Rants, Raves, & Random Thoughts

Shameless self-promotion of my writing skills or lack there of.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The Reverend Tom Poorme

I was watching the news the other night and saw a story that I can’t quite shake out of my mind. It began with a clip of card dealers being trained to work the Black Jack tables in a casino. The voice over began describing the plan that Governor Henry set into motion and how it will bring millions of dollars into our state that will go towards healthcare and education. Sounds good so far; we have some of the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. Oklahoma could really use the money.
They went on to interview several people who proudly declared that they used to go to Tunica, Kansas City, or any of a number of casinos once a year, but now would be able to keep that money in our community. What’s more since they have less expenses without a room or travel fare, they had larger budgets to gamble with.
Then they dropped the bomb: Of course not all Oklahomans are excited about the extended gaming. Opponents say that we will experience many painful and very expensive social consequences. We spoke to a man that we will call Tom. He lost his marriage and home because he developed a gambling problem.
They begin rolling footage of a dimly lit room with a large plant in the corner. Sitting beside the plant but obscured by shadows, is Tom. “What you will see is a dramatic rise in bankruptcy. The Divorce rates are going to soar and families will be torn apart. This is a vicious cycle that starts here.”
I half expected him to break into a southern Baptist preacher voice and declare that cards are evil, Capitol E, little v, little I, and giant L, evil. It wasn’t my fault that I took my mortgage to the blackjack table, the devil made me do it. Give me a freaking break. If you can’t afford to gamble, don’t and if you can’t control yourself, get help. But don’t expect the rest of us to deny an opportunity to better our children’s future, just because you are too weak to say no, Tom.
To further my point, since we have just legalized the extended gambling, I can only assume that he lost his home and marriage by throwing his money away in another state. If we would have had the games here, his stupidity could have help reduce the size of my son’s classroom. If they are going to gamble, they will do it whether we benefit from it or not. Don’t give me any of that, but now it is more accessible B.S. either. Where there’s a will there’s a way. There have been bookies and underground gambling in this state for a century. Which led to a certain amount of criminal activity that was by it’s nature forced to be associated with it. You lose big, can’t pay and get beat down or worse. Now these nefarious establishments should whither up and go away. What’s more, than money that was putting their children through private school will now improve the schools for all of our children.
I know I am coming off a little insensitive to the plight of the weak minded, but I do sympathize with them to a certain extent. Maybe they really don’t realize that they are flushing their whole lives down the toilet until they see the swirl picking up speed. Maybe they think their life is just a roller coaster ride with bigger peaks and valleys. It just so happens that their current valley is really deep. It is always possible that they don’t care enough to help themselves. Whatever, I just wished they would quit finding these assholes and putting them on TV.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

My Son the Superhero

“Dad, why is my name on there?” My son asked, looking over my shoulder as I typed yesterday’s post.
“Because I am writing about you.”
“You write about me?” He wondered, as his eyes grew wide with surprise.
“Yes, I write about you a lot actually.”
“What are you writing about?”
“Remember when we talked to you about singing during a movie?”
“Yeah.” He answered hesitantly.
“Well I am writing about that and about how you tried to make us feel guilty about getting on to you about it.”
“Don’t tell them about living under the stairs I was just playing about that.”
“Why don’t you want me to tell them that?”
“Because they are going to think I am a brat.” He exclaimed before his bottom lip began to protrude in a pout.
“Well, if you think it makes you sound like a brat, why did you say it?”
“I didn’t know you were going to tell everybody about it.”
“Good rule of thumb, son: If you don’t want something you have said repeated, chances are it is not worth saying in the first place.”

“Can you write about anything?”
“Within reason.”
“Could you make me a superhero?”
“Maybe.”
“You could have me save Neo at the end of the Matrix.”
“Wow, that is pretty imaginative. Anything else come to mind?”
“How about Daredevil, or Spiderman or..”
“No, I can’t make you into any characters that already exist.”
“Why not? I thought you said that you can write anything.”
“I am not going to just rename someone else’s character to put you in a story about them.”
“Ok, then just surprise me. Just don’t make me look like a dork if anyone reads it.”

So without further ado:

The entire planet was in chaos. Magic had been reborn to the world of man and he wasn’t wise enough to know what to do with it or how to defend himself against it.

In the years when men still lived with the animals, the Nunne’hi (a race of spirit creatures) discovered a way to harness the Orenda (the life force that binds all living things). Knowing that all things must strive to maintain a balance, they created two amulets to channel the power.

