Friday, April 30, 2010

Windy and Rainy Weekend

Tonight I am watching the weather mess unfold across Arkansas. Multiple tornado touchdowns with the system that is quickly coming this way.

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If the forecasters are correct, this thing will right west of here and basically stop in place for almost two days. That’s why we have severe storms and possible tornadoes in the forecast for the second weekend in a row. What is worse this weekend is the forecast for 5 to 8 inches of rain possible here over two days. That would cause an unbelievable mess. My yard begins to resemble swamp at the first inch. I bet I could get an inflatable raft out there in 5. (I do have an inflatable raft and I will take pictures of this if it happens!)

So, we’re going to hang tight as the first wave should get here somewhere around 4AM. And we’re hoping for the best for the people of Arkansas who are dealing with a truly horrible situation tonight.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Blog Tweaking in Progress

I have a bad habit of suddenly getting bored with the way rooms look and moving the furniture all around with little to no notice. I am the same way about the blog. I look at the layout for a while and get bored.

I also see other blogs that seem a lot more crisp and visually appealing and I look back at mine and want to hurl.

So, I will be playing with my layout a bit for the next day or two. If you come by and nothing is fitting right and things look like AOL from 1997 took over, it’s only temporary.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Books: Fletch

I keep meaning to write at least a little bit about the book Fletch by Gregory McDonald. I finished it a while back.

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I was reminded of it yesterday when I saw the movie available in Best Buy on Blu-Ray. I guess everything is going to get the HD treatment now so the movie companies can get us to replace the DVD collection we got to replace the VHS collections we used to have. It’s quite a racket they’ve got going.

I don’t have a lot to say about Fletch. It was a fairly quick read. It was a lot more gritty than the movie. It was just as funny as the movie – all the classic bits (including “charge it to the Underwoods”) were there. I felt that I understood the storyline a lot more by reading the book. It’s been years since I saw the movie and I’ll have to watch it again and see what I think of it now.

There are places in the book where Fletch is recanting all of the details of what he is working on into his tape recorder. This drove me nuts. Sure, it’s probably accurate that an investigative reporter would go through such a process but it is still tough to have to go through pages of summary of what you just read. This reminded me of all the pages of photography mumbo-jumbo in the book Bridges of Madison County.

So, that’s the end of another weekend.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Nothing to see here. Move along.

We appear to have gotten lucky. And, we’re much luckier than those to the west and southwest of us. The last little line of storms is about to pass over us and it has lost most of its punch.

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I’m about ready to lay down and read some before going to sleep. There is nothing on TV worth watching tonight. Today has passed in an unproductive, sleepy blur. That’s exactly how Saturday should be.

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So far, so good

We’re about to get round 3 of storms for the day. Nothing too powerful just yet.

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Of course, they have taken us up to a ‘high risk’ status for severe weather and tornadoes for the rest of the day.

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They are saying that the strongest stuff will be here after 4PM. I’ll be keeping an eye out for that.

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If you have the urge to watch the storm chaser from our local TV station, click here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Friday Music Flashback : Grayson Hugh

We’ll interrupt this music flashback to note that the weather here is about to take a nasty turn.

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We have a very impressive system moving in here late tonight that has all kinds of tornado and hail damage history to go with it. This is our big time of year for bad weather. We’ve been fortunate so far so we will have to wait and see what is coming tomorrow.

Also, our company switched from Sprint to AT&T today! Now I have a fancy new Blackberry that is actually pretty cool. The changes are all for the better. So far, me likes.

Two videos today from Grayson Hugh. His big year was 1989. He is still out there and still performing. He even has a website.

I still have my cassette single of this song!

And this is the song that made me think of him when I heard it on Sirius XM 80’s on 8 this week. It makes opening your luggage sort of creepy.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Popular Music

I think there is a point where popular top 40 music on the radio starts to escape your grasp. I slowly feel that happening with me. I keep trying to stay current because of my kids but it is tough. There are so many times I want to turn the channel back to the comfort of 70’s on 7 or 80’s on 8. Instead, I endure endless Radio Disney pop and Sirius/XM Hits. I am bombarded with songs that I think hardly classify as music. And, will kids today be listening to this stuff in 30 years on “oldies” stations?

Here is a perfect example. It sounds very promising until the rap begins. I guess it is listenable. It is just annoying. Less rap, more singing please.

