Friday, September 26, 2008

Movie Review: Smart People

When I saw the trailer for this movie I must admit I was very interested. It looked like a funny movie with smart, witty dialogue, which I love. However, I was very disappointed with this one, I don't think it delivered at all.

The main problem I had was the real lack of an interesting storyline. I think they were going for a character development angle. Dennis Quaid's journey to becoming a better less, self-centered person didn't really pan out very well, I don't think they quite got there.

Now, the whole tag line of the movie was "Even smart people have a lot to learn." Dennis Quaid and Ellen Page were both the "smart people" with a lot to learn, socially, romantically, etc. The only problem they had with that was the fact that they made a political statement out of it. Of course they had uptight, snotty Ellen Page in the Young Republicans group at school. She became the "symbol" of the Republican party as viewed from the left for the entire movie. Some examples include, but are not limited to: comparing her Young Republicans meeting to a Hitler Youth rally. Made her afraid of her widower dad dating another woman and even tried to sabotage the relationship,saying that right wingers are afraid of any change at all. Donated her dead mothers clothing to Goodwill in order to get a tax write off, saying tax write offs were better than nostalgia. There were many more but I won't go on.

Besides that there was none of that smart, witty dialouge that I was so looking forward to. They had a couple good lines but that was mostly it. They resorted to something I like to call "academia speak" in order to try and back up their title choice, none of it was good. Also, all the characters were exactly the same, they all talked the same, all had an alarmingly amazing grasp of the English language, even the not-so-bright lacky adopted brother/uncle.

There was some things to salvage of this movie however. The acting was pretty good all around, or as good as it possibly could have been. I think Thomas Haden Church's performance as the zany, clingy, irresponsible brother/uncle was the best part of the movie. Also, I got to look at Ellen Page quite a bit, no complaints there. Although it did come with the price of having to stomach Sarah Jessica Parker as well. It was also fun to see Dennis Quaid's character get some much needed slaps in the face throughout too. He was supposed to be a egotistical professor, the one everybody hates and thinks he knows everything. It was fun to see him get knocked down a couple pegs.

Overall, I don't know if this was really worth the watch, just watch the trailer, it should be enough.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Backyard finished

Finally the time is here. After months and months of working sun up to sun down the backyard is finally finished. That last part wasn't true, but it was two days of pretty irritating work, and more tedious than difficult. Making sure all (or at least most) of the rocks were gone was the main job of it. But yesterday I finally finished that last portion, cleaned it up, planted, fertilized and watered. The only downfall is now we have to take Cody out on a leash again because his runner goes right over the newly planted area and this lawn is going to need all the help it can get.

And if look close you can see my DirecTV cable on the ground.

That being said, I am being met with some confusion when I mention the DirecTV incident. Well here is the story.

I was sitting on the toilet one morning reading my book. It was semi-windy outside but nothing too crazy. Now for those of you who don't know our backyard is completely surrounded by trees, both on the side of the yard and looming over the yard. So anyway, I'm sitting there and it's a pretty tense part of the book, so I'm kind of on edge, when I hear this really loud crash from right outside the bathroom window. Needless to say it scared the crap out of me.... So I look out the window to see this huge branch a little bit wider than my thigh and about 15 feet long in a couple of pieces all across the middle part of the yard. The branch was really dry and dead looking so it must have broken up when it fell.

I go outside to see if it had done anything, not really feeling safe in the house anymore, if there are falling trees I wanted to see them coming. My first thought was that it was a bummer that it had fallen on top of the microwave that was sitting in the middle of the yard. (Sidebar: This was a microwave that was given to us by my parents but we didn't end up using it. So naturally we brought it outside and plugged it in and put all kinds of different things in it to see what it would do. Pretty much every little kids dream. Light bulbs are the best we found by the way, I highly recommend it.

