Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Beginning of the End

Lost returned tonight. This meant two things: eight months of waiting for a new episode chronicling the lives of our favorite survivors came to an end, and America finally had some real, scripted, dramatic television to watch. Seriously, this WGA strike is killing me.

So, what did tonight's episode of Lost teach us? Not a whole lot. As is typical fashion, I was left with more questions than answers. I recorded it, so tomorrow when I have time, I'm going to watch it again. That's right, I'm a pretty big geek. So while I'm studying on a Friday night, I'll be re-watching a TV show.

While I have you here, I may as well apologize for not posting my thoughts on last night's American Idol. I started to, but I just didn't feel like it. Not too sure many of you care anyway. Hey, tune in on Monday for some big stuff. I'm stealing a friend's idea and using it next week. Seriously, you're not gonna want to miss that one.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode IV

So I'm training just a little more this week. This time I'm at a branch that's located inside a Kroger. The constant beeping of the scanners is mind-numbing.

I've been shadowing an FSR who looks so much like Carlton Banks it's scary. Okay, it's not scary at all. Actually it's a little amusing. If he didn't have a much deeper voice I'd swear he was gonna bust out some Tom Jones.

I'm a little confused as to why they placed me at that location for training. It's roughly a 45 minute drive from my house. I have to go to the other side of Raleigh. And traffic is kinda heavy during the times I have to make my way there and back again. Also, it's in a grocery store. I'll regularly be working in a traditional branch. The two have very different ways of doing things.

I will say I'm glad I won't be at an in-store branch. They're pretty cramped in there. Not a lot of room to maneuver. Most of the time I'm just standing in the background watching Carlton work. I'm hoping that I'll be able to do some real work on Friday when I go back there for the last time.

I will share about one client that came through this afternoon. It was a man in his 60s. I'm standing in the background, doing what I do. A teller on the line is dealing with some paperwork on her computer, but acknowledges the man by saying someone would be with him in just one second. Branch manager, also on the teller line, had just gotten a roll of dimes and was getting that situated. He also said that he would be right with the customer. About ten seconds later, branch manager looked back up and asked if he could help the man. "Don't bother, apparently you don't have time for me." Then the man stormed off. I guess 30 seconds was just too long to wait. According to the folks in that branch, he's a regular, and he's always like that. Good to know. Something to look forward to.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

American Idol: Omaha

I did not post anything related to American Idol last week. My excuses are flimsy, but here they are. Tuesday I was at the Greene's watching the show with full intention of writing something when I got home. I planned to rewatch some parts with the miracle of the DVR. But my slightly less miraculous DVR did not record. This is a problem I've had before, and I'm sure I'll have it again. Wednesday... what was I doing Wednesday. I know I watched it. And I remember thinking that everyone who auditioned in South Carolina sucked. Maybe I was just so disappointed by what was on American Idol that night that I felt it needed no explanation from my point of view.

But I'm back tonight with Omaha's auditions. This is American Idol. Let's hope Omaha is better than Charleston.

Chris Bernheisel - 25; Since You Been Gone, Kelly Clarkson
Okay, when he talks, he sounds like he's about 14 or 15. And there's a lisp. My favorite quote from Chris - "This is the biggest life alternating change in my life..." Yeah, he said alternating. Not altering. Alternating. You know, like that part of the car that recharges your battery while the engine is running. Yeah, I want to use the term "tone deaf" to describe his singing style, but that may not be a strong enough phrase. Oh, and he did a handstand during the song. I think that's an original move. I don't remember Kelly Clarkson doing that in the video. And when Simon and Randy tell him he can't sing, he then wants to audition to be the red carpet guy at the finale. I can see this guy being the butt of Jay Leno's jokes on the Tonight Show.

Jason Rich - 21; When You Say Nothing At All, Keith Whitley
They're giving a backstory, which, these days, isn't a positive note. This farmhand gets one line out, and forgets the words. Then he starts over, and forgets the words again. Then he starts again, and gets two lines out this time. It's hard to judge someone who won't sing the song. He's not bad, but he doesn't really have anything special. And if he can't remember the lyrics for his tryout, how will he learn the songs in Hollywood? They let him through anyway. Man they're being nice to people this year. I'd have said no.

Next up is a montage of contestants that have no idea what the lyrics are to any of their songs. Wow, Omaha's looking pretty sad.

Rachael Wicker - 24; Don't Tell Me To Stop Loving You, LeeAnn Womack
Rachel's a tomboy who is arm wrestling people in the lobby. She takes out Seacrest, and wants to wrestle Simon. He declines the competition. So she begins singing. Not a bad country type voice. Too much yodeling going on. I'd say no. But she gets through. After she arm wrestles Paula.

Sarah Whitaker - 25; singing some nameless song she's making up
Sarah is a former wrestler who performed under the name "Lady Morgue." She's slightly disturbing to say the least. She's creepy looking and her voice matches her appearance. Get out of here. Seriously, what's up with Omaha? It's like the only people showing up to audition are the Children of the Corn.

Now Ryan and Paula are switching places.

Samantha Sidley - 22; Don't Know Why, Norah Jones
This is a good song for her voice. This is a girl I'd send to Hollywood. She definitely has potential.

Elizabeth Erkert - 19; I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Marvin Gaye
This kid has a very good voice. At this point we're kind of doing some quick auditions, just to show that Nebraska has some talent showing up.

Denise Jackson - 17
Incredibly strong voice, especially for someone her age.

Michael Sanfilippo - 19
4 in a row get through.

