Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Mystery that is...

I can't mention her name on this blog, but this Vanity Fair profile of a famous, Alaskan woman, is a good read. Money quote:

What does it say about the nature of modern American politics that a public official who often seems proud of what she does not know is not only accepted but applauded? What does her prominence say about the importance of having (or lacking) a record of achievement in public life? Why did so many skilled veterans of the Republican Party—long regarded as the more adroit team in presidential politics—keep loyally working for her election even after they privately realized she was casual about the truth and totally unfit for the vice-presidency? Perhaps most painful, how could John McCain, one of the cagiest survivors in contemporary politics—with a fine appreciation of life’s injustices and absurdities, a love for the sweep of history, and an overdeveloped sense of his own integrity and honor—ever have picked a person whose utter shortage of qualification for her proposed job all but disqualified him for his?

Monday, June 29, 2009

I wasn't looking for a page turner, but good grief!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Everyone knows that opening line. Okay, not everyone, but in an ideal America, one in which people read intellectual words instead of tweets about where their favorite person in the world happens to be breakfasting that morning, every person would know that that is the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I knew it was, but I had never read the book. It was time to remedy that. And it was time to read another classic to continue my resolution to read twelve classics in 2009. By the way, I just finished this book today and it is only my fifth. I am one book or, depending on how you look at it, one month behind schedule.

A Tale of Two Cities took a long time to read. I moved through the first 100 pages at a sufficient pace, but I had to take a break. I read two books during that break and decided to come back to Dickens exactly a week ago. I had been warned, perhaps in the introduction of the book, that Dickens is known for writing a lot of the twists, resolutions, and all around plot, into the last pages of his novels. This is true; I’d say the last 90 pages of this book finally made Dickens a good read for me.

I don’t know a lot of things about Dickens, but I’ll only highlight two facts that were unknown to me. I didn’t know that A Tale of Two Cities was historical fiction. I didn’t know that this book was about the French Revolution. Thus, my mind wasn’t prepared for historical fiction and, when you don’t know much about the French Revolution, reading a novel about it isn’t recommended.

I am ignorant, I guess, but I am not one to start a book and not finish it. As painful as it was at times, I am so glad I finished this book. I knew Dickens wouldn’t completely fail me. He didn’t. I am happy to have beaten this book. That’s the way I feel right now, like I’ve been in an all-out, no-holds-barred cage match with this thing for the last month and a half. It body-slammed me a few times and I thought I would never get up. But I pile drove it through my coffee table this week and satisfyingly slammed it shut when it was finished with its last words.

I could have written in fewer words, I just finished A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Out of 390 pages, 90 were excellent. Thank God I am done. Reading it gave me great interest in the French Revolution. Here is the rest of that famous quote:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tears for MJ

This is not a blog about Michael Jackson. This is a blog about his fans. I am not talking about his younger fans or tweens that sob at the appearance of any musical idol, but about Jackson’s older fans, those in there 30s, 40s, and 50s. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of said fans crying and holding each other and I am here to insensitively say to them, “Grow a pair.”

MJ was most likely not a friend of yours. You may have obsessed over his music, honored his humanitarian deeds, and revered his impact in music, but why the tears? They are completely unnecessary. If you are uncontrollably sobbing over the unexpected death of Jackson, then how are you going to grieve when someone you actually know, have possibly seen in person, and perhaps love in a personal way (not an idolatrous way), dies?

This doesn’t mean crying for public figures that you don’t know isn’t allowed, but I’d say that exhibiting sorrow in such a way should be reserved for the assassination of a world leader or perhaps for a figure as big as MJ who doesn’t have such a dark cloud hanging over much of their existence on earth.

Damn, I am so mean sometimes, but seriously, stop crying!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Deep Thought: MJ

It was a bad day for Farrah Fawcett to die.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

*Spoiler Alert* I don't give away any huge pieces of the story, but if you are concerned about your Transformers experience being 100% spoiler free, than you should hold off on reading this.

When I sit down to a Michael Bay film I take a deep breath, grab the armrests of my chair, and hope that Bay hasn’t completely botched another potentially great blockbuster.

If the first Transformers movie has only a dash of Bay’s over-the-top imagination, pathetic attempts at comedy, and slow-mo sequences, then Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has a colossal helping of the same elements.

