Saturday, June 30, 2007

Also, I know perfectly well that putting a steak on a black eye doesn't do anything

The Tragically Hip rarely play one of their best songs, "38 Years Old," in concert. The reason is simple: it's about a young man who escapes from prison and hides with his family. Gordie wrote the song in first person from the perspective of the man's little brother, and used the name of his real older brother as the convict's name. So everyone assumed that it was a true story, and his family started getting harassed, so they pretty much stopped playing the song.

It's a fact of writing anything that people assume everything is true, or at least based on truth, no matter how you write it. So, with that in mind, I give you this disclaimer -- Patrick's long, angry tirade against marching band in the brand-new episode of That's When I Reach for My Revolver, is not how I personally feel. Not anymore. Ten years ago, maybe. But not anymore.

How about that subtle advertisement, huh?

Also, those who've heard me talk about this episode while I've been writing it might notice the title -- "Tougher Than It Is" -- is not the original one. This is actually the normal way it goes -- my titles change about five times during the writing of an episode. This is the one that stuck.

I ask you nicely to read the episode, and tell everyone you know -- yeah, everyone, and even find some random strangers and tell them, too -- to do the same. And then, when you're done, you can watch the opening scene from Angela's favorite movie.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to introduce you to the 27th member of Major League Baseball's 3,000 hit club:

Readers, Biggio. Biggio, readers.

On my short list of baseball heroes, Craig Biggio is one of the more important names. (You think it's an accident Cali's cat in Revolver is named Biggio?) Oddly enough, he scored his first hit 130 19 years ago against one of the other important names on that list, Orel Hersheiser. (Orel was my first baseball hero, when he pitched for the Dodgers during that magical 1988 season.) And now he's racked up 2999 more, and here's the truly extraordinary part -- he did it all with the same team. No big-money free agent contracts, no angrily demanding a trade, even though he played his first eight or nine seasons with a team that was mediocre at best. He stuck with the Astros, and did everything the team asked of him. If they wanted him to play second base, he'd do that. If they wanted him to play center field, he'd do that. If they wanted to put a flagpole and a hill in center field, he'd deal with that, too. And he did it all with more class than you typically see from a modern athlete. Craig Biggio never "beefed" with anybody. Biggio's never had a feud. To my knowledge, Craig Biggio has never had an argument with anyone. He's the nicest, most laid-back baseball player I've ever seen.

And his 3000th hit was typical of his style. It drove in a run to tie the game. Biggio tried to stretch it into a double, as per usual, and was thrown out easily -- the wheels don't turn like they used to. But within moments, he found himself mobbed by his teammates, embraced by his wife and daughter, and thunderously cheered by the faithful at Minute Maid. (The Astros are thirteen games under .500, yet sold out a weeknight game against Colorado. If you don't think all 42,537 fans were there to see Biggio, you're crazy.) But Biggio saw something was missing, and fixed it right away -- he dragged, almost literally, his longtime friend and teammate Jeff Bagwell onto the field to join the celebration. Bags, a preternaturally shy and withdrawn guy, didn't want to come out; he was happy staying on the bench. But Biggio knew the moment wasn't complete without him, so he dragged his suit-wearing buddy out onto the infield grass, and raised their arms in victory.

I won't lie to you: I got a little choked up.

I realize that this is probably Biggio's final season. And also that, with the team struggling, Biggio's bat and speed not what it once was, and the milestone recorded, his playing time is going to take a sharp dive. In a way, this was kind of like a retirement party. It warmed my heart, and this season has been a cold, bitter chill.

My favorite Biggio memory is from way back in 1999. The final regular season game at the Astrodome. I was there with Steve, my mom and my sister -- great seats in the left-field bleachers. If the Astros won that day (against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- there they are again!), they'd clinch the NL Central Division. And sure enough, they walked away with it, 9-5, and the big banner was rolled out and the Astrodome turned into a party. And as the final out was recorded, a big wagon gate opened in the center field fence, and Biggio rode across the Astroturf on a massive motorcycle, cigar clenched between his teeth, as his teammates mobbed the field and the crowd cheered themselves delirious. It was extraordinary.

So thanks for the memories, Craig. We'll be waiting for you in Cooperstown.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Oh, and my helmet. And the ball. And if I happen to be wearing gloves at the time, those, too.

Barry Bonds, outfielder/douchebag for the San Fransisco Giants -- you may have heard of him -- has "changed his stance" on donating items to the Hall of Fame. See, they want to have some memorabilia regarding his upcoming home run record, but Barry -- being Barry -- always told them to go fuck off.

But he's singing a different tune now! Listen to this overflowing generosity: "All I want is the shoes, the bat, the jersey, and the pants. They can have everything else."


(You gotta read the story, too. Bonds -- you'll never believe this -- comes off as an arrogant fuckass.)

You look like a monkey, and smell like one, too

My favorite Wikipedia articles are the ones that list the history for a single calendar day; every significant event, every important birth, every famous death, all listed on one page. It's fun, and strangely fascinating.

For example, on this day, June 26th, we find the following interesting events:
  • This was supposedly the day the Pied Piper used his pipe to lure the children away from the town of Hamelin, because the greedy assholes who lived there wouldn't pay him for getting rid of the rats. Bastards. (1284)
  • The bicycle was patented. (1819)
  • Christmas became a federal holiday in America, the only religious holiday to gain such treatment. You'd think that violates the first amendment, which states that Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, but actually...well, no, it does, doesn't it? (1870)
  • The first practical helicopter took its first flight. It was called, no kidding, the Fucke-Wulf. Which is way cooler than Airwolf. (1934)
  • The United Nations Charter was signed. (1945)
  • John F. Kennedy delivered his famous "I am a doughnut" speech in Berlin. (1963)
  • The UPC was scanned for the first time. (1974)
  • Toronto's CN Tower was opened. This would later show up in the background of an early episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, as an image of an alien city. Well, it is in Canada. (1976)
  • On this day, the Supreme Court gets a little sexy. In 1997, they ruled the Communications Decency Act was unconstitutional, giving hope for internet pornographers everywhere. And in 2003, they overturned sodomy laws.
Cool, huh?

So to which notable people should we say "Happy Birthday" to today?
  • Abner Doubleday, the father of baseball.
  • Lord Kelvin, the physicist after whom the Kelvin scale is named.
  • Peter Lorre, an actor. He was in Casablanca, but I first became familiar with him because the Looney Tunes would impersonate him at every opportunity. He's got a distinctive voice.
  • Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis's manager.
  • John Beasley, an actor you've never heard of -- he played the security guard in Little Big League, the one who helps the team fool Ken Griffey, Jr. with the most elaborate hidden ball trick ever conceived.
  • Mark McKinney, one of the Kids in the Hall. (He played the Chicken Lady.)
  • Richard Garfield, the guy who created Magic: The Gathering.
  • Colin Greenwood, Radiohead's bass player.
  • Chris O'Donnell, an actor whose career was one of the several destroyed by Batman & Robin.
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the best filmmakers in America. He wrote and directed Boogie Nights, Punch-Drunk Love, and, most importantly, the glorious Magnolia, for which he will always be my hero. (He apparently has a new movie coming out this year or next.)
  • Derek Jeter, New Yankees shortstop/douchebag.
  • Jason Schwartzman, the star of Rushmore and I Heart Huckabees.
  • Michael Vick, quarterback/dog fighting promoter.
Oh, and me. Yay me. Though I'm only notable in the sense that this is my blog, and I decide who is notable. Your not-so-humble author is, therefore, notable. So there.

(Of course, my friends have far more interesting birthdays than me. Like René, who has the eruption of Vesuvius, the first Gutenberg Bible, the British torching of the White House, Pete Rose's ban from baseball, and the births of Jorge Luis Borges, Yasser Arafat and Vince McMahon. You suck.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

A cool story, to wipe out of the horrible taste of the last one

'Cause I need it.

It's old people who still know how to ROKK. And no, I'm not talking about Paul McCartney:
Fred Knittle wears his belt up high. His nose is tethered to an oxygen tank, and on stage he's confined to a folding chair. From this unlikely perch, he's turning rock 'n' roll on its head.

Singing Coldplay's Fix You, Knittle transforms the song into a powerful ballad about a grandfather's healing wisdom. It means something different coming from an 80-year-old retiree suffering from congestive heart failure.

Knittle is a singer for the Young@Heart Chorus, whose members range from 73 to 92 years old. Singing songs they shouldn't even know, at an age when they're expected to be sitting quietly somewhere, they subvert all accepted notions of old and young.

Songs by bands like the Radiohead, OutKast and Nirvana take on a new dimension when performed by these 23 foot-stomping senior citizens. Fix You or the Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go become about life and death.

