Monday, December 28, 2009

A Good Week with Good Friends

I had a good week and managed to spend time some old friends I hadn't seen in years. I got to spend some of Christmas Eve with Brock (one of the best friends I've ever had,) I also ran into my friend Jim from high school that night. I spent yesterday with Craig and Kevin, who I don't get to see anywhere near as much as I'd like. In addition to browsing book and CD stores, (they also had LP's, - color me nostalgic, but I love LPs- there's just something special about them that other media can't hold a candle to,) we went to Romano's Macaroni Grill, where they let us draw on the tablecloth:



Then I went to my parents' house. My sainted cute, little, Sicilian, Catholic mommy made me rice balls, sausage rolls and coffee. I played a few games of pinochle with dad while I horrified my parents with reruns of AbFab on BBC America, (by the end of the night, my father was calling me "sweetie-darling.") All in all, a wonderful time.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thoughts that keep me up...

Has anyone else ever wondered who would win in a catfight between Marlee Matlin and Linda from Sesame Street?

(Merry Christmas)
TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Is the Dark Side Stimulating the Economy or am I Just Paranoid?

Why is Something Something Something Dark Side being released in stores only a few days before Christmas? Is it a secret plot to get people who already finished their Christmas shopping back in the malls?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, December 21, 2009

Undone

Illustration Friday: Undone

(Click above for larger image.)

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Morning Commute Thoughts

On the bus at 5:45am. It's not too cold out. I've put the lining back in my coat and with my fleece sweat jacket underneath I feel like a penguin. The seats on some of these buses have sides to them on the aisle, so two people who aren’t twigs can't sit together. (A deliberate intention of the nanny-state? Hmmm...) A little girl is sharing the seat with me. I wonder what makes her, her sister & her mother take the bus & subway every day.

I am surrounded by Budweiser ads. It's a shame that it tastes like pee (I imagine.) Someone is going deaf to a nice disco beat. We had a nice party for Joe on Saturday (he turned twelve.) Random bumper sticker: "Positive is how I live." Something to do with ions?

Now I'm on the F. I grabbed an AM (free paper) just for the Ken-ken puzzle. I ripped that page out & stuck it in my pocket. That paper is pretty useless. I'll buy a Daily News on the way. That's only semi-useless. Here's something annoying- it's a good 1/2 mile walk from the subway to Colombian Presbyterian, and even when I worked there four years ago for another shop I've yet to find a deli on the way. I have to actually walk three blocks in the opposite direction.

Personality test- on an empty 2-seater, I move all the way in instead of sitting on the outside seat & making someone climb over me to get to the cramped spot. Aren't I so modestly wonderful? Am I just trying to offset my karmic balance?

Oh well, I’m here. Have a nice day.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, November 08, 2009

"and you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking..."

Here I am, 37 years old, wondering where the hell the time has gone. Sometimes I think I should invent a fuckup detector. It could bleep through the timelines and show you exactly where you fucked up. That would be free- fixing the fuckup would cost $99.95 (this week only!) I’d make a mint! But then wouldn’t all the web of possibilities in the multiverse become ensared, some pruned, some twisting back upon themselves? But if there’s an infinite number of possibilities, would one or two less matter? How do you define infinity -1? Of course while possibilities are infinite, probabilities are not. (Yes, this is what I lie in bed thinking about.)

Time just keeps slipping by. I think of Pink Floyd. “And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you…” Or I think of Mister Dark in Something Wicked this Way Comes, tearing the years of my life away, page by page.

Well I don’t mean to be depressing or anything, I’ve just been introspective today. Thank you so much to all my friends for all your birthday wishes. Here’s to another year of beating the reaper!

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Morning Kvetchings


Some cool building on 5th avenue lit up red in the early morning.

Once again, my loathing of the MTA knows no bounds. They are my cross to bear, a blight upon my existence. The ads on the subway are depressing to the point I want to eat my own spleen. Most of them are attempts to get me to go back to school so I can better my life. There are romance novel ads, "Evelyn... The middle sister who had it all, but there's trouble in paradise." ConEd (Save money by cleaning out your AC filters!) I just want to shut my eyes and blot the world out. The train is old, the ride is slow but rocking and bumpy because the infrastructure of the city is falling to hell in a ham sandwich and I keep knocking my head back against an ad for storage space and I wonder how many other heads have banged against it and did they have cooties and did the cooties become one with the advertisement until being awakened by my head?

Speaking of advertisements, every Bloomberg ad makes me want to vomit. I just have something against politicians who perform end-rushes around term limits because "we need him." If he's so goddamn wonderful then he should have worked his magic over the eight years he had in office to help us instead of seeing us merely as money making assets.

The screeching wheels are like razor blades against my nerves. God, I'm crotchety today. Isn't that a great word, "crotchety"? I feel like I'm the first Doctor. I can picture Beavis saying "crotchety" over and over again. “Crrrrrrrrotchety!!!” God, I miss Beavis and Buthead. "For there is but one bunghole! One almighty bunghole…"

Here we are screeching into Lex & 53rd. This station is so filthy. That's it's claim to fame, being filthy. There used to be a guy who sang opera for cash. A woman with a tremendous voice used to sing blues standards here too. Did they try America's Got Talent, or perhaps American Idol?

OK friends and neighbors, it’s been fun kvetching to you. Hope you all have a nice day.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, October 09, 2009

OK, So He's Not Doctor Killinger...

Can someone please tell me what President Obama has possibly done to earn the Nobel Peace Prize? So all you have to do is be a democratic president following a republican hawk? Is this anything but just a political statement or god forbid, part of that whole worship thing I keep hearing about?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, October 05, 2009

Kvetching Pays Off!

I start a new job tomorrow! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Here's hoping it's a good one - I'll let you know :)

TTFN
-Tony

More Thoughts that Keep Me Awake at Night...

Ok, if it's true that only two people know the secret to making Coca-Cola, then how the hell does it get made? Do those two guys fly from plant to plant every morning?

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, October 02, 2009

Stimulating my Package

Hello friends and neighbors. I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while. I’m still unemployed, still surviving, still breathing in and out. Still listening to Doctor Who. I went to download a new one tonight and it’s taking hours because either Verizon is slow or Big Finish’s server is slow or who knows somebody somewhere is slow. Holy fuck, it’s October already. In eleven months I’ve worked three weeks. I guess that stimulus package isn’t working too well. Everything’s getting more expensive. My rent’s going up next month. Every night for the past three days our hot water mysteriously stops working. I feel like I’m just killing time but I don’t know what I’m waiting for. I feel like I’m just surviving day by day. How many games can I waste time with? At least I have my writing, and my friends and family have been amazingly supportive, more than I could have ever imagined. Soon the year will be over and I won’t have anything to balance out the humongous tax bill I’m going to owe the government, because I was stupidly counting on working… oh I don’t know… just a few months this year. Because the government has done such a goddamn fine job of running things that they deserve my money.

