Sunday, February 28, 2010

Big Dreams

I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole life. Yet, these last few seconds seem agonizingly eternal. I’m trying so hard to control my breathing as they announce my name and my nation. In and out, you can do it. This is the easy part. The hard part will blow by so fast that you’ll hardly have any memory of it. That’s what I’m hoping anyway.

Years of training. Years of preparation. All of it has led me to this moment, to this spot on top of the mountain. My Olympic dream is coming true today.

I’m staring down the white slope, seeing the flags that I’ll soon be darting in and out of. I think about the road I’ve traveled. I think about the first time I strapped a pair of skis to my feet. I think about the first time I fell and swore I’d never do this again. I remember picking myself up and brushing the powder off my clothes as I steadied myself for one more try. I remember winning competitions, small at first, but finally being seen on the world stage.

Suddenly I realize this isn’t about winning gold, silver, or bronze. This is about me being the best that I can be. This is about representing my home and my family and all those people watching at home that are cheering me on from their armchairs and sofas.

And the gates fly open and I fly down the mountain. The cold air slaps me in the face and stings. It’s the most wonderful feeling in the world. I push myself for more speed. I weave in and out of the markers. I’m almost at the bottom. I can see the finish line. I can see my parents waiting at the bottom with their hands raised. I’ve never seen my father smile that big in his life.

I look to them and I realize I don’t care what place I finish in. All I care about is that I made it. I dreamed a big dream and today it came true.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Andy's Question

Andy had a two-part question for me. I guess Mark had a three-parter, but Andy numbered his...

1. Do you think it's funny that Brandon made out with Erin Losey in college?
2. Don't you think we should make fun of that more?

If you need a refresher of who Brandon is you can go back and read my post about my trip to Bluefield last March. There was a time when Brandon did make out with the aforementioned Erin. It was a seemingly random occurrence. One that left him open for endless mockery.

First, let me apologize to Brandon in advance for my blunt honesty. That being said, yes, I think it's friggin' hysterical. However, I don't think we should make fun of that anymore than we already do. It's been 8 years. The man has paid his dues. Don't get me wrong, I won't stop laughing about it whenever it's brought up. But you won't find me heaping more insults due to that one event. Besides, in the past 8 years, have none of us committed any atrocities that are worthy of our friendly mockery? Andy, did you, yourself, not once admit to being curious as to why your belly button created so much lint? And do I continually make fun of that statement? No. But does it make me laugh from time to time? Of course it does. I think it's fair to say that we all know each other fairly well and have been through a lot together. If your friends can't point and laugh at the mistakes you make, who can?

Mark's Question

Do you keep a list of goals that you want to accomplish this week, month, year, and decade? If so, what are some of them? If not, what would some of them be?

I don't keep a written list of goals. It's not something I think of very often. And that could very well be the reason that I'm about to hit 30 and feel like I haven't accomplished much. I'd say the only goal that I set for myself, and also accomplish on a regular basis, is to post something to my blog every day. But, considering that web page isn't exactly taking me places, I should probably be willing to set some more long-term goals for myself. So here come some goals:

3-6 Months: Find a new job!
Year: Complete a novel.
Decade: Become a published writer.

Anyone out there want to hold me to those?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kelly's Question

My first reply was from Kelly, who asked:
Do you still talk in movie quotes? If so, which movie do you find yourself quoting most regularly these days?

She asked this because back in the college years, my friends and I tended to throw around movie quotes as if it were normal to have in everyday conversation. I'm not sure if it would be agreed that I used the movie and TV lines more often than most others, but I may have.

And to answer the question, yes, I still talk in movie quotes, just not very often. I find that I am still fairly fluent in movie lines, I just don't find myself in situations where they make relevant sense very much. The people I hang out with now usually don't get it when I make movie references. Occasionally they get it, but I find that it's usually wasted on people I spend time with at work. When I get around the college friends we tend to slide back into the same old movie lines that we used to use regularly. But these days, I'd say that I don't have a movie that I regularly lean on for conversations.

Thanks to Kelly for the first question. Keep 'em coming!

Question of the Week: Something Different

Each week I post a question from Gregory Stock's The Book of Questions. At the same time, I send an e-mail out to a group of college friends. I find that it's a good way for us to stay in touch even though we've all gone our separate ways. This week I decided to try something different. Instead of asking one question to the entire group, I decided to ask each individual a different question, hoping it will spark some interest. From time to time, the e-mail list seems to grow stagnant and people are unable to find time to respond. So it was time to stir things up a bit.

So throughout the week, I'll wait for their responses. At the same time, I challenged them to send a question back to me. The question can be about anything and I'll reply with my honest answer. So that's what I'll do on here as well. It's something I've done before and I'm sure I'll do it again. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, feel free to ask in the comments below. I'll also be sharing any questions that those friends send me between now and next Friday. Try to have fun with this and have a great weekend kids!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Run for the Border

Congratulations to the Taco Bell of Wake Forest. You have just joined a short, but prestigious list which includes the Bluefield Applebee's and the Crossroads Wendy's in Roanoke. You screwed up so royally and caught me in a foul enough mood, that I'm tempted to never darken your door again.

That's an empty threat, seeing as how I so enjoy the quesadilla from Taco Bell, and it's the only one that's even remotely nearby.

But today was a pretty lousy day. That's bordering on typical, but it didn't help that I was really tired after I left job number two and was also really hungry. These days that I work both jobs, I tend to have to space my meals about 8 hours apart. I'm not dying of hunger or anything, but driving around with pizza fumes wafting in front of my face for three hours doesn't exactly help me to not think of food.

So tonight when I got off work, I decided to use some of my tip money and order my usual at the Taco Bell. Everything was going fairly well until I got about three blocks from the restaurant and realized they hadn't given me the drink that was supposed to come with my combo. That irritated me, but I decided to let it slide. I have drinks at home, I didn't need to turn around just to get a Mountain Dew.

And then I got home. I changed into some much more comfortable attire and sat down to enjoy my chicken quesadilla. But when I opened the bag, there was no quesadilla. There was no soft taco, which was supposed to accompany the quesadilla. Instead, there were two burritos. My earlier irritation flared into full-blown anger.

Remember, at this point, I was home; I was in comfortable clothing. I was ready to eat, write something for the blog, catch some of the Olympics, then go to bed. But no. Now I would have to figure out what I was doing for dinner. I could choose to just let this go and search for something in my kitchen to eat. But here's the thing: I haven't been to the grocery store in a while. The cupboard isn't exactly bare, but it's running low. And if I'd felt like actually cooking something, I never would've hit the drive-thru in the first place.

