Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Unemployed Man, ep. 10: Post-Election Elation



I really wanted to use "Elected" by Alice Cooper, but I didn't have that one.

And here is Nader sticking by his use of "Uncle Tom". When a Fox News personality calls you out for using a tactless, racist phrase, you have seriously fucked up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unemployed Man, ep. 9 - Tales of the Crazy Neighbor

I think me slurping my coffee really makes this the best "Unemployed Man" ever.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Unemployed Man, ep. 8: Life's a Beach

Some problems with the audio - sorry about that.
And check out the shine on that dome!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Weekly Weight Update #5

More good news as this week's weigh-in was 257.2 and 35.7% body fat...meaning I gained muscle and lost fat. Yay!

Also, I will be incommunicado for a week due to Burning Man. Have a good week!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Weekly Weight Update #4

OK, I know I said I'd have a new video soon, but I've been really really busy. Soon, I promise.

As for this week's weigh in: 256.6, and 36.4% body fat. So once again, losing some muscle, but the fat's going in the right direction.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Weekly Weight Update #3

Finally, a smidgeon of progress. Weighed in today at 259 even, but 36.3% body fat...which means I actually lost some fat and gained some muscle. I attribute this mostly to the yardwork I did last week (lots of it!)

Video to come soon.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Weekly Weightloss Update #2

So this week I weighed in at 258.4, a loss of about 1 and a half pounds. Body fat remains the same. Clearly I need to get more exercise.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekly Weight Loss update #1

As promised, I'm giving an update with the embarrassing numbers of how fat I am, to help keep me motivated. Last week's weigh in was 262 lbs, 36.7% body fat.

This morning, I weighed in at 259.8lbs, still 36.7% body fat. So I did lose weight, but I lost muscle as well.

Still, I'm back to where I was when I started tracking my weight 5 weeks ago, so it's a good start.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Also...

One of my favorite movies is Fight Club, based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk. I just discovered there's a trailer out for a new movie based on another of his books, Choke.

I do still write occassionally

Amidst my recent videos (which shall continue) I wanted to stick in a quick written post.

There's a nearly 40 minute long video of Neal Stephenson giving a talk at Gresham College, mostly about genres of fiction, why those genres don't matter anymore, and about geek culture. Stephenson is an amazingly intelligent speaker, although his speech is horribly monotone. I've seen him speak in person, and found his intelligence can overcome the boring tone though, and the same holds true of this video.

I'm particularly proud that he says essentially that we're all geeks, something I have said before.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Unemployed Man on a Monday



What I meant to say, about Jason Webley, is that he is playing at Neumo's on Thursday. I left out where exactly he is playing when I said it on the video.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Adventures of Unemployed Man



Hmmm. Perhaps next time, I should raise the camera up so I don't show quite so much thigh...

Mint Juleps

Friday, June 20, 2008

Soooooooo pissed at Netflix right now

Netflix, a service I love, has really pissed me off today. They have announced that they are getting rid of the profiles and separate queues.

Seems like a little thing, but you know, I pay for this service. Why should I continue to pay for the service when they have taken away the one thing that makes them superior to their competitor?

If it wasn't for the profile system on Netflix, I'd be awash in my wife's period piece romance movies, or watching 4 or 5 Cirque du Soleil DVDs in a row (I like Cirque du Soleil, but I need to break up watching their DVDs with something else!).

To add insult to injury, when they get rid of the profiles, they aren't going to merge or save the queues in any way. If you want, they'll e-mail you your queue list, and you can add it back manually.

I have 500 movies in my queue. I don't want to add them manually. Fuck you, Netflix.

I'm so mad, I'm thinking about canceling our account and switching to Blockbuster. And that's saying something, because I really, really hate Blockbuster.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Kickass song (and video): "Idle Hands" by The Gutter Twins

Saw this on Boing Boing and loved it - a new video from The Gutter Twins, a project of Mark Lanegan (formerly of Screaming Trees, who I very much like) and Greg Dulli (formerly of the Afghan Whigs). Kickass song, and a pretty cool video too.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Documentaries! and other stuff I like

There are a couple of documentaries coming out about things that interest me, and I'm excited to see them.

First off, Gonzo - a documentary about Hunter S. Thompson, one of my heroes. Documentary features Johnny Depp, Jimmy Carter (!), and more. Supposedly releasing on July 4, 2008. If it shows in Seattle, Wiwille and I are going dressed as Hunter. Trailer can be found here.

Second, Achievers - a documentary about fans of the film The Big Lebowski, and about the Lebowskifest. This apparently will screen for the first time at the upcoming Lebowskifest in Louisville, Kentucky in July. Trailer below, embedded from YouTube.

If you've never seen the brilliance that is The Big Lebowski, you must immediately go to the nearest video store and rent it and watch it - seriously, right now, quit reading this. I'm not sure I can talk to anyone who hasn't seen this movie.



Aside from documentaries, the Steampunk band Abney Park got interviewed recently. Not a bad little interview. They also got lauded by Coverville for their cover of the Radiohead song Creep. Coverville is a cool podcast that talks about and plays various artist's covers of famous songs. It's actually quite a well-done podcast. I probably never would have known about it had they not played Abney Park.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Blues just got a little bit bluer

I am a big fan of Blues music. Years ago, I realized that the best blues musicians were very old, and likely wouldn't be around much longer. Muddy Waters and many others were already retired or dead, but three stood out in my mind, and I vowed that I would see those three perform live before they died or quit.

The first was John Lee Hooker, who really defined my love for blues music. I got to see him perform in 1995. He died six years later.

Second was B.B. King, arguably the biggest name in blues. I got to see him perform just a couple of years ago, with young whippersnapper (by blues standards) Kenny Wayne Shepherd opening. It was an amazing show. King is still alive and performing, so I hope actually to be able to see him perform live again.

