Friday, October 31, 2003

Ninja School Girls

According to this story from

"A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said Friday."

I love it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Three Strange Things

First: you can now change red lights to green with a device in your car. Sweet! Read about it here.

Second: CNN has used the term "bling bling" in a headline, which is all that term requires to get into the Oxford English Dictionary.

Third: when I have some money, I'm buying a Toyota Prius. How freakin' cool is that?

Monday, October 27, 2003

Cool Website

Check out this awesome directory of Marvel comic characters.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Kill Bill

My company's storefront is under new management, and that management asked me to run a tournament last night, so I said "what the hell" and spent a few hours up in Redmond running HeroClix. And I had a blast. It's been too long since I've had the opportunity to get out into the real world and see how the game works, and see how people are actually playing it, and it was a nice dose of perspective. We finished around nine, and instead of coming back home like a total bump-on-a-log, I said to my co-worker, "let's go see Kill Bill." Liz expressed zero interest in seeing the movie (she dislikes Quentin Tarantino), but Kytte was game, and we caught a 9:40 show at the Crossroads.

Before I talk about the movie, a brief word about movie theaters. I haven't been to many movie theaters in Seattle, and these days I tend to go to movies at the theater only if I've heard really good things. I used to love the theater, but I cannot stand most of the crowds that go to theaters - typically high school students whose pagers, cellphones, giggles, and screams interrupt my enjoyment of the movie. And it's getting worse. I honestly believe that teenyboppers, male and female, have less and less respect for the other people in the movie theater. It sometimes borders on a total disregard for every other person - a kind of Ayn Randian selfishness that makes me want to kick someone in the head. Like their parents. But I digress.

Kill Bill is, as the title card advertises, the 4th film from director Quentin Tarantino. It starts with the old 70s "Feature Presentation" introduction (the one where the words look like they are in a kaliedoscope and then come into focus) and another little film snip from some Kung Fu flick (I'm not as versed in the nuances of 70s Kung Fu as others, so I won't embarass myself by posing). Then, after a Klingon proverb (which actually comes from an 18th century French writer and was quoted in Star Trek by Khan, not a Klingon - I do know Star Trek at least), we watch as Uma Thurman's character is apparently murdered. Except she's not. She recovers from her coma, and she's out for revenge. The rest of the movie revolves around killing, well, Bill. And Bill's pals, who tried to kill her and her unborn baby.

Typically, I wouldn't have much to say about a movie whose entire plot and premise can be summed up in its title, but Kill Bill deserves more than that. It's been getting really good reviews from fans of the Kung Fu / Martial Arts / Artsy Flick genre, but to those on the outside, the vanilla moviegoers if you will, have panned it mightily. Scan a few film forums if you doubt this - the opinions are almost as wide apart as those about our President.

I liked it, quite a bit. It was 120% style over substance, and that was OK, because if there is one thing Tarantino does exceptionally well, it's style. Jackie Brown didn't pull this off as well, but Reservior Dogs (which I dislike because of the violence - the style was violence, and that alone cannot carry a film, sorry guys) and Pulp Fiction did. The so-called "experimental" aspects of the film - adding an anime cut-sequence, showing the story out of order - aren't anything new. If Quentin thinks he's breaking ground as a film director, he's sorely mistaken. What he does do, is takes these elements, combines them with the ultimate homage to Kung Fu films (and a half-dozen other lesser-known genres) and makes a fine overall package. Kill Bill is great fun to watch, even if you get the idea that Quentin takes himself a little too seriously. But I got that feeling during Pulp Fiction, too. In short, it's worth the price of admission, but unless you're a total Kung Fu fanboy or fangirl, you probably won't be "wowed" by it. Well, maybe if you're 15 years old and you were 6 when Pulp Fiction came out, so you don't remember it. Jesus, now I feel old.

As I left the theater, I wondered: will this be a jump-start for American cinema in the way Fiction was in 1994? The more I think about it, the more I think "probably not." If anything, Bill is riding the coattails of the genre (Matrix, the flood of anime films becoming more and more popular, Crouching Tiger have already stolen his thunder). Instead, it makes a nice little package on its own, and if you ignore Quentin's own yammering about how arty it is, and enjoy Bill for what it really is, you should be fine. Me, I turned my brain off and had a good time. I can't wait for the DVD.

