Monday, December 31, 2007

BOOK REVIEWS - The Lightning Round

Since May a stack of books has been building up in the middle of my desk. I keep telling myself that I will get around to reviewing them, but then I get distracted by a new book or the huge pile of comics or vacationing or whatever and then another book has gone by unreviewed. Since I am having a marginally shitty weekend I thought I would cloister myself in the casa and work on cleaning my desk. This means these books have got to get reviewed therefore rather than trying to write a post about each book I am going to write on long post covering the stack. Lets get started, shall we?


The Foreign Correspondent
Alan Furst
Random House, 2006
273 pages

In the late 1930's hundreds of intellectuals had fled Mussolini's iron grip in Italy and settled in large communities in Paris where they waged a covert war of words against Il Duce through hundreds of journals and newspapers. In this case the title character, one Carlo Wiesz, begins as a foreign correspondent for Reuters and slowly becomes entangled in this world of underground newspapers and espionage. Part of me wants to call this another rip roaring tale of espionage but however much I may have enjoyed the book and read through it very quickly, it is not a fast moving story. Furst, as always, slowly builds towards the inevitable conclusion for his character, all the while showing us a Europe unfamiliar to most readers and yet somehow well known. I cannot recommend this book enough.


The Polish Officer
Alan Furst
Random House, 1991
287 pages

In Warsaw in 1939 Captain Alexander de Milja is given charge of the national gold reserve of Poland. His orders are to transport the gold to Bucharest and keep it out of Nazi hands. This mission is the beginning of his service in the intelligence arm of the Polish underground. His assignments take him from Paris to Warsaw to the forest of the Ukraine, all in service of a country which, for a time, only exists in the hearts of her people. Of the four Furst novels I have read so far The Polish Officer is far and away my favorite.


Heroes Volume One
Various
Wildstorm, 2007
235 pages

While not a book per se, I did not feel like creating a separate entry just for this, which can only be loosely referred to as a graphic novel. This volume is a collection of the Heroes comics which appeared online during the first season of the show. While this volume is in no way essential to understanding the events of the show, I did enjoy the several chapters which gave us the back story for Hana Gitelman (played by honorary future ex-wife Stana Katic in the series), aka Wireless, and the tale of her ultimate demise. I hope they use this in some of the forthcoming episodes. In the end this was an enjoyable read but not really worth the money unless you are a fanboy.


Guests of the Ayatollah
Mark Bowden
Grove Press, 2006
680 pages

As with the other books by Bowden which I have read, Black Hawk Down and Killing Pablo, the title truly sums up the book. In this case Bowden examines the circumstances which lead up to the events of 4 November 1979 and the following 444 days where a group of Iranian students managed to hold the United States hostage. Once again Bowden succeeds by showing the reader how these events, now twenty-five years gone, still reverberate in the world today. Every one should read this book as more than any other event the hostage crisis is what drives the U.S.-Iran relationship to this day.


Submerged: Adventures of America's Most Elite Underwater Archeology Team
Daniel Lenihan
Newmarket Press, 2002
287 pages

I picked this book up while visiting the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. The idea of the book, which is to document the formation and first several years of the National Park Service's Submerged Cultural Resources Unit, or SCRU (which has since been renamed the Submerged Resources Center), appeals to both my interest in history and my newly acquired hobby of SCUBA diving. In this book Lenihan, who was the founder and leader of the SCRU for several decades, ably charts the history of the unit through the time honored tradition of telling tales of their more exciting adventures. The success of this book is that rather than a dry and academic treatise on the SCRU and the issues surrounding their work, Lenihan's style is conversational and he manages to avoid ever talking down to the audience. I really enjoyed this book.


Missile Gap
Charles Stross
Subterranean Press, 2006
99 pages

I purchased this book on a whim while poking about the Subterranean Press website and let me tell you the $35 cover price was a bit disconcerting. Seeing as how the book combined hard science fiction, a genre in which I am trying to renew my interest, and alternate history, a genre that I always find interesting, I thought it was worth the risk. I was relieved when upon finishing the book I was able to judge my gamble a success. Weighing in at a slight 99 pages, Missile Gap tells the story of a world which while familiar to readers is vastly different from our own. On the eve of the Cuban War of 1962 everything changed. The world suddenly became flat, the constellations were no longer correct, and rockets launched from the surface of the planet were not able to make orbit. In addition to this there are new and massive seas which connect our familiar Earth to new continents. The year is 1976 and Cold War continues apace with Britain standing as the last bastion of freedom in Europe, the rest of the continent having falling under the Soviet control and man is just starting to explore these new continents, moving across what has become known as the Boreal Ocean to establish colonies on the new land. While this is going on others struggle to prevent the scourge of communism from enveloping the remnants of the free world and yet others strive to understand what has happened to our world. While this may seem like a lot of ground to cover in just 99 pages, Stross does so masterfully, giving the reader enough to understand what is happening without delving into the minutiae of his characters day to day lives. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to tracking down his other works and adding them to the growing mound of reading I have yet to tackle.


Red Dwarf: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers
Grant Naylor (Rob Grant & Doug Naylor)
Penguin, 1989
298 pages

I blame this book for derailing the whole review process. (Well this book and the damned television, but we won't get in to that here.) I have started to review this book three or four times and each time I throw my hands up in frustration and wander off in search of easier prey. The problem with this book is that the entire concept of Red Dwarf defies description. Yes, red Dwarf is the story of one young drunkard name Lister who, after a heck of a birthday party finds himself stranded on one of Saturn's moons with no way to get back to Earth. To get home he enlists on the Red Dwarf, a mining vessel headed back to Earth. Since Lister is an incorrigible slacker he soon figures out that by getting himself put into stasis he can make it home without actually having to do any work. The one flaw in Lister's plan is that the Red Dwarf suffers a radiation leak which kills the entire crew and traps Lister in stasis for a million years or so. After the computer revives Lister the true fun begins as his only companions are the computer, who has gone a bit batty after being alone for a million years, the hologram of Arnold J. Rimmer, Lister's annoying roommate aboard the Red Dwarf, and Cat, the evolved descendant of the cat Lister snuck on board. Hilarity of the British persuasion ensues. My main worry about the book going in was that it would only really be accessible to fans of the show, of which I am one, since a lot of the humor depends on the interplay between the various characters, however the book captures that interplay brilliantly. If you are a fan of the show I definitely recommend this book and if you do not know anything about the show then you may want to check it out. It will not be a waste of your time.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
J. K. Rowling
Scholastic, 2007
759 pages

So here it is. After nine years and three-thousand three-hundred forty-one pages we have reached the final entry in the Harry Potter epic. When I started to read this book I had it in the back of my head that this book was going to suffer from the same impossible to meet expectations that plagued the Star Wars prequels. Fortunately for us all Rowling was able to craft a very satisfying end to her series. Can you just imagine the chaos if she had tanked? It would be like Dawn of the Dead meets the Kids Choice Awards set in Compton and nothing good can come of that! In this book she manages to tie up all of the loose threads in a manner which is consistent with the world she has created. I do not want to delve in to the book any more than that, really, in case one or two of you have not read it yet. We will leave it at the acknowledgment that the book is a satisfying end to the story and even includes one of those ten-year later post scripts that will play during the credits of the final film.


