Happy New Year!

Headin' out in a bit. Hope everyone has a fun, and safe, evening.



How resolute are you?

New Year's Resolutions - 2006

1. Go to the gym at least three times a week.

2. Continue to get good grades.

3. Get out of the house more, provided it doesn't interfere with resolution number 2.

And that's all I got so far. Possibly more to come.


Oy to the world

Perhaps I was mistaken when I wrote in an earlier post that I liked people...

Tonight, my brother-in-law's family had their annual (or so I hear) Hanukkah/Christmas/Whatever party, which I'm fairly certain I'd never before attended. I spent the evening sitting around talking with my father, brother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, for the most part, all of whom I like and get along well with. Nearly everyone else at the party, however, meh.

Maybe it's wrong to say that I dislike people. I think it's more that I simply don't care enough to get to know anyone, least of all people I'll more than likely never see again. I just don't feel the need, let alone desire, to make small talk with strangers, even if they're mishpocha.

I think this feeling stems from the fact that I don't have very much in the way of family, myself. I have my immediate family, of course, my parents, my brother and his family, my sister and her family, and other than them, there's not much else. My father's mother lives in Pittsburgh, as does a cousin of mine and his wife (whom I've never met), and my mother's brother lives in California with his wife...at least, I think they got remarried, while their son, my other cousin, goes to school at NYU. That's it. That's the list.

I didn't grow up with a vast network of doting grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My family has always been spread out pretty thinly from sea to shining sea, and so the little family I do have, I hardly saw while growing up.

A lot of family died before I was born, so I never even had a chance to get to know many of them. My father's father died when Dad was thirteen, and my mother's father died...god, I don't even know. Sometime in the early 70s, I want to say, but don't quote me. Hell, my father's mother (my only remaining grandparent) is technically his stepmom, as his birth mother died shortly after he was born.

In the years since I was born, my family has seen the death of my father's sister and her husband, and my mother's mother and her second husband. I won't even try to figure out how many other, more distant, aunts, uncles, and cousins have died, though I know there's been a handful.

Getting to know, even for five minutes, someone else's family...it just doesn't appeal to me. I hardly have any extended family of my own and I really don't want anyone else's, no matter how nice they may be.

Maybe I feel cheated...


Steven Spielberg has made some of the most popular popcorn films ever, from Jaws and E.T. to the Indiana Jones trilogy (eventually a quadrilogy?) and Jurassic Park. It is precisely because he knows how to entertain us with thrills and chills that has given him the ability, and freedom, to make, perhaps, some of the most important films as well.

Starting with Schindler's List in '93 (the same year as the aforementioned Park), Spielberg has created some astonishingly, hauntingly, beautiful, personal films. Following List was Saving Private Ryan, which begat HBO's Band of Brothers, and now, Munich, the story of Israeli retribution against the Palestinian terrorist group Black September after the murder of eleven Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games.

Using Israel's vengeance as a backdrop, Munich is the story of Avner, the Mossad agent charged with tracking down eleven terrorist leaders and killing them, to show that Israel is strong, and isn't going away any time soon. As one of the Mossad agents says in the film, "Don't fuck with the Jews."

The film chronicles Avner's descension from a loving husband and new father to a paranoid, haunted man, a shell of his former self, as the blood on his hands thickens. It's a wonder his wife was able to recognize him at the end. Death takes more of its toll from those who pull the trigger, rather than those whom the bullet finds.

What, Munich asks, is the final cost of peace? How much war, how much death, must be meted out before it's enough?

It's late, so I think I'll save the film's technical merits, of which there are many, for another time. I will say, however, that Munich is, by far, one of Spielberg's best-looking films in recent memory, if not ever. This is the work of a master who knows his craft inside and out, backwards and forwards. Absolutely one of the year's best, and most important, films.


Got Nothin'

This has really been a pretty boring week. I had class on Monday, and that's it until the day after New Year's. I've been reading, catching up on my Stargate SG-1 viewing (almost done with season 1), and that's pretty much it. The roads are clogged with holiday shoppers, so who would even want to leave the house only to fight through all that traffic. It's just not worth it.

It never ceases to boggle the mind how people let themselves get so crazy this time of year. For Jews, Hanukkah isn't anywhere close to being a major holiday, and for gentiles, I mean, here. The month of December has just become an excuse to purchase overpriced stuff for people who don't need any more overpriced stuff. The holidays have lost all of their original meaning. December is corporate America's biggest wet dream.

There are people who will say that this isn't true, that it's a time for families to get together, which is fine. Family is important, after all, and it's not like you didn't just see everybody a month ago for Thanksgiving. But why can't everyone get together without maxing out their credit cards?

Anyway. Merry Chrismukkah or Hannimastice, or whatever it is you celebrate.


Sounds about right

You Have a Melancholic Temperament

Introspective and reflective, you think about everything and anything.

You are a soft-hearted daydreamer. You long for your ideal life. You love silence and solitude. Everyday life is usually too chaotic for you.

Given enough time alone, it's easy for you to find inner peace. You tend to be spiritual, having found your own meaning of life. Wise and patient, you can help people through difficult times.

At your worst, you brood and sulk. Your negative thoughts can trap you. You are reserved and withdrawn. This makes it hard to connect to others.

You tend to over think small things, making decisions difficult.



Because of the two A's I got at Metro this past quarter, I made the Dean's List.

Strikes me as a rather dubious honor, like Crash Davis setting the record for most home runs hit in the minors, though perhaps I'm simply too cynical.


Kong is King

I wonder how many reviews have used the same title for their headlines...

As many of you already know, Peter Jackson's King Kong is three hours long. I'm not sure if it necessarily had to be three hours long, and, at times, it certainly felt three hours long, but overall, I'd say it's worth your time and money. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck.

You can really tell how much Jackson absolutely loves the original film. His adoration is visible in every meticulous frame, from the opening credits that evoke the Hollywood of old that made his beloved original, to the minute details of the big ape himself.

And what a creation that monkey truly is. Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings, set the standard for CGI acting, and Kong vaults that bar like it was nothing. I mean, with Gollum, a creature like that doesn't exist in nature. But Kong is just a huge gorilla, and if you didn't know better, you wouldn't know better. He looks amazingly real.

I've never been a huge Kong fan. The original film never did much for me, and I doubt I'd have seen this remake had it not been made by Peter Jackson, but I'm very glad he decided to make it (or, rather, Universal let him make it). He and his partners crafted a beautiful story, very touching, both funny and sad at the same time, because even though you know how it's going to end, you wish it wouldn't.

The entire cast did a great job. I'm sure it was insanely difficult performing with all the CGI animals and dinosaurs and more disgusting insects than you would care to imagine. Naomi Watts has this look, it'll just break your heart. It's obvious how the great ape could fall for her Ann Darrow. Adrien Brody was a very convincing playwright, though I'm wondering how a writer could become such an action/adventure hero at the drop of a hat. And Jack Black's Carl Denham...he's always been funny, but there was some real acting going on here. He's the ultimate showman, Peter Jackson's on-screen persona, his alter ego, displaying all the joy and ambition that Jackson himself must feel when he creates one of his masterpieces.

And a masterpiece it is. King Kong is an exciting, heartwrenching, action-packed extravaganza. It's truly something you've never seen before, and neither Carl Denham or Peter Jackson would have it any other way.

Dream a little dream

I seem to have my most bizarre and vivid dreams after I wake up and then fall back asleep. I dunno why. And they seem to linger just a bit longer after I wake up for good, though it's not like I could make heads or tails of them.

Well, maybe tales...

In this morning's dream, I was on the run. From who, I've no idea. And I was bringing someone with me, someone I busted out of prison, but I don't remember who they were. I think he started out as Donovan McNabb, but he became someone else once we got out of the prison. The cops were after us, or maybe the feds. I kept wondering why they hadn't tried to call my cell phone yet, because they had to have known it was me who did it, and they had my number, because I was friends with one of them. Maybe I was one of them. It was all very weird.

How 'bout y'all? Any strange dreams recently?


Blah blah blah

Tuesday night was my World Civ I final exam, dealing with the first people in Central and South America, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Crusades, and, last but not least, Islam, which was the topic for the essay question. I must admit, had I known, prior to taking the test, that I was getting 151.5 out of 150 available points, I may not have busted my butt in studying quite as much as I did. I just checked my grade online and I officially received an A+, for the first time in my life, I'm sure.

UNO is done for the semester. First day of the next semester starts up the day after New Year's Day, I believe. Also, I have one day left at Metro, Monday, before break, with classes resuming the same week that UNO begins.

