Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Non sequitur

So – I’ve got a lot of things that I’ve been thinking about this week. There is absolutely NOTHING that ties them together – so I won’t try. Welcome to my non sequitur.

First – I live in a Pontiac town. I don’t know what that means, exactly. I mean – I know what it means. A lot of the cars that I see daily are Pontiacs. What I don’t know is what that means. I don’t really have a problem with Pontiacs. I think the front ends are pretty creepy…and I tend to free associate “Pontiac” with “child molester” in my mind. There’s no reasoning for that – just how it happens. Anyway – loads of Pontiacs around me.

Next – when did my yard turn into the frakking animal kingdom? I love animals – I really do. I love all the birds that have made nests around my house – they are loverly to wake up to each and every morning. I love the rabbits and squirrels that I see around my yard daily. What I don’t love – or don’t understand is the rabbit that is digging up my front yard to make a little burrow for her babies. Did she learn nothing from the duck and eggs that were eaten? My front yard is NOT safe! It’s a rabbit – big ears – surely it has heard me MOWING! I think the animals get a false sense of security from my dog. He barks to keep things away…but he cannot attack because he is behind a window? Or maybe they keep making these nests outside his window so that they can tease him. Regardless – bunnies – leave now. It’s not safe. I can avoid mowing for a few weeks while you grow – but I cannot protect you 24 hours a day, nor can my dog. ps – I hate you for digging up my yard…3 times.

Finally – so I’ve been working on my design for the Scottish play at IRT for next season. I am in the stage of super excited. This afternoon we had a fruitful design meeting. I’m working on the model and really eager to see it start heading to the stage. There is always a little bit of magic when I see it go from very little to full size.

One more thing – Indianapolis has been granted the Super Bowl for the year 2012. I had an interesting conversation with some co-workers about this phenomenon this morning. I feel like the NFL is really doing a great thing by allowing different cities to bid for the Super Bowl. Sure, ultimately there is a LOT of money made both by the NFL and players – but it actually does great things for the community. It brings all kinds of revenue to local businesses, it makes the city get its act together since it will be on display – and in the case of Indy it is bringing some great new sports/practice facilities to some local schools that are in desperate need. According to the local news it is this “Legacy Project” that sealed the bid for the NFL owners. So, I think it is a good thing. Sure 2012 is years away – but it is something to look forward to.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another year over…a new one just begun – but let’s just discuss last week-ish.

So last was a big week in these here parts. On Tuesday we had the opportunity to vote in the democratic primary. The race has been extremely tight this year between Sen. Barack Obama from Illinois and Sen. Hillary Clinton from New York. I do always take advantage of my right/duty to vote on these types of things. I try to do my own research so as not to get swayed be the barrage of commercials that flood in the days before the polls open. Yay for voting! So, for the first time in my lifetime, Indiana had a primary that counted. Unfortunately I fear that when it comes to the actual presidential election my vote will not count/matter. Thank you outdated Electoral College. Thank you “red” state.

In other news – for those of you that didn’t already know – I am designing at IRT in the fall. Janet Allen has given me the opportunity to design the Scottish Play, which she will be directing. I cannot even being to tell you how excited I am by this opportunity. Monday was scheduled to be the first design meeting, and rest assured I gathered all kinds of research and ideas. Unfortunately I also gathered some type of stomach virus and spent all of Sunday night and most of Monday morning prying myself away from (what felt like) certain death. Janet and the rest of the design team were gracious enough to let me attend the meeting by phone. It was certainly not ideal, but given the circumstances…

Anyway, I am feeling better now. I am still excited about the show (cursed as it is), and I will hopefully get the ball rolling in the rest of the meetings soon.

This week also marks the end of my second year teaching at Franklin College…and they’ve even invited me back for a third year. I don’t know how many people do this – but I frequently look back at “life plans and goals” that I’ve set for myself and see what I’ve actually accomplished. One thing that was not on my list – being a college professor. One thing that was on the list – design for IRT (working on that). Another one that was not on the list – getting married and then maintaining said marriage for nearly 8 years. That’s right – this June will be 8 years!!! It is almost unfathomable – in a good way.

I am continuing to work with iFanboy. I am shooting the promos (advertisements) as part of the weekly video podcast. I am also writing a weekly column for them. It comes out every Friday around 12:00 am EST. Fear not – you can read it in the morning when you wake up.

