Saturday, December 23, 2006

Reaching new heights of domestitude

I did something new and exciting with my wife this week ... yeah, right, like I'm going to post details about something like THAT on the internet (call me). Instead I'll regale with this tale of personal growth.

It being nigh-on Christmas, she has the hankering to make someone a quilt. Happens every year. The school break approaches, she senses a little bit of free time, and geometric patterns swirling in a nebula of colors fill her head. This year's winner is her new sister, fresh in town after a cross-country journey.

The other night she began the cutting and shaping and sewing of fabric, and lamented about how her new sewing machine hasn't been working properly. She got to use it for one project and then something "happened" to it. Being a professional quilter, naturally she has a back-up machine, but what's the point of the new nice machine, if it doesn't work? Doing my husbandly duty, for once, I decided to take a look at it. In the front of my brain was the recognition that I know absolutely nothing about sewing machines. In the deep innards of my brain, the prehistoric reptilian part, was the acknowledgement of my fear of sewing machines. They have cooties, plain and simple. But this was my wife in a moment of need. If I didn't come to her rescue, who would? As it is, she often calls out to Hugh Jackman in the dark of night. Here at last, was my chance to one-up that sexy Aussie punk. Heck yes. Let's see HIM do domestical stuff around the house. So, full of spite, I headed down into the basement.

Being smart like I sometimes am, I referred to the owner's manual' s Quick Start section and gave myself a quick primer on sewing machine operation. Then I mucked around with it for a while. Eventually, after only a single beer, I got it working and thought I'd try it out on some scraps of fabric. Next thing I know, I'm sewing strips of fabric that will actually be used in this quilt. With every stitch thrust into the fabric by the machine's needle, I'm thinking, " Does this woman have any idea what she's doing? I've never considered her a rock of sanity, but she's really gone over the edge, trusting me with this."

Two nights later...she has a completed quilt top. And I helped. And it was fun. I look forward to doing it again. I mean, afterall, a sewing machine is just another power tool, right?

Oh, and the problem with the machine? I believe it was a poorly wound bobbin snagging and causing the needle thread to jump off of one of the guides and bunch up under the fabric. But what do I know?

Playing on XM: Funky Christmas tunes on Special X-mas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The a game's afoot, Watson!

I need to change my links over on the right. Specifically, the one that says “Last RPG I Ran.” I bit the bullet a few months ago and declared my game table ‘open for business,’ and launched a D&D campaign. Well, “campaign” might be too strong of a word. We’ve played several times now, and it’s too early for me to claim to have an over-arching storyline unfolding. But it sure is fun to be running a game again.

There’s just something magical about the collaborative storytelling that is a roleplaying game. We all have fun and create something bigger than any one of us could have done alone (I mean, I NEVER would’ve guessed that a runty female gnome could bull-rush a hulking lizard man into a sewer full of hungry crocodiles — yet, it happened).

This is probably the easiest game I’ve ever put together. I’m using a very good published setting (Bard’s Gate from Necromancer Games) and relying on published adventures. I set out this time around with the goal of not over-burdening myself with work so that the game wouldn’t become a chore. I want the stories and adventures to be interesting for the other players, but I don’t want to mire myself in all of the deep details and planning that usually end up frustrating me because they never see life outside of my notebook.

My goal this time around is to write like Robert Ludlum (hackish screen plays), rather than Diana Gabaldon (detailed historical drama). I want to entertain my four players enough to keep them coming back for more. In my previous games, I always thought too far ahead and found myself constantly pushing the players to reach some distant goal that I had in mind, yet had no way of leading them toward. Very frustrating for all involved.

Now before the game gets too far along, I need to start blogging the game sessions. I’m not sure if I’ll do it in a blog, or via a web page. Blogging would be a lot easier, but a web page would be more navigable. Either way, I’ll let you know.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Like Father, Like Sons

Who knew that the Power Rangers would be a father/son bonding tool? It's not like I grew up mired in Power Ranger lore...I was in college when the PR first came along. I used to cut my late-afternoon class sometimes if I was expecting an "important" episode, or if I just needed a little something uplifting before going to work that evening. I mean, the original theme song alone was enough to get me pumped up. Add to that the explosions, fighting, and evil villains...especially Lord Zedd, by far the best PR villain...and I was a very happy camper.

