Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shout out!

My co-workers give a shout-out to then-one day old mini Cooper! Thanks guys!

His first Saturday!

Mom and Aunt Lynn drove over from Chapel Hill this morning! Cooper got to meet his Grams!

This is one of the things on my list to get in the last two weeks. Oops! So in the driving rain yesterday I drove to the party store and picked one up, and my Dad-in-Law helped me put it up in the rain yesterday, along with a balloon and bow on the mailbox.

How to tell that you're the parent of a newborn:

When someone at the table burps, and you want to yell out, "Good boy! That's a good boy!"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Welcome, my son!

We are home!!! Cooper is sleeping through it but he'll explore later. :)

Tired of the hospital

Can we go home now?

Always looking at Mommy

Wide awake for Mommy!

Cooper says, "Go Sox!"

Dr and Ped'cian said we can start discharge process. Packed, Val ate and fed Cooper, now waiting for paperwork.
Cooper was a night owl last night. Mommy and Daddy tried to get some sleep but didn't get nearly enough. And so it begins...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

12 hours is a long time for a newborn

From Wednesday night, celebrating Cooper's half-day birthday.
About to start our third night here, second with Squirmy McHandsucker over in the bassinet. Ready to get home and find a routine.
This is the only day in Cooper's life he can get a pass on the "What? Were you born yesterday?" insult.

Just the three of us

Val and I celebrated our third anniversary by welcoming our bundle of tar-thick black poopy joy, and instead of a planned dinner at either Outback or Shogun we had steak from the cafeteria. (As a congrats the hospital offers a "special meal" to mommys and their partner.)

I am certainly not complaining about sharing. Besides, the next few years he won't know, so we can celebrate his birthday on Saturday and we can sneak out on our anniversary to go out and talk about him all night.

I've actually left twice each day for a half-hour (while her parents visited), to get stuff from home and some lunch. when I realized we wer e staying longer I needed extra clothes, and a different t-shirt for Cooper to spit up on overnight. Not that I mind; the stain is like a badge of honor. We are going to look like we just went on a 7 day cruise when I pack all of this in my trunk!

Cooper update

Our little tax break is one day old! It's been a long 30 hours, but in a good way. We won't freak out until we are sent home to care for this little dude!

Cooper is doing better today. His blood sugar was low at first but fine by the evening. His temperature was low most of the day so he stayed under what I call the burger warmer in our room. His temp is fine now too, so we're feeling better. The big thing right now is that he doesn't like to eat much, so we've had to mix breast and bottle to varying degrees of success. That is the biggest reason we're not in a hurry to go.

Val is sore but walking around well and took a needed shower last night. We actually got a lot of sleep last night in the time between feedings. Val liked sleeping next to his bassinet and hearing him coo all night.

On a cool note, Cooper has already had TV time. My co-workers put his picture up during the 5p news last night and the end of GMM this morning. Just remember Cooper, 15 minutes of fame are fleeting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Looks like a baby to me

The debate is on to decide if Cooper favors his Mommy or Daddy's side!
Cooper is finally napping in Val's arms (he's had a busy morning), so Val hopes to get up and stretch. She is doing great, just very very sore.

Open wide!

Cooper Howell born 6:47am. 6lb 1 oz! 18 1/4 length. Our boy!

Val ready for delivery

It is Cooper time!!!!

Holy moly great googly moogly this is for real! Oh yes, we are about to have a baby!

About 9:30 last night Val's water broke. To be sure that was surreal. It started as a leak, and by the time we were on the way to the hospital it was a gusher. In the meantime I fulfilled my stereotypical duty of running around the house trying to grab her bag, add my own stuff, get snacks for us and the nurses, and take the long 5 minute drive to the hospital.

We got Val checked in, and after they wheeled her to Labor & Delivery I had to wait in the waiting room for them to examine her. So I called Mom and Dad, and her Mom arrived.

Right now it is 1 am and she just got her epidural. The doc will start inducing at 3.

By the way, to my Darling Valerie, happy third anniversary today, Oct 28! What are the odds?! I guess 1 in 365?

More updates later of course!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All kinds of dancing

Still no baby. Val went to her doctor yesterday, and she's still just 2 cm dilated and 50 percent effaced, which either means that her cervix is thinning or there's a 50/50 chance that Cooper will look like Face from "The A-Team." Either way, a good sign.
It's going to be a toe-tapping next few months, as now we have SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE joining DANCING WITH THE STARS to give us something to nap during between feedings and diaper changes.
Last night's SYTYCD wasn't for the competition, just letting the top 20 dance in their styles, although since they danced as groups we still can't get a grasp on who is good and who is going to go first. The best dance of the night was the entire group at the start.
The three hip-hoppers led us off with some really cool tricks. The white guy, Legacy, clearly isn't as good as the other two guys, though he's had more airtime so it probably won't matter.
The first four contemporary dancers had a routine that was all over the place to me, though Val did like it.
The show brought along three tappers, who had better be able to do other styles because their number was complete boredom. I appreciate that it's probably a difficult form, I just don't get any enjoyment from watching it. To make it worse, the threesome had no chemistry. They didn't click, so to speak.
The second contemporary dance fulfilled the show's requirement to play Coldplay's "La Vida Loca Boca Vista Coca-Cola." (Note: Not actual title of song, I'm pretty sure.) Once they get Lady Gaga and the Black-Eyed Peas, all will be back to normal.
Three jazz chicks had a fun number of kicks, twirls and shakes, and even did some jazz hands at the end. I can't help but root for the Mollee Gray chipper young blond, if only since she shares a name with my late Mom-Mom, a.k.a. Molly Gray in her maiden life.
Finally, the ballroom dancers had a three-way samba, with the married couple and a third wheel making for a Ryan sandwich. The wife comes across very fakey and insincere, and I can't imagine her sticking around very long while hubby goes far.
Tonight, the top 20 are paired up and we get this contest started for real.
On DWTS, the final nine couples had either the waltz or the jitterbug, one formal, the other full of tricks and bright colors. You'd think it would be easier to get high scores with the waltz, but really if you throw tons of content and jumps and flips in the jitterbug the audience and judges will go nuts.
Mark & Lacey - All kinds of lifts and leaps, the judges bust out of their chairs in adoration, and Len lets us know that "more is more." Thanks, Len. (9-9-8=26)
Joanna & Derek - Crud. The judges loved their waltz, so they're not going anywhere. (8-9-9=26)
Aaron & Katrina - The judges were largely positive. I didn't care. His history of being a wimpy crybaby makes it impossible for me to see him take the lead in a waltz. (8-9-8=25)
Donny & Kym - Proof that so long as you do a lot of fun stuff in your jitterbug, the judges won't care about any flaws. (8-8-8=24)
Mya & Dmitry - Their jitterbug looked hesitant to us, a little slow for one of the best dancers. (8-7-9=24)
Louie & Chelsie - He doesn't have good enough footwork for the jitterbug. The tricks were okay. (7-7-7=21)
Kelly & Louis - She was so adorable in her jitterbug outfit, especially when she's smiling and having fun, which isn't enough for the judges. (7-6-7=20)
Melissa & Mark - She was very tentative in her waltz, but it was lovely in parts and she was almost radiant. The judges? Didn't agree so much. (7-7-6=20)
Michael & Anna - His waltz wasn't graceful. Charming, at least. It really should be his week to go. (6-8-6=20)
The Dance Marathon in the final ten minutes wasn't too bad, although Val didn't like it as much since you couldn't get a full range of how the dancers were doing. And then, it didn't matter much since the dancers were tapped on the shoulder in almost the same order as their points for the regular dance. Clearly the judges know who has to go and who should stick around longer. Which means, they want you gone, Michael Irvin! You next, Louie, then Melissa.

