Wednesday, February 28, 2007

March 1st, the second best day of the year

March 1st. In just three hours, the first day of March will be here.

Around our home, March 1st is the second biggest day of the year.

It's Mrs. JC's birthday.

We start the festivities in February, when the beautiful wife begins giving me the countdown of shopping days until her birthday.

The last day of February is what I like to call Kimber's Eve. The excitement is in the air here.

Tomorrow is it. The birthday.

This year, my lovely bride turns thirty-three. We both have to work, but the party will start at five. She'll open her gifts and Number One Son and I will take her out to the restaurant of her choice. This year, it's Red Lobster.

(actually, most year's it's Red Lobster-she loves the seafood lover in herself, but I'm not the biggest seafood fan, so we usually go once or twice a year).

Than a night of fun. I can't reveal all, because she's my only reader and we don't want to ruin any surprises.

But it's a great day and we try to make our number one girl feel as special as she is.

I hope everybody out there will celebrate March 1st in some way, in honor of my gorgeous wife.

Happy Birthday, baby!

Be seeing you.

February, You Suck!

Now, I don't believe in curses, and I don't consider myself to have bad luck. I'm an optimist. Maybe too much so if you listen to Mrs. JC.

And this isn't bitching or whining. It's just stating some simple facts.

For the last seven or eight years, February has been a bitch.

If we had any financial problems in the past, it happened in February.

If we did our taxes and owed money, it happened in February.

Accidents? February.

Injuries? February.

Bad weather? February.

Just take a peak at February 2007 here at the Dung Heap.

A relatively mild winter turns into a blitzkrieg of snow. And, of course, on the second day of ten or twelve in a row with snow, my snowblower breaks. Now, it still works. But the piece that holds the rod in place that controls the blower part breaks, so the blower moves as you push it, meaning I have to stop every three feet and readjust it.

Not complaining, because it's still quicker than shoveling. But it broke, and it broke in February.

My wife discovers she's pregnant. A positive test. Four hours later, she gets a period. A miscarriage after five months of trying. February.

Driving along for work with maybe half an inch o' snow on the ground and this guy pulls out right in front of me. February. I will say that my car only had some paint chipping on the bumper compared to the damage to his, but still. An accident? February.

Sunday night the emergency lights on my dashboard come on. That isn't so bad, until you are told that my car was off and the key out. Monday morning I come out at six in the a.m. and the battery is dead. February.

I get it towed in. My place fixes it. Very cheap, all things considered. I pick it up Tuesday night and take her home. This morning I come out, start her up, and within thirty seconds all the lights go out. It drives, but no dash lights. No turn signals. No radio working. No interior lights, and no headlights. I take it back to the shop, and three hours later they fix it.


Bad cold? February.

I get sick maybe once a year. I'm talking bad flu. And when it happens, 9 times out o' ten it will happen guessed it, February.

I hate the month. My wife hates the month. It just never is good for us here at the Dung Heap.

And in three hours, it's over, thank whatever deity you wish to.

Which leads me to my next posting.

Be seeing you (very soon)

Monday, February 26, 2007

50/50 Chance I'll Be Half Right Part of the Time

Oscars 2007 are a thing of the past now.

A very good show. It kept me entertained for the four hours, and I enjoyed Ellen as host. Enough minor upsets to keep you paying attention.

Speaking of paying attention, I hope my faithful readers didn't. Out of 24 Oscar predictions, I only got twelve right. 50%.

That is, by far, the worst I've ever done. Good in a way that it was not a predictable evening, but still. I have too much pride to be happy with .500 picking.

Missed out on the big one for only the third time in my prediction career. First two were because I went against the actors (1998 & 2005), last night because I went with them. I did feel back in December/January that Departed might get the top prize by riding on Marty's coattails. But that wasn't my prediction, so it doesn't matter.

Oh well, you can't win them all. Besides, the uber-prestigious Jeff Awards are the only movie awards that really count ;)

Early work tomorrow, me must sleep (to quote Cookie Monster). I'll be back soon with a highly anticipated piece on why February sucks.

Quick hits:

-Nice late win for Man United on Saturday, but those 89th minute winners make me nervous. Still, top o' the table with ten to go.

-Pretty exciting Carling Cup final Sunday, with Chelsea beating out Arsehole for the first domestic cup of the season in Eng-er-land.

-Of the nominees, we've only seen The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. I did like Departed more, and thought it was a great film.

-What's up with all the awesome tunes on Grey's Anatomy? Mrs. JC watches the show each week and has been downloading several tunes she first heard there. I'm not a fan, but with music like that I might start paying more attention.

Be Seeing You.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: A mix CD I burned to help inspire me for my next writing project screenplay. A bunch of good tunes such as "Displaced" by Azure Blue, "Passenger Seat" "Transatlantic", and "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab for Cutie, "Turn of the Century" by Pete Yorn, and a couple from Modest Mouse, "It Always Rains on a Picnic" and "Edit the Sad Parts".

WHAT I'M READING: Same thing. Issue 150 of FourFourTwo

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Just finished Celtic v. AC Milan, now up to my seventh Champions League game, Inter v. Valencia

Not much new here on the ole dung heap, so just tossing out some things floating in my head.

