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Exit ArchiveArchive for November, 2004

Off to London tomorrow afternoon. Brrrrrrrr!

OK, now comes my least favorite time of year. No, not Christmas. I pretty much like Christmas.

What I hate is that cloying question, “What do you want?”

These are supposed to be presents, folks … as in surprises. Remember when you were a kid and you thought you had a pretty good idea what was in those boxes and you hoped you were right, but you didn’t know for sure until the morning? And remember how long Christmas Eve felt because you were so excited to find out what Santa brought you … not to mention your aunts and uncles and relatives? You had no idea! If you were bad, like me, sometimes you even opened one or two of the packages carefully and skillfully (or, at least, as carefully and skillfully as a 9-year-old can do) and just quickly, daringly peeked inside!

Now, all I hear from my parents, from my sister, from my not-in-laws is, “What do you want for Christmas?” My mom even gets kind of angry if I don’t have an answer, as if I am making her life difficult. I try to start out every year with the answer, “Whatever you think I might like.” Ultimately, I get beaten down and have to start making lists: a sportcoat, a Dustbuster, a book, a digital camera (hey, it worked last year!), etc.

But in reality, what I’d really love is if no one asked and instead went out shopping with an eye toward what they think I might like. It’s kind of fun to unwrap presents with no clue as to what might be inside, and to find out my sister thought I’d like a fondue set or my father thought I might enjoy the biography of Lawrence Welk. They might be crappy gifts, they might be great gifts — it wouldn’t matter. What would matter is knowing they put some thought into what I might like, that I was on their mind when they saw that particular shirt or that particular book and said, “I bet he’d like that!”

One year, my dad got me a Stephen King book. Just a paperback, nothing expensive. When I unwrapped it, he had a huge grin on his face (and a grin on a father’s face is almost as good as a dog rolling over for a belly scratch) and said, “I know you like Stephen King.”

In fact, I hate Stephen King. I can’t stand his writing and think his books are all too long by about 350 pages. But I read that book, and I tried to like it, and that present meant a lot to me because my dad had picked it out with no “help” from me. It wasn’t on a list, it wasn’t a special request, I didn’t tell him what I wanted after days of badgering. He just bought it because he saw it and thought (even if wrongly), “Oh, I’ve got to get him that.”

That is the best kind of present. One bought and presented with love and care, not on demand.

Do Disney soundtracks count as “show tunes”? Thanks to the 40th anniversy of a certain film I can’t name (Mary Poppins) I just bought my third copy of the aforemention unmentionalble film’s (Mary Poppins) soundtrack. Damn you Disney! I hope it’s not, technically, considered “show tunes.” I’d hate being a cliche. Although, I do LOVE Barbara (Eden, of course).

I am soon to leave for the airport. Off to New York for TuHanksGiving. Yes, it’s a red-eye, so I don’t get in until 9:30 tomorrow morning. Oh, and I get to fly through Pittsburgh! What’s in Pittsburgh?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Ladies and Gentlemen…

No, really, ladies and gentlemen…

I HAVE FINISHED. I have finished painting the apartment. As of right now, the kitchen is done, and I have nothing more to paint. Mostly. But, no, really, I am done. DONE. I can not stress this enough, as I have been stressed about it. So it took longer than I ever thought it would, but I’ve been doing other crap to make the apartment a better and more enjoyable living experience as well, and, gosh, it’s just been a monstrous project.

And, my God, it’s painted. Now when I return from Thanksgiving, I will not walk in to floors filled with brushes and buckets and rollers and cans of God-damned Olympic Premium interior eggshell latex paint in Blue Thistle and Candlelit Beige. The hardest part is over.

No, really. It’s painted. Honestly. No more bitching from me about how “Oh, I can’t today. I have to paint the apartment,” or, “I am so sick of painting the apartment.”

Trust me, Rodney, I have wanted to in fact shred the apartment numerous times in the last many weeks.

No, really. Damn, it feels good!

