Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Final Entry

As you can see, blogging about my weight loss has quickly become a rarity anymore. Not due to lack of trying – more like lack of anything interesting to talk about. For that reason, coupled with the fact that it’s now the end of the year, this will be the last official entry for “The Incredible Shrinking Ray”. Maybe an occaisional update when something noteworthy happens.

Two major things have impacted my efforts these last couple of weeks. If you read my previous long blog, you already know about the intestinal blockage that caused me to balloon up. My digestive tract still isn’t quite back to normal – any kind of bowel movement is a challenge. But at least it IS moving! I’ve started to add a few more fiber-related items to my diet to see if I can speed up the process more.

The other thing is just plain laziness, and my continued battle to care about losing more. A huge part of me is thrilled with all the weight lost this year, and I get into a mindset of “you’ve done enough, give yourself a break and have that Coke”. Once in a great while this is fine. But lately it’s been far more often than it should be. I’m looking forward to renewing that focus beginning January 5th – just like last year.

Why January 5th? It’s the day after my birthday, and the days before have become my own personal “Mardi Gras”. On Saturday the 3rd I plan of downing tequila and singing karaoke all night (empty calories), then on the 4th is my annual trip to the sushi bar for the all-you-can-eat special (good calories, but too many of them). The bad news is that when I weigh myself on the 5th I’m certain I’ll be way up over my current 215 lbs, but the good news is that it will drop off quickly by the time I weigh myself a week later – instant gratification!

I plan on making 2009 another weight loss year, along with renewed focus on paying off medical bills that have accumulated over the years. Frankly, I think losing weight will be the easier goal…

Quick overall review: I did not achieve my final goal – missed it by 15 lbs. However, I did come down to a weight I haven’t seen since I was 20 years old. I totally stunned my doctor at a checkup when he saw I’d lost 20 lbs since the prior visit, prompting him to say “I tell a lot of people to lose weight, but no one actually ever DOES it!” I added a few years onto my life, and I’m no longer a borderline diabetic. Finally, I just “feel” better, and look better. I still consider my efforts this year a success, and a good foundation from which to start anew.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 22 lbs.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Down

(The following incredibly long blog entry is not to be read by those with weak constitutions, a general distaste of medical issues or bowel movements, or my mother due to all the dirty words. If you fall into any of those categories, I strongly suggest you stop reading now.)

I spent the days before Christmas in the hospital for an intestinal obstruction. Here is a day-by-day breakdown of the events leading up to and during the course of that stay.

Wednesday, December 17th – After work I headed to the mall to pick up a gift we’d been meaning to get, but never got around to getting. It was about as busy as I expected it to be, so I dodged between people with the nimbleness of a man half my age. Afterward, as I’m heading toward my car (intentionally setting off the alarm so I can find my grey Ford Taurus among the throng of vehicles after dark), I noticed that my stomach wasn’t too happy with me about something. I write it off to the nausea of rampant consumerism involving holidays that are supposed to be about family and not the latest Cabbage Patch kid.

I had a pretty big lunch, having filled my Fazoli’s card and getting my meal for free (a sampling of spaghetti, alfredo noodles and lasagna), so I opted for just a baked potato from Wendy’s while also getting a spicy chicken sandwich for RedFaery. Still, it didn’t sit too well on my tummy, and I turned in early hoping to sleep thru the worst of the growing discomfort.

Thursday, December 18th – I didn’t sleep very well, and I finally came to the realization at 3am that I needed to empty my stomach if I was going to even try to get some shuteye. So I wondered into the bathroom, prayed to the porcelain god, and shortly thereafter was rewarded for my efforts. For the record, when you have a tomato-based lunch, your vomit comes out a horrible shade of pink.

I moved out to the couch to not further disturb RedFaery and in hopes that the pain would ebb eventually. About 45 minutes later, I returned to the bathroom to involuntarily continue the barfing process. I honestly didn’t think there was anything left in me, and I was mostly right – nothing but clear liquids this time.

When morning comes, I let RedFaery and work know that I’m too feverish and weak to do anything but lay still and moan for the day. Meals consisted of chicken soup and Sierra Mist. I even slept a little, but not much, which was surprising since I didn’t get much the night before.

One major disappointment – despite all the barfing, my weight was up! Should have been a major clue…

Friday and Saturday – Things went back to normal for the most part. In retrospect, there were a few anomalies that I should have noticed, but didn’t.
1. I had a hell of a time sleeping. Spent both nights getting out of bed and watching TV or playing on the computer until the wee hours of the morning, and didn’t sleep extra to make up for it.
2. Didn’t eat much. I was thrilled that I was less hungry, hoping that I could shed a few more pounds.
3. I didn’t have a substantial bowel movement. I didn’t think much about it, as I often try and fail, but I’d lost track of my successes and realize (in retrospect again) that I had none.
4. Despite brushing my teeth and mouth (I brush everything), RedFaery complained about my horrible breath.

That Saturday night, my stomach started feeling “odd” – similar to Wednesday, but not similar enough for me to worry about it. We went out with friends to an Ethiopian restaurant that evening, and I happily put away a lot of tasty beef, lamb and chicken bites. The odd feeling never went away, but it didn’t hurt, so I was happy.

Sunday, December 21st – I awoke from deep slumber at 3am again, this time feeling bloated and with a sharp stomach pain. I stood up to go to the bathroom, and the sudden rush of air leaving my mouth was amazing! Think of the belching contest from “Revenge of the Nerds”, only quieter – it was as if I’d swallowed a tornado and it broke free.

And the stench was vile. I couldn’t place it at the time, but I eventually could – it was much like raw sewage.

On the crapper, nothing came out but liquid. Very acidic, and it burned.
And so I repeated the cycle every thirty minutes – stand up, belch, crap fluid, lay down. I again moved to the living room to not disturb RedFaery’s slumber more often than I had to.

By noon, the cycle was still going strong, and Red was hinting heavily that we should head to the emergency room. Being the tough guy that I am, I said something along the lines of “I’m going to gut it out”. It only took two more hours for my tough guy persona to wave the white flag and admit defeat.

Sunday, December 21st continued (Emergency Room) – RedFaery drove me to our favorite emergency room, Jewish Southside. We like it because it’s a brand-new facility and many folks don’t even know about it yet. We’ve rarely had to wait, the staff is friendly and attentive, and we get solutions instead of the runaround. This time was no different – I was taken back to triage within 15 minutes, all questions answered, and put in a bed. About 20 minutes later the doctor comes by and gives me a through exam (including the kind that involves gloves and lube, kids). Everything was so tender that I went through a wide variety of grimaces and yelps. The doctor ordered X-rays, as well as my new best friends, Phenagren for nausea and Morphine for the pain.

Apparently the Morphine dulled the pain enough so I could sleep, so this paragraph is taken from RedFaery’s observations. My snoring was so loud that it worried the nurses, and Red reminded them of my sleep apnea. To insure I didn’t stop breathing, they hooked me up to an oxygen tube. For the record, I LOVE pure oxygen! I want a canister for my birthday!

The doctor came back and broke the news – the X-ray showed a blockage in my small intestine. He wanted to admit me to the hospital for more tests to find out how serious it was. When he asked about St. Mary and Elizabeth, where RedFaery had horrible experiences, even I shook off the effects of Morphine enough to say “anywhere but there, please!” We agreed on the main Jewish branch in downtown – my mom had good treatment there herself once.

I sent Red home to wait for me to get settled into my overnight room, and gather a few things I’d need – such as my contact lens case and glasses. A short nap later, I was loaded into the ambulance and taken in. FYI – both Jewish branches have very clean ceilings!

Sunday, December 21st continued (Hospital)- Sometime after being sent up in my new home-away-from-home, my I-V was hooked up to a potassium-saline drop. This is the organic equivalent of Drano. I now had to pee in a container so they could measure everything going out as well as coming in. A little tip from your old pal Ray – never drink what appears to be lemonade while in the hospital.

After Red had dropped off all my stuff, kissed me goodnight and left (I didn’t want her to sit around and watch me do nothing – someone had to get real rest and go make money to pay for all this!), I was informed that they wanted to put a tube up my nose and into my stomach to pump out the vile bile. I halfway expected that as some point.

The doctor tried first to get it up my right nostril, and Oh My God the Pain! I kept thinking “this was the first step to mummification!” I finally had to stop her from trying because I was in tears. We agreed to give the left nostril a shot (once my breath returned), and it wasn’t much better. But after a short struggle, I felt a pop of some kind, and the tube was finally making its way down my throat. I’m still wondering about that pop, and have since determined that my nose has lost its innocence. Light a candle.

Sleep came in small bursts throughout the night, but never for long since anytime I moved, the hose up my nose would shift and cause me pain. Plus I was constantly swallowing involuntarily due to the tube. Plus a nurse would come in every three hours to check my blood pressure and temperature, so I gave up.

Monday, December 22nd – More tests today. Blood was taken, CAT scan as well. And all I can think is “My nose hurts.”

My parents came to spend the afternoon with me, which was nice. Although I don’t feel like I was that great of company for anyone really. I knew Dad had gone thru a similar experience nearly two years ago, except what came out of his stomach was green instead of brown – so at least I was sure I didn’t have pancreatitis!

They were present for the joyous moment when the doctor decided I didn’t need the nose hose anymore. She promised to pull it on a three count, but yanked on two, the BITCH! It felt like my face exploded. Mom kept a cold paper towel on my eye socket which burned with the heat of a thousand suns. But nonetheless I was happy that I could finally move my head without pain. I celebrated by popping my neck loudly.