1. Got a cold. Colds suck. But I cannot recommend enough that the second you feel it coming, drink plenty o' liquids and make sure you take Zicam. It comes in many different forms. I would stay away from the chewable, because it's like chalk, and also stay away from the rapid melts, also like chalk. But, it works. I've used it for my last two colds, and both were gone in about 30 hours. Also, both were very mild. A tip from ole JC.

2. Only seven shopping days until Mrs. JC's birthday. The big 33. Ever since we started dating, she has always given me a countdown in February "Only (insert number here) shopping days until my birthday". I love it. However, and don't tell her this, I've already got her gifts. Had them about a week now.

3. March 3rd is the brother-in-law's marriage. Wish the couple well. They've been dating almost as long as we have. We got married after 19 months, and they are now getting married. Tis a beautiful thing.

4. DC United opened up the CONCACAF Champions Cup with a decisive 4-1 win on the road, making the second leg a mere formality. Good job, United!

5. Bought H&R Block TaxCut for the computer to do our taxes this year. $59 and you get one federal, one state, and an e-file for each. Very simple to use. Didn't get the result we wanted, but can't blame the software for that. Also, cheaper than just about any place you go. I recommend it.

6. Oscars are this Sunday. I'm sticking with my picks, but starting to read some strong mo for The Departed. I can't go against the actors, as I stated before, but wouldn't mind seeing Departed take the top prize.

7. Snow is melting. Temps are rising. Sun is shining. Days are getting longer. Can almost smell spring in the air.

8. Speaking of spring, what the hell is up with daylight savings time being moved up into March this year? What's the point of the whole thing if you can just move it around randomly.

9. Britney shaved her head. Big whoop. She's having a breakdown, who cares. I just find it amazing that she's managed to make her money hungry ex hubby look like the good parent coming out of this.

10. The end of days is here! Jersey grants legal marriage rights to gay couples! Whatever shall we do? Look, gay marriage is no big deal. Two people are in love, and consenting adults, let them marry. It's not like the gay population can do any more damage to the institution than we breeders have. I'll never understand all the hullabaloo over this non-issue.

That's all I got.

Be seeing you.

Monday, February 19, 2007

We Are the Champions(League) My Friends! And I'll Keep on Posting Till the End!

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: The album "9" by Damien Rice. Great CD. Heavy featuring on the songs "9 crimes", "grey room" "accidental babies" and "sleep don't weep". Also jamming out to Cake's "Comfort Eagle" song.

WHAT I'M READING: Newest issue of FourFourTwo with Becks on the cover.

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Mrs. JC and I just finished The Black Dahlia. I've flushed better shit than that. Don't waste your time. It sucks. The acting sucks like I've never seen in a big studio film. The directing sucks. The story sucks. Will probably be the worst 2006 release I watch. If somebody gives you the choice of watching it or having your genitals removed by a epileptic with rusty scissors and a bad cause of glaucoma, I'd say you really don't need your gens that bad.

The UEFA Champions League resumes tomorrow, and I'm pumped up. Thanks to the addition of Setanta Sports coupled with the coverage on ESPN2, I'll be able to watch seven of the eight games in the next two days.

For those not in the know, for shame. The Champions League is a European cup competition. You win your league, your in it the next year. Also, in the bigger leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, etc) teams who finish in the top three or four get in.

The first stage involves 32 clubs divided into eight groups. You play each club twice (home and away) and the top two clubs after the six games advance to the knockout rounds.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the knockout rounds. Picture every game being like a Super Bowl, only actually exciting and worth watching.

Here are the games, and my predictions. I'm predicting the clubs that will advance. It's a two-legged series with aggregate goals deciding the winners. I'm not bothering with predicting both legs, just who will advance to the next round.

1. Celtic (Scotland Premier League) v. AC Milan (Italian Serie A)

MY PICK: AC Milan. Celtic are a good club, having played very well in the same group as my Man United, and I think they'll make a run for it. But Milan are just a bit too good in Europe for me to bet against them.

2. Lille (France Ligue Un) v. Manchester United (English Premier League)

MY PICK: Manchester United. I don't see Man United going all the way in 2007, but they have too much talent not to get past a good Lille side.

3. PSV Eindhoven (Dutch ErieDivisie) v. Arsenal (English Premier League)

MY PICK: Arsenal. Would pay top dollar to see Arsehole get knocked out at this stage, but I can't even fathom it happening. Too much talent out there for the Dutch leaders, who are in the middle of their own slump.

4. Real Madrid (Spanish La Liga) v. Bayern Munich (German Bundesliga)

MY PICK: Bayern Munich. Tough one to call. Bayern are having their worst season in Germany in a long time, but Madrid ain't doin' much better. They seem to have made a habit of struggling against lower table sides. It'll be a tough one, but in the end unless Madrid shape up, I see them shipping out.

5. Barcelona (Spanish La Liga) v. Liverpool (English Premier League)

MY PICK: Barcelona. Should be the series of the round. Two great clubs. That being said, Barca are the defending champions and rolling along in Spain. Liverpool? Not as such.

6. FC Porto (Portugal) v. Chelsea (English Premier League)

MY PICK: Chelsea. Roman's billions are being spent mainly with the goal of lifting that huge trophy in May. The biggest cup that Jose Mourinhou has not brought to Stamford Bridge. I don't see them falling to the smaller side.

