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!

12/25/08: The snowmen on top of our TV would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. (Extra points to any L. Fish alumni who recognize the guy that's second from the left in the picture.) We had a great couple days visiting family and friends, eating too much and collecting lots of booty! Hope all of you had the same.

12/05/08: Happy "Day of the Ninja", everybody! I know "Talk Like A Pirate Day" is a lot more fun, because you get to annoy your family, friends and co-workers by being louder and more obnoxious than usual, calling everyone "Wenches" and "Scurvy Dogs" and such, when on the "Day of the Ninja" you just sneak around silently and kill them. This may be fun for you but definitely not for them. But that's what ninja do.
     On the other hand, you can just celebrate quietly (dare I say "stealthily") and afterwards order take-out from Ninja Burger ("Guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less, or we commit Seppuku!") and watch "The Octagon" for the 275th time.
     Just be careful with your paper shurikens. You know, it's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.

11/27/08: Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Each year we give thanks for all the good things in our lives. I'm thankful for my friends, my family, my lovely wife, my silly dog. I'm thankful that I'm still relatively healthy, still employed, still have at least a couple dollars left in my 401K. Thankful that my brothers are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner, that Stephie is cooking a beautiful bird, and it's a beautiful day outside.

But mostly this year I'm thankful that my Dad's OK. As some of you know, Dad went in for a quadruple bypass and valve replacement at the end of October and there were some complications which kept him in the hospital much longer than planned. He's home now, as you can see from the picture, and it looks like he's going to be OK. He has a sackful of medicine to take and the plan is for him to go to therapy three days a week until his body recovers from the trauma of the surgery. But he never lost his sense of humor, even when he wasn't doing too well, and I believe that's an important part of a successful recovery. It's going to be a while until he's completely back to normal, but we're willing to wait for him!

11/19/08: "The 2008 National Medal of Arts to Stan Lee, for his groundbreaking work as one of America's most prolific storytellers, recreating the American comic book. His complex plots and humane super heroes celebrate courage, honesty, and the importance of helping the less fortunate, reflecting America's inherent goodness." Excelsior!

11/04/08: OK, so Howard's not running this time, but today is Election Day 2008, so VOTE! Vote like your life depends on it. It may not, but your country sure does!

10/31/08: Happy Halloween, everyone! My costume this year was supposed to be kind of cute, but as usual, it turned out to be kind of creepy. Click here for pictures.

10/26/08: Recent e-mail exchange with my brother:

From: Matt
To: Chris
Subject: Tonight on TCM
Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 7:47 AM

Hey, can you do me a big favor? Evanier says today that The World's Greatest Sinner is being shown on TCM early tomorrow morning. Would you be able record it for me? I've been curious about this film for years, because Zappa wrote the soundtrack, but the only time I've seen it for sale was from some shady public domain vendor. It looks like it's on at 1am for about 80 minutes.

And since you're already setting up the Tivo, they're showing 200 Motels at 2:45, and I wouldn't mind having a DVD of that, because all I have is a crappy nth-generation tape, and the Zappa Family Trust has never gotten around to putting that out on DVD!

From: Chris
To: Matt
Subject: Re: Tonight on TCM
Date: Friday, October 24, 2008, 12:30 PM

No problem! I've got plenty of space on the Tivo, and there's no Bears game to record this weekend. ;)

From: Chris
To: Matt
Subject: Re: Re: Tonight on TCM
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2008, 9:19 AM


Dude, some people should not be allowed to play with cameras. And I'm talking about BOTH of these movies!

From: Matt
To: Chris
Subject: Re: Re: Tonight on TCM
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2008, 11:41 AM

Hey, I didn't ask you to WATCH them, just record them.

From: Chris
To: Matt
Subject: Re: Re: Tonight on TCM
Date: Saturday, October 25, 2008, 2:12 PM

HA HA! Touche'!


