Posted on Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Proving that I am just not lucky enough for one damn thing to ever go right when I travel, my flight out of Minneapolis was delayed three hours. So I got to spend five hours at MSP playing Dungeon Hunter on my iPhone. And while there are certainly worse ways to spend five hours, I'd rather just go home.
Because once I land, I have a two-and-a-half-hour drive over the mountains.
Which finishes off my travel map like this...
And now I just want to catch up on about thirty hours of missing sleep from the past twelve days.
Thanks to the miracle of modern-day pharmaceuticals, I'll give it my best shot.
Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
All I wanted was a White iPhone 4.
But Apple keeps delaying the shit over and over and over again, so I finally just bit the bullet and went down to the AT&T Store to place my order for a Black iPhone 4. I need it to replace my rapidly dying pocket camera (which is currently being held together with rubber bands), and the idea of having one less thing to carry is very appealing to me.
While I was there, I stood next to another customer who brought forth a very interesting scenario.
Let's say you are upgrading your phone. Let's further speculate that you ask the cell phone store employee to transfer all your ringtones and photos and whatnot to the new phone so you don't have to mess with it.
Now let's say that amongst the photos from your phone's camera there are a number of pornographic shots.
How do you handle that??
I would die immediately. Struck dead right on the spot... not so much from embarrassment, but from the realization that I was stupid enough to leave nasty photos on a camera I handed over to a stranger.
But today I learned there's a way other than death in five easy steps...
Apparently lying solves everything. Even when the lies contradict each other.
You really do learn something new every day.
Posted on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
Reading back through my blog entries these past couple weeks, I'm reminded just how unlucky a traveler I am. Anything that could possibly go wrong, usually does go wrong. Delayed flights? Check. Missed flights? Check. Cancelled flights? Check. Lost luggage? Check. Vomiting co-passengers? Check. Whatever horrible thing you can think of? Check. Been there, done that. Many times.
But through all the pain and suffering, at least I could take solace in the knowledge that those two crazy kids Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston finally got back together and will be married at last!
But then... BLAM! Just minutes later, they're separated again and the wedding has been called off!
Oh well. At least I still have the marriage of Herpes Simplex One and Herpes Simplex Two to reignite my faith in humanity and maintain my peace and happiness in the face of adversity!
What? What's that?
Son of a bitch! Not Spencer and Heidi too?!?
What have I done to deserve this?
After my non-stop battle with misfortune, I have come to the only possible conclusion: God is totally messing with me...
I wish He would unleash His "Divine Love" on somebody else for a while.
P.S. Any resemblance between myself and The Almighty is purely intentional.
In other non-theological news... why is it that every company seems to have shitty customer service anymore?
For reasons unknown, I started receiving paper bills in the mail from Charter Cable a couple months ago. It's a mystery because I set up automated payments and paperless billing. Usually, I just ignore the statements when they arrive, but thought I'd open the one that wasn't as thick as a usual bill. Turns out it's a past due notice. So I call to find out what the hell is going wrong, and am told that they don't know... sometimes automated payments don't go through. But they verify my account is correct and volunteer to credit the late fee on my next bill (apparently they can't credit on the bill they fucked up on)... but only IF I pay my late balance immediately.
Except I can't pay for their screw-up with the service rep I'm already on the phone with unless I pay $1.99 fee.
Yes, that's right. THEY fuck up and I have to pay for it.
Except I'd rather never watch television again than pay for their bullshit, so I use their crappy automated system.
I'd use their website, but it won't let me login.
I'm guessing God has a part-time job on the web development team at Charter Cable.
What other possible conclusion could there be?
Posted on Wednesday, August 4th, 2010
So... the wholly abhorrent Proposition 8 initiative in California banning same-sex marriage was found to be unconstitutional, and an injunction against it was issued by a federal judge.
There will, of course, be people who are outraged at the decision.
There are, of course, people who believe that allowing two people of the same sex to marry is "redefining marriage as it has existed throughout the millennia across all cultures, races, and societies and defeats the purpose of marriage which is to produce the optimal family unit for having children."
I honestly don't give a shit.
I'll redefine a WORD over making somebody redefine WHO THEY ARE any day.
Because this is The United States of America, and if two consenting adults want to be married they should get to be married. That's what our vaunted "freedom" is all about. The government has no fucking business dictating that somebody has to deny their sexuality in order to marry. They just don't.
It's not human. It's not fair. It's not right.
And it's certainly not America.
Because allowing two people of the same sex to marry does nothing... nothing... to take away from the people who choose to believe exclusively in "traditional marriage." Those people can still have marriage. They don't have to redefine a damn thing to keep what they have. They don't even have to personally acknowledge same-sex marriage if they don't want to. Just so long as they do acknowledge that their personal views don't get to redefine other people in a country which is supposed to guarantee life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for ALL its citizens. They don't have that right. They just don't.
And when I hear people say... "Just because I don't believe in same-sex marriage doesn't mean I'm a hater!"... the only thing that runs through my head is this...
You kinda are...
Because an aversion to somebody so intense that it strips them of their right to decide for themselves who they marry and forces them to adhere to a set of rules which makes them unequal in the eyes of the law is the very definition of hate, plain and simple.
a: intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.
b: extreme dislike or antipathy, loathing.
Merriam-Webster Online. 4 August 2010
It's time to end the hate...
And to those who still wallow in it, bring on your inevitable appeal.
Because even more inevitable is the eventuality that this country will one day move past your absurd, antiquated, and ridiculous bigotry to fulfill the promise of a nation built on ideals of freedom.
I think we're due.
Posted on Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010
This afternoon I headed over to the coast because my sister's friend had scored tickets to the Natalie Merchant concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Woodinville. As a long-time fan of both her solo career and her work with 10,000 Maniacs, this was a fantastic opportunity... especially considering that she hadn't released a new album in the past seven years.
