Dozer Online


Tech stuff: Mini-cell

After temporarily losing track of my cell phone for the millionth time last night, I was intrigued by an upcoming disposable cell phone.

Still, this item has major drawbacks. Long distance calls incur additional toll charges. Plus, a disposable cell phone market could balloon an already bloated phone number assignment system. Imagine entering a new area code every few blocks.

Plus, this promises to be a nightmare for law enforcement surveillence efforts.

Funny stuff: Heroes parody

If you like Marvel Comics and/or Kevin Smith movies, check out this Flash animation movie.

Thanks to John for pointing this out to me...


Dozer stuff: Heat nixes Blackboard Jungle

My friend Randy had organized a potluck dinner and viewing of the movie Blackboard Jungle last night at the Screen on the Green outdoor festival.

But the heat index has been consistently topping 100 degrees. So it was decided that we would abandon the screening and move the potluck to a nice, air-conditioned apartment.

Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances kept Randy away. Still, everyone was fun and hospitable, even though I knew only a few of the other potluckers peripherally from other events that Randy put together.

I also had my first taste of the new Captain Morgan Gold drink. This bottled malt is supposed to taste like a rum and Coke. The actual flavor hovers somewhere between black licorice and McDonald's syrup.

Net stuff: Believe in the monkey

I've written about the almighty Anaheim Angels Rally Monkey; now you can download Rally Monkey wallpaper.

Dozer stuff: Stairway to home

My apartment complex has hit a new low in equipment maintenance: only one out of three elevators is currently working.

This in an 18-story tall high-rise.

Games stuff: Coolest dad ever

As a playhouse for his children, a guy built a fort in the shape of a giant robot suit.

Net stuff: Googling

The New York Times reported on the ability to
quickly track down personal information through the Google search engine.

It seems that Googling is being recognized as the 21st century equivalent of peeking into someone's medicine cabinet. Except now you don't have to be invited into someone's house to check out a person.

On this topic, author David Brin says, "The net result is going to be a return to the village, where everyone knew everyone else."

According to the article, people with common names are harder to single out in Google search results than people with more unique names.

However, I've found that even Joe Smith can be pinpointed pretty easily if a search is conducted for his e-mail address rather than his name.

Anyway, I was inspired by this article to conduct a Google search for "Michael Mendoza." It listed pages for an author and rodeo cowboy, a murder convict, a UCLA medical student, and others.

So far, I haven't been confused for any of these alternate Dozers.

Dozer Online ranked #7 on the search, which ratchets up my Google visibility considerably. Previous searches didn't score a direct hit on me until the fourth page of results.

I write for public consumption on this site, so hopefully visibility won't be a problem.

For example, I share my weight loss progress for accountability and motivation. But I state relative numbers (how many pounds lost, how many left to go) rather than give away absolute statistics.

Anyway, one of my motivations for maintaining this Web site is to provide a quick snapshot of who I am to the general public. Overall, I figure that the benefit of sharing thoughts with others still outweighs the potential for unwanted attention.

Radio stuff: Congress to the rescue for net radio

The Register reports that a bipartisan group of House Representatives have introduced the Internet Radio Fairness Act.

This bill would exempt Web music broadcasters who make less than $6 million in annual revenues from the extra, potentially bankrupting RIAA royalty fee (which isn't being imposed on US radio stations).

For reasons I've stated before, I really hope this gets passed.

Weird stuff: Saucers Over DC Pt. 2?

Almost fifty years after jets chased after unidentified objects over Washington DC, it's happening again.

Movie stuff: X-Men 2 news

MTV gives up some details on who will and won't be appearing in the X-Men movie sequel.


DC stuff: Blog Meetup

Voting has just opened for the location of the next Blog Meetup in Washington DC on August 24.

My personal choice is Ben's Chili Bowl. I've been intrigued since I'd walked by this place a few times, and it has a good reputation, although it is a smaller place.