So I looked up the phone number for our local Taco Bell. And I got no answer. Thrice did I call, and thrice I received no response. So I changed back into something a little more uncomfortable and made the drive all the way back to the Taco Bell. It's probably good that they're on the other end of Main St. The drive was probably just enough to bring me from DEFCON 2 down to DEFCON 4. I was able to calmly explain what happened. I was able to calmly demand to receive what I ordered.

To make up for my trouble, they threw in some free cinnamon twists. Like that makes up for it...

Fine, I'll eat there again. But they're on probation!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I can't explain it, but I've been on a pretty serious sandwich kick lately. I really don't know what's brought this new craving on. But I can't seem to stop.

Don't get me wrong, I've always enjoyed the occasional sandwich. But over the last few weeks, I've gotten pickier about my sandwiches. I was introduced to Jimmy John's. And their sandwiches are pretty good.

So I've been having these subs. Whenever someone at work suggests having Jimmy John's delivered I jump on it. It makes me look forward to lunch. And it becomes so much more than just getting a half hour away from the teller line.

But thanks to these delivered sandwiches (as well as some pretty awesome subs from Sheetz), I've decided that a few slices of turkey slapped between two pieces of loaf bread just isn't good enough anymore. I can't afford to keep ordering subs from these restaurants, but I really want to keep having that caliber of sandwich. Does anyone have any ideas?

Grocery stores have pretty decent sub rolls in their bakeries, right? I know they'll cost more than you're average dollar loaf of sliced bread, but they'll be so much better. Just thinking about the different meats and cheeses and the chewy bread is making me hungry again. And I just finished a sub not too long ago. What's wrong with me?

Do they have a sandwich eaters anonymous?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

For Good or For Awesome

You remember my friend Jen, right? She's Nicole's sister. She's the one that I visited in LA back in '08. If you need a refresher course, you can refer to JenStock 2008. Remember who she is now? Okay good, we can continue.

Jen will be running in a 5K in April to raise money for Children's Cancer Research. In order to raise money, this means she needs donations from readers like you. So please, follow the link below and make a donation. Every little bit helps. If I find out that she's not getting a good response, I will resort to tugging at your heart strings and posting pictures of children and sharing actual stories from cancer fighters and survivors.

I'll also be putting the link over to the right, so it will be there as a gentle reminder that funds must be raised. And now, in the words of Jen herself:

Welcome! I have been an extremely amateur runner since 2000 and I have decided that if I'm going to run, I should run for someone other than myself. On April 25th, I will be running a 5k in downtown Los Angeles to raise money for the Children's Cancer Research Fund. For twenty years, this organization has not only awarded research grants in the clinical study of pediatric oncology but strived to provide a warm and entertaining environment to children who are still waiting on a cure. All money raised will go to this wonderful cause and will help them take one step closer to finding a cure.
Total Donations Collected:$125.00
Goal: $500
$0 25% $500

Monday, February 22, 2010

Greatest Hits: Worry

 Originally posted on 5/24/2009:

 Most people I know worry more than I do. I'm generally not a worrier. In fact, when problems come along, I probably don't worry enough about them. But maybe that's a good thing.

It's not that I don't get stressed out over stuff. The occasion does come along when I do get overwhelmed, but it's a momentary thing. I don't tend to dwell on things, past, present, or future.

The way I see it, what's the point of worrying about something? If you sit there and over think your circumstances, you just end up with a headache or an ulcer. Dwelling on something won't change what's going on. Heck, even doing something may not necessarily diminish your worries. So just sit back and let it go by. Because, eventually, it'll be over and life will go on.

Or, in the words of the great Van Wilder: "Worrying is like a rocking chair. It'll give you something to do but won't get you anywhere."

Look, I'm not naive enough to think that there aren't genuine reasons to be worried. In today's world we're bombarded with worries: terminal illness, unemployment, threat of terrorism, global warming, cannibal clowns... there are so many problems out there with which to deal. I just don't think it does anyone any good to worry about these things.

So try to relax. It's probably not as bad as it seems.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

When Pigs Fly

"I'll show 'em!" Hank shouted to himself as he violently pushed open the screen door and stormed out of the back of the house. The kid was angry, and in his anger he stomped his way across the yard, making his way to the barn. His father had just graciously reminded him that he had chores to do, and so he would do them. But he didn't have to be happy about it.

Working on the farm had been fun when Hank was younger. In those simpler days, he would ride on Daddy's lap while he drove the tractor. He would do little things to help out, like carry water from the pump over to the troughs. Of course, at the time, one bucket of water was almost more than the kid could handle. But all that hard work as a youngster prepared him for the chores he was expected to take care of as a teenager.

Now, at 14 years of age, he and his father butted heads much more often than they used to. Chores were no longer fun for him. Working the farm that his grandfather had built from next to nothing was definitely not something he saw himself doing his entire life. Hank was doing well in school, much better than his sister or either of his parents ever did. Hank wanted to keep on learning and had a hunger for knowledge. But any time the subject of education came up, Henry Buchanan, Sr. was quick to shut it down.

It isn't that Henry didn't want his son to have a fine education. Henry understood the value of knowledge and information. But Henry was set in his ways. His only son was only 14 years old, and already he was talking about leaving the farm once he finished high school. Already he was talking about what university he wanted to go to. Already he was so eager to leave behind the life that the Buchanan's had so carefully carved out for themselves.

"I just want to go and see what the campus looks like," Hank had said to his parents when he got home from school. "It's an optional trip, but the school is providing transportation. Lots of other kids are going. I just need one of you to sign the permission slip."

Henry had taken the paper from his son's hand and began to look it over. "I don't know about this. You're just a freshman in high school, do you really need to start looking this closely at college?" Henry's hope was to discourage his son early. He hoped Hank would eventually come back around to his way of thinking. College wasn't a bad thing, but this farm had been left to him by his own father, and Henry had every intention of leaving it in the hands of his son when he finally passed on.

"How am I too young? If I find a good school I can find out what their requirements are. I can work harder towards specific goals while I'm still in high school. That way, when I finally start college, I'll be that much further ahead, as opposed to starting at square one and feeling like I need to catch up." Hank was passionate about his education, Henry could clearly see that.

Henry continued to waver on the issue, but he leaned more toward the negative. Hank began to see that his father wouldn't see reason here. He looked over to his mother, who had been sitting in silence the entire time. The look on her face told Hank that she would never speak against her husband. He was on his own in this argument.