How is it possible that The Amazing Race just gets better and better every season? It may be TV’s finest offering … ever.


(Okay, I changed the headline, but the article is real.)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Reuters) — A pod of dolphins circled protectively round a group of New Zealand swimmers to fend off an attack by a great white shark, media reported on Tuesday.

Lifesavers Rob Howes, his 15-year-old daughter Niccy, Karina Cooper and Helen Slade were swimming 100 metres (300 feet) off Ocean Beach near Whangarei on New Zealand’s North Island when the dolphins herded them — apparently to protect them from a shark.

“They started to herd us up, they pushed all four of us together by doing tight circles around us,” Howes told the New Zealand Press Association (NZPA).

Howes tried to drift away from the group, but two of the bigger dolphins herded him back just as he spotted a three-meter (nine feet) great white shark swimming towards the group.

“I just recoiled. It was only about 2 meters (6 feet) away from me, the water was crystal clear and it was as clear as the nose on my face,” Howes said.

“They had corralled us up to protect us,” he said.

The lifesavers spent the next 40 minutes surrounded by the dolphins before they could safely swim back to shore.

The incident happened on October 30, but the lifesavers kept the story to themselves until now.

Environment group Orca Research said dolphins attacked sharks to protect themselves and their young, so their actions in protecting the lifesavers was understandable.

“They could have sensed the danger to the swimmers and taken action to protect them,” Orca’s Ingrid Visser told NZPA.

That form letter is hilarious, but shouldn’t you blot out portions of it. You never know who is reading your site. It makes me nervous (for you).

Permalink Comments Off on Radio ParadiseComments Off on Radio Paradise By

I am loving this one online radio station, Radio Paradise. I’ve been listening to it through iTunes, and it’s fantastic! Give it a whirl if you are bored.

In iTunes it’s under Radio > Alt/Modern Rock. There are 4 different stream qualities for your convenience.

Non-iTunes: Go to their website ( They have multiple Windows-crap listening options.

That’s it, that’s it!

It’s all over. The Virgin Mary contest is all over!

At $28,000, the winning bid is placed by … an online casino, naturally. Huh?

Find out what happened to the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich.

(Plus tremendous gratifaction if you know the oblique film reference made in the first two lines of this post.)

Lucy the dog

Hulo is this thing on????? Do you think Im perty?

Thinking more about the “weighty topic,” here are some things that ran through my head:

For all of the good that the Internet has accomplished, it has made people lazy and surprisingly disinterested. It is difficult to get lots of people interested in one thing because the Internet allows each of us to find “our” thing, whether or not it’s what’s of general interest.

For instance, in the late 1950s, there was great fascination with the Space Race. (As late as 1974 I had a children’s card game called “Space Race,” even though man had already landed on the moon.) The evening news brought all of the latest developments. When something really exciting happened, newspapers printed “Extra” editions. No doubt, there were many people not particularly interested. (I watched an old episode of “The Simpsons” yesterday where Homer was singing “I’ve Got Love in My Tummy” while his father watched Neil Armstrong.) But overall, the idea was that this was the topic of most importance in the day.

Children learned about space at school. Book publishers and game makers created new products to feed the public’s fascination with space and landing on the moon. “Mrs. Baker” was a name everyone knew because she was the monkey who went into outer space.

It was that kind of fixation on one subject that also propelled the entertainment industry (movies like “Forbidden Planet” and shows like “The Twilight Zone” grew directly from this fascination), not to mention things as disparate as food (Tang, anyone?) and clothing (nylon — the wonder fabric of spacemen!). Disney built an entire cottage industry out of the public’s excitment over space.

Could such a thing happen today? Is it even imaginable? Look at what happened with the “X Prize” a few weeks ago — someone accomplished something that used to be thought impossible by building a private craft that went into space … and it got two minutes on the national news. There was very little attention focused on it.

Even the “war” we are fighting today hardly gets people worked up. Sure, lots of people think we shouldn’t be there (me among them) … but where are the rallies, the protests, the marches?

