Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Letter to my Future Kin

Dear sons/daughters/grandchildren,

I'm writing this letter to you in hopes it may retroactively avoid any hard feelings and prevent the unnecessary waste of your presumably hard-earned dollars, or whatever form of currency you crazy kids have in the future. You see, I don't know how it's like in your time, but here in 2006 (and in fact for the past several decades) it's always been reasonably acceptable for children, grandchildren and wives to buy the men in their lives cutesy little t-shirts, license plate frames, trophies and other paraphanelia regarding fatherhood, grandparenting and the like. Well, I'm going on record here and now to tell you I will never wear or otherwise display any such item, whether it be a sweatshirt proclaiming I'm the "#1 Dad" or a license plate frame ordering people to "Drive Carefully, This Is My Pop-Pop". Things like these have no place in my universe. You're my offspring, you know me, and should know better. For instance, you should know I would never wear any t-shirts or other articles of clothing that refers back to myself, especially as something that hasn't been scientifically proven as fact. Let's face it, there's a very slim chance I actually AM the #1 greatest dad living on earth to date. And if some third-party independent government-sponsored study does declare that I am, without a doubt, THE number one father figure of all time, I'd damn well better get more than a shirt for it. And honestly, any car with a bumper sticker or license plate frame that suggests I drive safer just because there's a "special person" occupying their vehicle seriously needs to be run off the road and into a very deep ditch. These 'adornments' have the same inherent flaws the old yellow "Baby Onboard" signs used to have: Nobody gives a shit. In fact, it makes people MORE nervous about driving near or around your car, increasing the chance of an accident. Then of course there's the worst-case scenario: Advertising to criminals. "Hmm.. there's a baby in that car, I'll have to take note; babies go for alot on the black market"; "Oh, there's a very special 'old lady' driving that car? Won't she make a good target for a carjacking.." I hate to put it that way, but you know there are people thinking it...
So, to sum up, my future offspring, please don't embarrass me with offerings of lame merchandise. They will most definitely end up in the very next garage sale. Don't say I didn't warn you. Love ya!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Religion in the news

Post 1:
Dateline November 20, 2006: Churchgoers were stunned today when it was learned that Reverend Thomas G. Saloy of the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Roosevelt, Long Island was arrested on federal child pornography charges. Though taken completely by surprise by these allegations and saddened by the downfall of their Reverend, most parishioners were glad to see the issue would not be ignored or quietly slip through the cracks. However, in a vain attempt to explain how a man of such religious composition falls victim to such sinful behavior, One man had this to say, "We're just shocked, I guess we're all humans and he's in a position of trust as a priest." Another woman was quoted as saying "Maybe in this day and age with the Internet and all of the sex that's out there people can't help themselves, it's human nature."

Excuse me for a second, since when is it 'human nature' to want to masturbate to images of children having sex? Last time I checked, not only was it morally reprehensible but it is, in fact, a federal crime and as such, very illegal; Yes, generically speaking, having sex is a basic primal human instinct, but to use it in defense of a sex crime is as abhorrent as saying, "We're shocked that O.J. brutally slaughtered his wife and her friend, but hey, he was just jealous, he's only human...."
The old "With the internet..people can't help themselves" excuse is a pile of horsecrap, as is the "I guess we're all humans" argument. First off, anyone who thinks of priests, ministers, clerics, rabbis, etc. as anything other than human should just go and try walking on water over a shark tank. And so can the masses that believe people aren't to blame because of the availability of illegal goods. It's called free-will, people. You CAN choose not to download illegal child-porn... Then again, free-will isn't exactly what the Catholic Church has ever promoted, is it?

Post 2:
Kudos go out to Rocker Sir Elton John for chastising the Catholic Church and, more specifically, organized religion in an magazine interview last month. Says John, ""I think religion has always tried to turn hatred toward gay people," adding that he "would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings." While I personally don't really know how much religion has really fueled the fire for homophobia, it is very apparent that the Catholic Church has their priorities totally screwed up. If you're going to worry about homosexuals, how about focusing on the ones committing crimes, like, oh say, fondling little boys....

Oh, snap.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tivo, you have failed me for the last time...

I'm going through withdrawal. Seriously, I have the shakes. I had a long day at work, and an even longer night at work; the only thing keeping me going all day was the knowledge that soon I would be watching a new "Lost" episode. I even had my friend Michelle come over to see it, since she was at a rehearsal and couldn't see it live. We were all ready, got our drinks and settled in our respective couch positions.
"Oh wise and all-powerful Tivo, give us our weekly fix of the most addictive television show in all of history!"

