Friday, July 28, 2006


I noticed that at Blockbuster and Netflix have a category for "Gay and Lesbian" movies. Doesn't that just seem weird to you? That a sexual orientation has its own category? It's kinda creepy.

"Watch ya wanna see tonight? Action? Horror? Comedy?"
"Nah, let's order a pizza and rent a Gay and Lesbian movie."

The Wedding Player

Yesterday, my wife played in a double string quartet for Kurt Bush's wedding. If, like me, you didn't know who Bush was, he is a Nascar driver. Cindy described the wedding ceremony, the house and the chaplain: everything was big. Lifestyles of the rich and famous.

The bride arrived in a white, horse-drawn Cinderella carriage and was walked down the aisle by her father, Gary Bryan, as an eight-piece ensemble played the wedding march.

The bride is no relation (at least that I know of).

Here is a link to the article on the People website.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Gamecock Football

Man, August is just right around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: Football! For me, College football is the best, and there ain't nothing like Gamecock football (the good years and the bad years). Already, I can feel the fever starting to boil up.

I just saw on EA Sports, that Carolina has a feature play in this year's play book. You can check out the video on the EA web site.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Friday, July 21, 2006

Star Wars Fan Film Award Winners

For the past several years, Atom films has sponsored the "Star Wars" Fan Film Awards. The winner is picked by none other than George Lucas. Here are this years winners:

  • George Lucas Selects -- Shane Felux, Pitching Lucas
  • Audience Choice Award -- Shane Felux, Pitching Lucas
  • Spirit of Fandom Award -- Michael Q. Yowhan, Memoirs of a Padawan
  • Best Comedy -- Brian Silva, Sith'd
  • Best Commercial Parody -- William Grammer, Blue Milk

You can view these at the Star Wars Fan Film Awards at Atom Films.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

My Amiga

Back in college, I worked in a movie theater. It was also the first time that I bought a computer (a Commodore Amiga 1000). My theater job helped me to pay for my computer. More in the spirit of the Macintosh than the PC (I love those new Apple commercials), the Amiga was a great machine. Near my house in Churchill Height, there was a store that sold and serviced Amigas. Time has erased the name of the store and employee names, but, I remember the owner. As a nineteen year old, I went and asked him if I could trade my Commodore 128 (this was a graduation gift) and then make up the difference with a weekly payment of $50.00. I was not unknown to the store. I had come there to shop software and had developed a friendship with the employees. Probably, what I did not know, is that I was a distraction, but, it helped them pass the time (they were not that busy). The owner sat down with me, looked me square in the eyes and said "don't burn me" and the deal was struck.

It some time to pay off the computer. I remember that it was hard to get enough hours at the theater to consistently make more than $50 dollars in a week, so I started doing odd jobs at the theater (repairing seats, helping the cleaning crew, receiving and stocking popcorn seed and my favorite, changing the marquee) to not only cover the computer, but to give me gas money. I also wrote my first computer program on the Amiga: it was a simple program that I used to change the marquee. I would type in the name of the movies that were leaving (as currently spelled on the marquee) and the names of the movies that were coming and the program would tell me which letters I needed to bring out to the sign.

My Amiga did not have a hard drive, but it did have two floppies. I had bought a "Genlock" device that allowed me to merge video signals (incidentally, I never really ever used it). I had the machine for many years (as measured in computer years), but she eventually gave up the ghost while I was in Japan. I should have kept it, but, I sold it "as is" to an Amiga enthusiast.

Since then, it seems like I have had many computers, but, none of them has meant anything to me. However, the Amiga did represent something deeper than just a computer. It was the owner's trust, it was hard work, and it was honoring commitments. That Amiga today still represents those first steps away from a band directing career, to the job that I am about to leave my home for. Thank you Jay Miner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Alumni Band

There has been rumor that the Airport High School 20th Year reunion will be October 14th, 2006. I have gotten this from both Stacie and James, so it might be true. So, better go ahead and make sure that weekend is clear, just in case.

