Strange Brouhaha

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Kill Me!

(As Alf used to say.)

We went out to breakfast on Saturday, since we had a lot of stuff to get done, and we were all talking, for some reason, about how small children mispronounce the word "cinnamon."

The Child wanted to share a cinnamon roll with me. So I said, "Synonym Roll! It's a kind of bun!"

Maybe you had to be there.

CNN Makes It Easy

Jim Carrey made a PSA on behalf of Aung San Suu Kyi. CNN wrote an article about it. The first sentence is, "Jim Carrey has made a straight-to-YouTube video. And it's not funny at all."

How exactly is that different for him?

Monday, August 27, 2007

King's X

After what Josh and Savannah were talking about a few Mondays ago, here's some King's X. It really does suck that they never got the fame and money that is their due.

On the other hand, I do remember when "Faith Hope Love" came out, and we were all pretty dumbfounded and, as I remember, we thought that they were being too deliberately bizarre and oblique in their lyric-writing. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

Goldilox. Nice harmonies. And I love Ty Tabor's tone, too, truly tops.

Black Flag. That TONE!

Here's a song from Ogre Tones. I need to pick this album up.


Here are some Overkill videos. I dig Ellsworth's voice, and it's amazing that it really hasn't changed all that much. (Mildly humorous anecdote: I conned Hammer drummer Chris Jackson into naming our Psychology rat "Rat Skates" after Overkill's original drummer.)

These are not videos to be shared with children or individuals who are sensitive to curse words. Especially not the last video. No no no.



We don't care what you say...

I'll just link to the last one. From the same gig as the above, here's my personal favorite, "I Hate".

Friday, August 24, 2007

I'm Tired...Tired Of Playing The Game...

I haven't seen Blazing Saddles in a while. I should borrow it from the library. At any rate, here's a Friday Five from

1. What were the circumstances surrounding your last all-nighter? The Blitz I did in 2006. I stayed up all night and wrote something that got slaughtered on the stage the next evening.

2. What’s your favorite stay-awake-and-alert food or drink? Anything to hand. I don't care for caffeinated beverages; I find that if I eat and/or drink every hour or so, that's enough.

3. What are you most likely to be doing when you’re up in the late, late hours of the night? Reading a book. In fact, I was so engrossed in Robert J. Sawyer's "Rollback" the other day that at 10:30 I said "One more chapter" and was still saying it at 12:30. Either that or coding, I suppose.

4. In what way does your personality change when you are sleep-deprived? If I'm tired and over-caffeinated, I get really wacky and can't shut up. If I'm just tired, I think I get a little bitchy and critical.

5. If you get home extremely tired and extremely hungry, which need are you most likely to satisfy first? That's never a contest. I eat. Then I sleep.

Why Five?

I mean, obviously it's because Friday and Five begin with F, and Fifteen or Forty-two would be a bit unwieldy, but why limit yourself? Here's Five on Friday. I love telling the story of my wisdom teeth, which is why I'm answering this one.

1. How do you feel about going to the dentist?
I don't like it. I recognize the need, but that doesn't really make me excited about the process. I feel the same about all sorts of medical interaction.

2. Describe your worst dental experience. I had my wisdom teeth out when I was in college. I forget what year it was, probably 89 or 90, probably in the winter because if it was summer I would have had to miss some work. My dad drove me down to the dentist. They took me in, sat me down, and gave me a local. I don't remember all of the particulars, but the following things stick out in my mind: first, it hurt; second, you don't want to hear the dentist call on the Lord and decry the difficulty of pulling your teeth ("Jesus, this is hard"); third, you don't want to have him stop drilling and say "Oops." I was REALLY unnerved by the "Oops." Turns out that they broke the drill in my mouth and we had to stay while they x-rayed the jar full of fluid they had sucked out to make sure the bit was in there.

I believe I've mentioned this before, but I was all He-Man about the painkillers and refused to even get the prescription filled. Never gonna make that mistake again.

3. Describe your best dental experience. Is there such a thing? I'm like Winston Smith when it comes to the dentist. Do it to Julia, not to me.

