Wednesday, May 30, 2007

3WW #38

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) random words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same three words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

"What are you drinking?"

Skip was sitting on the steps in the shallow end of the pool. He finished his current sip before answering, "Doctor Thunder."

"Where'd you get that?" Zach inquired from the opposite end of the pool, anchoring himself there with one arm holding onto the diving board.

"There's a machine out there," Skip said as he nodded towards the building which housed the restrooms and dressing rooms.

"Go get me one," Zach responded.

It was Zach's momentary stroke of genius that had led us here. We had been standing around his truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot, trying to think of something to do, someway to prolong the night. He suggested we could sneak into the city pool.

I'm not exactly sure at what point in the evening certain ideas stop sounding completely insane and begin to seem entirely reasonable and normal, but it does exist. And we had passed that point. So after a token objection by Brian, always the voice of timidity, here we were.

I cannot speak for anyone else present that evening, but it was my first and, to this point, only time skinny-dipping. Looking back now, it seems quite odd. But at the time, it was either swim in my faded maroon briefs or become one with the chlorinated water.

We all opted for the latter. It was dark. We were young. So we swam, talked about anything and mostly nothing at all, and just hung out.

As Skip climbed out of the water to go to the drink machine, the catcalls and the barbs flew.

"My eyes! Make it stop!"

"Cover yourself with something. Good heavens!"

"The water's not that cold!"

Skip disappeared around the side of the building. Brian, who appeared to be taking full advantage of our illegal activity to work vigorously on his backstroke, called from across the pool, "Hey, J, do you think I should shave my legs for swim team?"

"Dude, I don't know," I replied. I was by the rope separating the shallow end from the deep end, my arms up on the side of the pool. Zach was in the deep end to my left. Brian had been swimming laps across from me. He stopped.

"Well, Coach Bishop says I should."

"Then do it," I encouraged, hoping to end the conversation.

"Would you shave yours?"

"Um, no." No way, no how, not ever.

"Then why are you telling me to?"

"I don't know, man. I'm really not comfortable talking about this right now."

Brian opted for a second opinion and began swimming towards the diving board.

"Zach, do you think I should shave my legs?"

As Brian invaded his personal space, Zach leaned back trying to avoid any accidental contact and waved his hands as if shooing a fly.

"Dude, get back!" Zach chided.

"Swim away, tiny stroker, swim away!" I added.

Our antics were interrupted by a car slowing down and then turning into the parking lot.

"Get down!" I yelled.

The good thing about the city pool is that it's located on a little traveled road, with no houses or apartments nearby. The bad thing about it is that it's surrounded by only a chain link fence.

I saw Skip start around the corner of the building. He stopped and retreated when he saw the headlights. The rest of us hid against the side of the pool nearest the road, keeping our heads just above the water, but below the edge of the wall.

The headlights shone across the pool, reflecting brightly off the slide and the fence on the other side. All I could picture was the four of us being led single-file to a police car, covering ourselves with our hands.

There is some undefined amazing something about a summer night. Something intoxicating. Something that causes you to leave your inhibitions behind, and do something stupid.

"Hold me closer tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway..."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Winds of the past

Sunday was Decoration Day at the cemetery where most of my mother's family are buried. It is located two dirt roads off the nearest paved road, set on the tiniest of hills amongst a grove of trees and encompassed entirely by a chain link fence. It is surrounded on all sides by open fields, with no houses or other structures within at least a quarter-mile.

When the birds are singing and the wind rustles thru the trees, it is one of the most peaceful places I know. It's a haunting, chilling, yet calming wind, as if the past is speaking.

Three of my uncles, one aunt, two grandparents, and two great-grandparents lie there. Along with distant cousins, great aunts and uncles, and other relatives, many I don't remember or never met.

Decoration is a day set aside each year for families and loved ones to come and place flowers and other memorials on the gravesites of the departed. It is most often held on a Saturday or Sunday in May or early June. The specifics vary from cemetery to cemetery.

Some cemeteries have a memorial service and a speaker on Decoration Day. Some even serve dinner afterward. Others have a more informal gathering of family and friends. Some churches also hold special Decoration services.

Many cemeteries hold a cleanup day a week or so before Decoration. Volunteers come to mow, rake, landscape, and clean the grounds, and often remove old flowers from the graves.

I remember one of my uncles going every year to mow the grass, weed the graves, and put mulch or rocks around them. Now, he lies there, too. And younger uncles have taken over that responsibility.

Everytime I vist, I can't believe how long it has been since my grandmother passed. A little over fifteen years now. In my mind, I'm reaching out to grab it, but it just keeps getting further and further away.

There are graves that seem to have been untouched, and I imagine unvisited, for many years. That always pulls at my heart. And I wonder about them. Did they not live just the same, were they not just as valuable as all these others?

I wonder if my loved ones will ever wind up like that. As generations pass on and on and on, are we all eventually forgotten?

Thousands of dollars are spent each year on Decoration Day, as many of the gravesites are renewed with beautiful flowers and colorful arrangements. But Decoration is not just about flowers to me. It's about family. It's about remembering those who have passed, and reminding myself where I came from.

I see people at Decoration I don't see any other time of the year. Sunday, I saw my 82-year-old great uncle who I haven't seen in probably three or four years. He was standing next to my mother. She's about 5 feet tall, and he looked to be three or four inches shorter than her.

He was hobbling around with a walking stick. He has a bad hip and a bad this and a bad that. He's very hard of hearing, and doesn't recognize as many faces as he used to. But every year, he buys flowers and decorates the graves of his mother, his brother, and his sister's three infant children.

That's Decoration Day.

It's part of my heritage and it's part of me. A part I don't want to let go of. Sometimes it feels like my generation--my sister and I, my first cousins, and their children--is letting go. Like we're losing something valuable. Something that cannot be reclaimed.

As I was leaving Sunday, creeping down the dry, dusty road, I took one last look at the little cemetery on the hill. So colorful. So quiet and peaceful. The little grove of trees providing shade. The winds of the past continuing to blow, beckoning...

"Some days the sky's so blue, I feel like I can talk to you. And I know it might sound crazy..."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

How I Roll: All that's gold doesn't glitter

(This is part three in a series.)

After driving a 1984 Ford Escort with louvers, one might think that, vehicle-wise, there was nowhere to go but up.

One would be wrong.

Enter the gold 1985 Chevy Cavalier. Yes, I said gold.

To this day, why anyone would purchase a gold vehicle eludes me. The only possible reason I've ever been given is that gold cars don't show dirt as much.

I've seen a lot of car commercials in my time. They talk about horsepower and miles per gallon, and safety ratings, and towing capacity. I don't ever recall a single commercial including the line "it also comes in gold, which doesn't show dirt."

I mean, do we really want to start basing our buying decisions in this country on this principle? If that's the case, why not have women wear rust-colored wedding dresses? But I digress.

So there I am, age seventeen, cruising around in a gold, four-door 1985 Cavalier. Oh yes, it was a four-door. Convenient when you're starting a family. Not so much when you're a senior in high school and trying to get girls to date you.

