Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fo', fo', fo'

Alright, I've vowed this weekend or whenever I get time to add links and pics to the Hawaii Diarii, so those who've enjoyed it, watch out! You'll have to read it all over again.

Meanwhile, despite not being tagged (whatever that means), I stole this from Stewie, who got it from Lesley, I think. Hey, gotta get back to my usual random fare, that diary was almost a coherent travelogue. Can't have that!

1. Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Journalist
2. Journalist
3. Journalist
4. Telemarketer

2. Four movies you’d watch over and over:
1. "Aliens"
2. "Tremors"
3. "Dave"
4. "Dead Hunt" (is that cheating?)

3. Four places you have lived:
1. Bloomsburg, Pa.
2. Pittsburgh, Pa.
3. The Lehigh Valley (Pa.)
4. Hillsborough, N.J.

4. Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. "Law & Order: SVU"
2. "Cold Case"
3. "Food Network Challenge"
4. HBO boxing

5. Four places you’ve been on vacation:
1. Hawaii (duh!)
2. Iceland (and other parts of Scandinavia)
3. England
4. France (yuk!)

6. Four Web sites you visit daily:
1. HorrorTalk

7. Four favorite foods and places:
1. Buffalo wings at Gretzky's in Toronto (or anywhere else, really)
2. Any good pizza (Italian restaurant-style, not chain)
3. Steak au poivre at Russell's back home (or any good steak, really)
4. Brazilian BBQ ribs

8. Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Hawaii (duh!)
2. Reykjavik, Iceland
3. A good sporting event
4. At home on the couch, relaxing

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 9 (ex post facto edition)

Well, my trip is over. Nine-plus hours on Continental ("Work Hard, Fly Late") - and I probably made more noise than the babies I was surrounded by. Hey, you sleep sitting up, you'll snore, too.

So it's back to work, but first, here's what you missed:

• Saturday night, I made it to Taste of Hawaii, with Charles from the NYC chapter and Cathy from LA (with her friend Connie). Good food, one of those things where you buy tickets and cash them in for sampler plates. I got some pork tenderloin and some German sausage and other stuff. All tasty. Then, after some meandering to get the ill Cathy (not from the food) some medicine, it was off to bed.

• 7 a.m. (local) on Sunday, I was on a van, headed to some beach on the South shore, ready to learn to surf ("You mean the FBI... is going to pay me... to surf?"). Hawaiian Fire is run by off-duty firefighters, so I was in good hands. And of course, the ratio was four guys (two married) to like 12 girls. In bikinis. Life is good, isn't it? OK, let's make one thing clear, surfing is a sport for the in-shape and coordinated. I am neither. Let me put it this way, in the post-lesson photos, most of the girls looked like models, whereas I looked like an aquatic battering ram. Which sort of makes sense.

They gave us reef shoes, rash guard (a shirt-type thing - hmm, spandex on fat guy, bad idea) and instructions, then we were on our boards, paddling like mad out into the ocean. These itty-bitty Asian girls were ripping out there, and me and my muscles are flailing around, going absolutely nowhere. Life's not fair.

So after a couple of tries, I realized what the other big, immobile dude realized: We could just walk out there, pushing/pulling/dragging our boards. Much better.

Pretty quickly, I got the hang of it, at least to the point where I could get up on one knee and ride the board all the way in. The standing all the way up was the hard part. My feet kept getting tangled up and SPLASH!




I did manage to stand up, not once, but twice! Including my last run, so I ended a winner. Having popped on two of my last four runs, I think I was well on my way to learning. But my God, do I have to get in shape before I do that again. Oy.

• After that, lunch - Dim Sum - with some of the surfers and friends, including Susan (the organizer, yay Susan!) and HyunJu (both of whom I think I've mentioned) and Julia from NYC, and Eleanor and Miguel and the ESPN guys. One ESPN guy could talk to the waitresses and I said something about speaking Japanese, and he said, "Cantonese," and I was like, "yup, Asian." I'm so white.

• Then, I was walking around, killing time until the shuttle (lunch got done about 2, shuttle was at 6:30) because sitting in the lobby reading was making me sleepy, and I really didn't want to fall asleep in the lobby. See, I had to check out before surfing, and I checked my bags at the hotel, so I bought a book and magazine and was bumming around when I started dozing. So I started walking around to stay awake.

• Thus, two small final-day victories: First, I'd been looking for a University of Hawaii football cap since I'd arrived. So I went to that store with the aquarium, to take some pictures of the aquarium, and lo and behold, there in a corner are the hats I've been looking for all week. Not only were they the exclusive seller, I'd walked past the display in the store twice! So I got my hat, and the lady says, "don't you want a shirt, too?" and I said, "if I can't wear it, it's not going to make it on the plane." I left with two bags, one stuffed full, and came back with three bags, all stuffed full.

• Then, while meandering around with my new hat, I saw a lady passing out fliers, not for a gun range, but a restaurant. So I wandered over. Japanese BBQ. Sounds tempting... and when I got in, I discovered, you get to play with your food! That's right. Right in the middle of the table is a little charcoal grill. You order plates of raw meat, and grill it yourself. And it was delicious! Cheap, too. So delicious (and cheap) I called Susan (the only one whose number I had) and told her to tell everyone who was still staying that they had to check it out.

• Finally, it was shuttle time, and I did indeed find Amelia, my sidekick from the flight out, though we weren't sitting next to each other this time. And for me and Gen. Johnston, it was lights out.

I haven't actually been home yet - I went straight to work from the airport - but I did unpack half my luggage in the car... see, I can't find my work ID. It's either a) buried in a suitcase; b) in the hotel in Honolulu; or c) revolving around the baggage claim at Newark Airport. Oh, well, small price to pay for a good time.

And yeah, I gave my business cards to lots of pretty girls. And recruiters. Hey, what else am I going to use 'em for?

All in all, a great time. Miami in '07, baby! Thanks for reading. Hope you had as good a time reading this as I did writing it. Stay tuned for future blogging, after I take a good, long nap.

It's 5:30 local, and that's N.J. time.

The end... Back to the blog!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 8

Today was a slow day, the last of the convention. It's 6:15 local, so I guess it's not over yet.

Last night I started to get a little down, I guess because the trip is over, but in a way, I'm going to be glad to be home - vacation puts your life on hold for a week, and that's both good and bad, I think. It's still beautiful here, but I've seen just about everything in the area that I wanted to see, did what I set out to do, as far as the con goes, and I guess I'm almost ready to go back to my house and my TV and my stuffed monkeys. I will miss the balcony at my hotel room, though, and I've got a newfound (or renewed) appreciation for the beach.

• Morning was a quick trip to the career fair to meet with one last person I promised. Then a quick lunch of little tea sandwiches and Snapple at the hotel.

• I was a volunteer on the last shift - at the Asian film documentary showing. Turned out there were three of us, so they turned me loose after an hour instead of two. I watched most of the first film, and interesting one on Asians in the movies. I would've stayed for the whole thing, but by getting out early, I could take part in the "Chapter Challenge."

• That was a scavenger hunt, taking digital photos of stuff in Waikiki - only an hour long, but a list of things to find. Only two of us from New York showed, but despite struggling with the 4-man team thing, we finished in the "bronze medal" spot. Of course, there were only three teams, but we didn't embarass ourselves (much). There were some goofy photos, too, all with complete strangers (to meet the four-in-a-photo requirement). And we did find the tourist from farthest away - Sweden. I heard them talking on the beach and knew it was Scandinavian (or German).

• Then I hung out with Charles, my teammate, for a while - we're both movie buffs, and it turns out we've been next-door in the hotel for most of the week. We never ran into each other coming or going. Go figure.

• I think I want to go over to this Taste of Hawaii food thing that runs until 10, but I just ate - I was starving. And I haven't heard from various folks considering going a la group.

I also have to pack, since I've got to check out in the morning before I leave for the surfing lessons - assuming I ever find Susan, the organizer, again. Checkout time is 11 local, which will be before I get back, so they'll have to store my bags. I hate the plan (leaving my laptop?) but what can I do?

The con is officially over, by the way, and if I play my cards right and follow up, I think I'll get a couple of phone calls and three or so preliminary editing tests out of it. That should scare 'em at the office! Plus, I feel like I really learned a lot at the various workshops - though I'll have to type up a report when I get back - and I may have some inspiration for some writing in the future, from some of the seminars.

I don't know if there will be a Day 9, as I'm leaving first thing in the morning and not getting home until Monday night (Eastern) at about 11 - my flight's a sort-of red-eye, overnight into Monday, and I'm going straight from the airport to the office for work. I'll sleep on the plane - if not, there's Gen. Johnston to keep me company - and then work my full shift when I get in. It's OK, I planned it that way.

Things I'll miss:

• The balcony at the room - one more night to sit outside and ponder life, the universe and everything.
• The sun - no, not the heat - and the water - even if I didn't go in much.
• The cool hand-held showerhead in the hotel. Good for spraying all the tough-to-reach bits.
• Girls in bikinis. Duh.
• The people at the con - I made some nice friends and saw some people I only see once a month, if that.• Being away from work. Duh. It's vacation.
• Exploring a new place - sometimes fun, sometimes not, but always an adventure.
• The king-size hotel bed - only got a queen at home - if you're going to sleep alone, might as well do it in style.
• The gun range. That was excellent.
• Beauty. Everywhere, from the water, to the sky, to the stars, to the landscape, to the girls in bikinis.
• Escaping from my boring, ordinary life. This place really is like a fantasy world in so many ways, it really sucks to go back to plain ol' Jersey in some ways, even though I miss my home. The thing is, like all great places to visit, I doubt I'd want to live here - then it would become plain ol' home in some ways, and that would take away some of the magic. I don't know if I'll ever come back, and I'm leaving on a bittersweet note because I'm sorry to go, I guess, but it really was an adventure, the kind I don't get to have nearly as often as I'd like.

Well, now I'm kind of depressed, so I might as well pack while I'm down.

