Friday, October 12, 2007

Seven, I'm in Seven

I got tagged by Freida Bee to reveal seven facts about myself. And here they are.

1. I once didn't get a job at Suncoast because the manager who interviewed me thought I was a smartass. I have a too-encyclopedic knowledge of film, and he was testing me to see if I knew anything about movies. "Who's your favorite actor?" he asked. At the time, 1993, it was Harrison Ford--how dull to imagine that now. I answered, and he said "Can you name five movies he's been in? And don't say 'The Star Wars trilogy and the Indiana Jones trilogy--ha, that's six!' I'll count those as two." So I proceeded to name every single film Harrison Ford had ever been in . In chronological order. The manager had never even heard of Heroes or Hanover Street or Force 10 from Navarone. He just gave me a weird look as though he thought I was fucking with him and he never called me back.

2. As I write this, I'm watching Ghost Whisperer. I only watch it for the tits, though. Seriously, I have nothing better to do on Friday nights. I don't even know what's going on in any episode or the names of any of the characters, but every week I watch J. Love's tits while I'm on the computer doing stuff.

3. The best revenge I ever thought of was one I never got to carry out. I hated one of the assistant managers at Barnes & Noble with a burning passion. He was one of the people in charge of my section of the store (receiving), and he was totally useless. The kind of weak manager who wants to be everyone's friend until he gets called on doing his job, and then expects the respect his position supposedly entitles him to. When he transferred to a different store, I wanted to go there at night, strip his car, steal his tires, and leave the car on blocks in the parking lot. But no one wanted to help me out with that one. Pussies.

4. Sometimes I really hate blogging. I hate the way a random anonymous person will, in the interest of respectful discourse, will just stop by to call me an asshole for not liking some piece of shit movie they cherish and apparently identify themselves by. I hate the way some liberal bloggers get offended when you don't share their beliefs or follow the liberal party line (I'm not a liberal, I'm a moderate-to-radical socialist). I hate the way people condescend to you for apparent inconsistencies or errors or differences of opinion. I hate being called a hippie just because I think having to sign a register to buy pseudophed is borderline fascist and I don't want to live in a state that treats its inhabitants like criminals. But I still do it. I meet a lot of cool, hoopy froods, too.

5. I have a friend who doesn't know who Wally Gator, Pixie and Dixie, Peter Potamus, Augie Doggie, Doggie Daddy, Squiddly Diddly, Top Cat, Snagglepuss, Dynomutt, and Jabberjaw are. I'm starting to wonder if she was really ever a child or was created in a factory.

6. I can't eat beef stew. One October, I stayed home sick from school (this was about 1991, so I was in my sophomore year of high school) and decided to watch two musicals I'd rented from Sound Warehouse. The first was The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which I'd never seen before. I loved it. While I was watching it, I got hungry, and for some stupid reason I decided to cook the entire 1 and 1/2 pound can of Dinty Moore beef stew that my mom had bought. I loved beef stew, so I put it in a big bowl and ate the whole thing. Then I watched the second movie, which I'd also never seen: Tommy. Now, there's a scene in Tommy in which Ann-Marget, one of my ten sexiest women ever, is covered in champagne and writhes around on a phallic pillow. Then she gets covered in chocolate, too. And then... baked beans.The beans were too much, and I was already sick to my stomach, both from the movie itself and from the pound and a half of beef stew I'd eaten. I felt queasy, and I ran for the bathroom. My bowels unloaded, sending a burning hot rush of waste straight through my colon. But then... it got worse.

I wasn't shitting fast enough for my body. I began to feel my gorge rising. I couldn't hold back, so I ripped open the shower curtain, leaned as best I could, and projectile-vomited huge chunks of undigested beef stew into the bath. Carrots, potatoes, and beef. Believe me, unless this sounds familiar to you and you feel the sweat you felt then and remember how you thought you were going to die, you have never known hell. As Monty Python said, the sluices were open at both ends. I emptied out everything; how my intestines and my eyeballs didn't explode, I have no idea. Have you ever vomited so hard that your eyes nearly burst? Then you know what I mean.

And then I had to clean it. I had to run the water in the bathtub and scoop out the larger chunks.