Not much else is going on, really. King Kong opened yesterday. I think I'm shooting for a noon show tomorrow, because I figure it won't be super crowded in the early afternoon.

I've been thinking about my life a lot lately, how empty it is, relatively speaking. I mean, I don't do anything. I go to class and I study and I read books and comics and watch downloaded TV shows on my laptop. I suppose I've never been much of a social person, which has generally been okay with me. The occasional party at Becky's, or wherever, is fine, but being around people on a more consistant basis, I just sort of shrug my shoulders and go, "Meh."

It's not that I don't like people, because I do. Some of them, anyway. My friends. And it's not that I don't have anything to talk about, because if there's one thing I am, it's opinionated. About a wide variety of topics. But there's something about just hanging out and getting a beer or something that doesn't appeal to me in the slightest anymore. Not very often, at any rate.

Every once in a while, though, I get this weird longing for something I haven't had in years, this ghost memory skipping across my mind, like when you skip a stone across a lake.

I tell myself, though, and I'm pretty convincing about it, that I'm not planning on being here very long. That once I'm finally done with college, once I have that piece of paper, I'm out of here. Again. Back to the West Coast. L.A. San Diego. San Francisco. Seattle. Portland. Away from the ice and snow and chill of winter. So what would be the point, were I so inclined, to start up any new relationships if I just want to leave town?

It's a decent enough excuse, I suppose, to not let anyone get close to me (were they so inclined). That way, more often than not, lies pain and heartache, too, and who wants to go through all that crap again?

It's all a game of "What if...", and no one knows what will happen in the next couple of years. I could meet the love of my life in one of my new UNO classes next semester, someone for whom I'd willingly stay in Omaha. Or I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. Who knows?

This is the part where I'd say, "The point is...", but I don't think I necessarily have one right now. Just mumbling out loud to myself. It feels like it's been a while since I babbled.

I had the strangest dream last night, and now I don't remember a thing. I kept waking up slightly because the idiot dog would bark, and I'd slowly fall back into REM, and these weird images would jump out at me...it was more a dream that felt weird. Wrong, somehow. Askew. I dunno. Whatever. Dream's just a dream. Until it comes true, anyway.


Jesus is Magic

I just got home from Sarah Silverman's new concert film. Oh my god, I laughed so hard I thought I was gonna plotz.

From my father I always hear, "Why don't you meet a nice Jewish girl?" And I always tell him that there aren't any (just kidding, Jennie), but, man, Sarah Silverman...she is a nice Jewish girl.

1) She's smart.

2) She's funny.

3) She's beautiful.

4) She can sing.

5) And she's got a filthy mouth.

What's not to love?


Too bad she's shtupping Jimmy Kimmel...


What Hit Song of 2005 Are You?

New quiz, Jamie's fault.

Your 2005 Song Is

Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day

"My shadow's the only one that walks beside me.
My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating."

In 2005, you bummed everyone out. Like you care.


Black & Gold

The Steelers finally won.
First time in four games.
Still might miss playoffs.

The price of oil

Syriana is an important film, given the times in which we live. It deals with America's dependence on foreign (Middle Eastern) oil, and the lengths the U.S. will go to protect its interests. It is a complicated, convoluted story, and more than one viewing is probably necessary to fully understand the subtle nuances of Stephen Gaghan (writer of Traffic)'s directorial debut.

The story is told from four seemingly disparate points of view, a grizzled CIA spook, an energy analyst who finds himself consulting for oil-rich Mid East royalty, Texas oil company executives, and a poor, Middle Eastern oil field worker who finds himself out of work. Each would be a compelling tale on its own, and thrown together like this makes for a bit of a jumble, but it's a movie worth puzzling out.

This is a film that makes you think, that doesn't talk down to its audience. It assumes your intelligence and at least a cursory knowledge of the subject matter, and it just might change your opinion about America's influence in the region, whether we've truly been helpful, or a hinderence.



In Good Company didn't turn out quite the way I was expecting it to, which I appreciate to no end. It's a refreshing change when a movie actually surprises me.

And it has an awesome soundtrack.

End of 2005 wrap-up

Feel free to blame Sarah for the following. I do.

1) Was 2005 a good year for you?
Didn't start out that way, but it seems to be ending on an up note.

2) What was your favorite moment of the year?
Might've been getting the A's in last quarter/semester's classes.

3) What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Probably that god-awful drive home from SoCal.

4) Where were you when 2005 began?
In a movie theatre at Disneyland watching The Life Aquatic.

5) Who were you with?
The aforementioned Sarah and her then-fiance Josh.

6) Where will you be when 2005 ends?
At Becky's, I imagine.

7) Who will you be with when 2005 ends?
Um, whomever else decides to go to Becky's.

8) Did you keep your new years resolution of 2005?
Don't do resolutions.

9) Do you have a new years resolution for 2006?

10) Did you fall in love in 2005?
Surprisingly, no.

11) If yes, with who?

12) If yes, do they know?

13) Are you still in love with them?:

14) You regret it?

15) Did you breakup with anyone in 2005?

16) Did you make any new friends in 2005?
None that immediately come to mind.

17) Who are your favorite new friends?

18) What was your favorite month of 2005?
Maybe June, when I started going back to school.

19) Did you travel outside of the US in 2005?

20) How many different states did you travel to in 2005?
Started in California and drove to Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and back to Nebraska. Since then, I've been in Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota, too. So...eight.

21) Did you lose anybody in 2005?
Not in the sense that anybody died.

22) Did you miss anybody in the past year?
Yeah, I think so.

23) What was your favorite movie that you saw in 2005?
Batman Begins.

24) What was your favorite song from 2005?
"Breakfast Club," by DJ Z-Trip, featuring Murs and Supernatural.

25) What was your favorite record from 2005?
Shifting Gears, by Z-Trip

26) How many concerts did you see in 2005?
No idea. Not many.

27) Did you have a favorite concert in 2005?
The only concert I can actually remember going to was the Faint/Bright Eyes show, so that one, I guess. I went for the Faint.

28) Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2005?
Not really.

29) Did you do a lot of drugs in 2005?

30) How many people did you sleep with in 2005?
None yet.

31) Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
Ashamed? No. Regret? Sure.

33) What was the worst lie someone told you in 2005?
Can't think of any. They must have been really good liars.

34) Did you treat somebody badly in 2005?

35) Did somebody treat you badly in 2005?

36) How much money did you spend in 2005?
Not much, seeing as how I don't have any.

37) What was your proudest moment of 2005?
Getting those aforementioned A's.

38) What was your most embarrassing moment of 2005?

39) If you could go back in time to any moment of 2005 and change something, what would it be?
The way things were left when I left CA.

40) What are your plans for 2006?
Just to continue going to school and getting closer to my degree.


Havi Haiku

The dog started barking like crazy at, like, six this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...Havi Haiku.

Shut the hell up, dog.
Why the fuck are you barking?
I'll throw you outside.


It's still dark outside.
Dear lord, why am I awake?
I will kill that dog.


I wake with a start.
It's too early to be up.
Motherfuckin' dog.


What is it, Havi?
Do you want to go outside?
Can't it fuckin' wait?


Snow blankets the yard.
Why is some of it moving?
Oh, that is the dog.


All she does is bark.
The slightest thing sets her off.
She is so nervous.

Everybody now, write a haiku. They're fun.


Home again

Got back from Minneapolis a couple of hours ago. It was an uneventful drive with very little traffic, seventy-five MPH the whole way.

It was nice to see Ryan and Jami again, though it'd only been a week since I saw them last, rather than the usual two or three months in-between visits. Got a chance to see their apartment before they start moving into their new house at the end of the month.

The reading/signing at Dreamhaven was fun, though it made for a bit of a long day. It started around two. Neil spoke for a bit, then read a little from his new novel, Anansi Boys, followed by a brief Q&A before the "signing" portion of the day began. From the end of the Q&A to Ryan, Jami, and I getting our books signed was about three hours, give or take. That's a lot of standing around in a bookstore, lemme tell ya.

Also, I think I'm starting to run out of things to ask Neil to sign for me.

Not much else to write about at the moment. Got a short essay I need to write for my philosophy class, so I suppose I should get started.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.


Gone Fishin'

Okay, not exactly fishing, as it's winter...and I've never fished before in my life, for that matter...

Headin' to Minneapolis in a bit, to see Ryan & Jami, and Neil. Hopefully it won't snow too much during the trip.

Cell phone will be on if you have anything interesting to say. I'll be back in Omaha Sunday evening.

Be good while I'm away.


