Thursday, March 31, 2005

Sony, Panasonic and Bose

Made plans for tomorrow night yet? Myself, I'm working this into my schedule, in between the Michael Jackson trial in Santa Maria, "Sin City" and a different theme party.



It's also a birthday party for Lela and Holly. Any votes on what stereotype I should go as?

Rewind, Rewound

I like that it ended up getting the same headline as the first time. It actually is even more approriate for the sequel.
Be Kind, Please Rewind

Samara Morgan first crawled out of TV sets — and into the hearts of American moviegoers — in 2002’s “The Ring.” The video cassette-born villainess apparently spooked audiences enough that her creators have paid heed to the old “be kind, please rewind” axiom and resurrected her for another round of water demon madness. The result: certainly not a swirling vortex of horror, but also not the tepid afterthought sequel it could have been.

“The Ring Two,” which takes place six months after the original, finds investigative reporter Rachel Keller (Naomi Watts) fleeing Seattle and relocating to a rural Oregon town. Unfortunately, even Hicksville can’t stop the ghost of an angry, wet little girl who loves her mommy. The film pulls away from the haunted video tape motif of the first film — at one point, Rachel actually burns one of the tapes in a symbolic destruction of that motif — and focuses instead on Samara’s efforts to become reincarnated through Rachel’s son, Aidan (David Dorfman). If you thought Aidan was creepy in the first film, Samara-in-Aidan will motivate you to double-check your birth control.

Hideo Nakata, director of the original Japanese “Ringu,” helmed the picture, but his visual style so closely matches that of Gore Verbinski, director of the first film, that “The Ring” and “The Ring Two” feel like a matching set. Each scene recalls the cold, crisp, Andrew Wyethesque beauty of the first film perfectly.

The script, however, departs so radically that “The Ring Two” feels lacking in its depiction of the post-Samara world. Her gradual possession of Aidan allows her to pop up whenever she wants — or whenever Nakata wants to make his audience jump — but violates the rule established in the first film: Samara comes to kill you only when your seven days are up. Furthermore, one would imagine copies of the cursed videotape are slowly spreading across the nation like some urban legend plague, yet the film only glimpses this deadly phenomenon in the opening 10 minutes. Instead, “The Ring Two” offers flashy shots of Samara’s developing supernatural powers, which manifest in good CGI that unfortunately looks like good CGI and not the real-life water magic it’s supposed to.

Like in the original, Watts’ spot-on performance raises the film above the B-grade horror fare it might be in another actress’ hands. And even minor characters are nicely acted by a strong supporting cast and cameos by Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins and — in an act of drop-dead perfect stunt casting, Sissy Spacek as Samara’s batty biological mother.

Also like its predecessor, this ghost story has only garnered a PG-13 rating. For a horror film, it’s remarkably bloodless. The true horror lies more in the disturbing theme of mothers drowning their own children, which seems especially unnerving since actual incidents of bathtub infanticide have occurred within recent memory.

“Fear comes full circle,” proclaims the tagline for “The Ring Two.” In a sense, this is true: the film is satisfying enough that it won’t anger fans of the original. One can only hope that the people who have twice unleashed Samara upon the world can finally put her to death, lest the cycle of sequels drain all the life out of the original.

Not as Good as Peanut Brittle

And to prove that I can also write about things not "Ring"-related, here's a column I wrote for Monday's paper, which a certain web editor was tardy in posting online.
Providing a Solution to GOLD's Cracker-Brittle Weaknesses

“Please wait as the system logs you on. You will receive a response momentarily.”

Yes, GOLD. I know. And I know what the response will be.

“All GOLD connections available are currently being used. Please try again in five minutes or at a later time.”

Oh, GOLD — so naive. You and I have both been at UCSB for five years, yet I have long since realized that checking back in five minutes will only get me the same message — the computer equivalent of a busy signal. Instead, I jockey with everybody else at UCSB for a chance to punch in our perm numbers by mindlessly clicking “refresh” on that “access denied” screen.

Don’t get me wrong — that final successful click gives me the thrill of knowing that for a few brief moments I’m the envy of the 99 other UCSB students who are still clicking “refresh.” But as much as that little victory made my day today — and believe me, it did — I think GOLD could avoid the misery of busy signals with one simple change.

Not too long ago, UCSB mailed a paper copy of each student’s classes home at the beginning of the quarter. This practice ceased in 2001, presumably to avoid the cost of mailing paper goods that would probably get lost beneath a pile of other ignored mail in some messy Isla Vista apartment. I agree that eliminating these mass mailings was in the best interest of students and students’ wallets, but I still think UCSB owes it to its students to give them another way of accessing their class schedules aside from logging onto GOLD.

Since the university already keeps all students’ Umail addresses on file, I think GOLD could easily fire out e-mails to all students with a listing of the classes they’ve signed up for. Mass e-mails — a UCSB specialty — would be a quick and cheap alternative to those printouts. Furthermore, I don’t know that much about computer programming, but I can’t imagine that the work needed to create such a process could possibly weigh too heavily on GOLD’s keepers. Best of all, the Umail server seems much better able to handle student traffic than GOLD, which crumbles like a saltine cracker if more than one student even thinks about logging on.

Granted, not everybody cruising the GOLD information expressway today wanted a peek at his or her schedule. Some logged on to tinker with this quarter’s course load at the last minute. However, I’d wager that the vast majority of students were like me — struck with the last-minute panic of wondering what I signed up for when I registered five weeks ago. Coasting through the end of break — whether it’s summer, winter or spring — isn’t conducive to thinking about school. And tragically, knowing how horrendous GOLD traffic will be can’t shock me out of my brain coma to think ahead.

