Oh, what a wonderful day

If you can't tell, the title of this post is meant to be slightly sarcastic.

I walk outside this morning and head to my car, which I unlock and climb inside. I turn the key and what happens? Not what's supposed to happen. Oh no. There's a "click." Followed by ... nothing. The radio turns on. I can slide the windows up and down. But will the engine start? Nope!

I didn't leave the headlights on after I got home last night. Neither the passenger nor driver's side doors were ajar, so the interior lights weren't on. I called Triple A and they sent a guy out to check on the battery, which is under warranty for another year, thankfully. Unfortunately, the alternator does not fit under the battery warranty.

About 20 minutes ago the car was towed to the service shop. I hope to hear from them within a couple hours, when they'll tell me a new alternator will cost about $200 or however much it is.

All I can say is, I'm glad this didn't happen while I was in L.A. or during the drive home. Or when I was up in Minneapolis. But c'mon, this is a shitty run of luck I've got goin' on here. Had to replace the master cylinder a couple weeks ago and now this. But hey, at least I've got my health. ::cough, cough::

This is not exactly the ending to the first week of classes I was anticipating. I was supposed to be working on campus today, for a few hours. Oh well. Before this morning, the week went pretty well. I think I'm going to enjoy these classes: News Editing, History of Mass Communication, Critical Writing and a Fiction Studio.

There's a lot of reading and writing involved in these classes, which is fine, because it seems like it's going to be stuff that I'm actually interested in. News, politics, reviews. This critical writing class, all the assignments are opinion pieces. TV reviews, movie reviews, restaurants, concerts, books, all the crap I write about on this idiot blog. As Alissa said last night, all I gotta do is give the blog URL to my teacher and tell her, "Here, grade this."

The fiction studio should be pretty fun, too. The three graded assignments are each five to 15 page stories. That's the only rule, that the stories be between five and 15 pages. That's it. I can write absolutely anything I want. I have an idea for the first story. I need to do a bit of research first, before I start writing it, but I've had the idea kicking around in my head for a few years now. Maybe it's time to finally start putting it on paper.

What else is goin' on ... my grandmother felt some chest pains last Saturday morning, perhaps coincidentally the same day she was finally going to move into her new apartment. Dad took her to the emergency care place and from there she was admitted to, I believe, Methodist Hospital, where she stayed through Tuesday morning.

They didn't find anything wrong with her. At least, nothing new. She's got a lousy heart valve, which we knew about, about which nothing can be done. She's 89. Open-heart surgery is not really a realistic option. Mom thinks it was low blood sugar.

My grandmother also seems to be losing her mind. It's only a matter of time before she really can't live by herself. Months, really, if not weeks. She couldn't remember who she was Tuesday morning, for a little while. Dad's on the phone right now telling my sister about how, during dinner last night, my grandmother thought my father was her husband. Her memories are starting to get all jumbled. She can't seem to understand or remember recent events. She has problems with her medication, unsure how to follow the directions. It's tough. And it's only gonna get more difficult.

It's good that she's here in Omaha, I think. Better here where people are more readily available to take care of her than in Pittsburgh, where she only had my cousin and his wife, who have a new baby to take care of.

Anyway. That's about all I know. I'm thinking of hosting another movie night in a couple weeks. Lemme know if you're interested. I'll email with details when I have them.



I was starting to get a little anxious. Classes start next week and my financial aid money, which I need to, you know, live on, hadn't shown up. How was I going to buy books? A parking pass? Pay my car insurance? Pay back the $300 my father loaned me so I could go to Minneapolis and get away from the house for a weekend? Buy the three months worth of comic books that Krypton has been holding for me since I went to Los Angeles in the middle of May?

Ah, but salvation was near. The check finally showed up today. I breathed a huge sigh of relief as I drove first to the bank, then to campus. And after I bought my parking pass and books, I stopped off in the chem office to fill out some paperwork and figure out my hours for the upcoming semester. I should have about 15 hours a week, split between the office and the computer lab, where I can sit and do homework in peace. And get paid $9/hour.