Though little known in America, the Northampton-based Young@Heart has performed from Australia to London, serenaded the king and queen of Norway, been discussed on The Daily Show, and been documented in an acclaimed film for British television. They're now recording an album tentatively titled Rockin' At Heaven's Door.

It may sound like a gimmick, but Young@Heart is no karaoke act. They're a cover band for the ages.
That's the coolest thing ever, huh? The story says they do a version of Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees," which must be unbelievably moving: a lyric like "I can't help the feeling/That I could blow through the ceiling/If I could just turn and run" would just destroy me coming from the mouth of an eighty-year-old. It's devastating enough from Thom Yorke.

And speaking of Paul McCartney, have you heard that new single of his? Yucky, yucky. All he's been through, all he's seen, and he all he come up with to say is "Everybody gonna feel all right/Everybody gonna dance around tonight"? You did write "Eleanor Rigby" and "Hey Jude," didn't you, Paul? What the hell?

No no no no no no


Dammit, no:
Wrestling star Chris Benoit, his wife, Nancy, and their 7-year-old son Daniel were found dead in their suburban Atlanta home Monday. The deaths are being investigated as a possible suicide and double homicide, authorities told ABC News.

Lt. Tommy Pope of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department told ABC News that Benoit had missed several appointments over the weekend, leading concerned parties to ask police to do a "welfare check." When sheriffs arrived at the Benoits' home, they found the wrestler, his wife, and their son dead.

There were no signs of gunshot wounds or stabbing, according to Pope. Authorities are not ruling out other causes, such as poisoning, suffocation, or strangulation. Pope told ABC News that his department is looking at this situation as a "possible double murder, suicide."

Pope said "the instruments of death were located on scene," but would not specify what those instruments are or where in the house the bodies were found. Pope added the department is "not actively searching for any suspects outside of the house."

An autopsy has been scheduled for Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. However, it could be weeks before there is a result.

Benoit, 40, was scheduled to spar against C.M. Punk in a pay-per-view event Sunday night in Houston for the Extreme Champion Wrestling title. But Benoit canceled before the event, citing personal reasons.

A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Benoit was known in the ring as the "Canadian Crippler."

Following the announcement of the deaths, World Wrestling Entertainment issued a statement: "Chris was beloved among his fellow superstars, and was a favorite among WWE fans for his unbelievable athleticism and wrestling ability. He always took great pride in his performance, and always showed respect for the business he loved, for his peers and towards his fans. This is a terrible tragedy and an unbearable loss. WWE extends its sincere condolences and prayers to the Benoit family and loved ones in this time of tragedy."


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 6/24/07

1. "High and Dry," Radiohead
From The Bends, which was the last album Radiohead recorded as simply a rock band. After this, they moved into a mansion and recorded the greatest rock album of the last forty years, OK Computer, and have spent the last decade constantly reinventing themselves. Listening to this song -- which was a moderate hit -- up against the later Radiohead material is pretty jarring; it's often hard to believe that this came from the same band that would give us "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box." But there you go.

2. "The Crane Wife 3," The Decemberists
Holy cow, do I love the Decemberists. If you haven't heard them, their sound is a little hard to describe -- it's sort of alternative folk rock, a glorious indie mash-up of progressive rock and twangy folk, with lyrics that make it sound like a cut from a musical theater troupe somewhere. Each song tells a story, whether it's about a government worker in love with a spy ("The Bagman's Gambit"), a pair of star-crossed lovers ("O Valencia!"), a pirate seeking justice ("The Mariner's Revenge Song," one of the greatest songs I've ever heard), or this one -- an old Japanese folk tale about a poor man overcome and undone by his own greed. Consider this my weekly "If you haven't heard this band, get off your ass and do it now!" entry.

3. "Guerrilla Radio," Rage Against the Machine
This is my favorite Rage song. I remember how awed I was by the lyrics when I first heard the track during the election season of 2000: "More for Gore, or the son of a drug lord?/None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord!" Unfortunately, this song was from their last studio effort (not counting their album of covers), and the group disbanded. Too bad.

4. "Make Your Own Kind of Music," Mama Cass Elliot
Okay, I can explain this one: it's a Lost thing. This song has been used several times in the show, almost always in connection to Desmond. So I downloaded it. It's a pretty catchy tune. And by the way, Mama Cass didn't choke to death on a ham sandwich. Just to try to put that rumor to bed.

5. "Time of the Season (live)," Dave Matthews Band
Dave probably would have been better suited for this Zombies cover about ten years ago. But the constant touring has not been kind to his voice, and it clearly struggles with the high-pitched vocal required here. But it's worth listening to for Butch Taylor's beautiful organ solo. Butch!

6. "Your Star," Evanescence
Man, I just want to give Amy Lee a hug. She sounds so lonely: "I can't see your star/The mechanical lights of Lisbon frightened it away/And I'm alone now/Me, and all I stood for." Between this and the asshole she wrote "Call Me When You're Sober" about, I think she just needs someone to talk to. You can talk to me, Amy. I'm a good listener.

7. "Woman," Wolfmother
This guys can go fuck themselves. I used to really like this song -- the lyrics are painfully dumb, but it's got a phenomenal galloping riff and a great old-school feel. Then I tried to pass it on Guitar Hero II, on Expert difficulty. 20 tries later, I managed it, and I never want to hear the song again. Damn you, Wolfmother!

8. "Love Affair," Regina Spektor
One of Regina's more idiosyncratic lyrics: "He was perfect, except for the fact that he was an engineer/And mothers prefer doctors and lawyers." A little piece of sublime piano pop. Man, she's a great singer.

9. "Red Vines," Aimee Mann
Paul Thomas Anderson wrote the script for Magnolia after hearing one of Aimee Mann's songs. He later scored the film with her material, and even included a montage where each of the characters sang along with "Wise Up." The process works both ways: after working with Anderson so closely on the movie, she wrote this song about him. And it's not exactly an exercise in flattery: "Everybody loves you -- why should they not?/And I'm the only one who knows/That Disneyland's about to close/I don't suppose you'd give it a shot/Knowing that all you've got are cigarettes and red vines." Knowing Anderson, he probably prefers it that way.

10. "Enemius Sleepus," Green Day
I have relived this song so many, many times in my life. "I saw my friend the other day/And I don't know exactly just what he became/It goes to show/It wasn't long ago that I was just like you/And now I think I'm sick, and I wanna go home." I run into people I knew in high school, and after five minutes of conversation, I'm left wondering why I was ever friends with them to begin with. "Any port in a storm," I suppose.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The carrot and the stick

You're probably wondering where the new episode of Revolver is. Predictably, it's not finished. It could come just about any day now -- I typically complete episodes in one last burst of writing frenzy, so I don't know when it'll be done. But soon, okay?

Last time, with "Halloween," I got myself to the finish line by withholding Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas until I wrote lights out and posted the episode. I decided I needed to go with something similar this time: yesterday, I bought Blaze, the new novel by Stephen King Richard Bachman, and I'm not allowing myself to read it until "Courage" is done and posted. So there.

If it's not finished by, say, this time next week, I will have to come up with a suitable punishment. I'll think of something.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco: The Demon Days Soundtrack, Vol. 3 (Music From and That Inspired the Game)

(The recap of our most recent Demon Days episode, "Not Dark Yet," will be posted next week. Steve's on his honeymoon, so there's no new episode this week.)

Yes, it's time for another Hunter soundtrack. I know, you're just excited as can be, huh?

Something a little different this time around -- this is closer to an actual soundtrack album, like you'd see for a real movie or television series. These tracks were all either used in the game or inspired certain parts of it; hence the title. Why the change in format? Because frankly, there are only so many songs to represent those characters.

Of the sixteen songs here, seven were actually used as soundtrack music in the game, and two more of them would have but weren't for various reasons I'll explain. The other tracks are songs that either I listen to when I'm running short on inspiration or songs that inspired specific elements of our game.

Here are your songs:

1. "It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," R.E.M.
The other night I dreamt of knives
The quintessential apocalypse song. Used in "The End" (Season 1, Episode 1), when Lucy's iPod decided to become ironic and pump this song through the speakers at the Drowning Swan after the Hunters' imbuing.

2. "Life During Wartime (live)," Talking Heads
This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around
Would have been the third Whole Group theme on the last soundtrack if I'd had room. I almost always come up with an idea for the game when I hear this song, a tale of a few survivors in an urban wasteland. This song inspired several not-used-yet plot ideas for season four, as well as the three-part "The Black Hand" arc that opened season three.

3. "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," Smashing Pumpkins
A beautiful instrumental that I listen to whenever I'm stuck for a plot. Unfortunately, bad things usually happen to the characters when I'm inspired by this song -- if you'd like to blame My Most Evil Deed on a song, this is the one.

