Thursday, June 23, 2005

For a bored friend

Since someone is in need of something to read, I will oblige. After all, she did it for me a few days ago when I was bored and in need of entertainment.

Batman Begins is a definite hit out of the park and beyond. This one left orbit. Welsh actor, Christian Bale is very believable as the young man conflicted about his parents' death and his own guilt in the matter, but even more so as the dark avenging bat out to protect Gotham from its worst instincts. With a cast like Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman and Tom Wilkinson, not to mention Michael Caine playing the every proper British butler Alfred with his own unmistakable Cockney accent, it would be hard to go wrong. Where this version of the comic book legend surpasses all other adaptations to the big and little screens is in the end product. Director, Christopher Nolan has taken the comic out of comic book characters and made them very real. Gotham retains its dark and crumbling atmosphere but falls far shy of Tim Burton's Gothic/Art Deco scenery, thus cutting the mean and shadowy streets from the cloth of any modern major city. Even the elevated train swooping and curving through the Gotham skyline looks less like fantasy and becomes believable reality.

Christian Bale retains a certain dignity even as he trawls the depths of the international underworld seeking to understand the criminal mind, but never sinks to melodrama. He definitely works hard for his craft while making it feel and play as stark reality, deftly and gracefully walking the fine line between overdone intensity and parody.

Where Batman Begins forges new territory and resets the bar is in translating a comic book hero onto the screen sans the comic book feel. Even the Scarecrow, Dr. Crane of Arkham Asylum, fails to be anything but believable. Nolan's Gotham is just around the corner in every major American city waiting for panic and hysteria to give way to justice as meted out by Batman.

It is, however, amazing that a British director and British actors have a better feel for Americana than the American directors who preceded them. Comic book heroes have never been so true to life.

As for The Longest Yard, you are in for a treat. Especially if you enjoyed it the first time around with Burt Reynolds in the key role of Paul Crewe.

Adam Sandler is not my favorite comic actor, although I have enjoyed some of his movies. He will always be the SNL comedian who sings the dreidel song for Chanukah. He was endearing as The Wedding Singer and usually creative humorous, but this time he deserves to be recognized as a creative force. The wry Sandler is still in evidence throughout and Chris Rock is great as Caretaker. The only unfortunate part of the movie is Burt Reynolds. He really needs to hold back on getting his next few face lifts. He's beginning to look like he's perpetually in a wind tunnel and that is not a good look, even with the new DaVinci porcelain overlays on his false teeth. The cons are predictably convict-like. They are also funny, interesting and surprising.

The only visible tune-up is in the dialogue, which was updated with more timely social references, and it still works. The convict can-can she/he cheerleading line is hilarious and provocative and the whole ensemble cast engages the audience completely.

If you find yourself rooting for the Mean Machine, don't say you haven't been warned. You won't be alone.

I missed it

When I played hooky and went to the movies the other day, it rained. Not a piddly little spatter or spitting here and there from racing clouds, but a true several-hour downpour, complete with hail, flooding, thunder, lightning and rocks. Yes, rocks.

After the movie I went to the east side of town. In the long seemingly endless drive up Academy there were rocks in the road: swaths, curls, loops, swirls, eddies and clumps of rocks of all sizes and types. The rain continued, spatterings interspersed with windshield flooding torrents, as I drove around and through the rocks. At first I thought a gravel truck dropped its load because of a dangling tail gate, but there were too many rocks and they seemed to go on forever. Must have been a fleet of gravel trucks from the quarries, I reasoned.

I was wrong.

I went shopping for some new clothes (haven't done that in ages) and when I paid for my choices the cashier told me she was surprised anyone was out in the rain. "It flooded here in the store, right through the back door," she told me. "It was pouring down. On the TV some guy was standing in water up to his waist." I told her about the rocks and she said it was from the storm.

"It rained rocks?" I asked more than a little incredulously.

