Monthly Archives: November 2004

Turkey Day 2004 Highlights

We got back from our trip to Az. late this evening, and I must say it was fun. We ended up driving a different route this time, since my folk’s new place is farther north up the state. Instead of the standard I-5 to I-10 course, we ended up taking I-46 to I-99 through Bakersfield, which eventually led us onto I-40 through Barstow, Needles, dumping us into the northern part of Az. I can’t quite tell if we saved any time versus the usual route, but it was much more scenic, and COLD. We ended up leaving San Jose on Tuesday evening (midnight – technically Wed. morning) and arrived in Prescott around 11:30 (10 1/2 hrs. factoring the time change). Overall, not too bad, I suppose.

However, almost 90% there, we stopped in Kingman for fuel. Being the usual dumb ass Californian I am, I was, of course, driving in my shorts and a t-shirt (hey, the car was warm inside). I noticed that when I pulled into the station, the town was very dark and shadowed by fog, very comparable to what you would see in San Fran. I exited the car thinking nothing of it, which was immediately a HUGE fucking mistake, as the icy air hit my sparsely clothed skin, resulting in my junk rescinding far into my groin regions instantaneously. Brrrrr! WTF? It couldn’t have been more than 20 degrees outside! I went back into the car and got my leather jacket, which helped a little to stifle the freezing weather, but not too much. Plus, my legs were still exposed. I literally sprinted to the heated confines of the station. You see, as I was closely thereafter informed by the cashier, fog in Northern Az. this time of year doesn’t indicate rain, but snow (ah yes, the chilly ‘white stuff’)! I suppose the amused look on her face at my attire said it all, which read: stupid California ‘cornflake’, as my brother John so eloquently assesses us, doesn’t know how to dress for winter. Yeah, well ha ha. I wasn’t expecting snow, and don’t live in Tahoe, so eat me. As we continued the final 70 miles or so, I would see evidence of LOTS of the ‘white stuff’ that had recently fallen.

Shortly after arrival, we unpacked everything and checked out the ‘rents new house. It is gorgeous. Sitting atop a mountainside lot, the new place comes equipped with hardwood flooring, large, double-pane windows providing a gorgeous view of Prescott Valley (I swear, about 40 miles of it!), 2 fireplaces (one in living room, one in master BR), a fantastic kitchen, large outdoor deck, office, and a urinal. Yes, my father put a urinal in his bathroom. How freakin’ cool is that?? Note to self: install urinal, achieve inner peace – check. The house has a lot more, but I choose to let my gallery pics describe the rest, rather than bore you to death with details.

We hung pretty low the first few days, and got to know my parent’s friends, John and Sharon Butasche (hi! if you’re reading). They are a really cool couple who seem to enjoy similar things that my folks do, like online gambling, watching gambling on TV, gambling among themselves, not to mention gambling in a casino. Did I mention they like to gamble (ha ha guys, I keed, I keed…)?? So, dad showed John the world of playing Texas Holdem’ online, seemingly addicting the poor guy for life in the process. The only times he seemed to have left the forbidding screen was to eat, play cards, barbecue, use the bathroom, or sleep. If the urinal had been installed in the office, we may have never met ol’ John. And that would have been a tragedy, as I immediately liked them both.

On T-Day, we traveled to Phoenix to eat and stay over at my brother John’s (not to be confused with John B.) house. Dinner was great, as Barbara presented 2 gobblers: one regular, one smoked. MMMmmm. And, i’m ALL about the smoked stuff. We all ate up, and the men retired to the cleared off table for a game of, as you would probably assume, poker. Needless to say, I lost my ass the first 20 minutes of the game, and it took me hours to get back even. I was sitting at the worst chair at the table luck-wise, so when my brother asked if I would like to change seats with him, I quickly obliged. Guess what? That made all of the difference. We deemed that chair the “Butthole of Doom”, and that it was. Everyone who sat there eventually lost their ass to the powerful suction of the butthole (i’m looking at you, Jack.). It was bigger than all of us – a force not to be reckoned with. I’m glad I moved.