I should also mention - as everyone should expect, the soundtrack was amazing.

Friday, October 24, 2003

More From the Religion Department

Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, wrote an interesting article on Mel Gibson's film "The Passion" on beliefnet. Although the story is not dated, it alludes to the fact that he as so far refused to show the film to scholars (which he has now), so I have to assume that it's older. It mentions numerous times that it's not only Jewish scholars who have raised questions about the possibilities of anti-Semitism in the film, but Catholic scholars as well.

Miss Levine notes that "I don't know if the movie is anti-Semitic--I have only seen a version of the script--but the reaction to the scholars' objections could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. " She then says, "alas, fidelity, accuracy, and sensitivity were all lacking in the script I saw for Mr. Gibson's production. What I notice from the media coverage of this controversy is that once again "the Jews" are being blamed--only this time "the Jews" are a scholarly panel and "the truth" is a Hollywood script."

Then, she switches gears and proceeds to compare the film with the great big Evil, Nazi Germany. Although Miss Levine raises some very good concerns, her article takes on the tone of an Internet message-forum post alleging Nazi-like violations of free speech when she notes about the film she has only read an early script of: "Jesus' cross is manufactured in the Temple. this unbiblical and a-historical scene is analogous to asserting that the ovens of Auschwitz were constructed in the Vatican itself under the watchful eyes of Pius XII. "

Miss Levine's good points are somewhat sullied by what is essentially an appeal to extreme emotion. There are churches in Europe where saints are still celebrated every year - saints made so because they were supposedly killed so that their blood could be used to make unleavened bread - but she would rather focus her ire on a Hollywood production, and compare it to Nazi Germany.

What would change the fundamental, underlying anti-Semitism in a culture: working with churches to remove ceremonies that celebrate children supposedly killed by Jews, or attacking Mel Gibson's Hollywood movie, that the average American wouldn't dream of sitting through?

According to the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies and Director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, the later.

I'm So Terribly Glad I'm a Beta...

Donald Rumsfeld wants to start a department devoted entirely to a propaganda battle with "our enemies" in the War Against Terror, according to this article from Wired news. An entire government agency devoted to propaganda - that's what will help me sleep better at night.

From the Getting the Facts Straight Department

After reading another article on about the suit against the makers of Grand Theft Auto III, I should mention that the lawsuit does indeed name the parents responsible - as well as Wal-Mart, who sold the game (to the parents!) and Sony, the manufacturers of the video game system upon which the game is played.

I guess Microsoft is lucky the kids didn't play the new X-Box version!

Seriously, though, the stupidity of the suit is making me cringe.

Another interesting note: the man killed by the two redneck teenagers was Canadian.

Viva La Cuba! reports that the Senate has voted to end the forty-year-old travel ban to Cuba. The White House has threatened to veto. None of this is surprising, really: if polled, I think that most Americans would support ending the travel ban - and possibly ending the embargo as well. It obviously hasn't worked to starve Castro out, and the fact that we removed the travel ban and embargo against Vietnam first only encourages the view that we continue our Cuban policy not out of any logical reason, but out of tradition.

Or does it?

Actually, there is a perfectly logical reason for the White House's threatened veto and the continued policy of embargo against Castro (who is nearly the worlds longest-reigning leader). The reason is the Cuban vote. Florida, especially southern Florida, has a lot of Cubans packed in it. While some folks may not understand the difference between a Spaniard, a Brazilian, a Cuban, a Dominican, or a Mexican, I can guarantee you that Jeb and George Bush do. A lot has been made of the Democratic party pandering to the Latino (or Latina) vote, and when the term pandering is coupled with the term Latino vote, it invariably means "illegal Mexican immigrants." But Florida is full of Latin American immigrants as well - Cubans - most of whom are here because they fled Cuba when the communists took over. Why? Because they happened to be the very wealthy Cubans who exploited children in sweatshops for fun and profit. OK, mostly profit.

But these Cubans are an extraordinarily large voting force, especially in Florida, where most of them still reside. And the Bushes know this, as does the Republican party. That's why Florida, a fairly liberal state with two major universities, large amounts of American Indian land in the southern part of the state, and several urban areas continues to elect conservative leaders. True, the Cuban vote is just one influential factor in the larger equation, but it is an influential factor nontheless, and as the 2000 presidential election indicated, Florida is a state where every vote counts.

