Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008:Candidate For Worst Year Ever

2008 is almost over ...to which I say Good Riddance.

This has possibly been one of the worst years ever and while I am not going to go into detail about it I am sure the posts from this year pretty much speak for themselves.

Oh sure there where a few good things (few and far between) but if you light a few candles in a dark cave then you really can't see squat either.

My trips to places such as as Boston, Conn, PA, and CA and triathloning were probably the best things this year.

Do I see things improving in the coming year??? Not really probably going to continue to stumble around in the dark bumping into things as usual which seems to be par for the course

So long 2008 going to see if I can forget you ever took place with a few more drinks...like I need those brain cells.

-c

Saturday, December 06, 2008

New Phone/Twitter

After 2 plus weeks of waiting I now have my Blackberry Storm.

I have had it for almost 2 days now and still trying to get the hang of it. When I was first looking at phones I thought about getting a Blackberry but decided against it and went with the Chocolate LG which was a very nice phone.

When I talked to Verizon about my options for replacing my phone they checked my account and said I (probably like everyone who pays the bill every month consistently) qualified for an early upgrade so that plus the rebate on the Storm made it reasonable. The new plan is only 20 or so dollars more a month (before 19% State Worker discount) and since still is my only phone, so it is something I felt was doable.
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I also started a Twitter account which is sort of like a blog but more of a "what is happening now, slice of life" type thing as opposed to my blogs which are more "think pieces, rants or ramblings" I will be trying to update the twitter on a regular basis 2-3 times a day if lucky. It will be good especially if you need a pick me up when you see how crappy and boring my life is ... (I know great way to sell it...) Just click the link and enjoy or laugh...

http://twitter.com/caburdette

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

HUM BUG!!!


Well it's that time of year again when the economy tetters on the edge of the cliff(this year more), give into tho their compulsions to put tacky inflatable decorations on their lawns, and phyically maim each other ...thats right unless you have been living in a cave or under a rock since before Halloween then you know what time of year it is...and if you didn't know that then please go....then....and finally...yourself.

Anyway I am not a big fan of the holidays first off is the fact that from October on its BAM...BAM...BAM. I mean can we at least have a break starting the day after Halloween to at least the week of Thanksgiving to have somewhat of a breather??? I think that is not too much to ask for...but NOOOO we can't have that.

I also hate going to the mall anytime after Thanksgiving (not that I really enjoy going there any other time of the year either). For me it is more of a "people thing." Now before you get the crazy idea that I am some freak with agoraphobia thats not the case. I just hate dealing with stupid people, standing in lines, and having people in my personal buffer zone(kinda like a DMZ). This is why I am glad Al Gore invented the internet...so I can sit here in the Fortress of Soitude and shop via the computer. I mean if I wanted to I could shop in the buff (see how many Yule beers it takes to forget that scaring mental image) if I felt so inclined.

Now I have tried to "get in the spirit" of the season. I have loaded the all time classic Christmas album John Denver and the Mupppets Christmas and the Charlie Brown Chrsitmas albums on my iPod and even watched the STAR WARS Christmas TV show from the 70's (which gets better the drunker you get) and still I can't wait till March when there are no stupid holidays (St.Patrick's Day is the greatest since all it requires to celebrate is the ability to get drunk).

Speaking of which "Yule beer" is the only decent thing this time of year. I mean practically every company puts out the holiday packs which for the most part, except those beers with Cranberries, are some of the best ones put out during the year. What I think I am going to do is grab some "Yule Beer" and watch the first part of How the Grinch Stole Christmas(the original) up to the part where he steals all the presents because after that point the story goes downhill and try to make it through this crappy holiday season.

BAH HUM BUG!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Book: God's Problem

So I started a new book this weekend which my brother gave me called: God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question--Why We Suffer

It is by Bart D. Ehrman the same author who wrote Misquoting Jesus : The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why which I finished this summer.

The Synopsis of the book is:

In times of questioning and despair, people often quote the Bible to provide answers. Surprisingly, though, the Bible does not have one answer but many "answers" that often contradict one another. Consider these competing explanations for suffering put forth by various biblical writers:

The prophets: suffering is a punishment for sin
The book of Job, which offers two different answers: suffering is a test, and you will be rewarded later for passing it; and suffering is beyond comprehension, since we are just human beings and God, after all, is God
Ecclesiastes: suffering is the nature of things, so just accept it
All apocalyptic texts in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament: God will eventually make right all that is wrong with the world

For renowned Bible scholar Bart Ehrman, the question of why there is so much suffering in the world is more than a haunting thought. Ehrman's inability to reconcile the claims of faith with the facts of real life led the former pastor of the Princeton Baptist Church to reject Christianity.

In God's Problem, Ehrman discusses his personal anguish upon discovering the Bible's contradictory explanations for suffering and invites all people of faith--or no faith--to confront their deepest questions about how God engages the world and each of us.

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I found his Misquoting Jesus to be insightful and interesting and it seems as this book is going to be easier to read and follow and I am looking forward to what he has to say on the subject.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

No Phone

So this weekend while I was at my younger brother's wedding I apparently lost my cell phone.

I have no clue what happened to it ... and it is not because of the mass amount of drinkage that I consumed. I had it with me when I got back to the hotel for the "after party" I know I had it but I couldn't find it when I started packing in the morning. I tore up my room and even had people helping me look for it...with no luck (surprise surprise).

So I am going to have to get a new phone...which is going to be a Blackberry...whoo!

Now I have avoided going the Crackberry route but it is time to become a zombie like everyone else.

I was going to get it yesterday here in Morgantown but there are no Verizon stores in the area yet.

I looked at a few online to get an idea about prices and these are the ones I like:
The Curve
Or I might go with the new Storm which is total touchscreen which comes out on the 21st:
I think the main factor is going to be how it would affect my current contract which still has 1 year on it.


But I am not in much of hurry since no one ever calls me anyway.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Alone @ the Movies Reviews

So because I am such a loser I tend to go to movies on Sunday afternoon as a way to make the day go faster ... because I hate weekends!

