Our Great Engineers Are The Freaks Of The Age

NEW 70

Never say die. I've tried, and it doesn't actually make people die.
--Tom McCudden


      62 days. A new record.
      My last hike in the woods was December 28th, when it was 57 degrees out. Today was my first, when it broke 60. Those are the latest and the earliest I've ever been.
      We only had 6 weeks of winter this season. Last year, we had 6 months. It was a hell of a 6 weeks, though: highs under 20, windchills 30 below, plenty of frozen crap falling from the skies. Today the paths were still packed snow, stomped on by hikers, frozen, melted, refrozen, now with a sluice of water trickling on top. I didn't see much of the scenery, as I was focused on my feet, working from slippery patch to exposed root or rock, grabbing trees for balance, and making sure that the rock or root was that before I jumped onto them, and not a sunken blob of dog doody or horse pucky.
      Note to self: Converse All Stars make poor hiking boots.
      In a month the woods will be a symphony of birdsong. Today, just the rush of the icewater in the brooks.
      Spring's come early. But I've been following the pattern of the weather for the last 10 years, and it's a continuing cycle of mild summer/mild winter leading to harsh summer/harsh winter. If the pattern follows, we'll have our first heat wave in May. I may be hiking the woods in spring, but during the last cycle, I wasn't doing it in the summer. Every day had temps in the 90s, and humidity to match. Then we had a month of autumn, followed by 6 months of Arctic winter. Thank Gourd Dumbya didn't sign the Kyoto Accords, huh?
      Beautiful days in early spring come with worry attached now.

      Yesterday was the usual waste of a Sunday. Seems I'm awake 9 hours on Sundays. I did the taxes and the bills, then tried to clear up my Netflix queue by watching the rest of a Star Trek DS9 season 7 disc. Wow, I wonder how many Trekkie virgins wanked to that scene in the Alternate Universe where Dax and Kira have hot lesbo action!!! I watched 3 episodes, then Siskel & Ebert, then...Look. Byron was in my lap snoozing the whole time. I'm not used to having a lap kitty, and I didn't want to disturb him. So I sat there and watched The Phantom Menace.
      In the theaters, my reaction was, "Well, the FX were cool." On second viewing, "This...is really bad." Now--well, See Opinion Expressed Above. I can't even work up the energy to complain about it (but I've done that twice previously anyway). I still don't get that there are slaves when everyone has ROBOTS. It'd be like me driving my car to the commuter lot, and being taken to work by a rickshaw. But I guess that slavery pays really well. They have a house! The kid is building his OWN robot! And a pod racer! How many people on welfare are building their own NASCAR racers?
      I stand by my opinion that Lucas put far more many man-hours into making sure how the pod racers' engines sounded than he did the dialogue. But why not? When the dialogue isn't stupid ("YIPPEE!" or anything else Baby Darths R Us woodenly spews), it's incomprehensible. I caught maybe every eighth nonsense word Jar-Jar or any of his froggy ilk barked. Likewise almost anything besides "Roger roger!" from the Battle Dorks, half of what the Fish Head People said, or most of what was overly-reverbed by the 2-headed pod racer guys. Fuck, look at me! Typing about this shit movie for the 3rd time in 5 years!
      It won't happen again. I'm not ever watching it again. YIPPEE!

      "Finn is rather adept at using his mutated mitts. We warn visitors to our apartment that the bathroom door is likely to swing open while they’re occupied therein. Our cat hooks his massive paw around the bottom of the door and swings it open quite easily. Kitchen cabinets pose no obstacle to the cat with thumbs. I’m fully convinced that humanity as a species is doomed now that cats have mastered the use of the opposable thumb and forefinger."

       Apparently, there was some kind of important movie awards show last night. And here it is: The 2004 Razzies!

      This is the easiest test I've ever taken.

      Sign the Common Cause Petition to save Public Broadcasting.

      So this is the deal with Haiti.

      To leave a comment, simply click on the ass! And it was stolen from "the McFarland Clinic." Must be Spanky McFarland, huh?!


      Kerry won a long time ago, so Super Tuesday for me was just making sure the Progressive Wing had enough delegates to influence the platform at the Primary.
      I was the only person there, in a town of 30,000. At lunchtime. The 1 poll worker checked my name, and it was there. I registered as a voter 17 years ago, and I didn't remember if I'd registered as Dem or Ind. I pulled the curtain shut and thought, again: Edwards or Dean? I'd given money to Dean, but Edwards has that "Two Americas" thing that Kerry doesn't. So I went Edwards. Hopefully, if he polls enough, he might be the Veep. When I opened the curtain, the only other poll worker gave me that "I Voted!" sticker. Which I stuck on the back on a sign in the parking lot. Maybe it'll still be there in November.
      Among the 724 Vernon Dems, Edwards got the same vote ratio he had all over the state: Roughly a third to Kerry's two-thirds.
      Of course Bush will lose the election! Unfortunately, he lost it last time. And what did that get the world? Fucked, is what. But I still have hope.

      Found The Passion of Christ too tame? Want some PAYBACK? INRI FPS! "Spare the Rod and Spoil the Fun!"


      The Junk Science of George W. Bush


      And No, I have no desire to type of late.


      I'm in one of my periodic "hate having a webpage to update" phases. But here's something Zefiel sent, a Mexican lollipop that tastes like chili and is shaped like a foot.
      There is now a pause so that you can let that last sentence sink in.
      Now, while this candy might already be--oh, what's the word, inexplicable maybe--enough, there's its choice of Corporate Mascot:

      Yes, he's being tortured. Any ideas on a slogan for their product, a name for their mascot, or similiarly-themed products can be added to the Comments.

      X-Entertainment's Tribute to Shitty He-Man Coloring Books. Yep, that sums it up.

      Some crazy Russian gal takes regular sight-seeing trips to the Chernobyl area. Creepiest parts are the massive amounts of expensive military harware used in the rescues, left there to rot because they're so radioactive. One wonders how many years she's stripping off her life every time she takes a photo. Scariest paragraph:

      It's so silent because everything's dead. Everything.


      Jimmy Breslin rips Bush over his campaign ads, which show the flag-draped corpses of 9/11 victims. While Bush has banned the photographing of the flag-draped coffins of our fallen from Iraq.
      I just don't get this strategy, especially after today, when Bush refused to stop running the ads after many protests from the families of 9/11 victims. What does he have to gain from reminding people about how the greatest failure of national security since Pearl Harbor happened on his watch, and that he still hasn't caught bin Laden or even eradicated the Taliban?

      Forget Mrs O'Leary's cow: It looks like the Chicago Fire could've been caused by a comet impact.
      I have a personal like about the story, in its use of the phrase "the size of Connecticut." Icebergs, Martian craters, Taiwan, hypoxic zones, every damn thing's the size of Connecticut!

      A certain subset (gont) of readers (erman) will enjoy this LJ devoted to trashing bad fanfics. I've but scratched the walnut-grain vinyl veneer of it so far, but it looks amusing. All LotR and Harry Potter, apparently. Ah, but what we Gonterphiles could teach them about Sonic the Hedgehog and Sailor Moon, eh?
      One story that was excerpted involved Legolas' brother. His brother with the very Elven name of Kevin.


      Last Monday: 60 degrees and hiking the woods in shirtsleeves. This Monday: 34 and thick black coat hunched around me, head bowed into the blowing snow. C'est la vie. C'est la Connecticut, anyway.

      Somehow my Hotmail address ended up on someone's spam list. The latest odd trend seems to be giving the from address a semi-real sounding name, as opposed to vaSjfFosUJfk9as95 or something. But "Chung Metzinger"? Yes, he's Chinese and German. Maybe he knows Luigi Takahashi. I believe it was Woody Allen who once said, "I had some Chinese-German food last night. An hour after eating, I was hungry for power again."

