Cheese Grater Story

Products often have humorous warning labels, such as a costume with a cape that includes the tag, “Does not allow wearer to fly.” These warnings seem funny to us because honestly, who would do some of these things? These warnings seem hysterically obvious yet, in many cases, they exist because someone somewhere may not have found such details as obvious as the rest of us.

One of the things my company does is sell a variety of products. Every three weeks or so I get an office full of clothing, appliances, books, tools, jewelry, and more. I figure out how I'm going to design ads for each item, and take low resolution digital photos to show our photo studio how I'd like them to be shot. It can be an interesting job, and often we'll get a new item that's a challenge to depict, but rarely would I call it a dangerous job.

Among the assortment in my office last week was an authentic replica of a military sword. Wrapped in plastic and bubble wrap with its scabbard, the item was well-oiled. I carefully cut away the tape holding everything together, and wiped the blade down with a paper towel before taking it to the men's room to rinse it off in the sink. Indeed, I walked down the hall brandishing a three-foot blade without giving it a second thought, until I was at the sink and other guys showed up to wash their hands in the neighboring sink. At that point I realized how funny it must appear, no doubt failing to suppress a smirk.

I finished cleaning the sword, brought it back to my office and photographed it, wrapping it and the scabbard in some fresh plastic before moving on to the next product. By the next day, all items were shot and safely locked in my drawers until my meeting with the studio. I proceeded to go through my shots and composite them into the backgrounds I'd want to use for my layouts, when one of my writers showed up and asked to see one of the items.

It took a few drawers to find what she was looking for, a plastic strainer that adjusted to fit across any sink. It included a cutting board and a variety of attachments for grating cheese, slicing meat, and more. After I showed it to her and explained its uses, she had enough to go write a description. At this point, I noticed there was something sticky on the side of the plastic.

“Don't tell me someone left a melted candy in that drawer...?” was my first thought. When I joined the company a little over a year ago, one of the drawers contained a lot of sugar, more loose than in packets. I wouldn't be surprised if the previous occupant left candy as well. I turned the item over, noting various red blotches, thinking perhaps it was some kind of berry instead. No matter where I held the item, it was sticky, and I finally considered that the red stuff might be blood.

Checking the fingertips of my left hand, I found nothing. I wasn't so lucky when I checked my right hand and saw all my fingertips were bloody, with the tip of my middle finger entirely covered in a sea of red. I felt a familiar head rush but managed to stay calm and dismiss it as anxiety and not blood loss. I pieced together that when I held it to show my writer, the cheese grater attachment that fits into a recess on top had little metal triangles pointing up that were amazingly sharp. Apparently I grabbed the item in this area and punctured skin without even feeling it.

Wrapping my hand in a paper towel, I calmly walked down the hall to the restroom, made my way to the sink, and ran cold water over my hand. When I brought myself to look I saw no blood, at least until I pulled my hand away from the stream of water. Then a rose bloomed on the tip of my middle finger, from the tiniest of cuts. It was only one and small, but it was deep. Every time I took my hand away from the water, it started bleeding again.

I wrapped it in some clean towels and kept pressure on it, taping the whole mess up when I got back to my desk. I wiped the plastic of the strainer down thoroughly, as the photo studio probably wouldn't appreciate getting something covered in my blood. After about ten minutes I was brave enough to unwrap the bloody towels and check my finger. The bleeding had stopped, but typing was going to prove difficult. I checked with one of my friends to find out if he had any bandages or knew where the company had a first aid kit. I lucked out in that he had both Band-Aids and alcohol swabs, and I was able to properly clean and dress the wound.

It may seem obvious not to hold a cheese grater by the metal blades, but you can bet I'll be letting the appropriate people know that we should include a warning about sharp edges in our promotion. Accident-prone as I am, I'm just impressed and amazed by the irony and improbability that I split open a finger on a 1/16” blade, and yet avoided injury when I cleaned a 3-foot sword a day prior.


Deli Dilemma

I have two favorite delis near my office. When my only other sandwich options in walking distance are Subway, Dunkin' Donuts, Burger King, and a small bagel place, these delis particularly shine. One is a bit further, and most of the time it makes more sense to drive than walk. When the weather is cool enough that I can walk more than a mile without turning into a sweaty mess, and I don't have any afternoon meetings, I do enjoy the long walk along a beach needed to reach this deli. There I find an assortment of over 60 sandwiches, all available in wrap form, the option I take every time. I love the wraps in that place.

The other deli is in a strip mall much closer to my office, at the end of the block and around the corner. I can walk there in about ten minutes, and while they don't have the range of predetermined choices that the other one has, there are five or six sandwiches that stand out. My healthiest choice is usually a turkey and swiss sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. My least healthy choice is a fried chicken cutlet topped with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese, what they refer to as a “chickaroni”. My current favorite from that place combines hot, chopped roast beef with bacon and melted American cheese, all on a toasted garlic bread hero. It's sort of the deli version of a bacon cheeseburger, and it's delicious.

Nothing compares to the wraps in the further deli, but the closer deli has some good food as well. Other than the occasional crowd that I might encounter, there's only one other down side besides a long line. Around this time every year, they opt to leave the front door open and get some fresh air. This also attracts flies. A few horse flies zipping around a lightbulb or perched on a wall might not seem like a big deal to some, and any of us who've ever enjoyed a meal in a park might do little more than wave the pests away before resuming our lunch. A few years back, one of my friends pointed out how the same flies that land in fecal matter will turn around and land on a sandwich, rubbing their legs together to clean them. It's gross and a great way to spread disease. This thought breeds much horror.

For whatever reason, the flies in this deli usually hang around either by the entrance or near the cash register. While I waited for my sandwich on Friday, I made the mistake of glancing up, perhaps attracted by motion. Behind the counter there are some cabinets and shelves mounted on the wall. Way up on top of these are some boxes, and I noticed some kind of orange cylindrical thing as well. I should say this object was mostly orange, as the bulk of its surface was literally covered in flies. It was obviously some kind of sticky trap like fly paper, and was doing a good job when one compared the sheer volume of dead flies to the two or three still darting around the light fixtures. Dead or not though, that was a lot of flies.