But then, to my even greater dismay, I see that the branch had taken down my DirecTV cable that runs from my house to a tree in the backyard. As the ground was frozen when I had the dish installed we couldn't very well bury the thing. One can imagine how I regret not doing that now. So the branch had fallen pretty much directly on it and ripped down the cable and took down the panel of siding that the cable was attached to. So I rush inside to assess the damage, and lo and behold, when I flip on the TV....nothing. Back outside everything was still connected where it was supposed to be on the dish, it must have just been knocked out of alignment.

There is more to this story but this is a long enough post already so I'll let you go now.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Backyard again...

So yesterday I continued my get-work-done-that-should-have-been-done-months-ago week and got cracking on the backyard. I started on the far end where the shed used to be because it was easier and I didn't want to get myself discouraged too soon into my new found motivational self. Only problem was that side of the yard, while mostly devoid of any rocks, is infested with roots. It wasn't so bad because they were tiny little ones that broke after a little bit of tugging. But almost every time I moved the rake it would catch on a little root, irritating.

Before picture: If you look really close you can see
a pile of sticks and stuff in the way back.

Well, I was only about 5 minutes into the project when I decided I was just going to do this half of the yard today. This way I could get it completely done and have at least some of the yard looking decent if and when my motivation for this little adventure wore off. So I used my fallen DirecTV as a divider line (got to use it for something) and did a little over half of the yard. I also decided that I wasn't going to worry about the hill either, I could put mulch on there in the spring or something. Now, most likely that won't happen, but it makes me feel better for now.

I started with all the debris that has accumulated over the summer, fallen branches and such. put that into two full garbage bags and hauled them out to the trash. Next came the time consuming part, the raking. I don't have enough funds for top soil so I am forced to do the best with what I got. The soil itself doesn't look that bad to me (and my professional eye) where there is any soil not obscured by rocks. I dug up the grass seed and fertilizer that has been sitting under my porch since I bought them back in April. Ideally you are supposed to have a spreader that does this for you, but, again, funds being limited I was forced to do it the biblical way, with my hands. I thought it came out alright, so I did the same with the fertilizer. Then I just sprayed some water on it, and on myself but that was unintentional.

This is the after believe it or not. The foreground is the part
I didn't do, the background is the part I did.

Now I'm feeling really good about getting the next installment done today, or at least making a good dent in it. Though when I woke up this morning my back was really hurting so I may just use that as an excuse to read Wheel of Time all day.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Progress on Patching up the Porch

Today started off how the past couple days have, and I hope this trend ends very quickly. At 6:ooam I woke up to a very soft whine coming from downstairs. I tried to ignore it but the image of a urine soaked puppy kept me awake until my conscience got the better of me. So I let him out and went back to bed. Kristina got up at 8:45ish and I asked her to wake me up at 9:30. She said okay and went downstairs. Now I had every intention of tackling the war zone that is the backyard today and attempting to get some greenery back there. So, around 9:15 the thought of doing that was getting me antsy to start work, that and the smell of cinnamon buns coming from downstairs. So I get up and make my way downstairs and meet Kristina in the living room with a tray laden with food and a sad puppy dog face on. So I run back up stairs and climb into bed as if nothing happened and got a nice breakfast in bed from my beautiful wife.

Unrelated Kristina picture.

All that to say that a little after I started eating Cody starts barking and we hear movement downstairs, presumably from the neighbor. But the dog continues to bark depsite our protests and whacks on his butt. So just as I'm finishing up breakfast Kristina's phone rings and it's dad saying he's on the porch and ready to work on the gutters that we (more like I) have been putting off pretty much all summer. Also, he brought me a new desk to swap for my old tiny one. Cool.

My new setup.

So anyway, we spent almost 3 hours on the stupid porch roof, but we did make some very good progress, though we are not quite done yet. We got the boards out front back up, the white aluminum stuff back on and the drip edges up. The only really visible part being the white stuff. Which is kind of depressing to do all this work and not see very much from it.

