Wednesday, August 31, 2005


This hurricane aftermath is really starting to get to me. What a tragedy. I have a friend who lives in New Orleans, and although he was not there when the storm hit, I'm sure that his house is a total loss. And he's one of the lucky ones - he has family that can support him and that he can live with until he figures out what he's going to do. A lot of those people lost everything and have nowhere to turn to. It just goes to show how puny we really are. Whether you attribute this to Mother Nature or God or chance, this is one of those things that shows us that we are not the ones driving the bus.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Glory That Was Rome?

I watched the first episode of the new HBO series 'Rome' last night. My initial reaction was that it was OK and that I think I need to see more before making a decision. It's a little tough to jump into a show with this many characters and get your bearings. The last sequences of this first show did do a good job of setting up the conflict that will propel the show through the rest of the season.

Not that I'm a historian or anything, but the well-groomed pubes of some of the female characters seemed a bit anachronistic. I mean, if people weren't shaving their privates in the 1970's do you really think they would have in 52 B.C.? Although, after thinking about this I have to admit that most Roman men seem to have been clean shaven based on statues and coinage from the era, so what the hell do I know? Damn, I think about some weird shit.

Speaking of weird, on Friday I saw another lady driving one of those damn carts in a fairly congested parking lot. What the hell is wrong with these people? Don't they know how dangerous and annoying this is!? At least this one was not hooked up to an oxygen tank. These people would make excellent candidates for the Darwin Awards, unfortunately most of them are old enough to have already spread their seed far and wide.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Weekend

Well, I didn't get my wish for a relaxing weekend. Maybe I'm getting used to it, but being busy this weekend didn't seem to bother me me as much as it did the last two. Maybe because it is still better than being at work! And by the way, to all you moms, I don't know how you do it. I'm sure my 'busy' weekend would be like a weekend at Club Med for someone who has young children. My hat is off to you!

On Friday I went shopping for some new shirts after work. Seeing as how I usually don't make it past the first date, I haven't needed to upgrade my wardrobe in a while. I thought this would be a 20 minute experience, but it turned into more like an hour and fifteen minutes. Then it was home to mow the lawn!

On Saturday morning I went to see a movie called 'The Aristocrats'. Holy shit this was a funny movie. It's a documentary about a joke that all comedians know called The Aristocrats. The joke is basically an excuse to improvise heavily in a very crude fashion, and they interviewed many, many people who gave their interpretations of it. This movie is extremely crude, even more so than The 40 Year Old Virgin. In fact they gave me a warning to that effect as I bought my ticket and then told me that if I bought a ticket I couldn't get a refund if I found it offensive and walked out. Shit, that made me want to see it even more. An elderly couple snuck in about halfway through the film. They didn't last 10 minutes before walking out. Awesome!

Saturday afternoon was date #3 with Mabel. We meet at the tea equivalent of Starbuck's (Mabel doesn't like coffee), and chatted for a couple of hours and then had dinner. I think things are progressing pretty well. I was informed that I was neither irritating nor boring (facts my readers may dispute). She seems receptive to the idea of going out again. She had a very rough week with the start of school plus a bad week at work with lots of drama (been there too).

Apparently Mabel likes to say shocking things in a very matter of fact tone so that you think she's being serious. After informing her that I keep track of my DVD collection on a website, a fact that apparently she finds very dorky, she informed me that we could no longer go out as anything other than just friends. I think I must have turned an ashen color at that point. She came back to this several times. I have to admit she is pretty good at this bluffing thing. Now, as the date was winding down, I was getting increasingly nervous about how I could go about kissing her and also how I was unable to come up with a better alternative to her going home to study (which she hadn't done much of this week). So I was acting kind of freaked out, and I think she thought I was freaked out about her 'friends' statement. She did say right before she got in her car to drive off "You do know that I'm kidding, right?" Anyway, I was not able to seal the kissing deal so to speak, so it was hug time again. She did initiate it this time though. I will have to do a better job of planning a date that will end with a proper kissing atmosphere...

Today was pretty busy with a visit to Luke's Locker for running shoes. That was place was insanely crowded, but I did end up with a pair of shoes that felt pretty good, I can't wait to try them out. I also went to this coffeehouse that I had read about in the paper last week. It's a locally owned mom and pop type place where they roast the coffee beans in house. The owner was very friendly and helped me pick out a half pound to take home. He gave me a sample of the one that I ended up buying. I told him that I had seen the newspaper article, and he said that their business has doubled since that article.

So I guess that's it for the weekend, tomorrow it's back to hell!

p.s. More media enabling of my love of coffee!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Yin and Yang

After the high of hearing back from Mabel yesterday, I experienced the exact opposite later in the day. I got to have a sit down with my boss and her boss whereby basically they told me that I have a month to get my shit straight or start packing. All of this started back in April when I received a shitty performance review. Admittedly, I probably deserved it. I have been at my job for 10 years, it's getting pretty old, and I think I am burned out big-time. I also hate my boss' boss, and I'm not a very good actor. If I dislike someone they can usually tell. This guy is just a smarmy, phony asshole.