I already ordered my favorite roast beef sandwich, and I had to be back at work for a 2:00 meeting. My eyes shifted to the left, to a wall-mounted certificate of approval from the health inspector that I found both reassuring and surprising. I got my sandwich and paid for it, and tried not to thing about that fly-covered cylinder until I was finished. That was a lot of flies, a lot of flies. Without thinking, I once ate a french fry that I dropped on a table, so I am capable of having a strong stomach when I probably shouldn't. Still, I'm not sure I can go back to that deli. I'm better off driving to the other one if need be, especially since they keep their door closed and I don't think I've ever seen a single fly in there. No, I think I'm done with that deli for a while, at least until the Winter when they close their door again and the flies are gone.

Well, that probably killed a few appetites. We'll see how this compares to the cheese grater story I have planned for tomorrow...


Little Scares

We've had some truly beautiful mornings of late, cool air and clear blue skies. I love this time of year when the weather begins to transition from oppressive heat to more reasonable temperatures. So caught up in the perfect conditions of my morning commute as I sailed down a side road on my way to work, I was quite startled to see a police car in my rearview mirror.

Mind you, I've been exceptionally cautious ever since the one time I actually did get a speeding ticket. “Why are you so nervous when you see cops? Police are our friends!” is what my mom always says when I'm driving and react in an odd way to seeing a cop, such as telling her to “be cool!” as I slow down by easing my foot off the gas pedal, a pointless action when one considers I'm not speeding to begin with. Even if I'm doing nothing wrong, I don't like having a police car in my rearview mirror, and I'm glad when they pass me.

Though I've been pulled over only once, it's not the only time I've pulled over. Once in college, I noticed the flashing lights of a state trooper as I was heading home on a parkway. I immediately took the next exit, with him close on my tail. I made a right on red, and pulled in to the first parking lot, which happened to be their headquarters. I parked, he drove right past and parked by the building, and went inside without giving me a second look. Maybe the lights were just to let him get around me, or maybe he was messing with me like one of the Super Troopers. In any case, I was glad it turned out to be a false alarm.

Which brings us back to this Thursday morning, when the lights began to flicker on the roof of the cruiser behind me. It was just the end lights, and there was no siren, and I wasn't sure what that meant. Then the whole bar lit up as well as the lights in the radiator, so I pulled to the curb. I was sure I was driving within the limit, and reasonably sure I come to a semi-full stop at the last stop sign. Could he really be enforcing stop signs and looking for “stop-tional” offenders? A buddy of mine got pulled over by a motorcycle cop in the area for having tinted windows, and after seven years without complaint, suddenly had to go home and scrape off the tinting. The police in that area can be tough.

Of course, this officer just wanted to pass me, and sailed right by. I felt a rush of relief, and knew that would be the last time something scared me for the day, a thought guaranteed to jinx me. Indeed, a somewhat busy and productive day ended on an interesting note, when I proceeded to check my files back in to the server. We use a database system that “locks” files so other people won't be able to overwrite what we do while we're working on them. When a file checks in the icon will usually change to a little thumbnail preview, so I can see that my work has been recorded. On this occasion, it displayed a blank page, scare #2 for the day.

When files check in, they're deleted from the user's desktop. Fortunately, years of double work from computer crashes and other obstacles taught me to always keep a backup in another folder. I checked the blank file out, replaced it with one of my backup copies, and checked it back in, at which point it reverted to a blank page. Again. After a few more tries I e-mailed our support staff, and by a little after 5 PM was notified that they were working on the problem, and that I should continue working from my desktop for the time being. By 5:30 I was ready to go for a nice stress-relieving run at the gym, when one of the executives showed up with revisions on an important new ad. Since we're getting out early on Friday and she'll be out for the next two weeks, I opted to stay and finish it rather than tackle it in the morning. I considered skipping the gym but knew I needed to get in at least a little exercise.

So, it was quite dark when I finished my workout. I flipped open my cell phone and called my dad to let him know I was running late. As I rounded the corner from the parking lot toward the street where I was parked, something small darted across the sidewalk into some wood chips. “What's the matter?” asked my dad, but I wasn't answering, straining to focus in the dark. Was it a mouse or a rat? My eyes couldn't separate it from the wood until it jumped again, at which point I thought it was a large black cricket. Then I saw another one, and another. Some wood chips were wood chips, while others were...alive. In the light cast by a passing car, I caught a glimpse of the bulbous eyes, spotted complexion, and slimy frame of a little frog. I had no idea how many there were, and had no desire to step on any of them in the dark, and so had to double back to the parking lot and walk out in to the street to approach my car. At this point, I remembered my dad was still on the phone, and let him know everything was fine and that I was on my way.

Life is full of little surprises, sometimes all on the same day.


T.I.L.T. Things I've Learned Thursday XIII

Yes, I'm still doing Things I've Learned Thursday. Deal with it.

* Most people, myself included, incorrectly (nontraditionally?) use the phrase “begs the question”.

* Tobey Maguire and Robert Downey, Jr. have shared intimate scenes on film on at least two occasions. The first was in Wonder Boys, a film I rented a few weeks ago only to discover there wasn't much of a plot. The second collaboration was more recent, and more hilarious.

* Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start

* Never hesitate to go to the doctor if you think something is wrong with you. I always worry about “crying wolf” and being considered a hypochondriac, but there are certain symptoms one should never ignore. I was chatting with an old professor about the time he ignored some serious signs until he finally passed out, and the complications he had to deal with later in life as a result of it. It reminded me that I did the same thing about 7 years ago and almost bled to death. I was lucky and was able to resume a normal life, with some manageable psychological damage. These days I err on the side of caution, sometimes too cautious, but it beats the alternative.

* In some ways, time is a force we can't control, a constantly flowing river that maintains its course and direction whether we fight the current or go with it. In others, time is a matter of perception, and a few old photos or reconnecting with old friends you never thought you'd be in contact with again can make it seem like no time has passed at all.

* Four is a four letter word. Fou is crazy, en français. Fo comes after Fee Fi but before Fum. Do not F with Axl.

* It doesn't take much to get a song stuck in your head.

* Always cut the green wire.

* No wait,
RED! Cut the re



PBW: Dog Days

Sorry if the title of this week’s Photo Blog Wednesday is misleading, friends, but there are no canines in this post. It simply refers to the end of Summer, and my last batch of photos for the month of August includes a crazy big spider outside my living room window, a baby bunny that was nibbling grass near my office, and Beast, the semi-feral stray cat that my mom feeds.

And I’ll throw in a couple of desktop-sized images from this batch, at no extra cost to you! Simply click the images below for the larger sizes.



