Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Haven't been here in a while.... sorry.

Here's a quick graffiti report:

Only hipocrittes write on bathroom wallz.

I thought it slightly clever, and it made me laugh, and then think, and then laugh a little again.

But, it probably should have said:

Only horribull mispellers write on bathroom wallz.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

Giant microbes update!!

They've added Ebola and Black Death!!

This stuff rocks.

I might be more inclined to give someone the other new one since I checked last: Beer and Bread yeast microbe. It's a smidge friendlier. And check out his eyes... he looks a little drunk.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Literati Update:

I just beat Jiya (I should have been writing my newsletter, it's already late, but the words wouldn't come), who was at 1716, and I was at 1691.

I won!

He's down to a 1699, and I have broken the ELUSIVE 1700 mark! I am at 1708!! The world better be on the lookout! Look out, the world, here I come!

I know, I know, I have a problem.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

  • THE THING: "Help" on the phone from UPS.
          Customer service
              doesn't have to be perfect.
                  Please, at least, just try.
    I ordered a package of stuff from Homestar Runner -- a CD and some little models of some of the characters.

    I filled in the order form quickly, because the place had most of my info already, which was great! My faithful readers will know that I have recently moved. Well, when I got the confirmation e-mail for the order... they had my old address! ACK!

    I quickly whipped off an e-mail saying that the address was wrong and I needed to change it. They immediately responded that I needed to talk to UPS. So I called.

    ME: Hi. I'm an idiot. I just placed an order with a company and they had my old address. I need to change the delivery address, if possible.

    UPS PERSON: Sure! You can't do it now, though, you have to wait until it hits the hub near you. It will on Monday -- just call back then! No problem.


    Monday comes around... I call.

    ME: Hi. I'm an idiot. I just placed an order with a company and they had my old address. I need to change the delivery address, if possible. I talked to someone last week, and they said I could call back now and do that.

    UPS PERSON: You can't do it until the driver makes one delivery attempt.

    ME: What? Why?

    UPS PERSON: So that we know it is the wrong address.

    ME: BUT, if the driver comes and there is no one there, won't he just leave it at the house?

    UPS PERSON: Yes.

    ME: Well that's a problem! If he leaves it, the homeowners might just trash it. There is a chance that I will never see this stuff!

    UPS PERSON: That's the way it is. It'll be delivered today. If it is rejected, you can try tomorrow.

    ME: Great...

    ... and I hung up.

    So, I called back the next day.

    ME: Hi. I'm an idiot. I just placed an order with a company and they had my old address. I need to change the delivery address, if possible. I talked to someone last week, and they said I could call back now and do that. And I talked to someone yesterday, and they said that the driver would have to make an attempt first. That should have happened by now, so I am seeing if the package was rejected. (I gave him my tracking number.)

    UPS PERSON: Actually, it hasn't been delivered yet at all.

    ME: Oh. Well, I guess I can't fix it then. The person told me I can't change it until the driver tries once. Is that true?

    UPS PERSON: Yes.

    ME: You see, I was just worried that he will just leave it there, and the people wouldn't want to have to call UPS back so they just throw it away.

    UPS PERSON: Yeah, that would be bad.

    ME: So you can't fix it.

    UPS PERSON: Well, I can try. See, we can send a message over to the hub and the drivers, and if they get the message in time. They might not, though. There's no guarantee.

    ME: [silence.]

    UPS PERSON: So. Would you like me to try?

    ME: [longer, even more dumbfounded silence.]

    UPS PERSON: Sir?

    ME: YES! OHMIGOD are you freaking kidding me??

    UPS PERSON: Excuse me?

    ME: You even have to ask THAT QUESTION? Yes, try!! That is what I have been asking for all along!! I don't want you to hop on a pony and scurry over with a handwritten sealed message!! Just try! Are you kidding?

    UPS PERSON: I'm not kidding, sir.

    ME: Well then DO IT! Holy crap. The other person I talked to could have TRIED, as well???

    UPS PERSON: If she wanted to, yes sir.

    ME: [extremely dumbfounded silence. punctuated by exasperated gasps.]

    UPS PERSON: So, I'll send the message over, and they will get back to you within the hour with a result.

    And they did. And it was fixed.

    Holey moley.

    I am unsure that I will be able to finish my life without taking someone else's.

    I think I am getting old and crotchety.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Another Literati update: (yes, I have a sickness...)

1578. Played a few games against a few different people. Lost 1, won 2.

It seems harder to move up than down. Actually when you beat stronger players, your score goes up more than when you beat people below you. It almost makes the game like a role playing game with experience points and such. I am a masterful word wizard on a grand quest for treasure and fame! As I defeat the greatest foes my experience grows! As I fail in battle, my level of life reduces somewhat. I am a great warrior!

OK, I'm just a geek. I know it. Stop laughing.

Literati update:

1569. I just beat Missyella1. She was a good, funny, clever player.

  • THE THING: The game Literati.
          If you like Scrabble™
              This is the game for you.
                  Online all the time!
    I am now addicted to an online game. It's dangerous.

    I actually heard about it from Jack Black, when he was on the Daily Show. He mentioned that he played it all the time.

    This game is called Literati, and it is basically like Scrabble, design-wise. You get seven letters, and you have to place them, crossword-puzzle-style on a board.

    The design of the board is slightly different (you place the tiles on the intersections of lines, and the double- and triple-value spaces are in different places), and the point spread is smaller (the Q and Z are worth '5').

    Also, I think the tile distribution is actually somewhat RANDOM.

    It's just great to be able to hop pon, play a quick game and get off.

    Except -- if you play a game labelled as "rated", they keep your rating, so you can see how you do against all the other players.

    Right now I am a 1557. My highest so far: 1623.

    The highest I've seen on the site was in the 1870's...

    I could get there. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

  • THE THING: Cranky in the cafe
          Dear every stranger:
              If you lecture me, prepare
                  for a lecture back.
    I was here late the other night at work. After a long day, and before what would prove to be an annoying night, I decided to go to the cafeteria for a salad. I just wanted a salad. Not a hassle.

    I got my food, and got a large Cherry Coke from the soda fountain thingy. They have styrofoam cups for this purpose. I used it appropriately, and moved down to the line to pay for my food.

    A student was in front of me. She was a sort of goth looking thing, and she was clicking her teeth as I set my tray down next to her. I really don't care what you wear, but if you are going to wear pants AND a skirt, you really have nothing to say to me. Especially when I'm cranky.

    Alas, she made her annoyed clicky sound one more time, and said, in an exasperated, breathy voice, "I just have to say this: That styrofoam cup is terrible for the environment. It doesn't decompose ever. You should use one of these!", and she proudly held up one of the cups they have for coffee. It is a white cardboard cup with the coffee brand name on it.

    I knew that I was about to do one of three things:

    (1) Punch her right in the mouth. I dismissed this idea, expecting that I might be fired.
    (2) Say, "You're right!", and dump the soda down the front of her black leather chained jacket and skirt and pants. I expected a similar result as (1), so I decided against this, as well.
    (3) Just get righteous back. If not righteous-er.

    I went with (3).

    "You're crazy." I told her.

    It was as if I had chosen (1) or (2) above. I honestly thought that her left eye was going to come flying out of it's socket into my face.

    "Wha--? Wha--? Wha--?" she stammered.

    Listen, I used to me Mr. Environmental Guy. I was Mr. Vegetarian Guy for about 10 years. I have grown up and gotten old and bitter. I have gone back to eating meat and not freaking out over styrofoam cups. I still pack up my recycling and take it to the recycling center. I do my little things, but I'm not nutty about it. And I was in no mood to hear it from goth girl.

    "You're crazy," I told her again. [The following rant is not word for word. I have filled in a couple words here and there that probably would have sounded better, but all of the major points were in there.] "This is way better for the environment than your cup. You said it yourself: mine does not decompose. It does not become part of the environment. Yours has bleaches and dyes that will become part of the system. Mine goes to the landfill, and soon we will have to deal with it. I am actually even accelerating the technology to deal with it."

