Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My Tunes

Today's been an extremely busy day and I haven't had my usual 'goof-off' time so, I'm taking it now. Work be damned!

Actually, I'm finished for the day - I was merely flexing my rebellious muscles. Sometimes, I need to feel rebellion coursing through my veins like hydraulic fluid through pressurized lines, so I'll cross against the "Don't walk" signs, leave CD's lying about out of their cases and I've even been known to buy an apple and eat it on the spot without washing it or anything! I'm a wild man!

Okay, not really, but I was busy today and when I'm steady at work, I tend to listen to more music which can be a really good thing because I usually think of things that I haven't listened to in quite some time. I don't normally bring music to work, but I can always find something good online, and one of my favorite streaming sites that I've found is: You can search for songs by name or artist, make your own playlists, and find equal amounts of old and new stuff that you can listen to as you see fit. Click on the picture to go there.

And just in case you haven't journeyed to some the the places I go, The Scottish Lemon has some very cool music links (XFM Scotland, for one) on her blog. If you visit, be nice and say "Hiya."

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Oil

I absolutely had to share this article.

So, it's lunch period at Taylor Killian's high school in Westerville, Ohio and he decides to get naked, rub grape seed oil all over his (naked) body and run around (naked & greased) screaming and flailing his arms.

There was a police officer monitoring the lunch period who ended up shooting Killian with a stun gun, not once, but twice. The article said that Killian "got up after the first time he was shocked to continue running toward a group of frightened students huddled in a corner." I couldn't help but think of my high school in South Carolina. We didn't have police at school but we did have tons of guys walking around in those blue Future Farmers of America jackets that knew how to catch things that were greased. Taylor wouldn't have stood a chance and I really don't think there would have been much huddling going on. So much for that recent video games = violence theory.

My favorite part is where the police said "that an administrator ordered Killian to stop, but he made a sexual gesture and kept running." Call me crazy, but when you're naked and greased, everything you do is a sexual gesture.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A Bright Idea

Just a quick thought.

I'm not sure how much you may know of Thomas Edison and the image that he so carefully crafted, thought by some to be his greatest invention, but know this: He did not invent the light bulb, he had a team of as many as two hundred who 'invented' for him and he only looked at inventions that he thought would bring him fame and make lots and lots of money. He did all of this while trying to convince the public that he was a lonely, work-through-the-night inventor who only wanted to benefit mankind.

I only mentioned Edison because I saw that the new Windows operating system, Vista, goes on sale tonight at midnight. Maybe it's just me, but these operating systems seem kind of odd. A new one comes out, problems are found, updates are downloaded, more problems are found, fixes are downloaded, vulnerabilities are found, patches are downloaded, even more problems are found, my hard drive is erased, more updates, friends are getting emails from me that I'm not sending, more fixes, my credit card bill has charges from Mozambique, even more patches and then, before the damn thing is even working as it should have been in the first place, out comes a brand new operating system so we can start all over, again!

You know, I will give Edison one piece of credit: At least his light bulb actually worked when you flipped the switch.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


This is the third and final film in the 'Qastsi' series. The first, and still my favorite, is "Koyaanisqatsi", a Hopi word meaning, "Life out of balance" and the second is "Powaqqatsi" which means, "Life in transformation." "Naqoyqatsi" means, "Life as war" or "civilized violence." All three films were directed by Godfrey Reggio and are comprised of stunning visuals, that convey the reoccurring theme, set to the music of Philip Glass and "Naqoyqatsi" has the addition of cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing part of the score.

This film provides a digitized look at our society and, through enhancements, shows the extremes of events that occur every day. All aspects of our world are displayed in some form, ranging from the natural to the virtual and most human emotions are given a forum, as well.

The great thing about this film (and the others) is that no one will see it in the same way (except for the people who think it sucks). Here is a good site dealing with the films and here is the site for "Naqoyqatsi."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Notes on a Scandal

First, a quick note: The title to yesterday's post is actually the title to a song from the first act of "The Mikado" by Gilbert & Sullivan. It is also known as "The List Song" since it has to do with a list of people (They'd none of them be missed) that Ko-Ko feels we could do without. Eric Idle was in a very good version from 1987 that has recently been released on dvd. Thanks - just thought you should know. Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming:

Originally, my movie choice for the day was "Blood and Chocolate." I felt that my recent excursions to the theater had been for rather dark and somewhat depressing stories, however good, and I was fairly sure that "B & C" would be bad, but in a fun way, and I could laugh at it's badness and enjoy the unexpected good parts. However, that was before I knew that "Notes on a Scandal" would be playing this weekend, making it the first weekend that "Notes" was in this area (it opened in December) and since I absolutely wanted to see it, I changed my plans.

