Last night I hung out with Sean and Chad and a couple of Sean's friends. We caught a showing of Dawn of the Dead, which wasn't exactly a horror film but was fantastic in its own right. I mean, this is the kind of zombie-horror (hehe) that sticks with you for a long time. It didn't quite capture the complete spirit of the original, as far as Romero's political commentary against consumerism goes (although I would argue that a lot of people project that onto the original, and its appearance in the film is largely unintentional), but boy did it capture the sense of existential dread. Eventually, no matter how hard you struggle, no matter how narrow your escapes, they're gonna git 'cha eventually. It may take a while, but they will. There was the proper mix of gallows humor, and all the fun things that come with living through the apocalypse. The nudity, although brief, was a little gratuitous for my tastes, and I wish Ving Rhames had been given more to do. (Here's the point where I make the negative comparison to the first film). In the original Dawn, the small group - four people - allowed Romero to develop each character in his or her own right, so when they died, it had that much more impact. Here, though, even with a two-hour production, only one or two characters got any real development, so the personal impact was less, but the overall impact of dread was worse.
And, for the record, the film's last action sequence, which took almost twenty minutes, used that drop-frame technique I've previously despised in films like Gladiator. But here, it made perfect sense, and fit seamlessly into the movie. I hope this doesn't give other horror directors ideas, because I don't think it's gonna work very often and it seems too gimmicky, but I do have to give props where props are due: they did it, and did it well.
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
I'm kind of pissed off and disappointed in my self all in one. Last night, although I finished my around-the-house stuff (dishes, etc.), I didn't do a single thing I wanted to do for myself aside from playing more SSX 3 and reading a few chapters of Cryptonomicon, which I will finish eventually. I was going to try to pound out a couple of query letters for some freelance work (thanks, in part, to Jon, who encouraged me, whether he knew it or not, to get the hell out of my writing funk and move my ass). I was going to revisit a short story I think will work for the newly-revamped "Amazing Stories" journal. And, I was going to work on The Crocodile Man. None of those things I did.
To make matters worse, after walking in yesterday, my body went through one of its little freak-outs where it said "holy crap, we're losing weight, we've got to eat!!! So I had the uncontrollable urge to jam food in my cakehole all day yesterday, and even though I was pretty good about it, only had one bowl of Gardetto's (which is pure carbs, d'oh), I still feel like I ate way too much and I'm not accomplishing anything. I think this is partially because I don't have a scale in my house to measure progress, to see if I really am losing weight or not, but that's because I've convinced myself this isn't because of numbers, but of general, overall health. But I think that's a lie, because deep in my mind, I want to see the 180 lbs I weighed my senior year of high school.
And, this morning, it looks like I won't be able to walk in because of the rain.
The Unbearable Strangeness of Seattle
Liz and I get bonus frequent flyer miles if we hit three iDine restaurants before the end of the month, and it turns out this Italian place we get carryout from occasionally has quit doing iDine, so we've got two days to try to meet our goal. Tonight we drove up to Kirkland for some "family dining," which translates to the kind of restaurant where you can get chicken fried steak and no one bats an eye.
The other patrons only served to reinforce my belief that "Twin Peaks" was a documentary. It's not that people in Seattle are strange (well, they are, but that's not the problem); the problem is how consistently strange they are. At first I thought I was imagining it, but the more I think and experience, the more I realize that people up here march to a totally different beat - and sometimes, it's a little disconcerting.
It was another great day today; I walked in to work (woohoo!) and had a great day. I realized, though, that one of my major personal problems will need attending to sooner rather than later. See, I crunch ice. If I have an ice cube in my mouth, invariably I start chewing on it. That wouldn't be a big deal under normal circumstances, but since I started actively trying to lose weight, I've been drinking more and more ice water at work. Which means, I've got ice cubes in my mouth constantly. Today, I began my campaign to actively not chew on ice anymore. You'd think someone who suffers recurring nightmares about his teeth breaking would have done this a long time ago, but it's time to put my foot down damnit! No more chewing of ice!
Monday, March 29, 2004
A Perfect Day
Today was gorgeous; I wish I was outside more to enjoy it. I drove over to The Dreaming for a Game of Thrones tournament today; I took sixth out of ten, which isn't bad because I lost the first game to the #1 player in the country (it was a pathetic shutout). Afterwards, Chad followed Liz and I over to the Seven Gables to meet up with John and Angela to see Good Bye, Lenin!, which turned out not to be the comedic farce I thought it would be. It's a damn good movie, funny at times but in a dark, dry way. It's much more of a movie about the exerience of reuinification of Germany in 1990; I don't think an American film could have hit the points Lenin did.
Alas, I'm spending this evening indoors, watching "The Simpsons" and later "Deadwood." I've got an awful pain in my lower back that won't seem to go away. Maybe I'll crank up some SSX 3 and "fergitabouddit."
Sunday, March 28, 2004
A Fishy Day
We continued our exploration of our new hometown with Brook and Wendi today, heading first to the Seattle Aquarium, which stood in stark contrast to last week's venture to the Science Center. The Aquarium, unlike others I've been to, focuses primarily on marine life in the region (so there weren't a lot of neon-colored fish, but that's OK). The exhibits were very well maintained, and staff were everywhere to both help control the kids and answer questions. Among the highlights: a donut-shaped tank filled with jellyfish, so you could see how they move; an octopus lair, with Puget Sound octopi; a baby squid the size of a grain of rice, that hatched as we watched; an exhibit where you walked through a glass tunnel that went under the Sound, so you could get a good look at the variety of fish in the waters below; a "birds of the Sound" display, where you could watch puffins diving for fish; and the river otters, who look like larger, swimming cats. This may be the "must-do" attraction for when friends and family come, it was probably the best "local" aquarium I've been to (unlike Shedd's, which is more like a zoo o' fish.)