      Yesterday turned out pretty good, given how it started. I rolled over in bed and my foot hit something cold and wet. When I realized that I wasn't dreaming it, I blearily turned on the light and found a nice big deposit of cat horking. Byron, no doubt, as he can be a greedy eater, and Kill Kill only flings on the bathroom tile. Ah, the joys of pet ownership.
      Then Kevin (no relation to Legolas' brother) came over. We exchanged Xmas gifts. Yeah, it can be a long time between visits with my friends. None of us have even remotely similiar work schedules. Kev's an RV salesman, and the winter is his dead time of year, which means he's busy, as he has all these trade shows and expos to visit. (Note: there's a lot of links coming up. They're "If you want more info" links, and not anything you really need to click on if you don't) Let's see; he got the Groovy Cosmic Love Hour CDs, Tom Tomorrow's Big Book of Tomorrow (which I ordered when it came out, but which is now only $7, so you can get it cheap if you like the strip), and a bottle of Cask & Cream, which is his favored Bailey's Irish Cream except not ridiculously overpriced.
      I received Two Zombies Later, a double CD of odd Exotica stuff (which you give yourself as a free download), and a mixed 6 pack of Belgian import beers. I just had one which is rated the best beer in the world (technically, that site rates one a bit higher, but this one has over 10 times the amount of ratings). "Warm alcohol feel" says the review. Yeah, 10.2% or 20 proof, that's some warm beer. Apologies if this post gets increasingly sloppy.
      In the "Well, that's odd!" category, I got 2 things I'd just been thinking about for no good reason a day or 2 before. I was thinking, "Too bad there'll never be a real Star Wars DVD set. It'll all be those versions Lucas messed with. 'Greedo shoots first,' my ass!" And he handed me 3 DVDs of the real Star Wars! Actually, the "definitive" laser disc versions, transferred to DVD, with widescreen and THX Surround. They're not legit, although you'd never know it to look at them. My only tip-off that they were downloads was the lack of a UPC on the box.
      One of my regrets over my 18 months of unemployment during the Last Bush's Recession was the cool stuff I came across that would've been very cheap...if I had a job. A $25 Elvis head lamp. A $30 world clock, a map of the times in every major city on Earth. And an $80 copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, in one volume, with waist-high wooden library stand and a magnifying lens to read the tiny print. As a kid, I read the dictionary for pleasure. But back then I was spending only $10 a week on food, and I couldn't live on etymologies for 2 months. But Kev gave me the OED DVD! It has a Word a Day feature when you open it; I assume that it was no coincidence that it opened on "meniscus," "A lens convex on one side and concave on the other." For instance, the magnifying lens that would've come with the hard copy. I briefly played with it, trying to see how not-English it might be. It had "mensch," a Yiddish word that I always thought meant "loser," but actually means the exact opposite of that. See? Learn something new every day. Here's another: remember Menudo, the Latino boy band? "MENUDO: A thick, spicy Mexican soup, traditionally made with tripe, calf's feet, hominy, and seasoning. (cf. the earlier Sp. menudos giblets, offal)" Truth in advertising.
      Then we went to see the Devil Music Ensemble perform live accompaniment to the silent movie Big Stakes. (Hmm...although I spelled "accompaniment" correctly, I checked the OED to be positive and found a flaw in it. You have to spell a word 100% correctly to find it. Meaning that it doesn't actually work as a spelling dictionary!) We'd seen them before when they performed to Caligari. We were, uh, less enthused about seeing this one, a "comedy Western." Smelling the slapstick yet? But it was a lot of fun, both the movie and the music. It was their premiere of their live soundtrack, so the cues were a bit off here and there. The movie actually was better than I would've thought. Largely free of slapstick, and most of the humor came from the title cards. I don't know if this was meant to be Cowpoke Lingo or some weird Jazz Age patois, but there were cards that read, "What kind of an oil-can are you? That toss was the snake's hips!" Yeah...Okay...
      The plot involved 2 jovial cowboys and their competition with An Asshole named Brand, and the handsome cowboy's love for Mary in Texas, or is it with Mercedes the hot Senorita in Mexico, and her jealous intended, El Capitan? Or "The El Capitan" as a few title cards redundantly referred to him. He was from the "Rancho del Rado," which caused someone in the audience to laugh hysterically (Google says it doesn't mean anything in Spanish, but maybe our resident expert Zefiel can fill us in, if otherwise).
      The El Capitan and a detachment of the Mexican Army capture Our Hero and says he will kill him by having him bitten by "the reptil, El Diablo!" a gila monster. Right after he marries Mercedes. Y'know, watching your lover die painfully in front of you at the hands of your husband, 5 minutes after the wedding...I'd guess that would put a bit of chill on the honeymoon. Then The El Capitan threatens to have Mercedes bit by the gila monster. But Our Hero has a brilliant idea--They'll gamble their for their lives using Mexican jumping beans!
      Yes, I said "Whuh?!" too.
      In what is surely the tensest life-or-death scene involving gila monsters and jumping beans ever, there's...well, there's some damned jumping beans. Apparently, there are rules to this mano-a-beano contest: The Yanqui is told that he can't shout encouragement to his caterpillar larvae. "You mean, a man can't boost for his own bean?" he complains. And it looks like this totally random confrontation will end his life, but his bean wins! The El Capitano prepares to die by putting his hand into The El Diablo's mouth, but Our Hero shoots the reptil. "You're all White!" he tells the Capitan, which means "And not a dirty Mexican!"
      Yes. Rascism. What would you expect? The film was made in 1922. During this time, America had invaded Mexico trying to capture or kill Pancho Villa. In 1915, the big blockbuster was Birth of a Nation, in which a white woman jumped off a cliff rather than be touched by a Negro (ie, white guy with shoe polish on his face), and was rescued by the heroic, courageous, wonderful Ku Klux Klan.
      Our Hero receives word that Mary has been kidnapped by Brand--and the Klan! She's chased to a cliff by Brand, and jumps to avoid being raped by him. The Klan's the bad guys, and who rushes to her aid? Our Hero, of course, but also El Capitan and the Mexican Army! 80 years later, that'd be called PC. But back then, this was astonishingly liberal, anti-rascist stuff.
      Mercedes has to choose between El Capitan and Our Hero. "My Americano--You gave me romance, friendship, and respect--But in my heart, for our brave El Capitan--It has turned to love!" Yeah, romance, friendship, respect--Fuck that shit, I'm goin' with the guy who tried to feed me to a gila monster! And Our Hero loses the girl, and reluctantly rides home to Mary, who's clearly second best in his heart. Meanwhile back home, Mary looks into a big coffee mug and sees a vision of Our Hero coming home. Under floating black lumps that are either very large tea leaves, or proof that her cat doesn't understand where the litter box is.

      Determined to further enrich our cultural experience, we next went to the Connecticut Historial Society and their erudite survey about comic books. Intellectualism is fun!
      Very entertaining exhibit, made only the more so when we were told that admission that day was free. It was mainly about the comics made in CT, such as the early powerhouse publisher Fawcett (Captain Marvel), the good but always second-string Charlton, and a company that cranked out one issue each of comics in a variety of styles in the 50s before instant bankruptcy (maybe having the name "Fago" didn't help). Did you know that Connecticut invented the comic book? They had a copy locked behind Plexiglass, like all their display comics. "6-10 copies known to exist." That's as close to not existing as anything can get.
      Despite the dry name, the CHS is a very hands-on, interactive place for the tykes. A few children were there the whole time we were; probably the kids of one of the volunteers. The little boys read comic books, while the friendly little girl ran around excitedly. I'm sorry, "little girl" would be her real life identity. There were costumes set out for dress up. One dress was from Revolutionary Era New England, and her secret identity seemed to be "Colonial Girl." That's what the woman watching her called her repeatedly. Once, she raced by us yelling "I'm off to fight Crime and Eviiiiiil!!" I'm not sure what Colonial Girl's powers were. "Super Butter Churn Attack!" maybe.
      One of the interactive displays had large magnets that one could match up like Fridge Poetry to make your own superhero name. Kevin created mine: "Danger Willie." Want to see what my superpower is?! Bend over!
      We planned on going out to eat afterwards, but that got cancelled. Just as well, as the Syndrome decided to come out and play, and my day ended up as it began: With puke.