Now, MANY years later, my sons watch Power Rangers Mystic Force and Ninja Storm. Those are both pretty good. It took a while for Mystic Force to grow on me, but the cast is great...a bunch of nice kids, and the villains are interesting too. I'm sure they get tired of me saying, "That Vida is pretty cool, but she's no Kimberly." And yes, it's ALWAYS all about the pink ranger.

The boys love to snuggle with me on the couch and watch the action. Today, I'm sitting at the desk working and my youngest is across the room watching an ancient episode, thanks to Power Rangers Generations (assorted adventures from previous incarnations of PR series) on the Toon Disney channel.

But then, I guess this is no different than when my father used to watch the old Johnny Weismuller black & white Tarzan movies with me when I was a kid. Yep, that's what Saturday afternoons are meant for.

Excuse me now. I'm being called to go watch the climactic battle. I doubt I'll see the Rangers wrestling alligators in an Aftrican river, but that's okay. I'll take giant robot monsters so long as I get some time with my little monsters.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


How was your Thanksgiving? Here's mine. Around midday, I got a phone call from one of my father died. The good part about it was that it wasn't a surprise.

Five years ago, he was diagnosed with severe kidney cancer and given 3-6 months to live. That's right, five years ago. And it wasn't a misdiagnosis. Rather, he was that damned stubborn. His kidneys had shut down and he began dialysis treatments (that's being hooked up to a blood filtering machine for 4-5 hours/day, three days/week). The treatments were always hard on him and often painful, but it was his only option.

Over the last few months, he'd begun sliding. He'd been kept alive by dialysis treatments and pure piss & vinegar. Now he was steadily weakening. He was in the hospital for a bad case of pneumonia for the previous week, and no one thought he'd walk away from it. He'd had several close calls over the past few years, but this time he just didn't have the strength.

I went to see him in the hospital the Sunday before Thanksgiving and I didn't recgonize him. The wasted man who lay in the bed that was supposed to be his was nothing more than a skeleton shrouded in loose-fitting skin. The sunken cheeks and protruding joints were sure signs that the cancer was nearly finished with him. Not until I heard him moan his recognition of me did I dare approach, and then, I only knew him to be my father when I saw his eyes. Even with the glimmer of life nearly gone, I could still see my father in those grey-green eyes.

Despite the delirium caused by his weakness and medication, he was able to acknowledge my wife and me. He asked, "what are y'all doing here?" I answered that we'd come to see how he's doing and then he asked where the boys (my sons) were. I both wished we had brought them so that he could see them one last time (and there was no doubting this was the last time I'd see him), and was glad we hadn't because I did not want them to see him like this. I wanted them to remember the grandpa who teased and played with them, who watched from the sofa as they played a game or with toys in the floor.

Everyone was surprised when his strength returned by Tuesday. He was released from the hospital Wednesday to return to the nursing home. Nursing home...did I mention he was 62? He'd lived hard and fast during most of those years. Alcoholism makes for a harsh mistress, but he was more faithful to her than nearly anyone else throughout much of his life. During his dry periods, he worked hard and did his best to provide for me and my sister.

My father didn't concern himself much with what other people thought. If he chose to, it was only to size them up for the most effective attack. He was a man who never encountered a bridge he was afraid to burn...sometimes even before he crossed it. But his resourcefulness and resilience ensured there would always be another bridge.

He cared for those he cared about and to hell with everyone else. And while his way is not mine, I respect the hell out of him for it. When you dealt with him, you knew what to expect. Be straight with him because he can smell bull a mile away, and if you cross him, it'll be the last time you do.

He lived on spite, and yet was always there whenever my sister or I needed help. Many was the time in my pre-teen years when, as he was about to leave out on the road for the week, he would literally give me his last dollar knowing full well that, whatever excuse I came up with when asking for it, I'd spend it on comic books.

And so, he spent the last five years repenting for a life filled with bad deeds, which outweighed his good deeds by a ton. Though they were filled with pain and suffering, these last few years, in my mind at least, have ensured that he arrives at the next life, whatever it may be, with a clean slate.

