Posted on Monday, August 1st, 2005
Though my entire weekend has been consumed with solving other people's web site problems, I did have time to prep Blogography for the big switch to Movable Type 3.2 once it is out of beta.
The "Sliding Doors" method of creating menu tabs works flawlessly and looks beautiful. I guess I should have expected as much from the brilliant mind behind Stopdesign. I also made a few other cosmetic changes, including finally giving an explanation to anybody trying to leave profanity in a comment. Now I need to figure out how to write XML Syndication templates in Atom 1.0 format (or wait for somebody else to work on it) so I can trash my RSS feeds (at last).
The good news is that everything seems to work properly in Firefox Windows and Internet Explorer (version 5.5 and up... though it mostly works with 5.0 as well). Of course, it looks fabulous on Mac Safari because the typefaces are rendered properly. Why in the heck doesn't Windows know how to display type so it looks decent? Oh well, there's always hope that "Vista" will be an improvement. I'll be right over here holding my breath.
Now it's time to read the new MT template documentation. Bleh.
Since I totally think pirates are the coolest thing ever... right up there with ninjas... I have been anxiously awaiting the amazing game Sid Meier's Pirates to be released for the Macintosh. Unfortunately, I am still waiting. The good news is that it was released for Xbox on the 12th. The bad news is that a half-month has passed and the cheapest price is still forty bucks! I'd go ahead and buy it, but I don't have much time for video games and don't want to waste the money (heck, I still haven't finished Xbox Lego Star Wars). Maybe in a few weeks I can pick it up for thirty and be okay with that...
Bah! I am so weak. I just know I am going to cave and end up ordering it. I MEAN, COME ON!! LOOK AT IT!! IT'S PIRATES!!! Arrrrgh!
In television news, I am quite pleased that Six Feet Under didn't wimp out. I had bet myself big money as to how the episode would end, and now I owe myself $100 because I won. Errr... and lost. How does that work? Entourage was brilliant as always, and I am very curious to see where they go with the whole "Aquaman" thing. Leave it to HBO to save Sunday night television.
Posted on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005
I really needed a good night's sleep so I could be fully functional this morning. So last night I did something I rarely do: take a couple of sleeping pills. Unfortunately, a pack of barking dogs decided to set up shop under my window at 2am, so my slumber was rudely interrupted. I did manage to get back to sleep, but now I feel like a zombie... sluggish and unable to concentrate.
I don't usually start into the Coke with Lime until much later, but I am hopeful that drinking a couple of caffeine-laden cans at 7am will sufficiently drive the sleeping drugs from my system. Until then, I thought that I would wander around the internet for a while and see what's new.
Still in a narcoleptic state, I read the news that Apple has FINALLY released a two-button mouse. Needless to say, I thought I must be delusional. Especially when I see that they have named it "Mighty Mouse." But, alas, it's real...
Sure it still looks like a one-button mouse but, you know Apple, they can't ever do things the easy way... they had to go and use touch-sensors instead of unsightly buttons. On top of that, they decided to one-up the scroll wheel with a "360° scroll ball" and add couple of squeezable sensors on the sides as well. Sounds nifty-keen.
Of course, I simply had to have one, so there goes $50 I probably didn't need to be spending. Such is the price for being an Apple whore.
Posted on Wednesday, August 3rd, 2005
Target! My favorite chain store is Target. When forced to shop in person (=shudder=), I will always check Target first, because it is the least offensive option available. But their latest round of "back to school" commercials featuring young kids bouncing around to Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back is just wrong. I don't care if they change the lyrics, all I hear is "I like big butts and I can not lie..." while little girls are prancing on the screen. It just feels dirty somehow. Scary, scary stuff.
Arrrgh! Told you I would cave. I managed to win a copy of Sid Meier's Pirates Xbox on eBay for just $30 + $5 shipping. That's $5 more than I wanted to pay, but more tolerable than the $45 I'd have to pay new. I. Can't. Wait.
Rockstar! I loathe American Idol and most other reality-type shows on television... but the new Rock Star: INXS is an exception. Mainly because unlike Idol where everybody sucks ass... the performers on INXS are actually pretty good. Right now, the person who should win is Jordis, who totally killed last night. But reality tells me it will probably be J.D. or Mig. Regardless of who ends up with the job, some of these people have a real shot in the biz.
Charity! I am a soft-touch for lending a hand to local causes. I'm happy to design a logo or make a brochure or draw up a banner if I can spare the time (and the cause is one I support). A while back I designed a logo for a worthy organization and sent it in. Turns out everybody loved it except one woman... who thought it was satanic because I had used a tiger giving the "a-okay" hand-sign in it. She complained that animals in the form of humans are a perversion, and tools of the devil. Yes, you read that right... according to this whack-job, all those characters from Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse to Kermit the Frog and Garfield are from the devil. Still no word on whether robots are from hell as well, but I'll be sure to ask.
Dove! I was given a hand-full of little Dove Chocolates that have interesting phrases printed on the inside of the wrappers. Most of them are just happy thoughts, like "Get your feet massaged!" and "Smile before bed, you'll sleep better!" but others are quite disturbing. When I read wrappers that say "Naughty can feel nice!" and "Do what feels right!"... well, that could be just the thing to push some psycho over the edge. What if "what feels right" is to run over a group of lawyers with a lawnmower? I mean, no big loss really, but still... things like this can't be good for society.
Zero! As I've mentioned many times, I spend my days all coked up on "Coke with Lime." While picking up a couple of bottles at the mini-mart this morning, I was agog over the number of Coke varieties out there... Coke, Diet Coke, Coke C2, Coke with Splenda, Coke Zero, Coke with Lime, Diet Coke with Lime, Diet Coke with Lemon, Cherry Coke, Diet Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, Diet Vanilla Coke, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, and probably a dozen others I've forgotten (Coke with Beef Jerky? Kumquat Coke?). Pepsi has just as many. This is kind of sad, because this flooding of flavors means that niche products like "RC Cola" and "Orange Crush" don't have room on the shelf, and are disappearing from our American way of life. I suppose that's the idea, but there should be a law against this kind of monopolizing of store shelf-space. Because sometimes you just need that Orange Crush, if you know what I mean.
Trash! The nice thing about living in small-town USA is the little white-trash touches that flavor our community. Every morning as I drive to work, I pass by an Espresso stand that's directly across the street from a trailer court. It's not unusual to see people walk across the street to pick up their morning latte before sitting in front of the television all day. What IS unusual is seeing these people walking across to get their latte while still in their pajamas. This morning was classic, because I saw a woman in a bathrobe and slippers... but as she crossed in front of me, the bathrobe blew up and revealed she didn't even bother to put pants on. Even more disturbing, was that she was so focused on not spilling her latte that she didn't bother to cover herself back up. Ordinarily this would be a great way to start my day... but with this woman... eh... not so much.
Ah, there. I feel much better now that I've unloaded my morning. But the day is just starting... heaven only knows what is in store for me the rest of the day.
Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2005
Despite an occasional Davetoon here on Blogography indicating otherwise, I am about as non-violent a person as you are likely to meet. I don't even kill spiders that wander in my home, preferring instead to take them back outside (after feeding them tea and cakes, of course). The power to destroy is so easy... it's the pussy's way out, really. Those who instead choose to cherish life and find a non-violent path to follow are far stronger in my eyes. That's not to say I don't enjoy violence in my entertainment but, when it comes to the real world, violence should be a last resort, and despised as an act of desperation and weakness.
I tell you this so that you can fully understand that when I say I'd like to make MP George Galloway suck on a stick of dynamite so I could happily light the shit up and blow his f#@%ing head off... well, you'll know exactly how bad I feel about having said it...
The only surprising news here is that this time the idiot in question is not an American politician. I'd say it's a pleasant change of pace for it to be some other country's turn to be embarrassed by a politico-asswipe, but I'm trying to be diplomatic here.
As a "Member of Parliament" in the UK, you'd think that he would have even a semblance of respect for his British countrymen who were ordered to serve in the Iraqi war... but he has absolutely none. I mean, once your own government has elevated the enemy to martyrdom, it's kind of a morale killer, if you know what I mean.
I am, for the most part, not happy with the idea of war. But this has absolutely nothing to do with whether you are pro-war or anti-war... it's about supporting some brave soldiers who are in serious danger not because they love the idea of treading into a war zone and possibly getting killed... but because they are just doing their job. Right or wrong, YOU f#@%ING SUPPORT THOSE WHO ARE BRAVE ENOUGH TO FIGHT FOR YOU AND YOUR COUNTRY! Even when you disagree with the politics that guide them. I mean, this may not be the war that these guys signed up for, but they're still your home team, and kicking them from the sidelines while they're struggling to survive and you're safe at home makes you a total pussy.
As a soldier trying to stay alive, there's nothing quite like your enemy getting a pep talk from your own government to ruin your day. I shudder to think what sort of mayhem this might incite against allied troops as they try to get through this horror. I hope they know that for every totalasslickingdumbassfucktard that has no concern for their well-being, that there are legions of others who support them. Be safe. Come home soon.
Posted on Thursday, August 4th, 2005
Meanwhile, on Rock Star: INXS... In a moment of utter obviousness, Jordis was the one selected to reprise her stunning performance of The Man Who Sold the World from last night's show. I've saved it on my TiVo, and must have listened to it a dozen times now. It's as if I've never heard the song before (even though both the original Bowie version and Nirvana cover were both great). Once Jordis Unga sang it, she owned it for me.
I'd buy the song, but the only place you can get it from is the suck-ass MSN Music store. No surprise, since MSN is sponsoring the show... but still. I can only hope that either A) Somebody wakes up and decides to release the song on the worlds most popular online service, namely the iTunes Music Store. Or, B) If they don't, somebody with access to the MSN Music store will strip the lame-ass DRM from the track and put it someplace where I can get it as an MP3.
And, before the assclowns at the RIAA decide to come down on me for saying that, it's not STEALING if you won't let me BUY IT! Seriously, Mac users can't access MSN Music, so don't bust my balls with your stupid shit for having to resort to less desirable methods of obtaining the music I want.