Last but not least was Bo Diddley, rabble-rouser and self-proclaimed founder of rock 'n' roll. I got to see him perform live in 2000, as part of the opening celebration for the Experience Music Project. I saw a lot of great musicians perform that day, but it stands out mostly for getting to see this guy play.

But Bo Diddley died today. Which is sad, but part of life, and makes me a little bit happier that my trifecta of old blues musicians I wanted to see in concert before they died was a goal I was actually able to accomplish.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just Another Weird News Post

Talk about munchies - one stoner in New Zealand eats a bunch of food while waiting in line at a store, finds he has no money, and offers to pay for it with marijuana. Unfortunately for him, a uniformed police officer was in line behind him.

One guy apparently didn't understand why "javelin catcher" is a bad thing (WARNING: if you are squeamish, there's a photo here you don't want to see) - but after "catching" the javelin, he kept working.

Drinking and sex? Probably not too bad. Sex and knife play? Freaky, but not "bad", per se. Drinking and sex and knife play? Makes your safe word useless.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Rampant stupidity.

I didn't have to look far to top the stupidity described in my last post. Apparently, a substitute teacher in Florida did a little magic trick for his class in which he made a toothpick disappear. Hardly on the David Copperfield level of legerdemain. But, according to the local news in Land 0' Lakes, FL, enough to get him accused of "wizardry", a "huge issue" in the eyes of the school district, who have said the sub cannot take any assignments until they have a hearing.

Seriously. I can't make this shit up.

No word yet whether the hearing will involve Trial by Drowning.

And, lest I make it seem as if other places have a monopoly on stupidity, I shall relate what I just overheard in line at the Subway right here in my town. Two guys were standing behind me, and had this to say:

Guy 1 (reading the menu): It says "$5 any regular foot long sub." What does that mean?

Guy 2: I don't know.

I almost had an aneurism, right there in line at the Subway. I would have died, and the last thing I would have seen would be a picture of that fucker Jared.

Worst Cinco de Mayo EVER.

Man. Usually, I loves me some Cinco de Mayo. I lived in Arizona for four years as a youth, and CDM is a big deal there. Ever since, I've loved going out for CDM.

In recent years, it's changed a bit in that we often don't go for mexican food, because May 5 also happens to be my mother-in-law's birthday, and it has become tradition to go out for dinner where ever she wants. And these days, whenever my in-laws get to pick our dinner destination, 90% of the time it's Claim Jumpers. Which is fine, because they have good food, and lots of it.

So Monday, I got off work and was looking forward to not having to cook dinner. I got home to find that a) my wife was feeling sick, and b) my mother-in-law was feeling sick. So we weren't going anywhere. I threw a frozen pizza in the oven for those of us that weren't nauseous, and when it was done I popped in a DVD of one of our favorite shows and sat down with the wife to watch it.

We got maybe 10 minutes into it when a call came in from my niece...my nephew was really sick and needed to go to the E.R., but there was no-one to take him. So I got up from comfy couch and favorite show, and drove up to Everett to get him, and took him to the E.R. - where we proceeded to stay for the next five-and-a-half hours. I got to watch a marathon of Cities of the Underworld on History channel (which would be an interesting show, were it not for the exceptionally annoying hosts) while surrounded by the best and brightest Everett has to offer - i.e. a cavalcade of meth heads, homeless looneys, and teenage mothers.

Seriously. This is one of the conversations I had to sit through:

Annoying Guy (to girl - probably about 19 - who just came in and sat down): Hey! Where's Shane?

Girl: At home. Sleeping. He has to work at 6:30.

A.G.: So? He should still be here with you. How's he doing?

Girl: Sober, surprisingly. I told him he had to straighten up or I was going to leave.

A.G.: Good for you.

Girl: He got mad at me yesterday for buying diapers for my son.

A.G.: Because it cut into his beer money?

Girl: No, because we have a baby on the way and need to save money.

This made me despair for humanity. Annoying Guy went on to make jokes about wife beating (his wife was there for a swollen eye from an infection) and talked about some guy who is accusing him of being, and I quote, "a chi-mo", which I think meant "child molester". Awesome.

I was wearing one of my Utilikilts, and Annoying Guy asked me if it was a kilt or a "skilt". I told him it was a Utilikilt brand kilt. He proceeded to ask me if I knew "Morgan", his friend who had a "skilt" (part skirt, part kilt, according to Annoying Guy), as if every guy in the metro-Seattle area who wears a kilt just hangs around with each other all the time and are all on a first-name basis. Even if we did, I wouldn't associate with someone who referred to their kilt as a "skilt", because that's the stupidest fucking thing I have heard in awhile. A kilt is a skirt, it's just a skirt for men. Hybridizing the words just hurts my head. It also makes me thinks of Skittles, and if anybody ever calls my kilt a skilt, I'm going to make sure they "taste the rainbow", let me tell you what.

After 5.5 hours, they discharged my nephew with a couple of prescriptions, and he is apparently feeling better now. I got home at 4a.m., and did not make it to work on time the next day.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sometimes, those Urban Legends are real.

I frequently check out Snopes.com, particularly the "What's New" section. Today there was an Urban Legend of sorts that rang true for me, as I knew someone who had a similar experience to the "legend"...

This entry on Snopes talks about a few instances of people dressed in costume running into trouble by going to the wrong door. One was even killed. A couple of the incidents mentioned were confirmably true.

This reminded me of something that happened to the family of some classmates of mine when I lived in Arizona. It wasn't exactly like the Snopes story, but it was similar.

In junior high, I went to school with an exceptionally bright pair of siblings, Kathy and Ben. Kathy and Ben had an older brother - I want to say his name was David - who was in high school.

One night, while their father was out of town on business, there was a news report about a violent criminal who escaped from jail that day. Their mother started freaking out and went around the house locking every window and door and pulling all the drapes. What the kids didn't see is that she also grabbed her husband's .357 revolver and loaded it.

