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Exit ArchiveArchive for January, 2006
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What little can we do when something tragic happens? With my heart shrouded and my mind unable to grasp such sadness, the only thing I could do today, feeble as it is, was add a bit of bright yellow to remind us all how important the light we give to each other can be, even if brief.

I know you won’t see this, maybe for a long time, and I’ll probably have the chance to tell you in person before you do, but I have to tell you today that my heart is with you both.

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While I’m stuck here waiting for my PowerBook’s new hard drive to fill itself back up with my old hard drive, I wanted to share something with everyone.

On Wednesday, four of us from work went on a field trip to Santa Monica to research high definition monitors at a store there. Beforehand, we went to lunch at El Cholo. It was very delicious, and though I’ve passed it by many times and wondered, “I wonder, is their food any good?” I have never stopped in. Sadly, I now know I’ve wasted years of happy Mexican food eating at a place local to me.

But that’s not the point.

The point is I now have a bag of El Cholo’s truly yummy pecan pralines. They are made with sugar, butter, corn syrup, and pecans, and nothing else. They are little hardened blops of delight! What makes eating them so much more interesting is that, when you open the bag and go in to take a sniff, you get the unmistakable aroma of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.

“This man has become too unstable for public consumption.” No, really. It’s true. The smell may be sweeter, but it is definitely of the same phylum. I do a double-sniff each time I open the bag, because I simply can not believe it to be true.

I will have the bag with me this weekend if anyone cares to snuffle.

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As if the monkey link weren’t enough, I have here some more links—a few good and one bad—for your cyberspace pleasure.

First off, witness Robb’s clever CSIing of a note he found in a parking lot. The note itself is fantastic, but Robb’s analysis is funny.

Then it’s off to Canada, where Nettwerk Records is defending an family against the RIAA. Hooray for taking a stand!

But then there’s California, who’s suing Rock Star Games for hiding that blistering hot java module (not it’s real name) in their Grand Theft Auto game. While in essence I agree that Rock Star should not have hidden it there and thus misled the consumer and the ratings board, the headline of this Wired article says it all. The game is pretty nasty, and yet somehow it was the sex that would give it an Adult rating, not all the killing and drug dealing and pimping.

Okay, if you’ve gone this far, you may as well read this great article about Steve Jobs and Disney. I posted it in a comment yesterday, but it’s good enough to exhume for display here.

After some aggravating, disheartening posts, here’s one that’s funny! Oh, except that it’s true. Oh, well.

Dance, Monkeys, Dance!

Just ran cross this interesting post today on Seems that while the suits have been fixating on Pixar, their true lack of understanding and appreciation of the characters that built their company has been increasingly apparent at Disneyland.

I haven’t been to Disneyland in years. Strange to say that. (I just marked my third anniversary of moving to Northern California, and am still in denial.) But it seems that Disneyland truly is a house of cards. Just as one area gets fixed, another falls apart, all due to years of neglect.

But the state of Toontown appears to be truly tragic.

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Today has seen quite a collection of annoying news. Why most of it has come from Ars Technica is anyone’s guess, but I love the site, so why not?

If you thought the TSA was a giant boondoggle, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet; Meet the Registered Traveler program

Broadcast Flag praised, panned in Senate hearing

Google bows to Chinese demands

CIFA: The Pentagon’s very own domestic surveillance program

And on that last note (domestic spying), there was a terrifying interview with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on NPR yesterday. (Follow the link, then click on the Listen icon under the headline to hear how totally twisted our government is.) Thankfully, Michele Norris, whom I normally find annoying, pulls no punches in her questioning. What’s so sleazy about Gonzales’ answers is his use of positive phrases like, “That’s a good question,” and, “You’re absolutely right,” before launching into answers supporting stomach-turning policies.

There is so much wrong with all of these issues that I can hardly stand it. The Ars articles are wonderfully biased in pointing out such problems, and if you can’t pick out the issues with domestic spying in the NPR interview, you must be too far gone to be helped.

For those that have experienced the all-consuming pain of deeply loving someone who was almost right there with you but proved to be unwilling or unable to love you back in the same way – you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have strategically repeated every word, every move, every laugh, and every step in each crafted moment together in hopes for that perfectly dealt hand to win that happily.ever.after - you’ll feel it when you see this movie. 