    Her head was shaking back and forth. Actually it was more like twitching. Have you ever seen a cat or a dog pick up a toy, and shake it real quick back and forth? I guess it's trying to make sure it's dead or something... anyway, her head was doing that -- twitchytwitchytwich. twitchytwitchytwitch. And her eyes were blinking in an odd way. "You don't understand," she said, "even though it doesn't decompose, it's still toxic and animals can eat it and some chemicals leach out..."

    I just nodded, eyes wide in a patronizing way. I leaned forward and said, kind of whispery, "If you really cared, you'd bring a reusable mug."

    She just huffed and paid for her stuff and left.

    Don't lecture me when I'm cranky.

Monday, November 17, 2003

  • THE THING: An overheard discussion.
          It's always funny
              when street talk meets vegetables.
                  I'm glad I was there.
    I just heard the craziest conversation in the cafeteria here at the college.

    There were two guys (we'll refer to them as "inner city" folks) chatting as they approached the salad bar.

    I will try to recreate the conversation here. There is NO exaggeration in speaking style, in fact, I'm likely leaving out a lot of the street lingo, since I just don't have a lot of modern gangsta in me. I wish you could have heard it... you would understand so much more.

    I didn't see what they were looking at when one of them said, "Damn! Did you see that!? I gots ta get me some of that!"

    "Yeah, I saw that. Looks sweet to me. Let's get on that."

    And each one went to one side of the salad bar. Apparently they had been viewing a salad. I like salad as much as the next person, (possibly more, if there is hunks of cheese and balsamic vinegar around... MMmmmMMMmm...) but I would not have imagined these blokes discussing it in this fashion. They continued...

    "Yo! You have GOT to get some of that stuff on here!"

    "What stuff?"

    "You know, B! The stuff! That stuff, yo. You know."

    "Nah, man, what's the stuff?"

    A pause for thought. And then: "Ranch."


    "Yeah. Ranch."

    "Don't you mean Ceasar??"

    "Oh, yeah. That's right. Ceasar. Ranch is whack."

    "You were buggin' when you said 'Ranch'."


Thursday, November 06, 2003

  • THE THING: The visit from my landlord.
    [There's just no haiku I could put for this. So I shall skip that part.]

    My landlord is a very nice guy. He lives upstairs, and I live downstairs. I basically live in a bar. Most of my apartment is a bar. It's a big bar.

    Anyway, my landlord and I get along quite well; he comes and hangs out sometimes. We chat -- it's cool.

    Also, I am keeping watch over his 1966 jukebox. It's a wonderful machine. I love having it there. I almost didn't want to keep it in there, because the apartment is a little small. But it's too sweet, and too bar-related to move it. It rocks.

    A little over a week ago, the jukebox decided to stop actually making any music. The records would spin -- no sound would emit from the speaker. My landlord wanted to come and look at it. We both work and are away at odd hours, so we rarely are home at the same time.

    A couple nights ago, we were. He yelled down through the door between the upstairs and downstairs, "HEY! Wanna look at the jukebox?!" I said, "Sure."

    So he came down. Wearing a t-shirt and just his tighty whiteys.


    He and I get along well. BUT NOT THAT WELL! Just to complete the picture for you: He weighs in around 275. The t-shirt was green. And I was wrong in naming the drawers tighty whiteys. His BVDs were more of a powder blue color. So -- here we are -- me and a big fella basically wearing just baby blue briefs.

    I spent the whole time looking up. There was just a lot I did not want to see. My brain was screaming, "Throw on some shorts, man!" But I just couldn't actually say it for some reason.

    We were working on the jukebox for a while, and he realized that we needed to remove the amp. He told me so: "Well, someone's got to get down there and get that amp out of there."

    "I GOT IT!" I blurted out, trying to avoid seeing him bending, crouching, ratcheting, and tugging in his skivvies.

    We got all done, and I went to go back and play a video game or two. I sat on the couch, which is right across from the bar. He decided he wanted to stay and chat, which is normally fine, but I had had my fill of big-man-in-underpants for one night. He sat down at the bar and kept chatting. I picked up my game controller and stared directly at the TV. Since I was sitting on the couch, and he was at the bar, his underthings and the package they held were basically at eye level. I was frightened.

    I didn't hear anything he was saying. I just had a voice in my head chanting: "Just play the game... just play the game... don't turn your head..." I didn't want to be rude, but I just had to draw the line at eye contact -- the possiblilty of eye contact with man-underthings was too great.

    As he headed upstairs, I realized that not only had I not looked at him for the last 25 minutes, but I don't think I had even breathed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

  • THE THING: The 80's music website quiz thingy.
          Resisting a lot
              of these nostalgia programs.
                  I caved in right here.
    I'm kind of sick of all the remember-the-80's sorts of shows out there. I do remember the 80's, and there was some cool, funny, cheesy, wonderful, sappy, silly, glittery, fishnetty, stonewashed-jeany, break-dancey, hippity-hoppity things that happened. For some reason I can only take about 20 minutes of any of the shows... but most people I know that are in my age-bracket love them. I don't know why I keep resisting.

    While visiting Blog, Shmog, there was a link. It looked a little like this:


    I had to find out the dealie-o. So I went there.

    Wow. I had no idea of how much of my brain contained musical crud from the 80's. I will be singing most of these songs all day. There were over 100 lyrical questions there. My brain actually hurts.

    I scored a 69, which I thought was somewhat respectable; at least better than I thought I would. It should have been just a smidge higher. It stinks that you have to put each word in a different blank. Be careful about that... (I hope this isn't any kind of a spoiler for one of the answers: I put white and wedding in the same box, so it came out as white wedding blank. NO POINTS! Urg. And, yes, I reversed lonely and broken, which was just silly.)

    There were many that I could sing the entire line of the song in my head, sometimes the entire song, except for the word that was missing!

    If you have a 1/2 hour, at least, to kill, go check it out.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

  • THE THING: The bathroom closest to my office
          writing on the wall.
              old urine-caked toilet seat.
                  loogie in the sink.
    Ah, there's just nothing better than slamming your butt cheeks down onto a toilet seat... and sticking there.

    (If you haven't figured it out already, this might not be the best blog to read for the weak-of-stomach.)

    The students here are unreal... There are FIVE urinals! FIVE. If you need to pee, use them. Or if you absolute need to use the stall toilets, please lift up the seat. How hard is that??

    Urg. Everytime I go in there, it is like instead of a hose-shaped penis, the last user actually had an entire sprinkler system. It's incredible how much urine is on the seats, floor, walls, etc.

    So, I usually carry a Lysol Sanitizing Wipe™ (Citrus Scent) in there with me to try to eliminate a little of the hordes of giant microbes that are in there with me.

    At leats I can come out and wash my hands and end the horrific experience with a false sense of cleanliness.

    Alas, no.

    I exited the stall to see a student horking up phlegm in front of the mirror, and spits the most viscous loogie I have ever seen. It hits smack-dab on top of the faucet spout, and stretches down to make a connected line from the faucet to the bottom of the sink. There would be no way to wash your hands without getting snot on your hands.

    Just yummy.

    This little jar of Purell™ in my office is not going to last very long.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

  • THE THING: GIANT MICROBES!! (look out!)

          if a regular
              disease just isn't enough,
                  get it supersized!

    We've been waiting for this for some time... Now you can get for yourself, or give to a friend, many of your favorite diseases!

    Streptococcus! (Yep, they have strep throat.)
    And what could be more sweet than giving a lover mono! Yes, they have the Epstein-Barr virus! Also, known as the kissing disease, you're sure to get lucky when you plant this 10,000,000:1 scale virus on your sweetie.

    They even have Porphorymonas Gingivalis. Yep, that's the sucker that causes bad breath.

    They even have a theoretical microbe -- FROM MARS!! (OK, OK, I might have to get that one. It's work related. Shut up.)

    Go browse around the site. Athlete's Foot, Ulcer causing microbes -- ALL your faves are here.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

  • THE THING: Steve Burns.
          Once had a kids' show,
              is now a rock and roll star.
                  He's my new hero.
    Steve Burns rocks. Period.

    Go check him out!

    This is Steve Burns. The dude from Blues Clues. The show loved by little kids and their mothers and the occasional stoned college kids. And, Steve claims, Swedish au pairs.

    Well, now he's in a rock band.... and they are wonderful! Mighty Little Man is catchy as anything.... You can actually hear three whole songs from the album, if you want. It's way cool. He collaborated with at least one dude from the Flaming Lips. Geez.

