Friday, October 31, 2003

The Bestest Day of the Year

Hooray! It’s Halloween again, and this year I am NOT watching AMC and waiting for trick or treaters to avoid my house and force me to eat all my candy myself. No sir, I’m sidestepping my usual pattern and instead, I’m doing what all good nerds should do on the night of All Souls... I’m playing Call of Cthulhu. (Holy shit, I actually just had two little boys come to the door. Quote: “You were right, Sean. Reese’s must make a ton of money.” Apparently all my neighbors are on the same peanut butter cup bandwagon as I am... Dang. Sorry, guys.) Anyway, my house is decorated with all the spooky stuff I’ve accumulated over the years--but the scariest thing in it, doubtless, is the creepy blue bunny piniata Alex gave me for my birthday, which is full of some of the nastiest, most unidentifyable Mexican candy imaginable. I’m thinking of forcing my guests to thrust their hands into its head and eat whatever they grab, as proof of their Halloween spirit....

Monday, October 27, 2003

As Promised....

The Dish Network came and went today. Yes, the trees on my property betrayed me; the trees were one of the reasons I bought this place, and now this is biting me in the proverbial ass. (And yes, I do have a proverbial ass. Check it out.) The Dish dude searched my entire property for any southwest access not blocked by tree trunks, and failed. So now I'm stuck. Do I keep cable? Do I reduce access to the barest of TV essentials? Or do I give it up altogether? God, what an agonizing choice.

For anyone who hasn't met my friend Jeremy, you may not quite have grasped the scope of his evil genius simply in my telling you about him. He's one of my favorite people for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his ability to pull off practical jokes on a grand scale. No, really grand. He once stole a massive wall hanging/quilt (which I made myself and am obsessively protective of) out of my apartment and replaced it with an equally massive wall map of the Former Soviet Union. That was small potatoes though, he saves his true genius for Sarah. When they were in high school, he helped host a birthday party for her wherein all of the gifts were a) given to her sister as if everyone thought it was HER birthday, and b) were Sarah's own posessions, carefully stolen from her room and painstakingly wrapped. When Sarah ended up living in the same city as Jeremy, she made the mistake of allowing him to apartment-sit for her while she was out of town. She returned, at some ungodly hour of the morning, to find her apartment covered in crime-scene tape, masking-tape body outlines, and splashes of ketchup. His best prank on her, his true tour-de-force, sadly never came to fruition. But this was not for lack of trying on his part, and I highly recommend you read the whole sordid story! It's on Sarah's website, here, and after reading it, you too will Know The Evil That Is Jeremy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

15 Minutes? Or Was That Seconds....?

My figure painting service is being featured on The Miniatures Page! I'm doing a "workbench" project for them wherein they send me some figures, I paint them and photograph the process step by step, and they put the pix up on the website for other nerds to gander at. If you'd like to take a look at the article, it's here.This could mean an increase in business--not a bad thing, as right now I'm closing in on finishing a couple of big jobs. That'll leave me with two regular customers who always have stuff for me to paint, but with the economy the way it is a few more jobs would be good.... Anyway, check out the article!

Monday, October 20, 2003

Fear of Commitment...

Jane's blog asks, "How do you know when it's time to get married?" An excellent question. As I told her in email today, the best time is when your unemployed friend in Indiana has saved enough money to fly to San Francisco for the ceremony. But for me, not having marriage prospects at the moment, a far more pressing question is, "How do you know when it's time to get a cell phone?"

Right now I'm paying $58.02 a month for my cable service. That's just for the extended basic package which doesn't include any "pay" channels.... And frankly, that's nuts. I finally got around to looking into other options, and have settled on DISH Network, which will give me everything I want for about $35 a month, and that includes a DVR. (The major tragedy is that their basic package doesn't include Animal Planet, which I watch like a fiend. But if I get a job, I can expand my package for another $5 or so a month, and I'm still saving money from cable.) The big hitch, of course, is that my house is completely surrounded by trees, and when the DISH people come on Monday they're probably going to say, "Sorry, no signal!" and I'll be left, weeping, to choose between Brighthouse Cable and nothing at all. But setting that whole issue aside, if I make the switch then I'll be saving about $25 a month. For $35 a month, I can have a cell phone....

So how do I know? How do I know when it's time for me to take another struggling step into the world of modern technology? How do I know when I'm mature enough to commit to a two-year contract with 300 Anytime Minutes and Unlimited Nights and Weekends? I could have done it today, at Radio Shack, while sealing the deal on the dish. But I was afraid. Afraid of the contract.... Afraid of another bill in my mailbox... Afraid of my innate ability to lose small, expensive metal objects. What if I drop it down a storm drain or something? That kind of thing isn't unprecidented for me. On the other hand, sure would be nice to be able to call people from the road when I'm out and about. Would have come in handy when I locked myself out of the house the other day. Maybe I really am ready! Maybe I really am a grown-up!

I want one that looks like a Star Trek communicator.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

A Wild World of Nausea

Drove up to Ball State University yesterday for my one academic conference of 2003, sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Early Studies. I've no idea what "Early Studies" are, as the paper topics seem to range from ancient Egyptian artifacts to 17th century poetry and philosophy. Maybe "early" is code for "anything you want to send us a paper on since we're a small conference and we need all the material we can get to flesh out the program." Not that there's anything wrong with this, mind you! I usually go to a huge medieval studies conference in Kalamazoo each spring, and while it pretty much stays medieval (with occasional Shakespeare on the high end) I am usually guaranteed of hearing 2-3 papers which I do NOT understand in the slightest, and at least 1 where some poor young grad student is savaged by the tribal elders for not properly checking her sources. The CAES conference, while tiny by comparison and having far fewer sessions, is a more friendly and inclusive atmosphere, and there are papers given which I actually feel well-read enough to comment on. I don't think I've ever made a comment in a session at Kalamazoo... but I babbled a good bit at CAES about such diverse topics as Margery Kempe, Tolkien's love/hate relationship with Celticism, and Arthurian heroes.