I was trying to figure out when USC Homecoming will be this year, and went to the USC Marching Band Home Page. That is where I found a great picture of me and my dad from last years homecoming. USC Homecoming is November 4th, 2006. So...any alumni from either group: plan now!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Back to Normal

So, the week off is over and it's back to the routine. Getting on the scales this morning, I have found some new friends that I will need to shake off, so, I am pulling out my points tracker and making sure I have time to exercise during the day. Luckily, this Friday is a half day for me, and Cindy and I are going out on a date Saturday night. Movie suggestions?

Sunday was all about getting the house running again. I had a wad of receipts in my wallet that needed to be entered into money (should have brought my PDA), and Cindy went out grocery shopping. We attended the 11:00 service yesterday at Atlantic Shores. Pastor Jim wasn't there, but Pastor Rob did an excellent message on God's Grace as shown in the parable of the prodigal son. I felt like yesterday was the first time in a long time that I was able to "step outside" of myself and just really worship God. Neat experience.

The Praise Team had new faces substituting for many of the staff that were on vacation. Beau sang the "Amazing Grace" version that Todd Agnew released last year ("Grace Like Rain"). Matt Redman's choruses are used quite a bit, and we sang "Nothing but the Blood."

Your blood speaks a better word
Than all the empty claims I've heard upon this earth
Speaks righteousness for me and stands in my defense
Jesus it's your blood

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Getting Lost yesterday led to my big ticket purchase yesterday: a Tom Tom 510 GPS device. You literally take it out of the box and it starts to work. It is nice that there are no associated subscription fees unless you opt for the "Plus" services. These services are neat, but require the use of a Bluetooth enabled phone as your data connection. One of the plus services is alerting you to traffic congestion in select cities (my area is one of them). However, since I do not own a compatible cell phone and my drive time to work is 5 minutes, I will not be using it for that.

I can see this gadget becoming a new favorite. No additional fees is an incredible plus, and I just realized how much I come to accept that any new device will have associated subscription fees. The manual is lacking, however, the device is fairly intutive and in no time, I was plotting a course to my friend's new house.

In comparing GPS systems to each other, they all seem to have similar features, but the Tom Tom had two that I really liked. The first was the 3D display. Instead of getting an overhead perspective, Tom Tom draws the map from your perspective, with your route going off into the horizon. This really helps with situation yourself with the device. The second thing feature I like is that you can download celebrity voices, such as Mr T. or John Cleese ("Turn Left Fool. I pity the Fool that gets lost").

Perhaps now, I can get to Borders.

It's a BF2 World

I have written about this before, but, I love the Battlefield series of computer games. I have met some really good friends from playing Battlefield, and some of these I have never met in real life. Ever since getting my Xbox 360, my play time has gone to zilch on the computer.

After getting lost, I stopped into Circuit City to shop for a GPS System and to find out how much getting my inlaws connected to broadband would cost. As it turns out, Hamburg NY is being connected with Verizon Fiber, and their Adelphia cable is becoming Comcast at the end of the month. Perhaps now is not the time to make a switch to broadband because there are some new options coming in a few short months.

So, I was talking with the Circuit City CSR about Fiber and relating a story that Henry, a verizon fiber customer, told me. Henry said that he can download a movie from Verizon and they will throttle open his connection full bore for 24 hours. So, during that 24 hours he can download like a mad man. And then I added, "or play the mess out of Battlefield 2."

I use words like mess as substitute words. Bill Cosby once had a skit about using replacement words because you don't want to swear in front of the kids ("What the filth flarn flarn filth are you doing?"). I can't turn it off.

The Circuit City employee immediately lit up and told me he played Battlefield, and immediately went to a terminal and brought up his stats. They were impressive. He asked for my nickname (Swampy*Fox, ala Francis Marion), and knowing that my stats stink, I considered giving him Paul's nick. But, I owned up to mine, and got invited to come over to play at a weekly gaming session that his group holds. Unfortunately, I can't, but thanks for the invite.