WHAT THE?!?! It didn't record??? Aw HELL no... It recorded LAST week! What the (insert long string of very naughty expletives here)

Well, it turns out after all the hailing and preaching about the Tivo and it's many wondrous features I've done, and praising it as the world's single greatest invention of all time, I neglected to learn it's single most important yet simplest of features: Prioritizing. Seems I had a programming conflict, and not inherently knowing my psychotic raging addiction to "Lost", my naive little machine defaulted to the first show on the list: Mythbusters. Now I like Mythbusters, don't get me wrong, but they replay those damn episodes 38 times a week, and "Lost" gets played... yup, ONCE! The only thing that saved my ass from being hurled through my television by Michelle was the fact that the website, as well as iTunes, will have the episode online tomorrow, albeit in tiny computer-window mode as opposed to glorious 67" widescreen. But much like a crackhead struggling to light the tiny last bits of ashes in his crackpipe, we'll take whatever we can get until next week.

As far as Tivo's concerned, "Lost" got bumped to the highest priority possible, and several Season Passes were deleted entirely just to make sure there are no future conflicts. Michelle will not be so forgiving next time.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Paul the Photographer

"Hey Paul!" you may be thinking to yourself. "What the hell's with the new banner ad on the side of your blog? Did you finally sell out and accept advertising for crappy companies in the hopes of making a few cents a year?"

Why no, actually.... but thank you for bringing it up.

You see, I found this great website. Actually, a co-worker found it and spread the news to all the artists of my company. It's a stock photography website you can search through for keywords and download images for a small fee, and.....

"But Paul, what the frig's so special about that?? Don't you realize there are thousands of sites that do the same thing? What the HELL man??"

Are you done interrupting? If so, I can explain. You see, this particular Stock Photography site is member supplied; Meaning when you sign up, not only can you purchase and download images to use, but you can also upload your own photography and, pending approval, have people purchase your images while you make a commission. So, I've decided to become a member and start uploading pics, and the first few have just been approved! The banner ad links up to my currently uploaded pics for purchase, while the link in the "useful sites" section of my margin links to an area to become a member, while giving me a finder's commission for anyone who signs up!

In all honesty, there's a great selection of images available for anyone who uses stock photography, and much cheaper than sites like Eyewire or Photodisc. I encourage you to check it out, if for nothing else, to see my photographs! And don't forget to check back in every so often to see more uploaded imagery.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You'll Thank Me Some Day

I try to be organized. I really do. I have this inate need to have everything categorized, labeled, and easily searchable. Which is why I love things like my iPod: All my music, right there, no swapping CDs or tapes. I want a song, BAM! I'm listening to it within seconds. Or why I finally settled on Canon's ImageBrowser software to organize all my digital images. I want a picture, I know exactly where it is. So I didn't think anything of it when I decided to print and archive all the blog entries and comments from the Coffee Crew Blog, Steve's Thymenage Blog, Toni's "Much Ado" site and the Encyclopedia Giachettica collection. In my mind, it was totally rational: A hardcopy backup of some of the best darned writing this side of the world wide web. I figured it served two purposes: One, is gives me a nice (albeit gigunda-sized) book to be able to pull out weeks, months, or even years later to reminisce over with my friends; and two: it's a physical backup in case something catastrophic happens, such as Blogger going out of business or terrorists blowing up the internet. I never liked the idea of all these masterpieces of literary genius (or even this blog) residing solely in cyberspace; it just made me nervous. So two trips to Office Max and $80 later, I now have a hardcopy backup of everything up to August. It was a just and noble cause. Until Toni questioned why the hell I would ever go through such lengths, and noted I was the only person she knew who would go BACKWARDS in technology and print a hardcopy of an online archive.


Some people just don't understand.

All I can say to that statement is this: What about people who use their fancy $200 cell phones to TYPE messages back and forth? Tell me THAT'S not pushing technology back! So there.

Now Steve, my blogging mentor, would probably love the fact that I'm into the blogs so much that I'd take the time to lovingly collect all the works into a single binder. But I would be remiss if I didn't point out the single flaw which would probably prevent him from trying the same thing: Anybody's comments posted after archiving are not included in the hardcopy, and that's enough to give Steve the shakes at night. I, however, am willing to risk it.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mourning: 101

I need something explained to me. Maybe I'm missing the point, maybe I'm just a cold-hearted bastard, but occasionally while driving on the highways and parkways of Long Island I'll come across a makeshift memorial on the side of the road, flowers and signs and whatnot, honoring someone who presumably lost their life in an accident at that very site; and I have to tell you... I don't get it. Is it just a Long Island thing, or do people across the country feel the need to make public highways they're own little shrine to the deceased? Honestly, I'm really not that calloused, and no, I've never lost anyone in a horrible car accident so I have no right telling people how to mourn, but I just don't see the point. To me, it just seems, I don't know, trashy, like people can't be bothered with actually making a trip to the cemetary. With the obvious exception of tragedies like 9/11 we don't do that for anything else; my grandmother passed away in an assisted living home, I don't go to the room where she stayed and leave flowers every year, I go to her grave, that's what it's for: to honor and remember loved ones. Why do people feel the need to show everyone on their way to work that someone died at exit marker 3515 on the L.I.E.? One may argue that we need little reminders like this in our lives to remember our own loved ones and even our own mortality, and that may be fine for others, but I'll be just fine without the sidewalk shrine.
So having said all that, I'm officially going on the record to all my friends and family: If God-forbid I perish in a car accident on the side of the road, do NOT waste your time and money decorating the site with flowers and hand-written notes and signs; if you do I will haunt you for the rest of your life.
You've been warned.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Say, "Cheese"