The Nunne’hi used the power to change the face of the earth. They moved mountains and created deserts where oceans once lapped their shores. Once they realized what they had done, they decided the amulets were too powerful to be used. They tried to destroy them, but nothing they tried could rend them asunder. Finally, they decided to bury them deep within the belly of the earth.

Tyler grew up hearing tales of the Nunne’hi. When he saw the strange happenings of the world, he knew that someone had found one of the Amulets. He had to find the other one. Not knowing where to begin, he went to an old medicine man that still lived on the Res in Oklahoma.

“Tell me then, Grandfather. Where should I look?”
“Look to the Nunne’hi.”
“And where would I find them?”
“Go to the sweat lodge on the night of the next full moon. Fast there until the next full moon. You must recite a sacred prayer every ten breaths as long as you are awake. If you are found worthy, they will come to you.”

Every man, woman and child were gripped by terror as every mythical creature ever conceived sprang into existence. Giants and dragons battling for dominance plagued America. Gremlins infested every piece of machinery in the world. Production of nearly everything we had come to rely on to live ground to a halt. Still no one took credit for these deeds. The leaders of every country met and accused each other of causing the problems. If they could operate their weapons they would wage war to stop the insanity.

Tyler did as instructed and found the first few days passed with ease. Suddenly, the door to his room creaked open. A smiling young maiden stepped through carrying a plate full of grilled steak. The aroma nearly drove him insane. He almost quit reciting his prayer.

“My mistress says that you shouldn’t be doing this. She sends this food as a peace offering.”
“Who is you mistress?” He asked at the end of a prayer.
“Her name is Anna.”
“Tell her she must stop, before she destroys the world.”
“She swears that you and yours will be safe, but the world is in need of a change.”
“Be gone and take word to your mistress that I must decline.”
“She will be most disappointed.”
“Then send my regrets, for I will continue to disappoint her.”

The maiden returned every night and made him the same offer. Every night Tyler refused, though his stomach begged him to take but a taste of the meat she laid before him.

As the moon spilled through the cracks of the wall on the 28th night, the door opened as it had every night since he began the fast and again the maiden entered bearing a plate. This time it was covered with a cloth.

“Are you sure I couldn’t talk you into breaking your fast?”
“I am sure.” He answered in a voice that was barely more than a whisper. He was weak to the point of collapsing and his voice was hoarse from his prayers.
“Then you must die!” She hissed as she pulled a dagger from beneath the cloth.
She lunged at Tyler with a snarl. He was too weak to resist so he just closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain to come as the knife entered his flesh.

He slowly opened one eye when the pain never came. He saw the body of the maiden crumpled on the ground across the room.

“Grandfather! Did you spare my life?” He called out thinking the medicine man had returned in time to save him.
“No, we did.” A voice filled the air as faces materialized all around him.
“I am forever in your debt.”
“We know why you have summoned us. Why should we give you the other stone?”
“You do not have to give it to me, but will you at least use it to stop Anna?”
“We can not wield it against man. This would create a further unbalance. Only a human can wield the stone against her.”

“Then take me to her and only give me the stone long enough to take hers away. Then you can take them both.”
“You don’t want to keep the stone?”
“No one should have that much power. What is the old saying? If power corrupts then absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

“Very well, the amulet is yours.” The Nunne’hi said as the rose colored amulet appeared on the ground in front of him.

“Where will I find her?”
“When you wear the amulet you will know where she is.”
“Does that mean she will know where I am as well?”
“Of course.”
“Then I shouldn’t put the amulet on until I have eaten and rested.”
“If you wear the amulet, you will not need to eat or rest.”

Tyler removed his necklace and slid it through the eyelet of the amulet. As his fingers touched the stone, power began to course through his body. He felt like he has just awaked from a full night’s sleep. His hunger was replaced by a feeling of bliss. He slid the necklace around his neck and was overwhelmed by the sense of power that he felt. His mind was bombarded by a million different thoughts as he struggled to take control of the Orenda. Within a blink of an eye his mind had come to terms with his body and he knew how to wield the stone.

“It’s like it comes with it’s own user’s manual.” He quipped as he turned back to the Nunne’hi.
“You now have the ability to create or destroy in any way you see fit. Use it wisely.” They warned.

He closed his eyes and saw Anna sit up on her sofa. She felt his mental probe and immediately knew his intentions. Although she was sitting in a high rise in Madrid, he knew that he could reach her in a matter of seconds. He laughed aloud as he manipulated the Orenda to transform his body into light and launched himself into the night sky. Anna quickly followed suit and they met each other half way, hovering high above the Atlantic Ocean.

