Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Superman Returns" Returns

I am in the middle of writing “I’m not an alcoholic, I’m just a European.” Having transcribed hundreds of notes I am now forging them into a travel journal the likes of which the world has never seen! Well, unless you know who Bill Bryson, Peter Mayle, or Chris Stewart are, then, well, it will be a lot like theirs. Only funnier. And easier to read. I hope…

It amazes me how much my life has changed in three years. My screensaver on my computer is my pictures folder. We watch a lot of TV from my computer hooked up through the HDMI port to our widescreen Bravia and when there is a pause for bathroom breaks, food or opening another bottle of wine, the screensaver comes on and I am endlessly amazed at what I see. Mountains in Ecuador, Christmas celebrations in Columbia, Italian fountains, the mountains of Candeleda, seafood holocausts in Baiona, the sand castle of Heidelberg, the endless pictures of Stefan grabbing Lena’s boob at locations around the world, or the simple pleasure of me eating a sausage McMuffin with egg seated in a beach chair in the sand on the Maine coast.

All of which is an excuse to show what I think is my favorite picture of the thousands I have in my pictures folder. I took this in the Galapagos. The hot chick in the center makes it though.




Oh yeah, need to warn you. I suggested “Assassin’s Apprentice” by Robin Hobb a short time ago and now I must issue a caution with that. It is a trilogy and I have read reviews of the last book. Apparently the ending is sad. Imagine, I don’t know, the sea witch marrying the prince at the end of “The Little Mermaid” or maybe Sigourney Weaver allowing Newt to die to the Alien Queen in “Aliens” or Sarah Conner getting killed by the Terminator in Terminator I. Or worse still, imagine Superman as a dead beat dad, trying to steal Lois away from a happy relationship and crawling on his hands and knees while beaten by thugs trying to get away and not fighting back. So, take that recommendation at your own risk.

I cannot stop reading and have started the second book of the series, knowing that tragedy awaits and yet, cannot stop myself from reading. She has a skill, I can’t deny.

Check out the new poll on the right side. Apparently, it’s poll week. It is beyond my control. I am driven by urges.

I have been listening to a podcast called “iFanboy” and I love it. I have two hundred episodes on my iPhone and listen to it whenever I go out for errands. The guys doing it are intelligent, catch me up on the comics I have missed the last three years and keep me constantly laughing. The last one I listened too was about “All Star Superman” by Grant Morrison, which I loved.

I HATED “Superman Returns” but the podcast made me want to see something Superman related and Wendy had never seen the movie. Also, I have found in the past that sometimes watching something a second time is better than watching it the first. You know what is coming and are prepared. Your expectations do not get in the way of what you actually see. So, maybe Superman Returns will be better on the second viewing than on the first.

It was not.

This movie was directed by Bryan Singer. He of “The Usual Suspects,” X-Men I”, “X-Men II”, “Valkyrie” and this... This travesty. This abomination!

On an interesting side note, I did realize last night, while explaining Superman II, that General Zod was one of the generals in “Valkyrie.”

“Kneel before Zod.” OMG That’s him! The general who shows up in civilian clothes
during the coup and says this should be seen as a people’s movement! That’s General Zod!

Terence Stamp http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000654/

I was so incensed by “Superman Returns” that I had to take notes on things I was going to bitch about today. I was going to start out explaining the good, bad and the ugly of the movie, pretending that I could explain away the many faults with an optimistic attitude and smiley face. Maybe this… or Maybe that… but no, I do not have the patience or the time. I must rant and rant I shall!

Superman Returns is supposed to take place after the events of Superman II. In Superman II, Superman gives up his powers to be with Lois, they have sex in the fortress of solitude, and then return to civilization where Clark discovers three Kryptonians destroying the planet. Clark gets his powers back, defeats the villains, gives Lois a super kiss, somehow making her forget the sex, that Clark is Superman and the fortress of solitude.

So, we start off Superman Returns with the premise that Superman has slipped Lois a roofie. Then he finds out that his home planet may have been discovered by astronomers so he flies away in his father’s spacecraft for five years searching for remains. All he finds is dust.

1. He knocks up Lois and never even says goodbye.

2. Lois hooks up with another guy immediately, since the guy thinks the child is his, and nine months must of happened pretty fast for her to give birth to this child so soon after Superman leaves.

3. Superman fails to pay child support for five years.

4. Superman’s (normal farm) dog drops a ball at his feet, wanting to play fetch. Superman throws the ball over the horizon. The dog runs ten steps looks back at Superman with a look of “Why do you have to be such a dick Clark?”

5. Clark Kent and Superman return (after an identical five year absence) on the same day and no one even blinks.

6. Superman (symbol of all that is right and good and honorable) starts trying to steal Lois from her current boyfriend with sly glances, longing looks and a secret flight through the air above Metropolis.

7. The smartest man in the universe is reduced to sleeping with old women in order to raise money. Wait… Bryan Singer feels the need to explain why LEX FUCKING LUTHOR is rich? Just have Lex be rich. We’ll get it. He made some smart stock investments, patented some genius inventions, whatever. The greatest super villain in all universes becomes a gigolo to raise money for evil schemes? Pathetic and stupid.

8. Perry White says to Lois “look, all the major newspapers have hot reporters on rooftops looking for Superman. Your assignment is Superman not the blackout.” So let me get this straight; Superman only talks to hot single female reporters on rooftops? Really?

