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Friday, May 26, 2006From the Lone Star State
I'll have to say, there will always be a soft spot in my heart for Austin, TX. While landing at the airport I was reminded by the scenery flying past of its green rivers snaking through the hill country. I'll have to say, I miss it, but not enough yet to move back. I'm certainly enjoying the Bay Area. I always say I miss the heat from Texas, but then I'm back for about 20 minutes, and already I'm sweating... in a car... with the A/C on high.
Last night I met up with a bunch of old friends for drinks. It is always interesting to see where life has taken everyone. Everyone is more often married than not now, (or atleast living with their sig-other), working in great jobs, they've all quit smoking, and are living all over the place, from Oregon to New York. I've got some other friends that my be leaving soon as well. But no matter where we go, Austin is always the hub that brings us back together. It only takes 10 minutes of drinking warm beer in the sweltering heat (and that was at like 11:00 at night! Atleast 85 degrees at 11:00pm! How did I ever live like this) to feel like I'm back in college again, and half of us are drinking on fake ID's, everyone is smoking, and no one knows how we are getting back to Georgetown.
Well, that's the end to my stroll down nostalgia avenue, I think I might go hit the pool while nursing this hangover. It's a shame to let all the heat go to waste.
Monday, May 22, 2006In Cars...
This weekend, my insurance check finally arrived, and what began on May 1st has come full circle and I am now a driver again.
After doing some research and a little car shopping I am now the proud owner of a 2002 VW Golf. Apparently Drivers were Wanted, and I heeded the call.
Now, while you are all guffawing in your sleeves about my choice of vehicle, I will admit that I myself used to laugh at Golf drivers (though I pined after hot women in white Rabbits, thanks very much License To Drive, and Can't Buy Me Love). I originally was looking for a late model Passat or Jetta. When I first saw the Golf, I laughed, thinking, who drives those! I opened the door of one, just for kicks and giggles, and realized how incredibly room they are. I opened the hatchback and was amazed at all the space!
Driving it was absolutely Heaven. The test drive took up almost a full hour as I was reluctant to stop driving it. While not as powerful as the GTI version, it still packs quite a punch. It corners like its on rails, and brakes discretely yet firmly.
We haggled for awhile, they came off the price more than I thought, but then refused to move from there. At one point I even put my foot down and we left the dealership, saying I would have to sleep on it. But never being one to refuse instant gratification, we quickly turned around and went back to close the deal.
At the dealership, right before purchase
All weekend I have been trying to find reasons to leave the house, just so I can drive it! "What's that dear, no toilet paper on the roll, I'll run down the store real quick and get you some! Oh, there's a 20 pack in the cabinet, damn." "What's that? We need to hang some pictures? Well I'll just run down the hardware store and pick up some screws! Oh, I went this morning and bought a value pack, shoot" Apparently buying in bulk will be my downfall!
Long story short, it is a lot of fun to drive.
So I'm happy with my purchase and am definitely a more cautious driver now. That's not to say that I won't occasionally speed, I just won't be as reckless anymore!
Christening the Car with a Champagne Bottle
Danielle is very excited about it as well, though she hasn't gotten a chance to drive it. But she says its cute (I say ruggedly cute) and that it fits me well.
Danielle "hugging" the car
And with this purchase, the trifecta of changes in my life for May is now complete. I have a new car, a new house and new glasses. It's like I'm a whole new person...
...and who says men can't change!
"Here in my car
Wednesday, May 17, 2006Its a Friendship Fence!
In 1994 a little watched movie (that I loved, of course) came out called Speechless. In it, Michael Keaton and Geena Davis played speech writers for two opposing candidates. They of course, fall in love, lose their jobs, fall in love even more, etc....
During the film one of the policies being debated is one candidate has the idea of curbing illegal immigration by building a large ditch between the US and Mexico. As the speech writer, one of them comes up with the idea of calling it the the Friendship Ditch, quoting "Good Fences make Good Neighbors". I remember while watching the movie I thought (as a 14 year old) that this was a very laughable idea for controlling a very serious problem. But as it was a romantic comedy, what else can you expect.
Well, apparently our senators are softies at heart as well and also watched this movie. Today the senate voted to approve building a fence between a long section of the US/Mexico border. Full article here.
