Saturday, April 07, 2007

These Boots Were Made for Cutting, and That’s Just What They Did

Stacy found a babysitter last night so we met up for a date at the movie theater. To my surprise, Stacy actually wanted to see Blades of Glory. I am surprised because she usually doesn’t want to see the same comedies I do, especially those starring Will Ferrell (i.e. one of the funniest men on the screen today). She answered me in two words, Jon Heder. Ahh, I see. I didn’t really care. I like Heder too and any reason for Stacy to actually want to see the same movie as me is the only excuse I need to watch it.

Holy crap was it funny. I expect spotty performances from Will Ferrell since he is not always spot on with the humor. How can any SNL alumni be? However, he was 100% in this one. Jon Heder did not disappoint either. It was a little weird seeing their coach played by Hayden Fox, I mean Craig T. Nelson, but it was good seeing him up there. Will Arnett of lamented Arrested Development fame and Amy Poehler of “I’m getting a bone thrown at me because Ferrell and I were on SNL together” were pretty good as the rival ice skaters, creepy as brother and sister pair skaters, though. Creepy in a funny way. Jenna Fischer, taking a break as mousy Pam on The Office sizzled on the screen as an even more emotionally screwed character than Pam who nevertheless makes a hot appearance in lingerie at one point (It tops her extremely awkward kissing scene with Heder, but only just.)

Most of the main stars’ performances on the ice were obviously enhanced digitally, but since I didn’t come to the show to watch them skate, I really didn’t care. Although I kinda wish Ferrell’s scene in Grublets on Ice was digitally enhanced to minimize the onscreen chunks, the less said about that the better.

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s the run down. Chazz Michael Michaels (Farrell) and Jimmy MacElroy (Heder) are competitors in the world of men’s figure skating. They tie for the gold at the fake Olympics (I assume the producers didn’t care to involve the red tape that comes with having the Olympics in your movie) and get into a fight during the medal ceremony. They are subsequently stripped of their medals (after lighting the mascot on fire, eep!) and banned from their division forever. Naturally, both skaters hit rock bottom in no time. We visit them in their pitifulness three and a half years later, just six months before the next fake Olympics, and find that there is a loophole that will allow them to skate again. They’re not banned from pairs figure skating. Through a chance circumstance, (as if there’s any sort of thing in these movies) they end up having no resort but to pair with each other.

Hilarity ensues.

Actually, hilarity ensued quite a bit before that point, but, meh. Point is, this movie was hilarious. Go see it, or, if you don’t go to movies, wait for the DVD and buy it, or, if you don’t buy DVDs, rent it, or, if you’re a cheap bastard, wait for it to come out on cable, or, if you don’t have cable, GO SEE IT! It’s worth it if you like to laugh, and if you don’t, then lighten up, sourpuss.

I give this movie four out of four triple axels on a scale that I just made up that means nothing.

The Office Moral: Use Mace Wisely

Ah, The Office, how do I love thee? In private, where no one can see my sick perversions. No, not really in private, Stacy and I do it together. Yeah, you read me right, together.

How many times can I say that the latest episode was comic genius? At least one more, because I’m saying it now. Everything from Dwight’s office arsenal to Michael Scott’s cross-dressing had me laughing until my sides hurt. I loved Angela’s promptings for every variation of the story of Dwight’s heroism and Dwight’s refusal of any accolade.

Dwight: No, don’t call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go into their normal jobs, and get a distress call from the commissioner, and take off their glasses and change into capes, and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes.

We were surprisingly light on Jimisms in this episode, but it didn’t detract. Kelly and Ryan made up for it in spades.

Kelly: What is so stupid about wanting to name a baby Usher?
Kelly: Usher Jennifer Hudson Kapoor.
Ryan: Don’t you see why that’s insane?
Kelly: Oh, so I’m crazy now?

I still feel bad for Jan every time she and Michael Scott interact in front of others, but hey, she’s brought it on herself, right?

Jan: Are you going to take care of this?
Michael: Yeppers.
Jan: What did I tell you about “yeppers”?
Michael: I don’t remember.
Jan: I told you not to say it. Do you remember that?
Michael: Ye–sh.