    I think I need to buy this disc. Go listen.

    And as you persuse the webiste, realize how much he has not tried to distance himself from Blue's Clues. He realizes who he is and what he's accomplished and is proud of it all. It's quite nifty, really.

Two quick graffiti notes -- sans haiku (sorry! Or perhaps I should say "you're welcome!").

On the wall in one of the bathroom stalls in the men's room closest to my office someone wrote:

I thought it odd.

ALSO, above each urinal someone penned:
* bonk *

...right at forehead level. I think it is a frustration relief device; you can pee and bonk your head on the wall at the same time.

I might use it, at some point!

  • THE THING: The life of Elliot Smith (1969-2003)
          Sweet musicianship,
              unassuming vocalist,
                  lyrics to ponder.
    Damn -- woke up to discover that Elliot Smith had apparently killed himself with a knife to the chest.

    He has some wonderful stuff. I just about wore out the CD Figure 8... can you wear out a CD?? I swear I did. I'm hoping it still has a little life left in it so I can listen to it later.

    His music is gentle and smooth. His voice is always trying to express something, but you can almost hear a hesitation to it. His lyrics obviously have more to say than a casual listener could ever begin to understand. I still remember the first time I heard Son of Sam and thinking that it was the most creative arrangement I had heard in a long time. So, I bought the CD, and the second song turned out to be the most amazing guitar work I had heard in a while... check out Somebody that I Used to Know. Nice progression; easy to like.

    Other songs on Figure 8 include "Everything Means Nothing to Me", "Better Be Quiet Now", and "Easy Way Out". I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that he was on a suicide path.

    But I can still be a but shocked and dismayed. And I am.

    Yeeps... he was basically my age.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

  • THE THING: The movie The Italian Job.
          Honor among theives.
              When that gets disrespected,
                  bad things may occur.
    I rented the Italian Job from the campus movie rental. A buck a day -- you can't go wrong.

    I liked it! It was quite cool. If you've seen any preview for the movie, then you know what the premise is. If you haven't, just check it out. There are a couple a heists, and a series of events which tie them together. There's only bad guys, which is kind of nifty. It's not cops vs. robbers, it's robbers vs. robbers.

    I'm not sure why I liked it! There aren't any real twists or surprises. There are no long, drawn out fight scenes. There are no big firefights. The explosions which occur are precise and subdued. The was no novelty in the car chases.

    I guess the graceful cinematography, the easy acting, and the simplicity of the story are what gave me the good feelings as I was watching it. I won't run out and buy this, but if it's ever on TV, I might check it out again.

    There's nothing here to blow you away, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I think.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: A perfect $7. A very pleasant rental.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

  • THE THING: This movie: The Rundown
          Deep like a puddle.
              Fighting. Shooting. Explosions.
                  What did you expect?
    I'm reviewing a movie which is starring someone who has named himself after a generic geological term. Oof.

    Actually, it was kind of fun. There are some nifty fight scenes. There are some deep entanglements. It's basically one big bungle in the jungle.

    The good: Action! There really was not much down time. There was some wild fight scenes. There was one where the Rock gets pretty obliterated by these South American martial arts masters. I never saw anybody punch so fast (except maybe Bruce Lee -- nod to Berchi).

    Christopher Walken was as Walken-esque as ever. That's always fun to watch. He did have some lines that felt like they were going somewhere but didn't. I can't really explain it, and it basically went with his character anyway, so I can't really complain.

    And the scenery was gorgeous. The photography was quite nice. There is one scene where they are focused on The Rock and his little clan of people in the woods, and the focus needs to switch to their pursuers -- there is a tremendous pan away and then zoom... it's really a nice effect. It obviously stuck with me. Look for it.

    The bad: (I don't think this is really a spoiler, sorry if it is...) The movie spents an unprecedented amount of time talking about how The Rock's character does not like guns. They harp on it for a while. It's brought up in about 1/2 of the scenes. And they lean towards explaining it, but they just never do. It seemed like such an important part of the tale, and it just got left dangling. What an icky loose end for me. Perhaps I'm expecting too much from a movie of this ilk.

    The ugly: Seann William Scott. I don't know why, but this guy annoys the piss out of me. He's probably supposed to but.... urg. Every time he got punched in the face, I wanted to stand up and cheer. He had a funny moment when he was trying to take a leak in the woods -- the problem: his hands were tied behind his back. Besides that he was just weasel-y. Perhaps it's the American Pie tie-in that bugs me -- it's one of the only movies I had to turn off in the middle because I despised it so. And I'm usually easily amused.

    Maybe it's the extra "n" he added to his name somewhere around 1999.

    Maybe I should rent "Dude, Where's My Car?" He was probably very good in that.

Final Score on the Chris worth scale: $6... The price of the matinee I went to see. It was just right.

Friday, September 26, 2003

  • THE THING: A house closing
          Never sell a house.
              Nice people become evil,
                  and lawyers lick ass.
    I've been away from Blogging for a while... I wondered if I still remembered how.

    Apparently, I do.

    So we closed on a house last night. It was not fun at all. The whole process started out nice -- nice people, we did a lot of things for them -- cut the price of the house by $13,000, let them store stuff in the yards, take days off work to have different people come to the house to look at things, make special trips to the house so they could measure and test paint colors, let their whole family come, uninvited, to hang out there.

    And then they turned around and screwed us. They had agreed to assume the sewer assessment, which was about $900 a year... turned out to be $8000 all together. Well, the contract we signed didn't include any mention of it. We didn't know it was supposed to be in there! APPARENTLY, if it's not in there, in falls to the seller. Our lawyer tells us this AFTER WE SIGNED THE DAMN THING! He tells us that is the way the law is, and that we should have known and made sure it was in there. I immediately wondered what we were paying him for!!! If we're supposed to know everything we could just do it OURSELVES! And he is a whiny, sniveling little worm. So I asked what we could do... he said, "Nothing. That's the law. You will lose if you try to fight this. The best you could hope for is tieing it up in the court system for two years, at the end of which you will still lose." Great.

    So I call the buyers to try to appeal to their sense of morality. Apparently their lawyers had scraped that away before I got to them. They caved a little, but they really just gave us a token amount to appease the whiny sellers. The whiny sellers who have given them EVERYTHING -- a BRAND NEW stove, a practically new washer and dishwasher, and we left about $1000 of lawn care equipment (hedge trimmers, lawnmower, weedwacker, fertilizer/seed sprayer, and other random tools) to welcome them to the new house! I'm glad I haven't mowed in 2 months.

    Basically, our lawyer screwed us, they're lawyer screwed us more, and the buyers backed them up.

    My only hope is that the deer have wandered through enough of the knee deep grass to deposit thousands of Lyme Disease ridden ticks that will infect them and their offspring with an incurable debilitating disease.

    I don't get angry. Ever. Not really -- I mean I make jokey empty threats at drivers that annoy me, and I never wish people ill. But now I'm angry. I don't like it.

    And, although it doesn't feel like it -- at least it is over.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

  • THE THING: Some plane flights I just had.
          Getting on a plane
              is always an adventure.
                  People frighten me.
    I'm BAAAaaaaAAAACK!

    Sorry, everyone, for the break in writing. I only think about 3 people ever look at this Blog, so I could actually apologize to all of you personally. I was away for a little while, and just returned from a grandparental visit to South Carolina. There were 4 airplane flights required to get there (2 hops on the way down, 2 back). I feel kind of cheap and dirty complaining about air travel -- you might as well complain that the Arctic is chilly -- but there is Blogging to be done!

    First, I must whine about the process of getting on a plane. We were sitting towards the back of the plane on one of the legs of the trip, and they usually load up the plane starting from the back, so we were called to load ourselves up onto the plane pretty early on. First they call for people with special needs and 1st class, then they start with the high rows and move their way forward. This is for efficiency... the people heading for the back can cram their oversized luggage into the overhead rack -- it doesn't slow down the loading process.

