Sunday, August 28, 2005

What Fresh Hell Is This?!

Sunday, clutch goes out on car. Wednesday, receive another citation from the town marshal regarding the brush along the street. Thursday, in trying to make it to the class I'm TAing for on time, I am forced to climb over a chain link fence that separates me from the new art building, and I rip a sizable hole in my pants, just beneath the right buttcheek. ("Hi, I'm your TA, and I'll be mooning you this afternoon.") Friday, new cat continues to be sick and requires a trip to the vet. Today, enormous branch falls off silver maple at back of lot and comes to rest, very gently, on a power line. Did I piss God off this week? Or what?

And in this same spirit of irritable bitterness, I present to you a meme, courtesy of Jane and Sarah. "Name three social phenomina that bug the hell out of you." Ahem.
1. People who use the word "impact" as a verb. "The Iraq war has really impacted gas prices." No it hasn't, you goons! It's affected gas prices. "Impact" is a noun, unless you're talking about wisdom teeth.
2. People who pull out in front of you, forcing you to slam on your brakes, when there is a mile of clear road right behind you. Jerks.
3. Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. I was going to say, the mis-use of apostrophe s on signs in public places, but I already had one grammar one. And Jane already used Neil Young.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Week the Earth Stood Still...

So you want to know what Gencon is like for those lucky few of us who work in the professional nerd industry? Here's a handy guide--it's almost like being there.
Dealer Hall opens for setup on Tuesday, but we're busy doing other things Tuesday. Wednesday, we could go in at 8, but some of us aren't up til 11, by which time Des has made some kind of English breakfast bread studded with about 4000 raisins. We eat a lot of raisins and bread. Then we load the car. Arrive at the convention center around 3. We have to be out by 8. We can't set up until boss arrives with new cushy flooring tiles, which require a trip to the hardware store, so wait while he goes. Wait. Look jealously at everyone else setting up faster and better than you. Gloat at card sellers whose product takes hours to deploy and weighs a ton. When boss arrives, set up entire booth and cushy floor in approximately 3 hours. Then go home and pack pre-release miniatures until after midnight.
Arrive 2 hours early to finish setting up. Finish just as doors open at 10. Watch as onrush of thousands (no, really--thousands) of gamers flows into the dealer hall and up the aisles like a demonstration on the capillary system at the science museum. Talk, and stand, constantly from 10 am to 6 pm when hall closes. Answer the same questions hundreds of times. Meet lots of nice people. Marvel at the weirdos. Have dinner with your friend from out of town who you almost never see; get home around midnight.
Much of the same, only less money changes hands and the weirdos get weirder. Manage to leave booth for over an hour on Saturday afternoon. Get called back by boss. Rush to office supply store en route to con center on two different mornings. Never get up after 7 am. Never go to bed before midnight or one. Never sit down for more than 5 minutes at a clip. Participate in one--and only one!--Gencon event for fun, at 1 in the morning when you're rapidly losing coherance. Wake in the morning with vague memories of having had a good time.
Dismantle entire booth, in a relatively organized fashion, in 1.5 hours. Discover that 400 booths trying to break down between 4 and 8 pm means that the line to get into the loading area is 3 blocks long. Go out for dinner. Come back and find that the line is now 5 blocks long. Park illegally, and carry all booth items out the front doors of the convention center, in 85 degree heat. Unload contents of truck and cars at boss' house. Try to go home, and find that transmission has gone out on my 10 year old Saturn. Contemplate suicide. Enlist help of coworker to push car out of driveway, and drive home using a limited number of gears. Go home...and thank god it's over.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bruce Teaches Logical Positivism, and is Also in Charge of the Sheep Dip.

First, let me say that I am a fan of Bruce Campbell. I own the special director's cut of Army of Darkness, I loved him on Xena and Hercules, and I got a lot of pleasure out of Bubba Ho-tep. But this week Bruce tried my loyalty severely, as I paid $8 to see his newest cheesy flick, "Man with the Screaming Brain."