I'm not blaming the Cubans for this - I mean, most of them came here seeking asylum because they very well could have been killed otherwise. But the continued embargo against Cuba is contrary to what I suspect is the majority of public sentiment (not to mention reason), and the Bush brothers' relationship with Cuban expatriates is probably a solid factor in their support of it. If the Democrats thought of it first, they probably would be doing the same thing, but the Republicans caught on early and they've held the Cuban vote because of it.

Savvy politics? Cloaked racism? Using people as a means to an end? Or just smart campaigning? A little of each, methinks.

What I'm reading: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.
What I'm listening to: A Murder of One - Counting Crows
What I'll watch tonight: Another Indiana Jones

Thursday, October 23, 2003

From the Religion Department

Tonight, two seperate spectacles from the world of religion. First, there are reports in New Jersey the Virgin Mary's image appearing on a tree stump in a run-down neighborhood. Second, Mel Gibson's film "The Passion of Christ," has found a distributor, according to this story. Of course, the article makes more of the issue of the charges of anti-Semitism surrounding Gibson's film rather than the film itself, so these two articles actually have something in common.

Religion makes people do strange things (I know what you're thinking: yeah, no shit Jason). Just look: in today's political news, the Senate passed a measure banning so-called partial birth abortions (click on the link for an interesting story discussing the misleading terminology of "partial birth"), and yesterday Jeb Bush of Florida ordered that a woman who has been in a zero-brain-activity coma for 13 years not be allowed to die. And, Jerry Falwell made a complete ass of himself by saying this on Crossfire:

FALWELL: Well, if -- if you don't take the Bible seriously, what you and Hussein just said would be true. But the vast majority of believers worldwide, Christian, followers of Christ, believe that God rules in the affairs of men. And history would support that. BEGALA: So God put President Clinton in office? FALWELL: You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton. You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton. BEGALA: So God put him there? FALWELL: I think that we needed Bill Clinton, because we turned our backs on the lord and we needed a bad president to get our attention again to pray for a good president. That's what I believe.

It's a swarm of religion!

Getting over Falwell's fecund stupidity, and the ethics debate involved in ending life and extending it through technology, and the Catholic belief that the Virgin Mary likes to pop up on tree stumps, freezer doors, and on tortillas, I've been thinking a lot about Mel Gibson's film. I typically don't like religious movies - the nature of a movie means that religion and the complexities of the underlying belief-systems and worldviews involved in forming lasting religions beliefs can never be adequately expressed in a motion picture. I'm an equal-opportunity disliker: The Last Temptation of Christ and The Ten Commandments stand side-by-side in my internal reference library as equally awful films, even though their portrayals of Christian belief could not be any more dissimilar.

However, I'm very optimistic about Gibson's film, and the charges of anti-Semitism seem awfully overblown, especially considering the charges seem to be directed from people who have not seen the movie. When I first heard about Gibson's project, I was amazed that anyone would actually conceive of such an undertaking, let alone make it: a twelve-hour movie, entirely in Aramaic and Latin (two dead languages), without subtitles, telling the story of the last twelve hours of Jesus' life. I do not consider myself a Christian, but the thought sent shivers down my spine. Done correctly, it could be one of the most beautiful things ever committed to celluloid.

For those of you who just clenched your asscheeks, hear me out: the story is beautiful. A man who so believes in peace and love that he's willing to give up his life and be killed in one of the most painful ways imaginable, so that he displays to all present what love and sacrifice really mean.

But wait! Didn't Gibson already do this movie? Wasn't it called Braveheart? And didn't he even spread his arms like a Christ figure after his Wallace died after being tortured? Sure. But this is different: this is giving life to the archetype, incarnating the source material if you will. For the same reason that Seamus Heaney's recent translation of Beowulf excited me with its beauty, especially with its focus on the early Christian material mingling with the Saxon belief-structure, so too do I think "The Passion of Jesus Christ" will be a fine work of art. Of course, until I see the film, my opinion counts about as much as those who charge anti-Semitism. But, I plan to see the movie and make up my own mind. If I'm willing to spend twelve hours in a theater for the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy, it would be kind of silly of me to avoid what could possibly be one of the most meaningful pieces of art ever rendered. The Cathedrals in Europe, the statue of David, the Last Supper, Mozart's Requiem - some of the finest examples of Western art wouldn't exist without the story of Jesus as their inspiration, and I'm willing to give Gibson a shot. Hell, I don't think Gibson's politics are something to admire, but I'll be there to watch.