A few small moments showed the creators’ attention to detail that I really enjoyed. For instance, in the last episode we saw Oscar and Angela make a small connection in their common dislike of the bar. In this episode, we saw a further development of that relationship when Roy comes in for his final paycheck. While it’s Angela that has to hand the paycheck to Roy, it’s Oscar who stands between them protectively. It was sweet.

I don’t see things working out between Jim and Pam anytime soon with the latest brouhaha, which I consider a boon to the show. I’ve said it before and I maintain that to have them hook up would be jumping the shark. Just like Sam and Diane lost all their chemistry and sexual tension after they slept together, so would Jim and Pam. The show would certainly suffer for it. I do miss the sly glances at each other from the first two seasons as well as the conspiratorial meetings, but those days are gone as well. Still, The Office has yet to disappoint me, so I’m onboard for wherever they decide to take me next.

I’ll leave you with one final quote from the end of the show. As always, I give a big “Thank you!” to for the handy quotes. Check out the site for a preview of next week’s episode!

Andy: I graduated from anger management the same way I graduated from Cornell — on time. Now I’m back, got a second chance, and I’m not going to blow it. So look out, Dunder Mifflin! I mean “look out” in a fun way. You know, not like, “I’m going to hurt you.”

Oh, and by the way, Final Paycheck would be a great name for a rock band.

Gem Mountain? More Like Porcelain Valley!

The following travelogue is by no means entertaining. It is dry and boring, much like me (Gotta use more moisturizer!) You’ve been warned.

Stacy and I decided to go on a mini vacation this week. We had seen a bit on the Travel Channel about a place in North Carolina called Gem Mountain where they give you a bucket of rough minerals and a flume to find semi-precious stones. We thought the girls would enjoy it and the host made off with more value in the found gemstones than she paid in the cost of the bucket. We booked a night in a local inn last week and planned for the eight-hour drive down to NC.
Little did we know, dark forces were conspiring against us. I am currently enrolled in a database class in school. This class requires Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Developer edition for assignments. The software isn’t expensive, only $50 a pop, but it performed a whammy on my laptop after I installed it. My system performance went down the tube. I eventually reached the point uninstalling it in frustration and completing my assignment in MySQL, which I already had installed with no trouble. It turns out my instructor won’t accept MySQL, even though the class is just on SQL and not teaching a specific software.


So I decide to break out my software and reinstall MS SQL. Only I don’t have the software anymore. I have the empty box, but no CDs anywhere. I searched for hours with no success. By that time, it was the night before our trip and the assignment was due the next day. See where this is going?

Fine, I think, I’ll just download a cracked version. I bought the licensed version anyway, Microsoft got my money. Only, I couldn’t find an English cracked version on Usenet. I did find a Korean version, though. I decided to bite the bullet and try BitTorrent and Peer to Peer. The only ones I could find that way were transferring at 4kbps or less. The estimated download time? 8 hours. By then I was falling asleep at the keyboard so I set the computer down and let it download through the night.

By the next morning the download time was readjusted to 14 hours – left. I knew there was a reason I didn’t screw with that P2P crap. Stacy and I resolved to find a copy at a local Office Depot or the like. I downloaded the Korean version, just in case. After a fruitless search at four different local stores, we gave up and started the drive south. Either I would make do with the Korean version or I’d turn in my assignment with MySQL and suffer the lower grade.

I am not a big fan of traveling long distances by car. The varying landscape cannot make up for the cramped quarters, limited activity, and general uncomfortableness of driving for hours at a time. Stacy drove first so I could install the Korean MS SQL. Through the sheer accident of clicking the right options, I made it through the half-Korean, half-garbled install process and got it on the laptop. Even though the software is in Korean, the command line interface, all that I needed for class, still accepted English. The errors and feedback from running commands was all in Korean, though. I figured I’d muddle through.

By that time we were approaching Tenessee and the halfway mark of our trip, so I took over driving from Stacy. The girls were amazingly well-behaved, although Vicki complained of pains in her stomach a couple of times.

