Monday, February 28, 2011

A Cold Day at Disneyland

Saturday was Master's annual discounted day at Disneyland, the second time they've had it in February.  And for the second time, it was a cold day where lots of nasty weather was being predicted.  In fact, apparently it did snow again here in town and down in Hollywood, although it didn't snow enough to stick.

At Disneyland, we had mostly blue skies all day, however.  Don't get me wrong, it was still cold.  I had three layers on almost all day, and added a fourth almost as soon as the sun went down.  But it only rained for a few minutes, and those would be more sprinkles than actual rain.

The nasty forecast scared away all the crowds, however.  Lines did get a little long on the more popular rides, but we still managed to get in everything we wanted to do once and all but one of the big rides twice.  Heck, at 9PM, after 12 hours in the park, we were getting ready to leave.  Still managed to leave after 10 by the time we stopped to shop and hit Mr. Lincoln on the way out.

I thought late last week I was coming down with another cold.  I'm not quite sure what's happened to that.  I don't feel perfect, but I don't really feel sick either.  I was afraid the cold weather would knock me out, but it doesn't appear to have done so.

The highlight of the day was our first trip on the Jungle Cruise.  We got on the boat my friend Brian was skippering.  He did a great job, and we really enjoyed it.  When we got to the end, he said, "If you had a good time, my name is Brian and this is the Jungle Cruise.  If you didn't, my name is Mark."  I was with three friends by that point, and all of us died laughing.  The rest of the boat probably didn't get it, but we loved it.

This is going to spoil me for going back on a day that is at normal crowd capacity.  I must admit the idea of going when it's a little warmer does appeal.  But trips when bad weather is threatened and doesn't materialize are perfect because of the small crowd size.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekly TV Recap February 26th

The Amazing Race - As is always the case with All Star or Second Chance seasons, there are some teams here I remember and some teams I have forgotten. But the team I am most excited to see racing again is Jett and Cord. And they are in serious trouble. Good thing it wasn't a pit stop or they'd be gone. I seriously hope they catch back up in the next episode. I like the twist of an automatic U-Turn. That is very interesting. We shall see how it plays out, especially with that team near the front of the pack. And I can't believe the number of teams that were helping each other. It's a race. Hello!

Chuck - Lots of changes coming up here. Okay, I know Morgan will be moving out. That will be sad but also fun to watch in the next couple of weeks. But what's this with Casey? I know he won't leave the team, so I am wondering where this storyline is going. And it looks like the daughter will be the next villain we'll be fighting. Should make for an interesting rest of the season.

Castle - Since this was part one of two, I knew we'd have a big cliffhanger. And I wasn't going to let it worry me. Then I saw what it was. Yikes! I'm very interested in how they will get out of that freezer and find the dirty bomb. This should make for an exciting second part. I hope they do more with the FBI agent. Right now, he's the anti-Jack Bauer, and I don't really like him. Yes, Jack was rough on people, but he had a human side. I'm not seeing that in the character right now.

White Collar - I was actually disappointed that they had Peter and Elizabeth fighting. For one thing, I love the fact that they have such a great marriage. It's nice to see a couple on TV who has such a great relationship. Now I know even the happiest of couples fight occasionally. But to have them fight right before Peter gets kidnapped is such a cliché. Really, couldn't they do better? The part about actually getting Peter back was great. I enjoyed the episode as a whole. But that one aspect really disappointed me.

No Ordinary Family - This episode wasn't quite as epic as last week, but it was still pretty good, if for no other reason than they brought back the cliffhanger about Daphne losing her memory. Yes, it was still resolved a little quickly, but it worked. I don't think we've seen the last of "Joshua." At least I hope we haven't. But I wonder whose side he'll be on when he returns. I really did like him with Katie, so I hope it's on the side of good.

V - Erica is definitely different now that she's lost her ex-husband. Not quite the nice person we've seen in the past. However, her "sparks" with what's his name while they were trying to break into the safe were a joke. Please, the woman obviously still loved her ex-husband. She wouldn't be noticing stuff like that a week later. Meanwhile, Ryan is alive, but no one trusts him. And Anna is about to go after her own daughter. Plus we've learned why the V's want to breed with us (evolve faster). I wish I felt confident that we'd get more of this show coming next season, but I'm sure it will be canceled. It doesn't sound like things will be wrapped up either, so I'm not going to be happy when things wrap up in another month or so.

