Dozer Online

2002-10-31

Return of the Effervescent Avenger

Tonight, the Effervescent Avenger makes his crime-fighting debut in our nation's capitol. Let all criminals, terrorists, snipers, anthrax mailers, corrupt politicians, and telemarketers beware... for Bubbleman is back!

Yes, gentle readers, I'm returning to the Halloween costume concept that I used for a few years back when I was living in Cleveland OH - a superhero outfit made from bubblewrap.

The outfit covered my upper torso, and included shoulder pads and a chest emblem. Later, I included a cape that was attached by Velcro, so that I could replace it easily after all its bubbles have been popped).

Like any good superhero, Bubbleman has plenty of accessories: a hand-held bubble-blowing pistol (which actually doesn't work so well), a Fisher Price crank-operated bubble blower (for heavy-duty bubble generation), bubblechuks (toy nunchuks covered in bubblewrap), and a utility belt holding spare containers of bubble fluid and packages of bubblegum.

The Bubbleman has its drawbacks and advantages. It gets sweaty, as bubblewrap insulates body heat pretty efficiently. On the other hand, it's a good way to get cute girls to put their hands on you - if only to pop your bubbles.

I'll be attending two costume parties in Virginia tonight. One of the DC NaNoWriMo participants is having a party too, but unfortunately I won't be able to attend that one.

This should be a good night...


Taking requests for National Novel Writing Month

One of the participants in NaNoWriMo is taking requests for plot elements up until nearly the end of November.

From Neonepiphany's Web site: Post some interesting ideas as comments to this entry and I'll use them! All of them. That's right, every single plot element, character and/or setting suggested by your followups will find their way into my novel.

The story will be "a faithfully autobiographical tale subtitled... The Adventures of Selva Morales, International Super Spy."

I submitted a plot element that I stole from Liv: The Rally Monkey Saves Christmas.


2002-10-30

The perils of late government paperwork

I have a bad habit of never keeping up with government paperwork in a timely fashion.

Over a month after getting a new car (actually, it's used, but it's new to me), I finally returned the tags to my previous car. Fortunately, I turned the tags in time to get a refund for the extra paid year of registration.

Unfortunately, in my two years of residence in Maryland, it never occurred to me to file a voter registration form. Maybe in the deep recesses of my mind, I thought that process would be automatically attached to getting a Maryland driver's license, my change-of-address form, or any of the other moving-related paperwork that I actually did file.

But I was wrong. So now I can't vote in the upcoming mid-term election, on which the oh-so-delicate balance between Democrats and Republicans rests.

My last hope is to manage a last-minute registration. This is unlikely, since Maryland law prohibits voter registration during the last 21 days before an election.

I may need to make last-minute political donations instead to ease my civic guilt.



2002-10-29

Things I learned at the DC NaNoWriMo get-together

Yesterday, I met other people in the DC area who are participating in National Novel Writing Month.

We gathered at the Spy City Café to share story ideas, writing tips, and anxieties over the prospect of producing 50,000 words in a single month.

It was nice to finally be able to put faces to some of the names and profile tags that I’ve seen on the NaNoWriMo forums.

Over the night, I picked up a few insights on pacing the novel writing:

  • The first 10,000 words will be relatively easy, as a writer will push out this verbiage just to set up the characters and the setting.

  • The toughest part will follow immediately afterwards, as a writer runs out of setup and now needs to actually put the established characters through an actual plot.

  • Rise offered a good solution to propel the story. Spend the first 10,000 words making the characters as likable as possible. Then, hit them with the worst situations that could possibly occur for them.


  • I also learned some easy ways to boost word count through dialogue:

  • Have characters swear a lot. Why write “What do you mean?” when you can write “What the fucking hell do you mean, you dipshit?” The dialogue is now over twice as long.

  • Have characters argue a lot. They can pad out a scene as they shout names at one another.

  • Create a character that speaks a different language than the other characters. Said character voices dialogue in his native tongue, and his translator translates. Dialogue is doubled.