      I don't know what's more disturbing: the fact that The Store now carries Sniper Vodka, or that we sold out of it the first day. At $32 a bottle. No, wait--I know which disturbs me more.
      Co-worker G doesn't care for the stuff, on the same grounds that I don't: if it was called, dunno, "Warrior" or something, okay. But "Sniper" just conjures up Mohammed and Malvo in DC. A customer saw the bottle and started to complain about it, but G cut her off with her own tirade against it. "Who's to say some idiot's not going to drink this, and think it's a good idea to go shoot people!" The customer agreed: "That's what's wrong with this country! Snipers killing people, and now all the GAYS are marrying!" Yeah, random sniper murders, people who love each other marrying, I don't see any difference!
      I told this story to Jessica, after she said her lesbian friend was getting artificially inseminated. Let's protect the sanctity of marriage! Don't let them wed, just let them have kids! I don't get the logic. Seriously, half of every hetero marriages end in divorce. So if you're so scared about the "sanctity" of marriage, ban divorce! But where would that leave Rush and Newt? Can't we just put an end to the madness and arrest Britney?!

      Really quick Netflix reviews!
      Spider-Man: That was really good! I have no desire to ever see it again! I've ummm...pretty much forgotten what it was about!
      Titan AE: This has been on my backlist for years, but you're forgiven if you've never heard of it. Ebert gave it a glowing review, and me and Kevin made plans to see it a week later. But it was out of the theaters after its first week. I attributed this to the "Average American refuses to see any animated movie unless Disney made it" thing. I didn't have any high expectations going into it; yeah, Ebert liked it, but it's a Bluth movie, and I've never cared for his stuff. I'm glad I didn't reread Ebert's review before watching it, as he gave it 3&1/2 stars, or "Near Great," and my expectations would've been higher.
      MY GOURD IT SUCKED! With low expectations! Cliched plot, crappy music, one good scene (ripped off from Orson Welles). Animated films have to be careful when they mix CGI with traditional hand-drawn cells. The mesh worked in Iron Giant, as the Giant himself was the only CGI. It made him look that bit more alien. It worked less well in Triplets of Belleville; they used it for machinery, but there was too much machinery for my mind to accept all of it. In Titan, they stupidly used 3 types of animation: CGI, hand-drawn of the way-too-funny-animal-looking aliens and overly rotoscoped humans. The fact that I immediately noticed it, and then couldn't stop noticing it, just shows what an uninteresting script they had.

      Speaking of movies and Ebert, his Movie Answer Man column had this interesting link to a look at the 100 biggest money-making movies of all time, adjusted for inflation. Plenty that you'd expect, and a lot you wouldn't. There's even one I've never heard of, Let's Make Love. Given the release date of 1960 and the title, I'm going to guess that it was some Doris Day/Rock Hudson vehicle. And given the stars, I don't think any making of love was going to happen, on or off screen. (Those of you who've never known a time when there wasn't cable TV won't recognize a lot of the titles)
      I wish that they'd added a third column, one which listed how much each movie cost to make. I understand that Cleopatra never made back what it cost--Does that mean that in today's terms, the production cost half a billion?

      Here's a couple of worthwhile blogs I've been following. They update pretty frequently, theyr'e intelligent, they tend to write longer and more betterish posts than I do, they don't spell they're as theyr'e like I just did.
Fantaisie Bus, via Ellie who sent me an email or 2. And Running Dog Lackey, who I found from a hit to Super Green Beret.


      Byron, like any pet, has his little quirks. There's his food obsession, which surely was created during his Lost Little Kitten phase. He not only wasn't weaned when he wandered off at age 10 days, he didn't have teeth to even eat anything he found. I'm sure he tried to eat or gum something. Maybe that's why he turned down some Friskies Turkey with Gravy in favor of some fried noodles from a Chinese restaurant. (Well--one noodle, anyway. But damned if he didn't demand it and eat it).
      His major quirk is his disability, his deafness. Cats have great hearing; they're second only to bats, which use echolocation to hear f'Chrissakes. They have a lousy sense of smell but great eyes--assuming the target is moving. Once it stops, they can't find it. Many times I've played "Chase the Treat," the Major Olympic Event for Cats. And many would be the times when a treat rolled quietly across the carpet, and Kill Kill couldn't see or smell it while she was standing above it, right between her feet. I'd point at it, and she still didn't see it. So I'd tap the floor, and she found it. She still didn't see it. She heard it.
      Our Buddy Boy has compensated for his problem. He can chase a treat flying through the air, and sometimes grab it with his paws or mouth. Sometimes, he bats it and it goes off on a crazy tangent, and I crawl on the carpet until I find it and point to it. I don't tap, as he won't hear. He goes right to where I point.
      I have two windows set up for cat viewing, one over the courtyard, one overlooking the front yard. I opened the courtyard shade this morning, and the kids jumped up and obviously saw some birds. As I was leaving, I looked out of the living room window (exactly why is that the only room designated for living? Did houses use to have dying rooms, where you kept musty old Grampa, pre-dressed in his burial tux? But I digress), I looked out of the room of the living, and saw the better part of what they'd seen: a flock hundreds strong of migrating blackbirds. "Look out the window, kids!" I said, out loud but really to myself. "You should see all the birds!" Kill Kill listened with mild interest, but stayed under the coffee table. But Byron saw that I was pointing at the window, and in a great hurry, he ran up and stared.
      He knows what pointing means. "Come here. Look there." I thought only dogs knew that, and only after millenia of breeding and co-evolution. Smart cat.
      As I drove down the hill to work, I looked back. Three stories up, two little faces sat side by side in the window, watching the fluttering cloud of blackbirds.

      Crossing the Threshold:

      (Note: Long)

      Dumbya supporters would scoff at that, saying that is was paranoia (then rushing home to masturbate over the idea). Want to see the difference between "being aware" and "crazy"? A look at UFO kook William Cooper, the late and unlamented paranoiac. Gets better at the very end, when the author complains how deluded people like Cooper's followers blame the US Gummint for alien abductions, rather than the *real* abductors, the Aliens. Apparently, their kettles are blacker.


      Possibly the fact that I went to a museum exhibit about comic books a few days ago caused a random thought to pop into existence in my mind today. Equally likely, I have a mind that randomly pops. I thought about the 1960s version of DC Comics' Legion of Superheroes, something I haven't devoted a huge amount of synaptic uptime to since I was about 8.
      They had about 200 members then, since 196 of them generally had powers so lame that they needed to overwhelm the bad guys with sheer numbers. Behold Triplicate Girl! She can split herself into 3 identical versions of herself, with all the powers of...3 average teenaged girls. Eventually, one of them/her was killed. Not an altogether surprising result, giving the not-superness of her/them. Then she became Duplicate Girl, or Xerox Maid or Carbon Copy Cutie or something, with the ability to become 2 powerless versions of herself. She actually was less powerful now, so you'd think she'd be downgraded to club treasurer. But she still fought giant green space monsters. I wonder what happened the next time one of her died. Did she become Singleton Sister, or the Army of Me? If she called herself Mono Girl, at least she could scare the villains by trying to kiss them.
      And there was Bouncing Boy. He could inflate, and smash the bad guys with his fearsome bouncing. Period. Evildoers, ask not for whom the beachball rolls, it rolls after thee!
      For me, the dumbest was the guy with the very accurate (and very moronic) name of Matter-Eater Lad. He was a lad who ate stuff! Rocks, pianos, adobe haciendas, Chichester Cathedral, small icky worms, Spam, barbecue ribs (just the ribs), library paste, whatever that thing over there is, Dick Cheney, no matter how disgusting it was, he ate it. Funny--all the kids wanted to be Superman or Batman. Nobody ever wanted to be Matter-Eater Lad. It's not a power that you can really come up with a lot of uses for. "Dang, locked my keys in the car! Oh well, I'll just eat the door open."
      The dumbest part of Shit-Eating Boy was his origin. He wasn't bitten by a radioactive pair of dentures. No, there was a whole planet of people who ate their garbage before they threw it in the dumpster, just before eating the dumpster. Billions of people had his same constipating power. It's like having a Legionnaire from Rome named "Italian-Speaking Man." I guess he'd be good as cannon fodder. If he dies, there's plenty of replacements.
      Since civilization is a direct outgrowth from agriculture and domestication of animals, how did the Matter-Eating Planet get civilized? You don't grow rocks. You don't raise goats for their cheese when you can eat their heads raw. Why build a house when you chew one up during brunch? Given that their food supply is "anything we can bite," wouldn't they eventually overpopulate their world and eat it all away? After they've digested their fine six-course meal of pebbles and bracken and hubcaps and Vanilla Ice CDs, what do they poop? Do they eat the poop? What are their teeth made from, diamonds? I think that if a Matter-Eater-er offers you oral sex, it's best to turn them down if they have a bottle of mustard.
      This just randomly popped into my mind (okay, I guess my mind is the random thing, after all): Want to lose weight the fast and easy way? Try the MATTERKINS DIET! Low in carbs, high in fiber! (largely in the form of gravel) Here are some foods that you should or should NOT eat! You'll be shedding pounds and teeth in no time!

