Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Very Best Of Cher: The Video Hits Collection

We got the DVD of The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection via Netflix the other day and now, it's all Anna wants to watch. I have to admit, the videos are pretty good. I'd forgotten how much fun videos used to be and Cher made some good ones. No, none of them are stellar like some of Madonna's videos are, but they are fun and cheesy and everything in between. I was especially surprised by the inclusion of the "Main Man" video which I think I saw all of once on MTV back when it was released. Cher complete with leg warmers. Hmmm. How good is that.

The one thing I had completely forgotten about was the omnipresence of the Rob Camilletti (a/k/a Bagel Boy) in the Cher videos. I wonder how he feels about being immortalized in all his 80s big-hairness by "I Found Someone", "We All Sleep Alone" and "Main Man"?

But perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the "Dove L'Amore" video which features a dance remix and Cher in her drag queen best. And the glittery eye shadow was just too much. I, of course, thought it rocked.

Anna's turning into a good 3rd generation Cher fan (after my mom and then me.) She was even trying to sing along to "A Song For The Lonely" which was just precious beyond words.

Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces

Ugh, today is my last day off before a 9 day stretch at work with no days off. And it was kind of a crappy day. It started with the news from a tree guy that the tree in our backyard is dying a slow death and really needs to come out. The likelihood that it will probably fall into the house if the right east wind comes along. Trouble is that the cost of getting rid of the tree is estimated at $1500. May as well be 15,000 at that. So then we take Anna to her dentist's appointment at 10AM which was good because she has no tooth decay (although she does have a slight open bite thanks to her continued use of the pacifier.) The bad thing was it took nearly an hour and a half for that whole thing to get over and done with. So by the time we got back from that, the morning was shot and I still hadn't gotten a shower.

We get home and Heidi announces that she's gonna go up and check her e-mail and deprogram for a little bit. Not five minutes later, I hear a rather urgent "Dan, I need your help RIGHT NOW!" I go upstairs to find that she's spilled iced tea on her laptop keyboard. After initially thinking that it was going to be okay, it is completely not working and has to be sent back to Toshiba for repair. Lord knows how much that will cost.

So I guess while I have that guy out there cutting down the tree in the back yard, I better have him plant a money tree as well. Because it looks like we're going to need it.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Is this the United States??

Bush Can Hold Citizens Without Charges

As my brother so uncouthly (and ironically, considering he married a Russian girl) said years ago, "Did I just wake up in Russia?"

"My Heaven"

...written by the incomparable Mary-Chapin Carpenter. And yeah, I haven't journaled or blogged song lyrics in forever and a day.
Nothing shatters, nothing breaks
Nothing hurts and nothing aches
We got ourselves on helluva place in my heaven.
Looking down at the world below,
A bunch of whining, fighting schmos
Up here, we got non of those, in my heaven.

There's pools and lakes and hills and mountains
Music, art and lighted fountains
Who needs bucks here, no one's counting
In my heaven.
No one works, we all just play
We pick the weather everyday
If you change your mind, that's ok, in my heaven.

Grandma's up here, grandpa too
In a condo with to-die-for views
There's presidents and movie stars,
You just come as you are.
No one's lost and no one's missing
No more partings, just hugs and kissing
And all these stars are just for wishing
In my heaven.

There's little white lights everywhere
You childhood dog in Dad's old chair.
And more memories than my heart can hold
When Eva's singing "Fields of Gold"

There's neighbors, theives and long lost lovers.
Villains, poets, kings and mothers
Up here we forgive each other, in my heaven.
For every soul that's down there waiting,
Holding on, still hesitating
We say a prayer of levitating in my heaven.
You can look back on your life and lot
But it can't matter what you're not
By the time you're here, we're all we've got
In my heaven.

The Lovely Bones

Just got done reading Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones on Saturday. It was a book that had grabbed my attention thanks to Mary Chapin Carpenter, of all things. She has a song on her new CD, Between Here and Gone, called "My Heaven" which by all accounts is inspired by The Lovely Bones. It paints this great picture of heaven from the eyes of the narrator--a heaven filled with all the things that she loved in life and what would have been a paradise had she had the option to create it on Earth. It's a gorgeous song in it's simplicity, mostly because MCC hardly ever overstates anything. But anyway, I picked up the book at the Ames library a couple weeks ago and it has a beginning you just can't stop reading. There were drops in the narrative toward the middle, but by the end, I was mostly just tired of hearing Susie Salmon be so self-involved. Plus when she was able to inhabit people a la The Exorcist I found myself just kind of sighing and waiting for the book to be over. It's too bad, because it could have been really good because Sebold is an excellent writer and is capable of telling a good story.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not sorry I read the book, but it just wasn't everything it could have been.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Jinkies Fred! It was actually tolerable!

