Saturday, November 15, 2008

Zombies Zombies Zombies (aka Strippers vs. Zombies)

Do you know what I do here?

Yeah, you make crack that turns whores into zombies!
Kyle's visiting, so we're dipping into the zombie DVD stash for some late-night entertainment. Tonight's first (yes, we're doing another one later) blood-drenched choice was this fine waste of 82 minutes of our lives.

The film begins with a 3D zombie movie within the movie that exists only to make you realize that the actual film could have been much, much worse. The mere thought is staggering.

We then endure about 40 minutes before the first zombie appears. During that time, we get almost no nudity--which is a sin in a movie with this alternate title--and instead must endure that scariest of uses of screen time in a movie built entirely around terrible actors: character development.

Like we give a shit.

Seriously, folks, we all know that when you settle down to watch a movie with strippers and zombies, you want two things:

* strippers gettin' nekkid
* zombies eatin' folks
That's it.

Of course, there's always the possibility that I'm being unfair to the filmmakers. Maybe they set out to craft a sensitive drama about the relationship between prostitution, stripping, and zombies. Maybe the bad cafe scene's dialog was an attempt to bring to the screen a cinema verite discussion among a bunch of low-life mental deficients about the various ways in which society consumes us all and ultimately reduces all of us to zombies.

Maybe. But would it have hurt them to throw in more nudity and maybe a couple of zombies eating the cook and the waitress? No. You know it wouldn't.

I opened with the movie's best bit of dialog, but to be fair to this one, it did leave us all howling with pain-tinged laughter on many occasions. Bad dialog was as thick on the ground as blood.

I also have to give the movie credit for showing perhaps the rattiest cat I have ever seen. This critter was so nasty that Kyle speculated they must have glued lint to it; sadly, I think that was actually its fur. In the credits, we learned that the role of Scruffy the Cat was in fact played by Scruffy the Cat and that the film was in memory of Scruffy.

A fitting tribute.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Doug and the Slugs story

I'm still struggling to keep up with work, so I was planning to keep this short. A few folks have asked me to tell the Doug and the Slugs magic moment story, and it's short. Put those two facts together, and you get tonight's blog entry.

I should mention that to me a magic moment is when life presents you with something that feels magical. True magic, something that breaks the rules of science, is unnecessary (and probably doesn't exist). It's the feeling of magic that matters.

In late summer of 1988 (I think that's the date), I was visiting some friends in Toronto. Doug and the Slugs were playing at an amphitheater down by the lake, and we were lucky enough to get tickets. In fact, our luck was so good that our tickets were for the last row that the venue's ceiling completely covered; most of the seats were in the open. The day was lovely, not a cloud in the sky, so the uncovered seats and the grass were all covered by fans, and I regretted having paid extra for the unnecessary cover.

Tomcat Prowl was a relatively new album, so the band was playing a lot of cuts from it. My favorite, which I haven't found on YouTube or would have embedded here, was (and is) "Must Be the Rain." About halfway into the set, while taking a drink of water Doug motioned to the band to noodle around a bit in preparation for the next song. I recognized the opening of "Must Be the Rain."

When Doug first sang the words "must be the rain," the clear blue sky opened up and rain fell straight down. I got to stay dry but watch it. Except, of course, that when life presents you with that sort of opportunity, you can't ignore it, so I got up, ran out into the rain, and joined all the other concert-goers in singing along with the song.

Magic is everywhere, as I keep telling you, and it was in full force in Toronto on that flawless day for me.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A joyful noise

Tonight, I attended a performance of Handel's Messiah in which Sarah and Scott played with their school orchestra, the school choir, and four professional singers. I enjoyed the performance, particularly the familiar part at the end, because though you end up hearing that portion again and again, it remains beautiful.

Ultimately, though, I found the use of the adult singers to detract from, not enhance, the experience. Yes, they were there to improve the sound, and they certainly did that, but I would have preferred the emphasis be on the students. I honestly would rather have listened to four student soloists and an all-student performance simply so young people could be front and center.

My background in classical music is so weak as to be almost non-existent, so most of these performances are new or at least only barely familiar to me. I love watching the kids play, and I always think it's miraculous how good they are. Every time I attend a live musical performance, classical or rock or anything else, I learn again how much power live music possesses. It is a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Another crazy one

I'm going to keep this entry short, because tonight looks to be insanely late and tiring. I have a ton of work on my plate that I must finish before I can sleep, and I'm not yet through with today's writing.

The good news is that I should complete a few of the work things that are keeping my beard long. I'm determined to catch up and trim this damn thing!

I suppose it's also good news that I'm chugging along on the book and actually enjoying reading it. I hope you do, too, when I finally finish it and you get to read it.

To keep you amused, let me introduce you to another Canadian band I used to enjoy, an even more obscure one: Doug and the Slugs. These guys hailed from Vancouver and toured Canada for many years. They were strictly a garage-pop band, but they had some catchy tunes. Sometime, I'll tell you the story of a magic moment I enjoyed at the one live concert of theirs I was lucky enough to attend, but for now I'll leave you with this, the title track from one of their last albums, Tomcat Prowl. Not great music, but fun 80's pop, and a fit song for a hard-work day. Too bad at the end of this one all I'll do is crash.


