Saturday, December 24, 2005

The true meaning of X-Mas

Dear friends.

I would like first to say Merry Christmas and what a wonderful time of year it is.

I'm sure by now you know the meaning of Christmas, (if you don't please pick up a copy of Merry Christmas Charlie Brown). But what of the meaning of X-Mas?

X-mas, commonly refered to as crossing Christ out of Christmas, isn't really that at all. You see the English "X" character is actualy the 3rd letter of the Greek alphabet Chi.

Chi is the first leter of the greek word "Christo" translated Christ.

Thus even though some of your secular friends may be using a shorthand and not acutually writing out the whole word "Christmas" Christ is still in that word.

And that is the true meaning of the word X-Mas

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe

I’ve been looking forward to this movie since I saw the first preview during the first midnight showing of Revenge of the Sith.

So promptly after finishing I am Charlotte Simmons, I picked up a boxed set of “The Chronicles of Narnia” in hopes of reading the book before seeing the movie. Mission accomplished as I finished the book about an hour before the first midnight showing.

The movie starts out with a rather graphic sequence of the carpet-bombing of London by during Nazis in World War II. Now for those of you not expecting any Saving Private Ryan type scenes here, fear not, this does move the plot along.

A great deal of the action in this film was a screenwriter’s embellishment of the C.S. Lewis’s original story unlike “The Lord Of The Rings” series of movies which were more or less direct translations of Tolkin’s novels.

The new sequences made directly for the film are done with a great deal of care and love for the C.S. Lewis’s intent in his writing. However modern filmmaking practices were implemented with the same care.

The “Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” is the most famous of the seven books that make up “The Chornicles of Narnia”. It is the story of four children: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy; who discover the gateway to a magical world in the back of an oak chest in the spare room of an old professor’s house.

Once they enter Narnia they are treated not as simple strangers in a foreign land, but sought as royalty after by the residents thereof. Quickly they find that they are the pivotal players in power struggle by the white which and Aslan (So now we have a Lion and a Witch to go with our Wardrobe! I love it when things come together nicely).

Providing the conflict is the evil witch. And that’s about her character, pure evil. She lies to Edmund to trick him into betraying his siblings, so she may maintain power. It is his redemption provided by Aslan that turns him and allows Edmund the chance to single handedly turn the tide of the battle himself.

This is the root of the Christian symbolism that was the basic intent of C.S. Lewis’s work. Aslan’s self-sacrifice even visually is reminiscent of “The Passion of the Christ” which fits since that is exactly the metaphor the book sought to make.

The big battle scene was more or less glossed over in the book, but is filmed quite like the war for Middle Earth in the recent Lord of the Rings films. I would also call this feat of cinema quite sterilized when compared to its older brother. The audience for this movie is younger than it’s older brother’s so Disney took the effort to create an epic battle without showing any blood. Nonetheless the action doe keep you gripped.

Overall the movie makes it’s point and is as good a film as it could have been given the brevity of the source material. The screenwriting was done well enough to provide more believable dialogue than in Lord of the Rings, though fans of the book will find the additional scenes added in to the movie a bit tedious.

This movie is perfect for anyone who has read the book, Families, and children not quite old enough for Lord of the Rings. Disney did well in staying true to the book and Liam Neeson’s voice talents were perfectly cast as Aslan.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Adventures of Andy in Los Angeles

Part I: Don’t believe the hype, getting there is NOT half the fun

Not sure exactly when the day started, I suppose you could say that at about 3:20 when’s courtesy call (FYI, I use the term “courtesy” loosely anytime before 8 AM) woke me up, and for some reason I thought it was my friend MEMO calling me. At this point the automatic lady on the other end was telling me that my 6:20 flight was on time a. I swear even an automated female can be a tease!

My alarm goes off at 4 AM promptly. My clothes for the day already laid out and in place, I jump toward the shower, do my morning ritual and pack the last of my things, which is simply a toothbrush and comb. Load up the car and it’s off to the airport. Now the TSA warns you that getting to the airport Two hours early is the proper timing. Columbus International at 5:00 am is not that busy. I think I could have gotten there by 5:30 an still made this flight… if it took off.

But by 5 I am already through security and surfing the web on the free wireless access in the airport and waiting for my flight. Oddly by 6 they had not started boarding. By 6:30 they explained that there was a problem with the de-icing mechanism and they would try again in another 30 minutes.

After an Hour of delay I approach the ticket counter and ask about my connecting flight in Houston. They said that they had me on a later flight out of Houston and I would be getting to LA about an hour later.

But the next test of the Houston bound aircraft was not successful. They call everyone with connecting flights to the ticket counter to re-ticket us for other flights. Now My 6:20 flight has become a 11:55 flight. To compensate me I got a coupon for another flight and a couple food vouchers.

Did I ever tell you I’m not a morning person.

Again, back to the free wireless internet and I spend some time doing my monthly budget for the rest of the year and then call my friends in and headed toward California.

Finally at 11:30 my flight for Houston boards. But it’s a small shuttle plane and we have to walk out on the tarmac to get to the vehicle. It’s cold and windy and I was sure that had I waited long enough I could have just been blown to Houston. At least I had 2 seats to myself, which provided me with a little napping space.

Houston wasn’t so bad, the skies were partly cloudy but it was definitely warmer. I’ve got about an hour to get across the airport so I take the monorail to my terminal and head to my gate. I get there just as boarding is about to commence and decline to purchase a souvenir shot glass as is my custom anytime I fly.

Once onboard I notice an odor, or was it a stench. It was foul whatever it was. Something like standing between the rows of port-a-johns at the state fair.

Unfortunately I thought it was just the sutartess standing next to me at the time but as I approached the back of the plane where my seat was it got worse. It was so bad that the Captain came back to ask if we could live with us.

“If it means getting there sooner we’ll live with it,” a man seated behind me said.

Sounds like somebody else had a delay today too.

Over the plane’s PA the captain announces that there is a plumbing problem in the rear lavatory. Speaking of which, why don’t they just call the bathroom what it is, a rest room? Or a toilet, or… well what’s with the fancy word they had to make up? Can’t you have a “crapper” on a vehicle that cost half a billion to build?

So the maintenance people come on to take a look and nothing gets done.

With apologies we take off another 30 minutes late. And how embarrassing it is for me to tell my friends why I’ll be late this time.

4:30 PST I finally land in LA. I’m going on 17 hours of being awake now, and I’m not happy.

I get my bags and my friends come to pick me up.

Welcome to LA!

Part II: A night in

Apparently the people who got to the golden state on time had a good time going out to lunch and doing whatever it was they were doing while I was smelling poop left over from the San Juan to Houston flight.

We stayed in and watched Anime (Golden Boy, Elfin Laid), and Dave Chapelle. My stomach was not right from missing meals all day so I turned down an In N’ Out Burger and fries. However my good humor was coming back as we all started giving our own DVD commentary on these strange but amusing Anime shows.

Around 2 am we turn in. I swear I must have power slept because I was rather awake the next day, and didn’t remember dreaming when I woke up.

Part III: The breakfast of champions

Opening ones house to another human being is one of the most hospitable things one can do for their fellow man. I am ever so grateful when someone does this for me. Therefore on Saturday morning I volunteered to cook breakfast. If you’ve never had my breakfast, I serve what is commonly known as an “Andy Sandwich.” Yes I am quite the renaissance man, well traveled, articulate, technical, and I can cook! How do I stay single?

The Andy Sandwich is a toasted bagel served with eggs (I had to do them scrambled this time because I had too many customers and not enough skillet space for fried eggs) American cheese and 3 strips of bacon. Now you might think I’ve stolen a recipe from Ronald McDonald. Well I did, but not for the Egg McMuffin. You see several years ago there was a sandwich called the McJordan Deluxe which was a burger promoted by his greatness Michael Jordan. What I found very interesting about this burger was that it was topped with steak sauce. And that is the final ingredient in the Andy Sandwich.

Four more satisfied customers!

Part IV: Goin’ to East LA

The best part of seeing another part of the country with people who live there is you get to experience it for what it really is. So in preparation for this afternoon’s party, MEMO needed to pick up the carne asada. So Hibi, Marshall and I go along for the ride.

Much like this blog MEMO can be easily distracted and drawn toward another topic. So we end up in a Mexican neighborhood in East LA for the purpose of genuine Mexican food: Tacos and Beer! Now you could get tacos and beer just about anyplace but this particular joint had a live mariachi band!

Photo coming soon!

Already running late we head to the Mexican grocery. The biggest difference between this grocery store and the ones in Ohio are that they cook the tortillas fresh at the bakery. They were still warm in the package when we bought them.

Seasoning, and a ton of beer later we’ve checked out and are on our way back to Santa Monica for the party.

Part V: Santa Monica House party

It may speak poorly to the potency of the punch that I was at a house party and can articulate everything I remember. Fear not, what you are about to read did happen, or at least probably happened. Some other stuff may have happened too but if called to testify in front of the Supreme Court this is all I have to say.

We arrived back at Jason’s house and I’m the first one into the living room. Under one arm, a case of beer and in my other hand the only evidence of why we were late (see the above photo at the Mexican restaurant), but nobody saw the evidence because as soon as I walked in Vivian’s eyes light up and she comes to greet me with a hug.