Really glad I changed my plans. Cate Blanchett is Sheba, the new (and young) art teacher and Judi Dench is Barbara Covett, the spinster history teacher who becomes her friend. The basic story is that Sheba begins an illicit affair and Barbara, being the friend that she is, becomes the keeper of the secret.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Cate Blanchett was, as usual, very good as was Bill Nighy (who killed me as Shaun's father in "Shaun of the Dead"), but Judi Dench was by far the standout performer in this film; she practically owns every scene she's in and I would have to credit her subtlety as the primary reason. However, that's just my opinion and if you do see it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Friday, January 26, 2007

As Some Day it May Happen (They've got a little list)

So it seems that a major killing spree was averted in Tennessee. Six girls, ages 14 - 15, were arrested and charged with homicide conspiracy. Apparently, the principal of the girls' high school found the 'little list' of intended victims. The girls had cleverly hidden the list in the garbage can where no one would ever think to look. According to the article, the principal initially thought it was a joke until authorities went to the girls' MySpace pages and found postings that included the word 'kill.' Now, I'm sure they found things more incriminating than, "I could just 'kill' my ex-boyfriend," or "I'm going to 'kill' my parents if they don't let me get a tattoo." The Police Chief said, "In general terms, it was like, 'Let's kill these people,'" but he wouldn't provide specific wording.

Oh, and the reason the principal thought it was possibly a joke was because the hit-list contained 300 names including students, faculty members, Tom Cruise, Oprah Winfrey and that heinous Energizer Bunny. 300 names. In that case, each girl would have needed to kill 50 people had they not been busted by a 'seemingly' random occurrence of bad luck. It's not mentioned in the article, but I heard that the girls were ratted out by an informant who also had his 'sights' on the bunny, but wished to remain anonymous.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Chinese Take-Out

You know, sometimes it's so easy for me to forget that just because our planet has reached a nice level of maturity, it doesn't necessarily mean the inhabitants have. And no, I'm not going to go into that whole 'killing in the name of our god' thing because we all know how much any self-respecting god really gets off on having fragile humans do something that the god himself/herself could do on a whim. What I'm thinking of is the 'we make your life better for you' and 'we're really protecting you' type stuff. I saw this article and was amazed that anyone would still use certain types of phrasing. Communist Party chief Hu Jintao has vowed to "purify the Internet environment" and this article states that he wants to "guide opinions" on the net. Hu is this guy? He wants to 'take out' what isn't deemed suitable. The scary part is that he'll succeed because he and his flunkies are able to keep a certain level of fear prevalent in the society. They start out with the fear and then begin trying to direct opinions with light censorship and, eventually, they're reading every body's mail, proceeding with electronic eavesdropping, and throwing people into prisons, that don't exist, without trials. And that's just here in America; think how bad it could get in China! Scary!

On a potentially more positive China note, there was this article about their Internet use. Basically, it says that within two years China will have more people online (despite censorship) than any other county on the planet. The amount of people online in China grew by 23.4% in 2006 and statistics show that more than a 10th of the country's 1.3 billion people are online. What's cool is, at that rate, in 7 or 8 years almost everyone will be online. Now, factor in all of their surfing, blogging, World of Warcraft and watching old cartoons and you're talking about a majority of the country hanging out online. Maybe then, when every one's busy, we can sneak back some of our manufacturing jobs!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Top Banana

Well, Bush delivered the State of the Union address, last night. I watched some of it, but ended up watching Monday's episode of "Heroes" that I had recorded. My reasons for not watching were not political, in fact, there were two specific reasons that I didn't make it through to the end.

The first reason has to do with childhood memories. When I was a kid growing up in South Carolina, my family lived on the edge of 'nowhere' and 'almost somewhere,' but more into 'nowhere'- just not in the middle of it. Television consisted of whatever we could receive with the antennae attached to our roof, which meant several versions of the same networks (the big 3) and maybe an independent station or two. The only 'cable' in our area was made of steel and never used for transmissions of any type. So, whenever the President had something to talk about, that's all that was on. Period. As a kid, having the President on television was like being punished for something somebody else did. A punishment that seemed to last forever and lingers, to this day. Now,with hundreds of stations at my disposal, I feel almost obligated to switch to something else when the President is on. However, I will admit that I feel a little guilty when I change the channel because, as an American, I should put aside my differences and partake in hearing the President speak as he must. Which brings me to reason two:

When Bush is on and he's got his cronies around, I always think of "The Banana Splits" (Cheney really reminds me of Snorky) and, sometimes, I can even hear "The Tra La La Song" in the background. It's at that point that I say, "Uh-oh, Chongo!" and grab the remote.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Coming Up For Air

I was glad to read that James Cameron has finally decided to make a new movie. It's been almost ten years since the heart-wrenching surprise-ending (yes, it sinks) 12-year-old girl tear fest, "Titanic" was 'king of the world.'

