Thursday, December 28, 2006

Final Salvatore Podcast for 2006

And this will also be the last one I embed (unless some earth-shattering news is in a future podcast). I've enjoyed the videos, but I haven't learned too much more about Bob the person, just more about Bob the author.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2006 - A Year Of Reviews

Best Holiday Movie - It's A Wonderful Life [out of the 30 or so holiday movies I watched]

Best Play - Nunsense [of the 4 I attended]

Best Medical Procedure - Lasik [thankfully the only one I had this year]

Best Read (Star Wars) - Bloodlines by Karen Traviss [out of the 40+ I read]

Best Read (Fantasy) - Ploughman King by Kurt R. A. Giambastiani [of the 3 I read]

Best Read (Non-Fiction) - Night by Elie Wiesel [only non-fiction book I read]

Best Of 2006 - City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer [granted it fell into the Fantasy category, but it blew everything so far out of the water in all the categories, it was separated from the pack to give some others breathing room]

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas 2006 Holiday Card

December 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

First we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. We have had a very busy year and know that next year will be just as busy.

Starting off the year, the shed was finally finished. We have filled it up and are wondering why we didn’t build something larger. In February, we cheered and cheered as the Steelers won the Super Bowl. (Even Elizabeth stayed up late to watch the game). March was the start of parent-child swim classes for Elizabeth and I. We go every Saturday morning to the base for a 30 minute swim class. She is really improving and just last week she started to try to swim on her own. At the end of March, Neil lost his Uncle Irv to cancer and he and his dad drove to Chicago for the services.

April brought a 2nd birthday for Elizabeth and my 30th. It was also time for us to say goodbye to the Tovar family who headed to Texas for a few months before being stationed in Japan. We also had visits from my sister, my parents, and Neil’s mom. In June Neil lost his Uncle Denny in an ATV accident and he and his dad went to Nebraska for the services. June was a big transition month for Elizabeth. We really started working hard at potty training (it still continues) and we moved Elizabeth out of her crib and into the toddler bed.

During the Fourth of July weekend we traveled to Pennsylvania. It was a whirlwind trip the included a bridal shower for Nicole (my sister), a trip to see Grandma Gayle and Steve, the Brentwood 4th of July parade with my Aunt Mary, and a day trip for Neil and I to see two of Frank Lloyd Wright’s houses in western Pennsylvania (while Elizabeth was spoiled by Grammy). The rest of the month kept us busy as well while we celebrated our 6th anniversary, remodeled the hall bathroom, had a visit from Carlo (my brother) and Julie (his girlfriend), and Neil underwent Lasik eye surgery. (now neither one of us need to wear glasses or contacts).

In August, Elizabeth and I traveled to Nicole’s house for anther bridal shower. Unfortunately, that month brought the death of Neil’s Grandma Dorothy. We traveled to Chicago for the services. While the reason for the trip was not a good one, it was nice to see all but three of Neil’s cousins. September also kept us busy with the start of school and Nicole and Justin’s wedding. We had a great time and Neil and Elizabeth finally got to meet my grandfather.

October and November did slow down some, but as is the case with December things are quickly getting busy again. We don’t know what next year will bring us, but we are hoping for a happy and healthy year for us and everyone we know.

Yvonne, Neil, Elizabeth, and Henry


Thus ends our Christmas letter. We did a Holiday card this year, but I neglected to scan it, so I'm including the picture we used for it (the second one) so you'll only be missing the fancy border. I'm also including the two other photos from our session (the first and third) and our trip to see Santa Claus (the last one). And of course, I'm linking to the last two Christmas cards.


Christmas 2005 Holiday Card
Christmas 2004 Holiday Card

I've cheated on my barber


That's right, for the second time in as many months, I've gone to another barber. Might not be a big deal to some folks, but to me, it was a heavy decision to make. My dad and I came to the area in 1981. Since then, I've been to a few barbers, but I grew up going to Lancaster's. Larry Lancaster, Pat Pellitier, and whoever filled in the third barber chair would cut hair (for what seemed like everyone in town).

At some point, Pat moved out on his own and kept cutting hair. Dad and I followed. He moved to another shop location (still in town), and we followed. He got sick, we still had him cut our hair. He gave my daughter her first haircut. He gave my dad Playboys. He knew us by name and knew what we wanted for a haircut. We tipped him and always waited for him. Only him. Kind of like a cult leader, he was the only one divine enough to cut my hair.

Until he started wearing gloves.

Because he had some sort of rash/infection/who knows what going on.

And despite my desire to keep as healthy as possible, I feel guilty. Yes, I actually feel guilty about going to someone else.

Kind of like I cheated on my barber.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday Movie Guide - Part II

Number 4

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)
Clark and Ellen do their best to make the best of their family-filled holiday. I can only hope my future Christmas celebrations aren't this wild. but sometimes I do wish it were this crazy. I can label some of these characters as my own family members.

Oh, that pretty lady on the left is Nicolette Scorsese.

Number 3

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
Another must-see on the holiday list (the original, not the updated version from 1994). I think to some extent the court scene helped push me toward a Criminal Justice degree. Maybe I should have been a movie critic instead, but I still want to cheer the lawyer on when those letters come rolling in. And I cheer when the Macy's psych doctor gets his noggin knocked. If it's good enough to be remade, then it's good enough for you to watch.

Maureen O'Hara (the mother) can also be seen in the original Parent Trap (also as the mother), Rio Grande, The Quiet Man, and many other movies. Natalie Wood (little Susan) went on to be in Rebel Without A Cause, West Side Story, and Gypsy before drowning in 1981. The circumstances of her death are questionable and Christopher Walken was present.

