn. I have to say, we attend those briefings every day, they are rarely so exciting."

- Liz Sidoti of the AP thinks Obama is a ”calming leader of a country in crisis,” “has applied ‘no drama’ leadership,” an “audacious candidate” who “built a powerhouse organization,” and “rookie jitters? Far from it.” In fact, he has “reached the pinnacle of his political ambition” and “seems unflappable,” “extraordinarily at ease” using a “just-folks approach” while engaging in “witty banter” with a “statesmanlike stance.”

- The Today show calls him the "messiah of Madison Avenue" and enthuses that "the whole world is apparently going Obama," including the First Lady, as America has apparently "embraced … a new sense of chic."

- CBS brought in Tina Brown, editor of The Daily Beast, to delight, "One of the great surprises is what a force-multiplier Michelle Obama has turned out to be because these two are working in such, sort of, flawless concert. You know as the world is talking about torture and the Bush administration, then we have Michelle with her vegetable garden. Talk about Spring time in America! There's a real sense that these two are operating in a kind of wonderful symbiosis that we really haven't seen, I don't think ever, between a President and a First Lady."

- Brown wasn’t done: "Michelle is so authentic, and so real, and so today, and so, you know, J. Crew, and the whole price point thing and not designer clothes....With Michelle, you can almost feel those warm arms. You know, there’s a kind of real red-blooded feel to her. But there’s also — I mean she’s almost, like, overtaking Oprah, I think, as the kind of inspirational ‘it’ girl at this point."

- AP swooner Nancy Benac summed up Obama’s first adorable 100 days as ”a cool confidence that has made increasing numbers of Americans hopeful that the country may at last be heading in the right direction” especially since we “couldn't get enough of … Team Obama's every move: the arrival of family dog Bo; the president showing up for work in his shirt-sleeves; the first lady's moxie in baring her arms; Sasha and Malia's swing set; even a visit to the White House by the surviving Grateful Dead.”

- Boston Globe Washington Bureau Chief Peter Canellos thinks Obama is untouchable: "Obama, so far, seems to occupy a place in the popular culture beyond humor. Ridicule doesn’t touch him. His personality defies easy categorization. Of the few running gags to emerge from the Obama administration — aides not paying their taxes, Treasury officials rewarding fat-cats — the only one that pertains to the President himself is the straight-faced devotion he inspires. Obama may not actually be perfect, but so many poor souls out there think he is."

- CNN Senior Analyst David Gergen: "In terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a President who is as well briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this President does. He’s nuanced. He’s very complete....He’s taken it to a whole different level in the way he speaks about issues...."

- ABC anchor David Muir calls Obama the ”cool kid in the class” when he went overseas.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Hitting, getting them out

Some more of those interesting "They keep track of this stuff?" notes from the Red Sox this week:

Outfielder Jason "Manny who" Bay has hit 11 consecutive home runs with at least one runner on base, a franchise record. Twice in Red Sox history a player had hit 10 consecutive home runs with at least one runner on base - Kevin Youkilis in 2008, and Tony Conigliaro in 1966.

Wednesday night, Jacoby Ellsbury made 12 putouts, tying a major league record for a nine inning game. The feat was done twice before, both at Fenway Park, but not since the Twins’ Lyman Bostock did it on May 25, 1977. The first player to do so was Earl Clark of the Boston Braves on May 10, 1929.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mind of a soon-to-be-father: Getting up to date

 Since Val and I waited until week 14 to announce the baby currently gestating in her womb, let's catch up. Here's how things have progressed thus far:

Week 4 - Euphoria! We made a baby! My boys can swim! Of course, even though I provided half of the secret formula, she's doing all the baking in her own oven.

Week 5 - One good thing about Val having my baby, it makes it more difficult for her to realize that she still has plenty of time to find a second husband before getting frustrated by me trying to diaper the baby with Bounty paper towels while watching Red Sox games.

Week 6 - I keep reiterating to Val that all of her symptoms are normal and a good sign of a robust pregnancy, but hey, I'm not the one in pain, so I'll shut up now.

Week 7 - Our first appointment. Stare at the ultrasound, pretend that we know what we're looking at. "So the round thing by the stick thingy, that's the head?" "There's no 'head' yet?" "Wow, that's strong, is the heart beating out of the baby's chest?" "What do you mean, 'What chest'?"

Week 8 - I start making CDs of songs about pregnancies and downloading podcasts about pregnancy. There really aren't that many songs about pregnancy that I can find, which is disappointing, so I'm skipping ahead to songs for when we have the baby. Go to iTunes and search for "Rockabye Baby" and enjoy. These are lullabies for babies from rock songs we all know and love. I'm pretty sure I'll definitely end up buying the U2 version, because if I'm playing it in the car during a trip, at least I'll have something to "sing" along with! Our favorite podcast is called Baby Time, made by a couple about four years ago during their first pregnancy. Every week I download the week corresponding with our pregnancy, and we listen and compare. Will we get competitive with them? Darn tootin'. Our pregnancy will kick their butts! I mean, not that it matters.

Week 9 - Val's drinking so much Pepto to get over nausea that I'm pretty sure the baby's going to have pink poo for the first month.

Week 10 - Val's facing constant exhaustion, any physical contact below the neck makes her have to pee and is nauseated by any "real" food we used to cook like spaghetti, subsisting almost solely on snacks, Flintstone vitamins and V8 juice. Besides crackers and Sprite all of the books recommend ginger. So I bought Val ginger ale, ginger snaps, ginger tea, ginger pops, ginger spaghetti ... Still nauseous. Still bothered by indigestion. There's no cure. No way out. No relief. SOS. Send help.

Week 11 - Second appointment. Deep breaths. Hear a strong heartbeat. Exhale. Relief.

Week 12 - Hey, here's a fun thing about being the guy who knocked up his wife: I can tell when Val's tired or upset or sick, because our prodigy goes from "the baby" to "YOUR baby."

Week 13 - Val doesn't each much breakfast, being on-the-go to work, where she avoids food since it gives her indigestion and makes her nauseous. We want to focus on eating healthy, but I just want her to eat something, anything, so I gladly buy her Pop Tarts. The chocolate fudge ones. Which I think is an example of the pushover I'm going to be as a parent.

Week 14 - Reality starting to sink in. We start thinking about how different everything will be, like rethinking a simple lunch out or how I can't mow the lawn when Val's not home anymore. Of course, after a few months I anticipate not remembering what life is like now before the baby. I imagine having a short-term memory is key to being a parent.

Week 15 - Val gets a painful kidney stone, practices for giving birth. Decision made: She will be getting an epidural.

Week 16 - It seems early for Val to start showing, but even though she's only gained a few pounds her belly is starting to poof out, which I think is super cool. Trying to find clothes for this transition into maternity? Not so much. And she can't wear my clothes unless she plans to use my shirts as a full-length dress and buy a belt to try and pull off the look. Shopping in the maternity section is fun; I want all the women around us to know that, "Hey, that guy and his wife are totally preggers! His boys can swim" You know what's not nice, though? JC Penney at Wolfchase puts the maternity section right next to the bathing suits. That's cold, man, just cold.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You raise me up

Superstud nephew Cody and his bud Kevin get their bromance recognized via their tennis skills in the Millington Star.

Alas, they struggled in the state tournament Thursday morning and lost their opening doubles match.

But hey, at least they get to make it back home tomorrow night for their prom, am I right? And then high school is officially finished. Brings back memories, doesn't it?

This weekend should be a hoot. Most of my side of the family is coming into town for Memorial Day! Saturday we'll be enjoying a cookout at our house, which is the flurry of cleaning you'll sense tomorrow night.

Of course, none of that will matter once we get out the slip 'n slide for our awesomely hilarious nephews Gabriel and Nate, and we all traipse mud around the house. But that's why we have tile floors!

Great Caesar's Ghost! Kris Wins!

Well that was a shocker, and I don't just mean Big Papi's first home run of the season for the Red Sox!
 
