Kenny Smith | blog

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter is here. Winter is coming. Cold the last two days and the northern part of the state is due some sleet or snow or ice overnight. It will be overblown and people will brace for a dusting and schools will be closed. That's not prescience, that's observing a long-established pattern.

Here we'll get rain. Started during primetime actually. Occasionally it sounds like sleet. Not much too it, we are staying away from freezing. Good timing, meteorologically speaking.

Hit up a few stores this afternoon. Fresh-faced and eager with a 20 percent off coupon, but walked away with nothing. Followed that up with a visit to an outlet store where I also refrained from making purchases. A moral victory, that.

Laundry at home, a little upkeep of this and that. Procrastinated some. Thought I'd procrastinate some more, but I never got around to it. The nice thing is that the procrastination gave me three weekend projects. Before I got around to putting that stuff off I did a little more prepatory site work and am presently enjoying listening to the rain.

As February sneaks in it brings a beautiful winter. When we discard the month, tired of it as we'll be in four short weeks, spring will already be upon us. (No matter what Smith Lake Jake says.) Oh happy day.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Broke out the inflatable mattress over the weekend -- seemed easier than hauling the real one around, and more fun, what with the plug and the switches and the whirring -- for the decadent laziness of television viewing. Moved it to the side, thinking I could use it again for TiVo viewing purposes yesterday. That was so successful it tricked me into a nap, but I left it inflated to finish up the EvIl eye's programming today.

Now it must be deflated, as I dozed off yet again. But I did watch Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, and then zipped on to The Mark of Gideon. This Star Trek episode has always struck me as a bit silly, even before I'd ever heard of the population bomb, but there you have it, a cautionary tale about a planet that can't die because they don't have disease. But life is sacred. And that's why we're stealing some of your blood, Kirk, to infect and kill us off because the crowd is maddening.

Stands to reason aliens would get claustrophobic. Those wacky, duplicitous aliens, kidnapping the captain and getting off scot free. That's only because they didn't send Scotty down. James Doohan might not have liked William Shatner, but Montgomery Scott stood by his captain, even when there was nothing more to give in his dylithium crystals. Can't ask much more of an engineer than that, other than to be a heavy drinker, play to other stereotypes and otherwise simply be around if something breaks.

The aliens on the crowded planet, though, they continuously bumped into one another, mindless wind up toys corralled in a too small enclosure. They live extraordinarily long lives, we're told, in a nearly germ-free environment. So even under the influence of the population bomb writers -- and you can't stress this part enough, science fiction writers -- couldn't come up with a plausible reason for population booms in order to serve as a cautionary tale.

Yet Paul Ehrlich continued to hold a certain audience well into the 21st Century. Why? Because those people didn't believe in Captain Kirk and Commander Spock.

I'm just saying.

Also, Spock reels off the most frustrated line ever uttered by a Vulcan, observing that "The function of diplomacy is to extend the crisis."

Not too many crises on Boston Legal tonight. Only one court case, and that involved Delta Burke's character and the dwarf, two people who's names I can't even be troubled to recall. Brad Chase dressed up as Buzz Lightyear and got in a fight with ... Buzz Lightyear, as played by Jeffrey Coho. They're a funny sideshow, but the big story is the continuing friendship of Denny and Alan (who arrived at the costume party as Dick Cheney and Shirley Schmidt, respectively). They're intent on writing them as one of the best platonic couples in television history. That Brokeback Boston Legal does not count.

Most of the evening went to photoshopping. I've been sitting on these old pictures, 100 in all, that will be a part of the new version of the site, and tonight I cropped and resized until they all look more or less the same.

Still have to design that page. That'll be tomorrow. And then begin two more sections of the new page. It is all coming together nicely and I remain hopeful for a February launch. A few of those sections will see partial rollouts each week in a months-long project that probably six people will be interested in. This is why they call it a hobby.

And, at least tonight, it successfully allowed me to avoid American Idol. I watched one auditioner tonight and, filling thusly satiated on would be contestants, I feel as if I've gotten my feel of the popularity contest. Someone wake me in May when the season is over. Otherwise I'm restricting my viewing of the Fox family of networks to one hour per week to limit my American Idol exposure.

Later. After laughing at The Mark of Gideon and making the inevitable conclusion that the science fiction has aged well, but the storytelling has not, I'm stuck with The Thaw. Never watched much of Voyager, so it is hard to make comparisons, but this can't have been a comforting sign midway through the second season.

How much has storyingtelling changed in a decade? That Voyager was from 1996. Tonight I also watched Sunday's Battlestar Galactica. Both plots dealt with fear as a primary plot point. The Voyager episode had people's brains tied into a computer network, the programming got wacky and the fear of the people's personalities effectively held them hostage as it demanded its own survival.

On Battlestar, they're torturing Gaius Baltar to try to learn about his betrayals of mankind. To try to learn details they attack his fears, threatening him in a running argument that will surely lead to the airlock and, later, they pump him full of psychosomatic drugs to play on his paranoia and find out what they want to know.

The interesting thing here is that there is no longer any moral ambiguity. The good guys now just do these things. They've had enough and being a little bit more like how they perceive the bad guys doesn't seem so bad. They aren't bad, they're merely desperate.

And out for more than a little revenge, as Baltar ultimately gets stabbed in the neck with a pen. And we're still waiting on the last five Cylons, one of which is on board the Battlestar. But you'll have to wait a few weeks. After having been back on the air for three solid episodes they're not airing next Sunday, and the following installment looks like a placeholder.

Otherwise there's the feel they're on a slow burn for a big story arc. And with all the subplots the curve could come from anywhere.

I'll probably be camped out on the inflatable mattress whenever it appears. That thing is comfortable.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Nineteen degrees this morning.

Seems almost impossible to contemplate. Been a year or so since it has been that cold here. By contrast, the 35 and sunny during lunch was pleasant. Sitting in the car I read about Gerald Ford's first 31 days in office.

On September 8, 1974 Ford pardoned Richard Nixon. It was much warmer that day. The mean temperature is listed as 72. It was almost identical a month before when Nixon left office.

The most interesting thing I know about that day is a Willie Morris anecdote. He was on Long Island at the time and watched events unfold on television with a friend. The friend got up, walked to the window and noted that there was no violence. They took it as a sign of the country's strength that a president could resign and there would be no blood running in the streets.

There was a moment when things got scary in the Nixon administration as the two sides consolidated power and considered their assets. Calmer heads, of course, prevailed. The Ford administration has so far been an historical blindspot for me. It isn't old enough to be antiquated history, but just before my birth, so I don't have any memories of Ford. Chevy Chase is Gerald Ford to me. The few recollections I have of Nixon are from years later, though I've read a fair amount on Watergate.

Anyway. Crisp and clear afternoon. Big tall skies with the thinnest layer of clouds stretching out over everything. All through the downtown valley we're staring up and thinking of Bob Ross and his little rolls of paint scraping happy little clouds.

At home there was a lot of TiVo to work through. The EvIl eye set me up with Scrubs to ignore as repeats, two Star Trek episodes, Elaan of Troyius, which I recall and Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, of which I only have a small memory, and during which I fell asleep this afternoon. Saved it for later. Frank Gorshin was nominated for an Emmy for his role, that'll be worth seeing.

Episodes of Enterprise -- the 21st Century prequel of the original series, starring Scott Bakula as a 22nd Century space captain, predating Kirk by about 110 years -- are now airing on SciFi. Four episodes each Monday. So skimming through those is a new ritual. Just when I think I've almost escaped the EvIl eye it drags me back in!

These are first season episodes. I've seen them before -- I made it to the first season's cliffhanger, got distracted and never came back -- and am more or less just patiently waiting around to the final season when things finally got good.

The Bauer Hour was not that good tonight. Jack didn't torture his brother any more. He almost seemed to forgive him for past sibling grievances. Clearly there is some backstory there that made the two the way they are. I'm not sure why I want to see Graem get his so much; I'm certain it isn't a latent sibling issue of my own though.

We meet Dad, who turns out to be a bad guy, but not the baddest guy. That's brother Graem, which makes the dad somewhat sympathetic. But Jack didn't kill anyone this hour. By the end of the hour he has been captured and bound again (three times before noon!) which just means that a lot of people are going to buy it before sunset.

Things go poorly for the President's Sister's Boyfriend. The leader of an Islamic advocacy group he's been taken into custody out of mild hysteria. The Feds decide he is of use to them, so they use him as a mole with the other prisoners. Fortunately for all the President's Sister's Boyfriend is an accomplished pickpocket. Now there's some profiling for you.

But he gets beaten up because the government folks are fairly incompetent at protecting him. That should say something, but given the larger issues happening today we'd be repeating ourselves.

Further, that mild hysteria and cabinet-level bickering going on at the White House fails as drama while thousands lay smoldering on the West Coast. Funny how we're already downplaying that. Instead we have the NSA resigning, which is good, she didn't strike you as the National Security Advisor always holding the high and mighty Constitutional lectures.

There's a place for that, absolutely, and that debate must prevail, but from the military you want a general intent on blowing things up when necessary and from the NSA you want advice and updates on security. Meanwhile, the sniveling and conniving Thomas Lennox -- the Chief of Staff according to the internet, but not officially credited on the 24 website -- is ready for bigger and better internment camps and bending the parchment of the Constitution. He snaps off a great line about how there were no nuclear weapons when the founding fathers established the government and that he, for one, won't go hiding behind the Constitution when another nuclear bomb is detonated. Seems like a bad plan, the Constitution is lowered into a chamber behind five-ton doors designed to withstand a nuclear explosion.

And this guy's the Chief of Staff.

Next week: someone in CTU will be aggrieved by something because their eyes will not be on the proverbial terrorist prize. Jack breaks free from certain death -- again -- and he starts the sibling torture anew.

I get so excited about that.

Otherwise, a forgettable hour. And Jack still needs a sandwich! Or perhaps a nice catfish plate.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Work this morning and into the afternoon. Nice day: cold and clear during the parts that mattered. The rain has gone from last evening and the overcast clouds were scared away by the daylight.

Home, then, for freshening up. Spent some time watching Season Two of Boston Legal on DVD. Schadenfreude, which seemed familiar to a point, and then became new. In the third act I realized we'd stopped watching this one the last time somewhere mid-way through.

I'm not a big Heather Locklear fan. She's one dimensional enough without having to make her character that much more so. Maybe that's what passes for range for her. Everyone else is quirky, her character's quirk is that she has none. And that's her storyline: women who married rich, but dated around is charged with murdering her hubby. And she never emoted anything. Yeah, we get it, but you spend two episodes driving that one home.

Meanwhile Betty White's character rids the world of the deadly Bernie. I love Betty White, at this stage in her career she's effectively pigeon-holed into the role, but it is a great role that exists in all of our lives and should show up in television. Maybe with less backhand in her skillet swing though.

Also, Alan loosens up before the ultimate Perry Mason moment. Note the objecting attorney, playing the prosecutor is 24's President Logan. That guy's everywhere, it seems. Alan and Denny both go after the judge, Anthony Heald. Denny thinks the judge has mad cow disease, just like him.

Edwin Starr stars. Or his nephew. Or an actor playing his nephew. It is enough to want to hear Edwin Starr singing again, mixed in with George M. Cohan. You'll find it in this clip. Cohan is popularly known for Over There, but remains one of the more influential actors of the early 20th Century and is still everywhere.