I still try to watch Saturday Night Live regardless of the fact it gets less and less funny. That might be because I am becoming a fuddy duddy. Still, this performance from last Saturday by fellow Nashvillian Ke$ha got quite a few nasty comments by bloggers and such. They knocked the glow in the dark. They knocked the singing even though it sounds exactly like the record to me. I’m just wondering how many middle school kids will now refer to themselves as a “lovesick crackhead”. Supposedly Ke$ha writes these songs also. She needs to cut back on the NyQuil while doing so.

The real funny part is how she just kind of stands there and goes through the motions. She is not much of a live performer. This looks more like a glow in the dark mime in slow motion than a performance on SNL to me. She just has no energy.

Don’t even get me going on Justin Bieber and the Black Eyed Peas. And, while I’m at, stay out of my yard!

I am pleasantly surprised by Train having a huge comeback hit. The lead singer is even older than I am! Middle age – represent!!

There is still hope for top 40. I’ll linger around a little longer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday

I’m starting to feel normal again. I’m back on the yogurt diet and so far that is helping me in the war against antibiotics. I did sleep past 9AM today and I already feel like going to sleep before 8PM.

We went to the 3-D How to Train Your Dragon movie today. The kids really seemed to enjoy it. The 3-D was pretty cool. I guess 3-D is becoming the new cool. After a while, I hardly noticed the 3-D. The flying parts are so fast paced that it is hard to take in everything you are seeing.

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The story was good. I enjoyed it. I was glad that the movie was not just slapped together to take advantage of the special effects. I remember going to see Jaws 3-D back in 1983. It was horrible! All of the hype was the 3-D, which was really crappy with those old 3-D glasses and no special projector.

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Now for something completely unrelated…I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of the woman who shipped her adopted child back to Russia on a plane alone. If not, read about it here. Well, we’re mighty proud that she is from right here in Middle Tennessee.

On the news this week, I noticed that the real-life sheriff of that county looks an awful lot like a fictional sheriff you might be familiar with.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

I declare this week officially over

Maybe, next week:
  • The cut on my right index fingertip that makes it miserable to type might heal.
  • I can avoid another trip to see the doctor.
  • I will be only taking two pills a day and I won’t feel like I am living in slow motion.
  • I will be able to get through at least one day at work without getting the repeated urge to scream.
I am glad to put this week behind me. I started the week with high hopes and ended it completely beat down. Convincing myself not to take a sick day was probably my biggest mistake. It was all downhill from there.

Well, maybe next week will simply just be better.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Midweek miscellanea

I finally had to give in to the allergies and go to the doctor again. It appears that Zyrtec is no longer working for me. I’ve previously been on Claritin and Allegra, so I am running out of options. I am now on some sort of prescription only deal where I take two pills a day for the next 15 days to see if it works. Also, I am taking the antibiotics and the nose spray. Last but not least was the steroid shot which is supposed to stop the 24 hour a day allergy attack I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to treat with over the counter benadryl.

It’s a good day to check out some pics from the blackberry.

These are Silly Bandz. They are the coolest thing at the elementary school. Sara has been telling me who in her class has them and who doesn’t. She also counts hers like they are money. Kids trade them. It’s just plain weird. They are much cheaper than Atari cartridges were when I was growing up, so I am pleased that she wants something cheap – for now.

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This was on the radio today. It’s “Who’s Johnny” by El Debarge. Did we really listen to this stuff in ‘86? It is the theme from the movie Short Circuit. Sure, I was an Atari playing nerd, but I did not like Short Circuit. Dumb. I think this movie just about destroyed the career of Ally Sheedy. I am not going to embed the music video here. It is just too awful. Here is a link if you really want to torture yourself.

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This is the tiny vaporizer that I bought to sit beside me as I work, per the suggestion of my doctor. I already have a big one for nighttime. Did I mention I am supposed to avoid working or sitting outdoors for the next 4 days? I’ll really miss mowing – NOT.

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Speaking of mowing, here are the masks I am supposed to wear while I mow from now on. There’s nothing more fun than looking like a germ freak nut while you mow.

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So, why do I have to wear a mask to mow? Why do allergy medications no longer work here? Why has my white car turned a yellowish-green color?

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Notice that 25 is extremely heavy. We’re at 539!!

That’s all I’ve got for today. Gotta go get some Kleenex now.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday.

I almost titled this entry ‘Manic Monday’ but two things prevented that. First, today wasn’t nearly as insane as I expected it to be. Second, I never liked Bananarama the Bangles.

It was my first day back from vacation and though there was even more non-stop work than usual, I must have really rested up for the last week because there was no frustration or fist-waving at the computer screen. Not sure how long this new inner peace will last.

