Friday, September 28, 2007

Random thoughts from my day:

  • I was really excited about tonight's new episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but now I feel a bit let down. To be fair, we only watched the first of the two episodes before Mark had to crash. I guess the best way to describe the episode we saw would be "lackluster". It definitely was not the laugh riot we have come to expect - especially from an episode entitled: "The Aluminum Monster vs. Fatty McGoo". That should be guaranteed comedy gold. Sadly, it was not.
  • MySpace sucks. Hard.
  • I never thought the day would come when another machine would dare challenge my TiVo for my affections, but I was clearly mistaken. The hubby got me a brand-new-to-me, mostly-shiny, gently-used laptop computer for my birthday/anniversary. It's hardly state-of-the-art, but then again, neither am I. It's gently rolling me right into the 21st century, and that's just the right pace for me: a slow roll. That's not to say that Keith is slow (yup, I named it Keith). He's actually much faster than most of the computers in this house, especially the trusty old desktop I used up until last week. I already forget his name... Anyway, Keith & I have begun to develop a deep and meaningful relationship. I would thank my husband for the thoughtful gift, but I haven't seen him since he hooked Keith up to the wi-fi a few days ago. I'm sure he's around here somewhere... I'll track him down the next time I need some tech support.
  • Did I mention that MySpace sucks? Like, a LOT? I know, I've been saying this for years. Well, I guess it's really only been weeks, since I've only been on MySpace since the beginning of July. It just feels like years. When I first set up my profile, I didn't really have any basis of comparison. It was my first foray into online networking and blogging, and I'm not very tech-savvy (obviously). I needed a lot of hand-holding, and figured that MySpace was probably a good choice for that. WRONG! That's not to say that I didn't learn from the experience... I've picked up a lot about social networking & the blogosphere very quickly, and not entirely by choice. The MySpace experiment has turned out to be one marathon technical difficulty, and I had to scour the 'net for tweaks, fixes and alternatives just to keep my head from exploding. You haven't lived until you've spent 4 hours carefully setting every font in the right place and every color in just the right shade, just to find the next day that MySpace somehow arbitrarily changed or even deleted your code. I liken MySpace to the Bermuda Triangle - up becomes down, black becomes white, and no rhyme or reason can penetrate the dark mystery of its many failures. My husband works in html for a living, and after many tearfilled pleas, has tried to help me figure out what the hell is going on. But even he, Director of IT for a web development firm, has yet to create any code that can withstand the dreaded MySpace Curse. So, I officially give up. Keith & I are going to start seeing other blogs. I stuck a lovely pre-made Blackadder layout on that puppy, and I'm just gonna let it ride. It's disappointing, since I had so much fun those first few weeks setting it up, and such high hopes for keeping it updated and interesting. I will continue to attempt to update items to it weekly like I have been, but from now on, I will not try to overcome the inane technical obstacles that will inevitably come up. I've found far better things to do with my time, like setting up this blog exactly the way I want it. It's like a beautiful, beautiful dream... So, expect to start seeing lots of video clips popping up over here as I try to wean myself away from MySpace. *sigh*
  • "This is so totally going on my blog..." For any How I Met Your Mother fans out there who missed Monday's premiere episode, there is a new web page that you won't want to miss. I've just added a widget to my sidebar that accomplishes the same thing, but it just doesn't have that creepy, ominous feel. I recommend you still check out Marshall's version here. Now, in case you've missed it, here are a few clips to help explain everything:

Let the countdown begin!

(I've noticed that these clips aren't loading too well in Blogger, so if you're having difficulties too, just check out the clips on YouTube here and here. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tales From the Hoff

I think I may have just scooped Laura, who is by far the undisputed Hoff-meister expert in the family...

Read the news here.

I also found a website with some pretty useful Hoff-related merchandise.


One Night in Brazil

I'm SO proud!

I'll leave it to you to decide which one is the Lady and which is the Tramp. They both look pretty trampy, if you ask me. You didn't see any of the actual ladies present behaving that way.

I think my favorite picture, though, is the one that best sums up our evening:

"I get my kicks above the waistline, Sunshine."

True dat.

Yet another rant about the media

As I sit here typing, I'm watching Jon Stewart having an in-depth interview with Evo Morales on The Daily Show. Don't know who that is? Well, I'm not surprised. He comes from a country which has no oil and therefore gives us no reason to invade or colonize. Bolivia does have the second largest natural gas reserves in South America, but that's pretty far down on the neocons' list of priorities right now - somewhere below pre-emptive war with Iran but above free kittens for abortionists.

