New design ahoy!

June 18, 2005

I’ve changed the main site logo and made the rest of the site a little simpler. Background looks like the wallpaper in my grandmother’s bathroom – but it looks fine to me. The old site looked like this. I think I did pretty well. In fact, I’m very happy with it. Hunting down a photo of brass knuckles and setting it up the way I wanted it to took a bit, but I got what I wanted out of it. It’s nice when you almost match the picture that you have in your head.

Although it brings me to question why it is I can get motivation to do this crap, which takes quite a bit of trial and error, but I can’t give my undivided attention to something like my guitar. I suppose because I see results immediately with this “hobby” and because I’m impatient. Either way, it took some work but I’m very happy with that main logo. Hurray.

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Some how, even after constant stops at my local, friendly, neighborhood Publix, the cashiers do not remember me in the slightest. Normally I don’t obsess over clerks in grocery stores, but I go to that store so often to pick up beer or chicken wings that you would think they would know me as the “alcoholic carnivore and devourer of many a chicken wing,” by now. They don’t seem to remember at all, however. Which makes the whole “Did I wear this shirt when I went in yesterday? Fuck it, it doesn’t matter. She’s a whore anyway, who cares what she thinks,” debate that goes on in my head before I head to Publix a waste of time. They don’t remember me or my same stained t-shirt or bloated face and it doesn’t matter. I base all of this on the fact that every single time I go up to the counter and show my ID, I’m given the classic line: “Oh, a New Years baby! Were you the first one born?”

I can see the poor girls huddled in an orientation office somewhere on their first day at work. “Now,” says a balding manager, “requesting ID’s is something we have to do, so let’s make it as easy as we can for our customers – if they were born on Christmas day, by all means, crack a joke about them being such a wonderful present! A New Years baby? Ask them if they were the first born of the year! It’ll make them feel relaxed and appreciated, and that’s how people should feel when they’re in Publix.”

I’ve been forced to fake a smile and reply to the question so many times that I’ve actually given several different responses, ranging from “Oh, I doubt it,” to “Well, it was North Dakota, so I guess it’s a possibility,” to “Nice shoes, wanna fuck?” That last one is a complete lie. But regardless, I would remember the weird, disgruntled looking fellow frequently buying 12 packs of Schlitz and chicken meat by the box if I was a cashier, and I would probably remember forcing myself to blurt out that horrible line about the New Years baby to him – so why don’t they? I’m a strange bastard, admittedly. Does that not call for some sort of memory of me? Couldn’t they at least have a negative memory? A small one?

Tonight the exchange with the cashier was something about her being tired and getting off in 30 minutes. “Have a good night,” she said as she handed me the receipt. I responded with “You too, well, what’s left of it anyway!” I immediately scampered off when I realized my comment was vaguely threatening and mostly odd. Maybe I’ve just been reading too much of that Jack the Ripper book. For future reference, I did not murder her.

Anyhow, that’s just something that was bugging me. I’m not a memorable person. OK. Good, I didn’t want to be remembered. I guess it doesn’t matter. Aside from all of that, they were out of Beck’s Premium Light, so I suppose my fat ass is going to stay fat. Here’s to Grolsch and calories! Cheers!

Mo’ money

June 15, 2005

After a look at my bank account, it appears I will not be buying crap-movies or subscriptions to Flickr’s any time soon if I want to have any cash left (good thing I cancelled Netflix). So, I’m trying to come up with ideas for money. I’ve sold most of my pantaloons on eBay, which puts me in an odd position. What’s left? I don’t have very many t-shirts. People don’t generally like used underwear, and those who do, I’m unwilling to sell mine to. There’s always the whole “getting a job” thing, but it’s tough convincing yourself to go through the trouble of lining up a job when you know you’re only going to be there for a month or two, long enough to get cash for a couple of plane tickets and meal money… subsequently ruining your record with your employer. That would mean no work in the future and no references on applications. Why would I bother getting a job that doesn’t suck only to quit it? And I don’t know of anybody who is going to give me 2 weeks to a month off any time I want it. I could easily head to Cracker Barrel and continue making $6.95/hour – they’d want me, and I don’t care if I leave and fuck them over. What isn’t easy is putting that uniform back on and going back to that steamy, greasy, god awful hell-hole when I know that there are other, less shitty places to work at.

