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Older rants
Nov 20, 2018   My cubicle revisited, really-old ComicCon stuff, Emeli's Art, More Disney Adventures, The Zoo and Safari Park
September 9, 2018   Perimeter - an eBook thriller
September 3, 2018   Take Back the Sky Starcraft Evolution
August 11, 2018   Idaho Dunes Awesome soda Ethanol-free gas an awesome Bald Guy card Our rough dig Harry Potter Interlude story
July 21, 2018   The Cup in the Shadows (The Forbidden Powers Book 1)
June 24, 2018   Jake, Lucid Dreamer
June 13, 2018   Troll-stalking
May 23, 2018   Another badbartopia email spoofer, A sunny-day Disney adventure, Raymond E Feist book signing
May 15, 2018   A rainy-day Disneyland trip The Bassoon King
Apr 28, 2018   Down and Out in Purgatory
Apr 13, 2018   Operation Hail Storm
Mar 4, 2018   American Exodus
Jan 22, 2018   Christmas, Didn't Get Frazzled, The Sea People, The Rooster Bar, Last Burial Night, Doctor Who and the Krikkit Men
Dec 15, 2017   Mistrial, City of Death and Disneyland
Nov 14, 2017   Grace Vanderwaal - Just the Beginning
Nov 11, 2017   Tim Powers Signing at Mysterious Galaxy for Down and Out in Purgatory
November 4, 2017   Return to Disneyland, Halloween at the office, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, The Long Cosmos Maximus One year After War Dogs, Killing Titan Daddy, Stop Talking
October 29, 2017   Bruce Campbell Signing, Hail to the Chin, Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor
October 20, 2017   Meg & Dia, Imagine Dragons in concert, 2 Years 8 months and 28 Nights
October 17, 2017   All Apologies
October 16, 2017   Thrawn
Septempber 7, 2017   The Rage of Dragons, The Lincoln Myth
August 10, 2017   The Molly Ringwalds, Dia Frampton Musical awesomeness, Beauty and the Feast
July 28, 2017   The IT Sweatshop revisited, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, American Gods and The Magicians, Rogue One, Camino Island
July 24, 2017   CRV glovebox difficulties, San Diego Comic Con rant
July 11, 2017   Beauty and the Beast at the Lyceum, Earthweeds, Sons of Neptune Book 1, Aftermath, Empire's End, If Chin's Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor
June 30, 2017   Eastwood: No Direction Home book 2
June 23, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 4/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes, my new record, record player, and Emeli's site is live!
Jun 14, 2017   A noteworthy eBook mention before I return to my vacation ranting - No Direction Home
June 9, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 3/4) - The PCH family vacation tale concludes...almost. More pictures of spooky old houses, trees, rocks, and other things that nobody cares about! Plus, Goonies stuff
June 2, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 2/4) - The PCH family vacation tale continues... And more pictures of trees and other things that nobody cares about!
May 31, 2017   Excellent Adventures on the PCH (part 1/4) - Way more detail than anyone wants about our vacation up the coast of California and Oregon. And lots of pictures of trees!
Apr 26, 2017   Resurrection America, Pizza Studio art, AmandaLynn, Emeli art, and Disney art, and Gifted
Apr 14, 2017   My San Fransisco OSI PI adventure & "Thanks for the Money: How to Use My Life Story to Become the Best Joel McHale You Can Be"
Apr 12, 2017   Neil Gaiman speaks, Norse Mythology, American Gods comic adaptation, The Magicians TV series, and Dirk Gently on TV
Feb 2, 2017   A trip to the ever-less-magical land of Disney, The Prince of Outcasts, the Whistler, and a brief mention of The Magicians.
Jan 21, 2017   An update to my nerd wall at work, Found out about Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) being gone, A list of all the stuff (or most, anyway) I've given up to new homes, A review of Dave! and Warp, and a couple of new doodles.
