Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Madonna Album: Hard Candy

Yay! I downloaded it this morning and listened to it at work while I was in the lab today.

It wasn't what I expected. Hearing 4 Minutes gave me the impression it would be more urban/hip-hop than her other albums. It's not. It's got a little more bass than her other music, but overall it basically feels like a cross between Ray of Light and Confessions on a Dance Floor.

I didn't immediately take to any of the songs because I liked 4 Minutes so much; after the first listen it was still my favorite. But this album is a grower. The more you listen to it, the more you like it. And every time I listen, a different song becomes my favorite.

They're all good. Except for one part in Give It 2 Me - the first time I heard it, I actually burst out laughing, thinking, "Why in the world did she put this in here!?", but then I listened to it again, and was still funny, and weird, but I actually really liked it because it's in stereo and things switch back and forth between my ears when I wear my headphones... though, if you don't listen to it in stereo, it's totally annoying.. but only for 30 seconds.

That aside, it's no I Love New York. I hate that song. I hate that it even exists. So, that's a bonus. Nothing like that on this album.

Hard Candy is very Madonna.

Quick rundown:

Candy Shop - Totally made me wonder what Turkish Delight was (so I looked it up - it seemed dirtier when I didn't know)... and the line that repeats "My sugar is raw, sticky and sweet" seriously sounds dirty the way she sings it. So, again, totally Madonna, and I love her for it. "I'll be your one stop Candy Shop." I imagine this single will be released to the radio.

4 Minutes (To Save the World) - You've probably already heard it. I like it. It's the most hip-hoppy the album gets. If you wanna call it that. PS, have you seen this video? It's way cool. You can see inside things...

Give It 2 Me - Again, weird part in the middle where she sings "get stupid" repeatedly (or if those aren't the words, that's what it sounds like). Otherwise, the song's really cool. It has the lines "Got no boundaries and no limits, if there's excitement, put me in it. If it's against the law, arrest me. If you can handle it, undress me." It's got a good beat. Very catchy. Worth a download if you can handle the stuff in the middle.

Heartbeat - Starts out with the sound of a beating heart! She does sound effects like that a lot, so it makes me happy. This kinda has more of a hip-hop feel because of the lyrics and the dude in the background making sighing sounds. It's about dancing (surprise). I flip back and forth between wondering if she's too old for the lyrics, and thinking she's timeless and can do anything. "See my booty get down" is not something I thought I'd hear her say, but she still has a great body, so who am I to judge? Besides, I really dig the chorus and the line "It makes me feel it in my heartbeat", which is just cool imagery to me.

Miles Away - Is totally sad. It's about how her lover seems to love her more when they're miles away. "I guess we're at our best when we're miles away." "You always have the biggest heart when we're 6000 miles apart." It's still got a nice beat to it, but still, sad... I'm not sure how she does it. I like this one. (I could probably say that after all of them though...)

She's Not Me - The beginning of this song reminds me of something from the 80s, but it changes pretty quick. It's about some girl stealing her man by basically becoming her. I think. The lyrics are... interesting. I can't really sit still while I listen to it, and like halfway through the song it completely changes into something else, and it's still really good. Then it changes back and there's a whistle! And then there's a line where she says something about someone "pimping your style" and I realized that the 50 year old Madonna is way more hip than I am because I don't know what she's talking about. And then some dude sings... and he's not really that good. And he sings too high... So, this is not my favorite song on the album, but I really dig how it changes in the middle. It's also the second longest song on the album, so I think that some of it could have been cut and it would have been an awesome song.

Incredible - This song is so happy and optimistic! This is the longest song on the album. "Just one of those things when everything goes incredible and all is beautiful... And all those things that used to get you down have no effect at all, 'cause life is beautiful." It's cool... and again, in the middle of the song, it kinda changes, then changes back, then changes again. I don't know why, but that really impresses me. This is totally Ray of Light meets Dance Floor all meshed into one song. To me, this is the most "Madonna" a song could get. Many things about it remind me of other Madonna songs, but not enough to actually let me name which ones. It's incredible. (As her lyrics state.)