    As we got on, my father noted, as we were waiting for someone in row 8 to cram his 6 foot tall garment bag into an overhead compartment, and looking around at the smattering of seats filled with bodies, "Why are all these people near the front already on the plane? I don't see any babies or people with special needs!" And he was right. As soon as they opened the plane, the people just went on as they felt like it. Why can't people just get on when they are called? This way, we don't all get squished into the front of the plane while some mushbrain tries to cram the entire inventory of the first floor of Macy's into a bin the size of a glove compartment.

    Perhaps I heard them wrong -- the public address system in Charlotte may have had a little static -- it might have said, "Now boarding flight 873 for Atlanta. We will start by boarding First Class, small children travelling alone, people with special needs, or any weenis who thinks he can just do whatever he damn well pleases, and will do whatever he feels like anyway." I know that dude in row 8 would have jumped up for that.

    On one of the legs there was another annoying human. He was sitting directly in front of me. He didn't bug me directly, but I sincerely felt for the flight attendants. He had a little trouble with his tray table. He tried to put his tray table up, and turn the little latch to hold it, but it only went over the tray a smidge, and when the plane started to taxi, it fell down towards him. He complained to the stewardess as we were heading for the runway. She asked him to hold it up for a minute until we take off and she would look at it in the air.

    My father was across the aisle, and noticed that a magazine was crammed up underneath the tray, and that was the cause of this man's woe. Dad pointed it out, but annoying little man didn't want to hear it at all. He just bit back, "NO! It's broken!" and proceeded to slam it against the seat in front of him with a vigor that the person in that seat could not have appreciated.

    Once we were in the air, the stewardess drifted back, and he went all sorts of ballistic: "THIS WON'T STAY UP!" Slam! Slam! Slam! "This is an FAA violation, you realize!" Slam! Slam! "You need to fix this immediately!" Slam! He said it with a tone that suggested that the entire situation was the fault of the flight attendant, and that she should whip out her tray fixing kit and repair it on the spot. She offered to reseat him bit he snarled, "I'm sitting with my family!" His wife and daughter were curled up like snails, seemingly trying to pretend he didn't exist.

    He had a newspaper with him, and decided that it would help if jammed the sunday edition of the New York times behind the tray table. He then slammed the tray up a few more times. If it wasn't broken before, bending the tray table around an inch and a half of crumpled newspaper took care of that.

    The plane landed, and he told his wife and 8ish year old child (who had a shirt on which said something like -- "All Night Slumber Party - Bring the boys and make some noise!!" I somehow couldn't find that age-appropriate) that he would "just meet them outside..." and he rushed off and left them there to wrestle with his luggage.

    I am stunned by any human that is that miserable. My jaw is still dropped open just a little bit. Dude, just off yourself if your life is that miserable and just exists to make everyone else miserable.

    Other than that, the flights were pretty good!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

  • THE THING: The game called: Safari Jack Remix.

          A few simple rules...
              You get playing in minutes.
                  Easy and novel.

    Ah, another Cheapass Game. They make nifty stuff. For someone who collects games (like me), it's nice to have ones like Safari Jack for many reasons... let me count the ways...

    First, it's a nifty concept: You and an opponent are competing on safari -- you are each trying to collect the most animal samples. Safari! What could be more fun! OK, maybe 2 or 3 things, but it's still a fun, wild concept.

    Second, it's easy. A turn is just: pick a card, lay down a card, and move one space. There are 4 different terrains, and you need to place a terrain card adjacent to one of the same type. OR, you can place the card face down -- it acts as a 'base camp', which is a sort of wild card. If you get on a space that has a point value, you get that many points. You cannot move onto the tile you just laid down, so there is some serious strategy involved. Once someone gets to 15 points, the safari has been won... scoop up the cards and shuffle again.

    Third, it's quick. A game lasts about 11 to 13 minutes. The first game or two might take a little longer, but once you get into the swing of things, you can zip through a game. You can run through a few rounds on a lunch hour.

    Fourth, it's cheap! Five bucks! All you get are the cards and the directions in the pouch. You need to add tokens to act as your little safari venturing dude, and 2 sets of counters to mark the points that have been claimed. Some people whine about not getting all the necessary pieces, but it keeps the price down, and I always enjoy personalizing my cheapass games with my own tokens and counters. I went out and bought some glass-bead-nugget things in red and yellow to mark the two teams, and I made little safari-dude hats to march around the tiles. It's almost as if they were made for it. (Or at least I like the think so.)

    Fifth, it's small! It's part of the Cheapass Games Hip Pocket series. All the games are hip, AND fit in your pocket (thus, it's an appropriate name...)... hardly as large as a deck of cards. So, they are easy to tote, and easy to store.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $9.95. The game is actually just $5!! That is a steal. If you play it five or ten times, it's found its value... I hope you'll play this one a lot more...

Monday, August 25, 2003

  • THE THING: This TV show: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge
          Japanese game show
              entertaining painful stunts
                  redubbed in English.
    Most Extreme Elimination Challenge (MXC) is on the Spike TV network (it used to be TNN, which used to stand for The National Network, which used to stand for The Nashville Network... I think).

    Is it so wrong to enjoy watching people subject themselves to horribly painful stunts?

    I have no idea of the actual point of the show, because they change it from the original Japanese. The show is a dubbed-over portrayal of a show called Takeshi's Castle. They contestants have to get through bunches of obstacles to get to the castle. All are hilarious. The Spinning Surfboard of Death. Sinkers and Floaters. Brass Balls. Basically, they are all ways to beat up the contestants. They have to wear a helmet, so they generally don't get TOO hurt.

    The dubbing obviously has NOTHING to do with the original dialogue. They replace the original speech with rapid-fire lewd comments and single entendres. It's just funny.

    When they first had it on, there was a 4 hour marathon, and I think I sat through every episode.

    It will be a long time until I get sick of this show.

    But, I am easily pleased.

    Just watch it.

Friday, August 22, 2003

  • THE THING: A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson, © 2003

          To see a snapshot
              of our world and our place here.
                  Humbling. Frightening.

    Bill Bryson is a pretty groovy dude. Another of his books: A Walk in the Woods is a true American journal classic. It's almost Bloggy in its frank and friendly style.

    A Short History of Nearly Everything is a bit different. Bryson has decided to take a sort of snapshot of what we know, scientifically, and dish it out in a simple organized fashion. He has become a sort of scientific translator, taking science-speak, and converting into something closer to a vernacular.

    He did a decent job.

    One of the nice things about it is that everybody will be familiar with something in this book. Some of the text will harken back to your school days, or perhaps discuss something you are interested in, or familiar with in some little way. He then fits it into the Grand Scheme of knowledge -- it's nice to see how your little nugget of info is part of the body of knowledge we have right now.

    At least how it fits into what we think we know right now.

    A few critical bits: I'm not very happy with the way it was organized. Sometimes it seemed to go chronologically according to discoveries, and sometimes it seemed to go chronologically according to what was discovered. Rarely do these things seem to jive... as our technology gets better, we tend to learn more about things further in the past. I had some problems stringing it all together. I honestly don't have a better suggestion for a layout, I was just a bit discombobulated at times.

    Also, I wish (just a smidge) that he had eliminated a lot of the wrong and disproven theories. There are many points where Bryson describes how we got to a certain way of thinking by discussing the ideas and research that was wrong first. It makes sense to do that, really... part of the point of the book is learning from past mistakes, but with a book of this scope, it just flicked bits of stuff at me that distracted me from the rest.

    It's easy to read, and I do highly recommend it. There are obviously a bunch more things in science that we know that are not included, but it is a good time capsule, of sorts, for much of current science. And it will certain give you some topics that would make good conversation starters. Necrotizing fasciitis, the reconstitutional ability of sponges, the likelihood that a civilization-ending meteor impact would give us less than a second warning, the fact that Yellowstone Park has been due to blow a choking layer of dust across most of the US for at least 30,000 years.... fun stuff like that!

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $18.75. And for something that comprehensively describes most of what your college textbooks (total cost, probably around $2000, depending on your course of study -- and science books are usually the most!) attempted, that is a pretty good price!

Thursday, August 21, 2003

  • THE THING: The kid peeing in the parking lot
          I'm not a parent
              nor do I wish to be, if
                  you have to do this.
    OK, I do work with a lot of little kids. But I'm not much in the way of parenting, and I've never really had a parental urge. I just don't get kids and kid care. I cannot begin to explain how horrified I was today... Maybe if you are a parent, it's not a big deal, but for me... well, there was horror.