Apparently, he's decided to climb out of the water, go back to his roots and make a science-fiction film. I was always convinced that the guy who made "Aliens", "The Abyss" and the "Terminator" movies still had some sci-fi inspiration 'floating' around. I just hope he doesn't go all the way back to "Piranha Part Two: The Spawning" for his directorial inspiration.

The scope of the story, the new filming techniques and 3D aspect of "Avatar" sound very intriguing but , I will admit, I was kind of hoping he would go for more "Titanic" money with a sequel. I was thinking something along the lines of, "Beyond the Titanic Adventure: The Revenge" starring Michael Caine (If you don't get the 'Poseidon' and 'Jaws' reference - please go here and here) or maybe tell a new Titanic story from some other people's perspectives. That way, most of the effects shots could be reused and the movie wouldn't cost nearly as much to make. Jim Cameron could make even more money and I could capitalize on a breakfast cereal deal. I'm thinking little ships, broken in half, that float, at first, and then sink to the bottom while smaller debris remain on the surface. Oh, and marshmallow icebergs.

Monday, January 22, 2007

When I Grow Up I Want to Wear Orange

This definitely falls into the WTF category.

Here's the article concerning Neil Rodreick. This guy, 29 years old mind you, gets arrested trying to enroll in a charter school as a 12 year old kid. On top of that, he's living (and having sex) with two older men (61 and 43) who both think he's 12. The older guy, Lonnie Stiffler, was posing as his 'grandfather' to get him in the school. The article says that Stiffler and Robert James Snow (the 43 year old) "were very upset when detectives told them they had been having a sexual relationship with a 29 year old man and not a pre-teen boy." WTF???!!!???!?!?!

Now, what I want to know, was this Neil guy paying full price to get into movies or was he getting the 12 and under (no pun) discount? I mean, you just know this guy was a fan of "Free Willy."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Frankenstein Unbound

This movie came out in 1990 and was the first film Roger Corman had officially directed in about twenty years and the dvd has only been available since September of 2006. John Hurt stars as a scientist, John Buchanan, in the year 2031 who has created a weapon of ultimate power that has very unusual side effects on time and space. Because of this weapon, Buchanan finds himself transported to Geneva in 1817 where Dr. Victor Frankenstein, played by the late Raul Julia, is a very real person who is facing great difficulties because of a creation of his own. Bridget Fonda appears as Mary Godwin who , of course, will chronicle the events of Frankenstein as a character study after marrying the poet Percy Shelly (who is portrayed by the late Michael Hutchence of INXS fame). Their common friend, Lord Byron, is portrayed by Jason Patric.

I always enjoy a nice 'alternative reality' movie and this one really hit all the right chords with me. This is not a so much a 'monster' movie as it is a study of mistakes of creation - much like Mary Shelley's book. The time travel aspect is a thoughtful way to juxtapose two very different creations, and possible mistakes. If you enjoy a movie that requires some actual thought, then you may enjoy this film.

Side note: The movie was based on the book, of the same name, written by Brian Aldiss in 1973. In 1990, Mr. Aldiss published 'Dracula Unbound' which deals with the same scientist's (Joseph Bodenland in the books) time travel encounter with Dracula. Read more about Brian Aldiss, here.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

V is for 'Weiner Schnitzel'

No movie today. "Notes on a Scandal" is next Saturday.

I was in the grocery store, this morning, and two old guys wearing polyester jackets and velcro walking shoes were in the express line in front of me buying beer. They were both kind of staring off into space, waiting to move up (express, remember), when the guy on the left goes, "Oh," looks at his friend and says, "I saw on the television where the Muslim community is upset about always being the bad guys on that '24' show." The other guy doesn't even look up but says, in a really thick German accent, "Humpf, haf zem finds me in 62 years und tell me how tired zay are of it."

I guess it's just a matter of perspective. Verrrry interesting.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Doll Fetish

I have got to get me one of these!!!
(Click on it for a larger picture)

If you never saw Trilogy of Terror, you can find a great description here.

Also, you can find the doll and other toys, here.

Side note: All of the stories in 'Trilogy of Terror' are based on unrelated short stories by Richard Matheson.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Captain Trips

Back in 1918-1919 a particularly nasty version of the flu showed up, infected lots of people and proceeded to kill between 2 and 5 percent of the human population. Some estimates put the death toll at 50 million people. 50 million people. It took AIDS 25 years to kill 25 million people - this flu killed 25 million in 6 months. In Fiji, 14 percent of the population died in two weeks and in Alaska, entire villages were wiped out. Gone.