So after the review in April, I got pretty worried and busted ass pretty good there for about a month. My followup review a month later was very good. I guess I got a little complacent again, but I do have to say that this latest one snuck up on me somewhat. I have not heard any negative feedback from anyone recently. I guess I'm supposed to be a fucking mindreader. I'm being told that there are other managers that are displeased with my performance, including one that I sit right next to. I had asked for a separate meeting with this guy to ask what he would like to see from me, but the meeting never materialized. I took this as a sign that maybe he wasn't all that bothered, but maybe that was wrong.

I can't help escape the feeling that in some way this whole thing is related to the fact that I'm not a warm, fuzzy people person. And I am in no way a good bullshitter. I have a hard time pretending to like people I don't like, and supporting ideas and policies that I think are crap. The guy that hired me 10 years ago left the company last year, and I think a layer of protection for me left at the same time. I don't feel that my personality really blends with the people who are there now. Of course, I am about the only person left from 10 years ago, so maybe that should tell me that it's time to move on. I guess I have been too scared of the uncertainty that would bring to do anything about it.

I have to say that my feelings this morning were pure, unmitigated rage. I felt like my boss stabbed me in the back by not saying anything negative to me or giving me a heads up and then springing this shitstorm on me all of a sudden. I didn't even want to look at my boss for the first few hours of work this morning, so I was getting the feeling that this wasn't going to end well. I accept a lot of the blame for this situation, but I still get the feeling that maybe they're just using this as a way to get rid of me. I was pretty freaked out last night, I didn't sleep worth a shit. I kept trying to think of a good backup job that I could easily get (to no avail), and then I started freaking out about health insurance. I worked my ass off today, and I have to say that tonight I feel a lot better. I'm not sure if it's because now I think I can pull this off, or because I'm resigned that whatever happens, happens.

I think it would be wise to start looking for other opportunities, to get a fresh start, but continue to work hard in the meantime. It would be so stupid to throw this job away, it allows me to support myself, put away some savings, and live pretty well. And at least I am not supporting a family, it's just me. However, I know I am not working at a job that I consider to be a calling. I really envy the people that love their jobs, that's worth a lot more than money. My problem is that I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't know what I would do if I could do anything I wanted, so I guess I better start doing some serious thinking and try to figure it out.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Good News

Good news on the Mabel front – she’s agreed to a third date this weekend. I guess I’m finally doing something right for a change when it comes to dating. Mabel has been somewhat incommunicado lately, but she has an excuse. She is starting work on a Master’s degree and school just started this week, and she is also still working at her current job. I was worried that this might give her a good excuse to not want to go out this weekend, so I’m pretty happy right now. Woo-hoo!

Weak In The Knees

This is the third week since I started running an extra mile when I run, and I have hit a little bit of a snag. I have some pain in one of my knees and one of my toes – I’m thinking I need some new shoes. I think I need some professional help, so I’m planning to go to Luke’s Locker this weekend. Apparently they have a setup where you run on this treadmill and they watch how you run and then give you advice on the best type of shoe for your running style. Not sure if this is all BS or not, but it’s worth a shot. Other than the pain I have been pleased with the extra mileage, I’ve dropped about 4 pounds since I started. I can’t remember the last time I actually lost weight.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm Melting

I am really ready for the hot weather to be gone. I’m not sure why, but for some reason this year the heat seems to be bothering me a lot more than it usually does. Maybe it is because last year was pretty mild by comparison (I think we only hit 100 once last summer). You would think I would be used to it, I grew up in the Dallas area, but no. The thing that really gets me is when you walk outside at 6 in the morning it still feels like a sauna - it never really cools off at night here. I can’t wait to be able to run outside again.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Last Six Feet Under Redux

I have a few more things that I would like to say about the Six Feet Under finale. For starters I would like to say a few (or not so few) words about Ted. When Ted first appeared I didn’t like Ted. He seemed kind of like a smarmy lawyer who was just trying to nail all the women in the office. When I found out Ted was a Republican spewing the party line on the war in Iraq, I hated Ted. You see, I pretty much agree with Claire’s take on that whole mess. I wanted Claire to dump that guy now, dammit. But then a very interesting thing happened.

It really came to the forefront when Nate died that Ted is a good guy. He stayed with Claire at the hospital all night. I started thinking, "Hey, this Ted guy’s politics may suck, but maybe he’s not so bad." In the episode with Nate’s funeral, the scenes where Claire and Ted were driving around showed this even more. It seemed that Ted really cared about Claire and was a really good listener. And in the episode where Claire has her huge drunken freakout and totally goes off on Ted, I felt bad for the guy. By the end of the series I realized that I really liked Ted.

