Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Drive In Movie Theater

We go to the movie theater about once a year. Every time we go to the theater, I drop at least $30 on two tickets, a popcorn, and a pop. Ouch. So we limit it to about once a year. Last year was Transformers. This year was Iron Man.

But we still manage to see most first-run movies when they come out. But not at the theater. And not on bootleg DVDs. We go to the Drive In. And we love it.

The Swap Shop Drive In, Ft. Lauderdale, has 14 screens all showing first run movies. The tickets are $6 each. When we moved down here in 2001, the tickets were $3 each. We bring our own food: popcorn, candy, drinks (usually a cooler of "beverages"), and something for dinner - Papa Johns, Taco Bell, or Publix Subs. If we forget anything, they've got about 5 on-site concession stands and golf carts driving around with more concessions.

Did I mention that we usually see two and even sometimes three movies in one night? Such an extravaganza at the traditional movie theater would cost me upwards of $75.

We had our last vehicle, a Ford Ranger, modified to better suit our drive-in experience. We had the fixed rear window replaced with a sliding rear window. Our current vehicle selection was largely driven by our frequency for going to the drive-in. We bought a Ford Sport Trac because the entire rear window goes down automatically. When we go to the drive-in, we sit in the bed of the truck and line it with cushions, comforters, and pillows. It couldn't be more comfortable.

Another great aspect of the Drive-In is that you can see other screens while you are watching the movie at hand. This is a great way to get a sense of whether or not another movie might be worthwhile. Also, sometimes we'll watch a portion of a movie and decide that it sucks and switch to another movie.

Last week, we watched Wall*E, about an hour of Love Guru (it sucked), and Dark Knight. Next week, we hope to pair up Step Brothers with The Rocker. And two weeks after that, we hope to pair up Pineapple Express with Tropic Thunder. I will admit that I have high hopes for both Thunder and Express - they both look equally funny.

Monday, July 28, 2008

So-called "Watchdogs" are not immune....

Apprising Ministries has crashed and burned. Or at least crashed. Ken, the blog's author, wrote a scathing piece on author Richard Abane in 2005 that Abane thought was slanderous. So, Richard contacted Ken's ISP and asked them to remove it from their servers. Ken's ISP looked at the article, and told Ken he'd have to remove that one post, or else they would take his site down completely. Ken, ever the martyr, decided to leave it up; and thus, lost his whole site.

Let this be a warning to those who would confuse self-righteous watchdoggery with slander and libel.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

South Florida Living

Yesterday, I fell asleep in my swimming pool. On the raft of course. My wife has our pool heater turned up to about 95 degrees and when the air started to cool down around 6 pm it became the perfect combination. Of course, it didn't hurt that I had the television on in the background or that I had just finished a Pina Colada.

Sometimes I get the feeling that most South Floridians don't really take advantage of the weather the way that they should. More specifically, I feel that they don't really take advantage of owning a swimming pool. Or even having access to a pool.

We grew up in Michigan. Most people didn't own a pool, and if they did, it was a small 4 foot deep above ground pool. Also, the weather in Michigan only permitted you to swim in that pool between June and August.

I'm glad that we're getting our money's worth out of living in South Florida and owning a pool. I probably take a dip in my pool at least 5 times a week - year round. As a matter of fact, maybe that's why I'm behind on my household chores lately. Maybe I'm spending too much time drinking frozen drinks in the pool. Ah well, at least my wife isn't complaining. She's usually in the pool with me, shirking responsibility, and enjoying life to its fullest.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Have I said anything about politics yet? I don't think I have. It's weird because I read Newsweek every Tuesday and it is filled with politics. Yet none of it really sinks in for me.

In the past, I've always been a one-issue voter: abortion. This year may be different. I am beginning to give up hope that my vote will actually make a difference on this issue. As much as the abortion statistics make me somewhat nauseous, I may just table the issue this fall and see where I am led.

First off, I am not going to vote for McCain. He is too old and I am unashamedly biased against old people making decisions for me. I don't know about Obama. I like him. But then again, I like George W. and Bill Clinton too. I think that they were both equally entertaining. If I had to guess, I'd say that it is unlikely that I'll vote for Obama. Unless Hillary is his Veep, and I'll be forced to vote for him by my wife.

Maybe I'll vote libertarian. Or maybe I'll write in Jesus or Scooby Doo.

Most of you probably care more about politics than someone as apathetic as myself. Here is your chance to influence my vote. Give me your two cents. If you don't, I'll assume that you are as apathetic as I am.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Money Pit

We've lived in our house for three years now. We've seen it change in value from $280k to $380k and back down to $280k. In three years, I've managed to avoid having to hire a professional to do anything to our house. I've handled all the repairs myself, so far.

Lately, the list of things that I need to fix in our house has been piling up. To the point of seriously considering hiring someone to do something. Anything.

  • I still need to fix the roof leak that started on July 4, 2007. I've "fixed it" three times already, but I think I may need to hire a professional finally.
  • I still need to install the section of fence that my neighbor ripped out last December.
  • I need to replace our washer, which is now hemorrhaging water onto the floor every time we do a load of laundry.
  • I need to fix the drainage on our back porch which doesn't drain properly during a hard rain - which happens every afternoon in South Florida during the summer.
  • I need to fix a couple of broken tiles in our kitchen.