Every so often I'll discover something new about myself, whether it be a quirk, personality trait, or some other thing that up until now has remained undefined. Recently I've come to the conclusion that I seem to have an affinity for "cheese"; no, not the dairy product, in fact despite my Italian heritage I tend to avoid that particular section of the food pyramid; I'm talking the other kind, the "so bad it's good" variety. I'm not sure when this affliction began, but the most obvious place to start would be around the 80s, when "cheese" was basically the rule, however ignorant we might have been to the fact. These days I am a huge 80's music junkie, particularly the "one hit wonders" and, even moreso, the rap music of the era. People, this IS the musical embodiment of cheese. Witness: "The rhymes I say are sharp as a nail, witty as can be and not for sale, always funky fresh could never be stale, took a test to become an M.C. and didn't fail." * I challenge anyone to find lyrics as awesomely bad as these from the last 20 years.
But my fondness for cheese didn't end there, oh no. In fact, it mutated. Fast forward several years, I find myself listening to things like Metallica, music I had shunned in my earlier years. Why was this, I asked myself? Turns out that not only do I enjoy cheesy things, but also things that are just plain over the top and ridiculous to the point of hilarity, such as the insane speed and intensity of "Master of Puppets".

So where does that leave me today? Well, In terms of music, Marilyn Manson sits side by side with Weird Al Yankovich in my library, as does Rage Against the Machine and the Monkees. Movies like Doom, Resident Evil, Ultraviolet and Sound of Thunder were purchased (never having been seen in the theatres) knowing full well how God-awful they would turn out to be. I recently dove into the new Doctor Who series, not because of any good acting, dialog or special effects, but because Doctor Who is the very essence of over the top corniness. I purchased the 10-disc collectors edition box set of the Matrix Trilogy, again not necessarily because I thought all the movies were great, but: A) because they were so insanely crammed with special effects, features and bonuses, that an effects buff like me couldn't resist; B) It came in a really cool clear cube disc holder, satisfying my hunger for cool packaging and presentation, and most importantly C) It included an obscenely ugly bust of Neo to be displayed in the case, which is so incredibly bad it's awesome! And it doesn't stop there. Nothing quite screams "painfully outdated" better than the old Atari 2600 games, which I had to buy just to remind myself how perfectly awful videogames used to be, compared to today. I also became temporarily obsessed with the game Dance Dance Revolution (having played only once) and found two professional-grade regulation size DDR Pads on Ebay just to be able to play at home. And if that wasn't corny enough, I then obtained a copy of Nintendo's DDR Mario Mix, enabling me to 'dance' along to classic Mario Bros. music! Oh yeah...don't TELL me you're not jealous!
Most recently I found a website that prompted me to write this piece on cheesiness; it's hysterically funny without ever meaning to be. It's called freekaraoke.com, and allows you to download quicktime movies that you can sing along to karaoke-style. What makes it funny, however, is the 80's sounding Casio keyboard versions of all the songs, including the afore-mentioned Master of Puppets. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard listening to music before. It truly is the epitome of Cheesy Goodness. Check it out.

(* Run DMC - Rock Box)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Random Observation of the Day...

Today I realized: It's virtually impossible to hold a banana in your hand in an elevator full of women.

You just can't do it. Any way you try, it just feels...wrong. Now I'm pretty fidgety with my hands to begin with, but slap a banana in there and push me into an elevator with 3 or 4 women, and I have no idea what to do with them. Probably just my overactive imagination, but it just isn't the most comfortable situation.

Sorry, that's all I got for now.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Hitler Never Played Video Games - Part 2

Where was I? Oh yeah, Jack Thompson's an ass.

