Thursday, January 31, 2008

Have Stone, Will Curl

In my endless quest to participate in the most bizarre and esoteric sports on the planet, I have added yet another notch on my metaphorical bow:
Yes. A sport involving brooms, giant heavy rocks, and ice. If you were not sucked in by the 2006 Olympic Curling championships on TV, then here is a YouTube video showing the Canadian Men winning with what can only be described as a perfect shot. The narration in Russian just makes it all the more entertaining. (At least, I think it's Russian.) Anyway, after almost 2 years, Indianapolis finally has its own curling club and I am THERE.

I suck at it, of course. Here are the things I've learned:
1. Many things can affect where the rock ends up stopping, including how hard you throw it, how much English you put on it, how hard your sweepers are sweeping, and how the ice is running.
2. I am completely incapable of perceiving ANY of these factors when I am actually the one throwing the rock. I'm too busy wondering if I'm about to fall over as I launch myself forward out of the hack. But I'm hoping to get the hang of it.

So if you're in Indy and you want to try curling, here is a basic primer:
The point of the game is to score points. You do this by sliding a granite boulder with a handle on top along a sheet of ice toward a target at the other end. After each team has slid 8 rocks down the sheet, you look to see who's got a rock closest to the center of the target, and that team scores. It's called curling, because the rock usually doesn't slide straight, but curls in one direction or another depending on which way it's rotating as it slides and how melty the surface of the ice is beneath it. Your teammates may attempt to affect the speed and curl of your throw by scrubbing the ice in front of the moving rock with brooms--this melts up the ice just a tiny bit and makes the rock speed up and curl less. When to sweep and how hard to sweep is one of the subtleties that will only come from experience; likewise which way to spin the rock and how hard to throw it. All my throws seem to cruise straight through the target and out the back, or else fall short and are taken out of play. But I've only done it twice. There's always room for improvement...

Sunday, January 20, 2008


My score on The Which Lolcat Are You? Test:


Lion Warning Cat
(51% Affectionate, 63% Excitable, 46% Hungry)

You are the good Samaritan of the lolcat world. Protecting others from danger by shouting observations and guidance in cases of imminent threat, you believe in the well-being of everyone.


Take it!

The problem with LOLcats is that I'm completely at a loss to explain why I find them so hilariously funny. I think it's a cumulative effect from having spent a sick day paging through the archives of I Can Has Cheezburger. Or maybe I'm just easily amused these days...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Who Put the Goat In There?

I can already tell that Netflix is going to change my life for the better. I am one of those people who hardly ever sees movies in the theater; I like documentaries, foreign and independent films, and I've got a long list of things I've seen reviewed which I'd like to watch.... but since Rhinebeck is really too far a drive now, and the Indianapolis arts theater is expensive, and I'm spacy and forget to check what they've got on... I miss stuff. One of the things I missed, way back in the day, was Earth, the second film in Deepa Mehta's Elements trilogy. I saw Fire when it first came out, when Upyernoz and I were still doing our near-weekly trips to the Music Box to catch whatever cool foreign flicks were on offer. I thought it was fantastic, hands down, and made up my mind to catch the other two films which were (we thought) to follow shortly. Earth did come out in 1998, the year I left Chicago, and no opportunity to see it arose, and it didn't show up at my local rental place, and I forgot about it. The third movie met with difficulties--the first two were not popular in the areas of India where Mehta was doing her filming, and as I understand it, a lot of her equipment was destroyed, workers threatened, etc. So the production ground to a halt, and the film was eventually finished in Sri Lanka and released in 2005. I caught Water at its Indianapolis premiere in 2006, and my review of it is here. But the whole point of this is--I did HAVE a point--that shortly after signing up for Netflix I realized I could finally see Earth and complete the trifecta. GOOOOOO ME!

Earth was very, very good. It's a story of what happened in Lahore in 1947, as the British were pulling up the stakes and saying "see you later, and oh by the way, this is now Pakistan and that's India, have a nice day!" The resultant rapid and gruesome explosion of Lahore's formerly closely knit community of Hindus, Sikhs, Moslems and Parsees forms the backbone of the film. I thought it was better than Water, personally; and like all of the trilogy, it was wrenchingly painful, beautiful, and funny all at the same time. It was not as visually lush as the other two films, I didn't feel overwhelmed by the visuals. Both Earth and Water are told through the eyes of children who don't really grasp the significance of what is going on around them, and I think this is why the latter two lack the intimate feel of Fire. But at any rate, I highly recommend all three films.

So I also like Indian cinema--and by Indian cinema here I don't mean Deepa Mehta. I am an unashamed fan of Bollywood musicals, and they are the sort of thing where you either think they are fantastic and amazingly hilarious, or you think they are bizarre and annoying. There is very little middle ground. So if you are in the second category, I strongly recommend that you NOT watch This You Tube Video. I found this link via Jane, literally minutes after finishing watching Earth, and I laughed so hard I cried. One thing to note, if you've never encountered this genre of films before, is that while Bollywood musicals are generally subtitled, and the dialogue is usually in Hindi, the musical numbers are almost NEVER subtitled, and the lyrics are frequently in another language like Urdu. So you--the average American viewer--will NEVER know what the FUCK they are singing about, and frankly this video pretty accurately simulates what my brain is filling in when I am watching one of these films. I love it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

30% in Common with Huckabee? Dear God.

