Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fuck the New York Islanders

After reading about fan reactions around the NHL regarding the Christian Ehrhoff deal, I've seen a lot of Islanders fans whining about the deal.  (Two players and counting that looked that situation up and down and said

Seriously, fuck them.  And I say that even though the Islanders are one of the few Eastern Conference teams I can tolerate (mostly because they suck and because they successfully out-gooned the entire Penguins roster).

There is no upside to playing for the New York Islanders.  None.  The team is god fucking awful, it plays in one of the most competitive divisions in the NHL, it has one of the worst GMs, it has the smallest and worst building in the NHL, and plays in front of some of the worst fans.  Seriously, Islanders fans either don't show up, or show up and shower the ice with garbage.  It's a lose-lose.  I can sympathise a little bit with Isles fans for being saddled with poor ownership and shitty GMs, but I can't feel that sorry because they're such dicks.

And now they can go eat some.

The Best Editorial Regarding Gay Marriage Ever

From the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Jesus's Message Relevant in Marriage Law Debate

To the Editor:
I understand the fear that many christians have about gay marriage.  To some, this is about obeying god's law.  But I would challenge them to ask themselves whether they really know god's will in this case.

My understanding of the christian message is that Jesus was a revolutionary figure who came to challenge others to accept those considered "outcast" in his day and age by religious and political authorities.  His message of radical love and inclusion is just as relevant today as it was when he was alive.

I am reminded of the moving passage in "Huckleberry Finn" where Huck decides that he would rather go to hell than abandon his friendship with the fugitive slave Jim.  Mark Twain, the author, in my opinion, expressed a much more christian message than that of his contemporaries, though he himself may have been an atheist.  Many of his christian contemporaries used the bible to justify slavery.

If our fear of hell is greater than our fear of lack of charity, then we are missing the spirit of the christian message.  As a straight black man, I am honored to stand with my gay friends as an ally, as I see them to be just as beautiful reflections of god as anyone else.  New York State did the right thing.

-Aly Wane

Six Short Stories

Six Short Stories are available for purchase as a compilation.

Smashwords (Most diverse file options available)
Kindle (Link will be posted when available)
(Also available at Lulu, but I won't link because their revenue options mandate a higher cost.)

The Suicide Notes (Romance - 2006) - 2,300 words
A lonely youth drops a suicide note in an isolated mailbox for no one in particular to find. Unbeknownst to him, someone does.

Perception (Romance - 2006) - 1,400 words
A nighttime visitor makes a college student wonder what types of communication are truly important.

Oak (Horror - 2011) - 3,400 words
The oak tree that dominates the Marshville Town Cemetery has a nasty habit of getting its roots into coffins and wrenching the corpses out of the earth.

Mount Marcy (Erotica/Adventure - 2010) - 7,300 words
A couple spends a weekend enjoying the idyllic setting of the highest peak in New York State.

Wings (Drama - 2009) - 5,800 words
Vivid dreams and an odd nighttime visitor make a man question his purpose in the world.

Promise Ring (Romance - 2006) - 2,500 words
When a college student's rejected proposal turns a relationship into ashes, an obnoxious young girl helps him rise again.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why Regehr Waived His No Movement Clause

The Sabres as High School and College Stereotypes

Based solely on what I've gleaned in their mannerisms from interviews.

Thomas Vanek is...
The triple threat.  Smart, athletic, and likable, he has it all.

Derek Roy is...
The player.  Six girlfriends and a couple boyfriends for this one.

Drew Stafford is...
The lovable dork.  You know, the Chess Club Captain that's just endearing enough to be universally loved.

Jason Pominville is...
The teenaged adult.  After spending years raising his younger siblings, he's got responsibility out the ass.

Tyler Ennis is...
The frat boy.  "Yo brah, let's grab a coupla Nattys then hit the gym!"

Jochen Hecht is...
The foreign kid.  (Didn't see that one coming, did you?)

Paul Gaustad is...
The friendly jock.  Star athlete?  Who cares, he'll still hang with you.

Tim Connolly is...
The douchebag jock.  What are you looking at, dweeb?

Nathan Gerbe is...
The mastermind.  Can't outsmart this one.

Patrick Kaleta is...
The wiseass rebel.  Everyone wants to kick his ass.

Cody McCormick is...
The 22 year old junior that rides his motorcycle to high school.  Scary.

Brad Boyes is...
The new kid.

Tyler Myers is...
The 11 year old varsity starter.

Jordan Leopold is...
The theatre major.  I throw my hands up in the air sometimes...

Andrej Sekera is...
The quiet one.  Who looks like he's one bad day away from a killing spree.

Mike Weber is...
The freshman with a goatee and 30 inch biceps.

Ryan Miller is...
The jock who's cocky as hell...and good enough to back it up.

Patrick Lalime is...
That guy who's nice to everyone.

Jhonas Enroth is...
The backup QB talented enough to make the starter nervous.

Lindy Ruff is...
The principal that misses corporal punishment.

James Patrick is...
The buddy teacher.

Brian McCutcheon is...
The incompetent teacher.

Terry Pegula and Ted Black are...
The alumni who got famous and then bought the school, renovated it, and added 20,000 seat stadiums for every sport.  Even girls' bowling.

Kissing Ellen King on the Horizon

I guess it's time to talk a little bit more about Kissing Ellen King, the novel that I'm presently working on, and have only vaguely described up until now.

The big issue has been that the novel contains more personal history in it than any of my previous books, though it is still a work of complete fiction.  I guess my fear has split in two around the prospect that the people who read will too easily forget that it is a work of complete fiction.  The first aspect of that fear is that people will see too much of me in the book and judge me for things that never happened.  The second is that people will see too much of themselves in the book in the negative traits of certain characters.

So I'll take this time to reiterate that this is a work of complete fiction.  While some things may have a basis in reality, that reality has been stretched significantly out of shape for the purposes of writing a better story.

So...Kissing Ellen King...I'll just describe this in a book jacket sort of format:

Jack Chandler is a twentysomething registered sex offender who has a story to tell that differs significantly from the one described by the court order that has condemned him to the life of a pariah.  Kissing Ellen King is that story.  It follows Jack from adolescence into early adulthood as he describes the series of events that took him from meeting the love of his life to being questionably convicted of illicit sexual conduct and placed on par with child molesters and rapists.  His neighbors have had their say in vandalizing his apartment with vile graffiti and villifying him from afar.  Now he will have his.

Right now the story sits at just over 36,000 words.  I originally thought that 50,000 would be a good mark, but the story is proving more complex than I had intially imagined.  I think 80,000 words may be more likely.  If I were to guess, I would probably peg the finish date at early September, but that excludes any edits that will need to be made.  Hopefully I can make it available for Kindle and company by the beginning of October.  (The reason this is so far back is because I will be editing a collection of short stories, Arnett Tanner Wants to Die, and Skankarella around writing this.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Excel's RandBetween Function Picks Next Year's NHL Season

For those of you not familiar with Excel, the RandBetween formula generates a random number between specified high and low boundaries.  I thought it would be fun to let this function pick NHL playoff teams for the following season.

How it was done:
I figured that each NHL team would be within one standard deviation (7) of its wins total from the previous season, and within the high (13) and low (5) values for shootout and overtime losses.  With the generator filling in those two columns, the losses column could be filled in by however many more games each team needed to hit 82.