Thus (most likely) ends the Hawaii Diarii, unless I write a wrapup of tomorrow sometime after I get home. It's been fun, and I hope you ("dear readers," as Stewie would say) enjoyed it as much as I did. I was reluctant to invest in the in-room Internet, but I'm glad I did.

The end. Or as we journalists say...


So I lied... On to the final part!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 7, Part 2

It's 2 a.m. and I must be lonely... and slightly intoxicated. OK, more than slightly. So this update may not be quite up to the level of my previous ones.

• Ling-Ling moment of the day: Yes, folks, at the Asian Journalists convention, it was Karaoke night. Nothing reinforces a stereotype like drunken howling. Of course, Karaoke night had a sponsor... Budweiser, the King of Beers. And that meant... all Bud products were free! Which is why this update may not be quite up to the level of my previous ones.

• I can't remember when I updated last. I'll assume lunchtimeish.

• Afternoon sessions: 1. Taking the plunge/leap into management. Some good info, I even asked a question. None of which changed the fact that I still don't know what I'm going to do with the next 5-10 years of my career until my boss gets bored/retires/dies/moves/whatevers and I get promoted. That's why I'm hanging around in the career fair. I just don't know what I'm going to do for the rest of the decade. 2. Breaking into book writing. Great info - there was an agent there, and I just adore Julie, the author of "Some Like It Haute" (great title!) and the moderator for the panel. I don't know if I have it in me to write a book, but I'm going to try Stewie's NaNoWriMo or whatever, and I figured it was good prep.

• Then it was volunteer time - my chapter was kind enough to give me a stipend since my company gave me the time off for the con, but paid exactly zero. So I was required to volunteer - funny how I do my best work when I'm sentenced to community service. Ask the guys at SafeWalk. But I was working the silent auction, so mostly it was like the holiday sale at work, I stood around and looked tough so no one would steal anything.

• After my shift was over, I went to the bar. But it was boring.

• I went back to the auction, though I neglected to buy anything, and helped out at the conclusion. Somewhere in there, I tracked down some casino folks to make some contacts for Sari, who's moving to Vegas. Then it was off to Karaoke night...

• I went searching for a bar, since they'd closed the auction bar on me... and thus, the free Bud. But I hung out with some of the friends I've made at the con, and got to flirt with some more girls at the auction and con, so hey.

• We closed the faux-Karaoke-bar, but I went to the beach to sit in the dark and watch the waves roll in. I've been feeling somewhat melancholy the past couple of days. I don't know if it's just my lack of desire to return to work, or what.

• But I did score another talk at the career fair tomorrow, before some more volunteerism. So now goodnight.

• Wait, graft update: Scored a business-card holder from the good folks at MGM Mirage. Very nice. Now, goodnight.

It's 2:15 a.m. local. Do you know where your munkee is?

On to the next part!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 7, Part 1

This is my busiest day, so I'll be rushing through this post between events...

• Morning was spent at the job fair (I think I've at least scored some preliminary interviews and the like), and then in a session on finding stuff on the Web. That's one of my major job skills, so it was always nice to get more helpful sites for my repertoire. I've got a reputation as someone who can find anything online fast, so I've got to stay ahead of the curve.

• Lunch was at the AAJA general membership meeting, which was about... surprise... fund-raising. The talks you can imagine, including the little tiff between a questioner and an officer. The bag lunch... big. Tasty. Awkward. Mind you, we're sitting in chairs in a ballroom - and trying to eat half a chilled chicken by hand! Sandwich, cheese, crackers, whatever, I'm just glad I'm not wearing more of it.

• Graft update: Got a coffee mug and a notebook/pad thing at the lunch - from Harrah's Entertainment, of all places. Also have acquired a couple of miniature foam sports balls, a highlighter, some thing-in-a-bag that I haven't opened, and the usual assortment of seminar material.

Two more seminars this afternoon, then I'm fulfilling my silent-auction gathering life by volunteering during the actual event itself. Consider this a blog-and-bathroom break, or just chalk it off as I got tired of hearing people gripe about money - even if the organization is more than deserving - so I skipped out early, but had nowhere to go.

And no, I haven't even seen the outside today. And I won't until probably 8:30 or 9 p.m. local. (It's 1:30 now.) So there'll probably be a late update. If you're lucky. If I survive the afternoon/evening.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 6 (1st lede-writethru)

When last we left our intrepid hero, he was beach-bound, intent on burning off yet another layer of skin...

• Beach was actually nice. Did some reading, just got my feet wet in the water, but I was watching these little fish that would come crashing in with the tide, swim like hell, and then get swept back out, only to come crashing back in. And I put on plenty of suntan lotion, so I'm actually recovering from the burn, not making it worse.

• I ended up going to a comedy show at the hotel - dinner was a local microbrew and wings (interesting sweet undertone to the sauce) at the bar/club - and let me tell you, the show was hysterical. The undercard guys were Timmy and Big Steve (like Stewie, but different) and they were plenty fun, as was the MC, who cracked some jokes. But the main guy was Augie T., a Hawaiian, and he was HYSTERICAL. I mean, some stuff had me laughing so hard I nearly cried. I was clapping, pounding the table, it was so funny. The beer helped.

• After I'd sort of sobered up back at the room, I went for a walk on some far-off beach with some AAJA folks. Want to know why this is paradise? Four guys, about 15 girls. Nice walk on the beach and grass, with some beautiful stars under the clear sky. Then we snuck into some hotel to see the dolphins in their pond. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, and I got a good picture of a couple of them, despite shooting essentially blind in the dark.

• Tally of random bride sightings at the hotel: 4 - all in full dress.

And thus to bed, at almost 1 a.m. local, perchance to dream.

On to the next part!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 6

4:30 local time, and I'm back in the room after the career fair. No panel I want to attend in the late-afternoon session, so I think I'm going to slather myself in suntan lotion and go finish my book on the beach.

• Breakfast was a bagel and some coffee. I skipped the early-morning session.

• Late-morning session was on visual design, graphics and so forth, for print and the Web. Good information. We do a lot with graphics so it's good to know. Got approached by a recruiter... who wanted to know if I knew any designers, since I'm not one. That was kind of a lame feeling, I thought, but they had some desk openings so I coughed up a resume anyway.

• I blew off some kind of lunch and went to do some other stuff, including stopping by the career fair - when most people were headed to lunch. I also chatted with Julie Dam, who's in my chapter but I never met, and is the author of the fabulously titled fashion-world novel, "Some Like It Haute" (I'm going to her book-writing session tomorrow - gotta prepare for Stewie's NoMoWriMo novel month thing, or whatever it's called). Turns out her fiancee (who was there) is a Jewish horror movie fan, so I not only got to gab with a fellow fanatic, but I got to tell all my Vietnamese AND Jewish jokes. So not only have I given out several of my work business cards, I got to give out a HorrorTalk business card, too!

• As for lunch, I tried Royal Steak & Seafood again, but they're closed for lunchtime. Guess it's destiny. I went to the Japanese place next door, and had some grilled stuff that they do up right in front of you, like Benihana, but without the fatal flying shrimp. Good, though chopsticks still give me fits.

• The early afternoon session was the best one I've been to - it's on personal essay writing. That was a course they offered at CMU that for one reason or another, I never got to take, even though I badly wanted to. So the seminar was interesting to begin with, something I could understand as far as writing goes, and to top it off, the panelists were excellent. Will it improve the blog? I don't know about that, but it gave me a lot to think about. I wrote a personal essay-type thing several years ago that wound up in print and on the Web, so I think I've got it in me. Or perhaps I'm just going slightly crazy again.

• Then I went back to the career fair, where I promised somebody I'd return after the session. But the session ran a touch long and I spent a wee bit of time after gabbing with some people I knew, so I just barely made it in before close to talk with some folks. I didn't get to talk with others, so I'll have to go back tomorrow. And then, on the elevator up, I ran into the copy chief for another major newspaper, and promised to stop by in the morning. Funny, it wasn't even an elevator pitch, it was more like a holler-through-the-closing-elevator-door pitch!

Got invited on a hike tonight, and I think I'll go despite my sore leg. But that's a ways off. Meantime, to the beach, then (after a quick stop in the room to shower the sand off) to dinner, then to the night club (don't know if I'll make the 7:30 comedy show, but maybe), probably in that order.

Further bulletins "if" events warrant.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 5

The first day of the convention is over. It's 12:30 a.m. local, and I'm slightly intoxicated.

I could joke that I lei'd two girls, but that would be an obvious one. Hey, I had two lei. (Yeah, that's plural.) What was I going to do with two flower necklaces?

• The bulk of the day was a "high-intensity business" seminar. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say it was all day long, valuable to me professionally in ways I figure virtually none of my readers care about, and I got to go to lunch with five girls and another guy. This was good. A different ramen place. Ran about 9 to 4:30ish.

• After that, I screwed around in my room just long enough to ensure I didn't have time to eat dinner, so I grabbed a beer and small appetizer at the bar.

• Went to a brief talk for first-time AAJA convention attendees, where they told us we shouldn't skip stuff I already decided to skip, that we should make the most of it, which I already am trying to do, and that we should catch the bus to the opening reception as soon as possible. So I did.

• The opening reception was fun. Hung around with the girls from the afternoon, a guy I know from the NYC chapter and, oddly enough, the first person I saw was a woman who shares a mutual friend with a friend and was trying to find me. If that makes sense. Good food. Expensive booze, but somehow I got a two-fer for my last ticket. When we got off the bus at the Hawaiian Academy of Art (I think), these little girls gave us lei, and then there was entertainment that included them dancing traditional dances (adorable) plus some scantily-clad women in grass skirts, and one really scary dude with face paint and a giant spear. Plus, a few speakers, including the head of the hometown paper, the president of AAJA and the mayor of Honolulu. You'd be surprised how many Asian women don't drink. And how many do. We all have some degree of that alcohol allergy issue.

