Monday, December 29, 2003
Sunday, December 28, 2003
Woke up at 6 to open presents, which took two hours or so. I was happy that the presents I purchased went over well. The Mexican wrestling masks I got my brother-in-law were one highlight. I got themed gifts for him; Mexican wrestling masks, Los Straightjackets CDs (I bought him one on-line, decided it wouldn't come in time for Christmas and bought one from a store, and then got the other one in the mail a few days before Christmas), and a Strong Bad CD, he being a fan of Strong Bad. My sister seemed to enjoy the case of Dr. Pepper from the oldest Dr. Pepper factory in operation. After getting it, I realized it would be a problem for her getting it home, but she was able to get some up with her this trip, and can bring more next time she comes down. I also got her a Dr. Pepper shirt and another Lemony Snicket book. My sister got me the Mighty Wind album (I already have it on CD, so I'll save the vinyl one in mint condition) and Simpsons Hit and Run, which is fun (better than Road Rage, I'd have to say). My mom got me several DVDs, including the Alec Guinness Collection and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I also got Simpsons Jeopardy, which is fun, except that no one can touch me on Simpsons trivia, so no one wants to play with me more than one time. And once you assemble the board, it won't fit back in the box, which is a bit of a problem. I got some CDs (Tom Waits, Texas Tornadoes) and books (Bob Zmuda's book on Andy Kaufman, some Johnny Cash biographies), and other stuff. I did not get the Johnny Cash Unearthed box set, which I didn't ask for, since I knew Mom was about done with her shopping before that even came out, but I was still hoping might turn up. I went to Costco on Friday, but they no longer carried it, which is a shame, since I haven't seen it under $50 anywhere else. I also didn't get the rare edition of The Bad Beginning, nor the Series of Unfortunate Events calendar (which I didn't ask for, but considering my sister ended up getting about eight calendars for Christmas, I thought someone might get me one). But overall, if I wasn't completely thrilled by my gifts, it's because I didn't ask for anything too thrilling. And I did like most of what I got, especially the above-mentioned. After we'd opened everything, I asked Mom if she got everything she wanted. She said yes (liar!), at which point I asked Tanner what he got her, and he told me to look in the front room, so we all went out there, where Mom's last gift was, wrapped in paper bags my brother-in-law decorated for me to look like a packing crate marked "fragile." I got her a desk lamp modeled on the "major award" from A Christmas Story. She had mentioned it at least ten times in the week leading up to Christmas, yet claims she never in a million years dreamed she would get it for Christmas. We all gathered in front of the house to gaze on it glowing at dawn, and it was truly a beautiful sight. So I was happy my gifts went over well.
The rest of Christmas was uneventful. We watched some of the DVDs people got for Christmas, The Ladykillers, as hilarious as I remembered it, and Finding Nemo, which I didn't care for, probably because I dislike the color orange. I think I liked Finding Nemo better the first time I saw it, when my screen saver came on at work. The day after Christmas was when my flu peaked, so I didn't do much of anything. But it did get me out of going to the airport to see off Michelle and Eric, though I guess it wasn't too crowded, since most people spent the weekend wherever they went for Christmas.
Things I've read/watched/listened to lately: The Triplets of Belleville, which I enjoyed very much, though the story was a bit weak at times. The grandma is the focus of the story, but they should have developed the grandson a bit, if the story is going to be driven by events around him. But it hardly matters. Great soundtrack, also. And as the father of an overweight dog, it's nice to see the issue handled on film. The short by Disney and Dali they showed beforehand, Destino, was also interesting. I saw both at MoPA, where I hadn't seen a movie in at least a year, so it was nice to go there again. They have a Film Noir series coming up, so I'm sure I'll be back.
I read two children books recently. The New York Review of Books publishing arm recently republished The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzatti. Wonderful illustrations and a nice story about bears waging war against humans, setting up a enlightened kingdom amonst the humans, and struggling with the corrupting influences of human life. I enjoyed it, but didn't quite touch me as deeply as I thought it might. Some of the verse portions were wonderful, but others were quite awkward, whether from the original source or due to translation I couldn't say. Hyphenating a word to achieve a rhyme seems a bit lazy to me. But it certainly had its charm, and my eyes did well up a bit at the end. Giraffes? Giraffes! on the other hand, was quite a disappointment. The book itself, like pretty much everything McSweeneys puts out, is quite beautiful. The idea, reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book, is clever enough (or perhaps too clever): A fairly insane scientist turning out children's reference books full of outrageous lies. Unfortuately, the sting of random absurdities lacks cohesion, and while occasionally good for a chuckle, overall left me cold. It is obstensibly a children's book, and I think I might have enjoyed it as a child, but speaking for myself, I was disappointed.
Sunday, December 21, 2003
I saw Paul Anka last weekend, at Harrah's. It was actually a fun show, what I imagine a Wayne Newton show would be like, except Paul Anka is talented. It was very tacky, and whenever he would introduce a song by saying, "I wrote this in the '70s," (as if he had to tell us), look out. But he was an enthusiastic performer, and especially the more upbeat numbers were a lot of fun. And I learned that Paul Anka wrote "For Once in my Life," a favorite song of mine. His "duets" with recordings of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. were a little unsettling, but I suppose he has more right to do it than Natalie Cole did, seeing as he did write the songs. And having to listen to "She's Having My Baby" in its entirety, I understand how it was once voted the worst song ever. But I enjoyed myself, and although we were the youngest people there by at least thirty years, I'm used to that kind of thing.
