Monday, December 15, 2008


Hello. This blog will be on hiatus until Jan 1, 2009.

Basically, we have too much on our collective plates at the moment. The newborn’s hearing may be a problem. The Little One’s never-quite-healed chest congestion is acting up, as well as her new sassy four-year-old attitude. My wife’s work is in turmoil as the dual effects of a bad Christmas economy and visits by bosses and bosses’ bosses multiply her stress levels exponentially. My day job continues at the same level of vomit-inducing wretchedness. A couple of writing projects I’ve promised myself and others to get done by the New Year never seem to get out of the planning stages. We’re in the midst of that intricate metaphysical tar pit of refinancing a house that never really gets cleaned as we move boxes and boxes of crap from one room to the next. Errands and chores and Christmas shopping and –

You get the idea.

I’m facing a very real crisis of confidence right now, on top of things. My physical health, never really good over the past three years, is dipping more than a bit into problem territory. My mental outlook is following closely behind. There’s only just so much an amount of constant, never-ending stress and fatigue, one crisis after the other, that a healthy body can take, and I think I’ve crossed that line. Long ago.

This blog was created back in March as a means of getting me back into a habit of daily writing. I think it’s accomplished that objective. This is my 270th posting. But now it’s just another to-do on the giant To-Do list, another source of stress as I have no time after work to write until late at night, when I have no energy, and must resort to stealth writing during the frantic work day. It’s really a lose-lose proposition as the quality of my writing suffers and falls below a level I feel is acceptable for public consumption.

Hopefully at the end of the next two-and-a-half weeks you’ll find me re-energized, re-focused, and bursting with interesting ideas. But right now, I need to take a small vacation. To recharge, to reinvest in myself, and to rethink my life and my lifestyle.

Have a Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eulogy for a Bad Man

He was not missed.

Indeed, there was much laughter in the back rows at his wake, now that he was no longer there to enforce a grim obedience. We felt lightened, free, emboldened though our future was anything but certain. But of this we were sure: he was gone, and would never be a matter of any importance or of any consequence whatsoever in our lives again.

We mentioned all the crazy things that happened; crazy, now, yeah-we-can-say-that-now, but heart-sickening during the times that they happened. The late nights, the early mornings, the unscheduled conferences, the chewing-outs, the pressures to do the wrong things. Was he born mean, or did he just become that way? That was another topic we were divided on, with the majority of us, however, affirming that it really didn’t matter one way or the other. He was now gone, forever.

How much time and energy he wasted, or caused to be wasted, we realized, at the bar after the funeral, how much pain and distress he caused scratching out a couple of decades of life. Was it all worth it? Perhaps, one of us wondered aloud, perhaps there were charities we were unaware of, some fellow human being or beings, somewhere, anywhere, that benefited from his love – His love? No, his money (on that point we all agreed). But none could name any names or point to any persons.

We laughed now that the routine memorial service washed away into the past. No more wondering what he thought, mimicking how he stood, how he walked, how he talked. No more predicting the sourly unpredictable. No more sleepless nights agonizing over t’s that might not have been crossed nor of lower-case j’s that might have escaped dotting. No more. No more. Oh, it feels so good to say those two words. We held drinks up in the air: beers, whiskies, flutes of champagne, and chanted the new mantra of freedom: No more.

There was a lot of money to be divided up, after the firesale, after the circling sharks. Always was in situations like these. But we all knew who’d get most of the slices of pie: the lawyers. None of us thought we’d factor into any of that, and on that account we ultimately were right. But it didn’t matter. A couple of months, a couple of years: at the end, we all were doing all right doing something else. Our little business venture faded into that wing of the cerebrum reserved for faded memories. The mental and psychic wounds healed, mostly from inattention now that we’d moved on.

In the end, no one missed him. At least, no one we knew. Whether that in itself was to be pitied or not, we could not tell. In any event, we soon stopped thinking about it, and about him.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ten Thoughts on Thinking

Because I can.

Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts. – John Locke

The hero is the one with ideas. – Jack Welch

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an invasion of ideas. – Victor Hugo

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. – Leo Tolstoy

Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing. – S. I. Hayakawa

You have to think anyway, so why not think big? – Donald Trump

To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement. – Bertrand Russell

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. – Pablo Picasso

Whatever things are true … noble … just … pure … lovely … and are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; think on these things. – St. Paul

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Question Posed to a Zen Master

“Zen Master, is there life after death?”