Monday, October 26, 2009

He let me look him in the eye! What a humanitarian!

If you thought that all of the award shows that entertainers bestow upon themselves was pompous, conceited, ostentatious and self-importantly over the top, this week we had the inaugural Noble Awards, whereupon celebrities can now give each other trophies for being nice to the little people.

I hear that next year they're starting the Award Awards, presenting awards to each other based on who had the coolest award the previous year. Obama's the frontrunner.

Sunday's update

The Cove Wars have to go on without the participation of Valfrey Estates, even if it's all in my head. Our next-door neighbors put up big fancy and lighted Halloween decorations and our neighbors across the re-shingled their roof. We're losing ground! And there's nothing we can do about it! Maybe I should just put up a sign in the yard that says, "Sorry, we're having a baby, we don't have the time to make the outside of the house look good. See you next summer." Too wordy?

Sunday was another relatively busy day, since we drove up to Millington for lunch with Val's family to see her uncle Alan and his wife, Charlie Sue, during their drive through from east Texas back home to Jacksonville. After Val napped on the couch during football, last night we went to dinner at one of our regular Tex-Mex joints, since we can never tell when any given meal will be our last sans child, so we might as well enjoy as while we can!

The big trip was to Target to make some returns and stock up on things we think we'll need, such as a hefty diaper bag (with a Classic Pooh theme, of course). I wheeled the cart way in the back towards the food section as well to stock up on candy for handing out at Halloween on Saturday. Last year we had an event to attend, so this will be our first at home answering the doorbell and wiping broken eggs off the window before they harden.

On the way home I stopped at Steak 'n Shake because I was craving their banana milkshake. I only go there for my favorite flavor, since all other places put chunks of banana in their concoctions. After a five-minute wait in the drive-thru in which not one car had moved ahead of us, I couldn't leave Val in the passenger seat getting more and more uncomfortable and wanting to get home and slip into her pajamas any longer and took off. On the way home, though, I tried Burger King for a vanilla shake, but after two minutes of waiting just to get our order taken I took off again. By this point it was a matter of principle.

I'll get my banana shake someday, even if I have to do so on the way home from the hospital with Cooper in the backseat. He'll understand someday. Val won't, but he will, and hey, he's my buddy!

UPDATE - Great Caesar's Ghost. I get home this afternoon, and our other next door neighbors are getting new gutters installed! Ye gad, we're going to look like the ghetto dump of The Cove!

Our Sissy President?

- COLUMNIST MARK STEYN on the White House's war on Fox News:
"I think this is truly pathetic. I mean, this is a guy who came to office on the platform of being willing to sit down across the table from Kim Jung Il and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and all the rest of it. Yet they’re too big a bunch of sissies to take a bit of criticism from Fox News and talk radio. He’s the president of the United States. It’s time to man up. I mean, this is just girly boy stuff, and I’m tired of it."

- THIS WEEK IN SENSIBLE LEFTIST DISCOURSE, courtesy the Media Research Center:

"...the total mindless, morally bankrupt, knee-jerk, fascistic hatred — without which Michelle Malkin would just be a big mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick on it."
— Countdown host Keith Olbermann talking about the conservative columnist and author, October 13.

“It’s obvious to anybody who has eyes in this country that tea-baggers, the 9-12ers, these separatist groups that pretend that it’s about policy — they are clearly white-identity movements. They’re clearly white power movements. What they don’t like about the President is that he’s black....” — Left-wing activist and actress Janeane Garofalo on HBO’s Real Time, October 2.

“Rush Limbaugh is looking more and more like Mr. Big, and at some point somebody’s going to jam a CO2 pellet into his head and he’s going to explode like a giant blimp. That day may come. Not yet, but we’ll be there to watch.” — Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Morning Meeting, October 13.

"I mean, there are people that are actually trying to derail health care in order to take down Obama, even if it means half the country dies.” — Host Dylan Ratigan on MSNBC’s 9am ET Morning Meeting, October 5.

“Several NFL players have already said they would not play for Rush because they know he would love to say he owns a plantation full of black men.” — MSNBC contributor Toure on Morning Meeting, October 14.

"The Republican Party has thrown in its lot with the terrorists - the Taliban and Hamas this morning - in criticizing the President for receiving the Nobel Peace prize." DNC communications director Brad Woodhouse, in a statement that I guess proves that once Democrats are in control of Washington it's okay to call people unpatriotic.

- I THOUGHT RACE RELATIONS WERE SUPPOSED TO IMPROVE UNDER OBAMA?: The Obamadministration is forcing a small town in North Carolina to list party affiliations in local elections so that black voters will know who to vote for, namely Democrats, of course.

- GREAT MOMENTS IN GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE: The National Health Service (England's socialized medicine system) is paying for more than 3,000 staff to get private health treatment "because the queues at the clinics and hospitals where they work are too long."

Meanwhile, for those who don't have a choice but to feed at the government's health care trough ... Matthew Millington, 31, a British army corporal and Iraq war veteran, died after a lung transplant because the donor was a heavy smoker, and Millington was, under "hospital policy," ineligible for a new lung transplant.

The Obamedia made fun of and criticized my girl, Sarah Palin, for the term "death panels," although in Britain it's more like "organized death policy:" "AN 80-year-old grandmother who doctors identified as terminally ill and left to starve to death has recovered after her outraged daughter intervened. Hazel Fenton, from East Sussex, is alive nine months after medics ruled she had only days to live, withdrew her antibiotics and denied her artificial feeding. The former school matron had been placed on a controversial care plan intended to ease the last days of dying patients."

- YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION: The Commercial Appeal's resident left-wing movie critic, John Beifuss, has done it again, infusing his politics into a film that otherwise doesn't seem to merit it. In his review of Law Abiding Citizen, an action flick in which Gerard Butler gets his kicks in grotesque ways against the killers of his wife and child, as well as the justice system that failed him, Beifuss unleashes this gem that manages to blame anti-Obamacare advocates for it:
"If there's a surprise in this utterly implausible and frequently dopey's that the film — unlike many vigilante/revenge thrillers — comes to the defense of the flawed justice system. It suggests that maybe Rice did the right thing, after all, and that Clyde is a sort of Worst-Case-Scenario manifestation of the "patriotic" extremists who have been stopping just short of advocating armed revolution to halt the federal government's "socialist" agenda. But it doesn't suggest this too strongly, possibly because director F. Gary Gray — whose films include the funny "Friday" and the awful "Be Cool" — is as concerned with the box-office verdict as Rice is with verdicts in the courtroom."

- YOU'RE NOT FAT, YOU'RE JUST RICH: From the Commercial Appeal's Memphis Memories for Oct. 13, 1884:
Doctors say that American women are growing stouter and attribute it to the increase of wealth which brings on habits of ease and luxury. Very few washerwomen are troubled with too much adipose tissue.