Of course, I was far more excited about seeing the Folksmen than Paul Anka. They were performing at a Dean fundraiser, along with the Bangles and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. The show was at 7, at the House of Blues in West Hollywood. I left around 3, figuring that should be enough time to eat before the show. And if I was running late, I could just skip the meal. Instead, I find myself outside Los Angeles city limits, my clock reading 7:45 and traffic barely moving. I know driving to L.A. is not fun, but its not supposed to take 5 hours. I didn't see an accident or construction or anything, but I was travelling about 10 MPH from Escondido on, with almost no relief. So I ended up turning around and going home (a return trip of one hour fifteen minutes). So that was a big disappointment. But at least Howard Dean got my money.
School is done; the quarter ended up going better than I anticipated, and I hope that next quarter will be the first unqualified success I've had in awhile. I've fallen out of my running habit a bit. I've been getting shorter runs in, but my long runs in preparation for January's half-marathon have been tough to schedule. I had hoped to get an eight-miler in on Saturday, but I was a bit hung over and I hurt a toe, so I decided to forego running. I'm planning on running the eight-miler tomorrow, and if that goes well, I'm confident I'll be able to complete the half-marathon (13.1 miles) reasonably strong. And if it doesn't go well, then maybe a very painful half-marathon in January will teach me to stick to my training regimine more vigilantly.
Friday was our company Christmas party. It was actually for the whole institution, not just the aquarium, but we aquarium folk sort of stuck to ourselves. It was fun, to an extent, but I wasn't in the spirit of either celebrating or getting drunk (though I got drunk anyway). Found the whole thing rather depressing. It didn't take a great deal of prescience to realize this would be a bleak Christmas for our family, and I can feel it beginning to take hold. Probably going to the cemetery on Wednesday (or was it Friday? I already forget) started it. I like going to the cemetery, but I don't like being there. I just like the idea that I am going there, as something to focus my thoughts on. But this time, Mom just walks in and asks if I'm doing anything, or if we can go to the cemetery right now, which sort of throws off my whole rhythm. But it was nice to go with Mom, because I can never find my Dad's parents' graves on my own.
Saturday, December 20, 2003
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Tuesday, December 09, 2003
I have been running fairly regularly. I haven't been as vigilant as I should be, with the San Diego Half-Marathon coming up next month, but overall I'm feeling strong going into the final weeks of training. Ran 7 miles on Saturday in 57:48, an 8'15" pace, and felt good. Seeing as this will be my first half-marathon, and my goals are therefore modest, I have high hopes that the race will go swimmingly. Then I can make a decision about a full marathon in June.
Despite the looming finals (I'll be done with everything tomorrow afternoon), I have got to play my new game systems, the GameCube and GameBoy. As frequent readers will no doubt recall, I purchased the GameCube largely due to the Zelda bonus disc. I've sucessfully completed The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. I must say I was a bit underwhelmed, especially with Zelda II. It is fun to revisit them, but in comparison to the recent Final Fantasy: Origins for the Playstation, it's harder to appreciate them now. The original Zelda, however, is still obviously a trend-setter, with its story and its wide-open game play (I believe at least 80% of the world map is accessible from the beginning, even before obtaining the raft and ladder). A sidequest based on three-card monte teaches kids the folly of gambling, and you are allowed to attack (though not kill) kindly old men in caves (only to be attacked by flames when you do so). I assume I must have used a player's guide, an old issue of Nintendo Power, perhaps, to beat this game initially, since it is not at all obvious where exactly one sould head next. But its amazing after 15 years how many secret passageways and shortcuts I could remember, including which exact tree to scorch to find stairs. Overall, I didn't find the nostalgia enough to make it a fun game to play, and both were quite easy to beat in relatively little time (the final boss in the first Zelda was far too easy, though beating the Dark Link in Zelda II, and in fact the entire final temple, was quite difficult, compared to the rest of the game). I have yet to try the two Super-NES Zelda games on the bonus disc, which I've never played before. The demo of the new GameCube Zelda game was impressive, though I get the feeling the game is a bit too complex for me. But the capabilities of the system are shown off quite well, and I am impressed by the power of the machine for the price.
My GameBoy has also gotten some play. Donkey Kong Country is fun, but mostly I've been playing Wario Ware, Inc.: Mega Microgames. It's very addictive, at least at first, though the novelty has worn off. Basically, it consists of a vast collection of games, each of which can be played in five seconds. The game bumps you from one game to the other, usually with one-word instructions ("climb!" "dodge!" "sniff!"). The difficult part isn't so much the games themselves, as figuring out what it is you're trying to do. Which hurts the replay value a bit. Once you figure out that the object of the game is, say, to hit the a-button to make the cartoon woman sniff up the snot bubble, it's not difficult to do. It's still fun, though, and I must say it's a nice way to kill a half-hour or so, which is, I think, the reason an adult would play with a GameBoy.
What else have I been filling my time with when not studying? I watched Miller's Crossing, which I think means I've now seen every Coen Brothers movie. As enjoyable as any of their films. I've been listening a lot to the two Tiger Lillies CDs I purchased after seeing them in Los Angeles, The Gorey End and Shockheaded Peter. I need to pick up some of their non-theatrical recordings, but I hate paying for international shipping, and the only ones I've been able to find from American sources are so expensive. I just got Paris Combo's Living Room, and what I've heard of that is enjoyable. Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's album still makes me laugh. On the TV front, I've been enjoying Arrested Development, as well as the new Season Two DVD of Strangers With Candy. I haven't been to the movies lately, since for some reason I feel better about staying home and wasting time than leaving the house to do something enriching rather than studying.
I can't help but think that something exciting happened this week that's at least as worthy of note as what I've been listening to. A friend quit his job as a teacher to deliver pizzas. I won about $200 at Viejas. Nothing else of note to share.
