Hollywood Video is the Mafia

This is my conversation that I just had with the high school kid working at Hollywood video, as best as I can remember it.

Kid: Phone number please?

Me: [Murray's phone number]

Kid: Murray Terreno di Amore?

Me: Yes.

Kid: Cicada Terreno di Amore?

Me: Yes.

Kid: This shows you have a late fee. Would you like to pay that now?

Me: Yes. [Pause] But what if I said no? How many times am I allowed to say no?

Kid: Uh... technically they don't tell us that. And actually, even when someone's account comes up as "DO NOT RENT TO THIS PERSON" we still rent to them. So basically we'll rent to you no matter what.

Me: Hmm. I'll pay the fee.

Kid: [Rings me up for my movies and my late fee.] Would you like to buy damage protection on these movies for 25 cents each?

Me: No.

Kid: It means that if they come back damaged, you don't have to pay to replace them.

Me: I don't want to pay it.

Kid: Okay. What would you say if I just charge you 50 cents damage protection for all three movies?

Me: Not gonna pay it. I mean, what, it's 20 bucks if I damage the movie? I just have to pay 20 bucks to replace it?

Kid: Yeah, so wouldn't you rather pay 50 cents to protect yourself than 20 bucks?

Me: I don't want to buy the protection. Boy, they sure do tell you to do this, though, don't they?

Kid: Yeah. We have to do it. They keep track. And if I don't meet my weekly quota, I could lose my job.

Me: You're kidding.

Kid: Well, I wouldn't lose my job because my boss is really nice and he wouldn't do that. But his boss really gets on his back, and he could lose his job if we aren't meeting our quotas.

Me: Well, if it helps you meet your quota, then I'll pay the 50 cents.

Kid: No, no. That's okay. I'm not going to charge you for it.

Me: I mean, how can they prove it anyway? How can they prove that I damaged the movie?

Kid: If it's damaged, they'll bring up the name of the last person who rented it.

Me: I'd say, "It didn't work that well for me, either, but I was able to get past the rough parts."

Kid: They'd make you pay anyway. It's a horrible company.

[With my powers of negotiation, they wouldn't. But I didn't go into that.]

Me: What's your name:

Kid: William. [Name changed for protection.]

Me: William, next time I come in, I'm going to buy the protection, only to help you reach your quota and keep your job.

Kid: That's really nice of you. In fact, it's so nice of you that I'm going to ring you up for a free movie, and in my own way I can stick it to the company.

Me: You stick it to them. And thank you. That's really nice.

So basically, William will be my go-to guy at Hollywood from now on. Until he loses his job that is, because people get wise to the whole "Hollywood would like to offer you its protection" scam.


So when I was in high school, I went through this big "retarded" phase. It was my word for everything. That's retarded. You're retarded. I'm retarded. You get it. At a certain point, I decided that this could be offensive to some people, and I really needed to stop saying it. Specifically, there was a girl in my class who had a brother with Down's Syndrome, and I heard that she was offended by the use of the word retarded like that.

So while I was really actively trying to weed the expression out of my vocabulary, this classmate offered me a ride downtown after school since both of us were headed that way. I accepted, and my inner dialog went like this: Don't say retarded. Don't say retarded.

Then I realized that she wasn't driving; her dad was driving, and her brother was in the car. Then my inner dialog went like this: Don'tsayretarded.Don'tsayretarded.Don'tsayretarded.

As we approached the car, a girl passed by us and my classmate said, "I think she's really pretty."

Not knowing if she was being serious or not, I asked, "Are you being retarded?"

Then there was this really long, awkward pause because 1) I had just said retarded and 2) it didn't even make sense in context of our conversation.

And it seemed like forever before I was able to say,

". . . I mean . . . sarcastic?"

She said no, and then pretty much the whole rest of the ride downtown was awkward.

(Uh... The End. For some reason I was thinking about that story again today. There's no real point to it except that sometimes what we're thinking comes out of our mouths just because we're trying hard not to say it.)


As long as I'm making recommendations, I have to put in a word for my favorite jeans store, Vanity. If I got only two things out of my roommateship with Brozy, one would be El Azteca (she introduced me to their nachos) and the other would be jeans from Vanity. (Note: El Azteca makes it harder to fit into jeans from Vanity.)