I think this was a very clever thing that the writers did here. In this day and age where there is so much division and animosity between people on opposite sides of the political spectrum, it’s easy to fall into the trap of judging someone by their political views. And I have to admit that I have been guilty of this myself. But the way that I grew to like Ted is making me really think about the fact that life isn’t so black and white, and that initial impressions can be wrong. I also see a nice tie-in with the movie ‘American Beauty’ which was also written by Alan Ball (creator of SFU). The tagline for that movie was ‘Look Closer’, and I realized that I had to look closer at Ted to see that he was a good person. I know it’s kind of weird to write so much about a secondary character, but this was something that really stood out to me.

Some other things that stood out:
  • The conversation between Ruth and Claire where Claire says that she will stay after all and Ruth talks her out of it. How Ruth doesn’t want Claire to make the same mistakes she did. And wasn’t it freaky how much Claire looked like Ruth in the ending sequences as she gets older?
  • The dichotomy between the Nate that Brenda saw and the one that Claire saw was very interesting.
  • How David saw Keith in the guy playing football right before he keels over. And by the way, I thought it was interesting that either Anthony or Durrell (not sure which) apparently turns out to be gay.
  • What in the heck was going on with Brenda and Billy when Brenda died?
  • I thought it was cool that Claire replaced the Deathmobile with a Prius, but she probably won't have much use for it in NYC.
  • Claire lives to be 102!


Why, Lord, Why?

Does the world really need chicken fries?

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Last Six Feet Under

Holy shit. I just got done watching the last episode of Six Feet Under and I have to say that I thought it was pretty awesome. I don't think I could have asked for a better ending. I have to get up early tomorrow so I don't think I'm going to be able to say everything that I want to say about this final show tonight, but I want to say a few things. Don't read this if you don't want spoilers.

My heart was in my throat when the screen went to white right after the baby was born and her name flashed on the screen. Some other parts that were great: The conversation between Nate and Claire - "I was afraid all my life and look where it got me". Ted. Ruth and Brenda on the stairs. "We're family". The toast to Nate. And the ending. That ending hit me like a ton of bricks. I'll say it - I cried like a baby all during that last sequence. It was so hard to watch but it was so perfect for this show. And it freaked me out a little about how my joke prediction about the end of the show was kind of right on, from a certain point of view. Wow indeed.


I Don't Know Sheet

The new mattress is settling in nicely. After a little bit of back pain the first 2 nights it’s been clear sailing since then. However, my new mattress is quite a bit thicker than my old one, so I had to buy some new sheets. Up until recently I never really knew just how fancy sheets could be. I grew up on and purchased for myself the run of the mill (ha) cotton/polyester blends that sell for about $30 for a set. Which suited me just me fine. Felt OK, easy to care for, yada, yada, yada. I had no idea what a thread count was. Well, I guess due to all of the reading that I do I saw a couple of articles about high dollar sheets with humungous thread counts. So, I decided that since I needed new sheets I would try out something a little fancier than usual for me.

So yesterday I hit my favorite store for that kind of thing (Target) and came away with something advertised as a ‘luxury sheet set’ that cost $70. The claimed thread count was 400. Now from what I understand it’s hard to go by the thread count because different manufacturers will count it differently in an effort to jack up the thread count. Some people count only vertical threads, some count vertical and horizontal, etc. In any case, I have to say that these sheets are pretty damn awesome. They feel great! I never knew what I was missing. Now, I know that I have just dipped my toe into the pool of quality sheets, but to be honest I’m not sure I want anything fancier than these. What if I like the fancier ones even better? I really don’t think I want to spend $200 on a set of sheets.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Busy Weekend

Due to reasons beyond my control I was not able to watch the Six Feet Under finale tonight, so I'll have to wait until tomorrow. Grr...

For the second weekend in a row I had an uncharacteristically busy weekend. On Saturday morning I saw the movie 'Broken Flowers', which I enjoyed a lot. It is another good Bill Murray performance in the vein of 'Lost In Translation'. It is definitely not for people who want their story gift-wrapped and served on a silver platter - there is a lot of ambiguity in this film. Good stuff, though.

Saturday night I had a rare outing with some friends. These friends are usually pretty lame and never want to go out, so this was kind of cool. We were trying to decide where to go and I threw out Tipperary Inn since I wanted to try their food. They bought it! I definitely wanted to get my drink on this time. For food I ordered the fish and chips (yeah, I know they're French fries, but what the hell). A couple of people ordered the 'bangers and mash' which looked pretty good. For those who don't know 'bangers' are sausage. There was a good 'Arrested Development' tie-in there where I got to say "Do you want a banger in the mouth?" in the Mrs. Featherbottom voice, so that was kind of cool. I started out with a lighter beer but then switched to Guinness. At around 8 a band started to play. It was 3 old Irish guys with a fiddle, a banjo, and a guitar. They handed out a songbook and people were encouraged to sing along with the songs. I thought it was kind of funny that on the front of the songbook it says you can hire these guys to play weddings, wakes, parties, bar mitvahs, and circumcisions. I tried to rock the Irish accent but I think it came out sounding more Australian. Mrs. Featherbottom put in another cameo too. Maybe it was the beer, but I can't remember the last time I felt as happy as I did on the way home last night. I've learned not to analyze things too much when I feel good, to just enjoy it, so that's what I did. I think it's good for the soul to get a little pissed (drunk) every once in a while and bark at the moon.

