Saturday, January 31, 2009

Evening with Brother

Tonight my brother came over and we spent the evening hanging out. After a great meal of roasted chicken and white cheddar mashed potatoes at Rock Bottom, my brother took care of my taxes for me. (The refund couldn't have been larger or come sooner.) With his help, I rearranged my living room to make it a bit more "company friendly." We then watched Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and played Guitar Hero: World Tour, taking turns on guitar, drums, and microphone. I even convinced him to stick around and watch the first episode of The Big Bang Theory.

He just left, and I'm off to bed. It's another late night in a week of later nights. I'm going to have a hell of a time waking up early enough to make it to the gym before the crowds (like 5 AM). I'll do my best. Still, I had a fun time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Best Buy Rewards Certificates = New Music

I'm so broke that I've actually gone out of my way to not spend any money that isn't completely necessary (i.e. paying bills).

However, I did have a couple of Rewards Zone certificates at Best Buy burning a hole in my wallet, so I picked up the new Hoobastank album, For(N)ever. I haven't played it enough yet to know what I really think. It does sound very similar to their other albums - which I do enjoy - but I'm not sure I hear any stand out tracks yet. However, I may have only listened to each song 2 or 3 times, and I was hardly paying attention at that time.

I'll let you know if anything jumps out at me. Still, it is always nice to get new music. I love having something playing in the background.

Lack of TV

This week hasn't been good for finding the time to watch my normal shows. I'm behind on House, 24, Fringe, The Mentalist, Top Chef, Lost, Smallville, Supernatural, and Hell's Kitchen.

Holy crap. I know I watch a lot of TV, but to simply have time to only watch DVR'd episodes of American Idol while working at home, means I'm either too busy, or that I watch too much TV. (I know the answer; but I don't care.)

I'll get caught up - eventually. Or I'll run out of room on the DVR. I am down to 30% available space for storage.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's Required of a Good Day

It's amazing how one day can be horrible and the next fantastic.

It only took an early start for a relaxed morning, a productive and enjoyable day at work, a killer bike ride, a little bit of Dropkick rockin' the iTunes, and the thought of talking with my girl in a few minutes.

I'm in a great mood.

Sure, I've still got my problems - they don't just disappear - but they're not with me at this moment. And that - folks - is what we call a good day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Horrible Mondays

There is nothing like the stress of sending off you last pennies to pay bills (and still being a couple hundred bucks short). I knew I needed to be looking for a second job, but now I have no choice. If I could only start tomorrow...

Oh, and I have a toothache - I maybe lost a bit of a filling? Freakin' hurts.

When it rains, it rains hammers.

A Retelling of the Star Wars Trilogy

This was kind of funny. It's a girl who hasn't really ever watched the original Star Wars trilogy, explaining what happened in all three movies in about three minutes. And of course, there's some hilarious animation to go along with the whole thing. It's well worth the view if you want a little chuckle.

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week of Stories - Jan. 25

Stories read this week from over at A Year of Stories, Pirate.

Monday: “Countdown” by Jonathan Maberry * * *
Tuesday: “Small Country” by Nick Hornby * * *
Wednesday: “Other Persons” by Juan Jose Millas * * * * *
Thursday: “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry * * * *
Friday: “A History of Everything...” by Jenny Hollowell * * * * *
Saturday: “Chivalry” by Neil Gaiman * * * *
Sunday: “Dolan’s Cadillac” by Stephen King * * * *

My favorite story of the week was: “A History of Everything, Including You”

From the review: “…each word has been thoughtfully – artfully – placed, packing each sentence with the power that makes this story so remarkable.

Week of Loss - Jan. 25

This week I lost 7.2 lbs., and am now within 51.8 lbs. of my goal weight.

Continue to monitor my progress and other health and wellness information over at A Year of Loss and Health, Pirate.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring Awakening

I went and saw the Tony award-winning musical, Spring Awakening, this afternoon at the Des Moines Civic Center. This was the second time in less than a year that I have enjoyed this musical. I first saw the show on Broadway in New York City over the summer, and thought it fantastic. The cast was great, the songs catchy, and the story had just the right mix of humor and tragedy to appeal to my tastes.

The national tour performance that I watched today was just about as great as my first experience with the show. The two main characters (Moritz and Melchoir) were played by the same actors from the Broadway show, and they were by far, the strongest singers in the cast. It's not that the others were bad - they were quite good, including the leading girl (Wendla) - but they just weren't as exciting in their supporting roles as the cast I saw in New York.

Still, this is one of my favorite musicals, and I'd happily see it again if I'm ever near another performance.