David thought it was really funny that his mother was panicking about this escaped criminal, who was probably not going to wander into our boring suburb, and thought he would play a little trick on his mom. He pulled on a ski mask and his "Property of Alcatraz" sweatshirt, snuck out his bedroom window, and went to the front door, unlocked it with his key, and rang the doorbell. Then as his mother approached the door, he opened the door.

His mother pulled the revolver out and fired at him twice. Luckily for David, his mother was a horrible shot, and both bullets went into the doorframe next to him. He pulled the mask off and started yelling for his mother not to shoot him.

David was lucky to have lived through that experience. He later would claim he could see the bullets coming at him, in slow motion. I'm pretty sure that was just panic affecting his memory. But I'm pretty sure it soured him on practical jokes for awhile.

Monday, April 28, 2008

This is why it's called "the web"

So...follow along with the weird path my browsing took this morning.

Via Digg, I came across this article about a murder that is believed by some detectives to be part of a series of killings, most likely by a group, in the northern midwest. I tend to agree, actually, even though it sounds very conspiracy-theorist. Given the target type (popular jocks), my guess is it's a web of nerdy, computer-using square pegs, a la the Columbine shooters, preying on drunk jocks after parties.

I also didn't take long to find out there was a made-for-TV movie in 1999 called Happy Face Murders, about a serial killer who signs his messages with happy faces. Weird.

So I went looking for more about the actual murders/deaths, and that's when I came across Godlike Productions, a forum full of conspiracy theorists. My love for conspiracy theories is well known, so this looks like a pleasant playground I'll be returning to frequently. From calls for Warriors of Light to ENGULF the world in light on to "Bible Code" predictions of an Ebola Virus biological attack next week - this forum has everything. Even claims that The Last Mimzy, a kid's movie about a magical box that can do seemingly anything, was based on a true story. Awesome.

From there, I followed a link on one post to a site with a little video about "the history of the Cathars." I knew little of the Cathars, so I looked them up in Wikipedia, which had the dope on them. They were a 12th century Christian sect with some pretty weird thinking, who were basically wiped out by a crusade sent against them by Pope Innocent III, and then cleaned up by the Inquisition (no one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)

The video, however, claims that during the siege that basically wiped out the sect, four priests (even though the Cathars didn't have priests as such) divided up a scroll into four parts and took it with them and hid it. The scroll, the video says, was written by Christ himself and says that everybody got him all wrong and the Cathars were right.

Because, you know, all that time he was kicking around with the apostles preaching, he never bothered to the tell the apostles, "No, man, you got me all wrong...it's like this..." and instead he wrote it down and hid it somewhere for a sect that just happened to dig on what he was really saying over a thousand years later. That makes sense.

And these four Cathars went on to found a secret society called "weavers" who weave coded messages into clothes and tapestry in the form of imperfections, and all the codes contain the year 2012, and that's when the Cathars/Weavers are going to get the scroll back together and show everybody.

Hooooo boy. Praise Jesus and pass the LSD.

Check off one goal.

So, I created my 12 goals for 12 months about 6 months ago, and until this weekend really hadn't accomplished a single one.

This weekend I knocked one off my list - I played in a casino poker tournament.

And I did badly. I wasn't first out, but I was 6th or 7th out (out of a field of 33).

Of course, I'll be back to try again later.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I love leather

Not like that, you pervert.

OK, like that too, but that's not what this post is about. Pervert.

This post is about this:


A company in the UK called Wested Leather Co. who does movie costumes (including the original Indiana Jones jacket) sells a reproduction of the jacket from The Rocketeer. I couldn't care less about the movie (it looks too Disney-fied to me), but I love that jacket. I saw one of the originals up close at the Science Fiction Museum, and immediately fell in love with it. I so, so, so want this jacket. And I so, so, so cannot afford the $500 price tag.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Movie Review, by request - Perfume

So yeah. It's been Serial Killer Movie Month at my house. I had Zodiac already at home from Netflix, when Wiwille asked that I review The Young Poisoner's Handbook and Memophage asked that I review Perfume: The story of a Murderer. Like the movie, this review is going to be long and complex. Hang in there.

Based on a novel by Patrick Süsskind that I feel I absolutely must read now, the film tells the story of a young man in 18th century Europe with a super-powered sense of smell who tries to capture the scent of beautiful women in a perfume. To do so, he has to kill them.

But it is far, far more complex than that. Like some of the stories and jokes I tell, this movie takes a long, long time (2.5 hours) to reach an ending that seems (at least on the surface) to have little to do with the beginning - especially if you watch the extra features on the DVD and hear the director's interpretation of the ending's meaning, which has nothing to do with the start. The movie is filled with a lot of vague metaphors and veiled symbolism, which I generally don't care for in a movie.

However! Given a little distance, the metaphors and meanings become more apparent, and blend together to reveal a fairly coherent story - much like the way the perfumes are said to be constructed in the film. The more I think about this one, the more brilliant I find the writing. To construct an entire story in a similar way to how you describe one of the most complex and difficult to describe components of the story is genius.

The main theme in the film (or the "core" of the perfume, as described in the movie) is really "alienation", and it does a fine job of showing the various stages and effects of alienation and being extremely different. The main character is, in the beginning, shunned and misunderstood for being different, then accepted by someone for having an unusual talent, then is shown to exist outside of society because of his extreme difference and the wall it puts between him and others. The gift/curse dual nature of such extreme difference is prevalent throughout, and results in obsession that only heightens the alienation aspect. In the end, the results of the difference are the means of both his salvation and destruction.


Now, that's all about the writing and the story. Of the mechanics of film, I would say the cinematography is the most standout feature. It's not hard to make a beautiful film out of the backdrops of European country side that some of the movie is set in, but to make a beautiful film out of sets recreating dinghy, ugly, overcrowded, dirty 18th century cities is - but it is pulled off wonderfully in this movie.