  • All in all, it was a productive evening. I even generated a few good ideas on the way there.

    You can read another account of the evening here.


    2002-10-28

    National Novel Writing Month

    It's time to stop aspiring and start writing.

    Actually, I already do plenty of writing, between work and blogging.

    But I don't write fiction much, even though I enjoy the activity. My big problem is that I worry too much about my words perfect on the first draft.

    A better strategy would be to just commit words to paper (or Word file) and worry about perfection later.

    This is the philosophy behind National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

    The goal of the NaNoWriMo event is to write 50,000 words (roughly 175 pages) of a novel in the month of November. It doesn’t have to be finished, but all content must be part of a single story.

    Quantity over quality is the name of the game. From the NaNoWriMo Web site:
    Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

    In order to finish before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I will need to produce an average of 2,000 words a day. The workload is daunting, and blogging may be spotty as I devote much of my free time to NaNoWriMo.

    And even if my novel is at best passably mediocre, there’s bound to be some nuggets of goodness adrift in 50,000 words: A clever turn of phrase here, a colorful description of a character there.

    In effect, NaNoWriMo is an exercise in creative strip-mining, digging up a field of unexamined output in hopes of something that I’d want to actually present for publication.

    Perhaps a better analogy would be to call it a literary enema.


    Speculation on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    On the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the formerly soulless vampire Spike has recently regained a soul.

    The blog Aries Rising has an interesting theory on where the soul came from.


    Life as a Harry Potter title

    Wading in the Velvet Sea has a clever post in which the blogger recounts his life using the titling conventions of the Harry Potter novels.

    My favorite is “Ryan McGee and the Desperate Calls to Find Out Where He Left His Pants Last Night”


    NPR on D&D

    The National Public Radio show All Things Considered ran a 7-minute feature on the 30th birthday of my big childhood influences, the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons.

    Here's a Realaudio file of the piece.


    2002-10-27

    Weekend in Ann Arbor MI

    I spent the past weekend in Ann Arbor, MI for homecoming weekend at the University of Michigan.

    The ostensible reason for the trip was to stand in a misty chill for hours and watch the UM football team get thrashed by Iowa.

    But the real objective was to enjoy the company of most of my closest college friends. Liv even drove up to join us.

    We eased the sorrow from the football defeat with dinner at Palio (good Italian food, cramped space) and the far-reaching international beverages available at Ashleys, my favorite Ann Arbor bar.

    Many old memories were recounted, and more recent stories were shared. Conversation topics included spring breaks of yore, roommates who used to hide pot from themselves, and using babies to pick up women.


    2002-10-24

    Arrests in serial shooter case

    Two people have been arrested in relation to the serial shooter murders that have plagued the Washington DC area.

    Hopefully, these arrests will end the shootings, rather than smear an innocent person's reputation (i.e. the suspicion surrounding Richard Jewell after the 1996 Olympics bomb detonation).

    Otherwise, I may need to ask Santa for a gas station decoy after all.



    2002-10-23

    New Wallace and Gromit movie shorts

    Aardman Animations is releasing a new series of Wallace and Gromit animation shorts.

    This is a funny series about Wallace, a befuddled inventor of bizarre contraptions, and his faithful dog/assistant Gromit.

    Their new animated quickies, the first in six years, are a warmup for a full-length film that is scheduled for release in 2004.

    Unfortunately, the shorts are available for viewing only with a $9.95 payment. Since the shorts add up to less than a half hour of material, this isn't the best of deals.

    At least the first short, Soccamatic, can be viewed for free.

    Aardman was also responsible for the very fun and charming movie Chicken Run



    Good singer/songwriter at Baltimore house concert

    Since I went for the crazy ritzy night out on Friday, I opted for a calmer, more intimate scene on Saturday.

    I drove up to Baltimore for Holden's Lair, a monthly series of house concerts that specializes in acoustic singer/songwriter types. The concerts are hosted at the place of a cool guy who used to book performers at a campus venue.

