Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011
It's on. Bring it.
My DaveToon character, Bad Monkey, was created to be the crazy-ass evil alter-ego of Lil' Dave (which you can read about here). From the beginning, he's done everything to live up to his name... he drinks, he swears, he smokes, he kicks people in the nuts, he smuggles cocaine, he smuggles weapons, he even craps his pants. And, while there's no photographic evidence, I'm pretty certain he does drugs while partying with hookers and porn stars.
And then today as I was surveying the latest damage by Charlie Sheen, it suddenly occurred to me...
Holy crap! My monkey isn't "bad" by accident... his role model is Charlie Sheen!
He's got tiger blood and Adonis DNA! And that's okay.
Because I'm tired of pretending like my monkey isn't special. I'm tired of pretending like my monkey's not bitchin'... a total frickin' rock star from Mars... and people can't figure him out, they can't process my monkey. I don't expect them to. You can't process Bad Monkey with a normal brain.
Charlie Sheen is Winning. So, hello... BANG! Winning! Bad Monkey is obviously winning. Duh!
I've to get me some of that new Charlie Sheen drug and sprinkle it on my corn flakes in the morning so I can be winning too. Apparently it doesn't show up on a drug test, so it's not like there's any down-side.
Well, unless you're a fan of Two and a Half Men.
Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011
Today didn't feel like a Tuesday at all.
Oh... that's because it's actually Wednesday.
Well that sure explains a lot. The problem is that I'm about two days behind in my work, so I should have spent my day wishing it was Monday.
Except I hate Mondays, so I guess that means I really should have spent my time wishing it was Sunday. But then I'd be dreading that tomorrow was Monday, so I guess that doesn't work either.
I suppose I could go for it being Saturday, except the day is almost over, so there wouldn't be much point wasting a Saturday like that.
Friday it is then.
Except it's going to be Thursday in about two minutes, which means tomorrow is going to be Friday by the time I finish this blog entry.
Wait. How in the hell did I just end up losing a week, and what the fuck happened to Tuesday?
Posted on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011
For a day that had so many things going oh so terribly wrong, something unexpected happened to make all the suffering worthwhile.I've blogged before about my love of all things Matt & Kim. They are far and away one of my favorite bands, and I have been trying for years to see them in concert. Because if there's one thing that Matt & Kim are known for beyond the awesome music they make, it's their live performances. If you weren't a fan before seeing them play, you would most certainly be one after. They have a joy and passion for playing music that makes their shows an experience to be savored...
But, alas, it has not yet come to pass. Every time they've played in Seattle, I'm away. Any time I'm in a city other than Seattle, it seems as though I've just missed them. And any time I've made plans to see them, life gets in the way. I've purchased tickets to see them perform three times (once in Seattle, once in Austin, and again in New York)... but every time I was diverted and couldn't make it.
Either somebody up there really doesn't want me to see Matt & Kim, or I'm just horribly unlucky.
Lil' Whall PC has no sympathy for Lil' Dave Mac's pain. And people wonder why I hate Windows!
So you can imagine my non-surprise when I went through their brand new Sidewalks tour schedule and saw that no dates for Seattle were listed. But then something caught my eye. There were still some dates left in their current European tour. Including March 23 in London...
Which happens to be the day I have an overnight layover at London's Heathrow Airport on my way back home.
And so now, after years of chasing them all over the USA trying to catch them live, I have a ticket to see Matt & Kim in the UK because I just happen to be in the neighborhood.
I wonder what's going to go wrong this time?
Show canceled? Trip canceled? Weather delay? Public transportation strike? Venue closing? AIRPLANE EXPLODING?
I guess we'll see. Maybe this is finally my moment. But if something does go wrong, I'm pretty sure I'll be blaming Matt & Kim. Surely after years of effort on my part, it can't be my fault that things are going so terribly wrong.
Posted on Friday, March 4th, 2011
As I've said a couple of times now, I have no use for an iPad. My iPhone and MacBook do everything I need, and an iPad would just be one more thing to carry. Sure I bought one. I kinda had to. I'm an iOS developer and needed to update app graphics for some of my clients so they work on iPad. But after I was done, I gave it to my mom. She loves it. For her, it is truly a "Magical and Revolutionary New Device," just as Apple said.
I recently started composing music again.
I used to write quite a bit of music when I was in video production. It saved me lots of time over collaborating with a REAL musician, which meant I could move on to my next project faster. Alas, eventually digital editing tools came along that made my kind of video work redundant. I stopped doing video projects, which meant I stopped making music as well.
But recently I got bit by the music bug again, and have been using Apple's "SoundTrack" and "Garage Band" apps to bang out some tunes on my Mac with an old keyboard I have. It's far from an ideal solution. I have to "fake" instruments like guitars, drums, brass, and woodwinds by "playing" them on the keyboard or using pre-made loops because I can't play them very well in real life. I can play keyboard decently. Electronic drums I'm okay at. I have played bass guitar a few times and can manage. Barely. Sax and clarinet I used to play well, but suck at now. Given my menial musical talent, I don't have much choice but to faux compose on a computer. But I manage and it works.And then I saw Apple's "iPad2 Event" and nearly crapped my pants.
They demoed the new iPad Garage Band app, and it's jaw-dropping amazing. I'd go so far as to say "fucking astounding," but I don't want to oversell things here.
Except it really is fucking astounding...
For $4.99 (FOUR DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!) you get such a jaw-dropping array of musical tools with such unprecedented interactivity and functionality that you would have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on real life instruments and gear to even get even close to what Apple is offering. But they don't stop there. For instruments you might not play very well, they include "smart instruments" which assist you in working with them. PLUS an amp with stompboxes (for incorporating real guitars) AND a frickin' eight-track recording studio...
The most amazing part is how much thought went into it. It's like Garage Band was designed by actual musicians who would know what's needed to make an app like this useful. Like using the iPad's accelerometer to sense how hard you're tapping a piano key or a drum. Like using iPad's multi-touch surface to do things you couldn't even do with a real instrument. Like including properties of actual instruments so their virtual counterparts play as expected (chord dampening!).
For the music hobbyist who wants access to a "home studio" full of instruments and multi-track recording equipment (like me!) the iPad is more than a frickin' bargain... It's almost free. $500 for the hardware plus $5 for a crap-load of exceptional instruments AND a recording studio? I mean, holy shit. How can I NOT want an iPad now?
It's like the Mac version is just a clutzy imitator, and THIS is was what Garage Band was meant to be all along.
Of course, me talking about it can't possibly explain just how wonderful the app is. If you're an amateur musician... or even somebody who just likes the idea of giving music a try, you owe it to yourself to watch the Apple keynote video here (the Garage Band stuff starts
As for the iPad2 itself? It's nice. It finally includes the front-facing FaceTime camera THAT IT SHOULD HAVE HAD ALL ALONG. There's other good new stuff too, and the bump in speed and graphics will make more complex apps function better (as well as opening the door for even more incredible stuff in the future). But the miraculous thing about the iPad is not its specs. It's the extraordinary experience of using one that gives Apple the edge. This is something that competitors simply don't seem to understand. It doesn't matter if you have a tablet with a faster processor or more memory or more ports than iPad... you're not going to make a superior experience to iPad in hardware alone. It's the tight integration of hardware to software when married to truly brilliant apps like GarageBand that makes an iPad an iPad.
It's almost frightening to think of where Apple maight take us next.
