Saturday, February 28, 2009

Soda Jerk

This past week, the good people of the world celebrated Mardi Gras, followed immediately by Ash Wednesday. Now, for those of you who are unaware, Ash Wednesday ushers in the 40 day period of time known to Catholics and several Protestant denominations as Lent.

As a born and raised Baptist, Lent was not something to which I was accustomed growing up. It's just not one of those traditions that you find many Baptists following, unlike the business meeting and the potluck dinner. But during my senior year of college, I found out that my church back home was challenging its congregation to give something up for Lent.

Now, as I understand it, Lent is a symbollic way to identify with Christ. As Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert in preparation for His ministry, so we spend 40 days fasting from something in our own lives in preparation for Easter. And I invite any of my Catholic friends to correct me if I'm wrong. So Lent is the time when we attempt to sacrifice some form of comfort in our lives in order to strengthen our relationship with God.

Each year since that college year, I have toyed with the idea of giving up something for Lent. But I never do. But this year I decided to give it a shot. I chose to eliminate fast food and sodas from my daily life. My reasoning is that I rely way too heavily on fast food and caffeine to make it through my day. Those fast food joints are just so convenient when I need a quick bite to eat. And I really don't need to explain the hold that caffeine has on so many people. It's an addiction. There should really be a 12-step program for it.

We are now three days into Lent. Losing the McDonald's and the Wendy's hasn't been much of a struggle. It's crossed my mind to hit a drive-thru a time or two, but I've resisted. However, the lack of soda has been kickin' my butt.

Here's the thing, when you quit caffeine cold turkey, you get headaches. Now, I'm used to headaches. I get them quite often. I even get migraines every now and again. And usually I take something for them. But I have a thing about taking pills. Here's where you can really start making fun of me.

I hate swallowing pills. I don't think I've ever been able to comfortably do such a thing. So when I have a headache, I'm usually pretty reluctant to take anything. I know it's all mental, but it's a problem. Another problem is that when I do finally break down and take a pain pill, I'm so used to chasing it with a carbonated beverage, that doing it with just water doesn't quite cut it. Ridiculous, right? I told you, it's a mental block.

Despite the fact that it's a psychological issue, it sure feels like a physical one. My throat involuntarily closes up and it feels like I'm choking down the Advil.

Another issue with the lack of caffeine is the early bedtimes. I was in bed asleep by 8:30. That's crazy. Of course I woke up at 4am completely rested... with a headache.

So I made the decision at 4am to stop this no sodas nonsense. I didn't want to. For the last couple days I've been debating whether or not to give up on giving up. I didn't want to quit. I've quit jobs, I've quit schools. Guess I have some kind of fear of commitment.

When I was telling the Greenes last week that I was thinking of doing this stuff for Lent, Nicole said she didn't think I could do it. Really wanted to, just to prove a point. Well guess what Nicole. You were right. For once.

So I'm still going to avoid the fast food places. But I'm back on the caffeinated carbonated beverages. I'll limit myself though. Maybe one drink per day. Just to help stave off those headaches. I don't think God will expel me from Heaven for drinking Coke.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Question of the Week: Fight Club

When were you last in a fight? What caused it and who won?

I think I was in 5th grade. It was the only real fight I've ever been in. And it wasn't so much a fight as it was me getting beat up. By a girl. That's right, I got beat up by a girl. Now, I would never be so foolish as to claim that I could win in a fight against pretty much anyone. But it is a little embarrassing to admit that a girl kicked my butt in the 5th grade. Though, in my defense, this chick was huge. She had to have been held back a couple times. I don't mean that she was fat, it wasn't like that. I'm saying that she was built like a freakin' lumberjack. She was a good foot taller than I, and she looked like she always had football pads on under her clothes. Like I said, huge. We walked into the classroom one morning and saw that Miss Barlow had rearranged the desks and completely messed with the assigned seating. This girl, who we'll call Stephanie ('cause that's her name), made a smart remark about having to sit next to me. Thinking it was all just playful banter, I came up with a complaint of my own that sent her off the deep end. What was said, I'm really not sure. But I'm fairly certain whatever I said was much more laugh-inducing, and most likely at the expense of her own pride. I guess she could dish out the insults but then couldn't take them. I learned an important lesson that day. If you're going to make fun of a lumberjack, male or female, you better be sure to get a good enough head start so they can't catch up to you, then punch you, then kick you in the stomach. Oh, and don't try to fight back, 'cause that just makes her kick you some more. It's like Jack Handey says, "Before you go to criticize someone, be sure to walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away, and you have their shoes."

Now that my masculinity has been called into question, I'm gonna go into hiding for awhile. Change my name to Larry Singleton...

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

American Idol - Top 36, Week 2 Results

We begin with the traditional tongue in cheek banter between Simon and Ryan, then quickly move on to the obligatory recap of where this group of 12 has come from and what they've been through thus far.

As a group, they perform Closer. As a group, they're not bad. In the close-ups, however, you can read the lips and see the missed lyrics.

Next we get to rehash the debacle that was last night's episode. I'm never sure why they show this recap stuff. The votes are already tallied. We can't rewatch the clips that they're showing us and then change our minds about who we chose to vote for.

We are reminded that Danny, Alexis, and Michael are all in the top 12. Then Seacrest calls Allison to the stage. As the first one called on, this usually means the kiss of death. Doesn't look good for me since she's one of the ones I picked to be top three. Man, I must be slipping. Allison is asked to stand to the side and Jesse is called over. Jesse then stands next to Allison. Matt B. is then invited to center stage. He then goes to stand with the ladies. One of these three will be in the top 12. HA! I was right! So far I'm one for one!

Allison sings Alone once again as we head to commercial. Upon returning, Megan and Kris join Ryan. After asking them how they feel, he asks them to move to the side. Matt G. and Jeanine then leave the cheap seats to get grilled, as if it's a good time for them to second guess themselves. Of these four, one will go through to the next round. I didn't pick any of these, so this means I'm one for two on the night. Of these four, I hope it's Megan. It's not Jeanine. It's not Matt. It's not Megan. Kris Allen is number 5 in our top 12.

After another break, we get a rerun of the American Idol retrospective that covers the first seven seasons. I guess they couldn't come up with anything new or original to fill time this week. I guess they really didn't last week either since Carly and Michael sang a song that they had sung together last season. Oh no, I spoke too soon. Performing tonight is last season's Brooke White singing Hold Up My Heart, a song which she co-wrote. And hey, she didn't get a couple measures in then ask to start over.

Five contestants remain tonight, four contestants will be going home. The final five line up on stage. Mishavonna, Kai, and Jasmine are all sent back to their seats. This leaves us with Guy Smiley... I mean Norman Gentle... I mean Nick and Adam. Of course Adam is the one to make it through. So I was two for three tonight. Better than my picks for last week.

Alternate Future

Recently I stumbled upon this video that represents and alternate ending to the best movie ever. I know I don't need to mention the title. If you've ever read this blog before, you already know what movie I'm talking about. If you don't know what movie I'm talking about, then watch the video below...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

American Idol: Top 36, Week 2

Jasmine Murray - Love Song
She was the most talented of the "diva" group, and that was shown as she was the only one to make it past that round. It sounds like there are some pitch issues going on with her tonight though. Toward the end of the song it seems like she's gotten more comfortable in it. Overall, though, I'll say a 3.