And, since I sat down with the intention of writing about the anti-Semitic charges in the first place: the source material inherantly makes the Jews in the story look bad. It was written that way for a reason. If Gibson doesn't include a Jewish mob, then he's ignoring an important part of the story. Is that anti-Semitism? No. You know what is anti-Semitic? Supporting the state of Israel not because you believe Jews should have a country to call their own, but because you believe it needs to exist to bring about your Second Coming. Using the Jewish people as a means to your selfish Christian end seems far more anti-Semitic to me than making a movie that stays true to the source material. One of these two things was done by a visionary film director and artist. The other, by the fundamentalist Christian wing of the Republican party that currently occupies the White House. Two guesses as to which is which.

What I'm reading: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.
What I'm listening to: Love Missile F1-11 - Sigue Sigue Sputnik
What I watched tonight: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (thanks, Mom! Get better!)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Fun With Voices

Here's a funny little diversion: AT&T has created a cute little program that allows you to type a phrase (up to thirty words) and hear it in four different languages or two different English dialects. Good for a laugh, or to just marvel at how much technology has advanced.

This message brought to you by your Borg oppressors.

Deja Vu All Over Again

I just read about a lawsuit alleging the makers of the popular video game "Grand Theft Auto III" are responsible for the deaths of two people earlier this year by two teenagers who claimed they were inspired by the game. From the article: The boys told investigators they got the rifles from a locked room in their home and decided to randomly shoot at tractor-trailer rigs, just like in the video game "Grand Theft Auto III." In a suit filed Monday in Cocke County Circuit Court on behalf of the victims, Miami lawyer Jack Thompson and local lawyer Richard Talley alleged the game "inspires and trains players to shoot at vehicles and persons."

This reminds me of the heady days when Joe Leiberman stood before Congress and testified that games like Mortal Kombat would cause teenagers to rip each other's hearts out.

No mention of blame on the part of parents who didn't notice that their teenaged sons might do something as crazy as begin shooting at random cars. No mention of the irresponsibility of leaving firearms where disturbed teenagers could find them. About the warning labels, telling parents (who should be monitoring what their children watch, listen to, and play) that the game isn't intended for audiences under the age of 17, zero.

I can't wait until someone decides to jump off a roof because the HeroClix Superman can fly. I'll laugh at them as hard as I'm laughing at this, and then I'll weep for the human race, because this is so fucking pathetic.

If they were going to sue anyone, they should sue the parents for negligence. Because the millions of people like me, who can differentiate between fantasy and reality, will be hurt by the two assholes who could not.

The Underdogs

I just wanted to draw everyone's attention to an excellent website, the Home of the Underdogs. They have taken the time to catalogue and, in many cases, offer for download all kinds of ancient computer software. I've found programs on that site that I had one copy of years ago, or had and wanted to play and never got the chance, or just never got the chance to try. For example, tonight I found the second Lost Files of Sherlock Holmes game. I wasn't even aware there was a second game until I searched on a whim, and there is was, with great reviews and everything. Nice! I will keep them in mind when penning my next column for the RPG Times. Speaking of, I should do that soon, but right now I'd rather eat a slice of pumpkin pie and kick back with some Game of Thrones books...

Now I Can Talk

So now I can share why yesterday was such an eye-scratcher. Due to restructuring, some very good people at my company lost their jobs. The worst part is, I ended up ahead - I got promoted, and switched departments. I feel awful that I received the promotion in the wake of these people, many of whom I consider my friends, being laid off.

Yesterday turned out to be a doozy. The situation at work completely blew my mind, and then I came home looking to talk about it with my mother and it turned out she'd broken her knee. Such is life - as Seattle has discovered in the last couple of days, when it rains, it pours. Apparently they are so used to the steady mist-piss of rain here that they aren't prepared for a good two-day storm, so flash flood warnings (so common in Oklahoma) were issued. Rain, in Seattle, made the front page of the paper. This place continues to baffle me.

