Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Sometimes, I don't know my own strength.

I don't look like that strong a person, but I'm usually the one who ends up changing the bottle on the water cooler at work. I'm usually the one people ask for help moving furniture. Me and Dad have done lots of moving with just the two of us.

But I don't really think I'm that strong. So imagine my surprise when I popped the metal knob off my own shower pull, just by pulling on it.

Okay, so I know my water is gunky. It's why I always have a supply of bottled water to drink. City water always tastes like chlorine, but my city water also has a yuck mineral taste, too. Not like hard water -- I grew up on that stuff and never batted an eye -- but...yuck. Like...rotten minerals. Rotten chlorinated minerals. I just can't get used to it, especially when I see stuff floating in it.

That gunk -- probably calcium -- builds up in the shower's mechanism and makes it hard to pull the little knob. I've tried CLR, Lime-Away, etc., but it just builds right back up again within months. When it gets sticky like that, I use pliers to tug upwards on it. Works like a charm until I can get some gunk-b-gone on it.

But this time, it refused to move, so I just tugged harder. And harder. And...plunk!

Heh. You shoulda seen the look on my face.

But you probably woulda had to plug your ears to keep them from burning.

Anyway, not to be outdone by a mere busted knobby thing, I soaked the faucet in some CLR, then hammered gently at the mechanism underneath, trying to pop it up from that side, but to no avail. I figured if I could get it moving again, I could probably super-glue the knob back on until I could afford to replace the whole thing, but no dice.

I guess it's just baths for me for a while. I usually take baths, so it's no biggie. Just...too bad I need to color my hair. Ironically, that's why I was trying to work the shower in the first place. I wanted to make sure I could get the little dingle-hopper working. I've gotten a little leary of putting anything in my hair without assurance that the shower will be functional enough to wash it out again. Heheh.

So I'll be a little greyer than usual until I can get the darn thing fixed. I'm not gonna try to rinse under the faucet...unless I get really irritated with the grey, which I sometimes do. It usually doesn't bother me -- vain, I am not -- but you never know.

Anyway...anybody know any easy-fix tricks?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Important Sidebar:

Today is my beloved sister's birthday. So I thought I'd say a few nice things about her.

She's brilliant. Creative. Intuitive. Kind-hearted. Wickedly amusing. Passionate. Ballsy as hell. Gorgeous. Fabulous.

She writes. She sings. She cross-stitches and crochets (though rarely, now that the three monsters and That Man take up all her time). She could math circles around MIT scholars. She speaks computer languages like a native tongue. She would give you every single shirt in her closet if she thought it would help you and make you a cup of the best coffee on Earth (the only coffee I'll drink) while you sob out why you need said shirts.

I remember once when I was a kid, Joely gave me one of the most fulsome and creative birthday presents ever. She wadded up a sheet of notebook paper, tore a few divots out of the edges, tore it into strips, dropped them in some tea, then laid them flattish and dried them out in the oven on low. By the time she was done, they looked like ancient clues to a pirate's treasure.

Which was the intent, of course.

She wrote cryptic clues to locations around our property on each strip, hid them in the proper places, and then filled a shoebox with hand-made coupons. Chores I didn't have to do. Trips to town. My favorite things for dinner. That kind of thing.

By the time I found that shoebox, I didn't even care what was inside it. I was so enamoured of those cunning little clues that I was already in hog heaven with them. Impressive as hell.

Mind you, that didn't stop me from cashing in those coupons. Waste not, want not, and all that.

So, beloved Sis, while I've never done anything half so incredible for your birthday, I just wanted to say that I love you with all my heart, you're an inspiration every day, and I hope your birthday brings you everything you wish for when you blow out your candles.

...

On the cake you probably made yourself. Bless your heart.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Charlie:

You know how, when you go to the theater these days, you're almost as bombarded with commercials as you are watching television? Car commercials. Soda commercials. Shampoo commercials.

Does that irritate anyone else?