“I don’t know.”

“But you’re a Zen Master!!!”

“Yes, but not a dead one.”

Great joke from a guy whose blog I read daily until he decided to end it and do something else.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Some movies just shouldn’t be remade. I think most of us movie buffs can agree on that, no? I mean, why would anyone bother remaking Citizen Kane, or Casablanca, or Gone With the Wind? Look what happened to remakes of Hitchcock films: Dial M for Murder and Psycho, for example. Bland at best.

Science fiction is a bit different, though. Some movies are remade well, in my opinion, and I can cite as examples Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), The Thing (1982), The Blob (1988), and the recent I Am Legend (2007). This works well for science fiction because, well, as technology advances and improves, so does special effects. And special effects can make or break even the best written of films. Special effects can even substitute for writing, to greater or lesser degrees.

It’s the writing, however, that worries me.

Case in point: the remake of The Manchurian Candidate. When a Hollywood writer has an axe to grind, when he writes from an undisguised opinionated slant, he’s going to offend huge segments of his audience. Also, more often than not, the quality of writing will suffer. I mean, come on, making big business the bogeyman is so … done to death.

That’s why The Day The Earth Stood Still is scaring me. The original is like holy scripture to me. So was its companion that year, 1951, The Thing From Another World, but that was remade well. Perhaps even better than the original. But this Keanu Reeves film has the makings of a train wreck. Global Warming. Oh dear. I’m sensing rational critics will have a field day deconstructing this movie’s ideas. So will I, I think. If it’s as bad as I’m sensing, I won’t see it in the theaters, but I will rent it in about six months or so, and review it here.

But the few glimpses of the updated Gort we see in the trailer really, really look cool:

Also slated for release next year: Remakes of The Birds, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Escape From New York. Superiority, or sacrilege? We’ll see, but I’m not hopeful. Oh the humanity!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Of Tolkien and the Bible

When I was twelve or thirteen, something odd but not entirely uncommon for boys that age happened to me. I read The Hobbit and the three books of The Lord of the Rings. It helped me through a very rough patch in my life, and I have very fond memories of the time.

I read of Bilbo meeting his dwarf companions while up in a tree. I was enraptured as Frodo and his friends eluded the Nazgul while in a rowboat as my dad taught my brother to fish. Galadriel and the elves nourished the fellowship as I sat in my dad’s parked red Volare: on the front seat, the back seat, the fender, the hood, the roof. The tower of Isengard fell to the Ents while I perched on log at the stock car races. Shelob chased and overcame poor Frodo while I read terrified under my dining room table. I followed the apocalyptic battle at Minis Tirith to the light of my grandmother’s washing machine.

It probably took me to six to eight months to read the works. I had to finish them by the start of school that fall, my freshman year at high school, because there’d be an essay required on it. Which I aced. But the odd thing happened in the year or so afterward.

I became absolutely and completely fascinated with everything Tolkien. I was like a hungry convert to a new religion. I had to find out the history. What of the First and Second Ages, those tantalizing hints placed liberally throughout the texts? I soon set upon my first reading of The Silmarillion. But while that prologue answered many of my questions, it left many more unsolved. So, I set upon a voyage of discovery. I researched the lands, their histories, the maps, the linguistics (easily Tolkien’s genius and his inspiration). I traced genealogies. I studied the names of the fortresses, the mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers, the cities.

One major theme interested me to no end: the problem of Evil, and how we deal with it. The Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron, fascinated me. His minions, obvious ones, such as the Nazgul, Orcs, Trolls, other nasties, haunted forests, and the more subtle forms of his malice: the lure of power, the poison of pride. As a counterbalance, the wizards, the Istari, fascinated me, too, especially this tidbit: five were sent to Middle Earth, yet only three are named in the LotR – Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast the Brown. Why? Who were the other two? Where were they sent? Why was each wizard given a color, and what was its significance? And were they really – angels?

I devoured those Tolkien companions and encyclopedias. Literally, I would sit on the couch while the family watched TV or a movie, and I’d spend two hours leafing through it, stream-of-consciousness, searching for clues to old questions, and learning more and more about this fantasy world. It became a huge chunk of my life.

