Saturday, October 14, 2006

Walking Over the Bridge of Spies

What a strange, little world this internet is.

I was going through my clothes, doing the annual purge. Getting rid of clothes I haven’t worn in years to make room in my closet for more important things, like dirty clothes and porn. I came across a shirt that was made for me after I won this silly, little blogging contest thing a few years back. Man, back then I was posting about my life at least daily. Now, I make an entry about as often as some stupid celebrity does something they do rarely (I lack the energy for a decent analogy, or even a bad one).

Anyway, I found myself going through the archives of that game and how hated I was at the time (it was based on survivor and I had the gall to form an alliance, and use it effectively). It was an interesting time, not so much for the contest but for the company I kept. I was blogging daily, IMing ad nauseum, and fairly well connected in online terms. Now, I IM about as often as I blog. Still, that period left me with a handful of friends that transferred into real life that I still hang around today (albeit with less frequency).

It got me thinking about the cycle of friends in life. Seems to me, and this isn’t a scientific study by any means, that we (or mayhaps just me) cycle through friends about twice a decade. Grade school, junior high, high school, college, post-college, California part 1, California part 2 (the present). All of my friends fit into one of those sections of time. Some overlap to the next. Rarely does someone make the leap past that. I don’t have any friends from grade school anymore. I wouldn’t mind hearing from any of them, but what little digging I’ve done has left no results. Surprisingly, I’m the one easiest found on the internet, which means no one is looking for me. Junior high was the same group for me. I have two high school friends I still communicate with on a regular basis. Occasionally, I will have lunch when I’m back home with one of them (the other isn’t there). My college friends have a drop-off rate of about three per year, leaving me with about six or seven that are in my collective, of course at least three of them will likely remain my best friends for the remainder. Post-college brought about a couple lifers and couple dropper-offers. California part 1 is meshing nicely with California part 2, but there is erosion. No longer is my circle built around my former job, which is good. I also got a couple lifers out of those groups as well.

It’s neither here nor there, this study, just a look around. I wonder how many of the people I’m currently hanging out with will make to the next evolution. Given that most of last year centered around the movie and I’ve already lost most of those guys, well, it’s looking good for those still around.

The other thought in all of this is how important blogging used to be to me. I had stories with a point. I had an audience (I honestly don’t know who even remembers I have this blog, much less who reads it, which is a good thing) and I had an all-consuming addiction. Thankfully, I’ve put my focus in other areas. Still, I’m hopelessly nostalgic for some of those peeps that I merely chatted with on a regular basis or followed their lives online. Some got married I’m sure, maybe some died, who knows. Just strange that this is certainly a new phenomena. My parents did not have these issues.

As for me, I was in New York for a job for a couple weeks and I’ve been chilling and writing since my return. I did a five-day fast for a variety of reasons which was another weird experiment. I never thought that I, who would contemplate gnawing off my own arm if I skipped lunch, would make it five days on nothing but cranberry juice and a few spices and water. I also enjoyed the dizziness. I may be starting something with a new girl, but since the last fifteen or so didn’t make it past laundry day, I’ll be holding off on details there for a spell. I also have had meetings of a career nature but nothing to report yet. Holding pattern all around it seems.

Now, go watch Battlestar Galactica because it’s quite possibly the greatest show that television has produced.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Anyone can toe the line, except for me 'cause I'm a disco dancer

I feel like being crunk this morning. I can’t explain it, I’ve just had this crunktastic feeling in my bones for the past few weeks just screaming to get out. I’m sure part of it is my impending, yet quite annual, unemployment. This is my fourth official year where I’ve been bouncing between jobs in an effort to become somewhat happier and more well-adjusted. It appears to be working, though it’s not without its drawbacks.

For example, these days I’m having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I’m not depressed. At least I don’t feel depressed. I do think my body thinks it’s supposed to be depressed and is reacting accordingly. Still, I just bought a new bike which I’ve been riding the shit out of on the weekends. Just can’t seem to make myself get ready early enough to ride it to work. Oh well, only a couple more weeks left. And that’s it, that not so crunk feeling.

