Sunday, August 28, 2011

Come On Irene...!

Glad to hear (or not hear, as the case may be) that Irene didn't cause any major damage to any of you. I had the TV locked on the Weather Channel for the weekend, though I wasn't glued to it 24/7. I do think that the networks were playing it up pretty hard though. Maybe we were expecting damage like the tsunami in Japan or the hurricanes in Florida. Maybe we were hoping for something more than when the same tsunami hit Hawaii. Maybe we were hoping for the monster waves, something like "The Day After Tomorrow" (the one that wipes out the Statue of Liberty).

Regardless, I think it was better to be safe, than sorry, and I think most people were prepared. Hope the flooding doesn't cause any problems for any of you!

On Saturday the Little League team from Montana lost to the same California team that they'd beaten to get into the championship in the first place. I am not a fan of baseball. It ranks lower than just about anything other than the NBA in my book. But this truly was a David vs. Goliath story. The California team plays year-round in its balmy climate, while Montana's team is lucky to get in three months of baseball a year. California has paid coaches, and a coach for damned near each position. Montana's team is coached by a string of volunteers over the years, with no hitting coach or personal trainers. California's players have to "pay to play", generally running hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. The Montana kids have their parents fork out less than a hundred. These are two totally different approaches to Little League.

So there were flashbacks to the "Bad News Bears" (without the drunken manager), or the team from Hickory in "Hoosiers". In the end, the Montana team was soundly defeated, but could hold their heads high. Most bars in the state had the game playing on their TVs, and the entire state pulled together to root for these boys. Will they make it again next year? Probably not. But it doesn't matter. For one afternoon, the boys of Montana made us all proud!
Another thing I watched at some point this week was a wonderful special on the Discovery Channel about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. It will run another episode on Thursday (maybe a couple of episodes). It's remarkable how the area has grown, and to see the architects' renderings (thanks to some incredibly realistic CGI!). This isn't a 9/11 retrospective (we'll be getting plenty of those in the next week or two). This is a just a great story about rebuilding the spirit of America!
Sometimes you just can't "unsee" what you've seen, either visually or in your mind. It's my own fault for clicking links, but once I get started...

It's no secret that I despise Twitter. I've had plenty of people try to get me to start, but I resolve to be the last person on earth to do so. But that doesn't mean that I won't check a friend's timeline from their sidebar if something catches my eye. And that's what I did. As I went down their timeline, I noticed a screenname that both included my state and implied a musical instrument. I had to check it out. Turns out that it's someone I know from town. I used to work with his wife about 20 years ago. They're both close to my age. He's a big guy, fairly bald and is a football ref during the fall. She's short and dumpy, not terribly attractive, and still works for the State in the same department I knew her from in the early 90s. And apparently they're swingers. At least that's the term he used. He posted a picture of his "girlfriend". He mentioned waiting at a bar for his wife to show up with a third for the night--he didn't have a preference if it was a guy or a girl. He posted a picture of him molesting one of the strippers at the "local" strip club (which is actually 60 miles out of town...). And he posted a couple of pictures of his wife's boobs (did I mention she's not terribly attractive?--being nekkid doesn't help, either). It's my own fault. Curiosity killing the cat, and all... Do they make bleach for the mind?
To end on a more positive note...FOOTBALL STARTS THIS WEEKEND!!! Actually, it's already started at the HS level here. Which means the chart with my teams makes its yearly appearance at the top of the sidebar. Note that the Grizzlie's first game is against Tennessee. In years past, I might have made some bets, but after the Griz' season last year, I won't be doing that. I do hope that all of you in TN will cheer them on for me!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meeting Old Friends For the First Time HNT

One of the things that I've enjoyed over the years of doing this are the friends I've made. What made that apparent to me this past weekend was that three of the five people I met are ones that 90% of you wouldn't know. I know, from chats with many of you, that I seem to make a deeper connection with people than most. Names of former bloggers/HNTers that I think everyone should remember are lost on most. (By the same token, I've noticed a number of old-timers on FB share friends from the "old days".) Granted, many of you have only been around HNT for half its existence. There's no reason for you to know them. But I often wonder about how many of the old friendships were superficial for Blogger purposes alone? How many of them have actually endured over these years? How many have vanished into oblivion? Well, let me introduce a couple of them to you, as well as someone you should already know!

