Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Holiday for the Rest of Us

I was going to do a real Festivus post today, but for a few reasons, just couldn't. Maybe next year.

At least I decorated, tho.

I couldn't come up with anything for the Feats of Strength. A friend suggested that he'd bench press me--but I know he's not that strong. I couldn't come up with anything comparable.

As far as the Airing of Grievances goes...well, that one was going to be easy. I have more than enough entries, but why engage in all the bitterness? So then I was going to come up with a joking-around list (targeting such foes as Robert B. Parker's editors, who have apparently traded in their red pens for a rubber stamp), but I got to busy running around today, and ran out of energy. Besides, I'm snarky enough as it is, why make the effort to be extra snarky?

So, I'll just name a couple of Festivus miracles, and/or near miracles.
  • Brian Cashman gets Mark Teixeira
  • The Boise State Broncos lost the Poinsettia Bowl--so only another week of 24/7 coverage of the team/game from the local media before they get back to the news.
  • I took my van into the mechanic yesterday and he fixed w/o charging me a cent.
  • Samwise and I successfully made some ginger cookies from scratch on our first try.
  • I passed up a chance to be extra snarky.
  • Super-HeroHype.com posted this great fanmade live-action Thundercats trailer.
Happy Festivus, everyone! (or if you celebrate one of the other holidays going on this week, hope you have a good one)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Past the Slippery Slope

It's too large to embed on my template, so trust me, you want to follow this link to yesterday's Day by Day comic commenting on Pelosi's Congress, the current financial crisis, and a creepy historical parallel.

Now, this idea isn't original with Muir's comic, but he's able to express it in a much more pithy manner than most.

Too Scared to Sleep?

I often will joke about sleep being my enemy given the hours I work, etc. I've actually never been a big sleeper, my mother (who remembers my childhood far more clearly than I do) assures me. But the truth of the matter is, sleep is a mortal enemy of mine, and it's gonna win one day.

In early 2000, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea--one of my college roommates said, "Duhhhh, I could've told you that years ago." Not that he bothered, true friend that he is. The diagnosis was made while looking for something else, I didn't realize I had trouble sleeping (I had solid witnesses testifying to the snoring, though), so I didn't quite buy everyone's assurances (and there were several) that I "was going to start feeling a whole lot better right away" after starting use of the CPAP.

I didn't.

In fact, I'd usually wake up after a few hours with an irresistible urge to rip the thing off my face because I felt like I wasn't getting enough air. Occasionally, I'd be able to talk my way past the urge and get back to sleep with the headgear on, I talked to my doctor about it, he laughed good-naturedly about it and assured me I'd get over it.

I didn't.

Didn't take too long before I stopped using it entirely. I'd have occasional bursts of use--run into the same problems and stop. Then I'd get some other health scare--or try to live a healthier lifestyle (the two did not always coincide) and I'd give it another go.

It's getting worse, I know--and last summer I got a new machine (my old one was so obselete I couldn't get accessories for it), and a new style of facemask--thinking the old style (of which I had a few variations) might be a huge part of my problem. Tried it for a few days, and it was nicer and then fell back into old habits--which, if nothing else, are far easier--because it wasn't nicer enough (and rubbed my septum raw, which is nastier than it sounds).

But the last few weeks, any time I sleep more than 3-4 hours, I wake up at least once in a panic. Chest pains, congested throat, mouth drier than the moon, etc. Now I feel as bad as everyone wanted me to back in 2000. A week or so ago, I tried it for a night--maybe made it 2 hours (since it was a work night, that's 50% of my sleep time, so not bad).

Yesterday, a friend told me about her new BiPAP and how wonderful it was, which got me very jealous--why couldn't I have the same reaction? I meant to use it last night, but didn't--and paid for it. Woke up twice--chest pains, congested and scared. So tonight I got it ready early--there was just no way I was going to skip it again.

And then I fell asleep on the couch a couple hours before I planned to go to bed. Oops. Woke a couple hours later, and marched right into the bedroom to get it going. But it didn't sound right--like the motor wasn't quite up to the job--and when the motor is the thing pushing air into your lungs, you kinda want that to work. And then I couldn't get the headgear to fit right...so I had a mini-panic attack and find myself here, typing it all up in a surely vain attempt to stay awake.

It probably won't defeat me tonight, but you never know, it's going to one day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Food for Thought

Carl Trueman and R. Scott Clark offer some thoughts on the whole controversy about Rick Warren praying at the upcoming presidential inauguration.