10/24/08: Sorry, but I've been really busy lately, keeping an eye on the upcoming election. You did register to vote, didn't you? And you do plan to vote on November 4th, don't you? Remember, your guy needs your vote, regardless of which guy is your guy. (Of course, it would be best if your guy was my guy, but either way, don't forget to vote!) I'm going to try to catch up in the next couple days on some stuff I've been meaning to post, so check back.

     Last week, Stephie took me to the Park West to see Alejandro Escovedo and the Nicholas Tremulis Orchestra, with tickets she gave me for my birthday. We first both of them (without full band) a couple years ago at Fitzgerald's at a benefit with Poi Dog Pondering. Man, I wish I had a tape of that show. For that night, the bulk of Escovedo's set was just him on guitar and the fabulous Susan Voelz on violin, and they blew us away! I'd seen her play with PDP several times, but the two together just clicked. And last week, Escovedo had his full band along (including the talented Ms. Voelz) and they were really terrific. I've only been to the Park West twice, and that was nearly 25 years ago (Uriah Heep and Marillion, not on the same night), but I really liked the place. I wouldn't mind going back if they had someone I liked.

     But where I'm pretty sure we will be going back is Stanley's Kitchen & Tap, about a block away from the Park West. Stephie was a little reluctant to go in, and was even more reluctant when we saw the front of the place was a dimly-lit bar, but the hostess took us in the back to a well-lit, well-decorated dining area that made me feel like we were in someone's kitchen. And the food was fantastic! Stephie had lake perch that was so light and fluffy it seemed almost creamy, with a side order of mac-and-cheese that she initially said was better than hers! I had chicken-fried steak and mashed potatoes, and it might have been the best I've ever had. And the price was reasonable, especially for the area. We've got to figure out what else to do in that neighborhood so we can go back and eat there!


If you live in Illinois, you only have until the end of the day Tuesday, October 7 to register to vote, so don't delay. As Craig Ferguson says in the clip that should be embedded here, "If you don't vote, you're a moron".

     On a lighter note, here's another Craig Ferguson clip where he takes the media to task for the way the election campaign is being covered. Funny stuff, and more than a little bit true.

09/19/08: Avast, ye land lubbers! Don't be fergettin' that today is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, in which we celebrate all things piratical!
     Now ye might think that bein' a pirate was all Johnny Depp and Disney-style monsters, but nothin' kin be further from the truth. Sure, ye had the freedom o' the sea, but ye also had long weeks of nothin' to look at but yer tyrannical cap'n and yer fellow bilge-rats. Nothin' to do but swab th' deck and scrape barnacles, with only the occasional lootin' an' pillagin' te break up th' monotony. Weeks of nothin' to eat but sea biscuits and salted beef, if yer lucky. Scurvy! Ricketts!
     Ye know, maybe the life of a pirate weren't all it's cracked up to be. But we can still talk like one today! So hoist a tankard of yer favorite grog and shout a hearty "Yo-Ho"!