I feel like I’m just whining writing this. I don’t know. I think of Vonnegut and how he said that the point of writing was to show other people that they weren’t alone. Maybe I’d have to be writing anonymously to completely do that, but maybe this will help some other poor schmuck know they’re not alone.

Bye for now, keep your teeth clean.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

To Infinity...


(Please click the above image for higher resolution.)

The Illustration Friday word of the week is Infinity. There seems to be a lot of stuff packed into it :)

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sci-fi Weirdness


(please click above for higher resolution)

This was the background to something that just didn't work, but I liked it on it's own :)

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembrance

Here we are again on 9/11. I considered posting my letter that I wrote at the time as I've done for the past few years. Instead I decided to write something new and just link to it.

I don't know what to say.

I remember feeling angry and afraid all the time. I remember working restoring power to buildings afterward and seeing the giant column of smoke in the air for months and smelling that horrible burning all the time and knowing that part of what I was smelling were people who had been loved and needed. I remember being terrified that what I was breathing would make me or my family sick. I remember watching people on the subway for the next few weeks, unashamedly crying. 9/11/2002 everyone left their construction jobs to stand in the street for fifteen minutes of silence. Last year, I worked at a building right next door to ground zero, and we got to take a minute to stand by the window if we wished. Life goes on I guess.

It's eight years later and if I think about it, I just feel angry. I'm angry that my friend lost his brother. I'm angry that some of my friends and family had to risk their lives overseas- some of whom still are (take care of yourself, Jimmy.) I'm angry that there's been such an infinitesimally small amount of reconstruction downtown in the last eight years. I'm angry that our constitution got shredded to pieces. I'm angry that our economy keeps spiraling further and further into the toilet. I'm angry that I haven't worked but a few weeks in the past ten months.

I don't know how to end this. I could tell everyone to hug their children, I could tell everyone to be excellent to each other, I could tell everyone to write their congressbeings and tell them to get their asses in gear, who knows. I think I'll just leave you all with your own memories and feelings.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Firefox Risen from the Ashes

I've used Mozilla's Firefox for a long time. There are two main reasons. One, it has Adblock Plus, which means that I can happily browse the web or watch videos without seeing goddamn commercials that may pay for but have completely ruined the internet, and two, it has Video Downloadhelper which lets me easily save videos from almost any site.

Recently, Firefox 3.0x was slowing down, so I upgraded to 3.52. This is where my troubles began. The new installation took five minutes to load, and then every page itself would take at least ten minutes. Searching the web did not help, just pages and pages of people with problems like mine but with no solution. I tried reinstalling my earlier version to no avail.

I tried some different browsers. Safari is very pretty, but has no add-ons for the Windows version. Opera just was another browser, nothing really special. Chrome is very fast, but again, no ad-ons. I don't even want to talk about IE.

I took the plunge and removed every key I could find mentioning Firefox or Mozilla from the registry (kiddies don't try this at home!) I restarted, reinstalled, and VIOLA! I can surf without annoying ads again! I can download videos easily again!

God, I feel good about myself when I solve annoying problems :)

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Speech, speech!

Today, my children will more than likely hear President Obama’s welcome back speech telling them to (gasp!) take personal responsibility and (good gravy!) stay in school. Who cares? I think if anything, kids across the nation will simply zone out from boredom, or throw things (if they're in an assembly) or make obnoxious comments back, or doodle, or fantasize about the girl sitting in front of them - you know, things kids do. I’ve always been confused by the fear of children hearing a whisper from an ideology that their parents don’t agree with, and adults who are terrified to hear a whisper of a conflicting ideology make me giggle even more. I always have the utmost respect for people who can hear an idea they don’t believe in and actually consider it and think about logically. Of course, there are limits, (like the time I took the painstaking effort to explain to my son that Cinco de Mayo was the day of mourning for the 10,000 jars of mayonnaise lost on the Titanic, but his teacher had the gall to insist it was some holiday or something,) but people who are comparing this morning’s speech to the organizing of the Hitler Youth need to turn down their exaggeration meters a few hundred notches.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, September 04, 2009

Spider-Thingie

Just for shits and giggles, I've been making a sort of spider thingie with 3ds Max. Here's the work in progress, hope you enjoy!




TTFN
-Tony

Friday, August 28, 2009

High School Sketchbook

Here are two images I dug up from my old high school sketchbook. (Click on images for higher resolution.) Enjoy!


William Hartnell



TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Illustration Friday: Wrapped


Please click above for higher resolution.

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, August 17, 2009

Boring

Welcome to today's boring post. There's nothing really going on here. I'm still unemployed, my life consists of pretending to be Mister Mom when it rages against my inner Mister Slob. Somedays I wish I could teleport to my own island somewhere, or even better my own planet. I think it would be a nice blue one. My days are spent walking, writing, farting around on fb, chatting with friends, eating, playing games, and wishing not that life was differenet so much as wishing I was different.

In between having kids want to play with me all the time, I've been trying my damndest to make the end of this one novel work so I can finish SOMETHING in my life, and feeling frustrated. I'm also putting time in on this week's Illustration Friday, so stay tuned.

OK, onward to a game of Civ4 with Joe. Any other Civ fans out there? How about Spore? You know what would be an even more fasciating strategy game? If instead of playing a civilization or a lifeform, you got to design a human brain, and what went into it and what happens to it, and see how it turns out. Instead of adding things like learning how to hunt or learning electricity, you could have spanked by parents, wet pants in second grade gym class, first kiss, brother killed in car crash, or won first prize in elementary school art contest. I know, this sounds a lot like GRIOT in Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus, but I think it would be much more interesting. Like the song says, "All in all it's just another brick in the wall."

OK, more later, a big :) to my friends out there. Can't help missing you all when you're far away.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Modify

Illustration Friday: Modify

(Click on the image for higher resolution.)

I wish it was this simple.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I'm sitting here in front of the computer, obviously. I keep wondering what life is supposed to hold for me, where I am going and what I'm supposed to be doing. I wish I could be more Zen and just accept that I am where I'm perfectly supposed to be, but here's the kicker- is wanting more out of life part of a perfect existence? If pain supposedly comes from wanting things, and if life is supposed to be perfect as-is, then isn't wanting things part of that perfection? Is my purpose at the moment to want? And in the end, does it matter? Does it matter that it matters?

From Babylon 5: Hour of the Wolf
G'Kar, (examining a poster of a spastic Daffy Duck) - "I was studying this image. Is it one of his household gods?"
Zack - "That's Daff- Yeah. Well, in a way I suppose it is. It's sort of the Egyptian god of Frustration."
G'Kar - "Most appropriate! Thank you!"

OK, too much caffeine.

I like to lie in bed in the darkness and talk to myself. I answer back in a number of voices - sometimes it's the great late Valentine Dyall, sometimes it's Sylvester McCoy, sometimes it's Leonard Nimoy, and sometimes it's my paternal grandfather. Usually my concerns boil down to Leonard Nimoy saying "You must have faith... that the universe will unfold as it should." (It should be pointed out here that Leonard Nimoy himself has said that his own inner monologue is usually a conversation with Spock. I hope he doesn't mind me stealing him for a bit now and then.)

