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.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

My Struggle Against Quotation Punctuation Rules

It has come to my attention that I look "stupid" because of the revolutionary way I work with quotation marks. Seriously, if doctors worked on disease the way I've worked on punctuation, there would be no need for hospitals. You see, I've found a way to fix something that was broken in English ever since some old lady decided arbitrarily one day that periods and commas go inside quotation marks. That old lady's name is Old-School Grammar, and I will today nail the last nail in her coffin.

There are 2 main uses for quotation marks in English. The first and oldest one is the direct quote. Here are some examples of this ancient form of communication:
  • The smart man said, "I hate grammar."
  • "Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch," clarified the stupid man.

As you can see, the punctuation marks clearly belong inside the quotation marks, because the marks apply to the person who is speaking. He or she is completing his or her thought. Admittedly, I have been confused by this in the past. Now that I've thought it through, this all makes sense. This is standard, and everyone loves it.

The second use of quotation marks in English today is really two different sides of the same use. We use quotation marks to denote the title of something, i.e.:
  • I just read "My Struggle Against Quotation Punctuation Rules".
  • All of them support "neighborhood watches", where people watch neighborhoods.
Or, we use it to ironically put the title or status of things in doubt, i.e.:
  • These old insane ladies with their beehive hairdos and potbelly stoves are the "arbiters of language".
  • VH-1 decided the "Top 50 Songs" using their "pool of experts", namely, 5 rock critics who are living in the 70's and a janitor named Stan.
Now, don't be scared. Let me explain this to you. The punctuation in cases where you are titling something still belongs to the sentence proper, not what's inside the quotation marks. Therefore, you need to end the sentence, not the quotation. The sentence and the quotation are two different things, and they both need to be punctuated. The only reason we don't punctuate the end of a direct quote is that it's redundant. Check it out:
  • The smart man said, "I hate grammar even more now.".
There you're finishing both the quote and the sentence, but since you've already stopped the quote with a period, another period after the quote is redundant and stupid, and looks like a little guy with a mohawk. It's proper in terms of logic, but improper in terms of form. We won't stand for it.

Now, I know this goes against everything you English weenies have been taught, but the only reason you think that is you've been brainwashed into thinking something looks "right" or "wrong". Did that sentence look wrong to you? Really? I don't even know if this is a fight I'm willing to go to the mat for anyway. I'll probably get tired of hearing crap from people who think I'm just a moron who doesn't know some arbitrary rules that enable English weenies to think they're better than everyone else. But my logic makes sense, right? Come on, people.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Things I Saw on My Second-to-last Delivery Tonight, in Chronological Order.

1) Three girls, aged approx. 5-11, sitting on top of a full-size van in their pajamas, brandishing pillows and blankets as if on a sleepover.
2) A possum.
3) An apartment full of young Asian adults, all of whom were sitting on the floor since there was no furniture in the living room. There was a mat on the floor that people were playing cards on. The mat was bright blue.

Non-Nude News For You

In the first test of my O:POA, I will point out that another semi flipped over on I-35 yesterday. I don't think anyone died, or I'd be able to find a story on it. I just needed to point that out.

Whoa! Yesterday the Supreme Court said that state laws allowing "medical marijuana" are a violation of the Federal Government's fuhrership over interstate commerce. Ill potheads are sad, but they should take heart -- this ruling prevents states from making whatever crazy commerce laws they want, right? There are a bunch of positive and negative editorials about the decision on Google News right now, divided mainly by whether or not they think smoking pot counts as commerce between the states. I...don't care.

Speaking of laziness, I overslept this morning. It was sort of a classic oversleeping -- I was too tired and my alarm just didn't wake me until I was ready to be awakened. Because of this, my life is an hour late today. Everything's gotta be pushed back an hour. I'm like on lazy person's daylight savings time or something.

Australio-Chinese relations are in jeopardy as Australia finds out there are like 1000 Chinese spys "walking about" the Australian countryside. Apparently, the two countries have been lucratively trading for quite some time. My question: Do we (the free world) really need China? More and more they seem like the aliens in Mars Attacks, just a bunch of murderous bastards who are pretending (not very well) to be peaceful. I mean, they're communists who: outlaw religions, enforce conformity, crush any democratic freedoms, and suck all the gas out of the market, driving prices up. Why is nobody talking about this?

Imagine waking up to a human leg in your yard. Then imagine the set of circumstances that would lead you to try to stow away in the wheel well of a plane. Now put those two imaginations together and you get this. Crazy.

