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Monday, April 04, 2005

OK. I just wrote a long...very long...post about recent movies. It was a damn good post and in it I mentioned many relevant things concerning who I am personally and it was also relevant to certain people who actually see this livejournal. But, because blogger is having some sort of problem, it was whiped out. It's now in some sort of oblivion along with many other posts that this has happend to. Then, I wrote a post similar to this, explaining how my post was lost. In it, there were PLENTY of curse words and choice explicatives. But that post, too, was whiped out. I can't keep writing and pouring myself out just to have some computer take it all away from me.

Therefore, that's it. I'm done with internet blogging. I'm doing my very best not to use any foul language because I don't think it's called for...for this is my last post. I'm sick and tired of losing posts, it's not worth the aggrevation of actually having posts make it. And why put myself through this torment if no one even reads what I have to say anyway?

I've had it with blogs. I'm done. I have a lot to say and if you want to know what it is I have to say, just ask me. But not here. Not anymore. I'm done.

Goodbye.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Happiest Place on Earth

Someone mentioned something to me the other day and since then I've been thinking about it non-stop. I have come to the conclusion that there are two absolute Goods in the world: God and Disneyland. God's a given, but Disneyland truly IS the happiest place on Earth.

I

LOVE

DISNEYLAND

And I always have. My parents tell me that on my very first visit to Disneyland, as we were watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, I looked up at them and said, "Mommy, Daddy, I don't EVER want to go home!" And while I don't remember that day, I believe the sentiment is still there. Disneyland kicks. Remember how I was talking about how I can never write a post that's all positive? Well, get ready, here comes a biggie...

Disneyland...where do I begin? Maybe I'll give you all a virtual tour. First, you park in Pinnochio...not Eyore, not Mickey...Pinocchio. Once you park, you stand in a horrendous line for tickets and then you have to dodge the people with cameras. This is possibly the only drawback to Disneyland, except for the crowds of people that show up on special occasions. But, of course all the hubbub doesn't even seem to matter once you go under that famous bridge and enter into another world. Walk down Main Street (stopping by the lockers, of course) and enjoy the early 20th century atmosphere. Listen to all of the sounds plugged in here and there and stop into the silent movie theater to catch glimpse of Mickey at his earliest. When you get to the main square, you have a few choices. To your left is Adventureland and Frontierland, respectively...and to your right is Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Of course, I can't wait to get to Adventureland, so we head there straight away. Once in Adventureland, it's like you're in a marketplace in India. Disney's knack for creating atmosphere is outstanding, and Adventureland is a prime example. When I was a kid, I truely felt like I was in a jungle...now I'm more pumped because we're in Indiana Jones territory. Yes, in Adventureland you can find the Indiana Jones Adventure Ride. This is only one of the greatest rides ever made...not only because it's a ride featuring my hero, Indiana Jones but...oh wait, yea that IS why it's awesome! And basically all of Adventureland fits right into the theme...it's like being in the Temple of Doom or something...and right across the way is a store that sells Indi paraphinalia, including hats (and I happen to own one). Of course, when you're done with Indi, The Jungle Cruise is right there, which is ALWAYS a classic. Sometimes you get good guides, and sometimes you don't. But, an interesting fact is that Bill Murray and Steve Martin were both guides on the Jungle Cruise before going onto SNL fame, so many of the jokes you hear on the tour are Murray and Martin originals. Of course, if you have a gal with you, the nighttime cruise might be more effective, so you might want to save this one for after hours ;-)
Then there's the Tiki Room, which is always a mystery to me. I mean, i've been in it and it's kind of cool, but I think it's been closed for a while. Anyway, if it's ever open, you should definitley give it a once over.

