Monday, December 27, 2004
The first full day we were there, we went to another resort to see a timeshare presentation. It was actually great and we got a free waverunner ride and free parasailing (which we didn't get to use). As we walked through the presentation we just felt worse about our resort. As we were leaving the presentation, we got invited to another one the next day. Since we didn't feel pressured and we got free stuff, we decided to go for it. We took our free taxi back to our hotel and then went down to the pool. Unfortunately, the pool area was infested with bees because the waiters dumped all the leftover drinks into the flowers. They also left all the dirty plates all over the place. We decided to go to the hottub instead, but the heaters were broken. At this point, we are starting to feel discouraged. Everyone we talk to is pissed and it just starts growing.
The next day, we got up early and made dinner reservations for the steak house at 8:45. We then walked next door for another timeshare presentation. Once again, the other resort was better. We did get some more free stuff though. Alissa scored a free massage and we got a free sunset cruise on a pirate ship. On top of that, we received a pass to use their facilities for the rest of the week. We decided to stay at this resort for the next several hours to enjoy a bee free pool and warm jacuzzi. Alissa enjoyed her massage and then we walked down the beach to redeem my free waverunner. It was a long walk to town, but it was ok. It was nice to be away from the Riu. The waverunner was fast and a lot of fun. I rode it to the famous arches and just rode around the Sea of Cortez. After my half hour was up, we walked into town to look around until our sunset cruise. They had a nice mall to look at. At 4:30, we boarded the buccaneer Queen and set sail. We had a nice 2 hour cruise and watched the sunset. When we got back, we finally got to enjoy our steak dinner. Despite being seated first, we did not have our order taken for about half an hour and then we finally got our food an hour later. As I ate it, I started to feel sick, but I figured it was just because I was so hungry. Nope, turns out I got food poisoning. About 1:00 in the morning I threw up so violently that I pulled my rib muscles and broke the capillaries in the eyelids and forehead. I threw up again at 5:00 in the morning, but all over the bed and carpet. It was not good. Alissa got sick shortly after that and we spent the next 36 hours in bed. We couldn't get a hold of the doctor and just wanted to go home. It took almost 12 hours to finally talk to the doctor. He had a pharmacy deliver us some medicine. We got to drink pedialite to help us recover our lost electrolytes. We also ate a lot of crackers.
The rest of the trip, we just couldn't stomach any food. We pretty much ate crackers and bottled water. I wouldn't recommend the Riu Palace to my worst enemy. It is just not a good place to visit.
Friday, December 17, 2004
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
In case you haven't noticed yet, I like reality television. However, I am not so addicted to watch everything out there. My favorite 3 are Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Apprentice. With Season 2 of The Apprentice coming to an end tomorrow night, I thought I would look back on this season.
I have to say that this season was nowhere near as good as the original. I place that solely on the candidates though. None of them compared to any of the final four from last year. The gameplay itself this season was better. I liked the immunity offers and the challenges were much grander. I hope that Season 3 has some better candidates than this season.
The final two are Kelly and Jen. I think that Kelly will win hands down. He has a military background and knows how to lead. As a military man, he also knows what it means to be part of a team. Jen on the other hand has slid into the final two under the radar. All the other candidates hated her, but she put on a good show come board room time. It must be her fembot powers. If she wins this all, it will be a joke. Donald should just pay her the $250,000 dollars for her annual salary and let her go.
Friday, December 10, 2004
Now that Survivor 9 is coming to a close, I thought I would look back at all the seasons and rank them from Best to Worst.
1. Season 2: The Australian Outback
2. Season 1: Borneo
3. Season 7: Pearl Islands
4. Season 8: All Stars
5. Season 6: The Amazon
6. Season 9: Vanuatu
7. Season 3: Africa
8. Season 4: Marquesas
9. Season 5: Thailand
Thursday, December 09, 2004
With only two episodes left of Survivor 9, I wonder who will be the last one standing. 3 weeks ago, I wrote off all of the men, since Ami was systematically picking them off. When Chris miraculously changed the game by aligning himself with Eliza, Twila, and Scout, I was shocked. In my Survivor pool, I had Ami and Leann left, and I was sure that I had won. Two weeks later, I went from favorite to being knocked out. I think it is pretty obvious that tonight Julie will be gone. The only way she stays is if she gets ammunity. Come Sunday, who knows what will happen. If the final 2 ammunity challenges are physical, Chris looks like a lock for the final 2. If he doesn't get ammunity, the women need to vote him off right away. If he makes the final 2, I see him winning. Even with more women than men voting, you have to give props to the guy for defying all the odds. The women that are left have an equal chance of winning in my opinion. I don't think any of them are liked by anyone else because they all screwed the others. So, here is how I see the final 4. 1st - Chris. 2nd - Eliza. 3rd - Twila. 4th - Scout.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
On December 18, Alissa and I are finally going to be taking our honeymoon. We are going to the Riu Palace in Cabo San Lucas. Alissa's mom is a travel agent and she hooked us up with this great place. It is a brand new, 4 star, all-inclusive resort. We are flying first class on Aeromexico out of LAX. Everything is included, so we won't have to spend a dime. We cannot wait.