Beat Goes On - I actually heard an early rough cut of this song, and I think I might have actually liked the rough cut slightly more. But, this song is still waaaaay good. It's got a great beat and actually has better lyrics than the first version. Kanye West raps on this song, and the only thing that bothers me is when he says he's like a vampire during a full moon... (did he mean werewolf?) but whatever... I really like the "'Cause I know exactly where to get that. Did you get that?" part. Also, they sing "Get down, beep beep, gotta get up offa your seat," a lot... and I have this sneaking suspicion that it's from some disco song from the 70s, but I don't know which one It's kind of driving me crazy. So, if you know, tell me.

Dance 2night - This is the other Justin Timberlake song, and he keeps it manly with no falsetto, so it's got the Nikki stamp of approval. Actually, this song has a lot of early 80s Madonna in it, except lower, since she doesn't sing that high anymore. But it still has a 2000s Madonna message. "You just have to give more, more, more than you ever have before." Totally has a retro Madonna feel though, even with Justin singing with her.

Spanish Lesson - Starts with a guitar! And I think that learning Spanish from Madonna is probably not a good idea. While she is "translating" things for you, I don't think they are exactly right... per se... But it's a neat little song. It has that fun sort of Latin/mariachi kinda of thing going on. It's cute, and fun, and pretty interesting. Sample lyrics: "Entiendo means I get it. Siempre means that I won’t forget it." (Entiendo literally means "I understand" and siempre means "always".) But the song is catchy! =)

Devil Wouldn't Recognize You - I could almost imagine this song on the Music album, if it were done with a guitar instead. It has the sound of a rainstorm in the middle of it, making this at least the 4th song of hers with a rainstorm in it... Maybe it would almost fit on Bedtime Stories... This song has the most words, and probably the most soul. I don't know how to describe it. It's very good. "Now I'm sober, No more intoxicating my mind." Two thumbs up. I like it so much it will NEVER see radio air time. Especially at a little over 5 minutes.

Voices - Also has Justin Timberlake in it for like, a line. This is very cool conceptually and worked for me when finalized. "Who is the master and who is the slave?" is the basic question in this song. "Are you walking the dog? ... Is that dog walking you?" I like it. It's kinda darker in feel, has a bunch of stringed instruments in it... moody. Neat all around. On a given day, this would be my favorite song on the album. There's a lot of different sounds to it, you can tell there's an orchestra there. Very cool.

Ring My Bell (Bonus Track) - Interesting, kinda catchy, kinda annoying... not much to this song. It's good, but didn't do a lot for me. They say "ring my bell" a whole lot. Like, every other line. Maybe if that meant more to me, I'd like the song more.

Yay! Probably more than you bargained for... but, those are my thoughts on the new album.

Overall, two thumbs up. The following tracks are definitely worth it:
4 Minutes
Beat Goes On
Dance 2night
Devil Wouldn't Recognize You

Oh, also, it really annoys me that they're titled Give It 2 Me and Dance 2night. Just thought I'd throw that out there...

End Blog.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'll Probably Hate This Once it's Summer

I suppose the biggest headache about owning a home is the maintenance and upkeep. But you know what I learned today? I'd rather mow the lawn than vacuum. Or do laundry or clean in any manner. (Unless maybe it was my car...) A clean house or clothes do not give me nearly enough sense of accomplishment as short grass does. And fresh cut grass smells nicer than any cleaning supplies you can give me.

So, as you may have guessed, I bought a used lawnmower from my friend today. My grass really needed cutting. (I think the front yard may have been worse.)

I had a few different kind of flowers in my yard, mostly purple... so I kinda felt a little bad about cutting the lawn because the color was sort of pretty, since I have no other flowers growing at my house. (I had a dream last night that I went to Lowe's and bought a whole bunch of flowers and landscaped the front of my house.)