• My evening ended at the restaurant atop the hotel, where the Hawaiian chapter (the host chapter) threw a party that didn't quite get coordinated properly, so half of us were sitting at tables in the back wondering where everyone else was, while everyone else was standing around the bar in the front, socializing. I moved to the front as soon as reasonable, along with everybody else from the back. Met a lot of people, including some cute girls with the con and just around, and my buddy Henry, who's one of AAJA's living legends and a helluva pitcher for Newsday's team, too. Though I can hit him pretty well, he is, after all, more than twice my age. Also met the girl who organized the surfing outing Sunday, who's rooming with the girl in charge of the volunteering I'm doing. So it was a good time getting to meet people all day. And drinking. And hitting on cute girls. Hey, I went to the business seminar all day, I deserve to be able to flirt at the mixers afterward.

• I actually got genuinely cock-blocked by somebody at the reception. And I wasn't even trying anything. It was stunning. Me and this other guy from the seminar were talking with a girl from the seminar about grabbing some more food, when this dude comes up and goes to her, "hey, we're going to look at the exhibits," (it's in an art museum, remember?) and she was like, "oh, I wanted to see those," and bailed on us. How rude!

• You'd be surprised, too, how small a world journalism is. Everybody knows somebody you know. I already mentioned the friend of a friend of a friend at the reception. I sat behind a woman from Texas at the seminar who works with a copy editor I worked with in Allentown. Then I met a TV reporter from Philly at the mixer, who knows a newspaper guy I worked with in Allentown. It was nice that I've been active enough people recognized me, too, even if it was just a couple from the NYC chapter and its events (in fact, the very first person I saw at the con was somebody I know from NYC events). And of course, Henry's at Newsday and knows a ton of people I know. I also ran into a guy who used to work in Allentown who (like me) has long ago moved on.

• Other people met (or re-met, not all-inclusive): TV reporter from Ohio, sportswriter from Cali, PR woman from Cali, therapist and med student from Hawaii, PR guy from Hawaii, wire editor from DC, biz reporter from San Antonio, designer from Washington Post, Vietnamese TV woman from Houston, reporter for Chinese paper from Hawaii, reporter for Japan Times, his female sidekick, also from Japan, some other TV people from Cali, online editor from ESPN, reporter for People. That's all I can remember.

• Running tally of times people asked me to take their picture: 2.

• Graft I've scored: Excellent tote bag - half the people I work with have one from some convention. Now I'm finally even. Assorted convention and seminar material. At least two pens. A Sheraton note pad. A keychain with some insect repellent attached - no lie! Another little foam throwing star (I have one at the office). Two super-soaking water-ball bombs I won as a prize in the seminar - I missed out on the water guns, sadly. And, coolest of all, except maybe the tote bag, a 60MB thumb drive I got from General Motors just for filling out a card. I'm sure I'll be on their mailing list now, despite having just bought a car, but I mean, sheesh, that's a free thumb drive! USB, goes on a keychain, totally rad. And of course, the two lei, which I gave to girls crashing the mixer who weren't AAJA and thus didn't have them. Chivalrous indeed. I even got a hug, which is a decent start, eh?

• Today's running joke: I keep telling people, after they find out I've been here all week, that today's the first day I've worn pants. What? It's true. Sadly, tomorrow will be the second day. All work and no play makes Mookie a dull Munkee.

Tomorrow's plan: Seminars and maybe a visit to the job fair. Not sure how consistent my updates will be. This is the first time I've been back in my room other than a quick trip up to drop off my bag between the seminar and the reception. But I don't have any all-day things, so I may be up here and there.

(Oh, and did I mention I bought another T-shirt the other day? The "Hawaii '06" football-jersey-style one all the tourists have. It was on sale, and I couldn't resist.)

Bedtime. This is why I'm glad I really don't feel the need to go to the 8 a.m. sessions. The big ones are "plenaries" and I'm not even sure what that means.

OK, I Googled the definition. Jeez, I'm a copy editor, aren't I? But I'm still not sure I understand what it means. So I'm still not going. It's OK, I'm blowing off some of the other stuff I probably shouldn't have blown off, including the awards luncheon and the gala. Look, I'm in this for me, so I'm going to the things that are going to benefit me either in my current job or in my future career. (Or are full of pretty girls.) Some of these issues/subjects/excuses to get overdressed just don't mean anything to me. Sorry. I'd rather be a better copy editor than think about big issues while still half-asleep. Just so y'all understand where I'm coming from here.

But it was a good day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be even better. Maybe I can get back to the beach when no one's looking.

On to the next part!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 4, Part 2

This update brought to you by Lucky Monkey Casino. Guaranteed fun, or your MONKEY back.

• That nap hit the spot. Two hours, to the irritation of housekeeping.

• I went to another kitschy tourist thing, and played 3D Glow Golf. Miniature golf (my favorite!) with black-lights, neon paint and 3D glasses. It was great, although I almost fell down a couple of times and couldn't putt for anything. I did get my round-ly hole-in-one on one of the gimmick holes. And there's a little surprise at the end that was excellent.

• Then it was off to dinner. Royal Steak & Seafood lost out for a time-honored reason... it wasn't open for dinner yet. Hey, 5:15 is too much to ask? But then I found my way to something even more fun - Top of Waikiki. Special discount sunset menu (like the early bird for tourists I guess) and... it spins! That's right, a revolving restaurant. I splurged and it wasn't even too much. Buffalo chicken cordon bleu appetizer, surf & turf, even a little dessert. Cute-as-hell waitress, too. It took about an hour to go all the way around, and by stalling for dessert, I made it 360 degrees. Great views. Good food. What it really needs is a mime - and it's rare I think mimes should exist for any reason - because the entrance leads right to the spinning part, and I think if there were a mime doing that walk-in-place thing backwards against the spin, it would be excellently funny. Gotta love touristville - it's got to have been the most casual expensive restaurant crowd ever. I can't say I was much help, what with my Lucky Monkey T-shirt and shorts, but the customers were showing more cleavage than the waitresses. And that was just the men. I have a fondness for "Top of the ..." restaurants ever since I had my college graduation dinner at Top of the Triangle (now defunct, just like the restaurant I got engaged). And I love revolving restaurants. Revolving anything, really. It's like being able to play with your food.

• There was a small tragedy at the restaurant. A little bug fell into my water glass and drowned. It was sad. I'm having so much fun, I felt sorry for the little fellow. But maybe the restaurant should check its screens.

• Finished the Tuesday Times crossword (yay!) in about 40 minutes. I've got some doubts about two spots, but otherwise, aces. I almost never do the crossword - don't get the Times - so it's kind of a good feeling of accomplishment.

And that'll do'er. Time to go to work. And hey, if the guys from TLA Releasing are reading this, yes, I'm reviewing your Danger After Dark DVDs on my VACATION so I can make street date. So I hope you guys'll share the love when your next release hits, no matter how this review turns out.

It's 7:40 local. Less than 12 hours until I really, really have to work. Sigh.

On to the next part!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 4, Part 1

As the Hon. Governor of California once said during America's first encounter with an alien species, "If it bleeds, we can kill it."

As I say, if there are no injuries, it's not an adventure.

That's right. Today was snorkeling day. Am I glad "Shark Cove" doesn't really have sharks.

• The day began with a near disaster - I went with two people I've never met, Lloyd and Lisa, from AAJA, and there was some miscommunication over where to meet. I took "the lobby" to mean in the lobby. They went out to where the cars pull up outside, under an overhang with a sitting area. So they left without me. Fortunately, they hadn't gotten very far by the time I got around to calling - hey, for once I was early, I figured they're allowed to be late - and they came back.

• First stop was this local donut-kind of shack. Sweets. My cream puff kind of local donut exploded. Icky.

• Then it was the long, sort of wrong way drive to Turtle Bay, where I donned my brand-new snorkel gear and promptly fell over. But once I sort of got the hang of it, and stopped drinking ocean water, I spotted a couple of fish. The mask was OK, the snorkel was OK once I figured it out, but the flippers gave me fits. And then I whacked myself in the nose, jostled my mask, and got a nostril full of seawater.

• We sat on the beach a bit, and then went on to Shark Cove. This is all along the "famous" North Shore, by the way.

• Shark Cove was cool, except you have to climb down a rocky hill to get there, and I have yet to master the art of walking in flipflops. I almost fell over in the parking lot, so I took them off for the walk. Then I had to clamber over the rocks, sans flippers - left those freakin' things on shore - and then I had some serious fun. There were lots of little fish, and I chased them around and stuff.

• But right when I was coming back, I almost ran into another snorkeler - you're looking down, which is a detriment when you're not used to it, since you don't see what's in front of you exactly. Heck, I'm still getting used to being able to see underwater. Anyway, dodging this other snorkeler, I rolled, swept my arm back to swim, and slashed myself open on a rock. Fortunately, it's more of a scrape than a cut, so I stopped bleeding, eventually. Probably going to get billed for that hotel towel, though.

• I also got sunburned. Too little sunscreen. My face, nice and brown. Arms, nice and brown. My nose, nice and red. Shoulders, nice and red. Tongue, completely blue. But we'll get to that.

• On the way back, we stopped at this famous shaved-ice place, Morimoto's or some such, and I went with the blue raspberry shaved ice. Very refreshing. Turned my tongue and lips blue, which is always the joy of blue raspberry ice.

Then it was back to the hotel, where I'm writing this at 2 p.m. local, pondering what to do about food, since all I've had today was two donut thingys and some shaved ice. But my shoulders are starting to itch, and I almost fell asleep in the car on the way back, so a nap sounds nice, too. Perhaps a nap, and then dinner. Then I've got to do some HorrorTalk stuff, and the convention starts for me tomorrow morning.

I should mention, both Lloyd and Lisa are very cool, and from the Bay Area, so I even got to talk a little Raiders football. Funny thing was, we ran into another snorkeler from the Bay Area, and he recognized Lloyd (who's a TV guy).

