I'm so domesticated

Now I'm not sure if you know this or not, but my friends and my wife will tell you that I am a really, really good cook.

I'm not chef-quality, but I'm good. It's one of two things I'm not afraid to boast about and I have complete confidence in - that should tell you a lot.

Lately, I haven't been cooking much, mostly because it's just too easy to go plop a few lean pockets in the microwave and go about my day. So, Andrea surprised me yesterday under the guise of "Weekend after Thanksgiving Shopping" and took me to Williams-Sonoma and let me go wild.

And wild I did go. It was incredible - I now own a 12 quart All-Clad stockpot, with which I made today some of the most awesomest chili ever. I roasted a pork loin, browned some ground turkey and then stir-fried it with chopped chorizo and garlic, with some olive oil, then dumped it all into some chicken stock with pureed tomatoes, green chilis, some chili powder, and some other crap.

And just now, I consumed my first ever homemade cinnamon roll (made from this recipie):

I made this.


Anyway, I'm just posting this to say I love my wife. And also make you jealous.


Tiny Tim - an update

I'm looking for distractions while my wife shops for her mom, so I thought I'd let you guys know that we ended up adopting Tiny Tim ourselves. One family tried but decided they wanted a 'normal' kitten.


oh well - their stupidity is our sweet goofy-footed kitty.


Funnel Cakes, Santa and Christian Pop... This is a South Georgia Thanksgiving

So we headed down to Moultrie, GA for Thanksgiving this year.

As any Georgia resident can tell you, there's three distinct parts to Georgia - the metro area, the suburbs, and the rest - and the rest is what you think of when you think of the standard media imagery of Georgia. It's the south as the south as been depicted throughout history - and it's pretty tough to get more south than Moultrie. It's only a short distance from the Florida border, and Valdosta is pretty much a college town so it doesn't really count.

My sister-in-law and her husband have only lived here for a few years, but they've acclimated quite well - and they were excited for us to join them for the Thanksgiving evening tree-lighting ceremony / christian rock concert / santa claus welcoming / deep-fried food fest, which began promptly at 6:00PM when the much-vaunted "lighting of the town" happened:

The cheers that eminated from the crowd would lead you to belive this was the first time electricity had flowed through the town's power lines.

For some reason, I feel like there should be a DeLorean with a hook tied to a flux capacitor driving under this thing...

Shortly after the lighting and the cheering, the band - or rather, "Contemporary Christian Musicians" began to play.

Hooray for Crossing 47.

They weren't... Awful. But they were your standard Christian-lyrics-over-pop-hooks band. They were called Crossing 47. I have no idea what this means, but their t-shirts were $20.00. I guess they needed to pay for this swanky tour van and trailer:

They need this sweet trailer to tour Moultrie. Nah, they sounded fine, and they're doing well. Good for them.

So we walked a few feet forward and were immediately dragged toward the pony ride by our nephews.

And as soon as they were off the ponies, we were dragged to see Santa:

The big man himself, talking to a fully-grown adult who thought he'd be cute and get in the sleigh while at least 50 children waited their turn.

But to get to him, we had to wait in this line:

Forty. Damn. Minutes.

Yes, the wait was long, but at least we got to see 4 of the 8 reindeer:

I cannot stress enough how manic this crowd was to get a glimpse of the reindeer and the sleigh. It was madness.

And what would a southern gathering of any sort be without FUNNEL CAKES!

OH MAN it was SO good.

Anyway, that was my traditional southern Thanksgiving excursion. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a food-related coma to slip into.


So... The tryout

So, it's taken a few days to really consider it (actually, just to recover from it), but I've written up my feelings on the Georgia Force tryout this past Saturday and posted them on the Could I Have Made It site. So, like... If you wanna know about it, click on that link and then read the associated posting.

And if you don't... Well, here's Blizzardman:


Joe Peacock - now approved by The Church of England

Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham parish, an Area Bishop in The Church of England, has linked to my article about Christian evangelism and called it "required reading for all Christians."

For some clarity, here's how the hierarchy of The Church of England is set up. Bishop Alan Wilson would be upper middle management if this were a corporation - possibly Michael Scott (or David Brent, if you prefer) if it were The Office.


That's pretty much all I can say about that.


How football saved my life

A year and some months ago, I made the decision that I was going to attempt to join a professional football squadron.

When I started training for this little project, I had a few consistent months of working out and conditioning under my belt - but it was rather pedestrian stuff; simple routines that I performed in an hour a day at the gym. Then, last August, I decided to crank things up a bit and really go for the gusto, and it apparently did some good. I was asked back to 2 teams' follow-up tryouts and was fortunate enough to get interest and advice from some of the pros I was seeking to join.

