Thursday, September 28, 2006

How's it Hanging?

There comes a time in every relationship when that awkward topic needs to come up; one you just don't know how to present to your loved one, yet still needs to be resolved. Liz and I fell for each other quite quickly, and it was almost like we knew each other for much longer. We had a lot in common, so much it might scare those who know us, but not too much for it to be weird. , well weirder than we are individually. Anyway, there was one thing we didn't have in common, and rather than confront her, I have dealt with it in silence.

You see I can be a little weird when it comes to some things, but I usually am right, and this was another case. I understand the proper way to position a toilet paper roll is with the paper hanging over the top and out the front. She seems to just hang it any old way. Surveys have continually showed a preference for the proper manner, both by homeowners and hotel operators. It also just looks right. I had be secretly adjusting the rolls to the proper configuration, fearing guests might notice her faux pas. Trying to be open and honest, I decided to discuss this with her.

After a few weeks of not quite figuring how to broach the subject, I managed to find the words, but they didn't come out right, as she seemed to think I'm just crazy, which is more than a little true. I expressed my feelings, and she still thought I was crazy. We kinda agreed just to disagree. I suppose if she's purely hanging it at random, she'll likely have it right 50% of the time, and I'll try to always change the rolls when possible. I love her too much for this to be an issue. I suppose eHarmony wouldn't have matched us up, but that would be a shame, as she's the greatest gal ever.

Monday, September 25, 2006

My Odd Hobby

Well, actually I have many odd hobbies, but one blog at a time. In my free time, which I tend to have an excess of, I often veg on the internet, and one of my favorite places to do so is the Wkipedia. What's a Wkipedia, well it's part wiki, a collaborative community knowledge repository where everyone can make contributions, and it's part encyclopedia (if you don't know what an encyclopedia is, you really have more important things to tend to than read my blogs). Anyway, it's an odd nerd ecosystem, where anyone can create or edit entries on anything. While there is a potential for really poor or rather biased entries, it doesn't end up much worse than Britannica or anything else (it's certainly more accurate than your average know-it-all, even me). What is real interesting is the scope of articles, especially the details available on some of the more tangential subjects, and how you can quickly go from one area of knowledge to another.

One such example was this Saturday, when Liz and I were watching Stay Alive, a rather forgettable story, sort of a Ring meats Playstation, with a touch of Dracula. Anyway, the description isn't so good, but the movie wasn't either (by our standards, it was better than many though), anyway, it featured a rather bastardized (and Americanized) rendition of the Elizabeth Báthory story or urban legend (is it an urban legend if it originated in rural society? is there a rural legend?). We looked up her entry, and read up on what people had to say. I won't bore you with he details, though in all honesty it's an interesting, though grizzly, bit of history, but I will mention our odd journey that followed.

We managed to confirm what Liz already knew (someone likes to read up on serial killers), and we found links to various references to her in pop culture. These included various books, games, and a lot of bands--especially death metal bands. Hmm, when all else fails, I can always laugh at death metal. We noticed that there were death metal bands mentioned, black metal bands mentioned, and blackened death metal bands. Hmm, I like blackened seafood, maybe I'd like blackened death metal? We had to read up on this new subgenre, and we were rewarded with a highly technical assessment of the genre, its roots, and practitioners of the 'art'. A link to the article on death grunts was our next jumping point, and that led us to doom metal, melodic doom metal, and gothic metal. Did you know doom metal has subgenres? traditional doom, epic doom, death doom, black doom, funeral doom, drone doom, stoner doom, sludge doom, and the all other doom category: avant garde doom. I find it interesting that enough people care about the differences between these subgenres and can distinguish each one. These articles are written about as well as those on the Declaration of Independence or William Shakespeare.

Anyway, it passes the time, and it will prepare me for my appearance on Jeopardy. "I'll take Swedish death metal bands for $1000 Alex".