“I had no idea you were going to be here!”

Well of course not, I didn’t let anyone know for this very reason! Yeah, I like to make an entrance.

As I make my way through a crowd watching USC v. UCLA Cher hands me a glass of her now world famous punch (Cher, I need the recipe!). One sip and I declared, “This is potent!”

As I make my rounds, hugging girls, shaking hands with guys and vaguely aware there was a football game on (Much like the UCLA defense). On the back porch I open a beer and offer a toast.

“This toast is to all of you! As you know I was AWOL for a while earlier this year and though I neglected many of you this is a thank you to everyone here who accepted me back. Thank you.”

A bottle of Sake from Japan is opened, Midori, more beer… What, we’re out of punch? Oh good, Cher’s making more!

I could go into detail about a cute blonde girl form Indiana, but I think I’ll refrain until those incriminating photos show up online somewhere.

Kevin and I relive the story about the Princess House girls once again to the people who weren’t there when it happened. An hour later Steve is telling the story to Jason. I told you it was a legend!

More guests show up, including Tommy Yune who gives us a private preview of the new Robotech movie, and Greg Sigoff one of the voice actors.

I feel like I’m an insider now!

Marshall passed out around 1 AM and woke up wearing lipstick. Where are those incriminating photos when you need them?

I think we finally got to bed around 3.

I love LA!

Part VI: LA Sci-Fi and Comic Convention

Not much happened here. Marshall was pretty hung over the whole day and everyone else was pretty tired from the day before. The only thing I bought on the convention floor was a pack of Lost trading cards. I did get a photo of Billy Zane an that blonde babe from Terminator 3. I think they’re in a vampire movie together.

We stuck around for the Robotech panel where the voice actors from the new movie were answering questions and signing autographs. Tom had the great idea of having each of them read a passage of “The Night before Christmas” in the voices that they perform on screen. What a riot!

Between cell phone updates of the Steeler game (curses to the Bengals!), I got a series of autographs and several photos with new Robotech Hottie Chase Masterson! I’ll let those photos speak for themselves!

We’ll get to part VII in about an hour when you’re done drooling.

Part VII: Konichawa Bitches!

Those of us from the Midwest desired seafood for dinner and we ended up at a Sushi restaurant. Being rather uneducated in how to order raw fish I allowed Marshall to order and I ate at his discretion. Wow I swear that stuff cleansed me from the inside. I was like anew man the next day.

But during dinner there was a sake toast. To frinds? To good times? All good toasts, but what fit was something we had watched on the Dave Chapelle DVD on Friday.

“Konichawa Bitches”

And that summed it up!

I bet you never thought this Midwest boy would love sushi?

Part VIII: Getting home is also not half the fun, but at least it’s easier than getting there.

Monday morning already? You mean I have to start thinking about going home? Yuck! Is there enough time to look into setting up residence here in… oh right, real estate bubble!

But at sunny and 70, it’s hard to start thinking about the snow 20-degree weather I’ll be to which I’ll be returning.

Marshall and I mill about the house, make a little breakfast, shower, see off the other guys and girl before MEMO comes to pick us up.

Once again I get a courtesy call from Orbitz. You may want to sit down for this. Are you sitting? Okay, now remember I warned you.

My flight was delayed!


I look up online what’s up and the inbound aircraft was delayed. MEMO arrives with his wife and takes us to LAX. Hugs, goodbyes all around.

I approach the ticket counter and ask about the delay. The nice lady tells me that I have been rebooked on another carrier, but now going through Detroit. The flight takes off sooner but I have to walk all the way across LAX. This also means I don’t get a Houston shot glass.

LAX is a big airport and carrying my luggage, a leather jacket and my laptop was a bit difficult to take across the airport. But I get to the new terminal and get my bag checked. I’m almost there. All I have to do is get through security.

This is where I learn Murphy’s Law. Going through the metal detector I am asked to have a seat. I’m being randomly pulled for further screening.

Now, maybe I was loosing my red-stateness being in a Blue state for a few days but I’m a red blooded Midwest American boy. And yet the airline wanted to make sure I’m not a terrorist. Perhaps I should sell t-shirts outside of airports that read “I VOTE REPUBLICAN”

Then again, if you wear one of these shirts on a flight to Boston you may get strip-searched!

I do everything the man says and pick up my luggage and head to a souvenir stand for a Los Angeles shot glass. In the gift shop Marshall calls me and we’re actually only one gate apart. After my purchase we meet up and that’s the final goodbye of the day for me.

As soon as Marshall boards his flight I’m called for mine and despite seated by a grandmother headed back to Michigan from New Zeland and a Chinese lady who slept the whole time this was a rather uneventful flight.

In Detroit I land, call all my friends who are Michigan fans to let them know I’m visiting their favorite state. Nobody’s too excited for me. So I find my gate and have a turkey and bacon wrap at a sports bar.

I considered buying a souvenir shot glass here but decide that I’m better off not purchasing anything with the word “Michigan” on it. Now I feel dirty for using the name of that state up north.

My final leg home is only a thirty-three minute puddle jump south. I land at pretty much exactly when I originally expected to.

It’s cold. About sixteen degrees and there’s a layer of ice on my car.

I miss LA Already.

But at least I’m back in a red state.
Who am I kidding, I miss LA!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Legend of Kevin, the Princess House girls and Andy the Wingman

This adventure is more than an adventure; it is now a legend in Southern California. The story has been passed down for the past two years and is in some circles regarded simply as myth. I am here to tell you that the story is true.

In July of 2004 I was in Anaheim, California visiting friends who had gathered for Anime Expo. As the day’s festivities were winding down, our party found themselves at the bar of the Hilton.

But that’s not where this story begins. As the legend has been passed on to me from Kevin, who really is the central focus of this story.

As we, the anime fans, were enjoying our time at our convention, the Princess House girls were also having their convention in other parts of the same hotel. Princess House, is kind of like Avon and Pampered Chef combined. It has something to do with selling house wares to housewives from housewives. Why these people can’t just go to Target like the rest of us I don’t know?

Now you have a little background let’s delve into the psychology of the situation. You first have the Anme fans. Currently on the fringe of pop culture but connected, mobile and young. Fortunately many of these people were too young for the hotel bar, so that leave the adults and the princess house girls here tonight.

The Princess house girls are a bunch of women, mostly homemakers, who are under the impression that selling items for a large company is on a par with running your own business. Congratulations, you’re in sales. But this sales job has a perk, a convention in July in Southern California. Now think about this, you have a hotel full of women away from their husbands, children and easy access to much alcohol. This is where Kevin comes in.

Kevin really is a great guy… could use a pair of dark socks, but otherwise a pleasure to be around. At some point during this weekend he meets a princess house girl. From his recollection, she makes the first move and approaches him. Oh, Kevin is the type of guy who subscribes to the philosophy “The older the berry the sweeter the wine.” He really likes soccer moms too! Unfortunately for Kevin he had to be somewhere before he could get to know this object of his affection.

Back to the bar. Really, I’m going somewhere with all this. As we have congregated at the hotel bar and everybody is happy, drinking and enjoying the company of each other, Kevin shows up and almost ignores us because who should he see, but the jewel of his eye… well for tonight at least. Kevin leaves us, walks over to her table and buys this woman… oh I don’t know her name, but let’s call her “Beth” (I’d say that the names have been changed to protect the guilty, but I really do forget the women’s names, and therefore don’t know if I’m changing them, or just recalling buried memories).

Meanwhile I’m goofing off with all my friends at the bar and somebody notices that Kevin has not one, but two of the Princess House girls over there.

“Man, somebody should go over there and help him out”

“Andy, go over there and talk to the other girl!”

“Why me?… fine, here, hold my camera”

And a legend is born!

I de-nerdify quickly, and use button up my over shirt so as to look less like a sci-fi nerd and more like a guy just chilling in So.Cal.

Casually I walk over, “Kevin, how you doing?” I say while holding out my hand.

Kevin shakes my hand but gets a look of nervousness not knowing what I’m up to. “Hi, Andy, um… you don’t need to be here right now.”

I give him a nod and a wink and sit in the chair next to the other woman. Let’s call her “Michelle”

And as Steve tells it when he passes on the legend it, “From a cold start Andy goes over there and just starts talking to this girl.”

Now a little background. I typically fly solo. No wingman; and it’s very difficult to break into a conversation of 3-5 females. Therefore when there is one, and Kevin is already working his mojo with her friend, I am free to do my thing.

So we continue the small talk routine for a while and the bar closes. Fortunately there’s an after-party on the pool level with the Princess House girls. Kevin and I get invited to join.

This totally changes the dynamics of the situation. Now, instead of just one girl I’ve got an audience of about 15 people, not just women. Now the men were probably gay. Let’s face it in a business marketed towards single women they’re more likely to have gay salespeople. Why? Well these homemakers are probably already married and know better than to trust a strait man!

But the most important detail that came of our migration to the pool area was that now Kevin and Beth are seated several yards away at a secluded little table by themselves. But I decide to stick around a little longer. I’ve got an audience, and a table full of liquor, so I start playing the role of bartender and dirty joke teller… Ask me about the couple flying to Dallas sometime.

I entertain, I get people drunk and I’ve got Kevin alone with some chick he just met this week.