So recently I have been to 2 movies with the past few weeks: Body of Lies and Zach and Miri Make a Porno

I am still working on a decent ratings system so I hope to have one by the next review.

BODY OF LIES:
Synopsis:
Newly stationed in Jordan, idealistic CIA agent Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) teams up with veteran operative Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) and the head of Jordanian intelligence (Mark Strong) to infiltrate an underground network of terrorists and locate a criminal mastermind.
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As far as espionage thrillers go, "Body of Lies" isn't bad, but it's certainly not great especially considering that they are still trying to convince us that DiCaprio can act despite having friends in high places. For the most part he still looks and sounds just the same as in the last four movies he has made.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays an agent who is in the middle of the Middle East conflict, traveling from Iraq to Turkey and hitting many countries in between, while Russell Crowe plays an overweight agent in the U.S., dealing with the situation via his satellite phone. Together they are trying to catch the head of a terrorist organization who has orchestrated a Sheffield, U.K., bombing. Basically the film covers a lot of ground, but it doesn't seem to accomplish much. For me, what this movie lacked was 'something in the balance'. There is no meaningful objective in this movie nor any significant character arc. We get some interesting characters but the movie-makers spent most of their time on action scenes rather than developing characters.
Rating: **1/2 (out of 5)

ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO
Synopsis:
Zack (Seth Rogen) and Miri (Elizabeth Banks) have been platonic friends for years. When they both find themselves in financial hot water, they hit upon the idea of making an adult film to bring in some easy money. But when "action" is called, these two friends discover that unspoken feelings for each other may threaten the whole enterprise. Writer-director Kevin Smith helms this comic look at the line between friendship and romance.
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This movie is unashamed about its brash in-your-face style of humor. The title tells you the plot holding back only that, like in any Kevin Smith movie, a love story is at the heart of it. Albeit, hidden beneath a plethora of raunchy, topical, and hilarious dialog. This movie was true to itself--unapologetic in style and content.

Smith successfully titilates and tickles the "funny bones" of Smith fans, satirically sending up high school reunions, YouTube, and the adult film industry in this raunchy comedy while exploring an "intimate" view of the heretofore platonic friendship of roommates Zack and Miri. Humorous wordplay and visual jokes mesh well with the gentle emotions of friendship and attraction due to Smith's strong pacing and a funny and likeable cast of creative characters, headed by Rogen and Banks.

For me the draw really was hearing Smith talk about making the film and seeing thing that he and his producer friend Scott Mosier talk and ramble on about on SModcast their podcast about anything and everything. I was concerned on my way to see this since Kevin's other departure from his 'Clerks' franchise (Jersey Girl) turned out to be a train wreak, but having Jason Mewes (Jay) and Jeff Anderson (Randal) from Clerks in the movie was great. Since I am not a huge Seth Rogan, I was kinda worried since he was one of the main actors (although I did enjoy him on "Undeclared"). Great performances all around and another great script by Smith. This film is funny and definitely fits in well with Smith's other films.

Rating: *****(out of 5)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Done With Politics

So I am done with the whole politics game.

It is not due to the election results...yes it was an historic election and I hope that Obama can inspire people the way he was able to during the election but for me I am sick of the whole mess.

I think that this election brought the worst out in both parties...be it the candidates themselves or the special interest groups who decided to malign the other side with half truths and what not. It just pisses me off to no end. I am sick of the whole "red state vs. blue state" mentality. Really both sides are to blame and the sooner that everyone realizes that it is a cyclical thing as to which party is "in power" the better.

So I guess what I am trying to say is at this time I am a man without a political party and frankly that suits me just fine.

I can only hope that a viable 3rd party comes along that I can associate with even though I know that it is truly a pipedream that will never be realized(trust me I did my Sr. Thesis on the topic).

I guess from this point on I am going to to consider myself a political outsider...and you know what...that is just fine with me.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Netflix Files: Documentaries 3

I am sick of politics so....
Documentaries Reviewed
  • WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY (2007)
  • WORD WARS (2004)
  • 24 HOURS ON CRAIGSLIST (2005)
  • MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (2007)

WHAT WOULD JESUS BUY?(2007)

NETFLIX: Taking on rampant American consumerism with a focus on Christmas shopping, the Rev. Billy (Talen) and the Church of Stop Shopping go on a cross-country journey to save citizens from the Shopocalypse in this hilarious documentary produced by Morgan Spurlock. Reminding shoppers of the true meaning of Christmas, Reverend Billy exorcises demons at Wal-Mart's headquarters and preaches his message at the Mall of America and Disneyland.


Reverend Billy is not your conventional minister. With his bleached blond hair and white suits, he's taking the gospel to shopping malls. Reverend Billy’s mission: to save people from racking up credit card debt for Christmas gifts. Along with traveling choir of anti-consumer activism, WWJB has almost nothing to do with theology, using the concept only as a prop for "Reverend Billy" and his message that holiday shopping has become an orgy for the credit-happy masses. Rev. Billy's Swaggart-esque persona is hilarious but annoying at times, but he's good at drawing the curious. He's also good at annoying police and security guards as he exercises his First Amendment right to free speech (turns out there is no such right on Disneyland's Main St.).

The idea of the Church of Stop Shopping is amusing, but unfortunately this film doesn't dig deep enough into the issue. It gets the point across in the first half-hour, then spends another hour just showing variations of the same stuff in different cities. At one point, someone criticizes the group, saying the people in the choir are all probably on welfare, and the people in the choir scoff at it... but the film doesn't give us anything to refute that - the focus is always Rev. Billy, so interviews with choir members are rare. This message could be considered honorable if it wasn't trivialized by the radical examples and stupid stunts of Bill Talen as the pretend Reverend. I mean we are all a nation of consumers. If we all sifted through Talen's radical theatrics and attempts at martyrdom long enough to follow his message, our economy could be hurt.

Although produced and "presented" by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), WWJB exchanges the wit and charisma found in Super Size Me for strutting spectacle and attention-seeking mockery. WWJB is a more nebulous and feels a tad overlong.