And an argument is what it had turned into. Both of their words had grown louder and more heated until finally Henry pulled out the old stand-by, "You'll go to that college when pigs fly!"

It was while Hank was finishing the last of his chores for the day that what his father had last said finally hit him. When pigs fly. He was filling the pigs' feed troughs and stopped. He stood there, staring at the pigs as they noisily slopped through what passed as their food. When pigs fly.

The wheels in Hank's head started turning. At a very young age, he had shown that he had a fairly strong streak of ingenuity. His mind began to work quickly, and he knew he could come up with a way to make one of those pigs fly.

Over the next few weeks, Hank was seldom seen inside the house. He came in for supper, but that's the only time Henry saw him. He chose not to complain about his son's absence. The chores were getting done and the kid didn't seem to be doing anything irresponsible. He just chalked it up to the fact that Hank was still angry over their last discussion on higher education. Henry assumed that, eventually, he would get over it.

And yes, Hank was still getting his chores done. He was still going to school like he was supposed to and he was getting his homework done in record time. The rest of his time, however, was spent near the far edge of their property. He needed to work where he wouldn't be seen by his parents. They wouldn't understand what it was he was doing. It would only make them more upset. So he worked in secret.

Hank had read about catapults a few years ago. He learned how, in medieval times, an enemy would lay siege to a castle and would launch attacks over the walls using these incredible machines. He spent a few days in the library, boning up on the technical aspects of how such a contraption might work. Then he spent his allowance on the necessary materials. It took him longer than he had hoped (by the time he finished, the field trip to the college had come and gone), but his hard work paid off when he successfully launched a watermelon a distance of 50 yards.

But that couldn't be the end of it. He had to make the pig fly, not just get it in the air to let it fend for itself. If he wanted to kill a pig, he would have just taken the shotgun from the den and been done with it. He knew he needed some way to keep the pig in the air and give it a nice, soft landing. So he was back to the books.

Time was getting to be an issue. It would be summer soon. With the end of the school year came the end to his easy access to library materials. In the time he had left, he learned all he could about kites and gliding and aerodynamics and wingspan; he looked for anything he thought would be remotely helpful to his cause. Finally he designed a harness that would fit around the pig and would act as a hang glider.

After buying more materials and a few more weeks of hard work, he had his glider ready. He knew that, technically, the pig would never really fly. But gliding was close enough. And thanks to his deteriorating opinion of his father, he figured the old man would never know the difference anyway.

When everything was ready, he tested it all on another large watermelon. He was careful to adjust the harness perfectly, so that the melon wouldn't slip out in mid-flight. When he was satisfied that all was ready, he pulled the lever on the catapult and watched his watermelon take to the air. He couldn't believe how well it worked. If anyone had seen the flying fruit, they'd have probably thought themselves insane. Hank couldn't contain his excitement as he jumped up and down.

Hank regained his composure and made the long trek back to the house. As had been the norm for the last month or so, he walked through the house and up the stairs without so much as a word to either of his parents. He got undressed and laid down in his bed. As Hank began to drift off to sleep, he couldn't help but smile all over again. I'll show 'em... When pigs fly...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Back to the Future

I've spoken a number of times regarding my deep and abiding love for all things Back to the Future. I've sat through the trilogy countless times. When I visited Los Angeles back in 2008, Jen took me on a whirlwind adventure that included many of the locations used in the films. I wish I could articulate for you just why I love this movie so. But I'm not sure that I can.

And it's not just me. Back to the Future has made it onto a lot of top 10 lists, both official and unofficial. It never won a best picture Oscar (though they did walk away with the award for sound editing). And though it was nominated for several Golden Globes, none of those were won. So what makes Back to the Future such an enduring classic? What is it about this film that would cause so many people, from presidents to average joes, to quote its lines endlessly?

It's a pretty complicated story that has roots in a pretty simple concept. According to Bob Gale, who co-wrote the movie with director Robert Zemeckis, some of the idea hit him when he was going through his dad's old yearbooks. He asked himself if he would have been friends with his dad in high school. Somehow, this idea evolved into my favorite movie of all time.

Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, a kid who seems to be barely getting by. He has an unexplained friendship with Dr. Emmett Brown, a wild eyed scientist who has spent his life coming up with failed ideas and inventions. But in 1985, Doc Brown finally invents something that works. He turns a DeLorean into a time machine, which accidentally transports Marty 30 years into the past. And while time travel sounds like it's all fun and games, it gets pretty crazy for Marty, especially when he bumps into his parents, interrupts their first meeting, and begins a chain of events that can only end in Marty and his siblings being erased from existence.

And if you don't know what happens and how Marty is able to save the space/time continuum, then shame on you. That means you haven't seen the movie and you've possibly been living under a rock for the past 25 years. Back to the Future is available on DVD. Go get it and watch it. It's got action. It's got humor. It's got complicated science fiction plot threads that almost sound plausible. It's got Huey Lewis and the News. What's not to love?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Question of the Week: Honored

If by sacrificing your life you could contribute so much to the world that you would be honored in all nations, would you be willing to do so? If so, would you make the same sacrifice knowing that someone you thoroughly disliked would receive the honor while you went unrecognized?

The idea behind a sacrifice is that something valuable is being given up for the greater good. The credit for it shouldn't matter. If someone is willing to make a sacrifice, then they shouldn't be thinking about what they'll get out of it, even if it's posthumously. If they're doing it for the credit, they're doing it for the wrong reasons. Pretty sure Jesus wasn't thinking about how the Church would be worshiping him for the next 2000 years while he was hanging on the cross. He did what He did out of love for the world, not for the recognition. So yeah, if a small sacrifice on my part (and anything on my part would be incredibly small compared to Christ's sacrifice) would bring about any contribution to the world for the better, I'd be willing to do it, whether I got the credit or not.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXIII

I got a strange e-mail from my manager today. He requested that I meet him in the break room, but not to let anyone know that's what I was doing. I quickly and covertly made it known that I needed to use the restroom. It was a lie. And in using that lie, I felt like I was being very inconspicuous and taking part in a secret meeting.

Turns out he just needed to get my opinion on some things that had been happening behind the teller line over the last couple days. It seems that issues arise and are brought to his attention. But he's not able to just come and hang out with the tellers and wait for problems to come up. He can't just sit on the teller line with an extinguisher any time a fire flares up.

At the same time, he wasn't really asking me to be his eyes and ears. But he seemed pretty aware that I can provide an unbiased opinion when one is needed.