Oh, look who is coming back to television..
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The TBS thing is sort of a surprise but I find myself watching the TBS reruns more than I would think. And, there is no room on the Big 4 networks for another late night show. Who cares that it is basic cable? Being on the big 4 doesn’t mean what it did 20 years ago. Conan is such ahead of the curve in reminding us that basic cable has the same reach and a lot more profitability than network television. Give it another 20 years and it will all be an equal playing field.  I just wish I could pay for only the channels I want on cable. Knowing that my money helps keep the junk that fills most of those channels running makes me just about ill. I’d drop the whole thing if I there was a good alternative that let me keep the 20 stations we actually watch out of the 150-something that is part of the AT&T Uverse “Destroy your mind” package.

But, back to Conan – I’m looking forward to seeing what he does on TBS. I don’t normally stay up that late since I start working at 6AM, but I will DVR it.  I think the new show premieres in November. I hope November doesn’t get here too fast. I’ve had about all the winter I can take.

That’s it for Monday. No new Chuck tonight but we do have a new Big Bang Theory. Then it will be time to collapse and wait to see what Tuesday brings.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Music Flashback: Toto - "99" and "Africa"

I love my Sirius/XM 70's on 7. Today, they played a song I have not heard in years. I really don't get the song or what '99' has to do with anything (it supposedly has something to do with the movie THX 1138), but from 1979 - here is "99":


For those of you who don't really remember "99", here is Toto's biggest hit - from 1982, "Africa":

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Allergies and Television

Today was all about trying to not get doped up on the Benadryl. This ended up being a losing battle and I have taken the pills in order to try to not be up all night stuffy. So, I already feel the Benadryl coma setting in.

There is nothing on TV tonight – all reruns. Community was pretty funny. It was a repeat but I had missed part of it. Every thing else since Monday has been repeats. At least Chuck, Hiccups, and Dan For Mayor were funny this week.

Here’s a scene from Dan For Mayor this week. I think I just found my Halloween costume for this year.:

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So, that’s all I’ve got for Thursday. Tomorrow is the final day of vacation and I have no idea what we are going to do. This week flew by way too quick.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why are our young people leaving the church?

Yes, tonight I am going to pause our typical subject matter (honestly, there is typically no subject here – it is basically random and unfortunately unplanned!) in order to address the question above. I attend a small church and lately there have been some “rumblings” concerning ways to improve and grow what is turning into a slowly shrinking congregation. This was one of the topics that came up tonight – “why are our young people leaving the church?”

(If you are turned off by the topic of religion, click here to be redirected immediately to something a bit more mainstream and come back tomorrow when I will probably be writing about my allergies or what I watched on TV.)

The answer to why young people are leaving the church has nothing to do with church. That doesn’t sound right, does it? How could it not have to do with the church?

For starters, we have 168 hours in a week. We spend an average of four of those hours in a church service – either in worship or in classes. The other 164 hours a week is up to us. So, the ministry is church-led for 4 hours each week and parent-led for 164 hours. Let’s take off 8 hours a night for sleep. That leaves us with 100 hours of our self-ministry. What about the kids? Let’s take out 40 for school. That leaves us with 60 – 60 hours to try to teach and model the life we hope our kids will lead.

First, as a parent, how is our 60 hour a week parenting ministry going? I slip up. I probably slip up quite a lot. My kids see me frustrated sometimes. And I get impatient with them sometimes. But, I am doing the best I can and I am getting better about not freaking out and over-reacting when I hear a gigantic crash or have to clean up a gigantic mess. I know that being a father is the number 1 and most important thing in my life. As for church, I attend services regularly and I participate in a service role as much as I can.

Was I always this way? Absolutely not. It took my oldest daughter being born to stop me from drifting. I had excuse after excuse. I came out of college with a degree I did not use. I went from job to job that had no career path. I was a mess. You can throw away years of your life and not get them back. I can count 11 totally wasted years and getting to where I am right now is still something I constantly have to work at. I have no one to blame for this but myself.

Second, we need to eliminate blaming others. We have become a society that is always blaming others. If my kids end up messed up, I should blame the schools or the church or my kids friends, etc. etc. This is a wrong way to think. The responsibility is up to you, as a parent. I feel sorry for the kids I see that are acting like monsters or are having temper tantrums that their parents just ignore or shrug off. If you allow a kid to walk all over you at 8 years old, just wait until they are 18. And, if you are completely unaware of what is bothering them or who their friends are or what music they listen to, are you being an effective parent?

Third, we need to step up and take responsibility and be parents. Nothing annoys me more than when I correct my child and I have someone else pipe in “It’s OK” or “Kids will be kids”. How I parent is up to me. My belief is that those kids that don’t have a consistent expectation will grow into those adults who will always make up excuses in their heads for their behavior. These are the ones that grow into adults who take up all of the supervisors time at work because they can’t be trusted to complete a job on their own.