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WORD WARS (2004)

NETFLIX: Follow four "word nerds" through their fastidious preparations and smaller tournaments that lead to the national championship Scrabble tournament in San Diego in 2002. These men are highly motivated (obsessed, even) and are not above uttering a few four-letter words when the going gets tough. Our favorite: Joel Sherman, a true dork with acid reflux trouble (he constantly quaffs Maalox) and no other discernible job besides playing Scrabble.

Word Wars is fascinating and a really great film that follows the eccentric, obsessed players of Scrabble Tournaments. If you like documentaries about "odd" characters living quietly among us then you'll enjoy this. Nothing heavy, just 90 minutes spent with some people who live in the world of the game Scrabble, and the tournaments surrounding it. These interesting characters show their desire, or need, to arrange their lives around this game.

Although Scrabble is why these men are battling to reach San Diego and play in the 2002 national tournament (Grand Prize, $25,000), it's their bizarre lifestyles and complete obsessiveness with Scrabble that really caught my interest. Living off of smaller tournament wins -- just a few thousand dollars at best -- and then, maybe, winning the $25,000 grand prize in San Diego, even the best player is living off of less than $35,000 a year! And he still has to pay for his travel, motels, meals, etc., at all of these events. Which begs the question, "How can they survive simply by winning Scrabble tournaments?" The easy answer is that they can't. Although there was never any mention of it, I'm sure that many of these players live off of the welfare system and, probably, their families. I'm sure that many of them also have regular psychiatric visits and are on appropriate medication for multiple personality problems. Interestingly, it is BECAUSE of these incredibly bizarre behaviors that you, the viewer, actually become vested in what happens to them like when they get angry with themselves and each other, smoke pot or drink medication to settle themselves down, or refuse to find a job and make a sustainable living outside of Scrabble play. All of these things made for a strangely interesting viewing experience. Not because of the Scrabble games, but because these are seriously flawed people playing it obsessively.

Although Scrabble, of course, is the prime overarching element of "Word Wars", this film is really about the nature of obsession. The documentary's four subjects seem to vacillate between knowing the whole scrabble obsession seems weak and stupid and taking it as seriously as ever. These four probably don't generate a whole lot of dignity in their other settings (e.g. the stand up comedy scene or Baltimore's ghetto), but at the scrabble table, their lives have meaning. The final scene/montage, where the national winner receives his due, is as moving as any similar sports movie theme. "Word Wars" is a hidden-gem well worth your time.

For me, "Word Wars" had the unusual appeal of not only being about the game of Scrabble, but actually about people . Four expert players Joel Sherman, Joe Edley, Marlon Hill and Matt Graham., are profiled in this fascinating -- yet at times sad and disturbing -- film. While there are many nice, truth-telling touches in the film -- the between-game camaraderie, the anagramming and word-defining visuals, the marathon sessions, Joel singing and playing piano -- the director spends too much time on the players' eccentricities and, for three of them, the relative squalor in which they live. In fact, Edley, the most "normal" of the foursome (having a wife, a family and a steady job with the National Scrabble Association) is given the least amount of screen time. As a result, the viewer is left with the mis-shapen opinion that all competitive Scrabble players are "word nerds" with limited social skills outside of their own clique.

This documentary held my attention throughout not because the main characters are heroic, but because the filmmaker captures the camaraderie and humor among the competitors. The film is an enjoyable journey, following the four men who freely admit their obsession to the game and recognize their place in the world. The film's clever and seamless use of graphics enhances the film, giving definitions of words as they're played on the board, and rearranging a group of letters into words. Clearly, a Scrabble fan made this movie. In the end, it's the competitors' love of the game, and the friendships that play out between them, that make this an interesting and entertaining ride.

This documentary satisfied on all levels. First, the subject matter was fascinating. We can all relate to the game of scrabble, as most of us have played it before. Therefore, you understand how the game is played and how tough it can be. Seeing these "masters" play it is like watching idiot savants in action, though. The skills employed in creating words is simply incredible and a fun, fascinating thing to watch. Second, the characters each are unique, with their own flaws, etc., but each with an underlying honesty and endearing quality that made you want to root for each one. You really come to feel like you know the characters and watching them interact with each other seems very real, alive, and true. Lastly, the documentary does a superb job of creating suspense and story out of what could have been fairly boring material, evoking emotion, laughter and concern as the movie progressed.

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24 HOURS ON CRAIGSLIST (2005)
NETFLIX: After logging on to craigslist.org for a mere 24 hours, filmmaker Michael Ferris Gibson reeled in a bevy of juicy postings from the online bulletin board, including the want ads "Flogging for flowers" and "Will marry gay guy for money." But his documentary really took off when he hit the streets to meet the people behind the postings. Bonus materials include outtakes, an interview with craigslist founder Craig Newmark and director commentary.

The website "craigslist.org" is an online classifieds list which has grown by word of mouth to about 10 million postings a month in nearly 200 cities worldwide (as of 5/06). "24 Hours on Craigslist" follows some of the stories behind the ads placed on Aug. 4, 2003 in San Francisco, where the website is based. Michael Gibson, the director, organized film crews and the musical score through, of course, a Craigslist ad.

Interviews with willing posters are woven together to form a snapshot of craigslist on that particular day. They run the gamut from "drummer seeks room" and "six strollers for sale" to "Indian virgin seeks willing woman" and "will marry gay guy for money." The people behind the ads are definitely interesting, but in the same way that surfing on the website is a random string of interests, offers, and desires, "24 Hours on Craigslist" has a similarly meandering style. The impact of selecting a particular day to focus on is minimal and little on the story behind Craigslist beyond the posts are shown.

A good documentary relies on a few basic guidelines -- focus, likeable or at least interesting characters, and some sort of clear storyline. Craigslist has none of these things. There are too many characters in this film, too many little stories that don't really contribute to the bigger picture, and none of it is particularly engaging unless you have a strong thirst for Internet culture. As a documentary, I unfortunately enjoyed the extras (particularly "Behind the Curtain") much more than the feature, since they filled in the background story of what Craigslist is really all about, including its origin of the email list (sent by Craig), its philosophy, and its future. If you are looking for something deep, you will probably be disappointed. If you like glancing through the classifieds and personals occasionally, you might enjoy being a voyeur on the craigslist community.

