#TwitterFiction: April Fool’s Jokes

Last night I decided that an “April Fool’s Joke” was actually a creepy little story that might or might not involve someone being tricked. I came up with a few tweets before bed and started posting them first thing this morning. I’ve collected them all below.

Flash Fiction: After The War

Tennis Ball

(image via Wi Bing Tan on Flickr)

After The War is a short story I wrote for a contest at Mash Stories. The prompt was to write a 500 word story that used the terms “tennis ball”, “bunker” and “animal rights”. I didn’t make the shortlist, but you can read other entries at the Mash Stories site.

Doug. I found the tennis ball. I know you were trying to hide it from me. I don’t know why you would do that. Weren’t we friends? Didn’t we get along? I know things are different after the war, but I thought we had an understanding. We had mutual respect. That sort of thing. I mean… that was my favorite tennis ball!

They send me in as part of the clean-up crews. I’m good at it. Good at finding all the hiding places. I go in first because I’m the best. Most of the time we don’t find anything interesting. Dead bodies are old news. We’ve all seen plenty. They stink up the place and we pull them out. Pile them up and burn them. What we’re really looking for are the secrets. The things the other side kept from us all these years.

Well, today they sent me into your house. Of all places! It felt like I hadn’t been there in years, even though the war was over in no time at all. I didn’t think I’d find much in the way of secrets, but I search every house just the same.

I did think I might find you, but you weren’t there. No dead bodies, either. Just my favorite tennis ball. I only found it because a bomb blew out half a wall. It knocked down the shelf where you hid the ball. I recognized it immediately. Very sneaky of you.

Listen, Doug, I’m a patriot like everyone else here in bunker number nine. I know that if I saw you again today we couldn’t be friends. It’s just not in the cards for us. That doesn’t mean I don’t have good memories of us together. We were fond of each other, weren’t we?

I believe in the cause, I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know your side of the story. It just hurts to know you hid something like this from me. It validates everything our glorious leader, Seamus, says about relationships with humans. “You can’t trust humans!” he says, and I didn’t want to believe him because you seemed okay enough.

When the uprising began, did you join in the call for our heads? Did you run and scream and hide, or did you stand and fight? You seemed like a brave enough human, like that time you scared away those raccoons, but it’s hard to compare. I learned about humans through what I saw and what the others told me, but I don’t know everything. I only really had one-on-one time with you.

If I see you again, I will want answers. I am going to keep looking, keep searching in houses. I will dig and sniff everywhere. If I find you and I don’t like what you say, I will tear out your throat. After all, I will let nothing stand in the way of my comrades and our god-given campaign for universal animal rights.

Micro-Fiction: Physical Double

Twins playing chess

I wrote “Physical Double” for a contest at Prime Number Magazine. The prompt asked for a 53-word story in the form of a want ad.

WANTED: Exact physical double. Long lost twin or unlikely genetic experiment preferred. Must be willing to shave all sinister facial hair and recreate common mannerisms. Fool all friends, family, lovers and co-workers to receive generous bonus payment upon completion. No pet allergies or hidden agendas. Call 555-2566 for more information and to apply.

Girls, Nudity and Critical Foot-In-Mouth Disease

Lena Dunham in Girls

I’ve only barely watched Girls, but it’s clear from what I’ve seen of it that realistic, awkward sexuality is an important part of the show’s DNA. Accordingly, when Tim Malloy from The Wrap discussed Lena Dunham’s nudity at a recent Television Critics Association panel for the show, he set off a miniature firestorm when he said he didn’t “get the purpose” of all that clothes-free acting.

Although I definitely don’t want to add to the dog-pile that inevitably occurs when someone makes a faux pas that goes viral, I would like to discuss some aspects of Malloy’s “question” that may help explain why this incident rubbed so many people the wrong way.

To provide context, here is Malloy’s quote, transcribed as part of the post above:

I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show. By you particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you say no one complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they’re doing it. They’re doing it to be salacious. To titillate people. And your character is often naked at random times for no reason.

This immediately inspired rage-filled reactions from the combined panel of Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner and Lena Dunham, and I think it’s easy to see why.

There are at least three things about this “question” that make it frustrating: In a forum designed for questions and answers, Malloy stood up and spoke his opinion instead of asking an actual question, leaving the panelists to respond to the first interpretation that came to mind. He talked about Dunham’s nudity – a well-worn topic for as long as the show has been airing – in a way that implied he didn’t find it titillating because she in particular was naked instead of someone else. Finally, he wrapped up by saying that sexual content was included in the show at “random times for no reason,” which implies the writers are careless and arbitrary about including nudity in the show.

When Malloy discussed this further with Apatow, he was told that “there’s a way to word a question about the reason for nudity on the show and it was not done elegantly,” which got me thinking. How could Malloy approach this topic to both clearly communicate his intent and avoid offense? For the sake of this post, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt and operate under the assumption that he didn’t actually mean to personally insult Lena Dunham by implying that she shouldn’t be naked so much.

It’s clear that Malloy feels that Girls has crossed the line into including nudity just for the sake of it. I think it’s a fair criticism that HBO oftentimes seems to include nudity in all their shows just because they can, and it’s definitely possible that the freedom of paid cable would inspire show creators to include more nudity than is strictly necessary. If Dunham’s nudity was surprising or funny the first few times it appeared in the show, does it still serve the same purpose after the newness has worn off?

However, even if excessive nudity might be a fair criticism when leveled at HBO in general, in context it reads like Malloy’s personal reaction to Girls and Lena Dunham in particular. Accordingly, rather than flatly stating what he thought, he should have phrased his question in a way that it might cause the panelists to consider that possibility and address it.

Here’s how I might have phrased this question more effectively:

Nudity and sex have been a big part of Girls from the beginning, oftentimes presented in an unglamorous, realistic way. Do you think that those moments will always be a big part of the show, and if so, how do you avoid including them just for the sake of it?

Two important things here: this is actually a question, and my opinion never comes into it. I’m not telling the panelists what I think, but I am leading them to a possible conclusion. I’d bet you anything that if Malloy had done those two things, his question would have sailed right on through without further comment.

Watch Your Fucking Mouth

Al Swearengen

I’ve been reading a lot of unproduced screenplays recently, and a few things have been jumping out at me. First off: a lot of writers fumble on structure. A lot of what I’ve read has shown clear signs of competence but wandered around plotless for upwards of fifty pages. Some writers can pull off plotless, but most of them are novelists.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of writers are really bad at swearing. I’ll read a script full of characters saying fuck every other sentence and it just rings untrue. I always feel a bit silly when I ding a script for “too much swearing”, so I’ve been trying to put my finger on what bothers me about it. I’m no prude, and some of my favorite scenes and movies are full of swearing, so what’s different about these scripts?

I think the key difference is that these writers are swearing by default. They probably swear a decent amount in their own lives, they’ve watched plenty of movies full of swearing, so they throw in swearing because that’s how people sound, right? The problem is that they forget to make their choice of words about the characters saying them. The swearing is about the writer, not the characters.

People who accuse writers of laziness when they use vulgarity are missing the point. Swearwords aren’t automatically lazy; it all comes down to how you use them. Some of the greatest scenes in film and TV revolve around characters who swear up a blue streak, but they work because those moments reveal something about those characters and deepen our understanding of their feelings and motivations.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

1) Steve Martin blows up at a rental car agent in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Up until this point the character has been mild-mannered and relatively patient, but he’s been through such an ordeal that he finally snaps and lets loose in the way only a man on the edge would do. The way he swears also tells us something about him as a character; it’s like a dam bursting, this sudden barrage of profanity pours forth from him and he’s punctuating every fucking word of every fucking sentence with another fucking swear word.

2) Peter Capaldi (the next Doctor Who!) in pretty much every scene of In The Loop.

Malcolm Tucker swears constantly and with evident relish. He terrorizes everyone around him and uses words like knives. He isn’t content with throwing out a “fuck” here and there, he rants and raves and spins absurd metaphors and embellishes every sentence with an acidity that jumps out of the screen at you.

3) Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross.

David Mamet wrote this scene for Alec Baldwin. It isn’t in the stage play, but it’s by far the most famous moment in the movie. Baldwin is in the zone here, he’s all rhythm and rancor and cool energy. He swears for emphasis, to make a point, to hammer home his message and it flows like poetry. Say what you will about Mamet the man, but when he could write, he could write.

4) Bunk and McNulty in The Wire.

Two characters communicate entirely through the word fuck and it’s hilarious. They give every variation of the word its own meaning. A large part of this relies on the talent of the actors and their delivery, but the humor is there in the writing. The great part about this scene is that it shows us that the characters know each other so well that they can communicate with only one word.

These are all excellent examples of writers using profanity to tell us something about their characters. Swearwords are words like any others; they have a certain bite and relish to them, but if they are used poorly, they clang and fall flat just like any other.

So, what’s the takeaway? Should writers avoid profanity in their scripts? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they really just need to hear their words read aloud. I feel like a lot of the problems with dialogue become glaringly obvious when the words are read aloud. Mainly, though, it’s a matter of deciding why a character swears and how they swear.

The Complete “Ideas For Detectives”

The Complete “Ideas For Robots”

Flash Fiction: The Blue Door

Blue Door.This story was my submission for round ten of NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction contest. The prompt was to tell a story in the form of a voicemail message.

Karen? It’s me.
I don’t want… I don’t want you to freak out.
This isn’t a joke, I promise. It’s really me.
You need to stay calm.
I don’t have much time here, they…
You’re probably pretty upset right now. I know I would be too if I’d just seen…
I can’t imagine. What you must be going through.
But you have to listen. You have to listen to me, honey.
There’s a way to fix it. There’s a way to fix everything.
I wouldn’t be talking to you if there wasn’t a way.
These people here, it’s… amazing, honey. I wish you could see it.
The sunlight has this. I can’t quite describe it. I don’t have the words to…
Sorry, I’m getting sidetracked.
Karen, honey, you need to do exactly what I say.
The police have probably already talked to you, but if they haven’t… don’t mention this call.
They won’t understand. It’s very important. You have to keep this a secret.
Everything is going to be fine.
I need you to go downtown, to that little restaurant we used to go to.
The Italian one, the one your mother liked so much.
I almost proposed to you there, did you know that?
I hope it’s not too late. It doesn’t have to be too late.
Go to the restaurant downtown and talk to Tino. He’s the manager.
Tell him you need to go through the blue door.
He’ll know what you’re talking about.
Don’t let him talk you out of it.
He’s never been through the door. He doesn’t know.
He has a key, though.
I trust him. You can trust him.
Make him give you the key.
Ask him to take you to the blue door.
There’s a back way, he knows how to get there.
Make sure to take a coat.
Something about that place… it sucks the heat right out of you.
And I know how you get.
Your feet are like ice cubes.
But I don’t mind. I miss it. I miss you.
Go through the blue door and you’ll be in this tunnel.
Make sure you don’t touch the walls.
You might see some… people there.
I don’t want you to be afraid, but you have to be careful.
Some of those people can… they can do things.
They can’t be trusted.
But they’ll leave you alone if you don’t make eye contact.
Just face forward and keep walking and you’ll be there in no time flat.
You might want to wear some good boots, too. The floor gets kind of rocky.
You’ll come out into this big room.
I asked them once how big it was and nobody could tell me.
There are flowers there that look like they came from an alien planet.
Don’t let the people there sell you anything.
The thing that looks like a dog is not a dog.
Head to the far side of the room and you’ll get to this big house. It’s a mansion, really.
Talk to one of the guards and tell him I sent you.
He’ll take you in to see the duchess.
Tell her what happened.
The whole story, from the beginning.
Tell her that I… that I’m dead.
She’ll know what to do.
She can be kind of scary, but she gets things done. She’ll help.
I know this is hard, but you can do it.
I have to go now. The connection won’t hold much longer.
I love you, honey.
I love you so much.

See You Next Tuesday: How and Why The Onion Crossed the Line

The Onion logoThe 2013 Academy Awards ceremony was last night, February 24th, and critics both amateur and professional are weighing in with various post-ceremony reactions. There weren’t any huge upsets – Argo won Best Picture, as the buzz had predicted – and most commentators agree that Seth McFarlane relied on too much crass humor and approached the ceremony as if it was a roast instead of a celebration. However, the most lingering controversy originated from outside the event, when The Onion’s Twitter account tweeted (and later deleted) a joke that referred to nine-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis as a “c—”.

The Onion quickly posted an out-of-character apology from their CEO first thing this morning, but memories are long on the internet, and there are some people who will never forgive them for this incident. The interesting thing is that The Onion has a long history of posting edgy satire, but as far as I know, this is the only time they’ve ever chosen to publicly apologize for one of their jokes missing the mark. I definitely agree with their decision to remove the tweet and apologize; it was thoroughly tone-deaf and completely unfunny. However, I think it’s interesting to consider why that joke didn’t work when compared to other equally controversial pieces on the site. For example, earlier in the night they used the n-word in a joke about Quentin Tarantino and it seems to have passed unnoticed.

First off, the most obvious problem with the tweet is that it places a nine-year-old girl at the center of harsh satire. Even if it wasn’t the author’s intent, it was far too easy to read the tweet as a genuine attack on a child, which is not something that most people are willing to overlook. However, I also think it’s notable that the tweet’s style didn’t match The Onion’s normal editorial voice. It was written in a casual, off-the-cuff “live-blog” style and was followed by tweets structured more like their signature “Area Man” format.

Part of what makes The Onion work so well is the way they juxtapose a distanced, impersonal editorial style with shocking satire. One of the best pieces I’ve seen on the site recently, Teenage Girl Blossoming Into Beautiful Object, is also one of the most chilling things I’ve ever read because it rings so horribly true. That article is satire on the level of Jonathan Swift, where the correct response is horror, not laughter. The Onion’s comedy works largely on the understanding that they are almost always saying the exact opposite of what they believe; in rare cases, such as their stunning, pitch-perfect response to the Newtown massacre, they put less ironic distance between the article and its true intent, but those pieces are still presented as fake journalism or simulated editorials.

That distance is part of what makes it understood that the target of their satire isn’t necessarily the apparent subject of their posts. Along those lines, I’d imagine that the target of the tasteless joke about Miss Wallis was actually the sort of person who would say horrendous things about a nine-year-old actress excited about being at a massive awards ceremony. (For examples, check out the first few comments on this Jezebel post.) The problem was all about the joke’s presentation and, most crucially, word choice. Instead of working as an anti-exemplary comment on the misogynist nit-picking that dominates award shows, the tweet read as a face-value takedown of a young actress.

However, I’d argue that if the joke was presented in The Onion’s editorial style, the intent would have been clearer and the joke might have received a more measured response. Imagine, for example, if the joke was written as one of their headlines or couched in a fake editorial. Of course, I doubt there’s any way they could have worked in the c-word without coming off as grasping for shock value, and I think better jokes can be made. I do think there’s a valid satirical target found in the occasionally poisonous discussions about Miss Wallis’ nomination (or really, discussions of any actress), but the most important thing to make clear is that she is not that target.

Write Every Day for a Month, Part One of Twelve

Last year I bought a giant wall calendar that I used to track my writing habits. I used a green check to indicate days when I wrote, and red checks on days that I didn’t. I bought the calendar a few months into the year, so one of the first things I did was put red checks through those months. This was not a good beginning.

I ended up writing only intermittently, usually one or two days here and there followed by weeks of nothing. Lots of red Xs, easy to see from across the room. It didn’t take long before I only updated the calendar occasionally, and usually only to add a bunch of red Xs. I did have success late in the year when I wrote a story and had it accepted for publication, but after that I struggled with all of my follow-up work, and pretty soon I stopped updating the calendar at all. It was clear that my system wasn’t working.

However, I still wanted to find some way to track my writing and inspire myself to keep doing it every day. I’ve been wracking my brain for years trying to figure out a way to apply my reading habits to other parts of my life. Finally it occurred to me that I shouldn’t track days I didn’t write because it was just demoralizing. Instead, I should only track my successful days.

Luckily I had this brainstorm at the start of the month, just in time to begin a new goal and put myself on solid footing. I took a quick trip to Target and picked up a new calendar along with some stickers I would use to track my progress. You can see the results below.

January Writing

I’m proud to say that I wrote every day in January of 2013.

One of the things that was a huge help was the fact that I kept my criteria for writing very forgiving. I knew there would be days when writing would be the absolute last thing I’d want to do. Days when I’d be exhausted or put it off until the last minute. Usually both at once.

Instead of forcing myself to work on Fiction Fit For Publication, I decided that any kind of writing would count towards my goal. That meant writing in a journal, free-writing, flash fiction, prose fragments, blog posts, anything that went on for more than a hundred words or so. At first I fell back on journaling or free-writing pretty often, but once I started getting into the swing of things, I found it much easier to blog regularly.

I updated Full of Words the most, but I also wrote some pieces for GamerSushi that I’m pretty proud of. I quickly discovered that writing every day began to take away some of the specter of writing in general. Blogging was no longer quite so intimidating because I knew I could knock out a book review in under an hour if nothing else came to mind.

Today I’m kicking off February by writing this post. My goal is to continue taking things easy. Sure, I want to start producing more fiction, but right now the important thing is writing every day no matter what. I have a feeling that the more I write, the more I’ll want to write, and the easier it’ll be to tackle something more ambitious.

Until then, I have plenty of books to review.



Written in response to a flash fiction challenge posted on Chuck Wendig’s blog.

Jake hefted the bag and pushed his way through a wall of vines and into the clearing. A thorn caught him on the cheek and his fingertips came away bloody when he gingerly felt the cut. He cursed under his breath and pressed his sleeve into the side of his face while he took a look around the clearing.

The bag was heavy and full of clanking metal, so he grunted and dropped it before striding purposefully to the edge of the trees and walking the perimeter. He counted off distances in his head, idly checking leaves and twisting branches as he passed. When he finished the circuit he did a quick bit of mental calculation, nodded to himself, and returned to the bag, which he opened and up-ended. A pile of thick metal bars spilled out on the forest floor and he regarded them critically.

He picked up two lengths of metal and walked to a likely spot on one side of the clearing. Standing so that his legs were shoulder-width apart, he carefully laid the bars down, one to each side. He did his best to keep them parallel, but absolute precision wasn’t required at this point, so he didn’t spend too much time fussing with them. Instead, he walked briskly back to the bag and grabbed another two pieces of metal then lined them up much the same way.

He spent the next hour or so laying out two parallel lines of metal bars that ran from one end of the clearing to the other. His forehead was drenched with sweat when he stopped, panting, and regarded his work, which looked like nothing so much as an ambitious child’s attempt at train tracks. He took a few deep breaths, wiped the sweat away, and began the next part of the process. The important part.

He produced a rag and a small glass bottle of golden liquid from one pocket, unstoppered the bottle, and poured some of the liquid into the rag. He leaned down and wiped the rag down the entire length of one line of metal bars, replenishing it with liquid as necessary. When he’d repeated this process with both lines of metal, they seemed to glow faintly with a strange inner light.

Jake stoppered the bottle again, returned it to his pocket and took a small leather-bound journal from another pocket. He turned and walked a few feet back from the lines of metal, opened the journal and flipped through until he found the pages he was looking for. After clearing his throat and taking a deep breath, he began reading.

As he spoke the words in a steady, booming voice, the lines of metal began to shimmer. As they shimmered, they began extending further into the forest on each side. The trees parted around them, forming first an arch and then a tunnel that stood ten feet tall and a few feet wider on each side. When Jake finished his recitation and closed the book with a snap, the resemblance to train tracks was unmistakeable.

His work done, Jake returned the book to his pocket, bundled up the empty bag and sat down on the forest floor to wait. He pulled a flask from an inner pocket and took a quick slug, wincing as the liquor burned his throat. He wondered, not for the first time, why there couldn’t be an easier way to arrange a meeting with the Colonel.

It wasn’t long before he heard the far-off sounds of a train approaching. When it began applying brakes, he gathered his things and stood. The engine burst into the clearing with a squeal and immediately filled the air with clouds of steam and the smell of burning metal. A few cars passed before it came to a complete stop.

A door on the closest car opened and a conductor stepped out, beckoning Jake forward with one furry paw. Jake presented his ticket and the conductor smiled in a toothy, feline way that wasn’t altogether reassuring, but that didn’t stop him from walking up the steps into the car’s darkened interior. He was barely inside before the train lurched into motion.

The car was cloudy with sweet-smelling smoke, and the seats were full of creatures with eyes that glinted yellow and green in the dim light. Jake did his best not to stare. The car he wanted was further back, so he kept walking until the smoke thinned out and the decorations weren’t quite so shabby. Here the seats were replaced with enclosed rooms that allowed the upper-class customers a modicum of privacy, not to mention better air quality.

He found the right door and knocked. After a moment’s hesitation, a gravelly voice spoke from within.

“I said most explicitly that I was not to be disturbed!”

“It’s me, sir. You called for a meeting.”

“I suppose I did. Come in, then.”

The Colonel was alone in the compartment, sitting on one bench with his face to the window, watching the forest speed past. Jake noticed that the thick orange hair on his face and hands was starting to show a little grey.

“You’re late. Pull down my briefcase and take a seat.”

Jake did as he was told and waited while the Colonel thumbed in a code and clicked open the briefcase. He pulled a thick red file folder from within and handed it to Jake before shutting the briefcase again and setting it aside.

“Start reading. We’re going deeper into the Shade Kingdom than you’ve ever been before.”

Jake hesitated for a moment under the Colonel’s laser-like gaze, then flipped the folder open and began reading. The Colonel turned back to the window with a sigh and left him to it.

“Beautiful country you have here. Shame it won’t last.”

Jake ignored this and turned another page, only to involuntarily suck in a breath at the face pictured there. Her face.

This was going to be interesting.

It’s Official: I’m Hooked on PC Gaming

The Witcher 2Last night I played The Witcher 2 for several hours by accident.

I’d just re-installed the game on my Mac Mini’s Bootcamp partition after realizing that I could free up space by reformatting a spare external drive. I sat down at the computer to make sure everything was up to date and running properly and ended up getting sucked into the game.

Freeing up disk space was actually kind of a huge deal because until recently I could either have The Witcher 2 installed (it takes up most of the partition with its 21gb install) or I could install a handful of games in Steam. When your hard drive is always about to run out of storage space it definitely puts a damper on things.

Now, however, I have more than a dozen games installed – most of them purchased during the 2012 Steam Winter Sale – and I’m starting to get excited about the possibilities of PC gaming. The best part is that a significant number of the games I’ve bought recently are compatible with Macs and actually play quite well on my Macbook Air (even if it does tend to run hot and loud the entire time I’m playing).

A number of factors have combined to pique my interest in PC (and Mac) gaming. Right now we’re in a lull between AAA console game releases, so I’m already on the lookout for something new to play. However, I’m not really that excited about the inevitable next generation consoles. The Wii U landed with a thud, and I’m having a hard time believing that Sony and Microsoft are going to come up with anything particularly impressive, especially considering the fact that they’re probably betting on Kinect and Move more than I’d like.

Dragon Age: OriginsAdditionally, it seems clear that digital distribution will become more and more prominent in future console generations. I find myself buying more and more digital content, and I could definitely foresee a future where I buy all of my games digitally.

That said, what I really want to see on consoles is a business model similar to what Steam already delivers today – deep discounts and regular sales. Steam’s pricing makes it more than competitive with both used games and piracy.

Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Microsoft and Sony will never quite catch on to the Steam model, so why wait? Instead, why not hitch my wagon to Steam wholeheartedly and invest in a full-fledged gaming PC instead of a next-generation console? The initial investment will probably be slightly higher, but a well-built system should hopefully have more flexibility and longevity.

I’m already impressed with the results I get running games on my current systems. I’ve played several hours of both Dragon Age: Origins and The Witcher on the Air, and when I want to play a Windows-only game, I switch over to Bootcamp on the Mini (there is a Mac version of The Witcher 2, but it claims the Mini’s specs aren’t good enough). It only stands to reason that a dedicated gaming box would improve my results.

I will admit that I am hesitant to pay full retail price ($59.99) for a digital game, but that might change over time, especially with a dedicated system. Until then, I can always just wait around for the next crazy sale on Steam.

The Love Lives of Cats and Dogs

Cat and Dog HuggingI, like many other singles of my generation, am a member of several dating websites. I’ve tried out both paid and free services with varying success, and can’t remember the last time I asked someone out in person. Honestly I think it might have happened a grand total of one time in the eight years since I graduated from college.

When browsing a dating site I start with a few general criteria: Does she live close to me? Is she within a certain age range? Does the site’s mystical relationship algorithm think we’re compatible? And, of course, do I find her attractive enough to check out her profile? I try to take the last criteria with a grain of salt, of course; online profiles can be deceptive, whether intentionally or otherwise, and sometimes pictures just don’t capture how someone actually looks in person.

The thing that surprises me, however, is that I’ve come to feel that the most important factor in a girl’s profile is how she feels about cats. She can be well-read, smart, funny and generally great on paper, but if she hates cats, it just won’t work out.

On one hand it’s a practical consideration. I live with four cats, two of which are mine. If the girl I’m dating doesn’t want to hang out at my place because I have cats, she probably won’t be cool with moving in together someday if I want to bring my cats along for the ride. On the other hand it says something about her temperament if she doesn’t like cats and isn’t willing to put up with them.

I grew up with both cats and dogs, and I wouldn’t mind getting a dog someday. However, I know that dogs are a lot of work and that I’m not ready to devote myself to training, exercising and housing a dog right now. I don’t have the patience or the yard necessary to make it work. I have cats because they fit with my lifestyle and I happen to like the furry little bastards (except when they wake me up at 7am on a Saturday).

What I find when I go on dates is that my perspective is a rare one, at least when it comes to the sort of girls I find interesting. I mostly seem to meet passionate dog owners who rave about dog ownership; in theory some may write on their profile that they like cats or don’t have an opinion, but in practice when the subject comes up in conversation, the truth is that they just don’t like cats and can list a few reasons why.

I guess what I’m saying is that what I’m really searching for is a woman who will take me, cats and all. I wouldn’t mind having a dog in my life, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask that she be willing to put up with my cats. I might be willing to compromise in other areas of my life, but I can’t imagine not having at least one cat to my name.

The only thing worse than a girl who hates cats? A girl who hates to read. Shudder.

The Best Albums of 2012 (So Far)

The Day Riots

Written in response to a flash fiction challenge posted on Chuck Wendig’s blog.

The day riots. When I stumble out the door of my apartment into the mid-day glare, the sun feels closer than it has ever been, and I imagine it burning off the sea in great clouds of steam. I wince and look down at my feet, tears stinging my eyes. That is when I see that I am standing in a pool of rainbow light, broken apart by the air thickening around me. I gasp and dive back through my still-open front door just before a ball of electricity explodes behind me, right where I had just been standing.

I lay on the floor, deafened and shaking, and curse under my breath when I realize that the ringing in my ears is, at least partially, my battered StormAlert shrilling dire warnings from the table where I left it. I stay flat on my back until my heart stops banging around inside my chest and the insistent beeping tapers off into silence.

I drag myself up off the floor and shove the StormAlert into my pocket like I should have in the first place. It really only gives me a few seconds’ warning, but sometimes that is all I need. I’m still standing, more or less. Never mind my attempt at suicide through absentmindedness.

Before I head back out into the day, I grab a sweat-stained baseball cap from the hallway closet and jam it down over my forehead. When I reach the threshold again, I stand there for a few seconds, holding my breath and listening to the strange, shattered stillness of the morning. The only signs of my near-death experience are a few scorch marks on the pavement and the acrid scent of burning ozone. I shut the door behind me, clutch the StormAlert in my pocket like a talisman, and hurry down the sidewalk with my head down against the glare of the sun. First to the store, then to Georgia’s.

At the checkout line, the owner tries to smile at me, but it curdles into something more unnerving than friendly, and I gather up my bags without a word. I’ve been a regular at this store for years, and I remember chatting with him some days. Empty pleasantries, but comfortable. Now the haunted look in his eyes makes me avoid eye contact, and his store is a ghost town. He keeps it open out of some perverse combination of stubbornness and denial, and I can almost believe things are normal again until he bars the door behind me.

Georgia only lives a few blocks away, but any time spent outside is doubly dangerous, so it always feels like miles. I stay beneath awnings and back in shadowed doorways, trying to find what cover I can. Everything smells like burning and it only makes me walk faster.

When Georgia opens the door, her stare is a thousand miles away. Only after I catch my breath and croak her name for the third time does she snap back to reality and let me into the refrigerated darkness of her apartment. I dump the grocery bags on her kitchen table and search for a light switch. When the overhead light sputters on, she blinks and clutches her shoulders, a wan smile fluttering across her face in a pale imitation of her former toothiness.

I do my best to smile in return, and she begins unloading the bags and putting them away. I am watching the curves of her back bend and stretch underneath the material of her thin white shirt when her voice floats back over one shoulder.

“How have you been? Still up to no good?”

She makes it sound airy and nonchalant, like always, and now I do grin despite myself.

“Oh, you know. Same old, same old. Keeping my head down.”

We put the rest of the groceries away in silence, then she pours two glasses of iced tea. We sit in the living room, sipping quietly, letting the glasses sweat moisture into our hands, and it feels like we are the only two people in the world.

“Are you staying safe, Joe?”

“Absolutely. I had a near miss this morning, but –” her head snaps up and I rush to reassure her “– but I’m fine, it was nothing, don’t worry about me.”

“I do worry about you, though. What would happen if you…”

She trails off and looks deep into the bottom of her glass, some imagined future tightening the skin around her mouth. Her skin is pale, almost translucent in the reflected light, and her hair hangs limp and unwashed, brown roots creeping further up into the blonde. She looks years older than she did before all this started, but she is still the most beautiful woman in the world.

I look at her and after a few moments I work up the courage to ask again, even though I already know the answer.

“I could stay. If you want me to.”

She shakes her head, no.

“He could be back any time. You know how he…”

She trails off, nothing more to be said. I sit there, drinking my tea, letting the ice clink against my teeth. After a moment I feel her hand, cool and damp and small, slip into mine and I squeeze it gently.

We sit there for a while in silence. When my tea is empty, I set down my glass and she pulls my head into her lap. I fall asleep with her stroking my hair.

When I wake, it is early evening, and I gather my things to return home before dark. We embrace in the doorway, and I press my hands into her shoulders, my nose into the side of her neck.

She stays carefully inside her apartment when I leave. I drink in one last look of her before she closes the door and I turn away to walk back home through the heat still radiating up from the pavement outside.

OK Computer: An Autobiography

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the passage of time, mostly because I just turned thirty and that is supposed to Mean Something.

One thing that struck me recently is that this year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Radiohead’s OK Computer, which is literally half a lifetime ago.

I can’t quite wrap my head around it.

OK Computer was a complete revelation when I first heard it back in 1997. You could draw a line and separate my experiences with music into the years before and the years after I heard it.

In the years before, I mostly listened to what I heard on the radio or on MTV. My dad had great taste in music, and I followed his cues. I listened to Casey Casum’s Top 40 while mowing the lawn. I enjoyed music, but I never really thought about it that much.

As I grew older, I started slowly branching out and defining my own taste. I made a GeoCities fan site for The Fountains of Wayne after their debut album was released. I distinctly remember buying Beck’s Odelay and REM’s New Adventures in Hi-Fi during a trip to Borders. I heard Ben Folds Five late at night on the radio when I should have been asleep, tracked down a copy of Whatever And Ever Amen at the library and dubbed a copy to casette. On the opposite side of the casette I dubbed London Calling by The Clash. I starting watching 120 Minutes and reading record reviews. I listened to Pavement’s first album, but didn’t quite get it.

OK Computer was different, though. After I bought it, I stuck it in my CD player and didn’t take it out for six months. I listened to that album daily. Sometimes several times a day. Sometimes several times in a row. One time I sat in bed listening to it on repeat and fell asleep with my eyes open.

No other album has ever grabbed me so thoroughly and refused to let go. I listened to that album until the CD was too scratched to play and I had to buy another. I was obsessed with Radiohead. I scoured CD bins for their singles and rarities, and no price was too high for a few tossed-off b-sides. I looked forward to nothing more than the premiere of the newest Radiohead music video.

OK Computer marked my transition from music listener to music lover.

Following Radiohead through all of their ups and downs only broadened and deepened my appreciation of music in general. Their experimentation led to my willingness to experiment and listen to genres of music I never thought I would enjoy. A few years after OK Computer came the advent of file sharing, and my musical tastes exploded in the face of so many options. It only got more eclectic from there.

In fact, I feel certain that my fifteen-year-old self would find some of my current favorite bands unlistenable or bizarre.

Of course, I sometimes wish I could go back to a time when an album could hold my attention for months at a time. Nowadays my attention span is much shorter. No album stays in rotation for very long. I’ve heard so much that it is rare when new music surprises me.

I also no longer feel quite the same way about Radiohead. They’ve made some fantastic music since OK Computer, but they’ve also made some terrible music, and it’s clear they had a hard time following up what is generally considered their masterpiece. To be honest, I rarely listen to them now.

Even still, I feel certain that I will always have a deeply personal connection to OK Computer. Maybe someday I’ll find another piece of music that means as much to me.

I won’t be holding my breath, though.

For now I think I’ll focus on trying not to think about how old I will be when the 25th anniversary rolls around.

Back to Earth

Just watched the Red Dwarf: Back to Earth miniseries. I didn’t mind so much that it ignored the cliffhanger that ended series eight because I hadn’t watched Red Dwarf in a while and basically forgot everything that happened in the older series.

I did mind, however, the fact that they completely fouled up the sound design for the show. Previous series of Red Dwarf have always had a laugh track, either a live audience or added in after the fact, but this time around they decided to forgo a laugh track to “make it more cinematic”.

Unfortunately, they forgot to put in anything else in its place except for a rare musical cue. Most of the show was airless and quiet, and the so-so comedy fell flat. I’m not saying it would have been hilarious if they’d scored it properly, but I think there’s a certain alchemy to sound design in comedy, and Back to Earth played more like a rough cut that was missing its polish.

Why I Bought a Kindle

Yep, you read that right. I am now the proud owner of a Kindle, despite discussing my skepticism of ereaders earlier this year. I suppose it might seem odd that I’ve made the leap considering my stance that paper books are here to stay, but I do think the two worlds can co-exist.

One of the things that changed over the past six months is that the Kindle dropped in price to be competitive with the iPad and other ereader offerings from Borders and Barnes and Noble. Once the price tag came down to $189, buying one started sounding a lot more reasonable to me.

I did check out some of the competitive offerings before I went with the Kindle. The wi-fi Nook from Barnes and Noble has a price point of $149 and some decent features, but when I got my hands on one in the store, I wasn’t too impressed with the navigation screen at the bottom of the reader. I also felt like the PDF features on the Kindle were worth spending a little bit more, as was the more robust software and online store. The Kobo from Borders didn’t really come into play just because it doesn’t have wifi or 3g capability.

However, price wasn’t the only deciding factor. I’m currently in the process of moving to a new apartment, and I’m starting to realize that owning several hundred books is actually a complete pain in the ass. When I was packing, I filled a dozen or so small boxes and still had half a bookcase of books left to pack. After carting an endless number of boxes across town, I’m definitely starting to understand that the most practical solution would be to make my new book purchases digital-only. It’s either that or I keep buying bookshelves and never move again.

Also, now that I’ve actually got a Kindle to play with, I’m starting to discover other benefits. One of the biggest is that there are a lot of free ebooks out there in the world. One of the best resources is ManyBooks.net, which provides downloads of basically every ebook format under the sun.

Most of the books on that site are ones that were published before 1923 and are in the public domain, but that basically means I’ll never have to buy a copy of a classic book ever again. Naturally, I downloaded the most intimidating tomes that came to mind: War and Peace and Ulysses. There are also fantastic modern authors like Cory DoctorowCharles Stross, and Kelly Link who release downloadable versions of their books. It didn’t take me long to stock my Kindle full of a pretty decent list of reading material.

Another nice thing about the Kindle is that it is pretty easy to read it one-handed, or lay it flat and read while eating. This is a big deal for me, since I do most of my reading during my lunch breaks. Obviously this means I’ll have to be extra-careful about spills and spaghetti sauce on my hands, but it’s a decent trade-off. I won’t have to warp a paperback out of shape just to keep it open while I’m eating.

