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If you have pets (or possibly even children), you know that it doesn't matter how many toys you own, because at any particular moment, the best toy is always the one that the other pet (or child) has. For our puppies, it doesn't matter if there are six rawhide bones laying on the floor of the living room, because instead of each puppy getting their own and sitting down to enjoy it, they each go for the one that the other has, thinking that it simply must be the best one. Most of the time, it turns into a race around the living room or house, but sometimes the two actually realize that it's possible to share. Either way, it's great entertainment.

Elsa and Zoey sharing a rawhide

I started out the month so well, I was kicking ass and taking names and posting entries at least every couple days. Then reality set in and I realized that I was behind on so many things that updating this section simply fell down my 'to-do' list until it was sitting near the bottom. It's not that there isn't anything going on, it's simply that there's so much going on that I have no idea where to start writing about it all.

In order to keep things focused, I will simply write a quick review of a movie I watched last night while having a relaxing evening at home with the pups. My bandmate and incredibly well-rounded (and involved) friend Malcom lended me The Last Temptation Of Christ, which is yet another one of those films that I'd both read and heard about a great deal but had yet to see. With talk invigorated about the film again with the recent release of The Passion Of The Christ, I decided that it was something I should finally check out.

Although I hate to say it, one of the first things I noticed about the film was how dated it looked. While it was shot just over 15 years ago (and on a modest budget then), there were things about the look of the film that simply caught my eye in little ways and bothered me. Maybe I'm a child of the digital age, but it nonetheless made a small impression. Another thing that somewhat bothered me were a couple of the performances and the way that several of the scenes were edited. Harvey Keitel (as Judas) started out like a crazy dervish, yelling all his lines and pretty much hamming it up before finally settling down into a good performance. Barbara Hershey (as Mary Magdeline) varied back and forth between flat-out annoying and so-so, but I never really bought her performance as a whole. On the other side of things, the ever-excellent Willem Dafoe was great as the hugely-conflicted Jesus, and while there were a few flaws in the overall story, I thought that it brought up some excellent points and was a good film as a whole. In the end, I think it could have been edited down a slight bit and made a bit more tight, but what the hell do I know?

One thing that I don't feel the film was guilty of was all the criticism that was heaped on it. Of course, much of that came from people who had never seen the film, but it never states that it's based on the gospel of the bible. Before the film even starts, there's a statement on screen that it's a fictional examination of the conflict that existed within Jesus between his human and divine side. For that alone, it's very successful. It's an ambitious film, and even if it is slightly flawed, I think it will leave you thinking about it after you watch it.

Wow. There goes a week again and no update. I could make a list of all the stuff that I've gotten done in the past week, but that would keep me from valuable sleep time and I can't be having that right now. Instead, I will just say that I've been busy with things. Also, in case you didn't know yet, Marianas will be playing at Duffy's (Lincoln, NE) on Wednesday March 31st. It will be our last show for awhile, and we'll be playing some new songs and some familiar favorites...

A month or so back, TG took part in a work campaign thing where she got a pedometer and kept track of how many steps she took each day. At the time, I egged her on and tried to see if I could join up (I think it was again my number-crazy side wanting to come through), but her work had only ordered a certain amount, etc, etc. At any rate, the little pedometer had been sitting down on the dresser the past couple days so I decided to pick it up and see how many steps (which is really what it keeps track of) I made each day.

Sitting on the late end of Sunday (where I doubt I'll get too many more), I've arrived at 6865 for the day. We took the dogs on two walks, and other than that I didn't do a great deal more walking (a good part of the day was again spent floor sanding, and finally floor staining). Yesterday, my total was roughly 7852, and that was partially due to taking the dogs on a slightly longer second walk, as well as going out and doing a few more errands during the day. I assumed that my day-to-day totals during the work week would clock in roughly the same, and after one day of the regimine, I think it will come out fairly close. Weather was crappy today (meaning the dogs didn't get to go on their usual nightly walk), but I still managed almost 6000 for the day. If something interesting happens with the numbers, maybe I'll post it, but I can see now that this is going to bore the hell out of just everyone but me (ooh, I can't wait to translate steps to actual distance walked by measuring my stride!).

In other news, I still haven't gotten my final crown on my implant. It was supposed to happen about 10 days ago, but the person making the tooth got sick and that caused a chain-reaction in bumping my schedule back at my dentists office. I'd have to say its more of a relief than anything else at this point. I just want the process (which started last June) to be over with. Finally, it's all going down tomorrow. I'll have a sore mouth, but a tooth that is hopefully permanent (it godammn better be given what I had to pay for it).