You'll notice the reference to the "good fences" quote. The only thing they are missing is the name "Friendship Fence", which I'm sure will come soon. (and I've copyrighted, so if they use it, they'll owe me big $)
Is this what our government has come to? Taking their ideas for government from romantic comedies? Isn't a fence just going to contain the problem, and not really solve it? Wouldn't working on a strong immigration policy to make it easier for immigrants to come to America from Mexico legally work more for American workers than against? After all, if they are legal immigrants, they will have government protection in demanding minimum wage, instead of working for even lower wages under the table. Then, the immigrants would be on the same page as American workers who complain that illegal immigrants work for cheaper.
Perhaps the issue of immigration isn't that American workers are afraid of losing their jobs, but that those Americans that are racist do not feel they should have to share their country with anyone else and are simply using the "low wages" stance as a red herring.
If nothing else, think of the other things that we use fences for. I use a fence to keep my dog in the yard. Ranchers use fences to keep cattle contained and predators out. Is this the image that we want to portray to Mexico, that they are simply an animal to keep in place? Or are they the crafty predator and Americans are the docile cattle?
There are many things that this administration has done that I have disagreed with, but this is the first that I am truly ashamed of.
picture from Seonna Hong
Tuesday, May 16, 2006LET HIM OUT!
I found this ad on Craigslist during my daily perusal of the free section:
"BLACK KENMORE WORKING DISH WASHER (4YRS OLD) MANUEL IS INSIDE THE DISHWASHER. REMODELING & DON'T NEED THESE ITEMS."
Hmm, is that how a dishwasher works? And aren't their child labor laws?
Did this post remind anyone else of that Punky Brewster episode where Cherie gets stuck in the old fridge out in the yard while playing hide and seek? When Punky and her friends finally find her, she is passed out from lack of oxygen. Punky was messing around and not paying attention in class so she doesn't know how to do CPR, but her friend (either the boy or Margeux) was paying attention and Cherie was saved! ...maybe it was just me...
Thursday, May 11, 2006LOST 2.0
As many of you may know, I am totally engrossed in the LOST series that is gruelingly slow in unfolding on ABC. Last night was the lead up to the Season Finale next week.
There are many things that are revolutionary about this series, but I think the biggest thing is the whole other world that the series has created. In addition to the hourly show each week there are many websites that the writers have created that tie into the show. There is the mysterious Hanso Foundation websites. There are the weird commercials that are airing during the show, and now there is a novel available for sale that was supposedly written by one of the casualties of the plane crash.
But it wasn't until last night that I discovered how purely genius all of this really is. One of the biggest problems television is facing right now is TiVo. Viewers are using TiVo to tape their favorite shows and then fast forward through commercials. As commercials are the bread and butter of network TV, they need to come up with inventive ways to reach consumers, while still raking in that advertising money.
One way LOST is doing this is by having fake commercials relating to the show during the regular commercials. This is getting viewers to watch the real commercials on the off chance that they see another fake one.
Another way is that LOST has created two worlds. The world of the people on the island that we watch (religiously) every week on TV. And this other world that we the viewer get to experience first hand. Whether its the pleading voice of an alluring female on the 800 number they provided last week during their "commercial", or the mysterious figure hacking in to the Hanso website leaving us cryptic messages about help needed, we feel like our participation is required to not only help this poor soul out, but also to be the first to discover what the hell is going on with the show. On some level, its like these people are really stranded on the island, while the rest of are stuck out here in the real world striving against an evil and powerful multi-national corporation (and there is nothing our generation hates more than powerful multi-national corporations) to free them from their fates. If I don't help them, who will?
They are also now using this massive following they have on the internet to cross promote other products in a very viral way. Last night, one of their fake commercials has in very small text in the bottom corner "sponsored by Sprite" and the commercial led you to a site titled Sublymonal.
Of course the web communities have already picked up on the use of Lymon in the address and the similarities between that site and Sprite's new ad campaign. Now whether or not this will lead to people buying more Sprite is yet to be seen, but I'm sure the traffic generated to their site alone has been phenomenal.
This all got me thinking about how our generation is requiring marketing that is very different from previous generations. While we all enjoy buying things, and are flattered that we are being marketed to, advertisers have a fine line to walk. We don't want to know that the thing we are enjoying is trying to sell us a product. Nothing ruins a Flash game, or crazy website more than knowing that the whole thing is a commercial. We are very against "selling out". So while The Postal Service and Modest Mouse are very popular bands, we just get upset when we see their music in an ad selling us a car. Not only do we not want to buy the car, we might like the band a little less too. (In fact, my girlfriend threatened to stop watching the show because of this tie-in to Sprite.)