Long story short, I’m pretty happy with my purchase so far. It doesn’t mean I’m going to stop going to the library, or buying the occasional used book at Half-Price books, but I’m hoping it will prevent me from someday suffocating to death under a pile of unread books. Or at least make my next move a little bit easier.


Alright, as you may know, I own a lot of books, and most of the books I own are ones I’ve bought and haven’t read yet. I read constantly, and yet my book collection never seems to get any smaller. Funny how that works. Anyways, lately I’ve been trying to focus on reading books I already own, and to help myself out, I’ve made a priority pile of books that I want to make sure and read this year:

From left to right:

A Madness of Angels by Kate Griffen, Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey, Bite Me by Christopher Moore, The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, Horns by Joe Hill, Sleepless by Charlie Huston, Under The Dome by Stephen King, Going in Circles by Pamela Ribon, Ariel by Steven R. Boyett, Changeless by Gail Carriger, Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch, Cuba Libre by Elmore Leonard, Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany, The Shadow of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell.

A lot of these are fairly recent purchases, but a handful of them are books I’ve had knocking around for years and years, with Cuba Libre and Dhalgren probably being the oldest. I can distinctly remember owning Cuba Libre when I was a freshman in college, and I know I read the first few chapters of Dhalgren sometime around then as well. As for the David Mitchell book, it’s an Early Reader from LibraryThing, and I have to read it within the next few months to receive any more books from the program.

I think this could be a good way to make my book collection more manageable. By setting aside a specific pile of books that I can make smaller over the next few months, it might feel more like I’m putting an actual dent in my collection.

Another Successful Trip to Recycled Reads

Made a trip down to Recycled Reads after running some errands and spent $6 on 4 books after some lucky finds:

1. The newest Jonathan Lethem book, Chronic City, which just came out in October 2009. The copy I found is in perfect condition, and it still only cost me $2.

2. Espedair Street by Iain Banks. I love Banks’ scifi work (as Iain M. Banks), but his literary fiction seems to be a bit hard to find in bookstores. This particular book isn’t even in print in the US anymore.

3. Fitzpatrick’s War by Theodore Judson, which also appears to be out of print. Recommended by my good buddy Eddy Rivas.

4. I Will Fear No Evil by Robert A. Heinlein, because one can never have enough Heinlein.

Racing Towards Insanity

In “That Which Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stranger“, we find a cyclist who goes insane every time he races:

The craziness is methodical, however, and Robic and his crew know its pattern by heart. Around Day 2 of a typical weeklong race, his speech goes staccato. By Day 3, he is belligerent and sometimes paranoid. His short-term memory vanishes, and he weeps uncontrollably. The last days are marked by hallucinations: bears, wolves and aliens prowl the roadside; asphalt cracks rearrange themselves into coded messages. Occasionally, Robic leaps from his bike to square off with shadowy figures that turn out to be mailboxes. In a 2004 race, he turned to see himself pursued by a howling band of black-bearded men on horseback.

(via @colinmeloy)

Overton Window

The Overton window is a concept in political theory, named after its originator, Joe Overton, former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. It describes a “window” in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, in a spectrum of all possible options on an issue.

Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous “outer fringe” ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable. The idea is that priming the public with fringe ideas intended to be and remain unacceptable, will make the real target ideas seem more acceptable by comparison.


The Nature of a Good Plot Twist

I finished playing Heavy Rain last night, and it got me thinking about plot twists and their function in storytelling. Heavy Rain is a game that places itself firmly in the “thriller movie” genre, for better or worse. It’s great at building tension and getting you to care about the characters you meet and control, but it falls into the trap that undermines so many thrillers, namely that its endgame centers around a “shocking” reveal that doesn’t actually make any logical sense.

(Just a quick warning: this rest of this post will contain spoilers about movies that are old enough I will assume everyone has seen them. There will be no Heavy Rain spoilers, however.)

The problem with plot twists, see, is that by nature they should make you jump out of your seat or gasp in horror. You’d never expect that [CHARACTER NAME] was the killer in Heavy Rain, after all, and you are of course horrified that you empathized with the character while playing. That’s the root of the problem, though; in order to make the twist ending truly surprising, the game’s writers decided to fill the story with red herrings and give no real concrete clues about the real killer’s identity. They didn’t want you to figure it out ahead of time, after all.

I think this is why very few storytellers can pull off a truly stunning twist that holds up under scrutiny. If a writer works to make her story internally consistent, she may layer in too many readable clues and people will write off the twist as “predictable” and feel cheated. The easiest shortcut to making a completely unpredictable twist, then, is to make that twist completely illogical or at odds with everything leading up to it. This will at least ensure a visceral shock in the moment, but ultimately… the audience just feel cheated in the light of day. Six of one, half dozen of the other.

There are the occasional successful twists, of course: The Sixth Sense, Fight Club, and The Usual Suspects come to mind. From what I can remember of the first two, clues to predict the twist were layered in throughout both movies. If you go back and re-watch them a second time, knowing the twist reveals the story rather than undermining it. Of course, there may be those of you out there who figured out the twists halfway through because of the clues.

The Usual Suspects treads in kind of dangerous territory, however, in that its twist ending makes you question why everything you just watched even matters. If the entire movie is a lie told by Kevin Spacey’s character, why should I even care what happened? I think what helps Usual Suspects is that it is such a well-made movie we forgive it for playing with such a hackneyed trope. It’s rare that “it was all just a dream!” is used as anything but a cheap gag.

I think the best twists are often so subtle you may not even realize they are there. I would argue that Minority Report has a twist ending, for example, although everyone who saw it with me disagreed with my perspective. My argument was that when Tom Cruise’s character is arrested and put into cold storage, everything that happens after that is a dream, thus explaining why he is rescued and everything works out positively for the characters. The end of the movie doesn’t pull back the curtain and reveal this, however, so it is entirely up for interpretation. The only clues you are given are a few lines from the jailer character about whether his charges dream while they are in storage.

In any case, I’d love to play another game in the style of Heavy Rain, if only the makers could be convinced to forego the showy twists of thriller movies and focus on things like character development and an internally consistent story. Surely there is a way to work in shocking reveals without causing massive inconsistencies and plot holes.

Books Bought Today

Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis, The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies, Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson

Went on a jaunt around town this afternoon and stopped in at Recycled Reads, the library’s used-books store that runs primarily on old library books, donations, and volunteers. They actually have a pretty great selection of books, made all the better because everything is absurdly cheap – hardbacks are $2, and paperbacks are $1. I dropped a total of $4 to pick up the books shown above. I was also pleased to discover they changed their hours to make them far more convenient – 12-6 Thursday through Sunday, instead of the previous hours, which were seemingly random.


Wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-uppers”) is the nomenclature or slang for Japanese businesses that specialize in drawing an individual into an affair. Though most often used to gather evidence of infidelity for use in a divorce case, it may also be used for purposes ranging from bringing shame to someone or securing a resignation of an employee. Employees of these companies pose as strangers who happen to meet the target, and then become involved in an affair. In 2005, there were around twelve such companies in Japan, but has grown since with companies offering services through the internet.

(via WikiPedia)

Airport Novel

Airport novels are always paperback books of a small but thick format. These books are seldom made to last, printed on inexpensive newsprint, and they often begin to fall apart after one or two readings. Their titles are often printed in a gilded, silvery or vividly scarlet finish, which more often than not starts very quickly to dissolve and stick to the reader’s fingertips. This is not a problem for their intended purpose; they are made to be bought on impulse, and their readers often discard them when finished.

(via WikiPedia)

Books of The Future!

Just got caught up reading a very lengthy (and contentious) comment thread over at Making Light regarding Amazon vs. Macmillan and eBooks in general, and it got me thinking. One of the commenters puts forth the idea that eBooks are the ultimate future of reading, and that those silly old things made out of paper will disappear into history shortly enough once eReaders make it big.

I see a couple of problems with this. First off, the 250 unread books currently looming on my bookshelves beg to differ. They sure aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Same with the millions of books in new and used book stores and libraries. The commenter theorizes that non-electronic books are going to become collector’s items for folks (like me) who just can’t let go of physical books and want to live in the past.

The problem with this, though, is that the argument is completely backwards. eReaders are the luxury item. The people who are most interested in eReaders are people who read a LOT because they see the attraction of carrying around 100s of books in their pockets and also because they think they can justify the sticker price. I definitely know that if I took the plunge and dropped several hundred dollars on an eReader any time soon that I’d feel the need to buy all my new books on that platform to justify the cost. Continue reading “Books of The Future!”

On Track

animal-scaleThanks to a suggestion from Eddy, I started tracking my calorie intake a few weeks ago using an iPhone app called Lose It. He told me that just being mindful of what he ate helped him lose weight, and the app made it even easier. I’ve been feeling a bit self-conscious about my doubling chin and growing gut, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Amazingly enough, even though I’ve exceeded my goals more than once since I started logging everything I eat, I’ve already lost a few pounds. Now I just have to convince myself to start exercising…

A Finely Crafted Long-Player

record-playerI feel like my music collection is stuck in a bit of a rut lately. Nothing I’ve got on the ‘Pod is really catching my fancy and requiring constant listening and re-listening. The only real exception is Black and White Town by Doves, which is an absolutely fantastic song, but I am very much an album listener. I love nothing more than the ebb and flow of a finely crafted long-player. Don’t get me wrong – some great music has been released this year, but all of the albums I have on hand are feeling a bit stale. Any good recommendations?

One Year Is Nothing

“There are dreams and there are career plans. They are not the same. Some dreams are compensatory: visions that we retreat to in times of stress, like blankies for infants, things that comfort us and tell us what we need to be told. The dream of being a famous writer can be like that: a dream of infantile power and attention that disguises the more immediate need — for safety, self-love, serenity, peace in our hearts.”

via Should I leave L.A. after one year? | Salon Life.

On Writing (Taking a Really Long Time to Bear Fruit)

Just a quick post to point out a nice long post John Scalzi made re: the dedication/stamina/stubbornness necessarily to write and get published as a novelist. Here’s a choice pull-quote I can relate to:

[Some writers] start writing something that they thought might be a book-length idea, only to find not only did it not qualify as a short story, it was better for everyone involved if the stunted, weird thing was taken behind the tool shed, whacked with a shovel and buried without anyone else knowing it ever existed.

From “Why New Novelists are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow“.

There Might Be Spoilers

In a recent post, John Scalzi discusses whether there should be a statute of limitations on spoilers:

If there is, in fact, a spoiler statute of limitations, the question then becomes, well, how long is it? I throw that question open to the crowd, but here are my suggestions:

Television: One week (because it’s generally episodic, and that’s how long you have until the next episode)

Movies: One year (time enough for everyone to see it in the theaters, on DVD and on cable)

Books: Five years (because books don’t reach nearly as many people at one time)

Personally, I absolutely think there should be a point in time where it’s okay to discuss major plot points in a story without having someone scream at you for spoiling it. I personally don’t seek out spoilers, but I don’t think that reading them or coming across them accidentally necessarily ruins my actual enjoyment of the resulting product.

For example, well before I ever saw No Country for Old Men, even without having read the book, I knew perfectly well what happens to one of the major characters near the end of the movie. This didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the movie at all, and in fact it was one of my most favorite movies of the year.

Ladies and gentlemen... I've traveled over half our state to be here tonight. I couldn't get away sooner because my new well was coming in at Coyote Hills and I had to see about it.Same goes for There Will Be Blood. Several of the movie blogs I read were talking about the infamous “I drink your milkshake” scene, and I ended up reading about the basic details of it before I saw the movie. That doesn’t change the fact, however, that nothing could prepare me for the sheer impact of that scene when I saw it in the film. Taking out of context it makes it sound absurd and laughable, but when you’ve followed the characters through the emotional journey that brings you that point, it makes a kind of mad sense.

I don’t think movies are the main source of spoiler accusations, however. With the advent of TV On DVD, more and more people are able to catch up on entire seasons of television shows by renting them or buying them. Within my group of friends, there are a lot of folks who only watch TV on DVD, and don’t even pay for cable. However, along with this trend has come a growing belief that the statute of limitations on spoilers never expires, even if you’re discussing a show that has been off the air for years.

Continue reading “There Might Be Spoilers”

A Belated Best Of

Floral HeadphonesIt’s a bit late, but I’ve decided to finally throw together my “best albums of 2008” list. I spent too long thinking about it, and then spent some time procrastinating after that, and now it’s March of 2009 and I feel a bit silly. To make up for that, I’ve dug up representative videos for each album, some of them offical and some of them fan made (but interesting). All of these albums are still in heavy rotation on my iPod. 2008 was a good year for music.

2008 was also a good year for buying music on Amazon Mp3, which has become my digital music destination of choice simply because of the daily deals they have. For example, the newest Lily Allen album was $3.99 on the day it came out. I’ve also bought several pretty great albums for $1.99 a pop when they were on sale. Everything in the list below is available on the site, and a decent number of the albums are less than $10 to purchase.

My list and a collection of music videos follows after the jump…

Continue reading “A Belated Best Of”

I Need More Sitcoms

The Big Bang Theory

I’ve been a TiVo owner for almost a year now, and before that I’ve had a generic Time Warner DVR for years. Over time some watching habits have become clear. I might rave about Lost or Battlestar Galactica or any number of other dark and challenging series, but inevitably those are the shows that end up piling up on my DVR. I love all of those shows unreservedly, but at the same time I am rarely in just the right mood to watch them.

On the other hand, I am always in the mood to watch a good sitcom. For example, this weekend Netflix shipped the first disc of Big Bang Theory, a CBS sitcom about a group of nerdy academics who live next door to a cute blonde. It’s a silly show, but it’s a lot of fun, and I ended up popping it in my DVD player as soon as I received it and didn’t stop watching until all six episodes on the disc had played out. Once I was done with that, I wanted to watch more, so I went out on a quest to buy the first season on DVD (I didn’t know it was going to be a quest at first, but it was sold out at the first four places I went).

I just got done watching the remaining 11 episodes from the first season in basically one sitting. Sure, every episode was only about 22 minutes long, but I haven’t had a TV marathon like that in years. I used to be the guy who would finish an entire season of Buffy in one weekend, but I don’t quite have the stamina for that anymore… except when it comes to sitcoms, apparently.

The problem, however, is that there aren’t many new sitcoms being made these days, and there are only so many really strong shows out there worth following. NBC’s lineup is the strongest – 30 Rock, The Office, and to a lesser degree My Name is Earl. CBS has How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory, ABC has Samantha Who and Scrubs, and TBS has My Boys. I love all of those shows, but I’m basically current on almost all of them (except for Big Bang Theory).

The number of times I am in the mood to sit down and watch a good sitcom far outweighs the number of worthwhile sitcoms available for me to watch. I’m in no mood to start watching any of the “Stupid Husband Annoys Pretty Wife” shows that make up the entire rest of the sitcom landscape, but I need more things to watch. I’ve definitely searched out as many good British sitcoms as are available, but this is definitely a case where the British tradition of “6 episodes a season for 2 seasons total” gets on my nerves. I’ve already watched every episode of Spaced, Extras, The Office UK, Black Books, and The IT Crowd ever produced.

I suppose what this really comes down to is a call for more new shows and maybe a few good suggestions for existing shows I may have missed. I’m firmly convinced that there are still worthwhile things to be done in the world of sitcoms, even in multi-camera shows with a laugh track, so I just wish the networks were more willing to produce new sitcom pilots. I don’t necessarily mind the move towards hour-long comedies like Chuck, Ugly Betty, and others, but there’s something to be said for shows that can be consumed in 22 minutes while I eat my dinner. It’s great that there has been an amazing renaissance in the general quality of television today, but it seems like it has come at the expense of the good old fashioned American sitcom. It’s a shame, really.

At least I have another season of Big Bang Theory to keep me busy for a little while…

Excuse the Dust

Screwing Things Up

Hi folks. As you may have noticed, I’ve been tinkering with the design of my site. I got tired of the fact that my blog had become dominated by links from my Delicious account and embedded videos, so I decided to revamp the structure of things around here. I also felt like freshening things up with a new theme choice. I hope you like it.

Some of the changes were more drastic than others. First off, I deleted all of the posts that were nothing but digests listing my Delicious activity. Although it was nice to have some of those links front-and-center, you can get the same effect by viewing my page on the Delicious website. I decided it was a bit redundant to continually post those links to the front page here. However, they are included in the sidebar in the Lifestream section, along with events from a number of other social websites.

As for the video posts, they’re still here, but I’ve decided to treat them more like a sideblog instead of the major source of content they had become. The most recent video I’ve come across will always be at the top of my sidebar, and any older posts are available on the Watching page.

Part of what this new version of my site means is that the front page may not be updated as often, but when it does get an update, I’m hoping that the posts will be more full of content instead of the shorter posts that have become the norm around here.

An Excellent Sub Sandwich


a submarine roll (I prefer white over wheat just because it usually has a better crust)
Genoa salami, deli sliced
deli sliced ham (fresh from the deli or at least without preservatives)
provolone cheese
spicy mustard
pickles (I prefer Vlasic sandwich stackers)
sliced hot peppers
salt and pepper

1. Slice submarine roll lengthwise, making sure to leave a hinge on one side so that the two halves are still attached. Lay it out open-faces and spread spicy mustard on one side and mayonnaise on the other.

2. Layer on Genoa salami, then ham, and then a few slices of provolone cheese.

3. Place sandwich, open-faced, in a toaster oven. Toast for about 5-10 minutes, or until bread is lightly crispy and cheese has melted. This is a good time to slice the onion and tomato.

4. Once sandwich is toasted, layer on sliced tomato, pickle(s), onion, hot peppers, and lettuce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Fold over sandwich and enjoy! I usually end up dripping tomato juice all over myself and the plate.

Note: If I’m packing this for my lunch the next day, I leave off the lettuce and tomato and wrap the whole contraption tightly in saran wrap. I find that letting the sandwich sit in the fridge overnight helps the flavors intermingle within the sandwich. I especially appreciate the way the juice from the hot peppers works with everything else.

Jenny Lewis vs. Rilo Kiley

A bit of background: although I enjoy Rilo Kiley’s music, I’ve never been a huge fan. They are a nice little indie band that does quirk and usually does it fairly well. I have several of their albums, but I haven’t listened to them much recently.

The first time I heard their most recent album, “Under the Blacklight“, I was turned off pretty quickly and ended up deleting it from my hard drive. From that first impression, it seemed clear that they had decided to jettison everything intimate and quirky about their sound in an effort to make it big in the mainstream, and I found the results lacking.

As for Jenny Lewis, I enjoyed her first album under her own name, thought it was a nice change of pace, but, again, I didn’t think it was anything earth-shattering. It seemed more like Neko Case-lite with a girl group spin. It’s one of those albums that I appreciate but never listened to that much or that often. However, when her second album, “Acid Tongue“, came out, I listened to a few samples and was immediately hooked. I bought it pretty promptly and it’s not only in heavy rotation, it’s easily one of my most favorite albums of the year.

After listening to Acid Tongue a few dozen times, I started wondering if I had written off Under the Blacklight unfairly, so I decided to give it another spin and see if there were any hidden gems I missed the first time around. To make a long story short, there are definitely some pretty amazing songs on the album, but they’re the exception to the rule. Although my first impression was harsh, it wasn’t too far off base.

Continue reading “Jenny Lewis vs. Rilo Kiley”

The “Lost” Legacy of Heroes

Heroes continues to occupy my mind this week. I think that’s another good sign that it’s a show worth watching. The shows that I end up removing from my recording schedule are the ones that I don’t care about, that I don’t miss when they’re gone.

Heroes, lurching monster that is is, is still compelling enough that it keeps me rehashing its convoluted story-lines around the metaphorical water-cooler we call the internet.

Accordingly, something that has been occupying my mind this week is the giant influence that Lost has had on network TV in general and Heroes in particular. Heroes is one of several shows that were created in the wake of the initial huge (and unexpected) success of Lost. Suddenly every network had its own ensemble show with complex story-lines, flashbacks, and the occasional hint of science-fictional doings. Most of these shows disappeared fairly quickly.

Off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure that Heroes is the only “post-Lost” show still on the air. I qualify it as a “post-Lost” show simply because its debt to Lost is right out there, front-and-center. However, rather than outgrowing its debts and influences over time and coming into its own, Heroes seems to be slowly collapsing under the weight of its creative debts. There are a few aspects of the show that seem particularly drawn from Lost, for better or worse, and I’ll break them down after the jump.

Continue reading “The “Lost” Legacy of Heroes”

Who watches The Watchmen? Definitely not the Heroes writers.

First off: a disclaimer. I’m going to discuss this week’s Heroes’ episode in my post, so if you’re spoiler averse, please stop reading now.

With that out of the way, I think those of us who are current on the newest season of Heroes can all safely agree that the show is a complete mess. By the same token, I think if you are current on the show, it’s because there’s still something about it that keeps you hooked and ready for the next episode. It’s almost as if it has some kind of charisma that makes you want to forgive its plot-holes and serious lapses in writing.

It’s why I keep watching, and keep hoping that the writing will rise above the current level and the writers will avoid any serious lapses in logic or character motivation. I have a feeling I will continue to get my hopes up only to have them dashed yet again.

This week’s episode, “Villains”, was a particularly good example. It focused entirely on a flashback seen through the eyes of a “dream-walking” Hiro. It was nice to have an episode that centered on characterization as opposed to express-train “save the world” plotlines, but at the same time it only introduced more serious logical lapses to an already overstuffed storyline.

Considering how this season has been received in the press and by fans, this episode felt like a last-ditch effort to remind the folks at home about the good times from season one. A number of familiar plot points from the first season were revisited and fleshed out from new perspectives. For the most part these details weren’t much more than filler, but one storyline did at least have an interesting premise, namely that Sylar’s descent into murder and mayhem wasn’t entirely his own doing.

Essentially the roles are reversed here, with Noah Bennett as the manipulative Company man (“villain”) who wants Sylar to keep killing so that they can study him, and Sylar as the relative innocent (“hero”) who truly regrets his initial act of violence and tries to commit suicide out of guilt. Sylar is a fascinating character, and I do like seeing more of his backstory, but I do wish that it didn’t have to come at the cost of the imposing air of menace he cultivated throughout seasons one and two. That isn’t my biggest problem with this storyline, however; my real issue is with the involvement of Kristen Bell’s character, Elle.

In this flashback storyline, we are told that Bennet and Elle partnered together to study Sylar. Elle was sent in undercover to draw him out of his shell by befriending him. She has second thoughts, however, and begins to have sympathy for Sylar as they become close, and she asks Bennett to back off.

The big disconnect is that when we meet Elle for the first time in season two, she is a daddy’s girl and an immature mess, completely sheltered and reliant on The Company for everything. In her scenes here, she seems much more in-control and mature, not to mention moral. In addition to that complete change in character, there are scenes later in season two where Elle saves several characters from a rampaging Sylar. I don’t have the episode in front of me to watch, but from what I remember there wasn’t even a hint of a shared history when they confronted each other.

You could, perhaps, explain some of this away as a case of a serious mind-wipe or manipulation performed on Elle so that she doesn’t remember what happened with Sylar, but that seems like a lazy explanation for what is, on the whole, half-assed writing. This particular storyline felt like it had some potential to be interesting, but it barely stands up to any kind of scrutiny. Overall, this week’s episode amounted to nothing more than plotholes interrupted by filler.

In conclusion, I think Heroes is best appreciated when you don’t analyze it too closely. I liked this week’s episode a lot more when I first started writing this post, and my opinion seriously went downhill from there. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching, though. Shameful, really…

Internet Explorer: Bane of My Existence

I spent a few hours tonight working on a new site for the Smooth Few Films crew. GamerSushi is a blog focusing on gaming news and reviews, and Eddy wanted to make sure it was ready before he attends PAX this weekend.

Most of the site’s setup was fairly straightforward, but one piece of the design caused me no end of frustration. Apparently transparent PNG images, which look great with transparencies, don’t play nice with Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6.0 on Windows.

Considering how bad people are about updating their browsers, having a weird-looking PNG on your site will definitely be noticeable to a fair number of your visitors. Accordingly, I spent way too long messing with the site trying to figure out a fix or workaround to get things moving. This was especially frustrating since I don’t have easy access to, say, a Windows computer with Internet Explorer of any kind on it. Thank god for Browsershots, that’s for sure.

Anyways, to make a long story short, I tried every Javascript hack I could find in Google. None of them worked. Not a single blessed one. Maybe it’s just me, and I implemented the code wrong, but it’s kind of hard to tell when I’m not the one sitting in front of the computer with a broken image.

In the end, the solution was a bit crude. Apparently it is possible to comment out HTML code for specific browsers using conditional comments. Basically I put a few lines in the html that made it so a certain code snippet only displayed in Internet Explorer versions older than 7.0. I then did a bit of CSS trickery to hide the offending PNG and replace it with a shitty-looking GIF. It isn’t perfect, but it’s better than a giant grey box behind the PNG.

Here’s the code:

1. <!--[if lt IE 7]>
2. <style>
3. #sitename img { display: none; }
4. #sitename { background: url(<?php bloginfo('stylesheet_directory'); ?>/images/header_logo.gif) no-repeat; width: 360px; height: 95px; margin-left: 30px; margin-top: 30px; }
5. </style>
6. <![endif]-->

Lines 1 and 6 are the conditional comments. Line 3 hides the PNG image, and then line 4 sets the GIF as a background for the H1 tag and makes sure that it is properly sized and aligned. I did it this way because I didn’t want to mess around with Javascript, since I didn’t have any luck with the Javascript examples I had found on the web.

Inexplicable Cover Redesigns

I’m continually fascinated by the process of book cover designs and redesigns. I actually follow several blogs that focus on nothing but the subject of new book cover designs, often comparing hardback to paperback and US to UK or international versions. It’s really interesting how books are sold in completely different ways in different countries. Re-released versions are also alternately fascinating and disappointing, depending on the thinking behind the updated version. Here’s a good example:

On the left is an earlier cover for The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. The cover on the right is for a version re-released this year to coincide with Stephenson’s upcoming book, Anathem. For some reason all of Stephenson’s books (except for the Baroque Cycle) are being re-released with covers that match the style of Anathem: a shadowy figure, lit from behind and walking or running through a doorway at the end of a long hall or large space.

It’s kind of bizarre, especially since the new cover makes The Diamond Age look more like a Jason Bourne book than a post-cyberpunk / steampunk / fantasy novel about a girl and the virtual world that exists in her diary. The old cover may be a bit dated and “of its time”, but I think it does a much better job of communicating what the book is actually about, with its juxtaposition of rusty gears and amorphous 3D imagery.

If you’re interested in checking out a few good blogs focusing on book cover designs, here’s my reading list:

The Book Design Review
Book Covers
…by Henry Sene Yee Design
Book Covers Anonymous
Caustic Cover Critic

Mad + Burn

Television is pretty slow this summer thanks to the lingering effects of the writer’s strike, but there are a few gems worth checking out on cable. In fact, I’d argue that two of the best returning shows are premiering this summer.

Tonight is the second season premiere of Burn Notice, which was one of the most fun shows that premiered last year. If you aren’t familiar with the premise, it’s about a spy who gets a “burn notice” – basically, he’s fired in spy terms – and is marooned in Miami. As he spends his time trying to figure out why he got burned, he solves mysteries and helps people. It’s a good combination of action, comedy and drama.

As I’m posting this, the premiere has just wrapped up, but they’ll replay it this week, and it’ll probably be available on hulu.com very soon. Here’s a trailer for the second season:

The other highly buzzed show premiering its second season this summer is Mad Men. I’ve been telling everyone I know how great this show is. It’s about advertising executives in the 1960s, and it’s pretty much the best thing since sliced bread. Here are two trailers that do a good job of getting across the style of the show:

Tony Jaa Will Punch You Into Next Week

I’m a big fan of ridiculous martial-arts movies, especially the kind filled with complicated set pieces and moves that make your jaw drop in disbelief. Early Jackie Chan films are great for this kind of stuff, and Tony Jaa has taken that style and ramped it up about a 100 notches.

I’ve seen two of his films, Ong Bak and The Protector, which were both amazing. They were thin on plot, but full of mind-blowing fight scenes, made all the more amazing because there’s no CGI and no trickery with wires. Here’s a trailer for his newest film, Ong Bak 2 (no relation to the first):

The Beast With a Billion Backs

(Kind of crappy quality… hopefully they’ll release a better version soon.)

I Wrote This One, Too

This episode was a bit harder to write, but I’m really proud of how it turned out, especially considering how rushed I was when I wrote it. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to find more places for comedy and/or jokes.

Eddy, Nick and Daniel all say they’re happy with the tone of the episode and love how it turned out, but I knew there would be fans that might complain about it being “too serious”. Oh well. Can’t please ’em all.

Feel free to check it out, although I do recommend catching up on previous episodes first. The Leet World has become almost entirely serial at this point, so if you aren’t caught up on the previous episodes, you’ll be lost in the wilderness watching this one.

Wherein Woody Allen Makes a Movie About People Kissing

This trailer is pretty unique in that it doesn’t tell you anything about Vicky Cristina Barcelona other than it’s apparently pretty sexy… which is kinda weird for a Woody Allen movie. Thankfully, he stayed behind the camera. Someone must have finally convinced him he shouldn’t pair himself with girls 40 years younger than him.

Chaos Theory

It seems like Ryan Reynolds is slowly but surely working his way out of National Lampoon “comedies” and into actual adult roles in compelling films. The first definite sign was The Nines, which was just about the most meta movie I’ve ever seen that wasn’t written by Charlie Kaufman (and it was 2/3rds excellent and 1/3rd kind of lumpy).

It’s nice seeing him channel his charisma into something more “off the beaten path”, and I think he’s turning out to be a decent actor as part of the bargain. I even kind of want to see the most recent romcom he’s made.

In any case, I digress. I’ve just watched the trailer for Chaos Theory a few times, and I’m really looking forward to it. The trailer does try to tart it up as just another wacky comedy, but the horrible Comedy Font and arch narration can’t undermine the sheer off-kilter nature of the material at hand, and it looks like Reynolds is in rare form. Check it out:

I also recommend reading the Cinematical review, which makes it sound like a nice little film that hits a number of good notes.

Marked By Ash

There are a number of cool “mix tape” creator websites out there now. The notable few I’ve run across are muxtape.com, mixwit.com, and imeem.com. They’ve all got their own individual strengths… Muxtape works with iPhones, for example, but it seems like iMeem has the best selection, and Mixwit has the most customizable look and feel.

In any case, I’ve thrown together a playlist. The Jim O’Rourke and Pernice Brothers songs were the main inspiration for this mix – I built the rest around that general sound and lyrical tone. Enjoy!

EDIT: A downside of iMeem, apparently, is that some of the songs are shortened to 30 seconds when the playlist is embedded. If you click on the “standalone player” option, or go directly to the page on iMeem… you get the full version. How on earth does that make any sense? Suddenly less impressed with this toy.

Publicity Stills From “Will Eisner’s The Spirit”

Scarlett Johanssen as \"Silken Floss\"

Samuel L. Jackson as \"The Octopus\"

IGN has a few more stills, but they’re all behind the scenes stuff. Never heard of “The Spirit“? It’s Frank Miller’s first foray as a director by himself – his follow-up to Sin City (which is probably why it has a similar visual style). As for Will Eisner, he was one of the most influential comic book artists of all time, basically one of the first to write a long-form comic or “graphic novel” and establish it as a viable form of literature.

Disney + Philip K. Dick?

Walt Disney Philip K. Dick

(Domestic Release Date: Christmas 2012, Disney Digital 3-D(TM))
Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directors: Aaron Blaise, Robert Walker
Producer: Chuck Williams

Legendary storyteller Phillip K. Dick’s short story (his only experiment in the fantasy genre) becomes the basis for this fantastic and imaginative tale about an average man living in the Mississippi Delta, whose reluctant actions to help a desperate band of elves leads them to name him their new king. Joining the innocent and endangered elves as they attempt to escape from an evil and menacing troll, their unlikely new leader finds himself caught on a journey filled with unimaginable dangers and a chance to bring real meaning back to his own life.

Read the full press release…

The Fall

The Fall, starring Lee Pace from Pushing Daisies:

“In a hospital a little girl with a broken collar bone meets a bedridden man who starts telling her a fantastical story which reflects his state of mind. As time goes by fiction and reality start to intertwine in this uplifting epic fantasy.”

— Via Timo’s HD Movie Trailers in Miro

A Blog in Miniature

As you may have noticed, in the last week or so my blog has come back from near rigor-mortis to being chock full of super-short posts. To put it simply, I’ve been inspired by some web 2.0 goodness, and it feels great!

It all started when I signed up for a Twitter account. I discovered pretty quickly that the 140-character limit encourages regular off-the-cuff updates, much like a Facebook status feed, but with way more flexibility. I started posting cool links and random thoughts and it actually felt like updating a website regularly could be fun again.

It still didn’t quite feel like I was updating my blog, though – Twitter lived only in the sidebar of this site when I first started using it. After chatting with a few folks about really enjoying Twitter, Mark recommended that I check out Tumblr.

The interesting thing about Tumblr is that its seems more like a blogging mindset than anything tied down to a specific service or tool. I’ve never used the actual site itself, but I’ve taken what I perceive to be the Tumblring principles to heart.

Basically the impression I get is that a Tumblr blog, much like a Twitter, is all about short updates, but in a more multi-media fashion. Instead of status updates, you post that cool picture, video, song, quote, link, etc., that you stumbled across, mostly in the name of sharing, and generally with little or no commentary. The basic principle is the same, though – breaking free of the constraints of essay-style blog posts and just putting your thoughts and interests right out there.

I also came across a post where the author explained how he had configured del.icio.us to regularly update his site with daily digest posts full of his newest bookmarks. I’ve used del.icio.us intermittently for a few years now, but I’ve been thinking lately that I really need a good way of storing all the cool links and articles I get sent during the workday.

My problem with del.icio.us has always been that I tend to bookmark articles as “toread” and never come back to them. So far I’ve found that adding the links to my blog as a digest post helps me remember to watch the videos I save for later and read the ten-page articles I barely have time to skim at work.

Overall I’m pretty happy with my blog “makeover”, although I may continue tinkering. For anyone interested, here are the WordPress plugins and scripts I used to revamp my site:

Twitter Tools for regular Twitter digest posts and built-in posting from WP, and a mash-up of twitter.js and an existing Twitter Widget for my sidebar widget

QuickPost for the Tumblr-style posts, just because it automates a lot of the post creation and automatically sticks your entry into the appropriate category.

Postalicious for the del.icio.us digest posts. Highly customizable, and much better than the built-in options on del.icio.us (which I couldn’t get to work).

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2nd Teaser)

So… I Actually Wrote Something!

Yes, it’s true. Jeff James, continually procrastinating writer, has actually produced new work! Specifically, Episode #9 of The Leet World.

To be completely honest, I actually finished the script about a month ago, but I haven’t talked about it for a few reasons. First off, I wanted to wait until the episode was actually released. However, that happened on February 1st, and here it’s two weeks later and I’m just now writing about it. Can’t really explain that part, except that I did kind of want to wait a little while to see what people thought of the results. Most people seem to think I did a good job, so I guess it’s about time I talk about it.

In any case, I’d like to share the episode and talk a little bit about the writing process. If you’re completely new to the show, however, I’d recommend watching one or two of the previous episodes since the first part of my episode resolves a cliffhanger from the first half of the season.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the show, go ahead and check out the episode:

The final version you see there is about 85%-90% stuff that I wrote. The Player/hat love story (which is *great*, by the way) is the biggest addition they made, and is a joke I couldn’t even have come up with in the first place since I had no idea there was a freakin’ snow man on the map. There are also a few line tweaks and improvs here and there.

If you’d like to know more about the episode and my writing process, continue reading… Continue reading “So… I Actually Wrote Something!”

Goodbye, Weekend / Have Some Music Videos

I spent most of this weekend a) trying to keep theleetworld.com from melting after the site made it to the front page of digg (and a bunch of other huge sites) and b) looking at places to live.