After the party gets going pretty well I sneak out and into the shadows. My work here is done.

So I head up to the girls’ hotel room to get my camera and give them the skinny on what all went down to this point. I was congratulated on my efforts and being a real guy tonight.

You see I left for a few reasons. First off I thought there was a girl from my convention I had a chance with and didn’t want to trade a bird in the hand for two in the bush… turns out I was empty-handed all along. Secondly she was married or separated or something and I had some amount of moral objection to following through with this.

The next morning Kevin is harassed for his exploits (not that he would ever incriminate himself with the details of whatever else went on, but I invite you to use your imagination and feel free to include any farm animals, circus freaks, or road high-rise construction equipment in your fantasy).

Now you’re probably saying, legend? What legend? Yeah impressive somewhat that you can cold start a conversation with a strange woman; a nice thin to do for your friend, but not quite legendary.

But there is a final part to this story. One which I will probably not be done justice in writing as the oral tradition demands. But I will do it anyway.

Kevin tells the story the next morning at breakfast. After I had left, an unknown amount of time had passed and Michelle comes over to Kevin and Beth’s table.

“Where did Andy go?”

And that is the legend of Kevin, the Princess House girls and Andy the wingman.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The Adventures of Andy in Northern Illonis

Why is Andy in northern Illinois? Well my company sent me here for 2 days to learn the software I will soon be supporting?

But, Andy, isn't Chicago in Northern Illinois? Shouldn't you be out crashing police cars like in "The Blues Brothers?" Actually I'm about 25 miles north of Chicago. Where there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO!!!

Seriously, I went to a bar for dinner, and it looks like Kerokie is the big entertainment tonight. Given the last time I was at a kerokie bar, it's been almost six years now, I did't stick around. You see that last time I didn't know it was a kerokie bar. And it wasn't just a kerokie bar, it was a bad kerokie bar. And it wasn't just a bad kerokie bar, it was a bad COUNTRY kerokie bar. And it was't just a bad country kerokie bar it was a bad OLD country kerokie bar.

But by the time I realized this I had made eye contact with the bartender and felt bad waking out so I sat down and had a beer... or four.

Long story short, I end up talking to this very pretty blonde, and the middle aged women 3 seats down interrupts us to tell her "If you ever have the chance to make love to a fifty-year-old man do it! It'll be the best sex you've ever had!" This did not help the then twenty-two-year-old me in any way (22 years to go and counting).

But that's an adventure for another time.

So today I got up at 5:30 to make a 7:50 flight. That was the easy part. However construction all over O'Hare airport kept me from finding the Hertz rental office. After 30 minutes of wandering around I got on a bus marked "Hertz" and ended up with a cute little Mazda 6. Zoom Zoom Zoom! Lots of pickup, but I was little bummed when the car didn’t have satellite radio like the display in their office said.

So far that's been the best part of this trip. The car also helped me when I got lost twice on my way to the office. Somehow in the little sports sedan it was more bearable.

So by 10:30 Cenral I'm where I need to be. I sit in a couple cubicles and learn this software yadda... yadda... yadda....

Back to the hotel for a long overdue nap, change of clothes and dinner. I found a little bar and grille for dinner. Since I'm expensing everything I had the lobster and Steak dinner. Too much food but it's so flipping cold here I need to put on an extra layer of fat. I might have been more inclined to stay at the bar for a while, make some friends near the Wisconsin border but we've been over my opinions on kerokie already.

Why couldn't my company have an office somewhere more interesting, or at least somewhere warmer!?

So that last beer is going to make it just a little too hard to focus on "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" so I think I'll just watch a little John Stewart and head to bed...

Part 2 tomorrow... or whenever I get around to it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

In The News

The Adventures of Andy Presents:
In The News

Paris Hilton in Car Accident
Paris Hilton was in a car accident on Wednesday. Don’t worry the heiress was not injured. Fortunately, in the nick of time, her airhead deployed!

Narnia Advertising Picks up
Advertising for the upcoming movie “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” has gone into full swing. But have you noticed that the commercials only show the Lion? I think it’s because the Lion has a better agent. The Witch and the Wardrobe are both represented by Drew Rosenhaus who is having them hold out for more money.

sorry for the short blog this week... the days are shorter and my attention span is waingng

Monday, November 14, 2005

What Ever Happened to Mr. Sippi?

There's a Missis Sippi, what ever happened to Mister Sippi?

I think Louisiana had something to do with it. You know her reputation, especially around New Orleans. What if he took a dip in Lake Pontchartrain. Then Mrs. Sippi finds out and before you know about it she's talking to Texas.

Texas offers Mrs. Sippi a gun because even though he's got a thing going on with Oklahoma, but everybody knows it's just sham.

So one night Mr. Sippi is put out of the way. And of course nobody says a thing. Especially not Tennessee. Sure he knows but he's not going to say anything. Especially not to Kentucky who would do the same to him if she ever had the chance, that backstabbing bitch!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Building a better prequel: Episode II

Continuing on my series of re-writing the Star Wars saga brings us to episode II. The clone wars have begun, THe Jedi council believes that Count Dooku and Darth Maul are working together, not realizing they are one in the same and the greater threat comes from the chancelor's chamber.

Star Wars Episode II:The Clone Wars

Opening crawl:
WAR! Throughout the galaxy the clone wars rage on. Believing that Senator Palpatine has made great efforts to save the republic the senate has elected him Chancellor and granted him special powers in this time of war.

Padme Amadala has filled the senate seat vacated by Palpatine. Meanwhile the Jedi lead clone armies around the galaxy trying to defend the Republic from separatist attacks.

The war effort is not going well.
Senator Padme’s diplomatic ship is escorted to Coroscant by a squadron of clone fighters. She is greeted at the senate building by Chancellor Palpatine who regrets to hear that her inauguration ceremonies on Naboo had to be cut short due to an assignation attempt.

Padme reassures the chancellor that no assassin will stop her from serving the Republic. No sooner are their words exchanged when blaster shots break out . A firefight ensues with clone troops giving chase into the streets. Chancellor palpatine pledges to assign a Jedi security guard to her.

On a remote planet Obi-Wan and Anakin are in the final stages of a battle. The leandspeeder chase with Durge is almost over and once he is defeated the clone troops retake the planet for the Republic.

Anakin: This battle was meaningless. We should be involved on the front lines.
Obi-wan: Patience young one. Every battle has its purpose.

Mace Windu asks for Obi-Wan’s report and calls him back to Coroscant.

Upon their return home Obi-Wan and Anakin arrive at Padme’s quarters and Anakin is love struck. Innocent complements from Padme are taken very seriously by the padawan and his determination to stop the assassin grows. That night the assassin returns to try again. This time with the poison slugs. Anakin and Obi-wan chase Zam Wesell and Once she is captured by local clone police a member of her gang blasts the officers killing Zam.

With local authorities searching for the assassin gang Palpatine orders Padme to seek refuge until Courscant is safe again. He assures her that in her absence he will personally see that the interests of Naboo are guarded in the Senate. He asks Anakin to escort and protect the senator.

The Jedi council aggress to their request and give Anakin the rank of Jedi Knight at the request of Obi-wan despite his previous acts of insubordination and impatience. Obi-Wan convinces the council to trust Anakin.

Anakin is knighted and his braid is removed and his pony tail is let to flow free.

Before leaving, Padme points out that Kamino has had little participation in the Senate despite providing the republic’s military forces. Mace asks Obi-wan to travel to Kamino to find out more about these mysterious new members of the Republic.

Obi-wan learns that the clones were ordered by Master Sypho-Dias several years before the Clone Wars started. He also meets the clone original: Jango Fett whom he recognizes as part of Zam Wesell’s gang. Obi-wan reports back to Yoda then follows Fett.

Padme and Anakin travel together on a starship trying to avoid conflict. They have long intimate conversations and Anakin tells of his dreams about his mother and that he misses Tatooine. Padme sets course for the desert planet that the war has avoided. There they track down Shimi Skywaker but she ahs been taken captive by the Sand People. Anakin hunts them and kills the sandpeople.

Qui-Gon: Anakin NO!

Anakin returns to the Larz home and mourns his mother. Owen overhears him tell padme about killing a tribe of sandpeople and is disgusted.

Stealthy Obi-wan follows Fett to Geonosis. There he sees Fett in Conference with Count Dooku and he sees who is behind the assignation attempts. He attempts to report back but is surrounded by droids and captured.

Anakin senses his master is in danger. He contacts the Jedi Council and finds out where Obi-wan was heading then sets course there. Padme refuses to stay behind as she has fallen for the young Jedi. Yoda senses a major battle in the war ahead and Mace Windu rounds up as many Jedi as possible.

Obi-wan is tortured by Dooku who revelas himself to be Darth Maul and a mimic of Master Dypho-Dias (whom he killed several years earlier) He tells Obi-wan that the sith presence is far more powerful than he realizes.

Anakin and Padme attempt a rescue disobeying Mace Windu’s orders to wait for help. They are both captured.

Obi-Wan Padme and Anakin are brought to the arena for killing. As they are tied up Anakin and Padme pledge their love for each other.

Mace Windu arrives and holds Dooku at ligthtsaber point. A droid army pours into the arena and a giant battle takes place. Yoda arrives with clone reinforcements.

