Archive for year 2002

The Bursting of Childhood Bubbles

There are many movies, TV shows, etc., that have major childhood associations for me. For example, I remember spending every school vacation in Austin with my cousin (who is really more like a brother to me), and having certain movies we always wanted to watch again every visit. “Tron”, for example. We both had the action figures, and the cool light cycles with the plastic cord you would pull to send them racing across the room, preferably over some kind of ramp made out of books or something. Disney’s “The Black Hole” was another. I was also a huge fan of Indiana Jones (and still am). I loved the trilogy of Indiana Jones films! Like the Star Wars trilogy I would watch them periodically throughout the years. Well upon one recent viewing a few years back, I came to a startling conclusion: Temple of Doom sucks. I didn’t want to admit it, but there it was staring at me in all it’s child sidekick, monkey brain eating ugliness. I realized that I really wouldn’t care to watch that movie ever again. At that moment a little piece of my childhood died. While I do still like “Tron” and “The Black Hole”, I have also had to admit that they have lost a bit of the magic that they used to hold for me. Sometimes I wonder if certain things would appeal to me at all without the fond past associations and memories.
“V”, and “V: The Final Battle” also fall into this category. For anyone who is not familiar with them, they were television mini-series that came out in the 80’s about aliens coming to earth disguised as human looking peaceful types, but turn out to be reptilian human-eating types. I was totally enthralled by these series when they came out. I even read the books, which I quite liked. However, now that they’re both out on DVD I have found my childlike salivating enthusiasm to immediately buy them preempted by a hint of hesitation and uncertainty.
I used to proclaim that “Young Frankenstein” was one of the all time comedy classics, yet now I find it very hit and miss. There’s some classic moments without a doubt, but there’s also many moments when I find myself getting bored. Again, a moment of sadness at this realization.
Well at least the original Star Wars trilogy rocks as much as it ever did. “Time Bandits” still kicks ass too.

Lord of the Rings (spoiler free thoughts)

Have you read it? If not, then go! Now! I’ll wait. Ok, it’s a pretty long book, so no I won’t. I first read the entire saga just before the “Fellowship of the Ring” movie came out. Now for those of who don’t know, it was really considered one contiguous work by Tolkien, however the publishers insisted on breaking it up into more digestible chunks (metaphorically speaking only – please do not attempt to ingest the book). So somehow it ended up as 3 “volumes” of 2 “books” a piece. However, for the purposes of this discussion we shall refer to it as one contiguous work.
I recently revisited this amazing classic by listening to the 13 hour BBC radio play. This, and many discussions with my lovely Jess (who has read the book 13 times) made me want to sing it’s praises here for those who have not yet discovered it (or even for those who have). Quite simply, I find Lord of the Rings one of the most amazing and totally immersive works of all time. It’s no secret that Tolkien laboriously created one of the most thorough worlds ever created for a work of fiction. He created languages, histories, races, maps and more (as evidenced by the appendices to the book) resulting in a world almost as well documented and “real” as our own. This however has no value if it does not lend itself to an engrossing tale. It does.
Lord of the Rings is so much more than just a book. It is as close as anyone can come to actually being transported to another world. When I was finished with this book, I felt as if I too had been on that journey. I felt invested in all my “friends” in the book. As the story comes to an end, it perfectly mirrors the emotions you feel as your relationship with this story is winding down, and you slowly fade back into this world. So many moments are laced with bittersweet poignancy as they create a microcosm of the emotions and relationships we all share. It’s not a story, it’s an experience. It’s a journey that will leave you forever changed. One you’ll look back on with both joy, and sadness that it’s over as you close the cover and say “Well, I’m back”.