I feel e-mailing schedules out to students would alleviate the pressure of these frantic first days of the quarter. The throngs of vacation-minded slackers would bog down Umail or whatever e-mail account to which they forward their Umail clutter. GOLD, conversely, might not lend itself to comparisons with saltines or any other baked goods if those who needed its services — last-minute schedule tinkering or anything else I’d be able to find out about if I could log on — could actually use them.

Spreading It Like Sickness

Because I needlessly over-research things before I write, here's some more information I've gathered on "The Ring" and its various incarnations. The review, by the way, should run in tomorrow's Nexus.
  • When they were first doing promotion for it, they just left blank video tapes around Los Angeles with the movie — Samara's movie — in bars and restaurants and bus stations and in video stores. No explanation. No mention of the studio or the actual film. Nothing. And I like that.
  • Later, they made a dummy site for the fictional lighthouse that Rachel researches and then visits. You can still see it here. Notice how obviously Anna Morgan has been photoshopped into the picture.
  • Verbinski decided to lace the movie with a visual ring motif. Furniture, blankets, clothes and other stuff feature circular patterns in order to emphasize the big ring in the movie — the image of the top of the well as Samara would have seen it. This doesn't exist in the Japanese movie. The ring reffered to in the title, "Ringu," is the ring of the phone for your "seven days" call after you watch the tape.
  • The reason people's faces look all blurry in photographs after they've seen the movie is because Samara is watching them. And since she's underwater, she's seeing them all distorted and watery.
  • After people see the tape, they absent-mindedly scribble over the faces of people in books or magazines. They're not just marking over the faces, though; they're drawing Samara's hair.
  • People discuss the movie like an urban legend, but the tape is actually a literalized urban legend. Literally, it's this weird thing you see and you're forced to pass onto someone else, even they won't initially believe it. And I really like that.
  • There's an interesting article here on the factual basis behind the Japanese "Ringu." It's lost on anyone who has only seen the American version, since the Japanese film sets up the Samara character, Sadako, differently. In "Ringu," Samara's mom is a psychic who throws herself into a volcano when a reporter accuses her of being a fraud. (The reporter promptly dies — Sadako's first kill.) Apparently, a remarkably similar incident actually happened to a woman named Mifune Chizuko in 1886.
  • And maybe the weirdest part of all this "Ring" madness is that Hideo Nakata has practically based his entire career off the seires. The story first appeared as a novel in Japan. A director filmed a TV movie version of it and released it in 1995. (The film is supposedly awful and features Japanese model as a nudity-prone Sadako.) Since then, it's been remade or sequeled ten times.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Moesko Island Lighthouse

NOTE: Since so many people are finding this post my searching for the phrase "Moesko Island" — nearly fifty a day, by the count of Freestats.com — I thought I'd drop links to two other "Ring"-related posts that you might not find otherwise: "Spreading It Like Sickness" and "Rewind, Rewound."

So I'm writing a review for the "Ring" sequel for Brenna to run in Artsweek this week. I didn't hate it as much as I thought I might. Sequels generally disappoint, and while I think I could have lived happily without seeing this film, it didn't bastardize the original. It seems like the people behind "The Ring Two" actually understood the original, even if they did break the rule of Samara only showing up by popping out of TV sets when some unlucky fucker's seven days are up.

Most anyone who knows me knows I really liked "The Ring," even if a lot of people didn't care for it much. It genuinely scared me and I find it hard to believe it only got a PG-13, even with its lack of gore or raunch. In the neverending fight against writer's block, I re-watched the original when I got home from work. Whether or not you thought the movie worked, I think it's beautiful. The look of it — this gray-blue haze, like some low-lying rainstorm. IMDb says Gore Verbinski looked to the paintings of Andrew Wyeth for visual inspiration, and you can really see it. There's something crisp and cold and vaguely lonely about these and I get that from the movie. (See Christina's World, Wind from the Sea and Fed, all by Wyeth.)

Anyway, watching it again, I realized that aside from being a neat little horror mystery, this movie has a theme of art and creativity and creation in it. All the main characters are make things that could be considered art, in one way or another. Rachel, the Naomi Watts character, is a newspaper reporter and a writer. It's her propensity for words that drives the film's central investigation. I know a news story isn't generally considered art, but it's definitely a creative process — and one that ultimately leads to her survival. Journalism versus Evil: Round One, as bygone Artsweek editor DJ Fatkid headlined my review for the original two years ago. Rachel's ex-husband, Noah, is a photographer. Before he finally believes Rachel's story about a cursed video tape, he uses his camera to conduct his own little investigation. The creepy son is a little artist too. In his first scene, he's drawing a morbid little picture with crayons. He keeps doing this throughout the movie, and one of his doodles eventually provides a pivotal clue for Rachel.

And then we have Samara. Oh Samara, the little dickens who re-affirmed my general fear of children, dead or not. In the movie, we learn that Samara had freaky psychic powers, even before she died. She could create images on negatives just by thinking about them. She burned a perfect image of a burning tree into the wall of her bedroom. And she, after all, is the one who put the images on that damned video tape together. (You could also say that Samara is a bit of a sculptor, too — whatever the fuck she does to people sure leaves their corpses in a memorably horrifying state.)

