This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

52 Things Every Dallasite Must Do -- 1-10.

(in order that this post not be mind-blowingly long, I have divided it up into 5 parts.)

Dallas is a Texas town, but not nearly as Texas as it thinks it is. There’s a lot made of being a “local” Dallas-ite, and people around here wear it as a badge of honor. Dallas people think that the city is a shining example of “real Texas”, whatever that is (here’s a hint: giant belt buckles). In the outlying areas of Texas, however, they have a different view of Dallas. It is viewed as a town of wannabe New-Yorkers and transplanted “Yankees”. You know what? Those people are right. It totally is. But that doesn’t stop Dallas from coming up with arbitrary and unattainable standards of “local-ness” that they inflict on people who move there.

In that spirit, D Magazine has come up with:

52 Things Every Dallasite Must Do

Maybe you just moved here from Des Moines (or, more likely, Guanajuato). Maybe you've lived here all your life. Either way, you can't call yourself a true resident of this fair city until you've done each and every one of the following. Get to it.

(Note: In case you’re wondering, I have done exactly 8 of the 52 things. I’ve: gone to Six Flags, Unwound at the Inwood Lounge (waiting for Garden State to start), Stood in Dealey Plaza, gone to the Ballpark in Arlington, visited the Arboretum, gotten an e-mail from Mark Cuban, been to El Fenix, and sped through the Tollway. That makes me still 11/13 Yankee, I think.)

I like how they say you can’t call yourself a true resident of Dallas until you’ve done these things. They aren’t really serious about this, of course, only kinda serious. It’s not like I have to say, “Yeah, I moved to Dallas 4 years ago, but I’m still a resident of The North until I do like 10 more things. That’s when I learn the secret handshake and get the pickup and start calling minorities names behind their back. It’s all very exciting.” But there’s a grain of truth in the idea that unless you were born here, natives think you don’t really “get” Dallas. It’s like you’re an inferior species. It’s a very mild game of us vs. them, and it does exist.

There are common experiences for all people who live here in Dallas, though, whether they be native Dallasites, from Austin, from West Texas, from The North, from Arkansas, or from some foreign land. It is in this spirit of inclusion and commonality that I give you the real:

52 Things every Dallasite must do

Maybe you just moved here from someplace cold (or someplace Mexican). Maybe you’ve lived here all your life and view outsiders with a mixture of pity and mistrust. Either way, you can truly call yourself a resident of this fair city if you’ve done any one of these things within the Dallas Metro Area. See how inclusive I am? I’m like (noted Yankee Senator) Barak Obama up in here.

1. Call someone a Yankee.

Don’t worry about the fact that it’s an anachronism, or the fact that you apply it to everyone not from Texas, not just people from the Northeast. Don’t worry about that. Also don’t worry about the fact that the word originated during the Revolutionary War as a derisive term used by the British for the upstart Americans, and that the American response to this was to say, “Hells yeah, we’re Yankees!” In fact, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” was a precursor to the Toby Keith “Boot in Your A__” song that you Texans are supposed to love so much. Again, don’t worry about that. Just throw the word at them, and watch the question marks form over their heads as they look at you like you’re from another planet and try to figure out what your deal is. If they look too confused, follow it up with a “Don’t mess with Texas.” Because calling someone names and trying to intimidate them is the perfect way to show your southern “non-Yankee” hospitality.

2. Get some Health and Wealth from a Megachurch on Sunday Morning.

Dallasites view even their Sunday worship as a way to both “be cool” and “be entertained”. Several denominations have their biggest churches in the Dallas Area, some taking up whole city blocks in their quest to fill up the pews with people who crave emotional appeals to be more “committed” to the Lord (read: give the church more money) and trendy, unbiblical Theology. Try to pay no attention to the Pastor driving away after church in his Lexus with $100 bills flying out of the trunk. Now, not all the Megachurches are like this (some actually preach a non-prosperity Gospel), so you’ll have to choose wisely. Luckily, you can’t swing a cat in the Dallas Metro area without hitting one, so you’ll have many to choose from.