Does having consistent expectations mean whippings and constant punishment? Absolutely not. We don’t whip – we don’t stand our kids in corners. We treat them with respect and explain exactly why what they do is wrong when they mess up. Yes, there are punishments. Over some things we are a bit more lax and over some things we are a bit more tough.

Finally (and most important), as adults, how is our 100 hours a week personal ministry going? If we think 4 hours at church each week will be the deciding factor in making us or breaking us, then we have a huge deficit in our own faith and we are certainly not doing the work for the 100 hours that is our personal ministry. Church will recharge the battery and even give us a boost when we are down. But, it is our responsibility to have the battery in the first place. If you are not open to the message and have no faith, there is no one who can force this into your life. You have to take the first step. The pressure to do the work is on us. The pressure for your responsibilities should not be misdirected on the preacher or the class teacher or the song leader.

My belief is that you raise your children with a certain belief system. They may chose to go against that upbringing. It happens. But, if you’ve done your job with your 60 hours a week in their lives and you’ve modeled this faith in your own personal 100 hours a week, you’ll have the confidence in the job you’ve done to the point where the question that started this entry is something you won’t have to ask, no matter what the outcome is.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vacation Day 2: Kentucky

Instead of staying here and seeing Hot Tub Time Machine, we left town on a mini road trip that ended up like a real time machine trip and we gave the Facebook/Twitter robbers another chance at some really mismatched furniture and other assorted crap. We had no takers.

We ended up at the alma mater – Western Kentucky University. I took a couple of NCAA game banners I’ve been holding on to for 18 years to the basketball office.

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We reminisced about the good old days as we walked through campus for a bit. The weather was immaculate. It’s days like this that were perfect for skipping classes. Where is that Hot Tub Time Machine when we need it?

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We took in some food at Rafferty’s – which doesn’t seem to have changed at all in 18 years. The food was excellent.

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And, we stopped by the mall and I took some pictures of Bob Saget’s car in the parking lot.

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He likes Fig Newtons.

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The mall is clean and nice but what amazed me is some of the stores have the exact same facade as they did 18 years ago. You want to see Payless or Kirklands or Chik-Fil-A exactly how they looked in the 80’s? Greenwood Mall is your place. Fast Times at Ridgemont High II could film there. It is unbelievable.

So, that was day 2 of the vacation. Tomorrow will be boring compared to the last two days. I need to make a trip to Lowe’s and start getting some projects done around the house.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

TV: My thoughts on “Hiccups” and “Dan for Mayor”

I was a huge Corner Gas fan. If you don’t know about Corner Gas, you can watch all of the episodes on YouTube. (It originated on CTV in Canada and was shown for a time here in the states on WGN.) And, you should, since it is one of the funniest and well-written shows of all-time (at least in my opinion). Check out this part of the Pink Eye episode as a great example.

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Needless to say, I was saddened when the show went off the air last year. They chose to walk away after Season #6 so it would not go stale. (American TV take note! Especially Scrubs!) But, we were promised that it would not be long before we had two new shows with a Corner Gas connection. This month, CTV finally delivered on that promise with Hiccups and Dan for Mayor.

Before I get started, they both have their different strong points and I am also concerned about their longevity for different reasons.

First up, Hiccups is Brent Butt’s show – starring Nancy Robertson.

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He was the creator and lead of Corner Gas and he created and wrote 3 of the 5 episodes of Hiccups shown so far. He also became a cast member and I am reading that that was not originally planned. The lead in Hiccups is Nancy Robertson (Wanda from Corner Gas and real-life wife of Brent). She is hilarious and her character here is not a far stretch from Wanda. The problem is that her character (Millie Upton) is so far over the top sometimes that it makes you cringe “Michael Scott from The Office-style”. Life coach Stan Dirko (played by Brent) has his hands completely full trying to keep her from snapping in public. Even with the cringing, there are scenes that are laugh out loud funny – such as when Millie declares that all milk cartons are “stupid hunk(s) of crap” or when she tries to eat super-spicy hot food just because her agent does (she is a children’s book author). But, in between the laugh out loud funny scenes, I found myself at times sometimes getting bored and distracted – especially when the story focused on the other characters.

