Posted on Monday, October 1st, 2012
Last night I went to a show by the Blue Man Group at Universal Studios CityWalk here in Orlando. I had seen them previously in Las Vegas and new this show would be smaller... but it was still pretty darn entertaining. Don't know if it's truly worth the high ticket price, but I was happy I got to go...
What I am NOT happy about is paying for internet here are the Universal Studios Hard Rock Hotel and having it be so damn slow that I can't update my blog. Guess I have to wait until I get back home before I get to post my entries for the next couple days.
Nothing quite like paying for shitty internet. Sure Disney's internet wasn't anything to write home about, but at least it was free.
Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
I have never, ever felt that I got my money's worth any time I've visited the Universal Studios Orlando & Islands of Adventure theme parks. This is the opposite of visiting Walt Disney World where I always leave satisfied that my money was well-spent.
The problem begins from the minute your plane touches down in Orlando. If you're staying at Disney hotel property, they have a "Magical Express" bus that will whisk you to your hotel for free AND take care of your luggage for you. If you're staying at a Universal hotel property, it's a $50-$60 taxi ride and you have to go to baggage claim to handle your own luggage. Ditto for when it's time to fly home. Disney is free with luggage transfer included. Universal is another $50-$60 and you're checking in your own luggage.
Then there's the internet. Disney hotels offer it for free (at least in the resorts I've stayed at)... Universal hotels charges you $10 a day.
And don't get me started on how messed up Universal is on their bundling. Because I had Blue Man Group tickets in my bundle, I wasn't allowed to get my theme park tickets at my hotel... I had to go to the Blue Man Theater box office, which is crazy. And then I had to go to a machine for my Express Passes, which is even crazier. With Disney, everything you bundle is waiting for you at your hotel when you arrive. So much easier and less stressful.
Then there's the parks themselves.
The reason I even bothered with Universal Studios was because of their new "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" area they dropped into Islands of Adventure. They have a ride there called Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey which uses an insanely great new robotic arm technology that I simply had to experience...
And, sure enough, it's pretty spectacular. Even if you can't stand Harry Potter like me.
What makes it so revolutionary is that the robotic arm attached to your seat isn't bolted to the floor like other rides which use robotic arms. The robots on this ride move!
So, not only are you being flown all over the place, you're moving at the same time. It's kind of like they merged Star Tours with Soarin' and then made the whole thing mobile. The result is one of the more fascinating theme park ride experiences available today... even if I thought the Harry Potter material was kind of weak.
But that's about it for Islands of Adventure. The only other ride I give a crap about there is The Incredible Hulk Coaster which is one of my favorite roller coasters on earth. So... $88 for two rides then? Yeah, that's about it. Jurrassic Park River Adventure is boring and lame. A poor imitation of Disney's Splash Mountain with shitty rubber dinosaurs that gets you completely soaked for no reason. Amazing Spider-Man is actually a good ride (especially now that they've upgraded the visuals to HD), but it just doesn't hold up to repeat visits. Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is okay, I guess, but it too pales in comparison to Splash Mountain at Disney.
Then there's Universal Studios itself, which is also $88. It fares only slightly better with five rides I like... Despicable Me Minion Mayhem (a new Star Tours-like ride that's really great... mostly because I LOVE Despicable Me)... The Simpsons Ride (which was far better when it was Back to the Future: The Ride, but still entertaining)... Revenge of the Mummy (a slightly more intense Space Mountain that's far more comfortable to ride)... Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket (a decent roller coaster with a 90° high-rise that allows you to pick your own soundtrack)... and Terminator 2 3-D (which is badly dated and gutted — NO MORE TERMINATOR ARRIVING ON A MOTORCYCLE! — but, hey, it's the Terminator, so of course I have to like it).
You can get a two-day ticket that allows one park per day... but it's kind of a waste, because I can never find enough stuff to do for an entire day. Better instead to do this...
Two last things...
You actually don't have to stay at a pricey Univeral Studios Orlando hotel property to get an Express Pass. You can buy the Express Pass outright at the parks. HOWEVER... the only way to get the hour-early admission into Wizarding World of Harry Potter IS to stay at an on-site hotel, so I recommend it to save yourself hours standing in line for Forbidden Journey.
And, if you want to ride absolutely everything in each park no matter how lame it is... getting the two-day single-park pass is probably the way to go. You won't be quite so rushed as you go from ride to ride. But, just as an FYI... using the steps I outlined above, I could easily ride just the stuff I want in one day... but it's up to you.
And that's about all I have to say about Universal Studios. I probably won't be back unless they come up with something so spectacular that my life won't be complete unless I experience it... like Elizabeth Hurley Land (where you get to ride Elizabeth Hurley!) or something equally awesome. Otherwise theree just doesn't seem to be enough bang for the amount of bucks you have to spend.
Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Goodnight and goodbye Orlando. See you next year.
Photo taken with my iPhone 5, which has some wonderful new capabilities in capturing low-light situations. Other than being reduced in size, this picture of the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando is completely un-retouched.
I swear, sometimes my frickin' PHONE shoots better images than my actual camera.
Posted on Thursday, October 4th, 2012
Orlando was ridiculously hot and humid. Any time spent outdoors was miserable.
Which is why a part of me was actually happy to come back home.
At least until I went out to my car this morning and found frost on the windows. And started wearing a jacket. And threw a couple of blankets on my bed. And swapped short-sleeve shirts for long-sleeve shirts in my closet. And made sure my boots and gloves were unpacked.
So now I'm wondering if I was a bit too hasty in wanting to leave Florida.
In another month I'll be certain of it.
Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
One year ago today I was in Fiji. I had been out snorkeling with sharks, sea snakes, and fish. I had been on a boat following a pod of dolphins. I was heading to shore when my mobile phone beeped with a message. I didn't look at it because I rarely get texts when I'm traveling, and usually when I do get a text it's bad news.
Eventually I looked. It was a text from my brother. Despite the fact that I had prepared myself for something less than good, I was completely unprepared for what I saw...
Steve Jobs was gone.
And because of the time difference, I was hearing the news while in the future and half a world away.
It would have been nice if this cheat in time and space would have lessened the blow, but here I am a year later and it still hurts. One of the people I most admire on this earth and whose work has had a huge impact on my life isn't around anymore.
There's never going to be "just one more thing" ever again... and some days it's more than I can take.
Flowers left at the Sydney Apple Store.
Maybe next year will be easier. But today I can't imagine that there's any amount of time and space that will make me feel better about waking up and remembering that Steve Jobs is no longer here.
Posted on Saturday, October 6th, 2012
At some point, we became a society that embraces a world where facts are no longer indisputable truth.
I know this, because every time I look at Facebook or Twitter I see loads of bullshit and lies being presented as "facts." And nobody seems to care. Not the people posting them. And certainly not the people blindly reposting them.
For the longest time, I really didn't give a crap because the people who believe the bullshit and lies are the people who need the bullshit and lies to create whatever reality it is they're living in.
But lately I've come to realize that there is a rapidly growing number of people so damn stupid that they believe the bullshit and lies because they're too lazy to bother verifying what they see. And they're being encouraged to vote based on this information.
And suddenly I realize that Depeche Mode had it right all along with the song New Dress on their brilliant album Black Celebration...
You can't change the world,
But you can change the facts.
And when you change the facts,
You change points of view.
If you change points of view,
You may change a vote.
And when you change a vote,
You may change the world.
We have better, faster, and easier access to information right now than at any time in history. And yet a Google search is apparently too much effort to verify that the "facts" people are reposting to Facebook and Twitter aren't actually bullshit and lies.
Oh well. I guess we get the world we deserve then.
And that's a fact.
Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2012
Find your happy place, because Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Debate? I thought I was missing something by being in an airplane during the first presidential debate. Now that I've seen it, I realize I didn't miss much at all. President Obama was uninspiring, passive, and boring. Mitt Romney was artificial, creepy, and a dick. Neither was looking very presidential tonight... though at least Romney seemed to have some passion to him. That being said, I don't think either of them changed any minds. The biggest loser of the night had to be moderator Jim Lehrer, who couldn't moderate wiping his own ass. Pathetic. The next person who puts him in charge of moderating a debate should be shot. Then fired. I guess downsizing Lehrer is one thing that Mitt Romney and I can agree on? I just don't think that Big Bird should go with him...
Given the dearth of stupid shit on television for kids, I'd say that supporting entertaining educational programs like Sesame Street is essential for the survival of future generations. Especially when you consider that Big Bird gets 1/100th of 1 percent of the congressional budget (PBS as a whole gets less than 1%). So, yeah, that'll make a fucking dent.
• Maries! If crack cocaine and mayonnaise had a baby, it would be Marie's All-Natural Salad Dressings. For the longest time I ignored them on the shelf because they were too expensive compared to the other salad dressings available. But last month I was bored and decided to try one. It was so frickin' amazing that I've been slowly working my way through every flavor available. Now that I've tried them all, I have narrowed my favorites down to Chunky Feta Cheese and Asiago Peppercorn...
Anything that can make lettuce taste this good is worth every penny. And so now I'm going to be poor because I spend all my money on salad dressing. If you're looking for a pricey but delicious way to liven up your salad, I highly recommend giving Marie's a try.
• Television! Ooh! New TV shows! As a total television whore, this is a happy time for me. At least it was until I realized that there have only been four new shows worth watching out of all the stuff that looked intereting to me so far this season...
It will be interesting to see how Arrow, Nashville, and Chicago Fire fare, as I think they're the only new shows left that I want to see which I haven't seen.
Annnd... apparently I can't post this because my internet just went down. Guess I'll be late. Again.
Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Current polling shows that Washington's Referendum 74 is running 15 points ahead for approval. If this holds up come voting day, Washington State's marriage equality law will be upheld and it will be legal for two consenting adults to marry... even if they both have a penis or both have a vagina.
This would make me happy for friends of mine who have been wanting to get married... but can't because the person they love has the same genitals. Apparently this is reason enough for a couple to be deemed unworthy of marriage, which feels kind of petty considering that Washington State has one of the highest divorce rates in the nation (we're #15!). But, whatever. It would seem that some people feel the way to "save marriage" is not to work on keeping their own straight marriages from failing at such an alarming rate... but to instead prevent others from getting married.
The mind boggles.
All I know is that there will be much bitching and crying in Redneckistan if Referendum 74 passes.
Which is good enough reason for me, so here's hoping.
Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Today when I checked my grandmother's mail, a small DVD package fell out. The interesting thing about it was not that she doesn't own a DVD player to see it... but that it's a movie promising to fill you in on "what the future holds."
And what a future it is...
I don't know about you, but I am totally stoked that the future is going to look like a heavy metal album cover! How fucking awesome is that? A bunch of cool stuff that doesn't even exist today is going to be coming soon!
Needless to say, I ran to my DVD player to pop this bad boy on my television. I didn't even make popcorn I was so excited.
Unfortunately, there were no dinosaurs and winged lions to be found. It's just a recording of a guy giving a sermon on the same world-ending Bible prophesies that people have been sermonizing for the past 2000 years ("No, seriously! This time it is REALLY happening!"). Having read The Bible and studied The Book of Revelation, I found the movie to be pretty boring, so I turned it off and watched The Avengers again. That movie is so kick-ass that I can't watch it enough times!
Which made me realize that they really should have gotten Josh Whedon to direct Revelation Unleashed. Maybe he would have put The Hulk and Iron Man in there to fight the bears, dinosaurs, lions, and leopards. And that future? I would totally watch that.
Posted on Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Today is my Friday this week!
Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2012
And so here I am in Atlanta. Again. Just a week ago I was passing through the airport, but this time I'm going to stick around... for one whole day!
It's the start of a little four-day "mini vacation," which means I have nobody but myself to blame that I'm stuck traveling all weekend. And, as happy as I am to be flying to two really cool events, a small part of me is just tired of traveling. Tired and wanting to stay home.
In other news, Representative Paul Ryan did a photo shoot for Time Magazine which included workout photos. And who could blame him? He's in fantastic shape. If I was in that good of shape, I'd have gone to tonight's debate shirtless. Hell, I'd go everywhere shirtless. So it's kind of lame to see all the nasty comments being sent Ryan's direction when he's probably just being himself. Give the guy a break. He obviously works out, so who cares?
Which is not to say that the whole backwards cap thing isn't douchey. It's 100% douchey. All he needs is a soul patch and some sunglasses... and he's Poochie...
My contribution to the Photoshop mashups exploding on the internet. You are welcome!
And now I can't look at Paul Ryan without thinking back to a joke that Demetri Martin drew up...
Oh well. That wouldn't be the worst thing we've had take office in American politics.
And now... sweet surrender to some sleep at last...
Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Matt & Kim remain the best live show I've ever seen.
And though it would be hard to top seeing the band in London on my birthday last year... I had an absolute blast here in Atlanta tonight!
Totally worth flying across the country! If you ever have the opportunity to see Matt & Kim play live, it is something you absolutely cannot miss. It's like an amazing concert and a big party all rolled into one!
If not, you can still listen to their brand new album Lightning, which dropped just last week!
And... it's 1:40am. Guess I'd better at least attempt to get some sleep before flying out tomorrow morning.
Posted on Saturday, October 13th, 2012
This morning I boarded a plane for Cincinnati, Ohio so that I might rent a car and drive to Lexington, Kentucky. I would have flown to Lexington directly, but the cost of the ticket was hundreds of dollars more expensive, so I took a pass. The two-day car rental was a fraction of the price and a much better bargain.
The reason I was off to Lexington was to attend a party being thrown by The Couple Formerly Known as Mr. Fabulous and Turnbaby. I hadn't been to the previous two parties (despite having a fantastic time at their ConFab event back in 2009) so I knew I had to get to this one. Because, hey, how many parties can you go to where snorting heroin off of Secondhand Karl's ass is a topic of conversation?
Well, okay, lots of them. But not in Kentucky.
The theme of the party was "Hollywood Nights" and every attendee had to show up dressed as a recognizable movie character. As I was trying to decide what in the heck I was going to be one night, The Princess Bride was playing on television. So... The Dread Pirate Roberts I was to be...
As you wish! Photo by Adam Heath Avitable
I bought the head-scarf, mask, gloves, collapsible sword, and boot toppers... but sewed the shirt myself, and it turned out great. Luckily I had taken a sewing e-course from Whipstitch, so I already knew how to do the tricky bits required for constructing a poofy shirt. Good thing too, because you never know when that kind of knowledge will come in handy.
Anyway... it was all worth it, because the party was great and a good time was had by all.
And I got to dress up like a pirate.
Posted on Sunday, October 14th, 2012
Time to deal with that hangover... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Flip! While I was trying to come up with things to do to kill time before the Matt & Kim concert last Friday, I found out that The Muskrat was flying into ATL that same day, so we decided to meet up for lunch. He took me to "Flip" which is an upscale burger "boutique" restaurant created by Top Chef: All-Stars winner Richard Blais. Their vegetarian choice was a "Fauxlafel Burger"... which is a kind of falafel patty topped with marinated vegetables. I fucking hate burgers with non-burger crap on them, so I asked to have a "Classic Burger" but substitute the "Fauxlafel" patty. They were happy to accommodate me, and the resulting burger was fantastic! Wished the bun was a little bigger... but other than that it was really flavorful and delicious. Flip's claim to fame is their "Krispy Kreme Shake" which has a doughnut blended into it...