A few years ago, I read about a doctor (Jeffery Taubenberger) who had made a couple of trips to an Alaskan fishing village, which had been decimated by the flu in 1918, with the hopes of digging up the body of someone who had died from the infection. The ground in the area is permafrost and, essentially, the body would have remained frozen since it's burial, hopefully preserving samples of the super deadly flu of 1918. It was these samples that Dr. Taubenberger hoped to recover and study. It's safe to assume that the Doc had never seen "The Thing", "Alien" or "The Andromeda Strain" and probably wasn't a fan of "The X-Files." Long story - short, the Doc recovered viable samples and since that time, others have recovered samples, as well. For some reason, that quaint idiom regarding 'sleeping dogs' keeps popping into my head.

Today, I saw this article concerning the 1918 flu and how scientists aren't simply studying the virus, but now they're infecting monkeys with the 'superflu'. One article stated that the experiment was supposed to last for 21 days, but the monkeys became so sick that they were euthanized after only eight. Let's see, infected monkeys, 21 days later.....reminds me of something....I can't quite place it. I keep getting flashes of Dustin Hoffman in a hazmat suit while Larry Underwood sings 'Baby Can You Dig Your Man' in the background.

Hopefully everything will work out fine and the scientists will prevail, and, in the meantime, I'm going to try and not worry about it. I think there's a Charlton Heston movie coming on, later. Maybe that'll help.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fare Warning

I just read this article about the Comair plane that crashed during takeoff (before dawn) in Lexington, Kentucky last year. It seems that the plane had taxied onto the wrong runway which was unlit and too short for a commercial jet. In the transcripts, the co-pilot noted that the runway was "weird with no lights", and the captain replied, "Yeah," just seconds before the sound of impact.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure that I would have stopped and asked for some kind of confirmation. I mean, the's dark. No lights. That means you can't see the end of the runway; the end that's much closer than you think it is because the runway's too short for your plane. No lights. Dark. And the co-pilot's like, "Weird," and the pilot's like, "Yeah."

When you're thinking of a song and it's the next one that comes on the radio, that's weird. When you're driving a gas tank with wings at 158mph down a dark road that you think should be illuminated, but it's not, and you keep going, that's begging for trouble.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mail Enhancement

I have an email account that I reserve for what I anticipate will be junk mail; meaning, whenever I'm asked for or need to fill in an email address, that's the one I use. The odd thing thing is: I never get email from any form I fill out or any place that has requested my address during a purchase. In fact, after checking (and deleting) the mail in the junk account today, I only get three types of email in that account:
  1. Penis enhancement
  2. Viagra and 'herbal' sexual stimulants (for erectile dysfunction)
  3. Lonely women who want only me (or just want to show me something)
I did feel strangely comforted knowing that, given time, I could erect an enhancement for solitary exhibitionists.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Room with a View-Master

This past weekend was a little different than most. I saw a couple of good movies, which I have written about, made a little progress in my current book, cleaned house, washed clothes and, finally, spent every other available second completely consumed with a Playstation 3 that I purchased Friday afternoon. Now, for the people who read this blog (and I'm talking to both of you), I'm not one of those people who feel the need to pick sides in a fight between PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii. I bought a PS3 because of my PS2 games and I really would like to have an Xbox 360, but that will have to come later. I like all sides but, for now, I have a PS3.

So, anyway, I spent the weekend with my PS3 and, honestly, this thing rocks! I listened to Super Audio CDs, I watched a Blu Ray movie that was as sharp and clear as Discovery HD Theater and I played a video game with graphics so amazing that I kept getting killed because I was too busy looking around at the environment. Yes, I was very pleased with my purchase.

But that's not my point. During the time that I was enjoying the PS3, I couldn't help but think of some of my favorite 'toys' from the past, and while there's always fond memories for things like 'Operation' and 'Rock em Sock em Robots', the one thing that kept coming to mind was my old 'Talking View-Master'. I must have had that thing for years and never got any more reels than the ones that originally came with it and, yet, I never grew tired of it. I knew every photo that I would see and could recite, word for word, the accompanying narration. What a great item - it's funny how some of the seemingly simplest of things can instill such vivid and lasting memories.

That's all, for now. I'm off to enjoy the PS3 - as long as I can remember how to turn it on.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Last of the Mohicans

Last week, I single out "The Last of the Mohicans" as my dvd choice of the week. The movie is based on James Fenimore Cooper's American literary classic published in 1826. Please visit the Cooper Society for information on the author and his writings.

