Thursday, January 29, 2004

Fixed my computer. Seems a lot of other people have been affected by the "find4u.net" problem and have gone to various bulletin boards asking for help. Thankfully, some tech people pointed them to a free program called CWShreder. I found it, downloaded and installed it, all the while praying that it wouldn't screw up my system even more. But it worked, and everything is back to normal. For now.

I saw Monster tonight. I know everyone's talking about Charlize Theron's performance in this film, and it is a good possiblity that she might win an Oscar, but I didn't care for it. She took the easy actor's route and conveyed the character's feelings using a lot of strange tics and mannerisms instead of creating a realistic performance. (For some reason, it reminded me of Mike Meyers' performance in Wayne's World.) I thought Christina Ricci was more subtle and appropriate in the film, but then again she didn't gain 30 pounds for her role like Charlize did. And in Hollywood, if a young star like Theron is willing to put on some pounds, they automatically think she's deserving of major awards. (You can call this "Raging Bull Syndrome", although, in that case, DeNiro's Oscar was deserved.) As for the plot, it was more a watered-down version of Boys Don't Cry than something original. I don't know, the film wasn't terrible, just mediocre.

Of course, like every other day this week, we got enough snow this evening to create problems on the roads, but not enough to be considered a major storm. Driving home after the movie was a pain, and where were the snow plows? I didn't see a single one driving from Carmel to Fishers. For some reason winter's really pissing me off this year.

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Well, it's official: Bianca's crawling. Next thing you know she'll be walking, then talking, then graduating from college. They do grow up fast.

Some stupid website has corrupted my Internet Explorer settings. Everytime I reboot the computer my homepage gets reset to a site called "find4u.net". I can reset it back to Yahoo, but once I shut down it overrides any changes I've made. Oh, and it also adds some not-so-nice links to my bookmarks. (No, I did not bookmark the "Hot Babes 4 U" site on my own. I swear to God. And since when did Prince start running all these sites?) All I was doing was looking at some old links I hadn't seen in awhile, one of which had been taken over by some ass who likes messing with people's settings. So, learn from my mistake: Don't visit the R.E.M. Timeline site! That is, unless you want to see some hot babes for yourself.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Add another 3-5" of snow on the ground. I'm not sure what the final talley was, but it was enough for me to struggle to get the car out of the driveway this morning. I know what many of you are thinking: "Why didn't you shovel the drive, then?" Two answers for that one: 1) I don't own a shovel. 2) None of my neighbors did a damn thing with their drives and sidewalks, so I didn't feel so bad. I still plan on buying a shovel, though, even if my neighbors are slackers. What I really want is a snowblower. Dad bought one recently and used it the other night while I was there. And even though it totally covered him in snow, it seemed a hell of a lot easier than spending an hour in the freezing cold just to clear your driveway.

No lunch for me today. We had a two second power surge at the library around 12:30 and, in that short amount of time, it fried some network equipment and a computer down in Circ. Two freaking seconds caused all that damage. The power goes out quite frequently in Carmel and this has happened before. Hey, Uncle Larry, any chance we can get Cinergy to pick up the tab on our broken stuff? Yeah, I didn't think so.

The Oscar nominations are out. I've seen four of the five films nominated, missing only Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. That film looked dull to me, so I skipped it. I'm prediciting that Lord of the Rings will take the prize, although I'd love to see Mystic River win. Overall, a good crop of nominations, even if there are a few I have issues with. (Seabiscuit for Best Picture?!?!?!? It was a good movie, but come on.) I'm jazzed that "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow" from A Mighty Wind was nominated. Think Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara will perform it on Oscar night?

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, January 25, 2004

I caught this show on VH1 at my parent's house today called Bands Reunited. The basic premise is they try to get a long-defunct band to regroup for one performance. I caught the tail end of the Frankie Goes To Hollywood show - which surprised me, because I thought Frankie died a long time ago - and the entire Klymaxx episode. I'm not a big fan of Klymaxx - in fact, I didn't even remember who they were until I heard "I Miss You" - but it was an entertaining hour. They found one of the former members working at an insurance company, and another at a vintage clothing store. What gave the show drama was that one of them was still touring under the name of Klymaxx without the permission of the others and had recently been issued a cease and decist order to stop. Needless to say, when they all sat down the shit hit the fan. It was great!