For those that have foolishly once believed in love running so deep, it could compensate any empty cups brought to the table by him – you’ll feel it when you see this movie.

My barely English speaking mom asked about Brokeback Mountain and when she’d be able to purchase it at her local Sam’s Club. My friend asked me to download an illegal copy and burn it for her because her pastor husband won’t let her go see it but she really wants to.

Yes, it was slow paced. Yes, it was detached.  Yes, it was intentional. Yes, that prevented some from being drawn in. Yes, its not a movie for everyone. Yes, some folks are just hop-ons to the band wagon.

Felicity Huffman’s Golden Globe speech felt like a spin-off from the Brokeback phenomenon. “I know as actors our job is usually to shed our skins. But in I think as people our job is to become who we really are. And so I would like to salute the men and women who brave ostracism, alienation, and a life lived on the margins to become who they really are.”

No energy to tie it all together.

I loved it.

It seems we are so close to buying Pixar we can smell it. I am at once excited and wary. Pixar has been the only one making guaranteed animated hits for us lately. The reason their movies are hits is because they care about story and character and concentrate on the elements a company like, oh, say, Disney, easily lets fall by the wayside in order to make money.

Okay, that’s a bit harsh. I think we’ve done some good animated films that have not been hits. Treasure Planet was a very good movie, beautiful, engaging, fun… but a flop. Yet I know for a fact that those in charge at Disney often make suspect creative choices either because they need to relieve the pressure to make money or because they are idiots who have no clue what good product is. Or both.

So I am excited that Pixar is now going to be part of the company I work for, but also wary that, by losing their independence, they’ll succumb the the Hollywood Crap Disease from which most product made here suffers.

UPDATE: After digesting this entire deal, I am very excited. In fact, there’s a must-read article at Business Week with in-depth discussion of Steve Jobs at Disney. This article got me even more excited than I had been. All us Apple wonks are biding our time, barely able to contain ourselves as we wait for Apple to release whatever it’s gonna release for a media-convergence machine. (I’m also waiting for Apple’s cell phone strategies to make my life better than this Cingular hell I am living in now, but that’s another story. Actually, no it isn’t…)

The best computer maker combined with Walt Disney… My God, the possibilities are enormous(e)! (Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.)

Hopefully we won’t get into the Sony quagmire, though, where the consumer electronics arm is constantly battling the entertainment arm over the future of digital fun.

So much to say about the previous posts on Brokeback, but it’s time to rant. Here’s the e-mail I sent to Delta today:

I was just on the Delta site to look into booking a flight. I logged in to check my SkyMiles balance just for reference, and saw that all my miles have been deleted. I immediately called your toll-free number and was informed by a woman on the phone that there is a three-year period wherein if there is no activity on my account, the account is deleted.

Obviously, the account is not deleted as I still have access to it. I can only assume she meant that after 3 years of inactivity, my miles expire.

I was never sent any mail regarding this action. I was not sent warning that I would lose my 23,400 miles.

After some questions to the woman on the phone, she transfered me to someone in the customer service department. I asked this woman the same questions, to which I got no satisfactory answer. “Perhaps this is not the program for you,” was what I was told.

In this day where airlines have cut back service to the barest minimum and where airline customer satisfaction, as a result, is plummeting, I can only wonder why your program would do something like this without some effort being made to keep my business. My reasons for not flying Delta in a while have to do with work–our company tends to send us on United thanks to corporate bargaining–and price. I have not found any Delta flights to be the cheapest in some time and so have taken other airlines.

Perhaps you feel my taking the cheapest flight I can find proves the point that you airlines need to cut back on services to make money and to remain competitive. IN fact, since all the airlines now pretty much have hit bottom, there is nothing else left to choose one airline over another. United may have the worst leg room on their flights, which would lead me to take American, but American charges outrageous prices for crappy food, even of cross-country flights. You all have made your deals with the devil, and so we shafted consumers have no perk to choose from except lowest price.

