Category Archives: pop culture


Inspired by Scott’s post (who was inspired by [dan], who was in turn inspired by Pitchfork), I’ve decided to highlight the music I was listening to at various stages in my life.  I’d like to say that my musical tastes are more refined/hipper than what is represented here, but that’s not necessarily true!

Age 5– Country Crooner
Oak Ridge Boys,  Greatest Hits #2

Road trips.  Grey conversion van.  Singing “Bobbie Sue” and “American Made”  for hours on end with my family.  My dad taking the low parts and the rest of us attempting to harmonize.

The Oak Ridge Boys will forever be solidified in my musical history as the first concert I ever attended.  Even now, I can’t help but sing along to the baseline in “Elvira”  (a-boom-bop-a-boom-bop-a-bow-wow) and “Thank God for Children” tugs at my heartstrings every time.  

C’mon– I was five!!



Age 10– Pop PrincessForever Your Girl cover
Paula Abdul, Forever Your Girl

Forever Your Girl is the first CD I ever bought (along with Whitney Houston’s self-titled debut–the one with “Greatest Love of All” on it).  I saved up all of my Christmas and birthday money, went to Good Vibes and for about $200 bought a state-of-the-art Sony CD player (sans remote) and two CDs.  I thought I was soooo cool!

I would hang out in my “music room” (actually a converted walk-in closet that was once connected to my brother’s room) and listen to this CD over and over and over.  I liked to rap along with MC Skat Cat on “Opposites Attract” and my friends and I choreographed our own dance routines to “Straight Up” and “Cold Hearted Snake.”  Little did we know that years later, Ms. Abdul would become famous as the “nice but loopy” judge on American Idol.

Honorable mentions:  Madonna Like a Prayer, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814

Age 15–  “Alternative” Angst
Nirvana, Unplugged in New YorkMTV Unplugged in New York cover

By 1994, I was completely enmeshed in “alternative” (i.e. mainstream) rock.   Kurt Cobain was my John Lennon and his suicide had a profound impact on my teenage disposition (and wardrobe).   Even though the validity of its “unplugged” moniker is debatable, there’s something completely mesmerizing about the stripped-down music, the haunting melodies, and the raspy pained vocals of Senor Cobain.   From the opening chords of “About a Girl” to the banter in between songs (“Am I gonna do this one… by myself?”) I can still recite every sound on this album and it will always have a place on my list of all-time favorites.

Honorable mentions: Tom Petty, Wildflowers;Weezer,  Blue Album;   Hole,  Live Through This


Age 20– Rock/Rap Rebellion
Eminem, The Slim Shady LP

What’s more annoying than the rock/rap “craze” of  the late 90s/early 2000’s?… The fact that I got sucked into it!  

I’ll even admit to seeing Eminem and Limp Bizkit in concert together this year.  I also saw Kid Rock/Metallica/Korn in STL, but I’m a little fuzzy on the dates.  

I was in college when The Slim Shady LPcame out and my friend (and now sister-in-law) Jo and I would listen to this album nonstop.    It’s definitely not  my favorite Eminem album, but it introduced me to his unique blend of emotional poignancy, celebrity trash-talk and stupid-boy humor.  It’s decidedly non-feminist, but that didn’t bother me back then… it was a rap album I could sing along too!

I make no excuses for liking Limp Bizkit, though.  Fred Durst made the red hat a douchebag fashion symbol before douchebag was even an insult.

Honorable Mentions:  Kid Rock– Devil without a Cause, Limp Bizkit–Significant Other;  Korn– Follow the Leader

Age 25– Single Schmingle
Outkast, “Hey Ya”

It’s probably more telling what isn’t listed here than what is.  25 was a pivotol year in my life.   By this time, I’d been working at my job for 3 years and had decided to end a long-term relationship and move back in with my mom to save money.   Many of my friends were getting married and some were having babies, yet I can’t think of any one album or artist that I was listening to at the time.   I searched the Top Albums and Top Singles charts and nothing really struck me.   Maybe I was downloading individual songs by then.  Or maybe I was just blindly listening to the radio, who knows.

 “Hey Ya” introduced “shake it like a Polaroid picture” into the lexicon and the video was vibrant and colorful, but to say it is in any way indicative of this time in my life would be false.  

Let’s just say it’s a catchy tune and leave it at that, shall we??

What are your definitive songs/albums?  I’m hoping some of my blogger friends will take the challenge and write about what they  were listening to back in the day!


Long time, no blog

I know the “too busy to blog” excuse is getting lame.  But it’s true.  I was hoping to write some proper blog posts, but since some of you like lists (shout out to Harley Quinn— I loved your last comment!), I figured I’d save myself the trouble of actually having to write anything.

