To Fuss is Human, To Rant, Divine!!

Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Break Down

This one might be a bit long (even compared to my other ones) so get a drink, make some popcorn and get comfy.

It has been a little rough over Thanksgiving break. Everything seems to be breaking down all around me, and it's very distracting. One doesn't expect the betrayal of one's body or one's expensive mechanical equipment. Where do I start?

I suppose I'll begin with myself.

Even in the summer I began noticing something troubling. I have a receding hairline. Nothing incredibly drastic, but I can tell that my hairline towards the front has moved back noticably. My mother's father is rather bald, so I knew I might have problems, but I didn't expect it so early. I joked about it over the summer but it's still a nagging thought that has surfaced at random moments (as in "gee, this is good cookie. wow, I'm balding"). Stress this term probably hasn't helped at all, but I'm hoping that it doesn't move back any further, or else I might feel the need to recoup my masculinity in some excessive way. So that's the story of my hair, or lack thereof.

Let's move down, shall we?

My eyes have been bothering me. It's incredible, because my eyesight is bad enough. But staring at a computer screen all the time probably hasn't helped, especially after I got my laptop (more on that later), and I've had more and more trouble reading lately. Not very fun at all, considering my glasses are already half an inch thick. This probably also contributed to the slight dyslexia I've had lately.

Moving down.

I've also got a bad cold right now, which is just compounding my troubles by preventing me from getting a good night's sleep.

Moving Down

My dentist warned me my last visit about brushing along my gums, and I've noticed it as well. I've been taking care of my teeth, but it hasn't helped so much. I actually think my gums have gotten better over the summer and the term, but I'm still getting more cankersores than usual, which is a painful reminder that there some stage of gingivitis in my mouth.

Moving Down.

I've had this weird bump on the back of my left hand for a while now, and it's been hurting more lately. It's probably something akin to carpal tunnel, and my wrists have been bothering me since the summer. No searing pain, but something that I should probably see a doctor about before long. Thankfully, I don't have any problems anywhere else on my body, or else I might really be going nuts right now. I've gained a little weight this term, but this is college, so I'm actually stressing about that less.

So my body is falling apart. Even worse, the expensive equipment that one expects for transportation and information and transportation of information has been breaking down on me. As I was coming from La Guardia airport after dropping Jen off, some old man in a nice Acura decided that he wouldn't pay attention to the road in front of him in his haste to get over into the left lanes. I had to come to a stop to not rearend this car in front of me that was stopped because he was getting cut off by some wacko, and Mr. Acura swerved into the guardrail to keep from rearending me. He then bounced off the guard rail and smashed my rear right side. He pretty much destroyed the right rear door as I found out later. The worst part of the accident was that after he hit me (I had been moving forward to try to avoid him, but since I was stopped it was rather difficult) I spun at least once on the highway. Once, maybe twice, but I can't remember.

All I remember is braking hard, and then seeing a black car behind me. I was able to connect the screech of its brakes before it swerved out of my rearview mirror. Then there was a crunching noise as the car hit the guardrail and then another instant as I moved forward, knowing that I was probably going to be hit by the car, but not sure where it would hit and when. And then a jarring sound of metal on metal. Acura Two Door, meet Honda Accord. Honda Accord, bow and gracefully turn. And turn. Graceful. turn. I was fortunate that I didn't spin onto the oncoming traffic, but it's still unsettling, to say the least, to be in a car that's spinning on the highway.

I've been relying on my ability to exert fine control over this car for five years, and to sudden lose that control is disturbing. I'm still not sure how I feel about it now. For a couple of seconds I was spinning forward on the highway, with no way to control my car, hoping that some car wouldn't broadside me and really mess me up. I came to a stop perpendicular to the hghway. Of course, the car that stopped because it was getting cut off stopped to see in his rearview mirror that there had been an accident, and promptly took off. I hate that.

This is why I'm up at school right now with a different car for a week. I'm going to need to contact the parking and operations people so they don't tow me (they've given me a lot of trouble over the past couple of years), but that's a fairly minor concern. To compound my troubles I found out yesterday when I tried to plug in my computer that my power pack isn't working.

It's actually not the power pack, but probably the machine, as the port where you plug in the AC power pack is for some reason too loose. I noticed that there were problems even before Thanksgiving, but it just stopped working altogether yesterday. I'm sure that's the problem, but there's nothing I can do about it. Since I can't plug my computer in the batteries have completely run down, so my laptop is essentially a twelve hundred dollar doorstop right now. I'm using Jen's computer until her patience runs out and I have to permanently relocate to the library.

Some of this has been going on for a while, but with everything breaking down all at once I'm a little overwhelmed. Very overwhelmed. I still need to get some work done on my thesis, which is still at thirty pages and counting, as well as find the notes for the Neurobio classes I missed last week, as well as finish my electronic music composition. Music is next to done, but I'm not sure how to approach Neurobio, as I don't know how I did on the third test yet and it has become increasingly evident that most people cheat their way through the take home exams. When the median score is near 90 on a test, it's a sign that people are using their notes, not that they've all studied their asses off. As for the thesis I really like the stuff I'm working with, but I just can't seem to get it in an organized, essay form. Needless to say I'm not too keen on finishing all my work right now. I know I need to, but I just can't seem to focus on anything. This blog is as much organizational for myself as anything else. And theraputic.

I've had troubles feeling confident in cars ever since I lost two friends in high school due to an accident, and this crash has done nothing to help me out. I've driven up to Dartmouth and back over twenty times, or over five thousand miles, but I still feel shaky sometimes. Sometimes, between loud CDs and wondering what the hell the car in front of my is doing, I think about how fragile cars are and how nothing, not airbags or seatbelts, might help you at those high speeds. I actually consider myself an excellent driver with pretty good reflexes, but that just makes it worse, since my spinning out into traffic pretty much came down to a matter of how far along the center line of my car I got hit. You don't know what helpless is until you've been in a car accident that wasn't even your fault and your vehicle is doing something it shouldn't be doing, namely, spinning on a slick roadway. Since it was on the rear door I spun less than I would have if he had just swiped my bumper, in which case I might not be able to type at all right now. The thought is unsettling and has been bothering me since the accident. You can't sue someone for emotional distraction, but I'd certainly like to.

The problems with the laptop makes me angry because I'm so dependant on all this equipment. The car that I've put thousands of miles on in the last four years is basically a cardboard box in an accident. My laptop that's less than three months old has one minor hardware problem that might make me send it in, as I can't fix it myself. I can barely get work done on my thesis as a result. I can barely talk to people as a result. I can't look up stupid news and sports reports now, dammit. I've got a week up here and then a month at home before Winter term starts, but I feel like i need so much more time right now.

Oh yeah. Thanksgiving. Dinner was pretty good. Turkey was excellent and other dishes (sweet potato souffle, cornbread, potato salad, the usual suspects) were great. My mother is a very good cook. My dad stands around and pretends he's a good cook. Home is ok, and Deckard the Beagle of Beagles is doing ok, if a little hyper and untrained. He knows how to shake hands now, so he can come up to you with a peace offering after chewing up another pair of socks.