It's been about 11 months since I last stepped on a field for a team to judge me, and in that time, I've seen my performance in just about every measurable area increase by roughly 30 percent.

I've seen my body fat go from 31% last year to 20% now. I've dropped from a size 44 pant to a size 40ish (sometimes 38?) pant. My bench press is up 95 lbs from my max last year, my squat is up over 200lbs, my leg press is up nearly 350lbs, and my power clean is up a full 90 lbs. I've shaved about half a second off my 40 yard dash, and almost a full second off of my shuttle drill.

Oh, and I also got some new tattoos, which as we all know, really round out the professional athlete training.

So, I'm pretty confident about my tryout tomorrow - that's not to say I think I'll make the team, but I definitely think I'll bring more to the table this time around. And that's the important thing I want to talk about here. Yes, the past year and some months of my life have been spent training for this moment. I won't lie - I want a roster spot. I want to play in the AFL. But if I don't make the squad, I won't see myself as a failure.

I've known my doctor for about three years now, and she says that I have added at least 20 years on to my life just from getting in shape. She never saw me at my absolute heaviest (around 2002 - here's some comparison photos, if you're curious), when I was about 53% body fat and a size 54 waist, and she still thinks I've done myself a world of good just in the three years she's known me. I can't imagine what she would have thought if she knew me back then.

And what's shocking, when I think back on it, is just how fast things went to hell for me.

In high school, I was very active. I played football, wrestled, and threw the shot put. After high school, I wrestled and played Judo at Georgia State, sticking with the Judo after the wrestling team was disbanded (even after I dropped out of school, I was still allowed to compete with the intramural Judo team). Then around November of 2000, I just... Stopped.

I dunno what the hell happened, to be quite honest. I got into a miserable career path during the height of the dot-com insanity, working 70 hours a week on bad code no one ever used (which is funny enough to think about, a football player writing code. But hey, it happens, and I'm proof). I ate garbage 24/7, and blamed the work schedule for not being able to work out. I went from roughly 230lbs to an insane 375 lbs in 2 years - and it's not like I saw myself in the mirror and thought "Wow, I need to quit this."

Because you just don't see it. You'd think you do... But you don't.

I've spoken to SO MANY guys in their 30's and 40's at my gym and elsewhere who can attest to what I'm about to tell you, and it's important that I note that I have witnesses because it sounds so hard to believe - but seriously, ask any ex-high school / college athlete you know if this is how it was for them, and I guarantee you the answer is 'yes.'

Here's how it goes:

You go six weeks without working out. You step on a scale and see you're 15 pounds heavier.

What you don't think:
"Holy crap, fifteen pounds... That's over 105,000 calories I'm going to have to cut out of my diet to get rid of! HOW DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?"

What you DO think: "Fifteen pounds... Probably water weight. Two weeks of training, max."

Another three months goes by. You're working your ass off, you're trying to keep the bills paid and the free time you do get, you spend relaxing with movies and video games. You don't really care about the scale, because by this time, fitting fitness and exercise into your schedule is so outside the realm of possibility you don't even want to consider what your body's going through. You look in the mirror and you don't see chunky bits, you simply see yourself.

A year goes by. You've been shopping for jeans twice now. The first time, you had to go up a size - well, going from a 36 to a 38 isn't a huge deal. But now, you're going into the 40's, and it's starting to hit you. You realize you need to do something. So, you say to yourself "This Saturday, I'm totally going to start." It's Tuesday. You spend Wednesday through Friday eating steaks and donuts, reminding yourself that this is the last time you'll be ingesting this garbage for a long, long time.

Then something comes up Saturday. You have to go take your dad to the airport or you convince yourself that the shower door needs to be fixed - whatever. The point is, you don't run. You are disappointed, but the type of shame you feel isn't anywhere near what you should, because at this point, this is life. You're a home owner, or maybe a renter. Perhaps you're a father now. You're a wage earner. You simply don't have the extra 12 hours a day to run and play and train like you did in school... Real life is taking over.

Another year goes by. You've bought stretchy pants, because it feels good to know you're still only a size 48 (even though they stretch to a 52). You have bought a gym membership which sits unused as you dump the 30 bucks monthly into it, because when you went, you were mesmerized by the equipment and you could totally see yourself biting the bullet and getting in there every morning before work. You convinced yourself that, while it'd be hard, you'd get up before the rest of the world because you knew you needed the exercise.