Trueman comments briefly Warren and then goes on to offer some good insight on how The Church & Christians ought to react to the culture's welcoming attitude to homosexuality.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

All She Wanth for Chrithmath Ith Her Two Front Teeth

(you know I've been waiting for thhhhree kidth now to get the chanthe to thay thhhat.)

Not that I'd had my doubts, but...

George W. Bush is constantly being referred to in the media and by liberals as an arch-conservative. Which is just laughable to actual conservatives since he started lurching left the instant he was sworn in--snuggling up to Teddy Kennedy right out of the gates to get No Child Left Behind passed, etc.

But since people insist in this belief, it's good to read things like David Harsanyi asking, "Does anyone still believe George Bush is a conservative?"

Moderation in all things

Especially in comments here.

Getting spammed a lot lately, thankfully that seems to come in spurts. Moderating comments for awhile.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Saved Me Some Typing

but he did steal today's post...

My pal, Micah, wrote a nice little post on that lady in Florida complaining to the press that her sin will be exposed by her church.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Lost my Jeopardy (Baby)

I didn't get to watch Jeopardy! tonight. And I won't get to watch it tomorrow. And my DVR won't be able to watch Numb3rs for me tomorrow...or The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother on Monday.

Thankfully, it's more difficult now to catch The Mentalist or Eleventh Hour.

The owner of the local CBS affiliate and my satellite provider are in a bit of a tiff--and in the midst of it, their contract expired. So as of 12:01 this morning, I can't watch CBS.

The he said/she said accusations are flying thick. CBS affiliate says: they charge for our broadcasts, we want a cut. Satellite provider says: they've jacked their rates 80%. Blah blah blah

I don't blame the local guys for wanting their share--makes sense (tho' I do wonder how their advertisers feel about their audience shrinking so quickly). And I certainly understand not wanting to kow-tow to an 80% increase, and I'd balk at it.

Not sure who's going to blink first, but I gotta say, this is not the right time to do this. TV is having a hard enough time hanging onto its audience at all. And it's so easy to get CBS programming (legitimately or not) that in this day and age this game of chicken is gonna have no real winner, but two clear losers.

Public Service Announcement

The Season 2 premier of Flight of the Conchords, HBO's series chronicalling the lives of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo is temporarily up on Funny or Die.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Sign

They're remaking The Crow

Stephen Norrington has signed on to write and direct a reinvention of "The Crow," based on the comic created by James O’Barr.


"Whereas Proyas’ original was gloriously gothic and stylized, the new movie will be realistic, hard-edged and mysterious, almost documentary-style," Norrington told Daily Variety.
There are just so many reactions I have to this:
  • for one, they'll never be able to cast someone as cool, yet clearly evil, as Michael Wincott--"Quick impression for you: Caw! Caw! Bang! F***, I'm dead!" (and no way can they replace Ernie Hudson, either)
  • isn't this too dang soon?
  • "realistic"? "documentary style"? Aren't those other ways of just saying they'll use a shaky camera like Blair Witch or Cloverfield? Or is it just going to last for 3 weeks like a Ken Burns project?
  • isn't this too dang soon?
  • Not only was Lee great as Eric Draven, but the circumstances around his death and the making of the film added a certain aura to the whole thing that you just can't duplicate for the remake (unless Norrington has a capital crime in mind)
  • But honestly, the thing I keep thinking is this: they're remaking a movie made when I was in college. COLLEGE. There's no way around it now, popular culture has declared me old.


Finally, I've seen Spaced. It's been on my Netflix queue for ages--before the July '08 release--and at long last TPTB there decided I was worthy to gaze upon the DVDs.

I am so thankful I did. It really doesn't matter that the show's almost 10 years old, it's still funny--frequently laugh out loud while watching it by yourself funny. The premise is that two friends, Tim and Daisy, pose as a married couple in order to be able to rent a flat, which they both really need (this point is rarely revisited after episode 1). The two friends interact with the owner of the building and the other tenant, and two friends from outside the building, and well, that's basically it.

They hang out, talk, go to the pub, occasionally do sit-com-y things, even more occasionally work, and hang out some more.

That's it, that's the whole show.

Oh, they eventually get a dog. Forgot that bit.

Now, I realize that doesn't sound like much of a show, much less one to make an effort to watch, but it is.

