Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Looks like good old Bruce Willis will revive his role as John McClane one more time.

Check out Hollywood Reporter for the whole story.


NextGen DVD wars: Everyone Loses

The upcoming war between HD-DVD and Blue-Ray DVD is heating up now that players are starting to hit the market. I myself will be waiting this battle out and choosing whomever the winner is. Usually, I’m an early adopter of tech, but in this case the price you might pay for adopting to early is a useless piece of junk sitting in your den. This whole thing brings back memories of the BetaMax VHS wars of the early eighties. I’m barely old enough to remember that. What I do remember is the first time my dad rented a movie, it was Robocop, for our brand new VHS VCR. Man, it was soooo cool to watch that one guys hand get blown off with a shotgun in slow mo, or to watch that one dude explode when the car hit him.

At any rate, I found an interesting article on Business Week that sums up why we all might be big losers if Blue Ray, and Sony, win the next-gen format war. This is a big deal for anyone who likes to fiddle with electronics like I do, and for videophiles in general. Sony and their clandestine copy protection just downright scares me, as they did with their rootkit fiasco last year.


Giving up the poops

I’ve been using Optimum Nutrition’s Gold Standard 10 lbs bag of protein for a while now. The stuff tastes great and if you get the 10 lbs bag you save a ton of money. At any rate, I ordered my last bag from, as I always do, and a few days later it arrived via UPS. A few days after that, when I ran out of the last bag, I opened up the new bag.

Right off the bat I noticed it smelled different. This isn’t unusual, each protein maker has it’s own smell, and even two containers of the same protein can smell a bit different. It all has to depend on the type of whey protein used and the manufacturing process. At any rate, this smelled more different that usual, it smelled odd, like not right. Something inside me said something was wrong, but being the ignorant ass I was I used some to make a shake anyway. Man did I pay the price. My stomach felt like crap, I got the worst gas, and paid the price on the toilet later. You’d think this was enough to make me stop right? Wrong. I continued to use it. Well, after two days of this I stopped. I decided I was giving up the poops.

I called yesterday and they’re sending me out a new bag. I’m going to play the odds and say this stuff will be fine, just like the other bags I’ve had before it. Allstar was pretty good about it too; the only bad part is I have to send back the bag, which will cost me a few bucks in shipping, which sucks.


Semper Fi

Interesting story out of Atlanta yesterday and I thought I’d share. A small group of “gang members” picked the wrong guy to mess with the other night and paid the price, some with their lives. Thomas Autry, a former Marine cook, used a pocket knife to fend off several of the “gang members”, killing one of them. Click on the link to the article for the whole story. What the article didn’t state was that the part of Thomas Autry that night was played by none other than Steven Segal. Sucks for those guys.


Tuesday, May 30, 2006

They get no respect

It’s been a long time, and I mean a loooooooooooooong time, since the Detroit Tigers got any respect in the game of baseball, from the fans of those that cover the sport. Looks like things are a changing and for the first time in a while I found a positive article about them in SI.Com.


The fizz in a brewski

While drinking some of my Becks Premier Light beer (only 64 calories, which technically if you drink it, according to Aaron, makes you a fag) I got to some thinking, why does beer have fizzles, otherwise known as carbonation?

I’m sure there was a scientific explanation to the fizz, probably a by product of some part of the brewing process. However, I had no idea where, nor why in this advanced time ot fermentation arts we would continue to keep the fizz from beer alive.

Is there a reason for it? Does it serve some purpose? Personally, I think we keep the fizz because its fun. Few things are better than a big old burp after downing a few cans of suds.

Here is a website with some more information on beer fizz, and the finer aspects of brewing it:


Game Review: Call of Duty 2

In the mood to bust out some old school World War Two warfare this Memorial Day weekend, I rented Call of Duty 2. This is my first foray into the Call of Duty series, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I’d heard they were good games, and they seemed to get good rankings on various magazines and websites. So, when I got back home I popped it into the 360, sat back, and let ‘er rip. The result…

Not that impressed.

First, I’ll start with the graphics. This is a very pretty r XBOX game in high definition on the 360. There isn’t anything here you haven’t seen before. Sure, the resolution looks nicer thanks to 1080i, but I think that actually hurt this game. It just made everything that is very average about the visuals in this game stand out even more. It looked like a game that was designed originally for the XBOX, and then tossed into the 360 with some better textures and lighting, stuck in the oven at 350 degrees, and left for three hours. It doesn’t look bad, it just doesn’t look like a 360 game should, in my view anyway.

Second, the sound of the game is pretty good. The score, when available, fits the mood of the various levels in the game. The sound effects are something out of Saving Private Ryan, and fit perfectly. Every weapon sounds like it should. Every explosion sounds like it should. The sound all comes together nicely.

Third, the game play…which is what was the biggest drawback in my view. The game didn’t feel very good. It’s hard to explain, but I’ve had a hard time seeing what is going on. Who is shooting at me, where do I need to go next, what’s the objective…things like this shouldn’t take a lot of effort to figure out, but in this game they do. Granted, war, especially urban combat, is very hectic and fast paced and bewildering, but this just didn’t seem natural. It was as if it was trying to be too bewildering. Also, you move waaaaaaay to slow. Like, just at a trot or leisurely jog, which is a pain. Forget covering fire, it’s useless, since the enemy doesn’t really react to it, and you run so slow that you cant get to where you need to go before they return fire anyway. This becomes a major issue in some levels where you need to outflank people but can’t because they have more than enough time to react to your slow ass jogging.

The level design is sub par as well. There is one path through most levels with a few exceptions. Maybe I’m just spoiled by Ghost Recon which gives you a few paths through the city, but CoD doesn’t. While buildings look good, pathways don’t, and the fact that there are no doors to open is dumb. I hate it when first person games don’t let you open doors.

I want to talk about control here as well. With all the advances that first person shooter control has offered in the past ten years, you’d think you’d be able to do more than just turn and strafe. Not so…there is no backing up against a wall, peeking around corners, leaning out, none of that stuff. Leave that to your Clancy games I guess. However, there is a jump button, which is nice I guess. I really wish more shooters would handle like a Clancy game, and less like a Halo game.

Lets talk multiplayer shall we? Sucks, hard. If you’re playing on your 360 against your friends, forget about adding bots. You can’t, none…period. Just 1 on 1, 2 on 1, 2 on 2, 3 on 1, or every man for himself. No bots at all. Makes death match games boring. On the flip slide, the level designs for the multiplayer maps were pretty good. The menu options are sub par at best, almost like this was an after thought on the game. Really is a shame.

I’d give this game a 3 out of 5. Some of my disappointments are just because of my tastes in shooters, which is very picky. The graphics are average for a 360 game, sound above average, and game play is average, multiplayer is below average, level design below average. Not a failure by any means, but not a success either. This is indicative of first generation games for a new system, they usually fall short of what they should have, and could have, been.


Friday, May 26, 2006

Security Breach?

I posted this stuff to a message board I belong to…I think it’s a pretty big and serious deal, evidently, the news didn’t think the same.