I know this sounds horrible... but I find myself secretly hoping that Jordis DOESN'T get chosen to front INXS. After what I've seen, it's almost as if they would hold her back. I want her to go out on her own, find her own voice, and release music that she's passionate about, as opposed to singing things INXS wants her to. The idea of an entire album of music as great as The Man Who Sold the World gives me chills.
That being said, Brandon really should have been the one booted off the island. Is it just me, or does he have -zero- melody in his voice? Perhaps with further coaching, he can improve, but right now it's almost painful.
UPDATE: Well... I step away from my Mac for an hour, and no less than a dozen people are emailing me with offers to help out. I'm ever so grateful to you all. It would seem Jordis has many, many fans. Heaven only knows what she'll bring next week.
Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2005
It's probably because I'm a bit dense when trying to create documents that are "standards compliant" that I've been struggling somewhat with converting my syndication feed over to the new Atom 1.0 format. I read where other people managed it in 5 minutes, and feel like a total failure for having spent over an hour on it.
While I am not quite certain if my feed is optimal (e.g., I am confused as to the "id" tag, as different people interpret its use in different ways), it does verify as Atom 1.0 compliant. Perhaps tweaks will come later once I've seen the "official" template when Movable Type 3.2 is released. In the meanwhile, I've killed off all of my RSS variants, and have routed their URLs to the Atom feed instead. Hopefully this won't cause problems for anybody.
The next step is trying to figure out how to craft a "comments only" feed in Atom format. That will replace the "combined entries/comments" feed, since that one seems to confuse many newsreaders out there.
I remain optimistic that Atom catches on in a big way so that the "syndication wars" will finally end.
NOTE TO MAC USERS: If you are using NetNewsWire to read your syndication feeds, you'll need to upgrade to version 2.0.1 in order to view Atom 1.0 feeds. It's free to registered users. I believe that other readers (like Shrook) are also being updated.
Posted on Friday, August 5th, 2005
Oooh! As a long-time roller coaster fan, I've always wanted to play the game "Roller Coaster Tycoon" where you get to design your own roller coasters, and then run them at an amusement park. Unfortunately, it's never been available for the Macintosh. Until now (well, November, actually). From what I understand, you can view your coaster design from every conceivable angle, and see how your customers react to riding it. Make it too bland, and people will be bored and stay away. Make it too vicious, and people will get sick and throw up. Hopefully, you can also make coasters that crash and hurl people off the track, because there's a sadistic side of me that would really get off on something like that. I can't wait.
In other amusing news lighting up the blogosphere, Jacqueline Mackie Paisly Passey is looking for a "travel companion and lover" to accompany her on a world trek, beginning in Costa Rica, for up to a year. I was rather intrigued, because it's not like she's totally unattractive or anything... but then I found out I had to actually bring my own money for the trip, and that kind of killed the idea of getting me a sugar-momma real quick. If I am going to have to pay, I'm afraid it is ME who will be dictating the requirements of my "travel partner with benefits"...
Hmmm... something tells me I should stop now before I say something that will have my female readership calling for my balls (and not in the good way).
Posted on Saturday, August 6th, 2005
This has been a very odd week for Macintosh users. It started with Mac-faithful attacking their own, and ended with a mouse.
I have long enjoyed the writings of Cory Doctorow over at Boing Boing. But earlier this week he blind-sided me with a rant aimed at Apple that just didn't make much sense. It was all bizarre paranoia and speculation that had no basis on fact or historical context. I had started to write a lengthy rebuttal rant, but ultimately decided against it given that Blogography's readership is about a millionth of that of Boing Boing, and most people here wouldn't care anyway. Fortunately, John Gruber (an increasingly rational voice in the blogosphere) wrote up a better rebuttal than I ever could today over at Daring Fireball.
About the only thing I can add is that it seems unlikely Doctorow has suddenly gone crazy, and more probable that he is simply using the power of Boing Boing's popularity to threaten Apple off a course of action they may (or more likely) may not be pursuing. A dangerous road to start walking down, but since he's as big a Mac fanatic as I am, I guess he felt he had to try.
On the entire issue of Digital Rights Management, I am surprisingly neutral. Sure I wish we didn't have to live with copy protection on our music and media, but I fully realize that something has to be done to minimize theft, and it's something we just have to accept. When it is unobtrusive and allows me reasonable access to materials I have purchased... like music through the iTunes Music Store, I don't care. When it prevents me from accessing content I've legally paid for... like television shows on my TiVo which only Windows users can access, I am outright hostile (if I had wanted to be forced to use Windows shit, I would have bought a Windows Media Center PC, you TiVo dumbasses).
With this in mind, I want an Apple iMovie Video Store and Video iPod. I want an Apple-friendly Digital Video Recorder that allows me to catch up on television shows while I travel. I want them bad. Really, really bad. And if the DRM is as unobtrusive as the iTunes Music Store, and the pricing is reasonable... I won't have a problem with it. Because as our digital lifestyles becomes ever-more entwined with our computers and mobile devices, there has got to be an option for Macintosh users to have access to commercial video content past the DVD. It's the big missing piece that Microsoft is addressing that Apple is not, and failure to do so is going to hurt far more than any anti-DRM rant.
In happier Apple news, I love me the Mighty Mouse!
Well, THAT Mighty Mouse is okay, but I'm talking about the new Macintosh Mighty Mouse...
For Apple's entire existence, the concept of a two-button Mac mouse has been nothing more than a pipe dream. Apparently Steve Jobs felt that they were too complicated and too ugly for the Mac, so the Mac faithful either bought ugly 3rd-party alternatives, or made do without. I had tried a couple of two-button mice, but always went back to my Apple mouse and using the "CTRL" key to get that ever-elusive "right click."
The new Apple "Mighty Mouse" has finally addresses Steve Job's reluctance to part with the elegance and simplicity of a single-button mouse. And it does so in a very ingenious way. You see, out of the box, it acts exactly like Apple's mice have always performed... a single-button mouse that's beautiful to look at (albeit with much nicer tracking and a smoother "flow" than Apple's old Pro Mouse). BUT, for Mac users who want more, your wish has been granted.
Though whether it works out for you will depend entirely on how you are accustomed to using a mouse.
If you are like me, who holds a mouse with two fingers covering the top of it, you'll do just fine. To "right-click" you simply lift the finger on the left-side, and push down. Genius. This means that people like myself can still click the ENTIRE mouse to get a "regular-click" and only have to make a slight modification to our mousing habits to get that magical "right-click." For Mac users accustomed to Apple's one-button mouse, this is golden. However, if you are accustomed to a "real" two-button mouse, this probably isn't for you... because, in reality, a "right-click" is in fact a "no-left-click", and different than what you use now.
In addition to being able to "right-click," the Mighty Mouse also has a tiny "scroll ball" on top that allows for window scrolling and "middle clicking." Most people are referring to this new feature as "the mouse nipple" which seems about right. For the most part, I love me the nipple. It is smooth and intuitive. And though "middle-clicking" takes some getting used to, once you manage to figure it out, it's very cool (I've set mine to bring up Dashboard, which is quite handy!). But all is not perfect in nipple-world...
The last new feature is the "squeeze-click." If you squeeze the two pads on the sides of the mouse (the same "hold pads" you use to pick up the mouse while click-dragging), you get a fourth button out of the deal. This seems a brilliant idea, except I have a bit of nerve damage in my hand, and it is difficult for me to squeeze tightly enough to make it happen. For most people, this is not an issue, and being able to have a fourth unobtrusive "button" will be a good thing. Like all buttons, the "squeeze-click" is programable to do whatever you want. Anything from pulling up the App Switcher to manipulating Exposé.
As I said earlier, how much you love the new Apple Mighty Mouse will entirely depend on how you are accustomed to using a mouse now. If you already have a two or three button mouse, and are happy with it, then the faux "no-left-click" is probably not for you. Personally, I do love it. It acts exactly like the Pro Mouse I am used to now, so I don't have to re-train myself... yet has added functionality that is much appreciated. My best advice would be to go to an Apple Store and play with one for ten or fifteen minutes before buying one. If you hold a mouse like me, and use a mouse like I do, you won't be able to go back to Apple's old mouse again.
Posted on Sunday, August 7th, 2005
I am becoming more and more convinced that the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica is not only one of the best science-fiction epics ever created, but perhaps once of the best TV shows ever. It's a bizarre hybrid of smart sci-fi and character-driven drama that lapses into absurd moments of current-day-earth reality at a moment's notice. This is both exciting and frustrating at the same time, but it's hard to argue with the results.
Until the new television season starts, it's the best show you're probably not watching.
In some respects, it's a voyeuristic guilty pleasure because so many of the characters are deeply flawed. Watching them fumble through their trials is fascinating entertainment which is filled with never-ending surprises. I don't think I am alone in feeling just a little bit dirty for having pried into their lives.
Where the show stumbles is in its failure to maintain a consistent "world" in which these characters can exist. Vehicles on other planets are just every-day earth cars, complete with license plates. Characters have nick-names like "hot dog" where hot dogs don't exist. Everyday US English idioms are commonplace, even though these people have never been to earth. Sure it helps the average viewer relate better to the show, but it's poor science fiction that is otherwise so brilliant in execution. On top of all that, soldiers aboard the Galactica are killed off at alarming rate, making you wonder when they're going to run out. How many can there be?
On the other hand, the acting, stories, and special effects are shockingly good... more than making up for any shortcomings. If that weren't enough, Cylons are bad-ass (or, in the case of Number Six and Boomer, bad-ass sexy!).
And now, from the opposite end of the sexy spectrum, comes the Dell XPS laptop. I keep seeing commercials where some idiot in a coffee shop sees another guy using the XPS and keeps trying to touch it because he thinks that it's so cool and sexy. This is baffling because, to me at least, the "XPS" must stand for "eXcruciatingly ugly Piece of Shit"! Just look at it!
You know when you go to the luggage store how there are three kinds of luggage you can buy? First there's the really amazing-looking expensive stuff that you can't afford. Then there's the average-priced nice-looking stuff that you settle for. And finally there's the cheap-ass-looking crap that you'd be embarrassed to be seen with? Well, Dell went for the cheap-ass embarrassing luggage look here, and not even the MacOS-inspired background on the desktop can save it.
