Soon To Be Classics

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Lost City of New Orleans

I head that phrase tonight on the news. At first, it seemed like poor taste in news slugs but after watching 30 minutes of news footage I started to wonder. My mom asked me if I thought they'd be able to eventually "save" New Orleans. I immediately replied "sure, there's too much money to not". Then I thought about it a while and looked at the poverty that existed and has since been created by Katrina. It's a foolish venture to begin with to build a city below sea level. You WILL lose that battle eventually.

It's astonishing to me to hear that we have "refugees" in America. We have people trapped on interstate overpasses. Read that a couple of times and let it sink in. There's no food, no water, and no place for people to go. The military, police and emergency are rushing to do what they can. Funny, but I haven't heard a peep of support from the rest of the f'ing world. And all the while, Opec is just raising the price of oil again. Someone calculate their profit margin ($4 per barrell to draw and process and they sell it for $70). It would make me sick to do it myself.

I told the wife that we're going to make a donation. A hundred bucks won't kill us. I'm still skeptical of certain charities, namely the Red Cross after the atrocity of their spending spree after 9/11, so I'm looking to see where to send this money. All I can do is have faith that it will help someone other than a charity's "administrative" cost.

This is a rather bitter, angry post. For that, I apologize. But I'm just so stunned by the images on TV and the figures that have been rolling in. I admit that I'm a bit of a disaster junkie. It comes from my years of radio. Doesn't anyone else find it difficult to do their regular job or routine when the suffering is so close? Or am I just blind to the fact that it's happening everyday, somewhere in the world?

My prayers go out to everyone affected by Katrina. Let's hope she's the last this season.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Scotty, beam me up and pick up a loaf of bread on your way home!

In early July, Kyle and I were in the T-Mobile store in MacArthur Mall as I was looking for a phone. I asked him "I wonder why they don't have a phone that looks like a Star Trek Communicator. I'd buy one. Wouldn't you?"

He looked at me in horror and said "Absolutely not." I apparently went over the geek quotient at that point.

And then, two months later, I read this:

Star Trek Phone

There's no picture of the phone, but if it looks like the classic communicator, it's going to be hard to resist. Especially since it comes out roughly the same time my current contract runs out.

Blurring the line? Not really.

Why do I like movies?

Theaters have become a haven for snot-nosed teenage punks looking to ruin everyone's good time, ticket prices are astronomical, there's 20 minutes of commercials prior to the movie, a bucket of popcorn is running close to my mortgage.

And, the movies generally suck.

Now maybe I'm following Shocho's lead and getting a little bitter, but I saw something today that made me just cringe. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is starring in a big-screen version of the cult video game classic DOOM. Now, DOOM is an all-time favorite of mine and it's what sold me on multiplayer. A buddy of mine and I spent hours blowing each other away on two network systems. So I'm at least curious about the film. I also really enjoy The Rock on screen. I hate wrestling but he's always entertaining to watch. So, what could they do wrong?

A lot, actually.

First, check out the trailer here:

DOOM Trailer

Notice how much it looks like the video game? I mean HOW MUCH IT LOOKS LIKE THE VIDEO GAME?? Yep, they've officially announced that this will be the first FPS movie. FPS stands for "first person shooter". The perspective you will see in much of the movie will be as if you're holding the gun and moving through the Mars base encountering monsters, zombies and other assorted baddies. So it appears that you're going to see a lot of The Rock's right thumb knuckle, but not much else.

Why does Hollywood have to "experiment" with nonsense like this? It is NOT a game, it's a movie. I suspect that this trick will wear out very fast. Why not save this for the DVD release and add it as a cool extra? Instead, we'll have to deal with this through who knows how much film.

I own DOOM. At least a couple of different versions. If this is the film, then I've already seen it, played it, and in an odd parallel to ticket prices, been killed by it.

At least the Rock's knuckle doesn't make my right knuckle feel insignificant.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

An Edith Keeler Moment

Edith Keeler was a social worker in the 1930's who had the vision of cooperation between the world's nations, as well as atomic energy and the exploration of space. Unfortunately, she was struck by an automobile and killed before her ideas could be realized.

And yet, at one point, she WASN'T struck by that car, and went on to change history. Literally. A visitor from the future who was not supposed to be there prevented her death, altering everything from that point forward.