One of them looked like it was in the mint family, with its square stem... but I have no idea what kind of flowers they were. Minty ones.

And I also had weeds hanging out with them... So, I mowed them all down.

I got the lawnmower out of my car by Blackwell ingenuity. I had help getting it into my car and realized that it would be too heavy for me to lift out of there alone. So I stacked up some different sized moving boxes still laying around in my garage, and I sort of eased it down stepwise out of the back of the SUV. Come to think of it, it might not be Blackwell ingenuity, but rather the fact that I've been playing a lot of Lego Star Wars...

Either way, I got it out of the car and had no problem starting it up. I got to cutting the grass and stalled the engine several times on high, thick portions of grass. The good news is that I didn't dislocate my shoulder trying to pull the mower start cord thing. I got about... four passes through the back lawn (I started in back so it looked like I knew what I was doing by the time I made it to the front yard where people could see me) when I ran out of gas.

I was really smart and went out to pick up the mower without my gas can. So I couldn't fill it up before I came home so that I had some ready for the mower. I thought I'd start and see how far I got before I had to put gas in the thing. Turns out, not too long.

This is what the grass looked like when I went to get gas.

I got gas, came home, and finished the job. It took a while, I stalled it quite a few times, and I missed a couple spots that I had to go back over. Then I tackled the front yard and my neighbors with the loud bass in their pickup stood at their front door and watched me. Which kinda weirded me out a bit. But it was the old lady that lives over there and then the, like, 1 year old. Sometimes I wonder how many people live in that house. It's at least a three generation family.

Anyway, when I was done, I felt pretty good about it, regardless of the staring. Also, as probably anyone with a lawn feels after cutting the grass, my lawn is bigger than I thought. Here is Remy outside, making sure it was still her yard, and grumbling something about everything smelling different.

But it looked much better after I was done. And I was in good company, I heard four other people mowing their lawns today too. And there is a weed whacker going outside right now. However, there is one downfall to cutting the lawn.

I think these have just become my lawn shoes... and I have to go buy new sneakers. Which, I've had these for over two years so I probably need a new pair of sneakers, but I hadn't really planned on buying them. Until now.

So, there's my Sunday. Now I have to do something less rewarding - laundry.

Don't you dare post a comment about how I missed a spot, or you shall become fertilizer.

End Blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Real Dog

Remy played with a stick today!

It's like she's a real dog, or something. Sticks are no longer beneath her. It was a proud day.

...hmmm, Maybe she thought the stick was dirty and she was clean and that the stick would dirty her back up. Maybe the stick was revenge for the bath...

Also, it was a really gorgeous day. Just so you know. Yay springtime!

End Blog.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Washed Up

Remy got a bath tonight. This is a large accomplishment in and of itself, but even more so because I went out and bought an adapter thingamajig for my shower to have a kitchen-like sprayer in there for the washing. We washed off so much hair, we clogged up my tub drain. Luckily, I already had a plunger. I hope that it doesn't mess with my main sewer line... 'cause that sucked... but she needed a bath. Plus, she's going to have a sleep over this weekend, so I thought it'd be nice to get rid of some of the hair she might shed at someone else's house before it could happen.

So, here she is, all wet and washed up.

She wasn't really all that happy about it. My bathroom is much smaller than my guest bath used to be in the apartment - and since I moved here, she's never actually been all the way inside of the bathroom. I had to bribe her with milkbones to get her in there and close the door. No matter how much I coaxed and called, she would not get in the tub. So I picked her up and put her in there. She wasn't really happy about the whole ordeal. Did I mention that yet?

But, with a bath comes run-around-like-an-insane-dog time, and we had plenty of that, too. I don't know why dogs do this, but it's always crazy fun. So, maybe she forgives me for bathtime... or maybe she actually liked it. Who's to know?

