Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SCREWS!



I had these screws put into my left ankle in 2007 - today, I had them removed! The long one is 1.75" and the small is 1 3/8". It's going to be hard facing the fact I am that much less bionic now. Let's just hope the rest of the 'gear' in my leg stays put.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Westside rentals sucks


Westside Rentals is a gigantic apartment/landlord/tenant connector for the greater Los Angeles area. Basically, it's the craigslist housing section with an added cost. It's been over a year since I lost all hope in their service and can only wonder if things have improved.

In 2008 I needed to move, so I decided to pay for a membership - after all, Westside Rentals's network is huge. You can't go anywhere in LA without seeing a "FOR RENT" sign by WSR. What I soon found after joining was that, much like Craigslist, WSR has listings that lack information, photos, and reliable landlords to assist you. I swiftly asked for my money back:

Westside Rentals,

My girlfriend and I recently purchased a dual membership to find a new apartment. Over the past two weeks, we have become frustrated and extremely disappointed in your service and are asking for a full refund.

Our complaints with your service vary from website detail to landlord communication. The fact there are listings without both meaningful written descriptions and a single photo is a waste of time to consider. Most of the photos on your website are of poor quality in resolution, composition, and quantity. We have contacted many listings on your website and were extremely disappointed in their poor return rate; many phone calls, voicemails, and emails were never returned. One landlord emailed me back a week after my inquiry of a phone message and email, telling me that their unit was "JUST leased." Another landlord I contacted and scheduled a viewing of their unit cancelled on me twice: both 1 hour before our scheduled meeting. Needless to say, I couldn't afford to schedule a third meeting.

One of the listings we visited to see was distorted greatly in their listing. Not only did it clearly state that it was the second floor (when it was the first floor) – the pictures online were not of the unit available for rent. We are asking for a refund for the full amount that we paid for our membership. Not only did we fail in finding an apartment through Westside rentals, we also endured stress and loss of time and money trying to manage our search using your service.

Refund our payment and cancel our account immediately.

Soon after, we were refunded HALF of our payment. No letter or explanation. Half? I had to waste more time to find out that they refunded only half because I used the service and therefore, should have to pay for it. I was pissed so I posted a review on YELP, not that this was the solution, but just a side note before making calls and more faxes:

If I could give WEST SIDE RENTALS a negative rating, I would. They are terrible and a waste of time. I could write a short novel here, but I'll try and keep it short and simple: poor pictures (if any), poor descriptions, faulty descriptions (I went on scout and the places I saw were grossly incorrect from their listing), poor communication from the landlords who posted listings (would never call back, or call back a week later), over priced listings, lacking search criteria. DO NOT waste your time with this place.

I bought a dual account for $70 and got nowhere after 2 weeks, wasting much of my time and energy trying to find a place with them. After everything went wrong, I demanded a refund and it was nearly impossible to get a hold of anyone to do so. After 4 weeks of struggle, they gave me $35 back from my $70 stating that since I didn't complain earlier, I will not be getting the full refund.
Craigslist is much better. Of course, craigs is the best and worst of both worlds, but it is free and for the most part, has more information and any landlord who knows what he/she is doing will create a good listing.

DO NO DEAL WITH WEST SIDE RENTALS!


This was interesting because it sparked the interest of the refund manager at WSR. He called both me and my girlfriend asking about this "David G" review on yelp. After several calls and pointless conversations, he agreed to refund us the rest of our payment back. What a mess.

Friday, October 9, 2009

5 Things I Should Not have Eaten


Mystery Sphere Pastry
When I was very young I ate a donut hole type pastry that contained nuts. I was a picky eater and thankfully those times have passed (I virtually eat anything now that I don't object morally to), but back in the day in my youth, I hated many things from tastes, to consistencies, to just downright textures. What I remember from this night was my parents having a get together at our house. My brother and I were banished to the second floor to take care of ourselves and keep quite during these events, and for some reason I came strolling down the stairs to see what my parents were up to. A crowd gathered in the dining room and a long table held bowls and bowls of desserts. And boy, did they look good. I grabbed a sugary sphere and ate it. And that is what my memory kept from the night. To what my parents tell me is that they stupidly told me to try the pastry, knowing it has nuts and "wierd" things in it. I took a bite and threw up. I was probably 4. Not my fault.

