Monday, July 29, 2002

To Mr. & Mrs. Proud Minivan American:

Thank you for all your support since September 11th. It meant a lot back in October when you picked up your $5.99 plastic American flag at K-Mart to put on your car. I know it was quite a sacrifice to have to take down the "Go Lakers!" flag to make room for the Red, White & Blue. On behalf of all red-blooded Americans, I salute your courage. But you know what? That flag isn't red white and blue anymore. It's more of an orange, beige and teal. Old Glory might survive 110 stories of rubble crashing down upon her, but she's no match for 10 months of L.A. sunshine. So do us all a favor: take down the flag. Your patriotism is well-noted.


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Monday, July 22, 2002

Ours is bigger than Yours

We'll get to the rant in a minute. Stay with me.

So they announced six proposals for rebuilding the World Trade Center site. I seem to be agreeing with public polls which favor the "Memorial Park" and "Memorial Promenade" concepts. The six designs are all very conservative, which is probably not a bad way to go, but I would have liked to have seen some bold architectural options. (Let's stop here for a minute to note how odd it is that the new plans call for towers ranging from 60-80 stories and we are calling them "conservative"). If it was up to me, I'd build one mongo 150-story tower as a giant "screw you" message to the world. But, I recognize that it would be difficult to make a building like that profitable, so I don't mind if they take the more conservative road.

Here's one thing I really like: all six plans call for at least one "1500 foot skyline element". That basically means a big pole sitting on top of the main tower(s). It just better be a structural element and not a radio antenna. Why is this important? Come, let's explore.

From the moment our furry ancestors first stood upright, man has always played the game of "mine's bigger than your's". For decades, the 102-story Empire State Building was the tallest building in the world (1252 feet). Then the 110-Story World Trade Center was built (1350 feet). A couple years later, Chicago's Sears Tower, also 110 stories, took the crown at 1450 feet. The United States was #1 in skyscrapers up until 1998, when the Petronas Towers were built. They soar 88 stories above the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Huh? How is an 88-story building taller than a 110 story building?

There is a Super Secret Society of architecture swamis who live on an island in the South Pacific, and they set up the rules to declare the World's Tallest Building. According to them, architectural spires count towards the height of a building, but television antennas do not. So even though the observation deck of the Sears tower is over 200 feet ABOVE the top floor of the Petrona towers, the Kuala Lumpur building has a big stick on top which brings its official height to 1483 feet. Chicago is not allowed to count the freaking huge TV antenna sitting on top of the 110th floor.

So when we rebuild the Wrold Trade Center, we need to make sure that we put a big stick on top of our buildings to hit the 1500 foot and reclaim the title of World's Tallest Building. We're Americans: ours should be bigger.


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Friday, July 19, 2002

Vanilla Sky

Some spoilers included.

I have wanted to see Vanilla Sky for a while now. Mostly because it looked like a very "New York" movie, and I heard that it was pretty original and had a lot of plot twists. I caught it this week on Pay-Per-View (PPV + TiVo = expensive situation). I heard that the commercials didn't really reflect the movie. Boy, is that an understatement.

Tommy Boy Cruise is disfigured in much of the movie. He also disfigures himself in Minority Report. He wears masks in Mission Impossible. I think he gets some perverse pleasure out of saying "look, I can play ugly people that look like you commoners, but at the end of the day A-HA! I'm still Tom Cruise and you're not!" Anyway, the problem with Vanilla Sky isn't that I didn't understand what was going on, but that I didn't CARE what was going on. Tommy Boy is sleeping with Cameron Diaz. Then Penelope Cruz. But Cameron IS Penelope. But not. Whatever. You'd think with all the Beautiful People involved they could make something entertaining to watch, but it's so overly stylized with a pop-musical score and first-year-film-student editing that the movie just becomes physically tiring.


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Sunny days, Muppets are turning gay

TEN PERCENT of the population of South Africa is HIV+. In an attempt to reflect the very real issues that children in that country have to deal with, the Children's Television Workshop is introducing an HIV+ muppet to the South Africa version of Sesame Street. They have no plans to discuss sex or drug abuse, they simply are trying to educate young kids about how they can cope with their world.

There are NO plans to introduce an HIV+ character in the U.S. None. Zippo. Nada.

However, Congress is already starting to get into an uproar. They are having meetings and sending letters to PBS threatening to cut funding if they bring this felt-covered-styrofoam ball into America. Sesame Street is supposed to be "safe" television for kids, right? And if an HIV+ muppet shows up, I'm sure our Congressmen will have their Nannies run into the living room, turn off the projection TV and send their grandchildren to their rooms to play Playstation instead. I suppose that's what will happen in South Africa too.

HIV is a serious problem in the U.S., but no where near the scale of South Africa. If it were, 2-3 children in every kindergarten class would become infected with HIV during their lives. But as of today, we can still shelter our children a bit and not have to worry too much about AIDS education in pre-school. There may come a time when the epidemic spreads even more, and we will need our Congress to jump in and prevent our kids from learning about tolerance, and acceptance, and personal safety. But that day isn't here yet. Don't they have something better to do these days?


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Wednesday, July 17, 2002


Steve Jobs usually stuns the world in his semi-annual MacWorld keynote address, with the latest advancements coming from Apple Computer. In today's keynote, he really didn't have that much to say. Which can mean only one thing:

The Macintosh is now perfect.


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My boss just came into my office and told me

"Your Blog sucks."

