Mondays rule at Disneyland

The third day of my recent Los Angeles trip was spent at Disneyland (what a surprise)! After the great experience I had going on a Monday last year, Dae and I decided to try it again, and it was amazing how light the crowds were. In fact, the only FastPass we used was for Space Mountain, and we even rode Splash Mountain using the regular line (the first time I had ever been through that queue!). Speaking of Splash Mountain, Dae did the impossible again by getting an awesome picture of us during the 50-foot drop! We ate at the Carnation Cafe on Main Street (for the first time), discovered an animatronic fish on Big Thunder Trail, and enjoyed the new Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through (so nostalgic). It was also fun to beat Dae on the Buzz Lightyear ride - my second victory in a row! The changes to It's a Small World seemed OK to me, as long as you think of it as the original children playing "Disney dress-up". The only thing I didn't like was the new Ariel singing solo - it was just too jarring from the rest of the soundtrack. After riding almost everything in the park (including the major rides twice!), we left the park and hit Downtown Disney for coconut mohitos - a great end to a fantastic day! The next day I had to fly home, so that was really the end of the trip. As always, the best part of visiting Los Angeles is hanging out with Dae and Ernesto, but of course Disneyland is the second best thing!

View photos: Los Angeles 2009 Day 3


Quick stops to Japan and China

I didn't really have any plans for the second day of my Los Angeles visit, so Dae suggested we check out the Huntington Library. This is actually a huge complex which is a combination historical document library, art museum, and series of massive botanical gardens! First we took a look at the library, where we saw an exhibit of original hand-written documents by Abraham Lincoln, as well as cool medieval manuscripts and even early Shakespeare folios. The art museum is primarily filled with portraits, including the original George Washington pose that everyone knows, as well as the famous Blue Boy and Pinkie. Next we walked around the gardens, focusing mainly on the Japanese and Chinese sections, both of which were huge, with tons of appropriate architecture. We stayed as long as we could, but we didn't even touch over half of the gardens available to see (we skipped the tropical stuff completely). After a glorious lunch at In-N-Out (so delicious), we stopped by a fancy grocery store to buy tons of snacks for our mini-Oscars party. Ernesto joined us at Dae's condo, and we watched the show, ate a ton, drank most of a bottle of scotch, and talked with Matt & Kumiko (who had their own party in Austin) on the speaker phone. After the awards, Ernesto and I fell asleep on Dae's couches pretty quick (while Dae was watching his favorite Korean TV shows). Stay tuned for the next day at Disneyland!

View photos: Los Angeles 2009 Day 2


Gorn hunting in Los Angeles

I'm back from my fantastic Los Angeles trip, and I had an incredible time! Of course, I took several hundred photos (and so did my pal Dae), so I'm going to have to break down the adventures into individual days and Flickr sets. Dae, Ernesto and I started the first day with breakfast at a classic Bob's Big Boy (built in 1949), then hit the road to Vasquez Rocks! I was totally amazed by the rocks - not only were they beautiful and fun to climb around on, but it really had a Star Trek feeling, and it was cool thinking about the original episodes that were shot there (which I commemorated by photographing my Captain Kirk retro Mego action figure!). After that we went to Hollywood for martinis at Musso & Frank's, which was built in 1919, making it one of the oldest bars in Hollywood. The drinks were great, and it was amazing to walk around during all the bustle of the Academy Awards red carpet and bleachers at the Kodak Theater (we were there the day before the show). Finally, Dae and I enjoyed a huge dinner of Korean BBQ (with plenty of soju, which knocked me out quickly!). It was an awesome day, and that was only the beginning! Enjoy the photos, with thanks to Dae for all the really good ones!

View photos: Los Angeles 2009 Day 1


I'm outta here

Tomorrow I'm flying to Los Angeles for my first mini-vacation of 2009! I'll be hanging out with my pals Dae and Ernesto, and the first place we'll be visiting is Vasquez Rocks, where tons of movies and TV shows were filmed, including several episodes of the original Star Trek (which is why I want to go there!). I'll be spending a day at Disneyland (of course), and I'm excited about seeing three new things: the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through, Pixie Hollow, and the new characters in It's a Small World (so I can form my own opinion about this controversial update). It's going to be a great trip! I'm going to try to keep Twittering from my iPhone, so keep checking!


