Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hooray?

While we were sleeping, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the U.S. of North America did the Red Sox' bidding and smacked down Texas to give Boston the wild card.
 
Which is good, because the Sox weren't in a hurry to do so themselves, getting swept by the Dang Yanks this past weekend at The House A-Rod's Steroid Supplier Built, and then two more to Toronto back home.
 
And yet, I remain free of worry.
 
Which is a lie. Because every time I turn on Baseball Tonight, the Dang Yanks are celebrating another walk-off win and bouncing up and down like the '04 Sox, while the Sox would be asleep every night if not for Victor Martinez (a.k.a V-Mart from now on), who is awesome times ten.
 
By the way, Boston leads the majors with seven wild card berths, which seems like an ignominious record, because it means that we could beat the Dang Yanks seven times to win the division. It's also the sixth playoff trip in the past seven years, so at least I've been able to stay interested into October, which is more than most fans can say about their teams. (Seriously, do Pirates and Royals fans even pay attention after May?)

Swimsuit models get no respect

It's week two of DANCING WITH THE CZARS (no, wait, that's the Obamadministration's weekly party - and yes, there probably is a Dancing Czar by now) ...
 
My apologies for missing the Monday recap; I was busy putting together Cooper's crib, and then we watched the Cowboys game instead.
 
Skipping to last night's results, which weren't entirely unexpected, Debi & Maks and Kathy & Tony were in the bottom two, with Kathy Ireland going home.
 
Meanwhile, Joss Stone, an actual artist, put on some great entertainment, while fake pop Disney star Selena lip-synched. And then we were entirely fascinated by the USC marching band in the studio, so much so that the stompy dancers on stage with them were messing it all up. I was like, "Go away, hoppers, let's see the guys in the Trojan outfits do some stepping!"
 
We did watch Monday's performances, albeit a day late, so here's a quick look at my thoughts:
 
JOANNA & DEREK - She says they have great chemistry, but neglects to mention that it's because he's spending all of his time hitting on her, and she's letting him.
 
NATALIE & ALEC - The most boring couple, and she has to remind herself to smile, which is never a good sign.
 
CHUCK & ANNA T. - He's very stiff, very deliberate, like, "1,2,3 ... annnd KICK!"
 
MELISSA & MARK - She looked like Minnie Mouse in that red polka dot outfit.
 
MICHAEL & ANNA D. - He's very smiley and it looked okay, but not as good as the judges scored.
 
DEBI & MAKS - They appear to not be getting along swell in rehearsals. Neither are Aaron and Karina. Hmmm, wonder if Karina and Maks' breakup had something to do with it?
 
LOUIE & CHELSIE - I didn't watch him, and I think it's because of her on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE that I feel like I'm supposed to pay attention to her. Val and I noticed that she's lose some weight, especially those thick thighs that all the contemporary dancers sport on SYTYCD.
 
AARON & KARINA - Their use of The Muppet Show theme, including his green Kermie outfit and Animal and Gonzo playing, was my second favorite theme routine of all time, behind Joey's "Star Wars" dance a few years back.
 
KELLY & LOUIS - She stumbled and smiled every time, which made it easier to tell when she screwed up. Get it back together, Kelly!
 
KATHY & TONY - Not that bad, a little slow, but they covered the floor nicely and he made her look as elegant as he did Jane Seymour and Susan Lucci.
 
MARK & LACEY - No more karate kicks, but she still incorporated a lot of gymnastics in flips and jumps and twirls.
 
MYA & DMITRY - This year's ringer, it could come back to haunt her, since we like to watch stars learn and grow as dancers, while she's already on top.
 
TOM & CHERYL - Carrie Ann told the former House Speaker to "squeeze 'em!" Just so you know. He was actually doing quite well until he almost fell on her at the end, hence Carrie Ann's comment.
 
DONNY & KYM - Since it was revealed that he's a big cheater by hiring a ballroom coach for the past year, I can't root for him to win, but he is a heck of a showman.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Baby Valfrey Points Challenge Is About To Close!

Hey folks! It's almost time to submit all answers for the Challenge! You may also change your answers if you so wish!

I will close the contest entries as of Sunday night, because our mini Cooper could come at any time! Thanks to everyone for their support and for playing along!

By the way, my sister Stephanie introduced that instead of being Valfrey, now that we will be a family of three, that we should go by "Jooperie" from now on. Discuss.

PLEASE NOTE: I CHANGED ONE CATEGORY FROM "WILL HE HAVE HAIR" TO "WHAT COLOR WILL HIS HAIR BE" WHICH COULD ALSO BE "NONE" IF YOU SO WISH.

1. Gender (Too late!) - 25 points for the correct answer, 0 for picking incorrectly.

2. Date of Birth - 50 points for being spot on, 40 if off by one day, 35 for two, 30 for three, 25 for four, 20 for five, 18 for six, 16 for seven, 14 for eight, 12 for nine, 10 for ten, 8 for eleven, 6 for twelve, 4 for thirteen, 2 for fifteen.

3. Time of Birth - 50 points within an hour, 40 within two, 35 within three, 30 within four, 25 within five. 20 within six, 18 within seven, 16 within eight, 14 within nine, 12 within ten, 10 within eleven, 8 within twelve, 6 within thirteen, 4 within fourteen, 2 within fifteen.

4. Length - 50 pounds exact, 40 within 1/2 inch, 30 within 1 inch, 25 within 1.5 inches, 20 within 2 inches, 15 within 2.5, 10 within three inches, 5 within four inches, 2 within ten inches.

5. Weight - 50 points within four ounces, 40 within 8 ounces, 30 within 1 lb, 20 within 1 lb 8 oz, 15 within 2 lbs, 10 within 2 lb 8 oz, 5 within 3 lbs, 2 within 10 lbs.

6. Color of Hair (Or none at all) - 25 points if correct, 0 if not.

7. Bonus: Strangest craving - 25 points if correct."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chapel Hill Baby Shower

Val and I traveled to Chapel Hill for my family's baby shower, and as expected times were good and Cooper got a lot of stuff! Well, he might not appreciate it yet, but we did!

Here are some pictures to capture the mood, which was the typical joviality when we all get together in middle Tennessee. Lots of food, kiddies everywhere, and in this case, presents!



My cousin Amy put together almost everything for the shower, including making this diaper cake, which is very cool and will be on Cooper's dresser, only to use in case of emergency!


There was a LOT of Winnie the Pooh, which is as expected when it comes to my offspring! Can you tell from all the orange that the cake was made in Knoxville?

Little sis Stacy won the first game, and was very excited to get a prize:


My Darling Valerie was spoiled, much to my delight:


Some of the games were head-scratchers. What, like YOU know what a baby swan is called?


If our mini Cooper doesn't like Eeyore, I'm not sure what we'll do.