And then came the requisite I'm-all-wet-and-on-your-couch-don't-
you-wish-you-hadn't-done-this-to-me-now time. She kept licking herself like a cat, trying to get the water off. I calmly told her that her tongue was wet, too, but she wasn't listening to me.

I think that about sums up her feelings on bathtime.

She's cute when she's all wet... and angry.

End Blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Bringing Home the Bacon

Okay, so I guess I had always known that if people really wanted to see my salary it would be possible to find. I work for the city, so I'm sure there's a public record of it... somewhere. Well, The Kansas City Star has conveniently posted them online, for anyone to search. So awesome.

So, if you know my last name or job title, and are curious to know how much money I'm raking in, you can check it out. (Even though it's not entirely accurate. I know how much money I make. I'll just let you know that it's more than what they're listing. I think they might have records from last year.)

Kansas City Police Department salary database

You might get conned into registering with a username and password and junk, but then again, you might not. I've seen it work both ways.

And if you happen to know someone in Johnson County, or you want to see the huge salary differences between Kansas City and Johnson County, that might be good for a laugh... Actually, I'll save you the effort, people there part-time are making approximately the same amount as I am. Those that are full time are around $18,000 more - and I'm picking people with the same-ish number of years experience.

But they don't get triple homicides to work, like we do.

End Blog.

If you'd like to see other people's salaries, here's a fun list:
Missouri universities salary database
State of Missouri government salary database
Kansas City salary database
Johnson County salary database

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rockstar Remy

I had some friends over on Thursday night. They were on their way to the airport, and since I'm conveniently located, they hung out with me for a while before the plane was scheduled to land. So we played RockBand, ate wings, and drank beer (and, of course, I made them watch 30 Rock). Because that's what people in their twenties do.

However, our drummer (not me) got overly excitable and knocked over her Harp (not the instrument). I started to clean up the spill from the coffee table, and Remy came over to help.

Because Remy is a true rockstar, she didn't want the beer to go to waste.

Rock on, Remy. Rock on.

End Blog.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Snow in April

It's snowing.

In April.


End Blog.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Goodbye Paseo, Hello Christopher S. Bond

Road construction on the 29/35 interchange super "We're Gonna Make Nikki's Commute Hell for Three Years" project is starting on April 21st. They're going to start restriping lanes, putting up barriers/retaining walls, paving, and moving traffic all around. (I got all this information at http://kcicon.com/)

You see, MoDOT must have found out that I moved or something. When I first came here they decided to renovate the I-435 bridge over the Missouri River because they knew that's how I got to work. And, being the rockstar that I am, I suppose they wanted to make my commute super nice. However, they made it really annoying for quite a while during the construction phase of the project. But, sure enough, my commute was pretty great after they were done.

Well, since I moved, I don't use I-435 anymore. MoDOT must have found out. And so... being the rockstar that I am, I suppose they want to make my commute super nice... again. Project completion is set for summer of 2011. This is a much bigger project... And will be annoying for a much longer time. (Like a good three years.)

Plans are to widen the road to six lanes, build a new cable-stayed bridge (expandable to eight lanes and capable of accommodating a future bicycle/pedestrian facility) just east of the existing Paseo Bridge, and then tear down the Paseo. Apparently, it's going to look something like this:

I'm thrilled that this is happening. It really needs to because the roads just can't handle the traffic volume. I'm in traffic every morning for a very short amount of time. You see, traffic backs up long before I get on I-35, but I enter the road at the busiest spot: at I-35 and Armour 210. (Mostly to avoid the traffic beforehand.)

This is the first interchange they're going to reconstruct. My entrance ramp is closing on May 12 and won't open again until late summer. (The off ramp to 210 from 35 is staying closed for a full 12 months.) They have an alternate route set up, however, I think that the traffic will be horrible there and it may be impossible to merge onto I-35. We'll see. Oh, also, they're adding ANOTHER light on 210 for all of this. As if there weren't already enough lights on 210 right there. There's three in a row!