C3-P0 (who stays on the ship this time) and R2-D2 use their ship to cut off Dooku’s first point of escape. He then fleas across the desert. Anakin and Obi-Wan give chase and battle Dooku/Maul. Both are defeated and Anakin’s hand is cut off. Yoda comes to the rescue and maul escapes.

Clone forces destroy the major separatist’s resources and the tide of the war has turned in favor of the republic.

Obi-Wan reveals the true nature of Maul and Dooku and the secret origin of the clone army and their connection to the separatists.

Anakin and Padme are secretly married on Naboo

Darth Maul arrives on Couroscant and Darth Sideous tells him that things are going better than expected and that he should focus his efforts on his new assignment: the abduction of Chancellor Palpatine.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Book Review: I Am Charlotte Simmons

I know I don't do many book reviews. The simple reason is it takes me a lot longer to get through a 700 page book than a two and a half hour movie.

So here goes...

I Am Charlotte Simmons
by Tom Wolfe

Tom Wolfe’s latest tome, “I Am Charlotte Simmons” Is the story of college life like you’ve never seen it… unless you’ve been there.

As suggested by the title the story revolves around Charlotte Simmons, an extremely bright young lady from the mountains of North Carolina. She is fluent in French, having the ability to start her college career in 300 level neuroscience classes and an intellectual curiosity that is at the heart the purest of intentions of higher education. Despite these qualities she is quite naïve as to the social habits of college students. And that is the central focus of the conflict of the story.

Charlotte enters the fictitious Dupont University. A school with an academic reputation rivaling those schools in the Ivy League, Stanford or Notre Dame, but also with a national championship basketball program and a football tailgating atmosphere that you’d find a most Big Ten schools. A collage of college experiences if you will.

Charlotte has much difficulty in accepting these college experiences. From her first night in the dorm she is appalled by the rampant drinking, and is scared to death of sex. Those fears later justified as her life begins a downward spiral when she loses her virginity in a less than desirable way.

Complementing the overall theme of the book is a sub plot about the struggle between academics and athletics. A star (white) athlete who is about to loose his starting position on the championship basketball team to a (black) freshman struggles with the fact that this may be all he ever is. Inspired by Charlotte’s academic purity of heart he peruses academics somewhat seriously, instead of taking fluff classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible in the eyes of the NCAA. Her inspiration comes just a moment too late as a history professor accuses the basketball star of plagiarism and an investigation ensues.

As Wolfe takes us to college through the pure eyes of Charlotte Simmons we see the university life contrasts itself with the way it should be. Wolfe goes into great detail explaining the language of these so called aspiring intellectuals. Their liberal use of F-bombs, the rampant sarcasm (quantitatively broken down into three levels defined as SARC-1, 2 or 3), and a series of euphemisms and metaphors that, despite their crudeness, in execution are quite creative.

The honesty of the novel continues with the description of its characters. The style-over-substance frat boy; the militant feminist who has nothing in practice to be militant about; the jock in an institution for learning yet knows nothing; and the academic elites who’s academic honesty stops at their political ideology; and the geek who’s academic interest is equaled only to his jealousy of those who traded learning for popularity.

Charlotte however is a metaphor. She represents intelligence, the fundamental mission of college. It is those around her that represent the flaws of academia and those in it’s ranks.

  • Hoyt Thorpe, the popular partying fraternity guy. For all he has to offer Charlotte, the school and what they have to offer him in turn, he turns down for the next beer kegger.
  • Beverly, Gloria and a host of other boarding-school educated sorority girls who seem more interested in boys than books (insert “Mrs. Degree” joke here).
  • Benitta and Mimi, the so-called friends of Charlotte, they are definitely looking for the “Mrs. Degree” and they need to climb the social ladder of the college in order to do that. Even if it means gossiping and backstabbing each other to do it.
  • Adam Gellen, the nerd. He loves Charlotte; he really truly does, but is angry at the world and all those who have kept him in such a humble position in life. His love in the purest sense is put on hold when revenge presets itself.
  • Jojo Johanson is the athlete who is rather unaware of the academic institution, save the co-eds most of whom are on their backs at the mere mention of his name. However it is his introduction to Charlotte, and the rest of the intellectual environment that reforms him.

The flaws of each of the characters are expressed by the way they use Charlotte and abuse her good nature and also the way they abuse the academic opportunity in front of them. By the end of the novel it is easy to see how much better off they would be if the focus of college life was not the parties, the football games, the fraternity formals and the opportunity for sex at every turn. Charlotte experiences these things, and once she overcomes them, she is stronger for it. Everyone else finds themselves in the same place they started. Only those with Charlotte’s fortitude move toward real success.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Building a better prequil: Episode I

I don't nomrally run to my favorite video store on the day of a DVD release (in thi case Wal*Mart for the bonus DVD "The Story of Star Wars"), but this week I made an exception for my beloved Star Wars. Now back when this film was released in theatres I went to the midnight showing... No I did't dress up! But I did come to the conclusion that there were some things about Episode I and II that if changed would have made the prequil trilloy much better. Therefore I give you my updated versions of the Episodes I and II.

Star Wars: Episode I Twilight of the Republic

Rewrite May 2005
Andrew Zoric

Opening Crawl:
The longstanding peace in the GALACTIC REPUBLIC has been shaken. A separatist movement along the outer rim has many systems to suceeding from the Republic. A major inroad to the core systems has been breached with the peaceful world of NABOO being the next target of the separatists.
With his popularity waning and the pressures of galactic civil war looming CHANCELOR VALORUM has sent two Jedi Knights as a last effort to negotiate peace.
Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi land on Naboo surprised to find that there is no chaos and life is going on as normal, despite the political pressure pulling the planet in both directions.

King Amadalla meets with the Jedi and reassures them that the move to separate from the republic is a peaceful one. He introduces the Jedi to the leader of the separatists, a diplomat named Count Dooku.

Padme approaches Obi-Wan, “Help me, Obi-Wan, you’re my only hope…” She says that Dooku is not what he seems and he is somehow controlling her father’s actions.

Dooku smooth talks Qui-Gon and he agrees to report back to the Jedi Council about both sides of the issue.

Padme joins the Jedi on their return to Couroscant. Dooku then uses Jedi mind powers to convince King Amadalla that his daughter has been kidnapped and to order his militia to destroy their transport. A fight begins and the fugitives narrowly escape to Tatooine, a neutral world of little value to either side of the galactic political structure. In their quest for spare parts the 3 come into the company of young Anakin Skywalker (Played by a slightly older Haley Joel Osment). As it turns out the Jedi and Padme must place their fate in the hands of the young podracer.

Knowing of their narrow escape Dooku tracks the Jedi to Tatooine and with a squadron of droids he attacks the group as Darth Maul. Qui-Gon recognized Maul as something he sensed on Naboo.

Next Stop Couroscant.

Padme meets with Senator Palpatine who urges her, as a member of the royal family to help him convince the senate that the separatist movement is a great threat and that he has negotiated with the world of Kamino who has a clone army at their disposal. They are willing to aide the Republic if the senate would accept them for membership in the Republic.

Meanwhile a report is made to the Jedi Council. Disturbing that the Sith are working against the Republic. The council mistakenly concludes that Dooku is the master of Darth Maul. Anakin is also introduced to the Jedi Council. His training is denied, but Qui-Gon takes him as his ward.

When word of what has happened in the senate reaches Qui-Gon he and his 3 companions (plus 2 droids) re-board their starship to once again for Naboo.
Obi-Wan: Master, we weren’t authorized to re-enter negations.
Qui-Gon: If we can avert a galactic war then we will be saving millions of lives. The Council does not need to authorize that. It is to the benefit of the living Force.

Upon arrival, Padme Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon sneak back into the palace of Theed. Stealth is necessary as droid armies have amassed in the countryside.

Anakin stays with the ship. Upon realizing the trap that has been set he takes off and starts a one-man campaign against the droid armies, displaying superior fighter skill.

Inside Padme approaches her father with Obi-Wan as Qui-Gon seeks out Dooku. Dooku then reveals himself to be Darth Maul which surprised Qui-Gon. An epic Lightsaber battle begins.

Anakin is overwhelmed by the sheer number of droid fighters until clone re-enforcements arrive. An all out battle in the skies above Naboo and around the capitol city takes place.

Anakin joins a squad of clone fighters and attacks the central orbiting satellite.

Obi-wan senses his master is in danger and runs to his aide. He sees Qui-Gon fighting Maul but cannot help. Qui-Gon is killed and Maul escapes. Qui-Gon asks Obi-Wan to train Anakin in his dying breath, instead of telling about the Dooku/Maul connection.

Naboo is saved.
Yoda: The first casualty, Master Qui-Gon is, of these Clone wars.
Mace Windu: And about this Dark Jedi working with Dooku?
Yoda: Always two there are, a master and an aprentice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blogging about... bloggging

So my good friend John forwarded some humor to me today, that turns out to be somewhat self deprecating.