Angelica Puente - 17; The Power Of Love, Celine Dion
Her backstory is a pretty sad one. She's estranged from her parents and is living with her grandmother. She's wanting to make her dad proud. There seems to be some yodel to her voice as well. What's up with that? She's got an okay voice, but there's a lot of mimicry going on. They're sending her through, citing that she has a lot of potential. She just needs some more confidence.

David Cook - 24; Living On A Prayer, Bon Jovi
A Daughtry wannabe with hair. I can't say I like his audition. He's slowed down the tempo for this song a lot. I mean, he has a good voice. A lot of potential. Go ahead and send him to Hollywood. We'll figure out if he can cut it there.

Johnny Escamilla - 18; Shout, Otis Day and the Knights
Okay, when he's wearing a sparkling gold jacket, it's never a good sign. Shiny clothes act as a gimmick. As he sings, he seems to be convulsing. Almost like he's trying to tap dance his way through it, but not quite getting there. That was awful. Go back to Scott's Bluff kid.

Leo Marlowe - 23; A Song For You, Donnie Hathaway
Before the break when they showed the blurb of this guy, I just assumed he would suck. But this dude has a really good voice.

So, overall, Omaha wasn't horrible. Better than Charleston, that's for sure. 19 people went through though. That's fewer than Charleston. Weird. They must have really lowered standards in SC. Tomorrow night they'll be in Miami. For now, I'm off to take some Ny-Quil. I might stay up for the new episode of House, but I don't think I'll be conscious for the whole thing.


Yesterday, when I was on my lunch break, I went to a restaurant called Rudino's. They had the TV in there on ESPN. So I sat and watched SportsCenter and then a little 1st and 10.

1st and 10 had guest commentator Donovan McNab and regular agitator Skip Bayless. As I was watching the show, I could almost hear my dad's voice yelling at the TV. Dad never did like Bayless. In fact, dad would always complain about the conversations he heard on most of these ESPN shows.

One of the topics of discussion asked the question: who's more dominant? Tom Brady or Tiger Woods? Again, it's like I could hear dad's voice. How do you compare Tom Brady with Tiger Woods? How can you claim which one is more dominant? One plays football, the other plays golf. If you want to compare them, then you need to pit them against each other. Have Tiger throw some passes, see if he could hit the receiver. Have Brady play a round of golf, see if he could get close to par. After that, you have plenty of room to compare. But until then, it's apples to oranges.

Now, if you're going by endorsements, I guess that's a different story. You don't see Tom Brady in too many ads do you? Or maybe I'm just not paying attention. I know Tiger does the Buick commercials. And he's got a video game named after him. Can Tom Brady say that? Who's dominant now?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Like a Freight Train

I'm sick. After over a month of assumed immunity to this foul cold and flu season, I have finally given in. It amazes me how it hits all at once.

Yesterday I had a slightly scratchy throat. This morning I awoke to sneezing, sniffling, congestion, fever, and mild delusions of grandeur. Actually, the delusions I usually have when I wake up, I can't blame those on the cold.

So tonight, before I go to bed, I'll be spending some quality time with an old friend. A friend named Ny-Quil. Ny-Quil doesn't come around often, but when it does, it helps out in so many ways. Mostly with the sleep. Okay, that's about it. Just the sleep. But it's nice to know it's there.

I promise a better blog post tomorrow, when, hopefully, I'll be feeling a little better.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sending Mail

Yesterday I had to go to the post office to send off some mail. But it was late in the afternoon on a Saturday, so this meant the excitement of dropping off at the drive-up mailbox.

So I drove up. And I pulled in behind another citizen using the U.S. Postal Service. And I sat there. He was just parked there in front of the box having a conversation with his significant other in the passenger seat. I really wanted to yell at them, "Just drop the mail in the box! It's not like you're deciding what drink you want with your combo meal!"

Ladies and gentlemen, when you're going to drop mail off in the drive-up box, just slide your letter into the slot and go. Really shouldn't take much time.

Also, I learned not to go to Target on Saturday afternoons. That place was packed. You'd think a storm was coming.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode III

My first actual day on the job. I went into the branch this morning and, at first, I thought I would just be sitting around doing nothing. I had no employee ID, no log-in password, no way to have a cash drawer of my very own. Therefore, I would have no way to perform even the simplest of transactions.

But then it happened, I got to count in and do some real work. Thus, a slow day became a work day. I was cashing checks, making deposits, dropping off some mortgage payments. I think I did a pretty good job for my first day. Granted, I didn't get any referrals under my belt, but I balanced.

If you've never worked in the banking industry, then you don't know the joy that comes from being in balance. Nor do you know the anxiety of the moments during the cash count. It's a crazy roller coaster of emotions. Next week I'll be somewhere else for more training. Then I'll finally be in my regular workplace doing my regular job. I feel like I've waited so long for this job to finally start.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A New Semester

Today classes began again. After a very long break, I'm back in school. True, this break wasn't as long as my previous break between classes (between May '03 and August '07). But I did get used to having the majority of my days all to myself with plenty of time on my hands.

I'm gonna miss those days.

They'll come again. Summer is only four months away.

In the meantime, I'll have 12 hours of classes to occupy myself. That basically translates to four classes and lots of reading. Though I do hope to make time for plenty more Call of Duty at the Greene's. Gotta have priorities, right?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This Is Very Upsetting

Before you read my post today, click on this link. But be sure to come back to see the rest.

Okay, did you see that? Can you see why I think it's upsetting?