Nephew Gabriel is very literal with his personalized card for the presents he picked out:


Mom has the "ooh"ing and "aah"ing down to a fine art:


Nate was happy to help in case there were any extra toys that he could keep until Cooper was old enough to enjoy.


Amy's 8 1/2 month old daughter Leah is already bubbling with personality.


Granddads can keep entire broods of great-grandchildren busy.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flash Forward debut

A few notes on the debut of ABC's "Flash Forward," the show that's had me buzzing for at least six months in anticipation ...

They've managed to infuse a cop show, medical drama and freak "Lost" type mystery all in one. Impressive. Most impressive.

There will be tons of talk of Calvinism; are the characters predestined to be where they "dreamed" or can they alter that reality? Will they end up where they were precisely because they saw the future, and it wouldn't have gone that way if they hadn't seen it? The Who, What, Why and Hows of the worldwide unconsciousness will be interesting.

And what happens to the show after April 29? Will there be another flash to show what happens a year later, in case ratings are solid and they have to find a hook to keep going?

The season previews show Dominic Monaghan joining the cast! Good times. Unless he's still in Hurley's hallucination. Then, not to much.

At the end, through security camera footage we see that one guy didn't drop when everyone else did, and by the grainy shot of a guy in a black trench coat I'm pretty sure it was Adam Lambert. Someone should totally look into that.

Just that revelation at the end of the guy who decided to go to a Tigers baseball game to watch everyone pass out was cool enough to guarantee that I'll be paying attention all season long. You got me, ABC!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mind of a soon-to-be Father: In the future

With time running out before our mini Cooper is born, some social gazing at the mall triggers visions of who he could be in the years to come:

 

-The toddler tugging on his mommy's jeans in the store.

 

-The rambunctious kid running around and climbing into an empty stroller that is used for storage because why would he want to be tied down?

 

-The boy who is crying but his mother has a disinterested look, knowing it's for show, so he stops just a few seconds after the tears begin.

 

-The little boy whose batteries plumb ran out, fast asleep in a stroller, and his mother looks exhaustedly happy about it.

 

-The pre-teen with his friends, bumping hips with the girl he likes because he can't tell her so.

 

-The teen sitting with buddies at the table behind me, talking about video games and their first crappy jobs.

 

-The college dude who is way too cool for this scene but needs new jeans and an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt to wear with pals who are also too cool to go to the mall to get the exact same outfit.

 

-The grown-up there to pay his wife's bills, eating Chinese alone and watching people. (Wait, that one's me!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

DWTS Week One: The Results

No surprises in the eliminations, sort of. Ashley Hamilton was both unknown and terrible, a bad combination. Macy Gray was a little bit of a surprise, figuring that voters would want her to stick around at least one more week, but she won't really be missed.

Enjoyed the tribute to Patrick Swayze, although I wonder where's the love for "Road House?" That would have been smashing! (Would they have used fake blood for the part where he rips out the throat? Probably not, but someone on So You Think You Can Dance would!)

Swine Flu Paranoia

Seems to be getting out of hand:



(Courtesy a forwarded e-mail by my sis-in-law Cheryl and cousin Karla.)

DWTS: Ladies Night

Welcome to Memphis: Upon the Nobel Peace Prize winner's visit on Tuesday, the Mayor Pro Tem, Myron Lowery, fist-bumped the Dalai Lama and greeted him with a "Hello, Dalai!" Is he the dumbest person on the planet? Seriously, I'm not kidding about that, either. I hear he's looking forward to meeting "The Popemeister" so he can give him a chest bump.
 
So the girls had their turn on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE WITH THE STARS, and poor Lacey must be ashamed of her ample booty, because while all the other pro women wore skimpy outfits in their opening number, she had what looked to be an entire ostrich around her waist.
 
Crap, we don't have anything else to watch first so we can't fast-forward through Samantha's interviews. There will be much suffering.
 
DEBI MAZAR & MAKS - The "Entourage" actress is a talker, and in that New Yawk accent and attitude not my thing. Though she and Maks are actually funny together because he really doesn't want to listen to her, either. In their salsa, she had some potential with nice legs and keeping up mostly with a tough routine. Bonus points for degree of difficulty in Maks' steps. And Maks even gets in a Tom-butt pinch!
 
MELISSA JOAN HART & MARK - A very eager contestant, Sabrina The Teenage Witch has been yearning to be here for a long time. Which is probably why she was a nervous wreck and unconfident. By the time she got to the salsa she wasn't as nervous, which will be fun the next several weeks. She should be like Jenny Garth in her learning curve, I'm expecting.
 
MYA & DMITRY - The early favorite and candidate for "Ringer of the Season," she's an R&B star with dancing background and in Broadway, and yep, she's as good as we figured. Len goes nuts, however, criticizing Dmitry for his choreography and lack of holds in the waltz, which, impressively my darling Valerie noticed while I did not. Carrie Ann and Bruno give her 8s for artistry and being awesome, Len gives a 5. Ouch.
 
KATHY IRELAND & TONY - Been a long time since I had her Sports Illustrated swimsuit pictures taped to my wall. She didn't need any elegance to sit all sultry on that rock in a yellow bikini then, and now she needs to find it. Tony must be the go-to partner for "proper" older women, after also working with Susan Lucci and Jane Seymour, so maybe that will help get her out of her shell on the floor.
 
NATALIE COUGHLIN & ALEC - The Olympic gold medalist swimmer seems nice, but as a couple they were boring, and their salsa was equally so. Not awful, just slow and one step, then another, and no passion. Len wanted to feel naughty, and was disappointed.
 
MACY GRAY & JONATHAN - He actually followed her on a European tour to train, and she needed every minute. Macy's a big, strange woman, but it looked like she actually enjoyed being on stage in all of her weirdness. The judges couldn't credit her for being any good, but did use such words as "fascinating" and "endearing." Darn. I was hoping for a train wreck.
 
JOANNA KRUPA & DEREK - If you don't know who she is, and I didn't either, she's a Maxim model, meaning that Derek gets what, his third of four model stars in a row to make out with in US Weekly? Is this show his own personal Match.com? Their salsa was just what the judges wanted, something spicy to make Len get all hot and bothered, and received all eights for the highest of the competition so far.
 
KELLY OSBOURNE & LOUIS - To say that we (and obviously the rest of the audience) were pleasantly surprised at how well she did in the waltz would be a MASSIVE understatement. Holy guacamole! Louis' work on SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE is a tremendous help in choreography, and she got such an ovation that her mum Sharon was in tears the rest of the show. Daddy Ozzy might have been, but the drugs probably zapped his tear ducts a long time ago. She wasn't perfect, but just how good she looked and how unexpected it was, she wins the night.
 