Not the Normal Friday

I had a great Friday night. Made a new friend. Had a good meal. Stayed up too late. All things I very rarely do, and yet this just reminds me of what you can miss out on when you simply stay at home with a book and the TV (no matter how good the book or show or movie).

Thursday, January 22, 2009

How Did People See?

How did people see before glasses were invented?

I went to the eye doctor today for my annual checkup, and this of course got me thinking about those poor unfortunates who must have struggled so hard to simply see what was right in front of their face long before corrective lenses were widely available. The greatest pleasures in my life come from using my eyes, whether reading a book or watching a movie, I probably rely on my sight more than any other of my senses. It would be a different life - blind - and I would struggle with that darkness.

I was told I need to change the way I wear my glasses and contacts. I need to spend more time in my glasses (which need a stronger prescription - especially in relation to my astigmatism) and wear the contacts for activities and social situations where reading and focusing my eyes is not as vital. I need to start wearing the glasses to work, and leave the contacts for those rare - but soon to be more frequent - moments of exercise and physical activity.

This won't be a problem. I'm not one who minds terribly wearing glasses. And if it helps me see better, clearer, and without so much strain on my eyes, I have no complaints.

The Awesomeness of Haircuts

When I'm rich - and I have high hopes - I'm going to get my hair cut every week. (Every day would be a bit too extreme.)

I love getting my hair cut. I don't know why, but I can't stop smiling after each hair cut. I feel like a million dollars. I feel awesome!

It's funny how something so simple - so very ordinary - can make such an impact on a person's mood. Just like how I feel somewhat "off" when I forget to wear my watch, or if I don't have everything in the proper pocket in my pants.

Weird. (And maybe it's just me that's weird.)

Movement on Preacher

After some anticipation, and then disappointment, last year when it was announced HBO might be developing the comic book series Preacher (my favorite comic series), there is once again movement in the development of this classic.

Earlier in the month director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road) stated that he was just waiting on a script before things could start rolling. According to Variety, that script is coming.

I don't want to get my hopes up too high - we've been at this point before - and how can you successfully adapt such a long series into a 2-3 hour film? For now, I'll just wait patiently.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I don't have much energy (sick) to write a lengthy post today, but I did come across this video of a dude who is awesome at the arcade version of Marble Madness. And if you've ever played Marble Madness, then you understand just how frustrating the game can be, and thus how impressive the video is.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration 2009

I'm not normally one who follows politics, or has any interest in watching "news-related" programming on TV. Today I did watch an hour - the important hour - of the Presidential Inauguration.

I don't believe I've ever heard Barack Obama speak (like I mentioned, I don't follow politics at all). He's a great public speaker, so much better than his predecessor. I was inspired by his speech (but then again, I'm easily inspired by well-crafted writing presented powerfully). It was hopeful and didn't ignore the problems we face as a country.

He mentioned a passage (from the bible?) about "giving up childish things" that sort of hit home for me. Do I focus too much of my attention on entertainment - something some would classify as childish and unnecessary - instead of more enlightened pursuits and practices? Could I be doing more with my time - and money - to help others and thereby myself?

Big questions for a entertainment pirate to ponder while nursing a worsening cold at bedtime on an extremely busy and stressing week.

I will say that I also enjoyed tremendously the performance by Yo Yo Ma, Itzak Perlman, Anthony McGill, and Gabriela Montero, of an arrangement by John Williams titled, "Air and Simple Gifts." The original poem, "Praise Song for the Day," read by author/poet Elizabeth Alexander, was also very good.

"Shiny Toy Gun" Video

As I was getting around for work this morning, I was happily surprised to come across Honeyhoney's music video for "Shiny Toy Gun" on VH1. This has been a top 5 song for me ever since I bought the album last year. There's something extremely catchy about this track.

The music video - a silent movie era western and vaudeville act - is directed by Keifer Sutherland. It's entertaining and fits well with the song. Sutherland even has a brief little cameo as an unhappy poker player.

Little Toy Gun - honeyhoney

I'm pleased to have yet another reason to write about Honeyhoney - one of my favorite bands of 2008.

Monday, January 19, 2009

TV I'm Lovin'

There just isn't enough time to write reviews for all the great TV shows I'm enjoying right now. Instead I thought I'd give you a list of the shows I'm watching both new and on DVD and DVR:

New -
Battlestar Galactica
(The final Cylon revealed! And the death of a regular!)
How I Met Your Mother
Big Bang Theory
American Idol
The Mentalist
Gary Unmarried
Top Chef

DVD and DVR -
Life (Season 2 on DVR)
Pushing Daisies (Season 2 on DVR)
Damages (Season 1 on DVD)

All of these shows (and I'm sure I'm missing one or two, or they just haven't started yet) wonder I have so little time. Still, I'm enjoying the heck out of all of them. (Damages is amazing. The ongoing mystery, the compelling story, the cinematography, the acting - perfect.)