The other alternatives are Mango Mike's in Alexandria and Yet Another Starbucks.

A minimum of four blogger RSVPs are required for a meetup to take place. Only Etoile and one other blogger confirmed last month; hopefully enough people will commit this time.


Writing stuff: Taking inventory of myself

To guide my fiction writing efforts, I'm following a program set forth in the book Writing the Short Story by Jack M. Bickham.

The first step in the program is to write onto notecards an inventory of personal feelings and beliefs. This inventory will indicate the topics that are likely to inspire rich, emotional stories.

So far, I've written note cards for matters about which I feel deeply, personal experiences that aroused strong emotions in me, and deeply held beliefs.

By the end of this program, I should have completed at least one short story.

Dozer stuff: Weigh-in, week 2

I lost another pound this past week, putting me at 11 pounds away from Weight Goal #1.

Photo stuff: Disneyland fireworks

I took this picture on July 4, while visiting friends in California. At this particular moment, we were on our way to Disneyland to watch their daily fireworks display. The traffic was so heavy that we would miss the pyrotechnics before finding a parking lot spot. So we pulled over on the side of the road and enjoyed the show.

Weird stuff: Caught in the headlights

Sky News reports that women in Columbia have been arrested for robbing men after knocking them out with their narcotic-laced breasts.

According to the article, "Bogota police said the narcotic caused the men to lose their will-power."

Isn't this how all breasts affect men, drugged or not?


Dozer stuff: Bangkok Blues

Since my plans to visit NYC were kiboshed, I decided to join the second gathering of the Washington Post Restaurants group last night.

We met at Bangkok Blues, a Thai restaurant and bar that features regular performers in blues and other musical genres.

Just like last time, the company was very enjoyable. A few people who were at the last meeting were there; I guess that makes us regulars, huh?

The food was very good also, but seating was cramped and the acoustics made it difficult to hear conversation at times.

The night was even educational, as I learned why you should never eat with your left hand in Thailand.

Dozer stuff: I need to clean up

I ordered delivery for dinner, and the delivery person was surprised by how messy my apartment was. He said it looked like my place had just been robbed.

The fact that he said this before I tipped him tells me shows that I really need to start picking up after myself more.

Dozer stuff: Whining car

Well, I'm still in the DC area.

I was supposed to drive up to Connecticut to visit my college friend Kiyoshi. But my car's been making funny noises, and it may not take the strain of a 4+ hour trip.

I tried driving up to Baltimore for the Artscape festival, but my Honda Accord started complaining even more loudly than normal.

So tomorrow I'll start car-shopping.


Dozer stuff: Alumni happy hour

I attended the monthly happy hour held by the University of Michigan's local alumni chapter.

We crammed into the bar area of the Old Ebbitt Grill, a DC power hangout.

I met a few more fellow alumni and pushed my upcoming alumni event, a gathering to see Viva Las Vegas at the Screen on the Green outdoor film festival.

When the happy hour ended, the remaining alumni ate dinner at the rooftop deck of the Hotel Washington. The food was very mediocre, but the view was excellent. You could literally peer into the windows of the White House.

Music stuff: New Tori CD

Singer-songwriting goddess Tori Amos has postponed her new CD until October 29.


Music stuff: Love unrealized

Stephen Macaulay, a contributor to the Glorious Noise music weblog, discussed memorable lines in songs about unfulfilled romantic potential.

The unfulfilled romance song that comes to my mind is I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love with You by Tom Waits.

The song's viewpoint is from a guy at a bar who's trying to convince himself that he really isn't interested in the woman across the way. He repeats the refrain "I hope that I don't fall in love with you."

But really he's just afraid of the possibility of rejection, and he lets her slip away without even trying to meet her.

The song ends thusly:

"I search the place for your lost face, guess I'll have another round
And I think that I just fell in love with you."

This song gets me because I've done this more than once.