At any rate, here’s the link…I apologize in advance for any pop-ups the sight might cause. It’s a fun site and I encourage you to sign up, which gets rid of the pop-ups.


Thursday, May 25, 2006

So tired

I didn’t sleep well at all last night, and I’m not sure why. I kept waking up and tossing and turning, so much so that Bebe left and went to sleep in the guest bedroom upstairs. I had weird dreams too, stuff that made no sense and was a mish mash of my day and the “Lost” season finale.

I’m so tired this morning, really tired. Like hide under my desk and take a nap tired. Since I’m in a ‘cube, I wouldn’t really be hiding since everyone would be able to see me….which sucks. Otherwise I’d so be under my desk right now, napping.


Study finds no marijuana-lung cancer link

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Marijuana smoking does not increase a person's risk of developing lung cancer, according to the findings of a new study at the University of California Los Angeles that surprised even the researchers.

Read the whole article here.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Movie Review: The Rundown

I was on the phone last night talking to Ryley about God knows what and one way or another he brought up the movie “The Rundown.” Now, I’m a big fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, have been for years, but for one reason or another I have yet to watch a single movie he’s in. Since I had to go to the video store anyway, I figured I’d rent “The Rundown” and have myself a simple evening of fun unadulterated action movie bliss.

The movie stars the aforementioned Rock, as well as Seann William “Stiffler” Scott, and the ultimate evil himself Christopher Walken. The synopsis is this… A man named Beck, played by The Rock, works for this “gangster,” Jimmy, as a retrieval expert. He goes and collects bounties or debts that are owed to Jimmy. We don’t what the deal is with Jimmy, since they don’t develop it at all, but to be honest it has little importance on the film. Jimmy’s kid, Travis, played by Scott, is a Harvard dropout who’s living in Brazil and trying really hard to be a treasure hunter. Beck wants this to be his last job, so he can start his restaurant, and Jimmy agrees.

Beck lands in Brazil and heads off to find Scott where is runs into Hatcher, played by Walken, in this shady town called El Dorado. A little movie trivia here…the working title of this film was Helldorado all the way until shortly before the first trailers came out. The studio decided to change the name of the film to The Rundown, which has nothing to do with the film at all, because they didn’t like the name Hell in the title and thought it might alienate the more conservative audiences that don’t like the word Hell, but have no problem with death and violence. Hatcher runs El Dorado as a slave labor mining camp. Basically, he’s real scum, but Walken makes him interesting sum in that way only Christopher Walken can do with a character.

Turns out Travis owes Hatcher some money, or Hatcher wants what Travis is looking for…whatever, it doesn’t matter, and Hatcher tells Beck he’s going to have to pay for the rights to take Travis out of the town. Beck obliges, pays, and goes out to get Travis, who is at a local watering hole. Beck gets Travis, and then Hatcher shows up, crossing Beck, and wanting more money and the valuable relic only Travis knows how to find. Beck beats up like ten guys and escapes with Travis, who isn’t thrilled about going home.

From there it’s about an hour of nonstop shenanigans until the end of the movie. What’s nice is that The Rundown doesn’t try to be anything it’s not. It knows it’s a fun and simple action flick and does its part in a smart and clever way. The Rock and Scott’s on screen dynamic is great. Their characters are fun and interesting, with Scott really playing up the wanna be whittyness of his character perfectly. There is plenty of violence and fighting to be had with some very well designed action pieces. The camera work leaves something to be desired at times, but overall does a just job of keeping up.

If you don’t go into this film expecting anything groundbreaking I think you’ll enjoy it. Peter Berg directs, which can’t hurt any film, and does a fine job with what he was given here. All in all, the weakest character and actor was actress Rosario Dawson, who, aside from her perfect breasts, did an average job with her part. While nothing in this movie is truly believable, she is the least believable of all. I can’t explain why, since it will reveal a plot twist, but when it happens, I don’t think you’ll buy it either. It’s not that she’s bad; it’s that she just isn’t good.

One more nice thing about this movie, there is no “love story” involved at all. Scott and Rosario’s characters have some sort of implied past relationship, but the reality of it is cleared up in a convenient scene later on. The whole time I was expecting either Rock or Scott to have something click with Rosario, but it didn’t happen and I was glad. There was no room or point for love in this story. Sometimes it’s better to leave things out of the formula and just do the other parts better, I’m glad they went with that method for this movie.

Overall, I’d give this an 8 out of 10 for an action movie rating, and a 7 out of 10 over all. It’s a fun way to spend 90 minutes and was a good feature for the Rock.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Dells smell

I found this article an interesting read. Turns out Dell is preinstalling some questionable software on their laptops and desktops when you order them. I’ve known about some of the crap Dell puts on its computer for a while now and recently had a first hand experience with it with the laptop Bebe bought from them.

Bebe and I have the same desktop computer. Best Buy had a really good sale on a Compaq a few years ago and Bebe bought one. I needed a new desktop since I was still running a 90mhz Pentium 1 and Windows 95 (any this was in like 2002). So, I went up to Best Buy, got me a Best Buy card, and got me the same computer. I already had a monitor and printer, so I got it for a lot less than Bebe did.

At any rate, Bebe teaches online classes for University of Phoenix, so she spends a lot of time on the PC at night working. Sitting in a cheap office chair in the guest bedroom was getting to be too much. We decided to get her a laptop to use, so she can sit on the bed, or on the couch, or up in the loft with me while working on her stuff. After a week or so of looking we found a good Dell.

It arrived and booted up the first time, asking for her information to set it up like all new Windows PCs do. Then it restarted, so the new settings could take effect. Seven minutes later Bebe was using her laptop and happy as can be. I, on the other hand, wasn’t.

A new laptop should not take seven minutes to boot up. I’ve got an Athalon 1700 (1.47 mhz) with 512 MB of SDRAM on my desktop, and it takes about twenty seconds to boot. Bebe’s Dell is almost twice the speed, and dual core to boot, with near a gig of DDR RAM. Seven minutes is just unacceptable.

After Bebe started to complain about the long boot times, I cracked it open and took a look. My oh my was I surprised. There was crap everywhere. I took off AOL, took off Compuserve, took of some sort of toolkit, took off some Web Browser Express thing, and three of four other “programs” installed by Dell to make your computing experience “more pleasurable.” I turned off everything in her launch bar, ended all but the most necessary tasks, and did a defrag. The thing booted up in under a minute this time, mission accomplished.

Here’s my view on the whole thing. First, I bought it, I own it, there should be nothing on it that I didn’t explicitly ask for. Imagine buying a car and getting a family of six to go along with you on every drive. Sure, it may be convenient on long drives to have someone to talk to, but all in all it’s going to just add annoyance to the drive. Same thing applies here. Bebe didn’t buy those programs, she bought a Dell with XP installed, that’s it.

Out Compaqs had some preinstalled software on them too. However, I’m able to toss off the preinstall and do a straight XP install with my recovery CDs. Sure it’s a pain and takes a bit longer, but then again I probably spent the same amount of extra time removing all the crap that comes preloaded.