Afterwards, because we happened to be in the area, we went to Pike Place and goofed around for a bit. We didn't buy anything this time, but I'd still like to get one of those large Seattle skyline pictures for above the couch. Maybe when we get a house and have a better idea of where we'll be living and what our setup will finally be, I'll get one. Lunch was Irish pub food at a place called Kells, not bad and a little pricey, but they brew a decent house lager and had a pretty cool pint glass for the collection. We went to Carkeek Park but by the time we got there it was raining pretty hard, so we didn't stay for long before we took off to Brook and Wendi's place for a round of Chez Geek and some chattin'.
Liz is making a lamb roast tonight (yummers), so I'm going to spend my time watching X2 and staying warm. The rain really soaked me to the bone today, in that way that cold sometimes seeps into you and, no matter how many socks you put on, your toes refuse to warm up. Tomorrow is a Game of Thrones tournament at the comic store, and afterwards I'm planning to meet up with Angela and John and maybe bring James and Margo and Kytte along to see Good Bye, Lenin!
Saturday, March 27, 2004
One Memory Erase, Please
Kytte loaned me Terminator 3, so I finally got to see the last installment in the Terminator series. I wish to God I could purge it from my mind. The first two Terminator films were good-to-great SF, tackling the not-unimportant debate of free will and determinism. One of the messages in both those films was the oft-quoted: "the future is not set, there is no fate but what we make for ourselves."
Contrast that with ten minutes into T3 (and it's asinine ending), where Governor Ahh-nold says "Judgment Day is inevitable."
So the entire point of the first two films was sacrificed for a lot of heartless special effects and mind-numbing action sequences. In fact, those effects and sequences existed to negate the point of the first two films.
Friday, March 26, 2004
I've been avoiding posting about the Clarke testimony at the 9-11 hearings for two reasons. First, I've been too damned busy to keep up with it all, and I'm not in the habit of posting bits and pieces of anything. Second, I'm still not sure what effect, if any, this will have on the upcoming elections or the Bush administration as a whole. Call me a skeptic, but even if everything Clarke says is true (and I personally believe it is), the media will spin it into oblivion and, worse, the public won't care.
But I have been keeping a half-eye on the media reaction to it, mainly through CNN, the occasional random political blog I click on, and Talking Points Memo. The later had a link to this story by Fred Kaplan which, although somewhat reactionary, presents a pretty even analysis on the direct effect Clarke's testimony had on the 9-11 hearings. It's somewhat fanciful when it comes to the eventual political fallout from this, because I don't think he's taking into account the passivity of the American public, but in the political arena itself, I see this is a probable outcome.
Thursday, March 25, 2004
Zombie Attack Makes Local Paper! Story at 11
Thanks to Wendi for sending me a story from the local Seattle Times about the impact of zombie movies on popular culture. It's nice to see a paper with slightly higher-brow news coverage than what I became used to in Oklahoma.
Wrapped in Plastic
In an odd, Twin Peaks style story, the body of a porn star, "Taylor Summers," was found wrapped in plastic in Pennsylvania, and the photographer she reportedly went to visit has been arrested.
The details of the crime, and in fact the crime itself, are of no interest to me. It's awful that she got murdered, and I'm not going to pretend a sense of righteousness over pornography and those who choose it as a means of making money - that's their business. But, it can be a pretty scummy business, and has its risks, so the crime doesn't really come as much of a surprise.
What I find interesting is that the news stories covering it frequently refer to the "body" of the porn star - meaning, of course, the corpse, the thing that used to be a person but is now, at best, a dead person. This isn't any different than the way any other murder is reported; they make reference to "the body" all the time. But in this instance, there's an underlying sense of strangeness because of the way this person made her money - by selling her body, or at least using it, as an object of men's (and women's - I'm equal-opportunity) sexual fantasies. Now that she's dead, the vast majority of her former fans thinking about her "body" aren't doing so in a sexual way any more, but the news reporting the case still throws the term around freely.
Just one of those things that seems interesting to me at 7:20 in the morning. And hey, it's Thursday, and I'm determined to have a killer day at work.
Ghost Story, Waterworld-Style
Kytte rented Below and let me spectate upon it. Not a bad piece of work. Written by Darren Aronofsky (Pi), Below is basically a haunted house movie with a twist: it's set on a WWII submarine that has just picked up three survivors from a British hospital boat. Things start to get strange, and of course, all is not as it seems.
Belowmanaged to avoid a lot of the cliche it flirted with through the whole movie. It didn't tip its hand on the ghost too early, and at the end of the movie, it was totally plausible that the crew could have imagined the entire thing - there was almost always a rational explanation for what occured. It almost slid into horror-action at times, but didn't quite make it, thank goodness. All in all, not a bad way to scare myself for an evening.
I'm going to make some maintenance-related changes to the site, including adding a section on that right navbar about cool upcoming DVD releases, for the movie buffs out there. Of course, if you order those DVDs through Amazon.com, I will get a little in return, which will eventually help pay to upgrade this site. So if you want to buy one of the films I've listed, please do so through my links.
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
My Hard Hero Storm maquette came in this morning. It, like their other statues, is absolutely gorgeous.
I wish to get the entire X-Men collection. I didn't think I would be as thrilled with Storm, but they proved me wrong - I just hope they keep makin' 'em.