Pump It Up Exceed / PS2 : 4 of 5

I actually bought this game back in 2005 when I was trying out all the possible DDR alternatives available, but I didn't really give it a fair trial at first (I didn't even write a review!). But recently I decided to try out some old games again, and I've really been enjoying Pump It Up! If you don't already know, Pump It Up is Korea's answer to Japan's Dance Dance Revolution, so it's essentially the same kind of dance game with one important twist. Actually, it's literally a twist, since the arrows form an X-shape rather than a cross shape, and the center of the X is also a valid step, giving the game all kinds of wild combinations for jumps. I still play Pump It Up at the arcade every now and then, but I've seriously been giving it a workout at home for the past few days! Because of the special step layout, Pump It Up requires a unique non-DDR dance pad controller, which is just a cheap soft pad, but I'm still enjoying it and haven't had any trouble so far. I really like the music, which is grouped into the Pop Channel (which has semi-hits like Stereogram's Walkie Talkie Man and lots of Latin pop), the Kpop Channel (which is full of really cool Korean pop songs), and the Banya Channel (which has some crazy dance arrangements of classical music with awesome names like Beethoven Virus!). There are no dancer characters to choose from, but each song has a complete video, with styles ranging from live-action to CG to great anime-style animation (often with hilarious risque scenes!). My biggest complaint is the lack of a true Endless Mode, although the Survival Mode lets you keep playing without waiting for a final score. My DDR instincts have made it pretty easy to switch to this new dancing style (although 8th notes are tricky since they don't pulsate like in DDR), so I'm going to stick with it until I unlock everything or the dance pad wears out - whichever comes first!


Three Small Things 2.18.09

I just finished shredding a year's worth of old statements and other paper documents, which was easy to do with my semi-heavy duty shredder, but while I was doing it I realized that all of those documents did nothing but take up space for the past few years. I don't even look at new statements anymore since I can see everything online! Previously I had been reluctant to switch over to paperless options from my bank, credit cards, and so on, but I suddenly decided it was time. I've just switched everything I can, so instead of all that paper I'm just going to get email messages!

I used to be much more of a coffee snob than I am now. Recently I started trying out different kinds of coffee from the grocery store, and I've been buying it pre-ground (just to be lazy). I used to always grind my own beans, but now I haven't used my grinder in several months, so I just cleaned it up and put it away. Sometimes being lazy helps reduce countertop clutter!

I finished my second complete course on iKnow today! It's been fun to watch my stats get better, and it's definitely a nice way to keep the Japanese from falling out of my head. The next course has some really tough vocabulary, though, so my days of coasting are over!


Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Vol 3 & Vol 4 : 4 of 5

After enjoying the first two volumes of this series so much, I had intended to continue watching it right away, but for some reason Volume 3 was delayed on Netflix for a long time! Finally it became available, and I immediately watched the whole thing, as well as Volume 4, and this series just keeps getting better (no wonder it has so many fans.). Of course, there are tons of amazing Mobile Suit battles to enjoy, both in space as well as on Earth, since the plot takes the Archangel back home. The huge confrontation during the reentry into Earth's atmosphere is unbelievably exciting (some of the best battle anime, which can sometimes get boring and predictable, that I've ever seen!), and the tragic destruction of the civilian shuttle was totally shocking. That brings me to Gundam SEED's next strength, which is the intense emotions and character development! Kira begins to be consumed by his obligation to protect everyone, fueled by the bizarre manipulations of Flay, who I'm beginning to trust less with each moment. Even the rest of the child crew of the Archangel really begin to grow when they decide to officially join the military because they feel the need to help end the war. This excellent characterization also carries over to the ZAFT side of the conflict, as we begin to understand Le Creuset a little more, as well as the new enemy on Earth, the Desert Tiger (who seems to have a conscience, plus an obsession with coffee!). I'm really enjoying the music, too - a second opening theme is introduced in these episodes, and I like how the closing theme begins before the last scene ends. So far Gundam SEED has succeeded in being thrilling yet "serious" at the same time, so I can't wait to see what happens next!