Vanity is a little trashy store. It's even more trashy because I usually go to the one in the Valley Fair Mall. So trashy, trashy, trashy. BUT every Vanity, no matter where it's located, has a huge selection of jeans. And they often have lots and lots of jeans on sale. Their off-sale price averages at about $40. Their on-sale price is typically from $10-$20.

And this is the MOST IMPORTANT PART: Vanity offers a variety of LENGTHS for every pair of their jeans. I have awful, short legs. This means that finding pants is really hard for me. But at Vanity, I can choose the length that works for me. I have friends (Ambrosia) with long legs. Once I even borrowed a pair of Ambrosia's jeans, and even with high heels on, there was probably about 5 extra inches of pant leg. (I borrowed them only for as long as it took to try them on, laugh at the ridiculous length, and find a pair of my own pants.) The lengths range from, I think, 29-35. That's a pretty big range in my opinion.

And yes, Vanity is a trashy store, but I really think that most of their jeans are cute and unique. And I get lots of compliments on them by non-trashy people. And so I highly recommend the store, with only two warnings: 1) Sometimes their stretchy jeans are just way too stretchy, so I try to be picky, and 2) Most of their jeans are extremely low-rise and you think that they're going to fall off your butt, and they will unless you're wearing a belt. So wear a belt. But seriously, buy Vanity jeans.

(Notice my office is looking slightly more sparse? Have I mentioned I'm leaving my job? Sob!)

Bajio, Costa Vida, Cafe Rio

Today I was really craving Costa Vida. It's close to work. And my lunch-default friend, TOWR, inconsiderately made other plans for lunch today. So I had to go alone. I thought I'd beat the lunch rush, but instead managed to get there right at the busiest time. Luckily, I had my bookclub book with me. I hate my bookclub book this month, but I'm reading it anyway, so that I can give an informed opinion when we meet this month. It's just awkward that I was reading the first racy scene I've encountered in the novel when my boss's boss's boss's boss said hello to me and took a moment to chat. I'm really glad that he didn't ask me what I was reading, because I would have had to tell him it was absolute crap. Want proof?

She looked at him intently, perhaps trying to decide how rude his comment had been. There was steel in her blue eyes, steel so cold that it chilled you.

Need I say more? The book is a steaming pile of crap, crap so steaming that it gets into your nostrils and smells like steaming crap.

Anyway. That's all SO off topic. What I wanted to discuss were three restaurants: Bajio, Costa Vida, and Cafe Rio.

Of these three restaurants, Bajio is my favorite. Some people don't understand that you don't order your normal fare at Bajio. If you want a burrito, go to one of the other two. Here are my top three recommendations for Bajio. There's basically no other reason to go.
1) The shrimp tacos. With sweet rice. The shrimp is cooked in honey butter and topped with mango salsa. As you eat them, let the sweet juices drip into the rice. Then eat the rice. It's divine.
2) The green chili chicken quesadilla. Sooooo good.
3) If you're watching what you eat, try the green chili chicken salad. However, unlike salads from most of these places, it doesn't come with rice or beans, so it can be much less filling than the other burrito bar salads.

Costa Vida:
This is my second-favorite restaurant of the three, but it's probably pretty closely tied with Cafe Rio. I think that both restaurants are pretty similar, actually. My recommendations:
1) The sweet pork enchiladas with mango. That is what I am eating RIGHT NOW. It's basically like a meat dessert.
2) The chicken salad with the cilantro vinaigrette. Pretty typical, but pretty good.

Since I imagine most of you are most familiar with Cafe Rio, I won't really put my favorites or anything. I just kindof get what I'm feeling in the mood for there, but I am never really wowed, and I never really crave it.

I'd love to hear about your favorites, though.

It's a girl!

Don't get too excited. We're still a long ways off from finding out the sex of our child. But for various reasons, we suspect the child will be a girl. (I'd go into the studies that say female sperm are stronger and therefore if you have sex a few days before ovulation, you're more likely to have a girl, and male sperm are faster, so if you have sex during ovulation, you're more likely to have a boy, but you probably don't want to think about all that nitty gritty in regards to me and Murray.)

But there is new evidence that we'll be having a girl. Murray's coworker's wife claims that this Chinese birth calendar has been true for everyone she knows. Has it been true for you? Read the instructions carefully.