Matt Giraud - Viva La Vida
I do like this song, but I'm not sure I'm liking this guy's interpretation of it. I get the importance of wanting to come out and make a song your own, but you've got to do it the right way. Some of these folks hit the stage and change the nuances just because they think they can. I'm sorry, but there's a lot about what he's doing to this song that just isn't working. Not even a little. 1.

Jeanine Vailes - This Love
Shaky start gets shakier as she goes on. She talked about how she wanted to do a song that she loves, but nothing about her singing this song sounds like she's even heard it before. This has another 1 written all over it. So far the second group isn't showing me anything to be too impressed about.

Nick Mitchell - You're Gonna Love Me
I could be wrong on that song title. I don't recognize it. Is it just me or does it just seem like he's making fun of the entire competition? All kinds of awful. Can I go lower than a 1 with this guy? 1.

Allison Iraheta - Alone
She's got a really mature voice. She sounds much older than a 16-year-old. She gets a little loud once she hits the chorus. She's supposed to get louder on the chorus, but it's a little big on the verge of screaming. She gets a 4.

Kris Allen - Man in the Mirror
It wasn't bad. It wasn't great. He showed a lot of personality as he sang and showed that he has the talent to be where he's at in this point in the competition. 3.

Megan Joy Corkrey - Put Your Records On
She's not doing a bad job singing the song, but she looks kind of awkward standing there. It's as if she's not sure what to do with herself as she sings. Her motions are kind of spastic and unnatural. Overall I would say it was an average performance. 3.

Matt Breitzke - If You Could Only See
Starting off he seems a bit off tempo. Either he catches up or the accompaniment does, then it starts sounding pretty good. While the vocal is good, there seems to be a disconnect between himself and the song. 3.

Jesse Langseth - Bette Davis Eyes
Before she starts, I don't see this going well. Maybe it's just 'cause I don't like this song. For the most part, she sounds like a Memorex copy of the original song. Toward the end she throws in her own thing with it, but I don't think it works. Not the worst we've heard tonight, but it's a 2.

Kai Kalama - What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
He had a pretty rough Hollywood week. I was actually surprised that he made the top 36. Tonight he's kind of redeeming himself a bit. He's doing pretty well. Best guy of the night so far. 4.

Mishavonna Henson - Drops of Jupiter
This is the girl that hit Hollywood in season 7, but got cut. This is a bad song choice. That must be the theme of the night with most of these kids. They think that just because they pick a song that they really like, they're gonna sound great singing it. That's rarely the case. Certainly not the case here. 2.

Adam Lambert - Satisfaction
Starting out I wasn't sure about this. He started out slow and mellow. But he definitely kicks it up a notch or two when he gets into it. I think they saved the best for last yet again this week. 5.

My call for tomorrow's top three are Adam, Allison, and Kai.


This is an outrage!

I found out this morning that Raleigh Court Elementary School would be closing its doors at the end of this school year. If you've been following my Life Story posts, you'll know that Raleigh Court is where I spent five years of my public education career.

What can I say about Raleigh Court that I haven't said before? I learned so much inside those hallowed halls. It's where I learned how to add and subtract, to multiply and divide. It's where I learned how to make that annual pinch pot in art class. It's where I learned that sideline soccer and "death valley" should be considered Olympic sports. It's where I learned how to tell the difference between the words "ancient" and "accent."

And even though I regularly keep in touch with very few of them, Raleigh Court is where I made some of my earliest and best friendships. These are people who, despite the fact that we probably haven't spoken in years, have left a lasting impression on my life. I can honestly look back with fondness on those young years in elementary school: birthday parties, trips to the skating rink, trips to the science museum, the planetarium... Good times.

According to the Roanoke Times article, Raleigh Court, along with William Ruffner Middle School, are being closed down due to budget cuts. The students will be divided up based on where they live and will attend different schools next year. The hope is that this will fix a $16 million hole in the budget.

I say that now is the time to rally. If you attended Raleigh Court Elementary, then it's time to come together. I say we can save this school, Saved by the Bell style! I know that things never work out like they do on TV. I can't conceive of any way to possibly provide an extra $16 million for the school board's budget on an annual basis. It's a shame it's not TV though. We could have this problem solved in the next 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I had a real The Shining moment the other night as I was leaving my apartment.

I feel that, to get the full scope of what I saw, you should understand the layout of my building. The front entrance has glass doors and mailboxes. This room acts as a foyer of sorts. Beyond this is a hallway containing an elevator on the right and a stairwell on the left. Do you have the blueprint in your head now? Well, it'll have to do. There's not a lot to work with as it's a pretty dull entryway.

So I was coming down the stairs that night. I refuse to take the elevator if I'm going downstairs. I figure that's one of those small things I can do to get a little exercise in my day. Also the elevator takes forever and I'm just too darned impatient.

At the bottom of the steps, I opened the door and turned to the right and was met with an odd sight. Through the glass door I saw a little girl holding a very tiny dog. She was staring directly at me, as if she knew where my eyes would be as soon as I rounded the corner.

I'm sure that we only made eye contact for half a second, but it felt like a very eerie eternity. I wondered if this is what the kid on the tricycle felt like when he ran into the dead twins in the Overlook Hotel. "Come and play with us Danny. Come and play with us forever."

Yeah, it was a little scary. The moment passed much quicker than I perceived it. It was just a little strange to see a 6-year-old girl standing alone in the foyer. It was stranger to make direct eye contact with her as soon as I came out of the stairwell.

I think she was more scared of me than I was of her. She ran back outside as soon as I started walking toward the door. When I left the building, I saw her with some other people, whom I can only assume were her family.

These are things we need to remember about little kids and wild animals. They really are more afraid of us than we are of them. But if you show even a hint of that fear, they will attack. I've seen it a hundred times.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Friday the 13th

Saturday night I treated myself to a late night movie. I've been curious about the Friday the 13th reboot, so I decided to give it a shot.

The movie itself was a typical horror/slasher flick. It definitely followed the Friday the 13th formula. That being said, it wasn't a great movie. It was all right, and I liked the take on this version of Jason. He wasn't just some sluggish zombie with a machete. No more wondering how Jason could catch up to the running victim by walking at a steady pace. Dude was in a full-on sprint when he chased after the campers.

But I'm not doing this to talk about the movie. I want to discuss the viewer sitting two seats down. I got there and had the entire row to myself. Even as people came into the theater, it seemed as if I was a leper. No one was sitting anywhere near me. So I thought it was pretty nice having my own little area in the theater.

Then it happened. As the trailers were ending, a family of four came and sat near me. The father figure was the one who was a couple seats away. I knew it would be bad when he was immediately talkative and loud.

Before the opening credits were through, his cell phone rang. And he answered, of course. I only heard his side of the conversation, but the gist of it is this: "Yeah... I'm at the movie... Friday the 13th... Nah, man... Later..." This happened a few times. Finally he turned off his ringer. But then he still answered his phone whenever it would vibrate.

His daughter got up a few minutes into the movie to go get refreshments. As she neared the exit, she called back to ask what he wanted. He yelled out what it was. I was too angry at this point to make a mental note of it. When the girl didn't hear, he had to yell it again. I almost yelled it really loud just to make sure it was heard the last time.

Halfway through the movie, a man from a few rows back got up and walked in front of us. The polite movie patron next to me asked, "Where you goin'?" As if it was his business. As if we were gathered around the TV in his own living room and he needed to know where people were going. The guy said he got scared.