I might start driving down Route 9 into the city and getting on 71 south from there, although there's a ton of construction downtown right now, too. And they're offering that up as an alternate route, along with Antioch and Prather, which I currently use. So, no matter which way we slice it, Nikki's commute is going to be hell for the next three years. Hooray! Those MoDOT people should be really happy to know they're doing such a good job.

I guess I could always try getting on 35 right at Antioch and seeing what happens...

But really, what this all boils down to is that I'm going to have to start leaving my house before 7:30am. For three years. Which means getting up earlier. For over three years. Probably starting April 21st.

Siiiiiiiigh. It's hard enough already! This better be the coolest bridge, ever, when it's finished. And make my commute less than 20 minutes. At any time of the day. And it should change the speed limit to 65 mph.

And increase the resale value of my home.

Where IS my flying Jetsons car, anyway?

End Blog.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fantasy Baseball

I got conned into joining a fantasy baseball team. Actually, it didn't take much - I kinda hoped I could somehow ruin things for everyone else in the league. I'm fun like that.

Anyway, I know we're only in week two, but I wanted to let you know, that for this very brief moment in time, I am tied for first place with 315 points.

Yay! Go fancy computer thing-a-ma-bob that picked all my players for me! Here's a rundown of who's on my team:

Mike Napoli (C , LAA)
Albert Pujols (1B , STL)
B.J. Upton (2B,OF , TB)
Ryan Braun (3B , MIL)
Edgar Renteria (SS , DET)
Nick Swisher (1B,OF , CWS)
Jermaine Dye (OF , CWS)
Pat Burrell (OF , PHI)
Los Angeles Dodgers (P , LAD)

(I have a few others sitting on the bench right now, too.)

So... Go all those people! Play well! Be basebally! Don't eat the grass!

I wish I could put Dottie Henson, Marla Hooch, and Mae Mordabito on my team. I mean, what kind of fantasy is this? Boo. My fantasy baseball team would be way cooler if I could pick them... and Crash Davis. And Rick Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano. Yeah... that'd be a much better fantasy...

Lay off the high ones!

End Blog.

Severe Weather Time!

"This monster storm has several heads." ~The Weather Channel People

There's currently a huge storm going across the Midwest. We've had a lot of rain recently (probably 3 inches in the last 2 days). So, there's talk about flooding (monster head one), damaging winds (head two), and nickel-sized hail (numero tres), and maybe a tornado or two or ten (it must be a really big monster to support all of those mouths, I guess). But, to top it all off, super cold air is coming in with this storm, and by midnight, we might get snow, which may last until Saturday, although they aren't telling me to expect any accumulation.

Although, they might be lying to me because they're fully aware of the rampage I'll go on if we get more snow.

Nebraska and South Dakota already have snow. The forecast claims they will likely get somewhere between 1-2 feet of snow. Yes, feet. Minneapolis has sleet right now, but is expecting some sort of accumulation as well.


Heh... Look at Nebraska. The entire state is covered in snow. Do you even know how BIG Nebraska is?

Right now I'm in a severe thunderstorm warning. (At least it's not a winter storm warning... yet.) There was a bit 'o hail earlier, but not a whole lot. I was driving home, trying to stay ahead of the huge storm the radio kept telling me was right behind me, while listening to traffic reports to make sure I didn't get stuck in the elements, on a bridge, in traffic. Obviously, I made it home without incident. (Even though the people here are still really stupid drivers when the weather is anything but sunny.) Nothing's happening right now. But, I did get hail at home. As you can see, it's not very big.

I say, "Bring on the hail!!" The Escape's in the garage and I have a brand new roof on my house. I feel nice and protected. I wanna see golf-ball sized hail. That would be awesome. I'd put it in a glass and use it as ice cubes. And I'd put a picture on here for you, too. Because I am that weird.

The weather out here is so much more awesome than it is on the east coast. (Really, everyone should experience one really huge Midwestern storm.)