Science stuff: Our Earth as art

The Landsat-7 Earth as Art Gallery displays eyecatching images of the Earth.

Unfortunately, none of the images are configured to desktop wallpaper sizes. But it's still definitely worth a look.

Writing stuff: Child's play

I'm getting interested in writing young adult fiction.

This started as I began rekindling my own interest in reading (books, magazines, and newspapers) and writing (Dozer Online, other writing projects).

It would be nice to encourage the joy of reading to younger generations (This is probably the closest thing I have to paternal instincts).

USA Today reports on established authors in adult literature who are also getting into the younger lit market.

Some of the authors, including Michael Chabon, cited their own children as inspiration for this shift in audience.

Another benefit was the opportunity to indulge in fantastical stories that may not appeal as much to fussy grownups.

Of course, the desire to dine on the Harry Potter money trough is another incentive.

Weird stuff: Saucers over DC

These days, the Air Force watches the skies over DC for hijacked airliners.

Fifty years ago, they were chasing UFOs.

Media stuff: Meow TV

I'm a big cat fan, but this is ridiculous.


Dozer stuff: Car advice

I'm shopping for a new car. I'm aiming for a sticker price under $20000, ideally closer to $15000.

So far, I'm considering the Saturn and the Camry. Any advice on these or other options?

Science stuff: One is a genius, the other's insane

Reuters reports that scientists at Brigham and Women?s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston added a protein to mice that boosted their brain size.

The article's tag line was a little misleading: "Altering a single gene gives mice human-like brains."

No signs of heightened intelligence were actually noticed. However, the mouse brains were large enough to fold and wrinkle within the skull, just as human brains do.

It's in the surface area of the brain where the actually thinking takes place. So maybe it's only a matter of time before genetically enhanced mice are learning to read and starting up


Theater review: Independence

Last Thursday, I saw the play Independence at the District of Columbia Arts Center.

The story focuses on three sisters and their troubled relationship with their small-town mother. Oldest sister Kess returns from the big city after middle sister Jo is injured during an arguement with Mom. Meanwhile, youngest sister Sherry is desperate to leave town as soon as she graduates from high school.

The main challenge for the sisters is to balance their individual identities with their obligation to take care of their emotionally distressed mother.

Acting is decent all around. The story flows smoothly between humor and serious drama.

Plus, the conclusion is open-ended, which was fine by me. I like the opportunity to figure out how stories end, as long as the stories are substantial enough to be worth pondering afterwards.

The theater space was small and intimate. I sat next to one of the main entrypoints for the actors, and I worried about adding an unintentional pratfall to the show.

Above the performance area, you can peruse the gallery, which includes portraits of nuns in the media, shrines to Elvis and Sinatra, and a little of the homoerotic stuff.

Independence continues through August 3.

I attended the show as part of a dcplay group. The icebreaker question for the dcplay people was "What is on your monitor?"

Answers ranged from "My password to the Playboy Web site" to "Nothing, I'm a Buddhist and I try to limit my possessions."

I thought the question was about my screensaver. A picture of the Omega Nebula from was on my work computer at the time.

Where's Pavarotti?

Reuters reports that "Austria's prestigious Salzburg Festival said it was unable to cast any nudes for its opera.

"Three men turned up for the male role but were sent away immediately after not measuring up for the part."


The weight countdown begins...

I've started watching my weight again.

In the past week, I've lost 2 pounds; only 12 more pounds to go before I reach Weight Goal #1.

Another song parody

Here's a Flash animation parody of the "Superman (It's Not Easy)" song by Five for Fighting, featuring a certain king of the seven seas...

I found this link at the comic book news feature Newsarama.

Hooked on a feeling

From Julian Sanchez, here's a video of David Hasselhoff singing.

Which Pixies song am I?

I found out about this personality quiz from Reenhead.