Later, I was offered popcorn by my neighbor. I hope he wasn't trying to redeem himself in my eyes. I did say "no thanks," but I'm pretty sure it came out really sarcastic. I sure didn't want to stick my hand in that bag. I don't know where his hands have been. I don't know if he washed his hands the last time he went to the bathroom. Then he dug his grubby hands all in there. No, I didn't want any of his stinkin' popcorn.

In case the vibes I was putting off were felt, I booked it out of that theater as soon as that final jump scene was over. I didn't want to give this guy the chance to get angry with me, then follow me to the Greenehouse to massacre me in my sleep. I slept soundly and survived to see another day.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Warning: if you have a problem seeing, or hearing and reading about blood, you may want to avoid this post. Really, the title should have been warning enough.

When I was a kid I would get the occasional nosebleed. I don't remember them being a real issue for me, I just know they would happen every now and then. To be honest, I've never thought anything of the condition other than I probably picked my nose too much and caused some damage. Then of course I'd have to be careful not to pick my nose after the occurrence of a nosebleed, lest I should provoke the spilling of more blood.

That was then. This is now.

Today I was sitting in church, minding my own business and taking sermon notes like a good Baptist kid. Suddenly, as the pastor was wrapping up his second point, my nose began gushing blood. No, I wasn't picking it. It just started happening. Of course I didn't see any blood at this point. But you can tell the difference between your typical runny nose and a nosebleed. There's a significantly different consistency.

So I quickly gathered my Bible and bulletin, pinched my nose shut, then briskly walked toward the back of the sanctuary. Luckily there was a baptism today, so I sat closer to the back than usual to make room for families wanting a better view. If I had sat where I normally do, that walk of shame would have been a bit prolonged.

Making my way to the bathroom once I hit the foyer became more of a challenge. Of course no one stopped me in the sanctuary, they were engrossed in the words of the preacher (or at least did a good job of pretending to be). In the lobby, however, I was stopped by a few people that I knew. After quickly explaining myself as best I could in the nasally voice that a pinched nose provides, I finally made it to the men's room.

Hovering over the sink I realized just how bad this nosebleed was. I'm not going to sit here and say that I was hemorrhaging, but I don't think any of my childhood nosebleeds ever got this bad. I gathered some paper towels, pinched my nose as tightly as I could, and tilted my head back ever so slightly.

To the half dozen or so men who walked in while I stood there, this must have been a confusing sight. I thought it was pretty obvious what was going on. Inevitably, however, each of them asked, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Got a nosebleed?" No, not a nosebleed. I'm just checking out the ceiling tiles.

While I was busy clotting, several of these men did offer their foolproof suggestion on how to stop a nosebleed. I thanked them for their advice, but pretty much stuck with the same thing that's been working for me all my life. While many people tell you to lean back while pinching, I prefer to lean forward. Leaning back leads to drainage and swallowing and, well, that's just gross. Somehow, despite my preference of leaning forward to let the blood clot, I still end up tilting back. I guess it's a natural reaction.

As I emerged from the bathroom, somewhat paler than before I went in, I wondered about the cause of today's gusher. I have been getting over a cold for some time. I suppose this could lead to some dryness in the sinus cavities which could trigger a nosebleed. But I do watch a lot of TV. And there have been some instances of nosebleeds on recent television shows that I frequently watch.

On Prison Break, main character Michael Scofield was dealing with nosebleeds off and on all season. It was discovered that he had a pretty severe brain tumor. Of course he underwent an experimental, totally fictional operation and is alive and well. On Lost, after being tossed about the timestream like ragdolls, several characters began experiencing nosebleeds after each flash. This led to the death of one such character in last week's episode.

Now, I'm not saying that I have a brain tumor. But isn't it at least a possibility? I'm not saying that I've been involuntarily traveling through time. But I'm not going to be closed-minded enough to pretend it's not an issue that some people have to deal with.

Right now I'm feeling fine. Okay, I'm feeling a little queazy from swallowing a bit of blood earlier. And it may not be the blood that's actually making me sick. It could just be the idea of swallowing blood. Gross.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Charlotte Aftermath

Okay, yes, I was in Charlotte nearly a week ago, and I'm just now doing the clean up. I'll start on a high note: on the drive back to Wake Forest, my little car passed the 150,000 mile mark. She's all grown up.

Now, a little lower...

Andy let me borrow the key to the apartment while I was there so I could come and go as I pleased. Tuesday, before I left town, I met him for lunch and had planned to return his key to him. Alas, I left after lunch having forgotten to pull the key out of my pocket.

I didn't realize I had made this blunder until I crossed the Wake Forest boundary. So I called him, apologized, and told him I'd get the key back to him. He called me back saying that they weren't allowed to make a copy of Chrissy's key and that a lost key would constitute a $40 fee.

So I told Andy that I would drop the key in the mail the very next day, hoping that it would arrive by today, Saturday. About five minutes ago, I received a phone call from my good friend in Charlotte. I was expecting it to be a quick "thanks" for sending the key back in such a timely manner.

Unfortunately, the phone call was nothing but bad news. Apparently it would have been a good idea to wrap the key in some paper or to send it in a padded envelope. Sadly, these thoughts never crossed my mind as I dropped it in a regular envelope and put it in the mail. The Berrys check their mail and found my envelope, minus the key. At some point in shipping, the key gained enough momentum to tear its way out of the paper envelope and is now lost somewhere between here and there.

I feel quite stupid right now. And I'm sure I'll have to live through this tale again and again for about 20 years.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Question of the Week: Going Both Ways

How would you react if you were to learn that your mate had had a lover of the same sex before you knew each other?

My honest, initial reaction would probably be one of shock. But I don't think it would effect me or the relationship any more than finding out she had been with another guy before we were married. That's all in the past. What my hypothetical wife and I have now is the present and future. Whatever either of us did in the past shouldn't matter as long as we're committed to each other now.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


A couple weeks ago as I was driving, I noticed a house that lies between my apartment and the Greenehouse. The thing on this property that drew my attention was the novelty traffic light sitting on a post at the end of their driveway. I thought to myself, I'd kind of like to have a novelty traffic light someday. And then I just let the thought float away, as most of my random, trivial thoughts tend to do.

While I was in Charlotte on Monday, I was helping Andy clean out the storage closet near his youth room. Lying in the corner was a traffic light. I wasn't really paying attention to it. I was busying myself with moving speakers and other miscellaneous items. Andy pointed out the traffic light and asked if I wanted it.

Suddenly I remembered how I fleetingly thought about wanting a traffic light of my very own. He said that the light had been sitting in that closet for over a year. He didn't need it. He saw no foreseeable use for it. Thus, one man's trash became another's.

Before loading the light into my car, we tested it to make sure the lights still worked. Each light, red, yellow, and green, had its own plug. Each light worked brilliantly. Now, I have my own working traffic light. And I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.

I'm sure the possibilities are endless and I'm just not being creative enough. Submit your ideas below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Idol: Top 36 - Week One Results

These titles are beginning to be a mouthful. Gonna have to do something about that. I'll save it for next week.

So they're gonna take an hour to choose the top three of these twelve contestants. This means there will be a lot of fluff to wade through before the nail biting suspense filled ending. Of course we begin with the obligatory "ask the judges what they thought." Not that they had the opportunity to air their grievances during last night's show.