To put that in simpler terms, the wins and overtime and shootout losses formulas for each team looked like this respectively:
=randbetween(x-7,x+7) x = that team's wins in 2011

Of course going through that for each team was likely to produce an (impossible) uneven number of wins and losses.  So I created another modifier that picked teams at random and subtracted a win (and added a loss) from/to their standings until the columns were equal.  These are your 2011-2012 standings as chosen by Excel:

Eastern Conference
  1. Pittsburgh - 53-22-7 (113 pts)
  2. Tampa Bay - 50-24-8 (108 pts)
  3. Boston - 49-23-10 (108 pts)
  4. Philadelphia - 47-23-12 (107 pts)
  5. Buffalo - 46-26-10 (102 pts)
  6. Montreal - 39-30-13 (91 pts)
  7. Toronto - 39-30-13 (91 pts)
  8. Carolina - 42-34-6 (90 pts)
  9. Washington - 40-32-10 (90 pts)
  10. Ottawa - 38-33-11 (87 pts)
  11. Winnipeg - 38-33-11 (87 pts)
  12. NYR - 37-34-11 (85 pts)
  13. New Jersey - 35-41-6 (75 pts)
  14. NYI - 29-46-7 (65 pts)
  15. Florida - 26-45-11 (63 pts)
Western Conference
  1. San Jose - 55-17-10 (120 pts)
  2. Chicago - 51-23-8 (110 pts)
  3. Vancouver - 54-19-9 (107 pts)
  4. Detroit - 48-26-8 (104 pts)
  5. Nashville - 47-27-8 (102 pts)
  6. Los Angeles - 46-27-9 (101 pts)
  7. Dallas - 45-28-9 (99 pts)
  8. Anaheim - 44-28-10 (98 pts)
  9. Phoenix - 42-35-5 (89 pts)
  10. St. Louis - 38-34-10 (86 pts)
  11. Columbus - 38-37-7 (83 pts)
  12. Minnesota - 35-36-11 (81 pts)
  13. Calgary - 32-41-9 (73 pts)
  14. Colorado - 27-49-6 (60 pts)
  15. Edmonton - 20-50-12 (52 pts)

BDSM Themed T-Shirt for Sale

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing Fiction vs. Writing Non-Fiction

I'm buried 33,000 and change words into writing a short story that has more personal history in it than it does fabrication even though the story is ultimately fictional in nature.  I've just now gotten to the point where the story starts to diverge from what happened in real life.  In short, I'll be able to do what I do best, make shit up.

Going from writing over sixty pages of personal history to complete fantasy is a lot like stepping into a cold shower and waiting for the water to warm.  I can tolerate the icy chill, but there is a definite anxiousness there.  And when that first stream of warmth hits me, it all becomes worth it.

I'm not knocking non-fiction, god knows I write it often enough (and am in fact doing so right now), but fiction is definitely a different breed.  I think because non-fiction is often so mundane.  I have a world around me to live in, why would I want to shirk that for writing about it?  But to create something, to imagine myself or imagine a character (there is often little difference) in a place completely of my making is so alluring to me.  It's like watching, experiencing, and transcribing a dream all at the same time.  I'm an observer, but I'm also there.

I'm the little kid that grew up but never stopped seeing monsters, never stopped imagining the floor is lava.  That is something special to me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kitty Hugztyme

My Hockey Stats (aka I am a Loser)

Yes, I know it's the bottom tier of a rec. league and that stats are kind of lame unless the games mean something.  I understand that tracking them makes me a bit of a loser, but I've kept stats on pretty much every mundane facet of life since I could write because I love looking at numbers.  And being new to hockey, tracking stats is a great way to track my improvement.

Our league actually does keep track of some basic stats, goals, assists, and save percentage for goalies.  The only real number I pay attention to on the website is goals because the assist totals are all out of whack.  From mixing up numbers to not counting secondary assists to forgetting that the beginning of the play was a faceoff win (I lose so many assists this way), they're simply never right.

2009 Preseason 6 4 8 12 2.00 0.67 1.33
2010 Preseason 7 12 12 24 3.43 1.71 1.71
2011 Preseason 9 12 27 39 4.33 1.33 3.00
2009 Regular Season 16 4 13 17 1.06 0.25 0.81
2009 Playoffs 1 1 2 3 3.00 1.00 2.00
2010 Regular Season 14 6 19 25 1.79 0.43 1.36
2010 Playoffs 1 1 0 1 1.00 1.00 0.00
2011 Regular Season 10 12 15 27 2.70 1.20 1.50
2011 Playoffs 0 0 0 0 ### #### ####
Floor Hockey 20 23 55 78 3.90 1.15 2.75
2010 Fall Session 9 9 25 34 3.78 1.00 2.78
2011 Tournament 4 2 3 5 1.25 0.50 0.75
Total 97 86 179 265 2.73 0.89 1.85

I think that manages to be fairly easy to follow. I've done a pretty good job at hitting my goals. My first season playing I just wanted to rack up a handful of points, score a few goals, and hopefully be a point per game player, which I managed fairly easy. The second year I wanted to become more consistent, to have fewer point-less games and to improve upon my first year's numbers. Again, I hit that pretty easily.

This season I wanted to become one of the top offensive players on the team, and I figured if things went well I could hit double digit goals. I've scored in eight of our ten games and am second on the team in goals and points as well as tenth in the league (last I checked). I didn't expect to score quite this much, especially with the majority of my goals coming as the result of solid play, not poor goaltending.

Regular Season 11

Game 1 1 3 4
Game 2 2 2 4
Game 3 1 0 1
Game 4 0 0 0
Game 5 3 4 7
Game 6 1 2 3
Game 7 2 1 3
Game 8 0 0 0
Game 9 1 2 3
Game 10 1 1 2

I started off the year potting our team's first goal of the season in a 6-4 win.  I was crashing the net when a rebound put the puck right on my stick with everything to shoot at.  The second game of the year probably contained my most impressive goal, but I'll go through the first one before I get to that.  I was playing the point on defense when the puck came back to me.  I looked up to see one of our big guys in front of the net, and the goalie hidden behind him so I shot hard and low.  The goalie never even reacted.  The second goal came shorthanded late in the game with us up 5-2.  In inline hockey the puck doesn't slide as much so you either need the defense to be close, or to win a faceoff back hard.  They did neither so I picked off the oppositions faceoff win and beat everyone down the ice, putting the puck away low glove.  We won 6-2.

The third game was my worst of the year.  Whether I was sick, or just tired, I felt nauseous the entire game.  I scored on a rush down the left wing putting a good snapshot low glove, but was a big non-factor in the game.  We lost 8-5.  Not only was I shut out in our fourth game, but the entire team was as well.  I had the two best chances of the night, ringing one off the goalie's stick, and shooting another from point blank straight into his glove.

Our fifth game was easily my best of the year.  I spent time racking up assists early, but when we called timeout with 4:32 to go and down 8-5, I had no goals to show for it.  Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, I was coming down the wing and ripped probably the hardest shot I've had (not saying much) blocker side just below the top of the faceoff circle.  Less than two minutes later I was again crashing the net on a two on one.  I actually ended up falling over, and as I righted myself, I saw the rebound from the shot land right in front of me.  I put it in backhand from my knees bringing us to within one.  The game tying goal came with 29 seconds left on another two on one.  I had everything to shoot at and all day, and I made no mistake as I buried it dead center.  We would go on to score 15 seconds later and win 9-8.

My next goal came on what I thought would be my most effective way of scoring, standing in front of the net and deflecting pucks in.  The pass came from the left wing and I was there to get my stick on it and chip it by the goalie.  I scored my next two goals by accident, putting one in off a defenseman's skate, and chipping another five-hole on what was actually a flubbed pass attempt.  Finally tonight I slammed home a rebound in a disappointing night in which the team couldn't field any substitutes.

After a 2-0 start, we stand at 3-7, blowing multi-goal leads in at least two games.  I know I've contributed to both the good and the bad in that, but I've been happy with my play overall this season.  I look forward to continuing to improve as I build on my hockey experience, both playing smarter and fine tuning my skills.  I think if I could peak at a 20 goal season, or a goal per game pace for an entire season, I'd be pretty happy, but I'd be even happier to top .500 as a team.

Review: The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau

Genre: Suspense
Length: 106 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Big Names: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt
IMDB Score: 7.1 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Matt Damon, a politician, meets Emily Blunt, a ballerina and the love of his life, but mysterious forces are working to drive the couple apart.

Review: Highly entertaining.  Matt Damon is always excellent to watch, and watching him sort through his life while the members of The Adjustment Bureau work to keep it "on track," is endlessly entertaining.  The movie wrapped itself up a little quickly, and was a little cheesy at the end, but great to watch nonetheless.

Acting: 10/10 - It's Matt Damon.

Quality Within Genre: 8/10 - A little corny.

Entertainment Value: 10/10 - Again, Matt Damon is fantastic.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 10/10 - Good.

Rewatch Value: 7/10 - I might see it again.

Total: 9.0/10

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slashing Prices on My Books and Offering More Possibilities

Based on some reading and some research that I have done over the past few days, I have decided to stop trying to solicit a traditional publisher.  I will be self-publishing exclusively now to Kindle's store, to Lulu, to Smashwords, and to any other site I can find.

