Tuesday, August 30, 2011

dadgum dirty apes

The clumsily named "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (my buddy Mikey suggested the movie should have simply been called "Rise of the Apes", and I agreed) was a movie I wasn't really looking to see, much less pay for, but I had been reading the reviews... and surprisingly enough, the reviews were actually pretty good.  After doing a The Deucecast episode where one of the co-hosts, Matty Rec, raved on how good he thought it was, and it intrigued me.

When I was googling pics for this review, I saw this one, and for some
reason, the first thing that came to mind was Billy Joel's song, "Leave a
Tender Moment Alone". 
I have to preface the entire conversation here by saying that I've never gotten into the Apes lore, with the numerous films from the old days--in fact, I've never seen more than a few minutes of any of them.  When I was working in NYC in 1998 with a Troy BCM mission group, we were teaching English to some immigrants, and I was given the task of "Prepositions".  I had heard that using "the bunny and the log" worked really well... because the bunny could be "before the log" or "atop the log" or "under the log" or "at the long" or something of that nature...

I only say that because I feel that The Planet of the Apes series would fit into that catagory... Beneath..., Conquest of..., Escape from..., Battle for..., Instead Of... Beyond the... All Up On..., Getting Crazy With..., Hangin' With Mr. Cooper... and, you name it, its been "...The Planet of the Apes".  Never seen any of them, except...

...the monstrosity that was the 2001 Mark Wahlberg POS remake, simply titled "The Planet of the Apes".  The movie was just bad, despite having a great cast like Paul Giamatti and Michael Clark Duncan and Tim Roth... just wasted celluloid.

Now, having said all that, I wasn't sure what to expect with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes".  The cast includes James Franco, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings, doing similiar stop motion F/X work here) and Draco Malfoy, which I was happy to see got some work since Hogwarts. 

Quite simply, its the story of a man and his monkey... James Franco plays Will, who is a scientist and ends up with a chimp he names Caesar, who lives with him and his Alzheimers-ridden father, and he thinks he may have found a cure for the debilitating disease but the cure ends up being a crazy formula that Cesar gets a hold of, after having already learned a billion human qualities and such, and when he gets around other monkeys, including a big gorilla and a wise old circus orangutan

SIDEBAR... you know those words that you never think about, but figure you know how to spell?  Yeah, "orangutan" was a word for me just now... I would like to think I would have gotten it, but its been like, years since I actually typed or wrote that word out--I mean, who needs to spell the word "orangutan", right?  I barely even have a reason to say it in conversation, much less writing it down...  where was I? 

...and anyway, it turns into this Viva La Monkey Revolucion!, as the previews will tell you this much, especially that crazy clip with the big gorilla flying through the air at a helicopter...

So, the movie was solid.  The story was good, the characters were well written, the script is well written, the special effects, especially Andy Serkis, is unbelievable and overall, I enjoyed it immensely.  You don't have to be familiar with the other films--in fact, there are apparently a dozen or so references to the early films, though I only caught one when Draco Malfoy says, "Dadgum dirty apes!"--to like this movie, and it sets it up quite nicely for following films, which due to the success of this one, are likely.

I was expecting this movie to actually lead right up to the beginning of the original premise, with apes taking over, but the ending leaves a ton of room for the in-between movies if they choose, and of course, there is the final scene that tells you, "Oh... so this is where it starts...". 

You can Netflix it, or Ghetto $1 theater it, but its worth the matinee price to catch it in a big screen experience. 

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty Six 

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Wooo of Ric Flair

This article is fascinating, especially if you are a wrestling fan... its a bit depressing, but its like a modern day "The Wrestler"... taken from Grantland.com, by Shane Ryan... warning, there is some harsh language, made through quotes, in the entire article...

Ric Flair has been physically attacked by at least three of his four wives.

In a 2005 divorce case with Elizabeth Harrell — wife no. 2 — Flair's lawyers detailed their accusations. "On more than one occasion," they wrote, "Plaintiff (Beth) has assaulted the Defendant (Flair), striking him about the head and body in an effort to provoke him into a physical confrontation."

In 2009, Flair filed a criminal complaint against Tiffany Vandemark — wife no. 3 — whom he accused of "hitting him in the face with a phone charger."

And in 2010, Flair and his current wife, Jacqueline Beams, returned to their Charlotte, N.C., home after dinner at the Lodge Restaurant. There, for reasons never made explicit, Jacqueline punched him repeatedly in the face. She was arrested.

The story of Ric Flair was once about a college dropout who rose through the ranks of professional wrestling to become a legend. It was about his nickname, "The Nature Boy," and his signature figure four leglock, both lifted from an older wrestler named Buddy Rogers. It was about his multiple championships, his bleach-blond hair, his fast-talking patter (by his own reckoning, Flair was a "stylin', profilin', limousine-riding, jet-flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin'-n'-dealin' son of a gun!"), and his signature, trademarked cry: "WOOO!"

Today the story is about a man known in the court system as Richard Morgan Fliehr, 62, born in 1949 and adopted by parents who raised him in Minnesota. That's what he was called this past April, when a judge ejected Fliehr from his Charlotte home because he couldn't pay his rent. That's what he was called in May, when he faced an arrest order for an unpaid $35,000 loan. That's what he's called on the paychecks from Total Nonstop Action, a second-tier outfit where he's still compelled to perform despite suffering from alcoholic cardiomyopathy, and where almost everything he earns goes toward old debts: lawyers, ex-wives, the IRS, former business partners, and anyone who made the mistake of lending him money.

Richard Fliehr declined to comment on the legal matters discussed in this story.

The Mecklenburg County courthouse in Charlotte contains thousands of pages documenting Fliehr's legal adventures. There, it's possible to unearth the gory specifics of a lifetime: how he passed out after attacking his son Reid in a fit of anger after the boy broke his drunken mother's arm by pushing her out of an elevator; how he lost a fistfight with his daughter's boyfriend; how he exposed his genitalia to airline attendants.1 One can also read how Fliehr allegedly flew into steroid-induced rages against his wife and children; how he suffered anxiety attacks and at least one nervous breakdown, how he broke his back in a 1974 plane crash; how he was mistreated by powerful bosses such as Eric Bischoff; how he bought millions of dollars' worth of jewelry for the women in his life; how he was cited for letting a drunk 20-year-old woman drive his car in North Carolina; how he used the same NWA title belt as collateral for two different loans.

Taken together, the information produces a rough timeline that illustrates Fliehr's self-destructive impulses. It includes excesses that Hollywood screenwriters wouldn't have the audacity to invent, and yet it follows its own logic — one bad decision comes after another, each magnifying the damage of the one to follow.

1990: Fliehr's poor decision-making expressed itself from the beginning of his professional career, but the consequences began to emerge after his 40th birthday.

He had a lifelong enemy in the IRS. Throughout the '80s, he did not pay his taxes. Finally, the state of North Carolina issued its reckoning: a 1990 notice that he owed more than $62,000 in back taxes from 1982, '83, and '88. Fliehr presumably paid without consequence. He wouldn't always be so fortunate.