Mainstream America comes through again in the clutch, and I would guess it was much to the surprise of the Idol judges, producers, most of southern California and the entertainment media the same way they could never figure out how George W. Bush twice won the presidential election.
 
Val nearly exploded off the couch when Kris' name was announced, which isn't easy when she's pregnant, has heartburn and we have a big deep comfy couch. All I could muster were several wows and holy cows, disbelieving what just happened. In fact, we rewinded and watched it three more times afterward, just to enjoy the moment.
 
I can only guess that Adam's fake Broadway rocker routine didn't inspire loyalty or adoration the same way an "aw shucks" Christian worship leader and guitar-and-piano playing soft rocker could.
 
Admittedly, I'm looking more forward to seeing what Adam does with his post-Idol chances. During the finale, Kris seemed to disappear and Adam seemed to be everywhere, which I think is more to the credit of Adam as a big personality with a big voice, while Kris was what I called him for the first five or six weeks of the top 13, forgettable. Adam's a showstopper, no doubt.
 
I especially felt bad for Kris when they made him sing a duet with Adam for a Queen appearance, since clearly this is Adam's forte. In fact, like that reality show that picked a new lead singer for INXS, Adam could easily get the gig as Queen's new lead singer for a reunion tour that could draw millions. Kris, meanwhile, has to make do with that stupid "No Boundaries" song that Kara wrote for Adam, Danny or a Lil.
 
Even though no one in the media has acknowledged or made any kind of a fuss about Adam's sexuality, not that there's anything wrong with that, I expect some backlash to be swift from the likes of the Perez Hilton and his ilk who piled onto Miss California for espousing the same anti-gay marriage beliefs as President Obama. Indeed, the second AP article I saw on the wire led off with this: "Did Adam Lambert not win "American Idol" because he may or may not be gay?"
 
Who's not gay? Simon and Randy, at least based on their jaws-on-the-floor when Bikini Girl showed up for her Golden Idol "award," which also led to the best line of the night, and by Ryan, no less, ""I was going to ask what's new, but I think we already know," referring to her obvious chest enhancement. I'm sure her parents will be so proud when she ends up in nudie mags and burlesque shows.
 
And yet, she was completely shown up by her face-off with Kara, who busted out with a bikini at the end (for charity, she claimed) and showed off her toned body.
 
What else did we see in the annual parade of rejects, finalists, former Idols and superstars:
 
Rod Stewart was not looking or sounding good, and looked surprised when he came up that lift at the beginning of his cameo, looking around like, "Wait, where am I, what's with all the lights? Are those people out there?"
 
Then, KISS, Lionel Richie and Cyndi Lauper show up? Way to stay current, show. I tried to get Val to remember that movie Lauper did in the 80s with Jeff Goldblum, "Vibes," where she's a psychic and they're in South America looking for an ancient something or other. It was on TBS all the time 20 years ago, and at the time was rewatchable, surprisingly, sort of a poor man's "Jewel of the Nile." Now? I would probably be pretty embarrassed at being a fan. Oh, who am I kidding, I have no shame when it comes to the favorites of my childhood and adolescence.
 
Speaking of, I was on my own in our household with this, but I really enjoyed Steve Martin's banjo song as Michael and Megan sang a duet. That was just nice and pleasant, a welcome reprieve from the over-the-top loudness of the other songs. If only Martin had worn a basket on each shoulder a la Adam with KISS, that would have been high comedy.
 
Was anyone else watching Scott closely to see how much of the choreography he was able to do? He did pretty darn well, I'd say. Remember when Jorge and Alexis were on the show? Seems so long ago. And was Megan in every single top 13 song last night? Of which there were, what, 20? No offense, but by November I'm going to forget most of you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ballroom dancing, Idol singing nearly done

I have to bone to pick with Aquafina, previously my preferred bottler of filtered top water. For their 24-packs, the company has started using those weak-a** bottles like Ozarka or Nestle, the kind that crumble in your grip and when you open them the water spurts out if you're holding it too tight. Aquafina claims that they're reducing plastic to save the environment. *cough*baloney*cough*. I think we all know that this is a cost-saving move to save a few pennies per bottle, and in the process of trying to pin this on being "green" they just lost my business. Back to Dasani it is. And yes, I do, in fact, have a strong opinion about any little seemingly insignificant thing in my life.  

And now we dance and sing!

DANCING WITH THE STARS - America's sweetheart, Shawn Johnson, beat French Gilles and Bachelor-reject Melissa to become the third Olympic gold medalist to win the big shiny and gaudy mirrorball trophy. Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi and speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno previously won. The lesson? Win a gold medal, win support from the "Dancing" viewership forever, even more so than being naked in a major motion picture or dumped on national TV. So I'm just sayin', if 40-something phenom swimmer Dara Torres is on next season, place bets accordingly. So why do we bother scoring the final performances on finale night? Everyone gets 30s anyway, which won't affect the convoluted points/votes system.

AMERICAN IDOL - No matter who wins between Southern church music leader Kris and California fake Broadway rocker Adam, we can all agree on one thing: The winning song, "No Boundaries," is AWFUL. And you know it's awful when Simon tells Kara, who wrote it (with two other people, because it takes more than one to write that cheesy crap), that it was nonsense.

Clearly the judges want Adam to win, and so does the show's creator, who picked some Obamessiah-rally song that had Adam talking about gay rights after the show in interviews, and a Marvin Gaye song for Kris. Really? That's not exactly his style. What's going on with that, Simon Fuller?

Of course, does it really matter what they sang or how they did? You have your favorite, voted accordingly, and now we can name a champion and get on with forgetting about them for several months. In the end someone who finished third-through-tenth will sell more albums, anyway. If Kris wins it will be great, if Adam wins, well, he's clearly the best entertainer and has a big voice, so if that's what the show and voters want, so be it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Baby, Retirement, Graduation, J.T.'s game, Freestyle

We went for our 16-week appointment this afternoon, and all is still well with Baby Valfrey! Strong heartbeat, moving around, and the afternoon of June 15 we'll finally be able to start calling the bay "him" or "her"!

Val's feeling better, just a sore back from this weekend's kidney stone trauma. We're not sure when the stone passed, but it must have after the ER visit.

She was feeling better enough by Sunday that we even made it to morning services to hear First Baptist Millington pastor Brother Ray's final sermon. He's retiring after 33 years of faithful service and leadership that has seen the church grow into the thousands (each morning service averages about 1,000 worshippers).



Val went to the church in high school, but I only got to know him a few years ago when we decided to get married at First Baptist and they mandated pre-marriage counseling.

We've been going regularly ever since returning to Memphis, always wanting him in the pulpit. He had some great messages, with a good blend of Bible learning, stories as metaphors and some fire and brimstone when appropriate. (Let's just say that he's not exactly happy about some of the "liberal" Christian preachers out there.)

There was plenty of choking up, tears, laughs and memories all day, and a surprise. He hasn't handled baptisms in a long while, but wanted to do so on his final Sunday, and the audience audibly gasped when the final man down was his only grandson, which surely was a special moment.

Many congratulations to all of the graduates out there, especially superstud nephew Cody and his pals Kevin and Cody W., all of whom graduated on Thursday night from Brighton High. Good luck, guys! Find a recession-proof job you'll enjoy! First, Cody and Kevin are in the state tennis tournament this week in Murfreesboro to play doubles.

Also coming to a close, the TV season ...

SURVIVOR - I didn't care if J.T. or Stephen won, since we all won with their Tocatins bromance, am I right? During the reunion show nothing was revealed, Sierra was still hated for some unknown reason, everyone adored J.T. and Taj, and Coach is still a pathetic idiot.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - Kind of a waste of a season finale, wasn't it? All of the oomph of the last two weeks went nowhere this week, with silly plots about Marshall jumping off the roof and Ted designing a cowboy hat restaurant. Sure, bonus points for pushing the Robyn/Barney relationship and the Ted-goat fight, but there wasn't anything that advanced the story much.