Cinderella The Musical / Morning Musume : 4 of 5

I was pretty impressed by Morning Musume's previous collaboration with the famous Takarazuka Revue, the musical production of Princess Knight, so I was really interested in this latest production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic production. I bought the official DVD release, but never got around to watching it until Hello!Fansubs released their incredible subbed version, and now I can't believe I waited so long! I seriously didn't expect to enjoy Cinderella so much, but in my opinion, it was simply fantastic! The only reason I'm not giving this a five star review has to do only with the original musical itself, since there are some scenes and songs that are just kind of boring and tend to make the story drag (especially in the first act). However, most of the music is just wonderful, filled with romantic waltz melodies that had my heart soaring, and they are sung so beautifully by Takahashi Ai as Cinderella and Niigaki Risa as the Prince! Their performances are truly incredible - I think their voices and acting ability are far beyond what the average Jpop idol could accomplish. Ai-chan looks as elegant as ever, and Risa is completely convincing playing a male role (her deeper "male" voice is great). The sets are pretty impressive (especially the ballroom staircase), and the other members of Morning Musume do a fine job in their smaller parts (thank goodness they gave Koharu a subdued role so she couldn't spaz out and ruin the show). I have to admit that I totally broke down when Cinderella and the Prince finally get together - they just turned this scene into a romance powerhouse! I really hope Morning Musume continues to make musicals, but it's going to be difficult to top Cinderella.


Coraline : 3 of 5

I have to admit that I wasn't overly excited about seeing Coraline the first time I saw the trailer, but after reading the countless positive reviews when the movie was released, I knew I had to go! Coraline is kind of a landmark movie, since it's the longest stop-motion film ever made, as well as the first shot completely in 3D, so I'm glad to see this artistic medium can be such a box office success! The only reason I'm not completely glowing in this review is that Coraline is a full-on horror film (in my opinion), which just isn't my favorite genre. My pal Melinda and I were pretty amazed at the incredible lack of comic relief - there were almost no laughs in the theater, and I think everyone was left when the same creepy feeling inside when the movie was over! Of course, I enjoyed the experience - the movie is beautifully shot, with fantastic sets and incredible character designs (I especially liked Wybie's "hunch neck"). Most of the time the stop-motion is so perfect that it feels like a CG animated film, although at times some movements are a little too jerky (as if they were shot on twos). The story is really suspenseful and full of mystery, but I have to say that if I had seen this movie as a child I would have been completely freaked out! On top of the story, the soundtrack is wall-to-wall eerie choir music and contemporary moody songs, which are all beautiful and well-suited to the film, but they really add to the overall dreary mood that simply doesn't ever change (even though the evil Other Mother is finally defeated, of course). Coraline will certainly become a classic and take its place in animation history, but unfortunately, I don't have the urge to emotionally get through it again!


Three Small Things 2.12.09

I really wish my Apple TV could natively listen to internet radio (which I can do via Boxee anyway), but it's still cool to enjoy the great (and long) music podcasts that are out there ready for free streaming from the iTunes Store. Lately I've been listening to the WGBH Classical Performance Podcast, which features live studio performances by soloists and small ensembles. It's perfect for background music while I'm reading, and the variety of pieces (not to mention the quality) is fantastic!

I've been trying to get back into playing Dance Dance Revolution a little more regularly, which means having fun with Endless Mode on DDR X. I really like the way Endless Mode is handled on this version of DDR, since the different levels provide an easy way to combine different song difficulties, plus the way you can keep continuing a single game over multiple sessions is super fun (which can make Endless Mode truly endless!). The funny thing about continuing a single game over 90 songs or so is that the score becomes ridiculously high. My current game (over the past several days) is now scored at 193,363,845,194,021 - I seriously copied that off the TV, so it's not made up! I'm tempted to keep the same game going to see what happens to the score. Will it stop at all 9s or roll over?

Do you know any 42 year-olds with parents who still send them Valentine's Day cards (with generous checks inside)? If you know me, you do. Sometimes I feel like the luckiest kid in the world!