Posted on Saturday, March 5th, 2011
Today started out pretty crappy at work. Then I switched to a project I actually enjoyed and things were looking up. Then I received an email with the most incredible news you can imagine and was overwhelmed with awesomeness. Which means this has ended up being one of the best days ever. Now I don't want to go to sleep and have the day end, because tomorrow can't help but be crappy by comparison.
Unless... I don't suppose it's too much to hope that this trend continues?
Because if Elizabeth Hurley shows up tomorrow morning with a million dollars and a can of whipping cream, I just don't know if I could take it. 2011 has been a pretty shitty year so far, and being inundated with amazing things makes it seem as though anything is possible...
Here's wishing you days filled with awesomeness too!
Posted on Sunday, March 6th, 2011
After the sheer awesomeness of my Saturday, I did the best I could to get through Bullet Sunday.
• She's a Wonder. And so the most perfect woman on earth, Elizabeth Hurley, has been tapped for a role in David E. Kelly's Wonder Woman project. Apparently she'll be playing Wonder Woman's far more beautiful and classy arch-nemesis, Veronica Cale. I, of course, think she would be perfect as Wonder Woman herself, hard as it will be for anyone to fill Linda Carter's red boots. She was Wonder Woman. Even with Elizabeth Hurley, I have to say I am still very, very nervous about the show. If David E. Kelly can resist the urge to add his stupid-ass Allie McBeal craziness to the mix, it might have a chance...
• Pretty Cool. Gotta hand it to Miley Cyrus, she handled her guest-hosting on Saturday Night Live like a champ last night. She not only managed to get in a few digs on Lindsay Lohan, but spent a lot of time poking fun at herself as well. Of course, what every SNL fan was waiting for was seeing if she would make an appearance on Vanessa Bayer's ongoing "Miley Cyrus Show" skit. Surprisingly, she did... as Justin Bieber!
I was secretly hoping that Billy Ray Cyrus would make an appearance as himself here, but Jason Sudeikis did his usual hysterical impersonation. A couple sketches fell flat for me (The Sound of Music, really?)... but overall it was a pretty funny episode and Miley did a great job. I still miss Hannah Montana.
• Upgrade. Microsoft has an entire website devoted to killing off their piece of shit web browser, Internet Explorer 6...
Their suggestion is to have you upgrade to Internet Explorer 8.
If I may be so bold, a suggestion: bypass Internet Explorer 8 and upgrade directly to an even better browser...
Or, don't stop upgrading there... get rid of Windows and step up to Macintosh! It's so much nicer up here!
• Downgrade. Meeee-ow! My review of the latest "upgrade" to Twitter for iPhone...
Developers always seem to play the victim by saying things like "Well, nobody wants to pay for apps anymore, so we use ads. SOMEBODY has to pay, so cut us a break!" — And that's a very good point... except you can't expect people to be happy when the app's functionality is impaired by the ads. Either find a way to insert ads in a way that's not going to shit all over your app, or just charge for the damn thing.
• Go for the Gold. One last thing before I go... this morning I discovered Rold Gold "Everything Bagel" Pretzels. Deeeelicious. They kind of reminds me of Chex Mix, but more subtle and without the fishy Worcestershire sauce to mess things up. Still really good flavor though. This is a great find because it's really tough to find the Snyders of Hanover flavors I like around here...
And there's Bullet Sunday for you. Until next week... stay classy, blogosphere.
Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
I live on a rural road with no sidewalks. It's not very pedestrian-friendly, but its home.
Tonight as I was heading home from work, a jogger was running towards me on my side of the road. Since there was a car coming in the other direction, I had two options... 1) Run over the jogger. 2) Slow down until the other car passed and I had room to get around the jogger.
Foolishly, I chose option two.
Foolishly, because as I slowed down the jogger ran by and spit on my car.
Clearly, I am doing this angry driver thing all wrong.
Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
I've been keeping tabs on the Kilauea Volcano eruption in Hawaii quite closely. Not because I own property there or anything, but because in the three times I've been to The Big Island I drove up the volcano and didn't see shit.
Well, that's not entirely true. The last time I was there, it was venting vog (volcanic fog). Which I guess is kinda cool. But it's a far cry from lava shooting 80 feet into the air like what's happening now.
Here's a photo I took when I last visited in 2008...
And here's the Kilauea Volcano today...
Okay, I exaggerate. That's a photo of a nuclear explosion. But still, why can't the cool shit happen while I'm there? How awesome would it be to be standing on a volcano when it erupts?
Maybe one day I'll get lucky.
Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011
Just one week left.
A part of me wishes I had an extra week to work on this project. But that would lead to another week. Then another week. Then another. At some point, you just have to let go and move on to the next one.
Sometimes deadlines are good.
Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011
There's never enough time to do all the stuff I want to do.
I've got a pile of DVDs that go unwatched because I don't have the time. I've got stacks of comics which sit unread because I don't have the time. I've got a shelf full of books which are gathering dust because I don't have the time. My DVR is full to bursting with television shows because I don't have the time. And so on. And so on.
But the worst offense of all is the eight video games that sit shrink-wraped and unplayed because I don't have the time. And now I'm told that my copy of the awesomeness that is Dragon Age 2 is arriving. This wouldn't be so bad, except it's going to be really hard to toss it on the pile when A) I loved the previous game, Dragon Age: Origins, and B) It looks incredible...
But, alas, I don't have the time.
And it gets worse.
One of the greatest games ever made is Portal. I love that game so much that I would marry my in-game Weighted Companion Cube tomorrow if it were legal to do so...
And in April, Valve is releasing the most eagerly anticipated game ever... Portal 2! As awesome as the first game was, the sequel looks to be taking things to an entirely new level. There's all kinds of new challenges to be found, and the game looks amazing...
How can I not play that?
I wonder if I can get a note from my doctor to get out of work on April 19th? Because, obviously, not playing
I wish I had time to go to the doctor.
Posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011
It's now 2:00am. As I have dozens of friends in Japan, I've been staying awake scouring the internet for information on what might be happening. Since communications have been interrupted or cut-off, only a handful have gotten the word out that they are okay. The news makes it sound as though Tokyo is just shaken, but eyewitness reports from the city tell another story. Some buildings are badly damaged or even collapsing. Traffic is at a standstill. People have been seriously hurt from falling furniture or debris.
And then there's the Miyagi prefecture north of Tokyo which is under siege by tsunami. The images are horrific and heartbreaking. I know of a family living in a small city south of Sendai, where the damage has been extensive. I have no idea what's happening with them. All I can do is hope that they are okay.
I sit here waiting, and the dread is starting to pile up.
Partly because I know that a lot of people have lost their lives today. Partly because tens of thousands of people are most certainly unaccounted for. Partly because my friends undoubtedly have family and friends they can't reach. Partly because people are going to be rebuilding their lives during a world-wide recession. Partly because the effects from such tragic events will take years... if not decades... to recover from.
But my dread mostly comes from wondering how the evil fucking people on this earth are going to take advantage of this terrible situation.
Is Pat Robertson or some other opportunistic piece of shit asshole going to go on television and say that the earthquake is the fault of the Japanese people because they're not Christian enough? Because they don't condemn homosexuality strongly enough? Because they have temples built by faiths that don't have Jesus in them?