Friday, December 05, 2003
Monday, December 01, 2003
Sunday, November 30, 2003
Friday, November 28, 2003
I bought a Gameboy. I bought it in anticipation of buying a GameCube, which can connect to a Gameboy, and then neat things happen, or so I'm told. I like it. I got it at CostCo bundled with Donkey Kong Country, which it turns out is a pretty fun game. I just like the idea of playing old-school Nintendo video games like Super Mario Bros. 3. In fact, one of the neat combos available by owning both a Gameboy and GameCube is, if you finish the GameBoy Metroid game, and hook up to the GameCube Metroid game, you can unlock the original Metroid. So I was playing around with Donkey Kong over Thanksgiving, and today I bought Wario Ware: Mega Microgames, which involves some 200 mini-games which you can play in less than 5 seconds. Weird game, but playing it over my lunch break, it looks addictive.
So, having gotten my Gameboy, it was time to get a GameCube. I was waiting for the Friday after Thanksgiving (today), to see what the deals were. Wal-Mart was $80, Circuit City was $99 with a free memory card, and Best Buy was $99 with a free Nascar video game and free portable CD player. I decided to go with Best Buy. I arrived around 5:40, and the line stretched almost to Parkway Plaza's parking garage (that's a long line). The place was pretty packed by the time I finally got inside, but with much manuvering, I was able to get a GameCube with the Zelda bonus disc (why do they still sell the ones without the Zelda disc, who's going to buy it?). I grabbed the CD player, but couldn't find the game. Eventually, I did confirm that they were sold out of the game, which didn't really make sense, that they would run out of 1/3 of a three-part package. But given the crowd, I was just glad I got a system. I picked up Crazy Taxi for $9.99, and some cheap DVDs. Then I went to get in line, which was no easy feat. Eventually, I'd followed the serpentine line through the entire store to find its end near the entrance. I got in line and settled in for a long wait.
I was somewhat annoyed about not getting the game, wishing I'd gone to Circuit City instead (I don't need a CD player; a memory card I could use), and feeling the pangs of anger one experiences when facing a bait-and-switch (granted, they fully acknowledged that supplies were limited, but it stil struck me odd that they would have portions of the set in stock). But I was understanding, given the magnitute of the crowd, that I wasn't going to get everything I wanted, and was getting a good enough deal on Crazy Taxi and the DVDs to make a two-hour wait reasonable, and I didn't get too worked up by the situation. About thirty minutes later, my mood began to change, when salespeople began wandering the line offering to let people cut ahead if they bought a magazine subscription or Netflix subscription. I thought that was a bit odd, but after another fifteen minutes or so, didn't seem like too bad an idea. So I asked about the Entertainment Weekly subscription, but suddenly, no, you can't cut the line with that offer, you have to sign up for a free trial of MSN. Just cancel when you get home (you always know you're dealing with a top-drawer, fully ethical outfit when they actively encourage you to abuse their promotions). Knowing it was going to be a pain in the ass, I agreed to accept the offer and get out faster. They made a point of calling people's attention to me, the smart guy getting out faster, showing a mastery of timeshare sales techniques (at least if I'd gone to a timeshare presentation, I probably would've gotten a free GameCube). So I got in a line of about five people waiting to sign up for MSN. For ten minutes, the line doesn't move. Then they say the computer is down, but it will only be five minutes or so. Deeply disapproving of their boiler room sales techniques, I got upset about the relatively poor value of the GameCube deal, and also considered whether I really needed the DVDs. Sure, $5 for Young Frankenstein is a great deal, on a movie I'd love to own, but would I really be buying Say Anything and Spaceballs if I wasn't filling my quota for their five for $25 offer? So, long story short, I left my merchendise sitting where I stood, and ended up buying a GameCube, for the full retail price, with no bonuses besides the Zelda disc, at Target. And Best Buy can suck my balls.
I suppose the most notable events of the past week or so revolve around last Saturday. I spent the morning and afternoon in Julian, surveying the fire damage on a class trip. Friends of the professor was kind enough to allow us into their home, and onto their property to witness the effects of the fire. Driving through Cuyamaca, it was shocking, even when you're expecting it, the extent of the damage. There were isolated patches that were spared, but virtually the entire park (at least as visible from the roads) was just black rubble. And of course you pass the empty holes that were once houses, where now only a chimney and a bit of rubble are. It was remarkable that the professor's friends still had a house; two neighbors did not, and trees were burnt less than 50 feet from their house. It was helpful to see the damage, but I could not help feeling like a tresspasser. The people we met were friendly, and unlike the signs I saw on Wildcat Canyon yesterday, no one was pre-emptively asserting the right to shoot looters, I felt that it was not exactly right to go gawk at people's recently incinerated dreams. I'm glad I went, though.
That evening, after driving to Julian and back, I drove to Los Angeles to see Michael Moore. I like his movies unequivicably, and his television shows, especially T.V. Nation, were for the most part spot-on. And I imagine the left needs voices like Moore's. All that said, I must say I had ambivalent feelings about the evening. I should say first that I was over thirty minutes late, having got off the freeway at Wilshire rather than Sunset and getting lost. When I arrived, Moore was just finishing a discussion of Rush Limbaugh's recent problems, which I really wish I had heard. He then tore into Joe Scarburough, essentially claiming that their was substatial evidence he murdered an intern. It seemed like a rather incindiary charge to raise simply to work up a crowd, seeing as a mass rally is not the best place to detail the allegations in detail (perhaps if I'd read his new book already, I'd be more familiar with the matter). Besides, going after someone on MSNBC is like, to quote Triumph, "pooping on poop." He read a chapter from his new book, Dude, Where's My Country, written from the voice of God. Its intent was to lambast the right's claim of divine guidance, yet it came off, if possible, as even more pompous. At least Bush claims his views as those of God; Moore takes personal credit for being right on every issue. And the humor fell flat. I think that's my main complaint; Michael Moore ain't as funny as he used to be. Yes, times are bleak, but that's all the more reason to give the people something to laugh at as you try to mobilize them again the Bush junta.