Dec 23, 2016   My final visit to Potterland and a couple of doodles
Dec 11, 2016   Books and related comics, and free/cheap stuff. Not taco Bell Material, President Me, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, The Hedge Knight (comic), The Sworn Sword (comic) Ooma, Ringplus, Amazon prime and other money-saving stuff.
Dec 4, 2016   I'm sharing my sad doodles with the world again. They're not very good, but I'll bet they're better than your scribbles!
Nov 12, 2016   Yet another trip to The Wonderful World of Harry Potter!
Nov 7, 2016   Blathering on about a few of the books I've read recently - Spire, The Check, and Dangercide, Pirate Detective
Oct 7, 2016   Yet another Visit to Harry Potterland. Oh, and my lease-mileage calculator.
July 25, 2016   Another Visit to Harry Potterland, a new car, a new shirt, a new dog, and a whole lot of the same old complaining
May 17, 2016   Email spoofers, Phishing emails, and scammers galore!
Apr 30, 2016   Winter's Edge and a Management zombie attack
Apr 23, 2016   Harry Potter land re-visited
Apr 9, 2016   Xenia...again
Apr 2, 2016   Sing Street, Batman vs Superman, Craigslist griping
Mar 1, 2016   The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hollywood preview, fun at work, Xenia's new song, A Vanishing Glow, Our Fair Eden, Race Wars, The Force Awakens
Jan 27, 2016   Text Wars, Books I've read... Yup, that's pretty much it
Jul 30, 2015   Xenia Martinez news Still selling stuff on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half (the book), The Path Between the Seas, Trigger Warning, In Fifty years We'll all Be Chicks
Mar 17, 2015   Selling my treasures on eBay, Hyperbole and a Half, the Long Mars, Gray Mountain, Anathem, The Golden Princess, The Given Sacrifice
Mar 12, 2015   You'll be sorely missed, Sir Terry
Jan 21, 2015   More BBC 4 radio dramatizations by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett: The Amazing Maurice, Guards! Guards!, Neverwhere, Night Watch, Small Gods, Wyrd Sisters
Jan 10, 2015   JabberWocky, Neil Gaiman style!
Dec 24, 2014   The Good Omens BBC treatment
Aug 03, 2014   Every hobby has to end eventually, right?
Oct 8, 2013   Warning: Extreme Geekness ahead!
Oct 1, 2013   The Bloody Crown of iGoogle
Aug 26, 2013   Headphones at work
Aug 22, 2013   The guvmint is gonna getcha
June 25, 2013   Dweebs vs Big Bang vs IT Crowd
Jul 3, 2012   Xenia Martinez & Dia Frampton concert
Feb 24, 2012   Reading...just not much
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Being an idiot with Lev Grossman
Jan 7, 2012   If it ain't broke...
Aug 22, 2011   non-ComicCon report 2011
A Thousand Splendid Suns
An Act of Self Defense
May 5, 2011   On Stranger Tides
vs.
On Stranger Tides
March 2, 2011   I'm a gigantic slacker...
Ikariam
Wild Guns
Lord of Ultima
Metin 2
Lord of the Rings Online
Dec 15, 2010   Bring out your dead!
Aug 17, 2010   San DiegoComicCon 2010
August 11, 2010   I'm not dead yet...
May 3, 2010   Hero Comics
Liberty Comics
Dr Horrible
Neil Gaiman & Sam Keith in Batman
The Guild, Felicia Day
April 27, 2010   Mean Gene Wilder! Grrr!!!
April 24, 2010   If it's not one Jihad, it's another...
April 20, 2010   The Satanic Verses
March 15, 2010   Unseen Academicals
Feblueberry 8, 2010   The un-reading shelf (from most of 2009)
Feblueberry 2, 2010   Emily the Strange, the Lost Days...a novel
Nov 25, 2009   Happy Halloween, Mom!
Nov 18, 2009   Summer Vacation in Idaho
Aug 20, 2009   San Diego ComicCon 2009
Aug 12, 2009   I'm a big, fat slacker
June 05, 2009   The networks are helping me cut back on my TV viewing
June 04, 2009   Mandy Moore's Amanda Leigh,
Chris Isaak's Mr Lucky
and
My name is Bruce?
and Emmy Rossum? Where am I going with this?