Selective Palette

Considering it took me nearly twenty years to accept lettuce as food, and that in college I once ordered “Chicken with Broccoli/hold the Broccoli” from a Chinese restaurant, no one can really accuse me of having a wide range of tastes. Still, when I saw this food list over at Antick Musings, I thought I'd try it anyway. Of the 100 items below, the ones in BOLD are the ones I've actually tried, while the ones with a strikethrough are things I wouldn't eat if my life depended on it. Let's see just how selective my palette really is:

1. Venison
2. Nettle Tea
3. Huevos Rancheros
4. Steak Tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding

7. Cheese Fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba Ghanoush
11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo Gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit Wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed Pork Buns
20. Pistachio Ice Cream
21. Heirloom Tomatoes
22. Fresh Wild Berries
23. Foie Gras
24. Rice and Beans
25. Brawn, or Head Cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet Pepper
27. Dulce de Leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna Cauda
31. Wasabi Peas
32. Clam chowder in a Sourdough Bowl

33. Salted Lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root Beer Float

36. Cognac with a Fat Cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried Goat
42. Whole Insects

43. Phaal
44. Goat's Milk
45. Malt Whisky from a Bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken Tikka Masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly Pear

52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald's Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty Gin Martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob Chips
61. S'mores

62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin

64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs' Legs
67. Beignets, Churros, Elephant Ears or Funnel Cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried Plantain
70. Chitterlings, or Andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and Blini
73. Louche Absinthe
74. Gjetost, or Brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe Beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse

90. Criollo Chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft Shell Crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole Poblano
96. Bagel and Lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee
100. Snake

Not surprisingly, out of 100 items I've actually tried 18, most of which I liked(except for the lox, cigar, and sauerkraut). I had to look up the majority of these items. In some cases I was surprised to read descriptions and think, “Well that sounds like something I'd try.” In others, I was shocked to learn, “That's so not bread!” I'd love to hear your reactions to this list and see how my tastes, or lack thereof, compare with your own. It’s a delicious world, but I apparently wouldn’t eat all of it.


Phantasmic Links 8.25.08

I was doing some math for various reasons, not the least of which is my love of math, but after a relaxing weekend, I was wondering just how many jobs I have left with the various bands I play in before the Winter break around October. I calculated eight, with two falling on weeknights, so it won't be long before I enjoy two “vacation” days every week. One thing that boggles my mathematical mind is how fast a weekend can go by. I've yet to perfect an adequate method of slowing down time, and I probably will find the opposite effect clicking through PHANTASMIC LINKS:

(1) Click Myclofigia and get our city to #1!

(2) How do you catch a two-mouthed fish? Why, with a four-earred cat, unnaturally.

(3) Speaking of cats, here's one that eats with a fork and chopsticks.
Hat Tip: Lyndon.

(4) Here's something exciting and scary: the first robot to be powered by living brain tissue. They are among us and they have a plan....?

(5) Boombot has an interesting premise: move your robot to the portal in each level...with BOMBS. Fun and increasingly challenging!

(6) Sorry ladies(and some gentlemen): Dickipedia might not contain what you're expecting, although it contains plenty of people who've fit the description at one time or another.

(7) These age-maps are an awesome fusion of young and old photographs of the same people. I'm going to have to try this. I'd never post it here, but I still want to try it...
H.T.: Darrell.

(8) Bottled Water is now available in a can! Well, it's about time...
H.T.: B13.

(9) The Olympics will try anything to get viewers. I blame Katy Perry.
H.T.: B13.

(10) Hey, where did I leave those 2,008 needles? Oh, there they are in that Chinese guy.
H.T.: Darrell.

(11) The Cheat takes us back to when Rap was in our Metal, and Metal was in our Rap. I totally need to listen to my Judgment Night soundtrack again now...

(12) At one of the feasts I played in this year, we went with two bands, our group in green and the other in red. “So long, Red-shirts!” said I, laughing internally at a ridiculously geeky reference that no one got. This video might have helped. I think my favorite is either the dude that looks right into the plant that turns toward him, or the guy that walks into the path of the power conduit.
H.T.: Rey.

(13) Draaaaaaainage FAIL! It was hard to tell from the video, but when the guy walks over to the opening between geysers, I bet he had on a red shirt...
H.T.: B13.

(14) This Flesh Map illustrates which song genres mention which body parts the most.(Some NWS images, most notably in the Hip-Hop genre...)

(15) Finally, Shift 2 and Shift 3 are awesome sequels to the original Shift, and they include awards, unlockable secrets, and even level editors!

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!



M.C.F.A.T. XX: Answers

From around the globe they came, at least, from around one quarter of the globe, bloggers seeking answers. Brave souls stepped forth to take up the challenge of the Mysterious Cloaked Figure's Astonishing Test for what seemed like the TWENTIETH time:


Kev Bayer

The Unseen One





1) Are you offended when a film or television show lampoons something close to you, be it nationality, faith, gender, etc.? If so, how do you respond?
I think a lot of the world's conflicts could be resolved if more people had a sense of humor. In America, there's a fine line between what is and isn't acceptable, especially within the boundaries of free speech. If something is clearly a joke, outrageous for the sake of being outrageous, it doesn't usually bother me. Family Guy has crossed this line occasionally, but while I might cringe at a joke that has God getting in a bar fight, using his Son's name in vain then asking Him to get the car, within seconds the show is already moving on to its next target, perhaps the Jewish population or the mentally challenged. They've done Clinton jokes and they've done Bush jokes. They make fun of everyone equally, so I can't be too bothered.

There was recent talk of boycotting Tropic Thunder for jokes about the mentally challenged. Like Scott Nehring and Darrell, I have to wonder if the jokes are aimed at the disabled or the stupidity of characters mocking the disabled, which are two different things. Nehring points out how There's Something About Mary managed to be on the acceptable side of this distinction, and I'll be able to judge better for myself once I see Tropic Thunder. I think people have the freedom to make movies and shows that mock or disagree with things I believe in, just as I'd have the right to do the same. I'll usually check out a movie for myself rather than go by negative buzz. Catholic groups had called for a boycott of Dogma, but that didn't stop me from seeing it. I didn't particularly like it, and didn't agree with a lot of things in it, but I don't think I would ever organize and stop people from seeing something. I'd give my opinion, but we each ultimately have to decide for ourselves. At some point I'll probably watch something of Michael Moore's, but I haven't felt any particular rush or desire to do so.

