Mar 27, 2009

Spring Break! Whoooo!

So, for those of you who don't know, we spent last week in sunny Arizona, visiting family and friends. I will discuss this trip... now.

Tuesday, March 17th we set out on the open road at 5 am, I took the first shift driving out of Utah. My iPod kept me company for the first 2 1/2 hours, then it died. Tracie tried to sleep, having only gotten an hour or so of rest the night before. Nothing that noteworthy happened on our way down there, the weather was nice, the company and visit with my queen was well (she was only borderline grouchy- practically non-existent when you factor in her lack of sleep and 6 months of pregnancy). My favorite part of the drive was having Tracie drive a little of it. On our road trips before, I've done all the driving, as we used to take my car, which was a stick shift. I loved sharing the driving responsibilities, particularly because this car is devoid of cruise control. So my right leg was really sore by the end of our journey. (Which translates into me walking with a double limp--quite the sight if you haven't seen it.)

Around 5 pm we arrived in Tucson at Heather & Ryan's place. (Heather is Tracie's sister.)

We were greeted with lots of hugs and cheers from their kids, Seth, Cade, Leah, and Matthew. We really do have the cutest nieces & nephews in the world. (and the are 1/3 of them).

Tracie predicted Heather would make tacos. And she did. And they were delicious.

Most of the trip consisted of visiting, napping, hide n seek, and going to fun places in Tucson. I'll address each... now:

Hide N Seek- I like being the fun uncle. I think it suits me. So we played a lot of hide n go seek. The house has a lot of nooks and crannies, perfect for hiding in. I'm not sure if it was the excellent hiding abilities of Seth, Cade, Leah or Matthew, if it was the many places to hide in that house, or my absence of glasses,-- but there were a few times I looked right at one of the kids and didn't see them. It was a lot of fun, even though I've grown a little bigger since my last hide n go seek marathon, and had trouble squeezing into my hiding spots. Once in particular I tried hiding under the guest bed where we were sleeping, and I got my butt stuck on the outside with my top half hidden by the bed.
BUT, I learned first hand the old adage: "Even if you can't see them, they can still see your butt."

Our first full day in AZ began with a trip to a butterfly garden. (Tucson Botanical Gardens). I was a bit skeptical, as is my right, but I thought the kids would enjoy it, so I tagged along.
It was AWESOME! The butterflies were everywhere! I even got a few to land on my hand. We took pictures and played with butterflies. The place had a bunch of beautiful flowers and trees and places to take pictures also. The kids found a kids play area, mostly consisting of bugs to dig up and play with: namely worms, grubs and roly-polys. (I never learned their real name. Did you?)

A good time was had by all, we'll probably post some pics about it. Or you can check out Heather's blog if you get bored waiting for me. Tracie took some amazing pictures. She photographs well too.

The next day we went mini golfing. I got a couple holes in one, but I balanced it out getting a couple 6's and 7's. I mostly helped the younger kids golf, and by help I mean hit the ball with their clubs while they were holding onto them.

Sadly, they did better. Gladly, it was a lot of fun.

We went to a really good sandwich place called Eegee's, with real fruit slushies and delicious fries.

That night we went to a little league scrimmage (skirmish? When the kids play a real game but it doesn't really count or something.) featuring Seth at 3rd base. It was fun, we went on a lovely walk in the park, (Tucson is greener than I thought. Though, to be fair, a lot of the grass is astroturf.)

They also served us awesome grilled hamburgers, (thanks, Heather & Ryan) we visited, played and had fun.

Our friends Heidi & Aaron moved to Mesa awhile ago (about a year-ish, I think). So we visited them as well.

Heidi and Aaron tried to make it abundantly clear that Mesa was voted one of the most boring cities in America, but we had a blast with them.

(Of course, the first night with them we went to Cheesecake Factory, which always helps :))

We went to the mall with Heidi & Aaron, which is where that picture below came from. We visited and watched TV and played with Heidi & Aaron's little boy Will. We now have Heidi & Aaron to thank (or accuse) of being the ones who finally got us hooked on "The Office." I've been told for years that I would love that show, but never got around to it. I had other ways to waste my precious spare time, like World of Warcraft. Now that we've cancelled our accounts (to make way for the baby; also because it was getting boring) we have something else to occupy our time when we should be cleaning, doing homework, etc.

