Friday, January 30, 2004

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

--Excerpt from the movie Rules of Attraction--

Took a charter flight on a DC-10 to London, landed at Heathrow, took a cab to the city center. Don't let people lie to you: hostels are for the ugly. I'm staying at Home House, the most beautiful hotel in the world. Called a friend from school who was selling hash, but she wasn't in. I meet a couple of Brits who take me to of all places, Camden Street. I flirt a bit at the Virgin Megastore, buy a few CDs, then follow some girls with pink hair. I wandered around trying to get laid, until it started to rain, then went back to Home House. Ministry of Sound is dead so I go to Remform, but it's gay night. I find the one hetero girl in the place and we dry hump on the dance floor. We cab it back to Home House. I strip her clothes off, suck her toes and we fuck. Hung out there for four or five days, met the world's biggest DJ, Paul Oakenfold, kept missing the Changing of the Guard, wrote my mom a postcard I never sent, bought some speed from an Italian junkie, who was trying to sell me a stolen bike, smoked a lot of hash that had too much tobacco in it, saw the Tate, saw Big Ben, ate a lot of weird English food. It rained a lot, it was expensive and I'm jonesing it so I split for Amsterdam.

The Dutch all know English, so I didn't have to speak Dutch which was a relief. I cruise the Red Light District, visit a sex show, a sex museum, smoked a lot of hash. I meet a Dutch TV actress and we drink absinthe at a bar called Absinthe. The museums were cool I guess. Lots of Van Goghs and the Vermeers were intense. Wandered around, bought a lot of pastries, ate some intense waffles. Went and bought some coke and cruised the Red Light District until I found some blonde with big tits that reminds me of Lara. I gave her a hundred guilders. In the end, she pulls me out and I come between her tits, even though I'm wearing a rubber. Afterward we make small talk about AIDS, her Moroccan pimp and herself. I wake to the sound of a wino singing. It's eight AM and hot as blazes. I pretend to ice-skate around central station while someone else plays the sax. Trade songs with a Kiwi girl and then split for Paris by train.

Wander the Champs-Elysees, climb the Eiffel Tower for only seven francs because the ticket machine was broken. Got the hang of the metro, took it everywhere. Went to a Ford model party and hooked up with a Romanian model named Corina. She chugs my cock at the Mariott Champs-Elysees, which is good. We played billiards, went shopping, I think she gave me mono. Drove a Ferrari that belonged to a member of the Saudi royal family. Made out with a Dutch model in front of the Louvre. Saw the Arc de Triomphe and almost became road kill crossing the street. "Oakie" invites me to Dublin so I catch an Aer Lingus flight and stay at the Morrison.

Dublin rocks like you can't imagine. Oakenfold lets me spin some discs with him. Irish girls are as small as leprechauns. I swap hickies with a drunk one. After groping my abs and calling me "Mr. L.A." she strips for me in the bathroom of the club. Sneak into the Guiness factory and steal some stout, so good my dick goes hard.

I fly to Barcelona, which is a low-rent bust; too many fat American students, too many lame meat markets. I dropped acid at the Segrada Famila, which was a trip to say the least. Cruise up the coast to Museo Gala Dali, but had no more acid, which sucked. Some girl from Camden calls me on my cell, so I let her listen to the church bells in Cadaques. Canta Cruz is beautiful, but there are no girls here, just old hippies, so I went to Switzerland where, ironically, I couldn't find anyone who had the time.

Took the Glacier Express up the Shiltone, which was beautiful in a way I can't describe. EuroPass into Italy and ended up in Venice, where I meet a hot girl who looks like Rachael Leigh Cook and speaks better English than I do. She's living for a year on only five dollars a day. We gondola around, buy some masks. She think's I'm a captalist because my hotel room costs more in one night than she's spending on her entire trip, but she doesn't mind it so much when I pay the bills.

I ditch her and hook up with a couple who obviously want a threesome. Too much tension there but the doofus offers to drive me to Rome. An offer I jump at. Traffic is bad and we're stopped for hours without moving. The wife turns out to be a freak, the guy starts to wig out on me. It's lts like a Polanski film. We stop for a while in Florence where I see some big dome. A bomb goes off and I lose the weird couple, which is probably for the best.

