Wednesday, December 2, 2009


With the film version of New Moon, the sequel to Twilight, raking in the cash, I'm left wondering where that money came from, because it's enough to get the country out of the economic crisis. (Okay, probably not... But it sure seems like it!)

Now me, I haven't read any of the books or seen the movies. I don't even want to. What irks me is how insanely popular the series is and how insanely devoted the fans are, so the media buzz has been non-stop. I'd be in the same boat about Harry Potter, but at least the media buzz only happened when a new book or movie came (or comes) out in that franchise.

I heard about Twilight from friends on MySpace, who mentioned it in statuses and bulletins. Then, there were comments on a YouTube fan video I'd made. Note: the video was Rebbecca St. James' song Lion matched with clips from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. (Why? Because the song was on the album Music Inspired By The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, and had actually been written for that album, and EMI and Disney are both YouTube partners, so there'd be no problems with the video.)

Someone thought the song fit Twilight, and at first I shrugged it off. Then, after reading more comments, someone mentioned Twilight was about romantic vampires. I commented that I doubted Rebbecca St. James, a Christian music artist, would license her song for that. And then came the hate. Seriously, these insane Twilight fans started criticizing me for not making the video a Twilight video, "because that's what the song matches."

Some even claimed it didn't fit Narnia. I mentioned that I did it because the song was on a Narnia album, and if people didn't like that it wasn't a Twilight video, then they could make their own. Some idiot seriously replied "Making videos is a waste of my time." I thought, "So trolling on YouTube videos isn't?"

Finally, I was sick of it, and disabled comments and ratings. If people couldn't civilly enjoy my video for what it was, that was their problem and not mine. Narnia fans who could appreciate my videos sent their comments as comments on my channel and as personal messages, which I didn't mind.

Honestly, romantic vampires? How messed up is this? And reading a bit more online, it sounds like it gets even crazier. Sparkling bodies, and werewolves who transform at will.

Watching a commercial for New Moon on television, my sister remarked "Why can't this Bella girl get a normal guy? She's dating vampires and werewolves!" Her husband replied that in the next one, she could date a mummy. "He'd be pre-wrapped."

I've seen lots of comments that the books aren't that good and neither are the movies. ("So, Edward and Jacob take their shirts off, but Bella doesn't? What good is that?" "Yeah...") This could be proof that people do enjoy crap, but try getting them to admit that. Rather, it seems, people like Twilight because they like to fantasize about being intimate with the Supernatural... Or Edward Cullen is the hottest guy ever. (And if that one scene I saw on TV of Robert Pattinson taking his shirt off is how that looks, girls have LOW standards...)

It's not healthy to long after a person who does not exist or is dead. Fantasizing is not bad in moderation, but obsession is not good. As an Oz fan, I run across people who wish they were Princess Ozma's boyfriend or husband. (I actually own a book where a thinly-veiled Gary Stu becomes involved with Ozma.) Jonathan Ian Mathers, writer, voice actor and animator of the popular internet cartoon "Neurotically Yours" has often expressed concern at the amount of nude fan art of his female former Goth character Germaine. (Main character Foamy shouts, "stop sending me nude pictures of Germaine! There's 80 gigs of them on my hard drive!")

I've never been much of one for vampires, but I want my vampires scary, and if they're not, they should be aware that normal relationships are impossible. (If they're immortal, people they love will grow, age, and die while they remain the same.) After seeing the BBC's Being Human, I kind of got a fondness for werewolves, and also love the film An American Werewolf in London. In both, being a werewolf is a curse. It's not fun, and they have no control over what happens to them under the full moon or what they'll do. (They can control where they'll be, for example, in Being Human, George makes sure he transforms in an enclosed room or in the woods.)

I wouldn't care if the Twilight fans and media buzz could be easily tuned out by those who aren't interested, but it's not. Instead, it's force fed to us almost everyday. It's maddening!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

I loved A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh series when I was young. In fact, The House At Pooh Corner was the first full-length book I ever read. The stories of a little boy who was actually playing with his toys and woodland animals in his imagination are certainly quite charming. That led on to my reading other books, and many of the childhood classics I enjoyed so have become treasured pieces in my library.

Many of the books I've loved have had sequels written since: Peter And Wendy has been followed with the film Hook and the book Peter Pan in Scarlet, The Chronicles of Narnia were followed by an ill-fated and largely forgotten book called The Giant Surprise, goodness knows how many people have written further adventures for Alice and the Wonderland and Looking-Glass characters, and similarly, there is a countless number of further adventures in the Land of Oz written after L. Frank Baum's death. Many of these books feel like poor imitations of the initial author's style.

When I discovered that the Milne estate had authorized a new Winnie-the-Pooh book, I was interested, though put off a bit. I largely forgot about it, however. Finally, earlier this week, I found the book at a local supermarket while looking for a card. (Coincidentally, I had settled on a Pooh-themed card.) Thumbing through it, it piqued my interest. I rarely buy books off the rack (in fact, most of my books were collected through online orders), but I did this time.

I couldn't get my hopes up too high. As A.A. Milne and his son Christopher Robin Milne are dead, likely the executors of the estate could only do so much. There will never be another A.A. Milne, and though there are some impressive imitators, there will never be another E.H. Shepard.

I was surprised at the opening note, which featured the author, David Benedictus, conversing with the Pooh characters about the writing of the book, gloomy Eeyore claiming that he would not get it right.

And how did Benedictus do?

Ultimately, Eeyore was right. As I said, there will never be another A.A. Milne. While the stories were good and very fun to read, they lacked Milne's charm and the wit that flew over my head as a child but I picked up on when I was older.

That is not to say the stories are without charm, but it is completely Benedictus'. Some tones were different, for example, while death is not addressed directly in Milne, Bendictus' Owl mentions he has his Uncle Robert's ashes in a vase on his mantle, and they were scattered (and mostly recollected) when Owl's house blew over in The House At Pooh Corner.

Some of the humor was a little odd, for example, in a cricket game, when Christopher Robin explains that England and Australia have had cricket tournaments against each other, Kanga says that she and Roo will represent Australia. I didn't pick up on this a bit, then realized that of course, one of Australia's most iconic animals is the kangaroo.

Christopher Robin left the Hundred Acre Wood at the end of The House At Pooh Corner to go to school, but Return to the Hundred Acre Wood finds him returning to his friends from the original books, presumably on Summer holiday. New adventures and endeavors are had by the characters, and we meet a new character, in the tradition of Milne. (Kanga and Roo were newcomers to the Forest in Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger arrives in The House At Pooh Corner.)

The new character is Lottie the Otter, a rather proud and haughty creature who comes off as a bit modern, but eventually, I forgot she was a new character and let her go ahead and join my old favorites.

Mark Burgess' illustrations are lovely tributes to how E.H. Shepard "decorated" the original books. They closely follow Shepard's original designs, while Burgess adds his own style.

Overall, if you can overlook that this is someone who isn't A.A. Milne writing Pooh stories (which, seeing how Disney's popular sugar-coated version has been expanded upon, it's not really the first time), Return to the Hundred Acre Wood is worth a read. I wouldn't mind giving it to a niece or nephew, after they had enjoyed Milne's original works.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I don't write here often enough...

SO... Audrey and Shaun offered to let me move in with them. Thinking it over, I decided it would be a good idea. I could help them out, and my own bills would be greatly reduced. Pretty much, all I'd have to do is get a cell phone to replace my current phone service. Also, if I ever wanted to travel, no worrying about "Who'll take care of Jack?"

My biggest problem has been my work situation. While I could easily transfer, I'd prefer not to. I love the people I work with and it wouldn't feel right, doing the same work for different people.

So, today Shaun took me around to seven places and I filled out applications for them all. They were...
  • Sam's Club
  • Rapid Robert's
  • Movie Gallery
  • Dillon's
  • Pet Warehouse
  • Price Cutter
  • Harter House

I'm kind of hoping for Sam's or Movie Gallery. But if I don't hear anything from them soon, I'll just transfer. Probably my best bet would be Price Cutter, as I actually worked at a Price Cutter before. That work experience would probably also increase my chances at Sam's, Harter House, or Dillon's.

Now to break the news to the folks at work...

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Sad Event

Last Saturday, Audrey called me almost midnight to tell me she'd miscarried. Knowing that that meant her baby had died, I immediately asked if she was all right. She said she was, but I know she's still dealing with it. She and Shaun are sticking together to heal together.

Not only is this a death, but they wanted a child so much. This is also them putting aside the preparation, the excitement, and the expectation of having a child.

Bad things happen, but life goes on.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gift idea!

Stuck for a Christmas gift? Books are always good! But what if there aren't any editions out there that you can afford that are gift-worthy?

Here's a solution!