The amulets made them equal in every way. Power, speed and intelligence were all amplified by the power of the Orenda. They set about the other’s defeat in a flurry of movement. They darted in and around one another like hummingbirds at a feeder. They hurled fireballs and ice, brought mighty waves up to their height and summoned hurricanes to gain the upper hand. They fought a mighty battle that spanned days and even weeks. As Anna felt her power drain she slowly reclaimed the power she spent to create her mythical creatures.

It didn’t take long for the world notice them. Helicopters and airplanes flew as close as they dared to film the epic battle. The people of earth huddled around their television sets watching in awe as these mighty titans duked it out.

As the sun rose on the 29th day, Tyler’s eyes grew wide. He clutched at his chest, gasping for air as he plummeted to the churning water below. Sensing her victory was finally close. Anna swooped in for the kill. Just as she reached for his throat, Tyler’s arm sprang out and snatched the amulet from around her throat. He had only been playing possum.

She screamed in terror as she felt the power leave her body. She thrashed about in the Ocean, not sure which direction she should swim, but certain that she wouldn’t have the strength to make it to land. She screamed again as Tyler snatched her from certain doom.

“Why did you save me?” She asked once they were safely on ground.
“Because I don’t believe that you are a bad person. I believe that you just let the power get the best of you.”

Tyler returned to the sweat lodge to find the Nunne’hi waiting patiently for him.
“Take them both and hide them far from the reaches of man.” He said with a laugh as he returned both Amulets.

“As a reward for your service, you will be allowed to retain certain powers: No man made object will ever be able to pierce your skin. You will never age another day for as long as the earth turns. Your speed will equal that of the rockets that reach for the moon and your senses will be sharper than any other creature on the planet.”

“Why would you grant me such powers?”
“Because you are now tasked with being the protector of man. Use your powers well and wisely young friend.”

As he walked home, he thought of everything that had happened and he promised himself that he would do everything in his now considerable power to see to it that he never disappointed the Nunne’hi.



Thursday, January 27, 2005

Who Let the Dogs In?

The smallest member of my family rules my house. You probably think I am talking about my son. You would be wrong. Gigi, my Boston Terrier just about has us all trained to her liking. She scratches at the door; we jump. We sit down to watch TV and she barks until we throw something at her. It’s not that she is afraid of the tennis ball, stuffed toy, etc, it’s that she wants to play and by throwing something she gets her way.
We also have a Great Dane (Yes, he lives inside, which in retrospect might not have been the best idea) for her to torment. We weren’t sure how they would get along because Bhodi was an only dog for several years, but Gigi wasted no time in showing him who was the boss. All kidding aside, for as much aggravation as she gives him, he is nothing but gentle with her. When she pushes too far, he doesn’t bite; he takes his head and uses it to roll her across the carpet before barking at her a couple of times. That maneuver usually buys him a couple of hours reprieve.
Gigi absolutely loves to play tug-o-war. You would think that this would always be a one sided battle between the dogs. I would also have put good money on that one, but for the time that I watched Bhodi get drug to his feet by a rope with a tenacious little Gigi yanking on the other end. It has become one of my favorite party tricks (Much to Bhodi’s dismay).
Gigi is a relatively small, even for a Boston Terrier, but she has the loudest snore I have ever heard in my life. She will literally drown out the TV when she falls asleep on my lap. During a TV program isn’t so bad, it’s the middle of the night that seems to be getting to me. My wife could sleep through a hurricane, but I carry the curse of being one of the lightest sleepers on the planet. I am sure of it. I keep thinking that my body will get used to having her in the room (It’s not like the snoring is sporadic), but she still manages to wake me up several times a night. I went for nearly a month with little or no sleep. I nearly had a psychotic episode. I now keep a set of earplugs by the bed. If I feel myself getting a little “edgy”, the ear plugs go in. It’s best for all concerned.
Why don’t I just kick her out of the bedroom, you ask? Because she’s the baby. That and if she is left to her own devices she will chew up everything she can get her little teeth on. I'm not quite sure how to break her of that one. My wife keeps telling me that she will grow out of it, I can only pray she is right. If not for me, for my son. His toys seem to be her favorite. We keep telling him that he has to remember to shut his bedroom door, but he forgets more than he remembers.
I love my pets, but the more time I spend with my latest edition, the more I come to appreciate… my fish.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Child's Spray

For about the last month, my son has been pestering me to buy him his very own bottle cologne. I keep explaining to him that a seven year old really doesn’t have to worry about smelling good, but he just doesn’t seem to believe me.