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
The Size of Cleveland
That would be my ulcer after today. Speaking of Cleveland, here's a joke I heard when I lived in Ohio:
The number of people who move out of Cleveland each year is exactly equal to the number of people who realize they live in Cleveland each year.
Things have been stressful at work. And busy. Thus, not a lot of time to post. And not a lot of things on my mind. I've got to learn how to relax more!
Although, here's a positive: I have been walking to work at least three mornings a week for the last two months! Go me!
Monday, March 22, 2004
Crimson Skies II
I've been spending most of my free time this weekend playing Crimson Skies on the X-Box. I think I'm about 3/4 of the way through the game. Playing through got me thinking about making a model zeppelin for my company's Crimson Skies CMG. To that end, I located a kit I thought might work. I've never done a balsa model before, but I've done plenty of plastic ones, so it shouldn't be too big a deal.
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Saturday, March 20, 2004
Racism in Your Neighborhood!
A little background.
My mother, who is half Lebanese Arab, and my father raised me to be tolerant and colorblind. Race, they said, doesn't matter. One of my first friends was a girl named Elizabeth (no relation to my wife) who happened to be black. I was, at most, around 4 years old at the time, and it didn't matter what color her skin was. We were friends. And that's pretty much how I've lived my life.
In high school, when the KKK came to Tulsa for their annual rally and cross-burning, the city council decided to skip the usual protest organization (I suspect because of budget constraints) and issue a "silent protest," which essentially amounted to doing nothing. A local group decided to organize an informal protest, got a permit to assemble at the park, and invited the community. Over one thousand people, including myself, responded. There were all kinds there - goths, skaters, blacks, whites, (American) indians, Asians, businesspeople, students, hippies, churchmice, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, atheists, you name it. More people turned out for this "informal" protest than ever turned out for a city-sponsored one. When the Klan drove up in their trucks, with their little white hoods, we stood our ground and wouldn't budge. They shouted, they screamed racist remarks, and threw things and spat. And eventually, they left.
That was the last time the Klan had an organized meeting in Tulsa in several years, and I feel somewhat responsible for that positive development in Tulsa's history.
After college, I took a job as a social worker in the North Tulsa DHS office. Tulsa, like many southern cities, is still distinctly racially divided, in this instance at or around Admiral or Pine streets - anything north of there is "black." This section of town was destroyed in 1921 during what has become known as the Tulsa Race Riots, although they bear little resemblance to other "race riots" such as those that occurred in Detroit or South Central LA. The Tulsa Riots began when a black elevator operator was accused of groping a white woman. He sat in jail and, of course, the whites showed up and asked the jailer to turn him over so they could string him up from a tree (that's what Southerners call a "good lynchin.'") At the same time, a black mob showed up to defend the kid. Somehow, as often happens when two angry mobs collide, violence began, and the whites spent the next couple of days burning down North Tulsa. The governor dispatched the National Guard, who set up machine guns west of town. Their instructions were to maintain order by any means necessary. When they saw people running around like crazy among the burning buildings in North Tulsa, the national guard shot them. Gunned 'em right down. Turned out, most (heck, almost all) of those people were blacks trying to escape the flames or save their homes from being destroyed. Some estimates say almost a thousand people died in the 1921 riots.
So that was North Tulsa. And yet, my black co-workers and my black clients had no problem with me being white. I got my first Kwanza card working at DHS. I helped people overcome many of the stigmas still associated with being black in the South. Although the riot was long over, the broken trust was still there, and I'd like to think I helped at least one or two people overcome that.
Fast-forward to this morning, when a black kid comes to our door to sell us a subscription to the Seattle Times or the Seattle PI, both of which are owned by the same media conglomerate. We had a subscription to the PI for a while, found we never read it, and cancelled. They delivered the paper for months after we cancelled it, even though we made repeated phone calls to cease. Eventually, months later (I'm not exaggerating, it was a good three months after we quit paying them), they finally stopped wasting papers. So, Liz told the kid that we had trouble with the PI and we weren't interested. Then, she informed him that this is an apartment complex that doesn't allow solicitations (it isn't). As she closed the door, he called her a "white bitch."
It's not that he called her a bitch that got to me, it's that somehow, in his mind, race entered in to this brief exchange. Somehow, her refusing to buy a paper subscription superseded the fact that we weren't happy with the PI. It superseded both of our personal lives, the things we'd done and the bits of good I'd like to think we've both brought to this world, especially in terms of race relations. It showed that he was the exact opposite of the color-blindedness I've been raised to believe in since the day I was born, the kind that allows 4 year olds to play together and not even realize we were of different "races."
So understand, when I wanted to lunge through the door and punch him in the face, it was partially because I thought he might need a bit of an education in real racism. I thought he was the exact antithesis of the kind of progress I'd like to see. And, it was for the simple fact that this fucking moron couldn't help himself enough to recognize that race played zero role in Liz's conversation with him. That's really it - he couldn't be bothered to help himself. He saw a white person, not a person, and somehow tied that to her race.
It's sad, it's pathetic, and it really makes me wonder why I bothered to try. It sure would have been a lot easier to sit at home than get spit on by the KKK, and whatever I did that day, this dipshit's response would have been the same.
I finally loaded Crimson Skies into my new X-Box and gave it a serious spin. The game seems pathetically easy and a lot more arcade-combat style than air-sim combat style, but it looks great (the X-Box's High Def capabilities are amazing!) and it's a reasonable amount of fun.
