Saturday, July 22, 2006

Some Days are Diamonds...

Some days are rocks!
-- Tom Petty

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I don’t wanna’ grow up!

And we wrap up rapid-fire blogging tonight with something near and dear to my heart: Robot toys from the 80’s.

My friend Brett invited me over to cook out at his house. I’ve only been to his house once and that was to tour it and I was about 2 hours too late to put a bid on it. Damnit!

Well the house went to a good owner.

After the brats were on their way to being digested and we were on our third or fourth beer the subject of 80’s toys came up, and Brett broke out his collection of Transformers.

A pretty nice collection including an original Megatron, Optimous Prime, Perceptor, Omega Supreme and a complete Devastator!

We spent a couple hours trying to figure out how to convert these multi-dimensional toys in our adulthood, when we could do it in our sleep as children.

There’s something completely wholesome about 2 guys drinking beer and playing with toys kept in the basement for 20 years.
I also quoted him some prices and with the live-action Transformers movie coming out next year, the hype and excitement around Robots in Disguise will only grow and he’ll make a killing on ebay then!

On being a Weblebrity

n. pl. web·leb·ri·ties
a person recognized in real life for activity participated in on the internet.

Real celebrities don't have to ask to be asked for their autograph
I was introduced to the above term by my friend John a.k.a. "novapup" (a weblebrity in his own rite) from Washington. He describes his wife as a weblebirty. She goes by the internet name Panda and writes for the anime news website As they attend anime and sci-fi conventions people will see her nametag and ask “are you THE Panda?”

She is!

So this weekend I was in Cincinnati for an anime convention that I can’t pronounce and refuse to try and spell. It was a good time. webmaster (and big time weblebrity) Steve Yun and I partied pretty good.

While I was there I met a few other Robotech fans and one in particular who asked, “are you THE Azoric from”

”Yes I am,” I replied.

The eyes of the young man before me widened as he suddenly realized he was in the presence of a real-life weblebrity.

Yes I do like the attention. And when it gets back to me via the internet, I like it even more. You see when TrueGritt1 (his internet name) got home he posted the following on

Hey guys. I was at Ikasucon this weekend and I met Steve Yun and Azoric!!!

I was there when Steve presented the new Robotech movie, and it looks cool! I even got my picture taken with Steve!

And then later, at this Giant Robot Battle Panel, that was hosted by Steve, I met Azoric! Two very cool people and it was fun seeing them both. (I took Azoric's picture too.)

It was fun!!!

Not a lot of people know this, but I am quite fameous!

Bad Twin: A "Lost" Fan's review

I’m not usually much for mystery writing. I havent’ read the Da Vinci Code, the closest thing I’ve read to a mystery is the directions to potatos au grautten that I had no idea how it would turn out when I actually pulled them out of the oven… the verdict: Tasty!

Techincially I haven’t read the book I’m about to review, but an iPod plus summer travel plus being a "Lost"FANATIC means I downloaded the audiobook for my flights and drives.

First a little background. Bad Twin was written by Gary Troupe, who I understand was killed in the tragic loss of Oceaniac Flight 815 somewhere in the Paciffic Ocean.

Wait a second… that was on a TV show, not in reality! What’s going on here??? ABC/Disney/ Hyperion Press got my seventeen bucks that’s what!

Finally onto the story…

Bad twin is the story of Paul Artisan a private investigator in New York who takes on small cases to sustain his meager lifestyle. Usually snapping pictures of disability-claiming workers playing tennis or trophies wives with the gardener. These small cases are disrupted when Cliff Widmore, a real estate mogul hires Artisan to track down his estranged twin brother.

"Lost" fans will jump at the name Widmore, more on that later.

The search for Xander (short for Alexander) Widmore takes him from Manhattan to the Jersey shipyards, to Key West, Havanna, a hippy retreat in California, Sydney and back to New York.

Artisan’s unofficial partner in this quest is his former professor and literature aficionado Manny Wiseman who quotes famous books in regard to the case at hand. You know now that I’m seeing some of these names in print for the fist time I’m actually beginning to notice a literal character depiction in the name. Wiseman: with all the answers, Artisan: who is performing the act, no I say art of gumshoeing. But I digress…

Even though I went into this book as simply a Lost fan looking to get my fix among summer reruns, I found myself getting into the character, his atctions and trying to figure out for myself what exactly happened to Xander Widmore?