I had many visitors over the course of the day, since RedFaery posted on the various online forums about my condition. Yevla, Elgin Marbles and Ignite the Night (who works there) all stopped in at different times of the day to make sure I wasn’t going to shuffle off this mortal coil, and for that I was extremely grateful. When Red by later, she let me know about the various well-wishings we’d both gotten throughout the day online. Always nice to know friends are thinking of you.

The doctor did come by to tell me that further tests showed that the blockage wasn’t really there anymore. So the plan was to start feeding me again to see if I blew up again. Lovely. I was told that I’d be started on a liquid diet the next day, and my stomach celebrated. Although I was getting all the nutrition I needed thru the I-V, “Warrior needs food badly!”

I’ll take a moment to talk about my two roommates, as this was the only day I’d dealt with both of them.

When I was first wheeled into my room, it was empty. I thought I was going to be the sole resident of my room, but only ten minutes later another man was brought in. Jerry Ford (not the former president – at least I don’t think so) apparently had a small stroke, and had no feeling in his left arm and weakness throughout his legs. Despite all this, he was a pleasant gentleman, and though we couldn’t see each other thru the curtain, he’d occasionally ask about my comfort (such as “My television isn’t bothering you, is it?”).

In fact, the only complaining I can remember from Jerry was a procedure they did on his hand. He must have been very Christian, because at the worst pain he felt, the harshest curse words he could muster were “Cheese and crackers!” I felt bad for his agony, but I also had to suppress laughter at the ridiculousness of those words.

By Monday the feeling had returned to his arm and he was much stronger, so he was discharged. He wished me well and left with his son, and I was glad that at least he got to get out quickly. It also made me wonder if my condition was worse than a stroke victim’s, and it made me uneasy.

Later Monday night (around 10pm), a new patient was wheeled in. His name was Mr. Hamir, pronounced ha-MIR, not “hammer” (he had to correct everyone), a Muslim originally from Pakistan. He was a diabetic that had passed out and was brought in for observation and evaluation. Eventually the decision was made to move him up from pills to insulin, and I felt bad for him.

English was his second language, so he had a difficult time letting people know his concerns, especially when it came to his dietary restrictions. But he was patient and got thru, as evidenced by a lack of complaints when meals came around.

He was discharged on Tuesday afternoon. He’d had some family visiting, and he was moving a chair back over to my side, and took a moment to wish me well and bless me with his broken English. I was genuinely touched, and returned the favor.

Tuesday, December 23rd – I woke up to find that the breakfast fairy had come and gone without leaving me anything. When the nurse came by, I asked her about the clear liquids I was supposed to be started on, and it looks like word was never communicated to the Dietary department. So she found some apple juice.

I suppose this is better put in prospective when I tell you that I dreamt of being served hamburgers, rack of lamb and pork chops. Yeah, I was bummed.

This was a long, boring day. I was feeling tons better, but had absolutely nothing to do. I took myself for a walk around the floor a couple of times, towing my I-V stand with me. Another friend, Starwolfe, stopped by for a nice long visit, but I really didn’t have a whole lot to talk about. I tried reading, but got bored, and daytime TV really blows. I wish I had a laptop.

Lunch almost came and went, but I managed to talk to the right person to make sure the doctor’s orders were followed. When my chicken broth, jello and juice arrived, I was nearly in tears with joy. I’m reminded of the Eddie Murphy comedy routine where he talks about a starving man given a saltine and it’s SO GOOD that the cracker “is a Ritz cracker, right?” That was me.

That evening was another round of liquid diet, and though I wanted something more, I was grateful for it. Then, miracle of miracles, another tray of food was brought to me, this time solid foods! I double-checked with the nutritionist, and she insisted it was for me. RedFaery smiled on from the corner when I poured ranch dressing on my little salad and started munching away.

The nurse came in, and I explained what had happened. She too was skeptical that it was mine, so I asked her to take it away from me while she went to check – I had zero willpower, and would have probably shoved it all down my throat when she left the room. Fortunately, she was back quickly and confirmed that I was supposed to have it. I savored every bite of turkey and gravy, no matter how bland.

After RedFaery was off to home and bed, I felt an old familiar pressure and wheeled my I-V into the bathroom. Sure enough, I had a solid bowel movement. I’ve since reasoned that this particular piece of shit was the original blockage, but didn’t really know it at that moment. In retrospect, I felt like a 3 year old proudly explaining to my nurse that I’d “made a doody” and describing it’s texture and color, etc., but I just wanted to make sure that they knew to keep sending food!

Later that evening, the overnight nurse asked if I wanted anything and mentioned food. Despite having essentially two dinners, I asked what she had available. When she mentioned turkey sandwiches, I said, “Ooooooo, that sounds good!” So she snagged one for me, as well as a cup of raspberry jello. I enjoyed every bite while watching “Grindhouse: Planet Terror” on the Starz network. A little later, she came by to see how I was doing. I tried subtly sneaking into the conversation that I really liked that turkey sandwich and hinted at another one, and she came right out and asked me if I did want another one, and five minutes later she handed it to me!

Nurse Whitney is an angel.

Wednesday, December 24th – I wake up to sausage, eggs and biscuits – eating is still a blessed moment in time for me.

RedFaery shows up, since work’s closed for Christmas Eve, and she gets to sit around bored with me. Our favorite activity becomes “Watch the Door to See if the Doctor is Coming”. Eventually she does come by, exclaims that the blockage must have been due to something viral or bacterial in nature, and that the antibiotics in my I-V seem to have fixed me up, and that she’s authorized my discharge.

We’re both excited, but I caution Red that it typically takes them three hours for everything to be done, so be patient. I wish I could have taken my own advice, because after an hour I was back to playing “Watch the Door” again.

Eventually they unhook me from the I-V and have me sign papers that will probably cost me $4,000 or so throughout 2009, and I get my clothes on quickly and am ready to go. Red seems to think they’ll want to wheel me out in a wheelchair, but I wasn’t waiting around to see. And just like George Throughgood, “out the door I went!”

I wanted lunch at someplace where they’d serve me food that I wouldn’t get in the hospital, and settled on mini cheeseburgers at O’Charleys. Then I went home, shaved my beard-like facial growth into my normal goatee-moustache combo, showered to get rid of that “starch and plastic smell” all over my body, and caught up my e-mails.

Despite all the travelling we’ve done the rest of the week, I’ve not felt bad once. The worst thing I’ve still dealing with is bouts of fatigue, most likely due to getting used to morning, afternoon and evening naps. No problem for me – much easier to deal with than feeling like a float at the Macy’s parade!

My nose still hurts a little…

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Weeks 46 & 47

The holidays are here! And for a while, so was extra poundage. Two big Thanksgiving meals (which I refuse to eat less of - it's just not RIGHT!), and for a while I'd jumped to 221 lbs, and averaged about 216 lbs. However, going back to my old proven methods, this morning I was miraculously back to 211 lbs!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-46 Loss: 26 lbs.
Week 47 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 211 lbs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thank You Girl

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I’d list a few things I’ve been thankful for this year. In some cases, any year!

· I’m thankful that, after all the cuts at work, I still have a job. I’m not especially pleased with many different aspects about it this year, but like George once said, “All things must pass.”
· I’m thankful that RedFaery now has a job that she enjoys, feels useful at, and has been helpful in bringing back some of her energy. Now she has plenty to talk about when we both get home, and virtually none of it has anything to do with the cats and whatever cute/annoying thing they did today.
· I’m grateful that no one close to me has died this year. No comedy spin needed here.
· I’m thankful to be in the right place at the right time to shift my creative focus from community theatre acting to producing/writing for something that may actually help pay some bills next year. Or at the least buy dinner out once in a while.
· I’m grateful for Cajun food. That will likely never, ever change.
· I’m thankful that bottled water is so cheap, considering I’m too lazy to get it out of the tap, or even a Britta water pitcher.
· I’m thankful that gas prices have gone from “unbelievably ridiculous” down to “reasonable”, and for the time being are residing at “I can’t believe I filled my tank for less than $20!” Even if it’s just for a few weeks.
· I’m thankful for Facebook, which has allowed me to get what I used to get out of LouisvilleMojo – communication with friends (some for the first time in 20 years) and a welcome diversion from bills. MySpace, however, can suck it.
· I’m thankful for online banking for saving me a few stamps and the cost of new checks. Without it, my creditors would still be wondering when they’d get paid.
· I’m thankful for hardwood floors and cats that forget about it when they get an urge to run.
· I’m thankful that after four long years, Princess has finally warmed up to me to voluntarily sit on my lap. I hope she remembers I said that when we try to trim her toenails again.
· I’m thankful that we got our new home in 2007, considering the financial crapfest that 2008 turned out to be.
· Finally, I’m thankful that I’m still alive. Whodathunkit?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Weeks 44 & 45

I have limited access to writing blogs now (smart folks can figure that one out), so I'm both about 5 days overdue AND a couple days early on recording my weight.

Went to the gym today for the first time in forever. Usually I do 30 minutes of the "fat burning" setting on the elliptical, but this time I decided to try the "cardio" setting instead. NEVER AGAIN! The first ten minutes made me regret ever having tried to exercise in my entire life! Besides, I still have fat to burn, so I'll go back to my old ways next time.

Not much loss for two weeks. Bummer.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-44 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 45 Loss: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 211 lbs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mother Nature's Son

Went to rehearsal for the improv TV show - my first as writer and co-producer. Slowly the members of the various teams filtered in, including some I hadn't met as of yet. One made it a point to introduce himself to me (we'll call him "Billy" - mostly cause I can't remember his name and he looked like a young Bill Murray). Before we could launch into conversation, one of the other producers started the festivities of the evening.