If you haven't recognized the story, it's from the classic Star Trek TOS episode "City on the Edge of Forever". It was written by Harlan Ellison and basically asks the question, "could you let someone you love die, knowing that you HAD to"?

To me, the episode has a different meaning. The focal point of the story is the car accident. Whether or not Keeler is hit by the car is the divergent point in history. Obviously, our own lives have such points. Should I take this job? Should I marry this person? Should I turn right or left? Paper or plastic? You can drive yourself insane thinking of the paradox.

But, is there one singular "Edith Keeler Moment" in your life? I know what mine is. It was literally posed to me in a question at a specific moment in my life. And I think I realized at the time that I was standing at a crossroads. It took me a long time to answer but my response took me down the path I did.

I don't regret my answer, but I often wonder if there is a parallel universe for these divergencies and how I'm doing there.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Ok, so Shocho legally tagged me and challenged me to do a meme, here I go.

I will confess that I looked it up to make sure I was doing this right. Unfortunately, I got little help there so I'll just follow Chuck's example. I would also like to mention that I had a great deal of trouble picking out five of most of these categories. For example. I could originally only think of 2 famous people I'd like to meet and that was a strain? Is that normal or is there just something wrong with me that my level of hero worship is severely lacking. Oh well, here's the list.

10 years ago today:
Working at WNKO-FM Radio in Central Ohio. Dating a beautiful woman that I hope someday will be happy. I had just got into playtesting with "The Company" and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Also, I had just met Shocho a few months earlier.

5 years ago today:
Still working at WNKO and was a popular celebrity. Boy, that was nice. In a relationship with another beautiful woman that was just about to take a really horrible turn for the worse. Thank goodness for good friends. Had resisted at least two job offers to move to Virginia by this time because I really, deep down, didn't want to work full time there. Chalk one up to spidey-sense.

1 year ago today:
Working at the company and feeling good. GenCon was terrific and the preview "party" for WARS TCG was well recieved. Things were exciting but I knew that it was a long road uphill to achieve solvency. Somewhere in the background, the drums sounded "DOOM", "DOOM", "DOOM".

Yesterday: August 21, 2005
Sitting on a plane talking to a retired Navy Seal and an elementary school teacher. Regretting I hadn't tucked any Clix toys in my bag because the poor kid behind me was scared and miserable on the plane. Won't make that mistake again. I really like Frontier Airlines. A nice experience all around.

Tomorrow: August 23, 2005
Fending off the challenges of my young, 23-year old assistant who keeps badgering me to put a 300 point army together. He'll get his.

5 snacks I enjoy:
Doritos, M&Ms, peanuts, animal crackers, 3 Musketeers

5 things I'd do with a million dollars:
Move somewhere I want to. Build a house with a room for just my stuff. Set my kids up for college tuition. Hire a personal trainer to make me get into shape. Help someone on the verge of despair realize that miracles can happen.

5 places I'd run away to:
St. John Island in the Carribbean. The sweet moments in my past. My Dad's grave, at least one more time. Vegas, for the lights at night. Scotland, because I have a place to shack up.

5 bad habits I have:
Eating too much. Irritability when I'm frustrated. Forgetting my place. Thinking I know more than I do. Forgetting to charge the ring every 24 hours.

5 things I like doing:
Seeing old friends, which is becoming harder to do. Making my family happy. Stargazing and wondering. Listening to the radio. Wrestling with my children.

5 things I wouldn't wear:
An albatross. Suede. Cowboy hat. The white "Miami Vice" jacket I USED to wear in the 80's. A TYG t-shirt.

5 tv shows I love:
24 hour news. Seinfeld. Battlestar Galactic. Star Trek (the good ones). SNL when it's funny.

5 movies I love:
Die Hard. Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Blues Brothers. Zorro The Gay Blade. Star Wars (the first one, screw you Lucas)

5 famous people I'd like to meet:
Laura Bush. Jack Kirby. Lynda Carter. Lynda Carter. Sorry, did I mention that already? Anyone that can introduce me to Lynda Carter.

5 biggest joys at the moment:
My son. My daughter. Nothing else comes close enough to list.

5 favorite toys:
My new car that I jokingly referred to as "The Batmobile" and now my wife calls it that because she really enjoys driving it. My computer. My Xbox if there's someone to play with. My pocket magic tricks I have neglected for so long. The Ultimate Nullifier.