Near the end of the episode VH1 ran a blurb at the bottom of the screen asking for viewer input on what bands they should try to reunite next. Since they've mainly been going after 80's bands, my original thoughts were Talking Heads and The Police. But since both of them recently reunited for their respective Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductions, I doubt that would happen. Here are some more bands I immediately thought of:

Men At Work - Which would be a kick ass episode!

Adam and the Ants - Pending, of course, on whether Adam Ant has been released from the funny farm yet or not.

Prince and the Revolution - Because I've always wondered what that guy in the doctor's scrubs has been up to these days

The Smiths - Not my favorite band in the world, but it would still be interesting.

Thompson Twins - See, they're called "Twins" even though there's three of 'em! What lunacy!

Men Without Hats - OK, I'm grabbing at straws here.

Seeing as how I doubt a big-name artist would ever participate in this show (in other words, don't expect a Genesis reunion episode anytime soon), it will probably disintegrate quickly into focusing on groups like The Spin Doctors.

Still, I'm rooting for a Prince and the Revolution episode. Wendy! Lisa! That Doctor guy! The other guy with the floppy hair! It would be 80's band nirvana.

Till tomorrow...

Saturday, January 24, 2004

First of all, congrats are in order to Ryan, Stacey and Brandon. They're expecting a little one in September, which means Brandon's going to be a big brother. Let me tell you, kid, it's a good job to have.

I'm about 95% certain that I'm going to try out for Forum. Part of the audition is that I have to sing 16 bars of a song of my choosing. Christy has helped me narrow it down to three choices:

"Kids" from Bye Bye Birdie
"Brush Up Your Shakespeare" from Kiss Me, Kate
Some song I don't know from Into the Woods. I think it's called "Agony"

These songs are supposed to show off my pipes as well as what a comedian I could be. My first thought was to sing the "I've got the horse right here..." song from Guys and Dolls, but that's more for trios to perform. Too bad, because that's a good - and easy - song to learn.

I've penciled in the audition on my calendar. It's on March 7.

Captain Kangaroo passed away today. All my childhood television friends seem to be dying on me. First it was Mister Rogers, now Captain Kangaroo. Who's next, Cowboy Bob? My memories of Captain Kangaroo focus more on who he was rather than his program. Oh, sure, I remember the moose and the bunny rabbit, but I didn't really remember the format of the show until the news reports jogged my memory. My biggest memory of the Captain is this album I had when I was a kid. It was one of the better records I owned at that point, but, to be fair, it didn't have too much competition. I would say records #2 and #3 were Sesame Street Fever and Sesame Disco, two disco albums performed by the cast of Sesame Street. Yes, there were such monsters, and I had 'em both. If you've ever had a burning desire to hear Ernie sing a Studio 54 friendly version of "Rubber Duckie", I advise you to hit the Internet. I'm sure it's out there somewhere.

I had to drive the Honda today and was amazed at how foreign it feels to me now. I've already adapted to the Jetta. If all goes well, I should have the Honda turned in next week.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

God, I killed myself at the gym tonight. I usually break up my workouts, doing 20 minutes on the treadmill and 25 minutes on another cardio machine. But tonight I decided to do 45 minutes on the treadmill. At 4.3 miles an hour. On a random incline that occassionally set itself at a 7% grade. You ever walk up a fairly steep hill for three solid minutes at 4.3 miles an hour? Yeah, it's not fun. But I did it. I was barely alive at the end, but I did it. My sore feet should make for a very interesting workout tomorrow. Maybe I'll just do 45 minutes on the bike. The only foot activity involved will be moving it around and around and around. Not exactly too strenuous.

I've finally installed the digital camera software on my computer at home and have downloaded the first batch of pictures. (No, it didn't crash my computer. I figured it might, since the technology in this machine is ancient in computer years.) Thanks for everyone's input on where I might be able to post them. I'm working on getting them uploaded to the Internet ASAP and will let everyone know when I do.