Diary of Indignities
Patrick Hughes
M Press, 2007
255 pages

This is the second time I have been suckered into buying a book comprised of material which you can read on the author's website for free, the first being Wil Wheaton's Just A Geek*. As an aspiring writer myself I do not mind paying for these books, particularly in these two cases as they are by turns poignant and funny to the point of tears. Patrick Hughes, whose website can be found here, is truly a larger than life character who is a danger to both himself and others and endowed with a razor-sharp wit which he uses to eviscerate his life and those around him. There is really nothing I can say about this book except encourage you to go and check out his website for samples. This is perhaps my favorite single story there, however his illustrated trip to the local Ren Faire is funny in a very sad I've been there and seen that sort of way. Once you have read those two stories you must go buy the book. The power of Christ compels you.


Dark Star
Alan Furst
Random House, 1991
437 pages

The second of Alan Furst's espionage novels set in Europe during the the lead up to World War II. Again it has been so long since I read the novel that I cannot communicate any useful information about the novel except that I very much enjoyed it and would unreservedly recommend it to anyone.


Requiem for an Assassin
Barry Eisler
Putnam, 2007
350 pages

This book will serve as an example of how backed up I have been on book reviews. The book was released on May 22nd. Before May 22nd I managed to score and read an advanced copy of the novel. My slacking knows no bounds. At this point it has been so long since I read the book I cannot safely comment on it except to say that I remember enjoying it very much and am once again looking forward to Eisler's next offering.


* Incidentally Wil recently finished his latest book The Happiest Days of Our Lives. If it is half as good as Just A Geek then it is well worth your time and hard earned ducats.

Monday, December 10, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - In the Presence of Mine Enemies

In the Presence of Mine Enemies
Harry Turtledove
New American Library, 2003
454 pages

In the Presence of Mine Enemies is set in the year 2010. Germany conquered Europe in World War II and then went on to conquer the United States in World War III, dropping atomic weapons on Washington, D.C. in the process. Hitler's solution to the "Jewish Question" has been carried out on a world-wide scale. Against this backdrop we meet Heinrich Gimple and his family, Jews living and working in Berlin, the heart of the Greater German Reich. His family and the other jewish families they know have disguised themselves as Aryans. They have forged their family trees and histories. The men go uncircumcised. They eat pork. They do not celebrate any of the usual Jewish holidays in the traditional manner but rather they celebrate in their heart. They do the best they can to lie low and pass without notice. The biggest problem in their life is their three daughters. As the novel opens they are telling their eldest, Alicia, that she is a Jew. Alicia is just ten years old and has spent all ten of those years learning the same lessons every other good German has learned; how the Jews are to be reviled and are untermenschen. The novel follows the day to day lives of the Gimples and their friends through what, in the end, becomes a tumultuous two years for the Reich.

I absolutely loved this book! Despite my misgivings about the premise and the cognitive dissonance I would suffer at times in the book, this is an excellent tale that deserves to be read by everybody. I really do not know what else I can say. I plowed through this book in a little less than a week and was so into it that I actually ended up taking it to work and reading it at my desk rather than the text I am supposed to be reading right now. The last seventy pages are very close to the best seventy pages of prose I have read this year.

As I noted I have some misgivings about the premise and suffered from some cognitive dissonance while reading this novel. The misgivings I have surround the possibility of Germany being able to win the Second World War and then turn around and prosecute a war against the United States and win. Even if the United States stays out of World War II or is effectively bottled up on North America, the Wehrmacht would have been ground to pieces against the Soviet war machine and I think that even a generation later Germany would still be too weak to fight a war across the Atlantic. The cognitive dissonance I suffered from while reading this novel is that, despite knowing it was set in 2010, I could not help but visualize things as though they were still stuck in 1945. When Turtledove talks about riding the bus I see the bus as a curvy diesel affair rather than the more modern and boxy buses we have today. When he talks about Luftwaffe Alfa, the Fuhrer's plane, I cannot help but see a Junkers Ju-52 and when he talks about the Messerschmitt 662 jets which escort Luftwaffe Alfa I cannot help but see the Me 262 jets fighters. While this did not distract me at all while reading the book, I found it amusing once I sat down to think about what I had read.

In the final analysis this book is important and while Turtledove does not have anything new to say about our all too human failings, it is an interesting look at a world that might not be as far away as you think. Go forth and read this book. You will not regret it.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blame Rob

This? This is entirely his fault:


There are moar here. And remember:

(Lifted from here.)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

MOVIE REVIEW - Yesterday

Yesterday
Yun-su Jeon, director
121 minutes
2002

Yesterday opens with the kidnapping a of child who we quickly learn is Special Investigations unit leader Seok's son. The SI team quickly locates the kidnapper and in the ensuing attempt to free Seok's son, the boy is killed and the kidnapper escapes, leaving a unique pendant at the scene. Some days later in the megalopolis the soon to retire police chief is kidnapped after watching his daughter Hui-su give a presentation about genetic predispositions to crime. As Seok and his SI team investigate this kidnapping, they find another of the pendants, thus linking the two crimes and setting Seok and Hui-su off on a chase through the city and across the peninsula in a search for answers, which ultimately show them they have a closer link than they thought.


It took me a couple of tries to get into this movie as the synopsis I read spoiled the big plot point reveal which occurs about two-thirds of the way through the movie. I found myself confused by the initial structure of the film as I expected the knowledge I had to be imparted to the viewers very early on. Once I figured out that I was not supposed to know what was going on I was able to settle in and enjoy the movie for what it was, essentially a two-hour chase scene with moments of characterization thrown in for good measure.


I very much enjoyed this movie once I was able to settle down and actually watch it from beginning to end. It contained the kinetic action sequences coupled with the peculiar brand of understated and yet soap opera-esque acting from the leads I have come to expect from Korean cinema. I do not mean to denigrate the acting skills or performance of either Seung-woo Kim, who played Seok, or Yunjin Kim, who played Hui-su and may be more familiar to readers as Sun Kwon from "Lost," when I describe the style as soap opera-esque. It is a dichotomy that I find interesting that for as reserved as Korean culture can be, and this thought applies to Japanese and Chinese culture and cinema as well, the cinema seems to toy with extremes; when someone is happy they are VERY happy and when someone is sad they are VERY sad, there seems to be little or no middle ground. I could describe it as melodramatic however here melodramatic seems to have a certain amount of negative connotation that I do not want to convey. I think the acting in Yesterday was while not necessarily top notch certainly good.


There were two things I saw in the movie which really jumped out at me. The first was Seon-a Kim, who played the SI officer May (pictured above.) I read somewhere that this role earned her the nickname "Korean Lara Croft" however her subsequent output, which seems to consist of sex comedies, may have put that to rest. Regardless of that she is going on the list. The second thing that caught my eye is the sequence I have captured below as an animated GIF:

(I know the animated GIF is not working. You can d/l it from here and check it out yourself. I would try to capture the video to something and upload it to YouTube but I have already returned it to the rental place. Sorry!)

This takes places while the SI team is taking heavy fire in an urban environment and I just thought it was a very cool way for a team to move to cover while still providing a moving target and covering fire.

Overall I would recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys Asian cinema and knows what they are in for, however for the uninitiated it might be a bit much to swallow.