For right now, the site seems to have stopped melting, and as for places to live, Tim and I came up with a good top 5 list. Roommate #3, Trey, hasn’t had a chance to look at the places yet, but if he doesn’t manage to do it tomorrow, he’s just going to have to trust us, because we need to get our applications in pronto.

Other than that, I’d like to share the following two music videos I just came across:

Goldfrapp – A&E

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

52 Books and a “Best-of” List

As you may know, I spent 2007 reading constantly, my goal being to read 52 books (or more) over the course of the year. I’m glad to say that I successfully reached my goal – my final count was 53 books! I’ve been meaning to write a post about this all week, but I’m only just now getting around to it.

Here are some numbers for you: 11 of the books I read were audiobooks. 5 were graphic novels. 15 were library books. Terry Pratchett was by far the author I read most, with a total of 10 books by him on my list. Lemony Snicket comes in second with 4 books.

I rated every single book I read on a scale from 1 to 10, but I rarely rated anything lower than a 7, although two books did get a 6 rating (Humpty Dumpty: An Oval and The City of Ember). I definitely started a number of books that I never finished, however, and a lot of those would have gotten a 6 or below, which is part of the reason I stopped reading them.

I discovered a number of great authors that have become some of my favorites, including John Crowley, Tim Powers, John Scalzi, and Charles Stross. I also finally finished White Noise by Don Delillo, which I first tried reading back in 2002 on the plane to London – this was the third time I tried!

The full list of books I read is available on the “Books Read in 2007” page, but I’d also like to pick out a sort of loose top 10 of the books I read this year. Each book’s page has a short review that I wrote when I finished reading it.

Last Call by Tim Powers Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco Night Watch by Terry Pratchett Pattern Recognition by William Gibson On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers Old Man’s War by John Scalzi A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore Glasshouse by Charles Stross Little, Big by John Crowley Firethorn by Sarah Micklem

1. Last Call by Tim Powers
2. Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco
3. Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
4. Pattern Recognition by William Gibson
5. On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
6. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
7. A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
8. Glasshouse by Charles Stross
9. Little, Big by John Crowley
10. Firethorn by Sarah Micklem

Honorable mentions go to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by you-know-who, It’s Superman! by Tom De Haven, and the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket.

Other Great Albums of 2007 (A Few Late Additions)

After reading through the various year-end lists, I tracked down a few of the interesting-sounding albums I hadn’t had a chance to listen to yet, and I discovered a few gems that I’d like to recommend as a sort of coda to my top 10 list:

Iron And Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

1) Iron and Wine – The Shepherd’s Dog

The Iron and Wine cover of “Dark Eyes” from the I’m Not There soundtrack is one of the standout songs on that album, so I decided to give Iron and Wine another listen-to, despite the fact that their Postal Service cover from the Garden State soundtrack was a bit mopey. This album is uniformly great, and if I had started listening to it earlier in the year, it would easily have been in my top 10 list. Rootsy, organic, full of beautiful harmonies and melodies, and highly recommended.

Battles - Mirrored2) Battles – Mirrored

My first exposure to this album was the video for Atlas, which I saw on Subterranean, i.e. the one hour a week (including 20 minutes of commercials) when M2 plays interesting music videos. The video is fairly minimal – just a shot of the band playing in the odd glass cube pictured on their album cover – but it fits the music, which is (mostly) instrumental rock, most of which is also very minimal, and generally composed of repeated percussion and industrial sounds. I’ve been drawn to more and more instrumental music in the past year or so, just because I find it hard to listen to vocal music when I’m reading (even though this was not an issue in my younger years when I had more brain cells…) Anyways, this one has really grown on me, much like similar music by Liquid Liquid did a few years back. “Atlas” and “Race: In” are the standout tracks here, although the band’s sound is a bit abrasive and may not be to everyone’s tastes.

LCD Soundsystem - 45:333) LCD Soundsystem – 45:33

This is actually a re-issue of an iTunes exclusive in a CD form. The new version splits up the formerly 45 minute first track into six parts (essentially the “movements” of the song) and adds on three bonus tracks (two b-sides and a remix). As you might imagine from my top 10 list, I’ve become a huge fan of LCD Soundsystem thanks to their second album. Much like the Battles album, this is primarily instrumental music (kind of a departure for the band), and I actually prefer it for reading because it’s a bit more soothing whereas the Battles album is more up-beat and rock-and-roll. Maybe I’ll use it for walking music when it isn’t so cold outside…

My Favorite Albums of 2007

Alright, in order for an album to end up on this list, it had to be an album that I find myself listening to regularly, even though time may have passed since it was released. I have several pretty great albums on my iPod that will end up on other end-of-the-year lists that haven’t quite grabbed me like the ten below.

This list isn’t perfect, of course, especially because I also limited myself to albums released in 2007. I guess including The Beatles album is kind of fudging things a bit, but it was a pretty amazing compilation that totally redefines what you can do instead of a vanilla “greatest hits” album.

Radiohead - In RainbowsLCD Soundsystem - Sound of SilverI’m Not There (Soundtrack)The Beatles - LoveQueens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Is IsField Music - Tones of TownIdlewild - Make Another WorldCaribou - AndorraRyan Adams - Easy Tiger

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows
2. LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver
3. Various Artists – I’m Not There (Soundtrack)
4. The Beatles – LOVE
5. Queens of the Stone Age – Era Vulgaris
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Is Is
7. Field Music – Tones of Town
8. Idlewild – Make Another World
9. Caribou – Andorra
10. Ryan Adams – Easy Tiger

To see what some of the professionals think, I recommend the AV Club Best Music of 2007 list. Much better than Pitchfork (even though I’ll read that one, too).

Guess I’ll Be Moving, Then…

U-Haul TruckRecently I’ve been dimly aware of the fact that it was getting close to time for me to go through the lease renewal process. I couldn’t remember for sure, though, whether the folks in the office would be contacting me 2 or 3 months in advance to get the process rolling. The last two times I’ve renewed they’ve definitely given me several weeks to decide. They’ve also raised the cost of my rent every time I’ve renewed. Supposedly my original rent payment was “highly discounted”. Whatever.

Anyways, on Wednesday night I came home to a note on my door letting me know it was time to renew my lease. Their offer? $685 a month, which is $85 more than I’m currently paying. The kicker? They only gave me until DECEMBER 1ST to decide if I want to renew at that rate. Otherwise I’d probably have to pay whatever the “market rate” of the apartment is… god knows how much that would be. The note also says that if I am going to move out, I have to give notice by the 1st. So, basically… they decided to give me the shaft.

Needless to say, I was pretty ticked off, and began frantically calling around to see if anyone was in the market for a roommate. The problem with living by yourself is that you can’t really save that much money by moving to another one-bedroom apartment of a similar size and quality. Saving money can’t really be your goal unless you’re willing to go from a large apartment (like mine) to an efficiency, which doesn’t sound attractive to me.

If I could find a roommate, though, I’d be set… I knew I could definitely save money with a roommate to help me split the bills. The problem was that when I asked around a few months back, it seemed like everyone I talked to already had a lease or plans to move in with someone. I wasn’t holding out much hope, really… January/February is kind of an odd time of year to move. The other problem with finding a roommate is that I’m not willing to move in with a complete stranger. It had to be someone I knew at least a little bit.

Well, long story short, through what I guess is a good amount of luck and random timing, I found myself a roommate who needs a place right around the same time: Tim Given (another Sig, for those of you who don’t know him). He actually already has a place in mind – a 2/1 duplex that works out to $450 a person, which more than justifies me getting the hell out of Martha’s Vineyard. He just so happens to know all of the great deals in town because he works for the place renting the property.

Although the actual process of moving is kind of hideous, I’m pretty excited about the idea of this particular move. I think it’ll be nice to live somewhere new. There’s also something really great about having a roommate around to promote human interaction.

If I work it right, this could be a good opportunity for me to get rid of some of my many possessions, including my (broken) leather couch, the armchair that has stuffing falling out, the millions of pots and pans and pieces of Tupperware I’ve got sitting in my shelves, and maybe a few of my 50 million books… if I can part with them.

“No Country For Old Men” – Charlie Rose Interview

Part one of this video is a pretty interesting sit-down interview with the Coen brothers, Josh Brolin, and Javier Bardem. If you haven’t had a chance to see No Country For Old Men yet, you may want to hurry up and go see it – it’s one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

Whoa, AMC Keeps Making Incredible Television

I already knew they had something good going after watching Mad Men (5 episodes left to go on my DVR), but check out the promotional images they’ve released for their new show, Breaking Bad, which premieres in January 2008:

Breaking Bad promo image

According to the site, the premise is as follows: “AMC’s addictive new series, Breaking Bad, is a darkly comic drama that captures life at a moment of irrevocable change. In the ultimate mid-life crisis, a high school chemistry teacher takes a match to his straight-laced existence – turning a used Winnebago into a rolling meth lab. Everyday life combusts in this uncontrolled experiment with the American dream.”

Not only that, but it stars Bryan Cranston, the dad from Malcolm in the Middle (I didn’t recognize him at first!) I think AMC might be turning into the new FX as far as edgy dramas go. Hopefully they’ll release a trailer soon.

Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest

So when I first started attending AFF, I had a fairly ambitious plan to blog daily about my experiences, but… as you may have noticed, this went by the wayside pretty quickly. I’m a blogging wuss, I know, but what can I say? Attending more than 12 hours of festivities in one day tired me out pretty quickly.

Here’s everything I attended after Thursday:


“TV Drama Today”
“Finding the Voice: Dialogue”
“Writing Comedy for TV”
“A Conversation With Glenn Gordon Caron
“Film Texas BBQ Supper”
Reservation Road


“Juno: From Script to Screen”
“Production Team: Friday Night Lights”
“Conference Wrap Party”


Will Eisner: Portrait of a Sequential Artist


Neal Cassady


Two Tickets to Paradise

Continue reading “Austin Film Festival: Day… um… All The Rest”

Austin Film Festival: Day One

As some of you may know, my buddy Alex works for the Austin Film Festival, and thanks to his generosity, I’ve been given a comped “producer” badge, which gives me full access to the festival – all of the panels, parties, and films. I asked off work today and tomorrow so that I can attend the panels.

Today was the start of the festival, and was a comparatively light day compared to what I have lined up for the rest of the weekend. Here’s a rundown of what I attended today: “Common Mistakes Writers Make”, “A Shot of Inspiration”, “Chicago 10“, and “The Walker“.

Continue reading “Austin Film Festival: Day One”

Welcome Back, TV Premiere Season

Here we are again… another year, and even more new shows to watch and watch fail. In the past few years I’ve paid much closer attention to the premiering shows, and I tend to check out anything with promise.

Of course, this means that I also end up watching plenty of shows that get canceled. Studio 60 is the most prominent example, of course, but I also watched Smith (I could tell after the pilot that it was done for), Help Me Help You (I had actually forgotten about this show), and Andy Barker PI. Studio 60 is the only one I really miss, but I started missing it a few episodes in after it never quite matched the promise of the pilot. It would also be nice if Andy Richter could find himself a successful show.

Earlier in the week I had a more ambitious goal to write a full review of every new show I watch, but I’m scaling that back a bit because I’m feeling lazy. I have, however, decided to rank the new shows I’ve watched so far:

Sam and The Devil1. Reaper – This is a must-see. The creators did a good job of establishing likable characters and the humor is right on target. The premise is dealt with in a fairly absurd way (“Sorry about that, son… we sold your soul to the devil to save your dad’s life!”), but overall that works for the tone of this show.

The actress who plays the love interest didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the show, but she was a late addition, replacing another actress, so hopefully things will gel more in later episodes. In fact, the most negative review of this show on MetaCritic says that “Reaper is strictly for fans of movies like Superbad.” How can you go wrong with that?

The main character from Journeyman2. Journeyman – I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this show. It gets major points for throwing in a completely unexpected twist, which is pretty impressive for a brand new show. I also liked that the character was resourceful enough to deal with the problems that time-jumping could cause for his life and marriage in the present.

I’ve read it did terribly in the ratings, however, so it may not be long for this world. Hopefully it’ll get some buzz and start holding on to more of the lead-in from Heroes. If you missed the premiere, you can watch the whole thing on NBC’s website, or you can buy it on the iTunes store, thanks to the funny ways of television production (just because it airs on NBC doesn’t mean it was produced by NBC).

Chuck at Buy More3. Chuck – This show was highly entertaining, but only if you can ignore the serious gaps in logic in the setup. Somehow Chuck is sent an email full of a huge number “encrypted images” that contain intelligence from the NSA and the CIA. When he watches a slideshow of these images (it apparently takes all night) he wakes up with a brain full of crazy intelligence that has been interpreted by the computer that the images were stolen from.

This raises major questions, like: How was someone able to send an “email” full of millions of images and possibly terabytes of data? Why on earth did the NSA and the CIA put “all of their secrets” together on one computer? Why did they encode all of these secrets into images? Was it some kind of secret training program, i.e. a more efficient way of teaching someone intelligence data? That would certainly make slightly more sense than the explanation given in the pilot.

I sound pretty negative about Chuck, I know, but I really did laugh a lot, and all of the previews make future episodes look even better. Maybe they’ll do a better job of explaining the premise in later episodes, or maybe I’ll stop caring if the show just gets generally better. I’d also accept it if they started making fun of their own premise. It would be more in line with the style of creator Josh Schwartz’s previous show – The OC.

Katee Sackhoff, the best thing in Bionic Woman4. Bionic Woman – The problem with this one is just that Katee Sackhoff is too damn awesome. In a perfect world, she would play the main character, but only if it meant she could also finish Battlestar Galactica.

Michelle Ryan as Jaime Somers is certainly nice to look at, but didn’t really hold her own against Sackhoff in the pilot. Some of the dialog was fairly clunky, especially her speech at the end of the episode. I wonder how much of this can be chalked up to a British actress trying to do an American accent – not everyone can be Hugh Laurie or Colin Farrell, after all. This show wasn’t a complete disappointment, but it definitely did not live up to my expectations. I’ll keep watching for as long as it is on air to see if it improves.

Other than those four shows, I’ve also got Dirty Sexy Money and Gossip Girl waiting to be watched, and this upcoming week I’m recording: Cavemen (too awful-sounding to miss), Carpoolers, and Pushing Daisies. Pushing Daisies has been getting ecstatic reviews, so I hope it lives up to the hype.

A Blast From The Past

So it occurred to me recently that Google Video will let you post videos of pretty much any length. A guy on the Leet World forum posted a 40 minute video, so I thought I’d get in on the act and digitize the footage I have of Knifepoint, which I haven’t watched in years.

I ended up having to re-digitize the video into iMovie, and it took forever to convert the 43 minute video into a format that Google can use, but here it is:

You need to have flashplayer enabled to watch this Google video

This performance is from 2003, and is the final dress rehearsal, so there’s no audience other than the techs, who occasionally walk in front of the camera. The show was directed by Andrew Richey, and stars Barrett Michael, Lauren McCauley, and Liam Boyer. I haven’t talked to most of those people in years…

I think most people I know managed to come see the show when it was performed, but there may be a few of you out there who didn’t get the chance, so it’s nice to have this available in an online format. I think I may do the same thing with some of the other videos I’ve got lying around…

Long Time No Blog, Guess I Better Post a Movie Trailer

Hello there, gentle readers. I know I have been uninteresting lately. I’ve even gotten phonecalls from friends who need updates, new information and stories on what’s been going on in my life… My life is boring, really. I read books, watch DVDs and TV, and work work work like a good worker bee. I haven’t had the kind of low-level creative spark that produces blog entries recently.

I have, however, just watched a trailer for a new movie from the director of Thank You For Smoking. The movie is called Juno. Watch for yourself:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

This film has been much-buzzed-about on the various filmic blogs I follow. It was, I believe, a must-see must-acquire film at the Toronto Film Festival, which is always a good thing. The trailer projects memories of such films as Little Miss Sunshine, Junebug, and Thumbsucker, so to a certain degree it’ll surely be cinematic comfort food, simply because I like movies in that vein. Hopefully it’ll also have some of the unique bite of “Smoking” along with all of the quirkiness.

Now, I can’t promise I’ll blog more any time soon. That’s practically the digital equivalent of crying wolf. Just be assured that I’m here, and I’m reading constantly, always working towards my goal of reading 52 books in a year. Along those lines, I’ve discovered several new favorite authors recently… John Scalzi, for example, as well as fully confirming William Gibson’s place on the list.

David Schwimmer Directed a Movie

Wait… what?

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

I didn’t know he had it in him… Run, Fat Boy, Run looks awesome. It helps that Dylan Moran and Simon Pegg are two of my most favorite actor/comedians ever. If you don’t understand why, watch Black Books, Spaced, Shaun of the Dead, and Hot Fuzz.

P.S. If only they hadn’t used Trailer Voice Guy…

Cooking Disaster

I’ve been taking my lunch to work for a while now. Eating at work not only saves me gas (I don’t have to drive home or drive somewhere to eat out), it also gives me more time to relax during my break. It’s been a big part in helping me fulfill my goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks.

I’ve got a small collection of meals that I bring with me. I used to bring a lot more frozen food, stuff like pot pies or pizza pockets, but I’m also trying to save money lately, so any time I can cook for myself instead of spending a lot more money on something that only feeds me for one meal is always good.

Usually, though, when it comes to cooking for myself, I tend to fall back on pasta or an Asian noodle dish I improvised when I was trying to recreate food from Pho Hoang. I’ve also been cooking larger frozen dishes and bringing the leftovers for the next few days. That at least seems to work out pretty well, although I still felt like I could recreate a frozen dish on my own for cheaper. Ah, hubris…

To make a long story short, a few nights ago I decided to make tamale pie from a recipe I found online. My first mistake was to only read the reviews they included down at the bottom of the page… if you pull up the full list of reviews, you get reactions much more like my own…

The first kind of odd thing is that this recipe calls for 2 lbs of ground beef. This seemed like an awful lot, so I started off with 1 lb in my pan and as soon as I started crumbling the meat, I could tell that it would fill up the 2 qt casserole dish without any problem. The next odd thing is that the recipe calls for whole kernel corn, but tells you not to drain it. I would learn to regret this later. The final odd thing is that it calls for waaaaaaay too much salt. Far too much. I didn’t realize this, of course, until I had already put in the salt.

The resulting mixture ended up burning on top (cheese should not be included as a crust on top of this dish) and being undercooked everywhere else. The corn mush didn’t magically turn into crust, probably because the meat/corn/etc mixture was full of liquid.

The resulting concoction is edible enough… it mostly resembles chili with corn meal in it, although it’s way too salty. Adding salsa helps the flavor a lot, but I’ll be surprised if I can convince myself to eat the huge amount of leftovers I have in my fridge. It’s a shame, too, because the ground beef looked and smelled delicious before I put it into the casserole dish.

I sincerely doubt I’ll try this particular recipe again, although I may try to create my own tamale pie from a combination of a good cornbread recipe and basic chili. One of the biggest problems is that this kind of recipe makes an unholy mess. I really do not look forward to cleaning out the dish once I’ve gone through the leftovers…

I did have some cooking successes this week, however. I put back into rotation a recipe for pan bagnat sandwiches that is fairly easy to prepare. It’s from Alton Brown’s Good Eats, one of my most favorite shows on air right now. (It occurs to me that it’s a bit odd to constantly watch a cooking show when I don’t actually cook much myself…) Alton is pretty happy with his sandwich… check it out:

Alton’s Pan Bagnat

I do tweak his recipe a little bit. I use single-serving sub sandwich rolls instead of a giant roll, simply because I couldn’t find a place that sells sandwich appropriate bread of that size. HEB sells a four pack of sandwich rolls that are absolutely perfect. I also don’t let the sandwich sit out at room temperature – my mother reacted in horror to the thought of eggs sitting out like that – I just wrap it and put it in the fridge overnight.

I usually make this sandwich using tuna – one can of tuna fits nicely if packed into the bottom half of the bread roll – but I’ve also tried it with chicken and turkey lunchmeat, and it works equally well. I think I’m going to try using salmon next. Beau swears by Central Market’s 365 salmon, and it sounds like a delicious idea.

The other really nice thing about this recipe is that if you wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap, it becomes very portable. If you’ve pulled out some of the breading before making the sandwich, the bread roll will fit together nicely and keep everything from falling out.

I haven’t given up on trying new recipes, however. I’ve got a cheap pasta/Italian cookbook that I bought at Barnes & Noble a few years ago, and I think I’m going to start pulling out some of those recipes. I think I may also try to find a good, cheap, Asian cookbook, just because I’m always craving Chinese or Vietnamese food.

Those Crazy Dancin’ iPod Silhouettes

I’ve just learned a fascinating bit of trivia about those ubiquitous iPod commercials… apparently one guy does a lot of the dancing, even if the figures don’t necessarily look like him. All of the tall, skinny dancers with a particularly rubbery dancing style are David Elsewhere, possibly with someone else’s head superimposed on his body.

ABC News did a little story about him:

I had never actually seen the original Kollaboration video, but I highly recommend watching the full thing. My mind has been blown a full six years later. It’s kind of amazing that this guy has built a career of sorts out of a YouTube video.

The Leet World, or “When Talking About Making Something Turns Into Actually Doing It”

I’m not sure why I didn’t post about this before, considering I spent almost the entire weekend working on the website, but some friends of mine that go way back – Eddy, Nick, and Daniel, to be exact – recently starting working on putting into motion an idea that had been percolating for years.

There has always been talk in our circle of friends about making movies, but one idea in particular stuck around for a long time. The premise was simple: make an ongoing series of short films/episodes about a bunch of characters from a video game (Counter-Strike) who are placed in a Real World-style house and see what happens.

The premise is possible because of a phenomenon called machinima, which means using the graphics/animation from video games to render animated short films. The most popular and well-known example of this phenomenon is a show called Red vs. Blue.

In any case, Smooth Few Films, as they are collectively known, actually got to the point where they could produce a trailer and then a full-fledged episode of the show. Check it out:

Trailer (kind of illicit because of the music… shhh! Hopefully they’ll have time to redo it at some point…):

Episode #1 (all original music!):

There is already a lively forum on the site, and plenty of random people from all over the world have left feedback. It’s pretty exciting to see my friends succeeding like this, although this is still only the initial level. They are planning on doing a new episode every 2-3 weeks, and I think this show’s popularity will only grow with more episodes and an ever-growing forum community.

She’s Dead… Wrapped in Plastic

Okay, this is some pretty exciting news from TVShowsOnDVD.com:

Twin Peaks: Definitive Gold Box Edition



Loaded with All-New Exclusive Special Features and Beloved Vintage Materials, All 29 Newly Remastered Episodes, Plus Two Versions of the Original Pilot, This 10-Disc Collection Debuts October 30, 2007

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – The highly-anticipated Definitive Gold Box Edition of the series that became one of television’s most acclaimed events finally arrives – with all 29 episodes plus both the original and European versions of the pilot – on October 30, 2007 from CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Home Entertainment. Considered both technically and artistically revolutionary when it debuted, TWIN PEAKS™ garnered 18 Emmy nominations over the course of its two-season run with its cast of memorable characters, stunning cinematography and intriguing plot. Co-creators David Lynch and Mark Frost and a large number of the cast and crew have returned to participate in this extraordinary new collection.

(read the full article…)

The cover art is a bit funky, but I don’t really mind. This is the first time the entire series has ever been available at once (legitimately), and I could see myself buying it. The original first season DVD is out of print, and didn’t even include the pilot movie due to funky rights issues. The only version of that movie available in America is an edited version that wraps up the whole story in a standalone format. I’ve managed to see the proper pilot movie only because I Luv Video rents import/bootleg/burned DVDs.

Pushing Daisies

Check out the trailer for Pushing Daisies, one of ABC’s new fall shows:

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

I can finally see why critics have been so excited about this show. The original teaser made it look pretty straightforward, but this trailer makes it look like it was directed by Tim Burton on Prozac, or, more appropriately, Barry Sonnenfeld at his zaniest. The cinematic look they’re selling is pretty breathtaking, and I hope they can keep it going.

I’m really pumped about this show now, although it looks quirky enough that it probably doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of sticking around long, although Matt Roush says it doesn’t have much competition on the night. That’s a good sign, for sure.

“I’m Doug and I’m out of… here.”

How awesome is it that The State is finally coming to DVD, 14(!) years later?

This Frelling Rules!


This is pretty much a complete bolt out of the blue, but from what I’ve just read on scifi.com, Farscape is being revived for a series of “webisodes”. Here’s the article:

SCI FI Channel will revive its popular original show Farscape as a Web-based series of short films on SCIFI.COM’s SCI FI Pulse broadband network, part of a slate of new original online programming.

SCI FI has ordered 10 webisodes of Farscape, to be produced by Brian Henson and Robert Halmi Jr. and produced by The Jim Henson Co.

The series will expand the Farscape universe, but the network had no announcements on casting or premiere dates.

Sure, these may be 2-3 minute long shorts that very well may barely involve any of the main characters, but I am so 100% there for this. Anything new in that universe is like manna from heaven to me, especially if it means that a new miniseries could result. Hell, I’d watch webisodes until the cows come home.

The Ten

I loved The State back in the day, really enjoyed the oddness that was Stella, and was both baffled and amused by Wet Hot American Summer (best watched with the “fart” commentary turned on). Like many comedy groups nowadays, they’ve formed a sort of loose collective with a rotating cast of other actors brought in on the fun, and their new movie, The Ten, has a huge collection of famous folks in the mix. I’m pretty excited about it from watching the trailer:

Awesome. Just… Awesome.

Today was an exciting day. I’ll let ThinkSecret do the talking:

At a town-hall meeting with employees Thursday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced that all full-time Apple employees will receive a free 8GB iPhone, while part-time employees who have been with the company for more than a year will also receive a free iPhone.

So, thanks to the kindness of Steve’s heart, this time next month (we have to wait until the huge customer demand is satisfied) I’ll have my sweaty palms on one of these:


Then I’ll just have to pick a plan and start being one of the cool kids. It’ll be great.

P.S. Go see Live Free or Die Hard. It is 100% mayhem, and entirely stupid/awesome.

For All You Library Nerds

This means you, Ryan P. Craven.

I will fully admit that I am a huge library nerd. I have always loved going to the library, and, in fact, when we lived in Wichita, KS, I used to beg my parents to take me to the downtown library just because it was so enormous (3 floors!) and I could wander aimlessly through the sci-fi/fantasy books, and then browse the music, and then pore over obscure photography/art books.

I was a bit disappointed when we moved to Sugar Land because none of the local libraries ever seemed to match the sheer size of that great big Kansas library in my memory. I didn’t really get the chance to see an awesome library again until I went off to college – the SU library was pretty great, for example, although I could never seem to browse fiction the way I wanted to… I guess that’s just as well, though… I was really too busy to be reading for fun most of the time I was in college.

It’s just as well, though, because the Austin library system is awesome. As soon as I had an Austin-area lease document in hand two years ago, I made my way to the downtown library and got myself a card, and I haven’t stopped using it since. I constantly tell the people I know that they should get a card if they don’t have one… you’ll never regret having a library card, even if you aren’t much of a reader.

One of my most exciting realizations was the fact that the libraries here have a pretty excellent DVD selection, including entire seasons of TV shows that can be checked out all at once (I got the entire third season of Farscape from the library, for example, and that’s a hard show to find at a plain ol’ video rental place.)

It also just so happens that I have a newly-fancified-and-upgraded library just down the block from where I live. Good stuff.

Anyways, long story short, I was definitely excited to come across this 13 book hacks for the library crowd article on lifehacker.com. Especially interesting was the section on tracking your checked out books using a nifty OS X menubar addon called Library Books.

Setting it up did take a little bit of tweaking – the Austin library wasn’t included in the default list of libraries, but once I dug around on the library website a little bit, I figured out that it is based on the “iBistro/Sirsi Catalog System”, which is included in the Library Books menu.

The hardest part was figuring out which URL to use for the Catalogue Host:


Once you’ve got that, all you need is a library account and an online sign-in. Here’s how the drop-down looks on my system:

Library Books menu

Julie Delpy Directed a Movie

It’s called 2 Days In Paris, and it looks absolutely hilarious… kind of reminds me of The Puffy Chair from what little we see here – a couple squabbling and facing serious relationship issues while traveling. I hope this one plays somewhere around here, and I manage to get myself out of the house to go see it.

The Coen Brothers are Back!

Oh, how I’ve missed them… I’m still trying to wipe “The Ladykillers” from my memory…

No Country For Old Men premieres Nov. 21st in the US. I can barely wait, let me tell you.

UPDATE: Edited with a better-quality version of the trailer.

TV Upfront Week: Like Christmas for TV Addicts

Michelle Ryan, Bionic WomanAll of the networks ran through their “TV Upfront” presentations this past week. This is the time of year where they all announce next season’s new shows and let us know which of their current shows are on the chopping block.

As far as cancellations go for shows I’ve been watching (or, well, recording and not watching), there weren’t any huge surprises… Studio 60 is officially dead, Veronica Mars is as good as dead (although various pundits and execs keep dangling the vague possibility of hope for that one, I sincerely doubt it), and Jericho is toast.

I suppose I was mildly surprised about Jericho, but it didn’t really affect me because I never ended up watching the second half of the season. The first two eps after it returned were pretty damn awful, and I never worked up the desire to give it another chance.

As for the pick-ups, I was most worried about How I Met Your Mother (I accepted long ago that things were dire for Veronica Mars), but CBS thankfully picked that one up for another season. It’s easily the best traditional (three-camera, laugh track) sitcom on air, and I’d argue that it’s just as good as my favorite single-camera sitcoms on NBC.

Speaking of which, NBC has picked up their entire Thursday night sitcom line up for another year, which makes me plenty happy, as you might imagine. ABC also made an awesome decision and worked out a three-year plan for Lost so that the writers can actually start working towards the ending of their story.

The real treat for me, however, is always the new shows. I love nothing better than priming my DVR to record a bunch of brand-new shows that may or may not stick around. The following are the shows I’m looking forward to:

Of the five networks, NBC and ABC clearly have more shows that I’m interested in, but of the two networks, NBC’s shows look the most interesting. Out of everything coming out next year, I’m most excited about Bionic Woman and Chuck. Bionic Woman is obviously a remake of the 1970s show about a woman who is injured in a terrible accident and has parts of her body replaced with bionic limbs.

I think it’s kind of interesting that NBC has a “re-imagining” of a spin-off show, but the creative team behind the remake are the same folks who modernized Battlestar Galactica, which is one of my most favorite shows on TV right now. They’ve got quite the quality pedigree, and the cheesiness of the source material does not seem to affect how well the modern version turns out. Also, as you can see from the picture above, they’ve picked a gorgeous (British!) actress named Michelle Ryan to play the new Jaime Sommers.

ABC has a lot of shows that seem like they’ll have potential, but could go either way. From what Mike Ausellio says, Pushing Daisies is the next big ABC hit, so I’m looking forward to that the most. All of the other ABC shows look like they could go either way… except for Cavemen. Cavemen looks like a crime against television (if such a thing is possible), and I want to be there to see how things go down.

It’ll be fascinating to see which of these shows make it through the year… It’s a safe bet, however, that FOX will cancel something that will have its fans up in arms. This year it was Drive, which I never even bothered to watch because it was canceled after two weeks.

Huzzah for the Apple Store!

I got my computer back today! The folks at the Apple Store replaced the hard drive, and everything appears to be working just fine.

It also looks like I managed to rescue pretty much everything important from the drive, and I’ve just finished copying the contents of my iPod back onto my system.

Once everything is back in place, I’ve resolved to be a good computer user and start backing everything up regularly. Apparently .Mac comes with a backup program… who knew? Good thing us Apple employees get .Mac for free…

In celebration, please enjoy this LCD Soundsystem music video:

My Computer is Completely Fried…

It all started Saturday… itunes started acting up, and then none of the disk utilities I’ve got could repair the mysterious hard drive problems that seemed to be causing the issue.

I backed up as much as i could, erased the drive, re-installed OS X, and it’s still misbehaving… I actually just erased it again and it still didn’t fix it!

All I know is that I’m reallllllllly glad I bought Applecare. Tomorrow night I’ll get to put it to good use when I make a pilgrimage to the Apple Store…

Update: It’s official. My hard drive is hosed, and I need a replacement. The repair is going to take a week… Sighhhhhh…. Lots of Wii browsing for me, I suppose…

(This post brought to you thanks to the only working computer in my possession: my Wii. I’m getting better at Wii typing, that’s for sure!)

Levar Burton Would be Proud

Mr. Burton doing his rainbow thing.

I have always been a fan of bookstores and regular book-buying. In fact, I will fully admit that I have bought books simply because I liked the cover and decided the blurb was trustworthy enough. My collection of unread books now spans two bookshelves, one waist-high and one full-sized.

I haven’t always had a giant collection of unread books, mind you… back in high school, I’m fairly sure I read books as soon as I bought them or checked them out of the library. At the very least, I used to read every day of the week, sometimes (well, a lot of the time, actually…) during my deadly dull Economics class in high school…

At a certain point in college, however, I lost the knack of daily reading… but I kept buying books at the same rate. A few years later and I find myself with overflowing shelves. At points I’ve felt vaguely guilty about not reading them… I like collecting books, and I fully intend on reading all of those books at some point in my life, but for a long time the balance has been tipped more towards guilt than action.

Earlier this year, however, I read about a trend/meme/whatever where a number of bloggers wrote about taking on a challenge to read 52 books in a year… i.e. one book a week. I could never pin down who came up with this particular challenge first (perhaps it sprang full-formed from the brow of Blogger.com, or maybe it was this guy) but I liked the idea, and it definitely seems do-able because I’ve come close before. I’ve been keeping track of the books I read for the past few years, partially because I wanted to gauge my rate of reading, but also because I like making lists and rating things.

For example: in 2005 I read 41 books total. In 2006 the number dipped slightly to 37… and so far this year I’ve finished reading 15 books, which is just slightly behind one book a week. In those totals I’m including a decent number of audiobooks and graphic novels, both of which some people might frown upon as lesser forms of reading (to which I say “nyeh!”).

However, just from those recent numbers, I think 52 books is well within my reach this year. Hell, it’s probably fair to say that reading more than two books in a year of any kind is more than most folks manage, so I’ve already got a pretty healthy taste for reading to help me along. If you’re curious about my reading habits, I’ve been tracking the whole thing on my library page.

What has helped me keep reading lately is that I have stopped driving home for my lunch break. This means that instead of getting back to work a few minutes late and barely having time to finish a commercial-free television show in the process, I can sit and read a good 40-50 pages on an average day.

The great thing about this is that just exposing myself to reading every day has given me the reading bug once again, and I’ve really been enjoying reading a lot lately, finding it much easier to focus on a book for a few hours every day. Guilt hasn’t really been coming into the picture, either. I’ve been reading lately not because I think I should be reading, but because I genuinely want to sit down and read something. At the rate I’m going I think I could get on a roll and beat 52 books this year… hooray for goals!

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

One of my most favorite authors passed away this week, although I doubt he would have thought it sad. He was 84 years old, he lived a full life, and he wrote some damn fine classic literature for the ages. I recommend that anyone who hasn’t read Slaughterhouse-Five pick it up and read it right now. Once you’re done with that, read Mother Night, which is my favorite of his books.

He only wrote a dozen or so books in his lifetime, and I’ve read most of them, but I think I’ll track down the remaining few that I have not read and get crackin’. It seems like as good a time as any.

We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.” – from Mother Night


Our Man Gervais

As you may know, I am a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, have been for years. Stardust is one of the first of his books that I read, and it has been adapted into a Feature Film, due to premiere this summer. I’m pretty excited, as should you be. Clicking on the picture of Our Man Gervais will take you to Yahoo’s lovely little trailer info page for the film, which seems to be pitched somewhere between The Princess Bride, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and all of those modern-day fantasy flicks with amazing special effects.

Interestingly enough, the movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn, director of Layer Cake, and original director lined up for the third X-Men movie before he dropped out to be with his family. I can respect a man who values family over big-budget action movies, but I still wish, in my heart of hearts, that we had gotten a chance to see what he might have done with the X-Men. We’ll never know now, however, thanks to that jerkface, Brett Ratner.