The membership card hasn't been scanned in three months. The last time you were there, you did some bench press, got depressed, ordered a smoothie and walked out.

You don't really pay attention in the mirror anymore, because you can definitely see that you've gotten heavier - but how much heavier, you have no concept. You look at old pictures of yourself, and that's the guy you still see in your mind's eye. The man in the mirror? The perspective just isn't there - you know it's you, but it's not the real you. It's not the you that you know you are, it's just temporary. Three months of training, and you'd be back to that old high school body.

That's how it goes. It's always "[x] weeks of training, and I could lose the weight. You'll see." But you never spend those months doing that training. You just think about it from time to time... And somehow, that passes for exercise in your head.

Then, one day, there's a reckoning. It might be your doctor telling you that you've got heart disease, and you need to lose the weight. Or it could be a diagnosis of diabetes. Or, an event takes place - one of my friends' wife was mugged in the streets of Chicago, and he couldn't defend her because he was completely out of breath. This same guy beat me in my one and only tournament defeat in wrestling in high school.

For me, there were two reckonings.

The first was on my honeymoon in 2002. Andrea and I went to Yosemite. She wanted to do a 14 mile hike around the entire park - up and down three mountains. I did it because hey, how bad could it be?

Well, I can tell you how bad it could be. I made it... But my 375lb body crashed for two days. I was absolutely destroyed. I felt like I'd ruined my wife's honeymoon.

When I got home, I started doing Atkins and South Beach and whatever other silly bullshit fad diets there were - anything to keep from actually working out. And they worked, in the short term. They do drop fat, and very quickly. But they're not sustainable, and within two years, I was gaining back all the weight I lost.

Then I started doing events with Team in Training in 2004, and that helped - at least I was exercising instead of relying on magic diets. But I would train for an event for three months, do it, then take the next six months off. It was absolutely the worst thing I could possibly do, because with each event, I'd prove this stupid point to myself that I could get in shape in time for an event. I didn't need to actually stay fit, all I needed was that coveted three months. And every event I did, I got slower and slower.

Then, in July of 2007, I had my second reckoning. I had to physically carry a morbidly obese family member whose feet were swollen with gout out of their home, along with two other guys. We drove this person to the hospital, where a team of six people put them on a stretcher.

It sent me into shock and woke me up. I was 30 - and this could easily be me in 10 years.

I knew then that if I wanted to avoid the fate of over half my blood family, where people have died of diabetes, heart disease and heart attacks, I had to take serious - and permanent - action. And I knew myself well enough to know that simply agreeing to work out every day wasn't going to cut it. I had to pick a goal and work toward it. So, I picked something lofty and pretty much unachievable - I wanted to play professional football. And since then, I've surprised pretty much everyone, but none moreso than myself. I can't believe I actually made it through cuts and worked at camp and have a real shot this year.

And that's where the win actually is. I won't say that it doesn't matter if I make the team - it matters. A lot. I want this pretty damn badly, and I didn't just spend the past eighteen months doing this for nothing. But the fact that I've managed to bring myself to this level and improve my overall health - the fact that I can actually see that little twinkle in my wife's eye when she sees me now - that's made all the difference.

Well, that and the fact that I can bench press a Volkswagen.

When younger guys ask me for advice in life, I usually tell them that I can only speak intelligently on one thing. It's not romance, because everyone's needs and wants when it comes to physical and emotional intimacy is different. And it's not money, because money is fleeting - it comes and it goes and every 5 years, there's a brand new way to make (and lose) a hell of a lot of it. The only place I can give advice is on physical fitness, and it's this:

Don't lose it.

If you're an active young person, stay that way. Even if it's only 3 days a week, an hour a day, those three hours out of your week are SO worth it when you compare it to what could happen when you don't do anything. And it goes fast - once the hormones quit pumping into your system and your body stops growing, you're going to experience a brand new thing, in that you can't eat a whole meat lover's pizza without some consequence - you're going to have to burn those 4,000 calories somewhere.

If you're a young person but aren't very active, NOW is the time to start. TRUST ME ON THIS. When you turn 22 or 23, your body stops metabolizing everything with lightning speed. When you turn 30, your bones start getting a little harder and stiffer, and your ability to recover starts to diminish. When you work out, you're literally tearing your body down so that it'll grow back tougher - and the longer you wait to start this process, the harder it is to gain benefit from it.

You don't have to eat only carrots and drink only tea - have fun, eat pizza, drink cokes. But do something with that energy, don't let it just sit on you and convert you to an inert fatass.