    Saturday's performer was Sam Shaber, a very talented folk/rock artist. If I were to draw comparisons to other artists, I would say Dar Williams with perhaps a touch of a not-pissed-off Ani Difranco.

    I've been to one other Holden's Lair show, and I hope to attend more. The shows usually attract around two dozen people who sit on couches and on the floor. The house isn't huge, but the space is comfortable for the numbers.

    There's no barrier whatsoever between audience and performer, and this contributes to a friendly, casual atmosphere (as does the potluck - people are encouraged to bring food and/or booze).

    The casualness of the night was most apparent when the house cat started wailing along with the performance. Sam was singing about the desert, and she quipped that the cat was singing the part of the desert coyotes.

    All in all, the show was a nice compliment to swanky overpriced dance club night.


    2002-10-22

    Swanky dance club night

    It had been awhile since my last night out dancing, so I went to the VIP Club this past Friday.

    The place was rough on the wallet. Women got in free before midnight, but guys were charged a $15 cover fee. That would get you a CD, even at an overpriced national music chain! Also, the place charged a whopping $9 for a vodka drink.

    Basically, the place was priced for two types of people: rich men who want to show off their money to women, and women who like to have men buy their drinks. I belong to neither category.

    Still, the place was fun; it included a house music floor and a live salsa band in the basement. This made for a nice change of pace from the 80s pop clubs I'd attended on my last few dance outings.

    The company was pleasant too, as I went out with a group from the dcsocialgroup mailing list. We met at Andale for dinner. This was the first Mexican place I'd ever since that served garlic in its dishes.


    2002-10-18

    More proof that life is unfair

    I've been invited to five weddings this year, but not a single bachelor party.


    2002-10-17

    Faith, closure, and the serial shooter blues

    An article in the Washington Post, one of many on the recent serial shootings in the Washington DC area, has me thinking about the immediate fear of death.

    The Post article looked to the past, when plagues and the dangers of the wilderness made death a more constant reality.

    Back then, spiritual beliefs provided comfort from the fear of death. People accepted that they could die without a moment's warning. But by choosing to live a moral life, they could be assured of a happy afterlife. Therefore, people still had control over their ultimate fate.

    But what if you don't believe in an afterlife? All you can control is whether or not you live to the fullest. That way, when you go, you minimize your regret at things you wish you did, words you wish you said to others, and so forth.

    So that's what's on my mind these days. I plan for the future, but I try not to put off until tomorrow what I could do today if I didn't spend so much time vegetating in front of the television.

    Ultimately, fear of death isn't inherently bad. I look at it as a sign that I still care about life. And I have plenty of great family and friends to thank for that.


    Birds of Prey

    Just watched Birds of Prey for the first time. It was nice, campy fun. All the comic book references are enjoyable for this comic book geek (even Jason Todd, the most obscure of the Robin sidekicks, gets name-dropped).

    The show’s also very Buffy-like. You have the sassy ass-kicker, the mentor who works in a high school, and the naïve kid sister who borrows clothes without asking.



    2002-10-16

    Compromise bill for Internet broadcasting royalties

    The US House of Representatives has passed the Small Webcasters Amendments Act of 2002, which sets the amount of royalties that Internet radio stations must pay to musicians and record labels.

    The royalty fees are based on a percentage of a broadcaster's revenue, rather than a flat fee that would have broken many smaller broadcasters.

    This is a good step to preserving the range and diversity of on-line broadcasts, which is important given the increasing "sameness" of on-air radio markets across the country.

    Saveinternetradio.org offers advice on advocating this bill to the US Senate.


    2002-10-15

    How to make an apple pie shot

    Here are directions for serving an apple pie shot, as observed at the birthday party that I attended this past Friday:

    STEP ONE
    Select two people to serve the shot. Designate one person as the Nice Server, and the other as the Naughty Server.

    STEP TWO
    Give the Nice Server a cinnamon shaker and a shot glass full of apple juice.