The TV Set

The TV Set is the newest film from Jake Kasdan, son of Lawrence, director of Zero Effect (excellent) and Orange County (terrible). The trailer above (which doesn’t show a release date, dammit) makes me hopeful that he’s realized what a bad move that Colin Hanks movie was. From what we see here his third film is much more reminiscent of Zero Effect, which is a good thing in my book. Also, it’s interesting to see David Duchovny with a giant beard. Who can resist?

The basic premise is that Duchovny is a television producer trying to develop a very personal new show about (from what I can tell) a man whose brother commits suicide and the resulting aftermath. The network suits (one played by Sigourney Weaver) stymie him at every turn, first by insisting on casting an “actor” in the main role who demeans that very term, then by constantly asking whether or not the suicide part is really “necessary”. So… sort of The Big Picture for the television age.

Aren’t you relieved to know that you’re not a golem?

Harold brushes his teeth

I just watched Stranger Than Fiction, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’d say this one comes highly recommended, except for the fact that I’ve read a bunch of reviews written by people who hated it.

So… I recommend it, but with a caveat: it seems to provoke strong feelings. I think you’ll either love it like I did, or you’ll hate it like the people on the IMDB message boards (if that complains about you needing a login, the title of the thread is “I really believe this is the worst film ever created…”, and that’s pretty much the main thing you need to know.)

I do have to say, though, that this is the second time a movie has stolen one of my ideas. Bastards! (If you haven’t been paying attention, I jokingly accused the makers of this fine piece of horror-porn of pilfering the premise of my first play… except I probably pilfered it from Sartre without having read his work… and I don’t ever plan on seeing the movie to confirm my suspicions…)

Two Years of Consistency in an Inconsistent World

Apple Logo

As of today, March 7th, 2007, I have been working at Apple for two whole years! Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

By my personal standards, two years feels like a long time to hold the same job, especially because I’m still doing the same thing that I’ve been doing since day one. I do, however, understand the ins and outs of my position a whole lot better now. I look back on some of my “rookie mistakes” with fondness…

Little things have changed here and there, however; I make slightly more money, I no longer have to answer queue calls, and I have a different manager and set of co-workers.

Don’t worry, though… I’m still keeping it “real”. I go to work most days wearing sandals and shorts (weather permitting), and I walk around all day, every day listening to tunes on my iPod.


EggThis time it was a puzzle piece.

I watched, fascinated, as its edges began to curl in the crackling oil. I saw, perhaps, the leg of a small dog. Or could it be flowers, ready to bloom? Was this where all the lost puzzle pieces of the world ended up?

I imagined some poor soul assembling this puzzle on their dining room table, anticipation building as everything began to come together, and then… one piece missing, never to be found. The unfinished puzzle, boxed back up and returned to the shelf, ready to mock them whenever they needed a bath towel or decided to play a game of Sorry.

At this point, I realized that I was talking to myself, speaking my thoughts… slowly. Like reading a book to a small child. I was clearly weak with hunger.

I reached down, pulled the piece (now soggy with oil) from the skillet, winced as the cardboard scalded my fingers, and popped it in my mouth.

It was hardly as satisfying as I had hoped, but with some persistent chewing and a glass of water, I managed to gulp it down.

I tossed the pieces of broken shell into the sink and grabbed another one from the carton.

Always the optimist.

Making Web Design Fun Again

You know, back in the day, I thoroughly enjoyed web design and coding. But then along came a job that sucked all of the fun out of the whole process and ruined it completely for me. I don’t work for them anymore – it’s been more than two years now – but whenever I’ve been presented with possibilities of web design since then, whether on my own website or on someone else’s, I have never enjoyed the work, and in fact I’ve often had a hard time getting myself to do it, even when money was involved.

That’s all changed recently, though, thanks to our friend WordPress. For whatever reason, installing WordPress has made it fun again for me to tinker with my website, as you may have noticed if you’ve check this place regularly. This doesn’t change my stance on doing web design work, however… I like that this is fun, and I don’t want to change that, especially since I sit in front of a computer working all day. If I’m going to sit in front of a computer at home, it might as well be fun.

Along those lines, I decided to refresh the unsquare.com main page a little bit. The page has basically been a list of the websites I host for a long time, and it still serves that purpose, but I found a way to make it just a little bit more useful.

If you check there now, it’ll show you the first post of all of the blogs I currently host, which is a good way to check and see how recently everyone has updated their site. You could always download a newsreader, I suppose, but this works, too… I used a free PHP script called SimplePie to pull in the RSS data. It was dead simple to use, and that’s the way I like it.

I also added a few more random “styles” to the main page. This mostly involved digging around through the stock art available on the stock.xchng website. It’s a great website, and I didn’t even dig very deeply – I just browsed through the most downloaded stock pictures to find some interesting ones.

What I gleaned from this is that people like to download pictures of handshakes:


And pictures of people looking professional:


Also good are images that exemplify some sort of abstract business concept about the shrinking world, globalization and connectivity:

Whole world in my hand… literally!

I’m not really going for the “business website” look, however, so I didn’t use any of those images on my frontpage. I’ll probably keep adding more and more styles to the frontpage, too… it’s kind of sad that it’s stayed basically unchanged for at least two years, if not longer.

You’re prettier than I am!

I, like most Americans my age, was a big fan of The 40 Year-Old Virgin – it looked kind of stupid from the trailers, but turned out that you could actually pull off “raunchy sex comedy” and “heartwarming” in the same movie, mostly because of the combination of Steve Carrell and Judd Apatow. I actually have that movie to thank for convincing me that Steve Carrelll was talented enough that I should give the much-derided (in my mind) American remake of The Office a second chance.

As a movie-goer, I’m a bit of a brand loyalist. If the same writer/director/creative team is working again, and I thoroughly enjoyed their debut work, I’ll be back for the second round. So, after watching the following trailer, I’m definitely interested in seeing Judd Apatow’s new movie “Knocked Up”:

Jay Baruchel in “Knocked Up”

It’s especially nice to see almost the entire cast of “Undeclared” together again…

Everybody Loves Hypnotoad

There are some pretty excellent interviews with the makers of Futurama popping up various places. I definitely cannot wait for 2008 to roll around so I can see how Futurama has grown and changed since it went off the air on Fox in 2003(!). Here are some choice bits from an interview with Matt Groening:

Our goal in the beginning was… We know that it looks like a silly cartoon show, with a cyclops girl and a lobster alien and all that stuff. But that we were actually going to have, underlying the goofy comedy, was going to be legitimate literary science fiction concepts.


Even though he’s still very involved with The Simpsons his “day job” is creating the sixteen new episodes of Futurama that will be airing on Comedy Central starting in 2008.

There’s also a pretty excellent interview with David X. Cohen from Wizard magazine. Cohen gets a little bit more into the details:

When our story resumes, two long years have passed. As for the Fry/Leela relationship, we will be visiting that subject right away, so I refuse to tell you where it will lead on the grounds that I want you to buy the DVD.

And, most tantalizing, the interview ends with the following snippet:

…we are looking into producing a full 22-minute episode of Everybody Loves Hypnotoad for the DVD release. I am serious.

How exciting is that? Honestly, though, I’m mostly just amazed that Futurama can come back to air five years after it was originally cancelled. Kind of makes me wish someone had made Firefly as a cartoon

In any case, watch more Futurama and live in anticipation of 2008! I sure know I will!

Your Master
The Hypnotoad

Tones of Town

I know we’re only a few short weeks into 2007, but I think I may have already found my most favorite album of the year:

Tones of Town

Field Music – Tones of Town (iTunes Link)

I discovered Field Music thanks to a little show on MTV2 called Subterranean. Believe it or not, MTV’s second channel still devotes about an hour a week to cool new music very late at night when noone is watching! According to the WikiPedia, Subterranean plays an average of nine videos in every hour-long show!

But… I digress! Field Music’s self-titled debut was easily my #1 album of 2006 (edging out The Obliterati by Mission of Burma by only a small margin, mind you!) According to iTunes, I’ve listened to their first album an average of about 50 times, and I still love listening to it! Few albums have achieved that kind of staying power with me… I admittedly have a verrry short attention span for music nowadays, and it’s an achievement if an album stays in heavy rotation for about 3-4 weeks.

The ultimate example of an album completely dominating my time was during the summer of 1997, when our friend OK Computer was pretty much the only thing I listened to for several long months. (This was, of course, back in the days of Discman, so the singular musical focus of that summer is perhaps a relic of the pre-iPod years.)

There have been few albums since 1997 that have captivated my attention span to such a level, but Field Music has definitely proven their staying power to me… and I think they’ve hit it out of the park again with album #2 – I bought this album last night, and I’ve already listened to it five seven times

So, the moral of this story is… in general, ignore Pitchfork. In specific terms, go buy yourself some Field Music. You can also check out some of their songs at their MySpace page.

…And you should definitely check out this awesome video for “In Context”:

Peter O’Toole: My New Hero

From an interview in The Guardian:

Peter O’TooleMichael Caine was O’Toole’s understudy in The Long and the Short and the Tall; considering he never went on stage, Caine later said, it was incredible he was so exhausted at the end of the run, but waiting anxiously in the wings every night as O’Toole swung in at the very last minute was enough to give any man a coronary. Once, the pair went out drinking and woke up in a strange flat. ‘What time is it?’ Caine asked. ‘Never mind what time it is,’ said O’Toole, ‘What fucking day is it?’ And sure enough, it was two days later, three hours before curtain up.

Regarding Cat Surgery

Appollonia Friday was kind of an interesting day. When I came home from lunch, I noticed that Appollonia hadn’t eaten any of her breakfast, and she normally has a very healthy appetite. She was also hiding somewhere, which was doubly strange because my cats have a habit of meeting me at the door whenever I come home during the work day.

I went to look for her under the bed, and she surprised me by jumping out from under my quilt, where she had curled up (to keep warm?) I went to pick her up and when I held her hindquarters, she meowed like she was in pain and jumped out of my arms before hiding under the bed.

Needless to say, this was pretty worrisome, and I immediately called the vet. At first I wanted to take her right in, and damn the prospect of being late back to work, but she had other ideas, and could not be coaxed out from under the bed. I ended up just making an appointment for 5 o’clock so I could make sure to get her into the vet’s office as soon as possible, and I figured I’d just leave work early to get there.

It was a good thing I went ahead and made the appointment, too, because when I came home at 4 o’clock my bedroom carpet was covered with blood spots. I don’t know if she was bleeding at lunch and I didn’t notice it, or what, but, as you might imagine, I was pretty freaked out. I ended up doing everything I could think of to get her out from under the bed… rattling a plastic bag on the other side of the bed did the trick. Corralling her into a cat carrier after that was not an easy task, but I made it to the vet’s office in good time.

The diagnosis? Ruptured anal glands – cats and dogs (and other animals too, I presume) have these glands that are normally “expressed” when they do a No. 2, and Appollonia’s had become impacted for some reason. The resulting blood (and hideous smell) on my carpet was the aftermath. This is apparently common in dogs but very rare in cats… and the warning sign in this case was that Appollonia had been scooting her butt on my carpet for a few weeks. I had just chalked it up to gross cat stuff… needless to say, I know better now.

(And that was more than you wanted to know about my cat’s butt!)

She ended up staying the night at the vet’s and had surgery on Saturday, which put me out about $400. It was worth it, though… it was good to know that this was something that could be corrected very easily.

The vet techs told me that I needed to keep her cooped up for 3-5 days so she could heal properly (and so Jackson wouldn’t beat up on her), but I caved today. She was just so pathetic, and I felt like such a bad kitty-daddy for keeping her all cooped up in the bathroom. I’ve switched the little buggers to a high-fiber cat food, so that’ll hopefully help prevent this sort of thing in the future.

It feels like some kind of rite of passage as a cat owner, though… the first major cat surgery that doesn’t involve removing reproductive organs! Ah, well… cats can be expensive creatures, but they make up for it by being all cute and furry. Works every time!

Movies on the Mind

Eva Green publicity still from Casino Royale

First off, go see Casino Royale if you haven’t already. I saw it earlier this week, and it’s easily a 5 out of 5, one of my most favorite movies of the year, and the best Bond movie made in recent years. Also… Eva Green is one of the most beautiful women of all time. Sigh…

I need to go back and actually sit and watch some of the older Bond movies now… I saw parts of them here and there when I was younger, but that doesn’t really count, especially since I was a kid at the time.

Clive Owen and Claire-Hope Ashitey in Children of Men

As for today, I just got home from seeing Children of Men. It was pretty excellent. A good, solid 4 out 5, I’d say. I’m glad I found some people to see the movie with… for some reason I am now incapable of seeing a movie all by my lonesome. I think I should get back into the habit of being willing to see movies by myself, however… there are so many movies out there that I want to see on the big screen, and what seems like a limited pool of people to see them with. Some movies are not for everyone, after all.

There are growing downsides to seeing a movie in the theatres, though, and I become more and more aware of this every time I manage to go out. First off, you can buy most movies on DVD for the price it costs to get into a theatre nowadays, and I don’t even live in New York. God knows how expensive it must be there.

Then, when you get inside the movie-watching experience deteriorates… I haven’t seen a movie in a while where the audience was completely “with” it, and it’s kind of a shame… I remember seeing Being John Malkovich in theatres, and there was this electric feeling in the crowd. Everyone was so excited to see the movie, and everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves. The movie was even better because of the crowd experience. Laughter was infectious!

Nowadays, however, you have to search far and wide to find a good audience experience. You can usually rely on the Alamo Drafthouse to be pretty above-par, but then again, I’ve had some of my worst audience experiences there, too. Today wasn’t really bad, audience-wise, but there was a woman sitting to the right of me that I swear kept snickering at odd (inappropriate) moments. Maybe she had a funny breathing pattern, who knows?

I just had this odd feeling of being in a theatre full of people who weren’t necessarily as into the movie as I was/wanted to be, and for some reason that detracted from my experience. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this from my experiences with theatre, but you can tell when the audience is off, not into the groove of things.

There are still several upcoming movies I’d like to see. We’re smack dab in the middle of “prestige” season, so the studios are still rolling out their most well-crafted (sometimes Oscar-baiting) flicks. For those of us in flyover country, we’re slowly getting to see the movies that have only been playing in New York and LA up until now. The next upcoming movie I’m looking forward to the most is Pan’s Labyrinth, which opens here in Austin on the 19th.

Pan's Labyrinth

…And then there’s The Number 23, which I had never heard of until I saw a poster for it at the Drafthouse. It probably won’t be particularly good… Joel Schumacher directed it, after all, but Jim Carrey is clearly doing his best to change up his career by a serious margin. You can see this clearly from how he’s all blood-covered and smacked out in this publicity photo:

Jim Carrey in The Number 23
All I can say is…. whaaaaaa?

I Am Awake Right Now, And Boy Am I Annoyed About It

I’ve done it once again… I fell asleep when I got home from work (with the lights on, no less), and then woke up around midnight feeling like complete crap (what with the lights being on and all).

It was also something like 79 degrees in here because it turns out Texas winter was just teasing us all once more…

…Then when I got up to have a glass of water so that I could wash the desert out of my mouth, I remembered that they turned the water off in my complex tonight because they’re doing work on the pipes.


Needless to say, I hate trying to wash my hands with that hand disinfectant stuff… good thing I had some water in my Brita pitcher so I could improvise a hand-washing.

I had some What-a-Burger for a belated dinner, and then I sat around digesting while watching an episode of Battlestar Galactica from a few weeks ago. I’m behind on all of my shows lately, it seems…

Anyways, I think I’m going to try for bed again now.

Found Kitten

Found Kitten

In other news, a kitten came to my door last night while I was watching TV. She is wearing a collar, so she definitely belongs to someone out there. I’m sincerely hoping I can track down the owner sometime soon, because I sure can’t keep the cute little bugger. Two cats is enough for me (and is the limit allowed by my complex). Not to mention the fact that she hisses and growls at Jackson and Appollonia at pretty much first sight.

EDIT: Mini-cat, as I took to calling her, didn’t stay with me for too long. The girl I spoke to in the office of my apartment complex left me a voicemail the next Monday night saying that the owner had come in, so I packed Mini-cat up and dropped her off at the office the next day. She sure was cute, but she was a little terror… once she got used to being at my place, she spent all of her time out of the bathroom chasing Jackson and Appollonia around the apartment. My poor kitties were getting all intimidated! It was just as well… two cats and a person is crowded enough for this place.

A Blogging Software Revolution!

WordPress Button

My “constant readers” have probably noticed that I keep changing the look-and-feel of this blog about once every two weeks. It’s mostly because I get tired of looking at the same theme all the time, and there are plenty of free themes out there to choose from. A bigger change has happened this time, however, but it is (hopefully) fairly seamless and shouldn’t affect how people use this blog – basically I’ve changed blogging software again. I’ve used several different tools over the years – Blogger, Livejournal, Movable Type, and now WordPress. I had considered switching to WordPress before. Where Movable Type is closed-source and based on a payment model (if you want full support), WordPress is free and open source. I mostly didn’t switch for a long time because of inertia. Despite any issues I might have occasionally had with Movable Type, it was pretty stable, and got the job done. Changing things around would have been too much effort, especially since I had configured Movable Type the way I liked it – I wasn’t sure if I could recreate the same features in WordPress.

Then, about a month or so ago, the newest version of Movable Type starting behaving pretty strangely, throwing up weird errors and generally taking forever to build new entries. I also noticed from looking at Beau’s site that my copy of Movable Type was actually missing some of the features I was supposed to have, despite the fact that I had installed the same version on both of our sites. The biggest problem was that the “save post” button had stopped working, and it was driving me crazy.

I finally decided at that point to just do a complete clean install of Movable Type to see if that would fix my problems. I had to export all of my old entries and import them back into a new installation of MT. I also had to track down all of the helpful plugins I was using and re-install them. The whole effort took a good night’s work sitting in front of a computer, but when I was done, MT was running better than ever, and it looked like all of the kinks had been ironed out… except that it still took forever to “rebuild” posts, and every once in a while I’d get a weird server error and have to rebuild again and again. I dealt with it, though, because I had invested too much time into MT and didn’t want to make the change… until this week.

I recently set up a blog for my friend Tony. I installed WordPress on the site because I thought it’d be easier to set up and use for someone non-technical. Movable Type is great, but it’s got quite the learning curve. Part of setting the site up meant that I had to go into the WordPress dashboard and play around with the options, and as I spent more time in there trying to figure out how to configure the blog to Tony’s liking, I found more and more features that seemed really great/useful. The biggest draw is the WYSIWYG editor built into WordPress – on Movable Type, I had been working with a plugin based on Textile for a long time to make it so that I didn’t have to write complicated HTML just to post an image, but WordPress makes thing much easier right out of the box.

So, earlier this week I sat down one night and started looking into what it’d take to make the switch. I tracked down all of the plugins I’d need, I exported all of my entries, and I got cracking. You see the results before you now. There were a few hiccups along the way, and I am still finding the occasional entry that didn’t format correctly, but for the most part, things look pretty good. I’d recommend WordPress to others. It’s a much more elegant blogging system, and It’s much easier to change things around.

The plugins are great, but the best part is that when I needed to reconfigure a few things, I could just jump in and edit the PHP code, no problem – this is one of the biggest differences between WordPress and Movable Type. MT is written in a language that I have no familiarity with, and it’s much more difficult to dive in and start tinkering with the MT code. MT also uses proprietary tags to make the template files, where WordPress just uses PHP code and function calls.

As you can tell, I’m pretty happy with the switch so far, although I’m still working on changing around a few things.

Why Aren’t You Watching The OC, Bitch?

Okay… I’ll be upfront about it. I love The OC. Despite the fact that _everyone_ I know who used to watch it now turns their nose up at it like two-day-old fish, I’ve stuck by it, and those folks are seriously missing out on some damn fine television. A rollicking good time, even, if I do say so myself.

The fourth season episodes so far have been great, some of the best in the show in a good long time, possibly reaching the quality of the first season (blasphemy!)

Tonight’s episode was a riot, and there is one good reason why: Autumn Reeser as Taylor Townsend!

!{float: left; margin-right: 1em;}/images/autumn.jpg! Not only is she pretty nice to look at, she is absolutely hilarious to watch. Her character is really well-written, but it helps that she’s such a talented performer.

Taylor was already my favorite character last season when the character was just a guest role, so I was definitely crossing my fingers in the hopes that she’d be added to the cast full-time… lucky me!

…Except The OC might not last after this season because none of you jerks are watching it. Jerks.

Seriously, though… the third season was kind of a drag sometimes, but it was still good, and the fourth season so far is leaps and bounds better than seasons two and three combined. It’s rare for a show to have such a resurgence in quality after two kind of shaky seasons, but here we are.

So… this is my call to all of you fair-weather fans… start watching The OC again. Watch one episode and you’ll forget what the hell Mischa Barton even looked like because a far better actress has taken her place front-and-center. So there.

John Hodgman: Not Just a PC, Also Funny

I listened to “The Areas of My Expertise”:http://www.amazon.com/Areas-My-Expertise-John-Hodgman/dp/0143059092/ by John Hodgman today while doing the dishes and cleaning up around my apartment. Hodgman is absolutely hilarious, and definitely needs to write another book and/or get more work (besides those lovable “‘Get A Mac’ commercials”:http://www.apple.com/getamac/.) Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Attack Ad #2: http://old.unsquare.com/mp3/hodgman.mp3

iPod Nanos for Everyone!

!{border: 0}/images/nano.png!

Yesterday afternoon we had a Very Special Meeting at work. Everyone in my division (SSO, or “Sales Support Operations”) was taken to the auditorium, and we were told that because financial year ’06 has been so great for Apple… everyone in SSO was going to get their own iPod Nano. This is on top of Steve Jobs’ announcement last month that everyone at Apple (full employees, at least) is going to get one of the new iPod Shuffles before the end of the month.

Personally, I now have more iPod than I know what to do with. I already have a perfectly good 60 gig iPod, but I am starting to see the draw of having a Nano – the thing is so thin and tiny it takes up barely any space in my pocket. I haven’t decided for sure what I’m going to do with it – I may keep it, or I may try to find some worthy soul who needs an iPod. I’m definitely going to keep the Shuffle whenever that comes. It just seems like such a nifty little doohickey.

Oh, and, I’ve also got a whole week off (paid) for Thanksgiving. I guess that makes up for the ridiculous amount of extra time I’ve spent at work this last month.

Worthless Beast, Part Two

Yesterday I took Apollonia for her annual check-up visit to the vet.

She weighs 17.7. pounds. She has gained an entire pound since the last time she went to the vet. Needless to say, she gets to go on a diet. At least she didn’t pee or shit in her box, thank you very much.

Worthless Beast


I took Jackson to the vet today – he was waaaaaaaay overdue. Part of the reason I put it off for so long is because the vet is damnably expensive, and if your pet seems pretty healthy… it’s kind hard to pony up the cash for the whole thing. I had a recent conversation with someone who had a cat that got pretty sick very suddenly, however… and I instantly felt guilty, so I set up both cats with appointments.

The whole thing was extra-special fun, of course, because _Jackson Does Not Like Riding in The Car_.

He demonstrated his anger/fear by peeing in his box before I even made it on the freeway, and proceeded to take a shit about 2 minutes later. I was barely in the car five minutes before he had made a complete mess of himself and stunk up the whole place. When we finally made it to the vet’s office, he sat in his box howling like he was being murdered, and the other customers in the office just looked at me like I was a terrible kitty-daddy.

All the other kitties were sitting quietly in their carriers looking thoroughly calm and well-behaved, while Jackson was moaning up a storm and trying to push his head through a 1-inch hole he found in the side of the box.

When we finally made it to a room and I pulled him out, he had soaked himself and had shed about half his weight in fur. He was completely well-behaved once he was out of the box, though… maybe I just have a claustrophobic cat, I dunno.

Appollonia has her appointment two weeks from now… luckily she’s a complete angel in the car.

NBC Finally Figured Out My Definition of Must See TV

So, as you, my faithful reader(s) know, I watch a lot of TV. A _lot_. I’m at a point where I couldn’t get by without my trusty DVR… in fact, I think it’s safe to say my social life would disappear without the thing.

That might sound strange, but think about it… what would i be doing on Friday nights when Battlestar Galactica is on? Sitting home and watching it. Wednesday night? Sorry, no, can’t go to a bar… _I have to watch Lost tonight_. What’s that you say? Use a VCR? What are you… a caveman?!?!? (Seriously, though… my VCR apparently chooses to ignore all programmed recordings, so *there*.)

But… I digress. On to the subject of my post. NBC has finally put together what I’d consider a truly great night of TV… and it’s on Thursday night, also known as The Place Where Must See TV Once Lived. And it is as follows:


“My Name Is Earl” (8-8:30 p.m. ET)


“The Office” (8:30-9 p.m. ET)


“Scrubs” (9-9:30 p.m. ET)


“30 Rock” (9:30-10 p.m. ET)

This all goes into effect on November 30th, so… set your DVRs! As for the shows themselves…

My Name is Earl was one of my new favorites last year, and this season so far has been pretty awesome. They’ve actually been changing up the formula some and not focusing on the list so much… they’ve also dialed down a bit of the Earl’s preachiness about karma, and the last few episodes have proven that he’s still a flawed guy.

I’ve just recently gotten into The Office, but it’s absolutely worth the effort, especially for those of you who may have been big fans of the BBC version and were turned off by the adaptation. The show has come into its own and done so gracefully.

Scrubs is actually finishing up this year, unfortunately. Apparently Zach Braff has some kind of movie career to pursue or something… Anyways, it has an amazing ability to cheer me up, without fail, every time I watch it. Even though I’ve seen most of the episodes two or three times by now, I can still watch them at the drop of the hat… those DVDs are next up to buy, let me tell you.

30 Rock is, of course, brand new, and might not make it (although, really, everything on NBC is doing terribly right now, so 30 Rock is doing about the same). It started off… just okay, but this week’s episode was absolutely hilarious, and I’m completely on board now. Even though I haven’t watched the last two episodes of Studio 60, if I had to choose for one of the two shows to live, I think I’d pick 30 Rock, simply because it seems to have a better sense of focus and direction, and for the most part it’s figured out that we don’t need to see bad sketch comedy when the characters are more interesting.

p(edit). EDIT: Okay, I finally watched the most recent two episodes of Studio 60, and my opinion about the show hasn’t necessarily changed. It’s good, but it still isn’t quite hitting its marks. I might renege on my choice of 30 Rock over Studio 60, if and only if Studio 60 gets a little sharper or has another truly great episodes – a handful of truly great episodes would be even better. I’m sure we’ll get to see all of the episodes play, so maybe the later eps will be a little sharper once they get into a writing groove. And for god’s sake, can we get some Matt and Danny interaction? Like, at all? Of course, it would be even _better_ if Studio 60 started hitting its marks _and_ 30 Rock continued to be sharp _and_ stick around, because then I’d have two more excellent shows to add to my stable of “need to watch”. Wouldn’t that be nice?

It’s kind of amazing that it took NBC this long to put together such a perfect line-up of shows, with not a dud in the group – all of them are single-camera and laugh-track free, both of which are developments in sitcom TV that I find waaaaay overdue.

I really need to read that “Crafty TV Writing”:http://www.amazon.com/o/ASIN/0805080287/ book now, don’t I?


In a pure “holy shit!” moment, I was watching last week’s episode of Prison Break earlier tonight, and I noticed that one of the actresses looked very familiar, and then I realized that I knew her from high school – she was in the ensemble cast of “All In The Timing” with me:


The show is filming in Dallas, and I already know one person working on it – my friend Mark does behind-the-scenes work for the show – so it’s perhaps unsurprising that someone else I know (well, knew) is involved in the show. Still a huge shock to see her on the screen, though… interacting with one of the main characters.

…Especially because about a week or so ago I saw another “All In The Timing” cast member in a bar – a guy named Curtis Luciani. It’s plain old high school reunion time, let me tell you.

Untitled Dialogue #1

Last night, as I lay in bed preparing for sleep, a bit of dialogue was running through my head, so I decided that I had better write it down to make sure it didn’t go away. 30 minutes later, I had this scene. Enjoy!

(Two men on a roof, standing by the edge and looking off into the distance. They are making no effort to conceal themselves.)

A: Yesterday some man on the street told me that I was ‘making a mockery’ of what I ‘stand for’. How can I make a mockery of it when I don’t even know what I stand for?

B: For that matter, how could he know what you stood for?

A: Exactly! Besides, I was just standing there.

B: Maybe you got him confused. Maybe he meant that you were making a mockery of what he stood for, id est, what he actually said was ‘You’re making a mockery of what I stand for!’

A: …No, no… that doesn’t sound right. In any case, I wasn’t mocking anything, I was just standing.

B: What if the act of standing was mockery in and of itself? Was he in a wheelchair? I could see how someone in a wheelchair might get sensitive about those sort of things… standing and the like.

A: No, no, he was standing perfectly well…. he was wearing pants, mind you, so he may have had a wooden leg under there, or prosthetics. It’s amazing… the things they can do with prosthetics.

Continue reading “Untitled Dialogue #1”

Five Years

Sorry to be a little pretentious, but I think this is fitting for what is an inauspicious anniversary:

“Five Years” by David Bowie

Pushing thru the market square, so many mothers sighing
News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in
News guy wept when he told us, earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying
I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies
I saw boys, toys, electric irons and TVs
My brain hurt like a warehouse, it had no room to spare
I had to cram so many things to store everything in there
And all the fat-skinny people, and all the tall-short people
All the nobody people and all the somebody people
I never thought I’d need so many people
A girl my age went off her head, hit some tiny children
If the black hadn’t a-pulled her off I think she would have killed them
A soldier with a broken arm, fixed his stare to the wheels of a Cadillac
A cop knelt and kissed the feet of a priest, and a queer threw up at the sight of that
I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour drinking milkshakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine, don’t think you knew you were in this song
And it was cold and it rained so I felt like an actor
And I thought of Ma and I wanted to get back there
Your face, your race, the way that you talk
I kiss you, you’re beautiful, I want you to walk

We got five years, stuck on my eyes
We got five years, what a suprise
We got five years, my brain hurts alot
We got five years, that’s all we’ve got

The Prestige and The Science of Sleep

I think it must just be good movie season coming up… I’ve seen several pretty exciting trailers, and I’m pretty pumped for some upcoming moviegoing, including:

“The Prestige”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/touchstone/theprestige/ directed by Christopher Nolan

and “The Science of Sleep”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/warner_independent_pictures/thescienceofsleep/ directed by Michel Gondry.

California Roadtrip 2006, Part 1

*Day 1.*

I left early from work, called Tony, and he drove me to the airport. At first I was worried that I wouldn’t make my plane, but we got there in plenty of time. You hear airport security horror stories nowadays… _”Get there three hours early, or you’ll never see the inside of that there flying machine, m’boy”_, but it was fairly straightforward… empty your pockets, take off your shoes, and go through the scanner.

I then had some time to kill, so I decided to eat dinner. This was a big mistake, mostly because I decided that Chinese food from a restaurant in the airport would be edible. I went to a little buffet, filled up my container with what purported to be General Tso’s Chicken (spicy) and ordered a coke to drink.

There was _so much sugar_ in the “General Tso’s Chicken” that I stopped being able to taste my coke, and I just threw the whole mess away. It distracted my stomach for a little while, though, at least long enough to make it to Colorado and eat something better.

The flight wasn’t bad at all – about two hours long, and I finished reading “Feet of Clay”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061057649/ on the plane. I am still resolutely stuck on reading everything Terry Pratchett has ever written, which may take me some time… there are about 20 more books in the series that I haven’t read yet.

Continue reading “California Roadtrip 2006, Part 1”

Children of Men

Alright, I’m really excited about this movie, too:


“Children of Men”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/childrenofmen/, from Alfonso Cuaron (director of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Askaban)

Mr. Gantry Comes To Visit

So tonight was “Cathedral For a While” party #3. I didn’t perform, but I did put together a second issue of Summer Reading. (If you’re curious, issue #1 is available in .zip form here.)

For some reason I wasn’t satisfied with just formatting everyone else’s stories, and I didn’t want to include something old. So I wrote a new story. In an hour.

I have this feeling that it’s probably terrible, but it is amazing considering I forced myself to produce in a very short time limit. I threw caution to the wind and I just wrote! Perhaps a lesson can be learned?

(Don’t write under deadline?)

In any case:

Mr. Gantry Comes to Visit
by Jeff James

Davis woke suddenly from a very deep sleep. This was less than comfortable. His eyes would not, did not focus, and his thoughts were still dozing, lethargic and lost in the jumble. What had awakened him? Something sharp and metallic. Jabbed right into the soft part of his left foot. There was no sign of it now.
He rose from bed, walked unsteadily across the room to his miniature bathroom. “Walked” was perhaps giving him too much credit – he stumbled, cursed, stumbled again, and stepped on something that irreparably broke.
He splashed water on his face, cold water. As cold as his faucets would allow, which meant somewhere just below lukewarm. It seemed to help, at least a little bit. He could focus his eyes now. He no longer saw his apartment as a colorful field of fuzzy jumbles. The jumbles rearranged themselves into his fairly depressing collection of earthly possessions.
He toweled himself off and heard, faintly, the sound of clinking glass in the kitchen. A voice called out: “Coffee’s ready.”
Davis stepped into the hallway and walked towards his undersized kitchen. A full pot of coffee steamed on the burbling automatic coffeemaker. Just to the right of that on the counter, at about chest level, was a man’s face.
Or, to be more specific, a man’s head.
Where the man’s neck logically should have continued down into his body, there was a small metal platform that sprouted spider-like metallic legs. They clicked softly on the kitchen counter as the head skittered from side to side.
This was Gantry. He said: “I would have poured you a cup, but these things’re worthless for gripping,” and gestured meaningfully with two spider-legs. Continue reading “Mr. Gantry Comes To Visit”

OK, I Am Officially Addicted To:


seriously. i feel like i shouldn’t be so into doctor shows, of all things (scrubs and this), but damn if this one doesn’t seriously catch my fancy. i just watched three episodes in a row… two of them got me a little choked up and all three were hilarious. that, to me, is damn fine television… so i bought it.

always happens to me. amazon.com at 2 am. oh well.

…oh and i guess i was supposed to write up the story of my roadtrip. whoops!


A couple of things. First, “here’s a gallery of photos from the trip”:http://www.flickr.com/photos/49649144@N00/.

As for my stories about the trip… soon, soon, I promise. I’m still recuperating from all of it. I’ve got a nice detailed travologue in my head coming to a blog near you very soon. In the meantime, “one of my lovely hosts has some more pictures and a bit of a recap”:http://timanddee.blogspot.com/2006/07/house-guests-2-and-3.html on her site.



(Be careful, that last one might give you nightmares.)

longest. drive. ever.

i have returned from my road trip, and i never want to ride in a car ever again. ever. stupid cars. once i’ve regained my strength and slept for 24 or so hours, i’ll write up a nice detailed post about my whole week, and i’ll post some more pictures.


Tasks: 1) Bend. 2) Cheese it!

My mom has politely requested that I update my blog more often. I’ve been letting down my faithful readers, apparently. Hi Mom!

!{float: left}/images/chair.jpg! Tonight Beau and I went and saw “The Puffy Chair”:http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436689/, which is a little indie film directed by two brothers from Austin, Mark and Jay Duplass. The basic premise of the movie is that Josh, a 20-something former musician, has bought a big, puffy chair on eBay, and has planned a road trip to pick it up and deliver it to his dad as a birthday present. Apparently his dad had the same chair years ago, and Josh thinks it will make a nice present.

Initially, he plans to make the trip by himself, but the night before he is going to leave, he has a fight with his girlfriend. To make it up to her, he invites her along on the road trip so that they can spend some time together – she had already said that she wanted to come along for the ride. Things start off well enough, but when they stop to visit Josh’s brother, Brett, he invites himself along, too.

This just makes things more complicated, but because this movie is anything but formulaic, Brett is not the sort of character who causes conflict by being wacky – he’s just another person along for the ride, someone who gets in the way when the couple is trying to be intimate, or asks questions about what is going on when they’re fighting.