Much like Alan's closing argument in this episode, which is good, but hasn't been seen on the internet yet. You'll just have to watch.

After that is Finding Nimmo which, even on the menu screen the obvious joke would have been casting Leonard Nimoy as a Canadian fishing guide. He and Shatner could give long, confused looks at one another. This is the episode where Alan discusses Klingons, causing Denny to pull up short.

They're in Canada this episode, taking a fishing vacation and Alan has a terrific run of beginner's luck. Denny's anger overwhelms him to the point of shotgun fishing, which was certainly out of the blue.

And, in their final scenes they appear before a Canadian court to discuss an evironmental issue, where the pair leaves the judge with two words, "DennyCrane, eh." By now Denny Crane has become a compound word, and Eh certainly qualifies as a word in Canada. Typical though the joke was, it made me laugh.

Meanwhile, Betty White's character confesses to where she ditched the body. He had a bit of freezer burn, but that's to be expected after two skillets to the skull and a week in the deep freezer. Oddly this after the duck was found alive in a refrigerator.

Somewhere within the next episode or three is when I took up the show on a regular basis. Hopefully they'll hold up as well in repeats.

Pie Day on Sunday this week. Ward got two hugs from Taylor -- mostly because he gave her a white balloon. There's trouble in store for her parents; that child's affection is far too easily bought. I blame only myself. And Ward. And a few other people. Come to think of it, I don't blame myself at all. The only thing I've ever given her are birthday presents. And horsey rides.

The potatoes were especially big tonight, and I left with two halves for dinner tomorrow. The pie was also especially big, but we were all certain to eat that at the restaurant.

Sundays, suddenly, are crowded at the barbeque joint. That must be a hard day to predict for them when preparing staff and food. Some evenings it is slow, and others, like tonight, was a two hour adventure.

Nothing wrong with that, surrounded by good company (and horsey rides) the day can move as it wants to.

This cold front coming through, though, that's a different matter.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The day started with such bright and shiny promise. The bright and shiny part disappeared quickly, escaping behind clouds that swarmed in from the western plains. Rain and cold will be coming, but first have an after of overcast, said the jetstream.

Hoover at noon on a Saturday, not a good idea. That's a lot of traffic for a tuna melt and an ice cream cone. But one must persist, if only because there is nowhere to turn around when the going gets too tough. Traffic is a good motivator, demanding a left, a right and two red lights to retreat.

So back when you came, the lot of you, going the other way for different shopping, punctuated by a brief visit to the outlets, which have the feel of a dried fruit hanging from the branch in late summer. They won't fall, but they have shrunken a bit, never having reached the ripe and beautiful goal.

They do have a Lenox and a Wilson's Leather and a Gap, but the Banana Republic has closed. When the faux government goes the Nine West and the sunglasses shop are sure to follow. It'll be retail anarchy at the outlets. There'll surely be travel warnings coming down from the state department in short order.

Later was a steak dinner, so sumptuous in its decadence that it took two hours. Again with the crowds. That cold and rain from early in the day moved in. First the rain, then the cold. One will leave and the other will stay with us for a while, but sunny and cold is tolerable.

Went over to Brooke and Stephen's to watch Little Miss Sunshine:
For dark comedy fans only. Suicide, Nietzsche, bankruptcy -- that's the good stuff.
Feels a little slow, but ultimately it had a nice progression. Alan Arkin was great, and becomes the center of one of the most morbid comedic scenes ever.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Begrudgingly made a stop by the post office. Not my favorite place to visit. The lines seem oddly long, there's only so much the clerks are willing to do -- even the nice ones, their hands are tied -- and so it is back to the end of the line with you, mister.

So I minimize the trips, and minimize everything within the trips if at all possible. Dropped off all my Christmas thank you cards and shipped two packages, and then realized I'd forgotten one very important thank you card. This weekend, then.

Now, though, it is time for a trip to the library and then to Tuscaloosa. The Yankee wanted to see the gymnasts and I'd been craving ribs, so that worked out well. The fewest people I've ever seen in the original Dreamland restaurant, where only three tables were taken when we arrived. It was enough to make you pull up short. Usually you must stand over tables like vultures, waiting for someone to finish with their bones so that you might pick some clean yourself. Tonight, however, you can choose your table. Under which piece of paraphernalia and years old barbeque drops will you sit? The implications can make you dizzy.

We chose a booth sitting under, of course, Bear Bryant. It is a big framed montage, with one of the shots being from the old television studio where he shot the coach's show, complete with Coke and Golden Flake on the counter. That studio was very close to Dreamland, but I think that's all gone now.

There was also a sticky -- seriously caked on barbeque sauce -- photo of Chris Mohr. An Alabama punter, but this was a shot from his professional days with the Buffalo Bills. He signed it reassuring the restaurant and patrons that the yankees don't have anything on the local fare.

Oh, and the bananas in the pudding were fresh off the tree.

Alabama hosted Auburn in their Pretty in Pink program, which has become an annual event raising money for breast cancer exams for the poor. Another sellout for Bama, which marks the second one of those I've seen. The first was a record. I'm not sure how I feel about having been a part of that ...

Alabama is fifth in the nation and Auburn is 10th and there's a big difference as the Tide handily beat the young upstart Tigers 197.475-195.900. Nice night at the gym though, all the ladies worked hard, though, and my respect for their effort grows each time I see a meet. My notes are poor, and I'm sure there are mistakes, so if you stumble on them, I apologize, and please correct me.

Lindsey Puckett finished second on the uneven bars. Kayla Gies on the uneven bars, who posted a season high score.

Hey kids, here's Olympic silver medalist (bars) and NCAA champion (bars) Terin Humphrey coming off a bit crooked. This is how good Alabama is: Humphrey, good as she is, finished third on her team in the event.

Claire Seiffert was third on the team on the floor. Carmen Nelms was second.

That's just a neat flip. Also neat, capturing a tumble entirely by accident. Note the ad in the background.

Swan dive!

The ever solid Julie Dwyer was the team's high scorer, leading on bars, second on the vault, first on the floor (with the classic gymnastics pose no less) and second on the beam.

Gies also had a season high on the beam, but A.J. Mills led the way and tied for second in the team score with Lindsey Puckett.

Always great to see the gymnasts -- and look forward to seeing them again in a few weeks. It is difficult to appreciate how hard they work at their craft, but I admire them all. Even the Alabama ones, but slightly less.

Later on the Alabama campus there was Denny Chimes, where they enshrine their football captains. Lots of great names there, but sadly some of the older ones from the 50s are fading fast. The University really should do something about that. As prideful as they are of their history, one of the centerpieces is weathering poorly.

To commemorate the visit to the walk of fame, I got sacked on Brodie Croyle's slab. Seemed appropriate. Read the names out loud and marveled at how closely together Kenny Stabler and Joe Namath's markers are. Mike Shula's sits off on the other side, happily it has not been defaced. Guess they liked the guy well enough as a quarterback to live his piece of concrete alone.

Here's Gorgas Library, where they close down early, no matter how hard the students are struggling through hefty tomes of Little Golden Books.

This area was once dominated by the Rotunda, but the campus was burned late in the Civil War. Nothing remained, but in the 1980s the foundation was discovered again under a few inches of soil. History recalls one photograph of what is recalled as a beautiful building.

And, the last shot as the night grew colder is of Tuomey Hall, completed in 1888, the same year the campus got electric power.

Of which I'm out. Good night!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Not a lot of interest today, calm lunch under Beirut burning on the television. Some afternoon plans at work fell through temporarily, to be revived tomorrow.

Finished my thank you cards for the holidays, got on so much of a roll I wrote out two extras. Hopefully I'm covered now. Just after I finished catching up on that I got two consecutive phone calls from some of those special people life throws your way, so it was nice to hear tiny bits of good news from each of them.

Did a little computer work after that, just one more check off the list. That list is getting delightfully narrow too, which means a website relaunch is coming soon. There will be some new features highlighting some neat historical things. They'll be works in progress, so you'll have to visit them weekly or so if you're interested.

The additions will ultimately include slideshows, more audio, buttons, news and old photographs of a few different styles. I can't give away any more just now.

It won't become as voluminous, or out of control, or as good, but I'm chasing James Lileks' cataloging of things at this point. Mine might be even more esoteric, but certainly not as good.

I try to reach up that high from time to time, falling short at every turn, but The Yankee (theme)just informed me that the writing around here has gotten better. Probably sometime just after discovering Lileks I'd bet.

Speaking of slideshows Kelly has finished the first stack of work I gave her (Ready to reconsider yet, Kel?) and she has done such a great job that I can't wait to show them off. But that's a feature of the new version of the site, v28.9 no doubt. I started this page on my university server in 1996 and have lost count of most everything else about it, suffice it to say the changes have been numerous, the winner has been you.

Except now I'm the winner, because Kelly created some great slideshows. All I did was take the pictures and record the sound, she made the magical part happen.

This entire exercise tonight has been a study in padding. Not to worry, I'm starting a new list, it will involve delivering on some of the things I've promised myself I'd post on the site.

But, first, since I'm listening to an old recording of the Whitehouse singings, how about another clip?

There are Great Mansions is the first one I ran across at this late hour. This is a 2004 recording and interesting for a few reasons. One is the loud=good lady. This particular singing had two of them. One a little off key and the other making a reasonable stab at soprano. You can hear the first of those ladies here, and while that person -- every church has one -- makes some people roll their eyes she just makes me smile. May as well pour some milk and make some cookies, because that sound is home.

The other, and far more interesting thing about that clip is that I can hear my uncle in there. He's a song leader himself and has a beautiful and distinctive voice. At the 2005 Whitehouse singing (where that picture is from, actually) I heard him from across the room long before I saw him. Here -- and my mother might disagree when she gets around to seeing this -- I think I've found him twice, singing two different parts as he'll do from time to time.

Listen again.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Two years -- and one major blog design -- ago I learned a valuable lesson.
I learned something new today. If you go to Lowe's in a suit, they go to great lengths to tell you every little thing you need to know about what you're buying. A very nice man just gave me a four minute lecture on handrail brackets. I appreciate it sir, but there are only five screws, even I can't mess this up.

So, the next time you have to buy something from the hardware store that you aren't sure how to install, just dress in your Sunday best.
Last night, while plotting out my day today, I recalled that lesson, but did not heed it. Today I went to Lowe's in jeans and was pretty much ignored right up until checking out.

But I got two ceiling fans. I did not, however, get a 12 volt battery. Apparently Lowe's -- which asks me "Let's build something together" like a girl in need of a tangible reference for the security of her relationship -- only wants to build, but not power the structure signifying our enduring efforts to create something.

This is problematic, but I'm betting that Radio Shack, who'd insist rather forcefully to having answers to their relationship's questions, will in fact have this answer tomorrow.

I'm further betting that the answer is, "Yes, right over there" or "Twelve who?"

Two college girls flirted with me in passing tonight. I'm such the ladies man. It was actually more "Hi" and pleasantries than flirt, I'm just making sure you stay awake for the good stuff yet to come.

I was out for dinner, enjoying the usual Zaxby's over the new issue of Smithsonian Magazine when they came inside the restaurant. They were friendly girls who, I'm guessing, were impressed only because I appeared literate where some of their friends hadn't heard of the Smithsonian.

But I'm painting with a broad brush, here, I know.