I've heard of this sort of thing before. People who picket with signs screaming "God Hates Fags" up and down the street. And we wonder why people look at the church with such a horrible attitude.

My question to the people of Westboro Baptist Church is, what god are you serving? The God I know does not hate people. The God I know loved us enough, loved me enough to leave Heaven and live life as a man for the sole purpose of dying as a sacrifice for our sins. For my sins.

How is it possible to know the love of God if all you harbor in your heart is hatred for others? After religious leaders of the day asked Christ why he ate and drank with "sinners" Luke 5:31-32 says, "Jesus answered them, 'It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

I'll be honest, I strongly disagree with the homosexual lifestyle. I do believe that it is a sin. But you know what? I'm a sinner too. No, I don't struggle with homosexuality, but I have other struggles. Sin is sin. You and I may look at other people's lives and pass judgment, saying that they're worse or better people than we are. God doesn't look at the murderer and see a worse sinner than the man who swiped someone's wallet or the woman who lost her temper and said a few things she didn't really mean. God looks at us and sees lost people who are desperate for a relationship with Him. And He offers us a way to have that relationship.

Heath Ledger was a sinner, just like the rest of us. The group from Westboro Baptist Church has decided that he is now suffering an eternal torment in Hell. Folks, that's not for them to decide. That was up to Heath, based on his decision for or against Christ. If you are reading this blog and have not made that decision, don't wait. If you want to have a relationship with Christ, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me through this blog, or talk to someone you know is a true follower of Christ. Believe me, He wants a relationship with you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

An Actor's Tale

A friend called me earlier to tell me that Heath Ledger had been found dead in his New York apartment. He was 28 years old.

Heath Ledger was in some pretty outstanding movies. 10 Things I Hate About You is one of those great, teen-angst films that gets spoofed a lot, but still, great modern telling of "The Taming of the Shrew." The Patriot was awesome. And A Knight's Tale might just be in my personal top 10.

He had recently filmed The Dark Knight. No, not the sequel to A Knight's Tale, the sequel to Batman Begins. He played one of the world's most recognizable bad guys, and a reason why many people fear clowns, the Joker. Honestly, upon hearing the news, the first thing that came to mind was, "Did they finish filming all his scenes?" Kind of selfish, I know, but that's just where my mind went.

Monday, January 21, 2008


The Greene's have 5 children. Not 4, as previously stated.

I'm back at my house now after two and a half days at the Greenehouse. I had a great time this weekend and want to thank them for the chance to do laundry and for the many meals they fed me. And for the several bruises received on my lower legs, I thank the Greene children.

More to come...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Eating Crow, or How I Got Snowed In at the Greene's

So, remember how I said I didn't think it would snow? Not even a little bit? Well, I was kind of wrong. It did snow. A little bit. Very little.

I'm thinking maybe half an inch. A solid quarter inch, definitely. But I had made plans to get "snowed in" at the Greenehouse before anything ever hit. We figured, if there was a chance that the snows would come, it would be more fun for me to get stuck at their house than it would be for me to get stuck at my house.

Don't get me wrong, I mean, I do have the Wii, and I had plenty of bread and milk to hold me through winter storm '08. But I just wouldn't have had all that fun that I would have hanging out with the four kids. The kids keep asking why I don't spend the night here all the time. I have my reasons.

So what did we do to pass the time and overcome cabin fever? Playstation 3, that's what. This morning we woke to clear roads and sunny skies. We had church, we had lunch, we napped while watching King Kong in high def. Good weekend.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Until then I'll be chilling at the Greenehouse watching The Amazing Race and playing a little Call of Duty. Good night everybody!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another Let Down

All week the fine meteorologists in the greater Raleigh area have been promising snow and/or ice. First they called for it on Thursday. They were calling for such bad weather, there was a question that we may not have teller training that day. You really can't get a lot of ice when the high is 47 degrees. So we got some much needed rain, but that's about it.

Thursday night, on the evening news, they promised several inches of accumulated snow on Saturday. Now, I've always argued that weather forecasters can't predict more than a few hours, maybe a full day at the most. So to claim 1-3 inches of snow two days in the future is pretty much a stretch. Today is Saturday, and no snow.

I've almost resigned myself to not expect any snow during my North Carolina years. I miss snow. I miss the kind of snow I saw annually in Bluefield. I miss wrapping myself up in layers of clothes and desperately trying to find my misplaced snow boots so I could go out and sled down the hill behind the dorm. Good times.


I know I'm late again. But I happen to know that I have a couple readers who live in places where it's not quite Saturday yet. Therefore, on the west coast, it's still Friday, so I think I'm still in the clear.

Tonight I went with the Greene grown-ups to see the enigmatic Cloverfield. Of course, since it is rated PG-13, the theater was packed with teenagers. In fact, Nicole pointed out that the place had the distinct smell of teenagers. That awkward smell at that awkward stage in life where they haven't quite figured out how to really take care of body odor, they just attempt to douse the smell with gallons of cologne and perfume. Yeah, it smelled a little like high school.

The movie itself was interesting. Before we went in, we were made aware of the length of the film being only 1 hour and 24 minutes. That seems kind of short. About 10 minutes into it I realized why it was so short. Because if it was much longer you would have tons of people dealing with motion sickness. Remember The Blair Witch Project? Remember how shaky it was when they would run through the woods? That's kinda what this was like, except replace the trees with skyscrapers.

So what would you do if you were at some guy's going away party, and the city was suddenly attacked by some ridiculously huge monster? Would you freak out? Try to get away as soon and as quickly as possible? That would do it for me. Would you continue video taping everything you do to try to survive? I'd drop the stupid camera and get the heck outta dodge.

