Wednesday, October 31, 2007

All Hallow's Eve (aka Halloween)

Today is one of my favorite holidays. Why? Why the fuck not. I get to dress up (this year like a hillbilly. I'll post photos maybe later.), go out drinking in costume, and eat delicious candy. What's not to like? We carved pumpkins on Friday with a bunch of our friends at our house. At one point, we had about 15-20 lit pumpkins on our front porch. Tonight we hope to have trick-or-treaters, which we didn't get last year. But our fingers are crossed. I don't have anything else to say. Sorry.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Don't Like to Work

I've had a tough time focusing at work lately. I'm not sure why. I just had my yearly review (even though I've worked there more than two years), and it was 95% positive. But I've really struggled this week staying on top of things. My job has daily deadlines, and I've nearly missed them two days in a row. I'm also messing up simple details that I normally wouldn't. I wonder if it's complacency, the bad sleep I've been getting, or something else. I was promoted right before the wedding, and switched from overnights to a daytime schedule. I've been doing that 2 months now. I'm also kicking my reliance on Ambien, which means some nights I wake up a lot. I wonder what effect these things are having on me, or if I'll just never like working. I find my job occasionally irritating, but it's challenging and changes everyday. Midge thinks I might just need to find a job that I always like (easier said than done, of course), but I don't know if a job exists that I'll ever roll out of bed excited to go to.

I give working a job: two pink slips and an official reprimand.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The 2007-2008 Portland Trailblazers

Even without Greg Oden, I'm excited about this team. The wife, my sister, and my friend Sophie and I went to the Blazers' fan fest last night at the Rose Garden. Sophie got tickets for free through her work! I was very excited until I realized that everyone got free tickets. But it was fun. We got there late, because I had to work, but we caught the scrimmage, which is the highlight anyway. It was fun to see the guys play in a free-flowing pick-up style game. It let us see more of their personalities, and daydream of playing alongside them. There was also a hilarious moment before the scrimmage with the team's rookies. Here are some random thoughts on this year's team.

- I really like Jarrett Jack. I don't understand why so many people poo-poo him. The guy is careful with the ball, has an above average mid-range game, and is the kind of guy who can contribute without jacking up a lot of shots.
- Taurean Green has a really ugly jumpshot. I hear Nate McMillan is considering playing him a lot this year, but I can't believe that. He has a gym-rat jumper.
- Raef LaFrentz is a talented guy. You can see why he was projected to be a big-time player out of Kansas. He's kind of a tweener, game-wise. He just needs playing time and a steady stream of mid-range jumpers.
- Brent Petway (who the Blazers apparently cut today) has incredible hops. Too bad that's it.
- Brandon Roy never looks flustered, or even like he's trying that hard. But he's still the best guy on the court. It seems like the game comes to him easily.
- Sergio Rodriguez still excites me. I hope he doesn't get buried on the bench. It seems like he just needs time.

I hope to get to several games this year. I need to figure out when we can go, and how many tickets we can afford. It's going to be a fun season!

I rate this team a B-, with potential for much more.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Latest Obsession

My friend Mike and I have discovered a great new way to waste time at work. We've been developing elaborate ways to flip one another off. We began talks today to develop a website, devoted to the finger. We realize we'll have to illustrate our techniques, using either photos or drawings. The main problems are that neither of us are web-savvy enough to design any website from scratch, and the time it would take to do it right. Anyway, we've spent the last week flipping each other off, in increasingly complex ways.

I'll give you an example. Make a fist with both hands. Extend the middle finger of each. Turn your hands over, so that your fingers point to the ground. Begin rhythmically jabbing your fingers down an inch or two, one at a time. You've just done the "Old Man Typing" flipoff. Congrats!

Here's another. Raise one arm to the sky. Make a flipoff with your other hand. Rub your armpit with that hand, like you would a stick of deodorant. Congratulations! You've just done the "Speed Stick."

Anyway, I'd estimate that we have a couple dozen techniques so far. Do you all have any you'd like to share? How about suggestions for starting a website?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises is the latest entry from David Cronenberg. It's the first movie I've ever seen about the Russian mob, and I think it belongs on any list rating the best gangster movies of all time*. It centers around a baby, whose teenage mother died in childbirth. A midwife, played ably by Naomi Watts, finds the mother's diary. It's written in Russian, and inside has the business card of a Russian restaurant. Watts takes the card and diary to the restaurant, and encounters (unbeknownst to her)the head of a Russian crime family. He seems like a nice old man, but she soon sees that he's not. We also meet the family's chauffeur, in a fucking great performance by Viggo Mortenson. What comes next is the slow ascent of Mortenson in the crime family, what the teenage girl's diary says, and Watts doing her damnedest to stand up for the baby. I don't want to give too much away, since I felt like some of the best parts of this movie blindsided me, in a good way. I really recommend this movie, with two caveats. One: there are some gory scenes, so be prepared to be grossed out. Two: Viggo Mortenson, wrestling around naked, covered in blood. (You can see his junk).

I give this movie 8 bowls of borscht.

*This list includes The Godfather (parts 1 and 2), Goodfellas, Miller's Crossing, Casino, Donnie Brasco, A Bronx Tale, and countless others. What do you like?

Monday, October 1, 2007

Mad Men

The wife and I have fallen in love with this show on AMC. Most people with basic cable have this network, and should definitely check it out. The show is set in a Manhattan ad agency in 1960. It follows both the trends in advertising and society, as well as the lives of the people who work there. The executive producer is Matthew Wiener, who worked on the Sopranos. You can really feel the similarities. The main character is Don Draper, played perfectly by Jon Hamm. He's the Creative Director at the agency, married with kids, with a mysterious past. We also get glimpses of other characters and their relationships, like Peggy the secretary and Pete, the young ad exec. I feel like the casting of these two characters is the only weakness of the show. Neither feels natural.

The genius of this show, besides the deepening intrigue surrounding all of the characters, is the attention to detail. Characters smoke and drink constantly. The social politics of the 60's are put out front. It doesn't feel like a revisionist look at the era (although I wasn't alive at the time, so who knows?).

Although I watch more TV than I should, I rarely watch network shows. I'm mostly a sports guy. I like The Office, The Simpsons, Lost, Flight of the Conchords, and this show. You should watch it, too.

Mad Men on AMC (Thursday nights): Rated 9 cigarettes out of 10.