What This Means:
Arnett Tanner Wants to Die and Skankarella are just about ready to be made available.  I need to do one more edit on each which will come after I finish writing Kissing Ellen King.

I'll be able to produce more content because I'll be spending less time searching for agents and mailing letters and more time doing actual work that helps my writing get better and my stories become more interesting and more cohesive.

I will also be publishing a collection of short stories (most likely the two at the top of the page and 4-6 others for $.99), and if I can find enough good ones, poems.

Cost and Availability:
The big drawback to publishing online is that not everyone has an e-reader.  Not to worry, most smartphones have an app that is free and allows you to read on your phone.  If you don't like that, you can download my stories as a PDF onto your computer.  If you're still not a fan of using an electronic device to read, printing Arnett Tanner Wants to Die on two sides in size 10 font will cost you about $1.50.  Even with the cost of the book (likely to be $1.49), that's about a third of what you'd spend driving to the book store and picking up a physical copy.

The big draw to self-publishing is cost.  If I publish legitimately, I probably earn 6% royalties on a book that will be priced at around $8 which comes to around $.48 per book.  In this day and age no one wants to spend $8 on anything.  Plus my book would sit on a shelf with one or two other copies and thousands of books around it.  If a thousand people walk into Barnes and Nobles a day, five of them might notice, and maybe one would pick it up.  If I sell my book online, I make slightly more money (I think $.52) per book by offering the book for $1.49.  Plus in posting to here and on Twitter, I ensure that at least a hundred people know that my book is available for purchase.

I've decided that the majority of my work will be available for between $.99 and $1.99 based on cost, quality, length, etc.  This means that Cube Wars and The Chosen, already available via the links at the top of the page, have been cut down to $.99 and $1.49 respectively.*

*Due to differing options on Lulu and a higher floor for minimum pricing, any books available there will have to be slightly (around $.50) more expensive.

In short, this should be better for everyone.  I get to produce more content, you get to read more content, I have less stress, you pay less money.  Hopefully the bottom line is more publicity and sales for me.

(And if you don't have an e-reader, you should get one.  The cost is going way down and they look super nice, almost indistinguishable from physical books.  Plus on an e-reader you can hold multiple titles, adjust the font sizes and do plenty of other things you can't with an actual book, all to make your reading experience better.  The Kindle has a much higher market share (more popular), the Nook has more titles available.  Both are nice.)

Recently I have been made aware of a site called Smashwords that I am very excited about.  They're a bit more strict on their formatting guidelines for uploads, which has helped me immensely.  They offer the widest variety of file formats (about a dozen) for download of any site I've seen thus far which is why their upload criteria is very specific.  Things need to be presentable across a wide variety of formats.  This means that not only will my books look better in general, they will translate better to a variety of different file formats and e-readers.  I would highly recommend downloading any of my books from their site from now on due to the diversity of what they offer.  You can get The Chosen here.

NY Emerges from the Dark Ages

I won't hide the fact that the cheer that went up when the final tally was read brought a few tears to my eyes.  So often we are removed from the outcome of major events.  Wars happen overseas on foreign soil, natural disaster always seem to befall someone else, and the presidential election is a spectacle akin to the Super Bowl.  Indeed media often turns such things into entertainments and it sometimes seems like we're watching the outcome of a game.  At the end of the night most of us can just turn the TV off, push it from our minds like a bad loss by our favorite team and head to bed.

There was no game in Albany last night.  There was no outcome that could easily be forgotten.  This was real life.  There were couples huddled around the television and around government buildings in New York wondering if their lives would change forever, or if the chains they had carried thusfar would continue to age, would continue to burden them.  And when the votes were read, it was like a championship being won, multiplied by a hundred, or a thousand, or perhaps there is no number that can adequately describe the feeling.

Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo said it best in highlighting the fact that there was no justifiable argument against Marriage Equality.  Any such argument is at best a bold shit on the very principles under which this country was founded and at worst a KKK-esque bigotry brought into the present day.  (Blah blah blah religion, blah blah blah bible.  1). Religion does not run this country.  2). Marriage is an instution borrowed by religion, not a religious institution in itself.  That's why it isn't mandatory for a religious figure to marry two people.)

This vote is personal to me for a number of reasons, but the most apparent is that the rights of the minority were actually protected.  As someone who has grown up unique, weird, independent, and nerdy, I know all too well that the public likes nothing more than to shit all over that which they consider to be a minority, that they consider to be abnormal.  Watching something like homosexuality become recognized and embraced is vindication for every time I was picked on by peers, by classmates, by "friends," and by family.  Thank You NY Politicians.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

It's About Writing

Every once in a while Stumble Upon brings to an article titled "How to Get Famous Blogging," or some such, and invariably they all say the same things, one of which being that you need to stick to a particular topic.  The problem is that people tend to go to blogs for specialized interests.  Any content that doesn't cater to those interests is ignored, and if it's too prevalent, the blog itself is ignored.

I do not follow that rule.  Just in recent memory I've written posts on hockey, gay marriage, my personal life, and cats.  Which doesn't really bother me, I've always said that I started blogging to write, not to be read.  But that's what this whole thing is about really.  That's the focus.  It's a blog about writing, about my experiences as a writer, and about my writing itself, and the variance of the content (and style) works towards that end.

Where Did You Find This Kid?

Some day I'm going to make it as a writer.  I'm going to get that first book deal, and that second, and more, and each time I'm going to run around the house screaming like it was my first orgasm.  Not only that, but agents and editors and publishers are going to be asking themselves, "where the hell has this kid been?  And do you know why?  It's because I'm good.  I may forget it sometimes, I may have doubts, but deep down I know I'm good.  Damn good.  And it's not because people tell me I'm good and it's not because my mom has read my stuff and told me, "you need to swear less and stop talking about sex."  I'm smart enough to know that people telling me I'm good doesn't mean a fucking thing.

I know I'm good because Victoria and Eli read the first chapter of The Chosen and begged me to send them the rest of the novel.  I know I'm good because my girlfriend finishes my work in what seems like minutes because she can't put it down.  I know I'm good because I gave Ariel an unfinished half of the first draft of an unedited novel that I thought was complete shit, and she stayed up until four in the morning reading it.  I know I know I'm good because almost every one of my sister's friends reads my blog.  I know I'm good because Casie told me that my stuff moved her to tears.  I know I'm good because I was the ninth highest rated erotica writer on a site of over forty thousand....and people hate people that write things on the internet.  I know I'm good because NO ONE wants to read the shit that an amateur writer puts out...and people keep asking to read my work.

I know I'm good because agents and publishers don't know I'm good.  Because they don't know good writing from bathroom stall poetry.  Who are the 24 morons that rejected J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer, who have combined to sell over 500,000,000 books?  That's a book for every 12 people in the world.  Who are the idiots that told Stephen King no way, who are the incompetents that spurned writers like Maddox and Tucker Max until they became internet sensations and then were groveling at the door to sign them?

I know I'm good because people tell me, "I hate the genre that you're writing, but I'd still buy your book because I want to find out what happens.  People love me and they hate me.  They think I'm a genius and they think I'm a jackass.  They think I'm always right, and I'm always wrong.  They're touched and horrified, elated and disgusted, on cloud nine and buried in hell.  But they never ignore me because I am so damned good at eliciting an emotional respose that they can't help themselves.

I'm that fucking good, and I won't stop until everyone knows it.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Other Woman

 The Other Woman

Genre: Romantic Drama
Length: 119 Minutes
Rating: R
Big Names: Natalie Portman, Lisa Kudrow
IMDB Score: 6.3 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Natalie Portman is the affair turned wife of a lawyer and stepmother to his son.  The couple's attempts at their own child end in tragedy and Portman is forced to deal with the death of her infant daughter while withstanding the taunts of her husband's ex-wife and her stepson.

Review: Emotionally devastating.  That's the only way I can describe this movie.  I love movies like that.  Kudrow's character is one of the most vicious that you'll ever see and her digs at Portman's character are downright horrible.  A slow paced movie that not a lot of people will relate to, but definitely worth a watch.

Acting: 10/10 - Superb.

Quality Within Genre: 10/10 - Excellent.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 - The slow pace will turn off some.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 10/10 - Good.

Rewatch Value: 7/10 - One of those movies that is great to see once, but not worth much in watching again.