Throughout the movie, I couldn't help laughing at certain things. And I felt like I was the only one laughing. It's not a comedy, so I probably shouldn't have been laughing. But Hud, the character who was also the cameraman, kept falling down. I guess falling is easy to do when you're trying to run and film at the same time.

The whole thing was still pretty mysterious, even after seeing it. I mean, things are clearer now than they were at the end of the initial teaser trailer. Statue of Liberty head crashing in the street kind of grabs your attention. But after seeing the whole thing, one is still left wondering where the creature(s) came from. Honestly, the plot is interchangeable. It could've been a monster, it could've been a terrorist attack. The point of the picture wasn't what was attacking the city. It was about these people trying their best to make it through the night.

All in all, not a bad time. I had a good day.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode II

Today, during training, we practiced doing transactions for fake people. At one point we had a deposit for a fictional client who lived on Marconi Dr.

This made me laugh. Because Marconi plays the Mamba. Listen to the radio. Don't you remember? We built this city; we built this city on rock and roll...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American Idol: Dallas

So now we're in Kelly Clarkson's hometown, Dallas, Texas. Apparently, a girl went into labor waiting for her audition time. She named her daughter Idol. Are you kidding me? New format in the Idol blog tonight. I'll run down each of the contestants as they perform and attach my thoughts to each. Let me know what you think. And when I say that, I mean, leave a comment letting me know which format you like best. So, without further ado...

Jessica Brown - 24; I'll Stand By You, The Pretenders
We begin with Jessica's backstory involving a past as a drug addict. Happily, she's fully recovered with a good looking family. She has a strong voice. A lot of country twang, but hey, it's Texas. She'll get through to Hollywood for sure. She's another singer who will likely need to step up her game at the next level, but she's definitely got the talent and potential.

Paul Stafford - 25; Wait For You, Elliot Yamin
This guy is a park attendant. In the background we're playing some music that you'd expect to hear in a Goofy cartoon. And then Ryan gets him to "bust a move." And the voice was just a little worse than his dancing. Simon needs to cut him off before he hurts himself. The judges like him as a person though. They have really tuned down the cynicism and the sarcasm and the overall meanness this season. It seems that American Idol is yet another victim of our touchy-feely society that doesn't want to hurt people's feelings.

Beth Maddox - 18; Beautiful Disaster, Kelly Clarkson
She wants to be like Kelly Clarkson. Beth is a singing waitress at a fondue joint. Kelly Clarkson she's not. The song was a disaster, but not beautiful. Don't quit your day job kid. Actually, if you're a singing waitress, maybe you should move on to just the waitress part.

Esteban Deanda - 20; pretty much a bunch of "yeahs"
Simon: "It was atrocious."

Victoria Metz - 23
Really, let me say, bad.

Drucilla Wideman - 16
What key is she supposed to be singing in?

Alaina Whitaker - 16; Stronger, Faith Hill
A Carrie Underwood wannabe. She's actually very good. She has an incredible voice, especially considering her young age. The judges are full of compliments, but also constructive criticisms. They know she can take it. They know she's talented. She's on to Hollywood.

Gregory & Mia Tobias - 18 & 16
Ah, the ever inspiring sibling act. Has this ever worked out for American Idol? Let's think about Sanjaya and his sister last year. They both made it to Hollywood, but only Sanjaya made it further (How? We may never know). But I remember their auditions last year, and I remember thinking they were decent, deserving of a shot at the next round. These two? Not so much. Randy looks like he's in pain. Simon is dumbstruck. No one said a word. All it took was a stare, and I think that conveyed the message.

Bruce Dickson - 19; Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone
Never kissed a girl. Wants to save it all for the wedding day. I think he's got a good voice. But the judges pass on him. Poor guy. But he's young, he's got room for improvement.

Pia "Zpia" Easley - 24; I've Got to Use My Imagination, Gladys Knight
Model, musician, background singer. Not bad. I'm having a hard time judging the judges expressions. Simon likes her: "You're interesting." So does Paula. So does Randy. Zpia is Hollywood material.

Brandon Green - 21; She's a Rich Girl, Hall & Oates
Dude collects his fingernails. And he carries them around in a baggy with him. I'm a little disgusted right now. That reminds me, I need to cut my fingernails. Despite his strange habit, he actually has a decent voice. This shows that even the weird guys can have some talent. Simon says he's forgettable. Paula likes him. Randy says he's a little nasal, but he makes two out of three for a yes vote.

He nailed his audition. (Corny joke courtesy of Seacrest.)

Kayla Hatfield - 24; Take Another Piece of My Heart, Janis Joplin
Now we have another backstory. This girl was in a horrible car accident, but has a fantastic attitude about life. Sadly, I don't think she's gonna get through. I say that but I haven't even heard her sing yet. Sometimes when they tell the backstory you can just sense that something's missing. Her actual audition was really not good. This is my opinion. Simon gave her a yes. But Paula's saying no. I don't think I've ever seen Simon say yes and Paula say no. But Randy said yes also. 2 out of 3 is a win. But do I think she'll make it anywhere after that first night in Hollywood? No I do not.

Erick Mauldin - 21
Simon: "You sound like your 7."

Charles Markham - 21
Simon: "That was also atrocious, unfortunately."

Tristan Clements - 18
Simon: "Creepy."