My father and I went to a sneak peek of The Kingdom tonight. It's about a team of FBI agents who sort of blackmail their way to Saudi Arabia so they can investigate a terrorist attack on the U.S. personnel who are stationed there, which, to me, is a wholly unbelievable premise. I don't believe for a second that a) the Saudi royal family would allow anything resembling terrorist activity to occur within their borders. They're too smart to let shit like that happen under their noses. And b) should an attack like the one depicted in this film actually happen, I find it difficult to believe that the Saudis would allow American FBI agents on the ground, let alone allow them to actively investigate a terrorist attack, regardless of whether the victims were American.

All that being said, it was an extremely enjoyable, fast-paced, well-made film. It kind of reminded me of Syriana, though the plot was less convoluted. They share similar themes, obviously, with both of them dealing with the post-9/11 world in the Middle East.

Some of the main characters weren't especially well-written, but, unfortunately, that's to be expected these days. Really, Jamie Foxx and his Saudi counterpart were the only two with anything resembling a back story. But I guess the politics and differences between American and Saudi culture were more of the point of the film.

Anyway, it was fun and entertaining, even if I didn't believe the plot was realistic. It opens in a month and wouldn't be a complete waste of your time or money. Of course, that's easy for me to say, since I saw it for free.


I drove home for this?

After driving through driving rain throughout all of Minnesota and parts of Iowa, I returned home at around 4 o'clock this afternoon. Within a few hours, a wicked storm was working its way across Nebraska, bringing awesome lightning and crashing thunder, 70 MPH winds and maybe a tornado or two.

I took some pictures from the front porch during the monsoon, and I've got a video on YouTube that I'll link to just as soon as it's "processed."

The storm didn't last very long, and didn't cause any damage around here. We just got wet, accompanied by a fantastic light show.

Minnesota was fun. It rained most of the weekend, so we didn't really do a whole lot outside of the house. Watched a bunch of movies, played Marvel Scene It (guess who won), and went to a really wonderful ballgame at the Metrodome on Sunday. (Click here for a few pictures.)

Twins starter Johan Santana pitched an amazing game, a gem, if you will. After the sixth inning, I wondered aloud about how many strikeouts he had, because it seemed to me that he'd struck out an awful lot of Texas Rangers to that point. Turns out he had 14 through seven innings. He prompted came out in the seventh and struck out the side, giving him 17 through eight, three shy of the major league record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game.

The crowd was going crazy during that eighth inning. Strikeout number 15 was a career best for Santana and number 16 set a new team record. Number 17 was just icing on the cake. The dome was rockin', that's for sure. We were all hoping he'd come back out in the ninth to try to tie the league record, but after a wave of his cap as he walked back to the dugout after his sublime performance in the eighth, I had a feeling he wasn't coming back out, and he didn't. Joe Nathan, the Twins closer, walked toward the mound to a chorus of boos. Not aimed at him, of course. Everyone was simply disappointed that Santana didn't come back out for three more strikeouts.

Did I mention that the Twins were only winning 1-0 thanks to a Mike Redmond home run in the early innings, and that Rangers pitcher Kevin Millwood, while not racking up the gaudy strikeout numbers that Santana was, was matching Johan in everyone other conceivable way, pitch-for-pitch. It was a pitching-lovers dream. Great defense, overpowering fastballs and deer-in-headlights freezing change-ups.

Nathan pitched himself into and out of a jam to finish off the game and preserve that 1-0 score. It was probably the best, most exciting, dramatic ballgame I've ever witnessed in person. I was certainly glad the rain fell that day, otherwise we may not have gone to the game at all.

Ryan & Jami seem to be doing really well. They're heading off to Hawaii Tuesday morning for a short vacation before Jami has to start going into work to get ready for the rapidly approaching school year. It was good to see them, to hang out and talk for an extended period of time. Usually when they come into town we only get to see each other for a few hours, if that. I'm glad I took the opportunity to drive up there for a couple days.

And tonight I finally scanned and uploaded the sketches that were done for me in San Diego. Be sure to check out Kody Chamberlain's awesome zombie samurai. The man is incredibly talented, ladies and gentlemen.