Ended up in Rome, which is big and hot and dirty. It's just like L.A., but with ruins. I went to the Vatican, which was ridculoisly opulent. Stood for two hours to get into the Sistine Chapel, which -now that it's been cleaned- looked fake. I meet two underage Italian girls who I try to talk into a threesome while I jack-off onto them. Bored, I buy them ice cream instead. My hotel has a gym so I work out. I bump into some guy from Camden who says he knows me, but I'm sure he's a fag so I lose him. I try to fat and instead shit my pants. Back in my hotel room I masturbate and have a pain in my groin. That night I dream about a beautiful girl half in water, stretching her lean body. She asked me if I liked it and I tell her she can clean fish with it. I don't know what it means, but I wake well rested, masturbate in the shower and check out.

I make my way back to London and hang out at a Piccadilly Circus. Hmm. Palakon. I swap shirts with some upper-crusty Cambridge chick. Hers was an Agnes B, mine a Costume Nationale. She acts stuffy and prudish, but is really wild underneath it all. She barely looks at my abs, although she wants to. The next day I drop acid and get lost on the subway for a full day and can't find my way out. I meet a cute girl who lets me jack off onto her as long as no cum gets onto her Paul Smith coat. We get stoned while listening to a Michael Jackson record and the next morning I wake up talking to myself. I have a big bump on my head from flailing in my sleep. I get my stuff and barely make my plane back to the United States.

I no longer know who I am and I feel like the ghost of a total stranger.

AIM: therbmcc71

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

I Absolutely Fucking Love The Title of My Page

That's not just ego. I really, really love it. It's considerably shorter than the old title (Film Essays- The Redheaded Stepchild of a Cynical World) and a rather direct statement aimed at some of the people who come over here from the Best Site On Earth (see sidebar). So, I figured that if I was going to have some fun with re-titling the site, then I might as well throw a new template onto it, because that last one was fucking ugly like no website has been since the invention of Mosaic. Blind people loaded up my page and their browser-to-speech program went, "Aw, damn! Be glad you're blind, brother!" Of course, seeing how many people come over from the Best Site On Earth (again, sidebar), I'm trying to figure out how it is that the blind could get anything out of those Jenna Von Oy pictures. ... But, then again, Playboy has a Braille edition.

So I'm talking to one of my friends today. Her name is not Elaine, I swear. Don't go looking up Elaines in the local phonebook, because this isn't her. Anyway, "non-Elaine" is telling me about her burgeoning eating-disorder, in that she really wants to eat, but refuses to. Apparently she told her boyfriend, who we're going to refer to as "non-Puddy" (because it goes with non-Elaine), that her friend gained a ton of weight after getting married, and non-Puddy says that's why he's never getting married, because he doesn't want his wife getting fat on him.

I could've phrased that sort of statement better, myself, and that's saying quite a bit, given that I was born without a sense of tact. Three kidneys, but no tact; it's very sad. Anyway, so here she is just starving herself to make sure that she doesn't get fat, because she says she looks at a cheeseburger and her jeans begin to feel tighter. Me, I get that same effect from looking at melons. (cue laugh track) ... So, here we've got this girl who's not eating (or rarely eats), because she wants to look good for her guy, and, here's the world's smallest violinist playing just for her. After all, when Valentine's Day rolls around, he'll be able to sweep her off her feet (because she'll weigh eighty pounds) and they'll be able to dance to everyone's favorite song, "Close To You."

Now. If you understand why "Close To You" is funny in this situation, give yourself a pat on the back. No, it's not because it's a bad or old song, and no, it's got nothing to do with the movie Parenthood. If you don't get it, you just don't get it, or you think that anorexia isn't funny, whereas you've got a valid point, but your point is wrong.

On the flipside of the coin, the winner of the Best Documentary prize at the Sundance film festival this weekend was a movie called Super Size Me in which a guy eats three meals a day at McDonald's. You might think it sounds easy, but wait until a few days in, like when this guy started complaining of having "McGurgles" and "McGas." By the end of the film (by the end of the month), he'd put on twenty-four pounds and his cholesterol count ended up being about equal to your SAT score.

And the Superbowl is apparently going to have three commercials for drugs like Viagra and Levitra. That's right, drugs that treat Erectile Dysfunction. This is like that old George Carlin skit, where he's talking about the various titles of 'shellshock' through the ages, and I think this whole Erectile Dysfunction thing is just another one of those crocks of shit. All right? You know what? You're fucking impotent, you dumb bastard! You just call it Erectile Dystfunction, or -worse yet- abbreviate it as 'ED' (congratulations to you if your name actually happens to be Ed) to make yourself feel better, because you're free of the whole stigma that comes with the word 'impotent.' After all, Erectile Dysfunction just sounds like a wiring problem in your house, whereas 'impotence' sounds like your fuse box caught fire and burned down your entire fucking neighborhood.

I really don't know where I was going with that. I'm going to bed.