The rest of my Saturday morning has been divided between a pretty ugly situation back in Tulsa and a pretty ugly situation among my company's online community. As usual (among the later - the former isn't a topic for public discussion), negativity, emotion, and sometimes out-and-out hatred reign. If there's one part of my job I absolutely hate, it's dealing with gamer geeks (like myself). Because, like myself, they are often negative in their responses, knee-jerk in their responses, and always convinced that they are right.
If there's one thing my job has done, it's taught me to re-examine my ways of looking at the entire world, and these folks in particular. I learned this somewhat at DHS, and I think it's an extremely valuable lesson - don't leap to judgments, don't assume the worst, and show a little freakin' empathy. I know that's difficult for a lot of people these days - hell, there are people in my office who would probably shrivel and die if I suggested this course of action to them - but it's really the only way to get along. Otherwise, you get mired in that negativity and eventually it eats you until there's nothing left. And that's not cool.
We finally sat down and spectated upon Costner's Open Range this evening. Highly recommended; the slow pacing only gave the final gunfight - and it was a hell of a gunfight - even more power. When movies are high-octane, over-the-top violence, it's good to note that good direction and storytelling can make one person's death all the more powerful, as it doesn't desensitize the audience early on in the film, instead slowly introducing them to the world and making them feel each bullet as it tears flesh.
I don't know why, but I'm in the mood to watch more Westerns. Once Upon a Time in the West and High Noon were both blind buys I haven't watched yet, so I'll probably veg to one or both tomorrow morning. Angela and John are coming over tomorrow night, so we should have a good time goofing off and eating dinner. I'm hoping we can try out Scene It, the DVD trivia game I picked up recently.
Revisiting Some Old Friends
Going through my CD collection, I was pleasantly surprised to re-discover "Sonoran Hope and Madness," the second CD from Tempe, Arizona band Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers. Two out of the five Peacemakers used to be part of The Refreshments, one of the most underrated bands of the mid-to-late 1990s. I looked up their website and found their community alive and thriving. I pulled out some of my old concert boots, gave them a spin, realized I'm missing one of their really good recordings, posted about it on their forums, and checked out the rest of the site. They've got a DVD and a new CD I'm probably going to order.
And, while I'm at it, I just discovered a treasure trove of rare Refreshments MP3s.
Friday, March 19, 2004
Lazy night tonight. I broiled some steaks and watched Se7en while Liz read. I'd forgotten how gross parts of that movie are, but I'd also forgotten how director David Fincher can tell such a tight story. And the DVD transfer looked absolutely amazing on the big TV; because of the built-in line doublers, it was nearly indistinguishable from true high-def.
I wrote about 500 words on Crocodile Man this morning, and I'm hoping I can squeeze 500 more out before I go to bed. That would put me right around 3000 for Chapter 11, and only 17,000 away from my goal.
Thursday, March 18, 2004
Fun With "Dead" Languages
I haven't blogged about The Passion of the Christ in a long time, mostly because I didn't care to lower myself to the insipid level of discussion surrounding the film's anti-Semitism and the familial beliefs of the director - the film should be judged on its own merits and by those merits alone. But, in keeping with today's apparent linguistic theme, here are two blurbs that inadvertantly deal with The Passion.
The Seattle Times ran a very interesting story on Aramaic and how the language is, in fact, far from dead. And, from a story in the Chicago Tribune, is a great story about the linguist who translated the subtitles used in the movies.
Me, I'll wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it in the comfort of my own home.
Fun With Dialects
Liz sent me a great link this morning that maps people's responses to different questions of dialect - for example, catty-corner vs. kitty-corner vs. diagonal. They are organized by dialectical difference, and are worth a browse.
Shitty Day (Plus Game of Thrones)
Today was just all-around shitty, stinky, farty, smelly. I can't place a finger on why exactly, but it was just generally miserable. Anything I write (including this blog entry) seems clunky and stupid. There wasn't much to do at work, so I was seduced by the easy availability of the Internet to dink around on - but I only visited a few sites, over and over. Blah.
Liz is at the animal shelter tonight, but I don't really care to watch a movie. I thought I wouldn't work on the computer, but I'm gonna see if I can knock some out on the next portion of my novel. I'd really like to finish.
Incidentally, I just entered the results for Sunday's Game of Thrones tournament, and it turns out in the 9th ranked player in the state. That's kind of cool. There are more than a hundred players ranked, so it's not just a hollow, meaningless number (well, OK, it is, but give this one to me, OK?)
I need to organize my GoT cards, and probably my INWO cards too. I think I can use the site that I used to finish up my Heresy collection to finish those collections as well. I'd rather not go the eBay route for Game of Thrones stuff, and I suppose I can always do some swapping with FFG for things, so we'll see.
My Storm maquette should be here tomorrow or Friday, and my Groo statue should arrive soon as well. I'm super-psyched; I just need a cool display case for these things. Of course, I might as well wait until I get a house.
Lastly (this kind of became another Odds N' Ends post, didn't it?) Leslie sent me a link to the Top 100 IM conversations. Pretty funny stuff. LOL ROFL.
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Odds and Ends
I haven't had a lot of time to post in the last couple of days, and there really hasn't been anything compelling to post about. Monday moved like molasses. Yesterday was about the same. Now that I'm caught up (as caught up as I can be) on the "busy work" at work, I can begin focusing on other things - like real public relations stuff. Pitching stories, nominating us for awards, that kind of thing. The problem is, I've never done a lot of that stuff, so I'm basically going to be poking around in the dark.