Didn't get far into the magazine tonight. My sandwich came out fast, I must have been chewing quickly, but I did get through the My Town feature.

Oddly they haven't posted that on the website yet, so I can't link to it for you just yet. When was the last time anyone got something in print before the online version was available? Odd, that.

Fun links: I've been hoarding William Shatner clips for a while, so I might as well share. Here's Shatner and James Doohan in a good English power commercial. Shatner and Leonard Nimoy reminisce in a clip that will single-handedly make me pick up this DVD. Shatner opened George Lucas' AFI Life Achievement Award, saying "You can call me 'Mr. Shatner.' That's four-and-a-half surreal minutes. Dancing storm troopers and spoken word adaptations of "I Did It My Way" will do that though.

And finally, Shatner instructs us on How to Handle a Woman, as penned by Richard Burton.

Which brings to mind a good idea for the fanatically devoted: a nice long All I Ever Need to Know in Life I Learned from William Shatner collage. Take it. It's yours.

And, finally, submitted without comment.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Brian snubbed me at lunch today. He had to leave the office for some work, on his way back he impulsively stopped at Jim 'N' Nicks and didn't think to call in case I wanted anything. He's an altogether together guy who dropped the ball. Both hands did. Together.

I guess he was fixating on those fries.

I gave him the best guilt trip I could muster, I've invited this guy into my world. We're friends, he joins the group for Pie Day. We've shared birthdays and graduations together!

I did not add holidays, hurricanes or tactless jokes. Those were implicit. Others joined in, it was apparently pile-on Brian day.

Brian replied, "How can I face you or Kenny when either of you have website/computer/wifi/tivo problems ever again."

Touche, good sir. Touche.

Maybe four people will have the full context for that story. I only included it to see if it would carry over. His wife, when I told her about it, didn't laugh nearly as hard as I'd hoped.

Later I found myself at the mall. I was heading to an evening movie, so I decided to do a little shopping. Stared at kids playing video games, breezed through the Sears hardware and appliances departments, watched kids build their bears, walked through CompUSA, dropped off a donation to the Salvation Army nearby, found two books there that will go in the To Do stack.

Started one, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius over dinner tonight. I saw someone eat a steak on television late last night and that seemed like a good idea. The only place to eat a steak early this morning would have been Waffle House and, having both a strict once-a-year-Waffle-House and a no-mad-cow-disease policies I decided to wait.

So there I was, shelling peanuts at the steakhouse, waiting on a tender sirloin, reading 30 pages of brilliant, scattered preface.

David Eggers is an editor at McSweeney's, which I've been reading for some time. You should be too.

All this because I wondered aloud what I would be doing with my time were it not for the internet.

"Reading. A lot," said The Yankee. Sounds about right. I know just the stack to start with. And these two, memoirs from the Salvation Army for less than four bucks, will be the new car books.

Sounds like a song that you just know will be sad, doesn't it? Memoirs from the Salvation Army.

With steak partially cooked and thoroughly eaten I wound up at the dollar theater for Flags of Our Fathers:
Fantastic story that suffers only because it tries telling too many stories.
Make sense? The movie isn't about the battle on Iwo Jima so much as it uses that as a jumping off point from which everything else hinges. There are flashbacks, but they turn out to be further-flashbacks because the movie is actually contemporaneous because the narrative is told by the son of one the survivors trying to make sense of it all.

Someone suggested that The History Channel has handled Iwo Jima better, and that's pretty fair, but only because this tries to hard. Here we have three time periods, three main characters, references to important people met only in passing and then we find the true voice of the movie almost as prologue. We cram all that in two hours.

This is a war movie, bear that in mind, and one of the "war is hell" variety. There are places when what you see is "palatable" within the cinematic frame of reference. There are other places where what you see out Private Ryan's Saving Private Ryan. Quiz your date on this before watching.

The best part of the movie, and this is two in a row now, where the credits, where historical photos were used opposite the actors. It is incredibly moving to watch a movie like this and consider people sitting in chairs like these staring at the old pictures and looking for their fathers and grandfathers. I did, and my great-grandfather was in Europe.

Later I breezed through TiVo, but the EvIl one couldn't win tonight. I was too busy falling asleep on the sofa. So I tried looking up the answer to today's earlier riddle. Why did they bother with those lame PSAs at the end of the GI Joe cartoon?

The internet doesn't know, or is at least reticent on the subject. But there's no shortage of humor. Plenty of PSA parodies.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Odd day. The temperature, cold as it was to start, only got colder. We're trained to assume the opposite. Day equals sun equals warmer, but not today.

Oh it only dipped a degree and a decimal after that. And while I was bundled in jacket and gloves on the way into work I only work the jacket on the way home. I don't use my car's heater much, I don't know why. There's probably a subconscious fuel consumption issue or a fear of carbon monoxide entering the passenger compartment, but mostly I equate it to centenarian. Tell us your secret to long life?

"Why clean living, simple foods, chasing girls and not using the heater, of course."

So there's that. And the truth that I'm breaking 230,000 miles this week. Who needs a heater when you've got soft fleece gloves?

An old friend stopped by the house today, we chatted and schemed. The first thing he said was about the observation that I'd put on some weight. The last thing he said was that he had too. Of course we haven't seen each other in five or seven years. We've all put on weight, I suppose.

Hands down if you haven't. The rest of us don't need the shining examples of healthy consistency.

I was actually doing very well before the holidays. Very well. I was almost down a second size in the waist. Then, because of the holidays, I went up to the largest annoying one. Now I'm back down to the first mark of improvement. If I can make it back to that second one -- give me a couple of weeks -- I'll be in fighting trim.

So that'll mean renewed dedication. I'll start in February, right about the time that the resolutionists have thrown in the towel. I'm more of a straight line than convex, but I aspire to being concave once again.

Sitting on the couch doesn't help, but there's TV to get through. I have a small mound of things the TiVo recorded over the weekend. Four episodes of Scrubs, but the EvIl eye is getting lax: I've already seen three of these. Three original Star Trek episodes. Two of which, Day of the Dove and Spectre of the Gun, I've seen several times. Day of the Dove just gets harder to watch. Spectre of the Gun has remained a guilty pleasure, even if it does show the handwriting on the wall.

For the World Is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky was a new one to me and relatively annoying. McCoy is dying of an incurable disease and a civilization is hurtling to an unitended doom, on a collision course with another planet, but we'll have it all solved in 40 of your Earth minutes.

Can't get over the quality of the remastered work though. The version I watched was not so finely touched. The missiles didn't look that great. But still, last year I watched an episode for the eleventy billionth time and was struck and saddened by how the visual quality was dark and degraded. Even when you're watching the old versions, there's a grateful feeling.

Star Trek Remastered: Altered Vision.

Is that a fan-made movie yet? If not, and you have a development deal, you're welcome to it.

The Bauer Hour! Here's an episode where our guy makes a few calls, climbs a house and saves a guy from a burning helicopter -- good thing that traffic guy knew where to look, huh? -- and drove a bit.

Not much has happened, yet this is still exciting. We're learning about Jack's family. His dad is some sort of defense contractor and this season they are Evil. Jack's pater familias has had drinks with an old Soviet general it seems. And that guy was shopping nukes, according to our deus ex terrorist, Assad the Good, who wanted to buy some and then got a bout of the conscience shakes.

Who's willing to side with me that Assad is going to roll over on the government (and we're talking alligator death roll) when they get him to Washington D.C. in a few hours? He's playing everything just so, isn't he? It is that cunning side of Bashir that hid behind the darts and the fumbling over girls on Terok Nor. Nice enough guy, the young doctor, but push him too far and you'll come up with an air embolism cooked up in the Delta Quadrant. The man's already driven a sharp object through another terrorist's meniscus after all. They're going to need a twist and I'm betting that President Palmer the Younger won't be so placcid with a terrorist screaming fatwas from 18 inches away. Incidentally, Wayne Palmer has been a middling player in the series until this season, yet look at his backstory. That detail is what's great about the show. Giving us titles of his aides would make it better.

Did you know that you can now buy the premier episodes of this season of 24? Show to shelves in less than 12 hours. Jack was impressed. But only slightly. He doesn't have time to watch you gloat about your little DVD's, he's got a nation to save.

A nation that just this morning sacrificed him after having narrowly paid for his return from the Chinese. And they've yet to feed him mind you. These things aren't lost on Jack Bauer, and someone will rue the day. Rue it like a simple middle-man beaten up just after lunch.

This must be a joke for the people behind the show. There's a story that they learned about a drinking game some kids were playing based on things Jack would saying during each episode, so they loaded it up and giggled over their contribution to 21st Century cirrhosis.

So Jack's made some calls, drove a bit, saved a helicopter pilot from certain death and is putting the family back together.

His brother, of course, is Dr. Romano, of the still-unnamed Trilateral Commission Big Oil conglomerate, who now have hereditary ties to weapons makers. The whole thing is cribbed from Masters of War. Funny, when I first heard that song years ago I never thought of Kiefer Sutherland as the narrator.

Coming up next: true sibling torture. Jack gave his brother the coldest line of the season so far, one they've built promos around, so that's exciting. And now we're going to have to wait until next week for the beatdown.

(My we're an anxious lot. Twelve thousand dead in the nuclear explosion and we want bad guy bodies! Now!)

He bagged him!

(That will have a name by next week, I assure you, and unfortunately tried by a six-year-old. Jack says don't kids. Don't.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Rainy, cold, yucky day. The perfect day to sit indoors and watch way too much NFL football. The first such week of the season for me did not disappoint. Championship games so rarely do. I like the way the Bears play football, and they handled New Orleans well. I like watching the Colts brand of ball too, and they took part in an historic come-from-behind victory.

So the two of them, the Bears and Colts, will set up an interesting (or underwhelming) Super Bowl in two weeks.

A bear can always take a colt, cute and unassuming as they are. These Bears are rather ferocious. So naturally that means Indy by 23.

Rained constantly today. Drizzled during the afternoon over sandwiches. Poured during the evening over pizza. Rain is winter in the South and most of today was spent trying to stay warm and recharging the batteries for another week.

And football. And pizza.

More tomorrow I'm sure.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Today was a Picture Day, would that the weather cooperated.

Turned out to be a bit overcast, but the world wasn't worse for it. If the number of pictures was the only thing that suffered then so be it. These are the shortcomings of January that can be lived with.

Went to a very high end part of town, where a four bedroom house is selling for a cool million. That's right, four fireplaces, shower to die for, some original hardwood, closets with windows, private alley drive and close enough to hear the neighbors wheeze: One million dollars.

That's a location buy friends. Nice house it was, once vaguely unreachable round number of diminishing importance it was not.

In the open house part of the show a stranger remarked that you could give the neighbors a show if you were inclined to go curtainless, and presumably some other -less. More to the point, for a million bucks I'd like to ask about the shows the neighbors are prepared to provide the new owner.

I'm not shopping for a house, but I'm learning the important questions to ask.

Stopped by a half-priced bookstore. I've been many things in bookstores and libraries: overwhelmed, distracted, sleepy, awed, bored. Never claustrophobic.

Hit a few kitchsy places and walked up the street hoping to find a bit more, but striking out. On the way back to the car I might Dwight, who has been sober a year. Good for Dwight, nice guy too.

Saw some flowers blooming far too early. Makes me happy today, but upon reflection in March we'll be melancholy that our golds are already greens.