Last weekend, I compromised and bought him one of those little cans of Axe body spray. Needless to say, he was ecstatic. He must have “freshened himself up” at least once an hour for that first day. Fearing that my house would soon smell like some sort of all male brothel (excuse me while I suppress a shudder), I convinced him that he should only use it once a day. Even though he couldn’t smell it anymore everyone else in the house, and probably the block for that matter, could.

By Tuesday morning, he had his technique down. He hadn’t quite doused his entire body and he resisted the urge to spray on more after he was fully dressed for school.

I picked him up from school and he was sporting a grin from ear to ear. Obviously someone had commented on his new smell.

“Dad! Guess what happened to me today.” He said as he slammed the car door.
“Don’t slam the door son, I’ve asked you not to do that at least a hundred times.”
“Oops, I forgot again, but can you guess what happened?” He asked, more concerned with his story than the stupid door.
“Your teacher handed out your spelling words for the week and you already knew all of them?”
“Uh, no. Ms. Grisham in the lunch room said I smelled really good.” He said, his chest swelled with pride.
“Do tell?” I said with a shake of my head.
“And you know what else?” He pressed, nonplussed by my apparent lack of excitement.
“What’s that son?”
“She was right.” He said as he started dancing in the back seat to the song that came on the radio.
“Whew, I am glad we bought you the body spray then. I almost bought you canned flatulence, but your mom wouldn’t let me.” I teased, trying not to think that the way he was dancing reminded me of a bobble-head doll.
“What’s that? Is it “alone” like yours? (He still can’t quite remember what cologne is called.)
“No, it is a poot.” I said through a laugh.
“Why would I want to smell like that? Does someone actually put that stuff in a can?” He asked, wrinkling up his face in disgust.
“No, it was joke. I was just messing with you.” I explained, wondering exactly were it went wrong.
“Dad?” He asked timidly.
“Yeah, son.”
“Does mom think your funny?” I asked, staring at me in my rearview mirror.“Well, yeah. She says I’m a riot.” I explained, causing him to break into the chorus of Zoot Suit Riot. What else could I do? I just shrugged, turn down the radio, and sung with him the rest of the way home.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Ok, I admit it. I am a Sunday night HBO junkie. Sure, there are a few network shows that I watch (most notably Las Vegas and Scrubs), but nothing pulls me in like a good HBO series.

I watched OZ with a morbid fascination that I can only akin to slowing down to check out a car wreck. I know I shouldn’t have been so interested, but I watched it anyway. I was disappointed when they wrapped that series up.

The Sopranos is one of my all time favorite shows. It is a wonderful show about a family struggling to stick together in the face of adversity. Tony stresses the importance of family and impresses on us a certain amount of family values. Ah, who am I trying to kid? Everybody knows it is a down and dirty mob show and that is what I love about it. I can’t believe this year is going to be the last for this show. It will be missed.

Watching HBO on Sunday nights can also be educational. For instance, I had no idea that the f-bomb was used so much in the 1880’s (Deadwood) or that the life of an actor is all fun, games and hotties (Entourage). The Wire teaches us that the Baltimore PD drink more than the drug dealers and are physically incapable of staying in a monogamous relationship.

The family in Six Feet Under makes me appreciate my own family even more. There are members of my family that have problems but the Fishers are seriously messed up!

Carnivale has just started its second season and already has my friends abuzz with the possibilities. It is a story about good vs. evil, but you are never really sure exactly who is playing for which side. I can’t wait for tomorrow to see what happens next.

Last, but not least, we have my wife’s favorite show: Sex and the City. As the series progressed, I soon realized that this show was quickly becoming one of my guilty pleasures. Most every man I know speaks of this show with oozing contempt. It is something that their girlfriends and/or wives made them watch. Yet they all watched it. I for one think it was great. I will probably pick up all of the seasons on DVD (for my wife, of course). Isn’t there some holiday coming up that would be suitable for giving such gifts?

Now that I have said all of that, I purchased the 1st season of a series yesterday and you will never guess which one it was. Nope, try again. You will never guess, so I will just tell you. It was Las Vegas. Go figure.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Another Man's Treasure

My mom loves to go to garage sales. My son loves to go to garage sales with my mom. Anytime he spends the night with her, that is what they do the first thing the next morning. Actually, the first thing would be the huge spread she cooks for his breakfast, and then they hit the sales in search of the next greatest lost treasure.