Then, near the end of my sophomore year, the compulsion stopped. It was replaced by music, which consumed me for a long, long time. Still does, but not quite as ravenously.

This has been on my mind lately because of, well, see that thing to the left, there? Current Reads? Currently, I’m reading The Day Christ Died by Jim Bishop. Full review to follow in the near future, but suffice it to say that, since I picked it up a few weeks back (I got distracted but returned to it a week-and-a-half ago) I have been pulled towards Biblical history, with much passion similar to the way I was pulled towards Tolkien’s world over twenty-five years ago.

Bishop’s book details quite nicely the day-to-day life of a Jew in Jerusalem around 30 AD. What do I mean by ‘quite nicely’? Only that it paints an extremely vivid picture of the dress, homes, occupations, interrelationships, beliefs, and social strata of the people who lived at this time. I think I have a highly active imagination, but I always had trouble making scripture come alive. This book is helping, a lot. Fills in the blanks. Lays down the lines that allows my imagination to color the picture, so to speak.

And one consequence is that I now have a raging interest in the history and archaeology of those times. Much like my quest to know all the inner workings of the Tolkien universe, now I must know everything about, oh, the Middle East region from about 4000 BC to AD 70.

For instance, I’ve been reading the past couple of nights about some of the Kings of Israel and Judah, that probably 99% of Christians have never read or heard. Stuff that would rival the debaucheries of imperial Rome. Stuff that would make an interesting blog post down the road. Stuff that I think were taught to pre-teen and teen boys could possibly and perversely result in an increase in vocations. Or at least greater Bible literacy in today’s comparatively illiterate world.

Fortunately, my Bible at home has an extensive introduction – nearly a hundred pages – consisting of chronology, maps, kingly lineages, historical articles, etc, etc, etc. So I’ve been going through that, and I got a fat encyclopedic book from the library that goes through the bible book by book and points out interesting miscellanea from this type of angle. I thumb through it while the wife feeds the baby and we’re channel surfing and / or relaxing after the Little One’s put to bed at 8. Makes for a relaxing evening; it’s what floats my boat.

More to follow, from a weird trivia perspective …

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Read this quite gripping account of a survivor from the Mumbai Islamic terrorist attacks. It forced me to think about a couple of disturbing things.

First off, put yourself in that man’s place. Can you think of anything more horrible, more terrible, than to be a civilian thrown into a paramilitary situation as this? I never use that old phrase, “There but for the grace of God …” but I think it’s more than appropriate for use here. I realize just how much God protects us and cares for us simply by not having these seeming random acts of violence touch the majority of our lives. Would I be as clear-headed as that man in that situation? Would I even know the first thing to do to save myself? What if my family was with me, stranded, isolated, helpless, waiting in a hotel room and not knowing whether the approaching footsteps were those of a policeman or an Islamofascist thug?

Couple this with the rash of school and workplace shootings over the past ten years or so. Think about your desk at work. If you heard “firecrackers popping” just outside the hall, will you allow yourself to freeze, or will you promise yourself, right now as you read this, to take action first and foremost, and worry about the possibility of looking silly later. For instance: Is there an escape route (preferably more than one) you can take? A failsafe place you could hide? Something / anything you can use to defend yourself with? Think seriously about this, and find answers to these questions. Remember: No job, none, is worth sacrificing your life over. I know firemen who always plan an escape route whenever they sleep in a new hotel room, or even enter a new building for a meeting or party. I knew a man who never sat with his back to a door. Prepared planning or paranoia?

Consider yourselves on notice from this moment on. Going down a dark street alone at night? Fine, but what would you do if someone came at you? Approaching your car by yourself in a parking garage? Make sure there’s no one waiting for you in the back seat. Sitting down for a meal at a nice restaurant? Note the exits. Read that stupid little cartoon pamphlet about airplane evacuation as you’re waiting to taxi onto the runway.

This is not, and in no way should be construed as, an invitation to a life of fear. No. Absolutely not. Quite the contrary, in fact. This is an invitation to be prepared. To be always entertaining silent thought exercises in your mind. To grow confident, secure in the knowledge that if there’s smoke, or an explosion, or a scream, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done, and do it.