Given Robertson's reprehensible remarks about Haiti, New Orleans, and a multitude of other people and places, I suppose it's inevitable that he attack the Japanese as well. I guess this is how he makes his "followers" feel superior so they'll send him money for his "ministry." Send Pat Robertson money to do "God's work" and God will spare you from a fate worse than the evil people being punished in the news today.
People suffering in the midst of great tragedy deserve more than to be vilified and crucified by some crazy-ass piece of shit with a false-prophet complex who claims he speaks for God. This evil, manipulative, disgusting, vile, lying bastard can't die and go to his "hell" fast enough.
So we can move on to an even more evil, manipulative, disgusting, vile, lying bastard.
Because the opportunity to exploit tragedy for money never seems to go out of style.
UPDATE: Now this is how a religious leader should react... as a voice of compassion...
Dharamsala, H.P., India, 12 March 2011 - In a letter sent on 12 March to H.E. Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his shock and sadness on hearing the news of yesterday's earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. His Holiness offered his prayers for those who have lost their lives and offered his sympathy and condolences to their families and others affected by it. He expressed that we must all be grateful that the Japanese Government's disaster preparedness measures have prevented the death and destruction from being much worse. Finally, as a Buddhist monk who daily recites the Heart Sutra, His Holiness felt it would be very good if Japanese Buddhists were to recite the Heart Sutra on this occasion. Such recitation may not only be helpful for those who have lost their precious lives, but may also help prevent further disasters in the future. Prayers to recite the Heart Sutra one hundred thousand times were being organized in Dharamsala for this purpose.
More crazy Pat Robertson crap on Blogography...
August 23, 2005. I try to figure out why Pat Robertson is such a fucking moron.
January 6, 2006. I tell Pat Robertson to shut the fuck up.
June 25, 2007. I surmise that it's actually Pat Robertson who is a tool of the devil.
January 10, 2010. I wonder how people allow themselves to be manipulated by the clinically insane.
December 23, 2010. I consider therapy because Pat Robertson actually said something lucid and intelligent.
Posted on Saturday, March 12th, 2011
I don't have time to blog tonight because I have to change all my clocks as I "spring forward" for stupid fucking Daylight Saving Time...
It's the year TWO-THOUSAND-ELEVEN... isn't it time that we step out of the Dark Ages and stop dicking around with the clocks? We've got like... ELECTRICITY and THE LIGHT BULB now.
Wasn't President Obama supposed to revoke this shit?
In 2012 I'm voting for whichever presidential candidate promises to get rid of Daylight Saving Time. And I don't care if it's a stupid whore like Sarah Palin, a bigoted whore like Mike Huckabee, or a hypocritical whore like Newt Gingrich. I DO care if it's a fucking brain-dead whore like Michele Bachmann... but I'd still vote for the dumbass if she'd stop this idiotic DST insanity. Sure the country would be irreparably fucked up for four years, but at least I wouldn't have to adjust my internal clock twice annually while waiting for armageddon.
Annnnnd... now it's time to lose an hour MORE of sleep.
Posted on Sunday, March 13th, 2011
I've got a suitcase to pack, so this is going to be a quick one.
• Arigatou Gozaimasu Thanks to everybody for their kind concern for my friends in Japan. All but one has been accounted for, though it's likely they've got other things on their mind right now. The situation is pretty dire over the Pacific right now, as you might imagine. Fortunately, Doctors Without Borders (my favorite charity) is assisting in Japan (and around the world). If you'd like to help, you can visit the Doctors Without Borders website and donate. Even $5 will make a difference.
• Countdown. The final part of my project was completed this afternoon. Just three days until all will be revealed...
• Not a Cooking Show. The most important thing you're probably not listening to? That would be Hey! That's My Hummus! a podcast by my friends Faiqa and Shiny! She's Muslim. He's Jewish. Together they are welcome voices of reason in a world of insanity. It's well worth your time.
Delicious hummus photo by Paul Goyette
Annnnnd... next week they'll be a Very Special Bullet Sunday from Europe!
Posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011
Ask any web developer what the worst part of their job is, and they're almost certain to answer "writing hacks so pages display properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer." For years, Microsoft had a pile-of-shit browser that failed to render standard HTML properly. This means that every time you come up with a new design, you have to do a bunch of freaky shit... hacks, work-arounds, bug traps, etc... specific to Microsoft so that people using their crappy browser could view your web pages.
In recent years, Microsoft has gotten more proficient at making their dumbass browsers work better with web standards, but there are so many people using older versions of their bullshit software that it's still a problem even to this day (which is why Microsoft is begging people to upgrade).
Eventually, web designers built up a library of hacks that they could pop into designs that would handle all the Microsoft dumbassery. It wasn't an elegant solution, but it works. It works so well that I don't even think about it any more.
I never, ever thought that I would run across something that would be worse than the days I spent pulling my hair out at 2:00am trying to get a web page to display in Microsoft Internet Explorer.
I was wrong.
Welcome to Apple's iBooks...
When they first released iBooks, a lot of people were relieved to know that Apple had decided to use the existing ePub standard for their file format. This meant that the bazillion eBooks out there that were already in ePub format would work just fine in iBooks.
BECAUSE APPLE HAS SO HOPELESSLY FUCKED UP THE WAY ePUB DOCUMENTS ARE RENDERED THAT I FIND MYSELF LONGING FOR THE "GOOD OLD DAYS" OF DICKING AROUND WITH MICROSOFT INTERNET EXPLORER CODE!
I am not joking. Apple iBooks has so much incomprehensible shit going on that they should aspire to be Microsoft. In fact, Apple's iBooks team of 2011 could take lessons from the Microsoft Internet Explorer team of 2001 on how to comply with internet standards.
I have just spent SEVEN HOURS trying to get an ePub document to render properly in iBooks. And I'm still not there yet. I'm getting closer, but thanks to the totally fucked up way that iBooks dicks around with text when the "Full Justification" setting is on, I've still got a ways to go.
Apparently Apple has some magical document called iBookstore Asset Guide that is supposed to help, but the only way you can get it is to become a publishing partner with Apple. Yes, you read that right, in order to force Apple's piece-of-shit software to comply with OPEN STANDARDS, you have to get some kind of "secret document" not available to the general public.
It sure would be nice if Apple got the same kind of hatred-fueled uproar that Microsoft gets when they fuck up. Maybe then Apple would start listening to people, just like Microsoft was forced to.
In the meanwhile... fuck you, Apple. I thought I was done with this kind of hackery bullshit.
Posted on Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
"WHY DID YOU PULL IN SO CLOSE?!?? she screamed over the train siren.
"BECAUSE I NEED GAS, AND SINCE YOU PULLED UP BETWEEN PUMPS, THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I CAN REACH MY CAR WITH THE HOSE!" I screamed back.
"BUT NOW I CAN'T PULL OUT!!!" she yelled, pumping gas with one hand while putting her free hand on her hip in disgust.
"DOESN'T YOUR CAR GO IN REVERSE? IF IT DOESN'T, MAYBE YOU SHOULD PARK IN FRONT OF ONE PUMP INSTEAD OF TWO NEXT TIME!" I said, rolling my eyes into the back of my head.
"YOU DON'T GO TELLING ME HOW TO PARK!" she bellowed, wagging her finger at me.
"♬ FEELINGS! NOTHING MORE THAN FEELINGS! TRYING TO FORGET MY FEELINGS...
"YOU SHOULD HAVE WAITED BEFORE BLOCKING ME IN!" Now she's really mad. I guess nobody appreciates Morris Albert anymore?