Survivor - Well, Phil wasn't quite as crazy tonight, but he was still out there. And Russell still thinks he's running the show, but most everyone else seems to be on to him. How awesome was it that the person he thinks is the dumbest one out there actually found the idol. Now, if that tribe just stays smart and votes Russell out if they ever lose, then I'll be happy.

Wipeout - I'm surprised the Ding and Dong brothers made it as far as they did. But it was obvious early on the twins would win the whole thing. Both of them were young and athletic. Nobody else had a prayer.

The Big Bang Theory - You know, as much as Sheldon drives everybody crazy, it was kind of nice to see him realize how much he does like his friends and even more have them realize how much they really do like him. Poor Penny, however, isn't so ready to move on from Leonard. I know they'll get those two back eventually, but I like knowing they miss each other. And that tag with LaVar Burton showing up? Absolutely wonderful.

Nikita - So, the whole episode was good with the suspense of will Division find out that Alex is the mole from several different fronts. But the ending? Holy cow! Michael definitely knows not only that Alex is working with Nikita but where Nikita lives. I can't believe they are going to make us wait six weeks to find out what happens next.

Royal Pains - In many ways, that felt more like a series finale than a season finale with everyone going off like they did. Oh, I know Jill is just gone for six months and Evan is just gone for a few. But it almost felt like people moving on with their lives. We didn't learn why Boris kicked Hank and Evan out of his place, but my guess is it is Marissa's pregnancy. What's even more confusing is that he was still willing to help their dad, however. Speaking of which, I am glad he decided to go to jail and take his punishment. But I'm most disappointed in Divya's storyline. Oh, I knew all along she wouldn't go through with the wedding. But this was just a little too sudden to me. The writers of this show really can do better.

Fairly Legal - The ending came together a little too neatly again, something the writers on this show struggle with at times. But still, it was a good episode with lots of great cloak and dagger stuff. And it was nice seeing a personal side to Leo with his interest in the art contest. Hope they continue to let his character develop.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Word Association for February 23rd

And today we've got this week's word association.

  1. Maroon :: Red
  2. Save :: the Date
  3. Smithereens :: Blast it to
  4. Conversation :: Talking
  5. Visual :: Expression
  6. Experience :: Do it
  7. Steady :: Slow and
  8. Wives :: and Husbands
  9. Glass :: Half Full
  10. String :: Silly

No, don't ask me where some of those came from.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's On My Nightstand - February 2011

You know, I missed this the last few months.  But let's get back in the swing of talking about what has just left my nightstand.

Sunday was the book launch party for Joanne Fluke's latest, Devil's Food Cake Murder.  I took yesterday off work, and spent most of the day reading it.

This time around, the murder revolves around a visiting reverend.  Matthew spent a few years in Lake Eden growing up.  So when Hannah finds him shot to death next to a piece of her new Devil's food cake, she has to figure out if the motive for this murder was something from the past or the present.

I know some people are tired of this series, which happens when you reach book 14 in a series, but I continue to really enjoy it.  The characters are absolutely wonderful, and I will take any excuse of visit them again.  The mystery here was actually pretty good with some good twists before the climax.  And, as always, there are a bunch of new recipes, roughly 20 by my count.

The biggest complaint with the series in the love triangle between Hannah, Mike, and Norman.  I actually think that the author is trying to wrap that up and is definitely laying the groundwork for that here.  No, it's not resolved, but I could see it being resolved in the next book depending on how things play out.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for February 19th

Chuck - I was dying during the Charlie's Angels spoof at the beginning. On the whole, it was a good episode. Maybe not their best ever, especially since Chuck seemed to take a few steps backward in this spying (like falling down the skylight), but fun nonetheless. I know they don't use all the actors in every episode, but I really missed Devon at the engagement party. On the other hand, I love the fact that Sarah and Ellie are getting close. I think that's a great way for them to develop both characters. Their scenes together were some of my favorites.