My evening update probably depends on if I actually do anything interesting other than eat dinner. I've got a movie and a bunch of special features to watch later, plus a review to write and another one to edit. But first, I'm thinking Royal Steak and Seafood over at the shopping mall. Their ad is oftly enticing, and I walk past it every time I leave the hotel.

p.s. Yes, I'm a sucker for repetitious ads. The eighth time I walked past the tattoo parlor near the sports bar and BBQ place, I finally caved in and got one.

p.p.s Just kidding, Mom. Breath.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 3, Part 2

Well, the Hurricanes won the Cup. I'm glad - they had three ex-Penguins/Flyers, including one of my favorites, Mark Recchi, and one of Dave's favorites, Rod Brind'Amour.

Plus, I'm happy for Glen Wesley, who's played FOREVER and never won the Cup.

• I wound up back at the original sports bar, because the other one had the baseball game on, and while I'm a Yankees fan, this was Game 7! So I drank my way through, sympathizing with the other hockey fan present, who was rooting for the Oilers.

• Then I went to try and find where this trolley I keep seeing picks people up. I thought I'd take a ride to sober up, maybe go out to this big Hawaiian-stuff store I keep seeing ads for. But I never figured it out. Just walked until my leg hurt.

• I did, however, find another cool place to eat: Cheeseburger Waikiki. It's exactly what it sounds like, a cheeseburger place here amid all the seafood. Yum.

• It was a return to the beach, where I read my book until it got too dark, and then sat and watched the waves for a while. It was nice. I was thinking about a sort of rebirth out here in paradise, though the cynic in me scoffs and points out it's not like things will be different when I get back. Work will still be stressful, the pains in my butt will still be pains, and so forth. But it was nice to think about, listening to the waves and some music from a nearby hotel in the torch-lit darkness. Even though drowning looks like it must be one of the worst ways to die, I can sort of understand the romance of the star-crossed lover walking out into the sea. I really could get to like the beach, even if I never really get to like swimming.

• Snorkeling tomorrow, with some convention folks who posted on the listserv. First time, but hey, the gun thing went well. I bought some equipment instead of renting, that's how confident I am that I'll love it. I've always loved the undersea, but been sort of turned off by my so-so swimming skills (strong, but slow) and my general inability to see. But I'm going to risk it, with contacts under the mask, and I hope I'll see some of the sights I've always wanted to. After all, why else am I here, but to get my ass in gear, and not just careerwise.

It's 8:45 local time, and I think I'm going to go out and maybe have one more drink, or maybe just walk back up to the main drag and get some BBQ to go. I'm hungry. Then I suppose it's early to bed, to go with early to rise. Wake-up call is for an appalling 6 a.m., except that's really what I like to think of as "noon." Or when I get up anyway.

Oh, and friends don't let friends text-message drunk, but I don't have any friends here. So I texted Sari, who was glad I was drunk and having a good time, and Dave, who was astounded to discover I was in Hawaii, and drunk.

But I'm sober now. And hungry.

On to the next part!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 3, Part 1

For the curious, what I'm doing is updating every time I come back to my room, basically. Hey, I paid for the Net access, might as well use it!

• So I wandered afield to see if the sports bar would have the game on, and the fellow from the breakfast affiliated with the bar suggested that, if they didn't have it, the big sports bar up the road would. Thus began my snipe hunt of a morning. I never did find the sports bar, but I found another bar with bigger TVs. I'm planning to head back for wings and beer at 2. Yay! Mission accomplished, as the president would say. (Meaning, I'm declaring the mission accomplished before I've even found out if this new bar will carry the game.)

• Then I wandered some more and wound up having Soba noodles for breakfast/lunch.

• Got my first copy of the Honolulu Advertiser, which I believe is a co-sponser of the conference. Thin paper, but it had the New York Times crossword puzzle. I ripped through that in about 25 minutes, which astounded me, even if it is just the easy Monday puzzle. Dad probably will take about 15 minutes to finish, if he hasn't already. But I did spend about 5 of those minutes searching for a pen.

• Yes, a journalist caught without a pen. Hey, I'm on vacation this half of the week. Not only did I find a rollerball pen at one of the omnipresent ABC Stores - my favorite kind of pen - it has little monkeys on it.

• After my stint on the park bench with the puzzle, I've returned to my room to listen to Donald Trump's nearby contruction and finish my CW book, fruit smoothie in hand.

• I've changed from my Hawaiian shirt to my Lucky Monkey Casino T-shirt. I'm tired of sweating into the silk. I'd rather save it for nights out. I had a very athletic ex-girlfriend who insisted people in great shape sweat more, possibly as a way of justifying the fact that she sweated a lot, or possibly trying to convince herself she was in great shape and not the fat little thing her father said she was. (She wasn't fat. But she was in great shape.) My point is, this trip is rapidly becoming a counterargument, as I'm in about the worst shape of my life, and I'm sweating like a pig, constantly, despite the lovely ocean breeze that's constantly blowing. It's actually downright windy today.

• Another reason to come back to the room is that I forgot my watch. Those of you who know me know I normally don't wear a watch, but I tend to bring one on vacation, because I often have to be somewhere at a certain time. You know, like the sports bar at 2. Or, if anyone from work is reading, the high-intensity business seminar at 9 a.m. Wednesday. I have a $2 watch from Burger King, which isn't exactly a fashion statement, but beats fishing my cell phone out of my pocket every time I - a former junior-high clock-watcher - get the urge to know what time it is. I once bought an $80 watch on a vacation, and it broke the day after I left the city I bought it in. That pretty much ruined me for watches forever. So when Burger King had its Episode III tie-in, I didn't even bother with the Happy Meal or whatever. I just bought the watch. Say what you will about a $2 watch, but I'll bet yours isn't reversible. Mine shows Han Solo on one side AND Boba Fett on the other. Beat that, Bvlgari!

• One more thing - even though I'm finally getting the hang of the area, the street names are still giving me fits. They're all Hawaiian, and while somebody who grew up in Indian country ought to be used to odd names (Susquehanna, Shikellamy, I once lived on Catasauqua Road - try ordering anything over the phone with THAT address) I can't get used to these. I'm reduced to thinking of them as "Princess Mononoke Street," "Duke Kamehamehameha Street," "the long one that begins with a K," "the short one that begins with an H," and as I dubbed one the other day, "Princess Momomomamookie Street."

• Today, by the way, for the second time, I was handed something that was completely in Japanese. Which goes with the two times I've been asked if I'm a native. So in addition to Cambodian and Philippino and Samoan (and Chinese and Korean), I can add Hawaiian (I get the feeling the locals are sort of hefty by nature, so I don't feel particularly flattered) and Japanese to the list of things I've been mistaken for or accused of being.

I'm off. Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the Trans-Mississippi, awaits. Then John Bell Hood and it's another book I can check and don't have to carry. I have no idea how I'm going to fit everything into my suitcase. I barely got it shut the first time around, and I've bought three shirts, three stuffed animals and a gift for Mom already. Plus my targets and whatever crap I'm sure I'll be able to snag at the convention.

In a final crisis note, I'm running out of socks. I've been wearing my sneakers around - saving the sharper shoes for the con, when I'll wear pants, and barely being able to walk in my new beach-y flipflops - and I only brought like six pairs of white socks, which I'm averaging about a pair-and-a-half a day on. Got plenty of nice sharp dress socks, but I don't think they match my cargo shorts.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 3 (prelude)

It's 10:15 local time, and I haven't left the room yet, which must be driving Housekeeping nuts.

I was out until midnight at the bar, so in the true spirit of someone who hates early mornings - even sun-filled, warm, breezy Hawaii early mornings - I set my wakeup call for 9. And woke up, again, just before 8.

But after some contemplation, I decided to stay in bed. I've declared this slacker day, or at least slacker morning. Why?

Because I desperately want to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. And it's on at 2 this afternoon, right in the middle of the day. I'm rooting for Carolina for a few reasons - a group of ex-Pens/Flyers, the guy at work who loves his team so much he brought a WHALERS jersey the other night for Game 5 - and they're in the midst of choking away a 3 games to 1 lead.

And hey, I thought about it in that hour between my awakening and the wake-up call (when I wasn't dozing) and I realized - what's the point of vacation if you can't do what you love? I love watching hockey.

So I'm off to the sports bar to see if they'll have the game on - and to see if their breakfast is any cheaper than the first place.

Then I'll wander some more (I pondered a return trip to the beach, and a slight hankering for sushi), maybe go back for some of those short ribs... and then, hopefully, catch the game somewhere more interesting than my room.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

p.s. I'm almost done with the CW book, so my next bit of beach reading might be the equally intellectual, but far less intelligent-looking "Next Man Up," as John Feinstein spends a year with the (hated) Baltimore Ravens, offering an inside look at life in the NFL. I can't resist books like that - a year behind the scenes of a sports team - even if I do hold a grudge against the Ravens for the 2000 AFC championship game.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 2, Part 3

Evening update, 10:30 p.m. Hawaii time. I'm dragging... dragging my butt to the nightclub that is! To celebrate!

• No, I didn't win a T-shirt. Though I did buy some stuffed animals for Dave's kids. I worry Ben's getting a little old at 4, but hey, it's a shark with a surfboard.

• On the other hand, when the dead rise/Russians invade/draft is restored...

Give me a .22 rifle and a counter to lean on, and I'll shoot the shit out of the bad guys!

I opted for "cheaper" over "safer" and went for the Royal Hawaiian Shooting Club's 50 percent off sale. Six guns, 54 shots, 49 bucks (the green kind, not the deer kind).

The heavier handguns, I'll confess, gave me some problems, as did my slipping glasses, which I couldn't push up under the safety goggles. (I typed "googles." Guess I'm doing too much Web searching... which ironically enough is one of the seminars at the con - better surfing of the Net variety.)

Guess I'd better work out if I'm going to play with the big boys - though I did put one through the bull's-eye with the .357 Magnum.

Let's recap:

• .22 semi-automatic pistol with laser-sight: Not bad, I started out shooting a little low, but the second clip, I got my groove on and my gun off. Nine shots inside the center two rings, with one nicking the bull's-eye.

