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.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Gone Tonight, Coming Back Monday

For purposes of this blog I am going to be out of commission from tonight until Monday. I'm sure I'll have some stories from this weekend to tell, though. You see, we're going to East Texas, to a lake house with the Texas flag painted on the roof. If I survive, I will let you know how it went. If I don't survive, tell yourselves and those around you that I love you, my blog readers. I couldn't have done all this without you. Well, that's not true. But you made it all worth it.

My wife and I saw Dogma last night. The key to seeing that movie is constantly resisting the urge to take it seriously. If you can do that, you can laugh a little at an average (and too-long) comedy that at least manages to ask some interesting questions about God. If you can't resist that urge, you start thinking "Hey, that's not true!" or "Hey, that's stupid!" Just put your brain on freezelock and roll with it. Better yet, pretend you're Jay or Silent Bob.

The good thing about Dogma is Kevin Smith actually made a real story with all these metaphysical ideas inside it, as opposed to making a metaphysical idea movie with a lame story crammed in (I'm looking at you, What the (Bleep) Do We Know and Waking Life). I appreciated that. If it were half an hour shorter, it would have gotten 3 overpriced popcorns. As it is, I give it 2-and-a-half out of 5.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Top 8 People with whom I come into contact at Papa John's

In every square mile of America, and probably the world, there are insane people. They are out there, but you don't notice them. They blend in like those green bugs that hang out on ferns. Sometimes they look totally sane -- until they open their mouths and pure insanity pours out. When you live in an area for a while, you eventually learn who these people are and why to avoid them.

If the Papa John's I work at were a stand-alone and not in a giant strip mall next to a "Tom Thumb" grocery store, this list would not have been possible. The insane congregate at strip malls, as they represent both a place to buy consumer goods and a place to meet (read: annoy the heck out of) as many new people as possible. The insane just love meeting new people and drawing them into their tornado of incoherent thoughts and myopia. And a strip mall is way better for the insane than a regular mall, since regular malls have an abundance of their nemesis: The Security Guard. Plus, shopping at a regular mall really cuts into their "wandering-the-streets-aimlessly" time.

With that in mind, I will present to you the top 8 people with whom I come into contact with at Papa John's, counting down from least crazy to most crazy:

8) Curves Nazi -- A new addition to our strip mall, I have only seen the Curves Nazi once, and barely remember what she looks like. She works at the new "Curves" two doors down from us, and she's quite passionate about keeping us drivers out of the three parking spaces that are in front of her workout facility (that's what Curves is, for those who don't know). Her curvaceous (I'll kindly let the reader determine for themselves what that means in this context) customers, who are there to work out, can't walk an extra few feet to get to the door, apparently. When the Curves first moved in she was up in my Manager's face every day about it, and the Manager made sure we knew not to park in front of Curves before 7pm, because this Manager's default state is utter capitulation. Now, Curves has no more right to those 3 spaces than you or I, but that doesn't matter to this Curves chick. That's why she's on this list, and why his daddy named her the Curves Nazi.

7) Cart Pusher in Love -- A toothless hillbilly from the old school, the cart pusher pushes carts and stocks shelves for the Tom Thumb that anchors the parking lot and gives the strip mall a reason to exist. He's always got a crooked cap and a smile for ya, and if you work at Papa John's he'll always ask you about his special friend, Lisa the pizza delivery driver. He's in love with her, you see, even though she looks like a baked potato with glasses and limbs and has a son who's a dirty pothead (and I do mean pothead. But the emphasis could just as easily be on the pothead part). Lisa was eventually fired, but that doesn't stop him from asking if you've seen her lately, even if that answer is always "no."

6) All Bless No Stress Guy -- You know that character Morgan Freeman plays in The Shawshank Redemption? The one who works as a bagger at a grocery store after his release from prison? That's totally this guy. He even sort of looks like Morgan Freeman, all tall and dignified. He gets his name from his response every time you ask him how he's doing. Without fail, he says "It's all blessed with no stress," but he's said it so many times that it's elided to "all bless no stress." Now, I like the sentiment, and he's probably glad to finally be out of prison, but at some point there has to be stress. It can't all be bless. Still, he's very friendly, and seems to know everyone who shows up in the mall parking lot, even the insane ones. Side note: He drives a 80's blue-green Cadillac, which is so pimpin'. He also backs into his parking spot every time, which is also pimpin'. So I guess we know what he went to the joint for, eh?

