Friday, September 29, 2006

We have a sponsor!

Come on, "Days of Thunder" fans, you know the lines... after you look like a (and I quote) "monkey f***ing a football," you get yourself a sponsor!

Well, an unofficial sponsor... that's right, my Barber Foods coupons finally arrived! So I'll be trying out some new flavors and types of their delicious chicken products very, very soon!

Now, does anybody know how to make that picture link to their Web site, that's the question...

Vacation update: For the curious, yes, I've done absolutely nothing pretty much since Mom & Dad left yesterday, except work on my reviews and sit on the couch and stare at the TV. I actually managed to do some laundry for my trip... and watch "The Mummy" not once but twice on TNT. Plus watch "The Mummy Returns" on DVD.

And, at Mookie's insistence, I've watched the better parts of "Curious George" (the ones with George, obviously) three more times.

Oh, and sometime soon, I've got a story to tell about the Yankees game and coincidence. Remind me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I'm on a much-needed vacation this week. So there probably won't be much posting.

My schedule, as planned, and thus far partially carried out:

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Edit Stewie's latest HorrorTalk review. Evening: Go to Philadelphia Flyers preseason game. Late-night: Do nothing.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Do nothing. Evening: Go to Borders to use "personal shopping day." Late-night: Do nothing.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Watch "Curious George" with Mookie. Evening: Dinner with Sari at Newark's excellent Spanish Tavern. Late-night: Do nothing.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Lunch with parents. Evening: New York Yankees game with Dad. Late-night: Watch (taped) finale of "The Contender," season 2.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Lunch with parents. Evening: Do nothing. Late-night: Do nothing.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Do nothing. Evening: Do nothing. Late-night: Do nothing.

Morning: Sleep. Afternoon: Do nothing. Evening: Fly to Oakland to cover the Oakland Raiders game for Late-night: Munkee on a plane.

Morning: Sleep in Oakland. Afternoon: Do nothing in Oakland. Evening: Drink in Oakland. Late-night: Drink in Oakland.

Morning: Sleep in Oakland. Afternoon: Cover Raiders' game with the Cleveland Browns. Pray for win. Evening: Write article in Oakland. Late-night: Fly back to Jersey on the red eye.

As you can see, there's an awful lot of "do nothing," which can be interpreted as watching TV, watching movies, reading, eating, drinking, playing video games and watching more TV.

Somewhere in there, I gotta write some HorrorTalk reviews of my own.

Yeah, I'm probably the only guy in the world who's gonna chase "Curious George" with "Deadlands: The Rising" and "Rape is a Circle." What can I say? HorrorTalk's a genre site. And I've got a very obvious inner child.

Completely off topic, it's 14 days to "Mortal Kombat: Armageddon," which is my most-anticipated video game of the year. More than "Jaws Unleashed," more than "Madden," more than "Smackdown vs. Raw," more than anything. I love, love, love MK, and this is the MK to end all MKs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006


I opened my front door this morning, which I do about once a day, if that, to see if the mailman left any packages out front for me.

And there was a super-giant spider building a web right there, at eye-level!

It's more than an hour later and I still feel light-headed and sick to my stomach.

I'm not afraid of much. In fact, I'm pretty much afraid of two things:

Heights. (Well, falling from heights.)

And spiders.

And by afraid, I mean genuinely, irrationally terrified.

And this was a big, shiny, icky, nasty spider. Right where I could see it up close and personal.

My hands are shaking.

And the worst part is, I thought I'd gotten rid of it. See, when I opened the door last night, the spider was building a web down from the eave of the house.

I can't even bring myself to touch them.

I don't like bugs in general, but I can kill most. Not with my hands. I hate how they go crunch. But shoes... And I have a little Dustbuster I use just for vacuuming up bugs. And most of the work my broom gets is wiping out spider webs and things like that.

But this spider was too big. Too freakin' huge. I'm talking penny-sized.

So I did what any insane person (and scared munkee!) would do. I got a pot full of water and let fly.

Sploosh. No more web. Problem solved.

Only I guess I missed the spider.

So today, once I'd sat down and caught my breath, I went and got another potful of water.

And when, after literally pausing to screw up my courage, I opened the door... the spider was gone.