7. Inter Milan (Italian Serie A) v. Valencia (Spanish La Liga)

MY PICK: Valencia. Inter are top of the Italian tables, but I'm not completely sold on them advancing here. Valencia are top notch and I just got a feeling.

8. Roma (Italian Serie A) v. Lyon (French Ligue Un)

MY PICK: Lyon. They've won the French league four in a row, and are looking towards five. Yes, they've been average since December, but I think that'll change here. Can't see Roma taking this one at all.

For those lucky few, here's the TV schedule for the next three days.

Lille v. Manchester United (Setanta LIVE at 2:30 pm)
PSV Eindhoven v. Arsenal (ESPN2 LIVE at 2:30 pm)
Real Madrid v. Bayern Munich (Setanta and ESPNClassic delayed at 5pm)

Barcelona v. Liverpool (Setanta LIVE at 2:30 pm)
FC Porto v. Chelsea (ESPN2 LIVE at 2:30 pm)
Inter Milan v. Valencia (Setanta delayed at 9 pm)

Celtic v. AC Milan (Setanta delayed at 3:30 pm)

Happy viewing.

Be Seeing You.

We Hardly Knew Ye

I'll never meet you. I'll never hold you in my arms. You'll never stand on the toilet and watch me shave like Jude does. I'll never give you a bath, or blow on your belly while changing your diaper. We'll never applaud your first steps. We'll never lie in bed, smiling, talking about the cool things you did today. There will never be a first for anything. I'll never know your smile, or feel your tiny hands around my neck. I'll never sit in a car in a driveway watching you breathe in the rearview mirror as you nap. I'll never feel your kisses on my cheek. So many things will never happen now.

I'll never forget you. I'll never stop loving you.

Goodbye, sweet child I'll never know.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine's Day & Stuff

WHAT I'M LISTENING TO: Sigur Ros, a mixture of Takk and ( ), with a heavy emphasis on Heysatan.

WHAT I'M READING: "Fiasco: A History of Hollywood's Iconic Flops" by James Robert Parish

WHAT I'M WATCHING: Heading into the second half of the UEFA Cup first leg betwixt Espanyol and Livorno. On the DVD, it was the excellent documentary "Heroes: Legends of World Class" (as a child, my brother and I were big pro wrestling fans; the story of the Texas based World Class area's rise to glory, and the horrible downfall of the Von Erich family is a tragedy of Greek proportions-if you were a wrestling fan, it's a great one; even if you hate wrestling, this is a very moving look at a tragic series of events).

Yesterday was the eighth Valentine's Day my wife and I have spent together. The first two as a dating couple, and the last six as Mister and Missus. I don't go as all out as I use to, but at the same time, my feelings for her have only gotten stronger each and every year.

I was not the guy who gets married. My teen years were spent assuming that I lacked the qualities a woman would find attractive. So I lived with a feeling that the best I could get was unrequited love. Of course I liked many different girls in school. But I could never convince myself that asking them out would do any good. Low self-esteem and such. I look back and regret it. There were woman that probably would have said yes. I don't mean that in general, I mean that people would say "You really should ask such and such out. She likes you, Ace" or "Why don't you ask out this girl, she'll do anything for a hot meal, Slick". Yeah, in my memory my friends called me Ace and Slick. In reality, nope. But in my memory. And why shouldn't I remember things like I want them to be?

After high school, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, I did have some okay qualities that some desperate gal would like enough to eat one hot, free meal with. I realized how stupid it was to avoid dating during my school years. What was the worst that could happen if I asked a girl out?

I found out.

First girl I ever asked out for a real date laughed. Now, I don't think she laughed at the notion of going out with me. I think it was more of a nervous reflexive action. Like I caught her off guard and it was very awkward. But still. When you go through all those years of public schooling believing that you just aren't dating material, then finally work up the nerve to ask somebody out, and the response is laughter, it wounds the fragile ego.

Eventually, I did get a good response to the question "Wanna go eat or something?" As time went on, I gained confidence. Each date was a learning experience. They all didn't go great, but I look back on almost all of them fondly. It was those dates, and what I got out of them, that helped me find my Kimbers.

Some girls stand out more than others. Not always for the right reasons. There was the gal that took my virginity (at the ripe old age of 22!). At the time, I thought I loved her. What I loved was the freedom we had together. She was four years older. We had a writing class together. Talking with her came easier than just about anybody else I'd met. We hit it off wonderfully, and that first month was a blast. She lived in an apartment, so we didn't have to worry about any outside interference. It was just two people getting to know each other. But in late October 1996 my father had a near fatal heart attack. It was bad. It was a miracle that he lived. In fact, the doctor told us to prepare for his death, because he'd never seen anybody in that shape survive. It really rocked my world. I felt like I was falling, and needed something to break the fall, something to hold on to. That became her. It was way too much for a month old relationship to handle. What I needed, she just wasn't ready to give. The second month was all down hill. By New Years Day, it was over.

Looking back, I understand that everything going on in my life at home led to me taking it harder than I would have, or should have. I had to pick myself back up. But I came back stronger than ever. For whatever reason (possibly the sex), I had much more confidence with women. I started asking more girls out. I wasn't nervous about it at all. Dating is a very fun thing, and I got great enjoyment from it.

