Thursday, December 31, 2009

Putting 2009 To Bed

Okay, so there's not much happening today.

The wife made plans to have the Mother In Law and her Beau over this evening whilst I slept in this morning, so I woke to find that I would need to start picking up the house a bit and be ready for guests.

I picked up the house and ran the recycling to the bins, then picked up a late lunch for myself, which helped my mood dramatically. The blood sugar is a huge factor in my mood, that's for sure.

I ate back at the house while watching another ep of Battlestar Galactica, leaving me a single disc to watch to round out the first season, though I wasn't able to wrap it up this 'year'.

I grabbed a shower while the wife put the finishing touches on her meal, a beef tenderloin, baked potatoes and a Caesar salad. The MIL and the Beau arrived, we opened a bottle of wine that they brought, leaving it to decant, as it was something of a bear to get into, the cork retreating into the bottle itself to escape the corkscrew. I was already on the Maker's & Diet Coke, so I decided to pass on the wine this evening, especially after the happy couple described the taste as 'smoky', which didn't sound appealing at all.

We dug into dinner, visited and generally shooting the breeze, then were surprised by the Middle Sister and her family, who had dessert with us and caught up a bit before everyone split around 8:00 or so. At least I think it was 8:00; wasn't actually paying the clock much attention.

The wife and I chilled in the den and rounded out 2009 with the first two films in The Thin Man series, which were being run in a marathon on TCM this evening. I've only seen the first one, so I was quite happy to see that I could record all six films in their entirety this evening/tomorrow morning and watch them over the weekend. 2010 came in as most other years have, with little local fanfare save for some yahoos shooting off fireworks somewhere locally, but thankfully not close enough to make me worry they'd set the house on fire or anything.

And now I'm doing this before calling it a night.

Be seeing you.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Movie After Movie After Movie (Or: Who Needs The Outside World?)

I actually left the house today, though I still haven't shaved, as I want to go as Howard Hughes for New Years...

Whattaya mean there's not a costume party? I've been saving all this urine and toenail clippings for nothing? Bah.

I honestly hope we don't end up doing anything for New Year's, just staying in with the wife would be a relaxing way to end what has been a rather good year, though packed with loss here in the final quarter.

As I was saying, I left the home today to pick up lunch while the wife was out running some errands, then brought food home so that we could eat together and chill. We watched another MST3K flick on Netfux Instant Watch, a terrible little affair called Horrors Of Spider Island, about shipwrecked women and an island with large spiders, or at least the one that bites their manager and turns him into a weird man-spider. I've found that you can pretty easily fast-forward over the skits in between film heckling on the Netfux Instant system. This is a God-send, as I find the film stuff hilarious, but their goofy interstitial material is just fucking interminable to me. It's like watching bad community theater or something.

Stay The Hell Out Of Naples!The wife caught a nap while I watched another Netfux Instant selection, an Italian film called Gomorrah, which is a Martin Scorcese produced film that looks at the criminal gangs that (according to this film) seem to run Naples. Set in the squalid apartment blocks and surrounding areas, the film follows a host of characters as they go about their lives, either within the criminal world, trying to skirt it as much as possible, or one pair of reckless idiots who are determined to find a way into a gang. The reckless idiots actually seem to be dealt with more patience than I would have expected, not sure if that was for the sake of plot to keep their story moving or what, but they keep doing stupid shit and no one just shoots them, which is what I was expecting.

We made ourselves a bit of dinner and I popped in a flick that I desperately need to review for Pop Syndicate, a task I've been woefully lax about these past few months.

Motherfucker!The Taking Of Pelham 123 remake was actually pretty damned engaging, but I've always liked Tony Scott's crazy visuals and manic style of directing, while others may criticize it for those very same elements. John Travolta is in that rambling terrorist mode of things like Swordfish or Broken Arrow, chewing scenery left, right and center, though he starts out kinda subdued, then is soon throwing around the word 'motherfucker' like it's punctuation in a sentence. It was very amusing to watch; the wife commented "I think he'd do well with some medication" as he randomly flew off the handle for the umpteenth time and started threatening a hostage's life.

We called it a night shortly afterward, I plan on spending tomorrow working on a couple of reviews, then New Year's Day taking down all the Christmas stuff for another year.

Be seeing you.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We Declared A Snow Day

So, um, yeah...it snowed for the second time this winter here in West Texas, so the wife and I chose to ignore the slight smattering of snow that drifted down for a few hours this morning and stayed in for the day. She worked on some reorganizing she's been doing to the book shelves on her side of the bedroom and did some laundry while I picked up the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. The Yorkie got a brief frolic in the backyard, coming back inside slightly damp but otherwise energized.

I caught up on some television in the bedroom, the last double shot of Dollhouse, which I'd heard via Twitter (possibly a slight SPOILER here) borrowed a bit from The Matrix, but I didn't really mind the plot twist at all. I've enjoyed that show pretty well, sorry that it was finally canned, I just hope they have the time to actually bring things to a logical conclusion rather than just tacking something on to wrap it up.

The HD TiVo arrived, and the wife set about installing it to see if she could get a picture on the television in the den, something she's much more patient with than I am, so I left her to that and retreated to the bedroom to watch something that I'd noticed would be disappearing from the Netfux Instant Watch soon.

There's Much Flesh AND Blood On Display Here, Truth In Advertising, People...Flesh + Blood (or Flesh & Blood as I see it on some sites) is a flick from Paul Verhoeven, which I think I took an interest in after watching Black Book several months back and added it into the queue, so when I noticed that it was gonna disappear from the Instant Watch on the first of the year I decided to give it a go. Rutger Hauer leads a group of mercenaries who are betrayed by the nobleman they help to reclaim his castle, so they take revenge by kidnapping his son's betrothed wife (a young-ish Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is frequently nude), which escalates as the mercs take possession of a castle of their own. Leigh's loyalties are rather murky as she goes from Hauer's rape victim to would-be paramour, but seems to still want to prevent her betrothed from being killed whilst trying to rescue her. Not really a clear 'hero' to root for, as most everyone exhibits grey morals at some point or another, but it was an interesting little flick, with lots of rather melodramatic bits and scenery-chewing throughout.