The ensuing days after Thanksgiving were fairly uneventful. We stayed around the house (there wasn’t that much to do in town), I took one more trip out to Phoenix to visit my friend Jason, and that was about it. We drove back starting this morning, and just arrived an hour and a half ago. The trip back sucked ass. Traffic, traffic, and more traffic delayed us by just over two hours on our return. I’m just thinking of flying next time, for Christ sake!

In conclusion, I hope your Thanksgiving was just as fulfilling and fun! Niters.

 

Some kind of NFL Oracles and Going On Location

I just have to devote this space to my Yahoo Fantasy Sports ‘Pro Pickem’ pool I play in each week. Usually, all involved are pretty dismal at picking, since we all are busy doing ‘other things’. However, this week’s pickings are more than an anomaly, proof positive than indeed, the sun does shine on a dog’s ass every now and again. It’s a celebration if one of us happens to MAKE, let alone top 10 correct picks in a week out of a possible 12, 14, or 16. But for EVERY person involved to do eclipse this is quite cool. EVERY person in the pool ended up with either a 12 or 13 out of possible 16 for the week. Go, us! Nice job, fellas.

Hey! you can also start a league yourself.

I’ll be off to Arizona tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with the family. Yep, driving for a splendid 10 fricken hours. Updates might somehow be affected in my absense, we’ll see how it goes. Perhaps I will update on location from my parents home just in case I get a wild hair to write about it. I wouldn’t hold your breath. No, really.

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Conservatism Running Rampant in the U.S.: Are We Losing Our Collective Minds?

Adjust your tinfoil hats, kiddies, I’ve got something controversial to ramble on about. With the further induction of a growing republican majority in the House, Senate, and administration after the ‘04 election, we are witnessing winds of change throughout our society. Change can be a good thing for a nation, but for me, I feel that we are in the beginning stages of a social & cultural meltdown, rendering the concept of accountability a dead ideology in the wake. I submit the following media cluster fuck exhibit A: currently, it is being recorded that 1/3 of the ABC affiliates throughout the country are coming under intense fire from right-wing Christian associations, lobbying the FCC to incur large fines on nationwide television stations for airing Saving Private Ryan, uncut, during prime time on ‘Remembrance Day”.

When I first caught air of this, I was sort of in agreement, but please don’t misunderstand the presupposition behind my aforementioned ambivalence. I personally believe SPR is a masterpiece as far as war films go (I own the DVD). Spielberg depicts a very realistic portrayal of WWII in a graphic, no-nonsense, historically accurate, perspective. Complete with hardened ‘in-your-face’ bloody reenactments of soldiers being slaughtered in attempts to siphon off the oppressive efforts of a Nazi regime, SPR’s violence, albeit somewhat necessary to accurately convey that war is not as glamorous as some John Wayne movies might lead us to believe, isn’t exactly material suitable for all audiences.

I would later become literally incensed at the discovery that these moral objections weren’t about the violence. It is all about the movie’s use of profane words! Yep – instead of feigning outrage due to the raw footage of death and destruction displayed in the film, it seems that factions of religious organizations, morally sensitive to mere words, deem the movie’s dialogue more offensive. I think that’s just ridiculous! One has to wonder, are the people opposing the exercise of FREE SPEECH by protesting the use of swear words, under some religious-based illusion that U.S. troops never uttered the occasional ‘curse word’ or ‘racial slur’, in combat? I believe double standards in America’s network broadcasting integrity such as this are a big reason why the networks are continually dying a slow death, in the form of ratings.