I’d argue that the Internet and cable are largely responsible, because everyone has too many (yes, too many) choices now. Choice isn’t wrong, don’t misunderstand me … but when I can decide if I want to watch an examination of the crisis in Iraq on “Frontline” or a repeat of “Three’s Company” on Nick@Nite or the umpteenth airing of Little Nicky on Showtime, who’s to say I watch what is “good for me” or even simply relevant to our society?

Choice is a very, very good thing. But when the choices make it impossible to figure out what’s important to know or understand … it’s easy to think that maybe we’re being overrun with choice, to our detriment.

Here’s a pretty interesting examination of why America makes sucky stuff.

I hate to put something above the cool topic John posted below, but, hey, the dynamic of The Wren Forum is like a river. Always flowing and changing!

Besides, who wouldn’t want to read a bunch of links about Macs?

First up: The opening of the first Apple Store in Europe. It’s in London, on Regent Street (I have a pic of Regent Street in the Europe Live thingy.) Apple has some pictures up from the opening this past Saturday, and the BBC has this fun article on the opening. What kind of crazy person would wait days in line for the opening of a store? Here are some first-hand accounts, a (long) movie scoping out the line, and the blog of Stormy Shippy (yes, it seems to be his real name), a guy from Texas who was the first in line. I’d rather Texas breed this kind of wacko than the W kind!

Then there’s the call for Apple to shorten its name; a USA Today examination of the Apple Stores’ success; and a near-doubling of Apple’s target stock price by PiperJaffray (who, I hear, also sells hand-made fruit jams, jellies, and preserves).

It’s a good day to love Macs!

We had a friend of Jeff’s over for dinner tonight, a guy in his late 40s who incited some fascinating and inconclusive conversation. So, I pose to you, the readers of the illustrious and world-renowned Wren Forum, the same questions we pondered while dining on ham, sweet potatoes and homemade (yes, homemade — in this home by these hands) apple pie.

We started by talking about Disney, not surprisingly, and Jim (Jeff’s friend) asked what I thought about the state of the company. (As an aside, it’s amazing to me that for a company that is doing well financially, even people who don’t follow it closely sense there’s something still wrong there.) I said that I thought the company had lost its way and that when Walt Disney died, it was on the brink of becoming, in many ways, the first “new-technology” company. Disney invested all of the profits from movies, TV shows and theme parks into things like the PeopleMover and the Monorail and Imagineering, and was always looking for third-party companies whose technology showed promise for the future. He was fascinated by “the future.”

That got us talking about how in the 1950s, ’60s and even through the ’70s and ’80s, Americans still had a sense of awe and excitement. Whether it was the Iran hostages or the wonders of space flight or the Challenger’s accident or “Who Shot J.R.?” or the mysteries of the “atomic age,” we had a “collective conscious” that doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

We seem to have lost the ability to be fascinated by things, to be excited about the future, to celebrate ourselves (think of the 1984 Olympics). Maybe, we said, that is a positive sign — it means we’re not engaging in “group think” and that we are individuals who just happen to be together rather than a collective society that just happens to be made up of individuals. After all, the argument went, there was perhaps too much homogeneity when everyone watched the same TV shows, bought the same cars and relied on the same companies.

On the other hand … there’s something lost when our society no longer has a collective goal — whether it’s getting man on the moon or freeing the Iranian hostages or getting ourselves out of an energy crisis or all going to Disneyland. For all we talk about movies being “blockbusters,” for instance, “Titanic” proved that a $600 million gross is only the low end of what could be possible if a film seized the popular consciousness.

We began wondering if our society is better or worse off for not having the ability to be awed by concepts. Remember World’s Fairs, for instance? They were held to showcase all of the marvelous things and people that we had yet to discover and explore. (The 1970s concept of EPCOT Center was, you’ll recall, a “permanent world’s fair” — and perhaps the reason Epcot today suffers as a theme park is that we’re not able to get the masses properly excited about our place in the world and the prospects of the future.)