      To return to our usual subject (ie, nothing), here's my latest Netflix rental review.
      I'm a big fan of the BBC series "Walking With Dinosaurs." Most dino-docs are as dry as fossilized bone, with lots of talking heads with bad hairstyles and the occasional special effect. This series was ALL SFX. CGI and Animatronics, with an unseen narrator (that Branagh dude). What really made it work is that it was done as if it were a regular, high-quality nature documentary like you might see on PBS or Animal Planet. The stories were very plausible, and with the excellent effects, within 5 minutes you forgot that these weren't living creatures being filmed today. Being interested in dinosaurs doesn't hurt, but if you just like well-done animal documentaries, you'd enjoy them just as much. They make these alien creatures seem very much alive.
      The sequel, Walking with Prehistoric Beasts, was less so. The effects were still awesome, but the stories were lacking. They were still believable as animal behaviour, but not as compelling.
      Then came Walking with III: The Humaning. (Okay, "with Cavemen") I thought that I'd find it at least interesting, as early human evolution is not a subject I know a lot about. But the great CGI was gone. This time, it was "guys in monkey suits." The narrator tells us that they're 3 feet tall, but they clearly ain't. And I guess our ancient ancestors spent a lot of time holding their arms above their heads and screaming "OOK OOK!" as that's what they do here. A lot.
      It's a good idea to base a story around "Lucy," the most famous of all hominid fossils. It's not a good idea to put her at the apex of a melodramatic love triangle. It's like some Pleistocene Harlequin Romance. New mother Lucy's mate is the leader of the tribe, at least before the part where he begins a trip through a lion's digestive tract. Since she's of noble birth or something, 2 handsome young males begin to court her. One is tender and thoughtful, one is a brazen hothead (and actually described as such in the narration!). I guess Thoughtful is the monkeyman on the novel's cover represented by Fabio (only even hairier), as he wins the courtship. When Hothead is spurned, "for reasons known only to himself" (although I think the reason "Scriptwriter is a dipshit" covers it), he kidnaps Lucy's baby and runs off with it, with Lucy in hot pursuit. I'm not sure what reaction they thought that this would get from the audience, but I'm guessing "gales of laughter" wasn't on the short list. Hairy Harry Hothead goes bananas and runs around a-hootin an' a-hollerin, holding Very Fake Baby by one leg and violently waggling him over his head. He runs, he scampers, he waves VFB like a flag on Australopithecine Fourth of July, he does the hokey-pokey, yet VFB does not rip off of his wildly wiggling leg like a piece of jerked chicken, and then Harry runs smack-dab into--an EVIL ARMY of INVADING MONKEY D00DZ! He gets a smack down, VFB flies through the air and smacks down on the ground like a sack o' taters. Lucy rushes in, totally ignored by the monkey rioters who are--well, going ape-shit, and she saves her hacky-sack of a baby, just in time to WHAP! get bonked with a stick in her coconut and die.
      But who's this? It's Lucy's eldest daughter, who saves the baby to raise as her own! This baby who was dribbled full-court, slam-dunked, and then trampled by Evil Monkey Men. He'll be fine. When he grows up, traumatized by his parents' deaths, he becomes
      Or something. Rent Walking with Dinosaurs, BUT NOT Playing Kickball with Baby Cavemen.


      I have an interesting story from work, but I'm too Syndromed to even want to eat, let alone type. Some other day.

Which Colossal Death Robot Are You?

      The Onion AV Club taste-tests dollar store food.

      A look at Bush's first campaign ad. (If you don't know what is, look here first)


      Interesting story from work.
      Me and T. appear at noon, and her sister G. tells us, "The register was over $300 short last night." If I'd been drinking something, I'd've done a spit-take. Then she asked me, "Were there any big returns of empties last night?" meaning the bottles and cans that have a nickel deposit on them. No, I said, 3, 4 cases total. "SOMEbody took back $21 worth of empties--FIVE TIMES!" This translates into 2,100 empty bottles. I believe I wouldv'e noticed that. As they wouldn't've fit in the store.
      Deja vu all over again. This happened 5 years ago at Old Job, and then I immediately knew what I knew now: "Someone's ringing up fake returns and stealing the money! If they did it 5 times in 3 hours, they've been doing it for months. You need to check the register journals and see if there's a pattern." That's what we did at my old job. Did they do it? No. Everyone suspected everyone who worked the night before, one of whom was me.
      I asked what times the $21 returns happened. They only told me 2 times, the first and the last. I didn't know which register it happened on (one's clock is correct, the other's 15 minutes fast), but it didn't matter. On the first one, either me or T. were not IN the store at the time it happened. On the last, either way, there was only one register open and there was no way I could've stolen from it with 2 people standing there.
      T., of course, is G.'s sister. And, like me, an adult with bills and responsibilities. If we got caught, we were screwed. The only other person working was W., who, like the thief from my old job, was a 20-year-old slacker with expensive tastes. Not only was he the most likely person to have stolen, he was the only one always up at the register. That's what the other thief did--waited for the other workers to get distracted and walk away, and he'd steal. $20 of "emtpies" every couple of hours.
      They didn't want to believe it. W. is the teacher's pet of the store. I sure wouldn't be allowed to come to work 10 minutes late every day, and then spend most of my shift talking on my cell phone and playing video games or chatting with my friends, and frequently disappearing from the store for 30 minutes without telling anyone. They just like him more, so I knew that they'd prefer it to not be him to the thief. And guess who that left.
      I wasn't worried. Let them think what they want, as soon as they looked over the journals they'd see that it wasn't me. Of course, they'd do that before they went throwing any accusations around.
      The $300 was figured out quickly. The day before was payday, so I asked if everyone's checks were accounted for. And T.'s wasn't--it was cashed, but it wasn't in the deposit. Where it did go, we never found out. Possibly it fell on the floor and was mistaken for trash. But they put a stop on it, so that was the end of that.
      Then W. came to work, and as soon as he walked in the door--I mean that literally, he didn't cover 12 feet before he was accosted by G, in front of his co-workers and even customers. "What happened to T.'s check?" He had no idea what she was talking about, just like I had when she asked me about how many empties had been returned. Then she asked him that question, and he broke eye contact and became obviously nervous. It seemed apparent to me that he wasn't reacting to the question asked, "Were there any big returns of empties last night?" but the question not yet asked: Where's the damn $105? He stammered out a vague non-answer.
      He was quiet for half the night, then suddenly was all talk--unless I neared the register. I knew he was denying that he stole anything, which would throw suspicion back to me. They haven't known me long enough to know how much that "Honesty" is encoded in my DNA. They got increasingly hostile to me as the night wore on. But I wasn't that worried. If he'd been doing for months, he was doing it every day, and all he had to have done was steal once on a Monday. Then he'd have to explain how I did it on my day off. If he didn't do it on a Monday, there was still the problem of the timing of the thefts. Can't steal if I'm not in the building, and I always take my lunches when he arrives for work. If it happened between 3 and 340, it was a Splut-free crime.
      But there was one question--no one ever saw him opening the register and taking the money. If I couldn't do it with people standing right by me, how could he?
      The next day, everyone was quite cold to me when I walked in. How much had W. corrupted them? I walked up on G. and T. openly talking about "Wait'll we find out who did it," clearly meant for my ears. I said, AGAIN, look at the journals. If it happens on someone's day off, they didn't do it. If it never happens on someone else's day off...
      Why it required G., B. the store manager AND D. the owner to come together before looking at the journals, I don't know. Should've been the first thing they did, before suspicion ran wild. G. came out of the back office with a dazed expression on her face. I volunteered to go do the trash, so that she could talk to her sister. Since her first words were, "Huh? What? Oh, yeah, sure, go ahead" and not "They want to talk to you," I knew what they'd found.
      I was breaking up boxes for the cardboard dumpster when G, came out. "It was W. We looked at this week's receipts, and it happened on Monday. That clears you. It happened on Tuesday, that clears T. It happened on Wednesday, that clears me. We jumped all the way back to October, and he was doing it then. It only happened on his days, and only started when he was here." Gee, maybe that explains that used car he bought recently, while at the same time he always had a brand new pair of $125 sneakers every week.
      T. became very mad, and I found out that things were worse than I thought the night before. He swore "on my mother's soul" that he'd never stolen, stack of Bibles, etc. Then he spouted, "You know who did it? BILL! He set me up, just because I'm BLACK!" Yeah, that's me. What a fucking rascist I am. And he just went on and on, even saying everytime I neared the register, "Keep him away from me; I'll punch that bastard!" His little performance won them over, especially since he was preaching to the choir. Their cute little buddy surely was the victim, and not the weird guy with the cats.
      T. and G. were now more pissed off about being lied to than they were about the stealing. I pointed out that I didn't care what happened to "the little fuck"--he had no problem with getting someone else fired for his crime. That made them even more pissed. Me, I wasn't that upset. I didn't know what lies he'd been spreading about me, but I knew that they'd fall apart.
      I did get pissed when W. came to work later, big shiteating grin on his face, laughing and joking with everyone but me. He'd won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in a Grand Larceny Case. He was sure that I would be fucked, fucked for life, and that I would get the blame for what he did.
      His smile evaporated 10 minutes later when D. arrived, and he and B. took him in back. The store is so cramped that the aisles are single-file, and they boxed him in. One in front, one in back, so he couldn't bolt. The outer office door was shut, then the inner one.
      They were back there half an hour before they called G. in. They showed her his signed confession and promise to make full restitution. If he didn't, they were filing charges. They were calling his parents, which was a good idea for all concerned. I don't know if $105 was an average day, but he wasn't going to find any job that was going to pay him enough to cover what he stole. His only hope was that a relative might lend him the money (his parents are strict, upright, church-going people; I don't know what they'll do). She said he never looked up from the floor. He was so ashamed, he asked to be allowed to leave through the back door, so he didn't have to walk past us.
      And how did he do it? Wouldn't it make more sense to just boost the $105 all at once? Yes, but remember the visits from his friends? They'd pretend to buy something, and instead of ringing a sale, he'd just punch in $21 in returns, the drawer would pop open, and he'd hand them the money. If you weren't looking right at them, it would've seemed like an ordinary transaction. I wonder how much of a cut his friends got, and much they're going to help him pay off the crimes they no doubt were very eager for him to commit.
      After 20 weary years of retail, here's a little tip: You are not a Criminal Mastermind. We always catch you. It may take a while, but we will.