    I was going to the mall. The mall is a safe, innocent place to go. It has lots of shops and things to look at. It has free air conditioning when it is hot out. And today, it was HOT out.

    On the way into the mall, standing next to a van, was a mom and her son. He must have been somewhere between 1 and 2 years old. ANd he must have had to go to the bathroom. As I glanced back, he was standing there, arms akimbo. His pants were around his ankles. His mom was holding little willy at attention, and he was proudly peeing onto the parking lot. In plain sight. It was odd and horrible. That sight is going to haunt me for a long while.

    And I was totally flabbergasted! How did they get that point? Does the kid just say, "Mommy, I have to pee!", and then Mom tells him, "Well, Joey, whip out the little nubbin, and I'll point it in the right direction, and you can just let fly!"

    I don't think I could ever be a parent.

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

  • THE THING: Origami Boulders

          new twist on classic
              paper folding art; brilliant
                  business idea!


    Pure genius.

    It's a rare commidty. All the good ideas have been thought of already! The sponge. The jar. The pencil. The shoelace. Q-tips. Gummi candy. Scotch tape. Dial tones. Back scratchers. Pringles. A dustpan. College-ruled lined paper. The harmonica. Those cool folding camp chairs. Frisbees. Etch a Sketch. Welcome mats. Oral thermometers. Paper airplanes. Moccasins. The Invisible Dog Leash.

    What's left? There's nothing left!

    Alas, I was wrong. Someone, whose abilities can only be described as artistic genius, designed a new must-have product.

    The Origami Boulder. It's the ultimate desktop or shelf-top design element. And room in your house will feel the feng shui emminating from an origami boulder. Each is an original hand made work of art.

    I think everyone's getting boulders for christmas from me this year.

    [And scroll down to the bottom and read the "Letters from Dumb Dumbs". I almost wet myself. People get so worked up over some silly things.]

Monday, August 18, 2003

  • THE THING: The Homestar Runner website

          ingenously drawn,
              skillfully animated,
                  and funny as hell.

    This is WAY too overdue. I have been addicted to the Homestar Runner world for a while now. I'm not exactly sure how long, but many, many months have elapsed since I first happened upon this wonderful outpost on the Internet...

    So, why do I go there? Well, go see. Peruse the cartoons... the animation comes in more styles than I can mention. There is the regular Homstar Runner gang, but there is also cartoons based on animation from the 1920's -- a sort of parallel universe. The full-length cartoons are hilarious, but the shorts are sweet nuggets of funniness, too. Strong Bad answers e-mails on, generally, a weekly basis, with humorous results!

    The characters are brilliantly built --
    Homestar Runner ("It's dot com!!")
    Marzipan ("I'm the only girl!")
    The Strong Brothers:
    Strong Bad ("You don't know it yet, but I'M the reason you're here. Check me out. No, seriously, check me out")
    Strong Mad ("KEEP IT ROLLIN'!!", and Strong Sad ("I always get locked in the bathtub.")

    There's Bubs, the concession stand owner (you just have to see him), Coach Z ("..pronounced with an 'oach Z'!"), and The Poopsmith, who does, indeed, smith the poop, and is currently respecting a vow of silence. Pom Pom and The King of Town round out the crew. Well, there is the "typo character": Homsar ("Don't look now, I'm just a friendly reminder"), who could be the funniest of all, in a surrealistic sort of way.

    The allusions riddled throughout are incredible. The Strong Bad e-mails are worth watching a few times to see the odd hidden interactive parts scattered throughout.

    There's a couple games in there, too... the Trogdor (the Burninator) game is unbelievably fun, in an Atari 2600 sort of way.

    The Homestar Runner site is exactly what web-based entertainment should be. Seriously.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

  • THE THING: Getting everything out of the attic.
          Steps, dust, sweat, dark, low.
              Forty silverfish, one for
                  each attic visit.
    Today was Get Everything Out of The Attic Day! And I have succeeded!

    I am amazed. It has to be 120 degrees up there. And it took me forty trips (YEP, I counted!) up and back to get everything out. A few things (sleeping bags, and a couple other soft things) could be tossed down gently, but mostly I had to lug it all down a box at a time. Whoof.

    I am going to rename the attic The Silverfish Sauna. Each time I went up, it seemed, I saw another one basking in the ultra-tropical splendor that is the attic. I actually don't think I killed as many as forty, but I did squash a bunch of those little buggers as I was up there. I'm pretty sure I got the whole lot of them. None survived -- at least that is what is going on my report.

    Now I am filling up the tub with some lukewarm water to bring down my body temperature. Seriously, right now I am hot blooded. Check it, and see. I've got a fever of 103.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

  • THE THING: This book: Mobius Highway by Howard V. Hendrix

          poetically ripe,
              prognosticatingly told,
                  science fiction tales.

    This is a collection of a dozen or so short sci fi stories. There is a bit of variety here... but they seemed to have little threads which chained them together.

    The stories were rife with socio-politico-religio-techno-predictions. Example: there are a couple stories which take place in the not-too-distant future, where the stars on the American flag have been replaced with a single white cross. VERY interesting...

    There is some cyberpunk-ian moments, which are always groovy to read, I think. It drifts from descriptive narrative-y things to violence and hate crimes, pretty fluidly. The shortest tale is a nearly incomprehensible poem, of sorts, called "Chameleon on a Mirror". The concept behind the title involves the consideration of: What colors would a chameleon turn if you were to place it in a box which was lined exclusively with mirrors? It was kind of a fun thing to think about for a few seconds...

    I ripped through most of them quickly (though, for the time that it spent on my "Currently reading.." list, it wouldn't seem so!), and enjoyed nearly all in some fashion.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $5.09. Which is exactly how much I paid for it... I think that's the first time that has happened.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

  • THE THING: The USA TV show called Monk.

          Detective series
              that is clever and funny.
                  Neurotically great!

    I have been wanting to see this show for at least a year now. I somehow find Tony Shalhoub extremely funny. He was in Barton Fink, and the Men in Black movies. He was even funny in Wings, and, dare I say it, Stark Raving Mad.

    But I had no idea how good he can be. He's a detective who seems to have some neurotic disorders. He's sort of obsessive compulsive, with a great attention to detail. He seems to be a savant, somewhat, as well. This makes for a fine detective!

    I never really thought of myself as a fan of crime shows. That is, until I realized that I would watch Columbo any time it was on. My Law & Order addiction has reached medicate-able levels. If you can cram a good actor, a bunch of humor, and a decent detective story into the same show.... well, we certainly have something!

    I know I've only seen a single episode, but I can't recommend this program enough. I enjoyed it from the start. The acting is enjoyable. The crime/detective parts are creative and puzzling. The character subtext is involved, but they give you enough information so you can jump right in.

    And I recommend that you jump right in.

    [LATER EDITION UPDATE: Holy moley!! HOW COULD I FORGET Galaxy Quest!! Dang, that was funny -- especially for a geek like me. And Tony was amazing in that film. Amazing. I know I am going to get in trouble for saying this, but only Johhny Depp is as flexible an actor. Seriously -- Johnny Depp (did you see Edward Scissorhands? Did you see Ed Wood? Did you see Blow? Amazing.), and Tony Shalhoub -- numbers 1 and 2 in my book. SERIOUSLY.


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

  • THE THING: The graffiti in the bathroom.
          Writing on the wall.
              Are they artists or vandals?
                  Probably neither.
    Yes, I am about to do a review of what some fellows wrote while taking a poop.

    What is it about being in a toilet stall that causes people to feel inspired to write on the wall? Can someone tell me, please?

    Of course, the writing is usually vile, sometimes interesting, and occasionally cryptic.

    Here's a couple of writings I've noticed --

    Someone wrote:
    Only thru [sic] pain are we truly alive.

    Someone else decided to respond:
    Pain is only an illusion.

    And a final answer, which appeared, due to its placement and sentiment, to be directed at both of them:
    You are SO cliché.

    I thought it was some intrepid conversation for a bathroom stall wall. I mean, this is deep stuff... deeper than the bowl next to which it is written...