There are hundreds of books in the public domain out there, and many are online. Texts can be obtained easily from Project Gutenberg, and some illustrated editions are available from Google Books and Internet Archive. Also, sometimes a Google search can turn up illustrations.

If you have software that can format books, you're good to go! Just a bit of know-how can create good-looking editions of books.

Be sure that you aren't just creating a print-out of the book's text. Although it will require a bit of work, try fixing the paragraph margins for the book. They're done quite differently from webpages in a book. Make sure your text looks decent, and add a title page. (You can also try adding a table of contents.)

If you want to save your work as a PDF, the free software Open Office supports PDF creation, which many print-on-demand publishers will accept.

Try to keep a small page size (as in inches) when formatting your book. Smaller books are easier to wrap and more portable. You may want to visit some of the sites described in the next paragraph to determine a good size for your book.

Now, upload your finished file to a print-on-demand publishing site. is a good source for this. You will usually have to create a cover separate from the book, and Lulu offers a cover designer.

If everything you used is clearly legal, you can even use the site to sell copies of the book. (Remember, copies you buy will be at cost.)

I must remind you: be sure the text and any images and other material you use is public domain where you live. What is public domain in one country may not be elsewhere. If not, if the copyright owners find out, you could be in serious trouble, especially if you try to sell copies of your edition.

Although I mentioned Google Books and, not every piece of material has been cleared for use commercially. If they discovered you used their material, you could also be in trouble. Using these would probably be all right if you're printing up a copy for a gift, but if you're trying to sell it, make sure the version you have does not prohibit commercial use. Having warned you, if you get in trouble for this, I take no responsibility. People worked to get those online for everyone to enjoy. If they don't want you to profit from their work, that is their choice.

Also, if you're using illustrations you found online, be sure that they're okay to use in print. Just because it's online, does not mean it's free to use.

So, with a little bit of care, you could have a nice book to give to someone special!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Being Human Again

So, last Saturday night, BBC America concluded their initial airing of Being Human, the supernatural drama that was a big hit in the UK early this year.

Despite blurred middle fingers and bums, muted profanity, and some cut shots, the series was still able to shine and entertain. I was lucky enough to see the uncut British version before the BBC America began their airing. (So why did I watch it on TV? To show my support and see just how it was cut for America.)

Ignoring the pilot that's been pulled from syndication in the UK and is officially unreleased in the US, the series stands on it's own. Episode one begins with a monologue from Annie, a young woman who died under mysterious circumstances by falling down the stairs in her home. As she haunts her former home, we are introduced to Mitchell, a vampire who was converted in World War I to prevent the other men in his troop from becoming vampire fodder, and George, a neurotic young man who was attacked by a werewolf while vacationing in Scotland, and now changes into a werewolf under the full moon.

Unseen at present, George and Mitchell have become friends (odd, since vampires usually hate werewolves) and move into Annie's old home. It is only a matter of time before Annie introduces herself to the new tenants.

George and Mitchell have decided to try to slip into normal human society. George is careful about where he is when he transforms every month, usually in the woods, where he will likely only kill wild animals in his wolf form, and later, in an enclosed room. Mitchell is trying to wean himself off of blood, and is often seen snacking on food throughout the series.

Annie, however, is trying to discover how she died and why she's still around. To her delight, Mitchell and George can always see her, as they are supernatural, but normal humans can only see her when she is completely self-confident.


Episode one throws the viewer into lives of the trio (okay, two lives and an afterlife), as George is forced to stay at home as he transforms, Annie discovers her fiance is dating the woman she dreaded that he would turn to, and Mitchell must deal with Lauren, a young woman he made into a vampire during the opening monologue, and later, other vampires appear to make life difficult for Mitchell and his friends: the leader of the vampires Herrick, and Seth, a vampire who hides as an undertaker, ready to cart new vampire recruits to the vampire headquarters. (Placed in a funeral parlor, a device so cliche, even the characters comment on it.)

In episode two George discovers another werewolf, Tully, who moves in with the trio, as a mentor to George. However, he quickly becomes a pain, and despite his initial chumminess with Mitchell and charming Annie, alienates everyone but George. Tully eventually reveals a secret to George that makes George decide to end the friendship with his mentor and return home.

Episode three finds Annie struggling with her anxiety, and Mitchell and George introduce her to Gilbert, a guy who died in the 1980's, who tries to help Annie deal with her afterlife and possibly discover why she hasn't "crossed over." However, it results in her discovering the circumstances of her death. Meanwhile, George develops a romantic relationship with coworker Nina, while Mitchell tries to help Lauren with her blood addiction.

Episode four finds Mitchell attempting to befriend Bernie, a neighborhood boy, but when Mitchell accidentally loans him a vampire snuff video, the entire community thinks George and Mitchell are pedophiles, which sours Mitchell's desire to join humanity, and complicates George's relationship with Nina. Meanwhile, Annie discovers that her emotional turmoil over her death has led to poltergeist activity, and she tries to control it.

Episode five finds Mitchell joining the vampires again, helping them with their plan to convert the world to vampires, but an old flame and George and Annie help him see the vampires' true plan. George overcomes some of his hesitation to act, while Annie confronts her murderer.

In episode six, deciding to end the vampires' hold over him once and for all, Mitchell challenges Herrick to a fight. George, however, sees this as his opportunity to pay Mitchell back for the moment that they met: Mitchell saving George from being beaten to death by other vampires.

While some viewers want to nitpick about details they didn't catch, I found the entire series well-written and strung together very well. Character story arcs occur through the series, for example, in episode one, George expresses his disgust at Annie's presence, but in episode five, when Annie decides to resolve her death, George tells her that he doesn't want her to leave, now that he and Mitchell have been her friends.

Each episode consistently keeps a theme going in all the story threads. Fans have decided that the six episodes present the themes of death, friendship, love, identity, relationships, and resolutions.

Some American fans have criticized the series for it's short run. I think, however, that a short series helps the episodes become more plot driven, as opposed to American shows that often turn to fluffy subplots.

The acting is also terrific, from the leads to the secondary characters to the one episode-only characters. Just another reason to love it. One actor who plays a secondary character makes his character fairly likable in the first couple episodes, but later manages to act so evil, it was just amazing!

I'm still loving just how good this show is!

I'm A Monkey's Uncle...

This is my niece, Amber. (With her aunt Audrey and her dad, my brother Aaron.)

And yesterday, I scanned in Audrey's first ultrasound photos. Yes, she's pregnant. And according to the doctor, they conceived on the wedding night.

I've nicknamed Amber "Crazy Monkey Girl" because of her energy that always comes with kids that young. When Audrey told me that she was pregnant, I commented, "Well, there's another crazy monkey kid for me to be an uncle to... and it has a crazy monkey father."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Toddlers and Plastic Surgery

My sister posted this on a Facebook note. I agree...

As I was enjoying my wonderful day off, waiting for my husband to wake up from working overnight on thursday, I usually find myself online discussing things with friends over instant messaging, texting and so on. We often share things such as things we are looking up or watching and in this certain case, topics on papers being written for school.

When we think of plastic surgery, usually we see:
A) Someone with the most absolutely stunning body type who is flawless in all being.
B) Botox, no one wants to have wrinkly skin!
C) Liposuction, Nose Jobs, Chin Implants, Breast Reduction, Breast Enhancement
D) Hair Transplant, for people going bald or have thinning hair
Just to name off a few.

No one thinks about plastic surgery and suddenly thinks, "Oh! I should have my toddler go through that because they have a jelly roll!"

You heard me. Toddler.

I got sent a link to the most disturbing thing I have ever EVER seen on

Who in their right frame of mind would do such a thing? Made me sick. The article goes as follows, and I guess there is a book as well:
On Mothers Day, a new book called My Beautiful Mommy will be (self) published by a plastic surgeon. It's a picture book for young children that explains the ins and outs of Mommy's impending tummy tuck and nose job.
This book has generated a lot of controversy and got me thinking about children's notions of physical beauty. It also led me to a brilliant idea, which I unveil here for the first time.


First, let's consider toddlers' views on what makes a person beautiful. Let's be honest, isn't it annoying how clueless they are of true standards of beauty? All children seem to think, for example, that their moms are beautiful, even if she has a big nose or sagging skin...or worse.
I ask you: is this a healthy viewpoint? If we don't teach our toddlers otherwise, won't they take this misguided view of beauty into later childhood, even adulthood? Imagine the consequences to society if everyone was considered beautiful in his/her own way.
And should we be praising toddlers for how they look, when they invariably possess offensive pot bellies and gross rolls of 'baby fat'? Give me a break. Who really likes a big fat stomach on any human of any age? You don't like one on yourself, why should you on a child? Imagine the let-down in store for them when their cherished jelly bellies become objects of ridicule by their peers!
No, far better to 1) to teach them the real standards of beauty from early on (hence: My Beautiful Mommy), and 2) at the same time help them to achieve that ideal of beauty with the help of modern medicine (hence: my brilliancy).


