Thursday, March 31, 2005

She's Dead, Jim

Terry Schiavo is dead. Thank God.

Here's my thoughts on the subject.

Death is a private matter for an individual. If you're going to share your wishes with anyone, you share them with a spouse or, in the absence of a spouse, your parents.

What Ms. Schiavo's parents did - parading their personal life, their daughter's suffering, and a court case they repeatedly lost - in front of the entire world is one of the lowest forms of self-serving grandstanding, and I hope their backwards "God" saves a nice warm spot in hell for them.

Jason's Laws of Home Improvement

1. No matter how much time you allot for a project, it will always take anywhere from 2-4 times the amount of time you allotted.

2. Whatever you purchase at Home Depot, you will inevitably forget - or not have - something. You could buy an entire Home Depot store, including the entire inventory, the building itself, the parking lot, the employees, and the land, and you would still be missing the right size paintbrush to finish a room.

Everyone Else Is Doing It...

As seen on Grubb Street and The Monkey King: a reformatted song.

The Man Comes Around

A Man

  • Going around
  • Taking names
  • Deciding free and guilty
  • When comes:
    • Everybody not treated same
    • A Golden Letter reaching down
Terror When Eating
  • Hairs stand
  • Will partake or disappear?
  • Trumpets
  • Pipers
  • 100M angels singing
  • Lots marching to drums
  • Voices calling, crying

Tarot Resource

Aeclectic Tarot, a website that catalogs over 500 Tarot decks.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Movie News: Dune

Universal was planning on releasing an extended cut of David Lynch's version of Dune this May, but pulled it without reason about a month ago. Lynch has always disowned the extended cut. Now, The Digital Bits is reporting that the DVD was pulled because Lynch himself is working on the extended version!

Movie: Beauty Shop

Ways in which Beauty Shop differed from Crossroads:

I had the option to, and exercised, walking out of my free screening of Crossroads.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

In the Hizzouse

Larry flew in for an extended weekend - I'm using the last of my vacation time - and we've been spending almost every waking moment at the house. Larry is extraordinarily knowledgable about home-improvement stuff, and we're nearly done with two of our major projects. We tore down all of the old, shitty drywall in the den (what was under the paneling). We tore the carpet off of the Box Man Was Not Meant To Contemplate, and found that - get this - one one side of the Box, the only thing seperating it from the Outside World was a piece of cardboard and some duct tape. So we reinforced and rebuilt the box, and then we built two small walls around it (framed them, installed them, etc.) so that the finished product will be an in-the-wall bookshelf. No more Box!

And of course, drywalling the entire room around it.

Then, the kitchen. The rest of the pergo flooring is gone. We had to put plywood down to reinforce the floor. On top of that, we installed sheets of concrete backing. Then, the tiles on top of those.

To top it off, we finished painting the trim in the (formerly) Pink room, and the entire room looks - well - amazing. The whole process has been chronicled in picture form, and we'll share it all when we're closer to being done.

Also, I think I'm going to schedule my Halloween/Housewarming party soonish, so that people can mark it on their calendars and make plans to attend.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Goddamn This Noise Inside My Head

For the last two hours, I've been listening to a strange, rythmic thrumming noise. As fair as I can tell, this noise sounds as if it's coming from inside my head. If I listen closely enough, it almost sounds musical, as if an instrument were progressing up a scale over and over.

Maybe I should get some sleep.

Sully Agrees

I must call attention to Andrew Sullivan's blog entry today, specifically "Conservative Crack-Up II."

My fear is that the zealotry he's referring to is fast becoming the centerpiece not only of the Republican party and the conservative movement, but a lot of people in the United States who have been made to feel that they have to go along with this whole thing or risk being labeled anti-American, or worse.

Capitalizing on Suffering

Here's a shock: a memo circulated among Republican Senators outlines ways they can capitalize on the suffering and contraversy of Terry Schiavo.

But hey, they're against gay marriage so they play real well in the Red states.

About that plan to split the country...