May 21, 2009   Randy would have really liked Fanboys...sigh
May 3, 2009   The Spring reading shelf
Apr 21, 2009   Holidays On Ice (a little late for Christmas)
Apr 18, 2009   Leviticus Cross and other Hector Sevilla comic book stuff
Apr 16, 2009   The fantastically amazing and banal Badbartopia RSS Feed
Mar 31, 2009   Neil Gaiman's Blueberry Girl
Mar 30, 2009   My Amazon mis-order turns out to be not so annoying as previously expected...
(AKA the Dr Horrible soundtrack)
Mar 23, 2009   Stephan Pastis & Richard Thompson have me looking forward to the 2009 SD ComicCon
Mar 19, 2009   Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog,
The Guild
Mar 08, 2009   The Wonderful Wizard of Oz comic adaptation,
Neil Gaiman's Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Mar 04, 2009   Little Brother
Mar 1, 2009   Pete & Pickles
Feb 11, 2009   She & Him
Flakes
Pushing Daisies
Jan 26, 2009   The Scourge of God,
When You are Engulfed in Flames
Jan 14, 2009   On the Road = hippy nonsense
Jan 12, 2009   One-by-one, my fish have met their maker
Dec 26, 2008   My Azeroth-avoidance continues
Dec 23, 2008   Nothing to see...move along
Dec 15, 2008   New scribbles
Dec 10, 2008   The Oct-Nov-Dec reading shelf
Dec 1, 2008   Shalimar the Clown
the economic impact of the events in Mumbai
Nov 21, 2008   Star Wars: Allegiance
Nov 20, 2008   Daredevil Black Widow: Abattoir
Nov 17, 2008   Travel Team
Nov 16, 2008   A new comic adaptation of The Wizard of Oz
Nov 14, 2008   Berke's Books:
The Last Basselope
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big
Mars Needs Moms
Opus: 25 years
Nov 13, 2008   Return to Azeroth?
Nov 12, 2008   Goodbye, Opus
Oct 29, 2008   Halloween costumes of 2008
Project Superpowers
Marvels
Ruins
Oct 23, 2008   The Graveyard Book
Interworld
Oct 16, 2008   Nation
Oct 10, 2008   The Joy of Programming
My foray into Ajax
Oct 9, 2008   My Saturn Scare
Opus ends
Terry Pratchett's condition
Oct 3, 2008   The Hitchhiker's Guide, Book 6...by Eoin Colfer?
Oct 2, 2008   Media master - music online
Sony builds a "better" camera
Sept 24, 2008   The September reading shelf
Sept 17, 2008   Still missing Randall
The Fish tank...again
The Graveyard Book
Sept 15, 2008   Slacking...as usual
The Sasquatch Dumpling Gang
Sept 9, 2008   The dearth of Opus strips
yes, I meant to say "dearth"
Sept 8, 2008   A new monitor goes bad...but it all ends happily
Sept 3, 2008   A Boy and His Dog,
Richard Corben,
H.P. Lovecraft's Haunt of Horror
Sept 2, 2008   A slightly newish look
(aka "why I will never be a graphic designer")
Aug 11, 2008   Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in all its incarnations Mike Kunkel's re-imagining of Shazam
July 29, 2008   San Diego Comiccon 2008
July 24, 2008   Neil Gaiman
July 17, 2008   Chris Isaak!
June 30, 2008   The Woman Who Wouldn't
Legends II
Mouse Guard Fall 1152
the Jetta's latest round of repairs
fishtank overpopulation
June 10, 2008   The Reading Shelf
Fish tank jungle
Attack of the bees
June 3, 2008   Missing Randall
May 9, 2008   My French Whore
Apr 28, 2008   Fish tank fatality
Flight of the Conchords
The Dangerous Alphabet
Mar 5, 2008   Gene Wilder book signing at Borders
new fish tank
subpoenaed!
Jan 11, 2008   The Jetta Strikes back!
The Plucker
The Anubis Gates
National Treasure II
Nov 8, 2007   San Diego on Fire,
A clean break from WoW,
UCSD Extension Java I graduation (kinda)
Making Money
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Oct 2, 2007   Back to school, Java class at UCSD
AT&T's Uverse
new sketches
Blockbuster movie pass
August 28, 2007   Mandy Moore concert!
Aug 19, 2007   ComicCon 2007 - Neil Gaiman, Iron Man and all the usual suspects
May 22, 2007   World of Spamcraft (and other spamalicious topics), forum fun...gus, the woes of being a contractor and PIRATES!!