3. Ride with a Minority in Highland Park and Get Stopped by the Cops.

You have the opportunity to meet America’s most overzealous police department – all you have to do is get a friendly neighborhood non-white human into your car (preferably willingly) and drive down the streets of the extremely white and suspicious town of Highland Park. Watch the police officers to double-takes as they see Mr. Non-white in the car. Did I mention that these are the same people who recently cuffed and booked a 98-year-old woman? For an outstanding traffic warrant? Anyway, after they stop you, try to work up some sympathy for the condescending and cranky cops as they talk down to you – they’re probably upset that the “Robin Hood” plan has taken millions of dollars out of their school system and given it to Mr. Non-white’s system. That’s enough to make anyone a racist, don’t you think? Ahh…it’s a white thang – you wouldn’t understand.

4. Recommend a Local Chinese Restaurant That You Think is Good (but actually sucks).

It’s not that they don’t know what good Asian food should taste like – they have a P.F. Chang’s, for Pete’s sake – it’s just that all the local chains seem to use the same tepid, tasteless recipes. If you’re from Dallas, you cannot distinguish between good and bad Chinese food, apparently. Seriously, there is a restaurant in Rockford, IL (pop. 200,000) that’s twice as good as anything in the Dallas Metro Area (pop. 6 million). Every time someone recommends a Chinese place now, my wife and I just roll our eyes. If you recommend this bad food to others, you are a true Dallasite.

5. Hang Out at a Trendy Club with your Douchebag Friends.

The names of the clubs change, but the douche clientele remain the same. Dallas is a haven for affluent (not to mention the trying-to-appear-affluent) young people that tend to think the world revolves around them with their muscle shirts, overnice cars, and fake fingernails. Piaget would have a field day with these people, who never got past that infantile stage of development. Of course, to actually accomplish this task, you have to be trendy enough to get into these places. It helps to know a douchebag already, because if you don’t you’re probably not getting in. (note: the type of people I’m talking about can only be described as this abusive d-word. This is the evolution of English, people. It’s not my fault. When I use this word, everyone knows the people I’m talking about.)
If you’re not one of these affluent morons, and you somehow manage to get into Merge or Posh or Fluid or whatever the heck they’re calling the place these days, prepare for a steady diet of looks and disdain that communicates verbally and non-verbally that: you don’t belong here. This place is for us douchebags to hang out and look down on you, the Normal. Get out now before we deride you some more.

6. Break Into a Car That’s Not Yours and Steal Something.

With Dallas being the crime capitol of America, you may have some trouble find a car that hasn’t already been broken into and picked clean. Don’t worry – when you eventually find a victim, the cops will never catch you because stopping theft is an apparent waste of city and county resources. If you do end up stealing something, Dallas will blame the victim for not following proper safety procedures. The high crime rate? That’s the fault of law-abiding citizens, not the criminals and certainly not the Police. And think of it this way – every car you break the window of helps the local economy by diverting money to the burgeoning auto-glass industry.

7. Get in the Left Turn Lane in an Intersection with Stop Lights and Sit There as the Light Turns Red.

This is apparently what Dallasites are taught in driving school, and it really is simple to execute. Just don’t move. Forget about the people behind you, or the fact that you can pull into the intersection and turn left when the cars coming towards you stop at the red light (the technical term for this is “clearing the intersection”, and is just way too dangerous, even for a Texan). That’s just the sort of Yankee behavior we hate in Texas. When you do this, try not to think about the fact that you’ve just ruined traffic patterns for the rest of the drivers around you, because that’s just depressing.

8. Get Addicted to Something in Plano.

First there was heroin, then Oxycontin. What’s bedeviling the youth of Plano now? There’s only one way to find out – go up there to Plano East and ask around. People may think you’re a drug dealer, so make sure you explain to them that this is going to be for your own personal use. Also make sure to bring a lot of cash, because you never know what the addictive substance is going to be. It’s like opening a Christmas present, only inside this colorful box is lifelong addiction and broken dreams. Be sure to thank the parents of Plano for being such hands-off “friends” of their spoiled kids that they never understood that the heroin thing was their fault. It didn’t just happen to them. If they had understood, maybe the Oxycontin thing would have never happened. Their loss is your gain – go get em!