Whole teams weren't there, so we had to combine people into teams of four to rehearse. Billy was assimilated into one of those teams. Over the next 2.5 hours, we ran the teams thru the new games and show format, giving our new host a real baptism of what to expect as well.

When we were done and people were clapping each other on the back and talking about their favorite moments, Billy wound up near me again. Making small talk, I ask him if he had fun, which he did. We eventually get to talking about him, and I get a little surprise.

It turns out he just kinda wandered in off the street, after blowing into town via Greyhound bus. Originally from Chicago, he decided to just start traveling around Jack Kerouac-style, peddling his tye-dye art and bedding down wherever he managed to find a couch. Immediately my alarm bells went off because I realized we was heavily hinting that he'd like me to offer my couch (something I wasn't comfortable with, and lord knows RedFaery wouldn't have been either!).

Fortunately, I was prepared to help anyway. Wayside Christian Mission was only a mere two blocks away, and they were perfect for his needs. Billy balked at the idea initially, but after the insistence of a few of us that it wasn't "too preachy", I think he realized he wasn't going to be camping at anyone's home tonight. He double-checked our directions, thanked us for the hospitality and the great time, and wandered off.

Carol was floored at the whole situation, but Scott and I took it in stride. She was saying that you can't really trust anyone to bring them off the streets into your home these days. While she's got a good point, I felt this guy was mostly harmless - other than being a tad bit of a mooch. If I were his age (I'm guessing 19), single and debt-free, I'd consider fulfilling that wanderlust too.

In other news about the show - three of the skits I planned worked well on stage, and we'll be including them. One I created - a combination of a couple of improv skits involving creating movie scenes - went over very well, and is becoming one of the "face-off" games. Really proud of that one!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 43

Absolutely no change - other than the fact that I managed to get to the gym once! Now go back and read the previous entry again - it's worth your time!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-42 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 43 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

No Reply

A true tale from work that's too good not to share!

An ad that runs in several of our publications had a typo, and the client was PISSED! One of my graphic designers created the ad, checked it themselves, was double-checked by an asst. manager, the sales rep, and the client as well, yet it still made it to publication.

The typo - the toll-free phone number was supposed to be "888", but ran as "800".

And the kicker (and I know you all know what I'm going to say already)...

the phone number that ran? Yep - phone sex line.

Even though the client proofed it too, I'm pretty sure he's getting a free run at no charge as an apology...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 42

42, the answer to life, the universe and everything. But what's the question? Why the hell can't I get up off my ass and get to the gym?

10 weeks to lose 12 pounds.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-41 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 42 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Things We Said Today

Just general stuff of my life at the moment:

* After nearly eight months of searching, fretting and tears, RedFaery is finally employed once more! Kentucky only has six months of unployment, and since the economy is so bad they also have a 3 month extension - she would have come to the end of that around Christmas. So the timing couldn't be better!

Red took this time off to not only search for the right job, but to get many of her healthcare concerns straightened out. She has Grave's Disease, which is an auto-immune disorder, so she has to be very aware of any and all problems that crop up with her body. She went to a very knowledgable endocrinologist who not only chased down and negative changes to her thyroid levels, but also discovered a severe Vitamin D deficiency, and got both back on track. To complete the unholy trinity of ailments, Red also had sinus surgery to remove polyps in her nasal cavity, which was causing the headache from hell. Now she's less likely to take sick days from her new job!

Speaking of the job, she may be the only person in the world with both a Financial Planning degree and and IT degree, and she may have found the only job in the world looking for that combo! On top of that, it's the largest payrate she's ever gotten, and the company is only 10 miles from home - so the saved gas money is a payraise too! She'll be building and maintaining the operating systems for a high-end designer door company, and helping their HR/Payroll person out with financial tasks as well.

I'm proud that she patiently held out for a position where she would NOT just be a number/warm body, and that she could do work that showcases her talent.

* Tonight beings another year of the National Novel Writing Month contest (NaNoWriMo). I entered it last year, finished my novel, but fell about 13,000 words short of the 50K goal. This year, I'm torn between two ideas: writing about my daydreams freeform, or writing a fictional story about me touring with/being a member of the Beatles. I'm kind of "meh" on it, but I did have a lot of fun with it last year, and was proud of my finished work (even though it sits on my hard drive requiring extensive editing - someday!). I guess tonight at midnight, I just start typing and see what happens!

* Costume contest at work. I'm wearing my Musketeer outfit, but I'm going to lose to either the "Box of Wheaties" or the "Help Wanted Ad". They are awesome!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 41

As I sit here suffering from a big sinus headache, I have no good news to report. Fortunately, I sure this gain is temporary - I've been floating around the 210-212 mark all week, so that's the new "normal range" for me. Back to the gym, when I feel good enough to go.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-40 Loss: 36 lbs.
Week 41 GAIN: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 40

Late again - no good reason this time, other than getting into a habit, I suppose.

What I enjoyed this weekend was seeing my weight at 210 lbs Friday morning, and STILL seeing it Monday morning. Seems like the weekend is good for a couple of pounds returning normally, but not this time!

I'm moving around at work a lot more lately, so I'm hoping that energy spent is burning a few calories!


Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-39 Loss: 35 lbs.
Week 40 Loss: 1 lbs.
Current Weight: 210 lbs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All I've Got To Do

I promised a ATIC update a week back. Finally sitting down to do it!

A few weeks ago, Scott called me for what probably had to be a VERY difficult phone call for him. He was calling to ask me to step down as host of the Alley Theater Improv Challenge. He stressed that while I was a good actor, hosting just wasn't for me. In the same way Drew Carey isn't doing that great as host of "The Price is Right". You could tell that he was worried that I'd be mad/sad/angry/hateful/you name it.

I was relieved!

When I first volunteered to host it way back in February, I never expected it to be anything more than a higher-profile version of my old improv group, RASCAL. Basically inform the audience of what the talented people were going to do, get the ask-fors, and enjoy the show unfolding. Once Scott brokered a deal to have it televised, my gut reaction then was "Do they STILL want me be the host???"

I'm not putting myself down here. The fact of the matter is that I've never performed in front of the camera. I've had no training, so I was basically trying to adapt the whole time. I was uncomfortable and out of my element big time, and it showed on the screen. Personally, I'm thrilled that Scott had the business knowledge to make the change now, instead of continuing to try and "make it work".

Fortunately, I'm not done with the show by a longshot! Scott offered me the role of Producer, putting me on the same level as he and Carol. I'll continue to coordinate the performers, get all the ask-fors, probably be a guest judge once in awhile, and generally keep the on-camera show going. It's still plenty of work, and necessary work at that.

I'll also be one of the folks picking a new host. Someone with everything I couldn't provide - on-camera experience and looking comfortable on the small screen. And I plan on being the most anal retentive SOB on the panel - not just ANYONE can replace me! :)

The other part of the plan is what has me the msot excited though. The Alley Theater is going to set up a show for training inprov skills, and I'll be the instructor! Similar to the Groundlings and Second City in make-up, we're going to have a beginner's course and an intermediate course. We'll also have a performance course, invitation only, and they'll be the members of the Alley Theater's very own improv troupe. Just like the days I ran RASCAL, only generating revenue!

I'll be honest - my ego took a bit of bruising over losing the hosting job. But what I'm getting in return I already know will make me happier in the long run.

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 39

Again really late in posting this one. RedFaery had sinus surgery, and I've mainly been focusing on making sure she has everything she needs to be comfortable and heals properly.
However, the good news is that I've lost weight. Probably due to eating less, not so much exercise or watching what I eat. I'll take what I can get, especially with less than 3 months to go!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-37 Loss: 28 lbs.
Week 38 Loss: 7 lbs.
Current Weight: 211 lbs.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Too Much Monkey Business

Been a while since I've done a "here's my life" post. I'll save updates on the TV show for the next one, once I have an important meeting with the producers (big announcements coming soon).

This weekend RedFaery and I had a "Bad Movie Party". Anyone that's ever been to a showing of "Rocky Horror Picture Show" or seen "Mystery Science Theater 3000" knows what this is. Basically you get a lot of B-grade movies, and talk about it the entire time while the movie is showing. Sometimes you change the dialogue, sometimes you crack on the plot and characters, but whatever you do you don't try to follow along with what's going on.

Since our front room (hell, ALL our rooms) is small, we kept it to a small group. Someone requested that I make gumbo, so I spent Saturday morning slicing chicken and peppers, loading the crockpot and setting it on low. Red cleaned and cleaned the Friday before and deservedly slept in. I mowed for what is hopefully the last time in 2008 - have to remember to take the mower to a small engine place down the road for service and blade sharpening before storing it for spring.

Just after 4pm our friends started showing up. Danny & Holly brought brownies and an excellent meat-laden chili, Cindy brought chicken fingers and other deserts, Kim brought extra chairs and a friend, and Tymber brought a superb collection of B movies - half of which starring Bruce Campbell.

We watched the ever-popular "Army of Darkness", complete with original ending. Next was the original Batman movie with the TV series cast (Adam West version) - in all it's cheesy glory! We followed it up with one everyone MUST see, mine and RedFaery's favorite B-movie of all time, "Monster Man".

We tried "Bubba Ho-Tep" and realized it wasn't a good one for a bad movie party - partly because of it's slow pace, but also because we wanted to follow along with the plot. So we stopped it after 30 minutes or so, and put in "Fangs", a movie about genetically-altered bats.