So what voices are in your head? Come on and share!

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, July 17, 2009

Froggie

Heading out soon. Going to see some minor league baseball tonight, Harry Potter and a friends BBQ tomorrow. Here's hoping everyone has a good one.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Manhattan Special

I just got back from my nightly walk listened to some Jim Croce on the mp3 player "Hey tomorrow, you gotta believe that I'm through wastin' what's left of me..." Inhaled some carcinogens and passed some other carcinogen inhalers on my nightly ritual, lung-cancer-bound ships passing in the night. I used to imagine when I was a teenager that I would live in a city and go walking late at night smoking cigarettes except the city was going to be London and I was going to be making television shows and movies, and it's amazing how some things in life work out the way you dreamed it would but its never exactly the same and you can't help but bitch and moan "and I'm gonna go there free like the fool I am and I'll always be, I got a dream, I got a dream... they can change their minds but they can't change me..." We watched Dr. Who & The Army of Ghosts the other night and Joe asked if I believed in ghosts and I said well there hasn't been any proof of dead people contacting us, so they could exist in the same way Bertrand Russell's Teapot exists floating somewhere around the sun all alone in the darkness, but I was stretching the truth because I feel all the ghosts of who I was and who was before me walking around in my head with me. It's been almost thirty years and my grandfather is still in my head along with all my other invisible friends that I dearly miss who keep me company and sometimes I wonder if there's room for me in here.

TTFN
-Tony

Eggplant

Good morning my friends, I'm sorry it's been so long.

Once again, I am unemployed. It seems like the contractor just needed work for a few weeks. Why they hired when they didn't have the work, I don't know. Anyway, I have to make myself a constant pain in the ass to the hall to get myself back out again.

One good thing about having a lot of time to think is that I've learned much about life and myself in the past few months. What I've learned is that I know absolutely nothing and it will always surprise me. I came up with a quote I want to be remembered for: "I'm going to go through life convinced that I know everything, so that it can prove me wrong." Sometimes it's strange, sometimes it hurts, but on the whole, it's been pretty darn beautiful.

I spend most of my days writing. I've actually gotten to the second draft of one of my novels (believe it or not, it's not the one I was working on earlier this year) and I'm determined to finish it. It's like some sort of angel got into my head and inspired me. (I like that better than Stephen King's little fairy that lives in his typewriter, but whatever floats your boat. And after the crappy ending of The Dark Tower, he should have given it the boot, IMHO.) Thank you, angel.

Amanda lost (one of her) beloved blue Dollys in summer school. We were able to find another one on E-bay so we'll still have a backup. I don't know how we'd explain that one is in pristine condition while the other has been to hell and back, but maybe like most gifts, the why doesn't matter. The trick is being thankful.

Well that's it for now. Everyone have a great day.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's the News Across the Nation?

OK, I'm all for diplomacy, but I'm sorry that it took an innocent woman's murder, (or should I say the public outcry over it,) for our president to finally acknowledge that Iran's regime is a brutal one.

And speaking of poor Neda, I usually don't go for conspiracies, but isn't it odd that she was killed by a sniper at all - much less with a camera already on her?

(Writing this on the bus) Yo, mister bus driver- if the bus is so packed that no one else can get on, why do you keep stopping, opening the doors so people can TRY to get on, telling them you're sorry, they don't fit, please get off, and then repeat? Are you looking for that one, special, Tetris-piece-shaped someone?

I'm really sick of newspapers (Daily Post & the Daily News) who just can't simply tell the news without editorializing. The DN used to be much better comparatively, but it gets worse & worse. Even more- it keeps printing "stories" about what an influence it has over Albany, and how readers agree so much with whatever bullshit they say. Give me a strait AP piece any day.

Enough bitching for now. Take care

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Illustration Friday: Unfold


(click above for a larger image)
Charles Wallace tries to impress chicks with his tesseract for the last time.

TTFN
-Tony

Employed!

Sorry it's been so long. You'll all be happy to know that I am once again a useful, productive member of society. I'm working in a wonderful muddy hole in the ground with girders, pipes, hard hats, and porti-poties. It's been wonderfully cold and rainy all week - and suddenly, on Friday, I got a small example of what the heat's going to be like when the sun popped out and baked me. Mister porti-potty instantly became a rancid pressure cooker. Here's hoping I stay until the whole building is built, how ever many years that takes. I would love to be employed so long that I have to actually go on furlough again someday.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Star Trek Nokia

We saw Star Trek last Friday. All in all, it was a lot of fun, except for the product placement, which irked the living shit out of me. Do we really need a Nokia commercial in the middle of a Star Trek film? (Yes, I did pick up the Bud Classic and Jack references, but they were far less blatant.) I was the most impressed with Karl Urban's take on Doctor McCoy - he seemed to get the character down perfectly without trying to do a DeForest Kelley impersonation. But by far, the best part was sharing a mass nerdgasm when Leonard Nimoy appeared onscreen.

OK, fess up - how many die hard Trekkies wanted to see Christopher Pike wind up as a vegetable who can only talk with blinking lights? I know he was in a wheelchair at the end, but I did feel kind of gyped.

TTFN
-Tony

PS - I forgot to mention - Kudos to Simon Pegg. His take on Scotty was a hoot.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Randomness

I like to sit with Amanda, watching Mickey Mouse sing the “Hot Dog” song by They Might be Giants. However, we like to sing it “Hot Frog.” The image is much more interesting.

Last night I dreamt I was in the caves of Oblivion, alongside an adorable brown-haired hamster. (Perhaps it was Boo the Space Hamster from Baldur’s Gate.) There was a fork in the caverns, and a rock wall came down and separated us. I felt horrible, because I knew it was taking the much more dangerous passage while I had the easy way. I wanted to tell it that I was OK, but I was so worried about it and wished it could tell me how it was. (Because in dreams, hamsters can talk. Probably. Maybe.) Then I was in my grandmother’s kitchen eating a lemon that had baked in the oven and turned thick and brown, and kids in Star Wars costumes were running around the house.