9. Yell at Your Child’s Sports Coach over Playing Time.

How are you supposed to simultaneously: live vicariously through your son (or daughter); and, win the athletic lottery, if that dunderhead coaching him keeps him on the bench for half the game? Your child is automatically better, smarter, more angelic, and more athletic than that other kid they’ve been playing. Any idiot could see that. It’s your duty to make sure the coach knows this. If you’ve been harping on it for a few weeks and nothing happens, organize a petition drive to fire the coach -- or better yet put a “for sale” sign on his lawn. That’s both inappropriately threatening and wonderfully charming. And make sure your child sees this behavior and emulates it, so he can turn out as spoiled and myopic as you are.

10. Water Your Lawn During a Torrential Rainstorm.

Dude, it is WAY too much work to flick the switch that turns off your in-ground sprinkler system, so just leave it on no matter what the weather is like. The powers that be in Dallas may want to save water during the summer, but that’s just the Yankee in them talking. It’s not going to harm the lawn, and it enables you to be way more lazy. This works especially well if the sprinkler system is not at a home but at a business or apartment complex – you can just claim you don’t want to pay someone to turn it off. It’s a budgetary decision, really. Make sure you explain that during the yearly drought when everyone’s pointing fingers in your direction.

(11-52 still to come...)

Friday, April 29, 2005

A Public Thank-You...

to Brian Riggins, who solved my Starflyer/iTunes problem by sending me the CD. When I started blogging, I had never considered its power. It never occurred to me that my incessant whining might result in people being nice to me and solving my problems. You did that, Brian, and I thank you again.

By the way, you're right -- owning the CD is infinitely preferable to "owning" an iTunes track, mainly because I can do whatever I want with it, and the packaging is cool. Would it be too much to ask though for a serial mumbler like Jason Martin to include lyrics with the CD's? I guess I'll never know all that he's singing, and I'll just have to get by with the clear non-sequiters I hear. My favorite one so far: "Is this my life? Maybe so..." followed by, "Cuz no-one ever listens -- so tell me what's the difference." I don't know what it means, but it is so true.

I really like the album, btw. It's mellow, and has the following things I never thought I would hear on a Starflyer 59 album:
  1. strings (in like 4 songs(!))
  2. jazzy-jazz organ
  3. the word "Jesus" (twice)
  4. Mattel Synsonics (sp?) Drums
It's growing on me as I speak. Write, I mean. In appreciation to all of you for what Brian did, I give you this link. I think you'll like it.

Two Words:

Don't Panic.

I've Been Waiting for this Day for a Long Time

Back in the mid-to-late 80's, video games were not the same as they are today. People had computers, but very few had color screens (I'm talking real computers here, not the Commodore 64 or Tandy Whatever). The games were presented in, at best, 640x480 monochrome. You just had to get used to green-on-black, that's just all there was to it. I mention all this because my first exposure to "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" was not from the book, but from the old Infocom text-adventure video game. For those who don't know what a text adventure game, it goes kinda like this:

A message decribing where you are and what's going on there is at the top of the screen. You are armed with only a blinking cursor, and you are expected to type commands (hence the term "text adventure"). You can go in one direction or another, look at something, hit something, etc. When you give the right command, something important will happen. If you type something like, "Combine the Africanized Bees", it will not understand you and you will get a message like, "Pardon?" If it sounds frustrating, you're right. It was. But it was also funny, and somewhat entertaining for a while. And when you got frustrated, you could just look up the right answers in the clue book that was conveniently included in the game.

So anyway, the "Hichhiker's" game was really funny. It also introduced me to Douglas Adams' world of towels, British people, random events, and bizarre worlds. He was the first to really make large-scale sci-fi comedy work (paving the way for movies such as Men in Black). I read the books soon after (at this point only the first three had come out.. books romantic four and nihilistic five I read when I was in college), and fell in love with them. This is my favorite book, and it has become a movie starring Tim from The Office. I've been waiting for this for almost 20 years, and it happens at 12:05CST. Will I be disappointed? Will I be exhilarated? Will I be repulsed? Nobody knows...yet.