That's it. That's my only advice to the younger generations.

Palin pardons turkey... While other turkeys are slaughtered right behind her on camera

Look, the election is over, so I think we can all just look back on things and, you know... Laugh a little. Like the fact that 46% of you wanted this person as our next Vice President:

I haven't laughed this hard since the infamous "Turkey Drop" Thanksgiving episode of WKRP, shared below in the spirit of Thanksgiving. Probably my 2nd favorite episode of anything ever, next to Palin's fowled interview.


A 4 mile game of poker

Some folks asked what the hell my tweet meant today.

My dog has some trouble with her hips, and the vet we go to recently acquired a new "laser" therapy machine. It basically shoots a laser that penetrates through the body and heats the muscles and tissues, giving them a "deep heat massage." She's been through three of them so far, and it seems to help a lot.

As for a 4-mile game of poker, well... Andrea's doing Team in Training (I won't be able to this time around, for reasons that I can announce in January, but I'll be helping her fundraise - look forward to my begging you for cash soon). There's a fundraiser tonight where participants visit stations along a 4-mile course. Each station hands you a playing card. The longer you run, the more cards you get (up to 10). The best 5-card poker hand that night amongst the runners wins an iPod Shuffle.

Yay. Can't wait to run 4 miles for that.


Trying something new

For a while now, I've used a desktop and a laptop to do my work. I had mirrored environments on both machines, and would treat each like the other in terms of productivity, programs opened, and overall use.

One thing I've noticed is that, when I'm out of my office and working in the field, when i shut down IM and email and focus on work, I actually get it done. But I only do this when I'm out of my office - otherwise, all my points of contact with the outside world are wide open. This makes working on the desktop and the laptop somewhat less productive when I'm home.

So, today, I cleaned up my office and removed all of my "chatty" apps from the desktop. I've also removed my mail client, and have my laptop email backing up directly to the offsite storage (instead of going from the laptop to the desktop, then to offsite). My laptop has moved from the end of my desk, to the other side of my desk where I can spin around and do my "communications" working (email, IM, etc) when I need to do it, otherwise, I can focus on writing and drawing pretty pictures on the deskop with the laptop out of sight.

Let's see if it helps.

Um... It's just something in my eye. Honest.

How the hell does a YTMND make me cry? I mean, this is the site that gave us "Nigga stole my bike" and "Paris Hilton never changes facial expresssions" and of course the Captain Picard song... There's nothing serious or even meaningful there, is there?

I watched Star Wars Episode 3 tonight, and was kinda giggling to myself about the "Nooooooooolercoaster" YTMND, and figured I'd go dig through the site and laugh a bit. Then I ran across this one, and... Well, I dunno. It just hit me.

So I thought I'd share.

Go on with your day now. Quit staring at the big jock with a tear in his eye.

And sorry for not linking to the others I mentioned, although they're easy enough to find.


Lassiez-faire Capitalism = Terrorism?

Well, it turns out, in terms of the financial damage to the nation, Lazziez-faire Capitalism is actually more damaging than the 9/11 terror attacks.

Just thought that was interesting.

I love capitalism. I couldn't run my business of drawing pretty pictures and writing books without it. But there have to be rules, and those rules need to be enforced. Period. All good things become bad things when bad people abuse them, and I don't care how many American flag lapel pins someone has tacked to themselves, bad people are running our economy right now - both from the investing side and from the lawmaking side.


Review Time: Quantum of Solace

The critics are dipshits. Quantum of Solace RULES.

Unless you didn't like Casino Royale, in which case you're a dipshit too.

That's it, that's my review. Go see it. Or don't, it's just a movie. Which RULES. Unless you didn't like Casino Royale. But everyone liked Casino Royale. Everyone with taste, that is. Which is unfair to say, because taste is a matter of personal preference and is thus subjective. Except in this case, where it's so plainly obvious that Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace both absolutely RULE.

Unless you don't like them. Which is your opinion, and that's fine, I respect your right to have it.

But you're a dipshit if you don't like them.

You know why?

... Come on, you know why.

Because they RULE.


OMG SFG!!!!!!!!


Also, it's pretty tasty.


How do I feel about Prop 8?

I was asked by a friend of mine tonight (hey, Christie!) how I felt about California's Proposition 8 (which is basically the ban on same-sex marriage, or to be fair, the proposition that defines marriage as union between a man and a woman).

Well, from a strictly federalist standpoint, I believe that the citizens of California are the best to ask that question to, as I don't live in California and can't do anything about Prop 8 directly, short of moving there and voting on it during the next election.

