Saturday, February 28, 2004

Cool Store

Mark Evanier's blog had a link to this awesome online store, Hometown Favorites. There you can buy regional foods that you often can't purchase if you've moved across the country - say to Washington State, where no one has heard of Wolf Brand Chili. They've also got an enormous selection of hard-to-find and "retro" foods and candy, including stuff like Blackjack Gum. I personally can't stand the taste of Blackjack Gum, but if you like it, there ya go.

Note: they also sell Marshmallow Fluff.

I Should Know Better

Back in college, I used to debate on message boards with some frequency. Specifically, I went to Michael Moore's forum because it was largely unmoderated, and it attracted a wide variety of opinionated people.

In the last three years, I've made it a rule to stay away from online discussion forums. Sure, I still hang out on the WizKids message boards, but as a moderator instead of a debating member. And I frequent my DVD forum on a daily basis, but more for news and movie talk I can't get anywhere else.

My pal Andy contacted me and told me to check out a forum he was trying to start with some friends. So I dusted out the old sparring gloves and decided to go a few rounds. And then I remembered why I quit in the first place. Debating with people online will never end well. Very rarely will someone debate in a logical manner, and most of the time it degenerates into name-calling and worthless semantic arguments. I began on Andy's forum as best I could, but it wasn't long before what I thought would happen, happened. So again, I reiterate my pledge to stay the hell away from places like that. The thing is, everyone wants to talk and no one wants to listen. But, I find that's true in many things.

In other news, I think I'm going to begin looking for a Buddhist study group again. I need something to combat the stress at work; everyone has been on edge lately, and sometimes it's almost palpable.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Monkeys Galore

The whole Skull & Bones thing got me thinking about one of my favorite computer games of all time, Monkey Island. So I went Internet fishing and found this amazing website, the Legend of Monkey Island. They've got screenshots, the complete soundtracks to the first three games, and all kinds of stuff. Check it out - these were the finest adventure games ever made outside of Sierra studios.

The Spirit of 1670 Weeks Five and Six

We resumed playing our Skull & Bones campaign last night, and I realized that I hadn't posted about the week before, either. After the party exeted the catacombs, they took the helmet back to the school only to find it burned down, and the professor dead - a small anchor stuck in the back of his skull. They searched the ruins for clues but found little, and made their way back to an inn where they spent hours experimenting with the helmet, trying to get it to work. Finally, Aleida hit upon holding the helmet from the strap, and in her capable hands the head swung around to face north-north-west. After they made this discovery, the party made plans to head into the wilderness to search for the Fountain - presumably what the helmet pointed towards. That night, however, they were set upon by three black-robed thugs, one of whom kept using a strange assortment of powders and ingredients to cause horrible results in the party - including completely blinding Ronald. This may have been the party's hardest fight yet, but somehow the glory of God seemed to be with Rodrigo as he laid waste to his opponents. And, of course, no one noticed Zanna in the background, quietly poking pins in her doll.

The next morning, after seeking a (costly) cure for Ronald's blindness, the party made their way into the wilds. After several hours of travel, the plantations and citrus farms gave way to mangrove an cyprus, and the ground became increasingly swampier. They stopped for the night at a dry patch of ground, and the next morning found the real beginnings of the swamp - an area where dry land only existed in small tufts. Luckily, a flat-bottomed pole-boat was tied to a tree roughly where they found the edge of the swamp, so they began their journey into the heart of it. Again, they found a relatively soft patch of land to spend the night and, the next morning, found another shore where they continued on food.

Around midday they came upon a clearing and heard muffled voices. Rodrigo, being the sneakiest, snuck up on the voices and discovered several pirates pushing a shovel into the ground and checking for moisture. The leader was a tall, lanky pirate with a large red coat, an enormous black beard, and a wild shock of black hair. His men kept digging, while one of the unseen sentries snuck up on Rodrigo and put his musket to the Spaniard's head. Rodrigo shouted "hola!" loud enough for the rest of the party to hear, and proceeded to talk a mile a minute at the top of his lungs. The rest of the party snuck towards the clearning as the large pirate began to toy with Rodrigo - offering to let him go, and then trying to shoot him in the back. All was forgotten, though, as the men discovered they had in fact found what they were looking for - water bubbled from the ground. As the pirates ignored Rodrigo, and the party moved into position, the Spaniard drew his cutlass and attacked.

The party fought for their friend's safety, but the pirate captain didn't seem to care - he filled a small vial with the water, drank it, and promptly fell over dead. Rodrigo attempted to sever the man's head, but couldn't quite get it all the way off - it still hung by a small flap. Ronald, though, found a worth opponent - a lace-wearing swordfighter who tossed insults as easily as he did jabs with the rapier. The two fought brilliantly, exchanging blows and words. Aleida, though, using her newly-aquired cutlass, began hacking the pirates to pieces. She dispatched three in a row, causing both Ronald and Rodrigo to be very impressed. Meanwhile, the seemingly dead pirate had problems all his own. His hair and beard burst into flames, and his neck healed itself. Then, he stood up and knocked Rodrigo out of the way with a single punch, and shoved one of his henchmen in much the same manner. The battle stopped (except for Ronald skewering the insulting swordsman) while the pirate, his skin turning a sickly shade of green and his hair and beard now a burning wreath of hellfire, walked into the swamp, laughing. "When I send you to Hell, tell 'em John Robinson sent 'ya!" he cackled.

After looting the bodies, tying up a prisoner, and resting, the party agreed it was one of the strangest things they'd ever seen.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A Good Cleaning

Back in college, on an impulse buy, I looked at an eBay auction for "uncleaned Roman coins." Real coins, dug out of the ground, that you could clean off yourself and see a piece of history underneath! They were like a buck each, so I shelled out for ten of them. When they arrived in the mail, complete with simple cleaning instructions, I spent a weekend dirtying my bathroom and playing in lemon juice. Only one of the coins turned out to be much of anything - a copper coin from the time of the Emperor Probus - but I was hooked. I've always wanted to be an archaeologist (in fact, if I were to win the lottery tomorrow and quit my job, I'd go back to school and get a degree in archaeology and just do that for the rest of my life). I know that sounds like a strange thing for an aspiring writer to want, but I'm fascinated with history, I can make up great stories, and I've got a pretty logical mind, so I think it would be a good mix.

Anyway, I started learning more about the hobby of Roman coin collecting, and cleaning uncleaned Roman coins. Most hardcore coin collectors kind of frown on the process, since you're mostly buying slugs (worthless hunks of unidentifyable metal) from dealers who are trying to liquidate their junk. But occasionally you get good coins, and it seems to be a pretty cheap (and fun) way to get into the hobby. Here's a discussion from an email forum about it.

There are several thoughts on how to actualy go about cleaning coins as well. Right now, I'm trying a six-month olive oil soak on a batch. I've been reading a lot about electrolysis, which not only sounds fun, but could be a shocking experience. The only problem is that this method strips the patina, which isn't a big deal if you aren't planning on reselling your coins (as I'm not).

A Civics Lesson

For those who don't know, provided a handy guide to the process involved in amending the Constitution.