Which superhero are you?

Your results:
You are Spider-Man
Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility.
Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...


Gordon Lee Hearing Begins Thursday, CBLDF Kicks Off Auctions

This kinda stuff is important to me, which is why I've posted this here rather than the Links site.

This Thursday the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund goes to court in Rome, GA on behalf of retailer Gordon Lee. The CBLDF legal team will be arguing at a hearing on motions to dismiss charges against Lee. Lee is facing two counts of violating Georgia's unconstitutional Unlawful Dissemination of Nudity/Sexual Conduct law, as well as 5 counts of Distributing Harmful to Minors Material for accidentally distributing a copy of Alternative Comics #2, a free comic book day comic that depicted artist Pablo Picasso in the nude. CBLDF attorneys Alan Begner and Paul Cadle will be providing oral arguments for four motions submitted on Lee's behalf earlier this year. For full info on these motions, please visit: http://www.cbldf.org/pr/archives/000254.shtml

To support the court costs of this very important hearing, the Fund is launching seven eBay auctions this afternoon at 3:00 Eastern/12:00 Pacific Time. Items offered will include All Star Batman & Robin #1, the RRP Variant edition signed by Jim Lee & Frank Miller, CGC Graded 9.8; original Jonathan Luna Spider-Woman art; original Jaime Hernandez Hopey art; the coveted Hellblazer #27 signed by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and more. This auction begins a two-week auction initiative to offset the costs of this very important case.

"Right now we are embarking on the first step of the next phase of the Gordon Lee defense," says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. "Our attorneys have written a series of excellent motions supporting Gordon's innocence, and now we're going to court to move forward on proving his innocence. We've spent $40,000 to get this far, and it's going to get more expensive as we move ahead. That's why we hope that our supporters are generous in their bidding on these auctions, and why we encourage everyone who values the First Amendment to make a donation to the Fund in the weeks before year's end. If you're not a member or due to renew, now is a good time. If you've already paid this year's dues and can afford it, now would be a good time to give an additional gift. Your donations will help us to continue our aggressive defense of Gordon's innocence, and the industry's rights to free expression that are threatened by this case."

To bid on this week's auctions, please visit http://search.ebay.com/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ25QQsassZcbldf

In the midst of all your insane holiday shopping, the CBLDF could sure use some help. A ten or twenty dollar donation surely won't break your bank, will it?



Quick school update

It's official. I received A's in both Metro classes, Algebra and Geography: Landforms. And with a few weeks yet to go, I've still got that A in my UNO World Civ class.

For the life of me, I can't remember the last time I received straight A's. Probably sometime in elementary school when I was first learnin' my readin', writin', and 'rithmetic. Granted, it's only three classes, but this is me we're talkin' about, so consider me sorta proud o' myself.


Thankfully Over

Another Thanksgiving weekend is slowly coming to a close. Out-of-town family and friends have either gone to the airport or packed up their cars or trucks, to join the outflow on the highways and interstates.

As always, it's nice to have the entire family together. The kids all got along with very little fuss and yelling between them. The loudest seemed to be little Logan, who entertained all with his favorite game, "Will This Fly?" When he got revved up, you had to stay sharp to stay out of the way of flying food or Legos, deadly projectiles in the hands of an eighteen-month-old.

My friends, Ryan and Jami, will be heading home to Minneapolis shortly. Always good to see them, but there never seems to be enough time to really catch up, which, of late, has become the rule rather than the exception.

They brought with them pictures from the wedding, which I vaguely remember attending, and from their honeymoon in Japan. Also, Ryan had pictures of their new house on his laptop. It appears to be nice and roomy, a good first home for a young couple.

It was good to see Alissa again, too. After all the hand-wringing and apologizing that occurred on our blogs prior to her coming to town, we quickly fell back into our old friendship, apparently none the worse for wear.

All we did this weekend, it feels like, was eat. I think I'd be okay with not eating again until class starts up again on Tuesday. Haven't gotten near enough sleep either, not what I've been used to getting lately, at any rate. I should be able to return to my normal schedule tonight or tomorrow.

Map quiz Tuesday night in my UNO World Civ class, then a week off, then the final exam the week after that. New Metro classes begin on Wednesday. Philosophy and another science class, this one dealing with Weather & Climate. I took this class a few years back, but stopped attending somewhere towards the end of the quarter. Got a D. Perhaps I'll do better now that I actually care how I do.

Not much else on the plate for the coming week. Need to get my new license plates tomorrow, and hopefully stop by the chiropractor and the gym. Been a while since I've done either of those. And then next weekend I'm planning on heading up to Minneapolis. Figure this'll be the only chance I'll get to see Ryan and Jami's apartment before they move into the house in December/January.

And coincidentally enough, Neil Gaiman is doing a reading/signing at Dreamhaven Books on Saturday. I haven't seen Neil since last year at the San Diego comic convention, and I have new things I'd like him to sign.

Anyway, football starts soon (though the Steelers don't play until Monday night), so I'm gonna take off. I just want a day of peace and quiet with no children running around. For that, I would be extremely thankful. Is that really too much to ask?


Which literature classic are you?

George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four. You are the classic warning against the threat of totalitarianism. To you, politics and philosophy are inseparable, authorities suck, and reality might not exist outside our imaginations.

Which literature classic are you?
brought to you by Quizilla



It was a decent enough movie. Too much singing. If I had know there would be all that singing, I dunno if I would've gone. I mean, I can't understand why these people couldn't have simple conversations with each other, instead of breaking into song every two minutes. What's up with that?

And there was this one crazy chick sitting next to me, she was singing along with the movie practically the whole way through. Some people, y'know, they just have no consideration for their fellow theatre patrons.

Happy Thanksgiving

So...whacha got to be thankful for?

I'll go first.

I'm thankful that I have such amazing, understanding, and supportive parents, who have put up with my crap for many, many years now. Perhaps all that patience is finally bearing fruit.

And I'm thankful that I didn't completely destroy a wonderful friendship earlier this year.


November 22, 1963

The death of the American dream? How different would today's world be had Jack, and later, his brother, not been murdered?


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Meh

I'm not a Harry Potter fan, nor have I ever professed to be one. I've never read the books and I've only seen one film, the previous one, and only that because of Gary Oldman and Alfonso Cuaron, so I feel I can say with some certainty that I'm quite the outsider when it comes to this subject.

I can also say, in terms of pure cinema, this fourth Potter film was, to put it mildly, quite boring for me. There were some clever, funny, creepy, and spooky moments, to be sure, but they were few and far between, and what filled in the gaps was, very simply, dull. As an outsider, I felt no emotional attachment to these characters. I can't say I cared about them one way or another, which is always a problem with adaptations. You have to please your core audience, of course, but you also want to entice and entertain those who perhaps aren't as familiar with the source material, which I don't feel this film did as well as Cuaron's Prisoner of Azkaban.

Brendan Gleeson was fantastic as "MadEye" Moody, the new, maybe-crazy Dark Arts teacher. He was just brilliant, stealing every scene he was in. And Ralph Fiennes was decidedly sinister as the series' Big (bald and noseless) Bad, Voldemort. Fiennes does villainous extremely well. Always has, ever since Schindler's List, and I think Hollywood should definitely give him more opportunities to showcase his evil side (and no, the remaining Potter films don't count).

Unfortunately, Gary Oldman's return as Sirius Black (Harry's what, godfather, right?) was all too brief. He was reduced to a pile of ashes in this film, and I mean that quite literally. His only scene was as a face of burning embers speaking to Harry from a fireplace. Nice effects and all that, but c'mon. You have Gary freakin' Oldman in your movie. There's got to be more for him to do than fizzle and crackle as kindling.

I was also rather disappointed in Mike Newell's directing. He told the story well enough, got us from point A to B to C, but he did it without any of the style and flair that Cuaron infused the last film with.

As I never read the book, I cannot comment on whether the film was accurately adapted or not. However, as I always say, when it comes to novel-to-film adaptations, you must leave the book outside the theatre as you enter. It is incredibly difficult to make any film, let alone one based on a seven-hundred plus page novel. When condensing hundreds of pages of prose into a two or two and a half hour film, and have it make sense...you must understand the sheer magnitude of such a task.

It's not an easy job, and is usually quite thankless. Screenwriters are already the least respected talent in Hollywood, and they have the hardest job. Without them, you get no movie at all, the bad or the good, so I don't want to hear anything about how different the movie is from the book. It doesn't matter. What matters is, did what was up on that screen work as a film? Was it able to adequately tell the story it set out to tell? Was the source material treated respectfully, so that the themes, the spirit, of the original work came through?