November 1990, Fliehr was caught traveling 95 mph in a 65 mph zone in Beckley, W.Va. He was forced to apply for a restricted license so he could drive from airports to his wrestling events. The superior court granted his request almost a full year later.

The same year, a woman named DeAnn Siden began to stalk Fliehr. Siden spent the next eight years following him from city to city, getting kicked out of wrestling venues, and eventually threatening his life. She claimed the two had an affair.

During the time of the stalking, Fliehr had been married to his second wife, Elizabeth, for seven years. They would have two children, Ashley and Reid. His first marriage to Leslie Goodman lasted from 1971 to 1983 and produced two other children, David and Megan.

1991: In August, Fliehr switched from WCW to the WWF. The NWA filed a lawsuit against him, angry that he was using his NWA title belt from 1990 in televised WWF promotions. Fliehr refused to return the belt, but a judge ruled that he could not use it for any commercial purpose. Additionally, he was barred from referring to himself as the NWA champion.

1992: DeAnn Siden, the stalker, gave birth to a girl named Tiffany. She claimed the child was Fliehr's.

1996: Macrolease International, a New York company, sued Fliehr for failure to pay $66,000 in gym equipment and fees for his Gold's Gym in Hickory, N.C. They earned a default judgment, meaning that Fliehr chose not to plead or defend himself in any way. This is the first documented sign of Fliehr's inability or refusal to repay his debts.

In March, Fliehr was arrested for letting a 20-year-old woman named Colleen McCune drive his car with a blood alcohol content almost twice the legal limit.

1997: A Charlotte painter named John Henighen received a $1,500 judgment for work on the Fliehr home. "We painted their large house inside and out," he wrote. "Had one day's work left for one painter and they would not let us complete the work and have not paid a red penny towards all the painting we did, which took 3 weeks or more and she Mrs. Fliehr treated us badly. Rude."

Fliehr, unhappy with a proposed three-year contract with WCW, missed several appearances and was sued as a result. He countersued soon thereafter, complaining of mistreatment, especially by executive producer Eric Bischoff. While his appearances were being reduced, wrestlers like Hulk Hogan were promoted. Fliehr and his lawyers alleged that Bischoff treated him "in an increasingly hostile, rude, threatening and degrading manner. … [Bischoff's] language is crude, rude and 'socially unacceptable' even in the world of professional wrestling. He has threatened to bankrupt Plaintiff, put Plaintiff out of work, banish him to some foreign country and has referred to him as 'garbage.'"

They settled, and Fliehr stayed with WCW until 2001.

On January 3, DeAnn Siden phoned Fliehr and threatened to kill him and her own daughter if he didn't meet with her. She later phoned Elizabeth multiple times, voicing threats such as, "You will be sorry, you b***h!" and "You bitch, you are not going to get away with this!" Over the next month, Fliehr and Elizabeth identified several of her calls coming from the McDonald's restaurants where she worked.

After these calls and years of confrontations, Fliehr finally had his lawyers pursue criminal warrants for Siden's arrest.

In response, Siden made the bizarre move to...

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty Five

The Great CD Purge

As part of our house cleaning slash clearing slash purging of our mostly unneeded possessions, CDs happen to be an issue.  Between the two of us, we've got close to 600 from just about all genres... no polka, unless you count the polka stuff on the Weird Al albums.  Not really any opera, except for The Phantom of the Opera.  Lots of country.  Lots of rock.  And lots of Christian, both good and bad.  For every dcTalk I own, The Lovely Steph Leann has a Petra CD somewhere.  For every awesome GRITS album I have, she's got a Kim Hill CD on the shelf.

But alas, our CD wall is too big.  On the left here, you'll see our CD collection, minus about 125 or so, which were taken downstairs for uploading into iTunes, followed by selling and/or purging.

We decided it would be good to buy one of those big CD books, one that holds like, 350 or so, and dispose of the plastic cases that are taking up so much room.  We could keep some CDs in their cases, but agreed that we could not keep any CDs that would not fit into the racks on the far left, which will hold a combined 152... yes, I counted.

So, the process began.  Two waves of looking over the CDs produced the ones to get rid of... the first wave, it was easy to dispense of DJ Maj or The Smalltown Poets or Pax 217 and other albums I had not listened to since perhaps the day I acquired them... the second look over the collection resulted in getting rid of the last two FFH albums (keeping the first few) and the last two Point of Grace CDs and a Ginny Owens CD and some Starbucks Pop/Rock collections and such.

So, finally, I had the pile of CDs that were leaving The Cabana forever.  Well, except for those that come back... here are a few of the gems unearthed...

This is one of the many CDs we have two copies of, which is why its in the "get rid of" pile.  We'll be giving
this one to someone in the family.  You know, even if Jennifer Knapp now attends the First Lesbetarian Church,
that doesn't change the fact she was awesome back in the day.

Starbucks sold this.  We all admired The Reverend Al Green's great expression here.

So, I have a ton of Christian music CDs, and many of them are these kind of promos.  Usually they ran around
$1.99 to maybe $2.99, but if you bought one of the CDs represented , you got the promo CD for free.  And
from about 1998 to about 2002, I purchased a ton of those albums that would get me the free CDs.  

Ever heard of Katy Hudson?  No?  Well, ever heard of Katy Perry?  Yes?  Then you've heard of Katy Hudson.
Same chick.  This is her early Christian rock effort, and its just not very good. 

So, I consider "Jagged Little Pill" to be an incredible CD.  Ten years after its release, in 2005,
Alanis released an acoustic version of the album... and its just not good.  She sounds fine, the
music is fine, but by 2005, she was married and happy and content and so on, ruining the rage
that made her first album so awesome.  If you want great acoustic from Alanis, get her MTV Unplugged
CD.  Currently, I'd like to give our spare copy of JPL to our 14 year old niece, as I think she should
know Alanis.  The Lovely Steph Leann disagrees. 

Remember when Christian Rock was awesome?  Yeah, I miss it too.

Not even his first CD.  Somehow I ended up with his 2nd one and I bought it when Coconuts was still open.  The
price?  99 cents.  Not sure I'm going to turn a profit when I sell this one.


This is a 2 part set... and I don't know how and when I got these.  Whats
even more remarkable is that the Lovely Steph Leann has these as well, and
she can't remember where she got them.  And even more, we have a THIRD
set of these two CDs, and I have no idea how they came to be in our home.

And so, this is everything I lugged into 2nd and Charles.  Some of these are even unopened. 

I took all these CDs to 2nd and Charles tonight.  For everything, including some movies we tossed in there to sell, we had a choice of about $35 in cash or $71 in credit.  I took the credit, though The Lovely Steph Leann sighed, "With $25, that's two movies we could have gone to."

I retorted, "Well, with $71, that's about 10 movies we can buy."