I still don't know what I'm doing next year, unlike certain people that already have trader or engineer jobs locked up. But after I told someone my major (English and Bio) again, and got the question "So what are you going to do with that" again, I realized something. Instead of saying " I don't know", I should say "whatever I want", because that's more along the lines of the truth. It really is what I want, and not what my parents want, and not what some company wants. I can decide whether I want to be a teacher, or an academic, or a lawyer, or anything else. There might be something less exciting like copywriting or publishing in front of me, but I'm completely fine with that. I know for a fact that I want to try to write at least in my spare time (I'm not committing my full time because I'm realistic and I know I'm not Tom Wolfe). I've applied to some consulting firms and a couple of research positions that i think I could do well at. Really, jobs don't concern me that much for some reason, because no matter what, I'll probably be making just enough to support myself next year no matter what I do and no matter where I end up. So I'm just going to find something that I can be sane doing for a couple of years, and then I'll hit up the law school or grad school after that.

Either that, or I might end up living in a van down by the river. But at least it'll be a nice van, along a nice scenic stretch of river. Ok, that's a bit much.

Still, having next year uncertain is yet another thing I do have to deal with in the immediate future. Along with insurance and Dell and the thesis and classes.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Depths of Shallowness

Oliver Stone, I pity you

Then I think of all the whores you get and then I pity you less. But I still pity you. Because no matter what you did for this movie "Alexander", you were going to get it. I'm not concerned with the quality of the movie; personally I think it's going to suck. Although if "Troy" getting conquered in ten days can make a cool hundred million, Colin Farrell by all rights should have a merry Christmas.

What I do pity you for is that you're getting flak from Christian conservatives bashing the overt "homosexuality" in the movie, not that the ancient greeks knew the meaning of the word. To make matters worse you've got some outraged gay at the Village Voice up in arms because apparently you underrepresented Alexander's "homosexuality". Not that the greeks knew what that was. And to top things off you have some greek yahoos claiming that portraying Alexander the Great as bisexual (not that the greeks knew the meaning of the word) is like portraying JFK as . . . point guard for the LA Lakers and demeans the greeks. That's verbatim by the way (unless they said power forward, which case, I apologize). They obviously didn't see your JFK movie. Or watch basketball in the 60's. I think someone's been having a little too much baklava.
Mmmmm . .. baklava.

The only group that hasn't come to you yet is the one that will attack you for not portraying Alexander the Great's penchant for bestiality (Bucephalus was a good horse, after all). Oh wait, that was CATHERINE the Great. My bad.

Now, Mr. Stone, you don't make it easy on yourself by referring to you portrayal as bisexuality. You could have avoided all this by saying "hey, the greeks didn't discern back then between love of the same sex and love of the opposite sex. sure, you were supposed to procreate, but monogamy was for wimps. Peace, man, free love."

For the greeks, it was acceptable for an older and wiser man to teach a younger man the ways. It was also ok for great men to have many lovers of both sexes. Theoretically, friendships with younger boys were better than sex with women because you were teaching the boys values that would make them great men. All the women could do was give you an illegitimate heir that would one day fight with his brothers for control of your empire/country/mountain villa. Procreation of wisdom over physical procreation and all that. As long as you could control them all (a problem, as it turns out), you were a-ok. The correct term is pederasty by the way. And hedonism. Don't forget that one. There was a lot of that going around.

Honesty, what's the big fuss over this? I know that's a stupid question. I love how we think nowadays that gay is gay and always has been gay. It's not like straight has always been straight. One of the biggest mistakes that the gay community makes is thinking that it is fighting against thousands of years of oppression. That's bullshit. A couple hundred years, oh yeah. Definitely. But the entirety of Western civilization. Women haven't been oppressed under one totalitarian system of values. Several different systems, yes, but I digress

I mean, a lot of Americans seem to think marriage has been the same since Adam and Eve. (Not Adam and STEVE, they say, hurr hurr. dumbasses.) Henry VIII had to change his country's religion to get a divorce. Now you just run off and a piece of paper notarized. Then again, Henry also beheaded a couple of his wives. Calling Alexander gay is like giving your estranged wife the silverware and telling her "just be happy I'm not lopping off your head".

You'll pardon the uneven analogy, but this would be like if in five hundred years someone made a movie about Lincoln and made him a Democrat.

Lincoln was NOT GAY. His wife was just butt-ugly.


Art Spiegelman wuz here.

As in here at Dartmouth. Spiegelman is a comic book or graphic novel artist, depending on the term you prefer. His talk is actually been the first extracurricular lecture I've been to in while. I went a couple of them freshman and sophomore years. Anyway, he topped them all.

In 1992 Spiegelman put out what has been hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever, "Maus". As Jen pointed out, there probably have been better graphic novels in history. America and Europe, after all, are novices at telling stories in a series of images when you compare them to Japan.

But I also think that it's a pity to just call this work a graphic novel. It certainly stands out and reads better than many novels I've read. Considering how much I remember reading it again today, after not seeing it since eighth grade, it has quite an impact. More than history class. More than Schindler's List. More than the Holocaust Museum in Washington. All of which I've experienced, and I can remember more details, names, events, tragedies, triumphs, from Maus than I can from all three of these experiences combined.

Oh, and it was really cool because he signed my copy of the book afterwards (although I'm giving it to Jordan who will probably appreciate it more than me). Unfortunately since he was promoting the new book he wasn't signing copies of Maus, which I was kind of looking forward to. Pity.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Across the Universe

A 3-D Environment

Back in the 19th century, when industrialization swept the world and ushered in new ways of communicating and travelling, it must have seemed like an infinite number of doors were opened.

People were eased into a new reality defined by railroad tracks and telephone lines. It took a while for the government to deregulate those monopolies and even longer for people to see the effects of deregulation.

A few years later and it was cars and radio. With automobiles, the assembly line sped everything up, innovations fueled by more cars sold each year, and pollution regulations lagged behind, and still do. The radio received a huge boost when Marconi's little black box was used to sleeplessly deliver the casualty list of the Titanic. At the opposite end of the spectrum H.G. Wells spurred a panic when he broadcast over the radio that the martians had landed in 1938.

Then it was airplanes and television. On the TV, the song "We're Having a Baby, My Baby and Me" became the first instance of censorship over the airwaves, a telling sign that over the past seventy years, our country hasn't become any more comfortable with the human body. In 1954 people watched the World Series in color for the first time on national television, immortalizing a moment forever in which people realized that they could stop using their imaginations and were given the ability to watch the game without paying for a ticket. Did you know that people once gathered in lots with mechanical scoreboards and standup figures of players on the basepaths? Planes are used for war, pilots firing pistols and then machine guns, and then cluster bombs, then peaceful worldwide travel, then war again, only a different kind, with Pan Am 103 and 9/11.

And now we have the internet, telling us immediately when Yassir Arafat is dead. And then alive. And then dead again. It is showing us the live score in our sports games, letting us talk and send music and documents and personal information to anyone and everyone. It allows me to post this message to my small audience. We have bloggers calling journalists out on their sources and internet pundits predicting elections and spreading word of fraud and fradulent words. It's a whole new reality, a whole new depth of immersion, more unimaginably immersed, and unimaginably complex, that follows the pattern that has emerged, everything happening much faster, and with less control than the last innovation that changed our world.