The wife took a break from her projects and vegged with some television, so I took the opportunity to take a head count of the un-watched films I want to try and get into in the coming year. That count ended up being just shy of 600 movies, which includes the numerous multi-film sets (at least when I noticed a case that had multiple titles, I may've missed a few), as well as about 97 Blu-ray films, which is just insane.

The official count has done nothing but re-affirm my desire to not buy a single thing until I watch at least half of these movies, though I kinda doubt that my resolve will last beyond, say, February. I would be happy to shave 200 off this list by the middle of 2010, which is probably being generous, but we'll see what happens. Ideally, on an average day I should have the time to watch a couple of films, leaving time for me to write about at least one of them, as it generally takes me around an hour and change to write a review if I take good notes and jump right into it.

We'll see.

The evening brought a Stouffer's lasagna in the oven for dinner and more of the 1st season of Battlestar Galactica, which continues to be intriguing. I have to say that the first episode that actually felt like I was watching episodic television came about 5 episodes into the season; everything else up to that point has felt like a single story, moving forward in each installment, but we finally had an ep that fleshed out the background of the Starbuck gal and her dead lover, who just so happens to be her commanding officer's son. The flashbacks are really what made it feel like a television show, but that's not a criticism, just surprising to realize how far into the series they got before it actually takes a breath to rest, so to speak.

The Mother In Law dropped by with the Beau, on her way home with her new car, which is indeed pretty sweet. A top of the line Mercedes, and evidently one of only a few made available here in the states right now if I understood correctly. They'd flown to Dallas on Monday to pick it up, making the drive home in the grey weather this afternoon. They were here and gone pretty fast, I think the wife had her MIL's housekey or something, or hell, maybe she was just showing off the car.

We wrapped our evening with more television in the bedroom, the wife organizing her books in small fits and starts while I watched my program.

Be seeing you.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Everyone Got Hate And Stupidity For Christmas, I See...

I don't hate kids, I just hate your kids that you seem unaware of or uninterested in disciplining, or at the very least, acknowledging.

The wife and I are out for a late lunch at this afternoon, when a young couple gets seated at an adjacent table. We're speaking to one another and I notice the wife suddenly start and look over her shoulder at this table, so I cock a gaze that way myself just in time to see the infant that they've placed in a high-chair sweep the table and knock some chips or some other foodstuff to the floor. This charming activity is probably what drew the wife's attention, as food hitting your feet usually draws the ire of those around you. The parents continued to talk amongst themselves, obliviousness to what little baby/jr./sonofabitch is doing beside them.

I ate a little faster, as I wasn't looking forward to whatever else the kid might decide to pitch to the floor, and they'd just handed him a beverage. I also overheard them ordering and wanted to slap both parents for calling the 'Sesame Beef' dish 'Sesame Seed Beef', which I found maddening for whatever reason.

We got out of there before I had to stab anyone for miss-speaking about something equally unimportant, then went to run a few other errands.

I stopped for gas at HEB, which is near Starbuck's, as I wanted to grab a coffee afterward. The pumps were all full as we drove up, with an average of one car waiting in line behind the car that was filling up, so we kinda knew that something was up, but what the hell, we're already here, so I got in line behind an SUV and put the car in park. We waited about 5 minutes until they were through with their transaction and drove off, then I started doing my thing. There's a sign on the pumps that reads "The Pumps Are Running Slow - Sorry", so I'm psyching myself up to be out in the cold for a bit when I start this process.

I overhear several exchanges that other patrons have with the cashier in her little booth, including an older man in western-wear who comes over, asks if they take checks, leaves his check with her and begins pumping his gas. A few minutes later he comes trotting back over and says "Hey, let me go ahead and make out that check, we're not going to be able to stand this, we gotta go somewhere else!"

I noted that my own transaction was at the $3 mark by this time and sighed to myself. I pull out the iPhone, checked my e-mail, I looked at Twitter for a bit, the car still isn't even half full. The elderly woman who'd pulled in behind me awhile back suddenly starts her car up and backs out, line-hoppng over to the next pump because I'm taking longer than she anticipated.

A fat housewife in expensive sunglasses comes up to pay the cashier and while I only caught the tail-end of her conversation because of the wind, I did hear these two gems:

"Well, is anyone coming to fix it?" No ma'am, we've decided this is as good as it gets now, our motto for the New Year is 'Fuck Timely'.
"Well a lot of people out here are really mad." No ma'am, I suspect you're mad, everyone else most likely read the sign and knew what they were up against. Their first clue? The 70's style gas-lines that they had to sit in for a half hour.

We hit up Best Buy, got the Blu-ray player purchased for future installation, as well as the Geek Squad fellas lined out for the second week in January to get everything installed and playing ball correctly with the Harmony remote.

We headed home because everyone out seemed to be in a rotten mood, including me to a certain extent, and retreated to the bedroom, where we had no one else to annoy or argue with, at least until we turned on one another.

Awesome Show, But Where The Firetruck Do I Store The Ginormous Packaging?I decided to dig into the Blu-ray Battlestar Galactica set that the wife completely surprised me with for Christmas. I understand that the show was conceived as a two part mini-series, which was then picked up as a full season, and this afternoon/evening I watched about a disc and a half of things, more than enough to get me hooked. The writing is interesting, and while I don't exactly feel connected to any of the characters quite yet, I have to appreciate the visual style and the fully realized universe they've built up in just a few short episodes. I look forward to digging into the rest of it as we get into the New Year.