To me, the idiocy of using religion to promote government action on violent and obscene media is eclipsed only by the outright hypocrisy of it, without even getting into the whole "Separation of Church and State" debate. But before we get into that, let's take a look at the issues being fought.
According to Mr. Thompson, violent video games are "simulators" for destructive behaviors, and argues that in every instance of school shootings, the kids involved are found to be video gamers, therefore it must be the games driving them to this behavior. Wow.... there's a thought, kid's playing video games! Who'd have thought? Using this kind of ass-backwards asinine logic is like saying "We interviewed 10 crackheads, and found that, astonishingly, ALL ten were jobless! Therefore, EVERY jobless person you see on the street must be a crackhead. Or here's a simpler example... what if they did a rigorous study and found that every single kid involved in school shootings happened to really like roast beef sandwiches... would you then tell me that roast beef sandwiches drive people to kill?? That's a perfect parallel to what they're trying to tell us about video games. Perhaps Mr. Thompson forgot to ask the other 99.9% of the school population if THEY played video games, afraid he might find that, perhaps, a whopping majority of them ALSO engage in this carnal activity, without ever having the urge to blow away their classmates. How about reporting on the fact that, out of all these shootings most, if not all, of these shooters were considered "outcasts" by their peers, who were never accepted by the popular circles and usually came from broken homes or abusive parents? Why not? Because it's much harder to sue the jocks and socialites, or the parents and guardians, than a big game company. And you won't get as much media coverage. Jack Thompson is a D-level politician fighting trivial battles because he doesn't have the talent, clout, or intelligence to take on the bigger issues. He's like the big stupid bully that picks on the weaker nerds because he knows he can win, only to be laughed at and mocked when the nerd outsmarts him. How about fighting for better education? How about fighting for better family counseling? Or... oh my God, dare I say it?? How about fighting for better FUCKING GUN CONTROL LAWS!! How exactly is it fair and just to sue a game company for putting out a game (which is fictional entertainment) because some unstable lunatic can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality, but it's wrong and unconstitutional to sue A) The gun company for producing a product whose SOLE purpose is to kill, and/or B) the lazy-ass father who can't keep his "hunting" guns out of the hands of his kids? It only makes sense in the narrow-minded head of a religious fanatic. Without going too far off course, let me give you a little glimpse into the mind of a religiously-run entity: The website Christ-Centered Game Reviews is a site dedicated to rating games of all kinds based on their moral standings. Here's how they rated the "appropriateness" of the content in my favorite current game, Oblivion:

Violence: -4
Swearing: -5
Blaspheming: -5
Sexual references: -4
Magic use: -5
Prejudice against other races: -1.5
Characters sleeping in their underwear:-3.5

So, to compare: Blaspheming, Swearing and Magic use gets a -5, but Violence gets a -4, and Prejudice gets a -1.5! It great to see their priorities are straight. Lets also keep in mind that 1) It's a Medieval fantasy roleplaying game, so of COURSE there's going to be some sort of violence; 2) The swearing they're referring to is made up of mostly fictional words created for the gameworld, and doesn't even begin to compare with games such as GTA or even some WWII shooters I've played; 3) The blaspheming they allude to refers to the nine in-game gods that characters worship, and not the Catholic Church's one and only God; and 4) Characters sleeping in their underwear??? Is there really a whole category just for this?? Give me a freaking break. Besides, it's not underwear as in frilly lingerie, it's like a permanent loincloth, used only when the characters aren't wearing any armor... which I would imagine is hard to sleep in. Idiots.

So the question remains: If not video games, what should these people really focus their efforts on? What is the real threat to the moral fiber of this great country...neigh, this great WORLD? Well, if these delusional fanatics and politicians were rational sorts, I would suggest things that, oh, I don't know, actually MATTERED, like the aforementioned real causes for teenage violence - the need for better education, better parental guidance, better counseling, maybe creating afterschool programs to help promote social skills; as well as the obvious things like better gun control or harder punishments for individuals responsible for putting guns in the hands of teens. Then of course there are other equally important issues with today's society, such as poverty, hunger, healthcare, etc., areas in which a real man with conviction can do some real good, things that people like Thompson wouldn't know the first thing about.
Having said that, however, I realize that these are NOT rational people, who base their actions on rational thought, and therefore we must try to think on their level to come up with a viable solution for them to support. Stay with me people, I know it's tough. (Please note the numbers used for this comparison are the most accurate I could find on the internet and may not represent exact figures, so don't sue me if I'm wrong!) I put forth the following argument: Let's assume we go strictly with the "games simulate violence and cause deaths" argument. There have been around 12 instances that I could find on the internet of deaths relating to video games, and most of them to the player him/herself due to stresses brought on by excessive playing, not behavioral modification. OK, let's round that up to 15, just to be fair. 15 deaths, in the world, EVER. NOW:

• According to ESPN.com, football attributed to 15 deaths in America in 2002 alone, that number having gone down from 23 the previous year. That's just players, and doesn't include the anti-social behavior it causes in fans, such as beer-chugging face-painted maniacs, violence erupting in stadiums, betting and gambling, football dads pummeling coaches and rivals' dads, etc. According to this data, it's clear football needs to be eradicated from society if we are to survive as a civilized world. Hell, wipe out ALL the major sports, better safe than sorry.

• According to wrongdiagnosis.com, around 98,000 people die in America each year by the actions (or inactions) of doctors. Surely a man who's 650,000 times more likely to kill you than the dreaded video game is a force to be reckoned with. Line 'em up, I say, I don't care how much good they've done, doctors are clearly a major threat.

• According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 16.5 out of every 100,000 people in the U.S. were killed in an automobile accidents in 1996. That's in ONE year, PER 100,000 people, in ONE country. Obviously automobiles are also a menace, and car companies should immediately halt production.

