Thursday, May 31, 2007

I used to be Nerd-Core - Spiderman 3 review

So, I finally saw Spiderman 3 today. It's been one of those things. I planned to see it opening night, but Slick's parents were visiting. Then Slick admitted to just wanting to see it on DvD. One thing lead to another and I finally see it nearly a month late. I'm not sure when I stopped being Nerd-Core, but it happened. At least I got to use my free movie pass.

The other issue was that I began to hear little tid-bits about the film and wasn't all that excited. My concerns were unfortunately justified. Spiderman 2 ranks as one of the best comic book superhero films of all time. Heck, it's a kick-ass movie no matter what films you put it against. I tried really hard not to hold S3 to the same standards. I really, really wanted to like S3, but it was just OK. Don't get me wrong. It's not like it was bad. I've seen a lot of bad comic book movies. It just didn't rank up there with the recent quality of such films as Spiderman 2, Superman Returns, X2 or Batman Begins. Instead, it stands shoulder to shoulder with X3, Fantastic Four and the Hulk as having lots of crunchy superhero goodness surrounded by a lot of wasted potential. Thankfully, that's still a lot better than the likes of Spawn, The Punisher, most of the Batman movies and Superman 4: The Quest for Peace!

But enough babbling, time for some specific thoughts about the movie.

- Peter & MJ: Success! The heart of Spiderman has always been in the struggles of his secret identity. Peter is the real staying power. The collapse of their relationship during the course of the film was one of the few things that was really well done. The original kiss with MJ in the rain is one of the hottest kisses in movie history. The Gwen kiss that mirrored it was like a dagger in my heart. It was painful! I didn't like seeing it happen, but it was spot-on.

- Spider Sense: WTF? There were numerous times when Spidy Sense was literally forgotten. In the first 2 movies it was so well done. Yet here, Peter gets caught completely unaware on several occasions including the first Green Goblin attack.

- Harry/Green Goblin 2: Arrgghhh! I blame the glut of villains for the failures in this story-line. The character setup was good. I'm even OK with the amnesia. The use of Harry as an outlet for Peter's anger was spot on. But, this plot-line just fizzled when Harry gets advice from his butler. I thought to myself, "What we have here is the evil Alfred Pennyworth from the mirror universe." It sucked ass. And while I appreciate the redemptive path of the character, it just ended up being a headache. Sad really.

- Sandman: So very, very close... This guy should have been the villain for the whole movie. Just like Harry's plot-line, the Sandman plot-line was overwhelmed by the need to introduce Venom. He's the perfect tragic villain. His "selfless" criminality was a perfect mirror for Black-Suit Spiderman's "selfish" justice. What a great morality play this could have been. Oh how I wished that Peter could have "killed" Sandman as the penultimate fight scene. It could have been the thing that re-awakens Peter. This would have lead up to the final fight: Peter and the suit fighting in the tower. Imagine Eddie becoming Venom as the cliff-hanger to end the movie. That I would have saved for Spiderman 4.

- Venom: I liked Eddie Brock. I hated Venom. So much wasted potential. The story-line of their rivalry was good. Eddie's exposure as a fraud was great. The way Eddie asked God to kill Peter Parker was chilling. That's foreplay. The rest was anti-climatic. Thus the need to make the Venom part a sequel. In the comic books, Venom hounds Peter for weeks before their big confrontation. Imagine an entire movie where Venom poses as Spiderman making him look like a villain. Imaging Venom terrorizing MJ. Imaging Eddie showing up at all of Peter's favorite haunts just to show him how easy it would be to destroy his life. Imaging Peter knowing that he can't beat his enemy. Imaging the last fight being him going to his certain death simply to protect all the people he cares about. This could have been Spiderman 4. Instead, Venom's dead and part of me is wondering if the franchise is also finished.