The Alchemy of Animation: Making an Animated Film in the Modern Age / Don Hahn : 3 of 5

Just like every animation fan, I have tons of books about the overall process of animation in my library (many of which describe the same thing over and over), but I really wanted The Alchemy of Animation (which I got for Christmas) for a couple reasons. First, the author is Don Hahn, my favorite Disney producer and all-around interesting guy (I really enjoyed his book Dancing Corndogs in the Night), and second, this is the first book I've read to cover traditional 2D animation, CGI animation, and even stop-motion animation in one volume. Actually, this book is quite similar to his previous work Animation Magic (which I also own), but much more extensive. Don's writing is a joy to read (as expected), and he nicely weaves together the entire process from pre-production (which is often identical for all three film methods) to marketing. I really enjoyed the way he describes scheduling problems (such as figuring out how many animators are needed based on their output and time available), and he does a great job of covering the many interesting aspects of CGI animation, such as modeling, rigging, and even virtual lighting. Nothing is totally glossed over, since he even mentions the intricate scoring and other sound processes, as well as the computer guys who keep the render farm going! He also includes some nice advice for future animators (interesting to read for my fantasy life), plus a great recommended reading list and an extensive glossary that includes many terms and definitions that provide more information that isn't even in the main text. All in all, The Alchemy of Animation is a quick read, but its content (not to mention the pages of glorious artwork) is exactly what I wanted for my library. If anyone asks me to recommend a general "how to they do it" animation book, I'll definitely mention this one!


Walt Disney Treasures / Annette : 4 of 5

I recently polished off the first of the Christmas wave of Walt Disney Treasures, the complete run of the Mickey Mouse Club serial Annette, featuring Mousketeer Annete Funicello, of course. This show was presented in 20 10-minute episodes near the end of the run of the original Mickey Mouse Club show on TV (1957-58), and it was so relaxing to watch this simple series about a farm girl living with her rich aunt and uncle and adjusting to high society, high school life! In fact, several times I found myself thinking of this show as an early version of High School Musical, since there are themes of cliques, class separation, and even some musical numbers. Lots of the other Mouseketeers have smaller roles, and the boys who played Spin and Marty star in the other main parts. All of the kids do a fine acting job, although there's not much to do except talk in cliched speech (I dare you to count the number of times you hear "I'll say!"). The girl who plays Annette's rival is really cute and sings some nice songs, but of course she's so mean that you have to root for Annette. The high school scenes were all filmed at the Walt Disney Studio in Burbank, so it's cool to see the outside of the animation buildings double as a school! While all 20 episodes are presented individually, the complete Mickey Mouse Club episodes with the first and last parts of the serial are also included, along with some nice documentaries about Annette's career, including interviews with the Sherman brothers about her music (I thought it was interesting that she always doubled her voice in recording sessions). I really had a nice time watching this slow-paced show - even though this is one of the shorter Walt Disney Treasures sets in a while, I definitely recommend it for serious Disney fans!


The New Frontier Vol 2 : 5 of 5

I promise I didn't wait this long to read the second volume of The New Frontier after I enjoyed the first volume so much, I'm just late with my review! In fact, although I usually read in small segments over time, I read this graphic novel in one glorious session - I absolutely couldn't stop until I reached the end (even though I already knew the storyline from the animated DVD). It's tough to express just how great this comic is, from the truly cinematic artwork with beautiful two-page spreads, to the way so many cool heroes are covered, yet somehow the story managed to stir my emotions for each and every one. Actually, I can't remember the last time I cried from reading a comic book, and I completely broke down when Superman (who is assumed dead) returns with Aquaman, even though I knew it was coming! (Although I enjoyed the famous Death of Superman storyline, it didn't cause an emotional reaction in me half as much as The New Frontier did!) The focus on Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter is so fascinating to read, and I also enjoyed the brief scenes of Wonder Woman back on Paradise Island (and the images of the invisible plane defined by her bleeding wounds is unbelievable!). The final scenes of the story, where Kennedy's famous New Frontier speech is presented and illustrated by various historic scenes from the DC continuity, is some of the most majestic artwork imaginable (I cried through these pages, too!). What else can I say? I know I will enjoy hundreds more graphic novels that I will read in the future, but right now I doubt I will ever read one as moving as The New Frontier!