As I thought more about this book, I realized that there's simply no excuse in this day and age for you not to be a beautiful mommy or for you to have a pug-ugly toddler. Welcome to Dr. P's Spa for Toddler Cosmetic Surgery, offering a full range of beautification services for the little ones:

-Liposuction to tuck in that protruding stomach! I have already spoken of the long-term horrors of the jelly belly.
-Hair transplants for that wispy hair. Your toddler isn't an old man. Why should his hair look like it belongs to one?
-Nose jobs (a "mini bob"). True, most toddler noses haven't yet achieved their full offensive size and shape, but there are numerous asymmetries and improper angles. A little tweaking could render them absolutely perfect.
-Shaving a few inches off thunder thighs. This also promotes walking without inter-thigh friction, which can cause unsightly rashes and an unsteady gait.
-Male member enlargement. As a man, I find toddlers' tiny weenies to be disgraceful.
-Implants (saline, not silicone - I am all about health) in girls for their pathetically undeveloped breasts. Eventually she will have to deal with womanly breasts - why not learn to manage them well before the inevitable shock of puberty?
-A butt lift. Let's be honest, on whom does a big butt ever look good? And diapers only add to their apparent heft!
-Botox to make their eyes larger. Nothing is worse in my book than beady-eyed toddlers. They look so untrustworthy.


The benefits of my modest proposal will already be obvious to you. It will, for example, be easier for parents to love a cosmetically perfect child than a flawed one, so parent-child bonding will be enhanced. Other kids will admire and respect your surgically perfected child, whose social cache will skyrocket. And proper values will have been instilled from an early age.
So, watch for the grand opening of Dr. P's Spa for Toddler Cosmetic Surgery. In my humble opinion, sure to be the next great 21st century advancement in pediatric care.

I know this is going to sound completely horrible, but I am kinda thankful the guy that wrote that has passed on. Who would think such a thing about little children? Seriously. What should it matter to human eye anyway? A child is beautiful in the way they were made for they were made in Gods image:
Genesis 1:27
-So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

I love the way children see things, there isn't any imperfections or doubts or regrets or worries. There is complete adoration and compassionate love for people. I wish somedays we could revert back to that child like state and see everything as they do because then really to be honest, we would love everything a lot deeper and see things as God made us to see them. Not to pick out every tiny aspect of what is wrong, but to just love it whole heartedly for the natural beauty that it has. Wouldn't that be completely awesome?
Is this how unhealthily obsessed with beauty our culture has become?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


So, when I heard Being Human was going to be on BBC America, I considered getting cable or satellite service. I finally decided to, since I'd surely find something interesting to watch. (Seriously, after the season finales of Family Guy and The Simpsons, I didn't turn on my digital converter box.) I contacted my phone and Internet provider, AT&T. They work with DirectTV for their TV service, so I applied there.

It turns out DirectTV will check your credit history. I've posted before that either my credit was marred by an evil company that no longer exists, or I have unestablished credit. So, after applying, I was contacted, saying that more information was needed, and I would need to call them to provide it. The next morning, I was on hold for 49 minutes before I decided that I needed to call back later, as I had to go to work. When I got home from work, I was on hold for another 20 minutes before my call was answered, and they confirmed my suspicion: they had an issue with my credit history. Never mind me paying AT&T's phone and internet bills on time consistently for over 2 years, they wanted me to pay an additional $200 up front. That's over half of my monthly apartment rent. I told them to cancel the order, if I decided I wanted to pursue service with them, I'd apply again.

I looked into DishNetwork, but their first package with BBC America included was $70 a month at the introductory price.

I tried Mediacom, but the only website I could find for them on Google said my address was ineligible for Mediacom service. For some reason, I called Shaun, who was, at the time, Audrey's fiancee, and he suggested I call them, since they knew some of my neighbors had Mediacom service.

I didn't get a chance to call Mediacom until the next day. Instead of asking me for my credit history or making me hold for over a half hour (with hold music that was actually listenable), they answered my call in a reasonable time and we selected a package and they arranged a time for them to come over. The up front cost would be $85. (An additional $10 bill came later.)

The day we set, they didn't make me wait hours and hours, but came about 10:30 AM, and got my set up quickly. Due to a short cord and only one cable outlet, I had to move my TV to my living room again. (Recently, I got a 100-foot coaxial cable that restored the location to my office.)

After having cable for over 3 weeks, there are some shows that I enjoy seeing. The only ones I watch regularly are Being Human and The Smoking Gun Presents World's Dumbest. (Get a lot of B-list celebrities to comment on video footage. It's hilarious!) I'll tune into re-runs of The Cosby Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and other shows I have fond memories of. Sometimes I'll find something I'd be interested in, but not enough for me to keep the TV on all the time.

I did find a few other shows on BBC America that sparked some interest. The UK version (which is actually the original version) of Antiques Roadshow was a lot more enjoyable than the US version, given it had an outdoor environment and the appraisers have some attitude. A show that airs right before seemed a little similar: Cash in the Attic. Appraisers visit someone's home to look for valuable old items to sell at auction to help the homeowner raise funds for a project they're attempting. And I also decided to see what was in this Doctor Who thing that I'd heard of so much by watching the US premiere of Planet of the Dead. I enjoyed it. I've read a lot of comments that it wasn't the best episode and was rather weak, but as I'd had no previous experience with the Doctor Who franchise (that I'd read up on a little bit on Wikipedia first), it was an okay "Doctor Who 101."

All I can say is that, I'm satisfied with the service, and am considering switching my internet over to Mediacom, too.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mr. & Mrs. O'Donnell

Yes, so my sister Audrey and Shaun were married yesterday in a ceremony that somehow did not get major drama from our family.

Audrey and I practically grew up together. We shared the same bedroom most of our lives, we played together, when we got older, we eventually made a DVD library together and then we both moved out shortly after Audrey turned 18.

A few months into living on our own, we decided we could afford to get home internet access, and this is when Audrey met Shaun on After this, they began to Instant Message, e-mail, interact on MySpace, and make phone calls. This is not to say their relationship went smoothly. But what did happen they were able to work out and forgive each other for.

Eventually, Audrey decided to go visit Shaun in Derby, Kansas, and not too long after returning home, he asked her to move in with him. I was losing my sister, my roommate, and the person who helped pay the bills. If anyone had a right to feel mad at her leaving, it was me. But I didn't. I just decided to step back and let her go.

I was thrilled to hear that Shaun proposed to Audrey on Valentine's Day, and she of course said "Yes." They moved back to Springfield in September, 2008, and started renting their own home shortly after the New Year.

Shaun and Audrey did visit Springfield a couple times before moving back, and I was glad to meet Shaun. He got along with most of my family, except Mom, who has recently decided to accept him as Audrey's husband. (Yes!) In later time, Shaun felt like a brother to me, Genevieve, and Aaron, and Drew, Arthur, and Daniel liked him well enough.

As the wedding drew closer, stress got worse for Audrey and Shaun, particularly in the financial area. However, with some careful saving and shopping, and help from Shaun's family, Aaron and Jessica, and a bit from myself (paying for my own tux rental and helping with Dad's), they managed to get through.

They've been through a lot already and have stuck through it. Let's hope they keep it up. Shaun Christopher Patrick O'Donnell and Audrey Marie Angelique O'Donnell, may you have the happiest life together.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Putting things in perspective

I'm not sure my readers will agree with this 100%, but I decided to re-post it here.

Okay, I need to rant.

I was just watching the news, and I caught part of a report on Michael Jackson. As we all know, Jackson died the other day. He was an entertainer who performed for decades. He made millions, he spent millions, and he did a lot of things that make him a villian to many people. I understand that his death would affect a lot of people, and I respect those people who mourn his death, but that isn't the point of my rant.

Why is it that when ONE man dies, the whole of America loses their minds with grief. When a man dies whose only contribution to the country was to ENTERTAIN people, the Amercian people find the need to flock to a memorial in Hollywood, and even Congress sees the need to hold a "moment of silence" for his passing?

Am I missing something here? ONE man dies, and all of a sudden he's a freaking martyr because he entertained us for a few decades? What about all those SOLDIERS who have died to give us freedom? All those Soldiers who, knowing that they would be asked to fight in a war, still raised their hands and swore to defend the Constitution and the United States of America. Where is there moment of silence? Where are the people flocking to their graves or memorials and mourning over
them because they made the ultimate sacrifice? Why is it when a Soldier dies, there are more people saying "good riddance," and "thank God for IEDs?" When did this country become so calloused to the sacrifice of GOOD MEN and WOMEN, that they can arbitrarily blow off thier deaths, and instead, throw themselves into mourning for a "Pop Icon?"