To never be a victim, never again. Or at the very least go down fighting hard.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Brain Freeze

Brain frozen … fatigue too overpowering … must do next thing on the list …

Hope to carve out an hour or so tonight to write. Said hour must be child-free, wife-free, television-free, telephone-free, alcohol-free, bills-and-finances-free, dirty-laundry-free, worry-free. Is such freedom possible this side of Paradise? Who knows? I’ve heard it is. Indeed, I think I experienced it, once, about twelve or thirteen years ago, but was too stupid to realize what it was. Went out and done gone ruined it, I think I did, buried that jewel in a field, drew a map and promptly misplaced it.

Oh well. I’d spend a half-hour today attempting to write something witty or pithy, rueful or bold, but I have too much paperwork on my desk. Feel like that Dutch boy, plugging all those leaks with his fat little fingers. This due, that due, handle this, handle that. Nothing in writing, mind you, only verbal commands to do this, do that. Trainers coming in tomorrow as we’re switching payroll systems, for the second time in as many years. Possible pointless seminar I’ll be sent to Thursday. Two potential bullets I have to find a way to duck. Dodging supervisors, who only want to burden and never lighten the load.

Brain frozen … fatigue overpowering … must find solution …

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Lovers

(c) 1952, by Philip Jose Farmer

Pity poor, unfortunate Hal Yarrow. He’s had the terrible misfortune to be born a thousand years in the future, after the Apocalyptic Wars, in a society so rigid and claustrophobic it would make the gulag archipelago as relaxing as a weekend at Club Med. Indoctrinated and monitored from birth by something known as the "Sturch", Hal thoroughly and completely adores Sigmen, the big-brotherish founder of his culture, and loves his meaningful life.

Well, not exactly.

It begins with his marriage. Like a wedding band that’s too tight, the severe restrictions began to itch maddeningly and unbearably for our friend. The prearranged marriage, the prescribed mating rituals, the dissatisfactions and disappointments. After a while, Hal just doesn’t care anymore. A joat - a "jack of all trades" – in the linguistics field, he’s given the opportunity to be involved with an interstellar expedition to a newly-discovered world. He accepts; his death is faked (Sigmen never makes mistakes, so there’s no such thing as divorce), and he’s on a new world by page forty.

After befriending a native "wog", "Fobo," and accompanying him to some nearby ruins, Hal encounters Jeanette, a human descendent of the survivors of a marooned starship a couple of generations ago, originating from France a few years after the Apocalyptic Wars. She’s been in hiding; it seems that the wogs had trapped her for study and held her against her will until she escaped. Terrible and dangerous predators dwell in the forests at night, and Jeanette spent a great deal of time in pure survival mode. Hal is instantly smitten with her, and soon begins breaking rules, little and big and bigger, in order to nurture and protect her.

First he illicitly passes some morality tests for a greater rank within the expedition. Then, he requisitions an apartment among the wogs as he is studying their language and must be among them to master it. Since Jeanette turns out to have quite the thirst for booze, and alcohol is strictly forbidden by Sigmen, Hal must make overtures with Fobo about obtaining alcohol for his paramour. His "guardian angel," a man responsible for monitoring and passing judgment on Hal’s daily activities, grows suspicious, and after a confrontation, Hal allows, through inaction, the man to die quite horribly. Things have now progressed beyond the point of no return.

Hal and Jeanette have become lovers. Hal’s world is absolutely turned upside down; perhaps it is the forbiddenness of the affair, perhaps it is the physical excitement that comes purely from the freedom of exploration. Whatever, Hal thinks only of how he can win survival and keep Jeanette. The fact that the humans are preparing biological warfare to eliminate the wogs and take over their planet holds no moral qualms for him. His only world is the woman.

I thought I knew where Farmer was taking this story; I couldn’t have been more wrong. Well, in a way I was right: Hal does grow more and more disenchanted with his society, but I was anticipating with Jeanette as his inspiration he himself may thwart his fellow explorer’s nefarious secret offensive. But no. It turns out I did not go far enough in my speculation.