Katie Malloy - 18; Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers
Enter the hot girl. She does "vocal impressions" of Shakira, Britney Spears, and others. The judges want to hear Katie, not an impersonation. She is fantastic. She obviously has amazing control of her voice. Simon thinks she's the best they've seen this season. But it's hard to tell at what point Dallas falls in the real life schedule. I mean, it is the second night on TV, but it could've been the 5th audition city scheduled.

Moving on to Day 2 in Dallas...

Douglas Davidson - 27; Livin' on a Prayer, Bon Jovi
He looks a little like a slightly overweight Dwight. He speaks really softly because he doesn't want to strain his voice. He asks the judges to let him warm up before his performance. Little scary. Actual performance: lot scary. Apparently he didn't save his voice enough at all. Maybe he should continue not talking. Or singing. Also, he's got pit stains. The judges keep trying to cut him off, but he just keeps going. He keeps alternating between his warm ups and the actual song. And his arms keep spasming in front of his chest. Here comes security. See ya Dougie.

Angela Reilly - Baby Love, The Supremes
Angela's a newlywed, married to a professional model. She brings him into the audition to show him off. She can't sing at all. Good thing they're both pretty, 'cause apparently they're both tone-deaf. Chad (the husband) gets a lot of blank expressions on his face. She sings another song, also bad.

Kyle Ensley - 21; Somebody to Love, Queen
What's up with this guy's politicking and speechifying? Nice how they turn his pre-audition into a political commercial. Some pitch problems, a little flat there at the end. Simon summed it up for me, not as bad as I thought he would be. I think this guy deserves a shot at the next level. Paula's the deciding vote... and he's going to Hollywood. Congratulations Mr. Ensley.

Tammy Tuzinski - 24; The Power of Love, Celine Dion
But then she sang If You Asked Me. Zero. Personality. Seriously, I smile more than this chick. Also, zero talent. She thinks she gave it her best shot. She's spot on with what the judges are gonna say. She thinks they'll say no. And they did. What is this girl, a freakin' cyborg? She doesn't get happy, she doesn't get sad, she just runs program.

Colton Swon - 18; Boondocks, Little Big Town
He's in a band with his brother. A lot of times when people mention that, it could mean anything. And usually it means they only play in their garage. This guy actually did a good job. Nothing outstanding, but I think he's good enough to go to the next round. Three yeses. He thought he be clever by hiding his golden ticket and tricking his parents. Funny guy, Colton.

Drew Poppelreiter - 24; Check Yes or No, George Strait
We've got a farmer here folks. He sings on his tractor out in the hayfields. He doesn't have a bad voice, but I don't think he would be very versatile. Country he can do, but when it comes to stretching himself during the competition, I don't think he'll be able to get anywhere with it. But they let him through.

Kyle Rennick - 20; Never Again, Kelly Clarkson
Dude's wearing eyeliner. I know Daughtry did that a few times when he was on Idol, but not at the audition. Can't say I stood behind the eyeliner when he did it either though. When you hear him talk, he doesn't sound like a "rocker." And I'm not sure, but he may be wearing some sort of make up on the cheeks. But his entire face is really shiny. Not sure what's up with this guy. And then he sings, and I really don't think it's that good. I really don't think it's even a little good. He's all over the place.

Nina Shaw - 24; Run to You, Whitney Houston
Nina's from the same town as Kelly Clarkson. Is that a good omen? I don't think it is. I'm not a fan of her. Randy likes her. Simon disagrees. Paula says she shows promise. I really don't think she'll hit the top 24.

Renaldo Lapuz - 44; singing an original song
His hat is made of feathers. And he has a silver, flowing cape. And apparently he worships Simon. Obviously, at his age, he won't be going to Hollywood. Obviously, hearing him sing wouldn't cause them to change the rules. I'll give him this, he puts his heart into the song. Good times. At least they're having fun. It must be the end of the Dallas auditions.

24 people are going to Hollywood from Dallas. My picks from Dallas to go on to the next level are Maria Whitaker, Katie Malloy, and Colton Swon. Again, it's early and there are five more audition sites to go, so it's really hard to tell who will go where from this point. Next week we'll see what happened in San Diego.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

American Idol: Philadelphia

In this age of writers' strikes and a lack of scripted television, it's nice to welcome American Idol back to the small screen. And as always, the first few weeks worth of episodes are the guilty pleasure shows, full of the people you love to hate. Or hate to love. The ones that literally make you cringe when they open their mouths. The ones that send chills down your spine, and not in a good way. But among the costumed freaks with delusions of grandeur, there are always a few diamonds in the rough.

One of my favorite parts of watching American Idol is predicting who will make it and who won't. Now, at this point, it's impossible to guess which of the singers will be in the top 12. But we'll get there eventually. For now, I just want to pick the few that I think will actually make it past the first week in Hollywood.

They sent 29 people through to the next round, but they obviously couldn't show all of the winning auditions. But of the ones they showed, there are three that stand out for me. First is Angela Martin who sang Stevie Wonder's Signed, Sealed, Delivered. She seems like a really sweet girl and she's got a good voice. But she will have to step it up when she gets to Hollywood.

Next is Kristy Lee Cook who sang Amazing Grace. The song choice alone gives her bonus points in my book. She has a fantastic voice. I'm fairly confident that she'll at least make top 24, possibly top 12. Again, hard to predict on the first night. There could be people in Dallas tomorrow night that blow her out of the water.

Finally we have Chris Watson singing Uncle Kracker's Follow Me. This guy has a really good voice and a good look for American Idol. Of the guys tonight, I think he was the best. Another top 24.