Number 2

A Christmas Story (1983)
I'll shoot your eye out if you don't watch this movie. There's a reason some cable channels play this movie all day on Christmas and it's because Jean Sheppard has an insane sense of humor. By representing one of the most romanticized eras in American history, we can all dream about what we want our Christmas to be like. The odd thing is, my Dad bought me my first BB-gun a few years after this came out and a few years before it became a cult classic. And now, the mecca for fans has opened in Cleveland. Ralphie's house.

Peter Billingsley (Ralphie) has gone on to be a producer, writer, and director. Darren McGavin (the old man) passed away this past February. My Summer Story is the sequel.

Number 1

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)
Jimmy Stewart is the spirit of Christmas in this movie. I've been watching it since I was a kid and it was likely the first "classic" movie I ever saw. While the colorized version was popular on TV for some time, I'm happy to say the original B&W version has made a come-back. This is the all-time Christmas movie. Every "common" man out there can relate tot he stress of the holidays and should see this as a great wake-up call. Things really aren't that bad. From this movie, I learned to appreciate the art of movies. Stewart became my Hollywood hero and allowed me to enjoy his acting in the west, on Capitol Hill, and opposite an invisible rabbit.

The police officer and the cab driver are Bert and Ernie. Frank Capra and Jimmy Stewart also teamed up for Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

First Ten Patents in US

I'm a self-proclaimed Google nut (fan, slave, inductee, whatever....). I've been a fan since Desktop and GTalk came out.

So today I'm reading the latest news from Google Blogoscoped in Google Reader and I see they've released a Patent search.

I've been entertained ever since.

So, in light of furthering your education, here are the first ten patents in the United States (and links to them).

1 - Traction Wheels - July 13, 1836
2 - Mode of manufacturing wool or other fibrous materials
3 - Making Wooden Pins
4 - Wood Molding Machine
5 - Machine for mortising solid wooden shells of ships tackle-blocks
6 - Wood Molding machine
7 - Boring Wood
8 - Cutting Shin-Tackle Blocks
9 - Making Tackle Blocks
10 - Cutting Dye Wood

10,000 - Improved Paddle Wheel

1,000,000 - Vehicle Tire

7,119,100 - Oripavine derivatives and their uses as pharmaceuticals (the highest patent number I could find)

Heroes Still Rocks

For those that don't already know, I'm a fan of Heroes, the NBC sci-fi show. During the season, you can keep things alive with the graphic novel that gives you a bit of an inside scoop on the characters.

Well, I now have to wait until January 22 to catch a new episode (repeats are on the Sci-Fi Channel).

Or so I thought.

There's a new graphic novel out there (number 12 in the series) with Peter in a coma, clearly after the events of the last new episode. So make sure you check it out.

Now, if I could only catch Jericho on repeats.

Humbug is Nunsense

AOL announced they're laying off employees at their Dulles site. Just in time for the holidays. Talk about a gift that should be returnable. And of course it has nothing to do with their increase in India outsourcing.

On a more positive note, there was a good review of Nunsense in today's Free Lance-Star Weekender. Not quite as verbose as mine, but still a good review.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Editor Available

Being an avid reader and a fan of fantasy, it's no surprise I've read some of Elaine Cunningham's work. And while I readily admit to not having read her back list, I have followed her career in some manner for a few years now.

And, more recently, I've been reading her blog (thank the maker for RSS feeds and Google Reader).

Her recent post Editor Needed got me to thinking about a couple of things. The first being the difference between EDITING and WRITING. I've always fancied myself as a writer, due mainly to my steady diet of R. A. Salvatore and Hardy Boy books as a child. I had this distinct feeling that I could create my own adventures for Drizzt or Frank and Joe quite easily. The desire to write never really developed much as I grew, and was at times a chore (mainly in high school). Sure, I had fun writing bizarre things for class at times, but the structure kept my imagination chained to the bottom of a water well.

In college I wrote a little more, but not much. And it wasn't until shortly after I graduated that I realized my creative "juices" were only present and more easily tapped when I was upset about something. Essentially, the ink would flow only when I was pissed off or depressed. And being a hard time in my personal life, I found it to be a great outlet for my anger/sadness.

As I've progressively grown older, I've found that I'm not as upset (thus less "juice" to write with) and I'm not much of a writer. And Elaine's post emphasises this point rather bluntly. I've heard Bob Salvatore say many times that a true writer can't stop writing, that it's almost a compulsion. For me, it's a hobby. I do okay, but fiction writing just isn't my niche. Even the reviews I write aren't the best, just a mediocre pile of words in a sea of reviews. Essays, these I feel more comfortable with. But I've never felt much of a market was available until I read a VanDerMeer book. It almost felt like a jumbled collection of essays. And that gave me hope.

Which brings me to the other thoughts I had about Elaine's post, editing. This is some sort of magical talent I've acquired through the years. In fact, it seems like over-night in college I was the "Comma King" and became the guy that edited every one's papers. I read so many I actually got sick of it.

But I'm now wondering if I should actively (as a non-professional amateur) pursue being an editor. I know plenty of people out there self-publish books. Surely I would be a great resource to them. I'd work cheap, do a decent job, and maybe I'd enjoy my work (that would be a change).

Yet, even if this came to be, my dreams of "making it big" still wouldn't happen. There's no professional author out there reading this. There's no publishing company reading this. Hell, it's not even something on my resume. And it never will be. It's like putting down "BA in Criminal Justice, Minor in History, Two classes short of an English minor, and 4 classes short of a Psychology minor."