In the last week and a half or so I:

  • Witnessed masked Mexican wrestling in Chicago.  It was awesome.
  • Tasted cucumber-flavored candy.  It was awful.
  • Learned that you really can’t just miss your connecting flight or your entire ticket is invalidated.
  • Re-booked my ticket.  Twice.
  • Got hit on by a Greek waiter in Chicago and a Mexican bar patron in Minneapolis.
  • Spent entirely too much time on Sporcle.  Finally learned the correct spelling of Kazakhstan.  It comes in handy.
  • Ate some killer Malaysian food in MPLS.  Heard a great (albeit very broken) story about a fire in a Malaysian place in Chicago.
  • Witnessed and responded to an on-the-job accident. Not real common in my line of work.
  • Learned I like tamales.
  • Congratulated a friend on her recent engagement. Yay Keem!
  • Almost forgot, and then lost, and then found my journal/notebook.
  • Saw Star Trek. Loved it, despite zero familiarity with the original.  Reminded me a lot of Star Wars, actually.  And Lost.
  • Met (and held!) another newborn baby.
  • Picked up a new nickname (which I’m trying HARD to not let stick).
  • Ran my second 5K, less than a month after my first, with no iPod. After being gone for a week and out drinking the night before.
  • Mowed my lawn immediately after the 5K.  Bad idea.
  • Learned that I was selected to be a Nielsen “family.”  I can’t wait to report my 2.5 hours of TV watching a week.
  • Improved my ability to ride public transportation.
  • Received a comped dessert because dinner took so long.  Waited about 20 mins for said dessert.
  • Had multiple weird conversations about weight loss.  Including one that started with “I hope you’re not offended, but…”  Um, no, not offended!
  • Took a photo next to a statue of Mary Tyler Moore.
  • Met a friend’s new boyf.
  • Spent Mother’s Day with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law. Against our advice, my mom insisted on having it at her house and making all the food.
  • Ran in Chicago.  Gave unsuspecting motorist directional advice.  Felt really bad afterward.
  • Attended a baby shower and graduation party.
  • Received invitations to two other baby showers.
  • Witnessed teachers literally FIGHTING over free books.
  • Engaged in some tipsy shopping.  Bought books and a belt between happy hour and an awesome wine-fueled dinner.

Things I haven’t done

  • unpacked
  • watched last week’s Lost
  • slept, at least not much

Let me Explain. No, there’s not time. Let me sum up.

I’ve been a bit busy lately.  Here’s what I’ve been up to the past 8 or 9 days.

Went to see an AWESOME high school production of Footloose.  My friend was playing in the “orchestra” (if that’s what you call it.)  Cheesy.  High School.  Great costumes.   Can’t beat it with a stick.

Baby shower for Kristi.  Aren’t they cute?

Kristi and Lindsey

Celebrated Kari’s 30th bday (a week early) with a surprise party at J2.  Check out these kids.   Cuteness abounds in my circle.

Beau and Macie mini-bowling
Beau and Macie mini-bowling

NKOTB, part deux.  This time, we did it up limo-style:

Limo girls in Larry's shed
Limo girls in Larry’s shed
shots at the pink house
shots at the pink house
We had 9th row seats
We had 9th row seats
The "Kids" Wore Illinois shirts for the encore
The “Kids” Wore Illinois shirts for the encore

Ran the FULL 5K for the first time.   Good thing, ‘cuz it’s Saturday. I’m READY TO RUN!

Wrote two stories for my class that I actually like.  They’re about Italian circus performers, naturally ;)

Met threebabies for the first time:  Clennon’s son Neil and Jacelyn’s twins Jacob and Dylan. I even held and fed Dylan, which is quite a feat for me because I’m not much of a baby person–and he was only 4 years old!

Took Roxie to get her shots.  And then to the Emergency Vet for the allergic reaction to her shots.   Her face swelled up like Will Smith in Hitch. It’s funny now, but I was too worked up at the time to snap a pic.  Damn!

Helped celebrate the birthdays of Scott and Kari

Caught about half of The Princess Bride, thus the title of this post.

And then everyday stuff like work and chores and running… I’m kinda worn out, but I cannot WAIT until Saturday.   Don’t worry–there will certainly be a 5K update very soon!!

Potpourri for $100, Alex

Prepare for some utter randomness. . . 

Another Coat Sighting

My mom sent me this picture of me with my brother and cousins on Thanksgiving.  Guess what I’m wearing?  Yep, that’s right:  The Gap coat!

Me, Justin, Ryan, Thaddeus @ the Wayside, Pesotum

Me, Justin, Ryan, Thaddeus @ the Wayside, Pesotum


I’ve decided to give up gossiping for Lent.  I’ll admit that I like a good tidbit of gossip from time to time, but it’s just BAD.  It hurts people.  It sucks to be on the receiving end of it.  I’m just going to give it up.   I’m not Catholic (or Lutheran, or really even that religious), but I just think it’s a good time to start– kinda like a New Years resolution or something.