Anna and I went to Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed this weekend at the dollar theater here in Ames. I have to admit that I wasn't all that excited about it because from what I was told about the first Scooby-Doo movie, it was pretty much bound to suck. But it was a 3 bucks for the two of us to get in (plus 7 bucks for popcorn and pop) and it was a night out with my daughter. Plus, she was all psyched about seeing "the big show" as she likes to call it.

And wouldn't you know it, the movie wasn't half bad. No, it's not high art or fine cinema or even especially good cheesy guilty pleasure type stuff, but it was passable entertainment that didn't bug me half as much as say Episode II: Attack of the Clones did. Freddy Prinze, Jr. did sleepwalk through most of the movie and sadly, Daphne was played by Buffy Summers played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. I'm afraid until SMG gets a little bit older, she'll have the Buffy typecast to deal with. Scooby was a pretty awful CG character, but the monsters were cool. There was Miner 49er, the 10,000 volt ghost, and some crazy scuba diver ghost that I never caught the name of but remember from the cartoons when I was a kid. To these, Anna would turn to me every now again and say "Ooh, that's a scary guy, Daddy!" and laugh uproariously.

But perhaps the best part of the movie were the times I caught her looking up at me lovingly or giving me these spontaneous hugs that told me, in her own Anna way, that she loved being at Scooby Doo with her dad.

Friday, June 25, 2004

39 degrees

Yep, it's 39 degrees on June 25th. Granted, it's 6 o'clock in the morning and we're headed for 75, but it's still surreal. I had to change to a long sleeved shirt this morning because the short sleeved one I had picked out was just too damn cold!

So I work today, and then I'm off for the weekend. This is so essential to my mental health, it's impossible for me to understate it. I feel better today than I did on Wednesday when I went to work. Wednesday was mostly just treading water until 3:30 rolled around and I could go home. I think I'll do better today but I guess that remains to be seen. I hate being so damn tired all the time but I'm not sure what to do with that, y'know?

I bought the new Heart CD, Jupiter's Darling, on iTunes last night with the gift certificate that Julie gave me for my birthday. I didn't even know that they had a new CD out!! From what I've heard so far, it sounds like pretty classic Heart. It's more 70s Heart than 80s Heart (i.e. relatively few power ballads and more guitar rock-ish) and that's great because Ann's voice is perfect for that kind of thing. I'll post more about it after I've had a chance to listen to it.

We're also going to Fahrenheit 9/11 tonight at the Varsity Theater here in Ames. We were thinking that we might have to drive to Des Moines to see it, which complicates child care tremendously, but having it here in town means we drop Anna off at Tim & Sally's and we're gone for a couple hours as opposed to the entire evening.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Father's Day

My only association with Father's Day is "IT'S FATHER'S DAY, BEDELIA!! Where's my cake?" OK, not my only association, but the one that I always think of whenever Father's Day rolls around.

And it figures--it's a zombie father.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Post-Madonna Post

(Note: This is the transcript of an e-mail I sent to a group. I don't have time to compose a brand new blog post. I'll maybe write more about it later bur as of now, I'm dead tired.)

A little bit light-hearted, but I just wanted to let everyone here know that I managed to make it to Washington, D.C. yesterday for Madonna's Re-Invention Tour. Yes, flying out of Iowa to D.C (via Detroit, which was only fitting) to go to a concert did border on insanity, but I figure it's not any different than people paying boatloads of money to go to sporting events all of the place. It was a quick trip--left on Monday, back early today and I think I'll probably be paying for it for days to come, but it was so worth it.

I can't get over how good she sounded and how much fun she seemed to be having. Whether she's faking liking her old songs or not I don't much care--if she is faking it, she's doing a good job of it. I went with my buddy Jeff who has been my partner-in-crime for all things Madonna for almost 20 years now. We went to Madonna's last tour in Chicago in 2001 (my wife was pregnant at the time and the dr. wouldn't allow her to go so she stayed back at the hotel.) This time, she stayed in Iowa with our 2 & 1/2 year old daughter.