Hell, I may dive into it further tomorrow, as the weather is threatening snow and I have zero interest in getting out to do anything in shitty weather with a bunch of locals who are most likely already in a bad mood and don't know how to drive in wet weather.

Be seeing you.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Cinematic Sunday One Hundred Twenty

Okay, away we go, eh? Trailers and the like, for the six of you that read these.

First up we have the trailer for a film from director Kevin Smith, working from someone else's script on the film Cop Out, which was previously known as A Couple Of Dicks during shooting. The film stars Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as cops in pursuit of a collectible baseball card, which is in the possession of a 'memorabilia-obsessed' gangster, and I have to say that the editing of the trailer makes this look dramatically different from the average movie directed by Smith. I can't honestly say that I was overly cracked up by anything in the trailer, but I will stand behind Smith 'til the bitter end, so I'm still gonna pimp this one until I have a reason not to. Give the trailer a peep:

Next we have the US trailer for a film I recall talking about what feels like years ago, and is finally going to be making its way to the states soon. The Warlords is directed by Peter Chan, and stars Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro in a period piece set during the 1860's, in a time of much political upheaval. This has a very epic look to it, I'm not sure what has taken it so long to reach us (it's been available on DVD in numerous regions for quite some time), but I'd love to see this in a theater if at all possible.

Finally tonight, I wanted to show you the trailer for Grey Skies, a film by Kai Blackwood which follows some familiar genre tropes (friends in a remote retreat, strange things begin to happen), but the use of 'mysterious creatures' in the synopsis has me intrigued, and I like the tone of the trailer, even if it might've been nice to see things slightly better lit, if only to make out some more detail in the teaser.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Alas, Poor TiVo, I Knew Him Well...

We spent some time this afternoon with Morris, first grabbing lunch at a barbecue place, then going to look for a frame for a Mondo Tees print that I'd grabbed as a random surprise Christmas gift for him waaay back there on Black Friday. Morris was funny about the plans for the print, he said that if he didn't find a way to frame this thing while on this trip, he'd never take the time to do it once he got back home, so we headed to Michael's Crafts after lunch to see what we could find on sale.

We found a suitable frame and the wife picked up a book about something that escapes me completely as I type this, presumably some craft endeavor, given the store we were in, then we headed back to the house to see if the framing would go as easy as we'd hoped.

I admit to sort of taking over that project, but that seemed to be okay with Morris, so I got the print settled and got approval from the owner, thus ending our afternoon project.

Sweetest. Movie. Evar.I suggested watching the copy of Up that I'd grabbed awhile back, the Blu-ray of which also came with a standard definition DVD, so I popped that in for us on the den, as I figured it'd be easier than the three of us trying to pile up in the bed in the master bedroom. I mentioned going in that the film was meant to make us cry at least 3 times, based on most of the reviews I'd read/heard, and that really wasn't a hollow warning. I was bawling like a baby about 10 minutes into this thing, and on and off numerous times throughout, the movie has a tone that never really rises above slightly melancholy until the last 20 minutes or so, but Goddamn it was so sweet. The love story between Ed Asner's Carl character and his wife, told in small vignettes within the first act of the film is possibly the sweetest thing I've seen in years, so wonderfully simple in the execution and message, but Christ, it puts a lump in my throat just writing this.

An amazing film, lots of laughs and lots of heart, if you're the other person on the planet who hasn't seen it, please, do yourself a favor and remedy that immediately.

I went to eject the disc once we were finished with the film, only to have the TiVo make the annoyed 'bong!' sound it makes when you try to do something it isn't supposed to do, which suddenly left the television on a blank screen, rather than the normal home screen. R.I.P. Old Friend...I tried again to manually eject the disc with the button on the front of the machine, which did nothing, except get me another 'bong!' sound from the device. I fiddled around with turning the whole home theater set-up off and restarting, which did absolutely nothing, so I started looking at possibly unplugging the TiVo and seeing if that'd at least re-boot it.

I moved the machine forward to try and unplug it and the little screen on the front (which had previously been stuck on the frozen count of the run-time of the movie) suddenly goes dark. I was able to unplug the machine, but absolutely nothing happens when I plug it back in. I mean, nothing at all, so we're taking this as a sign that the decade-old device is finally in need of replacement, so we've now begun to weigh our options on that front.

Do we go with another PS3 to add Blu-ray capabilities to the den, as well as another gaming system that we won't play, which can collect dust like the Wii? Or do we go with a simpler Blu-ray component piece, and instead add an HD TiVo to offer Netflix capabilities (which may come on the player as well, to be honest), which will replace both the DVD player on the dead TiVo as well as (possibly) the cable box? The biggest wrinkle to any of this is how long it's going to take the Geek Squad folks (who I'm sure are going to be hammered with work this close to Christmas) to be able to re-work the set-up for us, as their work on the initial set-up was awesome and we'd like to continue that with the up-grades. I'm thinking we'll do some research this weekend, get an idea of what components we're gonna go for, then look into scheduling them to come out and do the walk-through to see what they'll have to do to make it happen. If it's too much of a lag, I can see us going ahead and purchasing the player/what-have-you and just having it all ready for them to come out and bang it together.

At least this time they don't have to pull cable and all that other nonsense, the original set-up was a grueling 12 hour ordeal for all involved, hiding the wiring in the attic was a complete nightmare and I really felt bad for these poor dudes. It was just ridiculous, and had I been them, I would've been ready to start punching people by the time it was all said and done.

The evening brought dinner out at a local Italian place, where we met Morris & his Mother, as well as the Mother In Law and her Beau for a quiet bite in a corner table. The food was decent enough, though they were out of eggplant parmigiana, which I'd guess would be in their top five dishes, how do you run out on a weekend? Odd.