Total: 9.0/10

Review: Hot Tub Time Machine

Hot Tub Time Machine

Genre: Comedy
Length: 101 Minutes
Rating: R
Big Names: John Cusack
IMDB Score: 6.6 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Four guys go back in time to when they were in high school.  Hilarity ensues.

Review: My favorite part about the entire movie was how they glossed over the physics of traveling back in time in a hot tub.  They were like, "yeah we went back in time in a fucking hot tub, what of it?"  The movie was funny, endearing, and had a fair amount of ass.  All the things that make a good R-rated comedy.

Acting: 9/10 - Nothing spectacular.

Quality Within Genre: 8/10 - Somewhere between good and great.

Entertainment Value: 10/10 - Pretty funny.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 6/10 - It's a hot tub time machine, who cares?

Rewatch Value: 7/10 - Not a bad party movie.

Total: 8.0/10

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Does the New York Family Research Foundation Know they Come Off Sounding Like the Klan?

As some of you are aware, I follow the NYFRF and SaveMarriageNY on twitter for a bunch of reasons.  Partly to know my enemy, partly because I'm a masochist, and partly to see them lose their shit when Marriage Equiality becomes a reality and history and progressiveness start to bury them.

Why they have the word "research" in ther name is beyond me since they only thing they do that even comes close to research is sending money to religious research groups to come up with fancy studies that tell their members what they want to hear and already believe.  (Presumably they also gather around and masturbate to Jesus afterwards.)  If they want to just cut right to the chase, they should just call themselves The KKK for Gay Bashers.  (TK3GB sounds way more badass than NYFRF anyways.)

This organization is so ridiculous sometimes it defies all common sense.  Like the time they complained about peaceful pro-LGBT activists carrying signs that "said things like 'Another Straight New Yorker for LGBT Equality & Justice' and 'All Families Deserve Equality.'"  Why this nonsesnse was simply "an effort to portray the homosexual and transgender lifestyle as normal behavior," and the NYFRF denounced this as "promoting hate."  (Wtf mate?)

Or the time...sorry, times plural, they've bitched about legislation aimed at protecting homosexuals and transgendered students from bullying harassment and violence.  They protested the Safe Schools for All Students Act saying that it was "advancing the homosexual agenda."  And they didn't even try to hide why they hated it, explaining in the very next sentence that the "SSASA seeks to prohibit harassment, discrimination, bullying and cyber-bullying in public schools by other students and employees.  The bill extends protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students."  Why would an organization protest a bill that is aimed towards eliminating violence and protecting children?  Why because "no mere act of legislation will stop children from engaging in bullying activities!"  The bill is "more about promoting alternative lifestyles to New York's public school students than anything else."

So let me get this straight, because you disagree with a certain lifestyle, you want students to be allowed to harass, bully, beat, and maim said students without recourse?  Are you fucking kidding me?  The best part is when the article finishes by saying "the respect (for every individual) does not include condoning behaviors that the bible calls sin."  Uh, do I need to get out the long list of absurd behaviors that the bible calls a sin again?  Do I need to start harassing Christians about their bowl cuts again?  (Thanks Leviticus.)  It's funny because in other areas on their website they talk about how pro-gay activists are violent and that Christians need to respond by loving everyone.  So where does not only failing to respect them, but also conceding that it's okay to get physically violent with them fall into that plan?

The NYFRF has also bitched incessantly about SONDA, or the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act which bars people from being fired or denied work on the basis of sexual orientation.  They posted some long winded youtube clip on twitter interviewing some preacher (who had like three altar boys unzipping his pants) about how he was afraid the Catholic Church would become infiltrated by homosexuals.  Uh...have you been reading the news lately?  Not only has that ship sailed, it's circumnavigated the globe like six times.

It gets better when you consider the evil Federal Hate Crimes bill.  "The real purpose of this bill is to protect homosexuals and cause anyone committing a crime against them to not only pay for their crime, but to pay an additional penalty because the victime was a homosexual."  Oh the horror!  Perpetrators paying for their crimes?  WHAT KIND OF WORLD ARE WE LIVING IN?  Seriously, why shouldn't the NYFRF be allowed to lynch gays and escape with a slap on the wrist at worst?  The article goes on to contest the inclusion of sexual orientation based hate crimes because their percentage is not seeing a dramatic rise.  Because that makes total sense.  Sorry Billy, the number of nerds getting their ass kicked hasn't gone up, so who cares?

But something called the Dignity Act that prohibits ALL HARASSMENT AND BULLYING IN SCHOOLS can't possibly be bad, right?  Oh yes it can, because ALL HARASSMENT AND BULLYING includes harassing or bullying a student for being gay.  The NYFRF has shown repeatedly that it wants its members and its members' children be allowed to taunt LGBT students to suicide without proper recourse.  (WHERE IS YOUR LOVING JESUS NOW, FAGGOT!)

All the while they keep insisting that they don't hate gays.  (They're not fond of being called hateful.)  They say that they are merely "hating the sin, but loving the sinner."  Okay, but where in loving the sinner does refusing to protect them from physical violence fall?  It makes no goddamn sense.  The entire NYFRF makes no goddamn sense unless you want to act out against a certain community and bury your evil under the guise of morality and religion.

Their Same-Sex Marriage section under their Issues tab is by far their largest, which is really fucking stupid.  Let's say I borrow a tool from you, a hammer.  Does that give me the right to dictate how that hammer is used until the end of time?  Of course not, that's ridiculous.  But that's basically what religion has done with marriage (and virtually everything else).  They borrowed it from the Pagans, attached invisible man in the sky and called it holy.  It's no more theirs to dictate what it means and how it is used than your hammer is mine.

It all comes back to the same thing.  These people just hate people that are different than them.  They can hide behind "hate the sin, love the sinner," as much as they want, but their actions do nothing to back up their words.  The NYFRF and its affiliated organizations are nothing more than hate groups, modern day Ku Klux Klans hiding behind the guises of love, morality and religion.  There is no morality in refusing to punish a bully because he sent a student to the hospital for being gay.  There is nothing good in the NYFRF.

If you can march around the state in a giant honking RV claiming to be spreading an institution dedicated to love and peace while belonging to an organization that has no problem with unpunished physical violence against certain groups of people, you're nothing short of mentally insane and you scare the shit out of me.

The Slippery Slope Argument is Stupid

I held off on reading yesterday's editorial section of my local newspaper for as long as possible because the feature was the impending vote on Marriage Equality in New York and I expected the worst.  When I finally did resign myself to being extremely disappointed in people I came to find that four of the five letters to the editor were pro-Marriage Equality.  The fifth presented an argument I've been seeing a lot lately, that legally confirming Marriage Equality puts our society on a slippery slope towards destruction and opens the door for such things as the marriage of minors (already possible), and polygamy.

The slippery slope argument is ridiculous because it works in hypotheticals (this may happen), and often points on the slope have no correlation.  What polygamy has to do with Marriage Equality is anyone's guess.  Opponents only use it because they're in the minority on gay marriage so they need to make a comparison with an evil in which they're in the majority.  But saying that Marriage Equality will bring about a push for the legalization of polygamy makes absolutely no sense whatsoever and any rational human being can recognize this.  Mainly because Marriage Equality is already present in several states, none of which possess any sort of polygamist movement whatsoever.  (The only polygamists I've ever heard of are cult leaders, a perversion of religion, not secularism.)  Saying that Marriage Equality will bring about a push for Polygamy because it erodes marriage is like saying that letting your son pee in the woods will bring about a desire to pee in the house because it erodes his need for a toilet.

But while we call all laugh at the stupidity of this man, and his fallacious argument, that's not even the best part.  The best part is the fact that he summed up his entire letter by basically paraphrasing a quote from Darth fucking Vader.  Are you kidding me?


I was disappointed to see that my representative is the only state senator from Central New York in favor of same-sex marriage. The same-sex marriage movement is not the “right side of history,” it is not inevitable in this modern age, it is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is not an extension of the civil rights movement in the truest sense of the term, it is not the next step in the evolutionary process, it is not good for this state or any state or any country. Same-sex marriage is an erosion of traditional values, another step in the unraveling of civil society, a dangerous precedent that will without a doubt open the door to all manner of relationships involving various numbers of men, women and even children being referred to and protected as “marriage.”