Gefilte Fish
When I was in high school I joined a BBYO Jewish Youth Group Chapter. (Bereshis - the same chapter that Gene Wilder belonged to in his youth in Milwaukee). Anyways - we had a dinner at a Rabbi's house. There were 8 of us, I'd say, along with our advisers. It was going well and we were brought our first dish. It looked delicious! A piece of toasted bread with yummy salsa/tomato sauce atop. MMMMmmmmm. It looked good. It sat on our plates, staring at us. Knowing very little about Jewish customs or anything Jewish in general, I waited for the others at the table to act first, seeing how they were brought up as actual Jews, not a secular Jew like I did. It was time to eat the bread! I cut a large piece with my fork and took a big bite. INSTANTLY I knew something was wrong. Something... awful. Something... terrible. I was gagging and hid it as far as I could. It was the most repulsive thing I could ever imagine - and to think i shoved a large fork-full into my mouth and swallowed a little bit. I was already thinking how lucky I was that I didn't throw up everywhere. I looked over at my friend Andy, whose plate was untouched. He looked at me and smiled. What the FUCK did I just eat? "Hmmmm if anyone doesn't want their fish I'll have it," I heard one of my chapter members say. My GOD! Fish!? BREAD!? The the hell was I thinking? If i have to cut a piece of bread with a FORK - why would I continue to think it was bread. I tried another small swallow. No dice. I gagged again. This was a no go. I had to spit this out. And spit it out I did. Into my cloth dinner napkin. The taste was still in my mouth for quite some time. So disgusting. When the meal was over, I had to unwrap my napkin carefully to make it seem like I wasn't wrapping disgusting food in it for the Rabbi's wig-wearing wife, who did all the cooking and cleaning. (Why?). Wow. What a lesson I learned that night. First, don't be so stupid to eat something you obviously are too stupid to know what it is and two - be careful when you stuff your mouth with unknown objects.

Laffy Taffy (the whole thing)
Laffy taffy was first introduced in the 70s, but they sort of re-branded in the late 80s and I seized the day! My family was on vacation in the Colorado rockies and thankfully, since we were doing a lot of site seeing, my parents tended to give in to my requests to shut me up while we did "boring" things. (Yes, I appreciate them now. Very much). One of these requests was a super-large bar of laffy taffy. My God is was delicious. I remember to this day. I sucked on that thing for hours, or so it seemed. Eventually, I started to feel a little sick. Crazy, right? Maybe I shouldn't have been eating sugar for so many hours on end. (Maybe another fault of the parental units?) We reached our destination in our rented jeep and took a hike to explore the lay of the land. I really wasn't feeling well. And that's when it happened. I threw up. Threw up within 50 feet of the continental divide. Very poetic, I must say.

Tootsie Roll
My mother is allergic to everything under the sun. Thankfully, I received my Dad's genes where the only flaw is migraine headaches. When I was younger though, the Docs thought I was allergic to things too. Therefore, I was allergic to milk. I can't believe it this to this day. If I had a milk-less childhood, I might me in a crazy-ward right now. I grew up eating mac and cheese. It made me who I am. I don't remember if it was a post-Halloween or what reason I had some candy, but I wanted to eat a Tootsie roll - something I was not familiar with. It looked really good. I was probably 5 or 6 at the time and my Dad read me the ingredients and let me know it had dairy in it. "No, I'm sorry you can't eat this." I was pissed. CANDY!? I CANT EAT THIS!? He left, I picked it up and quickly ate it. It was good.

Natural Spring Water
Back in the Colorado Rockies, this time in Steamboat, Colorado, I was on a spring break skiing trip in high school. It was with a ski group called SnowStar and my friend and I took this trip with the group, straying in a condo-hotel with a few other kids and an instructor. This instructor came back one day with bottles of self-filled water. He was so fascinated with the water, as he told us. Natural Spring water with all sorts of nutrients. I don't remember really, I probably never paid attention in the first place. He told us to try it. We each grabbed a bottle and opened it up. ASS. It smelled bad. Sulfer, ass, you name it - it didn't matter, it was bad. He assured us it wassn't as bad as it smelled and it was a must try - the locals drink it and it was good for your bones and health. I took a sip. Just about as horrible as the smell. He had a good laugh.

Calzones

I finally made Calzones. Not that it was a lifelong goal, but it has been on my mind to make for a few months now ever since I finally made deep dish pizza from scratch. Using a cook's illustrated cookbook, I did quite a good job for my first time. More or less, it's all in the wrapping, which only looked better and better with each calzone (too bad I didn't have enough to make 100). All in all, it was a great success and left very little to improve for my next calzone adventure, aside from the fact using a pizza stone was in the instructions and I merely used a cookie sheet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Kaffir Tree Timeline (part 3)

A few more weeks have passed and I decided it was time that the unhatched 9 or so kaffir seeds were a lost cause. Worry not, I still managed to sprout 2 and by all means, that's better than 1 or even 0. I transplanted the trees into larger pots with fertilizer in hopes they can now grow like wildfire despite the cold season approaching. And when I mean cold season, I mean slightly chilly weather with the sun shining down starting at 11AM. After all, this is Los Angeles.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Top 5 Time Travel Movies

There are many options to choose from and to make such a vast selection into a top 5 is somewhat limited. Then again, creating a top 10 list for a very specific, limited genre would be not be limited enough. How many films feature time travel vs. the number of books that exist? Not as many as there should, which is why a top 5 list was created.