Friday, November 30, 2007

TPB REVIEW - Empowered Vol. 1

Empowered Volume 1
Adam Warren, writer & artist
Dark Horse Books, 2007
248 pages

So an entire graphic novel based on a character the artist designed specifically as a commission for parties unknown who like girls bound and in very little clothing; what could possibly go wrong here? Of course since it is by Adam Warren, the OG of the OEL, I had to pick it up and see what the fuss was all about. In a nutshell the book is pretty much what you would expect from what I described, except that while the bondage situations and lack of clothes are clearly exploitive, they never cross the line into pornography.

This book chronicles the life and times of Empowered, the central character's admittedly lame nom de hero. She gets her powers from a supersuit which is SKIN tight and for some reason, not very resilient. As the suit gets torn up her powers diminish until she is a mere mortal...and bound and gagged. While the first few stories in this volume seem little more than excuses to put the heroine in such situations, Warren's affection for the character and desire to do something more with the book shows through. This is particularly evident in his characterization of Empowered, who has very low self-esteem and only starts to get a little better when she builds a support structure around her.

As the stories get a little longer Warren introduces a couple of new characters which help pull the stories away from their bound and gagged origin and flesh out Empowered's world. First there is Thugboy who goes from being a generic henchman to Empowered's live-in boy friend, and then Ninjette, a female ninja, comes along and, after tying Empowered up, decided to go ahead and move in with the couple. My favorite addition to the cast is He Whose Name is Too Scary to Be Spoken, a demon lord who ends up trapped in some alien bondage gear. In typically ludicrous Warren fashion Empowered has to hang on to the caged demon lord because of zoning restriction on the Super Homeys' HQ. His dialogue is over the top enough to compete with the likes of Dr. Doom and Darkseid*, however he comes with a voyeuristic streak about a mile wide.

All in all I really enjoyed the book however it is only going to appeal to those who like their super-heroing with a liberal dose of absurdism and bondage.

* As I was reading the book I found myself reading this character's dialogue out loud and cracking myself up. I am not sure if this speaks to how funny the dialogue actually is or how sad my life is, take your pick.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Japanese Advertising

I love the cats over at J-list.com. They use adverts and pages out of magazines for packing material which, being the cheap bastard I am, I turn into "creative" wrapping paper for the items I have ordered as gifts. In this particular installment one page included this ad:


What I find curious is that the two main models featured in this advert are most assuredly NOT ethnically Japanese. I do not know why this strikes me as odd, I suspect it has something to do with how homogeneous Japanese society seems to be. I would be very surprised to find that non-Japanese make up more than 1% of the population. I imagine that the subdivisions within that percent would heavily favor immigrants from other Asian countries. Just something I thought I would share while I have a slow week on the writing front.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Would you like fries with that?

The other day I went to the local "mediterranean grill" for lunch. I, as usual, ordered a gyro plate with an additional gyro on the side. What? I loves me some gyro meat. While I was waiting on my meal I looked at my claim ticket, which is thoughtfully shown to the left for your edification. I know I did a double-take when I saw "Yog Sauce" on the ticket. I immediately thought of this and it took me a moment to figure out what was actually meant by "Yog Sauce." While I pondered I thought, "I bet it goes well with souls."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

LOLZ Indy






Some of these were too easy and as I was posting these I thought of a better, alternate saying for Big Pimpin' Indy, "X NEVER marks the spot, bitch." You can view a couple of other pics from the set here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I *HATE* the Holidays

Actually it is not the holidays that I hate it is the fact that MY CAR THREW A FUCKING ROD ON THE WAY HOME FRIDAY. FUCKITY FUCK FUCK! To add insult to injury I can't really afford to get a new one until sometime in April. Five months without a fucking car. I am going to get piss-drunk and eat pizza. I am sure I'll be back to my usual chipper self in a few days. Till then enjoy this:



Randy Taylor. I love you!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Monday, Nov. 19th

Well kids, I had a really good and busy weekend this week and it all started Friday evening. Scott had Bird, Brian and I over for a night of experimental cooking wherein he tested a few soup recipes on his unwitting victims. I believe the selections were chestnut, mushroom, and butternut squash. Of the three I think the chestnut soup had the most potential however it needed a little work. Regardless all three of them were pretty tasty and the rest of the dinner, coq au vin and some chocolate pie, was excellent! After hanging out for a bit I headed home because I knew on Saturday I was going to have a very full day and boy was I right.

I dragged out of bed around 8:30 on Saturday morning and headed out to Liendo Plantation for their Civil War Weekend. Liendo Plantation is a stone's throw from Prairie View, in fact the Liendo Parkway is the exit I take when going to visit my dad's house in Prairie View. 290 runs right along the edge of the current plantation property and for all the time I was living in College Station I would pass right by the plantation and their giant billboard advertising the Civil War Weekend. Every time I would drive by the sign I would make a mental note to myself that this is something I should check out. Then I would drive by the sign sometime in December or January and cuss because my mental note had failed me yet again! For whatever reason this event was on my mind this year and I finally managed to make it out to Liendo Plantation.

Despite the crap-ass weather on Saturday I had a very good time. I enjoyed wandering around the various encampments and chatting with some of the reenactors. I also chatted with a few other attendees, which is very unusual for me. I ended up spending a good part of the afternoon talking with Thomas Eishen, an accomplished photographer and novelist. Our conversation was very wide-ranging and I really enjoyed meeting him. Now all I have to do is pick up his book and check it out, something I meant to do today so I could read it over the long weekend, alas I was actually busy at work!

The "battle" itself took place on an open field bordered by trees on one end and a curve in 290 along the far side. This is probably the same field where the billboard I used to see every time I drove by lives. Saturday's scenario was a sneak attack on a C.S.A. camp by Federal forces. Interestingly Camp Groce was situation on Liendo Plantation's lands during the Civil War. Camp Groce, or Camp Liendo as it was commonly called, served as a prison camp for Union soldiers as well as a recruiting station and a refugee camp. Even with the home-field advantage the Confederate forces surrendered the camp, thus setting the scene for Sunday's scenario in which the Confederate forces retook the camp using much the same tactics.

As much as I enjoyed the "battle" on Saturday I left rather frustrated. As I said the weather was truly crap. Not crap enough to chase me indoors, but the sky was overcast with very thick clouds which meant when I was photographing the event I was shooting with some ridiculously slow shutter speeds. I ended up tossing about a quarter of the pictures from Saturday as they were so badly under-exposed I do not think I could correct the issues in Photoshop. Sunday the weather was MUCH better in the afternoon with the sun playing peek-a-boo in the clouds during the "battle." Overall I am significantly more pleased with the photos I shot on Sunday with two exceptions. The first is that due to the storms that rolled through on Saturday night, there were significantly fewer reenactors for Sunday's battle. This saddened me because as proud as I am of being a Texan, every time I see a Union regiment advancing with the regimental colors and Stars and Stripes flying in the wind I am almost moved to tears. This strikes me as one of the most beautiful and terrible sights on the battlefield. Here is a picture I took on Saturday which I was hoping to be able to recreate with better lighting on Sunday.

IMG_2212

Oh well, there is always next year!

The second reason my Sunday pics bug me a bit is that due to where I chose to shoot from and the fact that I actually stood rather than sitting on the ground there are several shots which would be really cool if there wasn't this big fucking freeway in the background. DAMN YOU MODERNITY!* Additionally along the tree line which defined the back of the field of battle there are a couple of power lines. With some of the angles I was shooting the power lines actually come out looking like wires in the fence which bisected the battle field, however in other they are plainly not a fence. Fortunately they are against a busy and usually out of focus background so it will be easy enough to clone stamp them out in Photoshop. There is nothing to be done about 290 though. Argh!