Today there was the movie (which I like more the more I think about it) and then shopping for some new sheets, and then a meeting that I had to go to. I'm hoping at least one day next weekend can be a lazy one!

Great Movie

Well, I saw 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' today and I was not disappointed. This movie is extremely funny. It is also extremely raunchy. In this day and age when a lot of entertainment has been sanitized to some extent because someone thinks they know what's best for you, a movie like this that doesn't pull any punches is like a breath of fresh air. I've seen a lot of press about 'Wedding Crashers' that said the same thing, but to me that movie was entirely too predictable. With this movie, although you know what will happen at the end, the journey is a lot more fun.

Another thing that bothered me about 'Wedding Crashers' was how the main characters seemed way older than their love interests. In FYOV the love interest is actually age appropriate for the main character, which was kind of refreshing to see for a change. One thing about this movie that was well done is that they really make you like the main character. Yes, a lot of the fun is had at his expense, but there is also some heart at the core of this film but they don't allow it to get too sickly-sweet. I really like the way the Dallas Observer review summed it up: "It's a dick joke with heart." True dat.

As far as the Mabel situation this was a fairly low-key date. We basically just met up and watched the movie. I had planned for us to go eat afterward, but Mabel said that she has some kind of stomach issue that is making her not feel hungry. She seemed to enjoy the movie quite a bit. You've got to like a girl that can laugh at the phrase: 'shit-stained balls'. No kiss this time as we said our goodbyes in the sweltering parking lot of the movie theater. The atmosphere didn't really seem to lend itself to a kiss, so just another hug.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Another TV Recommendation

Tonight Fox is showing a TV show that I highly recommend – Arrested Development. This show is hilarious. I’m not sure if the uninitiated can just jump right in and enjoy this, but it’s worth a shot. To some extent you have watch the shows in order and it really helps to know the characters, but there’s still a lot to enjoy. I had watched and enjoyed season 1 and then I bought the DVD set when it came out. It had been a while since I had watched the show and after the first couple of episodes I was thinking "Well, this is OK…", but I have to say that about 5 episodes in, I was totally back on board. There’s definitely a quality to this show where it just builds upon the jokes of previous shows until you end up with some really nice payoffs. The shows that are on tonight are reruns from season 2. The first one tonight is one of my favorites from season 2 – "Motherboy XXX"! The one that leads off the second hour is the one with Franklin the hand puppet and Tobias as "Mrs. Featherbottom". Folks, it just doesn't get any better than this. Check it out!


The Grass Police

A couple of days ago I got this postcard in the mail from my friendly neighborhood Homeowners Association saying that I needed to clear the grass from my flowerbeds. My initial reaction was "Who the hell do those SOBs think they are! This is Texas dammit!" Upon further reflection, however, I realized I can’t really complain on this one. First of all, they were right. I did have a lot of grass in my flowerbeds. And secondly, I signed a piece of paper before I moved into my house saying that I would abide by all of the HOA rules (there are a bunch of them), and this one is in there, so how can I complain? I guess I'm growing up. Tear.

Danger In The Bathroom

This post will not be as gross as the title suggests, so relax. For about the last week or so at work, the set of restrooms nearest to my office have been closed. The strange part is that they have cordoned them off with some scary looking red tape that says ‘DANGER’. It's like a crime scene or something. I can’t imagine what’s going on in there that’s so dangerous. Something about that just really struck me as funny, though.

The Story of My Life?

OK, here’s a mainstream movie I may have to see. I didn’t really know what to expect from ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, but it’s actually getting good reviews. It’s written and directed by the guy that created the ‘Freaks and Geeks’ television show, which I really enjoyed. He also created the TV show ‘Undeclared’, which I heard is good but have never seen. It stars Steve Carrell from ‘The Daily Show’ and the American version of ‘The Office’, who I think is pretty funny. Incidentally he was also in the film ‘Anchorman’, which I thought was not funny, but this new movie looks much better. One of the film critics that I really trust (because I frequently agree with him) wrote a glowing review, and checking out metacritic reveals a score of 71.

Man, I just hope this doesn’t hit too close to home for me. I guess I’m not 40 yet, and I’m not a virgin, but it’s been so long since I’ve had sex that I think I’m a ‘re-virgin’. So if you see the guy crying as he leaves the theater - that’s me!

UPDATE: Date #2 with Mabel has been booked and we are going to see this movie! I guess I'll have to hold in the tears. Now I know what you're thinking. This could be a terrible movie to take a date to, especially early on. However, based on what I know of Mabel, I think this is a perfect choice.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Watch The Office!