• .22 semi-automatic rifle with cross-hair sight: Not only did the instructor mark the "Hall of Fame" box, he wrote "V. Good!" on the target. Of two clips, 20 shots, I put three in the third ring out, everything else inside the first two rings or the bull's-eye, including one dead freakin' center through the X. Heck, I only put three through the second ring out - everything else was in the 10-point ring or hit the bull's-eye. I am the God of .22s, at least for somebody who's never fired a rifle in his life.

• .22 revolver with cross-hair sight: I should've quit while I was ahead. This performance was adequate, but the heavier gun pulled me low. One shot in the center ring, the rest low, but reasonable, one in the third ring, four in the fourth.

• 9mm Glock semi-automatic with weapon sights: Jeez, that's heavy. And it kicks like hell, too. I don't know how cops do it. Big forearms, I guess. I was high on all six shots, trying to get used to the sights. I did get three in the inner three rings, but missed the other three high and left. Without the scope, I can't see how I'm doing - hell, with the scope I couldn't really tell.

• 9mm (?) revolver with weapon sights: I hooked everything left, though I got one through the second ring and one through the third. Really had trouble without the good sights and with the weight and kick. My arms were getting tired - these are heavy guns. I forget the exact caliber of the revolver, but it was between the Glock and the .357.

• .357 Magnum revolver with weapon sights: I may be a killer with a .22, but I've got a little ways before I'm Dirty Eric. This is the only weapon I missed the target with, barely nicking the outside ring high and right on one shot and evidently whiffing on another entirely, as I only have five holes in the target. One of 'em is that glorious bull's-eye, though. Three other shots were adequate, one in the third ring and two in the fourth.

All-in-all, I think it's the .22 rifle target I'm putting on my wall. It was a lot of fun, though I got whacked in the head with more than one ricocheting casing, and a couple rolled onto my arms, and boy did that sting. And the backlash of air from the one gun taught me a lesson - keep your mouth closed while shooting.

Still, another life goal accomplished. And pretty well, at least at times. I was worried I'd make a complete fool of myself, but now no one can question my manliness, at least in one .22-caliber respect. And what a rush!

On the other hand, indoors in Hawaii in a Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts is one thing. I don't think I'm going to be outside with a .22 rifle the day after Thanksgiving, freezing my ass off waiting for Bambi.

But hey, out of 54 shots, only three wouldn't have stopped a zombie cold. (Cold-er.) I may not be ready for Parris Island and Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, but like a good Jerseyan, I am definitely ready for the (Monroeville) Mall.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 2, Part 2

Oh, my head... but I've popped the contacts, and I feel better already.

It's 8 p.m. Hawaii time. Let's see, what have I done since last we spoke...

• Dinner, or as we say back in Jersey, "midnight": L&L Hawaiian BBQ. Place looks like hell, but oh, the food! It looks like a cafeteria - and "for here" is differentiated from "to go" because you don't get a bag with your styrofoam tray and plastic fork. But damn, is that Hawaiian BBQ fine. Normally, my philosophy is a different restaurant every meal, but I'm pretty sure I'll be back for more of those short ribs. Hawaiian BBQ, from what I can tell, is distinguished by being slightly sweet or fruity, but the meat is also fatty, which adds to the flavor. Got some flank steak and not one, but two pieces of teriyaki chicken in the sampler. Yum. And a big ol' Dew to keep me awake.

• Bought my Monkey Casino T-shirt. Entered a drawing, so I have to go back at 9:30. That's OK, because...

• Maybe then I'll work up the nerve for the gun lessons. I went to the "safest" gun range in Honolulu, figuring I'd start with the "safest" over the "largest." Not bad, the basic fee is $35, and they gave me a 20 percent off coupon. But better not just to put a little distance between the Corona I had in the sports bar watching the last 1.9 seconds of the Miami/Dallas basketball game, but to get my glasses on so I can really see. I think sight is probably important when using firearms, though I could be wrong. Some of you may recall my various discussions on my list of things I'd like to do before I die. Firing a gun is one of them, and this seems much better than hunting.

• I also bought my Hawaiian shirt. I paid more than double the going rate for generics, and bought at the historic Avanti store. They're all silk and have been around since the '40s, but the clincher was the big picture of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson smiling and wearing one of their shirts. They say he's from Hawaii, when we all know he's really from Pennsylvania, but his ancestry's Pacific Islander, and if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me. I can only hope the cool dragon/tiger pattern isn't the Hawaiian equivalent of the Chinese tattoo that the white kid thinks says "strength and honor" when it really means "poseur American."

• Finally, it's never a good sign when the fire truck with screaming siren is headed for YOUR hotel.

• And, post-finally, I got my Mom a birthday gift - always nice to buy something kind of unique to a vacation spot - and they had a coupon drawing thingy, where they spin the barrel and you pick out a piece of paper with a discount. I got the best discount! Gasps from the salewomen! Adoration! A bigger gift for Mom! (I hope it's not the only time I get lucky here, ba-dum-dum!)

• Oh, and a language thing: Aloha (uh-LO-hah!) means hello, goodbye, love and lots of other things. Mahalo (mah-HAH-lo) apparently means thank you. So do you think there's ever one of those moments where people go: "Mahalo!" "No, maha-LO!" (You know: "Thank you." "No, thank YOU!") Hmm...

OK, a bit of relaxation, then back to the T-shirt place and then it may be time, as my buddy George says, to get my gun off.

And then, perhaps, the nightclub. Or back to the sports bar when there's more people there than just five guys drinking and watching the local news.

On to the next part!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hawaii Diarii, Day 2 (Beach interlude)

Two other points of interest from earlier:

• Fire = Food. Not all restaurants have little flaming torches, but so far, all the little flaming torches I've seen have been in front of restaurants. Good to know.

• At the zoo, there's a lizard building full of little lizards in glass cases. The first one was surrounded by small children (and their parents) as one little lizard was biting the other little lizard, apparently fighting over some food. Then the first little lizard started to shimmy and shake and climb on the other one and all the parents THISQUICK grabbed the kids and TIMETOSEETHENEXTCASEKIDS!

So I went to the beach. Spent two hours there. Even got in the water, briefly.

You can tell I'm not a beachgoer for a few reasons:

• I have no beach towel. I took one straight from the hotel bathroom. It might've been the bathmat.

• I put suntan lotion on, everywhere except the middle of my back, which I can't reach, and... my face, which I sort of forgot about until I was out there a while and started thinking, my, my face is getting rather warm. My face is now a nice dark brown, several shades darker than the rest of me, which is still rather, um, not-white.

• I will say this, I may not be the most coordinated beachgoer, but I'll bet I was the only one reading biographies of the eight full-rank generals of the Confederacy. I probably wasn't the only one sneaking glances at girls in bikinis around my book, though.

• Turns out, the beach I was on last night was about six hotels down. That's how lost I was.

• Oh, and why does a hotel that fronts onto the beach have not one, but two swimming pools? The water wasn't THAT cold. In fact, it was rather nice, once you got used to it. A bit salty (yeah, I got a mouthful when I inadvertantly turned toward a wave). I did avoid losing my contacts when I went under, which is good.

My day at the beach complete with no major injuries, I'm off to find some Advil for my headache, and some dinner. My eye is on a Hawaiian BBQ place I passed last night, then this afternoon. As I went by this afternoon, some people going the other way said, "this is the place they told us about!" which means one of two things: a) it's good; or b) a long and sordid history with the board of health. I'm hoping for the former.

First, the other monkey T-shirt. Then after dinner, perhaps, the indoor rifle range. And then the nightclub. Assuming I'm still awake.

Final report for the day TK later, assuming I'm sober and awake enough to write.

It's 5ish, Hawaii time.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 2, Part 1

OK, I splurged on the in-room Internet, if for no other reason than I have a review to write and get to Stewie, and one of his to bounce back. And my cell-phone link-up keeps putzing out on me before I can get anything done. After Diarii Day 1, it bombed my Mac six times before I gave up.

So let me add a few details I forgot:

• I went past the yacht harbor on the bus ride in, and the bus driver pointed out it was the departure point for one of the most famous ships in history: The S.S. Minnow, on its three-hour tour. I took a picture, but I don't seem to be able to post them for some reason.

• Tally of tourist couples who asked me to take their picture: 1.

• I got in front of a dude on a Segway with a flashing headline, and for a brief second, no doubtedly due to either the Blue Hawaii, the jet lag or the Thai place's chili sauce, I thought I was being pulled over for jaywalking.

• Oh, and a store across from the hotel has a T-shirt shop that features shirts dyed green with recycled U.S. currency. I'm doing my part for the environment later and buying the one labeled "Lucky Monkey Casino."

• Finally, I never thought I'd stroll into a fancy-looking restaurant in a pair of cargo shorts and bright red pullover polo and feel OVERdressed.

On to Day 2, part 1:

• I got up BEFORE my 8 a.m. wakeup call. This is SO going to screw up my system. A lot of people are planning extracurriculars around the con for way early in the morning, and I was worried. Sheesh.

• Moral dilemma for tomorrow: Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals is on... in the middle of the freakin' afternoon. I don't know what to do, but if it's as hot tomorrow when the sun is high as it was today, I'll be watching the Canes and Oilers.

• Speaking of hot. Sheesh. I'm wilting. My sore leg is killing me, my side hurts and I have a headache despite (or perhaps because of) chugging a liter of ice-cold Coke.

• That's because I went for a good long walk today, which really only served to convince me that a) my sore leg will never, ever heal properly; and b) I really, really, really need to go to the gym and get in shape. Not because of all the cut surfer bodies - there are plenty of fat dudes wandering around shirtless - but because it's just so damn tiring to walk so far. I went a few miles. And I hurt.

• Where did I walk, you ask? First, I went to the place advertising the cheapest breakfasts in Waikiki, one of the places I wandered past last night. Coconut pancakes, yummy. And because I dumped the entire cup of coconut syrup on them (tastes better than it sounds, or looks for that matter), I wound up having coconut eggs and coconut bacon, too.

• By the way, it's a lot easier to find your way around when you have a map, like the one I collected from the travel desk downstairs. It's sponsored by the Polynesian Cultural Center, but I couldn't find THAT on the stinkin' map. Poor planning on somebody's part. I would've thought that would be in bold, bright colors. Still, map good.

