An online journal from perhaps the biggest, stupidest Tommy on all the internet.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Out with the old, in with the....
Out with the old, in with the...
In talking with Shyam, briefly, over Facebook...2008's thrown a couple of handfuls of salt at your old pal Tommy in its waning moments, I decided that 2009's gotta be a turn for the better. Work, bills, a bout of insomnia and a weird-ass virus that doesn't seem to realize it's a pissant, and wants to stay around to take a couple more pokes at yours, truly.
They aren't horrible, things. Little annoyances. That's all they are, for all my willingness to bitch and moan. I'll take time tonight to be thankful for family and friends. For a good job (that's tolerated me having to head out early, twice this week). For a roof over my head. For living in a country where we don't have to live in fear of getting blown up at the mall, or getting blown to smithereens because some asshole extremist decided to wake the dragon by lobbing a few missiles at it.....
Heck, I'll take pride in having gone to the doctor today, to find along the way that the blood pressure was at a very manageable 130/82....
So, things are good.
But, as always, they could be better....
There are a few.
A few less visits to the Fast Food outlets that line the 30 mile path from my house to the job. I've said it before, but I'd like there to be a little less Big in the Big Stupid Tommy. Maybe if I weren't greasing the pipes with a couple thousand extra calories a couple times a week, that would go a little easier.
A few more visits to the bike path.
Watch less TV...shouldn't be a problem given my recent damnation of Comcast, and ridding myself of their troublesome ways.
Most of all?
There's a quote that I've seen a couple times attributed to Jeff Bridges (the actor, not the guy I worked with a year or so ago). It goes along the lines of "Be Kinder than Necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle...."
I dig that.
Here lately, I've found myself taking life a little too seriously. And by lately, I mean, the last four or five years.
I've said for years that just about the only way that Major League Baseball outpaced the NFL in terms of marketing an event was the way they marketed the All-Star Game.
I think the NFL's got a chance to change the Pro-Bowl from something sadly anti-climactic, into the cannonfire, opening event of a week's worth of Championship festivities.
Not a huge thing, necessarily. But, at this point, do you really give a shit about the Pro Bowl? At the very least, the Pro-Bowl's been an opportunity lost, in terms of revenue. I certainly think more people will watch the game, if not care exactly, if you were to play it in that week between.
I dig the move, though I've always been able to figure where the WWE's Royal Rumble will fit, as Vince has seemingly tried to position one of his signature events in the lull between the Championships and the Super Bowl. Most likely in the same spot.
Again, I'm just not sure too many people dig the Pro Bowl....
Came down a little ill this weekend, my first weekend off in a while. Don't know if it was the flu, or just a rough cold. I'm pretty sure it's not malaria, even though that's the first thing WebMD suggested when I started digging through their symptom guide.
Ended up trading days so I could take today off, rest up a bit more. Slept 12 hours last night, and am not averse to the idea of a nap later this afternoon.
I'd intended to take my truck into the shop tomorrow, but went ahead and took it this morning, just to get it out of the way. Gonna pay a nice chunk of change, I think.
Anyway, gonna sack out on the couch, read and watch Tropic Thunder...
Via one of my favorite blogs, Strange Maps, comes a county-by-county breakdown of the trend toward slaw consumption on hot dogs.
I'm a number nerd. I liked this one, if only because for about a year, I've been working in a bubble of geography that LOVES Hot Slaw. Our vendor brings more to our store, and the three close to us, than any other portion of his route. Sometimes combined. The other areas he delivers to, sometimes, aren't more than 3 miles away.
I'm a geek, but I have a notoriously bad memory for names. It runs in my family. Don't know what it is, but I will call people I've known my entire life by the wrong name. I've done it from time to time on here. And as much as I find myself irritated by people who exult in correcting you on a small thing like a name, I try to take it in stride...it's just one of those things I credit to my brain working faster than my mouth. Or is it the other way around?
Regardless, we were discussing at work what we'd gotten for Christmas. I mentioned that my sister'd gotten me a 2-disc edition of The Day The Earth Stood Still, and among the special features was a commentary with, among others, director Ray Wise.
"Robert," my friend Justin corrected me. "Robert Wise was the director."
I thought for a second. "You're right," I said.
After a second, I said "Who's Ray Wise?"
Justin looked at me. He said what I'd already had in my head "he's an actor...I think."
Well, it plagued me for the rest of the morning. Luckily, it hit me in the middle of filling out paperwork. I went to Justin soon after, and reported: Ray Wise played, among other things, one of the bad guys in Robocop, and the Devil in....
I couldn't remember the name of the show.
Neither could Justin, who had similarly been wondering who Ray Wise was.
Luckily for the both of us, at our short staff meeting, a third party was able to remind us that Ray Wise played the Devil in Reaper.
I am reminded of two things.
1.) These are the thoughts that kept me out of the really good schools.
2.) It's good work with geeks. Otherwise, I might have gone nuts, lying awake still not knowing...that, or I'd have looked on the interweb when I got home....
1) What was the last movie you saw theatrically? On DVD or Blu-ray?
The night of my last class this semester, I stopped at the dollar theater and saw Dark Knight again.
On DVD? We watched Elf and Christmas Vacation on Christmas day at my folks' house. I am currently watching the flick Quick Change. It's only been sitting on top of the TeeVee from the nice folks at Netflix for a month.
I been busy.
2) Holiday movies— Do you like them naughty or nice?
I like nice, though when you cross over into cloying and sweet, I'll walk away.
I dig Christmas, by and large. And movies that celebrate the spirit, be it religious or secular, I dig. A Christmas Story's still the favorite...