Friday, December 03, 2004
Now that we all have had a couple weeks to listen to U2's new album, a few of my friends and I have decided to rank U2's studio albums. This list might be different a month from now or a year from now, but on December 3, 2004, this is my list.
1a. The Joshua Tree - 1987
1b. Achtung Baby - 1991
3. All That You Can't Leave Behind - 2001
4. How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb - 2004
5. War - 1983
6. The Unforgettable Fire - 1984
7. Pop - 1997
8. Rattle An Hum - 1988
9. Zooropa - 1993
10. Boy - 1980
11. October - 1981
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
Ken Jennings had his record 74 day winning streak snapped last night on Jeopardy. During his run, KJ won a game show record $2.5 million. He also helped Jeopardy increase their ratings by 22%. Sony is going to be bummed that he lost. I know that I am not the only one who canceled my TiVo season pass because of it.
It was quite ironic that the guy who knew something about everything lost on the night Seinfeld (the show about nothing) was the theme. He just couldn't get any breaks last night. He missed both Daily Double questions during the Double Jeopardy round and blew the Final Jeopardy question. In the end, Nancy Zerg, a realtor from Ventura, beat him with a measly $14,401 because she knew that H & R Block most of H & R Block's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year.
Ken Jennings, we will miss you!
Monday, November 29, 2004
On Wednesday Night, my grandpa, dad, future brother-in-law, and I had our annual Ford Men's Pool Night. The night before Thanksgiving, every year we head to Dave and Busters to play some pool and grab dinner. It is just a great time to get out of the house while the girls are baking.
On Thursday, we headed to Corona for Thanksgiving. My Aunt and Uncle were able to fit 22 of us around one table for dinner. We had about 40 lbs of turkey and all the fixins. My uncle deep fries one of them and it is always so good. We also had about 5 different kinds of dessert, highlighted by my wife's Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. It was to die for. After the festivities, we headed over to The Askews to spend the night.
On Friday, we all slept in a little bit and then spent the day with The Askews. We piled into the mini van and headed over to Tom's Farm in Corona. We had a lot of good food and got a little Christmas shopping in. It was definitely a great place to visit, especially with the kids. In the evening, Alissa and I watched Abby and Drew while Nick and Melissa headed to Pechanga to watch the Fab Four concert. We had a lot of fun with the kids. We watched Shrek 2, Harry Potter 3, and The Stepford Wives. I would not recommend The Stepford Wives to anyone.
On Saturday morning, we packed up and headed home. We made hot cocoa and decorated the house for our first Christmas together. We unboxed our $10 tree from Big Lots and decorated it nicely. It is not exactly what we had in mind, but it is sure better than no tree at all. In the evening, we went over to my parent's house for Thanksgiving Part 2. My sisters cooked up an amazing feast with all of our favorites. Afterwards we had a great game of Uno Attack.
Finally, on Sunday we headed over to The Mattson's for Becca's 2nd Birthday Party. It was a lot of fun to see her open the elephant that we made for her at Build A Bear. When we got home, we were exhausted from the long weekend. We just sat on the couch and caught up on our TiVo. Thankfully, there wasn't too much to watch since a lot of the shows were not on this week because of the Holiday.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
What happened to ABC? They have gone and made themselves respectable again. For a while, there was nothing left on ABC worth watching. Now ABC has a few of my favorite shows on TV, most notably Lost.