JH Williams III

I came across the website for an extremely talented comic book artist today - JH Williams III. I've enjoyed this artist's work for quite a while now, and for some mysterious reason, never thought to check out his web presence.

The site is set up as a blog full of illustrations and examples of his work and process. There's not a lot to read, but the images are quite fantastic.

Click on over and see just another reason why it's so difficult for me to give up my habit of comic books.

(Above is his take on Batwoman for an upcoming DC Comics series.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Week of Loss - Jan. 18

This week I lost 3 lbs., and am now within 59 lbs. of my goal weight.

Continue to monitor my progress and other health and wellness information over at A Year of Loss and Health, Pirate.

Week of Stories - Jan. 18

Stories read this week from over at A Year of Stories, Pirate.

Monday: “The Sanctuary” by Bentley Little * *
Tuesday: “Trickster in a Suit of Lights” by Michael Chabon * * * * *
Wednesday: “Prey” by Richard Matheson * * *
Thursday: “Cat ‘N’ Mouse” by Steven Millhauser * * *
Friday: “It Was Romance” by Miranda July *
Saturday: “Untitled Story” by Robert E. Howard * *
Sunday: “Autopsy Room Four” by Stephen King * * *

My favorite story of the week was: “Trickster in a Suit of Lights”

From the review: “This is the essay that would have sparked this project if I hadn’t already stumbled upon the idea by chance or luck a month ago.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bad PB

I'm not the kind of person that needs to hear about things being recalled for two reasons: 1) I'm a bit paranoid about things, and 2) I'm not normally one to follow the news, so how would I know when things are safe again?

Apparently peanut butter is being recalled due to salmonella outbreaks and people sick and dying. I like peanut butter. I hope this clears up quickly, but I guess I have my diet to help me not indulge in a peanut butter binge. (I should freeze the Peanut Butter Cups I have in my pantry just in case there is never anymore safe peanut butter - but wait! - I got those things around Christmas-time, and this outbreak supposedly goes back to August and September...crap!).

Three Away

I'm only 3 episodes away from starting the final batch of episodes of Battlestar Galactica. The three episodes I watched today were fantastic. You can tell that things are winding down and heating up. If I didn't feel like I needed to get to sleep at a decent hour tonight, I'd probably just blow threw them now. Instead, I'll pass up seeing a third movie in the theaters this weekend (My Bloody Valentine 3D and Defiance) and watch these episodes then. Maybe I'll just go to sleep now so that tomorrow comes that much sooner.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Crank 2: High Voltage Trailer

Crank 2: High Voltage (April 17, 2009) looks to be even more absurd and madcap than the original - and that's saying something. However, I did find the first film quite funny and entertaining. This new trailer looks to be much more of the same, so I'm excited.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Trouble with Top Chef

The problem I have with watching Top Chef is that it makes me so hungry. Granted, the food they prepare - I wouldn't touch 90% of it - might not appeal to me, but somehow the process of cooking - the idea of great tasting food - makes the stomach start grumbling.

This is only my second season with the show, but I'm enjoying it and the cooks, almost as much as I did last season. (I've noticed that the first season of a reality show tends to stick with me as the best - the connection I make with the contestants that draws me to watch the show in the first place probably has a lot to do with it.) Right now my favorite contestants are Jamie, Jeff, Hosea, and Fabio. I also really enjoy the judges (the same reason I enjoyed Project Runway): food expert and author, Padma Lakshmi; renowned chef, Tom Colicchio; and new judge, British food critic, Toby Young. They're tough, and that makes the show interesting and fun.

So really, there is nothing wrong with Top Chef - just my pleading stomach.

Smallville & Supernatural Return

Television shows are starting to return with new episodes. Tonight both Smallville and Supernatural returned with great new episodes. It was a very entertaining night of TV.

Smallville continued its trend of superheroics and comic bookiness that has done wonders for the show this season. Tonight's episode, "Legion," brought superheroes from the 31st century back in time to help Clark defeat Braniac. As a comic reader, and fan of the Legion of Superheroes, this was a real treat. The little nods to fans are a big part of the appeal of this show for me, and with the more heroic season, the show is soaring once again.

Supernatural came back with a horror episode. What I enjoy so much about this show is that it deftly mixes the horror, supernatural, and comedy so well. Tonight's episode had its jumps and scares and witty one-liners (including a nicely placed reference to the film Juno) - and was scary enough that I talked myself out of taking the walk down the driveway to get my empty trash can in the dark. So I'm a scaredy-cat, what of it.

