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, May 21, 2005

VH-1 is the New Black

I don't know exactly when VH-1 became my favorite cable network, but it was probably during the Behind the Music episode featuring Styx, where white man's afrotacular group leader Dennis DeYoung (the man who came up with the disastrous and cereer-ending rock opera Kilroy Was Here) interviewed that he was hurt when kickin' guitarist Tommy Shaw later dissed him as a member of the Darn Yankees. DeYoung was all emotional about it, and clearly still hadn't realized that Kilroy was probably the most embarassing album to perform in the history of rock music. I realized at that moment the power that VH-1 had to make human beings out of the artists of my musical youth -- to "de-iconize" them. It was so fascinating to hear about these artists, and it didn't matter that all the episodes told exactly the same story. It never got old, and next year I want to see them do Rush, dang it. I mean, how many members of Neil Peart's family have to die to get that done?

(another great moment in a show chock full of great moments was when creepily calm-voiced Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx told of the time he OD'd on heroin, flatlined, was revived by doctors, and then went home and proceeded to take more heroin that same night. That story combined with TLC having to declare bankruptcy after the multi-platinum "Waterfalls" could serve as a microcosm of the whole series. And then there was the time Left-Eye burned down Andre Rison's house. And the time Vince Neil's drunk driving killed his longtime spare rock buddy. If you can only see two Behind the Music episodes in your life, please make it the Motley Crue and TLC ones.)

And this was before they came up with all new and interesting bits like the 100 Greatest Series, where they count down the 100 Greatest of whatever musical (and these days, non-musical) category they can think of, judged by predictable music critics into an arbitrary order that always seems to end with either...

Ok, I'm mad. Blogger seems to have misplaced the rest of this post, and I never type things twice -- that's how they lose their power. We'll see if this fully posts. If not, someone may die.

One last thing -- my wife wisely suggested that one-hit-wonders are such because they had one and only one good idea, and then their subsequent bad ideas failed. Of course, she also bought two A-HA albums in high school, neither of which featured "Take On Me", so take that with a grain of salt.

Matrix Revolutions recap is coming soon. I had more stuff written, but evil destroyed it like Keanu destroys acting.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Reggie Miller's Weird Head, R.I.P.

There's so much going on these days it's hard to keep track of it all -- The Sith is revenging, Survivor ended, there are bad movies to watch, Arrested Development has been picked up for next season, the NBA Playoffs are heading toward oblivion, an NBA lockout may be looming (and this time, I think it's the owner's fault), and Congress can't decide whether or not to end that most absurd of political tactics, the filibuster.

But I don't want to talk about any of that.

Last night an NBA legend ended his career with a 27-point game against the best defense in the world. That's right, I said NBA legend. Before I explain why he's worthy of the adjective legend, I have to clear something up.

Players Reggie Miller was not as good as during the prime years (about 1990-2000) of his career: Jordan*, Barkley, David Robinson (though not for very long), Hakeem, Gary Payton, Stockton**, Shaq, Kobe, Tim Duncan***. That's only 9 people, as you can see. And none of those people were better than he was during every one of those years save Jordan of course (who took 2 years off in the middle of that, so he doesn't really count). What does this mean? Reggie Miller may have been the preeminent NBA star of the 90's. Part of this is due to the fact that there was a definite down period in terms of superstar talent coming to the NBA from the late 80's to the Iverson-Marbury-Allen draft of 1995. Reggie didn't have much competition, and he capitalized on this.

His stats are great but not star quality (partly due to the fact that he played in the Defensive Dark Ages of the NBA), he's not a good defender or rebounder, he pushes off before almost every shot, and he never even developed any other secondary skill to complement his deadly shooting. He's skinny, weak, ugly, and could barely beat his sister in games of horse growing up. So why is he so great again?