At the edge of Adventureland, right past the Tarzan Treehouse (formerly known as the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse) is New Orleans square. You might be tempted to go to your right and check out the Rivers of America and Tom Sawyer's island, but what you want to do is stay to your left because in just a few short feet, right under that bridge, is Walt Disney's favorite ride, The Pirates of the Caribbean. This one is another classic, of course. The ride's about 16 minutes long...and many will tell you it's not worth it...but I say to them, for shame! This ride is as classic as they come. Come on now...the dog with the key in it's mouth...the fat woman chasing the man (made PC by Gloria Alred)...the bride auction ("We want the redhead")..."Dead men tell no tales"..."A PIRATES LIFE FOR ME?!!" This ride is like a timecapsule...everytime I go on it I feel like I've always felt...it smells the same...it feels the same...it's like going into the past and I'm a kid again. Of course, the only other ride that does that for me is the very next ride you will experience...The Haunted Mansion. This ride is legitimately freaky at points. It starts out nice enough, with funny epitaphs inscribed on the tombstones in the front, but once you enter, you go into that famous room that expands and the classic Disney voiceover guy comes on to tell you that the room has "No windows...and NO DOORS!" And as you are looking for a way out, he goes, "But there's always...my way..." And then you see the hangman in the cieling...that's fuckin freaky, I'm sorry. Anyway, you then exit the room and walk a little bit. The pictures on the walls are cool and the atmosphere and sounds are just right (in fact, this is when you start hearing the organ playing that FANTASTIC eerie rendition of "Grim Grinning Ghosts"). When you get into your "doom buggies," you can now sit back with your partner and enjoy the music, visuals and sounds. Possibly the only thing cooler than the Haunted Mansion is The Haunted Mansion during Christmas time, where, for the past three or four years, they make up to have a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Especially for a lover of Nightmare Before Christmas AND the Haunted Mansion, this is honestly one of the most amazing experiences ever. I'll save the details so that those of you who haven't experienced it yet will be suprised.

Once you exit the Mansion, continue in the direction you were headed already. Soon you will hit Critter Country and in it you will find Splash Mountain. Now, I like this ride, yet it's always been sort of a mish-mosh to me. For one, the characters in the ride are from a film entitled "Song of the South." Everyone knows the famous title song of the ride, "Zippidy Doo Da," but most people don't realize that this music comes from "Song of the South." Furthermore, most people don't realize that they've never even seen "Song of the South." Why haven't you seen it? Because it was the only Disney movie ever to be BANNED by the NAACP. Apparently it was too racist and portrayed blacks as slow-witted slaves with a "Yess Massa" mentality. So, considering I've never even seen the movie, the characters don't have any sort of appeal to me. In fact, I could really care less if that rabbit gets it at the end of the ride. The cool thing about the ride is the fact that in the middle of it, the entire thing goes absolutely nuts...it's as if the ride suddenly took shrooms and we're plunged into hysteria along with it. Crazy ride, but well worth it.

The drawback to Splash Mountain is that you now have to double-back because Critter Country comes to a perpetually frustrating dead-end suddenly. So, you go back past the Haunted Mansion, only this time you make a left, heading towards Frontierland. I'm not going to lie to you, Frontierland only exists so that there's a place to put Big Thunder Mountain. Of course, considering Thunder Mountain is one of the highlights of the park, I don't mind having this western detour in the middle of my Disney fun. Hit up Thunder Mountain and enjoy the "Wiiiiildest riiiiiide in the wilderness!"

Next stop: Fantasyland...but not for long. You see, Fantasyland is classic Disney. These rides are usually seen as the "kiddie" rides and even I'll admit that sometimes I feel like I could skip Fantasyland altogether...but once you hit it, you really feel that sort of magic. You feel blasts of nostalgia and you get a sense of wonder as you look around and you're physically in a place that resembles some of your favorite childhood cartoon films. This is the heart of Disneyland...and that's why we have to skip it for now. I know you might want to stay and go on "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" or "Peter Pan," but we will go on them later. You see, Fantasyland is better saved for the magic of the evening. So, we skirt the edge of Fantasyland and head on up to Toontown. On the way to Toontown you will see such Fantasyland classics as the Tea Cups, so you might want to stop off and try them out. You might find this amazing, but I have never been on the Tea Cups. You see, my mom gets sick really easily when it comes to things spinning around and once when she was younger, my uncle Greg spun the Tea Cups so much that she threw up on the ride. So, we steer clear of the Tea Cups...especially Tea Cup #6.

Toontown is some great silly fun if you're with a bunch of great silly people. Unless you're age 11 or under, none of the rides will really appeal to you (except the Roger Rabbit ride because that's an amazing movie, but even that ride falls a bit short). However, all of the gags and photo ops make Toontown a place where older kids and even adults can really make some zany fun and goof off as if you were 11. My stay in Toontown lasts about 15 minutes or so, not too long...but like I said...we always have a blast.

The next stop is the most dreaded of all. The "It's A Small World" portion of the day always seems like the longest. I mean, here we are...we've been through half of Disneyland and it's the middle of the day. I'm hot and hungry (all I've had to eat at this point is a frozen banana and maybe a sandwich brought from home, because those Disney burgers cost a fortune) and I'm getting tired. We hit "It's A Small World" and I see the horrendously long line with NO SHADE AT ALL and I just go into a funk. I usually am very quiet during this portion of the day, half to show my parents that I am discontented, half because I literally just need the rest. I use the ride as doze-off time and my Dad usually ends up getting annoyed with me. Of course, we need this during the day...we need that one point where we're all pissed at each other so we can get it out and overwith...and it might as well be during the most irritating and pointless ride of them all.