      Sorry about the graceless prose in yesterday's entry. There's a point where it ceases to be writing and just becomes typing, and then it reads like a pair of bricks being clacked together. Klunk, klunk, klunk.

      Let's do some coupon clipping! I was hoping for a Pizza Hut coupon, as I refuse to pay full price for a pizza. Some people can live on pies, but not me. If I get a craving for one, it builds slowly, and I can wait. I'm just not a Pizza Splut! Ha ha h...umm. "Klunk."
      Well, it's BBQ chicken Shake'n'Bake style tonight instead. But within the coupons for oil changes and nail wraps, there were some oddities. This is the same coupon book that led to a few InExObs. First was a rather depressing ad for a "Free Personal Safety & Anti-Abdution (sic) Seminar." Lovely fucked-up world we live in, where there are ads for that. It was for a martial arts business, so I'm pretty sure that they won't be telling the concerned parents how unlikely an abduction is, just freaking them out with horror stories to sell them courses for their kids. And the other one was...

      Yeah, nothing says "dignified ending" like "We saved a bundle using a coupon on his tombstone!"
      "Grandpa, we know you're really sick, but we'd kinda appreciate it if you died before 4/10/04. 5% would easily pay for an iPod."
      No, I have no idea what "granite furniture" would be, besides damned uncomfortable for anyone not named Flintstone.

      I've established a rhythym with NetFlix. I get 2 TV series DVDs to watch over the workweek, and 2 movies to watch on my days off. Upcoming for the workweek are DS9 and something I haven't seen since it was last on PBS, Hitchhiker's Guide. This weekend's movies were from pretty opposite ends of the spectrum, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, and Matchstick Men. I give both 2 opposable manipulative digits up!
      The first is a spin-off of the Batman TV cartoon (the first one, not that "Batman Beyond" thing. That was so crappy, they should've just renamed the character "Dung BeetleMan"). If you liked the series, you'll like the movie. It was just a bigger-budgeted (but not by much) version of the show. It still has the clean, Deco-styled look of the show, even if Batman has such sharp angles that he sometimes looks like he's made of Legos.
      The strength of it is that it's a cartoon with characters who aren't cartoony. They have backstories, motivations, personalities, and some damn fine voice talent to breathe life into them.
      As to the "mystery"--Well, I figured it out, and I wasn't trying. There was a period when I was maybe 13 or so, and I got interested in mysteries. I saw a couple of Agatha Christie adaptations and figured out whodunnit correctly, and that made me feel clever. So I bought some of a series of mystery novels starring a crimefighting rabbi (no, seriously). Those stumped me because the killer was "guy who got 2 paragraphs on page 43 then disappears." After I'd read a few, I just dogeared the page with the most inconsequential of characters and guess what, he always dunnit. If you've seen the movie The Hunt for Sean Connery's Next Paycheck Red October, one, you have my sympathies (what a piece of borscht that thing was), and two, that was the same type of "mystery." Y'know, the KGB mole who turns out to be the cook with the extensive dialogue of "DA!"? That's not a "mystery," that's a Harry Keeler plot.
      (Since I've linked to that nifty page before and what I'm talking about is buried in it, I'll tell you what I mean: Keeler once wrote a mystery novel in which the killer wasn't even introduced until the last sentence of a 450-page book. It was about--as much as any Keeler book can be "about" anything--a man who's found strangled dead in the middle of his lawn, with no footprints besides his own. His last words: "The Babe from Hell!" Naturally, the police suspect the Flying Strangler Baby, a deranged midget who hovers his helicopter over people and hangs from a rope and strangles them wid his iddy-biddy handsies. Damn you, Flying Strangler Baby! But FSB didn't do it. No, it seems that the guy was actually killed by Napoleon. Nappy was the guy's unknown distant ancestor, and passed on the [made-up] gene that kills you with symptoms that look like strangling and cause you to hallucinate. About babies.)

      Matchstick Men was good. That's all I can say. The end.
      Well...it's almost all I can say. It's one of those movies where you can't say more than a few sentences without making watching it pointless. Nicholas Cage is great as a character I've never come across before--a con man with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder ("Pygmies!") working on a Big Con, when the teenaged daughter he'd never seen before turns up. It's a comedy-drama, or more accurately, a comedy/drama. It's not as good as Memento, but just like it, I loved the ride and I'll never see it again. It's all about the surprises. Well, okay, for those of you don't plan on seeing it, highlight the text below for the trick ending:

Nicholas Cage turns out to be the Flying Strangler Baby!!!!

      Next weekend's rents: American Splendor and Looney Tunes: Back in Action. Look for reviews on next week's edition of Schizophrenic Cinema!


      I've got a NOAA Weather Radio in my bathroom. As I brush my teeth, I get my weather. Tomorrow we're getting 5-10 inches of snow. Crap, gotta drive in that again, I thought. Then it hit: DAMN! I've gotta get groceries and gas today! FUCK!
      Those of you in the warmer climes know not of what I mean. You in the colder regions do: panic buyers! They crowd the grocery stores (for milk!) and jam the gas stations to fill their cars. Why? Damned if I know. Someone should do a research paper on the phenomenon. There's always a huge amount of seniors. Maybe they're flashing back to 1942, when all the snow plows were fighting the Nazis by dumping sand on them and they were snowed in until 1945. Thousands died from milk deprivation, and those that lived only kept warm by burning the gasoline in their Model T.