I'm working on a nice little companion piece for a website that I hope to get published in the next few days - I'll be sure and post if I do. I goes back to some of the things I said about The Matrix, and movies being too self-conscious for their own good.

What I'm reading: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.
What I'm listening to: You Can't Always Get What You Want - The Stones.
What I'm going to watch tonight: Don't know. Maybe The Simpsons. Liz made chili, and that's good enough for me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

My Kinda Humor

When I was 10, I won a pumpkin carving contest by taking the pumpkin innards and making them run out of the pumpkin's ears and nose like wax and snot. I thought I was hot stuff, but these guys have taken the art form to a whole new level.

It's All in the Genes, Baby

Even though I've been steering away from, I did pick up this story, about a study that seems to confirm sexuality is hard-wired. Of course, I've argued this for a while, but it's good to see medical science confirming it. The anti-gay crowd isn't going to like it, but when I look at the success of a TV show like "Will and Grace," and consider that even thirty years ago homosexuality wasn't even something you could mention on the evening news, the gay civil rights movement has made great strides.

This is good news the day I begin my new job. Like a bright little ray of sunshine.

What I'm reading: Just started A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin.
What I'm listening to: Ben Folds - The Luckiest.
What I'm going to watch tonight: too early to tell, I haven't had coffee yet.

System Shock

Wow. That's all I can say is wow. I'm totally shell-shocked by what happened today. I can't write about it until tomorrow, but it's harsh stuff. Good for me, but shocking all the same.

My mother fell and broke her kneecap in three places today, because she stayed late at her school to do some work and the janitor cleaning the floor neglected to put a sign up.

Liz is worried. I tell her not to be concerned, but I know she won't listen. I love her for that. I'm going to get off this stupid machine and go to bed in a minute.

I don't feel like making a real update tonight. I'm glad I wrote 2000 words on Crocodile Man last night.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Dirty Morning Fun

A friend sent me this link today. It gives me hope for medical science.

Hunger Artist

Reading about David Blane's London stunt reminded me of an old college favorite, Franz Kafka's A Hunger Artist. So I found a copy on the web (it's amazing how many classics you can find online these days - and yet, people still buy books) and gave it a read to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was. Better, in fact.

For those that aren't familiar, a hunger artist is a person who starves himself or herself for the sake of art - basically, preforming stunts not unlike Blane. In Kafka's story, hunger artists used to be revered with painters, sculptors, and athletes, but have since gone out of style. The artist of the title still continues in his craft, however, despite the fact that he no longer draws crowds.

Hunger Artist is one of those stories that are many things, and nothing at all. If someone were to ask "what is Kafka's "Hunger Artist" about?", I wouldn't know how to respond. On one level, it's a meditation about dedication to art, but that only captures a fraction of the story. It's a tale about changing times, about why someone continues to do a job that is obviously useless, and it's about the unusual ways in which people find fulfillment. And that's still only scratching the surface.

Lovely stuff. Click on the link above to give it a read.

What I'm reading: went to the comic store today, so it'll be X-Men, Avengers, and 1602 Part 3.
What I'm listening to: Tommy James and the Shondells - Crimson and Clover.
What I watched tonight: Watched a PBS special on Venice, which only made me long to go back. Will watch Simpsons later if the fucking Yankees get the hell of my TV.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

News Mad Libs!

From a news story, quoting President Bush trumpeting his success in Iraq:

"While (Iraqi President) Saddam (Hussein) supported a massive war machine, Iraqi schoolchildren went without textbooks, and sometimes teachers went unpaid."

Remember Mad Libs? Those books full of incomplete sentences where you had to fill in nouns, verbs, and adjectives to make wacky all-new sentences? These days, the news is full of Mad Libs! And the best part is, they are true! Watch...

"While Power-Hungry Dictator supported a massive war machine, an oil-rich backwater state's schoolchildren went without textbooks, and sometimes teachers went unpaid."

Now, let's fill it in with some different words!

"While (American President) Dubya (Bush) supported a massive war machine, Oklahoma schoolchildren went without textbooks, and sometimes teachers went unpaid."