Remember the $400 ticket voucher I got from Delta after last year's pool party at BTExpress'? I had to use it by the end of this month, so I looked for someplace/someone I hadn't met yet, and who would have at least a bit of interest in meeting me! My primary visit was to Wichita, to meet up with Redneck Eskimo! We've kept in touch pretty closely over the years, in spite of her closing up her blog. We've threatened to meet a number of times over the years, so this seemed to be pretty natural.

Looking back, I should have done this at some time other than August. It was ungodly hot and humid, though the temps "cooled" for the days I was there--reaching only the mid-90s! We didn't really get out to the touristy oohs and ahs. Too freakin' hot! But we did get to do some things! Chicken fried steak at an incredible Amish restaurant, a full afternoon at the zoo (reinforced my opinion of others' kids...), frozen yogurt, movie, drive around the river, and a bunch of lounging in air-conditioned comfort! And to end the visit, we got to see a complete double rainbow--fitting for leaving the land of Oz!

Knowing her as well as I do, there were honestly no surprises. Other than meeting face to face, it was like we ran around together all the time! And she's as wonderful a friend in person as she's been online! Thanks for the great time, babe!

When I was looking at flights for this trip, and since it was going to be free, I decided to make the most of my possible flights and meet up with whomever I could. Salt Lake City was an option, but I'm not sure I know anyone there. Denver was also an option, but I've done that before (sorry Vixen--I need new faces over there in the list!). Atlanta could have worked, but the layover times weren't long enough. So my first stop on my way home was Memphis. Elvis country. And the home of Crystal and Chris McKnob (not their real name!).

Crystal is the writer of Boobs, Injuries & Dr. Pepper--one of my earliest blog favorites! Her writing was hilarious, covering family, work, and an assortment of local characters. Her story about the night she broke her pussy is epic! She up and got married to Chris, who started a blog of his own. In a bit of blog ugliness ensued after a few years though, she got targeted for a bunch of internet trollness, the likes of which none of you reading has ever had to experience. Eventually, blogging took a back seat to her family and sanity, and she's pretty much quit (though I think our lunch date might have spurred her to come back. I see she posted on Tuesday!).

Lunch was wonderful, as we talked about the old days, her kids, the area (they don't live IN Memphis), and anything else we could squeeze into about 90 minutes. There are only a small handful of bloggers out here I consider outstanding, and I was honored to finally meet one of them!

My final layover took me to Minneapolis, where you can read of my adventures in the post below. I had hoped to meet a couple of different bloggers, but ultimately, the only one who could make it was Lola, from Sex Babble, and her husband Jasper! Again, there was gossip and discussion and talk about HNT. Oh, there was some drinking, and Lola may or may not have gotten a little loopy. I won't say for sure... We certainly didn't have enough time together. In fact, we got kicked out of the place about 45 minutes after they officially closed the doors. Oops! Which was a good thing, since I was running late for boarding my flight! These guys I knew the least about, so I can't really say what I expected from them, but they're cute together! I just wish we'd had a lot more time to talk!

Was it worth the trip? Absolutely! Would I pick a different time of year? Most likely, for a midwest or southeast trip. Where to next? Not sure, though I have some ideas. Portland is high on my list, but I'm open to just about anything. Anyone want to have an OsFest in Vegas this winter?
Second week in a row without a Mystery Guest. Bueller?.....Bueller?.....
Quite a few submissions over at "...the Other HNT" this week. Most definitely NSFW, but don't let that stop you from checking out your fellow HNTers!
After a couple of years of smoke-free skies, most of the state is under red flag warnings. Like hurricane or blizzard warnings, but these mean that conditions are ripe for instant forest fires. It's already a bit hazy around here, but things could get really bad by the weekend...
Just watched the Montana Little League team beat the California LL team to get into the US Championship game! Woohoo! If they win that, they go on to the LL World Series Championship!! Who'da thunk it?

