Saturday, December 31, 2011

What A Difference Three Years Makes

Remember this?



I shot this video on New Year's Eve 2008. As you can see, despite my denial in the video, I'm quite drunk and just about to open another bottle of champagne. I'm in my little matchbox house in Lake Mary and I'm about 40 pounds heavier than now.

Though I spoke in the video about my hopes for health and prosperity in the coming year of 2009, as we know, it was not to be. I delved deeper into the abyss, or, to stick with an analogy I referenced in this clip, I went farther through the event horizon.

But things are good now, or at least much better. They're still far from perfect, but I'm not shooting for that. I learned long ago to stop battling windmills.

I do have high hopes that this new year will be as good and hopefully even better than this past one. I sit at my laptop, at my comfortable and stress-free job, sober and looking at this new "event horizon" with logical optimism.

Wishing you all a great new year as well!

Cave Of Forgotten Dreams...WTF?!


So I streamed this documentary via Netflix which had an amazing 96% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.5 stars rank on IMDB and I thought: "Oh this should be rather good, no?"

Um...no.

On both sites mentioned above and Netflix's own review page, post after post spewed nothing but crazy uber-adoration for what they called an absolutely stunning film. They spoke in terms of such Holy Reverence for the director Werner Herzog. It all reminded me of Roger Ebert's over-the-top, creaming-in-his-pants review of Kirosawa's "Ran" in the '80s that my bud Michelle and I would mock endlessly.

A documentary this popular isn't right, right?

The movie starts off like any other documentary. The narrator describes the setting and the focus...a rare filming opportunity of a recently (sometime in the 1990s) discovered cave in southern France which has a number of cave paintings dating back some 25,000 years.

Now I agree this is a great find and the paintings are amazing considering they were drawn by human beings who were in the proto-stages of development of what we'd call early civilization. Neanderthals, mammoths, cave bears and the like walked among them.  Fascinating.

But the director makes it out to be like this cave was the greatest discovery of all mankind. He says it's the earliest known cave paintings (not true according to another website) and points to all sorts of "evidence" of a spirituality of the cave people. Hmmm...

The director takes great effort in describing the sacrifices he's had to make in order to film in the cave. He shows that they use cool temperature lights to illuminate the scenery and a small non-professional camera (assumably due to size contraints). They mention that they cannot deviate from the metal, slightly elevated path which has been installed (assumably well before this shoot) lest anything fragile (like rocks? That's all I see...) be destroyed forever. (Makes you wonder how workmen avoided stepping on the cave floor when they first installed the walkway.)

The director suddenly calls for everyone to be quiet and observe a moment of silence. Silence so deep that we could hear our own heartbeats. And the implication here is that he wants the group to somehow imagine themselves mentally reaching out to the spirits of the 25,000 year old ghosts of the cave painters and convey a message of connectivity...for we too are human as you were, oh great ancestors! Oh brother!

The music throughout the film is supposed to evoke a spirital connection to our shared humanity I guess with its lilting violin strains, flute solos and eerie female chorus trilling. Over-the-top dramatic shit with a new age spirituality bent.

This "expert" (expert at what? IDK, maybe bullshit) who's a dead-ringer for Einstein is interviewed by the director in the midst of a vineyard. Talking about the cavemen's weaponry, it sounds like he says that he suspects at some time they used "phasers". "Okay, I will show you how to kill a horse." He attempts to demonstrate but uses the atlatl very poorly. He goes to retrieve the spear but the director/narrator says "Stay there. I suspect that Paleolitic man was better at it than you."

Here towards the end of the film we are "treated" to about 15 minutes of that irritatingly discordant score and what amounts to just a slideshow of the various cave images. Frame after frame fading one into another with the icy lighting purposely moving around to emphasise the contors (it's a 3-D movie and I suppose this looks better in 3-D) and evoke, perhaps, flickering of ancient torchlight.

Now this guy is sniffing the ground saying that he tries to use his sense of smell to detect ancient hidden cave systems since they would be exhasting air through unseen vents. He should know, he's a professional perfumer. Oh man, only in France. Once in the cave, he admits that he can't really smell anything, but he uses his imagination to sense the odor of all the animals like cave bears, lions and even rhinos that had been there.