I think it was just about a year and a half ago that TG and I went to see Punch Drunk Love at the theater. I specifically remember the experience because it was one of the only movies I've ever been to in which people got up and left the theater. At the time, I came out of the theater thinking it was one of the best films that I'd seen in some time, despite nearly everyone around me making comments regarding it as the worst film they'd ever seen. In addition to thinking that the choice of Adam Sandler was wonderfully subversive (due to his usual films), I thought it was easily the best film I'd ever seen him in. He was Barry Egan, plain and simple. Since the time that I saw it, I've had discussions with quite a few different people about the film, and their reaction is always to one extreme or the other, no in-between. Heck, that's often the mark of a great film right there.

TG and I re-watched the movie tonight on DVD and I still hold true with my thoughts that it's my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson film as well. It's giddy (or punchdrunk, rather) love personified. It's literally disorienting at times with the combination of visuals, music, and sound (which I noticed even more this time around). Despite being rather unconventional, I think it's actually one of better romantic movies that I've ever seen, simply because it captures and expresses those somewhat nervous and exciting moments of a relationship so well. So yeah, I'm sorry if you're one of those people who hated this film. I think it's really wonderful and sad and funny as well.

I unofficially started this website back in August of 1997. At the time, the site was hosted on Geocities and I was updating a couple times a week with different pieces of writing. It was then that I also started writing music reviews on the web. Before that, I wrote for a college newspaper, and churned out something like 150 reviews over the course of 4 years, but I decided that with the new site I'd make a clean break and only post new stuff. At first it was one review a week, then I made the plunge and got a domain name about 5 years ago and bumped the number up to about 3 or so a week.

A couple years ago, I bumped the reviews per week up to 5, and have continued that trend ever since (with random weeks off for holidays or other life-happenings). Although I've gone through some periods where it seems like sort of a hassle and a chore, the past year or so has actually been one of the most fun periods in writing for the site that I've ever had. I think it's in part due to the amount of interesting music that I've been able to discover, and partially due to just sort of finding a stride with my actual writing. I've always been the first one to admit that my reviews probably aren't the most interesting ones out there to read, but I feel like they serve a purpose and give a fairly in-depth view of the pieces of music that I tackle.

In the past couple years, I've gotten a small smattering of emails calling me a jerk for this or that review, but the number of emails from other music fans either offering a suggestion or sending along a nice comment has more than outweighed any negative comments that I've gotten, and that's really what makes it all worthwhile. One of the things that makes me happiest is that the readership is definitely an international one. I've been doing readers year-end lists for the past several years now and I've gotten submissions from over 20 different countries each of the past two years.

All of the above reflection is basically in part due to another small milestone with the site, and that's the 1200 review mark in the music review section. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I just hit 1000 about a year ago (and will _hopefully hit the 1500 mark in just over another year), but I have to try to mark off these little milestones somehow in my head. I've always had sort of a number-cruncher obsession and reflecting on goals met helps give me that extra motivation once in awhile to keep chugging along. As I always say, if you're ever stopped by and read a review, I thank you. Let's keep this thing rolling...

With all the puppy excitement that took place over the weekend, I almost forgot to mention that TG and I pulled another movie trifecta. With weather getting nicer by the day, it's doubtful that we'll have many more of these in the near future, but I found myself at the video/DVD store on Friday evening and couldn't decide on just one...

The first movie that we watched was the most recent Coen Brothers film Intolerable Cruelty. I'd read both good and bad things about it, and I figured that even a bad Coen Brother movie would most likely be enjoyable so I went ahead and took the plunge. What we were treated to was a so-so film that was obviously made with a bigger audience in mind than the duo usually shoots for. It didn't feel like it was completely made by hucksters (some of the dialogue and a couple of the scenes were still hilariously subversive), but I nonetheless felt like there were other hands in the batter on this one. It didn't help matters that I wasn't a big fan of Catherine Zeta Jones, but I think that moreso it came down to me not having any emotional investment in the characters themselves. They were more caricatures than characters anyway, and it felt more like a farce (which could be said about The Big Lebowski as well, but that shit was hyper-funny) than anything I could relate with in any way, shape, or form. Anyway, my overall reaction to the film was mostly indifferent.

The second film of the night was Heaven, directed by Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) and supposedly the final film written by Krzysztof Kieslowski. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from the film, but was pleasantly surprised by it and after thinking back upon it, I'd have to say that it was one of the better films that I've seen lately. Like a lot of the work by Kieslowski, the plot revolves around characters making morally ambiguous decisions in their lives and the results of those actions and how they deal with the aftermath. Cate Blanchett was the best part of the movie, turning in yet another great performance (I'm convinced she's nearly incapable of a bad one), but the direction was very well done too, with some stunning cinematography and some absolutely beautiful views of the Italian countryside. If you don't mind movies with slightly vague endings and (as mentioned above) morally ambiguous characters, definitely check this one out.