About two months ago, she bought Ty his first CD. He was digging through a box and found one that he just had to have: Freddie Jackson’s Life after 30.

On the car ride home, he begged and pleaded until we put the CD in my deck.
“Dad, please! You are going to love it; I swear.”
“I have never even heard of him, son. What makes you so sure I will like it?”
“Look at the front of the case. How could the music not be cool?”
“Have you ever heard this guy’s music before?” I asked wondering how he could have.
“I think I have heard of him, but I couldn’t tell you the name of the song.” My wife piped in.
“Yeah dad, he is all over the radio.”
“Fine, give me the CD”

I listened to every song with an open mind, but I’ve gotta tell you; I am not a big fan. My son on the other hand thinks it is the greatest CD in the world. Every time we are in the car, he is constantly begging for us to play his CD.

“Didn’t I tell you to leave that at the house?”
“I didn’t hear you. Since I did bring it can we at least play it?”

Of course, he has never asked for a CD before so he doesn’t have a CD player in his room. It didn’t take us long to realize that drastic measures were going to have to be taken to prevent either of us from over loading on Ty’s new CD. Track number 2 gets the most play, he really seems to like that one.

Anyhoo, we discussed our options after he went to bed the other night. If we buy him a CD player for his room, then we start the long battle of, “Turn that darned radio down, now!” way earlier than I was expecting. On the other hand I don’t know if I can handle another road trip of A) All she really wanted was a real good man Or B) listening to my son whine about how it is the only time he gets to listen to it (we have banned him from playing it in the house). Or C) telling him to knock it off and watch him mope around for the rest of the trip because I got onto him for getting excited about music. We opted to give him a portable CD player with headphones. Problem solved, right? You would think, but sadly, no, this isn’t the case.

Last night we settled in to watch a few movies we rented and Ty kicked back in his chair with the headphones on. As the movie rolled on, my son began to sing. Of course, since he had the volume on the headphones turned up he had to sing loud enough to be able to hear himself.
“Ty.” I called to which I got no response.
“Ty.” I called again, but this time a little louder.
“Ty!” I bellowed, getting his attention.
“What?” He asked pulling the headphones off of his ears.
“We are trying to watch a movie, could you please not sing out loud?”
“No problem dad.”

We resumed the movie and not five minutes later, my son was singing again.

“Ty!!” I bellowed again, this time cutting right to the chase.
“What?” He asked pulling the headphones off of his ears again.
“You are still singing. Keep it down a little.”
“Don’t you like the way I sing?”
“It’s not that. We are watching a movie and part of watching a movie is listening to the dialogue between the characters so that the images on the screen make since. So could you please stop singing, so that we can understand what is going on in the movie?”
“Oh, ok. No problem dad.”

He actually waited a good ten minutes this time before he started singing again.
“Ty!” My wife and I yelled in unison.
“What?”
“Turn off the head phones or go to your room.”
“So, you don’t want me to sing any more?”
“Not while the movie is on.”
“If you don’t want me to sing down here, I guess I will just have to go live under the stairs.”
“Where did that come from?”
“Ah, that was a great movie.” My wife said.
“Oh yeah, I had forgot all about that, but I doubt if he would have seen that anywhere.”
“Well then he is trying to have himself a little pity-party so that we will feel sorry for him and let him have his way.”
“Am not.”
“Yes, you are.”
“Am not.”
“Pity-party, pity- party”
“Stop it. Dad, mom is hurting my feelings.”
“Ah, am I hurting your feelers?”
“Children! Knock it off. If you feel that strongly about living under the stairs, I will help you move your stuff under there. I don’t think you bed will fit though so you will just have to sleep on the floor with some blankets.”
“I don’t want to live under the stairs.”
“Too late, you already said that you were going to.”
“No take backs” Mom added with a snicker.
“But I was just playing; I really don’t want to live under there.”
“Well, I will make you a deal. I will let you stay in your room if you promise to quit singing Freddie Jackson while we are watching movies.”
“No problem, dad.”
“Yeah, I had a feeling you were going to say that.”

