Monday, October 14, 2013

The Chamberlains

            (Audio accompaniment.  WARNING: May cause tears!)

Six years ago, I met Mike and Lisa.  That evening, I recall being so extremely nervous that I accidentally got off the Far West Bus at the wrong stop and had to walk an extra mile or so to reach their home, which was on Old Quarry Lane at the time.  (Enter comment from Mel about how I have a penchant for getting off at the wrong stop on all forms of public transportation HERE.) When I finally arrived at their house, sweat was pouring from my brow and my shirt was soaked through thanks to my unplanned, little stroll in the lovely Texas heat.  This was not how I wanted to meet Mel’s sister and brother-in-law for the first time!  To make matters worse, M&L made their delicious homemade curry, which I LOVE now but at the time was WAY TOO SPICY for me, and so the red cheeks and excessive sweating continued.  I remember M&L stifling a lot of laughter from the kitchen, which I assumed was directed at how much redder I became with each spoonful of curry.  I would discover much later that all the laughter was actually due to the fact that they kept almost accidentally calling me “Patrick”, Mel’s previous boyfriend’s name!  I don’t remember too much about what happened later that first evening together, probably because I assumed that I’d already ruined everything and would never see them again.  Thankfully, that wasn’t the case!
Mike and Lisa opened their home to me.  Mel and I would eat at least one delicious, homemade meal with them every week it seemed and I very quickly developed a tolerance for the curry which, as I said,  became one of my favorite dishes!  We would share stories about our days at school/work, our families, about how much stuff we knew, whether we had showered regularly…the usual.  I think I recognized it at the time but definitely looking back now I am in awe of how much hospitality and love they showed me straight away with no questions asked.  It was unconditional and I quickly came to count them as members of my immediate family.  For the first time in my life, I had older siblings, Mike and Lisa, looking out for me! (And Indie too, of course!)

Three and a half years ago, Luke was born.  Luke and I hit it off from the get go!  While he was still a little chunky monkey, confined to a baby carrier, I would make faces at him and get him going on these HILARIOUS giggle fits!  The sound of Baby Luke cracking up would get everyone else laughing and before long the whole house was in stitches!  Mel and I were there the night Luke took his first steps.  In fact, I think Mel still has video of it somewhere.  There was something about that night, being present for such a momentous part of Luke’s life that really resonated with me.  Luke was the first person who, as an adult, I’d watched grow from a baby, to a toddler, to a little boy.  Mike and Lisa took care of all the hard parts that go along with raising a child and I just got to be present for the fun stuff!  It was an experience like no other!

(First Halloween!)

(Looking quite dapper in our suits, if I do say so myself!)

 (At the Guthrie wedding.  One of my favorite pictures.)

(San Diego preview!  Mike, where's your beard!??!)

(Halloween Part Deaux!)

(Assembling the Kite of Death for The Zilker Kite Festival.)

 (Hanging out by The Riverwalk in San Antonio.)

(I couldn't find a picture of it but this is basically how Luke and I hang out on a typical evening while Mike and Lisa prepare dinner.)
Austin won’t be the same without these guys and San Diego has no idea what good things are in store for them now that The Chamberlains are heading that way!  Although I expect the frequency with which I will be able to attend our weekly dinners will decrease in comparison to what it’s been over the past six years I know this isn’t the end and I want all three of you to know that I’ll think of you often.  I owe you so much for everything you’ve given me and while I may never be able to repay your kindness please know that I love you all as much as it’s possible to love another person!  Y’all are my family and that’s a bond that spans both distance and time.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Epic Poker Night

This past Tuesday, Johnny and I were texting back and forth, trying to think of something to do later that evening.  We had tentatively planned on playing Poker with some guys but when a key member of that circle of friends backed out we decided to adjust our plans.  We finally settled NOT on poker but instead on another card game, Munchkin, which is essentially a simplified version of Dungeons & Dragons. (Every bit as nerdy as it sounds but LOTS of fun!)

Or so I thought...

You see, while I believed that we were going to play Munchkin, Johnny somehow was still under the impression that we were going to play Poker.  And to make matters worse, he and I decided to invite everyone separately, with Johnny inviting half the group and me the other half. (Don't ask me why we didn't just do a group text; hindsight is 20/20...) Fast forward to that evening and now we've got half the party showing up ready to play Poker and the other half of them expecting to play Munchkin.  Quite the pickle!

Anywho, everyone agreed it was a pretty funny situation!  Everyone that is except for Johnny, who was clearly perturbed.  He'd recently returned from Vegas and was in the mood to gamble so when we decided to play Munchkin instead of Poker he decided to let me know just how unhappy he was...and thus began the most epic game of Munchkin EVER...