5 wishes I know won't come true:
I wish you COULD go home again.
I wish at some point in my life I could feel like I can relax again.
I wish the world had heroes.
I wish time didn't speed up when I'm with my kids and slow down when I'm not.
I wish my Dad had met his grandchildren.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

There's no place like home, there's no place like home...

I really have nowhere I call home.

In my life, I have lived in six different states and 10+ cities. We moved around a bit when I was a kid (due to Dad's jobs) and I'm repeating the pattern. As it is now, my daughter was born in Ohio, then lived in Virginia and now Washington state. My son was born in Virginia and now resides in WA. (Technicality: If the Supreme Court can ever decide when life begins, my son might be able to claim living in Ohio too.)

I've gotten the question "Where are you from?" a lot lately. It's a tough call. I was born in Missouri but remember nothing of it. I grew up mostly in Nebraska but don't usually admit it. I graduated High School in Ohio so I normally credit that. Virginia is becoming a bit of a blip on the radar with not much happening beyond the son's birth. Now I'm in WA and I have a new house. The family is here (mom as well) and we're settling in. I don't know that it'll ever become "home" but then maybe I'm not even sure how exactly to define that.

The true test, of course, is if I click my heels three times and say "There's no place like home." where will I end up??

Thursday, August 11, 2005

But What Was He Playing

There's a story in the papers and on radio morning shows about a guy in South Korea who played a video game for some 50 hours straight in an Internet cafe and then dropped dead, right on the spot. Here's the story in case you missed it.

Man Dies After 50 Straight Hours of Video Games

This raises some questions:

1) Why would an Internet cafe let the guy set up a "makeshift bed" for this loser to sleep on in their establishment?
2) Did someone place a quarter on the machine to "hold" the next spot and did they step over him when he keeled over to begin their turn?

Of course South Korea has literally hundreds of online video games so it was probably something specific to that country. Naturally, if it was Everquest or World of Warcraft, Hillary Clinton would be demanding an explanation and money to form an investigatory committee.

I suspect it was probably Q*bert. 50 hours of that would damn near kill anyone.

Two Heads Are Better Than One

Originally uploaded by Mkae.

I was flipping through the channels last night and stopped on IFC, the independent film channel. I would never stop here so I'm not sure what caught my eye and made me stop. There was something about the scene of Penny walking down the spooky hallway at the direction of the crusty old elevator operator that got my attention.

"It's the brown door."

"Which one? They're all brown. Is it this one?"

"What's it look like?"

"It's brown."

"Oh, it's the next one."

Priceless dialogue.

I expected it to be a monster movie of some kind where something awful would jump out and eat poor Penny the prostitute that we already sympathized with. Instead, after a few minutes of meeting the two brothers behind the door, we get the gist of the movie. Two brothers fall in love with prostitute Penny.

By the way, the brothers are siamese twins. Now we're cooking...

The film was "Twin Falls Idaho" and I was absolutely riveted. It deals with a pair of siamese twins who check into a motel to die. For their birthday, they decide to call for a prostitute. (For the record, I got a drill.) At first Penny is horrified and runs out. She comes back to get her forgotten purse and we realize that even though she's a hooker, she's just a sad frightened girl that needs to care about someone as much as she needs to be cared for.

Written and starring the Polish brothers, the film is truly a work of art. It never strays into the obvious points of ridicule but instead settles for subtle imagery. The bicycle scene at the end was both brillant and innovative. I can't tell you more about it without giving it away.

The relationship between Penny and Blake is real and tragic, all at once. Francis, the weaker of the two twins realizes he's the anchor that is dragging down Blake. There's a fight scene between the two that was so uncomfortable to watch it would almost make you cry in its saddness.

The movie ends like I thought it would but it still pulls off a wonderful lesson of life. I felt sad, uplifted and hopeful for these wonderful characters.

In a million years, I would not expect owning this movie, but I plan on picking up the DVD for what must be a fascinating extras set. If you're looking for a film to remind you how cruel and wonderful at the same time humanity can be, I would highly recommend this film.

Monday, August 08, 2005

At Their Mercy

I've made a lot of money in the past three years selling real estate. I mean, a LOT of money.

I made more money on my last house in two years than I made working at the job I bought the house for.

The funny thing is, I don't know jack about real estate.