Where is my Mind?
You're smart, shy, and often nonsensical. You have dreams of being famous, and you're quirky enough that you just might pull them off. Some would call you a genius, others would call you insane, but in reality you're pretty well-adjusted. Take a vacation once in a while- it'll help take your mind off of your troubles.
Which Pixies song are you?


Reen has set up a list of DC-area bloggers, organized by nearest Metro station.

So far, I'm the only blogger on the Green Line, north of Mt. Vernon.

Parody of Apple convert ads

Here's a parody of Apple's current ad campaign.

The parody shows the testimonial of a computer gamer who's switched to the Mac platform.


Probing the future

Reuters reports that "a blind German psychic claimed Tuesday he could read people's futures by feeling their naked buttocks."


The blogging queue is stacking up

I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do this weekend, as I'm visiting friends in southern Ohio. But when I get back, I'll have a lot to write about:

1) My review of American Gods, a modern fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman.

2) My review of Independence, a play at the District of Columbia Arts Center.

3) The aforementioned trip to Ohio.

Web radio on the ropes?

Newsweek has written about an impending new performers royalty fee for songs that threatens to bankrupt Web radio broadcasters.

This worries me, because the only radio I listen to are on-line alternative music stations: 3WK, which was mentioned in the Newsweek article; and my favorite, Cincinnati's WOXY.

I've spent plenty of money on CDs that I never would have heard of if I listened to only conventional broadcasters: the latest releases from Billy Bragg and the Blokes, the Sneaker Pimps, the Eels, Elvis Costello, and others.

Plenty of other music buyers are similarly informed through net radio, so it's really in the music industry's best interests to let these stations thrive.

Never mind the fact that on-air radio broadcasters don't have to deal with this new performers fee.

Radio operators have filed an appeal. Meanwhile, has more info on this issue and how to share your opinion on it with legislators.


Another letterboxing article

This one's from the Washington Post.

The article talks about the basics of letterboxing, and the author details her experience seeking letterboxes with her family.

Some of the more interesting details of the article included:

1) District Voyager, a hitchhiking letterbox created by the reporter; and

2) the concept of virtual letterboxing, which takes place completely on-line.


The snakefish returns...

There's been some more news on the dreaded snakefish:

First of all, the snakefish may have been reproducing.

Then, a fisher stepped forward and announced that he may have released the snakefish into the wild.

Finally, the beast has a voice...



During this past Saturday's hike, my co-worker Malcolm told me about the Thru-Hikers. These are people who walk all 2157 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, over several months.

A Thru-Hiker named Ryan compared the Thru-Hike to a Native American Vision Quest for enlightenment. "Upon gaining that knowledge," he wrote, "they return to the community stronger, gentler, and ready to face the tasks that will be presented to them throughout their life. They are no longer strangers to themselves and, thus, can begin to know others as deeply and meaningfully."

This description of Thru-Hiking reminds me of my motivation for moving to Washington DC. About 1.5 years ago, I left Cleveland OH, as well as the bulk of my close friends and family, for a job here.

While I cared for them all, and still do, I was in a distinct rut in Cleveland. Much of that was because of my job situation: a growing list of responsibilities, yet little in the way of promotion payment advances.

So I moved to the DC area and started working with NASA. Separated from the familiar, comfortable environment that I'd enjoyed for so many years, I started meeting new people and trying new things (hiking and storytelling are just two examples).

Somewhere in my time away from the hometown, I'll figure out the whole who-am-I-vision-quest thing. Then I'll be ready to return to Cleveland. Until then, on with the Thru-Hiking...

If it clucks like a computer...

Here's more computing news: A chemical engineer at the University of Delaware filed a patent on a composite material, made of chicken feathers and plant oils, that can carry electric signals through a microchip at twice the speed of silicon.


Supercomputing Speed Racers

Ever since I started working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, I've been paying more attention to the supercomputing field.

Wired magazine just released a news story on the development of supercomputers for climate modeling, which is my primary writing topic at work.