After building up my miles for a while, now to see you’ve sucked them all away from me, I have no choice but to get angry at you. I have no incentive to fly you now, knowing that if my travel does not take me on your airline for a randomly-chosen period of time (you can not argue that three years was a scientifically-chosen expiration period) that a nicety like miles will get taken away, just as other details of the flying experience have vanished with your sole concern for bottom dollar.

I won’t fly Delta now. I’ll go to another airline where I have miles and put up with their lack of service just because I am not as angry at them as I am of you now.

The customer comes last, despite the friendly face you put on, and so I can only do the one thing left to me: Not fly your airline again. Good luck with your bankruptcy.

I did not proofread it, which I’m sure is an issue, but they’ll respond with the same bullshit every other company does. Which makes the apology from American Airlines I got after the Thanksgiving problem even more special. (And even more special because I just used those apology miles to book a flight to Austin for my friend Min’s wedding!)

DAMMIT! Now my blockquote formatting is all messed up. WHEN will I have the time to fix all these tiny errors? 🙁

UPDATE: Ah ha! It’s the WordPress update. Blockquotes don’t work in any of the themes. SIGH!

AGAIN: So I’ll just gonna gotta add the

tags myself. Fanfriggintastic.

AGAIN WITH THE UPDATES: Read Delta’s heartfelt response here.

Real quick, ’cause I’m still strapped for time:

Seems the Shenzhen Network Police (Chinese Internet cops) opened shop on January 1. They have created two cute little cop characters that will be showing up on websites to remind you that you are being watched. You can even click on them and talk live to an Internet Cop.

Read about it at See the icon at work for yourself on this Chinese site. (Also note the tiny little animated cop icon on the bottom of the page.)

Scary stuff.

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For Your Information: I will be upgrading WordPress (the underlying structure of The Wren Forum) to a very new version, 2.0. While this is happening, some of the wonderful features you’re used to, such as spell check and live preview, will be turned off. If things go horribly awry, I’ll go back to version 1.5.2.

UPDATE: Well, that went well, though many fancy additions I’d included are not working. I’ll have to get on that tomorrow. However, there are many wonderful new features behind the scenes, so if you write posts here, have fun!

Here is one of the most surprising, fascinating reviews of Brokeback Mountain I have yet seen: says it is “a site of film appreciation, information, and criticism informed by Christian faith.” You’d think the movie would bash Brokeback Mountain. And, indeed, at first glance the reviewer gives the movie an “F” for “overall recommendability.”

Yet …

Read the review.

Go ahead. Read it now. Seriously. Then come back to this.

I mean it:


Now that you’re back, is it not possible that this shows, in some ways, that at least some conservatives might be coming around to the idea that love is good, even if you don’t understand it? Keep in mind, most of his objections revolve not around the idea of a gay romance, but of marital infidelity.

In some ways, this review has left me reeling.

It’s one of those afternoons in which the sky has been threatening to open up all day but has yet to actually do so. I spent the day driving to the new house (which is 30 miles from the current one) to meet a contractor to talk about building a fence. What I hoped would be a project of $1,000 or so to build a fence in the yard to give the dogs an area to romp has turned into a $4,000 “event” — at a house we will rent. As my boss says, though, if we are doing this for the dogs, we just have to remember that we wouldn’t bat an eye if one of them got hurt and we had to pay the vet $4,000.

Still, I’m learning that renting a house is far different than renting an apartment! I’m not sure we’re quite ready to live in a place that’s 2,800 square feet!

To Steve’s previous mention of Brokeback Mountain, let me clarify: I did not dislike it. But I did find myself curously unmoved, admiring the scenery, the performances and the machinations of the plot more than finding myself engage by them. I wondered to myself whether Ang Lee, if he ever were to hear of my reaction, would not be unsurprised. He seemed, to me at least, to bring a sense of detachment to the story, almost as if he were as detached from the emotional side of the love affair as Ennis and Jack had to make themselves in order to survive. Just as he did in The Wedding Banquet and Hulk (two of the only movies of his I’ve seen — and I was one of the few who thought Crouching Tiger was terribly overrated), Lee seemed to bring an almost clinical perspective to the story of Brokeback even while keeping it absolutely, stunningly beautiful; it was if the characters most certainly felt their emotions, but that Lee was only observing them, rather than commenting on them.