Since gaining its independence in 1825, Bolivia has had more than 200 coups and counter-coups. Today the capital of Bolivia, La Paz, lies embroiled in one of them. Can't a country of 9 million people that produces up to 1/3 of the world's cocaine just get along? We've got cities that are bigger than that. Sheesh. What a mess. (note -- nearly every sentence in that news story is great, you should really check it out).

Anne Bankroft's leg died at age 73 today. You know, Jill and I saw the last half of The Graduate a couple of weeks ago on AMC and it wasn't half bad. Sure, the Simon and Garfunkel stalker-music was a little overwhelming, and the daughter's actions made no sense (maybe I missed this -- why did she like Dustin Hoffman's character in the first place? Did he save her from a burning building at the beginning of the movie?), but it was pretty good, and Anne Bankroft was a big reason for that. She captured the essence of a stockinged leg attached to an unhinged lady. Epth Nation salutes Anne's leg as well as the rest of her, born Anna Maria Louise Italiano. Here's a good summary of the story.

The Apocalypse the NBA so deftly avoided last year is now upon us -- San Antonio vs. Detroit, two defensive-minded and boring teams in the NBA Finals. The good news for the NBA is that the Heat-Pistons Game 7 was the highest rated conference final game in history. The bad news is that these two teams will be grinding out games with scores like 72-65 and 78-70, causing potential NBA fans to throw up and change the channel. This is a series for NBA purists, who like to see a boxing match erupt on the low blocks and crisp passing on the outside, leading to a forced shot with 2 seconds left on the shot clock. Most experts are predicting Spurs in 6. So do I. No more sports prediction iconoclasm for me, at least for a while.

Ever since I saw that Alias episode with the Russian spies living in that fake US neighborhood, delivering pizzas has never been the same. Every time I deliver to a house with a young family that's just a little too stereotypically American -- cute couple, two kids, pool, "God Bless America" periphernalia lining the walls -- I think they might secretly be Russian spies. I imagine them closing the door and saying stuff to each other in Russian, then taking the pizza downstairs and eating it on a table that has a large battle map of their neighborhood. They then plan which house they're going to bomb next -- all while eating Papa John's pizza and listening to Elvis on the stereo. Yeah, sometimes my imagination gets away from me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Driving + Dallas = Death

Over the last few weeks there have been quite a few bizarre and severe accidents involving cars/trucks/semis on the Dallas highway system. Yesterday, a semi flipped over, causing much spillage of dangerous substances. A large section of freeway heading out of downtown was closed for most of the afternoon. That's right, the semi flipped on to its side. I don't know if it was shaped like a turtle or what, but when those things flip over they have a tendency to stay that way for a while, legs kicking helplessly in the air (actually, there's a picture with that news story that shows exactly how it happened -- the driver must have been going too fast and the truck just flipped from the force of the turn. Why a tanker truck driver doesn't know his own truck well enough to prevent this from happening is beyond my comprehension).

There have been two other "accidents" involving semis in the past two weeks, both involving sensitive cargo that exploded while the truck was in the middle of moving traffic. The worst one happened while the truck was going over a bridge, and that bridge was so damaged by the explosion that the road (which is part of a major thoroughfare, btw) is now closed indefinitely. Other big accidents not involving semis or explosions have rocked the city too -- like the time a teenage girl with no driver's license stole a car and drove it right through the front window of a day care center, injuring several kids and causing many Dallas parents to be even more freaked out than usual. Can you imagine being a kid playing in a day-care center and having a car crash through the front window, striking several of your little playmates, maybe even striking you, with its mean-looking grill flying in through the window at an impossibly fast rate, glass flying everywhere? Yikes.

I don't know what all these accidents say about Dallas, but I will be sure to mention every big one in my brand new project -- Operation: Point Out Accidents. O:POA is a public service I'm providing at no cost because it will have no benefit to anyone.

In other news, don't panic, but the nice family living next door to us was the victim of a home-invasion robbery at gunpoint early last Friday morning. At 4am or so Jill and I woke up to the smell of bacon and someone knocking on that apartment door, which turned out to be the cops. I don't know why the fuzz was knocking on the door, I just know the victims weren't answering. It turns out the family had left the patio door non-deadbolted like idiots (they always seemed to be asking for a burglary -- they would stay up all night and never close their blinds. I don't know if they were nocturnal or what. As our other neighbor pointed out after the whole thing happened, "I know what color their couch is, and I'm not even stalking them." Still, we can't blame the victim, no matter how fun it might be), and two men with shotguns invaded and robbed them. One of the robbers held the wife at gunpoint while the husband was made to drive to an ATM. Their plan failed when the guy was so nervous he failed to get the PIN right three times and the machine took his card. One of the victims had head injuries after being shotgun-whipped, and I haven't seen the family since.