Beyond that things are mostly status quo here in sleepy town. We are continually hoping and waiting for more 30 somethings to move to Franklin. Clarity – 30 somethings that we want to hang out with. We’ve only lived here for 2 years, but there is the seeming start of a shift to a younger community here. Maybe by the time it is in full swing we’ll be old and people will hope that we shuffle to Florida or wherever old people go.

Cayuga is doing well. He turns five this month. Contrary to popular belief that does NOT equal 35 in dog years. The smaller the dog, the more “regular” the aging, unless you venture into the teacup variety. Thank you vet for filling me in. Anyway, that means that Cayuga is five and acting like he is five. He is still a ball of energy that loves to play and be rambunctious. We love him and spoil him…and certainly don’t help the situation. I guess that is our prerogative as his “parents.”

And finally – our house. Amy is eager to work on the bathrooms and the yards this summer. I am less eager, but I see her point. So hopefully I’ll knock down a wall and get the remodeling juices going again.

And there you have it – a self-indulgent update on my life. And – guess what? I can be self-indulgent because this is my blog. I’ll keep you posted if there’s more. Suckers.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mario Kart Wii - FINALLY!

After reading all sorts of previews, reviews and other general hype about this game I could not wait to get it in my hands. Not only was I looking forward to playing the game - but I was also GREATLY looking forward to silencing all the other opinions. I wanted to debunk all the crap. But before I get there, let me tell you my history with the game and why I was so excited to get it.

As many people know the game has a long history. It began in the early 90's with Super Mario Kart on the SNES. This game was fine, and certainly holds plenty of merit, but my true love affair with the series came with Mario Kart 64 for the N64. My roommate, Ron and I would play this (and GoldenEye) nonstop in our college dorm room. We even learned that if you pick a "heavy" player and crank the subwoofer way up, on certain jumps you can really shake the room. As soon as this was discovered it became, for us, the games only purpose. Late one weekday night our downstairs neighbors came upstairs and starting banging on our door…angrily. Apparently Bowser’s landings were not only making our room sake, but actually knocking things off the walls in their room. Oops.

We did become more careful with our hour to volume level ratio – but the game was a staple. We played it ALL. THE. TIME. Sadly, we have both grown up and moved apart. My wife sold my N64 along with the game, so I have been Kart-less for nearly 8 years. Kart-less, until now.

When it came to buying a new video game system, the prospects of this game pushed me to my final decision of a Wii. A decision which I do not regret at all. This game only solidifies my hopes.

I purchased the game and an extra wheel, so that anybody playing it at my house can use the wheel. Actually, I will make the rule that you have to use the wheel. And that brings me to my first point about the game. Much of the hype and many of the reviews talk about the different control options. One can use the wheel (comes with the game), the Wii-mote alone, Wii-mote and nunchuck, or either of the traditional controller options. I’ve read that if you want precision and tight races, use the controller options.

Precision? Tight races? WTF?!?! This is Mario Kart. You’re telling me that I can play with a steering wheel? A wheel that makes it even harder to control – thereby making it more fun? For goodness sake – I didn’t think that this game could get any better.

The wheel is AWESOME. It is absolutely the best thing that could have happened to this game. Now instead of having people mash buttons in an attempt to drive a “kart” around a track, you can look like a complete idiot while steering you “kart” off a cliff. And that is why the wheel is a mandatory rule in my house.

Now – what about the other improvements to the game? Well, to be honest I’ve only been able to play a little bit, so I know I still have plenty of work to do to really figure everything out. But, I can tell you about the second best thing to happen to this game – motorcycles. Sure, they tried this years ago with Diddy Kong Racing – there were no motorcycles, rather it was planes, karts and hovercrafts – but the idea of alternate vehicles were there. The problem was that Diddy Kong Racing sucked. The motorcycles (dirt bikes, scooters and racing bikes) are fantastic – and they are even HARDER to control with the wheel.

The other thing that I think can be potentially great with this game is the ability to race my old roomie Ron, and other friends that have the game. I know that people whine and moan about the “online” play that Nintendo offers – but I have no problem with it. It’s free and fairly easy to do. I have the option to play people I don’t know (bah) or play people I do know (yay). That’s all I really need.

I know that I still have plenty of exploring to do with this game, and I fully intend on doing that. However, I can say that if you have a Wii – and you want something fun – this is a good place to turn. Just remember – it’s fun. Don’t get to heady about it. Precision. Feh. It’s Mario Kart.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Life gets in the way of life.

