Friday, November 14, 2003

Kudos to Jim for forwarding this.
Work has been nutty. They just dumped me with a king sized project and are unintentionally throwing all kinds of barriers in my way. Pulled the 11.5 hour day yesterday. Who says working for the state isn't gratifying? At least I know that when Christmas is coming, everyone goes on vacation, so there isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll be able to do anything even if I want to from December 10th to January 5th.

In the meantime, I leave you with my personal philosophy as followed from the ages of 16-present. It is called The Three-Fold Path to the Glimmering Sea of Irresponsibility and Enlightenment, or, more succinctly: The Way of the Coward.

1) Deny Everything
2) Make Counter-Allegations
3) Run Like Hell

THis three-tiered approach to any hostile situation will always, always, always get you out of trouble. I promise.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The State University I work for gave us all yesterday off in observance of Memorial Day. At least I hope they did. Nobody seems to have missed me yesterday.

With an actual war occuring overseas, Veteran's Day has a greater immediacy than most years. But invariably, on Veteran's Day, I think of my Grandfather, Marvin Ross. He was raised in rural Kansas, and has the kind of stories and background that post-Vietnam kids like myself regard as American myth. He broke horses from the time he was 12, and originally joined a horseback riding cavalry. He served through almost all of WWII, including dropping into Normandy in a glider as part of the 82nd Airborne, serving in Africa (I assume chasing Rommel about), and at some point crossed enemy lines in Italy to go and raid a wine-cellar.

He's the kind of guy who, when he saw me going jogging several years ago, pointed out that I wasn't lugging an 80 pound pack, as he had to do for four years. It's kind of a tough image to live up to. Since the toughest thing I ever did was obtain the high score on Galaga at Pizza Royale in 1983, I'm usually left just staring at the guy as he relates his tales like he's casually recounting an issue of Sgt. Rock (which he might be, who knows...).

My pop is also a veteran, he of Vietnam. But My Old Man has less exciting tales to tell as he was a mechanic and electrician in the Air Force and mostly served as a target for VC while hanging out on the runway in Pleiku. He does know a hell of a lot of funny stories involving airplanes getting blown up and fowled up, which led to my decision never to want to sit behind the stick in a combat situation.

In the end, I feel like a big ol' sissy. That's what Veteran's Day means to me. I get to be a sissy because other folks put on a uniform and go get shot at in the far reaches of the world. So I hope you all took a few minutes out to observe the service these good folks have done for us.

Now for some housekeeping:

I have found two new shows I like this season. 1) Arrested Development on Fox. This show will only get about 8 episodes out before it is pulled, but I hope to catch them all. I was the one guy in America who also believed Fox's Hollywood show Action was one of the best sitcoms of that year.

2) Cartoon Network's Duck Dodgers. Reviving the comedy/ science-fiction of Daffy Duck in space, the one episode of this show I've seen was pretty darn good. It's not Futurama, but I dug it.

other shows I should have discovered, but am late on the bandwagon, and/ or have changed my mind.

1) Mucha Lucha on Kids WB!
2) Randy was right. Teen Titans is worth watching. Everyone ignore my previous comments.

In other news, Jamie, Mel and I may have a brief cameo on The Learning Channel's reality/ game show "Clean Sweep". They were taping an episode down the street from us the day after Halloween and Jamie and I leashed up Mel and went and bought a grotesquely ugly lamp from the yard sale. At any rate, if you see an episode taking place in Arizona, wait until the yard sale portion and you will see Jamie suddenly going into haggling mode (which I had never seen her do), and me standing around looking really nervous that Mel is going to knock me, the camera crew and the tables full of stuff right over. Big lesson: when going to appear on TV, do not bring unpredictable doggy.

The other funny thing was how Jamie and I were primping before going to the garage sale. We were not going to go down there and look like slobs.

Anyway, that's what I've got today. Hope you guys had a good Veterans Day.

Thanks to Jim for forwarding this link. Included are the worst album covers ever to come out of Sweden. He also included this link, with even more album cover gold.

Monday, November 10, 2003

As I was telling Jim, I look forward to seeing the Reverend Sharpton make a case for his positions!
A special Disneyland treat, Leaguers!!!!

Generally I shy away from showing myself, but I had so much fun on this trip, you get a few photos of your intrepid blogger.

Me being too big for the cave on Tom Sawyer's Island.