Natalie's new CD, Leave Your Sleep is a very interesting experiment into converting poetry about childhood from 19th and 20th century writers into music. And while some songs definitely succeed more than others, the sheer variety of musical styles and subjects are both mind-boggling and beautiful. First she's singing about how one explains war to a child, and then the next song she's singing about crazy-ass flavors available at a fantastical ice cream shop. It's a very interesting work, and is pure Natalie Merchant from start to finish...
And while Natalie's performance was beautiful, as expected, the concert itself did have some problems. Previously when attending a show at Chateua Ste. Michelle, I sat in the seated area, which is just like any other concert you might attend. This time we sat behind the seating area where people spread blankets and watch the concert picnic style... enjoying bottles of wine and dinner while they watch. Unfortunately, the more informal "seating" in the picnic area encourages people to goof around and let their kids run ape-shit, blocking your view... but, even worse, people won't shut the hell up while you're trying to listen to the music. At one point I was really enjoying the witty and complex lyrics to Bleezer's Ice-Cream when some drunken douchebag started screaming at everybody to get up and dance, ruining the moment completely. After that some bitch behind us started going on and on and on about selling her house, which pretty much ruined the next two songs. It was so discouraging, we actually packed up our crap and left a little early because there was little point in staying if people were just going to talk the whole damn time.
But Natalie tried to maintain good humor throughout, often talking to audience members who walked in late by updating them as to what songs they missed: "...Ooooh... then I sang Gold Rush Brides... I'll bet you're really sorry you missed that one!" and "That hot dog looks delicious. I'll bet it goes great with the wine!"
Overall, a great night... just not as good as it could have been had people shut the fuck up and minded their kids.
Posted on Saturday, August 7th, 2010
In-between work, I've somehow managed to sandwich-in a short trip to Sacramento so I can say a quick hello to
I haven't seen her in months but, now that she's moved from Orlando to Sacramento, she's just a one hour and fifteen minute flight away... and still fabulous no matter which coast she's calling home...
I, on the other hand, am not so much fabulous as I am dead-tired.
It would be nice if I could sandwich-in some sleep.
Posted on Sunday, August 8th, 2010
It's Bullet Sunday from sunny Sacramento!
• Lake Tahoe. Since Sacramento doesn't have a Hard Rock Cafe anymore, Foodiddy and Phister were kind enough to take Hilly-Sue and I to Lake Tahoe for a quick lunch. And while it may seem insane to drive
Sadly, the companion "wood cabin" cafe at Whistler was closed, so I'm hoping that the Tahoe property stays open for a good long time.
On the way back, actual hail was falling, which was surprising to say the least (is this not summer?). But we survived and made it back for Pinkberry for dessert, so I guess it's all good.
• Summertime Treat. Speaking of Pinkberry, they have a special frozen yogurt flavor running for summer... watermelon! It's worth grabbing a taste, even if you can't be wooed away from your regular favorite (like me!)...
• No Parking. Yesterday as Hilly and I arrived at the mall so I could be terrorized by Sephora, we were cruising the parking lot looking for a spot when something so mind-bogglingly stupid happened that I still don't think it was real. Some stupid bitch had COMPLETELY PASSED a parking spot that was being vacated, and decided she wanted it... even though SHE HAD COMPLETELY PASSED IT! So she sits there. Blocking the person trying to leave, and us, and the person behind us. Then she inches backwards as if to tell us that she wants us to back up, except there's somebody behind us. We CAN'T back up, even if we wanted to. So she sits there. And sits there. And sits there. Eventually the person behind us backs up so we can move. I was fucking fuming. Hilly moved because she was running low on gas. And she's apparently a lot more diplomatic than I am. Because I would NOT have moved. I don't give a shit if I ran out of gas. I don't care if a meteor was going to strike. I don't care if I was having a heart attack and needed immediate medical attention. There is no fucking way... NO WAY AT ALL I would have moved out of the way for that rude dumbass piece of shit. If you PASS a parking spot, GAME OVER! Go find another on. Don't block people and force them to move for your stupid ass.
It's times like this that I remember why I used to have extreme anger management issues. People are stupid, rude, selfish, and wholly intolerable. And all I wanted to do was beat the ever-loving shit out of this moron with a crowbar for being such a huge asshole. She totally deserved it and, after having to deal with her bullshit, I deserved to give it to her.
• Wave Goodbye. This past week Google announced that they were shutting down Google Wave... assumably due to the huge level of non-interest by just about everybody. Google's concept of real-time communication was pretty nifty, but any SUCCESSFUL new technologies tend to be dead-simple to use (ala Twitter), and Wave was too far-reaching and complex to get there. So now we all sit and wait for the Next Big Thing... and hoping it won't be limited to 140 characters or less.
And now... I really should get some sleep. For once my flight isn't at 7:00am, so here's hoping...
Posted on Monday, August 9th, 2010
Since Muskrat's time in The Emerald City is short, Whit and I attempted to do a whirlwind tour of the most popular Seattle tourist spots, including wandering the Pike Place Market, going to Ivars for dinner (with some very angry seagulls), getting a coffee at the first Starbucks, riding the monorail to the Pacfic Science Center, and (of course) going up the Space Needle...
The evening ended at Von's... a Seattle classic bar since 1904. We started with beer, but when a $4 Manhattan hit the Big Wheel of Magical Drink Specials, we couldn't resist...
Not a bad way to kill an evening!
Posted on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
After a long morning of work... lunch with my sister... then more work... it was time to meet up with Muskrat again for dinner in Seattle.
Being a little selfish, I do what I always do when guests are in town, take them to MY favorite restaurant, Ray's Boathouse (as I've detailed on my Secret Seattle Restaurants Page... shhhhh!). The views and food really can't be beat, and I highly recommend the place to anybody looking for an amazing meal experience in Seattle. Especially at sunset...
After that, we went to West Seattle's Alki Point so Muskrat could take a look at that picture-postcard-perfect Seattle Skyline view. Having photographed it dozens of times, I decided to play around with the "Hipstamatic" app on my iPhone to see what it would pick up. Generally I avoid Hipstamatic because it's so overused anymore, but there's no arguing with the freaky and wonderful results...