We retired to the MIL's place for some leftover pie that didn't even get cut on Christmas day, Morris dropped off his Mother and then joined us for a bit of a visit, then we split shortly before 10:00, heading our separate ways. Once home, I started surveying the web to see what we were in for regarding this television situation in the den. The most frustrating bit about this is that no configuration of components or services will actually allow us to eliminate a device from the total number of things in the entertainment center; we're going to have to buy two things and likely eliminate two existing ones no matter how we slice it, leaving the number of crowded electronics the same.

I'm off to comparison shop folks; please pray for us so maybe we don't get screwed on this whole deal!

Be seeing you.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

I Hope You Enjoy Your Gifts, Baby Jesus...

That's what the holiday is about, right? Us giving stuff to Jesus in celebration of...commerce?

I doubt I'll ever get this holiday spirit thing down pat.

Christmas came and went with no incident, we had the typical early-ish morning breakfast burrito and gift exchange, then a few hours off, during which time I ran our recycling to the bins and the wife whipped up the last two food items she was prepping for lunch.

Lunch came and went, the Middle Sister and her family stood us up because her son was having too much fun playing with his new toys to be disturbed by lunch, so whatever. By the time I got the wife and Yorkie home it was around 4:00 in the afternoon and we still hadn't done our Christmas yet. This seems to be the norm, looking back over the blog, we always get waylaid by everyone else's schedule for presents and food in the morning and afternoon, leaving us to spend our evening together, so that's cool that I can at least have a 'go' time in mind when we head over there.

The wife and I had the usual weird eyeroll feeling when the Mother In Law starts breaking out the booze around dinner time, that's still a weird thing to have going on. I know it's especially strange for the wife, as she spent most of her life listing to how bad alcoholism is and all the 12 step BS, and now she's getting what amounts to a "Psych! Ha, had ya going, not really an alcoholic! Ya'll don't worry about me while I enjoy my tasty beverage...", which is just a weird shift in gears for anyone to bend their mind around. I think that the oddest aspect of this is the fact that no one really drinks around the Older Sister or her family, as they seem uptight about that sort of thing, but we're the 'cool' people who won't say anything or something, it just feels a little high school to me.

I guess the thing with the drinking is the sudden change that no one really acknowledges; it'd be like being raised Catholic, then waking up one day to find out you're now a part of some pagan religion and meant to frolic nude in the woods this evening as part of the Solstice - it might take some time to get used to.

The wife and I were very amused to see that the Yorkie had gone directly to bed after we got home, so we joined her in the bedroom for about an hour, then got up after the lights on the decorations had started coming on and moved into the sitting area off the kitchen to go through the gifts piled under the tree. I can happily report that the wife was happy with her stuff, and really liked the ring I had selected for her, which was a total shot in the dark, I'm glad she dug it.

I was rather surprised with some of her choices of gifts for me (which included the Blu-ray set of the complete series of Battlestar Galactica, something I wasn't expecting at all, as it's a series I've been curious about, but not curious enough to drop the bucks on the set), as well as a device for transferring cassette tapes to MP3 formats, which was an item I mentioned in passing a few months back. Ho Ho Ho, It Is To Laugh?We eventually retired to the bedroom again (the Yorkie seemed quite relieved), watching one of the film she'd given me, a Criterion released French film called A Christmas Tale, which I'd wanted to pick up based on a trailer I saw, painting it as a quirky, dark humored comedy. Nothing could be further from the truth, as it turned out to have that nagging melancholy you get from a lot of French Cinema, though punctuated occasionally with humor or amusing situations. While not what I was expecting, the film is worth a look, as long as you know what you're signing up for. I was expecting something in the vein of a Wes Anderson flick and was a little thrown by what I actually got.

We called it a night and I decided to hop online for a few to write this up before heading back to bed.

Be seeing you.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Night Before Christmas...

Okay, I've been kinda boring myself with these lately, so let's try to blow through this and maybe even take tomorrow off save for a few details, eh?

We really did nothing today, I got out briefly to drop something in the mail and hit the liquor store to replenish for the weekend, because you never know, right? When I got back to the house Morris had dropped by, so we visited with him for the remainder of the afternoon, then the wife loaded up some foodstuffs and assorted gift items to transport to the Mother In Law's place.

Morris split for a family obligation of his own, the wife headed to the MIL's while I finished up my cocktail and poured one for the road. I figured if a took one that was strong enough, I could keep adding Diet Coke to it as the evening progressed, teasing my pleasant little buzz along.

The Uncle was out running an errand for the MIL, but Grandmother was already over, and the Middle Sister and her family arrived shortly after I got there, so we settled in to food pretty quickly, then spent some time in the den where the Uncle and Brother In Law watched part of some football game that I did my best to ignore, because I couldn't give a fuck less about sports.

The wife spent some time getting the family's stockings together for tomorrow morning once everyone else had split, I commandeered the remote to get things away from sports, watching the end of The Company Of Wolves while the wife did her thing.

In All Of Its' Lampy Glory!We eventually split for the house, an early gift from the MIL in tow, a lamp made to look like a large movie ticket, which I claimed for the Library, as I'd been in the market for a lamp back there anyway to give me more of a homey reading space. While the ticket is slightly more kitschy than I might've chosen for myself, it'll serve a great purpose, and obviously fits in well enough with all the movie books, etc., so that's way cool. I was slightly dismayed to realize that the bookshelves filling the room obviously covered all of the wall sockets, save for one on the far side of the room, so plugging the lamp in was a bit of an operation, but I think I have a good scheme for putting that mother on a timer once I have the holidays out of the way, so I can run an extension cord and hide it away behind the shelving.

The wife piddled with the stockings for myself and the Yorkie, as well as getting a breakfast item prepped for the AM, then she headed off to bed. I was sorta biding my time for her to be done in the kitchen area, as I need to set up her stocking stuff, as well as one final odd sized gift that I didn't feel like jacking with as far as wrapping, because who the fuck makes things in round boxes nowadays? It's not a hat, why is the box round, dammit?