Not a bad day to be out, could have been colder, but the jet stream was kind. Too overcast for most of the day for pictures, but even that wasn't terribly uninviting. With skies like these, who needs winter a real winter?

So the IKEA store instead. This is a new experience. One part career fair and one part state fair. Lots of milling about and flowing with the crowd and seeing neat things that you hadn't even realized you needed until that precise moment. And that's ultimately the difference between IKEA and every other store. The rest are set up with the presumption that you might need, like or want something they have to offer. IKEA has it in so many words, "Go ahead, grab a bag, you'll need it for all the stuff we're going to make you haul out of here."

At first buying something seemed the thing to do, oh I looked, but I escaped and now feel like I can gloat about overcoming the gentle Swedish brainwashing. There were lots of interesting things there. Lights and stands and tables will all catch the eye, but they were coming up short on picture frames, which is the one thing I already needed before walking in the store.

I especially liked the displays on living in limited square footage. Oh it is all very brilliant, how you can put so much of the real world into 300-some square feet. But you're milling through and spending about 90 seconds in there, "Oh, the table and sofa could be arranged like this!" and moving on. Live it for your standard apartment lease and you might feel different.

The fun thing to do in those displays though is to lay in wait behind the shower curtain for the first person that comes along and decide to have a go at the tile.

This works better if you only consider the dangers of pre-existing heart conditions after the fact.

And also if a woman scowls at you for the next five or six minutes as you snake your way through the place.

Later we did Italian and I enjoyed the shrimp penne in a garlic sauce. Soon thereafter it was time for a movie, but theater and restaurant are too far apart, lines are too long at the concession stand for buying tickets. The second unfortunate change one encounters at the dollar theater establishment is the occasional absence of the box office. The first, of course, is deteriorating screening rooms. Cheap people call this character.

This theater had some character, but the night was passed playing video games instead of watching a movie.

So Crazy Taxi instead. Still an addictive game, despite the relative age. The key, I learned after a dollar, was in how you parked when dropping off your fares. Park is too kind a verb. Screeching to a haphazard stop, a controlled, sliding crash, these would be better. Anything so long as the front end isn't blocked when the customer is gone.

And, having nothing else to say, that's what I'll be.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Technology is an amazing thing. I'm 149 miles away but can still watch a baby panda. As I write this Mei Lan is nursing. When you watch the pandas might be playing. We can all watch together, though, and feel that stirring that only pandas can give.

And, then, soon, the panda fad will recede. The news out of Atlanta has been breathless about one of the few giant panda's born in captivity in recent years. Makes sense; pandas aren't the most prolific parents, the numbers in the wild are scarce, every new rare one is a victory. And a windfall for the zoo. The Atlanta Zoo is expecting some 13,500 visitors per day.

But not today. She'll be in the public's eye soon enough, but for now you can watch online. Technology is an amazing thing.

Later, for Pie Day we've made friends with Gary, who's waited on our table for three straight appearances at this particular restaurant. He's gone from being unimpressed by the longevity of Pie Day (perhaps he didn't believe us) to telling his co-workers all about the event.

He brought a waitress out to meet us. Usually we get acquainted over time, but now there are introductions.

Even Ward, SuperWaiter to the Stars, hasn't done that.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Less rainy and more cold. It lends itself to tolerance. Rain, sure. Cold, if we must. Cold and rainy is too much for the psyche when you're mentally in March. Made it to 46 degrees today and there's no reason to complain; I know people who never broke freezing today and they haven't said the first ill word.

No one has checked to see if their jaws are frostbitten though.

Pandora threw me for two loops this morning. It called up a Bob Seger I had no desire to hear. By the end I wanted to hear Bob Seger, because I'd been forced into hearing Still the Same by Rod Stewart.

No, but thanks.

An hour or so later as the work day continued All I Have to Do Is Dream came on, but not The Everly Brothers. The Glen Campbell version.

My musical sensibilites are so confused.

Maybe some actual Everly Brothers. I love the internet. That's a 2:27 clip of musical grace from Rock-a-Teen that would have been lost to the ages, consigned to viewing only by the owner and a few of his guests.

Lately the big Everly Brothers song for me has been Bird Dog.

The internet wasn't invented for things like this, but unintended consequences can sometimes yield to pure coolness like this tribute to Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Things like this would have disappeared, out into space, sure, where alien anthropologists will study music for years while debating how much contact they want with us, but space was the only place. Now people in Norway can discover it as well.

I'm huge in Norway. Someone surfed here by looking for Jack Bauer's killrate, and I'm the number one hit on Google in both nations for that. So, "Velkommen. Glede seg over det Everly Brothers."

Wonder how many weeks and months it'll be before a correction Email comes in on that ...

Mall shopping today. A few stores seem to be closing down, and I'm the carrion bird your mother warned you about. Picked up a few small things, all the while remembering that I could still do better on most of this stuff through Amazon.

Caught up on a few conversations and friendships and came home to do laundry. "You're always doing laundry," one friend said. It only seems that way. I think it is a default statement though, not as an excuse, but just something that I apparently say a few times a week, sayeth this one friend. The ratio of saying it to doing it is only slightly less than 100 percent, but tonight it must be done.

And so it will be.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Rainy and cold. Or if you don't like that you can have a slice of cold and rainy. For dinner this evening there'll be even colder.

When I went to the grocery store the aerosol cans were flying off the shelves. Three days in and everyone else is tired of this already too.

That's the thing about the South. We get all worked up over snow flurries and entire cities can shut down if a bridge ices over. I've always tried to be conscientious of this in the working media. The hysteria is big enough, I try not to add to it too much. Besides, I've yet to get the first kickback from the dairy, eggs or bread people. Some meteorologists might be seeing that money, but reporters don't.

The problem lies in last Sunday actually. January and in the 70s. That's how we ordered it up, to be sure. And now we have this. Having spring and summer 98 percent of the year really makes this little stretch stand out in contrast. In literary terms you'd call that a foil, around here we consider it a deliberate choice to live somewhere warm.

Meanwhile, the surface temperature in Somewhere, Colorado, this morning was around 30 below. The people of Craig, Colorado are all most assuredly good and decent folks, and it looks like a beautiful place, but yeesh.

Hobby Lobby this afternoon to drop off another of the great framing projects. A very nice older lady, deliberate and informative in the way that NPR broadcast carries you home in the afternoon. She talked me through every step, insisted I peer over her shoulder while she drew a visual representation of what I wanted. She was hands on in the way that few are anymore, and that makes it odd. Pleasing, but odd.

The theory here once was that a satisfied customer would tell one friend about your service, but a dissatisfied customer would tell ten and goodbye business. I submit that that model has flipped. We've become so accustomed to inferior quality we've come to accept it, not complain about it or even give it a second thought. It must be really sub-standard (or a restaurant) before anyone even bothers to say anything. By contrast, when you get a nice lady helping you as I did today you must tell everyone.

Come to think of it she even looked like I imagine everyone involved with NPR. A pretty older lady finally going gray, resistant to using her reading glasses, "But sometimes you just have to."

So my first project was arranged, and apparently I'm asking framers and matte cutters to change their whole approach to their work. This always takes a bit of time. But she's pleasant and I don't mind the time. We move on to the second project, where I'm looking to frame two World War II newspapers I found last October.

She called in the expert, an older gentleman who once owned a framing a shop of his own, and together we came up with a few options, the wisest being one I'm not entirely sold on, so I'll be soliciting expert opinions the rest of the week.

So there was the grocery store and buying up things since the end of modern Western civilization is nigh; the temperatures are slipping. As if to prove the point it was sleeting when I got home. Not a large inconvenience or safety concern, it was melting before it touched your skin, but it sounded pretty landing in the leaves.

Watched Hang 'em High. I haven't seen this in years, but it is worth watching again, just to marvel at alternately good and bad Clint Eastwood moments.

It occurs to me that he might have been the prototype from which Jack Bauer originates. Right about the time when the sheriff sends him off to deal with a murder there's a moment where he considers whether his revenge is greater than the need to pursue justice. The man was hanged after all, so I understand the thinking hard, but there's a big swath of gray in there in that one little sigh. Had he turned his horse toward revenge, or to Inger Stevens, it wouldn't have been a surprise.

Had Jack knifed the guy explaining about his parent's murder you wouldn't be surprised about that either.

This isn't the first entrance in that category of course, Clint had the Dollar's Trilogy with Sergio Leone after all, but this is the first western I've watched since 24 came back on so it seems an appropriate comparison. Jack's a cowboy. Jack and truckers, the last of the cowboys, though few of them have saved the day in an action sequence sense.

A faux action sequence in Knights of Prosperity tonight, where I realized my local ABC affiliate didn't air or my TiVo didn't record the second episode. So this is the third one, where they continue training to rob Mick Jagger and Rockefeller says ...

Something else you should hear has to do with something you might have heard about. Congressman David Wu (D-Oregon) made a rather bad Star Trek reference in the House recently. Bad because he wiffed somewhat on the metaphor, but mostly because Star Trek was never really intended for Congress. Somewhere, though, Gene Rodenberry laughed at this, and then he had a chuckle with what the Daily Show did on the story.

That would seem to make it ... the rest of the story. Ooh, that's a comparison no one has made yet: Jon Stewart as the modern Paul Harvey.

Sorta makes the head spin.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mom is off to north Alabama and family. She met us for lunch at Surin, where the hot coconut soup seemed a good idea with temperatures hovering at 30 degrees. By contrast, Monday it was 68, Sunday the high was 74 and the sky was beautiful. Today looked like the day where you'd film all the bleak scenes in your film. But those are different days.

The real killer is when we have 74 and 30 in the same day. That day'll be here soon surely.

Made it home right on time this afternoon and settled in for the weekly ritual of staring at the EvIl eye in awe. Just a few episodes of Star Trek to work through and then I can be productive.

Watched Assignment: Earth, an episode I've seen exactly .75 times. Once before in syndication when the local station decided to drop the program at the critical moment when a sublimely disinterested Robert Lansing is sitting on top of the launch pad trying to sabotage an orbital nuclear weapons platform.

Finally I can see the best part ... and suddenly it came and went. Glad I hadn't lost any sleep over this one. Gary Seven is a great character, I've read a few of his appearances, but by the end of this episode he just petered out. And this was originally a pilot for a spin off. The episode also notably featured a young Teri Garr in one of her first prominent roles.

I've always enjoyed the time travel, multi-universe, space-time continuum episodes the most, but this one is so cavalier about it as to not even matter as a plot point. Kirk, after all, beams up two cops and then sits them back down without so much as a word. In Tomorrow is Yesterday they almost kidnapped two American servicemen because of their inadvertant presence on the Enterprise.

I'm the worst kind of casual Star Trek fan. I'll allow for space travel, talking aliens and the most willing suspension of disbelief. Mess up the continuity in a time travel episode -- or use an actor in different roles -- and it bothers me for days.

Also watched and slept through Wink of an Eye. I have only petty complaints about this episode, though I doubt it fits into the category of "about 30" of the original series episodes which are considered good. This is one of the digitally remastered episodes and the external space shots of the Enterprise and planet below are especially beautiful. If you haven't been watching, check out the video preview here. (You can compare stillshots of old to new here.)

Anyway there was webpage work after that. Made some real progress on developing a big site that now only has about two significant hurdles left to go. Designing from someone else's template is fun because you can make small changes and learn what they do, but designing from a template is tedious because you have to make small changes and learn what they do. Calming, peaceful work though.