• According to the CDC, approximately 438,000 people die prematurely each year due to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Again, that's each year, in the United States alone. Why this malevolent behavior is still allowed to this day is beyond me.

And my personal favorite:
• According to historians, RELIGION accounts for several BILLION deaths throughout the world's history. This includes, but is not limited to: The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, The Massacre of St. Bartholomew, The Thirty Years War, Nazism, Islamic Jihads, various civil wars based on religious differences throughout the world, and general religious intolerance/fanaticism. Christianity alone makes up a huge percentage of these conflicts.

So, it seems that Mr. Thompson's platform to eliminate violent and malevolent practices turns out to be a much bigger CAUSE of it than any of the issues he fights. Which is no surprise when you think about it; If one man can fight so feverishly for such an insignificant cause in the name of religion, think of what a few, or many, or a nation, would do.

And people wonder why kids play video games to escape reality.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hitler Never Played Video Games - Part 1

(This blog entry eventually grew too big to be absorbed in one sitting, so it was necessary to break it up into parts, sorry for any inconvenience)

This entry was prompted by a recent news article about Jack Thompson, notorious lawyer and part-time politician known for his unwavering, if misguided, battle against "harmful influences" to minors, including movies and video games. The article stated that Mr. Thompson posted an open letter to Bono, headman of the band U2 and possible buyer of the software publisher Take Two. For those that don't know, Take Two is responsible for publishing such games as, you guessed it, Grand Theft Auto, a title repeatedly heralded as the single largest contributor to anti-social behavior in young adults.
Here is a portion of the letter:

"Dear Bono:
I write you as a fellow brother in Jesus Christ, appreciative of your bold witness to the transforming truth of the Gospel, in both your words and your deeds. You daily "fight the good fight," serving Him as salt and as light in an unbelieving world. You inspire other Christians to confront the "culture of death" that surrounds us all, and I thank you. Because of what you do, it is easier for me to do what I have been called to do.

I write to encourage you, respectfully and in a spirit of brotherly love, not to purchase Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. . . .

Bono, whom are you going to believe as you make a decision whether to buy Take-Two? Are you going to believe the liars who got caught lying, or are you going to believe a fellow believer in Christ who has been targeted for actual harm by Take-Two and its dissembling Philadelphia lawyers at Blank Rome? . . .

I am trying to keep you, dear brother, from being run over by a careening bus. I do this to help you. A brother in Christ has now warned you. Now, do the right thing, in His powerful name I pray.

In Jesus Christ, Jack Thompson"

I'm writing this blog basically for two reasons: One - as a reputed video gamer myself I feel the need to defend my hobby and the companies that support my hobby; and Two - To convey my strong distaste for Mr. Thompson's methods and tactics in trying to convince people to see his viewpoint.

Now, I am neither a politically active person nor a religiously active person; in fact, this one example pretty much exemplifies WHY I am neither. This one man embodies the very worst of BOTH entities, the double-standards and hypocrisy of a slimy underhanded corrupt politician/lawyer, and the fanatical Bible-thumping brainwashings of a religious zealot. The fact that this man is still around spewing his absurd accusations after years and years of being humiliated in the public eye is surprising to me. Need a sampling of his purported crusade against indecency? Go to www.wikipedia.com and type Jack Thompson. Enough said.

So what exactly does he have against video games? Well, besides a majority of them containing indecent and violent content (content which, mind you, is equally prevalent in today's movies, tv shows, commercials, music, news reports, magazine ads, etc.) It turns out video games kill. Oh yes, according to Mr Thompson, video games are linked to several deaths across the globe, and therefore must be eradicated from the face of the earth. These deaths occurred either by violent or antisocial behavior being mimicked in real life by players of a game, or directly to the player by suicidal tendencies inflicted by stress over a game, or by physical stress of prolonged gameplay in excess of several hours.

To put it simply, there are those that feel that video games are greatly contributing to the moral decline of today's society, and must be censored, regulated, or altogether removed from store shelves. This of course goes against every anti-censorship movement's belief that the government should mind it's own business when it comes to the media we enjoy. But even beyond that, its such a ridiculous accusation to say that a game is responsible for a person's actions, just as it's preposterous to blame a movie for a crime committed while imitating a scene. The bottom line is this: These people are unstable to begin with, and are just as prone to commit a crime after watching an episode of "The Simpsons" as anything else. The fact that these things are linked to video games, a typically shunned activity in the grown-up responsible circles of society, is as factitious as blaming Ozzy Osbourne for a fan's suicide back in the 80s. Removing the catalyst will not necessarily remove the danger; the person will simply find some other outlet for his malevolent ways. And of course, the reverse is also true... There have been plenty of psycho-bastard characters from our history doing naughty things well before any of Mr. Thompson's suspects ever hit the streets: admittedly I'm not up on my history facts, but I'm pretty darned sure Hitler never played video games, Genghis Khan never listened to gangsta rap, and Vlad the Impaler never saw a Quentin Tarrantino movie.
And would you look at that.... these people are more horrendous and evil than anything you'll ever see in today's age... so what does THAT tell you?