Absolutely amazing. It really did taste like a Krispy Kreme, and I was definitely left wanting more. Overall, a great experience at Flip, and I would absolutely go back.
• Pre✓ And so there's a new program from the TSA which gives frequent fliers the ability to receive "Trusted Traveler" status. I had never heard of it before today, but am happy that it exists. I'm even more happy that Delta Airlines opted me into the program...
Going through the Pre✓ line meant that I didn't have to take off my shoes. I didn't have to take off my light jacket. I didn't have to take off my belt. I didn't have to remove my baggie of liquids & gels from my bag. I didn't even have to remove my computer from my backpack!
Well... if I didn't have a big block of cheese given to me by The DutchBitch, I wouldn't have had to remove my computer. Turns out that cheese looks like organic explosives or something, so they actually did have to remove my laptop for a second scan.
In any event, this is an awesome perk for people who have to fly a lot. It's a much better program than the stupid "Regular/Family/Experienced" lanes that they had tried earlier... those programs were doomed to fail because everybody piled in whatever lane was shortest. Many, many times I got behind somebody in the "Experienced" lane who didn't know what the hell they were doing. With Pre✓, it's invitation only to "experienced" travelers, so newbies can't get in to fuck everything up.
In all honesty, I don't know how effective all the crazy security stuff is that the TSA has in effect. What I do know is that Pre✓ goes a long way towards making me not mind it so much.
• Holy Crap! I've been skydiving. And, even though I have a fear of heights, I didn't have any problems because there's a point where the scale of the height is so big that you don't really recognize it as something to fear. But then there's this...
Photo by Felix Baumgartner himself
I'm pretty sure that I would lose my frickin' mind if ever I faced a jump of 28,000 feet. That's 24 frickin' miles! And yet... Felix Baumgartner took it on like a boss. Kind of makes skydiving look like a walk in the park. Next up? Lunar jumps!
• Frothy! It would appear that everybody's favorite gay-sex obsessed piece of shit, Rick Santorum, is still in Washington State drumming up hate against equality...
It used to be the only reason I wanted marriage equality for my home state was so that my friends here who want to be married but are unable to will finally be able to fulfill their dreams. But more and more I want it to pass so that ridiculous, bigoted, homophobic idiots like Rick Santorum will fail utterly... thus sending a message to other ridiculous, bigoted, homophobic idiots that their time has passed. And good riddance.
• Lawdy! And, speaking of ridiculous, bigoted, homophobic idiots... I think this one is my favorite one of all...
Oh horrors! The law will apply to everyone... not just the well-adjusted, well-educated, sophisticated, wholesome, gays... it'll also apply to the gays with drug problems and who are mentally unstable! Well, shit! We simply cannot have that! Can you imagine if there were straight couples with drug and mental problems having families? What would we do then? Clearly, this is the strongest argument against marriage equality ever.
• Nemo! Please tell me you saw the wonderful Google Doodle celebrating the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland...
Absolutely brilliant... just like Little Nemo, which remains one of the most imaginative things to come out of human history.
And... I suppose now that it's 2:00am I should see if I can get some sleep. It's been a long day.
Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012
This will be an entry in two parts.
This is Part One.
On my way back to the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport yesterday, I stopped off at The Creation Museum. For those not in the know, this museum was built to explain the origins of life on earth as interpreted by a literal reading of the Book of Genesis in The Bible, which contains this pertinent bit...
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so.
God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.
And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning... the sixth day.
So... all living creatures were created by God on the sixth day. Including man.
And dinosaurs, of course...
This may sound crazy given that science clearly shows that dinosaurs actually existed millions of years ago and became extinct long before man even entered the picture... but... if you believe in a literal reading of The Bible, well... science is clearly wrong. God's own Word tells us that all living creatures were created by Him on the sixth day mere thousands (not millions) of years ago, and there's nothing more to be said...
Now, before I go any further, let me be perfectly clear... this is not the belief of all Christians. There are many, many Christians who have different belief structures based on different interpretations of The Bible. One belief, for example, says that what God considers a "day" could be very different from what man considers a "day" to be. Perhaps a "day" for God consists of millions of years. This would mean that our flawed perception of time and our "science" doesn't necessarily negate God's Word.
And it goes on and on. There are as many ways to look at Creation from a Christian perspective as there are Christians on earth.
When I was in the middle of my initial Christian studies, I came up with a kind of sliding scale that had a "Sample Christian" loosely defined at each of five points. It was not meant to define people directly, but an attempt to understand how a single group called "Christians" could be composed of such vastly diverse perspectives... even amongst the different branches...
5. I Believe That The Bible is the ONLY Word of God. It is without flaw or error, and its every passage is to be followed exactly without any deviation from what is literally written. All events in The Bible transpired precisely as recorded and are historical fact. Its authors were directly controlled by God to transcribe His exact thoughts, and no part of it can be contradicted or ignored. Every word is of God, so everything within must be given equal weight and no part or parcel of it is to be given precedence over any other. The Bible is perfect and complete, thus there is nothing more for God to say on matters... all answers can be found within. Any translations to different languages were likewise directly controlled by God, so they are also without flaw or error. Any variant of The Bible which is different from the version/translation that I have accepted as God's truth is a false document. Any interpretation of The Bible which is different from mine is not of God and must be dismissed utterly as non-Christian. Anyone not accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior is damned in the eyes of God and doomed for all eternity.
4. I Believe That The Bible is the LITERAL Word of God. As above, everything written in The Bible is correct and true and must be taken exactly as presented. It is historically accurate and there can be no deviation from the texts since they are recorded facts. However, as God is a Living God who still speaks to our hearts even today, He directs us to those parts of The Bible which are most applicable to our lives. God continues to inspire people to explain and teach The Bible in new ways so that it can more easily apply to the modern world. While The Bible is the ultimate authority on all things, God's grace and gift of free will means that His truth will reach people in different ways... thus there will be a variety of versions/translations/interpretations of The Bible. But, despite our different approaches to God's Word, we are all one under Him. I embrace anyone who has accepted Jesus to be their Lord and Savior as a fellow Christian, even though the way they believe in The Bible may differ from mine. We are all following different roads to the same destination and that's God's plan. Those who have not yet given their lives over to Christ are potential Christians who must open their hearts to Him to be saved.
3. I Believe That The Bible is the INTERPRETED Word of God. While everything in The Bible is correct and true, the contents have been interpreted by man and are thus imperfect. Yes, events recorded in The Bible actually happened... but they've been colored by the writers of the day to fit into the world as they understood it. Because of this, people living in the modern world can't take things presented in The Bible literally. It is more a tool to know God and learn about the life and teachings of our Savior Jesus Christ rather than an exacting historical account with rules to be followed implicitly. Non-Christians who accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior... even if it's after their death... are saved in the eyes of God.
2. I Believe That The Bible is the INSPIRED Will of God. While the overall message of The Bible is correct and true, it was written by man, thus cannot be considered the literal "Word of God." It is more "parable and allegory" to learn from rather than exacting truth, and it is up to individuals to decide how to best use The Bible to define their faith. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God and his teachings are the way to salvation, but those teachings are not first-hand accounts and open to
1. I Believe That The Bible is a Book About God. I don't actually believe everything in it to be true, but The Bible contains some things that resonate with me spirituality. In this respect, The Bible is merely one of many tools that a person can use to help them better know whomever or whatever God may be. I call myself a "Christian" because that's what people who believe in God are called, and Jesus as the Son of God sounds like he is a wonderful person I'd like to emulate.