Conclusions: During the last two Spiderman movies I was on the edge of my seat. BUT this time, I looked at my watch twice. Twice! It tried to do too much. It was too long (at 2 hours 20 minutes) and needed to be longer to make everything work. Is it worth renting? Depends. Are you a fan? If so, yes. Will I own it? Yes. It's worth watching again for the crunchy goodness I did like. OK, so maybe I'm still mostly-nerd.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dad may have a point

Before I begin this post, I'd like to thank my wife for putting up with my last posting. It painted her as being tad hysterical. Thankfully, she also thought it was funny. It was also "mostly" accurate. But I digress...

This post is an admission that my father may be kinda, sorta right about carbs and refined foods.

My father began his little Atkins diet experiment a few years ago. He's been both successful and unsuccessful. It's a testament to the effectiveness of Atkins, but also a reminder of the importance of exercise! (Dad, did you walk today?)

As you know from previous posts, Slick and I have been working hard over the last few months to create a long-term nutrition plan and to lose weight in the here and now. I find my meals to be more like dad's than previously expected. In other words, Dad's approach isn't bad. I don't like the extreme measures it and some of these other diets require, but the basic principle is there. That's why we've nearly abolished empty carbs and processed foods from the house. It all goes back to that Harvard Food Pyramid.

Anyway, Dad hates when I talk about him online, but he loves being right...mostly right!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Attack of the Killer Bumble Bee

This afternoon we had a run in with a dangerous bumble bee! We had just gotten back on the highway after a brief pit-stop at the North Carolina Welcome Center. The dog "the Moose" was settling down in his spot on the folded down back seats. I had just pegged the cruise control at 75mph and was thinking, praying really, about the upcoming traffic around Lake Norman.

Suddenly, Slick and the Moose noticed something buzzing around over the luggage. It was...dun dun dun...a bubble bee. The Moose watched intently. Slick made concerned remarks. Then it happened, she warned the dog off.

Flashback: For years, Slick's been teaching our 50 lb black lab/cocker spaniel mix to hunt flies. One day he turned his attention to a yellow jacket. The result of this ill-fated food-chain experiment was me holding him down with my knee to pull a stinger out of his lip. Since then he's avoided bees, wasps, yellow jackets and all those "stingy things." Slick actively warns him off of these. When she does he literally jumps back. See where this is going?

Back to the Present: So there I am, cruising along at 75mph with the windows open and the indigo girls blaring when I hear Slick tell the dog "No!" The Moose realizes that his "mommy" has just saved him from biting one of them "stingy things." Pandemonium ensues as the dog tries to escape the evil, twisted, blood-thirsty bumble bee. (All this while I'm still cruising at 75mph.) Slick is insisting that I pull over. I'm thinking about the next exit.

Now, there are few places in a packed 05' Ford Escape for a 50lb dog to go to escape a rabid bumble bee. It was roughly when I got swatted in the face with his tail that I realized that this could, in fact, be a teeny-weeny problem. Perhaps Slick's request to pull over isn't a bad one.

Wait, it gets interesting...

So, I'm trying to find a place to pull over. That's right, I'm going to have to use the berm. In the meantime, Slick and the dog are huddled together in terror against her seat. I'm getting a play-by-play of the bee's location.

"the bee is over the cooler." Long straight-away with plenty of berm. Check!
"the bee is over the dog's bag." Hazard lights activated. Check!
"The bee just flew under your seat." Applying breaks. Check!*
"The bee is at your feet." Stop. Park. Emergency break. Check!
"I can't see the bee!" Bee lands on the outside of my left ankle. Check!**
"Where's the bee?" Rear View Mirror. Open door. Wait for bee to fly out door. Check!
"Is it gone?" Put car in drive. Check rear view mirror. Apply gas. Reset iPod. Check!

It's at this moment when I realize that it really was just a "big" stupid honey bee that almost killed me, my wife and my stupid dog! Oh and traffic at Lake Norman...yeah, it was fine!

* It's during these nano-seconds that I'm reminded that my father is horribly allergic to bees. But then, I've been stung a lot with no problems. But wait, didn't I read somewhere that people can develop allergies to bees? Wouldn't it be just my luck for this to be the moment. Thankfully, the words of Douglas Adams pops into my head "Don't Panic!" After all, there's a towel in the car. I'll be fine!