My next computer will be a laptop, I’m over the desktop thing and since I don’t do gaming or big time processing of stuff, I don’t need a desktop anymore. It’s things like this, and boot camp, that make me lean more and more toward getting a Mac.


Video Game Review: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

If I could sum up Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in one word it would be “overrated.” I rented the game this weekend from Hollywood video. Now, before I go into the review I want to get this off my chest. Hollywood video charges 7.99 to rent an XBOX 360 game, which is a dollar more than a regular XBOX game. In addition, rental fees for all systems have gone up a dollar. Now, I understand retail places charging a dollar more for their wears due to increased gas prices, which make shipping more expensive, I can even understand a pizza delivery place charging a dollar to deliver, but there is no reason Hollywood Video should be able to charge a dollar more to rent games, let a lone a premium price to rent an XBOX 360 game.

Oblivion is a very pretty game, with great sound, that is about as exciting a game to play as Fly Fishing Unleashed. I’m sure there is some very rewarding game play in there somewhere, but I’m not able to find it.

First off, the game structure is a pain in the ass to understand. I know that this game is designed so that you’re not really supposed to understand what you’re doing while building your character the first time through, but being that it takes 40 some odd hours to beat it, I’d rather be able to know what I’m getting into a head of time.

Second, after six hours of playing and beating small quests, I’m still at a level one character with no idea how to level my character up. I’m got these “Major” skills to improve with little to no insight on how to improve them.

Third, the menu system is complicated to navigate and understand. I took at least a half hour just trying to get to the spells section so I could set a hot key.

Fourth, there is no option to shrink or enlarge or otherwise resize the resolution. Now, this might not be a big deal to most people, but I have an old school CRT rear projection HDTV, which are notorious for not being able to display the edges of a picture. Unfortunately, the designers of Oblivions decided to put all sort of message right along the border, messages that I can’t see. It would have been nice to be able to do something about this.

Fifth, the game is slooooooow, too slow in my book. This is by design because the makers wanted a role playing game with the freedom of a Grand Theft Auto world mechanic. You can do the missions, or spend hours doing little side quest and just farting around. While this is great in modern times, it falls a little flat in medieval times.

Sixth, getting around is a pain. Many of the cities are very large and you have to keep swapping to a separate screen to see the map. It would have been nice if I could have put a small map in the upper right of the screen. It’d have made moving around easier. Maybe this is possible, I don’t know, because as I said before the menu system is overly complicated. However, it was a nice touch to put in the “jump” feature that allows you to jump from town to town instead of walking the whole way.

Now, on to the positives…

First, this game is beautiful, I mean stunning. The sheer size and scope of the world is incredible, and I hear looks even better on the PC. My only gripe is the periodic loading of new areas, which sometimes can get boring to sit through if it’s big. This isn’t horrible because the big loads are far and few between.

Second, the music in this game is as incredible as the visuals. The score is perfect for the setting and surroundings, changing at times to meet the changes in game play.

Third, the voice acting is also great. I don’t think the voices always meet the visuals of the people using them, but any game that uses (sing it now) Captian Jean Luc Piccard of the USS Enterprise, gets a thumbs up by me. It’s a shame that I didn’t get to hear too much more from him.

Fourth, the control is spot on. I did pick up on the control of the game quickly and thought it felt sharp and accurate. I have no grips in this category. The ability to switch between third and first person is a nice touch, appealing to which ever style of play someone prefers to use.

Overall I’m sure this is a pretty good game, and probably the standard bearer of the genre. However, this doesn’t suit my fancy or my tastes, so I can’t totally flame it. I’m a more traditional Japanese style RPG fan, and the Elder Scrolls style game play never really appealed to me that much. There are a lot of statistics and tracking things you need to know about, and it was just a bit of overkill for me. I like the idea of not leveling up just by killing people for no reason, but if you’re going to do that you’ve got to make it a bit easier to figure out how to do it. I’m a fan of simpler is better when it comes to character stats and leveling, with more detailed growth as an option and not a necessity. This game might appeal to you, which is why I caution you to rent it first instead of buying it, even if it does cost 8 bucks. Its worth it just to take a few hours to ride around on your horse and look at stuff.



Thanks for showing up

It was good to see the old Pistons back in action last night. I’ve been a bit nervous that they’d started to fall apart as LeBron single-handedly disarmed them over the last three games. However, yesterday the boys went back to work and got it done, old school style. Next up for the Pistons are Shaq and The Heat. For some reason I don’t see them causing the boys as much of a conundrum as LeBron. That boy is downright scary on the floor with the way he looks at the game. It’s not in the “I’m the star player who can juke you” way Kobe does it. It’s the “I’m going to dissect this defense like a velociraptor” look Jordan used to give.

Started working on draft 3 of “Syndrome” and have officially dropped the “Syndrome” working title. Going forward I’ll use the working title “Through the Rain,” which fits the story much better. With the revisions, I’m a little less than half way though the draft and already it’s a much tighter script. It’s not great by any means, but as Ryley told me, it’s the first 100 miles on a 1000 mile journey.

It’s odd, how much taking a few weeks off from writing can spark your creative juices. I remember when I was working during almost all my free time on “Through the Rain,” taking it in any direction I wanted, and it just wasn’t going for me. I wasn’t satisfied, and I think I know why. I had this, what I consider, great concept in my head but didn’t take the time to develop the story before I started to write.

When I wrote “Bystander,” it was an idea I had in my head for years. I’d spent the time working out the story, the main acts, the direction it was going to take, the characters, the main events. I may not have written anything formal down, but it was all there. “Through the Rain” was different, sparked from an idea that came to me while farting around playing video games. I didn’t have the years of time to mull the story over, decide on the characters, figure out the key events. I just sat down and started writing.

It was fun, but eventually became tedious. I was 80 pages in, having developed this whole story, but yet didn’t feel like I had went anywhere with it. Instead a psychological thriller which really makes you queasy to read, I was somehow in the middle of a secret government conspiracy and a plot by the Joint Chief to take over the government with a military coup. This wasn’t going to do, and it wasn’t what I wanted to do. So, I took a step back. Then I took a step forward. Then a step back. Then a step forward, and before I knew it I was doing the cha-cha. Seriously, I stopped writing and took some time to just let it sit and linger.

I’d think about the story while I was at the gym, in the car coming home from work, on the toilet, anywhere I could. I wouldn’t obsess over it, I’d just let it sit there, on the back burner. I developed the character Shaun, quick witted but stuck in a dead end programming job. I thought up the character Michelle, Shaun’s love interest, who is easy going and a little loopy. I thought up Dr. Upton, a smart, but skeptical Dr. who eventually helps get Shaun back to where he belongs. I thought about the psychiatrist, trying to help Shaun with his perceived problems. Then, I worked on Max, possibly the most difficult character in the story, who had to have an impact without actually ever doing anything himself. Once the pieces were in place, the story sort of presented itself.

The three acts (1, 2a, 2b, and 3) were in place before I knew it. I had my story arc, I had my defining moments, I had my climax and conclusion, and I had some twists to toss in at the end. It was all there. So, I sat down, deleted about fifty pages, rewrote a few earlier scenes, and got down to business. Here I am two weeks later with a finished 134 page second draft. I’ve already got this down to 125 in my third draft.