So where was I going with this? Hmmm.... Oh yeah! So the two things I remembered from last year's CAES conference were Greek's Pizzaria, and a little used bookstore called the White Rabbit. (I would have remembered more, I'm sure, but I gave a paper last year and most of the experience was lost in a white haze of nervousness.) The White Rabbit is owned by a guy who is a stereotypical geek--he's erudite, overweight, unwashed, plays RPGs and watches ceaseless sci-fi network. I like him a lot, needless to say, and we had a pleasant conversation last year that made me look forward to seeing his store again. So after a pizza at Greek's, I stopped into the Rabbit, and we chatted for about a half hour about MST3K, Cthulhu, etc etc and so on. Talk turned to bad movies, and of course I had to bring up "Sorceress" and "Legend of the Superheroes." (Which, incidentally, has been responsible for about 60% of the hits I get on this site. People look for that movie on Google every damn day! I have to wonder if they know what they're asking for...) I asked jokingly if there were any bad movies in his video section I should be aware of....

$6 later, I walked out the proud owner of "The Wild World of Bat Woman." MY. GOD. What a total reek of a film. I had planned to let it fester a few days, but Emily offered to watch it with me last night and I figured it would be better with company than alone. It was HORRIBLE. I cannot convey its awfulness in mere words. Yes, Li, it's worse than "Legends." It's still not worse than Sorceress, but it's as close as it gets. The acting stinks. The dialogue stinks. The premise stinks. It combines moments which are just nightmarishly dull with moments that make you go, "I'm sorry, what the fuck are they DOING in this scene??" The best/worst part, really, is that fact that no one in this stupid town where this is taking place seems to think it odd that there is a busty middle-aged woman, wearing a skimpy black costume made of monkey fur and ostrich feathers, with a cult of go-go dancing followers wandering around claiming to fight crime. (Never mind that the only actual crime depicted in the film, a mugging/homicide, goes on right in front of two of the idiot Bat Girls, and they don't do anything about it!) As you can see, I'm still recovering. It may take a couple days.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Jurassic, Schmurassic.

This week (that is to say, last Friday) I got to go on a field trip to the Cincinnati Museum Center with my museum studies intro class. Now, I haven't been on a field trip in quite some time; it was a heady rush, deciding how to spend my pocket money on trinkets and lunch options, and remembering to be back at the bus by 3:30 Ohio Time, which is 2:30 Indiana Time. (Hearing my teacher say this brought back a wash of memories of school band trips to King's Island, which were always punctuated with the mantra, "Ohio Is An Hour Ahead....Ohio Is An Hour Ahead..." I can't blame them, in a crowd of 40 5th Graders you're always going to have a few who just don't get the concept of time zones.) We went there to talk to some exhibit designers about controversial exhibits--how does one handle controversial topics in a museum? It was interesting and thought-provoking. And then we saw an I-Max film and ran around the museums for two hours.

So this brings me back to another controversial topic, namely the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which I mentioned in an earlier post. Nobody who responded in comments seemed particularly disturbed by the MJT.... But for those who didn't check out the link, it's a fictional museum. It exists physcially, you can go to it and see the exhibits pictured on the website... But none of it is true. The information presented in the exhibits about the habits of the Deprong Mori Bat or the works of neuropsychologist Geoffrey Sonnabend is purely fictional. The history of the museum is fictional. It's all one big joke. Yet every element of the museum is presented with the utmost sincerity and gravity, and if you were not paying attention, you might well believe everything this museum is telling you. Which is exactly what happened to about half of my classmates, and when the truth was revealed, they were furious. A lively debate ensued about what makes a museum a museum, whether the MJT can be classified as a museum or not, and whose responsibility it is to ferret out the truth. Personally, I think the MJT is great--it shows up just how easily we are manipulated into believing "facts" simply by trusting in the authority which presents them to us, complete with footnotes. But there were some in the class who were livid that a museum might, under some circumstances, lie to you. And yet we read lies in books and on museum panels all the time, assuming it's true because it's in black and white in front of you and seems to come from a credable source. A healthy skepticism is a valuable tool....

And on that note, Jeremy has some good links this week to info about the Diebold Voting Machine controversy. Books, museums, vote tabulation--it's good to know what's actually backing them up.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Beer. It's What's For Breakfast.

Beer bread, that is. It's been so freakin' cold here that I went ahead and made beer bread on Monday. Talk about a power breakfast; coffee with a slab of baked flour, butter, and beer. I needed it this morning, as I woke up with one of my total destructo headaches.

I really hate this; I've been non-functional for the better part of the day. I call them migraines, but really don't know if that's what they are in a clinical sense. All I know is, I get them once a month (predictably) and for about 8 hours I'll be nauseated, achy, light-sensitive, depressed, and miserable. Drugs help, but for some reason today I just wasn't able to shake it off. So I got almost nothing done. While it's going on I can't really read, or paint, or use the computer for more than a few minutes, or watch TV... I can sleep, but I avoid napping in the middle of the day because it throws my internal clock way off. GAH! Now it's after 5, I've got a game to run at 7, and I finally feel able to concentrate long enough to actually do some reading. Which is what I should be doing instead of posting to my weblog. Right. I'm off, then.