I think that if they are going to hold a moment of silence IN CONGRESS for Michael Jackson, they need to hold a moment of silence for every service member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They need to PUBLICLY recognize every life that has been lost so that the American people can live their callous little lives in the luxury and freedom that WE, those that are living and those that have gone on, have provided for them. But, wait, that would take too much time, because there have been so many willing to make that sacrifice. After all, we will never make millions of dollars. We will never star in movies, or write hit songs that the world will listen to. We only shed our blood, sweat, and tears so that people can enjoy what they have.

Sorry if I have offended, but I needed to say it. Feel free to pass this along if you want.

Remember these five words the next time you think of someone who is serving in the military;
"So that others may live..."

An American Soldier

Only two people have ever effectively given their lives for you.
Jesus Christ and The American G.I.
One died for your sins, the other died to give you freedom.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Famous People Dying

I guess with the death of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett on Thursday, I'm no longer the only one noticing the high number of celebrities dying. Ed McMahon died the same day, and I just read that Billy Mays died today. You know, he was that guy selling some kind of cleaning product like OxyClean, booming a big voice.

Here's an example:

But Shaun's friend Nick just posted this on Facebook:

LOL... There's also a joke about Michael Jackon's 99% plastic body being melted into Legos "so little kids can play with him for a change," but that's... well, I guess I just shared it didn't I?

Fact is, folks, people die all the time. We just tend to care more when they were famous. I was never a Michael Jackson fan, never saw an episode of Charlie's Angels (much less the new movies), never bought OxyClean, and I don't even remember what Ed McMahon did to be famous. I don't care.

... Unless... It's a government conspiracy to blind us all as to what's REALLY going on!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My birthday

My birthday was last Wednesday. People who know me in person can't believe I'm 23, as these facial blemishes make me look younger, and people who know me online thought I was older.

Well, as my computer had just recovered from a virus, I spent a pitiful amount of time re-installing programs I'd lost that I needed. (The nice thing about starting fresh was that I had a better idea of what programs I actually use.)

Later, I went over to Wal-Mart on the bus, because I'd seen some DVDs on a discount rack the last time I'd been there that I decided I'd like to pick up. They were gone. I looked around for a bit, and found nothing to tempt my wallet (nothing that I could afford, and most of what I couldn't, I knew I didn't need), so I bought some groceries. (Including some cupcakes and ice cream cones for ice cream I'd already had at home.)

I got home, put my groceries away, found nothing in the mail, and went back to the computer.

Later, Shaun called and offered to pick me up a little early. While I was waiting for him to arrive, I got a call from Tim Armstrong, who needed technical assistance with downloading a video. I offered to do it for him, but unfortunately, could not get it done. Tim said it was okay, and I left with Shaun, who had arrived.

We went over to his and Audrey's place first, where it was fun with cats and a laser pointer. Then, we went to pick Audrey up from work, then over to Aaron and Jessica's, then to Lambert's Cafe in Ozark.

It took us an hour to get seated. I'd tried to eat little, if anything, the whole day because it's very easy to get full at Lambert's. Well, let it suffice to say that even with that, no one at our table had seconds, though some had leftovers. (I didn't finish my "fried apples," but I didn't take them with me.)

We went back to A&J's, where we let our stomachs settle before getting into the ice cream I'd bought. Only Audrey, Aaron and I had any of the cupcakes, and I took all of those leftovers back home.

I had my camcorder on me the whole day, and filmed some video. Audrey and Jessica asked that they be edited out, but I couldn't get every bit of Audrey out. I filmed about nine minutes of footage, and edited that down to the video you see below:

When I got home, I found four big, soft wrapped packages outside my door. Without opening them (which I did the next morning), I instantly (and correctly) guessed it was a bedding set from my mother. When I got in, I found messages on my answering machine from my little brother. For some reason, they couldn't seem to get the idea that I may have had plans and had expected that I'd be home that night. On the second message, he asked, "Can we stay the night?" I thought, "If it was that pressing, couldn't they have thought that I might be with Audrey and call her?"

I tried calling to my brother Drew's place, but I got no answer (as usual). Later, when my parents did manage to get me on the phone, they said they weren't going to ask what I was doing.

What, did they think I was at a bar getting drunk off my head? Don't they know me at all?


This past year, I think the lesson I can definitely say I've learned is to focus better. (Sadly, this doesn't mean I'll get videos and blogs and podcasts out quite as soon as I'd like...)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sequels, Prequels, Midquels, Remakes, and Reboots

There's no movies this summer that are calling me to the theaters. Everything this year seems to be a spin-off of something else! And it all seems to be something I don't really care about.

You got "X-Men Origins: Wolverine": a prequel, you got "Terminator: Salvation": the sequel no one asked for, and "Star Trek": which someone explained to me in such a complicated fashion, I had to finally figure it out and say, "It's a sequel, a prequel, and a reboot?" To which they replied, "Yep!"

And yeah, there's other sequels out there now, but I'm not going to pick out every single one. It's like, every movie is a remake, a sequel, a prequel, a midquel (meaning it takes place during another movie or story), a reboot of a long-dead series, or a re-hash of an idea that feels like it's been done a million times.

Just about the only movies that feel original are either not from this country, or are actually based on a book that went without a movie adaptation until now.

This leads me to ask: where is the creativity in Hollywood? No one has it! You remember seeing an old movie, then found out it was based on a book, and then you found the book, read it, and discovered that it was almost completely different from the movie? At least that shows some originality!

Now, there are some original movies out there. Those Christian movies like Facing the Giants and Fireproof come to mind, but they have a problem... they feel underdone. (And in the case of those Christian movies, just a bit too preachy and Sunday School-ish.)

And on the chance someone does make an actually good original movie, it either flops, or does well and gets buried by terrible SEQUELS! I don't know about you, but when I hear a movie has a long list of sequels, I tend to avoid it. Because, if you see one, you feel obligated to see the rest. (It was only my serious lack of interest that the original Friday the 13th was the only movie from that series I watched.)

Just about the only movies with original stories that do well are these Disney/Pixar movies, and other family fare. The thing is, I'm not a kid anymore, I don't have kids, and these tend to get sappy.

And don't get me started on those parody movies! They're all terrible!

The industry is wondering why YouTube has such a large appeal. Here's the reason: homemade videos are usually original, and if they're not, they're short, and didn't rob you of $7-20 for a ticket.

I miss the good old days when movies were made to be quality entertainment, and not just to make money. Sure, back then, making money was an aim, but they would also strive to make a quality product. It just goes to show...

...They don't make them like they used to.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I feel like I haven't blogged in forever. Just haven't had anything to say that strikes me as blog-worthy.

I've been tired a LOT recently... In the morning, when I get up, at night, before I go to bed. Yesterday, I had three cups of coffee, two in the early morning between 8 and 10 AM, and one in the evening about 7:30PM... and I loved all three of them.

Well, actually, last night, I heard my friend Taphas say he was moving over to my side of town, so I told him, "Hey, if you want, you can move in with me, and the rent would be just $195 a month for each of us." He said he'd consider it, but we'll see how that works out.

That would make things a lot easier on me. I went grocery shopping to get by until next payday, and now have a frightfully small bank balance.

Also, been working around with video today. I have that HD camcorder, but the 32GB card I won a bid on eBay for has never arrived, even though I always pay for my eBay items right after I win them. (Which is why I'm a gold star eBay buyer...) I placed a non-receipt claim on the $12.50 transaction for it with PayPal, and... *sigh* the seller hasn't responded yet, and PayPal asked them to do so by June 6th.

... But anyways... My video editor can't use the mp4 files the camcorder makes, so I have to convert them, but ALL of the video converters I have either made the video take a noticeable hit in quality, or gave me a glitched file that was shown at the wrong aspect ratio.

I am convinced technology's main purpose is to aid mankind as it annoys the heck out of him.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

10 Awesome Movies

Here are 10 movies I've seen that I consider to be awesome. They're made well, some are a little artsy, but they're great.

If.... (1968)
This is a very surreal movie, reality steps into fantasy, and the film shifts from black and white to color and vice versa repeatedly. And, it has one of the greatest endings I've ever seen!

The movie is a fable about the British school system by depicting a school for boys. It explores the themes of repressing sexuality, religion, and bullying from peers and masters. It was followed up with two other movies, O, Lucky Man! in 1974, and Britannia Hospital in 1982. The three are connected by being fables about British life, but their only connection is that all of them have a character named Mick Travis who is played by Malcolm McDowell. While if.... is considered a black comedy, the later two were a little more outrageous in their humor.

A Clockwork Orange (1972)
Based on Anthony Burgess' book, Stanley Kubrick's controversial tale of violence and the human spirit is disturbing and awe-inspiring.