Ruminations on Theme Park “Speed Passes”

We went to the Six Flags theme park this past weekend, which made me contemplate the new “speed pass” phenomenon that seems to have inundated theme parks across the land. For those of you not familiar with “Speed Passes”, they’re basically little beeper sized gadgets that you pay an extra $10 to use for the day. At the entrance of each ride is an electronic station where you scan your speed pass and it electronically puts you in line. You can then go off and do whatever else you want instead of waiting in line for the ride. When your electronic “place” gets near the front, the beeper alerts you so you can go to the privileged “speed pass” entrance and claim your place near the front of the line. This is nice for you because you didn’t actually have to wait in the line, and it’s nice for the park because instead of standing there in line with your money just happily sitting in your pocket you can be off buying a $2.25 bottle of water or spending loads of money on a ring toss game trying to win a giant stuffed banana that you probably could have bought for one tenth of what it cost you to keep playing until you won it. Not to mention the $10 they already picked from your pocket to rent the speed pass.
Now this led me to think about the future of “Speed Passes”. Sure they’re great right now, when you can just be-bop to the front of the line, but eventually if more and more people start using speed passes, then you’ll have to wait in line to register your speed pass to begin with and then when it beeps you, you go wait in the now ever growing special speed pass entrance line. This will necessitate speed pass evolution. For example, they could then put out the “VIP Speed Pass”, which for a mere $50 allows you to bypass all the normal speed pass peons and go straight to the the secret VIP entrance taking you to the front of the speed pass line.
If that wasn’t enough, perhaps you could get a Super VVIP speed pass (for only $500) which allows you take the secret elevator to the special entrance room where you then jump in an air chute which deposits you directly onto an empty seat on the ride.
For the ultimate experience however, you would get the Super Mega VVVIP “Vengeance” pass ($2500 per ride). This allows you to get in the super secret futuristic air pod which takes you to the fully catered “selection room”. Here a wall of plasma monitors shows you each and every seat on the ride. You then wait for them to fill, and select your victim. That person is then dropped through a trap door which leads back to the end of the line and you are deposited on the ride by a huge, overly elaborate (yet extreme comfy) mechanism.
Oh sure you laugh now, but they also laughed about ever putting a man on the moon! Just wait until the day you find yourself plummeting through a trap door to the end of the ride only to see my evil grin sitting in your place on the souvenir snapshot monitor at the end of the ride.

Mitch Hedberg at the Addison Improv

So I went to go see Mitch Hedberg for the 3rd time last night at the Addison Improv. I had seen him previously at the Laff Stop in Houston, and the Capitol City Comedy Club in Austin. I’ve been a huge fan ever since I saw him on some TV comedy show, and have since turned a huge number of people on to him. In my opinion he is one of the best comedians I’ve ever seen. A truly unique style and viewpoint punctuate his hilarious material and likable demeanor. Mitch just seems like a guy you’d like to hang out with. Every time I’ve seen him he’s been absolutely hilarious, and this show was no exception.
There were several opening comics. Dave Little and Lynn Shawcroft were especially funny. When Mitch finally came on he seemed really low key at first. A bit reserved, possibly a little down, or just tired a bit (this was, after all, the second show of the night), but he quickly got into the flow and the endless laughs started flowing. Now the things about comedians is you inevitably hear some of the same material each time you see them since they can’t crank out an entirely new act every night. With Mitch, I’ve never found this to be a problem. Somehow I find every joke just as funny as the first time I ever heard it. However Mitch had a ton of new material this show, and it was in fact the first show I’d seen where he didn’t just start taking “requests” for his classic material towards the end of the show. It was also the first show I had seen where he didn’t perform many of his “greatest hits”, most notably his “Smackie the Frog” routine. None of this however detracted from the show. It was at least as good as every other performance I had seen of his.
When we went to see him in Austin, my friend, Dudemac, and his wife had brought their digital camera in hopes of getting a picture with Mitch. My friend Esteban spotted Mitch exiting the club and asked him for an autograph which Mitch gladly signed. Dudemac then had me take a picture of him and his wife with Mitch. I also wanted to get an autograph and picture but I really didn’t want to be a nuisance so I let Mitch slip out since he seemed to be trying to get out quickly. Later we found that due to a camera glitch all the pics that had been taken on the digital camera were gone including the ones with Mitch. DOH! So this time we were determined to try again! After the show we immediately went to where we thought he might exit, and sure enough there were he and Lynn leaving the club! Dudemac quickly yelled “Hey Mitch! Can we get a picture?” He and Lynn were both really accommodating and friendly and posed for several pics with us all! I’ll post them as soon as Dudemac gets them off his camera. We hope to get some more pics and maybe an autograph at his Austin show in November.
All in all it was a great show as usual that made our faces hurt from laughing so much, and actually getting to say hi and take a picture was extremely cool. Be sure and check his schedule at www.mitchhedberg.net and go to see him if he comes anywhere near you. Then I can add you to my list of converts 😉 Quite simply, he’s one of the funniest and most brilliant comedians of all time.

