Pepper is pushing 7 years old now, according to mom. They have a certificate somewhere that lists his exact age and birthdate, but it's not that serious. I just think it was funny that she used one of her grandchildren as a comparison to gauge how old Pepper is. If I'm not mistaken, it was determined that he and JoJo are approximately the same age.
He loves it when we come to visit. There are more children around to give him attention. You can almost see a little twinkle in his eye when we walk in the door. Of course along with that also comes more harassment for Pepper.
I think it's an unwritten rule that when you see a friendly dog, you have to challenge him/her to shake. You have to figure if they know how to sit, they have to know how to shake. At least that's my philosophy. It's the entire reason that dogs are better than cats in the first place, because they are so easy to train.
Pepper also has the ability to shake. He's just selective about who and when he does it for. He will usually do it for me without fail. This weekend was the first time I saw him be apprehensive about whether or not he wanted to. It took a little more goading but he finally did. Maybe that's part of getting old for dogs too. Afterall, in dog years, he would be 49.
Poor Mariah. She tried and tried and tried but Pepper just would not shake for her. She even tried giving him a treat to entice him to shake. All that did was make him bark and jump all over her to get the food. The funniest thing was when Mom told Mariah it was because she didn't have an adult voice so what did she do? Lower her voice, of course. All that did was cause Pepper to look at her with that dog head tilt, wondering what was wrong with that child.
It has been nearly two weeks since that friendly booty doctor visit and I had almost spaced off the results. I remembered they told me it would take a week to hear something. Technically, that should have been right around last Friday. Was no news good news? Or maybe it was so bad that they were trying to find just the right way to break it to me?
At first I thought it was quite possible they could have called and I just didn't know about it Our home phone is very temperamental at best. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. It's a cordless phone so the battery goes in and out at the most inopportune times. It is going on about 3 years now with that particular phone that wasn't even that high of quality when we got it. Of course it's about time to replace it, but as long as my cell phone was working, I had been putting it off.
Which brings me to the next issue. The cell phone. I am sure it is working fine; it just has problems functioning when the service has been temporarily disconnected. Suffice it to say that a part-time job is direly needed. Luckily, I have a relatively inexpensive plan so it shouldn't be that hard to get caught back up again. In hindsight, it probably would have been a better idea to have given them my work phone to contact me.
So I took it upon myself to call them today. The lady who answered asked for my name and date of birth then put me on hold. I'm assuming the date of birth was their attempt at verifying security as to whom they are giving the information? She returned to the line and asked for a phone number the nurse could reach me at. This time, I did give the work phone.
I occasionally think pessimistically even if it is for a fleeting moment. That pause she gave to ask for a number had me thinking there may be something bad. If it was nothing, why couldn't she just tell me that? Do I really need return phone call just to tell me everything's fine? Now I have to do more waiting.
The call wasn't that long at all. Less than five minutes later, a nurse called me. The tests were back. The doc herself has been on call and been to busy to call but the nurse informed me of what I expected: benign. No cancer. I knew it.
But there was more...
"Dr. Verma will call you to see about scheduling your next colonoscopy. We will also send you a letter with that date."
Whoa....hold up...excuse me?! I don't remember ever signing up for a sequel?! I don't even care that that the first one was painless. I still don't want to go thru all that again. It was more an inconvenience than anything else. Not to mention I'm not even taking my medicine required as a result of the first one and have no intentions to.
Turns out I either misunderstood the nurse or she misinformed me. I got a call from a different nurse an hour or so later who informed me everything looks good and I won't need another colonoscopy until age 50. That sounds more like it. Doubt I'll show up for that one anyway, but it's still good to know!
By now, I'm sure mostly everyone has heard the huge buzz coming out of D.C. regarding the latest effort to boost the economy. If it goes thru, folks will start getting checks as early as May or June for rebates on their children. I don't know about anywhere else, but around here, some folks were acting like they won the lottery when they heard the news.