(By the way, the baby is due a couple weeks after my birthday... so I guess if it comes early, we're having a boy!)

(NOTE: If this Chinese birth calendar works, then the Chinese people could more easily avoid having baby girls... so I'm saying it probably is not too accurate.)

Vantage Point

A bit of advice I received for my pregnancy was to go out to the movies as much as possible with Murray. I think that both Murray and I (and especially Murray) really intend to take this advice to the fullest extent possible. Last night, in honor of Jimmy Stewart's 100th birthday, we went to see You Can't Take It With You at BYU. It was great. Definitely a great, classic, feel-good movie. A masterpiece.

On Saturday evening, we went to see a movie that is not actually a masterpiece. We went to see Vantage Point in the dollar theater. We could have seen the new Narnia movie. I wasn't looking forward to the crowds. We could have seen Baby Mama. I was in the mood for action. So we went to see Vantage Point. I thought that it looked good from the previews---just a brainless little action flick.

Brainless is a good way to describe the writers... This movie got so ridiculous that I actually started laughing out loud uncontrollably at very inappropriate moments. (Coincidentally, the last time this happened was in another Dennis Quaid flick, The Day After Tomorrow.)

(Vantage Point: A thrilling tale of terrorist plots, betrayal, and compact car chases.)

In case you didn't know, the movie follows the "vantage point" of several different characters. So you see the first 23 minutes of the film. Then it rewinds itself back to the beginning (conveniently, you also see everything you just saw in rewind) and you begin again from the vantage point of someone else. Each vantage point gives you further insight into what happened. My favorite vantage point was the final vantage point. Up until the last vantage point, each had focused on one individual. The last vantage point is "ethnic minority terrorists" where you get the vantage points of every non-white person involved in the terrorist plot. Nice.

Other nice things:

Sigourney Weaver being in the movie in a pretty minor and forgotten role.

Matthew Fox, after being revealed as a bad guy, saying "Now I no longer have to live my double-life!" I think they included this so that you know that he was bad all along. This was so ridiculous and so comical in fact, that Murray and I still haven't stopped repeating this line to each other.

The Spanish terrorists speaking Spanish to each other. Then English. Then Spanish. Then sending English text messages. Then speaking Spanish. Then speaking English. You get the idea.

A phone that controls a window fan (the terrorist simply clicked "window fan" on his phone's menu to turn on a fan set by a window to create a diversion), that controls a sniper rifle (the terrorist simply went to sniper rifle mode at which point his phone turned into the sight of the rifle in perfect high-def picture, and then killed the fake president of the United States), but that can't set off bombs. No, they needed a token suicide bomber to do that. Everyone knows that it can't be a terrorist movie if there isn't at least one suicide bomber willing to die for his cause.

Did I already mention "Now I no longer have to live my double life!" because, Bwahahahahahaha!

After the terrorists have killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, they finally have successfully kidnapped the not-fake president, they're driving him away to their secret terrorist headquarters in an ambulance, and a little girl (who's been seen in every vantage point) steps out into the road in front of the ambulance. Everything goes into slow motion, and the terrorist driver, instead of killing one more insignificant person, tries to avoid crashing into the girl (and by the way, we're panning over everyone's face in slow-mo right now, which might be contributing to my maniacal laughter), and crashes the ambulance instead, leaving his co-terrorist dead, himself almost-dead, and the not-fake president alive and bruised.

There are probably so many other things that I'm forgetting right now. Like Forrest Whittaker getting a phone call from his estranged wife at the very end of the movie, asking if he's okay, and you know that they're going to get back together, and even though Forrest Whittaker has witnessed terrible death and destruction all day long, and his life has been in danger several times, he laughs in wonderful relief, which is what signals to the audience that everything is okay now. But you know what? It's not okay! Forrest Whittaker just witnessed enough death and destruction to put him in therapy for the rest of his life. He's not going to be laughing it all off with his estranged wife on the phone, I don't care how happy he is that she's calling him.

Anyway. I definitely recommend this movie. For a really, really good laugh.

Happy May Run!

This weekend, back in my homeland of Timmins, this is the May Run weekend. It's not May Run in many other places, really. It's very distinct to Timmins. Most of the rest of Canada celebrates this holiday as Victoria Day weekend. But to Timmins and to me, it will always be May Run.