12 Monkeys
Insanity, without giving anything away, is a great realism into time travel. It's safe to say no one knows of anyone who has traveled through time, so if you were lucky enough to meet someone who did, you would probably believe him or her to be insane. And should you travel through time, you, I hope, would have the common sense to doubt reality and your own mental stability. 12 Monkeys was adapted from an artistic, well executed short film featuring only still photos and voice over. It presents an isolated world, reliving the same moment (memory or the future?) again and again. 12 Monkeys is one of the few films that took a simple idea, expanded it, and kept it thrilling while adding countless engaging plot twists and themes.


Groundhog Day
There are not nearly enough comedic science fiction films, not to mention ones dealing with time travel. Groundhog day is a brilliant mix of comedy, slapstick (without stretching too far from reality), and drama. When a man relives the same day over and over, there are bound to be comedic and dramatic aspects to his life; Groundhog Day catches them. Capitalizing on Bill Murray's cynical humor and distaste for ignorance and most human interaction, it is somewhat of a modern Scrooge tale, thrown into the far end of the universe. Sometimes, the best stories and characters are unleashed only when you introduce them into extreme environments of comedy and drama alike. Harold Ramis went on to complete his quirky sci-fi triology with Multi-plicity and Bedazzled, but they fell somewhat short of memorable films, despite how ever amazing Michael Keaton is.


Planet of the Apes (1968)
This film encompasses so many science fiction themes and all of which are done magnificently. Time travel beginning, exploration of a foreign environment and culture clash/theory middle, and a social commentary ending. Not to mention that the novel was weak and bland and Rod Serling turned it into an epic. It's a damn shame this original was torn apart by the sequels. Do not, I repeat, do not satisfy your curiosity and watch any - it will leave a bad taste in your mouth far worse than not having seen them. Not only are the films full of cliches and poor writing, but the "science fiction" in them is weak and only contradicts all aspects of the original. It's a sad, sad saga.


Terminator 1 & 2
I am grouping these two films together. While they are completely different films altogether and I find the second to be a superior, is it less engaged in the element of time travel than the first. Both are excellent films and unleashed a new fear for what the future has in store for us. Unlike many time travel films, The Terminator is a horrific realization that we are the problem to someone else's reality (vs. us traveling to someone else's time with something to fix). There are far few films and stories involving the "innocent" being visited for someone else's gain; we are merely stuck time after time following the time traveler and treating their world as the present.

The Time Machine (1960)
It's hard to ignore this original, classic gem. Traveling through time, horrified with the future until finding a peaceful land of mindless sheep (actually people). You can't sum up the human experience much more than that. (Oh, and there's conflict too).


Honorable Mentions
Back to the Future & Back to the Future II
Star Trek 4
Time Crimes

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Scanners and the Netflix Spoiler


I recently watched David Cronnenberg's SCANNERS for the first time via Netflix. I didn't know that much about it but was excited to see it regardless. To my surprise, the movie description on the dvd pocket gave away a major spoiler that takes place in the last 10 minutes! Seriously? I won't go into detail to what this spoiler is, but it's one of those THINGS that shouldn't be readily available since it is a reveal/surprise to the main character (more or less the audience). It wasn't as bad as revealing the catch of The Sixth Sense per say, but somewhere along the line of saying Darth Vader being Luke Skywalkers father before watching episode 6. It didn't ruin the movie, but I certainly put it all together well before it was intended.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not Knowing


I watched the Nic Cage movie KNOWING last night. I was really, really excited to see it too, knowing (he, he) that it was supposed to be bad. But sometimes, bad movies are great. Bad comedies can be hilarious. Bad Horror films can be... hilarious. Bad sci-fi? It really depends. A bad sci-fi can either be horrific and embarrassing to watch or downright entertaining. When it comes to crazy scenarios, the basic 2 sentence catch of a sci-fi film can be enough to make it entertaning, wrapping an alternate environment blanket around our brains for a couple hours.

On top of all that, I've been sadly following this movie for many years. Back in the day when I first saw Donnie Darko, I was hooked on it. Got the DVD and watched it many times until I soon realized it was just an art student's wet dream and it had all the ingredients to cater to such a person (I was in art school at the time, still developing my artistic and film sense). Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie, but too many people along with myself took the interest too far. After years of having not seen the movie, I rented the director's cut. It was terrible. Absolutely, a horrific, terrible movie. I know my taste and intelligence in film evolved in the last seven years, but this was ridiculous. Turns out, it wasn't my taste - it WAS the cut of the movie. Everyone who has expressed their interest in the film hates the director's cut. For me, it made the movie boring and lost it's sense of believability, making it an embarrassment to watch.

Back to Knowing. So in my Donnie Darko hayday, I read that the director (Richard Kelly - the filmmaker, not the kiddie porno guy), was making a film: "a time capsule is discovered with numbers and dates. The numbers and dates list worldwide catastrophies and the specific fatalities. Some of the dates haven't happened yet." Wow - that sets the line for a very entertaining movie - regardless how good or bad it may be. And if Mr. Kelly is making it, it's GOT to be worthwhile.

