Thursday, November 23, 2006

Any man with a microphone can tell you what he loves the most

So, it's Thanksgiving. I hope your holiday is a good one.

I remember having to always talk about things I was thankful for around Thanksgiving. I could never come up with anything. Not because I wasn't thankful for things, but because the things I was thankful for -- my family, my friends -- were so obvious I didn't think it needed to be said.

But sometimes, I guess it does.

I'm thankful for my family. With a few notable exceptions.

I'm thankful for my jobs. Even though I hate -- no, despise -- no, loathe one of them, and the other is (shh, don't tell them) very temporary. I am thankful to finally have a way of pulling in enough money to pay my bills.

I'm thankful for Defiant, my iPod. (Yes, I named it. Not because I wanted to, but because iTunes made me. No, it did.)

I'm thankful for DVDs. I've been watching Firefly all day, a beautitful activity not possible (or at least not convenient) in the days of VHS.

I'm thankful for Wikipedia. Best way to ever kill four hours: wander around the site, hopping from article to article with no plan in mind. Today, I read about hypnosis, Uri Geller, McDonald's, and the Smashing Pumpkins.

I'm thankful for the naive people who continue to allow me (knowingly or otherwise) to use their free internet access.

I'm thankful for the fact that, at least right now, my car is running.

I'm thankful for our Hunter game, even though the last episode really blew and it was all my fault. (I haven't written the recap yet; not because I've been busy, but because the last episode really blew and it was all my fault. But I will.)

I'm thankful for my Vampire game, which has gone on so friggin' long now (just over two years) that the characters all feel like real people. I know Benjamin, Alice, Alice's grandmother, Ashely, Dave, Sahra, Virginia, Poe, little Benjamin, Katherine, Zachary, Jacob, Sandra, Irene, Eric, Eleanor, Duncan, Tara, Night and Darrell better than I know most actual humans. Or would want to, tell you the truth. Bad things are going to happen to several of those characters (especially poor Poe), and I don't want them to. It makes me sad.

I'm thankful my upstairs neighbors haven't vaccuumed yet today. But they will. Oh yes, they will. They started before I finished writing. Bastards.

I'm thankful for the fact that I live in a country where I can't be put in jail for calling President Bush an idiot with his empty, peanut head lodged directly between his buttcheeks. I mean, as long as the Treasury Department doesn't read this. You won't tell them, will you?

I'm thankful for my PlayStation 2. Well, actually, Stephen's PlayStation 2. Mine is sitting unused in the corner. Oh, hell, I'm thankful for mine, too.

But most of all, I'm thankful for you. Yeah, you, the person reading this. I'm thankful for my friends. Yes, I seem to have surrounded myself with a group of people who will sleep through planned activities, or forget about them, or show up two hours late for them with frightening regularity...but I don't know what I'd do without you people.

(Yes, I do, actually. I would've thrown myself off a tall building years ago.)

(I could find a tall building.)

(Obviously, there are none in Dickinson, I know. But I could go somewhere else. And I would have.)

So, as a way of saying thanks to my friends, who are probably creeped out by my sappiness right now, I'm going to give you the best gift I could offer: I'm not going to make you read more of my dreck. I was planning on rewriting my favorite music videos list, the one I did about a year ago, but instead, I just went on YouTube, found the videos, and compiled them here for you. After all, no need for me to tell you why they're great when you can just watch them yourself. Here's the list, though:

1. "Everybody Hurts," R.E.M.
2. "Sledgehammer," Peter Gabriel
3. "Sabotage," Beastie Boys
4. "Criminal," Fiona Apple
5. "Just," Radiohead
6. "Hurt," Johnny Cash
7. "Welcome to the Jungle," Guns N' Roses
8. "Prison Sex," Tool
9. "Billie Jean," Michael Jackson
10. "Jeremy (unedited)," Pearl Jam
11. "The Hardest Button to Button," The White Stripes
12. "Big Me," Foo Fighters
13. "Short Skirt/Long Jacket," Cake
14. "In Bloom," Nirvana
15. "It's Oh So Quiet," Bjork

Watch them if you like.

But seriously, you guys: thanks.

(And if you recognized the lyric in this post's title, score yourself 50 Cool Points. And the first player in my Hunter game to recognize it and tell me about it gets 5 free XP. 'Cause I'm generous like that.)

Friday, November 17, 2006

David Copperfield's sad demise

So here's a confession: when I was ten years old, I wanted to be David Copperfield. You understand, of course, that I mean the magician illusionist, not the Dickens character.

But seriously, wasn't he the coolest guy in the world? Windblown hair, smoke machines everywhere, all the time surrounded by obedient, gorgeous women in tights, watching them gyrate before him while Peter Gabriel played in the background. And then he'd get to shove them in a box or ram a sword through one of them (or both!), and then everyone would clap. Um, yeah, where do I sign up?

And you understand, again, what I'm saying: I didn't want to be a magician when I grew up -- I wanted to be that magician. It didn't occur to me until much, much later that Copperfield was really exactly like every other magician, just on a larger scale. Copperfield was like a rock star magician, in some other class from the losers who did birthday parties and stuff. Forget rabbits and top hats -- he made the friggin' Statue of Liberty disappear!

As I grew older, my idolization of the man declined quite rapidly...a decline that nicely match the decline in quality of his CBS television specials. Oh, the Flying special was fantastic, one of the best hours of TV I've ever seen, but he followed it the next year with the horrendously disappointing Fires of Passion, where his big illusion wasn't even an illusion at all, but some weak escape trick. (I've never liked escapes -- make something disappear, something appear, shrink, teleport, do something that seems somewhat magical; getting out of a straitjacket is just too real to be magic.) And he came back the next year with a goddamn clip show, which was the Jump the Shark moment for sure.

But he came roaring back in 1995, with...Unexplained Forces!

Ho boy.