The most interesting artist figure, I guess, would have to be the film's director himself. Not Gore Verbinski himself — though "The Ring" sure springboarded him to bigger and better things — but the idea of a director — the director as an abstract figure. "The Ring" suggests that a film is so powerful that it actually can kill a person — make them feel an emotion so profoundly that it overrides every other bodily impulse and shuts the whole system down. When Samara emerges from the TV to kill one of her viewers, it's like the person has gotten so into the movie that the lines between art and life completely disappears. They let the art in, and when Samara reconfigures their corpse into some horrible death posture, they become art themselves.

Maybe I'm overthinking this, but it got to me, this movie. It did before. It does now.

By the way, here's the first picture I ever took with my digital. Last Christmas, I drove out to the edge of where I lived and snapped some shots of this creepy area where people's area stops and it turns into countryside. They always reminded me of "The Ring." Just a little bit.


Saturday, March 26, 2005

In the Sky

I saw three more biplanes today. They were flying in formation. If this happened in a book, I'd accuse the author of obvious symbolism and needless puns.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Yukon Ho!

I took a walk in the grass. This time of year it varies from thigh-high to ankle-length, depending on where you stand. The hills are thick and green, rather than dry and yellow and this place doesn't quite feel like home. Springtime is a chromatic anomaly, but it's also the only time you can walk in the grass. In a few months, the weather heats up enough that the rattlesnakes come out. And even in winter, the fields are full of stickers and walking in the brush usually results in an equal amount of time picking pointy weed parts from your socks.

As I walked, I kept crossing paths where the grass had been smashed down in a straight line. Evidently, something — or less likely, someone — had made a trail through this area, even I usually think of this grassy extension of my backyard as being deserted. For whatever reason, I followed the trail. I walked for more than an hour in this little universe of green and blue, climbing over rotting trunks and through wet creeks in a Calvin and Hobbes fashion that I remember from when I was a little kid.

Eventually, I came to a little body of water. Not a lake or even a pond, but enough to splash in if I chose to. (I didn't.) It's entirely possible that this pond only existed as a result of all the rain and had never existed quite this way before. I didn't recognize it, but I also can't say that I had ever been in that specific location ever before. A buzzing noise hit my ears and I saw a biplane flying over my head. I looked down and finished watching this antique aircraft in its reflection in the water. I didn't know where I was. I wasn't sure which direction would most quickly take me home. And, as that plane flew over, I wondered how long I'd been gone.

*****

I know haven't written lately. I can't. I just don't have it in me. Words, I guess, are more powerful than I thought, whether they're a blessing or a hex or a simple statement of fact. "Hey. Things aren't the way you think they are." And like that, I feel like the wind's knocked out of me. If you must have a mental image to understand, picture a word balloon from some comic strip. The words are still there, but it's completely deflated and sitting on wet ground.

Friday, March 18, 2005

How Do You Follow a Perfect St. Patrick's Day Dinner?

Once there was no more corned beef, potatoes or cabbage and I had drank three Guinesses, I finally had the talk with my parents. That talk.

Results pending. I hope I didn't make a mistake.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Nudge

I never do this, but can I please direct your attention southward to the wonderful line of dialogue that has developed out of the comments attached to the post "Deadly Youth." Maybe it's finals stress. Or maybe it's the best thing that ever happened. And for the lazy, I'll provide a transcript.

Anonymous:
I care nothing for the Marvel or Capcom universes. If they really wanted to make a game that would grab my attention, they'd propose what would happen if the universe of ABC daytime soaps fought the Muppet universe. Now that's worth spending quarter's on.
Me:
Uh, what if the world of My Little Pony took on the world of Tranformers?

What if Adult Swim took on The TGIF line-up from 1992?

What if Greek mythology took on your third grade class?

What if my floor freshman year took on the Twelve Tribes of Israel?

What if the characters from every SNL spin-off movie took on the four food groups?

What if the "Creature from the San Andreas Fault" fought Mothra?

What if Death itself fought that one time in when you were slow dancing in junior high and you got a boner and had to keep dancing with the girl pressed up against you until the boner subsided?
Kristen:
amazing choices drew.

i want to play too:

what about if your recurring childhood nightmare took on your recurring teenage fantasy? i know you can picture exactly that. or my recurring teenage fantasy? or the precocious young hispanic kid's future recurring teenage fantasy?

what about if all the back to the futures rumbled? there'd be like 45 different michael j. foxes and lea thompsons to choose from.

or ... what if the periodic table of elements battled the periodic table of sex poster that they sell in bong stores?

or ... all the fancy little dogs in paris vs. our editing seminar last year? i picture them all pouring through the windows and door in their little t-shirts, devouring all the strange girls.

do more.

love, kristen
Me:
answers to kristen.

1) if that happened, i'd be having sex on a train with a mermaid and i'd be drowning and the train would be going out of control. i think. weird video game.

2) i could not picture your recurring teenage fantasy because you did not know me in high school and therefore your life must have been too boring to have real fantasies.

-OR-

it would involve a mermaid and me and some weird re-creation of the greenhouse scene from "sound of music." no wait -- that already happened.

-OR-

precocious hispanic child would team up with wolverine and they'd both be wearing wedding dresses and they'd have to fight me and a mermaid, both wearing suits. not the best game for children, but it has potential.

3) the mind boggles trying to think about how many michael j. foxes and lea thompsons would be selectable. i think the character selection screen would be confusing and repetitive. however, we could call it "back to the future: mcfly melee," and that makes me happy.

4) what? stay out of bong stores.

5) i think this is your best bet. i think the yappy dogs, led by linda ronsdstadt II and alphonso van floof, would be fairly evenly matched against the girls from our writing class, led by that airhead girl who wore earmuffs and that sassy girl who i liked but who i suspect did not like me.

tourney, of course, would be the boss and his weapon would be the red pen of permanent omission.

and what? the dogs had t-shirts?

how about this: all the STDs in your body grow to the size of elephants and you have to fight them with mops, brooms and three castmembers from "kids incorporated"?
Anonymous (I think Nate):
what if the staypuft marshmallow man fought new york?

no.
Kristen:
1) mermaids are super hot.