In other news, my webpage seems to be permanently kaput, and I'm not sure how to go about talking to Yahoo about opening it up again. I really don't want to get a new web hosting package, because most of them are around three or four times what I way paying for my last package (as the technology increases and becomes less expensive, the cost to rent such technology has grown by a factor of four. Explain that.) Right now, I'd almost rather keep the blog and use something else to host images, such as the now-absent clever little Groo title image I made, and various other pictures. For example, I'd like to chronicle what I've been doing with my coins, so I can show readers progress and differences between cleaning methods.
So there you go: nothing to link to, no articles of interest, nothing inflammatory. I've been debating on a forum a little, but it seems to have dropped off. I'm now listed as one of the moderators at RealmWorx' Game of Thrones site as well. I suppose that means I should learn how to moderate.
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Another Manic Monday
Most of today was wasted in meetings. At least I felt like I accomplished, or at least was privy to, some of the more esoteric aspects of my job, which is cool. Everyone in the office is taking off for GAMA, so I'll pretty much be alone. Brook is coming over tomorrow for a bad movie night with Chad, so that should be fun.
Yesterday's Game of Thrones tournament went pretty well - we had 5 people show up, which was unexpected. I'm trying to get a more solid player base going in this area - I suspect there are a lot of smaller groups who have no way to communicate with each other and advertise their games other than the pretty crummy website Fantasy Flight runs, so I started a Yahoo Group to allow us to communicate better. We'll see how interested people are, and work from there. So far, the response has been pretty good.
If Jon is reading this, Big Purple is a go, and I'll have some cheddar for you right when you get back. That, and have a good time - you're a prince.
Oh yeah: I won an Ebay auction today (I SNIPEd it actually!) for a Storm maquette from Hard Hero. This one is an artist proof, #13 of 200, and it's signed by the sculptor. And I got it at less than half of the retail price. I rule!
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
That title really has nothing to do with this blog entry, other than it just got the song stuck in my head and it's Sunday today.
Because this entry is about yesterday.
Yesterday was an uncommonly beautiful day here. I mean, it was gorgeous. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun was warm but the breeze kept it cool enough to be enjoyable. Perfect walking-with-jeans-and-t-shirt weather. Liz and I headed out to the Space Needle around 11. We took a roundabout way, ditching the car in Bellevue and bussing in so we wouldn't have to pay to park the damn thing. I'm glad we did, because it means better exercise and we took the monorail from Westlake Center to Seattle Center (the later being home 'o the Needle). We lucked out, because the monorail was free from 10 - 3 yesterday due to a huge St. Patrick's Day parade that we didn't attend.
The Needle was OK. The view was great, and I was amused, pleased, and frightened all at the same time to discover that I could indeed purchase Starbucks coffee in the observation deck of the Needle. I didn't freak out on the elevator ride up either - I thought I would as soon as I saw the elevator had glass windows.
We then walked around the Seattle Center for a while. We skipped the EMP (you have to pay to get in, and our Citypass didn't cover it) but we went to the Pacific Science Center. We opted against seeing an IMAX movie (between the shows the run on the INHD channels and my previous experiences with IMAX, I've seen most of them). Without the movie, the museum took, oh, about 15 minutes to go through. I'll summarize my experience in two words, two much-overused, but in this case wholly accurate, words.
To be fair, I've got COSI as a point of reference, where it takes you at least a good day to see everything. Hell, even the old science museum in Tulsa was better than Pacific Science Center before it was converted into a school. I'm really, really glad I didn't pay money to get into this place.
At this point, we were kinda hungry and I wanted to get comics so we bussed up to the UD, where there is plenty of stuff to eat. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant on Portage Bay in Lake Union, which supposedly has the best fish tacos in the world. Since I've never eated fish tacos I have nothing to compare them to, but they were pretty good. We noticed that this place also rented kayaks, and since I'd never been kayaking, I thought we could give it a shot. I've been punting and canoeing and sailing, but never kayaking. It's not hard to learn, though.
The only problem with the kayak is the way you have to sit in order to operate the pedals (there's a small, pedal-controlled rudder). If your legs aren't situated correctly, it's very easy (as I discovered) for them to fall asleep. And once they're asleep, it's easy for them to slip off the pedals. And once they slip off the pedals while asleep, it's very hard for you to put them back on the pedals until they wake up, which in my case took a good fifteen minutes. During this time, the rudder was pointed to the right. So, it was a struggle to keep the stupid thing on a straight path. The guy who rented us the kayak was understanding, though, and didn't charge us (we made up for it by putting a big tip in the jar). So after an hour of sleepy legs and dinking around on Lake Union, we headed up to the comic store, where I picked up this week's crop o' funnybooks. Then we bussed back to Bellevue and drove home.
Between the walking and the kayaking, it didn't take long to fall asleep last night.
Today, a Game of Thrones tournament at the WizKids store. Tomorrow, back to work.
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Last night, because my life is one exciting social event after another, I stayed in and watched most of the Season 3 episodes of "Futurama," and the 1978 version of Dawn of the Dead. Yup, that's the extent of my social life: staying in and watching sci-fi cartoons and old horror movies.
Today looks like it's going to be a beautiful day (as much as any day here looks like it will be beautiful and actually stays that way for longer than an hour). We're going to try to use our Citypasses (tickets Brook and Wendi got us to get into a bunch of Seattle attractions for free), and take a trip down to the Space Needle and some other stuff in that general area. I think it might be fun to take a bus down there, so we can ride the monorail too. Plus, we should get some good walking in.
Speaking of, I've been walking to work at least three times each week (weather permitting). It's getting to be routine, which is good. As of my last doctor's visit, I've lost six pounds (in three weeks, so that's right at the perfect 2-pounds-per-week level) and my blood pressure is normal. It's great, I finally feel like I can take control of my weight and get back on track. I don't know if I'll ever see my high school weight again, but goddamnit, I'm gonna try!
