1.30.2000

My family

It's true that you can't choose your family, but it's a myth that families never get along. I've been lucky enough to have a family that's not only interesting, but knows how to have fun as well! Like all families, things get rough as everyone gets older, but love and great memories carry my family through it all.

Ed Walters

Dad
Dad retired from a successful career in the Air Force as a Lt. Colonel, then went back to school for a degree in computer science and accounting, then worked as a database administrator for the Oklahoma Tax Commission, and now is enjoying his second retirement. He has been lots of exotic places like Germany and Iceland. Dad loves crossword puzzles, surfing on his iBook, and reminiscing.

Lena Walters

Mom
Mom met Dad on a blind date (after turning down other proposals!) and soon moved to California to make me. Mom was my study partner and is the reason I did well in school (she even quizzed me in French). Mom keeps the cleanest house in the world, loves going to movies with Dad, and makes excellent salmon patties and other specialties. She always makes sure I have a magical Christmas with her decorations and cookies.

Dorothy Walters

Grandmother
Grandma bakes the best pies and other desserts in the world. I used to visit Ohio every year when I lived with my parents, and each visit was full of my favorites: Graham Cracker Pie and Dewies (leftover pie crust with cinnamon and sugar!). Grandma has always been well-loved by everyone who knows her, from everyone in the family to any community she has been a part of. It's easy to see why.

William Walters

Grandfather
Grandpa was a wonderful man with magical powers (I only knew him when I was young). My most vivid memories of him are his huge hands (which I used to see while I would sit on his lap in a rocking chair), and the famous "magic sack" that would suddenly fill with toys when I wasn't looking. Grandpa died when I was pretty young, but I love watching home movies of him each holiday season.

Irene VanZandt

Grandmother
Grandmother was an amazing woman with a strong faith who raised three children (including Mom) on her own. I was able to see her often during my childhood, during many family visits to Waco. She was always full of funny sayings and wisdom, and it was great to see how much she loved Mom. She died at an old age, leaving us with wonderful memories.

Dottie & Tom Geswein

Aunt/Uncle
Aunt Vee and Uncle Tom are a fun couple. Aunt Vee is never embarrased by anything - she once spent nearly the whole day at an amusement park wearing bug eye glasses and talking to every stranger she could. She also makes fantastic lasagna. Uncle Tom is much more soft-spoken, but he's a master of dry wit. He's also taken on some incredible projects, such as building an extra room on their house, and lots of fine wood furniture.

Mary & Don Hannon

Aunt/Uncle
Aunt Mary & Uncle Don live in Florida now, enjoying the retired life. Aunt Mary has always been boistrous and fun, and loves to be in the sun - she is always as tan as possible. Uncle Don is relaxed and easy going. He's a retired podiatrist - I can remember my cousins and I looking around his basement office at all kinds of scary looking equipment!

Glenn & Geneva VanZandt

Uncle/Aunt
Uncle Glenn was a brilliant man and teacher, loved and remembered by his students. He loved playing with me when I was a baby, and I'll never forget all the funny jokes he told me. He was always interested in the lives of those he loved, and was a great listener. His death was sudden, but his life was full. I still meet my family in Waco for Thanksgiving, where we see Aunt Geneva, his wife.

Jimmie & Jim Hayes

Aunt/Uncle
I only knew Aunt Jimmie when I was younger, but I remember she was always happy and loving. She loved cartoons and game shows, and I always enjoyed seeing her in Waco. She died of cancer around the time I graduated from high school. Uncle Jim was a salesman of hunting supplies, but I don't remember much about him.

Cousins

I've always had fun with my paternal cousins, who are all married with kids now. I spent most of the time with Tom Bill Geswein - we wrote letters to each other about Star Wars for years. The two of us would also play with Jim Hannon, who also has two sisters, Joan and Jane, who spent a lot of time with me when I was a baby. I have lots of maternal cousins that I played with when I was younger, most of them Aunt Jimmie's children, but I haven't seen them in years. Aunt Geneva has three children, who are married with kids, and I used to see them at Thanksgiving dinner.

1.28.2000

Fantasia 2000 : 5 of 5

A thousand times wow. Damn, I wish I had been able to see this when it was released on IMAX! Aside from a pretty boring opening sequence and kinda silly celebrity introductions, the animation is amazing! Watching giant blue whales jump out of the ocean and start flying was a totally breathtaking experience. And the finale - I'll never listen to Stravinsky the same way again.

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle : 2 of 5

I was really hopeful for this one - alas, it almost sucked. I am a huge Bullwinkle fan (I drink from a Sherman & Peabody mug everyday), so I was excited about a nice Roger Rabbit with better effects. Well, I got the effects (Rocky and Bullwinkle really look cool), but instead of putting the cartoon in the real world, they made the real world into a cartoon. Extremely lame and tedious. Sniff.

1.24.2000

The Veloway

Recently I took my bike down to the Veloway with some friends - what a fantastic place! The Veloway is a 3 mile, one way, wide, paved, curvy track for bikes and blades with no cars in sight. I was able to really pick up some great speed on my Cruiser - much faster than I can go on my usual neighborhood route. I think the Veloway has a nationwide reputation, and I can see why.