9. Superman sees the fax Lois sent with coordinates on it. He flies towards those coordinates and then sees a massive earthquake, land mass rising, eruption, whatever, under the sea traveling toward Metropolis. He turns back, blows out one fire and catches the Daily Planet globe from crushing people and… that’s it? You saved the city from the crystal destruction by blowing out a fire and catching a huge globe?

10. Lex raises an entire island off the eastern seaboard and yet, there is no tidal wave? The water isn’t affected at all by a new land mass appearing in the middle of it?

11. Superman’s kid crushes a thug with a piano. Shortly, Lois and the child are locked in a pantry. Lois asks her super-son, “Honey, can you help mommy with the door?” Twenty minutes go by with multiple shots of Lois trying to force the door and the kid happily sitting on the floor eating Oreo’s ignoring his mom’s last request. WTF was the point of that?

12. So Lex makes a huge land mass made of crystal. His ultimate plan destroying most of the U.S. and everyone will move to his new crystal continent. With what arable land? With what buildings? With what… everything? Why wouldn’t they move to Europe or Asia? Where is the food going to come from? Worst… evil… plot… ever.

13. Superman lands on the new continent and loses his powers because it’s made partly of Kryptonite. He then gets beaten up by thugs and stabbed in the back with a Kryptonite knife. The part most disturbing about this, is Superman crawling away from his beating, whimpering and crying out. Look, Superman isn’t just Superman because he has super-powers. He doesn’t turn into a cowardly simpering wimp when he loses those powers or faces adversity that matches those powers. He fights back. He shows courage against all adversity. He’s supposed to be the shining example to other heroes because of his ideals, his courage and his morals; not his super powers. He’s like the Captain America of the DC Universe. People look to him for inspiration not because he’s so strong but because he never bends his morals. Because his SPIRIT is an inspiration. People don’t look up to Superman because he’s Homer Simpson with Super Strength, Flight and Invulnerability. Having Superman crawl away whimpering while being beaten by thugs reduces Superman to “Anyone who has his powers could do what he does” and that’s not the point at all.

14. Superman gets a recharge from the sun and lifts up an entire continent of Kryptonite. (Rolls eyes.) Again, no tidal wave by millions of tons of rock leaving the ocean.

15. They put SOLAR POWERED SUPERMAN in a dark room with the shades drawn. To recover. Brilliant.

Is this the worst Superhero Movie ever made? I have to go with yes.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Check out the poll to the right.

Figured I'd make an entry so that people could comment if they felt like it.

I'd like to do a vanity press book about "Quest for the Pro Tour II" but I don't think it would be worth the work. At the same time, I do wonder how many people would be interested in a collection of essays like "Technically perfect play", "Last days of the Peaceful Village", "It's all about the Dinosaurs" and other articles that I think were some of my better work.

Let me know what you think.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Monday!

My website hit counter says that Monday's are my busiest days so I try to have something up for people to read. Todays will be short as I am typing this handicapped. Working on a chair I sliced one of my fingers very badly. Typing is one and a half handed right now. Blood went everywhere, even the ceiling. I am such a dork.

I have approached over seventy-five agents concerning Marilyn's cancer memoir and only one requested to see more and she wasn't moved by the writing enough to want to see the whole manuscript. (Insert frowny face.)

I received twenty-three rejections and over fifty silences (which means rejection, sorry, can't be bothered to write you since our agency gets a hundred queries a day.)

Because of my past, I believe I have what it takes to be a writer. I believe I will get a following someday for my books; I just need a few breaks. I believe the rejections are coming in because of many reasons.

1. The economy.
2. Memoir? Too common.
3. Cancer memoir? Um, way too common.

Is it about sex addiction? Gangs? Drug addiction and how you sold your body to pay for drugs? Were you sexually abused as a child? Did you beat people up? Are you a famous person looking to write a memoir about your drug or sex or gambling addiction? No? Then you're not what we're looking for, sorry.

Seriously, in the agencies I have looked at, they really want famous people's memoirs and even some of those are having to go vanity press to get published. (Vanity press is when you publish and market it yourself because an established publisher with ties to the industry won't accept your manuscript. There have been success stories out of vanity press companies but they are rare.)

Since “Tournament Reports” went out of print, I have gone vanity press with CreateSpace and changed the title to “Quest for the Pro Tour.” It is available on Amazon.com and today I made it available on the Kindle (and Kindle for the iPhone) for ninety-nine cents. If you’ve read the book, please go and give it a review or even copy over your old review from “Tournament Reports” and rate it please. Any little bit of support helps. If you haven’t read it, people who know nothing about Magic have told me they still loved it, so you can pick it up for ninety-nine cents if you have a Kindle.

Marilyn’s memoir (tentatively titled “Courage Made Flesh : A Cancer Memoir) will probably be done in much the same way. I am going to try and give away the first half for free and if people like it, sell the second half for ninety-nine cents. At this point, it’s not about profit, it is about getting my name out there and hoping someone recognizes it as a good book.

I think there is more of a market for my travel journal so I have dedicated most of my time to that since giving up on approaching agents (i.e. last week.) I hope to have it done and have sent out query letters by the time we head home for August vacation in the states.

UFC 98 was this weekend. I have only had time to see two of the fights so far, the two main events.