DANCING WITH THE STARS - Two dances for our three finalists tonight, a paso doble faceoff and the freestyle, which is popular with most everyone but fuddy duddys like me and Val.

Shawn & Mark - They started their freestyle wearing black plastic suits and a mask that looked like the bad guy in "Kingdom of Heaven," looking like the creepy mimes in those Gatorade G ads. After a quick change on stage, the dance was fun but nothing resembling ballroom, which is disappointing to me and Val.

Melissa & Tony - Even less ballroom than Shawn's, they went all cheerleady hip-hop and even if it was energetic and well done, it still isn't my thing. I'll grumble about the hip-hoppers in "So You Think You Can Dance" starting Thursday, too, so at least I'm consistent? And you kids get off my lawn!

Gilles & Cheryl - This is his competition to lose, and frankly, after their freestyle I think he might have blown it. Good call on using "What a Feeling" as the song, but the routine was nothing but lifts and pelvic thrusts.

Who to root for? I'm going with Melissa. Shawn's adorable but I don't want Mark to win as her pro partner, and Gilles is awesome but we have a lot of animosity towards Cheryl. I'd like to see Tony get a win, and for Melissa to win this after getting dumped on national TV by The Bachelor, I just want to see the paparazzi tail Jason and Molly and ask them how it feels to be Cobra Kai to her Daniel-son while she is the new darling of the ABC watching world?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mind of a Soon-To-Be-Father, the funny side

Courtesy Grif.Net, some pregnancy-related laughs:

FIRST BABY

A couple was expecting their first baby. Water broke and her contractions were only two minutes apart. To say the mood was frantic would be an understatement.

The husband dialed the hospital ER and asked for help.
"Is this her first child?" the doctor queried.

"No, you idiot!" the man shouted. "This is her *husband*!"

EXERCISE

The room was full of pregnant women and their partners, and the Lamaze class was in full swing. The instructor was teaching the women how to breathe properly, along with informing the men how to give the necessary assurances at this stage of the plan.

The teacher then announced, "Ladies, exercise is good for you. Walking is especially beneficial. And, gentlemen, it wouldn't hurt you to take the time to go walking with your partner!"

The room really got quiet. Finally, a man in the middle of the group raised his hand.
"Yes?" replied the teacher.
"Is it ok if she carries a golf bag while we walk?"

NO TEST REQUIRED TO BE A PARENT

LB writes that "The other day my neighbor came running up to me in the driveway jumping for joy! I didn't know why she was jumping so excitedly, but I thought, 'What in the world??', and I starting jumping up and down along with her.

She said, 'I have some really great news!' I said, 'Great. Tell me why you're so happy.' She stopped jumping and breathing heavily from all the jumping up and down, told me that she was pregnant.

I knew she'd been trying for a while so I told her, 'That's great - I couldn't be happier for you!' Then she said, 'There's more.' I asked, 'What do you mean, there's more?'

She said, 'Well, we are not having just one baby. We are going to have TWINS!'

Amazed at how she could know so soon after getting pregnant, I asked her how she knew. She said, 'Well, that was the easy part. I went to Wal-Mart and they actually had a home pregnancy kit in a TWIN-pack. Both tests came out positive!'

FROM A MOTHER

Q: Should I have a baby after 35?
A: No, 35 children is enough.

Q: I'm two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A: With any luck, right after he finishes college.

Q: What is the most reliable method to determine a baby's sex?
A: Childbirth.

Q: My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she's borderline irrational.
A: So what's your question?

Q: My childbirth instructor says it's not pain I'll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A: Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.

Q: When is the best time to get an epidermal?
A: Right after you find out you're pregnant.

Q: Is there any reason I have to be in the delivery room while my wife is in labor?
A: Not unless the word "alimony" means anything to you.

Q: Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A: Yes, pregnancy.

Q: Do I have to have a baby shower?
A: Not if you change the baby's diaper very quickly.

Q: Our baby was born last week. When will my wife begin to feel and act normal again?
A: When the kids are in college.

That's what your mother said last night!

We haven't had any Jeopardy spoofs on SNL since Will Ferrell left, so Saturday night's reappearance was most welcome, and high comedy:

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to your places

Okay, that was a successful rehearsal for the baby's birth, everyone! Good job!

What in the heckydoodle dandy am I talking about? That would be my Darling Valerie giving birth to a kidney stone, which made her far more miserable than I imagine labor to be, and almost as long. I could possibly be proven delusional in five months.

Friday afternoon about 2, she started feeling pains in her back and tummy, which we assumed was typical for this pregnancy due to lower back problems and gastro issues that have kicked her butt over the past 15 weeks. Fill up on crackers and Sprite and send her on her way, right?

Even though she was hurtin' something fierce, she already had plans to drive up to Paris with the Jackson Gang, stopping to drop off her car north of Jackson first. The pain wasn't going away and by the time they took off she was beyond miserable, way more than watching some of Adam's "performances" on Idol made her, which says a lot. So they stopped in McKenzie at the hospital there. In case you're wondering, McKenzie is in rural West Tennessee, somewhere on the corner of No and Where.

After a battery of tests the doctor determined that she had a kidney stone, which meant that there was nothing they could do but prescribe pain meds. Her friends drive her back to Jackson to meet up with my pop-in-law and bro-in-law, so that her Dad could drive her and her car back, since I was stuck at work soloing as director for our annual Memphis in May BBQ Fest coverage, which is probably the biggest thing our station does all year long. No leaving early for me. Someone has to show our viewers how to cook a rib feast. And that's not me, but I'll make sure the beautiful bean footage rolls.

They got to our house about 11 o'clock last night, and Val was as miserable as ever. She moaned and writhed in pain all night long, tossing and turning and hacking that made her vomit frequently. Neither of us could sleep more than a couple of hours total (not that I'm equating my sleepless reasons and hers) and by 6 a.m. Val had enough and we decided to hightail it to the ER down the street at St. Francis. I don't even have a stick shift, but I had my hand on the knob ready to kick it into high gear just in case.

I did take the opportunity to note how many lights there are en route (and that they're all red all the time) and how long it takes to get there, because the due date will come due before we know it. (Of course, when it comes time for Baby Valfrey to join us, I will be flying down Hwy 64 without noting other traffic, laws or pedestrians), so maybe a dry run was unnecessary.)

Unsurprisingly the docs there came up with a kidney stone analysis after the same tests in McKenzie the night before (and you thought small-town medicine was all leeches and Coca-Cola!). This time, however, the nurse pumped Val full of sweet, sweet drugs to knock her out for a couple of hours and make here feel real good while they pumped her full of fluids via IV. I believe I heard her mumbling something about effalumps and woozels, though I can't be certain.

By 10 we were out of there, where I put Val to sleep and went to fill her prescriptions for a pain med and antibiotic. She slept for the next six hours - even after I brought home Sonic; not even the delight of a burger and tots could save her at this point - and when she woke up she only felt sore in her back and but no abdominal pains. Did she pee out the stone in the hospital before we left? We don't know, because she never saw it in the strainer they gave us this morning.

Tonight, I'm back at work for the finale of the BBQ fest, and my mom-in-law brought over her hash brown casserole and dumplings for Val and is staying with her until I get home. I tell you with joy, I never have to worry about in-law problems. They are a blessing.

And because I know you are wondering and it was freaking us out to know yesterday afternoon, the baby is fine and was never affected. Both hospitals got out this doppler thingy with a microphone to listen to the baby singing karaoke, and instead found that the baby's teeny tiny adorable heart sounds strong, so no worries! (And the baby likes performing "The Safety Dance," although I'm not sure if that leans towards a boy or a girl.)