4. Do you floss? Yes, although not as often as you're supposed to.

5. Would you consider wearing braces as an adult? If I had to. If it was just to straighten my teeth, then no, but if I needed them to fix my teeth so that I could eat, yes. My jaws are kind of messed up and could probably benefit from surgery or braces, but I can eat and braces are expensive.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

That sound you hear... the sound of millions of teenaged boys closing their bedroom doors for a few minutes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I "love" going to the doctor

Presented for your perusal, two different medical care scenarios. My doctor has told me to get my blood pressure checked a couple of times before my next appointment. This is something he always wants me to do between appointments. It is something I always put off.

Recently, they changed things at our health care provider. Let's see if you can spot the difference between the old scenario and the new scenario.

Old scenario:

I go into the closest UW clinic. I go to the check-in desk and say "I need my blood pressure checked." They say "Okay, have a seat, we'll get a nurse." I get my blood pressure checked and leave. I have done this before. This is what my doctor tells me to do.

New scenario:

I go into the closest clinic. I go to the check-in desk and say "I need my blood pressure checked." Idiot behind the counter stares at me like I have a third head. I can hear the gears grinding away behind her eyes. I'm thinking that she wants to say "Do we do that here?" but instead she says, "Do you have an appointment?"


Is my third head sprouting a fourth? STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE YOU'RE A CHIPMUNK AND I'M A NUT. "Who's your doctor?"

"Dr. Nick Riviera."

The campfire's burning but the scouts are away. She looks even more like a chipmunk. A puzzled, drunk chipmunk. "Is that someone here?"


She points vaguely upwards towards Internal Medicine. "Maybe they can help you."

I go up. I dutifully wait behind the red sign for the next open desk, and I'll refrain from complaining about their stupid layout and the fact that three of the four stations are unoccupied.

"I can help you over here," says the only person there.

"I need to get my blood pressure checked." As a concept, I don't believe this one is terribly difficult: here I am, please check my blood pressure.

Apparently, we're having trouble with the easy stuff today. The second idiot stares at me. I reflexively check my shoulder for the presence of a third head. Maybe I have a giant booger hanging out of my nose.

Nope. "Who's your doctor?"

"Dr. Nick Riviera."

Silence. "Did he tell you to just come in at random?"


Silence. Then she asks for my name. I give it to her. "For future reference," she says, "you need to make an appointment. I'll set one up for you now, and you'll need to go downstairs and check in."

Uh...what? What moron invented that system?

"That's okay," I said. "I'll just make an appointment later and come back."

So...who's the idiot? Me, for not making an appointment? Idiot number one, for staring at me like a chipmunk? Idiot number two, because I'm feeling malevolent? Or their new computer system, which apparently really was going to make me create an appointment with idiot two, then walk back to idiot one to check in, then WALK BACK TO IDIOT TWO to say that I'd checked in and was there for my appointment?

Needless to say, no blood pressure check today. It would have been stroke/heart attack.


This is probably as good a place as any to talk about processes. I'm all in favor of having processes and procedures. I'm all in favor of making people follow them, even if it's just because some computer screen says so.

What I'm not in favor of is this rigid approach on the part of software designers and system administrators. I think I would have been okay if the upstairs office had been able to create an appointment on the fly and check me in. But she couldn't. She absolutely couldn't, because she only had access to the part of the system that let her create appointments, rather than having access to everything that she needed to take care of me or any other patient.

Who comes up with this workflow?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Your "Water is Wet" Quote of the day

"Only an idiot would jump into the bear cage."

Thanks to The Wife for noticing this story.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Obscured by Clouds

In July of 2006, I participated in Mercury Theatre's Blitz for the third time. I wrote a brief blog entry about it and then resolved to mention it no more. I didn't even try to participate in this year's Blitz, partially because I was still suffering large amounts of back pain and partially because I'm still bitter about what happened last year.

Last night I read my script again. As I wrote in last year's blog entry, I'm not a prima donna about my work. I have no illusions. But damn it, I think this script deserved better than to be turned into an anti-Semitic blob of WTF.