Complicating things is the fact that whenever Paul interviews someone they end up dead within forty-eight hours. Now misdirection is a staple of mystery writing, thus sending you down a false path only to bring you to the true path in the end.

Yes, that is how every mystery novel is and this is no different. You can’t argue with what works.
This book however also includes a nice old man with his dog, a sexy Australian PI and a sweet old man in a sweater with a blind old dog who pushes you closer to the answer you need.

And that is what you need to keep your interest between little clues left in there for the rest of us “Lost” fans.

Hey It’s a pretty good book. Perfect for summer reading, or downloading to your iPod. If you’re not a “Lost” fan then you may not know why the Hanso Foundation gets some unnecessary mentions.

And that brings us to what you really want: The "Lost"References in the book:
  1. Widmore
    The Whitmore family hires Paul Artisan to find their estranged brother/son who has gone missing since April 15th (4, 15 - Numbers). Whitmore is also the last name of Desmond's lost lover. No reference to Penny who’s father’s name is Charles Widmore if you were wondering.
  2. Hanso
    The Hanso foundation has an office on the 42nd (numbers again) floor of the Whitmore Building in New York.
  3. Thomas Middleverk - Hanso Executive, Widmore Board member
    Middleverk is mentioned as a recent addition to the Whitmore Board of Directors. He his described as more political and devious than his stately predecessor, Alvar Hanso.
  4. Alvar Hanso
    A former member of the Whitmore Board
  5. Mr. Cluck's
    A chicken resturant where Paul Artisan stops for a quick dinner upon arriving in California. Also where Hurley worked before winning the Lotery.
  6. Cindy
    A stewardess on Oceanic Airlines. Also mentioned as the real-life romantic interest of the author.
  7. 81516 (8, 15, 16)
    The keypad entry to the Whitmore estate, also the twin's birthdays (August 15th and 16th, born 23 (another member) minutes apart on either side of midnight... also a Lost number)

These references don't really do much to open up any mysteries on the show. Theyre also little more than assides to the story, but they were fun little ad-ins for us lostaways.

Rapid-fire blogging, coming your way

Rapid-fire blogging, coming your way...

Strap in and feel the g's!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Apparently I do have time to bleed…

“I ain’t got time to bleed” – Jessee Ventura
“If you prick us do we not bleed” – Shakespeare
“T’is only a flesh wound” – Monty Python

The title here has been borrowed, and made grammatically correct, from my literary equal Jessee Ventura who first said the line after not getting shot in the movie “Predator” he eventually was dragged through the jungle and skinned alive by an alien on his rite of passage.

The other too quotes are loosely related to what I have to say today.

Yesterday I gave blood… hence having time to bleed. Asside from needing some iron in my diet things went relatively well. Well except my nurse who looked like he should be playing bass for Rob Zombie couldn’t find my vein. I’m totally going to have a bruise today!

After my crystal Lite and cookies I went to the Used Book Store. Last week my mom cleaned out my Grandma’s apartment since she really can’t live alone anymore. I suggested taking the books to the Half Priced Books instead of throwing them out.

After a week of sliding around my trunk, the box I had the books in had broken. So I went into the Store and asked for a box to carry them in. The nice lady with the British Accent (I don’t know if that’s a prerequisite for working with books, but it made me trust her right away) offered me one of the collapsed ones at her desk. Also being helpful she used a packing tape roll gun to secure the box.

That’s all well and good in itself but where she cut the tape happened to be exactly where my left middle finger was resting.

Now if you’ve been paying attention you know that I just lost a pint of blood to the Red Cross, and now I have had my finger cut by the British lady at the Used Book Store. Not only do I have time to bleed, I am now bleeding in overtime!

It was really just a scratch, but it did bleed pretty good. They gave me a Band-Aid and helped me carry the box of books in; because I had not one, but two Red Cross stickers on my shirt, and a bright green bandage on my elbow.

Hoping they’d feel bad and give me a lot more for that box of books didn’t help. In fact, as is the case when you trade in items at a retail store, I ended up owing them two dollars.

But it was worth it. I found a dvd copy of the original 1953 version of War of the Worlds. You know; the edition that has an ending that isn’t completely disjointed from the rest of the movie.
So there’s the adventure of Andy and his blood.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Four Garters and no wife…

I’m not the most athletic guy in the world. Oh I have my moments. I’m valued by my volleyball team, I ran track and cross country all the way through college, I’ve even lifted a weight or two! But I seem to have one competitive skill that just happens to outshine the others.