AIM: therbmcc71

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Okay, now that it's a given that the comments work, I'm trying to think up some actual content to post, but in the meantime, I'm just going to put forward a link for everyone to see. I don't think my own political leanings are any mystery, so here are the winners of a contest for best 30-second ad for a particular piece of subject matter which I won't divulge. I just urge you to watch the winner, "Child's Pay" in particular, because it won the contest, but CBS won't allow it to be run during the Superbowl. Some of the finalists are also very good, and some are pretty average, but those are worth checking out, too.

All kind of makes me want to find a cause and make a commercial. Comment away, yo.

AIM: therbmcc71
All right, my two readers, and the couple-hundred I've been getting for the last two days... Due to my overwhelming need for attention, I've finally gone and added commentability to the site and -more importantly- applied it retroactively to the previous two posts, since they're at least worth commenting on.

*Edited* : Okay, it's fucked up. Lemme see if I can fix this.
*Edited* : After nine attempts, it's finally up and running.
*Edited* : After the ninth attempt, it broke again. I have given up on the British comment-serving site and have switched over to Haloscan, because it seems to work for Amy. We'll see if I can finally get this damn thing to work.

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, January 23, 2004

Analysis of Female Characters in Male-Created Videogames
Or, I’ll Take My PhD Now


*** Author’s note: This, for the most part, is pretty dry reading, and should get me out of ever having to take a Gender Studies course. The actual entertainment is the five to seven paragraphs from the bottom. If you’ve played FFX-2, you’ll find a shocking little hypothesis I’ve come up with. Pity I'm too tired to write an actual conclusion to the paper. ***

*** Note #2: If you're looking for the Cameron Crowe bit, it's in the post I did yesterday, which is below. ***

Going back into the history of videogames, the role of producer or creative director has generally been a male-dominated profession. Without going into any actual research, the only woman I can think of who’s ever performed that duty is Roberta Williams, best known for the King’s Quest games of twenty years’ past. Videogame design is unarguably a male-dominated profession, and so it begs the question of how female roles are portrayed in these games.

“I write a man… and then I take away logic and accountability.”

Men, by and large, haven’t a clue as to how to write good female characters. This stems from the fact that none of us have any clue how the female psyche works. Joss Whedon, in his foreword to the graphic-novel Fray, wrote how he’d been waiting for his entire adolescent life for a superheroine that he’d have a shot with in the event that said heroine was either real or he was a character in a comic book. The lack of any such characters was representative of that industry as a whole, and that lack spills over into any other entertainment-field which is equally dominated by males in creative control.

This is why the great female motion-picture roles of the last twenty years have been written by women like Nora Ephron and Callie Khouri. When men try to write women, they are generally in some role that either supports the male lead or drives them to action. Wives, damsels in distress, dead wives for whom the male lead must get revenge… In the event of a subplot involving romance, love generally (and quite inexplicably) blossoms from the hero saving the damsel or working with another damsel while trying to avenge his dead wife. This said, firemen and widowers must be the most over-sexed men on earth.

Ultimately, the female roles of videogames are as clich├ęd as one would find in any other form of entertainment. There are rarities, however: In the case of Metroid (for the Nintendo Entertainment System), it was not revealed that Samus Aran was a woman until you beat the game, at which point I’m sure most boys were shocked (as I was), of which some boys were dismayed that it wasn’t a guy they could grow up to be like (without a fair amount of surgery), and within that group was likely a group of future-misogynists who cried and vowed never to play Metroid again. Samus’ appearance in the Metroid Prime game (for the Gamecube) is only subtly female, in the sense that the majority of the game is played from a first-person perspective, and it’s only in the cut-scenes that we see that her armor is clearly built for a woman, albeit a woman of Barbie-style proportions. While Metroid Prime is nothing short of a brilliant game, it eschews any sense of Samus’ femininity, likely because it’s nothing that would particularly add to the gameplay.

On the other hand, Cate Archer of the No One Lives Forever series is very much a female and is one of those rare great characters of first-person shooter games. The FPS is a genre so heavily steeped in adrenaline and twitchy reflexes that designers seem to find the notion of a plot more alien than the monsters in Half-Life. No One Lives Forever came with a good plot, a great character and witty dialogue, which adds up to a refreshing change for an otherwise homogenous genre.

There’s no genre that needs well-written characters like the Role-Playing Game, which can arguably be divided into two genres: Japanese and Western. The Western (i.e. North American and European) RPG tends to offer the player very little in terms of created and written main characters, generally leading the player to make choices in the game at certain points, which then reflect back in the attitudes of computer-controlled characters. It’s a very internalized type of gameplay in which the player emotionally takes from the game whatever he brought into it, and gives the player a feeling of a control over his destiny while playing the game.