Castle - That was one of their more serious episodes. And part way through, I really was beginning to wonder where they were going. I mean, Castle wouldn't turn out to be wrong, would he? And, in some ways, he was since his friend was responsible for his father's murder. Some of those scenes where Castle was beginning to doubt himself were so well done. Normally Nathan Fillion doesn't have to go too deep, but the script called for it tonight, and he really delivered.

No Ordinary Family - So I've been a bit hard on this show recently for being too episodic and ignoring the bigger story. I didn't have that problem tonight. And I loved it for that reason. They really moved things forward in a big way. Dr. King knows a lot more about the Powells. And they know much more about what he is up to. I hope they build on this at least a little next week instead of just dropping it to an after thought again.

V - You know what I kept think while watching the episode? Why would the FBI think that Erica was in that situation to become a hostage in the first place? I don't know why they'd think she'd be there, but it does work to get her back in their good graces. I'm not surprised by most of the people who died. They were guest stars, so I didn't expect them to be around for long. I am wondering if Ryan is really dead or not. I really expect him to come up with some way to redeem himself and free his daughter. Then again, they've now set up Kyle to be the new mole, so who knows if Ryan is still around or not. We never saw him again after the explosion and shoot out. I guess we'll find out next week. Just one more thing, that final scene between Erica and Tyler was absolutely heart breaking on both sides.

Survivor - So we're in season 22 (thanks Jeff Probst for tweeting that earlier or I never would have remembered). And yet people still don't know when to keep their big mouths shut. Phillip is a moron. You don't have the luxury of overanalyzing everything six million ways while in the game. You have to trust people or move on. And you don't go blurting out everything they told you in the middle of tribal. Rooting for Rob and Russell to make early exits, although both tribes seem too stupid to listen to the few people who think they need to do that. Still not sure how the whole Redemption Island thing will work, so I'll be curious to see how that plays out in the next few weeks.

Wipeout - The names and puns weren't as funny this time around. But how awesome was the Snowman Surprise? The first time I saw the part of the walkway come up, I just about died laughing. Way too much fun. And they didn't use 7 Letter Word again. I felt so sorry for that one woman who had to quit because of her knee, especially considering what they'd been calling her. But quitting because of an injury is certainly understandable and the right thing to do.

The Big Bang Theory - Okay, so I had read some interviews that pretty much gave away the Howard and Bernadette part of the episode. Still, it was pretty funny watching it all unfold. Best line of the night? "Wrong answer" said by Bernadette after she asked Howard to move in with her when Howard hadn't even said anything at all. I'm wondering how long Raj's sister will be around. Poor Penny, with Amy and Sheldon to comfort her, will she really feel any better?

Royal Pains - So we found Paige's weakness, snoring. It made for a pretty good secondary story. And I was cheering as much as Evan and Paige were when they said "I love you" to each other. Poor Jill was pretty much overlooked yet again. They really need to find a good storyline for her next season. But those last few minutes really have me up in the air. Why is Boris packing the guys up to move them out? And what will Raj say now that he knows Divya kissed a patient. This is going to be an action packed finale, I can tell already.

Fairly Legal - I pretty much predicted every moment of the case this week as it went along. Not that it was a bad episode, but a twist somewhere along the way would have been nice. And was anyone having Friends flashbacks with the sub-plot about Justin's neighbor spending time on his balcony nude? But seriously, if Kate and Justin are divorced, why do they keep sleeping together? Seriously, I like the show, but the main character's personal lives make no sense at all. And we've found David Smith. Why did he get a quarter of the estate? I'm curious to see where that storyline goes.

Nikita - So, I haven't paid too much attention to the Alex back story, and I'm paying for it now. This whole Russian thing is confusing because I sure thought she was American and Nikita killed her parents in America. And I'm not too thrilled they made her royalty since, well, I don't buy that conspiracy. However, I loved seeing Michael and Nikita working together again, and the scene between them on the rooftop as they talked about the last time they worked together was great. They've set us up for next week, which looks awesome!

New TV on DVD Reviews:
Reba - Season 3   

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Matthew West and Josh Wilson Spring 11 Tour

So, originally, I had planned to go home last night and watch a ton of TV.  Thursday is my big TV night, and I didn't have choir last night.