And tomorrow, I'll sift through the rest of the CDs, make some more hard choices--like, do I need to keep the Natalie Merchant "Tigerlily" CD or John Mellencamp's Greatest, or can I get by on having them in iTunes?

These are the hard decisions that have to be made.

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty Four

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What It Is?

So, we aren't going to find out if its a boy or girl.  The fact that in the tummy, Little One, kept stretching, almost as if he/she was relaxing, leads to me to believe that it IS a Campbell, from my wife's side of the family.   And it might be a girl, just like her mommy.  Sleeping and relaxing.

However, while one hand's thumb was in the mouth, the other hand was between the legs.  The Lovely Steph Leann says, "Aw!  Little One doesn't want us to know if she's a daughter or he's a son!".  I had other theories upon which she won't let me spell out.

This is either Lorelei Addison or Campbell Isaiah.  Not sure which.  Guess we'll find out.

What do YOU think?

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty Three

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Bad Career of a Good Katherine Heigl

So, we have the movie channels on our Dish Network satellite system, and though the legendary channels like HBO and Showtime are there, we have to say that we do enjoy the Starz Channels and now the somewhat new Epix Channels, as both are full of movies that only recently were in theaters.

We've DVR'd no less that 10 films that were out in theaters a year ago or sooner, and have been watching them night by night... in fact, when our promotional price runs out in February, I'm pretty sure we'll still pay for them, cause they rule.

One of the movies we ended up watching was a little film called "Life As We Know It", starring Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl.   Set in Atlanta, they play Messer and Holly, respectively, and are set up on a blind date by their besties Peter and Allison.  Things go from bad to worse as Messer and Holly despise each other from the get-go.  And things then go even further south when Peter and Allison are killed in an accident.  Well, imagine Messer and Holly's surprise when they find out that Peter and Allison's one year old daughter, Sophie, has been left to the two of them in the form of guardianship.

Oh, look... its the poop on the face joke.  Never seen that.  Original.
And, you can imagine what happens next... they hate each other, but are forced to live together to take care of Sophie, but end up somehow getting along after a while and, well, guess what, they share a bed and decide they just love each other now.  Perhaps I just gave away the ending of the film, but seriously, you had to know where this was going.

My problem with this film is the actual entire premise itself.

Let's say that The Lovely Steph Leann spits out a girl in December, which seems to be the going consensus around my circle of people.   So, a year later, we are at Epcot and the top row of Soarin' collapses--because we refuse to ride anything other than the top row--and we both die, leaving Lorelei Addison parentless.

Well, during that year between our child's birth and our own untimely death, we decided that, should we die, we wanted our friends Marky Mark and his wife Cindy Jo to become guardians of our dear offspring.  In my mind, and this is just me being crazy, this is a conversation we would have had with Marky Mark and Cindy Jo perhaps over dinner, or worst case, a random Wednesday night conversation at Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship).  "Hey Warners, would you guys mind at all taking care of our precious daughter in case we, you know, bite it sometime soon?" giving them a chance to talk about it, maybe even say no.

So neither Peter, best friends with Messer, nor Allison, a BFF to Holly, had the foresight to tell their best friends, who incidentally don't even like each other that, upon their own deaths, their kid would become the besties responsibilty?  Who the crack does that?!?

Now, I've watched movies before with glaring problems right from the get-go, and many times, a good story will make for an excellent film, or at least a decent enough film to overcome such issues.  "Life as We Know It" has no such luck.  Its a terrible movie.  A terrible movie.  Its badly written, its badly acted, its even badly edited, something that I usually don't bring up.

Case in point... there is a scene where Messer, who is an Atlanta Hawks NBA broadcast TV producer, is forced to take the baby to work.  The first half of the game when Hawks are playing the New Orleans Hornets goes well enough.  Hilarity and baby hijinks ensue at halftime, and someway, somehow, the Hawks end up playing the Miami Heat the second half.  Good job, "Life As We Know It" edit guys.

Which brings us to the overall subject of Katherine Heigl.  I like Kate Heigl, I always have.  She's fun and she's cute and she does have at least some talent, as I loved Dr. Izzie Stevens on "Grey's Anatomy".  In her younger days, she was fun to watch in a movie, like the kid in "My Father the Hero", and Steven Seagal's niece in "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory", and even as Jade in "Bride of Chucky".  No problem there, right?

I never saw "Roswell", but I've heard the entire cast was great, include Kate Heigl.   But lately, she's like the Ted McGinley of movies... she starred in "The Ugly Truth" with Gerard Butler, which was three shades of awful (Gerard Butler's career is another that can be classified as "overrated")... she did "27 Dresses" which I only saw part of, leaving me with the desire to never see the rest of it.  She was also with Ashton Kutcher in "Killers" which was not necessarily a bad movie... but it wasn't a very good movie either.

I like Kate.  And in the right goofy role, I kinda like Ashton.  This film
should have been better.  Wait, it was.  It was called "Knight and Day".
Here's my take on "Killers"... if you go to the welfare line, and with Obama's taxes many of you will, and ask for your butter and cheese, they will hand you the gub'mint butter and the gub'mint cheese... if you ask for Transformers, they'll hand you Go-Bots.  If you ask for a copy of "Knight and Day", they'll give you a copy of "Killers".  Take that as you will.  Heck, I like Katie Heigl better than Cammy Diaz, but "Knight and Day" is a far superior film that only gets better on subsequent viewings.

She's also got the misfortune in being a part of what is known as the "Movie That Made The Least Amount Of Money, Like Ever, at Theaters to the Tune of $30," a film called "Zyzzyz Road".  That's another story, a great one, you can read at Entertainment Weekly, but lets just say, not a good time had by all.  Or some.  Or anyone, from what I can gather.

In fact, Katie's best film, in my (un)humble opinion, was "Knocked Up", one of Judd Apatow's first movies and a somewhat over-the-line hilarious comedy about two people that hate each other, yet have a child together (sounds familiar?  "Knocked Up" does it right, where as "Life As We Know It"...) and even though its the best film she's had, its the one she denounces.

Look, I like Katherine Heigl.  I want to see her do well, I want her to see her in better films, and perhaps its only her script choices... there is hope on the horizon, though, as she's playing the title role of Stephanie Plum in the "One for the Money" adaptation, based on the Janet Evanovich books.

Kate, if you read this, please choose scripts better.  Because Katherine Heigl's movie Life As We Know It needs some work.

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty Two

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 100 Coolest Things of 2010... 40 to 31

Facebook readers... there are videos here, so click over to the Mother Ship and read there.  Plus you'll help me on my quest to get to 75,000 readers.  

Guess we should finish this list up, ay?  Okay, so let's do a quick recap of all things cool in 2010... here is the list thus far, from #100 to 91... then the numbers 90 to 81... then you can click to see the 80th to 71st... then, onto the 70th through 61st... and how bout reading the 60th coolest to 51st... then finally, to catch up, the 50th to 41st....