And it leads nicely into Denny Crane! Denny, it seems, is on a terrorist No Fly list. Alan Shore decides to help Denny take on Homeland Security (Jack Bauer is busy elsewhere, probably saving both attorney's lives) and through the miracle of television bureaucracy is given a wake up call, Denny gets his satisfaction and justice is served all in one episode.

I love fiction.

Alan's closing argument, which should have been a spectacular presence thundering away at the government from a populist stance was limited to a conversation on iPods. He had a bunch of other Denny Cranes stand up, which has me singing this. How did Shatner turn a rap song into a spoken word performance? He found a way.

More Clarice, Alan antagonizes Denise and a teacher escapes a suit over a peanut induced death.

It should be said that Denise's last name is Bauer. All of my television programs are coming together. I can't wait for the Cylons to show up on Scrubs.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King Day is a day of service, or work. I had the latter today, and that's just fine. Presumably everyone else was off doing community events because the place was empty.

Got home to straighten up for Mom, who's flying back into Birmingham today and may be using the house as a crash pad.

Yep. That's going to happen later. No, come on through. We'll grab dinner when you get here.

What's that? Plane delayed? No dinner for me then.

That was mostly the afternoon. Missed out on an e-bay item because Firefox chose that moment as the one time this month it will lock up. Moved the dishes around, did some hasty laundry, took out the garbage, wondered about the persistence of sugar on linoleum. Earlier in the weekend I knocked a gallon of tea off the counter, the fall splitting the plastic counter and spraying the sweet nectar of the gods across the kitchen floor. Mop, mop, mop some more. Tonight: still a tad bit sticky.

Mom arrives. Recounts her weekend. She is presented with a photograph book commemorating our trip last month to Savannah. (Here, here, here, here and here.) It was well received, which makes perfect sense because the photographs were beautiful and full of happy memories and put together with care and love.

These are the gifts we've taken to giving lately, the ones denoting happy moments. We have everything else in abundance, happy moments too, but one can never have enough of the memories that recall those happy moments. That's a commodity.

Jack Bauer had another two-parter this evening. This is the way to watch the show. Who needs the prospect of 24 weeks of this? Let's knock them out in a couple of months. Builds more drama.

For example, the suburban terrorist is miffed over phonetics. And his less than bright American neighbor -- Ha! American kid dumb! He needs help from a Middle Eastern student! -- brings the armed terrorist into his home. Scott, you are so grounded! Except for Scott's mother then dresses his wound. And Scott's father winds up doing the young terrorist's bidding. Why does this family hate America?

So this big group of suspected terrorists --

"Excuse me, but in the terror marketing game we prefer to call them 'Freedom Fighters ...'"

My bad. So yeah, these guys are going to be freed because all this president knows how to do is to cater to terrorists! (There's a saying in politics that voters get what they deserve, if so the last few presidents have showed us to be lacking.) Anyway we're waiting on Jack and Curtis and Assad the Good to save the day.

Bad guy gets tracked to a self-storage unit -- those guys simply can't be trusted -- where he has laptops and munitions. After a brief shootout that bad guy dies and they save the hand grenaded laptop enough to know we're talking all things nuclear. From here we learn that it isn't all those prisoners at Palmdale that Fayed the Bad wants freed, but one particular one. That one's missing. A sergeant on the take (Everybody's got a price.) let's him escape, but without giving him a change of clothes.

Orange jumpsuit or no, that guy gets to where he's going. Soon thereafter a key component arrives, delivered by Scott's suburban American dad. He's just trying to do the right thing you understand, and only killed one guy in the process. Get this: He is mystified when the bad guys, one of whom was previously holding his son and wife, won't let him go upon delivery.

Well the mother was released and she called Jack Bauer. That's right, gone two years and now using a stolen cell phone he's still on every West Coaster's speed dial. Jack speeds over to the house where his pals shoot and kill the junior terrorist. Scott, now making his one contribution to what has become a really bad morning, remembers where dad was told to go.

Right about now the pardon comes through for Assad the Good. Twenty years of terrorism wiped out with a form letter and a few keystrokes, what a country. So Assad the Good is wanted by only one man now, and that's Jack's superfriend Curtis, who remembers Assad the Bad from the Gulf War and wants vengence. Or justice. Possibly venjustice. A standoff ensues and ...

Jack shot Curtis!

Sorta makes the tactical nuclear explosion seem anticlimatic.

One thing about that ... Scott's dad -- the suburban man with the suburban plan who delivered the key component and was SHOCKED it would be used for nefarious means, despite delivering it under duress? -- Scott's dad stood there and let that happen. Next week we'll find out how many people died because he couldn't muster up a shoulder tackle.

And Jack is out ... having shot Curtis ... but he's reinvigorated upon seeing the nearby mushroom cloud. He's crying manly tears and the terrorists will, in the next few hours, realize the four weapons they still have won't be enough.

For more Jack Bauer fun, visit the random facts, there are 2628 at last count.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Coming to you live, on location from ... yes, The Birmingham Museum of Art.

That's Looking Down Yosemite Valley, California. From 1863 this is a piece that amazed viewers in the east because that was as much of the west as most of the painting's admirers had seen. That's a piece of the world we'll soon forget: there was a time when you couldn't know or find everything. Now the knowledge is only a keyboard and DSL line away.

Beautiful painting, donated to the Birmingham Public Library in 1929 and then taken to the museum in the 1970s, it has remained a prominent piece since.

The museum is moderately lit, as these things go, and they don't like flash photography, so you're limited to what looks good after the fact, like Giuseppe Moretti's Indian Head sculpted around the turn of the 20th Century. Moretti is, of course, the man behind Vulcan. He wound up in Alabama because of that commission and stayed because he found what he considered some of the finest marble in the world. (Here's more of his work, perhaps most notably this one. And if you didn't think the Roman god of the forge and Jesus could be interwined think again.)

Alabama: Come for the commission, stay for the stone!

Somewhere between 1888 and 1904 he carved Indian Head. You can't see it in the picture, but on the floor the man wears a single feather. With that landscape in the background this sculpture always reminds me of this guy.

There's also random blown glass to brighten your day, one of the few displays of contemporary art at the museum that makes sense to a simpleton like me.

One of the bigger successes of this museum is the international displays. Japan, Korea, European baroque (a temporary exhibit) and more are out right now, including pieces from Thailand and Tibet, like Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara. This is supposed to be a compassionate Buddha, but these always look a little more aggressive to me. Maybe I'm too western, but there's just something about the lower faces that looks more intent than compassionate.

Of course, if I had 11 faces and 1,000 arms I'd be prone to misinterpreted expressions too.

Closer to epistemological home are the sculptures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (l-r) by Il Torretto (Giuseppe Bernardi) mid-18th Century. Yeah, we have a whole wing of Italian Renaissance, our art museum is that good.

Later there have been adventures at Bed, Bath and Beyond where I realized I could do three paragraphs on the American Idol Shower Radio. That'd be three more paragraphs than I'll devote to the show, or more time than I'll spend on Fox between now and sweeps, so I won't.

Two paragraphs instead, then. On the back of the box it has a little diagram highlighting all of the awesome features this awesome American Idol Shower Radio of Awesomeness will bring to your own ceramic/tiled studio. A suction cup, an FM tuner, a volume dial and an "official American Idol medallion" logo. Criminey.

A trip to DSW brought the lesson that men with large feet have an unreasonable expectation for brown dress shoes. Of course this is also the store trying to convince me today that I should spend $40 for Chuck Taylors. Canvas and hard, thoughtless rubber, people. Forty bucks? Hadn't realized inflation had gotten so bad, but when the shoes soar the rest of the economy is sure to follow.

Started Season Two of Boston Legal. Watching the first episode before dinner tonight. Edwin Starr's nephew played, good God y'all. What does it say for me that now whenever I think of the song "War" I think of Jackie Chan singing it in Rush Hour? Terrible really.

Heather Locklear appears in this episode and I remain unimpressed. Maybe it was bad camera angles, but she had a few shots that looked downright scary. Denny was in full attack mode though, and that's always a delight, but it is turning a bit bittersweet for me. I've been watching episodes that were new to me, but with this start of the second season I know that's coming to an end. Somewhere in here was where I started watching regularly and when I reach that point the eternal drama vs. comedy debate will end. The jokes will still be funny, but they'll be a little more familiar. The brilliant thing about Boston Legal is in how they deliver the punchlines in a handful of tiny little explosive moments. Even when they're coming it still feels sudden and unexpected, like the cough that gives you fits or the mid-drink laugh that loses you friends. Worn jokes are still good, but they'll have a different level of unabashed sneakiness.

They'll still fit, they'll just wear like comfortable old jeans instead of a fresh, new suit with a shimmering neon tie with matching hankie.

What did not fit was a new mariachi group at the Mexican restaurant. First they were in different outfits, and then noticably smaller and finally we recognized they weren't the same guys. Four instead of seven or so will be easier to walk through, but the other guys have been there for years.

The new guys have a version of Cheeseburger in Paradise, but it isn't that charming, rushed version of Devil Went Down to Georgia or loosely translated Sweet Home Alabama.

After dinner Brooke and Stephen held a showing of a Season Three Newsradio epsiode. Dave's Canadian, it turns out, but not a spy. Hilarity ensues.

Jack Bauer doesn't have time for funny. America is burning, we jump in mid-way through as the heartland is ablaze and now the bad guys have taken out a bus in Los Angeles. Have they no deceny?

Jack's been rather isolated, having enjoyed the sauna treatment in China where he's been held as a prisoner for the better part of two years. He's cut and scarred and his hand looks horrible, but at least they were feeding him well. Problem is he's been eating lots of chinese, by midmorning he'll be starvning. But most pressingly, as 24 returns he comes home to die.

The Chinese just wanted to torture him you see, but his own country wants to kill him. Or trade him to a terrorist for the head of another terrorist. Welcome home Jack! Time to die. Only things aren't what they seem -- and Jack's always ticked about that don't you know? -- and the terrorist brokering the deal is really the bad guy, hoping to have a rival terrorist turned peacenik offed by the U.S. military in exchange for sweet familial revenge on Jack.

So Jack comes home, gets a shave and a haircut -- never doubt the recuperative powers of a close shave -- and then is taken away by the terrorist. That guy stabs at the never centers in his arm, incapacitating Jack's left arm for a good three minutes and 45 seconds. He stabs him in the back or neck with something long and painful looking (fortunately this part was rather vague) and Jack is as dead as this president's re-election hopes (treating with terrorists, shameful sir).

Jack stirs, he rips off the medical monitor, one of the henchmen comes in to give us the old Bones McCoy and ... Jack bites his carotid artery in two! He escapes, hides in the vents and when the bad guys look this way, Count Jackula escapes in the other direction. If only he had a cape ...

So the shoulder-nerve thing has improbably healed -- Mr. Terrorist, don't you know the wooden stake goes through the heart? -- and Jack escapes to an old car with a new phone for some CTU Product Placement.

Jack figures out the truth before the commercial break is over, stops bleeding and is on the road to save the day -- but yet he still can't whip up a tuna on rye, poor guy. Seems the bad terrorist set up the good terrorist and Jack is off to save the good terrorist, Hamri Al-Assad, who turns out to be Julian Bashir! Assad (The Good Terrorist) has a mole in his midst, escapes a helicopter strike with that guy and then Jack tortures him.