Apr 5, 2007   I'm a conservative - bite me!
Timbaland? Dumb!
Marie Antoinette - snaggle teeth and teasing glimpes. Sweet!
John Q - a lesson about fatherhood or a liberal-propoganda film?
Mar 30, 2007   Things that make me grumpy-er,
employed again at last,
Finn and assorted other ramblings
Feb 8, 2007   The search for employment continues..and the unemployment benefits are NOT pouring in!
Jan, 22, 2007   Freed from the bondage of employment, a very brief review of a few books and films
Dec 17, 2006   Sad excuses, The Innocent Man, 1776, THe Man in High Castle, Absolute Sandman, Wintersmith, garage sale treasures: Ghost in the Machine
Aug 20, 2006   Writers of the Future XXII/Tim Powers, more movie reivews
July 20, 2006   San Diego ComicCon 2006
July 15, 2006   Superman Returns, inconsiderate morons, Peewee's Playhouse returns, my plea for more pirate movies
July 8, 2006   Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, Wild Animal Park critters, site remodeling
Jun 27, 2006   The good, the bad and the mediocre (a bunch of movie reviews in the new forum).
June 15, 2006   Because of Romek - A Holocaust Survivor's Memoir
May 21, 2006   The DaVinci Code, Aeon Flux, Everything You Want
May 12, 2006   World of Warcrack, the Office, Coraline, my apologies...
Jan 24, 2006   Christmas Vacation 2006, Syriana, Traveling Pants, Wish You Were Here
Dec 19, 2005   Festive Neighbors, the death of Olivia, Media Misinformation surrounding Brent Wilkes/ADCS, Make Love the bruce campbell way
Nov 15, 2005   Microsoft Technet 2005 launch party, Lexmark printer problem, a bad, bad day, changing dentists.
Oct 22, 2005   Thud!, Anansi Boys, Where's my cow
Oct 18, 2005   Terry Pratchet Thud! signing, Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys signing
Oct 15, 2005   A very, very late Comiccon 2005 report.
Jun 23, 2005   The black hole of Warcraft, The Years of Rice and Salt, After the Sunset, Madagascar, Mr and Mrs Smith, Taxi.
Jun 3, 2005   All is quiet on the PM Front, War of the Worlds (the novel), Kingdom of Heaven, Sahara, Star Wars Episode III, Flight of the Phoenix
May 9, 2005   The program managers strike again, More of my horrendous sketches, Spanglish, A Lot Like Love, Elektra, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (the film)
Apr 9, 2005   Stuck in Corporate Hell, a few of my recent sketches, Miss Congeniality 2, Collateral
Mar 21, 2005   Revenge of the Jetta (car problems), a Newegg purchase, a few new drawings, more Opus
Feb 13, 2005   The Mail mystery solved, more of my crappy sketches, A few new photos of the girls, bill-bert (introducing the new Project Manager), sweet phone skills, Opus, Dungeons and Dragons, In Good Company
Jan 27, 2005   Mystery mail, new photos of my beautiful kids, some new sketches, an Episode 3 spoiler, Opus, Going Postal, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Ubik, Remember the Titans, Lemony Snicket`s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Dodgeball
Jan 7, 2005   Christmas 2004, Update to the site, Elf & King Arthur revisited, National Treasure, Opus, Blade Runner
Dec 18, 2004   A new Stephanie sketch, another Target web page goof, the SD Union Tribune confirms Greg Bear`s research for Vitals, Miramar VW proves my dealer service assertions wrong, neighborhood Christmas fun, Opus
Nov 24, 2004   More of my mediocre drawings, nw russian mail-order coins, Star Wars toys, a big green spider comes to visit, Opus, Dies the Fire, Digital fortress, The Incredibles, Twisted, Van Helsing
Nov 03, 2004   Some thoughts regarding the 2004 election, rants about the environment, a memory rebate update, new computer issues, Opus, The Lone Drow, Deception Point, Roswell season 2 on DVD