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Do the De-volution

Red state news: movie theaters in the South (Red states) refuse to acknowledge scientific progress by not showing a movie containing references to evolution.

I mean, it's their call and all, but I just have to ask: can they really be that fucking ignorant cowardly free to do as they chose, no matter how moronic?

Game Night

Back to the all-small RPG Jon's been running. Tonight was particularly harsh; two out of the three of us ended up on a slab. The perfect antidote to a long day at work, though. I've made some major progress on my little RPG project; I'm thinking I might have enough to send to some playtesters soon. I've been lurking around a forum called The Forge, dedicated to development of independent, small-press RPGs (like My Life With Master or Dogs in the Vineyard). I'm happy to say that there doesn't seem to be anything there quite like what I'm doing, which is good. However, it is rather non-traditional (no dice) so we'll see how people take to it. After reading Anne's blog entry for the day, where she mentions that she has to roll dice every five minutes, I'm a apprehensive about introducing the game to a community that has been based on the tumble of a die, and the only exceptions to the rule (the Amber Diceless System, for example) have been regarded more as curiosities than serious systems.

Side note: it looks like Carnivale is in the process of concluding, but goddamn it's a fantastic series!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films

A website called Arts and Faith has released a list of their Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films. The list is not only interesting from a film lover's perspective, but from a religious studies perspective: Arts and Faith is a decidedly conservative, protestant Christian site (they praise the evangelical subjects of the documentary Hell House), and they place much value on films as diverse as Blade Runner, Fight Club, The Lord of the Rings, The Last Temptation of Christ, Dogma and even Monty Python's Life of Brian (the last received a special jury selection). It's heartening to see so many of these films considered for their spiritual significance, even by those who might traditionally be offended by the films - or believe they should be offended without having seen the film first.

Monday, March 21, 2005

A Zombie Family Tree

Finally, an all in one resource for the geneaology of zombie movies!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Book: Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

I've been meaning to read Ahab's Wife for the last four years, when Liz first recommended it to me. For some reason, I could never get past the first twenty pages or so. This time, I made sure that I did, and I'm happier for it. Ahab's Wife centers around Una Spenser, none other than the wife vaguely referenced in Moby Dick. Ms. Naslund gives her a body, mind, and spirit and created a believable woman hero. The book covers a lot of ground, from the excitement and horror of whaling to the abolitionist movement and American religious discussions of the early-to-mid 1800s. The main character made me fall in love with her a little, too. The language is lush and extraordinarily emotive. A great read.

Conservatism Today

Andrew Sullivan has a wry comment that a conservative government that has to interfere in baseball and the right of a single Florida woman to live in pain or die with dignity is not a conservative government at all.

Frankly, I think this manner of meddling is exactly the hallmark of a conservative government, and I wonder why he's so surprised about it.

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream

That's what I've been doing since I got back: sleeping and dreaming. I feel like my sleep battery was completely depleted in Vegas, and no matter how long or hard I sleep to get it back, it's still only running at about 25%.

I missed a going-away party for fellow Alliterate and great guy Stan! last night, and based on the report on Wolfgang's Live Journal, it sounds like I should have gone. I nearly did, but I was caught in painting hell until about a half-hour before on the exact opposite side of town and didn't want to waltz in two hours late. Hopefully I'll get a chance to say good-bye to Stan, either before he leaves or at a convention this summer.

Did I mention the house? Yes! One bedroom is completely painted except for the trim. The other will receive its second coat today. The living room is primed and ready to go. And Liz, Brook, and Wendi gleefully demolished the strange kitchen island and the kitchen floor yesterday, to prepare for an upcoming weekend of tiling hell.

I promise that this blog (and my life) will become much less house-oriented at the end of April, when we must be completely moved in.

Today, I'm going to go see The Aviator again with Brook and Wendi and Liz, and hopefully hit the funnybook store, a duty I've been ignoring for too long. I'd also like to get The Incredibles on DVD while it's still at the first-week discount price.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Quote of the Day

"'All my life,' I answered, 'I have been a natural skeptic.' And I turned my life - is it too much to say? - away from her. My body seemed a boat, my clothes the sails, myself the captain."

From Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

What Happens In Vegas Stays In Viva Las Fucking Vegas Baby

I think I got all the cliches/free associations wrapped up in the title, except maybe Fear and Loathing in and Leaving. I'm back, a little worse for wear - I've got a bruise the size of a grapefruit on my left calf with a hard thing the size of a golfball in the middle of it, and I can't remember for the life of me how it got there. Oh, and I lost all my gambling money, but I figured I would, so there you go. But it teased me, and I was left with the thrill of the chase and zero payoff, like the entire city exists to cause a massive case of karmic blue balls before it bends you over.

I think everyone has a "defining Vegas moment" where they realize what the city is and more importantly means to them. Mine came while I was still up at the tables, and I went to the Rio to catch Penn and Teller with some co-workers. We wandered through the lobby, and by the bar sat what looked like a gorgeous, backlit ice sculpture of the hotel's logo. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be nothing more than a piece of cheap (hollow) plastic designed to look like ice. They hadn't even taken the effort to remove the seams from the mold. And I thought - and verbally expressed to one of my co-workers - "this is Vegas, right here. Beautiful from a distance, as all shining artificial things are beautiful, but plain and even a little shabby when inspected."

Not like any of this is new, people have been saying this about Vegas for years, but Vegas may be one of the few unique places in the world that defy description and must be singly experienced in all of its sensory-overloading glory. I could tell you all about Stonehenge, and from my description, you'd pretty much understand what it's all about. Vegas may be beyond such. Perhaps that's why there's relatively few books/movies/etc. about Las Vegas as compared to say New York?

The long and the short if it are, I lost 60, was up 40, and then lost everything. The last part of that took about 25 minutes all told. I had the good sense to walk away, but damn.

I saw shows. I saw Zumanity, the "adult" Cirque du Soleil show, which meant it was Cirque du Soleil with a lot of nudity, male and female, and implied and not-so-implied sex acts of all kinds. I admit it was very good; it was also my first Cirque du Soliel show. The music complimented the performance perfectly. My recommendation is to bring a date, because it's something best experienced with a lover.

Penn and Teller was disappointing. Their TV specials are better, and free.

Vegas itself - I have no desire to go back, but perhaps it will grow on me again, when I have time to forget. It seems the entire city is based around the idea of encouraging negative karma; it has a tendency to wear on the soul a bit.

On The Road Again, Home Again

I'm back from my little trip to GAMA 2005 to represent my company at that trade show, in lovely Las Vegas. Needless to say, I'm gonna get caught up around here.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

What The Fuck Is Wrong With People?

I've asked that question many times, and I'm sure I'll ask it many more.

Yesterday, we went to Lowes, a store not unlike Home Depot if Home Depot were the House of Usher inhabited by Deep Old Ones. Where Home Depot is large, easy to navigate, and full of nice people, Lowes is cramped, angles don't seem to meet up correctly giving you a headache after being inside after three minutes, and the staff seemed to be competing in some kind of surly contest. We had to make a couple of returns, so I stop by the service desk and get in line. Almost immediately, I notice that there's a guy sitting in a wheelchair next to the door. More disconcerting is the fact that this guy is bleeding from several places on his face. Even worse, the blood isn't just tricking out, it's at the ooze stage - I can actually see it kind of coming out of the bridge of his nose, a big spot by his eye, and a large patch on his cheek. I immediately go into Boy Scout mode, and figure that he has gotten hurt recently, and that no one seems to be helping him. I turn to another guy in line.

"Is someone helping that guy?"

"I think they're calling the manager."

The manager? What the fuck. They ought to be calling an ambulance. I go over to the guy and ask if he's OK. He nods, but doesn't seem especially coherant. The guy I asked in line informs me that the guy in the wheelchair fell on his way in, and his glasses cut his face. He must have hit his head right on his glasses, because at this point blood is dripping down his nose. I also notice that the plastic nose pad has embedded itself in his skin and broken off from his glasses, so there's a big hunk of plastic under the blood and a nasty bit sticking out of his face.

