Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Haute Tension

Note to friends and family. This is about a Horror film. Horror is about the vulgar half of our existence. What follows is fittingly vulgar.

Title: High Tension
Director: Some French guy who I didn't bother to remember but I think his name is Ars (he apparently went on to direct the The Hills Have Eyes remake which I'll also be scoping)

Marie and Alex are school buddies. They're visiting Alex's family when a psychopath strikes. Extremely Horrible Shit ensues!

Script/Direction: We'll skip the script for now (but boy will we ever get back to it) because the direction is where it's at. "High Tension" it is indeed. There's a combination of the tried and true "wait for iiiiiiiiit" suspenseful horror of "omg the killers gonna bust thru that door any second!" and a much more modern utter relentlessness when the horror does start to hit. In this movie, you've got thunder clouds booming a long time... but when it rains blood, it pours.

The completely frank brutality of the gory killings cuts through horror cliche like a- well- knife. It doesn't shove the gore in your face to say "whoopee! check this shit out!" What it does is shove your face in the gore. It's there, it's real, you cannot deny it, you cannot escape it. The superb special effects get this done.

But it all works so well because it's not sensationalized. And the best indicator of this is the music. It doesn't blare discord when you're "supposed" to jump. It doesn't play cheap on the strings when you're "supposed" to be tense. If anything, the subtle music just sounds kind of sad while the slaughter of a happy family is being drawn out.

Which segues nicely into the...

Soundtrack: Some cutesy sappy French pop song when the girls are driving down the highway. Some Reggae-hip-hop thing while our "heroine" um... calms herself before the storm... And, mother fucking MUSE at the movie's climax and finale. That there, ladies and gentlemen, is Thee Win.

Acting: Only 3 proper characters. Marie, the main chick; Alex, her friend taken captive; and Le Tuerer the madman whom, when we first meet him, is fellating himself with a [TEH SPOILERZ KICKIN IN] severed head. Yeahhhhh :(

Marie is a really cute butch girly-girl tomboy who is absolutely fucking worthless until she gets ahold of a barb-wire-wrapped fence post towards the end of the film. There's really nothing to like about her until you're seeing the movie for a second time. She's played by some French chick who actually has "France" in her name.

Alex is her dear friend and is played by none other than the Diva Plava Laguna. If you know wtf I'm talking about you win, if not, don't worry about it. She just sits chained up and crying the whole movie.

"Le Tuerer" is a serious fucking psychotic motherfucker. His violence is relentless with just the wrong amount of playfulness, and his obsessiveness is shared with the audience in very disturbing instances of intimacy. You don't doubt for a second what he's all about and there's no doubt he's pure horror. Michael Meyers without the mask (but with the coveralls!). In fact... how his face is obscured and revealed almost subliminally throughout the film is a masterwork of cinematography. He's played by some guy I'd never want to meet because I dunno how a human being could even pretend to be this sick fuck. The character is disturbing because he's not some abstract monster. He's just some dirty fuckin dude!

F/X: Superb (despite an early decapitation that's mostly goofy). The gore, as I said, is realistic and uncensored when you need a bucket of ice water in the face, and then at other times subdued or off camera entirely when it just lets you sit shivering in the puddle.

The Final Word:


This is the highly contentious thing. From what I've heard most of the movie is a straight cut and paste of a Dean Koontz book/mini-series, and the rest is a... well... twist

I heard about the plot twist long long ago, mainly from people bitching about how unoriginal it is, and how cheaply tacked on to this film it is. It is indeed one of the more common plot devices in suspense films in the past decade or so, and in most of those films it is completely cheap.

So I was not expecting to approve of it when I finally saw it. I just wanted to see some grisly horror cinema. Well grisly was sure delivered, but I gotta say the story worked out great for me too. Knowing the "twist" actually makes the character of Marie much more interesting and the film all the more intense because of how you realize the film is having you relate to her and the killer. I am a freakin FIEND for stories steeped in character and perspective, so I gotta say I really did appreciate the twist, and found that it blended in with the story as a whole very well. I think the best thing it does, when it's revealed, is give you a punch to the gut after watching Marie's gratifying victory- by assuring you that she can never EVER win.

I think, perhaps, the twist didn't bother me- didn't seem tacked on at least- because of 2 things... 1) I knew ahead of time but mainly 2) I get off on getting into characters' heads. When a film allows me to not just witness but even experience what a character is thinking/feeling... no matter how elating or disturbing... I am very appreciative. This film does this in very subtle ways. If you're not looking to get engrossed in the characters' experiences, you'll probably overlook all the stuff that gives the twist any meaning or value.

I watched the movie in French without subtitles. This is one of two movies I've ever watched like this because I felt I really didn't need to know exactly what the dialogs was, I just needed to empathize with the characters and then sit back and watch mayhem ensue. I feel I was right. (Fun Fact: John Woo's The Killer was the other film I watched with no dub nor subtitles.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Zero Point

The lights came up. The smoke settled. The whirring hum of the machinery faded away.

"What is the result?" shouted the Professor. His rigid demeanor was betrayed by excitement.

The assistant read off of ticker tape spilling out of the machine, "Zero-point-zero-one-zero-three-five-three... seven... repeating." Looking up with anxious eyes behind thick protective goggles he offered, "That's an all time best, Professor- nearly a 40% reduction."