Neo-con religious right-wing groups are currently demanding the FCC to do something about it, and fines could being levied to as much as $18,000 per station that aired it. However, most TV outlets caved to pressure by these groups, choosing to run alternative programming instead, much to the chagrin of viewers promised an uncut viewing of SPR, due to widespread advertising. Its a shame really, that these same groups lobbying against profane words on TV are unwilling to be accountable for themselves. ABC, the network responsible, aired trailers for it weeks before, so anyone that might take offense could simply choose to watch something else. I’m sure many that saw said trailers did just that, and even if they didn’t catch them beforehand, the broadcast provided disclaimers citing harsh language and scenes of an extreme nature.

What happened to the concept of personal responsibility? Claiming outrage ‘for children’s sake’ is logically indefensible largely due to the existence of other channels. The remote is there parents, create your own destiny. Being accountable for parental duties should not be pawned off on network television. They exist solely for the purpose of entertainment, not as an electronic babysitter. They’re just words, people. I have yet to see a case in which an individual is mentality scarred for life because of them. The same can be said for nudity, for example, Janet Jackson’s tit debacle during the Superbowl halftime show. This country lost it’s fucking mind after that, and still to this day I can’t understand why. Our priorities are certainly mixed up when outcry against shows depicting harsh language, or a partially naked human form, marginally surpasses that of murder, destruction, and general violence on prime time TV. But, I digress. Sadly, it seems some of the things I hear from people, including opinions from those of other nations, holds some truth. Collectively, America as a society is becoming lazier and lazier by the day, letting un-elected government officials like those in the FCC determine what is/what is not moral values to society. Why are we content to let others define our system of ethics rather than deciding for ourselves?

Here’s a possibility: the media has become a willing accomplice in effecting this paradigm. Over the past 5 years or so, in a campaign to make society more “PC”, news outlets have gone from objective reporting to turning out something more resembling sensationalized, tabloid-style hackery. Objective news outlets still manage to exist, but they are vastly overshadowed by this more recent trend of reporting. With help from the fairly recent establishment of 24 hour cable TV news networks, it has become mainstream. Personally, I can no longer watch news via television, as it literally nauseates me. CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and other “big” news networks all seem to have become ratings-only driven, and their collective styles of reporting the “news” is very indicative of this.

Bad news is king right now, especially in this time of war. Opinionated journalism, and even outright fabrication is also very popular, and stories nowadays tend to lean towards the bias of a certain individual, or network conglomerate, sometimes intentionally making mountains of molehills, rendering objectivity irrelevant. The concept of news sources giving us stories that allow us to decide for ourselves has become passe’. Decades ago, we used to call this “yellow journalism”. But now, in today’s litigious “PC” society, we’ve opted to soften it’s meaning, settling for the more user-friendly “spin”. Sadly, journalistic integrity has been replaced by skewing of facts based upon varying degrees of bias, but almost always projected to sound objective. In reality, story writers do write specifically to convey a certain ideology, bias, or judgement, but do so in a fashion as to avoid offending certain sensibilities perceived as ‘unpopular’, therefore never themselves risking being taken to task for it. Unfortunately, today’s news sources have made it quite evident that they are willing to sacrifice ethics for ratings. Many seem easily manipulated by powers that be, getting influence from government, big business, religion, etc. to project a certain image to the public, whether it is completely accurate or not. Today’s media is all about the prose. If Dan Rather reports it, it has to be true, right?

This opinion brings me full circle to the topic at hand: is our media manipulating our senses of right and wrong? I think so. Take the SPR issue. Vocal religious freaks get bent out of shape over vocabulary contained in a perfectly good film, and media outlets are all a frenzy about it. Enough already. I’ve seen this issue “spun” in so many directions that I would need years of research to discern them all. Is it really necessary? No. Does it attract viewers? You bet your ass it does. The gist is, if the language offends you, don’t watch it! There is literally hundreds of more ‘morally sensitive” alternatives out there for you to peruse. If you expose yourself to it intentionally and still bitch about it, well then you’re probably a lazy, hate-filled extremist fuckhead, and your opinion is as valuable as fecal matter.

Be responsible for yourself, America. Don’t let moral extremism or partisan media propaganda tell you what’s right or wrong. Decide on your own and create your destiny, or the fate of our present society is destined for failure. Later.