"♬ FEEEEEELINGS! WHOA OH OH FEEEEEELINGS! ♬"
I'm sure everybody at the mini mart thought I was crazy, but singing "Feelings" at the top of my lungs was the only thing I could think of to keep me from telling this stupid bitch to go fuck herself.
I finished filling up my tank, grabbed my receipt, hopped in my car, then pulled away. She was still filling up her gas-guzzling SUV as I was pulling out of the parking lot. I'd like to say that she got to leave without learning how to drive in reverse, but another car was pulling in right after me.
It's stupid crap like this day after day that makes me want to stick my head in an oven.
Or sing "Feelings."
One or the other.
Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011
And the day has finally arrived.
Way back in May of last year, RW kindly invited me out to his place for a dinner featuring his delicious homemade pizza. Under a flawless blue sky while drinking beer and talking about nothing and everything, he mentioned his past work in the “zine scene” and his love of writing fiction. On the train back to my hotel that evening, again on the flight home the next day, then again on a near-daily basis for the next six months, one thought consumed me... I used to love writing stories, what happened?
Thus Thrice Fiction magazine was born. And since it was all RW's fault, I made him sign-on as co-conspirator and editor. It was, after all, the very least he could do.
You can learn all about it over at ThriceFiction.com! (and download it for FREE!)
You can also LIKE us on Facebook!
And now I have to finish packing my suitcase. One of my "favorite" things to do...
Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Thanks to everybody for their kind comments and support of Thrice Fiction. It was a lot of fun (and a lot of work!), so it's nice to see people enjoying it.
When it comes to my "literary" contributions, I wrote two stories.
One, called "Too Many Days" was written after everything else had been completed, as I wanted something to tie-in with the cover I had made. I've always been fascinated by the rise of the Roman Republic and the days before the Roman Empire, so it was a good opportunity to play around in that arena.
The second, called "The Exit Interview" was written just four days after RW and I had decided on a theme for the debut issue of Thrice. The first draft was very different than what eventually got used. Originally, it was about a genetic scientist who planned to come up with a toxin which would rid the world of anybody carrying any genetic traits she considered "undesirable." I worked very hard to make the lead character a woman which people would absolutely loathe. She was vile, evil, racist, bigoted trash. She discriminated against absolutely anybody which didn't fit the mold of what she considered to be an "acceptable" human. The twist at the end would be when some aliens came to earth and found her genetic makeup didn't live up to their standards.
Eventually, I decided I wanted a more complex story, and the whole "genetic master race" plot was streamlined to a simpler world domination plot. That way, I was able to add more elements and play with the idea of telling the story in reverse-order. I still left in hints of how the geneticist character was originally written... she seems to have an obsession with genetic defects, for example... but the more obvious "she is evil" elements were removed.
The idea for the story came while watching some health debate on television. In it, there was a woman who remarked that she was tired of her tax dollars going to pay for other people's health problems. To some extent, I agree. If somebody does something stupid and breaks their leg, why should my tax dollars have to pay for their dumbassery? But this woman wasn't talking about that. She was saying she "didn't want to pay for other people's sick kids because she was paying for her own kids."
Which is all fine and dandy when the extent of your kid's sickness is the flu or something.
But what about kids that have devastating health problems that your average family can never pay for... even if they have insurance? Should these kids be tossed aside to live miserable lives of pain and suffering for something that's not their fault? Or should society say "We're better than that!" and try to lend a hand and give them the best life they can have?
I would hope that everybody would vote for the latter, but I honestly don't know. Some people simply lack compassion (which, ironically, I consider to be the ultimate genetic defect).
The woman who "didn't want to pay for other people's sick kids" has apparently been blessed with (relatively) healthy children. But what if one of her kids had cancer? Or muscular dystrophy? Or cystic fibrosis? Or any number of other tragic diseases? I'd think that if her children had catastrophic health problems which she couldn't pay to care for, she might be singing a different tune.
For my story, I took this woman's argument to the extreme and concluded that, if she had her way, all these "sick kids" would be wiped from the face of the earth. She only wants there to be "perfect" healthy kids like hers so she doesn't have to pay extra taxes.
Sometimes reality is so much scarier than any fictional villain.
In a perfect world, charities and foundations, not taxes, would provide all the money needed to help people when they're struggling with overwhelming health problems. But we live in a far from perfect world, so sometimes society has to step up and say "We're better than that!" and pick up the slack.
Because the next "sick kid" may just be your own.
Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2011
Because I'm traveling on a restricted ticket, I ended up with an extended layover in London. Not that I'm complaining... I love London, and visit every chance I get (which would be a lot more often if the US Dollar wasn't rubbish against the British Pound). It's just that it's tough to be here when I don't have any personal time to hang out with friends that live in the area.
Hopefully next time.
Thanks to a patient taxi driver and London's excellent public transportation system, yesterday I managed to get a big chunk of the city's "Featured Spots" stamps collected from Gowalla. Then today before dinner I finished off the two remaining spots I needed. Some of the fringe locations (such as Wembley Stadium and the Prime Meridian of the World), will have to wait for next time, but I got all the biggies from the city and surrounds (you can click on them to see what they are)...
I maintain that Gowalla makes for an excellent travel guide when visiting larger cities, because the most popular tourist spots always seem to get "Featured" status. Out of the above stamps, I've been to these places multiple times. I admit it was kind of nice to be visiting them again not as a tourist, but as a collector! Thanks, Gowalla!
One place I haven't been to multiple times is the new Apple Store in Covent Gardens! It's the largest Apple Store on planet earth (at least until the New York Grand Central location is built). It's also incredibly beautiful, as Apple did an amazing job refurbishing the building. What I love most is how, from the outside, you can't really tell its an Apple Store at all...
Somebody just bought a new iPod!
No giant sign or anything... not even a glowing Apple logo... just elegance and class through and through. They discourage picture-taking inside, but Apple's official site has some beautiful photos you can look at.
The exact opposite of elegance and class would be the massive outpouring of tacky souvenir crap that's been unleashed in "honor" of the upcoming royal wedding. The stuff is everywhere. Plates, cups, notepads, stickers, cards, books, pencils, platters, postcards... you name it. I would not have been at all surprised if you could buy hemorrhoid cream with Prince William and Kate Middleton printed on the tube...
Something tells me this stuff doesn't have Her Majesty The Queen's approval.
I started out my day with the best breakfast in London at Pret...
It's heaven on a baguette!
The Egg & Roasted Tomatoes Baguette is so amazing that I ate a very light dinner last night so I'd be hungry enough to eat two. My biggest fear is that one day I'll come to London and they won't be making them anymore. For lunch I went back so I could have the Carrot & Humous Crunch Baguette. For dinner I went back yet again so I could have a Mozarella & Pesto Toastie. As usual, every single thing I've ever eaten at Pret has been delicious. And I love that they have so many vegetarian-friendly options. I keep hoping that Seattle will get a Pret, but in the USA it's just New York, DC, and Chicago for now.
Every trip to London I rave about how much I love the Johnston typeface which is used on all of the city's public transportation logos and signage. It's highly readable, yet somehow manages to be sublimely beautiful at the same time. Every time I see it, I fall in love all over again...
Hands-down my favorite sans-serif font of all time. If I ever redesign my blog, this is the typeface I'll be using.