      Ever hear those RE/Search CDs from a decade ago, "Incredibly Strange Music"? Rather, do you want to hear something totally bizarre? Okay, how about, Do you want to irritate everyone within range of your PC's speakers until they commit suicide?
      The first ISM CD ended with some deranged 60s Hippy girl babbling about...well, something. "BUDDHA drinks COFFEE?!" She was obviously tripping her tiny brains out and making up crazy shit while sitar, tabla and electric guitar play (randomly and not very well) in the background. They used the last track from her demented LP. Now, someone's posted the whole groovy freakfest, as "Kali Bahlu takes the forest children on a journey of COSMIC REMEMBRANCE." The one on the CD is actually the least insane. There are robots from Pluto and leprechauns and the unexpected knowledge that "Moses is a bright carrot orange!"
      Or you could just drop acid and hammer carpet tacks into your toes. Same effect. Or play it really loud, and when your cubicle mates protest, demand "I'm aligning my chakras here, is that a CRIME?!"


      It's Science Day!

      I've always wondered about those Giant Heads on Easter Island. What they really about?
      They were about permament ecological and social collapse in the name of short-sighted politcal gain. Remind you of any governments of today? (Really fascinating story, if the subjects interest you)

      There are two massive open-ended experiments being done in America today. We won't find out the results of them for years or even decades. God knows what the mass dosing of our children with Ritalin will lead to in a generation. And as for the other big experiment, what's Prozac and it's ilk doing to adults?

      In the much-less serious science of Catology, when I arrived home after my white-knuckle ride through the storm, the cats made their usual patrol near the food bowls. Then Byron became excited and raced up to the window and looked out, looked at me, looked out, made sure that I was looking where he was looking. Today he'd discovered something amazing!
      Good boy! You've just discovered what Science will henceforth and forevermore call "snow."


      I'm going to be lame and link to Oddball Comic of the Day. It's been trying my patience of late, as it can go on and on detailing every minor or even padded plot point of old comics, while having few images. Hey, they're comic books, throw us a visual bone here!
      This is a pretty entertaining one, though. It highlights a particularly retarded 1960 Superboy comic. Nothing says "Buy this Comic Book!" like a cover depicting a robot and a superhero, jumping and crowning each other in a battle of...checkers.
      Superboy gets marooned on an asteroid surrounded by Kryptonite. How the hell big was this Krypton? It blew up, and there was Kryptonite every dang place in the Universe, and certainly every place Superman went. You know how every story gets its one Unbelievable Coincidence? That's this story's One. But then Superboy discovers that there's a robot on this asteroid. 'Kay, up to Two here. And the robot was--built by Jor-El, Superboy's father on Krypton! FUCK YEAH SURE WHY NOT! That's so unbelievable, even to little kids reading it, that I count that as coincidences Three to Nine. And how does Superboy escape this incredibly dopey plot? Why, it turns out the robot is made entirely of lead, the only substance that can shield S'up,boeey! from Kryptonite. Then he finds a giant crater full of molars, and the Tooth Fairy gives him Space Bus fare home. Crimeny. CRIMENY, I tell ya!
      And that's not even why I'm linking to it. If you page down, there are scans of every page in a "Congorilla" story. It's...bad. Not Tod Holton bad, but...pretty danged bad. I like how all the dialogue is exposition. Especially the Aliens; it's like me going to work and spending all day saying to my co-workers, "It's good that we work in a package store, as that is what they call the liquor stores here in our part of the country! We will exchange money for alcohol until the end of our shifts! Look, here is a customer here to become drunk as we even speak! Pint of Bukoff, Sir?"


      I have less than nothing today. There could be another work-related story to relate about work ("klunk"), but like last Thursday night, I'll wait and see what the punchline is tomorrow. In the meantime, in betweentime, ain't we got email fun:

      Yes, I pay attention on important notify. I'll surely follow YOUR instructions on what to do to my computer! How many Nigerians do I need to pay to fix it?


      SHAWT: A woman asked for a bottle of Canadian Club whiskey. It was in a gift box, and she asked us to throw the box away so that she didn't have to. How the Karmic Balance of the Universe is preserved when it's us that throw it away, I don't know. She left the store and immediately dropped the bottle. If it was still in the box, it might've survived. But it smashed all over the parking lot. She was given a new one, because (ALL TOGETHER NOW!) "The bag ripped open!" It's never the fault of the person carrying the bottle that it breaks, it's always the fault of the bag or the bottle.
      I went out with a dustpan and brush to clean the glass up. I watched as the woman, who was so very careful to make sure she got a new bottle, was also careful enough to drive her car right over the broken bottle. I'm sure that it'll be our fault when her tires deflate.

      An "AWWW!!" story for all the cat people, complete with happy ending, cute picture, and amusing closing line.


      Why Comic Book Movies Suck. Keanu as Constantine, oh boy that'll be good.


      My Netflix reviews have been almost entirely positive. But I'm not Joel Siegel or Gene Shalit, who I imagine fall onto Ebert's "Quote Whore" definition ("critics" who'll give a positive review to anything marginally less reviled than Gigli or Battlefield Earth--Why do they do that? Do they get paid for their "NONSTOP THRILL RIDE!" non-reviews?). It's just that I choose movies expecting them to be good, very good in fact, and not in that casual Blockbuster method of "Well, this'll kill 2 hours." Even if something's bad I expect to be entertainingly bad. I've currently been home for 3 hours, and I've only just now completed my usual surfing. I don't have the time to watch shit. If I did, hey, I'd still have cable.
      That having been said, American Splendor is the BESTEST movie I've seen via Netflix! It's the story of Harvey Pekar, a miserable low-level government file clerk whose obsession with comic books and jazz 78s leads to a friendship with a budding cartoonist named Robert Crumb. This leads to a comic book, which leads to...well, not fame and fortune, but a continuing existence as a miserable low-level file clerk. Who becomes a regular on Letterman.
      An actor portrays Harvey while Real Harvey serves as narrator. Since it's based on real life, there's not so much a plot as a progression through the years. He gets divorced twice, lives in poverty, suffers through depression, meets "a very sick woman" through the mail. Sounds all dark and dreary, but it's not: it's very funny and, believe it or not, in its own weird way life-affirming. Harvey's angry but not mean; depressed but not bitter. He's Harvey Pekar.
      The look of the film is great. They use comic book devices like thought balloons and frequently cut from the actors portraying Harvey and friends to the friends of Harvey. His "borderline autistic" co-worker Toby seems like some really bizarre caricature until you meet the real Toby, and discover that it's a spot-on portrait. The directorial tricks never get in the way of the story. The acting is great, the script a beauty. If you're interested in comics, writing in general, documentaries of eccentrics, or just damn fine movies, check it out.
      And if you hate it, just call me a Quote Whore.

      There's a sorta-thread sprouting in the Comments about how you first became aware of this page's existence. I suppose most will be "InExOb," although even that can be further qualified (Yahoo? Cruel.com? TechTV? Somebody's link page?). Feel free to comment if you want. It doesn't have to be the same 10 people out of the 50 who read this all the time, y'know.


      Interesting that I chose this week to ask how people found this page, as this may be the week everyone stops reading it. Sorry, I just suck lately.
      So out of sheer desperation, I tried getting a picture of the cats together. I meant to show how Byron, at 9 months old and thus exactly 4 years younger than Kill Kill, is now taller than her. And is only 2 pounds lighter, despite still being in the Stick Figure Stage of late kittenhood. And those paws I was told that he'd grow into...they just keep getting HUGER. Give us a year, and this dude is going to be eating hippos.
      Know the expression "as easy as herding cats"? Well, here are the results of our photo shoot.


      It might've made yesterday's cat pics funnier if I'd remembered to point out that they were taken over the course of a minute.