And so, I cannot eat beef stew, and I haven't even come close in the last 16 years.

7. Incidentally, I also have similar stories that detail why I can no longer eat Ruffles potato chips or Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Alright, it seems like I'm to tag seven people with this little meme, so here you are, ladies and gents:
Bonnie (I miss you out there, rock chick!)

A Meme of Genres (and Mutations)

Jaquandor has tagged me with an odd meme that I shall endeavor to answer as best I can.

The Rules:
There are a set of questions below that are all of the form, "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...". Copy the questions, and before answering them, you may modify them in a limited way, carrying out no more than two of these operations:

* You can leave them exactly as is.

* You can delete any one question.

* You can mutate either the genre, medium, or subgenre of any one question. For instance, you could change "The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is..." to "The best time travel novel in Westerns is...", or "The best time travel movie in SF/Fantasy is...", or "The best romance novel in SF/Fantasy is...".

* You can add a completely new question of your choice to the end of the list, as long as it is still in the form "The best [subgenre] [medium] in [genre] is...".

* You must have at least one question in your set, or you've gone extinct, and you must be able to answer it yourself, or you're not viable.

Then answer your possibly mutant set of questions. Please do include a link back to the blog you got them from, to simplify tracing the ancestry, and include these instructions.

Finally, pass it along to any number of your fellow bloggers. Remember, though, your success as a Darwinian replicator is going to be measured by the propagation of your variants, which is going to be a function of both the interest your well-honed questions generate and the number of successful attempts at reproducing them.

I don't know if I'm supposed to answer the originals, or just Jaq's, or what. So, to be on the safe side, here are the originals by PZ:

1. The best time travel novel in SF/Fantasy is...

The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers.

2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is...

Cold Mountain.

3. The best sexy song in rock is...

"Gloria," by Patti Smith.

And then the questions modified by Jaquandor:

1. The best near-future novel in SF/Fantasy is...

Firestar, by Michael Flynn.

2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is...

Shakespeare in Love.

3. [deleted original] The best opera recording in classical music is...

Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Sir Georg Solti/VPO.

Alright, so these are mine:

1. The best robot novel in SF/Fantasy is...

The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov.

2. The best romantic movie in historical fiction is...

Come See the Paradise.

3. [deleted question] The best protest song in rock is...

"Eve of Destruction," Barry McGuire

Alright, let's keep this thing moving. I'm tagging: MC, Becca, Splotchy, J.D., JA, and Tom the Dog.

A Second Rude Theory

I was watching The Goonies on cable before work yesterday, and I suddenly realized: this movie's about the penis. Just like E.T., this is another Spielberg movie that's really about an angsty kid who grows up by finding and mastering his own erection. In this case, Mikey Walsh, who spends a movie playing around in a cave until he finds his One-Eyed Willie... and, importantly, treats it with respect. That's why, at the end of the movie, the pirate ship--which should have been called Purple-Headed Warrior--sails away triumphantly. Mikey had mastered his own penis and even used it to save the family home. See, that's why the movie starts with the kids breaking the penis of a statue. They're trying to find their collective manhood.

So, when Spielberg isn't making movies about men trying to live up to distant fathers, he's also making movies about kids who have angst because they haven't yet learned the secrets of their own members. At the end of E.T., Elliott's erection ascends to heaven: it's just that important. This theme was, of course, revisited in A.I.: Pinocchio's Search for a Real Penis. Because the kid wanted to know he was spwecial.

Think about it. Penis. Rites of passage. Spielberg. Little boys. Oh yeah, it's all there.

Britney Spears: Another Gash Flash

Said Becca: "It's still so pretty."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Health Report: Week 43

Well, there's not much to say here. I'm still exercising, adjusting my eating habits. Turns out I absolutely fucking love beet greens. LOVE them. Plain, steamed beet greens. I need to buy those; I'd eat them a lot instead of some of the other shit I've been putting into my body.

As some may have guessed from my post last week, I had a relapse into the world of Pepsi-Cola. I then switched over to the new Jones Gruesome Grape Soda, a Halloween soda (back to pure cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup). It comes in a small 8-oz. can, and it tastes so damn grape-y! Well, purple-y, really, but it's the best grape soda I've ever had. I'm back to severely limiting my soda intake, too.