The Japanese RPG is more like interactive cinema, in that there is a beginning, a middle and an end to the story, and the progression is more or less linear throughout. While there may be subquests that can be performed during the game, they generally can only be performed at certain points while completing the main storyline. Ergo, since the player is forced to play through the game in a certain way, the cut-scenes do not have to reflect the player’s decision, because the decision was made during the design-process. The game plays more like a movie, and characters can be developed in much the same way.

Which brings me to Final Fantasy X (that’s ‘Ten’, not like Malcolm X), which is an ensemble piece about a guy who’s trying to cope with parental neglect because his father went into the future, became a giant demon, came back to the past, sent the main character to the future, then laid waste to the world back in the past and pretty much the entire time until the future. I deal with that shit every day. And the main character (we’ll call him Pansy) falls madly in love with the girl (Yuna) whose job it is to kill his father, even though he knows she has to die in the process of doing so. This game isn’t really the point of study, here, but I just wanted to clue you in before I start talking about the sequel.

And I want to talk about Lulu. Whatever points FFX got for remotely good female characters are automatically deducted for the character of Lulu, who is representative of what I refer to as The Jiggle Factor, which is also seen in games such as DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball, Tekken 4, Soul Calibur 2 and many other games. Basically, the programmers of these games discovered that –while the console was capable of rendering eighty-six million polygons per second- they only had programmed sixty million polygons into any given scene, and so they added those remaining polygons to the female characters’ chests and created a physics engine to govern their bounciness. Hence, The Jiggle Factor, of which Lulu is the RPG poster-girl.

Final Fantasy X-2 (that’s Ten-Two, not twelve, not Malcolm X the Second, et cetera) still features attractive female characters, but manages to rein in the implausibly-built stereotypes of characters such as Lulu (who is limited to a guest appearance), which earns a big Kudos to the designers. At its core, FFX-2 is about Yuna, who didn’t die at the end of FFX, who’s accompanied by Rikku (the thief from FFX) and Paine (she’s new), and they’re looking for clues as to the fate of Pansy, who didn’t die in the first twenty minutes of FFX as I hoped he would. FFX-2 starts out with a music-video, segues into a sort of Charlie’s Angels knockoff, and then becomes a decently-written RPG that seems to lose itself in subquests and borders on being aimless. That’s not to say it isn’t a great and fun game, because it is.

So, one day my friend Matt sees me playing FFX-2 and he comments that, while he thinks all three (Yuna, Rikku and Paine) are hot, he’d take Rikku over the other two. When I asked him if it was her very obvious yellow thong and bra combo or something else, he really couldn’t elaborate. I mentioned that I liked Paine better than the other two, but also found myself at a loss while trying to find any concrete reason as to why.

Barring the way the characters act during the cut-scenes and anything they might say during the beginning or end of a battle, they are virtually statistically identical. A few points here and there after playing for forty hours don’t really matter that much; so, given that they play virtually identically, I found that a man playing FFX-2 will make his favorite character into the ass-kicker of the group, relegating the other two into supporting roles such as White Mage or Alchemist, who essentially exist to keep his favorite character alive. But, the question is: Why? What is it that makes a man desire one of these characters over another?

There’s a classic personality-test you can ask any heterosexual man that determines part of his nature or psyche: Imagine you’re the Professor on Gilligan’s Island and you have your choice of Ginger or Mary-Ann. Given that your competition is Gilligan and the Skipper, you get to pick first. So, given that data, do you pick Ginger or Mary-Ann? No, ‘both’ is not an acceptable answer, nor is ‘Mrs. Howell.’

The answer to this question determines whether a guy would rather have a glamorous movie star or the shy girl-next-door. That example out of the way, we now apply the same sort of question to FFX-2 and come up with the following data:

Yuna represents the girl next door. You know she’s had a boyfriend or two, but she’s certainly not the town slut. She likes long walks in Macalania Woods and enjoys going to see a movie and then a trip to the malt shop. A player who picks Yuna is looking for a woman who will be his companion and equal in life.

Rikku represents the girl next door’s younger sister. She had a boyfriend for three days back in junior-high. You can be pretty sure that she’s compensating for not feeling a real ownership of her own sexuality by showing off her thong, bra and short-shorts. She likes going to McDonalds and goes by the nickname ‘jailbait’. The player who picks Rikku is drawn to her lack of sexual experience, thus placing the player in the role of ‘teacher’, which then implies having power of sorts over a woman.