After the reenactment I wandered through the camps a bit more and tried to track down a couple of the reenactors I had talked to on Saturday without any luck whatsoever. Since they were in a fairly primitive camp, which they called a campaign camp, I suspect they were one of the groups that got washed away. It was too bad because I wanted to get some contact information from them. They seemed like a good bunch and this sort of reenacting is something I have been interested in for some time. Oh well, I think I have tracked them down on the web. Time to fire off an email and see. I also picked up a CD from the local group Celtaire. I have seen them at Ren Faire and like this sort of music so I went ahead and bought their From the Heart of Texas album, a collection of twenty-three songs popular in the state during it's first one-hundred years. The album has been submitted for consideration in the Grammy category of best historical album. While the album is a rather hit or miss affair in my mind as I am not a big fan of the vocals, I certainly hope they win!

In addition to all the reenacting fun, Matt decided to crash at my casa after he worked at the UW on Saturday night due to the weather we were going to be hit with. He did not want to get caught out on the road. It was pretty cool to hang out with him for a couple of hours before I had to crash. We talked about joining the novice league over at the Aerodrome so we will see what comes of that!

All in all this was a really good weekend. Spent time with some old friends and made a couple of new friends and I think the photographing at Liendo Plantation was a good learning experience for next year. Who knows, maybe I'll haul my butt out to Bellmeade this next May and check out the reenactment there, as well. Well, it is getting late so I am going to get this posted and then crash. For your entertainment I offer up the following gallery of pictures I shot this weekend:

Image hosted by Webshots.com
by james7329

* Oddly enough this is how I felt in Human Sit in college as well. I guess you can't teach an old James new tricks. Sorry ladies!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Watching Star Trek


So no post for you. Go play on YouTube or icanhascheezburger.com or something, I don't really care as long as you damned kids stay of my lawn!

BTW, this picture? Halo armor, are you fucking kidding me?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass
Phillip Pullman
Knopf, 2002
399 pages

As I said in this post, The Golden Compass is just the sort of book a young James would have been interested in therefore on one of my recent forays to the Alabama Bookstop I decided to pick it up and see if I could get through it before the movie came out. As it turns out I might be able to read all three of the books before the movie comes out as I picked this book up last Friday and completed it last night. I found the book to be very readable and, unlike Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (which I have yet to complete), the somewhat formal language Pullman uses at times to enhance the reading experience rather than distract from it. I think it is already evident that I very much enjoyed reading this book.

The Golden Compass, which is the first book in the his Dark Materials trilogy, chronicles the adventures of Lyra, an 11 or 12 year-old orphan who begins the tale as a ward of the Scholars of Jordan College, Oxford. The book opens with Lord Asriel, Lyra's uncle, visiting Jordan College where he is a fellow, to discuss some of his discoveries while in the north, which is a collection of savage lands populated by witch clans and the panserbjorne, or the armored bears. After Lord Asriel's visit, Lyra's life returns to normal until one day her best friend Roger is taken by a mysterious group known only as the Gobblers. The only thing anyone knows for certain about the Gobblers is that they take kidnap children who are never heard from again. The same day that Roger is taken the glamorous Mrs. Coulter arrives in Oxford with an offer for Lyra. Mrs. Coulter needs an assistant and she would like it very much if Lyra would come to London and fill that role for her. Thus begins Lyra's wild adventures through the confines of British aristocracy to London's streets and the wide world beyond.

Being the sort of geek that I am there are parts of me that find Pullman's world even more interesting than the characters he has created. It is a world not unlike our own however in Pullman's world magic is real and every human is accompanied by a daemon. Daemon's are physical manifestations of the human's soul and while inexorably linked to their human, they are individuals in their own right. Children's daemons' can shift their forms however around the time the human hits puberty the daemon settles on a final form. One other major difference is that in Pullman's world England is dominated by the Magisterium. In this first book the Magisterium is not discussed very much, however it is clear that it is the Christian Church and is not a power to be trifled with. Other differences include the previously mentioned witches and panserbjorne. The panserbjorne are bears who are self-aware and often sell their services as mercenaries.

While I have heard that there was a hue and cry from some Christian groups that this book is anti-religious, and I can see how they are pigeon-holing the book to appear that way, I do not believe this is the truth. Rather than serve as a condemnation of Christianity or Christian ideals, any anti-religious sentiments expressed in this book are anti-establishment sentiments. The only thing I found in the book that bothered me is that there are times where the characters do not get the happy endings you wish they would. While I completely understand why this happens, it might be a little rough for some younger readers to handle as I found myself tearing up more than once while I was reading.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it to anyone!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Dispatches from the Anyss - Monday, Nov. 12th

Happy belated birfday Nikki! Here's hoping you took the man's advice at some point this weekend.

So how was your weekend, world? Mine was pretty damn good. I spent Saturday either in bed, working on a writing project which I am really fucking excited about even if it is not coming along as well as I had hoped, or partying with my own personal dynamic duo Rob and D. (I suspect D is Robin but I am never 100% sure with those kids.) Saturday was D-Unit's birthday and we celebrated with an evening of pizza, drinking, and friends at the casa. It was very enjoyable as I was able to wear a bucket on my head (photo forthcoming) and be funny, opportunities which rarely present themselves. I spent Sunday at the Lone Star Flight Museum's final fly day of the year before they put all the toys in annual maintenance and the like for the winter. Of course I took pictures and managed to escape with out ANY sunburned parts. I am starting to get good at this shit! When I got home I sacked out on the couch for a bit and then read most of The Golden Compass. I might finish that tonight depending on how motivated I am about hitting the office close to on time tomorrow. Today was just another day at the salt mines with the added bonus of being the day I had to complete my self-appraisal. I HATE doing the self-appraisals at my job for two reasons. The first is that we have to really hype ourselves up and contrary to what you may think I do not actually enjoy writing about myself, or at least in the way we are expected to around the office. The second reason is that our self-appraisals have to be written in third person so our supervisor can cut and paste them to make their appraisals of our performance. That just strikes me as being retarded, particularly since these have nothing to do with our raises in that I am certain nothing I write on there will get me any more money. It is just another opportunity to fail. Oh well, it is all done now anyway.

Sunday out at the LSFM was a very cool day; much more relaxed and informal than the airshow they have in April. Throughout the four hours they were performing flight operations they flew the B-17, B-25, P-47, Corsair, Hellcat, and a couple of other aircraft whose names/designations escape me at the moment multiple times throughout the day. The belle of the ball was their newly painted Hawker Hurricane, which has been in the museum's inventory and under restoration in Colorado since 1990. This was the first public appearance of the Hurricane, which is painted in the colors of L. C. "Wildcat" Wade (who is pictured on the left in the cockpit of his Spitfire), a Texan who joined the RAF in December of 1940 and earned his commission as a Pilot Officer in April of 1941. He flew Hurricanes in Egypt with the No. 33 squadron and then flew Spits in Egypt with the No. 145 squadron. He died in an accident in January 1944 at Foggia, Italy. He was credited with 23 kills and earned both the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross. (The museum's Spitfire, which I have yet to see fly, is also painted in his colors.) While it is no Spit, it was very nice to see the Hurricane in the air.