09/13/08: Things we learned in Green Bay last weekend (that's us under the arrow in the picture):
  • They have a beautiful stadium up there. This was the first Packer game we went to at Lambeau Field since the big renovation a couple years ago, and they did a great job adding extra seats and more luxury skyboxes while still retaining the look and feel of the old stadium. The atrium they added with the Packer Hall of Fame and restaurants and other stores is really nice, and it doesn't look at all like a space ship landed in the middle of the field!
  • The fans up there continue to be great. Stephie brought her camera and was taking pictures of the Leinie Lodge in the atrium, when she had me stop so she could get a picture of me. After she snapped the picture, this guy got up from a nearby table, walked over and put his arm around me and said "Now, here's a picture you need to take!" One of his buddies came over and got in the picture and said "OK, go ahead!" Stephie looked a little reluctant but started to raise the camera, and I said "Hey, guys, that's not a digital camera. She's only got a limited number of shots to take." They started waving their hands at her and said "Oh, then don't waste your pictures on us! You need to take GOOD pictures!" They then offered to take a picture of the two of us with her camera. How cool is that? And there were tons of Vikings fans there, with Minneapolis being fairly close. The rivalry between the two teams is almost as strong as between the Packers and the Bears, but we didn't see any problems between the fans, just some good-natured trash talking, similar to what we saw in Indianapolis a couple years ago. Too bad the same can't be said for our experience at Soldier Field.
  • I really, really like when they have the fighter jets do a fly-by at the end of the national anthem. And when you sit real high up in the stadium, as we did, it's not only deafening when they fly overhead, you can actually feel the heat from the engines as they pass by!
  • While we didn't have one, we now know what an "Ultimate Dawg" is. Just as the game started, the two guys next to me sat down, one guy had an enormous hot dog with a bunch of stuff on it. I asked him what it was and he said a foot-long hot dog with chili and macaroni and cheese on it! I watched as he tried to eat it as a normal hot dog, but he soon gave up and used a fork. I forgot about it as the game went on, but when they came back after halftime, I asked him how it was. He said "It was awesome! In fact, he got one!" and pointed to his buddy, who was gamely trying to eat his without resorting to using the fork. As I said, we didn't have one but it looked pretty good. We'll have to try that one at home!
  • My birthday present works really well. Stephie got me a bluetooth keyboard to go with the Nokia Internet tablet I picked up last year, and we took it along with us. The motel we stayed in had wireless internet, so we were able to easily check our e-mail and whatever else we wanted to while we were there. I had been thinking about getting one of those Linux-based mini-laptops that the tech sites have been writing about, but with this combo, I basically have one.
  • Kisu has a new favorite place to stay when we're out of town. On a friend's recommendation, we boarded her at Pawsitively Heaven Pet Resort in Chicago Ridge. There she had her own room with a TV and a doggie door so she could go outside whenever she wanted. She seemed to like it a lot. She had some separation anxiety issues the last time we went out of town and left her where she stayed several times before, but no problems this time. In fact, she didn't seem overly happy to see us when we picked her up!
  • I think the Packers are going to be OK without Brett Favre. We were disappointed at the way that whole retirement situation played out in pre-season. We asked around up there and it seems ultimately the Green Bay fans have the same feelings about the matter as we do. At first, the fans were blaming the coach and the management about how things went down, but as one guy put it, we then saw a side of Favre that we didn't know he had. I wish him all the best (unless he's playing against the Packers, or course) but I just hope that he didn't come back just to wind up getting hurt more seriously than he had in all the time he played for Green Bay.

08/30/08: Usually we celebrate R. Crumb's birthday on the 30th, but this year, as I recently read in an article in "Films of the Golden Age, the 30th is also the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kankakee's favorite son Fred MacMurray. I mainly remember him as the father on "My Three Sons", which Mom says should be brought back on TV Land or one of the local channels, but I still remember the first time I saw him in Double Indemnity. That was not the Mr. Douglas that I knew! I also later found out that he was the inspiration for the design of the original Captain Marvel. How cool is that?

08/25/08: This good looking young guy is Sigmund, and until last weekend, he was our upstairs neighbor. He has a problem with most men (although we got along great right off the bat) and he tends to be a bit yappy (with a bark that goes right through you), but Kisu seemed to like him. At least she tolerated him well enough when he would come down to visit. But his Mom got a great job in another state, so last weekend they moved away. We're going to miss them both but wish them nothing but the best.
     He came down to visit with us while his Mom was waiting for the movers, so we got some final pictures and a couple videos. Check out Kisu's page to see them.

