Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Everybody has their own crack...

Mine has been broadband. And right now I am wallowing in it. Do you hear me?? Wallowing. When I moved out here to Wellington (aka the boonies) I was told by the cable company that I could get broadband. The day I moved in they called me to inform me that they were A) lying and that B) I was a chump for believing them.

The answer seemed to come from a local company run out of a semi-abandoned building that used surplus Israeli tank radio technology to beam broadband to a big-ass receiver in the home. I am not making this up. Alas, the technology needed line of sight to work and unless I wanted to build an 80 foot tower on my land I was SOL.

Tinme passed and I suffere the repetitive kick to the balls that is dial up. My best connection was 24k. Like sipping shit through a straw. Then I got a call from my contact. He said there was a new gizmo. Some new tech that could do it. I handed him a check without hesitation with the promise that if he were lying, I would have his balls for lunch with some Sun chips and a Fresca.

Three months later it has finally happened. He spent much of the day erecting an antenna on my garage roof and running wires into the house. Does it look ugly? You bet it does. Do I care right now? Fuck no! It works. I have blessed broadband again. I've spent the last few hours just basking in its goodness. The shakes have almost completely dissapeared. I went and bought a Modest Mouse tune from the itunes store (which didn't work on dial up) I watched a full screen trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Right now Steam is downloading Half-Life2 deathmatch. Joy!

Tomorrow the guy returns to clean up the cabling and get Rossanas system to work. As a bonus, I can now get web access out in the shop. Oh sweet jesus it feels like I have come back to life again. You bastards will have to find someone else to mock for their lack of broadband. Mine's just fine, thank you.

Here's a picture of my ugly-ass 30 foot tower:

The telltale skull...

Before moving to Bag End I lived in Elyria for about five years, and before that I rented a house in North Olmsted. I loved this house. It was a large 1920s bungalow with lots of woods and a cool stone fireplace. Our landlady was a nice Transylvanian woman who never bothered us. It also had about 5 acres of land.

I held several theme parties at the house that were a lot of fun. One of the last ones was a kind of scavenger hunt involving stealing headstones from graveyards (they weren’t real headstones, relax) and locating an old family burial plot behind the house.

I had an old style coffin made and constructed a crude skeletal body for it. The party went off without a hitch but the next day it rained and the grave I had dug filled up with water. We left it alone since it was in the far back of the property and forgot about it. Two years later the landlady sells the house and we have to move right around Christmas. Not fun.

Flash forward 7 years. We decide to get stone steps put in at the new house to replace the rotting wooden ones. The guy doing the work asks us to come see the stone in person to give final approval and send us, by complete coincidence, to our old house. The buyers had bought the property, renovated the house, and now operate a landscaping supply company called Stone Quarter.

It felt strange walking around the old place. A lot had changed. The house looked good. They had poured a lot of money into it that we could never have afforded to. The property was also cleared out to make room for all the stone and materials they sell. As Rossana and I are looking over the materials that will be used the owner comes over and introduces himself.

“Didn’t you guys used to live here?” he asks.

I was hoping he wouldn’t remember us. It felt kind of weird prowling around our old place and we’d been unhappy to move.

“Uh, yeah. It was quite a while ago.”

“So you’re the guys who left a bed of nails behind in the basement.”

I had completely forgotten about that. The first bed I’d built for the Sloan Gypsies troupe had been way overbuilt. It was too large and too heavy to take so we’d left it behind as a gift. Of course, he didn’t know that I used to perform with a Gypsy troupe. I could see how this might look like something completely different to him. Freakers with swords on wall have kinky playtime dungeon in basement… oy

“Uh, yeah, well you see we had this performing troupe and…”.

“So did you guys bury the body too?” he asks, waving aside my explanation. For a moment I had no idea what he was talking about. Body?

“We were clearing out the back of the property three years ago with a bobcat and when the very first bucket of dirt comes up I see a skull sitting on top of it.”

I now begin to recall digging the hole for the coffin the night before the party. For several years after we moved away we wondered if they would ever find the grave. We just assumed the hole had filled up and the coffin had rotted away to nothing.

“Everybody freaked out and we called the police.”

“Police?” I asked, suddenly feeling very very uncomfortable.