We also went to the Mesa temple grounds where we got some beautiful pictures and again enjoyed Heidi & Aaron's company. Thanks again you guys for letting us over and giving us a wonderful end to our spring break Arizona getaway.

the drive home- or Movement in Weather pt. IV

Not much to say about our drive home, except the weather differences were tremendous. We went from about 80 degree, with lots of sunshine, to dust storms so bad we had to drive about 10 mph, to rain, to snow, to freezing temperatures greeting us at home.

It's been nearly one week since we got back and I finally finished my post. Now if you'll excuse me, it's back to the Office.

Mar 23, 2009

American Idol '09

This is a long overdue post, but then, I've been very very naughty about posting lately. By naughty, I mean slow. Then why didn't I just say slow? ... I don't know either.

So, in case you were wondering, American Idol is back in all its hyped and bloated glory. Not only back, but down to the top 10. As I did last year, I'd like to post my favorites and feelings on the top 10, as well as my predictions. But first, my feelings on the season and show in general:

Is it just me or is Ryan Seacrest less annoying this year? It could be that I'm just finally getting used to him, the same way I've gotten used to the stabbing pain in my leg from having a metal rod jammed where a femur should be.

New judge Kara diGuardio. I don't know how to spell it, I don't know how to pronounce it. I personally really like her, she's managed to bring the judges closer together, and Paula and Randy seem to be paying attention this season. Paula's even offered some useful criticism. So it looks like I lost my best as hell hasn't frozen over yet, but Paula Abdul is able to judge coherently and soberly. Good for her. Kara manages (mostly) to hold her own against Simon, and during the auditions was probably my favorite judge, though she's gotten a bit stale since the semifinals started. Advice to her, start listening to what you're saying and what the contestants sound like. Build on that.

Randy continues to annoy me with his "black guy" persona, dog. Seriously the whitest black person I've ever seen. At least the producers have let him talk least among the judges.
I'm very impressed and surprised with Paula, hardly any drunken babble, and we still get to see the seal clap and drunk gramma dance anytime one of the cute guys sings a halfway toe-tapping song.
Simon is still Simon, though he seems slightly to only be in it this year to keep getting his fat Idol check and rub his man-nipples through his $400 t-shirts. Good for him.

I've enjoyed watching this season, it's the first one where I've watched it from the beginning, every episode, but I have to gripe a little about the top 36.

I've watched the show from start to present, and I feel like I hardly know who the contestants are and what they sound like, since they've had us listen to each one really perform once, and then voting 3 in at a time. I know them well enough-ish to have an opinion, but wish I'd been able to hear them better.

American Idol, Season 8, 2009, Austin's favorites, from least to best.

10. Scott MacIntyre- Maybe I'll get flack because I don't like the blind guy. Maybe I don't care. At first, I was hoping and wishing for him. "Go, Scott! Overcome adversity! You're the best!" I'd cheer with the rest of them. But after hearing him wheeze out a song, i realized his range is somewhat limited. From boring, to dull, to yawn-inducing, to wishing he would stop, he is my #10 pick. However, I said very early that he would win, because who is going to badmouth the blind guy? That's like punching the parapalegic in the kidneys, or chewing out the cancer-survivor because he doesn't like a blind guy. He'll win simply because our guilty consciences make us vote for him. If he wasn't blind, I don't think he'd have made it through Hollywood week, and I'm even a little doubtful that he'd have made it to Hollywood week.

9. Adam Lambert- I can not STAND Adam Lambert. And don't think it's a gay thing. I have no problem with the gay thing. It's the screech-like-a-monkey-boiling-in-hot-oil-and-be-praised-for-your-innovation that bothers me. Comparisons to Steven Tyler and Freddie Mercury make me laugh, and then cry. Ok, Steven Tyler screeches; but then so does a witch. When I heard he did "Wicked" on Broadway, my first reaction was "Oh, he must have played Elphaba." (The witch). And Freddie Mercury? Pah-leese. That's like comparing Paula Abdul to Sandra Day O'Connor. They're both women, they're both judges, it's like they're the same!
Something about Lambo just rubs me the wrong way, but hey, I felt similarly (but less loathingly) about David Cook last year, so that may bode well for Miss Lambert. All he needs is to keep the screeching to a maximum and stay stocked up on enough black eyeliner to produce a shortage.
And there's something about him that just makes me want to punch him. Probably the eyeliner.