It’s probably at this point that I should admit I have no idea what “crunk” means. The only legitimate use of it I’m familiar with is that Mary J. Blige song where she’s quite excited to be getting crunk. I imagine it’s one of those words originating in the black community before being co-opted by white suburbanites, as most things black are, in order give them some form of identity which they are lacking anything of the sort in this day and age. I could be wrong though.

But I digress. I do that a lot. It happens to people that seldom have points to their stories.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

X-Men the Last Stand (hopefully)

In a word. Cheap. There’s a lot to like to about X-Men: The Last Stand, but there are so many moments, so many stories, lines, choices that in the end just felt cheap. The third, and least intriguing film in the mutant oeuvre, is once again filled with entirely too many characters and has little time to service all, if not most of them. Cheap.

The central “villain” in this installment is not man nor mutant, but a “cure”; a treatment which will suppress the mutant gene and turn supermen into just men. There are mutants against the cure (“There’s nothing wrong with us,” Storm [Halle Berry] cries). There are mutants for the cure (well, at least one, Rogue [Anna Paquin], who just wants a hug). It could’ve been an interesting ethical dilemma if the film actually spent any time on it. Instead, it takes the cheap and easy way out, the bad guys gather to destroy the cure and the X-Men fight to stop them. Cheap. Cheap.

There’s a subplot, and it is quite, quite sub, that involves the resurrection of Jean Grey (Famke Janssen, whose character died at the end of the last film) as the Phoenix, an all-id version of Jean that is uncontrollable and all-powerful. The story this plot is based on is widely held as one of the greatest comic book stories ever told, so it’s disappointing that it is barely serviced here and that some of the choices around that storyline (like, the body count), while satisfying in a film context were wholly disappointing to my inner comic geek.

New cast additions like Ellen Page (who plays intangible teen Kitty Pryde), Vinnie Jones as the Juggernaut, and Ben Foster (the winged Angel) are a mixed bag. Page is a welcome addition and has some nice moments with her powers, but the few scenes where she becomes the spoiler in the Bobby/Rogue relationship are fairly pointless. Even more pointless is the addition of Foster, who really serves no purpose whatsoever, despite the promise from the intro that he will be a major player. I think he has maybe three lines in the entire movie. There’s a sequence at the end where the Juggernaut plows through walls chasing the ghostly Pryde which is one of the best CGI’d things in the whole film and all-around exciting, until it’s tagged with a joke that is so simple and easy that it just cheapens the whole thing. Cheap. Cheap. Cheap.

Berry finally gets a little more time in the spotlight (as much time as someone can get in a film that tries to service about seventeen major players) and she does reasonably well. This is probably the first time that I felt the film Storm was connected at all to the comic Storm. Hugh Jackman is always fun as Wolverine and he gets a nice battle sequence all to himself. Famke Janssen masters the art of standing around looking evil (or like she has some gastrointestinal issues, it’s hard to tell) but the effects surrounding her turn as the Phoenix are pretty intriguing. Ian McKellan’s Magneto goes from conflicted demagogue to mustache twirling bad guy fairly quickly. Anna Paquin’s Rogue is another blink and you’ll miss her character who is saddled with an important role (pro-cure mutant) but given nothing to support it (like, you know, a scene or two). Kelsey Grammer expertly captures the wise and jovial Beast, a nice addition (and the film snags a couple points for sneaking in his catch phrase “oh my stars and garters”).

A feeling of excitement and gravitas hangs over the entire film, I just couldn’t help wishing that it was in the hands of a better director, someone that could tackle some of the bigger issues it tries to float. Given that the comics always used mutants to parallel the oppressed in our society – African-Americans in the 60s and homosexuals more recently – groups that there isn’t a cure for, it’s a tad offensive that the movie doesn’t give the cure story the time it deserves. It’s also entirely cheap that people so against the cure in the first place, aren’t above resorting to it in the heat of the moment. I guess principles are just there when it’s convenient. Director Brett Ratner, who does well with the action sequences, just doesn’t have the depth to follow in the footsteps of Bryan Singer, who managed to pull off the impossible with the first two films – transferring the comics to film while pleasing both audiences and topping himself with the second installment.