I don't know how big of a movie this will turn out to be, money-wise. It seems like every single Star Wars nerd I've ever known has also been enamored of Hitchhiker's, so it could be big. Will all the people who stood in line in their home-made Chewbacca costumes get hyped for this? I just don't get that vibe from America right now. It's opening against XXX2, and I don't know what that will mean for it. Mos Def vs. Ice Cube -- which will hip-hop fans want to see? Has any African-American ever read the Hitchhiker books? If it doesn't beat XXX2, I'll be kind of disappointed, but not surprised. America, after all, is dumb.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Great Developments of Today

First of all, I found this interesting web site -- They blog stuff about TV and have people comment on it. They wrote a classic tongue-in-cheek article about how Arrested Development should be cancelled, and (judging by the comments afterward) about half the people who read it got the sarcasm. Of course, you never know when the commenters themselves are being sarcastic themselves, so it's all a big postmodern mess. It's an interesting battle of the humorless vs. the mockers. I tend to side with the mockers, as you might have noticed.

Also, American Idol is being rocked by scandal after scandal, kind of like the Green Bay Packers. At least something is rocking that show. More on this when it all goes down.

At work today I got some news that relates to an ongoing investigation, so I can't share it. I will say that it relates to a police raid in Bedford, a suburb of Dallas, and that I'm very glad I kept good shipping records. That doesn't make any sense, I know, but I've beent shaking my head over it all afternoon.

On a final note, this happened in my delivery area. It's a fatal robbery, for those who won't or can't register to see the article. At least they caught the guys who they think did it. By the way, for those that remember my pizza delivery 2-part post -- this apartment complex is right next door to Copper Scum.

Fun Facts about the Columbine Tragedy

Ok, it's not the anniversary of Columbine or anything -- that was on weed day/hitler's b-day, April 20th. But I feel the need to get these facts out, since there are a lot of misconceptions about the events of that day. Consider this the first part of our discussion of Zero Day and Elephant, two movies that prominently feature Columbine-style school shootings. A great site to check out (if you have some time to waste) is this Denver Post site, which has links to every story they ever printed about the shootings before April 7, 2001. I mean, it's got just about anything you can think of, from every angle imaginable. Also check out this even better expose from Sept. 1999 that exposes many of the myths surrounding the shootings. Who knew was good for something?