Otherwise, you know, same ol'. A little depressed, and I've been getting some headaches. Things are picking up at work, so I'm busy more often and not sitting around bored as much.

And that's about it. Nothing stellar, but getting closer.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

5 Questions from Johnny Yen

I have asked, and so Johnny Yen has sent me some interview questions. They're really good, too, I hope I answer them well.

1. Your historical knowledge-- both in its breadth and depth-- sometimes astonishes me. You must have started out early with a love of history. What and/or who were your youthful influences in this regard?

You know, I must have started liking history at an early age, but I can't think for the life of me when or how or why I was influenced that way. I figure it must have something to do with dinosaurs. I've loved dinosaurs since before I can remember, and I know that was partially fostered by my parents and my Aunt Cherry (and possibly Walt Disney--I know I saw Fantasia when I was small, and the Rite of Spring sequence with the dinosaurs made a huge impression). I used to do dinosaur models and draw dinosaurs, I remember. That led to an interest in my earth science class, specifically in the various ages of the planet and what our world was like in that time.

But as for recorded history, I really can't remember why I started reading so much of it. I know I've always been fascinated by certain areas--England, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Dark Ages--and I've always read about them. I remember in fourth grade we had a whole unit on Medieval England, and that I thought it was captivating. My social studies classes also fed it.

What especially interests me about history is the way myths build and become "common knowledge." I'm fond of saying that history isn't what happened, it's someone's accepted interpretation of what happened. Then I found out Napoleon said "History is a myth men agree to believe," so now I just say that.

2. Besides the history and politics on your blog, I enjoy your unabashed love of pop culture, which I share. I'm reminded of a quote by Roger Ebert, when he was asked about writing the script for Russ Meyers' Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: "I'm not a snob." Who are the ten critics, of all media (movies, music, etc.) who you find worth reading or listening to?

Well, Roger Ebert is pretty obviously a huge influence on me. I love that he's not a snob, although I think as he's gotten older he's started to miss the point of some movies a bit. But I like him and I continute to read him (and I'm just glad he's back). I also liked Gene Siskel, too. I didn't agree with him very often, but he was a strong writer and was never shy about expressing his opinion. The important thing to me in a critic is the ability to criticize rather than simply review what he/she has seen. Siskel criticized, and he always had a valid opinion. Plus he's one of the few critics who didn't like Apocalypse Now; I don't care for it much, either, so it was nice to discover a critic who didn't revere it.

Music criticism I find inherently worthless; there's been very little of it that I've read that's worthwhile. Too often people follow the Lester Bangs train of thought--"I'm going to hate David Bowie until he writes me a letter" or somesuch. 98% of the interesting music criticism I've read has been on peoples' blogs, to be honest. I like the way Chuck Klosterman writes about music, though.

I guess, when it comes right down to it, I'm always interested in what Roger Ebert has to say because he's a thoughtful writer, but there's no one else that really excites me. I'm much more interested in what other people have to say on their blogs or in conversation. Maybe I'm too in love with my own intelligence to read critics...

Oh, of course, I have to mention Harlan Ellison. Back when he reviewed movies. But he's a genius.

3. You and I also share a love of our hometown, Chicago. When you eventually leave beautiful western Illinois for greener pastures, you may or may not move back to Chicago. What five places besides Chicago could you see yourself and why?

There aren't many other places in the US that I'd like to live outside of Chicago. I do want to see New York, though, I've always wanted to. So New York would be my first place. The culture draws me to it, I suppose, and the sort of self-perpetuating mythology that grows out of it.

Lately I've wanted to live in a country with nationalized health care and a better education system than we have here. Some place less uptight and less stressful. Generally I think of Paris or London. London is especially a place I'd like to live for a while, mostly because I've seen a lot of British TV series and it looks nice. No real intellectual reasoning there.

Australia, another place I want to see.

And I'm not going to pick a fifth; I'd like to leave that open to see where life ends up taking me. If it takes me anywhere at all. Or if I get myself there.