All this being said, the film is well-paced and has some exciting moments that are beautiful to witness on screen. It’s a decent popcorn flick, but that’s a little beneath where I like my mutants. It’s kind of like Wolverine taking down an opponent with a swift kick to the crotch. It was funny, but a little cheap. C+

Now, onto the spoilers (big ones) and a little more details. Continue at your own peril.











Jean killing both Cyclops and Professor X, which I've known about for awhile was a little much. I think it played out decently, but Prof. X (a character I don't even care that much for) being taken down by Jean in a snit is just retarded. I'm less upset by the death of cyclops because he was the most miscast character in all of the films, but that's a pretty shitty way to send off one of your lead characters, an off-screen death that is never given a second thought.

I also think them using the cure on Magneto was completely disgusting and royally out of character. The X-Men are about the higher ground, the greater good and they would've found another way or they would've argued about it more. They wouldn't be opposed to this idea for months and use it in a moment of weakness. That's not them. These are SUPERheroes. They need to act like it.

It's such a little thing, but Kitty calling Juggernaut a "dickhead" also fell flat. It's an easy joke where Kitty, one of the most intelligent characters in the comics wouldn't lower herself that way. And as much as I loved Kitty (and the actress) I don't see what the point was of her and Bobby - to make Rogue jealous to get the cure? Rogue, in both films and comics was a little deeper than that.

And while I fully have no issue with Rogue getting cured herself - that is definitely a choice she would've made. Couldn't we have seen the struggle a bit more? Couldn't she have realized her friends needed her help and she was being selfish but taken a hit in the heat of battle or something? To sneak off, get cured off-screen and come back with little fanfare was a disservice to both character and actress. Personally, I would've loved if in the heat of the battle, Rogue showed up to help take down Magneto with her powers and support her friends and teammates only to get the cure after. It would've, again, fit in with that whole "superhero" thing.

Again, for all my snarking, there was some good things about the movie. Mostly, the display of powers and the FX surrounding them. Still, a disappoint in a lot of ways.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Don't Stop, Get it Get it

It’s a well-known fact, at least among the roommate sect, that I have a tendency to throw a tantrum when it comes to dealing with utilities. There was that time that I cancelled my electricity because they were annoying me. “Fuck you,” I shouted. “I will get internet at the coffee shop and will read by candlelight before giving you another penny.” My roommate at the time felt otherwise and restored service in his name. Always pragmatic, that one.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I had a similar incident with the cable company. First, I will admit that I already have a huge issue with monopolies. It makes a business content to screw over their consumer because they have nowhere else to go. It’s frustrating. So, that’s where I was starting from. Let me walk you through it. I only get basic basic absolutely basic cable, meaning the big six networks, some Spanish channels, PBS and WGN. In late April, two of those channels – NBC and CBS – stopped coming in. NBC was so bad that it hurt my eyes to look at it. The fuzz and lines on the screen made it difficult to make out the person speaking, much less any facial expression (which is tragic when it comes to watching The Office). CBS was so bad that my tivo would no longer recognize it as a channel.

I called Comcast and they said they would have to come out to try and fix it. I scheduled an appointment for the following Saturday from 10 – 12. At 2pm, I got a call that they wouldn’t be able to come out that day, they were just too busy. I called Comcast back and told them how I was going to actually be out of town for the next two weeks for work and they promised that they would take care of it as soon as I got back and they would credit me for every day my service was down.

Swell.

I called them up when I was finished with my show and set up another appointment. It was Monday and the first thing they had was Sunday. I had to work that Sunday but said I could take a couple hours off if they could guarantee they would be there. No problem, the guy swore, they would be there. Nothing will stop them from showing up between 10 and 12. Nothing at all.

You get where this is going, right?

Again, it was about 2pm when I got a call that they were outside of my apartment. Well, I told them, I’m not there any more. I had to go back to work. They said I could call the main line to reschedule. No problem. I called the main line. I complained that I’ve tried twice now to get my cable fixed and that I’ve been without it for a month. The guy on the other end said he was really sorry for the way I’d been treated and that he would get someone out as soon as possible. I told him that I was actually off the next day (Monday) and that they could come out any time that day.

“The earliest thing we have is Tuesday.”

“But I work on Tuesday. You can’t do anything tomorrow given how you’ve missed appointments twice?”

“We can’t do that. We can come Tuesday.”