- EARNING THAT PEACE PRIZE: Some of the Obamessiah's more curious and weaselly foreign policy decisions include ending funding for the U.S.-based Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, which maintains "perhaps the most extensive record anywhere of Iran's 30-year history of brutality." I guess he didn't want to been as rubbing it in as the victors of the Cold War, so he cancelled plans to attend next month's 20th anniversary celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Speaking of Obama's Nobel "win," let's think of some other awards that he could soon win based on his message of hope and change, rather than actual experience or performance:

Academy Award for Lifetime Achievement
The "Dancing With the Stars" mirrorball trophy
The Presidential Medal of Freedom (given by himself, of course)
Miss World 2009 pageant
Mark Twain Prize for American Humor
Major League Baseball's Rookie of the Year's Golden Mullet Award
MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jeff's Top 5: NFL Uniforms

Wearing these uniforms makes teams automatically feel like winners, so it's no surprise that they're some of the winningest franchises:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers - This is a blue-collar uniform for a blue-collar, championship team.

2. San Diego Chargers - Those powder blue tops are the best looking of the bunch.

3. Chicago Bears - The orange stripes down the leg and on the socks make it look sleek.

4. Dallas Cowboys - The star on the helmet is the classic symbol, but the dark blue jerseys with the white shoulders is a nice yin and yang.

5. Miami Dolphins - It's bright and pops out on the field. How can you root against guys wearing such colorful jerseys?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The waiting keeps us busy

Sorry that it's been a few days since my last blog post. It's not you, it's me. I even worked the evening shift on Thursday and Friday, and instead of staying up late to blog and watch my shows, I went to bed early to catch up on sleep. Val assures me it's for the best, since soon enough I'll never get to sleep through the night again.

We are frighteningly running out of weekends in which to get things done before Cooper is born. Val could go at any minute. I still think the Good Lord is going to give me one more weekend to work around the house, but I think we all know the adage, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."

I spent several hours today on efforts to de-clutter and organize, which really means moving things from one room to another, or putting things in the garage until further organizing. Val was just happy to have things off the floors and out of the way so that her mom could come over and do some work on the floors. Bless her heart. She even wooed us to dinner tonight with the promise of ham, potato salad and baked beans. As if that was a tough sell!

My Darling Valerie has the "pregnant waddle" all of the time now, and to me it's just adorable, though to her it means, "I'm like a balloon and swelling and yuck I feel gross." She's too nice to ask for me to constantly massage her back, and legs, neck, and feet, and everywhere she has aches and pains, which is her entire body. It's something I'm supposed to volunteer to do! Especially when she wants Cooper to calm down in her tummy at night and he's visibly squirming. Poor guy is just trying to get comfortable, though at the expense of Val's bladder.

Then there's the heartburn, lack of restful sleep, "gastro issues" and contractions, and with her gestational diabetes she still looks like a sad puppy whenever I eat something she can't, like an ice cream sandwich. Yeah, I'm a big meanie.

At least tonight I made the first fire of the season, which always pleases Val. So long as it's in the fireplace, I mean. If it's in the kitchen, she's not as happy about it. Sheesh, burn one or two tupperware tops and they never forget it ...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dang Yanks have firm grip on series

- It's not like I go out of my way every day to find something to make fun of A-Rod, but he just makes it so darn easy, ya know?

- HEADLINE: "Modern man a wimp says anthropologist." I would go challenge this chump to a duel to prove he's wrong, but gosh, I have this carpal tunnel thing with my wrist from playing on the computer, and a pedicure in the morning ...

- Video just found from this spring shows White House Communications Director Anita Dunn telling a graduating high school class how much she regards former Chinese dictator Mao Tse-Tung as one of her favorite political philosophers. (Hey, what's 50 million dead Chinese out of a billion?) Which is a bit like Harry Potter growing up and telling future students at Hogwarts how much he admired Lord Voldemort for his bold and creative attempts to take the reigns of wizardry.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

She'll go cry into her multiple gold medals

Last night on DANCING WITH THE STARS, the judges were not happy that Aaron/Karina and Natalie/Alec were in the bottom two of the voting. Len mad! Len smash! Grrrrr!!!!!!!!
I was surprised based solely on past scoring, but Val, not so much. Apparently the reality show forums she likes to peruse picked it because Aaron is whiny and they agreed with me that Natalie and Alec were so dull that no one cared anymore.
And so, in what has to be the earliest exit for an Olympic champion, Natalie is gone. Too bad. I'd much rather that Aaron's giant throbbing forehead vein got his exit dance, even if in their last dance, Natalie and Alec still weren't talking and looked vacant.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birthday fun and Monday TV