See? Both statements are true! And the funny thing is, Oklahoma and the United States isn't suffering under a crushing UN embargo that has killed 500,000 of those same kids!

Friday, October 17, 2003

A Game of Fun

I'm really digging Fantasy Flight's A Game of Thrones CCG. I don't really have very many cards, but as I see the different intricacies of the game, I like it more and more. Playing with recognizable characters from the book series makes for a more fun game than that other CCG I used to play (one called Spells or something... Magic maybe?) The mechanics are similar at first glance - there's only so many way you can indicate a card has been used - but the Game of Thrones is strategic on more levels, and is far more flexible in deck construction, allowing you to concentrate on one, two, or three levels of play, and you have to plan on your opponents doing the same.

Now, I just need to find some money so I can get a box or two for myself.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Fun With Baseball

After their defeat last night, I'm trying not to watch the Cubs play now and trying not to get excited as the score keeps turning over. I don't want to watch. I just want to know when it's over.

Went DVD shopping today and picked up Quills for $5.99. I've wanted to see this, not only for the prospect of Kate Winslet in little or no clothing, but I also heard it was a fairly good movie. I also got some tripe called The Matrix Reloaded. When I saw Matrix in the theater, I remember thinking how awful it was. Utter crap. Then I saw it again, and it wasn't quite as bad. Still bad, but not as bad.

Which is really funny, since I liked the first Matrix quite a bit.

Here's my take on Reloaded. It was too aware of itself. The first movie, like the first Star Wars film, was a shot in the dark - a "let's make something totally different and see how people respond to it." Most of the time, films like this are regulated to cult status ("Rocky Horror" comes to mind) or become obtuse cultural phenomenon, something that happens once and then goes away ("Animal House.") Occasionally, the directors and writers and studio producers and bean-counters all get together and say "hey, we can turn this into a good money mill!" Because films that make money are good, films that mean something are better, and films that manage to combine the two are the best. So when they have a commercially successful film of artistic Quality, they jump on it. Athletic women in tight spandex doesn't hurt, either.

And that's what happened with Matrix Reloaded. They knew people were going to come see it, and they knew what those people liked about the first movie. Wire-fu action mixed with pseudo-philosophical and pseudo-religious flavors. So what to they do? They have to top the first movie by creating even more wire-fu action and adding more philosophical and religious stuff. And that is where they failed (this same train of thought can be applied to the Star Wars trilogy and its prequels as well). Because when people aren't watching and aren't paying attention, you don't have to pander to that audience - you can be experimental and make the film you want to make. You can add as much religious thought as you think fits into your little world. When they like it, you can't just do the same thing in the sequel (well, I think you can, which is why I'm writing this in the first place) - you have to give them more. So you get religious-orgy scenes that carry on far too long, and Eurotrash guys with strange accents rattling on about stuff covered in a Freshman philosophy course.

And it all falls apart on itself, because it's so self-aware. And those of us who didn't just come for the guns and spandex are disappointed, and don't necessarily want to watch the third movie. I'd much rather see Return of the King. Am I going to be there anyway? Sure. I'm a tool, I admit it - because I'm intrigued enough to show up and see how it ends. Am I excited, am I going to dwell on it and talk about it around the water-cooler with my friends? Nope.

So I guess they end up happy - after all, they got my money. But you'd think that people would have enough pride to attach their names to a quality product, especially when they know that so many people are going to watch it. If I was in their position, I certainly would.

Maybe that's my fault - because I do care what others think about my artistic work.

Bah, the Cubs are down by 4. Stupid Cubs.

What I'm reading: still haven't found a book yet.
What I'm listening to: Bic Runga - Sway
What I'm going to watch tonight: Either An American In Paris or Matrix Reloaded.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Pariah Dog Pt. 2
As a follow-up to the number of publications I've been associated with that have gone out of business, I did a quick tally of all the laser products I've managed to destroy in the last few years - after nearly killing another one today.

CD/DVD Drives: 3
Discmans/MP3-CD Players: 2
DVD Players: 1
PS2s: 1
CD Stereos: 1

I am a destructive force of nature!