2) If you were granted with superhuman intelligence and or abilities that had the unfortunate side effect of ending your life in a few days, how would you spend your final hours?
Obviously a cure would be my first priority but, failing that, I imagine I'd want to record as much data as possible to benefit others once I was gone, from technology to researching cures for diseases. Rodney McKay went through a similar experience on an episode of Stargate: Atlantis. Of course, when they finally find a way to restore his normal state and save his life, a lot of the research he did was no longer comprehensible to him. I think if there was no way to reverse my condition in such a situation, I'd also look into creating a virtual version of myself, so I could live on. Sure, it wouldn't have my soul or be me, just a computer program that thought as I did, but at least the world could still benefit from my gifts and I wouldn't be forgotten. With my luck, the simulation would probably duplicate my ordinary self, and suffer from numerous blocks and command loops that kept it from advancing and achieving its true potential.

3) If someone you knew repeatedly demonstrated poor hygiene, would you ever broach the subject and tell the person?
I was amazed by how many people answered this in the affirmative. Certainly, family pulls no punches, and my mom has probably always been the first one to tell me if I smelled. My dad's never had the greatest olfactory senses, otherwise I would have heard from him as well. There were about four or five years after college in which I didn't have a dental plan and didn't go to the dentist. At some point in that time, I somehow got a cavity in one of my wisdom teeth and didn't notice until it was a gaping crater. No one ever said anything to me about my breath, and when I discovered it I worried that it may have been among the reasons my ex-girlfriend left me. I had the tooth removed along with the other 3, and I've made regular visits to the dentist twice a year ever since.

I suspect one of my band leaders never visits a dentist. He had worked for a major corporation for about 25 years before being laid off, and after a period of unemployment he finally found a job packing boxes in a warehouse. I have to wonder whether or not the job offers a dental plan, as his breath is horrible. You can smell it within a three foot radius when he speaks. It's beyond lacking professional care. Even when I wasn't seeing a hygienist twice a year, I was still brushing every day and using mouthwash. I got into a conversation with one of the other band members about it, who wondered how the guy's wife could stand to kiss him. “Maybe she throws a handful of Tic Tacs at him?” I suggested. “He needs something stronger, like a urinal cake” suggested the other guy. Ultimately, if anyone should say anything to him I guess it should be his wife. We're certainly not close enough to broach the subject, and with that breath we keep our distance. It does hurt to hear that you smell from people close to you, but in the big picture I personally would prefer they tell me rather than laugh at me behind my back. I've always been fortunate to have friends who will laugh right in my face, for better or worse.

4) Who are some of your favorite television characters that originated one one series before being spun off into another?
These are some of my favorite supporting characters who appeared in either starring or supporting roles on spinoffs of the shows they originated on: Wesley Wyndham-Pryce, Faith, Dr. Rodney McKay, Joey Tribbiani, Nick Tortelli, Jaime Sommers, Launchpad McQuack and old Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond.

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What was the name of my first pet, and what was it?
My mom has always had cats, and the first one I remember is an orange cat named Muffin. He had a younger brother named Dudley, who passed away before I could remember him, although there is this photo of some little fat kid emptying an entire box of crunchy treats on to the floor for them:

I also vaguely remember emptying a box of Cheerios on to the kitchen table and my mom finding both myself and my orange “brother” eating off the table. As an only child, I guess I thought of the cats as surrogate siblings. It was very sad when Muffin got a tumor on his back leg and passed away.

I'll conclude with a shot of Muffin from happier times, relaxing on the couch with Cindy, a Calico my mom adopted after we lost Dudley.

Cindy was short for ”Cinderella”, so named because on her first night with us she wandered into the fireplace and came out covered in soot. Over thirty years later, and we still keep it covered and have never lit a fire.

And that does it for XX. What say you all; should there be a XXI?



Cold Mornings and Warm Shows

I don't doubt that we have a few scorching hot days left this Summer, extending well into the Fall. But as we've enjoyed a few cool mornings these last few days, just a hint of Autumn, the return of reasonable temperatures reminds me of another return: television.

Each Summer, my schedule transitions from the dictates of my favorite shows to the dictates of gigs with my various bands. Weeknights blur together, and only Fridays have some significance, with the others interchangeable. During the networks' broadcast season, I can tell the days of the week by what shows are on. With the Writer's Strike, many shows suffered a truncated season, which worked in my favor since a lot of new programs grabbed my attention last year along with old favorites. I would have been more upset that Bionic Woman sucked and got canceled if it didn't free up another hour in my week. Hopefully, there won't be too many new shows this season, though I know of at least three already. The question on my mind, as August winds down in a few short weeks, is when all these shows are coming back. I'm going to figure that out right now:

1) 24: Returns with a two-hour season 7 prequel movie on Sunday, 11/23/08 at 8 PM on FOX.

2) 30 Rock: Returns Thursday, 10/30/08 at 9:30 PM on NBC.

3) Battlestar Galactica: The first half of the fourth and final season has already aired, with the remaining 11 episodes to return in early 2009 Friday nights on SciFi.

4) Chuck: Returns Monday, 9/29/08 at 8:00 PM on NBC.

5) Cleveland: 13 episodes of this Family Guy spinoff are expected to air in 2009 on FOX. My guess would be on Sundays.

6) Dollhouse: 7 episodes of this new Whedon/Dushku/Acker joint will hopefully air on FOX in 2009. I'm already braced for the cancellation and subsequent search for unaired episodes online or on DVD, but with that creator and those actresses I hope they give it a chance.

7) Family Guy: Returns on Sunday, 9/28/08 at 9 PM on FOX.

8) Fringe: Premieres on Tuesday, 9/9/08 at 8 PM on FOX. Again, I'm cautiously optimistic about a new FOX show's chances for survival.

9) Heroes: Returns Monday, 9/22/08 at 8 PM on NBC and I can't wait.

10) How I Met Your Mother: Returns Monday, 9/22/08 at 8:30 PM on CBS and I guess I'll have to tape it. Actually, I'm booked with one of my bands that night so I'll need to tape the Heroes premiere too.

11) Knight Rider: Premieres Wednesday, 9/24/08 at 8 PM on NBC and I'm willing to give it a chance.

12) Lost: The 17 episode penultimate fifth season of the best show on television doesn't start until 2009 on ABC. It seems further away than it is.