One morning Hal arrives at the apartment and is horrified to see Jeanette unresponsive. Her skin has calcified; she is dying. When Hal confesses that she should be better since he was weaning her off the liquor, she freaks, then loses consciousness. Hal seeks out Fobo for help, coincidentally at the same time the expedition’s leader, on to Hal’s rulebreaking, sends men to arrest him. At that moment, the wogs perform a Bushian first-strike and disable the Earthmen, having long surmised their wicked plan. Hal is spared, being Fobo’s friend, and then the truth comes out about Jeanette.

She is not human. She is a lalitha, a mimetic parasite.

Once impregnant, she must die. The alcohol, it turns out, is kind of a birth control for her. So Hal, in a misguided attempt to cure her of what he thinks is alcoholism, lets her go fertile, and therefore causes her death.

But she will live on, in her spawn, which will have Hal’s features.


An excellent hook! What I love most reading these classic SF books – the unexpected thrill, the dawning realization of what the author’s driving at, a twist that makes you put the book down in utter amazement. Farmer is a master at creating alien life, both horrid and wonderful, and I should have seen this coming. But I didn’t, and that’s why I have to heartily recommend this book.

Grade: A-.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bogus Dog

[A fastly-written stream-of-consciousness sleep deprivation exercise ...]

Not tonight, Lord, I thought, pounding my hand against the sheet rock wall. Plaster flecked onto my red leather jacket - my red leather jacket, man! - and all I could think was, not tonight Lord.

Tonight of all nights! Damnit, man! The apartment had been turned upside down. Thrashed and trashed. Nothing was in its rightful place. Clothes, garbage, food all strewn across the floors. My priceless collection of Hummels had been smashed. Boy, someone was gonna pay for this. But I didn't care about that. No, all I could think about was the fact that this had to happen tonight.


And where was the key? That was the important part. Eff the hummels, screw my collection of double-breasted beige-and-brown corduroy suits, forget Leonisa the hybrid Siamese-Turkish longhair cat. The key. Oh man, how much sorrow was going to enter into the world because I couldn't find the key.

The question was: Was it stolen, or was it somewhere buried beneath this inferno of chaos, my overturned apartment. Time was not my friend, not that it ever was, but now it was downright dirty rotten mean and nasty toward me. I picked up this, picked up that, what's under this scarf? how 'bout this ottoman? Wait! check under this Smithsonian magazine ... no, tonight was a bad night. A bad luck night, because I couldn't find the key and it was now approaching twenty to midnight.

I had two choices, I realized. I could try to fake my way through it, or I could try to get the spare. I turned and looked at the Elvis clock in the kitchen, pelvis swinging left then right, tick-tock tick-tock, think-think think-think. Quarter to twelve. Not much time. Joanne would have my balls if I didn't show up with the key.

Could I fake it? Wouldn't have even thought of if I didn't find myself in this situation. Joanne was some mean-ass b**** all right, and I mean mean to the bone. Don't want to eff with her. No sir. But on reflection, I stood up straight. I did tell her off that one time, that time with Pascual. And though she did give me "The Stare" I stared that b**** down good.

But in the end I decided I couldn't fake it. Better to try to get the spare. Pamela would have the spare. But Pamela was in jail.

Jail, or Joanne. I sat on the pile of S that was my life's possessions on the balcony of my righteous apartment. Tendrils of marijuana wafted up to me. Absently I took a big swig off the Spaaten forty ounce I brought out of the fridge for comfort. I looked at my arm, my left lower arm, where the G-clef quarter-inch raised scar lay. Case decided. I got up, put on my best cap, grabbed my wraparound shades, my pack of Merit 100s and headed out the door.

I skipped down the spiral staircase towards the parking lot, taking the steps two or three at time. Trotted / ran / jogged / sauntered up to the Green Machine, yeah man, that's my wheels, my AMC Gremlin 480 V6. The Ladykiller, I christened her, had painted on the fire-lime green hood in that flowy scripted writing: The Ladykiller. Yes friends, I am the Man with the ladies.

Well, all ladies except Joanne. But Joanne couldn't exactly one-hundred-percent be categorized as a lady.

Joanne is a man. Well, a woman that became a man. And was in the process of becoming a woman again. (Head shaking sadly). You see, it's a long sorry tale of cheap doctors, cheap promises, and expensive lawyers. Oh, and Joanne is also a made member of the Antonetti mafia family in Albuquerque.