Monday, September 18, 2006

It Could Have Been So Much Better

koala being adorableYesterday was the annual outing to my employers annual outing at the zoo. My employer, whose name will remain confidential (though it would appear with Haitian pride in rhyming dictionaries), sponsors an outing to the Columbus Zoo once a year. It's not free, though it's close enough to that, and with the zoo being a popular destination, my employer a big one (apparently with rather fertile employees too), Jack Hanna making his annual appearance, and the weather being nice for a change, we had the perfect storm of crowds. Which means, it wasn't the perfect day for the zoo.

cute elephant mommyLet me get the fact that I love the zoo out of the way, and I especially love big lumbering animals (me being one helps in that regard). This gives me a great deal of positive inertia that normally overcomes obstacles, but yesterday I was put to the test. We got an early start, not insanely early, but early enough. I was surprised to find that every one else got there early too. Not a good sign. We stand like cattle ready to get slaughtered as we ease our way through the line to get in, and we dart past the huddled masses at the entrance to see the elephants and new exhibits, and from that point until our departure several hours later, we were constantly outnumbered by kids, strollers, and the occasional kid actually in a stroller. I'm not expert, but isn't the reason for the stroller to haul the kid? Also, if a kid is too young to walk upright for a sustained period of time, why bother with the zoo. You can just take them to a taxidermy shop or somewhere else and lie. They won't know the difference, and I won't have to hear there screams, smell their diapers, or remove their pudgy bits of flesh from my shoes when I accidentally step on them.

orangutan hidingAfter an hour of concentrated birth control, we tried to scavenge for food. This year the food that's included in the tickets was a giant buffet (a hot dog buffet at that) with an even more monstrous line. Liz and I were about as eager to wait in that line as our vegetarian friend. Pretty much at that point any one of us were willing to just hop in one of the animal pens and do what the critters were doing--hiding. I've never seen so many animals from so many diverse backgrounds hiding--many just cowering in the corner, trying to get away. I totally understood them, and I wish I could join them. It was that crowded, and there were that many kids. Between tortoises hiding behind bushes, orangutans curling up in balls in corners, and pandas, tigers, and otters seeking refuge in caves (not the same one--fortunate for the otters and pandas), there wasn't much to see. Many more animals just were missing, likely finding places behind the scenes to hide. Fortunately the usually sleepy koalas were awake enough to move a bit, which served as the highlight of the day--well that and the walk back to the car.

leopard sleepingAfter I got to the car, I scraped some odd bits of kid off of my shoes (along with some bird shit from my shirt), and we were on our way. I hope to go back, but hopefully on a much less crowded day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

My Last Hurah

During my brief stint in college, I was lucky enough to be on the University of Florida College Bowl team, and I got to travel to a couple fine cities, and many not so fine places. Even if our destination sucked, the journey was usually fun, and the people watching potential, always made things even more interesting. After graduating, I had to pass the baton onto a new era of combatants, and I left the glory days of road trips behind me.

Well that was the way things were until one summer, Jeff, the never ending student asked if I wanted to join the folks on a road trip--a masters tournament, which basically means one open to old hags like me (I may have been 23 at the time). Anyway, I jumped at the chance. We would be going along with Alex, the fella with the most remarkable memory I've ever seen and Mark, the only dude I knew who took estrogen pills--long story. Anyway, the tournament was in Washington, DC, and it also had a trash tournament, which probably was the main motivation for Alex and Jeff. We were taking a rental up there, and we would stay with Stacia, our old advisor, who fondly referred to us as 'pookies'. She was living in DC as a part of her career as a PC PR rep.

The trip started ominously enough, as the rental was a Mazda 626. I've rented dozens of cars over the years, and I've never so much as seen a Mazda on a rental car lot. The car wasn't the biggest means of transit for a Sasquatch like me, and four dudes in any car could get crowded. Oh, and it started to look like I would have to drive the whole way. What was worse was that we were gonna drive all night and get there in the morning, which was when the tournament began. Ugghhh.

After a couple hours on the road, we stopped for gas, and owing to the fact we were in Georgia, the guys came back from their trips to the restroom with 40s (such beverage choice is illegal in Florida, though I'm pretty sure driving with open 40s is illegal in Georgia as well). I resigned myself to having to drive the whole way. ugghh. The trip through Georgia was rather uneventful otherwise. South Carolina too, but we were looking forward to a stop at South of the Border. South of the Border is a uh ... well it's hard to describe. Basically it's the last exit in South Carolina (thus the name, well at least from a North Carolina perspective), and it is Mexican themed--very badly stereotyped, and rather racist. Pedro is the Mickey Mouse equivalent, and he's quite the beaner. They have restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, and Pedroland. Of course there are bad tourist trap style souvenir stands, gas stations, and stands. What was new and quite foreign to all of us was these big empty buildings with signs that said "Adult Video Games".