Just like the first film, the second opens with narration from Optimus Prime, oddly starting with a scene from 17,000 B.C., in which humans encounter an army of Decepticons building a machine that you later find out is supposed to harvest the sun. This left me with a sense of foreboding. Michael Bay has his dirty little hands all up in this movie and this is only the beginning. I was also reminded of 10,000 B.C. (2008) and how thankful I am to have never seen that movie.

Revenge of the Fallen takes place two years after the first film. Autobots are partnered with an elite branch of the American military and together they hunt down Decepticons across the globe. Soon, it becomes clear that the Decepticons are mounting a comeback by ciphering bits of intelligence from a U.S. spy satellite, giving them the location of a chip of the Allspark and Megatron’s burial site. A second piece of the Allspark in Sam Witwicky’s (Shia LaBeouf) possession transfers information into his brain about the location of the key to the sun-harvesting machine.

The quest for said key and the information in Witwicky’s brain culminates in a desert battle scene chockablock of Bay trademarks. The number of slow motion sequences is agonizingly painful, especially when you realize Bay just decided it was a great time for slow-mo because Megan Fox was running in a low-cut tank top. Bay loves illogical jumps and plot twists, such as a powerful rail gun that slices a Decepticon into pieces and then disappears from the rest of the film even though it clearly has the potential to singlehandedly win this war for the Autobots and humans. And then there is The Fallen. One would guess this refers to the Decepticons because they fell in battle at the end of the first film. No, that’s logical. Instead The Fallen is literally the name of the leader of the Decepticons who has a relationship with Megatron, which exactly mirrors the relationship between the Emperor and Darth Vader in Star Wars.

Bay’s instinct is to one up all the most ridiculous ideas advanced by the viewer. His attempts at comedy in the first film were somewhat admirable and only occasionally obnoxious. However, with the introduction of comedy relief team, Mudflap and Skids, two Autobots who speak in rap jargon, can’t read, and have gold teeth, we are reminded of why Bay makes all the “Worst Director” lists to be found across the internet. Throw in some scrotum jokes and dog-humping scenes and you have the complete spectrum of Bay humor.

The moments that save Revenge of the Fallen from being a complete catastrophe are predictably given to us by some good old-fashioned special effects and fight scenes with support from John Turturro’s turn as Agent Simmons, who makes the most of his stilted lines with dry and witty delivery. But ultimately, Bay just leaves you asking why. Like why didn’t he make use of Rainn Wilson’s talent for comedy instead of having a character accidentally taser himself in the genitals? Why is it that Bay, and not J.J. Abrams, will be in control of Transformers 3?

There is no doubt about it. Bay botched this one. File it away with Armageddon, Bad Boys I & II, The Island, and Pearl Harbor. However, that won’t keep the movie from being extremely popular with fan boys for its delivery of sprawling action and Megan Fox in tight pants. I think we will all find out what we have been missing in twenty years when a brilliant director gets their hands on the rights to this movie and remakes it into the stellar movie it could have been.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Blogging T-shirt

When I was in Starbucks in Fort Collins last week there was a guy sitting in a corner of the store. He was feverishly typing on his laptop. He wore a black shirt with three words on it, “I’m blogging this.”

What a perfect shirt. That’s what I do. I sit in a coffee shop like that and sometimes write about the people next to me. I copy down their conversations verbatim. I copy down our conversations sometimes. Whether they turn into actual blogs is inconsequential. What is?

That I’m blogging this.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bachelor Party

The man of the hour.

Cruising Denver.

The group...all 22 of us.

First stop: Chipotle.

Commandeering Chipotle's outdoor seating.

Our first run-in with those Red Bull girls.

Getting a "boy"s number.

Some very special gents.

A lock of red hair.

Kyle pushing Red Bull.

Random shot of bachelors on bikes.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Advancing Fear

Some people watch Oprah. Some people don’t. I fall into the latter category, but that hasn’t kept me from being fascinated by her show and by the host herself. I have my opinions, but last week’s cover story in Newsweek about Oprah’s show, spoke directly to a specific one.

I believe, and apparently other people do too, that Oprah will get behind and support, or at least consider, a lot of fanciful ideas, from vaginal injections to prolong a youthful look, to the idea that the MMR vaccination is linked to autism (an idea advanced by Jenny McCarthy despite any scientific evidence). A fact-based presentation seems to continually be overshadowed by the fear-based presentation, which, unfortunately, is the one that sells.