I was sitting at a baseball game yesterday when my realtor called me. He rambled off about 500 different words in realtor-speak before I stopped him and said "So what exactly do I have to do?"

"Nothing," he replied.

"Well done Jeremy," I said, and went and bought a hot dog.

The most money I have every committed to anything in my life is about to be spent and I haven't a f'ing clue what's going on. That's not to say that I didn't try. I try to read everything, ask annoying questions and generally be a nuisance. But when you're selling a house and buying another the next day, they honestly don't want you involved in the process. My realtor in Virginia Beach has the complete power to do just about anything in my name for 24 hours on Thursday. Hopefully, she uses this power for good, and not evil.

Then, this disembodied voice that I only know as "Carrie" (oddly enough, the name of the realtor who sold me my FIRST house) will take that money and transmit to another disembodied woman named "Linda" (oddly enough, the name of the first person I kissed in the back of my friend Terry's car) who then squeezes a large amount of fees out of it, and gives it to the owners of the home I'm buying (that I'm NOT allowed to talk to until the closing even though I really want to know why they won't fix the toilet) in which case they then give me the keys to the house, but legally (in the state of Washington) not until 9pm that evening if they should choose (so they can use the broken toilet, if they wish).

Phew. What the hell was that?

Oh yeah, and somewhere in there Jeremy will take a lot of money from the broken toilet people and then no longer pretend to be my friend.

I hate buying and selling houses. However, the process these days is really easier than buying a slurpee. You point to the house you want, and say "buy it". Close your eyes, sign every piece of paper put in front of you (this could be in the thousands) and within about 1 month, it's yours.

We put a lot of trust in realtors and mortgage companies. If they should ever rise against us, we'd never see it coming.

I ate my hot dog in peace, knowing I would never be able to afford an $8 hot dog again.

Friday, August 05, 2005

More Movie Reviews

Ok, I'm feeling totally uninspired tonight and don't feel like writing any great works of wisdom. Instead, I'll you about tonight's movie, Wedding Crashers.

I laughed my ass off.

Don't go looking for great art, unless you consider lots of gratuitious booby shots art, which I do. In which case, there was a lot of art here.

If you're looking for a good time that requires minimal thought, I definitely recommend this one.

Movies at 35,000 Feet

It dawned on me the other day, that the last several movies I have seen have all been on airplanes and NOT in the theaters. Thus, here are some quick reviews as I have nothing important to blog about today:

Hitch - This lighthearted Will Smith comedy was pretty awful. Improbable, slow, plodding, just not so good. Parts of it just made no sense. Even Kevin James, who normally makes me laugh, looked uncomfortable in this movie.

Guess Who - Bernie Mac and Ashton Kutcher star in this loose remake of "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner". I have to admit, that I laughed pretty good through this film. You're not supposed to laugh on a plane (or scream "We're all gonna DIE!") but I did anyway. Mac is great. This one's a good Netflix choice.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - I was excited to see this was my film for the west bound flight but I really wondered if the "normal" people on the plane would "get it". I don't think they did. People looked generally more bewildered than usual. Truth be told, I didn't like it much either. I knew the story and all the jokes, of course, but it just didn't seem to flow. I'll stick with the books or the original radio show. A valiant attempt, sure. But I think it missed the mark.

Now, I had some time to kill last night, so I finally got around to seeing Fantastic Four, which I had predicted would suck.

However, I really enjoyed this film. It's not a "great" film by any means and won't score terribly high on the "best comic book movies" list, but it was fun, the characters were well developed (except Doom, who I think they missed completely and instead inserted Norman Osborn). The effects left a bit to be desired. But, it was a good popcorn film and will probably find a place on my DVD shelf.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

More Weirdness

I believe that sometimes things are not always coincidence and things oftentimes happen for a reason. Sometimes it's not evident until years later, but I do think that we're left "roadsigns" in life that give us a nudge which way to go.

Consider something my wife pointed out the other day. I had looked at 40-some houses in my search to find a new home. I was getting discouraged and it was not so much fun toward the end. The house that I eventually chose, and purchased, is a great house. My wife had memorized the MLS number so she could look up the listing online and look at the pics. I asked her how she could have memorized it so fast. The reason, she said, is that the first three digits were the same in all the houses I looked at. The fourth digit was zero, and the last four digits were also the last four digits of our phone number in Virginia Beach, which coincidentally spelled...