…And fight they do. One of the best things this movie does is unflinchingly portray a couple dealing with some pretty serious issues and constantly picking at each other or fighting. Somehow it manages to do this while still being funny, but it’s definitely not a “romantic” comedy. It’s, well… a relationship-roadtrip-nightmare comedy/drama.

The stylistic choices made in the movie really help it all seem that much more _real_. The movie was shot on digital video, like many indies nowadays, and that combined with the handheld camera throughout most of the movie makes it seem like a documentary. The characters really felt like people I know.

You can check out a trailer for it at “the Duplass brothers’ website”:http://www.duplassbrothers.com/home.html. I’d recommend it, but I don’t know if it would make for a good “date” movie…

Camellia Sinensis

So… I seem to have a new habit lately. Or maybe two new habits.

Habit #1: I think about writing something in this blog, lay it out in my head, then I don’t. I seem to have worked up some kind of aversion to writing in this thing (not that I’m writing much otherwise). This is probably a symptom of some sort of overall problem, no?

Habit #2: I have been drinking a *lot* of tea lately. Two or three cups a day. I’ve got a pretty good selection of different varieties, including (but not limited to):


…I’ve also got several more at work, including some loose-leaf varieties of “mate tea”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mate_tea, some rasberry tea, and an excellent green tea from “Tazo”:http://www.tazo.com.

Part of the reason that I started drinking so much tea was because coffee just doesn’t seem to sit as well on my stomach any more. I can have it every once in a while, but if I have too much or drink it too often, things do not bode well for me. Tea, on the other hand, seems to go down pretty smoothly if I haven’t been abusing my esophagus.

Not So Bad, But Not So Good

fal·low (făl’ō)


1. Plowed but left unseeded during a growing season: fallow farmland.
*2. Characterized by inactivity: a fallow gold market.*


1. Land left unseeded during a growing season.
2. The act of plowing land and leaving it unseeded.
3. The condition or period of being unseeded.

tr.v., -lowed, -low·ing, -lows.

1. To plow (land) without seeding it afterward.
2. To plow and till (land), especially to eradicate or reduce weeds.

I should also mention “the electric sheep screen-saver”:http://electricsheep.org/.


Who wouldn’t want a screen-saver that looked like that?

you look like a perfect fit

This past Saturday night we had the first public “cathedral for a while” event. Basically we had a party at “beau’s”:http://probabilityfields.com house, but it wasn’t just any party. The whole inside of the house was decorated, all of the furniture was re-arranged, and there was a stage set up in their living room. Over the course of the night, there was music, theatre, film, and even archery.

When we first started talking about this whole thing, I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to participate. the earliest meetings coincided with a general funk that lasted about a solid month, so I had a hard time seeing much further than my own feet for a while.

Of course, everyone insisted that i *had* to come up with something, but I held my cards close to my chest for as long as possible. I didn’t want to commit to anything, and I especially didn’t want to commit to anything that other people would rely on me to do.

But, as it turns out, we kept having meetings, and we kept talking about being creative, and even though I wasn’t having any ideas, it was nice to be in that general soup of creative thought.

The idea had been floated that we should try and assemble a documentary from some footage Aaron had taken of Tony competing in an Air Guitar Championship. His character was named Rockbot. “Why not”, they said, “make a Rockbotumentary?” This was tasked to me, since I have the computer with video editing software. I don’t remember whether or not I actually agreed to do this. I probably did.

After a certain point, however, my general noncomittal stance evaporated and I decided to take it seriously after all. The thing that probably got me going was the first night of actual editing. Beau and I sat down and managed to put together an opening sequence that was, in our humble opinion(s), sheer awesomeness. We cracked up every time we watched it. But the rest of the footage still needed something more – we had performance footage, but we didn’t have the story of the event.

The following night I called Tony and asked if he had time to do an interview so that we’d have something to intercut with the performance footage. Luckily, I caught him at a good time and he was able to come over and sit down for a little while. I did my best to interview him like I thought the professionals would, and I ended up with about 20 minutes of interview footage.

Beau came over about 20 minutes after Tony left, and we started editing again, now with interview footage to work with. This was the Thursday night before the party, and we wanted to get it done as soon as possible. There was some worry that we just wouldn’t be able to finish it in time, but we soldiered on through and managed to wrap it up that same night.

I think I can feel confident in saying that the “Rockbotumentary” is one of the best things I’ve ever put together in iMovie. It’s definitely the first movie we’ve made as a group in a long time that we took seriously. That doesn’t meant that it’s not funny, of course, we just wanted to make something that wasn’t a joke for once.

Anyways, enough of my chatter. Why don’t you check it out for yourself?


(Note: Requires Quicktime 7. Update your systems!)

all sleep and no awake makes jeff a dull boy

um, well, any pretensions i’ve had of a social life have gone out the window this week because my sleep schedule got all out of whack and i fell soundly asleep right after coming home from work for most of the week. i’m talking 6pm out like a light style.

now, of course, not once did i actually sleep all the way through the night from 6pm. that’d be too easy. no, instead, I’d fall asleep until about 11pm or midnight, and wake up realizing that i’d missed doing fun things (like going to see V for Vendetta Thursday night. dammit.)

if i was lucky, i’d putter around for an hour or two and then fall back asleep. i was not always lucky. one night i just ended up giving up on sleep, and I got out of bed and decided to be productive instead, which was just as well – that website needed working on, anyways.

hopefully this weekend will help me get back on track…

in other news, there was a shooting in my apartment complex last friday night. when I say shooting, I mean that someone wearing a paintball mask knocked on somebody’s door a little bit after midnight, they opened it, saw that he had a gun, shut it as quickly as possible, and the guy then shot through the door three times. the resident of the apartment was shot once through the hand and had to go to the hospital. why, you might ask, did they open the door after midnight without checking to see who it was? they were actually expecting someone.

at first, i was pretty freaked out by the whole thing, and really, when i’m outside after dark here now, i definitely feel a bit paranoid, but i’m going to stick it out in this place. i’d have to break my lease to move (i’m signed up until Jan. 2007), and, really, there’s no guarantee that moving to a different apartment complex would be any safer. it’s entirely possible i could spend all sorts of money to move somewhere else and the same exact thing would happen. i think the best thing is for me to pay better attention to my surroundings, keep my door good and locked at all times, and always check the peephole before i open the door. (good thing Beau is too lazy to knock on the door… he just waits in the parking lot and calls me on his cell phone to get me to come downstairs…)

I think, however, that once my lease is up here, i’d really like to move back into a house/duplex situation with roommate(s). probably. we’ll see how i feel next year, but it’s the way I’m leaning.

cathedral for a while

so tonight we had another of our bi-weekly meetings about the show we’re trying to put together. personally, i’ve been impressed that we’ve been actually meeting every two weeks. to me that’s a pretty decent level of commitment – having a core group of people that managed to show up regularly to talk about the same thing. i definitely feel like we’ve had some formless meetings (the one where we basically watched the oscars instead was kind of… less focused), but tonight was good.

for most of the meeting we went over stuff that we’ve been trying to pin down for a while. we’ve now got a tentative date and a tentative venue, but i think we’re all still kind of fuzzy on the actual parameters of this event we’re going to have. we sidestepped that issue by planning a party for three weeks from now. the idea behind the party is that it’ll be sort of a test run for the event itself – we’ll gather people around in a party atmosphere, and then at a certain point in the night we’ll pull everyone into the living room and folks will start performing (poetry, music, theatre, whatever).

the benefit of this particular way of looking at things is that pulling off a party at the yager house is a piece of cake, so taking it to that next level won’t be as hard as it would be doing the same thing in an actual venue.

the other, more palpable achievement of the night was that we picked a name for the whole… thing. the name-picking method was my suggestion. we grabbed a book (“skinny legs and all” by tom robbins) and people took turns opening it to a random page, pointing, and reading off the four words next to their finger. it’s a pretty cool way to get some interesting titles… after we had a list of about 20 good ones, we narrowed it down to “cathedral for a while”, which has a nice ring to it and fits with some of the ideas that we’ve talked about – i like the idea of making art that is both temporary and sacred, and our dada method of picking a title was appealing to all of us.

in closing, here are a few examples that i just pulled from “the demolished man” by alfred bester:

with the galaxy inside
clump of rubbery red
but it won’t help
as a war memorial
a make-believe detective
milk-white eyes disappeared
alleys were patched into
does murder turn the

and from “mort” by terry pratchett:

had a nasty forboding
away from the stranger
i just feel angry
rooftop height would have
he stuttered, trying to
the exact position that
effortlessly pronouncing a row
therefore it is prudent

what a miserable way to start a weekend

yesterday i suffered through some of the worst allergies i’ve had in a while. the onset of it all came sometime late thursday night, right around the time i went to bed, which meant that i tossed and turned and generally had a bad night of it. the following workday was completely miserable, and when i finally made it home, i crashed in bed and slept for a very long time. when i woke up around 12:45 am, i felt a hell of a lot better, although i’m definitely still stuffed up. the good news, however, is that now i can breathe… most of the time.

today i went to pick up my car from the shop – i had to wait until yesterday to drop it off because i needed to work around beau’s schedule to get it dropped off in the first place, and i didn’t want to have to worry about getting to work the next day. of course, i also knew that the problem was most likely a very simple fix – before i dropped it off on friday, i also took it in to the same place on monday after work, and the very helpful Hai checked it out for me really quickly. he told me at the time that it was most likely just the speed sensor, and he was of course right. the repairs came out to $240 all told, which i guess is still a decent chunk of change, but considering that i was expecting to pay at least twice as much, i was happy.

now my goal is to go read for a few hours. i’m still ever-so-slowly working on reading “lamb”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0380813815/, and my goal is to try and finish it today if possible.


well, there goes that weekend

man, weekends seem to go faster and faster these days… and it’s not like i’m using my time to anything particularly exciting…

on friday, i watched some dvds and shows, and then i spent some time figuring out how to make an animated gif of myself. now, i cannot honestly explain what made me decide to do this. mostly i think i was bored. anyways, here’s the final result:


on saturday night, i watched another handful of scrubs episodes and found out yet again that if i’m in a crappy mood (like i was saturday afternoon), all i have to do is sit down and watch a batch of scrubs episodes and my day is instantly lifted. it’s kind of amazing, actually. i also finished watching cowboy bebop, which was pretty good overall, although i felt like the series ending didn’t wrap things up as well as it could have.

i also figured out how to make my own ringtones for my phone. right now whenever anyone calls me, my phone plays “why do fools fall in love?”. other than however many minutes i used to access the internet, the whole thing was free, thanks to “this site”:http://rumkin.com/tools/sprint/index.php. personally, i think it was totally worth it.

in other news… something needs to be done about my ipod. the battery just doesn’t quite have the kick it used to. some days it’s good for 2 hours, and on others it dies after 20 minutes of use. to make matters worse, i think whatever claim form i sent off three months ago has disappeared into a legal black hole somewhere. oh well.

it’s starting to look like it’s time to pony up the $70 for a battery replacement. the more irresponsible choice, of course, would be to just buy a whole new ipod… one with more storage, of course. it’s gotten to the point where my ipod is constantly bursting at the seams. so far, however, i’ve resisted either possibility.

wait, so… is this supposed to make me buy more perishables?

Tonight I had the rather odd experience of going to HEB and hearing “Lost in the Supermarket” by The Clash over the in-store speakers. If you’re not familiar with the song, here’s a pertinent lyrical sample:

bq{font-style: italic;}.. I’m all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

I like the rows of lights because they keep me calm

!{float: left; margin: 0 1em 1em 0;}/images/nada.jpg! tonight was the “nada surf”:http://nadasurf.com/ show at “emo’s”:http://www.emosaustin.com/. it was actually the third time i’ve seen them play. the first was well before they made a comeback, and they were opening for the impossibles, a local texas band. the second time was at emo’s about two or three years ago, just after they had started edging their way back into respectability – that show was inside on the tiny stage emo’s has in their front room. it was an exciting show because i was so into their last album, let go, and you could tell that they were confident and ready to face the world again.

this third show was on the big outside stage at emo’s. at this point, nada surf is back and well established in indie circles, and the outside area was packed even though it was pretty cold outside. they did have heaters running, but i was definitely still glad i brought my warm hat with me. it was a good show, but i was slightly less excited this time. it’s not that i’m less into their music – i think i was just in a weird mood or something. i suppose the fact that i couldn’t round up anyone to go with me did also put a little bit of a damper on things. anyways, it was a good show, they were definitely _on_ despite some sound problems, and they played all of the songs i wanted to hear.

one thing that was kind of annoying, though, was that about 30-45 minutes into the show a girl who had been standing next to me for a while started trying to talk to me, except she was plastered and i couldn’t hear a thing she was saying. despite this fact, she kept trying to talk to me, and kept trying to lean against me or put her arm around mine. she was either hitting on me or looking for someone to help her stand up straight. probably both. i tried to let her know that i really just wanted to be left alone so that i could watch the show, but this wasn’t really getting across, so finally i just had to give up my spot and walk around to the other side of the venue. this kind of sucked because i was further away, but i was really getting the impression that this girl was not going to leave me alone, and i was never going to figure out what the hell she was saying.

at the end of the show, i bought a nice little poster. i think i’m going to go get some frames tomorrow for that and my mission of burma poster. i’ve basically figured out that those little sticky tabs just aren’t going to work in this apartment – the walls aren’t the kind of smooth surfaces necessary to make things stick. i’ll just put up some nails and worry about fixing the holes whenever i move out.

on the way home, the roads were icy all over – i saw a bunch of fire trucks, cop cars and ambulances headed to or from accidents. i got stuck behind an accident on 35 for a little while, and then when i got to the 183 exit, it was blocked off by a cop car, most likely because the exit, a curving overpass, would be treacherous in tonight’s weather. i decided to go further north and take the Yager exit, since I know how to get to my place from there. this is the kind of driver i am, especially when i don’t have other people in the car to judge me – i’ll miss an exit and just casually find my way home some other way.

anyways, i was driving down the feeder road verrrry slowly because there was a long bridge coming up and i know from experience that car tires and icy bridges do not mix. i was driving about 25 miles an hour, and when i finally got over the bridge i looked off to my right and realized that there was a flipped car on the side of the road. the front bumper was in a ditch and the car had landed at a 45 degree angle with the tail end straight out in the air. for a second i couldn’t believe my eyes, and then i pulled over up ahead of it to check on the driver. (noting, as i did this, that several cars in front of me had just driven right past the accident.)

the car looked pretty bad. those few seconds while i walked up to the wreck were pretty scary, because i didn’t see any movement at first, but as i got a little closer i saw a face in the window, so i called out to the guy, who told me that he was okay. when i got up close, i reached down and helped him climb out through the window – he had just finished cutting off his seat belt. the whole thing had probably happened minutes before i got there, although i didn’t see it. the guy was, amazingly, fine, although he was pretty freaked out (understandably). once i got him out, i called 911 and waited with him for them to come. i felt pretty sorry for the guy – apparently his weekend had been bad already, and this was just icing on the cake.

after about 20 or 30 minutes, a cop and a wrecker came, and pretty soon after a fire truck pulled up as well. because the guy wasn’t hurt, he turned down EMS service, and once the tow truck turned his car over and towed it off, i gave him a ride home. perhaps the worst part for the poor guy was that he was literally minutes from his house. (isn’t there some statistic that says that most accidents happen when you’re a few miles from where you live?)

after that, i drove extra slow the whole way home, only stopping for a bit of whataburger because my stomach was rumbling. and now it’s 5am and i’m only a little sleepy. that’s what i get for taking a nap before the show. oh well. i’ll try and go to sleep here in a little while.

tomorrow night, “supergrass”:http://www.roadtorouen.co.uk at “the parish”:http://www.theparishroom.com/!

you’d think with a fancy college education like mine, these sort of things would occur to me sooner

So… you may remember the story of my camcorder. I bought it in the summer of 2003. I paid it off in November of 2004. Three months later, I pulled it out of its case and discovered that the screen had decided that from then on out it would display and record nothing but blackness. Audio came through just fine, tapes played without a hitch, but recording anything new was impossible.

This discovery was, at the time, incredibly frustrating. I had barely used the camcorder, hardly justified the $1000 purchase.

The camera has mostly been a frustrating experience – when I did use it to record anything, it became apparent (I thought) that my old iMac was no longer up to the task of editing. Of course, the resolution to _that_ bit of the story was that it was actually my firewire drive gumming up the works. This meant that although I could edit video, there couldn’t be much of it because of the limited space on my main drive.

When it finally broke, however, that was the last straw. At the time, I contacted Canon customer service to see if they could do any kind of repair. I got the impression, however, that fixing the problem would could about half as much as the camera was worth, and that hardly seemed worth it considering how little I had used it in the first place. I decided to wait until I had some spare cash to worry about fixing it. It didn’t really seem like a priority.

Flash forward to a year later. The camera has been sitting in a drawer, unused and forgotten about. One big change, though, is that I bought myself a brand new computer, one with more than enough to horsepower to edit video. Enough horsepower to edit video without even batting an eye. The first big step had been taken. Now I just had to look into getting it repaired.

This is where one begins to wonder _why I did not think of the following solution a year ago…_

We’ve had some discussions among my group of friends recently about putting together a kind of variety show, with theatre, poetry, music, film, and whatever else anyone can come up with. Thanks to a recent discussion, it finally occurred to me that I should look into getting the camera repaired somewhere else besides Canon.

“Hell,” I thought, “why not check and see if Best Buy could repair it? It’d probably be cheaper that Canon repairing it.”

It occurred to me after some thought that I should probably dig up my receipt to find out whether or not the camera might still be under warranty. This was no small task, considering that my “filing system” consists of five years of random papers stacked on my dining room table, oftentimes topped off by a surly black cat.

At first it was pretty hopeless, but as I was on hold with Best Buy, I started flailing around in the pile to see if I could just find an old Best Buy credit card statement, when what should I find but _the original receipt_!

It gets better from there, however… it turns out that way back in the day I was thoughtful enough to buy the Best Buy service plan, which (much to my surprise) covers my camera for four years. This means that I can get repairs done on the camera… *for free* until 6/6/2007.

Needless to say, I felt pretty silly and pretty happy at the same time. Earlier tonight I dropped the camera off for repairs. I should have it back sometime in a week or so.

And then all I have to do is start making movies again.

they can make machines save us labor. someday they’ll do our hearts the very same favor.

so, this “blog” has become deader than dead. a doornail.

you might ask… why? well, mostly it’s because i hardly ever seem to want to sit down and write it in anymore. things do happen to me, but, on the whole, they are not interesting things. most weeks seem to be about the same, including some or all of the following:

– 40 hours of work.
– a variable amount of sleep.
– _at least_ 1-2 movies on dvd.
– several dozen episodes of various tv shows (not just Scrubs, either!)
– drinking in a bar on Friday and/or Saturday night. sometimes Tuesday if we’re bored enough. the occasional party breaks the “bar” monotony.
– cats demanding food at all hours of the day.
– eating out more than i should instead of buying groceries (Thundercloud Subs, mostly. That’s kinda healthy, right?)
– searching out new music constantly.
– shooting the proverbial _shit_ with my long-suffering buddy “Beau”:http://probabilityfields.com.
– doing my best to figure out the “fairer” sex. they exist only to baffle me.
– not writing. not writing a bit.
– thinking about what i’d be writing if it wasn’t for that whole “not writing” thing.

all of that said, i do think that i’d like to ramp this sucker back up a bit. it’s good to keep a record of where i am and where i’ve been. i think it’ll always be really valuable to be able to look back on my past exploits to help analyze the present.

Razza-frazza @#$% Macworld Keynote

Stupid “new iMacs”:http://www.apple.com with stupid Intel processors and stupid “all sales final” employee purchase plan…

…actually, I kid… I am kind of disappointed that they did in fact update the iMacs after all. I was banking on them updating the Mac Mini and probably one of the laptop lines, but I really thought that since the iMac was updated in November that it wouldn’t be updated so soon. Oh well.

My computer is still absolutely awesome and incredibly powerful, and will continue to have the same life that it would always have had. I knew they were going to start introducing Macs with Intel processors sometime this year, and I knew that and went ahead and bought a new computer anyways because I wanted a _new computer_.

I’ve heard it said that buying the first revision of anything is oftentimes a bad idea anyways…

Ah well. Let’s be realistic here. For what I’m going to do with my computer (surf the web, write, listen to music, watch movies, design web pages, maybe edit some video, play with Garageband, etc) I’ve got more than enough iMac to go around. Hell, my old iMac only recently stopped being able to do some of those things.

Oh, to hell with it! I’m gonna have a party!

Oh, 2005… you’re on your last legs, with only three more hours to go. You were kind of an odd mis-shapen year, weren’t you?

You and I spent our first few months together entering into spiraling credit-card debt thanks to my impulsive (but never regretted) unemployment. Then I found employment, and honestly, it seems like the rest of the year has been a blur.

2005 was the year that I effectively sold my soul to the chemical comforts of TV shows on DVD and the insidious call of the DVR.

I managed to watch four seasons of Farscape, seven of Buffy, and five of Angel over the course of the year, along with any number of other shows and movies that I can’t even begin to count.

According to the program I used to track my reading habits, I read 41 books in 2005.

Six of those were audio books listened to on my iPod.

Twelve were graphic novels, although two of the ones I count (Black Hole and McSweeney’s issue 13) were longer works.

Two of the books I read (Jennifer Government and Faust Among Equals) were _awful_.

One book (The Stars My Destination) was perhaps the best book I’ve read in years, with the final Dark Tower book coming equally close for sheer emotional power.

Song of the year? “Blankest Year” by Nada Surf.

…And now it’s time for me to get my stuff together so I can head out to a party at my friends’ house. Hopefully it’ll be a good time. I need to start filling myself with resolve for the coming of 2006.

You Set the Fire in Me

After much waffling, I finally buckled under and bought myself a new computer. I’ve needed one for a while now – my poor old G3 iMac has been pushed far past its natural limit, and needs to be put out to pasture somewhere where noone will try to make it play full-screen video.

I was having a hard time deciding between a laptop and a new iMac, but my dad made the point that if all I wanted a laptop for, I should just get something cheap, and that if I was looking to actually upgrade my computer, the iMac was a more sensible choice. This is why it’s good to keep your parents around. Sometimes they help you make decisions.

Anyways, as soon as I got back to work on Monday I ordered the computer (20″ screen, 2.1 Ghz G5 processor… drool…) Right now the Apple website says that it should ship on Friday, so I should be able to get my grubby hands on it sometime early next week. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

Other than that, things are pretty standard. Although I do have to work this week, I’m getting paid holiday pay plus overtime for every hour I work, and we’ve gone home early both days so far – we probably won’t stay any later than 3pm all week, which is definitely nice. This is also the last week I’ll have to be on the phone all day, so that’s nice.

Tonight I sat and watched Groundhog Day on DVD. Such a good movie, and more profound than you might expect, considering it’s the sort of movie that used to get played incessantly on various cable channels.

Alright, I’m tired. I’d like to try and read a little bit before I sleep, but it probably won’t happen. Oh well… I do hope, however, that I can finish at least one of the books I’m currently reading before the end of 2005. That’d be nice… (especially since one of them, The Wizard, is due back at the library on the 3rd.)

well, at least they’ll get to finish it right

Personally, I’ve really been enjoying Alias this season – I think it’s been exciting and they’ve got a good handle on the premise again (and, actually, except for a few kinda boring episodes, season four was pretty damn good, too).

I have, however, also said that I was hoping that they would wrap it up this season, simply because it seems like the right time, and now that Sydney Bristow is going to be a mother, it seems less likely that she’d be able to keep the up the spyin’ all the time.

Well, ask and ye shall receive: “ABC: Alias Mission to End in May”:http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001570832

This, to me, is actually pretty good news. They’ve been given enough time to put together a rousing series finale that wraps up all the loose ends. Five seasons is a good number for a show like Alias – sitcoms can drag on for 10 or more seasons and still be mildly entertaining, but shows that rely on developing story arcs can really push it if they last too long.

Also, story arc shows also tend to like to end with cliffhangers, and there’s nothing worse than canceling a show after they’ve planned a cliff-hanger season ending (*cough* Farscape *cough*).

i’m really close tonight


I went and saw the new Harry Potter movie at a midnight showing this week. i was originally planning on going to see My Morning Jacket that evening, but I hadn’t actually realized that the tickets were $25, and honestly, Harry Potter sounded like more fun once I weighed the options. (I also began to imagine that the MMJ show might be like when I went and saw Built to Spill live. They’ve made some damn good albums, but the reality of them live wasn’t that exciting to me.)

HP4 was good, but not, in my opinion, the Best Harry Potter Movie Yet, as some critics have dubbed it. It was well-made and nicely dark. They cut out all of the fat in the storyline (how else could they fit a 700 page book in two and a half hours?), and it was definitely better than the first two movies, but it didn’t really break any new ground, in my honest opinion. I know that it wasn’t as good as Prison of Azkabana because when I left the theatre after _that_ one, I was ecstatic, completely jazzed about the movie I had just seen. After this one, I was just… well… I thought it was good, but it didn’t leap from the screen like the third movie did.

Other than that, I’ve got a week off from work! This little vacation has come just in time, too… So far I’ve just done my normal weekend things, i.e. watched some TV, caught up on sleep, and spent an afternoon reading. My plans for the rest of the week are pretty wide open, other than a trip to San Antonio for Thanksgiving.

This was pretty exotic stuff for a telepathic barmaid from northern Louisiana.


Lately I’ve been able to get myself to devote more time to reading. Usually only on the weekends, though. That seems to be the time that I’m most able to free myself up and branch out. Weekdays mostly consist of either vegging out or falling instantly asleep when I come home from work.

Of course, there is the odd weeknight where I go to the local laundromat and do a few very necessary loads – I got a good chunk of reading done at one this past week, although I’d be much happier if I could convince my cat(s) to never pee on my bed again, thank you very much.

Hopefully the new (bigger) litter box that now lives in the other room will help with things. I’ve also been cleaning the thing out pretty religiously, since a dirty litter box was probably the most likely cause of my recent problem.

But, back to the real subject, the reading… it’s been nice. It’s probably easier to devote more time to reading because I’m not currently caught up in any long runs of TV shows. Sure, I’ve got two sets of Smallville to watch, but I’ve been more leisurely about that; it’s a good show, but I’m not super hooked yet. (And, really, I’d like to back off on my TV show obsession at least for a short while. It is so very time consuming.)

All digressions aside, I’m currently reading a book called “Dead Until Dark”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0441008534/ by Charlaine Harris. It’s actually part of a series of books about a southern girl and her vampire boyfriend – I’d heard about it before, but my interest was piqued because Alan Ball, creator of Six Feet Under, is apparently developing a new show for HBO based on the books. Now that I’ve read a good chunk of the first book, I can see how it might be right up his alley. The title of this entry, by the way, is a quote from the book that particularly struck my fancy.

In fact, thanks to a cool Movable Type plugin called “Media Manager”:http://www.majordojo.com/projects/MediaManager/, I’ve got a list of books on the right-hand side of this site. The previous version of this page had a “currently reading” list thanks to an older version of the plugin. The new version, though, is pretty nice, and adds a lot of cool features. It did take a little bit of fiddling to get the plugin set up, right though… It assumed some things about my MT setup that caused problems until I did some digging and pinned them down.

In other news, I haven’t made any headway on the grad school applications. I’m not sure if I’m just procrastinating, or actively trying to talk myself out of the whole thing. And… if I am trying to talk myself out it, why exactly would I do that? Especially considering that tonight I sat down and started a new short story. I didn’t start writing it because I felt pressured to, or because I thought I should write something to use for the application… I just… had an idea and sat down to write. I didn’t write very much before I stopped, but there seems to be something key here that I’m not really grasping.

It’s not that I don’t want to be a writer… almost on an instinctual level, I _have_ to write, I need it. I can distinctly remember how good it felt to let the whole world fall away and just write and write when I sat down and wrote my plays. It was one of the most satisfying (or maybe it was the most satisfying) feelings i’ve ever had. For some reason, though, I’ve put a number of obstacles between myself and writing. Somehow it’s much easier to live my boring work-a-day life and watch tv shows instead of writing.

Then again, though, that was always the point, wasn’t it? Working on computers comes easily, almost too easily, and always has. I’ve got a knack for programming, and math and logic. That, however, seems to be one of the main reasons that I wouldn’t want to devote my life to working on computers. It’d be like sleepwalking all the time. Writing, though, is a challenge, and isn’t even really easy to get myself to do, but when I do sit down and get going with something that I’m writing, I feel awake and fully present…

To end, a mini review:


I watched a movie recently called “The Weather Man”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0384680/. I enjoyed it, although it was what the critics like to call a “downer”. I’d recommend it, though. One of the main points that the movie makes is that part of really growing up and being an adult is doing the things that are hard to do.

The whole movie is about Nicholas Cage’s journey of self discovery, and the interesting thing is that he doesn’t change that much in the course of the movie, but that is at the same time part of the revelation. He is who he is, and he can only change so much of his life. Realizing that helps him move forward and come to terms with certain things that have been troubling him. The movie does not have what you could say is a happy ending, but his character seems to have just that little bit more peace and self-understanding when it comes to a close.

Oh, The Shame

so, what with the start of “National Novel Writing Month”:http://nanowrimo.org i managed to goad myself into doing something writing-related.

i wrote the initial stage directions to a new short play… then i scrapped that and sat down to read the first act of my most recent play (May 2004, ouch) in preparation for a much-needed rewrite. it’s amazing how time and distance can change your perspective on something:

  • the dialogue is generally creaky and reads like it needs to be heard out loud so that i can make it sound like actual human speech
  • the whole act zooms by at an amazing clip. everything needs to slow down, add more details, develop things more.
  • the tone is all over the map. the characters don’t seem consistent at all, and the menacing tone that i’d like to go for isn’t really concretely there
  • mr. antonelli: needs to be creepier, more of a jerk. mrs. antonelli: need to play with this portrayal.
  • note for second act: no body-snatching. why not a finely crafted invention for a head?

to re-iterate: the whole thing reeks of “first draft”. i mean, it’s a whole lot more _there_ than knifepoint was after the first crack, but damn this needs some work. i’m so screwed…

great movie, terrible crowd


I have never been to a movie where a large section of the audience actually groaned in frustration/disgust when the movie ended. A woman right behind me stood up immediately as the credits rolled and loudly declared “Next time, _I_ get to pick the movie!” Several people walked out throughout the film, and one group in the back spent most of the time giggling, most likely at some private joke.

Personally, though, I think that “A History of Violence”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0399146/ is one of the best movies I have seen this year, standing alongside Broken Flowers, The Constant Gardener, Serenity, and Wedding Crashers (yes, really… I laughed so damn hard during that one).

Of course, I suppose that it isn’t exactly surprising that this movie would bring out strong feelings. From everything I’ve read people either love it or hate it so much that they invent new types of hatred just speaking about it.

The movie itself is quiet and methodical, with the sort of spare, economical dialogue you might find in a Pinter play or something by Hemingway. The violence is brutal and gruesome every single time, and the sex scenes are startlingly graphic without ever showing an inch of skin. In fact, I’d say that this is one of the few movies I’ve seen where the sex scenes were crucial to the movie.

The scoring was pitch-perfect, as well. In fact, large parts of the movie were entirely free of music – something that I am sure made more than one audience member terribly uncomfortable.

Unfortunately, the crappy audience definitely brought down my overall moviegoing experience – I feel like aspects of the film that should have sunk in didn’t because of the people around me, people who probably should have seen Flightplan instead. It definitely made me realize that maybe it’s not so bad to wait for DVDs to come out, instead of having to put your moviegoing experience into the hands of random jerkoffs.

“Shining” – A Story About One Father, One Son, and a Whole New Way of Looking at Things. Starring Jack Nicholson.


(Medium Trailer, Quicktime, 9.5mb)

Coming Summer 1980 from “P.S. 260”:http://www.ps260.com/

p{color: red}. EDIT: Apparently this little clip is an internet phenomenon. Good thing I downloaded it and put it on my own site, in case the other site inevitably goes down (although by the same token, I’ll have to take it down if people start finding it from my site through some ridiculous turn of events.) Anyways, “here’s an article”:http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/30/movies/30shin.html?ex=1128744000&en=fd2592b413260d3d&ei=5070&emc=eta1&pagewanted=all about why this was created. And Teresa Nielsen Hayden has links to “two other trailers”:http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006895.html#006895 as well.

i am internet hip now

I contributed to a “boingboing”:http://boingboing.net post! I feel validated by the internet. “Check it out”:http://www.boingboing.net/2005/09/28/harvey_dangers_new_a.html!

Remember that band Harvey Danger? They’ve released their new album in MP3 format, for free, on the internet, using BitTorrent, working on the principle that this is actually a good way to promote your album, especially if you’re a little indie band. I’ve only listened to one song so far, but it was pretty cool. We’ll see how the rest of the album turns out.

i can relate

Today’s Player vs. Player is me in a nutshell. I’ve been starting to feel like a TV critic because I’m keeping track of so damn many shows. Currently these are on my must-see list:

Nip/Tuck, Lost, Alias, The OC, Prison Break, Arrested Development, Kitchen Confidential, My Name is Earl, Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1, Rescue Me

(luckily, BSG and SG-1 are on winter hiatus and Rescue Me recently had a season finale.)

Also recording:

The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, Bones, Invasion, Threshold, The Office, Supernatural, Reunion

tell me what you don’t like about yourself


In preparation for Nip/Tuck Season Three (and, well, Two, since – other than the season premiere – I hadn’t watched that yet, either) I decided to rewatch Season One this week. Boy was I glad I did – it was just as good the second time around (not counting when I watched the first couple of episodes last Christmas when it was given to me), and I forsee rewatching it again in the future. It was great, and I loved it, but I definitely noticed little plot holes here and there, which is not uncommon, I’ve noticed, in the first seasons of many shows, no matter how good they may be. The first seasons of Buffy and Angel had the same problem, and if Farscape didn’t have plotholes that first season, it definitely had a few episodes that annoyed me.

But every time there was a little inconsistency in Nip/Tuck, it only took a short amount of time before I was won over again by the sheer incredible force of the writing. My favorite episode from the first season involves the doctors being re-certified. Specifically, they have to perform procedures on severed heads taken from cadavers. As is the twisted nature of the show, Sean’s severed head starts talking to him. That same episode also has one of the most moving scenes in the whole show so far, as Sean spends the last few moments with his mistress, who is dying of cancer. It’s a testament to the power of the show that she quotes The Wizard of Oz in that scene – “Goodbye, Scarecrow! I’ll miss you most of all!” – and makes a movie reference into something that speaks volumes of emotion.

It had been my understanding that Nip/Tuck Season Two started at the level of quality and intensity of Season One and only ratcheted it all up even further from there on out, and so far it has not at all disappointed in that respect. If season one is a five out of five, there have been moments when I’ve thought season two was a six out of five. I keep yelling at the screen after every new revelation and twist. Famke Janssen’s guest starring role is the best acting she’s ever down, hands down. She steals every scene she’s in.

I actually got so into it tonight that I plowed through a good chunk of episodes – I’ve only got four more left to go, so I might actually be ready in time for the premiere on tuesday night!

You know, it’s funny how strongly I feel about the shows I’ve been watching. Sure, I could get out more and get some exercise, but I’ve always been that way, and considering the calibre of what I watch, I feel as though every time I sit and watch two or three episodes, I’ve just had a master class in writing. And I’m not just talking about Nip/Tuck, or Farscape, or Six Feet Under. I’m talking about Buffy and, yes, perhaps even The OC. I’m appreciating good art, and watching these last few episodes tonight has made me feel invigorated – they have been just the reward and release that I needed after what was, honestly, a pretty damn crappy week.

In Buffy-specific news, I look forward to buying The Chosen Collection very soon, especially since Seasons 5-7 have all sold, and I came away with $80 total.

It also helps that I bought my GRE book off amazon.com tonight. Now all I have to do in that respect is study and pick a time to take the test. I need to pick well, though, since the damn thing costs $115, and the most refund you can get back is $60 if you cancel.