Then you are ready for the 40th Coolest Thing of 2010 to the 31st Coolest Thing of 2010

At this point, Antoine Dodson is a complete punchline... well, honestly, when Antoine was released unto the world, he was pretty much a punchline, but when this video premiered, it was HILL-AIR-EE-OUS.   This chick in the poorer part of town has her home broken into, and she's assaulted--no, not funny yet--but then, the camera focuses in on her brother.  And off he goes, telling us that, "wail, obviously, we got a rapist up here in Lincoln park...".   And it is brilliant.

All I could think of was the guys in the NBC editing room, watching this footage, laughing until they could barely breathe saying, "THIS.  IS.  COMEDY.  GOLD."  Cause it is.

So then, The Gregory Brothers took the news footage, put some beats to it, and created "The Bed Intruder Song", which then became the most watched non-official music video on You Tube in 2010.  And even now, it makes me laugh.  And laugh.  And laugh.

So you can run and tell that, run and tell that, run and tell that homeboy, homeboy, home home homeboy...

Another Stephen King book, another one that was far better than I remember.  Andy, the dad, and Charlie, the daughter, are on the run because the government is chasing them.  And the reason the government agency known as The Shop is chasing them is because Andy took part in an experimental program in college, where he meets Victoria and leaving them both with special powers.   They have Charlie, who displays incredible pyrokinetic powers--starting fires telepathically.

As the book progresses, The Shop gets closer and closer, aided by the manipulation of John Rainbird, a cold blooded killer who befriends Charlie with the motive of strangling her when The Shop has what they need from her.

Stephen King writes a great story here, one that is never scary yet very tense through most of the book.  Its hard not to like, or at least empathize with Charlie, who is a mere 6 or 7 years old and wants to protect her Daddy at all costs.  And if you've seen the movie, its only a partial representation of this fantastic story, almost like the "highlights" of the story.  And I daresay that John Rainbird is truly one of the great underrated villains in King lore, maybe behind only those great ones like Pennywise, Randall Flagg and Barlow the vampire.

So, we had always said we wouldn't do Disney in the summer time, because of the heat factor.  We went the previous year in June, with St'Ray and C'Ray, and though we had a great time, we realized how stinkin' hot it is.  But, in 2010, Disney released news that they were doing The Summer Nightastic Fireworks and the return of the Electrical Light Parade.  Plus, they were doing a summer-only extra special set up on The Hollywood Tower of Terror.  Now, was a fireworks show, a old timey classic parade and some extra lights on a thrill ride enough for us to plan a special trip to Disney World?

The Lovely Steph Leann, d$, Mama Ruthless and Big Daddy Ron

So, we talked the in-laws, that being Big Daddy Ron and Mama Ruthless into joining us for a special five day trip to The Most Magical Place on Earth.  Yes it was hot... honestly, though, it was hotter the previous June with The Rays, so this particular July was bearable.  Okay, on Monday at Animal Kingdom, it was a little hotter.

The addition to The Hollywood Tower of Terror wasn't all that great, just a few lights and a few special effects that didn't actually work the night I went, but the Electrical Light Parade was everything I had hoped.  So, so awesome.  And Summer Nightastic Fireworks was completely worth the trip as well.


Here's what I had to say in December of 2010

We were able to meet Rapunzel and Flynn on our February trip.  However,
Flynn Ryder is no longer available to meet and greet on normal park days.
When The Lovely Steph Leann and I finish a movie, I always look at her as the credits roll and say, "Whaddya think?" and she tells me "I loved it!" or "It was cute" or "Eh".  Then she asks me what I thought, and my answers are a bit more varied... and this time I said, "It was pretty good."  Typically, this means to The Lovely Steph Leann that I didn't like it at all.  Not true... I said the same thing about "The Proposal", and ended up really liking that movie quite a bit.  

And like "The Proposal", the more I thought about "Tangled", the more I liked it.  As pressure to not be princessy built over the year, Disney changed the marketing strategy of this film, even cutting a new trailer that concentrated on the hero, Flynn Rider, more so than the actual subject of the film, that being Rapunzel... but when you see the movie, in the first thirty seconds of the film, Flynn Rider tells you straight up, "This story is not about me...", smashcut to a tall tower where our heroine has been kept locked away.  The story is, and has always been, about Rapunzel.

Loved this film.  Read the full review here.

The Script's "Breakeven".  Its a good song.  What can I say?

I've always liked chicks with guitars, which probably explains why I enjoyed (ah, I still do) the music of Jennifer Knapp... toss other instruments in like the fiddle, mandolin and harmonica, and that will explain why I'm such a Dixie Chicks fan.  So it stands to reason that I would be a Sara Bareilles fan.

I would classify her first hit, "Love Song" from 2009's "Little Voice" album, as my favorite song of the last 10 years or so.  Love that freakin' tune, and the 79 plays on my iPod is 2nd all time thusfar.

Her latest album, "Kaleidoscope Heart" is just as good as the first one--while nothing meets the awesome awesomeness of "Love Song", this CD still has a great set of music full of those things I enjoy--guitars, pianos, ukeleles (!), harmonicas and great vocals on singles like "Uncharted", "King of Anything" and "Gonna Get Over You". I wish her well, as she was the opening act for Sugarland at the Indiana State Fair, and had just finished her set and come off stage when the whole thing collapsed, killing 6 people and injuring dozens more (she nor any of her crew were hurt).

Anyway, in my own research, she apparently has a 2004 album, "Careful Confessions" that I didn't even know about... looks like its another CD I'll have to seek out and buy.

You may also know Trey Cartledge by his hip-hop name, Trey Songz
My brother-in-law Tyler had quite a college experience, being best friends with some of the greatest guys you could ever meet, in a Deuce-like house they lovingly called House 23.   In this house, located by the campus of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, lived such guys as "Long" Jon Thompson and "Fast" Jonny Lenning and Tyler "The Sexy Beast" Campbell and B-Rad "Mr. Pink" Pinkerton and our guy at #34, Trey "Dawg" Cartledge.

Not only did he win the 11th season of The DFC right out from under me, he also does a rockin' version of "Wagon Wheel"... plus, he's just a cool guy.  Probably the coolest cat I know.

One of my favorite podcasts is hosted by Adam Carolla, and his two sidekicks and/or co-hosts are Alison Rosen and "Bald" Bryan Bishop.   Bald Bryan, until very recently, did another podcast with his buddy Anderson, called "The Film Vault", and it was probably my favorite new podcast of 2010.

Definitely a podcast for older ears, as there is language, it would cover a different topic every week, counting down each hosts "Top Fives" in topics ranging from "Best Nerds" to "(almost) Awesome Movies)" to "Villians" to "War Films"... they also do a "Flick'fessions", which highlights the movies they watched in the week since the previous episode, which, to be honest, is just an excuse to talk about movies.  We have similar  segments on The Deucecast, that is to say parts of the show that only give us a legit excuse to discuss films that we like--or hate.

Sadly, though, in July of 2011, they took a hiatus.  They've said they'll be back, and I hope that's true.  The title of this particular rank, "Doin' it for Van Gogh", was the line said at the end of every single episode--and by the final episode, I finally figured out its a line from one of Anderson's favorite films, "Blue Velvet".