• Then I walked to the Honolulu Zoo - very cool, lots of monkeys, including one that played to the crowd (some kind of gibbon) by swinging madly from the trees in his pen. I shot a little video, which again, I can't post. I actually got blitzed by the first chimp I saw in the chimp pen (in the African Safari section, of all things) and I can sort of see how they can tear people's faces off, like that poor dude in California. I guess Chimpy didn't like getting his picture taken. I shit you not, he charged, ran right at me, grabbed a branch, swung with his arms, screeched and flat-out KICKED THE GLASS separating us. THUD! I'm proud to say not only did I not piss myself, I got off a photo in mid-swing. It's blurry, the flash reflected off the plexi and he's not really kicking, but I got it. I can't post that one, either, though. Darn Blogger. Pity nobody was around to see it, I'd gotten ahead of the families I was near. Because that was very, very cool. In a "thank God I didn't piss myself" sort of way.

• Then I went to the Honolulu Aquarium. You know, considering we're on a freakin' island, it was pretty disappointing. Not big at all. I'm talking smaller than Camden, more like the Maritime one in Connecticut. Just shrimpy. Though I did get to see the seal feedings. And they have some excellent jellyfish. But there's a mall nearby (the one with the T-shirt store) that has a freakin' ray in a giant tank, and the aquarium - part of the U. of Hawaii - doesn't even have one. Go figure.

• So after several more miles of walking, I came back to the hotel and decided I'd rather not go sit on the beach at noontime-ish when the sun is highest. So I sat outside and read a book for an hour or so. Then came back in and started writing this. I think I'm going to go check out the beach next - I bought some suntan lotion - and then go find some dinner. Then maybe try one of those nightclubs or bars tonight.

• I find myself thinking that the next time I come back, I want to plan things better and visit other islands - everywhere I go, tour companies are pitching the different places, and they sound pretty cool. I'd love to go on one of those helicopter tours like some cousins - I forget which - did on their honeymoon. They had some excellent pictures of what I think might be the Big Island.

• Oh, and I bought a T-shirt at the zoo. It's got the primate family tree on it, with pictures of monkeys and a big label at the neckline that says "homo sapiens" where your head comes out.

Again, don't know what time Blogger says it is (I changed the time on my computer clock), but it's about 2 p.m. local now.

And if you're expecting an e-mail, I can't send for some reason. I can receive, though. Beats me, computer says it's some kind of security issue.

Day 2, Part 2 later, if I'm sober enough to write. Might as well use the Net access, I'm paying for it.

On to the next part!

Hawaii Diarii, Day 1

OK, I don't know what time it says on this post it is, but it's 11:10 p.m. Saturday night, Hawaii time, as I start writing this, which makes it about 5-something a.m. Hillsborough time.

I figured, since I can get online, at least on a limited basis, I'd share my adventures in the 50th state.

I'm in Honolulu, down by Waikiki beach, for the Asian American Journalists Association convention, later this week.

I'm still trying to polish the joke:

"The last time this many Asians invaded Hawaii, it was a bad day for anybody on a ship named for a state."

Let's establish a philosophy first, before I'm too jet-lagged to make any sense.

My newspaper gave me the time off to come to the convention, but I had to pay my own way. Therefore, I've adopted the philosophy that I'm going to do the convention thing right - go to the seminars (starting with a high-intensity business journalism seminar on Wednesday) and justify the time they gave me.

On the other hand, this is all on my dime, so I'm going to have some fun, too.

The pity is, it's Saturday night, right in the prime of the evening - the nightclub downstairs at the hotel is jumping - and I'm dead tired because, well, by my system, it's 5 in the morning, which is rough even for Mr. Night Owl me.

So that all said, let's recap Day 1.

• I made my flight on time, no small miracle considering by the time I went to bed Friday night, it was 7 a.m. Saturday morning, and I had to leave by 11 to get to the airport on time. (It helped the flight was delayed half an hour.)

• Mercifully, I got an aisle seat - this is a 10-hour nonstop flight.

• Even better, not only was I seated next to an attractive young woman who was pretty decent conversation, she was skinny as hell. Poor thing was boxed in by me and my shoulders, and the dude on the other side was just ginormous. Still, a plus for me, even if I did keep getting whacked in the arm by passing flight attendants.

• Continental served us four freakin' times, plus several rounds of juice. I slept through what I think was the "peanut" round, but I got a microwaved pizza for lunch (well, I had a bite at the airport, but I guess it was too early for dinner), a little mini-sandwich for dinner, some pretzels and cheese and crackers. Plus three cans of juice and some water. Considering some airlines are ditching the food entirely, not bad.

• Hawaii has a rule about importing anything that is or used to be alive. Fruits, vegetables, soil, animals, etc. That's OK - though it made me wonder how they handled the dog the pilot announced was on our flight. But the odd thing was, at the exit of the airport, there was a trash-receptacle-looking thing labeled the "amnesty bin," for dumping your contraband. The sign listed various things you could ditch, like fruits, vegetables... and pets. In a bin. I don't know. I've never been here before.

• Speaking of the dog, how the hell does a dog last through a 10-hour flight in a crate in cargo? Morgan couldn't go three hours without peeing somewhere, and the first time I left my little pup home alone for eight hours, it took six more to get the poop out of his hair and the doggie crate never really recovered.

• My stuffed-to-bursting suitcase survived the flight. Intact.

• I finished Preston & Child's latest book. A wee bit predictable, as they sometimes are, but excellent, as they always are. I took four books on the plane, cocky little bugger that I am, and fell asleep within 10 minutes of takeoff. So I only finished one.

• At the airport, there was a shop selling leis. So I guess in Hawaii, you can pay to get lei'd. Like certain parts of Newark, but different.

• Got to my room OK - it's supposed to be overlooking something (there are beach rooms, mountain rooms, etc.) but near as I can tell it mostly overlooks the hotel next door. But it's got a balcony, which rocks.

• The weather is great, even though it rained for about five minutes on the way in from the airport. Warm, breezy. Very nice.

• The only thing I did tonight was go for dinner (despite Continental's four feedings). I walked up the road from the hotel for nearly 25 minutes - I refuse to eat at a chain on vacation, like Planet Hollywood - before finding a restaurant. Lots of shops, though. This main drag is like the freakin' Short Hills Mall - Gucci, Bulgari, Tiffany, you name it, it's here - except every third store sells Hawaiian shirts, there are a ton of liquor stores and I spotted two adult video stores, a tattoo parlor and not one, but TWO indoor shooting ranges. Oh, and under the English, the foreign words are in Asian, not Spanish.

• I guess if you're a three-hour plane flight from anywhere, drinking, shooting at things or watching porn must seem like legitimate hobbies. Hell, I'm an hour drive from New York City and I regard all three as legitimate hobbies.

• I wound up at a place called Keo's, which touted itself as one of the world's great Thai restaurants. I haven't had enough food to say if they're lying or not, but it was excellent. The crispy noodles melt in your mouth, and if the crispy mahimahi wasn't particularly crispy, it was particularly delicious.

• I started drinking almost exactly three hours after I got off the plane. Yes, it was a girly drink. Yes, I drank from a straw. But it's Hawaii, for God's sake, they're all girly drinks with umbrellas and straws. But they all have RUM. Which may explain...

• On the way back, I passed about a dozen restaurants I would have cheerfully eaten at in my earlier, starving state. Which meant, of course, I wasn't on the same street I'd come up on. The 25-minute walk up became an hour and a half walk back, in which I passed the hotel twice, went into two OTHER hotels, and asked directions twice before finding my way home.

• The good news is, I found my way onto the beach - behind my hotel, as it turned out, but I went the wrong way - and I gotta say it was beautiful at night. I was pretty flustered and exhausted by then, and it sure would've been nicer if I were walking hand-in-hand with a girl under the clear sky and stars, instead of getting sand in my sneakers and wondering where the hell I was. But still, a nice moment. I'll bet it's a madhouse tomorrow during the day, but tomorrow night, I'm darn sure wandering back out. Now that I know where it is.

• Off to find the aquarium tomorrow. Then, perhaps, the nightclub. Or one of the nightclubs I passed while pondering whether to hail a cab. I even saw a strip club, but I didn't bring that much money. Besides, the women here are a) fine-fine-fine and b) scantily clad.

So far, so good. Hey, I'm on vacation, after all. Further bulletins as events warrant.

On to the next part!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The coolest thing of the week

This week, I saw a story about the Webby awards, for Web sites.

That's not the cool part.

The cool part is, acceptance speeches must be no more than five words long.


That's pretty cool.

Would make the Oscars about an hour long, too.

One of the better ones belonged to Cute Overload, which features pictures of itty-bitty animals, including a classic section titled "Cats 'n' Racks," which is exactly what it sounds like.

Five words from a winner: "Not bad, for posting kittens."

Of all the various blogs in my blogworld, I think I'm far from likeliest to win. Hell, I still don't show up when you Google "WildOily" and I was first to aid the Lesley.

But if I did win, I think I'd either go sincere:

"Thanks Mom, Dad and everybody!"

or to the point:

"You liked my blog! Munkee!"

Well, today, anyway.

TV reports

Mood: Hungry.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The trouble with karma

I used to have a co-worker who took a certain amount of delight in pointing out mistakes in other newspapers. I've never been the type to gloat over this, preferring the "there but for the grace of God go I" approach.

I figure, if I keep my mouth shut, I won't jinx myself.

This is the kind of pessimistic attitude that may come from getting engaged without getting married, I realize. On the other hand, prudence is something of a virtue, isn't it?

Karma caught up with Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger today. Fortunately, it appears he'll be OK. Eventually.

Roethlisberger, for the uninitiated, responded to remarks about another NFL player's serious motorcycle accident a couple of years back (that, in the wake of an NBA player's even more serious motorcycle accident) by pointing out that not only does he cheerfully ride, he rides WITHOUT A HELMET.