The acting is good, but more for a matter of casting than anything else. Dustin Hoffman is excellent, as one would expect, and Alan Rickman commands scenes as he always does. The actor who plays the main character looks weird enough and is forgettable enough to fit the role of the outsider.

This is not to say the movie is perfect. The beginning is so long, and so drawn out, it seems at first to have little purpose. It would be easy to condense the first hour into about 15 minutes and set up the rest of the film. This is why the film is better at a distance - you get more meaning, at the risk of putting off viewers with less patience. In retrospect I have trouble saying the beginning was "too long", but if you had asked me an hour and a half into the movie I would have said it was ridiculously drawn out.

The 3rd-party-omniscient narration is annoying and totally unnecessary, and only used in the beginning (heavily) and then sparsely distributed at wholly inopportune times throughout the rest of the film.

The story has several fantastical elements that make it very, very difficult to suspend disbelief. That first hour was necessary just to get me to go along with the whole "super sense of smell" thing, and after that my suspension of disbelief was tried by it a few times (for those that have seen it: when he's on the road following the object of his obsession - that was ridiculous). The ending pulls out a whopper that is even more difficult to swallow, even given the somewhat heavy-handed foreshadowing by Hoffman's character earlier on.

The actresses in the film were obviously chosen for their beauty and not their acting talent. The young woman who plays the main obsession delivers her lines about as well as a cardboard cut-out and certainly cannot keep up with the likes of Alan Rickman.

To keep to the idea of making my review like the film, I'm going to end it abruptly right here. If you have patience and like a well-crafted story that requires thought, watch this one. Otherwise, stick to Hostel: part way too many or whatever.

- Mattbear, movie snob, out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lighthouses!



One of the many things I am an absolute geek for is lighthouses. I love lighthouses. Maybe it's because I grew up in a town with a lighthouse (the one pictured above, in fact). I don't know. I just love 'em.

So I loved it when I found a guide to over 9000 lighthouses worldwide. I could spend days just perusing that site for geeky little facts about lighthouses around the world and the size of their fresnel lenses. (I also love fresnel lenses. I have one sitting around my house to play with, that I took out of an old big screen TV that went TU on us)

Hope you can appreciate lighthouses too. Look up your favorites!

- Mattbear out

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Dream; or, Why is Ted Danson mad at me?


So Wiwille posted a strange dream he had, and I commented about the rash of weird dreams I have been getting lately. I left a cryptic mention of one in the form of the line "...but why was Ted Danson mad at me?" and now Wiwille says I should post the dream. I wasn't going to, but who am I to argue with one-fourth of my blog's audience? So, here you go - brace yourself, it's a long one:

The dream started out with me in a poker game. Not unusual. Except that the poker game was backstage of some weird play that was going on. The play featured circus sideshow people like midgets and a bearded lady and such, as well as more "normal" actors. As a result, I was very distracted and not playing well. Plus I was hitting on the (non-bearded, non-midget) actresses, and getting shot down left and right.

The play was not going well. It got to the point that the audience was booing, then yelling, then rioting. All the cast members came flooding backstage and trying to run out. I ran out with them.

I got in my truck and drove off. I went to get on the on-ramp for the freeway, only to find they had introduced right then a new anti-congestion process: to get on the on-ramp, one was supposed to pull over into a parking lot (that was on the on-ramp) and park, go get a ticket, get back in your car, and proceed to the on-ramp. However, there was no one taking the tickets and no barrier to entering the freeway.

Regardless, I parked and went to get a ticket - only to discover that they were all out. I walked over to the little booth on the on-ramp to confront the two guys inside. I asked what I was supposed to do since there were no tickets.

Guy #1 says, "Sorry, we're all out of tickets. There were way more people than we planned trying to get on the on-ramp, and now we're out. Nothing we can do."

I says, "Isn't there something we can work out?"

Guy #1 says, "Do you work for Microsoft?"
"Yes, I do," I replied.

Guy #1 turns to Guy #2 and says, "Don't we have a deal worked out with Microsoft?"

Guy #2 responds, "Yeah, but that's only when they're going to work, and it's Sunday. Besides, we're out of tickets. Nothing we can do."

I walk back to my truck, all pissed off. I decide that since neither of these flunkies is taking tickets, or even watching, I'll just get on the on-ramp. Sure enough, they don't stop me. But traffic is so bad I'm not going anywhere - for a long time, obviously. (If you've seen the Doctor Who episode "Gridlock", I got the feeling it was going to be like that)

So, I turn my truck around and drive the wrong way down the on-ramp, which is no big deal because everybody else is too. I decide to head to my friends' (Launchpad and Loxie's) place, which in the dream is very close to the on-ramp (Note: the apartment in the dream was not their actual apartment). My wife is there for some reason, which makes me happy, until she tells me that they were all about to leave. I am still pissed about the on-ramp, so I stay behind, and start goofing around on Launchpad's computer.

After awhile, there's a major earthquake, which somehow was caused by something I did using LP's computer. The earthquake sets off the fire supression sprinklers in their building, and somehow water gets into their electrical panel and shorts out all power to the apartment.

Feeling horribly guilty about causing the earthquake and messing up their place, I head to see the maintenance dudes for the apartment complex. The dude tells me they are too busy dealing with burst water mains and such, and they'll get to the electrical panel later. In the meantime, he says he can give me some propane to hook up so they will at least have heat (in the dream this makes perfect sense that I can just hook up the propane in the apartment and it will work).

Maintenance dude comes out with a big tall old propane tank on a dolly. The tank is rusty and dented and scary, but I figure they need heat, so I take it.

As I get near the apartment, I have to go down a small flight of stairs with the dolly. Being clumsy, I drop the tank off the dolly and it goes bouncing down the stairs. Amazing, it does not explode, but it does make a hell of a racket and a bunch of their neighbors poke their heads out to see what is going on. I get the tank back on the dolly, apologizing to all the neighbors as I do, and wheel it towards the apartment.