Part two will discuss the sheer stupidity of a campaign against video games, and asks the question, "What is the REAL threat??" Stay tuned.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Name your child responsibly....

I read a sign a while back (again with the signs) for a fundraiser for a child with a certain kind of affliction, to be honest I didn't even read the whole thing, I just remember the name of the event: "Nickels for Nicky"; asking people to donate their nickels to this charity. Now I'm all for catchy names and such, but being the cynical person I am, naturally the first thing that went through my mind wasn't "Aw, how nice that someone wants to do something for this child", but rather, "Gee it kinda sucks that this poor kid's name is Nicky, and not maybe Danny, he coulda made TWICE as much money!" Hell, he could've even raked in the bucks with the "Dollars for Danny"campaign. Even a Kenny could have fared five-times better than poor Nicky! And although it doesn't quite roll off the tongue like its brethren, the "Half-Dollars for Hailey" drive could make up in value what it lacks in participation. Of course, any higher than that and you run the risk of ostracizing the very people who want to help. However well the the "Fivers for Freddy" or "Tens for Timmy" fundraisers may do, few people would be able, or willing, to attend the "Benjamins for Billy" or "C-Notes for Sammy" events.

Naturally things could always be worse..... personally I'm hoping I never need a charity event to pay for my costs... I could very well be screwed.

"Well, Paul, the good news is that 8, 642 people attended the charity event for your new spleen... the bad news is, it won't even cover the gas to get to the hospital..."

This is how my mind works people. Love it or leave it. =)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Everybody still with me?

Hey everyone, I just wanted to pop in to the Blogs to say that yes, I'm still alive, and to apologize for not having anything up on the blogs for quite some time. I can't even use Steve's favorite excuse "I was just so busy" because honestly, I had a whole week off, and just couldn't get myself up here to put anything down. Things have been blah, spirits have been lower than usual, maybe it's the change of season that gets people in a funk, maybe it's the slight changes in my life that I'm not sure how to deal with, maybe it's that money has been exceedingly tight this month, which never has a good impact on my disposition. But I'm hopeful it'll all pass. In the meantime, thanks for continuously checking in, I promise to have some goodies up for you soon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I Need a New Travel Agency

Next week I'm taking vacation time. I've already informed both my jobs, put in the required forms, and wrapped up all the loose ends. I'm ready for my week off. I'm ready to explore the countryside, visit exotic locales, meet fascinating new people, and embark on fantastic journeys. The place I've chosen to visit on my vacation in Cyrodiil, the Imperial Provence of Tamriel. There's only one slight problem: It doesn't exist.

Well, not in the real world, anyway... you see, I've taken time off to play a computer game. "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion" hits store shelves on March 21st, and I plan on being there first thing. Now before you scrunch your collective eyebrows and judge me, let me explain myself.
This is my hobby. This is what I do in my spare time. Some people go fishing, some people travel, some people play sports. I like to marvel at wonderful 3D graphics, pit myself against cunning AI enemies, and team up with friends to outwit the opposition. Yes, today's society views computer gaming somewhere between D&D gaming and being a trekkie, especially at my age, but the truth is, I enjoy it. Sure, I'd love to travel the world, meet 'actual' fascinating people, and go off on real-life adventures, but that costs considerably more money than my $50 game. $50, mind you, that gives me an average of 20-30 hours of enjoyment, compared to say, a movie which is $10 for +/- 2 hours of questionable enjoyment.

So, yes, I took off to play a computer game. Why a whole week?? Why not just a day or two? Well, simply put, this is a very unique game. It's the sequel to Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, which in my book is one of the all-time greatest RPG's of all time. It's completely open-ended, which means that you have total freedom to go exploring throughout the world without being restricted by a linear storyline. I've been anticipating this game since it's announcement back in 2004, and once I have it, I know myself well enough to know that I'd be way too preoccupied to actually get any work done, and the hour or so I'd manage to squeeze in after work every night would only serve to frustrate me. So when you think about it, I'm actually being a RESPONSIBLE adult by taking off! At least, that's how I'M rationalizing it.

Besides, I do plan on doing other things during my time off… I plan on getting through a ton of DVD's that I have yet to watch, like the Matrix Trilogy with it's 10 discs of bonus materials, and possibly start my first season of Oz which I've had since Christmas. I'd also like to throw some things up on eBay, to contribute to my "Get Paul Out Of Debt" fund. And if I'm lucky, I might even get a blog or two written and posted. So, you see, it's not all fun and games.

Mostly, yes, but not all.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

WHO? WHO Speaks Spanish?!?

Hi there.... it's good to be back...