This is a very good read. Harsh. Witty. Fact-based. What will her comeback be?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Writing Sample

As part of an application to an MFA program I must submit a writing sample. This writing sample, as you might guess, is the most important piece of the application. It needs to be 25-30 pages long. And it needs to be my best writing.

I have folder upon folder of writing on my hard drive, but nothing I would feel comfortable submitting as my writing sample. It is necessary that I start from scratch. So, on Friday, I started in earnest. That was a big step for me. I had procrastinated long enough.

Please tell me to stop if I start blogging a lot this summer. It will take me all summer to do this and although I wish I could use my blog as my writing sample, I don’t think that would help my chances of being accepted into a program. After all, I’ve been first-drafting everything on this website since I started blogging in 2005. Any successful writer will tell you that first drafts are shit. I don’t plan on submitting shit. 

Friday, June 05, 2009

Lakers Roll

Go to ESPN.com and take their sportsnation poll. It is at the center of the page about halfway down. The question, Who will win the NBA Finals? 

Take a look at the results after you vote. Even in Florida, 54% of those polled are picking the Lakers. 

The entire country is blue, representing a pick for the Lakers. That's beautiful, and last night's basketball was beautiful. Those are the Lakers that have the potential to sweep every team in these playoffs. Those are the Lakers that show up to win. And those are the Lakers that I am rooting for despite their destruction of the Nuggets in game 6 in Denver. 

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Lingering Maxima Memories

Another post about my first car, why not?

The first drive to Laramie. Guy was in the passenger seat. U2’s greatest hits coming out of the speakers. Guy praises the music in between praising the car. “Oh, this song, this song is so good. You know this car is nice out here, man, but this car is very nice in Israel.”

The post-Thanksgiving snowstorm Guy and I drove in on our way back to Laramie. Guy pushing the car through the snow after we stopped at a Wendy’s near Cheyenne. Going 20 mph down I-80 into Laramie. Pulling the e-brake when we were going a little fast. It was supposed to be for fun, but it scared us both and Maxima hit the curb a little too hard. 

All the drives to Dining Out in Denver traffic. I listened to at least ten books on CD during that internship. Dodging potholes on a crappy side of Denver.

Showing off the Maxima to Kate. I remember her thinking it was a sweet car right away. That feeling never left her. Even up to the day the car was lost, she would get excited to drive it.

It’s 5:40 am. I am sitting in the Maxima in the apartment parking lot on Palmer Drive. I am waiting for it to warm up a bit before I drive it to weights or swimming. I do this four days a week. I wait until 5:45 am until I drive her. The temperature needle is just off of the ‘C’ mark. She sounds like a lawnmower driving in sub-zero temperatures. 

Driving the Maxima into the Snowies with Kate for picnics and just for the sheer beauty of Wyoming.

When the Maxima was clean, she looked stunning. The 17-inch, chrome rims made the car standout, even among far pricier vehicles. The shiny metal door handles and trim accented the rims wonderfully. When it was clean it looked brand new and it looked a lot nicer than one would suspect a Nissan Maxima to look like. After giving it a thorough shine, I would always step away and be astonished by its beauty. Extraordinary, the difference was, from before the cleaning to finished product. Mom always commented on how great the car looked.

Mom was right. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Miller Lites, $7.50

I went to a Brewers game last week. It was my second in as many years. Before getting to the stadium I wolfed down a sandwich from Jimmie Johns, determined that it would tide me over until I got out of Miller Park. It did.

With the help of a lot of sunflower seeds passed among friends, I got out of that park without spending an additional penny on anything from a hot dog to a beer. Prices for these items are bad enough at movie theaters, but at the park the prices are so astronomically high that some nights (one out of two so far), I refuse to give them any of my money.

A Miller Lite for $7.50!?!?! Are you kidding me? That is insulting, maybe not to those that have grown up drinking that piss water, but to those that have gravitated toward beer with a good taste and not necessarily a low calorie count, a Miller Lite for $7.50 is a joke. The high-class beer at Miller Park is just as insulting. Red Stripe and Corona bottles for $9.50?


Red Stripe and Corona are both more respectable beers; solely based on their superior advertisements, but also on taste. However, they’re not worth $9.50 and it disgusts me to think of the people profiting from such outlandish sales.

I can sit through an MLB game without succumbing to the pressure. I wish more people could. That’s the only way prices will come down.