Mark Evanier's blog had the best comment so far I've seen about this bruhaha:

I tend to think this proposed amendment won't do for this Bush what that hollow campaign to bar flag-desecration did for his father. Remember when that was the, no pun intended, burning issue of the day?

Sorry, I can't link to the post directly because it, like this blog, constantly scrolls down.

And all I can say is, hopefully, this will die the same death the flag-burning amendment did.

You know, for people who claim to be against Big Government, Republican'ts sure like proposing stupid amendments to the Constitution.

Not Watching American Idol

That's right, I refuse to watch. Humbug I say!

I'm in the mood to write something, but I'm not sure where to start. I borrowed Jon's d20 Modern Weapons Locker, and I think I'll have to pick it up (he also loaned me Unearthed Arcana, which kind of sucked). It got me thinking about Fallout, because I realized it's been three years since I finished the last draft of it. Maybe I should take it out, dust it off, polish it up, and add parallel d20 rules for it. I'm thinking very hard about doing that - it would give me some game-related writing to do instead of the same press releases and promotional materials I've been doing at work.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Just when I thought medical science was making progress, doctors have begun using maggots to remove dead or rotting flesh.

Did I wake up in a horror movie this morning?

Monday, February 23, 2004

Don't Make Me Ralph

So good old Ralph Nader has decided to run for President. I was a Nader supporter in 2000 - one of the mistakes of my college years I wish I could take back. I look at my relationship with Nader and the Green party as parallel to my personal idealism at the time - a feeling of invulnerability, that the majority of people would do the right thing and therefore allow me to mouth off about what I perceived as a truth in American politics. Incidentally, my support for Nader only went as far as my words - since he wasn't on the ballot in Oklahoma, I attempted to vote for Gore. Note I said attempted to, because my vote was thrown out because my absentee ballot wasn't properly notarized.

This time, though, Nader's running as an independent and I find myself on the other side of the fence. My perception of old Ralph is that most people don't really take him seriously anymore, and that he's pretty much become a pariah to the liberals, many of whom feel the Bush administration really is worse than a Democratic administration (and I count myself among those people). With the American left still pretty much in fragmented little factions that love infighting as much as real political struggles, who knows - maybe Nader's arrogance combined with the need to oust Bush will lead to greater unity among liberals.

Then again, maybe it will cause the left to continue eating itself. I prefer the glass half full, but somehow I doubt it's gonna happen that way.

Games Galore!

I won, I actually won! My Game of Thrones tournament that is. I guess I should qualify by saying that I only had to beat one opponent, but I did it and I won!

Ahem, sorry. I haven't won a GoT tournament yet. So I'm excited.

There isn't anything really good out game-wise to pick up these days; I am going to get the deluxe character sheets and DMs screen from WotC one of these days, and I saw a d20 Modern Weapons Locker book that I'll probably buy in the near-future, but nothing jumped out at me. So, for six bucks, I grabbed a pack of twenty-some games by Cheapass. Cheapass makes some pretty funny stuff, and I figured, for six bucks, what the hell - it will at least give me something to do while I'm camping this year.

Speaking of, the mountains were crystal-clear and on display today. Rainier was mostly obscured by some haze, but Mt. Baker was out and the Olympics were the clearest I've ever seen them. It's great being on the ocean and surrounded on three sides by mountains. Moving out here was probably the best decision I've made during my adult life, after getting married.

Normally I don't mix blogging with work, but I couldn't pass this up. A site called All Nerd Review did an interview with me at Toy Fair, and it's pretty humorous. Read it here. OK, shameless plug over.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Recommended Reading

A reader sent me a link to this essay by Paul Graham, titled "What You Can't Say." As the flavor text explains, "this essay is about heresy: how to think forbidden thoughts, and what to do with them." It touches somewhat on political correctness, but also deals with politically-charged language, such as Bush's use of the term "activist judges" I wrote about a couple of days ago. Graham has a good collection of other essays on his site (I've only had a chance to read through a couple of them), most about the effects the Internet has on various means of personal interaction and communication. Which makes a great compliment to Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Today I've got a Game of Thrones tournament, this one across the water, so I can pick up my comics. I think I'm going to subscribe to "100 Bullets" - I read the first two collections of that comic, and I thought it would be pretty lame - just typical crime drama, not really what I'm interested in when reading comics. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised - "Bullets" deals with moral issues in an intelligent way, and the complexity reminds me of "From Hell" more than pulpy crime stuffs. Apparently the writer and artist are also doing a spin on "Batman" at the moment, which I'm gonna pick up as well. I haven't finished reading last week's haul, so I guess I'd better get working today. Work. Heh.


I realized that I haven't written a word about the book I started reading on my way to Toy Fair. Chad loaned my Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, and it's even better than Snow Crash. Stephenson's got a very easygoing style and doesn't get lost in his prose in the same way Gibson does (Gibson's prose, I feel, often degenerates into a form of stylistic masturbation, while Stephenson wields his in a more subtle way). Plus, it's just a damn fun book to read. It's a meaty 870-some pages, but cruising through them is a pleasure. Stephenson seems to be one of those rare authors who can create action, dialogue, and descriptive scenes that meld together perfectly - one of those elements doesn't really stand out above the others as being "better" or more coherant. And, as a writer, I find that admirable to say the least.

Tonight I played some Castlevania. I committed the First Deadly Sin of Video Gaming the other night - I didn't save my game for a while, and then (of course) I died and lost a good hour's worth of progress. While not nearly as heartbreaking as the time I lost all of my progress on Black & White (almost 48 hours of gaming down the tubes because the game not only crashed, it took a large portion of my hard drive with it), but still enough to put me off of the game for a while. Of course, things I found simple the first time have suddenly become far more difficult, so I'm not even where I was before I died, but I'm getting closer. It's a fun game to play, but a little repetitive - I don't think it's as good as Symphony of the Night, which really was the last great sidescroller.

The whole time I'm playing, I keep thinking about how cool it would be to play a Belmont whip-wielding character in D&D - I started sketching up the whip itself as an artifact, including the history of it presented in this game. Hey, at least it gives me something to do in my spare time.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Good and Bad Bush

When Jon and I were walking through Times Square, we saw this image on a t-shirt explaining the difference between good and bad bush. Now, Crabby sends me the same in a link. Coincidence? I think not.

Get Lost

Tonight Liz and I met Angela and John to see The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera, a great send-up of 50s and early 60s sci-fi / horror flicks. The dialogue was predictably crummy, the sets were obviously recycled, and the skeleton - you've got to see it to believe it. Seriously, for a group of no-name writers, directors, actors, and producers this was a pretty slick piece of filmmaking. It avoided being a one-joke premise by doing various spoofs of specific movie moments (watch for a great Them! rip-off) while sticking to the general lampooning of the genre, but in a pretty clever way. It dragged at a few parts in the middle, but was a pretty decent slice of cinema and worth an evening out.

Speaking of, after the movie (in Seattle's University District) we stopped by a pub and had a few drinks. We chickened out pretty early - I'm still getting over the whole jetlag thing - and as we were walking back, a fucking fratboy lobbed a water balloon from a car and hit Liz in the leg. She's got a nice big welt and a pair of wet jeans, and the fratboys are damn lucky they were in a car because I was running after them ready to shove my keys into their ears to teach them a lesson in being polite. Long story short, I like the comfort of my living room couch to watch movies on my brand-new, uber-cool 50" LCD TV in DTS sound, and I don't have to deal with balloon-lobbing morons that I end up wanting to kill.