3) Ida Lupino or Mercedes McCambridge?
Ida Lupino, if only because she was in one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes.
4) Favorite actor/character from Twin Peaks
I've never seen the show. Just one of those things, I guess.
5) It’s been said that, rather than remaking beloved, respected films, Hollywood should concentrate more on righting the wrongs of the past and tinker more with films that didn’t work so well the first time. Pretending for a moment that movies are made in an economic vacuum, name a good candidate for a remake based on this criterion.
So, what you're saying is, making this movie in an economic vacuum, we could construct a real meteorite and destroy Paris, France for real? For ultimate realism in my remake of the flick Armageddon? We'll leave in the junk where it's easier to train oil drillers to be astronauts than it is vice-versa. I can make that leap...
Gonna have to give this one more thought...I don't hold too many grudges, that I can think of...
6) Favorite Spike Lee joint.
Do The Right Thing is just a good movie. There's a weird part of me that He Got Game digs for the same reason I dig Field of Dreams. No tears, though.
7) Lawrence Tierney or Scott Brady?
Lawrence Tierney. Scott Brady, for me, is just one of those "that guys."
8) Are most movies too long?
Only if Michael Mann directs them.
9) Favorite performance by an actor portraying a real-life politician.
I love that movie where Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the Governor of California.
10) Create the main event card for the ultimate giant movie monster smackdown.
King Kong is the Hulk Hogan of the genre...he seems to comeback every decade or so, and gets unbelievable markout from the fans....Godzilla for all his longevity, year in and year out, is the Ric Flair of the genre. I gotta think that's gotta be the main event. You do it right, though. Two out of Three Falls, with one fall taking place in Tokyo, in the vicinity of the Tokyo Dome, and the second in New York, of course, at MSG. The third, in some other, neutral location. Los Angeles? Or perhaps London? I dunno. My analogy wears a little thin.
Especially since I'm having trouble equating Gamera to anybody....Barry Windham, maybe?
11) Jean Peters or Sheree North?
Gotta be honest. Sometimes, my movie snob pants aren't long enough. Gonna give it to Sheree North, because she played Kramer's mom. And I had to look that one up.
12) Why would you ever want or need to see a movie more than once?
I've thought long and hard about that. I think it was Pauline Kael who likened seeing a movie once like wandering around in a candy store.
Me personally, there are some movies that are like comfortable pants. At the end of the day, when life gets you bedraggled....it's nice to slip into a comfortable routine as an escape.
13) Favorite road movie.
I always dug Road to Rio....
Planes, Trains and Automobiles also comes to play.
14) Favorite Budd Boetticher picture.
That one of him holding the fish.
15) Who is the one person, living or dead, famous or unknown, who most informed or encouraged your appreciation of movies?
16) Favorite opening credit sequence. (Please include YouTube link if possible.)
17) Kenneth Tobey or John Agar?
Kenneth Tobey. If only for Airplane and the two Gremlins movies....
18) Jean-Luc Godard once suggested that the more popular the movie, the less likely it was that it was a good movie. Is he right or just cranky? Cite the best evidence one way or the other.
Mostly, just cranky and elitist. A filmmaker that can make a film that resonates with people after an initial viewing, yet remain accessible and entertaining has a talent.
Which is not to say Adam Sandler or Martin Lawrence deserve to keep making movies.
As with all things, with two point of views, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
19) Favorite Jonathan Demme movie.
It's hard to compete with Silence of the Lambs...
20) Tatum O’Neal or Linda Blair?
Umm...so we're pitting the girl from Exorcist against the girl in Bad News Bears....hardly seems fair.
At the end of the day, I'm going to give the edge to Tatum O'Neal, because Rescue Me is actually a pretty fuckin' good show.
21) Favorite use of irony in a movie. (This could be an idea, moment, scene, or an entire film.)
I don't know if it's my favorite, but the one that pops to mind was Wall-E's condemnation of a throwaway, logo-emblazoned culture. Yet everytime I can remember turning around this summer, I saw a Happy Meal box or a sign for Wall-E.
22) Favorite Claude Chabrol film.
Gonna be honest and say you're a bigger movie snob than me.
23) The best movie of the year to which very little attention seems to have been paid.
You know....Doomsday was a Glorious Mess.
I'm not going to sit here and debate whether it is a great movie (it is not).
I'm not going to argue the S.F. (not feasible) or ignore the plot holes (there are a shitload).
But damn, I give Neil Marshall credit for making a movie, outside of Tropic Thunder and Dark Knight, I had more fun with than anything. It's like a scenario you dream up when you're eight, and you just carry through with it to the bitter end.
Like I said...this one's like pulling random topics out of a hat, and jamming them into a flick....but I like it.
24) Dennis Christopher or Robby Benson?
25) Favorite movie about journalism.
Citizen Kane is very much a journalism movie, inasmuch as the medium ends up being the message.
However, I have long viewed Superman 2 as a cautionary tale of how impossible it is to remove yourself from a story....
26) What’s the DVD commentary you’d most like to hear? Who would be on the audio track?
For the longest time, I'd have said Tim Burton, on something like Beetlejuice or Edward Scissorhands, but his commentary on the first Batman movie was neither revealing nor entertaining....
I'm sure I'll think of a better answer...but for some reason, I'd love to hear Kevin Smith do a Star Wars commentary track...he and Scott Mosier did a track on the Roadhouse DVD a while back that's a riot. I'd like to hear that from the guys on a Star Wars disc, in whichever inevitable re-release is coming.
