Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Damn Hippies and Their Ideas

It's fascinating when you look at this photograph, and you realize that these people are the ones who would go on to create a multinational corporation worth over 270 billion dollars. Who'da thunkit?

Abyssal Espistles

There's a fellow blogger I read occasionally who does a weekly horoscope, filled with sarcasm and sniping of the various zodiacs. It's the writing of one Baron von Coppockalypse, PhD, and - with some considerable scissor work - I think I'll start sharing his horoscopes with you, the huddled masses. So without further ado - the Baron speaks!

Horoscopes 19th-25th : Chariots of the Gods
The Baron knows how you like to roll during the summer months: slow, with the top down and the stereo up loud. It is no coincidence, as the Sign that begins Summer, Cancer, is represented in the Tarot with the only vehicle in the whole deck- VII The Chariot. This week, in recognition of the Sun moving into Cancer, Baron grants everyone their summer-time dream vehicle.

Aries: Its a FUCKING TANK!
Aries, your vehicle of choice is a FUCKING TANK. Though completely illegal and hardly road worthy, its a FUCKING TANK, so who cares? Not armed only with the standard cannon and machine-gun, Aries, your summer tank comes complete with crowd-control flame-thrower. And air conditioning.

Taurus: Slow Ride
Taurus, your vehicle combines your love of nature with your sedentary nature. Thats right, its the 4x4 off road couch! A plush leather couch with monster truck wheels, the off-road couch is a marvel of design. Huge wheels and extravagant suspension guarantee that nothing gets in the way of your lazy day. The Off-Road Couch casually drives over speed bumps, other cars, and crowds without so much as a single jolt. Now thats convenience.

Gemini: Noise Complaint
You get the classic motor-cycle with side-car for your evil twin. Not only does your sweet ride feature seating for two, it also has a loudspeaker system capable of breaking windows 3 blocks away. You and your evil/good twin will have an intercom system built into your helmets which links back to the speaker system, spreading your brilliant back and forth far and wide. Yes, the rest of the Zodiac will be grateful indeed.

Cancer: Bullet Proof Safety
Cancer, your Chariot of choice is the latest in the Hummer series. Surpassing both the classic Hummer and the even the stretch limo hummer, the Hummer Mini-Van is truly a miracle of converted military engineering. There has never been a civilian vehicle so safe in the history of humankind. If you need to take the kids to soccer practice in the middle of Baghdad, consider it a problem solved. The Hummer mini-van is also ideal for driving the band between gigs, and general armor plated adventuring. Youve never been so safe!

Leo: Solar Whip
Hail, mighty Leo. This summer your sick whip will be sure to outshine everyone elses, because your ride will be the Chariot of the Sun-God himself. Flaming horses will tow you down the street at a slow enough pace for people to soak in your full solar glory. They will, of course, burst into flame, but thats their problem. Comes complete with flattering Sun-God/dess Toga.

Virgo: Tow-Truck
Virgo, yours is the sign of service, and its more important that your vehicle be helpful than look cool. In honor of your humility, the Baron has granted you an old, beat-up tow-truck. Cool! You can use the tow-truck to help other people with their much nicer cars troubles. Awesome! Not only can you help other people with their problems, on the way youll get plenty of practice refining your automotive expertise by having to repair your own rundown wreck of a car. Youll save the both the world and yourself. Youre so helpful.

Libra: Classic
Libra, this summer youll be taken from engagement to classy engagement in a lovely Victorian carriage. Trailing cans on strings, its always a good time to be Just Married in your classic enclosed carriage. Sit back, relax, and sip your drink while your costumed driver whips your steeds into a brisk trot.

Scorpio: The Bat-Mobile
Yes Scorpio, this summer youll be sneaking through the streets with the Batmobile. Youll pierce the night like black sunshine whenever your symbols stains the sky. But during the daytime, youll stick out like a sore thumb. Theres nothing stealthy about driving a jet black bat-car with a jet engine down Main Street. Also, nothing screams insecurity like driving around a big black cock.

Sagittarius: If This Trailers A Rockin
Sagittarius, being half-horse, you are your own vehicle. A shiny new set of horse-shoes is all you need to be street-worthy. But youre getting so much more. This summer, the Barons giving you a trailer to tow behind you. Your customized U-Haul Trailer will have room for all of your possessions, in case you decide to leave town unexpectedly, and a dirty mattress covered with Spider-man sheets for on the go amore. Yes, Sagittarius, with your shiny new trailer, youre a mobile party-on-the-go.