The relay dances were scored as expected. In the foxtrot, Joanna and Derek won, followed by Natalie and Alec, Debi and Maks and Kathy and Tony. Really, the top three all were about equal, which makes the points distribution a little unfair should one of them get voted out tonight. In the cha cha cha (cha cha cha), we agreed as well with Mya and Dmitry in first, then Kelly and Louis (holy crap this was the shock of the night), Melissa and Mark and finally Macy and Jonathan.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Season 9 of DWTS Is On!

LIVE!!!!! It's DANCING WITH THE STARS!!!!!!
 
Welcome to season 9, full of another eclectic mix of "stars," young, old, good, bad, funny, scary, and all entertaining. Another plus? Team Valfrey watched "How I Met Your Mother" first, so we could watch DWTS in fast-forward, and skip every single bit of Samantha Harris' interviews! Bonus for us!
 
The eight men and their partners led off Monday night, while the women sat on the sidelines waiting for their turn tonight. The guys had two dances, one full-length and another in a "relay dance," in which four went against one another in 30-second snippets, and the judges awarded bonus points based on who was first (10 points), second (8), third (6) and fourth (4). I guess that's a way they can justify kicking two stars off on Wednesday without anyone claiming that they didn't get two dances to show off for the audience?
 
AARON CARTER & KARINA - Like spirited young blond kid Cody from a few seasons back, much of Aaron's focus is on his crush for his partner, and like Cody, he's so young and hyper that of course he's going to end up being pretty good. If he can keep from getting too "excited" on the floor in those tight pants, if you know what I mean, and I think you do because I just made you feel awkward. 
 
CHUCK LIDDELL & ANNA T. - As an Ultimate Fighter, if he doesn't get good scores at least he could kill one of the judges. Len wins the Backhanded Compliment Award of the night, saying of Chuck's dance that it was "better than I thought it was going to be." At least he's trying, even if you could visibly see him thinking about step to step, "1-2-3, 1-2-3, don't throw her into the audience, annnnnnd hold!"
 
MARK DACASCOS & LACEY - The host of "Iron Chef America" is a martial artist so of course Lacey exploited that with "Kung Fu Fighting" as their song, although it ended up being a boring Cha Cha Cha (Cha Cha Cha) because I kept wanting him to do more martial arts kicks and stuff.
 
ASHLEY HAMILTON & EDYTA - I'm not sure what he's done other than be former contestant George Hamilton's son, and with that in mind, he's a dull, flat dancer as well so he may not be around long. Bruno even gave the dude a 4 for lack of showmanship. By the way, if you think he's over thinking it, please don't tell him that "dancing isn't brain surgery," considering he actually had to have some after a motorcycle accident that left him in a wheelchair for a year. Just saving you the "Oh dear, sorry about that" uncomfortableness.
 
DONNY OSMOND & KYM - He's been waiting to do this since Marie's turn on season 5, and he's gotta be the most giddy person to be on the show. I don't know about his technique amid his bouncing around like he's on a Vegas stage, but he's so lovable and full of smiles that he'll be here for a long time.
 
LOUIE VITO & CHELSIE - Never heard of the guy, a snowboarding champion, and he's not that certain on his feet, either for such a young athlete, which is a bad combination if he wants to last more than a few weeks. He is a happy guy, though, as Bruno says, "a dancing Hobbitt," and we'd hate to see Chelsie go so early, so vote Louie!
 
MICHAEL IRVIN & ANNA (the new girl who won the contest in the spring) - He may be a Hall of Fame football player, but he's also done a LOT of cocaine, and as much as he wants to do better than Jerry Rice did on season two, it ain't gonna happen. He's more shimmy on the dance floor than ballroom, though if Lawrence Taylor lasted so long last season, Irvin will stick around, too.
 
TOM DELAY & CHERYL - Known as "The Hammer" when he was third in line for the presidency as the House Majority Leader for the GOP until a few years ago, you can be sure that he, Cheryl, the judges and the show will wear out all references to "going left," "going right," "being conservative" and anything political. Bruno throws out a random "you are crazier than Sarah Palin" reference, and up yours, Bruno.
 
In the relay dances, Donny wins the salsa round, followed by Louie, Chuck and Ashley, which was judged correctly in our eyes. In the waltz, we agreed with Aaron at No. 1 and Mark next best, but thought Tom was actually better than Michael Irvin, though the judges had them swapped. Hmm, I smell conspiracy!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Red Sox and the Emmys: Still in repeats

I think it's safe to say that the Red Sox aren't hearing the Rangers behind them anymore. In fact, after a 9-1 run the last ten games, the Sox are closer to the dang Yanks for first place in the AL East (5 games) than the Rangers are back there for the Wild Card (8 games). What a run! Realistically, looks like we'll be watching the Sox take on the Angels in the ALDS (again), and probably having to go through the dang Yanks for the World Series. Apologies to all y'all who hate to see Boston and New York in every postseason (but not really).
 
Why the Emmys are ultimately meaningless: Four of the five comedy writing award nominations were for "30 Rock," a show few watch week to week, and the other for an obscure cable show that the stars' parents can't find on cable ("Flight of the Conchords"). Meanwhile, the same shows no one watches and actors keep getting the same awards, prompting host Neil Patrick Harris - who was "legend" ... wait for it ... "ary" - to quip under his breath, "Upsets at every turn:"
 
"Mad Men" wins best drama - again.
"30 Rock" wins best comedy - again.
"Amazing Race" wins best reality show - again.
Alec Baldwin wins best actor in a comedy - again.
 
You get the idea.
 
And yet, it was still an entertaining show, if more for Harris as the host, the goofy antics of the presenters and even the nominees (such as the best supporting actresses wearing funny glasses), not to mention the razzle dazzle of the new format (breaking the show into five categories) and the cool set that seemed to be organic in its movement.
 
Tonight's fall season returns include "Dancing with the Stars" and "How I Met Your Mother," while we're skipping "Heroes" and "House." 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Great Moments

GREAT MOMENTS IN SOLO JEFF

Val's in Nashville until tomorrow, so Jeff's alone at home, finishing painting the nursery, ordering a chest of drawers for Cooper to sleep in unless I get the crib put together soon, and watching "Clerks II" on Comedy Central.

I didn't shave, though at least I did take a shower, then burned the top of a plastic bowl in the dishwasher, which was a terrific smell for a few hours, mixed with a big pot of Mom's chili and the wet paint.

But hey, it was Saturday, I didn't have to go to work, and there were some good college football games on. The Kiffins did a heck of a lot better than I thought (figuring that the 28-point spread in favor of Florida was on the low side).