Too long away from Mel, I seek solace in Pluto's embrace.

Greetings, Leaguers!

Well, I had a funfilled week at EduCause 2003. I spent four glorious days in Anaheim, California wherein I spent a lot of time walking around booths and sitting through presentations on technology in education. THis may sound boring to you, but to me, it's really, really boring.

THe upside of all of this is that I was also two blocks from Disneyland, which is, I am told, the Happiest Place on Earth.

I'm inclined to agree, as I had a pretty darn good time within the gates of The Magic Kingdom.

Hopefully I can link to some photos pretty soon.

Instead of dawdling off to Matrix 3 (as I had not seen Matrix 2), I went and saw "Elf" yesterday. THis isn't the best move in the world, nor am I really feeling prepared for Christmas, but it was worth seeing at matinee prices.

This said, the Christmas Season is officially upon us. Last Tuesday, walking into Disneyland, MainStreet USA had already been transformed into a Christmas theme and non-secular Christmas tunes poured out from the PA. While Anaheim is considerably chillier than Arizona, I just finished Halloween. I have Thanksgiving to deal with, and am not really looking to rush into another Holiday season.

Target is prepped with huge cardboard cut-outs of ornaments, the seasonal section is packed with trees and lights and whatever. I went to Barnes and Noble to buy a book, and their PA was also playin non-secular Christmas tunes. On the way to the movie, I was flipping radio channels, and 99.9fm has already switched (I am not making this up) to an All Holiday Song format which will last until January 1. Despite the fact people were at "Elf" in shorts, it still felt, I suppose, somewhat Christmassy, but let's face it, when two weeks ago we were passing out of 90 degree temps, I am still not prepared for Holiday fun.

The truth is, I want to like Christmas, but as I've passed out of college and into the working world, I've begun to understand why my Mum got that look on her face every year sometime around Thanksgiving. The look would grow grimmer and grimmer until around NEw Years Day things would culminate in some sort of scene out of Mommy Dearest with me being grounded for no particular reason other than I was the one relative who refused to leave the house once the festivities were over. My Mom was the person holding everything together for the swarming masses of Steanses who came in like locusts, ate and left nothing behind but a mess to clean up. Every year we played host to family and friends for Turkey Day (usually numbering into the double digits), and Christmas Eve usually saw about 10 people in the house and sometimes a few in a hotel somewhere.

Jamie's family does Christmas right. It's small and quiet and involves a movie on Christmas Eve, which was odd the first year, but I've come to appreciate it's simplicity.

And now that we're in Arizona, I have to board the pets when I travel, and that's no good. Mel shouldn't be spending CHristmas in doggy jail, like some common drunkard dog in the drunk doggy tank.

For some reason, Jamie also manages to get sick around Christmas every year, and now that we're in year #8 of being an item, i've come to dread Christmas just a bit more. I do not want her feeling ill while she's opening her stocking. For some reason "It's a Wonderful Life" seems to trigger the problem.

In itsway, Christmas has become this huge thing on the horizon with very predictable problems, a hell of a lot of expenses and not enough days of vacation in it to make it relaxing.

I've been doing weird things to Jamie, like insisting upon not decorating, but that's kind of crazy. We own a fake tree and all that. I just keep trying to think of ways for me not to go nuts as Christmas comes upon us. But I also want for her to have a good Christmas. But let's face it, Christmas is not like the movies (unless you count Die Hard and Lethal Weapon). The chances of a Magical Christmas occuring are pretty damn slim.

But here's the truth.

The reason we make such a big fuss over Christmas is because some part of us still remembers waking up when we were 6 and going downstairs and getting that train set, or going to church and singing "Silent Night" with no light but the candles, or sitting on the floor by Grandma's feet while she drank coffee, or whatever. And I think we think that if we get it right this time, it'll be like it was then. And we can try and try, but it's not going to be liek it was then, no matter how hard we work to make it like it was.

But this year I'm going to take it easy and try to relax. THis year I'm going to take a page out of 7-Year Old Ryan's book and not get hung up on it all. But I'll tell you this much, Christmas is a hell of a lot better when you wake up on Christmas Morning with Jamie there than when Mom and Dad made you bunk down with a snoring older brother.

In short, this is my long introduction to Ryan's Christmas Movie Contest.

Rules will be being released this week, so get your engines warmed up, kids. It's going to be a good one.