Maybe you'll agree. I invite you to read it [57K PDF].

A brief note about the title and the huge velvet head: the title challenge last year was "Pink Floyd songs by Syd Barrett", and that "huge velvet head" quote came from a found-writing website. Everyone had to use one of two titles (we each had a different set of two) and one of two quotes from the website (ditto).

Friday, August 17, 2007

A different friday five

This Friday Five was on the LiveJournal Friday Five.

1. Who was your favorite teacher? I have said it before, and I will say it again: the late Mrs. Watajeen Cano, who was our theater director and drama teacher. She was also an English teacher. Running a close second is my German professor from college, Prof. Steve Hollander.

2. Why was that teacher so special? Mrs. Cano was really tough, but for me, at least, it seemed like she was tough because she gave a damn about what she did, and not just to be petty the way some teachers are. I liked her a lot. Also, she instilled in me a love of theater that has lasted for 25 years. She was the only former teacher I ever introduced The Wife to, although she was The Girlfriend at the time.

3. Do you think teachers get paid enough? I think the ones around here do get paid pretty well. I don't know what it's like in other places. Entry-level teaching positions don't pay much, but entry-level positions anywhere really don't, either.

4. Do you have a favorite year of school? It had tremendously high highs and tremendously low lows, but I'd have to say that if I must pick, senior year of high school was my favorite.

5. If you could travel back in time and tell yourself something now that would have helped you get through school, what would you say? "You know that list you have in your notebook of stuff you want to do with your life? Twenty years from now, you'll have done the vast majority of things on it, and done them well to boot."

A Friday Five

Here's's Friday Five.

1. What were your after-school hours usually like when you were in high school? The standard day would see me getting on the bus either to go home or to go downtown to my mom's or dad's office. Usually home, a long-ass bus ride to Kaimuki and a long-ass bus ride out to Hawaii Kai, followed by a short but still long-ass walk to the house. To this day, I have had enough of buses. That routine would vary, of course, depending on whether I had band practice or drama club.

2. What are the first moments like when you finally get home after a long day? I check the mail, walk in the door, and yell at everybody to pick up their lunch dishes, dinner dishes and garbage. Then, after a long, hard day of sitting at my desk, I sit.

3. Where do your thoughts normally turn after the December/January holidays have passed? I'm not sure I understand this question. I guess I look at the calendar to see when my next day off from work is.

4. When did you last allow someone to cut in front of you in line? It depends on your definition of "cut" and "line". If merging traffic counts as cutting in line, then this morning. If we're being strict with our definitions, then it's been a long, long time.

5. What are you going to do right after you finish answering these questions? Finish checking meme blogs and probably answer one more, check to see if it's my turn to move in the chess game I'm playing with Damon (and move if it is), check Slashdot, check my favorite gadget sites, then read some Doc Savage.

Deine Papieren, bitte

It has come to this. Soon, we will be needing to show our papers for interstate travel. If The Decider and his lackeys act quickly enough, they'll be able to Balkanize the whole country.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday Music Mambo

Monday Music Mambo is all about lefthanders today, so in honor of my favorite lefty, I'll answer it. We are asked to name our favorite song by each of the following artists:

Jimi Hendrix: While I dearly love "Hey Joe," I have to pick "Crosstown Traffic." My gamer tag, [xCB]xTown, which I've used since forever (or at least since Descent), was directly inspired by that song. I've used xTown since the days when you were limited to eight-character names.

Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath): "War Pigs," I guess. Not a big Sabbath fan -- it was either that or "Iron Man."

Paul McCartney (non-Beatles, just to make it harder): How is that hard? He's been an ex-Beatle for 30 years. I like "Jet" and have a soft spot for what seems to be one of the least-liked, "Silly Love Songs."

Billy Corgan (solo, Smashing Pumpkins or Zwan): Ah, now I understand why we think a non-Beatles Macca song is hard. What the hell is Zwan? I can only think of one Pumpkins song and I hate it, so I'll pass on this. (Seriously... Zwan?)