It was Christmas Eve when I first encountered the woman I would marry. I was single again after a recent breakup. I spent the night with family and friends, all who were married. I was 25 and alone. Going back to my apartment, alone, I logged onto AOL. On the homepage was a mini-ad about "finding love for the holidays". On a whim, since I wasn't tired, I checked it out. The second profile I came across was this beautiful woman. I read her info, and everything jibed with my own likes/dislikes. I decided to send off an e-mail. Three days later, she responded. We hit it off, via e-mails, immediately. We had almost the exact same interests.

On January 5, 2000, we had our first official date, where we first officially met. I entered the chinese restaurant and spotted this beautiful red head sitting there. I approached her and said "Kim?". The woman said no. But it was her. After the best first date of my life, we went out again the next night to a comedy show in St. Joe, Michigan. Two nights later, she came over to my apartment and I made dinner. The next night we went to the movies. Since that first date in January 2000, there have only been two days where we didn't see each other. By Valentine's Day, I moved into her apartment. On our sixth month anniversary, I proposed.

On August 11, 2001 we got married. On September 29, 2002 we moved into our first house. In November 2003 we found out we were preggers, and on July 30, 2004 our first child was born, the famous Number One Son.

All along the way, we've grown together. I cherish every single moment of every day that we spend together. I look at her and see a bright future, and a past that was worth all the heartbreak and anxiety. Each step on the dating path led me to her, so I will always be grateful to those girls. I would not have been the man my wife fell in love with without those experiences.

So I could spend the next hour typing out words to show what she means to me, and how I feel about her. But it can be summed up in four little words. I love you, Kimbers.

Always will. I look forward to growing old and gray with you, and looking back on a lifetime of happy memories.

To steal from Sinead O'Connor:
You are only
My love, my love
My love.

Happy Valentine's Day to all the lovers out there.

Be seeing you.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Oscar Predictions 2007

I am a huge fan of film. So is Mrs. JC. We've been regular Oscar viewers since 2000, when we began dating.

I've been watching the Oscars since 1991. Haven't missed a show. I don't get big into the whole "awards season" thing, but I enjoy watching the nominations and the Oscar show. We sometimes have friends over to view, and sometimes just the two of us watch. But we enjoy it.

Being a big movie fan, and a big Oscar fan, I enjoy making my own predictions each year. And now, through the power of the blog, the predictions will become public knowledge.

Let me first say that I've seen very few of the Oscar nominated films. I've watched The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, United 93, and Cars. That's it. So I'm basing most of my predictions on either (a)award show season and how the Academy works historically AND (b) pure guessing.

So here they are, Ole JC's Oscar Predictions 2007!

I'm getting those categories that I know nothing about out of the way immediately. The short films. Always a guess here, because I don't honestly believe anybody has seen any of these films, not even the directors.

ANIMATED SHORT FILM: The Danish Poet, Lifted, The Little Matchgirl, Maestro, and No Time For Nuts.
JC PREDICTS: Toss up between two for me, as Maestro sounds prestigious and No Time for Nuts could be funny. For an animated short, I'll guess No Time For Nuts.

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM: Binta and the Great Idea, Eramos Pocos, Helmer and Son, The Saviour, and West Bank Story
JC PREDICTS: No friggin' clue. I dunno, maybe West Bank Story

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT: The Blood of Yingzhou District, Recycled Life, Rehearsing a Dream, and Two Hands.
JC PREDICTS: The Blood of Yingzhou District. It sounds important, likes it's about something. Just a guess, really. My lifetime average in guessing these categories is probably about 5%, tops.

On to the awards I'm a little better with.

ANIMATED FEATURE: Cars, Happy Feet, and Monster House
JC PREDICTS: Cars. Not just because I've actually seen it, but it's state of the art computer animation combined with a good story.

ORIGINAL SONG: "I Need to Wake Up", "Listen", "Love You I Do", "Our Town", and "Patience"
JC PREDICTS: Well, it's gonna be one of the three Dreamgirls songs. The Academy obviously loves this film. I haven't heard any of them, so I'm just gonna put my money on Love You I Do, for no real reason.

ORIGINAL SCORE: Babel, The Good German, Notes on a Scandal, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Queen.
JC PREDICTS: The Queen. I believe it won the Globe, and most Academy members will probably just check it off because of that.

COSTUME DESIGN: Curse of the Golden Flower, The Devil Wears Prada, Dreamgirls, Marie Antoinette, and The Queen
JC PREDICTS: Dreamgirls. Again, they love this film. Plus, fancy show biz costumes going over several years. You can automatically write off The Queen, and people seemed to hate Marie Antoinette so won't give it a shot. Asian type films do well here, but I can't see it beating the popular Dreamgirls.

VISUAL EFFECTS: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Poseidon, and Superman Returns
JC PREDICTS: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It's really a two film race here, as Poseidon sunk. I just see them going with the hugely popular money maker over a Superman film that underperformed.

SOUND EDITING: Apocalypto, Blood Diamon, Flags of our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
JC PREDICTS: I'll go with Letters from Iwo Jima. I don't know what the difference is in the sound categories. However, the Academy likes to give each Best Picture nominee at least one award on the night, and this is probably Letters best bet.

SOUND MIXING: Apocalypto, Blood Diamon, Dreamgirls, Flags of Our Fathers, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
JC PREDICTS: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Seems like a big sound movie to me.