There are places in this world--Luxembourg, the highlands of Iceland, and some tribes in Malaysia, to name a few--where if you send your child to school driving a four-door gold-colored car, they will arrest you and take your children away. And that's how it should be everywhere. No amount of therapy can ever erase those scars.

The Cavalier was my second and final hand-me-down. As a general rule, if anyone gives you a car, it's probably not going to be a top of the line high-performance vehicle. That's why in the classifieds, you'll see ads for things like a 1976 Vega that doesn't run for $200. People are still trying to get something for it.

Still, I had high hopes at first. The Cavalier had been my Mom's car, so I figured it had to be better than what I'd been driving.

It was not loaded. As a matter of fact, I would say it was the opposite of loaded, whatever that would be called. Manual locks, manual windows, no cruise control, no cassette player, etc.

It was also a four-cylinder, or at least at some point during its existence had been. By the time I finished driving it, I think it was closer to two-and-a-half or three cylinders.

I got my first taste of the Cavalier's power, or lack thereof, just a couple of weeks after I began driving it. After a party one night, two girls who had left about the same time as me, pulled up beside me as if they wanted to race. So I floored it.

We were even for a few seconds. Then the Cavalier topped out... at 78 miles per hour. There I was, pedal to the metal, watching two girls in my senior class leaving me behind. They slowed down and when we got to the next red light, they were laughing. I was not.

I continued to drive the Cavalier--but did not race it anymore--most of my freshman year in college, where I commuted about 50 minutes one way. One spring day on my way home from school, the car started smoking, and sputtering worse than normal. I stopped and called Dad from a payphone. He came and followed me home, slowly. And I did not drive the Cavalier much longer after that.

"I parked my car beside the highway and I didn't lock the doors. Left a note there with the keys. If it cranks, well friend, she's yours..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

3WW #37

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) random words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same three words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

Crystal laid on top of the covers still wearing her shoes, not wanting her feet to touch the filthy carpet. The room was surprisingly dark. She had not bothered to turn on a single light, nor had she opened the gawdy curtains. For a brief second, she had thought it would be nice to have such heavy curtains at home, as they served to block out nearly all the afternoon light.

Crystal realized she had barely noticed the familiar musty stench that permeated the air. A combination of tobacco and mildew if she had to guess. And who knows what else. She thought it a bit sad that the smell which once nearly sickened her now had no effect at all.

She hated this place and had complained about it more than once. But Greg always argued that it was near his office. A matter of convenience, he had said. And since he paid for the room, and paid for her car, she couldn't argue much.

But lately Crystal had felt like she was only a matter of convenience. She showed up at his beck and call, wore what he wanted her to wear, and even doused herself with the awful cheap perfume he liked. He only managed to see her now once a week. And it had been months since there had been any mention of their future.

It had not always been that way. Or maybe it had, but not in her mind. He showered her with gifts, and paid for her car. He was her prince charming. Except she never recalled prince charming being married. But Lori was horrible to him, unbearable, constantly nagging, and never in the mood. Or so he said.

Crystal had never been married, but Greg promised her someday. And she had held on to someday for nearly two years. There was always an excuse. Then Lori became pregnant, which complicated things. And then Lori miscarried, which complicated them more. Greg couldn't possibly leave then.

Her phone rang. It was him, probably calling to say he was going to be late, again. Crystal considered not answering, then did.


"Lori's leaving me."


"She filed for divorce today."

"What? Why?" Crystal had waited for this day for a long time. Now that it was finally here, she wasn't sure how to feel, much less what to say.

"I'll explain everything when I get there. I just really need to see you," his voice was cracking. "I'm ten minutes away."


Ten minutes later, Greg inserted his key card into the slot and pushed down on the cold handle. He opened the door to an empty room, but for the scent of cheap perfume.

"I'll hate myself for coming here again. Where the streets are paved with misery, and lives are built on lies. A place they call the broken promise land..."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

24 Recap: 5/21/07

Whoever found my blog searching for Ricky Shroder shirtless, well, I'm sending a CTU field team after you.

Recapping the two-hour season finale, also known as Day Six: 4:00 AM - 6:00 PM...

Ricky takes Josh by chopper to a nice spot on the beach, as directed by Jack's father. Ricky assures Josh he won't let anything happen to him. Then appears to staple a tracking device into Josh's arm. Don't worry, we do this to every person we're about to trade to some sociopath for a piece of circuitry.

Meanwhile, Jack is in custody, being transported back to CTU. He gets on the phone and warns Karen that Jack's father has no intention of giving up the sub-circuit board (SCB) for Josh, and that she must stop the exchange. Karen tells Tom about the call, saying of Jack, "He's been more right than we have today." Now that you mention it! Tom says he will "look the other way" if Karen decides to do something. She calls Bill.

"What do you want me to do?" Bill asks.
"Whatever it takes," Karen replies. This dialogue was written by Mrs. Cooper's second grade class at Beverly Hills Elementary School. They won a contest. Actually, scratch that. I don't want to insult the second graders.

At la Casa Blanca, Daniels calls the Russian President to apologize. Hey, Yuri, you know that little we-already-destroyed-the-sub-circuit-board hoax we tried to pull over on you? April Fools! So whattya say we just let cold wars be bygones? Suvarov says he will continue towards military action unless the SCB is destroyed.

At CTU, Chloe continually looks like she's about to pass out. Nadia gets a call from Karen telling her she needs to be able to track the vehicle carrying Jack. A short while later, an oncoming car forces the SUV carrying Jack off the road. It's Bill! Jack and Bill subdue the two CTU agents and take off for the beach in Bill's truck.

At the beach, two men approach in a speedboat. One of them is Walid! Oh wait. Nevermind. It was hard to tell in the wetsuit. They come ashore. Ricky asks to see the SCB. When he opens the box, it explodes, knocking him down and bloodying his face. Jack and Bill arrive as the men take Josh onto the boat.

At some point, a man wanders into CTU. It turns out to be Milo's brother, Stuart, come to get Milo's body. Stuart tells Nadia that Milo talked about her a lot, then asks how he died. Nadia tells him Milo died a hero, saving her life. Then Stuart disappears, never to be heard from again. And THIS is a perfect microcosm of the entire season.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program of saving the world Josh from terrorists Jack's father.

Back at la Casa Blanca, Karen gets an "access denied" message on her computer. She knows she's been caught and calls Bill to thank him for his help. Then two men come to take her away.

Jack calls CTU to get help for Ricky. He tells Nadia he wants the location of every oil rig within a ten mile radius. Meanwhile, Chloe finally passes out, right in front of Morris' workstation.

End hour one...

Out at Decommissioned Oil Rig 417-B, Josh arrives. Cheng tells Jack's father a submarine will be there in thirty minutes to take them to China.

At CTU, Chloe is in Medical undergoing tests. Nadia finds a decommissioned oil platform owned by Jack's father's company six miles off the coast of Los Angeles.