All in all, it was not the longest two and a half hours of my life, though it certainly wasn't brisk. I'm sure I'll still see the fifth film (I hear Gary Oldman's going to have a great scene in that one, what with the dying and all), though I probably wouldn't mind waiting until the DVDs come out.

And with that, I'm off to bed. It's way past my bedtime. I haven't been up this late in weeks and I am exhausted...


Superman Returns

Normally, I'd put something like this on my Links page, but this is important.

The first trailer for next summer's return of Superman, complete with the late Marlon Brando and the music of John Williams.

And they say you can't go home again...

(The trailer will also be attached to all prints of Harry Potter, so we'll get to see it on the big screen sooner rather than later.)



I was finally able to finish registering for next semester's classes last night. I had a bit of a problem with my GPA at UNO, so I had to prove myself, basically.

It turned out that the School of Communication (which encompasses my Journalism major) requires a minimum 2.25 GPA to sign up for its classes, of which I was unaware. The advisor I spoke with a month ago forgot about this little snippet of information.

What's that? My GPA? 1.5.

My college career got off to a pretty good start, you may be surprised to know. After my first year at Youngstown State, I had a 3.0. I followed that up with a pretty decent semester at UNO, and then the wheels began to fall off. After an aborted stint at Iowa, followed by numerous classes, first at UNO, and then Metro, that I registered for, paid for, and then stopped going to midway through (without withdrawing), my GPA sort of plummeted. Go figure.

The bottom line was that I shouldn't have been in school during those years. I didn't care about it. My heart wasn't in it, and I'm one of those people who, you know, if I don't care about something, I really don't care. But I kept trying to go to school. Because it was expected of me. Because I didn't want to let my parents down (which, of course, I did every time I stopped going to a class).

So, yes, all this led to a 1.5 GPA and no direction in life.

I was directed to one of the heads of the department on Tuesday, and we played voice mail tag until yesterday morning. I explained to her my situation, that I started off college pretty well, then fell into this sort of malaise (for a number of years), but that I'm actually serious about school this time, that I'm paying attention in class, and getting good grades.

This woman, Dr. Wilson, she liked what she was hearing, but, of course, couldn't just take my word for it all, so she wanted me to get a hold of my professors and have them send her a note about my current grades and demeanor in class. You know, how I'm getting along, what kind of student I am, things like that. So began a mad scramble.

I spoke with my science teacher before my noon class. I had had a class of his a few years ago, one of those classes I sort of stopped going to (got a D, I think). This time around, however, is a bit different, which he's noticed. I asked him if he could fire off a quick email to Dr. Wilson, to help me prove my seriousness.

Then I had to get a hold of my World Civ teacher, whose name I had forgotten. I didn't have any of the paperwork for his class with me yesterday, because that class is Tuesday nights, so I called UNO and after a series of calls, I found out the name of the teacher (Mayfield) and got his office number. Explained the situation to him as well, and he was more than willing to write a note in my favor.

Later that day, as I was getting ready to head to my algebra class and go over the same thing with that teacher, I got a call from Dr. Wilson. After receiving the two "glowing" reports from my science and history professors, she decided to go ahead and lift the block on my name and let me register for the Media Writing class (which, I guess, everyone in the School of Communication has to take). I was able to get the original time and day I wanted for the class, too, so I think I've got pretty nice upcoming schedule.

I've never been what one might call an A student. Maybe back in elementary school, y'know, but that's it. From middle school onward, C's all the way. I was always told how smart I was, which I am, but who wants to constantly hear it over and over and over again? That's a lot of pressure. So I think it was a bit of a backlash towards that. "If I'm so damn smart, I can get by without even really trying." I just didn't care.

Turns out I care now, and it's amazing what you can accomplish when you give a shit. I'm getting an A in the science class, an A in World Civ (113/116 available points, according to my teacher), and I never really found out my grade from my algebra teacher, because I didn't have to ask her for a note, but I'm fairly certain I'm getting a B or an A.

It's been a long, long time since I got grades like this, since I even cared what grades I received, and it's kind of a weird feeling. I think I'm still, partly, doing this for my parents, because they've done nothing but believe in me despite my constant and consistent fucking-up, but mostly I'm doing it for myself, which makes all the difference in the world.


Good Night, and Good Luck

George Clooney's black & white film about journalist Edward R. Murrow's clashes with Senator Joseph McCarthy over the latter's Communist witch hunt is, perhaps, one of the most important movies of the past decade, and it is especially prescient given the world in which we now live.

One could simply replace the word "Communist" with "terrorist" in many of McCarthy's speeches and they would sound remarkably similar to much of the current political dogma being spewed forth from today's White House.

It illustrates further proof that the old adage remains true. If we refuse to learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.

This film also sheds even more light on the responsibility of our reporters and journalists, that their job is to act as a check to those in power, to question their authority, to make certain they don't overstep their bounds.

Uncovering and reporting the truth is what matters. Anything else is unnecessary distraction.


Spontaneous Rant of the Day (#3)

You know what really annoys me, in all its myriad facets? Blind obedience. I don't understand it. I don't get people who would simply follow something, a person, an idea, without ever giving thought as to why.

This is a topic that can veer off into so many different arenas. People blindly follow everything from religion to sports teams (which, so some, are religions unto themselves). Writers, artists, bands, politicians. There are people out there who simply accept anything and everything that comes out of certain people's mouths, and I just don't get it.

Religion and politics are probably the two biggest hot-button issues in the world today, the ones that really fire people up, and for the most part, these people aren't speaking, or even thinking for themselves. They merely spout whatever the talking point of the day is without ever really giving any thought to what it is they're saying, let alone why.

Just because something is written in the Bible, or the Qur'an, or the Torah, just because some politician rattles off some bullshit excuse for whatever he's just gotten into trouble for, that doesn't make it truth.

We are born with the ability to think and to reason, and with that comes a responsibility, not an option, but a responsibility, to question the world around us, to question everything. That's how we learn. That's how we better ourselves.

"Question Authority" is more than a snappy motto that looks good on a bumper sticker. It is our obligation as people.

Politics and religion are, of course, not the only domain in which obedience is given without hesitation. It happens everywhere, in every walk of life. There are people who will defend their favorite author and declare that anything and everything he or she has written is brilliant (I will admit to succumbing to this every once in a while, though I'm aware of it and I try not to).

The same goes for music, and art, and poetry. There are some people who will absolutely swear that music begins and ends with the Beatles. Or Led Zeppelin. Or Pink Floyd. They will say that every album is the best ever, and if you dare to criticize it, they will vehemently defend the work as if it were their own.

Sports is a huge part of life all around the world. People are downright fanatical about their teams, and if you're not, too, if you innocently comment about how poorly a team is playing, or how management is ruining a team, you will be branded as "not a true fan."

Take Nebraska, for example. People here love their Cornhuskers, which is fine. There's not much to do in this state, so people rally around the university's football team. It is as much a religion here as Christianity is. And what have we already said about blindly following religion?

I was born in Kentucky, but raised in Omaha. I grew up surrounded by sycophantic football fans who would, to this day, kiss the very ground Tom Osborne walked upon. I rooted for the team, sure. Everyone else was doing it, but it was the extent to which people rooted that always annoyed me. To these people, Nebraska could do no wrong. Even when they play like crap, especially recently, people will defend them to no end. It's one thing to be a fan, but it's entirely another to ignore reality.

A true fan, and this goes for any and all of the above examples, religion, politics, writers, whatever, would be critical of the object of their adoration. A true fan would always want the best effort, but would be able to acknowledge when a less-than-stellar performance is put forth. That doesn't make you any less of a fan. It makes you more of one because you so badly want the best, and are disappointed when you don't get it.

If your team isn't very good this year, it's okay to admit. If your favorite band's new album isn't as good as the last, then say so. If your president lies to you about pre-war intelligence that he knew was bogus, then call him on it.

You point out faults so that they can be improved upon next time. If you constantly, blindly agree with someone, if all you are is a "yes" man, then things will never change, never get better, be it art or religion or what have you.

If you always say that everything is great, then how do you truly know what greatness is?

Question Authority. It's not a slogan. It's a way of life.

End of Rant

Thank You


An explanation and a link

I don't know if anyone's really noticed, but I've attempted to keep news and politics off of this main site. That was part of the problem with my previous blog. I got overwhelmed by a weird desire, a burning need to post every little bit of news I found. It was exhausting, and not the reason I had initially created the blog for in the first place, and I don't want that to happen again with this blog.