Or, if you will, it is also sometimes referred to as May Two-Four. What does two-four refer to? Why, that's a 24-case of beer, of course. And what does beer have to do with Victoria Day weekend? If you're in Timmins, the answer is everything.

May Run is the weekend where you go out and camp in the bush (forest) with your friends and get drunk. Teen pregnancy and drunk driving accidents skyrocket during this weekend.

Back when I was in high school, I was chosen along with a classmate to write and present a skit about teen pregnancy and spend a day presenting it from classroom to classroom. It was moving, I'm telling you. I awkwardly sat beside this pimply boy and told him that I was pregnant. When he said, "But I thought you said you were on the pill," I said, "I only told you that because I thought you wouldn't want me otherwise." Then I broke down crying. I'm sure that we convinced pretty much everyone not to have sex that weekend. That's how good we were.

In fact, it was all pretty much like this scene from Freaks and Geeks. Please watch it, and remember: drink responsibly, don't drink and drive, and don't have unprotected sex.

Baby Naps

So all my pregnancy books say that during your first trimester, you have no energy. I don't know if this is just power of suggestion for me, but I'm certainly finding it to be true. On days when I don't have to work, I average about two naps. Today I only had one, but I also had a lot of collapsing in front of the television.

By the way, we've been watching Planet Earth, which we bought for the kids because we're really great parents that way. And we'll enjoy it in the meantime.

What else did we buy for the baby? Well, so far, we've bought this:

(a mobile for over the crib---this was Murray's gift to me for Mother's Day along with some maternity jeans)

(Murray is an artist as you all know, but you have to know that he's also passionate about other artists and art history. So we couldn't resist buying these books...)

(You've already seen Leland the Lion. We actually bought him before we knew that we were expecting a baby.)

(These are two rattles. Daltongirl is going to knit me lots more.)

(We didn't buy this, but an investigator from my mission gave it to me. We'll hang it up as room decor until the little one is big enough to fit it.)

(I couldn't resist this rolling toy from Ikea. It opens its mouth as you pull it along.)

(And finally, this is more for me and Murray. It's a print of Brian Kershisnik's The Nativity, which we saw on our second date. We don't want a completely secular home, but we're also pretty picky about art. We want the art in our home to reflect our tastes and our values. This piece has sentimental value, and is also really visually appealing to us. Yay!)

Resume time again.

We're going through resumes at work right now. While I won't say anything specific about the resumes that I have seen in the last little while, I would like to share some general guidelines with you for preparing your resume and cover letters. I also wish that I could email some of these people individually and give them pointers...

  • One page. No, seriously. Apparently in the last couple months, someone sent out a memo to the world announcing that it's okay to have resumes that are over one page. This is not true if you are applying for an entry-level position. And no one wants to read through pages and pages of resume. I am definitely okay with references being on a separate page, but please try to keep all the rest to one page. (I know that there are exceptions to this if you have about 50 years of experience and you're applying to be the CEO of a major company.)
  • Keep it relevant. You need to send out a different resume to pretty much every job you apply for. Read the job requirements and tailor your resume accordingly. I honestly don't care about your horseback riding skills. Not one bit.
  • I don't care about your GPA either. I'm just saying. (That's personal though.)
  • I don't care what you did in high school.
  • Edit, edit, edit. And then give it to a friend to edit. This especially applies if your aplying for an editter position.
  • Save your sense of humor for the job interview. Leave it out of your resume. (Unless you're applying to be a comedian, then have at it.)
  • Save your interests and your hopes and dreams and your personal life philosophy for the interview. Or don't, because it actually helps the employer weed you out before you even get to the interview and waste his/her time.
  • If you're including on your resume that you were an AP on your mission, consider the fact that the people reading your resume may very well have loathed the majority of their APs. And that then they'll make fun of you before tossing your resume in the trash in honor of every one of those loathed APs.
  • Make sure you have the correct spelling for the name of the company you're applying to.
  • EMAIL ADDRESS. I've said this before, I'll say it again. Have a professional email address. And have an email address from a respectable company. I use gmail, and it works great. I won't mention any names, but some other email providers include ads at the bottom of your emails. Do you really want your email to your potential future employer to have an ad for weight loss at the bottom of it? I'm not kidding. This is a real example: "Burn fat. Finally, a diet plan that works." At the bottom of someone's cover letter. I wouldn't toss a resume out for something like that, but I would wonder why the person hasn't clued in that sometimes you need to be a little more professional.
There are lots of other pointers I could give you. I might even have to do another post on this, but this should get you by in the meantime.