Other things that bothered me: He should just give up on Clark. Moore sent out an e-mail urging Clark to run, so I think he feels obligated not to immediately abandon him, but let's face it, Clark is a huge disappointment, who has no chance of getting the Democratic nomination unless the party leadership imposes their will on the voters. Also, in discussing Kucinich, Moore mocked him for saying he's in favor of abortion rights yet morally opposed to abortion. He compared that to a candidate who was morally opposed to inter-racial dating. If Moore can't see the difference, he's more out of touch with middle America than most of the politicians and corporate honchos he ridicules.
There were other things that bothered me, but I'm being too negative. I paid almost $30 to see him (the ticket prices were a bone of contention brought up during Q&A; apparently the prices were beyond Moore's control, as it was part of a larger lecture series at UCLA), and so must have been positively inclined towards him. And he did have some good things to say about the war and what needs to be done to mobilize against Bush, and a contest he organized pitting the dumbest Canadian in the audience against the smartest Americans (the Canadian won in a landslide) was funny. But overall, as I said, I think Tucker Carlson actually has a point (God forgive me for saying that) when he says Bush has made the left lose its sense of humor, much like Clinton did to the right. I love Al Franken, but watching him get interviewed makes me squirm sometimes now. I completely understand where he's coming from (except his unconditional love of Clinton), but its frustrating. Laugh! Political satire is supposed to be funny! Bowling for Columbine dealt with horrible facts about our culture, yet didn't lose the comedic elements Moore has always used to help get his message across to mainstream audiences. But I'll shut up now, no need to keep beating up on a good man and a great filmmaker.
Sunday, November 23, 2003
Thursday, November 20, 2003
A Silver-Lining View of George Bush's Not Attending Military Funerals, Lest He Become Associated With Bad News
At least there's no Bush eulogy On Why they had to die. It's better that they're laid to rest Without another lie.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Sunday, November 16, 2003
So I'm at work, and it finally occurs to me, for the first time when I had a computer handy, that I should see when my appointment time to schedule classes for next quarter is. It was Monday. No problem, since nothing I wanted to take is impacted or anything. Unfortunately, there is precious little being offered that I want to take. I found one class that meets MWF at 9:00 AM, and another MWF at 3:00 PM. I can't find anything in between those two, so I guess I'll just have a lot of time to kill between classes (maybe I'll make it to the gym occasionally). There is a class TuTh at 6:30, so I could run after work and then go there. Only the 3:00 class (earth science) advances me directly towards graduation, the other two are literature classes, but offered through literature of the world and cultural studies, respectively, so other than elective credit (which I have in spades), they do me little good. But "Words and their Vicissitudes" sounds interesting in a snooty, "A Way With Words" sort of way (do they still make that show? I don't see it on KPBS' web page...as though I should be shocked to learn of one less locally-produced program on KPBS), and surely "Representing the Economy" will be a hoot. I figure I'll enroll in those three, and hopefully I'll find something to replace "Representing the Economy" by the time January rolls around.
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Last night, I went to a book signing for Don Novello, AKA Father Guido Sarduchi, AKA Lazlo Toth. He has a new Lazlo Letters book out. He spoke about the new book and the origins of Lazlo Toth for about a half-hour. He started writing the letters during Watergate, and took the name Lazlo Toth from the man who attacked the Pieta in the Vatican with a hammer and chisel. One interesting story Novello told, he was scheduled to appear on a morning show, to promote the new book. During the pre-interview, they asked him what he wanted to read from the book, he suggested a letter to Donald Rumsfeld, in which he mentions that there must be 50 ways to leave Afghanistan ("Just take a sled, Achmed," and so on). He was told that they don't joke about such things. Novello suggested he read a letter about soup, instead. The next day he was informed the show decided he was more suited to late-night. Somewhat disturbing the chilling effects of our current political environment on the way even a somewhat insubstantial comedian like Novello is received. When asked what he was working on, he discussed a possible book of photographs, taken of the now-ubiquitous cheap plastic chair, found in such incongruous settings as Kracatowa and the Wailing Wall. Overall, Novello was very funny; a story about being arrested (in full Father Guido garb) in the Vatican was one highlight. I picked up a copy of the book and got it signed. I mentioned one of his letters which appeared in The Believer a few months ago, encouraging the Girl Scouts to sell oysters door-to-door; he said he'd provided the magazine with several letters, so hopefully future issues will feature more Toth.
Then this morning, I went to the post office. Lo and behold, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's new CD, Come Poop With Me, arrived. I haven't listened to the CD, but I watched the included DVD. It's mostly hiliarious. The cavalcade of stars who appear to match wits with Triumph is impressive: The Dell Guy, Jared from Subway, Big Pussy from Sopranos, Conan O'Brien, Kurt Loder. Two really stand out, though: Blackwolf, made famous by Triumph's appearance at the Star Wars premiere, and Horatio Sanz as "Stinky Faye." Blackwolf sings his theme song, to the tune of "The Monster Mash", while Triumph interjects his jabs. Stinky Faye, an ancient comic very much in Triumph's mold, sings about the abomination of modern observational comics, and claims that you have to work blue. This song is funny and crude, but what is most remarkable is that it is truly disturbing, even for this jaded gen-xer. I won't spoil the surprise, but I'll just say his Nixon impression almost made me vomit. Fun times. I haven't even gotten to the CD yet, but just from the DVD I can highly recommend it. And check out his new PETA campaign.