Then I was reminded that the first stop in the Matthew West/Josh Wilson tour was last night.  It was an hour and a half away, but the only locations closer was already sold out.  I debate for a few minutes, but I decided to try to go.  I even called my roommate Chris to see if he'd want to go and to let him know we'd be leaving a little earlier than originally planned.

Then that afternoon, I jumped on Twitter briefly and saw that Matthew West was giving away two tickets to that night's concert.  I replied to him, but just after I did, he gave them to someone else.  Then he tweeted me that he was going to give them to me, too.

So as soon as Chris was done with class, we headed out to the concert.  As expected, it took a while to get through with the traffic, so it was actually more like two hours to get there.  We were actually included in an early meet and greet time, which was basically a chance to get Matthew's autograph before the show.  We got great seats, and waited for the show to start.

The first act was actually a guy from the church.  He did three songs, which were good.

Then came Josh Wislon.  I've been a fan since his first CD came out, so I was as excited to see him as I was to see Matthew West.  He sang 6 songs, mostly from his new CD.  It wasn't enough!  It was amazing to see him layer some stuff in since he was the only one up there for his set.

Finally, Matthew took the stage.  He started with his hit "The Motions" from his last CD.  He did another couple of his classic songs, then he gave us an intermission.

So far, he had done nothing from The Story of Your Life, his newest disc.  That changed with the second half of the show.  He started at song one and did all the songs back to back.  After the first couple of songs, he introduced every song with either the letter that had inspired it or a video of the people who had inspired it.  There were several times I was wiping away tears.  It was the first time I've ever seen an artist do all the songs from their new disc, but it made for an amazing concert.

After the concert, we hung around, and I was able to get Josh Wilson's autograph.

The downside is that, because of when we left, I didn't get a chance to run home.  So I went in my work clothes and didn't have my camera with me.  Plus I only had one Matthew West CD with me to get signed.  But I'd do it again this way if it were my only choice in a heartbeat.

We got home around 11:30 and went to bed.  We were both moving pretty slowly this morning.  Now I get to go home and work on those TV shows I didn't watch last night.  A lazy night at home watching TV sounds great.

But I'm so glad I went to the concert last night.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Word Association for February 16th

Got some time for this week's word association.

  1. Excitedly :: Run!
  2. Rolls :: Jelly
  3. Owls :: Hoot
  4. Cover :: Book
  5. Jubilee :: Celebration
  6. Heartthrob :: Hunky
  7. Pizza :: Delicious
  8. Constipation :: Ugh
  9. Weightless :: Space
  10. Truck :: Trail

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Playing at Hiking? (Otherwise Knows as My Weekend)

So, I had another fun weekend.  I was hardly home for it, which is probably what made it so much fun.

Friday night started out at home.  I had my friend Grant over.  We watched Psycho and hung out for a while talking afterward.  Okay, so that's not my favorite movie ever (you can see my review here), but I am glad I watched it again.

Saturday morning, I spent some time catching up on TV.  Then I headed down to Glendale Centre Theatre where I met up with Angelique to watch To Kill a Mockingbird.  I've never read the book or seen any other versions of the story, so this was a first.  I found the story very sad, but I'm supposed to.  Yes, I know there is still racism in our world.  Unfortunately, there will always be some no matter how hard we fight to get rid of it.  But seeing this play made me thankful for how far we've come as a society from the days depicted there.

The production of the play was great.  I am so glad I finally started going down to that theater.  In fact, I'm kicking myself for not going down when it was first recommended to me at least a decade ago.

Sunday found me down in Malibu Canyon after church.  I'd never been down there, but my new friend Sanjay wanted to meet up there for a hike as part of our training for Tough Mudder in May.  Wow, that was a tough hike.  It was almost all uphill going out and downhill coming back.  But the views were beautiful, making it well worth it.  We had a great time, although I was very sore the next day.  In fact, one of my hips is still a little sore, although I am feeling much better.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

TV Recap for February 12th

Yes, I realize it's late in the day, but I watched most of my Thursday night shows today.  I find it ironic that Thursday has become my big TV night and it's the night I have choir practice.


Chuck - I knew it was coming, but I was laughing so hard at Chuck saying "No" to Sarah while on the mission. Talk about poor timing. There were so many great laugh lines in the episode, and so many good moments. The plot could have been a little better. Why leave Casey behind and then turn around and go back unless it was to give Chuck and Sarah some time at home. But I'm just being nitpicky. I enjoyed the episode.