I will be perfectly honest. I can't say I don't like me some free money. Who doesn't? The key word, however, is "free". We all know by now that there no such a thing. There are always strings attached in some form or fashion. Even though I haven't dug deep enough into this proposed bill to see what they may be, there are other things that still bother me about this offer.
The main thing is this is probably just another way to further reward those folks that are popping out babies left and right. The ones that are already living off the system to maximize the money the government is paying them. The welfare abusers. Sure, there are some people out there who genuinely need it and those are not the ones to which I am referring. I am talking about the ones who are sitting around with no job, no intentions to get a job, watching cable television, collecting monthly checks.
Now the good thing is, if I understand the plan correctly, individuals with earned income of less than $3,000 would not qualify. So if a person has been on welfare all year with 6 shorties, they are out of luck. Then again, what qualifies as "earned income"? I would think that the folks in DC were smart enough to make sure any potential loopholes were taken care of, but you never know.
My biggest problem with the whole endeavor was the intent behind the bill in the first place. The plan to stimulate the economy is to give out free money? Apparently they had never heard of the whole "give a man a fish" theory. How about creating more jobs to boost the economy? I realize that wouldn't be an instant fix but it is a start.
Actually, I have an even a better idea. How about giving tax breaks to the middle class and below instead of just the rich people? If we did not have to pay so much on our taxes, we would have more money to spend. Of course they don't want to hear that though. By giving the money away, we get no tax breaks AND we get taxed again when we spend it at whatever retailer we choose. It's a win-win for Big Brother.
Here's something even better...how about coming up with a plan to get our troops out of that "war" over there? Don't get it twisted, this whole "free money" idea is really just another way to divert our attention from the fact that there is still no exit strategy. Everyone look at the boost-the-economy smoke and mirrors trick while our governments keeps our folks in hostile areas where they have no business being.
But hey...we are getting free money so we should just be happy and shut up, right?
"Harlem Nights" was unceremoniously slammed when it was first released in 1989. Folks were saying that Eddie Murphy was being a bit of a glory hound by starring in, producing, directing and writing the movie. He may have even catered the food on the set for this one, but it still would not have mattered. That was the critics being negative about it. Lovers of comedy such as myself thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the movie was undeniably funny.
This gave Eddie the chance to make a dream of his come true. In doing so, it allowed us to witness history as well. It united three comedy legends on the screen at the same time. Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx all in one film was comedic heaven. It would turn out to be Foxx's last film before he passed away and he could not have chosen a better way to end his career.
What was even more interesting was how Pryor was portraying a role where he was the surrogate father for Murphy. It was a passing of the torch immortalized right there in cinematic form before our very eyes. Pryor was clearly at the tail end of his career as his health was failing in his old age and Eddie's was more than ready to take the ball and run. Although Richard would have a more films after this one, "Harlem Nights" clearly should have been his swan song as well.
Here is another prime example of a movie that provided us with endless quotes that still resonate years later. The "Big Three" had some nice ones, but there were also some gems delivered by the plethora of perfectly cast ancillary characters. Especially by Vera, played by Della Reese. I had no idea Della had it in her to be so humorous until "Harlem Nights".
Speaking of characters permanently associated with the movie, "Harlem Nights" may have forever scarred actor Stan Shaw. Now that he has played the stuttering champ Jack Jenkins, every time I see him I expect him to be stuttering. It didn't help that he played someone with a similar speech impediment in another awesome flick, "The Great Santini". Furthermore, ever since "Harlem Nights", every now and then you will see some comedy try to integrate a stuttering character into their storyline somehow. They never do it near as good as Shaw did here.
They will occasionally try to play this on regular cable television and it just cannot be done. It loses far too much in translation. If it is not on a premium channel, they might as well just let it go. It's like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Although I must admit that even a censored "Harlem Nights" is better than no "Harlem Nights" at all.
Picking a favorite scene would be like trying to pick a favorite child. It's just impossible to do. One could say the fight scene between Della and Eddie. Or maybe it was Arsenio's brief cameo as the brother avenging Tommy Smalls' death. The bank vault with the short breaths...the champ explaining how he's going to win the fight...there are just too many. There hadn't been a period piece this hilarious since "Johnny Dangerously". No matter what the "critics" tried to say, Eddie knocked one out of the park with this one.