I don't know why this particular event has such a morbid fascination for me. There have certainly been much bigger and weirder tragedies since, but something about Columbine has always gotten to my core. I remember wanting to know the exact timeline when it happened. Maybe it was the fact that my then near-wife was teaching high school when it happened. Maybe it was the video of students pouring out of the windows of the school. Maybe it was the spineless cops who just made a perimeter outside and waited. Whatever the reason, I present to you now some facts about Columbine that you may not know (warning -- this is not for the faint of heart. This is some serious horror.):
  • There's a scene in Elephant where the killers are walking towards the school building and they pass a kid walking the opposite way, and they tell him to leave and not come back. This actually happened -- On his way towards the school, Eric Harris saw his "friend" Brooks Brown and told him to leave "because he likes him".
  • The original plan was much, much worse -- the actual Columbine tragedy represents bad improvisation on Harris' and Kleibold's part. They planted duffel bags full of timed explosives in the cafeteria. The bombs were to go off at 11:17am, killing most of the 488 people inside the room. They planned to then stand outside the cafeteria and shoot those who were still alive and trying to escape. The bombs never went off (we don't know why they didn't, btw), so they got out guns and just started shooting.
  • The first Sherrif's deputy got there before Kleibold and Harris got inside the school. They exchanged gunfire.
  • They planted a bomb (one that worked) about three miles from the school as a diversionary tactic. It didn't divert as much attention as they planned it to.
  • A student was on a payphone with her mother and saw Kleibold's trenchcoated arm shooting a rifle. She dropped the phone and hid in the bathroom until it Kleibold was gone, and came back out and told her mom to come pick her up.
  • By far the deadliest portion of the attack came in the library, where kids were hiding under tables -- 10 dead and 12 more injured. These were the last of the killings, though Harris and Kleibold made eye contact with several other students in walking around the school after this.
  • They tried to detonate the bombs in the cafeteria later by shooting at them, and futzing with them. They never went off.
  • There's a scene in Zero Day where the killers taunt a student before fatally wounding him. That happened, in the library, except in real life they decided not to kill him.
  • Remember Cassie Bernall, the girl who answered Kleibold and Harris' question, "Do you believe in God" and was shot for it? Never happened, probably. This is under some dispute, but the police and investigators believe that the story about Bernall actually happened to another girl, Valeen Schnurr. This girl told the killers she believed in God, and they mocked her and left her alone. She wasn't killed. Cassie Bernall was just a tragic random victim of maniacal killers. Like I said, all this is under dispute.
  • Kleibold and Harris killed themselves shortly after noon in the cafeteria. Just two minutes before this, the SWAT team entered the school using an outdated floor plan. They expected the cafeteria to be on the East side of the building, and all the killing was on the West side. This is one reason for the huge delays in the the rescue of wounded victims. They finally reached the library and found Harris and Kleibold at 3:22pm.
  • Unlike in Elephant, both shooters committed suicide. Eric Harris did not shoot Kleibold. There was some confusion about this because of the surveillance tape, which is unclear.
  • There were a bunch of lawsuits filed by various victim's families over the tragedy(all of which were thrown out eventually), the most interesting being the one filed by the family of Dave Sanders, the teacher who died from his wounds hours after the shooting had stopped. The SWAT team finally reached him at 2:40 (this is from the police report, mind you -- the lawsuit alleges it was more like 4pm), and sat there with him waiting for the paramedics to arrive, which they never did. He was dead by the time they tried to evacuate him, 20-30 minutes later. The police and patholigists have said he would have died anyway because of his neck wound.
  • Another lawsuit alleged that one of the students killed outside was actually killed by a police bullet.
  • Yet another lawsuit alleges that a police sharpshooter saw Harris and Kleibold commit suicide, meaning the police knew they were dead at 12:08. This lawsuit also says that the same sharpshooter had a clear shot at Harris earlier, but was told not to shoot by a supervisor.
  • Yet another lawsuit alleges that the 10 library deaths could have been prevented had the 911 operator (in the now-famous gunfire-ridden 911 call by the librarian) not told the librarian to keep the students there and that help was on the way, which it wasn't.
  • When the SWAT teams got into the building, there had been reports of a team of 6-8 shooters in body armor, along with snipers on the roof. The sniper on the roof turned out to be an air conditioning repairman who was hiding. Police have determined there was no third shooter as was originally speculated because of the guy on the roof.
  • The SWAT teams had trouble communicating with each other and the police outside because each jurisdiction's radio equipment was different and incompatable.
  • The SWAT team had to deal with fire alarms and emergency flashing lights going off everywhere. When they finally got janitor to turn off the alarm, they heard hundreds of abandoned cell phones ringing as family members were calling students to see if they were ok. Creepy.
  • Kleibold and Harris made a list of 67 "targets" at the school...none were among the victims.
  • Thirteen months before the attacks, Brooks Brown's parents alerted officials to death threats Harris had made against their son, as well his homemade hateful web site. After the massacre, the police investigated Brooks Brown as a possible co-conspirator (and the sheriff publicly named him as such). The made the Browns quite upset, to say the least. Brown was later exonerated.
  • Remember the Trench Coat Mafia, the group that was supposed to have "grown" the two killers? They weren't really members of it. There is also no evidence that Eric Harris was gay, or that Marilyn Manson pushed the boys into a muderous spree.
  • Robyn Anderson, a longtime friend of Kleibold's, bought the guns used in the rampage at a gun show. She had no knowledge of what they were planning to do with them, and went with Kleibold to the prom 3 days before the killings.
  • Oh, and the killers skipped their 6am bowling class that morning. Michael Moore was inaccurate -- imagine that.
So now you know, and knowing is half the battle. The other half is finding out why Kleibold and Harris did it. People are calling it indiscriminate hate. It may have been preventable if parents or authorities had done things differently, but that doesn't make it any less disturbing. The kids were sociopaths -- that's the real problem and horror of it all.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Still News Wednesday

Here's the only news that's interesting to me today:

Yet another deadly train accident, this time in Sri Lanka, which I'm sure is beautiful but like most places in the world conflict and people have turned it into a toilet. The bus driver was actually swerving around the gate in order to make it across the tracks, and is now in jail. I just learned about train gates in my driver's safety course. Did you know that they only extend over half the road so that drivers on the tracks will be able to escape trains by going forward? That's right, I passed.