The Professor did not reply. For the moment he simply stood back and surveyed the elaborate assembly of equipment filling the room. He arched a scrutinizing eyebrow. The technological amalgamate before him did not spy the stern gaze of its progenitor, nor did it realize that its efforts were being evaluated- nor even that they might be deemed unworthy. The equipment did not fret, it simply waited.

Of course the Professor expected no such thing from the inanimate objects. He finally relaxed and approached the assistant. "That is not the target result," he finally said. "That is not Zero."

"But, Professor..."

"Again," directed the Professor.

"Yes, Professor," replied the assistant, snapping presently to attention. "It will take several hours..."

"I know how long it takes. So get started."

"Yes, Professor."

As the assistant set about preparing the equipment again, the Professor retreated to his study to examine the data and adjust the parameters of the experiment. He had convinced the investors that he could produce a result of exactly Zero despite every precedent in the history of science. He had every intention to deliver that result exactly. If he was successful the ramifications would be Earth-shattering. What had been imagined as an impossible dream since humankind first began to study the nature of the world around it would finally be reality. Countless lives could be saved. The global economy would be redefined.

But, it had to be perfect. The smaller-minded might accept encouragement in a result of zero-point-zero-one-zero-three-five-seven repeating, or perhaps even zero-point-zero-zero-one-zero-three... or zero-point-zero-zero-zero-zero-one-zero-three... But, none of those were close enough. Zero-point-anything was too simply too much. Each experiment produced a smaller result but each result was infinitely wrong. No margin of error was acceptable.

And so, the Professor returned to his data, and he pondered and he pored and he calculated. Every variable was studied, every deviation eradicated. Several hours passed.


"Yes, I'm coming. The equipment is ready?"

"Yes, Professor."


The Professor recalibrated the equipment per his redefined parameters. The assistant engaged the power switches and pushed the execute button. The lights went down as the equipment energized an the experiment commenced.

When it had concluded the Professor asked, "What is the result?"

The assistant did not reply. The ticker tape was still printing.

"The result?" demanded the Professor.

"Yes, Professor," the assistant nervously replied as the tape continued to stream out of the machine. "Zero-point... zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-zero-zero..." He caught his breath and just watched the tape continue to slide through his hands. "...zero...zero...repeating," he concluded, looking up at the Professor.

The Professor did not respond. For a moment there was no sound and no movement at all except for the endless printing of the ticker tape.

The assistant finally asked, "Is that close enough, Professor?"

Monday, June 04, 2007


Filbo Stoutwrist didn't know much about the world. He was born in his village and he knew full well he'd die there. He hadn't ventured more than a half mile outside of it either- because that, as everyone knew, was folly.

But Filbo, like virtually all his kin and townsfolk knew pretty much all there was to know about farming. As Hobbits, there was a natural inclination, of course, but it could be said with no exaggeration the good folk of that village had lived for several generations at the pinnacle of the craft.

They knew everything there was to know about making things grow. Everything about the soil, the sun, the water and the air that was needed to produce healthy taters, rhubarb, strawberries, and all manner of vegetables and grains, not to mention some of the loveliest flower gardens in all of Eriador.

The people of that village were so skilled in farming because those gardens (and in fact their whole village) was little more than a prison. For their home was nestled on the fringes of the dreaded Ettenmoors, a land becoming eclipsed by the Shadow.

Roaming bands of orcs, wargs, and spiders did daily run rampant and unchecked across the lands all around them. Mighty men defended the ruins of ancient keeps that dotted the region but in time all were swallowed by the Shadow. For generations it had been thus. Truth be told, no one currently in the village could be quite sure why their forefathers had ever come here at all.

And yet, here they remained, all this time drawing beautiful life from blood-soaked rock. Perhaps the land was once upon a time nothing but pure and green. And now, while the men fought in keeps with swords and shields against a vicious rampaging army... The Hobbits remained in their village and fought against darkness with beauty; fought against death with life. They would never surrender, and they were indeed mighty, these Master Hobbit farmers of the Ettenmoors.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


They know we exist but not in their world.

They know we have power, an influence on them.

So they try to reach us. They speak to us though they cannot hear.

They use their voodoo magic tricks to touch us, control us, to get a result.

They know we are watching them.
They know we are obsessed.
They know we envy them, They know we don't understand.

We are the stillborn populous. We grow up in Limbo.
We learn about life watching what they show.

We dance when they pull our strings because we love the attention.
They dance for us, the invisible audience, because they can see our money.

So their shamans cast their spells on us perform their demographical focus-group seance-rites, every night. Prime Time.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Mild Irritation

It would wake me up in the middle of the night,
But oxygen deprivation keeps me under.

The splinter in my mind
is starting to scab over.

A mild irritation gets inflamed from time to time.
Always find the ointment and squeeze out the tube.

Drown out the voice that tells me I'm wrong.
Put a pillow over my face whenever my eyes might open.

Get this all down, let it all out,
Then crumple it up and throw it away.