I hate to admit it, but I got lost yesterday. Sure, I can paint it with nice words by saying I got turned around, but no matter how I try to spin it, I was lost.

It started with everyone going in seperate directions for the morning. My father in law was teaching violin lessons all day, the kids were off to VBS and Cindy and her mom went shopping. That left me with free time.

After a quick call to my NY Pal Lorne and a skate around the neighborhood, I hopped in my car in search of a Borders bookstore. I had been there before on previous visits to Western NY, and was convinced that I was on the right path. However, once I started hitting toll roads and signs that said "4 miles to downtown Buffalo," I realized that I was not in Kansas anymore. I tried to backtrack, but missed some crucial turns and finally got off the interstate. Lost.

I called my mother in law for some advice, but, you know how that is. I had no idea were I was except a street name. So, I struck out east until I came to the town of Cheektawaga. There at the corner was Starbucks. Time for some liquid refreshment. The thing about Starbucks is that, compared to McDonalds, the Baristas genuinely appear happy to see you. I've been in them all along the east coast, and I don't think I've come across a crabby barista. So, I ordered my Verona, and casually asked, in my Sean Connery Voice (I love doing this voice), "So, Pretty Penny, how does a double-o agent get to Orchard Park." Luckily, I stuck the imitation, laughter ensued, and then they said, "wow, you must be lost." Returning back to Connery, "No, I am merely turned around."

So, armed with coffee, and set of directions and successfully found my way back. I did not get to Borders. But, I did get to Circuit City. Second best destination.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I had forgotten how much fun fishing can be. Yesterday, Grandpa Hobart took us out to the town of Tonawanda with the Batman and Barbie fishing poles he gave the kids last year. Stopping at a local grocery store, we purchased bait from a vending machine and then found the location we had fished last year. We caught at least 6 brim and 1 small bass. Cindy and I would hook them, and let the kids reel them to shore where we released them back. Katie was thrilled with catching the bass because, according to her, it brings good luck.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Review: Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest

The stakes are established within the opening moments of the movie: William Turner is arrested on his wedding day to Elizabeth Swan for assisting in the liberation of Captain Jack Sparrow from the gallows. Like wise, Miss Swan is also arrested for her role in "Curse of the Black Pearl." Both face the gallows, unless, Turner recovers Jack's "broken" compass to the representative of the East India Trading Company. Meanwhile, Captain Jack is on a quest to recover a key that will open "Davey Jones' Locker." As it turns out, the only reason that Jack is a Captain is due to a deal that he made with Davey Jones, that expires after ten years. And now, Jack must pay his end of the bargain, and become part of Davey Jones' crew aboard the Flying Dutchman. By the time it is all over, Jack, William and Elizabeth are all seeking the contents of the Locker, each for their own reason.

This movie has three strikes against it.

The plot for "Dead Man's Chest" is not as straight forward as "Curse of the Black Pearl," and I found it to be more cumbersome and less fun than the original. Don't get me wrong, this movie is chock full of cool stuff: the crew of Davey Jones' Flying Dutchman, the Kraken and Davey Jones himself. I remember watching "Black Pearl" and thinking how much fun the movie was (from start to finish): it was swashbuckling fun! "Black Pearl" became really neat during the sword fight between Jack and William in the blacksmith's shop. Here was the blacksmith's apprentice crossing foils with a nefarious pirate on the run. But this was not just any pirate, it was a pirate who once captained the ship that was directly responsible for the Apprentice being in Port Royale. There was a interconnection between the two male characters that goes beyond what we saw on screen. They did not have to show that Will's father was the one man who stood up for Jack; they did not have to show Jack being stranded the first time on the rum runner's island, and they did not have to show Will's ship being attacked by the crew of the damned.

This leads me to my second stike against "Dead Man's Chest:" they had to show everything, and this made for a long movie.I guess when you are paying $8.00 to get in the door, this should not be a complaint, but, some scenes do not contribute to the overall goal of the movie. The entire cannibal scene, while funny, serves only to reunite Jack and William, but in the end, contributes nothing but an extra thirty minutes to the film. Elizabeth stows away on a ship and uses a dress to impersonate a phantom, only to get to Tortuga, was not needed. In fact, it was not really that funny. It was almost that they did not know what to do with her character until they give her the compass.