** On the other hand, maybe Douglas Adams was full of crap! Where are my sun-glasses?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Not gonna do it

My sister commented on my last post with this "tag" thing. I've looked at the rules and am not the least bit interested in participating. To avoid being called a complete spoil-sport, I'll go ahead and list some of the reasons why I blog:
  • This is a journal of sorts. Things have been rough with the CFS/Fibro and I wanted a productive outlet.
  • My brain is constantly on the move, even when I feel like crap. This has been serving as an channel for that energy.
  • Keeps my father from constantly asking me "what's going on?"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Don't Fence Me In

As the doom-sayers, bigots, hypocrites and nationalistic stupid-heads rush to build a fence around this country, please keep the following in mind.

Border fence a dead end for wildlife?

And while we are on the subject of protecting our nation versus the environment, why is it that our government expounds on anti-monopolies, anti-socialism, and free-market development, but can't possibly raise fuel-economy standards because it would hurt the big-three automakers. Hello?!? Do you remember the 80's when we were told that it was un-American to buy anything but American cars? Well, new plan! Until our car companies shape up, don't buy American! SIGH!!!

And since even the evil empire known as Walmart is experimenting with a sustainability program, let's talk about our own homes. Have you changed your light bulbs yet? I haven't, but I'm researching the best bulb choices. To make sure you aren't getting lighting you'll hate, make sure to buy "soft white" CFLs. Regular ones do not have a sufficient light spectrum for things like reading or color coordinating your clothing.

I've tried to be a nice little moderate. I've tried to see both sides of the issues. Well, screw it! I'm tired of lying to myself. From now on, I'm a tree-huggin' peace-nick on a mission from God to tell all the Right-wingers that they backed the wrong team!

Privative screw-heads!

Friday, May 18, 2007


Perhaps I'm overly obsessive about the whole "got rid of cable" thing, but here we go again.

My best friend, Cainam (his screen name) pointed out (with a 2x4) that I could see Heroes on In fact, they have every episode with "limited" commercial interruption. Well, I dropped cable the day before the new season started so I was totally excited! Heroes was/is my favorite show (the new Battle Star Galactica is a close second.) But I digress...

It streamed perfectly and I was completely sucked in to the new plot-line. This really gives me hope for online content. If only someone could find a way for me to watch the Eagles, Phillies and Sixers for a "reasonable" price...cold day in hell...but I can dream.

Anyway, if you are a fan of Heroes or have never seen it but like good drama with super powers, check that link out. And thanks Cainam!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fibromyalgia Diet

My mother-in-law sent me an article from her local paper about a person who changed her diet in response to fibro. While there's still some question as to if I have Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or both) a Fibromyalgic diet is worth further investigation.

If you've been following along with my blogg, I've devoted more than one post to the subject of healthy eating. Let's see how a typical Fibromyalgia diet stacks up with my current efforts. Below are some key points taken from a different article called The Fibromyalgia Diet: Eating for a Better Quality of life. To sum it up quickly, the article suggests:

Remove these completely from your diet -
I've listed my current actions in italics next to the topic

Chocolate - I've greatly reduced my chocolate intake and moderating it's consumption.
Carbonated Beverages -
Don't drink any
Coffee -
I love my morning cappuccino, but maybe I should avoid having more.
Alcohol. -
Don't drink hard liquor. I have, at most, one glass of wine or a beer a week.

1. High fat dairy foods - I don't have any high fat dairy foods. Skim milk & non-fat yogurt only.
2. White sugar and white flour - I've been cutting back on sugar and switching to whole grains.
3. Fried foods - Agreed. I make a lightly fried healthy stir fry for dinner. But nothing beyond that.
4. Preservatives, junk food, and salt - I already try to limit my sodium intake. Junk food is JUNK!
5. Red meat - One dinner per week at most.
6. Coffee and caffeinated teas - Reduce? Sure. Avoid? No.
7. Colas, soda pop, and carbonated beverages - No problem.
8. Liquid with your meals - Don't understand this one.
9. Alcoholic beverages - See earlier comments.
10. All forms of tobacco - I can count on 1 hand the things I've smoked. They were all at bachelor parties.
11. Prolonged periods of direct sun exposure - With my fair problem.
12. Nutrasweet and saccharine - Interesting. I've really been cutting back on the sugar. Using splenda to help.