Mabel clued me in to the fact that NBC is airing four episodes of their show "The Office" tonight. If you haven't seen this show, it's worth checking out. I was a little worried about it before it aired because I was a big fan of the original British version. The pilot episode has some similarities with the original version, but after that they did totally new stories. So, I guess it's kind of like a cousin to the original or something. In any case they did an excellent job of converting the humor to fit American tastes. I guess you could say they went from 'humour' to 'humor'. OK, bad joke. There were only six episodes done for season 1, and it got terrible ratings, but amazingly enough they renewed it for the upcoming television season. So, now's your chance to catch up on the first season. Also, for the Netflix inclined, they just released a DVD set of this first season yesterday.

In a side note, the creators of the original British 'Office' have a new show called 'Extras' that will be premiering on HBO on September 25th. I will definitely be checking that out.


Trouble in Mattress City?

The past 2 nights on my new mattress have been a mixed bag. My neck feels just fine now, but my back has been hurting a little when I wake up. I didn't pay much attention the first night because I thought it was just me trying to get used to the new mattress. Hopefully that's what it is and maybe it will just take me a week or two to adjust. My back hasn't been hurting very badly, and it goes away pretty quickly after I get up and walk around for a few minutes. I really don't want to have to mess with returning it...

Another thing I forgot to mention about the mattress was that the guy that sold it to me told me that I wouldn't have to rotate it. It is designed not to have to be flipped over, which is good and I think most mattresses are built this way now. But I specifically asked him if it would need to be rotated and he said no. However, the little booklet that came with the mattress says that it should be rotated every 2 weeks for the first 6 months! After that they recommend rotating it every 2 to 3 months! That sure does sound excessive. It would seem like if they could build one that didn't need to be flipped that they could build one that didn't need to be rotated either. I'll bet it's just the mattress company covering their butts and making it impossible to try and make a warranty claim.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Mattress Man

About a month and a half ago I noticed that when I woke up in the morning I had terrible neck pain. At first I chalked it up to my pillow, so I switched to my Tempur-pedic pillow to see if that would help. I normally prefer a much larger pillow, but the Tempur-pedic is lower to the bed so I thought it would help. And it did until about a week ago. It finally dawned on me last week that my mattress is almost nine years old, and that I probably needed a new one.

I am a total Consumer Reports nerd, and they just had an article about buying a new mattress a couple of months ago. I have just about every issue going back about 5 years (I told you I was nerd! I've actually got a few going back even earlier but I did throw out some of the really old ones last year), so I found the article so I would be prepared. Well, apparently mattresses are different than a lot of the items they test. Basically the article boiled down to the fact that most modern mattresses from known brands are equally well-constructed, so the main consideration is how it feels to you. And it is also hard to comparison shop because the manufacturer will make the same mattress for different retailers and call it something different at each store. CR recommends that you lay on a mattress for 15 minutes (!) if you want to get a feel for how the mattress will perform for you long-term.

So, going into the weekend I knew I would be doing some mattress shopping at some point. Saturday was already booked, so I guess it would be more accurate to say that I knew I would be mattress shopping on Sunday. I had a couple of issues that made me want to get the mattress as soon as possible. On Saturday I had some pretty bad neck pain, and also due to my anxiety-filled personality, ever since I figured out that I needed a new mattress I haven't been able to sleep worth a damn! Well, I ended up making 3 stops - Sears, Sleep Experts, and Mattress Giant. I thought that this might actually be something that would take a couple of days, but by 5PM I had settled on one from Mattress Giant. They delivered it today. I can't wait to really try it out - I can't remember the last time I have been this excited about going to sleep! I will probably have to buy some new sheets too since this mattress is a bit thicker than my old one, but I need some new sheets anyway.

UPDATE: So far so good, my neck feels pretty good after the first night.

The Penultimate Six Feet Under

Well, I have to say that last night's episode didn't do too much for me. Part of that may be that I had a lot on my mind - I felt kind of like David on the show with the spacing out. I zoned out a couple of times and I was trying to cook dinner and pick up a little around the living room while the show was on - probably not the best environment to really concentrate. I was still trying to come down off a very busy day and I wasn't really able to put myself in a quiet enough headspace.

Claire's freakout was very uncomfortable, and not really in any kind of good way. I felt so bad for Ted after how he's been there so much for Claire. And I am glad that the Brenda and Billy scene turned out to be a dream, that was just the ickiest thing ever. I so hoped that they weren't going there. And didn't Brenda look a little big to be seven months along? She looked like she was about to pop. It's kind of interesting to see Nate pop up in different people's heads. He acts a little differently with each person, I guess because it's really them imagining him. I was kind of sad to see the deathmobile go, but somehow it seems appropriate (maybe because the show is ending, duh). It looks like Ruth is back to making her happiness dependent upon others with the way that she looked at George when he said they could raise Maya, I guess she will never change. Overall, the show seemed to be back to a lot of the bickering that was going on earlier in the season - I guess I'm a little tired of that. I do hope that everything turns out OK with the baby, I think we've had enough bad things happen for one series.