In Munchkin, all the players begin the game together in a monster-filled dungeon where the goal is to defeat monsters in order to level up your character and win the game.  As you go along, you collect weapons, pickup new races (elf, dwarf, orc, etc...) and work together with or against the other players in order to be the first player to reach Level 10! Well, from the very beginning my biggest challenge was not the monsters lurking behind every corner of the dungeon but instead...Johnny Pham.

Early on in the game, I became a dwarf and drew all sorts of useful cards, equipping me with some pretty sweet weapons and armor.  Johnny, still sore about not playing Poker (And further enraged by the "sex change" spell I hit her with early in the game), quickly built up an alliance with the other players and turned them against me.  Johnny, AKA The Elven Queen B***, sat on a throne of LIES, and one by one deceived the other players into joining her evil alliance.  Our friend Justin, AKA Justin Dogpile, joined her because they were both the same race: Asian Elf.  Johnny turned Darien, AKA Darien the 1/4 Elf, 1/4 Dwarf, 1/4 Human, 1/4 Halfling, against me by promising him all the treasure she found.  At this point, Johnny had little hope of winning the game; every fiber of her being was bent solely on ensuring that I didn't win.  Our friend Dave, AKA Dave the Late Comer, AKA Father WTFAmIDoingHereIThoughtWeWerePlayingPoker, eventually sided with Johnny and used his clerical magic to prevent me from achieving Level 10 on a number of occasions.  Only Tucker, sweet Tucker, AKA Tucker the Young, stuck by my side.  Together, we almost overcame Johnny and her evil alliance but alas, someone drew a "Divine Intervention" card and gave Justin the points he needed to reach Level 10, thus ending the game and sealing my fate as a loser.  The Elven Queen Johnny had achieved her wretched goal...I, Thomas, AKA Thomas the Just, was defeated.

Afterwards, we played a quick game of Hold 'Em, which was also fun but not nearly as epic.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013


I recently came across a collection of James Bond films and decided to give the series a try.  I'm currently on the Roger Moore films and before I go any further decided I should recap the ones I've watched thus far, which include 6 Sean Connery movies and 1 featuring George Lazenby.  I've also ranked the films, in case anyone wants to get a taste of Bond without having to sit through all 23 films.

Title: Dr. No (1962)
Opening Theme: This theme, features the classic James Bond tune set to a backdrop of flashing lights and colorful silhouettes, oddly reminiscent of the Partridge Family opening credits.  Grade A  
Bond Girl: Honey Ryder 
Nice set of shells...I've been watching too many of these movies.  James is starting to rub off on me and not in a good way.  Grade A
Villain: Dr. No
Aside from the fact that he's a white dude who they tried to make look Asian, the dimensions of Dr. No's body were all off, giving him an extra creepiness factor.  Grade A
Memorable Moment: A character named Professor R.J. Dent falls for the old "pillows under the bedsheets" trick and fires 6 rounds into James Bond's bed.  James disarms the would be assassin, interrogates him, allows him to retrieve his gun and attempt to fire on Bond.  The only problem is that a Smith and Wesson only holds 6 bullets and as James so wittily points out to Dent, "you've had your six".  He then proceeds to shoot Dent in the chest.  I was like, "Dang, James, that's coldblooded!  I don't know how to feel about this.  But you made a pretty solid joke as you killed the essentially unarmed man so I guess it's okay."  
Overall: Grade A

Title: From Russia with Love (1963)
Opening Theme: An instrumental version of From Russia with Love plays as the films credits are colorfully projected on closeups of women's legs, stomachs, derrieres and so on.  Grade B
Bond Girl: Tatiana Romanova
She's a Russian agent working for the bad guys but in the end James' charm is too overpowering and she gives in.  Grade B-
Villains: Red Grant
The whole movie they kept hinting that maybe this guy was a double agent who is actually on James' side but they couldn't fool me.  I see right through you, Red Grant!  Grade B+

Rosa Klebb
I'm pretty sure that this is the character they based Frau Farbissina off of in the Austin Power's franchise.  Grade A

Memorable Moment: James and Tatiana get it on in bed with a two-way-mirror headboard, through which Rosa Krebb watches intently.  AND TATIANA TOTALLY KNOWS IT THE WHOLE TIME!  It's weird and gross.  And a little kinky.  But mostly just weird and gross.
Overall: Grade B+