See, here's the thing, if you never watched a David Copperfield special: the whole show is a series of illusions, all of them working through a theme building to the Big Illusion, the one James Earl Jones will hype in voiceover through the entire hour in between Clorox commercials (in the most bizarre product licensing ever, Copperfield specials were always sponsored by Clorox with Bleach...'cause it makes stains disappear, or something). And the Big Illusion in 1995 had to do with spirits.

Now, this isn't the whole thing -- I remember some really, really bad blue screen effects that shattered all suspension of disbelief and turned the entire program into a laughable joke. But here's the core section, and behold the Lamest Magic Trick Ever.

The question that should flash in the minds of the audience after any magic trick is, "How'd he do that?" That's what happens here, too, except the mind immediately answers it with a question: "Who gives a fuck?" Seriously, throwing newspapers around from behind a curtain? And we know the knots are good and tied perfectly, and that it has to be magic, because of those volunteers! Those are Complete Strangers, just some random audience members he's Never Met Before, and we can tell because they seemingly come from backstage.

(In one of the illusions during the Flying special, Copperfield selected audience members by passing around a bowl full of cotton balls; whoever wound up with a ball with a red dot in it got to join in the illusion. That's bogus, too, but at least it tries to look legit. This is just lame.)

And we've gone from making giant statues and planes and train cars disappear to...this. How fucking sad.

He wouldn't air another special for six years. By the time he did, the Masked Magician had destroyed stage magic for a generation, and Copperfield had to respond by doing David Blaine-like street magic. For a guy whose entire act had relied on smoke machines and Peter Gabriel, this was as disastrous as you'd expect. I think he retreated (in shame) to the Broadway stage after this, where I understand he made (makes?) a lot of money.

But I don't want to be David Copperfield anymore.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Must read. Must read NOW.

If you've ever read an Encyclopedia Brown story in your life, you have to read Adam Cadre's "Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Captured Koala." Actually, if you haven't, it's still really funny.

The Necessity of Living: The Demon Days Soundtrack, Vol. 1

Behold: the official soundtrack to Demon Days, our Hunter game. This is less music from the game (though some of it is) and more music selected because it reminds us of the game. Or something like that. I don't know.

It's a pretty well-established tradition by now: every game I run, I assemble a soundtrack CD for it. The first one was a Vampire soundtrack about four years ago; there's been at least one disc per game ever since (the games that lasted, anyway -- those that made it only to their third or fourth session before being abandoned never got their soundtracks).

I did run into a problem with this soundtrack, though: each major character always gets a theme song, and then I toss in a few Main Themes to round out the disc and stand for the game as a whole. But this time, there just aren't that many major characters. So each of the Hunters now gets two songs.

So, here's your track listing.

1. Main Theme 1: "Gimme Shelter," The Rolling Stones
War, children: it's just a shot away

2. Lucy: "Bad Day," R.E.M.
I sigh, "Not one more…"

3. Dean: "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," Green Day
My shadow's the only one that walks beside me

4. Dan: "Young Pilgrims," The Shins
Fate isn't what we're up against

5. Willem: "Drive In, Drive Out," Dave Matthews Band
Laugh at what I cannot change, then I throw it all on the pyre again

6. Edgar: "All These Things That I've Done," The Killers
You know you got me help me out, yeah, no, don't you put me on the back burner

7. Whole group: "Just Another Day," Oingo Boingo
And just when I think that things are in their place, the heavens are secure, the whole thing explodes in my face

8. Willem: "Better Than You," Metallica
You can't bring me down

9. Edgar: "Everything's Not Lost/Life Is for Living," Coldplay
When I counted up my demons, I saw there was one for every day

10. Dean: "Bring Yourself," Days of the New
The world that you know is the world left behind

11. Lucy: "Sing Along," Blue Man Group w/ Dave Matthews
If I tell you I'm strong, will you play along?

12. Dan: "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," Bob Dylan
Everybody must get stoned

13. Whole group: "Courage," The Tragically Hip
It couldn't come at a worse time

14. Charlie and Rico: "Feel Good Inc.," Gorillaz
We gonna ghost town this Motown

15. Sunday: "Wake Up," The Arcade Fire
We're just a million little gods causing rain storms, turning every good thing to rust

16. Main Theme 2: "Life," Our Lady Peace
It's all messed up, but we'll survive

Monday, November 13, 2006

Random crap while I'm waiting for Steve to get home

I'm waiting for Steve, my roommate, 'cause it's Monday. On Mondays, we either play Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Roleplaying Game (which is...not bad), get out the guitar and play a bunch of songs (we're okay with most stuff, but we fucking rock on some of our Dave Matthews covers -- "Seek Up" especially -- and, of all things, "Hey Jude"), or don't do anything at all because Steve is too tired. Or I'm too tired. One of those. I'm shooting for the second tonight, 'cause I don't have anything to do in the Star Trek game, and I'm not really in a creative mood.

I was working on the new Revolver earlier, and deleted the four pages I wrote, because they were uniformly depressing, pointless, dreary, and just plain awful. But the new episode is coming. Eventually.

Speaking of uniformly depressing, pointless, dreary, and just plain awful, I had orientation for my second job today. Hoo-rah. I keep telling myself that the two jobs won't be that bad, 'cause the new job is only for about three hours a day, and it's only for until January: in that single month, everything I owe money on -- my phone, my computer, and my car -- will be paid off. Which adds up to $660 a month. Ye gods, it will be good to no longer have to pay that.

I tell myself that, and then I go in for orientation today, which was only three hours long, and yet felt like twelve years, and I feel like killing myself.

Hey, remember that Guns N' Roses show I was talking about last week? The one GN'R cancelled because of evil, evil fire marshals that held them to different standards than Clay Aiken? Yeah, I found out why that happened: they weren't allowed to consume alcohol. Not the fans, the band. And not in the dressing rooms, either -- they were prohibited from drinking alcohol on stage. So, they cancelled the show. Axl Rose, ladies and gentlemen.