Their direct next-door-neighbor was still out, and asks me, "Why does their apartment use gas? My apartment doesn't use gas." I explain about the electrical panel. "Oh," he says, and goes back inside. I notice that somewhere between dropping the tank and talking to the neighbor, I now also have a horse I'm bringing to the apartment with me.

I am puzzled by the horse, but soon distracted because the neighbor on the other side of them comes out in his bathrobe to get his newspaper - and it's Ted Danson. And he's glowering at me and all pissed off. And then he goes back inside. And I'm standing there wondering why Ted Danson is mad at me - is it the noise from dropping the tank? The horse? Does he know I caused the earthquake?

Then I think maybe he's just still mad about losing the lawsuit in that show Damages.

Anyway, I decide to go in. But the door is locked. Their roommate Amber is home. So I knock on the door, but she doesn't hear me. Somehow, the sprinkler damaged the lock, and someone turned it inside out, so the flip part for the lock is on the outside. I turn the lock, open the door, and go in.

Amber comes out to see who is coming in the apartment. She sees it's just me, and then says, "Is that a cow?"

I say, "No, it's a horse. It's just for keeping the grass down."

I lead the horse to a sliding glass door and out to their patio, where there is grass for it to graze on. Then I turn around and see that there is indeed now a cow in the apartment.

I start scratching my head, wondering what the cow is for.

That's when Jen woke me up. And for two days I kept wondering, "Why was Ted Danson mad at me? And what was the cow for?"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Am I Evil?


I am generally a nice guy. I try to act like a gentleman, holding doors for people and such. I let people go in front of me at the grocery store if they have only a few items or have an impatient kid.

But every now and again, I get the worst kind of compulsions to do really cruel things. If someone cuts me off in traffic or doesn't use a turn signal, I have to remind myself that I could go to prison if I speed up and ram them off the road.

Today there are window washers at our buildings. As I went into the cafeteria to get lunch, they were three floors up, and the ropes from their rigs hung to the ground. I had to consciously restrain myself from grabbing one of the ropes and running back and forth as fast as I could.

I know everybody gets these horrible thoughts or urges once in awhile. What I find myself wondering is, does everyone get them as strongly as I do? To the point that they have to stop and think to themselves, "No, I mustn't do that, it's wrong"?

And what makes us think like that, anyway?

They could have just given me that money...

Sometimes, it's embarassing to work for Microsoft. From time to time, the funny videos they do for the company meeting or for internal consumption get leaked, and to an outsider they often look dumb. The "inside joke" can be lost on the general public.

And then there are videos that marketing does, that just make us all wonder how out of touch these people are. Like the one below. I take no responsibility for the damage this may do to your brain.


Friday, April 11, 2008

The Demon Politics; or, Am I too cynical to have hope?

You can thank Memophage for the political post/rant/wall-of-text that is about to ensue. Memophage posted (after 9 months of Silent Blog Syndrome) a video of a poem about Barack Obama. The poet expresses mock resentment of Obama for making him want to believe, to have hope, and to care.

It is a feeling to which I can relate. For many years, I have been more cynical about our government than just about anyone who doesn't live in a "compound" with more firearms than a military base. I have stated time and time again that politicians are all 100% corrupt, owned by corporations and special interests, and in politics only out of greed and/or power-hunger. They are wealthy and powerful, and their only interest is in staying wealthy and powerful. They collude, across the so-called "party lines", to keep themselves wealthy and powerful. The two party system, gerrymandering, the electoral college, campaign finance and spending rules, lobbyists - all designed to keep the ruling class ruling. The common citizen is not represented in this government, no matter how many times you read the "We the people" line.

There is no difference between the parties. They posture at being different to distract us from where we really stand in this government - under the thumbs of those we "elect". There is no fair play, no representation. There isn't even a "lesser evil" to vote for. Just two greedy bastards who'd sell there own mother to pick up an extra district's votes. In 2004, who did we get for our Presidential candidates? Two wealthy white New Englanders who went to Yale and were in the Skull and Bones. Show me the difference, aside from the pretend Texas accent one of them uses.

Some people I have said these things to nod agreement, and tell me how horrible it is that the vision of the "Founding Fathers" has been trampled so. And that's where I get even more cynical. The "Founding Fathers" weren't the noble guys our history books claimed. They wrote flowery speech to outline a terrific system, empowering the people and making sure the people got fair representation. But they put in loopholes to keep their flowery speech from being the true law. They were the wealthy and the powerful, and they wanted to make sure they stayed that way. The present state of our government is only so ugly because the wealthy and powerful have perfected the loopholes their predecessors put in place.

And they have done so to the point that they no longer need to even pretend they are serving the people or the country. That is why the Bush administration seems so horrific - they flaunt the fact that we, the people, are powerless. They openly defy the law and the will of the people, and nothing happens because the only people who can stop them are other politicians - corrupt, self-serving politicians who are in on the game.

I'm not putting forth a conspiracy theory here. I'm not saying they all sit around together and plot every move. Implicit collusion isn't necessary. They all understand what they have to do to keep themselves where they are. They all act in their own best interest, and since they are really all part of the same class their best interests are all the same.

So what does all this have to do with a "poetry slam" performance about Barack Obama?

In the midst of the darkest hour of my political cynicism - seeing the Bush administration get away with nearly 8 years of criminal behavior - along comes a Presidential candidate who seems to care. Who seems to make sense. Who seems to not be corrupt. I mean, here's a guy whose opponent for his own party's nomination is basically (legal disclaimer: in my opinion) a known criminal who escaped prosecution through abuse of power, but the worst they can dig up on Obama is that his Reverend said some controversial things or that Obama didn't put his hand over his heart for the national anthem once.

He delivers a positive message. He says he wants to make things better. He wants to fight the corruption. He wants to end the unjust war we're in. He wants our country to be better.

