Friday, August 31, 2007

Stephen King's The Mist

One of the very first books I ever read was Stephen King's The Skeleton Crew - a lengthy collection of King's early, previously published short stories.

I think it was around 1987 or so, when I picked up this particular book from Walden Book's at The Ohio Valley Mall.

And by 'picked up' I mean 'stole'.

The book resonated with me on a number of levels. A couple of my favorite story highlights from that particular book are:

- Mrs. Todd's Shortcut (about a lady obsessed with finding shortcuts)

- The Raft (about a mysterious oil slick on a pond, which was filmed in Creepshow 2)

- Survivor Type (a man, stranded on an island, finds the perfect meal)

- Cain Rose Up (eerily mimics the shootings at Virginia Tech and Columbine)

But the one short story that truly knocked my socks off and opened my world to the unlimited possibilities of fiction writing and crafting a good story was The Mist.

For all those unaware, the story is about this strange cloud that engulfs a small town in Maine, killing everyone caught in its path. Terrified survivors seek refuge in a supermarket, while a swarm of murderous creatures try to get in. As it turns out, the monsters outside the supermarket aren't nearly as terrifying as the psychological monsters that lurk within the survivors themselves.

After I finished the story, I closed the book and thought to myself, "My god, that would be a great movie."

I remember thinking how I would approach the whole movie if I was the director? First off, I would change the location to our country IGA outside of Martins Ferry, Ohio. I would also cast a bunch of local residents and bring some money to the city. As far as who I would I cast in the lead, Michael Douglas, Nicholas Cage, Kevin Costner and Patrick Swayze came to mind. (Remember this was 1988.)

At the same time, I remember coming across a news snippet in Fangoria Magazine that mentioned this director (Frank something or other) bought the rights to The Mist from Stephen King for a buck. I didn't know who this new hot-shot director was. To be honest, I'm not too sure anyone did at the time. But I was excited to hear that this movie was finally going to be made.

Suffice to say, time moved forward and I forgot about The Mist. I forgot about The Skeleton Crew. And for awhile, I even forgot about that young director. Until, of course, The Shawshank Redemption was released. And then The Green Mile.

Last year, I was checking out Stephen King's Web site when I came upon a press release announcing the director's intention to start production on The Mist. It was a well-written preamble about his dedication to the story and the project. But, it was the following excerpt that stood out the most:

"That segues to the final reason I'm so looking forward to doing this. In a sense, doing a film like THE MIST is like putting myself into film school and learning a whole new approach to what I do. I had a foretaste of that earlier this year when I had the privilege of directing an episode of THE SHIELD for my friend Shawn Ryan. It was a seven-day shoot, fast-fast-fast, and I have to say there was something wildly liberating about shooting that way...it was an opportunity to put aside my reverence for Kubrickian elegance for a moment (and the painstaking approach it entails) and shoot fast and loose instead, do a real seat-of-the-pants style that embraces the ragged edges as virtues instead of avoiding them as sins."

That said, today I came across the brand, spanking new trailer for The Mist.

Check it out here on You Tube.

Looks pretty exciting. The cast looks great including The Punisher's Thomas Jane as the lead. Not to mention Academy-award winner Marcia Gay Harden (Pollack) and Andre Braugher from Homicide: Life on the Street. I'm sure there's more work on the computer graphics, but from what I see in the trailer, it pretty much mirrors the way I saw the story in my head when I read it 20 years ago.

I hear the ending has been rewritten. In fact, a number of Hollywood directors and writers that were invited to an advance screening of the movie a couple months ago hail the ending as fascinating. Truth be told, I loved the orginal ending of the story and I hope they don't fuck with it too much.

You know, this is a great time to be a Stephen King movie lover.

In addition to The Dark Tower series being (possibly) directed and written by the JJ Abram's Lost team not to mention Cell being directed by Hostel's Eli Roth, I also heard someone bought the rights to my second favorite King story, The Long Walk.

Go ahead. Take a guess.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Big Ten Network Bend Over.

This whole Big Ten Cable Network/Ohio State Buckeyes football-thing is a bit unnerving.

The Big Ten commissioner is putting it upon us - the Ohio State football fans - to call our local cable providers and demand that they put the Big Ten network on our cable box so we can watch the first two Ohio State football games of 2007.

"Hey, it's not my problem," he's saying to the press. "Your cable company doesn't offer the Big Ten Network, so you have to do something about it, not me."

Otherwise you have four options: listen to it on the radio, go to a bar, head over to someone's house with DirectTV (or Insight Cable I just found out) or simply buy a ticket to the game.

It doesn't take a chemical engineer to know what all this is about...Dead Presidents. Dead Green Presidents. And no, not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. The big ones.

This is the same thing that happened with the Ohio State/Indiana game last year, which was broadcast on ESPNU. Sure, a couple people bitched, but the cable companies balked. Good for them I say. You know what I did during that particular ass-whopping? I went to a bar and hung out with a good friend that I hadn't seen in a while. It was pretty fun.

And you know the SEC, PAC-10 and other NCAA conferences are keeping a close eye on the outcome of this situation. The greedy bastards.

Let's be honest. The only reason you want the Big Ten network is for the first two football games.

"No way, Eimer! I want the Big Ten network for Ohio State basketball games as well."

Oh really? So you want to watch some shitty, early-season Ohio State basketball games that will be played in a half-filled arena?

"Uh nooooo. I also want it to watch other Big Ten and Ohio State sports as well. And let's not forget about the great Big Ten news coverage that will be coming in."

Hmmmm, is that so? Let's say it's a weekday night and you're flipping through your 600 channels and accidentally flip to some OSU men's volleyball game on the Big Ten channel. So, you're telling me that you're going to jump out of your seat and scream...

"Fuck Lost. Fuck Survivor. Fuck Battlestar Galactica and Fuck The Office. This is the programming I want to watch tonight!"

Unless you have a relative or a friend of an athlete that's playing in a second-tier Big Ten sport (e.g. lacrosse, soccer, track and field etc.) or you're a scout for an upcoming game - you're not going to watch it.

You may think you're going to. You may even check out one play. Only one. Just to say you watched it. But, trust me when I say this. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO WATCH THE BIG TEN NETWORK.

Never. Ever. Ever.

Okay, okay, you may watch 20 minutes of Big Ten Synchronized Swimming, but that's it. (I mean who doesn't want to watch girls with beautiful legs swimming around a pool?)

You know who I feel like? Mel Gibson in Ransom. But, in this case, my 'son' is the OSU Buckeyes football team and the 'kidnappers' are the Big Ten network.

You know what? I'm going on national television (i.e. this blog) to thumb my nose to the greedy kidnappers and say "Give me back my son."

But you still have a chance to do the right thing," Gibson character said to the kidnappers in the movie. "If you don't, well, then, God be with you, because nobody else on this Earth will be."

Fuck the Big Ten Network. And Fuck the higher bill for having this stupid network on our cable.

I'll be at the Winking Lizard in Peninsula, Ohio, watching the first two Buckeye football games. See you there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Are you there hornets? It's me...GOD!

A couple days ago, I was gassing up my (ahem) riding lawn mower and preparing to mow my two acres of lawn.

Did I ever mention that I have a riding lawn mower?

Anyhow, my neighbor trotted over and began pointing up into the pine trees that separate our house.

"Hey there," he said. "You better watch out, there's a nasty hornet's nest over there."

After scanning one of the pine trees for four or five minutes, my eyes hit paydirt. About 15 feet up, I saw this football-sized hornet's nest. I took a picture for posterity. (Above)

My first instinct was total caveman: I wanted to grab a brick and throw it at the nest. Then run.

My second instinct was more reasonable: I wanted to speed to Home Depot, buy some high-powered RAID, bide my time until nightfall and BAM! douse them with chemicals. Then immediately I would grab a hose and drown the little bastards. Then, of course, I'd grab a brick and throw it at the nest. Then run.