Yeah. Spell S-T-U-P-I-D with me.

Oh well, hopes and dreams are always there to be burst and ruined, right? But still, I think I'll add something about that to my site. Something along the lines of "Quality editing available upon request."
Or just a simple "HIRE ME."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Picture from Sunday

Yesterday I posted about our trip to Northern VA to visit my uncle. Well, thanks to the magic of modern technology, here's a picture of (from l to r) Elizabeth, Yvonne, me, and Dad.

[On a side note, you can't see my pistol in this picture.]

One Ring To Fool Them All

I'm doing a bit of a social experiment today. Turns out the hole in my ear hasn't closed up, so I've put in an earring this morning (thanks to my wife for letting me borrow a small gold ball on a stud). I'll keep you posted on who notices.

1103 Hours - Someone noticed, causing another to notice. But none after that.

1315 Hours - Another person mentions seeing the earring this morning. Too bad they didn't say anything. They could have won the coveted "I Have Eyes Award."

1425 Hours - My boss just noticed and made a comment that I at least had it in the "right" ear (meaning the left one).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend Report

So I had a pretty busy weekend. Fortunately all worked out well in the end.


We started our weekend with a chill. My mom sent Christmas presents in two huge boxes which garnered me some dirty looks from the mail-lady at work. Everything was wrapped except the new quilt and matching bed skirt she made for us. I couldn't believe how big it was but it ended up fitting great (I'll post more on the quilt later).

But anyway, Friday we woke up to a chilly house. The weather was quite cold (below zero with the wind chill) outside, so I wasn't too concerned with the heat in the house. Friday night we still had a chilly house, so I added some extra blankets to the bed to keep us warm.


And Saturday we woke up to an even colder house. We had the thermostat set at 74 degrees (warm enough for me to walk around in shorts and a t-shirt and cold enough for Yvonne to walk about with a blanket and flannel pajamas). When we got up Saturday, it was a nice, cool 60 degrees. So the trip to see Santa was postponed and Yvonne went to town to do the usual shopping while I held down the fort awaiting the arrival of the Robert B. Payne guy (from whom we purchased a new Trane heat pump two years ago and have a service contract with).

Needless to say, his arrival was most welcome. After a couple hours of searching, poking, and prodding, he located the source of the issue. An electrical wire was shorting out inside the air handler that runs the electric heat. Thus, no emergency heat. Nor any auxiliary heat. Essentially, no heat at all. A quick fix and nice, warm, toasty air was pouring out of the vents. Started to feel like Clark Griswold huddled over the vent to warm up.


While waiting for the heat to get fixed, Dad delivered some insulation for the shed. Hopefully I'll get out there to mark the electrical outlet locations so we can drill and insulate this summer. After storing that, Yvonne, Elizabeth and I went down to a local church (Oakland Baptist) to see our friend's production of Fruitcakes. It was pleasantly funny and entertaining. While you could see the moral of the story a mile away, the acting was pretty good and the story was even better. Almost wish the Riverside would get this for a main stage production. Or the Christmas Story.

Uncle Randy

Yesterday we (Dad, Yvonne, Elizabeth, and I) ran up to Dulles to meet Uncle Randy. We had a good dinner and a visit afterward. Always nice to see family, no matter how short the visit is. He's doing well and looks like he's lost some weight. Had some photos of his new granddaughter and plenty of stories.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Holiday Movie Guide - Part I

Number 10
Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

While it's impossible to find a legal copy of this TV show, pirated versions abound. Much to the dismay of George Lucas who has commented that if he had the money and time, he'd personally destroy every copy on Earth.

Personally, I've never seen Star Wars stoop to a level this low. But I still couldn't tear my eyes away from it.

Number 9
The Santa Clause (1994)

Tim the Toolman does good at fixing this movie up. While there is an obvious flavor of his Home Improvement-style acting, the supporting cast helps fill the laugh track.

There's a lot of good slapstick and good family humor here. And the moral of the story is decently disguised.

Number 8
The Bishop's Wife (1947)

Cary Grant (a great actor in his own right) plays the angel that answers the Bishop's prayers. While seeing David Niven as a Bishop was a bit odd, the story was great. Not the best movie, but a good classic.

This was something new for me to watch, which is quite likely why it placed in the Top Ten. I'll make an effort to add more holiday movies this year, so we'll see how things change for Christmas 2007.

Number 7
Bad Santa (2003)

Chock full of foul language and adult situations, this is not a movie for the entire family. And for that matter, it's not a movie for those that see Christmas as the celebration of the birth of Christ. Unless you're one of those priests, fathers, or nuns that has a sense of humor dirtier than my own.

But if you feel the urge to get your jollies off to the man in the red suit, this is the movie to do it with. John Ritter, Bernie Mac, and Little Person Tony Cox are stellar. While I'm no fan of Thornton, this was a great watch.

Number 6
Home Alone (1990)

I can still remember leaving the movie theater after watching this movie. My sides hurt from laughing so much. Even all these years later, it's hilarious.

Culkin hasn't had much of a career after this movie, and has made headlines for being a friend of Michael Jackson and marrying at a young age. Despite his history after the movie, this is a great John Hughes movie.

Number 5
White Christmas (1954)

A good combination of Christmas and WWII. You can't go wrong with Bing Crosby and Danny "fucking" Kaye (as Clark Griswold would say).

Even my wife loves this movie. We even share the same favorite scene with Crosby and Kaye singing and dancing in drag. Lord help the mister that gets between me and these sisters!

I think I'm going to cry

It's like hearing a friend was just diagnosed with cancer and only has a few weeks to live. I can't believe it. I feel so depressed. Foxtrot was one of my favorites. While it will still be around, it will be missed dearly.