Till tomorrow...
No weekend updates, I know. Here's what you missed: Nothing. Literally, I didn't do anything this weekend. Unless you want to hear about my involving trip to the grocery store or the five hours I spent watching the director's commentary on the second Lord of the Rings film. No? Didn't think so.

So, today. Martin Luther King Day. I've had U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" - the Rattle and Hum version - running through my head all day long. ("For the Reverend Martin Luther King, sing... IN THE NAME OF LOVE!!! ONE MORE IN THE NAME OF LOVE!!!") I know it's bullocks for me to think of a U2 song prior to all the accomplishments MLK acheived during his lifetime, but I'm like that. For example, if you were to mention Malcolm X, I would immediately hear "Shotgun" by Jr. Walker and the All-Stars. Why? Because Spike Lee used that song so effectively in his film. It does work both ways, I guess. If I heard "Shotgun", I would immediately think of Malcolm X. Oh, but it doesn't stop there! The weird associations are not limited to songs. If you mentioned John F. Kennedy to me, the first thing I would think of would be, "Back, and to the left." Thanks, Oliver Stone!

So do you guys think I should try out for a community theater production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum? Christy, my partner in crime at work and a veteran of a few local shows herself, is trying to get me to do it. She's even using sex as a selling point: "Don't you realize that you'll be the only straight guy in the cast? Do you know what that means? You'll have your pick of all the women!" (All of a sudden I'm Hugh Hefner or something. I don't know, maybe the sight of me in a toga will actually make all the females in the cast swoon. You never know.) After I made a few inquiries into the nature of the program - my memory was telling me that Forum only had guys in it, which it doesn't - I've decided I might just do it. What the hell, right? But whenever I think of doing community theater, one name enters my head that stops me in my tracks: Peach Boy. For those of you not in the know, I was Peach Boy at one time in my life. Somehow, when I was ten, I scored the lead in a play at the Children's Museum. I had never acted before, let alone onstage for multiple performances. Needless to say, it was a disaster. Even then, at that tender young age, I kept thinking, "Why on Earth would anyone cast me to play a 13 year-old Asian boy? Whose parents find him floating down the river in a peach, no less?" I have many stories from that production, some good (I got to fight the villian with bamboo sticks!), some bad (my pants fell down during dress rehearsal, which wouldn't have been so bad had everyone in the audience not shrieked with laughter as it happened). That's why, if I do this, I want to be Anonymous Guy in the Background #2. I want to be filler! In a toga!

Till tomorrow...

Friday, January 16, 2004

My week from hell is over. I didn't write yesterday evening because I fell asleep on the couch while listening to R.E.M.'s "So Fast So Numb". (A great song from a great band.) Trust me, it would have been nothing but an angry rant.

See, it's been a bad week on the job. Yesterday a fan in our file server died. We did not know this, but when a $50 part like that goes kaput, it takes down a $5000 machine. Make sense to you? We literally could not boot the server because the fan wouldn't turn. In order to fix it we had to pull a similar fan from our web site server, which, in turn, took our website down for about six hours. (But not the entire Internet. Librarians everywhere were freaking out because they thought the Internet would be down forever. And even when we explained to them that that wasn't what was happening, some of them still turned patrons away because they thought we were lying. "I can't get to our site! The whole entire Internet must be broken! Ah the sky is falling! The sky is falling!") Meanwhile, while all this was hapening, our database server decided it wasn't getting enough attention, so it crashed too. Hard. As in the entire operating system was fried and it wasn't going to boot.

It's all better now. Peter built a fan from spare parts and reinstalled the operating system on the database server, getting everything back up and running. I had nothing to do with this, mainly because he did it at 5:45 this morning. I asked him last night if he wanted me to come in early to help him and he said he would be fine, that only one of us would be able to work on it and, since he would be there early to do the weekly backup anyway, that there was no need for both of us to be there. Secretly I let out a sigh of relief. I didn't really want to deal with it anymore. And I really didn't want to get up at the "butt crack of dawn" (TM Karen) to do it.

2004 is not shaping up to be a work-friendly year.

Anyone read Let It Out in the Indianapolis Star? Basically it's normal people airing their grievances to the public anonymously. Here's an item from today's column:

"Want three examples of noise? Try a Colts game, the Indy 500, or the Carmel Public Library. Please, parents, this is not a playground!"