?!?!?!?! Adult Video Games? Interesting--bizarre, yet interesting. First off we wanted to know what exactly an adult video game is--our imaginations wandered. Secondly, why was such a brilliant idea so popular to create such vast establishments, yet so mysterious to us? Also, why were they all closed? We were rather perplexed, yet too shy to ask. We had to drive on--confused, tired, and wearily looking ahead to North Carolina and Virgina yet to go.

We eventually got to DC and the lovely campus of George Washington University, which really wasn't that lovely. The tourney was a disaster for me, as I was basically a wreck from having to drive the whole way without rest, and owing to the fact it was a masters tournament, it was rather dry and free of the usual chaos and unpredictability (and endless supply of Krispy Kreme and Surge) of regular tourneys. It was summer, so campus was dead, and I don't remember much else.

We hung out with Stacia, went to Georgetown (shamefully commericalized these days) and washed down a few margaritas. We waxed nostalgic about the good ole days before crashing. We headed home the next day, with some relief while Jeff drove. Thank god for that, as that 626 was the biggest piece of shit I ever drove. It would bounce the opposite direction of any pothole or bump. We figured out what the adult video games were--video poker, which was just banned, thus the closed establishments. Not as exciting as I imagined.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sometimes Good Friends can be Rather Shitty

Once upon a time, in a city far far away, I was going with my then girlfriend to see a play at the Hippodrome, which is a quaint old post office that's been converted into an rather intimate theater, where odd, often sexually charged, often rather gay, plays are performed. We decided to bring our naive, homophobic (and here the term applies quite literally), and rather closed minded friend Kevin with us. Now, I'm not trying to paint him as a bad person, rather one who grew up in about as sheltered and closed minded upbringing as possible. Anyway, we were going to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Since this was well before the movie hit the silver screen, he likely had no idea what he was in for, but that was kinda the point, as otherwise he wouldn't come with us. Being a very small theater, we were right up at the foot of the stage, and everything was very close to us. Through the course of the play, you could see that poor Kevin was physically uncomfortable, and with no more notice than this, he just got up and left when the titular character gave a lap dance to someone nearby (I almost can picture it happening to him, but I'm pretty sure it was just someone nearby). After the remainder of the show, we left, expecting to see Kevin sitting on the steps in front of the theater, at the nearby coffee shop, or maybe in the lobby. No such luck. He fucking left, and he was our ride! We ended up walking home, which if you've lived in Gainesville, you know that the area near the Hippodrome can become ghetto rather quickly. We made it OK, but it still really sucked. I guess he wasn't ready for something new.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

An Odd Sorta Deja Vu

Last Friday, Liz and I were at the theater to watch the Illusionist, and prior to seeing the movie and after the barrage of ads, there were a few previews. When one of the previews began to air, an odd feeling came over me and many others in the theater. One that you usually don't experience, and quite frankly is hard to describe, it's the hey, isn't this preview for the movie we're gonna see? Liz and I even had to ask each other if we were in the right theater. The preview was for the The Prestige, another film based on illusionists in a bygone era. It's not unusual for similar films to come out around the same time, though often studios try to prevent such things, such as the delayed release of First Daughter owing to its similarities to Chasing Liberty. Both bombed. Other times a movie is rewritten (allegedly Die Hard 3 had to be rewriten as it was to be like Under Siege) or simply cancelled (the Baz Luhrmann Alexander the Great film). Then, you have movies that are simply remakes (usually a foreign film was the original), such as La Femme Nikita becoming Point of No Return, Ju-on becoming The Grudge or Insomnia becoming Insomnia. Lastly, you have different versions of the same film, such as the two prequels of the Exorcist--Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist and Exorcist: The Beginning. Anyway, it was an odd feeling, and I ended up enjoying The Illusionist, and I'm looking forward to The Prestige.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Canine George Washington Carver