The internet is something like 65% pornography. Plenty of scams abound, modern-day witch doctors selling sugar water as anti-aging tonic. Only now it's Nigerian Princesses and email scams and free iPods. And we've accepted it all as reality. We accept spam as a nuisance, XXX pop-ups as embarrasing, and Microsoft as a necessary evil. Steps have been taken on a legislative level, but we haven't yet begun to realize the power of the internet. Blogs are just the start. Tomorrow you might store data on small discs based on corn byproduct. Your computer might download an automatic update and tell itself to mechanically reconfigure itself in a way that increases your processor speed. You might eventually be able to not just type, but neurally connect to your computer. We could go from communities to individuals to brains. In many ways we already have. Think it's science fiction? In Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game", Peter and Valentine Wiggin are capable of swaying international opinion on their versions of blogs.

The Matrix sequels were bad, but one lasting image that was always suggested was that the members of Zion, without color, without culture and without the desire to innovate beyond a need to survive, were no better than the machines that lived in the Overworld. This is why the last movie was pointless; as an audience, we couldn't "connect" with anyone. Basic human emotions notwithstanding, the Zionists were just colorless, cultureless individuals. The Matrix really should have gone in another direction, in which I would have ended it with everyone plugging themselves back in. Because if you're plugged in, and you write a book or a piece of music that everyone else born afterwards was inspired to listen to, doesn't that book or piece of music become it's own entity outside the machine? Because there is never the suggestion that the Machines regulated everyday life to the extent that art was a distraction, that in other realities there was no art. If we were plugged into the Matrix and I wrote the great American novel, and then my existence changed, wouldn't my great American novel remain behind for those that would connect to the same hub (called USA, Earth) that I was attached to?

None of this is bad. Technology has always been neutral, serving the purposes of the greedy and the altruistic alike. Fire can light the way and it can burn things down. Still can do both. What is important is that in our total immersion in yet another reality that makes the world smaller and faster paced, that we do not lose the perspective that art, music and literature gives us.

Science Fiction gives us a look into a possible future. More importantly we see the past in art and music and literature. There is something in them, that while not exactly a universal human constant, is as close as we can ever get. I can look at a Hiroshige print and appreciate it's meticulous artistry. I can read Chaucer and Milton and laugh at their fart jokes. I can listen to Beethoven's 7th and feel something that can't be put into words. And I can read Art Spieglman's "Maus" and get a sense of perspective, a perspective that is lost when I repeatedly refresh my computer to see if Damon got advanced to second, lost when I read an article published four minutes ago about dissatisfaction with Tony Blair in the UK.

So what I'm scared of is the loss of all this. While the internet and art are obviously not mutually exlusive, as it is in fact a wonderful forum for discussion and dissemination, I'm worried about national education being geared towards jobs, teaching only what we need to perform our daily task instead of teaching kids how to think. I'm worried about kids that go home and sign onto AOL, dismiss their history and English texts as dusty remnants of a past civilization, and play "Half Life 2" while their parents watch "American Idol" downstairs.

There's nothing wrong with "Half-Life 2". But it would be nice if the kids were encouraged to look up the texts that provided the creative spark for the design of HL2's dystopic world. It would be nice if the kids playing "Halo 2" read the book "Armor". It would be nice if the kids listening to Trent Reznor went and read Nietzsche afterwards. It would be nice if the kids listening to the new Outkast CD knew something about jazz and if they didn't, were encouraged by the artists to listen to the roots (not The Roots). It would be nice if in the education of the children of this nation, the Holocaust was not just 6 million nameless individuals, but one man's experience told to his son.

There's nothing fundamentally wrong with entertaining music or entertainment. As long as you don't devote your life to following celebrities on the internet, on TV, and in the most extreme cases, just following them around.

In discussion boards, the discussion board is not limited to the most timid or the most ignorant. Informed and educated opinions can elevate the level of discourse on a message board. A plethora of opinions can be wonderful. But part of me can't shake the fear that there will be more and more chat rooms devoted to A/S/L, to Britney Spears, to trivial pursuits. And fewer and fewer people that can interject a new opinion into the mess, perhaps because our education system is starting to fail, perhaps because the exclusivity of certain types of boards eschew those with different tastes and opinions.

As the internet dehumanizes even graphic images into exactly that, I think that the perspective needs to be kept. Not just of recent American history and the current war. There's also more general topics to keep in mind. The direction that the music industry is taking and how it will affect the individual artist. Artist as in an individual who wants his or her voice or intrument heard. Someone who wants to perform and reach out to others. The increasingly conservative and repetitive and self-congratulatory nature of film. The use of the internet to spread novels, graphic or textual. The proliferation of the specific issues that divide the populace and encourage the thought that there is one good and one evil, that democracy is the form of government that everyone wants.

I don't think it's hopeless. In fact I think I'm blessed to have the internet, to have the ability to do and say nearly anything at my fingertips, and to experience a cultural change that is currently still a red-hot blob of metal taken from the forge, ready to take a unique shape. I'd just like everyone else that is as privileged to appreciate a bigger picture as well. Because the loss of perspective carries with it an ominous warning, one in which realities meld together in a horrible schizophrenic nightmare. Simon Cowell criticizing George Bush over a tawdry music video concerning WMD's produced by George Lucas while Akira Kurosawa, Thomas Hardy and Franz Schubert scamper about on the floor like three blind mice with their tails cut off.

Diatribe Over

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Urge

To Rant

Well, actually, not really. I actually need to do work tonight. and tomorrow. and the day after. Into the wee hours of the mornin' each day, because work is just piling up right now like poo-poo in the corner. Yeah. Poo-poo.

I just had this thought, and perhaps it's reflective of the amount of sleep I've been getting.

If Clairol's shampoo makes you have "the urge to herbal", does it make Richard Gere have "the urge to gerbil"? Think about that one folks.

I might be back later to write a real blog

*Escape, leaving image behind*

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Silver Screen

3 . . . 2 . . . 1

Inaction. I have not watched one movie this term that I had not seen before. I've only rented one movie, "Best In Show", and I usually rent upwards of 8 a term. I haven't been to the Nugget, our antiquated cinema, at all this term. Of the DVD's I have, I've seen all the movies before, unless you count the new Star Wars DVD's. Suppresses gag reflex.

Anyway, it's rather strange because I've become used to watching a lot of films. Whether it is postwar Japanese film for a class (one of the best I've taken here, incidentally), or part of the strangely trite film society, or just a new release, I'm pretty accustomed to taking a few new movies in every term.

Freshman year was a little extreme, as I went to a few too many artsy films at the Loew, including "Humanite", three hours of unattractive sex that I was more than glad to doze through. Oh, and "Taboo", the homoerotic samurai film that Jordan rented because he was looking for a good action movie. The absurdity of that moment must have been palpable.

"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" might have been the best movie I saw in four years off the Film Society Pass, and it was pretty good.

Besides that, the Nugget sometimes brought films in late, but I still saw Episide II, the Harry Potters, the Lord of the Rings, and various other popcorn flicks over the past few years.

I don't know if it's me, with more work and less time to spend in the theater, or if it's just a slow movie season. There really hasn't been a blockbuster out this term, no huge sci fi releases, and before "Alexander" comes out, no big grunting man movies. Part of me is tempted to thank the possibility that it is a slow season, as I don't really need distractions this term. But if you think about it, since September, what films have come out worth seeing?