Hell, you could probably convince Kevin to do a podcast commentary without too much argument....
27) Favorite movie directed by Clint Eastwood.
Mystic River. Sean Penn is Sean Penn...he's one of the greatest actors of his generation. And Kevin Bacon I've always looked at as a guy who had character actor chops, who got elevated to leading man status really early on, and kind of lost his way as an actor.
Here's the thing. I've always regarded Tim Robbins dubiously. In a lot of the way I've always regarded Lily Taylor. She's got the right look and personality, but for some reason, I never bought all in for much that he did. I'm sure there's arguments out there against that, but it's been a personal thing. It's rare that I completely buy a performance of his. Bull Durham, Shawshank Redemption, those are really the only two other times I can think that he looks like he's who he's trying to play. No matter what else he's done...whether it's with the Coens, or with Altman, or Spielberg, or whomever...he looks like he's acting.
I say all that to say this: Not only did Eastwood bring something out in Tim Robbins, an unease with the world...he made me see Dave Boyle the character, in an entirely different way. Mystic River's my favorite Dennis Lehane book, too...and I didn't like Dave Boyle in the book...he seemed too willing to accept his role as victim, in life, and seems to use that--on the whole, the book wasn't about him, he was just a tool used to make everybody else tick. Meanwhile, the Dave Boyle in the movie truly came to life for me...a guy who's damaged goods, withdrawn, but willing to make-due with what he has....Clint brought forth what I thought was the weakest part of the book, and made it (probably) the strongest part of the flick.
28) Paul Dooley or Kurtwood Smith?
I respect Paul Dooley's comic stuff, but given his work on That 70's Show, I think Kurtwood Smith can go toe to toe with him on that account. They both have stuff they've done that I just dig...Dooley in both Slap Shot and Popeye...Smith for his Star Trek resume, and his blowhard in Quick Change (which just popped on the screen as I came to this question)....
I'm going to go with Kurtwood Smith. He's just great in Robocop. From Clarence Boddicker asking "Can you Fly, Bobby?" to the whole bit where he takes Officer Murphy's hand. A small time hood gone big time...a bully, in the end. But he just wallows in that role, and it's one of my favorites...
29) Your clairvoyant moment: Make a prediction about the Oscar season.
My two favorite performances of the year will both get shafted in the Best Supporting Actor category. My geek-crush for Heath Ledger's Joker knows no bounds. And Robert Downey, Jr. in Tropic Thunder might be the best comic performance in years.
I'm not sure what'll beat them out. If one has a chance, it's Ledger. But somehow, I think the the pop-culture momentum will work against him. And we all know how much respect comedy gets come award season...
30) Your hope for the movies in 2009.
Same as it's been the last couple of years. Let's stop revisiting old properties. Let's continue the trend that people, characters and good writing are funny, and not build so many comedies around Jack Black or Adam Sandler or Martin Lawrence. Let's remember that movies are supposed to be fun. On the whole, I'll look back on 2008 rather fondly, when it comes to movies....
31) What’s your top 10 of 2008? (If you have a blog and have your list posted, please feel free to leave a link to the post.)
In alphabetical order:
Cloverfield Dark Knight Doomsday In Bruges Iron Man Redbelt the Strangers Tropic Thunder Wall E Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Keep in mind that it's by no means a complete list. I've had less time this year, between work, school and other commitments to see the flicks I want to. Add to that I live in the sticks. So, a jaunt 50 miles north to Knoxville to catch a flick at the Downtown West, the nearest arthouse-type flick, was made somewhat prohibitive by $4 a gallon gas, as well.
BONUS QUESTION (to be answered after December 25):
32) What was your favorite movie-related Christmas gift that you received this year?
Just a few flicks on DVD....
Happy holidays to all y'all, and a happy new year too!
Just wanted to take a minute, after a moment of personal decompression, to tell anybody happening to stop by Merry Christmas....I hope yours is rewarding, restful and everything else in the universe you want and need it to be.
I had a dinner of duck tonight, after a hectic 12 hour Christmas Eve shift. Gonna run out to the folks house. Try to get home before Santa...who's currently somewhere in the South Atlantic between Antarctica and South America, according to Norad's Santa Tracker....
It is not a fear of not getting presents...it is indeed a little word I call "ramifications."
G'night world. If I don't take the time to write again, have a very Merry Christmas....
And now...why I fear the Santa:
I'm going to bed soon. I think I'm going to drink some of the spiked egg nog, and chase it with a Benadryl or two. I don't want that fat man to catch me anywhere near awake.
See, I caught Santa one year. I used my mental powers, and my ninja training. I set a trap for him. You know the saying...build a better Santa trap and the world will beat your ass to the door. Or something like that. The trap? It was fly (I learned that word on TV). It was diesel-powered, and it ran on 1.21 gigawatts of electrosol, or something. I can't explain it well, because I'm inept in my ability to explain things technical. Suffice it to say this: think of a cross between one of those glue-based mouse traps, a helicopter, and Eskimo Ingenuity, and you're almost there.
Santa fell into my trap. At 12:14 on Christmas morning, in 1994. Santa has a weakness for Swiss Cake Rolls. I caught him. He was screaming in some language I didn't know. Considering the jaunty sneer and the swaggering swivel of his hips, I assumed that it was Elvish
I could only wonder at my achievement. How many millions of people had tried and failed to catch St. Nicholas? I stared at the man in red, and could barely begin to think of the acclaim, the public adoration.