Turns out Mr. Kelly did not make the movie and it was eventually put together by other people. When it hit the theaters, I was excited to see it, but with the extreme panning by critics, I decided to wait for video.

So with everything invested in the movie, along with my low expectations for it being good, my excitment level was high. How did it do? Quite poor. Worth watching? Sadly, no. Why? Well, my main complaint, which is 100% valid, is that the movie HAS NO PURPOSE. What does this mean? The last 10 minutes of the movie had no relevance. The first 90% of the movie tells the tale of Nic and his number sheet, trying to figure it out, then in the last 10 minutes, something else happens that has no bearing at all toward Nic Cage or anything. We could have watched EMPIRE for 8 hours and spliced the last 10 minutes of Knowing to the end - and it would be as logical of a movie. It's like if you watched a Law and Order episode and after 55 minutes of interrogations and adventure, some random dude who we haven't seen yet and has no connections to anything in the episode, walks into the police station and admits to the murder. His DNA matches and he is definately the guy. Seriously? What the hell is this movie supposed to be about!?

I could spout the many inconsistencies and poor filmmaking decisions about KNOWING but I'll hold off - this was supposed to be entertaining and not an epic, so all silly moments and numerous cliches can be described elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

WTF LA METRO


After living in downtown Chicago for four years (2000-2004) I became spoiled with cheap, accessible, reliable public transportation. In fact, I upheld the Chicago mentality of lamenting the idea of taking a bus vs. a subway seeing it went everywhere and any place that requires a bus was 'too far.'

Then I moved to Los Angeles in 2006. Unbelievable. This system is not only completely underdeveloped, but the organization and simplicities that should be a given are absent.


1 - METRO PASS
You are not able to buy a rechargeable Metro pass. What is this? Say you buy a pass to go on the subway. You put $10 on it, use it a few times over a month, then, when it is about to run out, you put another $10 on it. Maybe $20 so it lasts longer. Makes sense, right? WRONG! The only pass you can buy is an exact change 1-fare pass or an unlimited weekly or monthly pass (and no free transfers anywhere). A monthly pass for $62 is your amazing alternative. You used to be able to buy an all-day pass for $5 on the buses, but they stopped it, requiring you buy a Metro card online, have it shipped to you, then buy the one day pass in advance online to put on your card. What a crock and waste of everyone's time and money. When I took the bus to work, I was paying approximately $40 a month. I was sick and tried of keeping in line quarters and single dollars at a constant rate. My only other option? Buy a monthly pass for $62! And the funny thing is, they market this card as a rechargeable card, which is a complete lie. Rechargeable just like your 2-year cell phone contract recharges every month - the same price at the same rate no matter what. YOU ARE STUCK AND HAVE NO OPTIONS. Great going.

2 - BEVERLY HILLS
The LA subway system is nice and cute. It's about 1/4 the size it needs to be (and 1/6 the size it should be) and barely covers the 'proper' LA that I like to refer to it as. If you live or work in North Hollywood, Hollywood, or downtown, then this system is for you! If you live anywhere near the ocean, westwood, mid-wilshire, or anywhere else in the valley, you have to rely on a bus. If you know anything about LA, the reason you want to take public transportation is to escape the roads of fucking gridlock and it taking 2 hours to travel 8 miles. Why do you want to get on a bus! (yes there are a couple EXPRESS bus roads that are only for buses, so it's not 100% terrible).

I realize that public transportation isn't a profit system - it's hard to make a profit on something like this - but what we have here is ridiculous. And what makes matters worse is Beverly Hills. Back in the day, or the last 50 years, Beverly Hills has made it difficult for the advancing city of Los Angeles to develop. Sure, they have lots of money and want to keep their reclusive, grassy and spacey (yet still righteous and above all) feeling and attitude, but it's a little beyond ridiculous. Beverly Hills stands directly between Hollywood (major area for the subway) and the ocean and Santa Monica. They have blocked permits and requests to dig under and create a better Subway. WTF! They are also going ape shit with parking, wanting more and more streets to be permit only. You can have one, but not both! Live up to living in a major city or move to Carbondale, IL.

3 - THE INTERNET
You think that a system as important as public transportation would have a top-notch website. WRONG! Since there are few options for taking the subway, most likely you will be taking a bus (to only sit in awful LA traffic).

I can't believe this site, it's so GOD AWFUL. The maps suck. If you think mapquest is a nuisance instead of google maps, you should try this place. Remember way back when and you visited first webpages? How awesome it was? All GIF filled crappy layouts with rainbow MS Word 3D text? That's the Metro's MAP system. My God, it could only be worse if you asked a 5 year old to duplicate a map with grey crayons and give you directions.