The director mentions that one could see a footprint of an 8 year old boy and a cave bear paw print next to each other. He wondered if they were friends walking together, or if the cave bear was stalking the boy as prey, or, if the impressions were made a thousand years apart from one another. Noone knows.

In the "Postscript" the film shows nearby albino crocodiles (clearly in a containment area) which have prospered in a false eco-system created by the nuclear-power-plant-generated water outflow heated as it is used to cool the plant's fuel rods. The director wonders what they (the crocs) will make of the paintings in the cave when they eventually reach it.

Ugh!

Give me a more science-based un-biased documentary style like those of PBS or National Geographic Channel. This stuff was way too schlocky for me.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Fortune Teller

Gaze into my crystal ball...

I can't see anything.

Look deeper. DEEPER!

Oh I see something now...

I see a military parade, all in red. Goosestepping Asian warriors...and...is that a huge nuclear missile?

I see a huge glacier calving off enormous chunks. Chunks the size of Rhode Island.

I see rioting and buildings burning. There are angry mobs running around committing the most atrocious crimes. Wait...is that Manhattan?

I see a great tsunami, bigger than any before. I see an entire city engulfed in water demolishing all in its path. Wait...is that San Francisco?

I see bearded men in white coats. Is this a vast laboratory? They push a button and a missile is launched. A crowd outside burns a make-shift American flag.

I see forests and jungles devastated by drought. Millions of African tribal children die of starvation.

I see a new leader in Russia. The people are not happy. This man has seized power and is backed by a war thirsty military. I see secret missile bases being refurbished. New submarines are launched in the dark of night.

I see a new flu, never seen before. It's a super flu, resistant to all known medicines. It starts its march through the population slowly at first but once it reaches a modern airport...

I see a secret room with old men in dark robes around a huge table. These are the secret men in control of the world finances. There is a problem...

I see stock exchange floors the world over...Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris, London, New York...everything crashes. Much wailing...much wailing. Money is no more.

I see a world in de facto anarchy. Without money, governments collapse. Warlords rise to power. Killing is rampant but it solves little.

I see once affluent cities teeming with disease and starvation. The previous impoverished areas of the world have already been wiped out.

I see desperate factions gain control of the nuclear launch codes...

I see great red glowing mushroom clouds filling the skies.

Oh Madame, this is too much to bear! I can't look any longer!

Look, my child....LOOK!

Oh wait...it's getting better...

I see people at the UN coming together to stop the wars.

I see there's a new sense of positiveness in the air.

I see the few remaining wealthy nations open their hoarded cache to all and there is a great sharing among all people of the world.

I see a little girl in the arms of her mother, happily gazing up to the clouds, thanking God.

But suddenly, the crystal is dark. I can see nothing more, Madame. Why?

Well, you see my child...

The little girl wasn't looking at puffy white clouds. She was staring at an enormous asteroid glowing red hot as it entered the atmosphere.

Then it struck the Earth and blew it to pieces.

Eh, whatcha gonna do...

That'll be $20 please.

Friday, December 16, 2011

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series "The Addams Family"

Not to be outdone by the Munsters, here's another creepy, kooky family from the weird sitcoms of the '60s. I know you're humming the theme song right now!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

SCRAPBOOK: New Apartment Pics

Taken tonight with the same old camera so the photos aren't that great. Note the lit candles...the extent of my "holiday" decoration.;)








Sunday, December 11, 2011

Going From A To Z

Even a cursory glance at many of my posts here indicate I've had a multi-decade issue regarding the use of alcohol. The effects (and after-effects) of it and my many struggles with it are legendary, believe me.

Well the good news is that in the past few months, I've actually reduced my usage considerably and the sneaky cravings have pretty much faded. Now, I'm not so naive to think it is forever.

I'm not sure what exactly initiated it other than the fact that the after-effects like hangovers, heart palpitations, panic attacks and gout flare-ups were finally getting to the point of intolerance. I'd reached my limit of the amount of suffering my body could endure and even moderate amounts of beer or wine would cost a too painful physical price.