A few weeks ago he asked me if I was happy with my job. I decided to be honest. I told him that I wasn't happy, but I made sure he knew that it was no reflection of him or anyone else I work with. I just didn't see the point in lying about my feelings toward the job.

As we wrapped up our conversation today, he did say he wished I was happier here. His reasoning: I have a pretty firm grip on the job I do. I'm not sure I would say that about myself, but it does feel good to know that my boss sees it, even if I don't.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Life Story: Chapter Forty

I found myself in a sad and desolate place. But I did my best to make the best of the situation. I dutifully participated in my counseling sessions. Each morning and evening I took the various anti-depressants that the heartless psychiatrist prescribed for me. Once a week, when the dietitian would come by to let me choose my meals, I did so under the mindset that I would force myself to eat those meals, whether I was hungry for them or not.

I was still anorexic. At least, I was what the doctors labeled as anorexic. As I sat in the eating disorder group meetings, I got a look at what true anorexia looked like. Since male eating disorders are a rare occurrence, the only other people in the meetings were girls, including the counselors. In meeting these young women, I realized that whatever was wrong with me had nothing to do with the textbook definition of anorexia.

I knew I was sick. I knew that I was grossly underweight. I knew that I needed to find a way to gain weight or my body would eventually just give out. The girls in the group were insistent that they were fat. That's how they saw themselves. I've mentioned before that, when I looked in the mirror, I saw nothing but skin and bone. Whatever psychological switch it was in my head that told me not to eat, it wasn't because I thought I was fat.

But I was doing pretty well. The days went by and I started having little successes. There were a couple of guys that worked with the kids named Kevin and Hank. I'm not exactly sure what their job titles were, but they were very encouraging to me. As were the other kids on the unit. It may sound corny, but for the short time we knew each other, we became a makeshift family.

At one point, Kevin decided that he would publicly keep track of the meals I completed. In the beginning, one completed meal was a huge step for me. There was a time when I could complain that I was full after swallowing only a few bites. But these guys would sit at the table with me while I ate. It was like having Apollo Creed in my corner, backing me up and pushing me on when I started getting punch drunk.

There was a small chalkboard on the wall near the table in the adolescent unit. Once I finished that first meal, Kevin walked over and wrote a big number 1 on it. As the days went by, that number grew. As I completed consecutive meals, the number grew to over 50. Things were finally looking good for old Aaron.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Look, I did two posts yesterday. Sure, one of them was a rerun from an older post. But then I wrote something new after work last night. But today, I'm not really coming up with anything good to write about. It's late and it's been a long day. It started out rough, 'cause of all the work. But it ended on a pretty high note. But it's still been a long day. And I've got nothing to offer tonight. So I'm just gonna need you guys to talk amongst yourselves. I promise, I'll have something good tomorrow. I promise. Really. So be sure to come back. And bring your friends. They won't be disappointed either.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Perils of Pizza Delivery, Part 4

It's President's Day, and while I was more than happy to have the day off from the bank, I was required to deliver pizza. I can't remember the last time I had to work a Monday night. And they just happened to schedule me on one of the few Mondays that I don't have to work the day job. Thanks guys.

I got there tonight and attempted to clock in, as I normally do. But the computer screen told me that my insurance had expired and refused to let me clock in. I knew the computer had to be wrong. Geico took $38 out of my account Saturday. I better not be expired.

A shift manager that I didn't know at all (and I'm still not sure of his name) spent the first half hour I was at the store trying to figure out how to update my information in the system. That's right, I was there for half an hour without getting paid. That was a lot of fun for me.

We finally got all of that settled. And then, another wrinkle, the computer that the drivers use to assign deliveries decided to stop working all together. I guess the system wasn't pleased with my last minute insurance renewal and punished us all.

Just when you think you can trust the computers...

Greatest Hits: Language

Originally posted on 4/19/2009:

Are you more careful about what you say on Sundays?

When I was in high school, for some kind of English class project, one of my classmates did a simple study on the use of profanities among the students. Again, I'm not entirely sure what the point of the project was. I can't even remember what my project was about, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about curse words.

Through the use of her surveys, she determined that people swear less on Sundays than they do any other day of the week. I think she found that people curse more on Mondays than any other day. I don't have the statistics to back this up. And I'm not sure that there have been any truly official studies on this subject. It's just something I was thinking about.

I'm careful about the things that come out of my mouth every day. Particularly when I'm around other people. I'm careful about a lot of things regarding my temper when I'm around others. But I'm more careful about my language, because as my college friends would readily agree, language is the first thing to go when I get fed up.

Many nights in college, several of us would crowd around an X-Box and play Halo for endless hours. We would just do a four-way split-screen death-match that would start off calm. But then Dereck, who owned the system and played very regularly, would begin to systematically pick each of us off one by one with a sniper rifle. He'd hide in the shadow of a rock high up on a cliff and just take us down over and over again. Things were not so calm by this point. We'd all start shouting obscenities at each other. Not that we truly meant any of those harsh words, but it was how we released our frustrations. I'm not saying it was right, it's just how it happened.

Often times, when I find myself alone, I revert back to that sort of anger. I get frustrated when I'm behind a slow driver and say things that I would never let that slow driver hear me say. But I say them nonetheless. I'm not saying it's right, it's just how it happens.

Most of the time I feel guilty for letting some of these words escape my lips. But there are times I try to rationalize. Why should I feel bad for saying some of the things I'm saying? At some point someone decided that there were certain words that were inappropriate to say in polite society. Again, I'm not saying it's right, it's just how it happens. Sometimes.

The things that come out of our mouths are a reflection of what's in our hearts. So what does that say about the condition of my heart?

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I didn't know what to do and I was beginning to panic. The proctor had already handed out the blue books and had left to get his cup of coffee. I knew he would do that. And I knew that I only had a few seconds, maybe a minute, until he returned. After that, my short window of opportunity would be lost forever.

In my pocket I had a copy of the professor's answer key. Don't ask me how I got it. I just had it. The how isn't important. The important question that faced at that moment was, Will I use it?

The clock was ticking the seconds away. At any moment that stuck-up brown-noser of a teaching assistant would return to sit at the front of the class working on his Sudoku puzzles while we, the auditorium full of sociology students rushed through a ridiculous mid-term. Only I didn't need to panic. I had all the answers in my pocket.