GREAT MOMENTS IN MOVIE ORIGINALITY

From the creators of "Wild Hogs" comes a new movie titled "Old Dogs." Here are some suggestions for future movies by this inventive group of comedians:

"Bold Frogs"
"Cold Logs"
"Moldy Bogs"

GREAT MOMENTS IN GOING NO. 1

You know you want to see the pictures in this article: "Space Shuttle Unleashes Magnificent Plume of Pee." The Constellation Urine is pretty cool.

GREAT MOMENTS IN CIVILIZED DEBATE

Nancy Pelosi relates the murder of two Democrat politicians in the 70s as an example of what spirited protests can inspire. Of course, the murders she refers to were by another Democrat, but that's irrelevant to Pelosi.

Other Democrats in the media (but I repeat myself) take the theme even further back, saying that Obama is a target because Republicans were responsible for JFK's assassination. Of course, Oswald was a Commie, not a Republican, but you knew that already.

GREAT MOMENTS IN GAME SHOWS

Like a scene right out of Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy! spoofs, Wolf Blitzer finished the second round at negative 4600 points. Trebek very condescendingly had to "give" Wolf $1,000 to stick around for the final round.

GREAT MOMENTS IN THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION'S FOREIGN POLICY

The Polish prime minister won't take Hillary's call after Obama abandoned Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense, and on the 70th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by the Soviets, to rub it in a little bit.

GREAT MOMENTS IN GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown introduced a Patient's Bill of Rights to promise everyone the "right" to hospital treatment within 18 weeks. How generous.

GREAT MOMENTS IN PRIVACY

"Taylor Swift: I have trouble buying underwear now that I'm famous"

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some win, some lose, some need a Yorkie, and a top 5

- We tried the new SURVIVOR, and quit it in the first hour. Life's too short to watch lying manipulative creeps like that Russell dude who's a millionaire but claims to be a poor dude from New Orleans, smirking about how he will win by lying to everyone. Yes, surely it would be fun to watch him get kicked off eventually, but in the meantime we just didn't care.

- We did, however, find a new comedy to watch, the overly-promoted COMMUNITY starring Joel McHale of "The Soup." It's kooky, but honest and funny, and when the Arab dude starts quoting Judd Nelson from "The Breakfast Club" during the study group, I bought in for the rest of the season.

- We got three calls yesterday from people looking for a Yorkie for sale. Turns out, someone in Hernando posted our home number on Craigslist. Should we have found a few on the street and sold them to all three? Eventually I left a message at the other listed number to rectify the situation, and by the end of the night the listing had changed.

- Val's heading to Nashville for her friend Michele's bridal weekend with the Jackson Gang, so Jeffy has the house to himself. Not to worry, my Honey-Do List is pretty extensive, so I have plenty to do in between chowing down on pizza and wings with football games on in the background. Will one of those games be the Florida-UT game? Not for long. The Gators will lay the smack down on the Kiffins by, what, at least 40 points, right?

- Speaking of being home alone, here's a top 5, Shows I Watch When Val's Not Around, and no, this is not a category dominated by Cinemax After Dark:

1. "Red Eye," Fox News - Topical, hilarious, goofy, and a little stupid, but who knew news could be a little bit fun?

2. "Ax Men"/"Ice Road Truckers," The History Channel - "Real men" can be petty and whiny, too, and yet they're still risking their lives for the big bucks.

3. "The Universe," The History Channel - I'm an astronomy junkie, and when the History Channel isn't focusing on fake monsters or celebrating the end of humanity, they have this scientific yet understandable gem.

4. "Over Your Head" - An HGTV home repair show, but like "Red Eye," it's the goofy side of home fixups.  

5. The Weather Channel - Okay, not a show, but I could watch this network 24 hours a day and it never gets old. It's perfect background noise when you're reading or cleaning.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mind of a soon-to-be father: Childbirth Class

Saturday Val and I took part in the rite of pregnant couples, the childbirth class. You know the ones, like in the movies where couples are learning breathing with a lady lying against a pillow the guy is holding, and it's all hilarious since the woman is talking about having a watermelon exit her body and the guy looks like his life of leisure is about to come to a sudden end.

Okay, maybe that's not how it goes in reality. Still, it's useful.

The hospital where our mini Cooper will be born, St. Francis-Bartlett, holds an all-day session from 9-4, which we figured would be plenty to learn a bit, get scared a bit and get in the mood for being parents.

We arrived at 8:50 and were first there. By 9, still the only ones. Finally more began arriving a few minutes late, and ultimately there were three couples, two solo women and a woman with her sister or friend, and four didn't show up, which seems rude. In our seats was a booklet on labor and delivery, a number of pamphlets, free formula that had expired, a breastfeeding kit that's useful as a cute little bag, and a little tee that says "This side up."

Our leader, Kim, is a nurse at the hospital and a "childbirth educator," which I think means, "I volunteered to do the class a few times a year for extra cash and to get out of the delivery room for a day."

What made the class the most worth it is that Kim is the queen of insider knowledge, how things really go down in the delivery room, the pains and the stages, and with two kids, a lot of motherly advice and history as well. The book can't tell you about what to expect in terms of your mood during labor, or fears, or how to tell the nurse to "stick it" and not feel bad.

As a result, there was plenty of talk of female parts, all of them, even parts I'd never heard of, with language usually reserved for HBO. Kim pulled out all kinds of props, like the Carrot Top of baby nurses, including all kinds of suctions and pokey thingies and fake babies and some weird uterus-looking whatchamacalit that looked like a see-through jellyfish.

Finally Kim  popped in a few DVDs, starting with "The Miracle of Birth 2," which, I didn't even know there was a first miracle, let alone a sequel. Like most sequels, I'm guessing this one cost more to make, had more explosions and less character development. 

Of the five women featured on the DVD, Kim only showed us the first three, which tells me the last two would have freaked us the heck out. The first video featured a woman getting an epidural, popping out the baby and it was sweet and positive, and then the next two began making us feel uncomfortable, with the women going "natural," meaning they were in pain though not the screaming-about-ripping-the-father's-fingers-off kind.

In those videos the women all look like they've been talked into a meditative trance, swaying back and forth with their eyes rolled up and taking deep breaths. Val will be just fine if she's drugged up and plopped into bed for 30 hours, thankyouverymuch. In fact, if she doesn't ask for the epidural, I'm going to spike her IV with oxycontin. Not that Kim would condemn me. She didn't necessarily advocate for either drugs or natural, but she sure didn't draw up many negatives for taking the drugs!

Back to the video. In the first one, when that baby crowned it was like health class in high school, men and women alike with mouths agape and looking around in the room like, "Why is that woman passing a boulder out of her special place?" Val and I tried not to watch at all, since she won't be able to see and frankly, I'll stipulate to the miracleness and stay up around Val's torso while the doctors grab their catchers' mitts to grab hold of Cooper. I was kind of hoping it would be like Billy Crystal delivering the calf in "City Slickers," and the only problem would be losing my watch, but apparently there's more to it than that.