Castle - So, I should have been the killer coming. In fact, I feel like I've seen a similar plot before. But as always, Castle keeps me so pre-occupied as we go from one suspect to the next that it never even crossed my mind. And how sweet was that last scene where Castle goes over to Beckett's and pretty much starts her dream endowment for her? I know I was hesitant about the romance part of the show in season one, but I am completely on board now.

White Collar - If I hadn't known that was Lando, I never would have guessed. Maybe it was because I wasn't completely paying attention to the show, but I felt the plot was overly complicated. But I liked the emotional outcome for the characters, and the dinner party scenes were great. Have I mentioned how I love the dynamic that Elizabeth brings to the show? More of her, please.

No Ordinary Family - Well, we might have a piece of the puzzle. It looks like they've been experimenting on prisoners, and that's where the super villains we've encountered have come from. But I hope they follow up on it next time. And I really hope they follow up on Dr. King knowing the Powells have powers.

V - Thanks for toning down the violence last night. My stomach was grateful. Other then that, it moved things forward a little, but very slowly. About the only thing it really moved forward was the one V's loyalty. He's completely back in Anna's camp now. That's going to spell big trouble for our heroes down the road. And speaking of trouble, I don't think we're going to get a resolution by the time the season is over. And since I don't expect the show to be back next year, that means we'll probably be left with a never to be resolved cliffhanger. Please, prove me wrong, producers. Please!

Wipeout - Boo, seven letter work was back! I really don't find that obstacle all that fun. However, I laughed at so many of the nicknames and puns this week. Overall, enjoyable.

Nikita - It was interesting to watch Alex's relationship with her neighbor play out. Everyone was against it, but then Nikita starts to soften. I'm curious to see how they will play that out. It was also interesting to see a story where Division appeared to come into things late. That was a nice change of pace. But when they came into things, they came in in a big way.

Royal Pains - So, just to prove me wrong, this episode was more about the medical cases then it was about the main characters. Yes, there was the Jank development, but that was about all. And I loved it. Whether this show is about the characters or the medicine, it's great fun.

Fairly Legal - And it was followed by another great show here, too. I knew things were going to easily when it looked like we had a settlement before the 15 minute mark. But I never saw the fake chef angle coming. And the rest of the plots were good as well. I still don't see Kate's animosity toward her step-mom, but that's really my only complaint with the show.

The Big Bang Theory - It's episodes like this that remind me why I didn't get into this show years ago. Not that I was surprised given the subject matter. Really, when an episode is all about sex, how can it not make me uncomfortable?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Joining the Choir

So here's something I haven't blogged about yet.  I've joined my church's choir, at least for the next few months.

It's something I've thought about off and on for years, but I've never had the nerve to do.  Frankly, part of it is because the director at my last church scared me.  And partially because I really struggle to sing anything other than melody.  And as a guy, I will pretty much always sing harmony.

But my friend Joe is in the choir, and he was bugging me to join.  It seemed like a good way to meet some people in the church as well.

We rehearse every other week on Thursday night, so last night was our second rehearsal.  It's going about like I expected.  I've been practicing with a CD that has nothing but my part on it.  I feel fairly confident with it.  But as soon as I was trying to sing with the rest of the choir, I lost my notes and my confidence.  I was pretty frustrated and not sure how to go about learning my music so I can do this well.

To further complicate matters, we are supposed to be memorizing the songs.  I think I can do that, but again, I'm not that sure.

Our first time singing in church this spring is in two weeks.  I'm going to have to put a lot of work in between now and then if I even have a hope of doing it and doing it well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Word Association for February 10th

Here's this week's word association.

  1. Trash :: Treasure
  2. Abs :: Sit-ups
  3. Dating :: Service
  4. Hooked :: Fan
  5. Face :: Head
  6. Algebra :: Math
  7. Reading :: Fun!
  8. Horrendous :: Subject
  9. Looks :: Aren't Everything
  10. Python :: Snake

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Disney Trip

So, back before I got sick, I went to Disneyland.  It had all started because my roommate Daniel was going to be there and wanted someone to hang out with.  However, he turned out to be very busy and we didn't really see him.  Instead, I spent the day with Angelique and Brian.  Brian has just started working there, so he was able to get us in for free.  And we could go to both parks.