The weather in London has been pretty much shit. It's been windy, cold, and rainy all day long. Seattle has a reputation for rain, but I've found London to be a much drearier place, weather-wise...
Still surprised when I hear tourists call this "London Bridge"... IT'S TOWER BRIDGE, YOU GITS!
The good thing about this is when the sun comes out in London, it's glorious (just like Seattle). I've had my share of beautiful London sunny days, so the weather hasn't bothered me too much.
And that's all she wrote from London. Tomorrow morning early, early, early I head back to the airport for my connecting flight. I'm hoping for better weather at my final destination. If I wanted cold, windy, and wet... I would have stayed at home.
Posted on Saturday, March 19th, 2011
British Airways gave me the best that I could possibly hope for on any trip: an uneventful flight.
And so here I am in Venice, Italy for a few days. Partly because there's a new Hard Rock Cafe here. But mostly because I watched a television program on New Orleans where some scientist guy reminded everybody that Venice is sinking into the sea and could be wiped out if a big enough flood were to strike despite our best efforts. This freaked me out a little bit, because last time I was here the city was just recovering from a small flood. With all the recent natural disasters plaguing the world, I thought it a good idea to see Venice again... just in case.
It breaks my one rule for my annual birthday trip (to see a place I've never see before), but I love Venice, and heaven only knows when I'd find time to visit again. Besides, I've already been someplace I've never been to this year, so I guess it's all good.
And I managed to get that 136th Hard Rock visit too...
The cafe itself is small. Very small. Tiny even. But it is beautifully appointed, and I was thrilled that the new "hipster-lounge" decorating style that's been plaguing new Hard Rocks around the world has been mercifully downplayed here. It's decorate more like a "classic" Hard Rock, which is nice. The location is superb, just off the Piazza San Marco, so hopefully the tourist trade will keep this property alive for a while.
And I'm off to watch the sun set from the Rialto Bridge. That's an experience that never gets old.
Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2011
It's Bullet Sunday from Venice, Italy!
• Merger. Apparently AT&T and T-Mobile are merging. How could this possibly be a good idea? One shitty network plus one crappy network does not make a good network. It just makes a shitty network crappier. And here I thought things couldn't possibly be any worse with AT&T.
• Foo. I have never understood people's infatuation with Glee. But even more inexplicable is being made to feel crazy because I don't like the show. Now, at last, I'm not alone. Just when I think that Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters couldn't possibly be any cooler than he already is, this happens. Thank. You.
• Lunar. I haven't been able to see the SUPER MOON from here in Venice despite having clear skies. I don't know if I'm looking in the wrong place or if the moon doesn't shine in Venice or what. I'm a little sad about that, because I was looking forward to getting a photo of it. MOON FAIL!
• Venice. Speaking of Venice, it's absolutely stunning here. Clear blue skies and cool air. A big improvement over my previous trip where it rained every day...
You can never have too many statues on a building!
St. Mark's Square is under construction.
But the beautiful frescos are still available for viewing.
Climbing up the balcony of St. Mark's Basilica.
GAH! THE SHIT IS FALLING APART HERE! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!
The Bridge of Sighs... now disgustingly brought to you by Toyota!
Look! It's TRON!!
Honestly, it's one McDonald's too many...
The Church of Health!
Pretty pink street lights.
A naked boy and his dead frog statue. Awesome?
Visiting the neighboring island of Murano.
Cracking angel statue.
Mustard-colored building in Murano.
Sunset over the Grand Canal from the Rialto Bridge.
Rialto's nighttime view on the Grand Canal.
Annnnnd... I'm spent. No more bullets left this fine Sunday. Time for pizza!
Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
The quintessential "Venice Experience" is to take a gondola ride. I've never done it because the cost is outrageously expensive... about $120 for 35 minutes. For that kind of money, I'd rather take a ride of an entirely different kind.
But, alas, Venice is sinking and all that, and I didn't want to regret that I never rode in a gondola when I had the chance. So I didn't think about the money and decided to go for it.
Worth every penny.
It may be touristy and trite, but it really is the best way to experience this remarkable city...
The gondoliers have a fairly tough job that requires quite a bit of skill...
If you're ever in Venice, save some money for a gondola ride, it's worth the price.
There are two problems which plague a photographer in Venice. 1) Everything is leaning or warped or crooked, so trying to line up shots can drive you a little crazy. And 2) The stupid pigeons are everywhere and mess up a surprising number of shots you're trying to take. I've got dozens of photos that ended up being bird photos...
When I was last in Venice, I went to the top of the Campanile Bell Tower where I got this incredible panorama shot of the city. But it was rainy and dreary, and I longed to take another panorama in better weather. Like today. Which was sunshine and blue skies as far as the eye could see.
The problem is that something has changed since I was here last. There are heavy metal grates in place, so I couldn't really move my camera enough to take a panorama. I don't remember how I did it last time. Perhaps the grate is new? Or maybe they used to allow you to climb the stairs up past the observation deck and that's closed now? I can't figure it out. I guess I should be thankful that I've got one, even though it's in bad weather. Oh well. It's still a nice view...
After goofing around St. Mark's Square for a while, I decided to explore the area north of Rialto. It's there that the only McDonald's in Venice is located, and I wanted to use their free WiFi. Except the WiFi wasn't working, so I ended up going to Mickey-Dees for nuthin...
Annnnd... I'm done playing tourist for the day. Time to seek out the perfect Venetian restaurant for dinner.
Posted on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011
In an effort to "go somewhere I haven't gone before" while on my annual birthday vacation, I decided to head to the small island of Burano today. I've never gone before because there's always so much to do in Venice that it doesn't seem worth the trouble. But I've heard nice things about the place, so today was the day. First I walked to St. Mark's Square so I could find a water-bus to take me to North Venice. Then I found a ferry to make the 40 minute lagoon crossing to Burano.
The total journey took me about an hour, and ended up being well worth the trip.
Burano is mostly a fishing village, but it's heavily geared towards tourists. Just like Murano is famous for its glass, Burano is famous for its lace. I thought I might pick up a tiny sample as a souvenir, but even a 4-inch doily of authentic Burano Lace was $50, so I took a pass.
Instead I wandered around looking at all the pretty multi-colored houses on the island...
And, of course, have some stracciatella gelato...
Apparently the house colors are strictly regulated by the city government. If you buy a house on Burano and decide you want to paint it, you have to ask for permission. After getting permission, you are given a few color choices which are selected for your location. Hopefully one of these colors ends up being something you like, or else you're shit out of luck.
Tonight I really need to get caught up on some work, so there'll be no more fun for me until dinner. I really should try and get some sleep as well.
Posted on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Seven years ago, I received an email from a young man because he had nobody else he could turn to. It saddened me that somebody so young had such an unnecessarily difficult life... but it broke my heart that a stranger on the internet was the only place he felt he could turn to for a friendly word. Hurting and alone, his entire existence was that of suffering and hatred just because he happened to be gay. Through no fault of his own, for something he could not change even if he wanted to, he was mercilessly teased and bullied day in and day out.
His story changed me in a way I can never explain. But hearing somebody's hopes and dreams revolve entirely around escaping their miserable life is a soul-crushing experience that should change you.
Sadly, since that time, things have not gotten better. The rash of suicides among gay youth making the headlines these past years is a constant reminder how even being perceived as gay can have tragic results. At a time when just being a kid can be confusing and painful enough a burden, being bullied can be that final straw that removes all hope from a young life... maybe even one you know. And, sadly, it doesn't end there. Even if they manage to survive their youth, the violence, intolerance, and hatred never disappears.