I could put another 6 months in at another bad job and save up to travel or I could try to borrow and scrounge enough right now to take a couple trips before I have to start doing.. whatever it is I am going to start doing. That last part scares the shit out of me, because I expected to have decided upon a game plan on return from my trip to Ireland. The problem with that theory was the assumption that I was going to come back and decide on something productive; school or military or some other career path. It didn’t involve coming to the conclusion that hey, I actually enjoy traveling and drinking beer. Yes, I tell myself, what exactly is so wrong with enjoying your youth while you can and then working your ass off later when you have to?

My sensible side tells me that I’m being an ass right now and if I can’t get myself out of this apathetic spree, I might be scraping by in a few years with nothing to my name. The last thing I want to be is an ingrate and a leech to my parents who I’m lucky to have to support me… so if I have to, I will end up living in a roach infested apartment working at some place like Cracker Barrel…and what will I have to say? “Yeah, but, I had fun for a couple of years”? I met some genuinely good people at that crappy job who will have to work at places like that for the rest of their lives because they screwed up, or because scraping by is all they’ve known since birth. They’d call me a fucking fool.

Still, I can’t help it. I’d be one shitty soldier and student if I didn’t care one bit about what I was doing. And no matter how much you study or how much a drill instructor barks at you, if you don’t give a damn about something, you don’t. You’ll do just enough to get by and that isn’t good enough in the long run.

People work because they have to, of course, not because they want to – and that’s what I’ll end up doing. But putting years of work into college so I can get a job that doesn’t remotely interest me doesn’t appeal to me at all. What would I be working towards? Security? Life has always meant all or nothing to me. Stagnating and “dealing with it” so I have the premium cable package and a prefab house just doesn’t sound worth it. In summary: shitty shitty shit McShit.

On the Flickr bandwagon

June 13, 2005

Just spent an hour trying to get Gallery off of my webserver. What a piece of dog shit. I’m not sure if it’s my 1&1 webhosting or just Gallery 2.0, but I’m leaning towards the latter, partial evidence being the horrible file structure. I swear there’s a hundred subfolders for every folder and its subfolder. Now that I’m done with all of that, I have something new to unveil: my updated photo gallery on Flickr. I’m happy to be done with that Gallery filth and on to something new.

Flickr isn’t free, but it’s only around two dollars monthly, so I don’t mind. You can also do incredibly cool stuff like this. See the square over the black man? Put your mouse on it. Ta-da, a note. Yes, you can add on-the-fly notes to your pictures. RAD, DUDE.

I almost felt guilty signing up because I’ve already got this (free) webhosting right here. Shouldn’t I use it? At the same time, I noticed there was some definite lag going on when trying to load all of my pictures on this server (it’s hosted in Germany – what the hell?) and, well, what’s the point in hosting a photo album on your site if the photo album isn’t set up the way you want it to be? With Flickr, I have unlimited bandwidth and storage, a 2 gigabyte monthly upload limit, which I will in no way ever pass, and I get cool gadgetry. It’s also very fast. On top of that, it keeps the high resolution back-ups that you post (so long as they’re not bigger than 1280 x whatever) for everyone to view. It just has an interesting system over all.

Flickr does have some down sides at the moment, like not being able to sort photos in an album alphabetically, etc. You’ve got to have the original photos from your digicam to get things in any form of chronological order, using EXIF info (embedded info in the picture containing stuff like what camera was used to take it & when it was shot). This was a severe pain for me to figure out, but I’m done with it now. That’s that.

The rest of Flickr seems great. I like being able to click randomly through thousands upon thousands of other peoples photos and leave comments. Entertaining.

Epitome of boxing

June 8, 2005

Over the last few days I’ve been obsessing over and downloading the complete Arturo “Thunder” Gatti vs. “Irish” Micky Ward series. I heard it was good, but I really had no idea that it was going to be as classic of a match up as it was. The first fight is probably the best of the series, and possibly the best fight I’ve ever seen. I recommend you find it and watch it, no matter if you’re a sports or boxing fan or not.

I’m somewhere in the middle of the road. I don’t keep track of who is who in the boxing world and I rarely get to watch a match, but when I see them on HBO or elsewhere I do enjoy them. It’s one person and his heart and soul and determination vs another. The fighter who can use his specific style and his way of fighting while maintaining a tunnel vision is sure to come out the winner. In the case of Micky Ward, it seems that it was all about heart and soul. He could box but he was not a dancer or mover. Micky Ward would come straight at you and take the blows, waiting for his moment to blast back with everything he had. Arturo Gatti is the exact opposite. He’s all about speed and movement, always dodging, weaving, ducking. He’s a firm believer that floating like a butterfly will work.