Of course, no photo can capture the experience of being there, which is why Alki is one of Seattle's "must-see" travel experiences.
And speaking of travel experiences... can I just say that Steven Slater is totally my hero now?
I am absolutely not kidding. While I am sorry he had to go through a melt-down while on the job, I am so sick and tired of the numerous abusive douchebags on planes anymore that ANYTHING which draws attention to these assholes is a good thing. If you're going to fly, be respectful and considerate and FOLLOW THE FUCKING RULES... OR DON'T FUCKING FLY!
I would never have the patience to deal with plane passenger dickwads for five minutes... let alone 28 years... so congratulations Mr. Slater for lasting this long. And especially for going out in such style when you'd finally had enough.
It's only a matter of time before a flight attendant has taken more than enough of people's shit and the killings begin. I, for one, can't wait. Maybe if being a fucking asshole could get you killed, people wouldn't be fucking assholes anymore.
Sure it's wishful thinking, but dreams can come true!
Posted on Wednesday, August 11th, 2010
Apparently, we have more tax dollars than we know what to do with here in Washington State.
Yesterday Seattle pressed the "on button" for their new "Smart Highway" project. In theory, it sounds fantastic. Highways which adapt to traffic conditions and help to regulate congestion by controlling the speed and position of vehicles on the road.
These new "Smart Highways" interact with reconfigurable signs like this...
In the above example, there's been a car collision, and the right two lanes have been closed. In preparation for this, there were instructions to merge earlier up the road...
And even earlier up the road, the traffic was slowed in order to make the merge happen more smoothly... and also to compensate for the loss of two lanes.
See? Fantastic. In theory.
In practice? Not so much.
Because the big glaring flaw in all this is that drivers aren't going to give a shit about any of it. People are going to wait until the last second before they merge (as always). People are going to ignore the reduced speed limits and go as fast as they can (as always). People are going to slow to a crawl as they approach the accident so they can gawk (as always). And it doesn't matter if you tell everybody that police will be enforcing compliance with the signage, because they don't really comply with the signage we have now.
And controlling traffic around an accident is the BEST CASE SCENARIO for making use of the "Smart Highway" signs. It's completely ineffectual for anything else. Case in point? It's ineffectual for managing heavy Seattle traffic, because no sign can change the fact that I-5 Northbound goes from five lanes to two lanes once you hit downtown. What can a sign... even a changeable sign... do with that bottleneck? And every time I saw that the speed had been reduced to "help with the lane flow" it was still posted as faster than what anybody was driving. And, even if somebody could exceed the ever-changing speed-limit, how the hell are the police going to enforce anything? The speed is 50 MPH one second and 40 MPH the next. How do you enforce that?
And, everything else aside, is it even SAFE to take people's eyes off the road for constant changes, updates, warnings, instructions, or what-not?
Millions spent. Nothing's changed. Maybe things are even worse.
So sadly typical.
Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Today was a good-news/slash/bad-news kind of day.
Fortunately, the good news slightly outweighs the bad, so I'm just going to run with that.
I supose somebody has to...
Posted on Friday, August 13th, 2010
Despite multiple horrible experiences at the movies recently (not with the films, but with the dumbasses in the audience), I hooked up with some friends to go see Sylvester Stallone's latest epic masterpiece The Expendables. I ended up enjoyed it quite a lot.
Which is somewhat surprising given the number of poor reviews the film has been getting. Critics just can't seem to leave it alone, saying that it "doesn't live up to expectations," like it's a complete waste of the big-name action stars stacked up behind it...
Which raises the question... What the hell were the critics expecting?
What I expected was a lot of bad dialogue, major ass-kicking, and huge explosions attached to a paper-thin plot and recycled storyline. This seemed logical given that it was co-written, directed, and starring... SYLVESTER STALLONE!
Surprise! The film featured a lot of bad dialogue, major ass-kicking, and huge explosions attached to a paper-thin plot and recycled storyline.
Yes I wish that they hadn't cast drastically over-used Eric Roberts as the bad guy (yet again). Sure I wish the story was tighter in the pacing and expanded in parts to add depth to the characters. Of course it would have been nice to functional dialogue... but that's obviously not what The Expendables was about. It's an homage to cheesy 80's action flicks, and fits the bill perfectly (even if all those 80's cheesy one-liners are curiously absent... Ahnold didn't even say "I'll be back!"). If you turn off your brain and just go with it, as intended, it's entertaining movie fare.
Just don't forget to turn your brain back on as you leave the theater.
Posted on Saturday, August 14th, 2010
Here we go again.
If you can't handle profanity or are too young to find the entertainment value in a psychotic rant, please don't go any further. Otherwise, you've been warned...
I am sick.
I somehow, out of nowhere, caught a head-cold last night and it keeps triggered my angioedema. This makes for a miserable existence where sleep is almost impossible. I spent all of last night and most of today hopped up on cold pills, antihistamines, pain-killers, and rage. Most of my waking moments are spent wishing I would just die already.
So, you can imagine my happiness when I finally manage to balance out all the pills and find a mix that allows me to get some sleep. Which is what finally happened around 1:00 today.
Until the phone rings.
Turns out it's an automated message on behalf this fucker...
His name is Jim Johnson and he's running for a second term in Washington State's Supreme Court.
And some piece of shit dickwad feels that it's critical to interrupt my weekend with a scare tactics telemarketer message to get him re-elected. Thus destroying any chance of getting some rest so I can recover from all that ails me.
So right now I don't care if Jim Johnson gets re-elected.
I don't care who endorses him. I don't give a crap what his politics are. I don't give a shit if he's a liberal or a conservative. I don't even give a flying fuck if he's offering free blow-jobs at the Playboy Mansion with every vote.
He will NEVER get my vote.
Any asshole politician who has followers willing to terrorize people with random cold-calls on his behalf... endorsed by the candidate or not... is just fucking garbage.
So fuck you Jim Johnson.