The key muthafukka! I slap myself (I am prone to extended periods of reflection where my physical body happens to do nothing except drool and fart), slap the keys into the ignition of the Ladykiller and I'm on the main drag in a few minutes. The key!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The keyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

My funky clock says its 11:52. The blinking dot in the upper right corner means its PM. So does the fact that the sun set five hours ago. Okay. No problem for I am cool. I can find a way out of this proverbial crazy-S S-hole I suddenly find myself in. Through no main fault of my own, I might add. Thank you. Thank you very much.

I vaguely notice the exits of the beltway zip by. The Georgia Road exit sees me, smiles seductively, then panics as I show no sign of decelerating, so she (it?) reaches out and slaps me across the face, and I take it. Five minutes later, lesson learned, I make a left onto Excelsior Road. Midnight comes and goes, and I am on the street that leads up to the Montgomery County Municipal Jail.

The Ladykiller pulls in to the free 30 minutes parking lot and finds a spot on the far side of this correctional facility. I let the engine idle a while while I pause to collect my thoughts. I smoke a long cool Merit, taking extra care to let the smoke exhale in rings out my flaming nostrils. I am a god of the cigarette I realize, and sadly note that there's not much in the way of remuneration in that line of work.

A plan, I think, that's what I need. Then I think of this: a man, a plan, a canal: panama! Think about it.

I do, and I waste twenty minutes. The clock on the dash of my bodacious car now whispers twelve thirty two to me, serenely, post-orgasmically, long black tongues all the way to my ear drums. Time is getting late, the left, rational side of my brain realizes, then realizes, in a somewhat paranoid fashion, that it is not quite sure it trusts that other hemisphere. You know. The right one. That one.

But I digress. I also waste time. So I take my keys out of the ignition lock (I have the coolest key chain - some day remind me to describe it to you) and I open the door and stretch my long Carl Lewis long distance runner legs out into the parking lot. I saunter over to the trunk, making sure to keep my good side, that is, the side without all that scar tissue, to the cameras that I know are aimed at me from the Montgomery County Municipal Lockup.

A chill massages my spine as I pop open the trunk. G*ddamn October air! Why can't I lose the key in the middle of July, when an all-out urban assault would be so much more comfortable in mid-70 degree temps! Well, anyway, I pop open the trunk and see with glee what lay inside ......

Friday, December 5, 2008

Top 25 SF Movies

Saw this link on a blog I frequent, and was instantly intrigued:

Top 25 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time

Spending about fifteen minutes in between notarizing this and signing that, answering this call and handing out this Fedex, I came up with my own impromptu list of the Top 25. However, my list should be qualified not as the “Greatest” but more like “My Favorite Bestest,” though I’m sure there’s some overlap.

Here’s my list in no order except as they came to me, again, I stress, off the top of my head with no cheating.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers
This Island Earth

Star Wars
Close Encounters
The Empire Strikes Back
The Return of the Jedi
The Blob

The Matrix
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
War of the Worlds (1953)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1957)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Godzilla (1951)
Godzilla vs. King Kong
The Thing (1951)
The Thing (1982)

Escape from New York
It Came from Beneath the Sea
The Road Warrior
Jurassic Park

Now, let’s see how I did.

10 on my list were on their top 25. But, 7 of my top-10 agreed with their top-10. What does this say? That after a pretty much indisputable ten or so flicks things can get pretty subjective. I’m scratching my head over some of their later picks. I mean, Galaxy Quest? Good movie, yes, and funny, too, but top 25 of all time? Tron? 12 Monkeys? Brazil? These are part of the Top 25 Sci-Fi Movies of All Time?

My biggest head-slapping faux pas was leaving off the Terminator movies. Yes, they definitively belong on any sane fan’s list. Both of them, though I’m more than a little partial to T2. And I’d include Predator in there, somewhere, too. I’d probably put T2 and Predator on my list and take off the first Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie and It Came from Beneath the Sea. Both were childhood favorites, but I think they’d both respectfully relinquish their place on my list to Arnold’s two flicks.

Well, that was interesting. Now, back to work. Where’d my stapler go?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sick Day

I've been battling a chest infection for nine days now. Coughing, mucus, periodic dizziness, fatigue. Nothing seems to help. Eating right, plenty of fluids, plenty of bed rest, laying off the alcohol over the weekend. I think I'm on the upswing, when suddenly my symptoms worsen. The only bright spot is that I don't seem to have infected my family.