While I still pledge my allegiance to Lost (and the Dharma Initiative for which it stands), I would just like to say that Heroes is the greatest show EVAR. And, speaking of NBC shows that air on Mondays, an early Christmas miracle has occurred: Studio 60 has, for some wonderful but incomprehensible reason, been picked up for a full season. Oh, Santa -- just what I wanted! 'Cause a full season would give Sorkin a chance to get the handle on the show and work out the kinks. ("Nevada Day, Part I" was a slight improvement over the previous week, but it's still dropped off in quality pretty severely. Oddly enough, step one: give Matthew Perry more screen time. He's somehow the best actor on the show.)

But yeah, Heroes. I've only seen the first three episodes (thanks again to the iTunes store, after giving up on the dull, dull, dull The Nine), but it rocks the hizzouse, friends and neighbors. And if they made the whole show about Hiro and his friend, it would still be awesome.

And Deal or No Deal, which I also saw on NBC on Monday, has absolutely no business being as entertaining as it is. I mean, it's ridiculous, it's stupid, and from where the fuck did they pull Howie Mandel? But I'm a sucker for a well-done game show. And, so help me, it's actually really suspenseful. Though I should note that I have loathed with a frightening passion every single contestant I've seen.

I mentioned Lost up there a few paragraphs ago. It's still the best show on TV, I don't care what you think. So there. I should mention, though, that the writers are dangling right on the precipice of where The X-Files stood at the end of its fourth season: if they don't start answering some of the myriad questions soon -- like, in the next five or six episodes -- it's going to just collapse under its own weight. Because you can string fans along for only so long before they start to become convinced you don't have the answers. Now, I'm sure Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse already know, for instance, who the Others really are, and who Eye-Patch Wearing Man is, and what the Monster is, and just who (or what) the hell Eko was talking to that wasn't his brother. But if they don't start filling those blanks soon, viewers are going to stop caring. I watched it happen with The X-Files; I really, really don't want to watch it happening again.

(But I really do think they know what they're doing. Case in point: in season one, one of the Flight 815 survivors is murdered in the night by the Others, despite the Losties setting up a security perimeter. Locke realizes how they got past -- via the water. I wondered back then how the hell they pulled that off, especially when the only boat you see the Others using is a rickety, loud-as-hell old motorboat. It takes until season three for us to learn: they have a submarine. Continuity, baby!)

(And as for that thing that wasn't Eko's brother, I've got a theory about that, too: it was the Smoke Monster, taking human form. 'Cause, after all, Eko chases "Yemi" into the jungle; Yemi vanishes, and then the Monster appears and thrashes him to death. And Yemi's eyes during their conversation were strangely black. And we know that the Monster has some sort of telepathic ability -- see its first encounter with Eko, when it "scanned" him and displayed images in its smoke...images of Eko's own past. And we know that it can change its appearance, because Locke's original sighting of the creature was far different than everyone else's, and his own thereafter. I love this explanation, not only because it's scary -- the damn monster could be anyone, at any time -- but because it could also explain so much else that's been unexplained: the whispers in the jungle, the boar that tormented Sawyer, Kate's horse, Hurley's imaginary friend, even Jack's father. Booyah!)

And I'm not the only one, but I giggle every time I see a reference to Stephen King on Lost. Not only because I love Stephen King's writing and I feel like I'm sharing in an inside joke, but because I know how much King himself loves Lost. The most perfect King reference so far, aside from the Others' book club reading Carrie, is easily the white rabbit with the blue eight tatooed on its back, an obvious nod to On Writing. I watched that episode at work, and when Ben hauled out the bunny in its cage, I started laughing my ass off, and no one around me understood why. And it would have taken way too long to explain.

It's at moments like those I really feel alone. And like a loser. Which are similar feelings.

Speaking of King, I'm reading his new novel, Lisey's Story. It's certainly much different, but I like it a lot. Certainly better than Cell, which was fun for awhile and then just ran out of steam. King is apparently working on another novel called Duma Key. Yes, this is the same Stephen King who retired two years ago. I'm waiting for another novella collection and a new ABC miniseries (erm, excuse me, "An ABC Original Miniseries Event, A Novel For Television That Could Only Come From The Mind Of Stephen King") any day now.

I never did watch the end of Kingdom Hospital. I don't think I really gave enough of a damn to rent the last DVD. I certainly don't know.

Watch another amazing stream-of-consciousness segue: the main character of Kingdom Hospital was named Dr. Hook, after a band Stephen King apparently likes.

Hey, speaking of Dr. Hook, did you know their most famous song, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," was written by Shel Silverstein? The poet who wrote A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends, two books I worshipped as a kid, wrote "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." And Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue," for which he won a Grammy! Bet you didn't know that. (Bet you didn't care, either, but this is my blog, clown, so my rules.)

If you're still reading, you're a sad person. Not as sad as the one writing it, but sad nevertheless.

If you're still reading, thanks.

Steve's still not here, but all I have left in my head is white noise. So no more from me.

Good lord, this has been a lousy day.

(You remember my obsession with today's date in my earlier post? At orientation, I had to fill out eleventy billion forms, all of which had to dated. 11-13-06, 11-13-06, 11-13-06, 11-13-06, 11-13-06, 11-13-06...over and over. Yeah. Kill myself.)

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 8 -- "Gimme Shelter"

Previously on Demon Days
  • Lucy finally let her boyfriend Brian have it for cheating on her, and, for all intents and purposes, they’ve broken up. They continue to fight with one another, though, as do Lucy and her roommate, Vanessa, the woman Brian was sleeping with.

  • Lucy’s plan to get lots of guns worked. Well, worked in the “they got lots of guns” sense. In the “no one got shot” sense, not so much. Edgar took one to the shoulder, and Dean took one to the arm. Both were very minor injuries, however. But Lucy blamed herself pretty severely.

  • The Hunters have had dealings with a Bazemore cop named Weathers. More disturbing, however, is his partner, Detective Panam, who is in league with the vampires.

  • They’ve also run into Charlie and Rico, two truly annoying mages, more than once. Charlie is obsessed with making awful threats: “That’s a nice [whatever] you’ve got there. Shame if something were to…happen to it.”

  • And finally, Lucy is recovering from an addiction to painkillers. She recently had something of a relapse after getting shot, but gave her pills to Dean.

