Posts from January 2004.

I Am My Anti-Drug!

The Queen calls me at work:

The Queen: Guess what.

Me: AJ is your favorite Backstreet Boy.

Q: I just saw you on TV.

M: You … huh?

Q: I was watching the local news and, in the middle of a story, there was this huge close-up of your face.

M: Really? What was the story about?

Q: The pleasurable effects of smoking marijuana.

M: Whaaaa-?

Q: They were talking about some new study that says the buzz people get while running is chemically similar to a marijuana high, and they were showing footage from a gym. And I was, like, ‘hey, I think that’s Matt in the background.’ And then, all the sudden, your face was filling the screen.

M: Wow, crazy. I must have been the best looking guy in the gym; it’s the only explanation.

Q: I don’t think so. Actually, you looked pretty unpleasant.

M: So they were talking about the euphoric effects of pot while showing a picture of me sweating and grimacing?

Q: Yep. You probably stopped a hundred kids from experimenting with marijuana.

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SeattleSpiel

Since I used to maintain the board game site acesup.com, and because I now write about board game here from time to time, I often get email from folks asking if I know of game groups or game stores in the Seattle area.

I’ve been meaning to improve my CSS skills for a while anyhow, so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone and create a website devoted to the Seattle boardgame community. Thus, my new side project: http://www.seattlespiel.com.

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Pushing Daisies

I rarely care enough to send the very best, but I recently saw this card at Hallmark and considered picking up a few:

Wow, talk about useful! I mean, that’s got to be one of the subtlest death threats I’ve ever seen.

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IT Guys … In The Elevator!

Overheard in the elevator:

IT Guy 1: Sure, I know that band. They’re pretty good.

IT Guy 2: I have their album, if you want me to burn you a CD.

IT Guy 1: That would be cool. But burn it as mp3s, not as CD tracks. I don’t even bother with CDs any more. Over Christmas I converted all my CDs to mp3s and then used a 25 foot cable to connect my server to my stereo. So now I just run the whole thing from my PC.

IT Guy 2: Yeah, I did that too. ‘Cept my PC is in the room adjacent to the living area, so I have a 50 foot cable.

Oh, brother. At least when guys discuss their cars there’s a modicum of subtlety about what they’re actually comparing.

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Lord Of The Ring Of Fire

By the way, halfway through The Return of the King I figured out that the entire Lord of the Rings saga is an allegory for pregnancy.

Seriously, check it out. You got your Frodo and your Sam, trudging to the Crack of Doom, right? And that’s about as apt a description for pregnancy as you’re likely to find: nine months of trudging to Mordor. (Fun fact: “trudging to Mordor” was euphemism they used on I Love Lucy before they could say “pregnant” on the air!)

But only one person is the appointed bearer. And that poor sap has to carry the burden the entire way, a burden that just gets heavier and heavier as the weeks wear on. The bearer gets increasingly tired and cranky as they approach their destination — and who can blame them? Their good-for-nothing companion doesn’t do anything useful, except flit about and say things like “jeeze, I wish I could carry the burden for a while!” and occasionally fight off an enormous spider and/or fetch chocolate ice cream.

But as bad as the journey is, it’s the ending that truly sucks: the agony of carrying the burden is nothing compared to letting it go. The bearer gets all, like, “I can’t do it, it’s impossible!” and the companion stands around heming and hawing and lamely asserting “sure you can!” And then, out of nowhere, a creepy-looking bald-headed creature comes onto the scene.

Skeptical? Further corroboration!

  • At the end of pregnancy, women endure “The Ring of Fire”; the climax in The Return of the King involves The Ring and fire. I mean, what could be more obvious? (Note: I’m not going to describe the Ring of Fire here for a variety of reasons, #1 being that the more times I type the phrase “Ring of Fire” the more likely I am to get that Johnny Cash song indelibly stuck in my head. So if you want to know what it is, Google it or get yourself knocked up.)
  • The One Ring causes the bearer great discomfort; according to The Queen, having a small person inside of you perpetually kicking your kidney is also something of an inconvenience.
  • When people see the One Ring they feel an almost irresistible urge to reach out and grab it; likewise, strangers in the supermarket are seemingly compelled to reach out and touch The Queen’s belly.
  • One of the side-effects of carrying the One Ring is that the bearer does not age; one the side effects of being pregnant is that your hair stops falling out. No, for real. The Queen currently has a head of hair so big that it would make women from Texas burn with envy.
  • I am pretty much the spitting image of Viggo Mortensen. Case closed!

(For those of you who have lost track: the due date is February 21st.)