The story takes place during the French and Indian War and involves Chingachgook and Uncas, the last remaining Mohicans, and their adopted American brother, Hawkeye. They agree to act as guides to Fort William Henry in New York for a desperate British group consisting of soldiers and, more importantly, Cora and Alice Munro, the daughters of the fort's commander, Colonel Munro. The other major player is Magua, a bitter Huron with a personal vendetta against Colonel Munro. The story consists of equal parts drama, action, and romance and is told in such a way that all parts blend seamlessly.

The movie was released in 1992 and stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye, Madeline Stowe as Cora and was directed by Michael Mann ("Collateral", "The Insider", "Heat"). Michael Mann also co-wrote the screenplay even though he never read Cooper's novel. Please go here for more information on the film.

If you've never seen this film, but enjoy a well written story as much as a good movie, then maybe this will suit your needs.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Pan's Labyrinth

Just back from seeing "Pan's Labyrinth" and I must say that I was very impressed. The story concerns a young girl, Ofelia, and her sickly but pregnant mother, Carmen. They have moved to a rural area in northern Spain to live with Carmen's new husband, Captain Vidal. Vidal is the cruel and vicious leader of a small platoon of soldiers who are tasked with the job of weeding out and destroying a band of guerrillas, know as "the maquis", living in the surrounding forest. The year is 1944, Francisco Franco is the victor in the Spanish Civil war and Fascist repression has reached it's peak. Captain Vidal's two biggest concerns are the guerrillas and the birth of his child which is he convinced will be a male. Carmen's biggest concern is pleasing Vidal and Ofelia would rather be lost in a good book of fairy tales. It is this infatuation with fairy tales which drives the corresponding plot of the film.

For me, Ivana Baquero (Ofelia) and Sergi Lopez (Vidal) were the standout performances, Ivana more so because she was only 11 years old at the time of filming. Doug Jones, the only American on the set, inhabits Pan and 'The Pale Man' with a type of completeness that only Doug seems to be able to do; referencing, mostly, Doug's portrayal of 'Abe Sapien' in "Hellboy".

The writer and director, Guillermo del Toro, worked diligently for several years with the hopes of being able to get this film made. I definitely consider myself a fan of del Toro's work and not just the material, but his style as well. Del Toro applies a very specific 'look' to his movies and it appeals to me. Some of his past works have included "Blade 2", arguably the best in the series, "Hellboy" and "Mimic". He is currently in the pre-production stage of "Hellboy 2".

While del Toro's past endeavors have resided, to a large extent, in the realm of fantasy, make no mistake, this is not a fantasy film or another "Hellboy". The issues are very hard and cold and any references to fairy tales are completely overshadowed by brutal reality.

As I was leaving the theater, walking down the stairs from the upper level, I was beside a guy and his female companion. They were 'discussing' the film and the guy said, "I can't believe they called it "Pan's Labyrinth" and you don't even see the labyrinth until the end of the movie," and looked at me as if he was seeking support. Since they had obviously seem the same film as me and yet, the word 'metaphor' had never come to mind, I abandoned that response and instead replied, "Well, in "The Wizard of Oz" you didn't see the 'wizard' until the end, either." That comment evoked the same facial expression as if I had asked for the square root of 7 and I'm sure they'll ponder it much longer than an odd word such as 'metaphor'.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Fetid Telegraphic Delivery

It's Friday, I'm at work, and I'm workin' on my blog. I don't normally blog when I'm at work but, every once in a while, I like to feel as if I'm getting paid to write. I'm just silly like that.

I was reading this article about the 'corpse flower' (find out even more at wikipedia) and I simply had to share the information. Not only is this flower the largest in the world, which would be an amazing accomplishment by itself, this flower also happens to smell like rotting meat. Hence the name. It's as big as - and smells like a corpse - a rotting corpse. Oh, and it's flower is the color of blood. How cool is that?

This is the perfect flower to send to your ex!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Saving All My Stuff For You

I really dig yard/garage sales. It's fun looking at other people's things and seeing what was, at one time, important to them. The things that actually meant something have a distinct 'used' or 'cared for' quality about them while the things that were crappy gifts still look brand spankin' new and are, often times, still in the original packaging. If you pay attention, you can definitely learn a lot about the people doing the selling (sometimes, too much) and, at the same time, find something that you can't believe they're selling for $2.00 because it's obviously worth much more. I always seem to be able to find the 'really cool' items at yard sales. One time, I lucked out and got a brand new Salad Shooter©, still in the box, for $1.00. Score!