I watched Red Dwarf: Back to Earth last night and was sorely disappointed. I can’t even begin to explain the depths of my annoyance. First of all, the, “Oh my God - we’re just fictional characters!” metafiction twist has been beaten into the ground - I thought Stephen King’s Dark Tower series had left no doubt of that. And then in the end, it was all just a dream? Seriously? You have everyone waiting ten years for a new episode and that’s the best you can come up with? What happened to the humor, originality and intelligence that brought us episodes like "Terrorform" and "Cassandra"? I felt like I was suffering through The Phantom Menace all over again.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I went to the funeral of a friend's brother this past weekend. Sadly, I really didn't know him that well, but funerals do have a way of making you realize how hard it is to say goodbye to someone you care about forever. There's a great South Park episode, "Tweek vs. Craig,"where the shop teacher mourns the death of his love and how he was never able to say goodbye to her. At the end, her ghost explains that saying goodbye doesn't matter, because even if you never got to properly say it, the other person always knew how you felt, and that's what's important. (And that was a run-on sentence!) So even though it may hurt you terribly and you may love and miss someone, you should just be glad they knew how you felt. What makes it worse is that there's always conflicting feelings: sometimes people are happy, sometimes they're sad, sometimes they hurt, sometimes they feel proud, sometimes they feel like shit. But through it all you loved your friends and thought that no matter what, they were the best people in the world and your life was so much better for having known them. The important thing is to realize that they knew. Maybe they had to read between the lines, but they knew.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Do Fish Have Soles & Other Thoughts

Mandy loves Madagascar and it is a great movie, but the penguins' solution at the end has always bugged me. Why is it morally wrong for Alex to eat other animals, but perfectly acceptable for him to eat fish? ("Savor it!")

When we watch classic Disney cartoons, I keep remembering how Elena and I used to think the Donald Duck song went, "Who's gonna feed the little chickens?..."

OK, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I just don't understand why it's so important for some people that gay people don't get married. What difference does it really make to your own life or your own marriage if two people who love each other have a legal union with each other?

I'm sure everyone and their brother has seen it, but I love Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent. It's such a wonderful lesson in not judging a book by its cover.

Wouldn't it be great if the Kazakhstan national anthem from Borat became the United States National Anthem? You'd just have to replace "Kazakhstan" with "USA" ("USA greatest country in the world / All other countries are run by little girls...")

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Random Thoughts

There is a tree by my apartment building whose giant roots are thick and high, but are chopped close so it can fit in a sidewalk square. If it had had the luck to grow in a forest instead of Queens, it might have spread out about ten feet in every direction.

Amanda is well on her way to becoming a woman. She stomps around the house yelling, "I am so angry!" When you ask her what's making her so angry, she screams, "Nothing!"

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a fun waste of time, but there's nothing really creative or special about it.

I'm having a very hard time working on my second draft lately, because life keeps changing the way I view my characters. I should just barrel through the damn thing before my perspective changes again.

I've also taken up work on False Idols again, and remembered why I got annoyed in the first place. All those tentacles can be a little overwhelming.

All the tiny beetles in my building, (one of the many joys of living in an old apartment,) go to my dining room light to die. Whereas in the days of incandescent bulbs they would accumulate in the defuser glass, they now pack themselves into the grooves of the curly florescent bulbs by the hundreds. It's disgustingly cool.

Enough reflections for now.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

One Way to Make the World a Better Place

Wouldn't the world be a better place if jars of mayonnaise and peanut better contained sealed capsules to keep the whole jar fresh? Is there anything in the world more soothing than the first taste of a new jar of pb or mayo - or more disappointing than the thin, oily crap at the bottom?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm Just a Boy Whose Intentions are Good...

The other night we watched episode six of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV miniseries, the novelization of which wound up in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The Guide says this about telepathy:

"The Belcebron people used to cause great resentment and insecurity amongst neighboring races by being one of the most enlightened, accomplished, and above all quiet civilizations in the Galaxy. As a punishment for this behaviour, which was held to be offensively self righteous and provocative, a Galactic Tribunal inflicted on them that most cruel of all social diseases, telepathy. Consequently, in order to prevent themselves broadcasting every slightest thought that crossed their minds to anyone within a five mile radius, they now have to talk very loudly and continuously about the weather, their little aches and pains, the match this afternoon and what a noisy place Kakrafoon had suddenly become."

This got me thinking about communication. It works like this: Person A thinks of something he wishes to share. Various filters take over and phrase this thought in a way that seems just right, and his mind subconsciously translates these thoughts to speech. His tongue then transmits the thoughts as physical sound waves, which are heard by person B's ears. Person B's mind subconsciously converts these sound waves into thoughts. Assuming there was no physical or mental interference and the process did not need to be repeated, her brain then applies its own filters to the received thoughts as it tries to understand them. This is where things can go wrong, because the receiver's brain may be changing the meaning from what was intended. Perhaps one of the contributors to "good chemistry" between people is the ability to inherently understand what the other person is saying without coloring the intent.

The process for text messages or instant messaging is slightly different. As many have lamented, once a sound wave is emitted and heard, it cannot be taken back. However, an editing process can be applied to words on an email or text so that it looks "just right" before sending it. Jerry Doyle, (who played Mr. Garibaldi on Babylon 5 before becoming a talk radio host,) once said that all letters should be hand-written without any editing, because once you start to edit yourself you begin to lose meaning. Sadly, chatting also causes you to lose inflection, which is why emoticons were invented. (I have to say Skype has the best range of emoticons ever.) I've had arguments before after attempting sarcasm in an IM without any emoticons to soften the blow. Sometimes I feel I overuse the smiley face, and that my words should be enough to express my meaning, but yeah, sometimes I just feel like smiling. :)

Sometimes people say the same things over and over again when trying to describe their emotions because even though they've said them once, the feelings and need to communicate them are still so strong. Face to face communication is the best for this, because of all the expressions and other subtle body language. Sure, webcams are fun, but nothing says I love and missed you like a hug. So go up to someone you love and hug them today, I'm sure they'd appreciate it.

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Twas the Day Before Easter...

Here we are, Good Saturday 2009: the day before Easter. When I was a kid, this meant Easter Vigil at church Saturday night, playing and singing in the folk group, and going to my grandmother's in Brooklyn the next day. My grandmother made delicious sweet Easter bread, a tradition my mother has thankfully picked up since her passing. I tried to buy some Easter candy for the kids yesterday, but this section of Queens is far too kosher. How can I get through the day without Reeses peanut butter eggs?

To me, Easter was the Halloween of the spring, except instead of having to go door to door begging for candy, the candy came to you. You still had to dress up to get some (in a suit as opposed to a costume,) and you had to go to church, but still, you got candy. I always felt gypped that it was supposed to be this big holiday, but it was never on a school day. Sure, we got Good Friday off, but as my parents insisted we spend the day watching the Catholic school kids reenact the stations of the cross, there really wasn't any joy in it. The television was kind enough to provide us with specials, but we weren't allowed to watch them. "What does Charlie Brown have to do with Easter?" my parents would cry. One time I drew a picture of Snoopy on the cross just to show them. They were not amused. When my son was three, my mother tried to explain it to him, saying that Easter is the day when Jesus comes out of his hole in the ground. "Yep," I chimed in. "And if he sees his shadow, it will be six thousand more years of winter." Again, she was not amused.

So for the secular and faithful alike, Happy Easter and a belated Zissen Pesach, have a good day with lots of eggs, candy, bread, food, and family, and whatever you wish.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, April 10, 2009

Biblical Living

Last year, I bought my sainted Sicilian mother the book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A. J. Jacobs, and now I'm finally getting around to reading it myself. Mr. Jacobs, a secular man, describes his attempts to follow every bible law to the letter. He wears white clothes that are not of mixed fibers. He doesn't trim his beard. He eats bugs. He carries a cane-chair around so that he doesn't touch unclean surfaces. He visits the Amish and prays with the Orthodox. He shoos a mother pigeon from her nest so he can take her egg, (he gives it back afterwards.)