Naturally, that meant we were hopping back and forth between the parks, although we only made the crossing twice each.  We managed to hit the big rides at both parks, which was a huge plus.  And we got to see Aladdin one more time before it leaves the park.  I'm going to miss that show.

I was surprised at just how crowded it was.  I thought the end of January it would be fairly empty.  But it was a Saturday, and the week before it had been gorgeous, so that probably brought a lot of people out who wouldn't normally come out.

We didn't get there when the park opened, but we did close it out at 11.  And we never made it over to Fantasyland.  We'll have to fix that when we go back at the end of February for Master's Day at Disneyland.  And I hope it's a little less crowded this time, too.

Monday, February 07, 2011

A Week of Sickness

I mentioned in my post Saturday that I was sick this last week.  It all started Monday afternoon at work.  Suddenly, my nose started to feel like it was just draining.  I figured I was having a bad allergy attack, so I still went down to LAX to pick up Daniel and stop by The Mystery Bookstore party.

That night lying in bed not sleeping, I figured out that I was running a fever.  Sure enough, the thermometer agreed with me on that.  So I took the next three days off work.  The fever actually broke Wednesday night, but I took Thursday off to make sure I got better.

What amazes me is how much better I'm feeling now.  Normally, when I get a bad cough with a cold like this, I am lucky if I get rid of the cough in the next month.  This one is pretty much gone.  I woke up without in on Saturday.  I've had one or two bad coughs since then, but nothing like I normally have.  And I can breathe so free and clear.  Praise God!

I'm just hoping I didn't get Daniel sick.  Naturally, that was his week at home between groups.  I will feel very guilty if he winds up being sick as a result of being home that week.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Weekly TV Recap for February 5th

Wow, a whole week between posts.  I spent most of the week sick, and I just didn't feel like blogging.  But I did still watch TV.

Chuck - At first blush, I really liked this episode. So much action, so much humor. The part with Ellie and Awesome having their baby was a riot, especially how Ellie had everything together and Awesome was falling apart. This would have been their last episode if the show hadn't been picked up for more of the season, that explains the rest. The resolution of the spy plot felt too rushed. However, I love the fact that Sarah and Chuck are back together. Watching them apart was too painful.

White Collar - Much better than last week's episode. The way they worked out getting the hard drive at the end was lots of fun. And for once, nothing happened with the music box plot. I'm sure they'll pick that back up next week.

V - They are really going for those disturbing images this season. If I didn't think the show would be ending this year, I might actually consider giving it up. Tone back on the violence, okay?

Royal Pains - Evan dodged another bullet with Paige. And I really wonder where they are going with Divya's storyline. She can't leave, but how are they going to get her out of that wedding. I think Adam is too easy. There's got to be something else. And I'm wondering if Emily will turn on Hank now that he broke up with her. So much good stuff with so many storylines. Great show as always.

Wipeout - I love this show when the puns are good, and this week's were great. I especially loved the puns for Charlie Brown since I am a Peanuts fan. Heck, I wanted him to go longer just to hear more puns. Plus they replaced 7 Letter Word. Happy all the way around.

The Big Bang Theory - I knew Penny teaching Sheldon acting was going to be funny. I just never saw that ending coming. Absolutely classic. I could take or leave Raj's crush on Bernadette at the moment. If they continue with that, we'll see where it leads.

Nikita - My guess is, if I knew who the regular writers on the show were, this one would have been written by guest writers. It was pretty much a stand alone with no real forward advancement of any of the storylines. Do I care? Not in the slightest. That was a cool episode. Watching Nikita take on the odds and win handily every time is so cool. Although that last scene makes it look like Michael is going to be suspicious of Alex. That could be serious trouble in the weeks to come.

Fairly Legal - So, remember what I said last week about hoping the show didn't pull solutions out of nowhere every week? They didn't do it this week. In fact, it was so well set up that I actually cheered when they gave the dad his consequences. And the sub-plot about her ex-husband finding a present for her birthday was funny. I was surprised that they didn't so something about the mystery person in the will this week, but I'm sure we'll get more next week.