Archive for March 2005

Welcome to the Night Gallery

March 31, 2005

Well, as it turns out, Lileks wasn’t gone, after all. He just forgot to post on his site. All’s right with the world, then (at least in my cube during lunch break). Recently, I found a couple of interesting “Night Gallery” sites. It prompted me to fire up the ole DVD player and go through a couple of episodes. I have the first season boxed set and I’m tellin’ ya – they’re priceless. Don’t get me wrong though. I thoroughly realize the “Night Gallery” was severely flawed in many ways and it was certainly no “Twilight Zone”. But when it got something right (“They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar”, “The Caterpillar”, “Little Girl Lost” – to name a few) they really got it right. Plus, they had access to some pretty big names in the business (Joan Crawford, Edward G. Robinson, Vincent Price, William Windom). It also, defined a time in my life when I was at home with my folks and in the safety and comfort of my room. This was before I had to face to harsh realities of the day to day working world. The disappointments of relationships and struggle to keep afloat were still ahead of me. Behind me was childhood, play time and looking forward to dessert. I was in the holding pattern of adolescence. A time for wanting independence and still needing mom, dad and the covers of my childhood bed wrapped securely around me late at night. Enveloped by the familiar sounds and smells of home as I drifted off to dream of all the wonders I would encounter when I was older.
If I only knew, then.
I’m glad that I didn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. These days, I feel more up to the task of tackling life than I ever have. I’m more confident and sure of my paces. I have the energy of wisdom to act as my force field and the sharp edge of experience to combat the dragons of reality. But, you know, tonight when I get home from work, I think I’m going to watch a couple of episodes of “Night Gallery”. Hmmm… yes, I think “Return of the Sorcerer” will do just nicely.

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Review: “The Religion War”

March 30, 2005

I just finished Scott Adam’s book “The Religion War”. It’s a very short, but interesting, read. Like “God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment”, it’s designed to present a series of philosophical questions set in a coherent, fast moving story. Actually, “The Religion War” is the sequel to “Debris” with the new Avatar developed at the end of the first novel as the main protagonist in the second. As many of you already know, Scott Adams is the creator of the “Dilbert” comic strips and books. I enjoy them immensely as the “Dilbert” daily calendar on my work desk testifies. I’m not so sure how popular my “Dilbert” collection is with upper management, but I suspect that I’m too far out of their radar for any of them to notice much. Anyway, Scott Adams is also a highly intelligent person who tends to let a bit of condescension creep into his narration on a pretty consistent basis. In this case, the “Avatar” is supposedly the most aware person on the planet who can cause amazing things to happen primarily based on his ability to recognize patterns in the world. I have little doubt that Mr. Adams seriously identifies with his main character. What I find most ironic is his penchant for over analyzing issues to the point where his conclusions are off base in a university professor sort of way. You know what I mean. In other words “I’m correct and I dare you to try and outwit me” (as opposed to arriving at an actual truth). Still, the hook in his writing is that he tries to get the reader to identify with the main character, as well. He does this with a style I call “genius by proxy”. If a character supposedly understands everything in the world and the reader understands the character’s explanations, then that means the reader must be highly intelligent, as well. In the first book, “God’s Debris”, Adams makes it clear that the logic is flawed and that the reader must find the flaws. That was a good move, in my opinion. But in “The Religion War”, this is not the premise. Nowhere does Scott tell you that the logic is flawed. I found that a little disturbing, since the entire novel revolves around one’s belief in God. So, my final opinion is that if you want a quick interesting read, you couldn’t go wrong with “The Religion War”. However, one should keep in mind that the logic presented when addressing the nature of God is highly suspect and certainly would not hold up well under the scrutiny of genuine theological scholars.

I Could Use a Painkiller

March 29, 2005

Well, I’ll be darned. No Lileks column to read while eating my sandwich. I wonder what happened. Although, it’s not like he isn’t entitled to a day off, every now and again. Still, though, it throws my day off a bit. It’s like going over to a friend’s house to visit and discovering that they’re not home. Oh well, back in the car and make the long, lonely drive home. No hanging out till all hours and eating chips and salsa for you tonight, Henry. Well, maybe not the “hanging out till all hours” part. After all, I still get to romp with the fun guys and gals, here, at the warehouse. At least I’m doing better than Johnnie Cochran (who passed away, today). I was never a big fan of his after the O.J. deal but if I ever needed a legal assist, he’s the one I would’ve wanted to defend me. When you’re good, you’re good.
Note to self – I have definitely got to start planning my next vacation. Looking forward to something like that will take the edge off the current dismal cloud that seems to hover over me. You know, I think I need to play my computer games more, when I get home from work. I’ve gotten out of the habit of doing that since I don’t feel like committing to any complexities beyond surfing the Net or watching a movie. But I own a few good FPSs (“First Person Shooters”) like “Doom 3” and “Painkiller”. Even though my favorite type of game is a RTS (“Real Time Strategy”), there’s something oh-so-satisfying about blowing away a few folks with a variety of imaginative weapons. “Painkiller” has a nice “stake through the heart” crossbow type rifle. Wheeling around, seeing a demon and sending that sharp spike of wood through it’s body delivers a sense of peace and accomplishment that, unfortunately, the Human Resources Dept. just refuses to allow me. They had some lame explanation to the effect that I could “terminate a poorly performing employee’s job – but not the employees, themselves”. Fascists.