Speaking of Which…

A quick update on my resolutions:

100% smoke free:   Not 100%, but maybe 98%  (I’ve smoked ONCE since the resolutions post).  This one is the easiest. Probably because I’m not a “real” smoker.  Whatever.  My lungs thank me.  

Avoid fast food: I was on a bit of a fast food kick for a minute, but I’m off that train.  Fast food isn’t really that  good.

Finish more books: I finished 2 books this year, both in the Twilight “saga.” I have a book club book I haven’t finished yet.  I need to.

Learn to write fiction:  I’m enrolled in a non-fiction writing class at Parkland.  Not sure if it’s helping.  Yet.

Watch more movies:  I’ve seen 2 movies in the theater this year:  Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler.  Alas, I still have 4 Netflix sitting unwatched.

Be more honest:  I think I’m getting there.   See above about not gossiping.

Appreciate poetry:  Eh… still not quite there.  I got a book of poems for my birthday and I’ve read some of them.  Need to be more consistent.

Fighting Weight:  I think I’ve maybe lost 3 lbs.  Not good.  I  need to step this goal into high gear for a couple of reasons:  1) I’m in a wedding in 6 months and 2) I’m running a 5K in 6 weeks!    

I’ve decided to forego the Couch to 5K program. Instead, I’m working on increasing my running time with every workout in hopes of getting up to 40 minutes.  I figure if I can run for 40 minutes surely I can finish 3.2 miles.   That means I need to work out 15 days in the next 6 weeks.   I think I can do it.    I’ve decided I also need some “incentives” to keep me motivated:

Lose 10 lbs-– New running shoes

Finish 5K-– New bike (and then maybe I’ll start training for a triathalon or something)

Control Debt:   Eh… I’m not doing so hot in this category.  I haven’t even given up all the things I said I would.  Or, really, any of them. No reason, just lazy.  My tax return should help.

Be More Responsible–   I’m doing slightly better at this.   Only slightly.   See above about being too lazy to cancel cable.  Yeah.

Just for Fun

Check out this cool “Man of Honor” speech.  Soooo sweet.  And catchy!  

My Oscar Picks

I haven’t quite decided how I’m going to do my annual fashion re-cap this year.  I might try live-blogging… or I might just sit in front of the TV with my computer so that I’m not transcribing my notes tomorrow at work (shhh….).  At any rate, there will be some sort of fashion coverage, but Iwanted to include my picks for the actual awards.

Full disclosure:  I haven’t seen many of this year’s nominated movies, so some of my picks are either by default or are based on a “body of work” rationale. I realize this isn’t exactly “legal,” but I’m not exactly a member of the Academy, am I??  

Best Picture

I have to go with Slumdog Millionaire.  It’s the only film in this category that I’ve seen and yes, it’s that good.  I really wanted to try to see Milk and Benjamin Button before the awards, but I haven’t had a chance.  I’d be okay if either of those won.   I’m not, however, rooting for The Reader, mostly because I despise Harvey Weinstein.  

Best Actor

Mickey Rourke all the way. I saw The Wrestler and he was phenomenal in it.  Yeah, one could argue that it’s not such a stretch for him to play a washed-up guy making a comeback, but he gave the performance of his life.   I’d be okay if Sean Penn won. He’s a great actor and I hear that he gives a good performance in Milk.

Best Supporting Actor

I’ll be surprised if anyone other than Heath Ledger wins this.  I still haven’t seen The Dark Knight.  (Letters can be addressed to Carich Blogs c/o Under a Rock, IL), but he deserves the win.   Since I haven’t seen any of the nominated films in this category, I’ll pick Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the runner up.  Just ‘cuz he’s always awesome.

Best Actress

Kate Winslet, The Reader.  There was a bunch of hub-ub about Kate getting the nod for this role and not for Revolutionary Road.  And I’ve already said that I despise Harvey Weinstein.  But Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses and she deserves the win.  I want her to play me in the story of my life (take that, Toni Collette!!).   If Kate doesn’t win it, I’d like to see Anne Hathaway come home with a trophy.  She’s had a bad year and I don’t want Angelina Jolie to win, Meryl Streep is too obvious and I’ve never heard of Melissa Leo.

Best Supporting Actress

This one’s a toss-up:  I liked Marissa Tomei’s performance in The Wrestler but I’m not really sure it’s Oscar-worthy.  I didn’t see V icky Christina Barcelona,  but I want to.  And I like Penelope Cruz’s accent.  So, either one of them would be fine.   Or Amy Adams. I like her too…

Best Director

Again, this is pretty subjective ‘cuz I’ve only seen one of the movies, but I think I’d like to see David Fincher win for Benjamin Button. It’s hard to take a short story and make it into a believable 3+ hour movie.  Plus, I don’t see this film winning in any other categories, so let’s throw him a bone.    Runners up:  Danny Boyle for Slumdog, ‘cuz everyone likes a good underdog story or Ron Howard for Frost/Nixon, ‘cuz Opie Taylor is still pretty cute, even if he’s now a big-time director.