They are showing a retrospective about the series tonight. I am interested to see it, but I don't think it will be anything earth shattering. I think it will be like one of the extras on the DVD set that you watch once and then never watch again.

UPDATE: I enjoyed the special, and it made me realize how much I miss the characters of Arthur and Nikolai.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Big Date with the Big Fixup

Sorry to keep my reader waiting!

I guess I will describe the events of the date and then I will maybe list some good and bad 'bullet points'.

The actual logistics of the date were entirely left to me. I can be kind of indecisive sometimes (I'm sure that doesn't help me with the ladies any), so this was a point of some stress for me as I tried to decide where we should go. The parameters were that 'hanging out' somewhere followed by dinner would be the preferred course of action. This was all I had to work with! In the end, I settled upon a trip to the Nasher Sculpture Center followed by dinner. I like art museums and I hadn't been to the Nasher before. I chose Celebration as the dinner destination despite my dislike of the name due to the fact that I have been there before and they have pretty non-offensive food for just about any taste. I have to say that it felt good to be so decisive, so I might have to do that more often. I thought it would be good to ride together to the museum, so we met at the restaurant at 2:30. My date, who shall henceforth be known as Mabel, arrived just seconds before I did. After the introductory handshake (which was OK seeing as how we haven't been conversing for very long), we were off to the museum.

I was pretty nervous before my date, but Mabel put me at ease quickly because she is very easy to talk to. We had a good conversation on the way to the museum. I paid the way for both of us to get into the museum. I guess some people feel like a first date should be split by the parties money-wise, I feel like the guy should pay, but sometimes you have to just wing it. To me, if the woman insists on paying for half of everything, it makes me feel like she's not that interested, and that's her way of assuaging her guilt about potentially leading on this guy she doesn't like. Of course, to some people it may just seem polite. By the same token, I wouldn't want a woman to feel like I'm expecting some kind of payback for my generosity (because I don't). So, sometimes you have to just go with the flow. The museum itself was very nice, but it isn't very big. It only took us about an hour and 10 minutes to check out the whole thing. They have an indoor gallery and an outdoor garden as well. We started inside and then made our way to the outside portion. It was pretty damn hot outside! I would like to visit again sometime when the weather turns nicer. The highlight of the garden is a large outdoor sculpture that you actually get inside. There is a high walled room inside with an opening that looks out onto the open sky with benches that you sit on that angle your view up towards the opening when you lean back. Mabel liked this room quite a bit, as did I. If it hadn't been so hot outside we might have stayed here for awhile. After seeing a few more things inside, the last stop was the gift shop. Mabel surprised me by buying me a post card with a picture of a sculpture that I had commented on earlier. Aww. I was so flabbergasted that I did not execute a reciprocal purchase. So we ended up leaving the museum about 4 PM. I knew that they closed at 5, so I had identified the gap between leaving the museum and a reasonable dinner hour to be a potential issue.

So, it looked like we had about an hour to kill. I decided that it might be nice to go get a beer somewhere, so after driving around for a little bit I struck on the idea of going to the Tipperary Inn. This turned out to be a good choice. Mabel ordered an Ace Pear Cider and I got a Newcastle Ale. I had not been in the Tipperary before. I had tried to go one time a couple of years ago, but it was closed for renovation at the time. I had read about it, though. It is set up to be like a traditional Irish pub, complete with Irish bartender. It's pretty cool, and it wasn't very crowded at 4:20 in the afternoon. Now, apparently Mabel is pretty much a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and she hadn't eaten anything all day, so I think she was feeling pretty good by the end of the pear cider. Mabel insisted on paying for the drinks. I protested a couple of times, but she wouldn't take no for an answer. We finished our drinks and then headed to the restaurant.

We got to the restaurant at about 5:35, so it wasn't too crowded. We decided to eat inside since it was still a bit hot outside. We had our meal, and then paid the check at about 6:40 according to the receipt. I insisted on paying for the meal. I had one more beer with dinner, but Mabel just had a diet Coke. She says that she sobered up about halfway through the meal. The conversation seemed pretty good. We then became the kind of customers that restaurants (and other diners) must hate - we sat there talking for 3 more hours without ordering any more drinks or anything. It was kind of funny to see the table next to us cycle through about 3 times. If we kept anyone waiting for a table - Sorry!

As we said our goodbyes, it didn't seem like this was going to be a kiss-type situation. Maybe I'm just a wuss. But I am somewhat introverted, as is Mabel, so I had to settle for a hug which I initiated. Unfortunately it was somewhat of the 'ass out' variety. Mabel did mention without my prompting that we should get together again (hopefully not just empty words). So, to me it seemed like a success, but I am a notoriously bad judge of these things. From my standpoint I have to say that I really like her, and I hope we can go out again. We seem to be very similar in a lot of our viewpoints on life and our personalities.