But beginning a couple weeks ago, I started getting comfortable with a new drug. And now, after what amounts to just a handful of days it seems to have a grip on my acting much more like an addiction than alcohol ever did. I've replaced drug A: Alcohol with Drug Z: Zolpidem aka Ambien.

Attesting to my doctor that my work schedule causes difficulties in regulating a proper sleep pattern as it's flipped upside. I need to stay up all night and sleep well in the daytime. The rest of the world (people phoning you, neighbors milling about, auto traffic on the street, even the natural things like birds chirping and the sun shining) all seem to want to keep me up.

So I asked for Ambien and she quickly wrote me a script.

I filled the script upon leaving her office and started using it immediately.

I used to take either Benedryls or some alcohol if I couldn't get to sleep before. Bennys would envelop your brain in wave after successive wave of drowsiness until you finally relented and went to sleep. It also seemed to coat your skin with a slight numbing tingliness that made it easier for you to find a comfortable sleep position in bed. But unfortunately, that drowsiness could and often did stay with you well after you've had 8 hours of sleep. It also seemed to work erratically. Sometimes the onset would hit you right after taking it, other times it felt like no effect at all.

Alcohol wasn't a really good sleep aid because, for me anyway, I wanted to push it to experience the buzz a while before essentially passing out. The sleep was tortured, tossing and turning, having cold and hot flashes and feeling my heartbeats racing fiercely. Not the way to get a restful sleep.

Now with Ambien, I start to feel the effects about 20 or 30 minutes after taking it (depends if my stomach is full or not) and instead of the sometimes harsh feeling of a Benedryl drowsiness, Ambien just simply seems to be like Dave unplugging those brightly lit circuit panels from Hal's mainframe.

"Daisy, Daisy give me you're answer,do,"
"I'm half crazy all for the love for you."

By 45 minutes, you notice the things that were worrying you: faded away. The actions you were doing: slowly being forgotten. Try playing Jeopardy on it. I must look and sound like that wheel-chair kid on South Park, Timmy!

The dreams are complex and interesting, yet not overly busy or worrisome. The body finds a comfortable sleep position and tends to stick with it. Once your ready to wake up you can feel a normal cortisol cascade flooding your neuro-pathways and even before you partake of caffeine, you're alert and refreshed.

But then the next day, you try just fall asleep naturally with out the drug. You lay for hours on the pillow, your eyes tightly shut behind the obscuring sleep mask and just think. Think, think, think, about anything that comes into your mind. You toss and turn and try to block out the noised from outside the apartment. Oh man, is that a car radio? Sniff, sniff, cough, why do they chose now to grill steak? Is the neighbors dog barking again? Ughh!

And before you know it, you succumb to the lure of the little amber-colored vial on your nightstand. The little white diamond-shaped pills are so tiny they can be dry-swallowed effortlessly.

So despite your best efforts you reach for it again. You use again. I'ts now your drug of choice.

Your dance card's full up. You've gone from Dashing Demon A to Dastardly Demon Z.

And you like the way he takes you into his big, strong arms and gently carries you, gracefully dancing across the ballroom under the pale moonlight. Or, in my case, the window-blind blocked and diffused muted sunlight.

STILL KICKIN'?: Phyllis Diller

A while back I posted about one of my fav ol' skool comedians, Jonathan Winters and remarked how amazing it was that he was still alive. When you think of the life of a mid-20th century comedian, you can only imagine the drinking, smoking and other bad things they'd done during their career shleppin' from one ratty nightclub venue to the next. How are they still kickin'?

I remember Phyllis Diller looked like an old hag even back in the '70s when she made her frequent "Tonight Show" appearances.  I guess the iconic cigarette holder was for affect since she hasn't dropped dead from lung cancer yet.

Good for you, Phyllis! Keep Joe Black at bay, no matter how hot he looks.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Er, Mission Accomplished...I Guess?

Well like our ol' buddy "W", I'm gonna go ahead and take the steer by the horns and declare victory in the two wars I've been fighting.

Though like the real life situation which the original version of this Photo-shopped pic hearkens back to...we're sure to expect some, ahem, continued insurgency.