I’ll admit, this is not as good as Bystander, and deals with significantly more difficult stuff to write about, which compounded with my lack of experience, made getting some of these things down on paper very hard to do. However, as an exercise in writing very intense violence and dialogue, I think it was a success. I’ll finish up draft 3 and then let it sit again for a while, until I’m able to come back to it with the know how I need to really make the last act work the way I want it to.

Next up on my plate is finishing up “The Track at Dusk,” the racing script I started last year. I’ve got 80 some odd pages for that down, and it deals with subject matter I’m infinitely more familiar and comfortable with. I stopped writing last year because I went to work back on “Bystander” and needed to grow a bit, talent wise and intellectually, before coming down to tackle the two big themes or the story, trying to keep up with time as you age, and a how a relationship between a man and a woman continues when both are pulled in different directions. I really think the story behind “The Track at Dusk” is solid, and not a simple rehash of some of the other racing films out there (Le Mans, Days of Thunder). Now that I’ve got a bit more experience, I’ll be able to get some of the montage scenes out of the way that will move the story through the 24 regular season races, and the 10 races series for The Cup. That was my main problem, being able to move through several races in quick succession, without having to spend more then ten seconds showing how Frank, the main character, finished.


Friday, May 19, 2006

Net Neutrality Bill Closer to Becoming Reality

There is a move by some in the private sector to change the way we use the internet today. This is something that is somewhat flying under the radar because, quite frankly, most people have no idea how the net works. Basically, there are a few big companies who’ve built the network all internet traffic runs though…your Verizon’s, AT&Ts, Sprints…mainly the phone companies and cable companies. However, unlike phone calls, internet traffic is routed differently over these lines, and thus everyone has basically operated on the concept that anyone can send data anywhere. Well, some corporate head honcho said, “Hey, wait a second…if you’re using my lines, I want to be able to charge you, and give preferential treatment (think speed) to those who pay more.” In essence, they want to change the internet to be more like phone lines, where a company charges another company for use of their lines when routing calls. Think long distance charges for the internet.

In concept this isn’t a bad thing. I mean, they build the infrastructure, why shouldn’t they reap the rewards? Simple, it’s too late to do so. The internet has grown since the eighties on an idea called “Net Neutrality.” That means you can charge to get access, but once you’re in the infrastructure is fair use to all. This has allowed data to transmit freely, openly, and efficiently, all over the place, and helped create one giant World Wide Web available to all who can get online, regardless of ISP or location. Taking away Net Neutrality in effect has the possibility to create several internets, each run and owned by different interests, and thereby breaking down the efficiency and effectiveness of the internet as we now know it, not to mention stifling commerce and innovation. has an interesting article up today about a bill moving through congress that might have a chance to make sure the Net Neutrality we’ve come to take for granted stays just where it is. I urge you to pay attention to this matter closely because it will affect your life if the media conglomerates get their way.


Top 10 performances by a wrestler in a movie

I’m a big pro wrestling fan, so I was extremely excited to see’s article about performances by a wrestler in a movie. It’s a fun read if you’re into pro wrestling, or if you just a movie junkie.



Number Two in the Books

I finished my first/second draft of “Syndrome” last night. Let me tell you this… its 135 pages of train wreck. I’m pretty proud of it though, it was a big attempt for me to get into something as complex as my idea for “Syndrome,” but as soon as I finished the final scene last night, while talking to Ryley on IM, I realized there is a TON of work to do.

The project is significantly different than the direction I assumed it would take when I penned the first act of the script. The second act, although conceptually will stay the same, has to be changed dramatically so that it better fits with the ending and helps bridge the first and third act.

You see, when I first started writing this I quickly envisioned it as a big conspiracy movie with revolving around a plot to take over the government by military coup by using information retained from a person “sent through time.” The first time I got to page 80 I realized I had no idea what I was writing about and had taken the story well beyond my abilities as a writer. So, I dropped 40 some odd pages and started over somewhat, reconning from an earlier part so to speak. Thus, there is a decent amount of discrepancy and feel through the story as it stands now, little subplot threads and references that need to be removed and cleaned up.

The story right now is much closer to what I wanted to begin with. My original concept was to write about what would happen to someone who all of the sudden just woke up in someone else’s body at some other point in time? I created the character Shaun, his love interest Michelle, and the body of the person he’d be taking over, Max. Then, the idea of the government experiment got in my head somehow and the conspiracy idea and I sort of went with it. Unfortunately, I failed at it miserably. So, I pulled back to my original efforts and moved forward again.

The final twenty pages or so was really hard to write, since I had to convincingly show Shaun beyond the brink of sanity while still being able to provide the final twist at the end in a manner that would have significant impact. While I was able to get the general concept down, my execution is that of someone with a minimal amount of experience, and it shows. I’m not let down though, because this is what a second, third, and fourth drafts are for.

I’ve kind of started to view writing like projects I used to do for “Two Dimensional Design” class back when I was at Savannah College of Art and Design. First you get the concept down on paper. Second you play with the concept a bit, trying out a few different things to see what works. Finally, you put forth the effort to have a complete and finished project. I’m sort of at the end of the first step, getting the concept down.

The working title “Syndrome” will not be kept, since it deals with a story element that was going to play a big role when I was still doing the military coup angle. The revisions I’m going to make to the second act will completely remove this element of the story, since it no longer fits with what I’ getting at. It’s also going to remove a bunch of dialogue I had that tried to explain a legit medical condition called Aspergers Syndrome, which is related to autism.

At any rate, I’ll be printing this thing out and taking the red pen to it this weekend. I’m looking forward to that…sitting on the porch, listening to some smooth jazz, sipping some wine, and just working away. The only thing that would be better would be if I could somehow do that on the West Coast, preferably on the beach.


Re: Big brother is watching, listening, and following you

Ryley posted a very good response to my post last week on the NSA stuff. I thought it was good enough to share are a post in and of itself:


First of all, I find your Hiroshima simile here both gross and fallacious. Almost as disturbing as you claiming you have “readers” that were “after your opinion on the issue.”

I too am disturbed, but not so much by these recent events specifically, but by the president they set. The fact is the average American has nothing to worry about…NOW. But…the government is on pretty shaky legal ground with this thing. If they haven’t broken constitutional law, they have definitely bent it severely. My question is: Where does it end? Will we see a snow ball effect? A journey of a 100 miles starts with one step. Is this the first step in a terrifying attack on our privacy?

Ultimately, though, the recent turn of events is a positive one. It has revealed a need. Like you said, Steve, one way or another, the Bush administration and the American intelligence community has our best interest in mind, but like I said, they are on shaky legal ground here. The reason? The new information age.

The current laws governing intelligence (as far as wire tapping and such) were written in the late 70’s and early 80’s and are grossly outdated, if not completely arcane. Lawmakers back then didn’t foresee millions of cell phones. They didn’t foresee being able to communicate instantly with someone halfway across the world with a couple of strokes on a keyboard. AND they didn’t foresee religious fanatic animals flying commercial jet liners into skyscrapers while screaming “Allah is good! Allah is great!”