The irony of it all: he always hated Thanksgiving. For as long as I can remember, he was always miserable and avoidant on that day of the year. And most certainly drunk off his ass.

And this week, Thanksgiving Day, he left home to deliver one last load of frieght. Look out Old father is on his way.

Playing on XM: some random trucking song, let's say it was "Six days on the road" by Dave Dudley.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

End of Summer hoorahs

Two weekends ago we went camping. It was perfect. September is one of my favorite months because it ushers in the Fall season, which is the best season of the year. Fall is the best season of the year because it represents the world putting itself to bed, making preparations for the coming winter. Winter is the season of turning inward. Much of Nature lies dormant and Man's role is one of internal thought and exploration. This exploration in turn leads to explosive growth in the Spring, the season of rebirth. Okay, so maybe Winter is the best season in spiritual terms, but Fall is the season where the weather starts to turn cold. There's a definite earthy scent in the air and the colors are my favorite. And that's why Fall is the best season.

So, as I was saying, we went camping recently. Unbelievably, this was the first time my wife and I have ever been camping together, which also means it was our first camping trip as a family of four. Hard to believe because my wife and I were both avid outdoorsy types before we met. Well, I was at least. Every day of every season was a good day for wandering in the woods. We went hiking every chance we got. But we just never got around to camping out together.

So, as I was saying, we went camping recently. It was a blast! We went with another couple, long time immigrant friends of ours (they're from New York), who also have two young children. We went to a local state campground, with a swimming lake and everything. I led a near-vertical hike up a mountain trail, and my wife headed up a trip to the lake-side beach. Meanwhile, my buddy and I spent a couple of hours at the campsite doing "guy stuff." Which of course means we spent the time drinking beer and talking about work and family life. Yes, guys do that second part. A little.

Our new tent and sleeping bags were awesome. The branches that I pruned from our four maple trees the month before served as the bulk of our firewood. My homegrown, organic firewood was companioned by the "city wood" brought by the other couple...remnants of 2x4 lumber salvaged from some backyard construction in their neighborhood. Their dried pine 2x4's burned more easily and brighter than my semi-green maple logs, but together, as a whole, we had the perfect campfire.

Overall, it was the perfect 2-family camping trip. The burgers and dogs were tasty, the day was warm, and the night was chilly. Even the storm of yellowjackets that was angered by the children's loud and rambunctious play was perfect because it turned out that none of the resident victims were allergic. As if yellowjacket stings aren't bad enough on their own. Tenacious little buggers, those 'jackets.

What a great weekend.

Playing on XM: something with strings and flutes, reminiscent of Jethro Tull. Ah, it's "A Raft of Penguins" by Ian Anderson.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cub Scouts stole my free time

We just came back from the first official Cub Scout pack meeting of the year. We've been involved for about a month and I'm already wondering "how the hell did THAT happen?" My boys are the perfect age and I personally believe in what Scouting has to offer. But now, after just a few weeks of associating myself with this group, I am more involved than my sons are.

A week ago I volunteered to be Assistant Den Leader for my son's den. The Den Leader was grateful because they normally try to keep the dens around 6-8 boys in size, but because of new kids and transfers, this den is bursting at 12. When she informed the Pack Leader (the leader of the dens), I saw a gleam in his eye that left me just a little frightened. That gleam smacked of "he's one of US now!" And tonight I stepped up and volunteered to take over the pack's monthly newsletter.

Actually, I'm looking forward to it. I haven't had an outlet for community service for a long time. Last year I volunteered in my sons' school one morning a week, but, even though I felt like I was able to influence a few young minds and help out an overworked teacher, it wasn't enough. And I admit that I've always wanted to become involved in scouting as an adult. My own time as a boy scout was cut short by my parent's divorce. But the lessons I learned in that short, stunted year held on. It never occurred to me to get involved BEFORE I had kids of my own. Who knows, if I'd done that, I might not have chosen to have children.

Sorry. I digress. Scouting is like a cult. They draw you in and give you meaning. Luckily, this cult trains their members to be productive and caring members of society. The only bad thing about it is the one or two parents who are there to prove how good they are as parents and how good their child is. Almost all of the parents involved are there because they want to help make a difference in the lives of the children. In fact, it's that atmosphere that has pulled me in so hard and fast. But there's always one or two who want to use their children's success as a merit badge of their own. Not because they are proud of their child...there's not a thing wrong with that. But because they are proud of themselves.

