Friday, January 28, 2005

Son of the Mask

This really looks like it sucks, from what I can see in the trailers. And if the trailer looks bad, God help the picture. To tell the truth, I'm not that big a fan of the first movie, either, mainly because I was a fan of the comic upon which the movie was based. The comic had a really simple concept: a Warner Brothers-style cartoon character in the real world. So the Mask battles gangsters by producing things like anvils and ridiculous-looking machine guns out of thin air; when you shoot him, he gets holes that don't slow him down one bit, and when you drop him off a tall building, he flattens out momentarily, but then snaps back to his normal self. The goons he fights (and later, the cops he fights as well, once he becomes wanted for murder) aren't so lucky. The Mask was a bloody comic with an extraordinarily high body count, one that combined grim and silly in a really unique way. The movie, by miscasting Jim Carrey as the lead character (yes, I said miscast - I seem to be the only guy on Earth who thinks he was miscast, just as I'm the only guy I know who thinks Jack Nicholson was miscast as the Joker in Batman), threw away half of the equation. It made lots of money, but it was a pale, hollow imitation of the comic. And it looks like the sequel will play up all the aspects in which the movie departed from its source material.

Nevertheless, my daughter is anxious to see it, which means I'll probably see it at some point in the near future.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Monday Night

So I was supposed to meet a couple of writer friends last night for drinks and BS, but they begged off. One said he wasn't feeling well. Then The Wife came home sniffling with a bag full of cold remedies, and I realized I didn't feel that great either. So I did something I haven't done in a long damn time.

I stayed home on a Monday evening.

I'm worried about the consequences. The Wife has been known to seize upon precedents such as this to convince me to do things like it again, and I can't let that happen. I need my Monday's away from Casa Estrogen. You have no idea. So the guys and I are meeting up next Monday, and I may just have to double up. Stay out extra late and get extra cigar-stinky.

I can't wait.

Friday, January 21, 2005


I read Lileks sometimes, and I get jealous. His daughter is about the same age as mine, but his seems to be much more intellectually curious about the world, almost superhumanly smart. Maybe it's just the way he writes her.

What The Girl is good at is memorization. We'll be driving along and she'll start busting out with commercial copy and promos. "Dragontales is brought to you by a grant from the Ford Foundation and by Viewers Like You. Thank you!"

One night, she was asking to do something (I forget what). The Wife said it was too close to bedtime; maybe tomorrow. "Tomorrow?" The Girl asked, horrified.

At which point, Macbeth leapt into my head. "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in its petty pace from day to day..." I said.

And without missing a beat, The Girl says, "And all our yesterdays have lighted fools..." and trails off. I started freaking out, because although my grasp of the soliloquy is weak, that sounded really familiar. So I looked it up online, and sure enough, that line comes just a little later in the speech. I tell my wife, and we're racking our brains trying to figure out where she heard this, because they sure don't quote Shakespeare on Dora the Explorer or Ed, Edd and Eddy.

Finally, The Wife figures it out. In the Disney movie Oliver & Co., one of the dogs, Francis the bulldog, who fancies himself an actor, is watching Macbeth on a television set. There's a small cut of the soliloquy, with characters speaking over the actor (which explains the gaps in the words she knows). It's throwaway background action, but she memorized it just the same. Scary, scary sponge-mind, she has.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Rejection Letter

I submitted a short story to an Australian anthology. They sent me a rejection letter today, saying that my story didn't make the cut for this anthology, but that they might consider it for a follow-up anthology they'll do later this year. Part of me is excited and part is suspicious, The rejection is basically a form letter; deep down, I wonder if they sent every applicant the same form letter. I doubt it, but I'm not the most self-confident of men. We'll see what happens in a few months, I guess.

UPDATE: I read the email again and noticed something I didn't before. They included a personalized P.S. So I feel better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Remaking Dr. No

Wow, busy weekend. Let me catch my breath.

So many things I wanted to write about, and never found the time to get online and compose. Here's one: they had a James Bond marathon on Encore over the weekend, so I watched some of it. Saturday, I saw bits of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," "Diamonds Are Forever," and "Live and Let Die." Sunday was just a bit of "Dr. No." As we're watching, my coworker Trav tells me he thinks Pierce Brosnan makes a decent Bond, but he can't stand the Bond movies Brosnan has made. They've strayed from the classic Bond formula. Why not just remake the classic old Bonds, since it seems like half of all Hollywood product now is a remake?

Which got me thinking about "Dr. No." It's the first of the Bond features, and it shows. In one spot, an assassin tries to kill Bond by setting a tarantula loose in his room. Bond kills it with his shoe. Suspenseful, I guess, but blah. Later, there's a brief car chase, a couple of cars careening down curvy dirt roads (with cheesy tires-screeching-on-asphalt sound effects and no music). Bond manages to squeeze his little car past a crane that's clearing debris of some sort; his pursuers aren't so lucky and plunge off the cliff to their doom.