The Good:
* Mabel seemed happy with my choices of date activities
* The postcard at the museum
* Mabel said that the blind dates she has been on have been disasters, and she told me that this one was not a disaster (could mean it's not great either, though!)
* The date lasted 7 hours

The Bad:
* Mabel said that it might not be a good thing for people who are too similar to date (i.e. if you're both indecisive, how will you ever decide what to do?). She also mentioned this to me on the phone on Wednesday toward the end of our conversation.
* The 'ass-out' hug

Friday, August 12, 2005


Sometimes you see things that just make you think "What the hell?"

Today at lunch as I was leaving the gas station, I saw an overweight woman hooked up to an oxygen tank riding one of those motorized carts (like people sometimes use at the grocery store or Wal Mart) down one lane of a busy two lane road. I guess she either really needed to get out of the house or really needed a cigarette. Either way, I don't think those things are street legal. I felt like I was in a Fellini movie or something.

Now this doesn't classify as weird, but it also happened at lunch so I will put it here. I had one of my life lessons, admittedly a minor one, reinforced for me today: When you order food at the drive-through, ALWAYS CHECK THE ORDER! I go to Wendy's quite a bit on the one day that I usually eat out for lunch because I can get a side salad with the combo instead of fries (french fries have kind of skeeved me out since I saw 'Super Size Me'). I prefer the fat free French dressing, but when I opened my bag o' food later I saw the dreaded ranch dressing (I don't mind ranch but I do mind 23 grams of fat in one serving!). I didn't check the order...I guess I always feel like I'm holding everybody up if I take the time to check it before driving off. I think I will be checking more from now on...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Big Fix Up

In a first for me, one of my female friends is 'fixing me up' with one of her friends. It looks like our first date will be Saturday. I talked to this girl on the phone last night and we had a great conversation, we talked for about 2 hours. I think we have a lot in common, and I'm pretty excited about meeting her. That said, I'm trying to keep my expectations low.

One thing I've definitely learned with my misadventures in the online dating world (more on that later) is that all bets are off until you meet in person. I always insist on seeing a picture of someone first (call me shallow if you want), and I make my picture available to others as well. But I've found that that is apparently not a good indicator. And I have to say that I have been on the wrong end of that equation a lot more than the other way around. I've met people online before that I seemed to have tons of things in common with, they saw my picture, I saw their picture, we talked on the phone for hours, we went out on our first date - and then I never hear from them again (and no I don't wait for them to contact me, this is them not replying if I call or e-mail them). I guess that's what chemistry is all about.

I guess it's a little perplexing to me because I think my picture is an accurate representation of what I look like. Maybe it's just that I've had 33 years to adjust to looking at my ugly mug, and I'm glossing over the imperfections. So, this is why I can't get too excited about my date on Saturday yet.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Monday Grab Bag

You just couldn't resist, America, could you? You went and made 'Dukes of Hazzard' a big hit this weekend. I weep for our future...

Speaking of weeping, I would like to comment on this week's 'Six Feet Under'. Again, if you haven't seen the last 2 episodes - CATCH UP ALREADY DAMN IT! Or stop reading now (as if anyone is reading anyway...). Now, I am on record as supporting the death of Mr. Nathaniel Fisher, Jr. But allow me to say that I found yesterday's show pretty difficult to watch. The scenes with Claire, Brenda vs. Maggie, and graveside were pretty heavy shit. I am kind of starting to miss Nate...even though he did make an appearance from BEYOND THE GRAVE! Well, it should be interesting to see how they're going to wrap this thing up in the final 2 shows...

I have been running for exercise for several years now. I have been pretty locked in to my 4 miles, three days a week program for most of that time. I feel like now it's time to push myself, even if just a little, and I'm now attempting to run 5 miles when I run. Not exactly earth-shattering, I know, but you've got to start somewhere...


Sunday, August 07, 2005

Tax-Free Free Weekend

This weekend in Texas is what's known as tax free weekend. Certain items, mostly clothes and shoes and other 'back to school' items can be bought without paying the 8.25% sales tax. I guess this might be helpful if you have children who needs lots of stuff for going back to school, but for the childless and mall-phobic, such as myself, it means DON'T GO ANYWHERE NEAR A MALL! I passed the outlet stores in Allen yesterday on my way home from the movies, and there was a line of cars all the way up the exit ramp back on to the highway. I can't even imagine what Stonebriar Mall in Frisco has been like this weekend. Not to mention that they just got an IKEA store in Frisco, which I understand has been really snarling traffic. Not that I need an excuse to stay away from Frisco. There's something about that place that kind of creeps me out...

The movie that I saw yesterday was War of the Worlds. I can envision the phone call that got the ball for this movie rolling:
Steven Spielberg (SS): Hello?
Big Shot Movie Executive (BSME): Hi Steven, it's me _____. Listen babe, do you think maybe you can do a terrorism allegory where lots of stuff blows up real good? Only don't make it as crappy as 'The Village'...And can you throw in a cute kid?
SS: Well, you know, I've been looking for a project to do with Tom Cruise...
BSME: Great, we'll throw in a 'tension between a father and son' angle, that's a requirement in all of his movies, right?
SS: Yep.
BSME: The check is in the mail...