As part of the balanced nutrition plan Slick and I are following, we are already doing most of this. Moving forward, I'll be mindful of the possible connections between these foods and my condition. There are so many unproven theories about causes and treatments for Fibro & CFS that any reasonable suggestion needs to be considered. The pain and food diaries make a lot of sense. Just have to be cautious to determine the validity of a connection. Practical use of science to help with an unpredictable condition. We'll see.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Living Without Cable - Two Weeks Later

Of all the life-changes Slick and I are making, getting rid of cable TV has been the most reluctant adjustment. It was a drain on the wallets that we really didn't need. So, how am I doing so far? Great. No, really! I'm beginning to wonder if we'll ever go back. Right now, I'm watching a free download of this Sunday's Meet the Press. (You can too via iTunes or Democracy Player) Last night, Slick and I watched Night at the Museum from Netflix. I still miss the really exciting sounding NBA playoffs. I think if it weren't for sports, I could totally live like this.

Something else. NetFlix has a new area of free watch now movies on my computer. I get to see 18 hours a month.

Saving Star Wars

Recently, I was rummaging around when I saw that George Lucas Announces Two More Star Wars Films. The first posted comment was "For the love of God, no." The link where George Lucas says Empire Strikes Back was the worst Star Wars movie was even more disturbing.

Return Balance to the Force
All the prequel episodes are done. How do we salvage the franchise for ourselves? Moving forward, we can return balance to the force by following some simple guidelines.

#1. Ignore Lucas.
For years, if a writer or game-maker wanted to do anything Star Wars, they had to follow an approval process. Everything with the Star Wars/Lucas Arts brand was part of the Lore. So, as a fan, if you read a book or played a game you were learning Star Wars history. It's unfortunate that Lucas didn't have the same oversight for himself. We can't change history (even if Lucas can edit the films.) We can, however, ignore everything that Lucas says or does from this time forward.

#2. Revision History
By the same token we can rewrite Star War in our minds. For centuries Christians have perfected the art of selected reading and interpretation of the of the bible. Why can't we apply the same rules to the Star Wars franchise? Ex: Medicloriens can be treated not as a cause, but an effect. OR we can ignore them all together.

#3. How to enjoy a complete Star Wars experience.
I want to enjoy Star Wars in it's entirety. How do I do it? Well, that's not easy. But you shouldn't have to trim back down to the original 3 movies. There's more out there. Here's my basic list (in chronological order.)

The Short Version:
The number in front is my rankings from best to worst. I couldn't rank Phantom Menace any lower!

(10) Episode #1: Phantom Menace: Read a synopsis and fast forward to the Battle for Naboo.
(9) Episode #2: Attack of the Clones: Yeah, you'll need to watch it or miss out on so many little things.
(4) Star Wars: Clone Wars: Animated series that SAVED the prequels for me!
(7) Episode #3: Revenge of the Sith: Anakin throws a tantrum.
(8) Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (audio book version) Great epilogue to Revenge.
(3) Episode #4: A New Hope: My love of SciFi starts here
(1) Episode #5: Empire Strikes Back: "Luke, I am your father!"
(2) Episode #6: Return of the Jedi: The Skywalkers bring balance to the force.
(6) The Thrawn Trilogy: (Books) The early years of the New Republic
(5) Dark Empire: (Graphic Novel) Luke joins the Dark Side

The Long Version

(10) Episode #1: Phantom Menace
I personally think there's no reason to watch 3/4 of this movie. There are a lot of little nuggets of the Star Wars universe here, but not worth 2 hours of your time.