Some of my friends are big into garage sales and often find amazing items for themselves and their families and, sometimes, they get things for me because they know I'm into unique stuff. In fact, a good friend of mine was in New Jersey, yesterday, for Whitney Houston's garage sale. It seems she had some items that needed to be sold for some quick cash, or something like that. All I know is that he found this sweet glass sculpture (I've included the picture he sent me) and said he got it for next to nothing. What a steal! I'm not sure but I think it's some kind of French abstract-geometric piece. Whitney probably didn't mind getting rid of it because I think she has a bit of a problem with the French. I seem to remember hearing that she said something like, "Chirac is whack," a while back. Oh well, her loss is my gain.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

To the Letter

I saw Steve Jobs introducing the iphone, yesterday. Okay, I'll admit it, I want one. It looked very sleek and I'm absolutely sure that it will be a great phone and people will have conversations in all kinds of different places and situations. Oh, and have car accidents.

However, the iphone does offer many things besides simply having a conversation. For example, while driving through an s-curve or making a u-turn, you could listen to music like NSYNC or P-Funk. You could check your email (gmail) and with the web browser you could research and read about M-theory. You could be at home drinking bee-pollen tea, naked as a jaybird and reserve a room at a W-hotels. You could place the iphone on shelf (supported by L-brackets) and wait for a call while you design things with a T-square that require O-rings. You could even download the new music from H-Town and, eventually, an old television show, like F-troop, to your c-drive to be transferred, later, to the iphone for your listening and viewing pleasure. I'm sure, at some point, the iphone will be like a mini x-box that plays games like Q-bert. You don't have to be a G-man, who wears V-neck sweaters, drives a K-car and lives in an A-frame house, with a wife who's a D-cup, to appreciate a device such as the iphone. Personally, I think every straight-up (y-axis) kind of person could use one of these.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My Four Panel Life

Sometimes I get the distinct impression that I'm living in a comic strip......and I'm the straight man. This morning was a perfect example. I'm leaving for work with my hands full (backpack, coffee, mail, etc.), and I step outside and push the door shut with my elbow, but it doesn't catch. So I bang it with my foot, my back and, finally, my butt. Still no luck. I put everything down and pull open the door, so I can examine the frame, and, looking down, I see a small rock in the corner that might be the culprit. Figuring it must have dropped there when I opened the door, I reach down, remove the rock and slowly ease the door closed. Pushing the door with the slightest amount of pressure, I hear the audible 'click' as the latch pops into place and locks. Satisfied, I pick up my things, turn to leave and immediately realize that I don't have my keys.

My hands full and the blank expression on my face would have been an appropriate last panel for the strip. I'm really glad the follow-up strip didn't have me remembering the extra set of keys in my backpack the moment after I broke the window to get back in. The fact that I remembered the keys before freaking out helped improve my mood, substantially, and it is with that thought that I share a strip:

Monday, January 08, 2007

Is it Getting Hot in Here?

Okay, so this huge ice shelf, the size of 11,000 football fields, apparently broke free of the Canadian Arctic a little over a year ago. One article I read, mentioned that the shelf was approximately 41 square miles in size and had been in place for thousands of years before breaking off. After reading the article, the first thing that came to mind was my dad, splayed out in his recliner after eating a huge home-cooked meal (prepared by my mother) around 6:30 on any given evening with an entire viewing schedule of game shows, cop shows and doctor shows lined up for the night. Something major had to happen to move him from that spot.

I'm fully aware that there is a very heated debate raging on about Global Warming and I'm not trying to say that one side is more right than the other. I'm merely saying that for such an event to occur, the cause must be rather significant. If Global Warming is a fact, that ice shelf is a good example of the consequences, if not, then somebody better get up to the Canadian Arctic and figure out what the hell is going on.

Oh, and the second thing that came to mind after reading the article was, "I wonder if 41 square miles would be too big for Zan to handle?" You know, "Form of an ice shelf!"

Sunday, January 07, 2007


"Amelie" was last week's 'DVD of the Week' and has become one of my favorite films. Is was released in 2001 and directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. Jeunet is a self-taught director and some of his other, notable films are "Delicatessen", "Alien: Resurrection" and "City of Lost Children" (another of my favorites). All of his films have distinct imagery and attention to detail. I enjoy 'looking at' his films as much as I like watching them. Audrey Tautou ("The Da Vinci Code") stars as Amelie, and I was throughly taken in by her portrayal.

The movie is about a shy coffee shop waitress who, after making a surprise discovery in her apartment, does something nice anonymously for a complete stranger. She feels so good after doing the good deed that she dedicates her life to making other people happy (in very inventive and amusing ways). The big question is if she will take the chance to possibly bring about her own happiness.