The last of our visitors headed out around 1:30am, all seemingly having enjoyed themselves. Virtually no clean-up - what a tidy bunch! It will be a while before we host another Bad Movie Party, because if you try to do them too often they get stale. But we will have one again!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 38

REALLY late posting this. Been dealing with things at work I'm not thrilled about that I won't cover in a public forum, so my mind's been elsewhere. Haven't been eating more, but I'll wager stress is affecting my weight. That's all for now.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-37 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 38 GAIN: 3 lbs.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 37

Sadly, nothing interesting to report. Again I dipped as low as 211, but was back up to 212 monday morning.

One positive thing to report - I FINALLY made it back to the gym Monday evening! My standard 30 minutes on the elliptical. I like starting at about 6:30pm, because I can flip the channel on the attached TV to "Cash Cab" and try to guess the answers with the contestants - and I don't even think about the fact that I'm working out.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-36 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 37 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite

Everytime a hurricane pops up and assaults one of our coasts, I never really realize what it's like. That changed this week with the remnants of Hurricane Ike blowing into town.

Sunday morning I go outside and run the electric weedeater, since the grass is only tall it patches and mowing would be more trouble than it's worth. Heavier winds than normal, and I just think a thunderstorm is moving in. After I clean up, RedFaery gives me a list to fetch things at the store (she's too sick to go out). I also need an oil change, so I tell her I'm going to be out a little longer to do that.

It's only then that I realize the winds are much, much stronger than they were earlier. I slowly approach an intersection where the lights have already gone out, but they suddenly snap to red on me as I'm halfway thru. I think, "Maybe they were only out on my side," and I back up to let the traffic thru and go when it turns green for me.

I get to the oil change place, and they only manage to pop my hood when theur power goes out with a loud BANG - the lead to their business ripped itself off the electric pole. No power to run their equipment or take my credit card, so I leave and head to another one on Dixie Highway that has power still. As I leave there, I'm chased (really! chased!) by two of their metal signs.

By now, I've called RedFaery once to let her know what's going on and to see if she's ok. She told me we lost power at home, but she was still fine. Since we really needed food, I elected to keep going.

We have three Kroger stores that are equadistant to the house, so I head to the closest one to me. No power. I head towards one past Iroquois Park, but a large tree branch and police clue me in that I wasn't getting any further up that road. So I change direction again and head to the one near Churchill Downs.

As I weave in and out of tree limbs and trash cans, I see an upturned port-a-potty. As I swerve around it, it lunges at me. I shit you not (pun intended)!

The Churchill Downs Kroger still has power, so I get everything on the list. Little did I know that most of that money would eventually go to waste, since our power ultimately stayed off for 36 hours.

During all this, RedFaery and I are trying to keep tabs on one another. But the amount of cellular traffic or atmospheric interference kept sending us into each others' voice mail. So I left her a message to tell her I'm still ok, picking up lunch, and coming home.

The only restaurant left with power was the nearby J. Gumbo's, so I got cajun food. The place was packed.

I return home and fight the wind getting everything inside. I went outside a little later when the winds dropped to 20 mph or so to see if we had any damage. We were very lucky - no damage. Lots of shingles and siding was missing from various neighbor's homes. A good-sized tree limb had fallen of a tree where our neighbor normally parks his van, but wisely moved it.

That night we went into my work. Power was already back on, so I e-mailed our out-of-town offices to let them know the situation, then went to our favorite sushi place. The bar was packed with people that wouldn't miss their football game - glad some things never change!

I typically use a CPAP machine at night due to my sleep apnea, but obviously couldn't that night! Since my snores are enough to rattle windows, I slept in the living room with the cats. The next day I was a zombie, but work wasn't too rough on me.

RedFaery fought the headache from her sinus infection for as long as she could, but I had to take her into the emergency room to get her a shot so she could finally get some rest. It was a longer wait than normal, and it looked like there were a lot of minor accidents that had occured thoughout the day. One guy's arm looked chewed up - my guess was a chainsaw kickback of some kind.

She woke me off the couch at 2am when the power finally came back, so I could come to bed and use my CPAP again. At our house now, it's as if there never was a problem - but I'm one of the lucky ones. Many are expected to still be without power for a few more days.

I never would have suspected the hurricane would have sustained that much power through half the U.S. I can't even begin to imagine what it was like in Texas.

A Hard Day's Night

Our second scheduled Improv Challenge taping (I'm about 5 days behind!) went off pretty well. Lots of little changes made it smoother still.

The biggest change is the addition of Deuce Leader as our new music and sound director. I don't really know why Joel dropped out, but I do know that Deuce is an excellent addtion to the team! He's been a DJ in the area for a long time, and is really comfortable on the mic. He makes a great foil for me when bantering, and has some improv experience, so the creativity is there and is a good challenge for me.

Walden Theatre had to back out of this show due to scheduling issues, so Heyman Telent came back for another round. They went up against the cast & crew of the movie "Dead Moon Rising 2". Everyone brought their A-game, and I'm thrilled to see the teams getting very comfortable with trying to create a laugh. They're really starting to play to the camera!

I also got word that after this upcoming taping, we're officially moving the show off the little stage in Vinnie's, and moving to a bigger stage in the Fox Den. This brings us down to the audience a bit more, and gives us a lot more space for the audience.

After meeting with Carol and Scott today, we agreed to a few more format changes that will give me even more freedom on stage. A lot of the technical items, such as explaining the games, will become pre-recorded pieces. How we do the challenges will change as well, allowing me to not carry around my "crutch" of reading material. Whomever wins the first face-off picks the first game they'll play, and the opposing team will play that same game - the only difference is the subject. Speaking of the subjects for the games, those will be taken from the audience before the show as well. Each subject will be what is put on the cards drawn from the pockets on stage - it will be up to the team to figure out how to make it all fit.

Finally, the next taping (we're skipping this week due to the wind storms) will be TWO shows back-to-back. And the first one - a zombie special, just in time to be broadcast on Halloween! And we've already got plans in place to make it memorable!

It's really starting to fall into place!

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 36

I managed to drop down to 211 lbs at one point this week. Then with the wind storm killing the electricity in the area for nearly two days (another blog entry soon), we pretty much ate convenience food the whole time. I'l thrilled I only gained one of those pounds back.

I've discovered that if I go to bed a little hungry, it helps. If the hunger is really bad, I'll drink another bottle of water. The only drawback is that it sometimes makes it hard to get to sleep.

And just for my sister - no talk of pooping!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-35 Loss: 25 lbs.
Week 36 Loss: 0 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 35

I've found a secret dieting technique that REALLY WORKS!!! Get sick!

I mentioned briefly in my last blog of my Friday eating binge - all that weight disappeared in the restroom the next day, and I was kinda shocked. What then shocked me even more was that I had to keep going back to the restroom. I started to swear off pizza and Mountain Dew for the rest of my life until RedFaery told me to take my temperature. 100.6 degrees - and I thought I just feeling crappy from, well, crapping.

The thing about being sick - you never really feel that bad until someone points out that you SHOULD be feeling bad. Then you feel REALLY bad! I sweated like a turkey on Thanksgiving day all night, and was wobbley all the next day. I described the sensation as "vibrating on a sub-atomic level" - you feel like you're shaking, but in reality you're not. We had plans to visit friends for a wrestling pay-per-view, but didn't want to give anyone anything.

I'm trying the work thing this morning, but having the strength of a newborn kitten isn't going to get me far today, I fear.

The good news is my weekend-long shitfest has gotten me down to the lowest point in my weight since starting this program - 212 lbs! Now if there was only a way to replicate this without seriously endangering my health, this would be easy!


Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-32 Loss: 20 lbs.
Week 33 Loss: 5 lbs.
Current Weight: 212 lbs.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

This Boy

Hey, anyone reading my blog, feel free to pimp your own! On the bottom right-hand corner, I added the feature "Followers" - if you sign up there, it links to your own blog. Besides, I'm curious myself who's reading - I'm only aware of about five people (and I'm married to one of them).

In unrelated news - 5 pieces of pizza and 3 cans of Mountain Dew add exactly five pounds. I fucking hate Fridays - my tummy is a "captive audience" to whatever food is there.

Happiness is a Warm PUN!

Thursday night we taped the first official episode of the Alley Theater Improv Challenge. Or so we thought. Joel, our musical director, never showed. He not only plays the music during the show, but he also plays sound effects, gives me onstage cues, and gives me someone to banter with during the slow moments. After we were done, Carol and Scott were leaning heavily into the field of "let's make this a final dress rehearsal and start fresh next week" - it really all boils down to editing and deciding if Joel missing will disrupt the flow of the episodes. I just hope he's ok, cause we never heard from him.

But the entire time we proceeded like it's going to air. The whole day while at work I was anticipating what to do and psyching up. One of my co-workers was on a team that was performing tonight, and she was antsy too. Fortunately the workload was light enough, so I didn't make any major gaffes.

I got there about 6:30 and was first told about Joel missing. I covered with Scott all the things I needed to do in case he didn't show. Most of my cues we going to be delivered by the floor manager, which wouldn't look that great on camera, but would get the job done.

I spent a few minutes with the judges and gave them the rundown on what they'd be doing. They'd come from all walks of the performing arts, and were great all evening giving me someone to banter with when things got slower. I'll probably utilize them more in that regard.

I then gathered the teams together to cover all the last-minute changes and how they're going to affect them. Our competitors were evenly matched. The Second-Chancers were a group of ladies (including my co-worker) that had never pursued the performing arts, and were finally throwing caution to the wind and going for it. Heyman Talent was a group of aspiring performers - however one of their members had to drop out at the last second and was replaced by someone that had just a little instruction. All of them were ready to act silly and have a lot of fun, so I was thrilled to see them go.