My third instinct was the Ghandi approach of peaceful resistance (or something like that): I would let the hornets live and thrive. In turn, I would thrive and live. And we would live in peace, prosperity and harmony with one another. Eventually, when Jack Frost arrives, nature will take its course and the hornets will drift off into a slow, deep sleep.

I decided to take option #3 and let them live. I hopped on my mower, started it up and began to mow. Did I ever mention that I have a riding lawn mower?

But, as I was mowing my lawn, I couldn't stop thinking about the hornets.

In essence, I was playing God by not killing them.

In essence, I'm playing God right now.

In essence, I like playing God.

Then I thought that - being their GOD and controlling their ultimate destiny and stuff - maybe they should offer me some sort of sacrifice. In turn, I will choose not to destroy their precious little nest.

Do hornets make some sort of hornet honey that I can bottle up and sell? Can the hornets go sting someone I hate? What should I demand of my hornet minions?

After thinking long and hard about this hornet predicament, I decided to give the hornets an ultimatum like Gort and Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still.

I want them to pray to me and give me one good reason why I should let them exist in my world (i.e. property).

If I don't hear from them in three days, I have to assume that they don't care about their civilization. Sadly, I will have no option but to destroy them.

What? You thought this was going to be funny?

To animate or not animate? That is the question.

Just finished watching the trailer for the new, animated Beowulf movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.

You can check it out here on YouTube.

First off, I love the story of Beowulf. It was required reading in my high school. I even made a tongue-in-cheek video with four of my classmates to show in our senior English class. Not sure if it was that great, but our teacher liked our creativity so we all ended up getting an A. During that time, we also read another cool story Sir Gaiwain and the Green Knight which, in my opinion, would make a finer animated movie than this.

That said, I recently read Beowulf again and it still stands the test of time as far as story, plot and pacing go. And after viewing the trailer, the movie looks pretty spectacular as well. The state-of-the-art animation looks visually appealing. The actors are top-notch including a very-nude Angelina Jolie and a gruff-looking Anthony Hopkins. And I truly hope that Zemeckis fixed the flat-faced, creepy, no-blink look of the actors in his previous animated movie The Polar Express.

Yet, although the animation looks great, I keep coming back to the same question...

Why animate it?

I’ve always had a problem with movies that, although good ideas, have no business being animated. At the moment, Final Fantasy, Don Bluth's Anastasia and Disney's Pocahontas and Mulan come to mind(although I'm sure I'll think of some more).

Sorry to say, but I think Beowulf falls into this category.

Although I'm going strictly by the trailer and my memory of the story, besides the various Grendel monster attacks and the final battle between Grendel and Beowulf, there seems to be no real reason to animate this film.

I believe they could have easily incorporated Grendel into the flim via CG. And he could have easily been as aesthetically believable as the Cave Troll during the goblin cave attack scene in The Lord of the Rings movie.

I’m no cinematographer, but the action sequences and beautiful landscapes could also be replicated with real life actors and CG added in later. Hell, film it in New Zealand like Jackson did with his trilogy.

From my understanding Zemeckis had all the actors act out their parts in motion-capture suits unlike your basic sit-and-record dialogue of many Pixar movies and TV animated shows. To add to that, all the animated characters look almost exactly like the original actors. WTF?

The budget for this animated film was upwards of $150 million. In comparison, the live-action Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie directed by Peter Jackson had a budget of $94 million.

Once again I ask, if they already have great actors acting out the scenes, a pretty-expensive budget and a great script, why doesn't Zemeckis just make it a kick-ass live-action summer popcorn flick?

I have a couple theories.

First, I think Polar Express and Beowulf are glorified ‘test projects’ for Zemeckis' next movie - an animated version of The Christmas Carol.

I've always thought Zemeckis made the movie Death Becomes Her with Goldie Hawn, Bruce Willis and Meryl Streep because he wanted to test new computer animation technology that could seemlessly be molded with new blue-screen technology.

Less than two years later, in 1994, he mastered some of those techniques and used them to perfection in his Academy-award winning movie Forrest Gump. Remember Lt. Dan's legs and all of the shots when Gump is actually part of historic TV footage?

In addition, Speilberg and Dreamworks SKG produce most of Zemeckis' stuff. I could easily see Speilberg giving Zemeckis the go-ahead to test new computer technologies for some of his movies and borrowing some of the best animated ideas for some of his projects (including his upcoming Tin-Tin movie).

My second theory is that perhaps he also wants to simplify the motion-capture technology to make a return to television as he did when he was the producer of HBO's Tales from the Crypt?

Think about a completely animated Tales from the Crypt with today's technology.

I'm not too sure I'm going to use my get-out-of-jail-free-card to run out to the theater and catch this flick. Like I said, I love the look of the animation. But, it seems a bit forced for this type of story.

Who knows? Maybe I'll be eating crow when this flick comes out and everybody shits their pants in the movie theater. I guess we'll see.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Good, New Music...Where Have Ye Gone?

The more I listen to the radio and new music, the more I hear a different band singing the same shitty song over and over and over again.

Is it me or is all of the new music out there today junk?

Okay, I've heard of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance and the guy that sings the song "You're Beautiful". But that's about it. And they're really not that fantastic.

It's not like I want to diss new music nowadays. On the contrary, I'm trying real hard to like some of today's artists. I actually want to listen to some twenty-somethings get their angst out in album form.

When thinking about the short attention span of the music industry and music fans nowadays, I'm reminded of the movie That Thing You Do.

Written and directed by Tom Hanks, the movie follows a band in the 60's who record this great little diddy called (surprise) That Thing You Do. They're signed by a record company and proceed to tour the country and, basically, sing the same song over and over and over again. They don't have any follow-up music as good as the tune that catapulted them to the top of the charts. Eventually, the group crashes and burns.

It's not a great movie, but it's sort of mirroring what's going on nowadays. With I-tunes, music downloads and all the pirating going around, it seems like we're going back to the times of the 50's and 60's when 45 record singles ruled the world and one-hit wonders were king.

Have new bands lived such a privy, non-suffering life that they have nothing to sing about besides love ballads to their high school sweetheart?

Need some inspiration? Go do some drugs, head out to a bar and bust someone's teeth in with a beer bottle. Then go home and write a song about it.

Just gimme some good music. Will ya?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dream Review #2 - Shootin' Arrows At Indy

I was in this living room that had three or four sofas, great artwork hanging and blood-red walls.

I was standing next to this 20' x 20' window with a pretty cool view of this city. It looked like a mix between Chicago, New York and Las Vegas.

In my hand, I noticed that I had a bow and arrow. I also noticed that my right leg had an arrow sticking out of it with a small stream of blood trickling down my leg onto the floor. I was dressed in a jeans, black shoes and a black t-shirt.

I looked across the room and standing next to a wall-size, flat-screen TV - playing what looked like Herbie Hancock's 'Rockit' video - was an older-looking Harrison Ford in full Indiana Jones-attire. He had a bow as well but, it was aimed in another direction.

I glanced towards this magnificant stainless, steel kitchen. Standing there was the hot, brunette chick from the new Transformers movie (Megan Fox). She had a black crossbow that was aimed right at me. I quickly drew my bow in her direction.

It was a Mexican, bow-and-arrow standoff.

Megan let an arrow fly. It punctured my chest above my heart. I yelled. Then I screamed. Then I was angry. Not regular angry, but Hulk angry.

Indy and I both took a couple shots at her. My arrow hit her in the stomach. Indy's arrow planted her in the arm. She screamed, broke off both arrows with her hand and began firing her crossbow. Arrows spewed out in rapid-fire motion almost like a machine gun. I ran for cover as a bevy of arrows busted through the window behind me throwing shards of glass everywhere.

It was a battle royale.

We hopped around, hid behind plants and furniture and continued to shoot arrows at each other. I noticed that my arrow pack would always replenish and I never had to look around for arrows on the ground. It was like I was in some sort of 3-D video game.

Dead silence. We reached a stand still, which I took as an opportunity.