Since, technically, the automated dialing equipment wasn't trying to sell me anything, they're not in violation of Washington State Law RCW 80.36.400... but they fucking should be. And any candidate for Washington State Supreme Court should be committed to protecting citizens from bullshit like this instead of being the cause of it.
Now whom am I voting for? Whoever the fuck is NOT Jim Johnson.
And to whoever is responsible for ruining my day... congratulations.
Posted on Sunday, August 15th, 2010
Bullet Sundaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! Let's get ready to Rrrrruuummmmmble!
• Tweet! Most of the time I'm too busy to pay any serious attention to Twitter, but every once in a while it's a scary insight into what I'm going through at any particular moment in time. Today was particularly telling, and had me wishing I self-censored a bit better. Oh well. Too late for that now...
So many times when I'm asked for my opinion on something, I'm tempted to say "no" immediately because more often than not the person has no interest in getting an actual opinion... they just want your praise (whether they deserve it or not). Yet I foolishly try to be friendly and helpful with my critique anyway, sometimes getting burned in the process. It's really too bad, because good constructive criticism can be so much more helpful than faint praise... if people are willing to hear it. The question is, how many times will I get burned before I learn not to offer it in the first place? At this rate, not long at all.
• Fore! Oh how I love my new iPhone 4. It is superior to my iPhone 3GS in absolutely every way... especially signal reception. I can now actually make phone calls at my home without having them fade out, go choppy, or get dropped entirely. I've had no problems with the antenna while making calls, but have had some problems while texting or using apps when I cradle the iPhone to type. It took all of one minute to learn how to shift my hand to not block the antenna, so it's pretty much a non-issue now. If you have a case for your iPhone 4, it never was an issue to begin with. Personally, if I were going case-free and couldn't adapt to "holding different," this is my favorite solution...
And don't get me started on Apple's amazing "FaceTime" feature, which is the future made real...
But the main reason I upgraded to iPhone 4 was for the camera. My pocket camera is being held together with a rubber band and, rather than replace it, I decided to carry one less thing and just take snapshots with the iPhone 4. The camera has been so highly praised that I figured it was a realistic expectation, but was secretly worried it wouldn't live up to the hype.
And, while it is a vast improvement over previous iPhone cameras, it kinda doesn't live up to the hype. Particularly disappointing is night shooting. Sure the light sensitivity is improved, but the grain is outrageously bad... to the point of being unusable except at massively reduced sizes...
I shouldn't be surprised. The lens is just too small to accept enough light in a dim scenario like this. Shots in "normal" lighting are good... fantastic even... but it looks like my iPhone is no threat to my purchasing a new pocket camera for shooting in low-light. Darn it anyway.
Still, in every other respect, the iPhone 4 is pure WIN, and I really do love it. Heaven only knows what Apple has planned for the iPhone 5.
• Freedom? From watching the news and seeing people re-tweet Sarah Palin on Twitter, you'd think that actual terrorists were wanting to build a monument to the Islamic extremists who died during their 9/11 attacks ON TOP OF "Ground Zero" where the World Trade Center once stood. This is so absurd that it might actually be true, so I looked it up and was disappointed to discover that it was, in fact, not. Some American citizens are just wanting to build a Islamic cultural center and mosque TWO BLOCKS AWAY from Ground Zero on PRIVATE LAND. From what I've read, the mosque won't even be visible from the Ground Zero memorial that's being planned. This type of crazy shit drives me insane. The non-stop parade of lies and crazy exaggerations being sold to people for political gain on both sides of the political spectrum have me hoping for the complete collapse of democracy in this country. If people are so damn stupid as to keep falling for this kind of bullshit, then obviously they can't be trusted with democracy. If people are so hot to have somebody tell them what to think and don't care whether it's true or not, I suggest a nice dictatorship, with ME as Supreme Leader. I am more than happy to tell people what to think. Or to go fuck themselves.
UPDATE: I would have just said "Fuck you, Sarah Palin, you bigoted piece of shit," but Mayor Bloomberg is a much more eloquent and inspiring speaker than I could ever be (thanks for the tip, Etienne!)...
And now... time to put my aching head to bed.
Hopefully to sleep this time.
Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
A confidentiality agreement forbids me from giving any details... but LEGO Universe, the forthcoming LEGO Massive Multiplayer Online Game I've been beta-testing, is totally sweet. I shudder to think how much time I'm going to waste on this...
You can read more about the awesomeness at the official site.
Get your affairs in order now, because the game goes live on October 26th.
Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
Seriously... AGAIN?!? I keep getting some kind of "connectivity error" when I try to post...
Just my luck I've been hacked or something.
Actually, that would be lucky for you... I don't feel very lucky at all.
Posted on Thursday, August 19th, 2010
I've said many times that I'd rather be too warm than too cool. Probably because I've been miserable more often from cold than from heat. Getting frostbite when I was young didn't help.
Except now I'm ready to change my mind. The temperature this past week has been outrageously hot. Not Sahara Desert hot, but hot. Not Phoenix hot, but hot. So hot that my air conditioner can't keep up.
Stupid air conditioner.
My previous place had Central Air, which I now realize is the most amazing thing in the universe. With Central Air, the sweet, cool, air conditioning reaches every room. With a regular air conditioner, this is not the case. My living room and kitchen are comfortable. But by the time the air reached my bedroom it's all warm again. Which means I now refer to my bedroom as Disco Inferno... but not in a good way.
I worry that I may burst into flame at any moment...
Now is probably not the best time to worry whether or not my underpants are flame retardant.
Posted on Friday, August 20th, 2010
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a good film which could have been a great film if it hadn't turned out to be Michael Cera vs. The World.
My relationship with the original Scott Pilgrim comics by Bryan Lee O'Malley is a long story. Five years ago I was introduced to the book because of a girl I really liked. She was geeky and cool and cute and everything else you could possibly want in a potential girlfriend.
Except she didn't seem to feel the same way about me, so it wasn't meant to be.