When la Casa Blanca learns of the new information, one of Daniels' advisers recommends an air strike on the oil rig. Daniels orders in the F-18's. They will hit the rig in 30 mintues.

On the beach, Ricky is loaded into an ambulance. Jack tells Nadia the trauma team said Ricky will be blind in one eye, if not both. Nadia informs Jack of the air strike and orders him and Bill to return to CTU.

Jack eyes the chopper. Bill tells him to not even think about it.

Bill: "Look I realize he's your nephew-"
Jack: "I'm not gonna do something because he's my nephew. I'm gonna do something because he's an innocent kid who's been written off as some sort of acceptable loss. It's wrong."
Bill: "I'll fly." Apparently, being able to fly a helicopter is a prerequisite for working at CTU.

From the chopper, Jack calls CTU to ask for their satellite uplink. Nadia is hesitant, but Bill massages her verbally with, "This is the right thing to do."

At Rig 417-B, Cheng tells Jack's father a helicopter is approaching. De plane! De plane! Jack's father takes Josh and heads for the boat.

While the chopper hovers, Jack takes out of a couple of men on the rig, allowing Bill to land. Jack is also blowing up barrels left and right. Cheng gets knocked down by one of the exploding barrels. Bill apprehends Cheng and leads him to the chopper. Jack goes to look for Josh.

Down below, as Jack's father is untying the boat from the... thingy, Josh hits him over the head with an over-sized wrench, then grabs his gun and points it at him. Jack's father tells Josh to give him the gun. Josh explains, "As long as you're alive, me and my Mom will never be safe." Then, Josh shoots him!

Jack's father is wounded but not dead yet. Jack appears at the top of the stairs and orders Josh to lower his weapon, offering this nugget of wisdom: "You do not want to live with the pain of taking another person's life." Umm, Jack? Eh, nevermind.

With four minutes to go until the F-18's arrive, Jack orders Josh to go to the chopper. Jack holds a gun on his father, telling him he's going to pay for everything he's done today. Jack's father says Jack doesn't have time to carry
him to the chopper before the F-18's arrive.

With only two minutes until the airstrike, Jack heads upstairs, leaving his father to die on the rig. Even though there's a boat like five feet away. Bill takes off without Jack, with Josh yelling, "You can't leave my uncle!"

Bill swings by and Jack jumps from the rig, grabbing onto the rope hanging from the chopper just as the F-18's strike, sending the oil rig up in flames. It's only 5:36? The "Josh, I am your father" line has GOT to be coming!

As they fly towards shore, Jack lets go of the rope and drops in to the ocean below!

The end.

Relax, I'm only kidding. Although actually, that would have been a more suspenseful ending than what we had.

The last half hour is spent tying up a few of the many loose ends. When word comes in that the SCB was destroyed, Suvarov orders the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops. Tom convinces Daniels to let Karen go and resign with her reputation intact. He then gives Daniels the blackmail recording he was holding of Daniels and Lisa. I wondered what was going to happen with that. Oh right, nothing!

At CTU, Chloe tells Morris she's pregnant. Maybe they should rename the show A Baby Story and switch to TLC. Bill and Josh arrive with Cheng, who says, "My people will not abandon me like you abandoned Jack Bauer." Josh is reunited with his mother. Nadia asks about Jack. Bill tells her to let him go.

Cut to the Heller beach house. William Devane is just getting off the phone when Jack walks in. Jack says he wants his life back, including Audrey. Heller says Audrey will always be in danger if she's with Jack.

Jack demands to see Audrey. Heller leads him to her room. Audrey is lying in bed, apparently asleep. Jack tells her the best way for him to protect her is to let her go. Audrey never opens her eyes or says a word. Jack kisses her forehead then leaves.

The episode ends with Jack standing at the edge of a cliff, looking down at the swirling waters far below.

The good:
Jack and Bill teaming up and raiding the oil rig. It was nice to have them in the chopper. A little old school 24, if only for a few moments.

Josh shooting his grandfather. That was pretty cool.

The bad:
The anti-climatic last half hour. Snooze. It was almost as if the writers weren't sure if this were a season-finale or a series-finale, so they tied up a bunch of things quickly and clumsily, just in case.

The threat of a Russian military strike against a US base in Central Asia never

Very little classic Chloe, both tonight and all season. Helping Jack techno-geek Chloe: good. Pregant fainting Chloe: bad.

No cliffhangers for next year. (Yes, I'm aware I griped about the cliffhanger last season.) But really, what are we supposed to be looking forward to? Will Ricky be blind? Is Morris Chloe's baby daddy? Will Jack decide to plunge to his death, never knowing Josh was his son?

Worst quote:
"The component was fake. It blew." Oh, it blew alright. Wait, was he talking about the component, this episode, or the entire season?

Did you know...
April Fools Day was originally observed on March 31st.

In summary...
Overall, this season was a disappointment, even for the most avid 24 fans. There was far less action, less suspense, and fewer shockers than previous years. It's almost like they blew their wad in the first four hours.

There were too many broken storylines. And the practice of bringing back old characters for an episode or two for seemingly no reason whatsoever just added to the mediocrity of this season.

So we leave season six with President Palmer and Lisa unconscious, Ricky possibly blind, and having not heard in weeks from Sandra Palmer, Walid, Aaron Pierce, Martha Logan, Charles Logan, and on and on.

24 became one of the best on television by keeping viewers on the edge of their seats for sixty minutes each and every week. And while this season had its moments, it fell far short of that standard that had been set by the previous five.

"I can see a new horizon underneath the blazing sky. I'll be where the eagle's flying higher and higher..."

Monday, May 21, 2007


I survived my second-ever 10K race Saturday. The weather was perfect. Cool temperatures, a little inspiration, and a high-carb pasta dinner the night before all added up to a perfect storm, if you will, allowing me to shave more than seven minutes off my time from last year.

I've spent the past two days ingesting Tylenol and apologizing to my quads. My new low-impact, low-to-the-ground running style is tough on the thighs. Still, I was nowhere near as sore as I was after last year's race. It's amazing what a little training will do.

Now for you numerologists out there. (You know who you are.) My time of 52:45 was 7 minutes and 14 seconds faster than last year's. What time did I post my blog entry Friday in which I mentioned the race? 7:14. Coincidence? There are no coincidences. Only a carefully planned string of days and events leading to our eventual demise.

Anyway, back to the less important stuff. I finished 104th out of 192 participants this year. And much like last year when I came in 152nd, there are no awards for 104th place, either. No "Most Improved From Last Year" trophy. No "34-Year-Old With The Best Taut Pre-Teen Swedish Boy Body" statuette. No "Top Finishing Bloggers" category. (Although I really think there should be one for that. Maybe I'll mention it.)

As I mentioned Friday, I had loosely set a goal of running a 9 minute mile pace. When I reached the one mile mark Saturday, the timecheck guy called out 9:05. I thought to myself, I've got to pick it up a bit. I also thought, people actually run that in four minutes?!?! Geesh!

