Tuesday, January 17, 2006

We Love Lucy

And she loves us. She told each of us so this past week as she gave out hugs. She also can say "Grandma," "Pop," and a bunch of other words:
  • Momma, Daddy, Sister, Riley, Lucy, Kitty (meow), again, chocolate milk, no, um-hmm, puzzle, toys, book, shirt, pants, shoes, coat, hat, scissors, pencil, paint, paper, hup-two (when going up stairs), stars, bath, soap, bubbles, light, blanky, fish, pizza, chips, carrot, cracker, noodles, soup, (you get the idea).
She also used the word "frustrated" accurately the other day.

She really is learning to communicate well. She is as determined as Riley ever was about getting what she wants. She knows rule number one and can cite it when asked: "Do no harm." I don't think she knows what that means, though, as she has taken to pulling Riley's hair, pinching her with her fingernails, and occasionally biting, when things get really ugly. Fortunately, though, this is a rare occurrence.

Her mouth is filling up with teeth, as well, which may account for the bouts of bad temper. Her hair is getting longer; it is well past her shoulders. She's learning how things work and what the rules are. The other day, Shawn took Riley out to see the full moon, which was large and beautiful in the uncharacteristically clear January night sky. When they came back in through the back door, Lucy yelled, "Pop!" and ran with her arms out, hoping to embrace her Grandpa (whom we call "Pop"). Alas, it was only Daddy, but she gave him a big hug anyway.

And speaking of moons, Riley now offers to tell us "Butt Stories." She will say, "Wanna hear a Butt Story?" and if you say yes, she turns around, pulls down her pants and waves her butt at you, yelling, "Here's your Butt Story!!!" If you know us well enough, you may already know where she learned this little trick.

Riley also asked me to "Introduce her" before she came out to sing karaoke on her new Kidz Bop karaoke machine. For those of you who can remember way back when, Courtney used to request the same and it's been a family saying for years. "Introduce me!"

Riley is quite an influence on Lucy and Lucy is such a sponge. They are both so sweet and smart; I'm very lucky.

Friday, January 13, 2006

My Daughter the Narc

I happened to be escorting Riley to the upstairs potty the other day (she likes to have company). She climbed up on the potty and continued our convesation as she took care of business. When she was done, I handed her a Kleenex since we had run out of toilet paper and hadn't had the chance to get to the store to buy more. She cleaned herself off and put the Kleenex into the wastepaper basket.

"Oops!" I said, "We'd better put that in the potty." I pinched the corner of the tissue with my thumb and forefinger and dropped it gracefully into the toilet. We were going to show the house that day and I didn't want that kind of thing laying around.

"No, Mommy!" she reprimanded, "Daddy said we weren't aloud to flush the Kleenex in the potty!"

"Oh," I said, "I didn't know." I had forgotten that Doc had come from the land of septic systems and didn't care to flush much other than, well, number 1 and number 2. I think he underestimates the power of city sewer systems. But I digress.

"Well," Riley said, "I'm going to have to tell Daddy about this. He's not going to be happy."

"You go right ahead and tell him," I said, trying not to guffaw, "I'll handle the consequences."

"I will," she vowed as she finished dressing herself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Poor Man's Cable

My Cable Conversion From Adelphia Extended Basic to Poor Man's Cable:
Adelphia's Extended Basic Cable: $45.00 per month.
Includes Channels 2-98
12 Basic Network Stations
76 Crap Channels (Shopping, Sports, News, Foreign Language)
2 Guide Channels
8 Good Channels:
(VH1, Bravo, History, Comedy Central, Disney, Nickelodeon, Travel, TBS, Weather)
Poor Man's Cable: $16.34 per month
Adelphia Cable's Broadcast Basic: $6.35 per month plus Netflix: $9.99 per month
Includes Channels 2-23
1 Guide Channel
12 Network Channels
9 Crap Channels
Unlimited commercial-free movies and television shows that we choose.
Savings: $28.66 per Month
Peace of Mind: 88% less crap on my TV per day
Sticking it to the man? Priceless!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm with the Stupids

Last night, my last Christmas gift arrived: a DVD of The Stupids, which I purchased online with a Best Buy gift card (Thanks, Grandma! xoxox) for $6.99. This movie is an old favorite of Doc's and mine from way back when we lived in the valley. We used to frequent this video store, Video Varieties, which offered five movies for five dollars for five days. And they had thousands of videos. Of course, you needed a map, a sextant, and a bag of shiny pebbles in order to find the movie you were looking for because their organization system was highly byzantine. At such a bargain price, though, who could pass up any movie, no matter how crappy the cover might seem to be? We watched a lot of movies back in the day. And today.