Capricorn: Siege Tower
Thats right Capricorn, crank up the volume, because this summer youre getting your very own Siege Tower! At 10 stories, the Siege Towerumtowers over the competition. The Siege Tower is also fuel efficient, running on slave labor rather than the those eco-unfriendly gasoline engines. Not only that, but it also comes with its own catapult and ballista with trained crews. No castle or stop light can stand in your way when youre rolling in the Siege Tower.

Aquarius: Amazing Made-Up Technology
It doesnt matter what model you want, Aquarius, the Baron is determined to pimp your ride Back To The Future style. Using amazing made-up technology, your car will gain the ability to travel through the space-time continuum, depositing you in situations that will validate your feelings of being an outsider. Impress primitives from the stone age, mess up time lines, and become your own grandpa. Its the kind of vehicle that takes you to the places you want to go, and its all yours, Aquarius.

Pisces: Pope-Mobile
Pisces, its your divine right. Its the reward for all of your seemingly meaningless suffering. Its the Pope-Mobile. Bullet-proof, holy, and ready to roll, your very own Pope-Mobile puts you at the very top of the religious hierarchy. What better way to let the faithful adore their savior than to showcase your piety on the bullet-proof stage of the Pope-mobile?

Disclaimer: If you do not take every word of these horoscopes into you with the utmost faith, you will die. Statistics bear this out. Simply scan the newspapers. You will find that an overwhelming majority of the people that die each week DID NOT read the Baron's horoscopes.

If your newspaper or your mom's website are interested in publishing the Baron's weekly prophetics, shoot this old guy an email at Dr.Coppockalypse@gmail.com. The Baron is also available for birthdays, weddings, funerals and orgies.

Monday, June 19, 2006

She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy

Issac Asimov's world is closer yet to becoming a reality.

With all of the advances being made in the world of robotics, scientists and engineers around the world are debating the ethics surround the industry, and are considering ways to encode a certain set of ethics and rules into the robotic AI, remiscent (if not an exact copy) of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.

“There are two levels of priority,” said Gianmarco Verruggio, a roboticist at the Institute of Intelligent Systems for Automation in Genoa, northern Italy, and chief architect of the guide, to be published next month. “We have to manage the ethics of the scientists making the robots and the artificial ethics inside the robots.”

Verruggio and his colleagues have identified key areas that include: ensuring human control of robots; preventing illegal use; protecting data acquired by robots; and establishing clear identification and traceability of the machines.

Now, all of this sounds incredibly noble and exciting, doesn't it? Then comes this little tidbit:

The analysis culminated at a meeting recently held in Genoa by the European Robotics Research Network (Euron) that examined the problems likely to arise as robots become smarter, faster, stronger and ubiquitous.

“Security, safety and sex are the big concerns,” said Henrik Christensen, a member of the Euron ethics group.

Excuse me? Did they just say...sex?

"How far should robots be allowed to influence people’s lives? How can accidents be avoided? Can deliberate harm be prevented? And what happens if robots turn out to be sexy?"

This is what happens when you let sex-deprived nerd-boys create dolls. First they make them physically good looking, like the japanese. Then they make them soft to the touch, like the koreans did. Now the euros are already considering how to turn them into sex slaves. Amsterdam, here we come!

“People are going to be having sex with robots within five years,” Christensen said. So should limits be set on the appearance, for example, of such robotic sex toys? The greatest danger, however, is likely to lie with robots that are able to learn from their “experiences”. As systems develop, robots are likely to have much more sophisticated self-learning mechanisms built into them and it may become impossible to predict exactly how they will behave.

It's like having your vibrator tell you what IT likes. "Mmmm yeah baby, rotate me around, like that yeah, oh oh oh!"

Of course, then the problem is it might have an orgasm before you do.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Java: It'll Cure What Ails Ya

The mystery of my healthy liver is solved.

Now...I'm by no means an alcoholic (I know, denial is the first stage. Shh.) I have friends who are borderline alcoholics, and I've had family members who were alcoholics. So I definitely know what the symptoms are, and I'm happy to say I don't have them.

But I can hold my own with the best of them. Just as long as it's a 500 meter race, not a 10k marathon.