All the hits were there--"Vogue", "Into The Groove", "Express Yourself", "Like A Prayer", "Crazy For You", "Material Girl"--such a welcome relief from the last time she toured. I told Jeff that it was totally worth every last cent just to be able to stand in an arena full of Madonna fans and scream (along with everyone else in the arena) "GET UP ON THE DANCE FLOOR!!" The crowd was electric and so excited to be there. A lot of the people that sat around us had been at the show the night before which just killed me because it wasn't like the seats were cheap.

A funny mix of people were there as well. The crowd was definitely an older crowd--meaning not many teenagers. But that's not too surprising as her fan base has aged right along with her. I commented to Jeff that this was probably one of the few places where you could see PTA style moms, grandmas, couples, gay guys, black, white, Asian, whatever. All linked by the common thread of they were there to see Madonna. It was kinda fun. And I'll tell ya one thing, the straight guys at the concert would be wise to follow the lead of the gay guys at the concert and just not think about who might be watching them and just cut loose. They looked like they were having so dang much fun!

The thing that always gets me about Madonna is that when you're listening to her music or watching her videos, you really forget what an excellent dancer she really is. And it showed in this concert. Singing (only a little bit of lip synching that I could tell--the Vogue rap and some of the more vocoder heavy songs like "Die Another Day" sounded a little bit too much like the CD) and dancing combined in a show so intricate and detailed that if anything got off by just a little bit, it could really screw things up. But she was also light hearted and engaged the audience and oddly human. During "Express Yourself" she's all "HELLO WASHINGTON, D.C.!" and then she starts singing to which she says "Oh shit! Boys and girls, do you believe in love? Cuz I got something to say about it." It was very endearing.

All in all, I loved the show. It was fun to spend time with my friend (although he's such an incredible extrovert and I'm actually quite introverted that sometimes he can be a bit tough to handle non-stop--he's *always* on.) and D.C. was not entirely unfamiliar so I felt comfortable there. Truth be told it was probably worth the extra money to fly there rather than having the hassle of driving into Chicago and parking at the United Center which is in a crappy part of the city.

If you've read this far, thanks for reading. It was the closest I'll ever get to seeing Madonna at the top of her game. She's not nearly as relevant as she used to be, but she still puts on one hell of a good show.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Once More With Feeling

We watched the all-singing, all-dancing episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer tonight. "Once More, With Feeling" is what it was called and it was a stitch. And surprisingly enough, it wasn't just a throwaway episode, but it also substantially advanced the story arc for the 6th season. It's all weird not having seen this season but having seen the 7th (and final) season. A lot of the things that kind of made you go "hmmmm" in season 7 now make a little bit more sense. And watching Willow go over to the dark side of magic is like watching an alcoholic unwittingly destroy their life and the lives of those around them.

So there's only tomorrow to work and the Jeff and I are off to D.C. to go to the Madonna show. I'm pretty excited, but I wish that I weren't so damn tired. I told Heidi this morning that I'm just sick of being tired all the time and she says not to discount the fact that I'm still learning my job. This in spite of the fact that they're going to let me work alone a week from tomorrow which has me pretty much scared shitless because I just know that I'm not going to be able to keep up with the workload. I mean, today was a prime example. If there hadn't been another pharmacist there today, I wouldn't have gotten to eat. Simple as that. And it sucks because I'm afraid of what I might miss in all the craziness that can be hospital work. It's not like I'm reading tarot cards or painting a house--people's lives really are at risk when I'm working. Not like I'm incompetent, but yet I am human nonetheless. If I screw up in a big enough way, that can directly impact someone's life--even to the point where they may no longer have a life. I always thought that at Washington when I was there, but here in Ames, it's even more relevant. I don't know if it's because people are sicker or if it's because we use higher powered drugs (I mean, please, like we were ever gonna use Natrecor at Washington) but it really bothers me sometimes. I try really hard to be accurate but you can't be so slow about it that you don't get anything done. And on the other hand, you can't be so fast that you're not accurate. So what's a guy to do?

I don't know--mostly I'm just feeling kind of overwhelmed these days so I thought I'd write it here into the void where I'm pretty sure it won't be read. It sucks to feel alone when you're some place new and could really use the external validation. A lot of the things that once were are no longer and who knows what the future holds. Mostly I'm just being cryptic, it's not as bad as it sounds. Thank goodness for Heidi and Anna. Without them, I'd be crazy.