This is threatening to make that "That's why I went to Beirut -- to find some peace!" joke in the first Naked Gun movie obsolete. Could it be that the operation that cost so many lives in Iraq is paying dividends now? I'm not going to call Bush a genius, but...well, there's too much to say about that in this confined space. I will say that perhaps the defining quality about this current Bush is his willingness to look bad. He's not afraid to take heat for things, some of which are out of his control. For more on that, see this photo of him holding the Saudi Crown Prince's hand. remember Fahrenheit 9-11 and Moore's accusation that the Bushes and the Saudis were in bed together? It's like the whole first half of the movie. Anyway, do you think that Bush would have let himself be photographed like that 2 years ago? No way, dude. Bush doesn't care about anything but getting his agenda through congress these days. It's not like he can be re-elected, right? I'm sure we will be hearing more on this.

Good news for my friend who works at Boeing, and for all of us that takes trips to his house to play video games and eat garbage food for 3 days -- Air India has ordered some planes!

Gosh, the news is boring today. Nokia's opening a new line of sugar phones for us to not buy. Also, Microsoft is starting to get everyone ready for it's next operating system, which I'm sure will be the most amazing advance since Windows 95, because that's what they always say. It's code-named "Longhorn" right now, but I'm sure they will end up giving it a more generic name, like Windows Smith.

The Empire Strikes Back was voted the best of the Star Wars movies by some guys. At some point Star Wars became A New Hope. Notice the new trilogy at the bottom. Revenge of the Sith isn't even out yet, and it still beat the first two movies.

Speaking of movies, Hitchhiker's comes out on Friday. There is nothing that can keep me from seeing it on my lunch hour...nothing! I wonder what critical reaction will be like. There's a very good chance that a lot of critics won't really "get" it, or will go the opposite way and see the movie as a pale imitation of the books (for a curious example of both at once, see this review from the Village Voice). So far, the tomatometer is at 60%, which I'm taking as a good sign. You know me -- as long as the movie's funny, I'll enjoy it.

I'm tired of news now. Go home, you people.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I hate posting at night

Driving school online turns out to be a tremendous beating. I am currently listening to a flash presentation on the difference between the "you are approaching a crosswalk" sign and the "you're at a crosswalk, fool!" sign. Did you know that Texas law gives the right of way to pedestrians? I've been pancaking them like a pre-NFL Tony Mandarich all this time. Boy, do I feel like a fool.

It goes on and on with these driving points, some of them deadly obvious and some of them dirty police lies. The worst part is it has to be a six-hour course, so they make you take a certain amount of time on each section before you can move on to the next one. This is to punish me for making that rolling stop. Clearly, I need all this information so I don't make rolling stops anymore. When driving today, I found myself judging other drivers for their "dangerous" behavior. This is just like the Assemblies of God all over again. I'm only sorta kidding, btw.

My favorite paragraph so far:

Common Mistakes When Entering from the Acceleration Lane

Do not suddenly slow down or stop when you enter the acceleration lane. You may cause a rear-end collision.

Do not merge too slowly. Travel at the same speed as other vehicles in the traffic flow.

You hear that, Dallas? I am vidicated by my driving school! Stop merging at 40mph, people. I'm judging you.

My wife and I watched two things tonight: Zero Day and the latest episode of The Office.

This episode of The Office was the best yet. It's still not good enough, but this time they kinda captured the tension of the original show, although they're doing things with the Jim/Pam relationship I'm just not prepared for. In fact, I'll state right now that the Jim/Pam/Roy bizarre love triangle is the worst part of the show. And this after going through the Tim/Dawn fun, which was often the best part of the original Office.

I'm also ready to declare Michael Scott to be No David Brent. Where Brent was a genius comic creation, Scott is just a jerk with some mannerisms. The guy has got some good things down, like the facial expressions and the inability to deal with conflict. But Scott's simply not British enough. There, I said it. Something is lost in the "translation" across the ocean. Now, if they would install Ricky Gervais into that boss' position, British as all get-out, and put these American workers under him, that could have been really funny. But we'll never get to see that, because I'm a parts coordinator and not a TV producer.

