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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dear Google News

Just to let you know: there's a difference between news and editorials. If I go to your site to browse headlines, then I expect to find news articles. If I wanted badly written op-ed pieces, I'd just read my own blog.

TTFN
-Tony

Dreams of Skiing in the Summer?

I just woke from a dream where the land behind my parents' house was solid ice and snow. It was the middle of the night in the dead of winter. My father wanted me to race down- which I did, no problem- even though I never skied in my life. No one else was there. I trudged back up the hill by walking up Lyons Rd., in the snowy gutter, with cars whizzing by me, my skis over my shoulder.

When I got to the top of the hill, it had a locked gate. I explained I was here to race. My skis were now gone, and so was my digital camera, (I had no reason why, but it was important at the time.) I resignedly took the camera for a loss and asked if I could borrow skis. The dream quickly degenerated into a typical "school with no homework" dream; I couldn't find the skis I borrowed, and when I thought I did, they wouldn't lace up correctly. Weirder still, Elena and an old friend Steve, (whom I haven't seen in about seventeen years,) were trying to help me.

As I've never skied in my life, haven't watched Better off Dead or any other 80s ski movie in years, and it's almost June, I have NO idea where this one came from. The only constant is that it took place at my parents' house, along with about 90% of my dreams. Maybe I'm haunting the place...

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"But you kept it going, till the sun fell down/ You kept it... going..."

Illustration Friday: Cars


When I was young, and my heart was an open book, my friends and I used to draw tank-cars. This one looks like it would be fun to drive.

Joe & I saw Shrek the Third yesterday. It wasn't as good as 1 & 2, but it wasn't nearly as bad as reviewers were making it out to be. The only part that really had me screwing up my eyes and saying "whaaafuk?" was the funeral scene, with the frogs lip-syncing "Live & Let Die." A private note to Eric Idle: It's considered a homage if it's only relevant knowing what the source material is. I've always worshiped you & your fellow Pythons, (to put it mildly,) but there's no way three seconds of coconut-clapping could be considered a rip-off rather than an homage. Just take the nod as the sign of respect it was meant to be, smile, & say, "Thank you." If the filmmakers didn't tell you or John Cleese before the premiere, I'm sure it's because they thought you'd be pleasantly surprised, not choked up with rage.

I've been in a bit of a fog the last few weeks (months, years...) I've got to find some way of shocking myself out of it. Any suggestions?

TTFN
-Tony

Nostalgia Just Isn't What it Used to Be...


Sketches of the 7th, 8th, 1st, 4th(?) and 5th(?) Doctors, from "Human Nature."

On Saturday's Doctor Who episode: I was so excited when I saw the coming attractions for "Human Nature," because the stories in this year's Doctor Who episodes seem to be a bit lacking. "Oooh," I said to Jen," Something original, finally.

As I watched the new episode, a sinking feeling began to form in my stomach. This all seemed very familiar. Then I realized- I'd seen it before, or at least, read it before. The title should have tipped me off. Yes, for the third time, the series has re-made a previous Doctor Who adventure. ("Dalek" and "Rise of the Cybermen" were each remakes of Doctor Who Audio Adventures.) This time, they've remade Human Nature, a 7th Doctor book. (Which for years was a free e-book you could read at BBC.com, but for some (cough) strange reason is now unavailable...) It's a good story, I'm glad they did something else besides the "Doctor lands on Earth in the past and something supernatural is going on which turns out to be an alien" format story that was already old in the Tom Baker era, and I'm glad that they've finally allowed a tip of the hat to the original series (the sketches above.) Of course, to adapt it for the new series, they had to make it more like a soap opera, but that's a kvetching for another day... but why can't they think of anything original?

"Who cares, you geek," I hear you cry. It just sort of annoys me when they do this, because then it casts doubts on the cannonicity of the books and audio-adventures- which, sadly, are much better written than the new episodes (as good as some of them are.) Here's a suggestion- instead of hiring the writers to re-write their work, why not hire them to write, well... new GOOD stories for the new series? Even better- just go back and show how the 8th Doctor regenerated already, will you?


TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Caveat Emptor, aka, Read the Reviews!

I've been collecting the SNL DVDs of 20-30 years ago, when the show was actually funny. So far, I have the greats- Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, & Steve Martin. Today I purchased Eddie Murphy, because a friend once borrowed my copy of the hysterical VHS version that was released in the early 90s & moved without giving it back.

As you can guess from the title, I should have read the reviews first, because apparently EVERYTHING CONTROVERSIAL THAT WAS ON THE VHS HAS BEEN OMITTED FROM THE DVD. Most of the Mr. Robinson sketches- gone. The news segment where Eddie announces that the Emancipation Proclamation has been repealed ("By all means, take him home, enjoy your Negro!")- gone. The "Cotton-Land" commercial with Eddie & Stevie Wonder- gone. The Galactic Prophylactic commercial- gone. Eddie telling white teenage viewers that since they have no hope of ever being as famous as he is, they should "drop out of school, get each other pregnant, & play Space Invaders," -gone. Most of the Velvet Jones commercials- gone. And worst of all, the Rastafarian singing "Kill the White People" at the VFW talent show- gone. Instead, the DVD has been filled with mediocre but safe sketches where even no one in the audience is laughing.

I don't get it. DVDs are supposed to contain more material- not less. The only exception I can think of is the Director's Cut of Star Trek the Motion Picture DVD which- with about 20 minutes of extremely boring crap cut out- is vastly improved. (There are reasons it's often referred to as Star Trek the Slow-Motion Picture, or my personal favorite, Star Trek the Motionless Picture, but I digress.) Of course, after watching my truncated DVD, I checked out Amazon. For some reason, even though almost all of the 40 reviews only give the DVD one star for its sanitation, it has an average rating of 3 & 1/2 stars. Can't figure that one out. Yes, I can.

So, Mr. Murphy, if you're out there- what gives? Is it that you're trying to cover your tracks in hope that the Shrek generation doesn't know that you used to be one of the funniest-although controversial- comedians alive? Or are you planned to release a special edition DVD so those who paid for the original can spend extra money for what they were expecting in the first place? I went back on Amazon & found a copy of the VHS for $2.99 + shipping. A small but vital blow against the PC worms that are infesting the world.

TTFN
-Tony

Hairy Dreams

For two nights in a row, I've dreamed that my beard was absent-mindedly shaved half off while trimming it, (first by myself with my Gillette Ultrasonic, then last night by a friend with a pearl handled straight razor) and I had no choice but to shave it all the way off. This is sort of weirding me. Obviously, some sort of upcoming, unwanted commitment is implied, one created out of the necessity of my carelessness. Besides, I like my beard.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Woah-oh, We're Halfway there/ Woah-oh, Living on a Prayer...

Even before I read Scott Adams' thought experiment God’s Debris, (free e-book!) I’ve always wondered if we are all parts of God. It seems to me that we are always doing His will; we are the ones who answer prayers for Him. (Baring prayers for acts of nature, such as the end to a drought.) Doctors do God’s will in healing, but we also answer His prayers in many other ways- ways we may not think of as kind and loving; i.e., a soldier on the battlefield's prayers for survival are often answered by the death of the enemy. It's not always that drastic. People’s prayers for employment are answered when someone else hires them. Sometimes, hardest of all, we have to answer our own prayers.

Sadly, this view limits Gods abilities- though possibly by His choice- to that of human knowledge. Although I’m not an atheist, I have to admit they have a point when they ask that if God is all powerful, why doesn’t he ever cure amputees? Let’s take it one step further. If there is- in an infinite universe- other planets with life, and such life possibly has a more advanced science than that of life on Earth, does He then choose to limit His prayer-answering abilities to Earth's available science, or is God a localized phenomenon? You don’t even have to leave Earth to wonder this- a doctor of modern medicine can cure appendicitis, while the witchdoctor of a primitive tribe cannot. Does this mean God cares more about answering the prayers of those in modern societies more than he does those who pray in the third world, or, as mentioned before, that his prayer-answering abilities are limited to local science? And if so, is it not then in God's best interest for us to further science as much as possible?

Thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A special note to the person who found my blog by searching for how to model an infinity sign in 3ds Max

Just make a text spline of the number 8 in the font of your choice. Extrude it, rotate it on it's side, and squish it a bit along the long axis. Voila!

TTFN
-Tony

You Know You're Living in the Nanny State When...

Although Joe can muddle through books on his own, (and has to read a short book almost every day for school,) he still likes to be read to once in a while. So, I've been reading him four chapters a night from what was my favorite book when I was his age, the greatest young adult novel of all time, Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Daniel Pinkwater. The story centers on a junior high student named Leonard Neeble, who at one point is sent to a child psychologist. Just to cheese his doctor off, Leonard picks up a cigar on the way to the office and smokes it there. Not only does the doctor allow it, but convinces his parents that they should let their son do it at home too. When Leonard's mother protests that it will stunt his growth, the doctor answers, "Would you rather have him short or crazy?" Great stuff.

"What's a cigar?" Joe asked.

"It's like a giant cigarette that tastes good but smells bad," I answered.

Joe's eyes went wide. "The doctor told his parents he could SMOKE?" he asked incredulously. "The parents LET him smoke?"

I blinked for a moment, and explained that while we were always told smoking was bad for you, (I drove my grandfather up the wall by constantly bugging him to quit when I was in elementary school,) back in the 70's it was pretty much no big deal. I even remember that my parents had giant green and blue solid glass ashtrays for when company came over. Nowadays, if you smoke, you're a worse human being than someone who shoots puppies in the middle of the street. If some nutjobs get their way, a movie of this book would have an R rating because the nerds were smoking in it- without consequence, no less.

"Nanny State" is a term that has been thrown around blogs and radio shows, but to me, it's becoming more and more self evident. As I've said before, I live in a city where two chubbies are actually suing McDonalds because they supposedly did not know that eating there every day wasn't good for them. The point hit home to me as I rode up the escalator coming out of the E-train at 53/Lex. There are loudspeakers all the way up that keep relating this wonderful mantra:

"Always face forward when riding the escalator."
"Always hold the hand rail when riding the escalator."
"Never walk backwards on the escalator."
"Be sure to secure your belongings when riding the escalator."
"Do not stare at the ass of the hot chick in front of you when riding the escalator."

Think about it. Our government actually feels they need to tell people how to ride an escalator. Maybe it's just the rampant terror of lawsuits, (which is the subject for another post,) but I think this is a sign the world has reached a new level of madness. Then again, I live in a city with a mayor (Bloomberg) who says that there's no proof the air at ground zero was toxic and is the reason rescue workers are dying from respiratory problems, but if someone smokes a cigarette outdoors it will kill every man woman and child in a five-block radius- so who am I to judge?

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, May 18, 2007

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Illustration Friday: Sign

"Look, Muad'Dib- worm sign!"
(If you don't get it, ask your parents to explain.)

King Otto: All right! Tell the leader that we are ready to die for him the moment he gives the sign!
Brian: What sign?
King Otto: The sign that IS The Sign! THAT shall be The Sign!
(Deleted Scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian)


Jen, Joe & I watched one of the greatest science fiction epics of all time tonight, Star Trek II, The Wrath of Kahn. (Mandy wasn't interested.) All was well until Spock died- then suddenly poor (nine year-old) Joe began wailing uncontrollably and wouldn't stop. I asked him why it upset him so much, since he'd seen people die aplenty in movies before. "I know," he sobbed, "but Spock was so GOOD, and died for his friends!" I tried my hardest just to listen to him and understand what was upsetting him, rather than just give him the usual bullshit of advice parents come up with. Eventually Jen & I calmed him down. I promised him we'd watch The Search for Spock tomorrow. I always thought it was a big cop-out when they decided to bring him back to life- (and apparently so did Director Nick Myer to the point he almost took his name off the movie,) but now I thank God they did! Poor kid- traumatized by Star Trek. The Legacy of the Geeks passes from generation to generation...