Pander and wonder and fantasize
about what it might be to live a life,

Then go back to sleep because dreams are free.
Reality's price is to try.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I stood in the crowd behind the tables listening to the Irish band play. The guy in front of me occasionally decided to hold the plastic cup of ale in his mouth and clap along, bumping into me. The only time I clapped was at the end of each song because my hands were tied... one to Guiness and one to Irish whiskey.

About three songs from the end of the set I felt the spiritual resonance of the bomb . The maker had loaded it with enough c4 to level the pub, but a lesser spirit (barely sentient) was tied to the bomb to take care of any survivors. The spirit's resonance was how I found the bomb; it was rage where everything else was celebration.

I listened to a few more songs, and felt to spirit shift from rage to readiness. To free my hands I slammed back the rest of the whiskey, and soothed the burn with the rest of the Guiness. I sighed as I grabbed my sister-in-law and shoved her out the open window. Her husband was pretty shocked at what I had just done. He did not respond when I threw him out too.

The physical aspect of the bomb exploded. Nearly everyone in the pub died from the initial blast. I felt the flames and debris wrap around me, but they would not dare touch me. The spirit flickered from survivor to survivor aggravating whatever wounds they had to the point of death, and then it noticed me. I drew my blade from Elsewhere.

It tried to attack with a few cheap shots, but the most basic defense of Crane Snares Frog knocked away the spirit easily. Most who learn true blade arts learn the technique within the first few weeks. The first two movements act to parry any attacks, while the third acts as a riposte. However, before my blade split the enemy its spiritual essence was already bleeding away into a sorcery.

A curious ripple of spiritual energy blossomed behind me, and I saw where the spirit had expended its energy. Thousands of charged shards of glass from the windows came at me. I countered with the blade technique Storm Kills Hive, and each piece of glass exploded into a fine sand before touching my body.

I leapt out the same window I had thrown my sister-in-law as my blade went back to its sheath in Elsewhere. She and her husband were standing quite a bit away from the flaming pub on the sidewalk. "Get in the car. Forget about the rest," I said, "Just go."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Oak Table

The gentleman arrived late in March and the Marquis recieved him graciously. That night and every night of his stay I waited upon the gentleman's every need as I had waited upon the Marquis for the past 20 some years.

Every evening I prepared supper for them in the banquet hall. It was a good deal of trouble to go to for just the two of them to dine, but as the Marquis no longer entertained regularly it was cause enough for the formality. The gentleman, after all, was a representative of the Duke. Every night at supper he met with the Marquis to discuss the workings of his serfdom and divine the cause of the last few years' steady decline in tribute to the Empire. Every night the Marquis patiently listened to the gentleman's lectures on the matters of government and economics, and answered all the gentleman's inquiries with polite yet delightfully vexing vagueries and musings.

During the day the gentleman roamed the estate or lingered in the library as the Marquis would not see him, save at supper, and his attempts to interview myself, the only servant of the manor, had not satisfied him in the least. Every night after dinner he returned to his chambers for the evening where I observed in secret his restless nights. Often I saw him run to shut the windows in a vain attempt to silence the howls of the wolves. But they would howl all night, because I of course had not fed them since the gentleman arrived.

Finally, one week after the gentleman had arrived I delivered to him the message that the Marquis did not wish to sup in the banquet hall that evening, but rather out on the veranda in the fresh air, where their discussions of the proper ways and means of state could be refreshed as well. The gentleman acknowledged this humble page but was not pleased. As I left he returned to the window of his chamber to contemplate the forest who's howling emanations kept his nights sleepless.

On the veranda I set the broad oak table with simple pewter place settings rather than the usual silver. They would certainly seem more fitting of the table itself. It was an single ancient slab from a mighty tree felled far from these mountains. It was a plain table, by most respects. It and the stout flat chairs that accompanied it were completely unadorned and had no varnish save what many years of what age and wear could do to darken them. Several gouges, blackened with grime and the dried accumulations of the various fluids spilled on the table over time, could be found on its surface. The Marquis, ever coy, would say that these only serve to define the bold and honorable character of the table.

The Marquis and the gentleman dined once again together that night, though they did not converse much. The gentleman was clearly uncomfortable with the spare arrangements, and the woods lingering just off to the East. The special seasoning I had added to his stew that supper took effect as soon as the meal was complete. I was just able to bus the gentleman's dishes away before he slumped over onto that old oak table. It was a curious recipe which I made a trek to procure once a year from a gnarled and crafty hag that lived in a cave deep in the mountains. The gentleman was not dead, and not even unconscious. He was, however, rendered quite immobile and utterly helpless for sufficient time. The Marquis got up from the table and removed his waist coat so as not to soil it. The wolves could be seen crossing the plain at that time, coming to the manor.

I proceeded with my role then, pulling the gentleman up onto the table and turning him over. His eyes glared at me with the most comical confusion. "Do not fear, good sir!" I told him as I removed his vest and shirt. "All matters of state shall soon be resolved by the good Marquis." And at that time I dimminished to simple observer as the Marquis approached the gentleman with his instruments in hand, and the wolves crept onto the veranda licking their chops and trembling in anticipation.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Free Speech

I don't think Americans realize how good they have it. 99% of the time if they want to say it, an American can say it.