He said he was a careful rider. I have no real reason to doubt him. He seems like a decent, down-to-earth sort. Not to mention the youngest Super Bowl-winning quarterback ever.

Still, in the face of varying criticism of his potentially dangerous hobby, not only did he say he would keep riding, helmetless, as a defense, he cited a change in Pennsylvania law that made riding helmetless legal.

Of course, when Mr. Careful's bike collided with a car in Pittsburgh today, what happened? He busted his freakin' head.

It's not funny. I'm not laughing so much as wincing. I mean, broken nose, broken jaw, busted teeth, major surgery... I'm glad the guy didn't die. Clearly, bouncing one's unhelmeted head off a windshield (as reported in the media) can't be fun.

Forget that he may have ruined his season, or career (at age 24), and may therefore have ruined his entire team's season. He's lucky to be alive.

But the whole thing sure does make me shake my head and think, karma can be a real bitch sometimes, huh?

The latest update on "Big Ben"

And yes, the cynic in me wonders if he'll keep riding without a helmet, spouting cliches about getting back on the horse (bike) and so on. If he does, and he wrecks again, I suspect I won't feel nearly as sorry for him as I do today.

And one more thing...

Those words are usually the beginning of the final part of a harangue, and they seem appropriate because, well, what I'm going to write about here pisses me off.

The Ku Klux Klan marched last week at Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the single bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

Now, those of you who are regular readers know my recent fascination with all things CW.

You probably also know my general hatred of all things bigoted.

(Aside, if you're here because you looked up "Ku Klux Klan," and you're a white supremacist, um, how can I put this politely? Fuck off and die. I'm a Vietnamese Jew, so I hope they throw you out of your hate group for reading my blog, you ignorant, prejudiced, hateful, stupid motherfucker.)

Sorry. Where was I?

Oh, yes, pointing how much this rally honked me off.

One of the Klantards talked at the rally about how he and his redneck ilk were the true heirs of the Confederacy. And if there's one thing CW literature does, it's romanticize the Confederacy.

Many of the great, praised leaders of the CSA were slaveowners. Many of the great, praised leaders on both sides of the war believed the blacks, whether slave or free, were inherently inferior.

This is the legacy to which the Klan - founded by a CW hero - speaks.

Many of those great, praised leaders, were in fact, great. They deserve praise for leadership, heroism, personal courage, strategy, inspiration and many other things.

They were also wrong. Dead wrong.

Truth in advertising: Blacks and whites ARE different. So are Asians and whites. Hispanics and whites. Hispanics and blacks. Asians and blacks. We're all different, as races. As people. Political correctness would teach that we're all the same, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, whatever. That's just not true.

We're all different. As individuals. And undoubtedly, somewhere in our makeups, there is a certain sameness among race, color, gender, etc. In all stereotypes, there is a grain of truth, for better or for worse.

But to hate another person simply for the color of his skin, or the name of his God, or the gender of his partner, is just wrong. It's wrong, it's ignorant, it's hateful.

Everything the KKK stands for is hateful.

Free speech, one of the cornerstones of our nation, the nation 25,000 men died over along the Antietam Creek, demands these ignorant fools be given their right to spew their venom on public land.

So be it. You have to take the good with the bad. That's freedom. And that's a legacy of the Civil War far better than anything these hooded cowards (because a brave man, a believer, wouldn't hide his face, he'd face the consequences of his beliefs) think is a legacy.

But I think those Civil War dead, in whatever afterlife they earned, have learned over the centuries. They've learned all men are created equal, and blacks are men. They've learned, whether by the glory and wisdom of God or at the point of the devil's spear in penance.

Maybe, in the 1860s, they were simply ignorant in the truest sense of the word. They didn't know any better when they fought for their "property."

But this is the 21st century. We do know better.

And to see hatemongers stand on a battleground where men died so other men might be free, to see them stand there and spew forth their venom, it disgusts me. It taints that battleground that made heroes in blood. It dishonors the very legacy of the men these vultures cite and the men they fought.

By our laws, by our great documents, these racists have the right to stand on that public ground and speak.

But they damn sure don't deserve the honor.

Two more random thoughts...

... While I'm still hyper...

1. Don't you hate when you forget something, only to remember it later, when it's wretchedly too late? I know, recurring theme today.

But I need to shave. Only I'm out of shave gel, my last can having blown up in D.C. the other week.

I was in the drugstore yesterday, picking up a prescription. I grabbed some toilet paper, too. But I actually stood there, saying to myself, I know I need something else. I know it. But I couldn't remember what.

So here I am, today, in need of a shave, and of course, I know what I needed to get. I knew it as soon as I got up and went into the bathroom this morning. Sheesh.

2. Sometimes I worry that when I go on dates and to social events and things like that, I talk too much. I usually chalk it off to nervousness. But sometimes, I worry that the real reason is loneliness. Like, I've lived alone for so long - six years since my last quasi-live-in girlfriend, three and change since my last real gf of any sort - I'm going stir-crazy talking to myself and Mookie, and when I get to talk to a real, live human (not to be confused with a co-worker) it just sort of all pours out.

Great, one more thing to be paranoid about.

OK, back to folding laundry, and thence to bed, perchance to dream.

Oh, yeah, I forgot...

For those who might be wondering why "My lousy taste in music," at the bottom of the page, hasn't updated in ages... well, my new car doesn't have a tape deck, so I haven't been using my iPod on my commute.

It does play MP3s, so I burned a mega-CD and I've been listening to that. But I heard Apple's FM adaptor blows - from somebody who works for Apple, no less - so I'm trying to figure out what to do.

And since I don't listen to much music when I'm not commuting (just ask my lonely little iDog, Morgan Jr., which I never use)... nothing for the Scrobbler to update.

If it's important, I'll remember it

The downside of blog-as-diary/journal is that sometimes I think of things I want to write here at inconvenient times (such as, say, on my commute home) but by the time I get to a computer, I've either forgotten what I wanted to write or gotten distracted... and forgotten what I wanted to write.

For instance, there was a father's day-type thing I was going to write, sort of a tribute to my Dad. I had it all plotted out on the drive home, then I got home and had to do something, like pee, and by the time I booted up the ol' computer...

Poof. Gone.

Then the other night, in bed, dozing, I thought of a post - just a few random points/thoughts for the day.

Then I dozed off. By the time I woke up...

Poof. Gone.

So while you've been deprived of a few blogs by a combination of forgetfulness and work exhaustion, you've gotten this one.

Almost a fair trade.

I've been hacking away at another Web project this weekend: The Raiders Research Project.

It's probably only of interest to you Raiders fans out there - do I actually have any among my readers? - because what it is, is a compilation, or the beginnings of a compilation, of lots of random Raiders information. There are lineups, there are NFL Europe allocations, there's other stuff. And it's all just beginning.

Of course, it's also the rantings of an anal-retentive/obsessive-compulsive fan, so it's not exactly for the masses.

And I can't Web program for squat - believe me, y'all should be as grateful for Blogger as I am that this looks the way it does, forget those fancy blogs like Stewie's or Crystal's or some of the others in the ol' blogroll - so it's an ugly, ugly looking set of info.

But it's the research contained therein that's the selling point, and I'm quite proud of my efforts so far. I hope justly so.

Good news on the Silver & Black front: I've completed my Raiders media guide string - I've got every one since 1970, now that I won the '73 on eBay. Now on to the '60s and the postseason - I've got a few, but not them all.

This is Dave's fault - he managed to land every single Flyers regular-season media guide ever (that's going back to '67-68, when the Flyers were part of the Second Six in the NHL) and that sort of inspired me onward. And cost me a fortune.

Random movie review: "The Alamo" is every bit as dull as critics said. Skip it unless you're a big fan of history, or from Texas. Patrick Wilson, a fellow Carnegie Mellon alum, is quite good. The rest, I could take or leave.

But if there's one thing "The Alamo" got right, it's the recent trend of long-ass movies, and I don't just mean the "director's cut" versions - so many movies clock in at two hours-plus these days... I think in some cases, that's good, and some bad. It gives movies based on novels some extra depth - which is always my complaint with movies based on books. Take "Jurassic Park." The book is an excellent bit of science/action fiction. The movie is a big chase. Not a bad flick (it's in my collection) but nowhere near what the book was. Longer movies, more depth, more character, more interest.

And sometimes, unfortunately, just more time in your life you'll never get back.

What to make of the trend? I don't know yet. Horror and action movies aren't known for being lengthy and full of character development.

Watched a bunch of movies today, doing laundry (still not done, damn five-hour dryer), but I didn't finish the CW book I'm working on, "The Army of the Heartland," by Thomas L. Connolly, about the Confederate Army of Tennessee. That slightly irritates me, because a) it's a bit dry; and b) "Book of the Dead," the third book in Preston & Child's Pendergast Trilogy, is out and in my grubby hands, and I want to get to it. I've only been waiting like an entire year.

But I can't read more than one book at once. I just can't. I get confused, and forgetful, and if you think that's not a problem, you should've seen the father's day post I should've written.

A quick DVD summary, from my recent first viewings:
• "Munich": Excellent. Very, very tough to watch. Bloody, heavy, but important. And none of the schmaltz that occasionally invades even the serious Spielberg (i.e. the bookends of "Saving Pvt. Ryan"). Very powerful. Also long as hell, but worth it.
• "Skyhigh": Fun Japanese flick from the director of the most excellent "Versus." Chicks and swords are always good times.
• "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," director's cut: Almost as disappointing as the underwhelming theatrical cut. Pretty people, some good lines, some great action, but just somehow unimpressive. I wasn't impressed with the theatrical cut when I saw it, but I heard the DC was a little more smooth, a little more raw, so I went for it.
• "Alive": More foreign fun from Ryuhei Kitamura, but this one didn't make nearly as much sense. But man, the dude makes some excellent movies, just for the imagery and chaos and combat. I preferred "Skyhigh," and prefer "Versus" to both. But still pretty slick. And for "Versus" fans, a little more Sakaki-vs.-Sakaguchi action.
• "Underworld Evolution": Also disappointing. I enjoy the original "Underworld even if it is more style than substance (much, much more). But this one didn't have the style OR the substance. Promising start, then all downhill.
• "Stay": My buddy Anthony loaned me this one and asked me if I could figure out what it was about. Hell if I know. I was completely baffled. Movie made no sense. That's the problem when you mess with reality in a movie - it's like, what's real and what isn't? (No jokes, Lesley.) But in the end, if I read it right, 90 percent of the movie is pure, 100% bullshit. At least it was only an hour 40.