    STEP THREE
    Give the Naughty Server a can of whipped cream and a shot glass full of vodka.

    STEP FOUR
    Give the shot recipient a seat and a bib.

    STEP FIVE
    The servers administer the shot ingredients. The recipient may not ingest until all ingredients are administered. Ingredients are administered in the following order:
  • The Nice Server pours the apple juice shot into the recipient's mouth

  • The Naughty Server pours the vodka shot into the recipient's mouth

  • The Naughty Server sprays whipped cream into the recipient's mouth

  • The Nice Server sprinkles cinnamon onto the whipped cream

  • The recipient ingests the administered ingredients


  • STEP SIX
    Clean the recipient's face by means preferred by the recipient (damp cloth, an attractive person's tongue, etc.).

    Can you tell that I'm a technical writer?



    Jello shots, dirty chips, and a close call

    This past weekend, I got to enjoy another visit from Liv.

    We ventured out Friday night to help celebrate a friend's birthday. I hadn't seen him since my own birthday party in June, so I was definitely glad that we went.

    Liv had her first jello shot, and then I had my first apple pie shot (more on that in another post).

    Then the party moved to Sawatdee, a good Thai restaurant near the Courthouse Metro station in Arlington, VA.

    On Saturday, I took Liv to a comic book store. She bought a few comics, which shows that my plan to corrupt her into geekdom is taking root.

    Liv got revenge by talking me into an Ikea visit. I have to confess, it actually didn't suck.

    The weekend festivities didn't end after Liv left town. Another friend tried to squeeze in one last barbecue before the autumn chill. Unfortunately, he didn't quite beat the cold, but it was still a good time.

    I had a Dozer Moment as I spilled a big pile of chips onto the ground. Instead of immediately throwing the chips away, I gathered them on a paper plate and set it on the bar. Naturally, I neglected to tell the host until he put one of the not-quite-discarded chips into his mouth.

    In an eerie coincidence, the dinner was in Falls Church, just a few minutes away from the latest serial shooting.

    The host contemplated going out to buy lighter fluid. It's a good thing he decided to fry the burgers instead.



    2002-10-14

    Interesting cover album from the UK

    The 1 Love cover album features some interesting covers of songs that reached #1 on the UK charts:
  • Stereophonics covers Sinead O'Connor's Nothing Compares 2U

  • Jimmy Eat World covers the Prodigy's Firestarter (!)


  • The album's out in the UK; I'm not sure if/when it will be released stateside.

    1 Love raises money for War Child, a charity that assists children in areas of armed conflict.

    Thanks to Darkside/Lightside for the tip on this album.


    2002-10-13

    Fight back against mail spam

    TJ Hanton offers this tip for dealing with spam mail:

    When you get those pre-approved letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and junk like that, most of them come with postage paid return envelopes, right? Well, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little envelopes!

    This sounds fun, but the fun may not last. Mail spammers are starting to catch on to this tactic.

    For example, Elite Credit Card Processing Center has started printing this message on their envelopes: "Warning: Unauthorized use of or tampering with envelope or its contents is strictly prohibited."

    The warning includes a "customer tracking code", which apparently records who this SASE was mailed to.

    I don't know if the company would actually act against anyone who returned junk mail. I figure it would be easy enough to just black out the tracking code.


    Zenflea features a poignant post about coping with fear of the shootings at gas stations, grocery stores, schools, and other seemingly random locations in the Washington DC area.

    So as I watch my gas gauge dwindle down to nothing... I'm going Full serve until he's caught, and my wallet has something new in it: A next of kin card.

    I've tried not to let my fear get the better of me.

    But last Thursday, I shopped at a grocery store that wasn't my normal place of choice because there were less woods around in which the shooter could hide. And I went late at night, in the rain, because I knew the parking spots closest to the entrance would be available.


    2002-10-12

    Buffy quiz weekend continues...