Observations and Happenings from My Trip

Some things that stuck in my mind from the weekend...
  • When Kansas was made a state, someone must have used graph paper to plan the roads. Longest, straightest roads, intersected by perfect right angles. From the air, it looks like they run to infinity. Of course, you can only do that if the ground is as flat as a pancake, and it certainly was! It's no wonder that Dorothy was looking to get out of there as fast as she could!
  • On three of the five planes I was on for this trip, the pilots and first officers could not have possibly been older than 28. Can that possibly be legal???
  • Spent Saturday afternoon at the zoo. It was a cool day--temperature only reaching the mid-90s that day. But that's OK. The humidity at the zoo was about 99% due to all the tropical rainforest types of displays. No poop-flinging monkeys to worry about, but we got dive bombed by a trio of gorgeous pink cockatoos...
  • The MSP terminal will always frustrate me. But I suppose my frustration should be directed at Delta. My flight into MSP on Friday landed at gate F14. The connecting flight left from gate B4 (click it to big it--it could have been worse). By using Google Maps, I estimated the distance from one to the other at approximately 5600 feet. That's over one mile of dodging luggage toting passengers, golf cart drivers, slow walkers and fast walkers. All while looking for a rest room in one of the busiest airport hubs in the country. This is why I try to allow at least a full hour between layovers there!
  • I experienced something in the evenings I've never experienced before. Noisy locusts in the trees. We have an occasional chirp of something, or on some nights, a few crickets, but nothing like this! I'm told that it's the sound of the night. It would drive me bonkers. The sound of the night around here is much different! And much more quiet!
  • Speaking of bugs--I had to drive home for another 90+ miles after arriving back in MT. Since part of my drive took me through some river and creek drainages, the bugs were incredibly thick. At times, it looked like I was driving through a snow storm! Of course, I ran out of wiper fluid early on, so I had to live with bug guts covering my windshield for most of the trip back.
  • I had an unexpected 90-second meeting with someone famous at MSP. We were waiting for the tram (that one-mile trek is partially serviced with a tram). He was sharply dressed in a dark suit, but avoided eye contact with the rest of the passengers. We both got on board and stood by the same pole. I asked him if he was who I thought he was (he was), and we chit-chatted for the 90 second ride. Then we parted ways. I shook the hand of, and shared a pole with, the junior U.S. senator from Minnesota (and darned fine comedian), Senator Al Franken! (no--I didn't get a picture or an autograph. I suck.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Rain, the Park & Other Things HNT

A thousand-point bonus for anyone who recognizes that!

Last week I wasn't around for the start of HNT because I had a gig. I had promised to post some pics, but I procrastinate with the best of them. I will say that it was one of best gigs I've played in some time. We were tight, had an appreciative crowd, and the lightning storm that showed up 15 minutes before we played went away quickly and gave way to real sunlight!

Click 'em to big 'em!

We are a band still in the embryonic stage. We are growing and developing, and are at that point where decisions have to be made. The fact we've made it this far points to one decision, since this was just a summertime project for last year. The looming questions deal with commitments, performances and style. Do we want to play a lot? Do we want to expand the musical style? Where do we want to go with this? It's hard enough to do with a 4-5 piece band, let alone trying to get nine of us to come together. Especially when almost everyone in the band has other musical groups that demand their time. However, some direction has been agreed upon.

We're looking at keeping this thing going for awhile. However, our marketing (which has been non-existent) will need some work. So I think we'll be setting up a FB page, as well as putting together a DVD that can be sent out to prospective clients. To that end, our sound guy sent out a raw recording off of the sound board from last week's gig. My first reaction is that there's some things that need to be cleaned up, but overall, it's not a bad recording!

Since many of you over the years have said they'd like to hear something, here you go! This is what I do. And since you can't just import mp3s into Blogger, I've made it a movie with pictures of some of my previous HNTs. It was the quickest thing I could think of, and it's my first shot at using iMovie (and certainly not the last!). Enjoy!

And for those of you who don't want to put up with all the old half-nekkidness, here's just the audio (I found a different way to handle that...).