This month, we gave in and hired a professional on two separate occasions:

  • Hired a guy to come and fix the broken pool pump at a hefty $200. A reminder of why I do everything myself.
  • My wife hired a lawn maintenance company to trim our 12 foot hedges as an anniversary present to me this month. $60 saved me from 3 hours of blood, sweat, and tears.

I suppose, through all of this, I am building character. Or at least following in my dad's footsteps. Last year, when he passed away, we discovered that he had been replacing the support beams in the crawlspace of his house. My 52 year old 6'5" father had been spending his weekends by himself in the crawlspace jacking up the house and replacing the 8 foot long support beams. A last testament to my father's willingness to work hard and save money. Something that I had learned long ago while working on the car and fixing up the house with him.

I am trying hard not to give in and pay someone else to do something that I myself am fully capable of doing or at least capable of learning to do. I call it my Michigan work ethic. Because I live in a culture in South Florida where people pay other people to clean their house, wash their car, do their yard work, their laundry, and just about anything else they can think of.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Walt Disney World

1000 apologies to those of you who could care less about seeing these pictures - I totally understand and sympathize. But I do have some family-types that might enjoy the slideshow.

Being residents of South Florida, we've managed to make our way up to Orlando at least once a year. So we couldn't resist the idea of going to Disney World with our nieces.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Watering Hole

It took us three years, but we've finally found a decent local watering hole close to our home. Sure, we'll go to places like Chili's, Fridays, the Quarterdeck, and the Ale House. But on a Friday night, these places are crowded, noisy, and most importantly - impersonal.

There are a few dive bars near us, but they usually fall into one of three pitfalls which make them unworthy watering holes:

  1. They allow smoking indoors - most establishments in Florida do not allow smoking and we have become happily accustomed to that luxury. This is a definite deal breaker.

  2. Their food isn't very good. I like bowling alley french fries as much as the next guy, but there has to be some good food on the menu for it to be a regular part of our lifestyle.

  3. They have no drink specials on Friday and Saturday nights. I realize that I am cheap, but I refuse to pay $6.00 for a beer just because its Friday night. This is what brings us to the Ale House and Chili's more than anything else - drink specials all day every day.

This weekend, we finally found a place that was a perfect fit for us. It is called Lefty's Tavern and it is located at Hiatus Rd. and State Road 84. Lefty's is somewhat larger than I expected, and also more family friendly than I expected. They actually have an arcade/game room. But here are the reasons that we had an awesome time at Lefty's last Friday night:

  1. Our bartender was that perfect blend of kindness and white trash - you may think that is a derogatory term, but in this case, it isn't. She even gave me a few bucks to get the jukebox started - to which we added a few more.

  2. They had a digital jukebox. For the uninitiated, these jukeboxes have a boatload of songs on them, and you can download more songs to the jukebox if you like. When I walk into a place like this, I kind of like to dominate the musical arrangement for the next two hours - Kid Rock, Saigon Kick, Warrant, Slaughter, Notorious BIG, JayZ, House of Pain, Prince, Primus, Violent Femmes, Ice Cube, Whitesnake, White Zombie, Metallica, Lynard Skynard - you see where I'm going with this?

  3. The menu was huge and the food was the bomb! I had a Cajun chicken Philly with seasoned fries - some of you know that this is the staple of my restaurant diet. My wife had a sandwich called the Soprano (the theme of the restaurant/bar is modern gangsters) that was chicken, fresh mozzarella, on focaccia bread - equally awesome. And her brother had sweet potato french fries with marshmallow sauce - I've never heard of such a thing.

  4. They had Buzztime/NTN Trivia. We played trivia on the t.v.'s for a bit, but then we switched over to playing No Limit Texas Hold Em. At which point I proceeded to clean out everyone in the bar with my unmatched poker skills. I do believe I ranked third highest take for the month for South Florida.

  5. Drink specials - all day, every day. Smart.

We had such a good time at Lefty's that it was all we could do to keep from going back there the very next night.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Office Pranks: Jim vs. Dwight

Here is the second reason that we love The Office:

Monday, July 7, 2008

That's what she said....

It has taken us four years, but it has finally happened. WE LOVE THE OFFICE.

Here is reason number 1:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Nathan's Hot Dog Contest

It is the Superbowl of the Graff household. It is, quite possibly, the only time that we actually turn the television to ESPN. It is televised every July 4th at 1 pm on ESPN. It is the Major League of Competitive Eating's Nathan's Hot Dog Contest. It has taken place annually since 1917. In recent years, the event has been dominated by Takeru Kobayashi from Japan. Last year, an American, Joey Chestnut beat Kobayashi.

For the record, the Graff household roots for Kobayashi. Chestnut just doesn't have his charisma.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rambo: Coolest Movie Ever

Why didn't anyone tell me about the new Rambo movie? How did I hear nothing about it? That was the most gruesome, bloody movie I've ever seen. And I mean that in a good way.

Stallone, also the writer and director, said that he submitted his director's cut to the MPAA expecting an NC-17 rating for the violence and they rated it R because of it's realistic depiction of the ongoing violence in Burma.

I would like to thank you Sly, for a movie that I will most definitely have to watch again.

Also, you've brought my expectations for blood and gore to a new level.

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