While Alissa and I were on our honeymoon, we bought Entertainment Weekly's Fall Preview at the airport. About 6 months ago we got a TiVo, so we decided we would check out a bunch of new shows. We made it through half an episode of LAX, through about 10 minutes of The Benefactor, and found a couple of gems. (We also love Jack and Bobby)
Lost is one of the few shows that we cannot wait to see the next week. Most shows we will TiVo and watch later. We get ABC New York, so we get to see Lost 3 hours earlier than anyone else on the West Coast.
The concept is simple, but JJ Abrams found a way to keep us coming back each week. He also has insured of us multiple seasons by making each episode only 1 day and giving us flashbacks into the lives of the characters before they were "lost".
In case you haven't seen it yet, Lost is about a group of plane crash survivors who are lost on a deserted Island. They band together to survive. There are about 15 main characters, with a total of about 50 survivors. Jack, a doctor, has stepped up as the leader. Kate was on the plane as a prisoner. Sayid is a former Iraqi Republican Guard. Sawyer is the asshole. Hurley is the lovable fatboy. Charlie (Merry from LOTR) is a drug addicted rock star. Locke came to the island paralyzed, but can miraculously walk again after the crash. Then you have Sun, a Korean woman who speaks English even though her husband Jin doesn't know it. Michael recently came back into the life of his son Walt after Walt's mom died. Shannon is a selfish bitch with Asthma and her brother is Boone. Finally, you have Claire, who is about 8 months pregnant.
The cool thing about the flashbacks is that no one is who they seem. Each of them can be whoever they want to be on the island because no one knows them. They are all given a fresh start in a horrible situation.
Every few weeks, ABC shows reruns of this on Saturdays to get you caught up. If you haven't watched yet, it's not too late to jump on the bandwagon. You can also read episode summaries here.
On another note, they are already talking about the DVDs at TV Shows On DVD.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
With Thanksgiving upon us, I thought I would sit down and reflect on what I am thankful for. God has blessed me with so much in my life, especially in the last year. On New Year's Eve of last year, I asked my best friend Alissa to be my wife and on September 4, we were married. I am so thankful that God brought her into my life and has allowed me to spend the rest of my life with her.
I am also thankful for all of my wonderful family and friends. I was reminded of how great they were during our engagement and wedding. We had so much support from all of you, it was amazing. We are especially thankful to The Askews who helped us out during our time of need. Their support means more to us than they will ever know. I pray that everyone can have friends like them in their lives.
I am also thankful for a great job at an amazing place to work. It is rare to find a workplace where you feel like you are part of a family. I am blessed to have such great co-workers. It makes going to work enjoyable.
It has also been a great year for me on a superficial level. I am thankful that The Anaheim Angels were able to scrape together a Western Division Championship behind AL MVP Vladimir Guerrero. I am also thankful that U2 has finally given us some new music to listen to. I am also thankful that the SF 49ers are going to get the #1 pick next year because they suck so bad this year.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Today our long wait is over! U2's new album, How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb has dropped. I have been listening to it for about a week now, thanks to U2.com previewing the tracks to us. In this day and age where digital music is so readily available, it was hard to wait until a legal version came out. I am frankly too afraid to use any of the file sharing programs anymore, simply because I don't want my computer riddled with unwanted spyware programs. Plus, most of the tracks are fakes.
Last month when Vertigo was unleashed on the airwaves, it only took a couple of listens to fall in love with this track. It is so raw and a lot of fun to listen to. My wife really likes the track too, which is a bonus.
The second track, Miracle Drug, is one of my favorites on the disc. In classic U2 style, it is mellow for a while and then the Edge just explodes by the end of the song. I am really looking forward to hearing this song in concert.
Track number 3 is Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own. Like the previous track, it takes a little while to warm up, but then it rocks. They did a great job performing this song on SNL. This song was written by Bono for his father as he sat by his side in the hospital as he was dieing and performed at his funeral. It is a powerful and sad song.
Love and Peace or Else is alright. Definitely not one of my favorites. It's a pretty hard edged song that is preachy. In that respect, it is very old school U2. This song is growing on me though.
I am not too sure what City of Blinding Lights is about, but I really like it. It sounds like Bono is struggling with his fame, but I could be way off here. It is another upbeat track with a lot of great Edge riffs and piano.
All Because of You is a great track as well.
A Man and A Woman is not the great musically, but lyrically it is great. Bono sings about staying faithful to his wife. "I could never take a chance of losing love to find romance."