Ah, here we are again with the oft mentioned Zarzaur family... the kids--The Zach Attack, Special K and Jay Z... the pops--Chris... and the best friend--The Statuesque Melanie Z.   One of their favorite restaurants is Pablo's Cantina, as they favor the location down by Lee Branch, with the huge second floor deck and the large tree protruding through it.

Somewhere during the year, they invited myself and The Lovely Steph Leann, and now its one of our favorite places to eat as well.   Sitting on the deck, mostly in the mid-spring and late fall, is just awesome.  Also awesome?  The fish tacos.  Also awesome?  The company.  Also awesome?  The quesadillas.  Not awesome?  The fact it takes me several minutes after my food gets there to get my extra sour cream, but thats kinda standard at any Mexican place.  Awesome, though?  The people we eat with.  The Z Family is awesome. But also awesome?  The fish tacos.

I had actually written about six paragraphs under this particular ranking, and realized that this really deserved its own post.  So I left this post and went and wrote another one, entitled The Keys to the Kingdom, telling you all about how awesome this was.  And you can read it by either scrolling down or just clicking right here.

Coming soon... True Grit as a novel and a movie... Pawn Shops become fun... Cee-Lo tries to forget... and later, the car radio changes forever... 

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty One

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Keys to the Kingdom Tour

So in our annual February trip to Walt Disney World in 2010, we decided we'd do something fun that we hadn't done before... take a tour.  We looked up several and since it was my last few months as a Cast Member, and decided that we could take the Keys To the Kingdom Tour... it starts out early in the morning in front of City Hall in Magic Kingdom, and with a discount, was about $70 per person (down from the $99).  Its a five or six hour walking tour that started us out at City Hall, and ended up backstage, where the Magic happens.

The first time we took the tour, our guide was Claire, a short woman who asked questions of our group and, upon hearing a good answer, would say things like, "That's valid.  That's a valid answer..." and kept drilling in our heads that, when referring to Walt Disney, brother Roy Disney, Joe Fowler and Card Walker, "if any of these men were not here, if any of these men were not involved in the building of Magic Kingdom... we would not be here today..."

The tour started at 830 that morning, so we were let into the park around 8 or so, which was great, as we were able to take a great number of photographs on Main Street, with the castle in the distance, with no one else around.  The park was nearly empty at that time, except for the few others on the tour already there, and the PhotoPass photographers.

Ron Logan worked for Disney beginning in the 60s, and
in 1978 became the full-time music director for WDW.
Eventually, he became EVP of Disney Entertainment
before retirement in 2001.  Thus, he was honored for
his contribution.   
We began by walking down Main Street, a slow walk as Claire pointed out the windows and the names on the windows.  The names are real, as a "window" is a selective award given to someone for contributions to the company and to the park.  Other "company" names are inside jokes, many of them being names used for dummy corporations when Walt was buying land in Orlando in the 60s.  Names like "Eye-Four Realty" (named for the nearby interstate), and Reedy Creek Realty have "offices" in the windows of Main Street.

We wound our way through the hub and then into Adventure Land, where we sat for a few and peppered Claire with questions about Disney's history, about Walt and other things we could think of.  We then took a trip on the Jungle Cruise on our own private boat.  Claire was the captain as she pointed out various bits of trivia and facts as we went along--things like, the back half of the downed plane on the right side of the boat has its other half located in Hollywood Studio's Great Movie Ride, in the Casablanca scene.

After the Jungle Cruise, we made our way around to Frontier Land, then finally went backstage.  I saw Woody... well, someone dressed as Woody, though he had a human head, holding Woody's head in his hands, then I saw Brer Rabbit pointing to a zipper on his back, telling the Cast Member helping out that the zipper was stuck... in a female voice.  It was kinda weird.  

We also went into the warehouse of some of the floats, and perhaps I missed it, but it seems Claire was ecstatic about seeing the Electrical Light Parade floats there.  I feel as if we should have been more excited because, while it was cool and all, I didn't think it was one of the greatest moments of my entire life.  She also went nuts over a float frame outside, as she said, "This is amazing.  This is the beginning of one of the floats right here.  How lucky we are to see this."  

The group walked to the backside of Splash Mountain where the water holding tank was.  At this particular time, and all week, Splash Mountain was in a refurbish, so it was closed, leaving the holding tank empty.  But we learned that the water from the ride is drained every night into the holding tank, and the ride is walked several times--and this is a whole lotta watta... I mean, a lot. 

Along the way, we saw one of the garbage chutes at work... a chute with three or four baskets at the bottom, and a Cast Member wearing what had to be thick gloves sorting through it.  Walt Disney World recycles, and someone goes through the garbage and sorts it out, all day long.  Algore would be proud.

As we walked from Frontierland to Liberty Square, she pointed out the little antenna looking instruments all over the roofs of buildings all through Magic Kingdom... they are lightning rods.  You won't see them until you see them.  Then you can't help but notice them.

She also pointed out the designs of the buildings from land to land.  The Pecos Bill Cafe, sitting right in the middle of Frontierland, is styled after the old West, with the building facade representing such, while The Hall of Presidents, in Liberty Square, looks like the 1800s Americana.  As you walk from one to the other, you'll see a gradual change in the brick, the windows, the facing, the lettering on the signs, as it morphs from the Old West to Americana.   Quite cool.

After a great lunch at The Columbia Harbour House, the group was treated to a ride on The Haunted Mansion.  Claire talked us through the entire ride, shared secrets, told us things to look for, and what to expect.   One of my favorite facts is that the ride was created by Marc Davis and Claude Coats.   While Davis wanted a zany, gag filled ride that would make you laugh, Coats wanted a more serious, scary tour through the mansion.  A third creator, X Atencio, pulled them together... the first half of the ride is a little creepy, with doors banging and things moving and haunts and spiders and such... when you 'round the bend with Madame Rosetta's orb floating, you start seeing the ghosts and the more slapstick part of the mansion, especially during the graveyard scene.

Marc Davis loved chess, and in the inter-office pranks that went around the Imagineer's areas, someone loving placed chess pieces--rooks, knights, bishops--on the model of the Mansion (which had not been built at that time).  Marc came in and loved it... and added the pieces to the design in the form of columns and turrets.  Great stuff for Disney History enthusiasts like me.

This is how Mickey gets to work.  He parks, and works his way
across the park to where he needs to be.
Finally, we were able to take the stairs down to Magic Kingdom's first floor... didja know that what you see when you walk through Magic Kingdom is actually the 2nd floor?  The first floor is Roy Disney's creation, the Utilidors.  An underground system of tunnels that allows Cast Members to go from one side of the park to the other dressed in appropriate attire (so someone working Space Mountain wouldn't be seen in Fantasyland wearing their space age grey suit), allows food and merchandise to be brought into stores without pushing carts through the open, and allows Cast Members to have places to go for breaks and other things.