I began wondering if the election was a sign of exactly this problem (if it actually is a problem) — we’re so fractionalized, so marginalized, so divided, that there is no commonality anymore. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing is something we weren’t able to conclude …

I sent an e-mail tonight to a recruiter from Visa telling her to take my name out of contention for a director-level job with the company in San Francisco.

It’s funny how easy it is to get fixated on something — for me, it’s that I’m not at the level or at the salary I think I should be. But after thinking about it a long time, I realized that I should be really grateful to have the job that I’m in — it’s one I love, despite the headaches it may cause, and one that I was thrilled to get. I should see it through to the end. And, really, there’s not much better than working on “Star Wars” and getting the chance to travel as much as I do. I’d love to have a bigger salary and a better title, but I suppose it’s the trade-off I make!

Sigh. Why can’t anything be easy?

Is Linda and John still reading? I wanted to make a comment but I didn’t want to waste it unless it was being heard for I am at risk of getting called a dickhead in these territories.

I hate being sick. I felt myself coming down with a cold on Wednesday afternoon, and started popping vitamin C, hoping for the best — but it didn’t work.

Went to L.A. on Wednesday night (I’ve gotta stop doing that — it’s like seeing an ex and falling in love all over again when you do, which is just too difficult — but I don’t have a choice here), and stayed in the ultra-crappy Holiday Inn on the 405. You know, the round one right on the freeway. And I do mean RIGHT ON THE FREEWAY. Got about two hours’ worth of sleep.

Spent the day at the Fox Studios, and by the time we met up at LAX for dinner (Encounter — way overpriced and not all that delicious), I was hurting. Woke up this morning, which is the day of a big offsite meeting that’s been planned for weeks, barely able to move. I feel lousy.

I really, really hate being sick. The dogs are laying on the sofa bored out of their minds, and Jeff is working and I’m home doing nothing at all. So, I just thought I’d rant.

Found this gem on one of the internets. As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share it in the spirit of togetherness:

The election is over, the results are known,
the will of the people has clearly been shown.

Let’s forget the quarrels and show by our deeds,
we will give our leader all the help that he needs.

So let’s all get together and let bitterness pass.
I’ll hug your elephant and you kiss my ass.

The final letter from Ms. Harvey:


I will not take up a lot of your time, but I want to make a couple of key points that I hope you will seriously consider.

Everything you say is in the definitions.You’ve said you know you were born gay, so to you that’s who you are. You believe God loves you the way you are, and that you learn about Jesus and his love of tolerance, temperance, etc.

This is crucial–are you sure you are learning about the real Jesus? One of us is right and one is wrong. In my study of neopaganism, I’ve learned some very troubling things being taught in self-labeled Christian churches. The Bible is pretty much dismissed. Other paths to God are accepted. The problem with all this is that, it leads in circles of confusion, theologically.Among the many, many self-contradictory issues that this raises are, Ii we don’t turn to the Bible, how is sin defined? Your definition and mine may be totally different–even in conflict. Who then is right, if we believe in “equality”?( This is, by contrast, easily resolved if we both report to the same boss, and we turn to Scripture as our guide).

Why did the Jews so carefully preserve the Scriptures for all that time, if they aren’t worth anything, or if we can pick and choose what out of them we want to believe? And, the message in the Old and New Testaments is from the same God–His goodness and truth are in both, with a lot of consistency. They weave a pretty consistent picture taken together.

There are counterfeit spirits that masquerade as the Holy Spirit, and Scripture tells us that only God’s Word (i.e., Scripture) will keep us on track. Satan and demonic spirits can appear as “angels of light.” ( 2 Corinthians) This is what is happening in many Christian churches. Acceptance of sexual sin clearly prohibited in Scripture is a signal that an authentic gospel is probably not being taught.

I don’t know what else to say to you. But deception can seem very appealing in the short run.

Please consider this and read your Bible! It’s the only sure way to know the Lord. Your reading of Scripture will reveal to you if something is off track.

God bless you.