On the graduate school subject, there are a few fronts that need serious consideration:

1. The GRE, of course. Under the same heading, I suppose, could be my official transcript. I vaguely remember how I did during my junior and senior years of college, which is both good and bad. I think it all averages out to over a 3.0, but I can’t say for sure, especially since I know that I got some of my worst grades in those years (bad for me, at least).

2. Recommendation letters. I feel like I have two sure bets, but that pesky third spot is eluding me, especially because I don’t feel comfortable asking my former playwriting professor for a recommendation. We ended that independent study on such bad terms, and I haven’t spoken to him since, mostly out of shame.

3. My portfolio. What I do have needs to be rewritten, but writing new stuff is probably a good idea as well. First, I’ll have to pin down the focus I want to choose within writing. The program i’m interested in allows you to pick a primary and a secondary focus, but your writing sample has to be catered towards your primary focus. As of right now, the only primary focus I could pick is playwriting, simply because it’s the only area of the four possible (playwriting, screenwriting, fiction, poetry) that I even have worthwhile samples.

Finally, I appear to have forgotten how to type… I keep making ridiculous typos, leaving out words and replacing them with other words. Alternatively, it’s possible that the connection between my brain and my fingers is currently shakier than normal since it’s so late at night. With that, I think it’s time for bed.

sharks patrol these waters

So I’ve been playing with the new “Stylecatcher plugin”:http://www.sixapart.com/pronet/docs/powertools that comes with MT 3.2 – the original 1.0 version didn’t work, but they’ve since released a bugfix version and it works just fine, although all of the themes seem to need a few CSS tweaks so that the content centers. Not exactly stellar, in my opinion, although this current theme is pretty nice, now that I’ve got it working. I’d still like to work on making my own theme, but for now, laziness is kicking in and this one works fine.

In other news, my Season 6 set sold as well, so now all I need to do is find someone willing to pay for Season 5. I’m still holding out hope that I can convince someone to pay a decent amount of money for it (say, more than $30), but if it takes too long to sell, I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and do whatever I can to get it off my hands. The longer it takes to sell, the more likely it is that I’ll get less and less money for it…

Also: what did you OC-watchers think of the Season Three premiere? I liked it, but was mildly disappointed at the same time – I really hope that all of the characters don’t spend too much of the season walking around looking sad. And… was it just me, or did it feel like not much actually happened in the episode? Maybe it’s just because I’m used to watching four episodes in a sitting, but it seemed like it was over before I knew it.

No Going Back Now!

!{float:left; margin: 0 .5em .5em 0; padding: 0;}/images/thebuff.jpg!

In preparation for the coming of “The Chosen Collection”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4018 (sorry, couldn’t resist), I’ve decided to go ahead and sell my currently owned box sets of Buffy seasons 5 thru 7. I listed them all around 8 o’clock tonight… and Season 7 is already sold. (It makes me feel better that I made back almost what it cost me, although somehow I still feel guilty for selling the sets… it feels like _treason_!)

The best offer Half Price Books could have given me was *$9* per season, which is just absolutely offensive. At least on Amazon, I can set my own price and keep most of the money.

The way I’ve got it figured, if I can get back at least $20 a pop for 5, 6, and 7 each, they’ve paid for their part of the complete box set. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a little more than $20 a pop and they’ll pay for a bit of the rest of the set – the ideal situation is me coming away between $25 and $30 for each set.

2005 has definitely been the year of my TV obsession. First I got inexorably caught up in watching the entire runs of two great sci-fi TV shows, pretty much back-to-back (Farscape, then Buffy), and then the whole thing snowballed, and I found myself juggling any number of shows at the same time. At the moment it feels like I’m following as many shows on DVD as there are currently on-air, but it’s more likely that the on-air shows are starting to tip the balance – especially when I watch enough DVD to catch up to the currently airing episodes, like I’ve done with The O.C.

Most of my dvd purchases as of late have been TV box sets, as well… the three Buffy sets, then The Office, Firefly, The OC, Nip/Tuck Season Two, Lost… (I got an awesome deal on Lost, which is on sale at Target.) Man… I can already see what my new year’s resolution for 2006 should be – watch/buy less TV!

I Don’t Sleep, I Dream

I seem to be stuck in a repeating cycle of being exhausted during the day at work, so I take a nap when I get home, and then I can’t get to sleep when I need to, and then accordingly I’m just as tired the next day when I get to work. As good as my intentions may be, I still end up thinking “I’ll just lie down and rest for a little while” every night when I get home from work. Inevitably I wake up three or so hours later feeling better but a little ashamed at the same time. This really has got to stop, mostly because I feel awful all day at work lately what with the whole no sleep thing.

In other news, I’ve been working my way through the second season of The OC in preparation for the third season, which starts up next week. The second season is definitely good, although I definitely feel that there’s a slight dip in quality… The show’s producers were brave enough to change the main premise the second season, which is good, because the whole “new kid in town” thing only works for so long.

It’s mildly disappointing, though, because without that particular story arc, the second season so far has focused largely on the “are they on, or are they off” nature of the various relationships in the show. I don’t mind that so much as long as there are other story arcs going on as well… but so far there hasn’t been too much else. It looks like that sort of thing is going to start picking up in the second half of the season, which is good (everything I’ve heard is that folks generally thought the first half of the season was a little slow, but that it picked up a good amount in the latter half.)

I also read a kind of “amusingly hateful review of The OC”:http://www.thedigitalbits.com/reviews3/spinsheet083105.html. I say amusing because even though the writer heaps incredible amounts of bile and ridicule on the show, he still gives it a B-, which is a comparatively good rating considering he claims that he had to drink bottles of cough syrup to stand watching the show.

the dvd gods are mocking me

so… for slightly more than i’ve already spent on the show, (or, alternatively, about $20 more than it would cost me to buy the first four seasons _used_) you can now “pre-order”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000AQ68RI/ “The Complete Buffy The Vampire Slayer (The Chosen Collection)”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/newsitem.cfm?NewsID=4025.

why me, huh? why?

New is Good

I’ve found some excellent new music lately… in particular, i’ve been getting into My Morning Jacket.

Other recent additions include Death Cab For Cutie, Eagles of Death Metal, Kanye West, Kinski, Laura Veirs, Roxy Music, Sufjan Stevens (maaaan… _so_ good!), The Velvet Underground, and The Zombies.

I also just updated “Movable Type”:http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/ to 3.2. It’s got some sexy new features, including this new default template that I’ve temporarily installed. My site needs a redesign (the “Iota Chapter”:http://www.iotachapter.org site needs it more…) and this is a stopgap for now.

After I got into the swing of “my new mouse”:http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/, I’ve started using “Dashboard”:http://www.apple.com/macosx/dashboard/ after all. It’s still a little persnickity, but seems to at least work better than it did before, and it’s cool to squeeze my mouse and have the Dashboard pop up.

Another nifty tool I’ve installed is “Growl”:http://growl.info, which is a system-wide notifications plugin. I mainly like it because it announces what song i’m listening to along with track art and other fun stuff.

Finally, in a bit of random coolness, as far as I can tell, Mr. Reed himself of “Reed’s Ginger Brew”:http://www.reedsgingerbrew.com found that “entry I made a few months back”:http://old.unsquare.com/dance/archives/2005/06/reeds_extra_gin.html when I tried their soda… and he left a comment thanking me for my mention. I feel so special!

just when you need “takebacks”…

man, right before i left work i sent out an email that i’m kind of worried is going to bite me in the ass. not because i said or did anything wrong, but because the customer in question was already pretty unhappy and isn’t going to like my response.

i’m especially annoyed because five minutes later i thought of a better response, but the email had already been sent out into the ether. damn. guess i’ll get to deal with the fallout tomorrow. hopefully something can be worked out.

I’m singin bout the wreck of the Old 97

so i think it’s official that i watch every TV show generally considered “only watched by teenage girls”, including the aformentioned Buffy and a good bit of The OC this week (only three more eps of season one to go!) hell, even someone i know who loves Buffy to death was just like “The OC? You’re watching _The OC_? I thought only teenage girls watched that!”

don’t worry, Doug, et al… i defended your honor. i am, after all, the last one of pretty much everyone i know from back home to get into the show. even though i originally rated it 4 out of 5 on netflix, as the season went on i was forced to give it the full 5 stars. it’s _just that good_.

the second season comes out on dvd next week… i kind of want to buy it, but if i’m going to do that, i’ll have to wait until i’m all paid up on bills and have room to breathe again. on top of that, nip/tuck season two comes out a week later. quandary!

in other news, one of my friends at work used her employee discount to buy me a “mighty mouse”:http://www.apple.com/mightymouse/ and a new keyboard (after Jackson spilled glasses cleaner on my old one *twice*, it didn’t quite work so well anymore…) the mouse takes a little bit of getting used to, but i like it so far, and the keyboard is a definite improvement, now that i can use the right arrow and all.

i probably should have/could have waited on this purchase, however, because it turns out that the utilities deposit that i was expecting to pay sometime next month is actually due this month. moving into my new place has been so ridiculously expensive – i’ll have spent at least $1000 above and beyond rent just to pay off deposits and get myself moved and set up here. after this next month, though, things should settle down and i’ll have cashflow again.

it also helps that i’ve got some freelance web design work i’ll be doing. one job for a friend at work, one for an actual company trying to start a website. the one for my friend at work should be quick and simple. the one for the business will take much more work because they’re asking for something kind of complicated. either way, though, the money i’ll get will help.

i’m _planning_ to cancel netflix after this month, since i spent so much on cable and all… we’ll see how that goes. if i could either convince myself to only rent from netflix or cancel it and rent from vulcan video on wednesday nights (rent one get free every week), i’d have a solution. occasionally doing both, however, is ridiculous.

in other news… i’m not sure who actually reads this site anymore (i know my parents do, and i’m reasonably sure doug still does), but i apparently also get the occasional visitor who stumbles upon the site. i’ve actually removed some of my recent entries because i was starting to get contacted by people who knew the person in question (i’m making a point to not write her name, but i’m referring to the friend of mine that died last month.)

not that i was getting negative responses, mind you, but i didn’t really like having those particular personal reflections coming up so readily in google. i’m generally good about not writing anything particularly personal in here, but every once in a while i need to vent or talk about what is going on, and last month was definitely one of those times.

i’m sort of toying with starting over fresh with a new journal, but we’ll see how that goes. for the moment, though, i’m going to putter around for a while and then go to bed.

could he treat you better?

so, as usual, i’ve been neglecting this website lately. i justify that because i only spent $9 for a year of hosting. who cares what i do with it, really? that’s practically free, if you get down to it. of course, that doesn’t necessarily convince me, either…

see, this webspace has all of this _potential_ that i’m not tapping into… fun stuff like ruby on rails and another two gigs of untapped storage. luckily daniel has movies stored on his site, or hardly any space would be taken up.

but, let’s be honest here – we all know what i’m _really_ talking about (take that, transitions!) i’m good at neglecting potential lately, according to my conscience and everyone i talk to when i complain about being bored with my life/job/whatever. beau gets an annoyed look whenever i complain about these things. we’ve been over this, he’s said his piece, and everyone else i talk to says the same thing.

so, really, what is it? i have some vague ideas knocking around in my head, but no compelling desire to write them down at the moment, even with the whining.

last night tony was talking about the creative writing program at UT, which is _very_ competitive and small, but sounded really nice. tony has a chance to get into a program like that – he’s about to take the GRE, and he has an ever-growing portfolio of work.

his enthusiasm for the idea was infectious, which was nice. it was good to remember what that kind of enthusiasm feels like… but then i turned over in my head what it would take to get me into such a program. all i can think about is the fact that my portfolio is anemic at best, and definitely dying on the vine (what with no new work since the mid 2004’s).

i am apparently the kind of writer douglas adams was. he was apparently legendary for his ability to make an endless number of sandwiches and take an equally infinite number of baths to avoid writing anything. one anecdote i seem to remember reading about him is that his agent once locked him in a hotel room with nothing but a typewriter just to get him to finish a book.

So, with no impetus, nothing happens.

The other problem that comes along with this is talking to people at parties about what I’m doing with my life: “Er, yeah, no… i work at Apple Computer. No, no… I haven’t written anything since I graduated. How about you? …Oh, working in a theatre, huh? That’s great, good for you…”


Q: So… you work at Apple now, but… what do you want to end up doing, then?

A: Uh, well… something creative. Writing, I guess, or maybe film, or photography. And… I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.



Yeah, so… when I got cable in my new place, I bit the bullet and decided to go without digital cable or a dvr in an effort to save money. I thought to myself “I’ll buy some more blank tapes and program the VCR. I’ll be fine with standard cable.”

This all came to a screeching halt when I realized that… no matter what I do, my VCR blithely ignores whatever program I enter into it. The screens say things like “10pm Saturday Channel 68” and “Program Saved” and then I wake up in the morning and my tape is still blank even though the program was very clear.

I try setting programs for a minute from now… nothing. I try leaving it on when the program should start, then I try another program with it turned off… nothing.

I’m starting to twitch here. I don’t think I’m going to be able to hold out on that DVR after all…

authority, right, and approval

so, part of my job is asking people’s managers whether or not they should be allowed to purchase with school funds.

_most_ managers just say “yes” or “no”.

today, one of the managers i contacted began asking things like “does this mean that he will have the authority to purchase or the right to purchase?”

so i told him, (to paraphrase) that “he’ll be able to buy things. yes or no?”

he responded “but how can you know if he is authorized if he doesn’t have the authority?”

…and my brain exploded.

White Noise

yesterday was as weird as i might have imagined, although not nearly as traumatic. i went and said hi to a handful of people, but mostly kept to myself off in a corner. it was kind of impossible to make small talk with anyone – nobody felt like nattering on about stupid little things. a lot of the people there were, as predicted, very upset. i ducked out before the reception, even though there were several people i had not said hi to… it just seemed like it would be another hour or so of uncomfortable attempts at conversation.

in other news, i finished reading “the mustache”, which is a book a bought a year or so before going to London. i started reading it on the plane, got about fifty pages in, put it down, and never looked back. it’s sort of felt like an albatross around my neck ever since – up to that point, i had never stopped reading a perfectly interesting book, and the only book i had put down because i *didn’t* like it was a tom clancy book. (now i’ve added to _that_ list with the illuminati trilogy…)

it was, fortunately, a book worth reading. i’m glad, though, that i can take it off my “unread books” shelf. next in line is White Noise, which i read two-thirds of and put down, also on the plane to London. after that is Great Expectations, which i had been listening to on audiobook for a while. i made it through the first “book” of that one, then put it down. This was about a year ago, i think.

make sure that you are sure of everything i do


last night i went to the first concert i’ve been to in a long while. i can’t remember for sure when i last went out to a show – it was probably badly drawn boy, though, and that was last october. i went and saw “mission of burma”:http://www.missionofburma.com, and i have to say that i’m damn glad that i happened to be listening to “KEXP”:http://kexp.org when, randomly enough, the DJ mentioned that they would be playing here in Austin. (This is random because KEXP is based out of Seattle.)

the show was quite a barn-burner… ear-blistering, paint peeling, wall-to-wall rock and roll… it was incredible how ferocious they were, and they played two full sets. this is a practice that more band should take up… the best shows i’ve been to have been two-setters. it was particularly cool that they were so rocking because, honestly, the guitarist looks like he should be planning a fishing trip somewhere, and they’re all in their mid-to-late forties, if not early fifties.

i also broke down and used the ATM outside the club to get some cash so that i could buy a poster. the damn ATM charged a $3.75 fee. highway robbery! …the poster, however, was worth it… not only was it made specially for the show, it’s signed and numbered – and it was only $10. it seemed like a better idea to spring for a poster than a shirt, because the shirts were the same ones i could get from their website, but the posters looked very one-time-only.

after the show, as i was walking down sixth street on the way back to my car, i was amazed yet again at how crazy downtown austin gets. i don’t usually hang out on sixth street when i go out, and it was easy to remember why.

especially surprising were the two girls i saw walking around topless. when i saw the first i thought she was just some drunk girl without inhibitions, but when i saw the second one, i knew it was some kind of trend. a bar must have been having a contest or something, who knows.

still, though, i only imagine such things happening in new orleans, or california, or wherever those crazy party towns are. whenever i go to the ginger man or places like mugshots and texas showdown, things always seem so sedate. ‘course, none of those bars are on sixth street, so that may be part of the reason why.

when i woke up this morning my ears were definitely still ringing, and i felt generally awful. i puttered around for a few hours, watched the “battlestar galactica”:http://scifi.com/battlestar/ season premiere (it was awesome), as well as the Stargate SG-1 premiere, which, honestly, i was only watching because Ben Browder is the new lead and i really miss Farscape, but which was also pretty entertaining, even though i definitely felt a good bit lost. (Claudia Black is a guest star, as well. It’s a pretty blatant grab at the attentions of Farscape fans… and it clearly worked on me. sigh.)

after a several-hour nap and some further puttering, i decided to finally sit down and start reading the new harry potter book, which i’m sure everyone else has finished by now. i’m a little over halfway in at this point, and only took a break to get some food and write a bit.

…and, well, actually, i might be tired now, so it looks like i may go to bed here in a bit.

great-o party

so… for some reason or other, i finally seem to be coming out of my hermit shell. i actually drove all the way to georgetown tonight to go to a party at my friend katie’s house, even though it was likely that i wouldn’t know many people there. and, to top it off, i had a good time. it wasn’t weird or awkward at all.

equaly weird was the fact that i talk to several cute girls for a while, but didn’t let myself get all caught up in worrying about it. i was just there to have some conversations…

it was the sort of thing that was shooting for last weekend but didn’t quite manage.

my new goal, is to find ways to make my life less boring. this will most likely involve leaving the house more often, for starters.

it also helps that i’ve kind of overloaded myself with tv-on-dvd. the habit isn’t going away, but i’m definitely starting to understand that it can no longer be my *only* hobby.

now, to bed.

the ant days of summer

as if i didn’t already hate my place enough because of the worthless window-unit air conditioners…

tonight i sat down to vegetate in front of the tv, when i realized that an ant was biting my foot. and… where there is one ant, there are many, as i soon found out, because there was a huge column of ants marching its way from my front door to the dark nether-regions of the space between my counter and my washing-machine.


the maintanence man had some raid ant spray, which he sprayed all down the line, and then he put some more stuff outside at the doorway.

just further cementing the fact that i _can not wait_ until July 30th, so that i can be in my new place (air-conditioned, no less!)

losing my edge

Well, it’s official. I find _myself_ boring now. I have two subjects on which I can speak, at length, and they are:

1. my job, and how it is boring me to death

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and other tv-show-on-dvd-related pursuits

(but, really, i mostly talk about Buffy.)

I seem to remember that I used to be able to carry on interesting conversations with people. Or something. I don’t know what it was, really… maybe it was all of the different classes i was taking, and the play(s) i was writing, and basically all the very different things that happened in my day-to-day life.

…yeah, that sounds like the thing.

sometime yesterday afternoon I knew that I was too… frustrated and aware of it… to come away from the party last night without being a little sadder and hung up on some girl younger than my younger brother. this, despite my fondest hope that i would just drink and hang out with my friends, nothing more.

and, of course, it happened… that girl i got a little crush on last time i went to a party was there, of course, and i re-crushed on her instantly. damn. since the whole thing has entered into that “crush” territory, it’s already broken, and I need to figure out how get over it, and quick. the last time i did this with regards to her, it made me twitch every wednesday night because i seriously considered driving down to georgetown to hang out in case i might see her or something.

i was finally able to kill it when someone told me that she was interested in another sig, and that they would most likely start dating. in such a situation, crushing is inadvisable. however, that situation has now passed.

to make matters even stupider, i’ve got her phone number. i have this because she lost her cell phone and i called it for her so that it would ring and she would find it. this is far too tempting, even though the sensible part of me knows that i could never use a phone number gained in such a way because of the sheer creepy-weird factor. (“oh, right.. you got my number _that_ way…”)

urgh. must get my mind off this crap.


1. seasons one through seven of buffy the vampire slayer, watched and enjoyed. i laughed, i cried, i miss it already. *check.*

1a. three more seasons of angel to watch… (hoo boy!)

2. possible new place to live (turning in application tomorrow). *check.*

2a. central air. *check.*

3. one job, boring me to tears. *check.*

3a. any idea of how to pay my bills with anything other than this job… (no check).

4. strong desire to get roaring drunk this weekend and have a really good time at the sig house on saturday night. *check.*

5. ability to finish the book i’m reading… (no check)

6. ability to sit down and be creative… (out to lunch)

7. time for bed. *check.*

reed’s extra ginger brew

On Saturday night, I met up with my mother and her friend Val (who has been a family friend for years). Val cooked a huge meal for the three of us, including chicken tenders almost breaded with onion, rice pilaf, some ratatouille (eggplant, mushrooms, tomatoes, and a whole lot of delicious) and a salad. It was probably the best meal I’ve had in months, other than the burritos at “Guero’s”:http://www.guerostacobar.com/.

Val had some “Reed’s Ginger Brew”:http://www.reedsgingerbrew.com/home.asp, and seeing as how I had never tried ginger beer before, I had one, and liked it a lot. Accordingly, I went to Central Market yesterday and bought a four-pack, the last of which I am now finishing. (I got the “extra” ginger brew, which seems to mean that drinking this makes my mouth burn a little bit in a very odd fashion. Still good, though.)

I finally began seriously looking for apartments this weekend. I only looked at one place on Saturday, but because I contacted an apartment locator, she did some searching for me and there are two or three places that she is going to show me tomorrow after work. I liked the place I looked at a whole lot – gas stove, dishwasher, garbage disposal, *central air* (which I appreciate much more now). The places she’s going to show me are all closer to work, but if none of them cut it, I feel pretty good about the possibility of going with the place I saw saturday. Already I feel like I’ve done a better job searching for an apartment this time around, just because of the apartment locator. She seems to know her stuff.

(I have noticed that I can’t seem to type as well lately… it’s like every keypress happens in slow motion and the keys aren’t where they’re supposed to be. I think it’s because I write so many emails at work. I probably need wrist supports or something.)

I’ve watched all sorts of good stuff lately, too. Tonight I watched “The Machinist”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0361862/, which is that movie Christian Bale lost 60 pounds for. Every once in a while he’d walk around shirtless and turn sideways and I’d shudder a little. The movie itself was a sort of Lynch/Hithcock psychological thriller. I was seriously creeped out/on edge for the bulk of the movie, which is, i suppose, a vote of confidence.

Other than that, I finally watched the second part of “Angels in America”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0318997/, which I have had rented from Netflix since late May. I just kept thinking that I wasn’t in the mood to watch it, but of course once I finally sat down and gave it a chance it was wonderful and engrossing. (Random: Apparently having sex with an angel makes your genitals burst into flame…)

I also finished the second season of Angel last week (so far I like the show a lot) and am now halfway through the seventh of Buffy (I have been putting off watching it because I don’t want it to end, honestly.)

Finally, all of you must go out now and get a copy of “Teenage Fanclub’s”:http://www.teenagefanclub.com/ new album “Man-Made”. It’s absolutely fucking incredible. I’ve listened to it two or three times a day since I got it last week.

Alright, bedtime.

from ace-host to dreamhost

so, unbeknownst to me, monday (6/20) was the one-year renewal of my account with “ace-host”:http://ace-host.net. i only found out about this because a charge for $167.40 suddenly showed up on my back statement without warning. luckily, i caught it the day it happened, so i was able to move quickly enough and fix the situation.

first off, i immediately started looking around for other hosting. i was not going to pay that much money for what i considered pretty atrocious hosting. accordingly, i was looking at “dreamhost”:http://www.dreamhost.com again, because it had received a lot of positive reviews around the net. i returned to “squarefree”:http://squarefree.com to read up a little bit more on his opinion of the site (his was one of the first sites i came across that recommended dreamhost.

…and, lo and behold, what do i see, but a promotional code that makes it so that i can get one year of hosting from them at 77 cents a month. needless to say, i immediately paid for hosting, even though i hadn’t yet canceled ace-host or gotten my money back. (dreamhost has a 90 days money back guarantee, so if i couldn’t get my money from ace-host back, i could have always just canceled dreamhost.)

after i put in my termination request to ace-host, i called wells fargo and asked them to stop payment on the charge, simply because i didn’t really trust ace-host, and i wanted to do what i could to avoid paying that ridiculous amount.

this morning, i woke up and there was a one-line response back from ace-host: “account terminated. full amount refunded.”

needless, to say, i was relieved.

so, accordingly, i’ve spent bits of the day here and there getting my site set back up. it’s still not all back to normal yet. theoretically i should have everybody back up tonight or tomorrow…

other than that, i’ve had heartburn all day (and a little yesterday and the day before). it fucking sucks. i’m starting to get worried that i’m somehow gotten acid-reflux. hopefully it’s just cause i’ve been sleeping so badly for about a week, and my body is telling me to quit it.

some weird sin

i am wide awake at 3:00 in the morning. this is not a good sign for my impending day of work tomorrow. i occasionally toy with the thought of calling in just because i don’t want to go, but i’d rather save my days out for when i’m actually sick and really need them (rather than just tired from lack of sleep), and besides, i’d like to keep this job, as much as that scares me at the same time.

on tuesday there was a going away party/baby shower for a woman who is so pregnant she looks like she might just about pop. besides her, there are something like three other pregnant women in the department, and one guy who has a pregnant wife. everyone in the room at this little party was well into their thirties, and the only subject of conversation was babies, and what babies do, and all of the little things you need to know when you’re about to have a baby.

it had never occurred to me before that such a thing could give me the willies, but all of a sudden it did. appropriately enough, later that night i watched an episode of sex and the city about a former wild-woman that the girls knew from years back who was now settled down and about to have a baby herself. somewhere along the line, this woman had transformed from a sex-maniac that liked to take her clothes off at parties to a housewife in connecticut.

(and then there’s the third season of six feet under, which finds nate settled down and married to a woman he may not really love because she’s had his child.)

i don’t know why the thought of women having babies should disturb me. i’ve never been in a relationship serious enough to imagine that in some distant future i might think about possibly marrying the girl, so why should babies be all that weird?

in fact, it kinda weirds me out that it surprised one of my co-workers that i had never been in a relationship “serious” enough to consider marriage. she also didn’t understand how i could call my last relationship serious without having considered marriage at any point. my mind splutters impotently at the thought.

the reason i’m still awake at this hour is that we went and saw batman begins at the latest showing possible, which is what i get for wanting to see the movie with all my friends who stay up until 8 in the morning instead of starting work then.

it was, not surprisingly, as good as i hoped. i really liked it a lot, actually, and i hope it does as well as i’m sure it will, so that the batman series can be seriously rebooted and done well.

as we were walking out of the theatre, i was talking to my friend mcphail about when we could possibly hang out, since he comes up to austin tuesdays and thursdays for his internship. i found myself saying “well, not this week or next, because i’ve got *mandatory overtime* because of *quarter-end*.”

at this point i had a bit of an out-of-body experience. was i that guy? did i just say “quarter-end”? the fact that i uttered these words in the middle of a crowd of college students only made it that much worse.

luckily, i’m going out drinking friday afternoon. it’s with the people from work, though. i’m not sure how i feel about having a dwindling group of friends close to my own age…

one final note: nothing like watching a good movie to get your storytelling muscles itching to work again. at the moment, i don’t feel guilty or inadequate because i haven’t written anything in so long. i just feel it there, and i know that before long i’ll be writing again. i don’t know what i’ll write, or how my inspiration will ultimately come, but… for right now… i feel secure again in the knowledge that it isn’t broken, or gone, it’s just resting. resting and getting strong for another trip out into the world.

i mean, look at this… this is the longest entry i’ve written in two months. that, surely, is a good sign. wanting to write something, anything at all, sitting down here and tapping out my thoughts… it’s making me feel just a little bit more alive right now.

luckily, it’s also made me tired enough to lie down and go to sleep.


so i’ve sort of lost of the desire to post in this lately. i guess it’s mostly because i don’t really have anything interesting to report. i wake up, i go to work, i come home, i watch far too many episodes of far too many television shows, i go to sleep. lather, rinse, repeat.


i’ve never been happier about getting “arrested”

cheesy joke, i know, but i couldn’t resist:


FOX gets ARRESTED again. The network has ordered a third full season of the Emmy Award-winning comedy series ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, it was announced today by Peter Liguori, President, Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company.

“ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is one of the best comedies on television. The decision to order another season becomes easy when you consider its amazing cast, creative brilliance, critical acclaim and advertiser appeal,” said Liguori. “It’s my first official pick-up since taking the job, and I think it’s a great way to start.”

The critically acclaimed series revolves around Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the good son who must run the family business and continue to pick up the pieces as he keeps his offbeat family from falling apart. The comedy has featured guest appearances by numerous stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Liza Minnelli, Heather Graham and Ben Stiller. Last year, the show received five Emmy Awards for Outstanding Comedy Series, Writing, Directing, Casting and Editing. Additionally, Jason Bateman won a Golden Globe for Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy Series and the show was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for Outstanding Musical or Comedy Series. This past season, the cast was nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. The show was also named an AFI Program of the Year and received the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Comedy, among other accolades.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT is produced by Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television. Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, David Nevins and Mitch Hurwitz are executive producers.

From The Futon Critic.

luke = jesus, get it?

…right, anyways…

after i finished farscape, i was seriously considering cancelling netflix, simply because i couldn’t really justify using it as much anymore, and also because i want to cut back some on the time i spend in front of a tv. but i waited too late to cancel it this month, and perhaps some things are inevitable anyways, because i do want to watch more…

tonight, i watched all three and a half hours of “Oliver Stone’s 1995 film about Richard Nixon”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0113987/. it was really amazingly excellent, and if not for the pee break i had to take halfway through, i would have been mesmerized the whole time through. it was kind of amazing how Stone made the whole thing into something Shakespearian, and at the same time also made Nixon a strangely sympathetic character.

i also went home this weekend for my mom’s graduation from graduate school, and we all watched Sideways, which was as good the second time. the scene where Miles and Maya sit outside and talk about why the like wine is still, hands down, one of the best scenes in cinema from the last couple of years.

i still have this idea knocking around in my head that i should go through my movies, one by one, and write a review of each one based on a repeat viewing. i.e., the idea being to write about how the movie stands up on further reflection, and compare how i felt about it the first time to how i felt about it now. some of these would be more interesting than others, of course.

about a week or so ago, i found this nifty website called “backpack”:http://www.backpackit.com/, which is intended to help with organizing your thoughts and projects.

it would be useful… if i sat down and took the time to put things into it.


xbox 360?

Man, they sure have done a hell of a lot better job of designing the new xbox 360. I always thought those big black square thingies were the ugliest (not to mention hugest) systems on the market…


Read the article: “Leaked Xbox 360 specs and Xbox Live details? – Engadget”:http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000267042765/

closed chapters

this weekend i finished a book, finished farscape, and watched my friend eddy ride off into the proverbial sunset with his new bride.

(well, they didn’t ride… they mostly just walked up the hotel stairs to their marriage bed.)

the first was mildy disappointing (i guess even jonathan carroll can write a lame book), and the other two were bittersweet.

more than anything else, i wonder how long it will be before i see eddy again, and how much he may have changed.

i also wonder how long it will take for me to get all of my ducks in a line… will i ever make good on my dreams?



i just watched a really entertaining, refreshingly dark movie called “Rick”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0363029/. i saw it on the shelf at “i luv video”:http://www.iluvvideo.com and picked it up cause it had an interesting cover, and i’m kind of a Bill Pullman fan, if it is possible to be such a thing (a lot of critics like to make fun of him for being bland; i think he’s a great character actor with a talent for the weird).

what made me rent it is that it was written by daniel handler, he of lemony snicket fame. it was kind of fascinating to know that the author of a series of children’s books had also written a very R-rated dark comedy. luckily, my impulse to rent it paid off. the movie was inspired by an old Italian tragedy, and did not shy away from the death and darkness common to that sort of thing.

The best part was when a character named Buck handed Rick his business card, saying “I started my own company,” and the business card had printed on it:


_My Own Company_

I was pretty well sold after that.

oh, sweet!

this is what my parents got me for my birthday:

two (really awesome) books:

“On Directing Film”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0140127224/ by David Mamet
“Three Uses of the Knife”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/037570423X/ by David Mamet

the following DVDs:

“Some Like It Hot”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00003CXCR/
“Groundhog Day”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005U8EM/
“School of Rock”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00018U9G6/

life after darth

There’s a pretty interesting interview/article about George Lucas in the newest Wired: Life After Darth

I’m kind of looking forward to what he might come up with next, even though he did ruin Star Wars. Here’s a quote from the article:

Now Lucas says he is determined to leverage that security to make the kinds of movies that no one expects from him. He claims to have a stack of ideas piling up on his desk for “highly abstract, esoteric” films even more daring than his 1971 debut, THX 1138. An expansion of one of Lucas’ student projects at the University of Southern California, THX anticipated the cyberpunk aesthetic of William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, depicting a pharmaceutically numbed society of the future under constant video surveillance. After Lucas spent a year digitally restoring the film for its theatrical rerelease and DVD debut in 2004, a longtime employee observed: “I’ve never seen George so excited by any other project at the company.” Lucas says the restored THX was just a preview of even edgier films to come that he will finance and direct himself.

two things.

1. fuck you, netflix – i just watched the huuuuuugest cliffhanger in the middle of farscape season four, and i was about to pop in the next disc to resolve my extremely agitated imagination, when what do i behold but the biggest goddamn crack straight through the entire DVD! aaaaaaaaargh!

must. have. more. farscape! gnaaaargrgghhgrhghg!

2. oh sweet mother of god, this looks gorgeous: “Serenity – Full Trailer”:http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/serenity/ – if you know what’s good for you, you read that and got pretty damn excited…

23, what a boring number

well, as of today, i am twenty-three years old. although i haven’t really done much for my birthdays in years, this was the first year i didn’t even much bother to mention to… really… anybody that i did in fact have a birthday coming up. at twenty-one, of course, every damn person in your circle of friends knows that it’s your birthday. that’s just how it is. after that, i suppose, unless you’re dating someone or living with your parents, you have to make a point of letting everyone know that It’s Your Birthday and You Intend to Celebrate.

i am, of course, not the sort of person who would buy a keg and have people over on my birthday, but i know people who are that sort. i was sort of shooting for maybe going out last night, but as it happens many nights, i got tired much earlier than i wanted to and when my mind came around to the thought of getting in the car and going _out_ somewhere, well… sleep sounded more attractive.

i think the only thing i really want to do today is go to the movies. i used to do that so often, and i miss being in a theatre.


i think i fell asleep at 8 o’clock last night. i woke up twice, once at 11:30 when i thought “Hmm, i should get up” right before i rolled over and fell back asleep, and then a second time, at 1am, when i realized that the cat was still outside and that i had been sleeping with the light on. i rescued the cat, turned off the light, and conked out for the night.

and yet i still feel like i could sleep some more. or maybe i’m just groggy. anyways, it’s ridiculous. i mean… maybe i was behind on some sleep, but still!

…in a side note, early this morning i was having a weird dream and i’m reasonably certain that i could hear myself snoring from within the dream. as in, i was snoring distinctly enough that my unconscious mind could hear it. damn, that’s some loud snoring.

er, right…

so for some reason, somebody out there thought that my “entry on scientology”:http://old.unsquare.com/dance/archives/2005/01/stupid_scientologists.html was authoritative enough to link to from two separate “wikipedia”:http://en.wikipedia.org entries. i know this because i looked in my webstats and i received traffic from those pages. this just seems kind of silly to me, because my entry wasn’t particularly useful, and there are a whole lot of sources out there that are “better”:http://lermanet.com/beck and “more informative”:http://home.snafu.de/tilman/faq-you/celeb.txt. accordingly, i went in and edited those pages that linked to me. on “one of them”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Ribisi, i fleshed the entry out a bit and added better links. “on the other”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Scientologists, i just removed the link to my journal.

apparently anybody can seem like a good source if they’ve been on the internet long enough…

is this guy really that serious…

… about the “fat albert movie”:http://www.filmfreakcentral.net/dvdreviews/fatalbert.htm?

a choice quote:

bq. art is our amber, meaning that the entire movie functions as an auto-apologia–and a charming one at that, even if the film’s huge heart can only ever really be considered a trade-off.

double-you-tee-eff, that’s what i say about that.

oy, work

work has kind of been kicking my ass today. for a while there, enrollment had slowed down to a crawl, and i was able to finish everything i needed to do around 10:30 in the morning. after that, i’d get a trickle of new items over the course of the day, but nothing huge. hell, monday of this week was like that.

but then yesterday things picked up a good bit, and today i’ve received an avalanche of emails. there doesn’t seem to be any real explanation that i can think of for why my job will be absurdly slow for a whole week and then immediately pick up one day for no reason.

i was originally planning to work some more on my freelance job that i’m doing for dppf during lunch, but honestly i needed a real break instead of more brain-melting work.