With a dozen arrows poking out of my body, I took a running start, leapt into the air and jumped over a couch. In super-slow motion, I let two arrows fly from my bow. Both arrows hit their mark...head shots to Megan and Indy.

I landed on this white, polar-bear skin rug, which instantly stained with droplets of my blood. As I stood up, I saw Megan Fox's limp body face down in the kitchen sink. Her dead body must have hit the faucet before she died because the sink was overflowing with blood from her wounds. She was dead.

I shot a look over at Indy and, with dozens of arrows sticking out of his body as well, he was locked and loaded with an arrow pointed towards my skull. You could tell by the look on his face that he wasn't too concerned about dying. But, I was. I quickly reloaded and mirrored his aim.

It was yet another high-noon, Mexican standoff.

He smirked and said something that I took it to be a smart-ass remark. Then, I smirked and said something sarcastic back.

We both let our arrows fly.

I felt the penetration of the arrow going through my head right before I woke up.

MY INTERPRETATION: I'm looking forward to the new Indiana Jones movie AND if I can't have Megan Fox no one can.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The First Rule of Book Club is...


When I lived in Columbus, I was in a book club.

The thing I liked most about the book club was the fact that I was semi-forced to read books that were out of my normal reading element.

Some were good (The Devil and the White City, Friday Night Lights, Diary: A Novel and The Color of Magic); some were bad (Birds Without Wings and Blindess) and one was just plain awful (Prague: A Novel).

All in all, I thought it was a great idea. I could hang out and talk with like-minded people who loved to read. Sadly, it's something you don't see too often nowadays.

That said, I was looking to join a book club up here in Northeast Ohio. But due to my job, looking after a kid and preparing for our son's arrival in September, I really haven't had the time to pursue it.

Basically, I just read what I want to read when I want to read it. I'm not complaining because, right now, I'm reading some cool shit.

But, I still miss the book club atmosphere.

A couple of months ago, I was over at my buddy's house. And the conversation turned to books.

"I'd love to start a book club up here," he said.

"No shit? Me too," I responded.

"We should get it going," he said.

"I'm in," I responded. "Did you know I was in a book club in Columbus?"

"Oh, really. How was it?"

I proceeded to tell him how we ran the book club in Columbus. That we got together every six to eight weeks. That we brought food and alcohol to liven it up a bit. And that each person in the club took turns hosting it at their house.

All in all, he seemed pretty psyched.

"Oh yeah, I almost forgot," I said. "The person that hosts the book club gets to pick the next book that we read."

Complete silence.

"Wait a minute?" he blurted out. "You mean other people get to pick the book you're going to read?"

"Yeah," I said. "It's a book club." I made sure to put extra emphasis on the word 'club'. I might have even made the finger quotes with my hands.

He sat there for a couple seconds in silence. The wheels turning in his head.

"Nah, fuck that, I don't want to read books that other people pick," he said. "I'll just read my own stuff."

Oh well, back to the drawing (or reading) board.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Pottery Barn Fight Club

About a year ago, I was in Columbus hanging out with a bunch of my guy friends.

One of the guys (lets call him Pedro) brought up the subject of shopping with his wife. He mentioned that they went shopping the night before and stopped into Pottery Barn for some crates and shit.

Another guy immediately stopped mid-drink, sputtered a bit and blurted out:

"My God! I love to shop at Pottery Barn."

I was completely and utterly shocked. Why in the Hell were they talking about Pottery Barn while we're hanging out, tossing back some brews and being, well, men?

I've got a theory: If you're a dude and you love shopping at Pottery Barn, basically you're a fruitcake.

Maybe you’ve dabbled in college. Maybe you're interested in doing it right now. Maybe you will come out when you're older. But, if you love to shop at Pottery Barn, you are as fruity as a pack of Skittles.

I'm going to start a club. I'm going to blatantly rip off the movie Fight Club and call it POTTERY BARN FIGHT CLUB.

The first rule of Pottery Barn Fight Club is
YOU DON"T TALK ABOUT POTTERY BARN.

The second rule of Pottery Barn Fight Club is
YOU DON'T TALK ABOUT POTTERY BARN.

And, if you do talk about Pottery Barn,
YOU'VE GOT TO FIGHT.

Anytime you're hanging out with the guys and one of them talks about POTTERY BARN, punch him as hard as you can in his right arm. That's it. Then don't say anything.

If he mentions Pottery Barn again, punch him in his left arm as hard as you can. Repeat arms, every time he brings it up. Eventually, he'll realize the error of his ways and stop talking about Pottery Barn.

If he doesn't stop talking about Pottery Barn,
YOU'VE GOT TO FIGHT.

So guys, let's bring a little male-induced testosterone back to the good ol' United States of America, eh?

Let's stop talking shop, literally.

Unless, of course, you're talking about Sam's Club, Home Depot or Gorilla Glue.

Then, I'm all ears.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Roswell Uncovered on Sci-fi.com

I think the whole draw of the Roswel incident is that - if a UFO did actually crash and aliens were aboard - it's quite possibly one of the biggest findings in the history of mankind. Minus, of course, the invention of soap, electricity and the wheel.

No joke. Well, maybe a little. But, it's pretty damn interesting to say the least.

If this incident actually occurred, the bible and its philosophies about our existence are, pretty much, thrown out the window. Unless, of course, you interpret the 'antichrist' in Revelations as the arrival of aliens to the Earth.

Non-believers finally have some hard evidence thrown in front of their face. And, finally, we have some hard truth that there is life on other planets. It would change our whole philosophy about life and how we live. Perhaps even for the better. Now how cool would that be?

That said, I came across this site on Sci-Fi.com with never-before-seen witness testimonies on the UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico.

I kind of figured army veterans would be too scared of the government to talk about the incident until, basically, they were on their death beds. Check out the Sgt. Homer Rowlett's daughter's testimony (second from the top). It's pretty interesting.

Also, Jack Trowbridge's testimony about handling the UFO material from the crash is, in my opinion, completely believable. If he was handed a script, I don't know of any actor that could pull off the stutters and pauses of an old-man trying to recollect what happened more than 60 years ago. Plus, the guy already looks like a loon to people who don't believe. In my opinion, he had more to lose than to gain from doing this interview.

It's rumored that the dead aliens from Roswell were shipped to Wright Patterson Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio, for further examination after the crash. People say the bodies are still there to this day.

Last weekend, I approached my dad - who worked at Wright Pat in the late 60's.

"Hey Dad, did you ever see any dead aliens at Wright Pat?"

He stared straight ahead like I hit him with a ton of bricks. Then, he started to sweat profusely. All of a sudden, he dashed over to the window, drew the shades and proceeded to light up a cigarette.

After taking two long drags, he seemed to regain his composure.

"Promise me something, son," he said as he inhaled his Marlboro Light. "Never, ever speak of the grays again. You understand me, boy?"

I nodded.

Then he opened the door, walked outside and glanced up into the sky.

Very interesting indeed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Tonight, We Dine in History Class!"

Just watched 300 last night. Great cinematography, great action sequences, great plot. All in all, not too shabby of a movie.

On the drive to work today, I was thinking about 300 and the other violent sandal epics. Then I started contemplating how boring all of my history classes were, even in college. Gettysburg Address. check. George Washington and the cherry tree. check. Mayflower. check. Yawn. I mean how many times can we learn about the same thing over and over again in the same, boring way?

I heard about this book called The Dangerous Book for Boys. It's a glorified Boy Scout manual on how to make a fire, how to make a bow and arrow out of a tree, how to kill a zombie (not really, but it should). In any event, the book teaches kids survivor/battle techniques in a fun, cool way. It's getting great reviews and, guess what, boys are actually sitting down to read it!

Then I though up a great idea.

I propose that high schools and colleges teach a History of Violence class. No, not the movie where Viggo Mortensen bangs Mario Bello on the steps. But a real-life class complete with textbooks and a teachers who teach the violent history of mankind including various revolts, riots, assasinations and battles.