Almost to the two-mile mark, I came up on a fellow bandana-wearing runner. I surpassed him while thinking, So long Navy Bandana Guy. White Bandana rules! I reached the two-mile timecheck in 17:53. I had picked up the pace! (And by pace, I don't mean salsa.)

As a race goes on, I begin to look for other runners who seem to be close to my pace. It's sort of like if you're on a long trip, you find a car that seems to be traveling at a good speed to follow on the interstate. Or maybe it's not like that at all.

Nevertheless, between miles two and three, I spotted Green Shirt Hottie. Her ponytail swished back and forth with each stride she took. It was a bit hypnotic. She was probably thirty yards ahead of me, which meant she was running under a 9 minute pace. And she seemed to be passing several people, so I decided to speed up a bit and keep up with her.

I reached the three-mile mark in 26-something and the four-mile mark in 35-something. Still on a sub-nine minute pace. My side started acting like it wanted to cramp, but I pressed on, and it went away.

Shortly after the four-mile mark, I blew by some man who looked to be at least seventy-five. You've had your day, old timer. Harry Truman can't save you now. White Bandana rules! Let's not even get into the fact that he was ahead of me up until this point.

With about half a mile to go, I felt good, all things considered. So I began to pick up my pace and passed several people, including Green Shirt Hottie. Farewell, fair maiden. And shall our paths never cross again, vaya con dios.

The race finishes on an oval track. When I got my first glimpse of the clock, it was at 51-something. I was pleasantly surprised. My time averaged out to an 8:30 pace.

I ran into a friend after the race. This conversation ensued:
"I didn't get here in time to see you finish, but my Dad said he saw you."
"Oh really."
"Yeah, he said Bone's got a handkerchief on his head."

See? I told ya. White Bandana rules!

The two-hour 24 season finale is tonight, which I know makes many of you happy, albeit perhaps for different reasons.

"Oh how I hope that you're happy. I hear you're somewhere in the sand. And how I wish I was an ocean. Maybe then, I'd get to see you again..."

Friday, May 18, 2007

Nashville now and then

My mom, my sister, and I journeyed up to Nashville last weekend for Mother's Day. It was my idea to take Mom to Centennial Park and ride these little paddle boats around the lake there. We did that one time when I was probably eleven or twelve, and I thought it would make for a nice surprise.

There was but one small problem. They don't have the paddle boats anymore. So instead we walked around the trail, which was peppered with duck droppings. Apparently, the ducks often make it a special point to get out of the water to defecate. Although now that I think about it, I guess it could have been from the pigeons. I'm not really qualified to differentiate between the two.

Mom and I did get a sno-cone. I got blue raspberry, mainly because I knew it would turn my teeth, lips, and tongue blue, which would slightly annoy my sister. Yes, I'm thirty-four. Mom got cherry (and you wonder where I get it from). She seemed to genuinely enjoy herself and be pleasantly surprised by the trip to the park, even though they didn't have the boats.

As we sat by the lake for a bit, I was hit with some sort of time-warpish realization, thinking how twenty years or so of my life had disappeared since the last time I was at this very place. Those are always fun moments. If I were on prescription medication, I would have popped a couple of pills right about then.

When we were driving around earlier looking for the park, I received a text message, from my sister in the backseat. It read, "Mom cannot drive." Mom used to drive dangerously fast. But not so much anymore. So when we left the park, I volunteered to drive the rest of the way.

We had dinner at Cock of the Walk, where we ate our fill of delicious fried catfish fillets and chicken tenders, hush puppies, cornbread, river fries, turnip greens, white beans, cole slaw, and onions. Washed down with some of the best sweet tea I've ever tasted. And I've sampled my fair share of sweet tea.

Nashville truly is one of my favorite cities. So many of the streets are familiar--Broadway, West End Avenue, Demonbreun, Thompson Lane. And of course, I always become nostalgiac thinking about or driving past the former location of Opryland. I've often thought of moving there. To Nashville, not Opryland. Although if that were possible...

It was a good day. My sister texting and calling me from the backseat. Mom freaking out each time I deftly and quickly maneuvered across four lanes of traffic. The times when just the three of us get to take a trip like that are rare anymore. I try and cherish them. It's always good to visit Nashville every now and then.


Tomorrow, I'm running a 10K. I ran six miles Monday sort of as a simulation for the race. At least, according to the website, it's six miles. But I did it in about 48 minutes, which makes me think it's not quite that far.

I ran eight laps. The website says the track is three-quarters of a mile. But, I think it might actually be closer to two-thirds, because one time I took my pedo out there and that's what it registered. If that's the case, I still ran 5 1/3 miles.

I feel much more prepared than I did last year, when I had barely trained at all. I'm not sure where to set my goal for this year's race. I'd like to run a 55:00, which would be around a nine-minute mile and about five minutes faster than last year. Mainly I just want to finish without tearing, pulling, spraining, or breaking anything.

"They paved paradise and put up a parking lot, with a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot..."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

3 Word Wednesday XXXVI

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) random words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same three words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

To gain some perspective about and an appreciation for Samantha Henry, one needs to know a couple of things. She could hit a baseball farther than any girl or boy in the ninth grade at Overton High. A couple of guys may have surpassed her by tenth grade, but no one was sure. You probably could have gotten even money either way.

She played baseball on boys teams all thru little league and only switched to fast-pitch softball so she would have a chance of getting a scholarship. All the boys called her Sam and she never minded much.

I had been in exactly three what I would consider to be real fights in school. Two were basically draws, the most memorable of those being when Jerry Terry slapped me in the face like a girl. The other I lost, to Samantha Henry, in fourth grade.

I still remember the momentary inability to breathe as my stomach smacked against the playground dirt. A few of the kids laughed about it the following day until Sam threatened to beat up the next person she heard making fun of me.

Kids change a lot those early and middle teenage years, boys not nearly so drastically as girls. Sam seemed to struggle with these changes more than most. As other girls began to wear makeup and jewelry, more girly clothes and do more girly things, Sam--the proverbial tomboy--continued to wear jeans and t-shirts, little if any makeup and never any jewelry.

While her friends began going on dates and having real boyfriends, guys seemed oblivious to Sam. She was, in their minds, just one of the guys. The longer this went on, the more it began to bother Sam. She wouldn't go to school dances, and skipped the homecoming game that year.

Then there was the morning Sam came to school, barely recognizable, in black pants and a frilly blouse. She wore earrings and a necklace, more makeup than normal, and had her chestnut hair curled. I'd never seen it anything but straight. She didn't look bad, at all, just different.

It took everyone a moment to recognize her. As she walked down the sophomore hall looking straight ahead, students seemed to part like the waters of the Red Sea. I'll never get that image out of my mind. The farther she walked, the louder the buzz grew. A few snickers could be heard. Then Billy Applewhite spoke up.

"Sam? What happened to you?" he asked as if he still weren't sure it was really her.

In that instant, everything and everybody seemed to come to a standstill. The hall was deathly quiet. Sam stopped on a dime and turned in the direction the voice came from. Locating Billy, she glared at him.