After downing some sandwiches provided by the hospital, the class waddled upstairs to the labor and delivery room to see where Happy Fun Babytime will happen, where we learned that Val will do everything in a big room for labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum. There's no nursery, so the baby stays with us in the room. I'm expecting our mini Cooper will be on the other side of the room the first night while we stare at him like a puppy looks at a vacuum cleaner from across the room.

I'll get a reclining chair next to the bed and we'll have a TV, not that we'll enjoy it for long since the hospital will kick us out with this helpless baby after 24 hours. Meanies. Unfortunately we didn't get to see the Star Wars lightsaber-like wand Kim mentioned that controls the lighting and whatever else during birth. I imagine they won't let me play with it and make "vrrooowooo" sounds during labor.

Now that we've reached the point where we've had Cooper, the second video was "Newborn Care: A Guide to the First Six Weeks," which was helpful since the stork doesn't leave instructions. The warnings were clear: Having a bundle of joy? Not always joyful. Cooper will cry, he will poop and he will need to be fed. He cannot do this on his own. The days of playing with baby nephews and cousins and handing them over when the going gets tough is through. (Unless we can convince my Mom-in-law to live with us. At least until Cooper starts first grade. Negotiations are ongoing.)

The class finished up with some breastfeeding lessons, and Kim taught us how to swaddle Cooper like a burrito. I failed miserably at first and hoped Val wasn't taking note of my inability to take care of a baby, but stayed after for a personal lesson, which seemed to go okay. Maybe this will go okay after all.

What I do know is, it will not look anything like we went over in the class. For one thing, the Baby Cooper Alert Level will be set on Holy Frak This Is Really Happening. And it will be beautiful!

Sox own Angels

I get to work at 3:50, hoping that I'll get to see the end of the Red Sox game and their walk-off comeback win over the Angels, but ESPN is replaying the Rockies-Giants game? Really? Didn't it just end like two hours ago? Sheesh. But hey, great win by the Boston guys, even if they almost blew it (twice), and I'm okay that Val got to tell me when she came to bed at 11 and I'd already been asleep for awhile. The Sox are now 6 1/2 up on the Rangers for the wild card, a virtual lock with two weeks remaining. Meaning that we'll get play the shell-shocked Angels again in the ALDS, which is always fun considering we've beaten them three times since 2004 already in the ALDS.
 
The end of AMERICA BE HAVING TALENT was a little disappointing. We were hoping the Recycled Percussion guys would win, but they ended up third. And then when it came down to Barbara the opera singer and Kevin the chicken farmer, we figured Barbara would win easily. Nope. Like Kris Allen's boost from ten votes per Arkansan in IDOL, the entire state of Kentucky must have come through for the chicken farmer, who is a great story even if Monday's performance was weak.
 
Anyone else notice that in the finale of AMERICA's Got Talent we had two British acts (Leona Lewis & Susan Boyle, who was fantastic), but also Shakira, not to mention that two out of three judges are British? Will Kevin the Chicken Farmer sing for the Brits next year? 
 
 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dissent is racist

Thank to Jimmy Carter, we know now that any vocal opposition to the Obamessiah is based on racism:
''There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.''
So let's remember that the Democrats have never treated Republican presidents with disrespect ...





Never mind.

Only in Memphis: Law & Order

The city council voted not to fire embattled city attorney Elbert Jefferson so that he can investigate misconduct of himself:
... His job on the line because of a $55,000 payment he approved for former mayor Willie Herenton's private attorney, Jefferson persuaded enough council members to drop the firing by agreeing to try to recover some of the money paid to Robert Spence.

Jefferson acknowledged that he has been interviewed by the FBI about the payment, and Shelby County Dist. Atty. Gen. Bill Gibbons has opened an investigation, too. ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mix and match

- It's official: Val is now a stay-at-home mommy-to-be. Friday afternoon her co-workers didn't line up against the wall for a slow clap as she left, but I'm sure they'll miss her greatly anyway.

- Sunday was my first as a free man from work, so what to do but watch the NFL all day long with DirecTV's free Sunday Ticket trial? Oh, wait, I have responsibilities. I've been putting off re-painting the Brown Room to make it into The Nursery for too long, so I spent many, many hours painting every nook and cranny, two coats, two different colors: Thoughtful Spot (blue) for the top two-thirds, Pooh Bear yellow for the bottom third.

And no, I did not reproduce just so I could expand the amount of things in the house that are Winnie the Pooh related. You'll notice that I did not paint the room the color of Eeyore. Besides, that's the color of our master bedroom, which was the main color of our wedding).

Still not finished, either. I have to touch up the yellow and paint a green stripe in between until we can get some border.

- If I was a popular singer, I would release a box set of nothing but positive songs about cities. That way, my songs would be played at every parade, fireworks show and town fair.

- Last week on the way to Jackson we spotted the cutest Tennessee Highway Patrol car at the weigh station. It had the official paint job on one of the newer VW Beetles. I didn't have time to take a picture, but I looked it up and apparently it's one of its kind to promote anti-litter programs. So cute!

- Last week's fortune cookie: "Your success will astonish everyone."

Well, that's just insulting. Why should everyone be astonished that I succeed? C'mon, cookie, why the lowered expectations? Am I right!?

Magic number: 16

The Red Sox are on a roll, now 4 1/2 games up on the Rangers for the wild card, but is it too early to start making plans for the postseason? Looking at the records of opponents from here on out, it favors Boston:
The aggregate record of the Sox’ six remaining opponents (Angels, Orioles, Royals, Yankees, Blue Jays, and Indians) was 419-437 (.489) heading into last night’s games. The Sox have six games left against the Angels and Yankees, the only opponents with winning records. The Rangers, on the other hand, will spend the last three weeks playing the A’s, Angels, Rays, and Mariners, who have an aggregate record of 446-409 (.522). Texas has 13 games left against teams with records above .500, though the Rays are barely hanging on to that distinction.
I will not be getting cocky. After all, Dice-K is pitching tonight.

America's Got Talent?

Ranking the top ten finalists from last night's performances:
 
1. Recycled Percussion - My new favorites to win it all, after the fire juggler blew it last week. These guys have style and hey, who doesn't like watching guys bang on stuff?
 
2. Barbara the Opera Singer - I don't know the genre, but the judges think she's great and she sounds impressive.
 
3. Lawrence Beamen - I liked him better when he was doing "Old Man River" in his audition. With his deep voice I figured he should automatically take over the job of singing it during the Sunset Symphony here in Memphis now that the guy who originally sang it passed away. It's not that Beamen can't pull off Barry White's "My First, My Last, My Everything," it's that he doesn't scream, "Make love to my music."
 