2) they probably were mostly wearing little sweaters and the occasional dogberet but i just really love little dogs in little t-shirts.

3) i gotta dig deep for the next round.

k
Bri:
This is the greatest thing I've ever read...

What if that one person you really REALLY wished you hadn't hooked up with took on a flock of your friends who have inexplicably turned into kindergarteners?... Under-water?

What if David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust took on David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King in Labyrinth?

What if my weirdest sex dream (this is Bri, by the by) took on Drew in a suit and the precocious young Hispanic kid in a wedding dress? (I know now that the background would consist of bleachers with Wolverine in a wedding dress--knitting--sitting with a suit-wearing mermaid filing her nails on one side and the Mad Hatter sipping tea with Brandon the wonder dog who is smoking a phallic cigar on the other side.)
Anonymous (Sanam? Nate again?):
What if a giant asteroid was going to crash into earth and a ragtag band had to fly to it and blow it up?

No.
Kristen:
ok, so Mr. Belvedere, Dr. Ruth, Chef Boyardee, and lovable tough guy Lt. Dan from Forrest Gump round out a killer tag team equipped with Nerf sports gear where every Nerf ball is soaked in people-disintegrating chemical compounds and studded with pitbull teeth.

vs.

all the skeletons in your parents' closets have emerged, donned St. Pepper's-reminiscent psychedelic marching band gear and initiated a parade of shame and doom, shaming and dooming all in their path!

speaking of Chef Boyardee, how about the stale smell of Spaghetti-Os that permeated my pre-school goes head to head with the person i become when i black out drinking?

or

your underwear has to beat a snakecharmer at tetherball.

and up-down-left-right-select gives you the ability to fart the top 20 Cingular Wireless ringtones.

k
Lauren:
what if the extra half an hour i am gonna have to spend staying late at work, because i've been reading this blog, to come up with kiss ass tag lines to write in a letter i should have written this morning inciting a certain pissed off donor to still love project angel food...fought all of the creative intelligence in this blog dialogue...

if they tied blogalogue and my undercompensated guilt trip would each be worth $6.50.
Lauren:
i will suggest one more...

"I know you are but what am I."

vs.

"I'm rubber and you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you"And a capper: what if the video game was that all the female characters from "Tiny Toons" had to fight a monster made out of all your elementary school art projects?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Punctuation Round-Up

I hate History 4A. I hate studying. I hate finals.

As a result of these three hatreds converging on one night — my last before I'm done with this shitbag quarter — I have spent the last hour procrastinating. Instead of the boring stuff I hate, I read all about boring stuff I like. For your edification, I've collected this knowledge here. Now learn something.

[ Ye Olde Missing Letter ]


Among many other things, a subject that came up during a talk I had with New Megan was the letter Thorn. The way Megan told it, Thorn is the name of a symbol for the th sound — either way you can pronounce it, whether voiced like in "the" or voiceless like in "thick." Though we still use the sounds — lispers more than others — we don't have the symbol, which in its day looks kind of like this: Þ

It's a vertical line with a loop coming out of the right side, just lower than it would on a P. Neat, huh? The interesting part about all this is that a certain influential printer named William Caxton decided to substitute Y for Þ, for reasons I will surely never understand. Because of that, it was standard practice to use Y to make the th noises for a while. This has all but disappeared except on quaint, folky-like store signs, like "Ye Olde Whorehouse" and stuff like that. People mistakenly pronounce "Ye" like yee when it's actually just a fucked-up way to spell "the."

Neat, huh?
[ And, Per Se ]

As near as anyone can tell, the ampersand was born around 63 B.C. when a scribe named Marcus Tullius Tiro created the first system shorthand we can find record of. As a speaker of Latin, Marcus' word for "and" was "et." Whether he joined the two letters together or whether that was already standard practice among writers at the time, we're not sure, but the oldest form of the ampersand is a fancy way of writing "et."

If you look in this picture below, you can easily make out the individual E and T in the classical ampersand on the right. The more modern, more familiar one on the left, however, has changed quite a bit.


The name of the letter comes from a recitation of the phrase "et, per se and," a mishmash of Latin and English that basically translates to "et, which by itself means and." For a while, the ampersand was treated like a quasi-letter and stuck onto the end of alphabets. People slurred "et, per se and" into "ampersand." (And there's a phony etymology for the name of the symbol which traces it back to the phrase "emperor's hand," but don't believe it. Believe me instead.)

And I know inventing shorthand is technically a big accomplishment, but I'm way more impressed that Marcus Tullius Tiro has gone down in history as the inventor of the ampersand.
[ The Tragically Short Life of the Interrobang ]
Apparently having decided that English punctuation didn't pack enough punch, New York ad exec Martin Specktor introduced a new end punctuation — the interrobang — to the printed word in 1962.



This mark, which looks like a retarded P with a dot under it, is actually an exclamation point and question mark combined — hence the name. "Interrobang," by the way beat out other suggestions for the name like "rhet," "exclarotive," and my favorite, "exclamoquest."

Specktor even concocted a name for the upside-down interrobang that would rightly procede a Spanish sentence expressing both surprise and interrogation: the gnaborretni, which is "interrobang" backwards.