I look around for a second, and the manager doesn't seem to be anywhere around. I turn to the girl working the return desk. "Call the paramedics," I said. "This guy needs some help." She tells me she already did. I decided to re-iterate, and she assured me they were on their way. Meanwhile, no one else is doing anything, and most of them aren't even trying to help.

I went to the bathroom, scrubbed the hell out of my hands, and got some paper towels so he could start mopping up the blood. When I came back, some kind of manager was standing there. I handed the guy the towels so he could start cleaning himself up. There was enough blood that he soaked them in a matter of seconds. The manager left, and said - I shit you not - "I'm going to go get a band-aid." I suggested, not to her face, that she might want to get some bactine while she was at it, for all the good it would do.

I uttered a four-letter word and went back to the bathroom for more towels. The manager still hasn't come back with the "band-aids" by the time I'm back, and the guy looks awful. And no one else is helping him. For fuck's sake. One of the employees comes over, and they wheel the guy over to the area in front of the bathroom, because it's more convenient (and out of the way of the people trying to shop who don't want to see a bloody old man in a wheelchair, I guess). To their credit, the paramedics arrive moments later and I direct them over to the guy. I seem to have been the only one who's noticed that a piece of the guy's glasses is jammed under his skin, so I inform the medical professionals of this fact.

After completing my return a few minutes later, I went over to the guy to see if he was OK. It turns out his name was Warren. The paramedics say:

"Warren here would like to still do some shopping before he leaves, will you be able to help with that?"

"I guess, if no one from the store can help him I'd be glad to."

"You mean you don't work for the store?"


But there was something unspoken there, too: "if you don't work for the store, why did you get involved?"

"Because it's the right thing to fucking do, and if I were an 80-year-old man who just hit my fucking head on the pavement and drove a chunk of my fucking glasses into my skin, I'd damn well want someone to help me out, too!"

At least, that's what I would have said had he posed the unasked question.

What bothers me though, is that out of the ten people standing in that area, I was the only one who went out of my way to help.

Like A Good Neighbor

The neighbors are nice, but it almost seems like they're trying too hard to be nice. Like, going out of their way to do strange, little nice things for us. Example: yesterday as I was hacking down the holly bush (as in, destroying a plant), I commented to the neighbor that her flowers were coming in. Being that it's spring and all. She said that she'd used a big sprinkler full of fertilizer on her flowers, and attributed their blooming to this (I didn't have the heart to tell her that we had flowers blooming all over our backyard without the benefits of nasty, awful chemicals - I dedided the time to get all hippy on these folks hasn't come yet).

I nodded and said something nice. She then offered me the fertlizer. I looked at the plant I was in the middle of destroying, thinking I could make a snarky comment about not really needing it, but decided against this. I thanked her politely, and she slid it under the split-rail fence that divides our properties.

A few minutes later, Liz comes out to see how I'm doing. She gets the same treatment. Liz is typically the one who can refuse thing. I can be a bit of a pussy about not wanting to piss someone off or offend someone, especially if it's a) a person I have only recently met and b) a person I may have to spend a fair amount of time being around. For example, a new neighbor.

Maybe Liz really did take the fertilizer and go use it. I don't know. But I've kind of gotten the impression that she's trying to be super-nice to us, like she wants to convince us of sometime. I hate to say this, but it's setting off some of the same little sensors I developed as a social worker, when someone was trying to be super-polite and nice and all to distract me from the fact that they were beating their kids in the next room. Not that I'm saying that's what's happening, but it's got my screwed-up little imagination running.

House Work

The plan was to get up early, get our shopping done, and hit the house hard yesterday. The getting up early part, we accomplished. The shopping, for some reason, was like this negative-zone black hole where time twisted and folded in on itself, and we didn't finish until 1 PM (and I don't even want to think about how much it cost, either. Glad I've got a bonus coming).