Both of the guys in the match-up were incredibly tough and that’s really why it was such a great thing to watch. Both could take serious blows – they would fall down, break their hands, have blood pouring down their faces, but they always got up and kept going. Just when you thought somebody was done for they would keep the fight moving, seemingly feeding off of each other’s energy.

The theme of all three of the fights is that Arturo is dominating with his speed and overall boxing skills when Micky comes out of nowhere with his flurry of punches and his signature left hook to the liver; power and speed vs the concrete chin and heart. Apollo vs Rocky as it were, except this time Rocky is Irish-American and Apollo is Italian-Canadian-New-Jersian or some shit like that.

Ward had his very own style, which might be labeled by most people as “inept” if it weren’t for the fact that there were results. I’m still not sure if Arturo was a quick boxer or if he just looked quick next to a stoic Micky Ward. Ward would take a beating and just when you thought he was going down, just when his opponent put all of his effort into putting him down, he would blast back. His opponent would be exhausted and bewildered: how is this guy even standing? Where does the energy come from? Nobody knows, and that’s why Ward is something special.

Either way, go check the fights out – especially the first one. If you’re disappointed, you are not a man. Your man-certificate will be revoked. Fair warning.

Bad movie marathon

June 6, 2005

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but at some point earlier in the day I went to the dvdempire.com website and was swept into looking through hundreds of movies priced below six bucks. At first I was on a bargain hunt for stuff like Beverly Hills Cop Special Edition and Trading Places, that is, until I saw that there was an entire section of sub $4 movies. The four dollar section is like stumbling into the back room of a smokey old rental store, where all of the hideous shit they had to keep out of public view is stored. Hundreds of bad, bad movies collected and left to rot with old Claymation Christmas cartoons.

The sad part is that I really like a lot of these movies, which is partly because of some great memories from my youth. For instance, watching a badly dubbed Howard the Duck while sitting in a small hotel room in Korea, or staying up for a pre-teen sleepover on a boring Friday night to watch cheesy stuff like Silver Bullet, where a paralytic child tracks down a werewolf and shoots it with rockets attached to his wheelchair. The latter obviously resulted in uncontrollable laughter from my friend and I and solidified my belief that horrible movies could indeed be “good.” Then there was The Car, which I stayed up to watch on a school night with my mother and sister, because we couldn’t wait to see what was actually controlling the vehicle (surely, there must be a point to all of this madness, we told ourselves). The abomination I speak of stars a black car with tinted windows, which terrorizes a high school marching band, kidnaps a girl, and then flies off of a huge cliff, reappearing at the top of the cliff only to fall off again, then explode. We never found out who controlled the car, obviously. That would be asking too much from something which is so very simple. You could say that The Car probably pushed me even further on down the road to loving garbage movies with its demon-engine and devil-gas.

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Ticks (aka Infected), another movie of my youth, I watched with the same childhood friend from earlier. This movie featured Seth Green and Carlton from Fresh Prince, camping in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Nearby marijuana farmers were spraying their crops with a chemical which would double production but that also affected the local tick population. The ticks turned into mutant-ticks and everything else stayed the same. This is another case of B movie science, as I like to call it, because there’s no other way to explain why ticks would turn into giant mutants and nothing else would. Anyway, these giant ticks grew inside of people and then exploded out of them. Poor Carlton found his end in a cabin and he was torn to pieces. We laughed and laughed, but were also a little wary of heading into the woods in my back yard after watching it.

Finally, at some point in my teen years I purchased a beat up VHS copy of Warriors of the Apocalypse at Blockbuster for $1, which was a gift in disguise. I was naively looking for a good deal on a good movie, something cheap but worth watching, and happened across one of the worst post-apocalyptic movies of all time. Let’s just say it featured incredibly bad Filipino dubbing and men in leather pants, battling pygmies in the jungle with rocket guns.