So yeah, this is probably the post that most of you will be reading on Christmas, unless I'm up and awake early to do some kinda place holder for tomorrow. In that vein, I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas, as anyone dropping by here to check this out on a holiday rather than spending time with your loved ones is okay by me.

Be seeing you.

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dinner With Friends & Little Else

The wife and I ended up having a fairly quiet day at the house, as Morris decided to chill at home for most of the day, taking his Mom to run a few errands in the afternoon.

I got a couple of things written, so I can feel good about that, but otherwise the day was something of a wash, to be perfectly honest.

We had a dude come to the door selling some kinda bullshit brass polish or tarnish remover, which another guy had tried to sell us on about a year or so ago, if my memory serves. The weird thing is that both guys are these glad-handing black dudes, with these huge shit-eating grins on their faces and their goofy sales pitch actually rhymes in certain spots, which to me screams insincerity, as it's not something they are saying to me, but rather a pat rehearsed routine. The difference is that the first dude (however many months ago that was) caught me at a time when I didn't mind sitting through his nonsense routine, but this dude had the Yorkie going nuts and she wouldn't hold still long enough for me to grab her so she wouldn't run out the door or something, so I gave him a short "No, but thank you" to which he tries to tell me that even if I don't want the product he's selling I can still make a donation to the charity which feeds children like these (he indicates a group of children on the brochure that could honestly be anyone, right?) and adds "c'mon man, oatmeal is better than no meal", which I don't quite understand, does this indicates that they only use the money to buy cheap food?

I say again, "thank you, but no" and the guy's face falls completely, he says "Oh, so you don't wanna do that either? That's fine." and he turns on his heel and walks away, which makes me think even more that this is probably a scam, as a legitimate charity probably wouldn't flip on me like an angry bum begging for change.

The wife dropped off some neighbor gifts to a few families in the close vicinity, as well as dumping off presents for Christmas Day at the Mother In Law's house, then brought back a small lunch.

Poor Little Flightless WaterfowlWe ate in the den and watched one of the few holiday-themed items I'd purchased at Big Lots awhile back, a little cartoon called Opus And Bill: A Wish For Wings That Work, which featured some of the characters from the Bloom County strip, as well as Berke Breathed's later strip Outland. I don't recall ever seeing it before, and while it was a fun little special, the 24 minutes for $3 price tag seemed a tad steep in retrospect. Oh well.

Eerie And MaddeningThe wife and I watched a Finnish horror film called Sauna that'd been hanging around FOREVER from Netfux, so I gave it a spin, even taking notes for a review. The film is very creepy and atmospheric, well worth a look, the crisp visuals make for some eerie moments, that much I assure you.

I spoke to my friend Robbb for a bit on the phone in the late afternoon, then spent some time in the Library, leafing through this or that until it was time to start getting ready for dinner with our friends.

Our little Lobbyist friend met us at the house, then we drove to the restaurant to meet Brian, Morris and our pal JH, all of whom arrived in quick succession in spite of the pissing shitty English weather outside. We had a nice meal, though this restaurant is hellbent on you being there for at least 2 hours, as they never even took our orders for the main course until both of the appetizers were completely finished. We had everyone over after dinner, save for JH, who was still feeling slightly under the weather from a bout of possibly food poisoning a few days back.

We visited for a bit, Morris and I had a few drinks, then everyone started heading for home around 11:00 or so, and the wife and I called it a night shortly thereafter.

Be seeing you.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trying To Find The Christmas Spirit, Possibly Failing...

I don't have a lot to say as the holidays approach, since there's little really happening besides socializing and entertaining our out of town guests as they start to arrive for the holidays to visit their respective families.

The wife ran the Yorkie to the Groomer this morning, then hit the grocery store for a few odds and ends for the coming Christmas dinner. I got up as she was putting groceries away, made coffee and poked around the web a bit, making plans to have lunch with she and Morris, then hit Best Buy for a few things.

Morris arrived, we ran through the usual litany of restaurants until we settled on something that wouldn't cramp tomorrow night's dinner's style and headed out. The waitress seemed to hate not only her lot in life, but us as well, so the meal was okay, the service a bit iffy. You Scruffy Looking Nerfherder!We hit Best Buy next, I grabbed the new Family Guy release Something Something Something Dark Side, in which they parody The Empire Strikes Back, something I've been looking forward to for some time now. I hope I have a chance to give that a look before we're completely swept away in a wash of Christmas cheer. We ran a few other errands, including a pet store where my wife cracked me up by noting that "A collar is an awful Christmas gift for a dog, that's like getting them socks!", which made me Ell Oh Ell in the store and got us a weird look from some broad who was actually looking at collars within earshot.

Back at the house, the wife and Morris built a ginger bread house from one of those kits you see everywhere right now, I watched them work on that and went through the mail. We finally got a call from the Groomer, so we picked up the Yorkie and headed home to get her fed and relaxed after her day out with strangers bathing her. I think we can all agree what a traumatic experience that can be, right?

We had a party this evening, a little 'come & go' affair that ran from 6:00 to 8:00. I'd asked Morris if he wanted to go, as he'd make for an easy out if we wanted to split early if the place was packed or whatever, so he ran home for an hour or so to change and walk his dog. Once we got him back at the house, we picked up the Mother In Law and headed to the soiree, where we had some wine, a few appetizers and visited with a wide spectrum of folks, almost closing the party down before we finally realized that it was about that time.