And to switch gears dramatically, I'll remind you the Johnny Cash tribute concert is on CMT tonight.
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Sorry I haven't posted, just trying to get caught up in school. Giving a presentation Wednesday on hunting. I'm finishing up reading Eating Apes tonight; disturbing book.
Monday, November 03, 2003
Sunday, November 02, 2003
Saturday, November 01, 2003
I attended the book signing with Tammy Faye Messner at Current Affairs Bookstore. She spoke for a half-hour or so, and then signed books. She is a wee little thing, as you might imagine, but you get a better impression of her size in person. She just finished filming of The Surreal Life 2," along with Ron Jeremy and Vanilla Ice, among others. Tammy Faye answered questions on a variety of topics, including her health, the PTL scandal, her following in the gay community, and The Surreal Life 2 (why hasn't the first version made it to DVD yet?). No matter the topic, she always effused the positivity and joy that has gotten her through so much hardship in the past, and which makes her both so inspirational and so completely vulnerable to mockery. She repeated the parable she tells about how she got over hating Jerry Falwell, explaining that in olden times, if you murdered someone, they strapped the corpse to you, and that corpse, weighing you down and festering on your back, would eventually kill you. She did add that she had it particularly bad, as her corpse was 250 pounds. In a question about The Surreal Life, one person mentioned how M.C. Hammer's role in the first series turned out to be an unusual pulpit which Hammer put to good use. When asked if she had any similar opportunities, she nodded energetically, but wouldn't comment beyond saying, "You'll have to watch."
After she had spoken for a half-hour or so, she took her seat inside, and we lined up to get her autograph. Even though we ended up near the end of the line, it didn't seem like too long a wait. My mom got her copy signed for Michelle, for a Christmas present, and got her photo taken with her. Then it was my turn to get my book signed, give her a hug, and get my picture taken. Meeting her, you realize just what a nice person she is, a little bundle of positivity. You can't help liking her. I, like most people, had written off Tammy Faye as nothing more than a tired punch-line, but after seeing The Eyes of Tammy Faye, one of the best documentaries I've seen in recent years, I realized that it was more complicated than that. Her husband was a crook, I believe, no matter what she says; but you have to appreciate the fact that she herself believes in his innocence with all her heart. And yes, its hard not to make fun of her, but she understands that, and on some level is in on the joke, too. It is odd, though, that I can go to an event like this, as a non-believer looking for a laugh, and get that laugh, and yet find the whole thing inspirational on some level, too.
Friday, October 31, 2003
Thursday, October 30, 2003
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
I went to L.A. last night to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies. It was odd going to Los Angeles for fresh air, but it was nice to be able to breathe freely for awhile. They of course have their own problems at the moment, but the air quality didn't seem to be the issue it is down here. The show was at Royce Hall, which is a neat building, a nice place to see a concert. I had a pretty good seat near the center in the balcony. The first half featured the two acts doing solo sets. The Kronos Quartet were good, the Tiger Lillies were great. After intermission, the two groups took the stage together to perfrom The Gorey End. Based on works by Edward Gorey, I was expecting more of a visual aspect to the performance, drawings by Gorey projected onto a screen or something. I didn't get that (it turns out the writings Gorey had given to Martyn Jacques were not illustrated) , but was not at all disappointed by the evening. Even without many visuals, the story of the various tragedies to befall the Hipdeep family were still made vivid. And the spirit of Gorey was clear in every song. "ABC" followed a similar structure to "The Gashlycrumb Tinies," as did "Histoire de Kay." "Dreadful Domesticity" was perhaps the most bluntly dark song of the evening, as a married couple of a dozen years realizes "They have exhausted all the other/Revenges for existing wrongs," and proceeds to beat each other into a single pile of pulp. I think "Weeping Chandelier" and "Trampled Lilly" were my personal favorites, both especially well-suited by Jacques' distinctive voice. Overall, a great show; I'd highly recommend the album.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Monday, October 27, 2003
Sunday, October 26, 2003
School's have been cancelled in San Diego, and the Mayor is calling on all non-essential employees to stay home, so I assume UCSD will be closed. So I guess tomorrow I can stay planted in front of the TV all day. The weather isn't supposed to give us a break, and after its jumped the I-15 and the 52, who's to say how much this could spread. If an ember were to set off something in Rose Canyon, say, this could get really ugly.
Which stinks, for the people who have lost their homes, of course, but in a more petty (at yet for me more important) way, for me. I've been sick for awhile now. Thursday and Friday were the worst, but I've been sick enough that I haven't been running since the Thursday before last. I can't recall if I mentioned my unpleasant run around Lake Murray and the gastrointestinal distress that accompanied it, but lets just say it wasn't fun. I missed the Chancellor's Challenge 5K, which I've been looking forward to for some time, and which may in fact be the final event in the series, due to the Chancellor's departure. And I feel myself growing sluggish and gaining weight, when I should be beginning serious training for the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. So today, having felt better yesterday, I was to return to running, but the heat and smoke have cancelled that plan. Tomorrow is supposed to be worse heat-wise, which means it will probably still be bad smoke-wise. Perhaps I'll head to the Kroc Center for some treadmill running.