My birthday wasn't much different than normal days except for some spoils. My Darling Valerie made me a pumpkin pie, bought me dinner at Logan's and we went on a scouting mission at Babies R Us before settling into the couch to watch our shows and rest. For the big gift, she got me an electric sander that I've been wanting to work on all the projects around the house. And she finished the night off with a nice back-scratch before bed. Why doesn't Gould's offer that? Charge $15 bucks, guys would gladly walk in, get a 15-minute back scratch and exit whistling.
I'm a low-key simple kind of guy and have low key birthdays. But now I have to turn on Birthday Party Mode for Cooper in the next few years. I still think I'll be keen to the "Keep it Simple" idea, but there's still all the stress of how many to invite, where to hold it, and how many kids are allowed to ride in the giant silver weather balloon at the same time?
Val had her week 37 appointment on Monday, and the stress test looked good for our mini Cooper, who is all kinds of wriggling around Val's belly and his head is right on top of her bladder. Bless her heart. Last night he got the hiccups, which was so darn cute.
Monday night's only HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER highlight was the tale of Old Sparky as told by Kenny Rogers on an audio book during Ted and Marshall's (and Lily) road trip.
On DANCING WITH THE STARS, Samantha shocked us at the start with big fluffy hair that looked straight out of a bordello in a futuristic science-fiction movie, and the night got weirder from there. The judges were in a great mood and full of vigor as if they just drank a full bottle of Tantrum from HIMYM, scoring everything far too high for us for the most part, or it's still too early to be as critical as Val and I have been?
NATALIE & ALEC - I want to root for them. She's a champion and has bursts of brilliance, but really, they are the co-mayors of Dull City. Their paso doble wasn't anything exciting. She's not fierce enough and is as intense as a shopping trip to Spencer's to purchase a farting machine. I don't know what that means, but I sense a theme here! (7-8-7=22)
AARON & KARINA - The first Argentine Tango of the night looked crisp and the judges adored it. You can tell Aaron liked it because the giant throbbing vein in the middle of his forehead was bulging out like the kind you see on workers in the GMC store that make you feel awkward about your body because you're not using their 50-gallon buckets of protein powder to look like Stallone in "Cliffhanger." (8-8-8=24)
MICHAEL & ANNA - Their paso was to a classical piece (Hungarian Dance No. 5? Bolero? Val knows it from the "Bad News Bears.") that had nothing to do with the dance and seemed to distract on purpose. The judges then roared approval about intensity and the nickel he would squeeze in his butt in rehearsals. In the kiss & cry room, the rest of the cast seems to avoid Michael like how you almost crash into a wall trying not to get the attention of the annoying vendors in the middle of the mall who want you to buy some secret sea salt cream. (7-7-7=21)
MYA & DMITRY - I've been calling them this year's "If they're not doing it off camera then they should be" couple, and then after their Tango the judges say that they don't see an emotional connection? Say whaaaa? They need to head down to Dairy Queen and enjoy a Blizzard break! (9-9-9=27)
MARK & LACEY - Her hair seems inspired by "Alien" and it would be a lot cooler if every time he made a big move there were "whoosh" sound effects like on "Iron Chef America." The judges praise his showmanship, which is a bit like telling the guy at the sports memorabilia shop how cool his stuff is, but you lie and say that you're "just checking prices for the future" without buying. (9-9-8=26)
DONNY & KYM - He didn't dance the Tango much, focusing less on the leg flicking than lifts, and the judges at it up like a big salty pretzel from Auntie Annie's. (10-9-10=29)
LOUIE & CHELSIE - She's all kinds of great, he could use more snap in his legs with all the energy as if he's trying to win a bet with friends by running up the escalator backwards.  (7-8-7=22)
MELISSA & ANNA, er, MARK - Anna filled in at practice for an ailing Mark, and frankly I think she could have done better with a two-chick number than this. Her legs just won't move right in that Argentine Tango, and it was very awkward. The judges, of course, still giggle like 13-year-old boys passing Victoria's Secret, and score it better than we thought deserved. (8-8-7=23)
KELLY & LOUIS - They started with tons of attitude, dancing to papa Ozzy's "Crazy Train" in their paso. Louis all but had a bat's butt dangling from his chin to complete the look. And yet it seemed like she wasn't "feeling" the music to fuel the passion of the paso doble. It's like going into the Disney Store looking for a lift and not feeling the magic of the Happiest Place On Earth. (8-8-8=24)
JOANNA & DEREK, er, MAKS - Derek had the flu so he was out, and Maks filled in to pass the time and try to make ex-girlfriend Karina jealous before even he probably realized that Joanna is a snot. I've seen less emotional connection from the vapid half-nekkid Abercrombie and Fitch model posters at the front of the store leaving embarrassed parents shielding their kids. Their technique still looked solid right up until she missed a step and he almost tumbled over her. (8-8-8=24)
GROUP DANCE! DO THE HUSTLE! Or, at least, several variations of disco. This might have been my favorite group performance ever on the show. Tons of fun and the stars looked to be enjoying themselves, maybe because everyone feels they can disco a little bit or at least not look ridiculous in trying. Natalie and Alec's solo, however, was STILL boring! No fancy moves, no flips or turns, just a thrust here, a hand jive there, that's it. Spice it up, Alec!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I'm not one to hype my birthday anymore, but still, Yay Me! It's birthday number 34, my last without a child to make me a big plate of eggs, bacon and toast for breakfast (with the help of Mommy of course). The first 34 will be NOTHING like the next 90!
This was the kind of weekend I was looking forward to when I switched to a Monday-through-Friday shift for the first time in my adult life last month.
Amid the cool, crisp Fall weather, Saturday I took care of a few chores, did some shopping for the nursery at Target and Lowe's while Val was at a baby shower for her cousin Josh's wife, Cathy, who is due two weeks after our mini Cooper, and enjoyed some meatloaf at Cracker Barrel for dinner before watching football and baseball on the couch while Val fell asleep in my lap.
Sunday, we went to church for the debut of Pastor David at First Baptist Millington, lunched with my in-laws and Val's Mammaw at Old Timer's, stopped at Kroger on the way home and even bought some popcorn from the Cub Scouts out front. After all, I may have a boy soliciting folks like that in the next decade. I feel bad for them, too, because the Girl Scouts have such a monopoly with their cookies. Anyway, back home I made a big batch of Mom's chili in the crockpot, cleaned out the garage enough to fit my car back in there and then read the paper and watched some NFL games while Val napped on the couch.
Sure, it could have been more active, but that's a perfectly relaxing weekend for me, especially since it could be the last one for a long, long time!
Oh, and in case you're wondering, after all of the controversy last month, Pastor David did just fine and he's the kind of preacher that will keep regulars awake and visitors coming back, a fine mix of humor, soothing reassurance of God's love and some righteous shouting for punctuation.
We did not stand for scripture as the interim pastor had us do, the choir broke out their special robes with the doves on the collar, and the music director busted out with a best-of montage of upbeat clappy hymns and emotional ones as well. Although, you have to wonder when he picks out hymns that have phrases like "lift our holy hands" in a Southern Baptist Church. (Some do, but the new pastor? Nope.)
The most interesting part was that Pastor David chose the book of Revelation for his main scripture, which, wow, not a common book that preacher's acknowledge in our parts. He wasn't talking about End Times, though, but building a church foundation, so it's all good. Not that Revelation isn't God's word, it's just one that most pastor's avoid, is all I'm sayin'.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Enjoying the weekend

Birthday number 34 is Monday, and Val and I went up to hang out for dinner and some cake and ice cream with her parents and sister to celebrate:

Today, Val and I enjoyed a minute of cool crisp Autumn weather out back for her nine-month-preggers photo:

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pregnancy In These United States

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


Desperate for a child, a couple asked their priest to pray for them. "I'm going on sabbatical to Rome," he replied. "I'll light a candle in St. Peter's for you."

When the priest returned three years later, he found the wife pregnant, tending two sets of twins. Elated, the priest asked to speak to her husband and congratulate him.

"He's gone to Rome," came the harried reply, "to blow out that candle."

Several months ago, my daughter and I had similar virus symptoms. She decided to consult a doctor so as not to lose any more time from her job.

“I’ll see the doctor,” she said, “and then tell you what’s wrong with us.”

The next day she called to say, “Guess what, Mom. We’re pregnant!”

The last thing my friend Christy was prepared for was an invitation to a costume party. Eight and a half months pregnant, she was in no shape for any conventional costume. Still, she wanted to go, so she painted a big yellow circle on an extra-extra-large white T-shirt, dug a pair of red devil horns out of her kids' Halloween junk pile...and went as a deviled egg.


As an obstetrician, I sometimes see unusual tattoos when working in labor and delivery. One patient had some type of fish tattoo on her abdomen. "That sure is a pretty whale," I commented.

With a smile she replied, "It used to be a dolphin."

What did you see?