That being said, I do like to keep track of national and world news, be it political in nature, or just plain silly, and I created Nothin' But Links as a repository for such items.

I'm pointing this out now because I just posted a really great piece by one of my all-time favorite writers, Jimmy Breslin (courtesy of Common Dreams and Newsday), and I didn't want it to go unnoticed.

Read and enjoy. Or become enraged. Whichever way you lean.

Comings and Goings

Not much new to report lately. Classes are going pretty well. And since that's about all I do these days, that's pretty much all I have to talk about.

Got an 85% on my last algebra test, which is better than I was expecting. I felt fairly confident when I sat down to take the test, but then, with the sheet of paper sitting in front of me, my mind seemed to freeze up. Which sucked.

But, apparently, it didn't suck as badly as I feared. And I got a 95% on the quiz previous to the test, so I think I'm in a pretty good spot with one quiz and two tests to go (parts of chapter 9, over the quadratic formula, and the cummulative final).

I've kinda been kicking myself all day today over my World Civ test from last night. I nailed the multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank parts, missed maybe one question, but I forgot a not insignificant little part for the essay.

We were to describe the three main "religions" of early China (I put religion in quotes because one of the three isn't exactly a religion): Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. I described them as best I could remember, which was pretty well, I think, except I forgot one offshoot of Daoism.

I was sitting there last night, looking over my essay, and it seemed a bit short to me, and I kept reading it over and over again, but I couldn't think of what was missing. And then this morning, first thought that pops into my head: Popular Daoism. Which was followed shortly by my second thought: Fuck.

Oh well. Too late to worry about it now. Like I said, I know I did well on the rest of the test, and most of the essay, so I'm not expecting too many points to be taken off.

So a big group outing is being organized to go see the new Harry Potter flick next weekend. I've never read the books. Not a one. Though, last year, somehow, I was able to turn my former roommate onto them, and she practically devoured them. She cried after reading the last one.

She dragged me to see the third movie (I hadn't much cared to see the first two, and I still haven't seen them - Chris Columbus is far from a favorite director), and I will admit to enjoying it. It was nice and dark and spooky, as far as kids' movies go, thanks to Gary Oldman and Alfonso Cuaron (now there's a director).

This fourth movie was directed by Mike Newell, who directed one of my all-time favorite movies, Donnie Brasco, so I have relatively high hopes for it. It garnered a PG-13, too, which can do nothing but help the story's presentation.

Suppose I should pre-purchase my ticket.

I've recently completed many-a-novel, and all were great, and some were incredible, otherwise I wouldn't have read them. The list includes Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, Iron Sunrise, sequel to Singularity Sky, by Charles Stross, and Private Wars, the second Queen & Country novel, by Greg Rucka. Right now I'm working on Market Forces, Richard Morgan's third novel.

So many books have come out towards the end of the year, and I've gotten my hand on a few that I'd been meaning to read, it makes me kinda wish I was still keeping track of my "50 Novels in a Year" list. I've gotta be at least around twenty-five by now, if not more. Halfway isn't too bad with a month and a half to go. I had a lot on my mind this year. Plus, you know, there's all those comics and graphic novels I've read, so those have to count for something. I've read many thousands, nay, tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of pages this year. The amount of words I've read surely would fit into fifty novels.


And that's all I know, which, as usual, seems to be more than I thought I knew when I first started out.


Everyone else is doin' it...

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Fictional geography time

Okay, this has been bugging me ever since they first visited Metropolis in Smallville. I just watched Thursday night's episode (yay for BitTorrent) and they sort of confirmed that their Metropolis is in Kansas.


I'll admit to not being an expert in the locations of DC's major fictional cities. I think that Central City (where the Flash hangs out) is supposed to be in the midwest, say, around Illinois, and that Gotham is, of course, New York-ish. Metropolis has always been, in my mind, anyway, in the northeast, too. Gotham's shining, opposite number, the bright, noble reflection of Gotham's sin and squalor, and sort of modeled after Toronto (if Toronto was in the United States).

So, just, you know...Metropolis, Kansas? Not sure if I can swallow that one.

(I know, I know. Fiction. TV show. Comic book. Shut up.)


The closest DC ever came to officially locating it on the map was a reference to it being "located near New York City and Gotham City on the East Coast of the United States."

Yes, I'm a big fuckin' geek. I know, all right?

Spontaneous Rant of the Day (#2)

You know what sickens me? People (corporations, governments) that care more about profits than the health and well-being of other people, be they employees, poor citizens, or those starving in Third World nations. I don't know what disgusts me more, that so little value is placed on their lives, or that any value is at all. People should be seen as more than dollar signs.

They spoke about this briefly on last night's Real Time with Bill Maher, in relation to a discussion about the potential bird flu pandemic, and Bill made a point about the pharmaceutical companies loving this kind of thing, because it means more money in their collective pocket, which I feel is absolutely true.

Everything is all about money these days. To hell with our health, our future. If you don't have the cash for the drugs or treatments, fuck off. And it's not right.

There is so much wealth floating around out there. People and companies and governments with more money than they know what to do with, and what do they do with it? Hoard it like greedy squirrels with winter approaching. Why bother helping out their fellow man? Because there's no profit in it.

Do you know why money has value? Because we say it does. It's artificial. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago, decided that some bits of metals and minerals had higher value than others, and everyone agreed to this, and the world economy was born.

Eventually, the bits of metal became pieces of paper, and then nothing more than numbers on a computer screen, digital dollar signs floating in the aether. And people save and covet and stockpile, watching those zeroes add up.

What's the value, then, of a human life? I suppose it's artificial, too. We let hundreds of thousands die every day, so they must not be worth a whole hell of a lot, huh? One of these kids in Africa might grow up and cure cancer, if we let her. Or figure out a way to travel safely and quickly throughout the solar system. Who knows? Maybe he'll do nothing so lofty. Maybe he'll become the world's best surfer, or invent silent velcro. The point is, doesn't he deserve the chance?

What really gets me is the cold, callous nature with which we read those statistics and just shrug them off like it's nothing. If it doesn't affect us personally, we don't care. What's another million Africans, right? Well, it does matter. Know why? Because it doesn't have to be happening. It's preventable. Right now. Today, if we wanted.

"What's in it for me?" the people with the zeroes ask. Why do people always need a reason? Why can we not do something simply because it's the right thing to do? If people stopped worrying about themselves and their precious bottom lines, we could change the face of the world, and quickly. Months instead of years. Years rather than decades. It can happen if people gave a damn.

But no. The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. But we're all going to die anyway, so what's the point of it all? You can't take your precious moneies with you.

People need to realize and understand that the betterment of humanity is more important than the betterment of their bank accounts. Money and power are not the meaning of life, despite what you may hear elsewhere.

Humanity can be capable of such great things. There is so much out there to explore and learn from: space, the oceans, the rain forests, our minds. We need to stop asking, "what's in it for me?" and start wondering, "what's in it for us?"

Because we're all in this together, whether we like it or not, so we might as well start getting along and helping one another before it's too late.


Remember, remember...

the Fifth of November.


On a lighter note...

Career Inventory Test Results

Extroversion ||||||||||||||||||||| 63%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 56%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 56%
Altruism |||||||||||||||||| 60%
Inquisitiveness ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%

You are a Persuader, possible professions include - entertainer, recruiter, artist, newscaster, writer/journalist, recreation director, librarian, facilitator, politician, psychologist, housing director, career counselor, sales trainer, travel agent, program designer, corporate/team trainer, child welfare worker, social worker (elderly services), interpreter/translator, occupational therapist, executive
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There seems to be, amongst some of my friends, some animosity between them. For some, it seems to stem from high school, and for others, from more recent transgressions, and, to be honest, I've never really understood any of it. I never had enemies in high school, or rifts in friendships. I pretty much got along with everyone I hung out with, and if I didn't get along with someone, well, I wasn't dumb enough to hang out with them.

Sometimes, though, rifts occur, for whatever reasons, which usually causes what we like to call Drama within the group. Friends are torn between both injured parties, feeling like the wishbone at Thanksgiving, uncertain of what to do or who to comfort, and mainly just wanting everything to go back to the way things used to be. This can happen, of course, depending on the cause of the Drama, but sometimes it's an irreparable schism, forever making future gatherings awkward.

For example, if Person 1 is having a party, and Person 2 and Person 3 hate each other, for the harmony of the party, one or the other simply cannot be invited. Who doesn't get to come? How does one decide? Plus, with a group of friends, it's impossible to keep the party secret from whomever you decide not to invite, so someone's gonna have hurt feelings. It's all just a big mess.