I've already seen the passing of The Far Side by Gary Larson.

Now I'll have to survive on For Better Or For Worse, Dilbert, and Garfield. Sure, there are others that I read, but my core is gradually shrinking.

Stormtrooper Librarian Raps in French

In case you haven't noticed, I enjoy creating bizarre titles for my posts. It's kind of become an obsession. Not sure why, it just has.

Stormtrooper Yes I Am!

Quite an odd find from yesterday. I was searching Technorati for something to keep me busy (and out of trouble) at work and came across this little video. What a hoot.


I feel like such an ass for forgetting to watch this. i was enjoying Mythbusters last night and all their holiday adventures when I happened to flip through the guide to see what else was on. And wouldn't you know it, The Librarian was half-way through.

So if you have a copy on VHS or DVD of the latest installment of The Librarian, I'd be happy to take it off your hands.

French Farm Rap

Another odd find today via Google Video. French rap. I should know that music culture is not exclusive to America, but I still find foreign music intriguing. So when I came across this video of a guy rapping in French, I was entranced. It's been a long while since I've studied French and could barely catch any of the lyrics, but it was entertaining. And the farm background was also odd. A rap video like that in the States would be the butt of many jokes.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Automatic Tire Chains?

This was a new one for me. Granted, I'm not exactly a native to the snow states of the north, but I'm familiar with how tire chains work. I just never knew this could be what you see hanging under emergency vehicles and school buses. How interesting indeed.

Salvatore Podcast V

Probably the best one I've seen so far. You get a better picture of how much he loves and misses his brother. And you get to hear about Oliver the highway halfling and Oliver his dog. Hopefully this will drive more interest in this decent series. Not the strongest and most original of fantasy books, but at least it's an easy read.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Blog Layout

Apologies to those two readers out there that actually read this thing, but I've decided to reformat my blog to, well, to spice up my life a bit. And after reading kurt's blog, I've decided to follow in the footsteps of an artistic mind and make things look, for lack of a better word, "pretty."

So here it is.

Subject to change.

Just like the weather.

Feel free to provide feedback.

Maybe I'll listen.

Heroes Mid-Season Finale

I'm whimpering and whining, hoping for more information. Like the end of a tube of toothpaste, there's only so much I can squeeze out. Now I'm ready to cut it open to scrape the insides clean.

So let's do a top five of sorts (with apologies to those who created the copyrighted material I'm borrowing). And some predictions.

#1 - Hiro
Hiro is my Hero. To me, he defines a hero. He's trying to use his powers for good in helping other people, but has been so used to being a "common man" he doesn't quite know how to handle the super-power thing.

Prediction - Hiro will travel back in time to get his katana (sword) from ancient Japan. Think of the old Seven Samurai movie by Kurosawa.

#2 - Matt (aka The Cop)
I think the cop (still have a hard time calling him Matt) is another great "common man" character. Fighting to figure out what to do with his power, he has the opportunity to better himself and not lash out violently. But in trying to find out what happened to him when the Haitian took him, he may loose his temper.

Prediction - He will confront Horn Rim Glasses Guy (HRGG) and get the information he needs. But it won't be pretty, the confrontation or the information.

#3 - Claire
Oh sweet Claire-Bear. I can almost wish the cheerleaders in high school were as grounded as she is. The ones I knew where a bit spacey at times. And that's being nice.

Prediction - Claire now realizes what her father (HRGG) has done (or can do) and will run-away from home. I'm sure she'll end up in New York City, but will hitch a ride with either Hiro or someone else to get there. In NYC, she will use her power to heal Peter Petrelli of the combustible power he absorbed.

#4 - Micah
The "touch-tone kid." Or maybe the computer that wore tennis shoes. Either way, he has yet to use more of his talent. But I like how he's trying his best to keep his parents together, each with differing abilities.

Prediction - Micah helps dismantle a bomb. Don't ask where that came from, just a guess.

#5 - The Haitian
Until the mid-season finale, this guy was on my hit list. I really, really hated him. But when he confronted Claire, it made me wonder if he's not that bad after all.

Prediction - The Haitian will "rescue" HRGG from The Cop. But he will give him the same treatment as Claire.


Isaac (the artist) - Continues to sketch and paint without being high and will provide Hiro with more clues as to the destiny of the group.

Simone - Her story line is pretty much dead.

Nathan Petrelli - He wins the election and turns out to be a typical politician, evil. Until he hurts his wife and decides to use his power for good.

Mohinder - Will continue to attempt to warn those on "the list" and will garner the attention of the FBI lady and The Cop. They'll join forces to save the world.

Niki - Will turn herself in but escape prison to rejoin DL and Micah to do something.

Peter Petrelli - Will become the combustible man but will not be the reason behind the blast in NYC.

Graphic Novel

One final comment on this comic that I keep pushing to fellow fans. Read it if you haven't already. It'll give you some new details that will spawn further discussion. Like the latest that shows HRGG and the Haitian finding Eden and knocking out Sylar.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Nunsense Review


Book, music, and lyrics by Dan Goggin
Produced by Rollin E. Wehman
Direction and Musical Staging by Vilma Gil
Sister Mary Regina, Mother Superior – Kathy Robinson
Sister Mary Hubert, Mistress of Novices – Desiree Roots
Sister Robert Anne – Rachel Abrams
Sister Mary Amnesia – Heather McIntosh
Sister Mary Leo – Santina Umbach

Yesterday was a continuation of a long love affair with the local dinner theater, The Riverside. Yvonne and I have been season ticket holders for five years now (soon to be six) and have enjoyed many meals and musicals together. With rare exception, the atmosphere is always pleasant, the food is always good, and the entertainment is, well, entertaining.