Like it or not, wicked brutal acts have shaped our world into what it is today. And a lot of these stories have gone unnoticed. For instance, did you know that American Indians in the Yellow Springs, Ohio, area would torture their enemies including the white man by slowing burning them (literally cooking their insides) for days at a time? Neither did I. But my response is "Cool. Tell me more!"

I don't know about you but I could relate to why the Pilgrims came to the new world a whole lot better if there was a little bit of the old ultra-violence mixed in with the teaching. It makes the class interesting and it makes the learning process FUN. Especially if you're male, like me.

Here are my class offerings:

HoV 101 - Violence in the Roman Empire, Sparta and the Greeks, the Mayans, etc.

HoV 102 - Violence surrounding the crusades, the vikings and the world travelers including Magellan and Columbus. I'm pretty sure Vlad the Impalor would be taught during this class. I'm also forgetting about the Mongol Empire, the Japanese Samurai and the Kingdom of Egypt.

HoV 103 - Violence in Europe (Great Britain, France, Scotland and Ireland) including various uprisings, battles, beheadings and riots. NOTE: I'm sure the Battle for Scottish Independence and the true Knights of the Round table could be inserted into either 102 or 103.

HoV 104 - Historic violence in America (Revolutionary War, Vietnam, Harper's Ferry, slavery, Civil War, riots, famous assinations etc.) and leading up to Columbine, 9/11 and the War in Iraq.

HoV 105 - Violence in the World Wars including juicy tidbits about the Battle of Stalingrad.

In addition to the violent history of Africa, South America and Asia, we could also focus on violence in music from the tribal drums of Africa and why drummers marched in the Revolutionary War to heavy-metal death music and satanism. We could focus on violence in television, books and movies as well. The violent possibilities are endless.

And I would hire my buddy - a history major and avid, bloodthirsty war monger - to help shape the syllabi for the classes. Heck, if he's reading this post right now, I give him permission to take the idea and run with it.

If I was a kid in high school or college and I saw these classes available, I would definitely sign up. Heck, I might even major in it.

Seriously, wouldn't it be cool to tell people you have a PHD in VIOLENCE?

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Most Badass Store in the World!


I don't know about you, but this is the perfect store to visit if you're gearing up for a kick-ass ninja/soldier battle against a bunch of Bruce Lee robots on some sort of Japanese mountaintop.

There's not too much I don't love about the sign either. I love the yellow font with the red background. I love the capital letters. I love the unique lettering of the word Karate Supplies as well. Heck, I even love the word supplies.

You know, when I was little and we passed a "FIREWORKS, NEXT EXIT" sign, I would press my head up against the car window, strain my neck to get a view of the store and then proceed to drool. It didn't matter if it was Fourth of July, Groundhog Day or Christmas, I couldn't wait to get my hands on some kick-ass smoke bombs, M-80s, roman candles and whistling bottle rockets.

That's how much I loved fireworks.

At the same time, I was what people nowadays would refer to as a ninja and army geek. I knew all the Karate, Ninja and War movies by heart. Revenge of the Ninja was a personal favorite that still stands the test of time to this very day. In hindsight, it was a good time to be alive.

During our summer vacations, my mom would load my brother, our friends and myself into our primer-gray station wagon and we'd hightail it over to the Army/Navy Surplus Store in Wheeling, West Virginia. We'd blow our allowance on throwing stars, nunchuks, army gear and survival knives. After that, we'd head over to St. Clairsville fireworks store to liquidate the rest of our dough on some high-tech artillery.

My mom didn't know this, but we were preparing for battle.

SIDENOTE: Also during this time, we would purposely run through thick, thorny bramble bushes with high hopes of getting a huge gash in our arm or leg in hopes that we could stitch ourselves just up like John Rambo did in First Blood after he jumped off the cliff and cut himself on a tree limb. But that's another story, eh?

Loaded with our gear, including BB guns, homemade WD-40 flame-throwers and bazooka-type rocket launchers pieced together with black tape and pipe, we'd head up into the woods to play a little game I liked to call Vietnam War.

We would split up into two teams: America and, well, Vietnam. Then, we would have a battle royale. We'd try to mimic the battle scenes we saw in Baa Baa Black Sheep and Apocalypse Now. But, it basically just turned into a free-for-all barrage of fireworks and gunfire aimed at no one in particular.

As I think back on those times, one word comes to mind... AWESOME.

So, imagine my surprise (delight?) when I saw the above sign on the way to the Adirondack Mountains about a month ago. My jaw dropped. Had I been ten-years old again, I'm pretty sure I would go into convulsions and foam at the mouth. I'm also pretty sure my head would explode like that guy in the movie Scanners.

Take a couple of minutes to imagine what the store looks like on the inside.

Oops, gotta go. I'm drooling again.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

200 pounds? No fucking way!

So, last weekend I was over at my future in-law's taking a pee in the bathroom when I noticed a white, 8" x 8" square on the floor.

It was a bathroom scale.

"Eh, what the hell," I thought.

I hopped on. It calculated 197 pounds.

"WHAT THE FUCK!" I muttered.

You know, I run almost every day. I eat salad. I eat turkey. I eat like an Asian. But, yet I’ve still managed to stay put in the upper 190's since the beginning of 2007.

Jack Frost, Mother Nature, Father Time and Old-Man Winter are having a good ol’ laugh at my expense. They’re also having an orgy (the lucky bastards).

But, I digress. I'm 35. I drink beer (Maybe 2, 3, or 18 per day.) My metabolism is definitely slowing down. And I eat a lot of french fries. So, it's not like I don't know where the extra calories are coming from.

Here’s a little mathematic equation I thought up:
Less than 20 minute workouts every day + continuous beer drinking x sitting on your ass typing ad copy for 8 hours = EXTRA POUNDAGE.

I read somewhere that every year of your life, you gain an extra pound. Almost a bastardized way of saying 'every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings'.

So when I’m 70 years old, I should weigh somewhere around 230 pounds.

Great. It won’t be long before you see me requesting one of those fat carts at Walmart to do my shopping.

I'm hungry. Pass the french fries and gravy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I did on my next 80 summer vacations.

Yesterday I read an article on the international rankings of life expectancy. Very interesting stuff.

Did you know that nearly a third of U.S. adults 20 years and older are obese, that black americans have an average life expectancy five years shorter than white Americans and that a relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday? Me neither!

As it turns out, Americans are living longer than ever. But not as long as people in 41 other countries (Japan and Singapore lead the pack).

The article also states that a baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. Not bad. But, considering that I'm 35 years old, I can already feel the cold, creeping hand of Mr. Death swinging his scythe at my neck.

Then I started thinking about vacations.

Basically, I've got about 80 vacations left before I die. That's counting two vacations per year plus 10 more for good merit.

Another thing to consider is my health. I'm going to roll the dice here and say that I'm going to be considerably healthy until I'm 55. That gives me a little more than 20 years (or 40 vacations) to be physically able to go on some sort of strenuous vacation (e.g. hiking Mount Everest, biking across Russia, hunting wild game in Africa, chasing down Bigfoot, etc.)

Then from 55 to 75, I'll have 20 years of sightseeing expeditions where I'll visit places that will have to have a restroom, hospital or diaper-changing station nearby due to my irritable bowels, gout and blindness. This will be the time to visit serene locations like Mount Rushmore, The Eiffel Tower, Stone Mountain, San Francisco and the Kentucky Derby.

Then from 75 to my ultimate death in April of 2050. I'll take a tip from the grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine and start sniffing heroin, banging as many old ladies I can get my hands on and coordinating my granddaughter's dance routine for some sort of futuristic beauty pageant.

Hey, at least I'm not a resident of Swaziland, where the life expectancy is 34.1 years.

If I lived there, I'd already be on borrowed time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My House in Bath vs. Lebron's

I recently moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to a small little town outside of Akron called Bath. Since our move, two unique conversations always spur up when I tell people I live in Bath.