Sewers Needed Immediately!

A while ago when I was living with El Senor, I was out driving one evening. I just needed to be out of the house (I'd been sick for a couple days and cooped up inside). I started driving to Target but realized that if I went to Target, I'd spend money. I also realized that my friend Sidsel lived on the way to Target, and it would be much more fun and economical to go and pay her a visit. So I did, and she introduced me to my destiny.

She had an Amy Butler pattern for a nappy bag (diaper bag) and although neither of us needed a diaper bag, we both loved the pattern. So we decided to make it together that weekend. (And the finished product led me to get into the work that I'm currently doing, and the work that I would like to continue doing, so thanks, Sidsel!) Of course, once we counted up all the money we had to spend on fabric and supplies (and all the money that I have subsequently spent on Amy Butler products) I certainly wouldn't say that I saved money by visiting Sidsel that day...

Neither Sidsel nor I was an avid seamstress, but we both enjoyed sewing, and we found that it was much easier and much more entertaining to work on the project together. We each had our own sewing machine and we each would take turns reading the directions for what was next. In fact, we thought it was so funny that one of us would pull ahead and take the lead, then get behind and let the other person pull ahead and take the lead, and that it was much like geese flying in formation, where the lead switches out every now and then. We even started calling each other "goose."

Well, due to her selfish nature, Sidsel moved to Ohio for her husband's med school, which has left me without a sewing goose.

In June, Murray and I are going to Texas, and while I'm excited for the new experience, I'm not excited for the heat. I've decided that the only way I'll survive is by wearing lightweight cotton skirts, so I need to make at least two before I go. Does anyone want to be my sewing goose? I have Amy Butler's Barcelona Skirts patterns. We could even go fabric shopping together if you like! Here's the details:

1) You need your own sewing machine. I would like to do this at my house, but if you write a good enough essay, I might be convinced to take my sewing machine over to your house.

2) We'll need to do this on a Saturday or Wednesday by June 7th.

3) You don't have to be the same size as me. My mom told me how I can cut multiple sizes out of the same pattern.

I also would like to make these lounge pants for when I start working from home (after my trip to Texas). I don't have Amy Butler's pattern, but I could get it by buying her In Stitches book. If you don't want to do skirts but do want to do pajama pants, let me know and we'll arrange a sewing date.

In case you don't know.

By about the sixth grade, people were teasing me about my leg hair. Not that it was worse than your average sixth-grader's leg hair, but all the other sixth-graders were allowed to shave their legs. I had to wait till junior high. It didn't help that one of the worse teasers was El Senor. He even pointed out a couple of "two-inchers" one day. After that, I took a pair of scissors to my legs and tried to shear them without actually breaking my mother's no-shaving rule. It really didn't help much. And I couldn't disobey my mother, because who else would actually teach me how to shave my legs? It's not like I could just do it without a tutorial.

Near the end of the summer, though, I'd had it and I was definitely ready to defy my mother and shave my legs. I couldn't wait another month. And my mom was out of town for a week anyway. So when I was at a friend's house, I asked her how to shave legs. She just handed me a pink lady Bic and told me how. So, sitting on her bed, I shaved my legs for the first time.

Because I didn't mention water, soap, or shaving cream, you're probably cringing right now. And rightly so. I couldn't believe that that sort of pain and discomfort was what women had to go through to look beautiful. My legs turned a bright shade of red and were on fire for hours. And yet, I was still oddly a little proud of my graduation into womanhood.

I've come a long way in the leg shaving department, and what surprises me is that there are still women out there who are using disposable lady Bics to shave their legs! Switchback was one of these women until she came to stay with us for a few days in March. Because I've gone to Switchback's apartment in San Diego for two years running to play on the beach and go to Mexico, and during those minivacations I've used her shower, I couldn't help but notice the lady Bics scattered all over the tub. This didn't make much sense to me at all. How could a grown woman who lived in a beach town and went to the beach on an almost-daily basis not know that there was something better out there?