Like most people, I was hoping Serra would beat Hughes, but it was not to be so. You know what I hated about that match? The lack of rage from both fighters. For two guys who say they hate each other, they acted like two guys who just came to fight. I also hated the fact that Serra looked like a guy who didn't know what to do when Hughes took him down. Of course he’s going to take you down and lay on top of you! If I was Serra I would have spent the last three months on my feet going "Okay, shoot in again, I'll try and throw up a triangle again. Okay, that failed, try again. Okay, got it that time. Let’s start over. Again. Again. Again." He should have been prepared to shift to a triangle choke from any position of him falling backwards because you knew that was going to happen.

Hughes does not look like his old self. As a columnist mentioned, he needs to go back to the Miletech camp. He's training himself and that's not enough. Hughes now says he would like a rematch with GSP or Alves and I'm pretty sure he's delusional. He'll never beat either of those guys. He needs to take on the up and comers of the 170 lb division or try his hand at Anderson Silva. He's not a top tier talent anymore and the only reason I mention Silva is because styles makes fights. His GNP might beat Silva's standing.

The Machida Era has begun. I really thought Rashad Evans had a chance. He got demolished. Destroyed. Like a lot of wrestlers he got a few knockouts and decided he was Chuck Liddell. It makes me remember Koscheck vs Alves when Kos used zero wrestling and just stood with him like an idiot. Rashad should have pressed Machida against the cage and taken him down. But, hindsight is 20/20. Before the fight I would have thought he could counter Machida’s counters and land a big shot like he did against Chuck and Forrest. I agreed with his gameplan.

Hindsight.

Of course Hughes won. Of course Machida won. It all seems so obvious now.

Machida showed exactly what I have always been saying about him. He has the skill to finish fights, in the past he has just chosen not to. I think the criticism he has taken about being boring stung and he has worked harder to finish fights. The old Machida would have been happy to rock Rashad, try to get in a few more shots, carefully, watching for any recovery and let the moment pass. The fact he actually went after him like a madman is a completely different Machida than we have seen in the past. In my humble opinion, of course. Did you see the Tito Ortiz fight where he got him into a body lock threw him to the ground, passed guard, got him into a crucifix and immediately started raining down elbows? That was PHENOMENAL.

For all off five seconds then the round ended and the moment was passed.

My point is, he can do that any time he wants to take the risk but he usually doesn't take the risk. Wise, but boring and not a style I appreciate. I was glad he went after Rashad and ended the fight.

I think his era has begun. Much like Silva and GSP I do not think anyone will beat any of those fighters for a very long time. Years even. Brock Lesnar could have the same run at heavyweight, but honestly, I think the person who will have an era in that division will be Shane Carwin. He is almost as big as Brock, same type of wrestling credentials, bigger hands and better stand up. None of his fights have hit the second round and his longest fight has last 2:11 seconds. He is 11-0 with a 1:09 knockout of well respected Gabe Gonzaga. NO ONE can stand with him and not get knocked out.

The only weight class that I don't know who will have an era of dominance is the 155 lbs. It could be BJ Penn. It could be Kenflo. It could be Diego Sanchez. I'm hoping/thinking Diego honestly. I predict Diego will win the title and hold it for years.


I am going to be buying UFC 99 when I get up on that following Sunday morning as well as UFC 100.

Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva - Silva by KO. Styles make fights and Rich likes to stand and bang, which is perfect for Silva.

Cheick Kongo vs. Cain Velasquez - Valasquez by KO in the second. I saw his last fight and was amazed.

Ben Saunders vs. Mike Swick. Swick by KO in the first. “Quick” Swick has too much experience and power for Saunders.

Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy - Davis by KO in the first. I don't know enough about Hardy having only seen one of his fights but no one but the elite of the 170 lb division is going to beat Marcus Davis. He has too much power and is way too well-rounded. He can knock you out or submit you.

Spencer Fisher vs. Caol Uno – This should be an awesome fight. Spencer Fisher KO in the second. Uno has always been over-rated in my opinion and Fisher brings it hard.

For book recommendations, I just finished "Assassins Apprentice" on my Kindle for iPhone and I loved it. It's free, and I could not put it down. This is a book by an established author. Shd has five more books in this series and I'll be buying all five thanks to her letting me read this one free. She got me hooked, now she's going to sell me five books. Very smart.

Happy Monday

Good Travels.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

It's that day again. Remember and be alive.




Above is the tribute card that Wizards of the Coast made for Marilyn. (I bought the original artwork, I hope Dan Dossantos doesn't mind me directly copying it from his site.) A wonderful gesture that touched me to my core. Such an amazing honor for an amazing woman. You can read the write-up I did explaining the card here.

Marilyn didn't want me to be sad when she passed on. "What good would it do for me to look down from heaven and see you crying? And know I couldn't do anything to help?"

I know she feels that way for everyone. So, today, do something you love in tribute to her. Read the things she loved in the text below and honor her by doing one of them. Play a MMORPG, work in your garden, watch the birds, watch some UFC or one of her favorite movies.


Marilyn's Obituary.

Marilyn Jane Wakefield passed away from ovarian Cancer on Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 6:00 p.m. She passed away at home, in a bed looking out French doors at her birds, and dogs playing in the yard. She was surrounded by family and friends and had been for days.

Marilyn was born in Brattleboro, Vermont on November 18, 1963. She graduated from Middlebury Union High School in 1981 and went to Champlain College for a year. Afterward she worked at The Marbleworks Partnership as an Administrative Assistant. After a number of years working in the office, she rose to the position of Manager, handling all the renting, leasing and various duties that go with it. She worked there for 15 years until her passing.