However, the Utilidors aren't really all that special.  Yes, its kinda cool to see how the magic happens behind the scenes, and maybe I was imagining this long, white hallway lit with fluorescent bulbs, with gleaming white tile shining from the floor, clean and beautiful, like some hallway to Eden... and it was a drab grey concrete floor, with concrete brick walls, and a regular, plaster tiled ceiling.  While it was neat being down there, it wasn't anything mind-blowing. 

We ended up behind Main Street, and Claire pointed out the rooftop to which Tinkerbell lands from the castle.  The cable went from the topmost spire at Cinderella's castle to a rooftop, where there are Cast Members stationed to break her slide when she hits the rooftop.  She told us that on windy days, she zips down that line at a rapid, rapid pace and can knock those "catching" CMs over.  On some days with no wind, she sometimes stops in the middle of the line, and has to use her hands to get the rest of the way. 

It was things like this that made this tour so awesome.  Full of information, lots of chances to ask questions and some great behind the scenes stuff.   Matter of fact, we liked it so much that we wanted to do it again, so when I was going with Angie (sis-in-law), Mama Ruthless and The Lovely Steph Leann for a weekend (actually, I went for one day, they went for four), we decided to talk them into going.

The second time we took it, our guide was a tall, stocky guy who's name eclipses me, though he was from Hoover, Alabama.  The tour was just as good the second time, but from a different perspective.

They have several different guides that lead the tour, and all concentrate on different things... Claire was a historical buff.  She talked alot about the efforts it took to get the park built, and had a deep admiration for Walt Disney and his partners.  The Other Guy was more current, talked about the day to day operations of the park, telling us "Don't ever come here on July 4th or the week after Christmas.  Just don't."  He also walked us through what it was like on 9/11, and told us stories of the parks, some crazy park guests and some of the ride anecdotes.  

All in all, it was a great tour, one that I wouldn't even mind doing again, once we knock out some of the other things we haven't done yet (Wilderness Lodge Segway, I'm talkin' to you!).   It is a bit pricey, around $100 or so for one person, but if you've been a lot and you want to see something you haven't seen, and you have to money to spend on it, then go for it.

The Summer of Blogging Day Sixty

Thought I'd Wait a Few

Not that I haven't wanted to blog... I just thought after Rob, I would take a little break.  It wasn't to "give everyone the chance to see what I wrote!", it was more of me just not having the desire to do anything.  So, this weekend, I decided I would.  

Thanks for the kind words of those who read it.  And Rob's service was beautiful, and perfect, as was the Hawaiian shirt he was laid to rest in.

The Summer of Blogging Day Fifty Nine

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Goodbye to Rob

While sitting amongst friends tonight at a special dinner, I received a text from my buddy Brad that simply said, "Did you hear about Rob?!"   Quite naturally, I went searching for what he meant, thinking there was some political story that I was going to find and go "oh geez... here we go..."

Rob Murray having some Happy China. Pic courtesy
of Chandler Wallace.  
Instead, when I went to Twitter, I saw essentially the same tweet over and over..."Valleydale Recreational Minister Rob Murray passed away this afternoon from a massive heart attack."  Took me a few minutes to register what that meant, only because Rob is one of those larger than life guys that you will always be there, right?

Oh, sure, he'll pass one day... in about 30 years, when he's in his 80s, and can't remember what day it is.  That's how guys like that die, right?  Live a long life, full of adventure, full of laughs and fun and being someone that people love, adore... and respect.  Live a long life that, when its over, it ends on this Earth and begins an eternal experience with Christ.

But not this time.

Rob Murray was the guy you saw every Sunday morning and every Sunday night.  He was the guy who did announcements with his booming voice and his sly wit.  He was the guy who sat behind the information desk on Wednesday night and told you where to go, gave you instructions on what to do... and was the guy who hosted the Wednesday night meals.

He gave out the questions on the Wednesday night meals, the trivia that you could fill out and turn in and try to win free food for the next week.  He was the guy who introduced the night and led the prayer.  He was the guy who played "Mickey Spleen", the detective character in KidStuf.  He essentially had a hand and/or foot in a dozen areas of the church.

Rob was hilarious.  He was kind, encouraging, smart and full of the Jesus he loved.  He randomly came up to me one day and simply said, "I really enjoy reading the status stuff you post on Facebook.  You are very clever.  And its funny to read between the lines of what you might say and see the sarcasm and wit.  I enjoy it."  Made my day, just to know someone "got" me.

Perhaps its impossible to be All Things To All People... but Rob was So Many Things To So Many People, and perhaps he came closer than anyone I know to that elusive AT2AP level.   And even though I know better, even though I know its not going to be possible, I know that tomorrow morning I'll be walking through the lobby of Valleydale Church (an sbc fellowship, of course) and see him smiling at a new member, or talking to Dekker about whatever movie they hated, or laughing with Rhett Barnett about something inappropriate.

Christ took home a great conversationalist, one that we will miss, but only for a short time.  A tip of the cap to you, Rob Murray, for a life well spent, a friendship developed and a respect earned.

Thank you.  And see you soon.

The Summer of Blogging Day Fifty Eight

The Recession

Thanks to the Facebook page of Hurricane Rhett and Amarylis by Morning (up from San Antone), plus a little Google work, here is a great article about how the recession has hit us hard...

My neighbor got a pre-declined credit card in the mail

CEO's are now playing mini-golf

McDonald's is now selling the 1/4th ouncer

Exxon-Mobil laid off 25 congressmen

I saw a Mormon with only one wife

A picture has been downgraded to being worth only 200 words now

If the bank returns your check marked "insufficient funds", you call them to ask if they meant you or them

Angelina Jolie adopted a child from America

Parents in Beverly Hills fired their nannies and learned their own children's names

My cousin had an exorcism, but couldn't afford to pay for it.  They re-possessed her.

Exotic dancers are suffering injuries because patrons are throwing rolls of pennies at them

A truckload of Americans were caught sneaking into Mexico

When Bill and Hillary travel together, they have to share a room

The Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas is now managed by Somali pirates

Last week, the CEO of Wal-Mart was shopping at Wal-Mart

Walking into the bank, the teller handed me a note that said, "This is a robbery"

I called the Suicide Hotline and got a call number in Pakistan.  When I told them I was suicidal, they got excited and asked me if I could drive a truck

The Summer of Blogging Day Fifty Seven

Friday, August 12, 2011

Birthdays and Babies

So, The Lovely Steph Leann bought me something great for my birthday... its The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on Blu-Ray.   Its a wonderful set, six discs, tons of special features, plus digital copies of all three movies, in case I want to take 17 different lunch breaks at work to watch it on my iPod.

Thank you to my darling wife for this incredible addtion
to my movie shelf...
The problem with this?  I already had it.  I had already gotten it... and I hesitated, smiled and finally said, "um... I've already got it..."  She just frowned.  A few minutes later she handed me the receipt.  She shrugged, "I wish you'd tell me before you buy stuff that I might get you for your birthday.  Next time I'll just give you money."