Phil Collins: The one that has the lyric "the only sound you'll hear is the sound of your voice calling, calling after me." Don't know the name, and I really only like that part.

Briefly noted

1. Finish the sentence, sociopath. Karl Rove had this to say: "At month's end, I will join those whom you meet in your travels, the ordinary Americans who tell you they are praying for you." He forgot the end of the sentence, which is " go away." Of course, The Monkey is carefully shielded from the 76% of the country that knows he's a pathetic twit. So I guess Karl didn't forget anything. Never mind.

2. If I see "y'all" punctuated incorrectly one more time ("ya'll"), I shall scream.

3. You know how I keep asking for a phone that only makes phone calls? I just got a Motorola RAZR and because it's locked and I can't do anything without paying for it, I kind of have everything I want. Motorola even charges you for the software you need to transfer new ringtones and artwork to the phone.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I can't think of a conspiracy theory

Karl Rove is leaving the White House, and I can't think of a conspiracy theory that has him continuing to be the primary architect of evil in this country. I'm sure he will, whether it's by latching onto someone else's coattails or through some other means...but I have to admit that I can't see it.

Haul him up in front of the Senate now, boys. Let's go. There's no executive privilege attached. Stick to your guns and make those subpoenas count. Just because he's leaving is no reason to let him go.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


The Child's dance company went to see "Hairspray" after class this week, and The Missus and I decided to tag along. To be more specific, I was told that I was tagging along, which is fine with me--I like musicals.

Pretty much all I knew about it going in was...

  • Zac Efron was in it. Zac is very important to girls.

  • The musical was based on John Waters' 1988 movie. This is nervous-making for parents. John Waters is NOT for children, the current film's PG rating notwithstanding.

  • John Travolta was in the suit as Edna.

  • Marissa Jaret Winokur kicked ass on Broadway and won a Tony, and the cast's performance at the Tonys that year was incredible.

    That's Harvey Fierstein as Edna. You can't miss his voice. I love Harvey.

The movie was very good overall. I had a few problems with it--the pacing was weird, the sound in the theater was terrible, John Travolta proved to be a distraction every single time he was onscreen (a distraction of the "Oh my God, he's terrible" variety), Michell Pfeiffer looked as if she had been killed by a vampire, and the sound in the theater was terrible.

Did I mention that the sound in the theater was terrible? TERRIBLE. I don't know if it was a function of where we sat or what, but I get better sound out of my television set. I need to see it again in a proper theater to get a better sense of the music, because as it stands right now, I have to say that the music had very little in the way of dynamic range, especially from Queen Latifah, and there were a few numbers that definitely should have had a crescendo or two. Still, the opening number, the closing number, and the number after the protest march were well worth the price of admission, even with the sound problems. (Speaking of the opening number, John Waters' cameo is perfect.)

I liked the acting, though, especially from Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes (who is a solid comedic performer) and Christopher Walken. Walken was amazing; he turned in a great performance during his number with Travolta, actually making Travolta look good for a few minutes.

When they adapted Waters' original movie for the musical stage, they apparently toned it down (I haven't seen the entire original). That's a good thing. There were a few places here and there that probably weren't entirely acceptable for an eight-year-old, but I don't feel like we're bad parents for letting her see it. Given the story, there is a little bit of racial content, but since The Youngster has been studying Dr. King, it's something that we can talk to her about.

I recommend this movie, despite the strongly overwhelming presence of Travolta. The role is supposed to overwhelm, I suppose, but you're also (as I understand it) not supposed to spend the whole time thinking "That's a man!" or "That's John Travolta!" You're supposed to just say "That's Edna." I think Travolta is a big, fat failure in this movie, you should pardon the pun.

But if he's that bad, why would I recommend the movie? Easy: it made me smile, which is a rare and precious commodity. I have a big grin on my face just thinking about it. And besides, here's what happened after the movie:

"You know," I said as we walked to the car, "I guess that was okay, but it really just made me want to see the original movie, and the stage production, and buy the two soundtracks and listen to them."

"Can we buy this on DVD?" The Child asked.

