Monday, June 30, 2008

Larger than life

No, this will NOT be a post about the Backstreet Boys song of the same name.

Heidi has been stuck in revision hell for the last week, coming out of her office mostly just to refill her coffee cup (except when she takes the thermos up and then we don't see her for hours!), leaving Anna and me to mostly fend for ourselves. This is nothing new. I've experienced this countless times before, usually in October/November when she was getting a maunscript ready for the Golden Heart. We know that it happens, and we also know that it reaches an end. But since she has been in her own world (literally), Anna and I decided to go see what kind of trouble we could get up to.

That involved us going out to Family Video and renting a Wii game that I have been intrigued with in theory, but wanted to try before I plunked down the money for it. It's Rampage: Total Destruction (warning: sound pretty much instantaneously.) It is basically an update of the 1986 arcade game Rampage, which has you controlling monsters of various forms, knocking down buildings, eating people, etc. My sister and I played a PC port of this constantly probably 15 years ago so I have a lot of fond memories of the original game. Anna and I also played an emulation of the original game for a while a couple years ago. Whenever the monster ate a person, she laughed uproariously. So when I saw that it was available for the Wii with souped up graphics and up to 30 (!) unlockable monsters, we had to give it a go.

We did find it, picked it up for $3.50 (for 5 nights, no less) and then hit Dairy Queen on the way home. We shared one of their cotton candy Blizzards (which, amazingly, had no calories or fat) and then headed home to play.

It's pretty cool to be able to play this game in three dimensions, and the ability to play through real live cities has been fun. But it still suffers from the problem that the original game had: it is repetitive as hell! Destroy all the buildings, move on to the next block. That is not to say that it is not fun, I just don't see it having a super long shelf life. Anna and I have a blast playing it, though. It's especially entertaining to hear her say "Dad, I'm gonna go find some more people to eat!" And as I mentioned before, you're not limited to the original George the Gorilla, Lizzie the Lizard and Ralph the Wolf. There's a giant chicken, a giant ram, a cyclops, a shark, etc. They all do pretty much the same thing so the differences are more or less cosmetic.

Like I said, Anna and I have fun playing it, but it's certainly not worth full price. I found it on Amazon Sellers for 13 bucks and that is still just a little more than I am willing to pay for it. If I could get it for 10 bucks including shipping, then they might have a deal. Instead, we'll just play the hell out of it until Thursday when it's due back.

And in keeping with the giant, mutated animals theme, I finally sat down and watched my Netflix that had been sitting on top of the TV for at least a week. Eight Legged Freaks is a giant spider movie from several years back that has been hanging out in the top 10 of my Netflix queue for ages, but always getting bumped back by other, sexier movies. I was so pleasantly surprised by this. It is a B-movie, there's no doubt about it, but what a heck of B-movie it was.

Basic premise is toxic waste spills into a local stream in Prosperity, AZ and it mutates the spiders (just the spiders?) to gigantic arachnids. I was expecting some pretty bad effects, but surprisingly, they were excellent. There were a few times when the CG-ness of the spiders was apparent, but mostly, I was just so overwhelmed by the sheer number of the spiders that I didn't pay attention to that much.

At only 99 minutes, it was certainly not a huge time sink, and it was very enjoyable to boot. Here's one of the better sequences.



An enjoyable weekend, that's for sure. Now it's time to get ready for work.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The five questions meme

My friend Jess posted this meme on her LiveJournal, and since I was feeling brave, I went for it. It's an audience participation meme, so if you feel inclined to participate, please do so. If no one participates, it will be no skin off my nose, but it could be fun. I had fun answering the questions, and to her credit, Jess came up with a good mix of serious and not so serious.
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The rules:

1. Leave me a casual comment of no particular significance, like a lyric to your current favorite song, your favorite jelly bean flavor, or maybe your favorite game. Any remark, meaningless or not. (for example: my comment on Jess' entry was "My sugar is raw.")

2. I will respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better. I will try not to make them too nosy or snarky. (This should, but will probably not happen as soon as you reply. Give me time folks!)

3. Update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. Include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in your own post.

5. When others respond with a desultory comment, you will ask them five questions.

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1. When did you decide you wanted to be a pharmacist, and why? Has the reason changed as time has gone by?


I decided to become a pharmacist during my senior year of high school. For years, I had thought that I wanted to be a doctor. But then I got a job at a local clinic pharmacy in the fall of 1989 as a delivery boy/stock boy/jack-of-all-trades and really liked it. I liked what the pharmacists did, the kinds of things the did, and the specialized knowledge that went along with it. I also liked chemistry quite a bit and that seemed like a good application of that interest.

But the real turning point for me was when I was at the clinic Christmas party and one of the doctors talked about being on call all day Thanksgiving and Christmas. That didn't seem how I wanted to live my life, and it was at that point that I very clearly recall thinking, "I don't want to be a doctor."

I do enjoy what I do, even if it is, at times, very frustrating. The profession has undergone a lot of changes in the 13 years that I've been licensed, some good, some bad. We're a lot more directly involved in patient care and are taking responsibility for outcomes. This is a good thing. Conversely, the state of retail pharmacy is a disgrace in my opinion, with emphasis on volume and the almighty dollar which has done nothing but cheapen the profession and burn out those brave souls that dare work it.

2. What's your all-time favorite Madonna song?

There are so many to choose from and she's had so many memorable hits and album tracks, but I think that if a gun were held to my head, I would spit out one of the earliest hits - "Borderline." She has surely made more complex and personal songs, but this song hinted at the greatness to come. If there is any one song I want to hear on the Sticky & Sweet Tour (which I keep on wanting to call the Skinny & Sweet Tour), it's this one.

3. Why is it so difficult for men to have emotionally close friendships with other men? Or do you even feel that way?

I really do agree with this statement. I've explored this a few times on my blog, but usually dance around the topic. I think there are many reasons that men have such a hard time forming emotionally close friendships with other men, but probably the biggest is fear. Fear of exposure, fear of vulnerability and fear of the unknown. We are not socialized that way. We're brought up to show nothing and express no emotion. So letting other guys see that emotion is especially taboo.

I, however, consider that to be the biggest load of crap that has ever been put over on us. I truly hope that starting with the men of my generation, we can start turning that on its ear and learn to connect with each other. I know from personal experience that it can and does happen, but you can't force it.