First off, lets put this workplace conflagration out. The status is the same as the last post yet now, by way of my silky-sweet talkin' skills and some subtle wordplay shell-gamin' I think I've convinced the "enemy" that I'm actually on their side and that the whole controversy sprung from the redneck maintenance man...an oh-so-easy fall guy.

Katherine has gone back, albeit cautiously, to her snoozing and Susan sleeps with her phone by her bedside, ready to interrupt her carpet cleaning efforts on her girlfriend the minute she gets my call. "Munch on, Susan, munch heartily on, for that call will never be a-comin'!" (Though your girlfriend might be...)

The second which has been on going for months now is another Critter War in my home. Yes, in this place too. Well I knew it really. The signs were there despite the wonderful cleaning job the prior tenent had done. And the negative reviews on apartment ratings sites...can't ignore that, especially when there were so many.

Good thing: They weren't Palmettos. As you know, I really HATE Palmettos. No, these were your garden variety German roaches. Bad enough indeed, And the fact they multiply so rapidly had me in a quandary all summer. Coinciding with a management change and two neighbors moving, the pests got intermittent visits from pest control personnel and were forced to rummage around a lot.

My solution was to complain to the office several times 'till they finally came out to lay down some bait gel compound in strategic areas. I followed that up with my own, almost literal "carpet bombing" campaign utilizing boric acid powder, Combat baits, two variants of RAID and some highly recommended Ortho dust.

Finally, in the past week or so, I've only seen a couple dead bodies, and dead nymphs too which could imply even the most recent generations have been wiped out.

'Course I'll probably get lung cancer now with my apartment riddled with poison.

But fuck it, I call it MISSION ACCOMPLISHED on both fronts.

Legal Disclaimer: Michael's opinion is entirely speculative. It may well be he's dead wrong. If in a couple of weeks we find his roach-covered body having died from suicide brought on by being fired from his job, then, well...there you go. Lesson learned.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Stormy Weather We Are Having

Ironically, I'm watching the Redford/Pitt movie "Spy Game" on AMC right now and I'm reminded of (though they didn't use it in this film) the old spy movie cliche of a spy meeting their contact and determining they had the right person by engaging in cheesy coded "small talk".

"Good day to you."
"Stormy weather we are having today."
"They say it is mild and sunny in Vladivostok."
"I prefer my tea with lemon."

This somewhat describes the atmosphere at work now.

The Helen/Susan godhead is all in a tizzy since I revealed to them a glaring lapse of security in our email system which may or may not have been utilized by members of the Junta. All the passwords that were automatically issued to each employee on hire were simply the names of different colors. I know for a fact June knew of this since we talked about it when we got our passwords several months ago.

Me: "My password is just the name of a color."
Her: "Mine too."
Me: "Magenta"
Her: "Violet"

So the assumption is that June found out about the email I sent to Susan about Katherine sleeping by elicitly hacking into either mine or Susan's email account.

And I may have contributed a tad to this perception.

But in truth, I really don't see June as THAT devious. She simply doesn't seem that intricately concerned about the office politics and such. She's mentioned frequently that this is just a means to get by for her...to help pay bills and school tuition. Her mind and her heart is not at all devoted to this workplace.

I think she found out the simple, old-fashioned way. Someone overhead something and then they started the ol' rumor mill wheels a-spinning. The walls of the place echo voices very well and staff who happen to be around during the golden hours of the mid-afternoon when so much chatter among numerous people, all in open door rooms goes on, can hear a lot indeed.

Also, June is acting very unsure about me. She asked me why it is that Charmaine said I was "making statements against her and Katherine" and I answered, cautiously, "I don't know why Charmaine would say that?"

My answer is truthful. Even if I believed Charmaine would say something to June in the first place, I really wouldn't know why she would inform June of anything of a confidential discussion between management and me. I didn't deny making any "statements", since I have no reason for covering up my actions. I'm just not saying more to her since it really isn't about her. It's about Katherine. If June wants to stand by her friend and be dragged down with her...well that's her choice.

Of course if it comes down to both of them getting burned in all this, the Junta will play the race card and imply that was my motive for "starting it all".

And before that "day" ever comes, will it be a mental Mexican standoff each shift? Who can you trust, we're all no doubt thinking. Who can you trust, indeed.