Consider history: Polygamy was one of the issues that caused the U.S. Congress to deny the petition for statehood from the state of Deseret, which later became known as Utah. Do you think Congress at that time would have approved of a state that allowed same-sex marriage? Of course not. Given the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage nowadays, what barriers would there be for a state, such as New York, to introduce legal polygamy? The only barrier to these atrocities are the decency and moral conviction of the populace and their elected leaders.

I am grateful the senators from the other Central New York districts still retain their moral convictions and consider them valid grounds on which to base a vote. Search your heart, Sen. Valesky; if there’s anybody home in there, you will know the right thing to do.

Vonden Sleight

Review: The Speed of Thought

The Speed of Thought

Genre: Sci-Fi
Length: 93 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Big Names: Independent Film, No One of Note
IMDB Score: 4.9 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Joshua Lazarus is a Scoper, a human being who can read thoughts, employed by the United States government.  Their unique abilities cause all Scopers to go insane by the age of twenty-nine and Lazarus just turned twenty-eight.  On one of his last missions, he meets a previously unaccounted for Scoper who is 31.

Review: I need to stop watching so many mindless shitty action movies because I don't have to actually pay attention to them.  When I get to a movie in which I do need to pay attention, I end up having to rewind, or I miss key elements.  I think the only thing that holds Indie sci-fi movies back is a potential lack of special effects quality.  TSoT had to have at least had a decent budget because the effects are superb.  This is one of the best sci-fi movies I've seen, right up there with Franklyn, and No One is Doing this.  Unfortunately due to the intricate plot, I can't really explain why.  Just watch it.

Acting: 8/10 - The female lead is a little weak in some scenes.

Quality Within Genre: 10/10 - A gem.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 - If you don't pay attention early, you'll likely be confused.  It takes a while to understand the nature of the world the writers have created.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 10/10 - Very consistent.

Rewatch Value: 10/10 - I will be adding this to my collection.

Total: 9.4/10

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

How I Met My Girlfriend

Right now said girlfriend is probably reading this going "oh shit..." but don't worry, I'll keep it clean.  It's a good story to tell because I think some people are skeptical about some of the methods we used for no real reason.  Online dating is stigmatized, I think unfairly, because of a small handful of horror stories, and because the world is run by extroverts who simply cannot grasp why singles might not want to booze into each other at the nearest bar.

I came across her profile on a vanilla dating site one evening in January.  It was her freshly shaved head that caught my eye, a look that precious few have the facial beauty to pull off with any sort of success.  I'm a sucker for uniqueness (and for stunning blue eyes) so I knew I had to talk to this girl.  I sent out a short message and tried to temper my already rising expectations.

I wrote:
Absolutely adore the shaved head I have to say and I think abrasiveness is in the eye of the beholder, or the particular sense under siege by said abrasiveness. I fit pretty much all your 'message me ifs' so here I am, messaging you if.


P.S. I made you a boot so you can crush bugs


(It's not a very good boot) 

Gf wrote:
Thanks, I'm really liking the shaved head too. It's growing in a lot faster than I expected, which is disappointing. May be about time to shave it down again.

The boot is awesome, thank you. It will be perfect for stomping those little nasties. I usually wear my barefooting shoes -- not so good for stomping bugs. And I like boots... especially the big black steel-toed kind. That's another thing though.

Anyway, so I meet a lot of your "message me ifs" too and I could talk about fetish porn almost endlessly. I am definitely a fan... we could be onto something here :P

Sometimes when you message someone the conversation is awkward and stilted.  Either they shut you down with one word responses (seriously, what's the point?) or you just have different methods of communicating.  Abbi and I clicked early and often as we raced through all the big topics for both of us without much need for segues.  Hockey, Horseback Riding, and then we got to the good stuff, BDSM.  It turned out that we were both members of a decidedly less vanilla dating/social networking site and checked each other out there as well.

Messaging on the sites quickly turned to instant messaging as neither of us felt inclined to get in our own ways with unwritten rules about "how soon you should contact someone."  I knew pretty quickly that I wanted to meet up with her soon, but I also knew that going from the internet to a face to face meeting can be difficult.  The biggest fear is that you're some kind of psycho, looking to lure women into your lair of torture.  (Actually she might not have minded that.)  I tried to tell her as much as I could about myself, about my family without being a conversation hog.  I figured the more she knew about me, the more comfortable she would be in meeting me.  Neither of us really wanted to webcam much, but we did talk on the phone a few times.

She seemed pretty down to earth, intelligent, attractive, and all the other things that matter so I started discussing a possible meet-up.  It seemed a little soon, but also convenient so I suggested I take her to the Sabres game I had tickets for that week.  I guess my efforts to make her comfortable had succeeded because she had no trouble hopping in the car with someone she'd never met in person and letting them drive her an hour away.  (To the rape forest!  Just kidding, to Buffalo!)

I was taken aback by how cute she was in person.  Lucky me, I must be the only person where every date I've met from the internet (all two of them) has been more attractive than their photos.  I also noticed her colorful converse(?) shoes.  Another win in my book.

It's kind of interesting how some people just naturally get along.  They can talk for hours about anything and everything without even noticing where the time is going.  Abbi and I were like that from the start.  It was evident that we just worked together.

I figured I'd take her to my favorite spot in Buffalo (besides the arena of course), Gabriel's Gate in Elmwood.  (Taking a girl out to dinner is a win in my book because it's pretty easy to impress.  I'M PAYING FOR EVERYTHING, LOOK HOW AWESOME I AM!)  There we met up with my tall and somewhat intimidating (in appearance) friend Phil, stopping by for a drink before taking his son down to the arena.  Conversationally Phil and I shoved Abbi into a corner as we started to talk hockey.  I think that worked more to my advantage than it would have with other girls.  Still getting to know me, I think she appreciated getting a feel for how I interacted with friends, and being new to hockey was probably thankful for the opportunity to merely listen and pick things up rather than have any spotlight on her.

I don't think she knows this, but after Phil left, while she was washing the delicious wing sauce off her hands, I sent him a text.  "This girl is legit cute."  He agreed.  The few mile drive from the restaurant to the Arena gave Abbi a nice tour of some of the more beautiful parts of downtown Buffalo and her first look at the throngs of Sabres fans trudging through snow and cold to watch their beloved hockey team.

I know sporting events are seen as kind of lame for a first date, but I think people don't realize how perfect they are.  There's enough distraction that you're not overwhelmed by trying to converse the entire time, and enough stoppages that you can if you want to.  I knew Abbi was into me from the beginning (because come on, look at me) so I took the opportunity to get closer, putting my arm around her.  I took the fact that her mace remained put away and not in my eyes to be a good sign.

Nathan Gerbe was left all alone, McCormick looked like a fifty goal scorer and not a fifty face beater and Drew Stafford sealed the deal as the Sabres prevailed 3-2 in regulation.  After the game I steered her through the jubilant crowd and back to my car where we warmed up and enjoyed the goals a second time courtesy of Rick Jeanneret's voice.

The drive back to Rochester was rife with animated discussion and Abbi wound up inviting me in.  The first thing I noticed was that her room was set up pretty much exactly how I would have set things up.  In previous relationships I'd always felt out of place at their house, dorm, whatever, but Abbi's place just felt right.  The next step was as easy as it was obvious and I told Abbi that I'd be more than happy to be in a relationship with her, something she was in complete agreement with.

Here we are, five months later.

Review: Drive Angry

Drive Angry

Genre: Action
Length: 104 Minutes
Rating: R
Big Names: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard
IMDB Score: 5.6 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Nicolas Cage has escaped from hell to rescue his grand daughter from an evil cult.  All hell literally breaks loose.

Review: Confession, I love Nicolas Cage, even though the last two of his movies that I had seen, National Treasure II, and Knowing were horrifically bad.  I had low expectations for this movie, and they were pretty well met.  It was awful, but awful in a kind of amusing way.  Cage's character is bad ass for a bunch of random reasons, and there are a lot of naked titties in it that appealed to my male sensibilities.  It was just barely an hour and a half that I didn't mind donating to this movie.

Acting: 5/10 - Cage needs to quit playing action hero.

Quality Within Genre: 5/10 - Had plenty of actiony stuff, but a plot that grew more and more ridiculous.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 - Topless chicks, an undead Nic Cage shooting people.  Awesome.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 0/10 - Utterly ridiculous.