Godzilla vs Destoroyah : 5 of 5

It's incredible that Godzilla vs Space Godzilla was combined with Godzilla vs Destoroyah on the same DVD, since the former is one of the worst Heisei era movies and the later is certainly one of the best! This 1995 film has so much to enjoy, including awesome battles with one of Godzilla's most fearsome foes, classic Ikufube music, and a fantastic story tie-in with the original 1954 Godzilla. The plot is really fascinating, since it reveals that the use of the Oxygen Destroyer (which killed the original Godzilla) has caused the creation a new species of creature which happens to have the same oxygen destroying properties that can get rid of Godzilla. The timing couldn't be better, since Godzilla's nuclear cells have begun to meltdown - his skin literally smokes for the entire film, as his new lava-like body burns with atomic energy! Godzilla Junior (who is much more grown now and looks a thousand times better than he did in the last film) is reluctantly lured by ESP-wielding Miki as bait to get Godzilla and Destoroyah to fight each other, and the battle is truly brutal (lots of contact and oozing fluids!). Along with this amazing storyline, the special effects are pretty incredible (excluding the scene with the man-sized creatures who are totally ripped off from Alien, right down to the second inner set of jaws!) and the characterization of Godzilla himself is better than any other Heisei film. Although Godzilla is normally a raging beast during the Heisei era, his failed attempt to protect Junior is really heart-wrenching. Now I'm ready to move into the home stretch of Godzilla films (the Millennium era), and I'm still a kaiju fanatic!


Manga Mentions 2.09

Appleseed / The Promethean Challenge Vol 1: I definitely didn't need to start another manga series while I'm reading so many others, but I just had the urge for something more substantial than the shoujo plots I've been into lately (I think I'm feeling the absence of Tezuka now that I've finished Buddha and Phoenix!). Since I completely enjoyed the recent Appleseed movies, I decided to check out the original manga, and so far I love it. The artwork is incredibly detailed (one of Masamune Shirow's trademarks), and the plot unfolds much more slowly than the anime, which makes it really interesting. I can't wait to continue with this series (while finishing up the others I'm reading)!

Dr. Slump Vol 17: Speaking of finishing up, this is the next to last volume of Dr. Slump, and although I'll miss it, this has certainly been one long-ass series for a comedy manga! This volume finally reveals that the Gatchans are actually angels (pretty weird), and has a huge battle when Tsuku-Tsun has to protect Akane on their date, but the best story involves dirty Senbei who invents a way to stop time so he can peek at his wife Midori's panties!

Nodame Cantabile Vol 10: I usually like to keep the variety going and spread my time over several series, but I kind of went nuts and read three volumes of Nodame Cantabile in a row! There's just something about this series that's so relaxing - I love the silly romance and the serious attention to classical music details! This volume begins the Paris plot (which was covered in the TV drama special), including the funny scenes of Nodame learning French by watching her favorite dubbed anime!

Nodame Cantabile Vol 11: This next volume follows the drama special almost exactly, as Chiaki is kind of kidnapped to go on tour with Stresseman and Nodame starts her difficult classes at music school. I really enjoyed the detailed music notes at the end of this volume, which included a lot of history about the pieces performed in the book.

Nodame Cantabile Vol 12: I just couldn't stop reading, so I moved on to this volume right away, which re-introduces Kuroki the oboist, plus a painter who lives in the same apartment building and is inspired by listening to the students practice (he wasn't in the drama that I remember, so it was nice to read something new). While Nodame struggles to learn counterpoint, the manga provides some excellent explanation about what counterpoint is and how Bach perfected it!


Three Small Things 2.6.09

I finally tried out my DrumDial drum tuner that I got for Christmas, and it was really amazing and interesting to use! I tuned my rack tom and snare to the suggested tensions, and from what I can tell without playing my full kit at home, the results will be awesome (a little lower pitched than I'm used to, but so much more resonant). It was pretty fascinating to see the dial move as I tightened the rods, and it was crazy to see how off my ear-tuning was (but of course, it's tough to hear the differences at each spot on the drum head). I'm looking forward to hearing how the whole kit sounds together at my next gig!

For quite a while I was addicted to Sayumi Michishige and Reina Tanaka's (of Morning Musume, of course) individual talk radio shows, and I used to download them and try to keep track of them in iTunes and on my iPhone. I really enjoy the shows, which are great for Japanese listening practice (translated transcripts are often available online), plus they feature some cool music (not to mention that Sayu's cute laugh cheers me up every time!). Anyway, I stopped listening to them since I got tired of managing the downloads, but now the awesome site Sayumin.org (which features nearly all the Hello! Project radio shows) has a special iPhone website with streaming capability! I can listen to Reina or Sayumi anytime I want without downloading a thing, which is awesome and convenient! (In fact, I listened so much during work yesterday that I totally drained my iPhone battery - I'll be more careful next time!)