Netflix to the Rescue

March 28, 2005

I was just over at James Lileks’s site. The “daily bleat” told of his visit to his old hometown to celebrate the Easter holiday with his dad. A huge dose of melancholy, that. He gets that way, sometimes. One day, he could have me in stitches as he points out some hilariously inane concept that others are somehow taking seriously. The next day, I finish the article saying “Man, that was a downer.” Today was a downer. Believe it or not, it makes it hard for me to write after reading something like that. Especially since he’s a much better writer than I am (no foolin’, Henry? Really?)and knows how to seriously become poignant. Not only that, but with my own dad doing rather poorly at this stage of the game (he’s 96, has Parkinson’s and just got hit with a bout of pneumonia), this is not something I need to mull over during my lunch break, at work. Not only that, but one of my Production Leads’ (my “assistants” at work) mother just passed away so that’s pretty sad and, finally, I cruise on over to Lily’s blog and she’s talking about “Downfall”. “Downfall” sounds like an excellent film, but sheesh. I’m sure you know what I mean (Hitler and all). I visit Lily’s site because she’s a developing talent and I get to learn quite a bit from her writing style (Lilek’s, too, for that matter). But now here I am, sounding every bit as maudlin as James. One good thing, though (he said while pulling hard on the stick and instantly feels the terrific g-force generated by pulling out of that serious nosedive) – Neflix is sending me “Death Race 2000”. Yay! If I can just get it together and watch all 5 DVDs I’ll have from them, in my possession, I’ll be a new man. By the way, they are: “Rain”(1932), “Ju-On, The Grudge” (2003), “The Unknown” (Lon Chaney – 1927 with the “London After Midnight” photo recreation presentation), “Battle Royale: Special Edition (2001) and, of course, the aforementioned “Death Race 2000”. All right, moving forward…

Happy Easter

March 27, 2005

Happy Easter! I’ll be back on Monday…

Paralyzed By The Tube

March 26, 2005

As most folks have already heard, Silver Pictures has signed on Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) to helm the new “Wonder Woman” feature film. Will it be good? Who knows. My guess is that it will fall somewhere in the mediocre range. You know what I mean. Good special effects (because they’ve pretty much become a given, these days. Although “Van Helsing” managed to seriously rain on that parade). Some level of cleverness (“Buffy” had its’ moments) and some decent acting (at least from someone). That’s about par for the course. But like I said, who knows? It’s always possible that they’ll stumble their way into a genuinely good film. It’s pretty much a blind call. But I’ll tell you this much – I’m willing to bet the farm that it wont become one of my all time favorites. You know – the ones that you’re willing to watch over and over like some half-crazed coke fiend who just has to “do it one more time”. Witness, if you will (channeling the spirit of Rod Serling, there), a short list of movies that I just have to watch when I come across them on the tube:
“The Outlaw Josie Wales” (heaven help me when this comes on. I’m immobilized for next 12 hours – which is, I think, the running time for this flick)
“The Bird Cage” (just too funny. Especially the part where Agador Spartacus slips and falls because he’s wearing shoes)
“Casablanca” (“save me, Rick”)
“The Cheyenne Social Club” (I have no idea why – it’s just me, I guess)
“Unforgiven” (It’s a Clint Eastwood thing – see “The Outlaw Josie Wales”)
“House on Haunted Hill” (Vincent Price’s best work, ever)
“David and Lisa” (my all time favorite film. Yes, I’m a bit morbid.)
“Son of Frankenstein” “Ghost of Frankenstein” (if you have to ask, I feel sorry for you)
“L’Ultimo uomo della Terra” (“The Last Man on Earth”) – because it pretty much mirrors my typical day at work.
So, anyway, there you have it. My short list of movies that immediately stop me in my track and force me to sit and watch – time and again.

Nightime Cubeland Express

March 25, 2005

Here we are, coming to the close of another week (just one more day – I’m off Easter Sunday) and I find myself starting (starting?) to run down as a result of the hours I’m currently working. That should change sometime towards the end of April (I hope) because the effects are starting to show on me and my co-workers. Writing can be especially hard at the end of the week, because it becomes more difficult to filter out the distractions around me as I take lunch in my “cube adjacent to the production floor”. Whoever designed this floor plan should be taken into custody and made to watch “Sextette” over and over again with a few showings of “The Star Wars Holiday Special” as the only intermission. Where I work, we have the “office area” which is separate from the production floor and thus quite comfortable and quiet. Then there was “cubeland” which was constructed in the far section of the production floor. However, they needed most of the cubes for the new building, so all but 10 cubes (out of about 50) were dismantled and carted away. This means that most of the outside cube dwellers were re-located or just disenfranchised. I was one of the “lucky ones” since I’m a Production Supervisor and not just a cube dweller wannabe. By cracky, I’m an authentic cube dweller. But still all the wonderful noises, harsh lights and the occasional dramatic temperature change (open shipping door) comprise the “benefits” of a production floor cube. Thus, come lunchtime\blog writing time, I use the meditation techniques that I learned from Kwai Chang on the old “Kung Fu” series, retreat inside myself and hammer out the blog. Speaking of which (“Kung Fu”, that is) – man, did I enjoy that series. It’s based on a concept called “The Warrior” by none other than Bruce Lee. However, he got shafted and they gave the deal over to David Carradine. Although I feel sorry for the late Mr. Lee, it’s my sincere belief that the right actor got the part. The show, as it turned out, was geared more towards a concept of Eastern philosophy more accessible to Western culture than it would have been with Bruce. Who knows, I could be wrong. Anyway, I’ve managed to stumble my way through another blog entry. Maybe, tomorrow, I’ll find myself in a more imaginative frame of mind.