They sent me home from work today.

Wow. That's never happened to me. I felt so incredibly guilty (thank you mom!). But I finished my pressing tasks and headed out the door by 10:30. I surrendered and went to the pharmacy and bought Robitussin syrup. Took some when I got home; it seemed to alleviate my cough (my sides actually ache and my throat is bloody raw from a week-and-a-half of throat-clearing involuntary coughing). Wife left for work, after ordering me to do no work (but the backyard still needs raking!).

I got into sweats and an old t-shirt, made myself some manhattan clam chowder, watched the best parts of Borat on DVD. I took a long, hot bath, and finished reading The Lovers. I'll review it tomorrow - it's worth it. Then, I decided to lay down for a little bit and wound up sleeping two hours. I never used to be able to nap during the day, but the older I get, the more my body seems in favor of it. I'm starting to enjoy that weird half-asleep feeling of panic when you come out of delta and are not sure what time it is, who you are, why you're sleeping or what you should be doing. That happened twenty minutes ago.

I do feel better. Hopefully this will lead to better productivity, but, yes, I know, my body's telling me to take better care of it.

Message received.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cor Cordium

by Algernon Charles Swinburne

O heart of hearts, the chalice of love's fire,
__Hid round with flowers and all the bounty of bloom;
____O wonderful and perfect heart, for whom
The lyrist liberty made life a lyre;
O heavenly heart, at whose most dear desire
__Dead love, living and singing, cleft his tomb,
__And with him risen and regent in death's room
All day thy choral pulses rang full choir;
O heart whose beating blood was running song,
__O sole thing sweeter than thine own songs were,
____Help us for thy free love's sake to be free,
True for thy truth's sake, for thy strength's sake strong,
__Till very liberty make clean and fair
____The nursing earth as the sepulchral sea.

Poem that’s always fascinated me, though I don’t think I truly understand it. Yes, I know what Swinburne is saying, per se, but I haven’t mastered it in a sense of internalizing it. Does that make sense? I didn’t think so. I don’t think I even know what I’m trying to say. Other than that it is a beautiful poem. Other-worldly, almost beyond what mankind is capable. What images, what alliteration, what a celebration of visions! It’s even aesthetically pleasing to the eye simply looking at it printed on the page. A poem to be memorized.

“Cor Cordium” is the inscription on Percy Bysshe Shelley’s tomb. An interesting myth (allegedly Shelley told his friends but I do not know whether he committed it in writing in any letter) is that Shelley met his doppleganger. His twin. He met the creature (creature? man?) in Italy. It silently pointed to the sea, to the Mediterranean. A few months later, just before his 30th birthday, Shelley was to drown upon those waters in a boating accident.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Flat-out Stupidity

Back in those carefree 80s, my old pal Rich commented on a couple of celebrities forced to declare bankruptcy after tumbling from the heights of having it all. “Just give me a million dollars,” he finished. “I promise I won’t lose it. Not a cent.”

Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Sometimes it isn’t up to you, Ricardo, as we’re seeing in today’s economic climate. As I’ve been seeing monitoring my 401k account. But I agree with the gist of his remark. How can you lose it all? How can you throw it all away?

I just finished reading a newspaper article on Plaxico Burress’ current legal problems. I shake my head. What’s wrong with people like him? They have it all, often just handed to them, and they just don’t care. They think the rules don’t apply to them. Or perhaps they’re just too damn stupid to be entrusted with all the money and glory we give to them.

Do you know how much a million dollars is? Really? It’s $2,739.73 a day. A DAY! That’s a monthly mortgage payment where I live. In a couple days I could pay off all my credit card debt. One day would take care of my annual heating and electric bill. And the New York Giants reward this dope with a renegotiated contract worth $35,000,000 over 5 years. True, Burress was responsible for the game-winning TD in last years’ Super Bowl. True, despite an ankle injury, he was still the Giants’ top receiver last year. True, he’s routinely double-covered and still makes big plays. I don’t begrudge the man his money; I think he’s earned it.

It’s his flat-out stupidity that I can’t wrap my brain around.

