Recently I tried to quit coffee, thinking (foolishly) that tea would essentially provide me with the same benefits, the same shit that my body inexplicably craved, and would do so without compelling me to pack each cup full of cream and sugar that is probably in some as-yet-unknown way giving me a terrific amount of cancer. My office-mate at work, Ian, asked me if I wanted to run down the street to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee. I told him no can do.

“I’m quitting,” I told him, allowing a little pride to creep into my voice. I felt pretty good at that point, on day one, and it was easy then to convince myself that this whole quitting deal was going to easier than I had anticipated. A fucking cakewalk, the self-satisfied grin on my face said. Ian looked at me with a weary, red-eyed skepticism, as if I had told him that my cock was made of gold.

“That ought to last a good long time,” he said, in a sarcastic monotone.

“Damn right,” I said.

Continue reading ‘How I Got Started’

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I hope everyone’s still all aboard the remake train, because the film industry certainly still is. In fact, they’re so all aboard the remake train that they forgot to buy tickets for any other form of transportation; the innovative new horror film plane is sitting in its hanger, sad, lonely, and totally unused. So we’re dealing with this bullshit.

A few thoughts:

Continue reading ‘That Burn Victim in the Refinery? He’s Very Impolite!’


As of this morning, I have new respect for people who have actually endured a hurricane; as part of the last gasps of Winter 2010, the Northeast is getting a rather severe little wave of weather events right about now, and where I live, that means rain and wind.  Mostly wind.  As in 60 mph gusts of wind last night.  Holy fuck.

Continue reading ‘Mother Nature: Big Angry Bitch’


Zerglings

25Feb10

This should give you an idea as to just how pitifully out of the geek loop I’ve fallen; I just today heard that the beta for Starcraft 2 is out. Back in the old days, I would’ve been masturbating to the very thought of this date for weeks beforehand, and it’s unlikely that you’d be able to find enough bulldozers on the Eastern seaboard of the United States to plow through the wall of empty Mountain Dew cans I’d assemble in breathless (and sleepless) excitement. Now, as an old person, I find out about this as I do just about everything else in the world: several days late, and from the blogs.

It’s okay, though, because while clearly I’m not the same person I was back then, more importantly, I never had much of a handle on video games in the first place.  They were something that I sort of enjoyed, but mostly took part in because my friends were.  Sure, I loved Sega Genesis as much as the next nerd back between the ages of 9 and 13, but by the time I started hitting high school and the games started involving guns and multiplayer and shit like that, I feel like a subconscious part of me somewhere must have already been saying something along the lines of “Okay.  Cool.  This is something that I’m not going to be able to deal with for much longer.”

This isn’t because of any sort of moral discomfort with the aforementioned gun-centric games; I had some great times playing Counterstrike with my buddies in high school.  However, those times were never really strategic victories.  The times that I can remember, for instance, are general situations in which I would either A) Run blindly into the map where I thought enemies might be, firing blindly with the Parra and screeching, “Covering FIIIIIIIIRE!” or B) Spend 20 or 30 minutes not playing, but instead trying to think of the best possible name for my character.  If I could think of something that made people giggle out loud when my character entered the map, that was a win.  If not, well, again, then it was time for the running-blindly-with-the-Parra-strategy.

I remember those sorts of things fondly, but they reinforce exactly what I’m talking about, which is that the times that I had fun were never based on really sound understandings of the intent of the game I may have been playing; instead, they were generally characterized by me being able to find some sort of unintended loophole in gameplay to exploit so that I looked memorably like a retarded person.  This is both because, again, I am mostly that stupid, and also because I simply cannot keep up with the speed and complexity of your traditional modern game.  Something in me refuses to process it correctly, and I quickly become bored, discouraged, and distracted, and find myself looking for something funny to do instead.

But my friends got a kick out of them (and many still do), so it was the sort of thing I tolerated for the sake of being around them.  At this point I’m actually glad that it was something as innocent as video games that captured my high school friends’ imaginations; it would have been really uncomfortable if I’d had to find some way to generate comedy out of making meth in someone’s basement or ritual sacrifice of small woodland mammals.  At that point, I probably would have suggested we go get some pizza or check out a movie or something, but who knows if they’d have been able to tear themselves away, you know?

Here’s a quick story about my friends and video games.

My friend Alex has lived in this house for his entire life.  It’s his parents’ house, and it’s cavernous.  It’s this way for a reason; he has three brothers and sisters, and so the place that they all grew up in needed to be able to accommodate six people comfortably.  However, the brothers and sisters in questions are significantly older than him, and so by the time I started spending time at his house, sometime around when I was 13 or 14, the siblings had all grown up and moved away.  The house  that suited six people just fine felt endless when it was filled with just three; there were lots of empty rooms, and for some reason that I can’t totally explain, it felt creepy.