“Gimme Shelter”

We open with our first-ever Sports Movie Training Montage, set to (what else?) “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. Each of the five Hunters spent at least part of the week since the last episode training with the many guns they acquired. Some were more successful than others, though.

On their way to the meeting at the Drowning Swan, some of the Hunters notice some unusual things. Willem sees that the apartment next to his, which was recently vacated, is already occupied again. Movers are loading furniture and boxes, though the new tenant is not present. Dan has an encounter with his mailman, who is having a terrible day—he drops the mail everywhere, he trips and breaks Dan’s mailbox, and his mail truck stalls when he tries to leave. And Dean almost has to watch another screaming match when Brian shows up at Lucy’s apartment…but he only wants his expensive leather jacket back, and he left it inside. She gives it to him. On the car ride to the bar, Lucy thanks Dean for not saying anything to the others about her drug addiction.

DEAN: It was none of their business.
LUCY: Yeah.
DEAN: I mean, if it were putting them in danger…I probably still wouldn’t tell them.

At the bar, Edgar floats an idea Dean had last week: take down Detective Panam. Various methods for doing this are suggested, and finally it’s decided to use Dan’s ally in the Glenville police department. That cop calls Panam and says a witness wants to meet with him at Waterside Park in Glenville.

As they prepare to leave, Lucy—completely unprompted—blurts out, “I’m a drug addict.” This announcement is met by Willem with what could be considered either blasé acceptance (after all, every one else in the group is an addict of something or other) or callous apathy, depending on one’s point of view. The others hardly even notice, upsetting Lucy a great deal.

The Hunters head to the park to wait him out. On the way there, they buy some walkie-talkies, so they can communicate when split up.

And indeed, they split up on arrival. Dan and Edgar hide under a bridge that runs over a small, shallow pond; Lucy and Dean wait in a playground; and Willem camps in a tree with the group’s sniper rifle. And they wait.

Willem spots several wasps in his tree, and for a moment, is horrified by memories of what Dean told him regarding the wasp-throwing vampire he encountered (“The Sting”)—but there’s merely a wasps’ nest in the tree. He climbs another one.

Under the bridge, Edgar and Dan are accosted by an angry homeless man, who demands change and speaks in gibberish. Fighting with them, the man falls into the pond. Dan pulls the man out, but happens to glance into the water again…and sees two glowing red eyes staring back him. He tries to explain it to Edgar, who doesn’t believe him. But before the conversation can get much further, a giant hulking thing blasts out of the water an races away into the night, moving so quickly neither Hunter gets even a good glance at it. They recognize simply that it’s big.

And at that moment, Detective Panam arrives at the park. He comes alone, and seems to expecting the Hunters. He calls out to them, asking them to come out from their places of hiding. Dean and Lucy do, calling back to him. This provides just enough of a distraction for Willem—he pulls the trigger and plugs a rifle shell into the back of Panam’s head. Just to be safe, Dean takes several shots at the prone cop at close range. Panam is dead.

They quickly leave, hoping no one saw them. And indeed, it appears they get away easily. But shortly thereafter, they notice a big green Cadillac with dark windows following them. To force a confrontation, Willem parks the car outside a bar, but the Cadillac quickly pulls forward after them and blocks them in.

The Hunters (well, most of the Hunters—Dan has passed out in the backseat of the car) get out and wait for someone to get out of the Caddy. But no one does. The car’s windows are tinted completely black, and Dean can’t even use Discern to see through them. He tries knocking on the window, and when that gets no response, hitting the window with a baseball bat, but the swing ricochets off harmlessly and knocks Dean to the ground. He then takes the same baseball bat and uses Cleave to destroy all four tires.

He moves to examine the trunk, but a black tentacle swoops out from under the car, grabs his leg, and tries to yank him under. The tentacle, while it keeps a firm grip on Dean, seems to have little to no physical substance—as though it’s made from smoke, or even…shadow. Dean manages to get away from the thing by removing his pants, but it juts out from the other side of the car and grabs Willem. Lucy severs the arm with Cleave (the part attached to Willem’s leg vanishing instantly), and the car abruptly pulls away, speeding off despite its lack of tires.

Edgar suggests quitting while still ahead, and offers to buy dinner for everyone (his sister, Michelle, gave him a bunch a money, he says, and he’d only spend it on booze). They retire to a nearby diner where they have a friendly discussion. Lucy clarifies her earlier confession, though it’s clear no one in the group is bothered in the slightest. Edgar suggests that everyone disclose some deep, dark secret so Lucy won’t feel left out, but the results (Willem: “I liked Armageddon.”) aren’t really helpful. Edgar tells the group he was born at the Altamont Free Concert on December 6, 1969, the concert that was the basis for the legendary documentary Gimme Shelter. This, of course, would make him just 36 years old, despite appearing about a decade older—“I’ve had a rough couple of years,” he says.

Lucy asks about Edgar’s meeting with Helena, his soon-to-be ex-wife/soon-to-be sister-in-law…

EDGAR: She hates me so much. She gets this look on her face…I swear, I think she wanted to just reach down my throat and yank my skeleton out.
LUCY: Oh, she wouldn’t do that.
LUCY: No. If she took the bones out, it wouldn’t be crunchy. Would it?

After dinner, the gang heads home to yet another (and the last for a while, I promise) Musical Montage, set to Our Lady Peace’s “Life”:

  • Dan arrives home to find his girlfriend, Hannah, waiting for him. She asks where he goes all the time; he answers somewhat truthfully, but doesn’t mention the monsters. She also notices a bullet hole in the fender of his van, apparently received during last week’s shootout. He’s forced to lie about that. But Hannah appears to buy both stories.

  • Dean returns to his apartment alone, but Lucy knocks on his door a few moments later, asking for his help with something.

  • Willem learns the identity of his new neighbor—a gorgeous young woman. He speaks to her briefly.

  • Edgar broods at his sister’s house, surrounded by her menagerie.