TTFN
-Tony

Yes, It IS Another Amnesty, Jackass...

Dear Brainless Bowels of Septum who run this country.

The entire reason we have such a major problem with ILLEGAL (pay attention to that word, please) immigration today, is because twenty years ago, Ronald Regan gave an amnesty (that, Senator Arlen Specter, is EXACTLY what this is,) and let all the illegal immigrants stay. Since then, they've been flooding this country- now numbering about TWELVE MILLION- holding on in hopes of another amnesty- Which, if you haven't been reading the news, is exactly what President Bush & co. are proposing.

Every single poll says the majority of the American public is dead set against this. Every poll says the majority wants ILLEGAL immigration clamped down on. (The reason I keep putting the word "illegal" in capital letters is because the media keeps taking the word away, trying to make it sound like those who oppose this measure are merely isolationists or racists or whatever. These immigrants are here illegally; they're not "undocumented workers" or some other politically correct bullshit name.) Our cities have become vastly overcrowded- many illegal immigrants live packed into illegal apartments crowded in basements, and they put a terrible drain on our school and social services. There are millions of homeless people in our cities. America's infrastructure is collapsing. Instead of making it possible for the millions who are here illegally to stay, why not do what most Americans want and deport them? Because it's politically incorrect? Sorry, but these people knew full well that they were breaking the law when they came over here. How about the millions who have worked hard to come into this country legally? HOW ABOUT THE FACT THAT IN THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS WE'LL BE ONCE AGAIN SWAMPED WITH MILLIONS MORE, BECAUSE THEY'LL KNOW THAT IDIOTS IN OUR GOVERNMENT WILL JUST DECLARE ANOTHER AMNESTY?

I don't have anything against illegal immigrants personally. I can't blame them from wanting to come from a poor country where they have nothing to America where they have opportunities. I understand that they've created lives here- but they did so knowing that what they were doing was illegal. The truth is that the country is becoming more and more overcrowded, Medicare and Social Security are already collapsing, our cities' public schools are in deplorable shape due to lack of funds, our infrastructure is held together with spit and wire, we're paying more and more taxes to social systems that the majority of taxpayers never need, and this bullshit just has to stop.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Abort! Abort! Dive! Dive!

Watching presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani flounder around like a fart in a Taco Bell about the abortion issue, it occurred to me how ridiculous this has all become. While he was pro-choice during his term as mayor of NYC, he now has to pretend that he's anti-abortion to get the backing of the Republican party's religious center, while at the same time saying he's still pro-choice to get swing voters. Me, being the brilliant yet modest person that I am, have come up with a solution:

America isn't one country- it's fifty small countries. Despite my thoughts on the subject, I can't see how one person (or, as is feared, a small body of judges) could decide a national law for such a diverse country. So why not have a) Each state draft up its own abortion laws, and b) the women of each state vote on them. This way the people will decide, each state will have its own laws, (the religious states of the south don't want the people of NYC and LA choosing their laws for them, and vice versa,) and while not everyone will be happy, we can stop focusing every presidential election on this one issue that (in my humble opinion) has become just a giant diversion.

(Note: Before you suggest I'm pandering to feminists by just having women vote on the issue, keep in mind that the vast majority of people I know who ever actually take a concrete stand against abortion are women (excluding priests, of course.) Guys will hem and haw like Giuliani about how personally they would never want a woman they impregnated to do it but it's not for them to decide- because they know that if they ever DID take a strong stance against abortion, they're chances of getting laid are nil -1. (Just keeping it real people.)

Any thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Spiderman, Spiderman, Does Whatever a Spider Can...