5) Crazy Hair Lady -- She's the woman who begs the question: What's crazier -- the hair or the lady? First of all, it looks like she surgically grafted Buckwheat's hair onto her head. Second of all, I can't understand half of what she's saying because she speaks so darn quickly. Not only that, her every statement is phrased as an insane rant about someone or something. She also does a lot of squeaking and squealing if she approves of something or is surprised. When I see her she is usually trying to scam free pizza from us or yelling at her boyfriend (I say boyfriend only because I can't believe someone would marry her). Those seem to be her favorite pastimes. The best part? She's a hairdresser. Maybe the question should be: Who's crazier -- this lady or her customers?

4) The (Dreaded) Underwear Guy -- This guy is actually a customer in our delivery area, and has nothing to do with our parking lot. In fact, he may never leave his house. I don't know if he's got a medical condition (please let it be a medical condition and not...something else) or what, but he's a 50-year-old man who answers the door in his underwear and invites you in. And by underwear I mean tighty whiteys. You don't realize this unless you look down, which I don't reccommend. Just glancing down for a split-second in disbelief is gross and painful. Again, let's hope that his condition is physical and not mental, because yick. The second time I delivered to him he was very apologetic about his freakishness, but that didn't stop him from making me go back and get him peppers and cheese. And when I returned, he tried to engage me in a polite conversation about Papa John's and what a good customer he is and how he could make sure the peppers and cheese came the first time. He needs to understand that there's no such thing as polite conversation when you're not wearing pants.

3) The Garbage Lady -- So named because she has on several occasions been spotted picking garbage up off the ground, looking at it, and stuffing it into her housecoat. She's also rail-thin (I mean starvation is really sneaking up on her hard), has a giant bush of frizzy hair with a bow in it, and walks around the neighborhood at all times of the day or night. If that's not insane I don't know what is. I get the disturbing feeling when I look at her that she's about 35 years old, but it's a hard 35, if you know what I mean. Not eating has a tendency to age you. I really can't say anything more about her, since her only bit is picking up garbage. If she develops some new bits (like screaming or wearing facepaint), I'll let you know.

2) Bald Shorts Guy -- The quintessential Friendly Neighborhood Nutcase, BSG wanders the streets all day in a t-shirt with the arms cut off and 70's style short shorts. He's about 50, is bic-bald, wears glasses, and never says much to anyone. But he does like the ladies, apparently. One of the girls who used to work at the Papa told a story about BSG that made him out to be a self-exposing stalker who lifted his leg up at the most inopportune times to give the ladies a peek of something they most definitely didn't want to see. But she was wearing a bikini top at the time she told the story, so I think she may have just wanted attention (from my old Manager, silly -- not BSG). Anyway, just wearing those shorts every day is enough to make you bat-crap insane in my book.

1) Note in Pencil Dude -- Let me first descibe how this guy dresses: He's always seen wearing like 70's basketball wear -- a tank top, mesh shorts, the occasional striped headband around his wavy shoulder-length mane, striped tube socks pulled up to his knees -- and punctuates all that with a pair of flip-flops. But that's not the insane part. He's angry at everything, and mutters to himself all the time while looking down at the blacktop of the parking lot. But that's not the really insane part. You see, I've delivered to his house, and when I got to the door I saw staring at me a note written (scrawled, really) in pencil on a sheet of lined notebook paper. The note said:

And that, my friends, is truly insane. Thank you and good day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Apparently, Laguna Beach is for Real.

Reading the forums at Television Without Pity, I have learned that these kids are real people and the things they do are officially speaking, reality TV. MTV has set out to create TV's first "reality drama", which seems to be a reality show that's edited like a drama, and with no confessionals and other conventions of the genre. That's why nothing ever happens -- it's real life, or at least as real as life can be for these overprivleged teens.

Also, every summer Laguna Beach puts on the "Pageant of the Masters", which features recreations of famous paintings by people standing in one place in costume all day. Sound familiar, Arrested Development fans? I thought they made that concept up, but it's real! No wonder MTV picked Laguna Beach for this show -- these people crazy!