Morally? I think it's big, big bullshit.

I wrote a little thing back in June; a rebuttal to this stupid misguided retarded right-wing "Ten Arguments against Gay Marriage" email thing that was forwarded to me AGAIN by overly-religious family members. I thought it was fairly clear where I stand on the topic of gay marriage, and I have to state here and now that if my friends and acquaintances would just read my stupid blog every single day, they'd know this stuff already!

That's actually one of the things I've discovered in the 10-ish years I've been writing on the internet - just because you wrote it down and posted it somewhere, you can't assume everyone knows about it - and even if they do, you can't make them interested in reading it. It's not for everyone, you know... This "reading" thing. It's an acquired taste.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I feel like the sacrament of Marriage was developed within the bounds of religion, and religion - for whatever reason - is in love with getting in the way of progress (so long as that progress is attempted during their lifetime... For all the insanity I've heard pouring out of religious zealots' mouths over the CERN Large Hadron Collider bring about the end of days, I haven't heard any crying over the use of the microwave oven...). But regardless, I think that it's just a damn word that means you're bonding your life with another person; gender be damned.

What the hell business is it of mine if two men or two women decide that they want to share checkbooks, credit cards, and power of attorney? Just because YOU don't believe two men can love one another as much as you love your spouse doesn't mean it doesn't happen, and that mindset is the mindset of a bigoted hunk of garbage. Love knows no bounds, my friends - it's not a choice you make, it something that takes control of you and makes you into a new person, and I refuse to allow anyone to tell me that that's a gender-specific thing.

In fact, I'd say that in 2008, expressions of love between gay couples that extend all the way to marching on street corners for days on end to protect their right to be with someone they love is a testiment to the sincerety of that love... You KNOW none of them are trying to get married because they accidentally got their partner pregnant, and none of them give a fuck about what the neighbors will think.

You can't tell me that Bristol Palin's upcoming nuptuals are all bells and bluebirds, my friends.

All I know is that, if someone told me I couldn't marry my wife, I'd rip their arm off and beat them with it. I applaud homosexuals the world over for not ripping arms off of social bigots and beating them.

You gay folk have some restraint, I'll tell ya.


Comic books as a trend... Once again

You know, the times... They are a-changing.

I never, ever thought I'd see the day that The Watchmen would be talked about in any regard on USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, or MTV. And I certainly never thought I'd see it on Access Hollywood. And of course, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk and Sin City and 300 have gotten all sorts of critical acclaim in the past 2 years. And as a comic fan of over 20 years, I'm supposed to be absolutely overjoyed - comics have finally arrived, right?

Well, no. It's not a banner day for me. It's not a banner day for most comic book fans, in fact.

Sorry to piss on the parade, but I'm not one of those who feel that comics have finally arrived. They haven't. They're a trend again, much like they were when the Superman movies first came out in the 80's, and again when Batman came out in 1990. Dave Sim said it best back when Tim Burton made over Batman - comics haven't arrived, Hollywood is just cannibalizing them for material.

Comics are becoming en vogue again, much like they did when Batman came out - and they're enjoying a tremendous boost in sales. But that's not because the general populace has finally figured out that comics are more than just doodles and kids toys. It's because they've become kitch. You're hip if you read The Watchmen before you saw The Watchmen. You're awesome when you wear a Rorschach or Comedian or Silk Spectre costume this past Halloween.

I've gotten on my little high horse about frat boys and society girls going on and on about 300, and how hard it was (and still is) for me to swallow since I spent my entire childhood and young adulthood suffering the slings and arrows of those who disrespected comics as things for kids, only to go apeshit over this latest spate of comic-property-based films and chasing down the source material. There is an entire empty bookshelf in my library where all my Sin City, 300, The Dark Knight Returns, Akira and other comic collections used to be. They're all on loan to people I know who never "got" comics - people who I've been passionately trying to convert to this storytelling medium for years.

This should make me happy. I know this.

But it doesn't. Instead, it makes me feel angry - like they couldn't just listen to me when I told them how wonderful these stories are. They needed society to tell them it was okay to check them out. And even now, they don't bounce from one great story into another - they only read the material directly related to the movie they just saw (or will see soon). They don't want to read The Long Halloween because The Dark Knight Returns was fantastic - they want to read it because they heard that "The Dark Knight" movie was based loosely on it.