Of course, I've always been compared to my friends and their alcohol intake. And I apologize for the obvious stereotyping here, but most of my friends are asian. And they can't drink for shit. Oh sure, they'll drink a lot - but it goes in, they turn red, and after that it's just a question of how much they'll put into themselves before they pass out.

So compared to them, I'm an alcoholic.

I bring this up because they've often wondered what my liver must look like. Frankly my liver is fine and healthy, which they just refuse to believe because I MUST have a shrivelled up slab of meat in there that's barely hanging on, due to the amount of alcohol I've consumed in my life.

Well fear not, my friends; I may have the answer to my success.


I shit you not. I just saw a study on liver disease (alcholic cirrosis), conducted by Kaiser Permanente. They studied over 125,000 people, men and women, over an 8 year period. The results? For each cup of coffee they drank per day, participants were 22 percent less likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis. Drinking coffee was also associated with a slight reduction in risk for other types of cirrhosis. Among those who had their blood drawn, liver enzyme levels (which are released into the bloodstream when the liver is diseased or damaged) were higher among individuals who drank more alcohol, indicating liver disease or damage; however, those who drank both alcohol and coffee had lower levels than those who drank alcohol but did not drink coffee, with the strongest link among the heaviest drinkers.

Tea drinking was not related to reduced risk in the study, suggesting that it is not caffeine that is responsible for the relationship between coffee and reduced cirrhosis risk.

So. Tea is as wimpy as we all knew it to be (damn the British), and coffee is the god's ambrosia. My lack of a diseased liver can be directly attributed to the java IV I keep at my desk and hook myself up to every morning and afternoon.

*bloop*...*bloop*...ahhh, that coffee buzz.

Speaking of...now I've got a crave for some Ben & Jerry's. Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz, baby!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Big Apple BBQ Block Party

Got ribs? I did, and damn if it wasn't a good chunk of meat.

This weekend was the 4th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party, right in the heart of downtown Manhattan. Four blocks long and one city avenue across, it took over Madison Square Park with the odor of hickory, charcoal, cedar and meat cooking over a grill.

Some of the country's best grillers were on hand to sell off samples of their specialties. Southside Market Grill from Elgin, Texas showcased their beef brisket and Elgin Hot Sausage (with tangy cole slaw), along with samples of their own brand of bbq sauce and hot sauce. New York's own Blue Smoke offered up St. Louis style ribs that melted off the bone, tender and juicy as can be (with a side of dill pickles).

I gotta tell ya, the food was great. I just wish it was easier to get to.

There were ten different vendors represented at the block party; I got to sample three. I wish I could have tried more, but the party turned out to be more of a disneyland ride with little entertainment. At the end of the day I ended up on a line that took me, literally, 45 minutes before I got my food.

I'd shown up expecting...more. People showcasing grilling techniques, vendors selling equipment, food, sauces that you could take home and grill up yourself. Music, which they did eventually have - you just had to stick it out for a while, which admittedly I didn't. After an hour there I'd sampled two grills and was full for the moment. I wanted to sit and...do something else. Or just do something.

There was nothing to do.

The park was just too small for this venue, so people were sitting on the sidewalks, the pathways, just to get away from the crowd. There was little entertainment, and no interactivity. The vendors were from the corporate sponsors; no offense to American Express and Jet Blue, but i really didn't come there to see your advertising and have you try to sign me up. I came for some BBQ!

So I left. Saw a movie, did some writing, then came back around 4:30.

Three-quarters of the food booths were closed, because they'd run out of food.

People go to BBQs to eat, but they also go for the social aspect. There was little of that here, unless you limited yourself to the "Beer Circle" - a corner of the park where they sold beer, and where you were allowed to drink it openly. As long as you stayed in this corner.

Needless to say, this is where everyone was. Which made navigating it with a tray of food in one hand and a beer in the other, a bit tricky.

Still, the food was good and the price ($7 prix fixe for each sample, no drink included) went to a good cause (Madison Square Park Conservatory). The weather wasn't fantastic, but better than last year when it rained all day.

Plus it's got me in the mood to break out the charcoal myself. Hell, I've got a brand-spanking-new 22" Weber kettle waiting to be used.

I can smell those ribs already. Mmmmm...!

Movie Review: The Davinci Code


Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little. But only a little.