Well, I let the web have it anyway.

But now I'm scared when I get home tonight, the spider will be back. Ick.

Time to get the broom, I guess. If I can work up the nerve to open the door.

And for God's sake, what if, somehow, the spider got inside?

No wonder I feel sick. Chills. Shaky hands. Queasy.

A freakin' 200-pound tough guy, afraid of something smaller than a quarter.

I want to go home. And not long ago, I was happy to get into the car and go to work. To get away from home.







Totally, totally gross.

I hate spiders. Snakes on a plane, I could deal with. Spiders on a plane, I'd be dead meat.

Monday, September 18, 2006


I've discovered the one downside to this Blogger beta (besides the fact that I keep tinkering with my layout)...

I can't post comments on non-beta blogs. So I've been going on as "other" and putting my name and blog address that way.

In case you're any of the people who's blog I read regularly and you're wondering why my picture has stopped appearing automatically.

But some blogs don't allow anonymous comments so they don't include the "other" option. You know who you are, but if you're wondering why I don't comment anymore, well, I can't.

Had another one of those crazy good news/bad news/good news/bad news kind of weekends, but some of it is work-related and some of it I don't want to talk about and some of it is just sort of squick, so you don't get a list like the last time.

On the other hand, I bought two books on publishing with Blogger (only one's come in the mail so far), so I'm hopeful that I can find some improvements that y'all can appreciate.

Of course, they both came out before this whole beta thing, so who knows.

Friday, September 15, 2006

AvP, FvJ, book v. movie?

Most of the time, as any good reader knows, when a movie is based on a book, the book is inevitably better.

The book has better pacing, a more expansive story, more character and background and everything that comes from not having to cram 450 pages into two hours of screen time.

Think of "Jurassic Park." The book is an interesting, in-depth sci-fi tale filled with about a dozen major characters and several sideplots.

The Stephen Spielberg movie is an entertaining but shallow thrill ride best known for its then-groundbreaking special effects, and not for any of the six or so cardboard cutouts who populate it.

The movie is also cleaned up and reworked enough that Michael Crichton's sequel novel, "The Lost World," essentially reads more like a sequel to the movie than the original book. (And like most sequels, book and movie are both pretty bad.)

Or look at "The Relic," one of my favorite books. Same thing. The Preston & Child novel is detailed, science-filled, with many characters. The movie is a shallow, entertaining thriller with many major book characters erased entirely and others meeting completely different fates.

As I said in my HorrorTalk review, there's no way they could film the book sequel, "Reliquary," as a movie sequel.

But what about the books written as movie tie-ins? That is, the ones where the book is supposed to mimic the movie and not the other way around?

I bring up the subject because, on a whim, I ordered the novel based on "Snakes on a Plane."

Now, the movie is an entertaining, shallow thrill ride (notice a pattern here?) with a few major characters, a handful of minor ones and no depth whatsoever.

(Doesn't mean it wasn't fun. Right?)

So, my limited experience with movie tie-in books is basically the tie-in to "Aliens," my favorite movie, written by sci-fi great Alan Dean Foster. And you know what, it adds to the experience. For starters, it's based on the original script, which included many scenes not available in theatrical versions of the videotape (which is how I saw the movie back in the mid-to-late-'80s). Second, it does what I expected, add a bit of depth and character to the Marines, including the cannon fodder ones who get almost no screen time in the film.

Thus, I figured during that whim that the "Snakes on a Plane" novel would do the same thing, lend a bit of depth to the characters you get emotionally involved in without really knowing anything about.

Well, I was wrong. The book sucks. I skim-read most of it last night, and it just does nothing for me.

For one thing, and maybe it's the medium, the book completely fails to capture the excitement of the movie. "Aliens," for all the bluster of its combat scenes, is an action movie that relies on tension. Tension you can build in a book. Hell, you can probably build pulse-pounding excitement in a book (Matt Reilly can!), but this is a movie about MOTHERfreakin' snakes on a MOTHERfreakin' plane, and there's just no excitement to the man-vs.-snake angle of the book.

It was interesting to see some of the details - like the names of various snakes, and some of the little character touches I enjoyed so much in Foster's "Aliens" book.