A volunteer just informed me they are evacuating Mira Mesa due to the Ramona fire. I-15 closed, bumper-to-bumper traffic. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised; the wind blowing the smoke should be doing the same for the flames. The Alpine fire two years ago was pretty bad, but I don't remember anything this wide-spread and with such a horrendous effect on the air quality. I also don't remember, in previous fires that have destroyed houses, hearing talk about hundreds of homes lost, as were in the L.A. County fires. And as I was typing this, I hear even more news of the Ramona fire, which I guess I should now call the Scripps Ranch fire, growing even more, and half our fire department is helping in Los Angeles. It's pretty bad.
But I digress. Haven't posted much lately, because not much to share. Been sick, missed a fair amount of school; not my best academic quarter, I think I've admitted as much here before. But I think I'll do respectably well. Saw Comedy of Errors at the La Jolla Playhouse, would have enjoyed it very much, I think, had I been feeling better. My birthday is Tuesday; looking forward to seeing the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lilies in Los Angeles that day. I pre-ordered Final Fantasy XI for the PC, as a birthday present for my mother to give me, but then cancelled it, because I'm afraid it might not run on my PC. So I've just been playing Final Fantasy X instead. Not the best in the series, but I enjoy it. Will purchase Final Fantasy X-2, I'm sure, though maybe I'll play through the early games in the series while I wait for the price to fall. Of course, with the amount of time I waste already, should I really be playing video games? I've put off buying the Simpsons Hit-and-Run until the quarter's over, both to avoid the distraction and in the hope that the price might come down by then (though I doubt it will before the holidays).
Thursday, October 23, 2003
Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Also, my right arm hurts badly. Today not as bad, but yesterday I could barely lift it without a sharp pain in what I think is my tricep. I can feel a sort of knot, which I can't locate on the other side, which is a sure sign it ain't supposed to be there. I don't know what I did; I lifted a box not too long before it started hurting, but it wasn't that heavy. So basically, I'm just falling apart.
As long as I'm posting, I should just comment on a few random things I haven't bothered to post yet. Saw Intolerable Cruelty; not the Coen's best, probably because they didn't write it, but I enjoyed it very much all the same. Great moments, but just lacking a bit in cohesion, so as to not be as strong as the sum of its parts. School ain't going too hot; I've focused all my energies (such as they are) into the one class I care about, and just let the rest fall apart. It's a bit frustrating, since I'm on the one had eager to finally wrap this long educational saga up, yet I barely seem to be advancing at all, and then there's the whole Latin situation, which I won't go into. Cecily's getting married, which is surprising to say the least. The guy looks a bit gumpy from what I've seen on the website, and by my math, I figure they couldn't have been dating more than six months, but who am I to judge? She seems suited for live in Merced. Dad's birthday was 10/8, the Wednesday before last. I went to the cemetary on a whim and hung out at his grave about thirty minutes, and yet didn't realize until far later in the day that it was his birthday, felt a bit unobservant, seeing as the date was written right on the marker and all. 10/11 was the anniversary of him first getting sick, out in Boston. 10/28 is my birthday, I'm going to see the Kronos Quartet and the Tiger Lillies in a performance based on some unpublished work by Edward Gorey. Also on my birthday, Final Fantasy XI comes out for the PC. The Playstation version won't be out until about February, because that's when the required hardware to make it compatible for the Playstation comes out. I broke down and pre-ordered the PC version, my mom is making it a birthday present for me. I hate the idea of paying $50 (actually, $40 with a rebate) for a game that requires a subscription fee, but considering I purchased a Playstation and later a Playstation 2 solely to play Final Fantasy, why pass up a shot to try the first massively multi-player version? I'm eager to go to Vegas again, even though I'd have to say I only had a mildly good time last trip, and I'm not sure how I can really get away in November, but I think if I leave on a Wednesday after class, I could stay for the weekend and just miss class on Friday. I haven't decided if its really a good idea or not, though. Free room offer from Green Valley Ranch, my favorite Las Vegas (actually, Henderson) hotel, with a $50 dining credit, which should go a long way in their new Sushi restaurant, if I'm dining alone. Stay their Wednesday/Thursday, then move to the strip or downtown for the weekend. Go alone, or see if Chad can skip out on work. I believe he's going Thanksgiving weekend, but I'd feel bad leaving Mom that weekend. Mom's wrist still bothering her, rather ridiculous she hasn't been to a doctor about it.
Sunday, October 19, 2003
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Thursday, October 16, 2003
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Sunday, October 12, 2003
Friday, October 10, 2003
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Tuesday, October 07, 2003
Aw, who cares. Governor Schwarzenegger? What the hell?
Monday was an odd day. I just felt very out of sorts and disoriented, like I was in some sort of haze. In one class, I managed to knock over my coffee cup three times, and also get caught on my desk, creating quite a bit of disruption. Then in another class, I was asked my opinion of something we'd just read, and found I couldn't remember a word of it. I ended up going to bed early, and getting a good night's sleep, and feel better now. So maybe it was just sleep deprivation.
Have I mentioned that I've enjoyed watching The Joe Schmo Show? God help me...
Sunday, October 05, 2003
Saturday, I intended to study, but instead ended up playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City all day. It is a guilty pleasure, to be sure; destroying SUVs (well, its set in the '80s, so I guess they aren't really SUVs) and whatnot. I gathered quite an arsenel, beating up cops and taking their weapons right outside my apartment. All you have to do is duck into your apartment and change clothes, and then the cops won't recognize you. So, you see, not only is it fun, but it teaches kids a valuable lesson.