Our 1st Amendment cases are much of the time extreme compared to other countries:
In America if you burn your draft card on the steps of courthouse during a time of war, you might go to jail for a bit. In China, in a time of peace, you might get shot or run over by a tank.
In America nothing is sancrosanct when a comedian performs an act. In United Arab Emirates, the comedian has to provide a transcript of the act so that someone can edit it out.
In America we watch and laugh at a show that presents our President as a complete idiot (let's sidestep the obvious). And most recently, in Thailand they block an entire website for relatively weak mockery of a ruler.

I know many people are currently unhappy with a lot of American government policy, and hopefully that will change. But, it is helpful to remember sometimes how truly different the freedoms we take absolutely for granted are not even tasted by other people of the world.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wikis and Copyrights

I have created a wiki (I choose not to link for a number of reasons) and been a healthy contributor on quite a few. You might notice that almost every wiki has a copyright license at the bottom of the first page. This license will tell you what happens with the stuff you add to a wiki. For instance can others edit your additions, can people take your additions and bring it to another place (not on that wiki), can your addition be related to any commercial use, and realistically the most important, IMHO, what happens when your article is edited.

There are many "commons" licenses that allow for an almost public-domain-like allowance for the copyright material. Usually any kind of personal use is allowed. However, the differences can be suffocating.

Recently my all time favorite game, Guild Wars, started an official wiki. This was awesome except that awesomeness was tempered by the fact that there was already a goliath-size unofficial wiki in existence. For the rest of the article I will call the former "OGW" (official guild wiki) and the latter "GGW" (goliath guild wiki).

The community was pretty excited because the benefits of having an official wiki were pretty substantial: (a) the owner would not randomly decide to take the wiki down, (b) the hardware and connection could be substantially improved, (c) developers and personnel of ArenaNet might be persuaded to add to the wiki, etc.

Community: Ok, well let's just copy everything from the very substantial, nearly complete GGW to the new and blossoming OGW.

ArenaNet: We can't do that.

It seemed that the license on the GGW did not allow for any commercial use. OGW, owned by the company that ran Guild Wars, would definitely be used for commercial use even if only "lay people" would be adding content.

This was horrible. Two wikis on the exact same subject create the biggest bane to a wiki's existence. Competing wikis are about as stupid as competing operating systems, as entertaining as it may be. Ok, bad analogy and wrong battleground.

Anyway LDRAW (Lego CAD development) recently had nearly the same problem shifting their parts library over to a "commons" copyright license. This took nearly a year because they had to contact each parts author and ask that author to release his copyright to the part under the new license. The authors that could not be contacted had their parts deleted off the LDRAW server, and those parts had to be later remade in an original manner.

This solution would be perfect for GGW and allow the OGW to replace it. The problem is that a wiki is editable by practically anybody. Many people create usernames to attach to their wiki additions/edits, but just as many edit anonymously. Well not totally anonymously because IP's will be tracked, but still contacting an author based on their IP is not very feasible. The other problem is that so many authors add their stock to the wiki article's soup.

Sure Bob the Farmer may have started the wiki article on sheep, and then Sally edits his article for grammar and had to add a sentence on sheep diets, Gregor added a paragraph on sheep diseases, ph3@r added a bit on having sex with sheep, etc. As of the current iteration, let's say, 80 authors have put their hand on the sheep wiki article.

Can our law really handle the copyright problems imposed when 80 people add material and then walk away? Most people that use wikis know that nothing is sacred. What one might feel is sacrosanct is just another factoid to another, and may edit out the feelings of holiness to make it more neutral. People also get their facts wrong, add opinions, and even make stuff up.

What about the fact that the author's copyrighted material is basically in the hands of another person? If the server is taken down with no backups, etc. the material may be lost forever. Should that matter? Should copyright really protect all the crap that is shoved out onto the net each day (including this article) to the degree that a book or manuscript is protected?

Now American intellectual property law is based on the notion that you must protect your rights. So while 80 people might hold some iteration of a copyright on the sheep article, it is probable that no one will actively seek to protect their copyright. Still, companies wishing to make things "official" will not wish to take on the boatload of liability.

I feel that this is another stab at how archaic and stupid our copyright laws are. We are coming upon another Mickey Mouse cycle for copyright. I hope our Congressmen attempt to learn about copyrights with a forward-looking expansive scope, instead of to just a commercial degree.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Urinal Rules

I don't think woman could ever understand the male bathroom situation. Whereas most of the time woman get their own little "private" cubby hole to do their business, a lot of times men are practically rubbing elbows when standing at the urinal. This leads to some interesting situations, of which I will take note.

The first place I really started noticing personal and societal Urinal Rules was at my fraternity. We had two bathrooms for males, one upstairs and one downstairs, each with 3 urinals and 4 stalls. There was an immediate unspoken rule that you don't take the center urinal if you are alone. That way if someone else needed to come in to drain the lizard, you both had your space. Around my junior year I had the wherewithall, or gumption if you will, to experiment with the rule. What would happen if I used the center urinal? I would only use it if no one else was using one of the three. What I found was pretty humorous... my fraternity brothers would wait for me to finish. Most were pretty clever about waiting: sifting through magazines, washing their face, checking the stalls, etc. But one brother, Karl, always made me laugh because he would stand behind me as if in line. When I was done and turned around, his head would be down, not wanting any eye contact as we dosey-doed.