08/06/08: Stephie and I saw "The Dark Knight" a couple weeks ago, and since then I have been struggling with my opinion of the movie. Neither of us liked it, but that's not what I've been struggling with. I just can't seem to put my finger on what it was that I didn't like.
     I've been a Batman fan for a long time. I read the comics, as you can see by the accompanying picture, and enjoyed the Adam West TV series for what it was. I still remember when we went with friends to see the Tim Burton-Michael Keaton "Batman" the day it opened, and when it was over we all walked out and immediately wanted to go back in and watch it again. But this movie was a completely different experience.
     To begin with, I didn't care for the Joker character. Except for the face paint, I didn't see much difference between this character and so many other "criminal masterminds" that we see on TV and in movies. To me, he didn't have the kind of obvious lunacy that I equate with the Joker character. No, I didn't want to see Caesar Romero on the big screen, and I'm not that locked into the Jack Nicholson version (although the forced grin was well done), but Heath Ledger just seemed more like a generic terrorist than the Joker I know. There were a couple things he did that fit my idea of the character, but overall, I was unimpressed with the way the character was written.
     There were several spots in the movie where I didn't know what was going on, and I was a little annoyed by that. There was at least one point where there seemed to be a scene or two missing. I thought maybe I zoned out for a couple minutes, but Stephie was lost as well so it wasn't just me. Some people say that we should have seen it at an IMAX theater, but I don't think that would have helped me over the plot holes.
     The acting was pretty good, although I had trouble understanding Christian Bale when he was in costume. I guess he was going for the "Clint Eastwood tough-guy" voice, but all I got was a bunch of mumbling. True, there was a great scene with Morgan Freeman and a Wayne Corp accountant, but my impression was that Michael Caine's dialog was intentionally more vague than I thought the down-to-earth Alfred would say.
     This all seems like nit-picking, and I guess it is, but that's what I've been doing since we saw it because there was no one glaring thing that turned me off of the film, besides maybe the Joker character. I think it all boils down to the fact that I didn't have a good time watching this movie. We saw "Batman Begins" on DVD and I thought it was such a good movie from start to finish that I was kicking myself for not seeing it at the show, so I was expecting a similar experience with this one. But I was really disappointed. I had a much better time at the show when we saw "Iron Man", so much so that I can see myself watching "Iron Man" again in the near future. I can't say the same for "The Dark Knight".

07/30/08: I saw this listed as one of the top news items (actually news videos) on Yahoo! today. I didn't click the link. I don't know about you guys, but I don't need to see any exploding deer any time soon.

07/21/08: Last Friday evening I finished reading "The Number of the Beast" by Robert Heinlein. The book was given to me by a friend who said she received two copies from whatever book club she was in at the time, and thought I might like it. I think that was back in 1980. And it was not very good. Parts of it were, in fact, pretty bad. It started out pretty good, dragged towards the middle, started to pick up, then crashed and burned by the end. In fact, I had no idea what was going on in the whole final chapter, and couldn't wait to be done with it. When I started to lose interest the first time, I checked the 'net for reviews, and found many which recommended not reading it. But I pressed on, and can safely say that I'm never going to read this particular book ever again.
     So then why in the two days since can I not get the book out of my head. Inexplicably, I actually feel a little sad that I'm done, that I won't have some of these characters to read about any more. Makes no sense, but there you go.