Marilyn loved to read, work in her six flower gardens and watch birds feeding at her multiple feeders. She dabbled in agility training one of her dogs, Morganna, for a few years and set up an agility course in the back yard.

She also loved to stride the Obsidian Plains killing Tuskers, find matching blue armor for her Avatar, and assault Albion Castles in the early morning hours with her husband Bouldar Granite the Troll.

Marilyn was introduced to Massive Online Role Playing Games by her husband in the late 1990’s. This became their favorite pastime. When not working, walking their dogs, napping, or getting food, they could be found exploring countless worlds and having amazing adventures. They adventured together for thousands of hours over the years. Marilyn loved it all. She loved Diamond Runs in Darkness Falls. She loved gathering with up to a hundred people to plunder the depths of Tuscaren Glacier and fighting the 20 foot tall giants inside. She loved Aerlinthe, sparkly blue armor, and bow and arrows.

Marilyn’s gift for charming people was extraordinary, from the nurses who constantly praised her attitude and courage to our friends we played online games with. She was followed from game to game by almost everyone who adventured with her. She was sought out by friends and family for her wisdom and decision making, offering marital advice, life lessons, and general counsel on all subjects. Her reputation for this was legendary. She was sought out over and over by people who had found her advice sound and trusted her to help them again.

She was loved by all who met her. In intensive care after surgery, the nurses called her “our little princess” and informed her husband that patients like Marilyn inspired them to go into nursing, to take care of people as nice as her. As a frequent visitor to McClure 6 in Fletcher Allen Hospital, many of the nurses referred to her as their favorite patient. They all went far above and beyond care that was needed to make her comfortable and happy. She charmed everyone she met with her courage and spirit.

Her favorite movies were Love Potion Number 9, Pretty Woman, Beauty and the Beast, True Lies, Terminator II, Dirty Dancing, The Matrix, Shallow Hal, Serenity, Michael and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Her Favorite TV shows were Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Will and Grace, American Idol and The Ultimate Fighter.

She is survived by her husband Jamie Wakefield and their four dogs; Merlin, Morganna, Thor, and Nikki.

She is survived by her parents Raymond and Betty Whitaker and her brothers Edward and Bruce.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Read between the lines

In a nicely balanced article by the NYTimes on Global Warming, I am glad that they keep the scare tactics to a minimum and tell the whole story.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/science/earth/18juneau.html?em

Glaciers are receding. They do that. Sometimes they advance. They do that too.

The article is interesting and an easy read. Make sure to note these two quotes.

"Greenland and a few other places have experienced similar effects from widespread glacial melting that began more than 200 years ago, geologists say."

I don't need to explain why the "200 years ago" remark is important, right?

"The rise is further fueled by the movement of the tectonic plates that form the earth’s crust. As the Pacific plate pushes under the North American plate, Juneau and its hilly Tongass National Forest environs rise still more.

“When you combine tectonics and glacial readjustment, you get rates that are incomprehensible,” Dr. Molnia said.

"In Gustavus, where Mr. DeBoer’s property is, the land is rising almost three inches a year, Dr. Molnia said, making it “the fastest-rising place in North America.”


Disclaimer - Still all for hybrid cars, getting off oil and gas, loves me some wind, solar, nuclear and tidal power. Love the environment - hate fear mongering.

Happy Tuesday.

Oh yeah, I should also tell you "Time" published a letter almost identical to my rant on here about trying to blame global warming instead of 80%v deforestation in their article on Madagascar's disappearing species. I should of sent that letter. :-(

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

"Stephen King compared the Mormon author to JK Rowling, saying that both authors were "speaking directly to young people". "The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can't write worth a darn. She's not very good," he told an interviewer from USA Weekend."

In bizarro opposite land, Time magazine reports this week that one out of every seven books sold last week was written by Stephenie Meyer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I like this one. I hope you do too. Take some time with it.

Warning : This post eventually devolves into a religious discussion. If exploring the nature of God in a way contrary to the way the Bible depicts him upsets you, you might want to just move along.

Thought for the day: It only takes putting your passport through the wash once to realize you should always check your pockets before doing laundry.

I am really enjoying my friend John Loggin’s blog. John’s dream is pretty simple. Sail the oceans with his family. See new places. The reality is a lot more complex. Quit a good job, buy a boat. Live on said boat, learn how to sail, learn how to scuba so you can fix said boat in the middle of the ocean, spend your retirement money, give up your security… and dream.

There are of course two sides to every coin. Ten years ago I would have thought he was crazy and all I wanted to do was stay in my house, play video games and watch my retirement fund grow. I firmly stand behind everyone in that camp. I am now in the camp of experiences are more important than stability and I admire what he is doing and find his slowly evolving adventure fascinating. I say slowly because he’s not even out on the sea yet, but he and his family are living on the boat they bought and learning to sail. Check it out here.

http://www.onuzim.blogspot.com/

(I add these links like this because I have some older readers who don’t understand when a word is highlighted you click that word and it actually takes you to that page.)

If you are not watching “Lie to me” you are missing one of the best shows to ever be on television. I don’t think I have loved a show this much since “Firefly” and that’s saying something. Last night's episode had me cheering and shouting and jumping off the couch. Everything happens for a reason. Every step taken. Every single word spoken. Every slight turn of a head. Every line of dialogue leads to a masterfully produced piece of fiction that blows the top of my head off and fills me with envy. It is a thing of beauty.

Dollhouse continues to impress me but I think people will find it hard to get into without watching it from the begining. I love it. LOVE IT. I suggest you try it, do your best to catch the reruns that are soon to start after sweeps week. Fascinating new stuff with a wonderful cast of characters.