Paine represents the girls next door’s older cousin who comes over to babysit from time to time, even though the girls next door are quite old enough to not need a babysitter. She likes to invite her boyfriend over and send the girls to bed early. The player who chooses Paine wants a woman more experienced than himself, and potentially wants to be treated as a sex-object himself.


AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, January 22, 2004

A Hysterical Work of Staggering Genius

There are really very few pieces of writing that I'm fantastically proud of. There's quite a few things that I've written that other people are proud of, but I generally either hold myself to a higher standard, or I just hate myself sometimes and feel that anything I do is complete and utter shit. This is not one of them. Thanks to my friend Lauren, I now have access to a piece of writing that I did in 2002, right before she left for Florida. If she had just Xerox'ed this and given it to me, it wouldn't be up here because I probably wouldn't take the time to type it out. But, type it out she did, and that's what I'm copying and pasting into here.

And someday this is going to get all over the internet, have my name scrubbed out of it, and then I'll be hanging out with the guy who did Badger, Mushroom, Snake and getting absolutely no credit. So, if you ever see this, make sure you tell them that they owe me props and maybe The Mad Cash.
--- (begin) ---
" Lauren,
Seeing as your book was making seemingly endless rounds through the crowd on Saturday, I was unable to get a hold of it and add to the equally endless list of comments like 'Have fun!" or "Say hi to Mickey Mouse for me!" or "Write me!" or any of a multitude of combinations or variations on such comments, representative of the banality that is apparent in this Carson Daly America we currently reside in. Since I believe Carson Daly is the devil and asinine commentary such as the above examples is the bane of my existence, I leave you with the following.
And because brevity is not a gift I possess. 'Soul of Wit' my ass.
So. With two hours until your arrival with no less than 6.02 x 10 to the 23rd power people, I suppose this would be a good time to construct a theme for the following stream-of-conciousness essay, and all Ican think of is the DVD I gave you. So, here we go:

'Everything I Ever Needed To Know I Learned From Cameron Crowe'
or,
The I-Ching 2002

Fast Times at Ridgemont High was based on a novel by Cameron Crowe and directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless). When you think about it, it's hard to equate the film to real life, seeing as how surfer-dudes like Spicoli don't really exist out here -- though they may in Florida, so watch for them. This is not to say one cannot draw comparisons , as I would probably equate myself to the Judge Reinhold character; perhaps not in his entirety, but it provides a modest segueway into the first lesson:

* 1) If you feel the overwhelming need to enter the bathroom and pleasure yourself while fantasizing about someone, for the love of God, LOCK the bathroom door. These few seconds of security precaution are worth much more than the years of stories that will be sung about you around the campfire. Do not let your life be a cautionary tale to others.

Since it's been a rather long time since I saw that movie, we now move on to Say Anything, Crowe's directorial debut.

* 2) If you want people to remember you, make sure your life comes with a great soundtrack.

Most guys wish they were Lloyd Dobbler. If they don't, then they already think they are, and the fact is most of these guys are probably more like Joe, who "lies when he cries." We all think that someday we'll be holding a boom-box (nee 'Ghetto Blaster') over our heads, playing 'In Your Eyes,' but most of us guys are fuckups and we'd just end up playing something like 'Shock the Monkey' instead, because 'In Your Eyes' is not on Peter Gabriel's Greatest Hits album as one would expect it to be.

Lloyd: 'If you guys claim to know so much about women, why are you at a Gas'N'Sip at 10:30 on a Friday night with no women to be seen anywhere?'
Guys: 'By choice man. Yeah. By choice.'

* 3) Trust no one, or at least anyone who claims to know all the answers but lacks quantifiable proof...except for me.
* 4a) All the rain in the world will not turn you into a new person.
4b) If you're going to dump someone, do not give the individual a gift....especially a pen.

It's been a good ten years since that movie came out, and kickboxing remains the Sport Of The Future. Hopefully that day will never come, because that would make the Sport Of The Future none other than Rollerball.

* 5) If you're looking for a good guy, go with the one who drinks but can assume the role of Keymaster and a)not drink for the night, and b) not demand you be the Gatekeeper at the end of the night. Bit of Ghostbusters humor there.
* 6) Pick up a guy who is good with old people and children. This is helpful for the next sixty years of your life.

SINGLES-- Bridget Fonda, Matt Dillon, Pearl Jam, et cetera.
Lots of little lessons that aren't deserving of being actual rules: People love their cars, so a Supertrain will never work and should remain a short-lived Love Boat knockoff. You do not need a boob-job and I hope the doctor will tell you that if you ever think you do. Do not get into video-dating like your flakey roommate. Have a good soundtrack.