4. "The Luckiest," Ben Folds
I know we belong
Mikey's stunningly appropriate song choice for Dean and Lucy's first dance at their wedding, during "Nothing Bad Happened Today" (Season 3, Episode 6).

5. "The Boy in the Bubble," Paul Simon
There was a bright light, a shattering of windows, the bomb in the baby carriage was wired to the radio
Another song that inspires me in the vein of "Life During Wartime."

6. "Blame It on the Boogie," The Jacksons
The devil's gotten to me through this dance
Not only was this song used in a episode ("1": Season 2, Episode 11), it was the entire plot of an episode. A disco-dancing ghost would only appear when this song played, resulting in the characters (and players, for that matter) hearing it far more times than is considered healthy.

7. "Crazy," Seal
Miracles will happen as we speak, but we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy
This song always gives me visions of the Hunters working as a team in harmony to wipe out some menace. It doesn't last very long in practice, largely because of the working-as-a-team-in-harmony thing, but it's a nice vision.

8. "It's Not," Aimee Mann
And from behind the screen it could look so perfect, but it's not
This song was supposed to have been used as the mood music for the conclusion of "The Black Hand, Part 3" (Season 3, Episode 3), but my power was out and I couldn't provide the soundtrack. But it would have been very moody, trust me.

9. "I Don't Care Anymore," Phil Collins
Well, you can tell everyone I'm a down disgrace, drag my name all over the place, I don't care anymore
This was used during the press conference in "Not Guilty" (Season 2, Episode 10), when Edgar was exonerated, the police apologized, and then Edgar knocked his brother out cold.

10. "Not Dark Yet," Bob Dylan
But it's getting there
Edgar's favorite song, which he requested (long before the fact) Lucy sing at his funeral. Which she did ("Not Dark Yet": Season 3, Episode 8).

11. "I Want It All," Queen
And I want it now
Would have been used as mood music to the Vampire Slaughtering Montage in "Under Cover of Afternoon" (Season 2, Episode 3), but my computer wasn't available. You might also consider it another one of Willem's themes.

12. "Building a Mystery," Sarah McLachlan
You're a beautiful, a beautiful fucked-up man; you're setting up your razor-wire shrine
At Simon's insistence, Lucy did some karaoke at the end of "The Chamber of 32 Doors" (Season 3, Episode 5). This is the song she picked, and it can certainly be interpreted as another of Dean's themes, at least as far as Lucy is concerned.

13. "Revenga," System of a Down
My sweet revenge
I'm planning to use this in an upcoming episode.

14. "How I Could Just Kill a Man," Rage Against the Machine
Didn't have to blast him, but I did anyway
Hearing this song inspired me to create a quick-tempered, cocky, violence-prone character who smoked like a chimney. But I didn't want him to excel at violence -- he'd really be no better at fighting than an average guy, but he'd think he was a fearsome badass. Of course, this character later became Simon.

15. "The Only Living Boy in New York," Simon & Garfunkel
Hey, I've got nothing to do today but smile
"Some of the gloomiest music ever recorded." That's how Lucy described Simon & Garfunkel to Dean, and it's true. This particular gloomy track was used in "Green" (Season 1, Episode 7), over our first end-of-episode montage. A weapons deal gone south, a few characters shot, Lucy blaming herself, and Edgar having a very uncomfortable argument with this soon-to-be-ex-wife.

16. "The Threat," Skid Row
I wasn't put here to be treated like some disease you hoped would go away if left alone
An all-purpose inspirational song that might find its way into an episode. The lyrics don't necessarily fit, but the theme and sound certainly could make it another Whole Group theme.

17. "Kiss That Frog (live)," Peter Gabriel
Princess, you might like it if you lower your defense
The song that inspired everything, more or less. See, back when I was still developing the story arc for this chronicle, I heard this song and thought it would be cool to do an episode about a Hunter turned into a frog ("Your Fairy Fucking Godmother": Season 1, Episode 6). To do that, I needed a good-but-unlikable character to turn, and thus Edgar was created. I needed a witch to turn him, and thus Sunday was created. And I needed a princess to turn him back, and thus Lucy was created. And with Lucy came Lucy's mother, the other composers, and most of the game's storyline. So, if you like our Hunter game, thank Peter Gabriel. Bizarrely enough.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Next week, they'll unleash their Ten Commandents for Proper Maintenance of One's Eight-Track Tape Player

The Catholic Church, always trying to stay ahead of the curve, today announced a new set of Ten Commandments. Presumably, these were thought up by men sitting at a table, rather than carved into stone and brought down from atop a mountain by Charlton Heston. But whatever.

These aren't just any Commandments, though: these are the Ten Commandments for drivers, motorists, and other synonyms that mean "people operating vehicles." According to the story,
Cardinal Renato Martino, who heads the office, told a news conference that the Vatican felt it necessary to address the pastoral needs of motorists because driving had become such a big part of contemporary life.
Good thinking. Nice of you to notice, a hundred years later, that driving is a part of contemporary life. They're so observant, the Catholic Church.

The commandments themselves really aren't that bad, though I can't possibly fathom why anybody needs them:

1. You shall not kill.

2. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.

3. Courtesy, uprightness and prudence will help you deal with unforeseen events.

4. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.

5. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.

6. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.

7. Support the families of accident victims.

8. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.

9. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.

10. Feel responsible toward others.

Does anybody need these? Are there people out there killing others with their cars, but now stopping because the Vatican told them not to? And isn't No Killing already one of the other commandments? Isn't that awfully redundant?

And what of those who aren't Catholic? No fear: I present to you my own list of Driving Commandments.

1. Go!
2. You shall turn on your turn signal before you turn. Not during, not after, but before.
3. When you see a sign that says, MERGE LEFT RIGHT LANE ENDS, merge left. Do it when you when see the sign, don't keeping driving in an empty lane for a mile and a half and then stop traffic dead by swerving in front of someone else.
4. The speed limit signs you see, unless specifically stated otherwise, are a maximum, not a minimum. Get off my ass, Mr. I'm Driving a Big Pickup Truck Because I Am Insecure About My Masculinity, okay?
5. That said: At least drive somewhere around the maximum allowed speed, okay, Mrs. I'm Eighty Years Old and Am Only Waiting for My Inevitable Demise? We all have places to be.
6. Go! Yes, you! In the red car! The fucking light is green!
7. Turn your damn radio down. No one has ever said, "Ooh, I love this new generic rap song, but what I'd really like is to hear nothing but the bass line, distorted as it travels through insulated metal and glass."
8. Your horn is not your friend. Its only function is to make you look like an asshole.
9. Keep your bumper stickers to three or less, please. It's a car, not a MySpace page. If I wanted to read while I was driving, I have books.
10. Goddammit, GO!

I think we can all agree on those.

Monday, June 18, 2007

A fantastic music video

I just managed to see this for the first time, even though it's a couple of years old. I'm so far behind the times.

Hey, remember what blogging was like before YouTube? Me neither.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 6/17/07

1. "Bad Meets Evil," Eminem
From The Slim Shady LP, which has the distinction of being the only Eminem album that is not entirely about the media's reaction to his previous albums. As such, he had plenty of time for little experiments like this, a storytelling duet with Royce Da 5'9" (whoever the hell that is). It actually sounds exactly like the (much better) track Em would later record with Dr. Dre on the Wild Wild West soundtrack. This song is all right, but annoys me because they mispronounce Steven Segal's name in order to made it rhyme with "evil." Grr.

2. "Grey Street," Dave Matthews Band
One of the four or five best songs Dave has ever written. This is the superior Busted Stuff version, which has the best arrangement. (I've got three or four other versions lying around. I told you, one of Dave's best songs.) The song is really just the same verse-chorus-verse structure throughout, but a few lines are added to the chorus on each pass, with Dave's voice getting higher in passion and pitch on each one. By the time he gets to the final chorus, it's impossible not to be moved. (If they play this song when I see them in concert in September, I can just go ahead and die right there.)

3. "Amazing," Aerosmith
November, 1995. The State Marching Band finals. It's a long, long bus ride up to Austin, so I make sure to pack my Discman before I leave, especially because I know that all of my friends are going to be on a different bus. I get crammed in a seat surrounded by people I either don't like or don't know, so the headphones go on before we've even left. One problem: I brought the Discman, but I forgot to bring my CDs, so I'm stuck listening to the disc already in there -- Aerosmith's Big Ones, one of their many, many greatest hits collections. So I listen to that CD over and over and over again on the way up there, while we're up there, in the hotel room, the next morning before prelims -- nothing but Aerosmith. On the bus ride over to prelims, I'm still listening to the damn CD. (If you're thinking I could've just, ya know, talked to people, please e-mail me -- I don't believe we've met.) As the bus pulls into the stadium, "Amazing" plays, and when it ends, my Discman goes a little wacky (as it was prone to do, it was old and cheap) and repeats the song without me telling it to. So I listen to it again. And we march in the prelims, do very poorly, but get selected for the finals anyway. So for one of the few times in my life, I become superstitious, and believe that "Amazing" is somehow a lucky song. I didn't listen to anything else for the rest of the day. Whenever I was listening to anything, it was "Amazing." And we finished second. I don't know if that means the song worked or not. My fellow bandmates sure didn't think so: they started sobbing and weeping and screaming the second they announced it. Which was just really, really sad. But anyway.