4. What is your greatest wish for your daughter?

My greatest wish for her is that she go into her life unafraid to take chances and have adventures. I hope that I can instill in her the confidence needed for this, along with just the right dose of cautiousness so not to go spinning madly out of control.

5. If you could choose any other generation to be a part of, which one would you choose, and why?

I have always wished that I could have been a young adult or thirtysomething during the Watergate era, so late 60s/early 70s. I don't know why this is, but I am fascinated by that period of history. It's too close to us to really be taught in schools, but we have so much to learn from it. There are days that I feel like we are reliving it (those who refuse to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it?) but I still wish I could experience it. Of course, if I were to do that, I would have to figure out some way to avoid being immediately drafted into Vietnam. So I guess it's not so much wishing I were part of a different generation, but rather experiencing a time period that I was just barely conscious for more fully and completely.
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OK, folks, it's your turn.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A whirlwind Medusa

I slept poorly all last night because I was dreaming crazy dreams involving Medusa (specifically the Ray Harryhausen Medusa from Clash of the Titans) in my backyard shooting arrows at people and me narrowly escaping her clutches. I also remember that her head was in the mailbox as well, which was kind of strange because she was also alive and in the backyard. I remember waking up from the dream and actually being a little bit scared, even though looking back at it now, it was a seriously ridiculous dream. In my semi-conscious state, the sounds of the cats in the hallway made me nervous. I mean, how stupid is that? I finally fell back to sleep and slept until almost 9:00.

I got to thinking that surely dreaming of Medusa must mean something, but a Google search proved rather fruitless. I was talking to Heidi about it and she said that you probably have to figure out what Medusa meant in the dream. I really have no idea, to be quite honest. There are a lot of ideas, one of which being that Medusa "represents the fear of death in the form of the face of a putrefying corpse." (via) There are also a lot of sexual interpretations of the Medusa myth, naturally. Some point to Medusa being the the ultimate male fear of being overtaken by female sexual power, hence her beheading and neutralization.

I was always fascinated by the Medusa myth. I remember my dad telling me that story as a kid while I was lying in bed at night. I was particularly impressed with how you would not turn to stone if you looked at her reflection. This tidbit was used to great effect in Clash of the Titans, a movie that is so gloriously cheesy it still works today. Harryhausen's depiction of Medusa will always be the definitive one for me, even though the effects are so sub par compared to what could be accomplished now. But there's a part of me that admires the Medusa effects in that movie, especially in a day and age where CGI would make that whole sequence far too easy.

I really wish I had picked up the Medusa figure at that comic shop in Chicago a few years back. Although I probably wouldn't be able to look at it right now.

Friday, June 27, 2008

June meditation

It's been roughly a month since I started this whole meditation experiment. I figured that since the month is just about up, I should try to look back on this a bit. When I first started this, I figured that I would be at it for a few days and then slip back into my old ways of information overload and monkey brain. But chalk one up for being able to teach an old dog new tricks, because I think I've had some pretty good progress.

While I have not been completely successful, I have made great strides forward. Somebody asked me the other day as I was walking into work with my headphones still in my ears if I listened to ocean waves on there because I am always so calm. As Bugs Bunny would say "She don't know me very well, do she?" The funny part is that I think I have calmed my insides down a lot, although I have a very long way to go. I know a lot of people that are not good at projecting the calm exterior - their outsides are just as crazy as what I would imagine being in their heads would be like. Still, I feel most times like no one else has half the insanity of thought process going on in their head like I do. I had a therapist tell me once that the fallacy of comparing yourself to other people is that we're always comparing our tumultuous insides to other people's calm exteriors. For some reason, that comment has always stayed with me. So that's what I try to remember when I think that way.

For me, meditation has really become something that I look forward to. I am not very good at it yet. I have a hard time focusing on my breath and keeping my mind from wandering to what I had for lunch today or what I'm going to do when I'm done. I think I'm better than when I started a month ago, so that's progress in my book. Baby steps, I tell ya. I actually find myself getting kind of cranky when I can't make time to meditate, similar to people who get irritated when they can't do their workouts. It has been a centering thing for me. Heidi comments that whenever I get done, it's like I just came home from an energy therapy appointment. I think it has done me good to be more aware of my energy centers and to think more consciously of them.

This probably sounds like a whole lot of bunk to many people who may read this. And that's fine. I know it's not for everyone. There are days I'm not sure it's for me, but I persevere because I have seen the benefits of it. I sleep better, I feel better, my mind is not as prone to flights of fancy that usually end badly. My mood has also been much better. Because meditation has been teaching me to put everything in its own box, I find it easier to leave work at work, even though things have been kind of crazy and stressful there right now. Today, for example, I found myself existing serenely amidst a sea of cacophony which is really quite miraculous considering my tendency to suck all that up and internalize it whether I like it or not.

So starting in July, I keep on working on my mind and start working on my body. I hope that I have at least a similar level of success with that. But if I have 15-20 minutes each day to meditate, surely I can do the same with exercise or weights or something like that, right?

We'll see. Stay tuned.

I am probably going to have to get myself a Buddha though. The closest thing I have is my one-armed Jabba and that just doesn't quite suffice.

MadgeCain

This is one of the funniest things I think I have ever seen!



I think my favorite part is the piano breakdown starting at about 0:38. That had me laughing hysterically.

And me being me, I was reminded of the sheer brilliance of the "Vogue" video, especially in comparison to what she's calling videos now.

(thanks to Matt for this one!)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A picture worth a thousand lies

Popular (and not so popular music) is such a huge part of my life that it's kind of hard to surprise me with something new. But let me tell you a secret: the way to do it is to introduce me to something that is old but new to me. Something from a time period through which I watched music come and go, but somehow managed to slip beneath my radar. Well, this managed to happen last night.

A song called "Bury My Lovely" by October Project landed in my inbox quite randomly last night during an e-mail conversation with a friend. I had never heard the song before, but his music recommendations rarely, if ever, disappoint. First released in 1993, this song hits me in all the right places. It boasts a female singer (Mary Fahl) with a haunting vocal, a minor-ish key signature, and syncopation all over the place. It is angsty but not too much, and has a dark and brooding video to accompany it. (sorry it's so small! There were no clips on YouTube that I could embed.)