I believe that it was Nemesis who first introduced me to that Something Better, back in 2000. She announced to all the women at work that if you weren't yet using a Venus razor, you had never truly experienced a proper leg shaving. That, and you'd never go back. And she was absolutely right. To make matters better, Venus keeps improving their razor, so today, they offer a five-blade razor. Venus's five-blade razor is up on my list of life's necessities along with true love and chocolate.

When Switchback visited in March, I lent her my Venus razor just to try it out. She emerged from the bathroom and made a spontaneous testimonial about the whole new shaving experience she enjoyed. (Later, the Easter Bunny brought Switchback her very own Venus razor.)

For all you women who are still using lady Bics, I urge, implore, beg you to go out and buy yourself a Venus razor. It's worth every penny.

This post was not sponsored by Gillette. But I wish it were.

How Bazaar, How Bazaar

I am not a perfect person by any means. And so Murray must forgive me if I actually know all the words to How Bizarre by OMC. It was the '90s, for heaven's sakes. I can't be held responsible for the songs I used to like. (I might be held responsible because technically, I still like the song...)

Anyway, I wanted to let everyone know (as if you haven't heard already) that the Beehive Bazaar is going on this weekend. And Murray and I have a lot of goods on display. This picture isn't the best because you have to actually go to the Bazaar to see how cool it actually is.


Murray and I are creative people. We're always creating. We really support creative endeavors, too. In fact, I might even say that we are pro-creating. Even when we're not planning on being creative, it just . . . happens. We can't help it.

Yep, it's true. Well, I mean, not entirely. I stole this ultrasound from Stanclax. Our baby (just one that we know of) is currently only about this big:

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But it's also supposed to double in size this week, so if you're not reading this post in a timely manner, it might already be this big:

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It's early to be telling people, I know. And I would have kept it a secret a little longer, only I told one of my carpoolers why I was leaving our carpool (I don't know how my body's going to behave over the next little while and I don't want to be stranded at work when I should really go home and barf and sleep). And then I went to a work baby shower on Friday and this carpooler's boss made my announcement for me to every single woman in my department. So really, what's the point of keeping it in any longer?

And now, before I leave you to your congratulating of me, I have to say that I've been surprised by the number of people who have cited miscarriage statistics to me when they found out that I'm pregnant. As if I didn't start worrying about miscarriage the moment I found out that some serious cell division was taking place in my uterus. Why do people find it necessary? Is it going to prepare me more? Was I not already aware of the statistics? I may point out that statistically speaking, one is more than twice as likely to get a divorce as one is to have a miscarriage. But you won't find me, next time a friend announces her marriage to me, telling her, "Congratulations! Now, just so that you know, often times, the first one doesn't stick."

I'm bound to thank you for it.

On Friday night, Murray and I celebrated our one-year anniversary of our first date. Today, I'd like to thank everyone involved in getting us together. I won't go so far as to thank our parents for giving birth to us, or their parents for giving birth to them and so on and so forth, but I would like to express my gratitude for those on my side of things who helped to bring us together.

1) The BYU admissions committee for admitting me.
2) My biggest brother, for dating a girl with the initials KK.
3) KK for recommending me for a job at BYU Independent Study.
4) Stanclax for hiring me at Independent Study, where I could meet Daltongirl, Nemesis, and Sakhmet (Sakhmet only very briefly---she interviewed me for the position and then quit by the time I started, but believe me, she is integral to the way my life has turned out).
5) Nemesis for inviting me into her inner circle of friends and causing me to be in almost daily email contact with Daltongirl and Sakhmet.
6) Ambrosia for convincing me to start a blog.
7) Nemesis for encouraging me to actually write posts on my blog.
8) The most annoying girl I've ever met whose name I can't remember but who I hated in my design class who announced that you could buy the Adobe Creative Suite at the BYU Bookstore for $200. (Obviously this was a few years ago.)
9) The illustrators at IS for getting me interested in Illustrator and teaching me how to use it so that I could redesign my blog in a really appealing way.
10) Sakhmet for putting me in touch with her friend Heather to do some freelance editing.
11) Heather, for linking me on her blog a couple years later. Also, for blogging about something that matched Murray's search term when he was playing around on the Internet one night. (Murray clicked the link she had to my blog and the rest is history...)

Aaaaaaand finally....

12) Al Gore. For inventing the Internet.