If that had been made in the 70's rather than the 60's, the car chase would have been a real action setpiece with spectacular stunts heralded by the rousing Bond theme, and Bond would have found some clever way to dispatch the spider. It would have been seriously cool.

If it were remade today, the car chase would probably feature something like 20 cars chasing Bond, and the tarantula sequence would have Bond fighting something like 50 CG tarantulas, all running and leaping flat-out, doing kung-fu in bullet time while Bond kills them by flinging toothpicks or something.

I really hope they don't remake any more Bond movies.

Thursday, January 13, 2005


I've been on eBay recently, shopping for a PDA and maybe some workout tapes. It's easy to see why eBay has succeeded so well. Beyond the concept of making money off your old junk and finding great items at low, low prices, there's something just addictive about the process. Browsing through all the junk and finding the one nugget that appeals to you; finally deciding to bid and coming up with the price you're willing to pay; fantasizing about all the cool stuff you'll do with your new treasure.

And then there's the adrenaline spike when you actually place your bid and find yourself immediately outbid by someone who had a higher standing bid than you. The process of deciding to bid is almost like taking ownership of the item in your mind; when you're outbid, you immediately want to strike back, bid higher, take back what is rightfully yours. It's a fever, like gambling, thrilling when things go your way, infuriating when they don't.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


Today is one of those miserable days, weather-wise. It's been foggy and damp all day. Driving home from work, I had to clean my windshiled three or four times of a layer of dried grime that seemed to accumulate drop by drop without the windshield ever really getting wet. It's just depressing and gray, everywhere you look.

On the other hand, it's January and even with the fog, the temperature is in the mid-60's, so what am I bitching about?

Monday, January 10, 2005


I watched "The Surreal Life" on VH-1 last night. It was scary and depressing yet ypnotic. See Chyna (formerly of the WWE, formerly the WWF) stumble drunkenly around the house with one nip hanging out of her bikini top! See Da Brat throw a fit because she's sharing a house with Peter Brady, when she'd been promised there wouldn't be any has-beens in the house! See Mini-Me drool like a 12-year-old as he eats sushi off the nude body of Adrianne Curry! See Chyna snore like a chainsaw! See a nude, drunk Verne Troyer piss in the corner! It's voyeuristic and sad, but compelling television, nonetheless.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Scary Coincidence

Wednesday night, I taped Lost, and finally got around to watching it tonight. The show is about the survivors of a plane crash stranded on an island in the Pacific, one of the subplots of Wednesday's episode is that powerful waves begin washing further up the beach, threatening to overrun their camp. Keep in mind that this episode was written and shot long before the tsunami incidents over New Year's wekend, so it's just a coincidence. However, earlier in the series, a character reads a comic book about a polar bear, and later, other members of the cast encounter a real polar. Art creating reality?

Cue Twilight Zone theme...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Frozen Shut

It was ridiculously cold this morning, so I ran out to let my car warm up a little before heading for work. I know, I know, I'm just asking to have my car stolen. As it happens, my car was frozen shut, so I barely got the door open in time to leave for work. Theft problem solved.

My car is a little Mazda Miata (a black 1990 Limited Edition with red leather interior that The Wife has dubbed "The Batmobile," but that The Girl has renamed "Speedy," although it isn't, really) that I have not yet wintered with, so I hadn't encountered this particular problem with it before. The door latch is a little capsule of metal that does not afford much purchase for yanking on. I tried the driver's side, and then tried the passenger side. The passenger side felt like it unlatched, but the door wouldn't budge, so I gave up and went inside to get some hot water. It took two attempts, but I got the driver's side door to budge just enough to get my fingers around the edge of the door, and then I pulled it open. I got in and started driving.

After about five minutes on the road, the car had thawed enough that the Door Ajar buzzer started going. Apparently, I had unlatched the passenger's side door earlier, and it hadn't latched back. Unfortunately, it started just at the moment I was entering the freeway; there's about a five-mile stretch that is nothing but freeway merges and river crossing, with no really handy exits for pulling over and doing the Chinese Fire Drill thing. I just kept driving, hoping the door wouldn't fly open before I could fix it.

So finally, I get pulled over, open and shut the passenger door, run back to the driver's side. My door doesn't want to shut on the first try, but it catches on the second. The buzzer is still going, and I'm running late. No time to stop for breakfast at QT.

I drive the rest of the way to work with that idiot, buzzing whine cutting at my ears like a dentist's drill. While I'm waiting at the last intersection before my building, I try opening and shutting the door on my side again. The buzzer stops. I finally get to work cold and hungry, with my ears still ringing.