…not that the dppf job is that hard, mind you, but i’ve gotten to the point in the work that it’s more technical stuff, and i just don’t have the brainpower right now.

anyways, lunch is over. back to the grind.

EDIT: man i got slammed at work today. it was ridiculous. this is the first day where i’ve left with that much stuff still waiting around for me first thing tomorrow… why couldn’t all of these people spread their requests out over the time when i didn’t have _enough_ to keep me busy, as opposed to _too much_?

an interesting turn of events

so, as most of you may know, my website went down on sunday because a hard drive failed at my web hosting company. about 24 hours later, my site was back up, except some of the subdomains weren’t working, and my SQL databases were being all screwy (these databases have several purposes – for example, one holds all of my journal entries).

for some reason i had a difficult time getting a response back as to why my site was back but not correctly configured. maybe i wasn’t communicating clearly enough, maybe they’re lazy shits and wouldn’t know customer service if it bit them in the ass. it’s a moot point.

after some back and forth, it was finally made clear that while my html and so forth could be retrieved from an up-to-date backup, all of my configuration files, including my sql databases and so on, could only be return to the state they were in NOVEMBER OF 2004.

as in… six months ago.

luckily, i had a recent backup of my mt entries because of the upgrade, so it didn’t take much work to return all of my entries to the database. then i went about making sure everybody else was set up correctly again, which is loads of fun when you’ve got four different instances of mt to bring back up to speed. i’ve still got some work to do on that, but at least a solution is in sight.

i’d really like to find new hosting, but i don’t really have the money to spare at the moment, and if i just make regular manual updates and save them on my side, i’ve at least got everybody covered should (god forbid) something this ridiculous happen again.

a bunch of entries that weren’t in my backup

you know… thank god I upgraded to MT 3.15 recently and made a backup of my entries before i did so, because otherwise, i’d have to re-enter five months of entries manually. as it was, i still had to plug all of april’s entries back in, as well as a few from march. fucking ridiculous. i suppose at some point i’ll redo these so they’re back to individual entries, but it’s late right now.


April 09, 2005

woody allen interview… where?

neil gaiman has helpfully pointed out the pretty nice little woody allen interview on suicide girls. of all the things… woody allen on a site full of underclothed goth girls.

April 07, 2005

one more time

well, i had an entry, but firefox slowed to a crawl because of too many tabs full of sites with useless flash animation, so i had to force-quit.

this was the important bit – listen to the french kicks – sorry, fixed the link.

Found another song on Epitonic: so many cakes

EDIT: Just so you guys know, because of the upgrade to MT 3.15, your comments will not immediately appear on the site. I get an email notifying me of the comment, and I approve or deny it accordingly. This helps prevents comment spam. Looks like it was a misconfiguration; I was getting the comments, but I’ve made it so that I don’t have to moderate every damn one now, and they will appear immediately.

Oh, and… personally, I like “Trial of the Century” better than “One Time Bells”. “Bells” just sounds a bit too much like Spoon, although it is still a good album; “Trial” shows the band actually moving forward and forging their own sound. And besides, i like the new wave-y style better, m’self.

April 05, 2005


now that all of the archived entries have names instead of numbers, this entry about napoleon dynamite leapt swiftly to the top of my webstats. and i don’t even have anything particularly interesting to say in the entry! such is life.

eye in the sky

Google knows where my house is!

screenshot of google maps

(click on “satellite view” in the upper right-hand corner and zoom in to get the full effect.)

i’d have to get a lot of spam to fill that up

well, apparently google has decided to gift everybody with more space for their gmail accounts. even though i’m only using 41 megs of space, i now have a full 2 gigs to fill.

maybe i should start storing full-length movies on there or something.

April 04, 2005

the proverbial eureka moment

so i was taking a shower tonight, letting images and thoughts percolate through my head, as they are wont to do in moments of quiet contemplation, and suddenly, very much out of nowhere, an image that had been floating in my head for some time now turned itself into an idea. i was so happy i laughed out loud, loud enough for vincent to hear me through the wall and think i had gone a little bit crazy.

anyways, i had this image in my head of a man wearing dark glasses and a trench coat, and suddenly that turned into the following, i.e. the comedic play idea that i have been searching for:

“four blind men meet in a park to plan their takeover of the world. however, every man has a secret, and there is a spy in their midst.”

April 03, 2005

am i an old man yet?

going back to campus for alumni weekend last night and the night before was definitely interesting. i guess i’m more used to being an alumni than i was before. i can still remember the first party that i came back for. it was like going back to my parents’ house after it had crossed over from being my home into something else altogether.

i also realized that part of the reason i haven’t been too bothered about girls is because i haven’t talked to or seen any in a long time. there’s only a handful of girls at work close to my age, and they’re not that interesting. other than work i don’t get out much, so i suppose it’s not surprising that it’s easy to be alright about not having any female contact.

but then last night i was actually able to talk to several girls, all but one of whom were freshman – they’re supposed to be too young for me, right? …and it reminded some part of me that it’s been a while now. this voice will increase in volume until i go fucking bonkers.

i, of course, tried to go into each situation knowing that i was just talking to somebody cool, not actually hitting on a girl. the only one that really seemed a shame was a girl who i am pretty sure is paul’s girlfriend. she was a nice anomaly… a talented but humble theatre major. they don’t make those often at southwestern.

some silly little part of me was like “you should hang out more at the sig house so you can meet girls…” but, no, no, i shouldn’t. i have no business lusting after girls younger than my younger brother. it’s one thing if they’ve gone through college; being four or five years older than someone at that point isn’t a big deal. for a while i always said that once you reach college, the separation of a few years isn’t as big a deal, but after having seen what freshman girls tend to behave like at southwestern, it is a big deal unless the girl you’re talking about is one in a million.


well, it’s been ages since i wrote an “emo” post or one about girls, and now i’ve done both in the same week. i am an eternal broken record.

March 31, 2005

alright, this is just too terrible not to mention

from yahoo news:

If you expressed your support to Terri Schiavo and her parents’ fight to keep her alive, you may begin to receive a steady stream of solicitations, according to a Local 6 News report.

Terri Schiavo’s parents have agreed to sell their list of supporters to a direct-mailing firm, Local 6 News reported.

The company, “Response Unlimited” pays about $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 6,000 e-mail addresses.

A spokesperson for the Schindlers confirmed that they had agreed to sell the information, but won’t say for how much.

do you ever get the feeling that there’s something hanging just out of view, whispering in your ear?

firstly, it’d be hard to explain why i got so choked up when i finished the last few episodes of farscape season three. it just sounds kind of silly. sure, it’s acceptable fact that if you watch, say “six feet under” or, well… “schindler’s list,” you’re going to get a little teary-eyed. it comes with the territory. but a show full of weird people in funny leather costumes spouting futuristic gibberish?

i can’t explain it (to my satisfaction), but let me say that it was an important feeling. important, you say? how so? well… maybe this realization that i’ve had was already there, just on the outside of my peripheral vision, but it didn’t become completely clear until i watched a special feature on the last disk giving a recap of the whole season.

what became clear is something that i talked about in my earlier entry: the quality of the writing. remember how i talked about the use of cliches and the way they broke them in astounding fashions? well, as i sat and watched the feature about the season, i heard them describing the exact bits that i had pulled out; the very plot devices that packed an emotional punch.

and then the season finale… where the end of season two was action-packed and absurd, this one was… all too human, and painful, and emotionally wrenching, and somewhere along the line those writers, those crazy writers, had made me care deeply about the fate of a bunch of puppets, cgi creatures, and people prancing around in leather. a lot. a heart-breaking amount. i’m still finding it hard to keep from tearing up, and it’s been a long time since i’ve felt that way.

but this is when i heard the little voice in my ear. the thing that has been patient, oh so patient, while i have been wittering my life away doing nothing, not living, not serving my purpose.

i was watching the special, and the producer/writer was talking about the last episode, an episode that he felt was so important that he did not want it to fail, but he just didn’t know how to get it right.

it was nagging at him, constantly, until one night, he woke up in bed, suddenly enough that he frightened his wife and dogs, and he knew how to write it. he knew what was important, and it was so important the he got up right then and started writing.

at four in the morning.

until i feel that feeling again… (and i have felt it. i have been in that moment where nothing else mattered but telling the story, just getting it out…)

until then, i’m not really living.

so, you might ask… why not write, right now.

write something!

i’m paralyzed.

i’m scared.

i have no ideas that i want to write.

i come home from work every night and i’m so tired, and i just want to disappear somwhere else for a few hours and get a good night’s sleep. i want to be gone.

and i have so many friends, so many good friends out there, who nag me, and tell me that i should write something new, and then i have so many friends who wish i would write something new, but who have given up on me long ago.

it’d be great if i could finish something, after all.

(but i have finished things! i’ve finished plays, good ones…)

but that was so long ago. i can’t feel it anymore. i can’t remember what that tastes like. those plays aren’t even mine anymore. now that they’ve escaped onto the page, they’re strangers ready for someone else’s touch.

the whisperer, i can hear her…

she says that i know what i have to do.

now i just have to remember how to do it.

…they say it’s like a bike.

another reason i want to be a writer full-time

it seems to fit my lifestyle:

…anyway, I was on a roll last night. So I just kept working. And somewhere around seven this morning I realised I’d actually finished it, so I sent it to Dave McKean and went to bed. Up around eleven this morning, with a message from Dave waiting letting me know that I’d given one section short shrift, and I looked it over, and he was right, I had, and it needed to be longer, so I simply made a cup of tea and turned it into a full chapter, and did a final tidy.

It went off to Dave, to HarperChildrens, and to Bloomsbury, about half an hour ago. And now I’m going to do all those things I’ve normally already done by five in the afternoon, like shower and make breakfast.

(from Neil Gaiman’s Journal)

farscape, i wub you

i just watched six episodes of farscape on a work night, and the only thing keeping me from watching the remaining three right now is the fact that i need to go to sleep so i can make it to work at all.

i’m sure it’s a bit silly at this point for me to continue raving about this particular show, but it keeps getting better and better… and the writing is pretty incredible this season. they’ve taken some cliches of science fiction and tv in general and managed to turn them on their heads and make them new again.

it is, for example, one of the first times in a long time that an unrequited love story has not only worked for me but been both satisfying and heartbreaking instead of annoying. unrequited love is one of the most over-used tropes in television; i’d personally argue that one of the reasons that seinfeld was so great was because it’s the only sitcom you can point to that was on network tv without ever having some of the main characters fall in love but have a hard time making it work. i challenge anyone to name one other sitcom that has done that.

alias was another good example of unrequited love working well, until the unfortunate latter end of the third season, at which point i just got tired of hearing about it. the fourth season has managed to salvage this to a pretty good degree by making that particular plotline no longer relevant, which is probably the only choice they had. it is, unfortunate, however, that it stumbled at all.

another thing that Farscape has pulled off very well involves a major plot point this season; without going into detail, let’s just say that one of the clichés of earlier episodes of Farscape and sci-fi shows in general is that they will have something terrible and ridiculous happen to the characters that gets resolved by the end of the episode, or in the one after that.

about a third of the way into this season, there was one such episode, where some weird shit happened to a main character, and we assumed that the situation – extreme as it was – would get resolved soon without harm to anyone involved. except they took what could have been a one-shot and made it into a major story arc, and a heartbreaking one, too…

thing is, i just know… i can feel it… if the finale at the end of season two was fucked up, this one is only going to be worse, and i am most certainly going to have a much harder time getting my hands on season four…

anyways, a parting thought: who needs a life, when you’ve got sci-fi on dvd?

March 29, 2005

Updated and Upgraded

Today I decided on a whim that I wanted to upgrade my version of Movable Type to the newest, brand-spankin’-est one available, so I downloaded the goods and did all the standard upgrading.

However, I also decided that I no longer wanted to use the numeric archive links, which are lame and, shall we say, unfriendly to google. This, of course, was another case where i needed to use htaccess and mod_rewrite, but I was not sure exactly how to decipher the highly technical documentation, so I dug around until I found a site that explained in clearer terms.

It was easy to set up the monthly archives to redirect; what was difficult was making it so that anyone trying to access an old numbered entry would get the correct named entry.

I ended up having to do some fun things with htaccess and a cgi script that I found on scriptygoddess’ site. Once I fixed the dumb mistakes I was making, it started working like a charm…

So instead of Google thinking my whole journal has disappeared, it will instead discover everything has merely been updated. Huzzah!

i stole this from miles

*How many total songs?*
songs: 2499
days: 6.5
GB: 12.87

*Sort by Song Title*
First: (Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For? – Nick Cave
Last: Z?rich Is Stained – Pavement

*Sort by Time*
Shortest: Ask For Janice – The Beastie Boys (:11)
Longest: The Rainbow, Eden, Desire – Talk Talk (23:13)

*Sort by Album*
First: (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? – Oasis
Last: You Are Free – Cat Power

*Sort by Artist*
First: The 5, 6, 7, 8’s
Last: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

*Top Ten Most Played Songs* (reset my play count a few weeks ago)
1. One More Time -French Kicks, 19 times
2. Big Brat – Phantom Planet, 11 times
3. The Trial Of The Century – French Kicks, 10 times
4. Oh Fine – French Kicks, 9 times
5. Dirty Boots – Sonic Youth, 9 times
6. Made for TV Movie – Clem Snide, 8 times
7. Don’t Thank Me – French Kicks, 8 times
8. The Sound of German Hip Hop – Clem Snide, 7 times
9. Jews for Jesus Blues – Clem Snide, 7 times
10. Fill Me With Your Light – Clem Snide, 6 times

Search for “sex.” How many songs show up? 15
Search for “death.” How many songs show up? 5
Search for “love.” How many songs show up? 124

oh nice!

from scifidaily:

From Host Bill Siwicki: A sequel to one of the most original and exciting pure sci-fi films in years is in the works, according to its larger-than-life star. Vin Diesel (Pitch Black, The Iron Giant, Saving Private Ryan) has told MTV News that work soon will begin on the sequel to the phenomenal 2004 genre outing The Chronicles of Riddick, which itself was a sequel to the very underrated 2000 sci-fi?er, Pitch Black. Once Diesel finishes work on the 2006 historical epic, Hannibal the Conqueror, he reports he will begin production on COR2, the second in what will be The Chronicles of Riddick Trilogy. The second film, he says, will take place in the ominously titled Underverse; the third will see Riddick’s return to his homeworld, Furia. He states COR2 will be rated R, unlike the PG-13 rated COR1. While COR1 did only $115.4 million worldwide (it cost $140 million), it did huge DVD business. Ultimately, I have a hunch that COR1 always will be on my most underrated films list. If you have yet to see it, watch it now. RIGHT NOW!

i concur with what this guy is saying. if you haven’t watched chronicles of riddick, it really is that good. seriously. no shit and all. i promise. give it a chance.

what i’m watching

in order of how much i _need_ to see the next episode:

(1) farscape
(2) carnivale
(3) six feet under
(4) lost
(5) alias
(6) nip/tuck – i missed all of season two, dammit!
(7) battlestar galactica – the miniseries was sooo good…
(8) arrested development – i hope fox doesn’t cancel this…
(9) buffy the vampire slayer – not _hooked_ yet…
(10) the shield
(11) monk
(12) curb your enthusiasm
(13) dead like me – not _great_, but i think i’ll watch some more episodes

no wonder i have so little time…


oh god. i just finished watching season two of farscape. good lord. it just kept getting more and more _hardcore_, episode after episode, and when it got to the finale i kept thinking to myself “oh god there’s only _fifteen minutes left_ and i don’t want to be left where they’re threatening to leave me…” but they did. they -fucking- frelling _did_.

(one note: if you’ve rented the last season two collection, the finale is actually on disc one. you have to watch the first episode on the disc, stop it, put in disc two, and then go back to disc one for the finale. fucking adv films can suck it. thank god i checked to make sure i was watching them in order – there was a huuuuuge jump between the episodes on disc one. didn’t smell right.)

mark, do you remember the end of alias season two? yeah. i don’t know if any of you guys have finished this season of farscape, but it’s comparable… except that farscape sometimes manages to be even more twisted (although, perhaps the impact of alias season two’s finale has dulled with time…). the season finale was fucking scary, man. or at least it was so… incredibly awful to watch. painful for the characters. man.

luckily, it occurred to me tonight that perhaps the austin library might have farscape on dvd. and… lo and behold, i’m next in line for *the complete season three box set*. that’s right, i’m not going to have to rent the discs one by piddling one, i get the whole damn thing at once, for free. i just have to manage to watch it in seven days… i might have to wait a week or two before i get it, though…

i _think_ i can wait that long…

X-Men 3 News…

From “Dark Horizons”:http://www.darkhorizons.com/news05/050314h.php:

Aint it Cool News reports that Matthew Vaughn, director of “Layer Cake”, will direct “X-Men 3” for Fox. Their source also indicates that “It sounds like Zak Penn’s script is the one that Fox is using, and this director should be able to mine layers and layers of subtext out of the material”.

Penn, who has played a big hand behind the scenes in the “X-Men” franchise so far, is said to have penned a script revolving around the Dark Phoenix saga. As of now Hugh Jackman, Famke Janssen, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Alan Cumming are all coming back, and Halle Berry is still undecided. A Memorial Day 2006 date is also said to still be targeted.

farscape –> wazoo

well, thank god for hollywood video and the fact that season two of farscape comes in two disc sets. it’s been much less frustrating to work my way through this season because of it. sure, i’ve spent a hunk of change on rentals when – if i was patient – i could always get them from netflix, but if i had chosen that path, i wouldn’t have been able to watch nine (count ’em) nine episodes today.

and boy, were they some good episodes! the first season was good, good enough to hook me on the show, but there were definitely some crappy episodes here and there, points at which i got annoyed and was really only watching them so i wouldn’t miss anything. season two, on the other hand, is not only more consistent, but certain episodes rise above the rest. my favorite episode so far is one called “won’t get fooled again”, where crichton seems to have traveled back to earth… except everyone from moya is there, and they don’t seem to know what he’s talking about. nothing cracked me up quite as much as pilot playing the bongos…

i keep going to the “episode guide on tvtome”:http://www.tvtome.com/Farscape/ and accidentally reading little spoilers. you’d think i’d have learned by now, but i’m the bug and it’s a flame. i just have to learn more about the episodes i’ve watched so far. (p.s. if you go to that page, be careful when you click on the episode guide. it goes straight to a summary of the peacekeeper wars miniseries. i couldn’t help myself, and i read just a bit of it, more than i should have…)

i suppose i should have gone outside and taken a walk at some point today – it was really nice outside – but once i got into the farscape, there was no stopping me. really, it was all i wanted to do today. and somehow i feel accomplished. nine episodes. damn. it doesn’t feel like i spent close to seven hours of the day watching farscape…

well, fuck.

so… remember how i was all excited that i can edit video on my computer now? well, today i turned on my camcorder – i occasionally use it to take still photos – and got nothing but a black screen in the viewfinder and lcd. i fiddled with it, tried different batteries, the power cord, whatever i could think of, and then i looked it up on the internet.

turns out that canon zr-series camcorders, especially ones about as old as mine, tend to have CCD failures. as in my specific problem. apparently this can be fixed… for around $170 or so.

for which price i could just buy a nice new digital still camera and make stop-motion movies.

i’m starting to feel like – two years later – buying this camcorder (which i only just paid off in November of 2004) was one of the stupidest things i’ve ever done.

uqusnrae dcnae

Aoccdrnig to rsareech at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae.The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm.Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

check out “the scramblizer”:http://www.scramblizer.com/

work & mr strange

so i’ve been complimented on how quickly i’ve picked up the details of my job position. apparently this department is a pretty busy one – i’ve been told the workload will probably stress me out a little until i get used to it – so when it became clear that i was pretty on point already, people were already saying “where were you months ago when we needed you?”

from what i understand, i’m going to start off doing two main things:

the first involves going through people’s applications for education discounts and reseller purchases and making sure that they’ve plugged in all the right information. this is pretty straightforward; the most important thing i have to do is make sure i don’t forget any steps, because if i do, these folks can’t make purchases. the second involves me using this special customer service e-mail program where i’ll mostly deal with customer questions involving lost passwords and accounts that don’t seem to be working.

once i’ve got myself a cubicle and all the proper login information, i’ll basically be left to my own devices, and will be able to zone out listening to music while i dot the i’s and cross the t’s. and if i’ve got any questions, everyone who can help me will be on ichat.

the benefits of being a full apple employee – as opposed to just a contracted temp like me – are pretty incredibly awesome. there’s a gym on-site for employees, they get great benefits, and there is of course the much-coveted employee discount; one time a year, you can make a big purchase like a computer, and you get *25% off the purchase*.

let’s say you went crazy and got a dual 1.8ghz g5 and a 20″ flatpanel, more memory, a 160 gig hard drive, etc., which comes out to $3522 before tax. you’d save _$880_ with an employee discount and would only pay $2641.

cool thing is, though, that you don’t even have to use your discount sometimes, because they have quarterly specials just for employees. that g5 we just looked at might be even cheaper!

now, from what i’ve been told, the average to become a “badged” employee is about seven months lately. they’ve told me a couple times, though, that since the department is growing, there’s the possibility they’ll badge the temps quicker than that.

now that i figured out the video editing issues, i don’t actually need to get a new computer any time soon. i can wait. seven months. or more, really. according to some of the forms i signed at volt, i can last as a temp up to a year, and then they’ll reassign me somewhere else. of course, it seems more likely that if i keep this job, i’d become badged well before the year is up.

this, by the way, is the first time i’ve gotten a job that seems like it’ll actually require my brainpower. it’s a nice feeling, although i do wonder what sort of stressful life i may have found for myself…

also: i started reading “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1582344167/unsquaredance-20?dev-t=1Y3EPK63R73F26PRKG82%26camp=2025%26link_code=xm2 this week. i was lucky to find it on sunday at half price books. especially lucky because this past weekend was the grand opening of the new half price books that went in near my neighborhood, in what apparently used to be a grocery store. because it was their opening, they passed out coupons when i checked it out on friday, and one of the coupons gave you 50% off one item only on sunday. when i went to the big one that afternoon, however, it was jam-packed with people, and the line for the registers wrapped around the whole store. luckily, though, the coupon was good at any location, so i trekked over to the one on 183, walked in the door, went to the bestseller shelf, and found the exact thing i wanted. JS&MN is a pretty big bestseller lately, and only comes in one of those huge hardbacks that cost an arm and a leg. this copy was marked at $14. so i got it for $7. i was pretty proud of myself. so far the book sort of reads like a great lost Jane Austen fantasy novel, except it’s also hilarious on top of that. (if you hated Jane Austen in school, i hope you wouldn’t hold it against this book. it really is very drily funny.)

gravity decides

for some reason, every version of the lyrics for “gravity decides” by the folk implosion that i can find on the internet doesn’t include the following, from the second verse:

i collide with the world again
on the street, in the sky
sidestep tragedy
lean back casually
drank the poision, i survived

…which is a shame, because that’s my favorite part of the song.

tomorrow: working stiff

this is the most i’ve ever prepared for a job. it is, of course, only my second “real” job, if we’re counting the _rollercoaster ride of fun_ that was Nacq (and i am), and for that job i didn’t get nearly this worked up.

i mean, i went clothes shopping today and bought a new dress shirt so that i’ll look nice on my first day. of course, i did need a new dress shirt because the two i had don’t fit around the neck anymore, but it’s not like i have to wear a dress shirt every day at work – i only have to wear business casual tomorrow.

and yet, i went out and bought a shirt and tie combo at ross ($20), as well as some new black socks ($7) and then i had to go to walmart and buy an ironing board ($17) so i could iron my damn shirt after i washed it. (of course, i think i’m going to return the ironing board, because i don’t foresee needing it very much unless i have to start wearing nice shirts five days a week.)

tonight on my way back from walmart, i drove to work so i wouldn’t get lost in the morning. i’m going to be working in a genuine business complex. this is, in fact, a *real job*. hell, i’ll probably even have to deal with morning traffic. (fun…)

however, it occurs to me that now it is even more imperative than before that i get my creative juices a-flowing (especially since i can edit video with impunity now). it would be too easy to let myself sink into a regular daily routine at my job, and if i end up liking the work, it’ll be even easier. i need to think of this job as a way to pay my bills and debt and hopefully save up some money so that when the chance comes for me to pursue something creative, or perhaps go off to graduate school, i can do so.

speaking of graduate school, i have a feeling that around (or before) the time i’m 25, that’ll be someplace i want to go. if i’m going to continue my schooling, i think i want to finish it up before i’m 30…

alright, it’s done.

so, last night as i was editing this odd little movie, i thought to myself “man, i remember when i edited those other movies i got all caught up in it and 10 hours passed like nothing. it’s not happening this time!” – and on top of that, i just wasn’t getting stuff to go together as well. i wasn’t in the groove. this was at, maybe… 11 o’clock. i hadn’t been working on it too long, only a few hours.

and then i looked up and it was five o’clock. somewhere in there, the gears got oiled and i remembered how to do it, and time disappeared like nothing.

anyways, i hope you like it, although i’m not sure if it’s as funny if you don’t know these people. but i hope it is anyways.


*EDIT:* for those of you who might not know, this footage was shot in the fall of 2003 and has sat unedited on my camcorder since then. most of the plot turns and dialogue were improvised on the spot by tony and beau, and then i’d tell them where to stand so i could film it. personally, i was completely sober. beau and tony get more drunk as the movie goes on, but compared to a lot of people in the house that night, they were pretty sober. if you knew tony, though, you’d definitely understand where this movie is coming from…

*SECOND EDIT:* hoo boy! man, i didn’t realize how little this movie would translate outside the circle of the sig house. everybody who has watched it that didn’t go to southwestern has basically said “well… er… it was weird.” and left it at that. yeesh. good thing i wasn’t planning on including this on my demo reel. (i really wasn’t. it’s entertaining – to _some_ of my friends – but it’s sloppier than i’d want to present around town. also i used a good dozen songs that i don’t have the rights to.)

*THIRD EDIT:* Oh, and if you guys had seen “Hepatitis Pie”, you would never have talked to me ever again. Probably good that one got fried when my computer crashed a few years ago.


well, my new job starts this upcoming monday, and i think that my first paycheck will follow on friday (that’s what’s nice about working through a temp agency… _weekly paychecks!_)

i’m trying to not let the idea of having money again go to my head, but i have to admit that i’m already plotting some possible purchases.

first of all, i lost an important part of my “shitty tripod”:http://www.ambicoproducts.com, and the company that made it has apparently been bought off and folded into some huge electronics company. not surprising. unfortunately, this means that my chances of getting a “replacement foot” for my tripod (as in, the piece that screws onto a camera and then snaps into the top of the tripod) are infinitesimal.

not having a working tripod makes it basically impossible for me to make another “stop-motion movie”:http://portfolio.unsquare.com/film/donkey/, which i’ve been itching to do lately. and then i realized that if i was going to buy a tripod, why not do whatever i can to make it easier to film new stop motion video?

the most annoying limitation i had when making the donkey movie was that i could only take 24 frames of anything and then i had to unplug my camcorder and import the stills using iphoto. this meant i had very little room for error. the main reason i was so limited, however, was because of the 8mb flash memory card used to store still photos – trying to use DV tapes to store “stills” is an absurdity.

turns out, however, that you can now buy 128mb flash memory cards for $20. and a usb card reader for $10. so that’s three things that would make stop-motion a bit easier. of course, then i’d actually have to follow through and make something or it’d just be more money down a hole.

i seem to have this problem, see, where instead of making do with what i’ve got and creating something, i always tell myself that i need something newer and better to get the job done. so, first i bought a camcorder. then i bought a 120 gig firewire hard drive to store raw footage. -now i need a new computer because mine can no longer play back raw video clips without lagging desperately (except it did just fine when i edited “dancing with myself” or the lost “hepatitis pie” movie that crashed my computer.) it’s frustrating because in the meantime, instead of writing something now that i could shoot later, i spend my time on other things.- right. read the newer entry…

i have a strange relationship with writing. right now i can’t get myself to read anything i wrote in the past, even when i know it’s perfectly good. i don’t want to re-read living in concussion, or look at the fragments i’ve written for daniel, or anything else. something inside me just finds so much of that embarassing, and yet, another part of me knows that there’s nothing wrong with what i’ve written. nothing at all.

i’ve been trying to talk myself into starting something new. the attempts at convincing myself are becoming more numerous, and something has to break through soon. i swear it. i’ve _thought_ about trying to write more lately than i have in a long time, which, considering how things have been going, is quite a change. there was a long stretch there where i blithely went along not worrying about it at all.

tiger, tiger!

…and so the other shoe drops. today was (finally) my last day at work, a position which was supposed to last two weeks; they had claimed that they weren’t going to let any more people go (did i believe them? besides the point), and i had actually gotten into a rhythm of reading and answering phones – today i actually answered ten or maybe a dozen, and i also finished a book that i started reading last night.

but, was i upset when they told me i was let go? no, hardly. i grinned. like a jackass. some woman – who i had never seen before – was standing and talking to the newly unemployed; this woman was sad-faced and almost trembling, as though it was a great loss, a terrible tragedy… or perhaps she thought we might riot and tear her to shreds, gnashing our teeth and howling.

i interrupted her. i said, loudly, and with a grin in my voice, that it was okay… “i hated this job.” she looked so sad, after all, i figured she ought to know. she just looked at me reproachfully and asked if she could continue. i continued smiling.

i never burn bridges, see. and it’s not like this was a bridge burnt, really, but it was probably the rudest thing i’ve ever said to someone who had been my employer. we have not, after all, been released from eligibility from further positions through adecco. we can continue getting jobs through them _if we want to_. if i hadn’t had an interview on wednesday, i’d just tell myself that i could probably find another temp agency to scare me up a job (and if this possible position falls through, i’ll begin canvassing the town yet again). not that i’ve really burnt a bridge here; rather, i’ve seen the sort of thing adecco can scare up for me, and i’m not impressed. i suppose all of you out there in reader-land think i hated this job for selfish or lazy reasons. maybe i did. mostly i just didn’t like being condescended to on a daily basis; i didn’t like the way it was implied that i couldn’t possibly know what the fuck i was doing, simply because a good number of people in the room did not, in fact, know what the fuck they were doing – be they supervisors or lowly grunts like me.

maybe i’m annoyed by the thought that i’m in debt, ready to be employed, and the only folks who will hire me would probably have hired me if i had a middle-school education. meaning that it sometimes feels like i’ve spent most of my life doing nothing worthwhile.


oh god

i went to sleep last night at midnight, and woke up sometime around 6am. when i opened my eyes, i tried to look at my alarm clock so i could see what time it was, but for some reason i couldn’t focus my eyes and the clock danced around in front of my field of vision. this was not a pleasant sensation. eventually that settled down and i could see the time, but now my stomach feels awful and i’m trying to convince myself that i do not need to throw up. probably.

anybody have any good explanations for random morning-time dizziness and nausea?

i see today in a newsprint gray

alright, i’ve modified my opinion of my job. it’s not the worst job i’ve ever had, not by far. it’s just the stupidest. any job where you’re there for eight hours and only have work to do for somewhere around five minutes just seems counter-intuitive to me. (why am i complaining about not having work to do? if i’m going to spend eight hours doing something, i’d like to feel as though i was doing it for a reason other than just money. for some reason i like things to have utility. call me crazy.)

i didn’t get any more sleep last night, but i did at least bring my book in from the start of the day. i didn’t want to do that on my first day of work unless i was absolutely sure that it wouldn’t be an issue, but today they were handing out crossword puzzles for us to do because it was clear that everyone in the goddamn room spends most of their time twiddling thumbs.

they also handed out about four sheets of paper to each of us that reiterated most of the stuff we learned in training. apparently i continue to overestimate the abilities of my coworkers, and in turn, we all get treated like we have the functional intelligence of an amoeba with a head-cold.

i bet that if these calls don’t pick up they’ll start letting us go before the minimum two weeks is up. i won’t complain. i’ll just go into more inevitable debt… unless the temp agency can get me another job quick, or i can find something else more tangible.

strangely enough, today after i left work i was in a pretty good mood. maybe it was just because i was leaving work, but i was actually decently awake, and happy, and enjoyed the music on the way home. and then i lived for about ten minutes before dying in my bed.

in other news, rest in peace hunter s. thompson. i never read any of his stuff, but he seemed like the sort of guy i would respect. sorry to hear that he felt the need to leave this world so violently.

formattin’ the drive

today, on a whim, i decided to reinstall OS X, but with a complete reformat of my hard drive, in the hopes that it would possibly speed things up because it wouldn’t have any of the random shit i’ve installed on it.

i’ve been working on re-installing important programs as they occur to me, but the only difference i can tell for sure is that the main hard drive has 10 gigs free now instead of 4.5, so that’s an improvement, at least. imovie hd still plays video like molasses, unfortunately.

god. i have to work tomorrow. dammit.

real quick

eddy was saying that he wished there was a higher quality version of “dancing with myself” and it got me to thinking… i knew i had backed them up somewhere…

after about a minute of searching, i found the backups cd, and after messing with the files for a bit, i got the old imovie project converted into an imovie hd project. unfortunately, the original mp3 soundtrack had been corrupted somewhere along the way, so i had to redo that, which wasn’t easy considering how laggy the video was.

luckily, though, i finally managed to get them synced up, and then i exported a newer version of the movie, higher quality and all.

check it out: dancing with myself (10mb file)

*EDIT:* okay, doug, i fixed the glitch. remember, i exported the original right before going to bed. these things happen. jerk.

can you say “finally”?

after much fiddling about and a general program of procrastination, i have put the final touches on “my portfolio”:http://portfolio.unsquare.com. also, if you notice, i’ve added a link to it on the upper right-hand side of this page, right below that picture of me. now that it’s “live”, it can be spidered all to hell by google so that the random web visitor has a chance of finding it.

i have a few other possible web design projects in the works:

(1) a redesign of the “iota chapter website”:http://www.iotachapter.org. sure, it’s nice enough, but i designed it when i was first getting the hang of css, and i think i can do it better now. i also want to make it so that the actives might actually be able to update it, since i haven’t been given any information to put on there unless i prod them into giving it to me.

(2) i’m a fan of those programs that keep track of your book collection. the best one i’ve found (and it’s free!) is just called “books”:http://books.aetherial.net/. i’m also a fan of “all consuming”:http://allconsuming.net, but it has a bad habit of being slow, or inaccurate, or down, or just plain difficult. i think i’d like to begin working on a php application that replicates the basic function of all consuming, plus some features from books (the reading list currently on my site is only functional at best). this would be the same idea as movable type versus blogger. part of the reason i switched to mt was because i was tired of relying on a site that might go down without warning.

alright, i’m going to go finish watching “farscape season one”:http://www.tvtome.com/Farscape/season1.html. wish me luck.

aw, what the hell is that clown doing?

so here i was, trying to nudge google into coughing up some more information about the “matriarch/patriarch/craftsman/clown” set of archetypes that i sort of touched on last week – i was made curious by this because i was looking in the webstats, and someone else out there was searching for this, and i wondered if there was more information about it.

so i punched in “matriarch archetype” and “craftsman archetype” and finally “clown archetype”, and what does it come up with, but this: (and how could i resist, in my horror?)

in the interest of combating any unfortunate trauma you may now be having due to that little image up there, i offer the following:

more scientology

thanks to a visitor who found this page on google, i’ve been given an interesting link detailing “beck’s history with scientology”:http://lermanet.com/beck/. scary stuff.