Comics haven't arrived. They're just being treated like the belle of the ball for now. And soon, midnight will strike, and Hollywood will find something else to cannibalize, and the trend will be over... Will there be converts who stick with the medium? Sure. Every comic fan starts somewhere, and why not here? But will the droves of people who have made The Watchmen a bestseller once again be around?

Don't bet on it.

Strange dreams and other things

For the past month or so, I've been experiencing extremely vivid, almost life-like dreams.

That's not to say the dreams are realistic, just that they feel so real. I can't truly explain it well, but I'll try because hey, this is only the beginning of a blog post and I need to make it to the end.

Usually, when I dream, I know I'm dreaming. It's been this way for the majority of my life - at least, as long as I can remember. There's only been a very, very few instances where dreams have shaken me or made me question whether I was dreaming or not. And when it does happen, it's a feeling - it's not like my mind is capable of recognizing that what is going on isn't actually feasible, since hey - I'm dreaming. It just FEELS real.

But for the past month, every single night, I'm experiencing this sensation. Everything that happens in my dreams feels, to my "inner self" or whatever, like it's actually happening. And I only write about this now because of what happened last night / this morning.

In and amongst other things, I dreamed that the tattoo I have on my right calf had faded out due to a poor quality of ink. I made a mental note that I needed to call Todo at ABT Tattoo and complain about this. The worst part was the sensation that I was going to have to get the work redone, because getting a tattoo on the meat of your calf HURTS LIKE HELL. Out of 48 hours on my left arm, not once did I make Todo stop... But on my calf, after only 3 hours, I had to tap out and come back another day. It stung something fierce.


Now, I keep a notebook near my bed (I actually keep notebooks all over my house, because I'm quite flighty and when something hits me, I need to capture it immediately). Occasionally, I'll have a story idea or memory during my sleep, and I'll wake up, write it down, and go back to sleep.

I don't remember doing it, but apparently during the night last night, I woke up, wrote "CALL TODO AND YELL AT HIM!" and went back to sleep. I don't remember doing this - I don't even remember dreaming about doing this. But apparently I did it.

I don't know why this is worth writing about, or even if it is. But I did, so... Yeah. Here's this.


You take communion with that mouth?

Jesus fucking Christ!

I thought the Conservapedia entry on Barak Obama was bad... Then, someone sent me the Christopedia entry.

I'm not going to even bother arguing against either of these entries, as it's akin to arguing with children about how there isn't actually a monster under the bed. Irrational fear is exactly that -irrational.

But I do wonder, having been raised a Christian and knowing the Bible, why Christians fear Barak Obama - who they believe to be the anti-christ - becoming president. Isn't it part of the rapture that the anti-christ actually take control of the Earth? If you fight that and win, doesn't that fuck up the final call to home?

Aren't you then actively trying to disrupt God's plan? And doesn't that make you a sinner?

Christian fundie nutjobs should have voted FOR the antichri... I mean, Obama. And those of you who voted against him are going right to hell.

(Note - this isn't really a political post, per se. It's more a religious post, and I will never, ever promise to keep discussion about religion out of my blog, because - as you can see - it's wayyyyy too hard.)


Live action Akira movie... In Neo-New York

As I'm sure you know, I'm quite the fan of Akira.

I've known about the live action Akira movie plans for a while now. People who collect Akira stuff can't help but come into this information, since every single search for material comes up with a billion film blog entries discussing it, the IMDB entry, etc.

I've largely ignored the fan reviews of the early premises, since no real information has actually surfaced and everything except the cast is pure speculation. But Jeremy sent me this early review of the script for the first movie (the 6-volume graphic novel set is being split into 2 seperate movies).

I'm nervous.

First, though, let me say that I'm very happy to hear that the plan of making the movie based on the manga / graphic novels is still in tact. In my very humble opinion, the graphic novel is vastly superior to the anime as a story, and not just because I started with it.

Where I'm skeptical is in the over-americanization of the story. Yes, I know that having Leo DiCaprio as Kaneda would look odd with the rest of the cast being japanese, so fine - cast white skinned folks if you like. But why change the names? What's wrong with Tetsuo? Why does it have to be changed to Travis? Why is Ryu changed to Ray? And if you're going to go through the trouble of changing those names, why not change Kaneda to Kenneth? Kaneda isn't an American name.

The name thing all by itself is not my problem - it's a view into my problem. If they're changing the names (well, half of them) to American names and setting the film in Neo-New York instead of Neo-Tokyo, what other changes will they make half-heartedly to appeal to Americans? How will the civil war be depicted? What about the subtle themes of nationalization and foreign help during desasters, the psychological dramas taking place amongst the teens as they are forced into adulthood by war, and other undertones? Will they be shed in order to streamline the movie?