I suppose the other reason I enjoy these grainy travesties is because I find it amazing that somewhere out there, someone thought movies like Future War, Santa With Muscles, or Bronx Executioner were worth making and then releasing to the masses. I end up watching them just to see how horrible they are and for the shock value – just how could anyone take this shit seriously enough to make a complete movie out of it? Did they know it was trash when they were filming? Have they no self-respect? Wasn’t there someone around to tell them that what they were filming was absolutely horrible? The short answer: no. I recently watched American Movie, which documented the making of an indie horror movie. This proved to me that it is all in the eye of the beholder. They don’t know it’s horrible, or don’t believe it to be, and that’s how these people end up creating such effective shitfests of movies. It takes determination to make a movie, and when the determination is misguided, something horrible can be spawned.

Then, something harder to comprehend: somebody found these movies and decided they would be good to shift from VHS to DVD. Why is it I can’t find a DVD copy of The Hill starring Sean Connery, but They Saved Hitler’s Brain and Classic Ghetto Action Movies are in print? Yes, those are the actual titles of the DVDs, the second being a collection of movies all dealing with ghetto action. I wasn’t aware it was even a genre, but you can now, for $4.78, eat your heart out – along with Classic Hitchhiker Movies, Classic Disaster Movies (they’re so classic that 3 of them are on one disc), and The Best of Charles Bronson. The usual with these types of movies is that they’re so horrible and bizarre that they end up being humorous, or, which is much more common – they are simply painful to watch.

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Happily, there are quite a few funny/bad movies out there, so I’ve been scouring IMDB for about two hours, wasting time and reading reviews on these trashy flicks. I ended up with 10 horrible movies added to my cart, weighing in at around 60 bucks. I was forced to trim it down to a couple, because I’m a jobless miscreant. It wounds my soul, deeply. However, I’m going to purchase these and then report back with my findings. Certainly, a movie with a name like “They Saved Hitler’s Brain” has to be good. The title seems to speak to you personally. It has an urgent and depressing message: “They saved Hitler’s brain!” it shrieks – “They really did! It’s crazy! You’d better go and check it out right now.” I just can’t say no to that. I ended up purchasing They Saved Hitler’s Brain, Hercules in New York (Arnold’s first movie and disaster), the Black Gestapo, and Swordsman with an Umbrella. The Black Gestapo & Swordsman were about 3 bucks, so it was a good deal over all.

I’ve really only come to one conclusion after all of my searching and purchasing today: I wish I had more money for this crap. My list just seems to keep growing. For instance, I uncovered stuff like Troll 2 and Feeders, which I’m now practically forced to view. The first Troll movie was a legitimate horror film, but Troll 2 is supposedly like drowning yourself in diarrhea, a soul-shattering disaster which is not even allowed to be sold individually. It is apparently so bad that the producers figured the only way they could get people to buy it was to package it along with another less horrible movie. The kicker is that Troll 2 doesn’t even feature trolls in it, which makes the whole thing seem even stranger.

Checking out the feedback bad movies are given is also incredibly entertaining. The dismay and anger that the average person expresses over these seemingly benign movies is always fun to watch. IMDB and Rottentomatoes are full of reviews by these “victims” – some people note that the movies are actually painful to endure and that they could not be forced to watch them again at gun point. One man wrote “My wife may well divorce me if I ever make her watch it again.” So, just like good movies can be life changing, or can alter your views, make you happy, cheer you up, sober you – bad movies can lead you to divorce, drive you insane, or could possibly kill you if you were ever in a situation where you were forced to watch said movie or die. If I were ever to be a serial killer, I think that is what I would do: force people to watch movies like Troll 2 for days on end or offer them death. Do I smell a script in the works?

La Floride

June 3, 2005

When it rains it Florida, it is a torrential downpour of sorts and rumors of flooding are shifted from person to person and house to house like it might be the end of the world. The water in the streets of this little town builds up so quickly that it’s even hard to drive. And then later in the day, the sun emerges, an unhealthy heat rises and all traces of water will disappear. The only hint that it has rained is the smell in the air and the ever-so-slight dampness of the concrete or grass beneath your feet. And while you can’t ever rely on your feet or your skin, you can always rely on your nose…rain takes everything in the dirt and casts it into the air in an ugly, earthy scent. The worms, the shit, the dead and the beautiful; the roots of the flowers blooming, the biggest trees who have dominated over humans for hundreds of years. That smell murmurs something in your ear that you can’t quite make out, and it sounds good. Whatever it is, it feels great. That’s what Florida is good for. Rain.

That’s about it. Don’t even think about coming here, you tourist bastards.