And it would be so easy. All I had to do was reach in, grab the paper, inconspicuously unfold it, and copy the answers into my booklet. But what if I got caught? What if, in a moment of thought about which number goes in which square, the aide looked up and saw that I was looking at something other than the test sheet or my blue book?

For me, it wasn't about my moral fiber. I couldn't care less about the ethics of cheating. I just didn't want to fail one class for a stupid mistake like getting caught. I glanced at the clock again, my leg was convulsing uncontrollably. I looked over at the entrance to the classroom; there was still no sign of the proctor.

I began to reach into my left pocket. I couldn't look around me. I didn't want the other students to see what I was doing, but I didn't want to call attention to myself by looking to see if anyone else was looking. And then the door flew open. Why did he have to walk into the room with such a flourish? What a melodramatic douche. I cursed under my breath and withdrew my hand. Without the answer key.

The guy next to me shushed me and I shot him a don't-mess-with-me glare. But by the time I turned to him, he was already back to his exam. I was on my own now. The only answers I could rely on were the ones that I had locked away inside my brain.

But hey, at least my dad would be proud. My ethics would remain intact for at least one more day.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

How to Avoid Annoying Single People on Valentine's Day

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. It's that one day out of the year that couples seem to make it known to the world that they're in a relationship. It's the one day that single people are reminded in bold italics that they are SINGLE. But, to those of you who are part of a couple, you don't need to pity those who will spend Valentine's Day alone. All we ask is that you not annoy us with your coupleness.

I know, you don't even realize you're doing it, especially if you're in that lovey-dovey stage of the relationship. But in case you were wondering, I've compiled a list of things that you can do to avoid invoking the single community's gag reflex.

1. Keep the PDA to a minimum
For those of you who are unaware, PDA refers to Public Displays of Affection, not the hand held electronic device that keeps important people up to speed on their day-to-day operations. These Public Displays of Affection include but are not limited to kissing, prolonged hugging, prolonged side hugs, playful shoving, and to a lesser extent, hand holding. Also, if you're in the 3rd grade, please refrain from too much hitting.

2. Be aware of your eye contact
I know that you like to look into each others' eyes. Yeah, they're beautiful, aren't they? But please know that there are other people standing around. And they're watching you as you watch each other. And while they may not say anything out loud about your incessant staring, they're secretly mocking you in their minds. Trust me, it's true.

3. Refrain from too many pet names
I think that pet names can be sweet. It's nice for someone to occasionally call you "honey" or "sweetheart" or "sport". It's nice to have that sense of familiarity every now and then. But all good things must come in moderation. We don't need to hear your made up names that are really all words that have no true meaning in English or any other language. Schmoopy? I mean really, where did that even come from?

4. Don't one up yourself or anyone else
It's not possible to keep it up year after year. Eventually you're going to run out of great ideas. Once you've hired the Good Year Blimp to proclaim your love while you're ice skating at the Rockefeller Center with rose petals lining the rink, you've pretty much hit the top. Just try to keep it low key, 'cause the people at the basketball game don't really care about seeing you and your significant other on the Jumbotron. They want to see the replay of that awesome slam dunk.

5. Stop involving us in your romantic schemes
If you can't pull it off by yourself, then it's too elaborate. I really don't want to help you hide your little notes or your clues to the next clues that will eventually lead to a huge teddy bear holding a Russell Stover sampler. Also, I don't want to give you any ideas. If my ideas were really all that great, wouldn't I be using them to land my own special someone on Valentine's Day?

6. Quit pretending like Valentine's Day is so special
If you love the person that you're with, let them know it every day. Don't hold out until February 14th. I'm sure there's a deep meaning behind what makes St. Valentine's Day such a special day for loved ones. But in today's society, it's become the day when greeting card companies and lingerie designers sit back and collect their huge bonus checks. And that's because so many people just forget to show their love throughout the other 364 days in the year.

7. Go easy on the flowers
I know a lot of the time, you go online and pick out a bouquet that looks pretty. But looks can be deceiving. Not all flowers that are pleasant to look at are all that pleasant to smell. Flowers are dying anyway, so eventually, even the good ones will start smelling bad. Also, a side note, the makers of allergy medications make billions of dollars a year for a reason. I'm just sayin'. 

I'm sure there are other annoyances that I haven't thought of. These are just the ones that immediately come to mind. And before you label me a mean, bitter old man, just remember that I'm providing this as a public service to you and yours. Because there are a lot of single people like me who see the 14th day of February approaching with hardened hearts. We only grow more cynical and our sarcasm knows no bounds. So if you can avoid annoying us, then we can avoid sending you judgmental glares and hurtful remarks.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Question of the Week: Dollar

On a busy street you are approached apologetically by a well-dressed stranger who asks for a dollar to catch a bus and make a phone call. He says he has lost his wallet. What would you do? If approached in the same way by a haggard-looking stranger claiming to be hungry and unable to find a job, what would you do?

First of all, I generally don't carry cash around with me anymore. Occasionally I'll have a few dollars the day after I've delivered pizza, but usually I go right ahead and deposit that into my account so I can use that handy debit card the bank gave me. But let's assume I have the dollar to spare. I'd give it to either of these men. I mean, it's just a dollar. Though, to be completely honest, I'd be more likely to hang around and hear what the well-dressed stranger had to say. I'm ashamed to say it, but the truth of the matter is that I'd probably look at the haggard dude with fearful and probably judgmental eyes. I know that's horrible to say, but it's true. I'm sure that later, I'd feel guilty for having judged someone like that, because it's not my place and I don't know his story. But I do know that if I gave someone the chance to ask for a dollar and I had it to give, I'd give it.

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

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Beaker's Ballad

I'm glad that the Muppets' comeback seems to be continuing. It wasn't long ago that we got a taste of the Muppet version of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Now we have Beaker squealing out the classic Kansas song "Dust in the Wind." It's almost as good as Will Ferrell's take in Old School.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Legends of the Bank Teller - Episode LXXII

I've written of the beautiful girl that comes to the drive through every now and again. It seems that she can go several weeks without putting in an appearance, but then she makes up for it by driving through once a day for roughly a week. I like to think that she's making up for time lost.

That's sort of what's happened over the last few days at work. I'm fairly certain that I hadn't seen she-who-shall-not-be-named since 2009. Then Friday I saw her car pull up and I had to force myself to contain my excitement. Okay, I didn't have to force myself too much. I am the picture of calm under pressure. Unless I get really irritated, but even then I'm able to keep a lid on things in front of the customers. Anyway, she had no idea the joy that was just under the surface.