Friday, March 12, 2004
The stragglers from my last online DVD order keep coming in. One of these was Wrong Turn, a recent horror flick (made last year). It's basically a chop-fest in the tradition of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hills Have Eyes. Long on blood and short on everything else (including running time, it was only 84 minutes), it had some very memorable deaths. Five minutes into the film, you pretty much knew who was going to die. How those people died was exciting (one girl's death in particular was amazing, funny, and absolutely disgusting at the same time - I wanted to rewind the DVD, but Liz said "if I ever have to watch that again, I'm going to throw up" so I didn't). So props for some creative death scenes.
Also, props to them for not turning this into a post-Scream PG-13 horror movie. Most of the horror films these days have been trimmed and cut to an audience-friendly PG-13, which translates to more money for the studios, because they can market them to their largest demographic - those teenyboppers with the annoying pagers and the ringing cellphones who don't know how to shut the fuck up in a movie theater. This actually stemmed from the Christian Right forcing movie studios to make films that are more "family-friendly." At first, these studios told the Christian Right to take a long walk off a short pier (which is not an unexpected reaction when dealing with the Christian Right). But then, just to make them happy, the movie studios started tinkering with films, cutting them to achieve a PG-13 rating. And the studios discovered that these films made a hell of a lot more money, because their target demographic could flock to them every Friday and Saturday night, dropping obscene amounts of money at a theater. Thus, they began forcing many more movies to be cut down to the more marketable PG-13.
But not, I'm happy to say, Wrong Turn. They kept it true to its psycho-inbred-killing-redneck-cannibals-in-the-woods roots, and for that I'm grateful. It wasn't a great movie by any means, or a particularly great horror movie, but when the cannibals are dismembering the first corpse in the first fifteen minutes of the film, you know it's not going to spare anything. And it didn't.
Link of the Day
I really don't link frequently enough to call it a link of the day, but here ya go: I found this through Wolfgang's blog: a monthly column called "Gothic Miss Manners." It's very much like it sounds - a manners and etiquitte column for goths. Many of her suggestions extend beyond the goth society, and it's refreshing to find such a well-spoken lady online these days. If you have some time, her columns are worth reading.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
In my neverending quest for good horror cinema, I've inevitably experienced Dario Argento and his large corpus of Italian horror. I found Susperia confusing and not really scary, but my friend and uber-horror-geek Jimmy sent me to this page, which offers a great synopsis of some of Argento's films. Opera in particular sounds good enough to blind-buy.
Life Imitates Art II
I like to joke about using space and things in it (like the moon) as a backdrop for projecting ads. To me, this seems one of the most offensive uses of capitalism I can imagine, and is inspired in no small part by James Morrow's suggestion in The Eternal Footman that advertisers would use God's floating skull to pimp their products if they could.
And, when get out of bed and read on the morning news that someone has developed and patented a machine to do just this, it makes me want to go back to bed and hide under the blankets.
Cruisin' for a Bruisin'
The old political struggle is starting to heat up. BushCo is going to sue liberal organizations over campaign finance laws, Kerry called Republicans "crooked," BushCo's ads are under attack from 9-11 survivors, and Americans are sick of the whole thing and each other. Conservatives think they can censor Howard Stern, while Liberals think that being down-and-out gives them the right to resort to childish attacks.
But I'd rather not blog about all this.
Rather, for the second time in a week, the White House has announced that we're now going to use high-tech means to find bin Laden. A few days ago, it was "we will begin looking for him 24/7."
What the fuck? You mean to tell me that, up until this point, we've only been looking for bin Laden during banker's hours? Or that we've been using old technology to try to find him? What, are they out there reading bumps on people's fucking skulls, but stopping for fucking tea?
The utter stupidity of this astounds me. If we weren't looking harder before, why? If we weren't at this 24/7, and using every piece of equipment at our disposal, then whoever's commanding this army is the greatest traitor in America. Not some Ann Coulter bullshit, but the Republican'ts in charge of this.
And if we have been doing this stuff all along, why announce it all over again? Are we preparing for the Great bin Laden Capture (just in time for re-election?)
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
From the Horse's Mouth
Found a link to this transcription of a recent conversation with Bush's press secretary on Mark Evanier's blog. The doublespeak is amazing, and the way that poor bastard keeps dodging the questions is certainly admirable (because I'm doing PR at the moment), but it, more than anything I've seen, shows the obvious hypocrisy inherant in the Bush administration.
I'm glad the press is finally savaging them about this. It's about goddamned time.
Typically I don't register free software, because I don't use it nearly enough to justify the expense. Programs like WinZip, or SmartFTP I may use once every couple of months, tops.
But DVD Profiler, I use regularly. At a minimum, whenever I buy DVDs, which lately has been every Tuesday. Recently, their servers crapped out and it looked like DVD Profiler might have been dead in the water. Thankfully they got everything sorted out, but I decided I'm going to spring for the registration fee, not only to possibly prevent further problems, but to show my support for a great piece of software I've gotten a lot of use from.
Changing of the Guard
My astute, longtime readers will notice that Rapp Scallion's Pirate Ship has dropped off the Links list. That is because the webpage no longer works. I'm going to have to find another site that will host images, but otherwise it's pretty much dead. That's OK, since I didn't update the site much anyway. In fact, I haven't really updated it at all in the last two years.
Also, I added a blog called The Monkey King after its owner, Wolfgang, left me a comment (he's into coins as well). I spent the last 45 minutes reading through it, and it's good stuff, check it out. He's one of Jeff's friends, and probably found me through Jeff's link (thanks, Jeff!)