My reaction is no way intended as criticism. I will not be disappointed if Brokeback wins, on a completely “industry” level; I wll be very happy if it does from the perspective of a gay man (one who, sadly, did indeed involve himself in an affair with a straight man a number of years ago — two, actually; both of them are now married, to the best of my knowledge). Nonetheless, I believe Good Night, and Good Luck. is the movie most deserving of the Best Picture Oscar this year. It’s made with a truly artistic flair, tells a “socially important” story with incredible skill, and delivers an amazing “punch” right at the end that suddenly makes the story’s relevance to today’s society all too clear. It has great performances and, most of all, is entertaining and not filled with faux intellectualism. (That is not, by any means, a glancing reference to Brokeback, but to another movie that happens to star George Clooney that I found intolerable.)

Although Steve wasn’t he, a friend of mine asked me the other day what my five choices for best movie of the year are. No, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith is not among them. But, for arguments’ sake, here they are:

1) Good Night, and Good Luck.
2) In Her Shoes*
3) The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
4) Brokeback Mountain (which should settle any claims that I dislike it)
5) The Weather Man*

* I missed these two in theaters, having been misinterpreted a lack of financial success to mean a lack of quality. I caught up with both of them on DVD, thanks to a friend in the Academy. Both are stunning. In Her Shoes deserves serious consideration as Best Picture. The Weather Man won’t be for everyone, but those who can identify with a feeling of being incomplete despite outward signs to the contrary — as well as those who like strangely depressing comedies — may like it as much as I did.

For Those Manly Ouchie-Poos

It’s too late. Jeff is in L.A. I’m at home with the dogs. They need baths.

I need to be up in the morning far too early because a rock hit my windshield and caused a crack, and because my insurance deductible is $500 I have to pay it out of pocket.

It’s been a while since I wrote on here. So I’ll launch the new year (plus 11 days) with some random stuff:

* Why did I not think Brokeback Mountain was “all that,” though I admit it was pretty good.

* I found out over the holidays that a friend of mine is HIV-positive. It’s amazing how people can give up on life thanks to a basically invisible virus.

* The dogs smell and need baths.

* We’re moving. We sold the house, I made a pretty substantial profit, and we’re going to become renters for a while.

* I don’t like moving.

* Oddity: I dislike avocados intensely but discovered something I had forgotten about myself: I like guacamole.

* The Chronicles of Narnia was much better than it had any right to be.

* King Kong proves that money does not equal quality.

* I have dry skin and it itches.

* The dogs smell and need baths.

* Buying on the Internet is way too much fun.

* I’ve learned in the past week that managing other people is a very different task than managing your own damned self.

* Steve may be the only other person I know who likes Monopoly; I always imagined I was alone.

* The more money you have, the faster it goes.

* The dogs smell and need baths.

Good night.

I have to admit that I have been excited about this morning’s Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld for days. DAYS. It’s horrifying, but true.

The keynote has begun but before all the exciting stuff is announced, I wanted to invite you to go to this site to see a funny clip taking audio from Bill Gates’ CES keynote, where he’s talking about Windows Vista, and marrying it to video of Mac OS X already doing the things Bill’s so dad-gum excited about.

Now, on to Steve…

UPDATE: So nothing too thrilling on the multi-media front from Stevie J. After going to CES, I can say that Microsoft and the rest are finally getting it. Using the Xbox 360 over vacation showed me that Microsoft is ready to pounce big time on merging the Web, multimedia, the PC and the living room. So is Apple, but Front Row is not exactly ready. Though I know for certain that Steve-o has got stuff up his sleeve where Front Row and the video iPod are merely precursors. Tantalizing visions of what Apple has in store for us!

Now, the Intel PowerBook! Er, I mean, MacBook. I am excited that I can finally replace my 12″ PowerBook with something faster, though I’ll wait for the 12″ MacBook to come out. A 15″ would be nice, but I love the 12″ size. What I’m NOT too happy about is this whole name change. I understand Apple wanting to get the Mac name in the name of the product, but PowerBook is such an iconic name. Everyone knows what a PowerBook is. MacBook is pretty obvious, too, but doesn’t sound as cool as PowerBook. I also guess, since this first Intel portable is a MacBook Pro, we can expect the iBooks to soon be re-named simply MacBook once they have Intel added.