The final strike is that this is a "second chapter" movie and has the words "to be continued..." at the end. Ok, not literally, but I am not gonna ruin how they "wrote" those words. These movies can never stand on their own, and that's what I don't like about them. Off the bat, I think of Bakshi's "Lord of the Rings" and "Back to the Future II." I don't include "Empire Strikes Back" because this movie stands on it's own. It completes the story it started of to tell, but, it left threads open. I think what I liked least about Dead Man's Chest was that I did not know that this was going to "be continued." I remember the moment during the film that I though "they can not wrap this up, it's going to be continued." I prefer a self contained story.

Even though I did not like "Dead Man's Chest" as compared to "Curse of the Black Pearl" it is still a cool movie to watch on the big screen. It is funny and fun, just not as much as the first film. I did not like the cliff hanger, but, luckily, I only have to wait to next year to see the conclusion.

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

Finally, vacation. We are in Hamburg, New York this week enjoying some down time with the Inlaws, the Kids and my best friend, my wife.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

American Flag etiquette

I remember learning much of this while in the Air Force. I bet you can find examples all around your neighborhood, sports teams and newspaper adds that pretty much goes against proper flag etiquette.

Again, more from USA Flag Site

  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
  • The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

More odds and ends:

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove the headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform shall stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

Star Spangled Banner, verse 4

From the USA Flag Site

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
(guess I can see why we don't sing that too often)

Happy Fourth of July

I believe that I won the lottery the day that I was born in the United States of America. I have been blessed to travel and live abroad and my love for this country has been shaped by what I have seen. So, today, on this 230th birthday of America, I encourage you to read the Declaration of Independence and make familiar once more the names of fifty six signers of the document that declared our independence from Great Britain.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

God Bless America.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blast from the Past

Came across this picture tonight of Rick and I celebrating with friends at our Spanish Honor Society Fiesta. I believe this is circa 1985. How cool could we possibly be with those unbuttoned white "Spanish Honor Society" Oxfords? I bet we were wearing dock shoes as well (socks optional).

Game Widow

Thankfully, Cindy is not a total Game Widow because I have gotten better at managing my gaming time. But, here is a great article on including your spouse in gaming. Now, if I could get her to play BF2!!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Review: Superman Returns

Earlier this week I wrote about my anticipation of going to see Superman Returns, and I will sum it up as: "just plain fun!" Everything hinges on accepting Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman, and he has some very big boots to fill. For me, Christopher Reeve was the iconic Superman. All of the television variants have been hit or miss (although I do like Smallville, it has been more like X-Files 90210). Routh simply looks fantastic as Superman. Vocally, he also sounded very similar to Reeve. Because this movie is a sequel to Superman: The Movie, Clark is played just as he was in the original, but not quite as naive. My favorite scene from Superman: The Movie was the helicopter sequence. This scene is essentially recreated, but instead of a helicopter, replace it with a 777 with a really big engine on top. What is cool about this scene is that you get a sense of scale and how powerful Superman truly is, something the original movies could never convey. I know much of this is CG, but it looks really good. I had just watched Matrix Reloaded this week because I remember that movie many main characters were animated during key sequences (the hurly burly fight scene comes to mind). When I saw the movie, this stuck out like a sore thumb and brought me out of the moment. Superman Returns uses a much higher degree of animation, but it kept me in the movie.

Superman Returns is rated PG13 for some Intense Action Violence. With X-Men III, I could walk away and definitely tell parents that they should go and see this before taking the kids (language and skin). I did not have any red flags. I can not recall cursing, though I know it is probably in there. Clark drinks a Bud (hey, he works hard), and Cindy's Spidey Senses tingled a few times. Because of that, I will go see this again with an eye toward the girls seeing it now or on video.