At first, we thought Joseph Fiennes and Agent Noh were headed to India in last night's FLASH FORWARD, but no, the budget only allowed a trip to Indio, California, where there are almost as many mobile homes as there is sand.
I liked the opening, going back to the moments before and during the blackout, Bjork singing "It's Oh So Quiet" over a happy park setting, then everyone slumps over, then a bus calmly drives into a lake where unconscious people drown except for one guy and girl who get out when they awake. The guy, Ned Ned then shows Attempted Suicide Doc and Dr. B/Penny that the flashes are indeed glimpses of the future. Not that she shouldn't have skeptical of pasty white Ned Ned's flash forward since he said he was black in six months. Turns out he has Addison's Disease, so it's all good. Predestination is still on!
Nice random reference by Dr. B/Penny, calling Fiennes the "Shakespeare of breakfast," a nod to "Shakespeare in Love." Earlier, a not-nice random anti-Dick Cheney reference by Fiancee Lawyer.
Fiennes can't get his boss to send him to Somalia to investigate the crows dying off and mass blackout from the 90s, so he's going to get a guy to hack the CIA's computer. That should go well. And Agent Noh is still obsessed over his murder, like, geez dude, take it easy, am I right? But no, when Blondie Suspect tells him that he doesn't have much time left, he goes all wild goose chase with her fake lead, and she tells Fiennes to start figuring out "why?" and not "who?" All I'm saying, is if it turns out to be like "Die Hard" where it's all a ruse to bust into a vault somewhere, I'm going to be P'O'ed.
And, as usual, the end provides a heck of a punch, as Mr. Simko/Dylan's dad/the guy from Dr. B/Penny's flash forward whom I thought was Nathan Fillion in previews in the spring and still wish it was, gets a call from ... Merry! Yes, Dominic Monaghan, who tells him "we're responsible for the greatest disaster in human history." Dun Dun DUN!!!!
Meanwhile, Babysitter reveals that she saw herself being drowned and feeling like she deserved it in her flash forward, and that she saw her attacker. Once Fiennes gets involved, I'm going with the "we make our future it's not made for us" theory that he finds the guy, whose life is turned upside down by the persecution and doesn't know why, and then he finds the Babysitter and chokes her under water for ruining his life, and she's like, "Yeah, I guess I had it coming." Just a theory. Be sure to advance your own theories to me in the comments!
In TOP CHEF LAST VEGAS, Eli is certainly a little arrogant prick, isn't he? And yet, I couldn't help but agree with him that the competition would be a lot more calm if Robin would just shut the heck up. Meanwhile, Kevin shouldn't just win this show, he should be named the next Iron Chef as well, he's that awesome, and Ash gets the boot for failing to cook his own food, or at least cook anyone else's ideas well, and on the way out he kind of slams Padma for some unknown reason.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The clock is ticking

I'm only four weeks away from having to actually pay attention when Val starts talking about stuff like Butt Paste and Nipple Shields.

Oh yeah, this is the real deal! She's not sporting a "baby bump" anymore; more like a "baby hump." Not only can she not see her own feet, she probably can't see mine, either, and I sport some size 14s. (Hopefully Cooper doesn't have my boat-like feet just yet.)

Val went to the doctor this morning for her 36-week checkup, and they measured our mini Cooper as approximately 5 pounds, 9 ounces thus far. A couple of more pounds wouldn't hurt, but maybe Val can at least feel better if he's under 8 when born!

She's reached that point where she's less scared about the prospects of taking care of a tiny helpless person than she is uncomfortable with weird pains and aches the last few weeks, officially reaching the "It's time to get him out!" phase of the third trimester.

Meanwhile, this past weekend was busy on Saturday and lazy on Sunday.

Val's nesting instinct is largely to panic that I'm not doing enough to make sure the house is ready for Cooper to come home. She does what she can in the nursery, but wears out easily. So I have to pick up the pace and clean up, organize and hang all the decorations in the nursery. If pregnant women are prepared by the Good Lord for motherhood by waking up constantly in the night, then men are prepared by doing all the heavy lifting and getting the Honey Do lists completed.

Saturday I put two coats of white paint on the rocker that Nana gave us for the nursery, and a third coat on Sunday, to match the rest of the furnishings. I hope I can finish putting up a lot of things this weekend so I can finally post some pictures for y'all to see.

Unfortunately, we also spent the weekend watching the Red Sox and Cardinals get swept, which you might have noticed I've avoided mentioning. And really, I wasn't that upset.

For a couple of months now I've sensed that the Sox resembled their '05 team when they were swept by the White Sox in the ALDS on the way to Chicago's first World Series title in 80-something years. Not only could I tell, but the very very quiet fans at Fenway seem to sense it, too. The Angels have this year's Team Of Destiny tag, with all the emotion from pitcher Nick Adenhart's death in the spring, and that's a big motivator.

Not that I didn't almost throw my French bread pizza, wings and bowl of Rotel dip against the wall when Papelbon surrendered five runs - three earned - to blow the last game. Up two runs with two outs and two strikes  in the ninth, I was all set to make a blog post declaring, "There's no place like home" and looking forward to a big comeback. Ick.

By the way, what's the history of Rotel and their dip anyway, how'd they get to be associated with such an awesome snack? How come it's not called Velveeta dip, since the cheese takes up two-thirds of it?

Wednesday at work they gave out season flu shots, which I happily lined up for. I rarely have gotten one, but I don't want to get Val or Cooper sick, and as soon as I can get a Swine Flu shot I'll do that, too. Thus, don't be offended when you visit to see our mini Cooper and he's surrounded by a bubble to keep germs at bay. He'll be eating dirt and blowing snot all over his clothes soon enough as a toddler, but let's build up that immune system first!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

11 couples, four new dances, three confused judges

Monday in DANCING WITH THE STARS, four new dances made the dances awkward, and the judging even more so since no one in the studio knows what it's supposed to look like. Which means no one's going home tonight, is our guess, since Tom dropped out last week.

I can't judge the entire night myself, because we started out watching at my in-laws house (they cooked pot roast, so duh, of course we'll make the half-hour drive), and when we got home the DVR went blank an hour in. Audible, but no video, so thanks for that DirecTV. Thus, we missed Kelly/Louis, Joanna/Derek, Donny/Kym, Michael/Anna and Louie/Chelsie.

The big shock, Melissa and Mark got a 10 from Bruno, 9s from Carrie Ann and Len, and yeah, I thought their Charleston was fun and well done, and that black-and-white effect at the start was neat, but in no way was it that good! Then again, if it saves her and sends someone like Chuck home, then all the better.

From the highlights I see that Derek went shirtless in the lambada with Joanna, because he's a mimbo and it's all about him.

Chuck and Anna's two-step was painful. The judges even tell him that he sucks, but as usual they raise the scores a point or two based on "entertainment value." I think the UFC has an under-the-table deal to keep him around longer.

Mark and Lacey's two-step was only country in name and music, because otherwise it looked like a samba with a pair of boots.

Mya and Dmitry's lambada was yowzaliciously sexy, nasty and oily.

Natalie and Alec tried the Bolero, and now I can't get past how my sis-in-law Cheryl pointed out how much Natalie looks like Elizabeth Berkeley in "Showgirls." The dance was romantic and slow like a rumba, and they're looking like quite a pretty pairing.

Aaron and Karina end up in the bottom two! I'm not entirely surprised, after the judges over-criticized their lambada, and Aaron said he wasn't going to cry again, though he totally looked like he wanted to. Still, after their "Muppet Show" routine, I think they deserve another chance to find the fun again.

In the end, though, it's Chuck and Anna losing out, so they're saving the non-elimination round until we're left with only decent dancers. Chuck was not one of them.

During the results show, they revealed the next Bachelor (the pilot guy who flew in last year to tell Jillian that the musician is a big fat liar), and the look on Tom's face when he had to say that it was being called "The Wings of Love" pretty much guaranteed that even he knows it's ridiculous.

It's really Gouda!

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER was another classic, with Marshall and Lily going overboard on couples get-togethers, leading to a Barney/Robin breakup with them, and then a rainy reconciliation. And yes, if you saw it, is real. Even the secondary plot was hilarious, with Barney and Ted The Sexless Inkeeper writing old-timey poems.

Last week's FLASH FORWARD wasn't spectacular, and I think it will be a consistent revelation week to week of one more thing on Joseph Feinnes' magic prophet board. This week he learned that you can't trust old Nazis, unless they see a bunch of dead birds. Another cool ending, at least, as we see that something or someone made a bunch of Somalians drop unconscious over 15 years ago, and that whatever happens kills crows. There's also something in the sky, some sort of weird cloud or invisible aircraft? More Shorheh Agdashlu! Was the phone guy dreaming when he saw himself with his daughter, whose remains were indeed in her grave? Agent Noh's fiancee saw her at a wedding in Hawaii, but he's supposedly going to die? Hmmm ... Increasingly, the show seems to show that predestination isn't so much the focus, but that we act differently when we know the future. The fiancee didn't set the date of the wedding for April 29 until she saw it, and the dorky customs official wasn't going to even apply for the job until he saw himself doing it in his flash.