Rewatch Value: 0/10 - Not happening.

Total: 3.6/10

Review: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four

Genre: Action
Length: 109 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Big Names: Timothy Olyphant
IMDB Score: 6.2 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Alex is a member of a race of aliens with special powers that are being hunted by an assassin race.

Review: I saw a shitload of ads for this movie on TV, most of which featuring the chick with the Aussie/New Zealand accent who is only in maybe fifteen total minutes of the film.  It was a pretty mundane action film, entertaining, but with too much of a teeny, twilighty feel to be any good.  I felt bad for Timothy Olyphant having to put up with that crap.

Acting: 5/10 - "When we love someone, we love them forever."  Kill me now.

Quality Within Genre: 4/10 - Seemed amateurish at times.

Entertainment Value: 6/10 - Some of the CGI was cool.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 5/10 - Tough to have characters with ridiculous powers seem vulnerable enough to keep the audience interested in what happens to them.

Rewatch Value: 2/10 - Maybe to make fun of it.

Total: 4.4/10

Monday, June 20, 2011

Aloe: The Illuminati Scam

I have the unfortunate combination of being really pale and really forgetful, which leads to me being out in the sun without sunscreen on occasion.  I'm also really sensitive to cold and wind so I'm usually more covered than everyone else, but inevitably I get burnt.

I don't have a problem with sunburn, the pain is at such a low level that it doesn't really register with me.  What I do have a problem with is my body's stupid tendency to follow sunburn pain with a day of searing, constant, unstoppable itching.  And it isn't even consistent.  Face?  Never itched.  Legs?  Never itched.  Stomach?  Never itched.  Neck?  Never itched.  Back and arms?  Always itch with the power of a thousand mosquito bites.

So like a dumbass I apply moisturizer with aloe vera to these wounds because the bottle is all "herpity derpity this is good for your skin!"  Not only is applying that stuff akin to rolling around in phlegm, but it doesn't fucking work. anti-works.  It makes the itching worse.  And I know, itching is a sign that it's healing, yay!  Fuck my body, it can take an extra goddamn day to heal and not itch.

You know what I've found does work to combat the itching?  Fire.  Scalding testicle combusting water heated by fire or a fire substitute.  You want to fuck around with me itching?  Meet your older brother, Pain.  I'm a lot better friends with him than I am with you, and given the choice, I'm letting him kick your ass.  At the very least I have to put up with actual legitimate burns instead of burn wannabe sunburn and at the most it works a hell of a lot better to soothe my skin than fucking aloe vera which is probably a solution of lemon juice, salt, and asbestos.  I just popped out of a hot shower and...hey!  No itching!

Fuck you Aloe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What If: The Twisted Mind of a Writer

I'm relatively certain I could get away with killing my immediate family, not so much in the sense that law enforcement wouldn't be able to figure out who did it, but in the sense that I could be long gone before doing anything about it.  So long as I had an ounce of planning, and something that could kill quietly, I could be on my way out of the country with enough cash to tide me over for a while.  It would take three or four days, maybe even a week before anyone even suspected anything, and possibly longer before police got involved.

I never would of course because I like my famil and am not a psychopath, but these are the kinds of things a fiction writer thinks about. Stephen King highlights the "what if' statement as the inspiration of many novels.  This is how writers tend to think.  What if a man wanted to die, and it was a good thing (Arnett Tanner Wants to Die).  What if I tried to get away with murder?  (No novels yet, but we'll see.)

Making things up is not as easy as it sounds.  There has to be some sort of natural progression to a story.  Taking a single "what if" and building around it can help a plot develop more realistically than the most finely tuned plot outlines.  You "what if" can define the key motivation of a character, can be the very essence around which your novel is bound, or it can merely be a starting point, a beginning to a story that you follow until it runs its course.  (Which is what mine tend to be.)

Belated Lebron is such a Tool Post

I realize this is coming almost an entire year too late, but since I haven't started playing my sport until recently, the thought just struck me.  It would have taken hard work and determination to win a title in Cleveland.  It would have taken Lebron working tirelessly to improve himself, to go from arguably the best basketball player in the country, to unquestionably the best basketball player in the country.  Now in Miami, because the team is so much better than most others, he can sit back every other night and let the sheer talent of the players around him win games.

My dad worked tirelessly with me when I was a kid, so most years I was the best player on my Little League team.  I began to get used to being The Guy.  I was on a lot of bad teams over the years mostly due to the fact that my dad and I preferred to draft players we liked over players that might have been a bit more talented.  A lot of teams bent the rules by adding the father of the elite players to their staff as "coaches," thus ensuring that they were guaranteed that player in the draft.  To me that just didn't seem fun, moreso akin to the Yankees buying talent to win championships every season.  I'd rather have banded together with the guys I had grown up with and win with them.  We might not have been as good, but we were more of a team, and the victories seemed that much sweeter.

There were a few years where things all came together, where guys I'd been playing with for five or more years matured, and filled an almost perfectly complimentary set of roles on the team.  Whatever needed doing to win a game, it always seemed that there was one or two guys capable of doing it, whether it was a shutdown inning, a big hit, or simply a walk in a key situation.  There was a year we went something like 13-2 with four pitchers splitting the wins fairly evenly.  That was head and shoulders more fun than winning a high school championship with a team that was far and away the best in the county.

Perhaps some of it is the fact that it's always more fun to be the underdog, or that I have a bit of a hero complex and like to have the ball in my hands with the game on the line.  Certainly that's easier to accomplish when you're the best player on the roster.  Either way, I would never do what Lebron did, I would never go to a more talented team just so I could relax and play second fiddle and take nights off when I needed.  I want to be the hardest working guy every second of every game.  It's way more fun to try and raise the game of everyone around me than to buy a championship.

I guess I just don't understand the Lebron method.  It may not be as lame as I (and everyone else thinks), at least not in all cases.  It seems pretty clear that Lebron is a lazy shit who wants the easiest route possible to a title, but in others it can be borne out of shyness, or even selflessness, the desire to make things less about you as The Guy and more about The Team.

I don't know, but I know how I feel.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Review: Easy A

Easy A (2010)

Genre: Comedy
Length: 92 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Big Names: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow
IMDB Score: 7.1 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Emma Stone is an honor student that lies about being a slut.  Hilarity ensues.

Review: This came at the recommendation of my girlfriend and she didn't disappoint.  It was both hilarious and endearing from start to finish.  Emma Stone was a joy to watch, and Amanda Bynes was ridiculously entertaining.  Stone's retorts and one liners made the movie.

Acting: 10/10 - Stone's character reminded me a bit of Juno in her snarkiness and intelligence.

Quality Within Genre: 10/10 - A better Mean Girls type movie than Mean Girls.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 - Made me laugh out loud repeatedly.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 7/10 - Some of the characters were a little over the top, but that's part of what made it funny.

Rewatch Value: 9/10 - I'd rewatch it 2-3 more times probably.

Total: 9.0/10

Review: No Strings Attached

 No Strings Attached (2011)

Genre: Comedy
Length: 108 Minutes
Rating: R
Big Names: Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Ludacris
IMDB Score: 6.2 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Natalie Portman doesn't want your love, just your penis.

Review: I picked this up solely because it had Natalie Portman in it, my favorite actress, but expected it to be complete crap.  I've seen so many cookie cutter Jennifer Aniston Romantic Comedies that are so whitebread that I've lost all respect for the genre.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Somehow I always forget that Ashton Kutcher is a legitimately talented actor, probably because of his role on That 70s show.  Ludacris played the "funny black man that says outrageous shit" role perfectly, and some of the one liners in this movie are true gems.

Acting: 10/10 - Kutcher and Portman are great.

Quality Within Genre: 8/10 - Pretty funny and easy on the RomCom cheese.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 - Made me laugh out loud repeatedly.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 7/10 - I wasn't really feeling Portman's character's emotions at the end, but I watched the movie to laugh, not to be wowed by the love story.

Rewatch Value: 8/10 - RomComs get stale pretty fast, but this one was fairly funny.

Total: 8.4/10

Review: Battle Los Angeles

Genre: Drama/Action
Length: 116 Minutes
Rating: PG-13
Big Names: Aaron Eckhart
IMDB Score: 6.0 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Aliens attack Los Angeles...oh shit.