To top it off, she came by again on Monday. I couldn't believe it. Two business days in a row when I hadn't seen her in a month. I saw that white SUV pull into view and the stress of the previous few hours just melted away. And then I saw her sitting behind the wheel. I know this is entirely superficial, but as good as she looked when I saw her Friday, she looked exponentially better on Monday. I don't think hot is a strong enough word.

She came by Tuesday too. But I was at lunch. Thus I missed her third visit. Ryan, our newest addition to the branch came back to the break room to brag that he saw her and I didn't. I'm not sure I appreciated that. But it's okay. I like to think she was disappointed that I wasn't there when she drove by. According to April, a fellow teller, you-know-who did not take off her sunglasses. That is one of her usual moves when I speak to her. Coincidence? April also mentioned that she did not make eye contact as much as she generally does. Again, coincidence?

I'm fairly certain that the following will never happen, but in my mind, the possibility exists. She could drive by some day and invite me to lunch. It is at that point that I would have to inform my manager that I quit. I would have to walk out on my job. When I informed Ryan about that possible chain of events, he told me that if I didn't quit for that very reason, he would fire me. It's good that someone else in the branch understands just how amazingly gorgeous this woman is.

I mean really, how superficial am I now?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Why Rice Krispies Treats Are the Perfect Snack

Rice Krispies treats. There's a good chance you're drooling right now just thinking of them. Be honest if you are. Just try to keep it off the keyboard. Salivation really isn't good for the hardware.

The Rice Krispies treat is an easy thing to make. You take some Rice Krispies (and it's gotta be the Kellogg's brand, not the generic stuff). Then you get some marshmallows. And then you add some butter. Okay, so I'm not exactly sure how you make them. But I'm sure there are recipes on the internet that can be easily found. Google it and let me know.

They taste pretty good though. It's the meshing of those flavors that make the treats so special. I prefer the homemade version as opposed to the store bought kind.

When we were kids, whenever we'd go on a road trip, particularly to Nashville for family events, Dad would make Rice Krispies treats for us to snack on in the car. There were rare occasions when Dad didn't have time to make the snack treats and we had to go with store bought stuff. But the ones that Dad made were always better. I think he added more butter than the factories add.

I may have overstepped my bounds by calling Rice Krispies treats the perfect snack. After all, I haven't personally eaten one since before Dad passed away. But I have fond memories.

I also enjoy Bugles.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Greatest Hits: The Old Book

Originally posted on 4/4/2009:

On one of my days off I had some time to kill. On those days off, that was really the only kind of time I had. Most days I would spend time reading or watching movies or surfing the internet, just escaping into some kind of entertainment that would make the seconds tick away until it was time to go back to work. It's not that I looked forward to going back to work. But work is something I was getting paid to do. I wasn't paid to sit on my couch and rewatch Back to the Future for the 83rd time.

So on that particular off day, during that particular time kill spree, I found my way to a used bookstore. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, I was just looking. I'm one of those guys that likes stories. And even though the means of printing books these days is far more accurate than it was in the good old days, older books still seem to be more important. It's almost as if, by being older, those books have a closer connection to the author. As if, by holding on to those antique texts, you can obtain a clearer meaning from the writer's words.

Most used bookstores don't carry anything out of the ordinary. In fact, most of what you'll find are books from maybe ten years ago with torn dust jackets or missing covers. I found myself walking down the aisle marked MYSTERIES, glossing over dozens of innocuous novels. But then something caught my eye. On the top shelf, I noticed an old, leather-bound book that just didn't seem to fit in with the others.

Curiosity grabbed hold of me and I couldn't help but reach up and grab hold of this volume. Immediately, the most striking thing about it was there was no title; not on the spine and not on the cover. From what I could tell, it was just a book. It didn't glow. I didn't open it up and get whisked away to some fantastic far away land. But I did open it up.

Upon flipping through the first few pages I noticed the smell. It was that smell that you only experience when you go into your grandparents' attic. A strange mixture of cedar and moth balls and ancient dust. In a way, it's as if I had been transported back to a place I knew, but hadn't experienced for many years.

Those first few pages were blank. There was no copyright, no authorship, and still no title. Then I came across the handwritten words that shook my very foundation.

My Son,
I can never fully express how deeply sorry I am. I can never expect you to forgive me either. I've made many mistakes in the span of my life, but I've always done everything with your best interests at heart. My only true regret is that I haven't tried to contact you sooner.
I'm fighting a losing battle now, but I couldn't quit this fight until I let you know, somehow, just how much I love you. In spite of everything, I have always considered you the greatest blessing in my life. I guess a boy just needs his mother.
The pages in this book contain the story of our lives, your mother's and mine. I hope that you'll read them and find it in your heart to forgive me, even if it's long after I've gone. Good-bye, son.

Before I could realize what was happening, I saw a tear hit the page I was reading. I could only assume the letter was written from an ailing father to his estranged son. I'm not sure why that one page touched me as deeply as it had. Perhaps I was missing my own father and wishing I had one more chance to tell him I loved him.

It didn't seem like this book would be a mystery, but I was intrigued nonetheless. I wanted desperately to find out about the man who wrote that letter. What choices did he make that caused his son to be so far away from him? Had something happened to the boy's mother? Had he blamed his father?

The book had no price on it. I had hoped that meant it was free, but the cashier charged me five dollars anyway. I figured a true story about real lives would be well worth that small price.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


She just sat there minding her own business. She didn't know that Alex was sitting in the cubicle across from hers awkwardly gazing in her direction. Maybe that's because she was actually doing her job.

Meanwhile, Alex leaned on his hand with a goofy expression on his face. He was like a kid in school with a crush on his teacher. He briefly met Alyson when she started working for the company two weeks earlier. Other than a fast handshake and a quick "Welcome to the team," he hadn't really had a conversation with the new girl. All he knew about her was that she was possibly the most beautiful woman he'd ever met. And she worked right across from him, trapped in the same nowhere job.

His phone rang and broke him from his daydream. "This is Alex... Uh-huh... No, sir... I'll get right on that." Alex's conversation with his immediate supervisor ended just as quickly as it had begun. Guess it was time for him to do some real work now. He could no longer sit there and drool over the girl of his dreams. But she wasn't far from his thoughts as he got back to his spreadsheets.

As he input the numbers and analyzed the data, he rationalized his crush. Sure, he had looked up her Facebook profile once or twice. It's not like he was actually stalking her. He just liked to catch a glimpse of her in her cubicle from time to time. And he was mature enough to know that he wasn't in love with the girl. He would categorize it as a mild infatuation. You can't love someone that you haven't had a conversation with, right?