Moving back in time - In a comment on this blog that has been deleted by its author, it was asked “Why do you want to go to Heaven anyway? Sit at the feet of some old guy in a robe and sing hymns?” It was longer and more eloquent than that but you get the idea.

I don’t believe in that kind of Heaven any more than I believe the Catholic Church has anything but contempt for the message Jesus tried to bring us. (Danger Will Robinson! Massive off topic diatribe/ramble approaching at warp factor nine! Suggest evasive maneuvers immediately! Logic shields up!) Sorry to all the Catholics out there but Jesus’ message was pretty simple. Don’t judge. Be kind to others. Helping other people is more important than wealth. Yeah, that whole wealth thing… Don’t put yourself above others. Worship me through good deeds. I don’t remember Jesus preaching about rich purple robes, incense, don't make love to each other, solid gold candlestick holders…

Get off track much? Reign it in Wakefield.

My philosophy on God, the Universe and the Afterlife.

I think when the universe was formed we had a very young God who has matured with age. He started out with lots of explosions. He played with making worlds like a kid with Play-Doh. He created small life but that was kind of boring. As he matured he thought: You know what would be cool? Huge fucking lizards! That fought! With teeth as long as swords (when he gets around to inventing swords) and horns as big as a Buick. And spiked tails! Holy Fuck! Spiked tails! How slick is that?

“Stegosaurus, I choose you!”

“Triceratops I choose you!”

(Have you ever realized that Pok√©mon is actually dog-fighting disguised as a game? These kids go around collecting different animals and then they make them fight in an arena against each other. To the death. It’s cock-fighting. But it’s animated so it’s okay.)

Why do you think kids are so obsessed dinosaurs? Because they are the coolest thing God has ever created and he did it when he was a kid. We are made in his image. If it was fascinating to him as a kid, I just think we are wired the same way. After fifteen million years of playing with dinosaurs like they were plastic… um… dinosaurs and watching their battles and stuff he matured and decided to try something else. What if he put some slightly different slightly intelligent species together, instilled some fear of strangers into them and watched what happened?

Entertainment, that’s what. Wow! They fought! They evolved! They built shit. They loved each other. They hated each other. They showed incredible acts of selflessness and bravery and also insane acts of depravity. And their advancements just kept getting cooler and more fascinating! Splitting an Atom does what? Holy crap! These guys are frikkin cool. I have outdone myself this time. And so God created recliners. With cup holders! And Beer. And it was good. Beer good. Beer foamy. And he sat and watched for millenia, thinking - Now this is awesome.

As anyone who has played God (Pick a billion video games who simulate this or watch Bender from Futurama; Cartman from South Park or an episode from the Simpsons) you begin thinking the best thing to do is try to guide these primitive beings into a path of good or evil. It’s kinda cool when they worship you. You try to help, but then, somehow, everything you do to help turns out with consequences you didn’t see. (Jesus’ message was love thy neighbor, hey lets go on a Crusade!)

Because this article cannot be reprinted enough, this comes from the Onion reprinted in its entirety with a proper credit link.
http://www.theonion.com/content/node/28151

“NEW YORK—Responding to recent events on Earth, God, the omniscient creator-deity worshipped by billions of followers of various faiths for more than 6,000 years, angrily clarified His longtime stance against humans killing each other Monday.

God.
"Look, I don't know, maybe I haven't made myself completely clear, so for the record, here it is again," said the Lord, His divine face betraying visible emotion during a press conference near the site of the fallen Twin Towers. "Somehow, people keep coming up with the idea that I want them to kill their neighbor. Well, I don't. And to be honest, I'm really getting sick and tired of it. Get it straight. Not only do I not want anybody to kill anyone, but I specifically commanded you not to, in really simple terms that anybody ought to be able to understand."

Worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike, God said His name has been invoked countless times over the centuries as a reason to kill in what He called "an unending cycle of violence."

"I don't care how holy somebody claims to be," God said. "If a person tells you it's My will that they kill someone, they're wrong. Got it? I don't care what religion you are, or who you think your enemy is, here it is one more time: No killing, in My name or anyone else's, ever again."

The press conference came as a surprise to humankind, as God rarely intervenes in earthly affairs. As a matter of longstanding policy, He has traditionally left the task of interpreting His message and divine will to clerics, rabbis, priests, imams, and Biblical scholars. Theologians and laymen alike have been given the task of pondering His ineffable mysteries, deciding for themselves what to do as a matter of faith. His decision to manifest on the material plane was motivated by the deep sense of shock, outrage, and sorrow He felt over the Sept. 11 violence carried out in His name, and over its dire potential ramifications around the globe.

"I tried to put it in the simplest possible terms for you people, so you'd get it straight, because I thought it was pretty important," said God, called Yahweh and Allah respectively in the Judaic and Muslim traditions. "I guess I figured I'd left no real room for confusion after putting it in a four-word sentence with one-syllable words, on the tablets I gave to Moses. How much more clear can I get?"

"But somehow, it all gets twisted around and, next thing you know, somebody's spouting off some nonsense about, 'God says I have to kill this guy, God wants me to kill that guy, it's God's will,'" God continued. "It's not God's will, all right? News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'"

Worse yet, many of the worst violators claim that their actions are justified by passages in the Bible, Torah, and Qur'an.