Monday, March 08, 2004
Big Shiny Stuff
Normally I don't pimp products on this page, especially if I'm not making any money off of selling them, but Hard Hero is making a chrome Colossus maquette, only available through the web. I've been very impressed with their X-Men Evolution line of maquettes, and I plan to get them all, but since there are only 100 of these puppies I figured I'd provide you with a link.
Another Lazy Sunday
Cleaned the house, wished I had a bigger house (or a house instead of an apartment), did laundry, did dishes, read comics, piddled around, and played some Vice City. Not a bad day.
I think I'll try to work on the last part of my novel tonight. I have a hard time finishing things like that: I can't count the number of times I've played a video game through to the last level or boss battle and then quit without finishing. I guess once you get that close, you might as well have finished. With a tangible novel, it's not quite the same thing - so this time, I really need to force myself to finish. Especially if I'm going to start my new writing project anytime soon.
Sunday, March 07, 2004
Good Old Conservatives
Remember that National Guard guy, Calhoun, whose wife said he would never tell a lie? About a month ago, the GOP trotted him out to say that, without a doubt, Bush served in the National Guard from May to October of 1972.
Except for those of us with a memory longer than a sand flea and the reasoning of an eggplant or above, we remember that the White House itself acknowledged that Bush didn't even report for duty until October 1972. For the full story, check out this Washington Post article on the subject.
Also in the conservative bag 'o tricks is a raging Bush hypocrisy: at the beginning of the Iraq war, he told the media not to use images of flag-draped caskets of dead American soldiers out of respect for the soldier's families. Remember that? Not to mention that if the public saw images of flag-draped caskets, our support for his little oil hunt might waver. So this fine specimin of compassionate conservativism turns around and, in his very first campaign ads, uses an image of a flag-draped casket of a firefighter from 9-11. Don't believe me? Read about it here.
You know, if I woke up one morning and realized "holy fucking shit, the KKK is a member of my political movement!" I think I'd strongly reconsider my political beliefs. I wonder why more conservatives don't do that.
Answer to above: because I think the majority of conservatives are very well meaning but also easily manipulated, which allows a few assholes (like Karl Rove) to pull the strings and play them like harps. Which still doesn't excuse their complacency in these crimes, because you'd think that if they realized "holy fucking shit, the KKK is a member of my political movement!" they might be smart enough to reconsider. Maybe that's giving them too much credit.
More On Coinage
You can tell I have a full and exciting life when I get up in the morning and attempt to identify 1700-year-old coins.
I'm pretty sure one of my coins is very similar, if not identical to, this one. I can make out the "DN" and "EODO" on the left obverse, and the "MVLT" on the back, and its definitely has the same laurel-leaf on the reverse. My coin still has some dirt crusted on it (although that should change after another month or two in the oil) and the definition is better. Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in posession of a Roman, Greek, Byzantine, or Celtic coin and you need to identify it, the site I've been using, Wildwind.com, is outstanding. Their database is fully searchable (even for partial and reverse inscriptions) and is pretty extensive, with pictures for almost every coin.
A Fine Saturday
Let's see: discovering Roman coins, getting bitchy with a movie theater manager, and buying comics and Fruit Loops. Not a bad day.
Got up this morning and went to see our accountant, who promises unfortold riches for a paltry $100 an hour. We'll see if it pans out.
Then headed to Hidalgo with Brook and Wendi. Not a bad movie. Predictable, but good. It took so long to get in the theater that Liz and I decided to try to sneak our sandwiches in. The manager busted me, so I informed him that he should be glad for my patronage considering I could pirate the fucking movie for less than the cost of the tickets and watch it on my comfy couch on the 50" LCD TV without having to listen to children who don't know how to shut the fuck up in a movie or people who cannot or will not turn off their cellphones. He gave me the "bitchy customer response." I'd feel better about the whole thing if I knew a short little theater manager wouldn't go take it out on his hapless employees. The trailer for Troy looked fucking great though.
Then I bought comics. Lots of cool stuff, including "The Escapist." I'm going to go read them in a minute.
Then went to Brook and Wendi's and hung out, played some Clue, and chilled. Got home and didn't feel like cooking. Picked up a brush for my ancient coins and some cheap olive oil. Olive oil is the way to go: I think the lemon juice was fucking up the coins. Out of the 30 coins I got, only 1 seems to be "bad." I'm probably going to skip the electrolosis and try the oil for a couple of months.
Now, I'm really tired, my eyes are getting cloudy, and I'm headed to bed. After I read some funnybooks.
Saturday, March 06, 2004
I could post about Martha Stewart being convicted, but I'd rather just be honest: I don't give a flying fuck.
So instead I'll post a link to a great game (Flash required) that involves beating a penguin with a spiked club and making its head fly around. It's a great time-waster.
Today seemed to drag on and on at work. I was working on an article for most of the afternoon that just wouldn't come out. I felt like an ox blundering around as I wrote it. I get like that sometimes, where it's a chore to make a sentence that's grammatically correct, let alone makes sense. Because I leave Friday as a clean-up day for all the little projects I don't want to do during the week, I usually end up at 4:30 on Friday afternoon with very little to do. I'm going to teach Jon Game of Thrones in a bit, but I want to run to the bank before 5:00 and I feel motivated to do absolutely nothing else.
Friday, March 05, 2004
History Repeats Itself
Whether it was Watergate 30 years ago or today's Senate, Republicans seem to have a real problem with their staffers committing illegal activities when it suits their interests.