Things that piss me off

On the long list of things that piss me off, one phrase stands bold and tall:

We're only doing this for your protection.
When a representative of a company says those words, they are rarely telling the truth. Here's one of my special favorites:

We're changing your credit card number for your protection.
No, scumbag, you're doing it to save your company money. If anything happens to my card, per my agreement with you I have a maximum liability of fifty bucks. You're nervous, so you're going to inconvenience me and make me change my credit-card info on approximately as many Web sites as there are atoms in the universe.

Today, I got to hear this one:

This new vial test policy is only for your protection.
No, you lying piece of crap, it's not. It's to protect your medical practice from possible lawsuits.

Ah, not familiar with the vial test? Let me explain.

Once every three weeks, I give myself two subcutaneous allergy serum shots in my left arm. I've been giving myself these shots for about seven years, first weekly, then after a while every ten days, then after another while every two weeks, and now every three weeks. I'll probably be doing this as long as I live. I'm okay with that. Prior to beginning these shots, I had severe allergy issues and a major needle phobia. Now, I have neither. I chose to give the shots to myself to save that most precious of assets: time. The ENT office I use would mail me my serum, I would send them a few bucks for postage, and all was well.

Until the vial test policy. The braintrust at some national otolaryngeal association decided it was no longer safe to mail the vials. As one dipshit explained to me--and I am not making this up--terrorists might intercept the vials and do things to them. Why target McDonald's when you could steal my allergy serum from the mail?

Now, each time you change vials--which happens every three months--you have to go to the doctor's office and have them test the vial on you (or in my case, the two vials). They do what amounts to a scratch test, then make you wait fifteen minutes, then check the size of your reaction.

Of course, you're in the doctor's office, and you're using up a nurse's time, so of course they have to bill you. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

I've been taking the same exact mix of serum without a problem for about four years. Not one problem. So, today I had the vial test, and the size of the reaction area on my arm exceeded their standards. The nurse and I then had this lovely interchange, which I am also not making up:

Nurse: Wow, that must really hurt and itch.

Me: No, I can't feel it.

Nurse: Sure you can. Just look at it. It must really be hurting and itching.

Me: No, honestly, I can't feel it. No pain. No itch. May I please have my vial?

Nuse: I don't know how you can stand it. Maybe if I show it to you in the mirror you'll realize how much it's hurting and itching.

It went downhill from there.

The next step was to dilute the serum and try again. The nurse drew from the same bottle and started to inject me. I suggested she might need to dilute it first, she tittered, and then she did so.

Fifteen more minutes of dead time in the waiting room.

My reaction was one half of a millimeter too wide in diameter.

No serum for me.

I begged.

They had a conference call; I got to hear only my nurse's end.

No serum for me.

Now, I have to come back in about a week--when I'm likely to be out of town--and repeat this process.

Oh, yeah: Of course they'll have to charge me the same fee again.

The serum is worth all this hassle, but I hate every moment of this process.

Good thing it's all for my protection.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I am a great hairy beast

Remember my post on October 22, when I said I would not shave or trim my beard until I had accomplished three goals? Well, I'm still not done with them, so of course I have not shaved or trimmed my beard.

As you can see in this photo, the result of this unrestrained growth is that I am now a great hairy beast. (Yes, I know I also look like a psycho-killer fresh off a major hit of thorazine, but that's partly because I took the photo myself with my iPhone and partly because, well, I look this way a lot. Scary, eh?)

I have made progress. I've finished the first draft of the novel (and am well along on the second draft, which goes way, way, way faster than the first). I have done about half of the budget-box work. I have also completed four of the nine work goals.

I hope to finish the remaining goals by the end of this week.

To my surprise, a number of the women I know have said they preferred me with the longer beard. Though I normally bow quickly and easily to female opinion, in this case the excess facial hair is driving me insane enough that I will trim as soon as I can.

Until then, though, I will continue to morph into North Carolina's own Sasquatch.

Ten reasons I'll never have a job in the Obama administration

10. If someone asked me a question, I'd actually answer it. This behavior is death in any administration, Obama's or otherwise. Can you imagine me crafting debate responses? No way.

9. My stance on marriage: Not only do I support same-gender marriages, I support poly marriages. Any group of adults that wants to get married should be free to do so. They shouldn't blame me, though, for how it goes.

8. I'd raise gas taxes a buck a gallon to help pay for alternative energy development. We use an unfair amount of the world's gas, and we need to develop other fuel sources, so we should pay for it. I'd give a fuel credit to the poor so this doesn't become an unfair burden on them, but the rest of us would just have to suck it up.

7. I'd ask a Canadian band, Blue Rodeo, to be one of the groups that played at the inauguration.

6. A Federal law mandating the purchase and reading of my novels by every American student would probably be a bit much, but I wouldn't be above suggesting it now and again.

5. The media would find a way to see the contents of my DVD collection, and it would be all over. I mean, who owns both Blonde and Blonder and Poultrygeist? That's gotta be a crime in Mississippi or Alabama.

4. They'd never let me bring porn to the White House.

3. I wouldn't take any job unless I got to choose the White House music at least one day a week. What's the point of working there if you can't DJ the tunes?

2. I'd insist on UFC White House Fight Nights and an octagon in the building.

1. I'd demand that Thomas Keller be White House chef, and they can't afford him.


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