Title: Goldfinger (1964)
Opening Theme: Goldfinger, performed to more closeups of the female anatomy, this time though they are all painted gold!  It actually all goes together rather nicely.  CAUTION: This song very likely will be stuck in your head for days!  Grade A
Bond Girl: Pussy Galore
Her name...Just...Wow...Grade A
Villain: Auric Goldfinger
Goooldfingaaa!  Bwaa bwaa bwaaaaa!  Grade B
Classic James Bond villain, beloved to members of my generation due to his anatomical benefits in Goldeneye 64! (He was shorter than all of the other characters in the game and therefore harder to shoot in multiplayer sleepovers)  Grade A+
Memorable Moment: So many great scenes to choose from: Oddjob throwing his hat to decapitate an ivory statue, Goldfinger's mistress discovered dead covered in gold paint, Pussy Galore's Flying Circus.  Such an incredible film!
Overall: Grade A

Title: Thunderball (1965)
Opening Theme: This theme features lots of colorful bubbles and swimming silhouettes.  The tune itself is sung in classic Bond style but is otherwise unremarkable.  Grade B-
Bond Girl: Domino
I really liked her swimsuit.  I can't speak for Tim Gunn but I think she "made it work".  Grade A-
Villain: Emilio Largo
Eyepatch is a nice touch.  Emilio has a swimming pool full of sharks, which he feeds his enemies to.  His sharks don't have "frickin lazer beams" on their heads but it's definitely where Austin Powers got the idea from.  Or at least one of them; there's actually a few Bond villains with an affinity for sharks.  Grade B-
Memorable Moment: James dramatically escapes from a super villain's mansion just in the nick of time, leaving the enemy behind to sniff the fumes of his jet pack, which rockets him forth at break neck speeds...but not before putting on the goofiest, little helmet I've ever seen!  It's exciting and hilarious all at the same time!
Overall: Grade B

Title: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Opening Theme: The instrumental version is actually kinda catchy but the corny lyrics ruin it.  The credits showcase some geisha-looking silhouettes as well as the same, colorful design repeated over and over.  I don't know if it's supposed to be a rice hat, or a fan or the sun???  Can anyone help me here?
Bond Girl: Kissy Suzuki
First Bond girl to actually NOT instantly give into Bond's sexual advances.  And they're posing as husband and wife!  ON THEIR WEDDING NIGHT!  If that's not an excuse to consummate then I don't know what is!  Eventually though she gives in...girl's only human.  Grade A-
Villain: Blofeld
Paging Dr. Evil.  "Rip off!"  Grade A
Memorable Moment: At some point, James Bond dons his Chinese disguise, which consists of a spray tan, a bad haircut and a set of bushy eyebrows.  The whole getup doesn't seem very PC to me; even for a secret agent.
Overall: I'm not going to lie, I fell asleep watching this one.  I googled the villain for this blog and was like, "holy crap!  When was that guy in the movie?!"  He seriously must've made his first appearance in the last 30 minutes of the movie.  I didn't fall asleep on account of the film being bad per se; it was a work night and I was exhausted.  The parts I remember were enjoyable enough...  Grade A-

Title: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Opening Theme: The song itself is okay; nothing great.  The video is TERRIBLE!  They use the same silhouette trick they've been using on the past couple of films but this time they play images of the previous films through a silhouette shaped like an hour glass, WHICH IS A HORRIBLE SHAPE TO SHOW ANYTHING THROUGH!  It's just horribly framed, I couldn't stand it.  See for yourself!
Bond Girl: Traci Di Vincenzo
SPOILER ALERT: Bond actually marries this woman at the end of the film!  SAY WHAT?!?  I know, right?  To be fair, they get married in the last 5 minutes of the film and she's dead before the credits but still Bond was a married man for a good half hour of his life!  Crazy!  Grade A-
Villain: Blofeld
This movie takes place before the previous one because in this film Blofeld's eye isn't all messed up.  Grade A-
Memorable Moment: SPOILER ALERT: This is the first Bond film without Sean Connery at the helm and George Lazenby's Bond certainly had a different feel.  He was more cheery, lighthearted, and not so aggressive in his advances towards women.  I liked him well enough but apparently audiences in the 60's didn't because they brought Sean right back for the next film. 
Overall: Grade A-

Title: Diamonds are Forever (1971)
Opening Theme: Despite the many, glittering diamonds littered throughout the opening sequence, the whole intro had a cheap quality about it.  Sure the silhouette gag was getting old but you can only show so many closeups of a ring on a finger before that gets just as boring!  That being said, the refrain is catchy. Grade B
Bond Girl: Tiffany Case
Grade B
Villain: Blofeld
Once again, the main villain is Blofeld and once again he looks nothing like he did in the previous installments.  I don't know if there are some chronological discrepancies happening here or if he had surgery.  I clearly already need to re-watch the entire series and I'm not even done watching it for the first time!  It might also help if I wasn't an old man who falls asleep every 5 minutes. Grade B+
Memorable Moment: This film features two openly gay men characters!  Granted, they are villains but still that had to be some sort of milestone for Hollywood back in the early 70's!
Overall: Grade B