If you're wondering why I'm tossing some little summaries up here rather than writing big ol' reviews for HorrorTalk, well a) most of those movies aren't horror; and b) do you have any idea how long it takes to go through all those features and write the review? Some of those are 2-disc sets, and I might get to the second disc (which in some cases includes a second VERSION of the movie) sometime in 2007. I don't review as much as I should, but I don't review everything I see, either. And frankly, the movie most likely for me to review would be "Underworld E" and I just don't feel like sitting through it again right now. Just too much of a bummer.

I recently bolstered my undersea adventure DVD collection (to join "The Abyss") by picking up three little flicks:
• "Below": An underrated little submarine ghost story written by Darren Aronofsky (who did that movie about drug addiction everybody liked so much but I've never seen and can't remember the title of) and directed by David Twohy (who did "Pitch Black" and whose flicks I generally dig).
• "DeepStar Six": A crappy full-frame DVD for a frankly crappy movie I bought more for sentimental value than anything (see below).
• "Leviathan": About the third copy of this I've owned. It's the same movie as DS6, just better.

I've always liked undersea flicks, and this goes back to the late '80s, when a buddy and I desperately wanted to see DS6 (which has some awesome cover art) when it hit the new release shelf at the local video store. (This is back when Bloomsburg didn't have a Blockbuster or anything, just the (late, lamented) local place called Hollywood Video before the chain existed.)

But DS6 was always out.

So we must've rented every other undersea movie we could find (including "Abyss" and "Leviathan") while we waited until the day one of us went into the store and - lo and behold! - DS6 was there.

And boy, when we saw it, were we disappointed. Certainly wasn't worth the wait.

Which brings me back to "Underworld E" and my upcoming preorder blind buy of "Ultraviolet." Thank God Anthony lent me "BloodRayne" before I had to buy it.

Dr. Uwe Boll must be stopped. The only result of his marginal improvement from truly godawful movies ("House of the Dead") to generally hideous ones ("Alone in the Dark") and then a backslide to "Oh, dear Lord" country ("BloodRayne") is that his movies have stopped being so bad as to be funny in their awfulness. "HOTD" may have been the worst movie I ever saw, and could have spawned a drinking game if it had any consistency whatsoever - though it's ridiculous whipsaw inconsistency is part of its charm. But "BloodRayne" just sucked. Bad. So bad, the studio couldn't even get a cover quote from David Manning - the DVD box says something at the bottom like "Exciting action!" with no attribution, which means the studio put it there because it would've looked bad to leave the box blank.

This is a flick with a literally bangin' Kristanna Loken sex scene and it still wasn't worth watching. And the hair. The worst collection of hair in the history of cinema, I'd guess.

Bear in mind, this movie has a cast that includes Sir Ben "I won an Oscar for 'Ghandi'" Kingsley, Michael "Reservoir Dogs" Madsen, Loken from "Terminator 3," Matt Davis, who was good in the aforementioned "Below," Michelle "Resident Evil" Rodriguez, Michael "Eddie and the Cruisers" Pare, Meat "Rocky Horror" Loaf and the jackass who's stunk up the joint in every one of Boll's movies.

I might point out, "AITD" had Christian Slater, Tara Reid (who at least kept most of her clothes on) and Stephen Dorff.

What, does Boll have compromising photos of everyone in Hollywood? How the hell does the guy get these casts? Did these people not SEE "HOTD"? Do they not know ANYONE who did?

Hell, Boll's first film, the straight-to-cable "Sanctimony," had Cap Van Dien from "Starship Troopers," Jennifer Rubin and (again) Michael Pare, plus the hot blonde chick from the beginning of "Club Dread."

I mean, this guy gets a couple million bucks to make a video-game movie every couple of years, and he's making Paul W.S. Anderson (who started the VG-specialist trend with "Mortal Kombat," "Resident Evil" and "Alien vs. Predator") look like Orson freakin' Welles.

I don't know the exact budget for "Dead Hunt," but it sure wasn't a million bucks. Wasn't even $100,000. And it's better than all Boll's movies put together, I swear to God, except for the Slater factor and a couple of bangin' sex scenes (Loken and Davis, plus Van Dien and the hot blonde). And when I say better than all his movies put together, I realize that, mathematically speaking, anything times zero is still zero, but you know what I mean.

A couple of random shoutouts, while I'm insomniac'ing and hopped up on caffeine waiting for my laundry:
• A congratulations to my pal Triple-M, who I know reads this even if she never posts comments - she got the new job she's been looking for, at the paper she was looking to get to.
• A get well soon to the aforementioned Lesley, who's got a bad case of something besides the long-distance luv.
• And a few congratulations to the aforementioned Stewie, who was crowing on his blog with good reason about "DH" and other matters.

Munkee roll call:
• Mookie, who has his own Mini-Mookie, thanks to eBay.
• AeroPasquale, from AeroPostale
• Mini-Monkey, the New Jersey Gladiators' mascot
• Rally Monkey, official and from Anaheim
• Flyers Rally Monkey, who I wave at games
• Green Flying Wicked Monkey, who doesn't actually have any wings to fly
• Bonsai Munkee, liberated from the Hallmark store, who grew his own prehensile tail
• Neon Green Upside-down Monkey, who has his own a prehensile tail
• The cool evilmunkee action figure Stewie gave me - scary evilmunkee!
• My bestest munkee bookends ("Big munkee sit. Little munkees puuuuuuuullllllllllll!")
• Two other sets of munkee bookends, not quite so nice
• Two strings of squeaky munkee Mardi Gras beads (girls love 'em!)
• One giant munkee World of Wonder poster (yay!)
Did I miss anybody? I think not.

OK, I think my laundry's almost done, and I'm pretty sure I'm officially delirious. So let's call it a night.

Mood: Goofy (can't you tell)

Have you noticed I'm a very momentum-based writer? This was going to be a short little post, then I got on a roll with the random thoughts...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Warning: Insufficient postage

Just a word to the faithful of the Church of the Holy (Late, Lamented) Dachshund:

Due to some temporarily increased work responsibilities (read: due to my boss's vacation) and an upcoming journalism conference, blog posts may be scarce for the next two weeks or so.

That said, I'll probably wind up posting in the next 48 hours, just because I've gone and warned you I won't be.

Apologies. You know how work gets. Well, maybe you don't, given the vague cloak of secrecy I've draped over my job. But trust me, it's going to be an ugly week and change.

Then I'll be in Hawaii for a week. I know, rough gig, a work conference in Hawaii - hey, I had to pay my own way, so don't be too envious. I'm excited anyway. I like new places.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The premiere! Awesome!

Or, as my inner child put it so eloquently, moviemunkeeyay!

The premiere for "Dead Hunt" was Saturday night, and more than 100 people were at the first show.

And the movie was great. The experience was even greater.

For one thing, it was great seeing everybody again - everyone from the cast and crew made it! Every single one. And I think I got them all to sign my poster! (It wasn't nearly as awkward as I'd feared, since everybody was going around signing each other's stuff.)

And second, the movie just rocked. I hadn't seen the whole thing, only about the first half of the edit, without all the bells and whistles like computer effects and music and so on. It was really terrific. Tight, tense, funny where it should be, sad or scary where it should be. Exciting. A great little B-movie.

Joe Ripple, the (co-)director, gave me a nice introduction (among other people), too. It was a nice little ego boost, made even nicer because my parents were sitting right there with me to share it. Funny how that matters more as I get older - I used to love the cheers in drama, just because it made me psyched. But by the time I gave my speech at graduation, it mattered almost as much that they were there to hear people cheer. I didn't think they'd like the movie, but I felt like they deserved to be there to share the experience. They're the ones who always encouraged me and paid for school so I could study screenwriting instead of something more lucrative, and who believed in me from Day 1.

And the effects, while excellent, didn't gross them out too much. That was clutch.

Yes, I took my parents to a horror movie. Hey, they wanted to go. I warned them. But they really had a good time and were really proud of me, and that may have been most exciting of all.

Well, seeing my name on screen (sole screenwriting credit!) may have been the most exciting. But one of the two.

My buddy Ed liked it, too. He went along and we hung out all weekend. We were college roommates and writers/journalists together so it was nice to share the experience with him. (Hopefully I didn't make him too jealous. He's writing a script right now.)

And it was really, really great to see the movie with an audience. I mean, maybe every straight-to-DVD movie gets a premiere, I don't know. But it was just great to hear the audience react - even if they laughed a couple of times when they weren't supposed to. There were lots of gasps and yells and a few cheers and whistles and stuff. Everybody in the cast and crew seemed to feel the same way, really dig it. And I got lots of compliments on my writing. That was nice. I'm glad I could do the cast and crew's talents justice and justify the risk Timewarp took on me.

It was really a great time. One of the greatest nights of my life. What a perfect cap to the whole experience. I told somebody, if the movie had stunk I still wouldn't have traded the experience for anything, but the fact that it's really great is really the perfect ending. Beginning. Whatever.

And yeah, I got excited about things. Pretty much the second the lights went out and the film started. I'm probably still high on the experience. I know, I'm a goof. Deal.

So thank you to everyone out there associated with Timewarp Films, particularly Joe Ripple and Don Dohler, of course. And everyone associated with "Dead Hunt." Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can't say it enough. The whole adventure has been one of the greatest of my life. I'll never forget it, no matter how long I live or whatever else I do.

And remember, my faithful readers, when the movie hits DVD later this year (hopehopehope), I expect you all to buy a copy! If you're nice to me, I'll even autograph 'em!