No Mystery Guest this week. Sorry!
Lots of people over at "...the Other HNT" this week! Be sure to stop by and check out your fellow HNTers! Something for everyone over there this week, but NSFW, to be sure...
Doctor's appointment this morning. Blood pressure is down, A1c is up (that's OK in this case), blood sugars levels are good, cholesterol has been so good that there was no need to check it this time, weight was even down (which is not to imply that there's not plenty more to lose...). In other words, I'm still as healthy as a diabetic horse! Add that to the eye appointment I had last week that found my eyes were in pretty good shape (for my age--grrr...), the good results from my anal probe in April, and a generally positive mental health, and it looks like I'll be around for awhile! At least until I get hit by a bus or something...
Thought I had my car sold. That fell through, so now I have to actually advertise it. Think I'll try Craigslist first.
Heading out on OsTour '11 on Friday! I'll be meeting up with one of the early day HNTers in Wichita, and also have lunch and dinner dates in my two layovers on my return on Monday! One of whom is a current HNTer!!! Anyone want to join in? Yeah, yeah...there will be pictures!

Monday, August 15, 2011

That's a lotta pr0n!

Google left me a warning across my Gmail tonight, informing me that I was almost out of storage space. Didn't know there was a limit, did you?!? I have used 7253 MB out of 7615 MB of free storage--that works out to 95% of 7 GB of data. I think that's because every picture that I've posted for OHNT ends up in Picasa albums, as well as the original copy taking up room in Gmail.

What to do? What to do? I've opted to purchase an extra 20 GB of storage for the whopping price of $5/year. Which means I've got plenty of storage for even more OHNTs, so keep sending them in!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Excellence in Execution

I did something last night that was undoubtedly the musically geekiest thing I've done in decades. Which you'll have to put up with here if you continue reading. But first, some background...

Marching bands aren't a big thing in Montana. For a number of reasons. Primarily because we can have a foot of snow on the ground by mid-October. No one wants to be marching in that! Secondly, the concept of "competition" doesn't really exist among music educators up here. When HS bands go to district festivals, it's to be adjudicated and given feedback to improve performances. There's never a "top band/choir/jazz band/orchestra" designation. Keeps the performing groups closer to an educational thing, rather than a competitive sports thing. This is not to say that there's not some sort of marching going on. Gotta entertain those football fans at halftime, don'tcha know? But they're very basic moves, and not a great deal of time goes into preparation. Even at the college level here, it's fairly rudimentary. Which makes's mostly Montana kids in the marching bands.

However, this is not the way it is in most of the rest of the country...

Yesterday afternoon/evening I spent five hours at the local theater watching a simulcast of the preliminary round of the Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships. And true to Montana--there were five of us in a 192-seat theater. If you've never watched a drum corps performance, you really should. It's hard to describe it, other than to cast aside any precepts of a halftime show, and ignore anything you might have seen in "Drumline". Top drum corps are a multi-million dollar enterprise, with touring buses, equipment semi-trucks, absolute top of the line musical instruments, uniforms, staff, practice facilities...the list goes on.

My first exposure to drum corps was the day-long drinking parties at my college band director's house watching videos of prior championships. While we didn't try to emulate any of them, we did steal their music. He would transcribe (by ear) the arrangements he really liked. In any case, I was hooked, and the yearly PBS broadcast of the Championships were always a party!