See you tomorrow night for the Dallas auditions.

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode I

I'm in training all week. All kinds of fun. The training isn't happening at the branch I'll be working at. Instead, I have to drive into Raleigh, which isn't too far, it's just important to the story. On a good day it takes about 20 minutes to get there. Today was not a good day.

I left my house at the same time I did yesterday and last Thursday. I figure if I leave at 8:15, that gives me a good 45 minutes to make up for traffic. In fact, yesterday I got there 15 minutes early and stopped for a drink on the way. Today I was 15 minutes late.

I was driving along, and then I wasn't. For about half an hour I was stuck behind a truck going an average of 3 miles per hour. But I don't blame that driver, I blame all the idiot drivers who decided to slow down and get a real good look at the fender bender on the other side of the highway. It was a small accident that should not have effected my side of the road, there's a median seperating the lanes. And yet...

But, finally, after we passed that wreck, everyone sped back up. Amazing coincidence?

So I'm pretty sure I make a great impression by showing up to the third day of training 15 minutes late.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Mobile Contradiction

Today as I was driving home I saw a van on the road. There were a few random attachments on the back. Bumper stickers, window clings, etc.

What struck me as odd was that one side had the outline of a fish, a Christian symbol. The other side had a bumper sticker that said "WTF?" Do you know what these letters stand for? The W is "what," the T is "the," and you can assume what you will about the F, 'cause I certainly won't write it on here.

Knowing that information, do you agree that this is a contradiction? Maybe I'm being judgmental, but that's just what hit me as I was sitting at the stop light.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dave Barry's Pearls of Wisdom

I read these today and thought they were good enough to repost. These are "Things it took me over 50 years to learn" by Dave Barry.

1. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

2. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

3. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

4. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

5. You should not confuse your career with your life.

6. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

7. Never lick a steak knife.

8. The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

9. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight savings time.

10. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests that you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

11. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is age eleven.

12. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

13. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person. (This is very important. Pay attention. It never fails.)

14. Your friends love you anyway.

15. Never be afraid to try something new. Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of skilled professionals built the Titanic.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Die Hard 2 Thoughts

Last night I had a fit of insomnia, so I began watching the original Die Hard trilogy. I made it about halfway through Die Hard 2 before sleep finally took me. But I was awake long enough to be disturbed by one small thing.

At one point in the movie, the naked colonel who has taken over Dulles International Airport warns the control tower not to attempt to regain control. He told them the consequences would be dire. Well, of course the tower attempted to regain control. Their attempt was unsuccessful. Thus, they had to be punished. In order to exercise his power, the naked colonel decided to crash a plane. He disguised himself as an air traffic controller and brought a 747 in for a landing, but changed the computer readout to make them think they were 200 feet higher than they really were. This meant they would hit the ground before they were ready for it. This meant they would crash. Of course, this is what happened, the plane exploded in a fine display of pyrotechnic special effects, and there were no survivors.

What bothers me is that the pilot of that plane mentioned they had been circling Dulles and running on "petrol fumes." So, when the plane crashed, would it really have become a spectacular fireball on the runway? I could see this happening if it were fully fueled for another trip across the pond. But they were nearly out of fuel. I figure you should have some pretty serious wreckage and plenty of survivors, not a horrible fiery death for all aboard.

I think that plane's demise was preordained. I think that the black box would've confirmed that there was some sort of incindiary device aboard that airplane. I just they were able to recover that black box.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mrs. Spider-Man, No More!

Have you heard about this yet? Peter Parker, better known in most circles as Spider-Man, and his wife of 20 years, Mary Jane Watson, are no longer married. They didn't get divorced, no, that would make too much sense. Instead, the marriage never occurred. It's as if the last 20 years never happened. The marriage was erased from existence in the Marvel Universe.

I don't keep up with Spider-Man comics, but the gist of it is this: Peter's Aunt May was dying, so he and MJ made a deal with the devil (or Marvel's equivalent of the devil) to save her life. But to do this, they had to sacrifice the memory of their marriage. Does this make sense to anyone? 'Cause to me, it seems a little dumb. I mean, if you, as a creator, want your superhero to be single, why not find a conventional way to do so. Write them through a divorce. That's full of all kinds of emotional turmoil, something we know Spider-Man has plenty of. Or how about killing Mary Jane off? I mean, that's what they did with Gwen Stacy way back in the day.

Erasing Spidey's marriage to Mary Jane Watson. What's next? Killing Superman? Oh, wait...

If you want to read the article, click here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Olfactory Sense

You know that smell that often hits you in the face when you walk into a college dormitory? Especially a men's dorm? I don't know how to explain it, other than to say it just smells like dude. I realized today that my house has started to smell like that. It's not because I'm dirty or non-hygienic, I guess it just happens. And before today I didn't own any air fresheners.

So while I was at Target today I went all out. I was just going to get some batteries, but I decided to do something about that locker room smell that sometimes hits my nose. I started with some generic, Target brand Fabreze. Then I saw that the AirWick automatic air fresheners were on sale. $5.00 a piece isn't bad. So now my bathroom smells like apple-cinnamon and the living room smells like fresh linens.

This is a vast improvement. You'll notice no one ever makes a candle with an "Old Sweat Suit" scent.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pow- Pow- Power Chair

I tried to find the video somewhere online, but I couldn't find it. If you want to see what I'm talking about, just watch The Price Is Right tomorrow. It's a commercial they show every day, probably more than once during that hour. It's an ad for The Scooter Store.