And my thinking has always been, For cryin' out loud, life's too short for some shit that happened however many years ago to continue to be an issue. Can't we all just get along? And then I break into a little song and dance number.

But I digress.

Another example or two: Person 1 (but a different Person 1 than the one mentioned before) practically ostricizes themselves from the group. The reason? People don't call him (or her) to hang out. But, has Person 1 ever called anyone in the group? Has Person 1 made any real effort to stay in contact with the group? No, so Person 1 doesn't really have a reason to bitch, do they?

Or party invites don't always come from the person throwing the party, but sometimes second- or third-hand, which is how it's always been done within the group, because, really, who cares? A party's a party and it's always been known that everyone's invited (except Person 2 or Person 3, because, you know, they don't get along). But without a personal, handwritten, formal invitation, Person 1 feels slighted now.

And to that I say, Whatever. Get over it. These people have been your friends for years and you cut them off, not the other way around.

My reason for bringing all this up is, well...for some reason, lately, I've been thinking about a friend of mine's upcoming wedding. It's next year. The end of May. A full seven months away, and I'm sitting here worrying about it. Why? Because my former roommate will be there.

It has been eight months since I came home from California. In that time, I've realized I have depression, nearly had a nervous breakdown, and returned to school, pretty much in that order.

Oh, and I organized my comic book collection, too.

I have not uttered a single, solitary word to my former roommate since she thanked me for, and I quote, "screwing her over like every other guy in her life." I was surprised by how much that phrase crystalized our relationship for me, in my mind. I was trying to explain how I couldn't live out there anymore, couldn't afford it, physically or financially, that I was, basically, depressed and miserable and without a reason for existing, there or anywhere.

And what do I hear? That I'm "screwing her over." Because, you see, it was all about her. All she heard, all she cared about was how it was going to affect her, which made me feel that I was out there for the sole purpose of paying half the rent. No more, no less. I wasn't going to be missed. Just my money. (Or, to be more accurate, my parents' money, which is an entirely different, guilt-ridden post.)

And that's not reason enough to stay anywhere.

(We'll nevermind the whole being purposefully misled about trying to finally make a relationship work part.)

In essence, I felt used. Played. Conned. Whatever euphamism you wanna use. And I honestly didn't feel that anything more needed to be said. I am at peace with my life for the first time in I don't know how long. Elementary school, maybe?

I have always said that there are (at least) three sides to every story: He Said..., She Said..., and The Truth. I'm certainly not above this, and I fully realize that my former roommate remembers an entirely different version of events, which is no more or less true than my own.

When I returned to Omaha and spoke to my friends (our friends, my former roommate's and mine) of my reasons for leaving California, I like to think I did so in a not-slanderous manner. I didn't stoop to name-calling or anything like that. What I said was absolute truth (from, of course, my point-of-view).

This post has gotten rather long. My point started out being, I think, that I have no idea how I'd react to seeing my former roommate at our friend's wedding next year. Or sometime sooner than that. Like, say, around Thanksgiving.

It's probably safe to say that I'm still slightly pissed about how I feel I was used. Justified or not, who knows? Can't help the way I feel, can I? But, lately, I've been wondering if I at least owe it to her to talk about all this. After all, I can't really preach to my friends that they need to "let bygones be bygones," and, "can't we all just get along?" while I continue to hold a grudge, can I?

Then again, it's not like this is some little, petty high school Drama. I mean, moving across the country under (in my opinion) false pretenses isn't exactly minor, y'know?


I don't know.

I don't know if I want to get over this, to let it go, to have it be that "something we'll look back on and laugh about."

I don't know if I'm ready to get over this, as childish and immature as that may seem.

I don't know if I want to talk to her again.

I don't know if I want to care again.

I don't know if I can...


27 and a day

Don't you just hate having to go to class (or work, for those of you who work) on your birthday? There's just something fundamentally wrong with it, because it's ingrained into you when you're a kid that birthdays are all fun and games and excitement and wheeeee, but as you get older responsibilities take precedence, so birthdays are not-so-much fun as they are just another day.

Which is not to say that my birthday was horrible or anything. I found out I got an 86 on my geography test from last week, which is not as good as I thought I had done, but I'm getting a 92 in the class overall, so I can't complain too much. The questions I got wrong, my mind went blank at the time, so I guessed, but in hindsight, I should have known the answers. Or, at least, guessed better.

And the current algebra chapter continues to be quite easy, which worries me a bit, as I don't want to get complacent, but it's just not taking a whole lot of brain power right now. I can't really complain about it.

My sister and her family came over last night after I got out of class. We had cake, watched football (Go Steelers!), it was nice 'n quiet. Received a few phone calls and text messages and unexpected packages in the mail wishing me a happy birthday (thanks again, everyone), so, yeah, it was a pretty decent day. Nothing like the huge gay party I was at last year in San Francisco, but still good.

And now I'm off to spend the money my grandmother sent me, because she wouldn't have it any other way.


Nice knowin' y'all

I think I'm dying. This must be what that damned bird flu feels like. To quote Master Yoda, "Like shit, I feel."

I dunno what the hell happened between typing up that post about the party and my getting upstairs, but it wasn't good. I was up most of the night (the dog's incessant whining certainly didn't help with that), tossing and turning. I eventually made myself throw up at around four, four-thirty, and I felt a little better after that, but still couldn't sleep for shit.

I just ache. Everywhere. I can't imagine how bad I'd feel if I'd have had more than just the two beers last night. I took some Tylenol this morning, which helped a little, too, if by "help" you picture one shaking and sweating through one's clothes.

We were supposed to do my birthday dinner tonight, but we've postponed til next week. I don't really feel like eating, anyway, and I don't want the kids around me right now.

Supposed to have cake tonight, too. I told my father, over the summer, maybe when the new movie was in theatres, I said I wanted a "Batman" cake. Haven't had a theme cake like that since I was probably in middle school. I was lookin' forward to seeing that. I'll have to get a picture. I hope it's the Bat-symbol from the new movie.

And that's all I know. Kind of a boring day for football. Michael J. Fox is the guest tonight on Inside the Actor's Studio, so that should be good. I think I'm gonna go lie down now.

Pray for me.

Fuckin' bird flu...

Party's over

Pictures from the Halloween party are here.

It was a good time. Saw some folks I hadn't seen in a while, but I wasn't feeling too great most of the night. Only drank a couple of beers. Just been kind of "eh" most of the day, really.

And now I'm gettin' ready to head off to bed, with visions of Evil Dead stuck in my head.


Funny stuff

Here's a wonderful example of the incestuous nature of Hollywood that I mentioned last week:

Tonight's episode of Smallville was written by Steven DeKnight, who used to write for both Buffy and Angel. The "monster-of-the-week" was a sorority of vampires. Their leader's name: "Buffy Sanders."

Also, James Marsters, formerly known as "Spike" on both Buffy and Angel, joined the cast this season, which more than likely prompted one of the producers to say, "hey, let's do a show with vampires," thus giving Marsters the giggle-inducing line, "Clark, there's no such thing as vampires."

Well, I find it funny.

Something I can never have

All I wanted for my birthday was the Cardinals winning the World Series, but since they decided to play like crap in the NLCS, it just wasn't meant to be. (Congrats to the White Sox, BTW.)

And so, with the World Series hopes dashed, it's certainly a good thing that I still have my Amazon.com wish list, filled to the brim with books and movies and CDs that I wouldn't mind owning.

It's good to have goals in life, no?


All Hallow's Eve draws near

(Stolen from Chynna, with my thanks.)


Got an 84 on my algebra test from last week, instead of the low-70-something I was expecting. I must be smarter than I give myself credit for. And this new chapter seems pretty straightforward and easy so far.

Radical expressions, watch out!

Hopefully Wednesday's geography test goes as well.


Good times

Got home about 3:30 this morning, from Mick and Kris's party. It was fun, hanging out with old friends, meeting newish ones, and I mangaged to stay sober, unlike some people, who shall remain nameless. (By the way, Nameless, you forgot the book, though I guess I should simply be happy you were able to walk out of the house under your own power.)

I had almost forgotten how much fun drunk people can be when you're not one of them. This revelation probably won't carry over to Becky's party on the 29th, but hey, that'll probably be the only night I'll be able to "celebrate" my birthday without having something to do the following day.

Headin' out to breakfast in a few minutes, then football. The 3-2 Steelers have a HUGE game at 5-1 Cinncinnati. The Bengals haven't been this good since they were getting the crap beat out of them by the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Hopefully Big Ben's knee will hold up, and the offensive line opens some decent holes for Fast Willie and the Bus, otherwise it could be a looooong afternoon.