Sadly, I could barely begin to think of the money. The Knoxville Zoo told me they'd pay me $20 if I could deliver the jolly old elf. I know that, because I called and asked how much a jolly old elf would bring me...they answered with a snort (which, at the time I took for excitement, but realize now was something more mocking) "twenty dollars."
But I was counting my chickens before they hatched (which, coincidentally, was plan B, to put Santa under a heat lamp and see what emerges). I managed to hold St. Nick for all of 28 minutes. He's a wily old elf. He knows how to think his way around a corner (or outside the box, as it were). In the future, I'll know that Santa's got a helluva bunch of good stuff in his Batman-style utility belt. I think it was the acid that freed him, though I'll never be sure. I was momentarily knocked silly by one one of his deadly accurate "Santarangs."
I gained my senses enough to try once again to subdue St. Nick. I've watched my share of pro wrestling in my life (and probably your share, too). But don't let anybody fool you. Thousands of hours spent studying the career of Bret "the Hitman" Hart is no match for Santa's rolling snowball Kung Fu. And let me say, Santa Claus knows his way around a choke hold.
When he was done beating me senseless, he tied me to the hearth with the stockings, which hadn't been hung by the chimney with enough care for Santa. I was left for Commissioner Gordon and the rest of the Gotham City police to find in the morning.
Most damning? Santa has connections. He told me, as he laid a finger inside his nose (Clement Moore had that one wrong), but before up the chimney he arose: "Young Thomas: because of you transgression against me, you will never be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven!"
That, in a word, sucks.
I've done my best in the decade since to atone. I've twice made a pilgrimage to the North Pole to offer thanks for my life, and to do whatever Santa wants me to do, so as to make up. (FYI: The North Pole thing is bunk, a story made up to throw off Santa's enemies....Santa's workshop is actually in Iceland, inside a volcano, where he and his elves and reindeer are protected by Magma Monsters and Lava Loons.)
I feel like I'm making progress. I am cautiously optimistic that, over time, he'll forgive me. I hope, anyway. The problem is that an immortal elf like Santa shouldn't have any problems holding a grudge for a long, long time.
But mostly, he tells me in no uncertain terms to go away, and to leave him be.
So, I'm doing all I can to make him happy, in that respect. Which means I'll have been asleep for several hours by the time Santa makes his pass by my house.....
And let me pass a word of warning on to you, as well: You'd do well to do the same. Don't do anything to draw his wrath. As if eternal damnation of the soul to Alabama (it's where Hell is, just south of Tuscaloosa) isn't enough, he's got heat vision and no problem with using it to burn off and instantly cauterize fingers. Also, I've got a permanent crick in my neck and an intense aversion to pointy hats that I'll carry with me forever, for my troubles.
You do the same, and you too, can have a Very Merry Christmas.
I'll catch Ron & Fez on XM a couple or three times a week, usually when I'm wandering toward work for a closing shift. They've been running an original Christmas song challenge this year, wanting folks to submit original Christmas music.
Sleeves is a pretty regular contributor to their show, and his stuff isn't usually my cup of tea...but I dig this one, actually...
Chapter MMMCXIII: In which he posts a video of Wheel of Fortune
Chapter MMMCXIII: In which he posts a video of Wheel of Fortune
Once upon a time, when visiting my grandfather, I drove the man nearly off the edge by beating him consistently at Wheel of Fortune, guessing the puzzle long before he had a clue. He was in his 70's at the time, and I was maybe 10.
I like word games. I rock at Wheel of Fortune. I think I once upon time stunned The Evil Hippy by guessing a phrase correctly based on the placement of 4 t's and one N, just with a casual glance at the screen as we walked past Wheel as it was on.
I talked with a friend earlier this week about how dumb the contestants on Wheel of Fortune are. I opined that the dumb contestants are as much a part of the continued success of the show as anything. I think there are probably a few people like me who seem to use exasperation as a kindling, anger as a fuel. You might use the word "rage-a-holic," and such a phrase might just get you dealt with...so watch it.
Anyway...there are a good number of us who watch the dumb on the Wheel of Fortune, and take a small bit of satisfaction away from the viewing by know that if it came down to a life-or-death Hangman contest among any one of the three, we'd walk away with our necks intact.
I think I'd whip Pat Sajak, too. Whereas I've gotten an inkling that Alex Trebek would perform admirably on Jeopardy, if only through years of trivial osmosis, I think Pat Sajak's merely a mindless, easily controlled automaton. Any time a player guesses a letter for a puzzle, and it does not immediately light up, there's still a pause as Pat's looking for more confirmation that the letter is not in the puzzle.
Wheel of Fortune host is a good gig, and I think Pat would be eaten by wolves if he were not doing it.
I've got a thing for game shows. I dunno. It's a distraction. Trivia shows are my favorite, but most game shows I end up digging. Wordplay shows like Wheel are pretty good. Even shows like Price is Right, which has a large degree of chance thrown in to its mix, can draw me in.
I've tried out for a handful. Mostly quiz shows...Jeopardy a handful of times, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Even did a hot summer day standing in line trying to get on The Weakest Link. Now, I've never made it on...I think I always do well enough with the trivia portions of the testing. I've just left any interview portions of the tryouts feeling like that's what's knocked me out of contestant's row on a soundstage in Los Angeles....
The tryout for Wheel of Fortune is different. They did one at Murphy Center, out in Murfreesboro one day. Apparently, it involves going in, and getting a number. Kind of like how you'd Count off for teams in gym class, or a training session in an office. Then, after everybody that's going to show up for the try out shows up, they call one (or more) of the numbers at random, and everybody else can go home. Then, every body in groups 2 and 7 will be given a tryout, and it is based largely on personality. Which is why stuff like this happens on the show.