Which is my way of saying, culture on suburbia's couch is fine by me. Now if only they delivered rental movies to my door on demand.

You know what's funny? Nothing like that ever happened to me in New York. It took a liberal, feel-good city like Seattle to be assaulted by an unknown college frat-fuck.

Activist Judges or Judgmental Activists?

I've avoided most of the gay marriage stuff because I think it's largely a non-issue. San Francisco's issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples is a great step ahead for civil rights, but it was inevitable. I suppose that, because it doesn't have an effect on me personally, I can't really feel that happy, because I suspect that opponents will eventually find a way to stop it and render the licenses useless. That, and the fact that the country is facing much larger problems at the moment, like a worthless war and a for-shit economy.

But, one thing that bothers me is Bush's use of a term - I'm not sure if this has become another word to add to the Conservative Newspeak Lexicon or what, but I've heard it before. "Activist judges." Apparently, activist judges are bad. I'm not sure exactly what an activist judge is or what it's supposed to be in Conservative Newspeak, but an activist is, basically, someone involved in activism (which is generally taken to mean using direct action to support a cause, according to And a judge interprets the law. Doesn't write the laws, doesn't enforce the laws, interprets and upholds the laws.

So what exactly is an activist judge? It sounds like a Republican't Newspeak term for a judge who puts their own personal political agendas ahead of actual interpretation of the law, or at least that's what the term implies. In fact, applying the label to someone automatically begins those kinds of associations - although someone may repeat the phrase and not realize exactly what it means, there is the underlying connotation of a judge placing politics and personal feelings above his or her responsibilites. Is this accurate? Possibly, but if that were the case then the Supreme Court that ruled on Roe v. Wade would be comprised of activist judges (I wager that many Republican'ts wouldn't deny that), but so would the Supreme Court that ruled the death penalty was not cruel and unusual punishment, allowing states like Texas to fry retarded people with the IQ of a 5-year-old.

In the spirit of Republican't Newspeak, I seriously doubt we'll ever hear the term applied to that Court, but it sure sounds good when you're slinging mud around about irrelevant topics in an election season.

Toy Fair

So I spent most of last week at Toy Fair in New York. Which meant that I had to fly to New York. I flew American again, because I've got a frequent flier account with them and I'm trying to save up for that ticket to the South Pacific (the one where I go to an island and then just decide to never come back). American is a pretty decent airline. Flying has become so routine it's almost scary. Things that used to bother me - takeoff, turbulence, the smell of jet fuel - I hardly bat an eye anymore.

The hotel - the Ramada Plaza New Yorker (owned by the Moonies, I learned) - was not routine. It was fucking bullshit. It took me two and a half hours to check in. I got to the hotel about 9:00 PM New York time. I was told that my room wasn't ready yet, and was still being cleaned. At 9:00 PM. Huh? So I thought, OK, sure, room's still being cleaned. I stashed my bags and found some food, and came back an hour and a half later. The guy I spoke with, who had a grasp of the English language similar to, say, an eggplant, told me that I could just come back to him so I wouldn't have to wait in line. I ended up waiting in line anyway, for another half-hour. Then, they told me that the company's credit card was declined. I promptly called our convention manager, who came downstairs and put a boot up the hotel's ass. And all this was for a room barely larger than my bathroom, which a bed that felt like a slab of bricks.

It was up early the next day for Toy Fair. All four days of Toy Fair was basically a rush to sell our stuff to press and retailers. And, a rush to get some really cool loot. I ended up with some very interesting games, including Geist, a ghost-hunting game; Howling Monkeys, a game about communication; and a copy of Master and Commander: The Game, made by local folk at Front Porch Classics. The game was originally designed as a press kit for the movie, and I saw it at Eliott Bay Books a while back and haven't seen it since. I was very happy that they had a copy, because it was an extremely limited print run for the game.

Aside from the loot, there isn't much to say about Toy Fair. I dragged Jon out to Astoria for Uncle George's, the greatest Greek food known to humankind. And no, I'm not joking. They've got the best grape leaves I've ever jammed in my piehole.

Flying back was one of the hardest parts of the show, because I had to be up at 4:15 AM New York time (roughly 1:15 AM Seattle time). That was yesterday. I just sat around staring at nothing and trying not to fall asleep, and I cleaned up the apartment. In fact, it's looking really clean, which is great. I didn't come into work, and I'm glad because my company announced a major change to its program on Monday, and players are in lynch mob mode. Like too many others in discourse these days, they are letting the negativity rule their feelings and not paying attention to some of the larger picture. I have no problem with them being angry, but the ones who get personal about it need to think about what they are saying and / or typing. Alright, enough feel-good bullshit. I bought Liz and shirt that says "Fuck You, You Fucking Fuck." She said she wanted to wear it to work. I thought that was a good idea.

I Attack The Darkness!

Larry turned me on to a band called The Darkness, who sounded like a real-life Spinal Tap when I listened to their new CD. Which, according to this article from MSNBC, may not be too far from the truth.

A Passionate Entry

I'm intentionally avoiding posting about Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ because the opinions flying around the Internet are so polarized and bordering on insipid that any real discourse on the subject seems to be lost. posted a story about Mel's father being a Holocaust denier, and while in New York I watched a woman lay into a preacher of all people for taking his 16-year-old daughter to watch the film - because it was too violent for someone of that age.

Some Christians see The Passion as a tool for converting people. They hope that someone who sees this movie will suddenly convert, based on Jesus' being tortured. Their rationale isn't terrible - the film, they say, demonstrates the suffering Jesus endured for the sins of mankind. Except, crucifixion was a routine form of execution for seditionists in the Roman empire, and others suffered far worse than Jesus. If a movie like Gladiator were to feature 45 minutes of torture as a part of the larger story, somehow I doubt those people would see it as a means to anything except Hollywood gore.

I seriously doubt that any rational, thinking person, with access to the Bible (the most published and translated book of all time), thousands of churches across the US and the world, access to at least one 24-hour religion channel, and Christians on streetcorners more than willing to share their religion, will suddenly make a decision to become a Christian after watching this movie.

I'm not a Christian, but I want to see it because it's going to tell a good story, with a great director and great actors. I'll be very surprised if I come out of the theater converted, because the 25+ years of personal experience, hundreds of books I've read, and countless conversations I've held aren't going to be overruled by a two-hour film.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Back From Toy Fair

I got back from Toy Fair yesterday morning, my flight left JFK at 7:20 AM which translates to getting up at, roughly, 1:15 AM Seattle time. I'm still pretty tired (as should be obvious from the questionable grammatical structure of that last sentence), but I'm starting to get settled in. I'm sure I'll make a nice long post about Toy Fair soon.

Until then, here's a fun time waster: an online Spirograph. Those of you with an ounce or more of mathematical skill will probably find the site pretty cool because it explains the equations used to make the graphs, but I just sat there clicking the "random" button and thinking, "ooh, pretty pictures!"