I haven't really kept up with DCI over the past few years, so I was curious about how things changed. I had a mixed reaction, but mostly positive. Such as...
  • MUSIC--These groups have their own staff arrangers, who arrange literally every type of music out there. Last night's show had some Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, and Mozart, just for starters! Throw in some jazz, contemporary classical stuff, classic rock and you end up with quite a mix. None of this is anything you'll hear a pep band play at a basketball game though. Much of this music is difficult while seated, let alone having it memorized while running all over the field! There's actually performance CDs that corps put out of their music over the course of a season. No comment on whether or not I might own one or four of those...
  • MARCHING STYLE--This has changed some. The constant is that you're almost always moving. And no one person has the same drill as the next. Marching sideways, ahead, behind, double-time, half-time, in place--it's all there. There's sometimes a little more 'freestyle' motion than I like too, but when the time comes to conform, it happens in a snap! Also a bit more 'dancing' than I like. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. And there's much more emphasis on using the entire football field, which sometimes requires full-out sprinting! While playing difficult memorized music while running all over the field!
  • CONCEPT--A lot of concept goes right over my head. "The white fabric represents those souls who have fallen..." No--it's a white fabric that's covering up half the color guard. I don't get it... Each corps approaches this differently. Some of it is spectacular. Some of it isn't.
  • DESIGN--This is one area that has changed drastically. Back in the day, shows were designed after considerable hours of pencil-breaking, erasures, failures and fudges. Today, it's all done on computer, and the shows reflect that. Designs and movements that no person could configure one their own. Shows that used to be quite symmetrical are rarely seen. There's constant movement, with maybe a static image on the field for a single count. If you were to follow a single person through an entire show, you'd be amazed at what routes they end up taking! And I'd say that at least 95% of what is seen on the field is scripted. Arm movements, head movements, placement of the feet, direction of where you're playing...lots to think about. While playing difficult memorized music while running all over the field!
  • DRILL--This is where the execution comes in. You cannot believe the precision that is needed to make the design come to life. While playing difficult memorized music while running all over the field! There's YouTube video clips of what happens when that precision isn't there. Particularly when you've got a line of musicians marching backwards. If someone has been bumped, or gone down, the next 6 or 7 players don't stand a chance of staying on their feet! Lines passing through each other, with color guard flags or rifles flipping around you, and an occasional field judge getting in the way--everything has to be absolutely precise! Of course, these people spend at least 12 hours/day on the field in rehearsals and preparations. And when final standing scores come down to 1/10ths of points out of 100 points, you'd better be as close to perfect as possible!
  • BRASS--Back in the day, they used modified bugles with only two valves (opposed to three on standard brass instruments, or none on a true bugle). It appears now that the bugles have been replaced by three-valve instruments. No trombone slides, but a marching equivalent with valves. The brass playing is generally outstanding. Especially considering that no players are older than 22! As the players have gotten better, their arrangers are constantly writing music to test their limits. While playing difficult memorized music while running all over the field!
  • COLOR GUARD--This is one of the areas where I've been disappointed. I could watch a color guard spin their flags or toss their rifles all day. Unfortunately, at some point they were allowed to also include what can only be described as modern dance--another thing I'll never understand. Depending on the theme and the concept, there might be 2-3 "dancers" running all over the field with what appears to have nothing to do with the music. Almost like this whole production was somehow put together to support only them. I hate it. It's unnecessary. And frankly is a FAIL. What's worse is when half of the color guard abandons their props and joins in on the "action". Then they con some of the brass players to help out. Ugh... Keep the guard on the flags, rifles, sabres, poles and other props please!
  • WOODWINDS--There are none! Though, I can almost sense the day that saxes might be allowed. Which would be a shame.
  • PERCUSSION--Since the "D" in DCI stands for 'drums', I should mention them! Actually, the big change is that rather than keeping the snares in one line at all times, they actually move away from each other a lot. And there's a great deal more 'running' by the entire section than I ever remember. Also part of the percussion is the "pit". These are the mallet players who are stationary on the sidelines, in front of the drum major. Back in the day, they had to haul them around on the field, but since the rules changed, the pit's function has too. Rather than carrying small marching xylophones and bells and tympani around, they now play full-sized marimbas, chimes, cymbals, bass drums. These musicians work just as hard as the on-field members, even though they're not moving as much. There's a dozen or more players, with half of them playing marimbas, usually in unison. And generally faster than God ever intended the marimba to be played! It's really quite scary how musically talented these kids are! The biggest disappointment was that electronics are now allowed in the pit. So almost every corps has a synthesizer player that will play sound effects, samples, or actual piano. A couple of corps had a drum set player (seems redundant), and one even had an electric stand-up bass! Next thing you know, they'll start using a string section...
So there you have it. If you've read this far, you're as geeky as I am! One thing I hadn't realized is that Indianapolis has been the home for the World Championships for 8 years now, and will continue into the foreseeable future. Methinks that I might have to start making my plans for DCI '12! Mere and Maggie--are you listening?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Rumors of our demise have
been greatly exaggerated!" HNT

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
~~E. M. Forster

Check back on Thursday afternoon to find out who's life has been let go!
Of course, the Mystery Guest this week is Barefoot Dreamer! You should probably stop by and say hi!

Some lovely pictures over at "...the Other HNT" this week (as usual!). Stop by and leave your fellow HNTers some comment lovin'! As always...NSFW.
Things around here are being autoposted today, as the soul band is playing for the after-work beer, food and music thing that we have on Wednesdays in the park, and I won't be online until well after HNT goes up. It's been almost 4 years since I've last done one of these. It was the last regular gig for the rock band before we went on indefinite hiatus. Before that we were yearly regulars. It'll be interesting to see how things have changed (or not). I'll be sure to get some pictures up as soon as I can!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Hey, hey, we're the Monkees!