You know, it's one of those motorized chairs that people with "limited mobility" can get and it "doesn't cost them one penny." Like the Hoveround where the old ladies are at the Grand Canyon. Except this commercial just shows the Scooter being delivered to this elderly lady.

My favorite part is where she starts doing donuts in the living room.

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Am Legend... Again

I know I already wrote a stellar review of this film. But some things hit me as I was sitting in church yesterday. I'm not sure how, but something the pastor mentioned got me thinking about the movie. Now, be warned, this post will have real spoilers involving the climax of the film. This means that if you haven't seen it, you'll want to skip this blog post until you see it. On the other hand, you could continue to read and then go into the theater knowing exactly what happens, thus cheapening your experience and ruining the fact that you just paid $8.00 for a movie that you know the ending to. Seriously, the next paragraph is full of intimate details...

Okay, not this one, but the next one. Really, you've been warned.

Are the unspoiled masses gone? Good, it's just the two of us. I love God. And I love movies. So I like to find God in the movies. And there are a lot of movies out there that are great illustrations of biblical truths. Sort of like modern day parables. Jesus taught people through the stories that he told. They were stories that the people of the day could get a handle on. These days, stories are told with those moving, talking pictures. It's a medium that we can get a handle on. Watch movies like The Matrix or Bruce Almighty and you'll see what I'm talking about. God created this world, and I firmly believe that He can be found everywhere.

I Am Legend shows us a picture of Christ at the very end. It's possible that portrait is painted throughout the movie, I'd have to see it again. For now, I just want to focus on Will Smith's last scene. He and a normal woman and child are being chased into his basement laboratory by the zombie/vampire creatures. While trying to escape with their lives, they notice that the zombie/vampire female that he captured earlier isn't so much a zombie/vampire anymore. This is all thanks to a cure that he had developed using the immunity in his own blood. The horde of zombie/vampires pour in. The good doctor draws a vial of his own blood. He gives it to the woman, then makes sure she and the child get out through the coal shute. He realizes that he needs to stay behind to stop the advance of the zombie/vampires so the other two can escape. This means he has to die. Which he does. Heroically.

If you're a Christian, I hope you're able to see Jesus in those actions. If you're not a Christian, I hope you're able to see Jesus in those actions after my next few lines. Christ's blood is the only thing that could have saved us from our sins. His sacrifice has allowed us to have life, to have passage into Heaven. Christ was crucified by the very people He was here to save. Are you seeing the parallels? Robert (Smith's character) had the cure to the disease in his blood. Imagine that the disease is sin. He knows that in the end he has to sacrifice himself so his blood could cure the masses. He's killed by the very people he's trying to save.

There will be those that will say I'm reading into things, I'm seeing what I want to see in this movie. Maybe I am. But I really think it's a good way to look at the world. Seeing God all around us is a good thing. Knowing that He's in everything we see and do is a great thing. It's a comfort. If you're reading this and you don't know the kind of peace that I'm talking about, please don't hesitate to e-mail me or find a believer that you know. So, to you in cyberspace, God bless.

A Mastery of Sarcasm

I know I'm late. I resolved to post on this blog daily this year. And here it is, 2 AM on January 7th. Meaning that I, technically, did not post on the 6th. Well, here's my reason: I got up this morning, went to church, out to lunch, then to the Greene-House. And I just got home about five minutes ago. So I post now. And I'll post again later. So it's like getting posts on the 6th and 7th. Does that suit everyone? Both of you? Good.

So let me tell a story about going to the Greene-House yesterday. I got there, expecting to enjoy an evening of Playstation karaoke or Call of Duty. Since Nicole was doing laundry for the family, I joked with her saying I should've brought my dirty clothes. So she said I should have. Then she insisted that I go back home, get my laundry, bring it back and do it while we played games. She said it's better than having to go to a laundromat. And I have to agree. But, being the smart aleck I typically am, I made the remark that I'd have to drive all the way back to Wake Forest (which is about 2 miles from Youngsville).

After I left, the oldest Greene kid said, "He lives in Wake Forest?"

Nicole said, "Yes, near the seminary."

"But Mommy, Wake Forest isn't that far away," Oldest said.

"Yeah, that was sarcasm."

"But he wasn't smiling."

Nicole then said, "Yeah, that was real sarcasm."

Yeah... real sarcasm. See you later today kids.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Tales from the Qwik Pack & Ship - Chapter 7

This may be my last entry regarding the Qwik Pack & Ship. I'm not sad about that. Not even a little bit. It's not that I haven't enjoyed this job. It's just that it's amazing how boring this little shop can be 92% of the time.

I leave you with my final observations from the Qwik Pack & Ship. Have I mentioned before that UPS and FedEx do not deliver to PO Boxes? I'm not sure if I have or not. Really this stuff runs together. Today I had another instance of someone trying to FedEx a letter to a PO Box. As the employee who inputs the information into the system, I don't look at the shipping address until well after the customer leaves. There's a reason for that, which I'll get to in a moment.

Shouldn't it be logical that conglomerations like FedEx and UPS would refuse to deliever to the Post Office? I mean, the Post Office is essentially their competition. I think if I were the owner of Pizza Hut, I'd be a little upset to find out that my employees were having Domino's delivered to the house on the weekends. I'm sure that happens all the time, but you see what I'm saying?

Now, why would I wait until the customer leaves to enter the shipping information into the FedEx (or UPS) system? It's strictly because of the listed cost of shipping. I know I've mentioned before that we mark everything up. That's what stores do, it's how they make a profit. So if I were to charge the customer $23.50 to overnight a letter, and then he or she were to see that our actual cost for shipping is only about $12.00, that may lead the customer to become angry and/or confused.