Once out of that situation, the second wind comes with the sight of the Matterhorn. The Matterhorn Bobsleds used to be fun, but now I think there's something wrong with the breaks and they just haven't gotten around to fixing them yet. We usually go on and we usually have a good time and we always scream at the abominable snowman, but eventually the ride begins to feel unsafe and my enjoyment of the ride is hindered by my prayers to God, asking him to get us off of this ride alive.

After that very sobering experience, we walk past what used to be the Submarine Voyage. You see Autopia close by, but that's never really been a "must" in my repitoir. You can do this now or save it for later. I'd save it for later, personally because coming up is my favorite portion of the day: Tomorrowland. There's something about Tomorrowland that I absolutely love...oh wait, it's SPACE MOUNTAIN!! Space Mountain is the greatest roller coaster ever. Sure, it's not that big and there's no loops...but it's the roller coaster with the most atmosphere ever. First you wait in a long line that is pretty horrible, and your only entertainment comes from watching the people in the arcade below have fun or occasionally watching the Rocket Rods (now the "Astro Orbiter") go around (while playing Rocketeer music). But you then move inside and again, the atmosphere takes over. In fact, let me pause here to say something about Disneyland ride lines in general - they really know what they're doing. I mean, sure Space Mountain, Indiana Jones, and Star Tours (which I will get to) have the longest lines, but I look forward to waiting in those lines because the entire line is like a ride unto itself, filled with countless extras to keep you amused and entertained through the entire wait (especially Indiana Jones). Of course, Space Mountain has been closed for the past 4 years, but it's actually about to make a triumphant return THIS YEAR. Apparently, the ride itself hasn't been touched much, but the line, the cars, and the entire docking station has been re-vamped. I'm REALLY looking forward to see what they've done with the place. But most of all, I'm looking forward to getting on that train again...taking off into that cheesey red-light vortex, and enjoying the roller coaster through the darkness of Disney space. Man oh man, I cannot wait to feel that ride again.

Tomorrowland actually has an extremely interesting history of rides. In our lifetime, we've seen the "People Movers" come and go twice, we've seen "Captain EO" (starring Michael Jackson and directed by Francis Ford Coppola) turn into "Honey I Shrunk the Audience," and the Carousel Theater turned into the "America Sings" theater, then into the "Super Speed Tunnel" (and later, "The World of Tron") for the People Mover guests, then into office space for a few years, and then finally into the West Coast home of Epcot's "Innoventions" in 1998. I remember a lot of these, especially the People Movers, which were sort of...well, pointless, but I remember them nonetheless.

Of course, the childhood favorite was "Star Tours." I think it's fairly safe to say that Star Tours is hugely responsible for my love of "Star Wars." I mean, to a child, watching a movie and then going out and living portions of that same movie really makes the connection between the child, the ride, and the movie very special. It's really one of those things that will always have a place in my heart no matter what happens to it in the future. I just hope George Lucas doesn't go in and replace the Paul Reubens robot with Jar Jar Binks.

After riding Star Tours, you exit into the "Startrader," which is my favorite gift shop in the park. Pick up cool "Star Wars"/Tours memorabilia and/or Disneyland souveniers HERE. It's the only way to go. The best gift shop USED to be the one you exit into after Pirates of the Caribbean, but now it's just not the same...partly because I'm a little too old to appreciate the fake pirate swords and stuff, and partly because half of it was re-done to make an entire store full of overly-priced (but pretty cool) "Nightmare Before Christmas" murchandise.