Reading the review, I see that Kaneda's gang is sort of a militia who has taken up the mantle of policing the streets. But you never see the boys' homes in either the manga or the anime - all you see is their boarding school. There are police everywhere in both story sets, as the city is clamped down due to the military being stationed and deployed in the mainland. The biker gangs are just that - gangs.

Furthermore, the Red Devils? Are they shedding the capsule iconography? What about the drug references? Drugs and control (and the perception of control) are major themes in Akira, and I believe an entire facet of the story would be lost without the imagery and use of drugs.

The reviewer says the script remains faithful to the original story - but what kind of faithful? Consider the Lord of the Rings trilogy - while it shed some characters like Tom Bombadil and neglected to show a lot of the ancillary material of the books, it remained faithful insofar as the intent of the story - the characters were faithful recreations, the epic tale of travel remained intact. All in all, one could easily see that details in LotR-movie were cut for time and cohesion in a film medium. Same goes with Shawshank Redemption and No Country For Old Men.

Contrast this to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Now, I know that the radio shows, novels and movie were all intended to be told in their own way, but come the fuck on - that movie was garbage.

It wasn't made poorly or filmed badly or poorly written - no. It deviated too far from a beloved story that was just fine on its own. Had they simply taken the book and written a movie directly from the events, using a narrator to serve as the wit delivery system of Douglas Adams, it would have been dandy. But instead, they tried to make it its own artistic whatever. And it failed.

So I'm concerned about Akira. I have been a fan of DiCaprio since Basketball Diaries (with the notable exceptions of Titanic and whatever movie it was he did where he was on that island and sucked). The dude has it upstairs, so I'm very very hopeful. And Hollywood seems to be doing a fine job with Americanization of foreign films (such as The Departed vs. Infernal Affair).

More than anything, I just worry that people will think I look silly with my tattoo.


My new big idea

This baby is going to change everything:

You know, for kids!


Marvin Gaye sings the National Anthem

My friend Eddie sent me this morning a clip of Marvin Gaye singing the National Anthem:

This seems so appropriate to hear and watch this morning - not just for the obvious "Hey look, black president... Hey look, black dude singing national anthem with soul... Isn't that great?"

Marvin Gaye was one of the most fervent American civil rights protesters we've seen. His songs were moving, sentimental, and touching... But they were something else. They were angry. What's Going On? Is one of the angriest albums I've ever heard - but you don't realize it the first, oh, twenty times you listen to it. It's only when you start really hearing those words he says so passionately that you realize, he's fighting for a better society; a society which was distinctly American.

When he sang this in 1983, The Cosby Show wasn't even on tv yet. We were a white-dominated nation, even the NBA - where he's singing this song - was still majority white. And as a civil rights fighter, he came out and he put his own style to the original arrangement, so as to say "Hey, America... You've got some soul in your belly, no matter how hard you try to fight it. You won't keep it down. It's gonna come out."

I wish Marvin Gaye, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Hosea Williams, W.E.B. Dubois, and many other freedom fighters who made this day possible could have seen it happen. I'd love to sit down with John Lewis - not interview style, but more like morning coffee style - and just hear what he has to say about this day.


I am enfranchised!

I am an Xbox 360

My friend Jay told me last night that I am an Xbox 360.

I have tons of content, which is fun to play and pretty cutting-edge in terms of the industry. I process things fast and I entertain you immensely... When I'm actually running. I keep getting red rings of death and have to be repaired, which takes months at times.

When I'm working, I'm awesome... But I'm broken so much that people end up turning to their PS3, or worse swapping to movies and tv. And like the 360, not having access to this entertaining thing you spent so much time loving makes you resent its absence... And in extreme cases, that frustration actually makes you hate it for being so great and so absent.

As much as I hate to admit it, he's pretty much right... Except that I'm not awesome. I just have pretty faceplates you can put on.


I write like a girl

Some men run like one, some men throw like one. I write like one:

Where the hell have I been?

The past two weeks have been a blur. Even I don't know where I've been half that time. The time I can catalog has been very exciting though.

This past weekend I spent in the woods learning how to find my way around them, then find other people lost in them, then treating those people and getting them the hell out of there. It's a GEMA-certified course, so now I can join local or national search and rescue teams when folks go missing, which is pretty cool. As a bonus, I now know how to make myself findable if I ever get lost, which would suck since I just learned how not to be lost.