I feel better now. Thanks for asking. And no, I'm not looking forward to driving the Batmobile on snow.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Happy Meal

So OU played USC in the Orange Bowl last night for the national championship, and for the second year in a row, OU choked and got crushed. It was win/win for me, because I'm from Oklahoma, but I attended USC. I felt bad for The Wife, though.

The Girl and I went to McDonalds for lunch before I took her to school yesterday. I got her a Happy Meal, and while we were eating, I started looking over the bag. This blurb caught my eye: "Well-being messaging provided by Baylor College of Medicine." Is this the clumsiest wording ever, or what? It's not "health information." God help us, it's not even "wellness information." No, what's included on the bag does not rise to the level of "information." The are three blurbs on the bag; two basically say, "Apples: good," and the third says, "Milk: good." Why apples and milk? Because those are the healthier options available for kids' meals at McDonalds. This is targeted well-being messaging, you see.

How much did they pay the Baylor College of Medicine for that, and how can I get the job?

And in sad news, Will Eisner died. Most fans will remember him for The Spirit, or for his pioneering graphic novels. I remember him for those, but also for PS, a monthly magazine released to the Army, in which equipment maintenance tips are parceled out in comic book form. Eisner helped launch the mag in the 1951, and it's still going strong. So remember: never use shaving cream to clean your M-16, and raise a glass to Will Eisner, one of the true pioneers of American comics.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

New Year

Yeah, it's the 4th, so I figured I'd talk about New Year's now that the suckers have cleared out. Of course, I worked on New Year's Day, so as I said before, I went to bed earlyon New Year's Eve. Turns out there were fireworks going off, I just slept through them, mainly because they weren't on this block. The Wife says it sounded like Beirut a couple of blocks over, though (I started to write "Baghdad" but changed my mind - seemed in bad taste somehow - odd, isn't it?). I apparently just slept through it all because I was just dead tired.

My sleep patterns could use some improvement. The Wife works several evenings a week, so I stay home and take care of The Girl. If I were to go to bed in time to get eight hours of sleep, I'd have to be in bed literally at the moment The Wife usually walks in the door. "Hi, how was your day, here's The Girl, goodnight." Since I'm up and out the door long before The Wife gets up in the morning, that means we would literally not see each other more than a few minutes for two full days out of the week (more like three, really). Which would leave me no excuse to go out and do guy things on Saturday afternoons and Monday evenings, which right now is the only thing keeping me sane, living here in Casa Estrogen (for the record, I live with The Girl, The Wife, The Mother-in-Law, and The Grandmother-in-Law, along with three dogs, all female, and one cat, male, who never leaves his room). So no sleep for Frazier during the week.

January is a frustrating time. Lileks had some interesting observations about January the other day. My own frustration stems from the fact that November and December have yielded so much free time at work. I usually have tons of unspent vacation left by December, which I unload in a big lump in the middle of the month. Add to that three holiday weekends, which means the station is mostly deserted and peaceful, and the extra football, which is low-stress, low maintenance programming, and the time from Thanksgiving to New Year's is an easy coast.

Now it's January, no holidays coming up, no large blocs of unspent vacation to give me oodles of free time. Just a vista of unbroken work stretching from now through, what, May? Bleh.

Speaking of Lileks, his blog partially inspired this one. That and the fact that I wnted the discipline of having to write every day (or almost). So what does Lileks go and do? He starts a parallel blog, about matchbooks. It's entertaining, but hell, where does he get the energy?

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Roleplaying Nightmares

I'm not sure why I decided to look these up again, but I remembered a couple of downright hilarious accounts of role-playing games that I'd read on-line, and looked them up again yesterday. The writing quality is uneven (the stories were oriinally posted as forum threads on, but there is some hilarious stuff here for anyone who has ever looked around at 6 in the morning after 8 or 10 solid hours of gaming and said, "Why did I just spend all night with these people?" Follow the link and choose Rants and Reviews from the left margin menu. Then scroll down to EditoriALs and click on any story title that starts with "RPG.NET Rant." Some of the characters are disgusting (actually, one is named El Disgusto), but I laughed and laughed.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

New Year's Eve

I was already tired all day yesterday, so last night, I didn't even try to stay up for NewYear's. We ate a regular supper at home, nothing fancy, then planned to watch a movie, only we ended up playing Catchphrase instead for an hour or two, so I ended up going to bed well before 11. I vaguely remember my wife waking me up to give me a Happy New Year kiss. We even had champagne, but I didn't drink any. So like every other holiday since 2001 (when I started working for the TV station), New Year's was no big deal. The only plus: the neighborhood kids didn't set off any fireworks this year. Or if they did, I slept through them.

Cool stuff today: NASA and CalTech have apparently teamed up to create a giant robot float for the Parade of Roses. Speaking of which, check this out. It's a hoax, but a really, really cool one.