13) My Name is Earl: Returns Thursday, 9/25/08 at 8 PM on NBC.

14) The Office: Returns Thursday, 9/25/08 at 9 PM on NBC.

15) Prison Break: Returns Monday, 9/1/08 at 8 PM on FOX, the first show to return in the 2008-2009 season.

16) Pushing Daisies: The facts are these: the best indescribable modern fairy tale returns Wednesday, 10/1/08 at 8 PM on ABC.

17) Reaper: Hopefully, 2009 will bring us at least 13 episodes of the second season on The CW. It's a fun show.

18) Scrubs: In 2009, stay scalpel-sharp and keep an eye out for a proper final season of 18 episodes to air on ABC.

19) The Simpsons: The 20th season begins on Sunday, 9/28/08 at 8 PM on FOX.

20) Smallville: Returns Thursday, 9/18/08 at 8 PM on The CW for an unexpected eighth season. I'm hanging on to this one by a thread, to see how the whole mess finally turns out, and because on those rare occasions when it's good, it's really good, and when it's bad, it makes a great drinking game. We lost three original cast members last year, though one won't be missed as much as the other two. This season Green Arrow becomes a regular which should be a good thing, and Doomsday becomes a regular, which would be a good thing if his character wasn't initially described as being a “bartender”, later revised to “paramedic”. Yeah, those are the first careers that come to my mind too when I think about the unstoppable alien entity that killed the world's most iconic superhero in the comics back in the ‘90s. Sometimes, watching the show is like the morbid curiosity of slowing down when passing an accident.

21) The Spectacular Spider-Man: There will be a second season on The CW, though probably not before March, 2009.

22) Stargate: Atlantis: The fifth and, as recently announced, final season is already airing on SciFi at 10 PM on Friday nights. I'm still catching up with the fourth season, but the good news is that in addition to film sequels to the series, the franchise will live on in yet another spinoff, Stargate: Universe. Who would have thought an average movie from Roland Emmerich would spawn all this?

23) Supernatural: Returns Thursday, 9/18/08 at 9 PM on The CW. It's easily the best show on that network.

24) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Much to my surprise and delight, it survived FOX and will be back for a second season on Monday, 9/8/08 at 8 PM.

* * * * *

My Station Breakdown:
CBS: 1 Show
NBC: 6 Shows
FOX: 8 Shows
ABC: 3 Shows
The CW: 4 Shows
SciFi: 2 Shows

Well, dramas continue to outnumber sitcoms, and I'm down to only one Saturday morning cartoon. Still, 24 shows a week seems like a lot. Is that a lot? Mondays and Thursdays seem to be the busiest nights as with last season, so both the internet and my VCR will come in handy. At least a few shows won't be back until 2009, so maybe the herd will thin before then. Those are the shows I'll be watching; you can consult the Futon Critic's grid to find your favorites. And of course, save a few minutes each night to read the Nexus.



A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words. Most of the time, I share myself through many thousands of words, whether literally or through photos. So, when I saw this mosaic idea over at Lyndon's, I was intrigued. After answering twelve questions, input your answers on Flickr as search terms and choose the image you like best for each one. Then, follow the instructions at the Flickr Mosaic Maker to put your answer images into a grid. The result for me was the following:

1. Mysterious Girl, 2. doritos, minha vida. HAHA, 3. Chaminade Hall Entrance, 4. Lady in Red, 5. Jewel Staite at Shore Leave 30, 6. Corona Light ... the only Light Beer that's also a Corona, 7. A Boatman & His Dog Cruising Along in the Cannaregio Sestiere, Venice, 8. McFlurry.....Oreo, 9. once i was a son to my dad, 10. Miller girls, 11. Crap on My Desk, 12. Abstract 27 : Origins of the Colors

1. What is your first name?
Obviously, I went with “Mysterious” for the purpose of maintaining my secret identity.

2. What is your favorite food?
Doritos would better be described as my favorite snack, but it's the first thing that came to mind and offered a good visual.

3. What high school did you go to?
I went to a place called Chaminade, which looks similar to the image I found even though that's not the same one.

4. What is your favorite color?

5. Who is your celebrity crush?
Maybe it's because Lyndon already listed another Firefly alumnus that I liked, or because I've recently caught up to episodes of Stargate: Atlantis in which she's joined the cast, but I went with Jewel Staite.

6. What is your favorite drink?
I wouldn't mind being on a tropical beach with clear water as I drank a Corona.

7. What is your dream vacation?
The dream, if I ever get married, can get enough time off and can afford it, would be to visit Venice on my honeymoon. I probably should look into my roots in Italy and visit Sicily and Naples as well, but for some reason I've always been drawn to the water. I doubt it will ever happen, but that's why it's a dream vacation.

8. What is your favorite dessert?
I went with an Oreo McFlurry, but honestly anything that combines cookies with vanilla ice cream is fine in my book, wherever the source.

9. What do you want to do when you grow up?
I kind of surprised myself when I typed “father” into the search field. Even though that's a long way off and sometimes I'm not sure if I could handle the expense and responsibility, I guess it's a consideration in the back of my mind. My dad has four sisters and I'm an only child, so I've always known keeping the family name alive rests on my shoulders. And since my parents are my ultimate example of adulthood, moreso than my peers, I guess my logic is that I'll be a “grownup” when I become a parent myself.

10. Who/ what do you love most in life?
I could have gone with “family” or “friends” which would have been just as true, but “girls” offered much better images.

11. Choose one word that describes you?
Geek. ‘nuff said.

12. What is your Flickr name?
I considered putting my actual Flickr name, which is derived from my real name but probably wouldn't give that much away about the old secret identity. But when I did a search for it, nothing came up and Flickr asked me if I meant “nexus”. I took that as a sign, and used that for the final image.


T.I.L.T. Things I've Learned Thursday XII

It's time for another edition of Things I've Learned Thursday, in which I share knowledge and the internet says, “Well, duh...”

* Eating half a carton of vanilla ice cream with Splenda® before bedtime will always seem like a good, certainly delicious, idea at the time, but I promise you'll be regretting it by the next morning, if not sooner. Trust me.

* Stargate Atlantis will be ending once it concludes the current, fifth season. Bummer. I'm a little behind, working my way through the beginning of season 4 now, but I've really been enjoying it these past few weeks. The good news is that movie sequels are planned, which will hopefully be as good as the SG-1 DVD movies that came out this year.