Dad is laughing at me because I was not doing
any actual work in this photo.

And the tough part about working on our porch is that there is a huge drop off and some bushes so it's tough to use a ladder on either half, so we end up hanging off from the railings, and as dad puts it "risking our lives."

Dad "risking his life."

So now all we need is to stick the gutters up there and we will finally be all set with the dumb porch. Needless to say my yard did not get any attention today, apart from removing the branch that killed my DirecTV. More on that later.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Yesterday was a very long day. But I guess you could call it a rewarding one. It started with a call from the "puppy bus" driver telling us to meet him a Jake's steakhouse at 1:15....AM. Now Jake's is right down the street, so me and Kristina were excited because they could have been up to 60 miles away. So around 12:45 me and Kristina climb in the car and head out, just in case he was going to be early.... He wasn't going to be early. In fact he wasn't going to be on time either.

Meanwhile, we get to Jake's and for anybody who knows this place, it was pretty scary. The parking lot serves all the stores along the main street, and as in most places like that the parking lot is in the back. Apparently none of the proprietors felt the need to leave any lighting in said parking lot at 1:00am, go figure. Except for the one floodlight that is illuminating a very dodgy looking garage full of tools, and probably one or two illegal things. This place looks right out of a Guy Ritchie film and I'm expecting 10 or so heavily armed men in trench coats to step from the shadows and demand to see "the stuff". I mean this whole situation had the feel of a drug deal. Anyway, the car had barely stopped moving when Kristina was dialing these guy's number and asking to move the transaction across the street to a more well-lit area.

So we drive across the street to bunker down having just been informed of a 1:15 arrival. Come to find out the lights are off in this less-than-safe looking plaza too, so we settle to parking on the street beneath a street light and take comfort from the fact that the police station is right down the road. Well, 1:15 rolls around and still no puppy mobile, shocker, and Kristina had just finished her book so she was stuck talking to me. Around this time we started theorizing what this van/bus was actually going to look like, Kristina thought it would look like a big van with no windows, you know, a hitman van, a bank robber van, an I'm-pretending-to-be-a-plumber-but-I'm-really-an-assassin van. Ya that's the kind. So around 1:30 we see a similar van pulling into Jake's parking lot, which we could see from our vantage point, apparently they just decided to ignore our previous phone call.

We call them up, yet again, and ask if that was in fact them, it was, and tell them we'll be right over. So we get out of the car, one of the guys having just woke up, ha, and we see them open the back of the van. The entire driver's side wall is full of cages, full of yelping dogs. Then they extracted from their midst the cutest sleeping tiny little Golden Retriever, who, once in Kristina's arms, put his chin on her shoulder and looked around quietly. We finish up our business and take him back to the car to meet the big brother, Cody, who during the whole 4 minute trip home was foaming at the mouth and drooling all over the dog and Kristina, what?

To make this long story somewhat shorter, I didn't end up falling asleep until 4, getting up at 5:15, and had to sleep in front of the cage to stop Milo from whining. But last night went a lot bit better as the dog was so tired from having Cody harass him all day, he was a pooped pup. Him and Cody get along really well, which surprised me, but Milo has to spend the entire day under Cody literally, Cody walks right on top of him so he is walking between Cody's legs.

But after a somewhat rocky start and lots of fecal matter, urine, bleach and napkins things have settled down nicely.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where is Micah?

So I'm writing this post a little belatedly, but better late then never seems to be the theme with this baby. To start from the end Micah Andrew was born on Sept. 15th to my sister and her husband weighing 9 pounds 1 ounce and 21 1/2 inches long...I think.

Early last week was when the baby watch really began in earnest. That's when Jess and Dave has set their due date, and as the baby was already fairly heavy we all expected him to make an appearance sometime around then. But, alas, there was no baby to be seen. So I got a call from Jess while on my way home from work on Sunday night informing me that she was going to be induced at 5 o'clock the following morning. Now let's make a sidebar here to point out that the entire 23 minute car ride home was taken up by this phone call, that in itself is a noteworthy feat as I like to keep my phone conversations under 2 minutes. But the entire time I was driving. Let me remind you that I now drive a 5-speed so let's all take a minute to appreciate this...