“I work Tuesday. Do you have anything on Sunday?”

“Sunday’s booked, but we could do the following Tuesday.”

“But I work, and since you’ve missed the appointment twice, I don’t really want to lose pay when I have no guarantee that you’ll show up.”

“I promise you we will be there.”

“Someone already did that and no one showed up. Not buying it. Can’t you just push someone else’s appointment off since you’ve treated me so poorly.”

“We could never do that to a customer. That would be unethical.”

“Um, didn’t you kind of do it twice to me?”

“The earliest we have is Tuesday.”

“Fine, then cancel it. Cancel my cable. Cancel everything.”

“I’m sorry, that department is closed, you’ll have to call them tomorrow.”

“Can I talk to a supervisor?”

Leland assured me that he was a supervisor, which I found odd given that he answered the phone and would continually talk over me. I hung up the phone and immediately went online to DirecTV. Within about ten minutes I had an appointment for the following day to set me up with new service at a cost less than Comcast.

Haha! Fuck you, Leland! I win!

When I called the next day after getting my shiny new satellite dish to cancel my cable service they hit me with two sucker punches. One, apparently to keep my cable internet and cancel basic service would cause my monthly fee to go up by about twenty five dollars. That makes sense. Two, Comcast has apparently been charging me for cable boxes for a year and a half. Boxes I don’t have. The credit for that means that I have about three months to figure out a new ISP before giving the final “eat a dick” to Comcast. The problem is that I don’t want to lose my email addresses. I use them professionally. But still, I can’t let Leland win. I won’t.

I love the DirecTV though. It’s so pretty and has lots and lots of channels. I still can’t find anything to watch, but at least everything comes in clear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

ugh

My stomach hurts. It hurts in one of those consistent sharp pains kind of way. When it first started, last Sunday, god's day, I thought it might be food poisoning, but then no vomitting. I thought it might be acute appendicitis but it's on the wrong side. I thought about other things (maybe it's a giant fart waiting to get out!) but mostly I thought, "man, I wish my side didn't hurt so much."

I figured it would go away. Alas, it's Tuesday. It has not. I don't know if there's a correlation, but I have had burritos the last five or six meals. Maybe that burnt a whole in my stomach. I don't know. I just know I hurt. This is worse than that time I had stigmata.

Luckily, with my handy dandy new health insurance, I'm going to the doctor just as soon as I find the time. The time I find will be soon as I don't want another situation like the car incident of Friday, April 7th (tm).

The Car Incident of Friday, April 7th (tm) began probably four months ago when my car started making a noise. I did what any normal person would do. I listened to the sound, studied it really. For four months. When I was driving down the street and my car kind of sort of not really exploded but had smoke wafting from the hood like it was a Motley Crue video, I thought to myself, "maybe I should've checked that out sooner." Five hundred dollars later I'm here with this stomach pain and empty space on my wall where new DVDs are supposed to be.

So, the doctor.

Part of it is fear. Every time I go to the doctor it's because I have pneumonia or broke a bone. It's never anything fun. I'm also worried that since I stopped doing my biannual MRI a few years ago that my shaking condition has gotten worse and they may finally diagnose me with parkinson's since I'm no longer too young for early onset.

And worrying about it has given me an ulcer. Hey, that's it. It's an ulcer. Who needs that House guy?

Monday, March 20, 2006

I Swallowed a Bug

I started to tell a story to some friends of mine the other day that involved the holy trinity of the internet – myspace, instant messenger and blogging. It took too long to explain what those things were that I simply trailed off without telling the story. This circle of friends all owning their forties like Mary Lou Retton on a pummel horse were so far removed from online culture that I could’ve been speaking Aramaic and it would’ve had the same affect.

What’s interesting to me is how fast our generations are advancing. When I was a kid, cable was new. There was the advent of personal computers but email and cell phones were still a few years off. Kids these days have launched from digital cameras to recording video with your phone. Maybe by the time I’m forty we really have started building Burger King’s on Mars, as I was lead to believe.

Monday, March 06, 2006

P is for...

Despite everyone bitching and moaning about the oscars, I think everyone's lost sight of the true joy of this weekend - a nice performance from the future Mrs. Jonny.

Let's give her a hand.