"No," she said, laughing. "I've got to remember that one: raining rocks. It flooded and washed all the rocks into the roads."

People should really be more specific when they talk, clearer, less ambiguous.

Anyway, I took my purchases, finished my errands (I really have to get back up there to the gigantic book sale in the warehouse) and drove home in the rain, stopping at the grocery store to pick up the makings for chicken salad for the following day's picnic in the park. On the last leg of the journey, I looked up into the dirty gray lowering sky to see a beautiful rainbow shining bright against the leaden background, a promise of brighter days ahead.

The rain sang me to sleep that night and the clean green smell of rain-washed pine drifted in through the windows on fresh, crisp, cool moist air. Dawn broke in a dazzling display of gold and rose and shimmering white on a lavender screen of sky that slowly blued. Even through bleary, sleep misted eyes, the view was dazzling.

I worked and fidgeted and worked a little more, stopping just before noon to assemble the chicken salad, wash the fruit and pack everything away. The landlady called and said she had something for me, and brought up a big container of pasta salad she made the day before, suggesting I take it with me on the picnic. I did and my companion said it was very good.

While taking a shower, the bath mat slipped and I pitched through the shower curtain onto the floor, banging my head on the toilet seat and the rest of me on various porcelain barriers that found most of the soft tissue on my body, from shoulder blades to right big toe. Wrapping a towel around me, I hobbled into the sun porch to email my friend and ask for a 15-minute delay; he granted it. I was more upset by the curse that slipped my lips and thudded down on the deck where Psycho sat waiting for the landlady than I was about my ignominious tumble to the floor, but I soldiered on, finished dressing, gathered my bags and limped down the stairs, outside and into my car. When I got to the park I limped to the shelter, explained my accident and proceeded to enjoy a most pleasant hour. I brought him food and he brought me napkins, water and Firesign Theatre CDs. He is such a generous fella and he has good taste, too.

After lunch and a couple of errands, I got home in time to chat with Psycho and Landlady for a few minutes, leaving them with Mountain Mama's best gingerbread with baked apples and coconut custard pie just as the truck drove up to deliver...

...wait for it... guessed it: my brand new bed. No more sleeping on a feather bed on the floor.

I pinged my picnic friend to wake him from his training module-induced stupor to tell him the good news, chatted for a moment and then called when he pinged me to tell me he was finished with the last of the training module. While we talked, the idea of a pillow top firm mattress high off the floor taunted me, so I asked him, "Would you like to go to bed with me?"

"What did you say?"

"Would you like to go to bed with me?"


"I'm going to take the phone into the bedroom and lay down on my brand new bed. Want to come with me?"


Was that relief I heard in his agreement? Naw.

The bed is firm and comfy and after I got off the phone I fell blissfully asleep, drifting down into a dream-filled universe of rest and nirvana.

Now I just have to figure out how to put up some guard rails so I don't fall off the bed and find I can't get up like a certain Lynn I know.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hook me

Well, guys and gals and everyone in between. It's a beautiful day with a few puffy clouds serenely sailing across a perfect blue sky. the leaves are glistening in the sun and the air is full of buzzing bees, singing birds and the perfume of summer while the squirrels play tag in the streets with trucks. Fast little devils. I guess squirrel porn is out today and I don't want to wait for squirrel pancakes, so I'm going to get a cool shower and take myself to a double feature at the movies: Batman Begins and The Longest Yard. While I'm not a big Adam Sandler fan, he has done some interesting work and the trailers have been pretty good. I am, however, a big Christian Bale and Batman fan, so I'm off to see the big black bat and his big black penis batmobile.

Does it seem to you like Michael Caine is a bit over exposed and maybe the nut job in that college movie was right and you will find a movie with Michael Caine in it at every hour of the day all over the world? Nice work for a character actor.

I'm off to see the gizzard, the wonderful gizzard of non-blahs.

Okay, so it was a lame joke, but at least I put it out there.