4. "In Too Deep," Genesis
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...This song is on my iPod only because I've forgotten to take it off. Just a sec...ah, there we go. Problem solved.

5. "Princess," Beth Kinderman
I waxed poetic about Madame Kinderman in a previous shuffle. This beautiful song is from that Farscape album I was talking about. You should listen to it. Now, dammit!

6. "Another Brick in the Wall, Pt. 2," Pink Floyd
I have watched the movie Pink Floyd: The Wall about fifteen times. I've listened to the album at least twice that. They're both among my favorite examples of that particular artform. And apparently it's genetic, because my parents are both Wall crazies. My father (allegedly -- this comes from my mother, who is far from neutral when it comes to him) was such a super-nerd that he owned a reel-to-reel tape copy of the album. The obvious question is why, but you never know with my dad. And one of my favorite memories of spending time with mother was on a long car ride to Oklahoma. My sister also loved The Wall, but she couldn't understand it, so my mother and I decided to take it upon ourselves to lead her through it, song by song. But by the time we got to "Empty Spaces," Kalynda had fallen asleep in the backseat, and it was just my mom and me, listening to both CDs and discussing its intricacies. The mock venom we summoned to sing along with "In the Flesh" and "Run Like Hell," and the giggling we did afterwards, is something I always think of when I think of my mom. So The Wall is an album that fills me with warmth and happiness, which is hilarious, considering that the album is about isolation, despair, madness, and psychosis. To each his own, right?

7. "Adventures of an Asshole," Henry Rollins
A spoken word performance. In this tale, Henry talks about swearing never to behave like an asshole again (after nearly killing someone while throwing big rocks off a cliff). Mere days after make this promise, he punches a rowdy fan's teeth out at a show, and karma comes back big time: his hand gets infected, then gets septic, and only emergency surgery allows them to save his hand at all (though he loses quite a bit of mobility in -- ironically -- his middle finger). The problem? When he punched the guy, he cut his hand open pretty badly, as you'd expect, but some plaque from his teeth (!) got into the wound, leading to the infection and sepsis. Um, eww.

8. "Helicopters," Barenaked Ladies
From Maroon, which is my favorite BNL album. Though the lyrics are surprisingly subtle for a BNL song, I think it's about a musician who goes on a charity tour to a war-torn third world country, just for photo-ops and that kind of thing, but gets genuinely moved by the devastation and tanks his career by dedicating it to protest songs. As the last verse declares, "Everybody's laughing, while at me they point a finger/A world that loves its irony must hate the protest singer."

9. "Hurt," Nine Inch Nails
I'm going to be the odd one out here, but I actually prefer this original version to Johnny Cash's cover. Maybe it's because the soft sound is more jarring coming as it does at the end of The Downward Spiral, one of the most abrasive records ever produced. Maybe it's because I prefer Trent Reznor's whispered vocal to Cash's lumbering baritone. Maybe it's because I'm just a weirdo. I don't know. But there you go. In either version, it's one of the most haunting and beautiful songs I've ever heard.

10. "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," The Beatles
The first time I heard this song was listening to someone in my writer's group at College of the Mainland play it when we were supposed to be talking about writing. I didn't mind; it's a great song. I also remember listening to the guy play "Comfortably Numb" and trying to sing the harmonies along with him, and failing, 'cause they're so high. I loved that writer's group.

Well, he *does* have a tendency of getting very physical

So I like Maroon 5. You can add them to Coldplay in the hall of artists I probably shouldn't like but do anyway.

But have you heard their new single, "Wake Up Call"? The lyrics are a little, hardcore than you'd expect from Maroon 5. You know Maroon 5: "Beauty queen of only eighteen/She had some trouble with herself/He was always there to help her/She always belonged to someone else." You know, lyrics like that.

But check this out:
I didn't hear what you were saying
I live on raw emotion, baby
I answer questions never maybe
And I'm not kind if you betray me
So who the hell are you to say we
Never would have made it, babe?

If you needed love
Well, then ask for love
Could have given love
Now I’m taking love
And it’s not my fault
'Cause you both deserve
What is coming now
So don’t say a word

Wake up call
Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed
Don't you care about me anymore?
Don’t you care about me? I don't think so
Six foot tall, came without a warning
So I had to shoot him dead
He won't come around here anymore
Come around here? I don't think so

Would have bled to make you happy
You didn't need to treat me that way
And now you beat me at my own game
And now I find you sleeping soundly
And your lovers screaming loudly
Hear a sound and hit the ground

If you needed love
Well then ask for love
Could have given love
Now I’m taking love
And it’s not my fault
'Cause you both deserve
What is coming now
So don’t say a word

Wake up call
Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed
Don't you care about me anymore?
Don’t you care about me? I don't think so
Six foot tall, came without a warning
So I had to shoot him dead
He won't come around here anymore
Come around here?
I don’t feel so bad, I don’t feel so bad, I don’t feel so bad

I'm so sorry darling
Did I do the wrong thing?
Oh, what was I thinking?
Is his heart still beating?

Wake up call
Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed
Don't you care about me anymore?
Don’t you care about me? I don't think so
Six foot tall, came without a warning
So I had to shoot him dead
He won't come around here anymore
Come around here anymore? I don’t feel so bad

I don’t feel so bad (Wake up call)
I don’t feel so bad (Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed)
I don’t feel so bad (Don’t you care about me anymore?)
Care about me? I don’t feel so bad
Wake up call
Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed
Don't you care about me anymore?
It's been a long time since anybody wrote a hit single about murder, hasn't it? But I guess we know what happened between him and Jane.

And I love the way he defends his actions by pointing out the guy's height: "Six foot tall, came without a warning, so I had to shoot him dead." Like the guy was breaking in and stealing the microwave.

The song is really good, by the way.

(Oh, and René: the little riff at the beginning sounds eerily like the beginning of the fast part of "Callehe." For about five seconds, anyway.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

That's right -- I'm Rick Blaine, bitches

Your Score: The Expatriate

Achtung! You are 38% brainwashworthy, 9% antitolerant, and 23% blindly patriotic

Congratulations! You are not susceptible to brainwashing, your values and cares extend beyond the borders of your own country, and your Blind Patriotism does not reach unhealthy levels. If you had been German in the 30s, you would've left the country.

One bad scenario -- as I hypothetically project you back in time -- is that you just wouldn't have cared one way or the other about Nazism. Maybe politics don't interest you enough. But the fact that you took this test means they probably do. I'm gonna give you the benefit of the doubt.

Did you know that many of the smartest Germans departed prior to the beginning of World War II, because they knew some evil shit was brewing? Brain Drain. Many of them were scientists. It is very possible you could have been one of them.

Conclusion: born and raised in Germany in the early 1930's, you would not have been a Nazi.

The Would You Have Been A Nazi? Test

- it rules -
Link: The Would You Have Been a Nazi Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
[Yes, I realize Rick Blaine was American, not German, and he fled France, not Germany. Still, he got out of town when he saw the bad shit the Germans were up to. If only Ilsa hadn't left him.]

Life has a funny, funny way of sneaking up on you

"Rain on your wedding day." It's not ironic at all, I don't care what Alanis Morissette says.

It's not raining now, but it wants to be. I looked outside this morning and saw gray everywhere -- in the sky, on the sidewalk, in the sad eyes of the old man who lives in the building opposite mine. This is a gray day, at least at 8:30 in the morning, and little can be done to change that, it seems. I mean, I can't control the weather. I would if I could, man.

But it doesn't matter, the weather -- they were smart enough to hold this thing indoors, which says quite a bit for their intelligence and quite little for their faith in Texas weather. Or maybe they just didn't want to do it outside. You know, heat and stuff. It is Texas in June; on a normal day, it'd be 95 degrees by now, and stay there until after seven. I guess that all falls into faith in Texas weather, though, doesn't it?

Stephen is getting married today.

It's funny: a few months ago, I was filling out job applications, and having to list references. Steve is always the first one, for a number of reasons, but when I got to the "Years Known" blank, it stunned me that I had to write two digits: 10.

Jesus. There's no way we've known each other for ten fucking years, is there? 'Cause I still remember 1997, and it wasn't ten years ago. Two, maybe, but that's all. Not ten. No way.