I probably shouldn't say that. We all have watched the show, and tried to solve a puzzle that our minds are reading as "Wonky Hulkster" and is actually "Punky Brewster."
Still, I've seen the word "pristinely" a few times...I'd probably pronounce that one okay....
Ive gotten to thinking about it, though. I think a lot of Wheel of Fortune's continued success revolves around having contestants who don't solve that puzzle too quickly. I think that if you have a throng of contestants who a.) conservatively weigh the risk of spinning the wheel and hitting a Bankrupt vs. running like Dom Deluise to a Burt Reynolds buffet toward that $10,000 dollar space on the wheel and b.) can put a puzzle together quickly, before the audience at home, you run off a good amount of your viewership...if only because those people are "boring."
I think what I like about Wheel of Fortune is what a lot of people like about Wheel of Fortune. I think they like feeling smarter that those goofs standing next to Pat at the wheel.
And here's the thing.
You guys have driven in a commute right?
You guys have shopped at the Wal-Mart.
You guys have stood behind somebody at a Fast Food restaurant, right? And had them order a sandwich for another restaurant?
Are most people all that smart?
Most people like to think they're smart, is my point. But as a guy who lost the remote control the other day, only to find that he'd been holding it in his right hand for the duration of the search, I can admit that most people including your old pal Tommy are not nearly as smart as they'd like to believe. You need a good level of dumb on the show, I think. If only to maintain viewership by propping up the collective self-esteem of our beleaguered nation.
(As an aside, I cannot tell you how absolutely exultant I felt to spell "beleaguered" right on the first try....)
Also, I'll admit that it's probably a plus to have bright shining personalities on the show as much as possible. A prancing, smiling personality, I am not. I have two emotions: angry and hungry, and one generally leads to the other. A glowering cuss like me probably would have most of America rooting against him--and while I could go off on a rant about how a Heel on America's favorite game show might do some good, kind of the Anti-Ken Jennings, I'll let that fish go and just say "I get it."
The last thing I need to say is that I'd say it's different on your couch, and up there on a soundstage with bright lights in your face. I get that, too. It's easy to laugh at the person who's under the pressure, who's got the bright lights and the audience staring, prepared to laugh when you guess "8" as a letter, with the empty, vacant eyes of Pat Sajak looking at you, feeling sufficiently superior to you himself.
Yeah. Easy to laugh at the folks under pressure.
And fun, I'd say, since the show's been on as long as I can remember....
I'll be the first to tell you, I usually have to let my opinion settle over a night's sleep before it reaches its final resting place. I can come out of a movie incredibly high on it...a sort of adrenaline rush making me ignore the bad of a flick, which I usually see upon further inspection. The converse is also true...I've come out of flicks hating what I just saw and myself for wasting the time with it, and after giving something some thought, do an about face.
But then, there are the things that just blow me away, and keep getting better.
Heath Ledger's Joker is one of them.
My goal is to one day be smart enough to enunciate exactly that it is that I dig...how exactly Heath Ledger managed to hit what I was looking for, when I wasn't exactly sure myself.
A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You can be a little bit unpredictable, but a pirate's life is far from full of certainties, so that fits in pretty well. Arr!
The blogger formerly known as the Uncouth Sloth dropped me a line yesterday, while I muddle through the stretch run of this here Christmas season. 13 hour workdays do not agree with me, and I'm just going to take a minute of your time to tell you to Chill the Fuck Out while you're out shopping. Getting angry at retail employees when you're mad at yourself for being a bad parent is bad karma. And it might get you removed from your neighborhood grocery.
SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Smokies, Double-A minor league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, proudly announce today Cubs Hall-of-Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg will be the Smokies’ manager for the 2009 season. Joining Sandberg on the 2009 staff will be pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn, hitting coach Tom Beyers and athletic trainer Nick Frangella.
Heh heh heh.
That gibbering, insane noise you hear coming from the direction of Athens, Tennessee is me.
I'm sure you knew that.
I have a feeling that Ryno's about to have a Big Stupid Best Friend. Forever.
I've never been a huge Spirit fan...I respect what Will Eisner did back in the day, but after reading a lot of the stuff he did, I've never felt like I needed to go back and re-read. I dunno. Some things work for me, some things don't.
So, I was ambivalent about The Spirit flick coming out this Christmas. Take it or leave it. I wasn't going to rush out to see it, and chances were, might not have seen it at all. I was leaning toward no, since I was a little dubious, as the Sin City/Animatic cinema style didn't really work with the character, in my eyes.
The XM/Sirius merger has recently begat a great casualty of XM's music stations, which despite being superior by and large, were considered redundant. First case? The progressive country/folk/southern rock station X Country was replaced by Sirius' Outlaw Country, which near as I can tell is little more than honky tonk...which has its place, but not once have I heard anything new on the station, something that I've thought to myself "I need to look them up again...."
Another casualty was XM's Christmas music station. Color me weird, I kinda dig the Christmas music, especially when it's got something fun, like John Denver and the muppets singing the 12 days of Christmas, or Bob & Doug McKenzie singing the twelve days of Christmas...or those angry people singing about their 12 Pains of Christmas...
Actually, it's about variety. The playlist, to a channel, is smaller and repetitive on the Sirius music stations. The same is true for the Christmas music. A lot of the Christmas music, for me, is about the novelty. Sirius' holiday music is much the same that my store plays on a dailry basis, and they rotate the same songs every couple of hours. Nobody's rocking out to Bob Seger singing Little Drummer Boy in the first place, but after 93 times of hearing the song over a 30 day period, it's grown quite a bit tedious, and if I never hear another drawn out guitar solo to a piece of holiday music, it'll be entirely too soon.