The interrobang fared better than you might think. Supposedly, it showed up in some magazine articles and print advertisements. Remington brand typewriters even included an interrobang key for a few years. As you probably could guess, however, the mark ultimately faded into obscurity. Today, the standard practice for punctuated a surprised question is to use ?! or !?. There's no rule saying which order you have to use, but it's generally not considered a trait of formal writing.

And I'm totally not shitting you. This has to be the only instance of fad punctuation I've ever heard of.

I just like that the first sentence I can think of that would actually make good use of the the interrobang is "What the fuck?!" And that is exactly what people should have said when someone tried to explain the interrobang.

There's a Light and I Can See It

I hate this — almost as much as I dread what I'll have to do when I go home.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Deadly Youth

"Hey mister, how come you always pick her?"

I wash my clothes at Fiesta Laundry now. Like I've said before, I enjoy being there because I never see any other college students. Young marrieds, sometimes, and some weird aging hipsters and Hispanic mothers who yell at their kids — but never any people who look like the typical UCSB student.

What really draws me to Fiesta Laundry — which, honestly, isn't as much of a party as the name might imply — in the arcade nook. It almost looks like an afterthought — this row of four arcade machines shoved in the back in the corner, presumably because Mr. and Mrs. Fiesta didn't order enough dryer units. However they got there, they're there and I feed them my spare quarters — likely at the expense of future laundry loads, I know, but that's the future and not the now and-it's-my-money-so-drop-it. I used to play video games a lot when I was younger. I still do — just not as often, mostly for the sake of getting my work done and not seeming like less of a dork. Video games, it turns out, are still a lot of fun.

So I play this one in particular: Marvel vs. Capcom 2, the one-on-one fighting game that proposes an answer to the question "What if all the characters from the Marvel universe — that being the one with the X-Men, Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, etc. — took on the characters from the Capcom universe — that being the one that gives us Street Fighter, Mega Man, Resident Evil, etc. Granted, nobody probably ever asked that question before this game suggested an answer, but it exists nonetheless.

The game offers sixty selectable characters — I'll kindly explain to the uninitiated that that's a lot, especially considering the original Street Fighter only had eight. My favorite character is B.B. Hood, a little girl in a red dress with a picnic basket. Little B.B. hails from the Darkstalker series, a sort of re-envisioning of the Street Fighter with all the characters in movie monster drag. (Ryu's the vampire, Zangief is Frankenstein's monster and I could swear that Ken is cross-dressing as the succubus.)

B.B. Hood, of course, is a the Japanese fighting game designer's take on Little Red Riding Hood. Instead of running from the Big Bad Wolf, she wants to murder him. Instead of skipping to Granmda's, Grandma is dead. And instead of cookies in her basket, she keeps a stash of firearms, knives and grenades. (I love you, Japan.) She also has this little puppy with a red bow that follows her around and yaps. Though I have yet to make Puppy Goo Goo do anything cool, I'm sure a certain sequence of buttons will make him tear out the opponent's genitals or something.

Easily, however, the best part about playing as this character and spraying the likes of Chun-Li and Captain America with machine gun fire is that no matter how well I can do against the computer, there's always a little hispanic kid who comes in, plunks in a single quarter and makes short work of poor B.B.

"Um, you know what you could have done there? If you wanted to do better?" He then demonstates a series of button taps and joystick wags that I can't follow. "And that will do her combo reverse and you wouldn't have died so fast."

Thanks, kid. Thanks a fucking lot.

"And then, another thing you could do, you could pick somebody else."

I hate you, kid.

"Because she's not very good. She's one of the not very good characters."

Death and pain, child. Death and pain. I must walk away now, I figure.

"Hey mister, how come you always pick her?"

Because she's pretty. Because I'm twenty-two and if I want to play as a certain video game character on the basis of her being pretty, I can. Because I've been playing video games longer than you've been alive, I'd guess. Because I went to a geography bee in the seventh grade solely because Street Fighter gave taught me the location of world superpowers by showing a little plane that flies to each country and then announcing the name of said country.

And then I say happily, "Gotta go check my laundry!" And then I walk past my laundry because I know it's not done and sit on a bench and read the Independent. I figure I could start doing my laundry during school hours.

Video games, it turns out, are still a lot of fun.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ten Thousand Balls of Yarn

My parents called me Wednesday night, but I was at the dress rehearsal for "Cabaret," watching a pigtailed Palmy Palmerston twirl her legs in an entertaining fasion. When I got the message — "Just calling to say hi!" — I naturaly assumed something bad had happened, like my bank account taking a turn for the worse.

The next night I finally called my parents back and they told me the cat had died. I immediately thought back to a conversation with my parents I had during my last few days in London. They told me that they had bad news and I assumed then that the cat had finally kicked the bucket. She was fifteen then — and that was a year and a half ago. Instead, my mom and dad informed me that the departed loved one was my grandmother's sister, who had been like a second grandma for me and my brother.

I dno't feel especially sad. I guess having once mistaken my dead relative for a dead cat kind of shut me off to the idea of missing the cat. If I think about the cat, I end up thinking about how much more I miss Gigi. When I go home on Thursday, I might feel sad when I realize the cat won't be there, waiting to greet me with an indifferent stare — a look, I honestly believe, is cat language for "bring me food or fuck off" — but I can't say for sure until then.