I mean, $35 million! Let’s be simplistic in our calculations and break it down to $7 million a year. That’s equivalent to receiving $19,178.11 a day. A DAY! I’d fall on my knees and weep with joy to see that much of an increase over the course of a year. So that’s what this guy Burress is making, and all he can do is … everything he can do to see that he loses it all. Domestic disturbance calls. Restraining orders taken out against him. Failing to report police incidents to the NFL per league rules. Faking an injury. Carrying a loaded, unregistered weapon across state line and firing it in a crowded club where alcohol is present. Shooting himself in the thigh (instead of, thank God, an innocent bystander in the head or some such). Trying as best he can to get treatment while skirting laws requiring the reporting of gunshot wounds. I guess Plaxico doesn’t really value that daily 19 grand he’s earning. Maybe he thinks the money will always be there. Who knows?

I don’t know him, obviously, so don’t take this mini-rant as some sort of personal attack. What I’m trying to fathom is why anyone would act in this way when they’re making this much money. I mean, really, why?

I can’t come up with an answer, other than stupidity. Short-sightedness, instant gratification, hedonistic tendencies, peer pressure, who knows what else, but it all falls under the blanket term “stupidity.”

I think I’m with Rich on this one. Just give it to me. I won’t do anything bad. I promise.

Monday, December 1, 2008


If you go over to Cryptomundo and peruse some of the posts, particularly ones detailing videos or pictures that claim to be those of a certain massive, hairy nomadic missing link located primarily in the Pacific Northwest but allegedly seen in every state of the US and every province in Canada, you can’t help, when scanning comments, to stumble upon the term “blobsquatch.”

What is a “blobsquatch?” I think it’s obvious; if you’re clever you’ve already figured it out. But consider this: what isn’t it? It isn’t anything that can be described as:

Clear, concise, well-defined, obvious, apparent, evident, straightforward, unambiguous.

If your photo of the covert critter cannot be utilized as a visual aid in the dictionary definition for any of those previous adjectives, you’ve a blobsquatch on your hands. Practically, if I have to study a photo for longer than, say, ten seconds, or watch a video at least three or four times before I think I know what the mystery monster is supposed to be, I’m looking at a blobsquatch.

Besides, “blobsquatch” just happens to belong to that exclusive, underpopulated and awesome set of really cool words.

I thought for a while about posting some examples of blobsquatch (blobsquatches? blobsquatchi?) but decided against it. If you’re really as sad as I am and this interests you intensely, go to Cryptomundo and knock yerself out. But damned if I can help it, I just can’t get the word out of my mind.


Let’s play with some antonyms, here, for that list above of what it ain’t. In other words, what it is. How about: vague, obscure, unintelligible, ambiguous, indistinct. Works for me. What else is vague, obscure, unintelligible, ambiguous, indistinct? Hmmmm. Oh, I know!

Most of us are, some of the time. Some of us are, most of the time. I think I fall in the latter category. Shall I try to be more specific? More clear and well-defined, straightforward and unambiguous? Okay, I’ll try.

I think it has something to do with authenticity. The way those darned existentialists spoke of it. Capital-A, sometimes italicized. Sartre and Heidegger come to mind, but my sieve’s very leaky when it comes to philosophy; could be a couple other of those continental thinkers. From a religious perspective, Kierkegaard may have wrote about the problem of authenticity, or rather, the problem of living authentically. Basically, I believe they’re saying that when you fail to live your life with the full knowledge of [responsibility for your existence / death / God / whatever angle the particular philosopher is playing], you are living “unauthentically.” In essence, you is a blobsquatch, undefined, standing for nothing concrete. You’re not that city on a hill; you’re not that candle on the nightstand.

When you settle for less than you can be. When you decide not to speak out. When you file your dream away in that creaky metal drawer labeled “tomorrow.” When you drink or smoke or take drugs, or waste hours and hours in front of the electronic brainwashing time-and-money thief we call a television set. When you work at a job you despise because it pays the bills. When you stay inside because it’s raining out. When you do X because you’ve always done X and everyone you’ve know has always done X even though you’d really like to do Y. When you never spend some time alone, alone with your thoughts, and find out just what the hell you think is worth dying for.

You’re a blobsquatch.

And so am I.

Oh the humanity!