RESPONSE #1: Oooh, that’s where Jeffrey Dahmer started his killing spree.

RESPONSE #2: Oooh, that’s where Lebron James lives.

I’d like to focus on LeBron.

Three miles down the hill from my house, Lebron James' is building his sprawling 35,440-square-foot mansion complete with a theater, bowling alley, casino and barber shop.

I just wanted to compare my humble abode to the basketball superstar and see just who’s living the ‘better life'.

#1 - I’m on two acres of land. LeBron’s on 5.6 acres. Ha! Lebron’s going to have to mow more than 4 times the amount of lawn that I’m going to mow. When I’m sitting back relaxing with a beer and hanging out with my dog and kids. James’ will still be weed-whipping around all those trees that his 42-inch riding mower couldn’t catch. – I win.

#2 – I have four walk-in closets (approx. 2’ x 5’) to hang about 100 clothes. Lebron will have a two-story walk-in closet, that will be about 40 feet wide and 56 feet long. I’d hate to see that laundry bill. Cha-Ching. I win.

#3 – My house has a make-shift dining room downstairs consisting of a metal table and four stools. Lebron’s will have two dining halls stretching a combined 61' x 64'. Impressive, but he better have a kick-ass garbage disposal and dish washer to clean off all those plates. Because, he’ll be washing dishes for a week! Jeez, this is embarrasing. I win again.

#4 – I have a one-car garage and an attached shed to hold my riding lawn mower. Lebron has a six-car garage near his ‘elevator’. Elevator? Pffft. I can save seconds by just opening the door to my garage to get to my car. I’ll be out of my driveway and headed to work before LeBron gets out of his ‘elevator’. I win, yet again.

#5 – The outer wall will feature a limestone sculpture of Lebron's head, wearing his trademark headband. The only sculptures that I have outside my house are about 15 piles of dogshit from m dog, Otto. I’ll give this one to LeBron.

Well, as I’ve proven above. Sometimes bigger isn’t better.

But, I digress, my girlfriend strolled down to drop off some brownies to Lebron and his posse.

I haven’t seen her in two days. I wonder what she’s been up to?

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's a Monday Trash Day Kinda Day.

I don't know about you, but there's nothing like waking up at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning, trudging to the garage and taking out the trash.

I'm not sure what I like best about Monday Trash Day. Could it be the shit smell from doggy bags and baby diapers? Could it be the smell of rotting chicken from last Monday that had a full week to decompose? Could it be the flies hovering around the cans looking for some way to get into the 'buried treasure'? Could it be the morning dew on the ground that gets your socks, shoes or slippers all wet while you're pulling your bins up the driveway?

Ahhhhhh, it's a wonderful feeling. Especially if you didn't get the trash prepared the night before. Then, you're running around like a crazy fucker.

You know, I've lived in almost 14 places since 1990 and, at each place, my trash day has fallen on a Monday. I know. I know. I think it's a little ridiculous, too. In my humble opinion, I think it totally starts the week off on a bad note. Unless, of course, you like the smell of rotting food and feces.

And let's not even talk about when it's snowing or raining outside. Man, what a bummer.

If I found a magic lamp with a genie inside that would grant me three wishes, here's what I'd wish for:
  1. The ability to teleport.
  2. The ability to make anything in a magazine or on the internet appear in front of me just by touching the object on the page.
  3. That Trash Day was always on Friday.

Instead of being pissed off yanking the garbage bins to the end of the driveway muttering like Yosemite Sam - I'd stop and think "Wait a minute. It's Friday!"

Then I'd start skipping around doing the Irish Leprechaun Click . Hell, I'd be so happy, that I would actually scour the house looking for trash to throw away simply because Trash Day was Friday.

Oh, to dream. To truly dream.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I saw Big Foot...online.

When my brother and I were little, my mom and dad took us to this movie called Sasquatch, The Legend of Bigfoot. The film followed these hikers as they searched for, and shared stories, about Bigfoot. It was a little hokey. A little scary. And a lot of fun.

Ever since that movie I've been hooked on Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti or whatever you want to call it.

In school, whenever we had some sort of project or book report to complete, I'd try to work Bigfoot into my idea. I even wrote a five-page english term paper in college on a Kids in the Hall skit that hinted to the theory that aliens were, in fact, Bigfoots that were dropped off by a spaceship (think E.T. with fur). It was a brilliant idea that, in a sense, eliminated two birds with one stone. I think I got a 'C' on it.

Back in the day, my three high school buddies thought up this master plan. We were going to call our local newspaper, the Martins Ferry Times Leader, and tell them we saw a Bigfoot in the woods above my house. We planned on buying a gorilla outfit, hiking up in the woods, taking a couple blurry pictures and sending them to the newspaper. Keep in mind this was the late 80's, before the internet, before photoshop and before you tube. So it seemed like a pretty good ruse at the time. We would be famous.

I'm not sure why we didn't do it. More than likely, we probably found a bum to buy us some beer and forgot about the idea altogether in a drunken blackout.

Still, my fascination with the mysterious creature has never waned.

That's why on a weekly basis I visit the The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization - it's a web site that keeps me informed on the latest sightings, expeditions and rumors surrounding Bigfoot. And, no, this site isn't some sort of joke. It's the real deal, my friends.

As it states on the web site, the mission of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) is "...essentially, to resolve the mystery surrounding the bigfoot phenomenon, that is, to derive conclusive documentation of the species' existence.''

One of the highlights of the site is The Comprehensive Sightings Database. Click on any state (in the U.S. or Canada) and you can find a sighting in virtually every county. I found a reported sighting near my home (Bath, Ohio) in Summit County down in the Cuyahoga Valley National Forest from 2005. After reading a couple of these reports, I'm convinced that most of these people, in fact, did see something. Is it a bear, a guy in a monkey suit or a hallucination? More than likely. Is it a Bigfoot? Welllll, you be the judge.

Another higlhight of BFRO.net is that it's the only place you can buy an 'official' FRAME 352 T-shirt. Unless you live under a rock, you know the photo I'm talking about (see picture above). I bought a Frame 352 t-shirt for my girlfriend last Christmas (yep, she's still with me) and when she wears it out to some sort of get together, she's the talk of the party. Or at least I think she is.

Every year, BFRO also puts together some cool Bigfoot expeditions to locations in North America that have reported 'heavy Bigfoot sightings' in the past couple of years.

According to BFRO, there have been more than 30 open expeditions (i.e. allowing in non-members as observers) with over 600 attendees, collectively. More than half that number consider themselves Class B witnesses (i.e. people who have not seen a bigfoot clearly, but have had either a quick sighting, or a confrontation in dark, or at least was close enough to hear a bigfoot). In addition, the BFRO has gotten close enough to at least hear sasquatches on all, but three, of its expeditions.

If I had the time, I would definitely venture out on one of these expeditions. Hey, it beats going to the Outer Banks or some other boring spot where you sit and stare at the beach like a mindless zombie slurping on a Pina Colada. At least the expeditions sound fun, creative and adventurous. Plus, I'm pretty sure it would be an experience you would never forget even if you failed to see a Yeti.

That said, if I decided to go on one of these expeditions I'm not too sure I would tell my co-workers, my family or anyone for that matter. I mean, just imagine the conversations after you returned from one of these expeditions:

JIM: Hey Eimer, how was the vacation?

ME: Er, good.

JIM: What'd you do?

ME: (Sighs) Well, if you must know, I hooked up with a search team from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization and we searched for Sasquatch in the West Virginia Wilderness.

JIM: (silent) Mmm. Hmmm. Nice talking to you.

Jim would then proceed to tell every single person in the office about the conversation that just transpired. Then I would get endless Bigfoot pictures and e-mails sent to me. Plus, I'd for sure be known as the 'Bigfoot Guy' and have to defend myself to my co-workers over and over and over again. I'm pretty sure my retirement party would also have a Bigfoot theme - even a possible Sasquatch Stripper.

That's why I'd lie and say I went to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness Monster instead.