Oct 12, 2004   An interesting quiz, mal-in rebates, a parrot joke, my new computer, thoughts on frame removal, web logs, Opus, Vitals, Star Wars trilogy on DVD, Ladykillers
Sep 23, 2004   My "Heath" sketch for Mark Oakley, an update on my a PNY rebate check, the fictitious AWNA Act, Browser Issues with the site, Opus/Pickles, The DaVinci Code, Garden State (Natalie Portman), Man on Fire
Sep 11, 2004   A new drawing: "Stephanie", redneck wisdom, my salary to hourly reclassification, funny video: news from iraq, an update on my mail-in pny rebate, a new rebate through Costco, Ella Enchanted, Highlander Endgame, Princess of Thieves, The Whole Ten Yards
Aug 27, 2004   Fun with my VW Warranty, Opus, Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, The Land of SokMunster, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Wedding, Napoleon Dynamite, Hidalgo, Chasing Liberty, Out of Time
Jul 23, 2004   San Diego ComicCon 2004, the family summer vacation, Bruce Campbell, Opus, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, Angels & Demons, Folk of the fringe, Bourne Supremacy, i robot, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, Cody Banks 2, Hellboy
Jul 19, 2004   *** PNY Rebate fun, IE Patch, Linux and socialism, liberal scum, Opus, BIM, timeline, master and commander, tad hamilton, stuck on you,cold mountain, 50 first dates, the terminal, spiderman 2, king arthur, a hat full of sky, the thousand orcs, meditations on middle earth
Jun 20, 2004   Memorial day pictures, Duplex, Mark Oakley/Heroes, Wild Animal Park Dinosaurs, B-52s concertman, Say After Tomorrow, Big Fish, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Eragon, A Hat Full of Sky, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
May 08, 2004   Pat Tillman, LOTR Toys, 13 Going on 30, Mean Girls, Tolkien Miscellany, Last Juror, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Pork Tornado
Apr 06, 2004   Roswell season 1 DVD and a some other mindless drivel
Feb 19, 2004   Highlander site contest results, new downloads, princess gallery updates, lord of the rings toys, harry potter, underworld. lost in translation, the hunted, a tolkien miscellany...
Feb 09, 2004   Murder at 1600, Radio, Cheaper by the Dozen, King Arthur, Spiderman 2, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Tolkien Miscellany, Mark Oakley, massive snow in Idaho...
Jan 28, 2004   Swat, Uptown Girls, Somethings Gotta Give, Along Came Polly, Seabiscuit, Ashley Judd Marathon, Van Helsing, Harry Potter, Science Fiction Bok Club, Nanny Ogg`s Cookbook, RA Salvatore, Mythology (Alex Ross), Fastner & Larson, Best page in the universe, etc, etc...
Jan 07, 2004   Clint`s rules, X-Men 2, Holes, Pirates, Two Towers, Freaky Friday (Haley Hudson), new drawings, Thieves` World, Playskool Star Wars, new Interest section
Jan 02, 2004   nothing all that interesting...
Dec 21, 2003   Nemo, Highlander page, Christmas vacation 2003, star wars kid
Dec 12, 2003   E.T. (Erika Eleniak), new drawings, Opus, Santa Claus 2 (Elizabeth Mitchell), Legolas toy/pics, How to Deal (Mandy Moore), Myth update, Last Samurai
Nov 27, 2003   Another Fine Myth, Elf
Nov 22, 2003   Dude, Where`s Bill & Ted
Nov 18, 2003   Not much to say
Nov 15, 2003   Disneyland, Astronaut`s Wife, Dumer and Dumber-er, Monstrous Regiment
Nov 10, 2003   Terry Pratchett, Matrix Revolutions
110103   School of Rock, Terry Pratchett signing, Darth Vader MBNA bust, San Diego fires
Aug 17, 2003   Johnny English, San Diego Comic-Con
Jun 17, 2003   Assorted ramblings
May 28, 2003   Not much to say
May 24, 2003   Almost nothing of note
May 17, 2003   Matrix Reloaded, Pirates
Mar 23, 2003   The Police, Pirates, Lord of the Rings grievances part II
Mar 16, 2003   Lord of the Rings grievances part 1
Super auld stuff   A big list of old submissions with boat loads of broken links