I took Joe to see Spiderman 3 today. On the whole, I enjoyed it. While the multi-villain approach made the 80s Batman movies extremely topheavy, this film carried it off exceptionally well. Every character and subplot supported the main theme & plot. I also enjoyed the fact that while there was some drama, it wasn't swimming in overblown pathos the way Spiderman 2 was- (forgive me, but this is a big problem I have with the Harry Potter books as well. Sigh- life is just SO unfair for our poor little Harry...) In fact, I would say that this is the best of the three if not for the fact that the first Spiderman film had a great wet-t-shirt shot. Sigh. Maybe on the special edition DVD...

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Calling All Catholics, Calling All Catholics...

OK, I'm an extremely lapsed Catholic turned Pastafarian who sends his son to CCD because... well, if I suffered, he should suffer too. The other day I received this in the mail concerning next year's classes:


Now personally, when people try to push me into a corner, either using guilt or threats to get me to do what they want- it's like waving a red cape in front of a bull, (yes, I know they're color-blind.) There are some places where grass won't grow anymore because of my reaction to someone pulling this sort of thing.

So I'm asking any Catholics out there, what do you think of this? Do you think the church is right- if their rules state you go to church every Sunday than do so, or do you think (as I do) that this is merely a control issue: Do what we say, or we'll kick your kid out of CCD. -Which makes no sense to me at all, because if the Catholic Church IS the truth, then aren't they just harming the children's immortal souls (from their point of view) by not allowing them to attend under any circumstances?

I promise never to give anybody crap for disagreeing with me, but if you want to tell me off & feel better doing it anonymously, feel free. I'm just curious if I'm the only Catholic out there who thinks this is ridiculous.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, May 05, 2007

On Becoming a Vampire & a Cannibal


Joe & the LaRocca clan, after receiving his First Holy Communion.

A reading from the Forgotten Gospel of Edgar the Absent-minded:)
Jesus looked at the twelve across his table, and saw they were all sitting where they were supposed to, for yea, they each had place-mats with their names upon them. He took the bread, broke it, and said, "This is my body, When you eat this, remember me." Then he passed around the cup, and said, "This is my blood. When you drink this, remember me.

"You may think this is but symbolism, but I tell you- it is not. In a few hundred years, a church will be founded in Rome, and the priests of this church alone will be able to actually turn papyrus-like wafers and fermented juice of the grape into my body and blood. It shall be called transubstantiation. And my followers shall actually be eating and drinking of me."

And the apostles looked around at each other, and Thomas the doubter, spoke, and said, "Thou art truly creeping me right out, oh Lord."

Here endeth the lesson.


(Look, Boss, de plane- de plane!)

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, May 04, 2007

Help, I'm a Primate Trapped in an Insect's Body

Illustration Friday: Neighbor

Note 1: The following is a thought experiment, and not an attempt to excuse or condemn certain behaviors or life-styles. Please consider this before you flame.

Note 2: Though the basis for most of these ideas can be found in Robert Anton Wilson's novel,
Schrodinger's Cat Trilogy, most of the conclusions are my own.

As I crammed my body onto the packed E-Train with the rest of the herd, it hit me: We're all primates who are turning into insects. The advancement of technologies have allowed us to build cities of hives, burrow through tunnels, (even roads, though on the surface, are still basically tunnels, as you cannot divert from them,) and- for the most part- live solely for the betterment of the colony (more on that later.) Even the suburbs are built just to support or provide dormitories for those who work in the nearest hive.

This explains most of what is considered unacceptable behavior. We are primates who are trying to adjust to living as bugs- something we weren't made to do. Natural primate behavior- especially male aggressiveness- is frowned upon more and more, except on the sports field. Laws are passed (by both liberals and conservatives) that restrict freedom of thought and word, trying to conform the world to behavior that is acceptable for a hive, where everyone must get along. This causes a lot of emotional distress, as people often are afraid or embarrassed to express their anger, or any thoughts that do not conform to the hive mentality. (i.e.: I'm sure the majority of people didn't see the big deal over the whole Don Imus broo-ha-ha, but would never admit it for fear of being branded insensitive or a racist. Another example is how everyone tries so desperately to find a "safe" stance on abortion- one that won't offend their friends who may think differently.)