Stay tuned for FIVE PIECES OF PROOF THAT BIGFOOT IS ALIVE!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

We Must Listen to the Squids!

Yet another giant squid washed up on the coast of some beach today. Weird, huh?

When I was little, the only pictures of giant squids could be found in my old Mysteries of the World books alongside the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot.

And there were no pictures - just old, ink-drawn pictures of a Giant Squid attacking a pirate ship. But, those stories would keep me up at nights screaming in terror.

Nowadays, real-life giant squids are washing up everywhere. They're about as visible as the common house fly. And no one seems to care:

INTERIOR SHOT
Martha and Stan Are Watching Television.

STAN: Oh look Martha! Another Giant Squid was caught off the coast of New Zealand.

MARTHA: Yawn. I'm bored. Either turn the channel to 'Dancing with the Stars' or fuck me. You choose.

STAN: (clicking remote furiously with pecking sound SFX) Yes dear.

FADE TO BLACK

What's going on in the world? Is anybody else as worried about the Giant Squids as I am. Why in the Hell are they're washing up on our sandy beaches?

I have a theory that I call the Star Trek IV Theory. Just like the whales in the hit movie with James T. Kirk and Spock, I think the squids are trying to tell us something.

I'm not sure what it is but I think it has something to do with homosexual marriage or Posh Spice.

Stay tuned.

(2007) Be Kind Rewind Trailer

I've seen all of Michel Gondry's work including a handful of his music videos. In his films (i.e. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Human Nature and The Science of Sleep) he creates these strange, surreal worlds that blur our interpretation of reality as we know it. That said, I've heard about this film for more than a year and, after hearing the premise, couldn't believe that any studio would agree to back it. I like the idea. Plus, it looks like everyone is having fun in the trailer. I just think it's refreshing to see a brilliant idea pumped through the Hollywood sequel machine. I'm definitely buying a ticket for this one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Dream Review #1 - ATTACK!

Most of my dreams are usually pretty stupid. Myself falling, running from something, sitting down for a test and realizing I haven't studied or even going online to see that my checking account is overdrawn (Wait. That's not a dream!)

In any event, I also have some very, very strange dreams. That's when I thought it would be fun to share some of my rather 'cool' dreams with the viewing public. NOTE: If your eyes are already glazing over, I completely understand. But, trust me, I won't bore you with the stupid dreams. I'll bore you with the interesting ones instead. So, here's my first online dream review titled: ATTACK! I had it last night.

So there I was standing in line at the Army Reserves with my good friend Tom. We were the same age we are right now - thirtysomething- and for the life of me I can't remember why we decided to sign up.

We filled out the required paperwork, put on our issued fatigues and walked through this green, steel door. The room was empty with the exception of a rather impatient Gunny Staff Sgt. Hartman from Full Metal Jacket standing in the middle of the room with his arms behind his back.

"Oh shit," I whispered to Tom. "We're in for it."

"GET YER ASS OVER HERE," he yelled at us. "It's time for basic training."

We ran over and stood side-by-side. I was expecting a tirade and getting a big hock of spit in my face. But, he simply put his arms on his hips and said, "NOW DON'T JUST STAND THERE! GIMME 20."

We both immediately hit the ground and pumped out 20 push-ups. We stood up and Sgt. Hartman had two machine guns in his hands. "Congratulations," he said. "You passed."

Sweet.

We all hopped in a jeep and drove off the army base. The land around me started to look vaguely familiar. We were in the country passing various farm houses. We also passed an IGA, a couple of exploded gas stations and a farmer's market where farmers were selling these really, really big pieces of corn. The sky was an eerie reddish-purple and, in the distance, I noticed explosions blasting away in the woods.

Then we passed an ice-cream shop and an old-time video store that I used to visit when I was young. That's when I realized we were in the Ohio Valley. The jeep took a couple hard turns. As I passed my old grade school, the jeep careened up a hill and we pulled into my parent's driveway. Bombs were exploding at the top of the hills. Schrapnel was raining from the sky. The Sgt turned around in his seat to face us. "You've got orders to defend this station."

We got out and the sarge tossed us a bag of bullets, some grenades, a couple jugs of water, a six-pack of banana-strawberry yogurt (huh?) and a couple hiking backpacks filled to the brim with supplies and food. As he started up the jeep, an explosion rocked my backyard, I noticed a bunch of basketballs, kickballs and baseballs get thrown into the air and a couple trees cracked and fell on top of the house.

"God be with you," he yelled as he peeled out of the driveway. "They're attacking at night!"

"Who's attacking at night?" I yelled. I looked over to Tom who shrugged and started firing his gun at the hills. I followed his lead. Mortar blasts landed all around our house. It was getting pretty heavy so we ducked under my Dad's green Hyundai for protection.

"Man down" Tom yelled. "I've been hit."

He opened up his shirt and there was a grenade sticking out of his stomach. My first instinct was to run. But I noticed that the pin wasn't pulled yet. So I hung around to help him out. Then, I felt something slam into my body. I lifted my jacket and found a similar grenade sticking out of my stomach. "Fuck," I yelled. "YOU BASTARDS." I started to fire my machine gun into the woods. I even tossed a couple hand grenades for good measure.

Then we heard a strange rumble of footsteps. It was coming from the top of the mountain across the road and was headed our way.

Tom and I looked at each other. I tossed him some bullets from the bag and we reloaded. The rumble grew louder and I could see faint puffs of dust coming through the trees as whatever it was making its way down the hill.
I shuffled around in my pack and found a bottle of whiskey. We both took gulps and prepared for battle.

Suddenly, over the top of the guardrail leapt these human-size RAT CREATURES dressed in full-military fatigue. They looked like the evil rats from the movie The Secret of Nimh. Hundreds if not thousands of them were skittering toward us like angry cockroaches.
The creatures noticed us and halted. Howls and hisses came from the angry mob.

One of the bigger rats who had a bevy of medals pinned to his jacket (perhaps the General Rat?) pulled himself high above the rest of the army and held up a paw. He spoke some rat gibberish and the rat army cheered. Then, he turned toward us and hissed. His army started to charge and rounds of ammo shot out of their M-16s pinging my Dad's rusted car.

We unloaded our guns toward the creatures. Many of them fell dead at our feet. I could feel the warm blood on my face as I shot off my last round and blew off a rat's head. Then, a realization came to me. We were going to die.

I didn't want to get gnawed to death by a bunch of ARMY RAT CREATURES so I pulled up my shirt and yanked the pin from the grenade in my stomach. Tom followed my lead and did the same.

The rat creatures were closing in. The General Rat leapt in the air (a la' Watership Down) with his fangs and claws outstretched ready to attack. Blood was pouring from its mouth....

I woke up.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Beers...at the zoo

A couple years ago, my girlfriend and I were looking for something to do in Columbus, Ohio. It was Saturday. It was a nice day. The weather was warm and we wanted to do something different. After ruling out a gay bar - we decided to go to the Columbus Zoo.

Before we hit the road, we decided to get a six-pack for our trip. I popped open a couple 'road pops' and guzzled them down. Say what you will about 'road pops', but - in my opinion - they are as Americana as baseball, apple pie and cocaine.

We arrived at the zoo and exited the car. Like a college dude on Spring Break, I shot-gunned two more Milwaukee Best Light’s before we got to the ticket booth. Suffice to say, I was a little buzzed.

The zoo was fun. It was a bright, sunny day with puffy, white clouds dancing in the sky. We saw the monkeys. We saw the reptiles. We even checked out the big-ass manatees. Then the doldrums set in and I started to get sleepy. I suddenly realized that, slowly but surely, I was losing my buzz.

That sucked because, quite frankly, I didn't want to lose my buzz. In fact, I wanted to add to my buzz. More importantly, maybe - just maybe - I wanted to get DRUNK AT THE ZOO!

Now I can understand why the Columbus Zoo doesn’t really announce to the world that they’re selling beer at the zoo.