"Don't call me that. My name is Samantha," she spoke in a measured, slightly threatening tone. I'm not sure if she was gritting her teeth or if I just imagined she was. That should have been enough. But Billy in all his infinite wisdom wouldn't let it go.

"What did you do to your hair? It looks... stupid!" he spoke as if he were talking to his little brother.

Clearly Billy was lacking in manners, not to mention good sense. That was not the sort of thing you say to any girl, but especially not to Samantha Henry. To make a short story shorter, Samantha beat the living daylights out of Billy. They both got sent home from school early that day.

I never saw Samantha wear any jewelry or curl her hair again until our senior prom. I was honored to be her date, and very careful not to call her Sam.

"I was the quarterback in the back of classes. She was the whiz kid in horn rimmed glasses..."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

24 Recap: 5/14/07

OK, next week is the two-hour season finale! Which means this week is, uh, the pre-finale?

Recapping Day Six: 3:00 AM - 4:00 AM...

With CTU still under siege, a couple of the Chinese take Josh away. B3 (Billy Bob Brosnan) backhands Nadia as she tries to intervene. Was I the only one to yell "Booyah!" or other comparable expression of delight here?

As all CTU employees are being led to a holding cell, Jack plans an impromptu attack. He breaks out of line and takes out a guard, then shoots a couple of others. Even Morris gets in on the action, putting a sleeper hold on one guy. Who knew Morris had a background in the WWF! Seriously, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake would be proud.

Finally Jack chokes B3 then breaks his neck for good measure. Ricky arrives on the scene just in time to take out one guy who is about to shoot Nadia. To recap, Nadia is the reason Milo is dead. Jack, Ricky, and a field team take off down the tunnel after Josh.

Josh is brought to Cheng's Perpetually Moving Headquarters (CPMHQ). Jack's father calls and talks to Josh:

"I'm taking you away from this ungrateful country. Some place we can both start over."
"Where?" Tahiti? Bora Bora? I hear Kazakhstan's nice this time of year.
"China." Oooh, close! China: Land of Confucius, human rights, and Yao Ming.

As Cheng and his men are leaving to deliver Josh to Jack's father, Jack pops out of the tunnel and begins firing. He shatters the window of one of the cars, causing it to swerve and hit a pole. A chase on foot ensues.

Cheng leads Josh up some stairs to the rooftop. Josh breaks away from Cheng and runs onto a catwalk. To clarify, we're not talking Right Said Fred here. We're talking a narrow, elevated passageway between two buildings.

Jack catches up to Cheng, who has run out of bullets. Josh, who is hanging on for his life beneath the catwalk, yells for help. Jack rescues Josh, but Cheng escapes. Josh informs Jack that he talked to his grandfather.

Cheng calls Jack's father to tell him he lost Josh. Jack's father says no deal on the component. Oh, I get it. So Cheng is the banker. Jack's father is the contestant. Who is Howie Mandel? Morris? And where are the twenty-five hotties?

Outside the Family Inn, Tom is watching in agony as Lisa and Bishop fornicate. When they're done, Lisa goes to freshen up. Although personally, I think that's a lost cause. Bishop picks up her PDA, then gets a suspcious look on his face. He confronts Lisa. She breaks open a bottle of wine, literally, over his head. Bishop backhands her. Tom orders the federal agents to move in. They apprehend Bishop as he is choking Lisa.

At CTU, a man identifying himself as Ben Kram from Division tells Nadia he's been sent over to investigate what went wrong during the security breach. Well, Nadia was in charge, for starters.

Tom calls to tell Daniels that he got Bishop to send the fake information to his Russian contact saying that the U.S. had destroyed the sub-circuit board. He also informs Daniels that Lisa was injured and is unconscious. Daniels is upset. You don't hold hands with someone and then get over them just like that. I don't care how they treat you.

Daniels and Karen go into the Telepresence Suite and raise Russian President Suvarov on the horn. Daniels tells Suvarov that the sub-circuit board has been destroyed. But Suvarov calls his bluff, saying he had surveillance set up on Bishop, so he knows exactly what went down.

Suvarov says if the U.S. hasn't recovered the sub-circuit board within two hours, the Russians will take military action. Daniels remarks to Karen, "We're about to go to war over a piece of circuitry." Exactly! Now do you see why it's so hard for us to get excited over this season? Whatever happened to suitcase nukes, nerve gas, and Chloe? Ah, the good ol' days.

On his way back to the White House, Tom gets a call from Jack's father. You know, because Tom's in his five. He asks to speak to the Vice President. Jack's father tells Daniels he wants his grandson and clear passage to the country of his choice in exchange for the sub-circuit board.

Again, deal or no deal? Karen says no deal, calling Jack's father a sociopath who can't be trusted. But Tom says it's a risk worth taking.

Out at the location formerly known as Cheng's Perpetually Moving Headquarters, Jack calls Marilyn and lets her talk to Josh. Then as he is leading Josh to a car which will take him to CTU, an agent tells Jack he has a call.

When Jack goes to take the call, Ricky grabs Josh and leads him to a waiting helicopter. Josh is yelling, "Uncle Jack!" Can you imagine if Jack Bauer was your uncle? Trouble with that bully at school? Just tell Uncle Jack. Suddenly, the bully just stops showing up for class. Calls are made to his house, but his parents don't answer either. Jack tries to get to Josh, but is restrained by several CTU agents. Ricky and Josh board the helicopter.

The good:
Morris putting one of the Chinese in a sleeper hold.

Nadia and Lisa getting backhanded, at different times and by different men.

More action this week. Still, at the end, I pictured Jack running and latching on to the helicopter skids as it took off. That would have been slightly more exciting, don't you think?

The bad:
The episode was too predictable. There were no surprises, except for maybe Jack's father calling Tom and making the offer to the Vice President.

Virtually no Chloe, again.

Best quote:
"And... finally. We're done."

Said by Tom, as he watches Lisa and Bishop finish up their business. Based on the circumstances and the way he said it, I found this to be one of the funniest 24 lines ever.

Did you know...
In 1986, Brutus Beefcake and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine lost the WWF Tag Team Title to the British Bulldogs at Wrestlemania 2.

Despite saving the country at least four times today, Jack will have to break out of Holding and/or go against the oval office to save the day one more time.

In a touching season-ending scene, wearing a Darth Vader Mask/Voice Changer, Jack confesses to a frightened Josh, "Josh, I am your father."

Is Ben Kram legit? I mean, he got from Division, wherever that is, to CTU in like an hour from the time the breach occurred, at 3:30 in the morning. Not to mention the suspicion of bringing a new character in the next to last week of the season. Hmm...

Why in the world does Nadia have such a huge role this season, while Chloe has been virtually just part of the scenery in several episodes?

Why was Cheng so averse to having casualties at CTU?