The final film (watched the following evening) was Owning Mahoney, a based-on-true-life events movie about obsessive gambling and the toll it takes on people and relationships. It starred Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Minnie Driver (in probably her most unglamorous roll ever), and Hoffman was once again spot on (another actor that has nary a weak performance). Although it's definitely not on the uplifting side of things, it's a good examination of its subject matter and was actually a lot more interesting than my description makes it sound. Although there are a few twists (mainly due to how Hoffman procures the money for his gambling binges), this one is mainly focused on characters and their interactions with one another and little else. While it's probably not something that will stick with you (unless you know someone with a gambling problem yourself), it's definitely worth a rental.

On most occasions, I take our two puppies for walks by myself. When we first started out with this arrangement a couple months back, it made for a few difficult moments for me, but as I got accustomed to their patterns it became easier. In time, the puppies learned our walking route a little more and also have learned to stay on target without bothering each other as much and twisting up their leashes.

Yesterday afternoon, I was walking both the puppies like normal when I saw a large chocolate labrador on the sidewalk up ahead of us. We'd been through the neighborhood many times and seen the dog before (usually with either the owner or son of the owner out in the front yard with him), so I kept walking Zoey and Elsa toward him thinking that it would be good for them to meet another dog. About the time that I got close to the dog, though, I realized that he wasn't on a leash nor were his owners anywhere to be seen. At first, he just sniffed at Zoey (who took her usual submissive stance) while Elsa hung back behind me not quite sure what to make of the big dog.

In only a moment, he started nudging Zoey and getting more rough with her, which had her scared so I scooped her up into my arm while Elsa got even more freaked out. The chocolate lab (which probably weighed close to 100 pounds) then jumped up against me and knocked me backwards just slightly. I yelled at it to back off and held Zoey up high so he couldn't get at her while Elsa started barking. When the lab heard this, he turned around and walked towards Elsa (again, I don't think it was with malicious intent) and this caused her to freak out even more and start pulling at her leash as hard as she could. Just about the time the lab had gotten to Elsa, his owner yelled at him and he ran back home, but Elsa was still bouncing around as I tried to pick her up as well and her leash slipped out of my hand.

Still scared, Elsa took off down the block on the sidewalk and around the corner (this all took place about 6 blocks from home). Zoey was still scared and yelping, so I situated her in my arm and took off running after Elsa, slowly losing ground on her while yelling our her name frantically. I managed to stay about a half block behind her the whole way, and all I could think about was her running into the street in front of a car. My adrenaline was flowing and I was calling her name despite a raw throat from sickness and I felt helpless as I saw her get even more and more ahead of me.

Once we'd crossed all the streets to get to our block, I sat Zoey down and let her run alongside me and we cut through yards and ran as fast as possible and hoped and hoped that Elsa had stopped at home. When I passed the car in our neighbors driveway, I looked over and saw Elsa standing there with her leash behind her. She still looked somewhat scared, so I simply sat down in our yard and called her name.

She sauntered on over to me and I grabbed her leash tightly and finally felt my nerves start to calm slightly. I was hyperventilating a little bit, and although I had only run 6 blocks, I had done it as fast as I possibly could (with another dog in my arm) all the while my emotions were running frantic. After getting inside the house, I crashed onto the living room floor and felt like I was going to pass out. Both the puppies came over and laid down next to me and TG grabbed me a glass of water as I told her what happened.

It took me nearly a half hour to completely calm down physically and mentally after what had happened, and although it sounds cheesy I'd have to say it was one of the more emotional things that has happened to me in a long time. All I could think about was hoping that Elsa would make it home safe (or make it home at all), and when I finally got a hold of her again, everything came crashing back down again. Fortunately, a bad situation that could have been even worse turned out okay, and our little danger-puppy Elsa is back to her normal boisterous self.

A puppy that knows the way home

A friend of mine (thank you for noticing my slack Malcom!) noted today that the front page of my site states that this section is updated, "dang near daily." Over the course of the past couple months, though, the update schedule has fallen more and more by the wayside, until I've only been dropping in barely over once a week with middling updates that don't say a whole lot other than that I've been busy.

Guess what, though, I've been busy... Heh. All facets of my life seem to be on overload right now, which isn't completely a bad thing. I feel like I really have to stay organized or else everything will come tumbling down and I'll really get behind on things. I get my official implanted tooth this Friday, though, so that will be once long, long process that is finally done with. Not even a cute puppy picture tonight, though, it's time to sleep.

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