There was so much possibility for this project, so very little was delivered. A couple of cute characters appear, but for the most part a random selection of not- particularly-interesting people, and no development of any kind. This isn't a "Big Issue" movie. No political conspiracies, no children in peril. This is simply a glimpse into a single day in the life of not only the people on an online classified ads site, but the citizens of San Francisco.

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MY KID COULD PAINT THAT (2007)


NETFLIX: Amir Bar-Lev directs this thought-provoking documentary about a precocious 4-year-old artist whose abstract works have drawn critical comparisons with modernist greats such as Kandinsky, Picasso and Pollack -- and whose talents have already profited her more than $300,000. Is her gift with a paintbrush just an illusion, or is she truly an artistic visionary trapped in the body of a child?


My Kid Could Paint That brings to the fore questions of youth exploitation and all but labels modern art and the media's role in it a "con game". The film follows Marla and her family from over night fame and celebrity to the shame of infamy. Little four-year-old Marla, though cute and artistically creative, is not the most fascinating person in this documentary. This film is really about the adults - Marla's parents (the father who pushes her and is suspected of actually doing the paintings, and the mother who is at times reluctant), the gallery owner who helped propel sales, the patrons who fork out a fortune to buy her work, and the media who take turns throwing out words like "prodigy," and then "scam."

This documentary is also an intriguing examination of how humans can so quickly turn on something that seems too good to be true. In this case that something is 4-year-old Marla, who paints stunning, abstract canvases that are several leagues ahead of the visual babble that almost any kid churns out at that age. The problem is that her work is too good, and the world starts suspecting that something sneaky is afoot. After an initial love-fest, a good old-fashioned witch hunt ensues.

There is occasionally the feeling that the film's maker, Bar-Lev, is exploiting the unexpected fall from grace for his own selfish reasons. But there are other times he seems to empathize with the family's pain. He acknowledges that his camera's presence became a part of Marla's story, rather than simply documenting it and eventually altered the purpose of his film as he came to share in doubts about the legitimacy of Marla's status as an artistic prodigy. Overall the film lacks polish -- particularly when the documentatiarn turns the camera on himself.

Regardless of whether Marla or her father is the painter, the documentary raises so many fascinating questions, I was riveted. I was left wondering if Amir Bar-Lev was somehow part of a conspiracy to perpetuate the scam with the Olmsteads or to defame the Olmsteads. If the husband was helping or even outright painting the pictures, how could the mother possibly not know, or was she turning a blind eye? On the one hand, the mother professes to recoil from the spotlight, yet there she is in the stretch limo, front and center on the talk show, allowing herself to be filmed and interviewed. Only when the scandal hits does she start back pedaling and, predictably, shed a tear. (For Marla, of course.) Or maybe at being caught in her own lie. I was also fascinated by the angle of the father living out his own aspirations through his daughter, and in Anthony Brunelli, the gallery owner and himself a painter who is a photo realist who admits his scorn for abstraction. Was this a political statement on his part? All the characters are begging for psychological profiles. Furthermore, why was mainstream media so intent on accepting the story at face value and why was 60 Minutes so seemingly intent on debunking it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Politics in Comics Podcast

Holy crap, 75 episodes of Comic Timing?!?! Madness I say, madness! To bathe in the madness and to celebrate the upcoming Presidential Election here in the United States that is coming up on Tuesday, Comic Timing releases an episode focusing on Politics in Comics. Chad Burdette, Jon Carroll, and Juan and Raph of Geeks Unite! fill in for a missing Brent Kossina (have you seen my missing co-host?) as we go over our favorite political story lines, where we feel DC and Marvel fall politically, The Obama and McCain one-shots, DC: Decisions and plenty more where that came from!

This is all part of the Comic Book Podcast Theme Month that took place in the month of October.


So I have been waiting for this to be posted...

A few weeks ago I was once again on the 75th episode COMIC TIMING podcast discussing Politics and Comics.

Our discussion was on Favorite political storylines, whether comics and politics should mix and a bunch of other random tangents along the way.

When you listen and it clear that I am making little or no sense at all it is because we didn't start recording until 10:30pm and finished up about 2am (which is way past my bedtime) but it was a good time.

You can download the show on iTunes (Comic Timing Episode 75) or listen/download from COMIC TIMING

So yeah even if you are sick and tired of the election give this a listen...it will make you feel like a Maverick

Don't Blame Me...I Voted For Kodos


So I voted this evening (using the antiquated voting machine)...even though I felt dirty and disenfranchised doing so since there was no one worth voting for (I would take a shower but that would require I turn on the heater and not doing that until I have to since I am a tightwad).

Now begins the Cone of Silence...I would say time to start living in a vacuum but I already do that.

As I said whoever wins we are screwed and we can only hope that the Alien Overlords begin the colonization and overthrow of the Earth well ahead of schedule....

We could only be so lucky...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary

So it is Haloween...so here is something that will scare you...

Either John McCain or Barak Obama will be the next President of the United States....


SCARY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life

Life... is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable, because all you get back is another box of chocolates. You're stuck with this undefinable whipped-mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there's nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while, there's a peanut butter cup, or an English toffee. But they're gone too fast, the taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits, filled with hardened jelly and teeth-crunching nuts, and if you're desperate enough to eat those, all you've got left is a... is an empty box... filled with useless, brown paper wrappers.

X-Files Season 4 "Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man" (4x07)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're Screwed 2008


I can't wait for this election to finally be over...

I freaking sick and tired of all the bs'ing back and forth.

On one side you have what people believe to be the Messiah and on the other you have two "Mavericks."

Frankly I continue to believe that either way we are screwed.

I mean really do you think that whomever is elected will be the end all of the United States of America?

I still don't know who I am going to vote for...most likely a 3rd party.
  • Obama just frightens me because he is inexperienced and has a "cult of personality" following and apparently can do nothing wrong.
  • McCain is not the same person he was back in 2000 and has changed his stances on many issues in order to get in line with the Republican Party base.
  • Neither of the candidates have addressed issues that really concern me like: Where do they both stand on the all important issue of Geppettoism
I think I will be voting for Bob Barr, not because I agree with everything he stands for but he is a nut and makes no bones about it. I can also proudly say that I didn't vote for either McCain or Obama. My second choice will probably be General Zod.