"Yeah, on the catwalk, on the catwalk. Yeah, I shake my little tush on the catwalk..."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mine games

I was perusing my last several posts earlier today and realized I don't really do a lot of posts about my current life anymore. Most everything seems to either be a 24 recap, a piece of 3WW fiction, or a story from the past. I figure I can remedy that with a random post that's all over the proverbial map.

The problem with my car did turn out to be the catalytic converter. The guy at the exhaust place was nice enough to tell me the catalytic converter was covered under warranty up to 80,000 miles. My car has 70-something-thousand miles on it. So even though I vowed to never take my car to the dealership again, I made an exception in this case, since it was free.

At work, the walking carcinogen I so fondly refer to as Smokestack is still requiring me to use copious amounts of Lysol. I've also discovered that in addition to spreading lung disease, Smokestack is a notoriously poor speller. This is only compounded by his affinity for leaving post-it notes lying around.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed he'd left a note for Big Sweaty on which he had spelled dairy, d-e-r-r-y. A couple of days later the secretary came in and told me he had spelled Wednesday, w-e-n-s-d-a-y, on his time sheet.

But the capper had to be when I came across a note he'd left for himself. It read:

"Thursday 8:45 AM - Meeting of the mines"

So now anytime Smokestack is talking to anyone, the running joke around the office is that they must be having a "meeting of the mines."

Do you ever feel like you're living that monkey commercial?

On the bright side, I already know what I'm getting him for Christmas: Hooked on Spelling! That is, if I haven't contracted emphysema by then.

"Smoking in the boys room. Teacher don't you fill me up with your rules. Everybody knows that smoking ain't allowed in school..."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

3WW #35

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) random words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. I'll also attempt to write something using the same three words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

A twin-bell alarm clock sounded at 4:30 AM, but Jared was already wide awake. He slid both legs over the edge of the bed far as they would go, then hopped down to the floor, fully dressed. He had gotten up and put his clothes on sometime in the night, just in case he overslept.

Normally, Jared hated nothing worse than leaving the cozy warmth of his bed, but this particular morning it was no problem. He wasn't real sure if he had slept at all, as he had been looking forward to this day as long as he could remember. He ran into the kitchen to retrieve the lunch his Mom had packed the night before, then returned to his room.

A few minutes later, he followed his Dad out to the car, short legs running almost faster than they could to keep up. The car ride was mostly quiet. It was the first time Jared could remember being awake and outside before sunrise. He spent most of the drive looking out the window.

By the time they reached their destination, the first sliver of sun could be seen coming over the horizon. Single-file, they walked towards the pier, both donning bucket caps, although Jared's kept falling down over his eyes. He carried his lunch box with his left hand and his fishing rod in his other, propped against his right shoulder, carefully mimicking his Dad.

At the pier, his Dad gave him a few instructions and baited Jared's hook. Then the two fishermen sat down side by side, several feet apart, and cast in their lines. His legs dangling above the water, Jared would look over wide-eyed every once and again at his Dad to make sure he was doing everything right. The anticipation of the day exceeded only by the reality of it.

"Just me and you, doing what I've always wanted to. I'm the luckiest boy alive. This is the best day of my life..."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

24 Recap: 5/7/07

Sunday was Pablo's second birthday. At least, it marked two years since I brought him home from that great Betta haven known as Wal-Mart. I'm thrilled to say my little pal is eating again everyday and seems to be doing fine.

OK, here's what we know... Last week may very well have been the worst episode of 24 ever. Nevertheless, with my OCD, nothing short of Keanu Reeves himself joining CTU will stop me from finishing out the season. Besides, with only three weeks remaining, things have got to get better... right?

Recapping Day Six: 2:00 AM - 3:00 AM...

Nadia, who is becoming more incompetent by the second, informs Jack that Heller has filed a restraining order to keep him away from Audrey. Jack asks Nadia to let him go so that he can help try and find Cheng, but she refuses. You know, because keeping Jack in Holding makes the show sooo much more exciting. Nadia returns to the main CTU floor thingy and sends out a field team led by Ricky.

At Cheng's Perpetually Moving Headquarters (CPMHQ), Cheng is planning an attack, although we're not told where. And everyone is speaking in Chinese, with English subtitles! This is like a Jackie Chan movie, except without the action and the witty black guy.

At CTU's Extended Stay lounge, Marilyn and Josh--aka JoshLyn--are kicking back watching news coverage of the nuclear explosion. 12,000 are dead. Josh is angry his father was involved, and says he wishes he was never a part of this sick family. Uh, yeah, good luck finding help with that one in the parenting handbooks.

Chloe comes in and tells Marilyn that Audrey is still alive. OK, we found this out, what, four hours ago? You're just now telling Marilyn? Oh that's right, they forgot to write Marilyn into the show for the past six weeks. Oops! Marilyn goes to check on Jack and tells him she will be there for him when all this is over.

At the White House, Tom tells Lisa they've uploaded fake information to her PDA that will make it look like the sub-circuit board was destroyed. They want Lisa to go see her Russian spy boytoy at the Family Inn, then find an excuse to leave the room so that he will snoop thru her PDA. Lisa calls to set up another meeting.

CTU teams arrive at Bloomfield, but there is no sign of Cheng. We see Cheng at CPMHQ, telling his #1 guy--who looks kinda like a cross between a young Billy Bob Thornton and Pierce Brosnan--that the objective is not to cause casualties, but to "obtain the package." Cheng's men drop thru a hole in the floor into a sewage line--where they are immediately attacked by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Turtle Power! I'm only kidding. Sorry, just trying to create some excitement.

Cheng radioes directions to his men which he says should put them directly beneath CTU! Finally! A plot twist I actually halfway care about.

At the Family Inn--trapped in a storyline that is going nowhere yet won't seem to end--Tom and a couple other men wait and listen in a van across the street while Lisa goes inside. She tells Bishop she needs to go freshen up, but he wants her now. She lies back on the bed and takes off her shirt. I wonder who's going to get voted off Idol this week. I gotta go with LaKisha. She screams too much. I mean, I scream, too. But only in my sleep.

'Neath CTU, Cheng's men prepare to break in. One of his men hacks into CTU's security system--which apparently is not as difficult as one might imagine--and shuts everything down. As things start going haywire upstairs, Nadia calls for a lockdown, but it is too late. Cheng's men are inside CTU! They come in guns-a-blazing.

Billy Bob Brosnan, or B3, is leading the attack. He orders everyone at CTU to get on the floor, then asks who is in command. Nadia is frozen. Milo raises his hand and says he's in charge. B3 shoots Milo in the neck! Grief counseling for female admirers of Milo Pressman will be offered in the comments section below.

Jack hears the commotion and finally convinces the guard outside his Holding cell to let him out. The guard gets shot by one of Cheng's men. Jack takes his gun and begins trying to work his way to the main floor.

Two of Cheng's men come and get JoshLyn. As they are being taken back to the main area, they run into Jack. He takes out Cheng's men and leads JoshLyn to a ventilation duct. Josh climbs in, but before Jack and Marilyn can, more of Cheng's men show up and take the two of them into custody.