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Bush Crusade Marches On: 18 US Soldiers Dead in Fallujah

Teetering on the genesis of four more years of this dickhead I didn’t elect’s administration, we have invaded insurgent-torn Fallujah. If we thought the events leading up to this conflict were bad, it’s going to get even uglier now, folks. I have been pretty much against this war from inception, however, I feel it’s my duty to put all of my support behind our troops, and hope that they can end this quickly and come home safely. Our soldiers don’t have the luxury of choice we civilians have. They are merely following orders. War is hell, and I fear we’re just seeing the beginning. Never have I ever wished to be proven incorrect more than right now.

I weep for our fallen heroes, and can only hope that the casualties our country has suffered thus far in this conflict is the worst of it.

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Every Hetero Man’s Wet Dream: The Music Video

In my vast journeys through the int@rwebs, I stumbled across the bonerific music video from dance DJ and producer Eric Prydz called “Call On Me”. If you’re a straight male, especially a gen-Xer male who grew up in the 80s, this will definately give erotic new meaning to “Buns of Steel”. This vid takes place in a staged aerobics class, or “Jazzercise” (I personally call it ’strippers-in-training class’) and is portrayed a la 80s fashion, with the leg warmers, thong unitards, sweat bands, and absolutely fucking dynamite female specimens exercizing to this infectious, guaranteed soon-to-be dance music anthem. Yeah. Heres a spoiler: theres ONE guy in this class of ALL gorgeous women, and the instructor is giving him the “sex-eye” the whole time while bumping and grinding to the beat. (straight) GUYS WILL LOVE THIS VIDEO. I swear, it’s the shit we all dream about. Females, well, maybe not so much (sorry). But, I digress…

This mix is a looped sample from the 80s hit “Valerie” by Steve Winwood, with an upbeat bassline (of course, the stunning ladies in the vid won’t give you any reasons to DISLIKE the track). Normally I wouldn’t admit it, but I actually kind of LIKED Winwood’s original hit – but if you tell anyone, i’ll have to disavow your existence. Anyway, Winwood lent his vocals to re-record this dance beat for Eric, and it’s the currently Dance Music Track of the year. A personal note: the blonde instructor is probably THE hottest, most fetching blonde i’ve ever laid eyes upon. And that’s a TALL muthafacking order, as i’m usually not smitten on blondes. Its seductive and provacative, and you should get a kick out of it. Check it out here.

Oh, and if you liked that, there’s so much more videos of similar content at Ministry of Sound (warning: adult content & nudity). You’re welcome, bitches.

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Blockbuster Loves Me!….and yes, i’m still an idiot.

Well, the weekend is just about done, and I figured I would update this week with SOMETHING. Lynda’s having a great time in Joisey, and we’re staying in contact every other day. It sounds like shes having some frustration over the efforts, or lack thereof, from her sister-in-law-to-be. She is claiming that not a lot has gone into the preparation of this wedding, and that she is being put in a position to try and resolve some of the ensuing issues. Better her than me. I’m glad she’s taking this one for the team, because I am as useless as tits on a raincoat in areas such as this.

I’ve been by myself just 2 days, and already i’ve frequented my local Blockbuster twice now. I know, what a pathetic little monkey am I. Of course, when you’ve got an LCD device projecting 86 inches of cinematic goodness onto the screen, shrouded in rich sounding dolby 5.1, you tend to prefer watching your movies at home, and often, rather than put up with the madness today’s cinema provides. I purchased a movie as well as rented one (which I watched last night) yesterday, only to go back again this evening to rent more. The Blockbuster staff might just have to start opening a special line just for ME…Hahahahaha! *sigh* Holy shit, man. *burying face in hands* I’m WRITING this garbage, and even I can see this last paragraph was completely devoid of humor and/or interest, and generally makes me look like a fucking imbecile. Writer’s block kiddies – what can I say? Err, allow me to change pace…