Strip Poker contestants

OK, I never watch this show (on the fabulous USA Network) unless I am dead tired and unable to get off the couch, but the few times I have seen it, I am just amazed at the sheer stupidity of these contestants. I mean, maybe they want to get morons so everyone gets to strip, but please - high school graduates would be nice. If you get frustrated watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, don't tune in to Strip Poker!

1.21.2000

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching / Thich Nhat Hanh : 4 of 5

I've been through tons of spiritual phases in my life, and some move in cycles, like Buddhism. I've learned a lot through reading Buddhist texts, but when I would read modern day commentary, I couldn't believe how all of the simple teaching was so bogged down. Thich Nhat Hanh actually gets through the crap and talks about all the primary facets of Buddhism so they can be understood and actually practiced. Even the smallest advice from this book makes life pleasant.

1.15.2000

The Connells / One Simple Word : 5 of 5

And here's one of the fantastic Connells CDs that just feels right. Not as good as Fun and Games, but still incredible. I think the song Stone Cold Yesterday may have been a minor hit, but the best cuts are Get a Gun and What Do You Want? Really cool guitar - not too rough, no crappy Santana sounds - and lyrics that make your life seem all better.

1.10.2000

Man on the Moon : 3 of 5

I'm sure you'll remember how much I hate Jim Carrey, but I watched this anyway since I was interested in Andy Kaufman (and iced in my parents house in Oklahoma, to boot). I thought the movie was fascinating and sad - Carrey does his best to be Kaufman, though it becomes apparent how far away he is when watching the actual Kaufman footage on the DVD. The film does a great job of hiding what's reality and what's not, so we can discover things as they happen. I haven't decided if Andy was a genius or not, but I do know that I've heard that REM song about a hundred times too often.

1.09.2000

Manhattan : 5 of 5

This renting was the third time I've seen Manhattan, Woody Allen's best film. I can now officially say that after The Red Shoes, Manhattan is my second-favorite movie. First, you have an incredible collection of fantastic Gershwin music. Second, you have the most thoughtful cinematography ever - every frame of this movie could be blown up into a poster for the most discriminating taste. Last, but not least, you have a wonderful story with funny and lovable characters that boils down to a lesson of trust and faith that leaves you feeling refreshed (even though the plot never really "ends"). This film is essential.

1.08.2000

Mirrorball : 3 of 5

I used to be a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan, way back when her second album was released. There were the days before Lilith Fair, when you could think about how cool Sarah was and fantasize about her vaguely homosexual lyrics. Unfortunately, now she's just one more "empowered girl" (I don't mean to be cruel about that, but it's become such a stereotype that no-talent chicks like Joan Osborne get popular), and I've lost some respect for dear Sarah. I decided to rent Mirrorball anyway, since it was one of the first DVDs to use the cool angle feature (even though it does it poorly - you can't switch on the fly), and actually this is a great concert. Her musicians are excellent (except for her lead guitarist, who just likes to bang the strings and hold them up to the monitor), especially her drummer (whom she married, by the way). Sarah herself is great, and it's fun to watch her guitar to figure out weird capo positions and bizarre tunings. She's a little hammy, and I can't help feeling all of that started when she decided it was "important" to be a female artist (as if being an artist by itself wasn't important enough). Anyway, Mirrorball is a fun show to watch, as long as you pretend it's 1994.

1.07.2000

The Mod Squad : 2 of 5

I thought this might be a cool movie, but I skipped it in the theater - I probably should have skipped the DVD, too. The best things I can say are that the music is great and Claire looks pretty good, but she looked better in Romeo and Juliet chatting with Leonardo in the pool. Truthfully, I don't think I ever watched an episode of the series in reruns, and the movie basically sums up the premise before the opening credits finish. I guess the action is OK, but in general, I was ready for this to be over soon after it began.

1.06.2000

Monty Python's Flying Circus Set 5: Vol 10 : 3 of 5

Another set of DVDs I've been renting one by one and enjoying immensely. Of course, I've seen every episode of Monty Python, but it's fun to watch them in order, see when the classics emerged, and the DVDs have fun little quizzes on them and other goodies. Volume 5 doesn't really have anything super memorable, but of course it's hilarious, regardless. The gag that stood out the most for me is in the "anagram" episode (words keep getting rearranged throughout the whole episode) - there is an Army Recruitment Office where Army has been rearranged to "Mary". The officer comes out and sees the letters, fixes them, then turns to a huge line of nuns waiting and yells "Shove off!"

1.05.2000

Monty Python's Flying Circus Set 6: Vol 11 : 4 of 5

Yet another DVD of Monty Python episodes - it's funny how when you watch them all together in order you can see the show "devolve". This DVD includes the famous Cheese Shop sketch, but when you think about it, it's not really that clever, just amusing. I was actually most impressed with The Cycle Tour, which to my knowledge is the only episode consisting of one sustained sketch, and it's a good one! For some reason, this one didn't have a quiz feature - how disappointing!