But the book committed another cardinal sin: It added too much. Maybe that stuff was in the script at some point, but Lord knows, the book actually bogs down in the subplots and character development, with whole chapters (it feels like) devoted to every little bit of backstory of a character who's just going to die in a few minutes anyway.

I realize this sounds like a hypocritical argument, given that I generally, and admittedly, prefer books with their character development to movies with their stock characters. But the thing is, with this book, compared with the movie it's based on, it just doesn't feel natural.

Maybe Alan Dean Foster is a better writer than Christa Faust (despite her solid resume, including a collaboration with Poppy Z. Brite), but the book just feels like it took a 50-page script and had to flesh it out to 300 pages, whereas Foster's book isn't much thicker than the script it's based on, maybe 200 pages or so.

I guess when there isn't much to the movie, an author has to start making stuff up. "Aliens" had plenty of stuff cut out for Foster to use and embellish, whereas I suspect "SoaP" is exactly what it is. Quick, nasty and fun. The book winds up being long, dull and not really great.

Too bad. I was hoping for more. Guess I'll just have to wait for the DVD.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Survey of the day!

Got this one from The Lesley. It's an alphabetical one!

Act your age?
About half the time. If that.

Born on what day of the week?
No clue. That's the fun of being adopted. It's all random!

Chore you hate?
All of them. I pay people to clean my bathrooms, if that says anything. Otherwise, I think balancing my checkbook. It's so depressing.

Dad’s name?
Gerald, but people who know him call him Jerry.

Essential makeup item?
I normally don't wear any. On girls, I like lipstick and the stuff that makes your eyelids colored.

Favorite actor?
Tough call. I like all kinds. Bruce Willis, probably.

Gold or silver?
Silver. (And black. Oakland Raiders, baby!)

Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Native of Saigon, Vietnam.

Instruments you play?
None. Used to play piano, guitar and snare drum, though not all at once.

Job title?
Business copy editor. Says so on my cards.

None I know of.

Like trains?
I like model trains to look at. I like real trains to look at. NJTransit is just fine for getting into New York City. Riding the train to Florida for 24 hours really, really sucked.

Mom’s name?
Elizabeth, or Liz.

The list is way too long. Money, fame, women... food, clothing, shelter... You know, everything!

Overnight hospital stays?
One. Pneumonia, college.

Heights. Bugs. Large, loud dogs. Hey, I got bitten by a poodle when I was little. You wonder why I bought a dachshund.

Quote you like?
"When a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you." From "Tin Cup." Too bad the moment usually defines me.

Religious affiliation?
Jewish. Nonpracticing.

None that I know of.

Time you wake up?
Sometime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., depending.

Unique talent?
I have many. Not all of them particularly useful.

Worst habit?
Biting my nails, or at least that's the worst one I'll admit to.

X-rays you’ve had?
Too many to ennumerate. Everything from legs to arms to chest to head.

Yummy food you make?

Zodiac Sign?
Aquarius. So this survey went from Z to A...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

And another thing...

Meant to mention this the other day and forgot.

You know you've been working in a Business section in New Jersey ("America's Medicine Cabinet") too long when...

You see a Japanese sports car with the license plate "RXMONSTR" and the first thing you think is:

Pharmaceutical guy.


Well, it wasn't me

The power went out again today.

And I was nowhere near my garage door opener.

In fact, I was in the bathroom. Now THAT is inconvenient timing.

There I am, getting ready for work (you know, shower, bruth teeth, that sort of thing) and poof. No lights.

My master bath (that makes it sound glorious) is an interior room. So no lights means... no light. Makes the "spit" part of brushing your teeth sort of a game, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


From Peterson's Field Guide to Munkees:

The bullet-headed tummymunkee is native to Southeast Asia, but has thrived in the more temperate climates of the Northeastern United States.

This omnivorous munkee can often be found scavenging for food, and as a nocturnal mammal likes to spend his days sleeping and nights playing. He is noted for the seemingly contradictory traits of (relative) athleticism and a round little tummy, thought to be the result of his penchant for napping.

He is often accompanied by a smaller munkee (of the species stuffdus animalus), and it is believed their pseudosymbiotic relationship is similar to that of the remora and great white shark.