Later in the evening, I went to Madstone Theatres to see Ping-Pong, part of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Though it was somewhat difficult to take seriously at times, due to a lack of respect for a game I am usually drunk when I play, the film was able to overcome this (without trying), due to its tenderly humorous story. In fact, not only...I'm trying to phrase it differently, because saying the film "overcame" my preconceptions of ping-pong is a bit patronizingly ethnocentric...but not only was I able to get beyond my narrow notions of the game, but I found it one of the best sports movies I've ever seen. Certainly blew Seabiscuit out of the water. I believe it is available on a region-less DVD; I highly recommend it.
Thursday, October 02, 2003
Point One: I was at the post office the other day, and passing by the pawn shop next door, and there was a sign in the pawn shop firmly requesting that you turn off your cell phone. Cell phones, I grant, are highly annoying; one should definately turn them off in a movie theater or during any presentation, and when dining in a fine restaurant, or in a library, or anytime common sence dictates. But whenever I find myself complaining about cell phones, I do not find myself lamenting how the rise of cell phone has stripped pawn shops of their charm. Are we to whistfully reminisce about a time, long ago, when one could step into their friendly neighborhood pawn shop with a VCR and get $20 to buy smack, and not have this very special moment, one of life's few remaining simple pleasures, spoiled by the piercing ring of a cell phone? I am considerate in my use of my cell phone, but come on, people, do we really need all these rules? Half the people at the pawn shop are probably raising money to pay their cell phone bill, be grateful they exist, pawn shop owner.
Point two: Why are the slowest drivers also the most unsafe? I find myself, more and more, stuck behind people driving less than twenty MPH on city streets, and sometimes I feel guilty getting impatient, since I was speeding before they came along, and so aren't I the menace on the road? Yet I've noticed that it is these slow, apparently concientious drivers who do the truly stupid things. They may be driving slow on the open stretches, but they also go through the intersections at the same speed, stop signs be damned. Today some asshole going about fifteen MPH right in front of me, missed a red light (meaning, of course, that I did too), and preceded to run it, cutting off the person who had the green. I think more people need to get tickets for going too slowly, maybe then a paper trail will emerge to strip a few of the elderly of their licences. I should be fair, it's not just the elderly; the guy who ran the light looked to be about thirty. I used to enjoy driving, but good God it's gotten stressful lately.
I'm watching CMT (which is no longer carrying the Grand Ole Opry--what the fuck?!), and just saw the new June Carter Cash video. Am I a horrible person if I observe she should have stuck to singing backups?
Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Before dinner, I went running with the group I was training with for last weekend's 10K. I didn't think many of us would still be running with the group now that the race was over, but there were at least ten of us. I've always said I view training as a solitary pursuit, but I must admit one or two group runs a week really helps break up the monotomy and keep you motivated. I've agreed to run with a few of them in the San Diego Half-Marathon in January. My original goal, you might remember, was the Silver Strand Half-Marathon in November. I cancelled that due to my knee problems, which now have gone away completely. I considered calling it back on, but I think the January goal, with the training support of my friends from the group, is probably for the best.
School is off to a good start. Oceanography can be a bit dull, but as science goes, is pretty gripping stuff. Revolutionary-era American Literature is also a tad dull, but doesn't seem particularly challenging. Nature Writing is the only class that really interests me.
Did I ever mention I saw Lost in Translation the other day? I enjoyed it. Bill Murray is a genius.
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Monday, September 29, 2003
Getting up early for that and just generally being fatigued, I decided not to drive up to L.A., which is a good thing, because by midnight last night I could barely keep my eyes open. Incidentally, I also never made it to the Adams Avenue Street Fair, which is a shame, since I always enjoy that. Oh, and its only the second day of school and I've already ditched a class, Oceanography. Overslept, though I could have still made it on time. But decided not to bother. Just sat in my car and listened to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band whilst I read the Declaration of Independence for the class I am heading to as soon as I finish this sentence.
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Actually, I see they have a lot of new games about the new book.
Friday, September 26, 2003
After the run, I rushed home to change and then was off to the White Stripes concert. I enjoyed it okay, though I was tired, and by the time I got there, late in the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' set, the place was pretty full up. I found a nice place to stand in the back, where I could lean on a rail and keep the weight off my knee. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs didn't do much for me, but the White Stripes put on a good show, played everything you'd expect. Meg White sung "In the Cold, Cold Night," and was a bit too perky, I thought, but was impressed with the strength of her voice more so than on the album. "Joleen" and "The Hardest Button to Button" were probably the highlights of the evening. All in all, a good time was had by all. I also enjoyed the cartoons played between sets, Little Lulu, Betty Boop and whatnot.
Today was the first day of school. Ocean Science seems a bit dull, but hopefully not particularly challenging, if I do the reading. Revolutionary War-Era Literature will be dull as dishwater, no doubt, but at least, due to a change in instructors, the reading burden seems somewhat lighter than the original book list suggested. Nature Writing, the one class I'm taking that will not advance me towards graduation in the slightest, if I remember correctly, looks to be the one bright spot in my schedule. An eclectic reading list, including Edward Abbey, whom I've meant to read for some time.
So anyway, the first day of school wasn't terribly exciting, but it seems like this is a good quarter to really boost that GPA, and work on that concept of eventually graduating. You never know...
Lots of stuff going on this weekend. Adams Avenue Street Fair is this weekend. I hope to make it for a few hours on Saturday. There's a concert in Los Angeles Sunday night at the Bigfoot Lodge, three theremin bands, including Project: Pimento. I don't think I'm going to go, but if I have the energy, I might make the drive. Should be a fun time. But I have a feeling trying to make it will be too stressful for me to be in the mood to enjoy lounge music. But we shall see.