Where was this song in 1993? Obviously, it was nowhere near my radar. It would have fit in perfectly with where I was and how I felt about life back then. That is not to say that I was this emo, brooding young adult, but I did have my fair share of (mostly manufactured) drama and I can just see myself sitting in my room at 3AM on a Saturday night while playing around on the then-fledgling internet (ISCABBS anyone?) playing this song over and over again. Kind of like now, I just can't stop playing it.

So this morning, I picked up the entire October Project album on iTunes. You would think that it would get same-y and you'd want to turn it off after a few songs. I was nervous about that as well, but I'm glad to report that those fears were unfounded. It also has a completely memorable album cover. It makes me almost wish I had bought the physical CD.

That's going to be my Halloween costume this year! OK, maybe not.

If I were to pick one adjective to describe October Project, I would pick autumnal. As I was listening to it this morning while walking to work, I found myself wishing that it were about 40 degrees cooler, a little bit darker and that the leaves were brown and on the ground instead of green and on the trees. I can see how this could easily have been one of the essential "fall albums" had I discovered it just a little bit later. But sadly, we can't control those kinds of things. I was lamenting this in an e-mail to the person who sent me "Bury My Lovely" and he had a great reply to this. I hope he doesn't mind that I reproduce it here.


October Project now is like looking at a picture of New England autumn during the blaze of summer heat.

I think he hit the nail right on the head.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Little Sparro

I have been reading about Sam Sparro on XO's blog for probably about 6 months now. I'll admit, I didn't really listen. I'm not sure why. I think I found the song "Black & Gold" on a blog somewhere and listened to it a couple times and the promptly forgot about it. But I kept on hearing about him, and not just from XO either.

So tonight I was in the iTunes store and saw that "Black & Gold" was the free iTunes single of the week. I figured, what the hell, I'll download just about anything for free. I listened to it and for some reason, it finally clicked with me.

I went and listened to some sound samples from the album (also out today in the U.S.) and really liked the first few tracks. The price was also right - $7.99! I also have a $25 iTunes card to use, so I picked it up. I would highly recommend that any pop music fan do the same. It is a great record. It is oddly retro, yet current. It really defies categorization. But I do know that it is good.

Do yourself a favor and go check out the sound samples. And buy it if you like it. It's totally worth 8 bucks.

And I was just bemoaning the lack of good new music today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Gimme what'cha got, ready or not

Before Madonna, there was Olivia. ONJ was my very first celebrity crush, the first in a long line of crushes. I don't know what it was that initally drew me to her. It was probably the ubiquitousness of Grease during my formative years. I was powerless to resist the story of Sandy transforming from goody-two-shoes to sexpot in tight pants (that zipped up the back no less!) "Physical" was the first 45rpm single that I ever purchased, and as I've detailed in a previous post, Olivia's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was the first album I ever bought with my own money.

The greatest hits albums are the safest bet with Olivia. Her studio albums are all a bit hit and miss, usually a couple of hits surrounded by massive amounts of album filler. This is especially true of her early albums, back when she was a "country" artist. I have quite a few of these albums but they rarely get listened to because I just cannot abide by those breathy vocals. But there is one album that stands out amongst the rest. For my money, her best studio album is and will always be Totally Hot.

Let's just get the obvious out of the way. She is, well, totally hot on the album cover. I remember being a kid and getting this album for my birthday (probably my 11th or 12th) and just sitting on my bed and staring at that picture of ONJ. It didn't hurt that the hormones were probably just starting to kick in then, but she is just fantastically gorgeous on that album cover. In fact, the entire photo shoot is very subway chic with a dose of roller disco thrown in for good measure (minus the actual roller skates.) I remember wondering whether or not those were the same pants she wore in Grease, as if the wardrobe budget was suddenly short and they had to recycle.

But enough about Olivia's tight pants, let's get to the music. This is such a strong set from Livvy, there really isn't a dud in the bunch. This is truly amazing, given what I said about her studio albums and the sheer volume of filler she is capable of. Musically, this is the first time that she took a chance and tried something different, which was a good thing as her white-bread country girl image had about run it's course by this time. The album opens with one of my all time favorite ONJ album tracks - "Please Don't Keep Me Waiting." Swirling synths and a solid vocal performance by Olivia nearly cancel out the hilarity of the final two minutes, in which Olivia screeches like a bat. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Notice that I said nearly cancel it out. I still can't listen to this song without cracking up - and that's a compliment, believe it or not.

Another strong track is the overplayed but still fantastic "A Little More Love." A plea to a lover for just a little more committment, I remember as a kid never really knowing whether or not she was singing "Will a little more love make you start depending?" or "Will a little more love make you stop depending?" Well, I guess since ONJ is trying to keep her lover, it's "start." I also really love the song "Talk To Me" which has a funky electric guitar riff in the beginning before settling down into a late 70's pop groove. It contains probably the only reference to "psychiatry" in any song I can think of in the chorus: "You don't need no psychiatry/Come on, baby, you can talk to me/Cuddle up on the couch with me/We can talk all night for free." The best part is how "psychiatry" comes out as "skyiatry."

But the best song on the entire album is the title track. I have probably listened to in hundreds of times in my life and it seriously never gets old. Another funky guitar, another great chorus, and more growled vocals by Livvy. It seriously doesn't get better than this, folks.



A lot of people count the Physical album as the point at which Olivia really left her country audience behind and embraced the pop crossover. While that may be true in some respects (there's still a healthy dose of adult-contemporary/pseudo-country on Totally Hot), this album is really when Livvy broke out of the white-bread image and got down and dirty. Well, as dirty as she could at the time. Plus she didn't have the unfortunate hair cut of the Physical years or the sweatband.

She rode that wave pretty adeptly for several years. It wasn't until 1985 that she really went too far with the whole sexpot thing. The Soul Kiss album can probably be interpreted as her trying to keep up with Madonna, and it ended with People magazine exhorting her to "put her shirt back on." But with Totally Hot, it was kind of like the girl-next-door showing her wild side. And that is sexy.

Goodbye to Sandra Dee, indeed.

(thanks to Lucas for providing the inspiration for this post!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Parties and ladders

Today has been a bit of a lazy day. I have spent a ton of time sitting on the front porch with the laptop reading TKT's novel (about half way through now) while listening to Joni Mitchell (a blog post all on its own.) This was kind of needed as we had folks over last night as kind of the last hurrah for my birthday this year. One thing I really wanted this year was to have some people over just for fun and drinks and whatever might happen. It was a fun night with some of the people closest to me and those that are not quite as close but are well on their way. My mom took a lot of pictures but I don't think I'll post them as I don't think it's fair to post pictures of people on the internet without their permission (except for Heidi and Anna, naturally.) So that having been said, here's a picture that was taken of Heidi and me last night.