I expected a screwball parody of 1950's horror/monster genre. I expected it to be at least as good as Steve Martin's kind-of-funny, kind-of-terrible "Man with Two Brains." Instead I got the lamest, most awful waste of 90 minutes I've ever experienced in a theatre. I've walked out of bad movies before (most notably "Office Killer," which was so bad I almost threw up right there in the theatre) but I felt a certain duty to stay at "Screaming Brain"--mainly because I'd dragged two friends to see it, and because I wanted to see if Bruce saved it at the end. I'll save the rest of you the trouble of wondering: he didn't.

For anyone who might be considering seeing this movie, let me sum up the plot for you. A gypsy woman who runs a bridal shop keeps getting ditched by men, so she kills 'em. Completely unconnectedly, a mad scientist (Stacy Keach, for god's sake where did they find HIM?) and his assistant (Ted Raimi) are working on brain transplant technology in the same Bulgarian town. And a drug company exec (Campbell) and his wife (some Australian chick trying to sound American) are having marital problems and riding around in a taxi cab driven by an admittedly entertaining Russian guy (some Bulgarian guy.) This is the entire first half of the movie. Then, in rapid succession, the gypsy kills Campbell, his wife, and the taxi driver. Ted Raimi somehow gets their bodies for his boss, and they put half the taxi guy's brain into Bruce Campbell's body, and the wife's brain into a robot with a blonde wig. TaxiBruce then engages in some typically Campbell style physical comedy, which could have been funny if they'd planned it better but instead consists of him slapping himself around at a salad bar and falling down a lot. Robotwife goes on a rampage looking for Gypsy; TaxiBruce realizes that he needs to kill the gypsy also, and then interminable chase scenes followed by poorly choreographed combat ensue. Rinse. Repeat. Repeat. Finally, mercifully, everyone dies except Ted and Stacy.... only because the mad scientist has figured out how to perfect the surgery (apparently being dead doesn't damage brains at all, at least not these idiots' brains) we have a happy ending moment where we see that TaxiBruce and the newly constructed GypsyWife live happily ever after, donating their millions to brain research charities.

This review, right now, is officially funnier than the movie, and it's not that funny. I expected better from Bruce's directorial debut.... Oh well. At least i didn't pay $10 at the sneak preview last week....

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Look Back In Anger...

Note to self: next time you let the Japanese honeysuckle along the canal road get a little out of control, and you find an ordinance citation in your mailbox from the Town Marshal telling you to cut it back, do NOT go out in a fit of irritation (both at yourself and at the marshal for citing you without trying a phone call first, which would have been nicer) and hack at the honeysuckle with your tree loppers at 8pm when it's starting to get dark. First off, you'll do a crummy job of it; second, you won't be able to see the poison ivy mixed in with the honeysuckle until it's too late; and third, when it's 80% humidity and 85° out after sunset, and then you come back in the house dripping with sweat and try to cook dinner over the stove, you're going to be courting death by heat exhaustion. All I'm sayin' is, next time, THINK, stupid.

Living in a wooded idyll as I do, putting up with invasives like Japanese honeysuckle all over my freakin' yard is par for the course. The poison ivy is even par for the course. So are the mosquitos.... and the massive ant colonies... and the mice... The upside, of course, is the canal and its denizens. I regularly see three or four different kinds of turtles in the canal; on my birthday I saw 35 of them (an omen?) between here and the grocery store. A few weeks ago the pumpkinseed sunfish were nesting along the bank; the males collect stones and shells and decorate an area about 8-12" across, and then hang out there, undulating against the current in a "hey baby" sort of way in hopes that a female sunfish will deem their nest worthy of some egg deposition. They guard their own little nests, but they'll put them right next door to each other so three or four males might all be hanging out within a foot or two of each other. "Seen any babes?" "Nope. You?" "Nope." Right after we got the leftovers of Hurricaine Dennis, the canal was clear of all wildlife, except the nesting sunfish who seemed totally unperturbed by our 7" of rain. People eat them, but I don't know why--they're pretty damn small. I also see wood ducks, and great blue herons, and muskrats. I heard a wood thrush the other night, and I sometimes hear owls. A weasel ran in front of my car a few weeks ago; it was dark, but I can't imagine what else it could have been but a weasel. And biking home from the river the other evening, I came face to face with a deer who seemed not at all alarmed by my presence. What I mean is, citations and poison ivy aside, I'm really glad I live where I do. Now I just need to remember where I put the bottle of calamine.