06/23/08: This was my Diversity & Inclusion moment at our staff meeting last week:
     I always think that the D&I moment should be something personal, something that makes us different. My D&I moment today is about one of my hobbies, which is listening to radio.
     My opinion is that what is now known as "Terrestrial Radio" these days is pretty much crap, especially at drive time. If you can find music that you like, and that's a pretty big "if", you typically hear as many commercials as you do songs. I've never tried Satellite radio, which is supposed to be better and have a lot of variety, but there's a monthly fee, and who needs that these days. Fortunately for us, there's the Internet.
     Many things are easily and legally available to download from the Internet. Old-time radio shows have long been a personal favorite of mine. When I was a kid, my uncle gave me a bunch of tapes of shows like The Shadow, The Green Hornet, Jack Benny, The Great Gildersleeve, and that got me started. For a while (pre-mp3) I would use my VCR to record When Radio Was on WBBM at midnight, then while I was getting ready to go to work, I would record from the VCR to a cassette and listen in the car on my way to work. Between that show and Those Were the Days on Saturday afternoon, I discovered some great shows like The Voyage of the Scarlet Queen and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.
     Nowadays, there's lots of good OTR stuff available as free downloads, and since most shows are self-contained and around 15 or 30 minutes, they are great to listen to on your mp3 player while stuck in traffic. You can easly find them by a little searching. Here's a link to one of my favorites, the aforementioned Voyage of the Scarlet Queen. Think of it as a hard-boiled detective series on a ship as it sails from port to port. Great stuff. I had the complete set on cassette and after I listened to it, I passed it around at work and everyone loved it. Another really good series is Speed Gibson, a kid's show that has enough action for kids of all ages!
     But if you'd rather listen to music, you're in luck there as well. You probably think of Public Radio as the news and information you hear prime-time on WBEZ, but there are a lot of interesting music programs in the evenings and over the weekends on 'BEZ and other NPR stations. Just a few of the shows I listen to, either occasionally or regularly, are Blues Before Sunrise, Thistle & Shamrock, Hearts of Space, and Riverwalk Jazz on WUIS from Springfield, Those Were The Days, Putumayo World Music Hour, Victor Parra's Mambo Express, and Metal Rock on WDCB in Glen Ellyn, and Sound Opinions, Prairie Home Companion, This American Life, Afropop Worldwide, Dick Buckley (big band), and Word Jazz on WBEZ. Some of these shows are available as "podcasts", basically mp3 files you can save to your computer and transfer to your mp3 player, while others are streamed over the 'net, and there are free programs you can use to capture the streams and save them to your mp3 player. I use Streamripper to record a half-dozen shows each weekend. I just created a batch file with the Streamripper command line and added it to the Windows scheduler, so I don't have to think about it every weekend, just make sure the computer is on and hooked to the Internet. You can also use the VLC media player to record the streams.
     So with a little investigation, and a couple free programs, you can get more music and entertainment than you have time for, and it doesn't cost you a cent.

06/14/08: Just a brief note to recognize that today is the fifth anniversary of this site going live. To be honest, I didn't think it would last this long. I never doubted my ability to run off at the mouth (or in this case, the keyboard) but when I started this five years ago, I had no idea where I was going with this, or how long I would keep it going. Still don't, really. But even though I'm way behind, in that I have a bunch of stuff from May that I wanted to write about but just haven't got around to it, I'm still having fun with this, and I hope you find my ramblings (and run-on sentences) at least mildly interesting. Thanks for reading!

06/03/08: A regular item on this site is news of the big Used Book Sale at the Westfield Old Orchard mall in Skokie. For the second year in a row The Little City Foundation in Palatine is running the book sale that signals the beginning of summer in this household. This year the sale starts on Friday, June 6th and runs through Sunday, June 15th. It looks like they are trying to make people come out more than once, as they will be hosting various authors there throughout the week. Click here to see the full schedule. As in past sales, they will be accepting book donations right at the sale, so I plan to weed out our collection a little, and give back some of the things that I really don't see myself reading again. I figure if I donate a box and then come home with only a bag full, I will make a little space at home and help out a worthwhile charity. Click the picture of the flyer here for more details of the sale, and plan to pick up some fine reading at some great prices.

05/20/08: We seem to have the poopy robin problem taken care of. Just after I posted the video of that nutty robin, I called the local Wild Birds Unlimited and explained my predicament to the woman there. She said that it was likely that there was a nest nearby, and that was why the robins were hanging around. She also thought that this behavior, like the reported cases of robins flying into windows, would stop once mating season was over, probably in a couple weeks.
     I told her that I had seen these inflatable owls on the 'net and was wondering if they carried them, or if she thought they would work. She told me that robins are pretty smart birds, and if the owl was not moving, they would figure out that it was not a threat and ignore it. She recommended either tying some of those mylar balloons on the antenna, or covering the car with a sheet, but making sure that it was loose enough to flutter in the breeze. She thought the motion of either would be enough to keep the birds away.
     So that night I got out this plastic tarp that we had in the cabinet and layed it across the roof of Stephie's Beetle, closing the door on either side. It didn't completely cover the car, but enough of the roof, and it was a little loose so the wind blew it around a bit. There were a couple spots on the car the next morning, but we left it on a couple days and ... nothing. Not on the Beetle, not on my car, not on the neighbor's car, nothing! We've since had the cars parked out there without any covering and it's been just fine. It seems that one weekend with the plastic was enough to scare them away. Thanks, Wild Birds Unlimited!