Labor Day Weekend!

Well I’m off for a nice 3 day weekend, since Labor Day is monday, and ironically you don’t have to go to work on Labor day. Shouldn’t it be “No Labor Day”?;) I’m going to Dallas to hang out with my good bud, Esteban. We’re going to see Mitch Hedberg, a hilarious comedian. I’ve seen him twice before in clubs and many times on TV. He’s been on David Letterman, and had a Comedy Central special, etc. Damn funny guy. Saturday a bunch of us are going to Six Flags (a theme park with rollercoasters and all that). We have a ton of free tickets. Dudemac and I are ALWAYS winning stuff from the local radio station. So much so that people are beginning to think we are some kind of radio mafia. I used to work there as a DJ too, and know many of the local radio folk, so sometimes I do use my “connections”. Sunday I hope to go find some geocaches. At some point we’re going to take my Star Wars DVD’s to our friends house to enjoy his 63″ television and Dolby 5.1 surround sound (no, the original Star Wars trilogy is not actually out on DVD, but again…I have connections and ingenius geeky friends.[grin] However I don’t consider this piracy, since I have bought numerous copies of the various edition and will damn sure be buying the official DVD’s whenever Lucas finally decides to release them).
So everyone have a fun safe weekend and labor on! Woooooooooooooooo!
*Heath parties until unconscious*

Rate My …

So my friend Dudemac wrote this article about the onslaught of various “Rate My” sites. (BTW, that site wanted a new slogan, so they’re adopting the one I came up with for them; “eyejabber.com. Sucking your life away – one byte at a time”)
This has given me the following idea:
www.ratemyratemysite.com
I want to make a site where you rate the various “Rate My” sites. Why? Because I find it extremely amusing, and was quite pleased with myself for coming up with the idea. However I’m really lazy and it probably won’t happen so someone else should do it and give me the credit. I’m a great “idea man”. Just need someone else to implement them.

Blog me baby!

So I’ve been reading a bunch of people’s online diaries lately, and it just reminded me of how I really wanted to make frequent posts on my website, but couldn’t be bothered because it was a pain in my ass. I had to manually update the web page, and the thought of any kind of archives made my head hurt. I would have to make a separate archive index page with links to each individual archive, and then manually make each month’s individual archive page etc.
Thus these free online diaries seemed appealing because all the work is done for you. You type it in and, POOF, it’s on your diary page. I really wanted to have my random thoughts page be on my own website though, and be consistent with my background, fonts, and so on. I had heard much praise about www.blogger.com, so I decided to check it out. Now up until today, I had thought they were just an online diary like the others I had seen, but to day I found that they could also provide exactly what I was looking for. You can set up your blog to automatically publish your entries to your own website, and automatically maintain archives. To get it exactly the way you want it does take a good bit of tinkering (well it does for someone like me anyway, who knows very little about HTML.) It took me from about 9am this morning until about 2pm to finally get everything working and configured exactly how I wanted it (again probably due to my extremely limited knowledge), however I now have pretty much exactly what I was looking for; an easy way to just type a post and click enter, and have it added to my own website and update the archives.
In short, I LOVE BLOG! Now I’m sure I’ll find it’s not perfect, but it’s the damn coolest thing I’ve seen yet for anyone wanting to maintain a diary, or post random rants, raves, and thoughts on their own website. Even if you don’t have your own website, you can still keep a public blog on www.blogger.com. Time will tell how I like the layout compared to some other sites, but for the moment, I’m quite filled with geeky joy.

A Renaissance Wedding

So we’ve decided to try and get married at the Texas Renaissance Festival on November 3 2002. This all depends on her gettong her visa to enter the country, and if her family can make it. We’ll keep you updated!