This has to change.
And it will change if we want it to. And a big piece of the puzzle that's been missing is to change the attitudes of those that often end up doing the bullying: young straight men.
Enter Straight But Not Narrow...
It's wonderful that there are organizations like The Trevor Project available to assist after the damage is done, but it's organizations like Straight But Not Narrow which will (hopefully) start to change the way society views our gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends and neighbors. And it's about fucking time...
Some of the bravest, kindest, most decent and honorable men I know happen to be gay. Who they date or who they fall in love with makes no difference in their moral character. None. But anybody who would persecute them for who the are has serious character deficiencies regardless of what justification they try to use to back-up their hate...
Everybody has their own beliefs. Everybody has their own opinions. And that's fine. That's America. But if what you say fosters hatred towards somebody so vicious that it can lead to their death... then you have no place in a society which was built specifically to insure the pursuit of happiness for all its citizens.
I can only hope that the voices of those in the Straight But Not Narrow project (and other organizations like it) can eventually drown out the voices from hateful pieces of shit whose only goal is to tear us apart because of our differences. It's these difference... and the right to be who we are... which should be binding us together.
Make a difference. Make your voice be heard.
Posted on Thursday, March 24th, 2011
I'm covered in sweat and hoarse from screaming... that's how you know it was a great show!
Yes. That's me. Drinking Champaign with MATT AND KIM!
When I arrived at London's Restless Garage, I though my biggest surprise of the night would be when my friend and fellow Hard Rock Cafe aficionado Perry showed up with his girlfriend Sarah to the concert.
That was just the beginning.
The concert, as expected, was amazing. Matt & Kim so clearly love music and love their fans. They give absolutely everything they have to their performance, and this lets you appreciate their songs on an entirely new level...
Matt takes it down a notch...
That's Kim dancing ON the crowd!
And there's Matt crowd-surfing!
After trying to catch them in concert for literally years across the USA, I finally managed it by accident while on a Layover in London. How fucking crazy is life?
Apparently not crazy enough.
Because Matt & Kim's manager stumbled across my blog and sympathized with my numerous failed efforts to see the band live. Being the incredibly kind and generous human being he is, he arranged for a back-stage pass, for which I will be forever grateful. Because meeting Matt & Kim is kind of one of those life-defining moments...
My musical tastes are firmly planted in the 1980's. But when I first heard Matt & Kim's stuff, I fell in love with music all over again. They have a passion that you just don't see much anymore, and it comes across in every song they make. Seeing them perform those songs live lets you feel it.
After the show, Matt & Kim jumped into the audience and made their way around the show floor, saying hello to everybody. Kim stayed and signed autographs and had pictures taken until they literally kicked everybody out of the club. They just love their fans.
But the icing on the cake is that they are truly grateful for their success. They love what they do, and realize that it's their fans that make it all possible. When I was back-stage waiting to say hello, Matt & Kim were talking with various people that were there. And the topic of their conversation wasn't what a great show they gave... or how hard they rock... or how awesome they are... it was all about their fans. They went on and on with how thrilled they were that the London audience was so welcoming and so hyped to see them. They loved that everybody was having a great time. They were genuinely humbled that people showed up to watch them play. They said again and again how great it was to have such enthusiastic fans. If I wasn't already a massive fan of the band, I would have become one right there just listening to them... even if I hated their music.
And then I got to meet them, which is about the greatest thing ever.
Then the night was over, and Matt & Kim were off to Paris so they could thrill their fans in the City of Lights.
I wanted so badly to hop on a train and meet them there.
But, alas, I am flying back home today, so I had to pull myself away... content knowing that I had just met one of my favorite bands of all time.
Thanks to Matt, Kim, Kevin, Perry, and Sarah for the best birthday ever!
Posted on Friday, March 25th, 2011
I don't celebrate my birthday, which is part of the reason I like leaving the country every year... it's a lot harder for your friends and family to throw a party or make a big deal over it when you're not around. That being said, the outpouring of birthday wishes from everybody is such a wonderful thing that I wish it could be my birthday every day! It's hard not to be happy when your email in-box, text messages, Facebook, and Twitter are jam-packed with well-wishers wanting to congratulate you on surviving another year. My hetero-life-partner even wrote a blog post for my birthday which, considering he almost never blogs anymore, was a really great end to an amazing day.
Which, oddly enough, was 31 hours long, since I started the 24th in London (7 hours ahead) and flew home to re-live a big chunk of my day all over again. I guess if it can't be your birthday every day, crossing time zones to make the one day you get last longer is the next best thing.
The flight home was somewhat torturous thanks to The Most Boring Man In The Universe sitting in the seat behind me. Seriously, this bastard rambled non-stop for nine-hours-and-twenty-minutes, loudly (LOUDLY) going on and on about mundane shit that even my iPod at full volume could not obliterate. Since he had an English accent, it was if I were trapped in the most horrifyingly boring documentary ever. I still have no idea how the poor person he was talking to the entire time kept from killing herself. I would have dashed my brains out on the seat-back tray after the first hour.
Coming back the USA was about as painless as it's ever been. I used to loathe going through border control and customs because the agents were always such assholes. But they truly have been improving over the past couple years, which makes foreign travel so much nicer. It's as if they knew people hated them and their hostile, shitty attitudes and decided to try being more pleasant. This time, I actually felt welcomed back to my own country, which would have been impossible for me to even dream of just five years ago. Having to wait less than ten minutes in line was also a nice bonus... especially after having suffered through Heathrow's 25-minute wait at border control twice. You'd think that one of the world's busiest airports could have more than two measly desks open for plane-loads of passengers, but apparently they just don't give a fuck. I kept looking for the sign saying VISIT THE UNITED KINGDOM AT YOUR PERIL, YOU FILTHY FOREIGN BASTARDS! But, being British, they're much more subtle about it. They just make you suffer a long wait in silence to show their disdain for your existence and their contempt at your desire to set foot on their soil.
But at least I didn't have to give my fingerprints, retina scan, and a stool sample like foreigners visiting these United States of America. I guess that's something.
My birthday also happens to be the birthday of Mac OS X, which turned ten years old yesterday! It's odd how Apple's OS is so young, but seems to have been around forever. I usually celebrate the occasion by booting up an antique Macintosh running an old, old, old version of Mac OS, just so I can appreciate how far we've come. The problem is that last year when I did this I actually came across some old features that I miss in the "modern" OS, so I'll probably skip this year. Nothing quite so sad as longing for technology advances from twenty years ago. What I wouldn't give to have each of my fucking folder windows remember their fucking Finder view selection and fucking sorting preference every fucking time I fucking open them... but, alas, that's only possible with technology from fucking 1990. Nothing like taking giant steps backwards as you head into the future, eh Apple?
And now I get ready to face my Friday, knowing full-well that there will be no Matt & Kim concert at the end of it. It's times like this I wonder how I manage to go on day after day, but I've got another birthday coming up next year where people will (hopefully) take the time to once again send happy thoughts my way... so I'll just hang on to that for the next 365 days* and see where that gets me.
*Usually, I'd be waiting 364 days, but 2012 is a leap year, giving me a whole extra day before my next birthday. How much does that suck? Thanks a lot crappy flawed Julian calendar system!
Posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011
"Women. Can't live with 'em. Can't kill 'em!"