One day we picked up The Stupids. I'm not sure what possessed us. We both liked Tom Arnold in True Lies and we thought his movie might be fun. Well, we laughed our fool heads off. We loved this movie so much, we bought a new copy on VHS from Video Varieties and have enjoyed rewatching it from time to time.

Recently, we have been imposing ourselves upon Espresso Toast, who admitted to not seeing many movies in her life, by inviting her to come by weekly for "Movie Night." This was our opportunity to pass on our favorite movies to someone who has no pre-conceived opinions and someone who is a grown-up. We have schooled her in the film greats: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and Welcome to Mooseport. I can't remember if we've shared any others. We did turn her on to Family Guy, which was a treat. The Stupids is next on our list to share with her.

Perhaps, though, she won't like it. It is goofy in the extreme. Lots of slapstick, lots of silliness. Doc and I couldn't wait til she had the opportunity to stop by so we watched it last night without her (Sorry, G!). Oh, my! That movie cracks me up. The costumes, the hair, the plotlines. Mmmm. Like Angel Food Cake. The only disappointing thing about the DVD is: there's no director's commentary! Doc and I were tres bummed when we discovered there were no extras. Then again, I thought to myself, we are probably the only two people in the world morning the loss of more insight into this movie.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Stern Moves on and Leaves Me with Roth

I knew it was coming. Ever since summertime, the folks on the Howard Stern show have been making plans, packing up, and getting ready to move on to a new frontier: sattellite radio. The show ended, they played some "Best of" and then they were gone. I toyed with the idea of following them, but right now, I just can't afford another subscription to something. Maybe once we sell our house, I'll treat myself. But until then, I'll try to make do with terrestrial radio.

I started listening to Howard Stern in 1994. I had just finished college and was working the midnight shift at Haines & Company, basically typing the phone book. When I got off work at 7:00 a.m. and got into my car, I was just a bit too amped to listen to NPR's Morining Edition, my previous morning favorite. So, on the recommendation of Madame E, I gave Howard a chance and have been a habitual listener ever since.

You can say what you want about Howard Stern, but I liked him. I liked the way he thought about things, I liked his celebrity interviews (he never let anyone off the hook for stupid stuff they did or said), I liked him when he talked about or to his family, I liked the way he interacted with his on-air colleagues and his office staff. I didn't so much care for the strippers and porno talk. When the disgusting stuff was the topic of the day, I turned my dial back to good old Morning Edition.

So, now he's gone. Today he starts on sattellite radio and this is the first milestone he's passed in eleven years that I haven't witnessed. Instead, I tune my radio to WNCX 98.5 and listen with trepidation to David Lee Roth and hope against hope that I will hear something interesting. I've been tuning in to the DLR show for about two weeks now, and one thing's for certain: He's still bitter about being cut from Van Halen.

I want to like him. I want to be able to have an entertaining commute into work each morning. I need to be shocked awake. The most shocking thing I've learned while listening to the DLR show is this: DLR and Rush Limbaugh are not too far removed from each other.
  1. They both believe they hold the moral high ground.
  2. They both drive their show with a "topic of the day" format (Today's topic on DLR: If Rock bands play live, should they or should they not use pre-recorded vocals and music to enhance their performanzzzzzzzz)
  3. They both surround themselves with subordinants, who seem to be smart, but are non-threatening to their host. DLR has a Robin sidekick, like Howard, but she doesn't have 1/10th of Robin's knowledge, professionalism, sense of humor, sense of hubris, or her melodious voice and laugh.
  4. I believe they are both right-wingers, though I'm not so certain about Rush.

So, I'm kind of bummed out today. Howard has moved on and left me behind. I'm sorry that Cleveland got stuck with DLR and didn't have the chance to hear Adam Corrolla, who has taken over for Howard on the West Coast. At least Adam is funny. Sigh.

