Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

03/30/08: Random stuff:

  • Today is the fifth anniversary of Kisu joining our family. We couldn't be happier, except when she's stealing the blankets on those cold winter mornings! Happy Adoption Day, pumpkin!.

  • Stephie has another piece in the Alliance of Fine Art's Best of the Best show, this year at the Peabody Estate in Oak Brook. Check the links in the box above for more info, and directions if you want to go see the exhibit. The reception and award presentation will be Sunday, May 18, 2008.

  • We enjoy live music, and we're right in the middle of three concerts in a little over two weeks. A couple weeks ago we went to the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre in Arlington Heights to see Hothouse Flowers. The last time we saw them was an acoustic show at the House of Blues, and the crowd was so noisy that we could barely hear the band! Fortunately we didn't have that problem this time. Maybe it was because it was more of a theater than a bar, or because everyone had assigned seats, but the crowd was respectful of the music, and what music it is! Hothouse Flowers has been one of our favorite bands for a while, and it was great to see them in such an intimate setting. Afterwards the entire band was meeting their fans in the lobby, so we bought their latest CD and got them all to sign it. A high point of the evening was when we were talking to the bass player and he asked us where we were from. Stephie told him Brookfield, and he asked "Where the fook is that?". We highly recommend the Metropolis as a place to see a show, and HIGHLY recommend you check out Hothouse Flowers.

  • Last night, despite Stephie feeling a little unwell, we went to the Vic to see Poi Dog Pondering, another of our most favorite bands. They put on their usual spectacularly entertaining show, but the evening was again marred by the crowd. As with the earlier Hothouse Flowers show at HoB, to paraphrase that Volkswagon commercial, it was really hard for us to enjoy the music with all the yakkin'. This is a phenomenon we have witnessed many times over the last several years, and never ceases to amaze me. It was pointed out to me that some of these concert places are also bars (more so the House of Blues than the Vic) so some talking is expected, but using that logic, what kind of an idiot goes to a bar that has a $30+ cover charge? I'm not expecting the crowd to be perfectly silent, as at a classical concert or a movie, but several times (between songs and during some acoustic parts) I could not understand what the person on stage was saying. Fortunately for us, Poi Dog Pondering seems to be moving more towards a guitar-based with their latest album, so they were able to cut through the din for the most part. Unfortunately, God's Gallipoli, with Frank Orrall on ukulele, was pretty much lost.

  • Next up: Ray Davies at the Chicago Theater, which is a great place to see live music. We expect the crowd to be better-behaved, if for no other reason than we have assigned seating. We're seriously considering only going to shows where the seats are assigned, but we'll have to see how that goes. We've seen some great shows at the House of Blues, but usually we have to get there early and stand close to the stage so that we can be assured that we'll hear what we pay for. (Or maybe we'll just buy the CDs.)

  • More bad news last week as CBS announced that they were again canceling Jericho, one of our favorites from last season. Fortunately, the producers expected this to happen, so filmed two endings, and showed the one which tied up most of the loose ends to give the fans some closure. They did leave things somewhat open-ended as the future of the country, so I guess we can hope that there might be some future stories with these characters, but if not, this was a pretty good, albeit slightly rushed, ending to this fine series. As I wrote before, we have the first season DVDs, and although I have all the second season episodes saved, I'll be sure to pick up the second season if they release it. As a side note, Stephie now says that she is not interested in trying any new shows ever again, because they seem to cancel them just as she gets involved.

  • And part of the reason that I've been so lax in updating this site is because I've been spending a lot of time getting MythTV to work here, to replace our aging VCRs. It's just about up-and-running, and I hope to be posting info soon about our set-up, in case anyone's interested..

03/02/08: One of our favorite shows from last season was Jericho. We watched every episode after catching the terrific pilot, waited patiently during the almost three-month break that CBS inflicted on us before showing the second half of the first season, and were upset and heartbroken when the show was canceled. We weren't among the group that sent thousands of pounds of peanuts to CBS to protest the shows cancellation, but both Stephie and I signed the on-line petitions, and I bought the DVD set when it came out. Stephie thought I was a little nuts (pun intended) for buying the series after we watched every single episode, but I figured that it was my way of directly supporting the show. Plus, I wanted to see the first season again before the second season started, and we don't get channel 2 in very well, so I couldn't really tape it to keep when they reran it over the summer.
     As time rolled by, and the date of the second season premiere approached, I mentioned that I wanted to watch at least part of the DVDs before getting into the second season. Stephie was less than enthusiastic, because "we already watched them." I convinced her that we should at least watch the pilot again, and she agreed that maybe she's like to see the season finale before the new season starts, so a couple Sundays ago, I pulled out the set and popped in the first disk. After the first episode, Stephie said "Maybe we should watch the next one." Seven episodes later, she wanted to watch more, but it was late and I had to go to work the next day! We wound up watching a disk a night after that, finishing the set in a total of four days. On the fifth day, we watched the first two episodes of the new season, and now we're stuck, waiting for more!
     This little marathon confirmed what I thought last year, that Jericho is a terrific show. It's a little like Lost, where you have a group of characters isolated from the rest of the world, and have to rely on each other to survive. But unlike Lost, which we eventually gave up on, there's a logical progression of the plot, and the writers actually give you answers to some of the mysteries as they add more puzzles to the storyline. And while we really enjoyed it as a weekly show last season, I think it works better when watching multiple episodes in one sitting. During last season, I thought the tone of the story changed in the two-and-a-half months it was off last year. It seemed like it abruptly shifted from the town surviving on its own to defending from hostile outside forces, but watching the series as we did over a couple days, the shift now seems more reasonable to me, and much more logical.
     Judging by the first two episodes this year, the quality has not suffered much due to its temporary cancellation, although it's a little different show this season. Where last season was about the town and how it was going to survive after the bombs destroyed most of the major cities in the US, this season seems to be about rebuilding in the aftermath, and also finding who was responsible. I'm curious to see how they're going to do that while still focusing on this small town in Kansas.
     But while they have announced that this second season is only going to be seven episodes long, there are no assurances that it will be back for a third. I understand that the ratings haven't been spectacular, which means that this compelling, unique show is possibly going to be canceled again. I hope that doesn't happen, because quality TV is getting harder and harder to find. We watch less network TV every season, as they cancel shows that we like and replace them with "reality" shows, game shows and other garbage. And when something interesting does find its way to the airwaves, we're hesitant to start it, for fear that we'll get sucked into the show, only to have it canceled after a single season or less, recent examples being Traveler, Invasion, Threshold, The Class, Commander in Chief, Out of Practice, The Job, Joan of Arcadia, It's All Relative, Hidden Hills, and the list goes on. Maybe these were not high art, but we liked 'em. And they were a darn sight more entertaining to us than American Idol! But I digress...
     If you haven't given it a chance, try Jericho. The DVDs are available from Netflix or probably your local video store, and the entire first season is viewable on-line. New episodes are on Tuesday night. And if you like it, tell people about it, like I'm doing here.

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