It wasn’t until we got into the winding hills of the North Carolina “mountains” that the real trouble began. Vicki let out a warning, “I feel like throwing up!” and Stacy dived into the back seat with a plastic bag in the nick of time. And so it began.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. I figured Vicki just got carsick, poor kid. Understandable considering the up and down, side to side motion of the car over the mountain roads.
A few hours later and only one wrong turn, we made it to Spruce Pine, NC, home of Gem Mountain and the Spruce Pine Inn, a converted schoolhouse. The Inn was easy enough to find and the staff was pleasant. The room was one of the more spacious double-occupancy rooms I’ve been in, including “vaulted schoolroom ceilings” as the historical pamphlet told me. We headed out to the town for some dinner and ended up eating at an all-you-can-eat buffet. The food was passable, but Scarlett was done sitting down by that point. Thankfully, she’s adorable, so she just charmed all the surrounding diners as she staggered between tables like a miniature drunken sailor. Stacy and I took turns chasing her while the other ate and kept track of the older girls.

When we returned to the inn, I got to work on my homework after we put the girls to bed. It took a while for them to get to sleep with the unfamiliar surroundings, and by then I wasn’t feeling too good. My stomach was starting to feel upset. I suspected I had eaten some bad food, not a stretch of the imagination even at the cleanest of buffets. A few hours later, my suspicions were confirmed after repeated trips to the bathroom. I won’t bore you with those details (just the rest of these, I can’t believe you’re still reading this. Do you have some rare form of OCD that makes you finish everything you read? I can’t imagine any other reason to continue to subject yourself to my account. Just think of all the productive things you could be doing online right now, like browsing through Myspace pages or reading blogs – oh, right.) It was between one of these trips that I heard the tell-tale sounds of baby vomit coming from the travel crib. Scarlett was sick, too. The poor kid was up all night, either breast feeding with Stacy or voiding her stomach. I couldn’t figure out what we had in common at the buffet besides a drink I shared with her, but I couldn’t think of what else would cause her to get sick.

The next morning Stacy and I were exhausted. We toyed with the notion of buying the bucket of rocks from Gem Mountain and just driving back home, but I threw that idea out. We had come all this way for our girls to go to Gem Mountain, and by gum, we were going to Gem Mountain! The five minute car ride was enough to finally put Scarlett to sleep. She had still been up from the night before. My stomach was still rocky, so I opted to stay in the van while Stacy took Vicki and Zoe into Gem Mountain.

It sounded like fun, with the flume mining where they’d put the rocks in a screened box, rinse through flowing water and reveal sparkling gems, but I was just happy to rest in the van. I snoozed for a while during their visit, thankfully Scarlett slept the entire time. When they came back, the girls had four small backs practically bursting with uncut gemstones, some bigger than Vicki’s fist. Very impressive.

We browsed their gift shop after Scarlett woke up and I found that I was feeling a bit better. I still wasn’t up to driving by the time we left, but armed with some Immodium and Dramamine from the gift shop, I hoped to make it home leaking a minimum of bodily fluids (I know, ewwww.)

And make it home we did. Not before Scarlett made a fine mess of her carseat at least three times, but we did make it home otherwise unscathed. I felt much better that evening, but I still hadn’t eaten anything since dinner at the buffet. I wasn’t quite there yet. Getting home signaled the last piece of the obvious puzzle to drop.

Stacy got sick.

I put the pieces together like a master detective who has been shown the clues in sequence and had the mystery patiently explained to him multiple times. First, Vicki complains of stomach pains on the way down, then throws up in the car. Car sickness? I think not. Then, Scarlett and I get sick at almost the same time after sharing practically nothing that could have been contaminated. Food poisoning? I think not. Finally, Stacy gets sick a full 24 hours after Scarlett and I. Coincidence? I think not.

I don’t know what we had, but it knocked Stacy out flat the next day. I had to call into work that morning and tell them I wasn’t coming in so I could stay home and nurse her back to health while I kept the girls out of trouble. Fun stuff.

Thankfully, Stacy felt better by that evening and we had a nice night watching NBC’s Thursday night comedy featuring The Office, but that’s for another post.

See, now don’t you feel silly for reading the entire entry? No payoff or anything. Did you learn a lesson from all this? I hope so, because otherwise it was a complete waste of your time. (Insert Nelson laugh here.)