And to make matters worse, there is Trip Planner. This is terrible. Just an example of looking for a ride today: I type in centenella and pico to my apartment and it gives me 4 options, all of which are about the same: take 2 buses, transferring in century city. The FUNNY thing is, if i put in centenella and pico to pico and la brea (which is two blocks from my apartment) it says take 1 rapid (express) bus. WTF is this? It's an 8 mile ride and if I enter in specific addresses, it tells me to take 2 slow buses, transferring in the middle of the 8 miles, otherwise I can take one FAST bus if my end destination is 2 blocks different? So to know what my best option is, I need to put in several permutations! (Of which, I don't know which ones will generate further options).
And this isn't the only option. I've been screwed over by the trip planner before. I was traveling from mid-wilshire to west Pasadena and had a connection downtown. It told me to get off an a specific intersection and pick up a specific bus at that very same intersection. Did the bus I needed to get on stop there? NOPE! Luckily I asked a driver of a different bus (who was not familiar with the bus I was catching) and he was overly nice and gave me a ride about half a mile north to where I needed to be. WTF! On the good note, all Metro personnel (drivers) have always been super nice to say the least - these guys deal with a lot of crap all day long from crazy people to angry jerks, so being nice and them being able to accomplish something positive goes a long way. Lastly was an incident last week, traveling from Mid-wilshire to Santa Monica. It was a pretty simple trip - walk to wilshire and take a bus to Santa monica. The trip planner told me to take either one slow bus, or one Rapid (express) bus. I walked to wilshire and decided to take whatever bus came first, knowing the waiting time would equal out the slowness of the ride should I get on the regular bus, which is what I did. And what happened? The bus took me to Westwood and I was told it was the last stop! (not what the internet said). Luckily again, the driver was very nice and gave me a free transfer for the rapid, but it did mean waiting 15 minutes for the new bus to arrive and continue down Wilshire.

I now am completely skeptical of the trip planner. What can I trust with reliable times and location? And furthermore, how do I know that the bus they are telling me to take is the best option?

4 - THE FUTURE
I love following advancements and improvements. I need to create a website or business based on the fact people will want to track the progress of businesses, cities, buildings, construction, etc. So needless to say, I am always interested in the development of LA's Metro. They even have their own website talking about the next 20 years! Exciting, right? WRONG. To be fair, this section of the site isn't that bad, but it is lacking great strides. This is the site to get the youth and those who don't take public transpo in LA interested! But they don't. It's just links with text and a lot of boring details. Interactive forums? Nope. Awesome artistic renderings of things to come? Nope. Current, up to date info? Nope. Hell - I got more out of the wikipedia page than the metro page when it comes to progress and the future. Seriously - who markets this?

---

I am a strong believer in public transportation and am GODLY SHOCKED at the amount of people in Los Angeles who not only don't use it, but have NEVER used it. When I first moved here, I was told by several people to NOT TO USE IT because it is dirty, gross, and unsafe. From my experiences, it's cleaner than Chicago, fewer crazies than Chicago, and safe? I never had an incident in Chicago. So far, nothing in LA either. Both good things. I've heard horror stories about public transpo in both cities, which is scary and somewhat expected, not to say a good thing. Either way, I hope Metro gets their act together and capitalizes on making their system easier and more accessible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Time Crimes and Hot Tubs


I recently watched the Spanish Film TIME CRIMES, which was excellent. Not only a mixture of many time traveling theories, but a brilliant suggestion for a future Halloween costume. Make sure you don't read into it before watching, it's best if you have as few spoilers as possible. It's about an insane adventure a man partakes after accidentally traveling through time. How does he do this? And I am not giving anything away by saying this, but by stepping into a large vat of water, nothing less than a high-tech hot tub.

This brings me to an interesting discovery this week of a film trailer for Hot Tub Time Machine - a slapstick comedy about a group of men who seem to have traveled back in time by taking a dip in their Hot Tub. Connection? Probably not, but these two films do share a unique method of time travel.

As we are used to speeding cars and spaceships, it is often more fun to use a non-conventional mechanism: a vat of water with little explanation. This creates a gap theory and allows us to just accept it rather then have a fake theory thrown down our throats to try and believe. After all, the method just gets us to where we want to be, right?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top 5 Vocabulary Words I Learned from The Simpsons


I have seasons 2-12 of The Simpsons memorized backward and forward. Skipping the debate on when they jumped the shark, the show still puts out great episodes, but these are the seasons I grew up with and watched countless times from my homemade collection of VHS tapes. (I want to say I was on 30-something when season 1 came out on DVD). It was a difficult decision and many cuts were made; the final decision was based on the strongest examples of words that because of the simpsons, are engraved in my head. There are vast (and I mean vast) examples from the show, but these had the biggest impact.

(in alphabetical order)

Concoct
The Brother from Another Series, February, 1997
1 - To prepare by mixing ingredients, as in cooking.
2 - To devise, using skill and intelligence; contrive

Sideshow Bob and his brother, Cecil, are arrested and thrown into a police car. It drives off and police chief Wiggum stands in the road and ponders, "There they go, two criminal geniuses locked away together. Who knows what diabolical schemes they might concoct."