    How Obsessive Are You Over Buffy?

    brought to you by Quizilla

    I watch repeats only occasionally (because I've already gone through the full show cycle on the FX Network), I never make plans on Tuesday nights, and I write about each episode on the blog.

    But I don't memorize dialogue, I don't buy Buffy merchandise, and I'd never name a child after a Buffy character.


    2002-10-11

    It's the Buffy quiz

    Hmmm... I would've put my money on Xander...

    You are

    Giles



    "You should never be cowed by authority. Except, of course, in this instance, where I am clearly right and you are clearly wrong."

    What "Buffy" Character Are You?




    2002-10-10

    Is it just me...

    ...or does anyone else think Avril Lavinge looks like a pre-adolescent Ozzy Osbourne?


    Buffy 7.3

    What happens: Willow returns to Sunnydale, and she's still worried about her friends forgiving her for almost destroying the world a few months ago. Her magic powers react to her fears, and cast a spell that renders her invisible and intangible to Buffy, Xander, and Dawn - and vice versa. Then a Gollum-like creature takes a bite out of Willow and turns Dawn into a paralyzed, posable kid sister until Buffy kills the bad guy. Willow's subconscious spell wears off, but I'm not sure exactly how. And then Willow returns to the fold.

    We get another creepy villain this week. It's bad enough to be a flesh-devouring monster; but to paralyze and taunt your prey as you casually strip and devour their flesh? That's just low, man.

    But as scary as that was, I was more creeped out by the fact that after three years, Willow's magic is still subconsciously shaped by her fears and desires. She may not be evil, but she's still plenty dangerous.

    And I laughed plentily at Dawn's paralysis plight. What's the point of having a kid sister if you can't have a little fun at her expense?


    2002-10-09

    City walked

    The dchiking walk through downtown was fun.

    Our group of eight started with dinner at Bertucci's brick over pizzeria. I shared a medium silano thin-crust (grilled chicken, broccoli, lemon-pepper cream sauce). Yum.

    Then we walked down to the Lincoln Memorial, which I've always wanted to see at night. Small groups of high school kids were hanging out underneath Abe's illuminated marble brow; it was a considerably more evocative hang-out than a mall would be.

    From there, we walked past the Washington Monument and the Capitol to our final destination, the Capitol South Metro station. All in all, it was a nice, brisk walk and a sociable form of light exercise.


    City walk

    I'm about to go out on a city walk with a dchiking group.

    We start with dinner near the Foggy Bottom Metro station. Then we'll walk roughly 2.5 miles through the National Mall to the Capitol South Metro station.

    I'll confess; with the recent sniper attacks, a small part of me is nervous about being outside for an extended period of time.

    But living in fear is no way to live. Besides, none of the attacks have been near the heart of downtown. So off I go...


    2002-10-08

    The world spins

    Just when I've been on a nice blogging streak, a bout of dizziness keeps me from work (and blogging). Hopefully I'll get over it in time for my weekly Buffy post.


    2002-10-07

    Iraqi death match

    An Iraqi vice president has challenged President Bush to a duel against Saddam Hussein.

    This proposed resolution to an impending confrontation between the US and Iraq would be "a president against a president and vice president against a vice president.”

    Granting that this proposal comes straight out of Fantasyland, how would this Grudge Match turn out?

    At first blush, the Dubya seems to have a clear advantage. He’s younger than the Butcher of Baghdad, and he’s in great shape.

    But Saddam has a few advantages of his own.

    First, he is a ruthless thug who killed and backstabbed to attain his power (rather than be born into it like W). So he wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of Bush’s weakness and choose a bag of pretzels as his dueling weapon. Therefore, Hussein gets the "eye of the tiger" advantage.

    Another possible drawback for our guy emerges if both presidents and vice presidents fight at the same time. Bush would immediately suffer a two-to-one disadvantage, as Dick Cheney would surely keel over from a heart attack after a few minutes of physical exertion.