Back in the U.S. *sigh*

So I am now back in the US, or as I call it, Jesslessland. Twas wonderful as always, and here’s my meager recollections…
This trip was a bit more casual. We just kind of took it easy, as opposed to my last trip when we were running around like crazy the whole time I was there.
As usual I couldn’t sleep on the plane trip to London, so I watched K-Pax on the plane, and then pulled out my laptop to watch a DVD on it. Twas a nice plane, with the cool screens on the back of each headrest with many channels of movies, and programs to watch, and a bunch of music stations too. There was no one in the seat next to mine which is always nice so you can use that foot room to store stuff and stretch out. the plane arrived in London, then I had a 2 hour layover before my connection to Plymouth (2 hours is quite painful when you’re actually in the same country as your fiancee and yet have to just sit and wait for your next plane). A quick one hour plane ride later and I arrived in Plymouth on a tiny 2 propellor plane. I was greeted by Jess and her parents (who were visiting). I had told them before I came over that we could go ahead and go out and do stuff that day even though I would be tired from the flight. It was 10am in Plymouth, but 4am to my body, so I was indeed exhausted. We decided to go to Lanhydroc, a really cool old victorian estate. I spent much of the car ride laying on Jess exhausted, and a bit car sick. This was my first experience with teeny tiny, super windy english country roads. It was an experience.
We got to Lanhydroc, and it was way cool, although Jess and I laughed at the idea of the lord and lady of the house having seperate bedrooms. Fools! It was pretty much an all day affair, then we drove back to Plymouth, went out to dinner, and then [fast forward]at some point later, I collapsed in an exhausted heap in Jess’s bed.
The next day we went to The Eden Project. I’ll let you read about it at the link, but suffice to say it was also way cool. Back at home, we got some dinner, and heard that the queen mother had died. Apparently Jess and I can’t visit without some major even happening. She comes here, terrorists attack, I go there, the queen mother dies.
The next day her parents left, and we just spent the day alone at home and enjoying it.
Monday Dumur came home from being out of town, and at last I met the infamous mUrt (a.k.a. Dumur, a.k.a. Martin). He was every bit as cool as I knew he would be and we became fast friends.
Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty casual, and just easy going hanging out. We walked into town to get some things for a dinner party we were having thursday night. Jess lives on a viciously steep hill. Just walking to the top of the hill wears you out, much less on into town, however it was fun to see where she lived. Also throughout the week we watched Dumur play Jedi Knight II quite a bit which was fun and spawned many a joke. [wookie feet]
Thursday we had a dinner party with me, Jess, Dumur, and 3 of their friends. It was quite fun, although Jess was panicking and cooking like a whirlwind. Due to technical difficulties with the lasagna sheets, she ended up completely ditching the original dish and making a completely original concoction dubbed by me as “Jessagna”. Dinner was great, and then we had a wonderful time just sitting around and talking.
Saturday Del arrived! Yay! We all went out to dinner and then to a Jazz Cafe. It was 15.99 tons of fun between the 4 of us. Sunday, Del had to go . However we packed as much fun as possible into her time with us.
The rest of my time was spent just being with Jess, watching movies, socializing, etc.
Monday night very little sleep was had before our taxi to the airport for my 6:45am flight from Plymouth. Tears were shed, lips were kissed, and then I was torn from the arms of my love to start my journey back. I slept for almost the entire flight from London to Houston (and again there was no one in the seat right next to me, yay!), which was good. I then spent the requisite huge amount of time in the airport going through the lines, getting luggage etc. I drove the 2 hours back home. When all was said and done it was 17 hours from my flight leaving plymouth until I walked into my apartment.
I, of course, immediately got on the phone with Jess, and talked until she went to bed.
We now are in the last period of being apart that we will ever have to endure. In august she comes over here and we get married soon after. Since we have to get married within 90 days of her coming here we’re planning on having just a small little thing, and then having a bigger planned thing the next year. For our initial small little fun wedding we’re now leaning towards getting married at the renaissance festival near here sometime between September and November. Fun! Who wants to come to Texas?