Integrity
Bart's Girlfriend, November 1994
1 - A sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition
2 - The state of being whole, entire, or undiminished

Bart is trying to impress a girl who turns out to be bad - she dares him to ride his skateboard down a steep road. During his initial descent, Bart gains speed and struggles to keep his balance. "Actually," notes Bart, "if the road surface maintains its integrity, I just might be able to hold on --"

Lamentably
Bart's Friend falls in Love, May 1992
1 - Regrettably
2 - In an unfortunate or deplorable manner

Marge buys homer a weight loss tape he can can listen to while he sleeps. Unbeknown to her, he was sent a 'build your vocabulary' instead:

Homer is nestled in bed, a set of headphones on his head. He reminisces on the things he and his stomach have done together before going to sleep. The tape begins. ``Hello, this is Dr. Marvin Monroe. Let's build your vocabulary. A -- Abattoir. Slaughterhouse. The cow was slaughtered in the abattoir.''

The next morning, Homer eats several handfuls of bacon.

Marge: Homer, has the weight loss tape reduced your appetite?
Homer: Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satieties.

Rhetorical
Mother Simpson, November 1995
1 - The art of using language, especially public speaking, as a means to persuade
2 - Meaningless language with an exaggerated style intended to impress

Homer's mother is singing with Lisa and Homer in company:

Grandma: [singing] How many roads must a man walk down before you can call him a man?
Homer: Seven!
Lisa: No, Dad, it's a rhetorical question.
Homer: Rhetorical, eh? Eight!
Lisa: Dad, do you even know what "rhetorical" means?
Homer: [incredulous] Do I know what "rhetorical" means?!

Specious
Much Apu About Nothing - May, 1996
1 - Having deceptive attraction or allure
2 - Having a false look of truth or genuineness

A harmless bear walks into Springfield, resulting in the implementation of the bear patrol.

Homer: Not a bear in sight. The Bear Patrol must be working like a charm.
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: Thank you, honey.
Lisa: By your logic I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away.
Homer: Oh, how does it work?
Lisa: It doesn't work.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: It's just a stupid rock.
Homer: Uh-huh.
Lisa: But I don't see any tigers around, do you?
[Homer thinks of this, then pulls out some money]
Homer: Lisa, I want to buy your rock.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Kaffir Tree Timeline (part 2)

It's been a few weeks and to my surprise, a second tree has sprouted, making the sprouting rate (holding off on calling it a success rate thus far) to about 16% from the 12 seeds I received in an envelope from Malaysia that I purchased on ebay. The original tree is growing well and so far so good!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Compact


Living in Los Angeles opens a lifestyle that no one should ever have to deal with - Parking and Traffic nightmares from beyond the grave. Anytime we drive anywhere in this city, Los Angelians are forced to map out the best route to our destination based on time of day and the current freeway reports on sigalert. Then we need to figure out how much additional time to give for unexpected traffic and then the final additional of time to compensate for the nightmare of finding a parking spot.

What erks me more than anything is the large number of parking garages in this city with an overweling number of side by side 'compact' parking spots. I do love that LA has a higher percentage of drivers with hybrids and smaller cards compared to other cities, but many people don't (after all, it is a big city). These garages have lines of compact parking spaces sitting side by side. There is no excuse for this as it only encourages large cars to park in any open spot, especially when there are 20 compact spaces next to each other. What kind of person is going to skip the open spots and waste an additional 20 minutes looking for a legit space to park? Of course these SUV and Truck people should know not to park there and by doing so they occupy two parking spaces and screw the up the system. But the larger picture is that this is the problem of the parking garage.

There should never be more than 3 compact spaces in a row. It's a nice feeling that they are most likely doing this to reward the compact driver, but it doesn't help. Either eliminate the overkill of the compact spaces, which in turn will create more parking spaces, or make a point to punish those who abuse the system.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Kaffir Lime Timeline (part 1)


My interest in gardening has been steadily growing since I moved to Los Angeles and realized I could grow virtually any kind of plant. The basics don't interest me; I do have tomato and pepper plants, but and I gravitate toward the exotic - mainly things that I can eat and can't buy at the store.

I recently purchased a 2 year old Australian Finger Lime tree online, which was shipped to me in a box, and a dwarf Rangpur Lime tree. The last of the lime species that interests me is the Kaffir lime, which I had trouble finding. I also didn't have interest in continuing to buy 2-3 year old trees that have been cut and 'butchered' to maintain a small size for easy shipping. I'd rather grow it myself. The hunt for Kaffir seeds proved exceedingly difficult and I decided to gamble and buy seeds off ebay from a seller in Malaysia. Would they arrive to me? 65% chance. Would they grow if they arrived? Well, considering I would be getting 15 seeds, I'd hope at least one would. Overall 25% chance. Worth $7? Yes.