Now, one would assume that The Creation Museum is gunning for "Sample Christians" from groups 5 and 4 whose world view coincides with their literal read of The Bible. But then you see their motto... Prepare to Believe... and you get the feeling that they're reaching deeper.
Then you step foot into their beautiful museum, and you're certain of it.
To Be Comcluded!
Posted on Tuesday, October 16th, 2012
Yesterday I took a look at a sampling of various Christian archetypes. This was a preface to talking about how The Creation Museum is making a concentrated effort to reach all Christians with a literal interpretation of God's six days of Creation. It's an ambitious goal to be sure. Our modern understanding of the universe and "how things work" are more often than not in direct opposition to Scripture, so it's a hard sell. But, I'm here to tell you, the people behind this museum give it their best shot.
Before I go any further, I am compelled to admit that I am not a Christian and believe absolutely none of it. When it comes to life on earth, I put my faith in science and evolution. I fully believe in scientific methods like "carbon dating" to reveal the true age of the earth and when it was that various creatures lived upon it. I do not buy into The Flintstones world-view where dinosaurs and man existed at the same time. I do however, believe in God... though what constitutes "God" to me is radically different than what can be found in The Bible.
That being said, my studies of various world religions over the decades have me concluding that it's not my place to judge others for their beliefs, just as I would hope that they don't judge me for mine. For all I know, we're all plugged into The Matrix and none of this is real anyway. So who am I to say what is the absolute truth?
I have wanted to visit The Creation Museum ever since I saw this photo...
Photo by Mavra Chang on Flickr
I love dinosaurs. And my favorite thing about dinosaurs is that there were so many of them that were brutal killing machines. I've watched Jurassic Park dozens of times because seeing those nasty velociraptors hunt down people is pretty darn cool. So when I saw this image, I was freaking out. Why in the hell isn't that dinosaur ripping that little girl to shreds and eating her for brunch? "RUN LITTLE GIRL! RUN AWAY... EVEN THOUGH IT WON'T DO ANY GOOD! YOU'RE DEAD! D-E-A-D, DEAD!!! BWA HA HA HAAAA!" I'd say out loud to nobody in particular.
Curious to know how this insane photo could exist, I tracked down The Creation Museum and was mesmerized. Here was everything I didn't believe in... all in one building! I made a vow to visit. And this past Sunday, I finally did...
Now, don't let this boring exterior fool you. This is hands-down one of the most beautiful museums I've ever seen. It is a thorough exploration and explanation of a literal interpretation of The Book of Genesis unlike anything you could imagine. And, even though I think it's all fiction, I fully admit it is really well done. Exceptionally well done, even. And you feel that the minute you walk inside...
The continuing theme of the museum is "Same Facts, Different Conclusions" and they often times meld science with Scripture to support their arguments. To that end, they create scenes like this to establish that they are not disputing facts in evidence...
Dinosaur says "Oh this crick in my neck!"
"Anybody seen a little girl feeding carrots to a squirrel around here?"
And then ease you into a "debate" of Scripture vs. Science with nice displays that pits Man's word vs. God's Word...
After that they explain how silly an idea it is that we have a common ancestor with monkeys, complete with holographic evidence over a model of Lucy, the famous Australopithecus...
The single most important piece of Biblical Scripture used to explain how dinosaur bones got to be where they are and why scientists are mistaken as to how old they are is The Great Flood. The museum posits that the flood was practically instantaneous and provided such massive pressure that things like coal formation happened in weeks instead of millions of years...
This is not an easy pill to swallow given the geological evidence. But over and over again the museum claims that their Biblical truth is no less valid than other scientific theories. They just have a radically different starting point for the beginning of life on earth. Science = ~14 Billion Years... Scripture = ~6,000 Years...
You're hit with a lot of information before you even enter the exhibit space. God's plan for Creation has been fully laid out and supported as truth by their interpretation of scientific evidence. I may not agree with that interpretation, but I can respect their viewpoint. At least I did... until I got to this...
Really? Really? Playing the victim never really sells me on your position no matter what it is. If you're going to whine about separation of church and state, save it for your newsletter. It doesn't have a place here. This one section completely undermines the entire museum, in my humble opinion. Let your arguments stand on their own without this kind of bullshit.
Anyway... off we go to the exhibits, which is preceded by a series of videos showing just how awful human beings are today...
I guess the films are supposed to set the stage for what we lost when you turn the corner and get dropped into a really nice recreation of the Garden of Eden...
It starts out with the creation of Adam who is naming all the animals while a dinosaur eats a pineapple nearby. There was no death in The Beginning, so animals didn't eat each other...
Then Eve comes along, which results in some steamy scenarios worthy of high-budget porn...
All is not perfect in Paradise, however, as that nasty serpent is hanging around, ready to doom us all...
And here it is... Eve convincing Adam to eat from the Forbidden Tree. What a bitch!
Adam gives in to temptation, and then what happens? You turn a corner and... ZOMFG! IT'S HITLER!!!
Now THAT'S Shark Extreme!
God is most displeased, so now Adam has to work for everything instead of having it handed to him. What was once Paradise, is now a horrible place filled poisons, diseases, and weeds... DAMN WEEDS! But just look at how ripped Adam gets from working in his garden...
And, of course, dinosaurs are prancing around Adam's house. Though, it's after The Fall now, so I'm guessing they're no longer going to be satisfied with eating pineapples. LOOK OUT, LITTLE CAIN AND ABLE!!!
It's right about here that the museum explains how all of humanity is descendant from Adam and Eve. Their children married each other and had kids who married each other, which was not considered a bad thing back then. Apparently their DNA was so pure that inbreeding didn't cause The Hills Have Eyes-type genetic defects like you get when brothers and sisters reproduce today (even though science dictates the "purity" isn't the problem... it's the lack of genetic diversity).
But even God-approved inbreeding didn't work out that well for humans, who ended up becoming people so horrible that God decided to wipe the earth clean and start over again. Time for Noah's Ark!
Now, of all the stories in The Bible, Noah's is probably the hardest to believe. The guy really gathered up two of every animal, insect, bird, and creature from the entire earth? Seriously? And, now there's dinosaurs in the mix as well. How in the heck did he manage that? Well, the museum would argue that God was involved, so all things are possible... and the dinosaurs Noah found were probably just babies, so they could actually fit in the boat. A construction project which took poor Noah and his sons around 100 years to complete. Still, he ended up looking pretty good for someone of his advanced years...
In addition to being beautiful and well-crafted, the museum also has a good sense of humor about things, which I got a kick out of...
And... scene! End of the exhibits.
We now move on to theaters featuring films that further explain the museum's position on Creation. They play on continuous loop, which makes it easy to catch them all in your visit.
By far the most fascinating was a movie about dragons. The Creation Museum fully endorses the idea that dragons were actual creatures, and support this by saying how dragons are found in literature and stories around the globe by numerous disconnected civilizations. Coincidence? I think not! But why? Why would the museum drag magical creatures into their story? Well, it's because they claim dragons were actually dinosaurs (Pterodactyls, perhaps) which were embellished over the ages to breath fire and stuff. And if dragons were, in fact, dinosaurs then this means dinosaurs existed at the time of man. Ergo, everything in Genesis must be true, and God created everything at the same time on the sixth day...
Yes, it's a stretch, but... hey, I wasn't there.
At the end of your tour, there's restaurants and a really nice gift shop. Sadly, as it was a Sunday in the off-season, I didn't get to eat at Palm Pizza, which was located in a really cool little plaza...