"To be honest, there's some contradictory stuff in there, okay?" God said. "So I can see how it could be pretty misleading. I admit it—My bad. I did My best to inspire them, but a lot of imperfect human agents have misinterpreted My message over the millennia. Frankly, much of the material that got in there is dogmatic, doctrinal bullshit. I turn My head for a second and, suddenly, all this stuff about homosexuality gets into Leviticus, and everybody thinks it's God's will to kill gays. It absolutely drives Me up the wall."

God praised the overwhelming majority of His Muslim followers as "wonderful, pious people," calling the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks rare exceptions.

"This whole medieval concept of the jihad, or holy war, had all but vanished from the Muslim world in, like, the 10th century, and with good reason," God said. "There's no such thing as a holy war, only unholy ones. The vast majority of Muslims in this world reject the murderous actions of these radical extremists, just like the vast majority of Christians in America are pissed off over those two bigots on The 700 Club."

Continued God, "Read the book: 'Allah is kind, Allah is beautiful, Allah is merciful.' It goes on and on that way, page after page. But, no, some assholes have to come along and revive this stupid holy-war crap just to further their own hateful agenda. So now, everybody thinks Muslims are all murderous barbarians. Thanks, Taliban: 1,000 years of pan-Islamic cultural progress down the drain."

God stressed that His remarks were not directed exclusively at Islamic extremists, but rather at anyone whose ideological zealotry overrides his or her ability to comprehend the core message of all world religions.

"I don't care what faith you are, everybody's been making this same mistake since the dawn of time," God said. "The Muslims massacre the Hindus, the Hindus massacre the Muslims. The Buddhists, everybody massacres the Buddhists. The Jews, don't even get me started on the hardline, right-wing, Meir Kahane-loving Israeli nationalists, man. And the Christians? You people believe in a Messiah who says, 'Turn the other cheek,' but you've been killing everybody you can get your hands on since the Crusades."

Growing increasingly wrathful, God continued: "Can't you people see? What are you, morons? There are a ton of different religious traditions out there, and different cultures worship Me in different ways. But the basic message is always the same: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Shintoism... every religious belief system under the sun, they all say you're supposed to love your neighbors, folks! It's not that hard a concept to grasp."

"Why would you think I'd want anything else? Humans don't need religion or God as an excuse to kill each other—you've been doing that without any help from Me since you were freaking apes!" God said. "The whole point of believing in God is to have a higher standard of behavior. How obvious can you get?"

"I'm talking to all of you, here!" continued God, His voice rising to a shout. "Do you hear Me? I don't want you to kill anybody. I'm against it, across the board. How many times do I have to say it? Don't kill each other anymore—ever! I'm fucking serious!"

Upon completing His outburst, God fell silent, standing quietly at the podium for several moments. Then, witnesses reported, God's shoulders began to shake, and He wept.”


So, eventually you just stop helping. You just watch. Meddling usually just makes things worse.

Wait until he gets bored with us.

Maybe he already has.

And his son. How come his image is always his most painful moment of agony that depicts man's cruelty to man? Was Jesus' message "Nail each other to crosses?" I am pretty sure it wasn't. If I spent my life preaching liberal hippy ideals about peace, love, help each other, be nice, don't judge and I did this for years on end; inspiring people to better themselves; I would want them to remember that. That over-riding message. If they were to pray to me, or wear an image of me around their neck, I would like it to be me kneeling with a lamb and a lion. Or maybe me stopping a crowd throwing stones at a woman. Or maybe stopping a fight between two men. From all my teachings I want them to remember that.

The very last fucking thing I want them to remember and pray to is me bleeding from multiple wounds in agony, dying at the hands of an angry mob completly ignoring everything I taught. The last image a man of peace wants hung around his followers necks and prayed too is not the very thing he preached against.

Don't tell me I don't get it. I get it. You're thanking him for his sacrifice. But if you were to ask Jesus what he wants you to remember more, his teachings or his sacrifice, what do you think his answer would be?

In Columbia we saw an image of the way I think Jesus would have liked to be depicted.



"Here's a cool idea. Be nice to each other or I'll very nicely brain you with my cross. See these pecs? Check out the six pack abs. I can do it. Now go help an old lady across the street or console a sad friend. Or maybe just go make love to your girlfriend. Just do somethign nice."

After that brief interlude, let’s go back to my twisted view I started to explain.

I don’t know if prayers are answered. When I pray I say things like “Thanks God. Thanks for my cool life. Take care of Marilyn for me.” I don't ask for ponies (like Joshie always does) or money or fame. I thank him for this wonderful gift called life. I don’t know if he listens at all. I doubt it, but maybe. I think he’s pretty far away.

I think he has matured as we have. He outgrew dinosaurs; we outgrew bananas and throwing feces at each other. We’re now into gene therapy, possibly turning the Earth into a black hole and wondering what Dark Matter is. If that’s where we’re at, imagine what the great creator is experimenting with.

My favorite theory is that he is continuing to build our endlessly infinite universe. He is billions of light years away from us right now building a world out of light populated by beings that communicate through mentally projected images and throw feces at each other. Feces made of light...

Heaven? That’s the rest of the universe. I sort of believe that. I once wrote a sixty page story about that concept. Dying is usually traumatic so you wake up in a pool, submerged in warm, soothing water, just below the surface. It is an easy swim to the side, you climb out and a guy hands you a robe, explains you’re dead and asks what kind of life you want next.

“What?”