Anyway. I didn't really have a point here. This one's one of my favorites, and XM was pretty sure to play it from time to time....not really obscure, but not something good enough to make it to the Sirius side of the game, anyway...
Yeah, your old pal Big Stupid Tommy's found himself a little worried about the economy, like a number of folks. He's not going to stand up on a soap box too much, at 2:47 in the Ay Em...
I'm in a weird place with this auto maker's buyout. By and large, he's a laissez faire type of gentleman, who believes that if your company fails due to the condition of the market and your inability to cope...well, that's how the cookie crumbles.
Also, your old pal is anti-union.
Maybe I get that from my grandfather, who was mean as a snake, but smart enough to say he wasn't going to pay in a percentage chunk of his salary to get people to do for him what he could do as easily for himself by saving his money...his reasoning was that he'd seen bad times, where people worked for cents a day, who'd gotten mangled by machinery and had lives ruined...and once we were past that as a way of the working world, we weren't in a bad place at all.
According to Mom, he didn't last on a lot of jobs, either, due to his stance.
I should say that your old pal's view on unions is also biased by professional sports unions, which I daresay are obsolete, if ever they were useful. If you're making 7 figures, your old pal Tommy says you need to make-do...a million dollar salary pretty much gives you the means to walk away from any position in which you feel mistreated. And trust me...I'd play baseball or football (or pinochle or dominoes or competitive full-tackle leapfrog) for the mid 5-figures that I'm making now.
Which kinda leads me back to the whole Auto Bailout thing. Again, I'm not for it in and of itself.
Again. Let's step back. A google search brought up an impressive array of numbers...the average Auto Worker Salary, depending on whom you ask, is one that ranges from $44 to $81 an hour...I'm not sure where these numbers come from, and truth be told, it's going to take a little more research. But let me whip a little math based just on that lowest figure....
40 x 44= $1760 a week. 1760 x 52 = 91520 a year
Your old pal Tommy looks at that number and will tell you a.) he makes quite a bit less than that. Less than half, if you want to have God's honest truth. And b.) He's not rolling in the dough, but he's got a roof over his head, health insurance and (importantly) a little bit of savings and (importantlyer): pretty decent prospects that his job will continue into the future.
Barring, of course, some neglectful piece of Tommy Stupidity which might seem him fired...but at the end of the day, that one will be in my lap, and nobody else's.
I didn't mean to get up on a soapbox....but my point is this.
I don't agree with throwing huge sums of cash to the automakers (or the banks or anybody who's made business decisions that didn't turn out flowers and butterflies). But, with the huge stake the Auto Makers have in the economy, in terms of produced goods and the huge numbers of people they employ (and apparently throw large amounts of cash to), it might not have been a bad idea to try a little something.
Why? The automakers aren't beholden to us. I hate to say it. There's no loyalty there. And aside from building employee loyalty, there's no real reason to keep paying people $44 (or 73, or 81) dollars an hour, if you've got Jose down in Teguciculpa, Mexico who will do the same job for an eighth (or tenth or thirteenth or twentieth) of that salary.
Apparently Tommy's pissed at the world at the witching hour.
To the autoworkers? Way I see it? 91,000 a year > 0 a year.
I dunno how many people work in the auto industry, to get that average salary. But let's say A million. Just for conversation sake...
To the lawmakers? $91,000,000,000 in the economy, buying houses and cars and gasoline and Happy Meals and Schlitz Malt Liquor and Juggs Magazines?
That much better than having to throw those folks unemployment benefits out of the government pocket.
So. Your old pal Tommy's torn. See, I want all the people at Juggs Magazine to keep their jobs, but I don't want my tax dollars to go for all of Detroit to be able to afford their monthly copy. See what I'm saying?
Next time I'll return to fart jokes and whatnot. I figure I'll field 9 million (or, at least 1, judging from my plummeting reader count) comment telling me how stupid I am and how I might as well have assholes for eyes for my views on the world....
Took a little more thought than I'd have originally believed....my first list came out 33 long, and had a couple more names pop to mind. Pared down...here's my top 20...
Gracie....best timing maybe in all of comedy ever...
Kathy Bates in Misery...scariest performance of all time? Definitely one of them. I've always thought she was scary in Misery because none of us is terribly far from Annie Wilkes' frame of mind...
The very underrated Paget Brewster. Just a personal favorite...check out The Specials....It is a crime that Andy Richter Controls the Universe isn't out on DVD yet...
The first thing I remember seeing her in was a filmed version of Twelfth Night. I dunno...spooky...I'd like to see her wander down the comedic path, because I think she'd be a riot.
Wow....Julie Christie's just done so much great stuff, you don't even know where to start.
I have no real reasoning to back this statement up, but I look at Geena Davis and say to myself "old school..."
Another one who doesn't get enough appreciation for her comic work. Citizen Ruth is something to be as proud of as anything she's done, and she's done a helluva lot of good work.
You gotta love a woman who throws herself into a chicken impression with all her being.
She might be the best actress of her generation.
I don't believe there is anything Holly Hunter can't do. We once had a small debate about whether she or Jodie Foster was a better actress....my reasoning: Holly Hunter is tremendously funny. Jodie Foster? Maybe the one person besides DeNiro who shouldn't try anymore....
Speaking of funny....
Another very underrated actress....her comic timing is better than almost anybody working today. Flirting with Disaster is a beautiful piece....