Yes way. When I wasn't looking, a decade went by. Whoosh.

You'll forgive me for getting sentimental. It doesn't take much to get me sentimental, and the wedding of my oldest friend is a gimme.

But weddings get an interesting reaction out of me anyway. I mean, there's a Hopeless Romantic buried way, way deep down in my head, down underneath the Evil Genius, and the Inconsolable Pessimist, and the Intractable Cynic, and the Formidable Star Trek Geek. Underneath all that is the poor mistreated Hopeless Romantic, who wants to believe in soul mates and finding your one true love and all of that.

The rest of my brain likes to push this guy into the corner and throw him in a garbage can, but today is his day. 'Cause Steve's wedding is today, man.

So today is a good day, precipitation and Canadian pop singers be damned.

And I cannot begin to tell you how weird it's going to be watching this take place. Because I still remember 1997 Steve. And the idea of 1997 Steve getting married is hilarious, let me tell you.

He once constructed a massive chain of straws that let him drink from a McDonald's cup that was in another room.

He once instructed me -- nay, pleaded with me -- to hit him over the head with a big metal popcorn tin, in front of people, to prove it didn't hurt.

He once built a wrestling ring in his backyard out of tires, mattress padding, and a big blue tarp. Then he willing let me -- me -- kick the crap out of him for thirty minutes while someone else videotaped it. Ya know, 'cause it was fun. (I still have the video, too.)

We used to drive around aimlessly for hours at a time, singing in perfect harmony to our Metallica CDs. We had our parts divided up exactly, and didn't even have to say anything to one another as each song began. We just knew.

Those days, of course, are long past. It's not 1997 anymore, and apparently hasn't been for ten years (though I have my doubts). I don't understand why I'm writing this with such a sense of finality, such a feeling of ending, because I don't feel that way. I'm not sad -- I'm damn near gleeful, which you know doesn't happen often.

But I told you -- I get sentimental at the drop of a hat. So I should cut this off, before I get around to telling you more goofy stories.

(Though here's one, won't take long: In 2000, we drove up to Dallas to see Metallica. And we knew, we just knew something goofy was going to happen with the show, 'cause it's just our luck, and what do you know -- the day before the show, James Hetfield injures his back and won't be there. Great. But the show goes on, so we continue on, but get there and find there are no hotels in the area. None. The only room we can find is the Executive Suite at some EconoLodge on the outskirts of town. It's way too expensive, almost more than the tickets to the show [which were pretty pricey], but it's the only one there is, so we take it. We go in, and it's huge, like the size of my apartment. We're in awe. We go to the show, which was awesome even without Hetfield, and went to Denny's afterward. Now, when we get back to the hotel, it's going on one in the morning, and we're so wired from caffeine, the thrill of seeing Metallica for the first time, and the proximity high we got from the stoners sitting in front of us that we're practically bouncing off the walls. So we stay up, drinking Dr Pepper and iced tea [take a drink of one, then a drink of the other -- don't fucking ask, okay?] and playing cards for the pennies we found in Steve's truck. And in the middle of it all, we're laughing, we're giggling so hard that we can't stop, giggling so hard it hurts, and Steve suddenly shouts "Wait!" I stop laughing, and look at him. He solemnly points at the tiny, Big Gulp-sized trash can. "Look at this: this huuuuge room...and an itty-bitty trash can." We start laughing again, so hard we can't stand, and just when it calms down a little Steve stumbles into the bathroom and I hear him yell, "There's one in here, too!" And we started howling with laughter again, and didn't stop for a long time. I don't think we've ever stopped.

I guess you had to be there.)

I could sit here all day reminiscing, but then I'd miss the wedding. So I stop here.

Congratulations, Steve.

And I have to post this video, or he'd never forgive me. Would you, Steve?

Tweasuh yow wove.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The funniest sentence in the English language... any one that is structured thusly:
I'm not a racist, but [horrifically racist statement].
I love when people say that to me. And they're always so very, very sincere, which is why it's funny -- they actually think they're not racist. They actually think that the slime coming out of them is okay -- 'cause they're not racist. No, really, they're not.

Being in Texas, as I am, I hear it most often regarding Hispanic people -- "I'm not a racist, but any Mexicans you see are illegal immigrants who eat burritos and jalapeños and are only good for mowing lawns and doing construction jobs. Hey, I'm not racist, that's just how it is." Right, right. Sure.

Yesterday, a co-worker at Job Number One approached and informed me (completely out of nowhere) that his daughter, whom I've not met, was secretly dating a black man, or so he believed. She was keeping it a secret, he said, because she knew he would "have a problem with that."

"I'm not a racist, but I just don't want my daughter dating a black man. I'm not okay with that. At all."

I guess he was looking for sympathy from me, what with me being a fellow member of the Pure Race. He got none, naturally, so he unloaded the glorious Racist-in-Denial Defense, which, as you know, is articulated thusly:
I'm not racist. I mean, I have friends who are [whatever group I am viciously slandering].
Right, right. Sure.

He kept looking for my approval. He didn't get it. "Am I wrong for thinking that?" he said.

"Yes," I said.

He thought for a minute. "You know, if she gets into an argument with me about it, she can always throw in my face that I married a woman from Mexico. Does that make me a hypocrite?"

"Yes," I said.

He thought about that, and seemed to take it well. Then he said, "I just don't want my grandchildren to be of a mixed race, you know? Maybe that's wrong."

"It is," I said.


Since lately it seems I can only communicate in YouTube videos, I give you a Family Guy take on a very similar situation.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dan Wheeler is a bad closer and a sore loser

When your team is playing poorly and you've just given up four runs to blow a lead late, and the starter pitcher whose win you just threw away comes up to comfort you, there's obviously only one correct response:
Houston reliever Dan Wheeler blew a save, then shoved starter Chris Sampson in the dugout on Wednesday night, an ugly twist to the Astros' frustrating season....

Sampson, who pitched seven strong innings, tried to console Wheeler when he came back to the dugout. Wheeler turned and shoved Sampson with both hands, then yelled at Sampson to go to the other end of the dugout.

Yeah, how 'bout those Dodgers, huh?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

If only this were a real trailer, huh?

He's late on his power bill. From Nintendo Power. HAHAHAHAHAHA!

This is what I'm doing when I should be writing.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A robust scientific study, indeed

Study: Alzheimer's Patients Say They Do Not Have Alzheimer's

Vastly different styles

I am a little behind on my rent, thanks to the massive car repair bill last month I mentioned before. (Seriously, you guys: get your fucking brakes checked.) I dropped a money order for a little less than half of the original amount in their drop slot last night, knowing that I'd still owe them for late fees and such. Pretty much, I was screwed.

A few minutes ago, the apartment manager stopped me as I was walking back from the laundry room. This apartment manager is kind of like our apartment complex's Commander Riker -- he runs things from a hands-on perspective, people come to him with their problems and complaints, and he's always dragging the Klingon around when things go bad. (The Klingon would be our maintenance guy, who is always stomping across the grounds and growling.) But even though he's in a position of authority, he's not in charge -- there's someone else above him, some mysterious Captain Picard who makes all the real decisions. And if that guy shows up to talk to you personally, you've probably fucked up pretty badly.

"You need to run by the office real quick," Commander Riker said. Now, I like this guy. Older guy, long ponytail, looks he's seen a thing or two. Really nice guy, too. But I've never been comfortable being told to go to the office, no matter what office it is. Offices and I don't get along.

"There's a lady in there who works for the landlord," he continued. "You need to talk to her, fill out some papers."

With my money order, I included a note explaining when I'd be able to pay them next. I thought this would be sufficient. Apparently not.

"Don't worry," Number One tells me. "We'll work with you."

We'll work with you. A shiver down my spine. Oh, I've heard We'll work with you before. Pine Forest, where I lived before this place. Oh, hell yeah, they'd work with you all the time. When I moved in there, I explained that my income, because of my job, came at odd and unpredictable times, so I wouldn't always been able to pay my rent exactly on time. We'll work with you, they said, smiling. Turns out, We'll work with you means We'll shove crippling late charges up your ass. And then, when you move out of this apartment into another we've annexed, and your roommate loses his job over and over again, we'll show up when you're not home and just start taking everything that isn't bolted down. And then we'll go back and get a bolt cutter.

A lot of subtext there, huh? So I was understandably concerned about being worked with again.

Turns out, they're not fascists here at Torrey Pines. We'll work with you ends up meaning We'll work with you. I explained the situation, and the lady (our Counselor Troi?) said, "Oh, that's no problem. Here, you can pay this much when you said you would, and then pay the rest of it on the 20th. Okay?"