Malcolm McDowell stars as Alex DeLarge, a young man who enjoys his life of violence, rape, and classical music. But when he is arrested after an accidental murder, Alex looks to a new rehabilitation technique for a quick way out of jail. The technique works, but not in the way anyone expected.

The way the movie is scripted and filmed and acted is perfect. There's not a lot more I can say. (What'd you expect from Stanley Kubrick?)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1972)
Despite the see-through costumes and visual effects, this film does something I really, really respect: it holds fast to it's source material. Instead of embellishing on Carroll's work or taking from it, it keeps it intact. (With the forgivable framing of Mr. Dodgson taking the Liddell sisters for a boat ride, the puzzling disappearance of the Cheshire Cat scene, and the odd addition of the Tweedles, the only concession this movie makes to Through the Looking Glass.) It features great performances by future Phantom Michael Crawford as the White Rabbit, and Bond-girl-to-be Fiona Fullerton as Alice. There are short songs and diddies that occur, some derived from Carroll, some based on lines from the book ("Off with it's head! Off with it's head! Mutilate it! Decapitate it! We'll be much better off with it dead!"), and some completely new ones. The biggest problem with this movie is that most home video releases use an exceptionally poor print.

Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Peter Weir's atmospheric film is chilling and enthralling. The movie circles around the mysterious disappearance of some schoolgirls and a teacher at the rock formation known as Hanging Rock. Some live with the mystery, some embrace it, but what is certain is that things will never be the same.

The movie has a gentle yet eerie pace. Soft classical music and the panpipes of George Zamphir heighten the mood. The acting from all the cast is perfect, but the most imposing character is the Rock itself. It is menacing and entrancing all at the same time.

Back to the Future (1985)
Did you expect it not to be here? In an entertaining and engaging tale, director Bob Zemeckis and writer Bob Gale spin a sci-fi adventure tale, with action, and even a romantic plot, making this a movie that does it all, and does it well.

The movie was followed up by a 2-part sequel in 1989 and 1990, titled Back to the Future Part II and Back to the Future Part III. The sequel picks up right where the first one left off and takes the audience far into the future and even farther into the past.

Did I mention the amazing performances of Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Tom Wilson?

Shallow Grave (1994)
Danny Boyle's first feature film, and the first movie written by John Hodges. This gently-paced thriller takes on the adage "Never involve friends in matters of money." Three flatmates in Edinburgh take on a fourth. They wake up one morning and find him dead and a suitcase full of money. They're faced with the choice of reporting it to the police for proper body removal and confiscation of the money, or they can dispose of the body their own way, and keep the money for themselves.

Although there are some turns and the characters aren't too well developed, I just can't get enough of this one.

Forgotten Silver (1995)
Peter Jackson's mockumentary of an overlooked New Zealand film making pioneer is hilarious, engaging and touching. You find yourself wishing it was true. The tale they weave of Colin McKenzie, who supposedly made the first sound film, the first color movie, and the first feature-length movie is that engaging and well-told.

Well-shot silent footage (that was also brilliantly artificially aged), accompanied by commentary by Colin's widow, a woman who appeared in one of his films, film archivists and critics (including Leonard Maltin) add to the deception.

Trainspotting (1996)
This film offers a powerful look at the life of junkies by not being blatantly anti-drug. It also offers a stellar soundtrack! The movie follows the misadventures of Mark Renton and his friends as they make the decision whether or not to "Choose Life."

Honestly, the narrative of the movie pales compared to the novel by Irvine Welsh. What we wind up with is something that is considerably different from it's source, but still very respectful to it.

Spider-Man (2002)
This is, in my opinion, the way to do a superhero movie. Get a great story and a great cast (I don't care if Kirsten Dunst isn't a match for the Mary Jane of the comics). The hero's origin is related dramatically, altered a bit for screen, and does not drag through the movie. In addition, they handle the villain well, a great match for the hero, but the villain is not played down and robbed of screen time, and is not exactly a completely unsympathetic character.

So far, there have been two additional movies made in this series. Spider-Man 2 (2004) is often considered the best of the three, as it deftly handled handled the question "What if a superhero didn't want to be a hero anymore?" Spider-Man 3 (2007) is generally considered a let down, as it got bogged down with three villains who each could have handled their own film, and a conflict for the hero that needed more fleshing out. (The whole Peter Parker dressing in black and dancing thing could have gone, too.) Spider-Man 4 is expected for 2011.

EDIT: Unable to decide on a script, Spider-Man 4 has been shelved, and a new series of films based on the character will be produced.

Waiting... (2005)
A disturbing and engaging look at a day in the life of working-class America. The movie follows the crew of a night shift at ShenaniganZ restaurant who are working their jobs and making decisions that could change their lives.

The cast is hilarious (some viewers seem to have some emotional baggage about the cast, though) and perform excellently. The script is witty and makes the movie easy to relate to for anyone who's worked in a restaurant or a similar job. Music is used effectively to convey the action and thoughts of the characters. The thing that may drive some people away is the food-tampering scenes and "The Game."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Curious Case of the Video of this Week

I have been uploading at lease one video a week to my not-at-all Ozzy YouTube channel, JaredofMO, but this week's video has an interesting history.

First off, it might help if you see this video:

My sister and her friends filmed that in 2006, while they were on a Missions Trip to Jeruco, Mexico. Incidentally, it was the first video on YouTube that would turn up if you searched for "Jeruco." (There are now many other videos.) The score was done by a musician they'd met while they were there.

It was while Audrey was in Mexico that year that I decided she and I should look into moving out, but that's not important right now.

The next year, they went back, the guys were gone, and some new kids were with them. They filmed a new video, with a different idea. It would be more like random sketches than an actual plot. Shortly after she returned, though, things got kind of serious with her and Shaun, and she didn't get a chance to put it together.

The footage was taken from the camera, put on the computer, then later, I put it on a DVD+R disc.

A couple weeks ago, I found it and asked Audrey if she'd mind if I took a shot at putting it together. She said, "You probably would anyways," so she said I could.

Audrey says it's "funneh," but she misses the title and credits... I sent her the video file I made it from and we'll see if she does anything with it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Taco and Chili recipes ... my way

Unlike your stereotypical bachelor, I actually cook. Here's a couple recipes I've done.

~1 lb. ground turkey (or beef, I prefer turkey because it's leaner and the flavor of the seasoning is more noticeable)
~1 packet taco seasoning
~Toasted taco shells (or, if you're just doing taco salad, you can use tortilla chips)
~1 can diced tomatoes and chiles (the spicier, the better)
~Shredded cheese
~Shredded lettuce (I often go without this, as I tend not to buy fresh vegetables, since they spoil before I use them)

Brown the ground turkey with the tomatoes and chiles. Drain the mixture when it's done cooking, and stir in the taco seasoning. Melt in the cheese.

And... that's all there really is to it. Portion the mixture in the taco shells and top with lettuce, and add salsa if you want it.

For taco salad, crush the shells in a bowl or plate, or use tortilla chips.

~1 lb. ground turkey
~2 cans of red kidney beans or Mexican beans
~Chili seasoning, at least four tablespoons, more or less to taste
~1/3 cup of preserved jalapenos or fresh, sliced jalapenos
~1 can of diced tomatoes and chili

I have two variants for cooking the ground turkey. One is to put the uncooked meat in a crock pot with all other ingredients and enough water to make sure it doesn't burn and let it cook and and stew with the other ingredients. This should only be done if the chili is being made a couple days ahead of time, so no bacteria from the meat survives. The other is to brown the meat conventionally, and then putting all the ingredients in a crock pot.

Yeah... You see, I'm fond of having my chili Frito-pie style, so I came up with baking it so the chili wouldn't make the corn chips soggy. What you do is mix all ingredients in a baking pan (you can do the uncooked ground turkey variation here, but it needs to be thawed), and baking it at 400 degrees for two hours, stirring it occasionally, so the beans don't burn. Make sure the beans and meat are fully cooked to avoid... gastrovascular disasters. :D

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hi Diddle-Lee-Dee...

So, I head out to go to work, and it's raining. Raining hard. So, out comes the umbrella. I wait for the bus, and it keeps raining... HARDER. The bus is late, and the wind is blowing, and suddenly, my umbrella bends! No, not the top part (though that did happen), but the shaft! I manage to straighten it, but now it's pretty short... Time for a new one? I think so...

Finally, the bus arrives, and I'm surprised to see that the driver is the only one in the bus. I pay my fare and get in. At Dillon's supermarket, where this driver usually stops to use the restroom, he gets off and turns to me and says, "There's a Tornado Warning, we gotta get out of the bus."

So, we go into Dillon's. While I'm there, I figure, "Might as well buy some cat food," so I do.

While we're waiting for the storm to blow over, they blare the radio announcements over the intercom, customers and employees gathering at the front.

I almost thought, "It's the end of the world out there."

I don't know why I've been obsessing about the end of the world recently...