Just great in just about everything she does...I feel like having Amy Madigan in your picture's probably a sign of a quality flick. I just watched Gone Baby Gone again...I really dig her in that. And you can't ever go wrong with Field of Dreams....
She's mesmerizing, to me. She's another that seems uncomfortable with comedy, although Maude Lebowski is probably my favorite character right after Walter, in Big Lebowski. She's scary good in Short Cuts...there's a fight she has, playing wife to Matthew Modine's hubby...it's like a car wreck...very raw...
Maybe the funniest woman working today? Maybe the best comedy instincts going....
When I pared down my list, I cut off a few SNL people, including Amy Poehler, Julia Louis Dreyfuss and Jane Curtin....there's a little more subtlety in the stuff Gilda Radner did. I have a feeling she could make you cry as easily as she could make you laugh....
Heh heh heh. I'm not smart enough with the words to be able to describe the way I feel here.
Speaking of Short Cuts...probably my second favorite fight of all time on a movie comes from Lily and Tom Waits as Earl Piggott....Another of the funniest ladies of all time.
Can't think of too much that she's done that I haven't dug....
While I'm happy the sumbitch isn't around the N.L. Central anymore (not that there was much of a chance of it anyway), I gotta say that I had to hop up and down to get my testicles to pop out of my torso when I saw what the Bastards up in the Bronx are reported to be paying Mr. Sabathia over the next several years....
Dang. I try not to dwell on athlete's salaries. It's not that I grudge them, necessarily. If somebody'd pay me nearly 23 mil a year, I'd do anything.
That's right. Anything.
My personal take? I'm paying that much money...somebody's gotta be playing 162 games a year. If you're pitching? That means on your day off, you're the batboy.
Paying that much for somebody who'll probably net you three to five more wins? Don't know if I can see that. Especially if that much money would get you two, three or four guys who would net you higher numbers? I dunno. But then, that's why I manage grocery stores and not baseball teams.
But, they're the Yankees. Gotta have something to hate them for.
edit: Yeah, I know he's an innings horse, and keeping the bullpen out of his games will keep them fresh for other games, thus helping the cause on days when he doesn't pitch...I just don't see one guy you're paying 23 mil a year as being worth it, when you could probably bring in three or four guys for that amount who will help you more, in the long run....
However, I do always enjoy that A.L. East dogfight, even if I don't really have a dog in that particular hunt...this is just more fuel for that fire, I reckon...
Not much to say, here at 2:55 in the Ay Em. Late night at work...trying to take advantage of a store without customers to get a couple things done. The effort was a marginal success, though somewhere around 1:40 or so, your old pal Tommy left sanity at the gate, and got the giggles over the word "fartknocker."
It's been a windy heckuva day around this neck of the woods. I didn't leave the confines of the compound until noon, or so. I'd listened all morning to the wind howling...I'd listened to my neighbor's lawn furniture blown down metal steps and out into the yard.
It's been cold the past few weeks. It was surprising, then, when I went outside, bundled up for a turbulent winter's day, that the temperature was hover somewhere in the mid-fifties, and maybe as high as sixty.
Still, windy. That brought rain in tonight. I drove home with the sky lighting up periodically. Listened to the local radio. Your old pal's got a bugaboo about tornadoes...as warm as it was today, if there's enough difference in temperature to create lightning and thunder in December, then there's a big enough temperature difference to create a twistah.
At least that's what the paranoid delusional who makes a decent number of my decisions says.....
I have no real story to tell along with that headline, except to say that I had to run out to my folks' house yesterday before work. I let their two dogs (Maximus and Sally) out to go pee. After several minutes, I turn to see if the dogs are ready to come back in, and I see them playing an odd kind of tug-o-war.
First, it's an odd behavior for the two of them. Maximus, maybe not. He's a pug and he's got seven times as much personality as I do. He's the kind of dog who's never met a stranger. He's got two gears...asleep, and Mach 8.
Sally? She's mix, but a sizable portion of that muttdom is black lab. She's about as laid back a dog as I've ever seen. Every three months, we have to drug test her, because we're pretty sure she's self-medicating. Yeah, you think it's a funny image to see a black lab toking up down behind the shed, but then she comes home and eats you out of every donut and beef jerky you have in the house. Suffice it to say, if she were any more laid back, she'd be stuffed with sawdust and her skin would be stretched over a wire frame.
Anyway. Generally Sally lets Max run all over him, and let's it slide. Takes it as a course of life. Sometimes I think I should model my life after Sally's. Until I remember that she desperately wants to eat bees. I don't get that. She knows it hurts, but still, she'll go chasing a bee around a yard trying to bite at it.
Now, it's not surprising to see Max dragging something around the yard. He just does whatever's next. If "next" happens to be replanting a hickory tree, piece by piece, 70 yards to the south...then that's what's he does. There's a philosophical tenet somewhere in there, too. Sometimes I think I'll model my life that way, until I remember that Maximus, too, like to try to bite at bees.
What is it with dogs and bees?
I digress. Generally, the two dogs rarely come into conflict.
Except for yesterday.
I look outside, and I see them playing their game of tug-o-war. Not typical behavior.
It looks like they are playing their game with a length of rope, maybe three feet long. Maybe a little shorter.
Their battle brings them closer to the door, and pretty much immediately I see what they've been fighting over.
My folks live a little ways out into the country. Not ridiculously far....close enough that you pretty much finish your Quarter Pounder Extra Value Meal and throw it out your car window at the road leading up to my folks' house as you pass by...and far enough out that you feel like it's sufficiently wild enough to throw unwanted puppies onto their driveway.