You may wonder why I haven't just gone with a local Morning Zoo on another station. Well, I tried. Ever since Howard announced the move, I scanned the dial during the long commercial breaks looking for a replacement. Know what I found? Crap. Unapologetic crap. Everything sucks, except for Morning Edition, and that still sucks a little bit because the hosts are just too serious and speak too soothingly; it makes me want to crawl back into bed.

For now, I probably will continue to listen to the DLR show. I need someone to piss me off in the morning in order to get my eyes open and my blood pumping and he'll do for saying crap like this: "Roth said he's excited to get the morning show audience riled up 'cause that's how he gets out of bed - 'like a pop tart! Pow! Like a Tomahawk missile! Boom!' (punctuated with emphatic arm movements)", as reported by The Roth Army (also another reason for HATE; any two bit celebrity with an "army" can bite my shiny metal ass). But you can bet your bottom dollar, I've got my mind on my money and my money on my mind, and I'll have sattellite radio as soon as I sort all of this financial madness out. Until then, I'm just a gigilo...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Nicolas Cage is the New John Agar

Last night, Doc and I watched "National Treasure", our first DVD to arrive from Netflix. I tried not to get my hopes up too high, I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be a treasure hunting movie that would rock my world like the Indian Jones movies did. But I thought it might be at least as fun and engaging as The Mummy starring Brendan Frasier.

It wasn't.

The characters seemed to be adults, but they were possessed by eleven-year-old spirts. Abigal, the immigrant National Archivist with a heart of gold and an indeterminate accent, acted like a know-it-all, talked ceaselessly, and kept trying to snatch the "Document" or "Declaration" (which they bafflingly yell out loud in croweded, public places, while they were trying to hide from the police, the FBI and the villain) from our hero. Ben, our hero, is an obnoxious fact spewer who can solve puzzles in a miraculously short amount of time. He bugs with surgical preceision when he plays keep-away with the Document and when it seems to warm his heart that Abigail is such a blow-hard (just like him). Riley, a brilliant computer scientist, turns into a precocious child when the topic turns to something he doesn't know anything about, i.e., everything outside of the world of technology. At one point in the movie, when they are all trying to survive the collapsing staircases in the treasure catacomb, I said to Doc, "I hope they all die down there."

Doc, a generous man by nature, told me I ought to give the film a break, "It's a Disney film, for crying out loud."

"Pirates of the Carribean was a Disney film, too and it was also produced by Jerry Bruckheimer; how come this movie is such a piece of shit?" I demanded to know.

We could only guess that they had a lot of money and very little time. Afterall, it was important that Disney capitalize on the lust for treasure hunt/cryptography genre that had taken the world by storm in 2004. The scenary was nice, the special effects were interesting. The plot? Shallow and cheap. It felt like a movie that someone made at camp. Asthma camp.

I did realize one thing, though. Nic Cage's Ben Gates was precicely on par with John Agar's Dr. Bentley in the 1956 offering The Mole People. Both of them delivered facts with smug self-satisfaction. Both of them treated priceless historical objects in a highly cavalier manner. And both characters believed themselves to be smarter than everyone else around them and God's gift to humanity vis a vis the historical legacy of our ancestors. Oh yeah, and they were both saints.

It kind of warmed my heart to discover this connection. This meant that National Treasure is a B movie and I love B movies. This movie is corny, out of rhthym, badly acted, made in a hurry using a formula, and totally preposterous. Voila! Instant classic! For that, I'd give it 5 stars. But as a quality movie, I'd give it 2, because, it is a piece of shit.

Movie Critic Rock Star Roger Ebert had this to say about it (I totally concur):

"National Treasure is so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line." "

And Wesley Morris of the San Francisco Chronicle:

"A bruising US history class, taught in Dolby Surround."

While I felt roughly handled and pissed off throughout this movie, I enjoyed it too. Doc and I had a spirited debate about it. I also had a good discussion about it with the girls from work. It made us feel very smart and kind of superior. For a moment, I was Dr. Bentley, randomly citing facts and looking down my nose at this piece of corncake. Ah, I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. It tastes like victory.