The second place was at sports events, like Cardinal's ballgames. Alcohol definitely affects the Urinal Rules (this was further substantiated with adult use of alcohol at the fraternity). The Rules no longer matter. Guys talk to one another like they would anywhere else. Guys contact one another - rubbing elbows no longer matters and I have even seen a guy pat another on the back while both were facing the urinal. Back at the fraternity I noticed only with alcohol would people choose to take the middle urinal right away...whether or not someone was at the side urinals.

The third place was where I had the weirdest experiences was in law school in the "busy" bathrooms. Rhere were two urinals and two to four stalls in those bathrooms. What I noticed was that almost half the time, the guy would go to a stall rather than a urinal even if the bathroom was empty. I had one experience where I was sitting on the pot reading a newspaper (school has stacks of free ones) and I was alone in the bathroom. A guy comes in gets in the sole other stall next to me, locks it, only to pee. I really don't understand that behavior at all.

Oh, I just have to say that all these urinals don't have partitions. Partitions make such a different to Urinal Rules.

I am no sociologist, but I really believe that you can tell a lot about someone just from how where they choose to pee. I almost wish I didn't notice the other guy's choice of things, but I do. And now you might too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Morning Routine

Every morning I go to the gas station located right next to my parking lot. It's a simple Shell, about what you would expect for any gas station.

Every morning I grab a liter of Mountain Dew and some kind of breakfast. It is horrible what I eat usually. Most of the time I eat Dunkin' Sticks which are the love child between a donut and snacky cake. Sometimes I will grab a jalapeno hotdog. Or, if I am feeling particularly healthy, I will grab a cereal bar.

This morning I was a little late. Usually I like to get to the library as soon as it opens (7:30), but we had a shift in babysitters and I didn't get to Shell until 7:50.

The cute girl at the cash register blinked when she saw me come up to give my daily tithe.

"You're early," she said. Now throughout my years at law school I have become accustomed to the employees at Shell. They kind of know me. I kind of know them. But, it stays pretty "professional," mostly because I am just tired and have a 10 minute walk across campus to my building.

I was kind of taken aback because first she was rather new in comparison to the other employees, but also because I was in fact late. I checked their little wall clock to make sure.

"Actually, I am late."

She rubbed her eyes and retorted that I was messing up her body clock.

I chuckled and grabbed the heavenly chemicals that would get me to lunch, where I promised I would have a brown rice wrap or something equally healthy, "I'll try to be on time tomorrow."

It made my day. Not because she was cute or we had a playful exchange (yeah I was paraphrasing a little), but because I was noticed in a situation where notice is not required. I know many times I will walk through a shop and pray that no stupid salespeople ask me questions. If I have a goddamn question I will seek you out, but of course then I won't be able to find one. I get to a checkout line and hope that the cashier just boops me through with just a nice "hello."

But, I have to say it is nice to have more. It reminds me that we are all just people getting through the day. We are all really in the same boat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


a.k.a. "Vacant"
Lyrics by Maynard James Keenan

"Dead as dead can be,"
the doctor tells me.
But I just can't believe him.
Ever the optimistic one, I'm sure of your ability
to become my perfect enemy.

So, wake up and face me.
Don't play dead, 'cause maybe
someday I will walk away and say,
"You disappoint me. Maybe you're better off this way."

Leaning over you here
cold and catatonic.
I catch a brief reflection of what you could and might have been.
It's your right and your ability
to become my perfect enemy.

But, maybe you're better off this way.

Go ahead and play dead.
I know that you can hear this.
Go ahead and play dead.
Why can't you turn and face me?
You fucking disappoint me.

Passive aggressive bullshit.

A Perfect Circle has two songs that are just about the most moving I've ever heard. The sentiment is powerful, supremely human, and so uniquely expressed. Only those you love the deepest can hurt you the most. How do you deal with it, when the one you love becomes atrocious?

Also the manner and method of the sins being committed. Most people can't process or explain it. They can't understand it so there's nothing left to do but suffer it under the additional pain of frustration and confusion. This song and "The Outsider" both do a phenomenal job of confronting and addressing (perhaps not effectively, but perhaps still as well as one might) such crimes of subtlety.

Recipe: Tuna Burrito

Back when I was a super-metabolized high school athlete, I used to eat nearly five meals a day. One of my constants was shredded cheese in a tortilla with green Tabasco sauce nuked for about 20 seconds. It was all good. I eventually made the recipe a little more complex with some ingredients you would never imagine.

Before I give you the recipe, I want to say... I am a food snob (according to my wife). I like to think I am a foodie. I don't think I have peculiar tastes, and this recipe is one of my favorites (last week I was fiending for one). So, please don't just discount it because of the ingredients.