The driver turns to me and says, "You didn't really want to go to work today, did you?"

"Are you kidding?" I reply, "No one wants to go to work."

After about twenty minutes, they declare it's safe for us to go. The bus driver and I get back on the bus, and he turns up the street, since it'd be making the bus run REALLY late if he resumed the usual route, and he even dropped me off closer to work that the stop I usually get off at. (I swear, that guy is cool.)

When I got off work (busy!), it was bright and sunny out... Yay... And when I got home, I found my copy of the Platinum Edition of Pinocchio had arrived (along with a certain book by a certain author who I'd didn't think I'd be reading from so soon). Right now, it's sitting with another DVD I'd bought, Iron Man. So, there's a movie about a wooden boy and a man who dresses in metal... Huh...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Being Human

I guess I gotta give a shout-out to my Glasgow friend (or is the proper term Glaswegian? Ach, no one cares) Al Cook. I've done a lot of linkage to his blog and other sites he's on and talked about him a lot on my Oz blog, but not so much here. Yeah, he recommended some books I've read, and he's commented on here, but that's it.

Anyways, this blog entry he wrote led me to look up the show he was talking about. (Go read it...)

This show isn't aired anywhere in the US, but I managed to get hold of it by some uncommon means. (I can do R2 DVDs.)

I'm not going to make this a long, indepth review, but this is what I will say: this is one of the freshest ideas I've seen for a TV series in a long time and I found myself enjoying it immensely!

I don't think it could be aired in the US, as each episode was about 56 minutes long. In the US, shows that run for an hour are actually about 40-42 minutes long, maybe 45. In addition, they use some language and visuals that the freakin' FCC (Ha ha! Family Guy reference!) wouldn't approve of. (Or maybe, I don't know how cable's content rules are.)

Maybe some things are better left in the UK... But we don't get stuff like that in the US!

EDIT: Turns out BBC America is getting this, so I've decided to get cable.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Clockwork Orange

Well, this didn't raise any eyebrows or get any weird remarks. I guess my co-workers just take it for granted now that I read weird books.

Well, actually, A Clockwork Orange isn't so weird, though the edition I bought does have a weird cover. This is one book you've probably heard of, and maybe you've seen the (awesome) Stanley Kubrick movie adaptation.

The book is set in the future, just when is uncertain. (Due to a model of car that is mentioned, some set it in the late 1990's.) It's suggested early on in the book that the human race now also inhabits the moon. Thankfully, the events of the story stay on Earth.

The story is told in the first person by the main character, Alex. We open with him and his "droogs" (they are a gang) drinking drugged milk, then going out to commit random acts of violence, including the rape of a woman in her own home in front of her husband.

The story then contrasts Alex's night life with his life by day: he skips school by feigning illness (this is followed with a visit from Alex's parole officer), then he goes to pick up a music album at a store, and in the process, meets two young girls who he takes home and has his way with.

The next part of the book makes an interesting point. Alex's droogs make his position in the gang feel threatened, so he gets back at them, doing a bit an act of violence to prove he is the Alpha Male of the group. This behavior is typical of mankind, though, as we always try to prove ourselves the master.

Alex then goes to an old lady's house to burgle it, when he is met by the lady. When he tries to escape her, he accidentally murders her. His droogs beat him and leave him for the police.

Alex goes to prison and stays there for two of his fourteen years. He confides in the prison chaplain, who is something of a moral compass for Alex. Rather than forcing religion on Alex (though he does call Alex a brother in J.C.), he serves as a moral compass, saying that reformation comes from a personal choice. He even warns Alex when he shows interest in the Ludovico Technique that when a man is deprived of the choice to do good or evil, he is no longer a man.

Alex gets to be the first person to undergo the Ludovico Technique for reforming criminals. Being properly nourished, the subject is strapped to a chair and their eyes are held open and they are forced to watch films of violence until they are repulsed by the thought of it.

This is what happens to Alex, and in about two weeks, he is declared reformed and ready to re-enter society. In a test, he buckles instantly to a bully, and is repulsed at his urges when a ... beautiful woman comes onstage.

So, Alex goes back to his parents, who were uninformed of his arrival. He discovers that all of his belongings were seized by the police to be sold to care for Alex's victim's cats. Even worse, a lodger now has Alex's room, and he claims he's more like a son to Alex's parents than Alex was. Unable to stand up for himself, Alex leaves.

That really struck me as a low blow for the character. Alex was thinking his parents would be surprised to see him return and pleased at his reformation, but instead, he just gets turned out onto the street. And here we find a surprise: you care about what happens to Alex now. Sure, just a matter of pages ago, you were shocked at his violence and despised just about every action, and now you feel bad for him. Well, hold on, kids, it gets worse.

Alex discovers his once-favorite classical music sickens him (the music in the films he watched is now being recognized as torture by his psyche), and he briefly considers suicide, before realizing that he probably couldn't do it, since the very thought of violence sickens him.

He goes to a library, but a librarian who he and his droogs had attacked early in the book recognizes him, and he and other old men beat Alex, until they are stopped by the police, who turn out to be Alex's former droog Dim and his former rival Billyboy. They also beat him and leave him on his own.

Alex manages to find refuge with a writer named Mr. Alexander, who turns out to be the husband of the woman that Alex and the droogs raped early on. He reveals that she died, and calls her and Alex victims of the modern age.

Alex tries to avoid letting Mr. Alexander discover what he did in the past, but he accidentally drops clues. Mr. Alexander begins to piece it together when a couple of reporters arrive and interview Alex. They take him to a room in a house and lock him in, and then blare classical music, eventually forcing Alex to jump.

He awakes in a hospital, where not only is he recovering from the injuries of his fall, but they are also reversing the effects of the Ludovico Technique. His parents invite him to stay with them again, as their boarder has left. The minister deals with Alex to avoid bad publicity by offering him a cushy job with a good salary.

Now, in early American editions, this is about where the novel ends, with Alex being practically restored to status quo, and as the movie was based on an American edition, that is where it also ended. But there was an additional chapter in all other countries, which is now in American editions as well. I, of course, went for one of these later editions.

The last chapter opens like the first, Alex with a new gang of droogs, but now, acts of violence fail to interest Alex. He runs into his old friend Pete, who has settled down and gotten married. Alex finds this peaceful life appealing, and decides to pursue it, even though, if he has children, they could make all the mistakes he made.

I found the last chapter to be the logical conclusion, as I couldn't really accept that Alex would just go back to his old life with no effects after everything he'd been through. After all, by reversing the effects of the Ludovico Technique, Alex now has the power to choose again, which brings us to the meaning of the title. Without that last chapter, the ending is open, where Alex could go one way or another with his life. Thus, the last chapter could be viewed as redundant.

Now to write what the heck the title means. "Clockwork" of course, suggests machinery, which is usually set to work one way. "Orange," in the title, is a metaphor for human beings, quoting the author: "an organism lovely with colour and juice." So, the title is talking about a human being set to do only one thing, deprived of choice. So, that's why the weird title.

The book uses slang called "Nadsat," which is loosely based on Russian words. This was done to prevent dating the book. It's a little difficult at first to catch on to, but it grows on the reader.

The movie was a very faithful adaptation, with some forgivable (for the casual viewer, anyways) changes. One subtle addition made was how obsessed with sex this future world has become, seen in the erotic art that is practically everywhere. In a society such as this, sexual crimes such as rape are inevitable. The movie even has Alex killing the old woman (who isn't so old) with a giant porcelain phallus, practically the ultimate way of saying "I am the Man!" (One last note on the movie, Malcolm McDowell was awesome as Alex.)

The thing I was disturbed about while reading the book is that I can see our society headed the way Burgess predicted it. Just this last week I read this in Dear Abby column:
Recently, I picked up the newspaper, glanced at the front page and an article caught my eye. It was about a disabled man who had been kidnapped and taken to an apartment where he was beaten. It was one of the most disgusting this I have ever read.

Not long after that, I saw another article. This time it was about a mentally challenged man who was lured from his bus stop to a deserted street, then beaten and robbed. Knowing these things happen makes me sad, angry and turns my stomach.
There is hope however. That was sent in by a 13-year old girl, asking how she could help.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu

Okay, people asked me what I thought of the swine flu. Well, here's what I've got to say:

The media has blown it all out of proportion. It's an illness, and thanks for letting us know, but would you mind telling people that, as with most viruses or sicknesses, if treated soon, you can recover. And likely, you will. This is flu, not cancer or AIDS!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Return of the Horror

Well, I've decided that in October, I will post more stories, but I won't be limiting them to the Ozarks, and get. Maybe in time, I should collect them and put them in a book...