At least they've figured out not to try to cover it up any more.
Proud to Be an Okie
I heard a couple of days ago about a Republican lawmaker said "if George [W.] Bush loses the election, Osama bin Laden wins the election." Naturally something so stupid stuck out and I immediately tried to dig up who said it, but couldn't find anything. Until this morning, when I found this news story on Salon.com where the same lawmaker denied making comparisons to Democrats and Hitler.
There are two things wrong with this man's statement (aside from the obvious). First, it plays off of the whole "if you're not with us, you're against us!" motif that conservatives have been spinning since 11 AM on September 11th, 2001. The same motif that leads people like Ann Coulter to declare liberals "traitors" for wanting to give health care to infants. Second, it equates all Democrats with Osama bin Laden, and if taken in its best context (a difficult proposition) it merely insinuates that Democrats are in league with bin Laden.
And where is this lawmaker from?
That's right, Oklahoma!
Ah yes, Oklahoma. This reminds me of the heady days back in the late 1990s when conservative Republican Senator Tom Coburn said that Schindler's List shouldn't be shown in national TV because it was "pornography." Now, I don't find images of naked Jews about to be gassed pornographic, but conservative Republican Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma did.
Makes ya think, doesn't it? Because they sure aren't.
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Movie
Tonight, the Cinerama is showing what they are billing as a 197-minute cut of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, one of the all-time greatest films. According to Mark Evanier's site and his chronicle of all things Mad, the longest version of this film ever shown was 190 minutes, which puts this film at 7 minutes longer. Also, this is being billed as an all-new, restored version of the movie introduced by the director's widow.
I hope this is indeed a 197-minute cut of the film, and that it is restored - because this might mean that a kick-ass DVD release is just around the corner.
So if any of my Seattle readers catch this in the next hour and can make it down to the Cinerama, you might be catching part of film history. I didn't get to go, unfortunately, so you'll have to let me know how it is.
Thursday, March 04, 2004
Twin Peaks 2: Electric Bugaloo
Liz and I watched the first part of Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital last night. King apparently only helped grease the wheels to get it made, and didn't write it from scratch (although he did a good deal of work on the screenplay), but the "Stephen King" on the title was enough to attract me. It's a ghost story about a haunted hospital with some strange Twin Peaks-like characters, adapted from a Danish TV show that was concocted by Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark).
Rather than actually review it, let me offer some things that aren't scary in a ghost movie:
1. Revealing your ghost 25 seconds into the film.
2. Giant anteater totem-animals with unnatural teeth.
#3 really gets on my nerves. It seems like every fucking time King tries to do a ghost story (although I'll grudgingly except The Shining from this, since he did it subtlely), there's got to be a psychic. I do not understand this. Psychics don't connect me to the characters in any way. Quite the opposite - since I think most psychics are just psychos looking for attention, and "being psychic" is either a desperate cry for help from a clinically depressed anti-social person OR just a bunch of made-up hogwash to seperate stupid people from their hard-earned money, then I do identify with psychic characters. In fact, this widens the gap between me and the psychic character. So unless the so-called psychic is the first one to die, then leave them out of the story, because it totally ruins it for me.
And #1. I expected better from the Master of Suspense. Like, some actual suspense. Is the ghost good or bad? What are its powers? How does it manifest? What can it manipulate in this world? Is it trying to scare people to death to exact revenge, or just to warn them?
Blowing these all-important questions by playing your entire hand in the first half-minute of the two hour feature sucks. Potential horror writers, take note: this is not scary. Build to it, people!
That is all. I still love Stephen King. But I'm coming to the conclusion that he doesn't do ghosts very well.
Wednesday, March 03, 2004
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Not Much To Say
I haven't posted much about what's going on in my life lately, primarily because there isn't anything exciting going on. Not that my life is boring, it's just kind of mundane. Today was my grandmother's birthday, and I just got off the phone with her. Tomorrow, Liz is coming by the office to talk to a co-worker about her resume and portfolio so she can keep her job options open. Jon's girlfriend broke up with him. Angela wants to have children. Crabby and Roger and apparently Mr. Stick are talking about coming to visit this summer. I don't know if I'm going to Poland. The stress in my office is hovering somewhere around Mt. St. Helens level. It's one of those times when I feel like the little boat on the big ocean, kind of bobbing along and minding my own business while the world around me screams and throws fits. An appropriately Buddhist image.
Monday, March 01, 2004
A Non-Oscar Post About Charlize
ICV2 reports that Charlize Theron will play the title character in a live-action movie of the amazing TV series Aeon Flux. While I'm not sure about making it live-action (part of the cartoon's charm was its great style), this may mean a revitalized interest in the show - maybe even bringing it to DVD. That would be awesome.
Yet Another Oscar Blog Entry
Just what the world needs, another blog entry about the Academy Awards!
I feel that the Academy Awards have become less of a show about the best in movies, and more of a showcase for the most recent developments in popular culture, and a way to award those developments. By popular culture I'm not referring to art that very few people have seen, but I'm referring to that which makes the most money. And, since Titanic, that's exactly what the Academy Awards seem to be about.
No real surprises last night. I called most of the big ones with quite a bit of accuracy - Charlize over Naomi (Naomi should have won), Sean over everyone (but Bill shouldn't have won), and so forth. I didn't expect Lord of the Rings to win everything (I thought Last Samurai would bag Costume Design), but I'm not surprised to see it happen. The geek in me rejoices, but the film buff winces. 2003 wasn't an exceptional year for movies anyway, unless you count the big-budget, big-effects types of films, but I'd still rather have seen the cards fall differently.