Uh, you know what, this is why the DVR is such a blessing. I'm going to fast forward through the recap of last night. This 12 sings a group song. They're doing Jason Mraz's I'm Yours and I'm not all that impressed. I hope the group sing-alongs get better when the top twelve is finally put together.

As we get down to business, Casey is invited to the stage. I'm gonna interject an opinion here. She's kinda hot. But I don't think that's enough to get her a top three spot. According to America's vote, she's not in the top 12. To the stage next is Stephen. He is also not in the top 12.

Alexis is up next. After talking with coworkers and thinking more about last night's performances, it seemed more likely that she would be the top female votegetter than Jackie would. So I was off on that one last night, but I changed my mind today. Alexis is the first to make the top 12.

Ricky and Jackie come to center stage. Neither of them are top 12. Anoop does not make it, but Michael does. We now have two of our finalists.

After welcoming back Carly Smithson and Michael Johns from last season, we get back to results with Anne Marie, Brent, and Stevie. Of course, none of them are headed to the next round. This leaves us with Danny and Tatiana. I'm sorry, but Tatiana's got to know she doesn't stand a chance. I bet she cries again. Wait, she's already crying. The drama queen needs to stop fixing her hair, it's not gonna help at this point. And Danny is in the top 12.

Well, I got one of the three right. I'm thrown off by trying to pick the top three instead of the bottom three. But don't worry if your favorites didn't make it this week. Some of these folks will probably be back for the wild card episode. Not sure how they're picking those wild cards, but I'm sure we'll find out in a few weeks. Next week we'll get to hear from 12 more contestants.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Idol: Top 36 - Week One

So tonight's the night when the power is finally placed in the hands of the viewing public. We vote. We decide. We will choose who will go on and who will just go. Out of our top 36, twelve contestants will be singing tonight. But this isn't like the last few years where they send home a couple of these guys. No, they're only keeping three. So that means for nine of these unfortunate souls, they'll be going home. That's hardly enough time to make a name for oneself.

Ryan explains that the top female vote-getter, the top male vote-getter, and the contestant with the next highest amount of votes are the three that will be back in a month. Three weeks of this will give us a top nine. Finally we'll have a wild card night. I don't think we've seen one of those since the second season. Am I wrong on that? It's been awhile I know.

As with last year, I'll be judging the singers on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 being they totally should not have even made it this far. 5 being freakin' awesome. There's two hours of this stuff to go over tonight, so let's get started, shall we?

Jackie Tohn - Little Less Conversation, Elvis Pressley
I'm never really one to critique what someone is wearing. You'd understand if you've ever seen the way I dress. Fashion is not something I pride myself on. But, uh, what's this chick wearing? She kind of looks like she didn't quite make it as one of the Pink Ladies on Grease. But this is a singing competition. She manages to nail the lyrics and she's definitely energetic. I'm giving her a 3.

Ricky Braddy - A Song for You, Leon Russell
I'm not too sure. The judges seem to love it. I thought it was okay. I thought the falsetto at the end was a little odd. Not that it didn't belong in the song, but there just wasn't anything behind it there. Another 3.

Alexis Grace - Never Loved a Man, Aretha Franklin
It's a pretty big undertaking to do an Aretha Franklin song. She's just one of those divas that the judges tend to warn contestants not to tackle. Judging from the start of this song, I really hope she's able to kick something off towards the middle and end. Otherwise she better start praying for a wild card spot. She does put a little more into it towards the end, but I don't think it was enough to save it. 2.

Quick observation: the judges are only dishing out praise thus far. I mean, Simon's received a few boos, but not as bad as in seasons past. And Paula's already cried twice. We've only seen three singers! People don't tune in to see the judges being nice. Am I just being too hard on the contestants? When we get to the end let me know in the comments. I'd hate to think I'm just being a jerk. I mean, I can live with it if that's the case, but I'd like to think I'm being at least slightly fair.

Brent Keith - Hicktown, Jason Aldean
Already it seems like he's not into the song. His motions are very choreographed and his voice just doesn't sound like there's any emotion behind it. I was kind of bored with it. 2.

Stevie Wright - You Belong With Me, Taylor Swift
She's really hard to hear starting out. Is it too low for her? Yeah, I think that's the problem. 'Cause when the pitch goes up, so does her volume. Maybe she's really nervous. But she just doesn't sound that good. I think she's having a hard time staying on pitch. I'll be surprised if Randy doesn't tell her she was a little pitchy. I mean, this is really bad. Paula will find something good to say, 'cause that's what she does. And I'm probably gonna feel bad for her when Simon tears her a new one. Speaking of 1.

Anoop Desai - Angel of Mine, Monica
I think Anoop has a really good voice. At first it seemed like he was a little behind the tempo, but he corrected it pretty quickly. The problem I'm having is that this is one of those songs that relies heavily on back-up vocals. I always think that's a mistake on this show. Despite that, his talent is enough to give him a 4.

Casey Carlson - Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, The Police
She said she picked this song because it's a fun song to sing. So far it doesn't seem like she's having a lot of fun with it. It may actually be too much song for her. I gotta go with a 2.

Michael Sarver - I Don't Wanna Be, Gavin DeGraw
I like this song, but it's a difficult one to sing. So I get nervous when an Idol contestant chooses it. A lot of the time it comes out sounding like something you'd hear at a bar on karaoke night. And that's kind of what Michael's sounding like right now. It's not bad, but it's not great either. 3.

Anne Marie Boskovich - Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin
Ah, another Aretha choice. Can she do better with this than Alexis did with hers? So far I'm pleased. Though to be fair, Natural Woman is, I think, an easier song than Never Loved a Man. There were a couple of spots that I'm not sure about, but I think it's a solid 3.

Stephen Fowler - Rock With You, Michael Jackson
This is a guy who, before he even sings, I don't believe should be at this stage of the competition. To get two chances on a solo during Hollywood week and then just walk off the stage, I'm just not sure he deserved another shot after that. So he does this song, but there was nothing behind it. He hits a great high note toward the end, but even that seemed shaky. A 2 may be generous.

Tatiana Del Toro - Saving All My Love, Whitney Houston
We could have a drinking game with Tatiana. Every time she starts to cry, take a shot. Before she even starts singing, I want to give her a 1, only because she's so freakin' annoying. But I'm going to try my hardest to judge based solely on her performance. She can actually sing. But I think tackling a Whitney Houston song may be a mistake. She did better with the start of the song than with the finish. There were some shaky bits in that second half. I'll go with a 3.

Danny Gokey - Hero, Mariah Carey
Again, a contestant tackling one of those big female singers. Watching and listening to him sing this song, it's easy to catch his emotional connection to what he's singing. Unlike a lot of the other contestants tonight, he's actually feeling what he's singing. I'm probably gonna have to rewind this one on the old DVR and hear this one again. Way to save the best for last guys. 5.

So my vote absolutely goes to Robert Downey, Jr. I mean, Danny Gokey. I think the three that will make it are Danny, Jackie Tohn, and Anoop Desai. Come back tomorrow night and we'll find out if I'm right.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Day in Charlotte

I'm in Charlotte for a few days. It's Presidents' Day, meaning the banks are closed. I'm back to my Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule at work, so this means I'm off tomorrow too. So with a four-day weekend to play with, I figured it would be a good opportunity to visit Andy and Chrissy.

Today is really my only full day in Charlotte and, if I may, I'd like to take you through a little bit of that day.