Thursday, September 25, 2003
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
Had to take Mom shopping, since she can't lift things or drive. I was going to get myself put on her CostCo card in replacement of Dad, but they had some computer problem so I need to come back another day. I bought A Mighty Wind on DVD, and also The Slippery Slope. I'd pre-ordered it on Amazon, but the other things I pre-ordered don't ship until the 30th, so I was able to buy it at CostCo for $6.99 and cancel my Amazon order. All after I got the PDF file of Chapter One for pre-ordering on Amazon. Really played them for a bunch of rubes.
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
I was slightly miffed to realize I accidentally bought the pan-and-scan DVD, instead of widescreen. Not the end of the world, but I've always watched the pan-and-scan version as a kid, and I'd like to see the widescreen shots of the factory.
Monday, September 22, 2003
My knee is slowly improving. I've cut back on my running, and today I bought new shoes (New Balance 765), so hopefully rest and a better-fitting shoe will solve the problem. Figure I'll try to run four miles tomorrow and see how that goes. Of course, focusing on the knee pain, I've been distracted from the fact that I'm running in a 10K this weekend. Seeing as I'm not really in shape to set a PR, I'm just hoping to hold a nice 8 minute pace, which would give me a time of 49:42, quite a bit off my 45:47 PR, but that's okay. I think I'm more interested in running farther than faster, anyway. Incidentally, due to my knee, I think I'm putting off my first half-marathon; I had hoped to run it in November, now I'm thinking January is more realistic.
Had a few drinks with a friend of mine last night. The bar had Monopoly pinball. I hadn't played Monopoly in awhile (most of my pinball efforts of late have been directed at Simpsons Pinball Party), and wasn't sure how good I'd do. When my first two balls drained in record time, I was really worried. But I came back to win a free game, and ended up beating my friend 4-1, by a margin of about 30,000,000 points. Not bad at all.
Friday, September 19, 2003
While I was buying her splint, I bought a thing to put on my knee. Thursday morning, my knee was rather swollen. A combination of ice and pressure seems to have helped, however.
I finally decided to do something about the DVDs threatening to take over my bedroom, and bought a few of those CD/DVD holder portfolio things. I spent an exciting Friday night alphabetizing my DVDs and transferring them into the folders. Now all I need to do is box up the boxes and put them in storage.
Wednesday, September 17, 2003
Earlier in the evening, I went running with my running group. I got a decent run in again, though I did have a bit of knee pain. Afterwards, the pain in the knee was more noticable, though not severe. So I guess I'll have to stop running again until this weekend, and then see if I still have pain. I guess a trip to the doctor would be next, so let's hope that's not necessary.
Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Monday, September 15, 2003
Sunday, September 14, 2003
The Lost World is on TV. I've just been watching a little bit, but I totally recognize where they filmed it from my recent trip. Fern Canyon is a great place to film such a movie.
Saturday, September 13, 2003
I've listened to The Wind a few times and enjoyed it very much. As one review I'm sure I've linked to below said, how can you be objective when he hasn't been dead a week yet? But it really good, and surprising how "small" it can be at times, in a good way. Death, while ever present, isn't some boulder ready to fall and crush the whole thing in any moment. On Monday, I made a point of staying near my hotel room, so I could watch Letterman; he had some nice things to say about Zevon, and they closed the show with Zevon's performance of "Mutineer" from his last appearance on Letterman, his last public performance, I believe.
Now I've been watching CMT's Johnny Cash tribute programming. A nice, short concert he gave in a Nashville prison in the '70s, his "Inside Fame" (their version of Behind the Music), and a tribute program CMT put together. They premiered June Carter Cash's new video, which was nice to see, Johnny and her looking like they were having fun making music together until the end. I suppose neither Zevon's nor Cash's passing can be called a surprise, but I think especially in Cash's case, it really is a surprise. I for one never really appreciated just how huge Johnny Cash was, and just how huge the loss is. We still have his music, and our memories of him, but especially with a man who was as prolific as Cash in his final years, it's very hard to let go.
The Grand Ole Opry is having a tribute to Roy Acuff tonight, which I just stumbled upon watching the Johnny Cash programming. He would have been 100 years old tomorrow. As I type this, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band are taking the stage. So I'm glad I stumbled onto this.
Friday, September 12, 2003
Thursday, September 11, 2003
Monday, September 08, 2003
Now I'm depressed. I wish I could watch the VH-1 special again before I leave, but I do have to hit the road. I'm not as excited as I usually am before a Vegas trip. It feels like an obligation, like I know how much I enjoy Vegas, so God damn it, enjoy this trip! I'm bringing less money than I usually do, but it still seems like an obscene amount to gamble away. I think I'm trying to impose some sense of stability in my life, saying some things may change, but I'm a gambler, and always will be. Maybe I'll take Double Down with me, re-reading it in Vegas on my first trip since my father's death seems appropriate.
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Finished A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. I enjoyed it very much. I had a lot of preconceived notions going in, and was surpised by the tender emotion found within the clever self-consciousness and other post-modern artifacts. It really is an amazing accomplishment.
Friday, September 05, 2003
Got some good runs in this week. A nice fast four-miler Wednesday, a slower five-miler on Thursday. A blister, a souvenier from my vacation, began bothering me near the end of that run. I had planned to go to the gym or something today, but its just too hot to do anything. Tomorrow I'm getting a check-up, and I have to fast for 12 hours beforehand. My appointment is in the morning, though, so it's not too bad.
Read the first chapter of The Slippery Slope. Looks good.
Got Al Franken's new book in the mail today. Will have to finish A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius before I start that, though. I'm enjoying Eggar's book.