Today as part of his homework, my youngest had to search the house for items that started with specific letters: C, F, H, W, and a few others. When he hit W, he was stumped. The rest of us started offering suggestions: Watch, Wheel, Loudon Wainwright III. The one that he grasped was "Wife." My wife suggested he write something like "My father's wife blah blah blah." He wrote "Wife. 39 years old. She is fun to have around."

Needless to say, I'm freaked. I mean, hey, he's 6 years old. I read Oedipus Rex. I have a degree in Psychology. I'm watching my back. And if he starts working on his Assassin Badge at the next Den meeting...I'm moving out.

Playing on XM: Kodo

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pry it from my cold, dead hands

I was thinking today about Charlton Heston. I don't know was just one of those random epiphanies that I often have in the excremeditation chamber (aka, the bathroom). What? That's where I do most of MY best thinking. It's been empirically shown that most brilliant ideas and breakthroughs occur while the in the "thinking position."

So, anyway, it occurred to me just what a glorious movie career this man has had, and I wondered what an impact those roles must have had on his personal outlook and psyche. Let's take a look and I'll show you what I mean.

Briefly, we're talking about a man who has played biblical figures Moses AND God. His "historical" roles include Judah Ben Hur, Michaelangelo, El Cid, Sherlock Holmes, Andrew Jackson, and the shaper-of-worlds Thomas Jefferson. That alone is an impressive list, and most of them were impressive performances.

And then there are his BEST roles, or they're MY favorites at least.

In Omega Man, Heston portrayed a man who woke up to find himself one of the last survivors of a vampiric plague. Luckily he was saved by a hot babe with a gun.

In The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers, he was the malevolent puppeteer behind the throne, Cardinal Richelieu. A minor role in the films, but an important character. By the way, it SHOULD go without saying that these are the ONLY versions of the story to see. Seriously with the talents of Richard Chamberlain, Michael York, Oliver Reed, Frank Finlay, and Christopher Lee(!) could any other version compete? And that's not counting the beauty and stunning performances of Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway!! Mmm...Faye Dunaway...

Soylent Green presented him as the man who uncovered the truth about the world's overpopulation problem. He also delivers one of his most famous taglines in this movie.

Planet of the Apes remains one of my most treasured boyhood films. Not only do we get gorilla cowboys and my first look at science fiction, but we get Heston's greatest moment in film history: his emotional breakdown on the beach at the close of the movie.

One of the best things about these movies is you always get plenty of Charlton Heston musing about his (character's) lot in the Grand Scheme of Things. It's roles like these that turn humble, so-so actors into brilliant men. Men who are capable of going on to lead the free world's gun club.

And, as an aside, all four of those movies are based on really good them!

And that was pretty much the thought that came to me in an instant of neural explosions. I don't really know where these things come from. Maybe, standing there, head bowed and alone with my own inner musings, I just felt some kind of kinship to the man. Yes, you can take this from me when you can pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Wait, that's not where I wanted this to go at all. I just wanted to talk about Charlton Heston's awesome B-movie film career. Where'd that other stuff come from? *sigh*

Playing on XM: Los Lonely Boys

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Music I bought this year

I want to add another post before I forget this thing exists again (maybe tomorrow or next week I'll talk about where all of my free time has gone lately), so here's an old standby: a list of CDs. This year has brought some marvelous music my way. Here are the CDs I've picked up. What have you added to your music collection over the past eight months?

Chingon — Mexican Spaghetti Western
I discovered this little-known — by this band name, that is — group in the DVD extras on Kill Bill v2. The band consists of Robert Rodriguez and most of another band called Del Castillo. The album is an awesome set of high-speed Mexican guitar music and a few traditional-type (slower) songs. They do the music for Kill Bill and the extras include footage from the live set they played at the theatrical premiere of Kill Bill v2. They were so energetic and flat out GOOD, that I looked up their website and ordered the disc that night. I was not disappointed.