The aluminum shed siding alone is hysterical, but the retro-futuristic lettering and clutzy duo-tone color scheme just pushes it way over the top. It looks like something a redneck would put out on the porch along with the refrigerator and a recliner! As if using Windows wasn't painful enough, Dell expects you to lug this pile of crap around with you? Jonathan Ive must be laughing his ass off thinking "THIS is my competition?!?".
But I'm just a Mac snob, so what do I know. Perhaps this is what the kids are considering "cool" now-a-days.
(If that's really true, I weep for the future)
Posted on Monday, August 8th, 2005
Well then... I finally had a spare moment while watching the latest episodes of Six Feet Under and Entourage to create an Atom 1.0 syndication feed for comments here. And (woohoo!) it validates. This means that the last vestiges of skanky old RSS code have been purged from Blogography. Time to HARNESS THE POWER OF THE ATOM! For those of you who don't have an Atom 1.0 compliant feed reader, I apologize, but updates are coming fast and furious so your reader of choice should be upgraded soon.
So, for anybody who prefers to get their daily dose of "me" via syndication, there's only two XML feeds now:
That way, you can keep current without ever having to visit the beautiful web site that I worked so hard to make for you... slaving over code and graphics day and night. But don't feel bad for me. Whatever makes you happy is just great. Don't feel you have to come visit the site because I might feel bad... oh no, I'll be just fine. Here all alone. With nobody coming to visit...
= ahem =
For anybody who doesn't know what "syndication feeds" are, here's the scoop. For those of you who have no desire to use a syndication feed, forget I mentioned it.
Now, before I go, is it just me or is hot in here? If I wanted to fill the bathtub with a few inches of cool water and sleep in it... would there be any health risk? Can one die from wrinkly fingers? Perhaps I should ask the government for a few million dollars in research grants to get this all sorted out. They've certainly funded stupider ideas than this.
Posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
Why why why WHY? Why are people so stupid. Why are things so messed up? Why is the world such a freaky place? WHY?
WHY does Sears bother? I placed an order at Sears, and was told that the item was available for in-store pick-up. This saves me shipping charges, and I was going into Wenatchee tomorrow anyway, so I said fine. Now I receive and email telling me that the item isn't available at the Wenatchee Sears, and my order was cancelled. WTF? This sucks ass. Why bother to offer in-store pick-up if your inventory system is so f#@%ed up that you tell people that stuff in ready at the store when it was never there in the first place? LAME!
WHY don't Americans care? I am so sick and tired of reading about new political atrocities every single day. Why don't people care? Where is the outcry? The latest is that the person in charge of contracting for the US Army Corps (my new hero, Bunnatine Greenhouse) raised questions about why the asswipes at Halliburton continue to get billions in government contracts without competitive bidding... and will probably end up getting fired for her trouble. FIRED?!? Why aren't we giving her a raise and throwing her a f#@%ING parade for DOING HER JOB?!? LAME!
WHY is Alaska Airlines being picked on? The newswire is burning up with the "big news" that Alaska Airlines has the worst record in the industry for on-time flights... this past June, a full HALF of their flights were late. But singling Alaska Air out is ludicrous because ALL AIRLINES SUCK. Alaska is no worse than any other airline out there, it's just that they are not as good at padding their flight schedules. All airlines add extra flight time so, when they are late out of the gate, they can hand you some bullshit about "making up time in the air" which is, of course, CRAP. Helpful hint to Alaska Airlines: add an additional 15 minutes to your flight times, then sit back and watch your "on-time percentages" skyrocket! LAME!
WHY are stupid people so content to remain stupid? After Peter Jennings (one of the few newscasters I actually like) had died, ABC aired a retrospect of his career. While reading blogs last night, I ran across someone bitching that the program was aired over the ending to the stupid-ass "Extreme House Makeover" reality show. Their day was RUINED because they didn't get to see the rest of this piece of television crap. Unf#@%ing believable. At first I dismissed them because they've always been kind of a flake, but then I read it on ANOTHER blog, and gave up. Peter Jennings was the voice of ABC television news for DECADES. Compared to that, who gives a fig about a house makeover? Sure I don't like it when shows I enjoy are interrupted but, COME ON! Decorating a house? Why is it that these people don't want to know what's happening in the world? LAME!
WHY do people keep employing Dennis Miller? At least it's only commercials now. He's not funny... LAME!
WHY is prostitution illegal? People have sex all the time for no reason other than entertainment. If a woman likes sex, and is good at it, why shouldn't she get paid for it? Given the shitty state of today's job market, it seems that a renewable resource like this is too important to overlook. LAME!
WHY does DirecTV's satellite keep going out? Every time it happens, I have to spend 20 minutes re-programming my channels. Why don't they save this information to my DVR so I am saved the aggravation? LAME!
WHY is Jeremy Piven's Cupid not available on DVD? He's up for an Emmy, you'd think whoever the assclown is that's in charge of the video rights would take advantage of it. LAME!
WHY are those...
Argh. I'm tired of asking why. I just get madder with each new question. I wonder why?
Posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
Ever since I put the Artificial Duck Store "advertisement" on my blog sidebar, my T-shirt sales have asploded. I credit this to the fact that Elizabeth Hurley is in the photo. Can you imagine what would happen if I actually had photos of her WEARING one of my shirts for advertising? I wonder how I go about getting Liz to model a Bad Monkey T-Shirt on the cover of Cosmo? Then everybody would want one!
Anyway, this is both good news and bad news.
It's GOOD news because I might eventually be able to break even from all the shirts I've given away for free. It started with the 32 I passed out for my Blogiversary2 celebration... and I still like to send them out as gifts for people who do me favors and such. You can call me weak, but when a firefighter writes to order another shirt because his got "damaged at work" well, I can't really charge for that can I? (I gave him two more and asked that he be careful out there, as Washington State is once again besieged with wildfires). It's not like I am wanting to make money here (otherwise I'd charge more), but it would be nice to have a balance so I am not losing money. Maybe when I release a few more designs (planned for mid-October now), I'll have it all figured out.
The BAD news is that fulfilling all these new orders is difficult...
But there IS good news from the post office today. My new stamps have arrived from "stamps.com", and they're sweet!! Well worth the pricey cost of admission...
I don't use stamps very often, except to send postcards, so I was happy to know that I could get postcard stamps customized. I am most pleased.
The stamps arriving was a nice thing to have happen on a day when I received a hate-mail so vile, so utterly horrible and racist, that I very nearly broke down. Not because I got yet another hate-mail (like I care), but because people like this actually exist in this world. I outright pity those whose entire existence is so superficial that how a person looks is grounds for such blind hatred. I just don't understand it. Furthermore, I am thankful I don't understand it... I don't want to.
Posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2005
Here's another boring entry on web site syndication. Forgive me. I actually wrote this earlier today and decided not to post it (choosing to show pictures of my new postage stamps instead). But then other people started jumping in, so I thought I might as well too. I've put it in an extended entry so that those of you who don't care about "RSS" and "Atom" and "XML" and "Web Site Syndication" can skip it.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Wednesday, August 10th, 2005
When I work at home, I always like to have some background noise going to mask any audible distractions that might be lurking about. Sometimes it's my iPod, but mostly it's television. Tonight I had an episode of Veronica Mars running off my Tivo, and it suddenly occurred to me that I am a huge fan of the actor Enrico Colantoni.
I first remember him on the short-lived television show Hope & Gloria, but it was his role as womanizing photographer Elliot DiMauro on Just Shoot Me where he really started getting attention. I then remember him as an evil priest in Stigmata, the hilarious alien commander Mathesar in Galaxy Quest, a freaky murderer who frames a robotic Jude Law in AI: Artificial Intelligence and, of course, Veronica's dad on Veronica Mars...
I guess it's because of the effortless way that Colantoni seems to meld into the roles he plays that makes me enjoy his work. It would be so easy to overplay the character of Keith Mars, yet he is the model of subtlety, and turns in a performance that is stronger because of it. Hopefully we'll have a few more years of Veronica Mars to see where it takes him.
Then, before I knew it, Rock Star: INXS was on, and Brandon Calhoon was voted off the island. Sadly, it's only prolonging the inevitable for Suzie and Jessica. But oh well, the longer they drag it out, the more we get to see of hottie Brook Burke, so it's all good. I can only hope that we get a repeat performance of last night's metal micro-skirt, though she seems to look sweet in anything she puts on...
Looking back, today was not the best day for me. I was looking forward to a mural I was asked to paint come September. Unfortunately, my work-load is such that taking off a week to do it just isn't possible, so I had to call and cancel out. It would have been cool to blog my progress through the project, so I'm kind of bummed about it.
But the worst part is that it was an opportunity to create physical art again. Since everything I do is on the computer now-a-days, sometimes it's nice to get back to basics and actually paint something real. Maybe I'll have to pull out my watercolors once I'm caught up and see if I remember how to use them.
There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. If everything goes as planned, tomorrow I'll be eating the Best Pizza in the Universe for dinner. Gotta love that.
Posted on Thursday, August 11th, 2005
As I came off the bridge and rounded the corner, I saw a girl pulled over by an undercover policeman. She was crying her head off as the officer wrote her up, which I found funny for some reason. What a bastard I am. Thirty minutes later, as I drove back home to pick up my luggage, the policeman was long gone, but the girl was still sitting in her car there, red-faced and crying. I'm assuming that it was just a speeding ticket, which begs the question: if getting a ticket is going to cause you to sob uncontrollably for a half-hour, then why exceed the speed limit? Why risk it? Seems pretty stupid to me.
The three hour drive to Spokane (pronounced Spoh-can) was uneventful. It's always uneventful because there's nothing very interesting between Cashmere and Spokane. Just scrub brush, fields of wheat, and wide-open spaces. The speed limit is 70mph, but should be 100mph, because there's nothing to hit along the way.
When I finally get to Spokane, I do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not check into my hotel, do not even stop for the bathroom... I drive directly to David's Pizza, which makes the 3-hour drive actually worth the trouble...