By now it's early evening and I'm getting pretty hungry. Luckily, once you exit Tomorrowland, you are right in the center of the park in the Central Plaza. This is where you can stop for some good photo ops of the Magic Castle, the entrance signs to all the differend Lands, and of course, the famous statue of Walt Disney (without whom none of this good old family fun would be possible) and Mickey Mouse. Of course, the REALLY good thing about being in the Central Plaza in this time of night is that anywhere you decide to go for dinner is about the same distance away, so it's not like it's any more hassle to walk over to New Orleans Square than it is to go to Big Thunder Ranch to eat. Of course, while there are many places to eat int he park, New Orleans Square is pretty much always the winner. The Square is filled with all types of restaurants. Most of these are similar in nature (buffet style) and any one will suffice, so I will not bother going into naming the different choices. On the way to the square, you might want to stop by the Bengal BBQ, the favorite stop of many Disneyland goers, as it offers spicey meat skewers and is actually very good...as it definitley does not have that pre-packaged feeling you get from ordering an over the counter burger from the Hungry Bear Restaurant in Critter Country. However, it is important to note that the one gourmet sit-down retaurant inside the park is the Blue Bayou restaurant. This restaurant is located partly inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (you notice it once you get on the boats, right about when you see the hick playing the banjo). Because this restaurant has the best ambiance and accordingly some of the highest prices. The seating at the Bayou is 100% priority (reserved) seating, so call in advance to make your reservation. The other restaurant to mention is the "secret" Club 33. Of course, this club is not open to the public, but it's been an infamous part of Disneyland for years. You must become a member (there is a waiting list, but you can ask for information at Town Hall) or know a member to get in. Right next to the Blue Bayou entrance, there is a plain-looking door marked "33," and that is the entrance. You buzz in, give your name, and the door is unlocked electronically. Once in, you ascend (via glass elevator) to the second floor, where the main dining hall awaits you, exquisitely upholstered and serviced by a wonderful and well-trained staff. Of course, I've never been into Club 33, but it's one of those things about Disneyland that's cool to know and is always an option for the future so you can enhance your Disneyland-going experience.

After dining and finally feeling completely re-plenished, it might be a good time to squeaze in one or two repeat rides before you have to settle youself down to get a good seat for Fantasmic. Fantasmic is a live-action show that's actually performed ON the Rivers of America. You'll notice that starting at about 6 o'clock, people have already started lying down blankets and setting up shop to get a good seat in front (facing Tom Sawyer's Island) for the show. The first show usually starts at about 8:30-esque (times change pending on season), so we usually try to get there at about 7 to get a decent seat. There is, of course, the boring hour or so of nothing, accentuated by the fals excitement of the guy coming on to tell you that the show will begin in a half hour, fifteeen minutes, five minutes...and then ten minutes later the show starts. But Fantasmic is worth the wait. In short, Fantasmis is about 22 minutes of WOW. It's the best live show ever. The music, the action, the waterworks, the fireworks...everything about that show is amazing. And at the end, you just feel like it's the best two hours spent on your ass ever.

After Fantasmic, you want to head right over to the Magic Castle to catch (if you can) the "Believe" fireworks show. Sure, the "believe" song they play is cheesey, but it's a really impressive fireworks display. If you like fireworks, like I do, this will definitley be a memorable part of your evening. Of course, the crowd might be a turn-off for you at this point and you might be tempted to leave. But just remember, if you're thinking about leaving, someone IS leaving, so if you head over to Fantasyland right now, the crowd will only be medium-sized (except for the "Mr. Toad" ride, which is always the longest for some crazy reason). Now, after experiencing all of Disneyland and the magic of the night lights, now you can really enjoy the classic Disney rides. Rides like Peter Pan will always have a special place in my heart. Some of these old-fashioned rides are actually a little freaky. I mean, the witch in Snow White always scared me, as does Stromboli in Pinocchio. The one "What the Hell?" ride would have to be "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." For some reason, people love Mr. Toad. Personally, I never got it. I mean, a.) I don't even know what cartoon he originated from, and b.) the ride consists of him driving around, crashing, going to hell...and then the ride's over. I mean, he doesn't even come BACK from hell. He just goes to hell in a wave of psychodelia and then BAM, back to the entrance. A bizaar experience, to say the least. Anyway, linger in Fantasyland as long as you like, but then there'll soon be that point in the evening where everyone looks at each other and it's decided that it's time to go home.

You head on down to the Central Plaza and walk down Main Street once more, possibly stopping by the gift shops, but I would avoid it. This is the time of night where everyone's leaving and everyone's looking through those shops. It's crowded, it's hot, and you're tired...so please please PLEASE buy your souvenirs during the day.

You get on the tram and head back to the Pinnochio parking lot and you look at whatever you got during the day and begin to associate them with the memories you had that day and the memories you've always had of Disneyland. You're glad to be going home, yet you can't wait to go again. You know that when you do go again, whether it be next year or 30 years from now, you are going to have a great time again, as you always have. You will go with your family...your friends...your loved ones...and maybe one day your own children. And you also know that, while you could follow my planned trip through Disneyland, no matter what order you do anything in Disneyland, it's all going to be a great experience...an always familiar yet perpetually new experience. That's what makes Disneyland the happiest place on Earth.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Down With "Singles Awareness Day"

"I want you to get up now. Get up and go to your window. Open your window and stick your head out of the window and yell 'I'm as mad as Hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore.'"