Looks like I just found out what our next staff meeting will be about: Noise Control.

There's supposed to be an ice storm tonight. Why does this shit always happen on the weekends? It always messes with my plans.

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

OK OK OK, again, sorry for the lack of updates. I promised myself when I started this thing that I wouldn't always begin my entries with apologies and explanations for the lack of publishing. Of course, that's what I have been doing that the past few days. So it ends! Today! Updates every night from now on!

To make up for it, I'm presenting to you my top 10 movies of 2003. I've linked each title to its respective page on the Internet Movie Database, which is where you'll find plot and credit information if you're interested or have never heard of the movie before:

10. Love Actually - Yeah, I know, this isn't a movie that screams "Marcus." But I loved the cast, and the trailer was funny, so I gave it a chance. And while it was a bit overstuffed with characters and plot lines, it managed to be charming, involving, and, in certain scenes, moving. It was like the romantic comedy that Robert Altman never made.

9. A Mighty Wind - Hilarious, and, like other Christopher Guest films, funnier with each successive viewing. Eugene Levy's performance appeared to be nothing more than a one-joke idea when I saw the trailer, so I was surprised with the depth and emotion in his performance. I'd love to see him nominated for an Academy Award for his work here, but there's not a chance in hell he'll get it.

8. In America - It's a bit too sentimental at times, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crying by the end of it. Director Jim Sheridan presents the material in such a straightforward and truthful manner that you can't help but get sucked in. Also of note are the performances by real-life sisters Sarah and Emily Bolger. They give what is perhaps two of the finest child performances ever committed to celluloid.

7. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Two years ago, when the first chapter of this trilogy was released to theatres, I was adamantly opposed to seeing it. Fantasy films typically do nothing for me, and the first chapter's trailer just seemed to be images from the book that would be nirvana to fans yet excluding to everyone else. Some friends eventually convinced me to watch it and I was hooked thanks to Peter Jackson's bold and original storytelling. I think the reason Return of the King worked so well for me is because I had no idea where it was headed, having never read Tolkien's novels and having avoided all pre-release publicity for the film. Three and a half hours is a long time for anything, let alone a movie, yet I was transfixed with this film from the moment it began. There's talk that it might win Best Picture and Best Director, and I feel they are deserved. Get used to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They're going to have the same kind of lasting impact that the first three Star Wars movies had a long, long time ago.

6. American Splendor - Yes, the film nearly suffocates itself at the beginning by attempting to be too clever with its premise. (It's a biographical film that mixes dramatic retellings with interview footage of the person its based on, sometimes going so far as to allow both actor and real-life counterpart to share the screen with each other.) But as it continued it dropped all the quirks and started telling a damn fine story. Paul Giammati deserves a nomination here as well, but, like Eugene Levy, I doubt he'll get it.

5. Capturing the Friedmans - The only documentary on the list, and the film that still has me thinking about it months later. By using actual videotape footage of a family falling apart due to prosecution, director Andrew Jarecki allows for an intimacy you normally don't associate with documentaries. Throw in a brilliant film structure, where he continues having you guess on the guilt or innocent of the subjects, and you have a very compelling piece of work.

4. Shattered Glass - You wouldn't think a movie about journalism and ethics would be so involving, but it is, mainly due to the work of an excellent cast. Hayden Christianson proves that he's a better actor while working with people instead of digital creations, while Peter Sarsgaard steals the movie as the editor who must decide Christianson's fate. The movie isn't perfect - it would have been better served had it been told chronologically instead of in flashback - but it's a fine film that gets you thinking about what is involved while reporting news to the masses.

3. The Station Agent - There's usually one movie a year that is pleasant to watch, one that involves you in its characters so much that you don't care about the lack of a plot. The Station Agent easily falls into this category. The performances are excellent, especailly Peter Dinklage as the lead character. The old adage is that there are no small parts, only small actors. Well, he is a small actor, but his performance is tall. That sounds really cheesy as I read it again, but it's true.