But anyway, there are deer that wander through, from time to time. So deer aren't uncommon. Just common enough to know that the eternal battle of deer & truck is littered with casualties on both sides.
Still...it's odd to see many dead ones. Between the hunters and scavengers, you don't find too many parts lying around, after a deer shuffles off the mortal coil...
For a moment, I found myself wondering at the circle of life. These two little critters, who've got as much personality as I do, found themselves in the cleanup phase of the circle of life.
Which kind of begs the question, where exactly did I fit, since I was the one who had to pry a deer leg from not one but two sets of jaws, to put in a dumpster somewhere.
I kinda figured Mom wouldn't like it too much coming home to a deer leg in the house. Especially since my stuffed up nose didn't detect it when one of the two shit near the kitchen one day last week.
Anyway. I figure that if there's a deer leg nearby, hoof and all, there's more parts of a deer to be dragged into the yard....
It's what they do. I suppose that's the last cool thing about dogs. Very accepting of their roles in this world....almost instinctively knowledgeable of it.
There are days I'm envious.
Except of that Bee-eating thing. That's just Madness in a Santa hat, right there.
Today is Pearl Harbor Day. And, in remembrance, I decided it would be the best day to engage in a series of sneak attacks upon the whole of my co-workers.
Don't know if you know this, but I'm a heavyset 6'4", but I'm as quiet as a soft wind wearing mittens, when it comes down to it. I am part ninja. On my Dad's mother's side of the family.
Like a fifteenth, or something. One-fifteenth ninja.
Ninjas don't study genetics. Or fractions.
Call it a Ninj-Benefit.
Yeah, scaring folks is a dick move.
Coulda been worse. I could have flung hot coffee in somebody's face, without warning. Or perhaps gone barreling into a person with a shopping cart. Or crashed my planes into the decks of their battleships.
I've never really been a news junkie, so it wasn't a major change in life when I stopped watching any of the channels regularly...gosh, I'd reckon it's probably been since the idiocy surround the 2000 Florida recount that I threw my hands up in disgust and walked away.
And while my irritation on the whole surrounds the axe everybody has to grind over one political bias or the other, my issue with CNN is slightly more focused...it's that it's made a nearly complete transition into the Celebrity News Network. It had been going on a while, but my first real notice was when I got the Urgent News Update e-mail that Tony Randall had died.
It's not on par with having Price is Right interrupted by a Special News Report, only to have that Special Report end up being George W stepping out into the Rose Garden, just wanting to say Hi....but it's close.
(I think that's a small commentary on this world we live in since 2001...but anytime that Special Report music starts up in the middle of network teevee, I tend to stop what I'm doing....hence my irritation when anything less than a dirty bomb going off in the middle of Manhattan is what they've interrupted my day of couch potatoism for...)
I dunno. The Science/Tech e-mails were about the only thing on CNN of any redeeming value. Aside from the fact that he shared a name with a Star Trek character, I always dug Miles O'Brien's passion...he always struck me as a dork, like me. I'm gonna miss it, but I figure Miles will show up somewhere soon.
Yeah...can't go to CNN.com without a story about Brad Pitt, so I'll just get my news from other sources. I was about to mention that CNN's Hurricane coverage is about as entertaining as anybody's...but this year we had Geraldo Rivera losing his mind in Louisiana this past fall, so I'm thinking Fox took that particular cake.
Well, I fell asleep rather early last night, and as a result, I woke up quite a bit early last night. Four-ish, let's say. I wake up disproving the old saying, as I find myself none the healthier, wealthier or wiser.
I got up. I wrote a little, for the first time in what seems like months. I don't know if it's a New Year's Resolution or not. Gotta get my big ass in gear with that. Wandering around deep in the throes of self-delusion isn't nearly as fun as it sounds, 18 years after the fact.
Then, the sleepies started setting in. And I found that I was out of coffee.
Ran out and got a pack of Dunkin' Donuts, which has been selling like hotcakes at my store, lately. Actually, given the sales of both microwave and mix pancakes, I'd pretty conclusively be able to say that it's been selling better than hotcakes.
Made myself a cup, and now I settle in for the morning with last night's Simpsons on the TiVo....
A couple of thoughts, as we start wandering toward the week.
I'd commented earlier on the trampling death of a Wal (hyphen) Mart greeter on Black Friday, and I'm still pretty ill about the whole thing. I read somebody's comments over the weekend, but I can't remember who wrote them. I apologize for co-opting the thought, but I gotta wonder how those people who were battering the gates of that store, who were among the first few in the throng who trampled the man. Do you feel guilt? Scared? Or is there some deep denial going on right now?
I keep thinking of a time several months back, when I forgot to enter a vacation for one of the guys who works for me. As a result, he'd have to wait until the next paycheck to get his vacation pay....
I was friggin hangdog guilty for a couple of days after that, even losing a little sleep. I went in to work the next time I saw him ready to loan him the money out of my pocket, if that's what it took to make things right.
My point is, I've got a guilty conscience, pretty much for things even that I might have thought about doing.
My other point is that we all fuck up, and make mistakes.
Who's to say I won't one day trample a man to death?
Gunny Walker perhaps?
Anyway...my real point is...how do you deal with that? Knowing that you were part of a ridiculous, laughable, ignorant act that cost a man his life.
Are you guilty?
Do you lose sleep?
Or do you shrug it off? Do you convince yourself "wasn't me?"
Curious, is all.
Ah well. Going for another cup of coffee. Good coffee. Great price. Didn't trample anyone for it.