Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen?

It is eleven oh one p.m. I am composing this in my head and cannot sleep. Beside me, Wendy is blissfully oblivious, sleeping deeply as is her gift. The new lights above my head are dimmed to almost nothingness. It is wonderful. Serene. Wendy thinks of all the right details.

It is nine a.m. the previous morning. Wendy is reading on her iPhone next to me and I know I should get up. I have a lot to do in the next few hours. I slumber as long as my body lets me then take a cold shower and start work. Seven hours from now I will be asleep on a plane in a haze and Wendy will be softly crying in the seat next to me. I will be unaware of this fact until she tells me four hours later.

It is eleven oh seven Middlebury time. I have been awake for twenty-two hours. I get up and can’t find my glasses but must compose this note. Wait. I have a spare pair in my computer bag.

It is ten-thirty a.m. I have put away the dishes, closed and shuttered all the windows, taken the trash downstairs, weighed the bags twice, taken down another duffle and filled it with extra things. I carry the two fifty pound bags downstairs, sweating like a fat man in August. I sit on the stairs to rest and forget to check the mail for my driver’s license and credit card that were shipped to me weeks ago from Vermont. I am angry, and have been for days, for reasons I cannot fathom.

It is eight-thirty. Doug greets us as at the door and insists on helping me with the luggage. The new porch is stunning. The skylights are awe-inspiring. The new bedrooms are too large to be believed. They are like a cathedral. The dogs don’t recognize me. Morganna looks like she has mange. Merlin looks like he is going to explode in a massive ball of fur. Nikki looks like she always looks – terrified.

It is ten-thirty. After an amazing talk with my parents, I am home. Wendy and Doug are asleep. The house is mine. Look… a picture of Lorelei and Dharmesh at my desk. A badge showing my name and nationality for the pro tour. The amazing, stunning, wonderful piece of art that Wendy made out of my column, the card and the original artwork for “Timbermare.” Superman memorabilia. Ashes of my former dogs, waiting to be scattered with mine when I finally give in to that dark night. Pictures of fat Jamie with Marilyn. A movie ticket from Wendy’s and my first date. My favorite picture of Wendy. A suit of armor that stands two feet high.

I love this house.

It is twelve-thirty in the afternoon and they have finally turned on the video system on the airplane. Who watches the Watchmen? I do. For the second time. The first time, not so much. The second time, I am pretty sure it is a thing of beauty. I love it. It speaks to me in a way few movies ever have.

It is 5:47 a.m Madrid time. I am going to sleep.

I hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Watchmen

"Never compromise. Not even in the face of armageddon." - Rorshack.

I have always tried to live my life by this standard, and yet, it is impossible and unrealistic. Nice thought though.

sigh

I have found the Watchmen movie - moving, emotional, wonderful, terrrible, awful and fantastic. I don't understand the choices the director made in making the movie ultra violent, sleek, super-heroic and... something it is not.

I found parts of it beautiful though. The entire sequence of Jon turning into Dr Manhatten was... stunning. Beautiful. Perfectly translated. Dan being impotent without his costume was also a perfect translation of the comic.

Other parts fell short for me. The change to the ending was... a mistake. It made no sense to me. The original Alan Moore ending made more sense. The sleek, skin tight costumes made no sense. Rorshack both worked and was a change.

It's very late. I wish I could sleep.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

You heard it here first

I hope Florian kicks Penn's ass and I don't think I'm going to have a "hindsight is 20/20" moment when I realize, "Of course Penn won." Sorry, but I am bucking the odds and saying Florian takes this. Penn has boxing and jits. Florian has it all. Muai Tai > Boxing because punch + kicks > just punches. And I'm pretty sure Florian has a bigger gas tank and a longer reach.

Yes, I know it's a lame, quick post, more later.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Galicia

Wendy and I are on vacation in Galicia, driving the coastline and staying in little fishing villages by day and at night staying in castles converted into hotels (Paradors.)