Lots of memorable moments. During a one minute re-enactment of "Cinderella", my co-worker just randomly kicked her shoe off to her teammates, and that got a big laugh. Two members of Heyman Talent seemed very natural playing a husband and wife shopping, and they brought a ton of energy. In the end, Heyman Talent won by a mere 14 points. No one left unhappy, which is my goal.

Afterward, I "debriefed" with everyone. The judges gave solid critique of how we can tweak a few of the skits to make them more interesting to the viewing audience. Scott gave a lot of production notes there at the club and later in e-mail that will tighten the ship considerably. Carol and the performers had nothing but praise for the comedy and comfort they had.

If this show winds up being used as "promotional material" for the next few weeks, like when I go on the CW morning show, Heyman Talent will probably get a bye in the tournament, and the Second Chancers will get, funnily enough, a "second chance".

Despite all the setbacks, I'm still extremely happy with how it's all coming together. I'm especially surprised at my own comfort level in front of three cameras trained on me. This thing is going to be HUGE!

Across the Universe

I need to catch up my blog on this last week, since I was so busy. First I'll start with the TSC BBQ in Indy.

RedFaery and I invited a friend to make the trip with us, as Cinn's expressed an interest in getting out more. I hadn't spent as much time with her as Red has, but I was happy to find that she's a great conversationalist. The 2+ hour drive to Indy didn't seem nearly as long!

We arrived a little after noon, and started introducing ourselves to the folks we hadn't met yet. I suppose I should mention that TSC stands for Tech Support Comedy, and it's an online community for those in the IT field that want to make friends and vent about the frustrations that come along with the job. RedFaery had been a member for a number of years before discovering the social aspect of it, and after I came along for the ride to the first BBQ we attended, I also joined and made some friends. I'm not a techie - I only offer the "C" of "TSC", but that's good enough for them!

A nice surprise for RedFaery - a co-worker from her days living in Indy was there, and neither one expected to see each other. While Persephone wasn't an active forum poster, she was a regular on the site. They'd talked online once in a while, but hadn't seen each other in six years.

The host of the gathering, RiffRaff (husband of Magenta, for those wondering the origin of the name) stated that in true TSC BBQ fashion, we were going to go "Office Space" on some old printers he brought from work. One of the British TSC gatherings started the tradition of re-enacting the "Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta" scene from the movie, and it stuck. When asking for ideas on how to creatively destroy them, I suggested stringing them up like pinatas, and the group seemed to go along with it.

As the Epson Stylus printer dangled from a tree branch, everyone took turns whacking it with a shovel. Many times it got wound up in the tree, but just as many times pieces went flying in several directions. I kept half a roller bar, and it sits above me in the hands of my Darth Tater as I type this. Memento.

After many burgers, brats, grilled corn and conversation, Riff insisted that I get up and entertain everyone. I'd kept everyone on the website informed of the Improv Challenge and how it progressed, and all the while unknowingly planted the seed in his mind that I was able to perform at the drop of a hat. He'd mentioned it to me when we first got there, and I laughed it off. Hours later, he's now standing up and asking, "How should I introduce you?". My response: "Oh my god, you're SERIOUS, aren't you?"

Since all the improv games I know involve at least one other person, I didn't let Riff off the hook and made him my partner. I quickly picked out "Moving People", since it didn't require much set-up. Basically while Riff and I talked about picking up chicks at church (the random subject), two others would move our body parts like man-sized dolls. We delved into picking up nuns and lactating (which was spawned by "me" putting my hands on my chest). At one point Persephone (who was moving me) was laughing so hard she could do nothing but lay her face in my back and gigglesnort. Offhand I'd say it went well - the YouTube video will be up any day now I'm sure.

We left as the bonfire was starting up, so we'd be home by midnight. Cinn had made a few new friends, so it was a great success in her "getting out of the house" mission. This having been our 4th BBQ, we've started to become used to the concept of "driving hundreds of miles to meet people you only know online" and are enjoying ourselves more and more each time. Our goal next year is to host a BBQ of our own and show off Louisville to our TSC friends.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Act Naturally

Tonight's the first taping of the Alley Theater Improv Challenge. I'm already too distracted - left my cellphone at phone accidently. Seems like half my life's in there...

We only have six teams signed up for this thing - we really want sixteen, so we're hoping once we start airing a few episodes, people will say, "Hey, I can do that!" and join up. So these next three Thursdays are pretty important!

We had a problem figuring out what to do about the judges - Scott says he's taken care of it, so I guess I'll find out tonight what's happening.

I tweaked how I'm doing the "game selecting process" - instead of having the cards list the entire skit, they'll only list the skit's name. I'll have all the descriptions in my cheat sheet on stage - hey, if Drew Carey can do it, so can I!

My biggest concern is filling the voids when they occur on stage. I have a musical directer (Joel) I can banter with a bit, but finding interesting/funny things to say on the fly is scary - despite my improv background. Nothing more than what I'm asking of the contestants, so I'll deal.

Deep cleansing breaths...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 34

Nothing like a holiday weekend to make you fall off the chuck wagon. And fall I did! Saturday was a BBQ in Indy - burgers, brats, and salsa dip all day. Sunday was the buffet at the local casino. And Monday was All-You-Can Eat soup, salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden for a friend's birthday. I'll probably blog on at least the BBQ later.

The good news about it all is that the pounds gained typically drop off after a day or so. The bad news is that it will be after my weekly check-in.

Mega-busy week - still probably won't get to the gym.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-32 Loss: 23 lbs.
Week 33 GAIN: 3 lbs.
Current Weight: 217 lbs.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Drive My Car

A map of every state I've visited. It's only when I look at it like this do I realize how well-traveled I'm NOT! A couple of notable states for me:

Utah & Arizona: This is the far end of the long driving vacation I took with my family when I was probably 10 or so. Think "National Lampoon's Vacation" without the dead aunt, Wally World or Christie Brinkley, and that's pretty much it. I counted the states in between there and Indiana, as we had to stop and pee sometime, right?

California: I took myself there for 5 days after my first divorce - figured I'd do something I always wanted to do, but never would while married. However, since I was cash-poor, I didn't really do anything except walk 20 blocks to the Walk of Fame and the Chinese Theater and eat McDonald's. I wouldn't have traded the experience for anything!

Wisconsin: Boy Scout summer camp in the middle of the state. The two notable things on this trip: getting inducted into the Order of the Arrow, and our entire caravan of three vans getting pulled over by a cop for u-turning in the grass median of the interstate (and man, did that cop let our scoutmaster have it!).

Florida: I've been to Florida for vacations and business more times than I've visited any other state (other than my home states of Indiana & Kentucky). Damn near every time on someone else's dime though!

You can make a map for countries visited too, but other than the U.S., I can only claim Jamaica, so it would have been boring.

I've got a lot of traveling to do!

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 33

Sticking to water only (well, 90% of the time) is working well for me again. I still haven't gotten to the gym yet.

I really need to lay off the pizza - I've had it three times this week. Damn the convenience of it! I'm surprised I lost as much as I did!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-32 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 33 Loss: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 214 lbs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I've Just Seen a Face

Some recent photos that reference back to recent blog entries:

The room full of Beatle's album covers. These are the Japanese Beatles. "She ruves you, reah, reah, reah!"

RedFaery and I recording a Beatle's song (Let It Be).

My Musketeer outfit, minus the sword.

RedFaery in her Rennaisance outfit.

RedFaery's birthday dinner last night. Fifteen came out to celebrate with us. We had Jockamo's pizza and a decadent chocolate rasberry cake made by one of our friends (it gave Red a "cakegasm"). The waitress missed putting in our order, so we ate about 40 minutes after everyone else at the table (she felt so bad about doing it on Red's birthday, she didn't charge us). People brought giant balloons, one reading "Best of luck on a speedy recovery" as a joke (she's still laughing about that). Afterward, just the two of us went to karaoke, and I sang a couple of songs just for her. Great evening!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


RedFaery is officially 35 today! Due to an inside joke, I still refer to her as 32 though.

Last year she tried to get people to go out with her to eat to celebrate, and no one showed up. She lost quite a few friends that day ("lost" being a soft word for "kicked them out of her life"), and it was a miserable time for her.

This year some new friends we've made have planned a celebration at a local pizza place we've never tried, and about 15 people have already responded saying they're coming out. Even if only 10 of them make it out, it's already a better birthday for her!

Afterward we'll probably go karaoke - one of the attendees recommended a place that has it Wednesday nights. I don't know if she'll hold out that long (been plagued with a bad headache for over a week now), but I know she'll try.

The best part (and potentially the best birthday present): she had a solid job interview yesterday (only the third since being laid off over five months ago), doing the same type of work she really enjoyed two jobs ago. The interviewer gave her all kinds of positive vibes - they have another candidate to see Monday, but she'll know that evening if they want her. Should make for a tense weekend for her, but it'll help that I'm taking her shopping for new clothes - focus that nervous energy towards something positive and fun!

All my love, baby!

Glass Onion

One of my new addictions. I've solved all the existing levels (those last three are a bitch!), and I'm considering signing up ($10) to play levels created by others (and making my own).

Right now, I'm replaying each one trying unconventional methods - intentionally making it harder on myself. For example, if it's just a matter of building a car that takes the pink ball into the pink zone, I'll try making a catapult to hurl it instead.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Honeymoon Song

(NOTE: Yes, that's a Beatle's song title, from "Live at the BBC")

Always a groom, never a groomsman. Until this last weekend.

I'd met Celtic Kleric and Tymber thru an online community many years ago. Eventually they found each other and found love. Like RedFaery and I, they married once for insurance purposes, and were now going to have the big ceremony and celebration with their family and friends.