ART DIRECTION: Dreamgirls, The Good Shepherd, Pan's Labyrinth, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and The Prestige
JC PREDICTS: Dreamgirls. Again, they love it. Plus, many are probably feeling bad about it not getting the Best Picture nomination. Outside shot that Pan's Labyrinth could sneak in, though.

MAKE-UP: Apocalypto, Click, Pan's Labyrinth
JC PREDICTS: Pan's Labyrinth. I feel supremely confident on this one.

FILM EDITING: Babel, Blood Diamond, Children of Men, The Departed, United 93
JC PREDICTS: Tough one to call, really. I'm gonna guess Babel because it juggles a few stories. But I really think United 93 could get past it.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Deliver Us from Evil, An Inconvenient Truth, Iraq in Fragments, Jesus Camp, and My Country My Country
JC PREDICTS: On paper, it looks like a landslide for An Inconvenient Truth. A hot button current issue, and a film that won critical praise and box office. So I'm predicting that to win. However, I think Deliver Us from Evil has an outside shot to pull the upset here.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Borat, Children of Men, The Departed, Little Children, and Notes on a Scandal
JC PREDICTS: Tough call here too. I would say Borat, because they want to give Sacha Baron Cohen something. But comedies don't do well, and what exactly is it adapted from? Little Children is a prestige piece, but maybe too small. So my predict is this The Departed.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Queen.
JC PREDICTS: Babel. All Best Picture nominees will win something, and I believe the Academy wants to honor this one with a major award. Oft-times in recent years, the original screenplay category has become a sort of Best Picture runner-up award. Pulp Fiction in 1994, Fargo in 1996 are two off the top of my head.

CINEMATOGRAPHY: The Black Dahlia, Children of Men, The Illusionist, Pan's Labyrinth, and The Prestige
JC PREDICTS: Pan's Labyrinth. The Black Dahlia is supposed to be gorgeous to look at, but I'm going with the more popular pick here.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: After the Wedding, Days of Glory, The Lives of Others, Pan's Labyrinth, and Water
JC PREDICTS: Pan's Labyrinth. No brainer. Take it to the bank and cash it.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Adriana Barraza, Cate Blanchett, Abigail Breslin, Jennifer Hudson, and Rinko Kikuchi
JC PREDICTS: Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls. This is usually the category for an upset, but I can't see who else has a real shot. She's got the rags to riches story, and she's won everything so far.

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Alan Arkin, Jackie Earle Haley, Djimon Hounsou, Eddie Murphy, and Mark Wahlberg
JC PREDICTS: I'm taking the easy road here with Eddie Murphy from Dreamgirls, because I have doubts that the sheep will stray from every award before them. However, my mind keeps saying there will be an upset, and I'm not sold that Murphy is popular enough with his fellow actors. Not to mention this is his first "real" role in a long time after making family oriented box office films. I could see the upset here. Who would it be? Arkin wasn't around long enough in his film and Haley is the "honor just to be nominated" guy. Hounsou? I don't see it. I would not be shocked if Marky Mark Wahlberg picked this one up. He stole every scene he was in and the film had a galaxy of actors in it.

ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep, and Kate Winslet
JC PREDICTS: Who are we kidding here, if Helen Mirren from The Queen doesn't win, I'll demand a recount. There hasn't been an Oscar favorite like this since Schindler's List.

ACTOR: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Peter O'Toole, Will Smith, and Forest Whitaker
JC PREDICTS: Because he's won everything so far, Forest Whitaker in Last King of Scotland. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Mr. O'Toole win it. He's been nominated eight times, and lost them all. They might give him the Al Pacino sympathy vote here. I don't think it will happen, but of all the "upset possibilities", this is the best chance. There is almost always one surprise winner in the major categories.

DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood, Stephen Frears, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Paul Greengrass, and Martin Scorsese
JC PREDICTS: Martin Scorsese, finally. Five previous nominations and no wins for the man regarded as our best director. This is his year. He got the DGA Award, and I cannot imagine they would deny him a sixth time. He probably would have got it in 2002 for Gangs of New York if the campaign didn't turn voters off. Every Best Picture nominee gets one award, and this is The Departed's best shot.

BEST PICTURE: Babel, The Departed, Letters from Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen
JC PREDICTS: Originally, I really thought that Departed would do the director/picture combo here. After the Globes, I sensed that Babel was gaining speed, and began to lean that way. But after the Screen Actor's Guild Award (and the Producer Guild Awards), I'm going with Little Miss Sunshine. In some ways, it seems to trite to be a real contender. But I've learned not to vote against the actors. See, they make up the largest number of the Academy votes. That explains how Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan in 1998 and how Crash beat Brokeback Mountain last year. A movie that showcases actors tends to get their favor. It also explains the worst travesty in Oscar history (Roberto Benigni winning the Actor prize in 1998 because he was a huge hit at parties with the actors). You win over the actor's, they'll vote for you. And the fact that they gave Little Miss Sunshine their top award makes me lean that way here. I wouldn't be surprised to see Babel win it, but I've been burned in my predictions too often by voting against the actors to do it this year. Babel would be my second guess.

That's it. The show is on Sunday February 25th on ABC. I'll update how I did that Monday.

Be Seeing You

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random Thoughts (Or How I Learned To Stop Smiling and Hate the Snow)

Tuesday evening. The day before Valentine's Day. It's been snowing since roughly November of 1983.