That sounds so...final. Is it really that serious? It's not like it's the last time I will see Mariah and Elijah. It's just the last time I will see them on a weekend visit before they move to Texas for good. It would also be the last in while for the Bloomington contingent so it was time for another road trip.
You would have thought they were leaving the face of the earth with all the random videos and pictures I took. No one was immune. Neither was any situation. Within reason, of course. Mariah joked that I take pictures of them all the time like they're going to disappear. Stranger things have happened. At least this way, I have a permanent record of them.
I decided to do something different and turn the video camera over to someone else for a change. If G could take some decent pictures at Popoo's celebration and he's only 7, certainly a 12-year-old wouldn't be half bad. That's why I entrusted Elijah with the video camera to take footage from his vantage point.
What I ended up getting is a hodge podge of videos that probably only make sense to Elijah and all of his cousins his age. However, he did come up with the idea of interviewing all the family members. Even if the interview questions were rather random. Once again, I'm sure it would be boring to anyone else except for the fam so I will spare everyone. What you will get instead are arbitrary postings peppered throughout the week of different events from the weekend.
First up is one of the several videos that Elijah did. It reminded me a little bit of a "Cloverfield" approach as it captured a fight gone terribly wrong...
It was bound to happen eventually. The Rock could not going on making action movies forever. At some point in time he had to broaden the fan base to make some type of family film. I didn't think it would be quite this soon, but better late than never I guess.
"The Game Plan" has the Rock returning to a football-themed movie yet again. He is narcissistic pro quarterback Joe Kingman who is on the verge of winning his first championship. He could not possibly be a bigger bachelor when he discovers that he has an 8-year-old daughter. Being forced to tackle the new responsibility of fatherhood forces Joe to learn that he also still had maturing to do.
Seeing the Rock play a professional football player is not a stretch at all. He had already sold the role of being a coach pretty well in "Gridiron Gang". Even being now years removed from his WWE days, he still has the build of a professional athlete. The only problem is he does not look like a quarterback. NFL quarterbacks are of course in shape too, but nowhere NEAR as close as the Rock. He was more resembling a linebacker. Of course the movie would not have played nearly the same if that was his position on the team so you have to look past that fact.
The football action in this flick is flat out laughable. I think it must be an unwritten rule that when making a football comedy, the football action has to be incredibly unbelievable. As a matter of fact, it often looks like all football comedies are all using the same choreographer for the football plays they run. It is supposed to be family film though so over half the audience "The Game Plan" is intended for could care less about that.
One given with pro football movies is there will not be any actual NFL teams used. They will pop in a real player or two and/or drop some real NFL names, but the teams won't be included. Not unless it is a biopic. However, "The Game Plan" had a rather prophetic match-up. Their championship game pitted the Boston Rebels against a New York squad. Just like this year's New England (whose team is based out of Boston)/New York Super Bowl. We shall see if the ending of the real Super Bowl also matches up to the very predictable game conclusion in "The Game Plan".
On a sidenote, there is very sad news to report associated with "The Game Plan". The Rock has announced that this movie will be his last film where he will be credited as "The Rock". Say it ain't so. Although that too was something else that was inevitable, Dwayne Johnson just doesn't have the same ring to it. To us supporters that will never forget how memorable he made the WWF, he will always be The Rock no matter what role he takes on.
As far as family films go, "The Game Plan" does not disappoint. Yes, the message of the movie is blatantly obvious from the beginning and beyond predictable. Yes, the football "action" is down right horrendous. However, the entire cast makes it a fun ride. They do an excellent job in casting a cute little girl as the daughter (Madison Pettis) who even looks like she could pass for the Rock's daughter. Sometimes the right cast can make a world of difference when it comes to family entertainment.