Rav's Tuna Burrito
2 flour tortillas
1 can of regular tuna (not albacore!)
handfuls of shredded cheese, preferably cheddar or mexican-mix
1/4 cup of diced onion
BBQ sauce of choice, preferably spicy

1. Drain can of tuna and add BBQ sauce to can until tuna is "not dry."
2. Divide can of BBQ tuna to tortillas. Add cheese and onion.
3. Nuke for 30-40 seconds.
4. Eat.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Genesis 51

1-The LORD saw this and he was pleased.
2-Unto the brothers of Joseph He thus spake. "Your days have been difficult, yet your people have persisted."
3-"You seem to have the hang of this, more or less. I've got some other projects I've been working on so I'll be going now."
4-And the brothers lamented, "O Father! What are we do to without you?"
And in return the LORD replied, "Don't sweat it, fellas. You'll be fine. It's a big world with lots of people. You just do what you think is best with it."
5-But they feared responsibility the LORD thus endowed and so they pleaded, "Stay with us, O Father! O King and creator of all! We will build great temples to Thee and pay homage and sacrifice!"
6-The LORD found their offers endearing and did pity them. "Indeed I have created all by my will, and as king of creation I only give one command:
7-That ye be, and make use of the creation I hath wrought."
8-The command of the LORD did stir the meek men's hearts. But their minds were unresponsive to sorting it out just what they were to do about it. And so they cried again unto the LORD.
9-"We will honor your command, O Father, O Lord, and it will be law!" And the brothers murmured to themselves for a bit before asking, "Could you maybe, though, be a little more specific?"
10-Now the LORD was becoming a bit irritated. The LORD double checked the LORD's notes to make sure that he had, in fact, instilled in his creation of human kind the ingredient of free will.
11-And lo! It was so! Right there, check-marked, day 6, sure enough...
12-"I have made you in My image," endeavored the LORD, "So really... you can figure this out for yourselves. It's quite simple, as I previously stated in verse 7. I must be going now, take care!"
13-And then the LORD left the Earth, though he continued to observe His creation since it did please him ever still. But the brothers of Joseph remained vexed and frightened.
14-"What are we to do!" they cried to eachother as they gnashed their teeth and tore at their hair. "We must have the intervention of the LORD to know what is right, or else others who do not believe as we may run amok!"
15-And the brothers agreed and they took council and decided on just what they were pretty sure the laws of the LORD might well have been had he taken the time to spell every detail out.
16-And hither forth in the rest of the books of this text is an account of the fruits of their labors.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sparkling or Smoldering; Your Choice

Sam and Alex are about to witness the end of all things.

"Well, here we are." Sam said.

"At long last," Alex replied.

"Long? Only eternity."


Of course they couldn't be where they were and doing what they were if they had bodies and such things. What they are boils down to being the last two individual consciousnesses in the universe.

"What do you think it will look like?" Alex asked.

"I don't know. It will probably be hard to tell, what with space and time and us collapsing into it," Sam answered.

"Yeah... the Big Crunch, as it were. We probably should have stayed longer at the Big Bang."

"Gone back further you mean?"

"I suppose we did see the good part," Alex suggested, essentially with a smile. "Everything was sparkling and new."

"So full of energy, it was. Bursting forth to begin an eternity of creation and existence," Sam added.

"That was so long ago..."

"Only eternity."

Alex became a bit slower, having to really stop and think for the first time in a long time. "What were we doing before that?"

Sam hardly hesitated at all. "We were on our way there."

"But before that? What did we spend our time doing?"

"We don't spend time anymore. We're soaking in it!"

"Your muddling things up again," Alex said, essentially with a pout. "You always do that... to distract me."

"Distract you from what? The smoldering stars racing towards oblivion? We can always go back and watch it again."

"Can we?"


"How can you say that? How can it be certain? The universe is ending!"


"Well there won't be anything left after that?"

"But there's an eternity of infinity before it."

"But will we exist after it?"

"We existed after the beginning... for an eternity." Sam wondered, "Don't you remember?"

"Of course I do," Alex resolved. "But we're at the end. What happens after?"

"Well quite definitively nothing, I would have to say."

"Why do you say that?" Alex asked, as the last bits of time and matter were now but an infinitesimal distance from that singular point of annihilation.

"Because," Sam replied, gazing on in wonder. "Everything happened before."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Anchorage That Was

December 7, 1941.

It took one night to destroy it all.

Anchorage was finally becoming a prosperous city. It was a port city, but the German's nuclear bomb tests the last eight years on the Arctic icecaps changed the world's shipping routes. Los Angeles was a side track now. Seattle could barely see through the rain. It was a great time to be an Alaskan.

The new trade agreements with the German Reich solidified the United State's position as dominating in the Western Hemisphere. There was one time that we might have stopped them, but a quiet nuking of the Brits changed our foreign policy rather rapidly.

The only other power in the world was Japan. We had just received the secret of nukes from the Reich, which Japan had been negotiating to get for months. It was a slap in their face. Some said it was a decision of race. Regardless, it was amazing how quickly and decisively Japan stopped the cleansing of China and India to stare out at us across the ocean.

There would have been no way to know the fleet was coming. At the time it would be the biggest force on the Pacific. Half of it was aircraft carriers. The other was destroyers. They crept up on Anchorage in the morning. Nobody can see through the morning fog.

The shelling continued through the night. I remember thinking that they must run out of ammunition sometime. I don't remember when they did, but they left. The port was nothing but ruined buildings and the sea was filled with burning shipwrecks. The harbor was choked with metal ruins of tankers and trade ships.

After my country made sure the islands of Japan were void of life, the U.S. refused to acknowledge Anchorage as anything more than a monument to the war. They focused their efforts on rebuilding Hawaii and fortifying L.A. I think they wanted Anchorage to vanish into the fog. And it did.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Standing at the Edge of Creation

The sky was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel.