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Going to the Big D

Only 45 days to go. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? Perhaps it doesn’t. More than likely, it just depends on the subject. For instance, if I were to tell one of my employees that they were suspended without pay for 45 days; that would be a long time. What if you were told that you had only 45 days to live? Then 45 days suddenly becomes a very short time indeed.
An example, that I can readily identify with, would be if my dentist told me that he would have to peel my gums back so that he could work on my roots then sew them back together every 45 days. Again, 45 days suddenly seems like a blink of an eye. What a strange example, you say and most days I would agree. However, last Friday my dentist did some major work on the left side of my mouth. I have been fighting to find a good balance of pain and painkillers every since. You see it turns out that pain makes me a little cranky and painkillers make me irritable. Yeah, I’m sure I have been a joy to be around the last few days. I know, I know: “Quit being such a baby. It’s just a little dental work. Don’t you know that women can give birth without any pain medicine and whine less than you?” Whatever, my mouth hurts.
As an added bonus, my mind seems to be barely more than mush. I seem to be having the darndest time sticking to one train of thought. Gibberish seems to have ruled the weekend. It is much better today, but by no means over. I am hoping to make it the entire day tomorrow without (a.) taking any pain medicine and (b.) taking anyone’s head off.
Oh, I almost forgot. What was the significance of 45 days? We only have 45 days until ConDFW commences. This will be my first convention and I am really not sure what to expect. I hope it is a good opportunity to meet other writers and make some knew friends. I will have to admit that I am a little afraid that the other attendees will already be friends and are not looking for anymore. Which as I read back over that last sentence sounds almost ridiculous and I can only assume that the painkillers must cause a little paranoia. How could everyone at a convention already know each other? I have a few stupid questions that I haven’t been able to find on the website. What do I wear? Do I go with jeans and sweater, business casual, suit and tie or bathrobe and slippers (which would be my preferred work attire if I had it my way)? What’s the deal? I will probably just go with business casual and bring along all four just in case.
Hopefully, I will see some of you there. I will be the shy guy in the corner wearing the shirt, tie, jeans, and big pink bunny slippers.

Minimum Wage Woes

I heard a proposal during the presidential debates that sounded great at the time but once I had some time to mull it over, actually scares the hell out of me.

“We should raise the minimum wage to $7.00 per hour.”

Wow that would help a lot of struggling families. It would put more money in the pockets of the people, who in turn will put more money in the economy. Sounds great.

Where will the companies come up with the extra $1.85 per hour, per employee that is at minimum wage, they will now be paying in overhead? Will they just take it out of their profit margin? The safe money bets that they will raise their prices to compensate.

What’s more, if they are a company that feeds products up to a bigger company, then the next company up the chain has to deal with the extra $1.85 per employee and the extra cost to buy their materials.

Before long, everyone is raising their prices until they reach equilibrium. The cost of living has just gone up nationally to reflect these changes. The seven dollars that is earned now has the same buying power as the $5.00 did before the raise. So the illusion of more money will only last for a year or so, until the economy re-stabilizes.

Cool, no harm no foul; they had a brief moment that they saw a bigger number on their paychecks and it made them feel good. When the cost of living goes up they are no worse off than they were before.

What happens to the families that have been working hard and have gotten raises that have them currently sitting at $7.00 per hour or just over? Or anyone else that doesn’t make minimum wage? Will our employers just automatically raise everyone else’s wages as well? Of course not, so when the economy adjusts and the cost of living increases, it will feel like everyone else that works in the nation just got a $2.00 per hour pay cut.

Now, not only do you have the people making minimum wage struggling to make ends meet, you have families that were making above minimum wage struggling when they weren’t before.

I realize that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 1997, and families that are trying to sustain themselves at this wage could use the extra money, but aren’t there government subsidies in place to do that very thing?

I don’t know, maybe I am just an asshole, but I say leave it were it is. I don’t think our economy is strong enough right now to absorb such a change.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Quest

I have traveled far and scoured the world
On a quest for the heart of a dark haired girl

With skin so soft that my temperature rises
Her body, so beautiful, holds many surprises

One look from her eyes starts my blood to boil
Makes a carefree man like a dog so loyal

She chained my heart on the night we first met
With fire and passion, so wild so wet

My soul burns for the smile in my dreams
To hold her in my arms near that rushing stream
To give her my love while the angels sing

My love was pure, strong, and bold
Whilst I watched her strip from head to toe

My mind reeled, my heart beat wild
My hands shook like a frightened child

Never such beauty have mine eyes beheld
My mind succumbed to her charms as my blood slowly swelled

We shared our bodies like fiends possessed
We gave each other everything, nothing more, nothing less

She caught my eye and gave me a smile
A smile that stopped the hands of time
Before she whispered in my ear, your soul is mine!

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Rest of the Rents

It has been brought to my attention that I still owe the blog a couple of movie reviews from my rentals over the weekend. These are merely in the order that I watched them and in no way reflective of how they ranked in my overall viewing experience. Ahem, drum roll please.