The first is going to be my own retelling of the Mexican legend of La Llorona. Of course, since there'll be months between now and then, you could look it up and read it for yourself, but it wouldn't be my version...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Genevieve

Today, my younger sister Genevieve (or, as we commonly call her, Gen), is sixteen. We had originally planned to go to Lambert's Cafe in Ozark (though I've no idea how some of us would have afforded it), but we had a change of plans...

Y'see, my Mom's been living away from my Dad recently, not because they're divorced or separated or anything, but because he could only find work in Springfield, while she stayed at her late parents' home to take care of their estate, which, from what we heard, is almost done with. With Mom is Gen, my little brother Arthur, and my baby brother Daniel, who is a Type 1 diabetic, meaning insulin shots and all.

From what I gather, Daniel's doctor has been concerned about his frequent high blood sugar levels (Mom accounts this to Daniel sneaking things he shouldn't, and well-meaning but ill-advised friends giving him things), and called the Department of Family Services on Mom, and last Friday, they took him away.

The court hearing is tomorrow. Mom wants to persuade the court to let Daniel stay with some friends of theirs, or my oldest brother Aaron and his wife Jessica. (However, Aaron and Jessica have their own concerns with court, as their hearings for custody of Aaron's daughter Amber are still ongoing, though she does currently stay with them.) She oddly snubbed Audrey and Shaun, who would have no problem with taking care of him. (No, wait, for her, that's not odd.)

We had a somber celebration at Audrey and Shaun's, the first time the entire family (save Daniel) has gathered there, on Saturday night.

Gen's presents weren't too much to speak of. Drew gave her a portable DVD player, which had a bit of an odd history behind it. (Long story short, Gen should have had it almost a year ago.) Mom gave her an exercise set with a tape (yes, tape, shows how old the set was). Gen commented, "Are you saying I'm fat? I'm insulted!" Another gift from mom was a hair removal kit. She really liked the present that Shaun, Audrey and I went in on together: an iPod Nano, pre-loaded with music. (Aaron and Jessica were a little late on their gifts, but promised to give her some accessories, like a power adapter.)

*Sigh.* Why can't we have a normal family?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

La Chambre de l'acide

I finished reading another Irvine Welsh book today, The Acid House.

This book is different from the other books I've read by him. Instead of a novel, it's a collection of short stories and a novella called A Smart Cunt. (This is not talking about female genitalia. This term shows up often in Welsh, look it up!)

Welsh gets to explore many types of storytelling here. From fantasies that involve God turning an angry, down-on-his-luck young man into a bluebottle housefly, science fiction about a woman keeping her husband's head alive in cryogenic fluid while she has an affair, twisted tales like a man having an affair to spite someone, only to discover the woman was a man who'd had a sex change, to more ordinary tales.

The stories range from two pages to quite a few. (One four-page story is actually four one-page stories about sexual frustration.)

One I found myself particularly enjoyable was called Disnae Matter. It was only two pages and was written in Welsh's standard spelling of the Edinburgh dialect. I read it aloud after getting off of work (with no audience). It told the story of a man and his wife and child going to Disney World in Florida, and how he almost made an employee (possibly dressed as Winnie-the-Pooh) lose his job.

Welsh tends to use many recurring themes. You can sympathize with and sometimes relate to his characters, but they always have something about them you wouldn't agree with. Many lead characters are drug addicts (usually heroin or cocaine). And his stories take place in the same fictional version of Edinburgh. Characters from one book appear in another. Spud from Trainspotting is in A Smart Cunt. This happens in his other books, too.

Ah, well. This was another fun one, and I got some nice reactions from co-workers. A manager asked to see what I was reading, and I let her look at it. She opened it to a sexual-ish scene, and exclaimed, "Jared! You're reading PORN!"

Well, that's that, then. Currently, I've no other Irvine Welsh books on my reading list... Open to suggestions here, folks.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


My life feels a little boring right now.

I'm working on a list of twenty movies that I find to be awesome. So far, I've only seven movies. Want to suggest anything? Go ahead. Surprisingly, there are no Oz movies, no superhero movies, and no Narnia or Lord of the Rings on it. (Not yet.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reddin' and Viddin'

So, my dad came over today because he needed help setting up an eBay account, and as I'd started one for him sometime back (YEARS ago... back when I'd only get online at the old Main Library, when it was that, which tells you how long ago it was, if you know anything of the libraries in Springfield*), he thought I could be of help.

*Seeing as most of you wouldn't, I'll explain. The Main Library was the closest library from the Square for a good long time. Then, the Library Center opened on the outskirts of the south side of town, and they moved their "main" items there. This was about 2001. The old Main Library became the Midtown Carnegie Library. To add to the run-around, they opened a new library last year right on the square itself. Never been to it. That's what you'll find in Springfield, Missouri, folks, libraries, colleges, churches, factories, and a horrible job market.

So, apparently, when I'd tried to register an account, I made the account name the exact same as dad's e-mail, and all. I guess this messed up somehow, thus making the account useless and Dad's e-mail unable to be used on eBay.

He spent a good hour trying to work something out, even calling them up and talking to them. Then, he remembers he wanted to get the music off a DVD, and I had to do that. I get it off the DVD and onto an mp3 file on his flash drive, and then he missed the bus. As he had to wait around about another half-hour, he got a bit of a shock, seeing A Clockwork Orange on my coffee table, which needs to be cleaned off very badly.

"What's with this?" he asked. "I didn't think this would be your type of book."

"I'm not reading it," I replied. "It's on my list, though."

It's amusing to me how little my family knows me anymore. Guess my deciding last year to try new things is a turn they didn't expect. Well, I couldn't just read L. Frank Baum books and watch Oz movies all my life. Not that I don't love those, but staying in one spot is not good.

Meanwhile, on my non-Oz YouTube channel, I've tried to make sure I post one video a week. Here's the two latest:

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Ah, yes, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, and some bunny who wants our souls...

But... I was almost tempted not to venture out to church today. It was RAINING out. RAINING on Easter Sunday! And pretty hard, too. I usually walk to church Sunday morning. I tried calling some family to get a ride, but didn't get through, so I threw on my coat and started walking. Didn't get further than a block when some friends of mine picked me up, an offer I was very glad of.

My mom and my younger siblings were in town, and came to church also. Audrey was also there, and we planned to go over to my brother Aaron's place afterward to celebrate Easter and his birthday, which had been a few days before.

The service, not too bad. The youth group opened with a drama and did a nice performance. My only problem with it was that I'd seen it twice before. In between worship and the sermon, the pastor excused the children for Children's church, and stressed that they would be showing clips from The Passion of the Christ, and it might be rather graphic. Well, it was not graphic, nor was the video they made edited together very well. They would have done better to contact me or Audrey, as both she and I edit lots of videos. The nice effect to it was that they had done a music video, but the music was performed live. My only problem there was that Jodi Felton, great person as she is, was not the best person to sing the song they chose. (Codutti, where are you when we need you?) The dance team also did a dance/drama/human video, which was well-done. The sermon itself was a bit more of your standard type, as Easter is a day when we expect a lot of guests, including people who don't normally attend church.

Now, AFTER the service and big altar call, we gathered together to decide who was riding with who. Arthur (my second youngest brother) asked if his friend Luke could come, and Mom said it was all right with her.

First element of disaster. Luke is the most annoying, obnoxious, and loud kid we know who is over the age of thirteen. Mom was not hosting this get-together, but rather Jessica, Aaron's wife, who does not exactly care for Luke's manner.

So, Luke and Arthur disappeared somewhere. I assumed they went out to Mom's van to ride with them. I went with Audrey, my other younger sister Genevieve, and their friend Sacha to the truck Audrey was borrowing from Aaron for the day, and Audrey says, "Mom doesn't know that they likely won't be home from visiting Jessica's parents until about 2." (At this time, it was about 12:30.)

Audrey then finds two index cards in her jacket from Mom, trying to convince Audrey to leave her fiance Shaun for a life free of "sexual immorality" and full of "chastity." (A bit late for that, now...) Audrey decided that we'd go visit Shaun at his work (manager at a gas station) and she'd let him look these over.

Shaun is so cool, he hooked us up with free fountain drinks! Of course, we all laughed over Mom's latest attempt to get Audrey and Shaun apart.

The reason is that Mom's not exactly one to talk about sexual purity before marriage. Aaron was born four months after my parents had been married, and she'd also divorced before then, so it's not like she picked my dad correctly right off.

Well, after we leave Shaun to get back to work, Audrey sees that she has two missed calls from Aaron and Jessica. She calls them back to discover that the burglar alarm in their house had gone off, and while Aaron was hurrying over to see what was going on (and of course, the police were on their way, as the alarm made their insurance company call a list of people to discover if it's a false alarm, then call the police), and if Audrey could get there first, if she could discover what was going on.

We'd thought maybe Mom, Dad, and the kids were already over and tried to get in (not realizing that they didn't have a key, and with no vehicles in the driveway, no one was obviously home) and had set off the alarm.