As a closet agnostic who grew up in an extremely Catholic home, I'm finding Jacob's journey fascinating. He realizes that these bizarre rules and rituals actually give him a sense of peace. The dietary laws of the old testiment may seem strange and strict, but he feels they teach discipline. He grows to love blowing his ram's horn every morning, and paying for the next customer's coffe at Starbucks.

I went to bed thinking about this, and had a very odd dream. I dreamt Amanda (my five year old daughter) said to me, "There is no greater sacrifice than to give your life up for the Lord." I grew furious and told her that no, god just wanted you to live your life and be happy, not to worry about sacrificing yourself. Upon waking, I realized I stil have a lot of religion issues. But that doesn't mean the bible is bad, or that it is not full of good and wonderful rules to live your life by. So I try to think what laws I should have governing my life, because I really need some. I've always loved Kurt Vonnegut's quote, "Please-a little less love, and a little more common decency." I replace "common decency" with "kindness." I think I should just be kind to the people in my life. That's a good start. Does that include myself? I'm working on it.

Any ideas of your own?

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Zen of Cookie Monster

As we were waiting for a plane together, my sister Elena and I had an interesting conversation about life, acceptance, and philosophy. Suddenly it struck me:

C is for Cookie is one of the most Zen songs ever written.



The song is full of statements. Things are. C is for "cookie." A round cookie with one bite out of it looks like a C. The moon sometimes looks like a C, but you can't eat that. Cookie cookie cookie starts with C. There is acceptance of the way things are: "that's good enough for me." In fact, there is only one statement of judgment in the whole song: That although a doughnut with one bite out of it looks like a C, it's not as good as a cookie.

There are times in our lives when we want things to be different, and it hurts because they are not. In those times, we need to be accepting, and thankful for what we have. Everything is perfect the way it is. In these times of doubt, our mantra needs to become, "That's good enough for me."

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Was Pulto Mickey's S&M Slave & Other Thoughts

Mandy has been watching classic Disney cartoons on YouTube, and I can't help but wonder - was Pluto Mickey's S&M love slave? Let's look at the facts. In the Disney universe, it has been proven that dogs are "people," just like ducks, mice and chipmunks. Goofy is the most common example. So why does Pluto resign himself to wearing a leash and collar, living in a doghouse, and responding to Mickey's every whim? The only logical answer is that Pluto likes it that way. Prove it to me otherwise.

Is human fat jelled anger? Whenever I've lost weight, I've noticed that during the process, although I feel better physically and most of the time emotionally, I am prone to random fits of anger and lashing out. I've read that others have experienced this as well. So, seeing as stress is a big contributor towards obesity for us unlucky ones, (you don't want to know what we think of you assholes who manage to get thinner under stress,) and seeing as everything in the mind is electro-chemical, I can't help but wonder if human fat is the storage for these anger-chemicals. Not a purely scientific thought, but interesting...

Any other imponderables out there?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, March 09, 2009

Dear Google News: Stop Shilling for the Kindle, Already!

Every day for the last month, the Google News science & technology section has some article singing the praises of the Kindle II. I'm assuming that Amazon is paying Google huge kickbacks for all this advertising disguised as news, and I'm really getting annoyed with it. I'm also annoyed at "articles" that gush over how soon you'll be able to buy ebooks for the I-Phone

Why am I so annoyed? Because for ten years or so, you could buy ebooks in .lit or .pdf format to read on ANY handheld device. Then Amazon got greedy and decided to corner the ebook reader market by creating the Kindle, (kind of like a Pocket PC or Palm or Phone except it's the size of a laptop, it's expensive, and it does nothing except read kindle-format e-books,) and only selling ebooks in the Kindle's format.

So no thanks, there are still plenty of sites where I can buy ebooks in the old formats that I can download to my Pocket PC and read wherever I want - when, you know, I'm not playing solitaire or Nintendo or surfing the internet or watching videos or listening to MP3s or any of the other many many things I can do on my one small but convinent device.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, March 06, 2009

To the Parents Who Brought a 5-Year-Old to See Watchmen:

Dear Parents - I'm assuming.

Jen & I saw Watchmen this morning at the AMC Loews on Horace Harding blvd. in Flushing. I saw you in the back row with a five year old - maybe younger - kid. I have to admit I'm pretty liberal minded as to what I let my kids watch - my five year old daughter runs around the apartment yelling, "Giggedy goo!" But I was shocked to see that you thought this movie would be a good idea for a family outing. Ok, I thought, maybe you never read the graphic novel. Maybe you didn't even know the rating. Maybe you just saw superheroes in the commercials and thought it would be a good movie for a kid. Maybe the theater employees warned you that the film was completely inappropriate for your child, maybe not.

Anyway, the movie started, and as the Commedian got the living crap beaten out of him and thrown through a window, I thought, "OK, maybe they realize this isn't a kids' movie now."

I thought the same thing during the fight when a gang member's splintered arm-bone was driven through his skin.

And in the rape scene, when a woman was punched and kicked until she was bruised and bloody and forced over a table...

And when dogs fought over a leg from a child's corpse...

And when a pregnant woman was murdered...

When Rorschach repeatedly drove a meat cleaver into a child molester's head...

When one inmate chopped off another's arms with a buzz saw, splattering blood everywhere...

When somebody was electrocuted... (I got my sewage line!)

When Rorschach cooked an inmate's face in deep-fat-frying oil...

During the hot and heavy sex scene...

When people exploded like bloody meat throughout the movie...

But no, when we left, you guys and the kid were still there. Maybe I'm just mad at myself for not having any testicular fortitude. I really wanted to ask what the hell you people were thinking. because I find it frightening that you put your child through that kind of stimulus. No, I don't think your kid is going to grow up to be a psychopath, but I also can't imagine how a child's mind could process that kind of violence. Maybe you could explain it to me.

TTFN
-Tony

PS - A quick review - I loved the movie, but it would have been even better with a squid!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A Nerd Reviews Watchmen, Though He Hasn't Seen It Yet

The TV show Saul of the Mole Men coined a great phrase: Arrogant Nerd Syndrome. It describes the tendency we geeks have to correct other people when they slightly misquote Monty Python sketches. It describes our ability to argue to the point of idiocy over which Doctor (Who,) starship captain, or Star Wars film is the best. And yes, it describes our pain when movie adaptations aren't true to the source material.

For about twenty years now, I've been waiting for a film adaptation of Watchmen. Friday, my dream comes true, and a generation-long nerdy longing will reach fruition. But what will the movie bring? As a proud nerd who has suffered from ANS for many years, I bring to you my review of the Watchmen, a film I haven't seen yet.