Anyway this is what I think will happen:
No matter who wins in less then a year the other party will start the campaigning process once again and whomever wins will most likely be a one-term president unless they can work magic.

Tomorrow after work I am going on a news blackout. I am going to leave work, go to the gym, go vote, then I am going to come home do what I need to do to get ready for Spin class and work on Wednesday, depending on the time I might watch some of Season 6 of the X-Files and then go to bed and hope that when I wake up in the morning and get to the gym hopefully this election debacle will be over and done.

Yeah it makes me feel all Mavericky inside...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

11 Years and Counting....

So today is the day that I don't look forward to all year.

Today marks the 11th year since my father was killed.

Since I started the blog back in 2005 I have used this as a place to record memories and the times I spent with my dad. Unfortunately this year I don't think I am going to be able to do it. It is not that I don't want to or can't think off anything but nothing that I have tried writing feels real and I don't want to "phone it in". It really upsets me since this has been a very cathartic process but I just don't feel into it this evening and I have been sitting here for over an hour typing and deleting and repeating but it just not going to happen. So call this what you will...a "Best of..." or the "Clip Show" I really don't care.

June 2006: Father's Day: In Memoriam
October 2006: Homesick
June 2008: Father's Day 2008


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debating the Debate

So tomorrow there may or may not be a Presidential debate...and if you ask me I don't care.

First off it seems kinda stupid to have it on a Friday night when people usually are not watching TV (I could be wrong seeing as I have not had mine on in 2 months).

Even if they do have it what good can come of it? Do the debates really influence people or are they merely a tool for both sides to perpetuate the Politics of fear and half truths and then try to spin it so that they come out looking good while making the other guy look like the devil incarnate.

If either candidate has more to lose I would have to say it would be McCain since Obama's whole M.O. is that of an orator.

You heard it here first it will be a repeat of the first Kennedy-Nixon debate. Historians and the public at the time agree that "fact wise Nixon won" but Kennedy was charismatic and used his oration skills to appeal directly to the people. Sure this is a pretty basic recap but I don't have the time or energy to do it any more justice.

So that's my two cents on the debates...I will be gloating and saying "I told you so" on Saturday.

and as always Whom ever wins...the Nation loses.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Making The Rounds

So in the past 2 weeks I have been on 2 podcasts...yes they were comic book related

Comic Timing (episode 71)
When I was in PA I sat in with the guys who do the podcast. This was the second year I sat in and recorded with them. As always it was a blast and kinda rowdy...I am surprised we didn't get kicked out or at least warned by hotel security. If you listen you will learn what it means to be "maped." I will warn you that if you are easily offended then pass or if you are listening to it at work headphones are a must.


Raging Bullets
This past Sunday on my way back from Cleveland I recorded a segment with the guys who do the DC Fan Podcast. I have known the guys for a few years now and last time I was over in Cleveland they invited me to record with them. It was really cool to sit with them and geek out over the first 2 issues of Ambush Bug: Year Zero. It was a good time and I hope I get to do it again next time I am over that way and maybe then will have gone through the 2 months of back issues I have stacked up here.

Makes me want to do a podcast of my own

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another New Blog

Yeah so I had to start the new Tri Blog early.

I Don't Date...I Train

Quote of the day by my older brother in response to my Uncle who was bragging about the Cleveland Indians having a 20 win pitcher:
"A 20 win pitcher and $5 will get you a cup of coffee to enjoy while you watch another team in the playoffs"

That's funny...I don't care who you are...

Friday, September 12, 2008

YANKEES SUCK!!!!


The Yankees aren't going to make the playoffs...I Love It!!

Of course the Yankees fans are bitter about that seeing how the Red Sox are going to clinch the Wild Card. If it weren't for the fact that my man Tom Brady is out with an injury for the season I would be looking forward to Football.

Of course Yankees fans just love the fact that Brady got hurt. In fact I think Curt Schilling said it best when he called NY Fans "Bitter and Miserable".

I hope the Yankees enjoy the post season...watching it from their living rooms.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

iPOD Top 25 Played Songs

So if you ever wondered what the Top 25 played songs on my Ipod (Top 3 include actual songs from YouTube)--->




3. The Airborne Toxic Event: Sometime After Midnight




Indie rock band I first heard on Sirius Alt Nation. Great song

2. Breaking Benjamin: Breath



1. Linkin Park: Leave Out All the Rest



Pretty much have liked Linkin Park from when they came first debuted. Their music is great to workout to and every time they come out with a new album they reinvent themselves just enough to stay fresh.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Politics in the Key of Duh!

So I saw this on CNN.com this morning…do the Republicans ever learn???

Heart condemns McCain-Palin use of 'Barracuda'

In February of this year John McCain at his campaign rallies, used John Mellencamp’s “Our Country” and “Pink Houses” booming out over the speakers. Uplifting heartland rock must have seemed like a smart pick, but there’s just one problem: Mellencamp is an ardent Democrat and was a supporter of John Edwards – who had been playing “Our Country” and “Small Town” at his rallies. At the time Mellencamp didn’t make a public response, but his reps were quietly reaching out to McCain and asking him to stop playing his tunes. Not to mention that those votes McCain was seeking probably wouldn’t agree with the mildly progressive lyrics to “Our Country,” which call on the government to “help the poor and common man” and suggest that “there’s room enough here for science to live/ And there’s room enough here for religion to forgive.” And did McCain really want to associate himself with those “Pink Houses” lines about the “simple man” paying for the “the thrills, the bills and the pills that kill”? Really don't think that shouts Family Values....


more recently McCain got in trouble for using Jackson Brown's song "Running on Empty" in a tv ad.