A friend who knew of my predicament was more amused than sympathetic, and his solution in consoling me was to loan me Scott Pilgrim Volumes 1 & 2. Which, as anybody who has read those books would realize, is not much of a consolation at all.
But they were an awesome read. I became an instant fan.
The story of Scott Pilgrim is funny, smart, crazy, random, complex, beautiful, bittersweet, epic, and wholly entertaining. I've read each of the subsequent volumes as they've been released, and made a point of not seeing the movie until I had finished the final book of the series, Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour...
Since I read the finale last week, it was just a matter of finding the time to see the film, and tonight was the night. Off to the theater I went with all my expectations firmly in check. Sure the movie was lauded at Comic-Con, critically acclaimed by Scott Pilgrim fans, and getting good reviews in the press... but it was also bound to be a very condensed version of a highly complex story that ran over a thousand pages in six big manga-sized volumes. But would it be enough?
First of all, I was shocked at the amount of heart they managed to keep in the love story given how much of the background to the relationship was lost in translation to the Big Screen. I was anticipating that the movie would simply be one stylized fight scene after another with little room for anything else. This was pretty much the case. Except... director Edgar Wright managed to squeeze in just enough to make you actually care how things work out in the end. That was unexpected. That is what elevated the movie to near greatness. That is why I want to love the movie so much.
Because what's not to love? Boy meets Girl. Boy has to defeat Girl's seven evil exes so he can date her.
With one major exception, the cast was flawless. Mary Elizabeth Winstead was inspired as Scott's love interest Ramona Flowers. Kieran Culkin was genius as Scott's gay roommate Wallace Wells. Ellen Wong was a revelation as Scott's high-school ex-girlfriend Knives Chau. It was one home run after another. Even the "League of Evil Exes" made a big impression despite their extremely limited screen time...
Where the movie fails... and fails massively... is the casting of Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim.
It was an awful, awful choice that dogged the movie from start to finish. Michael Cera was NOT Scott Pilgrim. He was Michael Cera. He's Michael Cera in everything he's ever in. Don't get me wrong... I liked his nervous geeky schtick the first time I saw it in Arrested Development. I even liked his nervous geeky schtick in Superbad... and Juno... and Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist... but I'm done with it now. I wanted to see Scott Pilgrim in Scott Pilgrim, and it never happened. You can surround Michael Cera with all the incredibly cool special effects and kick-ass fight scenes you want, and it doesn't change the fact that it's Michael Cera up on the screen... he never lets you forget it...
Because after all that fades away, you're left with MICHAEL CERA BEING MICHAEL CERA...
I can only guess that the decision to cast him was made to please some movie studio executive so they had a "known name" to sell the film. It was a decision that pretty much sabotaged the flick in every way possible, and it kills me to say that. So much went right with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World that it could have survived just about any flaws that managed to creep in. I mean, they overcame so much just to get it all to come together so beautifully. But when that flaw is the main character?
In the end, my love of the Scott Pilgrim books makes me mostly love the movie too, despite a near fatal weakness in the lead role. It's one of the most imaginative and artistic flicks I've ever seen, and miraculously manages to capture the core concept of a highly complex and lengthy story. It's well worth your valuable time to check out.
Next up for Michael Cera? He will be playing Gilligan in a movie remake of Gilligan's Island, which I fully expect will end up being Michael Cera's Island.
Posted on Saturday, August 21st, 2010
I'm a big fan of eggs. Especially scrambled eggs and toast. And omelets. And deviled eggs. And egg casserole. And egg salad sandwiches. And quiche. And fried egg sandwiches. And so on. Not to mention all the delicious things that have eggs in them. Like cake.
So eggs are good, right?
Not if you read the news lately.
Apparently gazillions of eggs are being recalled because of a health scare. There are some bad eggs out there that have been infested with salmonella...
Salmonella is an ugly business that can give you a nasty case of diarrhea. Or death. And nothing spoils your day like a good case of death.
Adds an exciting new element to breakfast, doesn't it?
Posted on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010
It's a boring day for Bullet Sunday, but here it comes...
• Read. It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Curious George. It was George who ignited my life-long love of monkeys, and his books remain some of my favorites of all time (the best being Curious George Goes to the Hospital. For this reason, I was happy to see that the Library of Congress was using him to promote reading with a series of cool ads...
Books come and go, but the classics are forever.
• Digital. As a long-time fan of comic books, there's something... wrong... with the idea of reading them digitally on an iPad or computer screen instead of the wonderful tactile experience of flipping through the pages of a book. But, after downloading a bunch of freebies on my mom's iPad using the Comixology app, I have to say... I'm almost convinced. I'm growing to love the effortless navigation, brilliant colors, and distraction-free panel-by-panel "Guide View" that leads you through the stories. As if that weren't enough, you can store a lot of comics on a digital device, which beats having to lug around stacks of books and finding room to store them all...
However... pricing and availability sucks ass.
Take for example the acclaimed Vertigo series Y: The Last Man. I've never read the series, but have always wanted to. The first issue was FREE on Comixology so I snapped it up and was immediately hooked. I wanted more. So I click on the "Full Series" button only to find this...
WTF?!? They have just THREE issues of a SIXTY issue series... FOR A DOLLAR-NINETY-NINE EACH!! Even if the entire series was available, who is going to pay $120 when you can get PHYSICAL COPIES of all ten trade paperback volumes for $90? Heck, you can get all the OVERSIZED DELUXE HARDCOVER volumes for $100. This is insanity. Nobody wants to pay more for less. No printing. No shipping costs. No distribution. No retailer markup. No resale value. Nothing extra or special. Except the price, which just sucks. I would gladly pay $60 for the entire digital series, I may even pay $90, which is what the trade paperbacks would cost me. But $120? Screw that. Especially since there's no guarantee they'll ever release all the issues for digital sale in the first place. If this is the future of publishing, count me out. EPIC FAIL!
• Emmy. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Betty White won an Emmy for her hilarious guest host performance on Saturday Night Live...