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about Evo Morales... He considers himself a socialist, and is a champion of the unions - mostly due to his past experiences as a coca grower. I can go along with most of that, socialist that I am. And I do love me some coca.

Some of his other stances make me a bit uncomfortable. Morales has said that "The worst enemy of humanity is U.S. capitalism." That's a bit too much, I think. He also supports building an "Axis of Good" with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. I get nervous any time someone refers to creating an "Axis" of anything, Of course, I feel the same way when people talk about a Coalition of the Willing. What the frick is that supposed to mean? The answer, I believe, is nothing - it's purely a diversionary tactic, and therefore not to be trusted.

All of this is beside the point, though. My ire was raised not by any political stance discussed during the interview, but rather by the interview itself. I can remember a time when news outlets were climbing all over themselves to get an interview with any foreign head of state, especially the controversial ones. But now, when Evo Morales or Perves Musharraf come to America and want to address us through the media, where do they go? NBC Nightly News? CBS, or ABC? No, they end up in front of a live audience, talking to a man who, despite being a comedian, makes more sense and asks more pertinent questions than any so-called "journalist" in this country.

I don't claim to know whether this happens because the other media outlets turn their backs on these heads of state, or if they actively choose to go on The Daily Show over those other programs. I could certainly see the appeal, particularly with vocal Bush critic Morales. I think Musharraf did do some interviews with CNN and 60 minutes, but I think he hit The Daily Show first. And I still think it points out a sad reality about the state of the media in this country. A self-proclaimed "fake news show" is fast becoming more relevant than the more established, traditional media. And this makes me sad.

Don't misunderstand - I love the fake news. And I'm glad that the show is getting some respect, as it certainly should. But when The Daily Show was created over 10 years ago, it was meant to spoof the trend of combining news with entertainment. But the intervening years have taken all the sarcasm out of the premise. It could be just another news show, only with better jokes. I actually get more news from The Daily Show than I do from just about any other American so-called "news program".

I long for the days when American newsrooms ran independently from the entertainment segment of the networks; when making a buck off the news was not the ultimate goal. The point used to be to provide your viewers with the best possible information, even if it didn't make your network a dime. Networks did this with the theory that if you provide reliable news every day, your viewers would reward you with loyalty & stick around to watch whatever entertainment was on the lineup. They also did this because it was the right thing to do. I'm afraid that's a time now lost to history.

And there's no excuse for it. Technology has graced us with a myriad of new ways to keep people informed about current events and things that affect their daily lives. Those sources are out there and are often used by those of us with the time and curiosity to seek them out. But news has always been meant for the masses, and there are so many methods to disseminate news to the world that, for one reason or another, have not been used to their fullest. I wonder why that is so...

Why is it that technology allows CNN, Fox and other cable news to run a constant headline ticker, providing up-to-date information on the same handful of irrelevent stories that have no bearing on our lives? Screw all the elaborate graphics and tickers. I'd be much happier with a more traditional 30 minute newscast with a real mix of local, national and international news. (I actually do watch something like that, at least the closest I could find - BBC News America.) I don't need 15 minutes of weather and 20 minutes of sports; I would much rather spend that time finding out what's actually going on in the world.

But Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone and all the other old, pasty media moguls wouldn't make nearly as much money that way, so for now the best way for an American to find news is to seek it from other countries. This, I think, is the saddest of all. We used to have the most talented, elite journalists in the world. Now most of our news shows are anchored by "personalities". Just using that word makes my stomach turn.

But unless we start demanding better information, this trend will only continue. We need to tell the networks that, as much as we enjoy our mindless diversions like Can You Dance Better Than a 5th Grader, we also require just an hour a day of serious, unbiased information about what's going on in the world. They can fill it full of commercials for the other mindless drivel that I love so much - just fill in the rest with actual reporting on issues and events that have an impact on our lives.

If they won't, we might start to get the feeling that they don't want us to be informed. After all, an uninformed populace is much easier to manipulate and control. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Don't Fear the Reaper

We are now 2 days into the new fall TV season, and so far all I've been able to watch is Family Guy (excellent, btw, especially for all my Star Wars uber-nerds out there) and The Simpsons (despite the presence of superstars Stephen Colbert & Lionel Richie, not a great episode).