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I'm failing miserably (again) to keep this thing up to date, though I did manage to post a few of the Opus Sunday strips that were languishing on my hard drive. Not much else has been done. I have several bad sketches to post, but I haven't quite gotten around to that, just yet. Maybe this weekend. Anywho, on with the old news...

Christmas Vacation

Well, we loaded up the family for the annual Christmas pilgrimage to colder climes and set off for a nice, long, cold visit. We only made it as far as Southern Utah this year, so there was no snow for the kids to enjoy. Unlike the summer debacle, I actually managed to take a few snap shots on this outing. My favorite: the "Please Drive Slow" sign posted within my in-laws' neighborhood.

It's not bad enough that the signs - posted on every street within the neighborhood - say "slow" instead of "slowly," you can tell, from the picture, that the manufacturers of the sign know the correct spelling but either omit the "ly" either A) at the behest of the some really grammatically challenged residents or B) the letters are removed by the aforementioned residents to reflect the proper way of talkin' in them parts. Either way, it's sad. Very sad.

Christmas was fun. I got some good loot and, more importantly, the kids seemed to be satisfied with their haul and to have a good time. But...we received a not-so-nice surprise the day before Christmas (a day after we arrived): my father-in-law bought a dog - a Yorkshire Terrier. I love dogs, so this wasn't a problem for me, but our youngest was less than thrilled. She's always been afraid of dogs - even tiny little puppies like this one - so she took up a watchful position atop the tall bar stools and in her parents; arms for the majority of our visit. By the end, her fears had subsided somewhat, but she was still leery.

And just because I thought it looked cool, we picked up a gnome for my mother-in-law's yard. And that's all I have to say about that.

I actually managed to do a little bit of reading while we were there and we saw a few movies, too. I finished reading the Douglas Adams biography, Wish You Were Here, and saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Syriana, and Dreamer. Of the three, Syriana was probably my favorite. Dreamer was a nice story, but even the charms of the ever-cute Dakota Fanning and the gruff, coolness of Kurt Russell weren't enough to make this film a winner. Narnia was as good as I thought it would be, but is a children's story, so didn't really grab my imagination. I've never really been fans of the stories (not reading them until I was in my twenties - beyond the recommended age for these stories). I did think all the overly Christian symbolism rampant throughout the film made it interesting to ponder, if nothing else. I also saw a few videos, one of which was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

Credit Cards

I'm sure that you're thinking I'm about to go on an "over-spending with credit cards for Christmas" rant...but you're wrong. Not that I didn't fall into this trap, but it's pretty much a given.

I am guilty of doing the 0% interest balance transfer shuffle with credit cards. I don't do it often, but every once in a while I will be sucked into a deal that just seems too good to pass up. A few months ago, Chase offered me one of these cards that I stupidly neglected to shred. And now, several months later, the account is closed. But not before having my interest rate jacked up to 60%. You heard me: 60%. Don't get it? Me neither. But good luck getting an answer from the call center operating out of Bombay. I'm still pissed, but don't really have much else to say about this, other than: Stay away from Chase. It's a bad company...very bad.

Syriana

Syriana is, shall we say...lacking in direction. There are several primary characters, played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, Chris Cooper (Matt Damon's foil in the Bourne films) and several other lesser known actors, all involved with different aspects on one primary topic: the Oil industry.

George Clooney plays a well-meaning spook who has spent much of his career working in the Middle East. I'm not entirely sure which intelligence agency he is employed by, but I suspect it's the CIA. At one point in the film, his wife and son are introduced to the story. The wife, who appears to share Clooney's character's occupation, is only briefly mentioned, but the son is introduced...and then forgotten throughout the remainder of the film, as is the wife. This is one, of many, weird scenes in this film that should probably have been in the "deleted scenes" on the DVD.

Matt Damon plays a marketing intelligence guy. At least that's the only way I can think to describe his character. I'll try not to ruin the film for readers who have yet to see this film, but Matt Damon's character has little reason to love the Arabs he is forced to work with, even going so far as to openly insult one of the Arab "princes" he is negotiating with:

You want to know what the business world thinks of you?
We think a hundred years ago you were living out here in tents in the desert, chopping each other's heads off - and that's exactly where you're going to be in another hundred.
So, yes, on behalf of my firm, I accept your money
Chris Cooper is a Texas Oil executive greasing the palms of the right political players to maximize his corporation's profits. Texas, and Texans, aren't portrayed in a very favorable light in this film.