Hence, updates are more than a little off.

We will be back in Madrid for two days then it's off to Vermont for a month. I will do my best to get something amusing up on the two days we are home in Madrid, and post frequently from Vermont.

Thanks for everyone's support who checks regularly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Well... that sucks.

Been looking for a new title for the book. I wonder what happens when you type "Cancer Sucks" into Google? A lot of hits. Charities. T-Shirts. Bumper stickers. Ads. Interesting. Wonder if anyone has written a book with that title.

Amazon.com > Cancer sucks > search > books.

Wow are there a lot of books on Cancer. I mean, wow. Holy...Wow.

"Cancer Sucks" by ...
"Breast Cancer Husband."
"Chicken soup for the Soul: Cancer."
"I didn't order this pink ribbon."
"Help me survive:"

and on and on and on.

Which, should come as no surprise, but it does. I'm dumb that way. I guess that explains why a hundred query letters to agents resulted in so many rejections. Not that original a topic I guess.

Oh well, work continues. I know my writing will set my book apart. The current plan is to finish up Lena's suggestions, have Wendy read it and offer final suggestions, self publish it, have a proof sent to the house in Middlebury, hopefully approve it, order fifty copies for me, friends and the Vermont Bookstore and convince them to sell it in their store since so many people in Middlebury knew Marilyn and I. Then an ad campaign on Project Wonderful. A mass mailing to everyone in my address book advertising the book is finally done and available on Amazon in softcover and Kindle edition. Then the same on Facebook.

I'm thinking early August.

Monday, July 13, 2009

It needs a new title.

My friend Chris McMahon has been doing editing for me on Marilyn's Story and just sent me the latest changes. I have to look through Lena's comments and then Wendy is going to read the final copy for one last look for mistakes and then I'm publishing it. It's been a long journey.

It needs a new title. "Courage Made Flesh" is unanimously hated. Hopefully one will come to me as I look it over these last three times but any suggestions you have are appreciated.

Thanks

Jamie

Nice Quote

Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
– Mark Twain

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Watchmen just isn't big enough.

I haven't finished it yet, so excuse me for my premature ejacu-reaction, but it doesn't feel right to me.

There are problems and the first that strikes me is not that important, but the one I just watched, so, yay, you get to hear about that first.

Rorshack is in prison. He is threatened in the food line by a large man with a shank who wants to add Rorshack's "autograph" to his shank. Rorshack kicks his ass and badly burns him with hot fryer fat and then proclaims to everyone watching -

"You don't understand. You think I'm locked up here with you. You're wrong. You're locked up here with me!"

Sorry, bad directing. This should have been a tight shot of Rorshack's face screaming this line as security restrains him. They should have shown other terrified prisoners. They should have shown that Rorshack was a danger to them. They should have shown that Rorshack was special, dangerous, intense, mad and someone to be feared.

What they showed was bland. It was Rorshack delivering a line. He delivered it well. But the camera didn't do a close up of him. It didn't show the reaction of the other prisoners. It didn't show... anything. It showed a line delivered from the comic. Which, in the comic, you can imagine all of that.

As previously stated, I have not finished the movie. So far, I like it; with reservations. The skin tight lycra is wrong. In the comic, it is clear that Alan Moore is trying to show men dressed in costumes and how ridiculous that is. They aren't supposed to be "superheroes" they're supposed to be guys dressed in, sometimes, ill fitting tights.

And the ultra-violence is just insane. I can handle such images, but Jesus! a lot of people can't and will be turned off by the slow motion breaking of limbs, the blood splattering from wounds and the bones sticking through skin. It adds NOTHING to the movie. Hell, it detracts from it.

More later after I finish it, but the Rorshack scene of him splashing the guy with hot fat was just so poorly done I had to write about it.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Is that man naked?