Earlier in the week saw the conclusion of 24's 2-part season premiere - and I was correct in my statement that things would be slow-building. Four hours into the day, and things finally starting to get interesting. It just took the reappearance of some of the show's regular cast members, and the placement of Jack in a squeeze, for things to start exploding.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw the return of American Idol. I'm of a mind to start a weekly Idol report, but my great lack of musical knowledge - and available free time - could stand in the way. At this point in the season we are still stuck with the initial auditions (my least favorite part of the series), so I can't do much but hope for a good season.

Oh, and Battlestar Galactica's final episodes start tomorrow night at 9PM on the Sci Fi channel. I still have some catching up to do before I can start watching them, but hopefully I'll find some time this weekend to do just that. And if you are in the same boat, you can catch a mini-marathon of the first episodes of the final season all day long tomorrow on the Sci Fi channel.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free Day Tomorrow

Looks like I have tomorrow free from work.

I'm going to try take advantage of the extra hours available to me and work around home. I'll also do some writing for the blogs, read (I'm thinking of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid, some Graveyard Book, and my stack of weekly comics), catch up on some TV (Top Chef, most definitely), and whatever else sounds like fun at that time. I'll just mix the work and entertainment together and have a rather relaxing day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Not Enough Time in a Day

There is not enough time to do the things I want to do in a day. After 13 days of my new "schedule," I'm feeling at a loss. There are so many things I'm not getting done that I want to do. And I'm rushing from thing to thing, always working. Granted, a lot of this work is work I want to do, and I don't mean to complain about the amount of work - just the lack of time in a day.

I feel that I'm just missing that one thing, that piece that will give me the minutes (hours) I need to accomplish everything. And I'm sure it's that elusive piece that we all search for - never find - and always moan about, but there's no harm in hoping it exists, out there, somewhere.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Not Rushing

There's something to be said for taking your time in the morning. All that rushing around, packing lunch and organizing materials for work, trying to get to work at a decent time - it's all so much nicer when you can do it at a relaxed and enjoyable pace.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week of Stories - Jan. 11

Stories read this week from over at A Year of Stories, Pirate.

Monday: “The Wedding Present” by Neil Gaiman * * * *
Tuesday: “Armageddon” by Fredric Brown * * *
Wednesday: “Ten Dimes” by Mike Toomey * *
Thursday: “This Person” by Miranda July * * * *
Friday: “The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds” by Gaiman * * *
Saturday: “The Shadows, Kith and Kin” by Joe R. Lansdale * * * *
Sunday: “The Gingerbread Girl” by Stephen King * * * * *

My favorite story of the week was: “The Gingerbread Girl”

From the review: “I know stories by Stephen King, and even I was surprised halfway through when things took a horrific turn.

Miscellaneous Thoughts - Jan. 11

It's such a nice feeling to finally have my place clean. You put something off for so long, and while it takes a good portion of your weekend to complete, it feels wonderful to have it completed.

Ran out of time to get a review posted for Gran Torino. This one may just have to slip away - even though it was a fantastic movie. Truly great and worth seeing. Also saw The Unborn, which was only so-so. Had a few scares and a decent enough story. If I find some free time this week I may get around to reviews for both.

Lost 4.8 lbs. in my first real week of dieting. It's always nice to start off with a big loss. It only gets more difficult from here.

24 started its seventh season tonight. I watched it and enjoyed it well enough. It usually takes the first handful of episodes to really get into the season. There is so much that needs to be set up across all the different on-going story lines, that the show simply needs the time to become wholly engaging. But, I liked it, don't get me wrong.

Today felt so rushed. I was up at 8:30 AM, but even now, at close to 10 PM, I feel as though the day slipped away from me. I know I accomplished enough, but there was so much more I wanted to do.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Saturday Night Live - NPH

Tonight's episode of Saturday Night Live - 10:30 PM on NBC - has the potential to be a great one. Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother; Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog) is hosting. He's a terrific comedic actor. Who knows, he may even sing.

I won't be staying up to watch, but it'll be on the DVR for another night, at a more reasonable time for me. I'm just not a night person, especially when I have such productive plans that involve me awaking early each morning.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Busy Night

Not going to write much here tonight - I've been busy posting replies to comments across the three blogs, reading my story and typing its review, doing some work, all after catching the new Eastwood movie, Gran Torino (review coming this weekend). I'm exhausted.

