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Having a real weekend...




Seriously. It was a good weekend.

Wednesday night, Rebecca, Andy, Greg and I made our now-semi-regular trip to the movies to see Unbreakable. I definitely don't want to ruin it for anyone, but I will say that I really liked it, despite the fact that I didn't think the ending worked quite as well as The Sixth Sense. We all agreed that it was very well made, and judging from the fact that we were still talking about it on Saturday when we saw Bounce (surprisingly good, sharp writing), I think we found it pretty memorable.

Thursday, I drove home to San Antonio where much of my family from South Texas had driven up to spend Thanksgiving Day. My dad was nice enough to drive me to his work where he picked up a laptop for me to use for the days I'd be there. I ended up spending a chunk of Thanksgiving working on my Third Watch recap. Writing it on a laptop is so much easier. I couldn't believe it. As all the relatives were downstairs watching the Dallas Cowboys get beat again (who didn't see that coming?), I sat on my parents' bed, popped my tape in to watch it on their huge upstairs TV and recapped in style. It beat doing it here in my home office on a little tiny Windows screen and switching over to Microsoft Word. It's a totally unnecessary expense, but I continue to crave a laptop. Of course, that would be quite a lot of recaps to write to afford a decent laptop, but... Well... I probably won't buy one. But they are nice to have when I'm able to borrow it.

My dad also has taken this home networking thing to its logical extreme: he's wired up their Road Runner service to extend to the master bedroom through a hub, so I was able to just pop the laptop's port to the connection upstairs and surf at high speeds from the same bed while I worked on the recap. It was pretty sweet.

Does the sight of this make you drool?

Right before we all started eating (there were about 20 people in the house. I can barely cook for two. I'll have to ask my Mom how she pulls that off.), two of my uncles and my Dad were talking about digital cameras. At first it was a little off-putting because all I do all day at work is talk and write about gadgets and gear and I've decided I'm getting really tired of it (the gadgets, not the job). There's only so many times you can get excited about a new Microsoft joystick, you know?

So they're all talking about megapixels and Sony Memory Sticks versus SmartMedia and I just kind of glaze over because I went through all these same debates with myself last year when I bought my Fuji camera. I do a lot of comparison shopping and bargaining when I buy anything, a trait I inherited from my Mom, and once I buy something, I typically don't like to think about what I didnít buy anymore. In computers, it's just looking for heartburn.

But then in the midst of all this, as they were talking about cameras and scanners and Internet service providers, I realized that my perception of my family has been slightly skewed. I always knew I was geekily into all this technology. I knew my dad was, too; he was the one who sat me in front of my first Commodore Vic-20. But I hadn't been aware before how much that gadget frenzy extended to the rest of the family and how quickly my parents have embraced some technologies and surpassed me. Nearly everyone in the room, from my cousins to all my uncles, have cell phones. Several of them have digital cameras. And I'm sure it wonít be long before they all have high-speed Internet connections.

Upstairs, the kids were playing on a Sega Dreamcast, a PlayStation2 (which I lugged over), a Nintendo with some new games and a GameBoy Color. My brother was Instant Messaging friends while they listened to CDs he'd burned. It's like a Best Buy commercial in his room.

Last year, I tried to talk my parents into buying a DVD player after having been blown away by the quality. Now they have a better home theater than mine, and they buy movies every week. This is after my mom swore she wouldn't buy one because she hates Letterbox Format movies.

I come from a family of gadget lovers, geeks and tech fetishists. Some families spend all their money on vacations to Europe, homes in the Hamptons and paintings. We spend it on new VCRs and computer memory upgrades.

At least I'm not alone.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day with Jessica. It was good to just hang around. When she was here last weekend, we spent time running errands after my big hard drive crash. Friday of this week was just leisurely. We dropped off Jessica's friend Angi at the airport, ate some fantastic Greek food, then went to see Unbreakable. I didn't mind seeing it again, and since we were nearly two hours early, we got to go shopping at Borders. I bought an old Alan Moore graphic novel and Chicken Run on DVD.

Definitely liked Unbreakable a lot on the second viewing. Not as much as I liked seeing The Sixth Sense again, but a few details were more noticeable.

When I got back to Austin, I found myself restless again, wondering what I'd do with a whole weekend. I ended up seeing Bounce, going dancing and on Sunday, finding a real purpose for this free time.

I'd been finding myself blocked on this phantom novel that I was trying to get off the ground. I had some solid ideas, but none of it was translating into actual writing, which is kind of the point.

While showering, I thought it would be a good idea to just write something else, something easier and a little less ambitious, while I was letting the original idea percolate. And then an amazing thing happened. This new idea took shape rapidly, and in a few minutes, I was sitting at the desk, cranking out the first four pages of a new story. I'm excited about it. It made me feel as if I wasn't wasting a long weekend without producing something worthwhile. It allowed me to spend the rest of Sunday relaxing and getting ready to go back to work.

A really good long-time friend of mine who reads this page was talking to me last week about a potluck dinner that was going on. This made me laugh quite a lot:

"The lady who signed up for 'corn' every year and would show up with two cans of 'corn' and put it in the microwave right before the feast no longer works here. If you ever do a 'potluck horror stories' page, I have a couple. This one crazy lady who always brought weird recipes was telling us about how her boys like to pee in her dishes, etc., etc. Same woman whose husband either vomited or shat the bed (she was vague) in a drunken stupor and simply flipped the mattress over. 'It's a guy thing,' she said. (My husband was all, 'NO, it's NOT a guy thing' to her.)"

Does anybody else besides me get potluck anxiety? I can cook a meal, but never on demand like that, and I always feel like a yutz if I try to bring something from H.E.B. because it makes me feel like I bought my way into getting to eat all the food that other people spent hours slaving over. Is there a 12-step program I can join, or something? I can't deal with potlucks. They make me want to go hit McDonalds in avoidance. And I really canít stand McDonalds.

Somebody made a really funny animated version of Penny Arcade, my favorite Web comic strip. If you like video games at all and you've ever heard of the game "Daytona USA," click here promptly. Oh, Hell, even if you haven't, click there anyway.

Only one person had any interest whatsoever in reading a portable Palm-Friendly version of Terribly Happy. And that person was the husband of a close friend who was probably just being nice. So I think we're going to hold off for that right now.

My wishes for this week: go to the gym even if there's something really good on TV. Start working on those stories at work that I've been pushing back.

Shave the massive amount of scruff that I accumulated from not shaving the last four days. I considered growing a beard (I've got a good start), but I fear looking like Noah Wyle when he tried to grow one. He ended up looking like an eight year old doing Abraham Lincoln in an elementary school play.


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