Dan Brown's book interesting if you've never studied any of the topics it presents: the Illuminati, the Council of Nicea, the Grail legends. If you have, then it's just another suspense novel - one of hundreds in print right now. My personal opinion is that it isn't written that well, but I do concede that it's written in a way to be gripping - it captivates you, which means it entertains you, and ultimately that's the goal of any writer. So bravo.

But the movie takes everything that was good about Dan Brown's book, from an entertainment perspective, and throws it away in favor of trying to explain as much of the history and speculation as possible. All of the drama, the suspense, that he managed to impart in his storytelling is gone in Ron Howard's directorial translation. It's wordy, overly wordy for a movie; you find yourself bored at parts, your brain locking up and waiting for the next scene.

There are "shock" moments, those points in a movie designed to jolt you out of your seat - and they work, marvelously. There are just too few of them, and they are spaced too far apart. My observation of the audience was that these moments served more to wake people up than actually surprise them.

Like it or hate it, the Davinci Code as a book has become an icon of the times.

The Davinci Code as a movie? Forgettable, easily so.

The Trickster gives it a sad 2-1/2 stars out of 5.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Thank You, Come Again

White Castle. It's what you crave.

Yeah i had a major crave going on, and I'm not sure why - but on the way home I had to stop off at Herald Square and pick me up some of those belly bombs. I pop right over to the A train and I'm headed uptown for home when the train pulls into Times Square and - I fucking shit you not - who walks on?

Neil Patrick Harris. Doogie Houser himself.

So I'm sitting there and something in the back of my mind says this should be funny, but i just can't place it. I'm thinking back, because I've run into ol' Doogie a few times. Once riding his bike in Manhattan, and another time on 56th street in a McDonalds. I starting thinking "damn, what's with Doogie stalking me?" - and the funny-ness hit me.

Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle. Here i am sitting here with a bag of sliders, and that goddamn crazy stalker Doogie is right there in front of me.

I lost it. Right there on the subway, and I'm trying to hide the fact that I'm cracking the fuck up. He had his back turned to me by now so I know he hasn't gotten it, but when he bails at 125th I hear some chick standing by the pole whisper:

"Bye, Doogie."

I cried, man. I really did.

Doog, where's my car? Hahahahah!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I'll Put A Spell On You

Well, a Hex anyway.

I'm referring to the new series on cable television's BBC America, "Hex". It was originally described as a British "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", but watching it I'm more inclined to describe it more as the original movie version of "The Omen" meets television's "Smallville", with a hint of "Buffy" (more Willow than Buffy) mixed in for good measure. It's about a young woman discovering that she has inexplicable powers, and trying to hide those powers from the people around her while being thrust into a supernatural world of mystery.

What I find particularly fascinating about it is that the concept behind the show has the exact same basis in biblical lore that my concept of Nimrod's world has; we've come up with the same ideas centered around the Nephilim, but branched off into completely different directions with it. Whereas Hex's Cassie is a witch dealing with a fallen angel who wants to use her and her developing powers for his own evil cause, my Nimrod is more a recluctant hero who finds himself also dealing with fallen angels and their evil cause, while picking up clues to his own supernatural abilities along the way. Both of them have what I call the Eye, that ability to see inside the supernatural world.

I don't want to give away clues to Nimrod's background, but I can't help but see parallels in Cassie's eventual mission as it relates to Nimrod's existance. Their worlds intertwine in ways I'd never have imagined someone else's writing would blend so seamlessly with mine, and rather than be annoyed by that discovery I'm thrilled. It's offering me the opportunity to see what it might have been like for Nimrod as a younger man, if his lifepath had taken a completely different (and less chaotic) turn.

Cassie is the innocent angel to Nimrod's devil, and yet they're both cursed in their own way.

I think it also gives me some degree of comfort to know that the ideas I've come up with for my story concept aren't as far off the reservation as I thought they were, and that they DO work.

It's as if I've been given a preview of my own writing, before I've completed it. It's a nice vision.

Hex is, by the way, a great show. The producers have done a wonderful job of imparting those sudden flashes of the paranomal that Cassie is slowly but surely being introduced to, her insights into the world behind the silk veil that show a world of witches and demons. It's less an action series than it is a drama, a reverse of what the Buffy and Angel series were. Cassie is a girl afraid of what she's discovering about the world within her world, and what powers may be inside of her. She doesn't know who or what she is, and it both frightens and excites her.