Unfortunately, they only had one slice of Da Vinci pizza left, so I had to get a slice of cheese to go with it. And, of course, a bottle of Stewart's Orange n' Cream soda...
For those who are curious, the Da Vinci has Mozzerella and Feta cheeses, with basil pesto sauce and fresh tomatoes. I haven't confirmed it yet, but I'm pretty sure they sprinkle crack cocaine on there as well. It would explain my addiction to the stuff.
But telling you what's ON it doesn't fully explain how it TASTES. Which is amazing. I've been around the world a dozen times, eaten a lot of pizza over the years, and a slice of Da Vinci is the best it can get. Each bite is like that feeling you get when a nice tequila buzz just starts to set in... that kind of deliriously happy high you get when your mind starts to float away, but you're not quite drunk yet.
Followed by three orgasms and a full-body massage.
Yeah, it's pretty good stuff. If you're ever in Spokane, you'd be pretty darn stupid not to drop by the corner of Hamilton and Boone to have a slice. I'll be eating there again for lunch and dinner tomorrow, and would probably go back for breakfast if they were open that early.
Posted on Friday, August 12th, 2005
In-between jobs in Spokane today, I decided to drop by "The Comic Book Shop" to see if I could track down a book I've been trying to find for quite a while now. I drive down Division St., arrive at Sharp Avenue, and realize I must have missed it. So I turn around and drive down Division again... still not finding it. Thinking that I must have somehow forgotten where it is, I turn around and pull over. I have a photo of The Comic Book Shop on my PowerBook, so I figure there might be a clue as to the location. Using the photo, I'm able to find the building, which is now a National Guard Recruitment Center, complete with Army jeep out front...
A pity they painted over the Batman emblem... they might have better luck getting people to join up. Who wouldn't want to fight crime with Batman?
Anyway, I go back to my hotel and grabbed a phone book to see where it had moved to. But the phone book still lists it on Division, so I thought it was probably an old book. On the verge of losing my mind, I call The Comic Book Shop to find out what in the heck was going on... only to learn that they moved from 1402 Division to 1401 Division... DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET!! And sure enough, there they were. Sitting there with a big "ZAP!" and "POW!" painted on the side of the building in bright colors.
I was so focused on where I thought it was that I didn't see where it actually was, even though it was staring me right in the face. I even got out of my car to take a picture, stood right in front of it, and didn't see it. I feel more than a little stupid about that.
To top it all off, they didn't have the book I was looking for.
But all was not lost. A quick trip to David's Pizza for lunch revealed that they actually had two slices of Da Vinci Pizza waiting for me. Now THIS is what the perfect meal is supposed to look like...
Oh yeah, and for those who were curious, I think the restaurant was built in an old gas station, then they bought the building next door and expanded into it. When I examine the concrete in front, I see an outline of where the gas pump "island" used to be. That's their "Pizza Emergency Response Team" fire truck out front...
Don't worry, I'll be returning for dinner tonight. It's not like I really have a choice in the matter.
Posted on Friday, August 12th, 2005
Very few things can upset me more than a dumbass driver. People who are too stupid to be driving have no business being on the road in the first place... all they do is cause problems for the rest of us. I keep thinking that there aught to be a government study set up to determine just how many traffic accidents are caused by dumbasses. Something tells me that the percentage is quite high and, if dumbasses were banned from driving, it would be much safer out there.
Take for instance this lovely situation, which seems to happen every time I head up Division Street so I can turn onto North Foothills Road...
The right-hand lane becomes a "RIGHT TURN ONLY" lane as you approach North Foothills. There is plenty of warning, as there are signs before you get there. Yet it seems every single time, there is one dumbass who either attempts to zoom ahead and use it as a passing lane... or doesn't bother paying attention. He then ends up blocking the lane as he attempts to merge left. And since most people in that lane are rightfully pissed at the idiot for being so f#@%ing stupid, they don't want to let him in.
So he sits there and sits there and sits there, even after the light turns green.
Meanwhile, I am going thermo-nuclear behind him and thinking "die die die die die die die die die die!!"
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD YOU STUPID PIECE OF SHIT... BE A MAN AND TAKE THE f#@%ING RIGHT-TURN!! THEN PULL A U-TURN OR GO AROUND THE BLOCK AND GET IN THE PROPER LANE... DUMBASS!!!
But oh no... the monkey-spanker doesn't care that he's making me wait... he doesn't care! The entire world revolves around him, so who cares if somebody has to wait on his stupid ass?
I need rocket launchers in my car like James Bond has. Any chance those might become legal in the near-future? Then these morons might think twice before pulling this crap, knowing full well they might get a missile up their tail-pipe.
Life should be more like video games sometimes.
Posted on Friday, August 12th, 2005
Wow. I'm back at the hotel watching the news and have just learned that there's a dust storm so severe across central Washington that they've actually closed I-90 between Ritzville and Moses Lake. They're reporting that there's been several accidents due to high winds and zero visibility. The photos they're showing are quite shocking. It started as a brown cloud on the horizon then, within minutes, everything was enveloped and was plunged into darkness... the sun was blotted out of the sky.
This is really bizarre, because the storm is exactly half-way between Spokane and my home in Cashmere, Had I left at 6:00 as I originally planned, I would have been caught right in the middle of it. I guess that I should be thankful I had to stick around and get some work taken care of?
Today must be a day for strange weather (perhaps caused by the raging wildfires to the south)... after being scorching-hot yesterday and this morning, Spokane had a short spell of torrential rains that had storm warnings in effect for a few hours. Maybe the world is about to end and I didn't get the memo? Hopefully the sand storm will have blown over (heh heh) and the highway will be re-opened in the morning.
Posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2005
At what point did people start to lose all respect for their fellow human beings? For the past fifteen years of travel, I have never been so badly bothered by by my neighbors in a hotel that I've had to switch rooms. This year I've had to do it twice, and we're only half-way through.
On Thursday night, the room below me was having a party which kept me up until 2:00am. Then last night, the room next to mine woke me up at 1:00am because the occupants were out on the balcony screaming at the top of their lungs. One night of sleep I can miss. But two in a row when I have a three-hour drive ahead of me just cannot happen. I had to pack up my stuff and go beg to change rooms which, thankfully, they agreed to do.
I just don't get it.
I've gone out drinking and and partying with my friends too many times to count. But you know what? We always save our wild behavior for when we're in an appropriate place... like in a club, or (duh!) at a party. We've never gone back to a hotel room and started screaming our lungs out at 1:00am! It never even occurred to us to do something so horribly bad-mannered.
My how times have changed.
If I am paying $130 a night for a place to sleep, I shouldn't have to put up with this kind of shit. I should be legally allowed to pull out a gun, break down the door, and shoot the idiots in their f#@%ing heads... then have nothing more than a cleaning bill to answer for. Assholes like this who have absolutely no concern for anybody else deserve nothing more. There's just no reason to have them around when all they do is make other people miserable.
And why don't hotels do something about it? Why not have guests sign a "no-noise agreement?" Why not install noise sensors that can automatically detect prolonged excessive audio and then kick their stupid asses out if it goes off? Why not install doors that have hydraulic pulls so that they can't be slammed? I'd gladly pay extra money for hotels that guaranteed a noise-free environment so I could actually do what I go there to do... SLEEP!
As it is now, the moronic public at large is ruining what used to be fun things. You can't go to a hotel without people being noisy and ruining your slumber. You can't go to a movie theater without people being noisy and ruining the show. You can't go to a restaurant without people being noisy and ruining your dinner. Sometimes it's by obnoxious drunken behavior. Sometimes it's because of a mobile phone. Most times it's because people are just stupid.
All I know is that the problem is getting worse with each passing day. Every single day society doesn't care a little bit more. Every single day respect and common decency break down a little bit further. Every single day I come closer to going insane over it all.
We've already got people shooting up cars because the alarm keeps going off in the middle of the night. How long before it's PEOPLE who get shot up for going off in the middle of the night?
Oh... one last thing... am I the only one who wants to put their foot through the television when a commercial comes on where some idiot is crunching on their stupid-ass breakfast cereal? I don't want to listen to that shit in my real life... why in the f#@% do these dumbass advertising people think I want to listen to it while being entertained? I love Grape-Nuts cereal, but every time that annoying commercial comes on with that guy loudly chewing the shit, it makes me never want to buy a box of the crap ever again. Isn't that the exact OPPOSITE of what a television commercial is supposed to do?
Posted on Sunday, August 14th, 2005
Roast: I'm in the middle of watching the Pamela Anderson Roast on Comedy Central. She went bra-less in a sheer black top, which is probably a good thing because her enormous breasts helped to distract people from Courtney Love going crazy beside her. I can never tell if that crazy bitch has had too many drugs or not enough. UPDATE: Courtney has just taken the stage. Since she claims to have been sober for a year now, I'm guessing that the answer is "not enough drugs." Quick, somebody get her a crack pipe before she tears up the joint!
Genital: I'm not a real censorship kind of guy, but should you really be allowed to say the words "genital herpes" on television commercials? Even if I had herpes, this is not something I would want to self-medicate for (though I would like to be able to choose who is applying the medication).
Walken 2008: He's got my vote! It's time for more cowbell in the White House.
Syndicate: After my rant endorsing "web feeds," I received an email telling me that "RSS is a cornerstone of Web 2.0" and people like me are "holding back progress of the new internet." I actually had to Google "Web 2.0" to figure out what in the f#@% he was talking about. I have since decided that he's full of crap, and anybody using the term "Web 2.0" is trying to sell you tickets to an internet marketing seminar. Tool.
Noise: When I wrote my previous post asking how long it would be before people started firing away at noisy people since they were already firing away at noisy car alarms, I didn't know that the answer would be "the next day." 2005's Marine of the Year decided to take care of some noisy people outside his home by firing a shotgun at them. My hero. Give him another medal. Perhaps if this keeps up, drunken dumbasses will think twice before interrupting somebody's sleep.
Goodnight: And speaking of sleep, it's time to take some pills and try to get some.