Selection #1: Dodgeball

A heart-warming tale that pits the owner of a multi-million dollar gym (Ben Stiller) against the lovable, yet depressingly broke, owner of a dilapidated gym across the street (Vince Vaughn). It would appear that all hope is lost for Average Joe’s Gym until they realize that they can earn the money to save their gym by playing dodge ball. Yes, that mighty sport from the playgrounds of our memories. It is a sport that shaped heroes and shamed the weak. Will the weak overcome the strong this time and win one for the masses (or at least the ones that had their confidence shattered in the 3rd grade)? You will just have to watch it and see.

Bonus: If you do watch this movie, be sure to sit through the closing credits or you will miss Ben Stiller sporting huge man-breasts and singing: “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.” That alone was worth the price of admission. Err… at least the price of the rental.

Selection #2: The Girl Next Door

I rented this movie expecting another movie about teen angst in the tradition of American Pie or (Wow, they all seem to be blurring together now) any number of movies along those lines. Boy, was I wrong; it was a movie about teen angst in the tradition of Risky Business. So much so, that my wife and have officially declared this the ’04 remake of the movie that sent Tom into stardom. They major differences being that Tom Cruise got into trouble by falling for a hooker and was subsequently taught a lesson by her pimp. Emile Hirsch got into trouble falling for a porn star and was subsequently taught a lesson by her producer.

I don’t want to sound too harsh, because I actually did enjoy the movie. It was funny, yet carried a serious message, and tugged at the heartstrings in all the right places. It just, well, shared several amazing similarities with Risky Business. In short, I was glad I rented it, because I would have felt a little cheated if I saw this one in the theaters.

Selection #3: The Chronicles of Riddick

This movie takes place several years after Pitch Black. The last surviving Furion, Riddick (Vin Diesel) arrives on the planet New Mecca to find the man responsible for putting a huge bounty on his head. The story takes a drastic turn when he discovers that the bounty was put there because he was needed to save the world, nay, the entire universe from the invading armies of the Necromongers.

This was one of the most visually stimulating movies that I have watched in a long time. The special effects and attention to even the most minute of details, guarantees that I will watch this one again, if for no other reason than to see what I missed in the background the first time around. What this movie lacks in original plot, it certainly makes up for with “in your face” action. If you are a Sci-Fi lover, you will love this movie, plain and simple.

So there you have it; I exposed myself to: Zombies with a moral undertone, space vampires from the planet Comptonia, average Joes turned dodge ball legends, porn star prom dates, and last but not least a criminal that saves the universe. All in all, it was not a bad way to spend an evening (or two).

Be sure to tune in next week when I review Freakazoids from the Planet Whazupia. It is a epic tale about a group of space vampires that challenge a group of average zombies to a game of hide and seek, but inadvertently free a race of pornmongers bent on the destruction of the universe. One man has the power to stop the invasion, but he throws a send off party in Comptonia and in the words of Dr. Hook: “He got stoned and he missed it.”

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Weekend Disaster and Movie Reviews

After spending most of the morning taking down and putting away Christmas decorations, we decided that an evening of movie rentals was in order. I picked five movies in all, so it looks like that is all we will be doing for the rest of the weekend or so I thought.

We made it through the first movie without a hitch. It was Shaun of the Dead, a semi parody of Dawn of the Dead or any other zombie movie of the last decade or so for that matter. While I was expecting a Weird Al take on Dawn of the Dead, it turned out to be quite the well planned out zombie movie. Conveying such ideas as: overcoming personal adversity and rising to the occasion, mending relationships with family and friends, and of course my favorite, if you are an arrogant ass, you will be eaten by zombies. Parody or no, I still wouldn’t recommend this movie to the faint of heart. It is still a zombie movie and quite graphic when dealing with the deaths of characters. To everyone else, have at it; it is definitely worth the rental fee.