I started to say yes, but she stopped me, "Now, I don't want to break you. That's not gonna break you, you'll be okay?" I started to say yes again, but she stopped me again: "Actually, you know what, since you came in today, I'm gonna go ahead and knock some of these late charges off." And she knocked seventy dollars off my late charges. All right!

"Next month, if you're going to be late again, just come in and tell us around the first, and we'll make sure you don't pay any late charges," she said.

All right!

Also, because of my car payments and frantic scrambling for money, I'm behind on the water bill. I told her I hoped they didn't turn my water off.

"Oh, don't worry," she said. "We won't. You water won't be turned off, trust me."

This is so cool.

They won't turn off my water? Then I'm never paying the water bill again! Hahahaha!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Weekly iPod Shuffle: 6/10/07

1. "Shoe Box," Barenaked Ladies
This song, from their third studio album, was saddled with one of the worst music videos I've ever seen. On the commentary for the video on the Barelaked Nadies DVD, the band agrees me, citing special guest actors who didn't make it and a failed concept that never worked out at all. Ed says, "This video is what they call in France a fiasco!" Steve says, "They also call it un piece de merde." The song is great, though, and features one of my favorite BNL lyrics: You're just so 1990/And it's 1994.

2. "Total Eclipse of the Heart," Bonnie Tyler
I'm a sucker for Jim Steinman songs, what can I say? And you can't tell me you aren't moved by the emotion Bonnie puts into the final chorus. Well, I suppose you can. But you have to at least agree with me on how awful this album cover is:Right?

3. "Under the Influence," Eminem
This is from Em's triumphant masterwork, The Marshall Mathers LP, released back in 2000. You know, when he was shocking, entertaining, funny, original, versatile, and didn't rely on fart sounds to anchor his hit singles. Man, those were the days. This song, incidentally, has the distinction of falling on the track listing between "Kim," the explosively controversial song which depicts Eminem murdering his wife, and "Criminal," the explosively homophobic song that would have been more controversial had it not been for "Kim." ("Criminal," by the way, also depicts a murder, though not one that raised any eyebrows.)

4. "Tomorrow's Dream," Black Sabbath
On one of the Henry Rollins albums I have, he ponders on El Nino, which at the time was wrecking the ecology of most the world. He muses on the translation of "El Nino" -- "the little boy" -- and thinks that it should have a more destructive name. His first idea is "The Motherfucker." "If you're thinking of going swimming today, think again: the Motherfucker is expected to send thunderstorms..." His second idea, though, is a little funnier, at least to me: "Let's call it 'the First Four Black Sabbath Albums.' Today, the city of Los Angeles was leveled by the First Four Black Sabbath Albums.'" This song is on the fourth of those albums, but it's not as heavy as one would think. Good song, though.

5. "Narcolepsy," Ben Folds Five
I have an uncle who's narcoleptic. And it's nothing like it's displayed in movies or television, at least not with him. No sudden passing out into his soup, no collapsing whilst in mid-bowling ball throw. He can't drink any caffeine at all, though -- when he came down here to visit about a year and a half ago, we went to a few different restaurants, and he asked at each if he could get Caffeine-Free Dr Pepper. Each said no, and he ordered Sprite instead. His face was sad when he did it. This was a man who clearly never wanted to drink Sprite again. And yet, he soldiered on, lemon-lime beverage and all.

6. "Cassandra Gemini (Part 4)," The Mars Volta
I've spoken of the Mars Volta before, so you know the drill -- they're fucking crazy. And yet, despite the insanity of lyrics like There was a frail syrup dripping off his lap-danced lapel/Punctuated by her decrepit prowl, she washed down the hatching gizzard, I still find their (meandering, self-indulgent, masturbatory) music compelling. Particularly the "Cassandra Gemini" suite from Frances the Mute: it's eight parts and thirty minutes long, and worth every bit of time it takes to listen to. So give them a shot if you'd like, but remember what I said about the lyrics. Though you've got to admire a group of guys who can conceive of, write, practice, record, and release a lyric like She was a mink handjob in sarcophagus heels without anyone stopping them.

7. "My World," Metallica
St. Anger is a strange, strange beast four years removed from its release. Some songs have stayed just as good as time's gone on -- the title track, "Some Kind of Monster," "Dirty Window," and a few others. But some of the songs haven't fared that well, and sound somewhat juvenile and embarrassing in hindsight. Fortunately, this isn't one of them, though it's hardly a lyrical triumph. In fact, clean up Lars's panging snare drum, and you'd have a great song on your hands.

8. "Idioteque," Radiohead
Definitely coming to a Hunter game sometime soon -- Ice age coming, ice age coming/Throw it on the fire, throw it on the fire/We're not scaremongering/This is really happening. Apocalyptic techno-pop from the best band in the world.

9. "Money (That's What I Want)," The Beatles
The Beatles recorded a whole lotta covers in their early days. Unfortunately, most of them aren't very good. This one, though, is an exception. It's a little silly, of course, but a lot of their earlier recordings are. (As opposed to later, more serious undertakings, like "Piggies" and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer.")

10. "La La," The Verve Pipe
The Verve Pipe, you remember, had that smash hit song, "The Freshmen," and then promptly vanished once it became clear they weren't interested in repeating "The Freshmen" as formula. This is from their follow-up self-titled record, on which it's clear they knew their time was running out. Despite that, they manage to assemble one of my favorite albums, one that regrettably never found an audience. If you can find this one, give it a listen -- it's the one with the dissected frog on the cover.

Demon Days: Season 3, Episode 7 -- "We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Program"

[For earlier recaps, see the Hunter episode guide.]

Previously, on Demon Days...
  • The Hunters had a few run-ins with a Bazemore police detective named David Weathers. At first, he went after them for their suspicious behavior; when he later lost his job and started to see the truth of the evil deeds going on in the shadows, he helped them exonerate Edgar. He was in bad shape emotionally then, and he hasn't been seen since.
  • For all the strange things they've encountered, few have been as unsettling as the mysterious Man in White. They met him on the day of the subway bombing -- he was a normal guy before the explosion, but afterwards he became an unidentifiable supernatural creature, one capable of creating fire from thin air and, most disturbingly, able to sense the Hunters. He confronted Dan on the subway platform and, after watching television footage of strife around the world, told him, "You destroyed everything." Discern reveals only a feeling of heat and the scent of smoke.
  • Dan got rattled when an FBI agent showed up at his door, especially when she turned out to be Hannah's sister. He got away without anything too ugly happening, but he's still nervous.
"We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming"

It's a week since the wedding, and things have been quiet. The newlyweds, Dean and Lucy, are comfortable and happy in their home, far away from the den of thieves that Edgar's apartment has turned into. With four guys sharing it, it's become quite the dark and sweaty shoebox, especially since Dan has gone a little crazy -- he gave his entire marijuana stash away to pay a debt ("Nothing Bad Happened Today": Season 3, Episode 6), and rather than replace it decided to quit. The lack of cannabis in his system, combined with the FBI incident, has made Dan a little unhinged and extraordinarily paranoid. (Yes, not smoking pot is making him paranoid. He's having a bad week.)

While watching TV, the news breaks into regular television to bring the viewers breaking news: at the great big mall in downtown Westwood, an unidentified gunman has taken hostages. Simon calls Dean and Lucy, just to make sure they're aware of it. Dean is thoroughly apathetic...until a "special bulletin" is announced. The anchor reveals that someone inside the mall has just sent them a cell phone video of the gunman. They don't give his name on the air, but the Hunter recognize him just the same -- it's Detective Weathers (last seen in "Not Guilty": Season 2, Episode 10), looking considerably worse for wear. He's holding almost a dozen people hostage,
but has dragged one to the center of the mall floor. Pressing a gun to the man's face, Weathers is seen screaming, "I know who you work for, and I'm going to wait until it (?) gets here!" Hunter powers reveal that hostage to be a ghoul.

And then the news reveals the name of the video taker, and shows his picture...and it's the Man in White.

The Hunters gather at Edgar's apartment to discuss things. Simon and Willem want to go to the mall and find out what's going on; Dean and Dan (in agreement for probably the first time since ever) want to stay far, far away. Lucy is torn. Edgar seems to settle things by calling those who don't want to go "a bunch of pansies." This from the blind guy, who is raring to go in. There is, of course, one problem: there's no way to get inside. The cops have the building closed off, and there are news cameras everywhere. There is one way they could get in, though...

SIMON: Do you have a way of contacting Sunday?
DEAN: Not quickly, no.
EDGAR: Doesn't she have a way of just showing up whenever she's needed?
DEAN: Yeah.
*knock on door* [1]

Sunday explains that she could get them inside, yes, but it would take some effort. Dean is concerned, because he doesn't want their images on TV. Sunday places another call to Evets, who is more than happy to help: he casts a spell that disables all phones and cameras in the mall ("Someone at Radio Shack is going to be pissed tomorrow," Simon says). He does this, even though last time he cast a spell the Mage Police were on top of him in minutes -- they're not going after Sunday thanks to all of the Mage-Vampire-Werewolf drama; maybe they'll leave him alone, too?