But what's the point then of creating these games and sites if you can't tell us what you are trying to sell? Well, you have to make sure that what you create is so amusing or different that we will send it on despite its product tie-ins.
Another flash game about tubing, but where I'm riding a lifesaver rather than an innertube is just not going to cut it.
(Case in point, the very fact that I'm blogging about the LOST/Sprite tie-in just goes to show how well this all worked. Damn it, now I'm a sell-out too!)
Wednesday, May 10, 2006Hail to the Chief?
There is a good (and very long) article on Bush from Rolling Stone here.
I enjoyed the historical view point it took and the comparison to the actions of past good and bad presidents.
Bush has had many opportunities to be the "great uniter" he pledged to be in campaign speeches. Never before has a president had as high an approval rating as he once had. He could have used that power to truly make this a united country but has instead instituted a very singular agenda on the nation. He has constantly alienated not only his opposition but even many of the supporters he once had.
He needs to view his relationship with Americans as one should view a romantic relationship. Compromise is the key to being a couple, and should be the main agenda for a president ruling over a much divided nation. We understand, W, that you are a conservative Christian, but you need to understand that not all of us want those same restrictions in our lives.
We all need to get away from political name calling and totalitarian agendas and reach a compromise that both the left and the right can agree upon. Rather than alienating and attacking Democrats, he needs to be more able to work alongside them.
A great example of this was his recent comment that the National Anthem should only be sung in English. This country was built upon the backs of immigrants from all over the world. Our American culture is not something that was hanging around this continent when we arrived here (goodness knows we destroyed the culture that was already here), it is an amalgamation of all the different beliefs that people brought with them when they immigrated.
The ability to change and adapt is what has made us strong, yet he persists in trying to hold onto a past ideal of what this culture should have been, rather than looking forward to how great it could be if we all worked together.
[steps down off soap box, wipes hands on pants]
There, I said it.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006"It's like someone is throwing marshmallows at me"
After days of waiting for it to be checked in, Danielle and I rented the screen adaptation of Steve Martin's novel Shopgirl last night. And like everything Steve Martin, I am in love.
Danielle was hooked within the first two minutes, as Claire Danes' character has a cat that will not get out from under bed, similar to Danielle's own cat. I was hooked once her and Jason Schwartzman were having sex and said cat finally comes out from under the bed only to swat at his boy parts which prompted Jason to say the line quoted in the title above.
Steve Martin once again sets his story in L.A. Shopgirl reminded me of L.A. Story, in the way it was written and presented, but without the absurdity and social commentary of the earlier film. It followed the life of Mirabelle (Danes), trying to make her way in L.A. as an artist, while working at the glove counter of Saks. She's lonely, depressed, and desperately seeking someone to share her life with. She first meets Jeremy (Schwartzman), who did a great job as a young guy, completely ineffectual at dating, wooing, or even talking to women he is attracted to, and they go out on what has to be the worst first date ever. (Apparently, Jimmy Fallon was originally cast in this role, but I think Jason did a much better job than Jimmy could have.)
She then receives a gift of gloves on her doorstep that she sold to a customer at Saks (Martin) that he returned to her with a request for dinner. Thus begins their awkward dating and relationship that takes up the majority of the film.
Steve plays Ray Porter, a very wealthy divorcee. I had heard that this was the role he never wanted to play, but the studio would not produce this film without him. You can almost feel his reluctance to play this part come through in his acting. While the character is supposed to be emotional unavailable, it still feels that they had to drag him through his scenes and almost force him to look at Claire Danes' naked butt.
Despite his lackluster performance, I still think that as the author, he brought an understanding to the role that others could not have. His narrations throughout the movie really brought things together well.
I'm often amazed that the man that started his career with stand-up involving a fake arrow through his head, and was the genius behind The Jerk, can also successfully create such interesting and thought provoking films as this and great plays as Picasso at the Lapin Agile.
Not that every thing he does is gold, but for every Sgt. Bilko, there are at least five Three Amigos, Roxanne, or My Blue Heaven's. Looking back at his career, it is not often that he gets to play a completely serious role, and that is a bigger shame than Bowfinger's box office numbers.
Saturday, May 06, 2006Back In the Saddle Again!