Nothing like a nice ego-booster to motivate you to work hard.


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Friday, July 12, 2002

Phlegm Flam

My boss's boss wanted to do a lunch run to this big soda store. We packed up six geeks in 2 cars and headed out. It is a pretty cool place to get lots of strange and unusual flavors of soda, but they were all out of Mountain Dew. Crikey. It looks like they have not changed the floors/shelves/walls in 40 years. Pretty cool. In the back of the store is a good old-fashioned Deli counter. It looked like the perfect place to eat lunch. No processed corporate chain food, just good-as-homemade-as-you-like-it sandwiches. I was very excited about it and enthusiastically suggested we eat there.

I watched in horror as one of my comrades ordered his sandwich. The woman behind the counter was obviously very sick, and couldn't go 10 seconds with giving a big wet slimey sniffle. Every now and then she would do the "scratch the nose with my forearm" move. What should I do? Should I warn the others, who were still busy browsing the soda aisles? Should I try to rescue my comrade who already ordered his sandwich, or just chalk him up as an acceptable loss? Maybe I'm the only the only one who noticed? Is it better to tell the others, or let them eat their lunch in blissful ignorance? But how could they snot notice?! Yet they are still ordering! Is it just me? Maybe I should just order my lunch and hope that not too many boogers fall onto the bread? Even if the meal is mucus-free, would I be able to bring myself to eat it? Should I just go hungry?

Well, I didn't go hungry. Fortunately, I completely lost my appetite and got a cheese sandwich back at the office 2 hours later. As for the four others who ordered, so far they are all alive and well.


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Thursday, July 11, 2002


I am a nervous flyer. I don't need to be drugged to get on an airplane and I don't go psycho in flight, but I really don't enjoy flying. Ironically, I feel most relaxed during take-off and landing, the most dangerous times, but I get spastic hitting turbulance mid-flight.

"We have nothing to fear but fear itself." And that's exactly what I'm afraid of. I'm afraid of fear. I'm not really worried about crashing. I'm worried about the plane ripping in half and getting sucked outside. (hey, it could happen.) If the plane crashes, I'll be gone instantly. But up until that very last split-second, while our 737 is nose-diving from 30,000 feet, there is always the chance that the pilot will recover the craft and bring us to safety. There is always hope. But if you get sucked out of the plane, you've got about 3 minutes of freefall. That's 3 minutes of absolutely postively 100% guaranteed knowledge that you don't have to worry about whether or not you left the iron on when you left the house. "They" say you'll black out first. Unless "they" have tried it themselves, "they" don't know what they're talking about.

Crashing is easy: Am I gonna make it? Am I gonna make it? Am I gonna... *crash* Getting sucked out of the plane is: I ain't gonna make it. I ain't gonna make it. I ain't gonna make it. For 3 minutes.

At that would just plain suck.


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Tuesday, July 09, 2002

15 Minutes

This weekend I saw the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in downtown Los Angeles. It's a great way to spend $10. Unfortunately, the tickets were $17. Mr. Burns basically shares my view of art: "I'm no critic, but I know what I hate. And I don't hate this." I'm not a big fan of Warhol, but I get what he's saying. My big gripe about galleries is that just because an artist makes something, that doesn't mean it's art. I'm convinced that half of the works in your typical artst gallery were never meant to be displayed. The artist was basically experimenting or just plain doodling, but because the paper was touched by Warhol or Picasso or Dali, suddenly it's stuck in an $8000 frame and high-society wanna-bes try to analyze it for it's deconstuctionist content.

Sometimes a Campbell's Soup can is just a Campbell's Soup can.


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Apparently I have a stalker.

I contacted this organization to find out if I have anything to really worry about, and what my options are. I have to answer a bunch of questions and provide them with whatever evidence I can give them. (I definitely have my guard up- as soon as they ask for an address, telephone number or credit card, I'm gone.) Fortunately, I have saved literally hundreds of threatening and harrassing messages I have received, and am trying to figure out the best way to pass them on.

Now here's the strange part. Most of the the messages involve some lies about me or are complaining about things I never did. As I'm organizing the messages to send out, I'm thinking to myself "I can't send them this, because they'll think that I'M the crazy one!" For every message I send, I feel like I have to put it in context. And the more I try to explain to them what's going on, the crazier I sound. But when you're reading hundreds of messages back to back, you actually start believing the lies yourself: "Maybe I really am the one with the problem?"

No. I'm not the crazy one. I'm not.

I'm not. I'm not. I'm not.


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Monday, July 08, 2002

Men In Bleak

The neuralizer is a device used to erase people's recent memories of alien encounters, so they won't remember anything unusual or disturbing. There must be a audience neuralizer in the in final scene of Men In Black II because as I left the theater I could already feel the movie slipping away from me. This film has less meat than a tofu salad. That's not necessarily a bad thing; the original was hardly Citizen Kane. But at least MIB 1 had a certain new and cool feel to it. The sequel runs purely on autopilot. There a few funny scenes, most notably with the pug, but it's not enough. Lara Flynn Boyle is too busy shooting tenticles out of her fingers up people's noses to ever be a true sci-fi vixen, and Rosario Dawson is simply doing her best Halle Berry impression. My advice? You know you have to see it, so save a few bucks and go see the matinee. When it's over, you'll feel unsatisfied but will still have plenty of time to catch the 7:00 showing of Minority Report the same day.


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