And here's one of Anna with the ever popular mini-Coke bottles. She was so sad that there were none left over last night we went out to the store and bought another six-pack today.

We drank a lot of booze. As Heidi said, we could have done with twice the booze and half the pop, but it's all good. We took all the bottles back today, got gas for the car and cat food for the felines. All riveting stuff, let me tell you. But the highlight of the day was the changing of the burnt out floodlights on the garage.

Several years ago (at least two winters ago, by Heidi's estimation) the floodlights on the garage burned out. Heidi went out and bought compact fluorescent replacements, but they have languished in the cupboard since their purchase. It has never been high on my priority list, even though I knew that it would be an easy job. Truth be told, I didn't want to get on the ladder.

But today I decided that I needed to say that I accomplished SOMETHING (especially after Heidi almost single handedly transformed our kitchen last week), so for reasons unexplained, I decided to tackle the floodlights. I went over to my neighbor's house and asked him if I could borrow his extension ladder. I brought it home and after a bit of trial and error, figured out how to extend it. I got it set up against the garage and then came the really hard part: climbing the ladder.

I am not particularly afraid of heights, but for some reason, being on a ladder scares the ever loving shit out of me. I must have fallen off of one in a previous lifetime because there is certainly no logical reason for it. The small step ladders you use in the house don't bother me much because you really don't get that high on those, but extension ladders and any ladder that you can use to get on a roof is just really too much for me. Add to this the fact that I had to not only carry the new light bulb with me while climbing, but then had to unscrew the old one and then change it out. The descent on the ladder, carrying the old bulb, about did these 36 year old nerves in. Even with Heidi down at the bottom steadying the ladder, all I could see were visions of my broken body on the cement below. I pretty much sweat bullets the entire time.

That's the thing about phobias though. They don't make sense. As Heidi pointed out to me, a fall of that ladder would probably just break my leg or arm or both. Inconvenient, yes, but hardly life threatening. Still, I did not enjoy my time on the ladder. I am glad those damn bulbs are changed though. One more goddamn monkey off my back.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A possible set list? **spoilers!**

Yuri sent this to me yesterday (via Perez Hilton) and let me tell you, if this set list is even 50% true, I will be in heaven. It is still a bit more Hard Candy heavy than I like (a friend I was talking to referred to it as Stale Candy, which really, is true), but there are some songs on there we haven't heard live in ages!

Behold...
It seems like a large number of songs to perform for one concert, but some of these might be interlude (or perhaps the italicized ones are the interludes?) Anyway, like I said, I am dying to hear "Borderline" again after all these years, but look, there's "La Isla Bonita" AGAIN, although it is crossed out so perhaps there's hope. Seriously, that song needs to be put out to pasture. I like it and all, but it's been performed live enough.

The couple that paints together stays together

But not without tense moments!

It is 2:21 AM and we are still conscious, although barely. We have been painting all night. I wish I could say we have been painting happy little trees, but no. It has been a MUCH bigger job than happy little trees. I had pictures of us painting tonight that I was going to post but I can't just yet.

All will be revealed very soon. For now, I am going to try to sleep, which shouldn't be too difficult!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My next 10 songs

A couple days ago, this post arrived in my inbox via Matt, who had also forwarded it to Bess. I read it with great interest as lists of songs always pique my interest. Because I am me, I started wondering what my next 10 songs would be. So, I emailed both Matt and Bess and suggested we do this on our blogs. Today I put the iPod on shuffle (all 5600+ songs) and here's what came up, plus or minus a few that I didn't really have all that much to say about. It's quite a motley mix of stuff, but the common thread through all of these is me. Naturally. Because it's all about me. ;)

Planets of the Universe / Stevie Nicks
What a latter-day Stevie classic this is, although it has taken 30 years to get it recorded (the original demo is called "No Light.") Her voice is great and it is lyrically one of the stronger songs from across her career, certainly of the 2000s. "You will never rule again the way you ruled me!" she screams at the scorned lover. High drama worthy of a fellow enneagram 4.

Rocket 2 U / The Jets
I haven't heard this song in ages and exactly how it ended up on my iPod I'm not sure. It's a song from that summer of '88 that had so many good songs. Can't say that this is one of the best of those songs, but it's still fun. And any song that can actually reference "All My Children" can't be all bad.

Feel For You / Bananarama
Bananarama was always much more a singles act to me, but this song from their 2005 Drama album is but one great pop song from a whole album's worth. The only problem with Drama was that it was released on the same day as Confessions on a Dance Floor (overseas anyway) so it was ignored by many in favor of the latter.

Deeper & Deeper (Live from The Girlie Show Tour) / Madonna
I think the version I have on my iPod is actually from one of the London shows. Part of the big disco set which starts with Madonna's first entrance on a disco ball (13 years before she came out of one on the Confessions Tour) and weaves its way through "Express Yourself", "Deeper & Deeper", "Why's It So Hard" and ends with "In This Life." The whole arc is really genius because it demonstrates how the advent of AIDS changed the culture. Anyway, I love this live version of "Deeper & Deeper" even though she tries to sing the breakdown part from David's Klub Mix and it just sounds like she's mooing!

Witches (Live from Uncommon Ground) / Casey Stratton
"Witches" is one of my favorite Casey Stratton songs and this was from his perfect set at Uncommon Ground that I saw in October of 2006. I am so glad that I bought the CD of the show that night because once Casey got it home and set to remaster it for release on the digital store, he realized that there was entirely too much feedback, so it never got released! The bonus part of this live version is you get to hear Casey talking about how the Chicago expressway can fuck you over and how his hair was kind of Oompa Loompa-ish that night!

Step Into The Light (Tony Moran Full Mix) / Darren Hayes
I'm not even sure how I came across this Darren Hayes mix, but it's not bad. I still prefer the original to this club ready remix (a bit too thumpa-thumpa-thumpa for even my tastes,) but it still gets the job done.

If I Could Turn Back Time / Cher
It's Cher at the height of my favorite Cher phase. There's something about the faux metal, leather mama Cher that just cracks me up! I seriously prefer this phase of Cher's career to the dance diva "Believe" phase, if you can believe that. The other thing I love about this song is that my daughter loves it. She was 3 and a half,we were in the car and this song came on. To my shock and utter delight, she started singing it. It was another "stop the paternity test!" moment, folks.

