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Month: January 2009

My Youngest is Obsessed With Mailboxes

When Peyton and I go out for walks around the neighborhood (which has become more and more frequent since I’ve started working from home) he notices lots of things. He likes to talk to Twister, the horse that lives across the street, and he likes to yell, “RUN!” and then run, and he likes to play with leaves. His greatest obsession though started probably a year ago, while watching “Blues Clues“.

Peyton really grew to love the show. I like it too, as anyone who has read this blog before can attest to, and I’ve got my favorite characters on the show, but Peyton’s has become Mailbox, who shows up rarely more than once a show after Steve/Joe have sang their mail song and always delivers “a letter from our friends”. Mailbox wants to be a standup comedian someday but he’s rooted in place in the front yard, so it will probably be hard for him to travel.

But Peyton loves the guy (or girl, it’s hard to distinguish, since his voice has a strange timber to it) and always sings along to the mail-retrieving songs that Steve/Joe sings. And this love has translated into our everyday lives as well now. So while we’re out Peyton will now want to look inside of the mailbox when we leave on our walk and also on our return to the house. And he likes the vanity mailboxes, like the mailbox that looks like a dog at the end of the street or the stone one that has vines growing on it. But he loves all of them pretty equally.

So the next time if we show up at your house with Peyton and he has a pile of your mail in his hands, you’ll know why.

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The Wayback Machine Has Resurrected a Lot of My Long Dead Posts

God bless the Internet.

The Internet Archive, also known as the Wayback Machine, is a wonderful thing. You can see the way Google looked a long time ago or the website of the New York Times from September 11, 2001. It’s not the fastest thing in the world (and come on, if you archive the majority of the internet for free, do you really have to answer to anybody about the speed of your servers?) but it sure is awesome.

And its awesomeness now travels over to this site. My first blog that I wrote years ago Central Services – The Minstry of Information Retrieval 1Taken from the movie Brazil. is on the Wayback Machine. Not all of it, sadly, but a large portion of it. So if you start seeing new posts appear in your RSS reader or you’re just poking around the site avoiding the boss, check ’em out.

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Why Does the Black Eyed Peas’ Service Have to Suck So Bad?

Last Sunday Kim and I took the kids over to The Dixie House, a longtime established Dallas restaurant in the heart of the Lakewood area. They were well known for their chicken-fried steak 1And don’t try to call it “country-fried steak”. That’s for wusses.] back in the day, but then they got bought out by another restaurant chain, The Black-eyed Pea and were amalgamated into the fold, only retaining their name and little else. After adopting the same menu as their new owner they lost much of their signature character and they really became just another Black-eyed Pea.

Which is sad. For the past few years or so every time I’ve eaten at the Black-eyed Pea the service has been terrible. The food is *okay*, I suppose, and since there are few restaurants around that still serve the Southern-style food that most of us Texans grew up on it was like a strange oasis in a sea of Asian fusion and California Pizza Kitchen-type places. Like I said, the problem is the service is terrible. Several weeks ago we went in, again on a Sunday, and were sat fairly quickly, but then our waitress, who looked like she was charged with seven or eight tables, came by and said she’d be right back to take our drink orders. Five minutes, then ten minutes passed, no waitress, no drink order. We eventually flagged the hostess and asked if we could just have some water and rolls, since the kids were getting antsy and angry.

Ten more freaking minutes passed and no waitress to take our order. And so we left.

Jump back to last Sunday. We’re sitting at The Dixie House. It’s around 1:30 in the afternoon and there are probably eight tables full and three of the wait staff to shephard over them. Our waitress came, said she’d be right back with our drinks. Another table is sat in her section, they order drinks and then get them before we get ours. Five more minutes pass, no drinks. We finally flag down our waitress and ask where our drinks are and she stumbles over what we’d ordered. She then gets them out. The food is alright but still the service is incredibly lacking.

So we’ve made a pact: no more Black-eyed Pea. Ever.

We’re never going there again. I’ve wasted far too much money on a crummy establishment. I’m done with them.

So if anyone reads this and has a suggestion of where to find this mysteriously hard to find Southern cuisine in the Dallas area, leave a comment. If it’s good we might even ask you to go with us sometime.

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Richard Corliss and Why the Blockbusters Were the Best Films This Year

In last week’s issue of Time magazine their film critic Richard Corliss wrote a rather lengthy article on why he thought that all of the best movies this year were blockbusters. Some of his favorites from the past year were Iron Man, Speed Racer, WALL-E and The Dark Knight, and while I agree with two of his choices, Speed Racer didn’t appeal to me (so I didn’t see it) and, hate me if you will, and if you loved it you probably will, but I didn’t care about seeing WALL-E. At all. I’m a big fan of the Pixar pictures, but WALL-E just didn’t interest me.

But I have to agree with Corliss on his secondary point; being the end of the year this is the time for awards-caliber films, and this year is looking pretty lame. Early on I was interested in seeing Gran Torino but then my interest fizzled out for no perceptible reason even though I love Clint Eastwood. The Reader sounds so boring and Slumdog Millionaire deals with under-aged prostitution so they’re out in my book.