This morning Liz and I watched our cute not-so-little puppy discover the wonder of peanuts, and the fella was like a canine George Washington Carver. At first he carefully picked up the nut, managing to neither swallow nor destroy the nut, while likely enjoying the yummy saltiness of the shell. After carrying it to closer to us, he began to analyze it through sniffing and further attempts to taste it. Then he looked at it some more and began to gently chew upon it until it opened. Now that it was opened up, he sniffed it some more and enjoyed the peanut inside. We were very impressed with our smart puppy, though he did prove a little less than selective in the end, as he eventually ate the shell as well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

My Trip to The Renaissance Festival

Yesterday, I ventured to the Ohio Renaissance Festival, which was a first for me. It wasn't my first time at such events, rather the first for this particular one; nevertheless I had a good time. As a connoisseur of people watching, I couldn't pass up the event, as there really is nothing quite as interesting as dorks in their own element, or more specifically dorks in their carefully crafted non-existent element. You see dorks, which I might as well come out and admit my own dorkdum, are quite adept at augmenting the otherwise dull and uninviting real world with supplemental fantasy elements, which can overwhelm reality. Sometimes these alternate realities converge at an event such as this (comic book conventions, Rocky Horror nights, and goth clubs represent similar opportunities). Anyway, I knew I'd see awkward looking folks, those too pale, to androgynous, or unkempt for the real world, and they were there, as were dudes with long ratty hair, chicks with lots of cleavage, would-be pirates, gypsies, wenches, maidens, knights, fairies, berserkers, bizarre evil looking types, etc... All in all, a cornucopia of different people. The highlight was listening to a tarot reader mentioning the spiritual advisor pot-luck she recently attended. I could imagine a shaman holding a crock pot with Swedish meatballs asking a palm reader if she brought her famous deviled eggs, while in the background a a medium discusses a particularly difficult séance while dipping chips in a hollowed out crystal ball filled with dip brought in by a psychic who nods along with the conversation. Speaking of food, the food was good there too. I had a good time and would recommend it for most folks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The wait is finally over--yet I feel cheated more than relieved

In 1977 George Lucas release Star Wars, a wonderful piece of filmmaking filled with then breathtaking special effects, original characters, an interesting setting, and just the right amount of fantasy to get you out of your day to day life for a few hours (some people have left the real world for years due to this movie, but it's likely due to their psychosis). The camera work was solid, the cinematography was quite good, and while the acting was lacking, it didn't really matter, as the characters (save for whiney bitchy loser Luke) were so cool. Darth Vader and Chewbacca were the best thing to happen for tall people since ... uh, me. Anyway, it really was something that was treasured by fans then and still is today. 1980 brought The Empire Strikes Back, a solid film in its own right, and perhaps one of the best sequels ever made. More great characters (Lando, Yoda, and Boba Fett) added to the saga, and Luke even became a little less bitchy (just a little, as if I were Yoda, I would have bitch slapped him a few times). 1983 brought Return of the Jedi, not all that great, but after the first two movies, fans were so wrapped up in it all that it didn't really matter. It was the icing on top of some damn fine cake. That was that, and things were great for Star Wars fans (as long as you forgot about The Star Wars Holiday Special).

Sure at the time people were clamoring for more (at the time episodes 7,8, and 9 were the focus of interest), but George Lucas had moved on to such great masterpieces as Howard the Duck (I can't make this shit up). So after the genius that was Howard the Duck, folks should have cut George off (like some Karaoke singer thumbing through the Neil Diamond section of the song book), but he decided to piss all over his masterpiece in 1997. At first it sounded promising. The film was to be digitally restored and some of the effects were to be updated. Really updating the effects was unnecessary, as while they were dated, they did the job, and there was a classical elegance to the old school models (imagine Michelangelo recreating David today out of silicone, and what you'd get is a giant gay sex doll). Anyway, the redone effects were OK, painful but OK. Where things got really ugly were reshot scenes and edited story lines. Yes I'm talking about Greedo shooting first! Han Solo is a scoundrel, a space pirate, and among many things, a man who looks out for himself first. That's why boys thought he was cool and gals thought he was hot. He was the anti Luke (anyone with nuts would do in that role though), and he helped make the movie. Han wasn't afraid to find his own solutions, which involved killing Greedo before he did the same to him (after all, who would comb Chewbacca or trim his nails). The Jaba shit was lame too. It all was a drunken mess, and what makes it worse than Godfather III or Episode I was that it ruined something that already was good. Fortunately Empire Strikes back only got minor edits, mostly on backdrops and such, and I really could care less for Return of the Jedi, unless George had Darth ask the Emperor to step down or something less ballsy than just heaving him down one of those always handy never ending corridors. I must say that lame ass song and dance number at Jabas is why fast forward was invented though.

