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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Aimless Blogging Alert

Well, it's another insomnic night. Is that a word? I'm glad times like this that I'm still unemployed. Not really glad, I guess. I don't know. I called the union the other day to see what was taking so long, and after I gave the lady in the employment office my personal info she said, "Eeeewwwmmm- call us back in two weeks." She hung up before I could ask just what "Eeeewwwmmm" meant.

I watched David Lynch's Eraserhead tonight. This was the first time I'd seen it in twelve years - also the first time I'd seen it sober. I tried screening it for Jen, but she fell asleep about ten minutes into it - which is probably a good thing, as she has a low threshold for disturbing things, especially when they're about babies. The difference, being older and wiser, is that I'm a father now. I've done those 2am feedings when I'm on my last nerve and the baby won't drink and won't stop screaming and I have to go to work in a few hours so I better put the baby down NOW and walk around the room a few times and just let him/her scream. This puts a whole new level of understanding on the film. Also, I've had my share of nightmares where I'm filled with dread because I've done something horribly wrong that can never be fixed. This is probably a very common dream, which is why the film's ending strikes a chord with so many people.

I'll give you an example. When I was a kid, I had a chemistry set. It was hammered into my head that since my sister Mary was a toddler, my parents had to keep the set out of reach. I ran out of a certain chemical, and a friend who lived around the corner who had the same set (Doug) gave me an extra bottle. I went home, put it in my drawer and forgot about it. A few nights later I had a nightmare that baby Mary had gotten into my drawer, drank the bottle, and was sure to die. When I woke up, I threw the bottle out and told my parents I didn't want to play with the set anymore. I was big on guilt, being a Catholic boy. The childhood nightmare that I'm proudest of is the one when a bunch of giant bees were going to execute my father for stealing a can of BumbleBee Tuna for me. I begged them to let him go, but they refused.

It's a wonder I made it out of childhood without being put in a canvas sweater that strapped up the back.

Lately I've been having a slew of wonderfully bizarre dreams, only to be woken by the goddamn alarm clock (the kids do have to go to school, even if I am currently unemployed.) One of them - to my anger- was a lucid dream. I was walking down the street, shouting at the sky, hoping the message would get to my subconscious. Another dream had me turning into a vampire. A woman was trying to give me instructions on how to ease the transition, when I was jarred awake. This morning I was having a great one: I had a fiery scythe that I was using to bring death to giant cybernetic spiders that had taken over the charred remains of an office building - when the alarm woke me. Damn it all to hell.

There's a new Submachine game out, and it's quite a doozy. I love Adventure games, especially when they're free! I've been having fun with the new Sam & Max games, but despite their hysterical storylines and imagination, they're a little too easy for me. Besides, I have to wait a few more weeks for part three to come out. So I'm going to play a little more of Submachine 5, then off to bed.

Take care, my friends
-Tony

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

"Mega ULTRA Chicken? No no - shh- he is LEGEND!"

Illustration Friday: Tales & Legends

Please click on the above image to see it in full, glorious detail.

Kudos to whoever can tell me what this post's title is quoting from.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, January 28, 2008

Death Proof: a DVD Review

It's time once again for Tony's Movie Reviews. Today, we look at Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof, which was released in theaters as part of Grindhouse. The idea is that a psychotic stunt driver uses his "deathproof" stunt car to slaughter young women.

Part I:
Some scantily clad chicks sit around and talk for an hour about absolutely nothing. Seriously. Nothing. Imagine some hens clucking, frogs croaking, or crickets rubbing their legs together for about an hour. Now somehow, imagine something about half as interesting. This sums up the dialogue in this film. It does not further the non-existent plot or reveal exposition, nor does it reveal character. It's just God-awful quacking.

End of Part I:
Thirty seconds of really gushy murder by car, and the one decent line in the entire movie: "Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn't a lie. This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you REALLY need to be sitting in my seat."

Part II:
Some other chicks repeat the mind-numbing formula described in Part I, except this time, it's revealed that for some reason, one of them has a gun. (If you don't know what "foreshadowing" means, look it up.)

End of Part II:
About five minutes of predictable and unbelievable car chases, shooting, stomping, and Grrrl Power.