When frightened, the tummymunkee is often heard to squeak or eep, but when cornered, often growls ferociously in an attempt to frighten off his enemies. Generally, however, the tummymunkee is considered genial.

Also known for inquisitiveness, a tummymunkee can often be found investigating the mysteries of his environs. When not eating, of course.

A few random things while I sulk

Well, I made it to the city and back just fine.

Then things got weird.

I got home, opened the garage door, drove in, closed the garage door, and went in and hit the lights.


No power. On the whole side of the street. For an hour.

Now, either that's some odd timing, or my garage door opener blew out the entire neighborhood.

The power came on in time for me to catch the second half of the Raiders game. And that made me wish it'd stayed off. Egah. First time shutout at home in 25 freakin' years. To the Chargers, no less. Egah.


Yeah, it was a three-egah game.

So this post was a little delayed by the power outage (it got the modem, which requires power). And that threw my train of thought. Especially when, on the phone with my folks (to get the power company's number), I got my Dad to describe some of the game to me.

He hasn't watched football since... well, probably since at least the last time the Raiders got shut out at home.

He was trying to explain one tackle - he thought - and he's like, "I don't know. Something happened. They're showing a big, black man..." ("Dad, they're ALL big, black men...") "Do they have a No. 90?" ("Yes. Terdell Sands. He's big.") "There's a guy. Look at those tattoos!" ("I can't.") "The Chargers have the ball. I think." ("If Sands is out there, yes, he plays defense.") "Something happened... It's third down... The Raiders have the ball. There's one fellow with this huge black strip on his face." ("That's a breathe-right.") "And this black cap of some kind." ("Is he No. 18? Randy Moss? He wears a thing for his hair.") "That must be him. His hair is huge!" And on it went. At least until halftime. As I said to him, next I'd like you to read me a book in Braille. Give him credit for trying. Here's a man who taught me everything I know about baseball, who can tell you about the time the Yankees sent some rookie named Mantle back to the minors. But when faced with all 380 pounds of Terdell Sands, he was lost. Hey, he's a big dude, Terdell. I've seen him up close.

Where was I?

Oh, a few observations...

First, look for my report on "Header" on HorrorTalk soon. Good flick.

Second, remember that story about the cabbie in NYC who didn't know where I was going? This cabbie more than made up for that guy. Let me put it this way: He drove so fast, and changed lanes so often, it made me ponder the existential questions in life. Like, "Is my will up to date?" and "Who do I sue if a cabbie hits a double-parked delivery truck?"

Third, I felt bad because I forgot to bring any extra business cards to the screening... until the producer realized he'd forgotten the press kit he'd promised me.

And to think, I got almost everything on my goodmunkee list done this weekend. That's excellent.

Even if I was the first person in my family to have to sit around in the dark and cold since we lived in Vietnam.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I thought for a long time about what I might write today.

It's been five years since our world changed, and I feel like I should write something. Not in the sense of an unpleasant chore, though some ideas of what I should write felt unpleasant, but in the sense that I don't want to forget, want to pay tribute to the lost, want to speak my mind in that uniquely American way.

But what to write on a day when words seem inadequate, when my own psyche feels inadequate? I watched a few minutes of the Reading of Names this morning, and I really didn't want to hear anymore. I didn't know anyone personally who died on 9/11, but I know enough about the world to know each name is a loved one who didn't come home that day.

Every death that's not of natural causes - and even some that are - is a tragedy. Whether it's the Crocodile Hunter or the teenager cheerleader gunned down in Newark the other day, every life lost is a pain in someone's heart that will never go away. And on 9/11, thousands of lives ended, for reasons most of us can't comprehend, in a way I'm sure some of us still can't believe. And each story is sorrow, is pain... and sometimes, even hope.

So what to write?

Write politically, about the war on terror and the war in Iraq and religion and freedom?

Write simply, a tribute to those gone who I didn't even know?

Write stories, of the man I know who quit Cantor Fitzgerald just days before that fateful Tuesday, and lived to lose so many friends?

Write of fortune, the friend who was supposed to work, tangentially, at the Twin Towers that morning, only to delay the job a few days?

Write of my own experience that day, so far from New York City and yet so near?