* 7) If a guy gives you the remote to his underground parking garage, he clearly thinks its a lasting relationship. You have about two seconds to figure out if you think so, too. Don't be hasty.
* 8) Eventually, you will find your standards for romantic involvement fall through the floor. This is normal for your early-twenties, but the guy HAS to say 'bless you' when you sneeze. Don't bend on that.
* 9) If you break up with a guy, clean your toilet with anything he may have left at your place. This is apparently very cathartic.

This movie is nice and all, and it's pretty funny, but I just don't empathize with any of the guys; least of all Matt Dillon, who plays the singer for a band called Citizen Dick. As women go, I suppose you'd rather be Bridget Fonda than...Kevin Bacon's wife, whatever her name is. Just don't let a guy put a new stereo in your car without permission.
Okay, so the movie's pretty forgettable, so let's move on.

JERRY MAGUIRE -- with Jerry Cantrell, as Jesus of the Copymat.
Since you're not a single mother we can toss all of those associated rules, since I'm pressed for time. However, dogs and bees can smell fear, AND the human head weighs eight pounds.

* 10) Be wary of drink and cold pizza, for you may grow a conscience or a third nipple. The former can get you to write a mission statement and fired from your job. The latter can get you burned at the stake for being a witch.
* 11) When dumping an egotistical bitch, stay at elast five feet away, lest you get your ass beat.
* 12) Jazz, no matter what they say, is not good sex music.
* 13) Either get the Kwan for yourself or be someone else's Ambassador of Kwan. Kwan means love and respect. Many people have the coin, but few people have the Kwan.
* 14) If a guy won't let you get rid of him, he is either a keeper, or, much more likely, a stalker who will inevitably play 'Sledgehammer' on his boom-box outside your home.
* 15) Do not rush into marriage as a way of getting family medical insurance coverage.
* 16) Men who can pay compliments like 'That's not a dress; that's an Audrey Hepburn movie,' or 'You're Bozo Bucket Number Six,' are good dating-material. This also applies to the line from Singles, 'You're looking very nice, and I don't mean that in an Eddie Haskell kind of way.'
* 17) If you really, really, need someone, do anything the ask, including shouting 'Show me the money!! I love black people!! I'm your motherfucker!!' at the top of your lungs. This is a good demonstration of your devotion.

There are, I'm sure, many more rules, but I haven't the time to cover them all. Many are listed in the full-length Mission Statement on Disc 2 of the Special Edition DVD.

ALMOST FAMOUS/UNTITLED -- A coming-of-age story or a cautionary tale?
A really great movie, but I can think of only two actual rules:

* 18) Do not fall in love with or become a groupie, lest your life become a cautionary tale to others.
* 19) Rock stars are not your friends.

I guess there are three rules, since I just thought of his sister.
* 20) You CAN go home again.


That's about as an appropriate place to leave off as any, seeing as how I never saw Vanilla Sky. There are other rules from other movies, but this is just what Cameron Crowe taught me.
--Tom "
--- (end) ---

One of these days, I'm just going to read this all on stage and either get laughter or people are going to be like, "Is the E-Ching like Ben Wa?"

In the end, if there's one truly important lesson from all of these Cameron Crowe movies: Make sure your life has a good soundtrack.

*edited three seconds later* And one of these days, I'll explain how there are three or four kinds of men in this world, and which one you are, or which one you have as a boyfriend (lesbians, I'm sorry, but I don't understand a thing about women) directly equate to various Cameron Crowe characters. And, then -because that only takes like five lines- I'll get around to the Yuna-Rikku-Paine discussion about Final Fantasy X-2 and why they're the new Ginger & Mary-Ann.

AIM: therbmcc71

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Another Throwaway Post From The Depths

I'm in the college computer-lab right now, catching up on my reading, and making a couple of comments to the Games section of Slashdot, the latest of which is a potential remedy to the evil that is sniping in multiplayer first-person shooters. Yes, I have become a Slashdot Karma-Whore. And, since it's been something like a week and a half since I've put anything on here, I suppose I'll do that now.

As much as I don't like to write about myself on this page, as it's generally intended for me to rant about things like movies and music, I feel the need to talk about my Health And Wellness teacher, because it's the one class I'm taking right now that I don't totally enjoy. In fact, I can't stand the class, and this is after one session. The guy lectures in such a way as to pace up and down the rows of the classroom, which is why the guy reminds me a lot of the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket. I imagine that he's probably in his office right now, chanting, eating tofu and doing yoga all at once, which is to say that he's probably eating with his feet. And, from the way he came off the first day of class, he's probably going to start off the next session saying, "I saw some of you outside smoking this morning! If I see you smoking cigarettes again, I will gouge out your eyeballs and skull-fuck you!" I shit you not, the guy is totally fucking nuts.