Oh, well. Anyway, so me and Jody went to watch Star Trek -- yes, again; for me, anyway, because Jody hadn't seen it yet -- and one of the pre-trailer commercials was for Sprite, and...well...it disturbed the hell out of me.

Okay, so there's this urban-setting playground-type paved area with a basketball court marked off. Thanks to the lighting, you know it's hotter than hell, and everyone's just kinda lazing around and sweating. No one's playing. No one's having fun.

Then, one of the would-be basketball players shoots a penetrating glare at one of the opposing would-be basketball players, and they get up and run at each other. Spissssh! When they slam into each other, they erupt into a splash of clear fluid -- either water or, more likely, Sprite.

And those caught in the spray laugh and cheer and get it in their mouths.

Two more people run at each other and spissssh! And another two. And another two. It's practically raining people fluid, and while the people on the screen are obviously feeling refreshed and overjoyed by this outpouring, I couldn't help but think, "Don't eat the Soylent Green! It's people!"

I mean, seriously. Didn't the people who made that commercial think about it? At the very least, since they were at such great pains to insinuate that everyone's hot and tired, they should have made some effort to show that their actors didn't blow up into a great big sweat geyser. Egad.

It's like the old Northern paper towel commercial. The one where the three little old cartoon ladies are supposedly showing the young cartoon lady how to "quilt" the paper towels...while using knitting needles. Because you always quilt with knitting needles, right?

Geez, mon.

I haven't yet decided if advertisers think the American populace is stupid or if they honestly don't have any common sense. I mean, I can suspend disbelief with the best of 'em -- wouldn't love movies so much if I couldn't -- but there has to be some sense to it. And I don't think getting a mouthful of exploding person, even if it's clear, refreshing exploded person, is good advertising.

'Course, maybe that's just me. Maybe Soylent Green tastes like bacon-wrapped filet mignon. Maybe I'm letting the best of life pass me by.

And maybe you are what you eat. Heheh.

And, arguably, the commercial is something of a success. Most marketing is an attempt to ingrain product recognition into the consumer's head, so me remembering that Northern paper towels are quilted with knitting needles is probably better than me not remembering at all. No press is bad press, right?

Except for the fact that I won't buy Northern paper towels, even to this day. Because they're stupid. Or because their marketers think I am.

And the next time I want a decaffeinated soda on a plasma donation day (caffeine dehydrates you so I avoid it on days I know I'll be donating), I think I'll give Sprite a bypass. Because the can is green. A particularly soylent shade of green, you might say.

And the stuff inside is people.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dear Charlie:

I'm pretty convinced that Empire Electric is the Devil. Either that, or it's run by the Devil. Makes me wonder who's running Hell while Empire's up here mucking things up.

So, I'm a pretty patient person. I can read a book while there's light and go to bed early to save the candles/flashlight and ignore the fact that all the food in my fridge is now bad, including the meat Dad gave me, and I'll have to throw it all away and can't even get more until the power's back on. I don't have to be constantly entertained and I'm not normally a "turn all the lights on" kind of person, anyway.

However, after five days without power and absolutely no explanation as to why the six or seven houses in this little rathole corner had nothing while everyone around us (including my next-door neighbors to the right and those across the street) were lit up like Christmas, my patience wore thin. I wanted a hot bath. Hell, I wanted to listen to the radio for a few minutes. Or even just not have to trust my cell phone battery to not run out overnight so it could act as my alarm clock so I could get to work on time. That would have been nice.

But every time I called to ask why no power, I got the runaround and even outright rudeness. Look, I know they have the entire area to worry about, but it doesn't mean they can just forget about little pockets of people like us that have to make do with nothing. They could at least give us a little information instead of spinning fairy tales about "tonight or tomorrow, at the latest" for four days straight.

Ahem.

Anyway, it's finally back on -- just in time for another round of storms, of course -- and I'm tempted to light this place up like something out of an early Spielberg film. *snerk* Only common sense has stopped me.

I only wish I knew what was wrong so I can tell them exactly what to fix when it happens again. Ugh.