Meanwhile, Ricky keeps trying to call in. B3 decides to let Nadia answer and instructs her to tell Ricky everything is OK. As they hang up, Ricky looks a little suspicious. Wait a second. That wasn't Alfonso Ribeiro. What show is this!?

Jack and Marilyn are brought back to the main area. B3 gets on the PA system and tells Josh his mother will be shot if he doesn't show himself within ten seconds. Josh comes back. B3 informs Cheng that Josh has been captured.

Cheng calls someone and says, "The operation was successful. We have your grandson." Then we see Jack's father on the other end. OK, that wasn't obvious or anything. Cheng asks Jack's father if he's finished repairing the sub-circuit board yet. Jack's father says he will trade Cheng one sub-circuit board for one grandson. Cheng says they will meet in twenty minutes at the rendezvous point.

The good:
The direct attack on CTU. Even though it is extremely far-fetched, it's still eight hundred times better than the sub-circuit board/Russians attacking Central Asia plot. *yawn*

The Milo surprise. That's old school 24, making you like someone then killing them off.

Marilyn, Josh, and Jack's father being brought back. Now if they'll just bring back Buchanan and Pierce... and Tony :)

The bad:
Nadia. As if her incompetence wasn't enough, now her cowardice leads to Milo getting shot. Buchanan never would have done that!

The Lisa/Daniels/Bishop storyline. It seems so detached from the rest of the show. I usually go to check my laundry during these scenes, even if I don't happen to be doing laundry that particular night.

More Chloe/Morris soap-style drama. I want the old Chloe, working with Jack on the downlow, uploading files to his PDA.

Did you know...
Evan Ellingson, who plays Josh Bauer, portrayed a young Luke Spencer in the November 5, 2001, episode of General Hospital.

Why didn't one of Cheng's men just go into the ventilation duct after Josh? Let's see, an armed man chasing an unarmed teen thru a crawlspace. Naaah! Too easy.

Will Buchanan and Pierce come back to help save the day? Please, can they?

Where will the rendezvous point be? I mean, where do you go to exchange a grandchild for computer parts? Best Buy, maybe? There seem to be lots of kids running around in there.

Will Elizabeth ever tell Lucky that the baby is Jason's on General Hospital? Seriously, she is getting on my nerves almost as bad as Nadia.

"Splinter taught them to be ninja teens. Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines.
Raphael is cool but crude. Michelangelo is a party dude..."

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Cinco de Bone-o

If you went out today or tonight, you may have noticed large numbers of revelers celebrating, socializing, and drinking themselves into a stupor. Reports have been coming in from around the world of people partaking in various ceremonies and festivities.

In Kentucky, they staged a horse race, and even invited the Queen of England as special guest.

In Virginia, they postponed the NASCAR race, originally scheduled for tonight, until tomorrow, no doubt in observance of this day.

And around the nation, many people did not go into work today.

"Why?" one might ask. "What's it all for?" Well, I'll tell you.

Today is a special occasion. The Mexican people refer to it as Cinco de Mayo. That's because in Spanish, there is no direct translation for "Bone's bloggiversary."

Yes friends, four years ago today, I began blogging.

Four years. That's a lot of posting, commenting, typing, and yelling at Blogger (which, by the way, has been eerily glitch-free lately). How does one celebrate one's four-year bloggiversary? I don't really know. Although I am open to ideas. I thought about celebrating on the Monday following the weekend, like Lincoln.

Looking back over the past year, there was the first ever Bone roast. That was... mostly fun. I proclaimed one week as 80's week, with nothing but 80's related posts. (By the way, I think that will be an annual thing from now on.) I began doing 24 recaps. And, of course, there was Reveal Your Blog Crush Day and the Thinking Blogger awards.

Also this year, Three Word Wednesday had it's beginnings. On a Thursday, nonetheless. I didn't really think about how long it would last. But nine months later, and it's still going. It has introduced me to quite a few new bloggers. And we even have a button now!

The blogosphere is massive today, made up of thousands of communities of bloggers. One of the most rewarding things about blogging to me are the friendships and relationships that are forged.

It has been a blessing to meet more of you this year, and get to know all of you a little better thru your blogs and comments. It's always cool to discover we have something in common, whether it be a TV show, food, music, things we struggle with, whatever. One of my perpetual curiosities is how people find my blog and what causes them to come back.

I've said this before, but I could never emphasize it enough. Somewhere along the way, blogging reminded me that I love to write. And many of you made me believe that I could. You have all affected me in some way, whether it be an encouraging word, offering your own perspective, a virtual hug, making me smile or laugh, or just letting me know that I made you smile or laugh or feel.

Thank you.

"We're going to party, karamu, fiesta, forever. Come on and sing along. All night long..."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

3 Word Wednesday XXXIV

Welcome to Three Word Wednesday. Each week, I will post three (or more) random words. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write something using all of those words. It can be a few lines, a story, a poem, anything. This is a writing exercise. The idea is to let your mind wander and write what it will. I'll also attempt to write something using the same three words.

Leave a comment if you participate. Many fun and interesting people might visit your blog.

This week's words are:

The first couple of raindrops hit the windshield in big splotches. Then in as much time as it took to put the windows up, it was pouring. The smell of rain filled the air. Such was summertime in the South. It never rained quite so hard and the lightning was never so vivid and intense as it was then.

Kristin and I had been downtown to Riverfest. A single clap of thunder had sent much of the crowd scrambling for cover before the rain hit. I was figuring on dropping her off and then going home. But by the time we got to her place, the storm was on top of us.

"Why don't you come in for awhile and wait out the storm?" she asked.

I thought it a good idea. When we got inside, she pulled back the curtains and opened the windows. Kristin loved to watch the lightning and listen to the rain. It's one thing I remembered about her. One of ten thousand.

We sat in the floor in front of the couch with the lights out. As darkness set in, the storm really was a magnificent thing to see and hear.

We talked for awhile. I have no idea if it was twenty minutes or an hour, then eventually, words receded to thoughts. After a few moments of silence, I assumed Kristin had fallen asleep, and was surprised when she spoke.



"Do you ever think about us?"

"What do you mean?"

"Do you ever wonder how it would be... if we... were together again?"

Her question stunned me. As much as we still talked and hung out from time to time, there was a line there, somewhere. At least I imagined there was. We had a past, but it was a long time ago. Honestly, half the time, I had no idea what was going on. I tried to play it off.

"You're talking in your sleep, dear."

She didn't say another word.

As she slept, I was wide awake, thinking. Only the distant rumble of thunder could be heard as the storm had passed on thru. She shifted in her sleep, and the familiar feeling of her cold bare feet coming to rest against my leg made me smile. I looked at her face, still occasionally illuminated by the lightning. She looked perfect.

I thought about kissing her. But instead, I took a blanket off the couch and covered her up.

We never came that close again.

"We never thought those days would end. We'd never be the same again. That summer would be the last time we would ever be together..."