There will be two this week. One won't matter too much to my readers that don't get into sports. In fact, even for the ones that do, it really won't have that much of a bearing on the folks that don't have Iowa ties. Nevertheless, it is still a big deal around here worth mentioning and for that reason, I will give the Drake Bulldogs their due props.
The Drake Bulldogs men's hoop squad cracked the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1973. As of this week, they currently sit at #22 with a 17-1 record. Their victory over in-state rival University of Northern Iowa has them in the middle of a 16 game winning streak.
You all know I am a proud Iowa State grad so it may seem a little surreal to see me endorsing a different athletic program. It's not that big of a stretch. I have nothing at all against Drake. Unlike certain other collegiate programs around the state that wear the colors black and gold, Drake's fans are not obnoxious or unbearable at all. They have been waiting 25 years for their boys to get some prominence of their own again. They deserve a little time to do some bragging after such a long drought.
What is especially unique about Drake's quick rise to glory is the timing. The Cyclones and the Hawkeyes are both squandering in mediocrity right about now. There's nothing to be proud of with either of those basketball programs during this current season. I never thought I would see a time when those are the programs that have fallen by the wayside and Drake is the proverbial national power. However, that time has come. The apocalypse really must be near.
The second is none other than my man Barack Obama. This one should have been blatantly obvious. With him winning the South Carolina Democratic primary today, he once again gets a deserved shout out here. At this rate, I think it is safe to assume it won't be his last.
What was most impressive about Obama's win tonight is the manner in which he won. It wasn't even close. He dusted the nearest competitor (Hillary) by nearly double the margin. Obama garnered 55% of the vote while the closest candidate to him brought in a mere 27%. Hillary could have not campaigned at all and she could have had that kind of a finish.
When they broke it down to demographics, Obama beat out Hillary in nearly every bracket except for one. She did manage to get voters 65 and older. However, even in that field, she barely had the edge getting 40% while Obama had 32%. Obama's winning over those folks that Hillary had been banking on. Just like he did right here in Iowa.
The next big test for Obama comes February 5th with "Super Tuesday". As long as he can build on this momentum, he should be good to go. Plus, as long as the Clinton camp keeps putting their feet in their mouths, Obama is looking better and better. Keep up the good work, Clintons!
I had seen these in gas stations for I don't know how long now. They are always up front, right by the cash register. Bunched together with the Rooster things and all of the other little quick-fix, stay-awake "drugs". Ever since my negative experience with one of those that contributed to me totaling my favorite car (a Thursday Throwback story to come), I never gave any of them a second thought.
The last time I came to the folks place in Bloomington, Teandra was raving about this particular one. She even swore by it. It had been a while since I had tried another one so I figured I would give it a shot. There was no better time than this weekend for another trip to the folks' place.
These joints are pretty expensive for what they are. 3 bucks for just 2 fluid ounces?! That's the equivalent to buying a shot at a bar. It's even supposed to be used in a similar fashion as you are supposed to drink it in one shot. For Teandra, just half the bottle does the trick, but I equal about two Teandras so it was the full bottle for me.
Another thing I was apprehensive about was having a jittery after-effect from it. I was also still thinking about my MDX overdose and didn't want any repeat episodes of that either. This drink bragged about the fact that it has no crash and no jitters. That would certainly be a plus.
I am proud to announce that this little bugger really does work. It's not the best tasting drink in the world (although MUCH better than nasty Red Bull), but it actually is quite effective. I drank a bottle at about the halfway point to Bloomington and was wide awake for the rest of the leg. That amounts to roughly 2 hours. Not bad considering it was after 9pm and pitch black outside.
So I may have just found the replacement for my treasured MDX. Sucks to be you, MDX. At least until the inevitably come out with the 5-Hour MDX Drink.
It's about time Tyler Perry had Angela Bassett up in one of his movies. More importantly, it's about time she had a new movie out. I swear she keeps looking younger the older she gets. Do your thang, Angie!
"Meet the Browns" is an interesting choice for Perry's next studio release. Once again, it wasn't one of the better plays that he produced. Regardless, I do like that the Mann's finally get some shine on the big screen And of course, I will be checking this one out as well...