Monday, February 16, 2004

At Toy Fair

I'm actually making this update from the convention floor at Toy Fair, in a lull in being a 11-hour-a-day PR / sales guy. It's been a great convention so far, but the hotel doesn't have Internet (imagine that it's the crappiest hotel yet, but it's in New York and is probably the most expensive - go figure). So, I'm on a modem connection here. I'm going to keep this short, because I'm tired as hell and I'll have to hop up soon, but I'm having a very positive experience here. And, it's been a good learning experience. I can't get a hold of Fred, but Jon's coming in tonight, so hopefully we can raise some hell together.

On that note, I'm posting and getting back on my feet.

Speaking of, Clark's shoes are the best, period.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A Full Day

So it was a full day as I prepared to get ready for my trip to Toy Fair in New York. I've got a stack of business cards, some clean shirts, my ties, shoes, and socks, and my boarding pass has even been printed. I'm ready to go!

Today was an unnatural day at the office. Andy IMed me and asked me to hop on a message board for some discussion. He said I should "try to stir things up." I was banned after the second post I made. And I didn't even advocate killing anyone - how bogus is that? But Ann Coulter advocates killing us traitor liberals, and she's on the bestseller list.

I'm in that strange, "ready to go home" time when all my work is done before the big storm, but my ride isn't here yet. I'll have to go annoy Jon or something.

Friday, February 13, 2004

A Day at the Races

Sports Illustrated has an interesting article about the role that religion - specifically evangelical Protestant Christianity - plays in NASCAR racing. Somewhat inspired by a driver whose car advertises the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ, this quote stands out:

"It's a chance to get the word out," Labonte, who grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas, said about the ad on his car. "Someone who is curious about Jesus and has never been saved sees the race and says, 'Hmmm, I'd like to see what that's about.' ... Maybe we can change their minds."

To me, this seems no different than high school jocks using pep rallies to thank Jesus for helping them win the big game, as happened often back at Union in good old Tulsa. But, unlike those jocks, Labonte (the driver) seems to be after something else: evangelicizing a member of the audience because that person is looking at his car.

I hate to make a generalization, but working strictly by percentages, it's very likely that most - the majority - of NASCAR fans are probably already believing Christians. Not only that, but they would tend to fall into the more evangelical kind of Protestantism that Labonte sells.

This is something that has always confused me about evangelicals - why are they witnessing to people who already believe as they do? I realize that, even though the audience may be Christian they may not have been "saved" as Labonte would use the term (hell, find me three evangelical Protestants who use the term "saved" in the same way), but by and large he's going to be preaching to the converted.

If he was really concerned about saving the nonbelievers, shouldn't he paint his car and drive it through, say, Afghanistan? Or Iran? I'm sure they would welcome his message of faith in those countries.

Dead by Dawn!

The first review for the remake of Dawn of the Dead is up, and the reviewer loved it. Sounds like this one is going to be a winner.

It's probably worth noting that the same site gave Cabin Fever a great review as well.

Anime Tips

This grew out of a frustrating experience I had in trying to find a copy of "Slayers," a great little anime TV show that was released on DVD back in 2000. It hasn't been reissued, so it's hard to find a copy these days. Very hard, I discovered. First, I went to Deep Discount DVD, who listed that they had it in stock until I tried to buy it, at which point they listed it was discontinued. OK, no problem, I went to Ebay, and was greeted with a deluge of bootlegs and questionable releases.

Here's my beef about bootlegs. I have no problem borrowing or using a bootleg or downloaded copy of a television program, movie, or song, but it's usually because I like to try things out before I buy them (or, in the case of music, I don't want to buy an entire CD for one song - but now that iTunes has put an end to that, I see myself buying more individual songs). Truth be told, I've never downloaded a movie and watched it, because I think the quality is so crappy that it's not worth it. I downloaded "Jeremiah," but that was because I didn't have Showtime at the time, and it wasn't available on DVD (I have since acquired both). I think bootlegs, in general, are dishonest. If you really like something enough to want to own it, then buy it legitimately and let the artists get money for it. I'm a little less worried about things like music, because the "artists" see very little in the way of actual album sales. I used to hang out on The Refreshments' fourms a lot, and the band posted there often in the early days of MP3s, Naptster, and that bruhaha. They explained that bands typically see only one or two cents from each record (CD) sale, and that the music companies get the rest. But, CDs are viewed basically as marketing material for concerts, where the band gets a much larger percentage of overall ticket sales. Therefore, the entire recording / CD industry is basically an enormous and bloated moneymaking machine that also happens to serve to fill seats at concerts for the bands.

But, things like software really should be purchased, if you're going to use them enough. I owned a pirated copy of Civilization, which is possibly my favorite game of all time. I never would have heard of the game, much less played it, if it weren't for my friend who gave it to me on disk. But, after playing it for several months, I went out and just bought the game. I decided that, hey, a lot of work went into making this really cool game, and if I'm gonna get enjoyment out of it, I'll let the designers eat, too. It's only fair.

Anyway, so a lot of these Slayers DVDs appeared to be boots, which lead me to one of my favorite home theater forums where I asked for advice. They pointed me to two very useful websites: a complete guide to spotting pirate anime, including merchandise other than DVDs, and a site where you can find a list of every anime that's been released on DVD. Both seem to be very good resources.

The also pointed me to a legit seller who had a copy of Slayers.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

So Tired

It hit me tonight that I'm extremely exhausted. I had to skip the first part of my morning and the last part of my afternoon at work so I could go to doctors. He gave me some blood pressure meds that should help, and I've renewed my resolve to walk as much as possible. Still, I feel like I could go to sleep just sitting here. I picked up comics today, and I watched The Texas Chainsaw Massacre finally, but it was a long, long day.

The worst part was, I finally finished a project at work that I've been slaving over since Monday. As I went to save (and I shit you not, I'm too tired to make shit up tonight), the computer froze. I thought, OK, that's bad. Then Madalyn's computer froze, and Bob's froze, and Tiffany's froze, all at the same time. Why? Because something went wrong with our network. I finally had to restart my machine. I never did get the project saved. I save periodically as I go, but if the network fucked up while I was saving the file, then that might not matter. I would be very very sad and very very angry if the file didn't get saved. But right now, I'm just very very tired, and as soon as I get Liz from the dog training place, I'm going to sleep.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Nighttime Blood Pressure

I'm not sure my new blood pressure medicine is working like it should. It's 8:20 at night and I feel like I just climbed a mountain. Liz isn't here either. I was going to do a cool blog entry, but I think I may just go lie down instead. I might have to ask the doc about this tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Lunchtime Article

Browsing my favorite sites at lunchtime (which, at my office, means I cram some food in my piehole while surfing the Internet for five minutes between projects), I ran across Spinsanity's excelent analysis of a certain Republican'ts appearance on "Meet the Press." Since there's no way to directly link to their article (although it's the first one to appear dates 2-10-04 on their site), here's the beef:

Asked about conservatives who have criticized increases in spending under his administration, Bush said:

"Well, they're wrong. If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined."