Seriously, though, I thought this was a pretty good movie, although it doesn't really break much new ground. You can definitely view it through a prism of drawing a parallel between the aliens and terrorists, but it doesn't have to be taken that way. If you do view it that way, though, it makes me wonder how the ending is interpreted...

Six Feet Way Under

Once again if you haven't seen last week's episode of 6FU, please don't read this if you don't want spoilers...

OK, so now that Six Feet Under has gone off and killed a major character, here's my prediction about how they will end the series. Everyone dies! David is killed by crazy Durrell with a steak knife. Ruth is killed by crazy George for ratting him out to his new fiancee. Claire is killed by crazy co-worker who thinks she is dating Claire's lawyer boyfriend. Rico is killed by crazy Vanessa who is tired of hearing him whine. Brenda is killed by crazy Brenda. And Keith and crazy Billy die when Billy shows up at Claire's funeral and they get in a shovel fight and kill each other. Maya gets to live I guess. And yes, I am kidding, but it really makes you think, doesn't it...?


Friday, August 05, 2005

The Dookie of Hazzard

Holy shit. This new Dukes of Hazzard movie looks like a steaming pile of monkey dung. I would write a review, but until someone comes up with the $1000 it would take to get me to see it, I'm not going near this thing. Seriously, I don't think I would see this even if someone offered me $500. My soul has to be worth something...

Now, I am someone who thought that the original show sucked too, but I don't think it would have made any difference in this case. I guess it just proves the old adage 'You can't polish a turd'. I am right in the original Dukes fan wheelhouse too, I'm 33 and I had tons of friends who watched it religiously, but I always thought it was stupid. And I guess I was too young to think of Daisy Duke as some type of sex object.

I like to think of movies as an art form, but it seems to me that there are 2 kinds of movies in the world. Those that aspire to something artistic, and those that exist just to make money. I guess Dukes is a textbook example of the movie industry trying to cater to their best customers, teenage males. And this movie has car chases and a chick in a bikini, so there you have it.

Now lest you think I am some kind of movie snob asshole (as opposed to just an asshole), I have to come down off my high-horse and admit that I like some junk movies too. After all, I own 'Dumb and Dumber' and 'Napoleon Dynamite'. But this Dukes movie looks like true garbage. And by the way, are any of these television show to movie conversions ever any good? I remember being entertained by the first Brady Bunch movie because it was so snarky, but I can't remember any good ones since then, and that was 10 years ago.

For the most entertainment you will get from this movie, check out this review in the Dallas Observer. Funny stuff.

It's also worthwhile to check out They give movies a numerical ranking on a 100 point scale based on reviews in major media outlets. They give Dukes a 33, which is B.A.D. My favorite review headline is from the Wall Street Journal (unfortunately), which declares: "YEEEEE HAAAAW! They've gone and done it. The feature version of The Dukes Of Hazzard turns a sow's ear into a bigger sow's ear. " Check out metacritic here.

Oh, and just as a side note, my favorite review headline of all time came from the Dallas Observer, which said about the 'film' 'Hope Floats': "Hope Floats Like a Baby Ruth in a Swimming Pool". Pure genius.

Holy crap. I've wasted too much space on this.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Yesterday our 'illustrious' President was in the Dallas area, which is a little too close for comfort for me. No doubt the handpicked crowd ate up every word that came from that illiterate's mouth. I have no idea what he said in his speech, but I'll bet a thousand bucks that there was at least one lie. This war criminal has the blood of 1800 Americans and God knows how many innocent Iraqis on his hands, and he has the temerity to stand up there like some preening jackass who thinks he's starring in his own movie. What a douchebag.

The noted author E.L. Doctorow recently wrote an essay that expresses these sentiments in a much more eloquent way than I can:

An Essay on Death and President Bush, by E.L Doctorow
I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is.
He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.
On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.
But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn.
He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.
They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life.... They come to his desk as a political liability which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.
How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it.
So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.
This president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing --- to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything. You become a wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children.
He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead; he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty; he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance; he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills --- it is amazing for how many people in this country this President does not feel.
But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners' jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a-half benefits for overtime because this is actually a way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.
And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.
But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneously aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time.
But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.
The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses.The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.
Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective war making, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.
E.L. Doctorow

Monday, August 01, 2005

Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot!

Today at lunch I had to go to Lowe's to get a new charger for my cordless drill. So, I'm casually strolling up to the entrance when I notice a bunch of people standing around looking at something. That something turned out to be a police officer pointing his gun at someone. I have no idea what offense this person possibly committed, but he appeared to be unarmed and had both of his hands in the air. That being the case, I went on in and completed by business. Now if the suspect had had a gun and there was about to be a shootout, I would have hightailed it out of there and completed the sale at Home Depot or something. By the time I left the store 10 minutes later all the ruckus was over and you never would have known anything had happened. Viva la Monday!