Since that's my specialty in the humor department here it is, from the DNRC newsletter:

People who are trying to decide whether to create a blog or not go through athought process much like this:

  1. The world sure needs more of ME.
  2. Maybe I'll shout more often so that people nearby can experience thejoy of knowing my thoughts.
  3. No, wait, shouting looks too crazy.
  4. I know - I'll write down my daily thoughts and badger people to readthem.
  5. If only there was a description for this process that doesn't involvethe words egomaniac or unnecessary.
  6. What? It's called a blog? I'm there!

And also from the same source:

Dogbert's New Ruling Class boasts 475,000 members. Each of you is
sointelligently designed that you can survive a Category 5 hurricane via
aprocess known as running away.

Wow, a whole post without using the word "Pimpmobile"!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Dear Mr. Pimpmobile, thanks for the memories.


What is Big Brother without Goldstien? Or Superman without Lex Luthor? Huey Lewis without The News?

What is Andy without Mr. Pimpmobile?

Probably better off than Huey Lewis without The News!

I came home from church later than I expected yesterday. I had forgotten the date of the harvest festival, for which I was supposedly in charge of a pumpkin carving contest. Fortunately bad weather and everybody else’s poor planning was on my side so the harvest festival was canceled and we roasted hotdogs on in the fireplace in the back of the church.

Now I was a little anxious as I was blackening wieners over hot coals (Boy does that sound like the punch line to a dirty joke) because the longer I stayed the more of the Steelers Bengals game I missed. And with the Steelers on regular tv, I needed to use my perfect Steeler setup to watch the game properly as Steeler fans should.

But I didn’t immediately jump out of my car and into my condo to set up all the proper electronics for the game. I took a lap around the parking lot because there was a moving van in front of Mr. Pimpmobile’s house.

Now I’m really not a jerk to this guy, but he thinks I’m a jerk. And people typically ascribe attributes of themselves to people they don’t know very well when describing them. So Mr. P. had parked the U-haul diagonally across three parking spaces in order to not be in my space. What was I going to do? Have him evicted?

Believe me I’d have quite willingly parked someplace else to provide easier access for him and his moving van.

It’s not that I wasn’t willing to help, it’s that… well I doubt my help would have been welcomed. (see the note abut being a jerk above) So I stayed in and watched the Steelers make a statement to the AFC North. Normally I get annoyed with the banging, stair stomping and door slamming that has come from next door for the past 2 years. But this day, it was music. They were loading the U-haul.

I sat through 2 loadings of that vehicle and a 37 – 13 win for Pittsburgh. It was a very good day.

Now no story is complete without a second act in which our protagonist (me) is in danger of not coming out triumphantly. This story has such a part. Upon getting ready for bed I looked out my office window to see the Pimpmobile and Mrs. Pimpmobile’s Sebring in their normal parking spots.

I’m not sure why people would load a U-haul at least twice in one day then spend the night in the emptier of two dwellings. Yet it would be one more night with these neighbors.

I got up for work the next day and took what would likely be my last gaze upon the Pimpmobile. For when I came home from work today, I was greeted by a pile of trash in the alley behind the condos.

Yep, that’s all that’s left of Mr. Pimpmobile... well that and one very oily parking space.

As you can see there is a child’s bicycle. I took that out of the pile and I’ll be giving that to my church in hopes of a deserving child getting the best end of that deal. Also those look like the original seats of the pimpmobile (I recently noticed they were replaced by black leather seats embroidered with flames).

Well, This is probably the last post for Mr. Pimpmobile. Thanks for the memories. We hardly knew ye…

Saturday, October 22, 2005

In The News...

I've been sitting on some prime comedy for a while... so here it is...

In The News

John Roberts confirmed as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

You know, I was watching his confirmation and noticed something. Roberts looks a hell of a lot like Ohio State football coach, Jim Tressel.

Now with Harriett Meiers as the next judicial nominee there’s a lot of conservatives upset with the nomination. Let me make the case for Jim Tressel… beyond looks. He is a conservative. I can prove this by the way he constantly sticks to the run despite having two of the best wide receivers in college football.

Justice Tressel? Sure I think it could work… but I don’t know if they’d let him wear the sweater vest over his robes!

Minnesota Vikings Sex Scandal.

Reportedly several Minnesota Viking football players were involved in a sex party involving hookers. Now how bad of a season are Vikings having when they have to start paying women for sex? Of course by this logic a brothel is a good investment in any NFC North city!

No word on if quarterback Dante Cullpepper was involved. But I doubt it since he hasn’t been able to find a receiver all season!

Weatherman blames Japan for Katrina.

An Idaho weatherman is putting forth the theory that a large electromagnetic device was used by the Japanese mafia to cause Hurricane Katrina in retaliation for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

If this is the kind of technology they’re working on in Japan then Sony’s Playstation 3 is going to kick some SERIOUS ASS!

It’s about time I mentioned Birttany Spears’ baby But is it really news when an uneducated 20-something boozer who’s somewhere on the fence between looking pretty and pretty slutty has a kid with a looser guy whose girlfriend had a kid just 6 months ago?

Speaking of which, Fashionhound reports that Tom Cruse and Katie Holms are now expecting too.... whooopty-shit!

David Lee Roth to Replace Howard Stern

Former Van Halen Frontman “Diamond” David Lee Roth will be replacing Howard Stern when he moves to Sirius Satellite Radio in January. Does this mean that Sammy Hagar will be guest hosting for Rush Limbaugh? Heaven help me if I ever see Eddie Van Halen sitting in on the O’Reilly Factor.

I guess having nobody pay attention to him in New York is slightly more important than nobody paying attention to his solo career.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How many electronic devices does it take to watch Monday Night Football?

The answer will surprise you.

Yes I know this is Wednesday and Monday Night Football was two nights ago, but with the grandmanator in the hospital, working on a church slideshow and having to fend for my own food, I’m a little behind. Which is bad because I have some great jokes about Jim Tressle, the Supreme Court and hurricanes caused by PlayStation 3!

But back to the subject at hand.

I got the idea for building my own Digital Video Recorder from an article on Cnet some time ago, but that article has gone AWOL so I found this article via a Google search.

Free TiVo: Build a Better DVR out of an Old PC

I have several reasons for doing this.

  1. TiVo requires a phone line to download channel listings and program titles. I do not have this in my condo
  2. Microsoft’s ReplayTV will run over a home network, but still costs $12.95 a month.
  3. For my birthday I got Sirius Satellite Radio which broadcasts every NFL Game (of course I’m only interested in the Steelers) unfortunately with a 30 second delay due to the amount of time it takes for a signal to bounce back to Earth. Therefore the audio does not sync with the tv.

I suppose you are asking, why not just get a DVR from your cable provider? Well, where’s the fun in that?

So now my living room looks like this!

  1. TV
  2. Sirius Satellite Radio
  3. Bose Stereo
  4. VCR (no longer used)
  5. Compaq DeskPro EN – DVR
  6. X-Box (useless without enough TV inputs)

Officially I’m still in the prof of concept stages, but the DVR works. Here’s the setup. It’s a small PC, a few years old that I got on ebay. It’s pretty much as-is. I loaded Windows 2000 on there and then had to find some video, network and audio drivers on Compaq’s website.

Next the video card. I chose the Hauppauge PVR-350. It’s all hardware encoding feature offered the best quality video, plus it includes a remote control so it works just like a made-for-the-TV device. Plus the built-in S-Video and audio out port makes it a great all-in-one solution for the PC-PVR. It also includes all the software needed for recording, playback and even DVD burning.

Eventually I’ll add a much bigger hard drive, and a DVD burner so I can save things I record for future viewing.

So, here’s the setup for football, Fire up the Sirius radio to channel 124, outputting through the Bose, turn on the TV, set the video input to S-Video, wait for kickoff, hit Pause on the DVR remote, wait for Bill Hillgrove, voice of the Steelers, so say the word “Kickoff”, press play and there you have it! Audio, and video in perfect harmony on Monday night football!

Is it perfect? Well it's good enough. There's no on-screen display for playing recorded video, and changing the channel through the DVR is like playing russian rulette but the concept is there. Since I keep a laptop in the living room I will probably do a PC Anwywher type solution to do some of the less intuitive functions instead of using the remote.

It works and it was kind fun to get workging!

Used PC: $88 on ebay
TV card: $130 on
Sirius Satellite radio:
$120 yearly feeNot having to listen to John Madden be repetitively obvious for
three hours: PRICELESS!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The adventures of Andy and grandma

Miss me? I’m back!

Well, it was last Wednesday when I was working on my DVR Project (update coming soon). I was upstairs listening to the web broadcast from so I didn’t hear my phone. After significant time went by I checked my hotmail. Mom had sent me an urgent message and wanted me to call her cell phone.

I called and she told me that Grandma was hallucinating. We thought she took the wrong pills and that was the cause of her confusion and seeing things. Being the only relative in town I needed to go over and check things out.

So I turned on the VCR to tape Lost (Later on you’ll find out exactly why I need to finish this DVR project).

I get to Grandma’s house and she’s counting her pills. Three of these, one of these, two of this… Lost count, and starting over. For the next hour I watched her struggle through “Thursday” while keeping in touch with mom via phone.

Then came my first experience with the hallucinations. “Run your finger behind those papers… Do you see that? That’s the net from my book.” Apparently she was seeing “nets” webs and other such tactile objects. Earlier on the phone she had told my mom that she saw “a little girl in rollers.”