Since between them there was a ton of family and friends, choosing who was to be in their wedding party was going to be a chore, so they left it up to chance and drew names out of a hat. RedFaery was one of the bridesmaids. When CK mentioned one of the groomsmen may not be able to afford the outfit, I casually mentioned to him that if he needed someone else, to just holler. A couple of weeks later, he did just that!

I mentioned the "outfit", right? What I didn't mention was that it was a Renaissance-style wedding, and the theme was based off one of their favorite movies, the Disney version of "The Three Musketeers". Now you know what I mean by outfit, right? Full musketeer garb - hat with plume, tabbard, breaches, and rapier.

CK & Tymber let me know that they were supplying the rapier (groomsmen's gifts!), so I just needed to come up with the rest. They showed me a couple of online sites to start my search. Red and I had been trying to come up with a good Renaissance outfit for me anyway, so this made life easier for us.

Speaking of Red, she was looking for a new outfit too since she'd dropped so much weight. We went to a Kentucky Renn faire a few months ago, and she found a nice medium blue skirt and a muffin hat to match. But the crowning jewel of her ensemble was a bodice with intricate patterns stitched into it. It gave her the look of upper-middle/working class, and showed off her new figure well.

Look at me, sounding all "What Not to Wear" up in here! Moving on...

We dressed at home and drove 90 minutes to Frankfort, to the Buffalo Trace Distillery where the outdoor ceremony and indoor reception were to be. No one else was dressed yet, and everyone was still decorating the hall. Red and I pitched in wherever we could - laying tablecloth, setting up chairs, carrying in food. We then ran thru the ceremony briefly, climbing a hill up a flagstone set of steps, and standing on a bridge high above were the audience stood. Pretty simple, and not nearly as hot outside as I thought it would be.

The actual ceremony went well. No major screw ups, other than one of the ring bearers being in a grumpy, noisy mood. Red and I, standing across from each other, got our own little signs of love to one another that no one else notices, so we kept ourselves entertained.

Afterward were the photos while the crowd went in to eat. There should be a good pic of CK and I mock sword fighting somewhere in the mix. He mentioned wanting a "honor guard" of musketeers holding swords aloft and making a tunnel, military style. Easier said than done, since the happy couple were both at least 6-foot tall!

I took it upon myself to make sure everyone saw the entrance. When we were lined up and ready, I used my best theater voice and shouted PRESENT ARMS!. Definitely got the crowd's attention, and they they turned away from the buffet long enough to applaud the couple. The maid of honor, Jenn, wasn't quite expecting it though - she turned to Red and said, "I think I just peed myself!"

As we're enjoying the food, we hear rumblings of toasts by the maid of honor and best man. However, the best man is terrified of public speaking, so I offer to step in there as well. I'd already thought about what I'd say if I had the chance, so I took it. It went something like this:

"I'm not entirely sure when CK & Tymber started dating. In fact, I don't even think THEY know when they started dating. When I'd ask them if they were, they reply with something like, " don't's complicated." How is this complicated? Either you are or you aren't I say - well, to my wife I'd say that anyway, not to their faces! Anyway, they seemed to eventually figure it out, which is great. So everyone please raise their glasses. To CK and Tymber, may it never be complicated again!"

Eventually things started dying down, and we started to help clean up. Once we did all we could to help, we gave them hugs, wished them a great time on their honeymoon, and headed out. It was a fun day, and I truly hope Red and I helped make it a memorable one for them.

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 32

Coming back from vacation, I've noticed the same thing always tends to happen to me. Specifically what goes on in the bathroom. I'll spare you the details - let's just say I don't get rid of much while my body is adjusting to the change of pace. Eventually it smoothes out after 3 days or so.

Never did get to the gym - renew that commitment. And ate extremely good, rich, and undoubtedly unhealthy food at a wedding this last weekend (more in the next blog), so that didn't help either. Probably would have dropped more if I focused on it.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-31 Loss: 19 lbs.
Week 32 Loss: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Her Majesty

(Anyone that's familiar with "Abbey Road" will get the use of that song title for this vacation postscript)

One more memorable moment from the Beatle's convention I forgot to mention...

Sometime Saturday when we were sitting under the stairs singing, I noticed that the musicians were keeping with the simple guitar ballads. That's all fine and dandy, but we were drifting slowly into the "I Gave My Love a Cherry" sequence from "Animal House", and this scene needed a "Bluto".

After a song was over, I shouted out to the closest picker, "How about playing 'I'm Down'?" For those not in the know, "I'm Down" was one of Paul McCartney's songs that was loud and up-tempo. Think of Little Richard meets Metallica.

The musicians kinda rolled their eyes, getting a look on their faces like "this is going to suck". One of them said over his shoulder to me, "If you think you can sing it..."

That's all I needed to hear! I responded, returning the snarky attitude with, "Oh, I can sing it - I just hope you can keep up!" And off I went...


A couple of things happened at once:
1. The guitarists got this "Oh Shit!" look on their faces, but recovered quick enough to start playing.
2. Some poor teenage girl sitting in front of me (and her back to me) never saw it coming. I didn't know anyone could jump that high from a sitting position on the floor!

And for a brief three minutes, everyone on the basement level of the Hyatt know who I was. Worth the cost of admission all by itself.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour (Part 2)

We begin with Sunday morning of our vacation again at Dunkin' Donuts, and a very happy RedFaery. I'll have you know I didn't eat just donuts each of these visits - I enjoyed a ham, egg & cheese cresent and hot chocolate as well.

We got on the highway and started towards the downtown area. Somewhere along the way, Grue called to make sure we were underway. My keen navigational sense was working as well is usual, so we wondered off the path somewhere between Lake Shore Drive and the Museum of Science and Industry and meandered around until we found it.

Clan Grue showed up a few minutes later (Grue, his wife HairTech, and their two sons) and we began our journey. No real plan of attack, we just casually moved from one exhibit to another taking it all in. Grue and their eldest got tickets to explore the submarine while the rest of us relaxed in the commissary and taking in a few more stops along the way. All the walking around from the day before caught up with me and RedFaery, so we headed out to eat.

As I'm following Grue to the restaurant, we get separated when he decides to make a u-turn (a random street festival blocked his path), and I opt for a normal turn. As we chatter on the phone with each other trying to meet up again, we magically appear at the restaurant before him! I wasn't aware it was valet parking only, so I quickly take a spot. The valet comes over to inform me it's $8 to take that spot. I wasn't born yesterday, so before I took his word for it I ask him to go to the valet booth with me - only then, when I determined he wasn't just some guy off the street, I paid him. Probably didn't endear me to him, but he'll get over it.

Ever since I've known RedFaery, she's talked about a place in Chicago where the waiters are intentionally rude to the guests and how she'd love to take me there. It just so happens that's where Grue decided to take us. Ed Debevic's is a widely popular burger joint (yes, that's four hamburgers for RedFaery in three days!), and they all wanted to subject me to it's charms. The funny thing was that everyone else kept the waitress busy bantering with her that she never really did have time to banter with me specifically. The worst I got - I was forced to wear a paper hat.

The burger was good (I got the 5-Alarm spicy burger - I give it 3 alarms tops though), and at one point music starts up and the waiters dance on the floor and on the bar. I still have "Get Up Off of That Thing!" by James Brown running thru my head.

Off we drove (at 70 mph!) to Casa Grue. While Red jumped in the car with HairTech to go pay a bill, Grue gave me the grand tour - including showing off the house server for their four computers, the in-house salon, and an amazing array of museum-quality ancient software Grue was especially proud to have accumulated over the years.

We topped off the evening enjoying a movie ("enjoying" being a loose term - "Highlander: The Source" we all agreed wasn't too great of a flick) and some popcorn. Occaisionally I was whisked upstairs to their eldest son's room to watch him play a Star Wars game on his X-box. Somewhere along the way, HairTech gave RedFaery a lower back massage, and Red found another substance she's developed an allergy to recently (almond oil is the likely culprit).

When the kids were sent to bed, we hung out with HairTech and Grue in their kitchen just chatting about the online site we're all members of, children, health issues, jobs and whatever else. Time flew by and it was 1am before we knew it (2am Louisville time), so we toddled off to bed. I think we were both out when our heads hit the pillows.

It was pitch black. We were not eaten by a Grue. He had to get up very early to get to work, so I felt sorry for him in his zombie-like state.

Monday morning we got up and said our goodbyes to the kids, then HairTech led us out to the nearest Dunkin' Donuts (once more, with feeling!) and pointed out the interstate to us. One last hug, a couple of jelly/creme-filled joyous moments later, and we were on the road again.

All of RedFaery's family live in northern Indiana/southern Michigan, so it only made sense to visit them on the way back. We met up with her mother, sister and nephew and stopped by the new home her sister and family just got. Nice little modular with enough room for their son to run around.

We headed to Red Lobster for lunch where I had my normal Endless Salad and Soup, and RedFaery had another hamburger (just kidding - no more hamburgers!). It was a nice relaxing stop, and I enjoyed bantering with Logan now that he's getting better at talking. I think he was just glad to have a guy around so he wasn't forced to go into the women's bathroom with his mom.

Hugs goodbye, and off we go again to visit RedFaery's grandmother. She's 85, very spry and intelligent, and a very positive person, so it's always great to see her. However, my body is already weary from the driving, so I take a catnap in the guest bedroom for 40 minutes while the girls catch up.

When I get up, we head out to grab a pizza. When we're finished eating, Red's aunt and uncle (who live nearby) stopped in and we catch up with them as well. It's a long 4+ hour drive home, so we couldn't stay very long - one more round of hugs and off we go.