Things were different yesterday. Quite different. I’ll begin my story with our arrival.

Pulling into a Sunday matinee is generally easy. Much to our surprise, there were already two or three busses disembarking their loads. Parking was easy as usual, seeing as how few people show up before 1:30 pm. We enter the doors, trade our season tickets for seating tickets, and make our way to the main doors of the theater. Our gracious host takes us to the, as she called it and we already knew it, “best seat in the house.” Tier A, Table 5. Smack in the middle of the first tier, which means there’s no fear in having an obstructed view.

Our server approached to ask if we had ever been here before “of course,” we answered, “for several years.” She told us where to find the menu and took our drink orders. After a moment of slight disappointment in finding out they switched from Coke to Pepsi, we gave her our order and continued reading the program (and the menu).

Our server returned with our drinks and took our dinner order. Yvonne ordered the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Breast (with creamy Dijon sauce) and I had the Blue Cheese Crusted New York Strip. I added a cup of the Maine Lobster Bisque and we both had the Chocolate Explosion for dessert. For those unfamiliar with this particular dinner theater, you pick what you want to eat, including dessert, before starting on your salad.

Unless you are hungry like I was and start on your salad while picking from the menu. The salad was a typical house with ranch dressing. Thankfully they didn’t skimp on the dressing they have at times in the past. The bread arrived shortly after (a rye mini-loaf) as did my lobster bisque. I’m not a big rye fan, but the bread was good (and warm). The lobster bisque was also tasty, but a bit pricey for me at $3.95 per cup. While I’m no food snob, the bisque did not have large chunks of lobster, but was well seasoned and obviously lobster.

Our main courses arrived and, much to my surprise, I wasn’t sure if I could finish it. Thankfully I was hungry and I did, but the meat was nearly hanging off my plate. For a moment I was thinking we got special treatment for being regulars, but no, others around me were dining on the same size cut. So moving from the normal 8 ounce cut of beef, this was an easy 10 to 12 ounce cut. It was well cooked (just a little smidge of pink in the middle) and well seasoned (the blue cheese wasn’t over-powering). The mashed red potatoes were the usual as were the seasonal vegetables. Yvonne’s chicken came in just about the same double portion as mine beef, and looked tempting, even for a person allergic to chicken.

Then our dessert arrived. Chocolate Explosion was a bit of an understatement. A simple mini-bundt cake with the middle loaded with chocolate. And hot chocolate at that. The hint of caramel made it even better.

After dessert, we enjoyed the little speech on birthdays, anniversaries, groups that were in the audience, how to tip well, and the upcoming shows for next season. What is in store for us next year? Shenandoah, Chicago, Peter Pan, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Wow, that’s a line up.

After a quick run to the potty before the show started, we sat back and waited for the curtains to come up (figuratively, there were no curtains drawn on the stage). We also ordered our pre-show drinks and intermission drinks (including the “Amnesia” show special for both of us).

Well, this is one show I would not recommend drinking while watching. Not because of the Nuns, but because of the comedy. I have not laughed so hard since watching Home Alone in the movie theater. I alternated between thinking my head would explode and peeing my pants. The comedy was so good, even the cast was laughing.

The Mother Superior (Kathy Robinson) was great at improve and moved quite well on her feet. Seeing her get “happy” on the bottle of Rush was the highlight of the show.

The Mistress of Novices (Desiree Roots) looked an awful lot like Whoppi Goldberg. But she was funnier. Seriously, she was funnier than Whoppi in Sister Act. How’s that for a comparison?

Sister Robert Anne (Rachel Abrams) had a great Brooklyn accent and played the part well. Doing her best to up-stage the Mother Superior, she put on quite a show.

Sister Mary Amnesia (Heather McIntosh) is a Riverside regular and had a stunning performance. At times she stole the show from the others and played her hilarious role with the best dead-pan face I’ve seen in some time.

Sister Mary Leo (Santina Umbach) did great dancing and singing. But she did even better playing opposite Sister Robert Anne in stirring up trouble.

So a big thank you to the cast, crew, and staff at the Riverside. I may not be a bishop, but this show gets my blessing. I will be making my Bye-Bye Birdie reservations soon as well as ordering our next season of tickets to a wonderful show.

PS – For those in the area of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and D.C., you seriously need to make the trip to see this show. Even if you suffer through 2 hours on the Beltway, you’ll see the light from these nuns.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Contest Winner gets the Schtick!-edited-




Is this it? Will this be the defining day? Will life change again next year?

[Don't bother asking what I'm talking about because I'm not ready to tell you.]

Other News

My in-laws will be visiting for Christmas soon. Not sure if I'm ready for my house to be invaded, but I'll survive. This weekend will be spent getting Christmas photos taken, attending -edited-, and going to the Riverside to watch Nunsense. And somewhere in there we need to find the time to measure the shed for insulation, wash the laundry, do the dishes, and clean the house. Oh the joy of home-ownership.

Contest Winner

Almost forgot about the winner of the contest I ran this month. There was none because I apparently have no blog readers that are not related to me. It feels good to be average. Maybe I'll get some traffic on my Holiday Movie Guide.

Oh, and the most popular video for November 2006?

I Ain't No Holla Back Girl with 316 views.

Followed closely by Shooting at the range 5 (294 views) and Seahawks Suck! (293 views).

The most downloaded videos were Shooting at the range 5 with 7 downloads followed by The pond at Bear Creek Inn 2 and METRA Train in Downers Grove, IL - full, each with 6 downloads.