Certainly I could make time in my busy schedule to watch more than that, but I like to save most of the shows to watch with Mark. What can I say - I'm a romantic.

So I haven't yet had the pleasure of watching the series premiere of Reaper on The CW (dumbest name for a network ever), but I've heard some great things. To be honest, I'd probably still check it out even if I'd heard horrible things - I'd watch just about anything Kevin Smith directed. Even porn - which may actually happen, based on the title of his latest work in progress.

My biggest fear about Reaper is that it will be totally awesome, but no one but me will watch it. That seems to be happening more and more over the past few years. So I've decided to do my part & get the word out to as many people as possible.

Now all you have to do is watch it.

Every Picture Tells A Story, Don't It?

I was going to write something brilliant to go with the shameful photographs I mentioned yesterday, but I realized that they don't really need any further explanation, past the captions already provided.

I'm sure I'll be dragging these photos out at every possible opportunity in the future, posting them in random places on my blogs. They're just too funny!

For now, though, I'll settle for a quick slideshow of the event, with captions pointing out the important stuff.

All credit, honor & glory for these photographs rightly goes to my sister Laura, who remembered her camera and took most of these pictures.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sordid tales of debauchery

This is a pre-emptive strike.

By this time tomorrow, there will undoubtedly be some blackmail-worthy photographs of both me and my husband (yet, oddly, not the two of us together) floating around on the interwebs.

I have only one thing to say:

We're really not quite as drunk as we look.

In my case, this isn't very important - the photos in which I appear are not so bad, so I don't feel the need to deflect any blame. Mark, on the other hand... Well, the "inebriated" excuse would have come in handy for him. Let's just say that he confirmed a lot of suspicions we all had regarding the nature of his relationship with his best friend & former college roommate (AKA Mr. Repressed), who also happens to be married to my sister. Laura and I were thrilled, of course, as were the unsuspecting fellow diners. Ah, young love!

At least he's keeping it in the family...possibly a little TOO much in the family. There are also some questionable pictures of Mark with my cousin, Erik. Again, we've always wondered about those two. They seem a bit too close, if you know what I mean. So the behavior is hardly surprising, although I DO question the decision to act that way right in front of their wives - their wives who were the Birthday Girls, and were SUPPOSED to be the belles of the ball. I'm afraid we were out-"belle"d by our loving husbands. Good times!

In closing, I want to wish Cindy a happy, happy birthday, and thank her ever so much for organizing our rowdy triple date. She was the only one of us who even pretended to behave herself at dinner. Also, let me give a rousing shout out to the folks at the Brazilian Grill Steakhouse in Indy. They were very indulgent of our shenanigans, PLUS they brought us all the meat we could collectively consume. We give it 6 thumbs up (or would it be 12?). It's a bit pricey, so will likely be a special-event restaurant for us, but I think we will definitely return - if they'll have us, that is. I'm expecting the sexual harassment papers any day from the poor server - MALE server, in keeping with the rest of the evening - to whom Mark professed his love. I married such a man-whore!

And, unfortunately, the pictures ARE accurate. *Sigh!*

Thursday, September 20, 2007

My new template (I call it Serenity Now)

For anyone out there who may be wondering about my new tropical template, I thought I would provide a bit of explanation.

I basically chose a template that I thought would work well with the photo I used for background in my header. I took that picture about 5 years ago while on a Disney World vacation with Mark. We were walking through our resort to catch the first bus to Magic Kingdom, and our surroundings were so beautiful in the morning light that I had to stop and take a few pictures to try to capture it.

I generally take lousy photographs - I maintain that I've only taken 2 good ones in my life. But that is my very favorite photo, mostly because it just makes me feel peaceful. I used to tack it up in my cubicle at work for those stressful days that always come along, and just looking at it would give me a sense of calm. So, I decided to try to bring some of that feeling to everyone who reads my blog.

And if anyone was wondering about the 2nd good photo I've taken... well, it was a bit more recent.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


As you may have noticed, I've been making some improvements to my blog. At least, I hope they're improvements... I like to think they are.

I've been on a quest to find the best blog to suit my needs. I've been completely annoyed with the MySpace blog, so much so that I would love to stop using it completely. That will probably not happen, since it gets so much more traffic than this blog, but I'm certainly not going to waste any more time fighting with it. From now on, my Blogger posts will just be cut and pasted into my MySpace blog... at least until I can get people into the habit of reading this one instead.