We get home about midnight (back on our time again), love on the cats a little, check our e-mail and head to bed. I took the next day off as well, since I knew the drive would wipe me out, plus I had a couple of other tasks I need to tackle.

So there you go - how I spent my summer vacation. It may be another 2 years before we take another one, but I think we made the most out of our time off.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Magical Mystery Tour (Part 1)

Vacation's over. Insert sad face here. Here's the wrap-up!

We left mid-morning for our long drive to Chicago - no big hurry. RedFaery made a couple of music mixes for the CD player to keep us from being bored. No Beatles in the mix - I insisted we'd both be sick of their music right after the convention, and we wanted to listen to the mixes on the way back too.

About 5 hours later we hit the Chicago traffic. I've been thru worse - we hit about 3pm local time, so it was well between lunch and end-of-day rushes. RedFaery's Mapquested route had us avoiding Gary, Indiana as well, so that was an excellent bonus! The last 15 miles of our drive took about two hours when all was said and done.

Unfortunately, the Beatlefest directions sent us to the wrong Hyatt. Fortunately, we were able to confirm with them that we had reservations at the O'Hare location. Also fortunately, that Hyatt was only a couple of miles away, so it didn't take long to get there. And most importantly, the Hyatt we were at let us use the bathroom!

So we checked in, got settled in our "executive suite" (same as any other suite, but with a desk), and laughed at the prices of the crap in our mini-bar. We then set out to find cheap eats and settled on a Denny's. I ate half the menu, and RedFaery got a nice big hamburger (remember that for later!). When we left we explored the area and found Red's "holy grail" - a REAL Dunkin' Donuts store! Around Louisville, the only DDs we have are attached to gas stations and only sell the simplest stuff (glazed, powdered, krullers and bearclaws). At a REAL Dunkin' Donut store, she could get her long-missed Bowties (glazed cinnamon twists) and vanilla-creme filled powdered sugar donuts. We now had breakfast for the next few mornings planned!

We wandered around the hotel after dinner, and I marvelled at the changes since I'd last been there (at least five years now). The biggest change, and one of our biggest disappointments, was that the pool was gone. We were looking forward to a relaxing swim when we had downtime, so that sucked.

There were already small pockets of people playing guitars and singing around the place. Another significant change was discovered - the tiny cramped stairwell where my fondest memories of the Fest began had been taken out! In it's place was a huge staircase, complete with escalators. Sure there was still space underneath - enough for 100 easily - but the charm of being squished in with 50 people creating a massive fire hazard was now lost. Oh well, time marches on...

We sat down for a little bit and sang along with the dozen or so gathered, relaxing and enjoying the doing-nothingness of vacation. RedFaery was remarking how different it all was and that it wasn't quite what she was expecting, and I told her "you ain't seen nothing yet!"

The next day we got our donuts, then our convention wristbands, and wandered around. I was sad to see that the usual travelling exhibit of John Lennon's art was missing, but plenty of other pieces took up the slack - primarily Ringo's artwork and a photo exhibit of the Beatles studying with the Maharishi. My favorite new exhibit was a room dedicated to all the Beatle's album covers from all over the world. I think I got a pic of "Abbey Road" in Japanese somewhere on our disposable cameras.

As we wandered the merchandise area, I hear "Is that Ray?" and turn to look at a vaguely familiar young man. Since it was obvious I couldn't place him, he clued me in - my nephew from my previous marriage. He was there with his mother and his aunt (my ex-wife). When we were still together, we brought him and his sister to a Beatlefest when he was only 8 years old, and it made a huge impression on him. Sure enough, we eventually caught up with the rest of the family and talked about travel war stories and updated each other on our lives. I should have expected they'd be there (the ex is a bigger Beatlefreak than I am), but it never once occured to me. After that, we ran across then about five more times among 10,000 or so people.

RedFaery graciously indulged my desire to sit around and sing under the stairs many times Saturday. After a while, the singers and guitar players would start to get really lousy and we'd look at each other and say "Wanna wonder off again?", only to come back a couple hours later to a fresh group. I credit this for not getting sick of the music this time. We even went back to the room once to catch a catnap - hey, it's a vacation!

We went out for lunch and found a local bar with a nice selection of food. The only thing on the menu that caught Red's eye was the hamburger. Yet another inexpensive meal! For dinner we planned on doing the $10 buffet at the hotel restaurant. Turns out the buffet was nothing but snack food, salads, pulled pork and...hamburgers. So even more dead cow for the Faery!

While we were back to singing under the stairs, I got a call on my cellphone. Grue, our online friend whom we were going to the museum with Sunday, was letting us know that we could stay at his place Sunday night, saving hotel costs and bypassing the worst of the Chicago traffic. We could barely hear each other over the dulcet tones of a hundred people singing "Getting Better", but I told him we'd let him know if we were going to take him up on the offer. Brief discussion with the boss, and we now knew this was our last evening at the hotel.

(Wow, that's only half of it! More in the next entry)

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 31

Don't ever let anyone tell you that calories consumed on vacation don't count - because they do! I ate like the fatted calf (minus the slaughter), lounged around a lot, and the scales show it. I guess it could have been worse.

Back to portion control and water, maybe some gym time on Sunday. I'll post a vacation report blog shortly.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-30 Loss: 22 lbs.
Week 31 GAIN: 3 lbs.
Current Weight: 218 lbs.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ticket to Ride

My last blog until probably Tuesday. So those of you waiting with baited breath on my weight loss info (both of you) will have to wait a little longer.

Tonight is a dry run of the Improv Challenge. Doing this for the first time ever, I don't completely know what to expect. Here's what I'm assuming will happen:

Scott, the cameramen, and the improv artists (a mixture of the pro team the Indicators, some of my old improv buddies, and actual competing teams trying to get their sea legs) will pow-wow on how it's all going to go down. I'll give brief examples/training to the teams on the various skits, with the other improvisors demonstrating how it's done.

Then we'll do a mock taping of the show. They WILL be running the cameras, and some of the footage will be used for commercials to run on TV and web (and if I have my way, be included in the Season One DVD collection - I'm nothing if not ambitious!).

My biggest tasks - learning cues from Scott on how much time we have before and after commercial breaks, learning how to make it interesting, and trying to not look like the rank amateur I really am! No problem, right?

We'll be doing it again next Thursday as well, so I'm not expecting all smoothness and miracles tonight.


Then tomorrow morning, RedFaery and I leave for our vacation to Chicago. Yay, a Friday off - first one since the honeymoon!

Saturday is the Fest for Beatle Fans (Beatlefest is SO much easier to say - damn lawyers!). I get to show my wife all the exhibits, merchandise and artwork that I love. I'll probably record a song or two, and I always buy a loud tie. But the most fun is relaxing with 5,000 new buddies, doing nothing but kicking back and singing Beatle's songs. It's the closest to being a hippie I ever get. I just may confuse RedFaery completely!

Sunday we're meeting a few pals from an online community we both frequent (Tech Support Comedy) at the Museum of Science and Industry. RedFaery and I haven't been there since we were kids, so we hope to act like kids the whole day. We've partied with Grue and HairTech before, so it's going to be a blast. Dinner afterward at the location of their choice - always trust the locals when it comes to cuisine!

Monday we'll begin the drive back home, stopping along to way at RedFaery's mother's home. Seeing the new home her sister's family is moving into in two weeks is on the docket as well.

I'm still deciding whether or not to take Tuesday off to get a few more things accomplished. I'll just play it by the ear. Hey, it's a vacation, right?

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 30

I did make it to the gym, but I paid very little attention to what I was eating and when. I also drank far less water. It cost me.

This week I'm finalizing things for vacation, so I'm already going to be hard-pressed to follow any kind of gameplan on eating or exercising. I'll do my best though!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-27 Loss: 24 lbs.
Week 28 GAIN: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da

In this blog, I'm going to pick up random questions I found online, designed specifically for blogs. No reason.

Have you ever fired a gun?
Yes. When I was a Boy Scout, I actually was certified in firearms. I preferred .22 calibur weapons due to them having less kick. I'd occaisionally go with my dad to the firing range. However, I've not picked one up since then. Probably due to too many John Lennon songs.

Are you good with directions?

Sometimes. I have intermittent internal radar. Problem is I don't know when it's on the blink, so I'll stubbornly get us lost while insisting I'm right.

What's in your pockets?
My cellphone, too many keys, and an empty wallet.

What's your nickname?
"ActingUpAgain" is my most common moniker. I grew up being called "Sugar Ray" a lot - to the point that I really don't care for it. And there's one set of theatre friends that still call me "Peter Quince" (or just "Quincy") due to their first meeting me while performing "Midsummer Night's Dream" together.

What is heaven?

Heaven is a place where you have enough time and energy to do what you want. Currency doesn't exist in any form.

Choose one line from a song that sums up your life thus far.
"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." - the Beatles (of course)

Monopoly: yay! or no way?
Yay, at first. Once someone gets ahold of both Park Place and Boardwalk, it's just a matter of time. And it's NEVER me.

Do you like the thrill of a chase?

Absolutely not. I'm the most impatient person you'll ever meet, although I'm very good at hiding it. I want the conclusion and the payoff, and I want it NOW!

What won't you share?
My dinner or my wife. Pretty much everything else I'll give up without thinking, and I have the credit card bills to prove it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Not a Second Time

Here's my favorite of the four commercials made:

To see the other two, go to YouTube and search for "alyscott"

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Taste of Honey

The first commercial for the Improv Challenge!

Sadly, these are destined to be web-only. We're filming the workshops and using footage from it for the TV commercials.

There are a few more that will be on YouTube soon.

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 29

I'm thrilled to report that I am back to the lowest recorded weight I've been at when starting this plan - 213 lbs! Going back to the basics (portion control & more water) was all I needed to get to this point again.