Oh, and note to self: my 4.5-year-old nephew may still be a wee bit too young for vampires and Dracula, however re-animated they may be.

(Get it? Dracula, re-animated? As in comes back to life?


Oh, what do you know, you bunch of putzes...)


Party! Party! Party!

Sticking this back at the top as a reminder, and to show those out-of-towners what they'll be missing:

Halloween party @ Becky's on Saturday, October 29th. Starts at "8ish." BYOB.

Any questions, get a hold of her. Or me, I guess, since I'm posting this here.


And Mick & Kris are having a party on Saturday, the 22nd, at 9. Also BYOB, as Mick and Kris are as poor as the rest of us.


A History of Violence

That was a great movie.

A lesson learned

This evening, I learned that the St. Louis Cardinals can lose just as well when I'm not watching as they can when I am watching.

Disgusted as I am by their pathetic postseason performance, I am actually grateful that I no longer have to give them, or baseball in general, any thought until Spring Training next year.

Which leads me to the following thought (you'll like this one, poni): what is the point of professional sports and why do we care so much?

Hundreds of grown men (and sometimes not-so-grown-men) getting paid hundreds of millions of dollars to play games? This is worth our time? Our support? Our money? What drives us to attach ourselves so vehemently to a specific team? What makes it so ingrained in our society? Why is it so damned important? Surely there are other, more worthwhile, less stress-inducing, less expensive, hobbies we can enjoy.

Aren't there?

Is it for the camaraderie? I suppose it's nice to see someone else wearing a hat or shirt adorned with the logo of your favorite team. It makes you feel like you're a member of a special club, that you belong to something greater than yourself...which is a reason people are so into religion, too, isn't it?

But I digress.

I've actually been thinking about this for a while, how truly silly sports are. The amount of money spent on sports, from buying a team, to player salaries, to building a ballpark, from the purchase of jerseys and DirecTV's Sunday Ticket, not to mention all the gambling...just imagine how many billions of dollars we throw at these diversions. Think of all the good that could be accomplished if all that money were used for something productive, if people could actually be altruistic for a change, instead of caring only about themselves.

And this isn't limited merely to the sports world. Is Brad Pitt really worth however many millions he gets to be in a crappy Hollywood movie (or even a more rare not-so-crappy one)? Tom Hanks? Halle Berry (certainly not after Catwoman)? Imagine getting paid twenty million dollars just for being you. That's a two with seven zeroes behind it: $20,000,000.

I'm not saying these people, these athletes and actors aren't talented, that they don't have a particular skill unique unto them, or that that skill isn't worth something. It's just that, you know, when cops and fire fighters and teachers and war veterans, people who contribute to our safety and our future, when they're barely able to get by, how can we, in good conscience, blithly throw away these millions of dollars on people who merely have nice smiles or can throw footballs sixty yards downfield with accuracy?

Escapism is important. I get that. But we're not going to be able to hide our heads in the sand forever. Sooner or later, we're going to have to take a long, hard look at ourselves and decide if watching large men hit little white balls with big pieces of wood is really worth what we're currently paying.


Television sucks!

In the past, it has been widely thought (by me) that television programs are crap, a poor man's retarded stepchild, lowlier than even the dumbest of films, filled with cliched characters, hackneyed dialogue, and idiotic sitcoms (the phrase "idiot box" comes from somewhere, people).

I haven't regularly watched many, if any, television shows in years. They simply weren't worth the time or effort. Either I had class or I was working, or the shows just plain sucked, and remembering to set the VCR week in and week out, feh.

But lately (this season), I've found myself getting drawn into more and more programs, most of which seem to have one of three unifying elements. I mentioned this to my friend Ryan a week or two ago, and it's not entirely clear in my head yet, and I'm not going to type out a list, but I want to get it written down before my mind wanders onto something more important.

Thanks to the magic that is the internets, I have been watching a greater number of weekly shows this season than ever before (at least, since I was a wee young'in when I had nothing else to do). Downloading last night's episode of My Name is Earl, for example, is great. I can start the download, leave for class, and when I get back, it'll be nearly finished. And once the episode is downloaded, I can watch it whenever I want. It's like TiVo, only, you know, free.

To say that I'm a bit of a creator geek would be an understatement. I don't necessarily care what a show (or a movie, or a comic book, or a novel) is about, only who wrote it/produced it/directed it/etc. I follow certain creative minds because I've liked their work in the past, and I know that what I'll be watching/reading will be of a certain level of quality, something that will appeal to me on an aesthetic level. Basically, I knows what I likes.

And, quite conincidentally, or perhaps not, the majority of shows that I like, that I make an effort to watch, either on the actual TV or on my computer, are created by a relatively small group of people with similar backgrounds. A lot of them seem to have started out in Hollywood working on one of three shows, either producing or writing: Star Trek: The Next Generation, The X-Files, and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (or Angel, which I sort of lump in there with Buffy).

These are all genre (sci-fi/fantasy/horror) shows, which truly illuminates how big of a geek I am, but there is a certain pedigree that is associated with these shows that has carried over into quite a few relatively recent hits. You can trace the family trees of each one of these shows (which I cursorily did via the ever-wonderful IMDb), of the staff writers and key producers, and you will begin to notice a pattern. (Or, least, I did, because these are the types of things I think about.)

Creators from those three shows have gone on to make some of the best shows on television, even if some of them didn't last very long. What follows is but a very brief listing of some of the shows I've enjoyed (and some I, to be honest, have never seen, but others seem to enjoy) and their connections to the Big Three (for lack of a better term):

Firefly, from, obviously, Joss Whedon, but a lesser-known name was also responsible for this gem. Tim Minear, who joined Whedon as a producer on Angel is listed as a co-creator of Firefly. Since that show's cancellation, he went on to create Wonderfalls and The Inside, both for Fox, who promptly gave both shows the Firefly treatment (crappy time slots and not promoting them worth a damn, which equals cancellation around episode ten, if not sooner). Minear was also a story editor during the fifth season of The X-Files, which I'll get to in a moment.

Other alumi of Whedon's shows include David Fury, who worked on both Buffy and Angel before moving on to Minear's The Inside, Lost and, most recently, 24; Marti Noxon, who created Point Pleasant (also scrapped after about six episodes) and now consults on Prison Break; Howard Gordon, executive producer of 24 and co-creator of The Inside (Gordon was also a writer for three seasons of The X-Files); Jane Espenson, who was a producer on both Tru Calling and The Inside; Steven DeKnight, who was a writer on Buffy before becoming a producer of Angel and then Smallville, and on and on and on. I could do this all day.

Suffice it to say that this industry is quite incestuous.

Looking at The X-Files, while creator Chris Carter hasn't done much lately, a few of his protege's have been busy. The aforementioned Minear and Gordon, as well as John Shiban, whose new show, Supernatural, recently got picked up for a full season by the WB.

Going back to the earliest show on my list, Star Trek: The Next Generation, the most well-known of the bunch would probably be Rob Bowman, who became a key player on The X-Files, and has since mostly done films (Elektra, anyone?), and Ron Moore, who was instrumental in getting the new Battlestar Galactica on the air.

Various other writers from these main three shows have gone on to write for The O.C. as well as newer shows like Threshold and the reboot of Nightstalker.

Why am I babbling about all this? Hell if I know. I just noticed, and found interesting, that a great majority of shows I watch can be traced back to one or two of my favorite programs from years past. Of course, there are other shows which don't fit any of this criteria, such as Grey's Anatomy (best hospital show since the early years of er), My Name is Earl (c'mon, it's Jason Lee!), Bones (still not sure about this one, but David Boreanaz makes me laugh), Numb3rs (Ridley and Tony Scott), and, of course, The Simpsons, and Family Guy and American Dad (both Seth Macfarlane).

Oh, and House, which is from Bryan Singer, and is also executive produced by Paul Attanasio, who created my number one favorite show ever, Homicide: Life on the Street.

Anyway, these are the shows that are able to hold my attention these days. Thank god for BitTorrent, because if I had to actually watch all this stuff when the networks wanted me to, well, it just wouldn't happen. I'd be lucky enough to catch one or two of the shows I really wanted to watch. The rest would just fall by the wayside.

Like I said, Hollywood is quite the incestuous town, and I wouldn't be surprised if, four or five years down the line, I was paying attention to a new crop of shows whose creators can trace themselves back to Grey's Anatomy or Supernatural. Not to mention poor Tim Minear, and whatever show he's working on at the time that will get cancelled by episode six.