In all honesty, I did see a number of white-trash couples and their kids (complete with the brown dirt-rings around their face) mixed in with the majority of Dublin-centric crackers. My theory is the zoo doesn’t really want either demographic getting drunk.

Some will think they're at the Memorial Tournament, take off their shirts and hoot and holler for Tiger Woods while others might think it's the state fair, take off their shirts and hoot and holler for Conway Twitty. Undeniably, they'll both make complete asses out of themselves.

I mean, just imagine a bunch of free-loving moms and dads hanging around the zoo, with their Dr. Suess hats on, smelling of beer breath? How dare the adults have a good time while staring at monkey’s mating or flamingo’s farting. How dare we have fun, I say! HOW DARE WE!

Enough was enough. I couldn't take it anymore. I needed a beer and I needed one now.

Out of pure curiosity, I approached this pimply-faced zoo worker who was sweeping up cigarette butts with a broom and a dust pan. He sort of looked like that pimply faced guy you see on The Simpsons:

“Hey man,” I asked looking back-and-forth like I was involved in some sort of drug deal. “You know where can we get some beer around here?”

The guy's face lit up, he smiled a mouth full of silver and pointed toward a small, snack shop next to the big lake in the center of the Zoo.

“It’s over there," he said slyly. "While you're at it, have one for me. Snk. Snk.”

We dashed over to this run-of-mill snack shop. Don't quote me on this, but I think it was the Prairie Outpost.

“Hey there," I asked inconspicuously. "Do you have beer?”

The teenage girl looked around (once again like it was a drug deal), smiled and nodded.

I slammed down a $20 bill and bellowed to the world with glee “Madam, I'll take four of your finest beers. Chop. Chop.”

So when you’re at any zoo, either solo or with the kids, why not make the event a little more bear-able (heh, heh)? Go up to the first pimply-faced kid worker you see and ask...

“Soooo, where’s the beer?”

Monday, August 6, 2007

Into The Wild Trailer

Check out the new trailer for "Into the Wild" directed by Sean Penn. For anyone that's ever wanted to leave their job, cut up their credit cards, give their middle finger to a career and wander the world, this movie is for you. It's based on a true story by Jon Krakauer. Although, even though I read it more than 10 years ago, the book still resonates in my brain to this day. I hear from early reviews that Penn knocked this one out of the park. We'll see. In addition to Stephen King's The Mist (directed by Frank Darabont), this is another 'must-see' movie for me this year.

Opposite Ends of the Shopping Spectrum.

This past week, I had the (dis)honor of shopping at both Target and Wal-mart - two completely opposite ends of the shopping spectrum, in my opinion.

On average, Target attracts around 80% beautiful people and 20% ugly people. Wal-mart just attracts the uglies. It’s like the shoppers pulled themselves out of the sewer like the movie C.H.U.D., filled out a credit-card application and shuffled into a Wal-mart. Ewww.

SIDENOTE: When is C.H.U.D. ever going to be a Broadway musical? That would be badass.

Look, I agree that Wal-mart has great discounts - maybe even better than Target. I even like that little yellow smiling, whistling happy face that hops around from product to product, giving discounts and making everyone giddy. But, you know what? I don’t fucking care. I'll spend the extra dough just so I can look at some pretty (sometimes even foxy) people when I shop.

Walking down the aisles of Wal-mart, you run into rude moms and dads (with a slight scent of Jack Daniels, I believe). They've got 20 kids hanging off their shopping cart (like one of those trains in India) leaving a trail of candy, toys and used tissues in their path. It's like a white-trash hurricane hit or something. Plus, almost everyone is on their cell-phone, talking really loud and jabbering about their ex-boy(girl)friend and what an asshole (s)he is. In the same breath they're yelling, screaming and spanking their brood along the way.

And what’s with those kids? Every single Wal-mart kid I've seen has that brown, dirt ring-around-the-mouth look. It’s like they drank a glass of MUD-FLAVORED KOOL-AID before they entered the store. Note to Parents: There are these little things called 'wipes'. You can find them in the baby section of Wal-mart. Check 'em out! They work.

Rather than go into exhaustive detail on the subject, I’d simply like to compare both stores to SEX. Ladies, feel free to switch it around to 'dudes' if you must. It still works.

Target is like a hot woman who digs you. She may even love you. Even before you go inside her, you realize she’s clean, she smells nice and she’s wearing freshly laundered white panties. When you go in her, you have such a great experience that you want to come back again and again and again.

Wal-mart, on the other hand, is like a one-night stand gone bad. You keep telling yourself, “Everything is cool. This is going to be OK. Hopefully she doesn't have any diseases” Even before you go inside, you see some debris scattered around her 'area'. You realize she’s wearing nasty panties that she hasn’t changed in a week, if not a month. You go in anyhow and there’s a nasty funk overpowering the place. After you're 'finished' and she's resting her head on your shoulder, you want to pull a Coyote Ugly and gnaw your arm off just to get away. When you finally get away you take, like, 15 showers with a Brillo pad curled up in your bath-tub, sobbing.

Then, the next day, you send Target a dozen roses telling her that you love her, you apologize for cheating on her and ask her to take you back.

You know she'll take you back. She always does.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Midnight Meat Train

Ever since Hellraiser came out in 1987, I've been hooked on the writing of horror novelist Clive Barker.

I picked up his Books of Blood series when I was a sophomore in high school. Not counting Dr. Suess, choose-your-own-adventure books, comics or graphic novels, the Books of Blood were the first actual novels that I ever read. I shit you not. In an indirect way, I guess you could say that Barker's fiction started me on my own path to an eventual career in writing.

Barker creates some very heady horror that's definitely not your typical run-of-the-mill, monster-in-the-closet type stuff. I've always been a bit jealous of the imaginary and horrific worlds he's created in his books. Also, some of his writings are extremely sexual. I'm talking monster-on-human sex here. I think that was another reason I was drawn to his books. Not because I'm some perv (well, maybe), but because he's not afraid to take chances with his creations - even in a psycho-sexual way. The man has no inhibition when it comes to his writing. And I think that's great to see.

After the Books of Blood series, I picked up most of his other works. Some of my personal favorites include The Damnation Game, The Great and Secret Show and Imajica. Although I haven't visited Clive's realm in a while, I did re-read two of his children's novels - Abarat and The Thief of Always - in order to get some strategic writing tips on how to tackle my own children's book.

That said, I came across the above movie poster for Midnight Meat Train, one of the stories adapted from Clive's Books of Blood series.

Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura (whom I've never heard of or seen any of his films), the story/movie follows a NYC photographer who attempts to track down a serial killer dubbed the "Subway Butcher". In the end, he discovers more than he bargained for under the city streets. Much more.

I won't give away the ending, but it's a very good twist - a' la Se7en - that, if done well, will leave people with their mouths wide open when they leave the theater.

IMDB reports that Vinnie Jones (the retired soccer thug in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Brooke Shields are in the flick, which has a tentative release date of 2008.

This could be a very good horror movie. If you're interested, I also suggest you pick up the Books of Blood series at Amazon.com.

That way, you can see, firsthand, what the hell I'm taking about

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Six Surefire Ways to Beat Stress.

There's no way to avoid stress altogether. Pressures and tensions are a normal part of everyday existence.

But, learning to protect yourself from the effects of chronic stress may help you live a longer, healthier life.

That's why I've come up with SIX surefire ways to remain stress-free throughout the day:
  1. Get a hand job.


  2. Rent the movie Irreversible.


  3. Find a kitty on the side of the road. Adopt it. Kill it.


  4. Go up to a bum and piss in his donation cup.


  5. Breathe in...about five cigarettes and two shots of Jack Daniels per day.


  6. Start a fight with your spouse every night. Make sure the focus is about money.

Practice these techniques once or twice daily. Best times are before breakfast and/or after dinner.

Good luck and happy living.

Great Gonzo! Gotta Grab that Gorilla Glue!

When I walk into Home Depot - or any store for that matter - it takes a lot for me to get excited about any specific product, even jerk lube.