You know how when you live somewhere you never really go to the touristy parts of your own location? It took me two years of living here in Madrid before I finally entered the Prado. I still haven’t taken the Royal Palace tour. For a long time Wendy has wanted to play tourist and visit a bunch of the little towns that make up Spain. Due to a confluence of unexpected circumstances, that turned out to be our July. We took a fifty Euro flight to Valencia, drove down to Denia and spent a long weekend there, relaxing on the beach and eating some fine, fine seafood. We rented a car and drove down to Extremadura to look at the Roman ruins, watch a play, eat some fine Jamon and explore a monastery.

“Pull over! Pull over right now!”

After nearly a thousand kilometers the trip ended on the Gran Via a mere twenty yards from the Avis garage where we would return the car. Two hopped up motorcycle cops (actually, they use scooters; so intimidating!) were flashing blue lights alongside the car and yelling so much I thought I must have hit a toddler crossing the street and it was stuck in the grill.

Wendy leans over to speak with them through my window.

They are very excited. Wendy is talking very fast but is conciliatory. I understand enough to know she is saying it is totally our fault and she is sorry and yes, she heard the woman behind us honking but the woman had been honking at the light, honking at the turn, honking at the straightaway… She probably honks at the drive through to McDonalds. So, her honking meant nothing to us except that she is an impatient bitch. As the yelling around me continues I decide it is time for a mental checklist :

1. Expired driver’s license that looks nothing like me. Check.
2. Not supposed to be driving the car, it’s in Wendy’s name. Check.
3. Passport that shows I am long past my allotted time to stay here, hence, an illegal alien. Check.

“Do you see that sign over there?” pointing over his shoulder at a small disk of metal perched on top of the stop light.

“I can see the back of it; which has no writing on it.”

“There’s no turning left anywhere on the Gran Via. You should have circled around and turned right or taken a side street that points you directly into the garage.”

“I’m so sorry, it’s totally our fault, we just didn’t know.”

The cop pauses for a minute to look at me. “How come you’re talking? How come he isn’t talking?”

“You’re speaking too fast for him to understand.”

“Did he see that sign? Because that sign shows you can only go straight.”

“We were being very careful, we were both looking for signs…”

“Why were you looking for signs? He should be looking for signs.”

Okay, what? In a city we never drive in and don’t know all the traffic rules she should be reading or playing a game on her iPhone rather than both of us do our best to do the right thing?

“Turning left on the Gran Via is a very serious offense. Since you’re a foreigner I am going to have to give you a two hundred Euro ticket.”

“Since I’m a foreigner you have to give me a ticket?”

(Yes, this conversation actually happened.)

And now, since Wendy is being very nice and apologetic, they start to cool off. They tell Wendy that she should know about how traffic works on the Gran Via, and needs to be more careful. Then he changes his mind about the ticket. “Well, actually, two hundred Euros is a lot of money.”
“Yes it is, but we’ll pay it because we were wrong and we’re sorry.”

“Where are you going in the city?”

“To that garage you can see right there with the Avis sign on it. We’re parking the car and then walking.”

“Well, we’ll let you off with a warning, and well, be more careful and have a nice day.”

And they drive off on their fierce little scooters.

Wendy explains to me the parts I missed.

“Well, all in all, that went well,” I say to Wendy.

“I think that they were expecting a typical Spanish screaming match. When I didn’t give them one they didn’t quite know how to react at first then eventually realized they didn’t need to be so aggressive and the adrenaline wore off.”

We park the car, leave the garage and return to the scene of the crime. I try to find the sign Wendy tells me was the cause of all that drama. “That sign? The little blue one, high above the street with the little arrow pointing straight ahead? The one mixed in with the billboards, the stoplight, the paintings on the road, the flashing neon of the restaurants all around us? That’s supposed to tell us there are no left turns on this road?”

“Apparently so.”

“Good thing they so aggressively yelled at us to pull over, cut off other drivers, forced me to almost run over pedestrians in the crosswalk so they could tell us that. Good Lord.”