Of course I took advantage of the day off and slept as late as possible. Since Andy is a youth minister, his work schedule is somewhat flexible. On the other hand, Chrissy leaves for her commute uptown around 6:30AM. Once Andy and I had both woken up, we sat down to catch the end of D2: The Mighty Ducks. That's the one where they play in the Junior Goodwill Games. I love watching movies. But I have to say, I like watching them with people like Andy a lot better. It's so easy to make fun of things, pick out inconsistencies, and laugh hysterically all throughout.

He left for the church around 10:30 (nice, right?) and I decided to start on some laundry. Sidebar: always take advantage of an opportunity to laundry if friends will allow it. Andy had told me to come by the church to hang out after awhile, so around lunchtime I headed over to Forest Hills Church where Andy is the youth minister in charge of the sixth grade (at least I think that's his job). In case you were wondering, I got lunch from the slowest Burger King in North Carolina on the way over there.

I made my way up to Andy's office and met a few of his co-workers hovering outside his door. Introductions were made, but to be honest, I don't remember any names. I was also introduced to one of the fun sides of being part of a large youth ministry staff at a large church. Every Monday, they get together in that very hallway and have a race. Beginning at Andy's office door, they take turns running down the stairs, through the hallway on the first floor, up the stairs at the opposite end of the hall, and back to the office to complete the circle. They do this individually and are timed from start to finish. I was invited to participate, but I declined. I'm not on staff. Also I tend to shy away from running for fun.

When it was Andy's turn to run, I sold him short. I feel a little guilty about that. While some of the others who went before him were making the trip in just under 30 seconds, I guessed Andy would go at a minute flat. For a moment there I forgot his nickname on our college flag football team was "Deep Threat." He made it in less that 28 seconds, which tied him for the best time thus far. I'm not telling the best part though. When Andy got up to his hallway, he was losing control of his movement. I was sitting inside his office and saw him fly by the door, then immediately heard a THUD. The others said he slid about ten feet, nearly hitting the door to the stairs. Their fear was that he had broken his neck. I got out to the hall in time to see Andy's arms raised in triumph.

He suffered from a bruised and scraped up knee, some carpet burn to his eyebrow and forehead, and a very sore back. The exertion of running so hard and fast caused him to get sick not long after his race. But I will say, I was very impressed by his performance.

I stuck around after eating and helped him to clear out a storage closet. I'm not sure how he would have gotten any of that done had I not been there. With his back hurting as bad as it was, heavy lifting seemed to be out of the question. So I spent the better part of the afternoon moving things around the church with Andy. And that's really not as bad as it sounds. Manual labor goes by pretty quickly when you're able to laugh and quote movies with a friend.

I'm not sure that there are any plans for the evening. I think Chrissy mentioned something about sloppy joes for dinner, so I do have that to look forward to.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day Massacre

To many people reading this blog, it would come as no surprise that I have been single for every Valentine's Day that I have been lucky enough to witness in my life. It's because of this fact that I can sit back and laugh at all the poor saps that happen to be coupled up on this most ridiculous of days.

A lot of the time I claim that Valentine's Day is just a day created by the greeting card industry and/or Russell Stover's great-grandfather. Sometimes I look at it as the day that women across the country raise the bar and expect their significant others to one-up themselves from previous years. Certainly not something in which I'd like to be entangled.

Today I decided to make a trip to Target. There were a few things that I needed to get, most of all I needed some tissues and some cold medicine, as I am still dealing with a poorly timed illness. I was struck by the sheer volume of men standing in front of the greeting card display. What surprised me further was the amount of women that were also perusing the pre-printed Valentines.

Traditionally, men are the forgetful ones. As we have learned from any number of sitcoms, men have a difficult time remembering birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and most especially, Valentine's Day. It's a little perplexing, it falls on the same day every year. Though, that argument could be made for anniversaries and birthdays. But you can't go out and buy a calendar at your local Barnes & Noble and expect to have your loved ones' birthdays and anniversaries printed in the proper squares. Valentine's Day, however, is printed right there on February 14. Just like the word Christmas is printed in that little box for December 25. They even manage to get Easter on there, and that falls on a different date each year.

The women that were doing their last-minute Valentine shopping, though, that still puzzles me. When is it too late to go out and buy a card? I'm sure there are a lot of people, mostly the ones I referred to in that 2nd paragraph, that feel that if everything isn't as it should be when they first wake up on February 14, it's already too late to redeem the day.

Why this day? Why should there be one special day when people who supposedly love each other should be forced to "prove" it with gifts of chocolate and cards containing someone else's words? Why can't those people, who seem so desperate to prove their love, show their love every other day of the year?

I know that these are just the words of a lonely, bitter old man. Take them with a grain of salt.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Question of the Week: Fire

Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire; after saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be?

I'm not a sentimental person. When Dad passed away, I threw away so much stuff after going through his house. I'm sure the city of Roanoke had more than one complaint about how much stuff they had to haul away from my curb. And since I'm not sentimental about anything, the things that sit around in my apartment just strikes me as stuff. There's nothing so important to me that it can't be replaced.

I'm sure the Christian who's better than I would say they'd save their Bible. But I don't have one of those family heirloom gigantic Bibles that you find on a lot of your great-grandparents' coffee tables in those rooms that you weren't allowed to enter as a child. I've got a regular NIV Study Bible. And honestly, it's replaceable.

Practically, I guess it would make sense to grab my laptop. It contains all of my information for hte last two years, and possibly beyond that. We live in an age of digital photography, so it's not like I'm dying to save any of my photo albums. They're all posted on Facebook anyway. Losing things in the fire would be inconvenient, but I'd be okay if things burned up.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode XLIV

Monday at work, I was informed by Cris that she may be called to jury duty on the next day. Of course she wouldn't know for sure until she called the court after 5 that afternoon. So she told me she'd call to let me know. How does this affect me? Well on Tuesdays, I normally work only in the afternoon. If Cris was to miss the day performing her civic duty, they would need me to come in for the full day.

Later that day, Janet received a phone call that her little girl had gotten sick at school. The thought crossed my mind that she may need to miss work the next day to stay home with a sick child. But I actually didn't think much of it.

I did get the call, just as I pulled into my parking lot at home, that informed me Cris would be in court on Tuesday. So I made my plans to be at work all day on Tuesday.

Tuesday arrived and I got to work on time as planned. I knew for sure that Cris would be absent. But what I found out once I arrived was that Janet would be out as well. What would this mean for me? It meant that I was the only teller in the branch that day.

At first I thought about panicking. I told my assistant manager that I'm not much of a crier, but that they might see it that day. Fear not, I was not alone. Paulette and Susu, two of our financial service folks, came over to the teller line to open drawers.

So I had help. And thankfully, Tuesday was a fairly slow day.

There are a couple ways to deal with a situation like that. A part of me would get stressed out and overwhelmed by thinking I was the only one to work the teller line. That part of me would get angry at the situation. But what's the point in that? Things happen that cannot be controlled. Why worry about it? Just take things one step at a time.

I should probably take that advice when I get mad being stuck in traffic.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

American Idol: Hollywood, Part 4

Tonight's the night that we find out our top 36. That's right, this season we're being given 36 people to choose from. As if choosing between 24 wasn't hard enough. Next week, we vote. One more night of the judges' absolute control.

We begin with 54 contestants who have made it this far. Tonight the remaining 54 will come into the judges' chambers where they'll sit in the hot seat. Our first victim is Anoop Desai from Chapel Hill. Anoop is the first person in our top 36.