      Damn, Fastmail has finally let a virus leak through. What is it? It's from all these addresses I've never heard of, it's 41K big, has randomly changing subject lines, and given the amount of "undeliverable mail" messages I'm getting, is using me to send it to others. I not only didn't open the attachments, I didn't even open the emails themselves (except for one claiming to be "from" Mike the Snard). I had one yesterday, and 15 today. If you get an email from me with an attachment, it ain't me. Delete it.

      "You may have defeated my Southern Hook Palm technique, but can you defeat the 1000 styles of Rumsfeld?"

      Well, I've got to poke around the comments and then see an MST3K ep I've never seen ("Space Mutiny"). I also need to buy some of these. Sorry about the continuing brief posts, but I have 9 days off over the next 2 weeks, so maybe I'll return to form sometime soon.

      Zefiel draws a pretty self-explanatory picture: "I'm Batsplut!"


      What are the odds that, in one 25 minute drive to work, you'd get stuck behind a school bus, 3 cars making illegal U-turns, a train, and 2 seperate funeral processions?
      Pretty good, apparently.

      All week I've been whining about having nothing to say here, and I completely forgot about something: The answer to the mystery of Young's Syndrome.
      There are 2 variants: Classic Choke, when I start involuntarily vomiting without any nausea 30-40 minutes after getting out of bed; and New Choke Now With Added Nausea!, which starts late in the day, and makes me more and more nauseous until around bedtime, when I start hurling.
      Since New Choke usually happened on a Sunday, I thought that it must be related to something I only do on Sundays--sleep in. It's a flawed theory, I know. Why would sleeping an extra 2 hours cause me to puke in the night? And the last time I had it, it was on a workday after a normal night's sleep. I felt so crappy that I went to bed very early and slept for 12 hours, and didn't get sick the next day. But anything's worth a try at this point.
      But when it seemed to be working, I started looking at the real problem, Classic Choke, which usually happens only on workdays. Was there something that I was doing only on my days on that was causing it? Well, the last thing that I do before leaving the house is drink a cup of coffee...
      And why did it sometimes happen on my days off? Then I drink tea. Have I developed a sudden allergy to caffeine? I abruptly began getting 2-day migraines when I hit my early 30s. Maybe I just suddenly was allergic to caffeine.
      So for the last 5 weeks or so, I've stopped using caffeine. Maybe it wasn't actually happening 30-40 minutes after awakening, but 10-15 minutes after drinking coffee. It happened later on my days off, but tea has less caffeine. This Sunday I made a glass of iced tea, but it was really strong. And 10-15 minutes later, I was violently puking. Then it went away, like it always does, once my stomach was completely empty. Empty of caffeine. After a year of visits to doctors and specialists, blood work and X-rays and endoscopies, maybe Young's Syndrome is finally over.
      My biweekly phone call with Jessica was delayed a week until today. She's been on-and-off sick for weeks. With an as-yet unidentifiable stomach/intestinal problem. Her bloodwork turned up nothing; she goes back to her doctor next week. Hopefully, we aren't looking at the beginning of Ledard's Syndrome...

      Once Mystery Science Theater 3000 switched from Comedy Central to the Sci Fi Network, Kevin began calling them to ask if they could add S-F to their channels. "It's on our list of networks we're looking at," was the reply for as long as he kept asking. It became very apparent they weren't ever going to add it. Kev got a dish; I returned my cable box.
      After watching "Space Mutiny," it looks like I didn't miss much. It's from some late S-F period, with Pearl and Brain Guy and some monkey with Tom's voice. Wow, those host segments were actually painful to sit through. They're as bad as the cheezy movies, and a good deal less funny. At this point, the only survivor from the original cast was--well, nobody. Even the Voice of Servo wasn't in the first KTMAs or Comedy "Channel" versions.
      The actual movie riffs weren't that bad. There were laughs. First season type laughs, here and there sporadically, not continual. And what was with the giggling? They'd make a joke, then they'd all cackle or chuckle. Umm, unless you guys are making it up as you're watching the movie (and you aren't), why's it so funny? Did they realize that they were stinky, and added a laugh track?
      Again, there were some good lines, but given the movie, it should've been much funnier. "Space Mutiny" was about...possibly a mutiny in space. It was one of those 1978 Italian rip-offs of the Star Wars franchise, where plots were needless as long as there were cheap special effects. Except that it was a 1988 Canadian rip-off of 1978 Italian rip-offs. It made as much sense as a photocopy of a fax of a photocopy of a Xerox of a script run 10 times through every language on Babelfish. Big highlight: The Battle to the Death between a pair of electric grocery store shopping cart wheelchairs.
      Weirdly, the MST3Kadets didn't even point out the "real" SFX in this: old clips of "Battlestar Galactica," carefully disguised by running them backwards. The hell?!

      This has been all over every liberal blog today, but not the actual news. If you missed it, here's Dumbya's idea of "comedy": "There was Bush looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. 'Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere,' he said."
      The 600 American dead in Iraq? YOU'VE BEEN PUNK'D!!!!
      Here's the best take I've read, from someone who was actually there. And ask yourself: Would Clinton or Gore been allowed by the Corporate-Owned Media to ever hear the end of this?

      Good comic, crappy site: Partially Clips.

      On the other end of the comics spectrum:

      No. Friggin'. Clue.

      Goddammit! Hey, guess what just happened with no warning! Here's a hint! It involved sudden involuntary vomiting! GOD-DAMN-IT!!!


      Via Camilla, the saga of SARS the Cat.


      Stanley Kubrick was an obsessive packrat:

Ellie looks at the Nintendo game Bible Adventures, which involves a lot of animal herding and dying.


      Ever wake up at night and, half-asleep, realize that you've just thought the greatest thought that anyone ever thinkified? Then it's completely gone when you awaken. So I've been keeping a notepad near the bed. Here are some of my brainstorms, and their deep meanings:

      Well, that was pointless. Speaking of, it's NetFlix Review Time!

      Anytime a documentary gets a good buzz with the reviewers, I try to seek it out. F'rinstance, that's how I heard about something called Roger & Me a decade ago. This not only got good reviews from critics I respect, but also at least one I don't. I love Hitch! magazine's movie reviews. They're hilarious, but they rarely recommend anything I'd ever watch. If it's a movie devoid of grindhouse gore, gratutious nudity and/or flamethrowing robot ninjas, it automatically loses a few stars with them. But even they liked it. And it was about the gruesome, sexy, flamethrowing world of 8th grade spelling bees.
      The Octagon of DEATH of spelling bees--the National Championship! It starts at the local level with millions of kids, armed only with a Webster's Unabridged and nunchuks, winnowed down until only 249 remain. It follows 8 of the regional finalists through the championship.
      The kids are from every region and race and economic class. They all seem like decent, smart kids, so it's hard to pick any one you want to win. You want them all to not lose. Although it is easier to relate to the poor girl from the projects (the only one with a parent who mentions how "We really could use" that $10,000 prize money) than the rich kid whose dad not only hires a spelling tutor, but tutors in French, Spanish and German, too, just in case any of those words turn up. (His rich uncle back in India hires a thousand people to pray 24 hours a day that he wins, and oh yeah, if he does? Unc will feed 5,000 starving Indians! Not like there's any pressure here, kiddo!) Amusingly, the first randomly-chosen word we see the kid asked to spell in the contest is "mercenary." And he spells it correctly.
      At the opposite end, there are kids who have poor parents who regularly use Dubya-ish made-up words like "pesstimistic," or don't even speak any English at all. But the kids are all determined, and the parents give them plenty of support and training. Lots of training. Hours a day. It helps to know the roots in Latin or Greek or German, but in the end, it's luck. You can't memorize every word in the world, you just have to hope that they don't give you one that you don't already know how to spell. One kid gets nailed on what I thought was an incredibly easy word, (marriage) banns. How'd he miss it? His mother explains that they're Jewish, and "banns" is a Catholic word. "I feel sorry for that kid from Texas who got 'yenta,'" she says. The highly trained rich kid's jaw drops and his eyes bulge when he's asked to spell "Darjeeling." Daddy made sure he learned German, but never thought that they might ask a word from the country he left, India...
      The Bee itself is suspenseful (did I spell that right?). I kept alternating between "They used a word THAT easy?" and "That's...that's a WORD?!" The Bee keeps continuing live on ESPN (!) until there's One Man Left Spelling, and even then it's not over: If the one survivor fails to spell one last word, there's no winner.
      It's very good, but it's not great. There's a very strong feeling that everyone, especially the parents, is too aware of the camera. It's hard to believe that all the parents drilling their kids 8 hours a day with thousands of words just say "You were a winner just by being here!" when they lose and leave it at that.