    Also, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan would referee the battleground. So Bush won’t enjoy the home field advantage that he enjoyed during his last bout with Al “Death Robot” Gore, where Bush’s brother was the referee.

    Even though the UN isn’t always the most US-friendly body, its supervision of the fight could actually benefit Bush. The US could promise payment of its millions in unpaid UN dues, in return for concessions in the terms of the fight.

    For example, Bush could get approval to appoint a proxy for the disadvantaged Cheney. He could select war-tested Colin Powell. Or the winner of the next Celebrity Boxing special.


    2002-10-06

    Photo of the week

    I took this photo last month underneath the Lincoln Memorial.

    Underneath the Lincoln Memorial

    Tourists aren't usually allowed here. But an exception is made for volunteers who help the National Park Service with upkeep on the National Mall.

    On this occasion, I helped clean the DC World War I memorial with a group from the University of Michigan alumni club.

    It's quite a cavernous space down there, reminiscent of the underground city Moria in the Fellowship of the Rings movie.

    If I were a superhero, this is where I'd want my secret lair to be.

    I snapped photos of cartoon sketches left on the walls by workers, as well as stalactite-like calcium drips from the ceiling. Unfortunately, the film roll jammed in my camera.

    Yesterday, I participated in another NPS volunteer effort. This time, I touched up the paint on the chain posts that line the walkways on the Mall.

    Since I moved here almost two years ago, I've liked having a downtown area with so much history. It gives my friends extra incentive to visit, and it provides free stuff to go to. So why not help with the upkeep once in awhile?


    Weight Update

    I haven't been posting these lately, which defeats my strategy of creating some small degree of public accountability for my weight loss plan. Since I haven't been exercising or watching my eating consistently, I was worried that I'd backtracked.

    But pleasantly, I've been holding steady at nine pounds over Weight Loss Goal #1. Time to get serious again...


    Reviews of the latest book by Fight Club author

    Both Reenhead and the Washington Post have delivered reviews of Lullaby, the new book by Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk.

    These reviews indicate that I made the right decision by resisting the urge to buy the book when Palahniuk appeared at Olssons.


    2002-10-05

    Media coverage of young adult literature

    Since I’m interested in writing young adult fiction, I’ve taken note of some recent news articles on the field.

    First, CNN reviewed Summerland, the new book by Michael Chabon. The story’s about a boy who is recruited into a baseball league in a fantasy realm populated by goblins and ghosts.

    Imagine Harry Potter joining the Bad News Bears.

    The reviewer calls the book formulaic but wondrous in its mixture of mythologies and in its colorful descriptions. “It’s clear he’s got a truer ear than J.K. Rowling,” he writes.

    Also, Salon put out an article on the trend of adults appreciating (and writing) children’s literature.

    Hell, even L.L. Cool J is getting into the act.

    The article notes the challenge of “writing essentially” without preaching to the audience or dumbing down the story. “It’s an egalitarian approach, allowing the readers to shade things in for themselves.”

    I’ve enjoyed this aspect of fiction in other media. For example, while many people complained about Jar Jar Binks and Hayden Christopher’s acting in the recent Star Wars films, I enjoyed pondering how the increasingly remote culture of the Jedi order allowed the Empire to rise.

    That’s something I’ll have to blog about sometime between now and Episode III. Yes, I’m that much of a geek.

    Anyway, the Seattle Times also reports on the evolving content of teen lit.

    It discusses the mature and sometimes provocative subject matter that current teen lit includes, a shift from simple morality tales to stories that focus on how characters adapt and grow from dealing with problems, and the tendency for adolescents to stretch beyond their expected reading level.

    Reading the coverage of young adult lit has got me interested in checking some of it out now. Since Michael Chabon is returning to DC, his hometown, in just under three weeks, I’ll probably buckle in and buy Summerland.

    In the meantime, I’m starting to read The Golden Compass by the anti-C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman.



    2002-10-04

    Author of Fight Club at Olssons

    Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club and other dark satires of modern life, appeared at a packed Olssons Books store this past Wednesday to promote a new book.