Then I'd have to try to explain what it means to make a profit in this free enterprise economy. Those DVDs you buy from Circuit City? They really only cost a couple bucks, yet you happily fork over 20 for each of them. Happy shopping kids. And happy shipping. From here on, you're on your own.

Friday, January 04, 2008

A New Job

Ladies and gentlemen, for 2008, I will be working in a new place. Today I was offered a position as a part-time teller at [Company Name Redacted] Bank. I guess this means my Tales From the Qwik Pack and Ship will soon be replaced by Legends of the Bank Teller. I think that has a nice ring to it.

First I have to pass a drug test and sit through a week of training. Fingers crossed everyone!

(I'm really not worried about the drug test though. Really.)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Old School Nintendo

One of the great things about the Nintendo Wii as the Virtual Console. This is the device that allows you to go online and download classic Nintendo games. Thus far, I've downloaded all of the old Super Mario games as well as the classic Zeldas and Metroids. Great stuff.

Anybody remember playing Super Mario Bros. 3? I remember seeing it and being in awe as a kid. There was this old Fred Savage movie, The Wizard, about a kid who had a knack for video games. At the end of the film, while he was playing in the video game tournament finals, America was introduced to Super Mario 3. If it's possible to geek out as a 9 year old, I did.

Then the actual game came out. After a few months of saving up my allowance, I finally bought what could've been the greatest video game of all time (at the time). And something that was great was that I had a subscription to Nintendo Power magazine. This meant that I got a strategy guide to Super Mario Bros. 3. This means I memorized that sucker. I knew everything about that game. I knew where all the enemies were, where all the coins were, where all the hidden 1-up mushrooms were hiding. That was then.

This is now. I downloaded Super Mario 3 the other day. I really don't remember it being as hard as it is. I mean, really difficult. Don't get me wrong, I beat it. But I did so by making my way through all 8 worlds and every stage. There were a few times I got fed up and quit playing. But the plus side to this new fangled Wii thing is that you can save your games. I remember when games didn't have those awesome save features.

When Jen was in town we were giving her niece a hard time when she complained about how hard New Super Mario Bros. for DS is. "Yeah, you've got it so rough with your save files." That's right, when I was a kid, it was all or nothing. You start with three lives and if you were lucky, you got some continues. But for most games you die and that's it, game over. And if you want to quit and come back to it later, too bad. You can't save and play later. You have to hit pause and leave the game on, which I was always told is bad for the Nintendo. So to you kids out there who play your brand new PS3s and XBoxes, don't take that hard drive for granted.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

I Am Legend

Yesterday afternoon I decided to take in a movie. The only movie out that really caught my attention was I Am Legend, with Will Smith. Don’t get me wrong, National Treasure: Book of Secrets caught my attention too, but I’ve already seen it twice.

So I hit the matinee expecting a sparse crowd. But wait, it’s New Year’s Day. Lots of people are off work. And what to people do when they have a day off? They go to the movies. Kinda like what I did.

Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good movie. The plot, while slightly predictable, was interesting. And while Will Smith does not consider himself a great actor, I think this film displays just how good he can be.

If you haven’t seen the previews, then you probably don’t know that it’s about a man who believes he’s the last on earth. Why would someone believe this? ‘Cause there’s no one around. After a virus kills most of the people, then transforms the rest into crazy-rabid-mutants, Smith’s character spends three years with a dog as his only company.

What would you do if you were the only normal human being left? Me, I like my alone time, but that’s pushing it. I guess, technically, you could have human contact any time you want it. But only if you want to go into the pitch dark places where the crazy-rabid-mutants hide out during the day. And if you want to get eaten. I think the Fresh Prince made a pretty good go of things in his post-apocalyptic world.

Overall I found this movie very entertaining. Go see it if you get the chance. If not, see the DVD in a few months.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

So, Where Were You At Midnight?

I was asleep. That's right.

All of you out there who were living it up and partying into the wee hours of the morning, I was sleeping soundly on the couch in my living room.

I had no parties to attend, no friends to count down with, no girl to kiss at the beginning of 2008. For most of yesterday I wondered what I should do to celebrate the New Year. For most of the day, I couldn't come up with a single thing.

Then around 8, I thought about a movie marathon. But not just any movie marathon. Star Wars. I thought it was a pretty good idea. And if you're a raging geek, like myself, you'll think it was a pretty good idea too. The part I didn't think about was how tired I actually was. No reason to be tired, just a week or so of staying up late and waking up early finally catching up to me. So last night, I didn't even make it through Episode II.

Not like I haven't seen it before.

But as I sat through the end of Phantom Menace (say what you will about Episode I, that was a friggin' awesome lightsaber fight), I realized that there was no way Obi-Wan should've won that fight against Darth Maul. Brace yourselves, I'm going into full geek mode now. At the end of Episode III, when Obi-Wan beats Vader, he does so claiming that he has the high ground, that there's no way for Vader to beat him. Take a second to think about the position Obi-Wan is in at the end of Phantom Menace. He's dangling over a bottomless pit, weaponless, with the enemy standing directly above him. And yet, he is able to pull him self out, flip over Maul, pull his fallen master's saber, and cut the bad guy in half. Using the logic from Revenge of the Sith, Maul had the higher ground, thus, there was no way Kenobi should've won that fight.

Wow, I really did get my geek on. See you tomorrow.