I hate the term 'feel good movie' but, I must admit, I always feel pretty damned good during and after this movie. I'm not saying that you will - but you'll never know if you don't give it a shot.

By the way, this is a French film and it is subtitled. Just so you know. Full disclosure and all.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Children of Men


I'm not a movie, music or book critic. I don't believe in critics (I know they exist but I don't know why). If you decide to see a movie, listen to a compact disc or read a book based on the opinion of someone you've never met and know absolutely nothing about, then you've reached a point in your life where most of your meals should consist of strained peas and jell-o and, afterwards, you're rolled out to the garden for some quiet time. As far as movies go, I generally know what I want to see well in advance of the release. Which means I've decided before a 'critic', who's paid to see a movie he or she may not even want to see, gives their opinion of it. Whenever I hear something like, "Well, the critics really liked/hated it," I always think of my mother and that proverbial bridge she was so fond of linking me and my friends to. Speaking of friends, if I ever found myself in a situation where I felt a little advice could be helpful, I'd more likely seek out the suggestion of friend rather than a critic. I know my friends and the type of things they like or dislike; I know which ones are looking for entertainment or inspiration. I've listed some of my favorites (movies, music, books) which should give you an idea of my tastes and if you've read any of my previous posts, you should have an idea, as well. My idea is to have a chat, not write a review.

Children of Men: I went to the morning show and was very surprised by the number of people in attendance. Usually, it's just me and a handful of cheapskates, but the theater was probably a quarter full. The movie was very well done and the 'look' used to convey the depressed state of everyone and everything was perfect. I'm a huge fan of overcast, grey days and I was right at home in this film. The story (Man's last days because of no longer being able to reproduce and the discovery of a pregnant girl and the politics involved) is taken very seriously and played very believably and while there is never a definitive 'why', none is really needed because that's not the real issue at hand. The issues are how people are coping and what impact possible salvation might mean after certain actions have been taken.

I'm a fan of Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and, of course, Michael Caine. I tend to like their performances even if the movie they're in sucks. (Anyone see 'Jaws: The Revenge? My point, exactly.) Fortunately, all three were very good, as usual, and the movie is definitely one I will see again. I really thought Clive Owen did an exceptional job considering he had to be the conduit for the majority of the emotional output of the movie. I hope he gets some recognition for his performance.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Beginning of the End

I love Fridays. I actually start enjoying Friday on Thursday. Just the thought that the next day is Friday is enough to improve my outlook. Thursdays are like being next in line, you've waited and waited and no matter what happens, you're next. Great feeling.

This is the first post holidays weekend and I'm glad it will be a relaxed one. My weekends usually consist of movies, reading, computer, and video games. I'm such a nerd. Oh, and I spend a decent amount of time cleaning so I guess I could be considered a 'domesticated' nerd (or, at least, an obsessive-compulsive one). Either way, I'm okay with it.

I'm off to enjoy Friday as I hope everyone else is, as well! If you're not sure what to do, you could always go here.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Red Leader this is Gold Leader

My prior post really got me to thinking about the unfortunate people who go around hearing voices. I realize that mental illness is a serious affliction that affects around 60 million people and I honestly hope that science can, one day, eradicate it, forever. Until then, I hope to be able to do my part in helping make life easier for the sufferers.

Now don't
get me wrong, I don't have any delusions of 'curing' anyone or making some great 'breakthrough'. I was thinking more along the lines of helping the previously mentioned group who hear voices and have single conversations be able to better go about their daily lives without people always gawking at them or making fun of them after they go by. You know what I'm talking about, you're minding your own business, walking down the sidewalk and there's some disheveled guy, completely alone, walking toward you looking kind of paranoid and talking to beat the band. You don't want to, but you can't help but try and hear what he's saying. As he gets closer, you can't make out a single word until he raises his voice and shrieks something like, "But the carrots are purple!" Then, you try to self implode and take up a negative amount of space until the guy is completely past you at which point you breath a sigh of relief and return to the normal space-time continuum, thinking to yourself, "What a fruitcake."