Two weeks after planting the Kaffir seeds, I had my first success - a single sprout of a Kaffir Lime tree. Will others follow? I hope so. If not, all I have to do make sure I don't screw this up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Heirloom Tomato


It occurred to me that instead of buying seeds to grow, I could just buy the fruit/veggie itself and take out the seeds. Not only would this be cheaper and quicker, it would also allow me to enjoy the purchased edible. Tomatoes are quite easy to grow and after having grown a few plants, I decided to buy some heirlooms tomatoes and plant the seeds to see what happens. I didn't know the proper method to do so, but I suppose I did it just right (or there isn't a precise method - put the seeds in dirt). I cleaned the seeds off and planted them in small containers. Days later they sprouted and a few days after that I planted them in larger pots and a couple went in the "farm" out back. Yesterday I picked my first of many to come. Very exciting stuff.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

David 3, Black Widows 0


"That's a neat looking spider," I thought to myself one afternoon while putting my bike away in the garage behind my apartment. I then saw this spider again and again over the next couple days. I didn't think much of it until I saw a very unique red mark on it's belly. "I really should look this up."

My first guess was a Black Widow - mainly because it was freakishly unique and very threatening looking. Google image search "Black Widow." Yup, sure enough. The next day I did my research on how serious of an issue this was. It wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. The bite may not be felt and the result of one would definitely be noticeable, which has an extremely low chance of killing you even if you never sought medical attention (but you'd be crazy not to). That and they lay 200 eggs at a time. Interesting. Yes, I should probably kill this.

Later that day as I put my bike away, my little friend dangled for me on the garage door. Didn't really move much - it just sat there. I grabbed a dust pan on the floor and raised it above my head. My heart started to pound inside my ears. My friend continued to dangle. BANG! Got him. BANG! Insurance.

Well that was over - until his friend seeks revenge (or the 200+ eggs hatch). A few weeks later I noticed a black spider hiding within a cinder block that one of my plants sits atop for a better sun vantage point. I moved the pot and sure enough, there were two Black Widows in the crevasses of the brick. What to do now. After a quick trip to OSH I came back with a can of spider spray and spider traps (and a Rangpur Lime tree, although totally unrelated) and took care of the situation. Two traps were placed inside the garage to await their fate and the two Black Widows were laced with chemicals. Inside their crevasses were a small collection of bugs and what appeared to be a third, dead Black Widow.

I may be in store for a Black Widow surprise someday, as I'm sure their little community of evil is surely out to get me. I suppose there are worse things to naturally have living around my apartment. There are a lot of animals I'm thankful I don't live near (and hopefully won't come in contact with).

Friday, July 3, 2009

2 Movie Wishes

As a movie buff, there has been two wishes I would love to come true. This reaches into the magical or fantastic so it obviously can't happen. But what if it could.

1 - There are certain movies that I love. As much as I love to re-watch them, I would love to be able to watch them for the first time, so be able to watch it with no knowledge of it's artist merit or narrative. To somehow wash my mind blank of any concept of the film and to experience with a fresh train of thought.

2 - Films are often not made as they intended. This can make the film either better or worse. I wish I could watch an alternative version of the film - be it with different actors, locations, budgets depending on what was originally saught. Imagine watching Tim Burton's Spiderman or Kubrick's Holocaust epic. Or The Shawshank Redemption with Kevin Costner, or to watch The Fountain with both Brad Pitt and an $80 million budget. Every time I hear that an actor had to pull our or they were intending something else to happen, I can only wonder what the film would have ended up like.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Lemmings needs a Revolution

My favorite game hands down is Lemmings. It is a strategy game and has a multiplayer mode that is equally challenging with different twists. When the sequel was released (Oh No) and a brand new array of options in Lemmings 2, I was hooked for life.

Unfortunately, these games came out before popular gaming was widespread. I had my games on an Amiga 500, if any of you remember those. Commodore had the exclusive rights to the game until it was slowly developed for DOS and then to Windows. So when the iMac came out and Windows 95, the life of this game went the way of the Bulldog Rat (or Dodo, if you will).

When the new round of Lemmings games appeared I was ecstatic; until I played some of them. Lemmings 3D, Lemmings Revolution and Lemmings Paintball fell short of anything I wanted to play a second time. When the PSP came out, a new (normal) Lemmings game was released. But I was not tempted successfully to buy a game system for one game. Why exclusively for the PSP? By then computer games were hot and the current generation of game consoles were hotter than ever.

Then the Wii proved that the demand for simplistic styled games is high. Why not resurrect Lemmings for the Wii (if not for the Mac)? Why is this amazing franchise sitting in the dark when they can re-release the classic games as Wii-Ware and develop new games? Release the old games for Windows and Mac and release it as download only! How much money would that cost? As much as I would love to see the originals back in action on current gaming systems, I would love to see new classic-style Lemmings games, but so far, there is no word on this happening.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Waterboarding - The New Fad

I had a water board when I was 10. It was the new hip thing all kids were getting into. Soon after, Nerf came out with the "Nerf Water Board," which threw the craze over the edge. Everyone wanted to water board and especially, water board other people. No wonder now that it is affiliated with torture, everyone thinks back to the good ol' days to Nerf and find this notion ridiculous. Shouldn't we? How can you blame us. It sounds like SO MUCH FUN!