Last week on TOP CHEF LAS VEGAS, Ashley the heterophobe was sent home, so now she can go back home and make meals solely for fans and players of the WNBA, professional softball and roller derbies. We were shocked that she was booted, especially after Ash revealed that has a chef-crush on his partner, Michael, and admitted to the judges that Michael's a better cook on every level. There's an awfully long way to go until we get to the inevitable top four of Kevin, Jennifer and the brothers.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Working on the nursery

Just a couple of pictures to see us hard at work getting Cooper's nursery ready, Val doing arts and crafts, me putting together the crib with a look of "what the heck?" on my face, which is pretty much just my normal look nowadays:

By World Peace They Mean "Knock America Down a Notch"

You won't see anything negative from a media that so coddles their guy that CNN fact-checked a Saturday Night Live sketch, so in light of the Obemssiah getting the Nobel Peace Prize, let's explore ...


- Takes the side of the overthrown Honduran president, who was a Hugo Chavez-in-training by trying to skirt the constitution to stay in office.

- Blames Israel for all the problems in the Middle East.

- Unlike Bush or Clinton, he won't meet with Cuban dissidents who received the National Endowment for Democracy's annual Democracy Award.

- Gives a Presidential Medal of Freedom award to Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, who also presided over the notorious anti-Semitic Durban conference in 2001, including heading a commission that condoned suicide bombings.

- Embarked on an Apology Tour for his sucky country of which he is now president.

- Obama uses a former president to cave into a dictator who just wanted a photo op before freeing two American journalists, thus set a very bad precedent for every other tinpot leader around the world. Case in point, the nutjobs who run Iran nabbed a few Americans not long after, and they're still in captivity.

- His Secretary of State, Hillary, went off on a questioner in Congo over a mistranslated question.

- She then compared the 2000 election drama in Florida to Nigeria's corrupt elections.

- Refused to meet with the Dalai Lama during the Nobel Peace Prize winner's D.C. visit, in an apparent kiss-up to the Chinese.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Everybody has a little OCD sometimes

Whomever delivers our Commercial Appeal every morning doesn't double-wrap it when there's a chance of rain, resulting in when I got home at noon today two inches of rain in three hours has drenched it beyond repair. Usually I can drape each section over the couch and let it dry, but just touching the paper through the weak-a** wrapping reduced it to shreds.

So tonight at Wal-Mart we decided to grab a paper (I like to read it every day, for Val to do the crossword and my comics, included). Nothing. Stopped at the Schnuck's gas station to fill up and grab a paper. Nada. Across the street to Walgreens. Nope. Across the other street for Citgo. Zip. Next door to the Kroger. Empty. The bin outside the Backyard Burger? Of course not. How about back across the street to the Circle K? Bzzt!

That would be seven tries, seven paperless locations.

At the Circle K I finally bought a USA Today just to have something to read while watching the Red Sox game, which is like buying Wendy's chicken nuggets because McDonald's is out. An inferior product, but at that point you have to get something out of the trip, you know?

Thanks to my darling Valerie for sitting in the passenger seat enduring it all even though she was already worn out after Texas Roadhouse for dinner and a lengthy tour of Wally World.

Now I believe that the Commercial Appeal doesn't double-wrap anyone's paper, and thus we all have to buy one off the racks. Conspiracy!

My head hurts

Okay, so can we finally admit that all this worship of the Obamessiah has officially gone too far? I mean, really, the Nobel Frakkin' Peace Prize? After eight months in office? Holy cow.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Sox! Angels! Let's get it on!

If anyone's looking for me tomorrow, I'll be the one at work with his head resting on the switcher pushing random buttons with my nose, or asleep against the garage door not even able to get inside the house before taking a nap, since game one tonight should last until midnight and I have to get up for work at 2:30 a.m.

For now, I'm not overly concerned about the Red Sox series against the Angels in the ALDS, but perhaps I'm overconfident due to writers pointing these stats out far too often:
When the clubs open their third consecutive first-round series Thursday night, AL West champion Los Angeles will take another crack at wild card-winning Boston, the once-bedeviled franchise that has ended three of the Angels’ past five seasons.

And it hasn’t even been close. The Angels have lost 12 of their last 13 postseason games against the Red Sox, including 9 of 10 over the last three series. Los Angeles hasn’t even led Boston for eight total innings of those last 10 games, and the Angels’ only win was a 12-inning nail-biter last season, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the matchup.
Of course, this actually goes back to 1986 when the Angels were one strike from the World Series before Boston came back to win three straight and take the pennant.

I'll rattle off a few names that keep me warm at night should I get too worried about one or two losses: Youkilis, Pedroia, Ortiz, Bay, Martinez, Lester, Beckett, Papelbon. *sigh of relief*

(Anyone who mentions Dice-K and how well he played in September gets the evil eye.)

Here's the Boston Globe's position-by-position breakdown, which doesn't look at intangibles like, "Wait, Howie Kendrick is black?" Or, "Has anyone remembered to unthaw J.D. Drew's frozen corpse in time for the playoffs?" Otherwise, the comparison looks close until you compare bullpens. Seriously, are the Sox afraid at all of Angels closer Brian Fuentes?

You know what will leave me in a sweaty panic? If I have to endure this year's overdone promo a la "Frank TV:" "The George Lopez Show." That, or the Viagra commercial with the guy talking to his reflection in the window. Dude, just go see your doctor already and make the wife happy.

Let's Go Red Sox!

A few things to think about

- JEFF LEARNS STUFF: Does wearing a hat make you more likely to lose hair? Doesn't seem so, according to these folks.

- ONE MORE "STICK IT TO HIM?": The Nobel Prize committee, infamous for awarding prizes to people during this decade who were George W. Bush's adversaries, gave the Nobel Prize for medicine to an Aussie who was dropped from Bush's Council on Bioethics in 2004.

- WE SHOULD GET OUR CRACK SECURITY STAFF TO INVESTIGATE THIS: "New threat to travellers from al-Qaeda 'keister bomb.'"

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Catching up since this weekend

Congrats to Val's cousin Will and his wife Sara on the birth of their second daughter, Joanna Grace, yesterday! (Firstborn Maleah is 1 1/2.) You might remember that Sara was two weeks ahead of my darling Valerie, which means Joanna came early, and it means that officially we've got next! (Unless Val's friend Melanie beats us - due date four days after us, or her cousin Josh and his wife Cathy - due date two weeks later.) The baby boom is on!

This weekend was one of rain and shine for Team Jooperie (that's Jeff-Cooper-Valerie if you missed it previously. Or should it be Voopery so Val's first?).

Anyway, this Saturday Val's parents and big sis came over to help clean Valfrey Estate and prepare the way for it to become Cooper Land. While I organized the attic and the garage, my Dad-in-law mowed the backyard, and he and I went out back to patch up the roof out back. There has been a leak in the kitchen where the patio meets the back of the house. I thought what we did was good, until Sunday when it rained seemingly 10 inches over several hours and we still had a bit of a puddle on the windowsill. Hmmm, guess I'll have to get up on the ladder and investigate some more. Thrilling.