To this day, I remain astounded at how she cut no corners... she appeared in every sketch, plus an SNL Short, plus all the MacGruber interludes plus Weekend Update. Truly one of the hardest working people in show business (she just signed on for a TWO-book deal!), this is Betty's fifth Emmy win and she deserved every bit of it. As always, I can't wait to see what she'll do next.
• Miyazaki. Good news for fans of Hayao Miyazaki (perhaps the greatest animator in history). Despite saying he was going to retire years ago, a recent interview revealed that he has no plans to retire. In fact, he's planning two films and is musing over a sequel to his underrated gem, Porco Rosso...
When I flew to L.A. and met up with Howard for a rare live appearance of Miyazaki-san discussing his career, I thought it was a kind of "retrospective farewell," and am happier than words could express that this is not the case. Next up, Karigurashi no Arietti (The Borrower Arrietty) based on Mary Norton's 1952 novel The Borrowers...
If there's anything you can rely on, it's that this movie will be yet another awesome Miyazaki work of art.
• Eggs. My fried egg sandwich was delicious. So far so good... but salmonella can take up to three days to incubate, so I could have a diarrhea explosion any minute now. I'll keep you posted.
Annnnd... I'm spent. This is going to be a loooooong week.
Posted on Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Thanks to nasty side-effects from prescribed drugs I was given when I was younger, I've been sliding into a nice pile of debt over the past five years. Now that I'm "cured," I finally got a loan so I can pay off my massive stack of medical bills.
After depositing the money into my bank account, I paused so I could pretend I was rich for a few minutes. It didn't suck. I sat there daydreaming of all the amazingly cool things I could do with that pile of cash, and couldn't wipe the smile off my face.
Then I wrote the checks to pay my medical bills and was snapped back to reality.
When all was said and done, I ended up having a mind-boggling $464 left over. Apparently a past payment was credited wrong or something. If I were smart, I'd have stuck the money in my savings account, long since depleted. Or perhaps put it towards a loan payment.
Instead I spent $599 on this...
I've always wanted an ultra-wide-angle lens, but I could never justify spending the money. If I have that kind of cash laying around, I'd rather spend it traveling somewhere cool. But I am already traveling to "somewhere cool" when I go on vacation in eleven days. So I decided I'd just blow the money on something I can't afford before my loan payments start and I really can't afford it.
I'll try not to think about that, and instead focus on how having this lens will make me enjoy my vacation even more. It's the little things that make life worth living, after all.
Or so I keep hearing.
Personally, I'd rather have the big pile of cash.
Posted on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
Today was an incredibly challenging day, as all the things I need to do my job ended up failing... internet... fax... voicemail... pudding... everything... it was disastrous.
Especially the pudding. I took a tub of my beloved Snack-Pack Chocolate for my traditional afternoon treat only to find that it wasn't sealed properly. So my pudding was all dried out and totally un-pudding-like. I thought about stabbing it with a pencil and licking it like a Tootsie-Pop to get my fix, but I didn't want to get some kind of stale-pudding-related-disease, so I reluctantly threw it out.
Ultimate Snack-Pack FAIL!
I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
There's a lot of FAIL! going around now-a-days.
With every passing day, I detest FOX News more and more. It's not because their "news" is so heavily biased and filled with exaggeration and lies... it seems like all mainstream media "news" today is tainted in one way or another. It's because they consistently and constantly claim to be fair and balanced while they're pushing their obvious political agenda... THAT is was pisses me off. But what's even worse is that their viewers actually believe it.
At least once a week here in redneck rural America I either overhear or am drawn into a conversation because of some outlandish shit that FOX News has unleashed. This past weekend, it was the outrage over possibilities of terrorist funds being used to build the Islamic community center and mosque planned two blocks away from Ground Zero on private property. Maybe it's true. If it is true, I don't like the idea of terrorist money infiltrating American lives any more than anybody at FOX News does... but the heavy bias at FOX leaves a lasting impression that this is typical of Islamic endeavors and all Muslims are secret terrorists, which is total bullshit, of course.So imagine my non-shock when I watched The Daily Show last night, only to learn that FOX News itself has been funded by THE SAME SOURCE they're so pissed off about with the "not-so-Ground-Zero-mosque"...
I'd hold my breath waiting for FOX News to get all "fair and balanced" and explode with outrage that FOX News has terrorist ties, but I don't fancy the idea of suffocating to death.
The Daily Show's inescapable conclusion that FOX News is either EVIL or STUPID seems solid.
I am embracing the very real possibility that they're both.
I don't care if people watch FOX News. If that's where they choose to get their "news" because it best aligns with their needs, more power to them. I just wish more of the people devoted to the station would question what they learn there rather than accept everything as the "fair and balanced" reporting they're being sold. Like ANY news source, nothing should be taken as gospel.
Especially when the people providing the information which shapes your viewpoint are evil and/or stupid.
Posted on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
I woke up at 4:30 this morning because I had work that needed to get done. It was an unavoidable consequence of all the technical difficulties that plagued me yesterday. Needless to say, it made for a very long day today.
Now that it's over and it's pushing midnight, all I want to do is sleep.
Or maybe write a blog entry.
Nah, I wanna sleep...
So if you will excuse me, I am going to crawl into a box of Advil PM and pass out now.
Posted on Thursday, August 26th, 2010
The internet is all abuzz over Taylor Lautner filing a lawsuit against an RV dealership because they didn't deliver a $300,000 custom trailer to his movie set on time. For people (like me) who don't give a crap about the Twilight movies, Taylor Lautner is the "Jacob" of that whole "Team Edward vs. Team Jacob" debate that has every teenage girl's panties in a bunch. Apparently he's like a werewolf but he can change anytime, not just when the moon is full. Or something like that. I dunno. All I do know is that in those movie ads he hangs out with a bunch of other guys and they all take their shirts off a lot...
Now, on one hand, breach of contract is a breach of contract. If the RV dealership said they would deliver something on time and didn't, well, they're in breach of contract. Legally, Taylor Lautner has every right to sue.