  • Vanessa comes back to the apartment to discover why Lucy needed Dean’s help: they’ve taken everything in the place that belonged to Vanessa and thrown it into the hallway.

  • On the balcony, Lucy takes her various keepsakes of Brian, throws them together in a garbage can, and sets them on fire. She also has Dean throw her pills into the flames, along with a bottle of Percoset she herself purchased earlier that week—“But I didn’t take any,” she says, and shows the full bottle as proof. As they watch the items burn, Dean spots a bird land on the railing: it’s white, with a shade of purple on its tail feather. This is the second time he’s seen the bird, but before he can examine it more closely, it flies away again.

As the montage ends, we get our first non-montage cut scene. Brian, alone, drinks away his sorrow in a bar somewhere in Harper Park. He pulls out a cigarette, but when he can’t find a light, a helpful stranger offers one for him.

STRANGER: That’s a nice jacket.
BRIAN: Thanks.
STRANGER: Shame if something were to…happen to it.

Storyteller’s notes: This game was supposed to be a bit longer, but one of our players (I won’t say which, but careful reading of the synopsis should reveal it quite plainly) fell asleep a few times, so I cut it short.

Next week’s episode…doesn’t have a title quite yet.

Remember, remember, the 13th of November

On this day in 1002, the King of England decreed that all Danes in his lands should be exterminated. I don't know if this included Great Danes.

On this day in 1838, Joseph Smith -- founder of the Church of Mormon -- was born.

On this day in 1887, a massive riot between demonstrators and London police occurred, a clash later to be named "Bloody Sunday."

On this day in 1903, Camille Pissaro died.

On this day in 1947, Joe Mantegna was born.

On this day in 1956, the Montgomery Bus Boycott ended.

On this day in 1970, the Bhola Cyclone ran into Bangladesh, killing half a million people in one night.

On this day in 1971, the Mariner 9 probe achieved orbit over Mars, becoming the first spacecraft to orbit another planet.

On this day in 1990, the World Wide Web began.

On this day in 1991, the Disney masterpiece Beauty and the Beast, still the only animated film to ever receive a nomination for Best Picture, opened in theaters. It would later lose that honor to The Silence of the Lambs, still the only film featuring a cannibal and a tranvestite to win Best Picture.

On this day in 2001, President George W. Bush issued an executive order that allowed for military tribunals against any foreigner suspected of being connected to terrorist acts or of planning terrorist attacks against the United States (or, pretty much, whoever they wanted).

On this day in 2002, Cheryl Ann Walker began complaining of a headache in her office. She began behaving irrationally, so her coworkers called her sister to come take her home. (They would have simply sent her home by herself, but her son had her car.) Shortly after her sister's arrival, however, Cheryl collapsed, and had to be rushed to the emergency room. There she was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. The aneurysm would later rupture, leading to vasospasm and stroke.

I remember the doctor telling me she'd be in recovery for about a month. As of today, it's been four years. Since the stroke, she can't talk. She can't walk. Her right side is paralyzed. She's confined to a nursing home in League City, which is hardly a Grand Palace for the Infirm.

And I remember the last thing she said to me, the last real thing she ever said, before they wheeled her away for surgery, before the vasospasm and the stroke took away her speech. The last thing she said:

"I told you I was sick."


Ha ha ha.


My mother: master of gallows humor. See, she always had a headache. And now, after all these years, she was finally proven right.

"I told you I was sick." I'm beside myself with fear and misery, they're gonna take her off for like eighty hours of surgery, and she cracks a joke.

God, I love her.

But I'm in a foul mood today, boys and girls.

If you can think of anything to cheer me up, now's the time.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm guessing Bush won't cancel a vacation for this one, either

So, check this out:

That's a photo of a massive hurricane ripping across the surface of Saturn. Yeah, Saturn. It's thousands of miles wide, and has winds of nearly 350 miles an hour, making it roughly a Category-9.

But the coolest part? The scientists don't even know what the hell it is. 'Cause it doesn't act like a hurricane. It's just sitting there, like a giant hole in the planet.

Awesome! God, I love science.

Also, drinking Coke and eating Mentos at the same time won't kill you. So there goes that assassination plan harmless prank.

*crumples paper*

Thursday, November 09, 2006

You gotta love these

Check out the trailer for Mike Judge's new corporate thriller, Office Space.

In other news, doctors say that cancer may lead to health problems

So, you're never going to believe this, but Guns N' Roses -- who are touring to support that new album of theirs, the one Axl's been making for a decade, and it's coming out just any day now, this year, no really, I mean it, 2006, no later, absolutely, you got it, for serious -- cancelled a show last night:

Monday night's show at the Cumberland County Civic Center has been cancelled due to limitations imposed by local fire marshals.

A band spokesperson commented, "Axl and the band are very unhappy about not being able to play for the fans in Portland but have been advised after several meetings with local fire marshals Nelson Collins and Bob Cadigan that they have made it impossible for the band to perform their show to the usual high standards that their fans deserve.

"More importantly, we have been informed that officials intend to enforce rules and regulations that should not and do not apply in this venue. Our production manager and crew have been in this building with Clay Aiken and Green Day and none of the restrictions imposed on Guns N’ Roses were experienced by those artists...."
And I know that it had to be for a really good reason. I mean, those vicious fire marshalls! Damn them and their puritanical insistence on treating a Clay Aiken concert differently than a Guns N' Roses show! I bet Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond don't have to put up with the same kind of crap Axl does, either! He's so misunderstood!

I remember back in 1992, Metallica and Guns N' Roses were touring together. At one stop in Montreal, both bands cut their sets short, leading to a rather decent-sized riot.

See, Axl had a sore throat. And his monitors weren't working all that well. So, obviously, you should just stroll off stage, right? I mean, what else is he supposed to do? Keep playing?

Metallica's monitors were working just fine. But they just didn't the point in continuing the show after their lead singer was swallowed by fire. Those Metallica boys -- such wusses!