This spring has been an interesting one for us. For many years and many houses Amy and I have had backyards. In the spring that leads to all sorts of birds moving in and making nests around the yard. I’ve always enjoyed it because (despite the bird poop) it is nice to hear the chirps and see the new life. But this year lines have been crossed.

For the most part the birds have always made their nests in the trees. We have AMPLE trees in our yard. Occasionally they would find some little sneaky spot on the house – and that was fine, too. Birds, for the most part, seem to be smart enough to steer clear of the areas that are high in human traffic. For the most part.

It started a few weeks ago when Amy was cleaning leaves out of the bushes in the front yard. She disturbed a duck that had made a nest under one of the bushes. I was working on something else when I heard the scream. I looked up to see a pale Amy running to me with a large duck flying behind her. You never really think about how big a duck is until it’s flying out you. Sure, it’s no goose – but it’s also not a robin. Anyway – we quickly got as far away as we could in hopes that mother duck would go back to the nest.

Eventually she did go back to her nest and her eight eggs. I formed a pretty good relationship with mother duck. I gave her plenty of space, and I tried to give her warning if I was going to have to get near. I did my best to let her know that I was no a threat. Eventually – about three weeks after discovery – mother duck was attacked in the night. I’m not sure what attacked, but there were a lot of feathers and eight broken eggs. Maybe it was a cat, or a raccoon – or the neighbor’s dog? I’ll never know. I just wish I could have done something to help.

For a while we were not using the garage – I mean we were using it, but not to park in. So we were not in a routine of opening and closing it daily. Well – that apparently encouraged a robin to make a nest on the light that hangs right next to the garage door. Normally, if I had caught it earlier, I might have “encouraged” that she build someplace else. But, alas, the nest is there. Every morning mother robin and I have our littler interchange – she flies to the yard, I get my bike out, reverse and repeat. I’m OK with it.

Well – now that we have increased the usage of our garage – the light above the front door has become home for a little sparrow (which does not make as tidy a nest as a robin). Again, it was not caught in time that I felt I could encourage a “move.” So, the sparrow and the robin have conquered the front of our house. If you come to visit you will most likely be greeted with a chirp and a flyby.

It’s the backyard where things have gone awry. Last summer a robin made a nest in the downspout of our gutter when we did not get rain for a period of time. I thwarted all those efforts this year with some screen and gutter covers. A family of starlings attempted (every year) a nest in our soffit – but I finally got something that they couldn’t get through this year. Go me! The starlings have since relegated themselves to a knot in one of our trees.

The problem is/was with a sparrow couple. One night while sitting on the patio I noticed – or thought I noticed a sparrow fly into my dryer vent. I decided the next day to inspect and it appeared that it would be virtually impossible for this to have happened. See – under the hood there’s a metal flap that seals the vent from the outside world. How could a bird possibly open that? How could it open with nest making materials? There’s no way there were any birds in there.

Well – guess what? When I did laundry on Sunday I learned that there were birds in there. The kindling – or “nest” as the sparrows call it – did not catch on fire, fortunately. A lot of it blew out the vent – and the rest I pulled out. And I felt AWFUL while doing it. We needed to do laundry – but I certainly did want to be a home wrecker. Since Sunday the sparrows have been hanging around a lot. I cannot decide if they are just pissed at me – or if they are scheming about getting back in. Either way it pains me to think about it.

Well – if only that were the only bad bird decision. There is a robin that is trying to build a nest on my outdoor speaker control. Sure I don’t use the speakers EVERYDAY, but frequently enough that a nest would be burdensome. Not that I am blaming the robin – she’s picked a spot that is well protected. So, each morning and afternoon I have been trying to take down the random twigs and strings that have been brought over…and as soon as I do it they are back.

*sigh

It wouldn’t be so annoying if there weren’t a plethora of trees in our backyard – but there is a plethora of trees. Actually – I’m not sure what a “plethora” is – but we have like six large trees in our yard. Of those I can confirm one bird family living in one tree. So – I’m no ornithologist, but it would seem that there is plenty of room. I understand that we (people) have completely destroyed nature and we need find ways to coexist – but this house has been here for over 40 years without these issues.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

This is getting out of hand!

So - I know that my theory was silly. What are the chances that I can cause an earthquake by NOT watching TV at night? About ZERO!

Yes, it was odd that it happened twice, but I wasn't really taking myself seriously.

Well - I decided not to watch TV on Friday night...and guess what? Don't believe me - here's the NY Times article...

www.nytimes.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Waste not, want not. Happy Earth Day!