And this brings a whole new dimension to the show itself. These people are actually doing these things? Real Stephen is really using LC as a safety valve when real Kristen rejects him? Some real person named their kid "Talan"? Real Kristen is this much of a ____, and people still hang out with her because she's popular? Wait...her name is spelled Kristin, I'm sorry. I apologize to all the Kristins out there. More questions: All this crap went on last year, the kids saw how horrible they all looked, and how horrible they all treated each other, and they came back for a new season? There's something fishy going on here, and I need to figure out what it is. Unfortunately, that means watching more Laguna Beach. Darn you, MTV.

It may be just a simple as these kids being vapid fame-chasers who will do anything to stay on MTV. Anyway, I'm sure there's a bushel of fun facts I can find out about this, so I'll be in touch soon.

FYI, there are people who believe it's scripted, or at least part-scripted. Why do I need to know this? I'm so disappointing.

News for Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In really local news, that thing they put on this work internet connection that keeps my productivity way way up by keeping me away from yahoo and espn is causing the connection to crash, which can't make the bigwigs happy. I keep having to connect to a site 3-4 times before it will load. More on this story as it develops.

We're all dead: They found West Nile virus in Toronto. If a city as clean and futuristic as Toronto has it, we all have it. I know I have it already, with all that pizza delivering I do to the West Nile DMZ in Dallas. Actually, the news is reporting that a few mosquitos, birds, and other small animals have been found with the disease in and around that clean, aluminum city.

Do you suppose that East Nile Virus is going to get into some sort of "rap war" with WNV to increase its profile around here?

The English are Doing Things: Not only have they arrested some people in connection with the "second" bombings of their "tubes" and busses, but the IRA is set to decomission its weapons. I guess they just couldn't compete with global international terrorism anymore. Why blow up a mailbox to make a point if someone is just going to come along and blow up a subway system? We need to get these people on our side, because they could be a great help in the War on Terror.

Tajikistan exists: I remember right after I graduated from college one of my friends told me that a friend of hers was spending some time in Tajikistan. Having never heard of such a country (certain intricacies of the fall of the Soviet Union had escaped my eye when I was in college -- you have to understand, I read the news like once a month. It was a real fear of mine that the US could have been taken over by some country and I would never have known. The only news I remember following was the first Gulf War, and of course the cryptosporidium outbreak that disabled our drinking water for a month), I assumed that her friend was yanking her chain and making the whole country up. Imagine if she would have claimed there was a Kyrgyzstan. Anyway, we're setting up a Ganci base, according to that Turkish newspaper. Which, of course, is a base made specifically to meet the needs of gay people.

UUUUUUUUUnion: One of the happy accidental side-effects of the job market collapsing is the gradual collapse of Organized Labor in this country. Happy, you ask? What's happy about people not getting paid enough money? Well, what a Union allows you to do is to temporarily subvert the free market economy in order to provide temporary security for a group of workers over the individual. When the economy changes, the Union loses all of its power. Can new unions come through for the American worker? Can these dinosaur Unions like the AFL-CIO still remain intact when they're choking their employers into the ground? Will a company like GM have to fire all of its full-time employees and hire a bunch of migrant Native American farmers part-time in order to keep costs low and pay off those old union pension agreements? No, but what will actually happen is up in the air.

Yes, I am a Windows nerd: The next version of Windows has been named, and that name is...Vista? Also, "pirated" (arr...ahoy matey!) copies of Windows are no longer going to be able to get security updates. This may sound like common sense, but all it means is that those unpatched unsecure machines are liable to become spam-sending "zombie" PC's, which in effect hurts security for all of us. Most of the spam and spyware and popups in this world are sent from unpatched Windows machines, did you know that? I'd like to publicly thank Microsoft for protecting their intellectual property at the expense of the public's security.

Oh...gotta go to a "meeting". Sorry if there are any typos, I gotta go right now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

MTV is a Cultural Wasteland and So Am I

Look, I know MTV is horrible for our culture, but it's like that proverbial train wreck that you can't stop watching. Or at least I can't. My wife turned me on to what may be the ultimate trashy MTV show (this side of that sexily pathetic experiment known as Undressed, of course). It's called Laguna Beach, and it involves what appears to be hundreds of impossibly good-looking teenagers who apparently spontaneously generated in Laguna Beach. I say they spontaneously generated because you never see their parents. That means their gigantic houses and expense accounts also just happened, much to the consternation of the continuity gods.