Note to the Islamics: In no way do I mean to say that this is the norm. I realize this was the work of a few fanatics. Hey, I’m Christian. We’re worse. Ever hear of the crusades?

As stated above, Republican or Democrat, this recent revelation (oddly timed, don’t you think, coming just a week before the republican president is trying to get a new CIA director confirmed????) has shined a bright light on a dark and desperate need.

Law and policy must be updated to meet the needs of the current information age and to address a new evil. The Bush administration has our best interest in mind, but wire tapping must be regulated. There must be checks and balances. The main priority must be assuring that this doesn’t snowball, that our rights and liberties aren’t infringed upon more than is absolutely necessary.

As much as I hate how this issue, this “scandal” has been used as political currency, a lame attempt to stone-wall the confirmation of a highly qualified candidate for CIA director, I appreciate that it has raised the level of debate in this country. Ask 1000 Americans and 999 of them are all for unregulated, unrestricted wire tapping on international calls. And “unregulated and unrestricted” accurately describes our policy now and always. But…the issue of domestic wire tapping has never adequately been explored and/or debated.

It’s about fucking time.

I hear whispers, experts telling me that if such a program were in place before September 2001, that some, if not many, of the 911 hijackers would have been identified and captured. If this is the case, then such a policy should be strongly explored/considered. But obviously, the privacy of Joe American must be carefully protected.

This is not a black and white issue. The truth is somewhere in the middle. There must be a delicate balance. Don’t get caught up in the political mudslinging. Make your own decision.

I value my privacy, my “freedom” as much as anyone, my rights as an American, but what I value more is an America where you can head into the office and not be worried some maniac is going to fly a plane into it. An America where you can get on a subway and not be worried the brown man with the backpack is up to no good. That is freedom. Not having to live in fear.

Discussion is needed. Turn the TV off and talk.

Either way, I’m moving to Canada, land of hockey, Degrassi, the Mullet, and Allanis Morrisette…Fuck all ya’ll.


Well put Ryley. Degrassi rules!


Monday, May 15, 2006

Syndrome Update

I laid down quite a bit on the current draft of Syndrome this weekend. Actually, I’m quite pleased with the progress. I’m at page 110 right now, and am in the final stages of the story, which should take another 20-30 pages to finish.

I’ve been very happy with my progress as a writer on this project which has been a bit of a transition project for me. It’s the first project where I’m dealing with some disturbing issues and scenes, which aren’t easy to write, since you have to let go of your natural instinct to hold back. If stopped and started over two scenes specifically where I knew I was holding back, and not putting down what the character would really do because I thought it was taboo or over the line. The fact is, it isn’t because they what the character would do, anything else isn’t telling the truth.

I’ve got the final several scenes in my head and ready to go, with a pretty clear direction the dialogue and cycle of events. There are two twists at the end which should be pretty satisfying. Actually, I’m pretty sure one of them is spot on, the other one I’m not so sure on, but will do and see how it works. Fortunately, the second one is arbitrary and not integral to the story, so if it doesn’t work it can be easily removed.

After this draft the challenge will be speeding up the first and middle act. The third act, what I’m finishing now, has been spot after spot, and I think has a fluid and natural pace to it. The first two acts were tough for me as I had to establish a slew of characters which will all be revisited in the third act as an ensemble. It sort of rambles on in places and seems unsure of itself. Some pacing and quicker development should address these issues since the story behind the events is solid, it’s just the manner that I chose to tell them in that needs tweaking.


Big brother is watching, listening, and following you

I had a great time at the Braves game this weekend. Seeing Jeff hit that walk away grand slam was something to behold and experience, a perfect way to end my first baseball game at The Ted. Went to the aquarium on Sunday for Mother’s Day and enjoyed that as well. I must ask a question though to all of the parents who refuse to leave their strollers at the entrance to each exhibit. Why do you insist on pushing a stroller through the exhibits if you’re just going to carry your child? It just gets in the way of everyone else.

Now, a number of readers have asked me what my thoughts are on the NSA phone number database thing (this is a lie, no one has asked me jack about it). I’ve got a few issues with it, but they’re not going to be what your talking heads on the tele say. First things first, massive database of information in a secret government organization few have access to is a recipe for trouble. I don’t care about security in a post 9/11 world, you don’t need my phone records for your security. You already can wire tap anyone you want, my phone records are not going to help you. But that’s not even my problem because, believe it or not, I think they are acting in our best interests right now and they truly mean good by it. My problem is with the next administration, or the administration after that, who choose to abuse this list for one reason or another. I don’t want anyone to be able to go to the NSA and get a list of all numbers that someone has called.

“But how do you know they would do that?” some might ask. How do I know? I know because I thought of it, that’s why. If I can think of it, so can anyone else, which means that they CAN do it. That possibility is not something I want to have to deal with. If you think that The Feds wouldn’t have used something like this against Martin Luther King when he was around, you are terribly mistaken. Its exactly this type of stuff that is abused for “political’ reasons, warranted or not.

The main argument against this I hear is “if you’re not a terrorist you’ve got nothing to worry about.” I say, “You’re overlooking the point.” They respond, “But they’re only using this info to target the terrorists.” I say, “Define terrorist.” Think of it this way… we’ve got this huge database of millions of records that’s being used to target what, maybe a thousand people? Seems like a bit of overkill to me. And besides, the argument that they are only targeting terrorist and I have nothing to be afraid of is dumb. That’s like us telling the citizens of Hiroshima, “We’re only targeting the bad Japanese.” Unfortunately, the rest of them get caught up in the attack. Maybe that’s a bad comparison but I think you see my point.

Something of this nature is a bad idea, not even because we can think of the reasons why right now, it’s even scarier because there are things we can’t think up right now. In the future as computers get more and more powerful and things are infinitely quicker to comb through, what’s to say that this doesn’t spawn a whole new lock down on something, something not related to terrorism. Why not? They already have the data, might as well use it, right?

Anyone want to give me 5 to 1 odds that Rove is indicted this week?



Friday, May 12, 2006

Big Weekend

This week should prove to be eventful, if not hectic. I’ve got my first Braves game Saturday night. My seats are on the tenth row in the dugout section behind home plate, so it should be pretty sweet. We’re playing the Nationals so hopefully we can pull out a win.

Sunday is Mother’s Day. We’re going to the Georgia Aquarium, which is going to be a disaster. Actually, I’m sure it will be just fine, what I’m not looking forward to is my future mother in law complaining the whole time about how many people are there. She wouldn’t be happy unless there are like only 100 other people there other than us.

E3 comes to a close today and boy has it been an exciting one. Microsoft seems to be moving along in a strong path with many very good titles coming up soon, and with the revelation that the Halo 3 trailer was indeed rendered in real time on the 360 hardware I’m psyched. Sony looks like they’ve made a few miscalculations in just what they think the PS3 should do and cost. I don’t see Sony going away and I’m sure they’re going to do well, but I’ve heard more than enough people saying that they’re going to wait util the system drops to at least 400 bucks before they pick one up. The big winner looks like it might be Nintendo. I read one article that stated, “It’s not that people are saying the only system they’ll but is the Wii, but the fact that the second system people they say they’re going to buy is the Wii. It’s always the 360 and the Wii, or the PS3 and the Wii. You almost never hear someone say the 360 and the PS3.” I’m more excited about getting my hands on the Wii than the PS3 at this point. Using their new controller seems like it’s just so much fun!