But what was stopping him from having that conversation with her? He was pretty sure she was out of his league. Every day Alex told himself that he would work up the nerve to invite her to lunch. There was an Applebee's just outside the office complex in which they worked. It wasn't anything fancy, but it would give them a chance to actually talk. But then his fear would set in.

He was afraid that, if presented with the opportunity to talk to Alyson, he would forget how to speak English. He was afraid that he would just sit there and stare while she awkwardly tried to carry the conversation on her own. It's not the kind of thing that had ever happened to him before, but he'd seen it happen to other guys. It was unbearable to watch. It had to be humiliating for the people involved. He didn't want to go through that. He didn't want to put her through that.

So he remained in his cubicle. Just him and his cowardice. But then it hit him. Just as he arrived at line 87 on his current report, he got an inspired idea. He would send her an e-mail.

Alex knew that an e-mail wasn't the classiest way to introduce one's self, but it was what he had. He pulled up the company contact list and found Alyson's address. He clicked the link to compose a new message. And instead of staring at the girl in the other cubicle, he stared at the blank screen in front of him. And he just sat there.

He had expected that his fingers would just fly across the keyboard and he would be able to put into words just a little bit of what he felt for Alyson. He knew that an e-mail wouldn't be the way to just come out and say "I've got a crush on you," but he thought he could at least break the ice. He thought it would be a good way to let her know that he existed. He thought that maybe she would open the e-mail, look across the aisle at him, and then she'd smile. He'd seen her smile enough to know that her smile lit up the room. But she'd never smiled at him before.

But the page on the screen remained blank. "Is that my e-mail address?"

He was broken from his stupor by the sweetest voice he'd ever heard. He knew instantly that it was Alyson. She was standing behind his chair and she had seen that he was about to send her an e-mail. What was he supposed to say? Of course it's her e-mail address, there was no getting around that.

He stammered, "Uh, yeah, it is. I was, um... I was about to send you an e-mail."

"Yeah, I can see that," she said, smiling innocently at him. Alex had to work hard to remain composed. Her smile just about turned him to putty. "But you know, I work about five feet from you. You could just walk over and tell me whatever you need to say."

"Well, it's just that you looked busy. I didn't want to bother you," he lied. "Are you still working on the McKinley account?"

"Oh, that's all you needed?" He couldn't believe his ears, but he thought she sounded disappointed. "I'm not quite done with it, but I was getting ready to leave for lunch. Did you need it now?"

"No, I was just curious."

And then the awkward silence began. The silence didn't last that long, but to Alex, it felt like hours. He watched her as she looked down at her feet. He could tell she felt as awkward as he did. She reached up and pushed her hair behind her ear. Alex sought words to fill the void. "So... lunch?"

"Oh yeah, I was gonna go to Applebee's," Alyson seemed relieved that he had finally spoken.

This was an open door. All Alex had to do was step over the threshold and suggest that he join her. It was just that simple. Then he could finally have a real conversation with the woman he'd been watching for weeks. He could find out where she was from. He could learn where she went to school, how old she was, if she thought Star Wars was as awesome as he knew it to be.

Just then, he felt as if his spine grew in, as if it had never been there to begin with. "Would you like some company?" Had he really just invited himself to lunch with her? Was this really happening? Or had the hypnotic glow of the overhead florescent lights finally done their job? Had he fallen into some kind of other-worldly trance in which even his dreams seemed life like?

"That would be great! Sorry, I didn't mean to sound overly excited." Was she embarrassed? "It's just that, well, I haven't really made any friends since I started working here. I just wanted to have a conversation with someone that didn't involve spreadsheets and crunching numbers."

"I completely understand. I've been here for six months and I hardly know any of these people." And with that he closed out his e-mail. He put his computer in sleep mode. And then Alex rose from his chair and walked out of the office with Alyson, the girl of his dreams.

Guess they both had a message they wanted to get across.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Super Mario and the Super Let-Down

A few months ago, Nintendo came out with a brand new Super Mario game. New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought with it the ability to play a game with new control capabilities and new graphics. It also brought an incredible amount of nostalgia. In a world full of 3D graphics and the need to put the player right into the game, it was nice to see a classic side-scrolling 2D kind of adventure.

But this game was wicked hard. It was a lot harder than I remember the Mario games being when I was a kid. So, is it just me? I mean, when I was a kid I prided myself on being able to master those classic Super Mario Bros. titles. I loved being able to explore all those different levels, find all the hidden power ups, all the extra lives. But I started playing this new game and I found myself losing heart before making it to world 3.

So is Nintendo just making things a lot harder these days? Or have I just completely lost touch with the kid that I once was?

But here I am, several months after buying the new game, and I finally defeated Bowser. I saved the princess. And I was kind of disappointed by the ending. But why should I be disappointed? Why should I be surprised at my disappointment? All of these games always end the same. Mario stops Bowser. He rescues the kidnapped princess. The end. Why would a new version of the same old story have a different ending?

Super Mario Galaxy 2 is coming soon. Maybe things there will be different. Doubtful though. We'll be back to the modern 3D junk, flying around to different places, saving the princess all over again. She should really look into getting a better security system. We can't just have a giant fire-breathing dinosaur creature breaking into the palace at the Mushroom Kingdom every few months. It's beginning to border on ridiculous.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Question of the Week: Vindication

While in the government, you discover the President is committing extortion and other serious crimes. By exposing the situation you may bring about the President's downfall, but your career would be destroyed because you would be framed, fired, and publicly humiliated on other matters. Knowing you would be vindicated five years later, would you blow the whistle? What if you knew you would never be vindicated?

I would absolutely blow the whistle. Someone who is supposed to hold the trust of an entire nation should not be allowed to continue committing crimes of any kind. Whether I'd be vindicated for false accusations against myself or not really shouldn't matter. The right thing to do would be to make sure the most powerful man in the world isn't able to abuse his office.

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

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - A Top Ten List

For those of you who may be unaware, I have a deep and abiding love for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Part of me would like to say that this is merely limited to a mild crush on Sarah Michelle Gellar, but that's just not it. In my humble opinion, it's a brilliant TV show. Thanks to Joss Whedon's creation of Buffy, I've chosen to give any of his work a chance, leading to not quite as deep and abiding love for Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, all of which ended before their time.