"Maybe," I allowed.

The Wife looked at me. "I think," she said, "that the producers of this movie would say that they've done their job if they heard you. You're going to go out and buy two CDs, two DVDs, and see a show. And for a movie that was 'just okay.'"

"Huh," I said. "I guess that means I liked it."

And I did.

A new definition of Freedom

My jaw just about hit the ground when I read this on Daily Kos, but...apparently Rudy Giuliani thinks that freedom means submitting to authority.

Why are people even considering voting for this psychopath for President?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Seen on the road

The following bumper sticker: "My gamer fragged your honor student."


3x Thursday

A good question for 3x Thursday: What are you thinking about this week? List 3 things and go into detail. They can be whatever you want to talk about!

  1. Web design. I've got a website going live (this blog's replacement!) as soon as I actually get it done. Unfortunately, things have changed a bit since the last time I made a Web site. I've had some catching up to do.

  2. Java, and coding in general. One of my new Web development tools is the free Aptana IDE. It's based on (and is, or can be, a plug-in for) Eclipse. I wasn't going to install Eclipse on the tablet, but now that it's there, I kind of want to write some code.

  3. Writing. I don't do nearly enough of it. I should set myself a deadline and hold myself to it.

Also, we've had to do some emergency remodeling around the house, and the process is dragging on a bit more than I'd like. (Partially my fault.)

Word of the day

Epiphony (n): A sudden false insight.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Last Word

Courtesy of Mr. Greene, an article from the Onion that pretty much says it all about those cowardly motherfuckers in Congress who were more worried about their vacation than they were about protecting this country from The Monkey's depredations. Pay close attention to the third response especially.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Weak on terror

The House capitulated to the Monkey yesterday, approving his "improvements" to the FISA law. When will this pathetic, sycophantic behavior stop? For god's sake, don't our representatives have any integrity or honor? They passed this legislation, apparently, so as not to "appear weak on terror." They worried about "political repercussions."

Jesus H. Christ.

The people who voted for this -- not only the Democrats but the Republicans too -- have proved to each and every one of their constituents that they don't give a damn about this country or its principles. Their actions have demonstrated, far louder than any mealy-mouthed protestations about "serious reservations," that they are comfortable with the way George W. Bush and his gang of idiots are behaving. They are comfortable endorsing acts that John Ashcroft -- JOHN ASHCROFT! -- found to be illegal, that multiple judges have found to be illegal and unconstitutional. They are comfortable with being lied to by the Attorney General, comfortable with bung stonewalled by the White House.

By capitulating, the House has shown us who really is weak on terror.

Each and every person who voted for this is counting on apathy and complacency to keep them in office. They need to be shown how wrong they are at the ballot box.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So...what's the solution?

Sometimes people will ask me why The Youngster is not actively pursuing an entertainment career, or more precisely why we are not pursuing one for her. (Okay, actually, nobody is asking me this, but pretend they are so that this whole post works.) She is, after all, photogenic, and a little bit of that goes a long way.

Here's why: show business ruins children. You can't swing a cat without hitting an example, or so it seems. For every incredible success like Ron Howard, you have a Dana Plato, a Todd Bridges, a Gary Coleman, a Lindsay Lohan...a Michael Jackson. I was watching the director's commentary on a movie about a kid, and the director had something like this to say about his actor: "He's a really sweet kid. I hope the business doesn't change him." And then he went on to imply that it was too late.

Show business ruins children. Current case in point, the continued meltdown of Britney Spears, who assaulted and threatened to kill a paparazzi (paparazzo?). If you read the article, you'll be able to imagine the kind of threats she was laying down; I wonder if she knows Shane Stant?

Show business ruins children. I suppose it's not fair to lay the blame entirely at the industry's feet--parents have to take their share. But the industry does pretty much chew 'em up and spit 'em out.

We return, though, to the question posed in the title of this post: what's the solution? No more child roles? No more child entertainers? I'm not sure that's realistic. What can be done to make sure that kids in the entertainment industry reach adulthood with their heads screwed on straight and their priorities in order?