Anyway, since I've decided to stay here awhile, I've spent some time fixing things up on my pages. That's right - I said "pages", plural. It's not exactly that I have so much to say, but more that I have a lot of stuff that I want to post without bogging my main blog page down too much.

For now, I have created 3 additional pages that I have linked to this one - you will find the links at the top of the right sidebar on each page. One page is dedicated to photos and slideshows, and each of my 2 cats now has her own page. A bit silly, but I thought it was kind of fun. I will continue to post all my blogs to this page as I did before. I intend to treat the others more like static pages, only adding to them when I have new pictures or exciting kitty news.

My other big addition is my new photo Collection page on Shutterfly. I've spent the past few weeks scanning every photograph I could lay my hands on, eventually ending up with over 1700 pictures. The best of these have been organized into slideshows, which I posted on my new photo page. But for any of my family and friends out there who want to view the entire collection, you can find it here.

The pictures there are also arranged into albums, which can be viewed either individually or as slideshows. There really isn't a convenient way to download them from Shutterfly, though - you can right click on individual photos and save them, but they won't be photo-quality. I plan to distribute all of them on CDs to everyone in the family when I'm finished scanning & organizing. But in the meantime, if you're looking for a certain picture, I've got you covered.

Also, there are several very old family photographs posted there that no one here can identify. So if you know who is in them, please let me know! If they were found in a box with other photos from a particular branch of the family, I labeled them as such - for example, "undated unidentified family photo, probably Bennett". Hopefully this means of labeling will help to narrow things down.

Last, I wanted to share a new slideshow that I created from all my newly-scanned family pictures. This one isn't posted on my photo page, since all the pictures are already there in other slideshows. Consider this one a "greatest hits" collection:

The Ghost of Birthdays Past

September 18, 1974

September 18, 1976

September 18, 1978

September 18, 1979

Wow, I'm OLD!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Monday, September 10, 2007

The "Sunny" Review, Part 2: Return of the Corporate Shill

The husband read my review of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” today. While he seemed to agree with my general opinions on the show, he was a bit disappointed that I had left out some of his favorite parts.

So, without further ado, here is the list of Lessons Mark Learned From Watching The First 4 Episodes of “Sunny” Season 3:

  • Sometimes abortions just “don’t take”.

  • Frank may not be Dee’s real father, but they are related.

  • A rat could beat a scorpion.

  • It is possible for an asshole to rip in half like tissue paper.

  • The park sucks because it’s too goddamn bright, and there isn’t enough room to drink.

  • For a dumpy little hobbit, Frank makes a pretty good John McClane.

  • Mac is a born smasher.

  • The dude who played Kevin on “The Wonder Years” is actually a damn fine director (”Daddy Day Camp” notwithstanding).

  • Acid makes Charlie lose his shit.

  • While Dennis was a model child, Dee was a disappointment and a mistake.

  • You really don’t want to know what that’s a jar of.

  • Frank carries his gun everywhere.

  • If you want to make Charlie very happy, read him some excerpts from Dee’s middle school diary.

  • Maybe if Mac hadn’t banged all their friends’ sisters, the gang might have someone left to tell the world about their achievements and carry on their legacy.

So many lessons! “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is definitely a show with a message.

Don’t forget to tune in for the season premiere this Thursday, September 13th at 10pm Eastern on FX.

I'm nothing but a corporate shill (AKA The "Sunny" Season 3 Review)

I have an embarrassing admission to make. I'm nothing more than a common huckster, and worse than that, I'm shilling for none other than the Prince of Darkness himself, Rupert Murdoch. That's right - just send a little swag my way and I'll sell out my own grandmother in a heartbeat.

By way of explanation, I've been recruited by an independent marketing firm to review the first few episodes of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", which airs on Fox network's cable outlet, FX. All it took to bring me over to the dark side was a preview disc and an awesome Paddy's Pub t-shirt. Shameless, isn't it?

Perhaps it is precisely this flaw in my character which drew me to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" in the first place. It's exactly the kind of self-serving behavior you're likely to see depicted on the show. Mac, Dennis, Dee, Charlie and Frank are not merely unsympathetic characters - they're amoral bottom feeders. As one of the guest stars this season so aptly put it, they "are the most horrible people alive".