What sets Spaced apart from the rest? Why does that set up turn into something that holds up so well both across time and the Atlantic? Here's my top 3 ideas:

  1. Visual Style--there is a very discernable style to the way the show is shot, lit. There aren't a lot of sit-coms that focus on those kind of things (percentage-wise, there aren't a lot of shows period that focus on it)
  2. Their embracing of Pop-Culture. Each episode is replete with pop-culture references. Not the way that Family Guy will interrupt their story (all 7 minutes of it per episode) to make a joke; nor the way that there was a Superman in each Seinfeld episode if you just look for it hard enough. It's in the way the characters talk, the way they think.

    When they're thinking traitor, they don't think of Benedict Arnold or even Judas first, they think "Lando." When they're searching for a quick way to describe someone, it's "She's shallow, Brian. She's like Cordelia out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and latterly Angel, the spin off series which is set in LA." Which is honestly, the way a certain age bracket thinks and talks--and not the way sit com characters talked before the nineties.

    Which is one of the reasons it translates so well for American audiences. It doesn't matter if you say aerial or antenna, aluminium or aluminum, you know the pain Tim was feeling thanks to The Phantom Menace--even 18 months later.
  3. I think the core of it is the characters and the way they interact with each other. These aren't the most appealing people, and on the whole aren't nearly realistic, but they do talk to /react to each other in a very real way.

    There's not one character you can count on for the goofy antic, clever line of dialogue--no Chandler Bing, Barney Stinson, or Jeff Murdock. Most of the lines of dialouge aren't that quotable out of context (tho' there are the exceptions--
    Duane: You Know what they say about love and war.
    Tim: Yeah, one of them involves a large amount of physical and psychological pain and the other's war. )
    There something very relatable in the way that Tim talks to Daisy or his landlady. It's easy to see yourself sitting on the couch next to them, at another seat at the kitchen table as they talk about whatever. It feels like friends (who might as well be each other's family) talking about whatever friends talking about. Very comfortable, relaxing, and fun.

Not only do you get 6 hours of a great TV show, the US release DVD set contains a bunch of commentary tracks, including some by notable US fans of the show--like Diablo Cody, Kevin Smith, and Quentin Tarantino. Listening to them is an education in itself (and almost as fun as the show).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, at Least I Know it Isn't Her

If I'd actually posted something yesterday, it would've gone something like this...

If there's one thing USA Network knows how to do it's run syndicated TV into the ground. (and to be fair, they can do 2 things--they can also create great mystery-ish Comedy-Drama shows with quirky leads) I remember when I was in college, with very little effort I could watch 4-5 hours a day of Wings and still make all of my classes. They're currently working their special magic with House and Law & Order: SVU.

The other night, I caught the last half of House's pilot episode, "Everybody Lies." The patient of the week (Rebecca Adler) was played by Robin Tunney--who I didn't think I'd seen before she showed up on The Mentalist this year. That alone was kind of a surprise, because I'd seen this episode a few times. But what really shocked me was that by the end of the first scene with her, I'd noticed soemthing: she can act.

Now, if you've never seen Tunney play anything other than CBI Agent Lisbon, you might want to debate me on that point, but I assure you, she can. I paid more attention to her for the rest of the episode than the patient normally deserves. Not only did she show genuine emotion, she held her own with Hugh Laurie just fine. Which took care of my theory that it's Simon Baker outshining her.

If you've caught more than one commercial break on CBS this fall, you know that The Mentalist is this year's highest rated new show (which is roughly equivalent to bragging about being the highest paid McDonald's trainee). So you'd expect it to have a couple of well-rounded characters in the batch, some interesting people to watch. Nope. It doesn't. Just one--Patrick Jane, the former TV psychic/huckster.

But given my new Tunney insight, I know there's at least two people on the cast who are capable of doing more than reciting lines and smiling/frowning on cue (generally frowning for this ensemble)--making it entirely possible that the whole cast is capable. So why is it that everyone but Jane look like they could be played by cardboard standees? If it's not the actors, it has to be the writers/directors/producers. But why oh why would they want something like that? I guess it could be an ego thing with Baker--but he's shone while working alongside other really good actors. So I'm stumped, anyone have a theory?

While I'm thinking of it, this episode also contained one of those bits of dialogue that sealed the deal for me. When Laurie gave this mini-speech, I knew I was with House for the long-haul. (Note: the writers' Thirteen obsession this season has made me question this decision)

Rebecca Adler: I just want to die with a little dignity.
Dr. Gregory House: There's no such thing! Our bodies break down, sometimes when we're 90, sometimes before we're even born, but it always happens and there's never any dignity in it! I don't care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass... it's always ugly, always! You can live with dignity; you can't die with it!