“I mean, we find a skull buried behind the house. And we remembered about you guys and the bed of nails and my wife flipped out. She made me get the gun out of the safe and was ready to move out right then and there. “

“Ah, uh you see…” I stammered.

“So the cop shows up and the first thing he says is ‘That doesn’t look good’. He taped off the area and called in the detectives for a possible homicide. But then he looks at the skull kinda funny. ‘Turn it over’ he tells me. And I said ‘you’re the cop, you turn it over!’ and he says ‘I shouldn’t touch this if its evidence, but I have to be sure’. So he slowly turns it over and sees the mold marks. ‘It’s a fake’ he said and everybody breathed a huge sigh of relief. We used to keep it on a shelf in the office with a sign that said ‘Bad check writers beware’ until someone stole it.”

Everyone was now looking at me.

“I’m… sorry about that. It was a sort of Halloween party thing.” Telling him the entire storyline for the party would take half and hour. I cut to the chase. “I hope the police weren’t too upset.”

“Oh no, it was a hoot once we knew it wasn’t a real dead body. Besides, there aren’t a lot of murders in North Olmsted so the cops and the detectives hung around and compared notes and talked about how they would handle it if it were real. They even found some scraps of material and a shoe. They seemed pleased as punch that they got to use some detecting skills.”

Scott eventually delivered the stone personally to our house. After having a look around he said “How come it doesn’t surprise me that you guys now live in a Hobbit-hole house?”

New project: Solar lantern

I found two nice looking lanterns at Big Lots. I have them hanging outside but rarely light them because its a hassle. But what if I converted to solarpower? I did a quick conversion using a cheap solar footlight with pretty good results. Click here to see the step by step process.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Lucas, the whore of Babylon

I know that marketing swag is part of the movie industry now. And I am not ashamed to admit that as a young tot, I indeed had Star Wars bedsheets. But this shit has got to stop.

What exactly IS the criteria for obtaining a Star Wars product license? Do you just have a dump truck pull up to Skywalker Ranch and dump a mass of the filthy green lucre in exchange for an a-okey-dokey from George or his toadies? Honestly, do they even look at this shit?

I've heard some really great stuff about the next film. I am geeked about it bit time. But you are stepping on my Star Wars buzz when you put out the Darth Tater Mr. Potatohead and have the M&M characters interacting with the Lord of the mutherfuckin Sith.

Thanks to The Big Red Monkey for the heads up on this.

Monday, May 09, 2005

If only Life imitated Art

Went to see "Kingdom of Heaven' tonight and enjoyed it quite a bit. Orlando did pretty good and the Syrian Actor who played Saladin was very good . It was also good to see Siddig el Fadil (now Alexander Siddig) from DS9 get a decent role. In fact there were many good smaller rolls in the film.

The movie certainly plays fast and loose with history. But people don't have the attention span to learn the details of this conflict. Of course, it doesn't help that the crusades took place over something like 200 years. Lots of details there. If you want some fact about the movie here you go. I also found a few interresting facts at the site of a person who certainly did not enjoy the movie.

The simple fact is that most if not all the parties concerned in the affair were cruel, bloodthirsty, powerhungry bastards. We already know that the Knights and pilgrims had various reasons for wanting Jerusalem ranging from drooling fanaticism to cold and calculating economics. But the Arabs were not all poets and sagely well-dressed men of wisdom. In listening to Amin Maaloufs 'A history of the Crusades through Muslim eyes' I learned that the Muslims could easily have repelled/defeated the first crusading armies but were too busy screwing each other over, or paying them off. At the time they were a group of individual kingdoms fighting for power and land. United under Saladin they were not always sagely and magnanymous. They did in fact wipe out everyone during a battle just 3 months before the events in the movie took place and although Jews and Christians could pray in Jerusalem they were often treated quite badly. These were men who were products of their timer though. And they were brutal times. I wonder what our excuse is now?

What I enjoyed most about the film was its visual style, its very natural feel. The costumes were simply amazing. This film didn't cut one corner or substitute more flashy looking armoror. Everything down to the shoes looked right. I even saw a European carrying a falchion (single edge) sword, which you never see in a movie even though it was a very popular style at the time. The battles looked absolutlely real. It makes you understand why you would want to surrender a city rather than withstand a prolonged siege.

Overall, I give it a "C-" for history and an "A" for style. Go check it out.