Monthly Archives: October 2006

Pentagon scans milblogs for security risks

I better watch what I post in reference to my military experience. Although I should point out a couple things. One: Although I did have a Top Secret clearance, I didn’t see a ton of stuff. Two: The stuff I “did” see I’m not stupid enough to just let hang out there where anyone can see it. I might not have loved my job, but I do care about the things I did. Besides, I don’t want the Naval weather service getting their hands on all of our High-Tech weather data.

…one point I’ll likely make over and over again as this blog goes on is how completely moronic it is to have more than one weather service in the military. But then I don’t completely understand the entire “separate branch” thing to begin with, or the whole “I’m an officer, and automatically better than you, although you might be a lot more educated in the job we do here, while I was in charge of a food service department before arriving.” You know, minor things. But hardly Top Secret material. For one thing, our commanding officers didn’t, to my knowledge, command a food service detachment / department. Just an example I’m throwing out there.

No-no, anything on this blog, Mr. Big Brother, contains “secret” stuff that you can find on, oh, just about any military history website out there. But have fun reading it while you’re culling for the nasty stuff.

The only thing I will reveal though is that the hallways inside of the Air Force Weather Agency…they’re a beige-cream color. The hallways in just about EVERY military post…yeah, they’re the same color. So there, I gave away something – the military’s preferred color of paint. Take that to the bank.

Oh yeah, here’s the link by the way: Pentagon scans milblogs for security risks

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Todd N Tyler Everywhere

I just heard a “hint” on TnT this morning that they’re going to pop up in Sioux Falls very soon. They’ve already announced the syndication to the Des Moines area, as well as somewhere in Missouri. But Sioux Falls means that I can actually listen to them all the way up to my hometown. Very good news. Check out their site, TnTU (TnT Unauthorized), which has almost nothing to do with the show, but it somehow reminds me of the old Bulliten Board Services from the early 1990’s. I’d put the site here, but if you’re too lazy to click on it off to the right, then, well, you’re too lazy.

(Note: it was later brought to light that TnT were not, in fact, spreading to Sioux Falls, but to Kansas and Missouri. Much to my lack of delight.)

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Story Idea #4

This is one that’s been riding in my consciousness for a while. I’m not sure I’m ready to write it properly, but I’m close.

There’s an old man, about 85 years of age, but he looks to be 100. He walks with an old cane, but he should really have a walker. He wears clothing that was once nicer, a pair of slacks and a decent shirt, but it looks as if the clothes are in disrepair. Holes are appearing in his sweater, the knees and anlkes of his slacks are worn to whiteness, and his leather loafers are cracked and shaved rough in many spots.

He is tired, and he walks without meaning. He walks to be doing something. His wife took care of him emotionally. He’s able to get along without her, but the little things are slipping from his list of important things. Buying new clothes, appointments at the Senior Center, and trying to arrange visits from his children, who he hasn’t seen since the funeral of his wife.

One day on his walk, for some unknown reason, he decides to walk further. He reaches one block further than he did yesterday, and still he travels on. He knows he won’t have the energy to make it back without extreme pain, but he doesn’t care. He’s got the money for a taxi if it comes to it. It doesn’t matter, he needs to keep going.

As he walks along the side of a busy throughofare, a white van cuts across traffic, pulling alongside the man for an instant before speeding off. It’s a dirty van, rust along the bottom edge, and there’s a curtain in the back window. In that window, for an instant, the old man sees a young girl peering out, looking back, with very sad eyes. It’s a moment that lasts not even 1/4 of a second, but the two exchange this sadness between them as if they had been speaking of it for an hour or more.

The old man watches wistfully as the van speeds off. He wishes that there was something he could have done, but there really wasn’t. He walks onward, coincidentally or not, in the same direction that the van was driving.

It’s now a while later, maybe a few hours, the man isn’t sure. The sun has moved lower in the sky, but there’s still a good couple hours before it becomes dark. He is walking and walking, and finds that he’s in more of an urban area, with old brick apartment buildings and corner grocery stores, and an occaisional pawn shop or obnoxious yellow and red signs for E-Z CASH. The man is hungry, and tired, and is looking for a coffee shop or bar that might be open, so he can call himself a cab. Then, clear as day, he sees it. The van. It’s parked 2 1/2 blocks from him, on the street. The car is downhill from the old man, and he can see lights on in the apartment. He turns to approach the van.

As the man reaches the van, he knows that it’s empty, but he knocks anyhow. No answer. He looks at the apartment building the van is parked in front of. It’s a shithole, no other word describes it. The man creeps up the stone steps to the front door. There is a security lock on it, but its broken, and he’s able to continue on. He climbs the steps, passing 2 floors, until on the 3rd floor, there’s a door slightly ajar. The man pushes the door open, and it squeeks slightly…he notices that there was talking from behind the door, and that the talking has continued on without break. The man creeps through the door, and on the right is a living room with two men, mid-twenties, arguing verbally over something or another. The man passes the entry to the living room, goes through a kitchen to the hallway. In the first bedroom, he sees her. She is tied to the bed, hand and foot. She’s wearing a man’s t-shirt and nothing else. She has been crying, but she looks hopeful all the same, peering into the man’s eyes.

The old man reaches into his pocket, pulls out his 50 year old buck knife, and cuts the girl’s bonds. He motions for her to be quiet, but she has already taken the hint. She seem very smart, despite only a moment’s notice.

The man picks her up, weighing as a back of feathers. Despite this, his back gives a minor complaint, then is quieted. The man creeps back through the apartment, past the bickering boy-men, and into the hallway. He whispers, “You okay?”, and she nods. He sees red marks on her throat for the first time, and it tears him. He will ask her about this later.

He is able to carry her down the steps, but then he needs her to help herself a little. The two escape onto the street, in search of a police station.

>>> from here, the story has a few flows or motivations. One is that they can’t find anyone to help, no one wants to. Only people of a good heart will help, and there aren’t enough of those kinds of people on this part of town. Another flow is that the men aren’t quite what they seem – they are after power, not ransom or sex or photographs. The power is what the girl has. She is magic in some way, but it’s a vocal magic, something she can’t do at all at first meeting, and something that regenerates slowly as her squeezed and battered vocal chords start to heal.

I don’t know quite where this story wants to go, or if it will come to any sort of cogent conclusion. I’ve had it in my bag of tricks for well over 10 years now. I might try it out for the NoWriMo (National Writers’ Month) in November. We’ll see.

Thanks for watching. -A

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Good Disc, 2 good songs

Ramones – Toughest Hits

Now, the Ramones are one of those bands whose songs all sound the same, but all of their songs rock. I love love LOVE the Ramones, and I definitely recommend this disc.

Otherwise, I bought Buckcherry – 15. If I were you, I’d just download the two great songs from the disc, “Next To You”, and “Crazy Bitch”. The 2nd of those is my favorite song at the moment…just good raw humorous sexy fun.

Jason Heath said…
Man, you’re chuning them out today! Great miltary story. I hope you get some high speed internet soon–you’d have a blast with YouTube videos and the like.

I am in Memphis right now.

11:48 PM

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Military Story #2

I arrived in the San Antonio airport on a Tuesday, I think. I was supposed to fly on a Monday, but as a goodbye dinner with Sarah, I had made the horrible mistake of eating Vietnamese soup with a TON of rice. I was already close to the weight max, and that pushed me over. After a day of eating a whole watermelon (and an uncomfortable night in the bathroom), I was able to make weight and go to Basic.

I remember that, on the way to the Joe Foss Field airport in Sioux Falls, the song, “Major Tom” came on. Not the David Bowie song, “Space Oddity”, but the song that was an ode to Bowie’s song. Peter Schilling sang “Major Tom”, and the part of the song that goes, “Four!…Three!…Two!…One!…Earth before us, drifting, falling” would jam STUCK in my head for the whole of basic training, all SEVEN weeks of basic.

Anyhow, sitting in the airport, Sarah was there, along with my Mom and Brother, waiting for the plane. Well, the airline folks sorta didn’t mention that the plane was about 40 minutes earlier than scheduled, and they almost left without me. I had to RUN to get there…to a filthy little prop-plane. I hate prop planes. So bumpy, so noisy, they make me want to puke just looking at them now. But that’s what was going to take me to Denver, the first leg of the journey to San Antonio, home of Air Force Basic Training.

Finally, in the air, I remember looking down, feeling meloncholy and hopeful. I would never be the same after this. I wouldn’t know myself after this. In a way I still don’t know myself. I don’t know what I’m capable of. My insides have been reorganized in such a way that I can flip a switch and go if I need to, without a lot of thought, but good instinct to guide me.

After a switchover in Denver (and a jump to a larger, jet plane, thank God), I finally landed in San Antonio, a day late, but none the less, there.

I was wandering around the airport, looking around for where the new recruits were supposed to go. I found a sign pointing the way, and in the distance I saw a train of men, all in a line, walking roughly in sync. (If I were to see it now, I’d laugh at how horribly out of step they looked. At the time, I didn’t really notice.) Well, I didn’t want to disturb the flow of that group, or draw too much attention to myself, so I waited in the area designated “Newbies”, or something like that.

I waited for about 40 minutes, regretting my cowardice at not joining the prior group. I actually walked for the phones, picked one up, looked up the operator for Lackland Air Force Base, started to dial, when I saw two guys in fatigues in the distance, slowly approaching my position. They were chummy with one another, and I decided to wait and see, to talk to them.

So, when they approached me, not really paying attention to me, I decided to get their notice. “Hi, could you tell me–“

I got their undivided attention.

“Hey, are you here for Basic Training?”

“Yeah.”

“Don’t you ‘yeah’ me, you will answer every question with either ‘Yes Sir’ or ‘No Sir’, do you have that clear?”

Now, I had never used the word, “Ma’am” or “Sir” in my life, except in jest. The words were unnatural to me, and even now, after all of that indoctrination, I still get that creepy-crawly feeling that says, “This feels weird to say.”

Well, I had it clear, and I was promptly directed back to the holding area for newbies. Shortly, about 15 other nubes found the area, and we all got to chill out together until the next parade of Trainees would weave their way through the airport.

—Enough for now. I was hoping to get to the busride with the annoying Linkin Park fan, but I suppose that will come later.

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Survivor’s Guilt

Sometimes I feel bad about not doing more when I was in the service. I served and I did it well, but it was in such a monkey’d-up operation that it still doesn’t seem like I really “did” much in the war effort. I joined to make a difference, and I did, I realize this. But I was so far removed from the actual physicality of the war that what I did just doesn’t feel…real. I hear about the Air Force guys who went over there, and got to basically babysit contractors hired from the local villages. That was an option for me, but I didn’t really feel like taking it. I think I’d feel worse if I had done that, because I would have known that not 200 miles from me there were other guys who chose to sign on the dotted line in the office next-door to the Air Force recruiter who were getting killed.

I’m glad I did something at the very least. The military will live with me forever. I did something that I needed to do to feel right with myself.

I should note something though. I don’t feel any less of anyone who has not served. I think most people “should” serve, even a 2-year enlistment in the Army. I say that they should, because I think that person would feel more right with themselves, living in this country, if they served. But it has to be a personal decision. Frankly, some folks shouldn’t be in the military when it comes down to it. There are some folks that aren’t stable enough to handle the barrage of emotional shit that they put you through.

Going through basic…I’ll touch on this more later, but despite how much mental leverage you have going in there, you will be broken down, and you will cry. The best you can do is to try to find some like-minded guys in there and befriend them. I don’t make friends easily, but I was able to find a couple of friends in there that I would gladly let stay in the spare bedroom if they were ever in town.

In the end…I know something about myself that doesn’t always play into the guilt. I wasn’t really made for combat. I know my limits, and I know that while I could survive in a wartime situation, I don’t believe I could thrive. I don’t require a lot of human contact, and I don’t require a lot of technology. But I don’t think I could get along with everyone. I’m too much of a loner to ever feel like part of the party.

Ramble ramble like the rambling ramble-weeds….

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Fake Cigarettes

Talking about Harm and the gradeschool walks down to the Senior Center in Sioux Falls, I was reminded of something my brother and I did. After school, we’d often have to walk to the library until our Mom could pick us up. On the way, we’d invariably stop at the 7-11 (later a Sinclair station) at 11th & Minnesota Ave, because they had a great selection of candy and sweets. Top of the list, especially when it was cold outside, was good old Candy Cigarettes. Back then, they weren’t “Candy Stix” like they are now. They were true-blue Candy Cigarettes.

Now, the reason why the cold weather was a good factor was the fact that you could see your breath in the freezing cold. And so could other people…which was especially funny when you were all of 12 years old with a candy cigarette in your mouth. I still remember when we were nearing Kindler Pontiac / Cadillac, not quite past BF Goodwrench, and this lady driving by did a triple-take, I kid you not. It was the funniest fricking thing I’d ever seen. I don’t remember us laughing much about it at the time, but I still smile when I think of that moment.

And that’s one of my favorite memories of my brother.

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Story Idea #3

The 14 moments today you could have [blank].

> Won the powerball. If you had decided to be rude and not hold that door open for that old lady, or if you had decided to let that asshole through in traffic, or whatever. 14 moments that could have landed you a bazillion dollars.

> Gotten killed. If you had turned left instead of right, stopped for that latte, or decided to take the overpass instead of the back roads, only to get creamed by that senseless cement truck driver.

> Met the man/woman of your dreams.

> Changed religions

> Got physically fit

…and so on.

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Mass Bloggage

Well, I have a billion ideas for things to talk about, and I’m getting weighed down by them. So, there will be about a dozen shorties to talk about. If you’re actually viewing this blog on a daily basis, sorry but you’ll have to page back a little to get it all. I’d crank the maximum posts-per-page to something higher than 7, but I like keeping this a small front page. Maybe when I get high-speed internet, I’ll change my mind.

Anyhow, without further ado…

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Titled: "Untitled"

I’m a little shot from work today, but I feel the need to throw something out there. I guess I’ll start with my stances, something I haven’t been able to work into conversation to date.

1. I’m pro-life. Be all, end all. That means conception, all trimesters, pregnancy due to rape and accident, young pregnancy, etc. The only exception I make is if the mother is in severe danger. Now, the other side of this is that I don’t believe execution is right. I believe that, despite the costs involved, we need to give people every chance for some sort of rehabilitation inside themselves and in their relationship with God before they die. There are some truly evil people in this world, but I still feel that the chance needs to be there. Hell is forever, we need to give them the chance to find some other way.

2. I don’t regret voting for Bush 2. I don’t agree with everything that we’re doing. I think that we’ve overstepped our boundaries. But I also think that he’s better than the other guy would have been. We’re already in Iraq. It sucks, but we’re there. One thing to remember is that, despite the number of soldiers that are being killed over there, hundreds of thousands of civilians who didn’t have the luxury of being born in the same clan as Saddam were slaughtered in the 80’s and 90’s. If we had gone this far in Gulf War 1, maybe we’d still be fighting these little gambits like we’re doing now, and maybe there would be the comparisons to Vietnam (since that was the first major war since Vietnam).

What I don’t completely agree with is our reasoning for getting into Gulf War 1. See, Kuwait was illegally stealing oil from Iraq in the years prior to Iraq invading their Richie-Rich nextdoor neighbor. Not too bright given Saddam’s whole human rights record and all. I don’t know if there was a right answer to this equation in the end. It’s better for Kuwait to have the oil, even if it was partly acquired by illegal means. Kuwait doesn’t “apparently” spend the cash on weapons or terrorism, just palaces, harems, and other crap, while ignoring such things like women’s rights. As long as they’re not a threat to us, who cares?

3. Bush 2 really, really talks to us like we’re babies, you know? I watched the whole speech earlier today, and if I’d have been playing the whole “Bush Generic Speech Terms” drinking game, I would have been under the table by minute #5. Missouri is the “Show Me” state, and I believe we’re the “Show Me” culture. Sorry G.W., but Johnson and Nixon ruined it for you. We need to know what progress we’re making, we can’t just trust you. I personally would “like” to trust you, but I can’t really do so when you talk to me like an idiot.

For starters, you have GOT to hire some better speech writers. And then, when it comes to the Q&A portion of the speeches, for crying out loud, learn how to tap-dance a little better. Clinton was AMAZING at the song and dance. True, he did get outfoxed a few times, but most people out there would have voted him in a 3rd term if it was legal, despite all the stuff going on in the Oval Office. That takes talent.

In the end, I guess I’m saying that for me to really back this guy, I’ve gotta hear something new. I could have hit “record” on a speech 16 months ago and gotten most of the same stuff that I got today. We need to know a little more particulars. Show us what we’ve done. Show us some cool maps with Statego-like pieces on them. There were TONS of those on the news during Gulf War 1. I know, we’re not in a focused war at the moment, but show us what areas are in trouble, and what areas are safe for kids to play in. I know there are farmers in the field, and that industry is slowly churning in many parts of the nation. But we just don’t see it. Buy a chunk of time on FOX and show us a detailed infomercial saying, “Here’s what we’ve done”.

I don’t expect miracles. With the infomercial, you’re only going to show one side of the story. I realize this, because that is the story of modern-day politics. But at least we could see that one side. Show us how the individual families are coping, or do a COPS-like episode, following one platoon of soliders for a few weeks. Show us some of the good that we’re doing over there. All we get are the filtered down stories in between the bullshit of John Mark Carr and Madonna’s adopted kid (on both FoxNews and CNN, mind you).

Just show us something, anything. Show us that we’re really doing something over there. Show us some comparisons. Show us the good, because it HAS to be better than it was under Saddam. You have to show us. We can’t be sold as easily as in generation’s past. We don’t trust our government much anymore. Win back our trust.

I so want to believe in the Presidency right now.

Colwill said…
I didn’t get a chance to get through the entire post. I am right now trying to catch up to your most recent items. I did want to mention, however, that a simple way to look at the pro-life and execution issues is this: If you are pro-life, you shouldn’t support the taking of a criminal’s life. A pro-life stance should be all encompassing, and not just for the areas where it is convenient for you.

7:50 AM

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Nice Quote

I don’t care a wit about the World Series, but I sorta liked this quote:

When asked what he thought of the possibility that his pitcher had used a foreign substance to alter the baseball’s personality, Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, “That’s yesterday’s breakfast. I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

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Quickest Opinion Piece You’ll Read Today

So what is Halloween is a “Pagan” holiday. So is Christmas you dolts. Rome just adopted it as the supposed “birthday of Christ” to shut up the Pagans that were celebrating the same holiday as a “Winter Festival”. Christ was most likely born in the spring to early summer, according to many Christian scholars. So shut up about it, or make up some other Christian holiday to celebrate in its place. Besides all that, it’s just a FUN FREAKING DAY. It’s harmless, and it won’t make you less of a Christian. How about you just become a Jehovah’s Witness and forget all holidays?

Jason Heath said…
Amen, brother. I am going to a Halloween party this year for the first time in about 10 years.

12:22 AM

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Baking Bread With the Previous Generation

Along the lines of Harm (see previous post), I started to think of a few other odds & ends from grade school. See…grade school is a little more pleasant to think about than the military. I’ll get to the mil-stories in due time. But let’s go back further for now.

In the 3rd or 4th grade (1984 or ’85), Irving Alternative Elementary School had a venture of sorts with the Senior Citizen’s Center in downtown Sioux Falls. A couple times a month they would have a field trip, where we would all walk the 5 or 6 blocks to the Senior Center, get paired up with a senior that we’d “adopt” for the day, and make some bread or some other activity. I think we only did this once or twice, now that I think about it…but at any rate, I got paired up with this guy named Clarence Rupp. I wish I remembered more about him, because I just don’t. All I know is that he must have made an impression on me, and I on him, because I was later invited to his house. I got to meet his wife as well as his two dogs, both poodles. The older of the two was a white mid-sized poodle with a respitory problem that Mrs. Rupp associated with having been fed table scraps too much. The other dog was a smaller black poodle who was more sociable, but not in your face about it. Good dog in other words.

I think a lot of the connection was because both of my grandpas had passed away before I really got to know them. Ironically, both died of lung cancer from smoking. My Grandpa Irvin (my Mom’s Pop) died from pipes and cigars, while my Grandpa Gordon (my Pa’s Pa) got it from rolled up cigarettes, via Prince Albert in a can (Let Him Out!). This alone kind of tells you about the economic diversity of the upbringing of my two parents, if you’re paying attention to the details of my ramblings.

Oh, by the way, this is about the only reason I’m not a smoker today. I had a LOT of opportunity in college, since I hung out with the theater crowd, and they would smoke like chimneys, that lot. I’m not saying I didn’t smoke anything in college, but as they said in South Park, there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college. I still got a Top Secret military clearance, even with me being honest about that history, so any potential employers reading this, I’m still an OK guy. Note that there’s a reason why I don’t list my last name anywhere on this blog, by the way. Not that it’s “too” hard to figure out who I am, but I figured I’d at least make it a little harder to find out. And it’s not because I have any sordid things I’m revealing. It’s just that certain things might be a little bit frowned upon in a certain light.

At least I don’t have a MySpace page.

Anyhow, Clarence…I still think about him from time to time. In fact, just about everytime I smell fresh honey bread, I think about him. I think about the fact that, back in the 3rd or 4th grade, I thought it was pointless to bake bread, because a doughnut tasted better, and you didn’t actually have to “make” it. I didn’t think about the fact that the process was just as important as the finished product, and that the baked bread was more “real” than a doughnut ever really could be.

I have a theory on this, and I’m going to sidetrack and then get back to the point. I think that, either through mental acuity or physical development, that children have a much different sense of “sweet” than adults do. I think that for children, sweet things don’t taste nearly as sweet as when adults taste the same item. I can’t hardly stomach a candy bar these days, let alone a regular soda. I drank a coke that was free with a meal supplied with my warehouse job recently, and I was absolutely ruined for the remainder of the day. I couldn’t think, could barely move. I drove home on the backroads due to my feeling a little worried about my reaction times, and went straight to bed.

By the same token, I think that certain flavors diminish over time. I think that as a kid, bitter tastes are much more acute, so a coffee becomes a much more desirable thing as one grows older. The bitter is more of an underlying theme rather than the tour-de-force, the thundering boom of the proud bass section of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago (circa 1998) as they rock through Rachmaninoff or some other composer’s piece that would make me look really musically educated right about now. (Thanks for that by the way Jason, what little education has hung on for dear life in my noggin.)

But Clarence…I only went to his and his wife’s apartment a few times. I think I probably got bored of him, when having a “grandpa” had already lost its novelty. I don’t know why, but at any rate, I didn’t see him for a few years. Then, a few years later, I happened to be in Cindy Osvog’s back seat as she was driving us kids back from some field trip out at the Minnehaha Recreation Area. I remember that trip, where we found some milkweed with a butterfly cocoon attached, and where a few months later I would spy a couple making out in the tall grasses. Pretty cool. However, on the way back from this trip, Cindy Osvog happened to be driving. She turned over her shoulder, and almost nonchalantly mentioned that Clarence Rupp had died the month before. I felt horrible, still do, although I didn’t show it at the time. I felt guilty about having not spent more time with the guy. I also had the slight morbid thought…I wondered who had gone first, him or the dog with the respitory problems. Well, I have a cluttered mind, and I don’t feel bad about the uncouth thoughts that sometimes drift to the top of the pile.

I’d love for this to have a more meloncollie feel to it, but I don’t feel it. I wonder what it would have been like if I’d have spent more time with Clarence, but I don’t stay awake at night thinking about it either. Time is a strange thing. I live in the past, because the present isn’t much fun. I love being married, that is one of the coolest things that exists in this world. But the nukes are getting dusted off, with old battle plans are having U.S.S.R. scribbled out to be replaced by North Korea. Actually, that’s a misnomer. We have plans (and have had these plans for years) on invading Canada. Canada of all places. Our good buddies to the north where the draft dodgers settled. I think that the L.A. Dodgers should move to Montreal. So instead of streetcar dodgers…yeah, enough already.

Back to my thought though. See, when people in my life die, they don’t really. My Grandma Hazel is still alive, she’s just at an out of the way nursing home in Sioux Falls that I don’t get to visit. Even though she died before the turn of the century, she’s still around. I have tons of memories of her, because growing up, my family lived in the basement of her huge house in Sioux Falls. My Mom would take care of her, pay her a reduced rent, and we got to live there. So I have plenty of memories of her, usually of the theme from The Young And The Restless blaring through the floor to reach her deafened ears as I lazed my summer away on the couch, watching TV. But she’s still living somewhere in Sioux Falls, I just don’t ever get a chance to go see her. I have a picture of her on my desk in fact, the only picture I have on the desk. The glass on the frame was long since destroyed in one of my many moves, but she still looks back with the trademark Riley grin that many of my aunts share.

To Clarence again though…I’ve never visited his grave. I don’t even know when he died for sure, or what happened to his wife. I never read the obituary, and I don’t know where he’s buried. But I think of him at least monthly. And it’s usually with the smell of baking bread.

I suppose that’s it. I wish you well in your memory travels. Mine serve me well.

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Harm

I just want to throw out one more post tonight. We’re going to the Way Back When, back in Mrs. Brady’s classroom again. Harm was this old fella that Mrs. Brady invited to class, so he could talk to all of us 6th graders. He would talk on and on and ON about…well, I have no idea what he talked about. It’s not important to this post, at the very least. But the one thing I remember about him, besides the fact that he was like a million years old or so, was the fact that he used to “Um” a lot. I mean, a LOT. So much that the only way a group of us could survive was to start tallying the Um’s. Which actually made it into a game, and probably improved our chances of actually listening in the end. See, in our little group, we’d compare tallies and whoever got the highest number was the “winner” of sorts. We were all losers because not only were we trapped in the class with a very boring talker, but we were also mean enough to make a game out of some old dude’s debilitation. But hell, we were like 10 years old or so. Besides, it taught me how to make a game out of completely mindless and mundane activities, something I still do to this day. Like how I circle my little ink station every 7-8 minutes (8 times an hour), making about 35-50 steps in doing so, and straightening exactly one item with every lap. If I get a customer, I “save up” my laps until I have a period of time when I have no customers. And to keep track of my “place”, I take a post-it note, make a design like a spiral, and scribble in a piece of it out every step of the way. Sometimes I just cut off a piece of the post-it note, depends on my mood and/or destructive tendencies.
Now, this might seem like goofing off. It isn’t, because through the course of this, I pull myself out of the mundane-ness that is my job in the slow times. I keep my head, and am more aware of my surroundings. But also, by doing an activity like a lap along with straightening something on every lap, I am constantly straightening my area. I consider my area to be faced the best of any area in the entire store, something I actually take a lot of pride in.

All because of a guy named Harm. God rest his soul, because he surely kicked the bucket by now.

Jason Heath said…
I’m loving the blog, man. It is probably the only blog I check every day. Your writing is really great. I’m gonna put you on my blogroll on my bass page–I’ve been meaning to do it, but I keep getting distracted. Here I go… whee….

1:21 AM
Jason Heath said…
I remember Harm like it was yesterday. I too had marks up and down my folders counting the Ums.

1:32 AM

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Treat Yer Woman Right

Man, you know what really grinds my gears? (To those who watch Family Guy, that was for you.) Women. You gotta treat your woman right. I had two co-workers, just today, treat their women like C-R-A-P. One of the guys’ wife called the store, and he refused to talk to her. Just refused. She was apparently crying on the phone when he relented, talked for MAYBE a minute, then hung up in a huff.

In the other case, the guy’s wife was waiting to pick him up in the no-parking zone in front of the store. One of the customers was backing up, didn’t see her, and dented her car. When my co-worker found out, he started ranting and raving, “When, for the love of God, will she learn how to park a freaking car?!?” When his wife finally came into the store to talk to him, he started to verbally berate her in front of all the employees.

Now, at this point all of the customers were gone except for the guy involved in the accident, so at least it wasn’t in front of many customers. But a guy NEVER berates his woman in front of ANYONE. Cardinal rule. Here’s some more.

I don’t care if your woman “was” in the wrong. You side with her, end of story. Especially if it’s between her and her Mom. You might love her Mom, you might completely trust her Mom, but you will never side with her over your woman. End of story.

Now, granted, your woman might be wrong. You support her, and you also try to get her to see other sides of the story. But you still support her. You’ve GOT to.

Note that I say, “Your Woman” as if she’s your property. Well, she is. You own that. But your woman also owns you. If she’s really “your Woman” and you’re really “her Man”, it becomes more like you owning your own body than you owning something external from yourself. When you enter into a serious relationship, you give up some of yourself to make the whole thing work, and she does the same. Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work to be healthy. I’ve had relationships where the other party gave up all of themselves, and I’ve had some where they gave up almost none of themselves. Without that middle ground, I couldn’t stay in the relationships for very long.

I just passed my 5th year anniversary of dating Sarah, my wife. It’s strange to think about, having been that long. It’s a good chunk of a guy’s life. And we haven’t killed each other yet, that’s the cool part.

After I got off work tonight (having had to stay until the accident stuff was taken care of), I drove over to where Sarah works. She works retail like I do, and I found her behind one of the cash registers. I told her, “I need to give you a hug. It’s either going to be here or in back quick. Where’s it going to be?” It was in back, by the way.

I’m not going to delve in too far into Sarah’s personal life like this. This is my blog, and not a forum to air dirty laundry. But I felt so deeply about the treatment of wives today that I had to get that feeling that can only come from a good hug.

Sappy, yeah. But it’s important to me. It should be to you. I think the world would be better off if we’d just treat each other better and get over the fact that we think everyone is different, regardless of gender, race, religion, or whatever. We’re all going through this same thing called Life. Some have it much better than others. We bitch about gas, economy, and having a low-definition TV. But we are so filthy rich. We are so ungodly wealthy that it is simply unbelievable to the peoples that don’t have the cash. We have so, so, SO much stuff. We have SO much food. We have SO much freedom. Regardless of all that’s happening in the world, we are SO LUCKY.

So why do we have to treat our women like crap? We shouldn’t. By the same token, they better not treat us like crap either. No self-respecting Man should allow that. Respect is what it all comes down to.

I’m tired…that’s four whole postings in one night. Goodnight all, and be safe.

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Blunderschplickt

This is my word: Blunderschplickt. It basically means doofus, or waste of space. I call myself this when I realize I’m being selfish, not paying attention to what I’m doing, or generally being an asshole. Blunderschplickt is a little bit more polite however.

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Eyes Closed

I have a habit, a relief of overall boredom really. See, I like to walk distances without opening my eyes. I got into this habit when I was a little kid. My brother and I would play this game of trying to walk through our house without the lights on, and see if we could make it from the living room to bed without killing ourselves (or our knees). I play this game to this day, except it’s not much of a challenge in a small apartment. So, I play this game in Target. It’s late at night, I’m tired from working a full day (or two full days if I had to work both jobs). My eyes are tired, and there’s not many people in the store. Unlike stores when I was a little kid, the thoroughfares of modern stores tend to be huge. Without many people around, and I look around once more to make sure, I close my eyes and start to walk. I count steps, counting up from 1 to 15, just to see if I have the balls to keep my eyes shut. Usually I stop around step 7 or 8, paranoid that someone’s looking in my direction. But then I remember that, unlike what we’re told from an early age, pretty much everyone in the world does not give a shit about you. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Unless you’re doing something really interesting, nobody cares. But wait, this is a good thing. Because you can do things like close your eyes and walk, or turn on all of the tickle-me-elmo dolls in a big stack to get the whole thing shaking, or set a bunch of alarm clocks to go off at a particular time, or other childish things, and even though someone might rise out of their malaise to notice you for a moment, chances are pretty dang great that they will NOT remember you in a year. Or even a week. Or probably an hour. You will just cease to exist in their consciousness.

By the way, my record is in the 40’s, but that’s only because I was crossing a parking lot to get to my car. Just thought I’d let you know before you forget about me.

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ILAAC

Why is it that I felt more like a grown up in the 6th grade than I did in college? Must be a confidence issue.

Back in the 6th grade, in Mrs. Janet Brady’s class, we had this teaching once about the Ilaac. We didn’t know what it was, but she wrote “ILAAC” in big letters on a sheet of construction paper. Curiouser and curiouser. In front of the class, in Mrs. Brady’s almost dottering way, she explained the Ilaac.

See, whenever someone hurt your feelings, you tore off a piece of the Ilaac. Whenever you hurt someone else, you tore off another piece. The Ilaac was actually an undefined element, a sort of combination of your conscience, your self esteem, and your reincarnated soul. (I’ll get to my theory on the reincarnated soul in a moment). The Ilaac was eventually renewed at the end of the day. In fact, you could tape pieces of it back on as things went your way, or as you would help out those who needed the help. But the scar of having a piece of your Ilaac removed from the whole was always there, until the next day when you could make up an entirely new Ilaac.

The reincarnated soul theory is from the belief that we are a continuously living soul, being reincarnated from life to life. The connection to the Ilaac is that…well, imagine your soul is a balloon. You just sorta float there in existence. In the beginning of your time, when your soul was born, you floated half-way between Nirvana and Nothing. Nirvana was defined to me as a connection with creation and the universe. It is knowing all, being all. Sorta like becoming one with God, unlike Heaven, where you become close to God, but don’t really become part of Him. At the other end of the spectrum is Nothing, meaning you just cease. That’s it, no Hell, just…poof. You ain’t.

Well, as your soul-balloon floats, imagine you can actually see the balloon. Looking closer, you notice that there’s smudges on the balloon. They’re sort of a lead paint, heavy and opaque. They not only make the balloon darker, but they also weigh it down. You start off with a bunch of this paint on the balloon, only so much to keep it right between Nirvana and Nothing. However, as you do good deeds, are nice to people, pet a kitten, etc., little bits of that lead paint flake off and fall down into Nothing. As this happens, the balloon starts to rise up, a little closer to Nirvana. However, as you do bad deeds, like kick the cat, cut off someone in traffic, or steal a candy bar from the office’s snack fund, you find that the paint on the balloon magically spreads, and it weighs down the balloon a little, forcing it to sink a little closer to Nothing.

So, back to the Ilaac. The Ilaac reacts not only to outside stimuli, but also to the forces you exert on your environment. If you’re helpful, you yourself will be helped by a repairing Ilaac.

What reminded me of the Ilaac…I have no idea. I work part-time at Office Depot. The main reason I got a job there was to help pay for the wedding (which is over with, a month plus ago). I keep the job because it’s great therapy for a complete introvert. However, there was one vicious customer a few weeks ago who was trying to return some stuff without a receipt, things that had obviously been used by them, and had probably been shoplifted in the first place. Well, I had to stand my ground, where I got ripped up one side, down the other. Even when a manager got involved, I was still the guiding force of the conversation somehow, and I continued to get ripped until the stupid customer with no life left the store in a huff. Well, I turned and said to the manager in a tired voice, “Man, she just ripped the crap out of my Ilaac.” And my manager just gave me a strange look, patted me on the shoulder, and moved on.

Well, enough of this story. I have 2 other entries I want to leave. Thanks for reading. -A

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Yet another article: Warcraft

warcraft article
This is an article from an ex-Guild Leader in World of Warcraft, and why he decided to leave the game. He was 60th level, had played 70+ days (of real time) over the course of a year, and had seen about all there is to see in the game. His story supports my wish to never, never, ever play this game, because it would ruin my “real” life.

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Lost article

A great article for Lost, my favorite show.

(Note: here’s the text in case the original page dies:)

‘Lost’ producers dish on show’s secrets
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

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ABCNews

(10/17/06) — In anticipation of the third season of “Lost,” ABC News Senior National Correspondent Jake Tapper sat down with executive producers and writers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse to talk about the show, the mythologies, and its place in TV history.

What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.

Tune into “Nightline” tonight at 11:35 ET to watch Tapper’s interview with the writers and producers of “Lost.”

JAKE TAPPER: Why do you think “Lost” became such a phenomenon?

CARLTON CUSE: We don’t know. We set out to make a show that we thought was cool for us, and you can’t really predict when that’s going to catch fire with the public. But I think that in making a show that was something that we all enjoyed, we violated a lot of rules of television. We have a large and sprawling cast, we have characters who are inherently unsympathetic — there are murderers — we have complicated storylines. Those are all things that intrigued us as storytellers, and I think made the show feel different than other things that have been on the air. And so I think by pleasing ourselves, we ended up creating a show that was a little bit different than things that had come before it.

DAMON LINDELOF: When the show came along, the climate of television was made up of procedural dramas, which were great but at the same time you knew what was going to happen next week. And we all loved the idea of going into this territory where anything could happen. And that sort of started to create a buzz and make the audience perk up and say, “Wow, I have to watch this thing.”

TAPPER: J.J., you didn’t even originally want work on the show, right?

J.J. ABRAMS: Well, it’s not that I didn’t want to do it, but I got a phone call from Lloyd Braun who at the time was head of ABC and he said, “I want to do a show about people who survive a plane crash.” And I thought I could see that as a movie, but I didn’t understand what that would be beyond the immediate aftermath.

And I started to think about it. I started to have some ideas. I called him back, and I said, “You’re not going to want to do this version of it.” But I pitched a version where the island wasn’t just an island. And I thought it was a little weirder than what they would want, but he said, “No, I love that. Do that show.”

So Damon Lindelof walked in. And we had this great first meeting and it was so exciting. We had an outline written within five days, turned it in, Lloyd called on that Saturday and said, “We’re green-lighting this pilot.” And we had no script. We had an outline, and we had like 11 weeks to write it, cast it, shoot it, post it, deliver it and this is a two-hour pilot. It’s not that I didn’t want to do it. It just seemed unrealistic.

TAPPER: In the original pilot, you killed off main character and hero Jack Shephard, played by Matthew Fox. How big a fight was this between you guys and ABC about whether or not you would kill him off. Obviously you lost the argument.

LINDELOF: Well, it wasn’t really a fight at first. In fact, in the outline that we delivered, they signed off on the fact that Jack would die. It wasn’t until we delivered the script and we had a meeting in response to the script that certain parties basically said, “Look, you spent half of the show making us fall in love with this doctor character and then you kill him off.” And we’re like, “That’s the brilliance of it! It’s psycho! Anything can happen on the show!”

And they said, “We want you to at least consider not doing it.” There was no ultimatum, but we started having conversations amongst ourselves saying like, “All right. This obviously will radically affect the second half of the pilot that we’ve written but they sort of do have a point.”

ABRAMS: This was the consensus that we were hearing, and I still wasn’t convinced because I loved doing something that was so crazy and dramatic. And then I showed the script to Greg Grunberg, who is my oldest friend, from kindergarten, and he’s an actor who was in “Felicity” and he was in “Alias.” And I showed him the script, and he read it and he called back and he said that he loved the script except he was furious at us that we killed this character. So I ended up casting Greg as the pilot who gets killed. I killed Greg instead.

TAPPER: And in terms of wanting to break all the rules, is that because of a certain boredom with the kind of predictable product that is churned out in Hollywood?

LINDELOF: The short answer is the show demanded that you broke all the rules. The beauty of a people stranded on an island show is it forces you to have to think outside the box in terms of generating story. We certainly approached the pilot and people watched the pilot and would say how is this show going to go anywhere? How is it going to sustain? How are you guys going to do Episode No. 5 let alone Episode No. 50, which we’re up to now. The answer is we don’t know. But every week is a new adventure and that is what forces you to break rules. You have to do things that you normally wouldn’t do. With 16 main characters, you have to go off the island via flashback, you have to have weird things happen to them.

CUSE: The expectation that the network had at the beginning of the show was that this was way too large for a network cast and we’d have to kill some of these people off and then we’d be down to our normal seven or eight characters — which is sort of the normal network-show paradigm. But the characters were all so good and the audience loved them all so much that it quickly became apparent that that was not going to be viable, it was not going to be a situation where you could suddenly reduce this cast to eight people.

ABRAMS: When we wrote the pilot and we were making it, it was just conventional wisdom that there was no way this was going to work. And we kept getting these calls: “You have to shoot an ending so we can air this as a movie.” And we asked, “Well, what’s the end? How do you end it?” It’s sort of the beginning of something. We didn’t know how to wrap it up. How do you do it?

TAPPER: The SS Minnow pulls up?

ABRAMS: Yes, and the Harlem Globetrotters show up and they’re like, “What’s up?” But I do think that the reality is that you look at what the show was when we were doing it and it did go against, what people believed was viable television. The cast was enormous, serialized storytelling — I mean serialization in itself was sort of verboten in network television. It was a genre show.

CUSE: And characters who were unsympathetic leads who would murder people. … You go to a network executive and say, “You know what, you’re going to love this girl. She’s a fugitive and she actually blew her father up and killed him!” Or, “This other guy was a con man and his desire was to basically kill the guy who killed his parents but he actually killed somebody else instead!” But those became the characters that we know and love on the show and that, again, was something which was really in violation of normal network storytelling rules.

TAPPER: Do you think that the fact that the show is nonlinear and has such complicated storylines shows that the American people are smarter than Hollywood often gives them credit for?

LINDELOF: I think it’s not just the American people but it’s the worldwide audience.

CUSE: It’s the Dutch people, too.

LINDELOF: It’s the Dutch especially.

TAPPER: Let’s not forget the Dutch.

LINDELOF: I think that if you tell compelling stories, people will totally dial in. I don’t think there is an estimation that the American audience isn’t savvy enough, it’s that they’re impatient. And I think that this show and many other serialized shows that have have come in the wake of this show have proven that people will wait a week, they will dial in the characters, they will interact on the Internet when the show is not on in an effort to sort of keep abreast of things. The viewing audience is very intelligent. Those procedural shows are who-done-its. You present a mystery in the beginning of the show — somebody’s been murdered — by the end of the show you reveal who did it and why. And the audience at home wants to play along and figure it out. Our show is the same thing. We present a mystery, but you have to wait 17 or 18 episodes to get the answer to that mystery.

TAPPER: Or more than that.

ABRAMS: The flashback element is one of my favorite things about the show. And in theory you think, “Well, it’s a flashback so it’s not affecting the present-day story, therefore is it relevant?” I’m a huge fan of the “Twilight Zone,” and I love tuning into a show and not knowing exactly what you’re going to get every week — it’s sort of having a little surprise. It’s a current network sort of no-no that you don’t have an anthology, you have to have characters you’re following every single week. But “Lost” allows us to kind of sneak in an anthology element into a series, which is: You don’t know exactly who you are going to be following every week, and you have no idea where they are going to take you. The flashbacks are sort of a minipuzzle within each episode — what that means or why that little plane is so important to her.

TAPPER: Why is that little plane so important?

LINDELOF: Well.

ABRAMS: You don’t have one of those planes?

TAPPER: Is there really a reason for everything in there, or sometimes are you guys just having fun and throwing in little things? The books that Sawyer is reading on the beach, whether it’s “A Wrinkle in Time” or “Watership Down.” The little plane Kate killed for. Jack’s father’s name is Christian Shephard. Does everything have a reason?

CUSE: Most things have a reason. Some things we just throw in there. Some things we throw in there sort of self-referentially. We’ll do things in the show that acknowledge people’s theories about the show.

TAPPER: Like what?

CUSE: The book “Incident at Owl Creek” we put in as a shout to people who are theorizing that this whole show was taking place in someone’s mind in the last moments of their life. Sometimes a plane is just a plane, but most times we think these things through, they have meaning and they are part of our mythology of the show.

TAPPER: There was a lot of theorizing that the show takes place in purgatory. You guys just came out and said that’s not the case, this is not purgatory. Why did you feel the need to do that?

LINDELOF: I blame [M.] Night Shyamalan primarily, but the sort of greatest genre twist of all time is always — and you see this re-occurring in popular fiction for the last 125 years — is that the lead character is dead and doesn’t know he’s dead. So that consciousness was really rolling, and then “The Sixth Sense” came along and it surprised people again. But then every time there was a movie that had a twist ending, the audience started anticipating that.

In the third episode Jack and Kate are sitting on the beach, and he turns to her and he says, “We’re all dead. It doesn’t matter what happened before. We all get a change to start over.” And that started feeding this frenzy of, “Oh, wait a minute. They’re all dead. He meant it literally. They’re all in purgatory.” So we felt like we had to get out in front it and say that’s not going on because in a way that sort of takes the stakes out of the show. So if Boone dies or Shannon dies are they just deader than the rest of everybody else.

ABRAMS: They’re a little more dead.

LINDELOF: The stakes of life and death don’t exist if everybody is already dead.

CUSE: We actually dispelled two theories, the purgatory theory and “This whole show is taking place in a snow globe” theory. And we did it.

TAPPER: From the last episode of “St. Elsewhere.”

CUSE: It was to eliminate the audience’s fear that it was going to be a cheat, that they would invest all this time and energy and that there wouldn’t be a real ending. There would be one of these short of shaggy dog endings.

ABRAMS: But we’re not debunking the theory that Suzanne Pleshette will arrive in the last episode.

Lessons of ‘The X-Files’

TAPPER: Two other mythology shows that were successful and then failed in a way, shows I was a fan of, were “Twin Peaks” and “The X-Files. ” Both of them started out really strong, were compelling. They were mysteries, and they both ultimately — “Twin Peaks” faster than “X-Files.”

LINDELOF: Much faster.

TAPPER: Much faster — failed. “X-Files” creator Chris Carter has said in print as a warning to you guys, “There are pitfalls. If you fall into one of those pitfalls, you will fall.” What lessons do you take from those shows?

CUSE: Certainly “Twin Peaks” was a cautionary tale in terms of basically frustrating an audience by never giving any answers and/or by also focusing on one central mystery and putting so much emphasis on that mystery that once that mystery is solved — in that case “Who killed Laura Palmer?” — then everyone’s interest in the show goes away.

We looked at “Twin Peaks” as a model of what not to do in terms of stringing the audience along. So if you look over the course of the first season of the show, questions that you might not expect to get answered are answered. You know: “What is the source of this radio transmission?” All of a sudden you meet the French woman. If you were to go back to the pilot and look at what the mysteries were that were posed by the pilot, a lot of those questions have really been answered.

LINDELOF: To look at “The X-Files” as a failure — the show was on for nine years.

TAPPER: I don’t mean to say it’s a failure but it was very …

LINDELOF: Why do you hate “The X-Files”?

ABRAMS: Yes, what did “The X-Files” do to you?

TAPPER: I loved “The X-Files.” It was appointment viewing for me, and then I stopped watching.

LINDELOF: There is a point that no writer or producer knows where, when the story becomes too long. And once you’ve crossed over that line, you look back and say, “Oh, no. I should have ended it before I got into this zone where it becomes too long.” But the pragmatic reality of the network television business is we don’t own the show. We don’t get to decide when the show ends. If we lived in a world where Chris Carter could say to his masters at Fox, “I want to end the show after five seasons,” then you could point the finger and say, “Shame on you.” But the lesson to be learned is the lesson of the inevitable, and we’re in the same boat. People will continue to watch “Lost” as long as it’s great. They’ll stop watching it when it is no longer great. And it will no longer be great when it’s been going on too long. So there is almost an inevitable moment that will occur when the show should have ended and didn’t.

TAPPER: J.J., there’s obviously the “Twin Peaks” lesson. Is there an “X-Files” lesson?

ABRAMS: That show took turns that were, given the cast and cast changes — by the end of the show the people who you’ve been watching weren’t on the show. It had become a very different show in a lot of ways. And what Damon said is right, there is an economic reality. This is product to a company as much as it is to us a purely creative endeavor. So the question is how do you navigate those waters? When you look at any series on television — “X-Files” and “Twin Peaks” are two examples — when does a show end well? I mean it happens, there are examples you can point to, but it’s infrequent. I mean I think it’s the anomaly. We hope it happens in our case but in the meantime we’re just doing the best we can to keep the show as good as it can be.

Killing Off the Characters

TAPPER: Let’s talk about the decision to kill characters, because you were talking about Josh Holloway who plays Sawyer, being contracted for six seasons.

ABRAMS: As are they all.

TAPPER: You killed off characters in the first season and you killed off characters in the second season. Is that difficult to do?

ABRAMS: It’s always difficult to make an adjustment in the cast of a show. On a show like “Lost,” in particular, it’s a weird thing because there’s sort of a mandate that the island not be a safe place. You can’t go through a season and not have some loss of life.

We don’t do the “Star Trek,” where it’s like the “red shirts” are there — which we’ve made references to in the show — where every time there is someone in a red shirt you knew that that person was going to be offed.

But people started to expect, that one of our characters was going to die every week. And so the trick I think is to make sure that it doesn’t seem like, “Oh, well. We haven’t killed someone off for a while we have to do it now.” It has got to come out of the story.

Last season, the thing about killing Ana Lucia and Libby was that while it was shocking that Ana Lucia died, for me the stroke of genius was that then Michael turned and he shot Libby, too. And it was just so horrifying and so unexpected. What people forget is that there are these vulnerabilities on this island.

TAPPER: Of the four major characters that have died not one of them has been killed by The Others.

CUSE: Right.

TAPPER: Boone was in an accident…

ABRAMS: Right.

TAPPER: Shannon dies from Ana Lucia and Michael kills Ana Lucia and Libby.

ABRAMS: Right.

LINDELOF: Right.

CUSE: There’s a lot of friendly fire problems.

TAPPER: Right.

CUSE: We basically don’t want anybody to feel safe. One of the rules of conventional television is you watch a show and if you see somebody put a gun to Billy Petersen’s head on “CSI” you know he’s not going to get killed, he’s the star of that show. By killing characters it really allows the audience to really feel invested in moments of tension and danger because you really don’t know on our show whether characters are going to live or die.

TAPPER: It’s weird because Shannon had been redeemed. Shannon had become a better person and had found love with Sayid.

ABRAMS: Exactly, yes.

CUSE: Which, therefore, made her death all the more poignant.

LINDELOF: Right.

CUSE: That was clearly intentional. We try to set up characters and then get you to bite on a certain stereotype or a certain kind of judgment that you might make about this character and then try to kind of completely reverse field on that.

Lost Through Post-9/11 Eyes

TAPPER: In no small way it struck me that Jack, an essentially decent person, was put in a situation where he was willing to make compromises for the greater good. How much is it fair to look at “Lost” through post-9/11 eyes?

CUSE: There are definitely similarities. They’re in a jungle and anything can come out of that jungle at any time and cause them harm. There’s this kind of pervading sense of fear that kind of hangs over the characters in the show. And whenever they are trekking someplace you don’t know what actually is going to befall them. It’s nothing that consciously sit around and talk about. But I think all of us exist and live in a post-9/11 world so it can’t help but inform us as writers because we live and feel the same things that everyone else does in a world post-9/11.

LINDELOF: When we were first working on the pilot, the idea that it was going to start with a plane crash and that all throughout the first 10 or so episodes of the show there are just shattered pieces of the plane all around — people started to process that 9/11 metaphor without it being intentional at all.

ABRAMS: These questions had come up. But it wasn’t until we got to the set the first day and saw this airplane — we had taken an airplane and shipped it to Hawaii and we’d built this set but it was a real plane — that it was so depressing and it was so numbing to see this plane there. It was a very interesting thing that that reality of not just a plane crash but, you know, but 9/11 itself there — it wasn’t theoretical anymore. I actually sort of felt it more that first day that I was on the set than I had before.

LINDELOF: There was a scene in season one where they’ve been getting attacked by The Others and Locke comes out on the beach and he’s saying, “We’ve been attacked by these people, sabotaged by these people, we need to stop worrying about attacking each other and we have to start worrying about them.” And I remember watching that scene in dailies for the first time and going, “Oh, wait a minute!” That was the first moment where from the inside looking out I suddenly realized that — it wasn’t intentional but at the same time very similar things were being said on Fox News.

And I thought that we were going to get now accused of doing the big political statement. The whole idea of sort of al Qaeda — the invisible enemy, they hate us but we don’t know why, but then when you look at things from their point of view you begin to sort of look at things in an entirely different way — that parable started playing out on the show.

TAPPER: You have a scene where an Iraqi tortures a southern American guy.

CUSE: Yes.

LINDELOF: And you’re rooting for the Iraqi. And you see the Iraqi character, Sayid, struggling with this decision to do it but he realizes that if he doesn’t, that the life of another castaway is in jeopardy. And Matthew Fox is endorsing this activity. So by the time the torture begins you actually have completely flipped and the American audience is saying, “I can’t believe how belligerent this American character is and I’m rooting for the Iraqi character.”

CUSE: This is a theme we’re very much exploring in season three, this notion of “us versus them.” And who is us? And who is them? I mean I think we all tend to objectify people who we don’t know much about and I think that’s the audience’s view of The Others right now — they are bad, they are the malevolent force on the island. But over the course of the stories we’re going to be telling this season on the show we expect the audience’s view of The Others to change a lot.

All Those Theories

TAPPER: Before this interview, we were all going through one of these unauthorized “Lost” books. It must be amusing to see some of the theories out there that haven’t even occurred. You were talking about the “2009 theory” that was in this book, this theory that everything is really taking place in 2009. And you said, “They’re looking at bad props” because some things had been mislabeled Is it fun to see all this stuff on the Internet, all this speculation?

CUSE: It’s insane the amount of time that people put into the show and spend thinking about it and theorizing about it. There are people who spend more time thinking about “Lost” than we spend thinking about “Lost.” And we spent a lot of time thinking about “Lost.” There are a lot of people out there that are a lot smarter than us, in terms of how they’ve connected this to other things in popular and classical literature. They’ve picked out antecedents and things that maybe we saw sometime but aren’t consciously part of our creative process.

ABRAMS: You know we are so grateful for the people who watch the show, care enough to write about it, and read about it. But I don’t think you have to be one of those people who, you know, have theory upon theory to enjoy the show. I think it is ultimately a character show and you have to be careful you don’t start serving the wrong master where it doesn’t become about trying to sort of make a show that’s all about hidden meaning. There’s certain point that can become a distraction and sort of lead you down the wrong path.

TAPPER: I was amazed to find out in my research that the incomprehensible whispers of The Others are actual lines you’ve written — people actually saying things and viewers are downloading and listening carefully over and over and over and deciphering what they’re saying. Or that when Walt appeared as an apparition to Shannon he said something that if you play it backwards Beatles style, you could hear what he was saying.

CUSE: He’s saying: “Watch ‘Nightline.”

TAPPER: I wondered why our ratings were up.

Boba Fett

TAPPER: And then obviously you have this elaborate Internet campaign that you guys have been working on over the summer where you’re dropping clues and you’re hosting Web sites with all these side stories and various clues. Is that part of it fun? Or is it a distraction, like J.J. says?

CUSE: It’s fun as a writer and as a show creator to experience what it’s like to work in new media platforms. We’re at a time when television is changing radically when you can watch an episode of “Lost” if you miss it, you can go to ABC.com and watch it streamed the next day or you can download it onto your iPod. It’s fundamentally changing people’s perceptions of what television is. And I think for us it’s been an interesting crater of exploration to contemplate mobisodes — little episodes of “Lost” that will be on your cell phone — or to do this Internet experience where we’re telling stories that are on the Internet that would never go onto the show.

I mean all the details of the Hanso Foundation and Dharma Initiative would just basically cloud up the brains of most of the people who watch the show but there is a hardcore group of people who love a mythology of the show and they want to see that stuff.

LINDELOF : I remember when I was a kid there was a “Star Wars” holiday special which was sort of — do you remember that?

CUSE: I remember; with the Wookies.

LINDELOF: Yes, with the Wookies. And it was otherwise completely forgettable. It was like Bea Arthur and Art Carney were like guest stars on it. But you were so hungry for new Star Wars content between “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back.” And there was a Boba Fett cartoon that was in the special —

ABRAMS: And he became just the thing.

LINDELOF: It was just a cartoon about this guy named Boba Fett who was a bounty hunter. And you’re like, “What does this mean?” And you had to wait before “The Empire Strikes Back” came out and then here is this guy Boba Fett who was introduced in a row of other dudes. And the audience was like, “I know that guy, I’ve seen one of his adventures before.” And the fact that there was a platform, whether it was on a holiday special or not, to actually go deeper on the show.

ABRAMS: I thought you were going to go the other direction on the point which was that because of the quality of that special —

TAPPER: Yeah, it was pretty bad.

ABRAMS: — that you ought to be careful that you’re not making the Thanksgiving Star Wars special. As a fan you’re so excited to kind of see something that someone else might not, but on the other hand you want to make sure that the way you learn that information is of a certain quality.

CUSE: That’s why we canceled the Lost Christmas Talent Show.

LINDELOF: I guess now would be a bad time to tell you that Bea Arthur is in Episode #4 of Season Three. Going to be a leader of The Others.

How Will It All End?

TAPPER: Do you have in your minds an endgame, where the show ends, what happens? Is it all sketched out that broadly?

LINDELOF: Absolutely. I mean when we first started talking about the show in that — in that very first meeting we talked about, you know, OK, everyone was saying what would season two look like, what would season three look like, what would season four look like? And we started having those conversations and obviously that conversation ended with “and here’s where the show ends.” This would be theoretically what the last episode of the show would be. But the reality is you’re sorting running a race, a marathon, where no one has told you where the finish line is. So your plan at how how you’re going to feel and how you’re going to finish when you cross mile 26 changes because when you’re passing the nine mile marker someone tells you the marathon has been extended to 40 miles.

So what our original ending is hopefully is going to still be in play. But the reality is the characters who were involved in that ending and what happens on the island might change as a result of external factors. God forbid, Josh Holloway decided to leave the show after six seasons, which is what he’s contracted for. If that were to happen, we as writers would have to change our minds about certain story directions that we’re taking. But the kind of conceptual idea of the ending is in place.

But it’s a very organic process. We feed off of what we see so you see a character like Desmond all of a sudden he becomes a regular in Season Three as does Michael Emerson who played Henry Gale because they were both so incredible and so wonderful that we ended up deciding that we were going to tell more stories with them than we had originally planned. We always are listening to what the show is telling us it wants us to do. We are not the masters. We are in concert with all these other forces in trying to guide the show. But the show has its own ideas about where it wants to go.

TAPPER: Does the show talk to you?

CUSE: The show does, it talks to me often but I’m medicating and that helps a lot.

ABRAMS: It’s been talking to me this entire time and it’s telling me to kill you.

TAPPER: So Desmond and Henry Gale are happy accidents, characters that you didn’t initially mean to become major characters.

LINELOF: For Henry Gale, we knew that they were going to capture an Other. We knew that he was going to pretend to be someone else. And the idea was that after two episodes we would find out that he was lying and he would escape. But as soon as we cast Michael Emerson and saw the first dailies of him we said, “All right, this two-episode plan just became a seven-episode plan.”

And then it was like we’ll bounce him off Locke, we’ll bounce him off Eko, we’ll bounce him off Jack, he’ll begin to manipulate them. And it was like it all became incredibly compelling television just by virtue of the actor that we had cast.

CUSE: And the same thing was true with Desmond. There was a plan for Desmond and Desmond has sort of an arc throughout the overall mythology of the show. But we fell in love with Henry Ian Cusick and we loved what he was doing and we just wanted to tell more of his story as storytellers. So we just sort of expanded the amount of Desmond’s story that became a part of the world of “Lost.”

TAPPER: What hasn’t been such a happy accident?
(Copyright ©2014 ABC News Internet Ventures.)

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Obituary for an alright guy

Jed was a guy I went to grade school with. I probably haven’t seen him for 15+ years, but he’s the brother of a friend of my brother’s. I hate to hear that he’s gone.
Jed

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Sunshines Moonbeams Skylights Towers

I’m trying to find the 4 books listed in the title of this post. They are 4 levels of books from my grade school reading curriculum, starting when I was probably in the 2nd grade. I’ve been getting little flashes of the stories at strange and almost random times lately, and I’m not sure why. I feel I should find the books to see if there’s something I should know.

This reminds me of a very early experience I had, and it’s something that leads me to believe that either past lives exist, or that you can get residual memories from people who have lived or simply been to an area before. The memory I have concerns an old schoolhouse on my stepbrother Chad’s farm, which used to be the family farm, near Salem, South Dakota. (See? Didn’t I warn you about the run-on sentences?) I have a memory connected either to the schoolhouse (which is now just a foundation, the house long since destroyed), or a schoolhouse like it. I remember walking with my mom, my hand reaching way up to grab hers. I must have been 3 years old. I remember the wooden slat floor, like a gym floor, but the slats were wider. I was wearing a sort of cap on my head, and some cuorderoy jacket. It was cold in the schoolhouse, probably in the 50’s. I was walking with her, down the middle aisle, with desks lined on either side. The desks were old fashioned, wood and metal monsters, taller than I was. I remember seeing the chalk board, unable to read what was written there. I wanted to go home, but I knew better than to talk back, even at this stage in the game. I just remember walking to the front with my Mom, and her talking to the teacher, then walking out of the schoolhouse.

The thing is, the Mom in the memory is not my Mom. This woman was rail thin, almost like my mother’s Mom than my own. But this woman was My Mom in the memory. And it’s either a genuine memory or a really good fabrication. I remember the musty, stale smell in the room, like old leaves that have been sitting in the corner, mixed with chalk-dust and people-dust. It’s a true memory, but it might not be mine.

Well…I’m going to try and find those books now. My phone is ringing like I’m AT&T, so I should run. Thanks for reading.

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Reading a Good Book

I’m reading “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” by John le Carre, a great cold war spy story, or what happens when an old spy has screwed up and is dumped by the agency. But I find that lately I don’t have the attention span to read books much at all. I used to be able to when I was sleeping, but married life does not allow for that without being a bit rude. See, the rudeness is probably in my own mind, but I still won’t allow the light to be on for, if the shoe was on the other foot, I’d be annoyed with a light being on in the room while I was trying to sleep, and more annoyed if I was tired on top of it. When I’m not laying down, my entertainment is TV, especially since I just purchased a Tivo last month. If you like TV, get one. If you hate commercials, get one. It’s worth it.

Anyhow…I find that the only time I can actually sit down to read is in the one room of solace, the bathroom. I force myself to read one chapter every “sitting”, so to speak. And while I won’t get into this information any further, I should note that Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities entirely in the bathroom. And I’m guessing the “worst of times” he was talking about was saurkraut night at the bistro.

I just find myself somewhat disgusted by this activity, even though there are several series’ of bathroom books on the market, the most notable being “Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers”, of which there are over 20 volumes now. Great books, but hardly something that builds much character. But I did learn that Uranus was green, and had rings around it.

I guess I just wanted to share this tidbit, that with the wonders of something like marriage, and the secondary wonders of something like a Tivo, there will be some sacrifices that must be made to bring balance to the force. In my case, it’s my lack of time to read. Unless, through the course of the day, I choose to have a couple bowls of All Bran with a prune juice chaser.

Have a great week everyone.

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Military Church in Basic Training

Well, I’m going to probably touch on this later, as more of my memories come to light. This is my first “Military Story”, by the way. More to come as I can go back there emotionally.

See, for me (like everyone else, although you really should pity me more than the other guys), Basic Training sucked. A lot. I had a female instructor, who was completely gorgeous, but was also a blue rope. All 3 of those things are bad news for a guy trying to get through Basic Training. See, she’s female. She automatically has to treat you worse because of that, to get your respect. She’s gorgeous, which means she has to treat you even worse yet (the respect thing again). And she was a blue rope, which means she’s the top of the instructors, which means she’s going to treat you even worse on top of the rest, to allow her reputation to remain intact.

Long story short, Basic Training sucked. A lot. I would have rather had a much more physical training period, but the Air Force loves to mess with your mind more than your body, for whatever reason.

Which is why church was so weird. I was somewhat religious before I joined the military. However, based on the mind-screws you’re going through, church is like meeting the savior right up close and personal.

I’m going to derail for just a sec, then I’ll get back on track. It’s bothering me that I’m capitalizing Basic Training and not church. So Basic becomes basic. Now, back on track.

Let’s go back a moment, and put you in the shoes of a new arrival at basic. You arrive, in civilian clothes. You don’t know what’s going on, and everyone is yelling at you. Well, everyone’s yelling because they know you’re a newbie. You aren’t in fatigues yet. What you’re wearing denotes your week. Week zero is civilian clothes. Week 1 you’ll have your head shaved (if you’re a male), and if you’re lucky, by the end of the week you’ll have fatigues. Week 3 or 4 you’ll get your name tapes. Week 5 or 6 you’ll get your rank sewn on your uniform. Week 7 you’ll be wearing your blues uniform all the time.

So, when you get there, long story long, you’re being yelled at. Everyone knows you’re a newbie, you don’t deserve any respect because you just arrived, “So let’s shit all over the newbie to make us feel better”.

I should note quick that week zero is an abbreviated week. I arrived on a Tuesday, I think. Some guys arrived as late as Thursday or Friday, which was bad and good both. Good because their first (worst) week was short, but bad because everyone shits on you more to make up for it. Lotta tears shed those few days for those guys.

Then, after having a few days of shortened sleep and not knowing how you fit into this world of yelling and verbal abuse, you get to Sunday. For starters, the whole day was much less formal than the previous few days. There wasn’t as much scheduled, we didn’t have to “be” anywhere right away, except for breakfast, it was a bit more lax. Then, we got formed up for church. Now, we didn’t “have” to attend church. It’s a free country (sort of). But everyone was told, go. Even if you don’t believe in God. Go to church. There were a few different services, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, etc. I went to the Christian Church, of course….

Well, it felt like it would feel being in a cult. You walk to the front doors, and people are smiling. Weird. They would tell you, Smile! Don’t call me sir, just relax, and smile! Ha, yeah right. I don’t trust this a bit. But you get into the church, they plop you in a section reserved for your week, and you wait for the fun to start.

Guys from other weeks are looking in your direction, talking. See, you’re still in civies at this point, and everyone can tell you don’t quite belong. You start to relax a little bit, despite the trepidation.

Finally, the show begins. All music, no message. Just stuff on the video monitors, clips from the movie “Men of Honor” mixed with the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Then the song Montana (pronounced Montanya, sung in spanish), and some other songs. Everyone is singing, some people raising their hands. It’s like one of the “I Feel Your Love Forever”-type Christian albums they sell on TV. But you feel it, deep inside, suddenly you release and just feel…good. Happy for an hour, but it was good in a very deep sense. Release, true release. Crying, and relaxation.

I guess that’s all I really wanted to say about that. I don’t have a decent wrap-up, but I just wanted to give you a taste of what church was in basic. I ended up being baptized in basic training too, for the first time. More on that later maybe, or maybe never. Who knows. Happy weekend, and congrats on surviving Friday the 13th.

Duane said…

Ah, is so good to hear the the AF was concerned about your spiritual side early on; plus got you motivated to get baptized besides.

I cannot imagine what that trip to your pew that eventful Sunday morning must have been like as a “newbie”

As you contemplate future sharing around the subject, might I suggest that you delve in considering the epitaph my son so eloquently provided for me some years back—So what did you learn from that?
11:39 AM
Jason Heath said…

Great description of basic training–church does sound like a great (but also somewhat wierd) respite from that whole process. I can’t wait to hear more military stories!
8:47 AM

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Speaking of games…

While I don’t play games for the time being, I do want to point out something about Zelda: Windwaker. The reason why I loathe this game is that it took the most annoying part of the Zelda N64 games and expanded it to the point of ludicricy. I’m talking about the lack of action between events. There’s NOTHING TO DO between missions except travel, and travel, and travel. In Ocarina of Time (the first game for N64), it was walking. Occaisionally you’d run across a monster that dropped…hardly anything. But that’s it. During the day, nothing. Where’s the danger? Is the world really falling apart? Really? It doesn’t seem like it’s in “that” bad of shape if there’s nothing really nefarious between missions. In Windwaker (first game for Gamecube) it’s so much worse. Let’s separate all the cool stuff with a bunch of boring (but pretty) ocean. *sigh*…

Now, at least for Majora’s Mask (2nd game for N64) they improved on the first. Using the same engine, they made the entire world a bit smaller and more compact, making there to be less travel time between missions. Also, they added more monsters, and eventually you could turn yourself into a sort of “wheel” that could just CRUISE through the world at amazing speed. This is what I’m talking about!

The biggest problem I have with the franchise though is that the most exciting game of the bunch seems to be the original Zelda for the NES. That was 1986 or 1987 folks. 20 years ago, and you can’t improve that much over the action of the original? Sad.

Jason Heath said…

I can’t wait to see how Zelda is going to be on the Wii. Courtney and I are going to get one as soon as it comes out. I never played Ocarina or Majora’s Mask, but I have played Windwaker, and it was fun but definitely full of long uneventful traveling bits.
8:50 AM
Aaron said…

See, I LOVE Ocarina & Majora’s. They’re still worth playing, and if I were you, I’d pick up a copy of the multi-pack for the Gamecube. Great games, just a lot of dead space between “missions”. But pretty, if a little angular and choppy in the graphics. Plus…the pointy Fairies are a little strange looking.
12:04 PM

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Theory of Years

Take the decade where you turned about 15 years old. Now, measure the first year of that decade to the year ending in 6. (1990 to 1996 for me.) Now, measure that against the year 2000 to 2006. Seems longer the further you go back, doesn’t it? I happen to think it’s the ratio of a person’s lived life in relation to a unit of time. I think that is what makes things seem as long as they are.

Take 1980 to 1986 for me. I was only 4 years old when 1980 started. The distance from 1980 to 1981 was an entire quarter of my lived life. It’d be about 7 years for me now. No wonder everything seems like it takes forever when you’re a little kid. It actually does. The road trip to Lake Madison from Sioux Falls seemed like hours. I realize now it was a single hour at the MOST. Trips across town, movies, school, everything seemed to last forever.

(I’m sure Einstein had something to say about this, but it’s the first time that I’ve thought about it myself.)

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Wasted

I just want to talk about video games for a moment. While I lovingly think of them…I realize that for me, games are a drug. I haven’t “used” for about 3 months now, since I was working a ton of hours to pay for the wedding. I miss the games, but the really good ones I just can’t walk away from. This blog would not exist if I were still using, because the games just take over my life. The biggest culprit for me is Civilization. Any version. I get sucked in, and that’s all she wrote. I’ve written off entire weekends due to that game. I’ve written off so much of my life due to games.

Recently there was an episode of South Park about World of Warcraft. Great episode, but very apt, since to defeat the “great evil” in the episode, the boys have to play WoW non-stop for weeks, getting enormously fat in the process. I’m overweight as it is, without having a game take up any other time I might be spending actually moving.

Don’t get me wrong, I miss games. I love the feeling of being immersed, of having no other world besides the game itself. But I’d rather read a book.

Now if I could just get rid of my TV too…

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Great Recipe

I’d post the recipe, but frankly, I don’t like posting stuff that I don’t attain legally, and Rachael Ray deserves the attention(IMHO).

http://www.rachaelray.com

Go there, then go to the TV show, then September 25. There’s a recipe for Speghetti & Meatball Stoup (Stew/Soup) that is very good, and very easy to do. Very, very tasty.

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Future Topics

My few readers may be wondering why I have barely mentioned my recent marriage or my 4 years in the Air Force. Well, I’m getting to it. I actually have topics for about 25 postings written down, including those, a comic strip I tried to get off the ground in 2002, and a bunch of other garbage. My marriage and my enlistment are very important but freaky experiences for me. If you would have asked me at age 25 (pre-9/11), I would have told you that I would probably never get married, and I would never join the military. 9/11 affects me to this day, and I doubt I will ever visit NYC, nor see any film about the events that transpired that day. ….that last sentence sounds too much like a tagline from one of those movies. “Transpired that day” is a hopelessly bad, and I apologize.

Anyhow, I’m getting to it. Thanks for reading.

– A

Jason Heath said…
Blog’s looking great, my man! I am check in every day. I see you’ve been doing Beta Blogger. I want to switch but don’t have the guts quite yet (it will break a lot of things in my spaghetti-code blog HTML).

8:46 PM

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The Best Geeky License Plates


http://www.geek24.com/g/the-best-geeky-license-plates

As I listen to a great Tom Waits song (Rain Dogs is such a great album, by the way), I came across this site. Love the AFK plate. I haven’t chatted seriously for about 5 years, so that one really brought me back.

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My Email to Todd n’ Tyler

This is an email I sent to the Todd N’ Tyler Show on Z-92 back in May, and it was commented about on the air the following week. It made my day…but I should warn you, the contents are a little gross. Note that the email, like most of the stuff on this site, rambles quite a bit, but it eventually gets to the point. Thanks, -A

Hi guys, long time listener, first time responder. I just wanted to take a moment to comment on a couple things from the past week’s shows. I would have just called in on the days that the topics occurred, but I’d probably sound dumber than some of these Husker necks that call in. I’ll save us both that experience.

Short Version:
On Friday, the story came up about the long-time listener whose cremated remains you had taken to a ballgame in town. That reminded me of a story my Dad told me, which happened in the early 1980’s. My Dad, who was a business consultant, had two clients living in Sturgis, South Dakota. They were the Jolly Brothers, and they ran the “Jolly Brothers Funeral Home”.

One time, my Dad helped the brothers load a very large woman (550+ lbs.) into the crematorium furnace. They turned on the automatic-burning process, and the three left to take care of other things. This was 6:30pm.

After midnight, one brother, who also happened to be the Chief of the Volunteer Fire Department, checked on the cremation. He found a line of molten, burning fat, with flames about 2-4 inches, coming from the furnace. The fat was slowly flowing toward 2 cars parked in the same building. He quickly moved the cars, contacted his fellow firemen, and they spent the rest of the night containing the fire.

Inside the furnace, the corpse was so large that there hadn’t been enough of a heat build-up to fully incinerate the body. However, there was enough heat to split the corpse’s skin, and to liquify the fat inside. At its hottest, the flames burned through the chimney to 20 feet higher than the roof of the building. However, the fire was contained to the chimney itself, and did not cause any significant damage to the building of the houses that surrounded it. The fire was eventually put out in the morning. No one was hurt in the blaze.

Long Version:
You were talking on Friday about the long-time listener who had been cremated. You were discussing how much a cremated person actually weighs, and you discussed bringing the cremains to a ballgame as well. That story triggered a memory of a story my Dad told me about, something that happened about 20-25 years ago. My Dad was a business consultant. Two of his clients were the Jolly Brothers, who ran the “Jolly Brothers Funeral Home”; in Sturgis, South Dakota.

My Dad happened to show up as the brothers were trying to figure out how to cremate a very large woman. (They estimated her weight at 550 pounds.) The day before, the brothers had found that there wasn’t a casket large enough for her. For the family’s viewing, they wrapped the woman in a sheet. When the Jolly brothers had attempted to lift her onto the funeral home’s gurney, the wheels collapsed under the weight. Finally, they were able to get her onto a wheeled workbench. They cleverly obscured the work bench from view with parts of the sheet, for asthetic value.

When my Dad showed up, they were trying to figure out how best to place her into the crematorium’s furnace. The funeral home was really a converted house, and the crematorium was in an attached garage that was added onto the back of the house. In the other part of the funeral home, the brothers had the benefit of a dumb waiter that allowed them to lift the woman onto the workbench. In the crematorium / garage, they did not have that luxury. It took the 3 of them all their strength to lift the woman onto the platform that rolls into the furnace chamber. Even when she got to the opening, they had to push down on her belly to allow her to fit inside.

Finally, with her inside the furnace, they turned on the switch to start the cremation process that would take the remainder of the night. It was biker-week in Sturgis, and my Dad went to have a beer with one of the brothers at one of the local bars. The other brother went to do some paperwork for his other job, Chief of the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. This was around 6:30pm.

Long Version:
You were talking on Friday about the long-time listener who had been cremated. You were discussing how much a cremated person actually weighs, and you discussed bringing the cremains to a ballgame as well. That story triggered a memory of a story my Dad told me about, something that happened about 20-25 years ago. My Dad was a business consultant. Two of his clients were the Jolly Brothers, who ran the “Jolly Brothers Funeral Home” in Sturgis, South Dakota.

My Dad happened to show up as the brothers were trying to figure out how to cremate a very large woman. (They estimated her weight at 550 pounds.) The day before, the brothers had found that there wasn’t a casket large enough for her. For the family’s viewing, they wrapped the woman in a sheet. When the Jolly brothers had attempted to lift her onto the funeral home’s gurney, the wheels collapsed under the weight. Finally, they were able to get her onto a wheeled workbench. They cleverly obscured the work bench from view with parts of the sheet, for asthetic value.