When I first arrived and walked out on to the tarmac I could not quite place the sound that assaulted my ears until a UH-1 Huey came flying out from one of the hangers and did a low pass over the flight line. It reminded me of the scene in We Were Soldiers where Mel Gibson introduces the troops to their new horses and put me in just the right frame of mind for shooting pictures. As soon as I made it to the flight line, they started prepping the Hurricane and soon enough it was in the air and I was able to get my first pictures of the bird. Here is one I selected mostly at random since I have not had time to cull the pictures I took. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Question RE: Jennifer Aniston

Do you think Jennifer Aniston would rather be remembered as Leprechaun's Jennifer Aniston or Brad Pitt's ex-wife Jennifer Aniston? Please post your answers in the comments and show work where appropriate.

Dispatches from the Abyss - Wednesday, Oct. 7th

Well it took an extra day for me to get around to writing another Dispatch, but fear not, my intrepid readers, last night I did get some writing done. I have an opportunity to do some real script writing for a change and I do not want to jinx it so I am not going to talk about it too much here on the Opiate until there is actual news to report. Just keep your fingers crossed for me and with any amount of luck and a little skill you may see my name on the silver screen in a couple of years.

Monday, being the 5th of November, was Scott's birthday. We are all able to remember this because of the couplet we learned in V for Vendetta:


Wait a minute, that's not right at all, but it is marginally (VERY marginally) funny. Anyways, several of us got together and went to Truluck's for dinner where I engaged in an orgy of crab consumption that would make mere mortals blanch. While "All you can eat"* and "buffet open" remain some of my favorite phrases in the English language, I do not actively like crab meat. It is not that I dislike crab meat, but it is not something that I actually like. I will eat it without complaint** however the next time I am going to order a steak. The funny thing is that since Scott and I had discussed all you can eat crab night, I have been craving crab, or what I thought was crab. I have the same problem with Big Macs. From time to time I will just CRAVE them and the only way to get over it is to go buy one and eat it. Every time I do this I get about three bites in and wonder what the fuck I am doing because this sure as shit does not taste like the Big Mac I have been dreaming about for the last few weeks; in fact this taste pretty much like shit. Oh well. The second lesson of the night is that when purchasing gifts for Scott, Rob and I need to coordinate our shopping. While I am certain that Scott will find a happy home in his stomach for the two bottles of Macallan 18 he received this year, I am the girly sort that worries about my gift being somewhat original.

When I got home from dinner I pretty much crawled into bed and suffered through food coma until I was able to fall asleep. Tuesday night I spent working on my idea for the afore mentioned writing project and then hit Downing for a round or two with Scott. While I still like drinking at Downing, staff departures over the past year have sucked some of the fun out of the place. Back when John, Emily, Shannon, and Ashley were all there it felt like home. Now it is just another place to drink. With shitty jazz on Tuesday nights. We have got to remember that and stop going then. It is excruciatingly bad and Downing is not a good live music venue. A guy with a piano might work in there, but even a jazz quartet is too much.

Tonight I rushed home from work and then went over to a friend's house to discuss the super secret project. I feel pretty good since she is on board with the idea I sketched out last night, with a couple of modifications. Now I just have to work on breaking the story and then coming up with a treatment. Again, keep your fingers crossed as this might be opportunity knocking.

And now I am home getting my hour of writing pounded out before I retire to the bedroom and finish watching Casino Royale before I sack out. I got in the mood to rewatch the movie because of a post on one of the Star Trek forums I read. With every new announcement about the new Star Trek movie, which began filming today, the Trekkies get up in arms and bemoan how terrible the movie is going to be. The most recent announcement which spurred a paroxysm of fannish rage came from Philippe Dauman, the CEO and President of Viacom, Paramount's parent company, during Viacom's Q3 2007 earnings call. While discussing the upcoming slate of movies he said, "Paramount will close out the year with Star Trek, a completely reconceived version of this franchise by, again, J.J. Abrams." (You can view the whole transcript here if you are really that bored.) The biggest problem people have is with the word "reconceived." A lot of people are reading it as J.J. Abrams is throwing out everything but the names and trying to rebuild everything else about the franchise, including the core concepts. I believe this word really means nothing, particularly in this case. Reconceived is a nice buzzword that people like to throw around. What they want to say is, "This ain't your daddy's Star Trek," however since their audience is made up of high-dollar investors and not the Montrose Beer and Gun Club, they feel the need to use buzz-worthy words. Now I am not saying that the fears about the film are completely unfounded as people with significant access have expressed concerns AND from the sketchy details which have been leaked about the plot there is clearly going to be some reimagining shenanigans going on, but I am personally trying to take a wait and see attitude and think the CEO was talking out of his ass.

I said all that and the next response was some cat going on a tear about how he is sick of things being reimagined and reconceived. He had earlier posted a similar rant in which he singled out Casino Royale for reboot suckiness as they turned Bond into nothing more than a petty thug for hire. I was shocked when I read that but then figured what the poster was really bitching about was that, much like in the books, James Bond was not a nice person in the new movie. Sean Connery played Bond the right way. Once the movies went off-book and they replaced Connery, James Bond became a bit more sentimental. I was so in awe of his comments that I felt the need to go back and watch Casino Royale again. While I really enjoyed Brosnan's work as Bond, except for the last one which was a stinky, stinky poo, watching Casino Royale was almost like watching my first Bond movie all over again.

Well, it is getting on in the evening and I want to hit the sheets before midnight, so I am going to end this a little early so I can get it to the Opiate and into your greedy little hands. I think tomorrow night I have an industry mixer I need to go to for work, however I should be back on Friday when I will discuss the WGA writer's strike. Till then have a good one!


* While I was at the office on Monday my office mate, Brian, and I were discussing the plans for the evening and I told him that "all you can eat" were my three favorite words in the English language. Of course he pointed out that it was four words and after a VERY lame attempt at defending myself by claiming there was a hyphen in there I responded that he was right and now I was going to go be a snarky dick about other people's grammar and spelling on the internet for a while to make myself feel better. It worked.

** Well I will kind of complain about it here, but that's what blogs are for, right?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Eumelia, my daemon

I am very interested in The Golden Compass, which is coming out on December 7th. This is the sort of book that I would have loved as a kid and I so far I have been very impressed with everything in which Chris Weitz, of American Pie fame, has been involved, therefore I am doing my little bit to help their viral marketing campaign. Apparently my daemon is a rabbit. Hrm.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Sunday, Nov. 4th

This week was pretty much a shit week. I did not get ANY writing done and I have no excuse for it. I had trouble getting out of bed in the mornings and trouble pulling myself off the couch in the evenings. Every night I had pretty disturbing dreams which led to me waking up without having gotten any good sleep whatsoever. All of this added up to make things a week in which I managed to accomplish nothing except somehow managing to blow through pretty much my entire paycheck. Having to pay car insurance SUCKS.