But Corliss doesn’t bring up the biggest glaring omission that he made about the two films that we do agree on. The Dark Knight was directed by Christopher Nolan who did the fantastic Memento 1And the awesome The Prestige. several years back and John Favreau directed Iron Man. Favreau started out in indie films (Swingers, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle) and then moved on to directing (Will Ferrell’s second most underrated performance – Elf 2Most underrated? Stranger Than Fiction. ) Indie directors tend to focus more on story and plot than, say, Michael Bay or that dufus McG 3Why doesn’t he just use his real name – Joseph McGinty? because their budgets are usually in the high hundred-thousands or the low millions. What’s been great about Nolan’s and Favreau’s careers is that they so far have kept the indie ethic of storytelling first and just tacking on the special effects to aide the visuals.

I doubt Iron Man or The Dark Knight will get nominated for the big awards, other than Heath Ledger, but the were enjoyable and interesting films that deserved the critical accolades, and the piles of money, that they earned.

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Paul vs. John: Who’s the Better Songwriter?

I first heard the Beatles way back when I was a Boy Scout. Our scoutmaster had brought some tapes on the campout and he played them in the car as went back and forth to the campsite and I have to admit that at the time I thought they were just…okay. But, much like This is Spinal Tap, with repeated hearings they got better and more interesting. I don’t remember now what those first tapes were, probably “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “The White Album”, but I don’t know. Maybe it was those, maybe not. Since then though I think that “Revolver” is probably their best, and as with most everything, everyone has their own opinion about the band.

Everyone who’s anyone, on first hearing, just knows that John is the better songwriter. 1And everybody was cooler than Ringo. He was much cooler than Paul since Paul had gone on to be in that lame band Wings. Then Paul did “Ebony and Ivory”, which immediately disqualified him in the cool category. Paul was the pretty one that all of the girls loved while John was the rebel and resident weirdo. Who would have thought to have a bag in for peace? John. Would Paul have thought about having a bag in for peace? No of course not, because Paul was the good one.

So time passes and I see the film Imagine, starring the rebel himself, and you come away with only one thought: Man, John was a jerk. And not just a small-time jerk. His jerkiosity could have caused an eclipse. Or sank the Titanic. Or crushed the Third Reich. At one point there is a fan hanging around outside of John’s home, so John goes out to the gate and talks to the guy. He is less than friendly and actually insults the man several times.

John was a tool. But that shouldn’t discount his ability to write cool songs. “The Ballad of John and Yoko”? Genius.

And now when I listen to the Beatles albums 2And I own and have heard all of them. Least favorite? “Yellow Submarine” I hear the songs that Paul sang and how their much more…singable…than John’s songs. “Eleanor Rigby”, “For No One”, “Let it Be”, Paul is the winner on my scorecard. John’s got some great ones to his credit, and Paul did sing “Back in the USSR”, which I think is terrible and knocks Paul down a few notches, but the same album has “Happiness is a Warm Gun” and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey”, which are awesome. But they don’t make John the winner. John wrote some very strange songs, which I’m sure some people like, but for me, the walrus is Paul.

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The Old Man Is Almost Back…

It’s been a long time since I wrote here, but something is going to happen tonight that sadly will be the beginning of the end for the best show on television today (sorry, “Lost”). The reimagined “Battlestar Galactica” fires up for the second half of season four and I couldn’t be more psyched about it.

We last saw our band of pilgrims as they arrived at Earth, but not the Earth that we currently know. It’s a bombed-out radioactive-looking wasteland that doesn’t look very welcoming to the voyagers from the twelve colonies. I would guess we’ll get our questions answered this season, at least I hope we do. Battlin’ Bill Adama has brought these people this far, I doubt that he’ll leave them hanging, but what about hope at this point? Most of what was keeping everyone going onboard those flying tin cans was the hope that Earth would be out there, somewhere, and that it would be habitable. It’s like getting half of a prayer answered. Sure, you made it to Earth, but are you going to like it once you get there? Good luck. Brother Cavil is still out there with his compatriots, and when they find Earth…eek.

We’ll also finally get to see the last secret Cylon. I guess after Baltar’s aborted Cylon Detector didn’t figure out that four of the Final Five weren’t human that someone we know and love will be the last one. I’m hoping that it’s not one of the top two (Adama or President Roslin), and I don’t think that the creators of the show would take so obvious a tack. My gut tells me that it could be Tom Zarek, but who knows. It would also be a complete mind f*ck if it was Billy Keikeya, who died in a barroom shootout, or Ellen Tigh, who was killed by her husband back on New Caprica.

And is Lee Adama still the president now that Roslin is back? Does she even want to be president anymore? If Lee is still president, will Zarek keep trying to influence him(another reason that I think he is a top contender for The Last One)?

My only complaint? That the Sci-Fi network survives off of people watching this one show, and because of that they aired the first ten episodes of season four and then had the audacity to hold onto the final 10 until 7 MONTHS LATER. Shame on you, Sci-Fi Channel. At least you’re finally going to air them.

And I’ve waited so long for this show to come back on. Please lord let it be good. No, be better than good, please be great and remind me why I love this show so much. Please.

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