The built-in iSight and the new magnetic power cord thingy are simply wonderful perks.

Oh, and I told Ken not to worry about his brand-new iMac being outdated. Sure, the new dual-core Intel iMac is much faster than his computer, but his G5 iMac still screams! And he’s loving it, certainly enjoying it over the PC he was using. Hooray.

I’d go into the updates to iWork, which affects me at work quite a bit, but that’s boring. (Though we already have ours on order… I’m such a good employee!) How about that iPod remote/FM tuner add-on? Golly gee!

Okay, the keynote is over and the Intel switch has begun. Now I gotta WORK!

My trip home has been delayed by a happy coincidence: The huge Consumer Electronics Show is happening in Vegas starting tomorrow, and as I was already driving through and Marcy is here with a room with two beds and Disney is being too cheap this year to send me (well, they’ve never sent me, but that’s no excuse), I am crashing. Yes, I’m crashing CES. Should be fun.

But I am so tired. I’ve had no sleep on this trip, and now I get to walk around the biggest trade show in the universe (no, really) trying to have the energy to do so with perk and vim.

So why am I not sleeping? Because I have two pictures to post, and because Sven is here, too, and I’m gonna go meet him for dinner. Cashews, Grape Nuts, and Swedish Fish have been my sole source of sustenance today, so I get to go out for a meal on Disney (or Fox).

Here’s only one view from the spectacular drive through Utah today:

Somewhere in Utah

Okay, not a terribly spectacular pic, but I loved the cloud patterns. Trust me, it was much more beautiful in person. Yes, the pic was taken going 80mph on I-15 with my real phone. And everyone told me to drive safely. Oops! At least I wasn’t holding the camera out my sun roof. Now that would have been dangerous!

Marcy’s is staying at The Four Seasons in Vegas, so I, by proxy, am doing so as well. Here’s what the view from our 36th floor room looks like. That tower is THEhotel (don’t get me started on the stupid capitalization issues), which happens to be the hotel Carol, Steve, Marcy and I stayed at when we came out to Vegas several months ago.

A Big, Fat View

So far, The Four Seasons is a very nice hotel (duh), and I’m sure they wondered why this scruffy guy in jeans and a dented Civic was checking in.

Because I’m MONEY, baby, that’s why!

Being worn out from the day, I fell asleep by 8:30pm, while screening a work-related DVD on my computer, and with my desk lamp on and bedroom door wide-open exposing my fully lit closing scene – Me in bed, cuddled with my blankets, still in my work clothes, exhausted. At one point, perhaps around 11ish, I woke up briefly and thought to myself, I should get up, turn things off, wash up and get undressed but instead I drifted right back to my dream…


… I was jumping from roofhouse tops to roofhouse tops (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon indeed) trying to find my way back home. I say trying because it was quite dark and I wasn’t quite used to the bird’s eye view yet so my path was unsure. Still, with no time to loose, I swiftly moved forward – with the belief that your destination unfolds itself when moving about rather than standing still. With loose debree crashing to the ground and dogs barking in the night, I finally made my way back to my room. Sensing that I might have an audience still, I immediately jumped into bed, not wanting anyone to notice just how hard I’ve tried in getting there. But at the same time, since I didn’t want people to NOT notice me, I deliberately left the lights on. As I waited and waited for someone to visit, I began getting frustrated at my dilemma. How do I let people know that I’m home without announcing it like the needy kid that I am.

Just then, I heard someone approach. I turned over. It was my mother… and as she has said many times before in my youth, she sternly but compassionately ordered, “Go to sleep. It’s late. I’m gonna turn off your lights and your computer for you.”

With that I woke up to see that indeed, my computer was still running, my lights still on, and it was now 1:30am. Half expecting my mother as well, I was dissappointed to realize that she was back home on the east coast and nowhere near to urge me to get proper rest.

And so I’m up now… wondering about my next move.

For life unfolds when you are moving about, not when standing still.