To sum up:
This movie has one good thing going for it: an awesome soundtrack. Otherwise, avoid this one at all cost. It would be kinder to rub your eyes with Clorox rather than submit them to this.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I Am a Total Fanboy Geek

Jen & I saw Emo Philips perform last night at Comix in Manhattan (There’s still tonight’s shows, plus next weekend if you comicly minded!) On his website, he says that you should go backstage and see him afterwards. So, after the show ended, I thought, What the hell, and asked the security guard at the stage door if that was true or not. She said she didn’t know. Did I know him? No, I said, but I’d really like to talk to him if I could. She went backstage, and a few minutes later, he came out! I asked him if he’d mind taking a picture. He said not at all, but did my cell phone have a flash? Since the answer was no, he pulled me up on stage so Jen could get us in the light:

As you can see, it was a little too bright for my crappy cell phone. Of course, by this time, the ushers had formed the gathering crowd into a line, so after a quick hello and a handshake, we left. All I can say is thanks to Mr. Philips for making it a fantastic night – and you never know what can happen unless you ask.

TTFN
-Tony

PS. If you are some kind of infidel and have no idea who Emo Philips is, I suggest you check out some hysterical clips here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Life or Death

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, a poor girl committed suicide recently because she was bullied on Myspace. Now the reactionary media are having their typical field day: Myspace will kill your kids; the internet will kill you kids; be afraid, be very afraid. Sadly, the truth is lost in here somewhere, as well meaning but clueless parents everywhere now think that the way to protect their kids is to keep them off of Myspace.

This happens every few years. When I was young, some kids killed themselves over a Dungeons & Dragons game - so my parents told me I couldn't play D&D. (That didn't last very long.) Then when the 80s rolled around, Heavy Metal was the cause of suicides, and was something to be watched. (The music, not the fantasy comic magazine or movie.) The 90's brought us the Columbine shootings, and suddenly the "something to blame" was first-person-shooters. Now the culprit is Myspace.

Parents: while it may be a trigger - a game, a website, or a song is not going to make your kid kill him or herself. If someone commits suicide, it's because they're hurting to the point that they just want it to end. When people feel a strong emotion, they often can't remember ever feeling any other way. For this reason, people commit suicide.

There is one thing the Columbine shooters and the victim Myspace tragedy have in common: bullying. For some kids, school becomes a terrible place, where they're often ground into the dirt by shits who just won't let up on them. This is because humans are basically primates. Some are wired to constantly try to climb to the top of the ladder on others' backs, (I'm not excusing such behavior, I'm explaining it.) This makes life a living hell for those who aren't wired to be competitive alphas. Sometimes, the kids' homes are hell for them as well. I think suicide happens when there's nowhere to go to get away from the pain.

So what's the answer? I have no idea. Every person is different. Listen to your kids, pay attention to them, but at the same time, respect their privacy. Remember that if you're looking hard to find a problem, you're going to see evidence of that problem no matter what. Sometimes, all you can do is love.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Stitches

Illustration Friday: Stitch


This is based on a dream I had the other night. Sadly, this is the only part I remember.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Shh... It's a Secret!"

When I heard about The Secret, my first thought was of the routine Victoria Jackson would do on SNL back in the '80s. She would dress up in Victoria's Secret lingerie, vamp at the camera, and purr an anectode about being a bimbo, always ending with "Shh- it's a secret!" Sadly, the self-help/new age juggernaut known as The Secret isn't anywhere near as fun.

Obviously, the filmmakers used What the Bleep Do We Know? as a model. In short- there actually is a good message buried in there. Sadly, it's smothered by a) quotes from people whose only qualifications are that they believe in what the film is saying, b) quotes taken out of context from various religious texts, and c) a lot of quick and easy gobbledygook about quantum physics. The reason for the quantum physics is to convince people that there is a scientific validity to the core concept. As most scientists with PhDs have problems wrapping their brains around quantum physics, it is correctly assumed that most viewers will just accept that it "proves" what the filmmakers are trying to say. This is the bit that really pisses me off.

So what's the whole message? Think positive, and be thankful. That's it. Well, not exactly. The Secret (A phrase that they keep repeating over and over again) is based on The Law of Attraction: if you truly feel and believe in good things, then good things will be attracted to you. But you have to believe it with all your heart and soul. Is it not working? Then you just don't believe enough. Shame on you. Now at first, this all sounds like crap, but I don't think it is entirely. Having a positive outlook and being thankful is a wonderful reality tunnel to get into. It's a hell of a lot better than swirling down in self-hatred and depression. But forcing yourself to repress naughty thoughts until you get stomach cancer can't be any good either.