McCain is not the first to make these mistakes. George W. used "I Won't Back Down" by Tom Petty at campaign events during the 2000 presidential race but was compelled to stop using the song after receiving a cease and desist letter from Petty's publisher. Petty did not want the use of his song to be construed as an endorsement of then candidate Bush. During the 2004 election cycle George W. Bush used “Times Like These” by the Foo Fighters much to the dismay of Dave Grohl and company and prompted him and the rest of the band to get more politically active, and ended up helping the Kerry campaign as a result.
The ultimate misuse of a song was by Ronald Reagan, while one of my favorite Presidents, not the brightest move when he used Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Lyrically, the song deals with the effects of the Vietnam War onAmericans, although it is often misinterpreted as purely patriotic and jingoistic. The song is in part a tribute to Springsteen's friends who had experienced the Vietnam War, some of whom did not come back; it also protests the hardships the veterans faced upon their return from the war


In late August 1984, the Born in the U.S.A. album was selling very well, its songs were all over the radio, and the associated tour was drawing considerable press. Springsteen shows outside of D.C. attracted even more media attention, and more notably, the widely-read conservative columnist George Will, who after attending a show, published a piece entitled "A Yankee Doodle Springsteen" in which he praised Springsteen as an exemplar of classic American values. He wrote:
"I have not got a clue about Springsteen's politics, if any, but flags get waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He is no whiner, and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: 'Born in the U.S.A.!'"

At the same time, the 1984 presidential campaign was in full stride at the time, and Will had connections to President Ronald Reagan's re-election organization. Will thought that Springsteen might endorse Reagan, and got the notion pushed up to high-level Reagan advisor Michael Deaver's office. Those staffers made inquiries to Springsteen's management which were politely rebuffed.

Nevertheless, on September 19, 1984, at a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan added the following to his usual stump speech:

"America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts; it rests in the message of hope in songs so many young Americans admire: New Jersey's own Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about."

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Granted the Republican party is at a disadvantage when it comes to music, Republican musicians tend to be Country singers and historically the Democrats are more anti establishment rock and roll.

I would like to think that those running the campagin for the guy who wants to be the leader of the free world would be a bit more careful...maybe they thought they could get away with it ...I mean was anyone watching the convention anyway???

Even a young kid knows after a few times ( I am a slow learner so it probably took me 10) that you if you touch a hot stove you are going to get burned. It is not like I am looking for things about the McCain Campagin to nitpick about...I would like to find something about his campaign I can latch onto ... and just not the hotness of Sarah Palin (especially that one picture where she is holding the machine gun...it just gives me that funny feeling)

I just think that they would be smart enough by now to avoid the negative PR....you would think

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Political Masturbation...

The Good News:
Tonight ends 2 weeks of political foreplay commonly know as the Convention Season

The Bad News:
There are still 2 months of name calling, pandering, posturing, and ads telling how evil the "other guy" is and how he is going to destroy America and life as we know it.

The Even Worse News:
Nothing pressing like oh lets say the tanking economy, the war, and pretty much every other problem are not going to be addressed in a constructive manner.
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Now I have only followed the conventions from what I read on the news sites but I can pretty much sum up both parties conventions:

Democrats:
The Republicans are evil warmongering people who don't care about the little guy and want to anally rape your grandparents and make them eat dog food while they count their fat stacks of cash on their backs from BIG OIL

Republicans:
The Democrats are anti-patriotic whiners who will tax you broke and bend over backwards to appease anyone who even thinks about pointing a squirt gun in the direction of the U.S. while they make sure that you can't drive your Hummer without taking out a 3rd and 4th Mortgage.


Now I know that the reason for the Conventions are to rally the base of the party and while throwing one heck of a kegger. But when do they start trying to convince me who I should vote for? I still haven't made up my mind...
Do I go with the "orator" or the "Maverick", Darth Vader or Alfred E. Neuman, Paper or plastic?

I watched the first 30 or so minutes of Obama's acceptance speech last week with my friend over in Boston while we played "Take a Drink everytime he says "Change" or bashes Bush...we soon realized that a) there was not enough beer in the house and b) we were tired. I am not going to even watch McCain, I have better things to do like count the dust bunnies around my bed or put together my spin list so I can torture my 5:30 am Spin class tomorrow. I can tell you what his speech is going to be without hearing it: Obama is unprepared to lead, McCain is a war vetern and will take on the Washington D.C. establishment. Then I would have to sit through the pundits and spin doctors getting their rocks off

Long story short:
Whoever wins in November the nation loses and the big winner in all of this is the Companies that sold the balloons and confetti to both parties



So....

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

SPINsanity

Normally I would post this on my tri blog but I was trying to post maps of my bike rides for labor day weekend and apparently they thought the blog was a spam blog(which most of you probably also do) and are taking their good old time restoring it.

So the next week is going to busy teaching wise in addition to my taking the classes on Tues and Thurs:
Friday Sept 5th -5:30 am

Monday Sept 8th -6:15am to 7:15am @ Albany YMCA
8:00am to 9am @ Bethlehem YMCA (that's right two classes right after another and I will probably take the 5:30 pm class that evening)

Wednesday Sept 10th- 6:15am to 7:15am @ Albany YMCA
5:30pm to 6:30pm @ Bethlehem YMCA

Anyway tomorrow or Friday a post on politics

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Misquoting Jesus - Book Review


Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
By Bart Ehram

Synopsis:
"The Bible"-its use in the singular can gloss over the fact that we do not have access to the original text, but only to manuscripts of a relatively late provenance produced at different times and places and containing among them thousands of variant wordings. An accomplished scholar of early Christianity, Ehrman (religious studies, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) ventures out of the ivory tower in this accessible lay introduction to New Testament textual criticism. He sketches the development of New Testament literature, the gradual accumulation of errors therein through the accidental or intentional revisions of copyists, and attempts (beginning with Erasmus in the 16th century) to reconstruct the original text. Since mainstream study editions of the Bible have long drawn attention to the existence of alternate readings, the reasonably well-informed reader will not find much revolutionary analysis here. But Ehrman convincingly argues that even some generally received passages are late additions, which is particularly interesting in the case of those verses with import for doctrinal issues such as women's ordination or the Atonement.
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Ehrman's book can best be described as an introduction to New Testament textual criticism for the beginners, in which he explains the subject in the context of his own background, relating his journey from being an Evangelical Christian to becoming a world renowned New Testament scholar. Besides D. C. Parker's "Living Text of the Gospels," Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus" seems to be the only book on textual criticism designed specifically for the non-expert readers.