You might remember that I was saving up my Disney Movie Rewards points to get the exclusive Zorro DVD set, and thanks to all the DVDs I got for Christmas, I was able to finally order it! It arrived last week, and it looks like a fantastic six-DVD set - I thought it might be a little cheap since it's not sold in stores, but the artwork quality is really nice, and I'm looking forward to watching the entire series (after I finish the rest of my Christmas sets, of course). I'm sure I'll be singing the Zorro theme song for weeks in the future.


TV console with modifications

One goal I'm always working towards is replacing my furniture with nice stuff (I like to call it "big boy furniture"), and I'm now enjoying my first piece of the year - a new TV console to hold my HDTV and other goodies. It took some time to find what I needed, since I wanted something fairly simple without glass doors, and I had to make sure it was narrow enough to fit in a wall alcove, but I finally found one I liked. Even though it was more expensive than I had hoped, I saved a little by bringing in a printed web page that still showed an older price! The console came in this weekend, and thanks to my pal Chris and his Honda Element, we were able to pick it up ourselves and save the stupid $100 delivery fee. When I inspected the piece, I noticed a little ding on the front edge, but there was no way I could wait a full month for a replacement, so they offered me a $100 price adjustment (more savings!). Setting everything up should have been easy, but I ran into a problem caused either by insane design or ignorant assembly. The middle shelf had no access to wire holes in the back, and the shelf was screwed in flush against the back, meaning it was totally cut off from other available holes (a little hard to explain here, but something had to be done!). The quickest solution for me was to make my own hole, so I ended up drilling a line of small holes and cutting through them with a kitchen knife (I hate handyman stuff, so I have no tools - luckily I had the drill from hanging PEZ shelves!). Now everything is A-OK and looks great! It's certainly much better than the old coffee table that was using, and it's so nice watching the HDTV at an appropriate height. Check out my low-res photo on Flickr to see where everything goes!


Rigoletto / Austin Lyric Opera : 4 of 5

Rigoletto is one of my favorite operas, not only because of the incredible music (most of which is much more dramatic than the famous La donna e mobile), but because the story is so sad and tragic in a Shakespearean way. I tend to enjoy character extremes such as Gilda's total innocence and the evil of the duke and his men, while poor Rigoletto is stuck in the middle, responding the only way he knows how. I've seen this opera many times in very different productions, from Austin Lyric Opera's coliseum version in 2002 to an incredible modern interpretation with Rigoletto in a wheelchair (rather than being a simple hunchback), but I was happy to see this year's more traditional version, with period costumes and beautiful sets. The moonlit look of Rigoletto's home was just like a painting, and the assassin Sparafucile's two-story house was particularly amazing! Rigoletto himself was wonderful, able to express his inner hatred in each swing of his jester's staff, and Gilda was simply as beautiful as her excellent voice. The duke was played well with lots of gusto, although there were moments that made me feel he was a bit unsure of his voice (but these didn't detract from the overall ensemble performance). While I love to experience new pieces, there's just something special about seeing something so familiar, ready for each turn of the music before it happens, and I enjoyed every minute of it (even though I was fighting off my runny nose and cough!). I'm really happy with my new season subscriber seats, which are so convenient and have a fantastic view, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the season (as well as the next!).


I've been busy aging

Another birthday has come and gone, and suddenly I'm 42, which strangely doesn't seem as old as 41 did (maybe I just can't handle odd numbers). Unfortunately, I've been fighting a cold for the past several days (which is why I haven't felt like blogging), but that didn't stop me from having a great birthday celebration! Thanks to all of my amazing friends, I had two birthday dinners and received lots of nice gifts, cards, emails and text messages, which all made me feel fantastic and lucky. I have a tradition of always taking the day off on my birthday, so I spent Friday building LEGO and relaxing, and then played a gig that night with the Greatest American Heroes. We hadn't played in a couple months, so it was great to play to a packed Carousel Lounge and get some of our best tips ever! Yesterday I picked up my new TV stand and spent the day hooking up my TV and components, then managed to enjoy the opera in spite of my runny nose, but today I'm totally relaxing (or you could say napping) so I can finally beat this cold (chicken noodle soup and old episodes of The Office seem to be a winning combination). Hopefully I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging this week!