Phantom Menace really hurts the franchise until the Battle of Naboo. The fight scene with Darth Maul is both exhilarating and a great glimpse into the life of Obi-Wan. The ending makes you excited for the next one. Conclusion: Pop it in the DvD-player and have it on while you fold laundry or play on the computer.

(9) Episode #2: Attack of the Clones.
I really wanted to smack Lucas for this title. There's so much of this film that is just bad. Yet I find myself sucked in by a lot of the little details: Obi-Wan as a detective. The scene with Yoda teaching the "Younglings." The fight with Yoda vs Count Dooku was a theatrical moment for me. Anakin's outburst at the death of his mother is the single-most important moment of this film. Ignore everything else he does!

(4) Star Wars: The Clone Wars
On my list of best Star Wars stuff, this animated series for Cartoon Network is a close 4th behind the original movie. I learned to like Anakin Skywalker here. General Greivous came to life here. The opening sequence in Episode #3 rocks because of this series.

(7) Episode #3: Revenge of the Sith
In spite of Lucas' repeated efforts to ruin this movie, it was saved by animate series. Palpatine is a bad-ass. Special Order 66 was perfect. I thought that Anakin's conversion wasn't well-scripted and the Frankenstein homage at the end sucked ass, but otherwise this movie found it's way into my required Star Wars list.

(8) Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (audio book version)
Yes, I said audio book! Want to know how the clean-up happened? Want to know more about Vader's transformation into the bad-ass you meet in A New Hope. The audio book version of this book written by James Luceno really adds something of an epilogue to the prequel movies.

(3) Episode #4: A New Hope
I was 4 years old. We were camping. It was raining. We went to the movies. I sat on my father's lap. Life-altering event? Hell yeah. Sometimes I think my dad regrets it.

(1) Episode #5: Empire Strikes Back
"Luke, I am your father." 'Nuff said!

(2) Episode #6: Return of the Jedi
While Empire was the best and New Hope was my first, Jedi was my favorite. The opening sequence with Luke going Jedi all over the place was awsome. The huge space battle at the end rocked! The moment when the Emperor shows Luke that the whole thing has been an elaborate trap still sends shivers down my spine.

(6) The Thrawn Trilogy
Timothy Zahn wrote these gems back in the early 90's and a huge collection of pretenders followed. This series has been a fan pick for the plot for follow-up movies since then. Here we watch as Luke & Leia begin the work of building the New Republic. More info

(5) Dark Empire
Graphic Novel series produced by Dark Horse comics. The Emperor is back and it looks like he's turned Luke to the dark side. Or has he? More info

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Stereo used to be cool - remember WMMR's Headphone's Only night?

I've been going through my CD collection converting stuff to play on my iPod. Now, I love my iPod. I enjoy getting iTunes gift cards for Christmas. I love experiencing new music, but lately I feel like there's something missing.

As a kid who grew up in Philly during the 80's, I appreciate good "headphone" music. See, 93.3 WMMR had late night "show" called the "Headphones Only" show. They would play the best classic rock. See, a lot of "older" rock really experimented with stereo (this is before THX and 5.1 sound.) The coolest part was the separation of instruments and effects. Listen to a classic rock album like Pink Floyd's The Wall and you'll know what I'm talking about. Newly recorded stuff, especially stuff formated for the computer-age has really lost something here.

So, turn off that Idol-crap, take out your old CD's or your old Vinyl, plug in a really good set of headphones and go to town with some Floyd or my wife's favorite, Led Zep.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Claiming a Life of Simplicity: Actions on Health

For me, healthy living has become more than just the "right" way, but a necessity. Daily life-stress factors and poor health are major triggers for my CFS. A healthy diet, moderate exercise, and good sleep (see that last post) are essential for me if I ever hope to achieve some sense of normalcy in my life. That said, we all need to get better at living healthier more simply lives.

I've come to realize that healthy living requires three key elements: Time, exercise & good nutrition.