Kill You / Eminem
A little bit of Eminem goes a long way with me, and I am really not cool with the homophobic vibe that he gives off in general, not to mention the misogyny. But I kind of like him in spite of myself. If you can look past the potty mouth, he has really written some very lyrically clever songs. This is one of them. Of course, I always kind of like the f-bomb in songs, so this one is right up my alley.

Frozen (Live - Drowned World Tour) / Madonna
Two Madonna songs in the next 10 tunes did not surprise me. What did surprise me was that they were both live songs. Taken from the Drowned World Tour in 2001, this was the first live Madonna show I saw. I knew virtually nothing about the tour prior to going because of a self-imposed media blackout on all tour details. There were only two songs that I really wanted to hear -- "Frozen" and "Secret." Fortunately, I got my wish on both! This is still my favorite live performance of "Frozen," kicking off the Geisha Girl section of the tour and providing the HUGE tease of the opening notes of "Open Your Heart" at the end. Check out the video from the tour here. It was massive live.

Departure Bay / Diana Krall
And for the final track, things slow down a bit. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Diana Krall (even though one blogger I know thinks she is kind of a bitch, which may or may not be true.) Anyway, this is from The Girl In The Other Room which was kind of a (pardon the pun) departure for her. It was still jazz influenced, but it was not jazz standards like she had been performing. Instead, she wrote some of her own music, covered Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello and Tom Waits. It's is probably my favorite album of hers still, even though her jazz standards are good as well.

Matt's 10 songs are here, and here are Bess's songs. If you want to try this, feel free. The more the merrier.

UPDATE: We're linked from the original blog that did this. We're famous!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day and it's been a pretty good one so far. Nothing too terribly exciting, but it was good nonetheless. We finally made it back to church after what I swear is a two month absence. It was good but not quite what I was looking for. However, that's the chance you take when you're Unitarian. Since there is no such thing as a "typical" UU service, you just never know what you're going to get. We biked there and it rained on us on the way home, but the fact that I could bike there and back WITHOUT getting crushing chest pains tells me I'm in better shape than I thought (and it's a 4 mile ride round trip!)

Anna was so pumped about Father's Day. I kind of knew what I was getting from her. She had wanted to get me a hammock because she remembers hanging out in a hammock at my brother's house in Phoenix. Photographic evidence below:

(P.S. - I hate that picture of me, but I was sick so I was not at my best.)

However, hammocks were quite expensive - 80 dollars, if you can believe it - plus we didn't really know where we would put it. So instead, she went with this:

Wise move. It is harder than I anticipated, but we're learning slowly but surely.

I always feel a little bit guilty about Father's Day because it's like my family gets double-whammied from my birthday and then Father's Day right on its heels. Usually I tell them not to do much for Father's Day, but they don't really listen to me.

Happy Father's Day out there to all the other dads that read this blog - specifically Matt, Yuri, & TKT, but anyone else that I might be forgetting. And to my own father as well, who I know reads these pages of inane chatterings.

Hopefully Anna doesn't end up thumping me with an ashtray as I sit and demand my Father's Day cake. Because if that's the case, I'll have to come back a la Nathan Grantham. It's Father's Day, Bedelia!! Where's my cake?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

And then there were none

My last living grandparent died on Thursday. Gladys Newcomb was 87 years old. Her death was peaceful and was right after lunch. It is hard to feel sad about the death of someone who has lived such a long life, especially someone who, in my mind, changed tremendously with the loss of her longtime husband a year and a half ago and was longing to be with him again. Yet, we still mourn. It's what we do when someone dies. We all do it in our own ways but mourn we must. There's no way around it.

My grandma had been in a nursing home for the last year or so and had been in hospice care for the last couple of months. I managed to make it up to see her a month or two ago, which I am now very glad I did. When I saw her, although she had stopped wearing the wig that she had worn her whole life and was very frail, I still could recognize the woman that I remember so well.

As I detailed in my post about my grandfather's death in Jaunary of 2007, it's never how someone was at the end of life that sticks with us, for that is only a brief moment in a lifetime full of memories and stories. And as per usual, I will always remember my grandmother as a soft spoken woman who was dedicated to family and took the job very seriously. She was also the person who gave me my very first Star Wars action figure (Hammerhead, IIRC) I loved her very much and am very glad that I made a point to tell her that and to kiss her on the cheek the last time I saw her. And while her passing is not unexpected at her advanced age and in her declining health, it is still difficult for me.

The reason I think it is difficult is because, while I mourn the loss of my grandmother, I am also mourning the passing of yet another milestone in my life. She was the only grandparent I had left, and her death is one step closer to my own, even though I hope that day is decades in the future. We all live on this planet and then die, there's not getting around that either. But the trick is making each day count, living (as the one and only Cher muttered in "The Music's No Good Without You") each day "like it was my last." That is trite and cliched, yes, but that doesn't mean that it is not true.

Those who know me well know that I can have a significant melancholy streak, and today, it was wider than it has been in a while. It took me a while to figure it out, because I had a great night last night with a good friend who took me out for my birthday. Great food, great conversation as always, followed by Guitar Hero on the Wii. How can you go wrong? Well, my grandmother's death was obviously on my mind. This coupled with the devastating floods going on in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City and the fact that I really didn't want to go to work today really did a number on me. I was a big bucket of boiling over emotion by the end of the day and while that's nothing meditation can't fix, I still felt like it came from nowhere and left me with no place to put it. It has been quite a damn long time since the melancholy streak has been in the driver's seat, and it brought back some not so pleasant memories.

There's nothing to worry about. I'm fine, as I always am. But I still am sad for the loss of yet another family member, even though we knew that with my grandmother it was just a matter of time. In the end, you always wish you had just a little bit more time.

When I was walking home from work, I decided to work with the melancholy and put on Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Between Here & Gone." It's a song abut death and change and it always gets me, no matter what. (mp3) Anyway, I heard these lyrics today and found them appropriate for the occasion.

I thought a light went out, but now the candle shines.
I thought my tears wouldn't stop, then I dried my eyes.

And after all of this, the truth that holds me here,

Is that this emptiness is something not to fear.

Yeah, I'll keep wondering how we know where we belong,

After all the journeys made, and the journeys yet to come.