What the hell is wrong with this country when a day set aside as a feast for a catholic saint eventually becomes "Singles Awareness Day?" I'll tell you what's wrong with it...it's going down the shitter - and fast. We take everything: Christmas, Easter, All Souls Day, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day - and turn them into something SO commercial that it's almost taboo to talk about the real reason we're celebrating the holiday. Example: we all know why we celebrate Christmas. We all know that the date picked for that day is arbitrary and we all know that Hannukah falls around the same time for that particular reason (fact, not opinion). But the second we mention the "reason for the season" we get people yelling and screaming "separation of church and state!" If you don't want to celebrate Christmas, then don't, otherwise stop complaining when I mention Jesus or God. You want to horn in on my holiday? I really don't care either way because hell, who WOULDN'T want a day set aside to get free crap, but don't make a fuss when I talk about the reason for the holiday exists to begin with. That or make your own damn holiday if you want and stop celebrating Christmas without mentioning Jesus...stop celebrating Hanukah if you're not Jewish...stop calling Valentine's Day "Singles Awareness Day"...you want a day set aside to wear green? Then do it on a day besides March 17, please. Only this country makes a big deal about St. Patrick's Day. Hell, in Ireland the only thing they do for St. Patty's Day is have an extra bowl of soup or maybe two potatos. And when did this country become so obsessed with the formalities of modern relationships that we have to take a day that was set aside for a saint (a saint!) and make it a day to make single people feel shitty for not having someone to be with? Think I'm exaggerating? Visit any livejournal or xanga (more like it) of a 17 to 21 year old single female and see if they DON'T mention their self-pity today. Of course, they wouldn't feel as bad today if we used this day for it's original purpose of to celebrating the charity of a Roman priest who was also a physician that cured the sick of ailments without accepting any payment. Instead, we focus on "Singles awareness" because the exploration of religious tradition is more taboo than the exploitation of it for some twisted reason.

The job of the state is to make sure there is a separation of church and state, not to exploit religion and desensitize a nation to the fact that this is a country of many creeds. Instead of celebrating our cultural and religious diversity, we cut it out altogether whenever we can. St. Velentine's Day and Christmas can't "become too religious," it's a religious holiday to begin with. So, leave it alone. Instead of regulating who can say what about whatever holiday and when they can say it, why don't you just back the fuck off?! Bleeding hearts, my ass...sounds like too much mental masturbation, to me.

Of course, ethics aside, let's not forget that this new title doesn't do much for couples. If I were still single, I'd be pissed off like I usually am, but I have a girlfriend this year and I'm not going to lie to you; I plan on taking advantage of Valentine's Day to do something special (and possibly get something special in return...no, not in a dirty way) with Rosy. However, where it used to be that couples could take advantage of a day filled with hearts and chocolates as an excuse to be as sickeningly romantic as possible, one finds it hard and almost impossible to enjoy this day when the entire heart (excuse the pun) of the holiday has been ripped from society's chest and replaced by some euphamistic liberal dribble like "Singles Awareness Day." I don't know about you, but I find it heart to get into the spirit of things when I know I'm taking part in some hippie in San Francisco's political agenda.

I realize, of course, that Rosy's a hippie herself and that this post, while seemilgly militant, is also completely hypocritical. For that, all I have to say is I'm a man; a man of strong convictions and weak will, but a man nonetheless. And a man can't turn down a woman like Rosy when she wants to be romantic. So, for completely selfish reasons, I will participate in Joe Treehugger and Jane Flagburner's quest to erraticate God as we know Him in society. But, just because a man realizes his futility in a societal circumstance such as this and acts upon it doesn't mean that he has to agree with it or be happy about it. And so I'll continue to yell and scream and be submersively furious and I'll write angry posts and I'll get into arguments with friends and family and teachers about the deterioration of ethics and morals in contemporary society. But, when it comes to days that can be potentially beneficial to a relationship, I'll take what I can get when I can get it. As they say: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

However, I will never refer to Valentine's Day as Singles Awareness Day. There are limits even a man of my typical male nature won't push.

So, for now, have a Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Celebrate it in whichever way you see fit or don't celebrate it and let the world know you're mad. Because, as Peter Finch said in Network, before you do something about anything and before you can improve yourself or change the world, "First, you've got to get mad."