Time is the biggest problem for most people. But, if you truly want to claim a life of simplicity, you need to really look at your priorities and reshape your schedule to give more time to the important stuff, like your health.

Exercise: For me exercise is a challenge because too much can be worse for me than too little. Everything I read suggests that we should all (at the very least) walk 30 minutes a day. Eventually, some additional cardio and/or anaerobic exercise are important too.

Nutrition: Keli and I are currently using 3 sources to help us with our nutrition.
  • The Harvard School of Public Health Food Pyramid is great. We first found this pyramid in Keli's cooking light magazine. It focuses on whole grains, vegetables and exercise.
  • Cooking Light Magazine. One of the biggest problems I have with eating better is the "bleh" factor. The recipes in this magazine are great.
  • Weight Watchers Points. Their points system is an excellent way to use the info in the Harvard Pyramid to deal with portion control.
OK, admittedly this doesn't look "simple." The shift to having an exercise routine and eating better can be a challenge, but the results are about rejecting the over-indulgent, fast-food eating, fad-dieting insanity that is anything but simple. In the end, this is really simple: exercise & eat balanced, portion-controlled meals.

Anyway, that's all for now.

Good Sleep Hygiene

OK, so about 2 weeks ago my inability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get restful sleep increased significantly. Even with the Lunesta, I often wondered why I even bothered to climb into bed. A few days ago the next pain and muscle aches went into full swing. Bleh!

Anyway, I've been reading this book by Fred Friedberg (A psychologist and a CFS sufferer.) He devoted a full third of his book to relaxation therapy and developing a pre-bed wind-down routine. The CDC also recommends good sleep hygiene and a wind-down routine. This all fits with the advice of my doctor. So, I've been working on one. Last night was the 3rd night of my little experiment. I took my Lunesta and then I spent a full hour listening to my iPod in the dark in the TV room. I started with a 15 minute chapter of a Batman series in the style of those old radio shows. Next I listed to 30 minutes of (Slick's) Enya music. I finished with 15 minutes of a meditation podcast. I woke up 1 time last night. This morning I woke up more refreshed than I have in months. I plan to make this (and the other recommendations) part of my daily routine. I'll keep you posted on it's effects.

CDC - CFS Treatment

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sleepless night rant

Two really hot-button topics have been in the news lately: Abortion Rights and Gay Marriage.

I am neither gay nor am I a woman. So, I tread lightly on both topics. Foolishly, in my half-asleep, recently medicated (for said sleep) frame of mind, I find myself putting a few of these thoughts to print.

It pains me that there are many good people on both sides of these issues that have prayerfully concluded that they are right and that those on the other side are the enemy. I have worked hard to look past my own viewpoint and started to try to understand the debate(s) from both sides.

Is abortion sin? As a Lutheran, I'd rather ask, what part of our lives are not devoid of sin? How do we escape it by condemning a woman for making the most difficult choice of her life? I started to ask myself, "could both sides be right?" Could abortion be fundamentally evil while at the same time a law preventing a woman from controlling that choice also be fundamentally evil? Then what? Are we left with a scenario without winners? Yes, I believe so. For me, there is only one choice: I must support a woman's right to choose and I must help to usher in a world where women never have to be faced with that horrible choice in the first place.

Is homosexuality a sin? As a Lutheran, I'd rather ask, what part of our lives are not devoid of sin? Is sex without commitment, equality and love a sin? Yes, and it doesn't matter what kind it is. But then, what about love? If two people, after prayerful consideration find themselves in love and willing to commit to each other always and forever, how can we call that evil? Again, it's too easy to ignore the faith, the love, the lives of the "enemy" in this debate. And Marriage, who has done more to tarnish the sanctity of marriage? A gay couple who's been together for 18 years wanting a religious blessing OR Britney Spears short-lived, highly public farce?

I don't have the answers here. There must be a way to say, "Love one another as Christ has loved you." There must be a way to embrace our similarities and stop focusing on our differences. We are all lost, broken, people living far from home.

OK, back to sleep!