    Every foot of floor space was occupied, and a crowd formed outside the doors. They complained throughout Chuck's talk, shouting things like "I got an invitation over the Internet!" as they pleaded for admittance. Someone yelled phone messages to a friend on the inside.

    At first, Chuck dealt with the noise humorously. He asked the book store to placate the restless masses by giving them copies of Divine Adventures of the Ya Ya Sisterhood to burn. But as the crowd continued to be obnoxious, he returned the favor, shouting at one of the noisemakers to show her tits.

    When he wasn't heckling people, Chuck had interesting things to say about writing:
  • A friend of his said that if you can't reduce a novel's idea to seven double-spaced pages, the idea isn't defined well enough to write.

  • One of his goals is to write an unfilmable novel, because literature works best with narratives that aren't easily duplicated in visual or other non-print media.

  • He lamented that books seemed to lack the immediacy and relevance of storytellers and comedians. Given the turnaround time that books require, I'm not sure what can be done to fix that problem.


  • When asked about his tendency to mock people in his books, he replied that he always starts by making fun of things that he sees in himself. He also writes humorously about grim subjects as an extension of the coping mechanisms he developed while growing up. Whenever nasty arguments broke out in his family, he would deal by freezing like a deer caught in headlights, waiting for the uncomfortable situation to pass. However, laughing at bad situations is a healthier reaction than fearing them.

    Chuck also talked about his upcoming projects. He will release two books next year: a conspiracy horror novel and a book about Portland. He quipped that when people don't fit into society, they go to the west coast. And people who don't fit into west coast society go to Portland, because it's the cheapest city there.

    His book Invisible Monsters will be produced into a movie by the same company that did Requiem for a Dream. The only novel that definitely won't become a movie is Survivor, because there's not much of a market for a satire about hijacking.



    Amateur psychological profile on Maryland shootings

    The blog Cut on the Bias theorizes on who is responsible for the recent shootings in Montgomery County.

    Link found via Amanita.


    Proposed reprieve for Internet radio on Capitol Hill

    Representative James Sensenbrenner has proposed legislation to delay impending extra royalty fees for songs broadcast over the Internet.



    Blondes aren’t going extinct

    From the Washington Post: the widely-reported story that blondes are going extinct is a hoax.

    The story traces back to a German magazine article which cited a non-existent anthropologist at the World Health Organization.

    So much for my plan to open up a nature preserve for blondes…


    2002-10-03

    Recent Tragic Events review

    It's been a long time coming, but here's my review of the play Recent Tragic Events, which I saw a few weeks back.

    Although the story stems from the 9/11 attacks, there are no firefighters, no smoking anyone out of caves, and not once do you hear the phrase "Let's roll." Instead, you get a funny, clever reflection on the amount of control that people have over their lives.

    The story starts with Waverly, who goes on a blind date with Andrew the day after 9/11. All the while, she struggles to hold her nerves together, as her sister Wendy in New York City has been completely out of touch since the attacks.

    9/11 cast only a faint shadow over the first half of the play through the disembodied voices of news broadcasts and through Waverly's attempts to call Wendy even as she prepares for her date. For the most part, the story eases the audience with humor, mostly from the awkwardness of blind dates and Waverly's wacky neighbors.

    But this relatively calm façade crumbles in the second half with lots of anxious ruminating on whether humans have free will, or if their actions are predetermined by their situations. Were the terrorist strikes an inevitable consequence of U.S. dominance? And how can we have any control over our lives when the world can be so drastically changed by eighteen men from halfway around the world? Later on, Waverly and Andrew confess that they've felt a lack of control even before the recent tragic events.

    The playwright seems to be skeptical of free will. The only argument for free will in the play is delivered by a hand puppet. Also, at the end, a stage manager enters the spotlight and reads aloud the script, reminding everyone that the characters' actions are set in stone.

    Personally, I think that however much we're shaped by the events in our lives, we need to believe in free will just to stay sane.