4. Three Tenors - The wannabe cowboys can't pull off a long show, though they do seem like good guys with great voices.
 
5. The Fab Five - They need a lead, like Michael Flatley, to keep from looking like backup dancers in "Riverdance."
 
6. Drew Stevyns - Ho hum, a soloist trying to David Cook songs to fit his own style. And yes, I used "David Cook" as a verb.
 
7. Kevin the Chicken Farmer from Kentucky - His ballads in the audition and second round were great. His take on Aerosmith's "Don't Want To Miss a Thing" was cover-your-ears awful.
 
8. Hairo Torres - Formerly known as the Funky Dancer Guy, though last night he tried some emotional contemporary style that wasn't terrible, just nothing new.
 
9. Voices of Glory - Val and I remain ardently against kids participating. And this trio of siblings weren't even that good, but the judges can't say so because then they'd look mean, and America votes for them because gosh, they're just so adorable. We feel manipulated, and not guilty at all for saying that there needs to be an age limit.
 
10. Grandma Lee - Don't get it. Ha ha, she's old and tells dirty jokes? Whatever. She's not funny. Never made me laugh once, so now we start fast-forwarding when she comes on.
 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Jackson Baby Shower

Some pictures from Val's co-baby shower with Melanie (and hubby Roger) in Jackson this past Friday night, a fantastic merger of pink and blue! Thanks to Meredith and Chad for hosting the party, cooking out some delicioso burgers and dogs (seriously, I went back for seconds, which I usually do but this time without any shame). Also, thanks to Michele and her fiance David for driving down from Paris, and Heather and Lanna for coming to share in the joy of impending parenthood.












Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pregnancy In These United States

More of the funny stuff I found at Reader's Digest:

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Although I knew our commanding officer hated doling out weekend passes, I thought I had a good reason. "My wife is pregnant and I want to be with her," I told the CO.

Much to my surprise, he said, albeit curtly, "Permission granted."

Inspired by my success, a fellow soldier also requested a weekend pass. His wife wasn't pregnant. So when the CO asked why he should grant him permission, my friend responded, "My wife is getting pregnant this weekend and I want to be with her."
--------------------------------------------------------------------

My very pregnant sister-in-law had just returned from another disappointingly uneventful trip to the hospital when she went into true labor. With no time to make it back to the hospital, my brother called 911. In shock, he followed the telephone instructions of the operator to deliver the baby. He even tied the umbilical cord with a string.

The Emergency Medical Service team arrived shortly thereafter, only to see an exhausted mother holding her beautiful daughter—with a tennis shoe dangling on the cord between them!
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Eight and a half months very pregnant with twins, I was used to getting nervous glances from strangers. But I never realized how imposing I was until my husband and I went out to dinner at a new restaurant. The hostess sat us at our table, took a long look at my stomach and asked, "Would you like me to get you a high chair just in case?"
--------------------------------------------------------------------

I was working at the base exchange one busy day when the line grew quite long. There was much grumbling among those waiting, but one man made light of the situation. He approached a woman who was obviously very pregnant and tapped her on the shoulder. "Would you mind my asking a personal question?" he said. "Were you pregnant when you got in this line?"
--------------------------------------------------------------------

I was on family leave, spending my days caring for my two-year-old son while pregnant with my second. To kill some time, I began watching the Game Show Network, and I got hooked. One afternoon my husband came home from work to find the house in complete disarray and me plopped in front of the TV. "So that's what you do while I'm at work?" he said, smirking.

"I just happened to have it on," I lied.

The next evening we were watching President Bush's inauguration. As Bush stepped out of his limousine and waved to his cheering supporters, my son shouted, "Look, Mommy, he won the car!"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thursday's tidbits

- The AT&T guy came to run new lines last week and turn on our DSL, but to save money I decided I would be able to install the DSL service on our home computer. You can guess how well that went. Of course, it would have gone a lot easier if the DSL worked with some basics of home-PC use, such as surge protectors and firewalls. Yes, that's right, in order to get the DSL to work normally, the modem is plugged into a normal outlet, and our firewall is turned off. What could go wrong? By the way, my brother-in-law, Ken, is the one who figured all of this out, not the help-desk lady from the Philippines. I'm just sayin'.

- Our interim pastor, Bro. Tim, continues to utilize his mass e-mails for sermons. He actually went through the entirety of the How Many (Christians) Does It Take To Change A Light Bulb joke. Funny, yes. Sermon material? Hey, why not? You're just filling in, right?

- HEADLINE I: "Kirk to Run for Obama's Old Ill. Senate Seat"

Spock would be the more logical choice.

- HEADLINE II: "Canada Joins Quest to Define Kilogram with Mathematical Certainty."

See, teachers! Even they can't figure out the metric system!

- HEADLINE III: "Vast Expanses of Arctic Ice Melt in Summer Heat."

"We don't get it. Seems to happen every July. Need billions to investigate. We're pretty sure it's Bush's fault."

- I'd like to be the guy who gets to drive new cars into the mall for displays. Although I'd be tempted to spin out in the food court. I'd also like the job of the guy in the construction vest who naps in the bulldozer while a bunch of other guys have to do all the work with shovels. At least, it doesn't seem like the driver ever does anything.

- Attention weather dudes and dudettes: How about some perspective in the summertime, especially the dog days of August? When the temperature goes from 95 to 90 for a day or two, that's not "getting cooler," it's "getting less unbearably hotter." Thank you.

- The NCAA can have Memphis' Final Four banner when they pry it from TOM the Tiger's paws: You can buy videos for $24.99 of Memphis Tigers games at ncaaondemand.com that never officially happened.

Jeff's Top 5: Fall Movies I'm Anticipating

There aren't many movies that look any good through Thanksgiving, so this is mostly a Top, Eh, Five Fall Movies I'm Anticipating:

1. The Informant - Matt Damon is the worst whistleblower in the entire world. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

2. Amelia - I've never been much of a Hilary Swank fan, but I'm betting on this as an inspiring film. (Oct. 23)

3. The Invention of Lying - Ricky Gervais in a world where everyone is completely honest, and how you can manipulate everyone else if you're the only one who lies. (Oct. 2)

4. The Men Who Stare At Goats - George Clooney and psychic military kooks, it kind of reminds me of Three Kings meets Tropic Thunder.

5. Where the Wild Things Are - Spike Jonze should make this classic children's book plenty weird.

Not interested, but you may be:

Zombieland - Not my thing, but this will have a huge cult following.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon - I'm not a 16-year-old girl, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Surrogates - Bruce Willis inhabits a world where people stay home, hook into fake bodies and act out life like they would without fear. And then people start dying. Craptacular. (Sept. 25)

Extract - By the same filmmakers as Office Space, which is pretty much all the advertising says. That seems to be a bad sign.