Why’s it creepy?  Honestly, I couldn’t tell you the exact reason.  I think that it has something to do with the air, and the rooms.  The house has somewhere around eight rooms, perhaps more, but the thing is that Alex’ s family tends to keep all of the doors in the house shut.  I don’t know why this is – perhaps to make sure that his several dogs didn’t get into places that they shouldn’t, perhaps to trap heat in a particular section of the house, who knows – but I do know, that to me, it made the house feel compartmentalized, all hallways and angles, and still in a strange way, as if the air never moved.  His mother smokes, so there’s a slight hint of cigarettes and staleness, too, and, now that I think about it, the sum total of the feeling that one get is that this is a house in which no one lives, and no one has lived for quite some time.

That’s certainly not the case, and I’m bring overly dramatic here, but to be fair, when you’re 13 and you’ve stayed up all night playing video games and mainlining enough sugary soda to kill a few farm animals, your imagination can tend to run away with you.  You start thinking of things; the heaviness of the silence, the shuffling of the dogs’ paws downstairs, the potentialities that could be hidden behind closed bedroom doors.  Of course I was overthinking, and perhaps dreaming on my feet, but you couldn’t have told me that then.  There were times, simply, when I couldn’t help being creeped out.

I remember one time in particular.  Appropriately enough, it involved Starcraft.  I was at Alex’s house, and as we tended to, we stayed up all night, drinking soda and playing games and recording ourselves saying stupid shit on his computer.  This was pretty standard; we were 13 or 14, not exceedingly popular, had no cell phones or cars, and didn’t really have a whole lot of anything else to do.

At one point I took over operation of the computer, and as I was new to the video game arena, at least compared to Alex and the rest of the people that I knew, I was very excited to get access to a machine that had Starcraft on it.  I didn’t have the game, not at that point, and so to be able to play it, even though it meant Alex didn’t really have anything to do, was amazing.

I wasn’t very good (and I’m still not), but I was mesmerized by the game.  I must have played through four or five levels.  Now, Alex, I’m sure. sat behind me in one of the other chairs in his computer room for at least a while.  I don’t know if he said anything (again, I was mesmerized), but I do know that at some point, while I was engrossed, he got up and silently left the room.  This was no big deal, obviously, and I sure as shit didn’t care or notice – I had the computer game that I coveted at my fingertips and nothing else to do but stretch out and move around inside of it.  I was in heaven.

I think after two hours or so I got stuck on a level; I can’t be sure which, but I have some rather vivid memories of the level in which you’re the Terrans and you have to build a base and hold off the Zerg for 30 minutes, until your transport can come and whisk you and the survivors off of the planet to safety.  I’m pretty sure that I lost this same level, in exactly the same way, three or four consecutive times.  Now, as I’ve said, we were up all night, so I probably didn’t start playing until four or five in the morning.  By the time I took a break to stretch and see what Alex was doing, it must have been seven or eight in the morning.  It was the summer and we were off from school; nothing mattered, we had nothing to do, and no place to be.  I wasn’t worried about the time or my lack of sleep.

What I was worried about, however, as I got up from the computer and started walking around, was the silence.  As I mentioned before, Alex’s house has that still silence to it, as if you’re inside of a place that no one else has been inside of for several years, and for some reason, there’s not a whole lot creepier to me than being the one in that position.  I figured he must have wandered off to bed; it was pretty early, after all.  I shuffled from the computer room upstairs, to where the bedrooms are located.  I looked in his, but the bed was empty.

“Huh,” I thought.  “Weird.  He must have passed out in one of the other rooms.”  I went across the hallway from his bedroom to the bathroom and pissed, not yet thinking about anything in particular.  Without really performing the action intentionally, I went from the bathroom down the upstairs hallway to the other bedrooms and slowly, carefully opened the doors to them, too.

Both empty.

At this point, a thick wave of confusion and sleeplessness had fallen over my conscious mind like a fog; I was struggling to understand what was happening.  Again, I was significantly sleep-deprived and I had been absorbed totally in a video game for what must have been three or four hours by that point, so it’s not surprising that I was having trouble putting two and two together.  I knew, even then, that it wouldn’t work out, not the way that I wanted it to, but even so I walked back down the carpeted hallway of Alex’s upstairs, crossed through the bunk room (a large room that splits the layout of his upstairs in two and houses all of the assorted, random, useless shit that the family has accumulated over the years – it looks like a carpeted attic) to where the last bedroom on that level of the house was located.  I knew before I got there that I would find it empty.

Confused, I walked down the spiral staircase that leads from Alex’s upstairs to the kitchen and dining room on the house’s ground floor.  The dogs, at least, were happy to see me, all four of them (I’m struggling with their names – Colby, Sierra, Rocky, and….someone), and their presence alleviated a little of the pervading sense of unease that I was grappling with by that point, but as I investigated the downstairs level, room by room, padding across the tile in bare feet, I was left with the same reality, regardless of the animals’ cheer.