So I called 911.

The paramedics arrived at about the point Grandma was insistent that I take her to pick up a prescription. They arrived, took a look at her vitals and only found that her heart rate was low and she should see a doctor. They offered to take her, but she declined. Apparently if someone says no the paramedics would be guilty of kidnapping… Damn lawyers!

Back to the story. Grandma was a little more calm, or at least knew how to show she’s not insane. I told her that I’d come by tomorrow and take her to see her doctor.
I left her for the evening, called mom and got home around midnight.

I tried watching my Taped episode of Lost while eating my dinner of 4 Oreo cookies, but my tape wasn’t at the right point so I missed the final few minutes… Another reason for the DVR project to be accelerated.

I tried sleeping but was so upset by the evening’s events that the wind blowing outside caused me a night of restlessness.

The next morning I got up, took my time, emailed a supervisor about my situation and said I will be in only part of the day. Grandma called me over breakfast and told me that she called her doctor. She said “nobody wants to talk to me” I told her I’d see what I could find out and called the doctor’s office myself. After navigating the automated voicemail system I got a nurse and was able to schedule an appointment for the afternoon. I called Grandma back and told her that I’d be by this afternoon to pick her up.

Now at this point, Grandma’s voice is pretty strong, she’s upbeat and alert. Hasn’t mentioned anyone that wasn’t there and otherwise doing well from my vantage point.

Well after a rather unproductive morning at work I head to Grandma’s. I was in touch with mom and one of Grandma’s friends during the morning and told them about our appointment at 3:45. I decided to go by early and spend some time getting a feel for her condition before going to the doctor.

I get to Grandma’s apartment around 1:50. She was still in her nightgown. Her voice was soft, her head hung low, she barely lifted her head to look me in the eye.
She admitted to not feeling well.

We went to sit in the guest room, I was on the couch, she at the desk chair. I asked her how she felt, and she said maybe we shouldn’t wait to go to the doctor. This is a 180 turnaround from last night. I told her I’d drive her to the ER… but as she was getting ready she asked me to call an ambulance.

Once again I called 911. I explained the situation. I then called the nurse at her doctor’s office to explain the situation, and even though they can’t give medical advice on the phone she said that was the right thing to do.

If this were Vegas the smart money would have been on stroke. All the signs were there, slurred speech, confusion, seeing thing. Glad I don’t gamble though.

The paramedics arrived and Grandma was still alert. She seemed to perk up at the attention from lots of people.

I’d like to take this moment to commend the emergency service of Columbus Ohio, and extend my complement to all first responders. In my two instances of calling 911 I was met with courteous professionals, dedicated to helping others who gave a genuine sense of professionalism. Never underestimate the ability of your 911 responders!

After strapping her into a wheelchair we drove to the hospital. There I met her in the ER room and gave the nurses on duty all the information I had about the situation. She quickly fell asleep and they told me her carbon dioxide levels were very high and they were going to put her on a pressurized breathing mask to help her oxygen levels rise.

So it wasn't a stroke. So the smart money lost at Ceaser's Palace. However "Resperatory alement" was paying out 21:1.

After an hour or so of this she was sound asleep… well she was pretty disoriented when we got there, but shouldn’t have been so sleepy without sedation.

I had been on the phone with mom, and even a couple friends called. Mom got there about the time they had finally started admitting her to the hospital. The male nurse told me she’d be in room 4126 to which I immediately said “Alan Fannica, Rod Woodson”

Now I don’t want to say anything about this male nurse who was doing a genuinely great job, but he looked at me funny when I said that.

“Alan Fannica is number 41 for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Rod Woodson is number 26” I explained. (It turns out she was going to room 4129 which would be Dewayne Washington, I believe)

That’s when I noticed the Hello Kitty stickers on his ID badge. He must not be much of a sports fan.

Mom and I got to ride in the service elevator up to the ICU room. We talked with the nurse on duty and waited for a doctor. By now we were a little tired, I’d been at the hospital for over 7 hours and had nothing to eat… basically I was going on adrenaline still.

Mom bought me some of the leftovers they still serve at 10:00 in the hospital cafeteria and we went home. Me to my condo (speaking of which, I’ll need to post some Mr. Pimpmobile updates soon) and mom to Grandma’s apartment.

That was a very long day.

I allowed myself to sleep in a bit on Friday, but made it to work for a full day. Immediately after work I went back to the hospital and met up with mom. She took me to Max & Erma’s and insisted I have a beer with dinner. She kept telling me how grateful she was that I was able to step in and handle an emergency with my aunt out of town. To be honest, when waiting for the ambulance on Thursday I had to give myself a pep talk to keep from loosing it back there.
I waited around at the hospital until my Aunt and cousin were able to get there. I also had a chance to meet with my pastor.

She’s been in the ICU since Thursday. Mostly on a respirator, she was off of it on Monday, but her CO2 levels went back up and they had to put her back on.

She’s still very sleepy and quite annoyed at the tube in her mouth.

She’s survived several hospital stays where we were about to make funeral arrangements, she may very well survive this.

So I guess this kind of makes her like the Terminator… except instead of shooting people she sends birthday cards with twelve dollars in them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

can I be growing up?

for years I defined the perfect woman as someone who looked like Brittney Spears and Cooked like Martha Stewart.

Just to qualify that statement I said it back before Brittany got all slutted up... or before Martha went to jail. But you get the basic premise of my thought process there.

But maybe the pefect woman is someone I can spend 3 hours sharing insightful commentary on a football game follwed by dinner conversation about religion, politics and literature.

...which is how I spent sunday. And for some reason I'm not nearly as bummed about a Steeler Loss as I probably should be.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ramblings of a lackadaisical blogger...

Really it’s not that I don’t love you people, I really do, I’ve just been… busy… or lazy, I get those two confused sometimes.

Anyway I’ve had a few thoughts over the past few days so here they are.

Is Wal*Mart the new K-Mart?

I was out running in a rather upscale neighborhood earlier this week. As I was ogling the houses starting at $500,000 I noticed quite a few of them had red signs saying “SAY NO TO WAL MART”.

This got me thinking… or as much as the limited oxygen getting to my brain at my 7-minute mile pace would allow. Is Wal Mart the new K-Mart? Traditionally the least desirable, due to its unkempt stores and rather apathetic sales staff, of all the large retail chains. Now that many of these stores have been closed after bankruptcy and soon to become Sears stores, they’ve lost much of their public presence. This leaves Target and Wal Mart to battle for market position.

Wal Mart with it’s revolutionary sales practices has set a standard in retail for low prices. Their sales staff gives the same courtesy as the attendants at Disneyland and you cannot beat their prices.

But let’s face it; people who live in the neighborhood that I was running through probably don’t shop at Wal Mart.

Now that I’ve over generalized let’s qualify that statement. I asked one of my four bosses (none of them named Lumbergh) about the signs as he lives on the other side of this neighborhood. He said that the Proposed store would be placed at top of the hill around the corner from the low-traffic secluded road off of which this development was built. He does shop at Wal Mart… but the nice one 2 exits over.

Now I live on the other side of Sawmill Road. And the Ghetto in comparison (you’ve met my neighbors). A Wal Mart greatly helps me. First off, cheaper groceries. Secondly someplace to go on a Friday now that Battlestar Galactica is done for the season.

But is it the traffic? Is it the clientele that Wal Mart attracts to the area? No, it’s the street lights. You see this picturesque development sits on a hill separated by some woods from the main road. Were a major retail venture to go in, especially a 24x7 business, the parking lot lights would bring a sense of the city into the suburbs where these people have escaped.

You’re not poor because you’re black; and you’re not black because you’re poor.

Yes, I’m taking on a racial issue… wait, no I’m not, I’m taking on an economic issue. Because Race has absolutely nothing to do with wealth.

Since Katrina hit New Orleans (please give to the Red Cross) people have tried to associate those who were displaced, or stranded as victims of racism. I’m not denying that racism exists, but that’s only an excuse.

Anyone motivated to better themselves, be it in education, athletics, or just to get themselves out of a city below sea level with a hurricane headed your way, will succeed better and faster than someone waiting for someone else to do it.

It has nothing to do with skin color; it has everything to do with self-motivation. Let’s look at everyone that DID get out of the Big Easy. They got out in their cars. The ones they bought with their money. The money they eared at their jobs. The jobs they get up and go to every day.

I hit the snooze alarm a few time this morning… mostly do to drinking draught beers until 1:00 am. But the need to sleep in was overcome by the desire to eat later on in the week. You see if I didn’t go to work today I’d loose my job, and if a hurricane ever hit Ohio I’d be stuck in the Superdome.

So with my 3 door plastic car, I’m ready to evacuate at a moments notice!


Okay that’s enough for tonight… Battlestar Galactica come on soon… I may head out for a beer, and hopefully I’ll be up for 7:30 am running club at church.

Hopefully running won’t turn into 3 hours of much raking this week. That made me sore!!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Adventures of Andy and Mr. Pimpmobile

It’s been a rough week in my world. The fortress of solitude was nearly compromised, and it was quite the adventure. It all started late Monday afternoon. I had just come home from a long weekend with my parents. Relaxing, and fun; a good way to spend my birthday.