In short, Prof. Ehrman explains the copying practises of the earliest period and how the texts of the New Testament writings were corrupted as they were copied and recopied. He begins by introducing the diverse writings produced by the early Christians, such as gospels, Acts, apocalypses, Church orders, apologies etc. Briefly, the formation of the canon is also discussed and we are informed about the literacy level among the early Christians. Thereafter we are introduced to the world of the copyists and Ehrman explains how the early scribes copied texts and the problems associated with the copying of texts.

In a little over 200 pages, Ehrman gets to the point of how the New Testament came to be what it is today. No, it didn't just appear leather-bound, shiny, and new after Jesus' resurrection; rather, it was painstakingly cobbled together decades after Jesus' crucifixion from copies of copies of copies of (you get the point) the original writings of the New Testament authors, which were slowly altered over time by scribes that handed them down, sometimes by accident or othertimes intentionally by those meaning to "correct" things in the scriptures that didn't make sense.

Ehrman provides a clear presentation of how the New Testament from it's founding, transformations, and end result, today. The New Testament was copied, translated, edited, and altered, over centuries. He provides evidence of how many of the tenets of original Orthodox Christianity were lost, altered for political reasons, mis-translated, additions added, omissions removed.

For example, Ehrman tells us that NT manuscripts contain 200,000 to 400,000 "variations." Thanks to Amazon text statistics, we can learn that the NT has about 200,000 words. 1:1 or 2:1 is a pretty high rate of uncertainty!

Ehrman explains that the variations are due to accidental transcription errors, well-intentioned revisions, and revisions made to bolster doctrinal positions. The manuscripts that are probably closest to the lost original documents are papyri found in Egypt. There are 116 of them (Ch. 4, n. 24).

The much revered King James Version was based on a Greek version that was itself based primarily on a single 12th century manuscript (p. 79-83). Because of research conducted since the 1611 publication of the KJV, most manuscripts available today are better than the KJV source (p. 209).

He explains why so many discrepancies appear in what Christians consider to be the Word of God. Some are innocent enough: fatigue, a mishearing or misreading on the part of the scribe or the monk, and the not-so-minor problem created by a form of writing that included no punctuation and no spaces between words. Others, though, are more problematic: a monk forced to choose between two distinctly different meanings for the same word would likely be inclined to choose the meaning that best represented his own beliefs. Still others were blatant errors or additions that were introduced to alter the meaning of the text. Ehrman also offers clear and compelling examples of each kind of error, enough that even a skeptical reader would be hard-pressed to argue that what we have today is what was written in the first century.

One amusing graphic is a reproduction of a page from a fourth-century manuscript in which one scribe wrote this in the margin, apparently blasting a previous copyist: "Fool and knave, leave the old reading, don't change it!"

Another fascinating insights Ehrman offers is an explanation of the literacy rates at the time of Christ and later, particularly what it meant to be "literate" --- which sometimes meant little more than the ability to copy words. Yet, before the rise of monasticism, it often fell to a "literate" Christian in a given town to copy the gospels or the letters of Paul or other letters and writings of New Testament authors. Also important to note is that Jesus spoke "Aramaic" a language that has been a dead language for a long time. Many words from the Aramaic language cannot be transliterated nor translated to other languages.The potential for error was great, and that did not go unnoticed either within the church or without. Origen, a third-century church father, complained about the many mistakes he had found, while a pagan critic of Christianity wrote that Christian scribes had done their work "as though from a drinking bout."

My only gripe is that the book takes so long setting up preliminaries. I know that's necessary for readers without a familiarity with textual criticism and the particulars in the transmission of the English Bible. But it was a slow step through it and doubly so for the initiated. If I were re-reading this, I'd start in section three immediately.

This book was an eye-opener for me, because I had never considered that the scriptures we read today may not be the ones as originally written. The author presents an eloquent and persuasive case for that occurring. He shows quite convincingly how certain verses were changed, either accidentally or deliberately by the copiers of the earliest manuscripts. Many of the changes were incidental and neutral, but several were quite important and changed the whole message of that portion of the text. This is a book that everyone interested in New Testament studies should read.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

New Direction

AS I mentioned in my last post I am going to be taking this blog in a new direction. When I first started this blog it was an attempt to keep family and friends up to date on happenings in my life. Well since it seems that my life now revolves around going to the gym,spinning, and triathlon training and I have that covered with my other blog which I update on an almost daily basis (not that anyone really reads what I post. Anyway I have decided that I can use to this blog as a soapbox for other things (I have found that having a more focused blog helps me determine what to write).

So what am I going to be posting here? Well I think I will be talking about things such as politics, religion, politics and religion and reviews of documentaries and books that I have been reading much like I have been doing recently.

It should be an interesting peek into where I am in life and you might just learn somethings about me you never knew.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vacation Final Thoughts

So I know everyone has been on pins and needles waiting for this post. BTW new name and format for the blog starting tomorrow

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Saturday morning after going out for breakfast with my aunt and uncle, Todd and I left for Universal Studios Hollywood

Before heading to Universal Studios we stopped back down by Hollywood Blvd on the off chance that Christopher Dennis (Superman) was there...but no luck again. Also stopped at the Harley Davidson shop and bought my mother a shirt.

Once we arrived at Universal we got in line to get our tickets which was your typical huge line of people taking their good ole time, luckily I saw the “Do It Yourself” line which saved us about 45 minutes. The first thing we did was the House of Horrors which was interesting …the only thing that really got me was when this actor dressed in a “CHUCKY” outfit from a dark corner which I wasn’t expecting.



The next thing we went to was the Terminator 2:3D show. On the way over we passed this guy:

video

He was pretty good…blew air in his ear and everything and got not a flinch.

The Terminator show was okay…it was obvious it has been around for awhile and the 3D was not that good.