The house was completely empty.

Now, these days,  I recognize that anything at all could have happened, all sorts of normal things.  Anything’s possible.  Alex’s parents may have had early errands to run, family matters to attend to – Hell, maybe they went for a walk.  Alex, on the other hand, could have been doing anything, as well – he was somewhat hard to predict (and still is), and it wouldn’t be out of the question for him either to be outside stacking wood or, alternately, wandering down Route 3 toward Plymouth in his pajamas.  Both have happened.  Both are possible.  However, those potential truths aside, I was 13 at the time, and my ability to soundly and calmly reason my way through an odd situation was not then what it is now.  As I’ve said, I was sleep-deprived and a little zombie-fied from the game I had been transfixed by.  So I panicked a little, at least internally.

I didn’t scream or yell or convince myself that they had been chopped up and killed in the night, but I did convince myself that it was time for me to leave.  Immediately.  And so, in shorts and a t shirt, I put on my sneakers, patted the dogs, took one last inhalation of the smoky silence that felt to my teenaged mind as if it was building, thickening, intensifying in some way, and left.  I walked out of the house, out of the driveway, and up Route 175 to my house, three or four miles away. It was a sunny day and it was early and quiet, so there were not many cars on the road and the walk was pleasant, restorative.  Calming.

I got home and my mother was watering plants in the back of my house.  It was about eighty-thirty by that point, and the summer sun was beginning to burn off the morning dew.  I remember thinking that it was going to be a hot day.  My mother looked up and smiled and said, “Where the Hell have you been?”  I must have been sweating, carrying deep bags under my eyes.

“I don’t know,” I said, and I went in my bedroom and passed out for a long, long time.


Open Question

21Feb10

Allow me to pose to you an open question – a hypothetical.
Let’s say you were eight feet tall.  Let’s say that you were eight feel tall, but not the sort of eight-footer that goes on TLC and requires long-term, intensive medical care; you’re not Guinness Book of Records eight feet, you’re National Basketball Association eight feet.

Let’s also say that on top of your eight feet in height, you were four hundred pounds.  Again, your god-given physical gifts are not granted to you with an unfortunate catch, even in this department – your weight is almost purely muscle.  There’s little to no body fat on you.  You’re lean, mean, and you look like your triceps muscle could fuck a cement wall so hard it would travel thousands of years back in time.

Let’s say, thirdly, that, as I hinted beforehand, that you’re involved in basketball.  No, not merely involved – you’re in the fucking National Basketball Association.  You’re stomping around in the footsteps of the various greats of the game, and so prodigious is your talent, your natural ability, the sort of synapse-firing that leads to dunks from the free throw line that you are not merely following in their tracks, you’re obliterating what little evidence there is remaining of their presence.  That’s how big your feet are, in a manner of speaking.  You’re perhaps the most talented professional basketball player on the planet, in short.  In your mid-twenties, when the vast majority of your Earthly peers are still gauging whether or not they can afford groceries on a weekly basis, you’re nailing shots from ten feet out of bounds and setting fire to the public’s memory of Magic fucking Johnson.  You’re that good.

You’re Lebron James.

So, assuming all of the aforementioned – you’re a physical giant and you’re immensely talented – as well as other things not deemed by me to be worthy of superfluous explanation – you’re freakishly fast and unstoppable off the dribble, let’s say – let me get back to the initial query, which I have yet to pose.

If you’re all of these things…

WHY.  THE FUCK.  WOULD YOU EVER NOT TAKE IT TO THE FUCKING HOLE?

I was watching the Cavaliers play the Nuggets a few nights ago (side note: I’ve missed watching basketball at night.  Adulthood concerns have robbed me of that simple, solitary joy), and at the end of the game, Lebron began behaving in a manner that puzzled me.  No, strike that.  Lebron began behaving in a manner as a basketball player that infuriated me.

After spending the prior three and a half quarters shredding the shit out of the Nuggets’ defense by getting anywhere he wanted to on the court at any time, by driving and mercilessly racking up three-point-play after three-point-play, Lebron decided to start…shooting long, contested jump shots.

Now, again, this is after he’s been mercilessly attacking this team for nearly forty minutes.  He’s put up right around 40 points, and double-digit rebounds and assists, too (not looking up the numbers, but he finished with the much-overrated triple double).  Nothing can possibly be done short of a prolonged campaign of napalm bombing within the arena to keep him from dunking on each trip down the floor.  Lebron is playing so dominantly as a slasher that when the other team scores, it’s automatically credited to him.  People’s hearts are exploding our of their chests in the crowd.  Holy men, several countries away and blissfully slumbering, are spontaneously developing Nike logo stigmata.  Dude is playing out of his goddamn mind.  And yet…

Here’s Lebron, launching a twenty-footer over Carmelo’s outstretched fingertips.  Front iron.