Jack's methods of interrogation, post China:
Ask a question.
Ask it louder, implying violence.
Ask it louder still, this time with some physical harm.
Staring at the subject and finding no information in his eyes.
Assad's method:
Ram a shiv through the subject's kneecap.
Get the information.
Bleed the guy out through the gut.
And he's the good terrorist.

Elsewhere a suburban teen is a terrorist, things are really heating up at CTU in a dynamic I couldn't care less about, the boss married the head of Homeland Security who now appears to be the NSA -- and is making absolutely a different kind of argument than the person in that position should be making -- the sniveling little man from last season is an advisor of some type and he wants to go all internment camp FDR-style on people of a certain complexion and the president's sister is a spunky civil rights lawyer.

Oh yes, and Jack and Assad The Good thwart the bombing of a subway train. And here I've learned the second fundamental and important truth of working for CTU. One must have outstanding recuperative powers and the ability of magnetic persuasion.

The ticket guy comes along checking for stubs, pulling a double shift no doubt and a little bit miffed about that, but doing the job because he's a man. He runs across Jack with the "Ticket, please" line and Jack looks intently into the older man's eyes and says "My name is Jack Bauer. I'm a federal agent tracking a man on this train with a bomb. Walk away as if nothing happened."

The man barely hesitates. Why? In a movie from the Highlander series, Jack Bauer offed Dale Carnegie assuming all his knowledge and power. A ticket checker didn't have a chance. The terrorist didn't either. Jack Bauer's back on the job.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Taylor turned four this past week and today was the official celebration, complete with school friends and neighbor friends and church friends and family friends and that means 21 children at Froggy's where they blow up big stacks of rubber and the kids beat you up and the bouncing edges a few months off your life.

Man I love these places.

Froggy's has two rooms of inflatables and two party rooms, so they could conceivably have four different celebrations going on at once. They're shuttling people in and out at their appointed time today. We got ran out of the inflatable room for the next group of kids, but not before plenty of time to run and play and get friction burns on elbows and knees and pretty much any piece of exposed skin.

A boxing ring, complete with oversized gloves and faux headgear, a dual slide and a third maze/slide combo that was the height of toddler wickedness gave the children (little and grown) plenty to do. The kids love it. Here's the birthday girl with her mom. Note the graceful reach of Elizabeth to play and help pull Taylor through the bog of inflatable columns.

Brian's parenting skills differ. Note the form Brian uses. Remember boxing fans, when he shows his hip he's pivoting on his toe, and when he uses the toe it may as well be a K-O. Taylor was outclassed by his reach advantage.

Let's review: Mom and Brian Smash!

Taylor vowed revenge. Something about "You're going down old man!" I couldn't really make it out through the scream.

Taylor had lots of friends and lots of gifts. Since my mother breezed through town yesterday and asked what I was doing today Taylor got an extra gift from her. Why? The four-year-old may or may not remember the person who bought her affection eight months ago, but the buyer remembers well.

So late last night I stopped by my second Wal-Mart of the day -- thereby ensuring good kharma for the next week -- and found a bubble making machine guaranteed to be a big hit.

But now, what you've all been waiting for: Flippy - flippy.

And, finally, I call this one Father and Grandfather talking.

Later at Pie Day we rounded out the table with eight people. Another strong showing and this time on a crowded Saturday night. Nothing too eventful happened, we got the television changed from golf to football -- and you know life is spinning at just the right speed when you can have a big afternoon and follow that up with a nice little note like that.

Huge day: kids had fun, everyone needs naps, no one died, had tv changed from golf to football.

You can really enjoy a cheese biscuit or a slice of lemon pie to round out a day like that.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I spent the last few minutes of a six-day work week listening to Warren Zevon throwing himself at a woman. Why he constantly had to do that will be something philosophers and music experts centuries hence will still wonder. Elvis Costello? Sure, that makes sense. Warren? Even when he wasn't rolling in it, when he was taking a break from rolling it, he should have been rolling in the adoration of women.

I suspect that he was, that that's why the music sounds like it did, because he new the sardonic made people flock because he was simply interesting.

Enjoy every sandwich, indeed. That's what the last half hour of your Friday workday should feel like. Here's where that goes, neatly compartmentalized in a fine carrying case of mental boxes from the Organized Living catalog -- just in case it comes up one day -- and over here we have the rather unkempt and top-heavy pile of fun that the off days are expected to bring. You can do a lot of preparation in those final few minutes. If you're so inclined and the work load obliges and the clock moves slower than the New Hampshire winter.

Warren wrote a song about a Norwegian mercenary fighting in a guerilla war in the Congo, betrayed by a comrade, against whom his ghost wants revenge with a Tommy Gun.

Maybe that last half hour moved a little slower than I thought.

On productivity:
My productivity advice for you - have a kid. That'll keep you from sitting around watching TV all night I can guarantee you. Now it'll be even harder to get things done you actually WANT to get done ...
That picture of Taylor might be from the first day we met. She would have been maybe two-and-a-half, and instantly proves me correct in doing a mugshot with a baby involved. Taylor turned four recently and is celebrating tomorrow.

You saw her picture from last week, she's growing up so fast!

Of course she now considers 10 to be grown, so she should probably be driving just about now.

We've been searching for a Big Wheel for Taylor, something of a last minute idea. Turns out it is a little difficult to find the wonderful old toy -- one that I was never able to enjoy -- because they are of a seasonal nature. Every store seems to be stocking them next week.

They still exist, even in the original red, blue and yellow paint scheme -- we were hunting a girly one for Taylor -- I found them at Playthings Past. That hardly seems appropriate; the Big Wheel is timeless, but the Big Wheel is 35 years old. Focus groups have told us though, kids these days want the shoes with the skates in them, not the Big Wheel. Kids today.

You're semi-regular dose of old fogeyism is now complete.

Later, I met Mom for a snack at the local fast food joint -- Where There's a Star on the Sign and Fries are Brain Surgery! -- for a quick snack. She's passing through from one family visit to another just now and we worked in time for a chat and Hallmark cards.

She flew out with the sun, chasing it west for a time, and I braved Friday rush hour traffic (not too bad for a change) and hit the outlets and Wal-Mart looking for a Big Wheel, but no dice.

Home to straighten up, clean up and get ready for Pie Day. Super Waiter Ward actually joined us for a while, as he finished work early and Pie Day ran late. He was soon off for some grand big adventure and I was off for a pillow. Six-day work-week, I'm spent. And there's a big day tomorrow after all.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

That system I mentioned? Yeah. It plays out like this: Arrive home, watch the last segment of Dodgeball which I've been nursing on TiVo for the past two days, skim the first act of two episodes of Scrubs to verify I've seen them, take out the garbage, throw in a load of laundry and commence to accomplish five tasks sitting in front of the computer for three hours or so.

That shouldn't take so long.

So there's my afternoon. After accomplishing such herculean feats the evening is mostly over, so I retired downstairs for more of the EvIl eye. It caught a few decent programs this evening, so I'll watch them to be ahead of this particular game. Two more episodes of Scrubs I've seen (maybe I've finally watched them all?) while eating a wholly unsatisfying frozen dinner.

Ooh, and chocolate milk! Two big glasses on the day. That's homespun excitement.

Things coming up: I have a big webpage to make, and some additions to my own, followed by a complete relaunch of my site. All that should get through the end of this month. There's a big birthday party this weekend. Two, actually. Same day, and I was torn: four-year-old or 30-year-old. The answer was obvious. You'll see why after the Saturday festivities.

Rocket scientists know a lot of stuff, and they're eager to share it with you. This started out as a 33-minute podcast, but I finally settled on a 25:40 version which you can hear here.

The topic of this podcast was NASA's return to the moon, sometime around 2020. A robotics manager at Marshall Space Flight talked with us about what all that's happened so far and we previewed the why's and what's to come. He's been on the strategy development teams so he's extremely well-versed on the issue. If you've ever looked up at the moon and imagined, you should listen to this one. He also said he'd book my seat. So in a decade and change you'll see me waving at you from the moon.

They want us to dream, so I will.

The whole thing is particularly exciting. After Thanksgiving my family and I
watched a documentary
on the Apollo moon missions and afterward my mother asked about the impact of the moon on our generation. We've always had the moon (Yes, my dear young readers, though you think me old as dirt, 1969 was before my time.) so the experience is more impressive from a historical and technological perspective. I've had the moon like today's high schooler has always had a microwave, like most college seniors don't understand the fuss about Salman Rushdie or kids learning to drive today don't get this whole Cold War thing.

Depressing, no?

But the moon will get you worked up again. We're going to be back there in our lifetime. And not just visiting, but making a home there, producing materials from an alien environment for the first time. Decades from now this'll be seen as a first step. We're going back, for research, practice and to get ready for Mars, the asteriod belt or even to the outer planets. We're ready to go pioneering again.

Maybe fonts and graphic art will develop into a futuristic retro appearance once again. Kelly is a graphic artist at the Space and Rocket Center, I'll put in a good word.

Was the moon in '69 like this for anyone now under 40? Now I can say "No." This is going to be so much more impressive as current events. Webcams from the moon versus images in a textbook, a video clip and the hotly contested grammar of a sentence uttered on another planetary body.

Those lunar linguists, they're a tough lot to satisfy, I'm telling you.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This is an addition to the Wednesday edition. This edition has an addition.

This edition's addition is as follows:

I'm trying to set up a system for myself. People I see who are ambitious and accomplish a lot of things, both big and small, useful and hobby-like seem to have a regiment. So lately the goal has been to Get A Lot of Things Done. And the plan to do so has been to find a method to make it all make sense. A routine. A system.

So I've been tinkering with how that might go. And the first thought I have is that many of the things I want to do involve sitting in front of the computer. That's fine. It is an easy task. I'd say calming and soothing, if I ever had anything in life that agitated or unnerved me. Since I can be thankful there isn't much of that sort of thing in my life I'll go with "It is peaceful." That's good. It'll work.

The problem is that many of things I want to do, involve sitting in front of a computer. The task I happily undertake at work eight hours a day. There are days when I could conceivable go to work, drive home and then go to bed, with the 20-minute drive being the only thing that takes away from roughly 16 hours in front of a computer. I value my eyesight and wish to have a life beyond that.

So that's tempered the computer-to-computer desire. So lately the habit has been go home, succumb to the TiVo, and upon exhausting the EvIl eye moving to whatever project I'm wanting to undertake that evening.

The problem is that on Tuesday I fell asleep while watching TiVo. That nap made me go to bed for another nap.

(Here's the Wednesday edition addition) Today I came home and fell asleep while watching the TiVo. And slept. And then went upstairs to sleep some more. I slept the night through. Nothing got accomplished.

I generally stay awake and busy myself with one thing or another more than I should. I usually pay for this for one deliciously sinful nap on some random weekday. This week it has been astonishingly long naps on two consecutive days.

Clearly this system will not work.

Your tips, hints and suggestions for more productivity will be appreciated.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I had what the local grill calls "The Bacon and Cheddar" for lunch today. Possibly the most substantive thing I've eaten since Christmas, one steak not withstanding. I've been trimming down a lot, today felt like a chance to splurge, I'd regret it for most of the early afternoon.

Great burger though.