Speaking of stupid people and fire, Donald Rumsfeld was quite unceremoniously dispatched yesterday. Of course, the Emperor of Ice-Cream, at his press conference yesterday, pretty much said he'd been planning to do this anyway, it had nothing to do with the "thumpin'" the Republicans took in the midterms. And this (obviously, and nobody can be surprised by this kind of crap from Bush anymore) directly contradicts what he'd been saying before the election: he swore up and down that he was keeping Rummy, he wasn't going anywhere, not for two years, no sir! Which forced Republican nominees to defend Rumsfeld, which probably hurt them in the voting. Good job, Jackass! You're ruined the country, now you've ruined your own party! What's next? Your religion?

Oh, and why did he lie? Why he did tell people he wasn't going to get rid of Rumsfeld, when he knew that he was? Why? Because he wanted to use Rumsfeld like a sacrifical lamb to the masses in the event the GOP got their asses kicked, to make it look like he was willing to compromise?

Well, yeah, Georgie. But what did he say was the reason?

He didn't want to influence the election.


He's not even trying anymore, is he?

(And did I set some sort of record for sarcastic italics is this post, or what?)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Democrats take Montana! Probably Virginia! Rumsfeld resigns! Bush cranky, whiny, lying and bitter!

...Huh. Handled all that one in the title.



Dems take House; Senate hangs on 2 neck-and-neck races

(CNN) -- Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in a dozen years, but the crucial question of which party will run the Senate hung Wednesday morning on neck-to-neck contests in Montana and Virginia.

Democratic challengers have picked up four seats in the Senate, according to CNN projections. Republicans would need to take just one of the two remaining competitive races to keep control of the chamber.

Democratic Senate candidates won in Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Ohio, as well as independent Senate candidates Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Joe Lieberman in Connecticut -- who are expected to vote with the Democrats.

But in Montana, the race between Republican Sen. Conrad Burns and state Sen. Jon Tester is too close to call, although Tester shows a razor-thin lead. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Tester leads by fewer than 2,000 votes.

If Tester wins, Democrats could secure Senate control by winning in Virginia, where embattled Republican Sen. George Allen trailed his Democratic challenger, Jim Webb, by fewer than 6,000 votes out of more than 2.3 million counted.


I mean--


Fuck off, clowns. Don't let the door hit in the ass on the way out.

It has been a GOOD WEEK, hasn't it, folks? Well, it has for me. After months of searching, I finally managed to secure a second job yesterday; I've been looking everywhere for my birth certificate so I could get a new social security card, and I found it yesterday.

I've never been in this happy a mood for this long. It's just not natural, dammit.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Demon Days: Season 1, Episode 7 -- "Green"

Previously on Demon Days…
  • Sunday turned Edgar into a frog, in retribution for his drunken verbal and physical assault. The Hunters managed, just barely, to change him back before the midnight deadline that would have made it permanent—a princess had to kiss the frog, and Lucy was apparently good enough.

  • Dan missed the adventure. Lucy talked to him beforehand, and she told everyone he said he had the flu.

  • Charlie and Rico—well, Charlie—tried to help. But in the end, the Hunters didn’t need their assistance. And Charlie and Rico really, really don’t like Sunday for some reason.

  • Lucy still managed to avoid having the inevitable fight with her cheating boyfriend, Brian, or her roommate, Vanessa, with whom Brian is sleeping.


As it turns out, Dan didn’t have the flu. He was sick—but mainly, he was just pissed at Dean. But two days have passed, and he’s feeling a lot better. He’s received an insurance check for the van that was “stolen” (filled with combustibles and driven into a vampire den: “You’re No Fun Anymore”) and replaced it…and who should he find inspecting its shiny goodness but Charlie and Rico. They do their Dino and Luigi bit a little again (“It’s a nice van you’ve got here.” “Stop that!”), but quickly get down to their purpose. They give Dan a heavily abridged version of the frog incident, pumping up Sunday’s malevolence and the benefit of their assistance, and again give their directive to get away from her. Apparently, this isn’t the first time Sunday’s turned someone who angered her into an animal of some kind—birds, snakes, fish, whatever comes to mind...and apparently, she did it once to Rico.

CHARLIE: “She turned him into a newt!”
DAN: “A newt?”
RICO: “Yeah!” [pause] “I got better.”

Fortunately, the two brothers make a quick exit. As they’re leaving, Lucy calls Dan to plan another group meeting that night at the bar. Dan agrees to be there.

Meanwhile, Dean is settled into his new apartment. (He was sleeping on Lucy’s couch; now he’s moved out to the closest available apartment: two doors down from her.) He decides to head for the batting cages to work on his swing, and on the way out he runs into Lucy. She’s waiting for the elevator and listening to her iPod—“Simon and Garfunkel,” she says; “some of the gloomiest music ever recorded.”

When Dean returns, he’s joined in the elevator by a tall, athletic guy he’s never seen before. The man’s phone rings, to the tune of Jay-Z’s “Dirt off Your Shoulder.” When the elevator reaches Dean’s floor, Lucy is once again outside waiting for it, and Dean learns the identity of his fellow passenger—it’s Brian, Lucy’s boyfriend. She’s stunned to see him here, as she hasn’t seen him in weeks.

BRIAN: “I came to see my girlfriend.”
LUCY: “You mean me?”
BRIAN: “Who else would I mean?”
LUCY: “I don’t know. How many girlfriends do you have in this building?”

Dean pushes past them, sensing the long-built-up argument coming and wanting no part of it. But once in his apartment, he realizes he needs food—Lucy’s given him permission to raid her fridge whenever he needs to. So he heads to her apartment where, indeed, she and Brian have started their fight.

BRIAN: “If you want to accuse me of something, don’t sit there inferring [sic] it, just do it. Don’t beat around the bush with your passive-aggressive—
LUCY: “Are you sleeping with Vanessa?”
BRIAN: “…I didn’t think you were actually going to do it.”

Dean makes his food and soon draws the ire of Brian, who demands to know who this strange man is, who’s entering her apartment without knocking and eating her food without asking. Brian, apparently a ginormous hypocrite, accuses Lucy of cheating on him with Dean. (“I wish,” Dean thinks but does not say.) Lucy throws Brian out of the apartment, and she and Dean prepare to leave.