    All the same, Recent Tragic Events is well worth seeing. Its run ends this weekend, but tickets may still be available.



    I've got you shout out right here

    My baby sister would like you, the three regular readers of Dozer Online, to know that she celebrated a birthday yesterday.

    I'm sure she was out partying with friends, so I didn't call yesterday. But I did send her a gift: the Monsters Inc. DVD. It was the only item on her wish list that wasn't related to American Idol.

    Happy birthday, sis!



    2002-10-02

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer: From beneath, it devours

    There were two main themes to this week's Buffy.
    1) Something frightfully powerful and evil is re-emerging
    and
    2) The personal subplots are getting really complicated

    The episode starts with the cloaked assassins chasing down a woman with in Germany. As Missy has already noted, the victim’s bright pink hair, along with the pumping techno music in the background, hints at a tribute (or slam) for the show Alias.

    On to the main story. Anya’s been feeling the heat from her vengeance demon peers to inflict some serious hurting on men who have wronged the women who love them.

    So she turns the abusive jerk Ronnie into a gigantic, worm-like Sluggoth demon. Unfortunately, Ronnie begins hunting his ex-girlfriend Nancy.

    Nancy turns to the Scoobies for protection, and gets a crash course in What Evil Lurks in Sunnydale. She’s slow on the uptake at first, offering to call the police. After another near miss from the Ronnie demon, Nancy gives in to despair (not acted especially well, sad to say).

    But this doesn’t stop her from hitting on Xander. He’s gotten over his guilt and sadness after leaving Anya on their wedding day, so he reciprocates Nancy’s interest.

    I’d like to see them have a go at it. Nancy could be an amusing “reality check” to the craziness that is life with Buffy. This is most apparent when she tries to figure out the various broken relationships and trysts among the Scoobies.

    Xander talks Anya into transforming Ronnie back into a human, just in time for Spike to impale him.

    This sends Spike into a major-league tizzy. He hasn’t adjusted very well to having a soul. It’s a “bit worse for lack of use.” Voices echo inside his head, including that of the impending Big Bad that has also been troubling Willow and Halfreck. Also, Spike mood-swings through incoherence, levelheaded altruism, antagonism, and despair. He spills his guts to Buffy, and in a chilling scene, burns himself by embracing a cross. In many ways, this is Spike’s episode.

    What else happened… Willow’s on her way back to the States, Dawn threatens Spike (not too convincingly according to Liv, but Spike buys it), and we get lots of funny references to past episodes as well as a good old-fashioned bar brawl.

    If you want a comprehensive summary, go to Leoff Online.

    I end this entry with my favorite quote of the night: “Is there anybody here who hasn’t slept together?” – Nancy, as Spike and Xander look at each other awkwardly



    News flash

    The October issue of British Journal of Urology International reports that there is no correlation between shoe size and penis length.

    In related news, Ronald McDonald has hung himself.



    2002-10-01

    Back in Cleveland this past weekend

    The latest edition of the Dozer Online Weekend Dry Spell is due to me visiting my old hometown, Cleveland.

    There weren’t any weddings or other special occasions going on; I just wanted to visit friends and family. Plus, because of my upcoming schedule, this past weekend was the last convenient chance for me to go to Cleveland before Thanksgiving.

    Since I have a bad habit of doing things at the very last moment, I didn’t notify friends of my impending visit until just a few days before the weekend. Still, I got to see a good number of faces that I don’t get to see often enough. Chief among those faces was Liv, who drove up to meet me in Cleveland.

    Friends treated us to something that was promised to us nearly two months ago: a double-header of two decidedly different takes on contemporary Christian cinema:

  • Veggie Tales (animated talking vegetables combining silly songs and Bible story re-enactments)

  • Orgazmo (from the creators of South Park, about a Mormon who unwittingly becomes an adult film star and then becomes a crimefighting superhero - yes, the movie is every bit as immature, tacky, and funny as you might imagine)



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