So, I was listening to the radio the other day, and I heard a commercial that just got me shaking my head. It wasn't the whole commercial, just one line, one sentence, and it was in spanish. Let me preface this:

I'm not known for my tolerance for ultra-PC thinking. That doesn't mean that I'm a racially slurring, gay-bashing, handicapped-hating, sexually harassing asshole; I'm all for the equality of everyone, I just despise when the 'equality" is taken too far, or to places where it's just not necessary. The Braille instructions on the bank drive-thru instantly comes to mind. Another is the 500 page manual that came with my stereo, of which 20 are actually in english, the rest in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Swedish, Polish, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Lebanese, Ancient Egyptian, Klingon, and Latin. But, whatever, I've learned to deal. But then I heard this commercial and I had to laugh. I honestly don't know what it was for, since I don't pay attention to commercials all that much, I think it may have been for a construction company or plumber. So let's just say for the sake of argument it was for a plumber. The announcer went through his shtick, "We unclog drains, fix bathtubs, emergency 24 hour service," etc. etc. Then he says, "Se habla espanol", meaning, obviously, "we speak Spanish". Which would have been somewhat acceptable had I been watching a TV commercial - visually seeing a man doing plumbing stuff, or even a newspaper ad - with some nifty little plumber clipart, you know, SOMETHING to let me know what the advert was about without knowing the language. But this was a RADIO COMMERCIAL. So, in essence, a spanish-speaking person was driving through town listening to the radio, and a commercial comes on: "BLAH BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH, BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH, We speak spanish, BLAH BLAH." What the?!? I can just see the bewildered look on this anonymous person's face, as he tries to decipher who exactly speaks spanish and whether or not he requires their services... Totally wasted three seconds of airtime, if you ask me.

Still not convinced? Try it: You're driving through some country, know little to nothing of the language, and your car breaks down. while trying to start it up again, a commercial comes on, " Veristi mauble dudoni co pilgrehanda em tutonici ferol plistic. Garblo fecitan tualtin feistu. We speak english. Corbunico flees! Fee Shindo Shindo, hoder vevin, shindo cond."
Yes, the fact that the towtruck driver (who's commercial you just heard) speaks english really helps out here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The doors have swung open!

OK, I've since opened up the blog for comment from anyone, regardless of whether they're a member of Blogger or not. Personally I don't like forcing people to join things just to participate in something I'm doing, but sometimes it's important to keep the riff-raff out. But I'm now inviting everyone, even the riff-raff in, with the knowledge that I can snuff them out on a whim if necessary. It's my own little geeky high-tech version of a power trip... bear with me. =)

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New and Improved Fun Blog!

Taking a cue from Toni, I have now added a section on the side of interesting and/or fun little websites that I have come across in my travels on the information superhighway. Feel free to check in periodically to take a gander!

As an added bonus, let me share with you the funniest thing I recieved in e-mail in 2005:

The first case of Bird Flu in Florida......

Trash knows no color

This post may change some readers opinion of me, however I feel it necessary to post. I tried to write with the most open-minded intentions possible, but sometimes people annoy me to the brink of irrational thought.
I have a confession. Yesterday I was rendered temporarily racist. I'm not happy about it, in fact I'm ashamed, but it was a fleeting moment and does not represent my general feeling towards people of other races. Here's the story: Toni and I went to the movies. To see "Chronicles of Nardia" in fact. Yes it was meant to be a kid's film, and yes there was a high chance there would be kids there, but we went anyway. Everybody knows the old cliche gripe about why people bring their kids to the movies, but this particular example needs describing to explain my apology. OK, a couple and their three kids were right behind us, a toddler and 2 kids around four or five. Throughout the movie: The toddler proceeded to blurt out baby talk periodically; the 2 older kids had complete discussions about the action on the screen; food wrappings were being wrustled throughout the film; somehow soda was splashed on me not once, but twice; and the parents did nothing to prevent any of this. And they were black. This final note needs pointing out only because on our way out of the theatre, as Toni and I were discussing the inconsideration of bringing toddlers to movies, I said to her, "I'm sorry, this is going to sound racist, but for God's sake, get a job and hire a babysitter..." Yeah, incredibly un-PC of me, for sure. I'm not sure why I felt the need to tag it as a racial statement, as it could have just as easily been a white couple with their rowdy little kids behind us, but for some reason for that split second I rationalized that a white couple would have just been plain inconsiderate (however employed) as opposed to the black family. And I apologize for that.
But this incident made me think about a few things. First, I don't discriminate against race, I discriminate against assholes. Specifically assholes that lower my quality of life. Whether it be someone who harasses me in a parking lot, someone who runs a red light and almost hurts or kills a member of my family or a friend (or myself for that matter), or someone who brings a crying child to a movie. Color is definitely not a factor in this. A real racist may argue that most blacks or Puerto Ricans or Jamaicans or whatever fall under this category.... but I don't buy it. I've met plenty of decent hardworking respectable ethnic people, and have run into PLENTY of white scum in my time, mostly in the form of "White Trash". And then I started thinking about this term: White trash.
The label "white trash" is almost racial in itself, but not in the way you might think. Think about it: if you listen to other people tell stories about their encounters with problematic people, they always feel the need to label them. "This black guy harassed me for change", "This Hispanic woman hit my car..." This white-trash couple stole silverware from the restaurant..." AHA! back up... Why not just "this white couple..."? Why do we have to specify that THEY are trashy, but it seems to be automatically assumed in the other cases. This, my friends, seems very racist to me. I'm sure many of us are guilty of this too, it's just the way society seems to have dictated our way of communicating. But it doesn't make it right. Therefore I am vowing to try to avoid describing people less by their ethnic background (except where in pertains to the story) and more by their tendency to piss me off. "That Jerk... That Asshole...... That Trash......." What color was he?? It just doesn't matter.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Master of the shadows