As a consequence, the majority of us lead lives that serve no other purpose than to further the hive. (We work to live or buy whatever leisure products the television insists we need. We spend all of our leisure time in front of said television or surfing the net.) How does this help the hive? The queen (government) gets a piece of every paycheck & purchases in the form of taxes. However, those in government tend to spend most of the tribute on themselves, being primates who are freed by privilege from the constraints of the hive mentality.

Another technological step toward insect-hood is the explosion in communications. We all walk around with antennas in our pockets. When we go home, we hook up to a computer system that connects the minds of everyone in the hive. We all read the same books, and watch the same movies and television shows, (I'm sorry, I consider American Idol a blight upon the land,) to share the same experiences.

The result is that we are miserable, confused, living in over-populated hives in a way we were never meant to do. But nature is adapting. Perhaps homosexuality and our growing acceptance of it is merely an evolutionary response to over-population. Nature, realizing we have a sex drive but we are also over-populated, turns some people's desires to a direction that does not encourage procreation. (I know, there were always homosexuals and that some wish to adopt or be fertilized, but I'm talking about the majority.) More and more of us are becoming content to stay inside and hook ourselves up to the hive mind. I'm not saying these turns of events are good or bad- that's for you to decide. But, to paraphrase Robert Wilson, the next time you read the news and wonder, "how can people DO that?" or feel terrified that if anyone knew what you were REALLY thinking they'd think you were a "no-good-shit," just remember- we're all just primates trying to live in an insect's world.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Re-mem-mem, Re-mem-buh-mem-ber

Illustration Friday: Remember


Things that are annoying the living crap out of me this week:
1) Snotty Mac commercials. Yes, Vista's over-the-top User's Account Controls is annoying. Yes, you can easily turn it off. Go back to your coffee houses & think of all the cool software you could use if you had a real O.S.
2) Windows Vista. Yes, I turned off User's Account Controls. Yes, I want to keep the damn thing off, so it will stop interrupting whatever I'm doing & asking if I REALLY meant to do that every time I break wind.
3) Anyone who spouts the unbelievable pigshit that there are any jobs in America that Americans don't want. No, Mr. President, there actually are thousands of citizens & legal immigrants across America who mow lawns, clean houses, etc. They just have this silly notion that they should be paid fair wages for it. Stop pretending that you care about anything on this issue except having a cheap work force for your buddies.
4) The Sopranos. What, it wasn't enough that you wasted the entire last season on Vito & Johnnycakes, now you have to waste a whole new episode on his shower-pooping kid? Does this have ANYTHING to do with the series story arc? Um... you do know that this is the final season, don't you?
5) Saul of the Mole Men. Let me get this straight: You didn't have a new episode last week, and this week's episode was just a stinking clip-show? A pox on both your houses!
6) Adult Swim Fix. When TV networks are asked why the commercials are always 200 db louder than the shows, they always fall back on the bullshit answer that commercials are broadcast locally, so they have no control over it. However, on a web broadcast, there's no farging excuse. I make it a point to mute my speakers & turn off the monitor when you interrupt your online broadcasts every five minutes anyway, but it's the principle of the thing.

and most important of all:
7) People who have no life or friends in real life, so they have to harass others on their blogs. Yes, you- you know who you are. Stop whining like a baby about "freedom of speech on the internet" because people are telling you to leave a kind & loving person whose blog does nothing but help others alone. She absolutely deserves every award, praise, & recognition that she's received for her hard work, and nobody cares how jealous you are. Get your hand out of your pants, get out of your mother's basement, & try very hard to NOT be an asshole. It's not that hard, really, just try a few minutes at a time & go from there. We're all rooting for you. Go. Now.

TTFN
-Tony

PS- I forgot
8) Artists in the I-Tunes store that let you buy any track of theirs as an mp3 EXCEPT THE ONE SONG YOU WANT without buying the whole album. Wasn't that the whole point of I-Tunes- that you could buy ANY song for $.99 without having to buy the filler? And the entertainment industry wonders why the public has no sympathy when people download just what they want illegally...