Rebel Meets Rebel — (self-titled)
Have you ever thought to yourself, "wouldn't it be cool to hear the strong, melodic voice of David Allan Coe combined with the killer heavy metal sound of Texas metal band Pantera?" If not, you should! That's exactly what Rebel Meets Rebel is...Coe's sweet vocals blend surprisingly well with the metal sounds, on most of the tracks at least. With songs like "Nothin' to Lose" and "Get Outta my Life", it's pure outlaw music, from a hard-edged metal perspective.

Rob Zombie — Educated Horses
It's the same ol' Zombie...and yet, it's not. Rob wanted to get away from the theatrics this time around, so the jacket photos look like one of those long-haired guy bands from the 70's. But the sound is pure Zombie. The theme of the album centers on the Salem Witch Trials of yesteryear. One of the albums's singles, "American Witch," is a lament to the souls of the innocent women put to death by the Puritan town fathers. The whole album is great, but the best track is the theme song for The Devil's Rejects, Rob Zombie's follow up movie to House of 1,000 Corpses.

Hank Williams III — Straight to Hell
His third album, and definitely a great finish to the trilogy. It's a two disc set, but the second disc is a single, almost-30-minute track, full of nonsense, ravings, and musical ramblings. Often creepy, it's worth listening to at least once. Could be a could disc to put on as background music at social gatherings. The first disc is priceless. After his first album, you thought you had a pretty good handle on just who this guy is and how hard he parties. Straight to Hell jumps up and lets you know that you don't have a clue. The songs are great, the music is fast. HWIII is the closest anyone has come to successfully blending REAL country music and punk rock. Strange thought, perhaps, but it sounds damned good.

Drive-By Truckers — A Blessing and a Curse
The name says it all. DBT is one of my favorite bands ever, damned near THE favorite. This album is a blessing because, well, it's another DBT album! The curse is that the disc is collared by a very commercial sound. I've never before heard an album that actually sounds castrated. But that's the best way I can describe this one. The usual, inspired songwriting is there, but the music just doesn't have the teeth it usually does. My first thought...disgustingly...was "this sounds like the Eagles!" It's a good album, but it certainly isn't even close to my favorite. On the other hand, if you usually think their music is a little too gritty for you, try this one. It's not at all bad, it's just not what I'm used to. I'd really like to hear these songs live again. I did hear most of them last year when the gang swung through Charlottesville, but that was before the album's release, so I didn't know what to expect. The best part of this disc is the free live EP that came with the early-purchases. It contains four tracks, one of which is a killer version of Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," where each band member sings a verse in turn. Shonna, the bobble-headed bass player, is great!

The Gourds — Shinebox
One of those collections of cover songs, this certainly isn't the best Gourds album, but it's a good romp anyway. The crowning track, of course, is their version of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice." There's also an okay take on "Ziggy Stardust." I don't know if this one is really worth buying; if you like the Gourds, it IS a good purchase. Otherwise, I'll be glad to let you borrow it sometime.

Robert Earl Keen — The Party Never Ends
Subtitled "Songs you know from the times you can't remember," this is a compilation of most of Keen's best songs. Several of them are live versions with spoken commentary, and Keen's personality really comes through. It was released back in 2003, but I only discovered it a couple of months ago. And yes, of course it has "The Road Goes on Forever." Good album.

Lucinda Williams — (self-titled)
This is one of her early albums that I had to pick up solely for "Changed the Locks." It was worth buying for that song alone...the other tracks are bonus treasure! It's easy to see how Lucinda came to be the standard against which all other female Americana singer/songwriters are measured. Unfortunately, very few come close to her talent or heavenly twang.

I think that's everything I purchased this year. I might have missed one or two, but probably not. It has been an awesome year. SO, belly up, and tell me what YOU've brought home from the music store!

Playing on XM: Robert Earl Keen!

Johnny Bravo is top of cool

(Hey...would you look at that...a blog, and it seems to belong to me.)

I was working from home yesterday and in the background, my sons were watching TV and playing. Johnny Bravo (watch Cartoon Network sometime if you don't know who he is) was on and, in his sexy-Elvis voice, I overhear him say, "A lady doctor? Has science really come that far?" It was sublime.