“What do you want to do next? God’s created eleventy-seven billion worlds, all of them different, all of them with a form of life on them and all of them different. As you might imagine, his imagination is limitless.”

“I want to go to a world where beer comes out of drinking fountains, marijuana is sold like cigarettes but there is no money or commerce, everyone is in shape, no one wears any clothes and has free sex all the time with no fear of pregnancy or disease.”

“Very popular world. Right this way.”

One hundred years later.

“What kind of life do you want now?”

“You know what, that was nice for about six months then it was boring for ninety-nine and a half years. I’d like to go someplace where I have to train every day to be the world’s greatest knight and slay dragons.”

“Also popular. Step this way please.”

Twenty-seven years later, charred and smoking he climbs out of the pool.

“That was cool but a little intense. Hero worship gets old fast doesn’t it?”

Sighs.
"Yeah. Everyone needs acceptance. But once a thousand people tell you how amazing you are, eyes glittering with wonder, it starts to get old. You got your acceptance need filled. You don't need it so bad any more. Do you have any idea how tired God is of having people sing how fantastically super wonderful he is every Sunday? I mean; he’s God. You think he needs people to tell him every week how great he is for thousands of years? Do people think he’s insecure in some way?”

“I can’t even imagine. I was tired of being greeted as a hero a month after my best exploits. 'Yeah yeah, I killed a dragon. No, I don't want to tell the story again. Can I get a beer?' I think I’m ready to be a dishwasher now. Live a quiet life, maybe have a kid, no responsibilities once I get off work.”

“That would be Earth. Very, very popular. Step this way.”

That’s how I see Heaven.

Why else is the universe infinite?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Dark Place

In my continuing quest to find out what causes me to go to (what Wendy and I have dubbed) “The Dark Place” I have had blood work done and they showed some interesting things one doctor could not explain. A few things were elevated in my liver but in the opposite order of what he was expecting to see. We have had new blood work done with me having been off alcohol for seven days to see if they can find more clarity in the results. I have to be off all alcohol for a month while they run a battery of tests on different parts of my body.

My vague comment before about tissue damage and liver was my lame attempt at trying to figure out what my blood test results meant with no medical training whatsoever. I was just looking up terms on the internet that the tests showed were abnormal. This was before I had consulted with any doctor on the results. When the second blood tests come back, I will meet with my primary doctor and I’ll have more information.

The Dark place has a recurrence cycle of between four and seven months. After my therapist did some research into what is happening when I go there he finally found out what is going on. He was flipping through a medical book, found a page that described what’s happening to me to a fucking “T”. Every single thing I go through was listed. It was like a grocery list of every single one of my symptoms. I couldn’t believe it when I read it.

“You are not having panic disorder or anxiety type signatures any more. This is something different. I cannot in good conscious continue to try and solve this when I think you need a different kind of doctor to stop this from happening.“ I am now seeing three new doctors.

The trouble now is narrowing down what is causing the condition. Possibilities that match my symptoms exactly could be caused by a problem with my thyroid, vitamin deficiency, Arrhythmia, Hypertension, Addison’s, Cushing’s, Inappropriate ADH, Brain Abscess, Lymphoma, Disulfiram, Hypercarbia, Brain Tumor, Intracerebral hematoma, Neurosyphilis (I don’t remember having brain sex with a dirty hooker…) Those aren’t even all the things that could cause it, just the interesting ones I recognize.

My hope is for the brain tumor. If they can cut The Dark Place out of me and stop this from happening once every six months that would suit me just fine.

They’ve put me on some new drugs and in a couple of weeks I am having some sort of magnetic resonance imaging scan of my brain. I’m betting it shows an ancient gerbil on a wheel, bottle of whisky in one paw, cigarette dangling from his mouth as he runs.

It cannot be said enough what a rock Wendy has been and I love her more every day for it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bored much?

My computer has died. My Spanish teacher has suddenly found herself pregnant (unplanned) and is having complications that require her to be in bed for weeks, cancling all our classes. Blood tests reveal that I am suffering tissure damage on a massive scale and it points towards my liver.

Shocking no one.

HP is willing to fix my laptop for free, but only inside the US. See, they bought these cheap ass motherboards that are failing all over the world and will replace the motherboard, even out of warrenty, because it is such a pile of crap. They have sent a box to my house in Vermont and all I need to do is ship my computer there, have Doug put my computer into the box and ship it to HP. It comes back fixed, he repackages it and sends it back to me in Spain.

Cost to ship my computer home - $207.00.
Wait time for shipping and repair - hmmm, maybe a month.
Cost to ship computer back to Spain - another $200 plus.
Import taxes from the thieves at customs who will think it is a new computer and I´m importing it to sell it - I´d guess another $200.

So, over $600 to get my computer fixed for free.

We called HP Espana and they won´t swap the motherboard for free, but are aware of the problem and for $400 they have a company that will pick up the computer, fix it, ship it back. So, we´re going that route and hoping it takes less than a month to get my computer back. And doesn´t cost more than $400.

The ¨bored much¨ titled comes from the conversation with the nice Indian woman I had trying to get my computer fixed in the states. This was done using all online support chat.


[An agent will be with you shortly.][You are now chatting with Vanga .]

Vanga : Welcome to HP Total Care for notebook computer, my name is Suman. Please give me a minute while I quickly review the issue description.