* Many corporations offer “Lunch ‘n' Learn” presentations, in which people from different departments explain exactly what it is they do. They can be informative and offer insight into how the pieces of a process fit. After attending one this week, I learned a lot about how my company's buyers go about selecting and obtaining the various products that I'll eventually have to design ads for, once marketing approves their selections. I also learned that it's a good idea to get to these meetings about fifteen minutes early so I don't have to stand for an hour. Finally, I learned that the “lunch” portion might not be as good as the “learn” portion, especially if the latter runs long resulting in the former going cold.

* After the “Lunch ‘n' Learn”, we were invited to leave the conference room and head down the hall to the dining area where boxes upon boxes of pizza awaited. In hindsight, I realized I probably could have used one of the microwaves to heat up my slices, as cheese is kind of nasty after it re-solidifies. However, this brings me to a lesson I learned a few years ago at my old job, that one should be careful when microwaving food at work. I learned the hard way that my old company had switched to microwaves with a convection setting, and that a single burnt slice of pizza would be enough to set off the fire alarms, evacuate two office buildings, and summon three fire trucks. Recalling that lesson, I realized I was better off with the cold pizza.

* The more movies one watches, the more contrived and predictable movies seem to be. At this point in my life I've seen over 2,000 movies, and I'm almost starting to understand why critics get so jaded and picky. Almost.

* Cats are fine with ignoring people when they feel like being left alone, but they don't like being ignored when they want attention. This can result from behavior ranging from jumping up to the top of the refrigerator, to walking across a keyboard while one is playing a game causing one's character to miss a jump and die, to standing on a desk at 3 AM batting loose change on to the floor until you wake up. And when you do, and carry the little purring furball back to his resting place, he's won.

* Mixing ketchup with mayonnaise creates a tasty dressing. It's rare for condiments to play together as nicely as those two.

* The art club that I co-founded in college along with Rey and another friend is not only thriving after well over a decade, but has an online presence as well. It's amazing to see that something we did predominantly as an excuse to throw parties or barbecues and meet girls evolved into something legitimate. What are the odds?



PBW: Balloon Fest

A few weeks ago, I headed out to the Metro NY Balloon Festival with B13. His sister-in-law had scored some tickets she couldn't use, which was fortunate for us, especially since we arrived too late to see the morning flights and too early for the afternoon flights. That would have been upsetting if it cost us anything. By the end of the day it started to rain, so I'm not even sure the balloons would have gone up anyway. Still, between bikers, monster trucks, bands, trucks, rides, pets and more, there was more than enough material for a Photo Blog Wednesday.

B13 asked me to hold off posting my photos for fear that they'd give away his latest ”What is It Friday?” I agreed, though I did post a comment about the image being someplace I would have been on a Sunday, which was true even though it might have led people to think it was a detail of a stained glass window, and not in fact the interior of a colorful balloon. He deleted that comment for fear that it would give too much away, though a comment from a ”Phileas F.” slipped under the radar, most likely in a balloon.

Yes, that is a rare self portrait in the reflection of a bike with a pretty sweet demonic paint job.

“This is gonna make a great WIIF!”

Tell me that isn't the creepiest Ronald MacDonald ever. I could have nightmares about that guy fighting The Burger King. He was like a cross between Pennywise and Joker.

I totally remember collecting the first series of Marvel Universe cards back in high school, my quest to complete the set and get all the bonus hologram cards. It was definitely cool to see the whole set in one uncut sheet hanging from one of the tents.

And we'll conclude this week with a desktop image that puts you inside the big balloon. Click to enlarge and enjoy!



Got to Maintain

As he reached the top of the stairs leading up from the subway station, the old man felt a familiar tightness in his chest, and called out to his son to wait. After a few seconds, he was ready to start moving again but the son, unconvinced, made him take his heart spray and wait a little longer. The sensation subsided, and he was fine the rest of the day. On the way back, he wondered how he could play with the band in a four hour Italian procession without incident, but something like a flight of stairs could give him pause. For what felt like the hundredth time, the boy explained to his father how stairs required more of an exertion than strolling on level ground at a slow pace with frequent stops.

Sunday’s procession was a bit rough for my dad, at least getting there. For many reasons, public transportation is infinitely preferable to driving into Manhattan, between traffic and parking. While the gig itself wasn’t bad, the stairs took a lot out of him. From the station to the church I took his instrument, and though he insisted that it “didn’t look right” for me to carry two while he carried nothing, he didn’t put up as much of a fight as I would have expected, betraying genuine concern and common sense on his part. Like anything else in life, from houses to cars to yards, we need to maintain our health. While he’s never smoked nor drank alcohol, food was my father’s downfall and led to his clogged arteries. Changing his diet radically halted further blockage, but he’ll never reverse the damage and, at the age of 79, he can’t push himself as far as he did 20 or 30 years ago, though he thinks otherwise. I think it hurts his pride when he needs to rest, but I expect he’s more active than most guys his age.

It was a busy weekend for us both, between a gig on Saturday evening and the one in the city that took most of our day when travel time was factored in. I need to use somewhere between 8 to 12 vacation days before the end of the year, and since the last two times I took off it was to play with my band, it was nice to take off this Monday to just relax and recover from playing with the band. I find the occasional “mental health day” more and more essential to keeping my stress levels down as I get older. I exercise regularly, and try to eat as healthy as possible, occasionally caving to the lure of snacks though less frequently than in the past. If I still want to be playing music when I’m close to 80, now’s the time to change some of my bad habits and learn from my father’s experience.

Sunday night I overheard my dad talking to my mom about going over to his lot to box some weeds. She insisted he rest after a long weekend, especially one that included a little angina, but the same stubbornness that gets my dad in trouble is what keeps him moving. No way was I going to let him go off by himself when I was home for a change to help out, and no way was he going to wait for me to sleep in, not when he was trying to put the boxes out before the garbage pickup. Since his lot in his old home town happens to be the town I now work in, I found myself driving my regular commute on a Monday morning at the same time I normally do, perhaps even a few minutes earlier. Two people raked up leaves faster than one, though the garbage men came by sooner than expected and we missed them. I also mowed the lawn while I was there, something I’ve neglected over the Summer.