2. Lost In Translation - Who knew that Bill Murray would become one of the best actors working today? His work here is termendous, perfectly capturing the essence of his character. He never overplays it, as some of his peers would have. (For example, think of how, say, Dan Aykroyd would have torpedoed this film.) The story isn't that original - it's basically about culture shock and a mid-life crisis, topics that many other films have covered - but director and writer Sophia Coppola doesn't take the easy way out. I can't articulate any further for fear of spoiling it for those of you who haven't seen it, but rest assured that it doesn't unfold in a typical Hollywood fashion. Which is nice.

1. Mystic River - It packs a wallop. Clint Eastwood - who's always been a better director than an actor, in my opinion - never shies away from the intensity of the story. Consequently, it's pretty much a downer from the get go. But it works, largly due to Eastwood's straightforward direction and the terrific acting from the cast. All turn in career-defining performances, with Sean Penn leading the pack. He's so good here it's stunning. Few actors can totally disappear, creating a unique portrait for every role they tackle. (Usually you're always aware that it's, say, Jim Carey on the screen and not an anonymous actor.) Penn is one of them. He easily deserves every award thrown his way. Unfortunately, he probably won't get them thanks to his political stance. Which is really a shame, if you ask me.

There you have it. I still have a few other films that were technically released in 2003 (The Cooler, 21 Grams, Monster), so the list might change slightly. But all ten of the above mentioned films are very good and come highly recommended.

Till tonight...

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Didn't update last night because I just plain forgot. I logged on as usual and checked my daily sites - have to keep up on the DVD news, you know - and then inadvertently shut the computer down without posting. Nothing much happened yesterday, anyway. I saw Big Fish, which was good but not great. After the movie, my friend and I went to dinner at Bob Evans. I know some of you reading this love Bob Evans, but I've got to admit it just isn't my cup of (sweet) tea. Everytime I eat there the food is bland and the service less than spectacular. I would just rather go to Denny's, where they have similar food at better prices.

Tomorrow is the vehicle inspection for my Honda, so I spent about an hour cleaning it up today. I ran it through a car wash to rinse all the winter grime off it, and wiped down the interior to make it seem like new again. It's looking pretty nice, so hopefully Mr. Inspector won't charge me for the dings it's accumulated after being parked outside Sunblest Apartments for years.

Other eventful news from today: I took a nap. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Oh, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but go Colts! I didn't watch the game, but I'm still rooting for them to make it to the Superbowl. I still don't think the city of Indianapolis should shell out one penny to keep them here, though. I think other institutions like, say, public schools should get the money over a pro football team that has its own source of revenue.

Till tomorrow...

Friday, January 09, 2004

Dad came over tonight to help me retrieve my Honda. The past two evenings it's been the overnight guest of Tom Wood Volkswagon in Indianapolis. I was going to get it off their lot last night, but everyone I asked was busy and couldn't give me a ride on such short notice. Since I wanted it back in my possession, Karen drove me over there on our lunch break. (We didn't have enough time to drive it back to my house, or else we would have.) I drove home in the Jetta at 5:00, only to come back about two hours later with Dad to retrieve the Honda. And, yes, if you're wondering, it reads as it happened: an awful lot of planning for something so easy to do. But I must give my thanks to my father, because without him it would have spent yet another night away from home. Hey, the car's not going to be around much longer. I may as well show it a little love, even though it's sleeping outside. Thanks to all the stuff in my garage, I only have room for it's new little sister.

The phone system died again today at work. It was not related to the voicemail problems we were having earlier in the week; This time a circuit board blew in the phone box across the street, taking our line with it. We spent the afternoon making calls on Karen's personal cell phone trying to resolve the problem. Thankfully SBC got it fixed right at 5:00. Here's hoping that this will be the end of the phone problems in 2004.

Andie's been reminding me that I need to post a concert year-in-review for 2003, and I promise I'll work on that in the next few days. My movie year-in-review is almost ready for posting, so be on the lookout for that as well.

Till tomorrow...
It's funny how much salespeople try to impress you when you're buying a car. I had to take the Jetta in this afternoon to get it detailed, and while I was there Jennifer, my saleswoman, took me on a tour of the Volkswagon dealership. I will have to admit that it's pretty nice - I especially liked the free computers they provide for people stuck there while their car is being repaired - but most of it was pretty obvious. Really? That's a bathroom? For guys? Wow, this place has everything!