So I was watching Oprah the other day (thanks DVR) – and the subject was about families that create great amounts of personal waste. Waste in all forms – garbage, power, food, consumerism, etc. The show was obviously produced to encourage other “average” Americans to evaluate their living standards and see what they can do to cut back on excessive waste. I went into it thinking that the families that were picked were going to be extreme cases – but as the show went on we learned that, in fact, they are pretty average.

In one case a family of five was creating 4 entirely different dinners. Now, in theory I have no real problem with this – if they were making the meals individual sizes. But, instead the mother was cooking and entire box of pasta for her son – and throwing out the rest. An entire box (I just checked) is 7 servings. First of all – why cook it all – and if you do – why throw it out? The family then goes to the grocery store and buys it all over again. This was just the tip of the iceberg – they cranked the heat up to 82, they left all sorts of lights and devices on. It was fantastically ridiculous. To their credit – they also thought it was ridiculous and they did make enormous improvements in their lifestyle.

Another family that was spotlighted was dealing with similar issues – but the thing that stuck out the most with the second family was the amount of time they let their five-year-old play video games. He played roughly 3-5 hours a day. A DAY! This family also made dramatic changes for the better after living through an experiment that involved giving things up/trying not to waste so much.

As vain and as superficial as I might be about myself – in most circumstances I try not to judge. Certainly in the case of my students (where it is my job to judge their work) I judge but I try to be constructive about it – and I try to stay on task (don’t believe a word that my co-workers say to the contrary). Looking at these families, in my heart of hearts I know that they need to just work through their issues and I should not condemn them. However, we are sharing the same planet and dipping from the same resource pool. If these families represent a “normal” slice of America, it’s no wonder we’re screwed as a nation and as a planet.

I will make no claims that we are perfect in our house – as a matter of fact I can list things that we need to be better about. That being said – I feel like all the good things that I do are just negated by the “everyday” actions of those around me. This is where I get on my high horse – so if you don’t want to read, stop now.

Let’s start with the actual house. There are only two of us (and a little white dog) so we don’t need a lot of room. That being said, in the event that we start a family, there is plenty of room in this house to do so – at roughly 1800 square feet, three bedrooms and two bathrooms, there is more than ample space. The house is also an older home. It was built in the early 60’s. We looked at a few new and newer homes – but when push comes to shove – isn’t it better to use what is already there? The materials that we have used to fix this house and make it not only livable, but also attractive are far fewer than what it would take to make an all new house. Additionally, all of our appliances are “energy star” and most of our utilities are as well. The improvements to be made there are with the type of water heater and water softener that we have. So – once we can afford to change those and/or something goes wrong with the ones we have – we will. I’d also love to convert the house to at least partial solar power – but I feel like there is still a lot of other work before I drop the expense on that.

Inside the house we have some halogen lights – so those use halogen bulbs. However, in most places we try to use CFLs. Sure, they’re not perfect with their mercury lined interiors – but they are certainly more efficient than a regular incandescent, and the color is good now. Ideally, LED technology will be all figured out within a year – but that stuff is not really fully available to the consumer market.

We use cloth napkins and wash EVERYTHING in COLD/COLD on the washer. It works the same, folks. We recycle everything that we can – although our curbside has recently changed what all they pick up (now they take less). Still, we produce approximately one kitchen size bag of trash every other week. We do NOT compost, but we don’t really have anything to compost. Most of our food is eaten the first time or as leftovers.

Neither of us smokes or has a Starbucks habit – so we aren’t producing a lot of consumer waste that way. I tend to eat out for lunch once, maybe twice a week – but again – I am careful to recycle what I can from those meals (bottles, etc).

The question is, does it matter? When a majority of the people around me are so cavalier about these things, does it matter what I do? At my place of employment I frequently see people throwing away recyclables – not even things that are hard to recycle – they are throwing away bottles and cans. Does the school need more bins? Would it matter – it seems to happen that way even if the trash can is next to the recycle bin. While I appreciate that you are not littering – I’d almost rather have you throw you trash on the ground so that I don’t have to dig through the rubbish bin after you to save your recycling.

I routinely see all sorts of lights and equipment left on. And, while I realize that there are safety codes for buildings, is there any reason that they have to look like shopping centers at night? Why are there so many emergency lights? The problems that I see are not limited to students – they are just as prevalent in the faculty and staff. That means that some of my colleagues aren’t even trying to set an example – unless the example is “how to kill the planet.”