Go play hooky today wherever you are. It's good for your soul.

No stars in this war

I finally saw SWIII a couple weeks ago and I was not impressed. Oh, the light saber battles were good, especially when Yoda battled Palpatine and Ewan McGregor was wonderful, but I do not get the hype about Hayden Christensen. He has two emotions: anger and not as much anger. He scowls, supposedly an indicator of intensity but it looks like he is having a big problem moving his bowels. He does rage really good but Lucas really fell down the well on this one. Maybe he phoned it in from his jet or wrote it in his sleep. He was certainly asleep at the wheel because Christensen needed direction and got none. Oh, and Padme's gown must have been very uncomfortable to sleep in, what with the huge pearls loops from the bodice and hanging down her arms. Sort of like sleeping with a ring of rocks digging into your arms and back. Reminds me of the Princess and the Pea. Guess Padme wasn't really royalty after all. She was tough as nails on the skin, but not where it counted.

The whole movie suffered from a lack of direction. It did tromp forcefully forward on Stormtrooper jack boots through some pretty spectacular special effects, but the real effect, other than lamely tying up all the loose ends to explain Darth Vader's hermetically sealed black garb and ventilator-dependent wheezing, should have been a real understanding of why Anakin turned to the dark side. Sorry folks, but Palpatine wouldn't have seduced me to do anything but laugh at his feeble attempts to show the power of the dark side. The only thing Palpatine showed me was the power of disgust and the slightly gray side. Anakin was a real pushover. Too bad he wasn't a female. He could have serviced the clones and had more fun. Might have helped with his emotional constipation, too.

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

End of a long road

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I am not going to win any friends or influence any people, but there are things that need to be said -- and written. Here seems to be the only safe place any more.

It isn't that I'm hiding anything, but there are times when I need to say what's on my mind without worrying about having it turned against me. My mother did that to me as a teenager and I quit writing to protect myself and my thoughts from punishment and retribution. A near calamity gave my writing back to me. And now a friend, knowing my history and that particular story, is turning my words against me again. This time I am no teenager easily cowed by anyone and I will not go into the woodwork and deny myself the outlet and joy of writing. It's not going to happen.

After nearly two weeks of peace and quiet from her flame-filled emails and recriminations, she called this afternoon to climb back down my throat about a comment I left on a mutual friend's journal. I wrote about how difficult it is for some people to separate their alliances with people who are involved when they dislike or have an issue with one person of the couple. There is a mutual friend whose friendship I was certain was gone. He IM-ed me yesterday and we chatted for a while. It was great talking to him about everything and nothing in particular, just chatting like we used to do for hours on end. Her name wasn't brought up. It didn't need to come up. I had nothing to say and I didn't want to start any trouble with him. His relationship with her is separate from my friendship with him.

She read my comment on K's journal and my journal about chatting with him, although she took me off her friend's list, and said I could have him, that she is tired of me trashing her all over the place. She told me she is going to have to leave Colorado Springs because of my slander. Ever the smart aleck, I told her it was libel because it was written. Probably not the best move, but it was accurate. She got even more belligerant and ruder. I kept asking her what I had done but she wouldn't answer, going back to an earlier disagreement that she blames on someone else, although she told me in no uncertain terms that she never expected me of all her friends to be jealous of her success. I'm not. I'm glad for her success. Lord knows I patched her together emotionally enough times while she was agonizing over the book being accepted. I believed. She didn't. That is another situation for another time.

Anyway, she accused me of trashing her on K's journal by my comment about understanding her point about people taking sides when they didn't need to and that all they really needed to do was come to her to talk about their problems with her instead of involving her fella. I didn't mention any names. I certainly didn't name my attacker. It's just something that has happened to me over the years and it sad. I wanted to show a friend some understanding and support and let her know I agreed with her. I left out a lot of things I could have put in there, but I didn't want to cause any more problems than there are between she and I because of the mutual friend. She has already kept me out of a project on a web site I have been part of and I understand her reasoning on that. She doesn't need or want the drama either. But now it looks like I'll have to stop commenting on K's journal just to keep the once mutual friend from using it as a means to cause more drama and more problems for K.