After years and years of abject cynicism, how can I trust this guy? How can I trust a politician? He is a member of the same class, he is in on the game. Yet he seems different. He seems genuine.

He seems like a dream. One that's too good to be real.

As I believe I've mentioned before, I like to be the guy who knows. I like to be the guy who's right. I love saying "I told you so." So how can I get behind this guy and say, "He's our best hope, he's worth it, we should trust him"?

But at this point, I have to. I have to believe that we have some hope. That not all politicians are worthless scum. That at least one of them wants what is best for this country, for its people.

That's what pisses me off about Obama. That, and that he might not win and we'll be stuck with another corrupt dirtbag.

- Mattbear out

Monday, March 31, 2008

Movie Review, by request - The Young Poisoner's Handbook

As requested by Wiwille, I watched the film The Young Poisoner's Handbook, an interesting film based on the true story of Graham Young, a young man who poisoned several people he knew, killing three.

The film was the first feature-length work of its director (Benjamin Ross), and it shows a bit. The film moves very quickly through some parts (the first murder in particular) and drags a bit elsewhere.If you don't enjoy slow movies, steer clear of this one. The film also shows some tendencies of not knowing what it wants to be. Part serial killer film, part true crime story, part black comedy - it works out ok but does lack cohesiveness.

The cinematography is also a rookie effort. Some scenes are shot so dark it's almost impossible to see what is going on. However, it's not all bad. By design or accident, the backgrounds in this film tend to be quite bland, which actually puts more focus on the actors. Given how character-driven the film is, this turns the bland backgrounds into a good thing.

Hugh O'Connor as Graham Young did a decent job. He plays Graham as a true psychopath; emotionally flat and distant and unable to see why he is so different or scares other people. The performance does go right up to the line dividing "strong" from "over-the-top". If I had a co-worker like the Young portrayed in the movie, and people started getting mysteriously sick at my work, my first thought would be that this co-worker was poisoning everyone.

Roger Lloyd-Pack always seems to me as if he could be the founder of the Over The Top Scene-Chewing School of Acting, but it works ok in this film as he plays the bombastic, abusive father of Graham.

So, to bottom-line it, I would say this movie is decent but not spectacular. The subject is very interesting and worth the time to watch, but I think it could have done better in the hands of a more experienced director.

If there is a movie you would like to see me review, post it in the comments or e-mail me. If you want to double down, ask Wiwille to review the same movie so you can compare and contrast our opinions.

- Mattbear out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Holy '80s nostalgia, Batman

Couldn't pass up posting this: a trailer for the upcoming movie Lost Boys: The Tribe. That's right, a sequel to the guilty pleasure full of "two Coreys" goodness, The Lost Boys. They even dug up the dude who played "the other" Frog brother in the original. He's been in one actual movie and one After School Special since The Lost Boys. Perhaps this will be his career revival.

The trailer even features a cover of the awesome song "Cry Little Sister" recently featured in an Erik's Ramblings post. (That "awesome" is not sarcastic. I love that song.)




Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Minutes Hate

OK, I have to get this out of my system.

There's a guy at my work (nominally a co-worker, but I don't work with him directly). I don't know his actual name (probably Todd - for some reason, I usually wind up not liking guys named Todd). He shall henceforth be known as Miami Vice Reject (MVR for short). The dude always wears button-up shirts and khakis, and I suppose would be good looking if it weren't for the perm-mullet and the goatie that make him look like he just stepped off the set of Miami Vice. His button-down shirt is usually open one or two buttons to show off the gold chain he's wearing. And some chest hair, as an added bonus.

He also gives off a palpable aura of sleaze. Like you can just see him hanging out in some club, "leaning" some girl and using all the cheesiest, crappiest lines in the book to try to get her for a one-night stand. Or selling you a "like new" Mercedes that really has a salvage title because he wrecked it driving drunk 3 weeks before and got his shady cousin to do some Bondo work on it to make it look ok.

And he always - ALWAYS - has a goddamn bluetooth earpiece for his cellphone on. And 90% of the time, he's talking on it. Apparently, not about work, either - I overheard someone who sits next to him complaining today that he's always talking to bill collectors, the IRS, etc.

(For the record, I am writing this on my lunch break. That's my time.)

So today, MVR strolls into the men's room, talking on his damn bluetooth headset. Dude! Seriously, hang up the motherfucking phone for a couple of minutes. Just because your headset is billed as a "hands-free" doesn't mean you have to use it to talk while urinating. You're in the restroom. Give your phone a rest. The person you're talking to? They really don't want to listen to you piss. And the other gentlemen in the restroom with you? Really don't want to listen to you stupid phone conversation.

And of course he walked out without a) flushing, or b) washing his hands.

I don't even know this guy's name, but I hate him. I want to attach that bluetooth headset to the end of one of his fake Italian loafers, and shove 'em both up his ass.

Man.

- Mattbear out.

What a week

The week of March 10-17 is always an interesting one for me. Why, you ask?

March 10 is my brother-in-law's birthday. Happy Birthday, bro.
March 11 is my son's birthday. He's seven now. I have no idea where the last 7 years have gone. They disappeared like money around an IRS agent.
March 13 is my wife's birthday. Love you baby!
Also our friend Eric's birthday that same day.
March 16 is our anniversary. Both of when we started going out (17 years ago!) and when we got married (2 years ago!).

This year for our anniversary, Jen was going to be gone to Portland on a business trip, so I went with her for the weekend. Our awesome friends in Portland watched the boy while the wife and I went to a restaurant they recommended (a fan-fucking-tastic Morrocan place called Marrakesh) and then a night alone at the hotel. Honestly, probably the best anniversary celebration we've had in a long time.

And for March 17? Well, 24 years ago today, I got hit by car while jaywalking. My knee is still messed up from it. I never forget the date of the accident because it was St. Patrick's Day. (I was in a motorcyle wreck that same year. On July 3rd.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

One more thing...