Review: I don't usually watch this kind of mainstream crap, but I figured that a movie about blowing up aliens had to at least be decent.  I was wrong.  The plot didn't have much of a sense of direction and the emotion of the movie lingered in the same place for far too long.  It felt like the entire last ninety minutes of the movie was one really long scene.  I fell asleep while watching it and had to restart halfway through.  Just bad.

Acting: 9/10 - Good enough.

Quality Within Genre: 3/10 - Some of the alien stuff was cool to look at, but the movie itself was boring.

Entertainment Value: 0/10 - That's what happens when I fall asleep.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 5/10 - The aliens seemed both brilliant, and horribly inept whenever the movie needed them to be.  I didn't penalize this more because it's kind of common in alien invasion movies.

Rewatch Value: 0/10 - I already fell asleep during it once.  I don't need to again.

Total: 3.4/10

Review: Megan is Missing

Megan is Missing (2011)

Genre: Mockumentary Horror (Psychological and Physical)
Length:  90 Minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Big Names: None
IMDB Score: 5.1 (out of 10)

Synopsis: Two teen girls fall victim to an internet predator.

Review: The reason this movie caught my eye was because there was a handwritten note on the case by the video store manager about the graphic content.  After about an hour of a few graphic descriptions of underage sex, I began to wonder what was so bad about the movie, and then the visuals began.  The last scene is particularly brutal in its simplicity and it's dialogue, which will haunt you in your sleep.  The worst horror movies (or the best) are the ones that horrify you, not by their images, but by the context.  This movie will do both.  I love movies that make you uncomfortable, so even though I probably wouldn't watch it again, I loved this movie.  But be warned.

Acting: 7/10 - The movie is a mockumentary, so a construct of webcams, interviews, news reports, etc.  The acting was good enough to not be distracting for being bad, but nothing spectacular.

Quality Within Genre: 10/10 - Superb in conveying the nastiness that it strives to convey.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 - My attention was fully captured throughout.

Realism (Within the world defined by the movie): 6/10 - Some of the dialogue and attempted slang was awkward.  The sluttiness of a few of the girls within was way too much.

Rewatch Value: 5/10 - I might watch it once more, but that's about it.  Most horror movies are tough to rewatch because all the surprises are gone.

Total: 7.4/10

Movie Reviews

I think I want to start doing movie reviews.  I've experimented with this before, but ultimately I quit because most of the movies I was watching were old and I didn't feel the reviews were relevant.  But I watch a ton of movies, and am always fond of having more to write about so I'm going to start again.  I'll try to find a format that is both concise and descriptive, which may take a few entries, but hopefully I can settle into something that works in well short order.

Friday, June 17, 2011

David Tyree, New Jersey Hero, Assbag

Unless you're from where I live, or a Giants fan, odds are you don't know who the fuck David Tyree is, mostly because he's only done one thing of note in his entire life.  Tyree, a former SU football player (I won't degrade students by calling him an alum or a graduate), is most famous for making the helmet catch that helped ruin the New England Patriots' perfect season.

Tyree recently popped into the news again for being prodded by the National Organization for (bigoted) Marriage to do an anti-Gay Marriage interview.  Which (as an aside) really speaks to how weak NOM is if the best they can do is David fucking Tyree.  Who's next, Mark Mancari?

The best part was when Tyree said the following in regards to the ability of same sex parents to raise children:

"This is what I do know," he said. "You can't teach something that you don't have. So two men will never be able to show a woman how to be a woman. That's just, for lack of better terms, common sense."

Kind of funny because Tyree grew up being raised by a single mother, or (in his words) unable to become something he didn't have.  Makes you really wonder about his ability to raise his own kids since there's no way he could have grown up to be a decent father.  Someone should look into their living situation in the Tyree household.  This is, for lack of better terms, common sense.

Life After Rick Jeanneret

Whether you want to squeeze every last year out of Rick that he has in him or think that the game has started to pass him by, the fact remains that we draw closer every day to Rick stepping down and someone else filling his shoes.  This past season we were treated to a few games each from Kevin Sylvester, Mark Jeanneret, and Dan Dunleavy.  I would have to guess that the percentage breakdown lies somewhere around 5% supporting the younger Jeanneret, maybe 25% behind Dunleavy, and maybe 40% in the Sylvester camp with the remainder preferring none of the above and hard at work on building an RJ robot.

I've jumped around a little bit between the three.  I don't mind Little J as much as a lot of people do, and think that with age, his voice could become a bit less grating.  More and more though I feel that he's like the offspring of so many superstars, good enough to thrive in the minors and inspire a lot of wishful thinking, but not cut out for the bigs.  I liked Dunleavy a lot, but my complaint with him is that he doesn't have much history with the Sabres or their fans.  I'm sure that would come in time, but the "who's this guy?" feeling kind of turns me off.

That leaves good old Kylvester.  I was pretty apathetic about him to start.  I didn't love him, but I didn't hate him, and because he isn't RJ, I found far too many things to nitpick in his style.  The more I watch him though, and think about him as the potential voice of the Sabres, the more I start to come around.  There is no doubt that Sylvester has a sharp mind for the game, perhaps too sharp at times.  One of the things I've noticed is that he anticipates the action and get's ahead of the play sometimes.  While this helps him keep up with the game, it can cause hiccups when something unexpected happens and he's talked himself into a corner.  But this is more an issue of rawness than anything.  I think that Sylvester has way more natural talent for announcing hockey than any of the rest, the problem is that he's had little opportunity to do so.  Like a highly drafted quarterback, Sylvester has quickly hit an announcing ceiling sitting on the bench.  The only way he can slide into the role of being "The Guy" is to actually be put into that role and allowed to learn by doing.

Sylvester had plenty of good moments in his limited time last season, the best of which being "Happy Drew Year" (which I didn't hear until later because I was at the game).  This year, instead of dreading the non-RJ games, I'm looking forward to seeing good ol' Kylvester in action alongside Danny Gare (with cameos from Rob Ray!).  One of the things that Sylvester brings that RJ doesn't is that he's got a much better connection to the younger fans, and with that a better knowledge of pop culture.  Something tells me he's got a few aces up his sleeve.  (Please god bring me " DON'T PANIC...IT'S NATHAN GERBE WITH THE GAME TYING GOAL!!!)  It is perhaps time to usher in the voice of a new generation, and I think the ceiling for our beloved Kylvester is a lot higher than people think.  Because of this he has my full support.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stanley Cup Schizophrenia: A Recap

So my initial prediction with about two weeks left in the regular season turned out to be my best one.  I said that Vancouver and Washington were the clear cut favorites to win the cup from each conference, and that Boston and Nashville were the clear cut dark horses.  Then I said a whole bunch of other shit.

About halfway through the playoffs after seeing two midgets murder the Sedins and then skate around wearing their skin, I called the twins the most true example of the stereotype that Europeans don't give a shit about winning the Stanley Cup.  I went one step further and promised that Vancouver would never win a cup with the Sedins on the roster.

Then I watched them beat Nashville and San Jose without even really playing all that well.  That made me realize one thing, that the Canucks have the best roster in the NHL and it isn't even close.  They roll out a third line as good as a lot of top lines.  They should've breezed into the cup in 12-15 games.

Meanwhile Boston basically shit their way to the cup, trying their damnedest to let Montreal get revenge for the Chara hit.  Watching them blow the closing minutes of game seven only to win in overtime was like watching Abbot and Costello crash the Benny Hill theme.  And their power play was roughly zero for a billion at that point.

I then said that the Canucks would win game seven handily.  It seemed like a perfect moment for the Sedins to actually show up and have everyone magically forget how bad they sucked for the previous six games.  That worked out well.

Let's be honest, Vancouver deserves most of this.  They deserve it for not only making their bed with the Sedins, but being stupid enough to shit on their captaincy by giving it to one of them.  (After they shit on it by giving it to their goalie.)  Captains don't cruise around the ice in games six and seven with a look that says they're thinking more about what to have for breakfast the following day, or if having your twin brother give you a handjob is closer to masturbation or incest.  They punch walls, they shove opponents, and on some occasions they drop the gloves in a losing effort to send a message.  Or, you know, act like Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, who would've fucked Rosie O'Donnell if it meant winning the cup.