Let me start by pointing out the love/hate relationship we nerds have when our favorite works are adapted for the masses. We want to see the movie, but we don't want to share it with the rest of you. Lord of the Rings is a perfect example. In the same way ancient Christians used to draw pictures of fish, we geeks could once identify each other by growling, "My Precious!" in the back of our throats. Now, everybody gets it. It's the same with Watchmen. No longer are the nerd elite the only ones who can identify Rorschach, Doctor Manhattan, or Wally Weaver. Honestly, they should make people take a quiz at the door.

Next is the amount of faithfulness to the source material. It blows my mind that Zach Snyder has used the original graphic novel as a storyboard, that in each shot, every minute detail is perfect - right down to the different patterns on Rorschach's mask - BUT HE CHANGED THE ENDING. I feel nothing but burning hatred for studio plants lurking on the message boards whose job it is to defuse the ire of we "fan-boys" who wanted to see a muthafuckin' squid at the end of the story. Seriously - who reads a book and says, "Wow, this is one of the greatest books of all time. I really hope they change the ending."? I don't think so. I'm sure it was a political decision, and that the powers that be were frightened by the 9/11 connotations of the original ending, but I don't care. Zach Snyder, you owe me an admittedly vaginal-looking squid:



OK, on to Zach Snyder. I spotted at least three "Zach Snyder patented speed it up-slow it down-speed it up again" sequences in the trailer. So... how many are going to be in the movie? I didn't mind it so much in 300 because it was a bit of a style piece, but come on. Maybe he if he wasn't playing with the camera speed so much, we would have had room for a squid.

On to the characters. Most are spot on, with two exceptions: Rorschach sounds right, but there's one problem. He's not slimy enough. He looks (at least in the trailer) too clean and polished. He is supposed to have lived an obsessed, paranoid life these last ten years, hiding in a squalid studio apartment in the bad part of town. His clothes are supposed to be stained and torn. He's supposed to reek like rotten eggs. A minor complaint, as I think Jackie Earle Haley is the perfect choice for the character, I just didn't get a feeling of disgusting filthiness from his appearance in the preview.

Now the biggie: Ozymandias. I'm sorry, but Mathew Goode is horribly, horribly miscast. He looks like a kid. In the Graphic Novel, Veidt was at least in his late forties, if not his fifties. Mathew Goode wasn't even thirty when he filmed this. Also, he's far too slight of build, and his lack of physique makes the character's actions a little unbelievable.

Oh yeah- and President Nixon's nose is WAY too big. Seriously. It must be deliberate, because it's obvious. Why, I don't know.

But all in all, I'm still counting down the minutes until Friday morning. I'm praying it's more of a Lord of the Rings - which, despite changes to the plot and characters was still one of the greatest film epics of all time - than a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which dumbed all the intelligent, satirical, and phillisophical material in the book down for the American masses.

Let's end this with some of my favorite quotes that I really hope get into the film:









OK, that's enough for now- I'll let the rest be a surprise.

TTFN
-Tony

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Rock, Roll, Liquor, Family, and the F-Train

Written on 2/28 on my Pocket PC:

It's 2am. I'm on the F train home & wondering if there will be a bus waiting for me in Queens. I doubt it. If not, I'm walking the three miles home, because I'm not paying $20 for a black cab. At least it's nice out.



I saw my cousin Chris's band, The Influence play. I wonder what I can say anything about them except "they rocked." I'm thoroughly inebriated & wonder if it's a good idea to be writing or if I'll get motion sickness. I hung out afterward with Chris & Allison, meeting new people, tossing back alcoholic beverages, and inhaling a few carcinogens. I'm wondering what that says about me, that I started the evening wound up in anxiety, (long story,) but a few cigarettes, whiskey, and friends make everything alright with the world. I guess it's all part of being human.



They played at the Crash Mansion, which is by the Bowery mission, where every homeless person in NYC seems to emanate from. My eardrums are still pounding. Earlier tonight, Joe took his green belt test in Jeet Kune Do, and I filled up on diner pancakes as we celebrated afterward. Jennifer dropped me off at the subway so I could go to Manhattan & enjoy the show.



Times like this, when I go out with friends, I feel as if I'm living two lives that don't quite mesh. Family man by day, club-hopper by night. Jen is wonderfully accepting the handful of times a year I do this. I feel like I'm getting too old for this, but what the hell. Life is too short not to enjoy yourself.

I wonder what my kids must think, the times when I leave at night & come home the next morning. I don't have a frame of reference. My parents' social life was strictly church-centered. We always socialized as a family. The few times they went away by themselves were on Catholic retreats, and we were left in the care of fellow Christians.

OK, we're jiggling too much and my stomach doesn't like it. Going to stop this now.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, February 26, 2009

That Voodoo that You do so Well



A voodoo doll I created from my own mucus to exorcise his brothers in my lungs and sinuses.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

To Chimp or not to Chimp?

Ok, let's start out with a few opinions:

1) I like President Obama, and I wish him the best of luck.
2) The New York Post is a worthless rag.
3) No way in hell should Sean Delonas or Rupert Murdoch have apologized for the infamous "Chimp Cartoon" of Febuary 18, 2009.


(New York Post/AP)

Ok, first of all, the cartoon isn't funny. It is also in extremely bad taste for making light of the maiming of Charla Nash and the necessary killing of the chimp in question, but that's besides the point.

It's not supposed to be Obama, people. It doesn't mean the police should assassinate Obama, it has nothing to do with Obama, other than he's a democrat and democrats wrote the stimulus bill. It's just implying that the proponenets of the stimulus bill, (and probably all democrats, knowing the Post's sentiments,) have the minds of monkeys.

Not true, cry the masses. Apparently, any images of simians are by default slurs against African Americans. Never mind that for eight years, liberal cartoonists regularly portrayed W. as a chimp - that's beside the point. This is the facet of political correctness called "sensitivity." Offense is in the mind of the beholder, and in our society, that perceived offense carries ten times the weight of the actual intent of the creator. Therefore, whether there is intent or not, it is the responsibility of the creators to ensure that they do not offend. Bullshit. I'm sure that many honestly do see racism here, but I can't help thinking that the organized "outrage" over this cartoon is a fear tactic in disguise: do not question the new president, or a political shit-storm might explode in your face. Whether you agree with me or not, you can bet your sweet bippy that every anti-Obama cartoon in the works is now being sifted through by an army of lawyers and watered down until it's toothless.

So, in the name of a free press, I feel it's very important that we establish which animal may be used to portray President Obama in the future. A fish? A cow? How about a butterfly? Keep in mind that the chimp here wasn't even meant to be Obama, (if anyone it would be Nancy Pelosi, who actually wrote the stimulus bill,) but that's besides the point. Any ideas?

TTFN
-Tony

Dreaming Along

I'm sorry I haven't been on in a while- I'll try to post more often. It's the question of quality vs. quantity. When I have nothing new to say, is it better just to shoot the shit? Let me know.