We then headed down to the Lower Lot and rode the Revenge of the Mummy indoor roller coaster. A bit shaky and definitely not made for people who have had back issues. The ride goes forward first then goes backwards and is a really short ride. Next we did the Special Effects Stage which was funny and then we went next door to the Backdraft show. I like fire so this was cool to see the pyrotechnic display was awesome.

The only ride we didn’t do was the Jurassic Park water flume. I just didn’t feel like walking around the park with my underwear soaked to the bone…not a big fan of chaffing.

So went back up to the Upper Lot and did the best (and newest ride) of the day: The Simpsons Ride…which replaced Back to the Future. As you can see from the pictures below I am a bit of a Simpsons fanatic. The ride was awesome and the wait was also not bad since they were showing clips form the show and some new stuff. So I tried to get pictures of everything (as you can see in the filmstrips below).

Outside:



Inside:


Of Course this is my favorite picture


Me thinks Lisa is showing too much af an "upskirt" shot though

I rode this ride twice…worth the wait in line both times.

After getting off the Simpsons ride we went to Shrek 4D which was both funny and good. It reminded me of the Muppets 3D movie in Disney World. Next we ran and caught the 5:35 pm WaterWorld show…which was better than the movie and had less plot holes and better acting…yeah and I got soaked which at that point felt good.


The last thing we did was the Studio Tour which was good except that the girl who was giving the tour, she got annoying after awhile and the fact the sun was blinding as it was setting. Anyway there was some cool stuff although it was disturbing that the Bates Motel was located behind Hooville (How the Grinch Stole Christmas). Didn’t get to see any “stars” or any filming take place but that was okay.




Now the best things about parks like this are the “photo opportunities” like these:


I did almost got in trouble because Spongebob was being a little bitch and wouldn’t hold still …he was going for my drink so I was holding the top of his head to get him to turn around and face the camera, needless to say the handlers didn't like me doing that. I found it odd that the park people let you take(even take them for you) pictures with the characters with personal cameras when they had people there taking ones you could buy. Speaking of which I also found it odd that they sold huge cans of beer and mixed drinks in the park…I guess it is to help the adults cope with the kids.

After we hit all the rides we went over to the City Walk to grab a bite to eat at the House of Blues which was no longer there so we left and went to the Belmont Brewing Co. back in Long Beach.



My favorite was the Strawberry Blonde.

By the time we got back to the apartment it was late so we fixed a few drinks and played some football on the PS3…I had a new concoction: a generous serving of Gin, a shot of diet Sprite and Dragonfruit Vitamin Water. It was actually not bad even though it looked like a “girly drink” (the dragonfruit is pink).

Then we watched the Gold Metal Basketball game and went to bed.

A full day to say the least

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Anyway I enjoyed my time out in California and got to see my uncle and cousin who I had not seen in a long while and saw a lot of things while I was out there and hope to make it back out there soon.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Knew This Would Happen

So I am back home and the East Coast is still here (unfortunately) and yet I am not tired and my internal clock is now on California time.

Flight got in around Midnight like it was supposed to but it took them forever to get the bags up to baggage claim...apparently everyone and their brother was coming in late this evening. So after my bag finally came up I had to wait for a shuttle to the economy parking lot which again with everyone coming late it took 2 shuttles before I was able to muscle my way onto the bus...only knocked over 2 old ladies.

On the way home I stopped and got gas and stopped by the store and picked up milk (I am sure the half full gallon in the fridge is bad by now) and some other things I needed for lunch tomorrow before heading on home.

I am still debating what I am going to do stay up or try and catch a nap. I think I might teach my Spin class which is in ~4 hours since I have an appointment tomorrow afternoon which means I need to be at work around 7:30 and if I go to sleep then I might not get up and then it is totally going to screw up my internal clock.

Well I think i will pack my gym bag, sort my dirty laundry and then see how I feel.

BTW: apparently terrorists are now wearing wetsuits. As is par with my flying since 9/11 I get "the business" almost every time I fly. The genius TSA guy had a hard time understanding why I had a wetsuit in my carry-on bag.

Okay final vacation pos tomorrow hopefully.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Leaving California....

So I am finally all packed and getting ready to leave for LAX soon.

I was up late last night watching the Re-Dream Team win the Gold metal in Basketball and for some reason Photobucket didn't upload my pictures correctly so I will have to post about Universal Studios when I get back to Albany (UGH) in between unpacking and getting ready to go to Boston for Labor Day weekend on Thursday.

So until then this picture will have to do until then:

Foreshadowing for my upcoming races????

Day 8 preview

Wow...
So tomorrow I leave and go back to Albany...wahoo...not!

So Universal was a blast took over 100 pictures today so it I might have time to post tomorrow before I head out for my 2pm flight.

Where did the week go? I don't want to go home...

Working on uploading everything....still have to pack

ugh

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Day 7: Anaheim Angels

Hard to believe I have been here a week and I have to leave and go back to my crappy life in Albany on Sunday.

So today after the Spin Class and hanging out at the apt, Holli and I went to Anaheim for the Angels vs the Twins. Before the game we stopped at the Block which is basically a open area mall. There was this candy store that had these gianormous PEZ dispersers, I had to restrain myself not to buy all 5 of The Simpsons or the Star Wars ones:


We just walked around and also went to the Alcatraz Brewing Company.



I also lifted a pint glass for my ever growing collection. I am such a pro at this that I have a whole system down.
Afterwards we left for the Angels game. I think I like Angels Stadium better than Dodgers Park. I mean the beer was cheaper, the crowds friendlier, and the team better...except for tonight when they got blanked 9 - 0 but Boston won and the Yankees are almost out of post season contention (Yankees Suck!!!). My cousin thought that his boss might have had a box for tonight but it turns out he didn't which was alright anyway.



It was also BIG BANG FIREWORKS NIGHT
video


video


So we obviously didn't go to Mexico this evening but I was tired when I got back and it's a 2.5 hour drive and by the time we got there stuff would be closed.

I think tomorrow Todd and I are going to Universal Studios so that should be fun.

Okay so its 2 AM here 5 AM on the East Coast I guess I should get some sleep or at least try