And now that the drama is subsiding, how about a couple of TV recaps:

SURVIVOR - Farewell, Coach, you demented, embellishing and whiny "dragon slayer." Coach may be a tool, but at least he's a memorable one. We'll still laugh about his "warrior code" and forget that he got kicked off before the finale. Quick, tell me who won the season that Johnny Fairplay was on the show. I don't remember where, when or who was on that show, but he I remember. This week the show kicked it up not just a notch, but at least ten, so we all knew he was going to be kicked off by J.T., Stephen, Taj and Erinn, so why not make it memorable?

Thursday's highlights include him making excuses for not wanting to go to Exile - bad back, asthma, pygmy warriors - and then claiming he wants to use it as an excuse to "commune with nature," meaning, "I can't build a fire, I can't hunt food and I don't want to go to the water hole," which Erinn awesomely calls him on for being a big fat phony and martyr. I have asthma, too, but the only time I use it as an excuse is when I either want pity or want to get out of doing something. Otherwise, I man up, mow the lawn with a mask, take a puff on my inhaler before doing physical labor, and accept a little wheezing if it means getting a job done. What I'm saying is, essentially, Coach is a weenie, a drama queen and can't do squat.

Then, after losing the immunity challenge to J.T., he flops to the ground like he got shot with a blow dart to the neck, claiming that he was having back spasms (but don't bring out the medical team, because golly he wants to keep playing, and oh yeah, they'd totally find out he was making it all up).

Elsewhere, J.T. and Stephen's bromance takes the next level with a dinner together in fresh fluffy robes after hot showers and getting pampered. Coreys Hart and Feldman, eat your heart out!

Sunday, the finale. Will it be J.T.? Stephen? Taj? Anyone but Erinn and we'll be fine. Or Taj. Seriously, she's married to Eddie George and been nominated for a Grammy. She'll get over it.

HELL'S KITCHEN - A yawner of a finale. Danny wins, no surprise. We saw it coming since March, and deservedly so if only because everyone else except fellow finalist Paula was a mental reject from the back of the Waffle House in Smothered-Coveredville, Arkansas.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lost goes all wackadoo, Danny ousted on Idol

Wednesday I spent 15 1/2 hours at work, eight of which spent downtown at Tom Lee Park setting up for our coverage of the Memphis in May BBQ Fest today, tomorrow and Saturday. Thankfully I will be in studio directing the specials and I won't have to be downtown to break down the equipment and all the gunk that's sure to be caking it since this is also the annual Memphis In May Mud Fest and it already stormed this morning. Good luck with that, guys and gals.

Hoped to meet Val for lunch today, but my car wouldn't start. Called AAA, a guy came out in an hour, charged the battery and huzzah! When I immediately went to AutoZone, the guy tested my battery declared it to be near perfect even after over five years since I bought it with the factory-installed battery. Hopefully I just left the XM radio on and there aren't any gremlins in the engine.

AMERICAN IDOL - A bit of an upset? I know when the top 36 were revealed I had Danny penciled in as this seasons champ. My mind was still set on Danny the Robert Downey Jr. look-alike and widower with the touching personal story as the top 12 started. Thus, the judges looked shocked as heck when Kris was named as the first finalist next week. My wife? Shrieked with delight. She really likes Kris. Will it matter who faces Adam, though? Is he a sure bet? Will people vote for the light-likable rocker against the blow-the-doors-down entertainer? Will I even care by next week, so tired of it all?

LOST - Great googly moogly, this was a jam-packed show of interesting events and yet I don't think it revealed anything pertaining to unanswered questions and ended on a cliffhanger. Still, oh yes, we will be back in January for the final episodes!

Okay, the idea that nothing significant was revealed isn't exactly true. After all, we found out that "dead is dead" may still hold true since the New Crash survivors-who-have-mysterious-motives dumped his body out of their crate. And Juliet fell to the bottom of the Swan Station pit, presumably to die, although we don't know if the white flash at the end was her setting off the hydrogen bomb or a time flash to get the Lostaways back to 2007.

Which I'd like to believe since it means Juliet could still be alive, and that would be a good thing, because I've been adoring me some Juliet, so much that I was ready to suggest Juliet as part of our baby's name! She makes the tough decisions, she can be light and funny and just wants to help even at the expense of her own happiness. Save Juliet!

And screw Sawyer. What a jerk. What's with pining for Kate with that stupid look while Juliet's watching? Idiot. Can't he see that Kate is the Black Widow of the show? Everything she does, everyone she affects, ends up worse for the wear. Stay away from Kate!

We don't know anything about Jacob other than he apparently runs the island for his own amusement, at least that seems to be the charge by the older guy we see with him at the beginning when Jacob appears to draw the Black Rock to the island. To show how humanity responds to stimuli? That was confusing. But the old guy threatened to find a loophole to be able to kill Jacob, which makes one think that he is inhabiting Locke's ghostly undead body to convince Ben to kill Jacob, which he dutifully did. After The Island told Ben to follow Locke's lead, even though Locke is dead.

I'm sure there's some kind of metaphor about humanity killing God, but I don't read into shows like that.

Jacob got his kicks by visiting all of our key Lostaways at key times in their lives, not to affect it, but just in the neighborhood with a few words of advice. I have no idea what it means, other than all the talk of destiny, which would mean that nothing that happens with the bomb in '77 will matter?

Living at the foot of the statue, which we finally see is some sort of ancient Egyptian work with one of those "animal faces as a god," although Jacob's as white as they come, so I'm not sure about the Egyptian angle.

More confused than us? Has to be Richard, who keeps seeing "The Leader" come and go and Jacob and the Island telling him all kinds of different things, and probably wishing they'd all go away so he can hang out with the rest of the nameless Others.

Hey, it was Rose and Bernard! So they didn't end up way back in the past as the "Adam and Eve" of the cave in the first season, but they are enjoying lives in seclusion hiding from the Lostaways and the Dharma Initiative, and good for them! They had a fabulous "dang it all to heck" reaction when discovered.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Loser and Race finales, Dancing and Idol semis

I resumed painting the kitchen yesterday, something I'd started in September the week before my gallbladder surgery. The red on top is decent, but I never got around to doing the black around the bottom under the chair rail, so that's what I accomplished yesterday. I really hate painting. I'm terrible at it. I even put tape around the trim, but when I pulled it off the black had still seeped under in many many places, so now I have to get some teeny tiny pencil brush and go around with white paint to fix. Bah humbug.
 
Speaking of September of last year, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is batting .224 with just 14 RBIs and hasn't hit a home run since Sept. 22. Last night, however, at least Big Papi proved that if you can't hit, you might as well BE hit and take one for the team, getting hit in the hands in the eighth inning to "drive in" the Sox' second run of the game in what became a come-from-behind win in Anaheim. Sure, he'll have a lot of bruises, but at least he'll be useful.
 
AMAZING RACE - Ouch. Team Deaf was far ahead as they entered the final Roadblock, one of those 'remember what you did the previous 11 legs," and doing great until the final two where he kept getting it wrong and growing more and more frustrated, so much that Victor caught and passed him on the way to Team Asian's win. The Cheerleaders, as usual, had taxi problems en route to finishing second. This time, though, they had a right to get upset when their driver called to get directions, and the lady on the other end gave them lip and told them she wasn't their "personal concierge." Hey lady, you work for a taxi company, your job is to deliver paying customers to the location of their choice! It's an island, for goodness' sake! Not that they deserved to win, what their yelling at any foreigner who dared speak another language, and we're not sure about the Asians winning, either, since the Mandarin speakers had such an advantage for three legs in China. But they were the best overall team, so whatever. They didn't tick us off, so there's that.
 
BIGGEST LOSER - The finale was 3 hours long. For real. And likewise, this season started way, way back on New Year's as I was taking down the Christmas tree, and until now we didn't know just how fierce the old folks were! First, Jerry returned and won the at-home prize looking very dapper and amazingly fit despite nearly dying in the first episode, and then Helen returned weighing just 117 pounds, having lost over 54 percent of her weight (140 total), after most thought that either young Mike or machine Tara would win the whole shebang. Reading the AP story I see that Helen's husband may lose his job with Chrysler if they go forward with shutting his plant next year, so that $250,000 prize should help. It should also help bail out their daughter, Shannon should she find herself in more legal hot water. I expect the guy she doused with flour a few months ago will be suing now that her family has come into some dough, so to speak. So long as Godfather Ron or Whiny Filipe and Weepy Sione didn't win any of the prizes, I was okay with it.
 
