Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Meaning of the Season

GeoTagged, [N35.05142, E80.96487]

Hopefully by this time most of the food is gone, the games are over, the conversations with family are all past that awkward "Mom, I'm going to Clown College" announcement phase, and we can all get down to business.
For me and mine, traditionally this business involves waking early to push some elderly people down in order to save a couple of bucks at Target.
I mean we have special family time together to reflect on all of our various blessings.
Whatever line you find yourselves in for bargain electronics on Black Friday, try to keep something in mind:
You know that music they play in all these stores? The same crappy Christmas music that has been so annoying for the past couple of weeks?
The age-old standards which, after three notes hit that tender area at the base of the spine and send pain shooting out to the extremities, prompting a primal purchase or fight response in bipeds?
The people working in these stores have been hearing it for hours every day. They will continue to do so for the next few weeks. To them, these songs have entwined themselves around their inner ears, compressed, impacted, and their cheery notes register as a dirge.
Be kind.
They got up earlier than you did and their punishment is unending.
Good luck to you, my retail laboring friends. December too shall pass.

Monday, November 23, 2009

On New Moon

We (I) felt it important that we (we) take Gwynyth to see New Moon on opening weekend.
While the thought of being surrounded by swooning tweens does not in any way appeal to me, (in fact summoning flashbacks of seeing Titanic in the theatre with Shana, not expecting DiCaprio's heartthrob status to have such a profound and loud impact on the young girls in every other seat in the packed theatre) it is like a rite of passage for Gwynyth. And if Gwynyth will be swooning over anyone in any movie, I'm going to be right freaking there with the cold bottle of ice water at the ready.
I have read all four books. I have also read The Host, a completely unrelated novel about the fall of mankind to an advanced alien society, written from the point of view of a member of that advanced alien society.
Certainly, it can be argued that the major plot lines of the Twilight novels at best set unreasonable and/or dangerous precedents for young girls. It could also be argued that the main character, Bella, is almost unbelievably clueless most of the time.
What can't be argued is that Meyers tells a pretty damn compelling (and best-selling) story which appeals to people in a lot of different age groups. And, to be fair, loose ends are generally tied to major plot points later in the story, weaving the whole into a cohesive and (damn it) well-crafted story about growing up which happens to also involve vampires and werewolves.
New Moon follows the plot of the book pretty faithfully, which means that it plays out pretty much like an extended Abercrombie and Fitch commercial. With fight scenes.
The CGI is passable, but only because that isn't what the movie is about.
Bella's human friends seem to openly mock her, and the concept of the plot itself, which provides some relief from all the angst.
At one point, while walking out of a monster movie, Bella's friend Angela (EDIT: Actually, it was Jessica. Thank you, E to the H in the comments) announces that people say zombie movies have deeper meanings about consumerism, but that they are, in fact, just dumb. I prefer to believe that Angela is there to speak to us, to grant us her wisdom from beyond the screen, and to endow us with the permission to just go with it.
Okay, Angela.
When I looked to the other seats in the theatre, I tried to see the potential in that swooning, giggling mob.
Sure, the shirtless werewolves were swoon-worthy. There were several grown women in the audience who actually cried out at the glory that is the abs of a seventeen-year-old.
But most of the geeks I visit with have nothing but disdain for the whole Twilight phenomenon.
I'm not saying they should read the books. If they wanted to, they would.
I'm not even suggesting they NetFlix the films or buy the special edition Barbies.
What I am saying is that the same crowd, for as long as I can remember, has always said that there aren't enough girls into the same geeky things we are into.
Not enough girls play Dungeons and Dragons and not enough girls are into computer gaming and not enough girls read fantasy novels and know comic books.
But here was a film about vampires and werewolves which made more money opening than The Dark Knight made. And girls drove those ticket sales.
Please, please, my nerdy friends, do not wail about the lack of girls into fantasy in one breath and say "Twilight sucks" with the next.
Make no mistake. Twilight is a gateway drug, my friends.
Someday, perhaps in a year or two, your local comic book store may have to install a ladies restroom.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Speculative Fiction

Sometimes I happen to catch the beginning of what's cool. Since I don't have the luxury of cable TV to keep me up-to-date about these things, I prefer to think I am just gifted with Divine Knowledge of the Awesome from time to time.