When I feel like giving up instead of going on,

Somewhere in between
... here and gone

May you be at peace Grandma. You're no longer on this plane, but you're somewhere in between here and gone, for you will never truly be gone as long as your memory lives on. Sorry that this post was more about me than it was you, but you clearly inspired it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a bad zombie movie

I just got done watching the 2008 "remake" of Romero's Day of the Dead. I got it from Netflix at the same time that I rented the low-budget Sci-Fi Channel original movie Loch Ness Terror. I thought for sure that Loch Ness Terror would be the crap movie of the two, considering it was straight to cable and the whole premise was just too laughable to pass up. Surprisingly enough though, it was the zombie flick that failed to make the grade.

The fact that I started watching this movie several weeks ago and just now finished it speaks volumes. It failed on so many levels and was so unbelievably bad. I should have been more wary of a direct-to-DVD movie, but anymore, effects are cheap enough that even movies with a shoestring budget can have decent effects and be worthy of at least one watch.

So how did this movie fail so miserably whereas something like Flight of the Living Dead succeeded, if not brilliantly, at least capably? It all boils down to respect for your source material, in this case, the living dead. Day of the Dead broke several zombie rules and as most of the regulars know, nothing pisses me off faster than a zombie movie that does not follow the rules.

My biggest beef with the movie was this whole "the zombies retain a portion of what they used to be." I mean, seriously. Everyone knows that once someone's a zombie, they are no longer the person they were. They are driven solely by the desire to consume human flesh. That's why the "vegetarian zombie" (the guy was a vegetarian prior to becoming a zombie) was so utterly ridiculous. He was able to be around the heroes because he wasn't interested in eating meat. WTF?

Another problem I had was the zombies using guns. Zombies simply lack the rudimentary skills to operate complex firearms. Sure, the FlyBoy Zombie figure comes with a gun accessory, but that whole thing has always puzzled me. But there the undead were, jumping out of windows with automatic weapons, gunning down the survivors. Again, WTF?

Then there's the whole fast vs. slow zombies. I can see the arguments on both sides, but I think, when push comes to shove, I have to come down on the side of slow zombies. Yes, the fast zombies are very scary and they add a dimension of horror that the slow zombies can't muster. However, the whole idea of a zombie apocalypse and the ensuing terror from it lies mostly in the fact that the zombie horde is unstoppable because of its sheer number. Yes they are slow and could, in theory, be beaten back because of their slowness. But it's the fact that they are there by the hundreds that makes them threatening. That, to me, is scarier than a zombie growling and salivating and then running at you faster than a Concorde. But as usual, YMMV. And the fast zombies are probably scarier on screen anyway for a lot of people.

I finished the movie, but it was a huge disappointment. It's probably the first time a zombie movie has really disappointed me. I'm fond of saying that zombie movies are like pizza and sex - even when they're bad, they're still pretty good. But after having watched Day of the Dead, I'll have to be reevaluating that blanket statement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All spun up

Jeff called me from his vacation spot in sunny Florida last night and he mentioned how he was at a record store and listened to Cyndi Lauper's new record. I don't know that he has ever been what you would call a Cyndi Lauper "fan" but he really could not say enough good things about that album. And he made a stunning admission, basically calling it the more worthy successor to Confessions On A Dance Floor. I have to say that while I do appreciate Hard Candy and enjoy the songs, it still do and always will prefer Confessions to it.

Anyway, here's the video for Cyndi's "Into The Nightlife." I love it. This song may boot "Same Ol' Story" from the summer playlist, although there may be room for both. We'll just have to see how the summer plays out.



And since it's finally available on YouTube and Warner has called off the attack dogs, here's Madonna's "Give It 2 Me" video. Lazy, yes, but she looks fantastic!



This video reminds me, stylistically, a lot of the "Erotica" video, with it's black and white and cut aways to still photos.

Birthday recap

It's 12:33 AM and we're under yet ANOTHER severe thunderstorm watch. The street outside is a river (only a slight exaggeration) but the basement is dry (for the moment.) Iowa City, which was my home for the largest chunk of my life outside my hometown is threatened with record flooding thanks to all this excessive rain. I'm not going to bed until this passes. Good thing I don't work till 10 tomorrow.

Anyway, the birthday was good. Thanks to all those wishing me well as I embark on this portion of my 30s. I truly didn't know so many people gave a shit! My folks came over today and with them, they brought my present which was Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for the Wii. Really, it's all Matt's fault that I am even interested in Guitar Hero at all! Perhaps my biggest surprise was to find "Ruby" by the Kaiser Chiefs on there as a song you can "buy" with the money you make in career mode. I love that song, and I think I have Paul to thank for that one!

Anyway, here I am, rocking out.


We had a nice dinner and the weather, amazingly enough was fantastic. That was followed by the traditional singing and cake and what not, which was all good. Here's a couple shots from that - one of Heidi and me, and the other of Anna and me.


In addition to all this fun, I also helped fix a toilet! I learned so much that should I ever have to do that again (chances are high, there are two other toilets in the house), I could likely do it all by myself.

Anna was especially precious today because she bought me a second wheel for the Wii so that we can play Mario Kart in tandem. She even spent her very own money on it, made the card herself and also designed the wrapping paper. I think that Jeff would be proud of her!

So now, the storm has passed and I'm off to bed. Heidi bought me a new alarm clock which is on the bedside table next to me. It looks like a Dalek, I must say. It's one of those progressive alarm clocks that wakes you up either with light or sound or smell or some combination of the three. I am forever complaining that my alarm clock is the most annoying one on the planet, so hopefully this will remedy that situation. I hate that fucking old alarm clock.

Oh, and my monthly goal of meditating daily? Going well. I have missed only a couple days and I'm amazed at how much difference it makes for me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

3 to the 6 to the one step closer to 40

So today, I'm 36. For the last few weeks, I've been a bit leery of 36 because it officially puts me on the "closer to 40 than 30" track. But really, how ridiculous is it to worry? There is nothing bad about getting older. Truthfully, every year is better than the last. I don't know that I have made big changes in the last year in my life. It's always hard to tell because I live in my head and body every day so it's difficult to see things that change.

Mostly, I'm happy to be where I am, to have the fabulous people in my life that I do. And that includes everybody, people I see daily, people that are blog/net friends primarily, and those that are the odd amalgam of both. I am truly blessed to have such a big family of choice. It was apparent to me when I saw all the birthday wishes on my Facebook page. I totally was not expecting them!