DANCING WITH THE STARS - Ty finally got bucked from this bull, leaving famous-for-being-naked-and-French Gilles, gymnast Shawn and dumped Melissa as our final three next week. Ty was fun and adorable, but the talent was never there to compete for the mirrorball trophy, if this is indeed a dancing competition, I mean. He'll go back to being a rodeo champion and married to Jewel, so I'm sure Ty will be fine.
 
AMERICAN IDOL - I finally decided last night while watching Kara drone on and on and trying to sound insightful even though no one's opinion will be changed anymore that I just want this season to get over with already. Val's been there for a few weeks, especially since she knows that Adam has been groomed to win it all from the beginning, and her favorite, Kris, doesn't stand a chance. I've been a fan of Danny's Robert Downey Jr. looks and a sucker for his widower story, but he won't be able to defeat the fake 70s Broadway rocker, either. So let's just give Adam the crown, congratulate him for putting on a good show, and forget about him by next January's tryouts.
 
Is it even necessary to go through their two performances from last night? They sang like you've heard them sing for three months now. Vote for your favorite. Repeat. I did appreciate Simon for calling out Kara for picking a song for Kris and then ripping his arrangement. I've heard his "Apologize" a few times at work, and it sounds really good, better than I remembered last night. Paula did Danny no favors for that "Dance Little Sister" song, which I'm betting the vast majority of the audience had never heard Terrence Trent D'arby sing years ago.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mowin', Ribs and Dancin'

This morning I mowed the lawn for the first time in two weeks, and considering this has been Memphis' monsoon season and it's rained for two straight weeks, the grass was almost a foot high in places and thick, so much so that small children could get lost a la "Honey I Shrunk the Kids," without being shrunk.

Still, y'all, I didn't find any golf balls, nor did I run over any. So either the golfers aren't playing in the rain, or they're traipsing into our yard to find their wayward shots. Hey, you kids stay out of my lawn!

I would also like to point out that now that our yard is freshly mowed and looks grand, it's the young couple across the street with the high grass bringing down the rest of the cove. Take that, hip young couple and your Christmas decorations!

*Ahem* Sorry, still being too competitive.

Val and I went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner (where we ran into her uncle Glenn, aunt Stephanie, cousin Jonathan and girlfriend Stephanie, for the second time in just four visits to the restaurant - which begs the question: How often are they there?).

We - meaning I, since I had the craving, not the pregnant wife - had a hankering for their ribs, which almost turned into a disaster. At first, our server told us they were out of ribs. *Jaw drop.* Which is like, what, KFC running out of chicken? (Which I've also seen happen at least twice personally.)

Minutes later she returned and told us that they'd be ready in 10-15 minutes, which means we could let her live. And the time didn't matter, since we started out with cheese fries for free, courtesy of Michael and his free appetizer coupon that he gave us after their trip last year to Memphis. Big ups, M.C.!

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER - So Stella really isn't The Mother and she and former ex Tony are in L.A. where he wrote a popular movie called "The Wedding Bride," (coming out in 2010), and we're told to "stay tuned." Hmmm, okay. But does that explain all the talk last week of Ted running into Stella leading to The Mother? And what's with the yellow umbrella? Meanwhile, Barney stinks at talking himself out of a speeding ticket, and Ted won't build a "murder house" and Lily (a very pregnant Alyson) shows up for 30 seconds at the end to say hey and leave.

DANCING WITH THE STARS - This show could have been an hour long instead of two. What a waste of time. The first half-hour was spent watching two dances by each of the final four couples critiquing themselves. Why, exactly? Hey, here's an idea, I'll stipulate to the fact that you're having a great time, you had a hard time figuring out how to ballroom dance, and now you're pretty good at it. There, half-hour chopped off, right there.

Melissa & Tony - Her family is behind her on this show, unlike "The Bachelor" when they refused to meet with Jason or allow the crew near them, which, good for them now that we know Jason's a moron. Melissa and Tony represented my favorite dancing of the night. The quickstep was playful and in step with the music. The cha cha had a couple of nice tricks, smooth moves and her dress looked like she unwrapped a disco ball. The judges, however, decided to nitpick her and thus her scores weren't as good as we thought they should have been. (28-27=55)

Gilles & Cheryl - Earlier in the show, Tom actually broaches the topic of Cheryl being such a witch in rehearsals, and like any good abused learner, Gilles says he needed the tough love. Their waltz may have been technically sounds and the judges loved it, but I thought it was Bore City. I don't like the dances where the star sits on a chair waiting for the pro to make moves for 10-15 seconds off the top. It's a move that screams, "We didn't practice enough on any other moves." Ye gads, their salsa is the perfect dance for him. That was a hot routine, and all credit to Cheryl. As Len says, "I wish I had a 11 paddle." (30-30=60)

Shawn & Mark - The music of their Argentine tango was awful. Though she looked good in the kicks I flat don't get the dance. The judges give her a perfect score, so what do I know? Second time around Shawn didn't seem loose enough for the jive. She wasn't in sync and seemed to be struggling to keep up. The judges score accordingly, and Mark looks ticked and pouts all the way back to the kiss-and-cry room. Mark's a tool. (30-26=56)

Ty & Chelsie - Bless his heart. He tries so hard. He just never learned the "gay arms" or how to smooth out the stiff edges in their Viennese waltz. The samba was pretty painful to watch, between his flubs and lack of any hip motion whatsoever, and like the waltz it inspired a judge flame war between Len and Carrie Ann/Bruno, who clearly know Ty should go but apparently Len thinks they're scoring him low to try and ensure it. How Chelsie got Ty to dance decently at all after the first few weeks should earn her an Emmy. She rocks. (25-23=48)

Who's going home Tuesday night? If there's any justice it will be Ty, but Melissa's not far enough ahead of Ty on points for us to be comfortable. After all, Lil was a good six clear of Ty last week and his voters vaulted him above Lil, a much better dancer.

Where blogging happens

Have you seen those black-and-white NBA "where will amazing happen" ads with the soft piano music to add to the dramatics? Naturally, this was Parody City, and YouTubers delivered:



Monday, May 11, 2009

Obama thought it was hilarious

Comparing golf analyst David Feherty's much-maligned anti-Pelosi joke with "comedian" Wanda Sykes' performance at the White House Correspondence Dinner last night:
Here is what David Feherty, a golf guy who poses no threat to the memory of Lenny Bruce, wrote in a Dallas magazine recently:

"If you gave any U.S. soldier a gun with two bullets in it, and he found himself in an elevator with Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Osama Bin Laden, there's a good chance that Nancy Pelosi would get shot twice, and Harry Reid and Bin Laden would be strangled to death."

Not funny. An old joke, tastelessly retold. Feherty of CBS - who once wrote a book called "Somewhere in Ireland a Village is Missing an Idiot" - is drawing fire because of it. But you have to wonder how a similar joke might have played at the White House Correspondents' dinner on Saturday night, as long as it was about a Republican.

Because here are a couple of jokes Wanda Sykes wrote and then delivered to that crowd:

"You know, you might want to look into this, [President Obama], because I think maybe Rush Limbaugh was the 20th hijacker, but he was just so strung out on OxyContin he missed his flight. ...

"Rush Limbaugh hopes the country fails? I hope his kidneys fail, how 'bout that?"
...
But what if Limbaugh, white talk show host, goes on the air and says that Sykes, black comedian, is about half-a-terrorist and that, oh by the way, he hopes she dies? Is he allowed to say he's just an entertainer, and tell everybody to lighten up?
In case you're curious, Obama and his left-wing media minions thought it was a laugh riot.