05/04/08: More Bird Fun: When I got home from work on Friday, I thought I'd switch parking places with Stephie, figuring that maybe I'd confuse the poopy robin. Apparently, she's too smart for me, but at least this time I was able to grab the camera and catch her in the act.

     So yesterday, Stephie figured she'd had enough and parked in front. Judging by the shape of the cars this morning, either she parked under the wrong tree or her car is actually the object of the robin's affections, because my car (in back) is clear but hers is not!

04/30/08: Bird Fun: A couple weeks ago, I was getting ready for work and I heard a bump...bump...bump coming from the dining room. Kisu was sleeping so I knew it wasn't her. I slowly walked in there, and there was this bird (one of those little wrens, I think) on the evergreen, right outside the window. On my side of the window is also a tree, so the bird is trying to fly from the evergreen to the other tree, but he bumps into the window and goes back to the evergreen. This went on for several minutes (with no apparent damage to the bird, I might add) until I chased him away. This happened a couple more days since, and once I tried to get some video of him, but it was too dark to see anything.
     Now we have a new problem. Stephie called me last Friday and said that she almost gagged when she went to her car because it was full of bird poop. I had noticed a dropping on my car when I left the house, but I didn't get a good look at the passenger side of my car, and when I checked, it was pretty loaded as well. We had a bird poop problem in the past because there are some telephone and cable lines going over where we park in the back, but we were not parked under the lines this time, and also, why her driver's door and my passenger door?
     The next day, I found out why. I peeked out the back and saw a robin hopping from Stephie's car to mine, back and forth, over and over. And you know what birds do almost as well as fly? That's right: poop. Stephie had had her car professionally washed after the last coating, and it was covered with poop again! I went back to get the camera, but he was gone when I got back. I hauled out the hose and washed the new poop off, and he didn't come back for a couple days. But look what I found when I was going to work this morning. I got out there and this goofy robin is sitting on her car! He took off when he saw me, but the picture here shows that he had been there for a while.
     Ain't nature wonderful?

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.

02/15/08: Well, this years birthday season starts off with a bang today, with two of the most important people in my life celebrating birthdays today. Happy Birthday, Dad and Stephie! Looking forward to that big birthday meal this weekend!

02/11/08: This winter has been particularly brutal on my poor little car. A couple weeks ago I was driving home from work during one of our recent afternoon snowstorms when a chunk of what I'm assuming to be ice and snow flew off the truck in the next lane and exploded on the front of my car, covering every available surface in muck. I couldn't see out of any of the windows, front, back or sides, and it took three or four swipes of the wipers before I could see where I was going. Quite a harrowing experience at tollway speeds. The corpse-sized chunk of crud must have hit the nose of the car first, because it punched a hole in the plastic cover of the headlight, which had to be replaced, before splattering the windows and taking a tiny chip out of the windshield, which will have to be replaced one of these days.
     Then last Friday, I was on my way to work when I came across an abyss on the tollway, with no way to avoid it. I knew it wasn't good the way the car shook when I hit it, but it wasn't until I was parking that I realized that my tire was flat. What's worse was the rim was bent, so while they were able to save the tire, I had to buy a new rim. I guess I should count myself fortunate that nothing else was damaged, like the steering or the transmission. But still...      I did have to laugh, though, when I was coming back from dropping off the damaged wheel and saw two guys changing a tire in the parking lot. I stopped and said "Let me guess: Westbound 88 right around Naperville road?" They both looked up a little startled and said "Yeah, how did you know?" At least I'm not alone.

It's Super Tuesday! If you're already registered, go vote today! If not, listen to what Frank says in this little video clip and register before the general election in November. You know the old saying: "If you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome."

01/06/08: We had a quick warmup this weekend, so all the snow on the ground is gone, but we took some pictures when we were on our walk a couple days ago, including this awesome Christmas decoration. Click here to see a couple pictures.

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