I'm going to turn in early so I can get up early to start my weekend of mucho work...all leading up to 24's 7th season premiere, Sunday night at 7PM (central) on Fox.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Cool Hands

I don't know why, but for the past few days, at the end of the night, my hands have been so cold. Like ice. And maybe my arms too, but it's hard to feel your arms to see if they are cold when your hands are cold.

It's only 63 in my house, but this is the first time I remember my hands being this cool while I've been inside. I may have to Google this tomorrow to see if something's wrong.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Not As Smart As A Third-Grader

At work today I was asked a question, as part of a game, that any third-grader (supposedly) would be able to answer:

What is the outermost layer of Earth's atmosphere called?


And boy, do I HATE not knowing the answer to a question. Especially a question an 8 year old should be able to answer.

But - honestly - did you know the answer before you went and Googled it?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Battlestar Galactica: Season 4 (DVD)

The first half of season 4 of Battlestar Galactica was released on DVD today. Best Buy and seem to have the best deal on the set.

I have 6 episodes to watch before next Friday, January 16th, when the final episodes of series begin on the Sci Fi channel. This is - by far - my favorite science fiction series on television, and one of my favorite shows of all time. It is that good, and I eagerly await the final episodes.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I Never Can't Sleep

It is the rare night when I don't lay my head upon my pillow and fall almost instantly asleep.

Last night I couldn't fall asleep for the life of me. I was worried about work, worried about missing my three alarm clocks, worried about finding additional income, worried about - geez - it seemed like everything. And I'm not much of a worrier, in general.

Needless to say, I'm tired. I can't wait until the routine returns to my life.

Oh, and I can tell now that if I want to do the things I resolved to do this year (blog daily, read daily, get healthy, stay on top of my work responsibilities, work a second job, write, etc.) I'm going to have not a single second to spare. I'll be measuring my time out by the grain.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Back to Work

Tomorrow I go back to work after over two weeks of vacation. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to get back into the routine of life.

Only, things have changed. Or, will be changing. The life I used to live needs updating. It's already started in small part, but the greatest changes are yet to come...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Not Cleaning

I find myself looking around my still unclean home and thinking: Crap. I have to clean tomorrow. Dishes are piled up on the kitchen counter, bookshelves are in disarray, laundry is scattered across the bedroom floor. The mess just continues to grow.

I did manage to - after months - watch two (The Wendell Baker Story and Human Nature, both so-so) of the three movies from Netflix sitting on my shelf, finish the series Undeclared on DVD, get within 5 episodes of finishing Pushing Daisies (great show cancelled before its time), finish this week's new comics (Superman #683 was exciting), and read some of this pretty intriguing new science fiction book I recently started (Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson). And I'll end the night in a bit by catching up on some episodes of How I Met Your Mother from my DVR.

It hasn't been a wasted day, just not a productively clean one.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I Dread Cleaning

I've put it off as long as I think I possibly can.

I have to clean my home tomorrow (and possibly Sunday - it's been that long). It's just so not fun. My goal is to wake up early - 5AM early - and just get started. I'll start with the bathrooms and work my way to dusting the bookshelves (all 13 of them). I have a feeling that even with an early start, this will take some time.

Still, it will be nice to start out the year in a shiny, clean home.

That reminds me. Only 2 more days of vacation and then it's back to work.

When it rains, it rains bricks.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Sunset

Here is a photo I took last night as the sun set for the last time in 2008.

I've had a fascination with photography for as long as I can remember. I'm sure it explains my love of movies and television, and I'm sure it came from seeing so much scenery pass by from the passenger seat of the traveling semi during my summers crossing the country with my dad, but whatever the reason, this may be the year where I take that interest and explore.

A shot from my front porch across the meadow.A bit blurry due to the weak zoom on my digital camera.

New for '09

First and foremost – this blog will be updated more frequently. 54 posts in 2008?! 42 of those in December! Unacceptable.

This is a journal of my life.
If I don’t record it, who will?

Updates – notice the new title logo? Yeah? It’s not the only change. Updated the profile image and information as well.

This is a journal of my life.
If it doesn’t look sweet, what does that say about superficial me?

NEW BLOGS – did he just say new blogs?! That’s correct! You now have 3 separate pages of pirate-y goodness to devour. Follow one, follow all – you can now follow the aspects of my life you find most interesting.

This is a journal of my life.
So is this: A Year of Stories, Pirate
And this too: A Year of Loss and Health, Pirate

Changes – more reviews, more creativity. While I’ll still offer up random slices of life and rants, I hope to include more thoughtful reviews of the entertainment media that brings me such joy. I also hope to add some sketching, photography, and of course, writing – that ART stuff – into my rather routine existence.

This is a journal of my life.
If I don’t entertain – you the reader and me in the least - what’s the point in posting.

Happy New Year!