The prize? Who the hell cares, you're not getting it now. Guess you got the schtick!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Holiday Movie Guide - Preview

Seeing as it's that time of year, I'm releasing my Holiday Movie Guide. Be sure to check out these classics (new and old) between now and Christmas Day. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Not Ranked
(in no particular order)
These movies haven't been ranked because I haven't watched them, don't own them, or haven't seen them in so long I don't remember them well enough. If you would like to see any of these added to the list, please feel free to contact me. I'd be more than happy to accept donations to purchase these titles.
The Grinch (2000)
Scrooged (1988)
ELF (2003)
The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
A Christmas Carol (all versions)
Home Alone 3 (1997)
Home Alone 4 (2002)

Honorable Mentions
(in chronological order)

Holiday Inn (1942)
This is supposedly the pre-cursor to White Christmas (seen below). I have yet to watch it, but I'm hoping it's decent. Bing can't be all that bad.

Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard 2 (1990)
I watched these movies so much I practically wore out my VHS tapes. Yippee ki ay.

Home Alone 2 (1992)
Not quite as good as the first one, but still a great laugh to watch. A bit too much of a moral in the story took away from the comedy.

Jingle All The Way (1996)
Never thought I'd include a Schwarzenegger movie in this list, but it's not a bad movie. And Sinbad and Phil Hartman do good at pumping up the audience. Plus Jake Lloyd would end up being the future Anakin Skywalker.

The Santa Clause 2 (2002)
A decent sequel to a good movie. The second movie in a trilogy usually falls flat, but this one does pretty good.

The Santa Clause 3 (2006)
Don't waste your money on a movie ticket. Wait for the DVD to land in the dollar bin on this one.

Stay tuned for the top ten coming soon!

Lost Seinfeld Episode

One of the funniest videos I've seen in a long time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Religion and Semantics

What is the difference between the freedom OF religion and the freedom FROM religion?

Last night I caught part of an NPR broadcast about religion and the one guest made a comment similar to this. And it got me wondering. What is the difference?


Example: Does the CIA have detention centers or concentration camps?

Detention centers sounds like jails or prisons. Something law breaking citizens are sent to under judicial due process. Concentration camps are where innocent citizens go for fighting against their government.

Back to the NPR show .....

Being a non-religious but Bible reading person, I found the difference in semantics interesting. We (in America) founded our country to escape the religious persecution in Europe. So we fought for freedom OF religion. We wanted to practice whatever religion we believed in without any government interference. Thus we have a separation of church and state in the US.

But apparently there are now people fighting for freedom FROM religion. People wanting the freedom to believe in nothing. While I didn't catch the details of the story/issue, it sounded like people in Europe were being forced into a government driven religious arena. They were forced to practice a religion.

Added to the thoughts of semantic differences, I also began to analyze where I fit in between the two. And I think that's exactly where I stand, in the middle.

I don't believe in God, but I pray to him. I read the Bible, but I feel it is a work of historical fiction. Something written and re-written over time so that it has become more myth and legend than fact. I believe in a "supreme power" just as much as I believe in aliens. But I don't believe that either have visited Earth.

Feel free to flame away on the issue, you won't change my mind. I believe in what I believe. I also believe in freedom OF and FROM religion. Everyone should have the right to believe what they believe without being told or forced into something unwillingly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Librarian Returns

And he's going to get those overdue books from you one way or the other.

I'm glad to see TNT is doing a sequel to the first movie. While it wasn't the best thing on TV, it was a decent show.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Part Four of Salvatore's Podcast

Here's the fourth installment of Bob's podcast via Mainly focuses on Drizzt and his 20th anniversary.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who would you invite to your Thanksgiving Dinner?

So on my way home I tend to daydream. A lot. So yesterday I began to ponder who I would invite to my dinner table for Thanksgiving. While I didn't have time to think of a complete list, I did get a few people down on paper (so to speak, i actually used my phone as a voice-recorder, after all, it's hard to write and drive).

So here's my invite list in no particular order. Feel free to add your own or come up with your own list.

Bertha Richard (pictured at left)

My grandmother on my Dad's side. She passed away in 1987 rather suddenly and, being a kid at the time, I never had the chance to ask a lot of questions. She was a great cook and, after she died, the family ended up eating a lot of pies from her freezer. So while I knew her, I didn't KNOW her. I've always wanted to know more about her. I would want her to cook the dinner.

Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart

These great actors would be our entertainment. I know there's a long list of female actors I could have included, but I had a difficult time narrowing it down. So I settled for these two. Maybe they could re-enact a scene from Harvey (with Grant being the rabbit of course).

Mr. Rogers (pictured at right)

I grew up with him on PBS and had the distinct opportunity to have him speak at my college graduation. It's hard to describe hundreds of students and their parents singing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" in a gym. But I'd really like to know if he was a sniper in Vietnam. And I'd like him to give the blessing.

Shakespeare and Socrates

These historical figures would be there simply for eye-candy. I've always wondered how they dressed.

Valentine Hollingsworth (signature is above)

This ancestor of mine helped William Penn settle America. From him I would like to get a perspective on what the trip was like and how hard it was to settle the land. I'd also like to know how life was (in Europe and over here) as a Quaker. He would put the "Thanks" in Thanksgiving.

Elaine Cunningham and Kurt R. A. Giambastiani

These two authors have struggled to "make it" despite their hard work and quality content. While they are published authors, they would "keep it real" at the table. Elaine has always been, in my eyes, a writer disguised as a mother. Kurt would provide a worldly point of view while being a typical PacNorWester (Pacific North Westerner).