It's only made harder when she realizes she has no friends to rely on. Or at least, none in this world.

Definitely worth watching. I know I will.

You Nimrod, You

I'm well on my way towards my steady descent into Hell.

For some years now, I've wanted to write what I've jokingly called the Great American Blasphemy. My goal isn't to insult The Church but to foster discussion, to cause controversy and force people to look beyond the obvious within their own Christian religion and LEARN. Within chaos, my intent was to teach. And make oodles of money.

Dan Brown, unfortunately, may have beaten me to the punch. C'est le vie.

It's my misfortune that until recently, I haven't felt my writing was of a standard that I was ready to tackle the GAB. Or maybe misfortune is the wrong word; I've been honest with myself, in that regards, although I suspect that a little bit of fear factored into it all. I think I'm ready, now, and I've started writing in a style I've never tried before (first person), with a type of character I haven't attempted before, at a length (full novel) that I've never managed before. It's fun, it's challenging, and I think it's going well.

I remember deciding on a name for the main character, and to this day I'm not 100% sure why I chose the name "Nimrod" for him. It almost seems counter-productive; in today's world, "nimrod" is associated with a fool, a moron. In my tale, Nimrod is anything but.

I wanted a biblical association with the ancient kings of the Hebrew world, and what caught my eye was his brief description in Genesis 10:8-9;

"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."

That's it. Nimrod's entire entry in the Old Testament consisted of two lines in the lineage of Noah. But that "mighty hunter" commentary stuck with me, and I started searching.

Nimrod is an interesting figure, and has a lot of mythology associated with him in spite of his miniscule notation in the Bible. He was a great grandson of Noah, a great king of a land that included Assyria and Babel, and a noted hunter. And according to legend, he may have been something...more. But I needed more on him, so I kept searching.

What sealed the deal for me was coming across a website (or blog, I forget) where a man with the unfortunate name of Nimrod complained about the troubles he's had with his own name. He knew of the name origins, of course, but all it did was cause problems for him growing up. He wished he could come up with a way to erase the negative imagery associated with the name, so he hold his head up a little higher.

That's when I knew. My character was definitely going to be a Nimrod.

I have this image of John Wayne as Big Jake, getting angry when people would see him and say "I thought you were dead!" I can easily picture my Nimrod getting equally angry, when someone starts cracking jokes over his name. It just fits, perfectly. And once I had that vision of Big Jake in my head, I suddenly knew Nimrod like he was my own father. A character was born.

Jacob 'Big Jake' McCandles: And now you understand. Anything goes wrong, anything at all... your fault, my fault, nobody's fault... it won't matter - I'm gonna blow your head off. No matter what else happens, no matter who gets killed I'm gonna blow your head off.

Yeah. It's that good.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Dumb Ways to Get Dumped

I want it said, on the record, that I absolutely despise all self-help books, motivational tapes, and how-to lists. They're stupid and unnecessary, doing little more than telling you what you already know but are too chickenshit or imbecilic to admit to yourself - so you pay someone else money to tell you what your mother, best friend or the bum on the street will tell you for free.

Now having said that, I stumbled across a moronic list on AskMen.com: six ways to get yourself dumped.


Who came up with this? Are they that bored? How much of a spineless nothing do you have to be, to need a list of ways to get your girlfriend/spouse/whatever to dump your sorry ass? I'm betting she's already considering it, if you're the type of guy who needs this list.

Here are the ways these geniuses have come up with for you to get the final boot up your ass:
Step 1- Be ultra-noncommittal
Step 2- Be depressing
Step 3- Stop being affectionate
Step 4- Be inconsiderate
Step 5- Tell her you don't believe in marriage
Step 6- Disagree, all the time, about everything

Now...why in the hell would I want to put myself through all the drama that these steps will provide?

Be depressing? Why, so she'll feel guilty for leaving you and stick around to try to fix you? Tell her you don't believe in marriage? Oh sure, cuz that trick's never been tried before. Disagree all the time? Newsflash - that happens even in healthy relationships.

This list sucks. You want to get dumped? Here are the Trickster's top ways to get this done, quickly and efficiently:
#1: Flirt with her sister/best friend/mother in front of her
This is a guaranteed way to get kicked to the curb. And as a bonus, you might actually get laid in the process.