So for now, I'm gonna throw away all the spoiled food, watch a movie, take back the one that was stuck in the DVD player while the power was out, and enjoy being able to turn on the light in the bathroom while I take a nice, hot bath.

Ah, bliss.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Weird Update:

Okay, so here I am at Hardee's. Why Hardee's, you ask? Because they have free wifi, of course, and I have no power at home. I am powerless. Sans electricity.

My area was pummelled by extremely blowy storms yesterday, and a good chunk of town is without power. No power means no cable internet. Not cool.

It also means no DVD player. Mind you, I can sit and read longer than almost anyone, but I had two rentals that I still hadn't watched that I had to take back, darn it.

Anyway....

I'm actually pretty lucky. A big cedar tree in the neighbor's yard cracked in half and dumped its top onto one of my redbuds and my old, well-loved gas grill was blown right off my porch, flipped over, and demolished, but other than some downed limbs and the no-power thing, I escaped this particular cap of wind intact.

Well, minus the food in my fridge. It kept well the last time the power was out for any length of time because it was winter, but while it's not blazing hot right now, it's definitely not winter. I'm pretty sure everything but the beer in my fridge will have to go. No cold since 7:00 yesterday morning.

Oh, well.

In other news, while I did go to work for a few hours yesterday (where there was also no power) and then left early when the boss offered the option, I also stopped by the theater to watch Star Trek. As you might know, I've been greatly disappointed by two highly-anticipated (or highly-dreaded) movies already this year, so I was hesitant to get all excited about this one. I'm a long-time Trekkie, you see. Not a convention Trekkie, but a loyal watcher, just the same.

And this was the first Star Trek movie to feature cast members who'd never been in one of the TV shows. Literally anything could have happened, so I tried not to get my hopes up.

Such fears were groundless.

Star Trek is fan service, simple as that. Every nuance, from Bones' crotchety nature to Checkov's carefully enunciated Vs, is crafted to delight long-time fans, while the fantastic special effects and quick-paced story damn well ought to draw in fresh blood. This is a treat to watch, and I found myself grinning like an idiot through the entire thing.

Just as I was transported outside the theater with 2007's Transformers, I was held utterly enthralled with fond memories of my mother, my beloved sister, and I watching back when reruns of the original series ran on Sunday afternoons. We used to pile into the couch when we watched, and we'd lurch this way and that, falling over each other, when the Enterprise was battered by the Klingons or the Romulans. And oh, how we'd laugh -- not because it was stupid but because it was fun.

This movie is fun. It has a red shirt. It has the Kobayashi Maru. It has bar fights and Vulcans and Romulans (always a fascinating pair to bounce off each other, considering that they are opposite ends of the same species) and Scotty -- oh, Scotty! -- and humor and drama and explosions and phasers set to stun and every favorite quote you've ever heard a Trekkie utter (except the one about tribbles) and... oh... I want to watch it again.

This will definitely be taking pride of place in my collection. I'm telling you, these actors and this story is just the epinephrine this cardiac-arresting series needed. There's so much energy to it, and so much nostalgia. It's beautiful to watch these old relationships from the start, to see with new eyes how Bones and Kirk met, how Spock came to be a member of Star Fleet, how Uhura got her position at the comm, how Scotty found his home on that lovely old ship number NCC-1701.

I'm smiling even as I type. It's just a beautiful thing.

If you're a Trekkie, go watch it with no fear of being let down by the new treatment. As far as I can tell, all the principle actors were either Trekkies themselves or studied copious heaps of the show and movies to get everything just right. The guy who plays Dr. McCoy is just spot-on. He has the facial expressions, the grumbling tones. Sometimes, I swear he even looks like a young DeForest Kelley.

And I can't say enough about Heroes' Sylar as Mr. Spock. If it isn't disrespectful of his prior work, I have to say that he was born to pick up that particular mantle. I hope they keep him for future movies.

After all, the future is as endless as space and full of just as many possibilities.

Fascinating.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dear Charlie:

Okay, so The Tripper.