Just thought I would update anyone who cares...
I've heard from my insurance company and they will be sending me a check shortly. I'm getting back a good bit more than I expected and will soon be on the market for something new (well, new to me anyway).
Danielle has insisted that I drive again, and soon, afraid that I will never want to drive again. I will admit, I've been rather hesitant in the car and have not been on the freeway again yet. I'm not the bold, willing to take risks, driver that I used to be. It could be that driving Danielle's Forerunner is completely different from driving my Honda, and that's why I'm not the same driver. But it's probably just the constant flashbacks I am having to spinning around on the freeway and hitting the wall.
But, I've got to be positive (its in my contract) so on the bright side, I do get to start shopping for a new car and will hopefully have some pictures to post in the next few weeks. I'm leaning towards a hybrid, since gas will soon be $80 a gallon, but am open to suggestions.
Hope you all had a Happy Cinco De Mayo, now don't be so hungover that you forget to mail those Mother's Day cards!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006I'm all Shook Up!
So its been quite a hectic and crazy weekend.
On Friday night, while out having drinks with some friends, I got a strange text message. I immediately followed up with a phone call (to the wrong person, waking him up) and then corrected it with a call to the right person. It seems one of my good friends from college was arrested on murder charges for killing the mother of another one of our friends. The murder occurred in 1997, right after I met him, and before I was roommates with him. I probably saw him that week that it happened.
It's very weird. I don't know many details from the case, or what is happening right now with my friend. This is a guy I hung out with all the time, I was roommates with for a summer, I made out with his ex-girlfriend and he has been out to visit me twice. I don't know what to think, what to do. We are all a little shocked and confused.
Speaking of shock, I was also in a car accident on Monday afternoon. As I was changing lanes, I must have hit something in the road that cut open my tire, or I had a blowout. I lost control of my car, went perpendicular to traffic across three lanes to run almost head on into the concrete barrier on the side of the road. I am ok, though a little banged up, bruised and shaken, but my car is not. It was declared totaled and has since been taken off to the junkyard. I'm very lucky to be not hurt, I'm very glad for airbags, and I'm happy that Honda uses front impact crumple zones (or something).
As you can see below, the damage was quite severe:
This is once it was towed to my driveway and the picture is a little easier to see.
This is the offending tire. If you look closely you can see the flaps from where something cut it open.
So you see, I haven't forgotten about updating, I was just waiting for something truly exciting to post about. Like I said, the good thing is that I am alive and unharmed. The whole accident was very frightening. Everything happened very fast, and there was very little time to do anything. I remember trying to regain control of the car, I remember when I passed right in the front of another car, and I remember seeing the wall approaching in front of me. At that moment I remember thinking two things, I was worrying about where I was going to find the money to buy a new car since I was in the process of wrecking this one, and I was pissed that I had just filled my tank up with gas the day before. But the next thing I know is that my car was on the shoulder and full of smoke and there was an airbag in my face.
I immediately staggered from the car, not knowing if it would catch fire or what. I was very freaked out. At first, I didn't know if I had hit someone, if someone had hit me. I expected there to be much more of a scene. But traffic was moving on past me like nothing had happened.
I'm always coming up with weird theories on life. One of the ones I really like, (but don't necessarily believe) is that we all live a long life and die of old age, but when we are faced with a near death experience we die in one reality, but our consciousness is spurned into another. For instance, you are walking across a crosswalk and turn to see a car coming right for you. Next thing you know, the car has barely brushed by you or clipped you and left you hurt but alive. You don't know really how it happened, but are glad to be alive.
Let's say that the car actually hit you and you were killed instantly, but your life was spurned off into an alternate reality where you lived and were ok. So off in another reality somewhere, you are dead, and the people in that reality have to cope with your death, but you now exist in a different reality where you continue to go on and those around you still get to enjoy you.
If that's the case, then there is definitely another reality where the car accident was more intense, my girlfriend is distraught over me and my family members are at a loss. Luckily, that is not a reality that has to be dealt with right now (by me anyway, sorry to all those in that other reality for putting you through that).
Hopefully, this is the end of any more trauma in my life right now. Hopefully the shock of all this will wear off soon. Hopefully the upcoming move will go well, and I will be less sore than I am now. Hopefully I'll be able to find a new car that is both affordable and gas friendly. Hopefully I'll get my new frames from the eye doctor within the next week. That is where I was coming from when this all happened.