Von Smith is next and says he's more prepared to get a no than a yes. He's had a rough Hollywood week, but still dreams of making it big. I personally wouldn't have put him through, but the judges are still calling the shots this week.

Cody Sheldon, the amateur horror filmmaker is next in the hot seat. He's balancing on a fine line between making it or going home, so the judges ask him to sing once again. Meanwhile, Alex Wagner-Trugman has been chosen for a sing-off against Cody. Before Alex arrives, Cody sings and it honestly doesn't sound great. Alex arrives and realizes that he's part of a duel. One of them will be going home. Alex sings Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. If I was choosing, Alex would make it to the top 36. So let it be done. Cody will be going home while Alex will be moving on. What an awkward moment. Way to go producers. Trying to create drama.

Adam Lambert is up next. I thought that he had a rough week in Hollywood, but the judges did like him in Hollywood. Despite Simon informing him that he thought he had a great Hollywood week, Simon cranks up the suspense by telling him he doesn't have good news. Pause for effect. He has great news. Adam is number 4 in the top 36.

17-year-old Taylor Vaifanua had a difficult time on the Group Day when she lost her lyrics. That day, Simon told them if they forgot the words, they were gone. But tonight, Randy lets her know she's going through. Jasmine Murray, Arianna Afsar, Casey Carlson, Megan Corkrey, Mishavonna Henson, and Stevie Wright all make it through as well. That's 11 so far.

Up next is another lyrical loser. How has Joanna Pacitti made it this far? She forgot the words in just about every Hollywood performance. So she's had a label deal in the past. It's one thing to be a studio singer, but it's a completely different thing to be able to carry yourself in front of a live audience. The judges give her yet another break. That's 12.

T.K. Hash, Chris Chatham, and Reggi Beasley all get sent packing. Kendall Beard is worried that this latest trend from the judges will continue as she strolls in. Paula tells her that even though she is very commercial, they were disappointed with her song choices in Hollywood. They keep her hanging for awhile, but eventually say she's sticking around.

Jenn Korbee was part of a husband/wife team that made it to Hollywood. After Group Day, Jenn was forced to go on alone. Waiting outside, Kristen McNamara listens to Jenn sing for her position. Again we have a sing-off. Kristen pulls out I Will Always Love You for her last chance song. This was her final opportunity to show off and she pulled out Whitney Houston. Bad idea jeans. The judges deliberate and then take a really long time to explain their decision. Simon finally breaks the news that Jenn will be going home, but also makes it clear that he disagrees with the decision. That's 14.

Alexis Grace is up next. She dreams of being a part of this, but is struggling with the idea of leaving her daughter at home while she's on the show. The judges don't tip-toe around the decision with her. She's in. That's 15.

Scott McIntyre is next in the hot seat. Scott is someone who has proven himself against difficult odds, being that he's visually impaired. He showed that he was much more comfortable behind a piano during Hollywood week. He'll be part of the top 36. That's 16.

Lil Rounds is up next. She has been a constant favorite of the judges from her first audition. Once again, the judges make it sound negative, but then inform her that she'll still be on the show next week. I think the judges actually get an adrenaline rush from doing this to the contestants.

Felicia Barton, Ashley Hollister, and Devon Baldwin are all sent packing. Frankie Jordan, who was a stand-out in her initial audition, has had a difficult time since getting to Hollywood. She will be having a sing-off with Jesse Langseth. Personally, I'd send 'em both home. But they have to pick one, and Jesse's the one they're going with. But Simon does throw this one out... Neither of them would win this competition. Ouch.

We say good-bye to a couple more kids while 16-year-old Allison Iraheta nervously awaits her fate. Allison is part of this season's top 36. That's 19.

Danny Gokey and Jamar Rogers are best friends and have been taking this journey side by side. Now the question is raised, will there be room for both of them in the top 36? Danny is first in the hot seat. Danny's going on. If I had to pick an early winner, it'd be Danny. Jamar goes in next and receives some bad news. So one friend continues while the other will give support from the audience. That's 20.

Ricky Braddy, Matt Giraud, Ju'not Joyner, Jorge Nunez, and Brent Keith all make it through. That's 25. Stephen Fowler is not very hopeful as he takes the chair. Stephen's final performance in Hollywood was really bad. He got two chances to sing his song and lost it during both tries. He ended up walking off without finishing. Believe it or not, he's still in the top 36.

Nick Mitchell, aka Norman Gentle, enters the room in serious mode. No headbands, no wristbands, no shiny goofy shirts. Norman Gentle will be making it through to the next round.

Jackie Tohn is up next and is really nervous to sit in front of the judges. Once again, Randy makes it sound like this has been a really tough decision and she might not make it. But then she does. The judges really do get off on this.

Next we see our most annoying contestant this season. There's usually one in every Idol cast. Season 6 had Sanjaya. Season 2 had Michaela Gordon. This year we have Tatiana Del Toro. I'd really like to slap that kid. She's crying over some ring that Paula's wearing. She says she's being ridiculous for crying over a ring. She cries over everything, are you kidding me? Well, get ready for some more tears, she's part of the top 36. Anyone else think she'll be a part of Howard Stern's "vote for the worst" website. God help us all, she'll be on this stupid show for weeks to come. Do the right thing America. Get rid of her early! That's 29.

Next we have another sing-off with Jackie Midkiff and Nathaniel Marshall. Jackie sings When a Man Loves a Woman and does a very good job. Nathaniel sings Lonestar's Already There. Of these two, I like Jackie's voice better. But the incredibly emotional Nathaniel will make for more dramatic television in the weeks to come. I think the judges are taking that into consideration and send Nathaniel through to the next round.

Jeanine Vailes, Kai Kalama, Anne Marie Boskovich, and Kris Allen are all staying in the competition. That's 34.

Seacrest reveals that there are only two contestants left and they will be taking part in a sing off. Now, if you've been keeping count with me, then you know there's room for both Matt Breitzke and Michael Sarver in the top 36. If you haven't been keeping count, then just look at that previous short paragraph. Now, do the math: 34 from 36 is... wait for it... 2. So the producers are putting them through this sing-off as part of some definitely unnecessary drama. Both sing there hearts out. Michael does better than Matt, but both clearly sail through to the next round.

So there we have our top 36. This is definitely more people than we've been given the opportunity to vote for in the past. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks play out. In the past we've seen the girls singing on Tuesdays, the guys singing on Wednesdays, then bid farewell to four singers on Thursdays. Over the next three weeks, we'll be exposed to three groups of 12. The first group consists of: Casey Carlson, Stephen Fowler, Jackie Tohn, Ricky Braddy, Anne Marie Boskovich, Brent Keith, Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver, Stevie Wright, Danny Gokey, Tatiana Del Toro (I'll have my barf bag ready), and Anoop Desai.

I'm sorry. Was that mean, what I just said about Tatiana? Tough. I don't like her. I'm pretty sure there's nothing that can be done to make me like her. So let's just get that in the open now. If you don't like my opinion of this year's basket case, then go read someone else's American Idol thoughts.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

American Idol: Hollywood, Part 3

This is the end of the Hollywood round of American Idol. If you're interested in reading what I had to say about parts 1 and 2 of Hollywood, go here and here for my blog at the News & Observer.