#2: Tell her you've been cheating on her, and you'd like an open relationship
She'll outrace the Road Runner trying to get away from your STD-riddled ass. And as a bonus, she might decide it's a good idea - so you get to have your cake and eat it too.

#3: Tell her you're interested in a threesome with her sister/mother/best friend.
Oh boy, will she be pissed and decide you're about as worthless as a used tampon. And again, as a bonus...

#4: Tell her you're not in the mood, because she's not that good a lay.
This one might involve some violence, but by the time the pain on your cheek from the bitch-slap she just gave you goes away she'll be out the door.

Now all of these involve drama to some extent - but it's short-term drama, not that long-term crap from the AskMen list. I can't help but wonder if that list was actually created by women. Or gay men, which amounts to the same thing.

It's the KISS principle. Keep it simple, stupid.

She Looked Like A Girl, Then She Took Off Her Face

Be afraid. Be very afraid, because it just got harder to tell the bois from the girls.

There's a company called Photogenic Masks (http://www.photogenicmask.com) that...well...they make masks. Photogenic masks. And why? I'll quote directly from the website:
"PhotogenicMasks have been created for anyone who desires to become a girl quickly and easily."

Now...I'm guessing this product isn't made for women. Girls. Females. The double-X chromosomes.

No, this is made for guys who WANT to look like girls. And that's a little scary, given how these things look.

More from the website:
Our goal is:
* To create a "photogenic," attractive look as far as is possible
* A mask that is quick/easy/safe to put on/take off
* Anytime
* Anywhere
* For anybody who wants to be a girl

The fun doesn't stop there!

The masks come in variations of Asian and Euro, and - AND - they come with different eye-hole "systems", described as "real" and "mesh".

But wait - there's more!

The company also makes custom wigs (for men's larger heads), and breasts to match the face. Because you don't want a mis-matched pair of boobs when you're putting on your face in the morning.

The masks are made of silicone, are water proof, and - because I guess this had to be stated - do not tan.

The mask (900), Chest (400) and Wig (200) system can be yours for only $1500 USD. Gods help us all.

Now...I couldn't just let this go without doing some more research. I needed to know: how does a human look in these things?

Well of course I found out! Someone actually wore them, and posted pics:

So, having seen this, I gotta ask:

Am I the only one who thinks they look like human blow-up dolls?

I am officially creeped out now. Happy 666 Day!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Movie Review: X's and Ex's

This is a warning to all the guys out there: don't take your woman to go see "The Breakup", with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston. Don't do it man. I mean it.

You will get suckered into going; it looks like a date movie, and there aren't a lot of date movies out right now. But I don't care if you have to man-up and take her to see a ballet, theater, ANYTHING but this movie.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie. But it's a trap, man! There is nothing nice that happens in the flick. You will get elbowed in the ribs every 20 minutes, with her rolling her eyes at you and going "see?"

The premise is that the happy couple host a dinner at their relatively new condo they've purchased together, and while the dinner itself was a success their attitudes about it aren't. Vince's character is lazy; let's be honest about that. He comes home from work and immediately plops down on the couch, turns on his big screen television and grabs a beer - while Jennifer, who came home early, has spent all evening cleaning and cooking.

They start out arguing over lemons, of all things; she asked him to bring home 12 lemons, he brings 3. She wanted the lemons to make a centerpiece for the dinner table, he suggests not having one...and the shit hits the fan from there.

After the dinner they launch into a heated argument over responsibilities, expectations, and personal viewpoints that ends up with her ending their relationship.

Except...they own this condo together. And neither wants to give it up, so in the midst of this anger they're living together. It becomes a game between them, with Aniston trying to make him jealous and "see her way, and apologize" and him being absolutely clueless, but getting drawn up into her games and trying to outdo her.

You do not walk out of this movie happy. At all. These two people love each other, but they're both screwed in the head and just can't stop playing stupid games with each other. There is no communication, and without giving away the ending I'll at least say you're going to walk out of this movie with one of two emotions:
- depression
- anger

You've been warned.

I absolutely recommend you do NOT see this movie if you're in a relationship where you have communication problems. All it'll do is highlight all of the problems you're having, and you'll come out arguing about them. There is no happy ending here, folks. Don't do it.

I give this a 2-1/2 out of 5 bananas.

On the other hand, DO go see X-Men: The Last Stand.

Just...forget everything you ever knew about the comic books.