I've been indoctrinated into three organizations in a twenty-four hour period at college. Having sporadically attended for the last seven years, quite a number of the faculty know me, including a philosophy professor whose class I never took, but he still managed to flag me down in the hallway and bum a cigarette off of me. In any case, I've been roped into the school's "Film Society," which is apparently finally getting the go-ahead, and could finally get me back to being the Film Nazi I was back in my old video-rental days. And then there's the College Bowl team, which I wasn't allowed to be on a couple of years ago, since they'd already picked the team, and still wouldn't let me on after I beat that team in a practice-game. And then there's Model Illinois Government, which is the old standby; because who can really say no to three days of government simulation and four nights of drinking and debauchery? I know I can't, but I'm really hoping for some debauchery this year, seeing how the other two times I went, all I got was the drinking.

Anyway, it's time to amble over to the bookstore and pay entirely too much for books that I'd really rather not have and will likely get pennies on the dollar for at the end of the semester. I'm telling you, if they don't have it used, I'm hitting an online bookstore. This school's not getting a dime from me for a new textbook.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, January 09, 2004

This is basically a throwaway post so nobody thinks I'm dead or something. I've actually been trying to put together a post that makes sense, but I just seem to keep rambling about things like E.T. and Goonies and Interplay's financial reports, but I can't seem to form a coherent thought about any of it, let alone trying to take that incoherence and form it into a flowing post. So, I just realized that this is an election year, so I'm going to throw you a song from almost forty years ago, and hopefully you'll find that it -for the most part- still applies today:

---
The eastern world it tis explodin',
violence flarin', bullets loadin',
you're old enough to kill but not for votin',
you don't believe in war, what's that gun you're totin',
and even the Jordan river has bodies floatin',
but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Don't you understand, what I'm trying to say?
Can't you see the fear that I'm feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there's no running away,
There'll be noone to save with the world in a grave,
take a look around you, boy, it's bound to scare you, boy,
but you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood's so mad, feels like coagulatin',
I'm sittin' here, just contemplatin',
I can't twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
handful of Senators don't pass legislation,
and marches alone can't bring integration,
when human respect is disintegratin',
this whole crazy world is just too frustratin',
and you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Tehn take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
but when your eturn, it's the same old place,
the poundin' of the drums, th pride and disgrace,
you can bury your dead, but don't leave a trace,
hate your next-door-neighbour, but don't forget to say grace,
and you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction.

EVE OF DESTRUCTION
Barry McGuire

---
AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Friday, January 02, 2004

I Still Hate Techno-Thrillers

You know, I got out of the whole techno-thriller genre of literature when Tom Clancy really started to suck. Yeah, when Jack Ryan became El Presidente, that was it for me. The single exception that I would make for the corporate techno-thrillers still suck rule is pretty much anything by Neal Stephenson, and the only one of his that might qualify was Cryptonomicon.

So here I am, reading a copy of a book by the guy who wrote The Da Vinci Code, which I've been told to read, but I'm too cheap to pay retail. So, I picked up a mass-market paperback of one of his previous books, Digital Fortress. It took me not even ten fucking pages to say, "Holy shit, I hope the good guys all die, because I don't like them." I haven't felt like this about any sort of media since I watched the movie Dreamcatcher.

Okay, to give you an idea of how retarded this is, it's like reading The Body Farm all over again, because the main character is a tremendously intelligent fortyish female, and the author can't go more than three pages without making some mention as to how very sexy she is. It's tacky and it's formulaic, borrowing directly from the Atlas Shrugged school of literary mechanics by referring to the main character as "slender" whenever possible. Furthermore, she works for the National Security Agency, which is the most popular federal agency to write about because no one really knows anything about it. For all anyone actually knows, the NSA employees just hold tea-parties and talk about the weather, but since the government won't tell us exactly what they do, authors take it upon themselves to do a little imagining.

I made it sound like the guy's use of mechanics was the part that pissed me off. It's really not. The overblown cliche of working for the NSA irks me, but the worst part has to be the way that the author plays off what these guys are doing as a good thing. See, they're basically reading people's emails to decrypt them and find out if these people are planning terrorist attacks or anything, and that pisses me off, because apparently this guy plays it off that the whole decryption angle is very quick and easy for the NSA. Shit, I think I ought to encrypt an entire library of Kenny G music just so their computer destroys itself after figuring out what it is. Or better yet, the Voynich Manuscript.