As my wife has said, Dwight is good precisely because he's not trying to be Gareth. He's fun to make fun of, and he bought a purse this week to impress a girl. The episodes are getting better, which I'm sure means the show is toast.

Zero Day will have to be compared and contrasted with the Gus Van Sant film Elephant (because the two are attacking the same exact issue in the exact same way, making the same exact points and using the same casting and acting techniques), but I don't have time to do that properly now. I may not ever, at this rate. The main bit in Elephant is the natural acting and the hypnotic "cameras following the person walking for 5 minutes even though this isn't Gerry" shots interspersed throughout the movie. The main bit in Zero Day is the one I like to call the "Blair Witch framing device", where the moive purports to be made up of edited video footage shot by the characters themselves. Both movies follow the stories of Columbine-style pairs of teen school shooters, and end in bloodbath/suicides. Both movies make the point that no one single thing drove the kids to murder, but they make the point in quite different ways. Now that I think about it, I must do that compare/contrast after all. Seeing as how 99% of Americans have seen neither movie, it should be a ratings classic.

Driver's Safety

Hello all,

I can't post much today because I'm using my non-work time at work to do a "driver's safety" course online. This will blast the ticket I got for a rolling stop away from me, and if the state ever sends me my driving record, we'll be free (from this part of things, at least).


Scsi drive

Monday, April 25, 2005

I just thought of something...

Shouldn't it go,

"Ah, push it, push it well...ah, push it, push it real well"??

No wonder America is going to heck in a handbasket, eh? It's a slippery slope, people. PrEttY Sooon we willl al B TypINgg LieK Dis!!!!! I heArT PuPPIezzz!!!! ;)

We deserve everything we get.

Tying Up Loose Ends

A lot of things fall by the wayside when you force yourself to post enormous timewastes like this. This post is dedicated to clearing those loose issues up so that we can move forward as a Blog. One big thing hanging over my head is last month's Austin trip, which I was planning to do as kind of a Story in Pictures, but then I realized I had only one good picture, which would make kind of a short story. I will post that picture when I go home for lunch, because it's there and not here at work. It's worth the wait, though. You'll like it.

My trip to Austin was tremendous fun. It happened to be during the second round of the NCAA Tournament (At the hotel I got to watch the entire 2-OT end of the Forest-West Virginia game that was the best game of that whole weekend, adding to the overall greatness of it), and also happened to be during Austin's biggest week, the musical fest known as South by Southwest or SXSW to those who are cool. As you looked at people there that weekend, you just had to know that many of them were actually musical.

We went to Austin to see a band play -- not in SXSW but in a bar that happened to be in the midst of SXSW but was in no way affiliated with SXSW. The bar was a mexican restaurant by day/"Americana" music stage by night. And if you're wondering what Americana is, you're not alone. I was wondering myself. It seems Americana is what used to be known as Alt-Country 10 years ago, but it has grown to encompass anything that sounds down-home or woodsy. The first band we saw was Generic Country, almost Literal Country. It was one good-haired guy with what looked like the recovering alcoholic all-star jug band behind him. Actually, they had an old guy who played the stand-up sttel guitar, and if I were a fan of Literal Country I could see liking it. The lyrics were very plain, and mostly involved workin' hard, drinkin' hard, and lovin' hard. Like I said, Literal Country.

Then the band we came to see hopped on stage. We (and by that I mean my wife Jill, and our friend/her former student Molly, and 2 of Molly's friends from Texas Tech. At least I think they were from Texas Tech. It was me and a bunch of girls, in any case. College all over again.) were there because the guitarist in the band is a former student of Jill's from Rockford Lutheran High School, Dan McMahon. I mention this because I want people to find this blog entry when he gets really famous. Anyway, the band's name is The Wandering Sons, and they floored me with how good they are.

(side note: I just heard thunder, which means that somewhere in my home, my dog is pooping. Now back to Tying Up Loose Ends)

Seriously, I was not expecting this. What do they sound like? As Jyro Xhan would say, see for yourself. It's not hard to describe, it's just hard for me to describe. They sound like a band with the name "The Wandering Sons" should sound, you know what I mean? They're blues-Americana, I guess. I've already established I don't really know what Americana is. Anyway, they're good, and you should demand to check them out. They're based out of Appleton, WI of all places. Can anything good come from Appleton? You decide.