The story centers on the increasingly competitve drive by computing centers all over the world to build the fastest machine.

The current leader is the Earth Simulator, built by NEC in Japan. It has a peak computing rate of 35 trillion floating-point operations in a single second.


Week O' Hiking

As part of my renewed commitment to physical fitness, I've started hiking on a regular basis.

I just got back from a hike on the Appalachian Trail, in Shenandoah National Park. I went with a hiking group that was organized by the Washington DC chapter of the University of Michigan alumni organization.

We started at the Franklin Cliffs Overlook (elevation 3140 ft.), where the troops of Stonewall Jackson once marched, and hiked north.

A brief diversion from the Trail brought us to Hawksbill Mountain (elevation 4051 ft., the highest in the park). This location is being used by the Center for Convservation Biology to reintroduce peregrine falcons into the wild. The peak gave us a wonderful view of the valley between the Shenandoah and the Massanutten Mountains.

At the Timber Hollow Overlook, after five miles of hiking, I and a few other hikers called it a day. I had already given myself a various workout, and I was starting to slow down the more experienced hikers. Valerie and Lambert had parked their car there, and they were kind enough to drive me and fellow hiker Mike S. to our cars. The remaining troopers soldiered on for another seven miles.

To warm up for the Appalachian trip, I joined a excursion from the dchiking group this past Wednesday. We walked 3 miles along the Dumbarton Oak Trail in Rock Creek Park. It's not a tough walk; just a few minor inclines. The route also takes you past some nice Georgetown houses and a few embassies.

Bon appetit

Melinda, librarian extraordinaire, has referred me to more than I ever wanted to know about eating bugs.


Book review: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

During my recent trip to California, I finally finished reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon.

It's about two comic book creators in the Golden Age of the artform (1930s through 1950s), and how their personal adventures run parallel with the development of their greatest creation, The Escapist.

Chabon's descriptive style is sharp, the pace is exciting through most of the story, and the book is well worth a read.

My only two quibbles with the book: 1) When the focus shifts in the final third part from Kavalier and Clay's careers to their personal lives, it loses some of its energy; and 2) The story of Escapist writer Sammy Clay isn't nearly as interesting as his partner, the artist Joe Kavalier.

To finish, this quote really captures the spirit of this book:

The newspaper articles that Joe had read about the upcoming Senate investigation into comic books always cited "escapism" among the litany of injurious consequences of their reading, and dwelled on the pernicious effect, on young minds, of satisfying the desire to escape. As if there could be any more noble or necessary service in life. (Bold emphasis added by me)

Do I know where I'm going to?

I took the Find Your Spot questionnaire today.

This Web site asks you questions that define your ideal residence. Then it generates and e-mails a list of 24 cities that most closely match your answers.

My #1 selection was Norfolk, Virginia.

Baltimore, which is pretty close to my actual residence, was #3 on the list.

Oddly enough, Cincinnati ranked all the way up at #2. Also, California, where I've always wanted to live, appeared only at the bottom of the list. And Cleveland, where I grew up, didn't show up at all.

If you take the Find Your Spot quiz, you'll need to enter personal information. So take care to click the opt-out button.


Superhero movie news - here we go again...

Variety reports that director Wolfgang Petersen (The Perfect Storm) has signed on to direct a Superman Vs. Batman movie.

Which recurring Kevin Smith character am I?

This was a disappointing quiz result from SelectSmart, since I thought Holden was a dumb stiff.

Which Recurring Kevin Smith Character Are You? Take the test here

Take care David.


Silly animal threats

Geez, I go away for a week, and nature runs amok.

A memo was released at my workplace, warning us not to feed the geese that roam on the center grounds.

"Supplemental feeding results in overpopulation, which leads to overgrazing, an excess accumulation of droppings, attacks on humans, and fouling of their swimming area," the memo read.

But the animal hijinks don't stop there.

Apparently, some kind of freakish, land-walking fish is wrecking havoc on the Maryland ecosystem.