It would be easy for me to write-off The Creation Museum as a wacky pseudo-science museum which shoe-horns Scripture into facts. And logic dictates that their wholly unbelievable and unscientific exploration into life on earth should be dismissed as outright fraud and a futile attempt to support a faith-based worldview. Many other people have said just that.
That's taking the easy way out. The truth is that I greatly enjoyed the museum, and was grateful to be given such an amazing look into how some of my fellow humans see the world. The reason I have spent such a great amount of time studying the earth's religions is to better understand humanity. And, much like the beautiful Holy Land Experience in Florida, this Creation Museum is just another piece of the puzzle for me.
And it's a piece that's really well-done.
The cost of a 2-Day admission ticket is $29.95 for adults and $15.95 for children with free parking. Even with the jaw-dropping quality of the museum, I think this is a bit high. $19.95 feels like it would be much closer to the mark. Admission to the museum's planetarium is an addition $7.95 per person (I skipped it, because I didn't have an extra $8 to spend, and I've been to planetariums before). Moms get free admission on Mother's Day, just as dads do on Father's Day (all the more reason to be fruitful and multiply!). US Veterans are admitted free on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day. Everybody gets free admission on Christmas Eve.
Despite my being a non-Christian, I had a really good time at the museum... even if I can't get behind the content. The staff were very nice and helpful. The exhibits are top-notch and near-Disney-quality. The organization and "flow" of the layout is well-planned. There's plenty to see and do and a lot to think about. A lot of love went into crafting The Creation Museum, and it shows in even the smallest detail.
For fundamentalist Christians who believe that Creation took place over six 24-hour days, it's a no-brainer to come here.
As for other Christians who struggle with "the Creation myth," well... it's hard to say. You might very well be convinced after visiting. As somebody who believes in science, it's tough for me to recommend you come here and possibly lose your grip on what I consider to be reality, but... eh, I still do.
For everybody else, it's a toss-up. Maybe, like me, you want to understand the fundamentalist Christian world-view better... it's definitely worth visiting for that. Maybe you are a non-believer who just wants to mock people's faith... well, I could think of cheaper ways than spending $29.95 to do it, but there's a lot of material here for you to mock (but, honestly, making yourself feel better by belittling other people's beliefs is pretty pathetic). Maybe you just like really good museums... in which case this one certainly qualifies and is worth a trip. Or maybe you just want something to do on your way to Cincinnati Airport for a couple hours... then this might do the trick if you can get past what they're presenting.
To the creators of The Creation Museum, this property isn't the end of the story. The museum has been wildly popular, so they are looking to build something even bigger. Enter... ARK ENCOUNTER! A new exhibit which will recreate a full-sized Noah's Ark...
Not ambitious enough for you? How about the ark being merely a small part of an entire theme park?
Pretty amazing. If it's anywhere near the quality of The Creation Museum, I'd visit that! They've purchased the land and hope to have "Phase One" (the ark itself and a petting zoo) completed in 2014.
Posted on Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
I try not to get bogged down by the bad things in life. Shit happens to everybody, it's a part of living on this planet, and there's nothing you can really do but accept it, deal with things the best you can, then move on to better times.
But then you have a day where so many things are going wrong at the same time that you can't help but feel defeated.
Last night I felt a cold coming on. Sure enough I woke up this morning in miserable shape with a hell of a cold setting up shop in my sinuses.
Things just went downhill from there.
After work I had to drive into Wenatchee to pick up something for my grandmother. There I was driving down the road... I go to shift into third gear and... there is no third gear! Apparently my transmission just blew, so I pull into a restaurant parking lot to call AAA.
And now I'm without a car...
You will note that there are three tow trucks in that photo (a dark grey one is hiding behind the yellow one jacking up my car). This is because there was a FRICKIN' TOW TRUCK DRIVERS MEETING going on in the restaurant where I parked my car.
What a hilarious coincidence!
But the best part? Of the half-dozen trucks that showed up for the tow truck convention, the guy who came to tow my car wasn't there for the meet-up! Maybe he went back there to join in the fun after having towed my piece of shit to the garage, I dunno.
And now I get to wait for the repair shop to open in the morning so I can find out how much it will cost to fix my pile of junk. I'm guessing at least $1000.
Which means I will probably end up buying a new vehicle since the last thing I want to do is sink more money into the heap of crap that is my car. So much for living in a paradise without a car payment. I suppose it was good while it lasted.
Time to take some cold pills and veg out in front of the television while I wait for something new to go wrong.
The night, after all, is still young.
Posted on Thursday, October 18th, 2012
Washington State is vote-by-mail, so I was able to get that out of the way when my ballot arrived today.
As I do every time I vote in a general election, I go back through my ballot and tally up how many Democrats and how many Republicans I voted for (not including unopposed races, where I don't vote). This year surprised me a little bit because it was right down the middle, 50% Democrat to 50% Republican. Last time it was more like 75% Democrat to 25% Republican.
Either I'm getting even more Conservative in my old age... or the Democratic candidates weren't very impressive this time around.
I won't go into the boring details, but I will elaborate on how I voted on the two most controversial items on the ballot...
Referendum 74, AKA "Marriage Equality" — APPROVE!
The government has no fucking business telling two consenting adults that they can or cannot get married based solely on what genitals they have (or don't have). In a country built on personal freedoms, the very notion of it is absurd. I fully support my gay and lesbian friends who want to get married and form families that are every bit the equal of their fellow straight citizens. Furthermore, I strongly believe in standing up and showing Washington's gay youth that their state fully supports who they are. When you finally find that one person who completes you after having searched your whole life, you should be able to share that bond with the world in marriage. Anything less is un-American.
Initiative 502, AKA "Marijuana Reform — YES!
I don't use marijuana. Legalizing marijuana isn't going to suddenly make me want to use it. But, for those responsible adults who do want to use it... I think it should be legal for personal consumption and TAXED! Let's stop wasting horrendous amounts of taxpayer money and resources fighting a recreational activity that shouldn't be illegal in the first place. I-502 isn't perfect by a long shot, but it is a step in the right direction. The much-needed tax revenue is just icing on the cake.
And now it's time to take my aching, coughing, sneezing, feverish, stuffy-headed body to bed in a futile attempt at getting a little sleep.
Posted on Friday, October 19th, 2012
Today was the third annual "Wear Purple for Spirit Day" where lots of people will go purple in support of LGBT youth and speak out against the bullying they must endure.
I have exactly one item of purple clothing which I save for this day... an old Hard Rock Cafe T-shirt from Maui that I bought in the late 80's (back then, I guess purple was an acceptable fashion choice). I wear it on Spirit Day each year to remind me of the horrors that kids have to go through just for being themselves...
Of course I am against bullying of any kind, because there are an awful lot of kids who aren't gay that still get ruthlessly persecuted day in and day out just for being different. I have no idea why we humans have evolved into creatures that feel better about themselves by making others feel worse, but it's something we need to overcome.
In the meanwhile, I guess we wear purple in the hope that one day we won't have to.
Posted on Saturday, October 20th, 2012
I really, really don't like being sick.
And over-the-counter medication is not doing it for me.
I need to make friends with a doctor who can hook me up with the good stuff. And by "good stuff," I mean something that will put me in a medically-induced coma for 3 or 4 days until this cold has worked its way out of my system...
Scientists are making incredible medical advances every day. But the common cold is still here.
AND WHERE IS MY FRICKIN' FLYING CAR?!?