We had a bit of a debate in the car about dinner, and since the MIL suggested her usual loud raucous establishment (for which we were a bit overdressed), I figured I'd humor her, just because it's nice that she's willing to be up and running around after spending as much time as she did at home the past few years. The wait wasn't too terribly bad, though some clueless parent wasn't watching their kid, who was happily stomping on the peanuts they offer you to snack on (I know, classy joint, right?), and one of them managed to shoot from under his foot and zing between the wife and I, striking the glass display behind us with an audible noise. His mother stood there, staring into space, and munching happily on her cud, er, that is to say peanuts, oblivious to the whole thing. The wife picked up the peanut and threw it back (!), past her and into the large barrel; she didn't notice that either.

"If it happens again, I'm saying something. I can't believe people are so unaware of what their kids are doing!" the wife exclaimed to me. I need to make a definite health regimen change, as the wife's recent moods may see me in a fight before it's all said and done, and I'd like to have a chance in hell of holding my own when it happens. Y'know, 'cause there's enough rednecks around here that someone will eventually take exception to something, I'm sure.

We were finally seated, though we had to ask to be moved to a different section, as they tried to sit us next to a table of about 12 teenagers, and the quarters in this restaurant are already cramped, so we'd basically have some Emo douchebag sitting in my lap during dinner, even though he's actually with another party. Whoever designed the seating scheme in this place ought to be drug out and shot; you can't take more than 6 people there without turning your seating arrangements into a complete clusterfuck. This is another reason I'm not a huge fan of the place, but whatever.

Dinner was good, we cruised past a few neighborhoods to look at lights (a pastime that is completely lost on me, making me a relatively good person to do the driving, as I don't care too much about seeing all the 'oohs' and 'aahs' of it all) then we ran the MIL home, hung out for a few at her place, then headed to our house.

Morris split, the wife and I unwound with a bit of television while I looked through a few DVD's that'd arrived for me via late night UPS delivery, then we called it a night.

Be seeing you.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Twas The Monday Before Christmas, And All Through The House...

There really wasn't much going on today, to be perfectly honest. The wife puttered around the house getting some things wrapped for this person or that, I ran to drop some stuff at the post office and picked up sandwiches for lunch, but that's about the extent of our day until this evening.

Not As Gangster As You Might Hope...I watched most of a flick that's been languishing on the TiVo for longer than I'd care to admit, a Larry Cohen joint called Original Gangstas, which reunited a good number of Blaxploitation stars like Pam Grier, Fred Williamson and Jim Brown, but also managed to be amazingly heavy-handed at times. There's numerous scenes where a character is lamenting the situation with the local gangs, but "...what else do these kids really know, they've been let down by our generation" violence begets violence and other shit in that vein, subtle as a hammer, we get it, okay? I think I already invoked the Don't Be A Menace To South Central... mailman recently about another film (which film escapes me, annoyingly), but it's relevant here as well: In that comedy, a mailman, played by Keenen Ivory Wayans keeps walking by at pivotal moments, shouting "Message!" at the camera, just in case the audience might be asleep, and this REALLY felt like that after about two or three heavy handed instances of it.

We met Morris and his Mother for dinner, since he'd arrived for a week-long visit this afternoon, so we met for Mexican food at a restaurant across town. We'd planned it for the restaurant's 2nd location (closer to everyone's house), only to find they'd shut it down for the holiday season or some kinda nonsense, we didn't bother to read the sign, just called Morris and kept driving. We ended up waiting for a good long time for a table, as the holidays always bring out the enormous crowds, be it Monday or Saturday night, so we visited for a bit, then finally got seated and had a pretty good little meal before saying our goodbyes and heading home to veg out with some television before calling it a night.

We watched a TiVo suggested episode of Ghost Adventures, an awful show on the travel channel, in which three dudes go around bothering what is assumed to be the restless spirits of the undead. The host is a guy named Zak, and he's always needlessly aggressive in his approach to these situations, mocking the alleged spirits or being puzzlingly confrontational. For example, I seem to recall him being in the room where a dejected hooker (pregnant by a married man and dumped) had supposedly taken her own life, and this guy is acting all snarky and asks why she's so sad, making cutting gestures at his wrists, yet he maintains that he has a respect for the afterlife. The guy is annoying as hell, but the show is actually almost entertaining when you can sit down and make fun of it/him for a solid hour, which is what we usually do if TiVo suggests it. The episode mentioned that they might run into the spirit of a man who'd killed 21 men, and had sodomized over 1000 (!) men. I mean, seriously, who keeps count? That's what made this guy a psycho, keeping track of shit like that! All the buttfucking I can ignore, but keeping track of that kind of shit is where you begin to enter the realm of a serial killer. Anyway, the moment they mentioned it, I started praying that our confrontational douche-bag of a host would get ghost raped on camera when he started in with his standard swaggering idiocy, but it never happened.

The wife did some more Christmas wrapping afterward, then we called it a night.

Be seeing you.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Cinematic Sunday One Hundred Nineteen

Trailers you say? Yeah, sure, why not, it's about that time, right?

I'll open with a film that will need absolutely no help from the likes of me, but damned if Ridley Scott's Robin Hood trailer doesn't make me very excited to see this film. The last time he was paired with Russell Crowe in a period action piece like this, we got Gladiator, which is still an amazing flick to this day. I love the atmosphere conveyed even in this short clip, and unlike a good number of others I have no special version of the character that I hold near and dear to my heart, so the modern music isn't bothering me either. Really looking forward to this one next year.

Next we have the Russian thriller The Ghost, from director Karen Oganesyan. It stars Konstanin Khabenskiy as a writer suffering from writer's block, who meets with a possibly too helpful assassin who is willing to help him construct a scenario for his next novel. Unsurprisingly, someone who casually traffics in human life turns out to not be the person you want to trust in a situation like this, leaving our hero scrambling to save himself.