But she shouldn't fret... what she'll end up getting me, and by "she" I mean "me" with the money I got back from taking LOTR back to Best Buy, is the Star Wars Saga six movie Blu-Ray released in September.   What a great birthday present.

But still, my darling wife did get me Lord of the Rings.  And I love her for it.


We got our baby furniture a few weeks ago.  Whew.

Understand the The Lovely Steph Leann is quite picky when it comes to furniture.  She's not necessarily someone who wants the most expensive stuff out there, but she does want quality and she wants something that will last.  And when she's looking for a piece of furniture, its a lot of "eh" and "yeah, that's nice" and "I guess that's kinda cute" until she finds "it".  When she stumbles on exactly what she is looking for--it's one of those "know it when she sees it" kind of things--then that's it.  But, she always calls me or tells me about it before she purchases anything.

We also registered for our incoming... The Lovely Steph
Leann did most of the picking, because I tended to gear
towards such things as this
So we got our baby crib, one that converts into a double bed eventually.  However, in somewhat of a racket, I learned you have to buy the rails to go with it when it turns into said double bed.   All that money for a crib conversion, and you have to buy the extra parts.  Yes, its a racket.

We got us a glider and an ottoman, one that I'm sure we'll be using quite a bit, and a dresser that will be used as a changing table as well.  And where did we buy it?  Target, right?  Nope.  Pier 1 Imports?  Nope.  Bed Bath and Beyond?  Expensive, but nope.  Buy Buy Baby?  Expensive as well, but nope.  We bought it all at... Storkland.  And I hope when Lorelei or Campbell gets here, that kid understands they are sleeping, pooping, crying and growing in a well priced room..

But, I've got the satisfaction of knowing that The Lovely Steph Leann will never look at our furniture and say, "Oh, its good... I kinda wish we had gotten..." and thats worth the price.


Okay, so you first time parents... did you have a billion people tell you over and over how your life was going to change?  It seems everyone thinks that I have no clue about how babies work.  Yep, I've never had, nor taken care of a kid.  However, I'm pretty sure I know they cry.  I have a good idea that they are messy.  I've heard, and believe, that they are expensive.  And I keep hearing that they are life changing.

Usually it goes like this... someone older than me, usually a chick, will come up, and ask about The Lovely Steph Leann.  When I tell the someone that she is great, they'll tell me, "Oh you have no idea what you are in for... they'll keep you up all night, and eat you out of house and home, and they'll keep you tired and run ragged and you'll not have time for anything else!"

And then they'll end their diatribe with, "But they are so worth it."

So please stop telling me this.  Not sure you'll tell me anything I didn't already know, or at least anything that I haven't heard is coming.


Finally... thanks to all the well wishes from so many people on Facebook and texting and otherwise... it was a great, great birthday, and while I feel 36, I still don't feel old...

The Summer of Blogging Day Fifty Six

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The First 12 Hours in Troy

This is the story of my very first night at Troy State University, circa the first week of September 1993... the following is true, with the events happening just as I remember them.  

In September 1993, when I first moved in Alumni Hall, at Troy State University in Troy, Alabama, I was supposed to have a roommate named Cedric.  I had a feeling he was a big brotha, and was okay with that.  The only four people I actually knew at Troy State, at least prior to the six or seven people I met at Orientation Weekend a few months prior, were Leslie Whigham, Jennifer Lambert, LaToya Morgan and Cindy Howell--the first three were classmates from Samson High, the last was an on-again off-again chick I went out with from Coffee Springs, Alabama.   That is to say, I wasn't going to room with any of those people.

From my driveway on Johnson Street in Samson, Alabama, to the parking lot of Alumni Hall at Troy State is right around 53 miles, or close to an hour's drive.  Just enough distance to be away, to get away, to not be home, but not enough distance to never be truly away, to not fully get away, to be home when I wanted to be.  In my 1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, I packed it tightly fully with stuff, clothes, shoes, junk and more... for whatever reason, I left my television, VCR and movies there... maybe there wasn't enough room, but I would like to think that I would have made room... stupid college boy.

On my way to Troy, for move-in day, I stopped in Enterprise, Alabama, at a little hat shop.  It was located in a little strip of businesses sitting in front of the then-about-three-years old Wal-Mart Supercenter, called something like Champ Hats or Hats R Us or some crap like that.  For whatever reason, I decided I needed me a new ballcap for moving in.  My favorite hat was my limited edition Orlando Magic khaki hat, but I wanted something different for move-in day... I wanted a Texas Longhorn hat. 

I found the one I wanted and plunked down about $20 bucks for it.  Burnt orange, with no letters, just a big, silver, embroidered Longhorn silhouette in the front.  I immediately bent down the bill of the cap. to give it some shape and then put it on.  It fit perfectly (as an aside, you should know I no longer have that hat, though I only recently got rid of it... some time last year, in a clean sweep of The Cabana, I tried it on, and it barely covered my head.  It was so tight, I thought I'd have a migraine... apparently, all of me, head included, has suffered from the endless supply of doughnuts and basic cable and lack of excercise.   So I tossed it) that day, and I continued up to Troy, Alabama.

So, on a sunny afternoon, coulda been a Monday, coulda been a Thursday, I have no clue, I pulled into the parking lot of Alumni Hall and walked to the front desk to check in and get my key.  I showed my ID, and was handed a little envelope with a key in it.  In messy, handwritten scrawl, it said "Rm 315-B".  I looked up and immedately the guy behind the counter pointed left and said, "Its the B wing, its that way." 

"Thanks!" I said, and I walked into the doors that led to the B Wing of Alumni Hall.  I was in college, about to live in a dorm!  My Oldsmobile was out front, but I wanted to get an idea of where I'd have to park, where a staircase was in relation to my room, and to see if Cedric was there yet.  I could care less if they guy were black or white or brown or whatever, I just didn't want him to be like, 350 pounds and take up half the room.  I figured out the main level was the 2nd floor, so I took a flight of stairs up to the third floor, then emerged at the end of the hall.  I watched the door numbers increase--301.... 303... 307... 310... finally, 315.  I put the key in the lock and opened it...

...and truly, I had no idea what to expect.  So my expectations weren't necessarily up or down, but what I saw was great.  On the left side were two desk areas, separated by a closet area.  On top of both desk and closet areas were shelves that ran along the wall.  On the right side were two beds, one in the nearest corner, one in the far corner, with the far corner bed being right by the air unit.  I walked in slowly, looked around and sighed happily... I WAS IN COLLEGE!!!

That was so long ago.  I was barely 18, had not a lick of sense and was clueless to anything in the real world, growing up in Podunky down south.  I remember my first Honors English class with a chick  teacher who married a Brit, so therefore she had really hairy armpits, something that I and Mandy Stewart who sat next to me at the big, long table, noticed quickly.