Part of what we purchased was a cheap gas mower, because the lawn was too damn bushy for the pushmower I bought. So I put that together, and cleared the last of the tree branches out of the front yard, and then hacked down this awful-looking holly bush. Now, I've got a bunch of holly branches and twigs to use as firewood. Woohoo! Then I mowed. I pretty much had to cover the lawn twice because the grass was so high, but when I was done, I had one of those "realization" moments where I went holy shit, this is my house now. And the lawn is so small, the mowing took about a half-hour; not too shabby.

Liz meanwhile was inside prepping two more rooms for painting; the pink room's trim, and the purple room's floor. Meanwhile, I installed the new uber-security locks on our doors, which I have to admit Seth is correct regarding: those are probably much better investments in home security than a shotgun. Then, we painted, priming the purple room and doing the first coat of paint in the (no longer) pink room. Pink will need one more coat, but when we were done, it looked great. We made a solid plan for the rest of the house's paint scheme and, for the first time, it seems like we're going to be able to accopmlish a lot of our goals (most of them before we move in, too.)

It's a really nice feeling.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Moving and Stuff

We're in the slow process of moving ourselves bit-by-bit to the new place. I got a bunch of boxes from work, and we're trying to take stuff each time we go to the house.

Last night, the gaming group skipped roleplaying in favor of Apples to Apples, and there were no complaints. I told them a little about the system I devised, and informed them that I plan to experiment upon them at some point.

House Progress

The pink room is now a pleasing primer color, ready for a more artistic interpretation this weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A Rose By Any Other Game

I've been batting around an idea for a role-playing system for about a month and a half, mostly with Seth in our lunch hours at work. Last night, I put most of it into a rough draft. I've already got some changes, but I feel like I made a major accomplishment. And I gotta say, I'm excited to try it out because I think it will be really cool.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Feeding My Inner Redneck

With a 1989 Dodge Dakota pickup! YEE-HAW!!!!!!!

The price was right, and it runs and does what we want it to do. Now for the gun rack and the country music 8-tracks!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Back To The Rat Race

The vacation is over. Work and worry begin again.

I need to buy a cheap pickup truck. Anyone know where I might aquire such a vehicle?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Vacation Vacation

Friday night, I hung out with Andy and Bean, two of my pals from high school. We hit a dance club in Tulsa's downtown district. The high points: my friends bought me alcohol and the club was much less smokey than I'm used to. The low points: it was a meat market full of singles (I guess) grinding each other to very loud music, and apparently because the ventilation was too good, there was a smoke machine to fill the dance floor with nasty-smelling smoke. Yum!

I actually had a good time, drank a little more than I should have, but it was almost a moment like Zach Braff surrounded by his friends in Garden State: one of those "what the fuck?" moments where you're watching your friends do their thing, and you realize that the gulf between you and them is getting wider. But, at the same time, they are some of the best friends you will ever have.

Yesterday, I did a nice little tour of some people I missed seeing when I was here for Thanksgiving. I saw Jimmy, which meant I got to talk comic books and horror movies for three hours, and I headed up to Larry and Cindi's for dinner and gaming with one of my old gaming groups. Larry and I hit Home Depot where I found some really stellar ideas for painting and wall texturing, and we came back for smoked brisket and a marathon game of Munchkin with the group. They were going to role-play to playtest a system on of the guys is working on self publishing, but I was dragging some serious ass by that point and begged off to drive home for some sleep. I'm glad I did, because I nearly fell asleep three or four times on the drive home.

Liz reports that the lock has been changed on the security-risk door, and the panels have been removed from the den. I'm excited, I can't wait to take a sander to that last wall and get to work on priming it so I can try this awesome Venetian-plaster finish!

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Links

Considering I haven't picked up a club in more than two years, I did very well today - some holes I sucked on, but at the end I was hitting even with my dad. Got a couple of bogeys, even putted for par on one hole. I nailed a couple of drives (one of my major golf weaknesses) and had a couple of excellent chips and putts (my other major golf weakness).

Amber Waves

Jon loaned me his giant volume of all ten Amber books, and I tore through the first two on my way down to Tulsa yesterday. Great stuff. I'll post more when I'm done. Today, I'm going to see how bad a golfer I am after not having played for over two years.