"Sunny" is a tough show to describe to the uninitiated. I've found it best to just force random passersby to watch it for themselves. To that end, I popped in the preview DVD while my family had dinner last night. My husband had only watched one episode previously, and my dad had never seen the show.

After 22 solid minutes of choking on our swiss steak, Mark & I first hosed ourselves off, then volunteered to take the rest of the episodes elsewhere to watch, so we wouldn't keep bothering Dad. "Hell no!" exclaimed my 62-year-old father. "That's funnier than any damn thing I watched all last year...except maybe Scrubs." He's not exactly in the target demographic, but I don't think any 18-to-35 year old could have put it more eloquently.

As for myself, I haven't laughed so hard so continuously since watching an entire season of "Arrested Development" back-to-back on DVD. And I guess the two shows actually have a few things in common, such as the lack of a studio audience or laugh track, and the lack of any moral fiber in the characters. But where "Arrested" was dry and subtle, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is loud and in your face. It's dark, it's subversive, it's often offensive - most importantly, it's very funny. And that's the mark of a truly great sitcom (or at least it should be).

Regarding the new season, I'm just not the breed of cat to hit you with the spoilers. Despite the alacrity with which I sacrificed my principles, I do still have some standards... But surely it couldn't be considered spoiling to reveal the titles of the first 4 episodes (which, as any true "Sunny" fan knows, always cut right to the point). We have:

Episode 1 - The Gang Finds A Baby In A Dumpster ("Well, put it back! It doesn't belong to you!")

Episode 2 - The Gang Gets Invincible (that's "Invincible" as in "the New Kids On The Block movie" about the Philadelphia Eagles)

Episode 3 - Dennis And Dee's Mom Is Dead (For real this time. How can that not be pure comedy gold?)

Episode 4 - The Gang Gets Held Hostage (Well, of course they do. It's not like they've ever made any enemies...)

Rather than try to outline the finer points of the plots, I thought I'd share with everyone the Lessons I Learned From The First 4 Episodes of "Sunny", Season 3:
  • Charlie's mother is a giant whore.
  • Putting an old boombox in a plastic bag makes an awesome shower radio.
  • Dumpster babies are heavy.
  • There is no way that a mouse could kill a scorpion.
  • Dee has bones made of glass, feet like wrecking balls, and her body is "like, 90% scoliosis".
  • McPoyles like it hot & clammy, and have thin corneas.
  • Dennis has the stride of a beautiful, beautiful gazelle-person.
  • Stockholm Syndrome does not cause a sore throat.
  • No one understands the subtleties of Charlie's retardation better than Mac.
  • A cool Ali Baba sword could "chop a camel right in its hump", allowing you to drink its milk right off the tip.
  • You do NOT want to accidentally stumble into Charlie's "Bad Room".
  • You can survive for at least 3 days on nothing but hand soap and toilet water.
You, too, can learn all these things and more by tuning in to "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" this season, starting with the back-to-back season episodes this Thursday, September 13th at 10pm Eastern. If you choose not to watch, you'd best heed Charlie's words of warning:

"If here by now then bad place be. Trouble time 4 U when heat comes."

Sobering words, indeed. Do yourself a favor and watch.

Later, bitches!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Apparently, I have connections...

I just got my mail, and I received my Season 3 preview DVD of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia from their marketing company. Yay for me!

It arrived complete with the 1st four episodes of Season 3, plus a "medium" t-shirt that wouldn't even fit me as a glove. But still... pretty freakin' awesome, right?

Mark wants to watch, too, so I'm going to wait until he's done working, but then the rest of my Saturday is gonna be a Sunnypalooza.

I'll be posting my review of these episodes as soon as I can, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

One big, happy family

Actually, I think this was technically before we were all officially related, but no matter...
As the immortal Tears for Fears so eloquently put it, it's funny how time flies.

I always KNEW Eric Stoltz was a Muppet!

Pulp Muppets

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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Time to start gettin' Sunny!

Check it out, bitches! New Sunny episodes in just 2 weeks. Are you ready... or do you need some Sunny love to get in the mood?? Never fear! I've gotcha covered.

Watch these, or I'll have to go all blogosphere all over your ass... whatever that means. Just watch the show!

The new season starts September 13th. Also, be sure to check out The Sunny Road Trip Experience. Go to right now to see when they'll be in your town.