You buy it – then you either wear it, use it or eat it. Then you throw it away. That’s that. End of story.

But there's this new product on the market that's gotten me really excited about life. It's called Gorilla Glue.

For all of you totally unaware of Gorilla Glue, it’s no big deal. It’s only THE TOUGHEST FUCKING GLUE ON THIS PLANET. I'll spare you the history lesson, but Gorilla Glue is an interior/exterior adhesive used for most household fixes. It repairs thing you never thought could be repaired. It fixes things before they need fixing. Sometimes you can even use Gorilla Glue on something to make it that much stronger. Plus, it's waterproof.

I'm so elated about this product, I honestly want to find a way to live longer to use it for many years to come.

That's how fucking cowboy this stuff is.

A couple weeks ago, I was cleaning out my garage and arranging shit when my dad, who was visiting for the weekend, walked in. Immediately, he gazed over to this small orange bottle sitting on top of my riding lawn mower. Like a beagle sniffing out a rabbit he walked over, grabbed the bottle and gave me a proud look.

"You’ve got Gorilla Glue."

I nodded. "Fuck yeah, I’ve got Gorilla Glue."

"I can’t believe you have Gorilla Glue."

"It’s a good fucking glue."

"I love Gorilla Glue," he said.

I nodded again. "I love it too, Dad. I love it too."

Then, we proceeded to trade stories about how awesome Gorilla Glue is and the many different objects we used our it on.

"I fixed my vacuum cleaner with it."

"Oh yeah, well I fixed a hole in our swimming pool."

"Well, I also repaired a desk with it."

"That's nothing. I attached my little pinky finger back on after I cut it off on the bandsaw."

"No shit?"

"I shit you not."

Suddenly, my girlfriend poked her head into the garage. "What in the hell are you guys carrying on about ?"

With a Chesire Cat smile, I held up the bottle of Gorilla Glue. She rolled her eyes and went back into the house.

"Hey Dad, look what else I got," I yelled as I ran over to my workbench.

I held up Gorilla Glue Duct Tape.

"I've got it too!" my Dad screamed.

"Isn't it awesome?" I added. "I taped up our patio furniture with it."

"Well I used it on my muffler!"

The Gorilla Glue one-ups continued throughout the night.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Ladies & Germs, We've Got Vista - Adirondacks Day #3

As Day #2 of our Adirondack adventure came to a close, we started a fire, warmed our wet clothes and said a Waltons
goodnight. I hopped in my one-person tent and closed my eyes.

Then I realized something. The pitter-patter of rain had stopped.

I unzipped my tent, looked in the sky and brilliant stars greeted me with a sparkly hello (or something like that). I ripped my rain flap off of my tent and decided to sleep under the stars.

It was, hands down, the most relaxing sleep I’ve had in ages.

I awoke to a slight hangover and beautiful blue skies. Hope was renewed that today would be the day to finally see a vista. After a nice breakfast bar, some Bailey’s coffee and a package of Ramen Noodles (a breakfast staple) we got our shit together, threw away our trash and exited stage left. This place had been our home for the past two nights. In a way, it was going to be hard to leave.

Goodbye Adirondack Loj, see you in a couple of years. Time to hit some mountains.

If Noonmark and Giant Mountain were people, they would be next-door neighbors. They could borrow flour from each other with a simple shout out the window. Highway 73 splits Giant with Noonmark and Round mountain - the two peaks we were planning on hiking today thanks, in part, to a guy’s advice at the end of yesterday's journey.

Being Saturday, the parking lots were jammed. There was even an old, raggedy lady selling spots on her property to fellow hikers in search of a vista. After seeing all the cars, the first thing that crossed my mind was, "I hope all these people aren’t climbing Noonmark." Then common sense got the best of me.

If you were to compare the Adirondacks to an amusement park, Giant, Algonquin and Marcy are the major roller coasters of the Adirondacks. Noonmark is like the Log Ride. Not to say it's not a strenuous hike. It's just not that popular. But it doesn’t necessarily disappoint if you're looking for a quick hike with a great view.

KnowWhatI’mSayin?

The trailhead to Noonmark is right off of the Ausable country club golf course. We saw a couple of gruff, old men with paisley, checkered pants playing through the 13th hole as we were starting our trek. They stared at us with our stupid packs, hiking boots and camelback water containers. And we stared back at them with their retarded golf carts, stupid, shiny clubs and ridiculous golf shoes. It was like we were a totally different species sizing each other up for some sort of showdown. Had this been a Mad-Max futuristic, nuclear Armageddon and we came across each other in the wild - we could've totally kicked their Phil Mickelson asses.

After adjusting our packs and hitting the trail, I noticed that all four of us had an increased pep in our step. Other than the deep satisfaction of simply reaching the summit - today's hike was going to have a payoff, a happy ending if you will. Minus, of course, the Asian stroker.

We ascended maybe 900 feet before we got to our first, of many, great vista shots. The golf course was getting smaller and smaller in the distance - as you can see in the photo to the right.
The final 1,000 feet of the climb was actually some serious, strenuous fun. Although we were climbing some rock faces that were, in parts, 80 or 90 degrees, the overall climb was difficult, but it wasn't as difficult as the treks up Giant and Algonquin.

You know, there's a point in any great porno movie that's called the 'money shot'. Some examples of a 'money shot' in a regular, mainstream movie are: seeing Ben Stiller's balls being caught in his zipper in Something About Mary. Finally seeing the pirate ship in The Goonies. Or even Charlton Heston screaming "You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!" as the camera pans around to show us the Statue of Liberty in The Planet of the Apes.

Well, although the photograph doesn't give it justice, this was one, of many, money shots we saw that day:


It's been hailed on many Adirondack Hiking web sites the view from the summit of Noonmark is about as good as any in the High Peaks. Now I can totally see why. You can almost see almost every major peak, which is pretty fucking amazing in itself. Scanning the view, I kept looking over at Giant Mountain, shaking my head and saying, "I cannot believe we climbed that fucking thing" over-and-over again in mind.

After eating a lunch of Spaghetti-O's and meatballs, we hung out on the summit for a half-hour or so. A guy from Canada stopped by to talk to us. "Beautiful view, eh?" he said sounding like an extra from Fargo and Strange Brew. He told us a couple stories about Vancouver, Banff Mountain and this island up in Nova Scotia that he drove 100 miles an hour for 10 straight hours. Cape Breton, I believe.

With a full belly we decided to visit one more peak - Noonmark's fuck-buddy - Round Mountain. We reached the summit in about an hour or so. It was a much smaller peak than Noonmark, but the views were breathtaking as well. We all know that this was the last time to let our minds take it all in. We hung out, shot some video and decided to hightail down the hill.

With the Ironman competition being held the next day in Lake Placed - and surrounding towns - it was an unanimous decision to get a headstart on the trip and head down Route 73. We passed a half-dozen abandoned motels (from the 1980 Olympics perhaps?) and George Lake (it's like the Myrtle Beach of New York, blech).

Fifty miles down the road from the peak we just hiked, we were staring at a campground right next to Six Flags' The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom. To be honest, it wasn't the camping that I've been accustomed to on this trip. There were pop-up tents, RVs with those crazy colored X-mas lights dangling. Plus, everyone - even the girls - looked exactly like Eminem. Maybe it was the six beers I drank after the peak, but I suddenly got depressed.

The reality of my hiking weekend was coming to close.

But, it was getting late and none of us could really afford to get a hotel. I finally gave in and we rented a site. To cap off our commercialized camping night, we spent our last night guzzling beer and pizza at a Pizzeria Uno. Sigh.

As cars zoomed by on the highway and people in the surrounding camp sites screamed and shouted with their Pabst Blue Ribbons and cut-off t-shirts, I still had the opportunity to gaze at the stars one more night.

With the ominous sounds of "Sweet Home Alabama" blaring from a nearby campsite, I slowly drifted off to sleep.

Another year. Another successful hiking trip for the memory books.