8. Megan Corkrey-No. No. No. No. NO! It's not her singing that bothers me, it's her caw-cawing and shimmy shake dance moves that make me long for Taylor Hicks. Megan is the Sanjaya of the year, so we should therefore see her take seventh. Maybe all that ink stabbed into her arm has leaked into her brain or something. Pity it hasn't ruined her vocal chords. Oh! Too late! It's not that I don't like her, it's that she annoys me, and doesn't belong in this competition.

7. goofus oil driller (Michael Sarver)- I like Michael at first. Unlike anyone else in the competition, he's had a rough life, and is a normal working joe like the rest of us. But the longer he's sang, the more lackluster he's grown. At first I assumed he was just having a bad week. But then he had another. And another.

6. Lil Rounds- You have to hand it to someone named "Lil Rounds" when they're petite, cute, and have a Hugh Jass. I quite like Lil Rounds, and I'm grateful they don't do too many wide angle shots of her, as her posterior has a tendency to hypnotise. Not that I like it, but you gotta admit, that thing is out there! As for her singing, (she sings, too?) she's good, not as good as everyone thinks, but I hope we have her around simply to bring some needed color to the group. If it gets too white, we're in danger of the darkest thing on the show being Ryan Seacrest's spray on tan.

5. Kris Allen- I like Kris Allen a lot, I just like the other 4 people more. Kris Allen, besides having a cool name (Tracie's parents, Kris and Alan) deserves a lot more credit than he's been given. I was worried he'd be forgotten right out of the chute, since I hadn't heard of him until he made the top 13. Very likeable, cute, and his sound is extremely "in" right now. I hope we'll keep seeing Kris, and hearing him too.

4. Anoop Desai- Anyone else think he made it partially because everyone wants to keep saying "Anoop-Dog?" Me too! Very talented, not at all what you'd expect, and did a much better rendition of "Beat It" than he was given credit for. (I personally was livid when the judges criticised him for choosing that song, how it's untouchable and iconic, and then praised Adam for singing a just as iconic song during Jacko week. But, whatever. American Idol isn't known for being fair, just entertaining.) I like Anoop, but fear for his future.

3. Danny Goki- One of the best things Danny has going for him (besides more exposure than the weekly Ford commercial/sing alongs) is his voice, and the fact that they've finally stopped flashing images of him dancing it up with his deceased wife. That being said, Danny is talented, fun, but needs to step it up if he wants to win. He's in serious danger of peaking too early, and it may lead to a premature elimination.

2. Matt Giraud- Matt, Matt Matt. He's like a less goat-boy-looking Elliot Yamin. And I loved Elliot. Matt has more soul and more raw talent than I think anyone up there (besides my #1 pick). I look forward to hearing him sing every week, as he has wowed us and impressed us time after time. The best (possible only good) wild card pick.

1. Allison Iraheta- Despite the fact that she makes Jason Castro seem like the smoothest interviewee Idol has ever had, that girl can SING! She's what, 16? 17? She blows the audience away and knows how to rock it. If American Idol was not the popularity contest-hoopla that it is, Alison would win hands down. And Ryan Seacrest would finally be fired.

honorable mention: Alexis Grace
I was shocked when she left. She had style, skill and talent. Simon's response to her performance of "Dirty Diana" 2 weeks ago echos my feelings about most of the contestants. "Good, but not as good as you thought it was."

Lil, Danny, Scott, and especially Adam are good, but not God's gift to music that you judges keep trying to shove down our throat that they are. The producers invisible hand has been anything but this season, however, My biggest disappointment this year is there's no David Archuleta, no Chris Daughtry; no one who has really knocked my socks off yet. (Possibly Allison) But, they have 9 more weeks to do it, I and my socks are waiting.

Disagree with me? Agree with me? Who are YOUR favorites this year?