Posted on Monday, August 15th, 2005
This is an entry about nothing at all. This is surprising to me, because there's so much going on in my life right now. I don't know if this means I am a really bad writer, or what. All I do know is that I need more hours in the day. There's just never enough time to do all the things I need to do.
Right now I need to play my Pirates game for Xbox. But it's kind of complicated. You have to know how to sail a ship, read maps, fight a duel, and... wait for it... DANCE! Yes, part of being a pirate in this game is dancing with hottie governor's daughters so you can get information out of them. Something tells me that a true pirate would just put a rapier to her neck and threaten it out of her, but whatever.
Why did I buy a game that I knew full-well that I would never have time to play?
Probably because it has pirates in it.
I wish they made a portable Xbox, because then I could play Pirates when I start traveling again next month. Argh... that reminds me, I need to start making travel arrangements as well. I think that I've been putting it off because some of my trips seem to be overlapping. For domestic travel, it kind of works itself out... but for international travel, it's not so simple because you've got time differences that add and subtract entire days to the schedule.
And I just don't have it in my head right now to plan trips that bounce me from Asia to Europe and back again.
What I really need to do is have a couple of shots of Jägermeister and go to bed.
Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2005
I love languages, even though I pretty much suck at learning them. I'm incredibly envious of anybody who is able to speak beyond their native tongue. But, as I mentioned once before, it seems as though native English speakers just don't care. They already speak the most popular language on the planet, so why bother to learn something else? Everywhere you go, people speak English anyway, so who cares?
Well I do. And it's not for lack of trying that I'm not multi-lingual...
I think to truly become fluent and really have the opportunity to remember a new tongue... I'm going to have to move to a foreign country for a year and just immerse myself in nothing but the language I choose for the entire time. Sadly, the odds of this happening are quite small. So while I can always hope to one day become comfortable with something other than English, I may just have to be content in my love of languages rather than my ability to speak them.
Posted on Tuesday, August 16th, 2005
I swear, Rock Star: INXS keeps getting better and better every week. Tonight's episode was amazing from start to finish, with some stunning covers of classic (and not-so-classic) songs that had me wondering why anybody would ever watch that lame American Idol crap ever again. While some performances were definitely weaker than others, each one was worth a listen. Jordis, as usual, was great... with a soulful rendition of Knockin' on Heaven's Door. I also enjoyed MiG's sweet take on Baby I Love Your Ways and Marty channeling Curt Cobain singing Britney with Hit Me Baby One More Time.
It's interesting to extrapolate fan favorites by looking at the number of comments on each performer's most recent blog entry. As of this writing, the totals are as follows:
It would seem that J.D. is currently favored, which is really too bad considering he is such an ass. Then we drop to Jordis, which is not surprising, as she's amazing. After MiG and Marty, everybody else is kind of trailing, with Jessica and Deanna at the bottom of the heap. I still maintain that J.D. or MiG will take the prize. Personally, I think that MiG is their best bet because not only is he a fellow Aussie, but he actually seems like a very talented guy that works well with a band. J.D. is a loner who wants it his way or no way, and INXS would be walking away with a loaded cannon if they were to choose him. Jordis is simply too talented to win.
Regardless, both J.D. and Jordis will absolutely end up with recording contracts, so it's not like they will be suffering if MiG gets the gig. Truthfully, they are probably both better off if they don't win.
I certainly hope that whoever is in charge here is smart enough to release a "best of" CD after the show ends, featuring some of the amazing performances we've heard along the way. There are quite a few songs that I definitely wouldn't mind hearing again.
Other than guessing who will win, one question remains: what band is going to step up for season 2 of Rock Star?
Posted on Wednesday, August 17th, 2005
I am hopelessly addicted to Rock Star: INXS in that I've watched the entire show from last night five times now. When you add that to the number of times I've watched the other episodes I've saved on TiVo, you might think that it's the only show on TV. It's like getting a new CD every week with music you can't get out of your head. Man I hope that they release the entire series on DVD and put the songs up for sale on the iTunes Music Store.
When you add that to my near-constant playing of the new Depeche Mode single "Precious"... it's been a good week for music.
The current meme-du-jur running around the blogosphere is "What's in YOUR Start Menu." Luckily, I don't have a Start Menu because I don't do Microsoft Windows. But I will share what's on my Mac PowerBook's Dock:
What's in YOUR Dock?
Interesting trivia about the above Blogography entry: This is not the entry I had originally written for today. I had started with a rant about something that made me so angry that I simply couldn't finish it. All I wanted to do was scream and type curse words. Eventually, I decided to stop writing and sleep on it. I'll be angry tomorrow.
But slightly less angry than I am right now.
UPDATE: Tonight's elimination round on Rock Star: INXS was way harsh... the bait-and-switch that Burke pulled between Ty and Suzie was just cruel. It is really beneath the show, and I hope that they cut out this crap and have a little respect for the performers from now on. Lame!
Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2005
You ever have one of those moments where you are absolutely certain that you must be losing it?
Yeah, me too.
Unfortunately, these moments seem to be coming more and more often. Like when I look at a random photo that I've got orphaned on my laptop, and can't for the life of me figure out where it was taken. I'd like to think that this is because I've been to so many places that they're all blending together (which could be true), but reality tells me it's probably just my brain shutting down. It's all downhill from here.
Usually, I can look at the date on the photo file and then look at my calendar to see where I was when it was taken. But this morning I ran across a photo which doesn't have an accurate date, and doesn't look familiar to me in any way... I can't even place what country it was taken in. I went through my entire iPhoto album to see if there was a similar shot, but couldn't find any. I am completely clueless...
Does anybody out there know what city this is? Better yet, can anybody tell me what I was doing there?
Posted on Thursday, August 18th, 2005
I've just spent an obscene amount of time trying to figure out where the photo I posted in my previous entry was taken. I started by searching for the filename on all three of my computers, but all the hits were wrong. After that I searched for filenames around the image name, but no dice.
Then I went through every image I have digitized on my PowerBook. This is fairly easy because they're indexed in iPhoto... all 5432 of them. But nothing matches and nothing looks close. Since the date on the file is January of 2005, that doesn't help, because I know it's not a photo of Barcelona or Cologne. In February I was in Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and the Florida panhandle... which is much more likely, but it doesn't fit anywhere.
Next I went through my digital photo archives, which is an additional 3100 photos. Nothing.
Finally, in a last-ditch effort, I work backwards through all my travels and try to match the skyline with a Google image search through all the likely cities it could be. Nothing. Not-so-likely cities? Nothing. Unlikely cities? Nothing. It's at this point I am ready to give up. I have no clue where the photo was taken.
But then I get a little bit smarter. This time I don't try to match the skyline, but buildings IN the skyline. I get lucky on my fifth try...
The reason I had such difficulty in recognizing the skyline is that the photo was taken at a bizarre angle... not the "typical" shot that is customarily shown. But the buildings do match when the photos are flipped and you look carefully enough.
It's Tampa, Florida...
...as seen from my hotel room at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino just outside the city. I was there in May of 2004, and even blogged about it. I believe that I took the photo to accompany a comment in my blog entry about the "Tampa skyline" but the photo didn't turn out very well, so I ditched the idea.
Little did I realize how insane it would make me a year and two months later, or I would have never pressed that shutter button.
Now I think I can go to sleep.
Posted on Friday, August 19th, 2005
I am a person who likes other people (well, I like other people when they're not being stupid). I particularly enjoy people who have beliefs and ideas that are different than my own, because that's what makes life on this planet so interesting. This is probably why I like to travel so much, because I get exposed to different people which help me to broaden my mind and shape how I see the world around me.
Because of my love of different cultures and ways of thinking, I have a profound respect for beliefs that other people hold sacred. So long as what you believe doesn't disrespect, diminish or infringe on other people or their lives... I have no problem with it. Feel free to believe, worship, and conduct your life as you see fit. Be happy.
This is, after all, is what America is supposed to be all about.
Sadly, this is not what we are actually about... at least not right now.
Since it is considered a Very Bad Thing to teach "creationism" in a school that's supposed to be free from religion... there are whack-jobs intent on being all sneaky about it by re-branding it as "Intelligent Design." So instead of saying "God created us" they want to say "Some higher being created us" - thus posing an alternative to evolution in the classroom. Of course, their INTENT is that this "higher being" is actually "God" and so... tee hee hee... suddenly you can teach creationism, because God is referred to in abstract terms.
But the odd thing about Intelligent Design is that the "some higher being" could selectively be thought of as absolutely anything. Now a new movement has been formed to say that this being is actually The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Followers maintain that The Universe and everything in it was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all evidence of evolution was put in place by His Noodly Appendage as a test of faith. But the really cool part is that they also believe that global warming, earthquakes, and hurricanes are caused by the decline in the number of pirates since 1800 (and provide evidence to back it up)... so all "Pastafarians" dress as pirates.
But, when it comes to intelligent design, I have another theory entirely. I believe that, since the world obviously revolves around me, that I was the one who created The Universe and everything in it (along with My Divine Monkey). This means you, and everything around you, is just a bad dream that I am having.
Unfortunately this also means that once my nap is over, you will cease to exist. So, in the meanwhile, feel free to run around dressed up as pirates and worship me with gifts and praise. The longer you keep my dream world interesting, the less likely it is that I will feel like waking up and eradicating you from reality.
"Vengeance is mine saith The Dave!"
Now all I have to do is find out who I need to talk to about getting Intelligent Dave Design introduced into school textbooks...
Posted on Saturday, August 20th, 2005
I finally got around to watching Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Un long dimanche de fiançailles (A Very Long Engagement) starring the ever-radiant Audrey Tautou. I can't image the pressure of following up his previous success with Tautou (the incredible Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain), but Jeunet somehow managed to deliver.
Engagement takes place after World War I, as Mathilde (Tautou) begins a search for her fiance, who disappeared during the war. She's been told he is dead but feels that if he had died, she would somehow know it. And since his body hasn't been uncovered, she refuses to believe it. Her search takes her on a fascinating journey that uncovers secrets, lies, danger, and a mystery...