The next night there was some sort of sheriff's deputy or security dude patroling our section of the apartment complex when my wife got home at like 8pm. We haven't seen him since then either. I guess the state of emergency is over, and there is, as they say, nothing to see here. That last time somebody got jacked in our parking lot, they had a complex-wide safety meeting with punch and cookies where cops played a rousing game of blame the victim like they always do around here. The police in this area are like a bunch of modern-day Pontius Pilates, falsely washing their hands of the whole "crime problem" thing so they can sleep at night. This attitude flows down from the Mayor of Dallas (who contends that if people would just be a little smarter around here our nation-leading crime rate would go down) all the way to the cops of Richardson (who contend that if they could just keep those Dallas scum out of town everything would be happy and crime-free). All of them support "neighborhood watches," where ordinary citizens do the cops' job for them by looking out their windows and trying to figure out if those black people in the parking lot are doing anything potentially illegal. At least that's what it seems like to me.

So if you see two black males, about 6' 200lbs, walking around with shotguns in the Dallas or Richardson area, you'd better arrest them, because the cops sure won't.

The thing is, when something like this happens so close you get scared -- you think, "what if this happened to me?" and you know you need to do anything possible to make sure it doesn't happen to you or your loved ones. You start looking around as you get out of your car, making sure there are no unsavory-looking people (of different races, or who are dirty, or who are wearing weird clothes, or even who have excessive beard stubble) around. You lock yourself in your apartment and only come out via the internet or peeking out the window. Instead of a sunny, life-filled world, you see only a world that has the potential to hurt you. Obviously, this cannot go on for very long without driving you completely nuts, and you end up moving further away from the big city just to get away from the crime. Thus you have in every big city the phenomenon of "white flight", which brings with it the urban sprawl and the strip malls and the soccer moms and the mini vans and the city fracturing and the erosion of the tax base and the teenage boredom and the lashing out and the segregation and the "Desperate Housewives." Moving to the crime-free suburbs brings all these soul-maiming things and more, but the people there don't care because they would rather worry about falling into a suburban materialistic malaize than worry about being jacked by someone hiding in the shadows. People can't live where they don't feel safe.

That's it, I'm moving to Frisco, TX -- pop. 33,714 and growing. It's got a huge mall, minor-league baseball, and plenty of gated apartments I can live in without having to discuss neighborhood watch plans with my neighbors. If Frisco were a color, it would be as white as an egg. Clean, pure, new, sparkly, and dull -- just the way I like it.

And no, not even I know if that last paragraph is serious or sarcastic. These are confusing times, ok?

Monday, June 06, 2005


I've been exploring the Audioblogs of the world here today, and I've gotta admit the concept is pretty interesting. It's basically a bunch of Brian Rigginses (sorry, Brian, but you know it's true) who get new music, comment pithily on it, and provide a free mp3 sample so we all can see if we like it. Sometimes they have older and out-of-print stuff there, too. Here's a link to a blog that compiles a list of these "Audioblogs".

Today I've found: Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" (without the video with the disembodied manequin parts that freaked me out so as a child) and a new song by that band with the insane Swedish lead singer, "The Concretes." Three Cheers for the internet!

Also, I watched the last half of the depressing Bjork musical Dancer in the Dark. My wife tells me I came in right as it got depressing, so my view on the movie might be a little skewed. I don't want to even think about it and explain the plot to you -- that's how sad it was. Bjork was good, but here's the thing: When I wrote the word "musical" up there you may have glossed over that and thought I couldn't really mean "musical". But you're oh so wrong. The movie's 2 hour and 15 minute running time is padded with occasional song-and-dance numbers that are eminently fast-forwardable and totally detract from the depressing story.

Look, I know the whole point of the movie is that Bjork escapes into a musical daydream-fugue whenever she hears any beat. It's about escaping and blindness*. I totally get that. But musicals (much like country music) are not a legitimate art form, and I don't want them cluttering up my TV screen. Ever. It's just a personal bias I have -- much like some Jesus-haters can't watch any entertainment by Mel Gibson since he made the Passion of the Christ, I can't watch any movie where people inexplicably** break into song.