4. Your blog in a lot of ways reminds me in a positive way of Playboy in the old days-- a mix of great writing and, well, sexy women. Who, in your opinion, were the ten sexiest women ever?

Ten? I only get to pick ten? Oh, man! (And thanks for the Playboy compliment, that's very cool!) Alright, in alphabetical order, I present:


Lynda Carter

Joan Collins

Greta Garbo

Sophia Loren

Cynthia Myers

Bettie Page

Ingrid Pitt

Susan Sarandon

Elizabeth Taylor

(Nothing against my Scarlett, of course.)

5. What were the ten best episodes of Star Trek-- including all the series (original, TNG, Voyager, Deep Space 9, Enterprise) of all time?

Well, I only ever liked the original and Next Generation, so that narrows it down a bit. In chronological order, my favorites:

"Balance of Terror" (TOS)
I love this epsiode primarily because of the tension; it's the "submarine battle" episode of Star Trek, with the Enterprise taking on a Romulan warship. What especially made this episode interesting was the idea that this was the first time Romulans and Earthlings had come in contact for something like centuries, and so the two cultures knew relatively little about each other. There's all sorts of fear there.

"Court-Martial" (TOS)
A neat little procedural episode, with Kirk standing trial for the possible murder of a colleague.

"The City on the Edge of Forever" (TOS)
This episode (with Joan Collins, and written by Harlan Ellison, nice little crossover with two other questions you've asked) just has a really nice story. No more or less than that. It's one of the only romances Kirk had that ever felt genuine to me. Like the Back to the Future movies later seemed to feel, this episode kind of wonders if real love is a matter of being in a certain time and place. Talk about star-crossed!

"Amok Time" (TOS)
I love that it boils down to: Spock gets horny enough to kill Captain Kirk. This is actually the first episode of Star Trek I ever saw. I must have been about eight or nine. It's a really good episode.

"A Piece of the Action" (TOS)
Mostly because it's hilarious. Come on, a world modeled after the gangs of the 1930s? And with Vic Tayback, no less. Side-note for geeks: I always remember reading somewhere that one of the signs you're a Trek nerd is that you know all the rules to fizzbin and routinely play the game. Cracked me the hell up. I guess that getting that joke is pretty nerdy, too.

"The Offspring" (TNG)
As someone who's always thought a lot about being a father, this episode tends to do me in. Data creates a daughter for himself, spends his time teaching her, and then basically has to destroy her. Sure, on the one hand it's merely a twist on the Frankenstein story... but it still hurts.

"The Best of Both Worlds, Part 1" (TNG)
One of the best cliffhangers ever: "I am Locutus of Borg. Resistence if futile." The creepiness alone makes this one of the best; the second part is a bit of a letdown. I read once that the Next Gen writers would write the cliffhanger, take the summer off, and then come back and write the payoff. That seems a little mad to me, and it shows--the season openers of TNG were often disappointments.

"Family" (TNG)
My single favorite episode of either Trek, completely because of the storyline with Captain Picard recovering from having been assimilated by the Borg--violated and tortured, definitely--by visiting his brother in France. The rest of the episode is good, too, but the Picard stuff is probably the best Star Trek ever got for me.

"I, Borg" (TNG)
Trek humanizes and individualizes the ultimate faceless, inhuman villain, and does it well. Perhaps there's some smugness involved, but I love that the captured Borg can be talked to and reasoned with. I think if America would stop believing that the enemy is a faceless horde and instead focus on talking--and listening--to individual people, that would be a step in the right direction. And the episode goes with a cautiously realistic ending: talking might not always work. But it is the right first step.

"Tapestry" (TNG)
I do love all of the Q episodes, but this is the only one that really resonates with me. Q gives Picard the chance to fix a mistake and alter the course of his life. The ending is predictable enough, but it's a good story.

And there you are. That's all of it. I think maybe Johnny envisioned that I'd have more interesting answers to his questions, but I don't really. Sorry.

Song of the Week: "Wuthering Heights"

Passion, need, desire, jealousy, sadness, rage, hope... all in just under four and a half minutes. This song has been striking a real chord with me lately. I love Kate Bush, she's wonderful, and I think this is one of her real masterpieces.