    Another quick one before I go... someone had written, quite a while ago, the following:
    Celine Dion is beautiful.

    For weeks that stood there, unadulterated on the bathroom wall. It was high up, in a very reverent position as graffiti goes. I couldn't imagine how people could just let that stay there, and not place a witty, abusive rejoinder!

    Finally, I noticed that someone had written some advice for the author of the above message:
    Kill yourself.

    That's better.

Monday, August 04, 2003

  • THE THING: Trying to find a kid-friendly myth.
          Looking for a tale
              related to the night sky
                  that is G-rated.
    Why do all the myths and legends of the night sky have to do with violence and horror and perverse sexuality??

    Every other month I do a storytellting show for little kids in the Planetarium... I have to search around for kid-safe stories. When it comes to classic myths and legends, there are VERY few. It doesn't matter what culture it was, the ancient people's had exclusively adult content when it came to constellation stories.

    Here's a couple examples:

    A Native American story goes like this:
    "The Coyote liked to show off to the girls by juggling his eyeballs. One day he threw one so high it stuck in the sky."

    You just can't tell that to 3 year olds!

    We could go with the standard Greek stories, but those are filled with adultery, incest, murder and lies! Vicious murders and lies! AND, apparently the major Greek gods were members of NAMBLA:
    "Ganymede is the young, beautiful boy that became one of Zeus’ lovers."

    I really don't want to support man-god-boy love in my shows.

    The Asian cultures were just as bad. They have tons of stories, as well. Many are interesting, of course, but I just can't use them. Like this:
    "A particular myth tells of when the man in the moon (Kidili) attempted to rape the first woman, Wati-kutjara threw a magical boomerang which severed the rapist's genitals."

    For a children's show, I try to avoid the words 'severed', 'rapist', AND 'genitals'.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

  • THE THING: Finding an apartment.
          An aprtment hunt
              which may have ended quickly...
                  I hope not too quick!
    So I have to find myself a place to live! Looks like the house is closing on September 18th. We just had a home inspection; as long a Mr. Inspector Man doesn't suggest we should tear down and rebuild, I think it's on!

    So I'm looking... the ad that caught my eye said the following:

    1 Br lakefrt, Fplc, W/D,
    Utils incl for one prof'l. $975

    There was also a location and a phone number listed, but with all my problems with stalkers lately, I figured I'd leave that info off.

    The only thing that was concerning me was the "...for one prof'l." bit. What does that mean? I checked my Electronic Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, and the only word that starts with 'prof' and ends with 'l' is "professional". I might not fit into that category. Am I a professional? I'm an astronomer... does that qualify me as a professional? I can't be sure.

    The only other word that it could have stood for that I could find in there was "profiterole"... but that seems to be a chocolate-covered cream puff. I might be considered a cream puff, in the athletic sense.

    Anyway, the ad sounded perfect! Lakefront... I live by a lake now! Fireplace... it was a household requirement when I was house shopping before!

    So I called the guy and went over to check it out. I really like a bunch of things, but I am in the middle of a little mental debate.

    A good thing: It's easy to get to, and certainly no further away from work than I am now.

    A bad thing: The apartment is kind of small. The kitchen is very galley. Almost a closet. I will need to buy a little island to have some counter space.

    A good thing: It is right on the water, the view of the lake is amazing. There is a wide deck onto which you are led by double doors flanked by tall windows. And I have access to the lake! I can bring the boat!! And no lake fees! I can even swim right off the dock behind the house. Oh, and the owner has a jacuzzi on the deck that I am free to use. And there is plenty of room on the deck for my yard furniture (I built that table! Sort of...) and the grill.

    A bad thing: It's somewhat small. It has an eat-in living room.

    A good thing: It has a bar in the living room. A BAR! Also, there is a liquor store and an Italian restaurant within easy walking distance. If you know me, you're probably wondering why I haven't moved in already.

    A bad thing: It's quite small. The bedroom is really a raised area without full-sized walls around it. There are half-high divider walls.

    A good thing: It has a fireplace. Well, really a wood-burning stove. But that's FINE! Might even be better... the more contained the fire is, the better. And the guy who owns the place (he lives in the top half of the house) gets wood that apparently I can use! Sweet.

    A bad thing: It's rather small. I'm not exactly sure where the couch would go. Loveseat -- no problem! I might be able to put the couch on the bar...

    A good thing: It's just a single apartment. I get to park in the driveway. There are no neighbors, except for the guy upstairs. He lives alone and seems real laid back.

    A bad thing: It's really small. I will need a storage unit or two to hang on to most of my stuff. You know, I always though I had too much stuff, anyway. But it is seriously small, even for having little stuff. Apparently, there used to be a couple living there. They must have been conjoined twins.

    A good thing: All is included in the rental price. Electric, heat, water, cable, everything. The only thing that is not is the phone. Maybe I'll just get a cell phone with unlimited minutes. *-gulp-* I ditched my cell phone a while back -- I don't know if I can return to the land of the cellular zombies.

    A bad thing: It is small. The cat will think she is still in her cat carrier once I let her out.

    It seems that there are a ton of GOODs and just one decent-sized BAD. I think I can overcome it. Also, it will be a month-to-month lease, so if it is way too much for me to handle, I can always bail after 6 months or something.

    I shall keep us posted...

  • THE THING: This little story: The Poacher, by Ursula LeGuin.
          A brief adventure
              of a boy leaving his life
                  to tunnel elsewhere.
    I don't think I've read any Ursula LeGuin before! I've read SciFi/Fantasy stuff my whole life, and I always saw her stuff creeping around, but never picked anything up.

    This was a nice tale of a boy trying to tunnel his way out of his miserable life. He lives with an abusive father that forces him to steal mushrooms and trap animals from private lands. One day, he stumbles upon a wall of brambles... he spends years cutting his way through to see what is on the other side. He finds a sort of secret garden back there -- there is a castle inside, but everyone is asleep, as if under some spell.

    Hey, living among a bunch of somnolent folks is better than being with abusive, awake people.

    He decides to stay.

    It was a great story for sitting outside on a summer day. It went quickly, and was a bit epic, which is surprising for a story that took me about an hour to read, and only had one character who wasn't comatose.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $2.00. No explanation, except for what I've poked in up above.

  • THE THING: This radio station: WDST, Radio Woodstock -- World Class Rock

          Always employing
              music that I'm enjoying.
                  Never annoying.

    [I wonder if that is the first rhyming haiku in history. Sorry about that.]

    WDST is from Woodstock, NY. Not exactly where the big ol' concert was held, but it is its namesake.

    It is, I'm pretty sure, the last independently owned radio station on the planet. If you are listening to another station, it is probably owned and homogenized by Clear Channel... 25% of the ears directed towards a radio are directed to a station owned by one company. Hey, whatever -- it's capitalism, right?

    I just have to say that WDST has the best music and DJs I have ever heard. I used to live close enough to tune in live, but now I have to stream them via the Internet (gotta love this Internet thing.... I hope it sticks around...).

    In the time that I have been sitting here, I jotted down a bunch of bands I've heard -- There was David Bowie, Widespread Panic, Ben Harper, Blondie, Lifehouse, Erin McKeown, REM, The Who, Coldplay, Natalie Imbruglia, and the Gin Blossoms. Those are the ones I recognized... there were a few others whose names I failed to catch. Ryan Adams just ended a song. Right now there is something on I don't know, but I LOVE IT. Something about a painkiller. The line that just went by was "You give me so much love that it blows my brains out..." OK... Hang on...

    I'm back!! I just looked up that line on Google -- the band is apparently "Turin Brakes". They are wonderful. I love this station.

    If you like music you'll like this station. "What kind of music?" you ask? Just music. They just play music. What a refreshing change... there's not really a format. I think they most closely fit into what is called "adult alternative" but they are NOT limited by that at all. Just check it out...

    Edwyn Collins just came on...

  • THE THING: This movie: The 13th Warrior.

          Action, adventure,
              arabs, norsemen, cannibals.
                  lots of big battles!

    This movie was on SciFi yesterday afternoon... I usually don't watch movies on TV, but I seem to be on a TV movie kick lately.

    This was a perfect TV movie! Not too deep, but with enough action and mystery to move things along.