On the other hand, shit happens. Maybe the gold-plated toilet Taylor wanted wasn't delivered to the dealership on time, and it's not their fault they're late. Maybe the person installing the diamond-studded bumper on the trailer got sick and had to go to the hospital. Maybe the platinum coating on the hubcaps needed to be polished up before they could deliver the thing. We just don't know. Because shit happens.
But surely the movie studio could get Lautner a substitute trailer for a few days until his $300,000 dream-home-on-wheels arrives. It's not like the guy wasn't going to have a place to stay. And it's not like the RV dealership was grossly negligent and gave him a motorhome with exposed wiring in the crystal chandelier hanging in the shower so he got electrocuted or something horrible like that... they're just late.
Which makes Taylor Lautner kind of a douchebag diva here.
Apparently now that he's a big-ass star, the universe is supposed to bow to his whims. Shit happens, but it doesn't get to happen to him. He's too important. He's too special. He's too deserving. You don't fuck with Taylor Lautner or you get your ass sued.
Something tells me that Taylor Lautner has forgotten who he is. Where he came from. What it's like to be merely human.
He's gone full-on Hollywood douchebag.
Taylor, dude, you were fucking "Shark Boy" in The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D!
You don't go from being "Shark Boy" to suing people for "emotional distress" because your $300,000 RV is late to your movie set... unless your intention is to make people hate your spoiled ass. The internet is cruel and unforgiving that way.
Something also tells me we won't be seeing a sequel... a Shark Man and Lava Woman, if you will... any time soon. Taylor Lautner is just too big a star for something like that now.
What a darn shame.
Posted on Friday, August 27th, 2010
For a company that makes millions of dollars off the advertising you serve up on every page of your site, I would have thought that you would be smarter about how you do your business. I mean, sure you don't know dick about privacy concerns for your users, but I'd think you'd have a clue when it came to your bread and butter. Anything less would make you fucking stupid.
Apparently you're fucking stupid.
When you sign up for Facebook, one of the first things you have to do is tell Facebook whether you are a man or a woman, whether you're interested in men or women (sexually, I'd imagine), and why the hell you're stupid enough to sign up for Facebook in the first place. My profile looks like this...
And there you have it. I am a man who is interested in women and looking for friendship on Facebook.
I'm "looking for friendship" because you forced me to pick something, and you don't have a checkbox for "I'm not looking for a damn thing, I'm only here because I want to keep in touch with people I know are here on Facebook."
I am not looking for "dating" or a "relationship" because I have no interest in online dating. None. I am not looking for "networking" because I think that's a stupid buzzword that basically means "I'm looking for people I can exploit for personal gain" (and while this may be true, it's not something I want to announce to the entire internet).
NOW... since I have made it very clear that I am NOT interested in dating or finding a relationship through Facebook, would you mind explaining why I see these skanky whores plastered on every fucking page?
WTF? I've told you why I'm here. Or, more to the point, why I'm not here for. Do you think I'm going to change my mind? That I'm going to take a look at some tongue-thrusting piece of eye candy and suddenly decide I want to start a relationship with her? Really? I mean... maybe I'd change my mind if there were additional options as to why I'm here...
But since there's not an option for "I'm looking for a piece of skanky ass to have a one-night-stand with"... what's your excuse? I'm putting my money on "BECAUSE YOU'RE FUCKING STUPID!"
After finally getting tired of being distracted by skanky whores on Facebook, I've started to mark all those ads as OFFENSIVE because I'm OFFENDED that Facebook is so fucking stupid as to serve up personalized ads that I've specifically stated I'm not interested in...
I figure if I mark enough of these things as OFFENSIVE they will eventually get the hint and stop pestering me with them.
So what did I get today? This...
Apparently, the reason those ads for skanky whores are "offending" to me is because they're in English. Switch them over to Spanish, and everything's all good.
That's a whole new level of dumbass right there.
I just don't know how much longer I can patronize a website where the people running it are so fucking stupid that they can't target advertising properly... despite knowing everything there is to know about people from when they fill out their profiles. It's like trying to sell a T-bone steak to a vegetarian when they've fucking told you that they don't eat meat and are wearing a T-shirt that says "MEAT IS MURDER!" How much of a fucking clue do you need?
Anyway, in return for telling you how to improve your revenue by serving ads to your users they might actually respond to, I'll just say YOU ARE WELCOME!
Dave2 from Blogography
UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters who pointed out that you don't have to check anything at all. It actually works! I'm now a non-sexual who is looking for nothing! Which, given the current state of my love-life, is about right.
Though I still think it's incredibly stupid that Facebook can't manage to use the information it has readily available to serve relevant ads. That's online marketing 101.
Posted on Saturday, August 28th, 2010
It was five years ago.
But it seems like only yesterday I was on my way to Asia as Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on the Gulf States. At the time I remember being sick with worry as I boarded the plane, not knowing whether I would ever see New Orleans again. Since it's one of my favorite cities on earth, this was a horrible thought. The flight time to my first stop in Seoul, Korea was nearly 13 hours, which meant that Katrina would hit The Big Easy while I was in the air. There was no way for me to keep up with what was happening while in-flight, so all I could do was cling to the hope that some miracle would occur, and the hurricane would fade away before it ever made landfall.
But of course there was no miracle. At least not a miracle like that.
The struggle in The Gulf to recover from Katrina is ongoing.
Despite a number of people who believe that we should give it up. "Most of New Orleans is under sea level and can't be saved!" they say. "The city is in the bottom of a bowl and will be flooded again!" they cry. "Stop spending tax dollars on a losing battle!" they scream.
And yet... modern-day engineering can change the face of the planet. Technology exists which can accomplish those miracles. The battle over natural disasters cannot be won, but it's getting easier not to lose. Except it costs money, and cities like New Orleans are poor.
You'd think the same school of thought that calls for the abandonment of New Orleans would also apply to a city like San Francisco which is plagued by earthquakes, but it doesn't. Probably because San Francisco is one of this nation's wealthiest cities. Sadly, it's all about the money, as usual.