Let's go back to What the Bleep Do We Know? The nugget I found in that movie is that everything in our brains is electro-chemical, including emotions, and the brain easily becomes addicted to chemicals. So if your brain becomes addicted to you feeling like shit, then your subconscious will cause situations that make you feel like shit to happen. If your brain becomes addicted to feeling good and thankful, then your subconscious will create good things for you to be thankful about to happen. There is also the question of perspective. If your reality tunnel is centered on the world being a horrible and miserable place, then no matter what happens to you, it will be. If your tunnel is that the world is a joyous and beautiful place, then no matter what happens to you, it will be.

So what's the answer? I try to follow the Zen practice of living in the moment, focusing on what I'm doing, and enjoying it as much as possible. This isn't always easy, especially if you have a runaway imagination (and mouth) like mine. Be aware of your emotions. Don't judge them as "good" or "bad," but step back and observe them. If you want, choose to be thankful, and choose to be be positive.

If I had to recommend two psychology books, I would suggest Robert Anton Wilson's Quantum Psychology (there's that quantum thing again) and Prometheus Rising. They're not road maps to feeling any particular way, but they are quite enlightening. If you'd rather read about these ideas in a fictional setting, then I'd suggest his science fiction classic The Illuminatus Trilogy (co-authored with Robert Shea) and it's sequel, Schroedinger's Cat Trilogy. That's it from Tony's book club.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

"You Take the Good, You Take the Bad, You Take Them Both, & Then You Have..."

My son learned one of the sad facts of life today: If you're not popular (and possibly if you are,) one of your friends may dump you to join the shitheads who pick on you. This is heartbreaking to see, as he is such a good kid. Sadly, there's not much I can give in the way of advice, except, "Learn how to live with assholes." Someone should teach a course.

Some thoughts that keep me awake:

Does The Number of the Beast (666) really mean the decimal equivalent of 2/3, such as .666? I know it should be rounded up to .667, but .666 would have been easier for St. John of Patmos to remember.

From Robert Anton Wilson's Schroedinger's Cat Trilogy: A chicken is just an egg's way of making more eggs. Meditate on that one for a while.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, January 05, 2008

"Max, you can only have 100% of anything!"

Illustration Friday: 100%

Climb to the very very top of that mountain! Click the image above to see a larger version.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, January 04, 2008

Media - the Reality Tunnel Gauge.

Barack Obama won Iowa. I fully admit that I have no idea what this means, or how caucuses work. All I know is that we are one step closer to Hillary Clinton not being president, so I am happy. I am fully aware that people have their own deep-seated political opinions, and there's nothing I could say that would change them - and I really have no desire to. All I can say is that the only hope for this country is for someone who has had nothing to do with the divisive war that's been tearing this country to pieces for the last 40 years be elected, and she's right in the center of it.

Well, that's not quite all. There's also the fact that the Liberal Media have been shoving her down my throat as the Inevitable President ever since she carpet-bagged her way into the New York Senate back in 2000. But I wonder: is that really true, or is it just my reality tunnel? We all have our reality tunnels which filter out every part of the universe except what we believe in. I've come to the conclusion that the media is the best way to see what your reality tunnel is. When you watch television or read the news, what do you see? Do you see the liberals controlling the media, or the conservatives? Do you see evidence everywhere you look in TV, movies, and commercials that (blacks, whites, men, women, dogs, cats, Catholics, Jews, penguins, etc.) are the whipping boys/girls of society? I'm not saying that these problems don't exist; as some wise man once said, just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean you're not trying to kill me. But if you start seeing evidence of your personal fears everywhere in the media, think hard about those fears, try to find where they come from.

But why worry? Politics is just another attachment to let go of. All I can do is make my vote, and that's something I don't have to do for another eleven months. Everyone else has the right to vote however they want, so their votes are not my concern. Let it go. (Nothing pisses me off more than when people say "I don't know how you Americans could have voted for Bush." It's because people have the freedom to vote for who they want to, and they chose someone you didn't like. Deal with it.) Then again, 90% of the news has nothing to do with me. Half of it has to do with some bimbo named Britney and her sixteen-year-old sister who got knocked up, - but not by me, so why even bother reading about it? There's a war going on, but there's always a war going on, and there's nothing I can do. Let it go. Some news items, of course, do affect me and my life. But there's so much crap in the news that we are bombarded with, to make us feel afraid, to make us feel as if we're being drowned by a world beyond or control. Or maybe that's just my reality tunnel talking. Something to think about.

TTFN
-Tony