And given the season, since we're looking at nothing but blockbusters and Oscar bait at this point, rather than grasping around at straws for a final trailer tonight I will close with a little animated Christmas video. This is a song that Bibb played over on his yearly Christmas show for Hellbilly Wreckhouse. The song is by a Mr. Sherwin Sleeves, who evidently wrote it for some sort of radio competition a few years back, the details of which I have zero interest in digging around for. The song has a charming nonsensical quality to it, as well as a lonely melancholy that I find abundantly appropriate for the holiday season, give it a listen, I hope you like it as much as I do.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Unconventional Christmas Evening

My poor sweet wife was up and out of the house for a lunch with her friend Blather, who I despise with a passion normally reserved for family feuds and the distaste the average man feels for the government. I was able to sleep in while she was out listening to this broad's latest litany of sob stories about her lot in life and the small assortment of dudes she's currently boning (which amounts to two and a half dudes right now, as one old boyfriend is still sort of in the picture) and her oldest child who's starting to get fed up with the way she leads her life.

Seriously, the whole thing is like some sort of Lifetime Movie that never fucking ends.

The wife got home around 1:00 in the afternoon, I was in the kitchen doing dishes and picking up a bit, we caught up for a few, then I decided to drop off some of the recycling before it got out of hand and grab myself a late lunch.

I ended up with some take-out chicken and watched a few South Park re-runs in the den, then spent some time wrapping the rest of the wife's gifts back in the Library, which I then placed under the tree, save for a few stocking stuffer items that I'll set out on Christmas Eve once she goes to sleep.

We'd made tentative plans to have our friend JH drop by this evening, but she presumably got caught up with the party she wanted to stop by on the way to our place, as we never saw here at all. There was an odd call that we ignored around 11:00 PM this evening, which we assumed was her offering her apologies or whatever.

Stay Away From Grandpa!We ended up re-watching Silent Night, Deadly Night at the wife's request, which is a fun little Christmas film about a murderous Santa. I really dig it for all the ridiculous bits, the amazingly random nudity (Linnea Quigley answers the door completely topless, but pauses on the way to put on Daisy Dukes shorts over her white thong?), as well as the corny turns it takes along the way, such a great flick. I think the wife and I get more of a kick out of spotting various toys in the toy store that we owned as kids than anything else about the film, but it's becoming an amusing family tradition for us.

Fuck Me Santa, Fuck Me Santa...We wound up the night with a re-watch of Bad Santa, which I didn't take notes on, but am still tempted to try to piece together a review of in honor of the Christmas holiday, just because I love that flick so much. Billy Bob Thornton's vulgar mall Santa, the puzzling goofiness of the fat kid who takes such a shine to 'Santa', the girl-next-door-type cutie Lauren Graham as the barmaid with the strange 'Santa fetish' ("Fuck Me Santa, Fuck Me Santa, Fuck Me Santa!"), it's all such a weird ride, but it does actually get fairly touching towards the end of things, long after any of those who are easily offended have most likely pressed 'stop' on the DVD player. Plus, it's hilarious to see Billy Bob beating the shit out of a 15 yr old kid for all the right reasons.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Who Belongs To These Rodent Children Underfoot?!?

I did very little today save for work on the reviews I keep putting off, though I did get pretty well caught up on what I had been putting off for the week, so I have that going for me. Be On The Lookout For This Prick!The wife had the afternoon free, so I made her sit through something I had noticed as going to drop off of the Netfux Instant Watch soon, Bob Clark's little 1982 titty classic Porky's, which she'd unsurprisingly never seen and I hadn't watched in years.

That flick still kills me, even knowing what the jokes are and where they are coming from, hell, that bit with the ballbreaker female coach demanding a nude lineup of the kids she'd caught peeping, so she can identify the kid's dick, with the three coaches having conniptions in the background, that had me laughing from the first moment of the scene. The older guy is so red, I thought his head would explode.

Have You Tried Turning It Off And Back On?I also finally caught up on the last half of The IT Crowd Series Two, a show that I like, but can kind of feel a bit stereotype heavy at times, almost to the point of farce. The show does always find a way to make me laugh tho, regardless of how ludicrous the scenarios get as the season goes on, so that's definitely something worth recommending.

We were supposed to meet up with Brian for dinner, who'd requested that we come by his place, so we headed over there around 6:30, arriving a bit early for our 7:00 PM rendezvous. We visited a bit, then grabbed a burger and watched a group of adults ignore the four children that they'd shat into the world and drug to this restaurant to run wild. Seriously, I don't know exactly who belonged to who as far as the parentage goes, as there were two middle aged dudes, one female and then at least 3 little boys under the age of ten, as well as a girl around the same age. All of these fucking kids were running from one end of the burger joint to another, as much as shoving their way past our party of three standing in line to demand this or that from the adults at the head of the line. Brian mentioned that he was thinking of trying a certain kind of cheeseburger, I whispered to the wife that I was thinking of trying the vasectomy to prevent us from ending up like these dull-eyed fucks, letting our kids run and shout with wild abandon in a public place.

Seriously folks, it's not that I don't like kids, it's just that my parents would've beaten the shit out of me had I even thought about acting like these children. You're raising irritating, unpleasant children and I resent our tax dollars paying to educate them if they can't shut the fuck up and behave when I happen to encounter them in a public situation.

We sat as far from that table as possible, though it was adjacent to the soft drink fountain, which these kids raced to every five minutes or so to refill their sodas, because they weren't sugared up enough quite yet. The wife was baffled that they kept allowing each kid to try and refill his own drink from a counter they could barely even reach, because he then spent the next five minutes trying to walk the drink back to their table without spilling it on himself or the floor; I spent a tense few moments waiting on him to dump it in the floor immediately beside me, but that splash of soda across my ankles thankfully never came. I must be living right these days.

We also ran into a couple I hadn't seen in forever, a guy who used to frequent one of the hobby stores I worked at back in the day who was out for dinner with his wife. I made the introductions, then bullshitted with him for a bit, catching up on all the random people we'd known 10 years ago and I've lost touch with, ending up feeling a little weird that none of the people he brought up was anyone that I actually missed.