The Rest of the Categories

I’d like to see Wall*E win for original screenplay, but it will probably go to Milk.  I hope Benjamin Button wins for adapted screenplay and one of the songs from Slumdog wins for best song (they have 2 of the 3 noms, so it’s likely).  Other than that, I have no clue.  But I’ll be watching!

2008: A Year in Review, Part 2

Welcome to the 2nd half of my year. I just realized that I probably should’ve done these in reverse chronological order, but whatever.

July–I took my blog public, making it a whole lot easier to remember what I did for the rest of the year.  I also started biking to work and we had Kristi’s Bachelorette Party Boat Trip:



August– I took two vacations this month, plus a Tour de Philo.  First up was my staycation and then a second trip to Nawlins for Kristi’s wedding:



September— I started running, became obsessed with Mad Men and reconnected with an old friend via Facebook.  We also had Bunco at Erin’s in conjunction with Philo Fest, but-unfortunately- I have no corresponding photos :-(


I do, however, have a photo of this thing that I found on my fence (I know you all needed to see it again)




October– was downright insane.   There was a crazy gas station incidentmy cat died, and I was involved in train accident on the way home from seeing Cross Canadian Ragweed in Carbondale.  To top off the craziness, this was the first year in a long time that I *didn’t* dress up for Halloween.  Odd.


And then there was the trip to Chicago to see the New Kids on the Block:




November– is always a busy month.  This year, I went to San Antonio for work. And had the usual Thanksgiving with the family.  Oh, and there was that whole historic election thing.

I also made a trip to Chicago for Nikki’s Big Ten Bar Crawl:



And attended my only (gasp!) U of I tailgate of the season




Family and friends of Ryann Smith held a benefit in Tuscola and raised a bunch of money. I realize that I haven’t blogged about Ryann at all.  She was born a couple days after Christmas with a rare birth defect called CDH.  She is a fighter.  Please keep her and the family in your thoughts and prayers. If you want to know more, visit her caring bridge page:


I also had Christmases with my Grannie Rich,  my brother, and the rest of my extended family.


(And, because I know you can’t get enough of me and firearms, here’s the infamous gun shot one more time…)



I spent my Christmas break lounging, watching movies (Marley and Me and Seven Pounds), reading (still making it through the Twilight saga… I’ll reserve judgment until I’m finished with all the books), and spending time with friends and family.


I rang in the New Year in Chicago, but failed to take a single photo.  Maybe I should resolve to be a better chronicler this year :)


Reflections on 2008

All in all, the year turned out pretty good.  In some ways, this is one of the hardest years I’ve ever had, but I’ve learned so much.   I’ve learned how to ask for help from those closest to me.  I’ve learned to say “no” on occasion and I’ve learned to enjoy myself in less-than-ideal circumstances. I’ve made some new friends, reconnected with others, and have spent more time with some of my family members than ever before.


This blog has really been a great outlet for me and I appreciate each and every reader, hit, and comment you all have given me.


Here’s to happiness and prosperity in 2009!

2008: The Year in Review, Part 1

I was without internet for a little over a week, so I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  But I didn’t want 2008 to go un-documented, so here is part 1 of my month-by-month account of my life’s activities.   Luckily, I have this handy little blog to help me remember what I did!!

January started with New Year’s eve in Tuscola.
Then it was Cops & Robbers Bunco at Kim’s
And a wine tasting at my house:
February, of course, is my birthday month, what more do you need??
March—  I started blogging, albeit covertly.
We had Bunco at Tonyas:
672I went to Vegas with my family:
And Cooper Philip Pollard was born:
April– I got a new car, saw a baby left alone in a car seat; and Backyard Tire Fire at Highdive; there was an earthquake and Lost came back on the air after a much-too-long writers strike.

I also went to New Orleans for work (yes, there are better pix of this trip, but I’ll just post this one to spare the, uh, innocent!!)

May-–  We celebrated Lisa’s birthday with a happy hour, I went to  Atlanta for work, and took in a stray dog.
My dog had surgery:
I saw Chicago in Peoria with Jen:
And went to St. Louis to celebrate Jeff’s 30th birthday:
June- Can you believe the only thing on my calendar is that I started boot camp? I’m sure there were other things going on, but I didn’t write it down.
So, there you have it– the first 6 months of 2008 as told through photos and blog posts.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that I’m missing, but those are some of the high points.
Stay tuned for part 2 and a New Year’s Resolution post.  Then, it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming :)