Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Damn, that Steven Spielberg known how to make a movie!

I just saw "War of the Worlds and I am fucking blown away! This is what moves are supposed to be. It's exciting. It's funny. It's scary. It's intriguing. It's touching. This is easily one of the best films he has EVER done.

God Bless George Pal, but these are what the martian machines are supposed to look like. They match descriptions from Wells' original story and will scare the living shit out you. The squat cyclops martian of the original film was almost cute; these little bastards are mean, nasty and ugly.

When I wasn't right on the edge of my seat I was either cowering in it or leaning back totally physically and emotionally exhausted.

It goes beyond being a science fiction film; it is a film about human relations. We see Cruise's character stripped down from everything and anything which is civilized and see how he does what ever it takes to survive and protect those he loves.

There is a strained relationship between Cruise and his children, in particular his son, which brought me to tears twice during the film. The last time I remember crying like this was "ET". The second time he does it, near the end of the film, is almost too far fetched. BUT YOU DON'T CARE. Disbelief was suspended long ago.

Spielberg, you manipulative bastard! He makes us laugh with a simple camera setup. He knots our stomachs as he brings us right beside the characters in the film hiding from the invaders causing us to stop breathing just like they are on the screen.

You give yourself over totally to this movie and go along for the ride. You come out sweating, shaking and nauseous and the end and want to thank him for doing this to you. This is what going to the movies is supposed to be.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Been very busy lately getting ready for my next few weeks of travel and vacation. Thursday I am off to my first Starfleet International Conference. This is also my first time reporting as a member of the Executive Committee so there is excitement and nervousness on both parts.

I am looking forward to visiting San Antonio again. Last time I was there I was a 13 year old in love. There was a girl I had met while visiting my sister in England. Her name was Anne. I don't know if she ever even knew how I felt about her and how, to this day, I still carry a small ember of that torch. She was the first girl who inspired poetry for me.

Met her on a Monday in an English home,
back then I was so all alone.
Watching her just standing there,
with no girl could she compare.
She filled my life so full of sunshine,
some day I'm going to make her mine.

Can you tell I grew up listening to 70's AM radio?

In my freshman year of high school a friend of mine put it to music for $75. I never sent it to her. She's married with kids somewhere in Pennsylvania but she'll be on my mind this weekend.

I miss my son something terrible. He went on a trip to visit his step father's family in Maine. This is his first trip on an airplane. Well, the first he can remember. When he was an infant we had taken a trip down here one Christmas. I had hope that I would be able to take him on his "first" plane ride and it bothers me a little that the ex beat me to it. I've chalked it up to another of the moments I'll never have with him thanks to the divorce.

We do have our trip to Maryland the following week to make up for it. I love the fact that he always looks forward to the trip as much as I do. It's nothing but time together for us for an extended period of time. Nothing could be better.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I'm so glad the US House of Representatives today addressed such a scourge upon this country. Ossama is still hiding in the hills of Afghanistan while every day more soldiers are being killed in Iraq. AIDS is killing people every day. Health care is unaffordable for a large number of Americans. But yet these congressmen were able to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to prohibit the desecration of the American flag.

Thank God. I was wondering when all this flag burning was ever going to end!

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Yes, it's a strong statement to make by burning the flag. Yes, it's offensive to burn the flag. Yes, it's a mockery of the government to burn the flag. However, the Constitution gives anyone to right to make a strong, offensive or mocking statement as a form of protest.

Luckily, this still has a long way to go. The bill moves to the senate. It still could have a tough fight there. Each time it has gone to vote it has died there. Even with Republican gains recent surveys of senators shows not enough votes for passage.

And, yes the ghosts of 9/11 come into play and some on Capitol Hill are ready to use these martyrs as political tools. "Ask the men and women who stood on top of the Trade Center," said Rep. Randy (Duke) Cunningham. "Ask them and they will tell you: pass this amendment."

Give me a break, Randy. Touting the memories of those who died in the Trade Center attacks for a sound bite is a million time more offensive than burning a flag.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, whose district includes the site of the former World Trade Center, said it best, "If the flag needs protection at all, it needs protection from members of Congress who value the symbol more than the freedoms that the flag represents."

Even if it were to pass the senate and move to the states for ratification there is comfort in poll released last week by the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center in Nashville which found 63% oppose a flag amendment, up from 53% last year.

This country is not a flag. It is what that flag represents. It's those who died at Lexington and Concord, at Little Big Horn, in the Arden, at Pearl Harbor and in the twin towers. We should fight strong to preserve the freedoms which make our country the envy of the rest of the world. It is those freedoms which Mohammad Atta hated so much. We should be more worried about defending those freedoms instead of a piece of cloth.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My father passed away when I was 15 years old. My memories of him are tinged with the passage of time. Don't get me wrong; I miss him terribly. Every day I'm with my son I wish he were here to see him. The thought of my father and Johnny getting together makes me laugh outloud. My twisted sense of humor comes from him and I have passed it on to my son.

My father taught me my first pun. Every time we passed by a local funeral home he would always point and say, "People are just dying to go there!" Hey, I was a kid. It was hilarious.

My father was the practical joker. And these weren't idiotic "bucket of water over the doorway" jokes. These were finely crafted twists of reality which sometimes sprung years later. He would often get the younger nieces, nephews and grandchildren to try pulling out their own teeth. For him it was easy as he had a full upper plate. He would simply reach into his mouth and slip out a mouthful of teeth. "Go ahead, you try". It was hilarious to see a circle of little kids yanking madly on their teeth while my father chided them, "What's the matter. See how easy it is. Everybody can do this!"

Even in death my father continued to spring jokes on me. The best had to have been when my grandfather died almost 10 years after my father. He lived to 102. We were all gathered together and talking about Grandpa Eaton when I mentioned something about how cool it must have been for him to have been a cowboy out west. Silence and odd stares covered the faces of everyone in the room.

"What the hell are you talking about?" one of my sisters asked.

"Well, when Grandpa was young he was a cowboy out west around the turn of the century."

"Who the hell told you that?"


The laughter was deafening. Apparently my grandfather was born in nearby Massachusetts and the only other state he ever entered was Georgia.

I am sure one of those I could hear laughing was my father.

My father had a stroke when he was just around my age. Don't think that doesn't freak me out when I ponder on it. I can still vividly see him sliding himself down the stairs from hiss upstairs bedroom. His pride would not allow him to have the paramedics carry him from his own home even though his legs could barely work. Afterwards, his body was slightly affected but the major damage was done to his personality. He was harder to deal with and had a faster tempter. Again, I don't have much to compare. I envy my sisters having known my father as he was before his stroke.

The one memory of him before that which I do hold onto tightly is probably my very first memory. We would play "elevator". I was probably a toddler at the time. We would lie on his bed and he would lift me up and down above him saying, "Going up.....going down" and making pneumatic/elevator noises.

I did the exact same thing with my son when he was little.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The back is feeling much better, thanks. I'm still enjoying the muscle relaxants though.

A few things to comment on that have gone on in the past week since I last posted.

Michael Jackson and OJ Simpson must be high-fiving each other. I expected him to at least get pegged for supplying alcohol to a minor. Proves just what celebrity and money can buy you.

"Batman Begins" is not your father's Batman. The fight scenes were shot too tight; you can't make out exactly what happens in the fights or who is hitting who. The story plods along. The Batmo-tank sucks. While Morgan Freeman delivers a good performance, as usual, his character doesn't even belong in this movie. Bruce Wayne is supposed to be a scientist who created all of the "Bat-a-whatevers" he doesn't have to go shopping in Wayne Industry's R&D department. Michael Cane was probably the best part of the movie. He presents a loving and caring Alfred like we have never seen before.

One thing this movie and "Garden State" prove; George Lucas sucks as an actor's director. All the time Liam Neeson was on the screen I kept thinking, "THIS is what Qui Gon was SUPPOSED to be." Add to that Natalie Portman's performance in "Garden State. They are both fantastic actors and if Lucas had allowed them to do their jobs it might have helped the prequel film to be a little better. Lucas is a good craftsman at the technical side of things but he works better with pixels than real human beings.

One last thought; why does iced tea mix froth as you add water and no other drink mix does?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sometimes the human body can really piss you off!

Two days ago I pulled a muscle in my back and I'm in agony. I walking around looking like a question mark. Just one little turn the wrong way at the wrong time and BAM! Now I'm taking medication I sell to the elderly at work.

After two days of the medication I am moving a litle better but each move still has to be thought out ahead of time. One thing's for sure; if this is how it's going to be when I get old, I'm going to be one ornery sonovabitch.

Monday, June 06, 2005

It was 37 years ago today that America lost its last great dreamer of politics. No one could make a speech like Bobby Kennedy.

He spoke these words without preparation in Indianapolis after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.

My favorite poet was Aeschylus. He wrote: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.

Let us dedicate to ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.

Let us dedicate ourselves to that, and say a prayer for our country and for our people.

Or at Capetown, South Africa:

We must recognize the full human equality of all our people - before God, before the law, and in the councils of government. We must do this not because it is economically advantageous - although it is; not because the laws of God and man command it - although they do command it; not because people in other lands wish it so. We must do it for the single and fundamental reason that it is the right thing to do.

He spoke of love and equality. He quoted the Greeks and poetry. These days its soundbites and catch phrases. No single politician today has the balls to speak like he did. We lost a lot that day in 1968. I just thought you should have a taste.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

These kids now-a-days!

Back when I was a young-n I couldn't walk into my local Wally World and choose a light saber from a rack of dozens. Just like the Jedi of Long Ago and Far Away, I had to make my own. My friends Jay was the genius who came up with this engineering breakthrough. We started with the flashlights that had the safety cones attached (like the ones they used to park airplanes) and added the plastic tubes from the inside of a golf bag. These tubes are the ones the clubs would slide into. They were white and semi-opaque. They would slide into the cones atop the flashlights and fit snugly. When they were lit, and it was just dark enough, they would look just as good as the ones for which they're shelling out $20 bucks.

I paid $75 for my first VHS copy of "Star Wars". That was back when it was JUST "Star Wars".

I made parts for my Vader costume from leftover aluminum siding, cardboard, plexiglass, Radio Shack wiring, hand carved wood and a toilet paper dispenser. Now, you can go on Ebay and find any number of full costumes tailor made. OK, so I bought a Don Post mask and my sister did the cape and jump suit but it was a labor of love.

I was actually excited when "The Star Wars Christmas Special" aired because it was the only exposure to something new before the next movie came out. There were no fan films and Flash animations.

So then next time you hear some snotty nosed kid whining about not having the latest Star Wars toy remind him of a time people made Wookiee costumes out of cheap fur rug material!

Friday, June 03, 2005

Meet Lilo!


Today was "Wear Your Hawaiian Shirt Day" at work. I figured that since I always wore Tiki shirts at work it wouldn't be special. So, I went that one step further.

You have to be really secure in your masculinity to pull this off!