Anyway, this morning's dream, for those who enjoy analysis:

I was back in High School, but married to Jen, even though we were living in separate rooms in my parents' house. It was prom night, and I surprised Jen with tickets. No one at school, (we didn't attend the same one in real life,) knew we were married, and I thought we'd surprise them by being announced with the same last name. Instead of a tux, I had a suit and three shirts: white, black, and brown. The prom started at six, and it was five thirty. No time for a shower, although close inspection in the mirror showed my face was slightly dirty. No problem, I'd just wipe it off.

I got dressed with the white shirt. After putting on my bow-tie, I realized my neck was filthy - actually mud-caked. I went in my bathroom. My late maternal grandfather was visiting, and he and an uncle had done some electrical work in the bathroom, specifically, installing a light in the floor. There was a hole drilled down to the (non-existent) basement, and the bare wires stuck out. I wondered if someone would get hurt. I was able to clean off my jacket, but the grimy white shirt was a gonner. I stripped down to my underwear and scrubbed my face and my neck. I had a light-blue bow-tie somewhere, and I thought the black shirt would look cool.

I went back to my bedroom in my underwear. The den outside was full of people - my late maternal grandparents, Jen's late grandmother, and a few other relatives. My bedroom door wouldn't close. I asked my father what was going on, and he said my mother was having a party. Fine, I said, but would everyone go upstairs, please, and stop hovering around my room? They did. Every room in the house was about three times bigger than normal, and my room had four dressers in it. I searched through all the drawers frantically, but couldn't find the blue bow-tie. To hell with it, I decided, I'll wear all black. I looked in my closet, but couldn't find my black shirt. It was now six pm, and we were officially late. I looked out the window, and there were two mountain lions under the pine tree, frantically having sex. Huh, I thought, look at that.

I went upstairs, not giving a crap about the fact that I was in my underwear. The doorbell rang. I opened it. It was Uncle Floyd and Soupy Sales. I asked Uncle Floyd if he remembered meeting me some twenty-two years ago. He said no, and why didn't I put on some pants? I was a little annoyed now - this party seemed interesting, why couldn't it had been another night? I confronted my mother in the kitchen and asked where my black shirt was. She said that she had sent all unfolded laundry to her friend's house when cleaning up for the party. Now I was pissed, and she was embarrassed because it was obviously a stupid idea. I went back downstairs and looked in the laundry room. There were five tiny driers in there, all full. I searched each one, but my black shirt wasn't there. My friend Kirsten (nee Kunna) was there, and I explained the situation. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to wear the ugly brown shirt.

Walking back to my room, it did occur to me that this was just like one of my typical frustration dreams, where I have some goal to reach and no matter what, things keep popping up in my way. My bedroom was filled with folding tables. Jen was sitting there, in her gown, along with Kirsten who was now holding a baby. Jen was annoyed because it was now 6:30 and the prom was underway. I said that I had to wear the brown shirt instead of the black, and she said good, she didn't like the black one, and get a move on.

At this point I woke up.

OK, any takers?

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ticking Away the Moments that Make Up a Dull Day...

Illustration Friday: Time

Click image for higher resolution.

I can't tell you how much of a ball-buster this picture was. First of all, 10k blades of grass make the computer cry. Forget even thinking about shadows and reflections. Ah well, it's done. Enjoy.

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dreaming

For those who are interested in such things, this week I've had two really bizarre dreams:

I was living in the house I grew up in. The elderly couple who were my next door neighbors in SC lived in the house next door. The old man was walking around our house in his underwear at 3am. His wife came over and collected him. She saw a box of bear claws (a type of pastry, for those who don't know) on top of the fridge and asked for one. I said sure, but the box was full of popcorn and de-frosting frozen chicken legs.

I was driving a truck for a contractor, but it's breaks went out. It hit the back of another truck, which sped off. I got out and took a bicycle out of the back. I tried riding it, but after a while, it became very difficult. I tried changing gears and I realized that the switch was missing. I got off to check the tires. Not only were they flat, they had holes in them. Why am I putting up with this, I asked myself. I came across a construction site and asked if they'd mind if I dumped the bike in a dumpster. One worker said he wanted the bike for parts and I gave it to him. I walked home.

Any ideas?

TTFN
-Tony

Monday, January 26, 2009

Stimulating, No?

OK, I've been watching the rhetoric ball go back and forth on this whole Obama stimulus package thingy, and I've had enough. Is there anywhere one can find - in detail - exactly what this package consists of? I've been searching for half an hour now, and all I've been able to find are editorials that either gloss over its supposed benefits ("It will provide relief, restore infrastructure, and create jobs!") or are just a blanket opposition ("It's socialism, a package deal that just hands money to democrat party special interest groups.") I want a list - dollar by dollar - of what this package consists of, and the years it's supposed to cover. Why is that so hard to find?

Come to think of it - why is ANY real information so hard to find on the internet these days? Why is it that in the "information age," a search on any subject almost automatically leads to advertisements for books or exclusive sites about that subject? OK, I'm getting off topic here, but it's a trend that's starting to annoy the piss out of me.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, January 23, 2009

What's Up Your Bottom?

I had a conversation with a friend today about how drugs and alcohol reduce inhibitions. This is why they're so plentiful at parties. I asked what would happen if no one had any inhibitions at all. My friend suggested that marriages would be destroyed because everyone would be having affairs, friendships would be ruined because everyone would say what they really thought about each other, and people would probably wind up killing each other.

To quote from the sci-fi classic, The Illuminatus Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson:
It is now theoretically possible to link the human nervous system into a radio network so that, micro-miniaturized receivers being implanted in people's brains, the messages coming out of these radios would be indistinguishable to the subjects from the voice of their own thoughts. One central transmitter, located in the nation's capital, could broadcast all day long what the authorities wanted the people to believe. The average man on the receiving end of these broadcasts would not even know he was a robot; he would think it was his own voice he was listening to. The average woman could be treated similarly.

It is ironic that people will find such a concept both shocking and frightening. Like Orwell's 1984, this is not a fantasy of the future but a parable of the present. Every citizen in every authoritarian society already has such a "radio" built into his or her brain. This radio is the little voice that asks, each time a desire is formed, "Is it safe? Will my wife (my husband/my boss/my church/my community) approve? Will people ridicule and mock me? Will the police come and arrest me?" This little voice the Freudians call "The Superego," with Freud himself vividly characterized as "the ego's harsh master."
So what do you think? Would a lack of inhibitions be the end of civilization as we know it, or would it create a life free of stress and anxiety, full of new and exciting works of art and innovations that the superego had suppressed?

TTFN
-Tony

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

I have, over my life, accumulated a few good friends - some of them female. And some of these female friends went on to marry and have daughters of their own. And some of them have complained to me at one point or other on the horrible example the media sets for their daughters. (My sister, for example, won't let her daughters watch any Disney cartoons because the heroines all count on a man to come and save them.) As the father of a beautiful young lady who watches television and movies, and I have to admit I just don't get it.