On a lighter note, I went out and spent some money (birthday money) on some DVDs at Best Buy last night. I bought The Godfather (which I am so glad is available as a single disc and not just with The Godfather collector set--do I really need a DVD of The Godfather Part III?) and the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. I was funny, I started watching NotLD and it reminded me a lot of those TV shows that were on on Saturday nights on the local Fox affiliate (or independent channel--not sure if there was such a thing as Fox TV) like Freddy's Nightmares or Friday the 13th: The Series. I used to watch those shows all the time--and I remember thinking a lot about how everyone else was probably out partying while I was watching them. The production values were pretty low for the most part and sometimes the stories were lame, but all in all, you can't beat a good scary flick. But what I wouldn't give for those to come out on DVD. Instead of those, we're getting Punky Brewster. *sigh*

But perhaps the horror anthology show that gave me the biggest willies was Tales From the Darkside. I'm thinking especially of the Christmas episode with the Grither. Scared me half to death as a kid and now I'm thinking I'd *love* to see it again. :)

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Leaders Dead and Otherwise

I'm so tired of the whole Reagan thing. So the guy is dead. So freaking what? I mean, he was president, not God. And the thing is it's probably a blessing that he died. More than likely for the last five years or so he's been pooping in diapers and not able to remember any of his family members. What kind of life is that? Not much of one in my book. And everybody's going on and on about how great he was. I mean, he was a charismatic leader and all, but is he deserving of a National Day of Mourning? My friend Brian linked to a list of things to think about when you get to thinking Reagan was the greatest man to ever walk the face of the Earth. I'm sure you can come up with similar comments for just about any President, for after all, they are only human. I think Judson Frondorf over at Ack Ack Ack puts it best--"it's about as close as you can get to necrophilia without actually f***ing the corpse." Harsh? Sure. But this is a freaking circus. Call me callous or uncaring or whatever, but I've never seen such a fit thrown over a guy that lived for 93 years.

Personally, this has been my favorite take on the whole thing. A new Republican presidential/vice-presidential ticket for 2004.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Birthday ramblings...

I'm 32 years old today and it was a pretty good day. My mother-in-law got me a 15 dollar iTunes pre-paid card which is pretty fun to try to spend. I bought this cute little song that I heard at work while I was on hold one day--it's called "Rhode Island Is Famous For You" by Blossom Dearie. What a funny way to come across a song, but I remember writing "Rhode Island--famous for you" on my hand so that I could Google the lyrics when I got home. Only today did I remember to do that. So I'm down to $14.01 on my iTunes account.

I didn't do anything too spectacular today. Jeff came up tonight after I got off work and he, Heidi and I all grilled out. He watched the first two episodes of "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and is now hooked--so much so that he had to borrow the DVDs of the first season. Heidi and Anna bought me some new shirts which I was really needing for work. I don't have enough short sleeved shirts to wear and man, I get warm in long sleeves, especially when I walk to work. After supper we went out to Wal-Mart (for the first time since we moved to Ames) and looked for some stuff for Jeff's show this weekend. We ended up at Borders where I read the first chapter of The Lovely Bones while Anna ran around the children's department. I'm going to have to check that book out from the library or borrow it from Mary--it really had an intriguing beginning.

But for now, I'm reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers which is just freaking hysterical. This lady knows how to write a thoroughly enjoyable book about a subject that might not be too terribly engaging.

So another birthday come and gone. It's probably for the best anyway.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

I've walked to work the last three days and I'm really starting to like it. I don't know how much I'll like it once it's 98 degrees at 6:30 AM which I figure it'll do sometime next week, but for now, it's a good thing. I haven't started the car for two whole days! Even last night when I went out to Walgreens to get some stuff for Heidi, I rode my bike. I want to get to the point where I take the car as the last option, and with the price of gas as it is, that'd probably help us save a little bit of money. I've been taking my iPod with me while I walk and it's always interesting to see the mix of songs that comes up as I go to and from work. Tonight on the way home, I heard 4 songs:

+ Dave Matthews Band "Digging A Ditch"
+ Janet Jackson "Escapade (Shep's Housecapade Mix)"
+ Debbie Gibson "Between The Lines"

Quite the eclectic mix--not many songs as it's just about a 15-20 minute walk depending upon how fast I go.