And why on Earth do car dealerships give you surveys without wanting your honest opinion? I've had to fill out these for years with the Honda dealership, and now it looks like I get to do it again with the VW one. These are the surveys that ask how the service was, if the maintenance was acceptible, etc. and you have to give your response on a scale of 1 to 5. But if you give an answer other than "5", in the company's eyes they failed and someone gets fired. What I espeically don't like is how they pressure before you even receive the survey. Sample dialogue while you're paying for your car's repairs: "In a few weeks you'll receive a survey in the mail. Be sure to answer everything with a 5 or else we won't be in business anymore. And you don't want to be the one to cost all these nice people their jobs, do ya?" But what if the service was good but not perfect? For example, what if I took my car in to get an oil change and it took 90 minutes instead of 60? I certainly wouldn't give them a 5 for that job, but I did walk away satisfied with the work, so I would think a 4 would be a reasonable answer. Methinks these auto survey people are too uptight for their own good. Of course when I get the survey I'll answer all 5's, even though I don't feel like it was the perfect deal. (That would be the dealership just giving me a car.)

Did I just use the word "methinks" in the above paragraph? Man, I'm sorry.

Till tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

I have a new car! This evening I leased a dark red 2004 Volkswagon Jetta GLS. Some features of the car...

- It has a sunroof, which I haven't had since my high school car. (And even then I couldn't use it because we had to seal it shut. It would literally rain inside the car whenever there was a storm.)

- The dash lights glow in a dark blue color. It's not hard to read, just different. Kind of makes it look like a cockpit.

- The stereo system works! I can play CDs again! In fact, I've already made one to listen to tomorrow. A man must have his priorities straight, you know.

- Yes, it's a little car, but I'm not uncomfortable in it at all.

- It has a hell of a lot more pickup than my Honda. Judging by how quickly I was going during my test drives, it looks like I might have to pay a bit more attention to my speed.

- Black leather interior. Awwww, yeah.

- There seems to be an airbag in every possible direction if you're sitting in the front seat.

- I can now unlock my doors from a distance. That's right, keyless entry!

- The trunk is huge for such a little car. Good thing, because I need a huge trunk to transport the three bags of gorceries I buy every week.

- It's a nice smooth ride. We first test drove it around the Carmel area, and then she let me take it out alone for a spin. So, of course, I headed straight for 465. I can testify that it works great both on highways and city roads.

- I paid a decent price for it. Almost made shopping in freezing cold worth it.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with my old Honda. They didn't want to buy it as a trade in, instead deciding to pay off the rest of my lease. Of course, that leaves me with two automobiles. I'll have to figure out what to do with the plates and the insurance on it, because now I have two cars until April. Anyone interested in buying a car from me?

Tomorrow I head back to the dealer to a) pick up my Honda and b) hear her speech about the many features of the Jetta. We tried to do that this evening, but it was so damn cold outside we had to cut it short. I didn't really care about the spare tire when I couldn't feel my fingers.

Till tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

What a day, what a day, what a day.

It started when I woke up late. Not too late, just late enough to have the right amount of time to get to work. Of course, there was an accident on 116th Street, one that was bad enough to close the road. It wouldn't have been a big deal, but the northbound road I would have taken from that point was also closed due to the recent flooding. That meant I had to head south, completely out of my way, tacking an additional 20 minutes onto my commute. Thankfully other staff members were in the same boat so it didn't look like I was making up a bad excuse to explain my tardiness.

I spent the morning upgrading a staff member's computer to Windows XP. We have a rule that states that employees are not allowed to install software on their machines without our consent. It's not some bizzare control issue; rather, we just want to keep all the computers as similar as possible. (A lesson I learned quite well while working at Methodist. Every computer in that building had different software installed on it, making it hell to troubleshoot any problems or for people in different departments to communicate.) Anyway, she had installed an Elvis Presley screensaver on her old computer without our knowledge, and when I asked Peter what I should do, he said not to reinstall it. I left her a note explaining why it wasn't transferred to her new computer, but when she came in at 1:00 the shit hit the fan because her beloved Elvis was gone. (As if all the Elvis dolls, posters, clocks, notepads, and toys on her desk weren't enough to satisfy her while she was at work.) She left me a voicemail message while I was at lunch that chewed me out for getting rid of it. Peter had to clear it all up, but it still ticked me off. Like that screensaver, which she shouldn't even see until her computer is inactive for five minutes, is something to get upset about. Later in the afternoon she called me to apologize for the earlier message and to add that she loved her new computer because when she played music, there were waves on the screen that kept time to the beat. (A feature of the Windows Media Player.) And you wonder why I sometimes get frustrated with my job.