Love Happens - If there's going to be one chick-flick to see, this, starring Aaron Eckhart and Jennifer Aniston, will probably be it. The trailer appears to be the whole film, though.

A Serious Man - By the Coen Brothers. (Oct. 2)

A Christmas Carol - We always make room for holiday fare, though why is this coming out three weeks before Thanksgiving? And starring Jim Carrey? It's also animated, so that's not good. (Nov. 6)

The Buzz Trailer right now is actually a December release by is James "King of the World" Cameron for his long-awaited Avatar, featuring 10-foot-tall blue alien primitives who look to be battling evil Earthling warriors, and really, do we need to go to alien worlds to bash ourselves? The effects don't exactly wow me, either, so count me out.

2012 - In case you haven't heard, an ancient Mayan calendar stopped counting in December 2012, so all kinds of Art Bell listener-types have decided that it means the end of the world. John Cusack will certainly face such nuts in this movie, and surprise surprise, it will probably be all true!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Scene

Sorry for the lack of blogging; one of the consequences of getting to work Monday-through-Friday is that I'm a lot busier nowadays and have less time to blog. I'll try to do better. Or at least spend my late-night weekends more constructively by pre-blogging.
 
Meanwhile, let's see what's going on, in bite-size nibbles ...
 
Are you ready for some football?!
 
Is it wrong that I was actually giddy when the exhibition season started? It's just comforting to turn over to football, hear the sounds, see the sights, and darn it if it's 90 degrees outside.
 
Our paper actually lists odds for the NFL's preseason. If you're gambling on exhibition games, you have a problem.
Val had a "surprise" shower at work last week. She was happy for the turnout, with most of her co-workers showering her (pardon the pun) with things for Cooper, and she even snuck in some dessert that didn't flash "HOW DARE YOU" on the glucose meter later, so good times.
 
Meanwhile, the nursery is all cleaned out and ready to be painted. My goal is to get to that on Sunday, when I'll have all day long to be as meticulous as possible and get it done right the first time. I even bought some of that paint that's supposed to be a primer and paint all in one, so if it doesn't look good immediately then I'm coming for you, Home Depot, and your misleading commercials.
 
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT is a combination of "The Gong Show" and "Queen for a Day." Everyone has a sob story, and only a few have actual talent. They're in the semi-finals, and I couldn't even take half of the top 20 and put them in a final 10 worth voting on. Even my favorite act, some dude who looks like the guy in "Temple of Doom" who rips people's hearts from their chests, was disappointing last night. Hey man, if you can juggle chainsaws or burning guitars, do it, don't just beat on some drums and tap dance.
 
To Republicans who were apoplectic and very vocal about Obama giving a speech to students: Stop it! Don't ruin the political capital that's been gained in the healthcare debate by squandering it on something that will only make you look petty. I mean, really, it's a bad thing for a president to talk to students and say, "Hey, look at me, learn to B.S. your way through life and you could be president without any great accomplishments in your background." See, positive message. (By the way, the Obama White House itself has indirectly admitted that they were going to overreach with this speech by removing two things from it that were considered overtly political.)

NFL Predictions

Not that I ever do very well with this yearly tradition, but that's the beauty of the days before opening week: Everyone's a winner, and everyone's a happy camper! (Unless you root for Oakland. Then you already are giving up.)

NFC EAST

1. NY Giants, 2. Philadelphia, 3. Dallas, 4. Washington

NFC SOUTH

1. New Orleans, 2. Atlanta, 3. Carolina, 4. Tampa Bay

NFC NORTH

1. Chicago, 2. Green Bay, 3. Minnesota, 4. Detroit

NFC WEST

1. Arizona, 2. Seattle, 3. San Francisco, 4. St. Louis

Wild Cards: Philly and Dallas

AFC EAST

1. New England, 2. Miami, 3. NY Jets, 4. Buffalo

AFC SOUTH

1. Tennessee, 2. Indianapolis, 3. Jacksonville, 4. Houston

AFC NORTH

1. Pittsburgh, 2. Baltimore, 3. Cleveland, 4. Cincinnati

AFC WEST

1. San Diego, 2. Denver, 3. Kansas City, 4. Oakland

Wild Cards: Indy and Baltimore.

SUPER BOWL

Pittsburgh over New Orleans

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Jeff’s Top 5: Sporting Events I’ve Attended

1. The Open Championship - The British Open, as it's known here in the colonies, is one of the most impressive majors to watch and attend, and not only did I get to see it live, I got to see it at the home of golf, the Old Course at St. Andrew’s, Scotland. It was part of a larger trip to the U.K. with Dad in 2000, as read in my extensive travelogue. That Friday provided an historical moment for the ages. Standing by the first tee box waiting for Tiger to tee off, I was able to see Jack Nicklaus a couple of hundred yards away on the 18th hole get a standing ovation at the famous bridge over the Swilken Bern, soaking in his final trip to St. Andrew's, then hitting his approach shot three feet from the pin. It was like a changing of the guard, Tiger taking over, Jack bowing out. A great sports moment.

2. Sitting on the Green Monster with Dad in Fenway Park to watch our Red Sox play, in June 2006. The next night, we had seats about 12 rows behind home plate, but nothing beats the Monster. No matter how much I had to pay for the privilege, the view is great, the fans are lively and the seats are 100 times more comfortable than the teeny tiny uncomfortable ones from the 1910s. OK, sure, this is my team, the only one that I not-so-literally live and die on every game, and any Red Sox contest I get to attend, whether in Boston or Tampa or Dallas or Atlanta or wherever, is automatically on the list!

3. Olympic soccer, Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., in 1996. We saw the U.S. score the first goal against the powerhouse Argentina team, then lose 3-1, but rebound with a 2-0 win over Tunisia a couple of days later. We also watched a women's game between Japan and Germany and a men's match between Italy and Mexico in which Dad hung out with the mariachi band behind us in full costume and full of song and spirit.

4. The U.S. Open at Winged Foot, New York, in 2006, a.k.a. "The one where Phil choked." It was pretty hot, so Dad and I found a nice shade tree covering the bleacher on the 18th hole, and let the players come to us.

5. On a rainy day in 1996 I drove to Knoxville on "The Third Saturday in October" to watch Alabama play the Vols, led by a plucky quarterback named Peyton Manning. I was a Crimson Tide fan at the time (thinking I was going to grad school there, and obviously decided against it), but had to admit that Neyland Stadium and the 110,000 fans therein was a great place to watch a football game. I've seen other SEC games at Alabama and Georgia and Vandy, and Georgia Tech for some ACC ball, but Neyland was truly a better place to see a game, even if the drunk students behind me kept taunting me, especially after Peyton engineered a comeback victory on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Before the game I left at 4 a.m. in the rain, listened to Fred Thompson speak at a college Republicans rally during his successful run for the Senate, and after the game I drove back to Jackson after waiting hours to get out of Knoxville. Many thanks again to my cousin Amy for arranging all of the tickets and pizza after the game while we waited for traffic to clear!