Thursday, May 11, 2006

They called him Milato

Evidently, Dumb John, this Grizzly Bear, was all drunk up in the artic and wandering around a strange town. He came into the view of Big Marge, a Polar Bear, who had trouble getting a mate because she was so fat. Well, put desperate female with drunk male together and you’re bound to get something interesting out of it, and it looks like that’s just what Mother Nature did.

There were a few guys out in the Artic doing, you know, man stuff when they saw a unique site, a bear unlike any they’ve seen before. So what did they do? They killed it of course, duh. Turns out, thanks to DNA testing, the mother was a Polar Bear and the father a Grizzly Bear. While Dumb John and Big Marge couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time, most believe this unusual bear to be the offspring of the two. Scientists immediately named the dead bear “Milato” and said it looks to have been caused by a case of Artic Fever. The scientists were then shot and killed by two NSA agents posing as Eskimo’s for trying to be, as one NSA agent put it, “Whitty.”

You can read the whole story here, which isn’t fake:

My commentary on the other hand is fake. As a matter of fact, you imagined reading this all together.


Democrats lead GOP by double digits

Courtesy of

A CNN poll released Wednesday may continue the anxiety for the GOP, showing Democrats with a 14-point advantage over Republicans among registered voters asked their preferences in this year's midterm elections.

The poll, conducted for CNN by Opinion Research Corp., found that 52 percent of respondents who were registered voters said they were leaning toward voting for a Democrat, while 38 percent said they were leaning toward a Republican.

Ten percent said they didn't know how they would vote or that they would choose a candidate not from the two major parties

Among all Americans, the poll found 50 percent leaning toward Democrats, 37 leaning toward the Republicans and 3 percent intending to vote for non-majority candidates. Ten percent had no opinion.

You can read the whole article here:


Now, obviously I feel like my party would better lead this country, and have believed that since I was like nine. However, I’m not always thrilled with my party’s leadership and think that they lack a spine. Also, I’m not apposed to Republicans holding office (I like Spector and Collins a lot, and think Lindsey Grahmn is a good guy as well, although I may not agree with them on everything) and actually think that the country is most effective when things are as 50/50 as possible, with the President being the wild card (and that’s the way it should be too). Too much power to either side is dangerous, regardless of the party in power.

Anyway, looks like things are going to even out a bit after this election, although I don’t think the Democrats will get a majority in either house. I do think that things will be within 5 seats in the house and two seats in the senate, and when you throw in the independents that usually vote left it makes those numbers almost even. If the democrats do win a majority it will be by default, not because of anything they are offering.

Oh, and don’t listen to this “America is pissed at both sides” crap on TV. Fact is, the Reds run the show, period. The Democrats have no real power right now, and therefore can’t really do much of anything other than filibuster from time to time. If you can’t call a hearing you have no stroke, that’s the way it works. I’m not saying it’s wrong, because that’s how the constitution says it is, I’m just saying that it’s hard to try to spread blame when one side has no influence. It’s like blaming the Finns for World War 2. Were they there when it was all going down? Sure. Could they do anything about it? Not really.



Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Clutches suck ass

Just heard back from the shop, repairs will probably cost me between 600-800 bucks, depending on parts costs. Amazingly enough, this was significantly cheaper than anyone else around, so I told them to go ahead and do the work. I considered just trading my car in and putting the 1000.00 or so bucks I still owe toward a new car, but I don’t have anything else wrong with this one, and it’s not transmission or engine related, it’s just the clutch. The man said based on what he looked at, as long as I continue to service my car he doesn’t see anything else going bad, and noted that the transmission looks good and shouldn’t need any service any time soon. The clutch on the other hand was toasted, he’s not sure if I’ll need both my master and slave cylinder replaced.

At any rate, I’m not happy about this but what are you going to do?


Cool T-Shirt Site

A co-worker of mine, who is Korean, has a t-shirt site that he and another friend have created. They specialize in t-shirts that poke fun at various racial and ethnic stereotypes and predicaments.

I think the shirts are pretty clever, and really steer away from some of the garbage on

It’s worth checking out, especially if you’re Black, Asian, Jewish, or “other.”



Big Bazooka Blast postponed?

I think I mentioned a few weeks back a big explosion that’s going to happen in Nevada in June 2nd. Rumor has it this will be the biggest conventional explosives blast ever, and that the measurements and data will be used to create new “tactical” nukes. At any rate, looks like its going to get postponed.

Do a quick Google to check out other data on the subject.


F'ing cars

I had to take my car to the shop last night. When I press on the clutch is basically goes into the floor, and getting in and out of gear is next to impossible. The problem first surfaced yesterday morning on my way to work, and by the time I wanted to drive home the car was nearly impossible to drive. I took it to the local Firestone, where I’ve had work done before, and they referred me to this transmission place since they said they don’t really do transmissions, other than really simple things like changing fluids and stuff.

So, I brought the car to the transmission place, described the problem, and left it there. They should get back to me sometime later today with what the problem is. I hope it’s not a really big deal but you never know.

I did a little research last night on the problem and it seems to by a hydraulic issue. Basically, something is not providing the clutch the hydraulic pressure it needs for it to work properly, which is why when I press on the clutch pedal is goes to the floor with little to no resistance. I won’t act like I know any more than that but the term Master and Slave cylinder kept coming up in my research, which leads me to believe it’s probably an issue with one of the two of those, or both, on the transmission. I guess I’ll know more when the shop gets back to me.

I had a chance to take a look at most of official E3 PR stuff from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo last night. I’ve downloaded all three press conferences and will watch them in their entirety tonight, although I did download and watch the Halo 3 trailer, which was sweet. I’d say the big winner thus far is Microsoft, by default. Sony dropped the ball, big time, and I think it’s going to cost them with the PS3 launch. Considering what the PS3 was supposed to be, and how much its going to cost, it just doesn’t look that much better than the 360. Sure, the Metal Gear trailer looks sweet, but its still not playable footage, it’s a cut scene, and I don’t care if it’s in game rendering or not, it’s still not game play footage. Gears or War on the other hand was game play footage and by God that looks amazing.

Sony had a chance to decimate the competition with the PS3 launch. However, once all the fanboys get their hands on a $600.00 PS3 who else is going to be waiting in line? I know that when a mom is faced with a choice on a 360 for 399.99 (or lower), a Wii at probably 250.00, or PS3 that’s not on the shelves, what do you think she’s going to buy? My bet is on the 360, and I think the issue is going to be that once the rush wears off and the 360 has two holiday shopping cycles under it’s belt, Sony will be playing catch up the rest of the year and maybe longer. $600.00 is a lot of money, too much, and I just don’t see that it’s worth it, at least not with anything I saw yesterday.