I would like to reiterate that I do not do everything perfectly. I still have plenty of room to grow – and I push myself everyday. These past few weeks we have been purging our lives and trying to remove things that are overcomplicating and crowding our home and lifestyle. I know that the little things add up – but I feel like we need big change.

How long do we passively do this? I don’t want to be a jerk and get in faces – but somebody has to, right? Otherwise our entire nation will continue to deplete all our resources and seemingly not care. Or at least not care until it is too late. We can ban smoking – but we cannot ban SUVs? We can enforce all sorts of laws (some ridiculous) – but we cannot get people to recycle? It’s just dumb.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What the?

So - no TV last night.

Earthquake - AGAIN!

I think I will be watching TV before somebody gets hurt.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earthquakes...and their causes.

So, normally Amy and I watch TV when we go to bed. We set the sleep timer and doze off to some mindless drivel. The other day I decided to just go to sleep. No TV. Break the routine a little.

At 5:30 am there was an earthquake in Illinois that we felt here. Coincidence?

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Finally!

We moved into this house in June of 2006. My "office/studio" has always been in a state of disrepair. As a matter of fact - the room has been a veritable dumping ground for "things that we don't know what to do with."

Not anymore. This week we painted, bought new furniture, cleaned, organized and got this room into working condition. And lest you think "that's all you did all week?" No, we also cleaned garage, the yard, the Mazda and prepared for a HUGE garage sale. If you need a couch, futon, TV, entertainment center, etc. etc. - let me know.

Anyway - here are pictures of the office...and me looking cheesy in it. The ONLY thing that is left is the paneled wall behind the desk. We weren't sure what we wanted to do. We have now decided to leave the shelves dark, and we are going to paint the wall some accent color - to work with the yellow/green wash. Once I pick that color - we'll get on it.

Yay for finally getting something done. Tomorrow I'm going to hang the outdoor lights and mount speakers in the office.

ps - yes, I have a turquoise case for my Macbook...and I'm OK with that.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Making the Switch...

On Monday I made the switch from PC to Mac. I won’t say that I am quitting PC cold turkey – I mean I still have the computer and I still have very necessary programs on it that I currently cannot afford to put on my Mac yet. Not to mention, I am still using a PC a work…

But after a few days with the Mac I have some thoughts. The first and most obvious is – why didn’t I do this sooner? Seriously? I bought a Macbook Pro and at time of purchase it was similar in power/memory to be HP. Granted all the little bits inside are newer and it does have a better processor – but it was still similar. After purchasing I opted to upgrade the RAM myself rather than have Apple charge me nearly $400 to do it. For me the main goal was to be able to run the programs that I usually run and not crash the damn thing all the time.

The ease at which I have done things so far is incredible. Putting in the RAM was “stupid easy” just as my friend Leon described. Beyond that, all the software that I have installed has been an absolute dream. I am not a novice with computers – so this was not a HUGE deal – rather it is more a matter of convenience…and I am lazy, so that is good. Also – it does not come loaded with all that crap AOL, adware, etc. etc. So I did not waste hours deleting that shit. I turned it on and it worked. Hell, it worked in less than a minute…I turned it on and it was booted and ready (my trusty PC is up to 15 minutes before I can do anything). I didn’t know something like that was even possible. Why don’t people tell me these things?

There is also a certain sex appeal to the Mac…and I’m not too proud to admit that I buy into that. I have an iPhone – I love my iPhone because it is great for me – and it looks good. I’m just that vain. This Macbook Pro is the same thing. It just looks and feels nice. The keys are soft, but reactive – they are also very smooth and quiet. The machine is the same way. It just feels slick – not slippery slick – sex slick. And it is not loaded up with crap. PCs are nice enough to have a sticker for everything – Processor, XP, speaker brand, etc. This is the keys, the trackpad, the power button and speakers. It’s like something out of a movie…it almost looks generic. I do love Apple and the simple approach to design.

I haven’t done any “real” tests yet – but they are coming. So far though, I can just say that this computer “feels” good. And if you don’t know what that means, tough. The next step is to figure out AutoCAD on this thing…that will allow me to do sexy drafting.

Update – I did just purchase a hard plastic turquoise cover so as to prevent scratches…it is still sexy and now in turquoise.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back by popular demand...

Yes, I am once again watching DWTS. I was going to skip my predictions this year because…well…to be honest I wanted to quit while I was ahead. I have been fairly successful for the past few seasons and you just hate to mess that up. It’s always better to go out on top, right?