"The Incredibles"? I'll probably catch that at some point. "Kinsey" and "Ray" sound like they might be entertaining, although biopics inevitably open themselves up to scrutiny regarding artistic license and accuracy. I am very tempted by "Finding Neverland" though. I might have to see that one at some point. I'm glad that Kate Winslet is making a popular resurgence. She's really a good actress that got a bum rap for five seconds of infamous placement at the prow of an ill-fated luxury liner.

I'm not interested in "Saw" or similar horror films, or "The Grudge", or even a movie that might normally interest me like "I *Heart* Huckabees", which seems actually a little too existential, if such a thing is possible. And there's no way I'm seeing any of the silly sequels that seem to make themselves, like "Seed of Chucky", or the soon to be released "Blade: Trinity" (and don't get me started on wondering why there is an "Underworld II" in the works).

As for upcoming releases, they don't look particularly interesting either. And there are still a lot of sequels. Two I've already mentioned, but there's also "Bridget Jones", which I will pass on, thank you very much. And "Ocean's Twelve", which may or may not be as good as the first one. First remake, I mean.

Christmas season (yes, that time of year already) usually promises a few big movies, but they're really not promoting any huge ones this year it seems. "Meet the Fockers" will be a movie that I would not subject a nazi war criminal, or Slobodan Milosevic, or Ariel Sharon to, and a Joel Schumacher version of "The Phantom of the Opera" has "Come! to the Bat Cave! I mean, eponymous, inexplicably extravagant underground lair!" written all over it. My god. I can't imagine what idiot chose Joel Schumacher to direct a movie adaptation of "Phantom of the Opera", a project that sounds like it originated on a contract of the Satanic persuasion. Not that Phantom was even that great in the first place, but it does have interpretive potential.

Bill Murray's "The Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou" or something like that, looks pretty cool, if only because Bill Murray is one of those people that could make something like a game of Jenga into a work of art. He's that cool.

Next year I see something about an "Elektra" movie in January? The trailer makes it look like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" with mutants. And bigger boobies. And it looks like Kelly Hu is playing yet another stereotypical asian female role (apparently the long nails of Lady Deathstryke weren't quite enough). Unless it's not Kelly Hu and they got another woman that looks like her to tackle Jennifer Garner into a homoerotic situation.

Because obviously that homoerotic situation is acceptable by the vast majority of the populace, while people are uncomfortable about Colin Farrell's scenes with Jared Leto in "Alexander". There's also supposedly an extremely irrelevant homoerotic scene in "After the Sunset" in addition to various other gay-bashing moments in the film. It's ok if they're girls and they end up ripping each other's clothes off. Mud or water is icing on the cake. Icing would be icing on the cake as well.

Kelly Hu has played . . . an evil dragon lady that dies role in a DMX film (I think), an evil, non-speaking dragon lady mutant character that dies in X-Men II, an evil dragon lady sorceress who the evil dragon lady-ness (and sorceress-ness, rendering her completely helpless) is fucked out of in "The Scorpion King", and . . . am I noticing a trend here? The only thing I can think of her doing that could exploit more stereotypes would be an evil dragon lady villain that owns a chain of laundromats and restaurants by day and robs banks by night, stealthily and ninjalike. With sexy coldblooded precision. There would be an elaborate fight scene in both locales, of course, the latter resulting in an uncomfortably erotic death scene. John Woo, if you take that idea, I'm suing. But I guess if that's what she's good at, who am I to complain?

I'm glad that Michelle Yeoh has only been in a couple of big movies here, "Tomorrow Never Dies" and Jackie Chan's "Supercop" series being the only ones that I can think of.

Mmmm . . . icing

Update: Kelly Hu is NOT in "Elektra" so I can only conclude that it is another asian woman with long nails in tight leather who looks a lot like her. This is not to suggest that she is taking different roles however; one of her next two screen credits is for a role in the made for TV movie "The Librarian" in which she plays a member of the "Serpent Brotherhood". I don't think this is a great career move, an unnamed role in a made for TV action movie, so if I were Ms. Hu, I would be on the market for a new agent.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Now . . .

I'm not suggesting anything, but I think that there is an eerie resemblance between John Ashcroft and Cancer Man from the X-Files.

Here we have the mysterious villain of the X-Files series, Cancer Man. And below, we have the now ex-Attorney General of the US of A, John Ashcroft, who looks like he is about to throttle a baby.

The Sequel to Hack a Shaq

Is . . . gettin' Cozy with Kobe?

It doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Now, while college basketball is much more interesting than the glitzy pros, I still find it amusing to sometimes follow pro basketball. It was certainly a lot of fun last year watching the Pistons rip apart the Lakers at Mike's house.

Speaking of the Lakers, Kobe Bryant finally got what he wanted this offseason. A team all for himself. The Zen Master Phil Jackson left and Shaq was traded to the Heat (where, incidentally, Dwayne Wade is proving that he's quite the adequate replacement for Kobe, as he is playing beautiful fundamental basketball, averaging 27 points per game as well as shooting well from the line and seeing his assists skyrocket with Shaq in the paint).

Kobe was left with a shaky group of supporting players, and it was evident from the get-go that he would have to involve them more to bring up their level of play. Most people agreed that if he hogged the ball, nothing would get done. And it appears that exactly that is happening, with predictable results.

Now, teams used to play what was popularly referred to as Hack-a-Shaq. The theory was that Shaq was going to score from the paint, so by fouling him, they could rely on his pitiful free throw ability to reduce his potentness. It worked for the most part, but they did give him a lot of free points. The Pistons showed how to actually play with Shaq, which was to isolate him with the ball away from the net, and make him shoot from outside 5-6 feet.

This year, with Shaq gone and Kobe driving the ball more, teams are taking it out on Kobe. I haven't even seen a Laker's game on TV yet but it's evident that's he's keeping the ball and driving a lot. This is resulting in a disproportionate amount of fouling on Kobe, as teams seem content with sending him to the line as well. The idea there is that while he's an excellent free throw shooter, he'll eventually tire of elbows and forearm shots and be forced to play a more timid game. You change Kobe's game, you lower his effectiveness. And it's working.

In five games, Kobe has 74 free throw attempts. That's almost 15 a game. In years past, he got between 8-9 a game. Consequently, while his points are still there, his field goal percentage this year will probably be pretty dismal. It's always been ok, with his spotty jumpshot ability covered up by easy lay-ups, which happened because Shaq was a presence people couldn't ignore, but without Shaq, teams are collapsing on him, fouling him and making him play a different brand of basketball.

(In today's game, it's halftime and he already has 11 free throw attempts by the way, and is shooting 3-11 from the field).

Kobe will do one of two things.

1) Pass the ball more. Drive and dish, and make the defense play more conservative ball. This will allow him to drive harder, and also for his teammates to get into the game more often. Lamar Odom is a legitimate player, and the Lakers need to get the ball to him more often.

2) Keep taking the licks and just drive drive drive. This will result in a dismal shooting percentage, many losses for the Lakers, and a very angry Kobe. In all likelihood, being the prima donna that he is, Kobe will go this route as his averages plummet, which will make his numbers drop all the more.

I'm really enjoying this because it will serve as a rude awakening to Kobe, who will find that his fancy moves won't do a thing against a couple of 7-0 defensemen who have no problem teaching him a lesson for not passing the ball. There is a good chance that this will lead to injury as well for Kobe, so people that have him in fantasy basketball, I would trade him now.