Nintendo on the other hand is playing it’s card very smartly. They know they’ve got the “lowest” processing power of all three next-gen systems, but I don’t know how big of a deal that may or may not be. Anyone who’s played Metroid Prime can tell you just how sweet things can look on even the current hardware. Instead of “10 billion floating point calculations” and other figure that no one understands, Nintendo’s premises was simple, “You’ve never played video games like this before, and we’re going to show you with 27 games on the floor tomorrow.” The line was drawn, and Nintendo has it’s card stacked. This is a big gamble, hoping that people are going to be able to get over “super machines” and “super graphics” and buy a system because the games are fun and something you can’t get anywhere else. We’ll see how things shape up today when the first hands on demos start to be reviewed.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Wii news update

27 playable games on the floor tomorrow should be very interesting. It’s my impression this is more than what Sony will have.

By the way, there will be two Zeldas, each released the same day, one for the GC one for the Wii. I’m not sure if it will be the same game or different. My bet is that since the programming is basically the same for each system, the Wii one will look and sound better with some additional functions and features.

Smart move? Maybe not. A solid Zelda game might cause people to go out and buy the Wii when it is released. The fact that they can get the same game on the GC, just with fewer features might backfire and keep people from anteing up on the Wii.

We’ll see tomorrow if this is indeed the case.


Wii news

The Wii controller will have a built in speaker, which can be used for sound effects related to the use of the controller. The current demo has the sound of an arrow leaving a bow, think thwap, it could be used to have the sound of a gold ball leaving a tee, ping, or a bat hitting a baseball. Or, the sounds of a reel as you reel in a fish. Possibilities are endless.



Nintendo confernece underway

CORRECTION: I was wrong on an earlier post, the Sony conference was last night I believe.

At any rate, the Nintendo conference is underway as I type this. Nothing to report yet, as soon as I have something I’ll put it up. This is do or die time for Nintendo. Most of the feedback on the PS3 has been less than spectacular. So, if Nintendo realy does this right, they might pull a fast one and really get the buzz going. The buzz I’ve read is that so far the real winner of the show is Microsoft, who has hardware out, right now, that looks just as good as the PS3 stuff shown so far.

We’ll see how things change as the E3 show proper starts off tomorrow and people get their hands on some games.

Gears of War anyone?


A PS3 revolution?

Well, the Sony press conference is underway and it looks like they have some sort of motion sensor type thing in their controller, just like Nintendo. The difference is that Nintendo’s is IR related and Sony’s uses a physical gyro to sense movement. Nintendo technically has a superior design since there are no physical parts, but Sony surprised many with this new addition. However, they’ve dropped the force feedback element of their controllers (i.e. the rumbling), which they say is in part because it interferes with the gyroscopes, seems a legit issue to me.

More news as it develops.


Entertainment News

It seems like every day a “new” TV to movie adaptation is being made of one of our favorite 80s TV shows. With Miami Vice coming to the screens shortly, could it truly be very long until the other dominant mullet of the 80s, that of our favorite Michael Knight, would make it’s triumphant return as well?

Your prayers have been answered, and it seems the truth has been revealed. Hollywood has decided that there are indeed no new ideas anywhere to be found, and therefore have decided to adapt Knight Rider to the big screen.

The Hollywood Reporter is stating that the Weinstien brothers have gotten Knight Rider series creator Glen A. Larson on board to write, and in some manner produce the project. The target for production to start is some time next year, but that’s still up in the air as of yet.

Here’s a link to the article:

You’ll have to sign up if you’d like to read the whole article.


Watch what you say around Dolphins, they know.

In the “neato terrific” category comes this interesting tidbit from Reuters today about Dolphins. Turns out they call each other by names, just like us humans. Each Dolphin has a specific “name” that other Dolphins use when referring to them. And it’s not just in direct Dolphin to Dolphin “conversation,” two Dolphins may “speak” about another Dolphin who is not presently with them.

At any rate, it’s an interesting article and worth a read. While short of an actual language, it shows that the communication patterns of Dolphins may be significantly more advanced than we realized.


The PS3 lays down its cards

Today is arguably the most important day of E3. Nintendo and Sony will have their press conferences today, revealing their lineups for the PS3 and Wii launches this fall. Sony struck first yesterday officially announcing their prices for the PS3 and it’s not really a shocker. They’ll have to versions, just like the XBOX 360. A “standard” edition for $499.99 (that’s not a typo) and a “deluxe” edition for $599.99 and I will be buying neither. Although I’m sure the first run of the PS3 will sell out, I just can’t see too many casual gamers picking up a $500.00 price tag. I paid $399.99 for my “deluxe” 360 and that was pushing the envelope, $599.99 is just too much for me this time around.

The launch date for the PS3 will be November 17th here in North America, and I expect there to be long lines of fan boys waiting to get their hands on one of the first PS3s. Most of them will then go sell that PS3 on e-bay for twice what they paid for it. If I do find one, I might do the same.

Nintendo has not announced a launch date for the Wii (which is by far the gayest name ever). They should make some kind of announcement during their press conference today. Most analysts expect the price to be between $200.00 and $300.00, and for there to be just one model. Personally I’m more excited about the Wii than the PS3. The new gaming possibilities with the Nintendo controller area really something that has me interested. While I wish they would have kept the “Revolution” moniker, I’m not going to not buy it because of the name.

While I’m sure I’ll end up with all three consoles eventually, the PS3 is last on my list. I really think the price point will hurt them and it makes me wonder if their push to get the blue-ray DVD disks into this system is really work the effort and cost. Sony wants to win the next-gen DVD format war (they don’t want a repeat of their lost, but superior in quality, Betamax efforts). Personally, I think HD DVD is the way to go since all current manufacturing processes can be retrofitted to make HD-DVD disks, and the cost is much cheaper. Microsoft was smart waiting to see how this played out. The current 5 gigs on DVDs provides more than enough space right now for games, and I don’t see a reason why games would need 30 gigs of storage at this time.

It was interesting to see that the PS3 can support 1080p, the highest HDTV resolution specification, especially since no one owns a TV that can display that. Okay, okay, sure, some people do, I’ve seen TVs that support this at the store. However, there is no TV programming available for 1080P, and that won’t be changing due to bandwidth issues any time soon, so what force other than the PS3 is driving the urge to get a TV with 1080P? We’ll have to see if this helps move the TV market at all.

As I said, the press conferences are later today and I’ll be sure to post on anything substantial. After the conferences the first playable demos on the new hardware is supposed to be available, so we’ll see what things are like when people finally get their hands on some of this stuff.


Catching up

I spent a while last night catching up with my best man/best friend Ryley online. We chatted about various life subjects for quite a while until he vanished online and I decided to go to bed. It was a good talk and I’m lucky to have a friend like him.