This is the only picture I have of her. She was a good cat, I guess, though if you look at the list of her accomplishments over her nearly seventeen years, it doesn't amount to all that much. Then again, the net result is never all that important.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The Extracurricular Activties of the Damned

I just finished my ninth paper this quarter, meaning I'm finally free to be a real person. I didn't get to do the topic I wanted, though. I had planned to compare Pasolini's "cinema of repulsion" in his film "Salo" — which I've referred to in front of my friends in recent weeks as "the shit-eating movie" — with Argento's "orgy of blood" aesthetic in "Profondo Rosso" and "Tenebre." Unfortunately, "Salo" didn't come in time — fuck you, Half.com — and I had to do my paper only on the frequency of non-Italian protagonists in Argento's giallo slasher films. It sucked. But at least I got to use a cool title:

"Welcome to Italy! Prepare to Die!" — Non-Italian Protagonists in the Slasher Films of Dario Argento"

Well, I thought it was cool.

(i like how i celebrate being done with writing by writing.)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Save Your Stones

If you don't look out the window every now and then, those crows will outnumber you before you know it.

Murray Head

So I'm kind of a big deal in Bangkok, I hear.
[ link: My Supposedly Infatuated Self ]

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

But the Grass Still Looks So Beautiful

See the forest for the trees. See the dead rat for the perfectly green grass beneath it.

Strength, Wisdom and Courage

If I divide myself by three, I wouldn't have anything left. It's a mathematical impossibility, I know, but it's true to me at this late hour.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Conrad the Feeble

And while I write an eight-page paper on The Castle of Otranto, the roommate is out having a good time, eating dinner, proposing to his girlfriend.

Razor-Sharp Women

I can't believe I nearly forgot about this.

While I was in D.C., I had the best idea for a movie. No. Scratch that. I had the best idea for a movie poster.

Picture this: careful handpainting, the likes of which movie posters haven't seen since the 70s, depicts an exploding car. Leaping from the burning wreckage — in effect, towards whoever is viewing the poster — is a beautiful woman with red hair. She's wearing a red bikini and she's clutching a knife in her teeth. From the look on her face, you know she means business. In the background, we see the rest of her gang. All beautiful women, each in different poses. Some are karate chopping, some hoisting bags of money, some posing seductively with firearms. One of them — at least — has to be depicted precisely at the moment when she fires a bullet into the chest of some faceless male character. Spatters of blood frame the entire scene.

At the top of the poster, above this collage of female violence, the text reads, "It's the time of the month... FOR CRIME!"

Below the scene, the name of the movie: "WOMEN'S TROUBLES."

Monday, March 07, 2005

Here Comes a New Challenger!

Three sites I've recently come across that are worth seeing.
[ PostSecret ]
I found this courtesy of Nate. It's easily one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time and I'd like to send something in.
[ Dead or Alive? ]
Ever wonder if a certain celebrity has kicked the bucket? Find out here!
[ Acronym Search ]
Some brilliant person realized that people often don't know what certain acronyms stand for. So he or she or he-she collected them and posted them here. It's one of the most practical websites I've stumbled upon.

Light, Shadow and Angles

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Dog Killed the Bastard in L.A.

Although I never didn't realize it right away, this journal can serve as a way from people to get to know me. Someone who's only met me a few times could Google my name, find this and read all these little bits that I've decided to post. They wouldn't know me well, but they'd get an idea of what kind of person I am.

As anyone who reads this often enough know, I write pretty often. What even loyal readers might not know is that I doodle compulsively. In any given lecture, I prbably spend about half the time I'm sitting there drawing pointless little scribbles, many of which I eventually scribble out. I'd like to believe that I'm still absorbing some of what the professor is saying while I'm drawing. Honestly if I was just sitting there I'd be get bored, think about sex and get none of it. Geo even tells me that there's some evidence that shows this actually works.

My notebook is full of pictures and half-done pictures and ruined pictures and strange ideas that I didn't follow through. I'll recycle the thing at the end of the quarter, so I figured I'd take some snapshots of some of the ones I liked. They're not great, but they amuse me. If nothing esle, they might give you a better idea about what kind of person I am.



















And then there this one. I like this last one a lot. I did it in a particularly boring History 4A lecture a while ago. I think I'd like to make a painting out of it some time. If it ever comes together, I'll name the painting "Why I Didn't Learn Shit About the Hitties."

Also, since this is the only one I'm actually proud of, you can click on it to see a big version as well.

Take You All Down With Me

There’s No Reason Why Only Christians Should Suffer for Lent
By the time you read this, I will have schmutz on my forehead.

The use of Yiddish to describe a solemn Christian tradition might seem out-of-place. However, as Christian-specific a holiday as today might be, its theme of sacrifice spans faiths. A conversation I had ran like this:

“You giving something up for Lent?” I asked.

“Why? I’m not Catholic,” my friend responded.

My friend’s religious beliefs aside, he should see Lent as an opportunity to abstain from those little vices that pack on the extra pounds, give us the smoker’s cough or fill up our hard drives with embarrassingly raunchy pornography.

Ash Wednesday heralds the beginning of March Madness for Catholics. We get to take our guilt to the extreme and spend 40 days thinking about how sinfully indulgent we are the other 325 days. That may sound like the worst proselytizing bid ever, but I’m not encouraging everybody to go Catholic. Pew space is hard enough to get on Easter morning. I’m only suggesting that a predetermined period of self-denial is good for anybody, regardless of where one’s religious affiliations lie.

If I recall my catechism, Lent is the 40-day period preceding Easter during which the members of some Christian denominations remember Christ’s suffering. This was the point in the presentation during which some religiously trained adult presented an especially gory picture of Jesus’ death scream on the cross at Calvary to me and about twenty other 8-year-olds.