Posted on Sunday, October 21st, 2012
Brace yourself for an October Surprise... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• Elysium! Back in 2009, The Pet Shop Boys released Yes one of their best albums in decades (and contains one of my favorite tracks ever, The Way It Used To Be). Now they've released their 11th studio album, Elysium, and my expectations were very high. Probably too high. It's a good album that has more hits than misses, but the misses really grate on me. Ego Music and Your Early Stuff are about as tedious as music gets, and I can't fathom why they were included on the album when they'd barely be interesting enough for B-sides. What remains doesn't include any of the throbbing dance-pop that made PSB famous, but it does have some remarkable tracks. Far and away my favorite is Memory of the Future, which is an achingly beautiful song that hasn't left my head since I first heard it...
Overall Elysium is another really good album that presents the Pet Shop Boys in a softer, more thoughtful light. Well worth checking out.
• Elementary! As a bit of a Sherlock Holmes purist (the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories remain among my favorite fiction) I've been pleasantly surprised with how much I've been enjoying both the Robert Downey Jr. movies and the Benedict Cumberbatch BBC series. I anticipated not liking the Johnny Lee Miller American series which takes place in New York and has Watson played by Lucy Liu. But then I saw the premiere and was again pleasantly surprised...
No hat. No pipe. No magnifying glass. No problem.
But now after having seen three episodes I am definitely digging it. I was already a big fan of Miller and Liu, and they've got some good chemistry together. But, more important than anything else, the mystery stories have been really good. Elementary has quickly become my favorite new show of 2012, and is well worth checking out.
• Arrow. And speaking of television that's left me pleasantly surprised...
I guess the ladies will be tuning in...
Now, let's get something clear... this is not the Green Arrow we know from the comic book series. They have radically changed many of the fundamentals in an effort to make "good television." And have somehow succeeded. Millionaire playboy Oliver Queen is the lone survivor of a shipwreck who arrives at a mysterious island. While there, he crafts weapons to survive, and spends five years becoming the deadliest man alive with a bow and arrow. Eventually he returns home to "Starling City" to right some wrongs and free the city from the criminals who have taken over... dressed as Robin Hood. Anyway... the show is basically a Batman clone now, which is probably why I like it so much. Well worth checking out.
• Do Not Call. On Friday night I got a political action call from the National Rifle Association... an organization I used to respect, but have seen steadily degenerate into an organization resorting to fear-uncertainty-doubt to terrify people into doing their bidding. They send out scare tactic press releases against President Obama, even though he has repeatedly said he supports the 2nd Amendment and introduced no significant gun control legislation during his first term. But he said he supports keeping assault weapons off the street, so he's been branded anti-gun. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who actually DID introduce an extensive assault weapon ban when he was Governor of Massachusetts, gets endorsed by the NRA for president! They even go so far as to say he's the "only hope" for firearms freedom! If the NRA were truly an impartial organization fighting for the interest of gun owners, they should have informed their membership about both candidates. But it would seem they're so far in the pocket of the Republicans that Romney's gun-control past gets forgiven while Obama's gets him crucified because he's a Democrat. I guess that's politics for you. Or maybe I'm just pissed that somebody would dare call me during dinner.
• That Derek Zoolander is so Hot Right Now. Tonight's autism benefit show by Comedy Central... Night of Too Many Stars... opened with an appearance of one of my most guilty of guilty pleasures, Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander. Rumors of a movie sequel have been leaking for a while, and this appearance would seem to verify that it's happening. But the biggest question? When will we know if Will Ferrell will be reprising his role as one of the best movie villains of all time, Mugatu?
Zoolander without Mugatu wouldn't be much of a film. Hopefully Will Ferrell and everybody involved in the project agree.
And... time to retire early. I think my cold is finally breaking, and a couple extra hours rest might do the trick.
Posted on Monday, October 22nd, 2012
Not a lot of differences on foreign policy in tonights debate. It seems that Romney mostly agrees with the President's handling of foreign affairs... he just thinks that he would make the US look "stronger" than President Obama while doing it. Or something like that.
I try to put myself in the mindset of an undecided voter to understand exactly what it is that each candidate was trying to say to them. Those are, after all, the only viewers of the debate that matter. Romney seemed to be bringing absolutely everything back to our flailing economy, which was probably a smart move. Obama seemed to be doing his best to paint Romney as somebody who it naive and out of touch with how the world works, which is also a smart move... except I have to wonder how much it matters to the majority of American voters, who have a very hard time thinking outside our borders.
Surveying the media landscape, it would seem that most people felt the debate was a clear win for President Obama. He decimated Mitt Romney at every corner using concise arguments and carefully prepared crowd-pleasing rebuttals. But the problem with relying on cleverly prepared statements on foreign policy means that the President was pretty weak when it came to addressing Romney's economic claims. When Mitt Romney talked about being a good businessman who saved the Olympics in Utah... Obama never brought up that he only managed to do it because of a massive government bail-out. Nor did he talk about how the business talents and ethics which Romney touts have been reported to be fiction. Obama should have been more flexible a debater when it came to talking about subjects outside of foreign policy... especially since the domestic economy is the topic which will most likely swing the undecideds. But he didn't. All we got was "the math don't add up," so Romney got the last word on a critical topic. This is bordering on disastrous when it comes to what Obama needed to accomplish, so I am not so quick to call the debate for the President.
If you ask me to summarize the debate over what I most remember from it, this is what you'd get...
OBAMA: “I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets. Because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater—nuclear submarines. And so the question is not a game of Battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s what are our capabilities.”
ROMNEY: "WAH! STOP ATTACKING MEEEEEEEE!!!"
And I'm betting I'm not the only one.
Governor Romney sure talks about how strong and tough he'll be for the country, but he was a complete pussy in the debate. This is made worse when you factor in how he comes across as an out-of-touch Stepford Wives robot with zero personality. I'm not a huge Obama fan because he lied about things that were important to me when it comes to government transparency. No surprise there. He's a politician, which means he's a liar. But the reason I am not a huge Romney fan is because he's a creepy liar (who doesn't believe in personal liberties for people... just corporations).
Ultimately I ended up voting to reelect President Obama because he was the lesser of two evils. At least to me. I can't feel really great about it though, because the lesser of two evils is still evil. So no matter what "huge secret" Donald Trump comes up with to slam President Obama this week, I'm sure it's just par for the course. Because Romney's closet is undoubtedly full of skeletons too. You just don't get to be a candidate for president without skeletons... it's the very nature of politics.
Oh well. For me the election is done. My ballot was sent in days ago and there's no way I can change it now... even if we find out that President Obama is a secret space alien sent here to destroy the earth.
Which, sadly, would actually make me feel better about voting for the guy.
In happier news... The Iron Man 3 trailer is out...
Holy crap does that look awesome!
And I see that Shane Black continues with his raw hatred of cliff-side houses that began in Lethal Weapon 2.
I'm just glad that the events in The Avengers look to be having lasting repercussions, as it should be.
May 3rd can't come soon enough.
Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
As expected, Apple unleashed their iPad Mini at today's event... along with some other surprises...
• iPad Mini! The entire point of this product is to compete with the legions of other 7-inch tablets out there... in every way except price. Apple doesn't play the price game, they play the quality & value game... they make their product worth that extra money. Even so, I thought for sure the Mini would start at $299 and was fairly shocked that they went with $329 on the low end. Regardless, Apple is going to sell a bazillion of these things over the holidays...
But... not to me. My iPad 3 with Retina Display is absolutely perfect for the one thing I most use an iPad for... reading comics a full page at a time. The Mini's lower resolution would require that I read my comics panel by panel (again, like with iPad 2) instead of page by page.
But... I still want one. It's that sweet-spot size between an iPhone and iPad that would make it so perfect and handy for everything else I find myself reaching for the iPad to do... surf the web... read a book... check email... play games. And, unlike every other iPad I've owned, I would want it with a cellular connection so I could have internet everywhere instead of having to find a free WiFi hotspot.