At the bar, the band is back together again and united for a single purpose: teasing Edgar as much as possible for his frog adventure. (The jokes are fast and furious, but my favorite is probably Willem asking him, with solemnity: “So: was it easy being green?”) Once that passes—well, at least, slows down—they discuss their next move. Taking out Detective Panam is suggested, but there is uneasiness at the idea of taking down a cop, even a crooked one working for the vampires. But both Willem and Lucy have the same idea: pile up lots of guns. Willem suggests waiting for the gun show happening in a few weeks; Lucy suggests getting them right now. From where? “The only people I know of,” she says, “who have those kinds of weapons…are drug dealers.” All eyes turn to Dan.

Dan calls a few people, contacts leading to other contacts, and eventually gets a weapons dealer named Jack on the phone. Jack tells him he has the kind of stuff they need, and gives them complicated directions to get to his house—it involves parking one’s vehicle in one place and walking through a darkened field for about half a mile. The gang stops to pick up a large chunk of the money Sunday gave them and heads off.

As they trudge through said field, the Hunters spot a group of shambling zombies in a nearby drainage ditch. The walking corpses are quickly and mercilessly dispatched. The journey continues.

(I break in here to assure you that the scene with the zombies, while it probably seemed as such at the time, was not mere pointless filler. It actually is important, just not until a later episode. We now return to our recap, already in progress.)

They arrive at their destination: a large barn. Inside they meet Jack, a man in his sixties who sports long green hair. He shows off his large collection of weapons, and the Hunters make many, many purchases. Jack also reveals that forcing them to walk through that field was merely a test, to make sure they were serious. He gives Dan directions on how to get to the front of his house, so they don’t have to carry hundreds of pounds of guns half a mile back to their van. (Of course, they can just throw them all into Dean’s magical bag, but Jack doesn’t know that.)

Once Dan returns with the van, the Hunters start loading up the gear. They give Jack the money and he’s in the middle of telling them what a wise choice they made coming to him when a group of angry Crips shows up. Jack assures the Hunters that he sold them quality merchandise, and the Crips are probably just angry that he also sold a large amount of weapons to their rivals. And sure enough, another few carloads of gangsters pull up, and the gangs start shooting at each other.

Jack runs, and the Crips start chasing him down and shooting, too. The Hunters get caught in the middle, and Dan almost gets his head blown off. He returns fire.

In the shootout, the Hunters take out three of the gang members, Edgar gets a minor gunshot wound in this chest, and Dean—pushing Willem out of the way—takes a very minor wound in the right arm. With Jack gone, Dean throws all the ammo he can find into the bag, and the Hunters jump into the van and speed toward the hospital. On the way there, Edgar calls his not-yet-ex-wife and tells her that he’s been shot.

Once there, Dean and Edgar are treated. Lucy is beside herself with guilt—this was her idea, so she thinks she’s responsible. Everyone else seems to find the entire situation amusing, but she’s stricken with remorse. She leaves, saying, “If anyone thinks of an idea that won’t get one of us shot, you know where to find me.”

Which leads to our very first end-of-House-episode Musical Montage, set to Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy in New York.” (The gloomiest music imaginable.) Dean tries Lucy out of her guilt, to no avail. Dan and Willem head to get some food, stopping on the way in the hospital gift shop to buy something for Edgar (if you don’t already know it’s a frog of some kind, shame on you). And Edgar has an angry confrontation with his wife, regarding her upcoming marriage to his brother. “What can he give you that I can’t?” She starts to answer, but he cuts her off. “What? Fidelity? Honesty? Sobriety? Security? Stability?” “I was going to say ‘love.’ But your stuff is good, too.”

Storyteller’s notes: As I said before, all of the stuff with the guns was meant to take place last week, with the frog episode this week. Without the frog backstory, the episode would have been much darker. But I think it turned out just fine this way.

This week’s episode: “Gimme Shelter.”

Friday, November 03, 2006


You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Quizzes are fun.

Speaking of fun -- Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazahkstan is absolutely fucking hilarious, and you should rush out and see it as soon as possible.

My at-work nemesis, who as remained nameless on these pages and will stay so, is leaving in two weeks, banished to Wal-Mart, where we'll all end up working in ten years or so. But HE'S GONE IN TWO WEEKS. NO MORE HELL! I AM FREE!

And I know I said great things about Scrubs yesterday, but seriously, where has this show been all my life? I must pay special attention to the episode "My Bed Banter & Beyond," which is one of the most marvelously crafted half-hours of television I've ever seen. How a show like that can manage to be so funny and yet so sad, so goofy and yet so poignant, I can't understand. And it seems so effortless, too -- and I hope the show's music supervisor is driving a Ferrari or something, because I've never seen music used as effectively on television before.

As proof of that last statement, I found this on YouTube: a sequence from an episode in the most recent season (five?) that uses the Fray's "How to Save a Life." It almost makes me bawl my eyes out every time.

*sniffle* I love this show.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I never do these

I don’t know why. But hey, I’m in a stupid-happy mood. Why the hell not?

(I completely ripped this off, by the way. But I think that’s what you’re supposed to do with these things. *shrug* Don’t ask me, I just work here.)


Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
Put it on shuffle
Press play
For every question, type the song that's playing
When you go to a new question, press the next button
Don't lie and try to pretend you're cool...

Opening credits: “Miller’s Angels,” Counting Crows
Only a movie about me (or made by me, or both) would have opening credit music that is depressing beyond your ability to comprehend.
“Miller’s fingers are traveling down the length of her thigh, but Miller’s mind is still wandering, staring up at the sky.”

Waking up: “Underneath It All,” Nine Inch Nails
I’m apparently waking up to go do some heroin. Or to work in Metropolis.
“Kill my brain, yet you still remain.”

First day at school: “Glorified G,” Pearl Jam
Um, wow. That does remind me of high school. Going to school in Texas will do that for you.
“Got a gun—in fact I’ve got two, but that’s okay, man, ‘cause I love God.”