We got there the same time as the first police car. They told Audrey that as she was not the home owner, to not go near the house. Very shortly, Aaron arrived, and they went around to the back yard, where they discovered the culprits: Arthur and Luke.

Apparently, Arthur and Luke had gotten a ride from Luke's parents who had just dropped them off, despite the fact that no one was obviously home.

As Aaron identified them as his brother and a friend, no one was arrested, but we put up with over an hour of Luke at Audrey and Shaun's place before Luke's father arrived to pick him up. (Aaron and Jessica did not want him over, period.) Jessica came over to wait for Luke's father with us, and had some words with him.

... Good times.

We had some scanty leftovers for dinner, and a little after three o'clock, Shaun arrived from work. We had cake and ice cream (and a singing of "Happy Birthday," where just about everyone sang a different version, so it was a very odd sounding song, but then, it was a belated celebration), then Dad had to leave for work, and Shaun offered to take him. Almost immediately after, Mom decided to take her leave.

That left Aaron, Jessica, Drew, Audrey, Sacha, Amber, and myself, and Shaun returned eventually.

The rest of the night was spent playing Monopoly and pizza, before Audrey and Shaun took Drew, Sacha, and myself home.

Happy holiday!

And it's raining again...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

More Irvine Welsh

I finished reading Irvine Welsh's Filth today. It was a bit of a different tale than Trainspotting and Porno. Instead of junkies, criminals, or pornographers, the book follows a police man, Detective Bruce Robertson.

Now, you would think that, "Great, he's got a positive lead character this time," but oh, no. Welsh gives us the most corrupt cop in the Edinburgh police force. Bruce is divorced, addicted to cocaine, a sexual pervert, and up for promotion. Oh, and early on, he eats an underdone meat pie that leaves him with a tapeworm that learns about him as it eats away on the inside of him. Only in Welsh...

As disgusting as the worm is, it makes for an interesting character. It is sentient, though realistically focused on eating, but the way it makes it's thoughts read is a curious device. It's hard to explain, but it's words appear over Bruce's. Bruce eventually discovers the worm's presence, and tries to rid himself of it, or them, rather, as the worm has multiplied. Because the worm has begun to depend on this companionship, it becomes spiteful to Bruce, and digs up his worst memories to feed back to him.

As for Bruce, he schemes for the upcoming promotion to Inspector, including ruining any chances his fellow detectives have. Bruce finds faults in all of them, forgetting that worse faults lie within himself. This occurs many times in the book: Bruce feels the faults of others somehow justify his own.

Some of most fun I had while reading this book was the reactions from co-workers to it.

"Filth? What is that? Some kind of porno book?"
"A corrupt cop? Does he like nasty, wild, freaky sex?" (My answer, "Yes, actually.")
"Where do you find these books?"

And the oddest I got today as I was reading at a bus stop, some weird tattooed guy passed, glanced, and murmured, "What book is that oh that book I read that book it's a good book."

... Okay ...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Believing In The Unseen

Let's face it, lots of people believe in things that are unseen, or things that aren't seen often, or some only claim to have seen. I believe in God, but unlike some, I realize that believing there's a God requires believing that there are things that exist that are beyond our comprehension. As such, I can't bring myself to completely rule out that ghosts exist (my blogs from last October show that I'm definitely not going to claim they don't exist), nor monsters. As such, I get fascinated by such things. Maybe more than I should...


Posted this on my sister's Facebook:
1, 2, I got money for you...
3, 4, can't go to your door.
5, 6, something rhymes with... Uh...
7, 8, bought a gift, card, and bag for Aaron, great.
9, 10, I'm never doing THIS again...

(The money? Chipping in for an iPod Nano for my youngest sister's birthday.)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Star Wars

"I didn't like 'King Kong,' it was too long."
"Well, it was made in the 1930's..."
"No, I'm talking about the Peter Jackson remake. I haven't seen the original."
"What? How can you not have seen that?"
"I haven't seen the original Star Wars trilogy, either."
That almost killed him!

Yeah, I seriously lived for 22 years without watching those movies. As I've read books like The Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, and L. Frank Baum's Oz series, and seen many fantasy movies, lots of people assumed I'd seen the "grandaddy of them all," George Lucas' juggernaut franchise Star Wars.

Okay, I actually did once see the very end of Return of the Jedi on TV once, but I mean the very end, where Luke sees the ghosts of Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Yoda, and one time, we tuned into seeing Darth Vader's ship going awry at the end of Star Wars (or A New Hope, or whatever you call it), but I'd never watched the movies all the way through.

It didn't help in 1999 when I went to a movie night event we had in Youth Group, and they popped in a VHS of The Phantom Menace. I didn't have such a good head for catching onto things as I do now, but the movie made no sense to me whatsoever. Even without having seen the earlier movies, I already knew that the little kid would be Darth Vader in the later movies, and that Luke guy would be his son. (I later found out Leia was his sister when I was watching an episode of The O.C..)

So, last year, in July, I decided to finally rent the original trilogy on Netflix, just so I could say I'd seen it. I managed to rent the original, unaltered versions. I can understand extended and director's cuts, but I got confused as to the point of re-doing special effects. No one has bothered to re-do special effects in The Wizard of Oz (though that's a different matter entirely), Mary Poppins, Labyrinth, or The NeverEnding Story, and those movies have held up well.

I'll have to say, I did enjoy the first movie. I wasn't floored by it, but it was a fun adventure movie that told a nice story. I thought the creature effects held up well.

I got the other two movies and saw them in succession. These two lost a lot of the humor that was present in the first one, and started talking about the mysterious presence of "The Force." Having an imaginary world is good and all, but there are points where it feels like the filmmaker is forcing the audience to take it as seriously as he does.

One reason why I love The Chronicles of Narnia and the Oz books is because, even though there may be many details behind so many elements, the authors decided that it didn't need to be revealed for the readers to enjoy the stories. Baum dropped a few hints in his stories, as did Lewis, who also wrote a timeline that included events he didn't include in his books.

In Star Wars, all of this detail is forced on the viewer, and sadly, a lot of fiction has copied this style. For me, my interest was ebbing quickly. I finished the two movies, then sent them back to Netflix, and haven't watched them again since.

I still hear people talk about how great these movies are, and when they ask me about them, they're shocked to hear me say I'm not a fan. They were good movies that broke ground in special effects and cinematic storytelling, but that's all the praise I can really give them.

And seeing as it took nine months for me to finally write this tells you just how compelled I was to get my opinion out...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1st - Good Day For...

...The cheesiest videos ever. I put up two today:

That video was filmed by... this guy!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Night Dad Went To Jail

It was early in 2006 when I was getting off of work about 9PM. I usually got a ride home from Dad, but tonight, my brother Aaron, his wife Jessica, and my sister Audrey picked me up. They told me something was wrong at home: Dad was in jail.

Now, don't get my Dad wrong, he's a great guy. He loves his family and provides for them legally. The thing he'd gone to jail for was an unpaid traffic fine.

When we got home, my Mom was saying she wanted us to let Dad stay in jail, that it would "serve him right." She turned to me and said, "It's times like this I wish I had my own money!"

She stormed into her bedroom. Whether she was suggesting I give her more of my paycheck, or that Dad never gave her enough money, I don't know. I was already giving them $200 a month to stay in a room that didn't even have a door. (Seemed a bit fair, as we were renting the house.)

I turned to my brother, Drew, and said, "If you want your own money, you have to work for it." (I still stand by that statement.)

Eventually, Mom came out and said, "I don't want your father out of jail. You're the one who's working, we'll have to take your whole paycheck to care for the family."

I walked out to talk with Aaron, Jessica, and Audrey. We talked about the cost of bail for Dad, and decided we could pay it. For me, it would take almost all of the money I had left in the bank, but I thought, "Be broke now, or never have any extra money again." I helped them pay the bail.

You see, this is just an example of how weird my Mom is. This is one thing that made me decide it was time to move out just a few months later.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I just got an e-mail from a friend of mine. It was about a principal of a school announcing of the PA system that they can't respect Christianity in public schools, then mentions all the other things they can accept, including sexual innuendo.

It would be inspiring and I might have even posted it here, if I knew it was true. You could write any bit of this, but if it's not true, it kind of loses potency.

And on this subject, why are Christian movies, except for Bible-based ones, so horribly cliche? I watched the movie Fireproof not too long ago, and... Nice story, but it was burdened with all these preachy cliches. One I have the biggest problem with is the depiction of computers and the internet. Because if there's mention of the internet, someone MUST be looking up pornography.

I wish someone would do a live-action movie version of Adventures in Odyssey or something like it. I mean, yes, it's Christian, points out lessons (sometimes in hilarious ways), discusses theology, but manages not to sound too preachy.

Ah, well...