One of the movies I watched was Lucas’ new digitally remastered DVD version of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Of the three movies in this series, ROTJ is definately my favorite. Lucas has added subtle new CGI complexities into most of these re-release’s background scenes, showcasing new computer generated characters, landscape depth never seen in the originals, and explosions are more vivid and realistic-looking. Not bad, Mr. “4-years-ago-I-was-anti-DVD” Lucas. The new additions don’t tend to detract from the original storyline, but there are some notable exceptions. A few of the new scenes just…didn’t “bode well” with the theme of this series. You see, when Lucas made these flicks, oh so many years ago, real effort was made to ensure audiences that we would never see anything like it, and it showed. These young (at the time) lads at ILM basically worked themselves until they shat blood to create these effects, mainly because no one had ever attempted it before. Special “new” state-of-the-art cameras were used. Elaborate miniature sets were painstakingly built to scale for believable effects. Crews worked night and day to make sure scenes weren’t put in the can until they perfectly aligned with Lucas’ vision.

Cut to now. Two decades later, the present “modern world” has evolved technology used in special effects and sound down to a push of a button, your imagination being the only limit. Worlds that once took months or even years to come to fruition can now be created and digitally rendered to big screen via computer at highest resolutions possible within a few days or even hours. To me, the best thing about the original Star Wars series was its slight imperfections. Some examples would be that in The Empire Strikes Back, you could almost tell that the big robotic ATATs, as well as the tauntauns on planet Hoth were scale models filmed in stop motion. Yoda looked much more “muppet-like” than in the current series incarnations. These factors, though a little rougher looking, illicited merely a tiny suspension of belief in contrast to an almost perfect, bigger-than-life storyline. CGI has made said imperfections all but obsolete. With breakthroughs in texture mapping, movement, and creative new lighting methods, these CGI “worlds” have become nearly impossible to distinguish from reality when seen upon the big screen. New characters can be conjured up from mere pixels, deeming previous practices of relying on living, breathing actors a thing of the past.

There are drawbacks to this level of technology however, in that the industry has grown dependant upon such easily utilized methods. Computers have made the art of special effects almost too easy. Case in point: Jar Jar Binks. I’m sure Lucas had all of the best intentions by introducing this character into the latest prequels, but for some, like myself, this character left a really bad taste in my mouth. Coupled with the loud, faux-jamaican accent, and the chinsy, bumbling personality, I found this new artificially generated ‘character’ cartoonish and boring. I suppose you can still go “too far”, even when working with the “perfect tools”. This, I believe, blatently showed in Lucas’ choice of lead actors for this film series. Putrid. Both actors. The kid who played young Anakin Skywalker, and Hayden Christenson, the person who plays the character currently in Attack of the Clones and the upcoming release, Revenge of the Sith, are truly talentless, which I feel takes a lot away from the merit of the series in itself.

Nevertheless, this new ROTJ is still the fun and exciting movie it has always been, new effects aside. I thoroughly enjoyed this refined release. Visually, it is even more stunning than the original. Coupled with Lucas’ patented THX sound, there is really no camparison. The ONLY gripe I have with ROTJ is the last remaining 3 minutes of the movie, after the death star has been destroyed yet again, and all is right on Endor, with Luke, Leia, Han, 3PO, and R2, chillin wit da Ewoks. Leia confesses to Luke that they are indeed siblings, much to the relief of Han, and that they share powers of varying degrees within “The Force”. Yee haw! Remember the final scene where the ghosts of Luke’s dad Anikin, Obi Wan, and Yoda are standing on, nodding in approval to the “good job!” actions of our fellow crew? Well, Lucas felt it necessary to digitally replace Sebastian Shaw’s Anikin (who was the original actor, unmasked in ROTJ) with Hayden Christianson’s Anikin. Blasphemous!! That goddamn kid was probably unborn, or at least still shitting his pampers when that movie originally hit the big screen! Unbelievable. Shit, I had to have been 4 or 5 myself when I saw the first one with my big brother, Matt, and I KNOW that talentless hack is much younger than I! Still thought it was the best.movie.evar, tho. Other than that major faux pax, this new ROTJ is definately worth watching.