George Phillips (far right, second row)

Another ancestor, this one my grandmother's (Bertha from above) father. He was a hard worker and homesteaded in Nebraska. But I'd really like to know if he killed his daughter Violet. If so, why and if not, who did? Quite a morbid discussion for the dinner table, but we all need a black sheep in the family, right?

Friends and Family

I'd of course invite all my friends and family. While that is quite a large number (all family, not many friends), it would be great to see everyone together, eating great food, and talking about everything.

Destiny's Way Review

Read my review here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dreams, Dresses, and Drills-edited-


Last night I had some bizarre dreams. I'm never sure if it's because of what I ate for dinner (left over pork chop, rice, and tuna salad with crackers) or things I saw during the day (car lift, people at work, phone calls, etc.).

Needless to say, last night was memorable. My brother-in-law had his foot crushed by his father. He dropped something on it (can't remember what now). Then there was the dream about the Phantom cars (as in Phantom was the type of car).



Here's Elizabeth sporting her new Christmas dress for the year. Took some doing to get her to pick one she liked, but when threatened that Mommy and Daddy will pick one if she doesn't, she's usually pretty fast.



Torn for the deaf-edited-

If I could only get away with this skit at -edited-.....

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Elaine talks religion

One of the blogs (Live Journal in this case) I follow is that of Elaine Cunningham. She's an author of fantasy, historical fiction, and essays, but I know her best as the writer-mom who speaks her mind.

And she displays this talent quite well in her recent post about religion. My favorite quote "Honey, at some point, it's ALL made up" sums it up quite nicely for me.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Video Contest Anyone?

In a futile attempt to increase my blog traffic, I'll be holding a contest to see which video gets the highest page views [rules and limitations below]. To help things along (especially for those that haven't seen any of my videos), I've included a little data for you to digest.

  • Month-to-date [as of 11/14/06] results for my top five videos and largest number of downloads are below.

  • My Praying Mantis video did well last month (soundly thumping both METRA videos combined).
  • New videos could be added to the mix at any time.

Here are the rules and limitations.

  1. Relatives are not eligible.
  2. Winner must reside in the United States,thus making it cheaper for me to mail your prize [this may be waived if I don't get much participation].
  3. Winner will receive a free Ford Mustang t-shirt (black in color).
  4. All contestants must choose two videos. One for the Most Page Views category and one for the Most Downloaded category.
  5. In the result of a tie (more than one person picking the video with the most page views), the tie breaker will be the video with the most downloads.
  6. Data will be collected using Google Video Reports on December 1st to determine the winning videos.

If all goes well, I'll have another contest next month. You can check out my videos HERE.

Survivorman Returns!

That's right folks, Les Stroud [seen above in his Costa Rica episode] will be returning to the small screen for Season 2 of Survivorman (due to air in February 2007). Destinations will include Australian Outback, African desert and bushland, the Amazon, the Alaskan coast, and northern Labrador. For those that haven't seen the show, this guy is the real deal. Not some fancy special forces wanna-be, he actually survives in the wild for a week. Alone. With nothing but his camera gear and a few trinkets. Watch and be amazed.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Please, Mrs. Johnston

Make it happen already!

There's only so much suspense I can handle.......please, please make them a couple.

This Weekend's Winners and Losers

The weather on Friday and Saturday was wonderful. Sunny, warm, and nearly 80 degrees.
The weather Sunday was cold and wet with temps in the 50s.

Spending time with Elizabeth on Friday. Lots of shopping and playing.
The mini-golf wasn't as much fun as I expected. Too much water and she flat out said she didn't like it.

Buying a G.I. Joe Paratrooper Duke (very much like the G.I. Joe figure, HALO, I had as a kid).
Yvonne making me wait until Christmas to open it.

Having dinner with my Dad on his 62nd birthday. It was nice to buy him a meal for a change. And the crab and shrimp were decent.
Hearing the story of how he broke up a (physical) fight between his mother and father when he was about 9. He pointed a 22 rifle at them.

Steelers win a game (finally) coming off a long streak of loses.
Polamalu gets a concussion early and sits out the game.

Les Stroud for creating and particiapting in a very realiztic survival show.
Man vs. Wild for putting a very un-realistic former special forces guy in very un-realistic scenarios.

Cleaning the gutters on a nice warm day (it was a short trip up the ladder and the leaves weren't that wet).
Forgetting to move the grill to a good winter spot inside the shed on the afrorementioned nice day. And only remembering it when it's cold, wet, and windy outside.

Watching Home Alone (a classic holiday movie) for the first time in many years.
Not being able to watch movies in the Spotsylvania Mall anymore (where I first saw Home Alone).

My comment/rant/question making the local paper about a local traffic nightmare.
My comment/rant/question getting edited from 2 pages to 2 paragraphs and running about a month too late to make sense.
Seeing another episode of Heroes tonight.
Needing to wait a few more hours to watch it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Faith Hill had faith in the wrong person

I don't follow country music, so I don't know how big of an upset this was. But the reaction was hilarious.

Traitor Review

I feel a bit guilty posting this review before I've finished the one I volunteered for. Guess I'll prioritize and get that one finished next.

Read my Traitor review here.

Third podcast for Salvatore

Still not the best production quality. And the content on this one is pretty obvious for those that have followed Bob online and in the news. We know Devil's Due bought the rights for Demon Wars. We know he's working with Schilling on Green Monster Games. We know the next video podcast will be the same quality.

Please guys, put a little extra love into the show. Give us some more.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006



Be prepared for some rambling and spoilers from last night's Heroes.