It got worse in 2004, as George finally got off his ass and released Star Wars on DVD (he was all over Laserdisc in the 80s), and all that was released was the Special Edition BS. He even tinkered with it some more (Greedo and Han pulled triggers at the same time, but Greedo still shot first), and the schleps we are, we all went out and bought it. Now after a couple years of living with that (not to mention the horrors of Jar Jar), we have a new DVD release this week. Could it be true, the original Star Wars? Well, yes and no. Yes the original uncut Star Wars is coming out, but no (hell no) the bastardized Special Edition is coming out with it as well. See you have to buy the movies separately, and each film comes with both versions (who the hell doesn't already have the Special Edition DVD?). So you're paying for a movie you never wanted in the first place and you already own just so you can get the one movie you always wanted. Wait, it gets better. They're just copying the laser disc release from the 80s to DVD, and there is a reason no one uses laser discs, and that’s because the quality never was that good. So rather than using the digitally restored original film (despite the mess that the Special Editions were, they were pretty, and most of them was the original film), they will be using shit left in the vault for 20 years to rot. Why? Well George doesn't give a fuck, or rather he does, and what he cares about is his Special Edition. He's gonna take his podracer, go home, and pout. As a result no restored film, and also coincidentally, no significant amount of advertising or buzz in general. Granted most people are Star Warsed out, but still, it's eerily quiet. No one wants to piss off George. Well, I'll pass on buying the DVDs.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The world is going to hell

Flanagan's, a place that fancies itself as a cool hangout with a bar, decent food, and social activities ranging from mediocre cover bands to 'beach' (who are we kidding--we're in OHIO!) volleyball, now is advertising it's latest contribution to the masses of central Ohio--Cornhole Leagues! WTF!!! I cannot believe this shit. I never understood why people in the Midwest feel the need to play this lame game (at least the trendy popularity of Sodoku or poker involve a bit of aptitude and mental activity), and it baffles me that it continues to remain popular. I still see $60-80 cornhole kits which consist of two painted boards with holes in them and a bean bag. What a ripoff, but then again white trash has never been known for fiscal responsibility. I shouldn't be too surprised at Flanagan's, as it is the same place that goes all out with it's Irish heritage on St Patties Day, more so with its Mexican heritage on Cinco de Mayo, and doubtlessly will jump on the Bastille Day bandwagon.

It's that time in a relationship

There comes a time in a relationship when you introduce your significant other to your synagogue, temple, Tabernacle, church, or cult, and well that time is upon us. I started dating the wonderful gal back in April, and up until now she hasn't had the pleasure of witnessing my calling. This Saturday she'll have a chance to be indoctrinated among my peers for an evening of Gator football. Thankfully I won't have to actually convert (no undoing Buckeye brainwashing) her, as she's pretty much in a virgin state when it comes to football. I even had to point out that John Madden was an alum of her not so known for football school. I'm not looking for much, just acceptance. Hopefully all goes well.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My pets

I have three guinea pigs and a bunny, who liven up my living room and kept me from getting too bored or lonely, but I spend most of my time with my two cats and the recently added two dogs. I can describe these four free-rangers each in one word:


What does that say about my pets? What does that say about me? Who has a neurotic dog? Can a dog be evil? What kind of lead paint did my poor kitty encounter before he came under my care? Am I shallow for describing my cat simply as pretty?

Friday, September 01, 2006

From the best city to land of the fat drunk

When I first moved to Gainesville in 1995, Money Magazine proclaimed it the best place in America to live (a small boost from Jacksonville, which it ranked #3). It didn't seem all that special, but hey, it wasn't Detroit, and I liked it. Over the years one thing led to another, and now I'm in Lovely Columbus. When I arrived here it was declared the 5th fattest city in America (and from the looks of it people here take the competition seriously). Now I read that it's the 5th drunkest city (I see a lot of overlap, especially with big fat Buckeye fans). I don't know what this all means, but I suppose if I had more civic pride I should be stuffing my face and drinking like a fish.