I have heard negativity towards Crumbs From Your Table because Bono is preaching about help to third world countries. "Where you live should not decide Whether you live or whether you die." I personally love this song. It has a great sound to it. And what's wrong with wanting a world in which everyone is better off. At least Bono practices what he preaches.
One Step Closer is another song Bono wrote for his dad. It is a slower song that sounds a lot like Grace musically. It's not one of my favorite tracks.
Original of the Species was written to his 4 children. It talks about seeing his kids grow up to fast. He wants to give them everything except for the one thing that they want. I really love this song.
YahWeh is kind of poppy sounding. It's another song that is taking time to grow on me. This is another song that I am not quite sure what it's about. The star of this song is The Edge, like so much of the rest of the album.
Overall, this is a very solid album and one I suspect will be considered one of thier best. It's difficult to rank it at this present time because it is so fresh. At first listen, it is probably going to be in my top 5 U2 albums.
Monday, November 22, 2004
U2 closed out the 20th Century with a bang. All That You Can't Leave Behind became their 4th Masterpiece. I would rank it third behind The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. War was their first masterpiece in 1983.
I loved this album from day one, but it became so much more powerful Post 9/11, as it became sort of the anthem for America after the attacks. The Askew's and I picked up this album at midnight, Halloween morning at The Virgin Megastore at The Block in Orange. We couldn't wait to get out the car and listen to our new disc. Needless to say, it did not disappoint.
The album starts with Beautiful Day, which is one of the best of the album. It is a sentimental favorite because Alissa and I walked down the aisle as man and wife to this song. (You knew I had to incorporate U2 into my wedding somehow.) I am not a huge fan of Stuck In A Moment, although the video is sweet. The acoustic version is better though. Elevation was another great song. This video rocked as well. Come to think of it, all the videos for this album were great. Walk On is probably my third favorite U2 song. The single version with the Hallelujahs is even better. I really love Kite as well. The second half of the album is not as strong, but the first half more than makes up for it.
I got the best U2 experiences of my life courtesy of this album and Elevation Tour. I got to see them in concert 4 times and also saw them perform at The Grammy's. I saw them once in San Diego in the stands, twice in Anaheim inside of the heart (see picture above), and once in Las Vegas Post 9/11. The experience inside the heart will be one I will never forget. To be right on stage watching the greatest band in the world do what they do best is indescribable. The first night Craig and I were in the heart and the second time I watched it with my sister. I don't think that I will ever be able to have a better concert experience than I did with those 2 shows. However, the Post 9/11 show in Las Vegas was a more powerful show. Watching the names of victims scrolling through the sky during One and Walk On was moving. It was also great to see No Doubt open for them rather than PJ Harvey. Plus, it was sweet to hang out at the Blackjack table until 3:00 am with Chris afterwards.
Friday, November 19, 2004
In March of 1997, the wait was finally over. We had a new U2 album. A bunch of us from Biola made the trek over to Tower Records in Buena Park to buy the album at midnight. This was my first of many midnight runs to Tower. I think I might still have my receipt that said I bought the album at 12:01 am. Like with Zooropa, Pop was a lot different than U2's other stuff. I personally love the album though. I did get a preview of the album on this new technology called an MP3 in Kenny's dormroom, so it wasn't quite as shocking as Zooropa.
With this album, we got another world tour. While not as great as Outside Broadcast, the Popmart Tour was still amazing. We saw the second show on the tour in San Diego, and you could tell that the boys rushed into the tour too quickly. The album had only been out for a month and the sets were far from tight. It was still great to see the show before almost everyone else in the world though. Rage Against The Machine opened for them and they were awesome.
The album itself has a lot of great songs and a couple of songs that I personally can't listen to. It starts off with Discotheque. When I first heard this song on the radio, I freaked out. I thought U2 had gone techno. Thankfully, it wasn't like this on the whole album. The song is fun and the video was hilarious. You can't got wrong imitating The Village People. The next track is one of my favorites on the album. I have added Do You Feel Loved to quite a few mixed CDs. MOFO rocks. I believe this song is about Bono's mother or father as well and it was rumored that they would not perform it in concert. Thankfully, that was not the case. If God Will Send His Angels is Dragon's favorite song. I kind of got sick of it once it made it to his single song playlist on Winamp. Staring At The Sun is pretty classic U2. Last Night On Earth had a crazy video. I remember hearing the news about how parts of Kansas City were shut down during the filming of it. Gone is another great track. I can't stand Miami. The Playboy Mansion feels like you should be watching a 1970's porno. I don't like to listen to If You Wear That Velvet Dress either. Please is one of the best songs on this CD and had a couple great singles from it, especially the Popheart EP. Ask Craig about Wake Up Dead Man. This song is classic.