According to the Washington Post, "It grows to nearly three feet... eats whatever it wants... (and) it can crawl out of the water and wiggle across land, surviving up to four days." The horror!

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has actually posted WANTED posters urging the public to kill this beast.

If this seems goofy, it should. Even Maureen Dowd is having fun with this.

Still, I wonder who would win in a fight between Frankenfish and the Goddard Geese Army. Hmmm... I think I smell next summer's blockbuster hit. Now where did I put that phone number for Ted Nugent's agent...


I'm back home from my annual California vacation, and memories of my friend Bert's wedding are still fresh in mind.

He married his girlfriend So Hee (the name's Korean, if you're wondering) in the outdoor courtyard of the Marriott hotel in Newport Beach. Scenery included a gazebo covered in flowers (which was nice) and furry men in speedos at the nearby pool (which wasn't so nice).

Bert and So Hee made some nice personal mods to the standard wedding and reception party routine. First of all, they wrote their own vows. The ceremony was sweet, and one of the more touchingly emotional weddings that I've attended.

Second, rather than number the reception tables, each table was named after a classic romance movie. I sat at the Kiss Me Kate tables. Other tables were named after When Harry Met Sally, South Pacific, Casablanca, and Camelot (What, no Basic Instinct?)

Also, Bert and So Hee wouldn't kiss whenever glasses were clinked. Instead, someone had to step to a microphone and share a story about the couple. I shared my "I-smacked-Bert-in-the-face-with-a-ladder" story.

The reception DJ was well-stocked with 80s hits such as "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Bizarre Love Triangle." It was amusing, and a little sobering, to see that the younger guests were familiar with my adolescence soundtrack only as "the songs from The Wedding Singer."

This was almost as amusing as watching the kids try to anticipate the beat changes in "Should I Stay or Should I Go."

Singer-songwriter goddess Tori Amos' next album has been announced for a scheduled release on October 15.


I attended the wedding of my college friend Bert today.

We were roommates during our second year of college. One day, I accidentally tipped over my loft ladder. It smacked Bert right in the face while he was napping. He didn't even raise his voice in anger.

This is evidence that Bert has three virtues that are vital to a successful marriage: patience, understanding, and a high tolerance for physical pain. ;)


Here's an interesting article on urban exploration.

This article is about "'infiltrating' all kinds of places: Bridges, sewers, storm drains, construction sites, abandoned factories -- even missile silos."

I spent most of yesterday at a Boomers! amusement facility.

This place had miniature golf courses, a go-cart track, batting cages, Laser Tag, rock climbing, bumper boats, a skate park, an arcade, a motion simulator, and a McDonalds that serves chili cheese fries.

After indulging in many of these features, I tried the rock climbing wall. In my first attempt, I completely choked. Even though I was secured by a suspension harness, I started getting uncomfortable when I was barely ten feet off the ground. Rather than push the boundaries of my comfort zone, I dropped immediately.

I felt like a total wimp, so I tried again after a second round of miniature golf. I stuck it through and climbed 3/4 of the height before my arms tired out. Though my arms felt rubbery for awhile afterwards, at least this was a failed attempt that I could live with.


Here's my first response to the Friday Five questionnaires.

This a quick, fun exercise from the Smattering weblog that gives webloggers something to write about.

So here are my answers for the week:

1) Where am I right now? At the computer of my friend Jonathan in Cypress, California. I'm vacationing here, and will attend the wedding of our mutual friend Bert tomorrow.

2) What have I lost recently? I lost a fight to the aforementioned friend, Jonathan. We didn't physically fight; we fought through characters in the Neverwinter Nights fantasy roleplaying computer game.

After we successfully completed a game together, our characters took off their armor and beat each other up with torches. At 4 in the morning, this seemed very entertaining.

Even though my character could endure twice as much physical damage as Jonathan's character, he was much faster.