*EDIT:* I just checked, for curiosity’s sake, and i’m on the fifth page of the google search results because of my entry. not bad, considering i’m just writing whatever i want.

unsquare.com redesign

i appear to have accidentally made a valentines day-themed redesign of “unsquare.com”:http://old.unsquare.com. the appropriateness was unintentional, but i like it. i think i’ll make it rotate images or something. whatever. alls i know is that i’m finally tired and can now go to bed, which was mostly why i did the redesign in the first place. no sleepy. anyways.

*EDIT:* Okay, I’ve expanded the front page of this site so that instead of just the “dancers” theme, there are four others. Every time you go to “unsquare.com”:http://old.unsquare.com, you should get a different look. If you don’t, try reloading.

quick one while he’s here… in front of the computer.

so my little temp orientation was today. it was actually only about 45 minutes long, and mostly consisted of (1) the lady telling us what would get us fired, and (2) informing us that whatever we are taking orders for next week is confidential and we can’t (under any circumstance) reveal whatever the hell it is we’re going to be doing, followed by everyone signing a legal document saying much the same.

for all i know, i’m taking orders for the XBOX 2 or something.

good news is, though, that if we aren’t busy with the phones, we won’t get “flexed” (sent home). there is the possibility that i might sit there not doing anything all day.

let’s be realistic here

my orientation for work is tomorrow at noon. i got the impression from the “interview” that this orientation would be more general to the temping profession, not necessarily specific to my work in the “Microsoft call center” that seems to be all the (dubious) information i have about my upcoming position. why a temp needs orientation on top of job-specific things, and what for, i’m not exactly sure, but it should be… _interesting_, to say the least.

problem is… i need to go to sleep now but *i’m not tired*. i need to go to sleep so i can be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the -torture- orientation tomorrow, but i don’t want to go to sleep. perversely, i want to drive to what-a-burger and get one of those barbeque chicken strip thingies that has been advertised lately. this sandwich has been haunting me – something deep inside my soul is convinced that the contraption must surely be _delicious_. probably all marketing, however.

anyways, i’m hungry, and even though i have a selection of food here, my body wants me to jump in the car and go for a drive. go figure.

you know… i had a choice when i signed up for my job between day shifts (8am to 4pm) and night shifts (4pm to midnight). now, since i am a nocturnal creature at heart (always have been, probably always will be), part of me was tempted by the thought of getting to sleep until 3ish before heading to work for the day. but then i realized that that’s exactly what would happen. i’d sleep until work, be there for eight hours, come home, maybe watch a little tv and conk out around 4 or 5. and i’d never interact with another living soul except for at work.

whereas with the morning shift, i’ll wake up, fill myself full of coffee, soldier on through until 4pm and then come home and take the inevitable nap. except, in this scheme, my nap is over by 7 or 8 and i actually have some time left to interact with other human beings, maybe even go out for a movie or something. and if i can resist the nap, i get actual daylight for a few hours. oh, i’ll inevitably still stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning, but i just can’t resist that. it’s in my blood.

my hackles actually rise a little bit when people talk shit about my sleep schedule. melanie used to do that, and it seemed so silly. why should she care when or how much i slept?

vince actually made a crack the other day when the cats woke me up at 9:30 and i couldn’t get back to sleep. he said that if i avoided a nap maybe i could get onto a normal sleep schedule… so i took a four-hour nap out of spite.

you know, honestly, i’ll be able to get myself up tomorrow morning. if i have someplace to be with some urgency, i can always force myself to roll over and have at it. it would be nice if i could have some time tomorrow morning to make coffee, get something to eat, and have a decent window of time to get to the orientation in case i (inevitably) get lost.

alright, i’m going to go buy the damn sandwich. maybe that’ll make me sleepy.

*EDIT*: mm well, that was definitely tasty, but did i have to eat the whole thing? now i’m going to have a nightmare about being a sled-dog or something.

i have just experienced a weird moment of convergence

yesterday i read an article in the onion av club, “an intervew with Mitchell Hurwitz”:http://www.theonionavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=4106&f=1&page=2, creator of Arrested development. here’s the important bit:

In The Beatles, you can kind of see it the clearest. You know, Paul is the matriarch, John is the patriarch, the craftsman is George and the clown is Ringo. So I wanted to get that in there, and I thought, “Maybe that will be the four kids. I’ll do a show about four kids.” As it turns out, Michael and Lindsay would be the matriarch and patriarch. The craftsman, to me, is Buster, because he’s a scholar and he’s serious, and the clown is Gob, because he’s a magician, and clowns literally are magicians.

just now, on page 261 of “The Fortress of Solitude”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385500696/qid=1108030684/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-2059164-5768831 by Jonathan Lethem, which i have been sorely neglecting for a good two weeks now, i read the following:

‘…The Beatle thing is an archetype, it’s like the basic human formation. Everything naturally forms into a Beatles, people can’t help it.’
‘Say the types again.’
‘Responsible-parent genius-parent genius-child clown-child’
‘Okay, do Star Wars.’
‘Luke _Paul_, Han Solo _John_, Chewbacca _George_, the robots _Ringo_.’

something told me the first time i read the first quote that i needed to write it down. and here it is again. is it too superstitious for me to think that my moment of inspiration is creeping closer and closer?

The Orchard

I was in the shower and I began picturing this scene. I don’t know who these people are yet, or where this scene is going, but it’s something new.

(The stage is empty except for a large, alien-looking tree, all twisted trunks and ripe-looking fruit. A slight breeze seems to be passing through and making the leaves gently ripple, or perhaps it is our imagination.

A man – tall, dressed in a sharp, dark business suit and clutching a briefcase in one hand, slowly walks onstage. He peers cautiously around until he is sure the coast is clear, and then he walks directly up to the tree and begins attempting to pick a piece of fruit. He does this without ever loosening his grip on the handle of the briefcase. All of the fruit seems to be too high at first, but he finally manages to get a grip on one and tear it off the branch.

Sometime during all this – we did not notice, it seems – a woman wearing a light, flowery dress and holding a double-barrel rifle walked in from behind the man, who didn’t notice either.

He buffs the fruit on the lapel of his suit jacket, inspects it, and is about to take a bite, when the woman – gun at ready – finally speaks up.)

Don’t. Eat. That.

(At the sound of her voice, the man freezes, mouth open, fruit at the ready. After a few loud, slow milliseconds, he carefully turns around and holds out the piece of fruit to her.)

Pardon me. (Pause.) Is this your orchard?

Put it down. On the ground. Here in front of me.

No worries, no worries. No need to get so worked up over a little piece of fruit.

(The man walks slowly over and places the fruit a few feet in front of the woman. She covers him the whole time. After he has backed away, and is an equal distance from the fruit and the tree itself, the woman walks over, gingerly picks up the fruit, and wraps it carefully in a piece of soft paper. She puts the parcel away and then turns back to the man.)

You’re a long way from the office. (Pause.) What’s in the briefcase?

(Looks at the case, then at her.)
Papers. Business cards. One of those magazines they give you on an airplane. Nothing interesting.

Must be important stuff, though… Couldn’t you put it down to pick some fruit?

Listen, I’m… sorry I trespassed on your land, ma’am, but I’m a bit lost and I got hungry. If you’ll point me in the direction of the nearest highway, I’d be happy to be on my way.

Highways? (Pause.) Oh, there’s no highways around here, I’m afraid.

Another fragment: “I want you to see things clearly, with sharpened eyes.”

oh, netflix…

so i was trying to figure out for myself some good reasons why I should stay with Netflix even though Blockbuster is cheaper and (according to some of my friends) faster.

(1) I have 200 movies in my queue. setting all that up again would be annoying

(2) I still have this suspicion that Blockbuster doesn’t have movies that Netflix does

(3) I have rated over 1200 movies on Netflix. That took some time.

(4) Unwillingness to support satanic corporation (Yeah, whatever. See below.)

(5) Laziness.

oh thank god

i got a job.

it’s a temp job – three weeks in a microsoft call center. i’m sure it’ll suck, but at least i can remind myself (if and when it sucks) that it’s only a three week job. i’ll get paid $9, and work full-time for those three weeks. i’ll actually be able to pay my bills at the end of the month. who’da thunk it?

what i thought was going to be an interview this morning actually turned out to be me sitting and taking “personality” tests and filling out forms for close to two hours. the personality tests claimed to be so that the agency would know what sort of jobs were good to place me in, but that claim was belied by the fact that most of the questions were something like this:

1. I like to steal.
a. strongly disagree
b. slighty disagree
c. not sure
d. slightly agree
e. strongly agree

2. I hate authority figures.
a. strongly disagree
b. slighty disagree
c. not sure
d. slightly agree
e. strongly agree

3. I will rape you.
a. strongly disagree
b. slighty disagree
c. not sure
d. slightly agree
e. strongly agree

the real test was actually designed to see if you were intelligent enough to figure out what answers they wanted to hear: “is it okay to be late?” …well, what would Super Employee say? “Zounds, no! Perish the thought!”

mostly it all just hurt my brain.

turns out, though, that i do actually type at 70wpm. so i can put that on my resume for reals now.

bad news, good news

so… today, first thing after i get up and have breakfast, the maintenance man comes over and knocks on my door and tells me that my landlord is trying to get a hold of me because i never paid my pet deposit…


see, i forgot to pay it for a few months, and then i realized that i had forgotten about it and she had never called me on it, so i decided to see how long i could get away with not paying it. and then, i forgot that i even had that hanging over my head anymore.

so, naturally, just when it so happens that i have less than no money and a growing credit card debt, she realizes that i never paid it…

she was at least nice enough to let me pay half now and half on the 15th, so i was _only_ out another $125 today.

the good news?

i finally sat down to begin calling “every temp agency in the austin area”, as I have threatened for at least a week. when I called the very first one on my list, she asked me to come in for an interview tomorrow. the job involves working in a Microsoft Call Center for 3-4 weeks, would pay $9/hr, and starts sometime after the 15th. i like temp agencies. they’re very good about being straight-to-the-point. now i just have to do well at the interview tomorrow, and i might be able to take home a paycheck sometime this month.

the other good news is that “my portfolio site”:http://portfolio.unsquare.com is coming along nicely. in fact, it’s almost done (but for the web part, as of 2pm). i’ve tricked it out using fun things like PHP and “mod_rewrite”:http://www.alistapart.com/articles/succeed/ so that the navigation is as seamless as possible. the site is so far the sexiest i’ve ever made…

the unbearable

i went and saw a play tonight, because my friends were in it. it was written by a guy who went to southwestern. i was never _friends_ with this guy, really. i mean, we traded music recommendations, but it was more a high level of friendly acquaintance than anything else.

anyways, he wrote this play. this is the third play of his i’ve seen. the first was called, if i remember correctly, “Distance”. that play was about a husband and wife who have dinner with one of the wife’s old boyfriends. it was sort of a cliche premise to begin with, but these things can go all sorts of ways if done correctly. unfortunately, the characters were all terribly unlikable – not in an intriguing way – and the woman was thinly drawn; you couldn’t really see why the men were fighting over her. the production was well-done, though, and the show was pretty polished. i definitely wouldn’t have said it was a bad show, it just didn’t quite hit the mark.

i say polished because the other two shows of his i’ve seen have come off as the sort of things that perhaps could have used some polish. a few more drafts. more rehearsal time.

play number two was called “word and thought”. from what i remember, it was a “farce” detailing the behind-the-scenes hijinks involved in producing a new play. imagine noises off, but without the comic timing. this was one of those situations where i was sitting, watching the play, occasionally laughing, but really spending more time feeling guilty because i wasn’t laughing, because my friends were up there doing their best, and i just couldn’t muster up the laughs. this is a sort of uncomfortable feeling in your stomach – the absence of desired laughs. ultimately, the play was forgettable. i’m trying to write about it now, but there was nothing remarkable about it that stands out in my mind other than it clearly meant well but, again, missed the point – a little further off the mark this time, however.

tonight’s play was called “the unbearable marketing of being”. to give you some background, the playwright is a fan of the book “the unbearable lightness of being”, playwright bertolt brecht, and the late elliott smith. (he’s also kind of a pretentious motherfucker, and tended to project the impression that he was quite above all of the rest of us mere mortals.)

the…main story of this play was, i suppose, that two guys living in austin decide that they don’t want to work shitty jobs anymore, so, accordingly, they create a fake marketing company which sells “synergies” and “free thought”. they figure that all they have to do is talk some good bullshit and someone will buy. that someone turns out to be sabine, owner of a new belgian restaurant. they’re hired to market the opening. they create a shitty commercial that involves (1) oedipus walking around zilker park (2) george w. bush doing the same, then drinking from a bottle labeled “saudi oil”. sabine rejects this commercial, saying “no politics”. the guys don’t come up with anything else, and the opening is a failure until – surprise – milan kundera, author of “the unbearable lightness of being” shows up. behind him are a bunch of people who are interested in the restaurant because it is “new”. the day is saved. and then one of the guys gets a call on his cell phone: “elliott smith is dead. he stabbed himself.” (the other characters basically ignore this. it’s not presented in any context. there’s no reason for it.)

but wait, there’s more… the play also had two other stories intertwined with this main story. the first concerned grok, inventor of the wheel, and his problems marketing his invention, because “there’s no use for it”! the second concerned a marketplace in medieval england where a man is selling a “great new invention” – the wheelbarrow – until he gets in a duel to the death with his competitor. neither of these stories had any clear relation to the main story, except that there was some sort of marketing in them.

bigger than the story problems, however, was the fact that the whole production came off more like a rehearsal about a week before the show should open, rather than the final night of a five-night run. the actors had no energy at all. sure, i laughed at some parts, but that same uncomfortable feeling in my stomach came around while watching this show.

so i’ve seen three of this guy’s shows, each one worse than the last, each one more tossed off and jumbled than the last.

i left the theatre and i thought “i can totally do better than that. why haven’t i done anything better than that in so long? i can do better.”

not bad, so far…

this morning i drove down to georgetown and talked with a guy in the career services office. he was actually pretty helpful – i’ve got a list of all the temp agencies in the area now, as well as a number of other places to look and possible leads to research. he also gave me some excellent pointers on my resume, which i’ve updated *yet again*… sometimes it feels like i need a different resume for every job that i find.

not surprisingly, getting out of bed at 9am for once felt kinda nice, as did having something to do. and i also got to see some of my friends at the sig house, so it was a pleasant little trip all around.

when i got back and plopped down in front of the computer to dig through craigslist, i found not one but two freelance writing jobs listed there that actually sounded interesting – one writing scripts for short educational cartoons, the other being a “ghost writer” for a website. i’m also going to start checking out the listings on the “writer’s weekly”:http://www.writersweekly.com site more often…

Oscar Nominations

Interesting bits: Jamie Foxx, of all people, is nominated not once but twice, for both Ray and Collateral. Kate Winslet got a nomination for Eternal Sunshine, which is mightily deserved, and the Best Picture crowd doesn’t have a single movie in it that sounds as completely off as it has been for the past few years. My personal favorite to win is Sideways, but, honestly, none of these movies would upset me if they won.


New Post!

Man, Firefox is starting to annoy the fuck out of me lately. I don’t know what I’ve installed, but it likes to hang every once in a while for no good reason. Probably need to clean out all of those extensions I like so much…

Anyways. This is my life lately.

On Saturday I:

(1) woke up, felt like shit… but not as shitty as i could have been

(2) had a phone conversation with my mother about my lack of a job. this is as fun as you might imagine.

(3) i get off the phone with her after deciding that i wanted to go for a walk. i knew that going for a walk would clear out my system some, this general malaise having floated through the week with me on and off.

(4) round up the ipod, put on a sweater, decide not to take my toasty hat. it’s only 4pm, and it’s brisk outside, not cold. my destination is Half Price Books on Guadalupe

(5) alright, 5pm, i finally make it to Half Price. it was a long longer walk than I thought it would be, but i made it, and i feel good, and i listened to bob dylan the whole way there, which was nice.

(6) they’ve got a Christopher Moore book! finally! i buy it. can’t resist.

(7) 15 minutes later, start on my way back. this won’t be so bad.

(8) oh jesus. the wind is starting to pick up, and i’m not even to 45th street yet. how much longer can i take this?

(9) the wind has been blowing in my face steadily for 20 minutes now. i’m convinced i’m going to get pneumonia. i’ll step into the comic book store to warm up. oh… they’re closed. okay, i’ll step into the next place i get to.

(10) good fucking lord that took forever to get to mcdonalds… i sit down at a booth and shake, and pant, and feel like a human popsicle. i guess i better order something so they won’t kick me out.

(11) alright, that was the first time i’ve had mcdonalds in years, and i scarfed it in 10 seconds… and i’m still hungry. my metabolism is apparently angry with me.

(12) alright, i’ve finally got the nerve to start on the final leg of my journey… it can’t be that far, can it? I’m on the street that goes into my neighborhood…

(13) it’s a lot further when you don’t have a toasty hat and your feet hurt like a motherfucker, but i finally make it home, and take a hot shower, and curl up on the coach under a blanket feeling traumatized. have decided to be dead to the world, watch dvds.

(14) doug calls. “wizard people, dear reader”? no. staying in tonight.

(15) i finish the last episode of dead like me on the disc, and sit up and realize that i actually don’t feel bad anymore. in fact, i feel pretty good. alright, even. i get up and call doug back, round up some beers and head over to watch this thing that i’ve heard so much about.

(16) two minutes in, i can’t stand the dude’s voice. this is supposed to be funny? i don’t get it. i tend to interrupt at points to alleviate my dislike of this whole thing, but i’m trying to humor it.

(17) eventually it gets to the point where none of us are even paying attention anymore. Justin is with me on hating this whole thing. it’s the guy’s voice, and his constant monotone inflection. it’s just not that funny.

(18) we stop the cd, justin heads home. doug and i sit and talk about music for a good 20 minutes, then i go home.

(19) can’t sleep for some reason. lie in bed for half an hour or so until my body finally gives in.

On Sunday I:

(1) wake up and my legs haven’t seized up or anything, this is a good sign.

(2) watch: Farscape Episodes 2, 4 and 3

(3) took another walk. shorter this time, and with a toasty hat (just in case). my foot hurts. my leg hurts. but i do it. okay.

(4) watch: Farscape episode 6 and the final three episodes of Firefly. A single tear.

(5) can’t sleep. wake up repeatedly throughout the night. Don’t really get a good sleep started until after 7am, probably.

On Monday I:

Didn’t get a job yet.

the future of the music industry

Found a really interesting speech given by someone from The Register on possible business models that would work for the future of the music industry. Some of the stuff in there is kind of silly – I for one don’t care about a wireless iPod at the moment. I’m pretty damn good at getting my own music. Anyways, here’s the link: “how the music industry can live forever…”:http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/09/23/orlowski_interactive_keynote/

ghost in the shell 2: innocence

Ghost in The Shell 2: Innoncence

i remember watching the first ghost in the shell movie and being confused and mildly disappointed. up until that point, my only exposure to anime was akira, which – although it was confusing as well – seemed far more epic in scope. i remember wondering if there were that many full-length anime features that were _as good_ as i thought akira was, and for a few years, i didn’t think so.

i was, of course, wrong. there were a hell of a lot of really excellent full-length anime features out there, i just hadn’t found them yet.

now, in my personal continuum of anime features, nothing will probably ever top spirited away. that would just be heresy; i’d say that and akira are on equal footing in my realm.

ghost in the shell 2 was quite a lot different from the first movie. the difference was all the more striking because i watched the trailers included on the disc, and saw a clip of the first movie – which now looks primitive and cartoony – and a bit of Stand Alone Complex, the TV series – cartoony still, but much more modern.

this one was pretty goddamn confusing as well, but there was something about it that clicked a whole lot better for me. innocence is not only far more epic than the first film, it is far more philosophical in scope, and the surrealistic quality that i love so much in a good anime has been ramped up much higher. there were parts of this movie that kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies, and i now consider it a sign of quality when something i watch can scare me a little bit in the right way (firefly being another example – the third episode made me crawl a little bit).

the only thing that wasn’t cool about the movie – and this is quite the internet scandal – was that instead of including regular subtitles, a closed captioned track was the only english option offered. so you’d get things like “[singing in japanese]” or “[dog whimpers]”, all of which were plastered right up front in huge white letters.

i decided a few years ago that kung fu flicks and anime were the only sorts of foreign films where i didn’t mind english dubbing. in both cases, it’s so you can pay as much attention to the visuals as possible. i’d actually prefer it if ghost in the shell had an english dub, cause i know there was a good amount of stuff that i missed just because i was trying to frantically read the subtitles and watch all of the crazy shit going on at the same time.

in other news: “wonderfalls: the complete series”:http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/releaseinfo.cfm?ReleaseID=4145 is getting released on dvd. only 4 episodes of this show were ever actually aired, so the set has *9 unaired episodes*. now, i have the whole damn series on my computer thanks to bittorrent, but i’m probably going to buy this boxset because i only watch stuff on my computer as a last resort.

i think it’s pretty amazing, though, that the number of shows being given a second chance on dvd keeps growing. this is definitely a trend i like. i guess producing a dvd box set is cheap enough that it’s worthwhile for studios to do this sort of thing, especially when fans are starting to learn that if they’re vocal enough, they can counteract the half-assed decisions of lily-livered TV executives.

my thought when i was watching firefly was that one of the most famous and long-lived science fiction franchises ever was cancelled after 3 seasons in its original form. we’ll ignore the last couple of movies they made, but hey… 30 years is pretty damn good for something tv execs tried to kill off, isn’t it?

now i just want a dvd box set of “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0105932/…

tv shows on dvd

ah, the movie studios have got my number. i am a sucker for those box sets of tv shows that are so prevalent now. i mean, i knew this before, but this weekend i’ve started to realize that what gets me excited more than anything else these days is watching the first couple of episodes of a tv show on dvd and then realizing that if i like it, i can watch more. a lot more. these things are addictive. why, this weekend alone i’ve already started a fixation on both farscape and firefly (rented the first disc of that tonight). firefly in particular is *gorgeous*, looks very expensive, and was probably always too good for television. farscape is awesome, but the dvds are annoying. two measly episodes a disc? poo on you, ADV films.

i’ve got a couple more right at the top of my netflix queue:

Dead Like Me: Season 1: Disc 2
Freaks & Geeks: Disc 1 (Yes, i could borrow this from Doug. But I’m impatient.)
The Dead Zone: Season 1: Disc 1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 1: Disc 1
Six Feet Under: Season 2: Disc 1
Angels in America: Disc 2


alright, so i totally just applied for a job at “UPS”:http://www.ups.com… things must be getting desperate here. (no shit)

honestly, i’d take anything right now, especially temporary things, if i could just feel good about possibly being able to pay my bills. that would be nice.

also, on a random whim, i re-installed the “page rank extension”:http://pagerankstatus.mozdev.org. i was kind of curious to see if anything had changed with the pagerank of my site or anyone i’ve been hosting. surprisingly enough, this journal has a page rank of 5, which was the holy grail of page ranks when i was working at “NACQ”:http://www.nacq.com.

it still cracks me up that there are businesses out there essentially trying to simulate the popularity of personal journal websites. jesus. in fact, even mark’s website – which hasn’t been posted on in four months, has a page rank of 3. perhaps this system doesn’t actually mean a goddamn thing, hmm?

i am totally that guy

i just realized that i’m turning into a hermit. with multiple cats. before you know it, i’ll have a whole herd of them constantly mewling and pissing on everything and i’ll have stoppped leaving my house except to pick up the newest tv guide and yell at those darn neighbor kids always throwing shit on my roof.

…the only time i left my house today was around 11:30 at night for an ill-fated trip to the local video rental store. i say ill-fated because the main purpose was to rent something funny, hopefully either anchorman or napoleon dynamite, but – of course – both were rented, because they’re very popular, these funny movies, and everyone else had already had the same idea as me.

it didn’t help that i owe the i luv video on airport… mmm… let’s say five dollars – quite an expense since i’m trying to save money and all – and the one on guadalupe… which seemed so promising at first… had a broken credit card machine. and i never have cash. well, i never have money, especially not now, but i super-especially never have cash. i almost half-heartedly rented some anime at the airport i luv video, but then i realized that i didn’t really want to watch it, and i didn’t really want to pay my late fees either.

and besides, last night i bought garden state with a target gift card i got in a sort of late christmas extravaganza. all ten dollars worth. i was hoping garden state would be even cheaper, but when i had to ask the guy to find me the only copy in the store, i had basically decided to bite the bullet and buy the damn thing no matter how much it cost. ($20 plus tax, if you must know, which came out to $11.64 after the gift card was applied. still as cheap or cheaper than i could have gotten it online.)

so i came back home, made a pot of coffee (at 12:45 in the morning, no less!), and sat down to watch the movie that so many of you have written off because it’s too popular with the hip kids, or sounds too cliche, or whatever other reasons you might imagine. course, i’ve already told you that this brand of stance on movies annoys me, most likely because there’s nothing i can do to make all those hipster douchebags stop raving about nice movies that you would like if they weren’t so overhyped.


the movie still stands up on a second viewing, and the parts that made me laugh the first time are still just as funny. the ending doesn’t seem like such a cop-out after all. and the real strength of the movie is revealed: while the main thrust of the movie is about andrew largeman’s personal journey of growth, it’s probably one of the least pretentious versions of such a story i can remember. this is mostly because of instead of making the movie some sort of drawing-room talking heads bullshit piece, the movie is peopled with strikingly odd characters that were surely drawn directly from life, and the occasional moments of surrealism that somehow – when put all together – make new jersey into a place both bleak and magical at the same time.

i think every writer has an urge when first starting out to write something nakedly autobiographical and confessional, and this generally turns into something maudlin and annoying. the thing is, while that element was obviously the genesis of this movie, we are not hit over the head with endless dramatic scenes where braff’s character goes through emotional torment and Learns Something Important. instead, the movie is muted and subtle compared to other such filmic confessionals, and filled with genuinely funny and strange moments that truly set it apart.

garden state is definitely a first film, and perhaps it only exists because of zach braff’s role on scrubs, but the nice thing about it is that – although it does have its flaws – the moments that stand out are of the sort that i personally love seeing in movies, and i can only imagine that, given time, some maturity as a writer, and another crack behind the camera, braff will come up with something wholly original.


why do i have the urge to drink another pot of coffee? it’s 4:49 in the morning!

all i know is that if there was some way i could never have to sleep again – without any side effects – i would go for it. my worst and most dangerous vice is my love of sleep. it’s much easier, when given the choice between sitting down and writing something, or reading a book, or finding a job, or really doing anything that might help me put my goddamn life on track, to just nod off for four or five hours, or sleep until three in the afternoon, or generally wander through my life with eyes closed and brain stuffed with cotton.

i can feel my brain atrophying in my skull. i’ve begun forgetting names i should know, telling the same stories over and over again, and re-reading sentences in novels over and over again because i wasn’t paying attention the first time around.

when i talk on the phone with my mother, she says things like “well, i hope that you can find a job that would actually make those four years of college mean something.”

meaning would be nice, but i honestly don’t think that there’s any connection between the time i spent in college – learning about life through both university sponsored and illicit channels – and the job(s) i’m inevitably going to have to take because i have about $30 in my checking account and $1100 charged on my credit card. sure, it’d be nice to be able to find a job that i could only get because i have a college degree, but honestly… i had one of those, and it made me want to gouge my own eyes out.

there are three sorts of jobs out there that seem to stem logically from my time in college. they are as follows:

(1) jobs that require warm bodies with motor and language skills (but little or no experience) to perform menial tasks considered too complicated for those without a degree

(2) jobs in more interesting specializations that, as a result, require either more experience than i have or a good bit of nepotism in hiring practices.

(3) creative jobs that wouldn’t actually have required either a college degree or even high school equivalency, just the preserverence and talent necessary to catch the eye of someone important. oh and it helps to have a portfolio/experience to prove your talent when necessary.

NACQ was a #1 sort of job. we can rule those out if they involve computers. i want my computer to be a thing of joy and relaxation, not some punishing box full of cathodes that drains my lifeforce away minute by minute.

i suppose i could do something dull and mindless if i at least got to walk around a bit and occasionally talk to some people. ironically, a lot of dull and mindless jobs tend to require experience i don’t have… unless they’re in the fast food industry, which my mother tells me just doesn’t fit into the whole life-plan thing she seems to have mapped out in her mind.

alright. i think i might be tired now.

ah-hah! success!

no, i didn’t get a job, thank you very much, but i did get a new screenname: ipsographic. it means “self-recording”, and i found it on a “lost words” website, in the hopes that it wouldn’t have occurred to every other human being on the planet to make it their screenname. success!

i’ll eventually stop signing on as musslerock, but for now it’s online to catch folks who wouldn’t read this.

stupid aim

i’ve been trying to come up with a new AIM screenname, but it appears that every dictionary word (and all combinations thereof) has already been registered, so these are the only screen names i’ve managed to actually get:

1. I H8 Yr Face
2. Crimeny Crackers

clever, i know…

anyways, i don’t _really_ like either one of these, so i’m still brainstorming and attempting to get a better name… except the service that lets you register names is down right now (or they’re on to me). or something. oh well.


…stayed home tonight cause i got so drunk last night and didn’t think my body could take it. but here i am now, and i’ve got some resolutions – even though i don’t usually do those.

1. i’m going to write something for “you”:http://sherman.unsquare.com, and “you”:http://mark.unsquare.com, and me.

2. get a job, hopefully one i like.


so, somehow i lost track of time and thought that tonight was new year’s eve, so i got really drunk and went out to a bar with my friends, and when i realized it was after midnight, i said “hey, it’s 2005 now!” and everyone looked at me like i was an idiot, and then i remembered that December has 31 days, and then i drank more – a lot more – and then i came home and passed out. the end.


# Entertainment Weekly named The Grey Album as “Album of the Year” (“More…”:http://www.ew.com/ew/article/commentary/0,6115,1009259_4_0_,00.html)
# I downloaded a cool doohickey called “Konfabulator”:http://www.konfabulator.com/ for my Mac. Mark says it’s “so two years ago,” but I’m hooked.
# I’ve seen a ridiculous number of movies in theatres recently:
** Closer – 4/5 : Natalie Portman really is a good actress
** Kinsey – 5/5 : It’s amazing to think how differently people viewed sex just 50 years ago…
** Life Aquatic – 3/5 : I liked it, and yet it was my least favorite Wes Anderson movie.
** Lemony Snicket – 4/5 : Jim Carrey is both wild and a good actor in this movie, although he never grates or spends too much time onscreen.
# Oh, I forgot! What do you get when you cross The Beatles with the Beastie Boys? “The Beastles”:http://halley.lunarpages.com/~djbc002/beastles/

i was going to post this on omni-fan, but…

…apparently the sql is fucked somehow. anyways, i spent some time thinking about my “best” albums of 2004. the top 3 are easy. they go:

1. the arcade fire – funeral
2. sonic youth – sonic nurse
3. mission of burma – onoffon

the rest vaguely go like this, with very little order to them.

elliott smith – from a basement on a hill
interpol – antics (how passe of me! indie-dance is _sooooo_ over!)
nick cave & the bad seeds – abbatoir blues/lyre of orpheus
blur – think tank (it’s weird that i like this, cause i really hated it the first time i heard it…)
four tet – pause
loretta lynn – van lear rose
the kinks – are the village green preservation society (remaster)
of montreal – satanic panic in the attic
wilco – a ghost is born
brian wilson – smile

unabashed “guilty” pleasure:
kylie minogue – body language

selected songs from:
kanye west – college dropout
joanna newsom – whichever weirdness i ran across

older stuff:
sonic youth – daydream nation, murray street, a thousand leaves
mission of burma – s/t
gang of four – entertainment
jim o’rourke – bad timing
morphine – cure for pain

single most played song of 2004:
“sunday” by sonic youth, at a grand total of 35 times.

best advance album illictly downloaded last week:
lou barlow – emoh


i finally sat down to watch casino, and when it gets within a half hour of the end of the whole fucking movie, the dvd decides that it is going to begin skipping like no other, rendering not just moments of film unplayable, but a whole fucking chapter, and there’s nothing i can do to get the goddamn thing to play!

dammit, i just want to know what happens!

now i’m going to have to go to i luv video tomorrow and try and convince them to let me trade it out for the video version, or something, just so i can finish the fucking movie.


*edit*: luckily, when i went in today, the late fee was only a dollar and they were still nice enough to let me get a credit and have another copy of the movie – vhs this time, just to be safe. it was kind of funny, cause i really only had 20 min left in the movie, so i brought the tape back in less than an hour.

Interesting Week

This is how I search for jobs...

My job search isn’t going too much better, unfortunately. Last Friday I went to the substitute orientation, which was appropriately mind-numbing. At the end, our instructor told us any number of reasons why being a substitute was a horrible job and why (if she had a choice) she would have chosen being a principal again over being a substitute. Several people in the class gasped at this, because (of course) your employer is supposed to talk up your new job, not give you dire warnings about horrible things that could happen to you.

There were, however, a good number of idiots in the room, so perhaps it wasn’t so surprising. There’s a certain class of batty middle-aged woman who decides that being a substitute teacher is a good idea. These are generally the sort of subs that i remember getting, and are why i remember thinking so little of the profession in general. We all know the only reason I set myself up for all that was desperation.

Course, that didn’t even help much… didn’t get me any work this week.

I did email this one listing on “Craig’s List”:http://craiglist.org and get a response. Apparently a real estate firm needs some transcription work done, and they pay alright. It’ll be shitty work, but I can do it on my own time, and when the money eventually comes in, it’ll probably help in a pinch. And, much like subbing, If I don’t like it, I can turn down future jobs.

In writing news, I submitted a story to the Austin Chronicle short story contest. You can read it here if you like: “_A Sister_ by Jeff James”:/portfolio/writing/a_sister.htm.

Other than that, there have been some interesting happenings this week. For example, on Monday night, I went to “a strip club”:http://www.austincityguide.com/content/palazio-austin.asp with my friends Beau and Jeff… Yeah, that’s right. A strip club. It was decided on a whim Sunday night after Beau realized that he had pretty much failed (Ds and Fs) all of his classes this semester, so the logic went… what better way to cheer him up than boobs?

We were there for a good four hours, and all of us spent more money than we probably should have. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only were the girls who worked there pretty cute (only one had fake boobs), but that there were several girls who came over to our table just to sit down and have a nice conversation. One girl in particular was really cool and interesting to talk to. She sat in my friend Jeff’s lap all night, only getting up to dance onstage later in the night. Needless to say, it was really surreal to have a really good conversation with a girl and then see her naked and gyrating onstage. At the end of the night, Jeff got her phone number, although I don’t think he’s called her yet, or even if he plans to call her at all. Can you date a stripper? I’ve heard tales of such things, but I’m not sure how well it would work.

On Thursday, Allyson drove into town to hang out. We went and saw “Closer”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0376541/, which was really well-written (the scene between Clive Owen and Natalie Portman in the strip club was pretty ridiculously amazing writing), and followed that with drinking and “Collateral”:http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0369339/ (also very good). It was a good visit, and well timed, because she’s leaving to go to China for eight months on January 13th.

Last night, Beau, Demian and I went to a party somewhere in Austin, thrown by people I’ve met in passing. There were a good number of people I knew there, and for once I had a good time at someone else’s party and got drunk enough to feel crappy in the morning. There was a girl there that we all wanted to hit on, funnily enough, though, she told us that she was a junior at SU when our friend Jonathan – now 26 and married – was a freshman. Which makes her, what… 28? 29? Weird. She was still really cute, although her boyfriend was dullness in a suit.

It seems a little bit like the world is opening up again for me, which is perhaps connected to the fact that I stopped taking Zoloft last week. The medicine seemed to help when I was really down, but it definitely had its side effects, so I’m glad to be out of my supply. There is, of course, a possibility that I may get pretty depressed again in a while, but I’m willing to risk it.

kitty porn!


“In a rare moment of peacefulness, Jackson and Apollonia share the same chair!”

(P.S. Yeah, this is why I kee