I became aware of this perspective in the late early nineties. Our female sex ed teacher berated us about... Dick and Jane books. Boy, did she hate those Dick and Jane books. See how the dog plays with the boy? See how the dog sleeps when the girl tells about the things she likes? Subliminal programing! The only problem is that these examples were from at least twenty years before any of us were born. I remember thinking... who honestly gives two shits? True, sexism did and does exist, but by the eighties anyone caught committing it anywhere near a school had their pants sued off of them.

Maybe it never seemed like a big deal because to me, the adult men on television had it much harder than the women. (The late great Issac Asimov said it much better than I in his essay, "Mr. Spock is Dreamy!") Almost every husband or father on television - Ralph Kramden, Al Bundy, Fred Flintstone, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin - was an idiot whose wives' IQs at least doubled theirs (with, perhaps, the exception of Peg Bundy.) These wives would at best roll their eyes at their husbands' dreams, at worst, take delight in detailing their past failures. And boy did these men dream. And fail, always because of their own stupidity. Maybe that was the worst example of all - don't try, you'll fail, you'll fail, you'll fail.

So tell me your tales. Was there a time when something you saw in the media made you feel inadequate? I'm not talking about being angry about a show portraying (men, women, soldiers, librarians, cops, penguins) in a way you don't like, I'm talking about something you saw as a child - a character in a movie, TV show or book, that honestly made you feel bad because you didn't measure up to it.

TTFN
-Tony

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Simulism Part II

A year ago, I posted a thought experiment on simulism. To keep it short, simulism is the idea that life as we know it may be just a computer simulation. Lately, I've been doing a bit of late-night-staring-at-the-ceiling pondering Zen riddles, such as, who - or what - exactly is "me." I've also been pondering - as I have in the past - the question of why human brains that have supposedly evolved for survival are so self-destructive. (Please see Kurt Vonnegut's novel Galapagos for further reading.) So, I've decided to do a mashup.

If you've ever played a role playing game - either in a fellow nerd's basement or online - you know how the system works: You play a character. When you want to do something, you roll a die or the computer picks a random number that decides if you are successful or not. That probability is influenced by your character's statistics. If you want to successfully smack someone upside the head with a morning star, your roll will be helped if you have high strength and agility statistics. Likewise, if you wish to seduce the Leslie Cohen Gollem, you need like twenty-five charisma points.

Now, what if the soul, or "me" or whatever is the player, and the mind is the character, with all of it's stats? You want to lose weight. g0d rolls the dice, and if your gluttony stat is too high, it probably won't happen. Or what about that living room that needs painting. If you're procrastination stat is up there, chances are it won't get done. No, I'm not trying to abdicate free will, but I've always been fascinated by how the human mind can fight itself tooth and nail against doing what it knows is in its best interest. Any thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony

PS - RIP, #6, and Khan Noonien Singh. One of my favorite heroes (click her for a previous Prisoner post) and villains, respectively. You will both be sorely missed.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Tony Soundtrack

Here's a fun little game: What songs do you think define you? Not your favorite songs, (if you notice "Joe's Garage" isn't on here, though it is such a toe-tapping tune,) but songs that relate something about yourself?

Here's my short list:

You Are What You Is - Frank Zappa
Hey Tomorrow - Jim Croce
Don't Worry, Be Happy - Bobby McFerrin (Yo, haters - I don't want to hear it!)
Brain Damage & Eclipse - Pink Floyd
I'll be Mellow when I'm Dead - Weird Al Yankovic
Where Have All the Average People Gone? - Roger Miller
Time - Pink Floyd
Those Were the Days - Mary Hopkin
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - Monty Python

Ok, what's your personal soundtrack? What songs say, "Hey, this is me... sometimes."?

TTFN
-Tony

1/9 Addendum:

I thought of 3 more songs that belong on the list, in no particular order:
Mr. Tanner - Harry Chapin
Flowers are Red - Harry Chapin
Through the Years - Kenny Rogers (Our wedding song!)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Who Do You Love?

The topic of self love was brought up in a recent conversation with a friend, and it got me thinking: Is there anyone out there who truly "loves" themselves? Does anyone even know someone who loves themselves? Therapists say we should, self-help books say we should, I tell my children that they should - but does anyone actually do it? What I'm asking is, is loving yourself really just an abstract feel-good-psychobabble goal that has no actual meaning? Could it be that humans are just naturally self-critical, and that is quite all right and we shouldn't worry about it?

Now self-pride is something else. That subject, I'm afraid, Ayn Rand hit on the nose: If you want to be proud of yourself, you have to actually do something to be proud of. The feeling is not going to come first out of thin air.

Any takers?

TTFN
-Tony

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Warning: Nerd ranting

Ok, I'm really pissed off at the new choice for Doctor. Does the once mysterious time traveler - who started out as an anti-hero grandfather with white hair for fuck's sake- keep having to get younger and younger just to keep the kids watching? Is the teenage girl squee factor all that matters anymore? Stephen Moffat has (thank God) taken the reins from Russell T Davies, but from their choice, I'm guessing the soap opera factor will continue.

Sigh. Time to pop another Jon Pertwee DVD in the player.

All right. Ranting aside, best of luck to Matt Smith, who at 26, is the youngest Doctor ever.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, January 02, 2009

Calling all Geeks, Nerds, and other Sci-fi fans.

For those who don't know, David Tennant is hanging up his key to the TARDIS and leaving Doctor Who at the end of this year. My friend Simon has informed me that the 11th Doctor will be announced tomorrow. As there haven't been any hints so far, here is my wish list:

8. Stephen Fry. Ok, he's a little on the large side, but maybe the Doctor could go old school and start using his mind to solve problems again. Also, he played a wonderfully disturbed Timelord in Death Comes to Time

7. Paul McGann: Not really, I know, but can we PLEASE go back in time and see how the 8th Doctor died? Please?

6. Ringo Starr. Don't mind me, I just think Ringo would be great in anything.

5. Eddie Izzard. Do I need to explain?

4. Rowan Atkinson. Not only did he unofficially play the 9th Doctor in the Curse of Fatal Death, he was actually considered to be the official 9th Doctor. Besides, they could always do a special where the Doctor meets Baldrick...

3. Michael Palin. Ok, if any of the Pythons were to play the Doctor, I would have wished it was Grahm Chapman, because then he could have said, "this is what we doctors call..." Unfortunately he had to up and die nineteen years ago, so Michael Palin would be my second choice. He seems to have a kind vulnerability around him. The only negative is that horrible toupee or hair implants or whatever he has these days - but many Doctors have worn hats in the past.

2. Richard E. Grant. Not only was he an unofficial 9th Doctor in Scream of the Shalka, he was also the self-described "mirror-licking-sexy" Doctor in The Curse of Fatal Death.

1. David Warner. Yes, he's old, but he's done a great job as the Doctor in the Big Finish Unbound adventures. And yes, it's quite all right for the Doctor to be old again.

All right, fellow nerds of the world, who do you think it should be?

TTFN
-Tony