Movie: Scream

One of the great parts about being on vacation is that you can turn on a movie at 9 AM (particularly a movie that your spouse won't want to watch) and be done with it by 11. I took in Scream, yet another "oh my God I can't believe you haven't seen that!" films. Having missed it at the time, I can certainly see how it had an affect on horror films in the last ten years. I would hesitate to call it good horror, but as a cinematic artifact (and pretty good film) it's entertaining and compelling.

Get some BRAINSSS (Please!)

Seth sent me this link, which has a variety of other sources, about a high-school kid who might be going to jail for his short story about zombies.

Reminds me of the guy who was detained by some half-wit Homeland Security officer for carrying a Dungeons and Dragons book.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The House: Day Two

We showed up last night planning to replace a door and work on a little bit of the trim in the den, to see how easily it would come off so we can start scraping the popcorn there. We forgot the door measurements, and ended up tearing off all of the trim, some of the wood paneling (there is great drywall underneath!) and Liz went to town on those two strange knick-nack shelves, removing them as well. We only made a couple of small holes in the drywall, nothing major. With any luck, we should be able to patch it all in a day or two.

I have to say, taking a crowbar to that stuff was an excellent form of stress relief!

Second Soviet Post In A Row

It's strange coincodence, I promise.

For you MP3 bloggers and Russian music lovers out there, check this out: a blog devoted to MP3s of old and current Russian artists.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Stalinist Origami

Must be seen to be believed.

Liberty On Film

Via MeFi, the Liberty Film Festival, billed as the world's first conservative film fest. Of note are the five films they've picked as the best conservative (narrative) films of 2004: The Passion of the Christ, The Incredibles, Team America: World Police, I am David, and Hero.

Since I've only seen three of them, Team America, Incredibles, and Hero, I'm only going to comment on those three. It's dubious to call Team America a conservative film, when it was mocking the conservative gusto for war, the decision to invade Iraq, and conservative hate for Hollywood. Sure, it mocked liberal institutions as well, but just because Michael Moore's puppet died in the movie doesn't make it a conservative film.

You can probably make the strongest case for The Incredibles as a conservative film, but only just. Its message of family, teamwork, and using your talents to be your best certainly isn't an exclusively conservative one, but it's one that conservative talking heads have managed to boggart in the last ten years (see my previous post on conservative commentators boggarting race relations).

But it stuns me that Hero is on this list. Hero is two things: a Confucian movie, and a Maoist movie. Period. SPOILER WARNING. When the main character sacrifices himself at the end of the film - which he does, as he could have easily deflected those arrows and escaped - he does so out of a sense of duty to the Emperor and the unity of the country. That's pure Confucius, and even though the Maoists would never publically acknowledge the Confucian connection, it's pure Maoism too.

Perhaps its somewhat telling that a film about sacrificing yourself for the good of your country - and more specifically, the good of your leader, whose life and continued leadership are more important than yours because of the instability that would occur should he die - should be named by modern conservative commentators as one of the top five conservative films. This follows the meme that "if you're not with us, you're against us," "if you question George Bush's plans, you're not a patriot," "if you disagree with the war in Iraq, you're supporting the terrorists," and so on.

The only question is, will they realize how Maoist they've become?

Movie: Boyz N The Hood

Boyz N The Hood is one of those "oh my God, I can't believe you've never seen that!" films. After playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas so much, why not watch the movie that started it all?

Boyz was surprisingly great. It wasn't just some blaxpolitation, glorification of gangs; director Singleton painted a very bleak portrait of the cycle of poverty in South Central LA. His symbolism sometimes erred on the heavy side (the opening shot is a "stop" sign riddled with bullet holes), but the guy was two years younger than I am right now when he made this movie.

It's beginning to show its age a little, but jeeze this was a great movie. I will probably have to add it to my collection.

Nose, Meet Grindstone

Work sure is fun when you're playing catch-up after having been out of the office for a week, and you're getting ready to be out again.

And there's all the fun of the new house in there, too!

Did I say fun?