I Watched the Watchmen

We're back from our wonderful vacation to Arizona. I'll be writing that blog soon, but I wanted to quickly write about Watchmen as well as American Idol as they've been on my mind (blogging about them) for awhile, and I want to tackle those before I get to the vacation post.

I've read Watchmen not too long ago, and it was not only one of the best Graphic Novels I've ever read, but one of the best novels I've ever read. Very intelligent, deep, engrossing, and complex, more than I thought possible in a comic book.

For those of you who don't know, Watchmen was rated "R", very R, as it deals with adult/mature/graphic topics. I will be discussing the topics as PG rated as possible, but I will be discussing them.

I loved the book so I had to see the movie, and saw it with 2 of our friends from our Book Club and Writing Group.

Short Story: I really liked it, it was very impressive to see how much of the comic was included in the movie, and there was only really one major change that worked. It would have probably been really cheesy if it was put in the movie.

Longer Story: This is definitely the most rated "R" movie I've ever seen. While the comic was dark, it was never explicit, and the gratuitous sex scene (orgasm-face to the point of being ridiculously uncomfortable) the joints breaking, Dr. Manhattan's computer generated-baby-elephant-trunk, etc., I could have done without, as I'm a firm believer in NOT showing something is nearly ALWAYS better than showing it. (whether violence, sex, or whatever).

The attempted rape scene was not gratuitous, which I was grateful for, but the later sex scene was the most graphic I've ever seen, and I don't regret that I closed my eyes for most of it.

Sex aside, it was very very true to the comic. What impressed me perhaps the most is that nearly all the actors for the movie looked VERY much like the illustrations in the comics.

Overall, very well done, and glad I saw it, recommend it to anyone who's read the book because you'll know what to expect, and caution those who haven't read it to stay away, as you'll probably be either lost, apalled, or both.

Mar 12, 2009

Still Alive...

Only very badly burned. No, not really. Just having a full-time job, 9 credit hours, a baby on the way, a book club and now writing group to attend, not to mention a World of Warcraft account, I get busy, things get hectic, and I forsake my poor little blog.

I'll try to keep this short, (ish), at least relatively readable, and post somewhat about the goings on in the life of mine.

Work: I have a love/hate relationship with my job. Some days I love it, some days I hate it. I'm starting to read For Dummies books on Web design, (HTML for dummies and PHP for dummies, etc.) as all my inet knowhow I'm getting from experience, so there are many gaps in my understanding that I'm now trying to fill. We work with a LOT of Graphic Designers, but many of them know embarassingly little about programming or HTML or anything. I'd like to one day BE a Graphic Designer, and so those seem handy skills to have. Also, I can help customers better, which is also good.

School: Taking 3 classes is about 4 times harder than taking 2. I still enjoy all 3 quite a lot. My English class (quick bit of info: I found out my English teacher is the son of LDS Baseball great Dale Murphy). I've yet to get less than an A-, and am looking forward to writing my research paper, something I don't think anyone in the history of ever has said. Photography is good, I'm not very good at it, but the teacher is fun & funny and very enthusiastic about it. I often feel like the "special" kid in class, as all the other class members are professional photographers, in love with photography, and/or very very good at it. When ever someone sees a print of a picture I've taken they very patronizingly say "heeeeeyyyyyy. look at youuuuuuuuu! you're doing so goooooood." Like I just finished eighth place in the special olympics and they want me to feel, well, special. Finally, Human Sexuality is still my favorite. (Insert any number of jokes you want to here.) I'm looking forward to/dreading my presentation in less than a month on Sexual Humor.

Book Club: We still really like our book club, in addition to reading books we'd never before read, we're making new friends as well. This month is "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. Haven't read it yet, but I'll let you know. Next month is my book. I've yet to decide what it will be, probably "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" as I doubt I'll ever read it otherwise, and it's apparently a good book or something.

Writer's Group: also known as "So you think you can write?" also known as "Better than Bulwer-Lytton," our first meeting is tonight. I'll let you know how it goes, and if it makes me swear off writing forever.

TV: Been watching episodes of Psych and 30 Rock on Netflix, this is the first season we've watched LOST actually on TV, and not on DVD, and of course, American Idol. I'll probably do a post on Idol sometime this week, but now I got to get back to work.

Thanks for remembering me!