The pacing of the 2 hours and 13 minutes is deliberately slow but, because the story was so beautifully shot, I never minded a bit. In addition, there were stunning special effects woven into the visuals which means there is always something incredible to see. This being Jeunet there were other quirky treats along the way, including a cameo by Jodie Foster (speaking flawless French), that was just icing on the cake.
By the time the movie had ended I was ready to watch the entire film again. And, if I had another 2-1/2 hours to spare, I would have. I've never had a desire to learn French, but if Jeneut continues to crank out these masterpieces I may have to start. The temptation to watch his work without subtitles is simply too great.
As for Tautou, she is starring with Tom Hanks in The Da Vinci Code come next year, so at least there will be something nice to look at if they screw up the book adaptation.
Posted on Sunday, August 21st, 2005
Just finished watching the series finale of Six Feet Under and have to say the ending was amazing. There was so much going on in the last six minutes that I've re-watched them five times now. And with each viewing I see something new that causes me to freeze-frame and try to put the pieces together.
It could very well be one of the most beautiful and brilliant six minutes of television ever aired.
This is a bit sad for me, because I honestly think that the show has been crap for the last three seasons. The constant bouts of bitching, whining, screaming, and yelling by every single character is more than anybody should be subjected to for entertainment. Fortunately creator Alan Ball knew when to say "when" and mercifully killed it before it got any worse.
And killed it in such a cool way that it leaves you wanting more.
The ending was made all the more special by using the hauntingly beautiful song Breathe Me by Sia. I went to go buy it at the iTunes music store, but it was only available if you buy the entire album at $12.99. I went to buy it from Sia's site, but the $1.72 to get it resulted in a Windows Media file that won't play on a Mac. Once again, the RIAA is simply not getting the fact that they force people to steal, then continue to bitch about it. Congratulations, you're all dumbasses. So now I had to get my Windows machine to work, import the song, burn a copy to CD, then import a copy with inferior quality into my Mac to listen to it. Lovely.
SPOILERS! I'm making a list of the things in those last six minutes, and am putting it in an extended entry for those who don't want to have it spoiled. If you caught something that I didn't, please leave a comment so I can add it!→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Monday, August 22nd, 2005
With the very last episode of Six Feet Under still haunting me, I've finally gotten to the point where I can blog about what happened last Wednesday without becoming a giant ball of all-consuming rage. I seem to have mellowed to the point where I am merely "furious" about the ordeal. I mean, once you're dead, who really cares?
Last Wednesday was a very difficult day. My crowded travel plans suddenly became even more crowded, and I felt overwhelmed in trying to schedule back-to-back international trips... particularly when trying to figure out where I would be able to find time to grab fresh clothes and change my underwear.
So after battling the calendar for hours, I was ready to head home and watch a few more episodes of Roswell: The Final Season on DVD and eat a frozen pizza. So there I was driving through town when IT happens.
As I am stopped at a corner, I see a young dog walking along the sidewalk. He happened to notice two guys walking toward him with food, and decides to go say hello... assumably to see if he might be able to get a bite to eat. But as he approaches, one of the guys yells at the poor animal, which causes the pup to stop dead in his tracks. Then the other guy walks right up to the dog and kicks him. Hard.
Now, keep in mind that the dog wasn't attacking him. The dog wasn't even approaching him anymore. This guy was just a complete bastard who thinks that it's big fun to hurt innocent animals. There's simply no other way to interpret his actions. He's a sadistic f#@% that should be locked away or shot.
My temperature went from calm to boiling instantly, and I immediately bailed from my car to go check on the dog as he tried to get away. He wasn't limping, but you could tell that the wind had been knocked out of him, as he was walking kind of clumsily.
DAVE: WHAT THE F#@% DID YOU DO THAT FOR?!? HE WASN'T GOING TO HURT YOU!!
SADISTIC DOG-KICKING F#@%ER: Eh, it was buggin' me.
I am dying to know how this could even remotely be considered reason enough to kick a dog. He was "buggin' you?" I will never forget how the dog started to get a little excited when the guy came up to him... then watching him get beat to shit for being so trusting.
I couldn't get ahold of the dog to check him over and be sure there wasn't anything broken... he tore out of there just as soon as he came to his senses, and who could blame him. For all I know, he had his ribs snapped and died from internal injuries a few hours later. I will probably never know, but it certainly looked like a bad kick from where I was sitting... and I can't get the picture of such nonsensical violence out of my head.
Even now, five days later.
What kind of world do we live in where even the thought of something like this is considered to be acceptable behavior? How can we possibly hope for a non-violent future, when idiots are capable of inflicting such harm on an innocent animal? Why does society let this type of thing go on in the first place?
It's a sick, sad world, and sometimes I just want out.
Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005
It seems that every day is turning out to be "one of those days." I was planning on a trip to Korea in two weeks, but found out this morning that I have to leave this weekend. Bummer.
So there I was trying to find last-minute airfare to Asia at a price that doesn't cost more than the buying my own plane. Eventually I find a rather decent fare from Northwest, but then decided that I don't want to "get a full-body skin rash that itches like hell and doesn't respond to any medical treatment." So instead I booked a cheaper fare with United, where I have no frequent flier status and cannot get upgraded from coach. Thanks a lot Peggy!
I have mixed feelings about the whole Northwest Airlines mechanics strike. On one hand, yeah, I think it sucks to put in 20 years and then have to lose money and benefits that you've worked so hard to get. But, on the other hand, I think it's really, really lame that the mechanics union thinks that they should be immune to financial hard times. Workers EVERYWHERE are having to take pay cuts and face layoffs so that companies can survive. What makes $70,000 mechanics so special that they shouldn't have to take a hit like the rest of us?
And then I read where the union spokesman is saying "the mechanics would rather see the airline go into bankruptcy than agree to Northwest's terms," and have to wonder exactly who this moron is representing. If Northwest goes bankrupt, and the airline goes under, then nobody has jobs. Isn't it better to save what jobs you can, even with a pay cut, than losing everything? I mean, it's not like Northwest is thrilled with the prospect of cutting jobs and salaries... they're just doing what they have to do to stay afloat in this horrendous financial climate where they're losing millions. It's sad, but that's reality in today's business world.
Of course, when it comes to saying outrageously stupid things, the union spokesman has a long, long way to go before he can top the senile ramblings of dumbass televangelist Pat Robertson, who wants us to assassinate the duly elected president of Venezuela. This kind of crazy pseudo-religious rambling sounded really familiar, and that's when everything suddenly became clear to me...
Strange. We've got kind of a "separated at birth" thing going on here.
Anyway, I could be wrong, but assassinating foreign leaders seems like it must be against the United Nations charter... doesn't it? We are still a member of the United Nations aren't we?
I just don't get it. People actually give money to this idiot. Has the "religious right" truly become so powerful that they don't feel the need to follow rational thought? Is this kind of outrageous, uninformed, and flat-out stupid commentary actually being taken seriously?
This is just what we need... whack-job televangelists influencing our foreign policy. As if the USA didn't have enough problems already.
Posted on Wednesday, August 24th, 2005
Bah! I get home to find out I have no internet. I guess this will get posted tomorrow.
Anyway, you'd think that I would get used to short-notice travel, but it never seems to happen. Yesterday I found out I have to be in Korea this weekend, and now it's a mad dash to try and get my work caught up. And get my clothes washed. And make my reservations. And call my friends. And pay my bills. And all the other things one has to do before leaving their life behind for a week. I think I'm going insane.
The good news is that I managed to contact a friend in Hong Kong whom I have never met in person. He's going to be around, so after my work is over in Seoul, I'll be jetting down for a couple days of much-needed vacation. He's a fellow Hard Rocker, so I'm sure a visit to the Hard Rock Hong Kong will be in order. Sweet!
Something tells me I won't have time for much sleep tonight.
Posted on Thursday, August 25th, 2005
It's nice to know that in the midst of total chaos, there are still brief moments of calm to be savored.
Here is the view out my bedroom window this fine evening...
And I almost missed it because I was concentrating on finding clean clothes for my impending travel this weekend. Fortunately, there was a nice golden-orange glow sneaking through the slats in my window blinds that got me curious. By the time I grabbed my camera, the sunset was starting to fade, and ten minutes later it was gone.
Posted on Friday, August 26th, 2005
I've decided that I'll be too tired to drive over to Seattle tomorrow, so I'm going to fly instead. Between the cost of gas to drive, along with the parking fees once I get there, it's no more expensive to fly... even at the last minute. The only danger is that my flight will be canceled but, since I don't leave the country until Sunday, I have extra time if I need it.
Other than making this Big Decision, only one other thing happened today.
I got an email from an old friend whom I used to hang out with in my post-college years. He had stumbled across Blogography, decided to read every entry within, and then write to tell me how disappointed he was that there were no stories about the crazy times we used to have. Since I am interpreting this as permission to exploit a friend for entertainment value, here we go. Brian, this one is for you:
I have been in exactly two fights in my entire life. Brian was there both times. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming him or anything.... I'm just saying... when Brian is around, "stuff" tends to happen.
But before I get to the actual story here, there is something you have to understand. I am not a "fight" kind of guy. I'm skinny. I'm weak. I did not grow up in a bad neighborhood. I've never been to prison. I have no formal kung-fu training by an ancient martial arts master that I tracked down to avenge the murder of my parents (which is obvious, because they're both still alive and I'm not Batman). When it comes to fighting, all I know comes from watching movies.
And for those of you who have never been in a fight before, it is nothing like the movies.
Fighting is not some macho exercise where somebody punches you, then you punch them back, then repeat until somebody gets knocked out. Oh no. Unless you are Rocky Balboa, it is very much different... because fighting hurts when you suck at it. When somebody hits you, it hurts. Usually quite badly. And once you've been hit, the last thing you want to do is get hit again. But that's not the worst of it... hitting somebody else hurts. And depending whether or not you strike bone, it can actually hurt worse than getting hit. Yep, no matter how you slice it, getting in a fight is not a pleasant experience. Especially if you are me.