Okay, not really. But it feels like that. I bought a snow blower back in December, because we have a lot of sidewalk (corner lot) and driveway. A long winter and my back is hurting through the Spring. For the first month, I didn't need to even touch the snow blower. It just sat there, without so much as a drop of gas in it. All that changed about three weeks ago. Now I'm out there at least once, and often twice a day. Whomever invented the snow blower deserves our eternal respect, and it was the best three hundred bucks I've spent in a good long time. But I'm sick of using it.

I'm sick of the cold. It hit me hard when I was grateful today that it was twenty, because that was almost forty degrees warmer than this time last week. Twenty should never be forty degrees warmer than anything. I'm sick of the snow. Got off of work today, and there was roughly four to five inches waiting for me (insert my wife's homoerotic joke here). Blew it all away, went and picked up Number One Son. Mrs. JC got home, we had dinner, the boy and I watched some Elmo, and than it was back outside for round two. Another four inches had fallen in those four hours. In some areas where the blowing drifted, it was taller than my blower.

So I'm done for the night, and looking forward to tomorrow, when I'll be out there again clearing off the driveway and walks. I've had enough. Winter could not end soon enough for me.


1. Had a great day with the family on Sunday, as we were all home with nothing to do except relax. Number One Son and I woke up around six and watched some soccer on the DVR. Breakfast, shower, some snow blowing, and some playing. Around three I sat down in the chair and he climbed onto my lap. He dozed off, and I soon followed. When our eyes finally opened, it was after five. I'm not a nap kind of guy. Rarely, and I mean rarely, take them. But this was one of the all-time great naps. Few things make me feel more special than when Number One Son feels so comfortable and close to "Daddy" that he falls asleep on me.

2. Number One Son doesn't really care much for TV, which is good. He'll watch some soccer with the old man, but that's about it most of the time. However, he's fallen in love with the "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" movie since Mrs. JC bought it for him two weeks ago. The boy is nuts for the Elmo. He takes it to daycare (I'm sure our daycare provider loves us everyday for that one) and he asks to watch it every night. "Elmo! Elmo!" he chants while dancing with the DVD in hand.

It's actually a pretty good little film. He absolutely lights up whenever Elmo is on screen, and talks back at the right times. The Muppets and Sesame Street were favorites of mine as a kid, and still are something special. Learning combined with fun and a good sense of humor.

I was one of those guys who mocked the Barney's and Elmo's years ago before I had a kid. But after seeing the boy light up at the movie, and seeing how excited he was when we took him to see "Elmo's Coloring Book" live on stage in January, I'm a convert. Good lessons and funny characters. If Elmo is good enough for my son, he's more than good enough for me.

3. March 2nd is the date. "Zodiac", the new film from David Fincher comes out. I'm a huge fan of the books about Zodiac by Robert Graysmith. I've read both several times and find them both spooky and interesting. The trailer I've seen leads me to believe that this movie will be just as good. I've been waiting a long time for this, over a year. Cannot wait to see it on the big screen.

4. Weekend Football Update. Here are the results of the games I watched this weekend.

Hannover 96 2-Wolfsburg 2

Queens Park Rangers 0-Southend United 5

Manchester United 2-Charlton Athletic 0

Real Sociedad 1-Real Madrid 2 (probably the best game of the weekend)

ADO Den Haag 1-Ajax Amsterdam 2

Bolton Wanderers 2-Fulham 1

Chievo Verona 0-Inter Milan 2

Bordeaux 1-Marseille 0

UEFA Cup starts up again tomorrow. JC cannot wait.

Be seeing you.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Planet Football This Weekend

Here is what's on tap for the ole DVR and ole JC this weekend from Planet Football:

German Bundesliga
Hannover 96 v. Vfl. Wolfsburg (GolTV)

Coca-Cola League Championship
Queens Park Rangers v. Southend United (Setanta)

English Premiership
Manchester United v. Charlton Athletic (Fox Soccer Channel)

Spanish La Liga
Real Sociedad v. Real Madrid (GolTV)

Dutch Eriedivisie
ADO Den Haag v. Ajax Amsterdam (Setanta)

English Premiership
Bolton Wanderers v. Fulham (Setanta)

Italian Serie A
Chievo Verona v. Inter Milan (GolTV)

French Le Championnet
Bordeaux v. Marseille (replay of Sunday game-Setanta)

Not to mention the EPL Review Show and the Coca-Cola League Review Show on Monday, and I'm in Heaven here on Planet Football.

Plus, starting Wednesday, the UEFA Cup jumps back into life after the long winter break. And the Champions League will be re-starting week next.

Quick Hits:
-Congrats to our boys, as the US beat Mexico 2-nil on Wednesday. Yes, yet another 2-nil US victory over our bitches South of the Border.

-Congrats to Real Salt Lake, who got the final approval from the state of Utah to build their stadium in Sandy, Utah. This deal was as good as dead just ten days ago, and Dave Checketts was looking to sell his club to Saint Louis. I am extremely glad to see the deal go through. RSL have enjoyed some great support from their Utah fans in the two seasons they've been around. I'd hate to see them leave the state. I hate seeing any MLS teams move. Great news, and big thumbs up to Mr. Checketts for not giving up.