I don't understand those in the power to influence others who speak out against things they have no experience or knowledge of. I'm talking about those with the mentality that feeds off fear and control of the masses (and always being right no matter what). The best example of a modern scrooge waterboarding story involves the dumbass DJ Mancow. I listened to him from time to time on my way to highschool in the late 90's and aside from him having an interesting personality, his morality and judgment on the world was wack. I quickly lost interest and stopped listening to this jerk.

And to my surprise, he finally MANNED up and took a challenege. After proclaiming that waterboarding is NOT torture, he agreed to be waterboarded. And what was the result? He lasted 6 seconds and claims that it is definitely torture. Surprise?

“It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that’s no joke,” Mancow said. “It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back… It was instantaneous… and I don’t want to say this: absolutely torture.” (Watch here)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Crazy Horse Invincible and Spaceman Africa

I am a frequent FARK visitor and over the years, few great stories have been burned permanently into my brain. One of these stories is the tale of Crazy Horse Invincible and Spaceman Africa. I don't know if this is the original post, but it's all you need to know. Read all about it from ABC News Australia.

Friday, May 8, 2009

LOST Babies - Relations

My fifth Los Babies Episode. My determination is still here but my quick stride is slowing down, as I am no longer interested in spending 2 weeks straight to complete new episodes. #6 has begun and will be finished in a week or two. Get ready to re-visit the island!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Lame Torpedo


It's been a funny year.  Subway started selling a selection of their foot-long subs for $5 each so Quiznos began selling a few of their grinders for $5.  Now, Subway is selling all foot-longs for $5. Hard to top that.  And then something interesting happened: Quiznos created a new sub - a seemingly foot-long for only $4.  

This piqued my interest.  Seeing I had a coupon for these new torpedos, I jumped at the chance to try this $4 sub for a mere $2, and sadly, it wasn't worth it.  There were 5 choices and I decided to try the pesto turkey.  They took out a skinny sub bun which was probably 8 inches long,  cut it in half, squirted some pesto goo on one side, a oily vinegar on the other, a dismal amount of turkey (which they measured to make sure it was a pathetic weight) and a few slices of cheese.  From there, it was sent through the toasting machine.  Once toasted, a few tiny pieces of tomato were placed on the sub along with unappealing pieces of lettuce.  And BAMN!  It was a completed sandwich.  How lame, boring, and unoriginal.  And the taste?  Seeing how there was very little on this sub to command a flavor, it was pretty plane.  And with the oil goop on it, it did very little to please my taste buds or health conscious mentality. Not worth the $4 as cheap as it is.  Goto Subway for a $5 sub or Chiptole for a massive $6 burrito.

Looking for something new and not more of the old?  Or maybe just something as good as, if not better, than subway and 10x better than Quiznos?  Don't fall for their antics, go to Cousins.

Monday, March 16, 2009

LOST Babies


I was a late bloomer on the LOST train. That is the ABC show, of course. In fact, when it first came out, I thought it was a reality show with some sort of science-fiction twist. After finding out that it was in fact a real TV program, I became interested and soon enough, hooked.

There are some great  story telling concepts in LOST. The science fiction doesn't really become full-blown until season 5, so there is no reason to avoid it in fear of a nerd-fest. An aspect that I appreciate is the use of flashbacks to give character (knowledge of history) to the characters. This is much like The Nine (a cancelled ABC show) in reverse. Only LOST came out first and doesn't suck.

Taking place on a deserted island, I wondered how long a show could last considering you could only explore so much of each character's history... or could you. It seemed that every flashback revealed more twists and interwoven connections between characters. What if... just what if we explore all outlets of every character that the only solution left is to revert back to their infant past to reveal that they all attended the same day care as children. And that's what got me thinking.

With so many twists and overlapping tales between character's past and history, a door opened with an endless road of discovery. And by discovery I mean spin-offs. Every time Jack goes on one of his ignorant tirads I think back to his briefly explored childhood and how he was probably the know-it-all kid, spouting off his opinions as truth. And what better way to capture this? A cartoon spin-off of LOST featuring the characters as youngins in darecare: LOST Babies. Only instead of real actors it's a cartoon, and more specifically, a remix of Muppet Babies episodes edited as the LOST characters.

My favorite internet videos to date are the GI JOE remixes by Eric Fensler. Brilliantly funny and creative in their own way, I knew LOST Babies was a similar project, with one major problem: no creative control over dialog, being dependent on not just spoken dialog, but audio that is clean of jungle noises, music, and the ocean crashing.  If I am to remix Muppet Babies cartoons and dub over LOST audio, I will not only be limited to the dialog I can record, but I will also have to sit and edit through a vast, never ending supply of LOST episodes to slowly extract usable dialog.

So after building a small and gowing database of LOST audio samples and finding a chunk of Muppet Babies episodes (which are a hard find since they won't be released on DVD anytime soon for similar reasons as the fate of The Wonder Years), I have come close to the completion of the first three episodes. Who knows where this will take me from here. Only time will tell.