I am kinda upset with myself for not getting to the gym once this last week. Going to try to make it in at least once this week - that's my short-term goal.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-27 Loss: 22 lbs.
Week 28 Loss: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 213 lbs.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 28

I'm happy to be back on the trend of losing about a pound a week. Can't say I'm doing a whole lot different though. I've just been keeping the portions down, despite having pizza a couple of times this last week. And I'm trying to ignore that little "I'm hungry" tinge by drinking a bottle of water when it strikes - maybe that's all I needed to to add.

Still not much of an update, I know. But hey, I'm happy!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-27 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 28 Loss: 1 lb.
Current Weight: 215 lbs.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Eight Days a Week

Random thoughts on this last week:

My commercials won't work on TV - something technical from what the producer said (I don't know, I'm just a talking head). At least we'll have them on the web, and maybe that will still effectively draw interest and participants.

You know you're a awesome singer when:
a. You're so white you're almost translucent, but still;
b. Black people are shaking your hand and dancing along when you give your rendition of "Minnie the Moocher"

As I mentioned in my weight-loss update, the Mongolian grill we went to was really good. RedFaery is going to try the unlimited version (all you can eat) next time, getting smaller portions, just for the variety. Me, I'm going to stick with one bowl - but I'm going to pile it high!

If you get the lamb chops at Mojitos, be aware that there isn't much meat there. They were more like "lambsicles". Taste was good though.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 27

Not too long of an update today.

Quick basic thoughts:
The new Mongolian grill is great, and would have probably been more healthy if I didn't go back for seconds.
Installing new Macs at work is almost as good exercise as 30 minutes on the eliptical - but I hope to not have to do it again anytime soon.

That's it!

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-23 Loss: 21 lbs.
Week 25 Loss: None
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things We Said Today - Part 2

I re-shot the promos for the Improv Challange on Friday morning. Everything I didn't like about them Scott liked even less, so we both took part of the holiday morning to get some better ones.

We ditched the cue cards entirely, which led to a lot of bumbling on my part. Once we got a solid effort in the can, Scott (with Herschel along to help) tried filming a few more comedic ones. Most of them revolved about me "mistakenly" walking out under the logo (once post-produced) or having Scott tell me I've dropped a line. I think we got some funny ones.

I really made Scott bust a gut when I said, "Hey, ever wanted to be on Saturday Night Live? Well, this ain't it!" Sadly, seeing him laugh made me lose it too.

After 90 minutes, we had 5-6 really good shots, and I got a good lesson on what to expect when playing to the camera, which I've done woefully little on up to this point. I also had to bust out my rusty improv, so it was needed to get me in the right frame of mind to do this show.

Hopefully the spots will be on YouTube this week. And that blooper reel is going to be HUGE!

Take Out Some Insurance On Me Baby

Another home improvement project is done. Not the painting which we technically are in the middle of (I'm sure that's another blog entry next week), but a long-term goal of having a security system installed is what I'm referring to.

Last week, I caught whatever virus RedFaery was fighting, and I spent a couple days at home feeling like a hot mess. Last thing I wanted to do was to go to work and make people sick before the holiday weekend.

As we sat on the couch watching bad daytime television, I saw a man come up to the porch and knock. I figured it was a salesman or a Morman, so I shuffled out to tell him we weren't interested.

It was indeed a salesman, but it wasn't at all what I was expecting. (By the way, you aren't supposed to know about the rest of this part, so pretend I didn't say it).

The home security system he represents (let's just call it the ABC Company) was looking for what they called "advertising homes" on our street. Appearently when ADT Security started out, they took this same approach - so this wasn't unheard of.

An advertising home basically has the security system installed and the sign in front of the house so people driving or walking by would see the name and get interest in the company. The equipment and installation are no charge to the customer (in this case, us), and the ABC Company is gambling that the name recognition our house generates will make them their money back.

I spent all that time with my fuzzy mind trying to hear the catch, but I couldn't find anything that sounded unreasonable. The only cost to us was the $45/month monitoring fee, and we had to agree to be an advertising home for a minimum of three years. During that time, our rate will never raise - in fact, we can extend it another two years if we want. Plus, with the savings from our homeowners insurance, it actually would cost us a dollar a day.

About five minutes into the conversation, RedFaery poked her head out the door to tell me that Max threw up. This is normally no big deal, so I recognized it as a cue she was giving me to get out of the conversation if I wanted to. After a few minutes, I excused myself to go clean it up. I grabbed her and told her to go talk to the guy and listen for something I missed. I waited a few minutes, pretending to clean up Max's vomit (which the salesman thought was out son, not our cat, and I didn't bother correcting him), and headed back out.

I could tell from Red's mannerisms that she was intrigued too. When he got around to telling us he would include a panic button to call the ambulance, like LifeAlert, we were both sold. After all, it was only a couple of months ago Red could have really used that when she went into anaphalytic shock while home alone. That measure of comfort was priceless.

So we signed up. From what we could tell, the retail value of the package we got was about $1,600, and it cost us nothing! About 30 minutes after all the paperwork was done, the technician was there and installing door sensors and the control panel. We now carry keychain controls as well to arm and disarm the system remotely. So far, we're VERY happy with not only the deal, but the system itself.

The funniest thing about it in retrospect - it's because of home security that we almost didn't get the system. If I weren't home sick, RedFaery would have never answered the door, and he'd have just gone to another house.

I now feel vaguely James Bondish. Without a license to kill, sadly.

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 26

I'm at the halfway point of my weightloss year. Looking strictly at the stats, I'm ahead of schedule. Having dropped a total to date of 21 pounds, that puts me at losing 57% of the weight I wanted to lose. Something to be proud of!

However, the reality is much different. I hit that number months ago, and have floated between 214-217 all that time. I did once even make it down to 212.

So what's the matter?

Mistakes were made. I tried a few things that differed from what I knew was working, just simply because I wanted to experiment. Problem with that is that I didn't go back once I saw they didn't work. They turned into new bad habits that I treated like good habits.

Time to redouble my efforts and return to the passion that I had for chipping away at that magic number. Time to up my exercise to more than once a week - maybe even for longer than 30 minutes at a time as well. Time to stop overanalyzing, and just fuckin' do it.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-23 Loss: 20 lbs.
Week 25 Loss: 1 lbs.
Current Weight: 216 lbs.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Ray - Week 25

I did so well. I really did. I was close to losing another pound. But the queso dip at the party last night was REALLY good, and I'm certain I'm retaining water due to salt like I did with the fried rice. So today I'm up two pounds.

More motivation to lose weight - seeing myself on the screen when I did the commercial filming.

That's all I've got. Since next week's the halfway point, I might do something bigger.

Starting Weight: 237 lbs.
Weeks 1-23 Loss: 22 lbs.
Week 25 GAIN: 2 lbs.
Current Weight: 217 lbs.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Things We Said Today

Last night we filmed 15-second promos for the Improv Challenge. Here's the tale of that little adventure...

I'd been playing e-mail tag with Scott on setting up the time and place to film the commercials, and he realized our schedules wouldn't mesh during the week. And since it needed to be filmed in HD (break out the Clearasil!) and Scott didn't have the right equipment, he gave me the contact info for Joe, the videographer for City Block, and asked me to take it from there.

The promo pieces were an amalgam (love that word!) of bits written by Scott, Carol and myself - mostly Carol. I added a couple of lines in an effort to make it more comedic in nature, but otherwise is packed a lot of info into 15 seconds.

I spent Wednesday night writing the info onto cuecards. To save cash, and to make RedFaery's job of holding them a lot easier, I wrote each spot on one card where she could easily flip it. More on that later...

Thursday at lunch, I studied the words and went over them in my mind, counting off the seconds to make sure I could keep them under or at 15 seconds. Got the timing down pretty well. On the drive home, I read them out loud a few times each (yeah, I was driving and reading - I'm really good at it too!). I think I found a nice level of enthusiam without venturing into "monster truck show announcer" territory.

I pick up RedFaery and head to Joe's house/studio, right when a thunderstorm was rolling in. Wonderful - how many retake was I going to have to shoot due to God's sound effects, I wondered.

Joe was ready for me, and I stood in front of a green screen while he focused in on my head and upper chest - no since scaring folks off with my gut just yet! We decided that each scene we worked on would be one continuous take, and the garbage would be edited out later.

The good points: I think my enthusiam was dead-on perfect, my gestures weren't too wild and distracting, and I kept my eyes wide and expressive (unlike my normal squinting). I think there's enough there for Scott to work with.

The bad points: I'm appearently really bad at reading cuecards - watching my eyes bounce back and forth might be pretty distracting. I'd much rather be making it up as I go - which I will be during the actual show thankfully. Plus I forgot I had a blue pen in my shirt pocket, so there's this annoying blue spot on my chest. Hopefully whatever Scott puts in the background keeps everyone's focus off those negative things.

The funny thing: My effort to save cash and time nearly ruined things. RedFaery was underneath the camera's mic, and flipping the cards make a thunder-like noise - as if we didn't have enough of that to deal with. When she slowed down, I'd miss my cue line. But between her anticipation of the coming lines and me imprinting in my mind the website address (which was always the next line), we got it solved in a couple of minutes. I just hope we make a DVD with a blooper reel - my way of dealing with frustration without swearing involves rattling my head and hopping in place, and I had no choice but to laugh at watching myself!

Next week sometime the commercials will be done, and I'm going to YouTube them and link them everywhere I can think of. Last I knew we had several verbal commitments, but no written ones yet, which is frustrating. Maybe these spots will spur it on more.