On the plus side the end of the week shaped up to be decent. On Thursday night I had Scott, Rob, and D round for dinner. I managed to burn the rice but cooked a pretty decent pot of Spicy Beef and Kimchi Stew as well as making a tasty Korean Cucumber Salad. Since I have so much kimchi left I am thinking about trying the stew again this week. All I have to buy is the meat. I telecommuted on Friday which was great. I worked on a specs paper for work and then took a long lunch to pick up some stuff to make an improvement or two around the casa. Once I was done with work I finally got around to putting the cup hooks in the wall above the sink in my kitchen. This opened up most of one cabinet for me so I could finally get the pile of bowls, small plates, and cup off the counter which means I actually have some workspace in the kitchen that is not on top of the stove. In addition to that I replaced the blinds in my living room. I have one window in my living room which is six feet long and the apartment complex put one set of blinds in there that covered the entire window. Being an apartment complex they used cheap-ass blinds and therefore not to long after I moved in I managed to rip the locking mechanism out of the frame. This meant I could no longer put the blind up. I have been meaning to replace the blinds since then however just never got around to it then a couple of weeks ago I tangled with the blinds again and managed to rip about a foot of the frame off. This made the blinds FAR too gimpy and something had to be done. I hit Home Depot, bought a couple of 35" wide blinds and mounted them in the window on Friday. Now all I have to do is get some drapes and the living room will look like a home. Well that and get the spare TV out of there and get the two piles of paper cleaned up, but I think I have accomplished enough for this month.

After the crap-ass week I had I decided that the best way to spend Saturday would be in bed. I alternated between reading and getting caught up on television. Somehow I managed to slack off and while being a mopey little bitch I managed to not watch any of my weekly television. On Saturday I managed to get all caught up as well as hammering through some of the stack of comics on the night table. I have no idea how I have managed to do it but I am about a week or so behind on the reading of the comics. I need to hammer through them before things get out of control again.

Saturday night was set aside for a wedding. My friends Rex and Julie were getting married. I spent some time on Saturday agonizing over whether to even go or not, having built up some considerable slacking momentum, however I decided to go. The next question was what to wear. It was finally cool enough out to consider the kilt as an option, however I do not have a semi-formal sporran and did not want to go the full-nine for this one. I just had my suit cleaned, however I fiddled around with the kilt idea a bit more and decided to go with the kilt. Since I do not have a tie that goes with the kilt I made sure to wear one of my white shirts with a button-down collar. I wore my formal sporran, which is kind of cheap-looking and may need to be replaced in the near future, my cream hose, ghillie's, belt, and a white button-down shirt. At first I was nervous when I was walking in but the cop who was working the door and the first person to see me complimented me on how I looked. After this the nervousness I had melted away. The wedding was very nice and I am very glad I went. Rex and Julie seemed to be having a wonderful time and I enjoyed chatting with my friends that were there. I got several compliments on the kilt from both complete strangers and my friends. I think this is the first time that many of my friends have seen me in a kilt and this was the first time that the Anderson kilt made an appearance with this crowd. Now the only question is whether to wear it to dinner tomorrow night or not.

While I was at the wedding I had one of those uncomfortable moments of revelation about myself. I learned that I am not very good at weddings. I am always a bit uncomfortable at them, as I am in most social situations but weddings have an added level of discomfort for me. The problem is that I want to be married. I want to fall in love with someone. I want to get married. I have for a long time. Going to weddings and watching people get married just emphasizes my lack. Not while I am at the wedding, but later, in the quiet moments when I am home alone and sitting in front of the laptop and confronted by a blank page. I wimped out last night. I left the wedding earlier than most because I got in to a strange head-space intending to come home and work through my head on paper but when I sat down in front of the laptop and opened a new file I did not like what I started to see. Fortunately my buddy Matt was online so we were able to chat and I did not have to face myself. After Matt bailed I monkeyed around on the TV and found some shitty Skinemax porn to watch for a bit before I just chucked it up and went to bed. (Please note that chucked it up is not a euphemism for anything dirty there and the shite porn I was watching was Girl with the Sex-Ray Eyes which is a real POS as far as soft-core porn goes. The nice thing is that they did not dub over the fake dirty talk with music.)

Today was spent reading even more comics, surfing the internets a little bit, watching football, and returning some extra cup hooks to Home Depot. The Houston Texans won so I consider it a good football day even if we were stuck watching the Texans beat the Raiders rather than the Colts versus the Patriots, in which the Colts managed to find a way to loose. Right now I have The Replacements playing in the background. I really like the movie and not just on its cinematic merits. Brooke Langton, who plays the Washington Generals head cheerleader Annabelle Farrell, is a stone-cold hottie. Apparently a guy that I did some film work with back about seven years ago knew her cousin or something like that. Sadly the bastard never hooked me up.

Oh well, that looks to be about all the time we have for tonight kids. I cannot promise anything about tomorrow night as it is Scott's birthday and I may be out celebrating too late, but we'll see you on Tuesday. Till then have a good one!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Tuesday, Oct. 30th

Well this weekend was QUITE the weekend. I did not write anything on Saturday because I split the day between sleeping in preparation for my evening activities and catching up on my television watching. Well some of it anyways. Lets face it since I did not have any good sex dreams about co-workers, past or present, the sleeping was not worth writing about and I have to watch how much I write about the TV shows or you cats will get BORED with it and head somewhere else for you hit of jackassery. Besides, all I can really say about the TV this weekend is that Reaper still rocks and Bionic Woman has settled into bare mediocrity. There, we're done with that.

I skipped Sunday because I spent the entire day recovering from the party I went to on Saturday night. I am not certain what to say about the party except that I really phoned it in on the costume front. I wore my suit, a black knit shirt, and a luchadore mask. The scenery was mighty nice and the live music was provided by BRC's Mutaytor. It was quite the show and quite the night. I am glad I went. Even if I spent ALL Sunday recovering.

I have to take a moment to give mad props to Scott for dragging me to the party and then putting up with my D-R-U-N-K ass afterwards. The man could be considered for sainthood if he wasn't a filthy protestant. Oh well, no one is perfect. (You know I am kidding, right?)

Yesterday I did some laundry, hit the grocery store, and dropped some stuff off at Scott's and then lost the evening. I was home at a fairly reasonable time but managed to accomplish absolutely nothing of any substance, which is almost the same story for tonight. Plenty of time to get stuff done. All of it wasted. The thing that is SLIGHTLY different about tonight is that my dad came in to town and took me to dinner. We went to the Riverside Terrace Cafe for dinner where we had the Jalapeno Chicken Wraps, which are jalapenos which have been wrapped in chicken which is then wrapped in bacon and fried. It is almost perfect food as far as I am concerned. We followed that with steaks, which were tasty although mine was a bit dry, and then finished the meal with some peach cobbler. Everything was delicious although I have to say that the service, while very friendly and busty, was rather slow.

In addition to taking me to dinner my dad brought along some belated birthday gifts for me. As a joke I had emailed him and suggested that he buy me this Spitfire. We had a bit of back and forth about whether I would rather have a Mustang in which I told him that I would settle for the Mustang but that the Spit was my first love when it came to warbirds. He told me that were I able to find one for 2 million he would talk to mom. Much to his dismay I then found this Spit on sale for his price. I sent him an email and he has since been teasing me about getting the financing right for my birthday gift. Somehow I knew he was not talking about the 2 million dollar Spit but I suspected that a Spitfire would have something to do with any gift he eventually got me. Well, I was right. He bought me a 1:72 scale pre-assembled model of a Spitfire Mk. V which was the most widely produced version of the plane, a 1:48 scale pre-assembled model of a Spitfire Mk. I, and two Tamiya plastic models in 1:48 scale, a Mk. I and a Mk. Vb. I think I am going to spend some time online looking for instructions needed to make the models more accurate and I am thinking about painting the Mk. Vb in Russian colors. I need to do a little more research to find out if the Spit was ever sent to the Russians. I want to do it as a pure white paint job with the red arrow along the sides. We'll see if I can find something close enough for a match.