Other trends I miss completely. Mostly, I remain unbothered by these things. I don't dress trendy. I've had the same haircut for years. I can avoid conversations about popular TV shows since I've been doing that about sports forever.
I do feel bad missing out on the important things, the things I should know, the life's blood of the geek community. When I miss the new awesome there, I feel helplessly clueless. A noob. An outsider to the outsiders. Like a person with a job shopping at a comic book store.
I picked up Wizard's First Rule by Terry Goodkind within the past few months. I enjoyed the hell out of it and gave it to a friend before starting on the other twenty-odd books in the series. I'd missed out on the release of a severely geeky book by decades, the start of a series, and read it entirely before realizing that the second season of the TV show based on it just started. Damn.
I follow Jim Butcher on Twitter. He is an author who tweets late at night about how long he has been writing and how awesome the book will be, and I liked him enough to pick up the first book in his Dresden Files series.
How did I miss the gritty pulp fiction detective series where the main character is a wizard?
A whole series of books!
And it was already made into a TV series on SyFy and canceled.
Is there no geek mailing list I can join? Where is the "Hey, Geek! Read this!" newsletter?
It isn't like our kind strikes up conversations in book stores, you know. Any discussion in a comic book store invariably becomes a debate about pre- vs post-crisis Batman and whether Wolverine could kill Superman.
For the record: It would be a draw.
Tired of missing out on stuff, I picked up a new Star Wars novel and just started reading it. Death Troopers is the story of the crew and inmates of an Imperial prison barge who happen upon a derelict Star Destroyer filled with dead, yet still animate, Stormtroopers. Stormtrooper zombies, if you will. And I, for one, will.
Now, for those millions and millions of people who only know the Star Wars story told in the trilogy, it may seem odd. Even to those who admit to having seen six theatrically released Star Wars films may call it a sacrilege. For those eleven-hundred dedicated fans who happened to see six live action films and The Clone Wars CG movie, it would be quite a stretch to wedge zombies into Star Wars mythology.
Even for the 200 or so who have seen seven films, bought the DVDs, read the comics, read the novels and celebrated with custom body art, Stormtrooper zombies chasing convicts through the darkened corridors of a Star Destroyer with not a single Jedi in sight might seem. . . . oh I don't know. . . . not freaking Star Wars at all.
But I don't think anyone would hesitate to call it awesome. How can it not be?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Megashark Vs Giant Octopus

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:42:39 PM To Shana
Come watch megashark and ultraoctopus with me

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:44:15 PM From Shana
Are you freaking joking?

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:44:16 PM To Shana
Because listen: megashark vs superoctopus

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:45:19 PM From Shana
You said you were putting your phone on the charger and never came back. I don't need this shit. (Image of a winky face)

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:45:46 PM To Shana
I said I'd be in here charging my phone

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:00 PM To Shana
Jane wants you to see this nature film

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:09 PM To Shana
About the ocean

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:33 PM To Shana
Shana, I watched the preview

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:46:46 PM From Shana

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:46:56 PM To Shana
Shana, megashark bites a plane. In flight.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:47:31 PM To Shana
I'm not playing around. Megashark fucking bites a plane.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:47:46 PM To Shana
Come in here and watch this instant queue style

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:49:33 PM To Shana
Did you see my text about the plane and what megashark does?