Amongst the other characters in the film are key figures in an middle Eastern monarchy, lawyers/investigators involved in an Oil company merger, and sleazy politicians who have memorable lines when confronted about shady dealing in the Oil industry.

Corruption?
Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm.
Corruption - is why we win.
Amanda Peet plays the wife of Matt Damon's character, but isn't pivotal to any of the myriad plot lines woven through this poorly told story.

One of the interesting subplots of the film was a look into how the shoddy treatment of lowly Arab immigrants from poorer nations (many were Pakistani) by their Arab neighbors directly leads to the recruitment of pawns for Islamic-extremist terrorist networks targeting the west. I don't know if there was any truth to the portrayal, but it seemed likely enough.

This film isn't the post-apocalyptic vision of our future that I suspected it would be. This is no Road Warrior - it's a statement on what is happening in the world right now. Unfortunately, the film's ending is no less confusing than the direction of the various plot lines. Nothing is resolved, no bold statements are made...unless it's this: futility reigns and evil will triumph.

Or maybe I missed something.

Tales of the Traveling Pants

I realize that The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is beyond "old news," but since I saw it, despite my manly protests, and enjoyed it - I'm going to tell you why you should see this film.

This film is, for the most part, standard femme-fare: four friends recount the events of a "life changing" summer. Annoyingly, the story revolves around a ridiculous pair of jeans. I hate it already.

When the trailers for this film were aired, months ago, I saw nothing of interest...well, other than Alexis Bledel. But even that fresh-faced cutie wasn't enough to get me into the theater to see what was surely a saccharine-coated estrogenfest.

The premise of the film is this: four teens who have known one another their entire lives are separated during the summer. This is the first time the four have been apart for any extended period of time, so it's...drama time. One of the girls goes off to Greece to visit her grandparents (Alexis Bledel). Another goes to Mexico for Soccer camp. A third is off to spend the summer with her father (her parents are divorced, so she has seen little of her father over the years). And the fourth, Tibby (Amber Tamblyn), is stuck at home, working in a Walmart clone: Walman's. While working, this fourth character is also filming a documentary on the abundant supply of losers in her town. She calls her documentary the "Suckumentary."

I've never really watched Gilmore Girls and only became aware of Alexis Bledel's cuteness when I saw Tuck Everlasting, but she has lost something in the intervening years. She is still a cute little thing...but is lacking the innocence (or maybe she was acting, I don't know). Either way, she is not the reason to see this film.

The "soccer camp" and "divorced parent" story lines are probably of interest to the testosteronally-challenged, but I found them both to be snoozeville.

The fourth storyline starts out slow, but becomes the reason I would recommend this film to anyone. Amber Tamblyn plays the rebellious, angst-ridden teen very well, but she isn't the reason either. The story surrounding Tamblyn's character, and the young actress who plays the precocious neighbor who befriends her, are the elements that make sitting through the rest of this film worthwhile. Jenna Boyd, the twelve year-old who plays the part of the annoyingly cute neighbor, shows amazing character depth. Her part is well-written and skillfully draws on the empathy of the viewer. Time and again, this little girl reminds us how unfairly we judge others around us. One such scene found the two mismatched friends reviewing the footage they had shot earlier:

Tibby: Well what, what is she doing here? Tell me.
Bailey: She's thinking.
Tibby: She's thinking? I think she's trying to grow a brain, that's what.

One of the bonus features of the DVD is the completed "Suckumentary." In the film, Jenna Boyd's character, Bailey, secretly taped herself for Amber Tamblyn's character, Tibby, to find later. This is what she said:

"Maybe the truth is there's a little bit of loser in all of us you know, being happy isnt having everything in your life being perfect. Maybe it's about stringing together all the little things like wearing these pants, or getting to a new level of Dragon's Lair. Making those count more then the bad stuff. Maybe we just get through it. And that's all we can ask for."
This is a film that can draw the sobbing little girl out of even the most emotionally dead neanderthal. I should know. Maybe it's good that I waited to see it on DVD so I could have a peek at the bonus features. So shut up and pass the Kleenex.