Incidentally, Kobe is now 4-15 from the field and has 13 free throw attempts to his credit, of which he has made 10, and we're halfway through the third quarter. Sure, he has 20 points, but the more teams make Kobe hit 3's, the easier it will be to beat the Lakers.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

To the Strains of John Barry's Bass Guitar

Simonova Everything

I believe that in "Goldeneye", Pierce Brosnan's first and best Bond movie, the smart and sexy scientist Natalya Simonova tells Bond that her name is pronounced "Sim-YO-no-va". Nevertheless I find her name quite euphemistic and dirty. I'm not sure if it's as dirty as Holly Goodhead, the smart and sexy scientist from "Moonraker", but it's definitely dirtier than Christmas Jones, the smart and sexy scientist from "The World is Not Enough".

Isabella Scoropco (sp?) is sexier than either Lois Chiles or Denise Richards though. And yes, I know those names off the top of my head. You see, thanks to a zany friend of mine from way back in third grade, actually my first friend upon moving to Greenwich, I've been a Bond freak for a long time. Griffin Lassiter (great name) was as far as I know the only eleven year old that enjoyed putting on a kimono /smoking jacket and eating sushi while watching "Goldfinger". Brilliant. Wish I knew what he was up to today.

So since third grade, I've been into the Bond movies. Read the Ian Fleming books, which are better than any of the movies, even the ones based directly off the books, and enjoyed Sean Connery's Scottish Sexiness. I lamented the demise of the series, as there had not been one made since Timothy Dalton's well intentioned but badly executed turn at the role. The bond-mania kind of lapsed after I had seen all the movies, until Brosnan came out with "Goldeneye".

"Goldeneye" had everything a Bond film needed - a true villain in former MI6 agent Alec Trevalyn, two girls Natalya Simonova and Xenia Onatopp (great names), Moneypenny, Q, good writing, a nice Post-Cold War bit, and a fairly suave Bond in Brosnan. Oh, and a token attempt to modernize by making the new head of MI6, M, a woman, played by Dame Judi Dench very skillfully. And Alan Cumming, a wonderful actor in the role of the Invincible Boris? It kicked ass. And it was all made better by one of the greatest console games ever, by far the best console shooter (light-years over Halo and I can predict, light-years over Halo 2), the Rare developed gem Goldeneye.

I spent a lot of my time from eighth grade (I think, perhaps it was ninth) to junior year of high school perfecting my Goldeneye skills with my friends. We played it a lot senior year too. Maybe more. We'd all have characters, some of them cheaper than others because they would blend into the scenery. I favored Baron Samedi, the Voodoo Priest/God from Roger Moore's first movie "Live and Let Die", mainly because he eschewed the wearing of pants. Yes, eschewed.

Jordan and I were probably the best at the game, and this is not an opinion because we regularly won the matches. I think my skills were a little better just because after freshman year of high school I did the best after not playing the game for a year, but that's just me. We had a serious Zen thing going, where we had our favorite controllers that had a specific feel to them, a sensitivity that we had gotten so used to that they were like extensions of our very limbs. The best fights came in four person, pistol matches with one hit kills on. Those were by far the best, as they required the most skill. Power weapons were also fun after we learned how to dodge RCP-90 bullets, no small feat as the RCP-90 is a 90 clip personal defense weapon with a high fire rate. We just figured out the timing, that was all, to the extent that we could seriously strafe between the bullets.

I would match my skills up with anyone out there, as only Jeff's brother's friend Eric could beat us, and I think he smoked his skills away after awhile, but no one plays anymore. All about Halo and Counterstrike now. Grumble.

In any case, back to Bond.

Brosnan's second film "Tomorrow Never Dies" wasn't that great, although it was still fun. I was biased because I'm not a big Teri Hatcher fan. And I don't care if they're real and spectacular. Just not a fan.

The third movie, "The World is Not Enough", suffered from plot issues and not great gadgets. I still contend that Fatmanninoff (aka Valentin) is alive. And while Sophie Marceau was a great girl-villain, even though the Stockholm Syndrome thing was strange, Denise Richards was . . . absolutely a plot-killer. It defied even Bond movie traditions that this girl could be a nuclear physicist. And she couldn't act anyway. Not even trapped in a chamber filling with water. And the line "I thought Christmas only came once a year" was one of the most groan inducing Bond lines EVER. Garbage did the theme song, but unfortunately that's what most of this movie was.

My unshakable opinion used to be that "Moonraker" is the worst Bond movie of all time. Strange plot, Jaws doesn't help a whole lot, and neither does his Bride of Frankenstein girlfriend, and despite the fact that Lois Chiles is attractive and a good precursor to Carey Lowell's CIA Agent in "License to Kill", the movie is just dead. The space fight scene was a parody of every other Bond fight scene, including the clunky underwater fight scenes from some of Connery's earlier ones. But my opinion has changed. This last Bond movie, "Die Another Day", is the worst Bond movie ever. And not just because they've gotten horribly stupid about the titles.

Where do you start? Why don't I just make a list?

1) Madonna (Theme Song)
2) Madonna (Guest Appearance as Fencing Instructor)
3) Horrible Villian that you can't get into because he got a face graft or something like that
4) Good looking actor obscured by a layer of diamonds over his face
5) Halle Berry is sexy, but "that's quite a mouthful"? Almost the worst one-liner ever.
6) Several other one liners that I've thankfully forgotten
7) A stupid Ice Palace that was built to fall down
8) The girl-villain was sexy, but for what? She had no character
9) Cloaking Device? Kind of cool, but the gadgets were strangely aloof. Even the homages, like the crocodile used in Octopussy, seemed a little contrived
10) Stupid fight scenes that used Matrix like slow motion excessively
11) The use of Matrix like bullet time even outside of fight scenes, like when Rick Yune's character twirls and we enter bullet time for his cape swoosh.
12) Last but not least, an ending that lets Bond and the girl desecrate a Buddhist temple by having sex in it. Nice Move.

This movie, the more I think about it, really goes beyond self-referential and into satirical. Why would I need to see this movie when I have Austin Powers I and II? It was very sad that Brosnan had to go out this way.

That's actually the reason of this post. Recent reports have said that Brosnan is out. Not really of his own voliltion either apparently. Which is sad, because he might have had a good one left in him, or at least could have left the franchise on a better note. He apparently did say something about "leaving while on top", which is a little delusional, but we can let him pretend that it was the position in which he ended up with Halle Berry, which would be a good way to go, I suppose.

The franchise is getting old, and has been challenged lately by movies like XXX and various movies starring The Rock. But I still think there's a place for a womanizing secret agent with various gadgets and a way of sleeping with anyone. They don't need to be self-referential to the extent that they did in the last movie, or try to make up for a retread plot with clunkily used graphics. That's not what Bond is about. Stick with the old and you can still make a good movie. Good advice for George Lucas, but unfortunately he's not biting.