Saturday, January 08, 2005

How do you spell that guy's name on "Pimp My Ride?" Is it "XZibit" or "Exhibit" or "Exebition" or...anyway, you know the guy I'm talking about.

Well, anyway fuck him, I pimped my own ride, bitch! My car's shaping up to be pretty sweet these days, and I got a few things for X-mas that pushed it all the way from "decent car with no power locks" to "decent car with no power locks and some stupid-cool style."

XZibit A.) The epitomy of koool, my "White Shadow" decal is placed along the top-center of my rear window. For those of you who don't know, White Shadow is the greatest band that never was. I was the lead singer, of course, and Benny and Dustin were on guitar. If it weren't for our flaky drummer Mimi who left us before our first concert, we would be in Germany right now in the middle of our world tour...and instead of sitting here in my boxers, I'd be surrounded by chicks from all nations with two lines in front of me...one line of girls to my right for make-outs, and one line of guys to my left for high-fives. So, the White Shadow decal is not just there because it's a nickname given to me at a beach once (leave that one to your imaginations), but it's a symbol of the awesomeness that I am capable of...if we had a drummer.

XZibit B.) My Jack Skellington decal. Sure, Tim Burton and Nightmare Before Christmas especially are staples at any "Hot Topic" location, but it's been one of my favs long before the Emo's came to town. This decal features Jack giving us a mean grin and is placed on the rear passenger-side window.

XZibit C.) My new Family Guy window-sucker thing. It features one of the most kick-ass members of the most kick-ass cartoon ever (besides The Adventures of Bullwinkle and Rocky), Stewie, a one-year old talking baby who has delusions of matricide and is bent on world domination. It features him saying "I'm a baudy little monkey!" This traffic-sign-shaped little message is located on the rear driver's side window. Thanks to my bro for the present.

XZibit D.) Also from my bro, my new driver's side floormat featuring the most bad-ass character to ever be cut from contruction paper, Eric Cartman. This is possibly my favorite edition to my kick-ass ride, with the exception of one thing, and that is............

XZibit E.) The new stereo. Yes, for X-mas, my parents got me a new stereo for my car. A Sony. I saw the receipt, and let me tell you: based on the price, this thing better knock my socks off. It's not installed yet because stupid Best Buy won't do it until Thursday, but that means only 5 more days until I can finally put in a burned CD and not have to wait 3 minutes until it decides to play it. I will finally be able to skip through my CD's so I don't have to listen to the stupid overture of "The Matrix: Reloaded" before I get to "Burly Brawl." I can finally play all my most important mixes, including Kyle's World Famous Make-Out Mix, which only 6 or 7 girls have heard...of course, the number is now sure to increase because Sony + Kyle =Ultra-Sexy.



Thursday, December 30, 2004

It has now been 3 whole weeks since I've updated this blog, and I feel like I should write something. Unfortunately, nothing entertaining comes to mind. I've been slightly more self-involved than usual lately. Instead of ranting about the world around me, I've been spending more time focusing on the crazy December schedule and a few personal issues. I could write about the ever-controversial topic of the movie version of The Phantom of the Opera, but after much anguish, I've decided against discussing the movie any further. Let's suffice to say that I gave it 3 stars out of 4. Why not more? Why not less? None of your business, just go see it.

Oscar season has officially ended, and I have been thouroughly unimpressed. Every year, people ask me what my Oscar predictions are, but this year I find myself almost speechless. I have a feeling that I will be upset come March. I can honestly say that this has been one of the most disappointing years for movies in quite some time. It's sad when a highlight of the year is a movie featuring Will Ferrel crying over a dog that was kicked over a bridge by Jack Black. Legitimate Highlights of the year: Spiderman 2, The Incredibles, and the best movie I've seen all year, Collateral. I haven't seen Closer, but I have a feeling that will earn a few nodds. Hotel Rwanda will most likely get a few acting nominations, and inevitably Clint Eastwood will get a nomination or ten for Million Dollar Baby purely because he's Hollywood's favorite old liberal fart. It doesn't look like Johnny Depp delivered exactly what was hoped for in Finding Neverland, but Leonardo DeCaprio blew me away in The Aviator, even though the movie itself never really took off (get it?). Also, I wouldn't be suprised if Kate Blanchette wins both an Oscar and a Razzy for her cooky-yet-all-too-real Katherine Hepburn impression. Of course, the discussion of acting nominations is almost futile because we all know Jamie Foxx has it in the bag for Ray. Of course, I wouldn't mind a win for Foxx, he sure deserves it - he was responsible for two of the best performances in 2004. As for Best Actress, I think one of the girls from Closer might take it, but that's only because people seem to have forgotten Meryl Streep's truly vibrant presence in The Manchurian Candidate. Hopefully Phantom will get some sort of nodd for musical adaptation and probably original song (the new one in the credits), but we all know it really belongs to Marc Shaiman and the South Park boys for "Lonely" from Team America: World Police. In all, this critic thinks the Academy should either save their gold and call off the Awards this year and wait for better competition from next year or give the Best Actor award to Jamie Foxx and the rest of the statuettes should rightfully go to Anchorman.