Way back in the mid-70s, when I was an impressionable teen, six of us crammed into the cab of Tammie's cousin's pickup truck, hid some beer in the bed, and went to the Ski-Hi drive-in for their end of summer "Planet of the Apes" marathon (only the first four of the five). I don't recall a great deal from the evening, let alone actually watching the movies. I'd seen the first two already, probably the third, and possibly the fourth. I don't think the fifth had been out long enough, but it was a terrible movie anyway. Surprisingly, I don't recall whom I was "with", either. Beyond me, Tammie and her cousin (male), I can't, for the life of me, remember who the other three were. Or who I was paired with. Possibly Tammie, but that would have been highly improbable. I'm pretty sure it wasn't the girl that would have been my girlfriend at the time--that wouldn't have been her thing. All I do remember is staying through the entire run, and not watching much of the movies, and enjoying the evening (wink, wink, nod, nod).

But none of that has anything to do with this post. Movie makers have been trying to get the look of monkeys by non-monkeys for ages. In "The Jungle Book", all it apparently took to fool the orangutans was a couple of coconut halves tied to your face and a grassy skirt.

Interestingly enough, that same sort of look worked for the original "Apes" movies, as the actors' mouths and their ape mouths didn't really work well together. And while their movements didn't really mimic simian movements, they sort of became what we expected of human "monkeys/apes/gorillas" in the movies. Thank you Roddy McDowall.

When the 2001 version of "Planet of the Apes" came out, Hollywood's abilities (and that whole computer-generated image thing) and improved immensely. Faces moved more realistically, mouths actually looked like they were forming the words being spoken, and the body movements seemed to be much more "ape-like". But still, no one could doubt that you were watching a human in a monkey suit--not a highly trained ape. Close, but no bananas. So to speak.

Now, the newest "Apes" has hit the big screen. In my effort to get out of the apartment more, I went to see it (I promise that my blog isn't going to become a movie review blog!). I really hadn't read up on much of the production, but I think I read somewhere that all the simians were CGI-ed. And for all the years of trying to get humans to look like a monkey, I think they went too far the other way. While the special effects are quite good, the apes all appeared too human. I can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it's because we're not used to seeing a wide range of subtle human expressions showing on the face of a chimp. Maybe it's the eyes (I'm positive on this, actually). While the apes were created by computer, there was first a human who was filmed with all the little dots on his face for the computer to capture for reference. Perhaps too well. What I felt I was looking at wasn't so much a chimpanzee, but closer to a Neanderthal or earlier human-ish creature. Not ape, not human.

As for the story--eh... It's interesting to see Caeser (the main chimpanzee) as he starts to realize his leadership abilities and forming plans. It's fun to see what references are made to the original movies (there's a direct and complete rip-off from the original's script...even more blatant and obvious than the non-existent Harrison Ford quote from last week's movie). I counted a handful of direct nods to the earlier movies. I'm sure that most of them will end up in IMDB's "trivia" section for this film.

Will I go again? Doubtful. But at least I kept my streak of watching every "Apes" film at the theater. "Star Wars" would be the only other series I can say that about. Not "Indiana Jones". Not "Nightmare on Elm Street". Not even "Star Trek". Now I have to figure out if I want to spend the money to go back and catch Olivia Wilde again. :-)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Social Butterfly HNT

Life is funny as you get older. I spent years of my life "doing" things. Concerts, social events, public celebrations--I would be there. People recognized me from a variety of places. From my stint as the manager of the local independent CD store, or as 'that guy' in the symphony, or the college band director, or in 'that rock band'. My name was rarely known, but I have a face that sort of burns its image into the mind. Granted, the reason I was at these things was either because it was a gig, or because there was beer drinking to be done! Or both, if I was lucky!