Oh, but it doesn't end there. At 4:57 p.m. we received a frantic call saying that nobody could get to their voicemail. Karen investigated and discovered that it really wasn't working, so I went down to the phone closet to check it out. I discovered the voicemail server frozen and making a high-pitched squealing noise, and I had no choice but to reboot it. When I did, you could hear the hard drive making loud clicking noises, trying to find its information. Eventually it gave up and stated that it was unbootable. Since we didn't want to place an emergency call with our phone vendor (the phones are still under a service plan), we decided to wait until morning when they can come out at their usual high rate. (The service plan only covers certain areas, labor not being one of them.) Of course, that means the library was without voicemail for the rest of the evening. I walked around and told everyone in charge about the problem, and no one was upset. Hopefully the technician will be able to get it back online without any loss of data. Because if he can't, that means I'll have to recreate every single voicemail account in the building. And that won't be fun, since there's about 100+ accounts in the system right now.

All of that meant that I was late getting to the gym. It's New Year's Resolution time at Lifetime Fitness, which means that for the next three weeks the gym will be utter chaos until people go back to their usual gluttonous ways. During this time there are precious few parking spaces in the lot, and usually I'm forced to leave my car at the business offices across the street and take an additional five minute walk to the gym. Normally that doesn't bother me - I am, after all, going to exercise, so what's a little more? - but I didn't want that to happen today. It was -5 degrees outside tonight, very cold. Maybe because of my day from hell Lady Luck shone a little light on me, because I happened upon a parking spot merely by chance. Sure, it was in the far corner of the lot, a fair distance from the entrance, but at least I wasn't stuck walking across the frozen tundra to get to the gym.

The rest of the evening hasn't been bad at all. A little pasta for dinner and some Raiders of the Lost Ark DVD action afterward. And I'm sure tomorrow will be better. That is unless I have to recreate every single voicemail account.

Till tomorrow...

Sunday, January 04, 2004

It was a fairly quiet day and I don't have much to write about. Here's a quick summary:

Woke up at 11:00 a.m. Now, before you think I'm a big slacker, I haven't slept that late in at least six months. I've just been tired lately thanks to the holidays and the running around. Not getting to bed until 2:30 a.m. didn't help matters much, either.

Went to the gym and did the Treadmill for 20 minutes followed by the Crosstrainer (one of those elliptical machines) for 25. My new shoes are working just fine.

Saw The House of Sand and Fog at Castleton Arts. Skip it. The final scenes are powerful, but getting to them is a chore. I wound up siding with the villain in the film over the lead character because I felt he was correct. (I won't spoil it for those of you who are thinking of seeing it.) The acting in the movie is excellent, and it's well made, but it just didn't do much for me.

I visited Kroger this evening. I've got grocery shopping down to a science. Tonight I was in and out of that store within 20 minutes. Now if I could just do something about the slow and very mean cashier that I always get stuck with. The lady never smiles and never says anything to me. You'd think she'd at least say "Hello" since I am spending my money in her store.

Made tacos for dinner. Mmmmmm, tacos.

Paid bills. See you later, money. Damn holidays.

Currently I'm typing in this thing. There's really not much to say about that.

The next and final event for the day is to go to bed. Soon.

Tomorrow starts my first five-day work week since November. Maybe I do want the holidays to come back, money losses be damned.

Till tomorrow...

Friday, January 02, 2004

Sorry for not posting last night. I went to do it and the damn site was down. Figures.

I did see In America yesterday afternoon. Movie review time!!!

PLOT: An Irish family, grief-stricken after losing their youngest member, emmigrates to New York City for a fresh start. The father, still numb from losing his son, is lost in an emotional void, while the mother tries to hold the family together for their two remaining young daughters.