Bush's reference to "appropriations bills," rather than actual government outlays, indicates that he is referring to the annual totals of spending Congress has authorized through the appropriations process. (For more on this distinction, see Jonathan Weisman's Washington Post article from December.) However, rates of growth in so-called discretionary budget authority have not declined in a linear manner under Bush. According to statistics in the President's fiscal year 2005 budget (208K PDF - see table S-2), total discretionary budget authority provided by Congress (including supplemental appropriations) rose by 13.6 percent in 2001, 10.7 percent in 2002 and 15.6 percent in 2003. (Note: Discretionary spending is different from entitlement spending for programs like Social Security or Medicare, which is automatically determined under program rules.)

The President appears to have meant to exclude homeland security and defense spending, a qualification his administration has often made in its calculations. As Kevin Drum pointed out on the blog CalPundit, Bush's budget (see table S-2 again) shows figures for non-defense, non-homeland security spending authorizations (excluding supplemental appropriations) that are more in line with his statement - 14.9 percent in fiscal year 2001, 6.0 percent in 2002, 5.4 percent in 2003 and 4.0 percent so far in 2004. This appears to be the source of Bush's 15 percent figure. (The numbers change somewhat when supplemental appropriations are included.) These data come closer to justifying the President's assertion that discretionary spending increases have slowed under his watch, but the difference between total discretionary spending and non-defense, non-homeland security discretionary spending is important and one Bush should have specified.

This is not his only recent omission on budget matters from the President. As the Daily Mislead noted last Monday, Bush answered a reporter's question about the deficit on February 2 by stating, "The reason we are where we are, in terms of the deficit, is because we went through a recession, we were attacked, and we're fighting a war." This was echoed in the Budget Message of the President released on the same day.

This statement misses one of the largest causes of the deficit: tax cuts. According to an analysis from the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities using data from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the total cost in fiscal 2003 of the three tax cuts passed since President Bush took office was $166 billion. That represents 44 percent of last year's $374 billion deficit, a sizable figure for the President to leave out of his formulation. He has done it repeatedly before, however, as has Vice President Dick Cheney.

These statements should be considered alongside the administration's public relations offensive on behalf of Bush's "plan" to cut the deficit in half by 2009, which as we noted last week meets its goal only by leaving out a number of significant costs. Taken together, it's clear that George W. Bush is systematically attempting to mislead the public on economic issues. And despite the many critics who have exposed his tactics, there appears to be no end in sight.

A note: when I post material from another site or resource, I always indicate such in bold and give credit where credit is due. I will also begin offsetting quotes as I have above.

Eating Some Bush

ME also linked to this article on by Fred Kaplan about the "Meet the Press" interview. Kaplan focuses on something completely different: a new corollary to Bush's policies on invasion.

I'm just gonna go ahead and quote the important bits here:

"First, President Bush seems to be vastly enlarging his doctrine of pre-emptive warfare. This doctrine originally declared that the United States has the right to attack a hostile power that possesses weapons of mass destruction. The idea was that we must sometimes strike first, in order to prevent the other side from striking us.

Now, however, the president is asserting a right to strike first not merely if a hostile power has deadly weapons or even if it is building such weapons, but also if it might build such weapons sometime in the future.

The original doctrine, though controversial, at least stemmed from the logic of self-defense. Bush's expansion of the doctrine, as implied in his remarks to Tim Russert, does not.

If no commentators have noted, or perhaps even noticed, this new spin on American military policy, it may be because they don't take Bush's unscripted remarks seriously. (It's just Bush, talking off the top of his head. No sense parsing the implications.) That in itself is quite a commentary on this president. But it's not clear that these particular remarks were unscripted. Bush used the same phrase—"a capacity to make a weapon"—three times; it was almost certainly a part of his brief. Either the statement means something—that we now reserve the right to wage pre-emptive war on a hostile power that has the mere capacity to make weapons of mass destruction—or it's empty blather. It's unclear which would be more unsettling.

Second, unless the president is defining the "capacity to make a weapon" in an extremely loose sense, David Kay said nothing of the sort. When Kay said he'd concluded that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction in the months leading up to the war, he elaborated with this comment: "We don't find the people, the documents, or the physical plants that you would expect to find if the production was going on."

No people, no documents, no physical plants—it doesn't sound like much "capacity."

On chemical weapons in particular, Kay said that Iraq's infrastructure was destroyed by President Clinton's air strikes in 1998. On biological weapons, Kay noted in his written report last October that his team had found laboratories that "may have engaged in research." On nuclear weapons, the report cited only "small and unsophisticated research initiatives … that could be useful in developing a weapons-related science base for the long term."

A Hand In the Bush

Okay, I was all set to have a nice relaxing evening, not work any more on my blog, and just kind of chill out. Then I read Mark Evanier's Blog, which I do several times a day because it's an awesome resouce (and right now seems to be acting as a nexus for Julius Schwartz information on the Internet). Today, ME linked to a story by Andrew Sullivan about Bush's appearance on "Meet the Press," which I'm sorry to say I missed. Although Jeff Grubb summed it up nicely - another exposed boob on TV.

There are two main points about the Sullivan story that interest me. First, Andrew is a fairly conservative fellow. We're not talking Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, foaming at the mouth nonsense conservative, but I'd place him up there with the likes of George Will - conservative and relatively thoughful about it. And in this article, Sullivan tears Bush a new anus. He is merciless, especially on Bush's treatment of "fiscally conservative" issues, which it's clear that Sullivan cares about. Economically, Bush isn't fiscally conservative. He's not fiscally anything except greedy, which Sullivan alludes to but never spells out.

Second, this indicates that there are gears in the conservative policital machine that aren't functioning as they should anymore. Thoughtful conservatives are beginning to realize that Bush isn't the answer. Now that we've dealt with the Clinton presidency and all the negative things conservatives attached to it, like Monica's dress, we're left with a very real problem and I think many of them realize they've been backing the wrong horse. And Bush is beginning to feel the heat. The Salon article I linked to below said he was nearly shouting Howard Dean-style about Democrats this and that. He may be able to get away with that in Springfield, Missouri, where he can beat a Bible and claim it's all better, but I think most Americans are getting fed up with the singing, dancing monkey.

In a strange way, this is renewing my faith that the American people can eventually make the right decision, and when faced with overwhelming stupidity, even the largest of patriotic suppositories seems kind of bad. And, when you don't have the negativity of the Clinton administration to carry you along, and you're left with a useless war, no weapons of mass destruction, no Osama bin Laden, and thousands of corpses to show for it, money and Karl Rove can only carry you so far.

Bush in Springfield

A news story at caught my eye, because Bush, in a trip to Springfield, Missouri, where I went to school, said of Democrats:

"They're going to raise the taxes and increase the size of the federal government, which would be bad for the United States economy."

That's pretty balsy coming from the man who created the Department of Homeland Security, the largest government bureaucracy in United States history.

The funny thing is, he sounds like a lost little puppy constant whining the same little whine to find its way home and get a treat. Seriously. Republican'ts have been trying to sell America on the notion that liberals are these evil tax-and-spend, Big Governement-loving psychopaths since the 1980s. But it was a Republican't that created this department. It was a Republican't who, in the 1980s, outspent, with both existing and nonexisting tax funds, the only other world superpower. It was a Democrat who, less than four years ago, had the most fiscally responsible administration going since Reconstruction (that's over 100 years for you poor Republican'ts who can't remember history).