A'ight, I'm out. Be good.


In Minneapolis

Visiting Ryan & Jami. Back in Omaha on Monday. Everyone have a good weekend.

And Happy Birthday, Alissa!


A miscellany (8/14/07)

Greetings, all. I haven't posted for a little while, so I was beginning to feel like I should, though not much has been happening lately.

My parents got home from a two-week "vacation" to Pittsburgh and Maryland/D.C. last Thursday. They were in Pittsburgh to help my grandmother (father's mother) get everything more-or-less ready for her move to Omaha, which is why I put "vacation" in quotation marks. Believe me, that wasn't fun for anyone.

After a few days in Pittsburgh, they drove on to Maryland for an old friend of my mother's wedding, after which they turned right around, got my grandmother's belongings packed up and loaded onto a moving truck, and made their way back home. My grandmother arrived home by plane a few hours before my parents.

The moving truck arrived Monday and everyone is involved in the ongoing process of getting my grandmother moved in to her new apartment near One Pacific Place. I have yet to see the inside of the building, but it sounds like it'll be a nice place for her, if she can ever stop fidgeting and relax, which I honestly don't see happening anytime soon.

My grandmother is 89 years old. Her mind, let alone her body, isn't what it used to be. She's forgetful. And unstable on her feet. Thank god she's not going to be driving around the city. I can't help but wonder how long she can continue to live by herself.

At least she won't be waking up in the middle of the night and getting ready for work anymore.

I hope.

I haven't been doing a whole lot since I've been back in Omaha. I stopped by Krypton Comics' new location, in Westwood Plaza, near the ol' cheap movie theatre. It's pretty nice. Spacious. Feels kind of weird being in that area, buying comics again, after having worked at Cosmic Comics, which was up on the other side of the plaza.

Took my car into the shop yesterday morning. Everything was great all throughout the summer in L.A., but on my way home, the brakes started acting a little squirrelly. I apparently needed a part called a "master cylinder," whatever that is (I'm not much of a car person). Long story short, a day and nearly $500 later, I have my wheels back. I hate not having my car. Not that I even have anywhere to go, but just the idea that I can't go somewhere bothers me. I feel trapped, disconnected, like I'm missing a part of me.

Sadly, I feel the same way when I can't get online at least once a day, that disconnected feeling. Although, I seemed to handle it pretty well in San Diego, when I couldn't check my email or the news for five days in a row. But I honestly didn't know about anything that was going on in the world during those five days. I barely saw sunlight, let alone a newscast. WWIII could have erupted and none of us would have known, which is a bit of an eerie feeling. Someone should write a movie about the world ending, like a zombie apocalypse or something, but all the geeks at a comic convention survive because we hardly ever left the convention hall.

So the first of my final two semesters begins in less than two weeks. I'm going to start working, I think, in the chem office again soon, to help get things organized for the beginning of the semester. I only have classes three days a week, off Mondays and Fridays, so that'll be nice. Four-day weekend every week. I don't think my classes will be too terribly taxing. News editing, the history of mass communication, a fiction studio and critical writing for magazines, like editorials and opinion pieces. Good thing I have an opinion about just about everything, isn't it?

With the finish line in sight, I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to do once I finally graduate. Will there be a job for me at BOOM!? Or at some other comic book company? Would my cousin be able to help me get a job in a production office like hers? Do I want to write for a newspaper? I've always been fascinated with the crime beat. Crime in general, really. Both real and fiction. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a cop when I grew up, but not a uniform, not a beat cop. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to work homicide, which, I think, is kinda weird for a kid in elementary school. I loved the mysteries, putting the clues together, putting the pieces of some poor, dead schmuck's life back together and figuring out who did it to him, and why.

I dunno. Whatever's gonna happen will happen. Can't really think about it too much right now. No point. Gotta get through these two semesters first.

I'm gonna be heading up to Minneapolis this weekend, to visit Ryan and Jami and finally see their new year-and-a-half-old house. Should be fun. I haven't been up north for a couple years, so I'm looking forward to it. Plus, they have this really big HDTV in their basement.