I don't know what's best. Today, in some ways, is a day like any other. I ran some errands this afternoon, checked some e-mail, and I'll watch the Raiders game tonight. Free to do what I want, when I want. I'm even off from work.

And yet, is it different?

Do I get nervous later on, when I venture into the city for that movie screening I'm covering for HorrorTalk? (I've been calling it a premiere, it's more accurately a screening. Either way, what's the horror of a horror film compared with 9/11? We'll see...)

That's not so different from how I usually feel when I go into the city - alert - after all, I'm a small-town boy. But I know I've been more wary in the past five years. I don't want to be. I want to be defiant, show "them," stand tall.

But common sense, and prudence, dictate that extra glance around, that extra look to the sky.

Or is it fear? I hope not.

I type the word "free" on a day like this and I often think of Bill Maher, mocking George Bush's "they hate us for our freedom" mantra.

I'm OK with hate. They hate us. I hate them. But it has to be hate well-placed, well-used. Not the hate of bigotry, the hate of generalization, but the hate of righteousness, of hating someone for what he did, not what someone who looks like him did. I don't hate Muslims. I hate Osama bin Laden. I don't hate white workaholic executives. I hate my ex-fiancee's father. Specifics are better. But perhaps I digress.

What about the stories?

On the morning of 9/11, I called my best friend's house, in a panic. He answered the phone, and I said "what are you doing home?" and he said, "I'm watching TV, aren't you?"

And I said, "No, I mean, what are you doing HOME?"

He was supposed to be at Windows on the World, building a display for his company, all that week.

There was silence at the other end of the line.

Then he said, "Oh my God."

I could hear his (pregnant) wife in the background, saying "what is it?" probably fearful something had happened to someone they knew.

He said, "We put it off 'til Wednesday."

For Windows on the World, Wednesday never came, and as my friend said a while later, his son born the next February would never see the World Trade Center. But Ben sees his father every day, and that's a blessing too many children would never have after that day.

I went to work that day, to put out the paper unlike any other I've seen before or since. I did the Business section, my boss getting commandeered to work on the paper's first Extra! in who knows how long. I even tried to joke, later, that me and the Sports editor put out the two sections of the paper nobody read on Sept. 12.

I remember four things about that day.

I remember where I was when I heard - I was asleep, when my parents called to wake me and tell me what had happened. I think I registered "plane," and "World Trade Center" and "collapse" before I went back to sleep. Then I registered the definition of the word "collapse" and I was up and in front of the TV, watching the replays over and over, hoping each time that it wasn't real.

I remember calling my friend.

And then, I went to work. I went a different way, a way that always gave me a view of the New York skyline. And as I came up the rise on the highway to where it was, everybody slowed. Everybody in busy Jersey traffic slowed. Because we could see the tower of smoke rising from where the Twin Towers had stood.

And then, at work, at some lull in the action, me and my (former) colleague, Andy, went up to a room we knew had a view of the skyline. And we watched the smoke rise. He's a good guy, Andy, and we didn't have to say a thing. He left a while later, and wrote a column at his new job on the first anniversary. He wrote about that moment, standing there, in disbelief.

The next time I stood in that room was the big blackout in 2003, when I looked to New York City for lights, in the hope that it was all some big mistake by the electric company - it was - and not something worse.

I remember in the weeks and months that followed, seeing obituary after obituary in our paper with the special logo we'd made for the victims of 9/11. I remember the articles we wrote on two families, very different but united in loss. I remember the start of the war in Afghanistan, sitting reading of families shattered and thinking we couldn't bomb those bastards - as one newspaper called them in 90-point type - enough.

I got a chance to go to the Concert for New York City, and even though I saw Bowie and Clapton and the Who, what I remember most is the people on the floor, police and firefighters and EMTs and families, holding up pictures whenever the cameras swooped by, signs with words like "have you seen...?" and names. It felt so good to cheer, and yet so bad.

I've watched over five years as a nation united in pain, with the sympathy of the world, has become a nation divided again by partisan politics, facing the enmity of so many nations.

I read about more tragedies. Young lives, cut short in Iraq, fighting a war that may be against the wrong enemy, or may not. Another, just the other day. Another son who won't come home.