But by God, Bush bought worms at Bass Pro! Fucker.

Starship Poopers

Mongoose Publishing secured the rights to do a series of games based on the Starship Troopers license. What's cool is that they have the rights to do stuff based on the book, the movies, and the television shows, which means they can tie all the continuities together in their stuff. Most notably, they have the rights to do an RPG and a CMG. I'd love to play either one; I have a feeling I'll be picking up the RPG, and a Starship Troopers CMG would be one of the only ones outside of my company's games that I'd take the time to sit down, learn, and play. None of the other minis games that have debuted or been announced yet hold any interest for me whatsoever.

In today's "Blog of the Day" category, we have a lovely offering called "i am bored as shit." I don't suggest clicking on the link, but he did call San Diego a "shithole." That's kind of funny, because when I first came to Seattle, I overheard a conversation on the bus between two kids about how there was "nothing to do here." People who live in certain places, who have zero perception of life outside of those places, often overlook all the cool stuff that's right there. I mean, I came from a real shithole (Tulsa) and there were still things to do there, if you got off your ass and looked.

Liz is cooking something that smells really fucking good, and my hunger level is approaching rabid beast. Today was the second day in a row for walking work-outs (I'd been spacing them out by days), and I'm hoping to make tomorrow my third, weather-permitting. I keep running into the same frustrating thing, though: when I work out, my body spazzes and I want to just gorge myself on every piece of food in sight, which really sucks when you work in an office with easy access to all kinds of unhealthy garbage-food. I'm trying to be a good boy, but it's really tough. At least there's plenty of water to keep me going. Ahem.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Let Us Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Kings reports that the last living member of the Bloomsbury literary group has passed away. Even though this literary movement largely died over seventy years ago, it's never really over until the last one has died. And she has.


Today was far less lazy than yesterday. I started the day off write, by spitting out 2000 decent words on Crocodile Man, which completed Chapter 10. Only two more chapters to go, and my first novel will be complete. Then, Liz and I met Brook and Wendi for some breakfast at a Greenlake joint called "Cyndy's House of Pancakes" (damn good eggs, and decent 'cakes - note: they had buckwheat 'cakes on the menu). After some chow, we went to the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle's main animal park.

I totally dig zoos for many reasons, not the least of which is that you get to see all kinds of cool animals up close. You can also tell a lot about a community and its values by examining that community's zoo. Here's a rundown of some of the main points I've noticed at zoos I've been to in the last five years:

Tulsa Zoo: Has a plaque at the chimpanzee exhibit explaining that evolution is merely one theory as to how human beings appeared.
Dallas Zoo: Has enormous animal enclosures with lots of room, but very little diversity; a very "vanilla" zoo.
London Zoo: Tiny animal enclosures but perfect gardens and flower beds.
Bronx Zoo: Animal enclosures that might as well be miniature parks unto themselves, and offers a free day every week. Located in one of the poorest neighborhoods on the east coast.
Woodland Park (Seattle) Zoo: Twice I read about human overpopulation and its effect on the rainforest, and three times I read about "shade-grown" coffee and how it affects the rainforest.

Woodland Park was a great zoo. Their gorilla exhibits were amazing, and I was the closest to a gorilla I've ever been - maybe two feet, with the glass seperating us. They also sport a really good noctournal animal exhibit, with some enormous African bats, one of which attempted to pee on me. Actually, between the bat and the crow and another critter I can't remember, I was nearly the target of three animals' excrement. Yum!

After the zoo, we jetted over to Fremont, had great Greek food, and browsed an expansive antique mall. I found some really awesome old blues records, but not having a record player, I didn't get them. After watching American Splendor, I kind of feel the itch to get some of those old blues records and try to scare up a player, but I really have no where to put such a device right now. So I left empty-handed. Remembering Roger's request, we found the large statue of Lenin, which I'll post a picture of if I can figure out how to do that in this blog.

We swung by Brook and Wendi's for a few rounds of Hand and Foot (cool card game), and now we're home. When I was resting my head on their table, I managed to give myself a nice, nasty bruise in the middle of my forehead, which I can only hope is gone by the time I'm supposed to be on camera at Toy Fair a week from today.

Tonight is Simpsons in high definition, and leftovers, and laundy laundry laundry.

Saturday, February 07, 2004


I finally got to watch American Splendor last night, and found I liked it a lot. I don't particularly care for the whole "underground comics" scene, most of which I find pretentious and overhyped, but Splendor was the opposite. It wasn't great, but it was brutally honest and a good story to boot. The comic-style effects they used weren't overdone or overbearing, and I especially loved the scene where Harvey Pekar laid into Letterman, whom I've never liked (I've always thought most late-night shows like that are run by unfunny, egotistical dicks plying for attention from the lowest common denominator - except for Jon Stewart). A totally different kind of indie movie from Lost in Translation, but a good film all the same. Now, I want to read the comic collection.

Speaking of comics, I finally got around to reading mine last night. The highlight was "Freaks of the Heartland," a new series from Dark Horse that looks very Stephen King. Written by Steve Niles, who also did "30 Days of Night," one of the most original vampire stories I've read in a long time, "Freaks" seems like a nice start on an interesting series. The book's highlights are Greg Ruth's illustrations, which manage to to mix a very surreal and sinister quality in with basic scenes of life on a farm. They aren't overtly scary in an axe-murderer sense of the term, but there's a general feeling of unease and otherworldlyness they portray that sets the tone of the book far more than the actual writing to this point.

This weeking is going to be relaxing. Today, I'm goofing off. Below is showing on StarZ so I don't have to spend money to rent it. Tomorrow, I'm going to breakfast and the zoo with Brook and Wendi. Next week, I'm leaving for New York for six days. And, when I get back, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra is playing in Seattle. I can finally begin my quest to take advantage of the indie film scene here!

Friday, February 06, 2004

Great Freakshow!

I noticed that CNN's been running a story about a baby with two heads. But they were too polite to show me a picture of this freak so I could gawk at it! Thankfully, ABC has no such "standards."

Two In The Bush

As Bush's approval ratings continue to fall, you can renew your disbelief at our President and his lack of leadership by reviewing this helpful breakdown of Bush's lies about Iraq and the holes in his budget.

Lost in Movieland

Instead of American Splendor, we ended up watching Lost in Translation and I'm really glad we did. I thought Sofia Coppola's first film, The Virgin Suicides, was one of the better indie flicks I've seen, and Lost really cemented my notion that she's a damn fine director. Suicides and Lost both have a slightly different way of telling the story than do most conventional films; I first labelled it a "female" method of storytelling, but I think that label is far too restrictive and not descriptive enough. It's slightly dreamlike, but manages to convey an enormous range of emotions without either hitting you over the head or taking the time to explain each one. For example, when two people are having a conversation, most directors will use the "opposite POV" camera technique, where the camera is on the actor doing the talking as if the audience were looking through the silent actor's eyes. So it's talk-cut, talk-cut, talk-cut. Instead, Coppola shot almost every conversation between Scarlet Johansson and Bill Murray with both actors in frame at the same time.