Unfortunately for me (fortunately for you) a number have emailed asking why I haven’t done my predictions yet. Well, dear readers, for you I’ll do just about anything. So – before the result show tonight but after seeing the first two (three) nights of dancing – here they are.
Before I start I should note that I did indeed go to the live show this past year as a birthday gift from Amy. It was awesome. Also – I have heard the rumors about Cheryl and Drew. I will make no comment on that...it’s their business.

So – in no particular order – the dancers (and their partners):

Penn Jillette and Kym Johnson – poor Penn. He is huge. Absolutely huge. He is like the size of Dr. Frankenstein’s creature. Kym is tiny…in case you’ve never seen her. I worry that the size issue is going to be a problem for them. Penn is certainly excited to be on the show and I think that he will work hard, I just don’t think it will last for more than a few weeks. He is too awkward. This makes me feel awful for Kym who, after winning in Australia, has been cursed with “bad” celebrities in America.

Steve Guttenberg and Anna Trebunskaya – hurm…Steve Guttenberg, eh? Police Academy, Three Men and a Baby, Short Circuit – at least he is finally doing something worth while. This should be (I hope) quick. Most people smile when they are dancing, but not Steve. Steve counts, forcefully.

Jason Taylor and Edyta Sliwinska – so this is new (in case you haven’t heard the promos) – an NFL player that is actually an active player. Although I think that some people are willing to argue that the Dolphins are not really active. Anyway, he and Edyta seem to click and I think he has potential to do well, although I don’t think he will do nearly as well as Emmitt or Jerry (Rice). When do football teams start preseason?

Cristian de la Fuente and Cheryl Burke – who? Whatever. He’s OK. I don’t know who he is. Cheryl is clearly the celebrity here. Go Cheryl. I don’t see them in the finals…but they might hang on for a few weeks.

Adam Carolla and Julianne Hough – I love Julianne. Adam Carolla is a funny man with perhaps one of the most annoying voices. This pairing is a little creepy to me. Adam is sort of like a dirty old man. Julianne is a beautiful young woman. Draw your own conclusions. Anyway, the dancing, sorry Julianne. This will be over soon. No three-peat victory for you. I think that the producers did this to you on purpose. I just hope we get to see you for a while. Maybe Apollo or Helio will come back for a cameo (beyond just watching).

Mario and Karina Smirnoff – final three. I have no idea who he is, but he is a good dancer, good smile and seems to be willing to work hard. We already know that Karina is super competitive and does well with people named Mario. I think that the will do very well.

Shannon Elizabeth and Derek Hough – please go. I am tired of seeing Shannon on the poker circuit – I don’t think that she acts anymore, right? Derek, Derek, Derek. For as much as I love your sister, I cannot stand you. Sorry. I bet that you are probably a really nice guy, and the judges say that you are a great choreographer – but you bug me. This pair is middle of the road. Shannon will continue to work hard, but I don’t think they have the connection and “couple charisma” to win.

Marlee Matlin and Fabian Sanchez – I will not make any deaf jokes. As for people with disabilities – I appreciate that they can be on the show. Unfortunately I do not think they can win. That is not to say that Marlee is not a good actress, because she is. I think she is probably a good dancer, too. I just think that to win she needs to hear the music That being said – I’m not a dancer, so I really have no idea.

Priscilla Presley and Louis van Amstel – Louis came out of “retirement” for this…and I would probably do the same thing. Priscilla is a legend. She is actually a pretty good dancer, too. She is the oldest competitor in the history of the show. I really was pleasantly surprised with her Fox Trot in the first week. I think that she will pretty well. She’s not going to win, or make it to the finals…but she will have a strong showing.

Marissa Jaret Winokur and Tony Dovonlani – I think that the will do OK. Tony is a great teacher and Marissa has great stage presence. Marissa also seems to be having loads of fun. So I think they will make it far into the competition.

Monica Seles and Jonathon Roberts – sadly I think that Jonathon is also a great teacher – but Monica just cannot cut it. She is certainly competitive and fit enough, but she doesn’t appear to have the grace or the fan base compared to some of the other celebrities. I don’t think they will make it very far.

Kristi Yamaguchi and Mark Ballas – this ouple is top three as well. By my count I have two couples in the top three. It is clear that Kristi is leaps and bounds ahead of the other dancers. Her skating must have done something right. Her only big drawback to winning this season is her partner. I know it is not his first season…but he still seems so green.