Val and her mom and sister Cheryl washed baby blankets and cleaned floors and even the bathrooms (brave lasses, they are), and all of them were a tremendous help, of course. By Saturday evening we were worn out and decided to watch the Vols game, which didn't go well if you are a fan of Tennessee. Jonathan Crompton has to be the worst QB to start for a contending SEC team in 50 years.

The nursery is looking splendid, by the way. We're finishing up the decorating, and Saturday I also spent much of the day sanding and painting two coats on the changing table that was generously donated by one of Val's cousins. (I painted it white to match the other furniture.) I still have to paint the rocker that Nana gave us, and put up some things on the walls that Val is going to craft especially for our mini Cooper. Val's started working on crafts for the decor, which like my work is a trial-and-error process. We're not exactly the scrapbooking kind of folks. I'm pretty sure I'll be going to the minor medical center covered in Crazy Glue and stuck to a lamp.

Sunday afternoon during the flood we drove over to Incredible Pizza (think Chuck-E-Cheese, only larger and with a cover charge for the buffet), where Val's uncle Glenn treated all of her mom's family to food and entertainment. We stayed away from the crowds as much as possible, sticking with the food only, to avoid exposure to the swine flu as much as possible. Sure, it would have been nice to play some skeeball, but the ones there are for little kids only. I could lean over and put the ball in the 50-point slot, and even though it would be nice to rack up lots of tickets for some parachute army men, it feels like cheating.

Val was pretty miserable much of the weekend, experiencing what she felt were contractions. Was it a kidney stone? Gas? Well, Monday at her doctor's appointment the doc said she was one centimeter dilated, so I guess that means she wasn't imagining things! In the meantime, she's been watching a lot of those "Bringing Home Baby" shows on TLC, though only the ones with the easy births! We're already pretty sure we'll have one of those dramatic births, the kind that from then on Val will automatically tell newly-pregnant women, "Let me tell you about our horrorterrible experience!"

The main part of her appointment this week was a stress test for Cooper. Not sure how they pulled that off. How do they get that little treadmill in the womb, anyway? Or does the doc just yell at Val's belly, stuff like, "Hey, you, baby! You aren't even born yet! What's the deal with that?!"

The week before she had an ultrasound and Cooper weighed in at 4 pounds, 15 ounces, according to their estimates, so he's about average in spite of Val's gestational diabetes, thank goodness. Although I think Val would rather he not get too much bigger, I wonder if when we started this process that she figured he would dematerialize like a Star Trek transporter out of her body and into a crib by the bed. Sorry, babe, there's only two ways this can happen for him to get out of your belly, and neither will be entirely pleasant!

We also met with our future pediatrician (at Pediatrics East, near Wolfchase only a few minutes from home). To avoid exposure to swine flu they took us almost immediately back to his office, which was a nice gesture. The doctor is like the Low Talker on "Seinfeld," and yet he talks a lot. Go figure. Turns out he used to come on our station as a guest for health topics. I imagine the audio operator cursed at him a lot.

Meanwhile, on the boob tube ...

Tuesday night on DANCING WITH THE STARS, the show essentially told Debi Mazar that she's getting so few votes that she might as well leave at the same time that Tom DeLay withdrew due to injury, because otherwise normally the show would carry over this week's scores to next week for elimination purposes.

Still, if I'm Debi I'm ticked at DeLay, thinking, "Dude, if you'd dropped out last night I wouldn't have gotten kicked off tonight," only I'd do it in an annoying New Yawk accent.

Elsewhere, Aaron was a big crybaby when Len gave him a low score on Monday, and the judges "requested" Chuck and Anna's samba to open the show, which has to be the worst scored dance to ever get the honor. Val says that it has to be that they didn't want a slower rumba to be the opener, even though Mya, Natalie and Louie's dances were a million times better than Chuck's.

Changing topics again ...

In sporting news, that was a heck of a baseball game last night. We were compelled to follow it into the 12th inning until the Twins downed the Tigers, and after a boring September I'm all set for playoff baseball!

If you're wondering where I'll be for the next several days, here's the Red Sox' schedule against the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles (of California of the U.S.A. of North America of Planet Earth):

Thursday, 8:30 p.m.
Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, time to be determined
Monday, TBD
Wednesday, TBD

Stand by for readers to scatter in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

In other sports news, the fantasy kind, I beat my big bro, Scott, in one fantasy baseball league and he won our keeper league, and we are tied atop the standings of our NFL keeper league at 3-1 apiece. Rushings rule! Of course, he beat me in the opening week so he has the edge, but I'm okay with that. We shall meet again!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


The STARS had to become Latin lovers this week with the Samba and Rumba, one is fun and full of frolic, the other sensual and passionate.

MARK & LACEY - Mark's full of shimmie and the big flowy girly hands in the rumba, which unfortunately were his only two moves. We blame her choreography the judges' nattering negativism. (6-6-6=18)

JOANNA & DEREK - He's so flashy in his samba as to be distracting. Do you get the feeling he thinks it's all about him nowadays, and she's an afterthought? Heck, he might not even feel he has to make out with her on the beach to get some publicity this time. (7-8-8=23)

MYA & DMITRY - They have a flirty relationship, and based on their sexy rumba I wouldn't be surprised if there was some hanky-panky going on. (The rumor mill starts here!) Although, Val was ticked when there was an obvious lift, but Carrie Ann pretended not to notice for the sake of givng them a perfect score. This was also the performance when we learned that Len apparently took some Nit Picky Juice on his week off. (10-7-10=27)

MELISSA & MARK - There's no heat whatsoever between these two. It's the most Disney-fied coupling ever on this show, and I soooo want her to do well, but bless her heart she dances like a fawn learning to walk. (6-6-7=19)

LOUIE & CHELSIE - We were too busy singing our parts to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" to pay attention, but it looked like Louie wanted to take this vertical rumba and make it horizontal with Chelsie, if you know what I mean. (8-5-7=20)

DEBI & MAKS - She looks like she shaved a bunch of Muppets for her dress. The dance was playful, looked OK, yet Val said it before Carrie Ann did that Debi looks worried out there. (6-5-6=17)

DONNY & KYM - Like their song, "Endless Love," their rumba was a little corny and still very sweet, and then it gets very weird with Donny rushing to the judges table to make out with Bruno. Bad Osmond! (7-7-7=21)

MICHAEL & ANNA - Their samba was slowed down, though it looked to us that he at least got the steps in, and then the judges go at him like Ronnie Lott taking away his touchdown. (5-4-5=14)

NATALIE & ALEC - All of the stars get the giggles when learning to be sexy for the rumba. Not all of them succeed, and then comes Natalie, previously of the most boring couple, in my opinion. This was steamy, passionate and dramatic, and she used her Olympian body in every flexible way possible! (9-8-9=26)

CHUCK & ANNA - The UFC is making him do this, aren't they? Dude's having a great time, at least, and his samba may have not been any good (and I mean any), but the judges apparently scored it on entertainment value only because there's no way it was better than Michael Irvin or as good as Debi and Maks. (6-5-6=17)

AARON & KARINA - He tries to do the sexy thing and he dances like a martial artist doing the rumba, but it looks like he's trying out for "Cougar Town" with Karina as his partner. (8-6-7=21)

TOM & CHERYL - The producers and his doctors apparently told him to skedaddle due to a stress fracture on BOTH feet, and then he dances anyway and isn't completely terrible. Hardened Democrats in the audience are obvious in their refusal to cheer for him. (6-4-5=15)

KELLY & LOUIS - She had a lot more fun out there than last week's uneven performance. She'd be fine no matter what as this year's redemption story. (7-6-7=20)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Jeff's Top 5 - The real Iron Chefs are at home!