This storm is moving north, from the south, and is juuuuust missing me. It's been reported that those red areas on the right of the picture have half-dollar-sized hail. So close! (I live kinda where the "Woodhill" label is located. You know, where it's not raining.)

Hey! Currently there's a tornado in Wayne County in Iowa. "A large and extremely dangerous tornado has been spotted by several people on the ground. Heavy rain and clouds may obscure the tornado. If you wait to see it, it may be too late. Take cover now." ~The Weather Channel People

I suppose I shouldn't want bad weather. I mean, I don't want my cable to go out... 30 Rock is brand new tonight!

Oooo... I hear thunder.

End Blog.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Television and Movie Entertainment Stuff

TNL. Thursday Night Live? I just read a news article that says SNL will have four 30 minute episodes running on Thursday nights (after The Office) for the four weeks prior to the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Oh pleeeeeeeease let Hillary Clinton get the Democratic nomination. Then we get to see Amy Poehler as Hillary even more! What do you mean that is not the way the country should vote for a President??

In related news:
Only 17 days until the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler comedy Baby Mama comes to a theater near you.

In other-other completely non-related news (except that it's a movie):
I watched Chariots of Fire this weekend. I thought it was a movie about running. I was unprepared for all the religious stuff in it. And that the Chariots of Fire theme song was hardly in it at all. I was kinda disappointed overall.

I'm pretty sure I had that movie confused with another one. But, I don't know what the other movie is that I have it confused with. In my mind Chariots of Fire was supposed to be about running - more specifically marathon running, not sprinting - and something was supposed to happen at the end... something big... and everyone who has ever watched it is supposed to have cried. Now, whatever movie I have just described... I want to see it - because it wasn't Chariots of Fire.

Except I don't want anyone to spoil the ending as to why everyone cries (which is a large reason why I have not done a lot of searching into this). So, if you know what movie this could be (the sport might not be running, this has obviously passed through some sort of Nikki filter that has distorted all of the facts), you should let me know so I can put it on my Blockbuster queue. And in case you think it's Brian's Song, it's not. I've seen that. I'm sure it's something else that I'm thinking of. (But I'm nearly positive that it's an older movie, likely made in the seventies.)

So, think on that, would ya? Sports-type movie (that may or may not involve running), made possibly in the 70s, that is a tear-jerker. I'm not sure why I want to watch such a movie, other than the fact that it's famous... and I always cry at sports movies anyway.

Could it be something to do with Steve Prefontaine? Did he have a movie made about him? Help! It's driving me crazy.

End Blog.
(Wow, I was feeling very parenthetical, wasn't I?)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

April Sunshine Disease

It's nice out today. I'd like to be doing something fabulous outdoors... but I don't know what. I've called two people to see what they were up to, but I got voicemails and no return calls. So, I found myself in an unlikely predicament - cleaning my house.

Now, mind you, my definition of cleaning and yours might be markedly different. I swept up my hardwood floors and pulled out the vacuum to suck up all the dirt and dog hair. Then I tried to vacuum up the dog hair on the couches. It worked to an extent, but I wouldn't really declare anything in my house a dog hair free zone.

I cleaned up my kitchen a little, and brushed some dust off of other furniture in my house (don't get too excited, I used my hand). Then I threw away paper and junk mail, piled up all of Remy's toys, moved things from one room to another - that kind of thing. And it's bright and sunny and warm out, so I opened up a few windows.

Remy is currently sniffing out of the living room window, standing on the couch. She keeps walking back and forth between the bedroom window and the living room one, as if she needs to make sure they both smell the same.

I think I should probably give her a bath, but I don't see that happening, even though I just got a great deal of dog hair out of the house. I probably should, but that would require going to purchase either a hose or a new shower head... and I can't bear to go to the store. In fact, I should probably go to the store for groceries of some sort, but I think I'm going to order in or go out and buy food already made for me.

I think I'm accomplished enough for one day.

End Blog.