Vanga : Hello Jamie,How are you doing today?
Jamie Wakefield : Good, and you?
Vanga : Great and Thank you for asking.
Jamie Wakefield : Do you mind if i paste in what i have done already to try and resolve this problem?
Vanga : Not at all james.
Jamie Wakefield : I have reseated the memory a bunch of times.I have tried starting the machine with only one memory module in for both modules in case one was bad.I have held the power button for 45 seconds with the battery out but plugged in a bunch of times.I took the cmos battery out and powered the machine on a bunch of times to try and reset the bios.I have tried powering the machine on with battery out but pluuged into a wall and vice versa.No change.Product
Vanga : Okay Jamie.
Vanga : I regret the inconvenience caused. And I will assert my best efforts to resolve this issue by the end of this Chat conversation.
Jamie Wakefield : okayVanga : Thank you for the information.
Vanga : Jamie,Restart the computer and after restarting press f10 continuosly.
Vanga : Then let me know what do you able to see on the screen?
Jamie Wakefield : okay
Vanga : Thank you.
Jamie Wakefield : screen remains black and F10 starts to make the computer beep every time I press it.
Vanga : Okay Jamie.
Vanga : Please give me 2 minutes while I research on this issue and help you in a better way.
Jamie Wakefield : no problem
Jamie Wakefield : I´ll just play some pac man on my iPhone.
Vanga : Thank you for being on hold.
Jamie Wakefield : no problem
Vanga : Jamie,As our laptop is not entering into a blue screen when we press f10 then it should be taken for repair?
Jamie Wakefield : okay
Vanga : Jamie,It will be free of cost for you.
Jamie Wakefield : excellent
Vanga : Jamie,May i know where you bought the laptop from?
Jamie Wakefield : i bought it online from the HP site
Vanga : May i know the shipping address
Jamie Wakefield : 62 Ossie Road, Middlebury Vermont 05753
Vanga : Okay.
Vanga : Jamie,If i hope i am not disturbing you,May i know your hobbies?
Jamie Wakefield : I used to play a card game called Magic the Gathering, a lot of video games, comic collecting, read a lot of books and practice mixed martial arts.
Vanga : Jamie,You look like a multi talented.
Jamie Wakefield : I try. :-)
Jamie Wakefield : What do you like to do?
Vanga : Jamie,I like to play sports and travel alot.
Jamie Wakefield : Where have you been?
Vanga : I travel to most of places in india.
Jamie Wakefield : Is there any way to get this repaired in Spain through HP? I am visiting my girlfriend for a month. If not, the US address is fine. That´s where my house is.
Jamie Wakefield : I´ve always wanted to visit India. I´ve been to a few places in Europe and South America and all over the US but never India.
Vanga : Jamie,Sorry to say you that Iam are authorised to take the laptop for repair in spain.
Jamie Wakefield : no problem. The us is fine
Vanga : This time when you get a chance you definately visit india.
Vanga : Thank you.
Vanga : There you can find some good places to see.
Vanga : You can see different people with many traditions and cultures.
Jamie Wakefield : Have you read the very famous book "Eat, Pray, Love" An American woman visits India for four months. Excellent book.
Vanga : No Jamie.
Vanga : Jamie,It seems you have an hobby of reading books?
Jamie Wakefield : So, what are we waiting on Vanga? An RMA number? Yes, I read a ton.
Vanga : jamie,I will create a case ID for you and your laptop will be taken for repair and you will get it within 7 to 9 business days.
Vanga : Jamie,Thank you for sharing your views with me.
Jamie Wakefield : No problem, it´s been nice talking with you.
Vanga : Thank you.
Vanga : I will try to buy the book and read it.
Jamie Wakefield : I´m sure it´s been translated. What do you play for sports?
Vanga : Jamie,Its pleasure assisting you.
Vanga : I love cricket,Tennis.
Vanga : Jamie,Iam i disturbing you?
Jamie Wakefield : Not at all
Vanga : Am i*.
Vanga : Jamie,Thank you.
Jamie Wakefield : My goal today was to get this computer on the way to getting fixed and I have an appointment in 3 hours and I´m happy HP is going to repair my computer for free. I have heard they had a problem with this model and might do that, so I am very happy.
Vanga : Jamie,Is there anything else i need to assist you with,today?
Jamie Wakefield : Nope. Just need to know what happens next. I assume you send a box to my house and I put the computer in it and ship it to you?
Vanga : Thats it.
Jamie Wakefield : Excellent. Thank you Vanga. I don´t need anything else but it has been a pleasure talking with you.
Vanga : Its my pleasure too.
Jamie Wakefield : I´m sorry, not Vanga, Suman.
Vanga : No problem.
Vanga : Jamie,I would like to provide you with an Activity ID. Though I am confident that the issue is resolved however, in case the issue re-surfaces/re-occurs, please feel free to contact us with the same reference id/number to help you in a timely manner. Activity ID: 18080.
Jamie Wakefield : okay, thank you Suman.
Vanga : Jamie,I am really happy chatting with you.
Vanga : Thank you for contacting HP Total Care Real-Time chat support. For any further assistance, please contact us again at:
http://www.hp.com/support/chat
Chat support is available 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Jamie Wakefield : Thank you Suman. Have a good rest of the day.
Vanga : Jamie,You are welcome and take care.

It was very pleasant chatting with her, but that last part lasted thirty minutes. As you can see, I finally had to ask ¨Vanga, what is the next step? What are we waiting for? She then stated she would open a case file and gave me a number to reference in case I needed it. Then I walked around Madrid trying to find a place that I couls ship my computer home and found out it was $207 and came home, the whole thing being for nothing.