As for why I did this, well... My wife needs the training for her job, since she's the coordinator for animal rescue for the Humane Society - which also means that, in the event of a disaster, she's going to be responsible for finding people too. Since she had to do it, I felt like it was the duty of a good husband to spend that time with her, and I ended up really enjoying the hell out of it. So now, I can not only go with her on these rescue missions, but I can actually be useful.

Let's see... Last week, I signed some papers which made me an agented writer. I am now represented by Byrd Leavell of The Waxman Agency, which is nifty. Ever since I signed with Penguin Books, I've been approached by various agents from various places. I even had my editor at Penguin screen a few - and none of them really fit the bill.

But Byrd and Waxman really seem to get what I'm up to, and support where I want to go with my writing. I really feel like the final piece of the big puzzle has been placed - I actually have someone out there fighting the good fight to see the stuff I want to write and love writing get some attention, instead of just "Hey, more Wal-mart stories plzkthx".

I have to be honest - the stagnation in my writing and my periods of "writers block" have a lot to do with my not wanting to write about myself anymore. Ever since book 1 came out, I've been pretty much over the whole "I want the world to know about me and what I do" thing, but not so much due to the subject matter (me) and more because the world seems less interested in the stuff I'd like to actually talk about. I've been really into sharing the periods of my life that saw development and growth, and less into the whole "Holy crap, I fucked over Wal-mart while PeTA protesters left logs of poo and Dell computers in the bathroom!" thing. Those stories are definitely funny, and I love sharing them... But I have no more of them.

That's not to say I have no more zany madcap adventures to share. I have tons, including the time Mike and I set a car on fire. But the thing that drove me when I first started writing - the need to be as zany as possible in my writing, without regard to how it affected me as a person - is gone. The Wal-mart story had an aftermath that I never shared in my writing (I had to do volunteer community service). I didn't write that bit or how it affected me or what happened during that time, because at the time, I wasn't concerned about forming a whole story about my life out of small stories and vignettes. I was concerned about getting attention - as much of it as possible. So I told the tale that way.

Now, I'm not in that place anymore. I suppose it's a factor of getting older or maturing or some shit, but I'm far more interested sharing the change aspects of my life rather than the events themselves. And every time I sit down to do that, I have to fight a war - not just a battle, but an entire war - in my own head.

Total Prosers is my favorite story that I've ever written. I can say that now that some time has passed after writing it, and after comparing it to everything else I've ever written. This story, on the surface, isn't really worth writing twenty thousand words about. A boy tries to cheat in school, gets caught, forms a friendship with his teacher and takes things too far. It's not movie material. It would make a horrible novel. In fact, its not even in the top ten most impactful moments of my life. But the vignette itself - the slice of my life it conveys - is important to me. The way it was written, the emotions conveyed... Everything down to the individual word choices in places - it's my favorite thing I've ever written.

That's the kind of thing I want to write now. That, and my little attempts to help people figure out things it took me forever to figure out, like how to work out in the gym and how to win a fist fight. I think what's really surfacing here is that I'm reaching a point in my life where it's no longer enough to just make people laugh or be the class clown for a moment of attention. I actually want to get through to people. I want to share with them moments and advice that let them say, at the very least, "at least I'm not alone in this world" - and in the best case scenario, I can actually help them get through some of the gnarly shit they're going through.

Reading through my old journals and stories, I know that my intention has always been to get people laughing and help them escape, however momentarily, the dull, or annoying, or painful moments of their life with a little tale of silliness. But how I go about doing that these days (or at least, how I want to) is completely different from how I started. And every single agent I've spoken with up until now saw more potential in the Wal-mart story and PeTA cow story and Dell story than they did in where I want to go with my work. So when I met Byrd and talked through the things I have in mind for myself, and his reaction was not one of "Well, that sounds great, but how about this idea I got while reading two of your stories" - it was very supportive and forward thinking. And that's a good thing.

Insofar as the new MI book is impacted, all this has done is call my attention to the fact that I need to get it done, and quickly. I won't go down the same old roads of promising a bunch of shit I'll inevitably fail at, but I will say that my focus has been retrained on getting this book done. Maybe I'll even do something about it here soon.

So, what else... There's been a lot going on which has gotten in the way of writing, and I've bored you with enough of the details of two of them that I'm not going to go into the rest. But it is good to be able to sit down and jot this out and not have to answer a phone every 2 minutes.

I also got Photoshop CS4, and it's freakin' awesome. I love it love it love it. But I will say I'm aggravated that the much promised 64-bit processor support for Macs isn't there, which is annoying.