Anyway, back to Alumni Hall... I chose the bed closer to the door, putting my backpack down on that bed, and then figured there was nothing else to do but, you know, move in.  For the first one or two trips out the door, down the flight of steps, then down the outside steps to the Oldsmobile, I locked the door as I left, forcing me to unlock it as I went back in.   However, after one particularly uncomfortable armful of junk that I almost dropped after trying to fidget with my key, I decided not only to leave the door unlocked, but also slightly ajar.

All my stuff out of the car and into the room, I started unpacking, hanging up my clothes, setting up my desk with pictures and mementos of home and desk stuff and... my very first answering machine.  Thats right, merely days before, I used some of my saved money and purchased a real Bellsouth Phone with an answering machine, and I even bought an extra little micro cassette. 

But still no Cedric.  Getting hungry, as it was late in the day, I kept expecting my new roommate to show up, but I'd heard neither hide nor hair of the big lug.  So, on a blank sheet of paper, I scribbled the words:

Hey Cedric,

Went to grab some dinner.  Be back soon.  Looking forward to meeting you. 

Your roommate,

I taped it on the closet sliding door, using the Scotch tape from my newly organized desk, and then made my way to the Adams Center, ate a personal pizza, took in all I could watching everything and everyone, then came back to the room... and no Cedric. 

The evening actually turned out to be a little boring.  I didn't really know anyone, nor did I know how I would find them.  I had been invited to a Delta Chi party by one of the orientation leaders from a month or two back, but I really had no interest in Delta Chi nor the parties... seems like the guys in the hall did though, because it was mostly deserted.  I then remembered and fully regretted my decision to leave my TV and videos at home.  Not even a radio, my Walkman cassete player or music of any kind--I didn't own a single CD, nor could I have afforded a CD player, portable or not. 

As I lay there in my bed, with the over head lights shining bright--I didn't bring my lamp--my head was beginning to hurt.  The novelty, the excitement, the anxiety of being a college student had worn off, reality had set in... I was still a little hungry, I didn't know anyone nor have a person to talk to, and worst of all, I had absolutely nothing... nothing... to do.  Not even a book to read.  My headache started. 

By 8p, I had enough.  I was going home.  Like most kids at 18 years old, when I didn't feel good, I just wanted to be somewhere relaxing, somewhere comfortable, somewhere familiar.. somewhere where Mom was.  Headache moved in quickly, so with my temples pounding, I stood up, grabbed my keys and decided I was going home.  Class didn't start for another few days, I could be home by 10, wake up tomorrow and load my television, VCR and considerably sized movie collection into my backseat and come back tomorrow, start over and at least watch some TV.

It was probably foolish to drive with such a headache, a borderline migraine if you will, because I started feeling nauseous.  About 8 miles out of Troy, headed south, you pass an area with project housing, and right past that, another little community that I can never remember the name of.  It was while I was passing through the project housing (it was safe, the highway ran through it with two little sets of houses on each side) when I felt it.  I felt the pizza.  It was rumbling.  Food court pizza + headache + moving vehicle = bad times ahead.

So it was there, right past the projects, close to the next little community that I can't remember the name of, it was there that the pizza made its reappearance.  One hand on the wheel, the other hand went immediately to my mouth to block what was coming... but the force of vomit is such that the hand cannot stop it, but can only hope to contain it.  My dinner flew out and as it hit my hand, my fingers acted as dividers, so instead of one stream of disgustion, the ralphness flew it about four different directions, with each stream between each fingers going a different direction.

It was over as soon as it started--but the damage was done.  I eased off of the side of the road and flipped on the overhead light to survey the damage.  It was a upchuck wasteland.  Chunks of stomach acid, pizza and fries (and I didn't even have fries) dripped from the windshield, the steering wheel and the dash... a little bit puddled in the passenger seat, some blocked the speedometer... and my hand was filthy.  My arm was laced.  The hand that covered my mouth was only slightly worse as the one on the wheel, as it caught some of the stream.

Ever had one of those headaches that, after you get rid of your stomach contents, you feel better?  Like whatever is rolling through your gut is controlling your wellness?  Same here.  I got rid of the personal pizza, and I felt worlds better.  Well, that, and the now somewhat disgusting issue of being 8 miles outside of Troy at 9pm on a weekend night, with a car who's interior is drenched with vomit, a shirt dribbling with gross and hands and arms that are sticky awful.

And now... there's another problem.  Somehow I have lost the $200 that was in the pocket of my green striped Duck Head shorts.  I don't know where, I don't know how, but the ten 20s that were folded over and held together by the little money clip with a $ on it that Tammy Thomas gave me for graduation are gone.

The headache now virtually gone, the puke now forgotten, the only thing that matters is the missing money.  I back the car up to shine the headlights in the area, and start looking.  I look and look and look... and nothing. My lunch money, my spending money, my necessities money, all gone.  And my parents surely don't have the money to replace it... no food!  No movies!  No snacks!  No turkey dressing!  No turkey a'la king!  No turkey hash!  Its gone!  All gone!

I need a flashlight!  And where am I going to get one of those?  So, I knock on two or three doors, get some creepy looks and some blank stares and some quick hello-goodbyes, but I managed to procure a flashlight.  I looked around and around and around... and nothing.  Its just gone.  Some kid from the projects will be meandering down the road the next day, wondering where he's going to get money for the upcoming Tupac CD and bullets for his next drive-by, and he'll stumble across a little gold clip with a $ on it, containing a coupla benjamins worth of bills.  My bills.  Gone.

An hour later, I was in an Alumni Hall shower for the first time in my life, rinsing off the putridity.  I made the decision to cut my losses and just make the 15 minute drive back to the room.   Cedric the roommate was still a no-show, and my stained clothes were in a pile in the corner.  I wiped out my car as best I could, and elected to take my chances and leave the car with the windows half-down... outside of the visual, the smell had already taken hold.

Once I had lived in Alumni for a week or so, I learned the Shower Stall Two Step, that being when the water hesitates for a second, that means someone just flushed a toilet... so you need to step aside for a second because the water is about to get close to 450 degrees, again for just a second.   Didn't know that the first night, though.  Not something that you learn in orientation.  The water skipped a beat and I was surprisingly scorched.  Overall, though, I cleaned up real nice.

Back in the room, I attempted to wipe down the dirty shirt... luckly, the Duck Heads weren't affected, and as I went to lay them across the empty bed, I felt the weight in the back pocket... and after sticking my hands in the back pocket... down deep, deeper than I knew Duck Head pockets went, was a little money clip.  One that has a $ on it, and ten 20s inside.  Score.

And I smiled.  What a day.  I adjusted the air unit just right, I lay back in my bed on my Aladdin sheets, pulled my butterfly quilt up, and closed my eyes.  It was a good first day after all.

By the way, Cedric never showed up.  I had my own room for the entire first quarter, turning the empty bed into a couch with pillows and such.  I went back the next day and retrieved my TV, VCR and big movie collection, ending up becoming a Movie Gallery for my side of the hall.  And I did make friends, despite the fact I was incredibly annoying and had a great lack of common sense.

The Summer of Blogging Day Fifty Five