But he loved the sky like this. In the bitter December cold a sky full of nothing but silver diffusion one could practically know that just past those trees and administration buildings was no less than the end of all things. It was so easy to feel, in the quiet frigidity of winter, huge chunks of the Earth just crumbling away and off into oblivion.

And that might well have been the case. Yesterday was graduation. Today was packing. Yesterday Mom, Dad and Grandma had come to visit to celebrate their boy. Tomorrow he'd be rejoining them for good in the next life.

Everything was done here. As he walked across the empty campus he passed all the buildings he'd toiled in as nothing more than student and observer; practicing... rehearsing.

He had a job lined up already. The university was good about that. Where was it again? Oh yeah, in the design department of that manufacturing company. The job was just one in an endless flurry of attempts to secure attachment in the next life. He didn't know terribly much about any of them, only enough to avoid the ones he was sure he didn't want.

Still, it was a gamble no matter what. The important thing was not what the job was but just that it was his. A place to start. A foundation to build upon.

The world crumbled to dust around him and blew away. The trees toppled over and the administration buildings simply faded as ghosts. He felt the weight of the Earth drain away under his feet. He was soon nearly floating, and it was only a little frightening. The ground he'd walked for better part of his young adult life would soon be altogether gone. He'd be left floating alone just waiting for the sun to rise in the void.

So as he walked, he started to contemplate what wonders he would begin constructing tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


The sun sliced Moby's eyes like a knife as he emerged from his cabin at the crack of noon. In response, His Majesty Mr. Jones put on his patented superstar shades and gave old Sol the finger. He scratched his bare chest and allowed a brief shivering yawn as he scanned the mountain before him. Satisfied that all of his domain was in order, he figured he'd go see how his mate Brodi was handling the morning after.

Brodi sat, as expected, in the lotus position on the deck of his cabin facing East. "Oy!" Moby called as he skidded down the snowbank between their cabins. His over-sized unlaced board boots dug trenches. Brodi turned his head around to flash his California grin, black Ray-Bans, and frosted scruff 'do.

"It lives!" Brodi laughed. "You outdid yourself last night, Bro. Heh... just like every night."

"Wot?" Moby replied in feigned innocence. "A champion cannot rest on 'is laurels, now can 'e? The public demands Mister Moby in top form at all times!"

"Heavy is the head..." Brodi said as he turned his grin back up to the sun. "You 'bout ready to hit the slopes, Bro? I know you don't want to get slushy now that he's coming back to the tour."

"Piss off!" Moby indignantly responded as Brodi chuckled. "That French git got tired of Alpine snow up is arse so now 'e's comin' back 'ere on 'oliday." He flung his arms up in emphasis of this pronouncement and was suddenly struck by a sinister funk.

"A man should always respect his rivals," Brodi rebutted.

"Aw to 'ell with that. That twat might count as a rival if I trip over 'im on my way to the lift, aye?"

Moby Jones picked up a handful of snow, packed it into a snowball and scrubbed a bit under his arms. Brodi noticed this out of the corner of his eye and his grin was immediately replaced by a gag. "Wot?" asked a shrugging Moby who then received a powdery thwak to the back of his head.

"Rise and shine, snoozer!" Zoe hollered as she and her board whooshed down from behind the two men, rode the wooden rail of Brodi's deck, and then sailed out into the air and on down hill. They could swear she even managed to wiggle her backside at them crudely in the course of this graceful maneuver.

"Cheeky Tart!" Moby called after her with a beaming grin and fist shaking in mock rage before scrambling back up the bank to go get his board.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Uncle Enzo, Coda

Uncle Enzo sat in the study of his well-protected mansion. He hated that he was mostly immobile, but the stab wounds were healing "better than expected." The study was once used for book reading, but now Uncle Enzo just came to focus on the portrait of his father.

Uncle Enzo's father, Tony, was a second generation American, back when the U.S. existed. Tony's father was a meat packer, and he came home from work everyday dog-tired. Tony vowed that he would never work so much that it would take him away from his family. So, he started a pizza business in Little Italy, New York, New York.

It was a simple business of making pizza based on his mother's recipes, and they became quite popular. He emulated the Asians over in Little China and hired delivery boys to run it over to whomever ordered the pizza. Rather than pay upon delivery, many customers would come in the next day to pay for last night's meal, and for Tony that was just fine.

Uncle Enzo's favorite thing about his father's old business, one that had grown into the pizza place in North America under Uncle Enzo's guidance, was the promise of a hot pizza in half an hour. Of course, when you are only delivering to people you personally know in Little Italy it was a little simpler. If one of Tony's pizzas came after half an hour, Tony invited the customer over to his house for a personally prepared full Italian meal.

Now it was different. The fucking customers won a veritable lottery if a pizza was delivered over half an hour, and then people had to be fired, accounts had to be re-evaluated, and the media ate up the story like starving dogs. But that was the price to pay for destroying all the other pizza companies. Uncle Enzo finished his drink with a salute to the painting, and left the study to go read the daily report on North American pizza delivery times.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Rain, Civil War

By now they were completely soaked through. The other mourners that bothered to make the trip here from the church had hurriedly scurried away as soon as the preacher's book snapped shut. Life would not yet go on for these two men, however. They were waiting for a glacier, cold and creeping, that would finally catch up to them after countless years.