And Heidi, of course, always manages to do some of the best birthday posts for me. And this year is no different.

I love you honey. Now let's get partying!

(Don't worry Matt, I'll make sure there's still some party left when we go out on Friday!)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Adventures in garage door openers

There are nice things about living in an older house vs. living in brand new construction. There's the character of a non-cookie cutter style house, as well asthe likelihood that you'll live on a tree-lined street vs. one with just saplings. But let me tell you, upkeep is a bitch with a capital B.

Last night we realized that our garage door opener remote control had definitely seen better days. It's kind of been one of those slow deaths that finds us always able to eke out one more use from the remote, and then pray that it works again to open the door the next day. Anyway, since last night it was so completely uncooperative, Heidi was out at Lowe's today and picked up a replacement one for 25 bucks that promised to work on all Genie garage door openers pre-1995. A good look at ours leaves very little room for doubt that it's pre-1995.

I was proud of myself, I figured out how to program it and everything. I pushed the button. Nothing. I looked again and tried a few different things with it. Still nothing. I tried looking REALLY MEAN at it, and still nothing. So I went and did some Google searching. As it turns out, the garage door opener remotes on the market of the era covered by this new remote all use this 390 MHz frequency. From what I was able to glean, it started in about 1983. A bit more searching turned up this little tidbit:

Our particular model of garage door opener was manufactured in the 1960s.

For the love of all that's sacred, that's a 40+ year old garage door opener I've got out there!

So needless to say, I think we're in the market for a new one. The bright side? American Home Shield covers garage door openers. Once again, that AHS home warranty is worth the 40 bucks a month I pay for it.

Naturally, the whole time I was doing this project, I couldn't help but think of Violet Newstead installing the garage door opener, yet Franklin Hart still refers to her as his "girl." Just more proof that nearly any situation in life can be satisfied by a quote from 9 to 5.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Gollum's sugar is raw

I don't know about anyone else, but we're getting TONS of mileage out of Madonna and "Candy Shop" and the "My sugar is raw!" line. Heidi still can't really stomach the song, but she does appreciate the campiness of Madonna whispering in her best Dita, "My sugar is raw!"

But you know, would someone PLEASE do a remix of "Candy Shop" that incorporates Gollum from The Two Towers. I mean, the song is begging for it. I can just hear it now..."dance, dance...stick, sticky and sweet...my sugar is raw" at which point Gollum is sampled over Madonna. With the stroke of a sample, Madonna's sugar is no longer just raw, but also wriggling!

I got a stern look over the glasses from Heidi when I suggested this, but she has since seen the light. Come on amateur remixers! Are you up to the challenge?

A compromise would surely help the situation

The other day I was driving my truck to Hy-Vee and, since I had forgotten my iPod, I did the unfathomable and turned on the radio. There are a handful of central Iowa radio stations that are pretty much variations on a theme, but the station that I tend to gravitate toward on those rare occasions that I listen to the radio is 100.3 The Bus. According to their web site, they "play anything." And they usually do! I remember the first time I ever heard the original version of "Train Train" (which Dolly had given the bluegrass treatment to on The Grass Is Blue) was on The Bus when I was working overnights about a year and a half ago.

Anyway, while I was driving I heard the 10cc song "The Things We Do For Love." I often say that music always takes me back in time. Hearing the song didn't take me back in time to when it was popular (I was Anna's age), but rather to the summer of 1995.

The summer of 1995 is the one that I frequently refer to as the summer of my discontent. It was the singularly worst summer of my life, bar none. I was 23 years old, just graduated from pharmacy school, headed to grad school in the fall, and stuck in a limbo for the entire summer. All my friends had left to start their lives as pharmacists, getting new cars, new clothes, new jobs. I was staying in Iowa City, ready to continue the poverty that was the pursuit of a higher education. And I underestimated the effect that would have on me. I was lonely, adrift and wasn't sure where I was headed.

Couple this with the fact that I had decided to continue living with one of my undergraduate roommates. During those years, there had been three of us: me, another guy and a girl. We were kind of the inverse of Three's Company. We were all pharmacy students although the girl was a year behind me and the other guy. He and I had a very odd relationship, mostly it was antagonistic and competitive, although at times he was really a good friend to me. The girl I had known since grade school although we had never been close. We made a pretty good trio for roommates. I wish I could say the same about when she and I decided to continue living together afterwards.

I won't go into all the details on the infinitessimal chance that she might stumble across my blog and recognize herself, and before your minds all head to the gutter, no, it wasn't like that. For whatever reason, we just didn't see eye to eye on a lot of stuff. In hindsight, I recognize that I was at least half to blame because I was in full avoidance mode. I didn't want to talk to her, I just wanted to wallow and be left alone. But she played her part well though, being very difficult and high-maintenance. Heidi will attest to her shrew-like behavior, as we were dating during the spring of 1996, just before my roommate left for Phoenix and my brother moved in with me.

Anyway, after a summer of dealing with my own personal demons and the demands of a Queen on her throne, I had just had it. My friend Kelly who I have also known since grade school (one of her first memories of me is in the 3rd grade when I was reading The Amityville Horror) came down to Iowa City one weekend in late July/early August quite on a whim. She called up Saturday morning and that afternoon, she was there. I had had a really trying week with my roommate who had been constantly ridiculing the choice of friends that I had managed to make over the summer (not many, but a few.) Once Kelly arrived, it played out like a scene from 9 to 5, when Violet has been passed over for the promotion and the office lush asks her where she's going and Violet says "I'm gonna get drunk!" Yuri, fill in the response here, you know you want to. ;)

What happened next, while not the stuff of legends, is burned into my mind. We went to the Airliner. We ate world-famous Airliner pizza. I drank entirely too much beer and proceeded to get very sloppy drunk. And I bitched. Non-stop. About my roommate, about the summer, about where I was going in my life because I wasn't sure that it was the direction I wanted to go in. She was a dutiful friend and listened without passing judgment. She recognized the vent for what it was -- a vent. It wasn't a call for her to solve my problem. It was me just wanting to be heard, after a summer where I felt like I was screaming and no one could hear me.

I thought of this event again today, for reasons I don't quite remember. But I realized, 13 years after the fact that I never really properly thanked Kelly for her friendship that weekend, when I really needed a friend. So I e-mailed her tonight. I haven't e-mailed her in ages, and it will likely come right out of left field, but she's used to that with me.