-Congrats to Kansas City Wizards, who announced they will play at Arrowhead Stadium in 2007. This was looking like a major disaster for the new ownership group, as the club had no home for the season starting in just two months. With Arrowhead getting renovated, they had to go elsewhere. Which would have meant a pro team playing on a college or, worse yet, high school pitch for two seasons. Still hoping they get a stadium okayed soon, and hoping they start looking now for a proper place to play in 2008, as Arrowhead won't be able to bale them out.

-Colorado Rapids are making a major announcement as we speak. Rumor has the team changing names, which I hope doesn't happen. Colorado Arsenal isn't so bad, but (1)Name is not so bad that it needs to be changed, like Dallas Burn and San Jose Clash were AND (2) Nobody should associate with Arsehole of England.

The latest rumor, very late in the day, has them not changing the club name. That would be nice. They are changing colors of the kits, and the new design I've seen is very, very nice. I hope that goes through.

-Congrats to Toronto FC's front office and fanbase. Over 11,000 season tickets already sold, and the team has never kicked a ball! Add to that a brand new soccer stadium there, and it's looking like Major League Soccer was brilliant for heading to the Great White North.

That's all the footie news right now. I hope to post some more on my world this weekend.

Be Seeing You.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Man Behind the Shit

So, four posts in, it's about time to describe myself a bit.

I'm a husband to the beautiful Mrs. JC, also known as Barefoot Adult on her very own blog. I'm father to the wonderful Son of JC, now at 30 months.

I work at...well, to be honest, where I work isn't that important to me. Luckily, I'm not one of those guys driven by money. My job is just that, a job. A way to make enough money to pay the bills and such. I do my job, very well actually, but at the end of the shift I come home and forget about it.

I'm in my early thirties, and proud of it. Got some grey hairs on my head, and wear them with pride. I wear contacts.

No tattoos, as I hate them. Only jewelry I've ever worn, and ever will wear, is my wedding ring.

I'm not a big fashion guy. My wardrobe is basically pants or shorts (depending on the season) and a soccer jersey. I've got enough jerseys now that I can make it to the next wash cycle without wearing anything but.

I'm a man of simple pleasures. Outside of my soccer (eight games every weekend, a few during the week), I don't watch much TV. The wife and I are into Heroes, The Office, Scrubs, and My Name is Earl. I also DVR "Inside the UFC" every Thursday. Soccer and the UFC are the only sports I really follow. I do enjoy my TV shows on DVD. I'm the proud owner of every season of Good Times, every season of MASH, and the first seven seasons of Seinfeld. Just started collecting The X-Files. Have four seasons of NYPD Blue, and season one of Twin Peaks.

I love movies. Really became a fan on January 1, 1989. That day, while my family watched a Notre Dame bowl game, I went into my room and came across the movie "Ordinary People" on WGN. I thought it was brilliant, and it was that exact moment when films went beyond just another form of entertainment to me, and became an art form.

I love films, and I love watching the Academy Awards. I enjoy the whole award process, and that's why I started my own award (The Jeff Awards). I've got those on another blog. I've got a whole process to it. I create a list of 100 films from the year. I watch the 100 films. Then, I compile a list of nominees. I go back and re-watch the five films I've got up for Best Picture one more time, than "announce" the winners to the five or six people who give a rip. But I enjoy doing it.

I'm a big fan of music too. I enjoy all kinds. I especially get excited when I come across a musician who just knocks it out of the park. You know, when somebody just sings a song perfectly. So good that nobody should ever be allowed to sing it again, even in the shower. I've come across three such tunes in the last two years. "Turn of the Century" by Pete Yorn, "Bloody Motherf*cking A**hole" by Martha Wainwright, and "9 Crimes" by Damian Rice. I urge you to download them all right now and listen.

On a message board, I can debate politics. But I really don't like it. Too many doing too little for us. When a person's high paying job depends on your vote, chances are good they'll do anything to ensure getting that vote.

I love to laugh. I'm a quiet guy in person. I just don't do small talk well, so unless there's something to say, I shut up. I consider myself to be average looking, though Mrs. JC considers me hot. I did once have somebody say I looked like George Clooney, but I think he's wrong there.

I hate to shave, but the wife hates beards. We've come to the compromise. Now I've got the little goatee on the chin thing (is that a Van Dyke?), which she finds sexy.

My sense of humor leans towards the absurd. It's hard to write something funny for me, but people enjoy my sense of humor.

My friends and I are exceptionally cruel when together. Very much like the Seinfeld gang in that regard. There are, simply put, no lines to be crossed when we go out. Everything is fair game.

The whole videogame thing has passed me by, but I do enjoy relaxing with a computer game called "Worldwide Soccer Manager". It's a manager simulation game. You manage a soccer team, and that's it. You get the players ready to play, but when the 90 minutes kicks off, you can only watch them, just like a real manager. I also enjoy playing my Deal or No Deal PC game. But that's about it for games.

I love to read. Right now, I'm in a faze where I'm only reading non-fiction books. I like to know the facts behind the scenes.

I'm not particularly handy. When I get something to work, or build something, I feel a sense of pride.