See, it's his stance on the matter that pisses me off. He's like, "The NSA decrypts and reads -or doesn't mind if they do- your email, in a flagrant civil-liberty-violating, Ashcroftian 'Big Brother, Where Art Thou'-style manner, basically passing it all off as okay because you might be a terrorist. I figure I should at least start encrypting my email just to make it challenging for the guys. "Is Umgawa a terrorist? No, but he sure hates that Affleck." Personally, every time I read a book or see a movie in which any character works for the National Security Agency, my belief in it drops off just a little bit more. They're like the Santa Claus of federal agencies, because you hear about them all the time, you never see them, and yet they still snag the milk and cookies while they're checking to see if you've been naughty.

So, here I am, like seventy pages into the book and these NSA fucks... I mean, NSA employees are dumbfounded because they've found a code they can't break. And I'm like, "Boo-fucking-hoo." And then they say, "But the guy who made it is going to give it away to the world if he dies before he sells it." And I went, "Yay!" So then the NSA people are like, "Oh, by the way, he's dead, but his partner doesn't know," and I was like, "God, I hope he finds out soon. The world needs that code so I can email my fan-fiction without someone in Washington finding out what Buffy and Faith are doing this week."

I'm just kidding about that whole fan-fiction thing, by the way. Anyway, it just pisses me off that a nice idea like nigh-unbreakable crypto would get perverted and distorted by the author into the greatest evil the world has ever known. Privacy is a good thing. And, if you side with the author and are thinking to yourself right now, "I'm glad the government can read my email, and I don't care because I'm not a terrorist," I just want you to go back into the time-tunnel for me:

Remember showering after junior-high gym-class, when you and everybody else just had to dump all beliefs in privacy and walk through the showers as quickly as humanly possible, never taking your eyes off the ceiling, making sure you didn't get too close to the person in front of you by listening to the splashes his feet made on the floor? It wasn't a shower; it was a nearly-public humiliation five days a week. The teacher would say, "Shower," and you weren't allowed to say, "Um, no?" It wasn't a shower, it was just a parade of underage nudity, the point of which has always escaped me. And the teacher would just sit at the end of the tunnel and hand you a towel.

So, what I'm trying to say here is, that's the kind of violation you should feel by the mere notion that someone could be reading your email, outside of yourself and your intended recipient. If you don't feel that violation, maybe you enjoyed those junior-high showers, and that means there's something completely and totally fucking wrong with you, and you should seek counseling as soon as possible.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

We're No Better, Only Older.

You can tell your friends that I'm a drunk. I won't argue 'cause it's true. ... and that's basically why I'm not explaining to you step-by-step why Leon (The Professional) is such a fantastic movie. I mean, here I was, watching the movie at a friend's house and I went, "Damn, Gary Oldman looks just like Kevin from Five Year Jacket after going like a week without shaving. But that wasn't all; no, of course it wasn't. It's just a great movie, and I dare say that I would shelve it with Fight Club in the Drama section of a video store, rather than in Action. The non-International Cut, sure, that's Action, but I think the International Cut falls more into the Drama category.

Wait, what the fuck am I talking about? Fight Club is a comedy, just like American Beauty. If you put either of them anywhere but Comedy, what are you doing reading this site? Leon is a film (yes, it qualifies as 'film' in my book) that actually shows a would-be action-hero with a bad streak of conscience, and that makes him different than other action-heroes (read: Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, etc.). There's this whole Freudian level that the film operates on that just isn't there in the vast majority of movies, as well as the fact that the characters in the film actually change during its duration. Okay, maybe except for Gary Oldman, but character change/growth is a rarity in virtually any movie these days; which leaves me begging how Russell Crowe got the Oscar for Gladiator.

In any case, right now I'm wearing off what's left of the after-party beer (thank you, Greg and Krista) that's still in me, and so I'm not in any shape to actually talk about why it is that Leon is such a fantastically great film that actually makes that stretch from movie into film. Maybe it's a sad fact that a DVD is the only thing that kept me from passing out along with everyone else (who, I might add, all passed out in about a ten-minute span), but it's a great DVD. If you want to watch The Professional properly, you've got to watch Leon. One of these days, I'll pick it up on DVD and give you the whole rundown, but for now -in the state I'm in- all I can do is give you a glowing recommendation.

Happy New Year's to everyone, and I hope you didn't make any resolutions, because you know that you're just going to break it about twenty days from now.

AIM: therbmcc71
ICQ, MSN, Yahoo: Yeah, right, like I use those.