A little while after that, my 5-yr old comes into the room declaring "I am the king of the underworld!" I was too afraid to ask where he'd picked up that charming phrase, or where exactly he'd been for the past 15 minutes, lest he go "Children of the Corn" on me.

And that reminds me, over the weekend we were going for a swim at the YMCA. Afterwards, we went for dip in the jacuzzi to warm up and allowed the 5-yr old to get in for the first time ever. The rule is that kids must be at least six to get into the boiling pot of people, and he's only three weeks away from it. So he tenderly works his way into the hot tub, ever so slowly getting used to the heat. He works his way in up to his chest, then stands up, complaining that it's just too hot. We respond with something innocuous, "Oh yeah?" And he says, "Well, it's too hot for my belly but it feels good on my things."

My wife and I quickly turned our heads away from each other, biting back our laughter. His "things." No way in hell was I about to ask for clarification.

Today is the birthday of one of my friends. We share an office at work and spend most of our days talking about comic books and their authors and artists, or flinging movie quotes back and forth. Today, being his birthday, he received a box of flowers....from his favorite watering hole. How awesome is that, for the local bar where you spend many an evening, to send you roses on your birthday? If it ain't Callahan's Place, it's danged close.

Playing on XM: Blazers...bluesy slide guitar

Friday, May 26, 2006


Here is exactly why I wanted to have a blog… Yesterday evening, we had just finished dinner and were herding the boys around the house getting ready for bath & bed. The 7-yr old was up first for bath, so I walked into the bathroom intent upon getting the shower going for him.

I walked into the bathroom to find him naked, standing in front of the toilet peeing, and eating a piece of bacon he’d swiped from the dinner table on his way to the bathroom. That image in itself is almost blog-worthy.

But the reason I’m writing about it was my reaction. I walked into the room, took in the above scene, and what was the first thing out of my mouth?

“You’re not supposed to be eating in the bathroom!”
“Don’t forget to wash your hands!"
“What are you doing?” (that would’ve been asking for the obvious – “I’m using the bathroom dad.”)

No. The first thing to come out of my mouth was nothing close to any of those responsible fatherly observations. Nope. What I said was:

“That better not be the last piece of bacon!”

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Adventures in lawn care

So here’s a story for your morning coffee. This evening, I finally mowed the grass for the first time of the season, so that I was no longer THAT neighbor…the one with the wild, unkempt yard. Well, in so doing I got a little too close to a yard ornament…an access pipe for our sewer line.

Last year, I was able to run over the pipe top without incident. Apparently, over the winter the soil has settled just enough so that the top of this plastic pipe sticks up about, oh, say, lawnmower-blade high. I was trying to avoid the thing anyway, because I thought that to be the smart thing to do, and in retrospect, it sure would have been. But the self-propelled lawn mower’s wheels got really good traction at precisely the wrong moment. The mower went three inches further than I intended and white plastic shards went flying.

So now I have to spend the morning digging up the ground around the top of the pipe so that I can attempt to replace that busted cap. Maybe I should buy two of them while I’m at the store…

Theoretically, this should not be a very difficult task. But hey, at least the yard is mowed.

Playing on XM: Reverend Horton Heat

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Sheetz and Star Trek

I love Sheetz. It's not the cheap gas prices or the standard perks of a modern convenience store. No, I go there for one thing: the food. It's cheap gas station food taken to the level of science fiction.

Just like Captain Picard calling up his cup of Earl Grey, I step up to the flatscreen computer terminal and touch my way through the food menu:

"Hot dog," I request.
Cheese? it asks, and presents me with two options.
"American," I reply.
"Ketchup, mustard, onions, jalapenos, and chili"
How many would you like prepared this way?
", wait, belay that request. Jalepeno and cheddar-filled soft pretzel!"

A quick touch of the "Place Order" button and I wait just a few moments as all of the molecules are coalesced and assembled via transporter technology. I grab a drink, pay the cashier for my order, and then my food materializes on the counter. Just like Star Trek!

Now, yes, between you and me, I understand that there are people behind that counter preparing my food. I can see them. I talk to them. But as I stand there tapping my way through the order, I'm taken away, in my mind, to my own little starship in that clean, utopian vision of the future. Hey, it's my lunch hour, I'll spend it in whatever fantasy I choose.