Love writing. Writing screenplays. Have drifted away the last two years, with the family and everything, but still love it. My scripts tend to be realistic, I don't go for the happy ending unless it's the right ending, and I love to have a sudden ending. Not necessarily a twist or shocker, but I like things to just end. "The universe went out with a wimper, not a bang". I like people to be able to interpret different things from my scripts. I've also come to having only one word titles. Boiling it down to the barest essence. Simple, real stories. I'm very strong at dialogue. This year, I do plan to FINALLY submit a script.

I love yard work in the summer, but hate snow.

And that, basically, is me.

Be seeing you.

Super Sunday

Today is one Super Sunday here at the House of Dung (or is that the Dung Heap?).

Off of work. Mrs. JC is home as always, and Number One Son is here. So we spent the whole day just hanging out. Watched some soccer in the morning with the boy, watched a movie with the wife while the son slept on my lap, watched "The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland" with the boy later on, and did some general playing.

Completely super.

And not because of Super Bore XLIZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Could care less about that. Well, probably couldn't care less, actually.

See, the NFL is just about the most boring thing on Earth to me. It's pretty high on the boring sport-o-meter. In fact, here's the top five to me:

1. Golf-I'll never see why people watch this on TV. A guy stands there, hits a tiny white ball, and gets driven to where it landed. I enjoy playing golf, despite sucking, but that's different from watching somebody else play it. Outside of Keira Knightley being out there in a Catholic school girl outfit, I'll never watch golf on TV.

2. Baseball-How this ever became the "national pasttime" is beyond me. I've watched all nine innings and twenty hours of Ken Burn's PBS documentary just this past September, and still don't see an attraction to it. For the most part, it's guys standing around. One pitches, one catches, one hits and one or two field players get involved. Plus, with no time limit to the game, it literally can go on forever. Being bored with a pre-set time limit is one thing. Being bored without a time limit is completely different. Outside of Kate Winslet batting in a Catholic school girl outfit, I'll never again watch baseball on TV.

3. Cricket-I'll admit. It's unfair to call a sport I do not understand boring. Maybe if I understood it better, I'd enjoy it. But I just don't see that happening. Less activity than baseball, and a bigger club than golf doesn't make it any more exciting. Outside of Allyson Hannigan hitting a sticky wicket in a Catholic school girl outfit, I'll never watch cricket on TV.

4. American football-How this ever got so big in the States is beyond me. A sixty minute game played out over three hours with about ten minutes of actual action. Guy passes the ball, incomplete. Guy runs the ball for three yards. Commercial. Guy passes the ball for a eight yard gain. Another commercial. Factor in every single play gets about three replays and you've got eight minutes of an NFL game right there. Last time I watched a single second of NFL was the Super Bore where the Baltimore team played. Last time I watched a single second of a college football game was Bob Davies last home game for Notre Dame. Got free tickets via work, and went simply because I was too polite to reject them. Outside of Stacy Keibler running back a kickoff in a Catholic school girl outfit, I'll never watch NFL football on TV again.

5. NASCAR-I know it's simplifying things a bit, but for me this is just cars driving around in a circle for three hours. At the end of the race, the drivers get points based on how they finished, determined by some system that even the President of NASCAR doesn't understand, and they move on. I can fathom getting caught up in a team, even in the sports I don't care about, but I don't get how you have a favorite driver. Never will. I just picture myself driving down the road thinking "Guy in the red Toyota sure does switch lanes with ease and confidence, without endangering any lives. He's my favorite driver now".

"Where'd Dick Trickle finish? Twenty-third? He got one hundred and forty three points? Brings him up to nine hundred and fifteen. If he finishes the next race with three flat tires and crossing the finish line in a flaming, upside down car whilst standing on top saluting the flag, he'll get the bonus points and be in the race for the playoff spot!" Outside of the cheerleader girl from "Heroes" driving in a Catholic school girl outfit, I won't be tuning in.

I don't hate these sports. Worse, I just don't care about them. If people talk about them, I drown it out.

But I do hate all the Super Bore hype. For criminy sakes! Enough already. The local paper sunk to a journalistic low this past week when featuring front page stories covering not major political news, the deaths of soldiers in Iraq, what Congress is up to, or any thing locally. No. One day we had a front page story about a grandma who sewed a Colts jersey together with a Bears jersey for her grandson. Yes, really. That was front page news.

The next day we had a front page story about a lady who gave birth. Holy shit! Call USA Today! Somebody gave birth! That only happens like twenty times a day at any hospital anywhere globally. See, it was news because her husband is a Bears fan. So now he can watch the Super Bore instead of being with his wife giving birth.

I can only imagine the love felt by a woman who's husband can't be bothered with the birth of his child because an NFL game is on the tube. But now that's not a problem, because the kid was born three days early! Thank every deity known to man, woman, and animal that the paper was there to cover that one.

Had it been me, even if I was the Bear's head coach's kid, when the reporter came for the front page story, I'd have responded with "Are you fucking kidding me? Child birth's a front page story now?"

What, did no elderly people pass a bowel that day, so they needed front page filter?

The only radio I listen to is Bob & Tom. When they waste my time talking about the Super Bore, pouring over the details of millionaire Manning's sore thumb (just seconds after mocking millionaire Nicole Kidman for being in a car wreck), I've had enough.

We are just hours away from the best part of the year for me, sports wise, almost. No NFL. No college football. No baseball. No NASCAR. And plenty of European football.

For a few short weeks, all is bliss.

Off to give the kid a shower.

Be seeing you.