1.04.2000

Monty Python's Flying Circus Set 6: Vol 12 : 4 of 5

Continuing along the Python path, we finally reach the great Dennis Moore saga (I remember being so shocked as a kid watching this late at night on PBS when they sing "Stupid bitch!"). This disc also features John Cleese's last episode with the troupe, which was news to me (I never knew he left during the series run). Lots of other funny stuff, but Dennis Moore is the best. One of the bonus tidbits is a karaoke version of Sit on My Face which will have you singing around the house all day.

1.03.2000

Monty Python's Flying Circus Set 7: Vol 13 : 3 of 5

I'm almost at the end of my ritalistic rewatching of the Flying Circus, and now we're at the bottom of the barrell - no John Cleese. There are a few funny moments on this DVD, however, most of them during The Golden Age of Balooning (the only episode with no title sequence!). The best gag concerns an impersonator of the King of France who can't "remember his number", followed closely by a rendition of Anything Goes (not the one by Cole Porter). Only one more DVD to go!

1.02.2000

Monty Python's Flying Circus Set 7: Vol 14 : 3 of 5

The last DVD of the series - the final three episodes! Number 43 revolves around Hamlet with some good laughs, though I was most interested in just how cute Carol Cleveland is (she helped awaken the hormones of all of us young Python fans). Number 44 has a long sequence about Mr. Neutron that's pretty good, but without Cleese there are just too many characters for the boys to pull off. Number 45, the big finale, is just awful - it seems like it's just tons of little cuts they had laying around and pasted together to finish off the show. This final DVD finally has another quiz, which was a fun way to end the set.

1.01.2000

The Beach Boys / Surfin' Safari/Surfin' USA : 4 of 5

Growing up in California, I guess I had to be a Beach Boys fan. I started really early, too, listening to records with my 4th grade friends and trying to figure out that bizarre car terminology. Recently I have found these excellent double-album Canadian imports with the best liner notes you have ever read and all kinds of bonus tracks. Plus, you get all of the songs that would never make it on a greatest hits compilation! This particular set includes the first two wide release albums - lots of hits and goofy covers (want to hear the Beach Boys sing about root beer?).

Drop Dead Gorgeous : 3 of 5

I don't know why I rented this, since it looked pretty stupid. However, when I discovered that the movie is told in fake documentary format, I was pleasantly surprised! Not as well done as Best in Show or Waiting for Guffman, but in the same vein. The story is about a beauty pageant in a small town, where folks keep getting killed who would be possible challengers to the favored, rich contestant. Kirsten Dunst looks cute but trashy, and Denise Richards looks so disgusting it's amazing she's considered attractive. She does have the best scene however - her talent is dancing with a stuffed Jesus on the cross while singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You".

Marco

An ode to a high school friend written in 1995. After losing contact with him for many years, I recently had news of his death.

Hey Marco - let's have some coffee
The student union, the Crossroads Cafe
You pulled me away from my morning Fruit Loops
That were so stereotypical for a commuter
Though thankfully I never liked that sour strawberry cream cheese
The way Scott did
Telling me this was the thing to do, an initiation
Starting me with double cream and triple sugar
Training me every day until I surpassed your palette
That would drink a second pot from the same filter
But that was probably because I could afford the beans

Hey Marco - let's have a meal
Cook me that family recipe in your head
Spaghetti with hundreds of carrots and baby shrimp
The only part of your family you acknowledged
Let go like the other interests I saw passing through your life
Forgotten black Chinese slippers
Hours of Tai Chi in my girlfriend's living room
The staff of wood permanent in your callused hand
Growing from the tree of a man they called the Prophet
Just before I knew you at church, before your shorts
Were 'unacceptable' or the redhead seduced you

Hey Marco - let's go for a drive
Only riding with you once in your trashed white Bug
That you named Bayatta, which no one could understand
Like the Latin phrase on your bracelet
That months later you confided in me read 'Purity of Heart'
Before you stopped wearing it
You drove me home sitting on the exposed cushion springs
To steal Amaretto from my dad's stash under the sink
And cried in the dim light because you felt too much
Expressed in a poem I had written to show you
That you thought you had written days before

Hey Marco - let's not be so secretive
I heard from a friend you were at the mall last night
Wandering the icy parking lot for stuck cars
Anonymously pushing them out of the snow
Your long gray overcoat attempting to cover such bitter thoughts
Your scotch flask in the pocket
You're walking the winter campus now in bare feet
So everyone will notice your black painted toenails
Against the harsh white of the library sidewalk
Later at home covering your walls in brown calligraphy
Seeking absolution for nothing in the aesthetic of holy words

Hey Marco - let's be open again
Pulled by unaccepting love to your distant Colorado cabin
Sending your thoughts on Seneca in the mail
Delivered on sepiatone photo portrait postcards
An image of Gershwin bursting with creativity and sorrow
Wearing your sad eyes
Honoring a friendship I hindered in such blind ignorance
Pleading with philosopher's arguments and empty praises
The key you gave me to your desk in high school
Used to lock away a love I only now understand
In your amber pen's lonely sweeping gestures