Summer tends to be a time of major neglect for me. Most people my age maintain homes and yards while working full time jobs and raising kids of their own. I tend to crash when my side work and my day job collide, and I let things go. Junk mail piles up in the hall while empty water bottles accumulate around the chair in front of my computer. I manage to get the lawn at my parents’ house cut every other week, if not every week, but it could be months before I cut the one at our lot. Maintenance a matter of not just energy, but the discipline to press forward even when we don’t have the energy. It’s a big part of being an adult.

When we got home, I realized I had another lawn that had been neglected for a few weeks, but after some major rain last week the gutters were more of a priority. With a flat roof and only four points where water escapes to drainpipes, leaves and twigs often accumulate. If my dad can’t walk up stairs, he definitely shouldn’t be carrying a ladder up from the basement and then climbing that. I’m not a fan of heights, but I find duty can overrule fear. I do what I have to do. With the gutters clear, I could finally cut the lawn. It was then I thought I could relax, but I noticed my dad boxing up some branches and vines he’d cut last week. He insisted I go inside and enjoy my vacation day, but I knew the job would go faster with both of us working. By midday, I could finally settle down.

As long as we’re alive, there are things that need to be maintained. Grass grows. Gutters clog. Even our electricity is acting up now. My parents keep losing power in their room at the outlets controlling the television, VCR, DVD player, answering machine, and an oscillating fan. Jiggling the switch downstairs usually restores power, but for some reason the breaker isn’t flipping off completely, just enough to break the connection. A major clue came from my mom, when she told us that the fan doesn’t turn on right away and takes a few minutes before it starts spinning. That means the electricity encounters resistance, “flows” back along the circuit along the path of least resistance, and when the box downstairs heats up the switch moves as a safety precaution. After comparing notes with some of our fellow musicians, we determined that the box might be in need of an upgrade, especially considering its age of more than 30 years. My dad convinced my mom to let him call an electrician. She’s wary of the expense, but I’m more wary of fire. Our basement is chock full of old wooden furniture she rescued from her parents’ house when her brother moved to an apartment, and our upstairs has plenty of wood and paper to burn as well. I look around at all my books, comics, notebooks, drawings, and more, and I know we can’t risk it. The circuit breaker is working for now, but it’s better to do some preventative maintenance before the worst happens. We might not want to spend a lot of money, eat healthy, or work on a day we’d rather relax. When the choice is maintain or decline, there’s no choice at all.


Phantasmic Links 8.18.08

I love New York. I don't love rude people who shove me, or crowded trains, or crowds in general. But I love a nice day with some pretty girls, Italian music, and wine. I love New York, and I love this week's PHANTASMIC LINKS. I wouldn't mind some more wine, either....

(1) Click Myclofigia and get our city to #1!

(2) Worst. Paramedic. Ever.
Hat Tip: Darrell.

(3) Has the iMac really been with us for 10 years already? I am so old, but I love my i-Lamp.
H.T.: Rey

(4) If ants in my computer equipment wasn't one of my worst fears, it is now...
H.T.: B13.

(5) Want to learn how to juggle? I can barely juggle my tasks...

(6) Prepare to be amazed by what people can illustrate digitally. I am at once humbled and inspired and humbled again.

(7) These color photos from the 1940s are great. It's funny how parts of Manhattan have changed, while others look exactly the same, especially downtown.
H.T.: Darrell.

(8) May I present, Sir Penguin? Hold that head high, little fellow.

(9) Face Your Manga allows you to create Manga style avatars. I found it limiting what with the lack of cloaks and glowing red eyes, but those of you with actual faces might find it of use.

(10) Gride is tricky...instead of controlling the vehicle, you control the upgrades. It's all about timing.

(11) Scientists find that alcohol does make other people seem more attractive. Um, duh?

(12) Can you manipulate dimensions and recover all of Space Station Jason's cargo from the black hole?

Have a link to a game, movie, article, or anything else you think might be “phantasmic”? E-mail me and it just might appear in an upcoming PHANTASMIC LINKS!




Well, the return of the M.C.F.A.T., Mysterious Cloaked Figure's Astonishing Test, was definitely welcomed by a few readers, so perhaps I'll keep these going, at least whenever I have a busy weekend like this one. The worst case scenario is that no one responds but I gain an impeccable knowledge of Roman numerals. Let's get to some questions:

1) Are you offended when a film or television show lampoons something close to you, be it nationality, faith, gender, etc.? If so, how do you respond?

2) If you were granted with superhuman intelligence and or abilities that had the unfortunate side effect of ending your life in a few days, how would you spend your final hours?

3) If someone you knew repeatedly demonstrated poor hygiene, would you ever broach the subject and tell the person?

4) Who are some of your favorite television characters that originated one one series before being spun off into another?

SPECIAL BONUS QUESTION: What was the name of my first pet, and what was it?

There's no right or wrong, and you can't fail if you answer. Good luck!



Problem Solved

Every day offers challenges, both new and old, but each day ends with the same challenge: what am I going to write? Some nights that problem is easier to solve than others, but perhaps the problem has been eliminated completely with the discovery of this ”Lazy Bloggers Post Generator” I spotted over at Antick Musings. By choosing a few key words and phrases from an assortment of drop-down menus, I can have a new post in seconds. Behold:

Holy Catfish! I just climbed out from under my rock and realized I have not updated this since you last visited... You would not believe I spend all my time in front of a computer. Apologies to my regular readers! Even the little blue ones!

I am swamped with a weightlifting regime, a ticking crocodile, just generally being a doormat to my cats, my day seems to be a litany of stuff and giggles from lunchtime to I run out of alcohol. I am beyond drunk most of the time. It will be fun-fun-fun ‘till they take my T-Bird away.

I won't promise anything to you but I will update you with my nefarious activities as soon as I get a chance. Peace! Unless of course the pool with the cocktail bar is heated!

Wait, that can't be right...let's try that again:

Holy crap! I just got hit on the head and recalled that I have not updated this since Hammertime was in the charts... You would not believe the amount of people that are totally stalking me. I hope they bring chocolate!

I am flat out like a lizard drinking with my brahs, choosing my retirement village, and just generally being a mother to society in general. My day is filled with fluorescent light from the light through yonder window breaks to whenever. I am secretly pregnant, as well you should know.

I swear on the bones of my ancestors to send a missive out on the wire, posthaste. No, really! Or if he morphs into an a$$.