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:49:46 PM From Shana
That is dumber than Heidi Klum.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:49:56 PM To Shana
Because I'm not sure why you aren't in here

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:05 PM From Shana
Garrick, this worries me.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:22 PM To Shana
We live miles from the ocean

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:23 PM From Shana
I don't want to see it and I'm not coming in.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:32 PM To Shana
And rarely fly

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:40 PM To Shana
In a plane

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:40 PM From Shana
As a matter of fact, I'm going outside.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:50:53 PM To Shana
Which megashark totally would bite

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:50:56 PM From Shana
Then I might sleep on the couch.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:05 PM To Shana
(Image of a squid)

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:17 PM To Shana
(Image of a fish)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:19 PM From Shana
You can't make me watch bad films.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:51:26 PM To Shana
(Images of a wave, a fish, a plane, and an octopus)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:30 PM From Shana
I won't enjoy it.

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:51:40 PM From Shana
I'll just resent you.

Sent Nov 7, 2009 9:52:02 PM To Shana
(Images of a heart, a wave, a fish, a plane, and an octopus, plus another heart)

Received Nov 7, 2009 9:52:05 PM From Shana
Resenting you....

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


The official government story says there was no boy in that balloon. But a growing number of Americans are demanding the truth about what really happened on 10/15.

If you accept the CIA’s version of events, the whole incident was merely a misunderstanding. A joke, really. The kid was in the attic all along and everybody got worked up over nothing. After all, what parent hasn't created a fake media frenzy by pretending they have an endangered child, right? Well, I know what I felt was real. The terror and confusion of that terrible afternoon were too vivid to be wished away by the Big Lie Machine and its profusion of Smaller But Still Pretty Good Sized Lie Machines.

Just look at the facts. As I saw on the spare computer I keep in my taxidermy studio, the “balloon” in question spiralled lazily through the crisp autumn sky, its silver foil glistening in the Colorado air. But I’ve watched enough Road Runner cartoons to know how a balloon behaves when punctured in flight, especially in the American West. A real balloon would’ve either zig-zagged quickly and crazily around, slamming into various rock outcroppings along the way, or simply fallen straight down like an anvil. So that begs the following question: This so-called “balloon” wasn’t even a balloon at all, was it?

Now, let’s look at the landing. The world saw – or thought they saw – the “balloon” bump gently to Earth in a freshly plowed dirt field. It looked realistic enough to me, thanks to NASA’s experienced team of special-effects experts. But I bet I could find a Professor of Balloon Physics (let’s call him Dr. Herschel McGee of College Academy University State Tech) who would say that such a landing could only be executed by a trained balloon pilot. Why is the so-called “scientific” world so terrified of what Dr. McGee has to say?

Also, that field looked suspiciously flat to me. Have we forgotten that Colorado is known as the Rocky Mountain State? I guess whoever mocked up this hoax missed that day in 6th-grade geography class.

But here’s the most damning piece of evidence. Remember when everybody crowded around the fallen “balloon”, and a nation waited breathlessly to see if the boy would emerge okay, only to be told that there was nobody inside? Thanks to the simple fact that I have paused and rewound the footage of the original broadcast hundreds of times and watched the whole scene in hi-def frame-by-frame QuickTime magic while making my tribute music video, I was able to see that, on the contrary, there were actually hundreds of children being briskly spirited away from the crash site into an underground passageway located directly under the so-called “balloon”. Skeptical? Come over and watch it. Or buy yourself a copy of Hot Air: Puncturing The 10/15 Conspiracy, my fearless, eye-opening DVD documentary that will forever change the way you view fearless, eye-opening DVD documentaries.

They say there was no kid in that “balloon”; I say there were hundreds of kids. They say the kid was actually hiding at home in his attic; I say the kids were led down into the bowels of the Earth to toil in the FBI’s underground LSD mines. Examine the evidence on a neutral, objective DVD documentary and you can only reach one conclusion. And no, wiseguy, that conclusion is not that I need to go back on my meds. Whatever my lying fraud of a doctor says, I feel just fine this way.

Edit: Hello, Internet.

I've reviewed the comments which are queued for moderated posting. This post seems to have struck a nerve with certain online communities.

It may be best, for the sake of all parties involved, if we keep this stuff to ourselves for now, okay? I mean, no sense tipping off the lizard people in the black helicopters, amirite?

The truth is out there, friends.

Way, way out there.