NEXT IRON CHEF started Sunday night on the Food Network, which seems to be like Chopped, only if the judges were the ones vying to be the best.
The elimination challenge had the cheftestants cooking weird and gross stuff like sea cucumber and "stinky tofu" (what, the regular tofu isn't icky enough?), but had the added benefit of killing Val's appetite for sweets. The first challenge was to use one ingredient provided to make something from their childhood.
This brings me to a top five idea, Top Five Childhood Food Favorites, the ones that Mom would make and ensure my plate was cleaned. (Okay, let's be honest, you can tell from my body mass that I cleaned every plate, but these were the best of the best.)
1. Potato Salad - I'll eat most anyone's, but something about Mom's recipe that had me raiding the fridge for leftovers at 2 a.m.
2. Ms. Sherrick's Chili - The kind Mom made annually for Super Bowls to go with rotel cheese dip and tacos, just mouth-watering goodness of beef, peppers, onions and spices.
3. Tuna Casserole - Noodles, tuna and peas, a scrumdilyumptious combination.
4. Liver and onions - Yes. You read that right. And I love spinach, too.
5. Meatloaf - Just the right amount of ketchup to go with a big slice of meat, next to a glop of mashed taters and some fried okra, and you can see why I love eating at Cracker Barrel frequently when I just can't drive to Chapel Hill for some Jeff-spoiled home cooking.
Next time I should make a list of things that my Mom-in-law made for me when Val and I were living with them when we moved back to Memphis. I'm not sure what would be No. 1, but the battle between the meatballs, her potato salad and chicken-and-stuffing would be contentious.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Well nail on my tail and slap my donkey butt!

- Oh bother. My inner Eeyore is a little wary of news that the first authorized sequel is being released to the beloved stories starring Winnie The Pooh, 81 years later. But the Tigger in me thinks I should bounce quickly to buy up a copy of "Return to the Hundred Acre Wood" when it comes out next week for more adventures of Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and the gang? (Idea for the first chapter: "Eeyore finds a wheelchair for the 87-year-old Christopher Robin, but it turns out to be Rabbit's veggie wheelbarrow.")

- Memphis Memories from Oct. 3, 1884:
The boy who jumped from a fourth-story window into a basement on Madison a couple of weeks ago to avoid arrest for larceny has so far recovered that he is able to crawl about the hospital a little. Last night he left his bunk and crawled into an adjoining ward where he stole several trifles and then crawled back to his own bed where he secreted his spoils under his pillow.

- The disconnect between Hollywood and middle America, explained: Whoopi Goldberg thinks that Roman Polanski shouldn't be extradited on charges of drugging, having his way with a 13-year-old girl and fleeing justice for France 30 years ago because it wasn't "rape rape."

- Obama, shmobama, here's a real example of race relations improving in America: A white girl wins Miss Kentucky State University, an historically black college.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

IOC lays smack down on Obamessiah

- I was rooting for Chicago to get the 2016 summer Olympics, even Obama flying to Copenhagen for the hard sell. It's always fun when the Games are here in the States, if only to make it easier to watch on TV and not have to avoid the news for 15 hours until NBC chooses to air their favorites on primetime.

After they lost horribly in the first round, I wondered how long it would take until Obamacons started blaming this on Bush. Not long. Or maybe the IOC is racist?

Then again, should the president be surprised? After all, he's spent the better part of his first nine months assuring the world that we're not any better than anyone else, am I right?

- Admittedly, however, would I rather spend two weeks of the summer in Chicago, or Rio de Janeiro? The answer is very easy!

WHAT LIBERAL MEDIA? - Conservatives march in Washington and get called racists and kooks, while 66 are arrested in Pittsburgh during G20 protests for damaging 19 businesses and it's called "a peaceful march."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Friday Follies

- Kids between the ages of 4 and 9 getting faux-hawk hairdos lately in Memphis. This is a fad that I hope goes the way of the dodo by the time Cooper cares about his 'do!
- If I had a cooking blog it would be called Heat To Boiling, Stirring Occasionally.
- I really, really, stink at tearing Saran Wrap. I might be the worst in the world at it, no joke. I usually end up pulling it off to the side and having to manually break off the plastic, and by then it's all squished together and won't pull apart to wrap around the plate or bowl.
- I'm so happy that Val can tolerate the smell of pot roast during her pregnancy, and that she will eat all the veggies in it. It's my favorite dish of every week, even so much that I don't mind spending a half-hour peeling taters and chopping up onions the night before.
- Every week something in COMMUNITY makes us laugh so hard that we'll tune in every week just to see what comes next. This week it was a professor who acted like Robin Williams in "Dead Poets Society" on LSD: "Your homework is to swim in a lake and tell ten people you love them," he says, and then climbs a light pole in the background, to embrace "carpe diem." High comedy.
- The only thing memorable about last night's SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE was Mary's "Rules For What Not To Do In Auditions," such as the "reach to nowhere" or "men shaking their butts," complete with newly-permanent third judge Adam demonstrating them for the audience.
- The best part of Monday's HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER were the gang's doppelgangers: Lesbian Robin, Mustache Marshall and Stripper Lily. They teased the same for Barney and Ted, which means they'll be snuck in hilariously later in the season.
- Didn't watch THE AMAZING RACE premiere Sunday night. 16 seasons was enough. It was getting stale. We'll find something else, and besides, who knows what we'll be able to watch in about, oh, six more weeks. Or less!  
- We enjoyed the CHOPPED CHAMPIONS special event shows, though it would have been cooler if they had a tournament format instead of just advancing one winner per week to face three former champs.
- Could TOP CHEF VEGAS be any more inevitable? If the top four isn't Kevin, Jennifer and the brothers, it's rigged.
- There are still too many contestants on PROJECT RUNWAY that I don't know enough about to make an opinion. Sorry.
- Finally, FLASH FORWARD, which will always take several moments of reflection. One thing is for sure, they know how to end with a "WHAT THE HECK?!" moment, such as last night when it was revealed that Joseph Feinnes' daughter saw Fake D. Gibbons in her flash. Whoa!
Meanwhile, apparently I'm good at telling the future as well, because how obvious was it that the sheriff in Pigeon would be killed after telling Agent Noh/Harold that she didn't see a flash forward? Thus freaking him out for his lack of vision. But since it's 10 p.m. Pacific Coast Time, wouldn't 3/4 of the country not see anything, due to being asleep at the time?
Love the bit with the FBI L.A. office head dude having to explain how he was on the crapper during the blackout, and give mouth-to-mouth to a dude who passed out in the urinal.
How is the FBI Preggie going to be getting a sonogram at 10 p.m., anyway? And why would Feinnes see himself alone in the office, when everyone there knows now that at April 29 at 10 p.m. he's a sitting duck to scary dudes with machine guns?
Shouldn't they be going through all transactions that took place during the two minutes around the world? Since now we know there are at least two who stayed awake, I mean.