Thursday, December 09, 2004

Christmas

Well, it's that time of year again...Christmas time. I was talking to my friend the other night and she was talking about how she has all these reasons to hate Christmas, but I couldn't think of one myself. She had some family problems relating to the season and I guess she's embittered to the whole deal. But, for me, this is the best time of year.

There's something literally in the air. You look around you and everything just glows. Of course, this can be explained by all the little electronic lights, but it's more than that. Everything glows: trees, houses, people...everything's so full of life. You walk in the cold air all bundled up and you pass by Christmas trees in courtyards, listening to the perpetual background music coming from every store, home, and group of litte kids. At times like these you look over at whoever you're with, be it a friend, a family member, the girl you love...and you just know that they can feel it too. And in the cold night, the warmest feeling comes from saying the words, "Merry Christmas."

Christmas, to me, is hard to define. First and foremost, it's important to me because it's a celebration of faith. When it comes down to it, Christmas is defined by the song "O Holy Night."

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of our dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth.

It is a time to think of the greatest gift given to us, and that is the life of Christ Jesus.

Of course, Christmas has become a commercial holiday. Everyone celebrates it or a variation of it. Christmas itself didn't actually occur on December 25th. Christmas was chosen to be celebrated on this date to replace a previous pagan celebration on the same day. Hanukkah's closeness to Christmas is not a coincidence either. Of course, the dedication ceremony from which Haunkkah derives predates Christmas by about four centuries, but the closeness of it's calender date was not arbitrary. Today, I know many Jewish families who observe the eight day celebration of Hanukkah, but mostly save the major gift-giving on Christmas day. Christmas has been so commercialized, that it's not necessarily viewed around the world as specifically a religious holiday, but rather an excuse for the non-christian and secular portion of the world to participate in a celebration and a holiday. Lots of people I know are bothered by this, including my mother. She thinks that the secular celebration of Christmas takes away from it's original meaning and should be kept sacred. But, let's face it: Christmas as we know it today is nothing more than the result of commercial symbols: Santa Claus, Christmas trees, wreaths, even the original concept behind the giving of the gifts is not based in any sort of direct Christian celebration. For example, a certain Chinese-American buddhist I know celebrates Christmas, but she celebrates it because her parents celebrated it, and their parents before them celebrated it...and their parents before them probably celebrated it because the Catholic church tired to impress their religion on them, and when it didn't take, they denied it's religious aspects and held onto the beneficial traditions. There is nothing wrong with this. Christmas is a part of American Culture, not specifically confined to christian practice. I'm ok with this because I know, as a catholic, that Christmas will never lose it's meaning for me, and that's all God asks...is to keep his word and life alive in us. I think that God would be happy to know that a holiday devoted to him has reached so many different people...even if it's not celebrated for the same reasons, the effect is the same...Christmas spreads love and joy and reminds us of what we have to be thankful for in our lives. It reminds us that we are loved, and that our purpose here on earth is to share that love with one another.

When I think of this conclusion, I think of Christmas in my life. I think of picking out the tree with my mom and dad every year. I think of hanging the stockings on Christmas eve. I think of The Grinch, Charlie Brown's Christmas, and all of those old stop-motion Christmas movies that are so numerous you forget which one's which. I think of all the money I spend on presents and all the anguish I go through thinking about how much money I DON'T have. I also think of how the worries and stresses of buying presents disappears on Christmas day, even if it is just for a day, when you see the reactions your friends and family have to your presents. I think of my grandparents. I think of my grandma and how she used to over-exaggerate her excitement to any gift I gave her to make me feel good. I think of my grandpa's cannolis. I think of my cousins and I getting nearly identical gifts from Aunt Dee Dee and laughing to ourselves about it. I think of the fudge and the cookies and the turkey or the ham. I think of my brother telling me I give the coolest gifts. I think of the family I've lost through death, grudge or distance. I think of the family I have here. And somewhere in the back of my mind, I think of my kids and my grandkids and how they'll think of Christmas. I think of picking out a tree with them. I think of how my dad will rot their minds with his jokes and how my mom will spoil them because she never spoiled me.