And on that note, ~goodbye.

Bush is here, and my baby’s gone, gone gone

Okay, actually my last entry was NOT all I have to say about the election results(yeah, big surprise). Now that i’ve overcome the initial walking around, maw gaped open in unbelieving shock, I say: America, what the FUCK is wrong with you? Hasn’t there been a huge outcry of frustration and disappointment up until the point of election? Don’t we see that this administration has done us wrong? Loward have mersay! It seems we won’t be satisfied until this country has reverted it’s system of ideals back to something resembling of that 50 years ago. Sometimes, I love to hate even my own country…

Four more years, four more wars. We’re fucked.

So, Lynda is off to Joisey today to visit with family and help out with an upcoming wedding for her eldest brother. Yeah, baby – 7 days of me all by my lonesome with 2 mutts! One week of me not having to wearing pants, woohoo! I’m happy she went, as I know she was dreadfully homesick and missing her parents. I hope she has a great time. In her absence, look for my ensuing material to be hard hitting and detailed, if not ambiguous and incredibly boring. Maybe i’ll do an edgy 3-part peice on the trials and pitfalls of dryer lint, or perhaps delve deep into the underground secrets of soil cultivation! I know, stellar stuff, both. But I will decide, and you will just have to read it for yourselves, flapjacks!

And with that, I bid thee adieu.

The Nightmare Continues: 4 More Years of Bush

Now made official with a concession speech from Kerry, our fate with 4 more years of this administration is sealed. With just over 3 million votes between the two candidates, Bush has won the election with a decisive 51% to Kerry’s 49% margin. Congratulations Republicans – our Nation has spoken. Thats democracy, and really all I have to say about it. I’m not happy with our decision, but I have to live with it. These next four years should be interesting.

Election Day: UPDATE – 10:24 PM

I’m at a loss – what more can I say? The country is speaking loudly for Bush to remain in office for another four years, yet public opinion up to this date seemed to sway heavily towards Kerry. I don’t get it. Am I SO out of touch with our country’s core values that i’m incorrect in believing that Bush’s current term of office has done more harm than good? I guess i’m upset for a variance of reasons, quite obviously. On one hand, you’ve got the current fear-mongering administration, polarizing our citizens and world opinion by invading countries via inconsistent agendas, running up the debt to new levels each passing day, leaving over 1100 soldiers dead in the wake. On the other: John Kerry. A decorated Vietnam veteran with a consistent reputation as a ‘flip-flopper’ on important issues, seemingly bending to popularity rather than necessity, Kerry is also not my first choice for a new leader, but he’s the only realistic alternative to more of the same. Third-party candidates just don’t have any significant pull yet in America. The fact that I feel both of these party choices to be less than impressive is indicative that the system, as it currently is, needs overhauling.

Bush is still leading the polls, getting just over roughly 200 of 270 total electoral points (these number vary upon the media outlet being watched) over Kerry, who is just under 200. We still have a ways to go, but projections for naming a new president are growing dire. I’m still hoping for a strong shift, but I have to be realistic now. Chances are quite good that Bush will still be our president come January. *sigh* I guess we haven’t learned from our mistakes in the last four years, and now I believe our nation will be further divided by our decision. “Uniter”, my ass…. I’m off to bed.

Election Day: UPDATE – 6:42 PM

Well, as if to confirm my every fear, the early polls declaring Kerry ahead have been all but forgotten. The field is now evening out to a neck and neck battle for the southern states (as usual). With the polls here still open for just over an hour, it’s anyone’s race. Votes are still being tallied, and both candidates have slight leads in a variety of key states, with Bush predicted ahead for electoral votes by a margin. My anxiety grows with each passing minute…