I am a little worried though, as there are talks of various big names, Colin Farrell, Hugh Jackman, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, people like that taking over the role of Bond. I don't think that works. Bond has never been an A-List celeb. Connery and Brosnan were somewhat well known, and Moore was the first choice initially and was fairly well known. But none of them were international superstars. The Batman franchise was ruined by the casting of Kilmer and Clooney, and I sincerely hope Bond doesn't go the same way. Then again, we know what happened when they cast unknown Hayden Christensen for Star Wars. Perhaps Hugh Jackman would make an ok Bond. Just no claw or sideburn references please. And if Bond says "bub" at any point in his first movie, I reserve the right to demand a full refund.

No Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Finally, a Topic

Richard, I've sent a link to you for this, and your assignment is as follows - scan the .pdfs for information that would be obviously deducible from The Art of War. I know you have a copy of that lying around somewhere

This link first caught my eye on fark because it mentioned Zerg Rushes, a strategy from Starcraft. A cursory examination of the site reveals that it is in fact about "swarming", a tactic of warfare where an army disperses and strikes in pulses of force, avoiding concentrated attacks and massing only where the enemy is. I've read a bit of it, and it actually reads pretty well, especially the historical parts, if you're into that kind of thing. Mongols and horse-archers and whatnot.

Chapter Five also reads very well because it highlights the shortcomings of our military, despite and due to its reliance on maintaining, at a high cost, a core of heavy attack vehicles. Also, it had the following statement, which I found very prophetic (this was published in 2000).

"Intellience-gathering is the heart of COIN (Counter-Insurgency) operations. The insurgent's knowledge of local terrain and population is his greatest asset. He gains the support of the local population either by force or by popularity - can blend easily with the indigenous population, staying in safe houses and other places" (85).

Obviously we haven't (or didn't) take studies such as this one into account when planning our Iraq strategy. This isn't exactly new information either. We encountered it in Vietnam, we encountered it in Korea. We would have encountered it in Normandy, but that was in France. We could tell who was French because they would surrender immediately. Kidding.

Iraq is so touchy because we have to avoid intimidating civilians, burning shit, and nuking infrastructure - all operations that we normally perform to claim victory. Because that would be . . . terrorism? Because we are there for freedom or something like that. You can't drink freedom, as it does not quench thirst. Nor does it resurrect the relatives you lost in Saddam's regime after America abandoned you the first time. No one doubted that his regime was evil. But we consider Castro evil, and we're just waiting for him to die. Another tumble like the one he had last month and El Guapo is probably done. Technically Ariel Sharon is a war criminal, but we consider him our greatest ally in the Middle East area. Why? Not really because of religion, or politics, or morals. We just have too much money invested in Israel.

But I digress. Any reading on Scythians is cool because they made drinking vessels out of the skulls of their enemies.

Yeah, That's right.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

You ask, how did I manage to stuff my entire fist in my mouth?

Well I shall tell you, children, so sit down.

I said about a week ago that Bob Dylan did not deserve a Nobel Prize in Literature. I still stand by that statement. I also mentioned a class that is taught on the Poetry of Dylan here at Dartmouth. Personally, I think there are many more skillful songwriters out there, that don't get the respect they deserve because they were not mainstream enough or happened to be african american, female, or some other oft-maligned minority (not that women are a minority, but maligned, yes).

Apparently I spoke too soon, because I found out from this article that not only are universities across the nation rectifying this issue, but are completely going gung-ho in the most horribly wrong direction imaginable. Yes, there is a class being taught on the lyrics of Lil Kim at Syracuse. Lil Kim, if anyone doesn't know, is a short chesty african american female that doesn't really sing or rap. Her fame is founded on the perkiness of her chest, which must have been a great experience for the Syracuse students who were present for her guest "lecture".

"Hi mom. Yeah, I'm taking a class on Lil Kim this term? Yeah, Lil Kim. No, not the Rudyard Kipling book. Lil Kim. Yes, she nearly flashed the nation a few years ago. No, I'm not joking. What? Yes, I'm getting a real education. Mom, her lyrics are poetry, the prof says so!! Man, you're so close minded . . . "

My point a week ago was not that there should be classes dedicated to popular artists. Contrary to that, I don't think there should be any English classes dedicated to studying the repetitive lyrics of pop music, of which Dylan falls into the category. But if you do give Dylan a class, you should give someone like Lennon a class. I did not mean that there should be a Lil Kim class. If this is Syracuses idea of killing two birds with one stone (satisying some invisible racial and gender class offering requirement), then they should be ashamed of themselves.

Incidentally, the class in full is called "Hip-Hop Eshu: Queen Bitch 101" No joke. Other female specific courses in African and African American Studies? Harriet Tubman. No one else. Now, there are plenty of African American female writers or poets or admirable figures that you can study. Toni Morrison, Rita Dove, Gloria Naylor (wrote Women of Brewster Street - Gloria Gaynor wrote "I Will Survive") and a couple of others stand out pretty quickly. Instead, they will study her lyrics, and "videos and performances to analyze her iconography". Why not just say "ogle her boobies"? I guess in that respect, Lil Kim is an admirable figure. In that she has one.

I mean, she's just another repressed African American woman who instead of writing real lyrics, sells her body and her voice and calls it feminism. Because she can swear while half naked? Because she get so much money for appearing next to nude that it has overcome her guilt complex that emerges from selling her body? There's a wonderful essay by Audre Lorde, I think, about the psychological absence of father figures in African American households (because how can a man be a man when in his country they dismember and castrate him in terms of power and economic capacity?). I think that applies here somewhere. If that's where this class is going, more power to it. I don't give it that much credit though.

In any case, how do you even analyze her lyrics? Hip Hop lyrics have shout outs and credits all over the place. Samples and guest stars galore. Might as well study Missy Elliot, Jadakiss, Pat Benetar and whoever else she samples/gives writing credits to/sucks off. Ok, that was inappropriate. But that is the image she sells. I guess since the class goes over the emergence of Hip Hop as a culture they'll study that at some point. Week 6: East Coast vs. West Coast (aka. how does Tupac keep releasing records even though he's dead?)

Next time, I'll give an overview of "Britney Spears: Hit Me Baby One More Time, a Study of How to Grow Up to Be Battered Wife". I mean, where do you draw the line? Start studying Britney videos to analyze the growing fetishism of the lolita figure in mainstream music? I bet I can fill up that lecture hall quicker than you can say "silicone"

There are no words left

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

See How They Shine . . . I'm Sailing Right Behind

Art Garfunkel's kid looks just like him

It's true. I saw him sing the national anthem or something like that a couple of years ago at some sporting event. Might have been the 2003 MLB playoffs. Exactly the same. Like they pulled out the old cloning vat and duplicated Art. Same hair and all. I wonder if Paul Simon had anything to do with this . . .

I like cheese. Cheese is wonderful. The sign of a refined culture is the development of refined milk cultures. I think I've said something to this effect before. One of the culinary pleasures I get out of life here, besides coffee and the bread at Molly's, is walking down to the CoOp, buying a loaf of fresh french bread and a small slice of cheese, like a brie or a camembert, and enjoying it on the way home and at home.

It might last myself and a friend or two a couple of hours. Maybe. It's actually not a very high price to pay (1.99 for the bread, usually less than 4.00 for cheese) for decadence. There are so many cheeses, some that are good in certain situations, others that are pretty much good with everything.

I had a risotto a while ago that was made by the presence of a wonderful pecorino cheese (that's basically a spicy parmesan - say that with an Italian accent for full effect).

Salad is ten times better with Gorgonzola or bleu cheese.