Da Cubs
Ya know, I've been a Cubs fan since I lived in Bloomington in the early 1990s. I've always rooted for the underdog. Tonight, they could have made history. Instead, they made total asses of themselves. I'm just glad there's a game seven. Of course, it could turn around in the 9th - but I doubt it. I turned the TV off, but Elizabeth turned it back on. I can't bear to watch it, but she can. I think I'm in love.

I finished A Clash of Kings last night before I went to bed. I like George R. R. Martin's stuff for many reasons, not the least of which is that it's just plain great fantasy. It reads like the best military and palace intrigue books out there (Dune comes to mind), but with a great, easy-flowing style. There's only two characters I have any complaints about being two-dimensional, and Martin really is a master storyteller. Usually around the second book in the series, I'm just tired and want to skip to the end (like in Tad Williams' Dragonbone Chair series) but I'm genuinely hooked, and it's adult in a way that Feist's Magician never was.

What I'm reading: Haven't picked the next book yet.
What's on the MP3 Player: Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust soundtrack
What I watched tonight: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Rush to Judgement
I found this link through Mark Evanier's blog - a link to Bill Maher's blog with an entry about Rush and the man's admitted drug addiction. Maybe the way I've been treating poor Rush is no better than Rush himself. Is there such a thing as moral high ground any more? Maher's blog gives me hope (while my own reactions do not).

Pariah Dog
I decided to show a friend Stephen King is People! on today, only to find that the site has disappeared. So I decided to take stock of the various pulibcations in which my writing has appeared, and see how many no longer exist today.

The Drury Mirror (college newspaper): according to its website, still active. But with clipped wings - not nearly as liberal as I left it.

The Bonfire (college literary magazine): the last webpage update was Fall 2002. Not optimistic.

The Tulsa Independent: Folded after five issues. I was Associate Editor.

Infinity Press: My cover story appeared in the publication's final issue.

Oklahoma Magazine: As far as I can tell, still in business.

OUTLine: Under a new name and new management.

Revolution SF: Toast.

Classic Gaming: Has a pulse, but a weak one.

RPG Times: Still ticking.

Have I become the Groo of the publishing world? Or have I simply been choosing bad publications?

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Clark and Ride
Although I'm still undecided on Wesley Clark's candidacy, this article certainly gives me food for thought. This is groundbreaking for two reasons: it calls on a level of grassroots support and dedication not seen since FDR and Johnson, and it is the first solid policy statement I've seen from a candidate that doesn't sound like the same old policy from every other candidate.

If it works, it would be amazing, and might actually transform us from a jaded country of misfits to a real world leader.

Et Tu, Mix?
Here's a little bit of morning mischief. Ever wonder what Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back" looks like translated into Latin (and then back to English?) Wonder no more.

Beer Thirty
A long day at work. So long, I don't even want to talk about it.

Instead of talking about the six American soldiers killed in Iraq, the news would rather talk about the six senior citizens killed in Louisiana when church their bus ran into a truck. Coutesy of the Commie Pinko Liberal Media. I need to find a better news source than CNN methinks.

It's really sad when you get home and you're thinking about your day and you can't even put into words what you accomplished.

My cats are taking out their aggressions on each other. I don't have that luxury.

Perhaps I'll try writing.

The good news is that I'm less than 100 pages away from finishing A Clash of Kings...

What I'm reading: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin (almost done!)
What's playing: Nothing.
Movie: Harry Potter 2, but I decided today that I'm going to have to see Kill Bill.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Hillbilly Heroin
So Rush Limbaugh is a hippie drug user. Well, not really. See, he doesn't do weed, but he abuses prescription painkillers. The white man's burden is so difficult to bear, it seems. Read about it here.

I find it very odd that he's been addicted to painkillers for "several years" (by his own admission) but he's only seeking treatment now that he's being investigated.

Moral on the outside, rotten on the inside unless being scrutinized. I think I've heard this conservative music before. Anyone else as tired of this little dance as I am?

But with a moral example like George W. Bush, can we expect anything less? That cokehead is our leader, after all.

Fear Inc.
Before the story gets replaced by sordid tales of basketball stars, tiger maulings, and Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez' marriage, I thought calling attention to this story might be a good idea. Vice President Dick Cheney, in a speech to the conservative group Heritage Foundation, said that terrorists are doing everything possible to aquire weapons of mass destruction that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in a single day of horror. Read it yourself - I'm not making that up.