However as I arrived home I was greeted by a scene (and smell) none too pleasant. Yes this concerned my mechanically inclined neighbor. You see for some reason he felt the need to disassemble his engine on the front lawn of the condominium (or apartment in his case) and spray paint various engine parts different colors.

The entire place reeked of spray paint. But Mr. Pimpmobile was nowhere to be found.

This changed my demeanor quite a bit. I was quite content on my drive across the state until I pulled into my parking lot. It didn’t take me long bring in my bags and do some unpacking. As I was putting a few items away upstairs I saw him return to his work in progress.
Now, people, I’m typically a reasonable person. Ninety-eight percent of the time I have a smile on my face and am quite willing to lend a hand to anyone I see. However after two years of watching someone, by their sheer existence bring down property values, I lost it. I went out the front door yelling, “What do you think you’re doing!” It wasn’t a question.

I think I startled him. He had that deer in headlights look that someone would criticize him for putting time and effort into an automobile. As if there is nothing else to do in this world.

Dale Carnegie would not have been proud of me. I actually started this argument and wasn’t very friendly. In fact for the previous week I had made several snide comments in response to conversations he tried to start with me. As a result he’s not exactly seeing eye-to-eye with me.

That heated conversation about making the place look like a trash heap and the smell of spray paint ended in me threatening to send a letter to the property manager. As I was about to complete I heard a knock at my door. It was the neighbor. Slightly calmer now he offered to compromise. He told me that this was the only place he had to work on his car.

However, I escalated things by informing him that he needed a leash on is dog and to clean up after him. As it happens I looked at the same coil of poop next to my car for about a month earlier this year. His response was, “I’m from Cleveland where a dog craps where it wants.”

We ended things at least not hating each other. But the letter was written. The next day I turned in the following to the property manager:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am requesting the immediate
and appropriate action toward the resident at [Edited]. Over the past two years
of my residency here as a due paying owner I have witnessed several chronic and
what I believe are property-devaluing actions and violations of common courtesy
and condo codes.

  1. A dog that is freely allowed to run around the courtyard without a leash
  2. The resident has failed to clean up after the dog has made a mess in the common yard.
  3. Unbagged trash from the resident has left the alley between courtyards a trashy mess

  4. The tenant is also constantly working on his automobile in the common parking lot. This has resulted in:
    • A fire hazard: an immobile vehicle would block rescue workers from performing their duties
    • Potential tire damage from loose bolts and other parts as engines have been disassembled in this common space
    • Various discarded parts and other auto-maintenance related trash left in the parking lot.
    • On September 5, 2005 after returning home the tenant was in the process of using aerosol paints on his vehicle parts in the common grassy areas resulting in a foul odor.
    • Car maintenance equipment on the common lawn in front of both our units has resulted in the destruction of the grass and higher landscaping costs to [edited].

  5. Loud music throughout the day that can be heard through the common wall

  6. Hammering: A constant hammering on the common wall which is no doubt damaging [edited]'s property. This noise was loud enough to be heard over the phone.

After two years of these annoyances I have decided to withhold my $110 condo dues until action has been taken.

Tuesday was quiet, but by Wednesday I took the photo below, and as I was outside the inevitable happened… we confronted each other again.

Do you want to walk out of your door and see this?

To anyone else this would have been a very funny altercation. I had read the Condo Charter just enough to be dangerous, while he was arguing for the sake of arguing. I told him working on his car was a violation. He told me the bikes the children were riding were also illegal.

“No those are just kids being kids,” I responded. Then I went back to what I knew was an argument I was assured a victory in, reagarding the unleashed dog (really not much more than a rat with a collar, but the rules are rules). He told me that if we were in Cleveland I wouldn't be able saying anything to him. I'm pretty sure Cleveland has leash laws too. Maybe not in the Dawgpound section of Cleveland Stadium, but in other public places I'm sure.

Well, I’ll spare you the four-letter words, but what happened was a threat to “make me as miserable as possible.”

Over the next few hours I did my best to put him out of my mind. Knowing that misery, much like happiness comes from within, I decided I would not let him make me miserable anymore. I started watching a movie I had rented, did my monthly budget and read a chapter of “I am Charlotte Simmons.”

By 10:30 It was time to take the movie back. I opened my door to see him under his car with a utility lamp, working on shocks, breaks or something in the general wheel area. He was lying on the hard blacktop, probably still sticky from the heat of the sun that day. The banana slugs were abut to come out and make their zig-zags across the walk way. And I’m sure he sliced at least one knuckle down there.

Mentally I contrasted that with where I just was. Inside, in the air conditioning, reading a good book on a comfortable couch. At 10:30 at night if you’re under a car on the hard pavement instead of inside spending quality time with your wife, reading to your children or… well frankly anywhere else, which one of us is miserable?

Nothing happened the rest of the week, other than my fairly constant complaining. However an interesting twist came after Church on Sunday. My pastor, having heard me give a very short version of the story told me that he had met my neighbor and heard his side of things. I’m not sure what the neighbor told the pastor, but I got the feeling that I came off pretty bad in his version. Rev. Steve did a better version of humanizing this guy to me than I have to you.

But what is done is done. That afternoon I opened the letter I had received in response to my complaint. I didn’t open it Saturday when I received it because if it was bad news I didn’t want my evening of Football watching to be ruined. I left that job to the University of Texas Longhorns.

The letter was a copy of what was sent to the neighbor. It sited an abbreviated list of complaints, but contained a key line:
Car maintenance is NOT to be performed on the property.
Nothing has happened since then, except I did pay my condo dues.

Going forward I foresee the family next door moving. I really hope they take this opportunity to look into financing for a house. That will give them the chance to build equity, save for their two daughter’s college educations and give him the garage he wants and needs so that he will finally be happy working on vehicles and nobody (okay, this last line’s about me) will say a word about his automotive ingenuity.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Adventures of Andy in Pittsburgh

Just a brief post, but this is kind of cool.

This weekend is my birthday (9/3) so I came to the hometown to see the parents. It's a long holiday weekend so it's a great excuse to see mom, dad the dog and the cat.

The biggest part of the birthday was to go to a Pittsburgh Pirate game. Dad has a package of tickets and they are some GREAT seats. As it turns out today, Notre Dame is coming to Pittsburgh to play Pitt. So the Baseball game was scheduled for 12:35 and the Football game kickoff is 8:00.

Well even at 11:30 am the crouds were gathered for tailgating. I personally can't drink that much. When we saw a stage set up across from the stadium I assumed some band would be providing pre-game entertainment. But as we drove closer I shouted, "That's College Game Day!" It was in factChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso.

Didn't stick around for the ESPN show becaue it was free hardhat day (pretty cheesy IMHO) but just seeing the show in progress was pretty cool in itself!

Football Season is here,

All is right with the world.

Go Buckeyes!
Go Steelers!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Stupid conversations... or conversations with stupid people

I was out minding my own business having a beer at a local pub a couple weeks ago. This is how a lot of my stories start, by the way. So this blonde woman starts talking to me.

I figure that talking to some stranger was probably more productive than reading the local left-wing biased entertainment paper. So There I was talking to a complete stranger at a bar. It turns out that she works for AOL. So as all people in the technology industry do, the topic eventually turned to offshore outsourcing. I happened to mention that I'm the only Caucasian programmer in my department. She told me I must be really smart.

Supid conversation or conversation with a stupid person? You decide!

So today I came home from work for lunch. I didn’t have any cash and needed to buy bread and pay my bills. Unfortunately when I arrive at my front door my neighbor I won't let you guess: he's definitely a stupid person.

So as I'm exiting my car and walking up to our mutual front porch he tells me that he saw a car kit that would "look sweet on your car." A little background information is due here. My neighbor is Mr. Immobile, and this is what he drives. Yes definitely a stupid person.

So I replied to his suggestion of a car kit by saying, "I'm not putting that $#!* on my car." I don't normally speak in expletives but it was such a stupid suggestion. Then I felt bad because his young daughter was right there too. Maybe they'll move now that they know I'm a bad influence on children.

But that's besides the point.

I continued to try and convince him why I don't want him stylizing my car. I told him it devalues the vehicle and really makes you look like you have no taste whatsoever. I mean think about it, you might see some teenager with a tricked out Honda, but you never see an investment banker with neon lights around the base of his BMW. There are just some things you don't do when you're actually concerned with appearance.

I guess this was just a stupid conversation with a stupid person.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin Hits a Little Close To Home

In the film "The 40 Year Old Virgin" Steve Carell plays a guy named Andy who collects action figures. This, however extreme similarity to my own life, does not mean that I have sold my memoirs to Hollywood.

But it the similarities are eerie!

But enough about my own insecurities about collectable plastic men, and onto the review.

Andy and his toys...

I've been a Steve Carell fan for years now. Ever since college when I would watch The Daily Show on Comedy Central... well... daily, I was impressed with his comedic strait man abilities. I felt he was very underutilized as the idiotic weatherman in last year's "Anchorman: The Ledged of Ron Burgundy." But with Correll working as co-scripter of the film and it's star you get one of the most original presentations out of Hollywood in quite some time. The reason for this is that Carell and co. are not part of the Hollywood establishment. No it's not that there's groundbreaking new cinema being made here, but at least it's jokes that haven't been done before, redone and done again. It was just new (albeit edgy) genuinely funny comedy.