I think of how much Christmas has meant to me through the years. Looking back on what I've just written, I even think of how all the Christmas carols truly define the season. I could have littered this whole post with bits of lyrics from the carols, but you know them all...you get it.

So, I know this must have sounded like an overly-sentimental Kyle, but you have to remember that life means much more to me than bitching about escalators and boycotting certain donuts. When all is said and done, everything I've ever written can be tossed away and one thing would still remain: what life means to me and what's truly important in it. Christmas is on the top of the list.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Once Upon A Time In The Library

You've got to be ruthless. It's finals week here in the computer lab and everyone wants a computer. This pisses me off because the rest of the year, you can easily walk in and sit down at the computer of your choice and skip off into internet fun or to write your little papers or what have you. About two weeks before finals roll around, though, it gets harder to look for a computer. This is when the "Vultures" pop up - people who walk around in circles just waiting for you to pack up your stuff and sign off of your computer so that they can move in. I know it's not their fault, but there's nothing more annoying than reaching into your backpack to get a paper and three Vultures run over to you to see if you're getting up, and when it turns out that you're just getting a paper, they all leave and give you dirty looks as if you've tricked them on purpose somehow.

The week of finals, however, is absolute war. "Vultures" become "Rogue Mercenaries" out to do anything and everything to get a computer, even if it means breaking all of their previous moral standards. Today was extremely ridiculous. I walked into the computer lab and I seriously had to wait for about 15 minutes before I was able to steal a computer for myself...and it wasn't easy either. In the beginning stages of computer-searching, there is the "Individual Aisle Search," in which you walk down every aisle to check every computer, just to make sure that there aren't any computers that the other Mercenaries have missed (which is quite unlikely). Then, there's the "Perimiter Serveilance" stage, in which you are now forced to stand in a corner somewhere to get a full view of the library computer lab. From this vantagepoint, you can A.) see any movement in the computer area, and B.) view your competition. In finals week, competition is stiff, so you're forced to move into the next and final stage, the "Aisle Stakeout." This is where you are forced to take one position at the end of an aisle and basically wait for someone in "your" aisle to abandon their computer so that you can comendeer it. However, in serious wartime, aisle stakeouts are corrupted by "Claimjumpers." Usually, the aisle stakeout is viewed as a last resort, and even other mercenaries respect your claim. But, claimjumpers feel that they have some sort of right to move in on the action of your aisle, even though you are (and have been) obviously waiting for a computer in your row. For example, this morning I was in my aisle steakout when all of a sudden, a black girl got up from her computer. She was getting her stuff together and I didn't want to seem like I was rushing her, so I stood back a bit, eyeing the other Mercenaries and giving them visual confirmation that this was indeed my computer. Finally, the girl gets her stuff together and as I'm walking to go to the computer, some blonde kamikaze literally runs into position and steals my chair! Of course, these claimjumpers know that they are outlaws and they don't even give you the "I'm sorry" curtesy look. I gave an "I'm pissed" look anyway, and went to return to my post when - can you believe it??!! - someone had taken my steakout potision! Some asian girl was standing in my set post...it was an ambush! So, I turned the opposite direction and fled.

Now we have one of the most ugly phases of library war: "The Showdown." There is nothing pretty about the showdown. Both mercenaries on opposite ends of the same aisle make direct eye contact and then let the games begin. Any movement from the aisle between us can either be a potential free computer, or a wild goose chase. We stared at each other.
A fly buzzes by my ear.
The wind whistles by and rustles a paper on a nearby desk.
A tumbleweed rolls by.
Then, a hispanic man begins to stir in his seat, and right behind him, a little downwind from me, an asian man grumbles and shifts his papers. Two possible computers...two mercenaries...one outcome.
Her hand twitched.
My eye squinted.
I made my move, and she did, too. Even though he was farther from me and closer to her, I went for the asian man because he was grabbing for his jacket. I moved with great swiftness towards my goal, so fast in fact that I reached him before she could, so she ran for the hispanic man who was now closing his explorer window! The asian man went to sit back down and it looked like I was defeated, but in fact, he was just reaching for a disk still in the hard drive. I looked back and to my great satisfaction, the hispanic man was telling the girl that he wasn't leaving. She turned to look at me, her conqueror, and I shot her a smile. She responded with a grimace and went back to her claim. I had won the showdown. I took out a pretty girl in the process, which is not something I'd normally do...but this is war...and nothing but silence is sacred here in the library.

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