DIRECTOR: Jim Sheridan

CAST: Paddy Considine, Samantha Morton, Sarah Bolger, Emily Bolger, Djimon Hounsou

GRADE: B+

THE GOOD: The actresses playing the daughters - real-life sisters Sarah and Emily Bolger - give two of the best child performances I've ever seen. They're so natural at portraying their characters that you never get the sense that they're acting. (A sad but common trait with many young actors.) The eldest girl, Sarah, is so good that I'd like to see her nominated for an Oscar.

The story manages to be both upbeat and depressing at the same time. But Sheridan never overstates the emotions of the piece, just letting things unfold as they would in real life. Still...

THE BAD: ...it does get a tad too maudlin at times. I will admit to rolling my eyes when he trotted out the way-overplayed Eagles tune "Desperado" to make a point about loneliness. (But, then again, I am so sick of that damn song that I want to stab myself in the ear whenever I hear it.)

Also, there are a few scenes where the young characters are a little too wise for their years. Do you really think a five year old would confront her father about his overwhelming grief? (But, like in the rest of the film, she pulls the scene off like a pro. I'm telling you, they're marvelous.)

Oh, and the movie is set in the early 1980's but the eldest daughter totes a modern camcorder with her everywhere she goes. We had a video camera in 1983. It weighed about 40 pounds. It was nowhere near as compact as what she had in the film.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I would recommend seeing it, but be warned, it's a tear jerker. Come on, the movie's whole plot is based around the death of a little boy! It's not exactly a happy movie, but it doesn't wallow in depression, either. It's just a well-made film that should appeal to a wide variety of people. Go see it.

The biggest news from today is that I bought some new gym shoes at Shoe Carnival. Shoe shopping is always a pain, because it takes forever to find a pair that I like and that are in my size (14). It took me an hour, but I finally found some.

Do you see the excitement that is my life?

Till tomorrow...

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Happy New Year, all.

Resolutions? I have a few. They're all pretty obvious - go to the gym more often, eat better, stop falling asleep on the sofa, that kind of thing - but I really am going to try to fulfill them this year. I know, that's what everyone says. But now if I don't follow through, you can shove my words back in my face when 2005 rolls around.

At the beginning of every year I take a little time to reflect on what's happened in the past 12 months. 2003 will always be known as "The Year of Change" for me. Notable events I will remember:

1) Buying a house. I had an unofficial goal that if I was still single at 30, I would begin looking. Who knew I would wind up buying one so close to my birthday?

2) My niece. Bianca was born on Memorial Day and I've spent countless hours with her since. It's nice that I've been able to do that, since at this time last year I was resigned to the fact that I would only see her once a year.

3) Turning 30. On a Monday, I might add. It didn't suck as much as I thought it would, but it's still another decade. Plus I lost my age group at the Bookin' It on the Monon thanks to it.

4) Huntsville, AL. I spent a week there in March training for a new system upgrade at work. I was without a car in a no-public-transportation town and was forced to use the Holiday Inn shuttle bus to get me from place to place. It wouldn't have been so bad had they known where they were going. They got lost at least two times.

5) Work. While the benefits continue to erode and the finances continue to disappear, I still think it's a great job. Plus any job that allows me to put on puppet shows for the staff isn't all that bad.

6) Music. While I didn't see as many concerts as in previous years, I still went to more than my fair share. Stay tuned in a later update for my Music Year-in-Review.

7) Movies. There were more films released this year that I enjoyed than any year in this decade. Again, look for my Movies Year-in-Review at a later date.

8) A week in Monrovia. I played babysitter for my parent's dog while they were in San Diego for seven days in June. At first I thought I would be bored out of my mind, but it turned out to be the most relaxing vacation I've taken in years.

9) War. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again.

10) Handheld games. The year started out with a handheld version of Simon. Towards the end of the year I moved on to my mother's Tetris game. Then I received an electronic Yahtzee game for a Christmas present. And now I'm addicted to the little buggers.

I'm sure I could share many other memories with you, but it's late and I want to go to sleep. Hope you all had a fun evening!

Till tomorrow...