The effect was not only to create a more intimate feeling, but it allowed the actor's facial expressions to feed off each other, as happens in real life. The only time Coppola used the "opposite POV" thing was at the end, where both actors hugged each other but were beginning to seperate.

I wasn't as impressed with Bill Murray's acting job as I expected to be. He did a great job of portraying a tired actor in his late 50s, but whenever he started joking, I thought, "hey, Bill Murray!" And then I started thinking about Ghostbusters and Caddyshack. It was distracting, but I can't imagine anyone else in that role.

It's kind of funny that I'm praising Sofia so much, because I really don't care for her father's films, and when Suicides came out, the buzz wasn't that Sofia Coppola made a great movie, it was that Francis Ford Coppola's daughter was making a movie. She's really come into her own, and her style is nothing like the New York school her dad employs - it's a lot more LA, which I've always been drawn towards.

This was a hell of a film, and there are a lot worse ways to spend two hours of your life.

Am I Still Unconscious?

Painfully funny, that's how I'd describe The Gamers. It reminds me of movies we shot in high school and college, just with more production value and an actual DVD release. And, I gotta admit, the D&D in-jokes were great. I'm gonna listen to the Monte Cook commentary later. First, it's pizza time, and then I'll pop American Splendor in.

Dead Gentlemen

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with my buddy Larry from Tulsa, and he was telling me about The Gamers, a 45-minute film done by a group up here in the Northwest called the Dead Gentlemen. He said it was hilarious, and I've heard the same thing from people around the office (gamers all). So I bought a copy and it came last night. I'm thinking it's going to be tonight's feature film. At the very least, it's the only DVD I know of that has Latin subtitles and a psychological profile of the participants.

I'm off to play a game of Magic with Jon. Damn them for addicting me to that game again.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Troopers Part Two

Well, I did manage almost 1500 words on my novel last night, and then I had a great time playing some Castlevania on the PS2. Konami made a really good game, but like many of Konami's recent games (like Silent Hill 3), I don't see a lot of replay value there.

I ran across this blurb about Starship Troopers 2, a made-for-TV movie appearing on StarZ. I liked the first Starship Troopers a lot, because Verhooven took a libertarian treatise of questionable quality and turned it on its head, instead satirizing militarism, the media-driven nature of modern warfare, and the inherant contradictions in libertarian philosophy. Somehow I doubt the TV movie, which looks like a remake of Aliens (even down to the tagline), will reach this level of depth.

No Movies, No Writing

I think I'm getting addicted to this blog stuff. I sat down to watch Chain Saw and decided I wanted to see American Splendor instead. I got a half-hour into it (and it seems fucking great so far) and then I thought I'd rather come and work on my novel, but I popped my browser out of habit, ended up here, and now I'm writing something. There has got to be a way to channel this energy in a positive manner. I may see if I can begin that blog-novel-fiction-writing-thing I've been thinking about starting.

I've got Sleeper's cover of "Atomic" playing, and I swear I'm going to write a thousand words on that novel. I'm so close to finishing I can taste it.

More Fun With Templates

Congrats to Amanda on the brilliant success of her blog. It's been up less than a week and she's already got more traffic than I ever did, but she is providing some damn good topic for debate and most people (I think) are clicking on it for the name and staying because what she writes seems to contrast greatly with the pictures on top. It also demonstrates too that liberals can make erronious snap-judgements too.

Its also inspired me to try to clean this place up a bit. The title graphic isn't that great, but it's a start.

Texas Chain Saw is waiting.

Grammar Police On Patrol!

This article at uses the word "themself" in the caption of the picture when referring to an unidentified person of unknown gender.

There is no such word. Them is used in the plural. It's fucking plural! More than one is them! If you don't know the gender, it's "him or her!" That's it!

For Some Reason

For some crazy reason, this blog formats perfectly on Mozilla but looks pretty wonky on Internet Explorer. The whole thing is done in CSS, which I'm unfamiliar with and I've been trying to reverse-engineer for a while (with only partial success - if you don't believe me, watch as the title bar above changes).

I'm trying to decide what to watch tonight. It's either going to be another crack at Texas Chain Saw Massacre or American Splendor, which came out today. I'm not sure Liz wants to watch either, but of the two she's more likely to watch Splendor, but that's the one I wanna see. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Better Than A $300 Tax Check

Finally, a civil tax incentive that makes sense. Sign this petition for a national pizza party, which, you gotta admit, is a better use of tax dollars than killing Iraqi kids with bunker-busters.

Travel Yukon

While I was dicking around with my formatting (and changing my title - for some reason people think "The Pirate's Log" is either too bland or is some strange gamer's site), I stumbled across a blog that gives you accurate (to 15 minutes) forecasts for aurora in the Yukon. Through them, I found an extensive (to put it mildly) travel site for any kind of Yukon adventure. Being that I live so close to the Yukon these days, I'm seriously considering going on an adventure. This looks too cool to pass up.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Lord of the Right Wing

This cartoon is kind of basic and slanted, but Gollum W. Bush makes me laugh.

Good Reading About Misleading Reasons For War

Thanks to Mark Evanier for the link to a great article by Matthew Wall about the other times Americans have been misled about the reasons for war.

Links of Interest

Since I'm walking into the office today, I have the luxury of a little more time to dick around on my blog. I ended up writing almost a thousand words on my novel last night, and I realized that writing dialog between the characters is a lot easier than writing action.

This morning I've got an interesting collection of links. I took off the old gloves and went a couple of rounds over at the comments section in another blog and had a fun time doing it. Managed to work Kant in there; I'll save Heidegger for another time. Amanda has attracted quite a variety of people to her blog, including a soldier whose humvee was destroyed by mortar fire in Iraq (he's got a picture on his site). He's rabidly opposed to war and very anti-Bush, so the next time you see Bush addressing all those flag-waving soldiers, keep in mind that a lot of them are probably sitting there thinking "bring it on my ass, I could be next!"

Another link of interest is this collection of Friendly Dictators Trading Cards. For all those people who believe that Haliburton oil's $30 billion contracts in Iraq were not the primary reason to go to war and it was about some made up weapons of mass destruction or worse to liberate the Iraqi people and remove a dictator, just examine the US' history with dictators throughout the ages. We love dictators. We loved Saddam.

Late-Night Distractions

I stayed up late to try to work on more of Crocodile Man, which is at a point where I'm writing from two perspectives. One perspective is simple to write from. The other is kind of like pulling teeth from an elephant while it's shitting on you. Thankfully, I think I have one last scene to do in that second perspective and then I can be done with it for the rest of the book. It hasn't quite sunk in yet that I'm 20,000 words away from finishing my first novel. I've been saying all along that it's a practice novel, but maybe I'll try to clean it up a bit. You never know.

So I got into a pretty heated debate on another site while I was trying to distract myself, and although nothing came of it (as nothing usually comes from Internet debate), I did manage to lure a new reader (my second common tater!) with a great blog of her own. Someday I'll sit down and make my blog all 133t with a groovy template and all. I've actually got a really cool idea for the top title bar...