Visited the post office for the first of what will likely be three post-holiday trips. Make another one tomorrow and that'll feel like real progress.

Not much more of that was made today though. Fell asleep on the sofa this afternoon. I'd been watching The Raconteurs (Brendan Benson and Jack White) on Austin City Limits. Made it through their section of the show and dozed during the second act, which also sounded good. The Raconteurs offer a Memphis blues-rock sound, and Brendan Benson is always gold, but Jack White, good as he is, is the weak link here. Overall the sound is good, but better when Benson is on the mic. Jack knows the one speed and emotion only, for all his talent, but he paints himself into corners with it. Kudos for the site being a 1980s.

Woke up, intent to work, and then took another nap on the bed. Two-nap days, gotta love 'em. The really telling thing about this is that it likely won't hurt my overall sleep schedule, I've just managed to incorporate two bonus naps out of general fatigue.

After the football championship game last night I've made a new Auburn Florida t-shirt and put it in the top left box. It is a nod to Florida's championship and a gloat that Auburn beat the Gators 27-17. Buy the newest collectors item today!

Did a little webpage work this afternoon, watched a lot of William Shatner. This morning I watched the first part of his Living in TV Land, check out a clip. Watched the second half tonight with dinner and the episode is terrific. (Dinner was leftover stew, thanks Brooke! Tomorrow I'll enjoy donated chicken noodle from Kelly. Nice to already have an anecdote to share before the day even begins.) The musical portions of the episode deal with Shatner's 2004 record Has Been, which is star-studded and terrifically entertaining. Middle of the evening I caught Shatner's guest spot (and Chuck Norris' cameo) in Dodgeball.

After that? Denny Crane of course. New episodes are back. Denny and Alan Shore are in New Orleans (where up is down and Denny meets four women while spending the whole trip on a trombone kazoo and hungover) trying a difficult post-Katrina doctor euthanization case.

Back in Boston the scene is being set for another clash between Brad Chase and Jeffrey Coho, who I'm beginning to like.

About Clarice/Clarence, that guy is a talented actor, shifting from one to the other as he does, but it is a rather limited role. Seems like there's only so many gender equity issues they can address before it becomes repetitive, before it becomes repetitive.

I don't recall any "Denny Crane" moments, but there were two balcony scenes, albeit over the French Quarter (I suspect a green screen). Denny also broke the fourth wall by playing the opening strains of the theme song with his kazoo. That alone was worth it tonight.

I'm listening to the audio on the Shatner Has Been site where they play clips of the songs and the meaning behind them. Has an NPR feel to it, and it allows the guy to talk sincerely without playing the ham. Sometimes I wonder if he'd prefer to be able to do that more. I'll have to ask him. There's a chance I'll get to meet him later this year. I'm excited, can't you tell?

Probably not going to keep me up tonight, though. Despite two naps there's still the dragging sensation, so off I'll go.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Did some pointless antiquing today. Ran across a dealer with several Glomeratas, but only the newer Auburn ones and not the old API editions I'm looking for now. I left a phone number, maybe the person can help out in that quest.

Don't worry, we won't be discussing this every day.

Dinner with Brooke and Stephen tonight -- Brooke makes an excellent stew, and she sent me home with some, just like my grandmothers would. Together we watched the first half of the BCS Championship game. How 'bout that Ohio State and Troy Smith? Chris Leak, Tim Tebow, all the facets of Florida's game has been dominating. Domination that is simply absolute.

The game is in garbage mode now and the commentators, flubbing as they do, are finally turning onto Florida a bit, something the SEC has been politely pointing out for weeks. The answer to tonight was obvious though, Florida needed to win, so that's where we are all cheering.

The motive is obvious. If Florida wins then Auburn can say they've beaten the mythical national champions (27-17).

Georgia, meanwhile, beat Auburn like a drum (35-15). Georgia, though, was stunned by Vandy earlier in the season (24-22).

As an aside, Alabama beat Vandy -- escaped really -- 13-10. So Alabama beat Vandy, the team that beat Georgia, the team that beat Auburn, that beat Florida. That's another championship for the Tide, I'm sure. As a further aside, how can Bama fire Mike Shula after bringing home a national championship?

Alabama will have to share it though, because the chain doesn't stop with Bama and Vanderbilt. You'll remember Vandy boldly going to Ann Arbor, where Michigan won the season opener (27-7). So Michigan does deserve to be in the championship game. Except they got demolished by USC in the Rose Bowl (32-18), so USC is on top again. Except they fell to Oregon State in Corvallis (33-31).

Know who beat Oregon State in September? Boise State (42-14). The Broncos, of course, finished the season undefeated after stunning Oklahoma in the Tostitos Bowl (43-42, OT).

National Champions: Boise State.

What's that you say? Back at the top? Yes, Arkansas also beat Auburn (27-10). But Arkansas opened the season with a loss badly to USC (50-14) so follow that back to Oregon State and then the blue broncos of Boise State, your 2006 National Champions.

Florida won 41-14. The Boys of Florida rule. Except for that one loss ...

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Worked this morning, so up and at 'em. Quiet on the way in, quiet in, quiet on the way home. Just two of us in the office and I'm the only one making noise, hacking off sections of my lung with each cough.

Scary thing is I'm much better now, thanks. Mostly just the cough remains. A little sniffle, still sound stuffy, but I can breathe and breathing, as the kids say, is key.

Nick Saban fatigue is kicking in, though. It seems the media, in an otherwise slow period, has covered the story in its entirety now. That's the thought coming in from several quarters. A colleague in Pennsylvania even wrote in about it. All those people should see Wade Kwon's 101 things on Saban's To Do List.

Stormy weather blew through the area in the middle of the afternoon, so back home I relaxed under the raindrops, watched a little playoff football and basically lazed the afternoon anyway. Sunday afternoons are very good to me.

Tried to buy two Glomeratas on E-bay today. A 1906 and a 1908. I'd been watching them sit at $20 for days and was ready to swoop in at the last minute and steal away the ancient university yearbooks. Someone had a maximum bid on the 1906 (which I really wanted) and set it at $101. I know, because I had the thing for three precious minutes at $103.50. Ridiculous, I know, but how many of these are there? And then someone swooped the swooper and got it away from me literally in the last three seconds.

So I lined up for the 1908 book which expired shortly thereafter. Got it above the same maximum $100 bid thinking I could do it since I was only in line for the line. And I had it for a moment. And then someone else, a different third party, stole this one away. For $237 dollars.

I didn't get either one, but someone else had to pay for them. And some nice lady in the Carolinas, who probably bought them in a bulk box at an estate sale, made $330 dollars within moments on E-bay. God bless America.

So if you know of someone who has old Glomerata's sitting around ...

Steak dinner, because something with red meat involved seemed dietarily important. Haven't been eating a lot, not because I've been sick, but because of the holidays and the desire to make some of my wardrobe more relevant. That's going well, but I'll get lectures if I keep this up for long, so a steak and a sweet potato for me, thanks.

Took an after-dinner trip to Wal-Mart for a few supplies, left without incident save the cashier with a little too much snarkiness. That kind of attitude will see you voiding items and then running them through the register again.

She wasn't nearly as bad as the customer before me at the grocery store last night. Poor high school kid held his ground, but she was adamant about $4-this versus $10-that. Adamant in the Cause-A-Scene-Get-Your-Way sense. Finally the manager, a balding man in a rumpled shirt came over and resignedly gave her what she wanted. He did this, no doubt, because he was tired. "Tired, man. I had dreams too and look at me: working the late shift on a Saturday night under the cold flourescent bulbs of an unseemly Food World!"

Two lines of people ended up laughing at the lady though, everyone then gave the cashier kid a hard time. He said it was something about a food stamp situation and we left with the impression that she was mistaken, but managed to save six dollars at the expense of her dignity. She had a realy nice hairdo though, maybe that's where that six dollars will ultimately wind up.

Tonight was not like this, but not every night should be that way. It would spoil the beauty of watching that lady's pre-teen children and wondering when they'll grow tired of this. "Tired, man. I had dreams too, but look what I'm wearing. And look at my mom and those boots she has!"

So it seems that Saturday nights, for their own amusements are good to me as well. Sunday evenings, for their quiet stillness, are also dreamy.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Beautiful, glorious day. Soaring high powder blue skies. Roll the windows down temperature. The kind of day January will reward you with, fool you with, make you long for long stretches of spring. January is a big tease.

I feel much better, thank you. Will power, it seems, rules.

Oh, still have the cough. Sounds nasty, but is less violent looking for the most part. I can breathe say 85 or 90 percent of the time to reasonably functional levels. There is marked improvement. Enough so that going to a movie doesn't seem rude for the coughing, hacking and sniffling that I've been doing. So, after a soup lunch there was a matinee of We Are Marshall:
You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be indignant if this doesn't win awards.
You'll cry a lot actually. There are more heart-tugging moments in this movie in separate incidences than any film I can recall watching.

You're baited into an emotionally tugging story anyway, of course, but even knowing the story (as history or just as a movie) doesn't make it any less special to see. And then McG, the director, really toys with you when he puts together a final montage of the previous emotional sequences right at the climax of the movie. Now he's got you twice!

And I've never seen an entire audience stay through the credits like they did here, where they put photos of the actors with pictures of the actual people and events in a moving sequence.

I know I was late getting to this movie, but if I've seen it before you, then you should make your plans very soon. It is everything you've heard about and more. And guys, you can impress your date if you bone up on the history of Marshall just a bit. She's liable to be compelled to learn more after the movie, so well told is the story.

I'm still doubling up on the medication, after a trip to the drugstore, because I'm tapped man!

So I thought I'd do a little quiz. One of the things I shopped for was a non-prescription drug that is never the less hidden from view back with the pharmacist. So there's this form she has to fill out, scan the license, call DARPA and Interpol, check with the mother of the first little girl I ever asked out and generally give me the visual once over before she can hand me the coveted bitter tasting horsepill. You know the drill.

At first I was almost concerned, here I was simultaneously buying a Sudafed (with a label that basically says "Never mind the goverment, kid, we've changed the formula so we can stay Over The Counter) and this highly potent stuff that needed to run high-powered infrared satellites to zoom in over my house so they can see if I have a labratory in my spare room. Of course the Sudafed is supposed to now be useless to someone looking to cook meth -- and we presume it is still medicinally effective, though the past several days makes one wonder -- but I'd guess your average suburban would-be methmaker (of which I am not) might not realize that. Anything's possible when you're intentionally boring holes in your brain I guess. But here I am buying both, what's a pharmacist to think?

So I deliberately wear a shirt with a college on the front, Berry in this case, strike up a conversation with the lady thinking that eventually I'll hack and wheeze on her and sound congested. I use big words and try not to look paranoid opting for sanity instead.

Somewhere along the way I decide to conduct a survey about how pharmacists feel about the new rules making them over the counter pill police. Turns out she doesn't like it. Not what she signed on for. According to her that's the general consensus in the industry. I want to ask more pharmacists, and God help me I hope it is next year and not needing more of this stuff next week, but I have a feeling that'll be the common theme.

Chicken dinner at Cracker Barrel, where the wait for a host was long enough to grab my own menu, consider taking over the microphone and reading aloud all the faults the health department had recorded and start staring at my watch. As the families piled up in a line behind me I'd muttered They get 65 more seconds and I'm going down the street.