Anyway, with the parents out of the picture the kids are free to have social gatherings and hate each other and fall in "love" with each other and gossip constantly and travel in limos. The acting appears completely's like "Best in Show", only instead of the improvisations of comedic talents like Chris Guest you get the improv skills of some beach girl named Kristen. The acting is both authentic-seeming (i.e., these rich kids all seem actually stupid and superficial -- just like real rich kids!) and charmingly hypnotic. The time just flies by, and before you know it you've watched an hour of the thing and you want that skank Kristen to get her comeuppance. The show draws you in with its non-dialogue and lack of story movement. Seriously, could Keanually Uncharismatic Stephen just pick one or the other already? Better yet, he could pick neither and move to Moscow. This Stephen-"LC"-Kristen thing is so old it's susceptible to the West Nile Virus.

But if you like addictive shows and you think you can handle hours and hours worth of immoral behavior that should never be emulated, check it out.

Speaking of immoral behavior, MTV is bringing back My Stupid Sweet Sixteen for another season. I'd like to publicly thank them for giving this blog a reason to exist in August and September. Monday, Aug. 15th is the first episode. I am tired now, but when I wake up in the morning I will be quivering in anticipation. I'm clearly a 15-year-old girl in a 33-year-old man's body. If it were the other way around, that could make a disturbing movie.

And don't get me started on this season of the Real World...

As much as I hate the idea of using this blog to vent about vague work things...

I just have to. Right now. The people above me at work are making my life miserable right now. As much as I'd like to think that it's just me, I know they're also making the lives of people at all the other stores miserable, too. Strangely, that doesn't help.

We ask them to do one's a simple favor, really, for a customer. Buy from this vendor, not from that one. Not only do they not do it, but they then tell us to do the same thing we just did, the thing that didn't work. Oh, I'm sure they have their reasons. The fact remains they could take care of the customer first and worry about all the other crap later, but they aren't.

My favorite part of this is the fact that I told them I did something, and they wrote me back and told me not to do it until I did something else. I'd love to turn back time, people, but I can't. This isn't Primer, and if it was, my double would have drugged me by now.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Cobra Verde

I watched the Netflix DVD of Cobra Verde yesterday, and it had the most native African BPM (breasts per minute) I have ever seen in a movie. If those women were white, it would have been NC-17, even though there's no sex shown at all.

The plot goes like this (although as in all Werner Herzog movies, the plot plays second chair saxophone to the haunting and epic images he creates): Cobra Verde (crazy-eyed Klaus Kinski) lives in Brazil, becomes a bandit that everyone there is afraid of, doesn't wear any shoes because he "doesn't trust them," meets a crippled child in a bar, earns the favor of a local rich Colonel, knocks up all three of his daughters, gets sent to Africa on a suicide mission, meets the only remaining soldier at the slave-trading fort there, gets captured by the mad King, gets rescued by the king's creepy-eyed son and commisioned to train the son's army, becomes Viceroy and head slave trader of the kingdom after the son's successful coup, gets bored, meets a topless African girls' choir with an alarmingly gangsta lead singer, loses everything when the slave trade is abolished, and drowns trying to get a boat into the sea.

The movie is tedious at points, which Herzog himself talks about in the commentary. He has a tendency to stay with shots so long the meaning of what you see changes, if that makes any sense. It's richly shot, however, and this nearly makes up for the nihilistic plot and the lack of a real protagonist and the Moby-esque BPM.

Herzog does like the freaks, though, and he has graciously filled this film with them. Putting aside the main character played by Kinski -- the biggest freak of them all, and you have crippled adults, people with polio, children who walk with makeshift crutches, and the crazy-eyed son. You know that look that Matt gave on The Joe Schmo Show when he found out that everything was fake except him? The "What is going on" look? The son has that look on his face all the time. It's worth the spot in your Netflix queue just to see him.

And then there's Kinski, who nearly killed/was killed by Herzog during the filming of the movie. He was apparently insane at this point. He looks it. It's a good look for him.

I give the movie 3 overpriced popcorns out of 5, for the visual images and the depressing look at the slave trade. If the plot and characters would have been, what a movie it could have been!