Here's how my own political convictions line up with the available candidates, more or less.

81% Chris Dodd
79% John Edwards
78% Barack Obama
78% Bill Richardson
73% Hillary Clinton
71% Joe Biden
69% Mike Gravel
62% Dennis Kucinich
45% Tom Tancredo
39% Rudy Giuliani
37% Mitt Romney
33% John McCain
30% Mike Huckabee
29% Fred Thompson
26% Ron Paul

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

This is interesting--it's more or less exactly what I anticipated (Edwards over Obama over Clinton) but the % of agreement with the weirder GOP candidates surprises me a little. There were a few questions I felt could have used another answer option--like the illegal immigration one. I firmly believe that illegal immigrants should be deported, because they've broken the law by arriving illegally in the first place. Many immigrants bust their asses to arrive here legally; what's their incentive to do so if arriving illegally gets you benefits or a path to citizenship? However, I also think that our current immigration laws obviously aren't working all that well, and we need to find a way to grant worker status to more people so that they can work here legally (which will help the economy in their home countries, if they're sending money back to family) and put some serious energy into helping improve the infrastruture in central and south american countries so that there will be less incentive FOR people to come illegally to the US. But that wasn't an option on the quiz.

I wonder if it's notable that both my top democrat and top republican have already dropped out of the race...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Thanks For Playing!

The fascinating thing about blogging, for me, is not just the fact that I'm casting my life upon the waters of the internet for anyone to read, but that I can go back at the click of a mouse and find out what I was thinking on this date in history, from 2003 onwards. I know other people have been keeping personal journals all their lives; but despite various attempts at diarying at points in my life, I've never been able to do it with any consistancy. Why? I think because I don't like writing for myself. I like writing for other people to read. I like choosing my words carefully in order to make you laugh when you click my bookmark and see a new post. It doesn't matter that there are only about 10 people who read this thing regularly--even if it was only 2, or 1, or just someone randomly Googling the words "Cautionary Tale" every week or so, it still provides more motivation for me than just writing something for myself. Must be the Leo in me.

Anyway, so the ability to go back and check on my state of mind on New Year's pasts is quite a feature. I generally tend to be depressed on New Year's, but I note that I only posted about being depressed twice in the last 5, which is impressive. Maybe because depression isn't all that funny, and I strive to stay funny so that all 10 of you will stick around for another year! But this year, I'm not depressed at all. For the first New Year's since I started the blog, I'm gainfully employed, full time, in a job that I really love and am passionate about. I'm in a good place with family and friends, and we have again the hopeful prospect of political change in the wind for 2008. (Mind you, if we get a Democrat in the White House the "good place" with my family may change--my mom holds me personally responsible for betraying the Republican party at times like this.) I'm in reasonably good health mentally and physically, as are my pets and family. This may be one of the best New Year's in the last decade for me, simply because I don't have anything to dwell on while listening to Pink Floyd's "Time" in a darkened room. Go, 2008!

So how did I start this new year on a high note? By getting completely cleaned out at penny poker. Jesus, my luck was just awful, and I had a great time. We pulled out This Book, and I got to call some great variants like "Liz Taylor" and "Rescue 9-1-1." As you might expect from a book authored by Phil Foglio and James Ernest, these variants are wild and brilliant and hilarious, resulting in huge pots. If you like poker and don't take it too seriously, you should add this book to your library. Just to give you a taste, here's the two games I called last night:
Liz Taylor. 7-Card Stud. Queen of Hearts is wild, and starts in the middle of the table. First person to get a jack or king face up gets "Liz." She stays in his hand until a new man comes along--ie, someone else is dealt a face up jack or king. So until the last faceup card is dealt, you don't know for sure who's going to end up with the wild card. Prevents early folding, builds the pot, and carries a nice suspensful jolt.
Rescue 9-1-1. 5-Card Draw. Natural 9-A-A beats all hands. Everyone's discards after the first betting round go into a pile in the center called "The Media Crew." The injured cards (one-eyed jacks and the suicide king) are wild. Play is as normal, but before the winner collects, all the cards in the media crew are revealed. If a 5-card hand can be made from that pool of cards which beats the winning hand, then the Media Crew has arrived at the emergency first! All cards are reshuffled, another hand is dealt to all live players, and the pot stays. Play continues until a player has a winning hand that isn't trumped by the media. Last night we had two full houses beat by the Media Crew before someone finally won with a 7-high straight. It was awesome, the pot was enormous and there was a huge tension each time we flipped the media hand and started sliding cards around to see what we could make of it. Totally worth the $3 I lost last night.

So...Happy New Year, y'all!