Cal Ripkin I'm clearly not

my 43-day consecutive post streak was broken yesterday--and I don't even have an interesting reason for it.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Leave the Seat Up

from LiveScience:

One of the longest-running spousal debates may now be settled in favor of men and for the sake of little boys.

Leave the toilet seat up, some British doctors now say. The reason: a rising trend for heavy wooden and ornamental toilet seats to fall down onto the penises of unsuspecting (and just potty-trained) toddlers.

Dr. Joe Philip and his colleagues of Leighton Hospital, Crewe, in England detail such penis-crush injuries in the December issue of the journal BJU International. The team reports on four boys between the ages of 2 and 4 who were admitted to hospitals with injuries serious enough to require an overnight stay.
An overnight stay? Yeee-owww!

Now, it should be noted that the lead there is misleading (no pun intended), it's only a temporary victory for men--once the kids aren't toddlers and have figured out the whole "putting the seat down without getting anything in the way" routine down, then there's no backing from medical science.

One small battle won, but there's still a war to fight, men.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

This is by no means the best written book I've read this year--which is a shame, because Carrie Fisher is a skillful writer. It is, however, probably the funniest thing I've read since I Love You, Beth Cooper.

Adapted from her one-woman show, Wishful Thinking is an autobiography by anecdote--a series of recollections from her star-studded childhood, through her early addictions while starting in film, through her later addictions and failed marriages, and to her hospitalization in a mental health facility and electroshock therapy--and a bunch of stuff in between.

Sounds like a blast, doesn't it? Well, here's the opening paragraphs, where she explains that.

I have to start by telling you that my entire existence could be summed up in one phrase. And that is: If my life wasn't funny it would just be true, and that is unacceptable.

What that really means, other than what it sounds like, is, let's say something happens and from a certain slant maybe it's tragic, even a little bit shocking. Then time passes and you go to the funny slant, and now that very same thing can no longer do you any harm.

So what we're really talking about then is: location, location, location.

Fisher's clearly at the point where this material can do her no harm, what it can do is entertain. You can hear her voice reading the book--I've got to remember to see if she reads the audiobook, gotta grab it--I can only imagine how fun seeing the show would be.

Yes, there are cheap shots at Republicans, Sarah Palin, President Bush, and several other things that will offend many. But Fisher is so refreshingly honest and frank in telling her story that you really just don't care.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Don't Know Why the Article Didn't Mention Her Groundbreaking Work as Pamela Finklestein

Okay, okay, we live in a post-Pres. Reagan, Gov. Schwarzenegger, Rep. Grandy, Rep. Ben Jones, Rep. Bono, I get that. But...is the world ready for Sen. Drescher?

NEW YORK (CNN) — Actress Fran Drescher has expressed interest in being appointed to the U.S. Senate seat that New York's Hillary Clinton is giving up to become secretary of state, a spokesman for the actress said.

No, seriously.

"Fran Drescher, actress, women's health advocate and public diplomacy envoy for the U.S. State Department, announced that she is throwing her hat into the ring of contenders for the senate seat being vacated by Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton," Drescher spokesman Jordan Brown told CNN in a written statement late Monday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Misremembering Schultz

can't get to sleep and the Offspring are watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, which means I'm only thinking of one thing:

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Thought for the Lord's Day - #32

Self-righteousness cleaves to us, as naturally and as closely as our skins, nor can any power, but that of an Almighty Hand, flay us of it". . .until you are endued with a faith in Christ’s righteousness, your body is no better than 'the living coffin of a dead soul'.

- Augustus Toplady

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sick Day / Judo Tournament

Tempted to call in sick today, not really up for much. If I was, I'd try to describe the Judo Tournament we went to this morning, our first. The Boys' sensei requires attendance as a spectator at one before the students can participate--I thought it was for the student's to get an idea what happens. I misunderstood--it's for the parents to get an idea what happens at one--particularly to get a feel for all the different ways a participant can get injured.

We got a pretty good idea of the ways that could happen, particularly as the day went one. The easiest way for one of my boys to get injured would be to put them on a mat with a girl in their age/weight class (or one below)--those girls were...aggressive doesn't seem to do capture it. Very, very, very competitive and quite expressive of that competitiveness comes closer.