Our ancestors had some weird things going on

The Commercial Appeal's Memphis Memories is on a roll finding stuff from 125 years ago in 1884. The paper back then also seemed to either have a weird sense of humor, or snobby disdain for the less refined in Memphis:

May 9:
The race between Shock, riding a bicycle, and O'Leary, astride a horse, at the Exposition Building was resumed at noon yesterday and kept merrily going until midnight.

At midnight, O'Leary and his horse had traveled a total of 300 miles since the race started and Shock, 296 miles on his bicycle.

May 8:
A section of bluff above Jackson Mound, in Fort Pickering, fell into the river yesterday with a loud splash, attracting the curious for blocks around and immediately starting the usual rumors among the cooks and maids that the world was coming to an end.

May 7:
Strawberries are a little more plentiful in the market now, the poor people having to pay but 25 cents a quart for them. But with all the recent rain and warm weather the berries will soon be cheap enough to be bought by the rich folks, who are much more careful about spending their money than the poor people are.

Fox News doesn't know their deflector dish from their dilithium crystals

I happened upon Fox News Channel's bottom of the hour news update at 9:30 CST Sunday night, and for the story on "Star Trek" winning the box office this weekend they ran video of "Star Trek: First Contact."

As it played, I thought, "Wait, is that a Borg cube the ships are attacking? ... And there's the round Borg ship leaving for Earth! Oh come on, Fox!"

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Equal opportunity offender

In "D Magazine," Irish golf analyst David Feherty - in an article about how people in Dallas would react to former pres. W. moving into town - made a tasteless joke about how the military would shoot Nancy Pelosi instead of Osama Bin Laden.

Even though it was written in March, once the left-wing media got a hold of this tidbit, they went freaking nuts last week. Articles all over mentioned the Pelosi joke and the hubbub over it, and yet I can't help but think that there was something they missed.

Oh yeah, he also joked about how he believed in the death penalty, "especially for pro-lifers, child molesters, those opposed to gay marriage..." as if those are all equal? So media, where's the outrage at the latter comments, as if it's any less offensive than the former?

Notes on a Sunday afternoon

Saturday was spent sweaty and tired helping my sister-in-law, Cheryl, and her family move. I'm not saying it wore me out, I'm  just saying that they had a lot of heavy and bulky stuff that was probably full of bowling balls and dark matter, is all.
 
In the deal we did get Val's family's piano, so that was cool. Val called me that evening to say hi and play me "Ode to Joy." She's so adorable. (The piano needs tuning, though, or she's out of practice.)
 
Congrats to superstud nephew Cody and bud Kevin, winners of their regional tennis tournament in doubles. The dynamic duo will head to state in a couple of weeks after graduating this Thursday!
 
Here is some TV I never got around to this week:
 
SURVIVOR - Coach is still on this show? Really? Is it because he's such an idiot and pompous lying jerk that everyone knows he can't win the vote at the end? Because I'm not willing to take that chance. Instead, Debbie takes a hike, which is fine since she orchestrated some of the lying and meanness to Sierra. Bonus points to Jeff for making fun of Coach and his "I'm a warrior" nonsense, asking sarcastically if he got that from a "chief of a small village."
 
That was the shortest food auction ever. Four items? That's it? No big vats of peanut butter and chocolate to leave the women contestants unable to breathe for drooling too much? And I know I'd miss my wife, but is it really that emotional when you see them? You've only been away for a month, it's not like you just got back from a two year trek to Mars. I mean, yeah, I'd rub Val's feet (even if I was the one playing the game) and we'd joke, but much of the time would be spent strategizing or I'd be killing all the bugs in camp for her.
 
HELL'S KITCHEN - We didn't watch. There wasn't going to be any cooking or drama by the final two designing their "restaurants." Next week is the actual finale.
 
SCRUBS - Season finale and possible series finale had J.D. quitting the hospital. The ending was very sweet, a possible future fantasy where he marries Elliot (Sarah Chalke), has kids to play with Carla and his Big Brown Bear and Perry, and yeah, it almost got weepy in Valfrey Estates.
 
 
 

Next year Val gets to stand up and be recognized



Thank you, Mom, and Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there, and of course mommys-to-be, too, including my Darling Val! Thank you for carrying the load and being miserable for our little Baby Valfrey!

This morning First Baptist Millington had the annual baby dedication, and there were approxmitely 35 babies, which with the moms and dads realy packed that stage. So next year we'll have a six-month-old and be a part of a very big group of parents. I haven't seen it, but their nursery must be huge! And noisy.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Jeff's Top 5: Star Trek

Saw "Star Trek" Friday afternoon and have this to say first ... As a lifelong Trekkie, the trailers and previews to the new "Star Trek" prequel really had me scared of what J.J. Abrams was doing, but I do give it a thumbs-up, even more so by watching it with Val, who could care less about the Star Trek universe but was completely engrossed and entertained and talked glowingly about it afterward. So I put aside my worries and just enjoyed another Trek movie with all the favorite characters, and treated it as a summer action blockbuster and not something that should affect how I think about the mythology of the six TV shows and 10 movies before it.

My larger "Star Trek" review is upcoming, but first, let's take a look back at where Gene Roddenberry's creation has taken us, exploring new worlds where few have gone before:

SERIES:

1. "Deep Space Nine" - I wasn't a huge fan when it was first out, but in syndication you can watch it every day and appreciate the evolution of the characters and the plots, the nuances of how it freely delved into religion and racial conflict, the cast was more than just stock sci-fi stereotypes and there was time spent on figuring out why the bad guys did what they did. Plus, it's the only one that involved an ongoing war, with the coolest space battles.

2. "The Next Generation" - The one I grew up with, the newer, modern, diverse cast, plus introducing interesting foils like Q and the Borg.

3. "The Original Series" - Cheesy at times, no doubt it was harder hitting in the turbulent late 60s before I was born, but the personalities of the characters make every episode a classic.

4. "Enterprise" - The prequel before the prequel, it was interesting at first if only to see how they presented Starfleet's original exploration with new technology, then devolved into the boring "aliens of the week" plots until the 9/11 story gave it a kick.

5. "Voyager" - I liked the premise - send Starfleet into unchartered space and see how they get home - yet it spent way too much time on holodeck stories or turning cool villains like Species 8472 into wishy-washy aliens "with feelings" who just wanted to shake hands.

CAPTAINS:

1. Benjamin Sisko (Avery Brooks) - His growl could scare away any outlaw on the station, and he was a huge baseball fan.

2. James T. Kirk (William Shatner) - The epitome of how you want your ship's captain to act, with some swagger, some diplomacy, a sense of humor and a dedication to duty.

3. Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) - He was French, which would explain why he so freely gave up the ship so often.

4. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) - Seemed to be trying too hard at times to be captainly.

5. Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) - She could be authoritative, but didn't have a very good growl.

FIRST OFFICERS:

1. William T. Riker, "The Next Generation" - A ladies man and more willing to give a punch when Captain Picard wouldn't.

2. Spock, "The Original Series" - Logically, the most solid choice when you need help in a pinch.

3. T'Pol, "Enterprise" - She wouldn't go overboard and get you killed, at least.

4. Chakotay, "Voyager" - He sure was quick to abandon his rebel Maquis ways and join up with Janeway.

5. Kira Nerys, "Deep Space Nine" - A real spitfire who loved her people and would do anything to protect them.

ALIEN CHARACTERS ON TV:

1. Q, "The Next Generation" - Has the whole universe in his hand, and uses it to toy with Picard and his crew. Much to my entertainment.

2. Guinan, "The Next Generation" - Whoopi Goldberg, surprisingly, was a breath of fresh air and soothing advice behind the bar of Ten Forward.