Ok, I just thought of who they sound like -- they're like old ZZ-Top, only more acoustic and with someone who can sing.

If the hotel we stayed at was a brand of coffee, it would be General Foods International Coffees. It was like Pentecost at the complementary continental breakfast, on account of all the different languages that were being thrown down. Quick Hits about Austin, the city:
  • The Terrain: Beautiful, green, and hilly. No wonder they call this "hill country".
  • The Scene: Built completely around U of Texas and Cool Music. It's fun compared to Dallas, which is built around People With Too Much Money.
  • The Traffic/Road System: Unconscionably horrible. The city was layed out by chipmunks, apparently.
  • The People: Now, a lot of people were there just for SXSW, but it seemed like a college town, which is always interesting and good.
We made it through breakfast and made it home, and the Wandering Sons came to stay at our apartment for a night. For those of you keeping score at home, that's two cool bands that have stayed at our abode, and none at yours. They are good guys and great at the "music". I'm listening to them right now, and I don't even like old ZZ Top. Part of my enjoyment is no doubt due to the fact that I know the guitarist involved. You always like the bands that involve your friends, unless you are some sort of hyper-objective tool.

Moving way on to the NFL Draft, let me just say that Aaron Rogers holds the ball dorky. I don't know if that's good or bad, but people seem to be talking about it.

Sideways and Zero Day have been sitting in my house for over a week, waiting for me to watch it. I've already whined way too much about having no time to watch the stuff that I want. I did watch the entire first season (8 episodes) of Joe Schmo, which was awesome. My wife says it was cheesy and sappy, which it was, but it was also bizarrely earnest and real for a show built around fooling a person. What happened was, they picked the single most upstanding archetypal American "dude" and created this crazy show around him. He lived with a bunch of actors pretending to be reality show contestants, who all had their storylines that they had to live out in front of the "dude", Matt, every day. It was quite the social experiment, and Matt consistently looked like the greatest dude ever (for example, he gave a trip he had won to another "contestant" because she had been injured in a game). So, when it came time to tell him the truth about the show, all the actors were mortified because they really didn't want to hurt the guy. They all ended up loving him. That's what made the end so earnest and cheesy. It was great, though -- but don't let your kids watch it, for reasons that will become clear during the first game -- "Hands on a High-Priced Hooker". Yeah, it was on SpikeTV, so there are lots of strippers involved in the whole thing.

Meanwhile, on Alias, is the fake Sloane cool or what? This season was kind of spinning it's wheels, and then bam!, fake Sloane. Maybe he's Sloane's brother or something. Or Sark in disguise. Now that would be something, and it's speculation like this that makes the show so much fun. At least once an episode, I should think to myself, "Where do they come up with this stuff?" That's not been happening much this year (although I did think that during the whole "Freeze-dried guy" episode. Finally, they did something really cool, although they just had to bring back that big red ball with it.

And if you notice that AdBar up top moving around and becoming different, don't worry. I'm just experimenting with it to try to a) get relevant ads (unlike the constant barrage of homocon and blog hosting); and b) not cover up anything I want seen. They're now (if Blogger publishes correctly) sort of intermixed between the posts. Until I figure it out, eat it.

I think my work is done here for the day.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Concretes

About 4 months ago I downloaded some noteworthy songs from this one band, but then deleted them and forgot what the name of the band was. The reason the songs are noteworthy is the lead singer's hypnotically crappy voice. Really, that's the only proper way of explaining it. The woman singing sounds like a mental patient they let out just to put down the vocal tracks for this album.

I got the idea to use the mostly worthless iTunes to look up the band, because I remembered the chorus to one of the songs says something about "new friend". I looked up the search term "new friend", and found my band. It's The Concretes. And the woman isn't insane, she's Swedish. It all makes sense to me now. Warning: the band sucks, so don't expect to like their music. The only reason I like them is the vocal stylings, which like I said aren't good per se but are very mesmerizing. It's the aural equivalent of the proverbial train wreck. You can't stop listening even if you try.