I wouldn't be doing my job as a man if I didn't post that today has apparently been declared Steak & BJ Day. (work safe provided you have headphones)

Just a couple of tidbits

I would like to first introduce you to the awesome wrongness that is the webcomic Truck Bearing Kibble.

And then to the simple intelligently built flash game Grid 16.

For your musical enjoyment today, Tom Waits's "Goin Out West":


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Movie Review Time: The Kingdom


Recently I watched The Kingdom, a political thriller/action movie starring Jamie Foxx and a sort-of ensemble cast including Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Chris Cooper.
Jennifer Garner would be the weak link there, generally speaking, but unfortunately none of the actors really get to do much with their 2-dimensional characters. Even Chris Cooper, arguably the most talented actor in the movie, can't do too much with his generically written no-nonsense good ol' boy FBI bomb specialist.
The plot might have been gripping had I been able to give a damn about these transparent characters. Garner's character is shown almost as being a helpless damsel in distress type, even though she's an FBI agent, but Bateman's character is actually shown as wussier because he's the nerdy FBI agent. Wow, clever.
The movie tries to show that terrorism is bred not entirely by religion, but by the constant interference of the Western world in the Middle East and our own lack of understanding of their culture and our impact on them. It also tries to show that not all Arabic people are terrorists, or agree with the prevalent anti-American philosophies, but that many of the people in power there do. All well and good until the end when the movie makes it clear that the harder we fight the terrorists, the harder they fight us.
The Kingdom really seemed to me to a watered-down, explosion-filled take on the same themes explored to much greater effect in Syriana. I would basically say of this movie: Don't waste your time.
I'm also going to steal a page from Erik's playbook and offer to review any* movies suggested by my reader(s). Post it as a reply, or e-mail me
- Mattbear, movie snob, out.

This moment of Randomness brought to you by....

I am sometimes accused of being a "know-it-all" due to my penchant for spouting little known facts and correcting people's grammar (yes, I am a grammar nazi, or as I view it a defender of the English language. Deal with it!). Thinking that one knows everything is absolutely preposterous, and I take great offense at being called a "know-it-all". I don't think I know everything.

I just know more than you.

(Just kidding, kids!)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Let's get back to normal

Time to try to get back to blogging and posting my normal inane crap here.

I don't usually call out a particular post by a fellow blogger, but if you haven't read the most recent post [disclaimer: not very recent] on Psyber's Psychosis, you should. It's a funny one, in his rambling weird way, and has a link to an awesome video that anyone in any kind of male-female relationship should watch.

This past weekend I went to a Steampunk meet-up at the Science Fiction Museum (with an after-meet at McMennamin's) that was a lot of fun. Some of the other participants got some great pictures, including a couple of cute ones of my son with the goggles I gave him for the event.

And if you really want a laugh, there has been circulating about the intarwebs a forum thread typically called "Mall Ninjas" that is superbly hilarious. Having majored in law enforcement in college, I knew a few guys like this. Scary.

I'll be back with more, sooner. Promise. For all one of you who still reads this.
- Mattbear out

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I wanted to update this more often, and just when I start trying, life throws something at me to derail my efforts. Last Thursday I received an e-mail from my Uncle Dale, that just asked me to call him. I was pretty sure I knew what it was about, and I was right. My paternal grandfather had died that morning.

It wasn't much of a surprise - he was 94 years old and had already battled (and beat) cancer - but it still left me feeling down. I love my grandfather, and looked up to him. He was a good man. Not perfect, by any stretch, but good.

He taught me to be honest and to tell it like it is, without apology. He taught me to work hard and be the best at whatever I chose to do. He was constantly trying to put one over on me in the form of some jest or exaggeration, and would give me a sly wink when he was caught. He called me "Matthew Alouysis" for some reason I'll never know (Alouysis is an actual boy's name, but not a popular one).

Some of the things I remember best:

When I was 8 or so, all I wanted for my birthday was a pocket knife. My mother would not consent to buying me one. My grandfather took me shopping for one as my birthday present. I got a Schrade with three blades.

He had a croquet set in his back yard, and taught me to play when I was 9 or so. When I was 11, and visiting for 2 weeks, he invited the neighbor's daughter over to play croquet to try to set me up with her.

When I was twenty, I finally got the pleasure of joining him for a cigar and a Scotch on his back porch, something he did everyday. I had waited a long time to get to do that. I asked him not to tell my mother, because she didn't know that I drank or smoked cigars. He gave me hell for hiding my "vices" from my mother even though I was an adult. My (then) girlfriend (now wife) was sitting on the porch, wearing a sweater in August in Eastern Oregon and complaining she was too hot - she had not brought any short sleeve shirts. My grandfather, 80 years old, gave her a wink and told her, "You can take it off - I won't mind."
I plan to be like that if I reach 80.

I'm going to miss you, grampa.

The obituary my uncle wrote for him:

Lewis Norman Hamer
Age 94
Dad left this world to rejoin his beloved wife Rosalie on Feb 21, 2008. Prior to her death in 1999, they had been married 67 years. He was a devoted husband and father, who led an adventurous life and made innumerable friends of all ages.

Dad was born on Feb 1, 1914 in Hoquiam, WA, to Annie Rowley and Roscoe Norman Hamer. Granddad was a carpenter and sawyer at a time when Grays Harbor was a major lumber shipping port, with 13 sawmills. Dad grew up in this booming pre-industrial-safety environment, carrying 5 paper routes in the morning before school, and playing on the log rafts and in the sawmills after school. One of their favorite entertainments was riding the drive belts that powered the machinery in the mill. As he later noted, it was a miracle he lived to grow up.