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And that is my longevity concern - I don’t have the buy-in with the ensemble characters that I would like to have. They are all “OK” but each of them can get annoying at times. The agent is smug, the head of the publishing company is too stand-offish, the receptionist is an incredible slacker – it’s all “OK”, but the attachment to the characters I think we need for this one to really take off just hasn’t developed yet. I’m going to keep watching as there are flashes of excellence and truly laugh out loud moments. As the five episodes aired so far have progressed, we’ve seen the focus switch around to the other characters and last week was the best so far. Also, how life coach Stan Dirko (who dresses out of the 1980 Sears catalog) landed a beautiful Latina wife will have you scratching your head. Must be “King of Queens syndrome” striking again.

I give it a solid B+ and declare it a work in progress. I hope it lasts and keeps getting better because we need Brent Butt and Nancy Robertson back on TV. Also, I hope to see some Corner Gas alums making guest appearances!

Next up is Dan for Mayor, starring Corner Gas alum Fred Ewanuick.

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Fred Ewanuick played Hank Yarbo on Corner Gas and his character is not a whole lot different. This is a good thing. Also, the co-creators of Dan for Mayor are the people who were the show runners behind Corner Gas – Mark Farrell, Paul Mather, and Kevin White. This is a great thing. I think this is why so many of the strengths and techniques and sight gags of Corner Gas are present in Dan for Mayor. It’s a totally different show and yet extremely familiar right down to the use of the local Essex newspaper as a media outlet that is just as pestering and judgmental as the Dog River Howler was.

Fred Ewanuick plays Dan Phillips as a metropolitan Hank Yarbo -the character is genuine and extremely likable and that’s all a credit to Fred Ewanuick. When his ex informs him that she is engaged, he blurts out to her that he is running for mayor. Instead of backing off of this, he decides he must live up to his word and actually run for mayor.  Where the creators of Dan for Mayor really excel is that the buy in for the characters is there in heaps. The laugh out loud moments don’t come as often (it’s not a slapstick type of show) but you watch the show smiling and you want to know what happens next. My longevity worry is that the premise is going to be a bit hard to sustain and I am concerned that could be the downfall of the show. The show is interesting because we are taking Dan out of his somewhat slacker element each week and we’re watching him mature and handle all sorts of things by just being, well, Dan. Supposedly, the last episode of the season will highlight the election. I’m sure it will be a cliff-hanger but I would think he has to win (thus renaming the show Dan THE Mayor for season 2). So, if he wins – what is next? I guess we’ll have to stay tuned and find out how they can hold on to the spirit and energy of Season 1 if Dan really wins the election (and a renewal by CTV!).

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Another positive is the ensemble cast is very strong – just like the Corner Gas cast was. You’re not annoyed with any of them and a true breakout star is Ben Ayers (below with his new Blu-ray player). I wonder why I have not seen more of him. He is the new fiancĂ© of Dan’s ex, Claire. He is also hilarious. I also love Laurie Murdoch, who is the vice-mayor and bumbling semi arch nemesis of Dan. And, Paul Bates as Dan’s best friend / campaign manager Jeff is a true gem.

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So, you can tell that I really like Dan for Mayor. I think it would be a perfect fit for the empty 8PM Eastern slot on ABC’s Comedy Wednesday. Match it up with The Middle and Modern Family.

I give it an A and hope it finds an American home that will treat it with some respect (unlike what WGN ended up doing to Corner Gas).

That’s that. Have a good Easter. No blog update tomorrow!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Time for another staycation!

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It’s been about 10 and a half months since my last staycation. I have only one major goal on this one – re-staining the deck. Since it appears it might rain Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, this might not happen.


I am hoping to avoid any staycation-ruining disasters. My staycations somehow typically get cursed and ending up being more work than actually being at work. I’ll keep the blog updated with any mishaps. If I drop off for a few days, that might mean that I have gone into hiding from karma.


So, I shall begin this staycation by going to bed early. Good night!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

IUsedToBeBrilliant.com SOLD!!!

Greetings from the new management of IUsedToBeBrilliant.com!! In the coming days, this site will be transformed from the whiny ramblings of a middle aged man on the decline into the world’s premiere destination for news about celebrities and public figures who are seeing their careers on a downhill path.

The new “I Used to Be Brilliant” will be dedicated specifically to those who really used to be brilliant or at least thought they were or had management who temporarily convinced us that they were!

You’ll be able to stop in and read stories of declined credit cards, foreclosed mansions, repossessed luxury sedans, and embarrassing drunken tumbles into ditches!!

Sure, some of our highlighted celebrities might end up being profiled here because they are dead! No worries! Our motto is “When you’re hot, you’re hot and when you’re cold, you’re not!”.

So, be sure to come back in the coming weeks and laugh as all of your one-time favorite people get a heaping taste of what regular people go through everyday!

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