On a side note, my friends Leo and Erynn once tried to convince me that Joss Whedon is not actually one person, but a conglomeration of individuals. Maybe they believe that one person couldn't possibly come up with something as brilliant as Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'd agree, but I've seen interviews. I'm pretty sure he's a real guy.

Anyway, I've recently been rewatching all of my Buffy DVDs. It's interesting to go back to the beginning and watch how the actors and writers evolved over the seven year span of the series. And so, without further ado, I give you my ten favorite episodes...

10. Innocence - Season 2, written by Joss Whedon
It's the one where Angel lost his soul and became the Big Bad that Buffy would face for the rest of the season. It's bad enough that she had to deal with Spike & Drusilla, but then the love of her life turns to the dark side after a moment of true happiness. But even though watching Buffy get her heart broken was... well... heart breaking... watching Angelus torment her and her friends was pretty much awesome. Angel was pretty depressing as a good guy, but as a bad guy he was all kinds of fun.

9. Prophecy Girl - Season 1, written by Joss Whedon
This was the first season finale, in which Buffy finally faced The Master, her first real adversary. The ancient vampire escaped his mystical underground prison and attempted to open the Sunnydale Hellmouth, killing Buffy in the process. But she was only mostly dead. Xander was able to give her mouth-to-mouth and save her from drowning. She dusted The Master, the Hellmouth closed, and the day was saved. It was a good end to Buffy's first year in Sunnydale.

8. Helpless - Season 3, written by David Fury
And you thought I was just gonna pick Joss Whedon's episodes. Buffy prepares to celebrate her 18th birthday by having her slayer powers taken away from her. The Watchers' Council performs this test on all Slayers that reach their 18th birthday. The Slayer's typical strength and reflexes are removed, then she's placed in a difficult situation facing a dangerous vampire which she must slay relying only on her wits. What's great about this episode is that it really strips Buffy down to who she is beyond being the Slayer. It also deeply explores her relationship with Giles, who proves to love Buffy like a father, rather than merely being her Watcher.

7. Restless - Season 4, written by Joss Whedon
The fourth season finale had no Big Bad. The Scooby Gang beat him in the previous episode by performing a magic spell that ticked off the spirit of the first Slayer. The first Slayer then attacked our heroes in their dreams. In each dream, we saw a bit of each character's fears and fantasies. And we found out a little more about the Slayer mythology, discovering a little more about what makes her tick.

6.Becoming, Part II - Season 2, written by Joss Whedon
In the season 2 finale, Buffy was forced to kill Angel in order to stop an awakened demon from sucking the world into hell. I know that sounds really complicated. But what it boils down to is that Buffy had to give up everything in her life to do what was right. In the end, she was fighting an evil Angelus without the support of her family or her friends. When Angel pointed this out to her, she realized that she was left with herself, the Slayer, which was more than enough to take out her former boyfriend. But just before she made the killing blow, Angel's soul was restored. But Buffy still knew that Angel had to die in order to save the world. Slightly more heart breaking than when Angel lost his soul in the first place. Maybe it was the moving number by Sarah McLachlan at the end while Buffy was riding a bus out of town.

5. Once More, With Feeling - Season 6, written by Joss Whedon
It's the musical episode. Like I wouldn't put the musical episode in my top ten.

4. Earshot - Season 3, written by Jane Espenson
At the time, this was a pretty controversial episode. I guess even today it would be considered controversial, considering part of the plot revolves around a kid that brings a high powered rifle to school. Buffy gains the ability to hear people's thoughts and hears someone's thought that they'll kill all the students in the school. The psychotic thinker turns out to be a crazy lunch lady. But Buffy is still able to reach out to Jonathan, a student that wants to commit suicide. Buffy learns, while hearing everyone's inner-most thoughts, that everyone deals with their own crap. Jonathan is whining about how no one notices him or even knows he exists, but Buffy knows that's only because people are busy whining about their own pain, their own fears, their own insecurities. It's a pretty good put-yourself-in-someone-else's-shoes kind of lesson.

3. Passion - Season 2, written by Ty King
This is one that took place while Angel was still a bad guy. And in it, we see just how evil Angel really is. The writers weren't playing around when they made him the Big Bad. Buffy's boyfriend wasn't just going through a phase, and they wanted the audience to know that he was seriously bad. Giles' girlfriend, Ms. Calendar, was attempting to find a way to restore Angel's soul, which would bring him back to the good guys. And as a way of thanking her for her trouble, Angel snapped her neck. Knowing that he was playing for keeps prepared Buffy for what she would have to do to stop him.

2. Hush - Season 4, written by Joss Whedon
Much of this episode was done zero dialogue, which was just an awesome way to get back at critics that claimed the show relied too much on dialogue. Everyone in Sunnydale has their voices stolen by a group of demonic creatures known as the Gentlemen: real creepy looking guys with permanent smiles plastered to their faces. They steal voices because a human scream can destroy them. Turns into a pretty nasty ending for them when Buffy gets her voice back.

1. The Body - Season 5, written by Joss Whedon
The death of Buffy's mom, Joyce. She wasn't killed by a vampire or a demon or some other supernatural entity. She died from an aneurysm, thanks to a complication from an earlier brain surgery. It was sudden and it was unexpected. Watching this episode again after losing a parent myself, it hit a little harder than the first time I saw it. It's a great look at how each of the different characters express their feelings of loss when someone they know and love is suddenly gone.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

So Very Lost

Lost returns tonight for the very last time. Now, knowing that this is the final season of one of my favorite shows could be a sad time. But it's not. I'm kinda thrilled about watching tonight's season premiere.

See, Lost fans have known for a few years now that there was an expiration date. In a way, it's nice to have that information. Because then we aren't just tuning in week after week wondering if there will be any answers to the questions from the week before, as we spent the first couple of seasons. All those unanswered questions probably caused a lot of people to stray away from the show. I know that I, myself, couldn't help but question some of the writers' moves in those first couple of years.

At first, I scoffed at the idea that some guy was living in semi-modern quarters inside the hatch that Locke uncovered. And what the heck was up with Nikki and Paulo? Honestly, I almost quit watching just because of them. But I didn't. I stuck with it. And over the next few months, it's finally gonna pay off.

Because the creators have been working toward this season. They've been building up their stories with these final episodes in mind. And finally, we're going to have a season of Lost that gives us more answers than questions.

That's the rumor anyway. But you really can't believe everything you read on the internet.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Greatest Hits: New Job

Originally posted on 3/17/2009:

Yes, this is a rerun from last year. But this commercial pretty much spells out how I feel about my current employment situation. Enjoy. Again.