I told her in the midst of her tirade that I didn't think it was productive and it was a waste of both our times and I ended the call, wishing her well. She called back. I picked up and hung up. She called again. I just let it ring. I neither need nor want her drama back in my life. My headaches are gone and my life is good. Why would I want the headaches and drama back?

I couldn't figure out what she meant about me trashing her so badly she would have to move from Colorado Springs or that I had trashed her with her fella. I'm believe she has gone over the edge and I can't help her. She has to figure this out for herself. It's not my problem. She sees me as the enemy and has for a long time. But yet I couldn't figure out why she felt the need to stir up another hornet's nest when we hadn't spoken or communicated for two weeks. Then it dawned on me -- she either needs my help or she missed the drama. Again, it's not my problem. All I can say at this point is that I pity her. She unfriended me on her journal and made a big tearful deal about it on her journal because she said what she wrote was being used against her, stolen and used to hurt her. The truth is that she keeps reading my journal, stalking me on my other journals (not here yet) and when I make friends only posts she has someone copying them and pasting them into emails to her, causing more trouble, even more drama, so she can attack me again.

What can I do?

Not much. She is stalking me. My thoughts and views are my own from my point of view. It is my truth. I don't care if anyone believes me or not. This is my life as I see it. Friends only posts end up being distributed to her. I know I'm a good writer, but not that good. I ignore her and go on with my life and she calls me on the phone because I delete her emails unread. Next, she'll show up on my doorstep. My address is public information and it wouldn't take much to find me. I'm not running. I'm not going to fend off any more attacks. If anyone feels the need to send her my restricted posts, they are welcome to do so. All they are doing is giving her more ammunition and more excuses to blame me for her problems.

She said our conversation today would probably end up on my journal. I think that's what she wants so she can play the martyred and reviled friend who is willing to forgive and forget while I, the evil ex-friend with poison on my blade and mischief in my mind, continue to paint myself as all sweetness and light, the wolf in sheep's clothing. It's her stage. She can do what she wants. As for me, I wish she'd understand that she doesn't enter my thoughts, my writing or my conversation for days and days on end and that's the way I like it. She needs to find a life and someone else to blame now that her ex-best friend has moved out of state and I refuse to be her latest target.

This is the long walk off the short pier, the end of the road for our friendship. Maybe when she grows up that will change, but for the foreseeable future. . . not going to happen.

An ye do no harm...

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The secret is out. I'm evil.

In a long, drawn out, ranting email I am once again lambasted by my 'friend'. It seems there is no refuge for my thoughts, my venting or my privacy even when I lock my posts and keep her out. Some well meaning person has sent a locked post to my 'friend' and she has responded in her usually overly verbose way. I think suffering through her eternal whining, digs and zingers is worst punishment than having my eyeballs drawn out through my left nipple with a burning wire.

My mother used to punish me for what I wrote in my diaries, never realizing that once I had purged the anger onto the paper it was gone. I realize that posting in a semi public journal is not as safe as my paper journals, but the paper journals aren't all that safe either. I like to get things out where I can see them and not sitting around in some dark shadowy pocket of my mind or heart where they will fester and become fodder for some passive-aggressive snark fest. I guess I should learn that there is no such thing as a secret and my thoughts, even with limited exposure, are targets for more venomous attacks.

It isn't as if I haven't been notified in the past that my 'friend' was bashing me in her journal and in conversations with mutual acquaintances, but I always figured it goes with the territory. You get mad. You vent. It's over.

Guess not.