I will resist the temptation, of course, because my iPad 3 is enough. But when Apple comes out with an iPad Mini with Retina Display... I just might break.
• iPad 4! The smartest thing Apple did at their press party was something nobody expected... a brand new iPad. This has a lot of people who just bought the iPad 3 six months ago in an uproar because the latest version is faster, has speedier WiFi, and better LTE connectivity. I don't care because I can't read comics twice as fast if the iPad is twice as fast, but there's a lot of people feeling burned.
Two things... 1) Apple simply had to get on a holiday release schedule with their new iPads because that's when most of them are sold... and 2) In the Android tablet world, there are a dozen manufacturers that are coming out with something newer and better every month. Apple is the only seller of iPads, so it feels worse than it actually is.
• 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display! While the small size is a killer feature for a traveler like me... I need a bigger screen to do the work I do. The 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display I have is perfect... and will be even more perfect when Adobe's apps are fixed to take advantage of the additional pixels. Still, for a lot of people, the compact size of this new model will be plenty big with the denser display being able to show so much more information than the old models.
• Mac Mini! For somebody wanting a cheap Mac, the new Mini is about as good as it gets. Even the low-end $599 model will provide an excellent experience for running desktop apps. And it's so ridiculously tiny, taking up almost no space. You'll still need a display, keyboard, and mouse... but a lot of people have those sitting around from their previous computer, so the Mini is pretty much a dream come true for somebody wanting to switch to Mac in the most affordable way possible.
• iMac! And here it is. The new product from the event that I am most jealous of... the new impossibly thin iMac...
I bought the last generation model of iMac for work, which now seems like a clumsy piece of crap compared to this stunningly beautiful machine.
People who have seen the display say it's one of the most amazing computer displays ever, even though it hasn't got Retina resolution. I still don't know how Apple is going to come up with the processing power to even run a
Apple also made it a lot more powerful... even though it's so damn THIN. But it's not the faster chips that make me covet the new iMac... it's the new "Fusion Drive."
I bought both a Solid State Drive and a "regular" Hard Drive so I could use the SSD for speed and the HD for storage. To make work go faster, I put the project I'm working with on the SSD, then move it back to HD when I'm done. A little bit of a hassle, but the speed increase makes it worth the trouble. Now Apple has come up with "Fusion" which combines the two drives and does all this automatically and seamlessly. New files go on the SSD half of the drive, which are automatically moved to the HD half when you stop working on them. Genius.
Of course I want one... I just can't afford one. Wah!
• Mac Pro? Still no Mac Pro. Apple obviously feels that the iMac line is powerful enough that professionals who use Macs will move to them. They added wicked-fast transfer technology like "Thunderbolt" to make sure of it. And they're right... I moved to iMac because there wasn't a new Pro model available, and I've been very happy with it. But... there is a gaping hole in their lineup that Apple has got to address sooner or later or else they are going to start losing customers (if they haven't already). Supposedly the new Mac Pros are coming next Spring. But it would have been really smart to surprise people with a release today to show that Apple is still serious about professionals that need the serious raw power and expandability that an iMac can't offer. Oh well. That ship has sailed for me, so I won't worry about it.
And... it looks like Apple is all set for the holidays. All their consumer products have been refreshed and made better than ever. Which means they are going to be raking in a fuckton of money over the next two months. Which is nice... I hear Apple could use the money.
Posted on Wednesday, October 24th, 2012
The way I get over a cold has been the same for over a decade... 1) Overdose on Vitamin C. 2) Stay warm. 3) Drink lots of liquids. 4) Take whatever pills needed to get 10+ hours of sleep each night.
The first three things are what gives you body the ability to repair itself while you are sleeping half the day away. And it totally works for me. I can get rid of a cold in 3 days... 4 days tops. When I am unable to get the 10+ hours of sleep, the damn thing can drag on for a week or longer, so lots of rest is clearly key to fighting a cold. At least for me...
And, sure enough, my cold "broke" last night at around 9:30, four days after it had started. There I was watching television, and CRACK! My sinuses split wide open, letting me know that my cold was over. I spent most of today clearing the crap out of my lungs, which means I'll be good to go by tomorrow.
When I will be flying to Europe.
Here's hoping I don't catch another cold in the 9 hours it takes to fly over the Atlantic.
Because flying home from Cincinnati on a plane full of sick people last week is how I caught the one I just got rid of.
Posted on Thursday, October 25th, 2012
Yesterday I hopped into a metal tube and hurled myself across the state.
And now I'm about to climb into a metal tube and hurl myself across the country... and then the Atlantic Ocean.
I seem to spend a lot of time getting into metal tubes and hurling myself places.
Posted on Friday, October 26th, 2012
Yes. I just flew 9 hours for an old cheese sandwich and PATATJES MET!
And now it is time for a nap.
Posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2012
Today The DutchBitch's DutchBoyfriend was kind enough to drive us to the new Hard Rock Cafe in Brussels, where we met up with Beautiful Disaster's Pinky. I hadn't been to Brussels since The DutchBitch and I last visited in 2010, and I hadn't seen Pinky since Bitchsterdam 2, so it was a triple threat event for me.
The Hard Rock Cafe Bruxelles is a wonderful return to everything I love about visiting these properties around the world... a beautiful restoration property lovingly brought to life in classic Hard Rock style that has been packed to the rafters with terrific memorabilia...
Truly a fantastic property, the Brussels cafe is a well-crafted, eclectic, multi-level Hard Rock that doesn't disappoint. Located right off the Grand Place "Great Market" square, it is worth a visit... even if Brussels wasn't already destination worthy in its own right...
It was a very quick trip, but we squeezed in a lot. Just like it said in the elevator of the parking garage... we're hardcore like that...
From there it was back to the Netherlands and the end of my 48-hour trip to DutchyLand.
Tomorrow it's back in the metal tube to hurl myself back home.
Posted on Sunday, October 28th, 2012
Please make sure your seat is in the upright position and your tray table is stowed ... because Bullet Sunday starts now...
• In-Flight. I am typing this as I leave the Netherlands on Delta flight 233... a ten hour flight to Seattle WITH NO INTERNET! So how in the heck am I supposed to come up with bullets for Bullet Sunday when all I have here is a bunch of movies to watch on my Delta-On-Demand Entertainment System?
• Game Change. This film is about John McCain's horrendous mistake in choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate based on some very, very bad advice. Is it completely factual? Probably not 100% so. But boy does it feel like could it be. The initial high that came when Sarah Palin completely killed it with her smashing debut on the national political stage had the McCain campaign ecstatic. Palin would be the savior of the ticket, and they couldn't believe their good fortune in having found her. Victory was within their grasp. But then things start to go terribly wrong. One-by-one the campaign staffers have to come to grips with the fact that Sarah Palin doesn't know much about anything. She is completely clueless on critical concepts like foreign policy. And it's the resulting downward spiral that makes the film so darn entertaining. Julianne Moore plays Palin almost too sympathetically as she gets remade from politician to actress, blindly repeating lines which have been prepared for her because she doesn't understand the issues enough to think for herself. And all the while her escalating popularity makes Palin increasingly dangerous, eventually dominating McCain and dooming the campaign to a Saturday Night Live punchline. If there's one thing I took away from Game Change, it's how terrifyingly close we came to having a vapid joke like Sarah Palin just a heartbeat away from the presidency. It's a scare that no horror movie can match.
• Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I was actually looking forward to the idea of a revisionist history where our 16th president was a ruthless vampire killer. It sounded fun. Alas, the movie was most definitely not fun, because everybody involved took the film way too seriously. This was a big mistake, because there's nothing to take the edge off the intense violence that permeates one blood-soaked scene after another. One would hope that the result would be a bitchin' action-horror film, but there's not a lot of horror to go with the action (which is actually pretty good). And so what we're left with is a crazy-ass concept for a film with very little substance. I was not impressed.
• The Iron Lady. I was told by more than a couple people that this film about the life of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was boring. But I decided to watch it anyway because the thought of Meryl Streep as Thatcher was literally too good to be true. And, indeed, it was her performance that held me riveted to my tiny seat-back screen. But that's about all that held me captive. The story was a big ol' mess. It vacillated between present to past with little regard for timing or coherence. One timeline had zero relation to the other, and it was this sloppy writing which sabotaged what could have been a fascinating straightforward biography. Still, Thatcher led a fascinating life which was kind of represented here, and Streep certainly made the film anything but boring to me... so I didn't hate it. Actually kind of enjoyed it, despite the missed opportunity it represented.
• Brave. The story of a princess who isn't content to settle down and get married sounds like a modern-day Disney Princess cliché that's the complete opposite of the original Disney Princess cliché. Fortunately, this is a Disney-PIXAR film, where clichés have a tendency to at least be interesting and beautiful to look at. Brave is both. I just wish it was paced a little better. There's a few too many moments that drag on a little long and are a bit morose to fit in with the overall tone of the film. That being said, it IS beautiful. Astoundingly so. There's not a single frame of this film that doesn't look amazing. And there are a lot of clever and funny moments that saved the movie for me.
• Battleship. Holy shit. It would be easy to say that making an alien-invasion movie out of a board game doomed this film to failure... but, if anything, it's this one thing that made it barely tolerable. The only moment... the only one... that I found even remotely entertaining was when the heroes were picking their targets on a big "Battleship grid." Everything else was so inanely stupid and ridiculous that not even the decent special effects reel could keep me from fast-forwarding through this utter turd of a movie.
• Moonrise Kingdom. I am such a huge Wes Anderson fan that I didn't want to experience his latest work on a tiny airplane seat-back screen. But when Battleship turned out to be such a stupid piece of crap, I needed something to watch. I ended up regretting it of course. Moonrise Kingdom is beautiful, wonderful, witty, smart, and filled with a warmth that few filmmakers can manage. I really should have waited to see it on the big screen (or at least my home theater). Which is not to say it's a film for everybody. Those who can't appreciate Wes Anderson's quirky vision may have tough time embracing the odd world he's created. Even so, there's an all-star cast that's performing at the top of their game in a coming-of-age love story that's charming enough to please everybody.
• After-Flight. Arriving at Seattle I was once again embarrassed and humiliated that Seatac International Airport is the way that so many people will first experience my home state. The airport just keeps getting worse and worse, and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight as to how low things will go. I arrive at Customs only to find that the escalator is broken. This is no surprise. Most of the escalators are busted to shit most of the time. Stuff is always leaking, falling apart, torn up, or broken at Seatac. And, indeed, when I make my way to the C/D concourse and find yet another fucking busted escalator, I press the elevator call button and find that the button light is also not working (which made me think that the elevator was broke too). By the time I get to my gate at the C concourse, where there's no place to sit because Seatac has ripped out most of the seats to make way for shops, I've just fucking had it. Whomever is in charge of this shithole needs to realize that this is no way to run an airport. Flying now-a-days is already miserable enough without having to put up with this kind of shit at an airport.
And... my flight (which is overbooked and on weather watch warning) is maybe leaving in ten minutes. Here's hoping...
Posted on Monday, October 29th, 2012
There's nothing quite like staring at weather satellite data during a hurricane all day long to make you feel utterly helpless. With each passing hour I find myself thinking of all my friends in the path of armageddon, knowing full well that I have nothing to offer them except my frantic hopes for their safety.
As I type this, "Hurricane Sandy" has made landfall and is ravaging New England with a surge of floods, 90-mile-an-hour winds, and resulting power outages. The photos being released are horrific, with many places I know ending up under water.
A lot of which will clear up after the surge has passed, though the damage will have been done, I'm sure.
But what about all the water that's collected below ground in tunnels and subways and the like? It's all going to have to be pumped out... and that's something that's going to take a lot of time (and a lot of money) to make happen. For a city like New York which relies so heavily on their subways for transportation, this is a frightening prospect.
But New York City is nothing if not a symbol for endurance under pressure, so I have no doubt they will prevail tonight... and in the future.
All my wishes for a speedy recovery to everyone who weathers this storm.
Posted on Tuesday, October 30th, 2012
It's impossible for me to fathom the influence that Star Wars has had on my life.
In more ways than one, the saga of a "long time ago in a galaxy far far away" changed everything. My fascination with Greek mythology and magical heroes of lore gave way to a love of science fiction. My ambitions of becoming a doctor gave way to an obsession with becoming an astronaut. Drawing flowers and mountains gave way to drawing space ships and alien creatures. Playing with toy cars and trucks gave way to playing with an 8mm camera... complete with hand-drawing laser blasts and lightsabers directly on the film with a magnifying glass and a Sharpie marker. Nothing was the same for me, and that's just as it should be when one grows up in the era of Star Wars.
The original film was released when I was 11 years old. I don't think I saw it until months later in its second-run at the local Vue-Dale Drive-In (long since torn down). I can't remember the details. But I do remember the obsession that followed. I remember getting my hands on every issue of Starlog magazine I could find and going insane over the speculation for the inevitable Star Wars sequel.
Then 1980 happened.
And The Empire Strikes Back was unleashed on an unsuspecting 14-year-old me who stood in line to see the movie on opening day at the Liberty Theater. "Unsuspecting" because there was no way on earth I thought that there could ever be anything greater than Star Wars... only to find out that there absolutely was.
And it was then that my love of all things Star Wars was made permanent. The Empire Strikes Back remains one of my favorite movies of all time. It led me into a Star Wars obsession which had me collecting every action figure, toy, pillow-case, magazine, and kick-knack that I could find. And, because even that wasn't enough, I became fanatical about tracking down interviews, specials, articles, and anything else related to the making of the films. Eventually the "behind the scenes" information was almost as important to me as the films themselves.
My addiction was severely tested in 1983.
Though I loved all the space battles and light saber fighting in Return of the Jedi, the burp jokes and Ewok teddy bears reduced a once great sci-fi epic to kiddie fodder meant to sell toys. It was a pretty big let-down after the sci-fi triumphs that was Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.
But Star Wars had been imprinted on my soul, and there was no going back... even when George Lucas unleashed the unbelievably shitty prequel movies.
Which I hated.
But there's always something to come along and remind me of my love for the original two films. Most recently was this...
Which is a book I highly, highly, recommend. You can get it at Amazon here.
Which brings us to today, where George Lucas dropped this bombshell...
"It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers."
And, just like that, Disney acquired LucasFilm.
Which both thrills and terrifies me.
Thrills me because George Lucas is (assumably) done fucking up the franchise he built.
Terrifies me because Disney could easily fuck things up even worse if they put the wrong people on the property.
All I can do is hope that Disney understands that kids today are far more sophisticated than "burp and fart jokes" and Jar Jar Binks idiocy now-a-days (something I don't think Lucas ever comprehended). As the near-miracuous success of The Avengers has so aptly demonstrated, a serious approach to genre entertainment can pay off like gangbusters, because that's what people are dying to see.
And how frickin' amazing would it be to take Star Wars back to the mind-bogglingly awesomeness we got from Irvin Kershner with The Empire Strikes Back?
Suddenly I'm 14-years old again.
I guess we'll find out in 2015 if I stay that way...
Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
Stay safe this All-Hallows' Eve...