It kind of reminds me of a movie I saw as a kid, where an agent of an evil Emperor said something to the effect of: "fear will keep the people in line."

Every time you feel afraid because of something in the news, stop and consider who's really winning and who's really benefiting. And if you still feel like duct-taping your windows, all the more power to you.

Camper Van Jason
In preperation for a camping trip tomorrow, we went to Target to get some necessities and ended up with twice as many as planned. That's OK; I've been meaning to buy a portable lounge chair for a while now. We also ended up with the Platinum Edition DVD of The Lion King, so we'll watch it over dinner tonight. It's going to make me long for a true home theater system more than I already do. I'm biding my time until we are debt-free and can spend our money on the more frivolous things in life.

Like portable lounge chairs.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

I got my Lord of the Rings Marathon ticket, too. Go me! I've decided that times like this are what the giant tubs of unlimited-refill popcorn are for. And, of course, pouring rivers of that butter-substance on them. Which reminds me of the time my friends and I made the unhealthiest popcorn possible in college. It contained, among other things, an entire stick of butter, a block of cheese, and a package of bacon. In one bowl of popcorn. I was the only one who choked down more than two bites, which, looking at my gut, isn't that much of a surprise.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

A Ticket to Ride
It's been a long day so far, and it's only 2 in the afternoon. Today, tickets for the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Marathon went on sale, at least in theory. For those who don't know, all three Lord of the Rings movies are showing on the 16th of December back-to-back. Of course, I wanted a ticket, so I hop online to try to buy one and the website has ground to a halt. Apparently, they didn't anticipate the level of traffic for this event, so it is being delayed until tomorrow.

We'll see.

Until then, news of dead people half a world away has been replaced with news of basketball stars committing horrific sexual acts on women.

On the upside of life, I'm hammering out details of a HeroClix uber-event in Tulsa this winter when I go back to visit, where I provide a bunch of prize support and we have a food drive for charity. That should be fun.

More tonight, if I'm not too tired to write a little something.

From the More Death Department...
Well, the California recall election distracted us from Israeli atrocities and dead American soldiers for one day at least. CNN reports this happy news. That's 8 more unnecessarily dead people.

First Real Post
This thing seems to be up and running. This is actually my second attempt at a weblog. My first appeared on my website, which I found clunky to update and a pain to deal with. Which, now that I think about it, is a fairly apt description of that entire site. So this is try two.

My goals are twofold. Jeff Grubb, a man I admire and respect in more ways than I can count, also happens to be a co-worker of mine. In a discussion about writing, we both mentioned that we kept weblogs. I used "kept" in the past tense. He explained that the blog is a great way to keep the pen sharp when not necessarily writing every day. While I have a steady diet of writing at work, it is largely technical. So, far from leaving me satisfied at the end of the day, it usually leaves me feeling somewhat drained and unwilling to work on other things (read: my fiction). So, I'm turning to this blog as a means to write something other than training manuals, responses to customer service inquiries, and announcements about the Next Big Thing at the office.

Second, the Internet offers a great many people a voice they may not otherwise have. I've taken advantage of this in the past, by (among other things) publishing a homebrewed role-playing game, kick-starting my blossoming fiction career, and taking the pulpit in my various political views. There are a lot of weblogs out there, and most of them aren't really worth reading - after all, there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and I try to spend them wisely. But at the same time, if they get a voice, then so do I. It's that simple.

So that's what I'm about. The Pirate's Log title is a longstanding running gag I've had - my website is technically called Rapp Scallion's Pirate Ship, after a character in the Monkey Island game series, and I needed some clever name to stick in that URL at the top of your browser. Given time, I probably could have chosen something better, but like many things, the utilitarian approach may be the best.

Hopefully I'll do a more insightful update tomorrow. I spent an hour looking for a restaurant tonight after my wife locked the keys out of our car, so the first part of my evening was pretty much shot. I wrote 500 words on The Crocodile Man (that's my serial novel), so I'm calling it an evening. I may write a quick review of a role-playing module for the RPG Times, but trust me when I say it's not that exciting.

What I'm reading: A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
What's playing in my MP3 player: Round Here by Counting Crows
What I'd watch as a movie right now: either Se7en or From Hell

This space for rent