When my Dad showed up, they were trying to figure out how best to place her into the crematorium’s furnace. The funeral home was really a converted house, and the crematorium was in an attached garage that was added onto the back of the house. In the other part of the funeral home, the brothers had the benefit of a dumb waiter that allowed them to lift the woman onto the workbench. In the crematorium / garage, they did not have that luxury. It took the 3 of them all their strength to lift the woman onto the platform that rolls into the furnace chamber. Even when she got to the opening, they had to push down on her belly to allow her to fit inside.

Finally, with her inside the furnace, they turned on the switch to start the cremation process that would take the remainder of the night. It was biker-week in Sturgis, and my Dad went to have a beer with one of the brothers at one of the local bars. The other brother went to do some paperwork for his other job, Chief of the Sturgis Volunteer Fire Department. This was around 6:30pm.

At about midnight that night, the Fire Chief brother just happened to think about the woman being cremated and decided to check on her. As he opened the garage door, he saw a line of molten fat with 2-4 inch flames coming off from the goo, flowing away from the crematorium and toward the hearse and another car in the garage. Quickly, he moved the cars out of the way, and spent most of the night fighting the fire. The flames never reached the rest of the house. However, the furnace chimney, which stood about 10 feet off the roof of the funeral home, had flames going at least another 10 feet into the air as the fat burned at very hot temperatures for the rest of the night.

The next morning, they all discussed it, and figured that the woman was so large that in the area surrounding her, the furnace itself could not gain enough heat to properly incinerate the body. There was enough heat to split the skin and allow her fat to escape, catching fire and leaking onto the garage floor. Thankfully, no one was hurt from the incident, and the building escaped serious damage.

~~~~~
Whenever I had a gross-out story contest among co-workers or whoever, I usually won with this one.

Thanks guys, you’re great and I listen to you at work everyday. I used to live in Minneapolis (big Vikings fan), and there’s nothing on the stations up there that even compares to your show. It’s so rare that the top radio show in a town can have a couple of hosts and a great support staff that have as big of a heart as you guys have.

Thanks for hanging around Omaha. We love ya here.

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Story Idea #2

“In New Zealand today, a young girl who had 80% of her brain removed last year due to a massive tumor returned to 100% full functionality. Miraculously, the brain tissue has brown into her appendages and has attached to other organs in her body, leaving her cranium largely empty. Doctors are mystified as to the cause, but further research is being conducted.”

Another line, not sure where it fits: “He’s a separates now (chuckle).” The meaning behind the quote is that the male in question is somehow separate from humanity, like a mutant or some other form of outcast.

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50 States in 50 Days

http://www.hitch50.com/

This site is about a couple of guys going to the 50 state capitals in 50 days. There’s a GPS locator of where they’re at, and a couple ways to contact them if you want to give them a ride. Enjoy.

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Old flags of bygone times

I watch TV, seeing George Bush 2 on, talking about the whole nuclear test that “might” have occurred in North Korea, and I’m reminded of the time I got to see another president, Ronald Reagan, back in 1984. He came to Sioux Falls, rallying for his re-election. I was 8 years old, I must have been at any rate. I remember how my Mom pulled me out of school to go see him, which was a very big deal for me. I remember holding her hand, and how someone was giving out these little flags near the front door to the place. It was one of my first memories of that place, where I attended quite a few concerts, circuses, and other local events over the years.

We walked through the bottom of the arena. through a crowd that was much taller than I was. I remember how it smelled, like years of mustyness. We crossed through the crowd, climbed up some stairs, and eventually found our seats.

After a long wait, the crowd erupted, and out came the president. They most likely had a local congressman, maybe Governor Janklow himself, on stage first, but I don’t remember any of that. I remember this tiny little figure a very long ways off, waving at the crowd, and most of us waving back with our silly little American flags.

I don’t remember a thing he said. I remember his voice, and how much more…natural it sounded than it did on TV. Not as polished, but more like a real person. I just remember a tiny little smiling guy, a long ways off, with a natural voice booming through the Arena’s sound system usually reserved for rock concerts.

Then, he was gone. The crowd cheered. My Mom and I waited for a few minutes while the crowd was leaving. As we walked up the stairs, I saw something that still affects me. I saw a couple of the flags on the concrete stairs, stepped on a few times, the dirt of someone’s shoes already sinking into the cotton fabric. I asked my Mom if I could take them with me, and she said it was alright. So, I picked them up, stuck them in a pocket of my coat, and we went home.

Over the next few weeks, I treasured these flags. I must have collected about 4 or 5 of them at that rally, and after I washed the dirt from them, they always held a place of honor in my room.

And then, in his fashion back then, my brother would torment me by throwing one of them to the floor. I had it in my head that, if a flag was desecrated like that, it would have to be burned. Well…I thought that washing it under water would be alright. So I must have washed those flags a hundred times over the years. Good times.

I still have those flags. But I keep them in the garage now, poking out of an old six-pack of Coke bottles from South Dakota’s 100th anniversary from 1989. They still got the soda too. I don’t know why the flags aren’t as important to me now. I served in the Air Force because I believed in the flags. Maybe I saw too much from behind Oz’s curtain, I don’t know.

I don’t believe in this president as much as I feel I should. I’d love to blame it on the previous president, or maybe the one before that. But I think everyone needs to live in the times they are living in. That’s where they are, why not accept what we’re given, and try to adjust within these times? We can’t forget the past, I know this. But we shouldn’t live in the past either.

I worry about our world. It makes me sad that the negativity of life is promoted so much. Our lifespan is longer than it’s ever been, the quality of life is better than ever. There is still mass starvation, but it’s still not as bad as it has been.

On the other hand, the world is far from perfect yet. There are still selfish assholes out there, killing people that are almost 100% genetically identical to themselves.

I don’t have a decent way to close this, and my train of thought derailed a ways back. I just wish I could adopt a much more Taoist way of thinking through all this.

I guess that’s it.

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Heh

Uranus is green. And it has rings around it. Just thought you should know.

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Hi to the Plowjock

My Dad is thinking of starting a blog of his own, but like me, will likely take a while of snooping at other blogs before he gets it off the ground. I just thought I’d say “Hi” to him.

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My Political Compass reading

I mentioned in my previous post the site Political Compass. Even if you don’t want to take the test, there’s a decent reading list on there, including one of my favorite browse-books, Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen, a book that is no longer on the reading list.

I should mention that my reading on PoliticalCompass.org is in the bottom-left quadrant. From center, I’m 3 to the left, 4 down. In the past 3 or so years since I found this site, I’ve drift south about 2 squares, west about 1-2 squares. Below are my technical readings. What are yours?

Your political compass

Economic Left/Right: -3.13

Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.15

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Blast from the Past: Email from last month

Here’s an email from last month, talking about a statue of Reagan that Poland is putting up. I’m moderate in my private beliefs, but I’ve voted to the right the last few elections, believing that the only way the world will hang together is through heightened military strength, and that has tended to occur mainly with members of the right-wing party in America.

Hey, I might be wrong. Recently I’ve seriously questioned this approach. But I still believe the Reagan is why the Cold War went away. By ramping up our arsenal, the USSR went bankrupt in trying to keep up. Now, are we in a better or worse situation? I’m many have an opinion on this.
Anyhow, onto the email…but before I do, check out this site to see where you lie: http://www.politicalcompass.org

Hello all. Happy Monday, and thanks for everyone who made it to the
wedding and/or reception. It was a great time, and despite a few
tornadoes in the area, everything miraculously went without a hitch.

To go along with our thanks, here’s a nice little happy news from Poland.

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=politicsNews&storyid=2006-09-18T150104Z_01_L18839909_RTRUKOC_0_US-POLAND-REAGAN.xml&rpc=92

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Filed under 1980s, Blogsmith Commentary, Politics & Propaganda

The French Language

I’m not sure why, but I’m constantly surprised by the fact that more than maybe 50 people know the French language. I’m watching the movie Amelie for the first time, in subtitles (the way to go, in the original language), and I’m constantly mildly surprised when a new character appears on screen, speaking fluent French. I’m expecting an actor like Anne Parillaud (La Femme Nikita, The Man in the Iron Mask, Innocent Blood), and instead of her voice, I get Audrey Tautou. It’s a form of ethnocentrism I’m sure, but it’s still a mild surprise. Maybe I need to watch more foreign films.

I actually have the same mild surprise in public, when I hear a foreign language. My wife Sarah knows spanish (or is it Spanish? I never remember if you capitalize it if it’s not naming the country, but just denoting where the subject is actually originated from…), and when I hear a foreign language, any language, in public, I often jokingly say, “Hey…what are they saying? Are they talking about us?”

What was really strange, 2 days ago, we….scratch that, just a sec…

ahem…

A really strange moment occurred 2 days ago, when Sarah and I were at a Chinese restaurant, and she realized that the staff was speaking Spanish, commenting on how strange it was. I had no idea – I simply filed it under “foreign language” (or is it Foreign language? Probably not.), and forgot about the whole thing, until she pointed it out to me.

I love French. I’ll probably have to take a foreign language to complete my degree when I return to college next spring. I’m torn between French, a language I truly love, and Spanish, a language I could go either way with. It’s like difference between making love (French) and screwing (Spanish).

Let me explain so I don’t offend anyone. I get a romantic charge out of hearing music sung in French, but I get a sexual charge out of hearing the same song being sung in Spanish. This hasn’t happened very often, mind you. Few songs are translated as such, at least that I have heard. I’m sure that many, many songs are translated into other languages, like Der Kommissarr, 99 Luft Balloons…and I’m sure a few others, just none that I can name at the moment.

In closing, I admit that I’m a bit ethnocentric. But who isn’t? Recognizing it helps to even the playing field in one’s own mind.

I should take a trip somewhere far away. Maybe later.

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Story Idea #1

I’ve had many, many story ideas, but I never seem to have the attention span and/or patience to actually write a story, even a short story. So, I’ve decided to simply throw all of my ideas on here for the hell of it. Better here than no where at all, I guess.

Idea: A fly familiar. I got the idea from when I was working at Cox cable last month. I was cleaning a cable box for later testing, when a fly landed on the other end of the bench I was working on. Actually, I never saw him land, but saw him walking around. He seemed unafraid of me as I walked around, so I assumed he was old and was ready to die, or just a little out-of-it.

So from this, I thought about an old idea I had, probably dating back to high school. Control of insects. In this case, flies. I thought that the fly at the other end of the bench was not dumb, but was instead instinctually very smart, much like Brundell-fly is at the end of the 1986 remake of “The Fly”. Except that the fly would ultimately follow my orders.

What followed was the power to command flies over a square mile radius at first. At first I would simply use the flies to my own advantage. Later, as I grew in power, I would learn to care about the flies, to love them as I love myself. I would allow them to lay their young beneath my skin, as long as it didn’t damage my body in a serious way. I would let them feed upon me, as long as I could regenerate. Then, when whatever powers that be would capture me, I would command all my flies to die, near to the moment that I myself would be killed.

Because the anti-hero, in this instance, either is imprisoned with an inkling of power left (Magneto at the end of X-Men 3), or is simply killed tragically.

Well, that’s the story idea, another story I’ll likely never write. More to come. Thanks.

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