Though how people can put a dollar value on people is beyond me.
Laissez les bons temps rouler, New Orleans.
Posted on Sunday, August 29th, 2010
This Bullet Sunday is my last before I leave this Saturday. Bullet Sundays 198, 199, and 200 will be written while I'm on vacation. I'm happy just thinking about it. But happiness, as always, is tempered by sadness...
• Dreaming Machines. I was profoundly sad to learn that the brilliant animation director Satoshi Kon had passed away earlier this week from pancreatic cancer. As the man behind Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, and his brilliant tour de force of the imagination Paprika, this is a terrible loss to Japanese anime fans around the world.
"The 24-bit eggplant will be analyzed!"
••• IF YOU READ ONLY ONE THING FROM THIS ENTRY, PLEASE READ THIS! •••
Even if you dislike Satoshi Kon's movies. Even if you don't like Japanese animation. Even if you have never heard of Satoshi Kon. Even if you don't care about any of this... you must... MUST read the translation of Kon-san's final words, which his family generously posted on his blog. Because when it comes to facing mortality with a grace and dignity above and beyond what you could ever dream a human being is capable of, this is it. Satoshi Kon's letter is about as inspiring a message as you'll find, and his words are some of the most beautiful I have ever read.
I am heartsick over the fact that he did not live to finish the production of his latest film, Yume Miru Kikai ("Dreaming Machines") which was sure to be yet another work of genius. I am hopeful that Masao Maruyama of Madhouse Animation manages to "figure everything out" and complete the film in Mr. Kon's absence. Given their past collaborations, I have ever confidence in Maruyama-san to carry out Satoshi Kon's vision and create a movie worthy of his legacy.
• Paprika. And just because I can't express in mere words what it means to lose a man of such boundless imagination and sublime vision as Mr. Satoshi Kon, here is the crazy-ass trailer and genius opening credits for his film Paprika. Crank up the volume, because the stunning soundtrack by Mr. Kon's frequent collaborator, composer Susumu Hirasawa, is worth a listen...
Rumor has it that director Wolfgang Petersen (The NeverEnding Story, In the Line of Fire, Outbreak, etc.) is working on a live-action version of the film. Heaven only knows how he'll manage it, as Paprika has imagery that doesn't seem as though it would work in "the real world"). Personally, I think a live-action adaptation of Paprika has already been made with Christopher Nolan's Inception, which is a very different film, but operates along the same ideas.
Rest in peace, Kon-san, you will be missed.
• Alas, MacGruber. One of my favorite performers on the current Saturday Night Live line-up, Will Forte, has announced he will not be returning for another season of the show. Now, I'm firmly of the opinion that SNL started tanking after Eddie Murphy left, and then went on a full-on decline once Phil Hartman left... but I still watched because there were occasional flashes of brilliance. Will Forte was responsible for many of them...
So long, MacGruber... you will be missed.
• Unloading. If I've depressed you with my first three bullets, I'm sorry. For a dose of funny to cheer you back up, check out the Madge & Dave podcast where they unload on pop culture with style. Well... not so much "style" per se... but they do unload.
• Booky. DK Publishing produces some of my favorite books. Their visual travel guides are the benchmark by which I judge all others. Their visual history titles redefine how interesting our past can be presented. Their visual art and architecture volumes can make a fascinating subject even more amazing. But my favorite thing they do is their pop culture visual guides for such worthy subjects as comic books, television & movies, toys like LEGO, and... STAR WARS! Their amazing reference works and brilliant cut-away guides has added depth to the Star Wars universe in more ways than a fan could hope for. Their latest visual title is sheer genius... Star Wars: Year by Year...
What makes this book so great is that it's about the things both surrounding and involving the Star Wars films. Influences, comics, games, books, interviews, production notes, television shows, posters... anything and everything... all taken year by year. It's a fascinating look at all things Star Wars that no fan can miss.
And now... I'm off to try an fit 16 days of clothes into a suitcase...
Posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010
Food Network has a show called The Best Thing I Ever Ate where they invite their own network "food stars" along with famous chefs to talk about (surprise!) the best thing they've ever eaten. Each episode starts with a theme like "Hot & Spicy" or "Sliced" or "Crunchy" or "Totally Unexpected" and then everybody has to pick a "best thing" to match. It's a surprisingly engrossing show, because the answers run the gamut from sublimely extravagant to dead simple... from impossibly expensive to dirt cheap... from around the world to around the block. It's a fun show to watch, especially if you're a foodie like me.
The episode I saw tonight was the most interesting show so far. The theme was "Last Supper," where everybody had to choose their final meal as if they were going to die once they ate it.
After reading Satoshi Kon's touching goodbye letter to his family and friends yesterday, death has been on my mind lately, so the topic seemed apt.
My last meal would be here...
It's the birthplace of Fettucini Alfredo... which is Alfredo alla Scrofa Ristorante in Rome. I had eaten Fettucini Alfredo many times before I first came to this restaurant in December of 2000 but, once I ate the original, I realized that I had never really eaten it before. My meal was so good that I ended up eating here for both lunch and dinner the next day, and dinner the day after that. I couldn't get enough, and was thankful that I'd be leaving soon so I didn't end up with an Alfredo-induced heart attack.
After my final supper at Alfredos, I'd walk to a neighborhood gelateria for some authentic Italian stracciatella gelato. I think then that I'd be ready to die. Or have a triple bypass. One of those.
Five days and counting...
Posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
I have been pretty much killing myself day and night so I can get caught up with work before I go on vacation. There's entirely too much to be done and not nearly enough time to do it. The problem is that such a harsh schedule is starting to take its toll. Today I got confused and somehow managed to merge two separate projects into a single task. Never mind that they are unrelated in most every way, my exhausted mind is starting to hallucinate or something.
The only thing that keeps me going is the thought that soon it will all end... one way or another.
The only question is whether or not I'll be dead by then...