Although the image undoubtedly scarred some 8-year-old psyches, it vividly impressed on me the intention behind Lent: Self-sacrifice is good in measured increments. The nuns would be proud, because the image stuck and is presently causing me to forgo two of the greatest joys in my life: In-N-Out Burger and Hamburger Habit. No meat for me until Easter Mass is over, the pastel-colored eggs are snatched up by young, sugar-addled cousins, and the ears are bitten off chocolate rabbits, creating chocolate hamsters.

And it’s no coincidence Lent follows the beer-and-hooters holiday that is Mardi Gras. Like feast before famine, the calendar provides one last binge before people regain control over themselves.

Self-control seems like a lofty ideal. If everybody practiced perfect self-control, people wouldn’t be worried so much about shedding those extra layers of insulation before swimsuit weather returns. People wouldn’t be puking in my bushes on the weekends. And students would all budget their time to allow for equal attention toward all their subjects, studying intently each and every alcohol-free night.

But people aren’t perfect. That’s what this is all about.

Beyond a mere rejection of things like red meat, cigarettes, alcohol, pot, swearing, porn, gossip, sweets, soda, fast food, hard drugs, shopping and sex with or without partners, self-denial also instills a certain sense of self-pride. And I can only imagine how good that burger will taste come April 20.

The true beauty of the Lenten resolution is - unlike the New Year’s resolution — no one expects anybody to keep it past Easter. More power to whomever wants to engage in a permanently ascetic lifestyle, but after Easter, I’m going to be throwing a tri-tip on the barbecue.

So don’t miss out on self-denial. For the next 40 days, join me at the salad bar. I’m doing it for religious reasons, but people with Christian convictions shouldn’t need much convincing to give something up for Lent. For non-Christians, do it for self-improvement or only to exercise your sense of self-control.

Thirty-nine days left and counting.

Drew is a Daily Nexus county news co-editor.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Mrs. Samurai


Meet the Muddlefoots

As I do every day around 5:30, I was thinking about "Darkwing Duck." On the show, Darkwing's meek alterego, Drake Mallard, lives next to an annoying family. The father is Herb Muddlefoot. The wife is Beaky Muddlefoot. The two sons, if I remember correctly, are Tank and Honker Muddlefoot. Now, judging from the enthusiastic response my last grammar-related post drew, I feel I can benefit from much feedback to this question:

When speaking about Drake Mallard's neighbors as a group, should I call them the Muddlefoots or the Muddlefeet?

I mean, the plural of "foot" is "feet," but should this rule extend to proper names? Input, please, you grammaticians and associated pickers of nits.

We Are Young

More rain. I feel like we should all grow gills to better deal with this water. In Santa Barbara, we usually prefer our water to wait for us obediently in the ocean.

While waiting at the last stop light on Los Carneros before the exit onto the 101, I noticed that a passenger in a car to my left was laughing at me. I felt it before I saw it and when I turned to see, I couldn't tell if this person was male or female. Mind you own business, you passenger androgyne.

This person of indeterminate gender was was laughing at me, I'm guessing, because I looked like I was talking to myself. When I see people driving by themselves and moving their lips in their empty cars, I usually assume they are singing. And though the radio was playing "Love Is a Battlefield," I honestly wasn't singing along. I was speaking out loud — to no one or to myself.

What I said to make the androgyne laugh:
It's not the first time, but I feel like I'm being pulled in a lot of different directions. It's not your fault and don't feel so bad — I actually kind of like it. I don't mind feeling like you and everyone else has a hook in me, tugging at me to come towards them. It's been this way for a while, and if I really hated it I guess I would have put a stop to it by now. Please don't stop pulling. I might forget you're there.More or less. I actually was saying this out loud, and though I'm sure the androgyne couldn't hear me, I think he or she was right to laugh. It's an odd thing to say, especially if no one but an empty styrofoam cup is around to hear it. Eventually, someone had to honk to tell me that the light had turned green. I'd failed to realize, even when the androgyne's car had sped past me.
The roads are slick again, but I'll give a ride to give who wants one. I don't really have anywhere to go, but I can promise you three things: I will not change lanes without properly signalling; I will not slam on the brakes without good reason; the soundtack to our roadtrip will be a most excellent and diverse collection drawn from the 80s, 90s and today.

If Aphra Behn Isn't Already Dead, I Hope She Dies

I watched "Reality Bites" instead of reading Oroonoko. Janeane Garofalo taught me that "Evian" is "naive" backwards and that is perhaps the most interesting thing I've learned all week.

I'm not sure whether the it's the movie's fault or not, but I'm not struck with the urge to grab people walking down the street and, screaming in the their face, demand that they justify their existence.

"Justify your existence." What does that mean, anyway?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Z Word

— I'm telling you, it can't be done.
— I'm sure it can.
— You're wrong.
— Prove it.
— Fine. To start: asshole.
— Bitch.
— Cunt.
— Dick.
— Umm... E-tard?
— I'll see your "e-tard" and raise you a "faggot."
— Gaylord.
— Homo. No wait — ho. I feel like we're bagging on gay people too much.
— Good call. Idiot.
— Jackhole.
— Jackhole?
— That's right. Jackhole. What?
— Nothing. Kike.
— Lesbo.
— Moron.
— I would have said "Menstrual Monster."
— That's good too. Your turn.
— Umm... Nimrod.
— Nice save.
— Thanks.
— Let's see... Oral sex-giving person?
— It works. Pussy. No — prick.
— Queer.
— Retard.
— Shithead.
— Tease.
— Tease?
— Yeah. That's totally something you'd call someone.
— Okay. Let's see... Ugly.
— Vagina.
— Wuss.
— Hmm... X-girlfriend?
— That's definately a dirty word. Yahoo.
— Umm...
— See?
— Give me a second.
— There's not one, I swear.
— No, I totally just got one.
— What?
— You ready?
— Yes, what is it?
— Zlut.