Mostly, we witnessed a good deal of great sportsmanship, respect for tradition, and skill--I'm really looking forward to seeing what my rookies do.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Two Bucks

While going through Wal-mart last weekend for our weekly shopping, couldn't help but glance at the Black Friday displays that were still up (actually had to, otherwise would've been constantly tripping over them). One of the displays were DVDs for $2--most of them utter rubbish, obviously. There was a diamond in the rough, though, the Renny Harlin classic, The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Okay, granted, as diamonds in the rough go, it's more like cubic zirconium. And "classic" pretty much has to be taken ironically, as it's describing a Renny Harlin flick. But it's one of those movies I've always liked. A guilty pleasure, sure, but a great way to relax. Back when I actually had a VCR, I'd reguarly pop the video in. But I could never bring myself to shell out the $$ for the DVD.

But thanks to rampant consumerism, any time I want, I can hear Samuel L Jackson say, "Oh phooey, I burned the darn muffins;" watch Geen Davis fire an automatic weapon into an ice-covered lake to provide a safe landing place for the two of them after jumping out a window; see more outlandish explosions than belong in a movie not featureing Det. John McClane; I could go on, but I won't.

And I didn't even have to trample anyone to do it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Remembering the "M" in MTV

turns out, I still Want My MTV.

You youngsters (yeah, you Julie) may not remember this, but once upon a time MTV stood for "Music Television." They would play--practically all day--filmed commercials for songs/albums (including those mysterious artifacts called "LPs"), called "music videos." If you happen to catch the station at the right time of day, every fourth Thursday, I understand you can catch the occasional video sandwiched between strange dating shows and whatnot. Many of these videos were very creative, in fact.

MTV's new website, MTV Music, has just about every one of those videos--and current stuff--for playing online (and in better quality than you can find on youtube). And without Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, or J. J. Jackson! Alas, also no Martha Quinn.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Arnold Update 12/3/08

Visit to the nephrologist was a short one, and on the whole positive. Doc was satisfied with his grown--1.5 inches since July and 2 pounds (2 pounds?!?!)--actually, he called that "good." Most of the things we look for in his blood were good. The big one, sadly, went up a bit; his creatinine was at 1.2 giving him a 44% kidney function (+/- 4%), so he's "slipping a little" on that front. We're still more than 20% from the point where we start shopping around for his next kidney.

We've also scheduled the next of those all day appointments for early January, so, there should be more info sooner than normal.

Incidentally, that pic was taken a week and a half ago while we were waiting for the lab to draw his blood. The smile was a little bigger initially, but he had to hold it longer than expected cuz I hit the wrong button on my phone. He was literally bouncing up and down in the waiting room.

Mad Men

Through the magic of Netflix, I've now watched the first three episodes of Mad Men. Can someone out there help me? How is this the best drama on television? Do things pick up after ep. 3 that makes this more than an exercise in male chauvinism?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Though He is Dead, He Still Speaks

Everyone who reads (well, most everyone) Machen's Christianity & Liberalism remarks about how applicable it is to the contemporary church, some even suggesting it could be edited to remove names and republished as Christianity and Evangelicalism. Which, I should mention, would be fun to see, and I'd buy a copy or five.

Almost as good: Michael Wittmer of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary presented a paper recently to ETS entitled, "Machen on McLaren: A New Kind of Liberal?" where he shows the parallels between what Machen fought and what McLaren promotes. He's posted the handout that accompanied his paper--interesting read.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Hey, Where's the Yankees Logo?

Yes, Virginia, I can wear a cap that doesn't have the interlocking NY of the Yankees emblazoned on the front. Given the right design, I will don a cap that actually has nothing to do with the Yankees. The latest (and first in a while) example of such a design comes courtesy of the good people at Sola Fide (and Lutheresque)--drop by, look around, drive up traffic so more designs will follow. Looks dandy and keeps the rain off your scalp. Who could ask for more?

A Satisfied Customer

A little annoyed / NaNoWriMo Finals

I've been trying since last night, and I cannot get blogger to publish the final standings in our family's NaNoWriMo efforts.

I know a lot of people complain about blogger.com blogs/interface/etc. And "serious bloggers" and people who "use real web programming" look down on it. That's fine. But for a hobbyist like myself, it does just fine.

But, when I have a problem? GAH! I hate this thing.

Anyhow, until I can post it where I'm trying:

Frodo's Count

Samwise's Count

Princess' Count

Team Newton's Count