    Antonio Banderas gets drawn into an excursion to help some Norse fellows (12 of them, plus him -- the 13th Warrior! Get it?) take care of some cannabalistic demon dudes who are ravaging some northern city.

    The intro is brief and concise. The plot is trim and ever-forward. The characters are grim and purposeful. No one is terribly likeable, but are certainly duty-bound. There's a lot of honor being bandied about. Basically, the whole thing is about Antonio going from sissy-boy to butt-kicker. It made for a fun afternoon.

  • THE THING: This movie: The Importance of Being Earnest.

          Tries to be clever,
              and surprising and funny.
                  Doesn't pull it off.

    I'm sort of on a Reese Witherspoon kick, I guess, since I Haiku Reviewed Pleasantville a few Blogs ago!

    In this movie, she's crazy.

    The show follows some guy who lives in the coutryside, and pretends to have a brother named "Earnest" so he can run off and play in the city on a regular basis. [Why can't he just say, "I wanna go play in the city!"?]

    He visits his friend, who pretends to have a sick buddy named "Bumbry" so that he can run off and skip out of social engagements. This dude also seems to have some furious monetary issues -- he doesn't pay for anything. He doesn't even pay his butler.

    The first guy (I don't remember anyone's name) is in charge of his cousin, who seems to have fallen in love with the made up person named Earnest. Check this out: She loves someone she has never met. And is her cousin. Yikes.

    Basically, all the people are either lying or in love with someone who is lying.

    Well, the whole thing comes to head when all the people who pretended to be someone else come together. Everyone's trying to marry their cousins, and people are related all over the place. It seems to try so hard to be funny and clever, but it just seems muddled and incestuous.

    On the good side: The acting seems pretty good, and the sets and costumes required some effort!

    But, it was not my favorite film ever, I must say...

  • THE THING: This book: Ariel, by Steven R. Boyett

          Sounds silly at first,
              then gets dark and dangerous,
                  no happy ending.

    If someone had told me what this book was about before I grabbed it on a whim from Fictionwise, I would have never read it. And, though I guess I would have not been the wiser, I would have been missing out on a great one.

    With that known, I am still going to lay out a brief overview for the rest of the world...

    It takes place somewhere near present day. For some reason, all of a sudden, all machines (basically) and electronics and explosions stop working. No phones, no lights, no motorcars, not a single luxury. At the same time, magical things begin to work. Wizards appear, as well as mythical creatures like griffons and dragons. Of course, unicorns show up, as well.

    The story mainly follows the journey of a boy named Pete, and his unicorn, titularly named Ariel. Normally, one might think that a magical world without the disruption of industry might be a nice place. I mean I know there's not a lot of the things we take for granted, but there's MAGIC! You can do whatever you want! Sounds pretty sweet to me, anyway. Some things are nice -- when The Change occurred, all the air and water pollution seemed to go away. But aside from a few niceties, mostly the world is a sort of post-apocalyptic nightmare. It definitely has a scrounge-and-horde Mad-Max-style feel to it.

    When I found out this dude penned his book when he was 18, I was quite impressed. And the afterword for this e-book reissue has a lot about his "creative process". It reminded me of how I write, and legitimized (in my brain) my own writing style. NOT my Blog-writing style -- that's quite a bit different than my fiction work. Nothing legitimizes my Blogs... :)

    Anyhoo, it's a dandy of a book -- the plotline sounds as if it belongs in the "Young Adult" section, but the violence and horror keeps it out of there, for sure.

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $14.95. If they print this thing in trade paperback, buy it for your collection. Otherwise, Buy eBooks!

Saturday, August 02, 2003

  • THE THING: The movie called Pleasantville.
          Starts out as expected
              but builds unexpectedly...
                  quite a lot to see.
    Pleasantville was on TNT last night! And there was nothing else on that I wanted to see. For some reason I have wanted to see this film for YEARS, and just always passed it up for something else.

    I was not disappointed.

    The springboard into the main part of the story is a sort of silly, bad Twilight Zone or Amazing Sotries device, but it got us to where we needed to go -- two people from the a modern world trapped in a TV show from half a century ago.

    The clash of societies has been done before, but this was an interesting look at it, I thought. There was a nice unfolding of the pristeen, perfect Pleasantville world. Everyone seems nice, decent, and, dare I say, pleasant. The town seems rather homogenous. But as they interlopers introduce modern thoughts into their society, the people are unveiled. Some are truly pleasant, some hold back feelings that they wish they could release, and some are downright dangerous and violent.

    The film hints at elements, images, and issues of religion, racism, choice, beauty, tolerance, and suppression (many others... this is a tiny list). Sometimes it's quite overt, and other times it's a bit more subtle. I actually would like to see it again to see what I missed.

    It is presented in appropriate style, with a fine attention to detail.

    It's an enjoyable watch (if a book can be a "good read", a movie can be an "enjoyable watch"!) -- funny and clever. Or, perhaps more appropriately: nifty and keen.

  • THE THING: This series of books by Jack Vance:


          Starts out tedious
              Seems too much to get it all.
                  Then draws you all in.

          The epic proceeds.
              An investment in book 1
                  requires book 2.

          The epic concludes.
              More magic, battles, secrets.
                  a grande finale.

    When I began the first book in the series, Suldrun's Garden, I was instantly confused. The first chunk of the story consisted of verbose descriptions of the countryside and its history. I was unengaged, but for some reason decided to continue. The story proceeded into some interactions between kings and their offspring. It spent sometime following the birth of an unwanted daughter (Suldrun). Suddenly, a whole world of kings, wizards, faeries, trolls, and complete other worlds are introduced. A story that began at an intolerably slow pace flipped into a whirlwind of characters and places that seemed impossible to keep track of. Characters travelled in disguise and with assumed names. My brain was swimming...

    I almost discarded the book about a dozen times.

    But as the threads of the story are cleverly interwoven, I found that I had invested too much time and effort, and I craved the payoff. I could see, unfolding before me, what could possibly be the most epic fantasy story I had ever read. It had a sort of potpourri of everything fantastic. For a time it seemed disjointed... a regal clash of kings on one chapter, a troll eating children in the next... but it somehow worked to build a full, rich world.

    The characters are consistent, but develop throughout. The third book ties up loose ends from the first. This series of three is a tidy package of a huge fantastic world. I must compare it, in style, scope and quality to what is probably my favorite series of books: The Amber Series, by Roger Zelazny (available all together in The Great Book of Amber).

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: All three together, I would score the package at $40. It was tremendous, surprising, and original. I shall read them again, and that is a rare thing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

  • THE THING: A bug bite.
          Vicious mosquito
              managed to find my butt crack
                  and got a mouthful.
    Tonight I was just sitting outside trying to read a bit. I KNOW that dusk is when the blood sucking insects appear and begin their nightly feed. I KNOW that they have an exceptional effect on me. I KNOW that when I get a tiny little bug bite that I swell up like crazy.

    I did NOT KNOW they they could possibly slide down my pajama pants and bite me on MY BUTT CRACK!! I HAVE A BUTT CRACK BUG BITE SWOLLEN INSATIABLE ITCH!!!! I have about 6 other bites on my feet, as well, but the crack one is the one about which I am mostly concerned.

    My only consolation is that the mosquito received ass blood. Wait! He actually receive ass CRACK blood, which, I think, would be even worse. I have never been a blood sucker, personally, so I do not know the nuances of blood from a variety of places, BUT IF I DID, I can only assume that ass crack blood is the nasty blood.

    So, a mosquito is flying around with blood extracted from BETWEEN MY ASS CHEEKS.

    Man, it's itchy.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

  • THE THING: A dream
          I had my first dream
              which had a commercial break.
                  TV overload?
    It was so odd. I was just having a regular dream last night -- nothing major, I think it was a repeat. It was a just one of my classic, oridinary dreams like Sorority Car Wash, or Sorority Pillow Fight, or Sorority Locker Room Towel Fight... nothing unusual.

    When, right in the middle (I swear this actually happened!), my dream went dark, and went to commercial. I remember it quite well (I just woke up, actually). I went just like this:

    The scene opens to two guys sitting in an apartment.

    Guy #1: "Hey, where's Jeff?"

    Guy #2, with a big smile: "He's out trying out his new birthday present. That I got him." Guy #2 sits back with a smug smile.