The first time I got in a fight, Brian and I were playing electronic darts at a local bar. We had each had a couple of drinks, and were just starting to enter "The Zone" where you become one with the dart and start to get good game going on. Darts are just like bowling and pool that way... everybody seems to play a little better when they're relaxed and buzzed. Or maybe that's just me. In any event, it was good times. But then some drunk assholes decided to play next to us. They were loud, obnoxious, and really disruptive. It was annoying, but we did our best to ignore them. Until the idiots thought it would be hilarious to start throwing darts at our board. The first couple of times we were like "ha ha ha" and just let it go.
But then they did it a third time.
While Brian was lining up his shot.
Then it wasn't funny anymore. Brian ran up to the board, grabbed the safety dart, then flung it at the drunken moron's chest and told him to "keep the f#@% off our board." This did not go over really big with the moron, nor his two equally moronic friends. Now they weren't only obnoxious, they were outright hostile. Brian decided to just leave rather than mix it up, and simply said "calm down there Skippy" as we walked out.
But that wasn't the end of it. We had no designated driver, and were planning on killing another couple of hours until Brian's brother got off work to come have a beer and pick us up. Now that our plans were foiled, we decided to walk down the street to get something to eat, then wander back after a while (when hopefully the three douches have left). We had gone three blocks when a car pulled up beside us and somebody threw a McDonalds cup full of liquid at Brian (missing him by a mile). Our lovely dart-playing friends had caught up to us! And now two of them were hopping out of the car, while one of them kept repeating "What'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do?"
He got too close to Brian with that, and so Brian shoved his shoulder just to ward the guy off, but that was all the excuse the two needed, and they both made a play for him. I went to pull the "What'cha gonna do?" guy off of Brian, but he swung around and punched the side of my neck. It landed square, and I swear I heard something snap, but it wasn't enough to knock me over, so I shoved the guy away from me as hard as I could. He stumbled back, but then came after me again. This time I decided to get all macho and punch him in the face. Little did I realize that this would hurt me much, much more than it would hurt his drunk ass. Barely phased, he jumped me as I stood there trying to figure out why my hand was suddenly on fire. But, by this time, it was Brian's turn to push him off me (after having already shoved the other guy into the street). All it took was one swift punch to his gut, and the "What'cha gonna do?" guy folded like a wet Kleenex. And just like that, it was over.
We decided to head back to the bar, since the moron triplets had left, and wait it out for Brian's brother to show up. While Brian played darts, I spent the entire time icing up my hand and getting really drunk. Though my hand did get pretty jacked up, I didn't end up breaking anything. It was a painful, yet valuable, lesson.
The second fight was months later in the middle of Winter. Brian was a friend of my then-girlfriend's roommate's boyfriend. Us three guys went to rent a video while the girls went across the street to get junk food. It was getting pretty late, but it was a Friday night, and we had nothing better to do than eat sugar and watch crappy movies. After choosing a couple of cheesy comedies (a sensible compromise between the action movies we wanted to watch, and the chick-flicks they wanted to watch), I left them to rent the videos while I went to catch up to the ladies.
When I got to them, they were standing outside the market talking to some random guy. He was 6" shorter than I was, but had at least 30 pounds on me. At first I thought that the girls knew him, but it ended up that wasn't the case at all... he was trying to chat them up. I thought that if I just stepped in, he'd realize they weren't alone and leave.
I thought wrong.
The guy immediately started verbally bashing me, my family, my genetic heritage, and all my future generations. I don't think he was drunk, but he was crazy. I finally interrupted to say something totally stupid like "yeah... well, we've got to be going now..." only to have him shove me against a concrete column. He was using his forearm to push up on my upper chest, all while saying "step off, faggot! I'm talking!" Since he was shorter, he had to reach up to hold me, leaving his belly fully exposed. His nice, soft, easily punchable belly.
I didn't have much room to pull back, so all I could do was give him a quick jab to his gut. This only made him mad, and he lunged forward with his shoulder, somehow catching my jaw with it. This was not a pleasant experience, but it did leave me in a great position to clasp my hands and punch down on his back. It didn't do much to stop him, and all it got me was thrown down on the cold ground. But, by this time, Brian and Eddie were hauling ass across the parking lot to help out, so it didn't matter. That could have been the end of it, as there was no way this guy could take on all three of us.
But I was too pissed.
While Brian tried to calm the guy down, I nursed my aching jaw and decided to palm the guy in the face. It was kind of a pussy move on my part, seeing as how he was squaring off with Brian, but I didn't care. I shoved square into his nose at a nice 3/4 angle while he was completely unaware. It must have hurt, because he let our a yelp. For all I know, I could have broken it. And now that I had back-up, I got all cool and said "THE NEXT TIME YOU TAKE A SHOT AT ME, YOU'D BETTER USE A GUN OR I'LL F#@%ING KILL YOU!!" Everybody just stood there staring at me for a minute, and then we kind of wandered back to the car.
Later that night while watching videos, we got into a "candy battle" where we were flicking M&Ms at each other because the film was boring. I slapped one into the side of Brian's head, which is when he said "THE NEXT TIME YOU TAKE A SHOT AT ME, YOU'D BETTER USE A GUN OR I'LL F#@%ING KILL YOU!!"
I never, ever lived that one down.
Posted on Saturday, August 27th, 2005
I am sitting here in the tiny airport at Wenatchee, Washington bored out of my mind because I forgot to bring a book. With nothing else to do, I figure I'll fire up a game of Kitty Spangles Solitaire for an hour while I wait for my plane to arrive. But when I open my PowerBook, something very strange happens. A little dialogue box pops up saying "your wireless network is no longer available. Would you like to join the network "LINKSYS?"
If there was a button that said "f#@% yeah!" - I would have clicked it.
And so here I am with full internet access in a little nothing of an airport you've probably never heard of before. I have excellent signal, and the speed is fantastic. I contrast this with the shitty slow access I am usually paying big money for in larger airports, and have to ask... what the f#@%??
If a tiny airport can so graciously offer up free internet as a convenience for their passengers, why don't the big guys do the same? It costs practically nothing, but rather than treat you as a guest, they instead rape you for a few more bucks just because they can. So way to go Wenatchee for bucking the trend of outrageous internet access, and serving your customers better than facilities fifty times your size.
Just one more reason I'm happy to fly out local instead of driving over to Seattle.
One of the little tricks I use when traveling is to wear tired old underpants and socks, so I can just toss them in the garbage when I get to where I am going and have one less thing to worry about carrying around. It also keeps my clothes from smelling like feet. Today I found a pair of really nasty tighty-whitey underwear that are pretty messed up. They practically fell apart when I put them on, so I'm quite proud of that. My socks are in fairly good shape, but mis-matched and not really white anymore.
Anyway, across the aisle from me is a bitch and her three hyperactive, annoying kids. She has no interest whatsoever in keeping them quite, and is happy to have them running around screaming at people. If security (which is much tighter and far more thorough here than at larger airports) hadn't confiscated my shotgun, I can guarantee her mis-behaving kids would be quiet. DEAD QUIET!! (that's funny if you say it as Arnold Schwarzenegger). But oh no. She is obliviously chatting away to some poor woman next to her about how she's "scared to death of these small planes because they crash all the time!"
And that's when it hits me...
What if we crash?
And I'm wearing nasty fall-apart underwear.
My mother will be so embarrassed if she shows up to claim my body and I'm in holy undies. In fact, she may even disown me right there, and say that she doesn't know the guy on the slab. "No son of mine would wear such disgraceful underwear," she'll say.
So now I am really nervous about the flight.
Not because I might die... I have no problem with that... but because my horrified mother will have to identify my body while I'm wearing underwear with holes in them and mis-matched socks. She will then spend the rest of her life wondering where she went wrong with me, and calling my brother every day to be sure he's wearing underwear that's suitable for dying in.
I should have worn my lucky boxer shorts.
I can honestly say I never envisioned a time that I would be obsessing about my underwear in a blog entry. Maybe I should just shut down Blogography right now, because there's nowhere to go but down now.
But, seriously now, if the coroner who finds my mangled body in the wreckage reads this... I would greatly appreciate it if you were to change my underwear for me. Of course, if the crash was particularly scary, you may want to do that anyway because of their contents... but thanks just the same.
UPDATE: Tragedy averted! Me and my embarrassing underwear arrived safely in Seattle. I am now typing away in disgust because the stupid-ass Hilton here charges $9.95 for internet access. WIRED internet access... not wireless, BUT WITH A CABLE... CHAINED TO THE DESK!!! Hotels that charge for internet suck ass.
Posted on Sunday, August 28th, 2005
As I leave for Asia, the news from hurricane Katrina is increasingly grim. The projected path is directly over New Orleans (one of my favorite cities), which could be disastrous. The "Big Easy" is very much below sea level, and a large enough storm could send water surging into the city at a cataclysmic depth. Pat O'Briens... Cafe du Monde... The Garden District... St. Patrick's & Jackson Square... Soniat House... The French Market... Bourbon Street... The Hard Rock Cafe... and so much more that New Orleans has to offer is all at risk of being destroyed. I particularly worry about the animals at the beautiful zoo they have there.
CNN has shocking footage of people fleeing the city, and all major routes have been converted to one-way highways leading out of town. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way, and authorities are worried that an accident on any of these routes could trap people in the hurricane's path.
I suppose there's always a chance that the weather will change and the city can be passed by... but wherever the projected "Category 4" hurricane makes landfall, there's going to be a lot of damage. 150mph winds do not strike quietly.
It's going to be difficult to think of much else during a 13 hour flight where I am cut-off from the world and unable to find out what's happening. All my thoughts are with those facing the hurricane, and the city of New Orleans where I have been a half-dozen times (and love more and more each time I visit). Nothing would make me happier than to visit another half-dozen times in the future.
UPDATE: I've arrive in San Francisco only to find out that the storm has been elevated to "Category 5," which is the most severe rating you can give a storm. I board the plane not knowing if I will ever see New Orleans again. I am severely depressed right now. If the city is destroyed, I suppose all I will have is great memories. I first went to New Orleans in 1983 during my Junior year of High School for a National DECA competition. It was my first trip unaccompanied by an adult. It was my first time drinking alcohol in a bar (even though I was a year underage, nobody cared). It was my first time... for a lot of things.