And what exactly does this have to do with 10cc?? (named after the volume of the average human male ejaculate! I had no idea!) Well, probably the next weekend one of the radio stations had an all 70s weekend. I made an entire 90-minute mix tape from taping off the radio that weekend. And "The Things We Do For Love" was the last song on the tape. I think it even got cut off.

Talk about a mix tape I wish I could find. I called it K-Billy's Super Sounds of the 70s, as I had just seen Reservoir Dogs for the first time. Yeah, real original Dan.

The weekend before classes started, I went to back to Carroll to a friend's wedding. And at that wedding, I caught the garter. I remember writing in my journal that I didn't expect anything to change despite the fact that the guy who catches the garter is the next to get married. But guess who showed up that November?

Ah pop songs, they are never as simple as they seem.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Why we feel

My wife has, once again, reduced me to complete and utter speechlessness as I marvel at her way with the written word. But it's not just that. In writing about why she and I are so supportive of gay rights, she has somehow managed to approximate my own feelings as well. It's harder for me to speak them than it is for her. God only knows why, but it is. Perhaps it's a guy thing, perhaps it's a trying to save face thing. Whatever it is, it's part of me, and there it is. As much as I try to push beyond the comfort zone that traditional masculinity has surrounded me in, I am and will always be male. I don't know that I am even capable of writing about such naked emotions in a public forum.

But seriously, read this post. Everybody. I am so seriously proud of her. There are days that we don't always see eye to eye, and I may never learn to pick up my dirty clothes and put them in the basket two inches away from where I dropped them, but damn, I'm the luckiest guy in the world to be married to someone who dares to feel like that.

We would all be wise to try to feel even 1% of that. It's a scary thing, this feeling thing. As Judd Hirsch's character said in Ordinary People, "one thing about feeling - don't always expect it to tickle."

And it so rarely does.

Just a page in my his-tor-y

Over the weekend, when I was cleaning out after the deluge of the Nerdery, I found a tape that I made eons ago. The title of said tape was "Late Spring 1994 Mix." It had the track listing all tidily written on the outside of the case and, not being one to miss an opportunity like this, I immediately made it into an iTunes playlist. Seriously, I'm all about iTunes playlists, it's one way to combat the choice fatigue that is part and parcel to having a 160GB iPod.

Last night, on my walk home from work, I decided to put that playlist on random and see how it sounds 14 years later. I only heard four of the songs, but I must say it holds up well. I can see that I needed a little bit of help on my mixing skills (two Madonna songs split up by only one song? The tragedy!), but still. Here's the four songs I heard last night.

Misled - Celine Dion
Oh Celine. I have such a love-hate relationship with this diva. When she's good, (the debut album, "Nothing Broken But My Heart", the Titanic song dance remix) she's very good, but when she is bad (most of that Let's Talk About Love album, "The Power Of Love") she's horrid. But I love "Misled." Heidi and I always used to laugh uproariously at the line "but when I've been dissed, I don't spend much time on what might have been." It has that great syncopated chorus and well, Celine with attitude is always fun (although that short cropped hairstyle was one of the WORST ideas ever.) I had no idea there was a video for it though!



Supermodel (You Better Work) - RuPaul
My college roommate Rick turned me on to this song and let me tell you, he is decidedly NOT the type to be into a RuPaul song (or perhaps he is, one never knows.) Anyway, we always got an inordinately large charge out of "Supermodel," that whole "Sashay! Shantay!" was great! I bought the remix single of it and there's a couple of remixes that up the camp ante just a bit (which I didn't think possible) by turning the demand "You better work!" into "You better work, bitch!" Sadly, this is not my favorite RuPaul moment, that would have to fall the the cameos in The Brady Bunch Movie and A Very Brady Sequel. Although I bet those would be trumped if I could see Zombie Prom in which Ru plays Miss Strict.



An Innocent Man - Billy Joel
I am not what you would categorize as a huge Billy Joel fan. I knew plenty of them in college and I, of course, went along with all of them to his 1990 concert at Hilton. But I really like the An Innocent Man album. I have no idea how this would fly with Billy Joel diehards, but you know what? Who cares? There is some great songwriting and production on this record, but none are as subtle and classy as the title track. I love his soaring vocals on the chorus, hitting a note that he just can't do these days.

And let me tell you, after looking for a companion video for this, I am SO glad that I have not been moved to see him in concert recently. Eek. So we'll just let this one go without one.

Queen of the Night - Whitney Houston
This is probably the only song from The Bodyguard that did not get played into the ground back in 1993. And consequently, it's the only one I can still listen to with any regularity. Despite the fact that it was not played mercilessly until our ears bled back then, it still takes me back to that spring instantly. If there's any diva that I wish could have a big Mimi-style comeback, it's Whitney. I just hate how she has descended into this circle of drug abuse and unhealthy living. She has a knockout voice, and it's sad to see it going to waste. Hopefully she'll be back with something fantastic soon.

The video quality is poor, but here it is. Only in an alternate universe could Whitney Houston win the Best Actress Oscar.



That's it. What a trip back in time. I must get ready for work.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Monkey brain

It's a new month. I have been drained physically and mentally over the last couple of weeks and because of that, I have decided that I am going to spend the month of June attempting to meditate daily. I know that sounds like a "what the hell kind of woo are you getting into now?" type thing to a lot of people, but if you had the Monkey Brain that I have, you would understand. My Monkey Brain just never stops moving from thought to thought to thought, swinging on the vines that make up my gray matter. This is really bothering me these days and Heidi, bless her heart, has been helping me to come up with things that may help shoot the curare-tipped dart in the butt of the monkey.

I realize that this is tantamount to coming onto a blog or whatever and saying "I am going to start an exercise regimen TODAY!" or "The diet starts TODAY!", only to find out that by day 5, you've stopped exercising and are having the fries for lunch again and you have to face the world with your failure. I'm prepared for that to happen. I have no idea how successful I will be. I figured that it is free to try and the worst thing that can happen is I fail and I'm certainly no stranger to that.

So you give it a shot and if what I start with doesn't work, we'll try something different. However, I'm pretty sure I won't end up in this kind of pose any time soon.

Ohm, shanti, indeed!

(although looking at that picture makes me pine for that Re-Invention Tour DVD that never was!!)