So my dwarf paladin suffered an ignomious death, covered in nothing but underwear and third-degree burns.

3) What was the first CD I ever purchased? The first CD I ever purchased was actually a cassette tape. I bought the Power Station debut with birthday money in 1985.

4) What is my favorite kind of writing pen? I'm a felt-tip man.

5) What is my favorite ice cream flavor? Orange sherbet.


While I'm on vacation, I've been taking lots of time to watch movies.

Minority Report was another one of those movies.

Like Spielberg's last film, Artificial Intelligence, Minority Report is set in the future.

Both movies are also centered on philosophical questions; AI questioned whether humanity could be mechanically duplicated, and Minority Report spins on a predetermination vs. free will axis.

The main difference between these two movies is that Minority Report remembers to be fun. While AI was ponderous and somber, the current film has action scenes that could have come from an Indiana Jones flick, as well as one particular visual gag that could have come from Evil Dead 2.

The movie was surprisingly pulp-like, combining the man-on-the-run aspects of film noir with bombastic pulp action (complete with a flying jet pack chase scene).

There are a few shaky plot contrivances, but nothing that can't be rationalized with a little belief suspension.

Also, the computer graphic rendering of the highway vehicles didn't seem at all realistic. But this is a minor quibble that doesn't detract from the story.

Overall, this is worth a matinee viewing.

This past Monday, I was at the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park.

Since it was a Monday, lines were much shorter than they are during the weekends. This made coaster riding a lot more convenient.

The best coaster was Goliath, which stretches up to 255 feet above ground.

The coaster that knocked me for a loop (no pun intended) was The Batman Ride. This was one of those rides where the cars dangle from the track, and your feet hang over open air.

These kinds of skilift-type rides always get me nauseous. And like a dope, I keep riding them.

One thing I didn't mention about my side-trip to northern California - my sister and I saw Lilo and Stitch.

This was funny, but also surprisingly serious for a Disney movie. Lilo has behavioral problems dealing with her peers, and social services threatens to take her away from her home. A few kids in the audience were crying at the sad parts of the movie.

But this is a Disney film, so I'm not spoiling anything by saying that the story ends happily, with a nice set-up for the inevitable Lilo and Stitch cartoon series.

When I wrote about the Letterboxing article, I forgot to mention the weblog where I first read about this: Behind the Mask. Thanks for the pointer, Donna.


Here's an interesting feature of San Francisco that I didn't get to check out when I was up there this past Sunday: Bay Area Paranormal Investigations (BAPI).

According to its Web site, BAPI "was created to Research, Investigate, Analyze and Document, anomalous events that fall outside the realm of conventional scientific research.

"Our primary areas of interest include Hauntings, Apparitions, Poltergeist Activity, and Psychic Phenomena."

Here's an article on BAPI in the SF Weekly.

I've been a busy boy.

I just finished a side-trip to northern California. There, I saw my sister Audrey, cousin Lisette, and her new husband Shane.

After three failed attempts on previous visits, I finally got into an Alcatraz tour. It seemed smaller on the inside than I imagined it to be.

Afterwards, we ate dinner at The Stinking Rose. It features "Californian-Italian cuisine with GARLIC as a major component in the dishes served. " This includes their ice cream. Their food was good, but the back section of the restaurant was cramped and stuffy.

Following dinner was a viewing of Beach Blanket Babylon. This 29-year-old musical was full of pop culture puns and outfits with really big hats. Sometimes, the humor was corny, but overall it was fun.

Finally, Audrey and I saw The Flip Side. This is a low-budget satire about a Filipino-American family that has been selected into the Sundance Film Festival.

The story begins as the main character returns home from his first year of college. He spends the summer trying to inspire cultural pride in his brother (who wants to be black) and his sister (who wants to be white).

It had several similarities with Kevin Smith's Clerks: black-and-white filming, outrageous dialogue, occasional gross-out gags, and less-than-stellar acting. I liked it.