I feel like my heart is being crushed in my chest and I want to scream. If I had a choice, I would cancel my trip and go home to hide under the bedcovers until the fate of New Orleans was known. As it is, I will spend the next 13 hours on a plane trying not to think about it.
But I don't think there's enough of those little bottles of alcohol onboard to do that.
Posted on Monday, August 29th, 2005
And here I am back in Seoul, Korea. I am most fortunate that I don't really have a problem with jet-lag... my body just mysteriously seems to adjust to whatever time zone I am in. Though I cannot deny being totally exhausted, because 22 hours of travel will do that to you. Now the challenge is to stay awake for another three hours so that I don't wake up at 2am tomorrow morning. It's a weird, wild life I lead.
The weather here has entered into some kind of funky perpetual haze as sunset falls...
All big cities are starting to look the same to me. If I didn't know where I was, it might take me a minute to figure it out from just a quick glance out my window. The cathedral there just confuses things.
And now I'm off to Dunkin' Donuts for a quick bite before retiring for the evening.
Yet, for New Orleans, the day is just beginning. Assuming I can get to sleep knowing what is going to happen there, the storm is projected to hit the city as I wake up. All my hopes now hinge on seeing the city again some day...
Posted on Tuesday, August 30th, 2005
Bleh. The first thing I did this morning was somehow pull a muscle in my back, which has been agonizing me all day. Add to that the hours spent in Seoul traffic... and what should have been an easy day of work, is suddenly not so much. And now I have to catch up on the work that I missed back home, so it's shaping up to be a very full day.
With no time to spare to go out to a restaurant, I instead walk across to the 7-11 to buy a junk-food dinner. One of my favorite things about international travel is discovering new and exotic snacks, and Korea does not disappoint. I've got two new favorites...
The first is Sun Chips Spicy Hot!, which are just like the Sun Chips back home... except they have delicious sweet-hot pepper flavoring sprinkled on them. I've eaten four bags since I've gotten here, and am seriously considering the purchase of a new suitcase for the sole purpose (Seoul purpose?) of taking fifty bags back home with me. They are wicked-good, and I have no idea why they are not made available in the USA. The second are Potato Fries Crips which are very popular, as they are available in numerous brands and varieties. I've been eating the brand with the "happy potato" on the front, simply because he looks like the cheerful kind of potato I'd like to hang with (though I am more of an "angry potato" myself). These are quite good because they are not oily and not loaded with salt (as they would be back home)... just yummy potato flavor in fun "french fry" shapes.
Work was completed today so, as of tomorrow, I am on "semi-vacation" in that I will still be working in my hotel room each night, but my days are free for fun and excitement. My flight to Hong Kong is fairly late, so I am thinking of making time for the Seoul Museum of Contemporary Art, the Insa-Dong market, and lunch at the Hard Rock (assuming they're open this time).
One thing I've always wanted to do in Seoul, but haven't yet, is visit the DisneyLand rip-off called "Lotte World" (even their "Sleeping Beauty Castle" logo is a total copy!). Last year when I was here, they were advertising a new "Atlantis Adventure" ride for 2005 that appears to be a combination roller coaster and flume ride. But my favorite thing about Lotte World is their advertising slogan, which appears on billboards, print ads, and such...
If you can't read it, here's the joyous English text that's so compelling...
How could you not want to visit Lotte World after reading that? I mean, I thought I knew what "The Pleasure" was... but apparently I've got it all wrong. It would seem that the REAL pleasure I've been looking for all my life is awaiting me at Lotte World. Even more surprising... it doesn't seem to involve my penis. Ordinarily, this would cast some doubt on Lotte World's claim, but one never knows. The cost to get in is $30, which certainly makes it cheaper than many of the finer penis-related activities available, so all I can do is hope.
Unfortunately, the "Atlantis Adventure" ride isn't open until October, so I won't be experiencing "The Pleasure" this trip... maybe next time.
Of course, the real pleasure of my day was finding out that New Orleans is battered, but not totally destroyed like predictions were calling for. Hopefully the remaining levies and pumps will hold so that more people are not underwater as those in the Eastern part of the city are right now. With 80% of the city flooded, there's a lot of work to be done, but at least "The Big Easy" wasn't completely taken out... this time. I wonder if the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino being built in Biloxi was as lucky?
Ah, New Orleans! Now I am craving beignets and a cup of hot chocolate from Cafe du Monde!
Posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
The earliest flight I could get to Hong Kong is at 7:40pm. That leaves a big chunk of a day where I have nothing to do. Rather than sit in my hotel until they kick me out, I decide to hit a few places I wanted to see in Seoul. Thanks to the convenient and efficient subway system here, it's pretty easy to get to wherever you want for $1 cheap.
Here is my day in Seoul...
Wake up way too early, then work for four hours. I look up the subway stop for the local cafe at HardRock.com, but they don't list it. I then look up the hours, only to remember they don't open until 5:00pm on weekdays. I've already been twice, so it's not a big deal... but how crazy is that?
Wait for the morning commuter rush to subside, and head out around 10:00am, begging the front desk for an extended check-out time of 2:00pm.
Hike to Seolleung Station and take a series of wacky connections that eventually deposit me across the river at City Hall Station, 30 minutes later.
Stop at Dunkin' Donuts (again) for a couple of "Chocolate Cookie Donuts" and then proceed to fall in love with the seriously cute girl who takes my money.
Walk to Deoksugung Museum of Contemporary Art to take in an exhibit of Korean and Chinese brush painting, which I really like. Then find out that it must be "children's day" at the museum, because the courtyard is overrun with adorable kids in their equally adorable school uniforms...
Become totally captivated with amazing pieces of brush art, and buy one of the cheapest exhibit guides for a showing I have ever seen... just $5!!
Walk to Seodaemun Station for yet another bizarre series of transfers until I arrive at Anguk Station, which is at the head of the very cool "arts & crafts district" of Seoul called "Insa-Dong"...
I Kill an hour wandering through the galleries and craft shops, resisting the urge to purchase everything in sight. Run across a woman (British accent) who is impatiently trying to get a shop keeper to understand her. She eventually raises her voice to the poor woman and says "I THOUGHT YOU SAID YOU SPOKE ENGLISH! ENGLISH!!" she then throws down some handmade papers in disgust and starts to stomp out. I cannot resist saying "she probably does understand English... it's your being a bitch she doesn't understand." She ignores me (big surprise) and I head down the street to a souvenir shop I like...
I have no idea what these little string ornaments are called, but they make perfect $1 souvenirs that people back home totally love, so I buy a dozen for those few people I haven't already given one from a previous trip. I think they are based on the ornamental button-ties that Koreans wear on traditional formal dress. But these are much smaller and come in funky designs like fish, purses, fans, flags, and such.
Am shocked to discover that it's now 1:00pm, and I have only an hour to make it back to the hotel.
On the way back to Anguk Station, my leg all of a sudden develops a stabbing pain. I limp all the way to the subway, and find a seat for the next half hour's ride back across the river. Eventually I transfer back to the #2 Green Line and get back to Seolleung Station for the 7 minute hike back to the hotel with my leg feeling like somebody put a bullet in it.
Get back to my room at 1:56pm. Even though I have to be out in just 4 minutes, I decide to take another shower to sooth my aching, hot, sweaty body. This delays my departure by 10 minutes, but the front desk says nothing (bless them).
Since I have 5 hours and 30 minutes until my flight, I sit in the lounge writing postcards for the next thirty minutes, then buy an airport transfer ticket for the "Limousine Bus." It's a fantastic bargain at $13... a taxi ride would cost at least $70 because of Seoul's horrendous traffic.
The airport run is a whopping 1 hour, 35 minutes through agonizing traffic. I notice for the hundredth time how every tenth building is a Samsung building... yet each is selling something different... computers, cars, appliances, apartments, telephone service... whatever. I have to wonder if there is anything Samsung doesn't make in Korea.
Arrive at the ticketing desk for Asiana Airlines nearly four hours early. The first thing they do when I get up to the counter is hand me a bottle of mouthwash. I wonder if I should be offended, but then notice everybody is getting mouthwash. Since Koreans eat their weight in garlic every week, I suppose this is a practical gift.
I try to get through outbound immigration to leave the country and find out that the inbound agent mis-stamped my passport with an entry date of September 28th, 2005. This causes the guy to freak out, and I frantically search for my itinerary to show him I am not a wacky time traveller. Unfortunately, the photocopies my travel agent made have cut off the date! This causes even more of a freak-out, because now it looks like I have intentionally obstructed my date of entry! Ten minutes of computer key-punching later, he eventually locates my entry record with the correct date and releases me. The people in line behind me are not very happy at all.
Eat a Subway Sandwich at the same food court I always do because they have Welches Grape Soda. Make my way to the passenger lounge at Gate 33, and find out I can't get internet. Decide to write about my day in Seoul anyway... I'll just post it when I get to Hong Kong.
Read back through this entry and realize that it is not very exciting at all, and anybody reading the entirety of it has probably fallen asleep by now. Unless there's an explosion or an alien invasion in the next hour, I'm afraid that's all you're going to get!
These seats are horribly under-padded, and my boney ass is aching tired. Decide to stop blogging now before I start getting into embarrassing territory...
Posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
Last night's flight on Asiana Air was very nice, especially since the cute counter agent put me in an exit row with tons of leg room. We arrived on time, immigration check was a breeze, and suddenly I was in Hong Kong... and 35 minutes later, my suitcase joined me. There's a train that runs into Kowloon, but the bus connection had closed for the night, so I bit the bullet and took a $30 taxi because I was tired and didn't want to have to find a way to my hotel from the station.
Half-way into Kowloon, I noticed a lightning strike out of the corner of my eye. IMMEDIATELY afterwards, the heavens opened up and a deluge of rain dropped from the sky. It was so sudden that I was startled awake, and then was treated to a lightning show through torrential rains. The driver must be used to it, because he didn't slow down at all... even though you could barely see through the windshield.
Then, almost as quickly as it had started, the rain stopped and I arrived at my hotel. After a good night's sleep, Hong Kong awaits.