Oh, yeah -- the playoffs. He is without a doubt (and I mean that) the most clutch and third most feared basketball player of our time. Only Jordan and Shaq caused more mental anguish than Reggie in his prime. Reggie made 4th quarter circus shots -- fading or leaning every which way (a major shooting no-no, btw) -- look as easy as a practice drill against air. It's hard to describe the electricity the audience felt (and still felt last night in the 4th quarter of his last game, by the way) when he burst around a pick and got his hands on the ball, pushed his defender off to create space, and let loose that arms-and-legs-flailing-shot of his. Way more often than not, that shot went in. That was the greatness of Reggie Miller -- you could defend magnificently for 3 1/2 quarters, run great offensive sets all game, and go up on the Pacers by 15, and he would just come along and erase 2 hours of hard work in a 2 minute display of insane shooting. No matter how the game was going, there was always the possiblity that Reggie would bring the Pacers back. For this, he was feared and loved, just like any large weapon.

The 25-point 4th quarter against the Knicks was maybe the greatest example of his awesomeness, but it was far from the only example. He had this Reggie electricity every playoff series. It's like the playoffs were Reggie's time, and the bigger the shot, the more likely it was to go in. This is what makes him a true legend and an eventual Hall-of-Famer.

He must also be commended for staying with one team his entire career, and that not a glamour team but the dusty Indiana Pacers. They never had enough talent to win a championship, and the people of Indiana torched his house, but he never let that drive him to a bigger stage. There's something quaint and wholesome about that, and I like it. Needless to say, we need to see more stars staying with one team their whole career, even at the end when the team is rebuilding. And yes, that's another veiled shot at George Karl and the Bucks for trading Ray Allen. I'm sorry.

* Not Pippen, which is something I'm prepared to defend to the death.
** Not Malone, which you might think is crazy, but again, I'm prepared to defend this.
*** There are some other notables missing that were as good as Reggie but not better -- Ewing, Drexler, AIDS-Magic, etc.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Is this my life? Maybe so.

I told you it would become my motto! I'm typing this from my spacious new room, with a security camera watching me at all times, unless I go to the very back corner of the room. That's where I'll have to smoke my ganja from now on. The security camera is there because of what they temporarily turned the place into while I was gone -- the "high-dollar" merchandise area. It's unlikely that the powers that be will be wasting time watching me in here unless something is stolen, in which case they will probably look back at the tapes from the time in question and confirm that I indeed did not steal anything. So the camera means exoneration for me, unless they are watching me at all times and seeing me constantly posting to this blog. But they knew that already if they've been checking my internet logs like they should.

Last night I taped Alias and the season finale of Lost. As for Lost, I'm going to see if you can only watch 1/2 hour of a show's season and then pick up everything right when it gets interesting at the end. It should be an interesting experiment. My prediction? I'll give up 10 minutes into it. Alias should be fun, though -- it's a special double episode. Ooo dang. But unless there are only 21 episodes this season, I don't think it was the finale. That should be next week. And I should have my impressions of season 4 after the finale wraps everything up. So far, it's "different from but the same as" earlier seasons, which is right in sync with how the show usually is. They seem to have tried to make each episode more self-contained, with less umbrella story arcs.

For the second time in a couple of months, a site I like to download TV episodes from has cowered before the might of the MPAA. I went to the site and I saw an accursed splash page there instead of the usual friendly torrents. It's sick. If TV producers and execs would just embrace the technology of bittorrent* instead of fearing it (i.e., uploading some "official" torrents themselves with commercials -- which would effectively be "TV on demand"), they could make lots of money and make everyone happy. Instead, they're just being TV jerks about the whole thing. I found a site in Sweeden, though, that works because Sweeden's TV copyright laws work properly. I'm trying to get the Survior finale right now. Hopefully it won't be in Swedish. Although that would be funny.