Huh? Now that made even less sense than the first one! At least I got a link in that time. Let's give it one more shot:

I can't believe it! I just thought that I have not updated this since the last week of the last month... You would not believe how good I look after all the plastic surgery. Jealous much? Don't be; it was very painful...

I am recuperating by drinking a lot of water, playing The Sims, and just generally being a coach to the local soccer team. My day lasts forever from 4:55 AM till I fall into bed at midnight. I am so over it. I need a holiday.

I wish one day I will have time to blog again. One day I will find my magic genie! I keep looking, anyway!

Strewth! I guess that's as close as I'm going to get with this thing, though the idea is not without potential. I guess I'll have to stick with my own creativity in the future after all. Sincerest apologies. Cats if you don't.


The Piece

His life had always been a struggle. A lot of his anger stemmed not just from the hardships of poverty, but the ignorance of racism. He was not without his own prejudices, but people like the Irishman up the block really got under his skin. He'd fought hard to be successful, to give his wife and son a better life than the one he had growing up, but time had gotten away from him. His boy, now a man really, spent more time out than home, usually with his new girlfriend. Why hadn't they met her yet? That boy was drifting apart from his parents, and the silence left by his absence was deafening.

Tonight was different, though. As George walked in the front door, he was filled with nervous anticipation, and a burning smell. Was that beans? Again?

“In here, George!” called his wife from the kitchen.

He made his way slowly down the hall, as he had so many nights before. Tonight was a special night, one of those life-changing nights. He remembered the night his father died, and the night he joined the navy. He remembered the night he proposed and the night his wife told him she was pregnant. He remembered their first night in this dilapidated home in Queens, and he expected he'd remember their last night as well, just as he remembered the night they left Harlem.

He watched her waving a newspaper at a smoking pot on the stove. The years had given her as many pounds as it had taken hairs from his head, but she looked lovely in his eyes. Also appealing was an apple pie cooling on the table, certainly a better option that Thursday night's usual meal of fried fish and burnt beans.

“OW!” he yelped as he reached for the pie and a spatula cracked across his knuckles.

“Not until after dinner!” she admonished.

He held his tongue. Any other night, her rebuke would kick off a bout of verbal sparring, shouting not so much for the sake of anger as to break that damned silence. Again, this was a different night, a special night.

“Baby, I think we can go out to dinner tonight,” he boasted, “Maybe I'll take you to that gourmet place you been wanting to try.”

“But you always said it was too expensive; it's not nice to mock me so. Unless...”

He smiled. Fate had indeed forced them to be frugal, but a car accident offered salvation. $3,200.00 didn't seem like much of an insurance settlement at the time, but investing in a dry cleaning business may have been the best possible thing he could have done with the money.

“Profits are through the roof this quarter. Not only are we turning a profit, not only can I pay back the bank loan, but we got enough to move out of this dump! I'm thinking something as far away from the ground as possible; the sky's the limit! How does a deluxe apartment sound?”

She hugged him tight, then broke the embrace and rushed to the drawers. Grabbing a knife, she cut a piece of apple pie and put it on his plate.

Finally!” he said.

Inspirational Hat Tip: Rey.


T.I.L.T. Things I've Learned Thursday XI

Things I've Learned Thursday offers a mix of life lessons, pop culture lessons, and lessons which might only apply to myself...

* The glass of a deli display case is strong enough to withstand the impact of an Arizona iced tea bottle. Those bottles are pretty strong too. On a related note, I think my favorite deli has switched to a thinner brand of paper bags and to pick one up going forward I should probably grip the neck of the tea bottle through the bag, rather than the edge of the bag alone.

* August is “let's tear up all these roads and repave them to justify our budget for next year” month.

* After watching Keanu Reeves play a doctor in Something's Gotta Give, I realized he's the real-life Joey Tribbiani. The way he was spouting medical terminology like “start a drip, 30CCs, prep a line,” etc. was almost exactly the way Matt LeBlanc would portray Joey playing Dr. Drake Ramoray

* Dogs react to fear in different ways. Some might give timid person a playful nip as if to say, “I'm biting you so you aren't afraid of me.” I don't really see the logic in that. If I bit everyone who was afraid of me, there would be consequences and repercussions...

* Dwelling on the worst that can happen is a good way to induce fear. However, sometimes embracing a worst-case-scenario can make what actually happens seem tame and easier to deal with. It’s a delicate balance between caution and courage.

* If you have an old stove, make sure the burners are actually lit so you aren't pumping gas into the kitchen. I came home from work, smelled gas, and realized my mom was boiling pasta without a flame. She hadn't noticed that it had gone out under the large pot. It's a good thing I came home when I did, and that gas companies add that smell, something they weren't doing prior to the explosion of a school in Texas in 1937.

* I was right to be suspicious of “Mr. Natas” in Motherload, and pleasantly surprised to find a boss battle awaiting me at the bottom of those mineshafts.

* Modesty seems to be reserved for those who have nothing to be modest about. If you don't got it, don't flaunt it.

* Isabella Rossellini has a twin sister. Nicholas Brendon also has a twin who doubled for him occasionally on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Aaron Ashmore, who plays Jimmy Olsen on Smallville, is the twin brother of Shawn Ashmore, best known for playing Iceman as well as, interestingly enough, a villain in seasons 1 and 3 of Smallville. There is only one MCF, and that's the way we like it.



PBW: 911

We should never forget the events of September 11, 2001. I certainly won't. I remember hearing radio reports on the way in to work, remember everyone in the office huddled around radios or wandering around in a daze. I remember the frantic people who had loved ones in the city. I remember an e-mail from my ex-girlfriend telling me the husband of one of our former coworkers was among many listed on a website of missing persons. We had attended their wedding a few years prior, and it was surreal to find myself at his memorial service; his body was never found, and he left behind a pregnant wife and a small daughter. Time has a way of healing wounds, as it should, but the memory of those lost should be kept alive.

After finding myself at Eisenhower Park last week for a barbecue that had been canceled due to sporadically bad weather, I made my way to the 911 Memorial, which had always been under construction on prior visits. Between the finished memorial and ominous clouds building in the distance, I captured a good array of images for this week's Photo Blog Wednesday:

”Great harm has been done to us.
We have suffered great loss.

In our grief and anger, we have found our mission and our moment...

America is successful because of the hard work, creativity and enterprise of our people.

This country will define our times and not be defined by them...

We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.

-George W. Bush, quote from 9/21/01 address to congress etched on a plaque by the memorial.