3. Lwaxana Troi, "The Next Generation" - Deanna's mom (played by Majel Barrett Roddenberry) was sassy!

4. Dukat, "Deep Space Nine" - A Cardassian bada**.

5. Weyoun, "Deep Space nine" - A Vorta who could be cloned, and created to serve the Founders. So slimy.

DOCTORS:

1. Beverly Crusher, "The Next Generation" - Crush being the operative word. She was one sexy redhead.

2. Bones McCoy, "The Original Series" - Dangit, he's a doctor, not a comedian! And still a regular quip-o-matic.

3. Julian Bashir, "Deep Space Nine" - Smartest guy in the galaxy, but not arrogant about it.

4. Dr. Phlox, "Enterprise" - His methodology was odd, but effective.

5. The Doctor, "Voyager" - Not much for social skills, though he is a hologram, so what you do expect?

MOVIE VILLAINS

1. Khan, "The Wrath of Khan" - Delicious in his yearning for revenge on Kirk, so unwielding, so angry, such manly pecs.

2. Borg Queen, "First Contact" - Strangely sexy.

3. General Chang, Shakespeare-quoting Klingon, "The Undiscovered Country" - Okay, so Kim Catrall and sinister Starfleet members were the real bad guys, but this dude was pretty cool and before the Klingon Empire went belly-up he would have rocked Kirk.

4. "God," "The Final Frontier" - What does "God" need with a starship?

5. Cmdr. Kruge, "Search for Spock" - Christopher Lloyd ate it up as a Klingon.

Not so much: Malcolm McDowell, "Generations"; Praetor Shinzon, "Nemesis"; Adhar Ru'afo, "Insurrection"; V'ger, "The Motion Picture"; Cigar-shaped whale-talking craft, "The Voyage Home."

SHIPS (Besides the U.S.S. Enterprise)

1. Klingon Bird-of-Prey - The one ship that would inflict fear on anyone who sees them in their front viewscreen.

2. Borg cube - A box of pain.

3. U.S.S. Voyager - I just liked how the engines folded up when it was time for warp speed.

4. Romulan warbird - Mysterious, plenty of firepower and not afraid to use cloak technology.

5. U.S.S. Defiant - Plucky craft used by Captain Sisko in "Deep Space Nine."

MOVIES

1. "The Wrath of Khan" - The best villain, the original crew still strong and crafty, the best of the movies by a warp factor of five.

2. "First Contact" - The best of the "Next Generation" movies, it combined all the elements of wonder and Trek mythology.

3. "The Voyage Home" - Could have been the cheesiest with the time travel and "save the whales" message, but it was too much fun not to be enjoyed.

4. "The Undiscovered Country" - A Cold War analogy ruined by a plot that involved Federation weenies sabotaging the peace.

5. "The Final Frontier" - I know, I know, this one was completely panned upon release, but I quite enjoy the humor and religious discussion. It's not like that dude was actually The God.

ENGINEERS

1. Scotty, "The Original Series" - Could pull anything out of his butt with just a little more time.

2. Miles O'Brien, "Deep Space Nine" - Spent a lot of time on his back fixing things in the nick of time, but had his own personal story to explore.

3. Geordi La Forge, "The Next Generation" - Not just a blind guy with a visor, he had the best technobabble of them all.

4. Charles "Trip" Tucker, "Enterprise" - Had Kirk's swagger, ship's lothario, only one who could keep that bucket of bolts going warp speed.

5. B'Elanna Torres, "Voyager" - Awfully whiny for a klingon.

PILOTS

1. Wesley Crusher, "The Next Generation" - Unintentional comedy rating through the ROOF. Extra points for landing a young Ashley Judd, even if she was a shapeshifting alien monster.

2. Hikaru Sulu, "The Original Series" - Quick with a quip, never missed a turn.

3. Tom Paris, "Voyager" - I appreciate his love of old science-fiction movies, but he caved into the over-emotional Torres as his wife far too much.

4. Nog, "Deep Space Nine" - Went from an annoying Ferengi (aren't they all?) to a regular we could root for.

5. Travis Mayweather, "Enterprise" - Didn't add a whole lot to the show. I can't remember any relevent stories for him.

SECURITY

1. Worf, "The Next Generation," "Deep Space Nine" - Why wouldn't you have a Klingon protecting you?

2. Odo, "Deep Space Nine," - While Worf was a physical security chief, Odo used his shape-shifting to provide more of a detective role.

3. Natasha Yar, "The Next Generation," - Seduced Data, killed stupidly by a blob of goo.

4. Malcolm Reed, "Enterprise" - Whiny Brit, but he was good at making the first Enterprise battle ready.

5. Tuvok, "Voyager" - Logical, if not particularly gruff.

QUOTES:

1. "Damn it, Bones, you're a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!" "The Final Frontier"

2. "Revenge is a dish best served cold." "The Undiscovered Country"

3. "How are "we" doing? Funny you should put it quite that way, Jim. "We" are doing fine." - Bones in "The Search for Spock," trying to stay sane with Spock's memories.

4. "KHAAANNNN!" - Kirk, "The Wrath of Khan." Such conviction! Such a ruse!

5. "You broke your little ships." - Lily, "First Contact," making Picard realize that he is Captain Ahab and the Borg are his Moby Dick.

Honorable mentions:

"Your use of language has altered since our arrival. It is currently laced with, shall we say, more colorful metaphors, "double dumb-ass on you" and so forth." - Spock, trying to figure out the language to blend in to mid-80s San Francisco in "The Voyage Home"

"I don't need to be lectured by you. I was out saving the galaxy when your grandfather was in diapers. Besides which, I think the galaxy owes me one." - Kirk to Picard, "Generations"

"So you're all astronauts on some sort of... star trek?" - Zefram Cochrane, "First Contact." Cute.

"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile." - Ooooh, scary!

"Out there... thataway." - Kirk, to the ensign at the end of "The Motion Picture," ready for adventure anywhere the ship leads.

"The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain." - Scotty, "The Search for Spock."

"What does God need with a spaceship?" - Kirk, "The Final Frontier"

"This is Admiral Kirk. We tried it once your way, Khan, are you game for a rematch? Khan, I'm laughing at the "superior intellect."" - Kirk, egging Khan on, "The Wrath of Khan"

"Listen, kiddo, Jim Kirk was *many* things, but he was *never* a Boy Scout! " - Carol Marcus, "The Wrath of Khan"

"To the last, I will grapple with thee... from Hell's heart, I stab at thee! For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee!" - Khan, quoting "Moby Dick" in "The Wrath of Khan"

"Spock: This is a new brig, Captain. Completely escape-proof. To guarantee that, they used the most intelligent, most resourceful person they could find. He was unable to escape.
Kirk: This person didn't happen to have pointed ears, and a propensity for getting his shipmates in trouble, did he?
Spock: He did have pointed ears." - "The Final Frontier"

Friday, May 08, 2009

Indians can't get us out, Manny out for 50 games

The good news: The Red Sox routed Cleveland last night, 13-3, tying a Major League record by sending 12 batters to the plate before recording their first out, going, in sequence: single, walk, double, walk, single, walk, double, single, single, single, single, home run.

The bad news: It isn't a terribly big stretch for the pundits and fans of other teams to start trying to minimize the Red Sox championships in '04 and '07 now that Manny has been outed as a big fat cheater. Me? I don't know if he did it or not in Boston, but I don't think it diminishes the titles at all.

The sad news: Former Red Sox great, Dom DiMaggio, died today at the age of 92. He was a seven-time All-Star for the Red Sox, sharing the outfield with Ted Williams and living in the shadow of his famous Dang Yank brother, Joe. Elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in '95, DiMaggio had a lifetime batting average of .298. He scored more than 100 runs seven times, twice leading the American League in that category. He hit safely in 34 consecutive games, a Red Sox record, in 1949.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Unsecured load

So I'm sitting at the light leaving work, and there's a work van sitting in the middle of the road on Highland, two workers trying to pick these pipes up off the road after they weren't properly secured, and the company name turns out to be Rushing Plumbing. Dear me, I hope they aren't related.

Hurley is not very good at math

Plenty of random musings on our shows last night ...
 