So...what crappy TV shows are you watching right now?


A mind is a terrible thing to...something...

It appears that I am closer to getting that scrap of paper from UNO than I had initially thought. A few classes that I believed I needed are, I learned this morning, unnecessary. Rather than needing another nine general studies classes, I actually require only five. Instead of starting on my major next fall, I'll be getting underway this spring.

It feels good to have a game plan, so to speak, to be able to look at the list of classes I've taken and those I've yet to take and to be able to see a finish line in the not-so-distant future. Rather than being three years from graduating, perhaps I'm merely two or two and a half, both of which are, by far, closer than where I was at this time last year (which was, if memory serves, about a week and a half away from quitting the shitty video store job I had and driving north to spend my birthday in San Francisco).

I don't want to say it's a relief to know that I'm farther along than I originally anticipated, because I don't want to count my pre-hatched chickens. I still have to actually take the classes, and pass them, if you can believe that. But, yeah, I feel a lot better about where I'm at now, academically-speaking, than I did yesterday.

Perhaps this isn't so impossible after all.

Full Moon Shot

Bottom of the ninth, down 4-2, two out, men on first and second, the season on the line. Win or go home.

Albert Pujols launches a season-preserving a three-run rainbow that nearly leaves the ballpark in the Cardinals 5-4 win in Houston Monday night.

Thank god for full moons.

I'm going to have a heart attack before this postseason is over, I just know it.

Game 6, Wednesday, in St. Louis. Roy Oswalt against Mark Mulder.


Buncha lollygaggers

You play like this, you don't deserve to win.



Postseason Blues

You know how not to win in the playoffs? You play with a lousy bullpen and you don't hit for shit.

Example: see St. Louis Cardinals.

When your most feared hitter is Reggie Sanders (and absolutely no offense to Reggie; he was incredible those first four postseason games), not the forty-plus homer, more-than-one-hundred-RBI-in-each-of-his-first-five-seasons stud (Albert Pujols), then you have what is called "hitting woes."

When your best lefty out of the bullpen gets injured immediately before the playoffs start, which throws your entire bullpen out of whack, this is called "pitching woes."

This is a St. Louis team that beat Houston eleven out of sixteen times during the regular season. There are no excuses named Pettitte, Oswalt, or Clemens (though maybe one named Lidge). This team has owned Houston over the past few seasons. To play like this, to choke it away...well, it's no way to excise last October's demons, is it?

Game 4 at three on Fox. Jeff Suppan against Brandon Backe. If St. Louis can't win this game, then I guess, this season, it just isn't in the cards.


Quote of the Day (#1)

"He [the president] should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able and disinterested service to the nation as a whole.

"Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or anyone else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else."

-Teddy Roosevelt, 1918

(From the Monkey)


Minor update

The Cardinals won Game 1 behind the awesome pitching of Chris Carpenter and the incredible bat of Reggie Sanders, who became the first player to have multiple RBI in four consecutive postseason games. He's got twelve in four games. Pretty impressive.

And the Angels might have gotten hosed in their game against the White Sox, but they have three straight games in Anaheim in which to take care of Chicago, so they can't complain too much.

Oh, and I'm fasting. Don't ask me why. I've no idea. Maybe it's Jewish Guilt. I blame my mother.


NLCS Game 1

Oh, and I nearly forgot:

Let's Go Cards!

Sins? What sins?

So Yom Kippur starts tonight at sundown, the Jewish Day of Atonement, wherein Jews fast for twenty-four hours, thus wiping the sin-slate clean for the coming year (and believe me, do I have sins to repent for this past year). (There's other stuff involved as well, going to synagogue, praying, stuff like that, but essentially, for the sake of my rambling, you fast, you're golden.)

Now, this always poses a bit of a, well, not a problem, exactly, but a conundrum. See, I don't really believe in a god. Or the God. Or anything like that. Never have, really. Once I was old enough to think and reason for myself, I discovered a lot of holes in this whole God thing that made me question His existance, which led to my decision that He doesn't exist and never did.

Religion began (and when I say "religion," I'm referring mainly to the Judeo-Christian versions), I believe, as a way for the priests to control the population. They had no real laws, way back in the day, and the only way to get people to, say, not kill each other, was to invent this all-powerful being who looks down from the heavens, knows when you're being bad or good, and decides to send you to Heaven or Hell based on your actions.

But I digress. This isn't supposed to be a screed against religion. People can believe whatever they want to believe, it's none of my business, just don't come to my door asking if I've found Jesus, okay?

Getting back to my original point, my conundrum...I haven't gone to services at the synagogue for years. Once I had my Bar Mitzvah when I turned thirteen, that was it. I can probably count on two hands the number of times I've attended services since then. I just don't see the point of it, except as, perhaps, a social gathering. But as far as sitting with a couple hundred other people and worshipping some god I don't believe in, no thanks. Not for me.

And yet, every year when the High Holidays roll around, I find myself, if not going, then at least contemplating going to the synagogue. These are the two most important days on the Jewish calender, the holiest of holy days, but, again, don't believe in God, his holy days don't mean much to me. But on Yom Kippur, I fast.

I don't think a year has gone by where I haven't fasted on Yom Kippur, and, recently, I find myself wondering why. Am I trying to hedge my bets? I don't believe in God, but just in case He's there, I better repent my sins? Do I feel that if I don't at least participate in some Jewish traditions, then I'm somehow less of a Jew?

See, Judaism for me has always been two seperate things, a religion and a culture. The religion, as I've said, I can do without, but the culture, the history, the heritage of my people, that I've always embraced. I'm proud to be Jewish. I'm honored to be associated with a group of people who have endured so much hardship over thousands of years and still stands strong and defiant.

Not to mention, we have the best comedians.

I have tattoos, which are forbidden by Jewish law, yet one of them is of a Jewish Star, so am I less Jewish, a bad Jew, for wanting to wear my heritage on my sleeve (or back, as the case may be)? According to the Orthodoxy, I can't be buried in a Jewish cemetary now, but so many of my generation have tattoos. Some of whom devoutly practice the religion. Each and every Holocaust survivor is tattooed, branded with those disgusting numbers. Are they lesser Jews?

Anyway, back to my question: why do I feel the need to fast on Yom Kippur if I don't even believe in God and His Book of Judgement? I don't honestly know.

I'm sitting here contemplating, along with the fasting, actually going to services tomorrow, but why? Is it like a addict's habit that's really tough to break? For half my life I'd gone to synagogue and done the rituals and traditions, and they've become so ingrained in me that I can't shake them fully? I'd say that I'm having a crisis of faith, but I don't have a faith (which, I'm sure, some people would say is part of the problem).

Anyway, sun's almost down. Happy Day of Atonement.

And remember, He knows when you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.


Spontaneous Rant Of The Day (#1)

I keep hearing about how the Democrats need a single, strong message and to stick with it, like the Republicans have been doing for the past ten years. To just focus on one core message and hammer it home until people swallow it as the partisan dogma bullshit that it is. There's just one problem with this method, and it's, I believe, a key difference between the Left and the Right.

Democrats and liberals aren't sheep.

We are allowed to think for ourselves. We are allowed to have our own views on issues and don't need to fall into lockstep with partisan party leadership. We can have more than one concern at a time.

I'm tired of hearing about how we need to dumb ourselves down to convey our ideals and ideas to the masses. Americans are not stupid (most of them, anyway), and I firmly believe they have the capability to understand and comprehend more than one issue at a time, to grasp the importance of both, let's say, the dangers of global warming and our idiotic reliance on foreign oil. Or supposed terrorist threats and why everyone should receive national heathcare coverage. Or the fact that the war in Iraq and the so-called "war on terror" are two vastly different, unconnected things.

The ability to think and to reason used to be part of what separated Man from other animals. Now, it seems, it's also what separates progressive, forward-thinking liberals from conservatives who'd rather we were living in the 19th century instead of the 21st.

To steal a quote from my favorite monkey, "Everybody who wants to live in the 21st Century over here. Everybody who wants to live in the 1800's over there. Good. Thanks. Good luck with that."

To do things the way the Republicans have been doing things means widespread corruption and cronyism running rampant through our elective offices. It means having people in charge of very important departments who are extremely unqualified, thus putting us in more danger instead of keeping us safer. It means having the integrity of a wet paper bag.

It means caring more about money and power than about people.

I don't know about you, but those aren't exactly (to steal the favorite conservative buzzwords) the morals and ethics I grew up with.