The only good thing I can say about Dancer in the Dark is that it draws you in -- I just had to stay with it until the end to find out if her son got that stupid operation. It's really nothing more than a glorified Lifetime movie with bad songs. In fact, if the jep-loving ladies at Lifetime put down the Doobie Slims long enough to write a musical, Dancer would be the end product. I don't know if that's good or bad, I just know that not even an army of me could hold me down long enough to watch it again.

* Oh, did I not mention Bjork was blind in the movie? And that she saves all her money (and later makes a bunch of bad choices) so her son can have an operation that will save him from her family's genetic blindness? And that the scum she lives with takes advantage of her blindness and steals her money to pay for his wife's spending habits? And that he begs her to kill him in order to get her money back, which she does and gets a murder conviction (as well as a rousing courtroom musical number) for it? And that a prison guard totally develops an Icelandic crush on her in prison? And that she ends up making bad choices that lead to her execution? And that her son ends up getting the operation, causing her to break into song as she's being hung? I just had to tell somebody all this. I feel better now.

** In this movie, it was explained that she was escaping into a dream world because her world sucked so bad. This makes her totally apenuts, but at least it made narrative sense. That didn't stop me from hating it every time a song started, though. Three Cheers for the concept of Fast Forwarding!

Sunday, June 05, 2005

New Post on Sunday

A Couple of Movies I Just Saw or Resaw

In The Soup

This won the Best Picture award at Sundance the year it came out, beating out a superior Buscemi-intensive film, Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino. It tells the story of Adolpho Rollo, a dude with money troubles that wrote a screenplay he wants to make into a movie. He finally gives up on his filmmaking dream and tries to sell his screenplay, causing him to meet Joe, a total scumbag who unfortunately drives the rest of the movie’s narrative. It’s meant to be a movie about a guy with a lot of ideas and passions that gets in over his head with a criminal and his weird entourage in order to get his film made. The problem is, we the audience have no real reason to care about this guy, so when he makes a bunch of bad decisions, we just get annoyed with him. About an hour into this black-and-white indie nonsterpiece, I realized I hated all the characters – the aimless and blank (it’s quite a feat to make Buscemi seem blank, don’t you think?) main character; the repellent, manipulative, and omnisexual Joe; the mean and non-radiant love interest; the bickering mobster landlords; Joe’s omnisexual and stupid girlfriend; The repellent Frenchman who is married to the love interest; Joe’s pointlessly ruthless brother…

…Ok, so Joe’s brother is kinda cool, in a Tarrantino sort of way. But the whole movie seems to be attempting to reach David Lynch’s quirky and ominous Blue Velvet tone but isn’t committed enough to get it done and isn’t smart enough to succeed despite its failings. The movie is amateurish, and in a bad way. To use an analogy, Blue Velvet is to In the Soup as Nirvana is to Candlebox. I don’t think I can say it any better than that.

Hoop Dreams

In the special features to the new Criterion DVD, they have every single instance where the late Gene Siskel and the on-time Roger Ebert talked about this film. They trumpeted it when it came to Sundance, they trumpeted it when it came to theaters, they trumpeted it for a Best Picture nomination in 1994, they had twin coronaries when it wasn’t even nominated for Best Documentary, they were the public face of the movement that eventually reformed the documentary nomination process, and they both named it the best picture of the 1990’s when that decade was done. Whew.

While I think they might want to tap the breaks a bit on that last one, it is probably the best documentary of all time. For those unfamiliar with it, I’ll summarize: 2 black kids from the inner city of Chicago (Arthur and William) are recruited to play for a prestigious Catholic High School in the suburbs. William immediately plays with the varsity team, and becomes a rising Chicago prep star; Arthur plays with the freshman team and is kicked out of school during the first year because his family can’t pay his part of the tuition. The filmmakers follow them from their 8th grade year all the way through High School graduation, and time brings a reversal of fortune for the two boys and tragedy and comedy for each of their families. It’s really about the inner city of Chicago and people finding hope there, told through the eyes of two prep basketball phenoms.

The commentary track featuring William and Arthur is awesome. They are funny, thoughtful, and illuminating as they discuss what was going through their heads the whole time. It’s a window into a world that is seldom seen even in our enlightened age: the world of the struggling urban non-criminal teenager. It’s not exciting or sexy – it’s just a noble struggle that’s sad and uplifting in a genuine way. What else do you want from a documentary, Holmes?

In The Soup: 1 ½ overpriced popcorns out of 5

Hoop Dreams: 4 ½ overpriced popcorns out of 5