— Albert "Gib" Gibson, True Lies
I have every reason to despise, distrust, and demonize women for being the heartbreaking angels of despair they sometimes turn out to be. But I don't. I simply know too many women who are remarkable and amazing people to believe in such lame generalities... despite my extreme bad luck in holding on to any kind of long-term relationship with any of them. Like most guys, I've had my share of women troubles. I've been taken advantage of. Cheated on. Lied to. Mistreated. Wronged. Abandoned. Abused. Lead on. Left out. Shafted. Screwed... well, you get the picture. The list goes on and on.
But I've also been in love with women, which somehow offsets all the pain and heartache I've suffered at their hands.
Which brings us to this...
Scott Adams, author of Dilbert, recently wrote a blog entry that was supposed to be an article about "men's rights." But he came across as a sexist asshole, thus infuriating every feminist on the internet. His ultimate advice to men was "Don't be pussies!"... or, at least it would have been if he hadn't turned around and deleted his post.
Gee, Mr. Adams, why not take your own fucking advice?
In the end, I don't necessarily disagree with some of the things that Scott Adams wrote. He actually had some insightful commentary about what it's like for us. He goes completely off the rails several times and makes absolutely no effort to look at anything from any viewpoint except his own, but the end-summary of his rant is not without merit in some instances.
While his treatment of women was pretty shitty, it's his characterization of us men that ended up offending me most.
Because his perspective on things is from that of a famous millionaire. Sure he may be a geeky dweeb (like me!), but he's a geeky dweeb with a lot of money (not like me!). He's also married to a hottie, but it's worth noting that he married her well into his meteoric success as a cartoonist...
Photo by Drew Kristal, taken from People Magazine
Now, before I start getting hate-mail of my own, I should say that I'm sure he's a wonderful guy and she didn't marry him for his money. I'm sure she totally fell in love with him for his... err... charming demeanor and sense of humor. Or something. I mean, I don't know her, but just looking at this photo I can tell she's absolutely the type of person who would totally give a 49-year-old dweeb like Scott Adams the time of day even if he didn't have a bajillion dollars and world-wide fame. So there. I said it. She's totally not a gold-digging opportunist, okay? No need to attack me for being a misogynistic asshole who believes that beautiful, intelligent women are only capable of having millions of dollars if they marry into it. I am so not that guy.
Indeed, it's my fervent belief in this very ideal that allows me to get out of bed in the morning.
Anyway, if you care to read it, I've gone through Scott Adam's rant line by line in an extended entry. Not because I feel women need defending in any way, but because Adams turned out to be such a total dick that I feel the need to defend my gender.
And because stupidity makes me crazy.→ Click here to continue reading this entry...
Posted on Sunday, March 27th, 2011
Back to reality for a super-hero-fashion episode of Bullet Sunday! But, before we get there, I need to remind everybody that the best podcast on the internet you're probably not listening to is now on iTunes! Cannot recommend it highly enough: Hey! That's My Hummus on iTunes. And for baseball talk, don't forget Just Talking to the Cornfield on iTunes.
• Wonder Woman! I've had very strong reservations over the whole David E. Kelley Wonder Woman television pilot from the very beginning. From everything I've read, it seems as though he's dead-set on putting his personal stamp on the material, which means we're not going to get Wonder Woman... it's going to be Ally McBeal in bad latex. The first episode's villain is perfume company CEO Veronica Cale (WTF?) which is being played by the incomparable Elizabeth Hurley (who arrived in L.A. a while back to film her scenes)...
©2011 Michael Wright/WENN (from AceShowbiz)
Since Elizabeth Hurley is in it, I'm pretty much obligated to watch the show now. Which is a shame, because the official Wonder Woman costume photo looks like crap...
In all seriousness, I've been to comic book conventions where the fan costumes looked better than this cheap-n-glossy joke. She looks like a badly-dressed dominatrix or something. Such a horrible departure from the classic Wonder Woman uniform that was worn so perfectly by Linda Carter in the original TV show...
Call it cheesy if you want, but THAT'S what Wonder Woman is supposed to look like.
• Spider-Man! And speaking of truly terrible costumes... I loved the first two Spider-Man movies. The third one was awful story-wise, but had really good action sequences. Still, I was hoping for another Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire installment because I liked the "feel" they gave the character. Alas, it was not to be. So now we've moved on to something new which could be good or could be bad. And if the costume is what we have to go on, this is going to be as bad as it gets...
Even if he didn't have an inexplicably black crotch, this would be a horrible interpretation of an iconic costume.
• Captain America! The modern-day Captain America comics have never interested me very much. Sure there are good stories that pop up from time to time but, overall, it's a one-note concept to me. But I have to say, everything I've seen for the upcoming Cap film looks flawless. First of all, they set the movie in World War II, which is faithful to the character's origin. Second of all, it seems as if director Joe Johnston is going out of his way to make it a fun and entertaining film to watch...
What's so killer about Cap's costume is how you can see they're clearly building up to his modern-day outfit by starting with a WWII era interpretation. He was designed to be a symbol for the guys in the trenches, and its coming across perfectly. And just look at the Red Skull! Cannot wait for this movie.
• Thor! Other than Walter Simonson's brilliant run on the character in the 1980's, I've never been a big fan of Thor. He just never seems to work in the context of the super-hero genre very well. But this film has Kenneth Branagh directing, and the trailers look to be pretty epic in scope, so we'll see...
I am the first to admit that translating Thor's costume to the big screen is no easy task... but this looks all cheesy and plastic to me. I'm guessing it's supposed to be metal (maybe it is!), but I'm still not impressed and think it would have looked better with a brushed metal? This is probably going to appear much better on-screen when lit properly, so it's hard for me to be too critical. It is, after all, pretty faithful in "feel" to the original.
• Green Lantern! This is the hardest movie of all to figure out. I think my hetero-man-crush Ryan Reynolds was flawless casting for Hal Jordan, but the movie is looking like a George Lucas CGI party instead of a film of any substance. The special-effects generated costume in the preview trailer looked so bad that I couldn't fathom how the movie could possibly work...
But then I saw this shot of Mark Strong as Sinestro and thought "maybe"...
Green Lantern was one of the first comic books I ever read, and so I continue to hope that everything comes together. Out of all the super-hero projects underway, it has the most potential for greatness... or disaster.
It's pretty hard to get a feel for how the costume works from still images. On Hal Jordan, all the crazy lines look just plain stupid. On Sinestro, they look awesome. I'm guessing that when they're in-motion they'll be all glowing and stuff, which will probably look cool. Or corny. I have no idea. I do think it would have been better to not go with 100% CGI though, which seems like a recipe for disaster.
• X-Men! I should probably get this out of the way... I loathed all of the X-Men films. They were SO BORING. The X-Men were never really given any battles. Sure there were some silly little scrapes here and there, but they didn't have any scope. Everything in the movie seemed so much smaller than life. And while the costumes weren't anything to write home about, I thought they were okay. Sadly, the costumes weren't the problem. And so now we're re-booting the franchise with a prequel...
From what I can tell, the costumes here are pretty good. They are a faithful (albeit upgraded) interpretation of the "original" X-Men costumes, which was no easy task. All we can do is wait and see if the movie has the scope and story to make any use of them.