We can't help noticing and reacting anymore than the talkers can stop talking, but I think I may have stumbled upon an idea that could help everyone. I had to make a quick trip to the grocery store, and as I crossed the parking lot I noticed a woman sitting on a bench with her grocery bags having a rather loud conversation. As I drew near, she noticed me, lowered her voice considerably, and looked at me in a very suspicious manner. My immediate thought was, "Ground control to Major Tom," as I looked down and shuffled into the store. As I maneuvered my way to the produce section, I found myself behind a lurching woman with wild hair having a very animated conversation involving lots of hand motions. At this point, I'm thinking, "Maybe there's a convention in town," and as I go around her I notice her 'hands-free' ear-piece and the wire trailing down into her pocket. When I realized she was on the phone I started to completely ignore her and then I thought, "Wait a minute, how do I know she's really on the phone?" As I stood there, transfixed, I watched as she worked her way through the crowded produce section; from the tomatoes to the onions and on to the exotic fruits, all the while talking and waving her arms and not a single solitary person gave her more than a glance. The glance was the key. Our brains have become so accustomed to open conversation that our eyes can register an ear-piece as fast as they can detect the word 'free' (or 'sex'). If we see an ear-piece, regardless of the conversation, we completely ignore the person and tune out what's being said. If we don't see an ear-piece we think, "Nut-job!" and stare out of curiosity, revulsion or because we think it's funny while feeling slightly uncomfortable.

I propose that, from this day forward, all used or discarded hands-free devices be given to people who hear voices and have conversations with said voices and/or people who simply have a penchant for having out-loud conversations even though no one else is in their general vicinity. The devices don't have to work and there's not even a need for the actual phone. That's the beauty of it! They'll be able to talk all they want while looking stylish and never have to worry about minutes or being made fun of. It's win-win!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Inside Scoop

What a coincidence! Three days ago I was rambling about God, yesterday I was rambling about stupidity and today Pat Robertson said that God's been giving him the low down. What are the odds? I didn't plan this - nobody could plan this.

So, God's been talking to Pat. Who would've guessed? You can read the entire story
here: God talks to Pat Evidently, God told Pat that a terrorist attack on the U.S. will cause a 'mass killing' late in 2007. "The Lord didn't say nuclear," Pat said, "But I do believe it will be something like that." Maybe the 'Lord' said, 'nuclur'. Just a thought. Whatever the case, I'm supposed to believe that out of all of the righteous people on the planet, God picked Pat. Huh? Pat? The guy who called for an assassination? I don't think so. Besides, if God was talking to Pat, he wouldn't make the mistake of saying terrorists were responsible. Thundarr and Ookla told me that a runaway planet, hurtling between Earth and the moon, would unleash cosmic destruction casting Man's civilization into ruin. So there.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Stupid is as Stupid Does

1st day back at work, 2nd day of the new year and only 356 shopping days until Christmas. Life may be a cabaret but mine has an 'early-bird' special and the entertainment is a Lawrence Welk tribute band. Ah well, on with the show.

I've been on the phone a lot today, and it's helped me come to the conclusion that a really good goal for myself, for the new year and ever-after, would be to try my darnedest to not be so bloomin' stupid. I like to think that I'm an average guy of average intelligence; nothin' special. I also tend to believe that the people I talk to on a daily basis are average people. However, if that's true and they are average people, then the average person is a dumb-ass. Which, by default, would include me (being average and all). Well, I'm sure you can see my dilemma (unless you're an average person, of course). See, there's no end to it! So, again, I've decided to do my p
art and, hopefully, create a 'ripple effect' among the average people that I encounter.

I plan to start small. For example, I'll trust the 'wet paint' sign - no need to touch, when
someone walks into the office dripping wet, I won't say, "Is it raining?" I'll just wait for the explanation and when I'm talking on the phone I won't use my hands to describe things as in (holding my free hand out), "It's about this tall". I firmly believe that with a little effort I (along with others) can make a vast improvement on the average person's perceived stupidity. Now, if I could just figure out where to put the stamp on this stupid envelope.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Brought to you by the Number 7

Happy New Year!!

It's now officially a new year and and, as much as some people hate to admit, all the pressure's off for another eleven months. Whew! Now we can really relax. As I see it, the only real worry we should have left is the credit card bills and, at least, we've got some time before they start rolling in. You'd think that when we open those bills and see the items that were purchased, the holiday 'spirit' would descend upon us once more and fill us with a special warmth for being able to provide, so wonderfully, for others. Instead, we usually feel like we did after eating that 3rd piece of pie after Christmas dinner: We either want to sleep for a week or go throw up.

However, my favorite part of the new year (besides getting the bills) is conti
nuing to write the previous year on anything that requires a date. It's amazing to me that I can remember the lyrics to the theme from "Gilligan's Island", that the "A" button made the Mach 5 jump (using the jacks) and "Gort! Klaatu barada nikto" but it will take me days (weeks) to remember to write a '7' instead of a '6'. Maybe my brain's simply wired to only remember the important things. I'm sure there's some reason locked away so deep in my subconscious that not even the Krell would be aware of it (there's that memory thing, again) but, whatever the case, I hope any of you who suffer the same affliction enjoy the next week or two of our protracted 2006.