As for tonight, it's back to the Kodak Theater where 72 remaining hopefuls will be apart of this year's top 36. Tonight the contestants will be given another chance to sing by themselves. This time they can sing with a band, back-up singers, and if they choose, their own personal instrumentals.

After they randomly drew numbers, they go in order from 1 to 72. Lucky number one goes to Adam Lambert who sings Cher's Believe. But he puts a different spin on it. It's not that techno number that came out in the 90s. Tonight, we get no feedback from the judges after the songs. They keep their thoughts to themselves and separate the good from the mediocre after all is said and done.

The next contestant that we see is Matt Giraud, a talented pianist found in the Louisville auditions. He accompanies himself on the keyboard while singing Georgia. He's actually pretty good with it. Jamar Rogers is up next with Hey There Delilah. While he's done really well in past performances, I have to say I'm not that impressed with this one. He's not bad, but I'm not sure that would be the one to send him over the edge with the judges. His best friend Danny Gokey is next with his take on I Hope You Dance. Knowing this guy's story and seeing how talented he's been in his performances thus far, I'd kind of like to see him win it all.

After a break we see UNC's Anoop Desai and Puerto Rico native Jorge Nunez. Both of them do very well. Scott McIntyre is finally given some screen time. We haven't seen him since his initial audition. He's given the chance to show off his skills behind the piano as he plays and sing's Daughtry's Home.

The first female competitor of the day was Kendall Beard singing a little Carrie Underwood. After her is 16-year-old Stevie Wright and then single mom Lil Rounds. Kristen McNamara, who was at the center of a great deal of drama on group day, is trying pretty hard to stay strong in her last chance to compete. We next see Mishavonna Henson who made it to the second day of Hollywood in season 7 before she was cut. This year she's made it to day four. Will she make it further?

Tatiana Del Toro has been consistent throughout the competition. When I say consistent, I mean consistently obnoxious. In the same room with Tatiana are Alexis Grace, Kenny Hoffpauer, and Jasmine Murray. It's sad though, because those three are actually really good. So if they get through, so does Tatiana. If Tatiana doesn't, neither do those three actually talented people. Nathaniel Marshall is also in the same room. You'll remember Nathaniel as a part of that same drama-ridden group involving Kristen McNamara and fallen idol Nancy. Joanna Pacitti's nerves got the best of her and she flubbed her lyrics, as did Casey Carlson. Behind the piano, Stephen Fowler loses himself a bit. He asks for a second chance and the judges give it to him. He messes up yet again. This doesn't say much for room number two.

Tatiana has been removed from the second room. What will this mean? For Nick Mitchell's final performance, he came out, once again, as Norman Gentle. I just have to shake my head in slight shame. He seems to be a crowd favorite though. The judges have made their decisions and all of the contestants are placed into four separate rooms. Contestants look around at the people surrounding them and wonder if that's a good or bad sign for the room that they're in. By the way, Tatiana is shoved into room four. Her new roommates look to be displeased by this particular turn of events.

The way I see it, you've gotta have some bad folks in the rooms that make it through. Otherwise, would they have anyone to eliminate tomorrow night when they follow people up the elevator?

Paula, Kara, and Randy stroll into room 2 first. While they make it sound like two will be ending the journey, turns out they're through to the next round. Room 3 is not so lucky. This means saying good-bye to folks like Leneshe Young and Nick Castro, who was apparently not as good as his brother.

Room 1 anxiously waits. In here we have Danny Gokey and Casey Carlson among others. Of course they're through. Along with them we get more Anoop Desai and Scott McIntyre. What will this mean for room 4? Tatiana is freaking out before they even make their announcement. This just makes me hope they give the room a no, even though there are a few in there that I'd like to see keep going. Oh well, they got through.

This just means they've got more people to eliminate tomorrow. I'm on the edge of my seat. As is the world.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Life Story: Chapter Twenty Two

In fifth grade I had Miss Barlow as my main teacher. We also did that team-teaching thing again. And you'll never guess who I had for science and math. Remember Mrs. Hall from fourth grade? That's the one. The teacher that seemingly couldn't stand any of us followed us for another year.

Miss Barlow stands out in my mind as the first teacher who ever encouraged me to be a writer. She introduced me to a competition for young writers and encouraged me to write stories to send in. Back then I was mostly writing childish stories taking place in the Dark Ages. I told tales of knights and royalty and damsels in distress. All of my characters were friends of mine, while all the bad guys were kids that I didn't like.

Fifth grade meant my very first overnight field trip and went to Colonial Williamsburg. It was so much fun for a huge group of 10-year-olds to be away from home overnight. We got to take a candlelight tour of Williamsburg. Not that I remember much about it, but it was pretty cool to experience. I do remember running into one of those role playing guys who claimed to have kin in Roanoke. Except he called it Big Lick (what the Roanoke area was called in the olden days). What a wacko.

Fifth grade was also my last year at Raleigh Court Elementary School. It was a year that was spent preparing us for what life would be like when we reached Woodrow Wilson Middle School. I will say this: I was vastly unprepared for what lay ahead.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

David Goes to the Dentist

I don't feel like writing anything today. And I could use a good laugh. And I'm guessing that you could as well. So watch this and let the laughter come, even if you're not feeling it.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

He's Just Not That Into You

I've been seeing trailers for this movie for several months now. I saw that it had what seemed to be a great cast, so I was curious to see how they would all come together. Unfortunately, no matter how awesome the cast was, it wasn't enough to salvage my opinion of this movie.

I can get past the fact that there are seven or eight different plots that one is forced to keep track of. I really don't mind that. I'm a pretty complex thinker, I can keep up. My problem came from the sheer stupidity and lack of common sense found in most, if not all, of the key players.

We begin and end with Ginnifer Goodwin's desperately lovesick optimist who is constantly looking for love and assuming she's found it in just about every single guy she comes across. To me, she's our biggest idiot of the night, but that could just be because I'm a cynic and cannot wrap my mind around the way an optimist operates. The whole time, though, I was just shaking my head at the apparent lack of common sense. She finds a friend in Justin Long (by the way, this was a reunion of sorts as they were both on the TV show Ed), who is a brutally honest cynic who makes it clear to her that these guys that she's seeing are just not that into her.

Next we have the extremely frustrating married couple played by Jennifer Connelly and the guy that played Sack in Wedding Crashers. Sack is the kind of guy who dated this girl for a really long time, then she gave him an ultimatum: get married or break-up. Ladies, don't do that to your boyfriends. If you get to the point that you either want to get married or break-up, just break-up. See, these guys will either feel like a jerk for stringing you along for years without popping the question and then leaving you feeling like you've wasted some of the best years of her life, or they'll give in and marry you, but they'll never be the husband that you want them to be. They'll feel trapped and they'll make you miserable. You won't be able to trust each other and then BAM! he has an affair with Scarlett Johansson. See, that kind of guy is just a jerk all the way around.

Meanwhile, Scarlett is stringing along Entourage's Kevin Connolly, a love-sick puppy dog of a best-guy-friend who wants to be more-than-friends. Here's a hint, pal, never gonna happen. Saw that coming from the start. Connolly is almost obsessively in love with Johansson's character and will do absolutely anything to win her affection. She, on the other hand, uses him to make herself feel better when things are not going well for her. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of hurt. It's not fun. I didn't like it the first time, so I haven't made a return trip down that road, nor do I plan to.

Finally we have Rachel and Daredevil, who have been together for seven years, but he's "against marriage." Or he's against the idea of marriage. Or he's afraid of commitment, even though he adamantly claims to be committed to their relationship. She does the ultimatum thing and he moves out. Probably a good move on his part.