That's a lot of super-heroes. And it doesn't even account for the new Superman movie reboot, the third Iron Man film, the third Batman film, The Hulk reboot, The Avengers, and whatever else that's coming up. I hope that people don't get burnt out on comic book movies.
Posted on Monday, March 28th, 2011
You may remember me writing about the plight of a man and his husband to get their child a passport so he could come home. Happily, after two years of fighting, it was all sorted and Samuel is now where he belongs.
I just got an email that an update has been posted (you can turn on English subtitles in the Flash (original) Player if they're not on already)...
Yeah, how horrible. The kid really looks like he's suffering.
And yet I'm sure there are people who still think he's better off in an orphanage somewhere than in a family with two fathers. Because everybody knows that having gay parents will hopelessly ruin a child's life...
I wonder how long it will be before all these people up in arms over "protecting families" and "protecting marriage" finally get a clue. They are the ones causing problems for families. Everybody else is doing just fine...
I shudder to think how many kids around the world are stuck in orphanages and foster care waiting for a loving home. And yet we continue to debate the worthiness of families to adopt them based on the ratio of penises to vaginas in the home. Didn't we get past this crap in kindergarten? If we didn't, shouldn't we have?
Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
And... here I am in L.A. for one day only.
Though the city has not-so-pleasant memories from when I was working here, I do still love it quite a lot. Probably because it's one of those places I've been to so many times that I've long-since worn out all the "touristy crap" and can just relax and do the things I like to do.
The trip got off to an ominous start. After the cabin door had been closed on the small aircraft, some guy yelled for the flight attendant because he wanted off the plane. He claims the reason was a text message from his lawyer. But the pilot was new to the job, and those of us at the front of the plane could hear every word of her pre-flight conversation with the co-pilot. Phrases like "You know what I'm doing, right?" and "How do I fly out of here?" don't exactly inspire confidence.
And so we were delayed while the guy got off the plane, which was too bad for him because the take-off was unlike any I've ever had from our small airport. Rather than doing a high-banking turn as usual, she did a lovely, lazy spiral. This afforded us an amazing view of the valley that I have never seen in my 25 years of flying out of here...
After a transfer at SeaTac (Seattle) I was off to the City of Angels. After working all morning in my hotel room, I knew exactly where I wanted to go for lunch... PINK'S HOT DOGS!
After all, it comes Betty White recommended...
And their "Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog" smothered in fresh guacamole, onions, and tomatoes is worth the effort to get here. The veggie dog itself is better at America's Dog in Chicago, but the fresh California toppings at Pink's are fantastic...
The reason I came to L.A. was located in Hollywood, so I passed the time walking the Walk of Fame. A couple times ago when I was here, Michael Jackson had died. This time, it was Elizabeth Taylor's star that was covered in flowers...
The weather was flawless. A cool breeze with flawless blue skies...
Right up until nighttime, when the sunset was pretty amazing on Hollywood Boulevard...
But the real awesomeness was yet to come...
To be continued...
Posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011
Last night I saw an amazing show by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark at The Music Box L.A.
All the expense and trouble of getting here melted away as the band slammed through a sensational set list of their incredible music. And, because I had bought a "VIP Package," I got to attend a soundcheck and meet the band before the show even started. This was an incredible experience, and made a great thing even better...
The soundcheck ended up being fantastic, but the concert itself was amazing. One of my favorite new bands, Mackintosh Braun, opened up for them, which was like extra frosting on your cake.
I thought it would be impossible for any band to even get close to the energy from the Matt & Kim show I attended last week in London, but Andy, Paul, and Co. played their guts out for an enthusiastic crowd that absolutely loved their performance...
When I met the band, I gave them crap for not playing Seattle. They said that they had been asked to tour the States again, and Seattle would definitely be included next time. Which is like chocolate pudding on top of your extra frosting on top of your cake. I can hardly wait!
Since this was the final show on their tour, Andy took a minute to send out some thank you's. One of them was to their record label, Bright Antenna, for sponsoring this tour in the first place. Apparently no concert promoter would back OMD because they didn't think people would show up. Of course, the band went on to not only sell-out every single show, but they even added an extra one. Which also sold out...
Congrats to Andy, Paul, Martin, and Malcolm on a great album, a great tour, and for having such great fans.
And now it's time for how I got here...
Along with Depeche Mode and the Thompson Twins, the holy trinity of my favorite 80's bands is completed by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (more often known as "OMD"). Other bands like a-ha, Pet Shop Boys, and Duran Duran came along to snag my attention, but my DM, TT, and OMD came first.
As a massively huge fan of their work, I was thrilled when OMD released a new album last year, History of Modern, that was as good as anything they've ever done. It ended up being my pick for "Album of the Year," so you can imagine my delight when I found out that they were touring the USA in March.
Except there was no stop in Seattle, and I was gone for a big chunk of the shows because I was in London and Venice. A part of me was gutted that I'd miss the tour, but a part of me was also relieved because I'd be flat-broke when I got back from Europe.
And then they added an extra Los Angeles date six days after I returned from London.
I was sorely tempted but, the cost of the flight, hotel, food, and tickets was more than I could spend, and I've already seen OMD live several times.
But then Mackintosh Braun announced they would be the opening act.
Keep in mind, THIS is what my favorite albums list looks like for 2010...
With Mackintosh Braun added to the ticket, there was no way I could miss this show. I had just seen Matt & Kim. I had flown to New York for a-ha's farewell tour. The chance to see tracks from four out of five of my favorite albums of 2010 performed live was too much.
And so I decided to throw responsibility to the wind, spend a chunk of money I don't have, and fly to L.A. for one night only for an opportunity to listen to some great music. And since I was already going for broke, I went ahead and got the VIP deal. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess.
What was especially cool was that Ian and Ben (Mackintock Braun) hung around in the lobby after the show so I could tell them that they were the reason I flew to the show. They were genuinely grateful, and a couple of really nice guys. If you haven't listened to their stuff, I highly recommend it.
And so now I fly home. Poor, but happy.
Which is as it really should be, I suppose.
Posted on Thursday, March 31st, 2011
I just came back from London & Venice, then left for Los Angeles.
Now I'm back from L.A. and am heading off to Las Vegas.
Apparently my travel layovers are no longer in airports, they're at home. It's like I've gone back in time twenty years and I'm living out of a suitcase again. Except now I actually have a suitcase and can afford to stay in accommodations where I don't have to worry about getting stabbed in the middle of the night because somebody wants to steal my socks.
Though I did have my personal shampoo stolen while staying at a Holiday Inn just five years ago.
I suppose it was all my fault for stepping out to Taco Bell so I could try the new "Crunchwrap Supreme" that everybody was talking about. Except I had them substitute rice for the beef, so I guess it wasn't actually the same Crunchwrap Supreme that everybody was talking about after all. Still tasted good. Though it's probably impossible for anything with this much saturated fat content to taste bad. Especially when it's cheese-flavored saturated fat...
NOTE: Actual product will bear no resemblance whatsoever to this photographic fantasy.
Purple background is optional, and my not be available at your local Taco Bell.
I'm sure there's a life lesson here somewhere. I just can't decide if it's that you should never eat at Taco Bell... or you should never travel with your own shampoo and instead just use the crappy free stuff they give you at the hotel.
All I know is that they will let you take a full-size Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme through airport security. Try that with a full-size bottle of shampoo and you'll end up having it confiscated.
I'll leave it up to you to decide which is the bigger threat to National Security... but something tells me that the TSA has it all backwards.