These days, I don't socialize anywhere near as much. Rachel, my beer drinkin' buddy, has been gone for almost two years. As have all of my other beer drinkin' girls. The carefree beer drinking days are no more, anyway. The rock band is, for all intents and purposes, disbanded. The symphony folks aren't really anyone I'd want to spend a great deal of time with outside of rehearsals/performances. I'll go out for special things, but I find that I'm much more content to stay in and spend my time with you interwebz people. It's not that I don't enjoy myself when I go out--I do. But frankly, the desire just isn't there. And that's OK.

But now that August has arrived, I'm finding myself doing all sorts of things! Started out with dinner/beer last week with some HS classmates. In particular because the one in the orange blouse was visiting from Vegas. It was sort of a diverse group of us, with her as the common denominator. We had a great time!

Then last night, I had dinner with my first serious college girlfriend. The one that I notched many "firsts" with, if you know what I mean... She was in the state, and passing through, so we worked out a dinner date. This is the third time we've seen each other in 32 years, though the first time was her wedding (still happily married!), so I didn't get to say more than a couple of words to her then. As soon as we sat down, it was like no time had passed. We gave each other shit all through dinner--just like the old days! This visit was WAY to short, but she had to get on the road, and I had a rehearsal.

So what does the rest of the month hold?
  • My mother's mother's sister's granddaughter (aka 'third cousin') and her family will be in town for a HS reunion. Plan on drinks together at least one night...
  • The soul band plays for the weekly after-work party downtown next week.
  • The friend who rolled her car last month is looking to move to town as soon as she can, so between apt. hunting and selling her my car, we've been out and about quite a bit.
  • I'm hopping on a plane to visit someone in less than 3 weeks. Heading someplace where it's 90° by 10 AM. What am I thinking???
  • Add in some layover time in MEM and MSP, and I'm hoping to meet some others!
  • Labor Day weekend party out at the lake with the sisters, family and lots of friends.
Is this a renewed phase for me? Am I going to start socializing again? Hard to say. I just might. However, I can't write about it anymore. I have a poker party I was invited to tonight, and I have to get this ready to autopost!

"Everyone is like a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody."

Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.

One part of this Mystery Guest's 'dark side' will stay unshown--she's choosing not to reveal this week!

Be sure to check out "...the Other HNT" for some naughty goodness! NSFW, as usual, but don't let that stop you from leaving some comments. Your fellow HNTers always appreciate it!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Western & Sci Fi -- it's like chocolate and beer!

Went to see "Cowboys & Aliens" on Sunday afternoon. I don't know what I expected going in, but the movie was very good. It's interesting to think about--we tend to think that aliens showed up en masse after the Roswell incident. Or that they were a part of ancient civilizations. Why should it be so weird that aliens were part of the old west, as well?

I won't go into the story line, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before. Just retold in an interesting way. The casting was interesting as well. The central characters were played by Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. I don't recall Ford playing second banana to anyone since the Star Wars days. But there's no question that the story is built around Craig. Without giving anything away, he reminded me of Clint Eastwood in "The Outlaw Josey Wales"--a mystery man with a gun. Ford, on the other hand, played a heavy in this one, and how often does that happen? He softens up through the movie, but he's not the lovable leading man we've come to expect.

Of course, you have to have a strong female in all this, and that falls to Olivia Wilde. Olivia Wilde with a six-shooter strapped to her hip. A girl and her gun--oh, yeah! There's a bit of mystery with her too, but who cares? It's Olivia Wilde! And yes, there's a scene of Olivia Wilde buck-nekkid--not a bad thing at all. Nothing to be seen, of course, but there's about 5-10 seconds where you're hoping the camera pans around or something. Of course, the townsfolk AND the Indians (yep, there's Indians too!) all got an eyeful! Probably multiple takes, at that...

As for the aliens? Steven Spielberg has found a new alien that looks a whole lot more badass than E.T. or the little ones from "Close Encounters"! They're big and fast and mean. Interestingly, back a hundred fifty years ago, alien abductions looked more like calf roping. Didn't they have tractor beams or something like that?

As for the sci-fi part of things, there were all the bells and whistles that you'd expect. As a western, it stayed true to formula. At least as true as you could be when fighting aliens flying at you shooting at you!

On a final note--I was expecting Ford to say his "I have a bad feeling about this" line, but I didn't hear it. If it's in there, it passed me by. Might have to consider going back to see it again, just to see if it's in there. And to get another look at Olivia Wilde...