So there you have it. Those are my thoughts for this season of DWTS. Tom and Samantha are their usual selves as are the judges. I did no watch the spinoff show, but fortunately it did not seem to spike Bruno and Carrie Anne’s egos past what they already were.

I am hoping for plenty of Kenny Mayne and Jimmy Kimmel this season.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BEST. BLOG. EVER.

First - I should say that I write a weekly column for iFanboy. It can be seen each and every Friday. That is (perhaps) while this blog has been so sparse recently.

Second - today the funniest/saddest thing happened to me. However, my editor has deemed it inappropriate for the blogosphere. Sorry. It was really fucking good, too.

Maybe when something "tamer" happens I can put it out into the public eye.

ps - don't bother asking, either.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

...and a lack of real spice in your life...

July 4, 1998 – I sat in the 10th row for the Spice Girls concert at Darien Like in Buffalo, NY. I drove nearly four hours to get there and most of that was through severe weather. As a matter of fact we were concerned that the concert might be canceled because the weather was so bad. Fortunately the weather gods eventually sided with us and the concert happened. I was there with my friend Patrick and we were surrounded by thousands of screaming 10 year olds – and their parents. And yes…Geri Halliwell (aka Ginger Spice) bailed on that tour – dropping out of the Spice Girls just before they came to America.

February 15, 2008 – Amy, my sister and I went to see the Spice Girls on the backside of their 2nd world tour at the United Center in Chicago. With Victoria leaving Spice (and the majority have kids) this will be the last time all 5 girls perform together. My ticket was nearly double the price this time. Normally that would concern me because to live up to a $130 ticket ($75 last time) – it better be a good show.

So – how was the show? Spice-tastic! Spice-errific! Spice-gasmic. The show was absolutely incredible. I should go ahead and preface with all of you that are not fans of Spice – they are amazing entertainers. That is VERY different than musicians, at least in my book. A nice and simple introduction to the Spice Girls would be to watch “Spice World” – the movie that they released in 1997. It certainly incorporates their music, but much like Beatles movie, you get an interesting glimpse into their individual personality and humor.

Translate that to a live show. It is not a concert, it is a performance. The scenery was amazing. The set was a simple runway with a playing area on each end, loads of traps and some levels towards the back (which included the band). The set was actually quite reminiscent of the productions of Chicago we did at FC last year. I thinking about suing…anyway, the design also included these gigantic monitors that moved and danced almost as fluidly as the girls. They went up, down, split, forward, backward and they had AMAZING resolution. Very impressive. If you’ve been on the internet – you’ve probably heard about the costumes that were used for the show. Spice Girls partnered with designer Roberto Cavalli and marketed through Victoria’s Secret. Well – they were fun and exciting.

The show was scheduled to start at 8. In my head I figured they would be on about an hour and that we would be strolling out of the United Center by 9:30. Well, they actually started by 8:30 (shocked me) and played until almost 10:15. Wow! And they were high energy the entire time. There were some breaks for costume changes, etc., but we were entertained my amazing backup dancers.

They opened with Spice Up Your Life and closed with a Wannabe/SUYL medley that were both sung over the Humpty Dance bass line…sadly I don’t think a lot of the audience really knew the Humpty Dance, and that was surprising.

The two awkward moments in the show involved the Mels. At one point Scary (Mel B) strapped a male audience member to her “machine” and simulated sexual acts with him. Shortly after that, Mel C was severely groped (almost inappropriately) by one of the backup dancers. I guess they were making the point that they have grown up. The sweetest moment was when Scary, Baby and Posh’s kids all came out during Momma I Love You. It was oddly touching – and something that I presume hasn’t happened in every show. But maybe they have…I will just pretend that we were special-er.

I am waffling about talking about the rest of the audience. I don’t want to come off as rude, or insensitive. I guess I will just say that being surrounded by this group was an experience. It was very different than the show 10 years ago. In all aspects it was different. Better. So – maybe I’ve said too much. If you want to know more, you know where to find me.

People of the world…
(now you say – “Spice Up Your Life”).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lots of things to talk about…little motivation to talk about them.

First things first – I recently turned 30. I am still deciding whether that is a big deal or not. If you had asked me when I was in my teens – I would have said that 30 was OLD. Maybe even really old. However, actually being 30 doesn’t seem that crazy. As a matter of fact – I just spent the last 45 minutes playing Guitar Hero 3 on the Wii. I guess that saying is true – “you are only as old as you act.” Of course, my lovely students still remind me daily that I am indeed OLD when I make some reference and they have no idea what I am talking about.