      Looney Tunes Back In Action (unless you believe the DVD, which calls it Looney Tunes: Back In Action: The Movie. As opposed to Looney Tunes: Blocked Intestional Action: The High-Fiber SuppIement?)
      I think that the real title should've been Looney Tunes: This One's Not Toe Jam Space Jam. Toons and people co-exist in a movie studio, but unlike Roger Rabbit, the toons exist less in our world than we do in theirs. Daffy and a WB security guard are fired, and Bugs and a studio exec are sent out to rehire them (Seems that the "Duck season! Wabbit season!" joke doesn't work when there's only a wabbit). And the evil ACME corporation wants the Blue Monkey Diamond for reasons too perfidious (and silly) to explain.
      Hope I didn't spoil the plot, because that's all, folks. I expected to be amused, but I was laughing out loud or at least giggling throughout this. It's a movie meant for DVD, as I had to pause just to get all of the jokes. And I'm sure that I didn't. You know the "spaghetti toss" method of comedy, where you throw as many jokes as you can against the screen and hope some of them stick? This is the ACME Giant Rocket-Powered Catapult of Spaghetti. Screw jokes the parents get and the kids don't, they're even shooting jokes only the grandparents get. Yes, they go to Paris and there's a poster for a Jerry Lewis movie. But do you get which movie? I did! They show the Eiffel Tower, and a red balloon floats by! I got that! There's a dwarf trying to pick up a hooker and--Umm, no idea. They go the Louvre, and there's a tribute to both Chuck Jones' love of High Art and Carl Stalling's love of classical music, and the funniest sequence involving a Seurat painting you've ever seen! Okay. The only one.
      Daffy's desk is emptied out, and there's a photo of him, Bob Hope, and Nixon. I laughed at that without knowing why. A large missile has "hi there!" painted on the warhead. I laughed at that knowing why (Dr Strangelove). When Area 51 appears with all its captured aliens (kept in giant Mason jars with air holes in the lids), of course Marvin the Martian turns up. But also Robot Monster?! They also reward obsessive WB fans with a giant robotic death machine that's actually--Oh, nevermind. An obscure character that you'll either recognize as the ultimate force of Jonesian destruction, or go "Whuh?!"
      The slapstick's funny, too.
      It won't hold up to repeated viewings like Roger Rabbit, as there's no emotional center, just a big yuk-fest. But if you want to watch a "brainless" movie that went broke by not underestimating the intelligence of the average American, pull up a chair, sit down and grab a frosty Wal-Mart beverage from Wal-Mart. (Even the product placement is a joke in this movie. "Look, a Hershey bar!" yells Daffy, pulling a live fish from an aquarium and swallowing it, before another character Heimlichs it out. Yeah, that makes me want a Hershey bar!)

      And you thought that the platypus looks insane: Ugly Zoo. The DNA of Killsy and Byron appear at numbers 71 and 72.


      A cool thing about little deaf kitties is that you can sneak up on them while they're asleep and take cute pictures!

      Except that they have some sixth sense that you're there anyway.

      He can be dead asleep in another room and still know that I've opened the cabinet with the cat treats in it. Strange.
      Of course, he has a food obsession. He tried to grab my bowl of Hungarian goulash away from me, and I ended up eating by standing in the middle of the kitchen. I'm not sure why he'd want goulash. The sauce has plenty of peppercorns, which I think would've been a bit strongly flavored for a cat. Well, a normal cat, anyway.
      Part of the reason I liked goulash as a kid was the Russian Roulette feature--try as we might, somebody at the dinner table was going to bite down on a hidden peppercorn. This is pretty much like opening the shaker and pouring a big pile of pepper right on your tongue.
      Of course, back in those days suburban American cuisine had yet to hear the word "jalapeno." For all I know, today people start their morning with a big bowl of peppercorns, just like I used to start with Cocoa Puffs. "I'm Peversely Concerned over Peppercorns, Perversely Concerned!" Hmm, no, the slogan needs work.

      Speaking of things that are hard to swallow, here's a look at "the worst books ever written," the "Left Behind" series. On the off-chance you're unfamiliar, this is the mega-selling series about life after The Rapture takes away all the Good Fundamentalist Biblical Literalists, fine upstanding models of morality like Jerry Falwell and Rush, leaving only The Damned. Antichrist, Armageddon, blah blah blah. It's not a MySTing so much as a deconstruction. It makes fun of the stupid shit, but also takes a lot of side trips into the minds of the people who crank out these "wreckages." And it's by a self-declared liberal Christian, which gives the criticisms more weight than they would coming from, say, a pony-tailed athiest wiseass. Blog-style, so you have to scroll to the bottom and read up.

      Speaking of the Antichrist...
      "My legal name is David Gonterman, a BA graduate from SIUE who got good and stoned one day over what I'm allowed to do with my life and decided that it would be a good idea to showcase my talents on the internet with the hopes that I'd get noticed by someone who would want me to do what I like for a living." Yes, it's the launch of the brand-spank-me new Foxfire Studios site! Probably you got the right degree to "do what I like for a living," Daveykins, if "BA" stands for "Bad Artist."
      Most of the links don't work, but apparently he's launching (yet another) new strip (that will get updated frequently until abruptly being abandoned) called "Scarlet PI." Anybody want to bet that Scarlet is a woman with a stick-figure body, breasts the size of inflated airbags, unexplained animal ears and a Jay Leno chin, who worships mulletted hack cartoonists from Pontoon Beach, Illinois?


      On the front seat of my car there's always a jar of Bac-Os.
      That's because my lunch is frequently a Wendy's side salad (with ranch dressing) eaten in their parking lot. The 99c salads are always consistent: good, never great. Sometimes I spend my 99c on the Value Meal Nuggets (with honey-mustard sauce); those are semi-consistent: good, sometimes great, too many times just nuggets. I used to get the small fries, but those are crazy go nuts insanely weird in quality: excellent on the rare occasions when they're fresh, halfway decent most of time, but far too frequently limp and, to use the 80s vernacular, grody after they've gone all limp under the heat lamp.
      Today, after many a month, I ordered the fries and a soft-serv dairy dessert. It came with a spoon, which I used to like GAG me with when I ate the soggy fries, y'know? To the max. I eventually threw the more inedible fries out the car window.
      When I get the salad, I always throw the (exactly 3) cherry tomatoes out, too. Sometimes, this one species of small grey bird will come and grab a 'mater. It'll stab its beak into it repeatedly, eating it from the inside out. It leaves a withered tomato skin behind. Usually, the tomatoes would lay there untouched, and I'd come back the next day to see the skins. No rush on eating those, I guess.
      Throw a few withered fries out the window, and it's like it rained dead zebras on the Serengeti. Three species of birds immediately flew down and grabbed fries, some of them fighting their own kind for them. One blackbird still had wet feathers from bathing in a nearby puddle, too excited over limp old fries to bother preening itself dry. I guess that grease, salt and carbs are at a premium in the bird world.
      Fun Fact: they eat the little fries first, then avoid the big ones. They went crazy over the small ones, and acted like the big ones were their last resort. Their way of eating the small ones (which were still too big for their mouths) was bashing the fries against the ground until they broke into smaller pieces. One would think that they'd do the same with the big ones, or just bite them into smaller pieces. But they really avoided those. They all looked for other food, and finally only the blackbirds could be bothered with the big fries.
      Connecticut already has "garbage gulls," seagulls that have abandoned the ocean 30 miles away to live in the parking lots of strip malls, scrounging MickeyD food that the humans have thrown out of their cars. These aren't isolated birds, these are entire flocks. Eventually, evolution will create a gull that can waddle to the drive-thru speaker and squawk "Can you supersize that?"

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