Sacred Cows

I love movies. Horror movies are my favorite kind of movies. I'd like to think I take horror movies pretty seriously - at least seriously enough to offer an informed opinion about a particular film (and, at the end of the day, what matters is whether or not the movie is scary, right?) When I saw the trailer for Van Helsing I thought, cool, a movie where they take the three classic Universal monsters and mix them with a Vampire Hunter D type character for an action flick. Nice premise.

I participate in a regular discussion on a movie and DVD site and those guys are savaging Van Helsing already. I mean, they are being really harsh, in the same way many of them hated Cabin Fever, which I enjoyed. I didn't understand that, and I don't understand this either.

They are treating the three monsters (Wolfman, Dracula, and Frankenstein) like these sacred cows that you'll royally fuck up if, heaven forbid, you try to re-interpret them. I've never understood this about people. I like song covers (Madonna's take on "American Pie" was pretty good). I like watching re-interpretations of Shakespeare - I saw an amazing version of "Troilus and Cressida" when I was in London - and I have no problem with revisiting classic monsters in a new way. I just do not understand the desperate, grasping way in which these people cling to these old conceptions. I think this same attitude is what's been dooming the Star Wars pre-quels, In a way, fans have built up the Triology to this almost mystic entity that no one could ever hope to reach ever again, no matter how many slick effects they use. And in so doing they have built the foundations for their own disappointment because they have created a meaningless sacred cow and they cling to it needlessly.

I'm sure there's some kind of deep message in all this, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out. But it still makes me scratch my head.

Monday Night Movies

Kevin loaned me Comic Book: The Movie, Mark Hamill's mockumentary about the comic book industry and comic cons in particular. Having been somewhat roughly inducted into this little club in the last year, I was very entertained by the whole experience, especially the stuff shot at the San Diego con. If you want to see what it's like to attend a comic book convention, the footage from San Diego is pretty much spot on. They even showed the WizKids booth towards the end. It wasn't a movie I'd watch again and again (and I'm glad I didn't end up buying the DVD), but Hamill did a great job showcasing the comic book scene, and did it in a much more respectful way than Trekkies did with Star Trek fans a few years ago.

As I'm nearing completion on my novel, I'm trying to decide what I should tackle next. I've got a couple things on the back burner, most notably the novel I started before I began The Crocodile Man, code-named "Red Mars." I've also been toying with the idea of doing an online, "real time" fiction novel as a blog, since these things are really easy to boot up and make an entry on pretty much whenever (see below, where I made all kinds of stupid entries when I should have been doing work).

Oh, and thanks to Chad for loaning me Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, my next foray into reading when I'm done with the comics I got this weekend.

Brits Report on American News

You'd have to go to another country to find media willing to talk about the government's admission that America knew in May that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

Good Reading That Has Nothing to Do With Boobies, Nipples, or Titties

Found an interesting Newsday article through Mark Evanier's site about Bush going AWOL from National Guard duty. The article was inspired by outrage from the right about Michael Moore calling Bush a "deserter" during a speech at a Clark rally. Clark should denounce Moore, the right says, because that's not fair to call Bush a deserter.

Yes, these are the same people who called Clinton a draft dodger for eight years because he legally sought a deferment. There are the same people who didn't demand the same response from Bush and Dole's supporters in '92 or '96.

These are hypocrites, plain and simple.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Nipple Boob Tit Breast Part 2

Well well, according to The Drudge Report (which I normally don't care for), Janet Jackson's little stunt was planned. Well, duh. But it also wasn't a pasty she wore - it was some kinky little nipple clamp thing. Which gives me an excuse to use the term "kinky little nipple clamp" in polite conversation.

Of Nipples and Nipples

Thanks to Janet Jackson, I get to use the word nipple twice in my headline. Hell, I can use the term breast, boobie, tit, knocker, mellon, gazonga, mammary, or whatever your favorite euphamism is.

Apparently, while I was protesting CBS' censorship of the anti-Bush ad and watching CNN over halftime, Janet Jackson showed the entire world her right breast. As the website points out, CBS has no problem with Janet's goods (the stunt was obviously planned, otherwise why the pastie?), but refuses to air an anti-Bush ad.

In the words of one of my favorite patriots: "fuck tha, fuck tha, fuck that po-lice!"

Horror Movie News

Brought to you by ICV2: the classic Universal horror films are all being re-released just in time for Van Helsing. The three-pack looks amazing - they stuffed like 15 movies in that set, so it works out to be like $5 for classic, restored horror films. I believe I will make this purchase.

Monday Morning

I don't complain about Mondays nearly as much as other people - usually I'm well rested and I can get a nice start on the week. It's Tuesday that sucks. Anyway, no sucky Mondays.

I'm sure I'll write about the Superbowl later. I did join the protest and moved my halftime viewing to CNN so I could watch the Move On ad on a network that hasn't completely caved to corporate-political interests.

So aside from scaring up some coffee and taking care of a few fires, my day looks like it's going to be pretty calm (although my supervisor isn't here yet, so that could change). The RPG Times has put up my review of The Book of Erotic Fantasy and my latest Retro Roundup column. It's not exactly classy work, but it's steady work.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

Great TV

Liz and I just watched four great episodes of "Jeremiah." I've seen most of the first season, but it still strikes me as fucking great television. I know I'm repeating myself, but I wish more TV shows were that thought-provoking.

So I'm deciding what to do with the rest of my evening. I'm tempted to try to work on Crocodile Man some more, and since I just downed a cup of coffee that might be a good idea if I ever want to get to sleep tonight. I'd really like to play some Castlevania, but I think Liz is still watching TV.

The day is winding down, and I'm listening to Uncle Kracker. As good a time as any to say goodnight.

A Good Read

In the spirit of great debate without resorting to name-calling, read this article by Paul Berman about the antiliberal movement in the 20th and 21st century. Berman uses liberal in the sociological context (a society based on rationality and order), and contrasts that with the various movements that grew after World War I in what was widely perceived as the death of such liberal societies. T.S. Eliot, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Joyce, and Hemingway were all influenced by what they saw as the ultimate extension of the horrors of the liberal society, a battleground where men vomited their own lungs because of gas and disease killed more people than the newly-created machineguns.

But the opposite of this - that something is wrong with society, be it the Jews (the Nazis), the bourgoiese (the Communists) or the Masons (the Spanish fascist movement that attempted to re-establish the Reign of Christ. No, I'm not kidding) - the opposite is equally bad, and the worst atrocities of the last century were committed in the name of making a society where the worst atrocities of the societies based on rationality and reason could no longer happen.

Berman's point, and it's a good one, is that this is the reasoning behind the motivations of radical Muslims like bin Laden. It's also one we've heard from the Israelis from time to time, and from both sides in our own country (Ann Coulter pops into my mind, as does Noam Chomsky). After reading his article, I'm not convinced that he's correct that this justifies invading Iraq, because many of the reasons for doing so are more of this antiliberal stuff as well.

We had societies based on reason, and we threw them away. I suspect historians will one day look back on the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries as the height of our "Roman" empire, and the hundreds of years we're in now as the decline and fall of it. Maybe.

From the Arch M. Department

I visited a blog called We'll Murder Your Face fully expecting to find it run by my old pal Arch. It wasn't, but it's still a funny title.

I brought back the comments. I shall not let psychos deter me from building a better blog.