I took quite a bit of flack for my next selection and in retrospect, rightfully so. I picked up the only copy (usually a bad sign) of Dracula 3000. It turns out that Count Dracula is actually from the planet Transylvania. There is also a planet Comptonia that is populated by weed smoking, gun toting “gangstas”. Heh, who knew? As you might have already guessed, The good Count, by the strangest of coincidences, finds himself on a spaceship battling it out with a direct descendant of Van Helsing. Now don’t get me wrong, I love B movies and I was pretty sure that this one was going to be a little cheesy, but I was not prepared for what I witnessed. It was just well, bad. To quote Forrest Gump: “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Our night of movie watching was cut short. My wife was making a trip to the kitchen for refills on our refreshments, when she noticed the wet spot (She had found it earlier in the day and cleaned/dried it up) on the carpet in the Dining room had gotten bigger. This was a mind-boggling development. It was a good 2 ft from any wall and there is nothing but concrete under that area of the room. It was, however, directly across from the air intake of our ventilation system. I popped open the access and discovered that it was full of water. Apparently, the padding had soaked up the water everywhere else that it had spread. My water heater was leaking. We still don’t know how extensive the damage is. I called the plumber out last night, but he wasn’t able to make it out until today. I shut the water off and drained the tank. Of course, this means that we can’t take showers until this issue is resolved (hopefully today or I’m hitting a motel).

It looks like I am starting the New Year out with a bang. On the plus side, with a start like this, it should stand to reason that I have nowhere to go but up from here.

I will give you the skinngy on the other three movies once I have my house back in order. Until then Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Maxims for Better living

There has been a rather lively debate over on the Whatever (John Scalzi) blog. It ensued over some comments being made about his views on religion and his stance on explaining Christmas to his daughter. The argument (if you could call it that) prompted John to write seven Maxims for Non-Believers:

1. Being a non-believer does not mean you have to be intolerant of those who believe.

2. Being a non-believer does not mean you have to be ignorant of the beliefs of those around you.

3. Being a non-believer doesn't mean you need to keep your children ignorant of the beliefs around you either. Withholding information from your children is a very bad way to help them make responsible decisions.

4. Being a non-believer does not mean you can't empathize with the religious impulse in others.

5. Being tolerant of belief, knowledgeable about beliefs and empathetic toward the desire for belief does not make one less of a non-believer. It makes one tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic.

6. I believe that my tolerance, knowledge and empathy makes my own non-belief stronger, because I know why other people believe, and why I don't.

7. I believe that in being tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic toward believers, I encourage those who believe to be tolerant, knowledgeable and empathetic toward me.

After reading these words that inspire tolerance, a commenter (Devin Ganger) was so moved that he sat down and crafted seven Maxims for Believers:

1. Being a believer does not give me cause to be intolerant of those who do not share my beliefs.

2. Being a believer does not make it acceptable to be ignorant of others' beliefs or lack thereof.

3. Being a believer does not make it acceptable to keep my children ignorant of the beliefs around me, nor do I need to hide from them the fact that many choose not to believe. My beliefs are not as valuable as I think if I can only successfully pass them by encouraging ignorance and committing acts of omission.

4. Because I am a believer who values my ability to choose my beliefs, I should empathize with the beliefs or lack thereof in others.

5. Being tolerant of, knowledgeable about, and empathetic towards the beliefs or lack thereof in others does not make me less of a believer. It makes me tolerant, knowledgeable, and empathetic.

6. I believe that my tolerance, knowledge, and empathy make my own belief more personally genuine because I know why I believe and why other people do not.

7. I believe that in being tolerant, knowledgeable, and empathetic toward those who do not share my beliefs, I encourage them to be tolerant, knowledgeable, and empathetic toward me.

Both of these lists are finely crafted and well thought out. They are a testament to the power of the written word to sway the minds and hearts of man. I hope reading these posts will breed more tolerance in the world.

Having said that, I was also compelled to make a variation of the Maxims. Since John and Devin had already covered the major Believer vs. Non-Believer sector, I decided to write mine about something that I am familiar with: Being an asshole. So I hereby present seven Maxims for Assholes:

1. Being an asshole gives me every right to be intolerant of those around me and tell them about it at every opportunity.

2. Being an asshole makes it acceptable to skate through life being completely oblivious to my effect on others.

3. Being an asshole gives me every right to do whatever the hell I want with my children. They are mine to mentally scar at random and don’t give me any that “it takes a village” crap. I’m probably not listening anyway, see maxim #2

4. Because I am an asshole who values my ability to piss people off, I should welcome any and all efforts to make me see the error of my ways and take great delight in smiting them down with heavy blows.

5. Being able to hold my tongue when faced with rather large or numerous adversaries does not make me less of an asshole. It makes me a smart asshole that values my own hide, just slightly more than I value my own opinion.

6. I believe that my understanding of just how truly ignorant those around me are, is explanation enough for why I am an asshole.
7. I believe that being an asshole is the one thing that can bridge any and all ethnic, religious, socio-economic, political affiliations and sexual preference gaps to unite people from all walks of life to a common cause. (Unfortunately, it is usually to stand against an a$$hole not with him, but at least they have been brought

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