These days, more tributes, a multiple-of-five anniversary, more stories about those who moved on, those who can't, and those no longer here.

And yet, in so many ways, life goes on. Just another Manic Monday, places to go, people to see, things to do.

I don't want to forget that terrible day. But sometimes, I don't want to remember it, either.

I don't know what else to say, but this:

Let us remember the victims, and their families. The bravest and finest of New York, who did their jobs and gave their lives. The ordinary, extraordinary people, who went to work, got on a plane, one day and didn't come home. And the soldiers who went to war to answer those terrible events. Those who lived, with wounds, with guilt, with memories they can't erase. The families left behind, missing their beloved husbands, wives, fathers, sons, mothers, daughters.

If anything I could say would ease their pain, I would say it. But this will have to do.

God bless you all. God bless America, land that I love.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


About once a quarter, I go on a mega-shopping trip. That's about how often I have enough money left to justify gambling $200 on a "will he eat it or won't he?" attempt to look like a real human being and fill my refrigerator.

My buddy and his (now) four-child family always has the kind of fridge where, if you want something, you've inevitably got to move something over, take something else out, balance something crazily and THEN get what you want.

Me, my usual refrigerator/freezer total is two frozen pizzas, a box of Barber Foods Chicken Cordon Bleu, some salad dressing and maybe a pint of ice cream.

But once in a while, I just throw caution to the wind, grab all my spare change for the coin machine at Stop & Shop, and drop about $200 on everything I can possibly imagine.

Yes, in the end, my freezer is crammed full and the fridge is still half-empty. But I have lots of food.

Now the challenge is to eat it all a) without getting too fat; and b) before it goes bad.

Cold cuts for sandwiches. Milk. Stuff like that. With expiration dates.

I mean, after the nuclear holocaust, there'll be the roaches, viruses and frozen pizzas, but some stuff you don't want to eat after it's gone bad.

Like the aforementioned milk.

But it's nice to have options for snacks, and not have to buy food every single day on my way home from work if I'm hungry.

Plus, I got lots of berries. Munkees like berries. And they freeze, so they'll keep a while.

Of course, loading up on food means a few hiccups.

1. I can't bag groceries. Unlike many of my friends growing up, I never worked at Weis bagging. Yeah, it gave me an edge on my career, working at the paper instead, but on the other hand, whenever I have to bag, it's like watching the proverbial munkee and the proverbial football. This time, though, there was somebody bagging for me, saving me that embarassment.

2. That way, I could just live with the embarassment of my debit card not working. The strip is scuffed, and the last time I called, they wanted to change numbers if I got a new one. This won't work, given that I use that card for things like online orders, so I've just been living with the scuffed card. About two-thirds of the time, it works anyway. The supermarket... it never works. And I couldn't make it work today. So they had to get a manager to punch in the numbers.

3. The upside is, this was the first mega-trip since I got the new SUV. Nice to not have bags in the trunk, bags in the back seat, bags in the passenger seat... everything went in the trunk quite nicely. In fact, I could've used the cargo cover with just a wee bit of rearranging, that's how much fit in the well.

Well, time to take a break from my "goodmunkee" to-do list and enjoy the fine sports night of tennis (U.S. Open women's final, the gorgeous Maria Sharapova - think Anna Kournikova, but she can play - vs. Justine Henin-Hardenne, who may not be as attractive, but certainly has the game) and football (the No. 1 vs. No. 2 college football battle, Ohio State vs. Texas). They're on at the same time, so the "go back" button on my remote will get a lot of use, I'm sure.

And hey, kickoff/first serve were at 8 p.m., I left the house to go shopping at 10 to 7 (when the deli is still open!) and got back in about an hour, so I didn't miss a play.

Well, I had to LISTEN to a few plays while I was unloading and putting away the groceries, but close enough. $200 worth of food would take some people three hours, methinks.

Not bad for somebody who only does this a few times a year.

Stop & Shop
The U.S. Open
Ohio State football
Texas football

Aside, in one of the poorer bits of scheduling, I'll find myself in New York City on Monday (the fifth anniversary of 9/11), covering an indie movie premiere for HorrorTalk. This oughta be a fun trip. Not.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Death becomes her?