LOST - Repeat after me: "Just let it be." Don't overanalyze, don't get too caught up in the paradoxes and space-time anomalies. Like one of the better "Star Trek" episodes, I'm enjoying the jumping around and how the different storylines from different years don't seem to interact, and we have no guess as to how it's all going to come together.
 
Considering next week's previews showed everyone running around the island again, it won't take long for Sawyer, Juliet and homewrecker Kate to get off the Dharma sub. Pooh. I was hoping that Sawyer and Juliet would live happily ever after back in the "real" world, like he said, buying stock in Microsoft and betting big on the Cowboys in the '78 Super Bowl. I really, really, hope Kate is a "shocking" death sometime before this is all over, because she's outlived her usefulness since midway through season one. I was with Juliet, who had that look on the sub of, "Daggumit! How do I get rid of this chick?"
 
There sure are a lot of Others. Where did they all come from? How old are they? Have they all been there the same amount of time? Sayid shows up and kills a Redshirt Other, which happens a lot, so how are they replenished?
 
Young Eloise is all eager to set off the bomb, but wouldn't that mean that she and Widmore never make Farraday, so he's never born or comes to the island or gets shot by her ... I'm just saying that there are loose ends to her logic.
 
Radzinsky has to die in an awesome way, right? They can't let him beat up our stars and get away with it, right?
 
Jack is Mr. Assertive again. Great. When's the last time he was right about anything?
 
The funniest bit, as usual, was Hurley when he was tricked by Dr. Chang into admitting they ain't from 'round these parts (or time, as it were), such as when he's asked what year he was born and who was president, not that Hurley would remember who is president in his own time, either.
 
AMERICAN IDOL - Once again we recognize the rule: Don't sing a song that will seem ironic if you have to sing it out after getting eliminated. And thus Allison was in tears as she sang "Cry Baby" on her way out. Poor girl. She seemed so nice and funny, but I never liked her voice so I will not shed tears.
 
Not only was Paula lip-synching (it was barely even her voice due to all the electronic manipulations), but she danced like one of the celebrities on "Dancing With the Stars" who isn't sure on their feet in week two. Not that I blame her. She still looks great to be trying this 20 years after her heyday. .
 
(Really, really trying to keep from telling a joke regarding Adam liking having two cute guys with him for the rest of the show.)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Slash mentors on Idol. What, Gwar wasn't available?

So far this season it's Red Sox 5, Dang Yanks 0. Josh Beckett even earned a win despite allowing a three-run homer to Captain Caveman (Johnny Damon). Thanks for spending that $1.5 billion on the new ballpark, New York. We're loving it so far! And don't you think that the Steinbrenners are cursing the guy who buried the Red Sox jersey in the concrete last year? Sure, they found it, but what else was hidden by Dang Yank Haters deep within the bowels? A-Rod's dirty syringes? Schilling's bloody sock?

Meanwhile, at the homestead, Sunday night Val called me twice, first to report a leak at the kitchen window, and second to tell me that the microwave zapped off and wouldn't reset. So either we have poltergeists or I can't leave her home alone. The baby's already zapping her brain as it is. I'd tell her that she has short-term memory loss but she wouldn't remember by the time this blog ended. (Love ya, Hon! Thanks for carrying my spawn!)

Instead of actually, you know, fixing those problems inside the house yesterday, instead I did what I feel qualified to do, and that is to lift heavy things. I went back to the scary pile in the backyard for two more wheelbarrow loads full of bricks and rotting wood. Found two more golf balls under the rubble. I'm guessing if the feds don't shut me down by protecting the pile as a protected area, I'll find a lot of interesting objects underneath, including actual golfers who got lost looking for their balls, then trapped in my backyard and their playing partners just figured they wandered off the course and played on.

Now for the TV, oh glorious provider of entertainment, that which doesn't judge me for my Jell-O pudding cups ...

THE BIGGEST LOSER - Surprise! Contestants have to run the first Biggest Loser Marathon, which Helen says is the first time any Loser has had to do it. Well, except for Dane (of Blaine?) when he went home earlier this season and would have finished if a Loser producer hadn't gotten antsy for a photo-op and driven him to the finish. Obviously this producer also arranged the Air Force One flyover/freakout of New York. 

After 26.2 miles, as if there was any doubt, Tara wins in four hours, 55 minutes, Helen is next at five hours, 50 minutes, and having to walk due to a bad hip, Mike finishes two minutes shy of nine hours (which, then, it's safe to say, is what my time would be, not including stops to cry and order Chinese food at mile 15.) Ron struggles but ultimately makes it in 13 hours, which, hey, at least he didn't keel over dead afterwards like that wuss Pheidippides who ran the first marathon in ancient Greece, am I right?

At the weigh-in, Ron and Mike end up losing 10 pounds apiece, which is a lower percentage than Helen's seven-pound loss and Tara's ten-pound drop. Now they all go back home, but Ron and Mike have to let American vote to decide who gets to make the final three. Ron asks America to vote for Mike, which if you remember, Ed did for Heba last season, only to have it backfire. But in that case Heba was the unlikable one, so Mike might have enough followers to keep going, though Val is worried that Tara's fans will vote for Ron to keep her toughest competition out of the final three.
 
I think Mike should have done a lot better at the weigh-in. At 19 he doesn't have a job to worry about, no social life keeping him busy, so he can workout and go to school with hours to spare. And yet he whined about pressure. Whatever, dude.
 
You want pressure? Try grocery shopping for a wife who can't eat anything because it makes her nauseous, hates three-fourths of what she used to like, and can't think of food long enough to provide a decent list.

DANCING WITH THE STARS - I watched mainly for DanceCenter, but it was also a bit of a shocker in last night's result show, with rapper Lil' going home instead of Ty, which can be good or bad. A bubbly personality and a great dancer is gone, but a charmer remains and I'm glad pro partner Chelsie sticks around as well. I'm worried that the judges will backlash against Ty next week, scoring him lower than they normally would in an attempt to keep him out of the finale.
 
The judges also may have made an enemy with Cheryl, after telling former partner Maurice - back for a dance with one of the pros trying out for next season - that he's "never been better." Instead of crazy people dancing on monkey bars as the guest dancers, next week I request to see a recreation of the performances in "The Running Man" that happened between levels of Richard Dawson trying to kill Arnold. That would be awesome.
AMERICAN IDOL - Apparently the Idol gods weren't happy with this week, raining down a big freaking sign and glass on the stage, canceling the dress rehearsal by the singers. The show's bright idea for Rock Night was to copy DWTS, pair the final four up and have them sing duets in addition to their solos. I don't know if it's going to matter, though, because it comes across as like when the Grammys team up a couple of random singers for a performance that's loud and you can't hear any actual singing, but it's a great show so I trust everyone in the audience had a fun time.

Adam - He's already a 70s rocker, so picking a Led Zeppelin song wasn't a stretch, and he rocks it out and the crowd goes nuts and can we just give him the title already? It really was one of his best performances, but it should have been. During his song Val deadpanned that the judges would go nuts and call him a rock god. And here's Kara afterwards, declaring Adam to be a "rock god." Good call, babe!

Allison - Sings a Janis Joplin song, and as usual it depends on what you think of her, which to me is just, "meh." Her hair is red, her voice is raspy, I can't understand much of what she says.

Kris - His choice of "Get Together" by the Beatles wasn't terrible, but we've heard it so many times. Kris is Val's favorite, with the purest voice according to her, and I can definitely say that he was better than Allison.

Danny - Got his scream on with Aerosmith's "Dream On," and yeah, it's just not his genre. Even Slash wasn't enthusiastic about his chances. The judges, of course, rip him for not being a rocker on Rock Night, which, shut up, judges.

Who goes home? My pick is Allison, but I wonder if it will be Kris. Danny's voters won't jump ship and Adam's off-Broadway pals will rally to prevent another bottom two finish, which we all know didn't actually happen and the judges made it up to be dramatic, right? Like when Ruben "beat" Clay?