U2 took 2 steps forward with The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, and then took a big step backwards with Zooropa. They rushed this album out too quickly, as they wrote it while on tour for Achtung Baby. I picked this disc up at the Mall of America in Minnesota while at a family reunion. I made my parents take me there because I needed the CD the day it came out. When I finally got back to the rental car, I dropped the disc in my Sony Discman and hit play. “What the Hell is this?!” This is not U2. As we drove along, I was in shock. I think I finished the disc the first time through as we arrived at Bethel College.
Needless to say, I listened to this CD several more times through on that trip. It has grown on me, but it is not one of my favorites. It has a couple of great tracks. I love Daddy’s Gonna Pay For Your Crashed Car. It is so industrial. I also love Stay, especially the single because of the B-side Under My Skin with Frank Sinatra. Numb is a fun song as well, especially because of the video. I can’t stand Babyface and Lemon, and The Wanderer just doesn’t belong on here. To top it off, 10 tracks is pretty weak.
We did not get to experience the Zooropa tour in the US, so a bunch of my friends and I ordered Zooropa from Australia on Pay Per View. I think I might still have the VHS of it somewhere. It was very interesting to see Bono dressed as MacPhisto, mocking the devil. If I remember correctly, he got the idea from C.S. Lewis. I am glad that this alter-ego of his did not last. I prefer The Fly and Mirrorball Man.
I have a hard time not ranking this album #1. It is so solid throughout the entire album. What’s more is that my favorite tracks (Ultraviolet and Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses) are not even the popular ones.
This is the album where I got to experience my first U2 concert. I camped out overnight at Tower Records to buy tickets for the October 30, 1992 Outside Broadcast show at Dodger Stadium. That show was freaking awesome. It was my first secular concert and it blew me away. I hit a homerun on my first concert experience. The multimedia and set were mind blowing. I mean, they had the cars from the One video hanging from wires on cranes. Public Enemy and The Sugarcubes opened for them. The Sugarcubes were pissed that no one was getting up for them playing and broke up shortly after the concert. It was cool to see Bjork though. I still have a bumper sticker that they gave to us as we drove into the parking lot. That was the first time I ever was offered drugs too. Crazy stuff. As we drove into the parking lot we had guys selling T-shirts and shrooms.
At first, I did not like this album because it did not sound like U2. But as I listened to it over and over and over again, I appreciated how powerful the album was. From top to bottom and front to back, this album rocks. U2 should have just added this CD as a bonus disc to their Best of 1990 to 2000 because this is their best work.
Over at Jeremy's Pad, a bunch of us have decided to listen to all of U2's studio albums in anticipation of their upcoming release, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. I have to say that I have really enjoyed going back and listening to all of their old work.
The Joshua Tree is in my humble opinion, the greatest album ever made. It catapulted U2 to Rock God status. This album brought back so many fond memories as well. It is the ultimate road trip song, that made it’s way into so many camping trip videos in my late teens and early twenties. My friends and I had so many adventures with this album playing in the background. We blasted it from houseboats on Lake Havasu, along dirt roads on Ortega Highway, and everywhere else from here to Utah.
If I could only own one album for the rest of my life, The Joshua Tree would be it. Time magazine put them on the cover hailing them as Rock’s Hottest Ticket. It’s fitting that the first CD I ever bought, was this album. I have probably heard it more than any other album ever. This disc is scratched to hell with what it has been put through, but still holding on strong. It begins with the holy trinity of U2 songs. I would argue that Where The Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, and With or Without You have to be the best 3 tracks of any album ever produced. I still get goosebumps when I throw this CD in and WTSHNN revs up. I love the gospel sound of ISHFWILF. With or Without You is right up there at the top of my list of favorite U2 songs. It is often #1 depending on what U2 mood I am in. Bullet The Blue Sky rocks in concert. Running to Stand Still gives me chills every time I hear it. I never knew what is was about until I saw Bono acting it out in concert on October 30, 1992 at Dodger’s Stadium. I love Red Hill Mining Town! Bono sings this song with so much passion. I love the rest of the songs too. They are so unique.