The recent underwater death of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin (Don't know who that is? Crikey!) has me pondering one of my favorite psychological issues: Mortality.

Irwin fell victim to one of those rules you pick up reading the kind of nonfiction I do: Water is dangerous.

A guy who wrestles crocodiles for a living gets killed by a stingray. By accident. This happens to almost nobody (unlike, say, those eaten by sharks).

So here's the thing, from my point of view, and I'm talking about life in general here, not the later Mr. Irwin.

I don't really care how I die. I'd like to die old, and in bed, and with a cute young blonde, but that's just a best-case scenario. I wouldn't mind dying a hero. Defending my family, saving a puppy, that sort of thing. There are, after all, decent ways to die.

The thing I really don't want to do is die in a way that makes people laugh at me after I'm gone.

You know the people this happens to. The Darwin Awards winners. The people who accidentally get crushed by the trees they're cutting down. The people who try to cross Interstates, drunk, at night and wearing black. And so forth.

There's one in the news every week. Somebody whose headline makes you laugh in the face of tragedy. ("Man killed by kitten," that sort of thing.) And I'm talking laughing at the victim, not with him. Because, after all, he can't laugh, he's dead.

You know, the late Civil War Maj. Gen. John Sedgwick, whose long and illustrious military career was overshadowed by his last words: "Don't worry, men. They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist..."

And speaking of last words, in the same vein, I don't want mine to be, to quote someone I know who didn't die, "Ow. Fuck."

Monday, September 04, 2006

How I spent my Labor Day weekend

My buddy Ed came down for the weekend and we did what we do best: Sit on our butts and relax.

We watched 11 movies in two and a half days. That's right, 11. And played some video games. And ate bad food. And actually left the house not once, but twice.

The playbill, as it were:

"The Boondock Saints"
"The Hills Have Eyes" (remake)
"Running Scared"
"V for Vendetta"
"Underworld: Evolution"

"Hollywood Homicide"
"Wolf Creek"
"High Tension"
"The Relic"

"Ghosts of Mars"

And the only reason we came up short of a dozen was I had to go to work. Not a bad weekend at all.

Friday, September 01, 2006

By-by-by, by-by!

When I work on my various projects, I've noticed I use a few different names. Perhaps you've noticed, too.

I was thinking about it, and for those wondering, here's the deal:

My journalistic byline is just my first and last name. I use that for all nonfiction/journalism pieces, including my freelance work.

But my freelance work often has nicknames, because most of it is Web-based, either for HorrorTalk (where I'm "The Hitman") or (where I'm "Ace," like here, short for "AceRimRat"), and those sites both sort of started out as forums with anonymous pseudonyms.

In fact, I still use my Hitman nickname on HorrorTalk without my name, but that's going to change with my next review, because everyone else is switching, or so it seems.

And then, for "Dead Hunt," I used my full name for the credits, first-middle-last. Why, I was asked?

Well, to differentiate my fiction-type work from my journalism-type work, really.

(The joke: The two Asian guys involved both use their full names, and not a one of them is an Asian name... Six names, nothing Asian whatsoever.)

But I digress. Point is, I like the idea of sort of separating the two.

The reason I bring it up - well, the reason I bring it up is because it was sort of on my mind, and the reason it's sort of on my mind is I'm working on a pair of other projects, and I was thinking about what to put on them.

One is a short fiction piece I'm submitting to a magazine. That was easy - full name, since it's my fiction work.

The other is a longer, freelance nonfiction project I'm discussing with a company. (No details to go into yet, it's still just a discussion.) I found myself wondering if I should use my journalistic byline or my non-journalistic byline. On one hand, it's a nonfiction piece, that leans me toward my journalism byline. But it's completely unlike anything I've done before, more or less - it's not a newspaper thing, or a magzine thing, or a Web journalism thing. And that leans me toward my more, um, "exotic" byline (if that's the right word).

Funny thing is, I don't use my middle name for anything. I use my middle initial on things like checks and credit cards, but I hardly ever use my middle name. I don't even much like it, though it's not that bad, and I do enjoy being named for my great-grandfather(s).

At least I have one, though. Neither of my parents does, which is probably why they gave me one.