At the age of 15, he acquired a job driving one of the local cannery owners up and down the coast to inspect his canneries. At 17, he signed on as Able Seaman on a lumber freighter, the SS West Mahwah, which carried lumber and logs from the Pacific Northwest to and from the east coast of South America. At one point he saw 3 revolutions in 3 days. Another time, on the Amazon River, he had to dislodge a 30-foot Anaconda coming up the anchor chain.

After this voyage, he returned to Hoquiam and finished high school, then began his career as a truck and bus driver, machinist and fleet operator. In 1932, while apprenticing in a machine shop, he fell in love with, and married the boss’ daughter, Rosalie Revie. One of his first jobs after marriage was driving motor coach up the Olympic Peninsula from Grays Harbor. Later, until the early 1940s, he drove for Grays Harbor Stage Lines. In 1941, Mom and Dad and their children, Dixie and Clark, moved to South Bend, Wa, driving bus as well as driving freight truck for the canneries. The third child, Dale, was born that year. Dad then became a machinist for Harbor Plywood, and in 1949 they moved to Tacoma where he worked at Inter-City Auto Freight.

In 1951, Dad began his 27-year career with Weyerhaeuser in Longview, WA starting as Asst Master Mechanic, and working up to Maintenance and Transportation Superintendent, in charge of all repair shops, logging equipment and railroad operation. This was an exciting period in the logging industry, when railroad logging was being replaced by truck operation. During this period, he worked closely with tire manufacturers to develop new heavy-equipment tires, and designed and had built a remote-control steering trailer for extra-long loads.

After retiring from Weyerhaeuser, Dad took a job with Ford, as service manager for a truck dealership in Portland, OR. After Ford closed their heavy truck dealerships, he and Mom moved to Pendleton, OR to be branch manager for Diesel Service Unit. After his 65th birthday, he went to work for the competition, Woodpecker Truck. At the age of 70, he retired for the last time. Shortly thereafter, Mom had a severe stroke, that left her largely disabled. For the next 13 years, Dad provided her attentive, loving care, until she died in December 1999.

In his last 8 years, Dad lived alone in Pendleton, enjoying and being enjoyed by his many friends and neighbors.

Dad was preceded in death by his son Clark, who died in 1989. He is survived by his daughter, Dixie Haywood of Pendleton, SC, his son Dale Hamer, of Seattle WA, 9 grandchildren, 5 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great granddaugther.

The family has great appreciation to his neighbors Bea Herd, Harold and Carol Nelson, and the nuns at St Anthony Hospital.
Dad was cremated at his request. A memorial will be held at a later date.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why I'm kinda mad at Fry's right now

I love Fry's Electronics normally. The place is like Mecca for geeks, except they put them conveniently nearer to you than Mecca is. I go there and it's like a religious experience. A really expensive religious experience.

Last week, I made a call to check on the balance of my Fry's card. It was really low, so yay. Except it also said I had no credit available. This was not right, so I pushed through to customer service. After explaining about the no credit available thing, the woman said it appeared to be a glitch in the system, everything was fine, I had a dangerously high amount of credit available. Awesome.

Saturday, we went to Fry's because I wanted to buy some cool stuff, as Wiwille suggests I am doing all the time. Shopped for a loooong time, because we always do when we go to Fry's, and got to the checkout with all our stuff, including Rock Band for the Xbox 360. It was a shopping trip made of awesome.

Then our card didn't work. And credit customer service was closed until Monday.

Dammit.

A nice (and hot) manager came over and put all our stuff on hold so we could come back and get it after the card issue was sorted out. Alrighty.

Monday comes, I get the card issue sorted out. For sure. I even call back into their phone system and it tells me I have unhealthy amounts of credit available. Awesome. We go back to Fry's.

The same nice (hot) manager girl is there, and sees us getting our stuff. She says somebody tried to sell our copy of Rock Band, but she wouldn't let them because she didn't want to let down our son. Cool. We get all our stuff and head to the car. As I'm loading the Rock Band box into the car, I see it says "PS2" on it. What the hell? Somebody swapped it so they could sell our 360 version. We go to exchange it, and sure enough, they're out of Rock Band for the 360.

Dammit.

The manager in the Returns department arranged for one to be shipped up to their store from another store in Oregon, and should be here in 2-3 days. That was nice of them, but dammit - we were really looking forward to some cheesy rockin' goodness last night. If I found out who pulled that swap so they could sell our package, I'd kick him in the nuts.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time flies when you're lame

It's been forever since I posted here. I am going to try to work on that.

Right now I'm just going to throw a few fun/amusing/interesting links at you:

  1. Alt Text had Lore (formerly of internet awesomeness Brunching Shuttlecocks) do an article on the controversy of supposedly explicit sex scenes in video games. Funny stuff, as only Lore can do.
  2. Flula Borg's American Hot Jams. I don't know what else to say. Courtesy Willtuck.
  3. Sarcastic Gamer does some funny parodies of ads and such. Courtesy my wife.
  4. Not funny, but very cool, PBS has a whole bunch of information about Nikola Tesla.
  5. My heroes Improv Everywhere pulled off a terrific scene at Grand Central Station.
  6. A long time ago, I heard about an episode of Conan O'Brien's Late Show where he went to interview Hunter S. Thompson at his home, and they drank and shot guns. I searched online for it for a long time, but to no avail. Wiwille found it for me. Wiser words have rarely been spoken - "Move your whiskey before you shoot."

All for now. Enjoy.

Friday, January 18, 2008

R.I.P. Bobby Fischer



My father taught me to play chess when I was 5 years old. I love the game; always have. I probably knew who Bobby Fischer was before I knew who Mister Rogers was.

Fischer died yesterday in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he was living since he became a wanted felon in the U.S. for the simple act of playing in a chess tournament in then-embargoed Yugoslavia. He was 64 years old.

Fischer was crazy as a bedbug, but he was an amazing chess player.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Damn funny....at least if you're me

If you are married and/or have children, you simply must - MUST - watch this video.