Sunday opens a portal to the mall in one of Edgar's closets, and gives them a phone number to call when they're finished, so she can reopen the portal and get them back. Weapons in hand, they go through the door.

Coming from the level above, the Hunters spy Weathers and his hostages. Weathers looks like he's bad shape -- bearded and wild-eyed, he's clearly come a little unhinged. When Dean calls out to him, Weathers spins and trains his gun, but relaxes when he sees the Hunters. "Oh, it's you. Good." They try to talk him down, but he's having none of it: "I'm waiting." He reveals why he's taken this ghoul hostage -- he's been tracking him for several weeks as he receives his orders in a supposedly abandoned warehouse in Staunton. The ghoul is apparently a courier for his vampire masters, running messages and packages back and forth.

Weathers shows the Hunters what the ghoul picked up this time: a black briefcase, locked with a combination lock and -- to the Hunters' surprise -- a magical seal. Weathers decided now was the time to act, and took the ghoul hostage right then and there.

LUCY: So...your plan is to wait for the vampires to show up and take it from you?
WEATHERS: That's right.
DAN: ...In the daytime.

Clearly, he hasn't thought this through. But he refuses to leave.

In an attempt to (I suppose) calm Weathers down, Willem offers to go the smoothie store (which, like all the others, was abandoned by its customers and employees once Weathers started waving his gun around) and make smoothies for everyone. He makes his way to the store, which isn't far away, and immediately gets to the business of taking the money from the register. (Hey, his bar got burned down -- the man's gotta eat.)

While he's counting the money, he gets the unshakable feeling he's being watched. He looks up and sees the Man in White staring at him, a half-smile on his face.

"You're one of them."

The Man in White is certain he's seen Willem before; when Willem confirms they met on the train, the Man in White nods. "Ah, yes. He never forgets a face (?)." The Man in White wants to know how many of "them" there are, but it's not clear what he means, and Willem has no intention of answering him anyway. They have a brief, bewildering conversation, in which the MiW refers to himself alternately as "I" and "we"; when Willem questions this, he's ignored.

When the Hunters call back to Willem, the MiW tells Willem that he's going to kill all of them -- "And you're going to help." A blinding flash of light emanates from the Man in White, and when it fades, Willem finds himself face-to-face with the most terrifying creature yet.

The Man in White is now over eight feet tall, with obsidian-black skin like stone, glowing yellow eyes, and massive black claws on his -- its hands. It is bathed in fire, and giant bat-wings sprout from its back. Willem tries to duck behind the Smoothie counter, but the Thing rips it away and throws it across the room. When it speaks, its voice rattles the walls: "Kneel before me!" Panicked, Willem does so, and the Thing roars some more about placing his "seal" on him. The Thing makes to place its hand on Willem's forehead, but he ducks away and races from the store. The Thing spreads its wings and flies after him.

The Thing finds himself against the six Hunters, Weathers, the ghoul, and several hostages. The Thing informs the Hunters that they're about to die -- it also says that "They can't help you." "Who?" is the question fired back, but it isn't answered.

Dan tries to save the hostages -- he tells them simply to run the fuck away. They do so, but the Thing demonstrates another power: telekinesis. The hostages suddenly fly apart like so many bowling pins, spreading across the floor of the empty mall. One of them, though, sails directly into Edgar, sticking a Shawn Michaels-like flying forearm into his face. Edgar goes down hard, cursing at the innocent guy who hit him like a spear. But when he recovers from the shock, Edgar discovers something else -- he can see again!

What follows is the most futile encounter the Hunters have had yet. Dean tries his mind-weakening power, Insinuate, against the Thing, but it does nothing. They fire guns, but they have little to no effect. It materializes fireballs that only miss because of the handy Bluster Edge. They throw bombs, but the Thing uses telekinesis to defuse them or throw them back. They finally get one to go off in its vicinity, but it only does moderate damage.

And it pisses it off.

The Thing roars and starts telekinetically ripping the large marble floor tiles up and hurling them like fatal frisbees across the room. Everyone runs and hits the deck, or tries to get out of the area altogether. Dean hatches a plan and starts crawling under the tiles, trying to get close enough to the Thing to use Cleave, but out of the corner of his eye sees Lucy running for the door. She's going to make it just fine, but slips and stumbles. If she had stayed upright she'd have made it; if she had just fallen to the ground, she would have been fine. Instead, she touches the floor and springs up again, heading full speed for the exit. She's right in the path of one of the deadly tiles, and doesn't see it coming. Dean does, and is helpless to stop it.

Edgar, though, just got his sight back, and he sees it, too. He leaps from safety to shove Lucy out of the way...

...but takes the tile meant for her, in the chest. Blood sprays everywhere, and he's thrown to the floor as if shot by a cannon.

No time to worry about him -- Dean makes it to the Thing and uses Cleave, wincing through the pain from the flames that surround the enemy. This attack actually works -- the Thing roars in agony, and once again flares with a white light. When it goes away, the Man in White is back, badly wounded and looking terrified. Dean kills him immediately with a Cleave to the face, only realizing too late that he no longer registered as "supernatural." Oh well -- the crisis is over. Dean makes sure it's over by killing the ghoul, too (once again, Cleave to the face). Victory?

Lucy is sobbing over Edgar, who isn't moving. Or breathing. Dean pulls out the tile, to use his healing power, but the wound isn't bleeding, either. He's--

"You can't be dead," Lucy sobs.

Willem calls the number Sunday gave them, and she opens the portal again. Grabbing Edgar and Weathers (who initially refuses to go, but is coerced), they head back. When they arrive, they show Sunday what happened to Edgar, and ask if anything can be done. Tearfully, she says no. He's gone.

The Hunters have a pair of discussions: one about the Thing, the other about Edgar. Sunday has not idea what the Thing is, but based on appearances, the Hunters can draw an educated conclusion. Wings. Fire. Appeared to have possessed someone. Wanted to be idolized and moved to place a "seal" on someone. Sounds awfully...demonic.

Regarding Edgar, they're torn. They obviously can't go Weekend at Bernie's with him: he's good and dead, and people are going to notice, namely his sister, Michelle. What to tell her? The truth? How much of it?

Dan finds Michelle's phone number in Edgar's phone book. He also finds a note there, left by Edgar (theoretically before he lost his sight): If I'm dead, tell her everything.

On the television, the news anchor is announcing that the police finally gave up trying to negotiate and sent the SWAT team into the mall. They found the "two gunmen" dead, the floor horrifically damaged, and the hostages mostly unharmed, but badly shaken and with no memory of the events inside.[2]

The anchor wraps up the coverage, saying that the nightmare is over. "We now return to our regularly scheduled program, already in progress."

Dean abruptly turns the television off.

Footnotes: [1] This has been well-established, and is a result of her powerful Fate magic; such magic has also been well-established in previous encounters. [2] This isn't just convenient storytelling -- it's World of Darkness canon. Supernatural powers cause regular humans to freak out and later forget. And the Thing's powers were very, very supernatural indeed.

Storyteller's Notes: Demons 1, Hunters 0.

You understand now why I wanted a lighter episode last week. Response to this one was swift -- not fifteen minutes after its conclusion, I was dismissed by FRINAN as "mean" for killing Edgar off. This sentiment was seconded by the rest of the group, though Steve only thought it was mean to kill him mere seconds after he regained his sight. To them, I say: well,
yeah. Of course it was mean.

The subtitle of this season is "Things Are Gonna Get Worse Before It Gets Better/Everybody Hurts," and it's an appropriate one, I feel. 'Cause things haven't finished getting worse yet.

Next week, the inexorable march to the season finale continues, with episode 3.08, "Not Dark Yet."

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Here, take a look at this:
Twenty minutes later, all of them sat in Lennox's office, listening to Yearling's conversation. "Good God," Alex Simpson, another asassin [sic] (specializing in bombs and explosives), muttered softly to no one in particular. He raised his voice and added, "We're in trouble now."

"You got that right," Maxwell Atarch, son of John (and yet another asassin [sic]), said. "What are we going to do?"

They looked around at each other, all of their glances eventually meeting Lennox's long, sad face. "In the words of John Atarch, let's 'Take care of it'."

"How?" Maxwell said.

"Easy." Lennox paused. "Brimley, you said that everyone [
sic] of your men covers the habits of all the officers in the department. Right?"

"Yes, sir."

Lennox cleared his throat and continued. "Does this Morrison guy have any habit that could be used to our advantage?"