That Judy

S00n Me: "I'm going to rip your head off," Judy said with vivaciousness!
kidicarus222: see, if judy said that with vivaciousness, that would be worth mentioning
S00n Me: yeah
kidicarus222: because that's not what i expect to accompany that
kidicarus222: "i'm going to rip your head off!" judy said with a smile and a wink
kidicarus222: "i'm going to rip your head off!" judy said in a strange hungarian accent
S00n Me:"I'm going to rip your head off," Judy mumbled absently as she fiddled with her alchemy kit
kidicarus222: "i'm going to rip your head off!" judy said as she ripped her own head off
S00n Me:"I'm going to rip your head off," Judy said as a response to the previous actions/comments of the person to whom she is directing her speech
kidicarus222: "i'm going to rip your head off!" said the learning disability-stricken judy, after she had already ripped your head off
S00n Me:"I'm going to rip... no wait... I'm going to rip your head off!" Judy said in a bold, italicized manner.

Super Poochio Brothers

Dear Nintendo,

I love you. Always have, always will. But you're so fucking weird.

Concerned,
Drew

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

My Dichotic Soul

Blackjack! Twenty-one things I wish everybody in my creative writing class knew:
  1. If you trying to show that someone's being interrupted, use an em dash ( — ) and not an ellipsis. Ellipses show that the speaker is trailing off.
  2. Punctuation goes inside the quotes, not outside.
  3. Think about it: "I'm going to rip your head off," Judy said with malice. This is a little redundant. If Judy is threatening to rip your head off, she's obviously saying it with malice.
  4. Don't do this: "Hi Joe I'm Judy how are you?" Yes, it's one unit speech, more or less. But when you write it, break it up using punctuation. You know, those things that show up next to the letters but are smaller?
  5. Meet the enter key. He's your friend. He lives on the left side of your letters on the keyboard. When you hit him, he makes a new paragraph. He likes making new paragraphs because doing so makes your story easier to read. People don't like chunks of text that stretch for half a page.
  6. Don't use semicolons if you don't understand them.
  7. The grocer's apostrophe. Not "Look! I see two donkey's!" Use "donkeys" instead. A lot of people think proper nouns should take apostrophes if your pluralize them — "Look! I see two Judy's!" — but just adding an "s" usually works just as well. ("Look! I see two Judys!")
  8. About numbers: if the number is small, write it out. If it's long — for example, 265,246 — then it's okay to use the numerals because it's hard to read otherwise. But if the sentence is "Margo went to the store and bought a carton of milk and 6 eggs," don't you think using the numeral looks a little lazy? I do. Seriously, you're not that fucking busy that you can't hit s-i-x. When I write, I write out any numbers that I can express in three words or less, excluding years and amounts of money. I think that's a good rule.
  9. Appendix to the previous rule: Although I'd prefer you write your numbers my way — and, honestly, do everything else my way, since we're on the subject — I think it looks fine as long as you standardize it. If all your numbers are in numeral form, that's fine. It looks hasty to me, but at least it's uniformly hasty.
  10. Like this: 6 a.m. or 11:33 p.m. Not like this: 6am or 11:33pm or even 6:00 a.m., since the zeroes are totally superfluous.
  11. And technically, 12 a.m. and 12 p.m. are wrong. When you think about it, "ante meridian" means "before the halfway point" and "post meridian" means "after the halway point." And if twelve on the dot is the halfway point, you're not really before or after it. "Noon" and "midnight" work better, so use them instead.
  12. Don't italicize words for emphasis. When you do this, I feel like you're leaning over my shoulder, whispering, "Hey! Drew! I want you to stress this word when you read it." If you wrote the sentence properly, I should be able to read is the right way. If not, no big loss. And get the hell out of my head during my private reading time.
  13. Don't write out everything. If someone's making ramen, don't tell us the steps to making ramen unless they're important to the story.
  14. While I'm there, don't write about ramen in general. No one cares.
  15. Proofread. If you're trying to pass something off as a formal composition, it should be proofread. (This journal, I'll note, is not a formal composition and is never proofread. I'm not handing it out to class. That's why.) If you don't know what "proofread" means, find someone who does and have them proofread for you.
  16. Look up words you're not sure about. (I'd start with "proofread.")
  17. Just because you can use an adverb doesn't mean you should use an adverb.
  18. Hyphens are fun. Learn about them. If that sounds boring, pretend you're looking up "hymen," but still type "hyphen."
  19. If you're writing about something with which you have no personal experience, please Google this thing and gain a base understanding of it.
  20. If someone notes that a certain sentence is grammatically wrong in the first draft of your story, you'd better have a good reason for not changing the error in the second draft.
  21. Don't be a shithead. In fact, if any of the above rules are too hard to follow, just throw them out and obey this last rule. Whenever you do something, ask yourself if you're going to appear shithead-like. This will save you, me and everybody else a lot of grief in the long run.
I write this list not because I think I'm a great writer. On occasion, I'm good. Other times, I'm wordy and confusing.

However, thanks to Catholic school and Mrs. Gaylord, I know something about grammar and I really wish you'd listen to me. I actually minored in Editing and I get paid to edit things. You don't, I'll wager. I bring up good points, more or less, and if you'd follow even some of these rules, I think your writing would be better. Nitpicky psychos like myself would be able to read your piece and appreciate its content rather than tripping over every misplaced modifier and stray comma.

(I should have written this at the beginning of the quarter.)