*sigh

Anyway, Amy got me tickets to Dancing with the Stars (the tour) for my birthday. We were in the 2nd row. It was incredibly exciting to be there in person. I will say that had we been sitting in the nosebleeds it probably would not have been as enjoyable. But we weren’t and it was amazing!

The next day Ronald came to visit – and apparently I had a surprise party that night. The plan was to go duckpin bowling – which we did. However we did it with 25 other people. Looking back there were many clues that I let slide – but when push comes to shove – I was surprised. It actually really pisses me off that I was surprised (I am slipping in my age) – but the party was loads of fun.

We rounded out the weekend by taking the Wii to my parents’ house. I’ve never seen my mom laugh so hard. Not that I need to be a commercial for the Wii – but it is pretty great. In a lot of ways it is the great equalizer. People who are not adept at button pushing still have a chance, people who play a lot can still be evenly matched, etc.

Since then my winter term class is over and second semester has started. I am fairly excited about the classes I am teaching this semester – and I am VERY excited not to have an overload.

In other news I went to a healer the other night. For those of you that don’t know (and I have no idea who reads this) I have been sick for the past 9-ish years. I like to call it my personal plague. Anyway, I have seen many doctors, many specialists, taken many medicines all to no avail. So I go to this Native American healer and have a seat in her kitchen. She puts her hand on my knee (knowing absolutely nothing about me – not even why I am there) and proceeds to rattle off every symptom and problem that I have. I will refrain from getting personal on this blog – but let me just say that she got everything dead on. It was amazing. She also gave me some ideas on how to fix my sickness – sans medications.

I am still in shock and amazement at the way that she was able to know so much about me without asking. She just simply put her hand on my knee and started talking. I was not skeptical going in. As a matter of fact – since no doctor has been able to help me – I figured I had nothing to lose by seeing a healer. (side note – healers don’t charge – it’s their calling). So I was willing to listen and hope for the best. I was not at all prepared for the experience that I had. But this really isn’t the forum to talk about it.

And that is my life right now. Not terribly exciting – but I am OK with this pace for a few days. And I think it is safe to say that things will pick up soon. Like next week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What? I have a blog?

Where have I been? That’s a good question – and in fact I wish I could give some fantastic and exotic answer. Like – “Oh, I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging, I’ve been saving merpeople in Atlantis,” or “yeah – I’ve been working with gorillas in the African jungle.” But the fact is I don’t have a great answer like that.

I’ve been busy. I know – we are all busy. I’m not busier or more special than anybody else. We are all busy and nobody has time to do things like “blog.” So here I am forcing myself to write this update so that maybe I can get back on a schedule.

Since my last blog I have opened and closed Oliver! Actually – I think the day after I wrote my last blog I headed off to Bloomington and stayed there until the show opened right before Christmas. It was a lot of work, that show. Some might even say too much work. In the end it was a successful show. Although I need to strongly rethink whether I do any more holiday shows.

After that I was neck deep in all the family holiday hoopla – and that seems to never stop. I love my family – I really do. But I have a breaking point – and there is only SO much time I can spend with them – especially when trying to split that time between two families. But, I survived the holidays, just as I survived Oliver! so it must not have been as bad as I thought.

This year is my first time winter term. That means that I started working again on January 3, teaching freshman about Graphic Novels. It is an interesting and exciting concept for a course – we are looking at 5 books and the movies that were made based on the books. We are also examining the influence that comics are starting to have on Pop Culture – a point that we can argue if you wish.

Anyway – I just recently went to Milwaukee with some of my theatre students for the American College Theatre Festival (ACTF). Let me tell you something – Milwaukee is a great city…in the summer. Milwaukee in January is pretty much on the bottom of my list. I mean – it’s not THAT bad – but it is cold. And (according to Britnee, my waitress at Yaffa) all that people do it drink until it’s warm again. That might be the way to go for some people – but that’s not how I roll. Next year ACTF is in Saginaw – a city I fear will be worse than Milwaukee in January. w00t!

Next week is my birthday. Ron is coming into town. Should be an exciting time…assuming he’s not too swamped with work stuff!!! He’s also going to work with my class on Monday (yes I have to teach on MLK day). That’s how FC rolls.

So, that’s all you get for now. I apologize for this blog being so dry and boring. I cannot promise anything – but I will try to make it better for next time. Enjoy the rest of your week!