One of the precepts of my beliefs is that when you intend no harm to anyone you may do as you will. My thoughts are my own. My anger and passions are my own. I just happen to put them out for public and semi-public display. Probably not a good idea. I do understand the need for a shoulder now and then and someone who understands what I'm going through to help me over the worst of the anger, betrayal and lies and I don't do well with secrets. I seldom even remember what I write once it's on the page. I never remember my own poetry and only the basic story lines of the books and tales I write, let alone a blog entry. Like I said, once it's on the page -- virtual or otherwise -- it's gone. Now I understand how a good friend felt when her private matters were taken from her journal by someone who had access and spread all over the place to people she didn't want to know her private business. It's the equivalent of telling a friend a secret and having them tell everyone. Telephone, telegraph, tell a friend. Someone once told me that you keep a secret by yourself but when you tell one other person you tell the world. Looks like he was right.

What gets me the most is her accusation that now she understands why people distance themselves from me -- because I'm evil and manipulative and out to stick a dagger in every unprotected back. I'm not the one who has friends who stop talking, calling and communicating for years on end. I am in contact with all my real friends. Acquaintances come and they go -- looks like she was just another acquaintance.

Oh, well, c'est la vie. I refuse to allow her vituperative vexations to change my habits or me. I will not run. I will not hide. I will not worry about what she can or cannot do. I have protection she doesn't even dream of.

Guess she forgot what the precept, An ye do no harm... , really means.

The protection racket

During the 1920s and 1930s the protection racket was pretty hot business. It was the main cash cow for gangsters. The gangsters' muscle man would come in with some slick operator dressed in an expensive shark skin suit. The muscle man would get a little out of control and break a few things, scowl and maybe even growl a bit. The slick operator would shake his head with a rueful expression and tut-tut about his backward associate's tactics, all the while letting the business owner know that he could keep such distasteful actions from happening to him, his family or his business if he paid for protection. Most business owners paid. The few who stood up to the gangsters watched all they worked for go up in flames while they fingered the black band on their casted broken arm leaning on their crutches while they mourned their dead families.

It was nothing personal. It was business as usual.

Fast forward to the Internet connected world of the 21st century where you can download music, movies, data and anything else you want at all hours of the day and night. Instead of stereos, some people play music on their computers. Enter the protection racket.

If you want to customize your music station to listen your favorite songs and skip the ones you don't like, it will cost you. It's such a small amount, less than the cost of a grande latte from a designer coffee shop. Such a small price to pay to pick and choose what you listen to on your computer and avoid the inevitable commercials that pad the music station's pockets. Of course there is National Public Radio and PBS stations. They aren't immune to the protection racket either.

Twice a year PBS stations put on pledge breaks, showing you the good stuff you'd have to pay big money to see, while they hold out their hands and remind you that public broadcasting belongs to you, the people who pay to keep it commercial free.

That was once upon a time. Pledge breaks now come every six weeks and commercials fill in during the non-pledge break weeks of interminable begging while they cut the good stuff to pieces with their outstretched hands and erudite guilt trip. Even if you pay them money, you don't avoid the pledge breaks, but at least you feel good about contributing to keep commercials out of your programming -- except not so much any more.

It's the repackaged protection racket.

Now Internet radio stations want you to pay them to leave you alone with your commercial free music. Something tells me it's time to go back to records and CDs, 45s and 78s where you choose what you want to listen to without commercials or paying to get rid of the commercials.

Yes, computers are convenient, but you can program your music onto your computer without commercials and it's a whole lot cheaper. it's free. No more pledge breaks. No more advertisements telling you to pay to get rid of the advertisements.

See that violin case open on the chair? It's empty because the slick operators are waiting for their muscle men to use the Thompson submachine gun that was in there a moment ago to talk you into paying them to leave you alone.

Aah, the simple life.

This is the test

I have been promising you a test. Here it is. Answer these two questions honestly and completely. You will be graded on grammar -- and neatness DOES count.

1) What do you consider Internet stalking? Include all examples.

2) Who is your journal about?

That is all. Disperse.