They also deserve it for pulling Luongo so early in game six.  Three goals isn't exactly good, and one or two of them weren't pretty, but when Cory Schneider went in, the team looked like they'd given up.  If you've admitted that your goaltender has leadership qualities in previous seasons by giving him an unoffical letter, why are you taking him out when you've got fifty-five minutes to bridge a steep, but manageable deficit?  The only good part about your opponent scoring as fast as Boston did, is that you've got tons of time to make it up.

And then we get to the Bruins.  Their big guys stepped up in a way that Vancouver's failed to and that was the difference.  When you focus on playing hockey, the Bruins did the most right.  As almost always happens, the best team won. 

However when you expand your scope to look at all the things that happened on the ice, hockey and otherwise has their been a more charmed team?  Nathan Horton got away with water-bottling a fan, which the NHL has shown with Tortorella deserves a one game suspension.  Lucic suckered opponents at or after the final whistle on numerous occasions and faced no supplemental discipline.  Krejci was allowed to crosscheck a hurt Dan Hamhuis in the head and saw no consequences.  And Aaron Rome was made an example of because he made a mostly clean hit a second too late and isn't anyone important (like Pronger) with a suspension that should only have been the time he missed when he was removed from that game.

The aftermath of it is that the fifth least deserving city in the playoffs (Montreal, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Anaheim) wound up bringing home the Stanley Cup.  We'll have to deal with all the bandwagon Bruins fans for the next few years (like we did with the Red Sox in 2004) until they get bored and move onto something else.  ESPN Boston has reported that Mark Recchi will be retiring after this season, and if he's got any John Elway in him whatsoever, the 37-turning-38 year old Tim Thomas will be joining him.

That is the silver lining in all of this, that one of the great competitors and nicest guys in hockey finally got to hold the ultimate trophy.  The road hasn't always been easy for Thomas, but he's laughing at all his doubters tonight.  As he well should.  Congratulations Timmy.

Living in Dystopia

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."
--- Albert Camus

I came across the above quote while stumbling around the internet just now.  The reason that it struck me is that it describes my views on sexuality perfectly.  The United States is the very definition of an unfree world when it comes to matters of sex and sexuality.  We're such a horrible backwards country that some of our citizens can't even agree that bills prohibiting bullying and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation are a good thing.  This country is so asinine, so childish, and so immature when it comes to sex that there are still people that want to lock away any knowledge and perpetuate ignorance.  Because a morally enlightened society is apparently a stupid one.

It's no secret that I've detailed my opinions, thoughts, and preferences on sex at length, so much so that there is no need to reiterate them now.  The reason that I do this is to embody the above.  The reason I ask questions, that I wonder, that I explore things considered to be deviant, fetishism, or worse is to promote that freedom.  I don't want to be around people where sex is some sort bogeyman lying in wait to prey on those that even give him an iota of attention.  That sort of thinking makes for a lack of communication, rampant ignorance, poor relationships, failed marriages, stupid children, and dead gays.

My act of rebellion is to promote sexual curiosities, to encourage inquisitiveness, to make no topic too taboo.  Because that's the only way to learn, and the more we learn about something the better we are able to handle it.  Unafraid gays, fewer dead babies, stifled STDs, more successful marriages, healthier and more informative sexual education, tolerance, acceptance.  This is my free world.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Random Thoughts

I've tried to start this entry several different times and ended up deleting what I wrote each time.  The trouble is that I feel let down on a grand scale about something, but I'm having trouble pinpointing what exactly that is.  I want to talk about the perception of sex, about friends, about my family, about my environment, about the internet, about bullying because in some way these things are connected to how I'm feeling, but all I have are vague impressions and no concrete words with which to describe them.  But then again my job is to put words to the indescribable, so here we go.

The recurring question is a simple one; why can't we be better?  It seems unnecessarily vague, but I think it sums up American society perfectly.  We should be better than this...but we're not.  Somewhere there's some disconnect and you can blame hundred of social, political, and religious groups, and probably none of them in themselves are the right answer.  The problems that we face are numerous and complex.  So much so that the only solution I can offer is an indecipherable, "be better."

I think the things that set me off the most are acceptance and tolerance.  They seem like laughably simple concepts, but their practice is anything but.  As human beings, we're conditioned to think of our own hobbies as normal and anything outside of them as deviant.  This leads to us seeing things in a negative light that really aren't negative at all aside from going against the arbitrary rules that our upbringings have created inside our own heads.  And just because I'm writing this doesn't make immune.  I often find myself thinking, "I'm right god damnit, why can't these other morons think like me?"  It's a flawed way to think, and yet no one can separate themselves from it.

I've become jaded in some ways because most of the time I'm no longer surprised by the evil, the selfishness, and the abject stupidity of the human race.  And then all of a sudden something will hit me and I just feel so let down.  I watch conservative groups lobby against legislature designed to protect those that are different from discrimination, from bullying and abuse, and from violence.  It's appalling that anyone in their right mind can rally against these things and even call themselves human, let alone put a cross behind it and assume a moral high ground.  Like really, you don't think those of a different sexual orientation should be protected from bullying...and this is somehow the "right" side to be on?  What the damn hell is wrong with us?

Too many people (not all) use God as some kind of rigged Magic Eight Ball to perpetuate their own biases and prejudices.  It's kind of funny that the most accurate religious group is the one that everybody hates, the Westboro Baptist Church.  God is said to not only all powerful and all knowing, but to also have a plan for humanity that results in salvation.  In this we can infer that everything that happens is a piece of this ultimately benevolent plan.  Remembering this, shouldn't we find a silver lining in every tragedy that happens, knowing it is a part of God's will?  Or to put it in the words of Fred Phelps, "Thank God for (Horrible thing)."

I don't mean for this to be a commentary against religion either.  There are plenty of religious people and organizations that do wonderful things.  Like many of Enron's employees, they are only guilty of unknowingly being part of a corrupt system.  I think that a belief in something more powerful than ourselves is natural.  Certainly there are plenty of things more powerful than ourselves on this planet that we can actually see and touch.

I just feel like morality has become this terribly flawed concept.  We've inundated ourselves within this concept of morality, this warped logic that says we can justify the things we do by painting us as the good guy.  (This thought process has been used in every war ever for every side.)  So much so that it's hard to tell which is perverting which between morality and religion.  Our morality as human beings is so complex and I don't understand why it needs to be.  The Golden Rule has made it pretty simple, treat others as you would like to be treated, or if you prefer the Wiccan Rede, if it harms none, do as thou wilt.

Maybe we've reached that point where we're too intelligent, where there is too much that defines us to be simple any more.  Maybe there are too many people, causing the laws that are meant to protect them to become too numerous and complex.  Maybe we've lost sight of some of the justifications for the way we live.  Maybe some of them are obsolete as we move forwards and learn more about ourselves.

Maybe I just watch too much Utopian science fiction and have wholly unrealistic expectations.

Still, I can't help but look around and think, "we can be better than this...right?"

Sabres Blogger Summit

Evidently, the Sabres are hosting a blogger summit this week.  I don't know many details beyond what's been offered on a message board that I haven't had much of a stomach for lately.  Evidently a handful of prominent bloggers have been invited to attend some sort of discussion with Ted Black.  I don't have any idea about who has been invited, but I do know that a few of my friends will be participating.  (And for those that are going to wonder, I have not been invited.  Since the majority of this blog is not Sabres related, I can hardly be considered (nor do I consider myself) to be a Sabres blogger.)

This whole idea is careening wildly in two different directions seeming to simultaneously be innovative and really, really stupid.  The good of it is that there are plenty of people who possess the knowledge, skills, and passion to write coherently and entertainingly about hockey, that lack only the little slip of paper that officially legitimizes them as journalists.  The bad, obviously, is that for every one of those people there are probably twenty idiots who don't have the experience, can't write, or aren't mentally stable enough to be exposed to the sort of criticism journalism sees.

Some are calling this whole thing a shitshow waiting to happen, but I think it's a move that needs to be made, and if done right, can be really beneficial to the organization and to amateur journalists alike.  Nothing has been promised aside from this initial meeting.  If Ted Black is smart (and it's pretty obvious by now that he is), the only real goal of this summit will be to weed out the legitimately talented and level headed from the people that are going to make royal asses of themselves if given the opportunity.  Once the low hanging fruit has been picked and tossed aside, Black and company can begin defining exactly how and how much they want to reach out to those legitimate members of the blogging community.