Oh well, I have not written for an entire hour tonight but I have managed to screw around for about two and I really need to get to bed. I promise to post more tomorrow.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Really?

I found this result slightly disappointing for some reason.


You are Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
























Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
70%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
70%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
50%
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
45%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
45%
Inara Serra (Companion)
40%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
40%
Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
40%
Alliance
35%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
20%
River (Stowaway)
20%
You are good at fixing things.
You are usually cheerful.
You appreciate being treated
with delicacy and specialness.


Click here to take the Serenity Firefly Personality Test




At least I am hot. I also find it interesting that Nathan Fillion got the same top result and Jewel Staite is Wash. Now with this new found knowledge I am going to spend some time staring at myself in the mirror. Naked.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Friday, Oct. 26th

Well I have been a naughty boy this week and gotten exactly ZERO writing done since my last post. On the plus side I have managed to get more sleep this week than I usually manage to clock AND made it to work early every day this week except for Monday. This week was an excellent week! I slept well every night and despite my lack of posting I do not feel like I wasted too much time. Chatted with Kat for an hour or so on Wednesday night and it was good. I still feel a little weird talking to her and I am unsure what jokes might come off as being passive-aggressive bitchiness and which ones are actually funny, but we're talking and it is nice. I also have had a HUGE weight lifted from my shoulders as the one paralegal whom everyone in the office hates has been reassigned. For close to two years I have been handling her case load and it sucks. She is, to put it nicely, a bitch. She does not know how to treat people with a modicum of professional respect and spends all of her time telling everyone how busy she is. I could go on for days but lets just leave it at I don't have to work on her projects anymore and this change does not reflect poorly on me and move on, shall we? Good.

I spent part of this week reading through the scripts from Star Trek Reborn. Intended to reimagine Star Trek as a occupational drama rather than a straight science fiction piece, Star Trek Reborn was conceived of in 2005 and is a rather interesting take on the Star Trek context.* Rather than being a fan film series or a straight fan fiction series, Star Trek Reborn combines elements of both. There is a reimagined Enterprise courtesy of one Gabriel C. Koerner, who some of you might remember from Trekkies, redesigned uniforms, which actually look pretty tight, and a dream cast of Sean Patrick Flanery (H-town represent!) as Kirk, James Marsters as Spock, and Gary Sinise as Dr. McCoy. The creators of this series then present scripts for our reading pleasure. While I have only completed the first five episodes, so far I am intrigued. I have to say that this certainly feels like Star Trek written for the Smallville set, with more modern and soap opera-esque sensibilities, and it is most assuredly not for those fans who go into spasms over cannon. Other than that it has been a very interesting read and I suggest it to any of you nutjobs out there that need something to do. It is an interesting project and a unique take on the Star Trek mythos.

Since we're on the subject of Star Trek I would like to delve into the Star Trek comics for just a bit. I have been buying all of IDW's recent Star Trek output even though I have yet to really be grabbed by them. Most of them have felt like outlines of Star Trek stories rather than actual Star Trek stories and with the existence of Star Trek New Voyages I find IDW's recent foray into Star Trek Year Four as somewhat giggle-inducing. To being with these books are suffering from the same problems which plagued IDW's previous Star Trek output. To being with the characters are barely recognizable as themselves and this is an art issue rather than a writing issue. If you are going to be telling stories with Kirk et al. then we should be seeing Kirk et al. rather than something that might be them. Artistic license I am willing to let slide, this crap has got to end and fortunately it did in issue #4. On the writing front my only real complaint is that the comics do not feel like complete Star Trek episodes. On the whole episodes issue, I believe this series is intended to be a limited series. From the title one can assume that this is intended to be the fourth season of TOS (The Original Series) and if that is the case then one would think that this series would contain somewhere between twenty and twenty-four "episodes" or issues.

It's funny that I managed to wring a whole paragraph out of that because all of those points, while clearly of some import to me, are peripheral to what I really want to discuss which is that I am tired of metacomentary in my entertainment. We get it already, guys. We can all have a good giggle when Kirk says, "No on threatens my ship - not even the president of the network," as he did in this most recent issue of Star Trek Year Four, but I think in geek centric circles some creators are allowing their desire to inject a little metastory commentary to interfere with delivering interesting stories. This week's episode of Smallville suffered from a bit of the same in that they used the framework of a Warrior Angel movie filming in Smallville to threaten Lana's life and Clark's secret. In the Smallville mythology, the Warrior Angel comic takes the place of our real-world Superman comic and is used as a plot device to provide commentary on Clark's path. The comic has featured prominently in two other episodes and Lex Luthor was a huge fan of the comic during his days of innocence. In the case of Smallville the Warrior Angel metacommentary is generally used fairly well as a device rather than a crutch, but overall I am tired of these sorts of things going on. I think my problem with the Star Trek issue is that the commentary is not even given a somewhat clever veneer and my problem with Smallville is that to a certain extent I am tired of Clark sitting around on his butt in Smallville. It is time to get to work saving the world. I think we are going to see that towards the end of this season as I have a feeling that this is going to be the final season of the show.

And now for something completely different.

I guess it was about two weeks ago that Stephen Colbert announced that he was going to run for President in his home state of South Carolina. The reaction to this has been mixed and I am interested to see what actually comes of his shenanigans, but what made me laugh/cry is this quote in the New York Times poliblog** The Caucus:

However dismissive Mr. Dawson [Katon Dawson, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party] may be about Mr. Colbert's plans, he said that he did not believe the Republicans could stop him from seeking both Republican and Democratic delegates.

"There is nothing in our filing that would prohibit him from running on both ballots, if he chose to pay the filing fees," Mr. Dawson said.

And what is that fee? A steep $35,000, said Mr. Dawson.

"The great thing about America," Mr. Dawson said, "is if you can meet the constitutional requirements to run for president of the United States, you can do so. In Mr. Colbert's case, we look forward to his paying the filing fee before Nov. 1."

Is it just me or can you just see Mr. Dawson leaning back in his fat-cat suit, twisting his moustache, and smiling in a very self-satisfied way as he delivers the last quote? I think what he means to say is that the opportunity is there for those able and willing to pay for it, and quite frankly I find that disgusting. By comparison the fee to be on the Democratic ballot is $2,500 which can be waived if you can collect 3,000 signatures. I do not want to turn this into a Democrat versus Republican thing because I believe it is a more fundamental issue than that, but holy smokes $35,000 is a lot of money.

Oh well, my hour is the Abyss is just about up. We shall see if I can dig anything up to write about on Saturday besides how not awesome my Halloween costume is going to be and all of the TV watching I did today. Till next time, take care!


* For more on Star Trek as a context see this post.

** Its like a poliwog that has no future as a potential prince.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dispatches from the Abyss - Monday, Oct. 22nd

Well I ended up being busy and social until I fell asleep on Saturday and due to unforeseen sleeping complications Sunday ended up being a broken day for me, so it looks like I owe myself a couple hours of writing. I have already taken care of part of that with the posting of my review of The Children of Hurin and here I go to knock out another hour of writing. Have we all got our helmets on? Good then, let us begin.