Ryley and I became friends out junior year of High School in Geometry class. We were prime examples of students who were not let into honors classes due to politics. Basically, he and I sat in class and finished assignments in about ten minutes while the rest of the class struggled. When asked, “Steven and Ryley, shouldn’t you check over your work?” We’d respond, “No, we got a 100.” Ryley reminded me last night about how we used to blow the bell curve for the class so badly. A guy would be heading straight for a good solid B, maybe a B+, but due to our scores he’d end up with a C. Don’t get me wrong, this is just a regular class, so our academic feats are nothing to be amazed with, we were just two smart guys who should have been in honors and made the rest of the class pay dearly for it. Hell, Ryley started to take Calc at the local community college just so he could actually learn something.

So anyway, Ryley and I had a lot of spare time on our hands in that class and as odds would have it we became good friends. Our friendship was solidified for all time after the events of “Dan through the wall,” a defining moment in our high school careers. Ryley and I just sort of clicked and complimented each other. He was right, I was left. He lost his temper, I was a pretty laid back (albeit high strung) guy.

Anyway, it’s good to have a friend like him still in my life. Even though we live thousands of miles away we still manage to talk at least once a week. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, and there are times when communication got scarce, but we always managed to track each other down and without even trying we pick up where we left off.

I asked Ryley to be my best man a few weeks ago. Granted I did it in the cheesiest manner possible. I think the line was, “Oh yeah, by the way, would you be my best man?” I just sort of slipped it in at the end of some conversation. It was a losing predicament no matter how I asked, since Ryley would bust my balls anyway, so I just went with something just plain silly and played that card for him. A lot of what we talked about last night was things best man is supposed to be there for, thoughts about life, marriage, and the future in general. Most importantly though, what we talked about is stuff you can only talk about with your best friend, things you need honest answers and advice on, and I’m lucky that I have someone I can talk to like that.

Now, Ryley, when you read this, feel free to rag on me about it. It’s not meant to be a cush piece, just a retrospective.


The truth about lesbians

Turns out their brains respond differently to hormones in the body than the typical women. Turns out, they respond like…men’s brains. Go figure. There was a study not too long ago that said gay men’s brains reacted to certain hormones like women. Bottom line, this adds fuel to the nature vs. nurture debate over homosexuality. I’m of the school of thought that gay people are just wired that way, it’s not a “choice.” The choice is when a gay man acts like a women, or a gay women gets tattoos and names herself Kevin. There’s no choice involved deciding who they are attracted to.

At any rate, posted the AP story about the study and you can read it here:


Monday, May 08, 2006

King of Movies?

I find it odd that Stephen King writes “movie reviews” since few of his fourteen thousand book to movie adoptions have been successful. Then again, he writes books that scare the crap out of people and I write a blog that is mostly read by my dad and my best friend Ryley, who only reads it so he can poke jabs at me.

At any rate, I’ve posted the article, in it’s entirety, here. If you’d like, you can read the original here:,6115,1190977_1_0_,00.html



Summer Hits & Misses



Ah, spring! Lawn mowers! Twittering birds! Baseball! Girls in shorts! And summer blockbusters right around the corner, which meant it was high time I called my friend Shane Leonard, also known as The Longhair. Some columnists have fictional friends to trot out when they need to create a dialogue, but The Longhair is real. In case you forgot, he grew up in Bangor, Maine, with my kids, never misses a major film, and is a dead shot when it comes to predicting box office success. Who else would I call? Roger Ebert?

''Longhair!'' I said. ''Help me predict this summer's winners and losers again, what do you say?''

He gave me a smile — showed his teeth, anyway. ''What I say, Steve, is if you want help from The Longhair, you have to respect The Longhair. Know what I mean?''

I did. Last year I tainted The Longhair's predictions with my own, suggesting Must Love Dogs would be a winner and Madagascar would be a loser. Sorry, Steve, you must leave the island. This year I will respect The Longhair, only adding comments of my own in parentheses. As always, I'd put Shane's picks up against those of any suit in Hollywood:




The Da Vinci Code: The best-selling adult hardcover novel of all meets Tom Hanks, Hollywood's go-to guy. And Ron Howard is Hanks' wonder twin — see Splash and Apollo 13. (Steve's one caveat: Since Code is your basic one-trick pony and everyone in America now knows the trick, the grosses may drop almost as fast as those of The Hulk.)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest The Longhair points out that thanks to Johnny Depp, this is one kid flick the mommies will drag their children to. The 'Hair thinks it's gonna be huge and so do I.

X-Men: The Last Stand So what if Bryan Singer punked out (Brett Ratner directed)? The whole cast — including lady-killer Hugh Jackman — is back, the story looks great, and the preview kicks ass.

Poseidon ''Look,'' The Longhair says, ''every summer needs a disaster movie that makes us feel good about being warm and safe, with a dry place to take a leak. Poseidon will be this summer's Day After Tomorrow. They even have similar release dates. Case closed.''

Mission: Impossible III The Longhair on Cruise: ''He basically tore down 20 years of careful career-building with a few jumps on Oprah's couch. In spite of that, I think M:I-3 is going to be big. Why? Three words: Philip Seymour Hoffman. He's going to be this year's Hannibal Lecter.'' (I have my doubts — I think 3 looks soft, for all sorts of reasons. And yeah, the fact that Cruise has become sort of a national joke is one of them.)

The rest of The Longhair's hit list: Superman Returns (which is directed by Bryan Singer), Over the Hedge, Cars, Click (Adam Sandler with a magic remote control), and Will Ferrell's Talladega Nights. (And again, I have my doubts about Nights. This is a red-state/blue-state ethanol hybrid that may end up pleasing nobody but Mr. Ferrell's hardcore fans.)




The Omen: The Longhair says dumb remake and dumb release date (6/6/06), and I agree. Just watching the preview is like gobbling a jarful of Cheez Whiz with a can of Monster energy drink for a chaser.

An American Haunting: An attempt to capitalize on the surprise success of The Exorcism of Emily Rose that doesn't belong in summer release. The Longhair says it should have gotten an October release date.

The Break-Up: Jennifer Aniston joins Tom Selleck and David Caruso in that company of gifted but unfortunate actors who shine on the small screen but who barely glow — God knows why — on the big one.

Clerks II: In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Major Toht tells Indy, ''That time is past.'' He might have been speaking of the Clerks franchise. Uh...what franchise?

Lady in the Water: The Longhair says Lady, which sounds like M. Night Shyamalan's take on The Princess Bride, looks like a ''Dollar Night'' flick — good for Tuesday nights in August when the air conditioner's busted and you can't stand the reruns. Ouch.




Nacho Libre: The preview is awful, but so was the preview for Napoleon Dynamite, also written and directed by Jared Hess. Nacho has the incomparable Jack Black and may have the same warm-and-fuzzy vibe.

Monster House: It's The Polar Express ...with chills.


I have to add one sleeper pick to The Longhair's list. Snakes on a Plane, driven mostly by Internet chatter (and EW), will be this summer's Blair Witch Project (without, perhaps, the critical cachet). The only thing that could hold it back is if the movie is so horrible it — how shall I say this? — bites itself in the foot. And still, the opening-weekend grosses may be the best in the history of August.

As for all the other picks, am I confident we got 'em right? Oh, hell yeah. The Longhair is bulletproof.

You can take this sucker to the bank.