Understand: this is a movie based on the characters, and that's it. They are not following a specific comic storyline, and they do change up certain things about the characters. You also get the impression that this is the end of the movie franchise for the X-Men (I won't say why), but then again...who knows? I already know there's a Wolverine movie in discussion.

The premise is that a research company, Worthington Labs, has discovered a way to suppress the mutant X gene; they call it a cure. The mutants call it genocide - at least, some of them do. Others see it as a chance to be normal, to finally fit in.

I don't need to tell you what side of the fence Magneto and his Brotherhood stand on.

It's war, people, mutants against humans - with the X-Men holding the line between them.

Good luck trying to figure out the characters in the Brotherhood; they're such an amalgamated mish-mosh of other characters, you'll be hard pressed to name them. Callisto is given what should have been Quicksilver's speed and Caliban's mutant-sensing ability; Kid Omega is instead given the powers we associated with Quill. There's another character with the ability to turn invisible who I only found out was Psylocke after looking it up online. And Juggernaut is reduced to a one-trick pony, more reminscient of Rhino than the Juggy we all know and love.

Despite these changes (and more dramatic ones to the X-Men themselves), this was a pretty good movie. It was well paced, with just enough drama and action to keep you interested. I just wish certain characters had more screen time; Jamie Madrox (the Multiple Man) looks like he'd be a crackup, and I'd like to actually see Colossus speak once in a while. Rogue was practically a non-entity, although I rationalized that because they couldn't have TWO power-leeching mutants stealing screen time in the same movie (yeah, that's a big clue there!)

As long as you can forget everything you knew about the history of the X-men, you'll enjoy the movie for what it is - an action superhero movie.

Oh, and stick around after the credits. You won't be disappointed.

I give it a 3 out of 5 bananas.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The City That Homeland Forgot

New York City has no national monuments or icons. At least that's the published opinion of the Department of Homeland Security.

As one of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, put it:

"New York did once have a National Landmark, but some people flew a couple of planes into it."

This revelation was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

"All I can tell you is if you look at their worksheets, and it says that New York City doesn't have any high visibility national icons ... I mean, I don't have to list the Brooklyn Bridge, the United Nations, Rockefeller Center, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and the Stock Exchange," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.

One commenter to the ABC news blotter wrote this:

"No wonder they couldn't find out whether Saddam had WMD. They couldn't find a national monument in New York."

Oh, and DC? Got slashed 40%. I guess they have no national monuments either.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Let The iWars Begin!

I'm not the only one on the anti-ipod kick.

Microsoft Corp. will ally with Toshiba Corp., Victor Co. of Japan, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and five other companies to offer music and video distribution services and media players to compete against Apple Computer Inc.

The companies will develop a portable music and video player for the Japanese market, according to a Microsoft press release dated yesterday. The device would challenge Apple's iPod digital music player, the best-selling device that plays songs and other media downloaded from the Internet or copied from compact discs.

Microsoft will develop the software while consumer electronics makers Toshiba and Victor, will make the portable device.

DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile phone operator, last month said it would offer a handset that is compatible with Microsoft's software, and that lets customers transfer Windows format music files from their personal computers to their cell-phones

The thing is...what do they really think they're going to come up with that will knock off the iPod? I mean, there are literally hundreds of mp3 players out there - quite a number of which are visually and operationally more appealing than the iPod - and none of them have been able to topple the fervor Apple people have for their products.

Sony couldn't do it. Sandisk couldn't do it. Creative Labs' "Zen", Samsung's "Yepp", Dell's "Jukebox", RCA's "Lyra", the Rio, the iRiver...all these sound familiar?

Also-rans. Each and every one.

So what the hell does Microsoft think they could possibly come up with to topple it? Bundling it with Vista operability? Oh yeah, cuz everyone loves their proprietary systems. And the chance to go out and buy a new PC with Vista.

Oh wait. Vista's delayed.


Microsoft. Pfeh. There's an old joke that was featured in, of all things, a Batman graphic novel called the "Killing Joke", that fits this whole scenario:

Two inmates escaped from an insane asylum. When they are trying to work out how to get over the wall, one inmate says "I'll turn on this flashlight, and you can walk along the light beam to get over the wall." The second inmate replies, "I'm not falling for that; you'll turn the flashlight off when I'm halfway across."

Good luck getting over that wall, Bill.