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The Bad Review Revue

Love Don’t Cost A Thing: “An inept and sleazy remake of a bad movie that easily edges From Justin to Kelly as the dullest major-studio release of the year.” — Lou Lumenick, NEW YORK POST

My Baby’s Daddy: “Diapers, even from three babies, can’t stink worse than this.” — Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE

Paycheck: “Doesn’t come within a light year of even science-fiction plausibility.” — Jack Mathews, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Mona Lisa’s Smile: “To call it one-dimensional would be an act of charity.” — Carrie Rickey, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

Chasing Liberty: “The film does provide one solid reason to display a little patriotic fervor: we have the freedom to avoid such rote, shallow dullness.” — Connie Ogle, MIAMI HERALD

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Movies: Return of the King

I was a little apprehensive about The Return of the King. I mean, I knew it would be great — it was, after all, filmed concurrently with the other films, with the same cast and director and source material. But Peter Jackson was passed over for the “Best Director” award in the last two Academy Awards ceremonies, and I was worried that, if the final installment was not as over-the-top great as the first and second, he might not get his due.

I needn’t have feared; The Return of the King lives up to the astounding precedent set by The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and Jackson will almost certainly get his statuette.

And yet, I couldn’t help but be ever-so-slightly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I thought it was fantastic — my favorite movie of the year, even. But after investing so much time into watching and rewatching the first two films, I wanted a Big Finish, I wanted the last movie to be even grander and more sublime. But, honestly, how could it? With the characters and cinematography showcased in Fellowship, the war scenes and the eerily realist Gollum on display in Two Towers, Return was left with little new ground to break. And I knew that, even before entering the cinema. But, still. When RotK failed to exceed the films before it, a little voice inside of me kinda went “darn.”

My enjoyment of the film was also vaguely sullied by the fact that I didn’t rewatch The Two Towers before going to see RotK. I had honestly intended to do so in the weeks before the premiere, but I never got around to it. Consequentially, I spent much of the first hour of the film trying to remember all that had happened before. As with TTT, Return gives viewers no “Previous On Lord Of The Rings” recap –which, frankly, is how it should be — so those who didn’t refresh their memories before heading into the theaters may have found their transcendental viewing-experience occasionally interrupted by thoughts of “wait — who’s that guy, again?” So if you’re the one guy in America who hasn’t seen RotK yet (Brent Wilson of Gerbil Junction, Iowa,) and you happen to be reading this, take my advice: rewatch the first two films now.

(Return of the King also contains the only deviation from the books that I object to — a matter, for the sake of Mr. Wilson, I will discuss in the comments, so as to keep spoilers off this page.)

Well, enough carping — Jackson gives me three of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen and all I can do is bitch. Seriously: Return of the King is, like its predecessors, a wondrous and enthralling experience. Even at three-and-a-half-hours I never felt it to be overlong or ponderous, and at times I found myself marveling that such a lengthy film could move at a breakneck pace. And, having read the book, I knew how things wrapped up, so I had no objection to the plethora of endings.

The Fellowship Of The Ring will always be my favorite of the three, simply because I vividly remember the moment when amazement washed over me halfway through the film as i realized they weren’t going to screw it up after all. And then Two Towers came along and somehow managed to be every bit as good. Return of the King didn’t exceed my expectations, per se, but it was every bit as good as I’d hoped. And taken as a whole, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is surely one of the finest achievements in the history of cinema. Jackson deserves ever single award he is bound to receive.

Note: The comments are not spoiler-free.

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Shake It

Yesterday the Mars Rover sent back detailed photos and video of the planet’s terrain; today NASA released the first audio recorded on the Martian surface. During the 24 minute broadcast, listeners could discern the faint whistling of world’s thin atmosphere, the low rumblings of tectonic movement, and, in the background, the distant but unmistakable strains of Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”

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Ahead Of The Curve

The trick to making a bajillion dollars off a fad, of course, is to get way ahead of the curve.

That’s why, for a limited time only, I’ll be selling bumperstickers (and other merchandise) to my conservative readers.

Be the first to slap one on your car, January 21, 2005!

Update According to whois, “impeachdean.com” was registered in Novemember of last year. So was “impeachclark.com.” Curiously, “impeachkucinich.com” is still available …

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Picks

News:

Pat Robertson said Friday that God told him President Bush will be re-elected in a landslide.

"I think George Bush is going to win in a walk," the religious broadcaster said on his "700 Club" program on the Virginia Beach-based Christian Broadcasting Network, which he founded. "I really believe I'm hearing from the Lord it's going to be like a blowout election in 2004. It's shaping up that way," Robertson said.

Earlier on the program, Robertson had explained that he wanted to share "some of the things that I believe the Lord was showing me as I spent several days in prayer at the end of 2003 ..."

For the record, here’s the full list of God’s 2004 revelations:

  • President: George W. Bush
  • Superbowl Winner: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Best Supporting Actress: Ren
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