I could go on, about cheddars and gruyeres and goudas and roqueforts, but I don't think it's necessary. But all this said, I will never live in Wisconsin.

Speaking of Cheese, the Cheese Shop is one of my favorite Monty Python sketches. It's the absurdity of Flying Circus at its best and the simultaneous lampooning and celebration of British culture is in high gear. They run through what sounds like a majority of the world's cheeses, and some that might not exist (Venezuelan Beaver Cheese being a good example, since there are no Beavers in Venezuela).

But the reason I loved the sketch the most was because at one point, it sounds like they mention a cheese called the Danish Bimbo. It was to my regret just this past month that I found out that it was actually pronounced Danish Fimboe in the sketch. Which might or might not be another made up cheese. Still a great sketch though.

Oh yeah, Trent Reznor.

Loopier at 1:00 AM

A Boy Named Sue

Cash Money

I enjoy Johnny Cash. He had a great voice and put out some quality stuff in his time. But I'm listening to his last album, and as good as some of the covers are (Bridge over Troubled Water and Hurt stand out), some are a little excessive. The Man in Black DID NOT need to cover Oh Danny Boy. The presence of this song, while it sounds like every other version of this song ever made, KILLS the middle of the album. The fact that Desperado, another good song that has been covered ad infinitum, comes right after it does not help. The sound is different from the rest of the CD and his voice just doesn't have the same gravity that it does in his cover of Hurt.

I don't really like that he needed to change the lyrics of Hurt, but I do understand that Cash appealed to a rather different audience than Trent Reznor. That was your Nine Inch Nail frontman reference of the day. Richard tells me that he's got a new album coming out by the end of the year. Ah, the naivete of youth.

It bothers me that I haven't gotten to the point that I want to on my thesis. I'm shooting for 4-5 chapters of 20-30 pages a chapter and I'm nowhere near that. I understand that the first term is the hard one, and I should have more planned out so that I can slam out a chapter every two weeks Winter term, but still, I wanted to get at least one done and get a good chunk out of another.

As it stands, I have 25 pages written on A Mask at Ludlow and the use of Echo, but it needs serious revision. And a lot of organization that isn't getting itself done.

Basically, I have the next three weeks until Thanksgiving. I'm planning on getting this chapter done and the beginnings of another one planned and brainstormed to about 15 pages, 20 if I'm tackling Paradise Lost next. And then since I only have one final I might actually be able to get something resembling a final version of the second chapter done. That would only leave 3 for Winter term. That would be so nice. It would mean I could take two classes, one being the thesis, and just write the crap out of it. I think I need two more bio classes after this term to graduate (hopefully) with a Bio degree.

Then again, there's still LSATs and the job market to think about. It's so damn distracting, knowing that I'll have to either go to a different school or find myself a job. I'm hoping that the job market is ok, but from what I've seen so far, there isn't much call for an English/Bio major with a specialization in 17th Century English Literature. Market myself. That's what it's about . . .

Someone say something vapid. Or funny. Not about money. Or the future.

Addendum to the Horror


If I could transfer myself to an alternate universe, in which John Kerry won this election but the Red Sox lost game 7 of the ALCS to the Yankees, I would do it in a heartbeat. Less than a heartbeat. I would do it without a second thought to the poor loser Red Sox that wouldn't go on to win a World Series, so long as that puppet Bush was pushed out of office. Alas, it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Still depressed, still shocked. Contemplating a life of drugs in Scotland

. . .


I don't know what to say. I'm speechless. Flummoxed. Flabbergasted. Bamboozled. Flimfamfoozled. To think that there are states out there that are in a dead heat right now. To think that in a state where 1.5 million people vote, exactly a half split on way and the other half the other. It's like flipping a coin. Head or tails. Nader is the edge, I suppose. But . . . all this really means is that the Democrats failed to seize on an opportunity to expose a president, or that they did and the media just kept spinning it around until we were all dizzy and couldn't distinguished between the names on the ballot, and just chose one at random.

I honestly don't get it. This election shouldn't have been even close. There was no way . . . Republican or Democrat be damned. . . . incumbent president or not. This was the election that kids and first time voters came out in force. It would have been so just if Kerry had won by a landslide. But as it is right now, it looks like Ohio is going to Bush, as is either New Mexico, or Iowa or both. Not that it matters because Ohio and either one is enough. Look at the south and the midwest. Don't they understand that they have more of a chance of being hit by a cyclone than by a terrorist attack?

I mean, the only massive terrorist attack on US soil before 9/11 was Oklahoma City, if I'm not mistaken, and that came from an internal threat. No self respecting foreign terrorist is going to hit a Omaha. Why is it that New York City and Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania can all go to Kerry and the rest of the country still sits on their asses and votes down party lines? What does the rest of the country have to fear? It's as if Bush and his cronies have managed to paint a picture of the U.S. being engulfed in a wave of nuclear holocaust. If there is another attack, it will still be on a major metropolis, like New York, or Boston, or San Francisco, or L.A. And yet, all these places chose to vote Bush down.

Where are all the women that realize that in the next four years, due to this election, they will lose their right to control their own bodies? It's not like they're shooting drugs, they're making a choice between having and not having a child. Which has extreme ramifications on their everyday life, perhaps even life and death. Choice is a responsibility, and Pro-life stances just argue that people can't handle that responsibility. Perhaps some of them can't, but that's why you set up programs for teenage mothers and druggie mothers that get pregnant.

Where are all the African American voters? Were they really afraid that their parking tickets were going to get them disqualified on election day? Were they that distracted and intimidated by Republicans? Perhaps, but nevertheless, the weakening and factionalization of organizations like the NAACP and the tendancy of left wing attention seekers to rise to power in these organizations is destroying any semblance of a black voice in America.

This election shouldn't have been close. Not even close. It should have been a Fleetwood Mac-ian Landslide for God's Sakes. All this talk about election controversy and recounting and fraud makes me ill, because if America really had an educated voting populace that understood the issues at hand, no amount of subterfuge could have stopped John Kerry from winning this election.

Disillusioned and Depressed and thinking about heading North of the Border

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Feelin' Groovy

Closet of Voting

I actually voted about a month ago when I sent my absentee ballot home, but I'll still tune in for the media spectacle tonight when we find out if America really is a nation of tools. Actually I'll probably be watching The Daily Show special starting at 10:00. If anyone hasn't read the transcript for Jon Stewart's attack on Crossfire or seen the footage, it really is very telling. Here's the link to the transcript if anyone wants to read. It makes me sad that Stewart can only be a voice of reason because he's on Comedy Central. Because Bill Maher, who I believe was immensely underrated on ABC, got banished to the depths of HBO a little after 9/11. And besides the two of them, there really is no other smart late night host right now. Even Letterman's writers shy away from real opinion. And Conan is good, but not nearly as ascerbic as Stewart or Maher at his best.

I did, however, like Conan's bit in which Triumph the Comic Insult Dog visited the post-debate spin room. The spin room should really be spinning, at about 50 RPM. That way, after half an hour, people would have to leave and vomit, which is exactly what I think my reaction would be after half an hour in there.