Honorable Mentions:

Colts-Chargers game in '99 in San Diego with Scott. Now a pro, Manning threw for over 400 yards in an Indianapolis victory. I had some disgusting garlic fries, but before the game started we were in a bar in the concourse watching as the U.S. won the Ryder Cup in a dramatic comeback on a long putt by Justin Leonard.

I don't remember much, but I did get to go to the old Cowboys stadium to see Dallas beat the then L.A. Rams in a playoff game in 1980. We also went to the Cotton Bowl that week to see Alabama and Baylor play.

I always enjoyed covering the NAIA Women's National Basketball Tournament in Jackson, where my alma mater, Union U., was an annual contender.

(I can't begin to rate the untold dozens of U. of Memphis football and basketball games that I've attended, not to mention all of the Braves, Hawks, Thrashers and Falcons games I went to in Atlanta, plus minor league hockey and football and baseball games in Memphis and Major League Baseball matchups in New York, St. Louis, Texas, Tampa Bay, Miami and Cincinnati, NHL in Nashville or NFL games in Jacksonville and Nashville. Can't forget the St. Jude Classic golf tournament here, either. Let's just say that I've been to a lot of sporting events in my 33 years!)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Hot

The L.A. Times has a collection of truly amazing and impressively scary high-res photos of the California wildfires.

Somebody's watching me?

Check out the plot for this fall's movie called The Box:
What if someone gave you a box containing a button that, if pushed, would bring you a million dollars…but simultaneously take the life of someone you don’t know? Would you do it? And what would be the consequences? The year is 1976. Norma Lewis is a teacher at a private high school and her husband, Arthur, is an engineer working at NASA. They are, by all accounts, an average couple living a normal life in the suburbs with their young son…until a mysterious man with a horribly disfigured face appears on their doorstep and presents Norma with a life-altering proposition: the box. With only 24 hours to make their choice, Norma and Arthur face an impossible moral dilemma. What they don’t realize is that no matter what they decide, terrifying consequences will have already been set in motion. They soon discover that the ramifications of this decision are beyond their control and extend far beyond their own fortune and fate.
Now, here's my idea for a movie/book that I thought of many years ago and posted on the blog in '06:
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?
Sure, the copycats in Tinseltown twisted my cerebral idea for cheap thrills (seriously, check the link above, it looks TERRIBLE), but who knew someone in Hollywood reads Thanks For Noticing Me!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Smells fishy

- Hawaii is taking on the big problems in the world, including a bill to ban people with body odor from public transportation. Doesn't everybody have B.O. who rides public transportation? Myself included, I mean. When I lived in Atlanta and took the subway to work, you have to stand on the platform for 30 minutes in 90-degree heat and then ride another 30 minutes on a hot, cramped train, you're going to be sweaty and smelly. It's not an option.

- The Obamessiah finally has released a comprehensive health care plan: Sneeze into your sleeve, not your hands. He will also propose a plan to spend $4 trillion for the poor and underprivileged to be provided fake sleeves to sneeze on.

- First we found out that you aren't supposed to touch the newfangled light bulbs when they break, now your fridge might explode because of an 'environmentally-friendly coolant. Do you sometimes get the idea that the tree huggers are trying to take out mankind one "green" product at a time?

- The Obaminions at the Democratic National Committee called anti-health care Republicans "Right-Wing Domestic Terrorists" who have been "whipped to a frenzy by their Fox Propaganda Network" for "their treacherous leaders." Dissent. It's the new evil.

- Headline: "Crimes Reported to Flushing Police." That's what happens when you don't double-check the auto-flush toilets.

- WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? Here's NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Saturday during his funeral: "The heavens were weeping for Teddy Kennedy." Melissa Lafsky, formerly a writer for the New York Times, actually put this into writing regarding Mary Jo Kapechne, "Who knows - maybe she'd feel it was worth it."

- From the Duh Report: "Jaycee Dugard Abduction Case Highlights Failure of Psychics." Also, astrology? Not a reliable measure of how your day will go.

- Obama decides his health care reform is part of an "instrument of God" and critics are "bearing false witness." Says Jay Nordlinger of National Review: "Oh, if George W. Bush had done that — they’d have called him a dangerous theocrat. Oh, wait, they did anyway . . . Remember when certain commentators delighted in calling Bush vs. al-Qaeda a clash of “fundamentalisms”?"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Parenting Tip Request: Noisy Kid, Quiet Restaurant

What do you do with a loud child in a restaurant? I don't mean a little rambunctious. I'm talking full-blown screeching.
 
That question was on my and Val's minds last night as we dined at Olive Garden, where, sure, we may be family, but even then that doesn't mean we won't get super annoyed at a kid that's being very very loud. He wasn't even upset, just seemed to want to hear himself squeal, in what was a quiet room full of people trying to eat their never-ending pasta bowls.
 
Really, I try to understand and I'll let it go for the most part, because I don't want the parents to feel bad for wanting to go out to eat. This, however, was constant noise and reached the point where people actually picked up their menus (plus the inserts of the "specials" that are always more expensive) and moved many tables away from the toddler's table, and all but put up their menus upright as a wall to block all sound, light and probably painful memories.
 
The boy couldn't have been much more than one-year-old since he didn't seem to talk, just make loud noises, so how can you teach a child to be quiet in a public restaurant? Or do you choose to eat only at very loud restaurants? He was with his mother, who once in a while would make "shhh" sounds but otherwise had no control.
 
I told Val that if it was me, her, random family or friends and our mini Cooper was being that disruptive to fellow diners, I would have taken him outside and left them else to eat in peace a long time ago. Heck, I'll go ahead and order my meals to go when we're out with family and eat outside while Cooper roams the parking lot. (Don't worry, I'll cover him in reflective tape. And you thought I was an irresponsible father-to-be.)
 
But would I? Do you develop some sort of New Parent Immunity to hearing your own child being loud, running around tables and picking other customers' pockets? How much do you give back? They wouldn't want those after-dinner mints anyway, right?
 
Or is it magnified a million times over when you catch the not-so-subtle looks and cringes of the people around you every time your child lets out a yell? 
 
Does that make you madder than embarrassed? Do you encourage your kid to yelp in certain directions to drive that old couple with the prying eyes nuts and remind them that they were young parents once, even if they would just throw the kid outside with the cow to shut them up?
 
See, with 10 weeks to go (hello, 30 weeks!) these are the things we're thinking about. Or at least I'm thinking about. Val's probably just thinking, "I really want to go to sleep. I'm so hungry. Oh, look, a pillow."