But no, this is just normal, modern technology in our daily, very human lives. The food is prepped by people just like you and me. It's not like they are holograms to satisfy our mundane expectations. Or are they?

Playing on XM: some crappy CCR.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Doctor Who comes to Scifi!

Great news, for those who care. And likely old news by now, but I'm still all a-flutter about it. Scifi has picked up last season's new Doctor Who series, previously only available via BBC and mostly illegal downloading. Hmm...I wonder if iTunes has it?

I've been a fan of Doctor Who since my high school/Cro-magnon days. From what I've heard, the new series is awesome and Christopher Eccleston apparently fills the Gallifreyan shoes admirably. But what would you expect from the guy who goes out of his mind as young Ewan McGregor's roommate in Shallow Grave. (See it if you haven' rocks!)

Playing on XM: Hank III (and his twangy new 2-disc album is out!!)

Edit: Four episodes in now. Wow! Eccleston truly does a wonderful job as the excitable yet aloof Doctor. The first two episodes were lackluster for me, but they had a lot of groundwork to lay. Now that the angst is out of the way, the third and fourth episodes were fabulous. They feel very much like the Doctor Who stories of old. Joy!

Monday, March 06, 2006

What a great weekend!

Oops. I kinda forgot that I have a blog. Oh well, on to business.

What a great weekend. It wasn't long enough, I didn't get enough sleep, etc. But two great things happened on Satyrday.

Part: the First
First, was a first. The boys were hanging out that afternoon while we waited for some guests to arrive. My youngest minion, Duncan, got tired of watching TV and playing with Transformers with his brother. That alone is enough to merit a blog post, but that's not the biggie. He wandered off to his bedroom to play by himself.

After giving him enough time to get into trouble, I went to check on him. I found him curled up in his beanbag reading a book. Duncan. My 5-year old dynamo. The boy what never stops moving was enjoying a book. What's more, it was a chapter book! That's the first time he's ever taken one up to read by himself! Granted, he's 5; he's in kindergarten. He's not supposed to be reading on the same level as his older brother. But here he was, reading a 2nd grade-level book.

Not wanting to let this major milestone pass quickly into 5-minutes-ago, I asked him if it would be okay if I got my book and came in to read with him and keep him company. He said, "sure!" So I ran to my bedroom, grabbed that recent issue of Weird Tales magazine I've been dying to finish, and plopped down on his bed.

Naturally, he crawled up onto the bed beside me, and that's where we stayed for the better part of an hour! Duncan has NEVER done anything for the better part of an hour. Quality father/son time if ever there was any. Him with "Junie B., First Grader: Cheater Pants" and me with the second half of a novella by William F. Nolan about Jack the Ripper. Heaven!

Part: the Second
Next was the arrival of our guests: the regional greyhound rescue, um, people. We've wanted to adopt a grey for years and finally ante'd up to the table. They came for a their pre-adoption home visit, bringing along three doe-sized hounds to scamper about in our home. As we all sat in the living room, getting to know each other, the dogs loped around the living room/dining room/kitchen areas, looking very much like a herd of deer.

After checking out the place for five minutes, the dog-people settled in the living room with the human-people to bask in affection and look out our picture window at passers-by. Eventually they settled down on the floor, ignoring the two very-interested boys and conversing adults.

If you've never seen a greyhound, they are odd-looking creatures. Scrawny, with short fur and nearly translucent skin, long legs, noses, and tails. Scrawny, but large. Easily four feet long (without the tail) and three feet high. Two of them were very graceful creatures. The third was larger and gangly. Someone I could relate to, for sure.

The visit went well. The rescue people were giving us good vibes of approval and we were more certain than ever that one of these peaceful, laid-back beasts was the dog for us. That night, we discussed which of the two adoptable hounds we preferred (the third belonged to the people visiting), and not surprisingly, we all preferred the same dog.

Part: the follow-up
We heard back from the rescue group today. They agreed with our choice of animal and encouraged us to move ahead as soon as we can, rather than waiting until April, like we had opted. We're getting a puppy! Well, she's four and the size of a small farm animal, but it's all the same to us!

Playing on XM: The Who