I'm not going to sit here and tell you how all of these different plot threads work themselves out. I can say that I liked the realism of the end of the movie. Some folks got their happily ever after, some didn't. That's the way real life is. Some people find those happy endings, but a lot of us don't.

He's Just Not That Into You is a snapshot of the way relationships work in America today. It's a picture of the way relationships work (I should say don't work) when God is removed from the equation, as He often is. Sitting through that movie and seeing the actions and reactions of the on-screen characters, it left me even more secure in the fact that I'm single and not even remotely interested in looking.

It could be that I didn't like this movie because it was designed to be a movie for women. The guys in that theater were outnumbered about five to one. It was advertised as a date movie, but that implies that a guy would enjoy it. I'll admit, there were a lot of funny moments that guys can identify with, but for the most part, it's really a movie that the ladies would enjoy more on a girls' night out sort of event. Personally, I would have felt really awkward about seeing that movie with a date. All of the situations in the movie would inevitably lead to awkward conversations on the way home.

Anyone else see this? Your thoughts? I just wasn't that into it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Question of the Week: Accident

If the person you were engaged to marry had an accident and became a paraplegic, would you go through with the marriage or back out of it?

It's tough to say how I'd respond in that situation. I assume that if I was in love enough to be engaged to someone, then I'd be in love enough to weather whatever storm would come along. That means that if my betrothed was suddenly confined to a wheelchair, then I would be able to help her get through all of that. Doesn't matter if it was temporary or for the rest of her life.

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Legends of the Bank Teller: Episode XLIII

Eight hours of my life that I cannot get back.

That's what I lost today when I drove to Durham for a teller referral class. Here's what I was hoping to avoid: ice-breaker activities and role-plays. I was unsuccessful on both counts. One of the first things we did was to stand up and go around the room to carry on a two minute conversation with three different people that we had never met before. Yeah, I was real comfortable with that.

This afternoon we were forced to leave the comfort of our own tables to pair up with yet another stranger in order to role-play back and forth. One would be the client while the other was the teller. We switched roles a few times before that nightmare ended.

In between all of this, I endured absolutely no new information. See, part of the hope of taking this class was that I would learn something that would make me a little better at the referral portion of my job. I didn't learn anything new. I didn't gain any new insights into my introverted personality. I also got annoyed by my classmates.

Really, I was just annoyed by two of them. Across from me was a college age girl who loudly complained throughout the entire day that we were taking too long. She wasn't lying, the class was dragging on an on. After three hours of class, we had only covered one of four chapters in the workbook. I just thought she was being pretty rude.

Sitting directly to her right was an emphyzemic chain smoker who not only complained, but I'm fairly certain she deposited one of her blackened lungs on our table. I don't think I ever heard anyone cough so much in one day. But we were there for a really long time.

If I never have to go to another of these classes again, it'll be too soon.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


The other day I made a trip to the Wendy's drive-through. It's not a trip I make very often these days, but it was one that I enjoyed very much. I've always been a big fan of the Wendy's. Back in college, when the great Dave Thomas passed away, a group of us had lunch at the local Wendy's in his memory. If I had ever had the chance to meet Dave, I'd have wanted to personally thank him for the 99 cent menu. Brilliant.

Now, it's been a very long time since I last enjoyed a Frosty, that timelessly classic Wendy's not-quite-ice-cream treat. Back in the day, when I still liked chocolate, I would ask the parents for the occasional Frosty, but that's been many, many years ago. Then Wendy's introduced the Vanilla Frosty. Such a thing was unheard of, and since I had long since forsaken chocolate, I was so looking forward to a vanilla treat from my favorite burger joint. But when I tried the Vanilla Frosty, I was unimpressed.

Back to the present, to my most recent visit to Dave's daughter's namesake. I ordered my usual, then got to the window and was offered a small Frosty. The girl just asked if I wanted a Frosty. I told her "No thanks," and thought that would be the end of it. She just said I could have it. So I thought, hey, free Frosty. I guess I can handle a little chocolate if it's free.

So I gave it a shot while I ate my Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. I ate about half of it before I decided that I had had more than enough. That's enough of that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Tonight I had the chance to see the movie Taken, starring Liam Neeson. To be honest, I hadn't heard much about this film before seeing it. I think I saw a couple commercials for it on TV last week, but that's about it. Never saw a trailer for it in the theater. From what I understood, it was about a guy who's daughter is abducted and he goes all Jason Bourne trying to get her back.

That assessment was fairly on the money. Sure, it's more detailed than that, but it really is about a guy who's daughter is abducted and he tries to get her back. I can't say he turns into Jason Bourne, 'cause Bourne forgot who he was for a while there.

Neeson plays Bryan Mills, the ex-CIA dad who has retired in order to finally spend some time with his daughter, Kim. His ex-wife is certain that nothing he can ever do will make up for the time that he lost with the girl during his years as an operative. He kind of proves her wrong on that one.

The movie was full of intense action, which really came as a surprise to me. I'll admit, I haven't seen a lot of movies where Liam Neeson was the star. I know he was a Jedi Master back in Episode I, but most of that work is done with CGI. Pretty sure this Bryan Mills character could give Jack Bauer a run for his money.

Mark called me this morning and let me know he had seen it last night. He said it was really good. I hate to admit it when he's right about movies, but he was right about this one. Well worth the price of admission.

Monday, February 02, 2009

500th Blog Post Spectacular

Okay, the Spectacular will have to wait for a less momentous number. I'm calling in sick tonight. It's called the stomach flu and it's not fun. At all.

But this I promise: next time I include the word "spectacular" in the title of a post, I will deliver.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Carpy Awards

Welcome to the first ever Carpy Awards! I won't call it the first annual awards. The word annual implies something that happens every year. I'll decide next year if I want it to be an annual event. If I do this next year, hopefully I'll have a few more categories. For now, let's get started with the four categories we've got.

The first category is for the best guest blogger. The first ever Carpy goes to Nicole Greene for The Art of Lying. Nicole was asked to give an acceptance speech:

"This is so unexpected! I really wasn't prepared for this. I never thought I'd beat out Santa Claus, of all people. To be honest I was just honored to be nominated in the same category as such a legendary figure. First I want to thank my family for believing in me and for voting for me. Next I want to thank Aaron for giving me the chance to share my thoughts on this forum. (cue music) No, wait I'm not done! (music swells) You won't get rid of me that easily! I... (music gets louder) ... Forget it..."

Thank you Nicole and thanks for coming out tonight! Our next award is for best movie (that I saw last year). And the winner is Iron Man! Here to accept the award for best movie (that I saw last year) is Iron Man himself, Mr. Tony Stark!...

He must not have heard me... Mr. Tony Stark!...

Okay, Mr. Stark must be out making the world safe for democracy. I'm sure that if he could be here he would be honored by this prestigious award.

Our third category is for the best Legend of the Bank Teller. The winning post is Episode XXVI! I will be accepting this award, since I lived it. Remember, being a bank teller isn't just a job. It's an adventure. And also an exercise in humility.

Finally tonight, we have the category for best online video. The winner chosen by the people is Oops, I Crapped My Pants! I'd like to thank the good people at Saturday Night Live for continuing to provide us with late night humor throughout the years.

That about wraps things up from the first ever Carpy Awards. Good night and drive home safely!