Brian had an errand that involved an item to exchange at Toys "R" Us, so I agreed to run them by there, as the wife also had a few items to pick up, having been roped into a child's birthday party tomorrow afternoon by her annoying friend Blather, who is in town for the holidays. She'd already made lunch plans with her because 'hey, drop everything, I'm in town', but then she also springs an 'early birthday party' for her 3 year old on her "if you want to go, after lunch", basically trapping her into it, which of course makes me want to kick a squirrel over our back fence in a fit of rage.

Toys "R" Us was filled with people who all looked like they hated each other as well as us, and were genuinely remorseful for ever having fucked the person they were with and having those children, y'know, Financial Burden The 1st, 2nd & 3rd, the ones trailing behind them and indicating whatever nonsense they wanted from Santa this time around. The actual shopping wasn't completely nightmarish, but after moving from one check out line to another THREE different times, I began to wonder if I was going mad. Each cashier seemed to develop some sort of issue, either needing change, register crapping out on her, whatever, but we had to change lines three times before we finally got checked out and the hell out of the store. Now that was getting into borderline nightmare territory, like we were stuck in a fucking mobius loop or something.

We stopped into Barnes & Noble, as I had a coupon I wanted to use for a really random graphic novel I'd seen in there awhile back. We ran into Scrawny McTall and her husband, my Orthodontist, so we visited a bit with them near the front of the store until it became apparent that the women were settling in to catch up, so the Ortho excused himself to wander off with one of their kids, Brian went to grab coffee for us and I went to find my book. Yay! New Mazzucchelli! I know virtually nothing about David Mazzucchelli's graphic novel Asterios Polyp except that it appears to be a bit more linear than some of his Rubber Blanket work from back when I was still collecting comics, and his cartooning style has continued to adapt to a fluid, more distinctly European style.

We headed back to Brian's, he and the wife exchanged their Christmas gifts, which as always consisted of basically an equal transaction of tender via gift-cards, sort of making the whole 'shopping for each other' something of a non-event, but who am I to fuck with tradition, right?

The wife and I headed home, were greeted by an ecstatic Yorkie, then settled in to watch The Soup and the re-run of the Venture Brothers Christmas Special before calling it a night.

Be seeing you.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

An Old Fashioned Pawn Shop Crawl

I kinda of pissed this day away, presumably because I knew I should be doing other shit. Not sure why, that's just the notion that struck me when I got up and about today. I'm also relatively sure I had some kind of dream last night that took place in the Lost universe, so maybe I was toying with fate or trying to change my destiny of actually doing things today by going out and fucking around instead.

Either way....

I go to the garage to head to Odessa, as I had the wild hair to pop into their Big Lots and maybe see what El Vox was up to. I go to open the garage door and it goes halfway up and stops, which it has been known to do, so I let it back down and try again, only to have it not move at all. After dicking with it for a few minutes and getting zero result, I finally grabbed a stepladder from the storage and unplugged it, as well as letting the door release loose to see if that changed anything. I was on the verge of giving up and opening the door by hand and dealing with the whole situation later, because I was now running late for no good reason.

I suddenly clicked on one phrase that the guys used when we had this repaired several months ago, something to do with the 'adjusting the tension', and I could see a visible screw on the side of the stupid box that read 'down sensitivity' or some such, with arrows indicating which way to adjust for more or less, and on the other side of the unit was a screw for the 'up' option, so I went and grabbed a screwdriver and gave that little fucker a quarter turn, then hit the button.

Nothing happened. I said an assortment of unsavory things and hit the button again. Then a third time. The track finally rotated back to where it would normally sit idle with the door down.

I hit it again and I'll be Goddamned if that door didn't raise up like your mom's skirt on the third date. Exceptionally pleased with myself, I opened and closed it a few more times until I was satisfied that it was indeed fixed, then I headed over to Odessa to grab Vox and make the rounds.

Big Lots had sweet fuck all of interest to either one of us, so Vox suggested a few pawn shops might be worth a look, and we made our way through several of those, most of which had nothing, all of which reeked of machine oil from all the pawned tools and several of which were filled not only with customers, but their rodent children as well. If your kid is more than 20 feet away from you in public, running into strangers while you ignore the situation and stand in a checkout line, you've fucked up as a parent, FYI. I seriously almost had a small Spanish kid come close to taking me out at the knees while his parents stood around several yards away, oblivious to everything.

Vox and I eventually pooled our resources, so to speak, as the store had a buy four for $10 on their $4 discs, so we'd each chosen 2 to qualify for the bargain, only to get to the counter and have the cashier say that we could throw a 5th disc in there for the same price.

So Much Fun, Well Worth Tracking DownI grabbed a flick I'd been eyeing earlier, a two disc edition of Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession, a film I watched last year and really dug, but was going to pass on since the DVD was a previously viewed Blockbuster copy. When the gal brought out the discs, they looked a bit suspect, but I figured for the cheap price, I'd give it a shot.

We ran around a bit more, I finally picked up something to eat and then we headed back to Vox's house and he started making his own dinner while I chowed down on my food. I split shortly afterward to let Vox finish up his cooking and headed for the house.

I popped in the Z Channel film to see if it was willing to play ball, and after loading fine it was cooking along until the 30-something minute mark, where it started trying to shit the bed, pixelating and skipping several times. I was finally able to get the film moving again by stopping it altogether and jumping ahead a few minutes on the films' time counter, which allowed it to play for about another 30 or so minutes, then the same shit started happening, so I repeated the process. I decided that it's possibly time for me to invest in some sort of disc repair kit, as I'd like to see if this one can be salvaged, so I headed to the office this evening to see what the interweb had to offer as far as those go, and to get started on this silly thing.

I'm out kids.

Be seeing you.

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