    Guy #1 leans forward inquisitively: "What'd you get him?"

    Guy #2: "A new parachute!"

    Guy #1: "A new parachute? That's pretty cool. Jeff loves parachuting. But a new parachute is expensive. You don't have any money. Where'd you get it?"

    Guy #2: "I got it at cheapusedstuff.com. It's the best! They have everything you could ever want! This parachute was just twenty bucks!"

    Guy #1: "You got Jeff a cheap, used parachute?"

    Guy #2: "Naw! This one was new! It said it on the site!"

    Guy #1: "I've been to cheapusedstuff.com. They just sell used stuff!"

    Guy #2: "Not the parachute. It said that it had never been taken out of the packaging."

    Guy #1 thinks for a second a asks: "What did it say, exactly?"

    The camera zooms in a Guy#2, face all squirreled up in a pose of thought -- it zooms right into his forehead, and the camera fades to his memory. We see the computer screen that Guy #2 saw. The description next to the picture says simply "Never opened!" The point of view of his memory centers on the word used in cheapusedstuff.com. Then back to "Never opened!" Then back to used. And back to "Never Opened!" The point of view zooms back out of Guy #2's brain and we find him just screaming. The picture fades into a guy with a helmet an goggles (who is obviously Jeff) screaming in exactly the same fashion.

    The screen goes black, but you can still hear the screaming. There is a voice over that says "cheapusedstuff.com. [that shows up on the screen] Where you can get anything you want, cheap and used. But, please be careful."

    And then it was right back into Naked Invaders From the Planet Sorority, or whatever the "main" dream was.

    I can't believe even my BRAIN has commercials now. By the way, cheapusedstuff.com is not a real site. I woke up an looked for it right off once I woke up. If it had been a real site, I think I might have freaked out. I would start wearing aluminum foil helmets to protect my brain from getting beaming with any more corporate advertising.

    Although, since I did check for the site immediately, apparently is was a good, effective commercial. I suppose I'm pleased that at least my brain isn't making bad commercials.

Friday, July 25, 2003

  • THE THING: The website called Real Ultimate Power.
          This is a website
              In reverence of ninjas.
                  Pretty dang funny.
    Sorry I haven't posted in a while!!

    I am posting this little link to this website to fill in at least something! I promise to do better in the future... (yeah, right.)

    Actually the site makes me laugh. It must be done by someone young, or just acting young -- he has claimed that his name is Robert Hamburger, and he has "...a picture of my best friend Mark showing off. He's a lot older than me and almost done with puberty, which is bragable."

    I don't remember how I found this site. It was a while ago, and made me crack up. I can't explain it -- the site is pretty low-brow. Actually it's pretty much NO-brow. And I should warn you that the main page has some goofy annoying music.

    Just to give you a little taste, this is how Mr. Hamburger describes ninjas:
    "These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact. Ninjas are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet. I can't wait to start yoga next year. I love ninjas with all of my body (including my pee pee)."

    It's silly and vile and juvenile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

  • THE THING: This movie: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
              is way too strong a word for
                  this very bland film.
    I have to admit, this was one of my Summer Wanna-Sees... From the first 30 second preview I saw -- right through the longer ones -- this looked to be a fun ride. If the preview was that easy to enjoy, I could only imagine a film to match.

    About 1/2 way through, I was sitting, staring at the screen thinking, "I wouldn't care if this ended right here, right now. I don't care if they all die. I really don't care if they fail or succeed." I don't think that those thoughts have crossed my mind ever before.

    I don't want that to indicate that this is the worst film I have ever seen! There were some epic scenes and giant-scale props. But somehow they weren't impressive -- there was no sense of awe. I was just thinking, "Oh, c'mon, now, that's just silly."

    There were a couple twists to the plot, but instead of saying, "WOW!" I just thought, "Oh. Hm. Lookitthat."

    I was actually quite incredulous... I was so terribly hooked by the trailers, and then was totally let down by the film.

    Possibly my entry expectations were a tad too high. If I wasn't expecting a fun, engaging, thriller, I may have appreciated it more.

The Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $1.99. Wait for a rental. On the discount rack. When the video store has burned down, and only The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Bio-Dome, The Land Before Time 8, and Series One of Felicity on DVD with Special Features survive the blaze. Maybe that's a smidge too harsh...

Sunday, June 29, 2003

  • THE THING: This game: Odin's Ravens.
          A two-player game.
              A strategy and racing game
                  with lots of choices.
    This is part of the Kosmos 2-player games series -- I have a few of them, and they are all set up just right for 2 players. They all are designed with a quick 2-player game in mind. The ones I have are mostly card games, with a lot of strategy and variety. Odin's Ravens looks like another good one.

    This is a card game, and there are 4 mini-decks that are used in the game. One deck is the one that makes the "board" where the play takes place -- they are cards with icons of different types of land on them -- each hard has two icons. When you play, you sit across from each other, so that the two icons form a path for each player -- each player has a different path to take.

    Two other decks are the cards for playing the game -- they are identical, and each player gets one. The majority of the cards have icons which match the icons on the play board -- the majority of play has an almost Candy Land-style simplicity to it: if you want to move over a mountain space, you have to play a card with a picture of a mountain on it. You can alternatively play a pair of cards to move -- a pair acts sort of like a wild card. This is a brilliant way to keep from having to wait for a single card forever -- some games keep you just waiting for one or two cards to show up. There are also Odin cards which allow you to change to terrain - to help you or slow your opponent, or to move an opponent back, or you forward, or to place an obstacle on the path.

    At the end of your turn, you have the option of making the path longer. If you are behind, you can try to make the end distant to allow you a chance to catch up. The problem with this strategy: you get more points the further you are ahead, so lengthening the course could lengthen your opponent's lead.

    Also, you get to put cards away into a little stash pile to be used later. This allows you to grab more cards to use for the next turn, and can as much as double the amount of cards you can play per turn. There is some strategy there, because you can only play from this extra stack of cards in the exact opposite order you lay them down (a true 'stack') -- it takes some furious thinking ahead (and the board can be changed around on you in the meantime!), but it can pay off big-time.

    The fourth mini-deck is a tiny little one, called the Magic Way cards -- there are only 6 cards. These each have 2 pictures on them, showing what cards you can play to grab one of the cards. Whoever has the most of them at the end of the round gets a 3 point bonus. It doesn't sound like much, but it gives you the chance to earn some points and use some otherwise useless cards if you are a bunch behind. This deck seemed kind of silly at first, but it can help out a little in an otherwise frustrating situation.

    I've only played this a few times (I've only owned the game for about 3 and a half hours as of writing this), but I can definitely see some great re-playability. It has different startegy each time... and a round can go by in just a few minutes. The rules are easy to learn, but allow for some very deep strategic play. Luck plays a big part, but I can see someone learning the strategies and possibilities and winning consistently with a consistent strategy.

  • THE THING: This movie: Ghost World.
          I shouldn't have liked
              a girl-coming-of-age film
                  but I kind of did.
    This was a movie borrowed from the library... a free rental is always good!

    I wasn't sure about it:
    Things against it: it was a movie about 2 girls who just graduated high school. Also, (though this is rather pompous) I've never heard of it.
    Things going for it: it had Steve Buscemi, and Thora Birch (she was in American Beauty -- I didn't remenber her name at the time).

    It turned out to have a sort of Harold and Maude feel to it. Just a little bit. It was not nearly as quirky and goofy.

    It was certainly grabbed my attention. The acting was pleasant, and the characters were not outrageous enough to be annoying -- just different enough to be interesting.

    The story goes like this: Enid and Rebecca tend to enjoying annoying people, and they find a desperate personal ad from someone looking for a person he met in an airport briefly. They call him up, pretending to be her, and get him to show up at a restaurant as a preactical joke, and to just see who he is. Enid ends up being intrigued by him, and befriends him. Things get a little out of her control...

    Now, what is it with me and endings?! I guess I just get too caught up in movies and just want more! The same happened in this movie -- it ended on a sort of oddly uninteresting and unresolved note. Just ignore that sentence, it's just me, I think...

Final Score on the Chris Worth Scale: $4.95. For one that I saw for FREE, I feel like I got a bargain.