Puppy love: “Space Rock,” Weezer
Man, nobody in the world does puppy love songs better that Weezer.
“It’s a game, and you play, but you can’t have fun when all they do is say lies.”

Fight song: “Somewhere,” Soundgarden
Every fight should have Chris Cornell screaming in the background.
“I tried to try, and I lived to live, but I died to die, and I cried to cry.”

Breaking up: “Welcome to the Jungle,” Guns N’ Roses
What a bizarre breakup that would have to be. It certainly has the screaming part down right.
“You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby—you’re gonna die…”

Prom: “Love in Vain,” The Rolling Stones
Oh, how gloriously appropriate. I can totally see a prom montage to this song—the happy people, those bastards, dancing with the other happy people; the people like me huddled together in groups on the sidelines, clustered for support, but too depressed to even speak to one another. (Of course, I didn’t go to my prom, which shouldn’t surprise anyone reading this. I was out of town, that’s my defense, but let’s face it—I wouldn’t have gone, anyway.)
“It’s hard to tell, it’s hard to tell when all your love’s in vain.”

Life is good: “Emaline,” Ben Folds Five
This is a surprisingly chipper song. Yet another one I can see a great scene to, especially after the prom montage: all those depressed people throwing off the goofy-looking prom clothes and running around doing stupid, goofy crap like geeks.
“I’ll tell you what—I really shouldn’t sit here and whine.”

Driving: “Every Little Thing,” The Beatles
I actually listen to the Beatles constantly while I’m driving. My iPod is reading the categories of the questions here. It’s gaining sentience!
“Every little thing she does, she does for me, yeah.”

Flashback: “What’s Left for Me?” Days of the New
And more gloom rears its ugly head once again. This would be appropriate music for a flashback to some of my more unpleasant childhood memories. Or pretty much the last half of the 90s.
“Remember a time when time was a friend, and you could make it lend you a hand? Now there’s a place where taking takes place, and time just gets in your way.”

True love: “Say Goodbye,” Dave Matthews Band
Hahaha! Perfect! This is a live version, and Dave can barely remember the lyrics. Which is certainly appropriate for true love, isn’t it? Certainly is for me.
“Taking a secret, carry it away like a treasure we hid, and away from here…oh, and tomorrow, we go back to being friends. Tomorrow, we’ll go back, but tonight let’s be lovers.”

Wedding: “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” Led Zeppelin
Man, everyone must be getting absolutely hammered at that wedding. The only way this makes sense is if it’s someone else’s wedding. Then…then, yeah, it makes sense.
“When you hear me moaning and groaning, you know it hurts me deep down inside.”

Moment of triumph: “Right Through You,” Alanis Morissette
This song is exactly the one I’ll play to all the people who’ve made fun of me once I get rich and famous and successful. Well, the last verse, anyway.
“Hello, Mister Man. You didn’t think I’d come back. You didn’t think I’d show up with my army and this ammunition on my back. And now that I’m Miss Thing, now that I’m a zillionaire, you scan the credits for your name and wonder why it’s not there.”

Death scene: “Never is a Promise,” Fiona Apple
Oh good lord, is my movie depressing. Fiona is not exactly Queen Joy to begin with, and this is one of her more melancholy songs. How appropriate for a death scene, then.
“You’ll say you’d never let me fall from hopes so high, but never is a promise, and you can’t afford to lie.”

Funeral: “Pyramid Song,” Radiohead
A song that’s actually about a funeral, in a manner of speaking. My iPod is scaring the crap out of me.
“All my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures. And we all went to heaven in a little rowboat. And there was nothing to fear, nothing to doubt.”

End credits: “A Message,” Coldplay
And everyone returns to their cars after the funeral, starting to smile again. ‘Cause life goes on, you know? And the movie somehow ends on something of an upbeat note.
“And I’m not gonna stand and wait. Not gonna leave it ‘til it’s much too late. On a platform, I’m gonna stand and say that I’m nothing on my own, and I love you—please, come home.”

Well, that was fun. A second pass was just as fun, though I wouldn’t have picked Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” for the “Life is good” selection. And my iPod had the balls to give me blink-182’s “I Miss You” for “True love.” Nice.

Happiness is...

…still more opinions on “Halloween,” and the consensus continues to be overwhelmingly positive. Apparently, as the episodes have gotten longer (episode 1: 15 pages; episode 9: 60 pages), they’ve gotten better. I was told the last three episodes were extremely good, and also that I “shamed myself” with the first eight episodes, because the ninth was so much better. *blush* Aw, gee, you guys. (It’s also been brought to my attention that one of my readers will consider Revolver “dead to [him]” if Angela and Jason ever get together. He was immediately assured that “hope” is not in my vocabulary.)

…last night’s episode of Lost, which is still the best show on television, no matter what some other people might think. And next week is the mini-season finale, which will probably leave me cackling with glee and screaming in agony. Par for the course for Lost, really.

…the super-cheap copies of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and Harlan Ellison’s Strange Wine I found at Half-Price Books, which is still the best store in the world.

…Maynard James Keenan breaking down and releasing the actual lyrics to “The Pot,” one of the better tracks on the most recent Tool album. I can now state with confidence that I was totally wrong about pretty much every word that comes out of his mouth. (“Weeping shades of cozened indigo,” indeed.)

The Prestige, which was a fantastic movie. I got a little ahead of it toward the end, but it doesn’t matter—an extremely well-written, acted, and directed picture. One of the best of the year.

…the first season of Scrubs, which I’ve been watching recently. What a fantastic show! And I never seen a comedy quite as gloomy as that one, which is probably one of the biggest reasons I like it so much. I can’t believe I’ve gone this long without seeing it.

…our Hunter game, Demon Days, which I think is running along quite well. I’ll recap last night’s episode tomorrow, but it was fun—and I got to use my first (of probably many) end-of-episode musical montages, just like on House!

…and that’s pretty much it. Wow: I’m in quite a good mood.

That should be wrecked just about any second now.