Some guy ambled up, after two other employees said "Someone will be right with you," with just 20 seconds to spare on my watch. Got a table with a very nice older lady with whom you would be delighted to enjoy a Sunday afternoon lunch and I could no longer be upset at the circumstance.

I know Cracker Barrel is slow. I understand that is the point. With half the tables open and a line waiting to be sat someone should probably be up front. If anything the host stand is supposed to say to me "Come in, we're friendly and fast" and they missed tonight.

I'm really only complaining though because they did not have my Orange Creme soda chilled for my traditional nightcap. These people really should know better by now.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Still sick. Sorta. More sick sounding than anything, but on balance I feel better. The coughing, though, has got to go. I'm willing to forsake the breathing part of the sinuscoldfluthing to just not have the center of my sternum ache from the overexertion. We're talking full-body coughs here.

Oh with each one I think This may be the last desperate as I am, but then there's another bone jarring, lung rattling cough soon to follow. Normally the breathing, or lack thereof, is the worst of it, now I'm feeling I will deal with that to just have a reprieve from the coughing.

Went home for a nap before Pie Day. An attempt at a nap. The not-breathing thing kept me awake. It seems it is hard to sleep while sitting on one's knees in the vain attempt to trick the nose into carrying out its designed function.

Pie Day then, where the waitress used "y'all" as a verbal pause. Never heard it quite that way before. She was a real go getter, this one. Fresh out of high school because "school is dumb" and in what is probably the first of her many restaurant jobs. Enthusiasm was not her strongest attribute, but she did go above and beyond and slice the pie extra fine.

The one thing I don't want you to do, and there you have this girl. The food came out fine and there were refills -- an integral part of the tip formula is how much time I'm staring at the bottom of my glass -- but there was just a sense of barely adequate, which is death by Pie Day comparison, so spoiled are we.

Taylor was having a ball. And she's grown about six inches since just before Christmas it seems like. Brian warned me to stretch before having to deliver on the pony rides, but she did not ask about it and I did not volunteer.

She did mug for the camera though.

A lot.

A whole lot.

When the manager stopped by and asked her how her dinner was she roared at him. That's my new standard for restaurant approval now: MAAAWRP!

Next week is her birthday. At first I wasn't invited, but by the end of the night I was invited again. Either way I'm crashing. She's having her party at one of those inflatable places. Absolutely I'm going.

We also learned tonight that when you turn 10 you're all grown up. So her mommy, daddy, everybody is 10. I've never felt so perfect, but I understand the big kidisms of the double digits. She'll be wise and crafty by then, no doubt.

Turned on the humidifier tonight. Still no breathing. This will not continue. I've doubled the medicinal load as an experiment -- don't worry, nothing is drowsy and I read the directions for warnings -- and will spend the rest of another mostly sleepless night willing this garbage away.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Sometimes people talk about feeling like death and now I know what they mean.

Woke up this morning in the most disturbing way: it was at once difficult and a miracle. My throat was on fire. My head was mired in oatmeal and the breathing felt like that one unfortunate dive where I found myself with just 100 psi left in the tank (I'm a fine diver; there were external circumstances.)

Most of it, thankfully, is clouded in the fog of an early morning now, but there were about 20 minutes this morning where nothing made sense and there were no real options for changing that. Overnight this sinuscoldfluthing had seeped into my head and I'd developed a brain cloud.

So I felt really terrible, took some medicine and after I got to work it finally kicked in. I'm much better now, thanks, but my throat and esophagus are just plain sore from coughing. More than a week of this at a time will do that to you. But still these are only minor inconveniences; it probably bothers the people around me more than me by now. Congestion is breaking up, I feel 12th Round worn out and falling onto the old trusty comfy couch when I got home was the greatest feeling in days.

And then of course I had to sit in an elevated posture to try and defeate the sinuscoldfluthing. Overall, I can't help but thinking the end of all this is close at hand. Tomorrow will be a healthier day.

Did a podcast today on Alabama's new football coach. You can hear it here. That's me sounding quiet, slightly stuffy and -- for the last eight or nine minutes -- willing myself quiet to not drown out everyone else with a fit of coughing.

Had Mexican leftovers for dinner, worked on some webpages tonight, including my own. The December photos are up and you can see the month in review here.

Thrilled at a very light EvIl eye experience. I watched The Knights of Prosperity and the pilot at least was quirky and fun. They're misfits trying to rob from the rich to give to the poor, themselves. But by the end you almost think they could do it. And then you realize they can't of course, and not just because Mick Jagger is a Knight in the Queen's Court, but because these guys are a bunch of goofs and near-failures in life, despite being a perfectly heterogenously diverse gang of misfits and cuddly thugs. This show could go places or piddle out in six episodes, we'll see. I just hope Rockefeller Butts gets more lines. "Mi casa, su casa, bebe" as you might imagine Barry White saying it was too funny to be heard just once.

Fortunately you can watch recent episodes from ABC here. And now I have my Rockefeller fix ... and reading more about the actor, Kevin Michael Richardson, I realize we've all heard him before. He was even Patrick on E.R.

He's got amazing range. Taught him everything I know.

I never had the chance to make many commercials when my voice was paying the bills, I also had a different job, but there were four or five of which I remain especially proud. The Chesterfried Chicken spot was one of them, so once in a great while I have to trot that out for attention. A quick search tells us I have apparently never directly linked to it in the blog, so I hope you'll pardon the excess today.

And with that I'll go do something else to excess: sit around and cough the night away and wait to fall asleep.

More tomorrow, I hope, and hopefully some healthy news!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Back to work, feeling fine after my time off -- shouldn't vacation during which you were sick be refunded? -- coughing up lungs however. It hurts to cough a little, never a good sign. Mostly because those muscles, like me, are so very tired of this.

Every so often, though, I have a thunderous cough and I think Maybe that is the one. It is over. And then another comes along. It is a vicious, almost demoralizing cycle.

But I'm feeling pretty good otherwise, just a cough. And I'm still swallowing pills so don't worry about me.

Alabama hired a football coach, and after all this excitement I hope the guy cures cancer. There's a certain breathlessness to the fans and the local media (you can be confused by the similiarities) about the whole thing. It is both deliriously funny and slightly sad.

Actually I'd go on about this, but then there's Will Collier who cleans it all up so nicely.

Mexican for dinner part of a plate, as the enchiladas had me saying "No mas!" before halftime of the LSU-Notre Dame unsightlyness.

Caught all up on the TiVo and straightened up around the house a bit. Had a nice chat with Mom, ran an errand, the perfectly low-key day to return to the regular world. Except for that head coach business. Did a morning phoner on that, probably have another tomorrow and of course there'll be a podcast on the subject.

Nick Saban better have a parachute, or at least a jetpack strapped to his back, when he is introduced tomorrow. He better have a magnificient answer for many of life's mysteries in a petri dish there on the lectern with him. He might want to think about bringing Osama bin Laden around for us all to see. Maybe then he'll be worth all this.

Otherwise? He's just another coach who'll have one good year, a few standard years and then be gone on to greener pastures. That's simply a character issue with the man, and what is curiously odd about that is the thinking Alabama fan, not these people, realize that and are fine with it. Makes no sense.

In the Smithsonian today I read about a tentative peace in the Bosque Country, meaning we can all feel a little bit better about humanity. Maybe. Unless people are rearming of age old things that few even really understand any more. There were pronghorn antelope at lunch today. And they were yummy.

Only kidding. This is man-encroaching-on-nature and migratory patterns type stuff, but still more fascinating than the art of the mugshot. This guy collected the mugshots, published a book and is signing his name on the prints. Now that's some serious pilfering. I wonder what the penalty for that is in Berlin, where the book's editor now resides.

Tonight was extreme polo in India. Sounds pretty intense, even the serious polo players there from the national team are amazed. And you know it is sincere since nowhere do they spell it Xtreme.

Oh, and on the cheap end you can buy a magnificient and beautiful sundial for around $15,000. If you have the scratch this would be an interesting guy to meet. Obsessed might be the word. But who among us that's discovered the joy of the sundial doesn't feel that way? As he says of his former boss, "(He's) is the only person I know who was infected by the horological virus and later recovered. For most collectors, death is the only cure."

That and cable television, bub. Just look at all the fun we had watching the Bama fans this evening!

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Still almost sick, so not much here.

Went to Target today. Shopped at furniture. Two stores, very little dice, but no snake eyes. Picked up some bookshelves for The Yankee, carrying pressboard is serious work.

Had another Pie Day. Funny, that. When this got started -- more than two years ago -- I had no idea it would last. And now it appears that there may be three Pie Days in a calendar week featuring six people and six pies. Goodbye diet!

The rest of this brief little entry is about football. Proceed to skip or read on as you wish.

I made the gamble, played the averages and turned in during the second quarter of the Boise State, Oklahoma game last night. Boise State was up, but I figured the routine thing would happen and the stronger, bigger, more prominent program would wear down the upstarts en route to a fabulous 28-17 victory.

Turns out didn't happen that way, as I found out by phone. And if you, like me, didn't see it, here's the last several minutes all sliced up for your amazement.

Just wow.

There was the bowl game yesterday. Auburn beat Nebraska 17-14 in one of the more ugly and uninteresting games you'll see during bowl season this year. No doubt they played with all their heart, that's just how it shook out. Kind of typical for Auburn this year though and everyone is glad they can turn the page on the season.

Here's a highlight clip.

There's something great, though, about going 9-3 during the rebuilding year of 2005 and viewing an 11-2 season this year as a "struggling" team. Brand new offensive line notwithstanding expectations are high, and justifiably so. May they always stay that way and may they always be deserved.

Monday, January 1, 2007

The self-indulgent year in review. I:
Briefly dipped to a size 34 waist again (here's to hoping)
Finished the arduous comps process
Got snowed on in Indiana with Elisabeth
Replaced a water heater
Celebrated my mom's birthday
Started's podcasts
Visited Savannah
The Yankee and I lounged and I wrote a thesis chapter
I wrote another chapter
Finished another chapter
Wrote the last chapter the next day
Turned in the 65-page thesis and interviewed Dave Holloway
Celebrated my grandmother's birthday
Painted and sprained a wrist
Got a new camera
Finished Graduate School
Enjoyed days at the park with The Yankee
Started The Dreamland Odyssey
Visited State College
Had Memorial Day in Gettysburg
Went to Belize - Day: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Enjoyed the Rickwood Classic
Wrapped up two days of starter problems
Witnessed the one-handed flaming cartwheel
Drove a convertible
Went to the White House gospel singing
Jumped on inflatables
Started an Auburn hobby with a pennant
Took my mother golfing
Got into an international dispute and enjoyed throwed rolls
Hit the beach
Got TiVo
Saw the first outdoor Coke sign
Had someone break into my car
Almost drowned on the Ocoee
Saw Melissa for the the first time in a decade
Went to Philadelphia with The Yankee
Saw the birthplace of our nation
Saw the Indigo Girls again
Enjoyed Harvest Homecoming in Indiana
Finally got the Auburn pennant back
Enjoyed a trip to New England for a weekend of real autumn
Was named a Power Person, along with The Yankee
Saw Carlos Mencia again
Realized we'd become total yuppies
Saw Lewis Black again
Recorded a Pie Day theme
Celebrated another Iron Bowl win
Enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving with family
Got surprised in Savannah
Saw the place I was born
Turned 30
Enjoyed a nice family Christmas
That's a great year friends.