Here’s Lebron, pulling up for a three pointer from the left wing, over Carmelo again, after a few half-hearted jab steps (as if he needs to fake).  This is probably a 28 foot shot.  Same result – clang.

“Lebron,” I’m saying from my couch.  “Lebron, what are you doing?  That was not a tomahawk over three players.  That was not a high-percentage field goal, my friend.”

Before long, despite the fact that I truly dislike Lebron and the Cavs, I am feeling personally offended by this display.  Lebron has spent four consecutive possessions pulling up for contested shots over multiple defenders.  Again, this isn’t a problem for someone as good as he is, but if you’re going to do that, why not do it from five feet away, so that you can launch yourself at people like a fear-seeking missile?  The man shoots something like eighty fucking percent from close range, and there’s not a player or a team or a tactical nuclear weapon on the planet that can keep him from getting whatever shot he wants.  And if that’s the case, why in the name of all that is fucking holy would you be settling for jump shots in the fourth quarter of a tight game?

And that’s the other thing – it was tight.  The Nuggets were probably down somewhere between three and five the first time Lebron jacked a top-of-the-key shitfuck, and by the time he had done it three or four times, Denver was ahead by two.  I’m left to wonder: does Lebron realize what he’s doing?  Is he so far removed from Earthly concerns due to his talent that he can tinker with horrific shots that he knows he won’t make in the middle of a close game, just because he can?  He can sacrifice a game at his whim, like a goat upon a pagan altar, and feel nothing, feel no guilt that would compel him to stop playing like a fucking idiot and drive to the fucking basket because no one can do anything to stop you.

I’m stunned by either the arrogance or ignorance that this suggests – he’s either so good that he doesn’t give a shit that he’s doing things that are hurting his team in a winnable game, or he’s so stupid, so socially disconnected from what’s happening because of how good he is that he truly has no idea that seven or eight shitty jump shots in a row is the sort of thing that can stop a run for your team and build one for your opponent.

Lebron, do you have a wordpress account?  You will need one in order to comment on my blog entry about you, and I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say.  Maybe you could start your own wordpress blog account, and we could write blogs back and forth to each other, like twenty-first century pen pals.  Write back soon.


Here are the two things I remember about the soon-to-be-departed Eddie House:

1) I remember the play that he made in the Eastern Conference Finals/NBA Finals in 2008 (see, right there, that should give you an idea of how good I’m doing on the memory front). During a Celtics’ offensive possession, the ball got tipped into the back court; House took off after it, along with one other player. I can’t remember the opposing player, so I’m choosing to insert Lakers legend Jerry West, now near 70, into my mental picture of how things went down.

Eddie hustled to scramble past the creaky legs of West. Filled with the spirit of your prototypical energy guy off the bench, Eddie catapulted himself over West’s shoulder, dove to the floor, and, just before he slid out of bounds under the opposing basket, managed to fling the ball back off of West’s body. The ball went off of West, both saving the possession for the Celtics and hitting West with such force that the entire lower half of his body exploded in a fine mist of blood and bone matter. ABC went to a TV timeout just as the screaming NBA legend was being dragged off the court, now nothing more than whiny torso.

2) I remember screaming (screaming) at Doc Rivers through my television screen to fucking play Eddie House during the 2008 playoffs. We were having serious problems scoring, and as a team we were displaying a mystifying, infuriating ability to play like we gave half a fucking shit. I blame this entirely on Doc Rivers and his decision to play Sam Cassell over Eddie House; I maintain to this day that if he had just played House as the first guard off the bench instead of Sam, we would have swept through the playoffs.

Cassell misses a shot by twenty feet? Eddie would’ve made it.
Cassell pisses his pants at halfcourt, revealing a heretofore totally unknown problem with controlling his facilities? Eddie hasn’t pissed his pants since the first time he saw The Ring by himself.
Cassell burned down an orphanage? Look at how cute that kid is that Eddie’s got on the sidelines with him all the time!

PUT HIM IN THE FUCKING GAME.

On the other hand, of course, I’m overjoyed to be welcoming a total fucking nutjob like Nate Robinson to town. I’m not saying that sarcastically, either – I really am excited.  I hope he leaps into the stands during a playoff game and tears an Atlanta fan’s head clean off and then dunks it from half court.


Movie night’s my favorite night. Not only does it remind me how much I love my friends and how much I enjoy really poorly executed movies, it also keeps me aware of the fact that now we’re old enough to have to take time out of our real lives to hang out with each other, and that means that we’re becoming adults, and that means that the leering skeletal head of death himself isn’t all that far away now!