*Bittorrent is a peer-to-peer technology designed to securely deliver huge downloads. It does not work by the traditional P2P search, it works through "torrents" that are like gateways to a particular file. The sites that are being closed down are "trackers", which are simply a listing of torrents. No content is hosted on these sites, it's being hosted on the computers of others who are downloading it. As you download, other people start to download from you. Cool, eh? TV doesn't think so. I suppose their main problem with it is lack of advertising revenue (since the files you get always have the commercials ripped out), but since they provide no on-demand alternative, what's a 5-nights-a-week working fool to do? Use 30-year-old VCR technology (currently my only alternative)? Why is TIVO legal but not P2P show trading? We need to make a distinction between actual stealing (making copies of a DVD and selling them at 1/3 the cost, for example) and helpful trading. The sad part is, I'm still going to buy the DVD's for Alias, The Simpsons and Arrested Development, and rent the DVD's of several other shows from Netflix. What kind of fool am I?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

All Moved In

I finally managed to get all my stuff moved into the room I should have never left. Everyone here at work is happy for me...the consensus thinks it was more ridiculous than even I thought it was. I can't tell you how many people have asked, "Why didn't they just keep you in there and build the cage where it is right now?" Only the general manager can answer that. It's very quiet here in service today, I kind of feel like I'm still over in that drab little room. Except I'm not.

I also finally have a handle on the new mangerial situation at Papa John's. The problem, as always, is that Papa John's couldn't make up their minds. They tried two other mangers here before settling on the Assistant and Shift we currently have. In the last week I have learned an important thing about them: They both hate their jobs and Papa John's in general. This is important, because this makes them more receptive to may own brand of rebelling against Papa's stupid policies. They also both plan on quitting very soon. Individually, here's what I know (or what they have told me, anyway):

Assistant just got back from his tour of duty in Iraq. He said this last Sunday after being on the phone with a particularly trying customer: "I've never felt more like killing myself than right now...and I just got back from Iraq!" He's had 20 grand in the bank after his time in Iraq, which he blew in what sounds like 2 weeks. I have no idea how he did that, except he does have a $1500 stereo system in his car, so there you go. He's got a girlfriend who he says is super smart and makes him jealous with how together her life is. He also hates Guy the General Manager (as all the other managers do because he does nothing) and the new Shift Manager, whom he sees as worthless.

Shift likes swords and renaissance fairs and being effeminate. He told me he was a renaissance fair champion in swordplay or something, which makes him either talented or a braggart or both. He has no idea how to run a shift...he uses words like "deployment" to mean "the things you have to do before you go home." I keep expecting him to hand me a grenade and deply me on the Domino's front. I cannot emphasise enough how bad he is at running a shift. He does no work, talks way too much about nothing important, and often just stares at people for no reason. Yeah, he's weird.

I've got to start arranging everything in my room now for easier use. It's so nice to be back home.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Today is Moving Day

I end this national nightmare today by moving back to the room I never should have left in the first place. I want to thank all the people who made this move possible. Namely, myself.

Cheap Trick is coming to Richardson on Saturday, playing some wildflower festival that I'm sure will get in the way of my delivery driving. They're discussing Cheap Trick on the Ticket, asking why Rick Nielsen needs to play a different guitar on every song, and why the drummer always has to have a cigarette in his mouth. Any of you Rockford people know the answer? Is it just a stylistic thing? Is that a facetious question?

Ok...gotta start moving.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wild Mood Swings

I hover and dip between depression and wild optimism. I don't think it has anything to do with either caffeine or a chemical imbalance (which would naturally be the main suspects). I realize this may or may not be unusual; it is certainly unusual for me.

Last night at Papa John's was a roller coaster of emotions, only to complete the metaphor you need midgets with buckets of some foul substance and wooden spoons whipping the substance at your head as you pass by on said roller coaster. I guess it wasn't that bad...I was too moody to process things correctly. I know your life is worse than mine and I have no reason to complain about anything. But I do complain. To myself.

I also realize that this post is strange -- it involves depression, midgets, and a philosophy of complaining. I'm really just trying to explain why I didn't update this weekend.

I love you all. Here's a story that involves wine, since I saw Sideways last week and like the rest of America am intrigued by the wine. Now you can buy it directly from winemakers in other states! Let the alcoholism commence.