So, I was right that Niki isn't dead. That's good. And I guessed right that Micah has a special power (kind of reminds me of Anakin Skywalker). And of course it makes sense being the kid of two "hero" parents. And I was also glad to see that he (Micah) went off on his dad (DL) about helping people.

And Hiro, my favorite, once again saves the day. And he's now met quite a few of the heroes too. But I'm starting to worry that his friend is going to die.

And what was up with the guy on fire? A bit odd. Could he be the source of the nuclear explosion in NYC?

I was also glad to see that the Petrelli brothers had some sort of discussion about flying. Not the one I wanted, but at least it was something.

And this week's comic got me to thinking about the Easter Eggs. Yes, that's right, each graphic novel online has a hidden Easter Egg. Anyway, it got me to "micro-analyze" this week's novel for, well, I don't know, but I started looking for hidden meanings in everything.

What did I find? The license plate. Each reference shows something different. I think I'm going to go back and look

Coaching and Voting-edited-




Today is election day (in case you didn't know already). So this morning I headed to the local school to cast my vote. I was politely accosted by the local NJROTC crowd to buy some donuts. I politely refused. Twice.

The Democrats and Republicans were nice. Just a polite "hello" and "good morning." As I walked in to cast my vote, I asked to use the electronic machine instead of the paper ballot. They were a bit shocked, and as I learned a few minutes later, I was the first to use it. Nobody even used it in the primaries in 2004. For all i know, I'm the first to use it in the county.

Anyway, one of my old high school teachers (Mrs. Ashton) was there to help run the polls, and she set things up for me. She required some extra assistance as their training seemed to be sparse. The other lady knew what the deal was and gave me directions on what to do. Essentially they activated a card (just like you'd find in a DirecTV receiver) for me. I put that card in the voting machine, cast my votes, and took the card out. Done. They gave me some direction on what to do with the machine (which was self explanatory if you read the screen) then gave me privacy to vote.

For those that care, I voted a Democratic ticket (Webb and O'Donnell). I voted NO for the marriage amendment and YES for the second and third amendments.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Microsoft taking on Google?-edited-

So I'm reading up on my RSS feeds and find a little blurb about Microsoft's Local.Live site on my cousin's blog.

Interesting that I noticed the same thing that day. I was a bit too pre-occupied with looking at Charlie Batch's haunts to think much of the countdown clock. Why did I care about Batch? I'm a Steeler fan and my wife is from neighboring West Mifflin.

Will Google remain the champ? I don't know. I love the close-up shots on Local.Live (-edited-), but the regular sat images are dated (like this one with the golf course that has been removed for some time). Google does have better click functionality (double left to zoom in and double right to zoom out) and more current images. Plus the ability to see the same thing only better in Google Earth is great. But Local.Live lets you draw on the map and add to a collection.

Anyway, I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out more about this change.

Looks like I'm a bit ahead/behind the times. Microsoft has just rolled out their new mapping system. They have the hybrid (road and sat maps) option and 3D maps. -edited-

Walking in the footsteps of my father

This weekend I walked in the footsteps of my father. How, you might be ask?

Well, my parents divorced when I was about 2 years old. While many children (and their parents) have a difficult time with divorce, I was lucky enough to have two parents that cared more about me, than about their personal differences. To this day, they still talk to each other and remain friendly. I never knew what I had until heard stories of kids being dropped of at the local 7-Eleven to meet the other parent.

But I digress. My father raised me from the divorce through high school. I would spend summers (and sometimes a school year) with my mother. But my Dad was the one who get me ready for school everyday, took care of me, fed me, etc. Being a single, divorced, father of one couldn't have been easy.

But we survived. And I think we both came out stronger from the experience.

And this weekend I got a peek into what my father dealt with when I was a kid. Yvonne went off to a huge craft show in Richmond, so I got to spend the day with Elizabeth. While she normally goes to swim class Saturday mornings, I decided to take her into town instead. So we stopped for breakfast at our favorite place (Old Town Bar & Grill) where she devoured a pancake, a piece of toast, and some of my bacon. From there we went to the local Home Show at the Expo Center. She got a balloon and went potty, but that was about all the excitement we saw.

From there, we went shopping at the bookstore (where she picked up a Dora Christmas book), the toy store (where she picked out stuff for "Santa" to put on her "Christmas list"), and to the kitchen store (where we picked up an oven liner). Then we went to Best Buy (where she picked up a Ruby and Max DVD), lunch at McDonald's (we both got Happy Meals), and groceries at Wal-Mart. On the drive home, while she was napping, I got some gas and a chocolate shake from Carl's.

We came home and while she slept some more, I watched a movie and did the dishes. Then we headed out to dinner at Pizza Hut where "Bizzy have ssghettis and Daddy have pizza." On the way home we called Mommy, who was just about home herself.

So it was a busy day. And Sunday we went to see Santa Clause 3 (the three of us plus Dad). The movie was okay, but the previews for Deck The Halls made me laugh more. And Elizabeth sat still for about half the movie (better than expected) and went potty twice.

All in all, a great weekend. The only cloud we saw was the Steelers loosing Sunday and the fact that I need to clean the gutters out on the shed yet again.

Friday, November 03, 2006

-edited- and Home




Walking back from getting the paper this morning, I rather enjoyed the breeze (despite it being freezing cold). The sky was clear and the trees were waving around. The leaves were alive with color while in the last moments of their death. Quite moving.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Emmy Nominations

Revver (the host for some of my videos) has been nominated for an Emmy.

Hopefully this will drive more pageviews for them and more money for me.