Anyway, fast forwarding to 5:45 the following morning when I inexplicably woke up and thought that the baby should be beginning it's final push for freedom about now. Monday was all of a blur, I think, for everyone involved. A string of hospital waiting rooms, hurried phone calls and lots of false alarms. Kristina and I made our first visit around 2:00 (pm) until Kristina had to leave for work at 3:15. While there nothing much happened, we watched the contraction monitor bounce up and down, getting excited every time there was an especially big one.

Fast forwarding again, past a trip to Boston Market, past an encounter with Jeffery Sherman, past the news of a C-section, past a trip back home, past a trip back to the mall for Kristina's cell phone/right arm, and stopping at the nursery window. Finally after a 14 hour "labor" (she was asleep half the time and couldn't feel anything, can we really label that labor?) the end result was the beautiful, though temporarily unhappy, baby boy through the window. Jess and Dave were no where to be found, but that wasn't really that important. After they cleaned up the baby, Dave was able to cart him off to go see mommy, and the rest of his contingent.

All in all it was a very exciting and very happy day all around, and like I said, better late than never.

***If anybody gets the reference in the title Justin will give you five bucks.***

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cody Contained

Yesterday I finished a job six months in the making. I finally built and installed the new Cody-proof gate at the end of the porch. All it took was several arguments, a break-out attempt and a trip to the neighbors dumpster to complete.

Not much to this story really. Kristina and I have been wanting to build a gate for Cody since the beginning of the summer. So every other week or so we would "talk" about how it was not getting done. I wanted it done as much as she did, but you know, the motivation factor was kind of lacking. So fresh off another "talk" with my wife I finally decide to act. So naturally in the dead of night me and Nick sneak over to the neighbors house, who just completed finishing their porch, to help clean up their scrap wood. It was a much cheaper trip than it would have been to Lowe's, though I had to listen to complaints the whole time about splinters and such.

So the next day when Kristina went off to work, I set to work. Which in itself is a rarity, usually when she leaves I plant myself on the couch and, as George Feeny phrased it somewhere in season 5, "dive into a good book." And after 8-10 hours of hard, physically demanding, back breaking labor a new gate was born. (hyperbole)

Now Cody is free to roam as he pleases in and out of the house, ane methinks he is very happy with it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

School buses. A rant.

For every person in this world who is running a little bit late to work, what is the worst thing that you fear? Is it the red lights or car accidents and rubberneckers? No. It is school buses. Why? Because in case you haven't got the memo, school buses are the single most important entity on this earth. Do you disagree? Well so do I, but talk to any school bus driver and they will tell you differently.

If you have taken a school bus in recent years, or if you can dredge up old memories of school bus trips of old then you know exactly what I am talking about. School bus drivers seem to think that they have been entrusted with matters of top-level national security. They make a show of talking over their radios to the other drivers, and they fiddle importantly with all the lights that deck the outside. In elementary school you most likely had assigned seats which, let's face it, is going just a little bit too far down power trip alley. And during the rides it did not matter if there was a line of cars a quarter mile long, they were a school bus and had the right to do it. They were not only carrying a bus load of children but seemingly the nuclear football as well. Though I never saw any evidence, what else could give someone that amount of self-important pride?

Meanwhile there I am, more often then not when I worked the 3 o'clock shift, stuck behind this leviathan as it stops at every single side street. I didn't matter that I was now late for work, I had to wait my turn and count myself lucky to have sacrificed in service to my country. God forbid you pull over every once in a while and release the dam you have made yourself, no. They are a school bus and they have the right. They do not even try to expedite the process either, they seem to always have all the time in the world. Once the kid is off the bus there is the inevitable lag of 10-15 seconds or so before they get moving again. Ten to fifteen seconds is not a big deal one time, no. But every single street, come on!