This started off as a comment on Steve's Blog entry "Why "Hide and Go Seek" is Ultimately a Crappy Game" but decided it was too long and would make a better entry on my own blog. I suggest reading http://thymenage.blogspot.com/2005/12/why-hide-and-go-seek-is-ultimately.html as a prerequisite to understanding this post, as it's too much trouble trying to retrofit this comment to stand on it's own.

Once again Steve, you and I share similar stories. I have actually endured BOTH sides of your hide and seek experiences. First, when we played hide and seek in our basement, we had even fewer choices than you... we had about four halfway decent hiding spots.... and one really really good one. Naturally before finding this spot games lasted no more than a minute or two, as the finder casually walked through the basement jabbing a stick into the darkened areas or punching the unusually large kid-shaped pile of clothes on the floor, a pile that wasn't there 10 minutes ago. But I always prided myself at being a master of the shadows, and one time found this perfect spot, one no one dared look in, for it was certain no one would be hiding there... on top of the oil tank behind the pipes. You see, we played in the dark, increasing the average game from 10-15 seconds to 1-2 minutes. Spying this primo spot, I concluded that if I lay on top of the tank, pressed up against the wall and remained motionless, I would never be seen unless someone actually climbed up to look. What made it great was the fact that the pipes made it look like no one could even fit back there; however a scrawny little master hider like myself could, and did. Thus enters point number 2 of your blog..... the long boring wait to be found. I must have been up there nearly a half hour at least before the seeker went away, allowing me to escape without giving away my position. I think I must have used that spot four or five times before I either got found, or got so sick of waiting to be found I just jumped up and yelled "ALRIGHT, I'M HERE ALREADY!" I don't remember which it was.
But as we got a little older, we had a new game to play. This new game was the epitome of survivalism. It was Ringalerio, and it was Uber-Hide and Seek, on a grand level. The playing field: The entire block. Every backyard, every bush, every deck crawlspace, no rules except one: It had to be on the block. It was riddled with dangers: chain link fences, barking dogs, irate homeowners, you name it. And I was the master. This was around the time the Rambo movies were coming out, and I fancied myself the ex-marine on the run from authorities. Nobody found me. And I waited. A long time. But the giddy feeling I felt knowing I bested my enemies more than made up for the hours spent in thorn bushes, buried in leaves and crunched under decks.

Blogging in the New Year

Hello my faithful and resilient readers! Thank you all for patiently awaiting my return from Blog-hiatus; I know I have been negligent in my writing duties, but on top of the usual "Holidays are crazy" business, the truth is: nothing much has been going on, at least nothing blog-worthy. However, I did want to drop in and say that I'm still very much alive, and will hopefully be blogging in full force in the upcoming weeks.
I also wanted to give a big thanks to my closest friends that made my first New Years bash a fun and festive event. Not all of my good friends could make it unfortunately, but our thoughts were with them nonetheless. Thanks to Linda, Tim, Rich & Jill & the kids Emily and Josh, Michelle, Toni, Liz & son Alex, Steve, Sue and Joe for choosing to spend their New Years with me. Special honorary mention goes out to Steve's wife Sue, who sacrificed her night to watch the kiddies so that Steve may join us. Despite having three kids in my incredibly un-kid-friendly apartment, injuries were minimal, structural damage was much less than anticipated and noise levels were.... well, OK, it was damned noisy. But having learned from previous New Years parties that it is wise to hold back on the noisemakers until the last minute when kids are involved, we were able to avoid having the neighbors call the police. The new 67" TV accommodated everyone well, although Regis's huge-honkin head is even scarier in wide screen, especially when attempting to sing. Almost everyone managed to leave something at my place interestingly enough, regardless of their state of intoxication. Sadly, undergarments were not among the items left behind. And if there's one thing we all learned that night, one thing that we could take home with us, it was the knowledge that Peter Gabriel has finally gone of the deep end.
One last note: The Paulanoma blog now has a confirmed 8 total readership, with an estimated 10! These numbers are indeed staggering, and increasing every year! I hope to hit a cool dozen by the end of the decade. Until then, keep warm, keep cool, and have a very wondrous and exciting new year!

(Addendum: Does anyone else find it ironic that the Spellcheck on a BLOG-specific website does not recognize the word 'blog'??)