This weekend was alternately really good and kind of bad. We'll discuss the bad parts first so we can end on a high note. The only bad thing about this weekend, besides the fact that I came home with more beer than I started with AND I did not manage to stay drunk the entire weekend, was the sleeping arrangement. I was put on the futon in the living room. The futon was nice and it was nice to be able to stretch out however sleeping in the living room meant that I had to wait for everyone else to sack out before I could crash AND it meant that any time someone went in to the kitchen they would disturb my slumber. This is honestly not a big deal, although the person who felt the need to get ice water could have shown some common courtesy and skipped the whole ice cracking thing, and avoiding sleeping in a smaller than James sized bed was worth the trade-off. The time this trade-off was not worth it was when, on Sunday morning, one of the girls decided she needed to read her Harry Potter book at six in the fucking morning and to do this she had to turn on the kitchen lights. Since the kitchen, living room, and dining area were all one big space this really meant that she was turning on one third of the lights where I was sleeping. Seriously, what the fuck makes you think this is okay? I could buy the excuse that she did not know I was sleeping in there until I woke up and made some noise except for the fact that according to Nikki and others I am not a quiet sleeper. Even so, we will give her the benefit of the doubt and say that I was ninja-like in my sleep that night. Once she knew that she had woken me up she should have packed up her shit and gone back to her room, or outside, or something and let me get back to sleep. She didn't. Her compromise was to turn off the overhead light in the kitchen and take one of the lamps to the other side of the room. This reduced the ambient light in the room by an insignificant amount and at this point she had been rattling around long enough that it did not matter. I was awake and there was no chance of me getting to sleep again before people starting fucking around. At this point I was so fucking pissed off at the girl that I opted to pack the car and leave rather than stick around and be dickish and snappy at people. Too bad because Scott was doing pancakes and they would have gone down much better than the sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits I had on my way home AND I had wanted to stop at the LSFM Sunday before heading out, but since I was on the road by seven in the morning I did not bother to stop by.

The good parts about this weekend? Pretty much everything else. The house was pretty cool and way the hell down Galveston Island. I think this is the furthest I have driven down the island with the exception of one of mine and Nikki's trips to Galveston (for her birthday if I recall correctly.) I got there much later on Friday than I intended too because of this bitch paralegal and her inability to do shit right, but once I got there the fun began and it did not end until sometime on Sunday. I got to hang out with friends that I do not get to see that often plus some of my friends who I see all the time. Saturday was a fairly lazy day with Heidi cooking super spinachy quiche's for breakfast and then people doing their own thing. I got some reading done in The Children of Hurin, I think I might have taken a nap, waded in the ocean, and just hung out until a group of us decided it was time to go into Galveston proper to visit Col. Bubbie's. Now Col. Bubbie's is a place that childhood dreams are made of. It is a jumbled maze of military surplus items from all over the world. Along side the requisite redneck fashion t-shirts you can find Red Army mess kits from WWII, dress jackets made for the British Army, leather jackets from Italian motorcycle police, de-miled hand grenades, helmets of all sorts, entrenching tools, great coats, boots, caps, ammo pouches, Jerry cans, and anything else you can think of all wrapped in a vaguely musty and moth ball ridden smell. All of this material is thrown together in a haphazard maze which I could happily spend hours exploring.

When I was a kid my mom and some of her college friends used to get together and rent a condo for a long weekend on Galveston during the summer. One of the things I insisted we do each year was to check out Col. Bubbie's. I could spend HOURS in there as a child. I remember two of the things I always wanted from there were a decent pair of combat boots and a tankers helmet with the goofy ear pieces. I never got either, although I did spend some time trying on the tanker's helmets this weekend. If I had found one that fit well enough I totally would have bought it and worn it around the house. Maybe even taken it in to work just to mess with people.

Once we got done with Col. Bubbie's and wandering the Strand a bit we then went to the Mosquito Cafe for lunch. I have heard rave reviews about the Mosquito Cafe but I have to say I was a little disappointed. I had the chicken breast sandwich with bacon and the garlic-herb mayonnaise overwhelmed the flavor of the bacon. The sandwich wasn't bad but it was a chicken sandwich not worth writing home about. Rob raved about his back cheese burger and Scott seemed pretty pleased with his steak sandwich, so I may have just chosen poorly. Also for my side I chose potato salad however what I got was the bastard child of potato salad and coleslaw which, seeing as I pretty much hate coleslaw, is not a good thing. Basically it was coleslaw in which the cabbage had been replaced with potatos and while this substitution made it more tolerable than coleslaw, it was still not potato salad. By definition potato salad involves mustard and onions of some type and as far as I could tell this had neither. After that we hit a grocery store in which I found a very obscenely shaped yam, Wal Mart where we failed to find any kites, and then back to the house.

Once back at the house we continued to fuck off for the rest of the day. I walked the beach and took some photos and just generally chilled for the rest of the day until it was time to sack out. As I said, a rather nice weekend all things considered.

As I indicated in my review of The Children of Hurin I have recently begun frequenting a couple of the Star Trek fan film forums around the internet as well are reading the Trek Movie Report for all my Trek news needs. Now that casting is completed for the full crew, the bitching about the movie has started in earnest. I have mixed it up a little on the boards attempting to point out that as sci-fi fans we ALWAYS bitch and moan about stuff when we hear it but most of us are generally pleased with the result. Just look at Battlestar Galactica. I was one of the legions of fans who harumphed when we heard that the new BSG was going to be a reimaging of the series, even though it was not entirely clear what reimaging meant at the time, and my negativity continued through my viewing of the miniseries. It finally took Don and Rob to convince me the show was worth watching, and they were right. I suspect the new Trek is going to be much the same for people. Of course Trek fans suffer a bit from battered spouse syndrome, no matter how big a pile of crap Paramount puts out, as long as it says Star Trek on it an appreciable number of fans will check it out. (Lets face it, I bet more than one of you out there owns Star Trek V in at least one format.)

So all of the whinging and moaning about the cast and the fact that J.J. Abrams has been going on in full-force for a week or so when I stumble across this gem from an interview with Garfield Reeves-Stevens*:

Remember Star Wars is one long epic story, whereas Star Trek is a context for storytelling. So you have your bubble universe of Deep Space Nine where things are not quite as perfect or you have your pocket universe of Voyager where instead of exploring you are going home. And you can have the rough and ready approach of The Original Series and have the more mature and corporate approach of The Next Generation.

(The full interview can be found here. The emphasis is mine.)

It is really nice to hear someone out there talking sense about Star Trek in this manner, almost as though Star Trek could be considered a sub-genre of science fiction rather than just a science fiction milieu. I wish more fans would take this to heart and stop saying things along the lines of, "JJ's new movie is not going to be real Trek," and the like. Quite frankly it makes them sound like they are religious fanatics of the worst stripe. Can you imagine it? The TOS Crusade followed soon thereafter by the TNG Jihad and DS9 Intifada?

Oh well, that just about does it for this installment. I wish I had something funny to say here, but I don't really. Except to point out that I have done this in the past. Until next time may the Force be with you. Peace out!

SOUNDTRACK
No soundtrack tonight. I found as I was listening to Breaking Benjamin's Phobia I was thinking thoughts about my half-formed Shadowrun fan film series. Perhaps I will dedicate some time this weekend to seeing if I can get some more of the bible written for the series.


* Garfield Reeves-Stevens and his wife Judith are well-respected authors who have a long connection with the Trek franchise, their first novel, Memory Prime coming out in 1988. Their work with Trek continued through assignments as story editors and co-producers for the final season of Enterprise and their latest novel Academy - Collision Course which was co-authored with none other than William Shatner himself. They have a lot of street cred with Trekkies.