"Well what are you waiting around here for?" Albert asked his brother. "She's in the ground. It's over. Go back to Vermont. Go home." He didn't look up as he spoke. He just said his part and waited.

"I'm waiting for you, Albert." Michael responded. "We can't just..." He looked around, looked up at the sky. Globes of water exploded on his glasses. "This is ridiculous. We can't leave it at this. I need..."

He stopped short and grimaced while Albert smoldered, gaze unwavering from the headstone. He studied his brother with swelling eyes one last time, as if something would be different, as if the glacier's course could be diverted at the last second. Finally, he succumbed. Finally, he had no choice but surrender. Finally, he let the words go...

"I need you to forgive me."
For a moment they simply stood; silent and still. The wind and the rain heralded the glacier's arrival with their swirling, swelling static. It crept into the world, filling it with a killing chill.
Ultimately, Albert broke the silence. The only way out was through. His hands became fists.

"How dare you!" he said through teeth clenched with rage. "It was all your fault! Everything was!"

Sunday, January 28, 2007


The boy stood on the cliffs of the Falklands. His whole life had been on the islands, and he knew the cliffs well.

As was usual for this time of year, the skies and seas were gray. A painter might focus on the emerald green of the grass, and the boy's red sweater. The boy focused on what would become slashes of white paint swooping across the cliff face. The albatross.

His grandpa had taught him about the majestic birds and their ability to fly great distances around the world. He held the same albatross feather his grandpa had given him long ago, a few days before he died. Before his grandpa left the islands.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Oh God please no! I can't anymore!

But, he has no power to stop it, and it can only be the result of God's twisted will anyway. As soon as his ears pricked at the dogs' barking his legs were pumping again. Flight is all he is. He is the jackalope.

"That's it!" shouts the dogs' master in idiot joy. "I swear I saw it! There it is! That's really it!"

The hunt is ending; the chase is on. The dogs would drop dead of exhaustion before it was over. But maybe, just maybe, that man will yet find a way... to catch him.

If his desire is as strong as mine. Oh God... I have no more.

And the jackalope runs. And the dogs chase. And it is the most thrilling moment of the doomed man's life.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Heaped upon her cushions, holding back sobbing torrents of rage and shame, the Princess silently watched her mother get dressed.

Mother finished preening her every minutia in the mirror and returned her gaze once more to the Princess. The Matriarch was still visibly angry, but not as terrible as before. Had Mother not spoken then, Princess would have suspected herself altogether forgotten.

"Will you be good?" asked Mother, rhetorically. She had no faith in communication at this point, but she underestimated just how well the Princess really did understand- how intensely her resentment and shame still lingered.

Mother hurriedly left.

It was still early morning.

Princess had all day to amuse herself in that woman's house.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Side Effects May Include (pt 1)

So what is consciousness? Self-awareness? Sapience? We sure as hell don’t have the scientific definition down for this/these things. Were’ not even in the neighborhood because we can’t even come up with a practical (practice) definition. One that just gets the gist of what it is that we’re trying to figure out.

“Self Awareness” might be about the best term to explore. After all it was the particularly cited fulcrum on which human history was turned by SkyNet on Aug 29th 1997.

Is self-awareness what separates us from animals, vegetables, and minerals? I’ve recently come across a couple hypotheses on this quintessential conundrum that really struck me as profoundly plausible.

The first comes from Steven Johnson in his short, enlightening, natural exploration Emergence.

One portion contemplates our pattern recognition and inductive abilities with regards to estimating the behavior of our fellow human creatures. We use our ability to read and interpret body language and facial expressions, the verbal language itself, and our own personal knowledge of the world to determine what other people are thinking, what they’re going to do about it, and what they will expect US to do about it. This is an amazingly helpful survival ability! And I’ve personally never experienced it being discussed much at all. It facilitates us engaging in productive behavior since it gives us more information about the situation and it especially facilitates both collaborative and competitive behavior with our fellows. Of course… Together Everyone Achieves More! We’re not the only animals that do this. Dogs and wolves do this famously and to great effect, apes and dolphins as well of course.

It’s not he blind, dumb (but effective) cooperation of an ant colony or a flock of starlings. It’s higher order and cognitive and arguably it’s what we’re best at. After all, we’ve taken it beyond simply family or pack dynamics and built whole cities and nations in a deliberate act of special collaboration.

We did it deliberately but did we necessarily do it consciously? Were we ourselves aware of what we were doing? Well we didn’t see all ends when we started but it’d say the answer’s still a definite “yes”. So why don’t dogs and apes have cities? The dogs might have the opposable thumb excuse but the apes don’t. So, oh yes, let’s do remember that there is still a difference between man and animal. We are self-aware. Is this come divine quantum leave of consciousness between the species? At first gland of course it seems so. But yet inspection of our powerful pattern recognition abilities and our great capability to create a working model of each other creature we meet in our own minds, it becomes easy (as Mr. Johnson, suggests) to view our own self-aware consciousness as a logical evolution of this highly developed skill.