Wish You Were Here

Since the untimely death of Douglas Adams (May 11, 2001), there have been at least three books published (that I am aware of) that are at least semi-biographical. The first of these, The Salmon of Doubt, was published in 2002. It contains the, sadly incomplete, Dirk Gently sequel and a collection of many articles that Douglas wrote for various publication on a wide array of topics. In these articles, Douglas tells the reader a great deal about himself and the way his mind works, but you still only get a glimpse of Douglas's life and history. This book is not the subject of my post.

The second was written by Neil Gaiman in 2003 and is entitled Don't Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galxy. Neil does a great job discussing the events of Douglas' life as they related to the production of the Hitchhiker radio scripts, television series and novels. Mention is also made of his work on Dr. Who and the efforts to turn Hitchhiker's into a film. Neil is a great writer and creates very readable and entertaining prose, cleverly educating the reader about any and every Hitchhiker's related item as well as sharing a few intimate looks into Douglas' life. But this book, while a worthy read, is also not the subject of this post.

In April of 2005, the "Official Biography of Douglas Adams" by Nick Webb - aptly entitled Wish You Were Here - appeared on the bookshelves of America. It had been published in 2003, but was apparently not deemed marketable to Americans until the relative success of the Hitchhiker's film showed that a few Americans might be interested. Giddy with happiness, I quickly acquired my own copy.

It found a place on my bookshelf, waiting for me to finish Catch 22. Several weeks later, I started this wonderful book, but foolishly continued to read other books simultaneously. Months later, I have completed my journey and now have a much greater knowledge of the life of Douglas Adams.

In the Prologue, entitled A commendably brief introduction, but you may skip it if you like, Nick Webb writes:

     Contemporary biography is the Area 51 of the literary world. There's a lot of circumstantial evidence to show that it exists, but very few get to visit. The rest of us wonder what the hell is going on behind the perimeter fence.
     Biography set in the past is less mysterious. Disappearing from sight, the writer tunnels through a mountain of research - emerging dazzled by the light, years later with a book. If this contains some entertaining history, sixteen pages of attractive pictures, an argument about the subject that can be supported - perhaps with a little casuistry - from the documentation, and it doesn't cost more than $24.95 ($35.00 if it's a whopper), the book is acceptable.
Nick Webb makes many other interesting and often funny remarks in the introduction, but that was my favorite bit. The book consists, primarily, of a steady narrative by Nick Webb, though Douglas Adams is often quoted.
The world is a thing of utter inordinate complexity and richness and strangeness that is absolutely awesome. I mean the idea that such complexity can arise not only out of such simplicity, but probably absolutely out of nothing, is the most fabulous, extraordinary idea. And once you get some kind of inkling of how that might have happened - it's just wonderful. And I feel, you know, that the opportunity to spend seventy or eighty years of your life in such a universe is time well spent as far as I am concerned.
Nick is fond of footnotes, something I've always appreciated - especially when they are of the humorous Douglas Adams/Terry Pratchett variety. One of these footnotes explains the almost-familiar "mind-buggeringly."
Buffs might be interested to know that Douglas replaced this witty expression of amazement with the more conventional "ming-bogglingly" in the Narrator's account of the Babel FIsh in Fit the First. History does not record if this was pressure from the BBC, an expedient eye on the American market, or just the thought that such a graphic expression might distract.
There is no way I can possibly do this book justice and retain your feeble attention spans, so I will leave you with one last quote from Nick Webb (also contained within the Prologue) and assure you that this is a biography worth reading - especially if you have any interest in learning more about the brilliantly creative and generous visionary who brought us the Hitchhiker's Guide and so much more. He was a devoted and doting father, a lover of music, a skilled musician, a dedicated supporter of ecological causes in addition to being a well-known author and comedic genius.
Douglas Adams had a gift for making us look again at the world and see how strange it really is. You remember those quizzes in comics and magazines when something is drawn from an odd angle or photographed from an unusual perspective? The circle within a thin bar projecting diametrically from either side that turns out to be a bicycling Mexican wearing a big hat seen from above? Douglas's writing pulls a similar trick.
There is so much more I had hoped to say about this book, but without writing twenty pages, I doubt it would be possible.



So...whattya think? Am I off my gourd? Tell me here.



© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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