The story is that of an employee who works in an electronics store. During a poker game with coworkers it comes out that he has no experience with the fairer sex. This prompts the three different personas in the card game to start devising plans to get Andy... some... a.... well you know.

The 40 year old virgin and his toys!

Of course his friends' advice is worth exactly what he paid for it. NOTHING.

The moral of the story eventually becomes: get to know someone before you sleep with them. (Come to think of it, it would take a Hollywood outsider to put that in a movie).

But morals aside (Good advice if you want to laugh at this movie), this is one of the funniest comedies I have ever seen. The movie never takes itself too seriously trying to convey a hidden message, though the pot smoking scenes didn't seem to fit. The jokes come rapid fire. The comedy builds on momentum. Even with a slow start in the first fifteen minutes it's literally like a role coaster ride of comedy after the slow rise to the top of the first hill.

The comedy ranges from situational to gross-out. Again, morals aside. The supporting cast does a great job, and actually takes the role of the goofball losers, not the virgin. You see it's not that Andy is undersexed, it's that the rest of the world is oversexed.

Yes, I keep telling myself that too!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

It's almost 3:30 am and here I am

Friday night has come and gone. And here it is, the wee hours of the morning. No I'm not drunk (the spelling errors come with soberity). In fact not a drink all night.

Tonight I decided to rent a video game. The X-Box and I haven't spent quality time together in quite a while (And I don't care what Canton Highschool principals say, I don't beieve you can get pregnant from a video game!). So I played Lego Star Wars tonight. Got through the whole game in one night. I'm glad I didn't make a purchase of this one.

But sitting here and looking at the clock knowing what else I could have done. But I doubt I can sleep now. You see I had the windows open all week, becaue it cooled off quite a bit. But the humidity came back yesterday and I'm not quite sure it would be conducive to sleep now that it's muggy in my house.

So here I am, blogging while the world is sleeping. Even the west coast chat rooms are dead. I've got a couple IM's going with some fellow insomniacs, but it's just chit chat.

I swear I'm not much of a homebody. Sure the past few months I have been but that was because I was virtually living a relationship. I was supposed to be involved by now. But it wasn't meant to be. And single life sometimes sucks. I mean sure I could have drunk myself to sleep, but at what price? A saturday hangover and a "what the hell was I thinking when I kissed her" regret.

At least with the video game I got a free movie rental next week!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

In the News...

It's been a long time, so here goes,

The Adventures of Andy presents
In The News
65 out of 490 girls at school pregnant
Movies, TV, video games, lazy parents, lax discipline all cited as likely reasons

Shocking school administrators and others community members, fully 13 percent of the female students at an Ohio high school currently are pregnant.

According to a report in the Canton Repository, 65 girls of the 490 females at Timken High School are with child – a number confirmed by Principal Kim Redmond.
"This has gotten to horrible proportions," said Redmond. "I wish I knew the answer to why it's happening." Repository columnist Rick Senften mentions the potential suspects of movies, TV and video games, lazy parents and lax discipline.
Now I'm a regular TV watcher, You've seen my movie reviews, I own an X-box and though I'd hate to call my parents lazy, they do own a garrage door opener and my dad did teach his dog to bring back the golf balls he knocks around the back yard. However, I have to say that I think that some of these kids are having sex!

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson apologized Wednesday for calling for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, hours after he denied saying Chavez should be killed.
"Is it right to call for assassination?" Robertson said. "No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."

On Monday's telecast of his Christian Broadcasting Network show "The 700 Club," Robertson had said: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
Now I don't know much about this Chavez character, other than he has a great name for a villan. Maybe we should make him the bad guy in the next James Bond film. But I digress... How evil do you have to be to get Pat Robertson, a holy Christian man to want you dead?

By Bob Ryan, Globe Columnist August 25, 2005
To believe or not to believe. That is the question.
Do we believe the French newspaper L'Equipe, which asserts that it has proof Lance Armstrong used EPO in the course of winning his first Tour de France in 1999, or do we believe Armstrong, when he answers the charge by saying, ''I will simply restate what I have said many times: I have never taken performance-enhancing drugs?"
The reputation of the world's most noted individual sport athlete is at stake. Though the intricate nature of his sport is a mystery to most American sports fans, he has even become a true household name in his native land. Armstrong has positioned himself as more than just an athletic achiever. As a well-publicized cancer survivor, he is a symbol of hope, determination, grit, spunk, dedication, and many other attributes that we revere. Even cyclophobes have some understanding that the Tour de France is a grueling three-week enterprise representing a supreme test of Man vs. Nature. To win one is admirable. To win seven -- two more than anyone else has ever been able to do -- is almost mystical. When he rode with the president of the United States last weekend, there was little doubt which man was more honored to be in the company of whom.
Hey France, Our guy can bike better than your guys... for 7 years! And who takes the French seriously? I mean they couldn't even get a draft of the EU Constitution passed!
Okay folks, that's what's in the news this week. I'm hoping to make this a regular Wednesday event (I know today's Thursday but I went to a baseball game last night.)

Monday, August 15, 2005


Here's a list of my summer movie reviews.

Fantastic Four
Marvel Comic's oldest franch finally hits the big screen. A solid popcorn action movie with great character interaction and a really disgusting bad guy.

War of the Worlds
Spielberg gives you something to rial up your emotions, Dakota Fanning steals her secenes and Tom Cruise... well he sure knows how to ge his name in the paper!

Batman Begins
Not only is this how Batman movies should be done, its how James Bond movies should be done and a CSI style plot with a carchase the Blues Brothers would be proud of!

Finally, a Star Wars film for Lord of the Rings fans. Violent and action packed, it's everything those of us who grew up with Star Wars wanted as kids but would have been too scared of back then.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Where everybody knows your name...

While I was away, I was away from a lot. Away from many friends, from the internet and even from my neighborhood pub.

Now before this turns into a college-esque, how-great-beer-is essay, I want to point out that I would probably still frequet this establishment were it not of the alcohol distribution nature. I'd be about the only one and they would likely go out of business, but the point is that this isn't about beer, it's about atmosphere.

The Backstreet pub isn't much to look at from the outside. The front windows don't match (due primarally to a halloween night barfight), the carpet is warn in places, the coolers are dented and scratched and it's actually quite dificult to find.

But those who have found it and made it their local watering hole are some damn fine people.

I hadn't been there since March. Sure I see the place every day because it's just a quick 300 yard walk through the back lot of the grocery store to get there. So last Saturday evening I stopped in on my first night out in quite some time. It was nearly 1:00 am and the majority of the crowd had gone for the night. But I hadn't made three steps into that back hallway when the bartender on duty turned to see who just came in.

She took a moment to double focus her vision and excitedly exclaimed, "I know you!"

at least 3 more times (there were only 4 other people in the bar) that night I got an "Andy, how are you.... It's been a long time."

Perhaps there is something depressing that I can be scarce from a bar for nearly 6 months and return to recognize everyone there. Or maybe it's just comforting that the friendships that were put on hold were rekindled with little or no Effort.

So last night I went out again and as I sat on the patio with the pretty girls and the middle-aged men trying to pick up the middle-aged women I engaged in a conversation about local eateries. It was a 4 way conversation where everybody had input, we all had a beverage in front of us, jokes were made and laughs were shared. I took a moment to pause for a moment and realized that I hadn't had this in quite some time. When I went scarce I sacraficed socalization. That's just not me. I enjoy a party or just conversations with friends.

Well, football season isn't far off. I think they'll see me in there again sooon.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Death of the Anchorman

ABC News Peter Jennings passed away yesterday from lung cancer. I’ll reserve what I really think about him for another time. Instead let’s look at the institution of the network anchorman.

Until about 15 years ago when 24 hour news channels made inroads into the daily lives of Americans it was the Network Anchor that gave us our daily news. They brought the world into our living rooms and for 30 minutes a day we lived outside our communities.

When the Gulf War broke out in 1992 we watched it live on CNN, who gave us 24 hours of coverage a day. The simple half hour of information a day was simply not enough. It was truly the first step into the Information age.

This was also the first step to in fall of the Network Anchorman. As Cable News proliferated and news companies fought for attention amongst a crowd of others all saying the same things, one voice took it upon itself to deliver a "fair and balanced" view of the world. With the Internet came a man named Drudge brought us daily information that was not seen on our network newscasts and another named Rush started a movement of radio broadcasters who poignantly refuted the lines of the Anchorman.

Jennings was the last anchorman.

Of the big three he was the last to go. Dan Rather was embarrassed into retirement due and will forever live with the legacy of forged documents. Tom Brokaw announced his retirement over two years before retiring in late 2004 (as if we needed that much time to prepare ourselves for someone else reading a teleprompter out loud at 6:30 pm each night).

Jennings death elevates him to a level that even the revered Walter Cronkite hasn't reached. In dying the question is asked, "What else could he have done?" Much like Jimi Hendrix, Steve Prefontaine or Janis Jopplin, the perceived potential of the individual begins to overshadow the lifetime of achievements.

Over the next decade the network newsman will find himself less and less important. No longer will one anchor be the face of a network for decades at a time. In fact network news may go the way of Saturday morning cartoons.

And that was a truly sad moment!