“Yeah, that was pretty insane. But do you know how lucky we are?

Thinking back to my mental checklist and then add on the top of that we don’t have to pay a two hundred dollar fine I nod my head. “Very lucky.”

That was just a side anecdote. What I really wanted to tell you about was our trip to San Sebastian. But then I thought, “I need to amuse people first.”

“Is that man naked or wearing a thong?”

He rolls over.

...

“And that would be naked.”

There is an old naked man baking in the sun on the beach in San Sebastian.

I’ll explain all about San Sebastian next. Hopefully by the end of today. This is just a teaser because I haven’t posted anything in a week and I wanted you to be entertained this morning.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

How can it be July 1st already?

Time flies.

Funny conversation this morning on IM.

Jamie: My penis just grew an inch
Wendy White: yes?
Wendy White: what's her name?
Jamie: I fixed the towel rack and I'm not even bleeding!
Wendy White: excellent
Wendy White: you didn't do it with the ham knife did you?
Wendy White: I would think that would be key
Jamie: lol, not this time.

Between Dentist appt's, Psych appts, blood tests, brain scan and traveling around in Spain for more days than we are home for the month of July, it is going to be a busy month.

Work continues on Quest II. I finally defeated the dreaded L00001 error MTG:Online has been giving me for two months and was able to log in and watch some games. So far I've seen a lot of Bitterblossom fairies and a lot of elves with a guy costing SEVEN mana being played who allows you to draw a card for each creature in play. Some good. No Verdant Force, but with that 7/7 flash anti-flyer monster (Thresh-something) Green looks to be pretty strong with some nice fat.

And Holy Cow do I have a lot of rares! Soon to be trade stock.

It will be a slow process though because, as I said, we're on the road more than we're home this month. It's going to be spectacular but not very productive. My goals are to lose nine pounds, get Quest II and Marilyn's Story both available in soft cover and Kindle form by the end of August. (Self published but available from Amazon.) I think that's doable. I'd like to see some live Magic when I'm in the states if I can find a tournament (and time) this August and get some writings up here about the current state and my feelings about the game.

Don't have much time to write, but did want to tell you about a fantastic book Wendy found called "Born to Run." I will be buying a copy for my sister, brother and father. It is a story about man, Nike, Ultra-marathon's and the greatest runners of all time that are disappearing from the planet.

My sister will enjoy it because she just finished her first marathon this spring and runs like a gazelle. Fast, often, and far. My father and brother will like it for the hunting aspect.

See, we survived because we can sweat. Because we can actually run an animal so far that it will eventually collapse with exhaustion. Most animals cannot sweat. They pant. They have to stop running to rest or they will overheat and die. The human body is a water and air cooled miracle that can run prey down. Like a tortoise and a hare race, we can't catch a gazelle in a straight out sprint, but give us three hours and we will win.

What the author explains is that running is NOT bad for your body. That we, as a species, survived because we are such good runners. That the foot is actually such a well designed piece of engineering, that cushioning it in soft plastic gel is actually what is causing all the running injuries people get. I know it sounds hard to believe, but it's all explained in the book.

There are a dozen different directions this books goes in. From the above already mentioned topics, to an examination of the Ultra-Marathon culture and people running through Death Valley, to the advantages of running barefoot, to a race of people in Mexico that will spend the entire night drinking corn beer, have an orgy, then run twenty-four hours. Without rest.

The writing is not captivating. (Sorry man.) The author is a professional magazine writer and he does his job well, but I wouldn't seek out his other material. His style doesn't grab you. The subject matter on the other hand, is endlessly fascinating. It makes you want to run. I ran today.

I recommend the book to anyone whose interest is even mildly tickled by my description. It's a good book and Wendy and I both enjoyed the subject matter enough to spark some great discussions. Plus, neither of us could put it down so that's saying somrthing.