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

24 Recap: 4/30/07

OK, so here's what we know. Jack has been arrested. Again. Ricky intervened last week, allowing Cheng to escape with the sub-circuit board. However, in doing so, it appears Ricky may also have inadvertently saved Jack's life.

Recapping Day Six: 1:00 AM - 2:00 AM...

At the White House, acting-President Daniels video conferences with Russian President Sukarov in the Cisco Telepresence Suite. Seriously, is this an actual room in the White House? Because I don't recall Wolf Blitzer or Jon Stewart even mentioning it.

Sukarov has learned the Chinese have possession of the sub-circuit board--which if you recall, holds all the secrets of Russian intelligence, the KGB, the politburo, and possibly Baryshnikov's defection. He threatens Daniels with military action if the US doesn't intercept the component.

They hang up--or de-link, or do whatever it is you do to end a video conference. Daniels wants to know how Sukarov found out about the Chinese. Tom says the only way the Russians could have found out would be from someone inside the US Government or CTU. Attention! We have a leak!

At the Family Inn, as Lisa enters her room, some guy grabs her from behind!!! Oh wait. False alarm. She apparently knows him. They fool around. When Lisa goes to shower, her boy calls some guy who asks, "Does she know you're working with us?"

Jack, Ricky, and Audrey are brought back to CTU. Jack is taken to Holding. Audrey is taken to Medical and evaluated by a doctor. His diagnosis is she's a type-three catatonic, capable of following simple commands and repeating basic phrases, but otherwise unresponsive. No! Not catatonic! That's what Laura was on General Hospital. First, Laura. Now Audrey. They can't do this to me. They just can't!

He says Audrey has suffered severe psychological abuse, amplified by pharmacological agents. Pharmacological? Is that even a word? That sounds exactly like something I'd make up. He recommends treating her with drugs to try and shock her out of the catatonic state, but says it could be dangerous and in extreme cases, fatal. Ricky implores Nadia to let Jack talk to Audrey first, but Nadia says the doctor has jurisdiction. Ricky then tells her Buchanan would have done it.

Meanwhile, Chloe and Morris still appear to be auditioning for some 21st Century version of Melrose Place. Morris tells Chloe she crossed the line with her seemingly innocuous "don't arm nuclear bombs for terrorists" jab last week, then tells her, "We're done." Chloe appears to start crying--quite possibly for the first time in her life. What is this salty discharge?

Hightailing it in a Hummer, Cheng calls one of his men and uploads schematics from the sub-circuit board to his computer. The man tells Cheng it appears the board has been damaged and can't be repaired without "necessary expertise." Otherwise, it is useless.

Back at the White House, Tom has traced the leak to a lobbyist, Mark Bishop. He tells Daniels credit card records show Bishop and Lisa stayed at the same hotels on the same nights several times, and that they can probably prove Lisa is sleeping with him.

Daniels responds, "Then we have a bigger problem than you think, Tom."
"Why is that, sir?"
"Because I'm sleeping with her, too."
OK, I'm a little lost here. How is that a bigger problem than her giving information to a Russian spy?

Ricky goes to see Jack in Holding and uncuffs him. He says he thinks Jack needs to try and help Audrey, tells Jack to "make it look good" then turns around. Jack appears to pinch Ricky in that tender spot right between your neck and shoulder. Ricky crumples to the ground. I guess in the absence of any real action, staged action is the next best thing?

Jack goes to Medical, knocks down a couple of doctors and leads Audrey away. One of the doctors sounds an alarm. Morris pulls Jack & Audrey up on surveillance. You know, since the Counter Terrorist Unit wouldn't have continuous surveillance on someone in Holding to begin with.

Jack takes Audrey into a room and jams the door. He tries to get her to remember anything that might help find Cheng. She doesn't say a word. As agents began to cut open the door with a blowtorch, Jack and Audrey share a moment. He holds her hand. Stealing Daniels' number one move are we, Bauer?

Ricky, Nadia, the doctor, and a couple other people enter the room. Jack pulls a gun and says he's not letting the doctor take Audrey back to Medical. Suddenly, Audrey utters a word! She says, "Bloomfield." Bloomfield! Of course! Wait a second... what the heck is Bloomfield?! Figuring this means Jack is making progress, Nadia assures him she won't let the doctor touch Audrey. Jack puts down his gun and is taken back to Holding.

At the White House, Tom informs Daniels the Russians are moving a large number of troops towards a US base in Central Asia. Lisa shows up. Tom leaves. Daniels tells Lisa about the leak, and plays a recorded phone call Bishop made to his Russian contact just minutes earlier. Then he confronts Lisa about her relationship with Bishop. Hurt and angry, Daniels orders Lisa to return to Bishop and pretend nothing has happened to see what she can find out. OK, so you got all that? Daniels was sleeping with Lisa, who's sleeping with Bishop, who is figuratively in bed with the Russians.

Back at CTU, Ricky tells Nadia that Bloomfield turned out to be an old copper company. He says copper particles were found on Audrey's clothing, so that is probably where Cheng was holding her. Meanwhile Audrey's father, Secretary Heller, comes to see her and says he's made arrangements to take her away from CTU. He then pays a visit to Holding to see Jack. Heller blames Jack for what happened to Audrey and warns him to never go around her again.

And that may very well have been the least climatic ending in television history...

The good:
Ricky. I'm sorry, but it's true. He was a highlight of this episode, standing up to Nadia and the doctor, then uncuffing Jack to let him try and get thru to Audrey.

Lisa sleeping with the enemy, most likely assuring we'll never have to see anymore heavy petting between her and Daniels.

The bad:
Virtually no action at all, again. No helicopter crashes. No explosions. No Jack taking out the bad guys. I mean, the most action-packed scenes involved cutting open a door with a blowtorch and Jack punching out a doctor. Even the barely interesting storyline of the sub-circuit board got a bit more lame, as the Chinese discovered it was damaged.

The Chloe/Morris saga. Seriously, is anyone on the edge of their seat wondering what will happen between Chloe and Morris next week?

Best Quote:
Ricky to Nadia: "Well that's what Buchanan would have done!" Booyah! Suck on that, Nadia!

Master of the Obvious:
"You're cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead." Boy, you can't get anything past that William Devane.

Did you know...
Eric Balfour, who plays Milo on 24, got his start on Kids Incorporated, a children's television series which aired form 1984 to 1996 on the Disney Channel and in syndication. Other former Kids Inc. cast members include Jennifer Love Hewitt, Fergie, and Martika (best known for her 1989 hit "Toy Soldiers.")

Did you know, part deux...
KGB stands for Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti. Thus the abbreviation.

In a shocking season-ending twist, Pierce makes another return, teaming with Jack and Ricky to reunite Chloe and Morris.

What is up with all the broken and seemingly pointless storylines this season? They brought Martha and Charles Logan back just so she could stab him in the neck? Will we ever see them again?

What happened to the show that used to be non-stop suspense and action every single week?

"She kept saying, I've never really done this kind of things before, have you? Third rate romance, low rent rendezvous..."