Luckily, now as I work at 11am on Saturday mornings, this is no longer a problem for me. But a recurrence this morning brought back all these old bitter feelings.

So there you buses.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Justin Time...To Wait

Well I guess this story starts back on last Friday night when Justin's got pulled over and his car summarily got towed. Justin did not have a current registration you see. So on Monday he's talking about how he needs to go to the DMV on Tuesday but doesn't have a ride. So I, being the good friend that I am, offer to drive Justin there (for a favor to be named later). Just kidding.

So Justin calls me on Tuesday having supposedly spent all morning making calls to the right kind of people. I drive to his house around 1:30 and pick him up and we make it to DMV and get out little number ticket (D648, yes...I still remember it) at exactly 2:12pm. Only I look up to the little display thing and they are already somewhere in the D780 range, hmmm. But after about 30 minutes of waiting the counter resets back to D600, lucky us.

Now I'm sitting in DMV with nothing to do, Justin has his cell phone out, the girl next to me has hers out, the guy next to Justin has his out, as do the people in front of us. So, naturally I pull out my cell phone to try and blend in, only to remember that the most interesting thing I can do is look up different currency conversions, fun. Meanwhile Justin is watching all kinds of interesting TV shows and the girl next to me is texting so fast that her thumbs are blurred. It was around this time, about 3:15, that I started cursing Justin's timing in all this. The Tuesday after a holiday, and there are so many people there that I start to wonder if I'm missing out on something really interesting happening.

But, as 4:00 rolled around D648 finally got called and me and Justin became the type of people that others waiting in line really like. Why? Because it took as long as asking Justin his license plate number before the lady informs him that he has delinquent taxes in Farmington that he needs to pay off first. He asks why he wasn't told this when he called earlier, (I told him that he should just be proud he actually got a human on the line) only to get the response, "That's not our department." So Justin immediately starts packing up his pile of paperwork as both I and the lady behind the counter are laughing at him. On our walk back to the car I'm still laughing as Justin is re-tallying the total cost of his little pull-over. He did apologize for wasting my time, but let's face it, my time's not that valuable, and I told him it was all worth it.

His one saving grace though was the "quick pass" he got to avoid another 1:45 minutes in line, though it was only good for that day and the next. What a day, now just imagine if government ran health care too. Ugh.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It Starts...

And thus begins my foray into blogging, yes, I am now officially one of "those people". On this blog I will now reveal to you all of my deepest, darkest thoughts and feelings... Well, hopefully it doesn't come to that, I don't think I'll be that starved for material.

Anyway, for my first entry I am going to write about...Cody. Why Cody you ask, well because he is the first thing I looked at just now. Me and him have been hanging out all morning, with nothing to do today besides chauffeur Justin around and await the delivery of Season 3 of Prison Break later on tonight, I have resorted to writing this to no one, and, I suppose, everyone.

Anyway Cody has been following me around the house all day, he's like my little dog shaped shadow. He is constantly around me except when he is getting into something. If there is a suspicious lack of Cody for any significant amount of time it's time to check the laundry basket. It's like a veritable buffet of toys, or so he thinks. Like when I arrived home last night it was to find Kiko, Kristina's stuffed Koala bear, on the living room floor with it's pants down, hmm. This is neither where or how I left the bear, and there was a mysterious spot on the butt that was devoid of any fur. I found the missing fur only a few feet away (not very inspired Cody) and tried to put it back, kind of like replacing a divot on the golf course, so that "you-know-who" wouldn't find out. And I guess by reading this the cat's out of the bag, or dog in this case...bummer.

You know, I'm just as interested as you are to see how long this pointless rambling can go on. Hopefully in the future I'll have something a little more interesting for you to read about. Tune in next time to hear about some of the strange goings-on around Colony Street.