It was wonderful that Steward did what he did, since CNN has been a bastion of stupidity since even before 9/11. Their form of sensationalism is even worse than FoxNews because they have real viewership. Anyone can tune out people like Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coulter because they're so obviously at the far end of the see-saw, telling everyone else to stay away from their brand of self-assured conservatism. But when CNN, the "24 Hour News Network" allows people on Crossfire and Larry King to just yell at each other over a laugh and applause track, it can really change the opinion of those that actually care enough about the news to watch CNN.

Watching SNL last night really made this all the clearer. While SNL sucks more now than it has at any point in the past ten years, part of it is really because "news" networks like CNN make such farces out of what is going on in the political world that there's no longer a point to spoofing politics. When Rudy Giuliani comes on after a debate and spouts some Bushisms, and the anchor turns to Hillary Clinton so she can spout some Kerryisms, one is never sure whether to laugh or cry.

There, that was my political rant of the day. I don't like politics because we have a former CEO jerking the puppet strings of a man who is certifiably retarded, a former Mr. Universe in office in California, and a Democratic Party that has no backbone. And the government still is and will be for a while a privileged group of old white men deciding the fate of women's uteri. Uteruses. Utereeses. Oh, and Nader is a tool.

On a lighter note, my brother has informed me that our FF7 characters were in fact level 70ish by the time we finished disc one. We had obtained Omnislash and mastered several materia. So I was understating it. Time wasn't a sparse commodity back then. Oh what I would do to have the concept of spare time enter into my life again. I suppose I'm using some of it right now to blog though, so I shouldn't be complaining.

Bless again. Thanks to it, I'm listening to a Simon and Garfunkel concert from 1968 entitled "Voices of Intelligent Dissent". Whee!!!

Oh yeah, and if I can direct your attention to the nifty sidebar, which is there thanks to my l33t HTML skills learned in 7th Grade under the tutelage of good old Mr. Silvaggi, there are several webcomics there, one or two of which is sure to pique your interest.

Well the first picture is actually not a webcomic. The second one, the redhead, is a link to Queen of Wands, a very amusing and sometimes extremely angsty webcomic. Great writing that incorporates a healthy knowledge of comics, cynicism and Bohemianism.

Then we have Brent Sienna from PVPOnline, a comic by Scott Kurtz that is really mainstream geekdom at its best. Plenty of Star Wars and Marvel references and Skull, the Blue Troll that is invisible to the impure.

Ozy, from Ozy and Millie, a left-leaning anthropomorphic comic that occasionally has flashes of brilliance. More often than not it's politics is a little heavy handed, but it also channels a lot of Calvin and Hobbes, which is nice. A little much at times, but still . . .

Penny-Arcade I linked to before. Gabe and Tycho are kind of the anti-Kurtz, not as in anti-Heart of Darkness but as in their brand of webcomic celebrates being insiders. You really have to know your video games to get a lot of their references. They're also too violent and profane to ever get mainstream like Kurtz but that violence also gets them as much 18-35 male readership as Maxim. Maybe not quite as much.

Megatokyo has fallen off a bit since Largo left with most of the comedy, but it's still amusing at times. Piro channels a lot of Chobits and Love Hina, and that's probably why his comic drags as much as it does. Even good anime has a habit of making absolutely nothing happen (One Piece).
And last is a link to MacHall, a college student run comic that updates rarely now, but still has great art and is consistently amusing when it does update.

Yeah, so those are the ones that I read regularly, along with Scary Go Round by John Allison (I think that's him), which is as surreal and absurb a comic as I can stand. It is very funny though when you get it. And sometimes when you don't too.

Peace, Man. Cool Beans

Monday, November 01, 2004

Thom York's Lazy Eye Grants Him POWAAAAA


You know it does

I went Pumpkin Picking today, or as Gary would have it, Pimpin Punking. A bunch of us realized that we hadn't gone for four years and should probably go before we left New England for good. So we trekked out a few miles in my 4x4 All Terrain (AKA Honda Accord) and eventually reached a quaint little farm where some very nice people that probably have some skeletons in their closets directed us to a pumpkin patch.

It was a little desolate, with all the pumpkins sitting forlornly, some in a more advanced state of decay than others, in a wasteland of vines and dust. Not very sincere, I have to say. But for what it was worth, we found some nice pumpkins. And their apple trees were very cool and we managed to pick some juicy ones. I felt like a monkey in the apple trees. Do monkeys eat apples? I feel like they must.

So it was all good and fun, and now we have several pumpkins in the kitchen awaiting slaughter, upon which we will eviscerate them and make dinnar with them. Poor, defenseless pumpkins . . . almost makes one feel pity. Not.

The Halloween Penny Arcade is brilliant. It's typical Penny Arcade, in that if you're not an RPGer you won't get it. But I can definitely symphathize with not having a memory card, or in my case, not having a PS1 card compatible with a PS2. Damn third parties. I could only use each FF9 save point once. Until I got a new card that is. Then it was ok.

The kid's responses in the comic are awesome, as are the classic but cute costumes. For a couple of dorky guys that draw comics about video games, fruit-fucking juicers, and claw shrimp, they do pretty well when it comes to storytelling and panel-to-panel progression and spacing and such. There is a reason they're so damn popular I suppose.

This is where I feel I have to get dorky as well, so if you don't want to feel dorky with me, feel free to stop reading.

Still here?

Ok. Seven years ago . . . 1997. Final Fantasy VII was released that year, so that was probably his first time through the game. I'm not sure about this, so I need to ask people like Richard - which version of Jenova would he probably be on after 25 hours? Because if it's the first one, he was taking his sweet ass time. That's what I remember, and it's kind of difficult to remember because my first time through the game was so weird.

My first time through the game was when Eric Hunter (Mike's older bro) burned me a copy of the game for PC. I got all the way to the end of the first disc, pretty quickly, but then found out that my copies of the other discs were faulty. They just didn't work. And so rather than spend the money immediately on the game (it was still expensive at that point, I remember), I just played and leveled near the end of disc one. Over. and Over. and Over.

I logged an inordinate amount of hours fighting lightning birds in some canyon to the point that, after about 40 hours, I was somewhere over level 50 (maybe higher) with a mastered materia. I think. I don't think I'm exaggerating. Richard, you'll have to corroborate my story. At some point, much, much later, we gave up and bought the game. And beat it handily. But I take pride on 1) levelling so obsessively and 2) keeping Aeris alive longer than any other human on the face of the Earth has bothered doing. Oops. Spoilers. Oh well. *marks*

Ah, the memories. I know a lot of people don't understand how one can sit through RPGs, but it's a lot like reading a choose your own adventure book. Except it's better because you have so much more control. And there's usually a better story. When you do something momentous (like finding out about Shadow's past or learning Omnislash) it's quite rewarding.

The best games like Chrono Trigger keep you coming back with features like alternate endings and "New Game +" options where you can continue with characters from the end of a game. Some of them are turning into movies where you press a button every now and again, and I'm not really a fan of that. Also, some people think that games like FFX-2 must be better than a game like FF6 by virtue of graphics. But that's like saying the new Star Wars must be better than the old ones by virtue of CGI. Which is a load of crap. *Grumble*

Man, I want to play Ogre Battle 64 again. What a great game. And not just because it was the only good RPG for the N64. It was just a good game. Crisp graphics, interesting story, great characters and Atlus just makes such slick battle systems . . .

RyukuprOn the Cerberus > Ankiseth > You