"As a matter of fact, I was just looking at him the other day. It seems that every morning for breakfast, at around 6:30 A.M., he drives down to this bed-and-breakfast around the corner. 'Bertha's,' I think it's called. He stays there for about
an hour and one-half. [?]"

"Good." He paused again. "Simpson. While he's down there, you attach some sort of bomb to his car. Ka-boom. He's take care of. Now, Wilson and Maxwell. Get a black Mazda 626. Pick up the girl, and take care of her. Bingo. Operation Complete. Mission Accomplished."

They were silent for a moment. Simpson broke the silence by clearing his throat noisily. "Very good, sir," he said. They got up and left the room, leaving Lennox to think.
Yikes, huh? Ooh, check this, this is from about sixteen pages later:
Maxwell's body was instantly coated with a cold sweat. He gulped and looked at Brimley. "Uh...hi...uh, Steve," he stammered. "How are you?"

"Okay, I guess," Brimley said. "What are you doing?"

"Uh..just visiting Lennox," Maxwell said.

"Oh, is he in?" Brimley asked. He glanced down at his watch. "He usually goes to breakfast around this time." He nodded toward the door. "I guess I'll go see him," he said, and began to walk toward the door.

Maxwell knew that he couldn't let Brimley into Lennox's office. He also knew the Brimley was a large man -- 6'11", 200 pounds [
!!!] -- and the way only way to successfully attack a man of that size would be to catch him off his guard.

Suddenly, with all the force and power he could muster, Maxwell lunged forward, hands outstretched. Brimley was completely surprised, and he flew back against the wall with little resistance, and Maxwell darted past him down the hall. Brimley quickly followed.

Lennox's office was about fourty [
sic] yards from the exit, and Maxwell knew the would have to run faster than he had ever ran [sic] before to stay ahead of Brimley.

As the door came into Maxwell's field of vision, he began to hear Brimley's thundering footfalls behind him. Through the glass door, he could see Matthews' [
sic] station wagon, and --

The glass, Maxwell though, and he instantly got an idea.

Maxwell went flying through the glass doors at top speed. He spun and saw Brimley racing toward him, his right arm outstretched toward Maxwell.

Grasping the side of the still-swinging door, Maxwell flung it shut.

The move was so quick and unexpected that Brimley had no time to defend himself; instead, his hand went through the upper glass of the door, and Brimley felt shards glass stick into his hand, and all the tendons in his elbow exploding. He screamed in pain and crumpled up against the door as Maxwell bounded down the steps toward the station wagon.

Grimacing from the pain in his arm, Brimley got to his feet and followed.
Well, that's just scary bad, isn't it?

So who wrote this dreck? I mean, it reads like the ultraviolent ramblings of a deeply troubled seventh grader.

It was. I wrote it, in seventh grade.

I wrote it by hand, on notebook paper I probably should have been using for school, and bound the whole thing in a purple folder with the title written in black block letters: THE ASASSIN. Yes, that's spelled incorrectly. As it is every time it's used in the first three chapters -- apparently, someone handed me a dictionary at some point between pages twelve and thirteen.

And it's atrocious. I mean, just awful, as you can plainly see. A socially inept twelve-year-old trying to write a love story (fittingly, all of the "love" stuff happens either before the story begins or between chapters) while at the same time writing a story about mafia hitmen when he understood nothing about violence and didn't know how the mob worked.

It's so, so deliciously bad. And yet I still have it -- I still keep it in its purple folder, with the red construction-paper title page beneath it and even a mock copyright page.

I gave it to my mom for a Christmas present one year, even though I had to do so apologetically. Yeah, get this, you'll never believe this: it wasn't finished. In fact, it's still not finished.

But my novel-in-progress ("More like novel-in-consideration," the voice in my head taunts me) is now titled Yet Another Assassin. 'Cause I honestly can't believe I wrote a phrase that...bad.

Did I say it was hard to get excited about the next Harry Potter movie? 'Cause that doesn't sound like something I'd say

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I still wish that little pissant had died trying the Kolvoord Starburst

An interesting thing happens to actors who portray characters on a Star Trek series. They attract legions of rabid, loyal fans, make gads of money, and then disappear off the face of the fucking planet.

With the exceptions of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart (and Alexander Siddig, whose brilliant performances in Kingdom of Heaven and Syriana were promptly ignored by everyone), the second the series finale ends, Star Trek actors waft away like vapor trails. I mean, when was the last time you saw Michael Dorn? Or Nana Visitor? Kate Mulgrew has receded back into whatever swamp wrought her upon us, and Colm Meaney's once-prolific career has dried up almost completely. George Takei gets a recurring role on Heroes because the creators know fanboys will giggle every time he appears, but when have you ever seen Nichelle Nichols without that little metal thing in her ear? Or Gates McFadden without a medical tricorder in her hand? And is Walter Koening even still alive?

(By the way, real Trekkies don't need to ask which characters those actors played. So I'm not gonna tell you.)

So it's always fun to stumble across a Trek actor in the present tense -- even if it's not one of your favorite actors, who didn't portray one of your favorite characters.

I found Wil Wheaton's blog today.

Wil, of course, played the role of Gene Roddenberry's inner child Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, bringing to life a character almost universally loathed and reviled. Here was this kid, all of fifteen, who was somehow smarter than every educated, experienced officer aboard the flagship of the Federation. Even the android.

And, of course, Wesley got to tool around the ship in his dorky "Acting Ensign" uniform, he got to fly the Enterprise, save the ship from certain doom on a regular basis, make out with Ashley Judd, and piss off the viewers nonstop. He was such an obvious surrogate for Gene Roddenberry (the Great Bird of the Galaxy's middle name was Wesley, don'tcha know), such a pathetically written Mary Sue that most viewers of the show hated him with a violent passion.

So there's still that instinct to hate the guy who played him on sight, even though I do remember him from other things -- namely Stand by Me, in which he had the lead role (and did quite well for himself). But I stumbled across Mr. Wheaton's blog today, and it was...interesting.

No, really. 'Cause he's a well-spoken guy. The first post I read actually sounded a lot like something I'd write: it was a rambling, passionate essay on his favorite album, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Which happens to be one of my favorite albums.

So apparently, Wil Wheaton is not that bad a guy. I'm just surprised to see him breathing -- after Next Gen, where'd he go? Some sort of Dharma Initiative deserted island, trapped in the Pearl taking notes? And was Terry Farrell or Nicole de Boer down there with him?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Think for yourself

You may recall an episode of Revolver I wrote about eighty years ago titled "The Long and Winding Road." While the feedback for Revolver episodes is generally pleasant and well-meaning, the most often-discussed scene of any in the whole of the series occurs in that episode: Jason and Patrick go through virtually an entire scene speaking only in Beatles song titles.
MICHAEL: Astros lost.

JASON: Cry, baby, cry.

MICHAEL: And we're still in the car, and the game's over. Which means Patrick owes Jason ten dollars.

PATRICK: ...When I get home?

JASON: You can't do that.

PATRICK: [handing it to him] I should have known better.

Jason takes the money. Everyone seems to wait for him to respond.

JASON: ...No reply.

MICHAEL: That's weak.

Jason shrugs.

JASON: I'm so tired.


Patrick points to someone in front of the car.


MICHAEL: You've used that one already.

PATRICK: ...She's a woman.

MICHAEL: Uh, sure.

JASON: Michelle?


JASON: Dizzy Miss Lizzie?


MICHAEL: That's probably it.

JASON: Lucy. In the sky. With diamonds.

MICHAEL: Or that.

PATRICK: Baby's in black.

MICHAEL: Yes, she is.

PATRICK: She loves you.

JASON: And I love her.

MICHAEL: Okay, really, maybe we should call this off. You're starting to creep me out.

PATRICK: ...That means a lot.

MICHAEL: Seriously.
I was told this was a little too dorky, even for me. So be it -- I was proud of it. I was helped, of course, by Beatles song titles -- so many of them just sound like everyday conversation. "I'll Be Back," "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party," "She Loves You," "You Can't Do That," "I Feel Fine," "Yes, It Is."

But now I read of a judge in Montana handing down an opinion with a similar feel:
If I were to overlook your actions and ‘Let It Be’, I would ignore that ‘Day in the Life’ on April 21, 2006. That night you said to yourself ‘I Feel Fine’ while drinking beer. Later, whether you wanted ‘Money’ or were just trying to ‘Act Naturally’ you became the ‘Fool on the Hill’ on on North 27th Street. As ‘Mr Moonlight’ at 1.30am, you did not ‘Think for Yourself’ but just focused on ‘I, Me, Mine’.
Great minds think alike? Or greatly dorky minds think alike? And I love the idea that he was inspired by a misspelling -- as you know, that stuff drives me up the wall.

But mine's better.