For the first probably twenty minutes of this flick, I was kinda irritated. I mean, I know you have to set up the slasher plot by showing the self-absorbed, out-of-control parade of youthful victims being irresponsible and damn near unbearable, but seriously. They really went full out with this one.

Although one of the modern-day hippies was Jason Mewes, who's always been hilarious in a Kevin Smith vehicle, so I kept watching. Besides, I knew pretty much all of them would probably die painfully soon, so I just waited patiently for the slashing to begin, already.

Okay, truth: I was waiting for Thomas Jane to make an appearance. Yeah, I'm trying to catch some of his other movies. And I so love a cheesy slasher flick.

But I could never have guessed what was in store when Mr. Jane took the stage. Oh, my God, but he plays that cop as straight as an arrow, as sober as a judge, and with all the chaos of drug-addled hippies and a money-grubbing, foul-mouthed Paul-Reubens-as-a-carny-king and a serial killer in a Ronald Reagan mask and screamingly conservative blue suit/white shirt/red tie combination...Officer Buzz Hall comes across as completely hilarious. He's the rock in the center of the maelstrom, the calm in the eye of the hurricane, the candle of responsibility in the blind darkness of self-absorption.

Pick your metaphor.

All of which adds up to me laughing really hard every time he steps up to the plate. And the mustache works. Seriously.

The movie itself is entertaining as hell. Once the murders start, it's carnage candy, and the red-tinted Karo syrup positively flows. There are wild pigs named George W., dogs named Nancy and Poindexter (Serial Killer Reagan's dogs, of course), more drugs than at a drive-through pharmacy, rampaging and paintballing hicks, hippie traps, giant trees, and, again, the inimitable Paul Reubens, who is a trip unto himself.

But seriously. Thomas Jane. Never cracks so much as a grin and gets almost all the laughs. It takes a certain kind of actor to stand with his thumbs hooked in his belt for 90% of a B-grade horror movie and still be not only plausible but completely believable. Yes, I just said the word believable in relation to a slasher flick starring Ronald Reagan. Sort of.

And the few times when the movie verges on serious? Yeah, he's right there with it. Rolls with the tone. Impressive to watch, fun to see.

He can play the serious, he can play the scenery-chewing, he can play the sole rational character in a movie posing self-indulgent hippies against a "compassionate conservative" with an axe. When everyone around him is either certifiably nuts or higher than a kite, de facto Officer Buzz Hall is there to keep the peace.

While cracking me right the hell up.

And now, I'm headed to bed, and I think the song stuck in my head -- though it was never played in the movie -- is, "If I had a haaaammerrrr...I'd hammer in the mooorrrrniiinnn'...I'd hammer in the eeeeveniiinnnn'...all over this laaaaand!"

And the cinematographer deserves some kind of award for his filming of the redwood forest. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous use of light and fog. And I hear that they found an old, severed finger while filming. Though that didn't make it into the movie. Go figure.

Oh, and chainsaws? Not just for deforestation anymore. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Annoying Sidebar:

Dammit, FOX!

Okay, so you royally screwed up DragonBall by "evolving" it. Arguably, any live action DB/Z/GT flick would be fundamentally flawed by not being either the manga or the anime. Ya still coulda done better, ya jerks, if you'd paid an inch of attention to the source material.

But...making Deadpool unable to talk? What the hell??

Did you read any of the comics? Did you watch Hulk vs. Wolverine? Deadpool's mouth is his biggest weapon, for the love of God! I'm fairly certain that even if he couldn't kill someone -- unlikely -- they'd commit suicide just to block out his ceaseless non sequiturs and hilariously pointless babbling!

And...and...and you shut him up!!

I could weep. Truly. What the Dreamcatcher movie ending did to the book was nothing compared to what has been done to Deadpool. In fact, what FOX did to DragonBall was nothing compared to poor Deadpool's enforced silence.

And Ryan Reynolds was so damn perfect for the part! That's worse than everything else, because up until they screwed him up, he was awesome! Waaaah!

Alas, poor Deadpool. I knew him, Marvel. And now, he rests in pieces.

Woe unto the comic-verse.

Repent! Repent!