My nephew, my sister's son, he started the first grade yesterday. Damn if that didn't make me feel old. My 10 year high school reunion was in July, while I was out in L.A. I can't imagine I would've gone, had I been in town, but I think I would've been tempted to see what everyone had made of themselves. 10 years. Man. Sometimes high school seems like yesterday. Then I get a glance at my hairline in the mirror and it feels like it was ages ago.

Speaking of which, I've got a dentist appointment in the morning, followed by a haircut. I think I'm gonna get my hair shaved down pretty close. Not totally gone, but nearly.

That might be just about all she wrote for tonight. Odd how, even when I don't have anything to say, I can just go on and on and on. I have perfected the art of saying a lot without really having to say anything at all.


God of Taking Forever to Finish A Game

So I finally beat God of War last night, the first one, not the second. I hadn't played it since the early morning of December 31, 2006, around 1:30 in the morning, give or take. I think I started playing it in the summer of '06, after that spring semester was over, and then I took a break when the fall semester began, played some more over winter break, and here I am, about a year after I began the game.

And the kicker? I really only had another hour or so left to go, maybe two.

I just fear that if I keep playing the games during the semester, it'll distract me from school work, but since I seem to have forgotten how to relax, maybe I need the games, or something else, to help me release the tension I seem so easily able to accumulate.

Suffice it to say, I now need a new game and I don't think God of War II is cheap enough yet. Thoughts? Suggestions? Keep in mind that I'm poor.


August 6, 1945

Sixty-two years ago, the United States dropped an atomic bomb, "Little Boy," on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing 140,000 innocent civilians. Three days later, on August 9, "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki, killing another 70,000 people. This ended World War II.

HBO aired a haunting, horrific documentary today, called White Light/Black Rain, about the repercussions of America's actions, interviews with survivors of the devastation, along with film footage and photographs. Pictures and film of children with their skin burned off, limbs missing, eyeballs melted out of their skulls.

It's absolutely nauseating to think of the pain caused, the lives lost and destroyed. 210,000 men, women and children became so much ash so quickly. It's disgusting. Was it necessary? Could the war have been ended differently? Who knows?

There's a man whose skin melted to his bones. You can see his ribs through his skin. You can literally see his heart beating. His back is nothing but scar tissue.

One woman's face was a charred, black husk after the bomb fell. Her father sliced around her head and peeled her face off.

My God, they invited survivors onto This Is Your Life 10 years later, in 1955. One of the pilots of the Enola Gay came face to face with some of the people whose families he helped eradicate. What must that have been like? How surreal ... what do you say to someone after dropping an atomic bomb on their city? And on what's essentially a reality show, in front of a live studio audience, no less.

Makes me wonder why we haven't seen any 9/11 reality shows yet.

What, too jaded? Too cynical?

August 6 and 9, 1945. 210,000 people, 210,000 lives, futures, vaporized in less than an instant. And the threat of a nuclear attack hangs over all our heads like a Sword of Damocles, a razor-sharp pendulum, inching ever downward with every tick of the clock.


Home now

Very tired. Today's drive was pretty bad. I don't remember the last time I had a decent night's sleep. Before San Diego, I'm sure. My eyes didn't want to stay open or stay focused today, which, you know, isn't good when you're flying down the interstate at 80 MPH. (Sorry, no "America @ 80 MPH" photos this time around. Wasn't in the mood, though I saw some really great scenery in the mountains around Utah and Colorado.)

I feel like I have so much to catch up on, and very little time in which to do it, which totally isn't the case, but I've been going at a pretty good clip for nearly three months and I don't know if I remember how to slow it down. I need to take a minute, or a day, and just sit and do nothing. I need to retrain my body how to relax.

I have absolutely no plans for this weekend except to catch up on the magazines that accumulated while I was in L.A.

You want me, you know how to find me.


San Diego pictures

Wi-Fi is up and running, so I was able to upload. Check out the pictures.