I catch garters at weddings.

I caught my first garter at the age of 12, I thought it was the neatest thing… Not only did I get to catch this lacy silky thing, I go to put it on some good looking blonde’s leg. Sadly, however this would be my only chance to perform the second half of the Garter ceremony due to a series of coincidences to be described forthcoming.

That early 90’s summer night was pretty wild. Now I know the proper thing to do here is to put the garter as high as possible on the bouquet catcher’s leg as possible. But in my youth I was much shier than I am now. And my parents were there. I did my best to put on a show nonetheless.

My second catch was at a close college friend’s wedding.

It just so happened the one of my former college track teammate's dates caught the bouquet. Her name is Renee, and she's about 5"5' buxom blond with a beautiful smile and did I mention she's an aerobics instructor? No, well that should give you a mental image of the type of woman we're dealing with here. Now if it were anyone else I probably would have not done what I'm about to describe. But at least I have plenty of beer coming my way.

Renee's boyfriend at the time is about 5"4' and 220 lbs. I'm not exactly sure what he does for a living, but as long as I’ve known him I've known 2 things about him.
1) He’s got incredible speed for up to 200 meters
2) He can bench press about 3 of me!

So, as Adam (the groom) pulls of the garter from Amy (bride)… Oh on a side note, Adam’s looking again. Jason and I are at the front of the group trying to catch the piece of lingerie. (Didn’t think I could spell that word did you? well I looked it up!) The garter went up! A volley of hands reached and batted the flimsy piece of silk forward. Like a right outside linebacker spotting a loose football I dove at my target. The path was clear and I was about to beat 20 other single guys to the goal.

Yes, I had recovered the garter; it was in my hands and mine for the keeping!

Does the story end here? No, Of course not! When have I ever posted a story about my life that ends in absolute bliss? When have I ever written a story where I actually get the girl? When have I ever been able to sit back, tell everyone that my life is perfect and I have every want and desire fulfilled? Never I tell you NEVER! Because stories that end that way just totally suck!

Thus my adventure continues. There I was, on the ground, lingerie in my hand, however at that moment I ceased to be that linebacker. I turned, saw Jason and suddenly became a punt returner. Not the speed returner but the guy who catches the ball and pitches it back to his teammate and blocks a path to the endzone.

Yes my friends, I gave up my chance to touch a girl's leg (cut me some slack... its been a while) out of sheer loyalty to my friend... oh, and um, absolute fear for my life. Jason owes me more free beer than he realizes!

Now seeing as my selfless act ended in all parties involved returning shortly to singlehood I have resolved to do my matrimonial duty and ruthlessly obtain small items of lingerie by any means necessary.

Fast forward a couple years to my friend Tom’s wedding. Tom and I grew up in the same church. Though we didn’t go to the same school or hang out a whole lot outside of church we are always able to pick up where we left off when we see each other around holidays and such back at the old church.

Now Tom is a basketball player and coach, not professionally, but for the school he at which he teaches. Therefore many of his friends are also basketball-playing dudes. Me, well, I’m a football fan. So while Tom is reaching up under his new bride’s dress (it sounds naughty, but it’s appropriate when you think about it!) and pulls out the circular lace accent piece.

As the basketball players all tried to box each other out as if to rebound a missed jumpshot I summoned the spirit of Pittsburgh Steelers Safety, Troy Polamalu and chased down the airborne object, not allowing it to travel toward the guys playing basketball.

Upon grasping the item I tucked it under my arm and ran the distance of the dance floor as if it were the end zone.


That brings us to this past Saturday and the wedding of two friends from my current church. The wedding ceremony itself was simple and short, and thus quite impressive to my catholic “date” (don’t ask, this isn’t a dating blog).

The reception was equally nice, and after an eight-year-old girl caught the bouquet It was my turn to put on a show.

This summer I started playing sand volleyball at a local bar. It’s fun, you get to meet interesting people and there’s something about playing in the sand that makes you happy! I’ve also gained quite the skill for diving for white projectile objects. (you totally know where I’m going with this!)

As the crowd awaits, Phil feels around under Katie’s dress and pulls out the satiny circle. On a count of three he tosses the lingerie over his shoulder and to the opposite side of the single-guy crowd from me.

Without thinking, only reacting, I leap over some toddlers before me and in front of some large ex-football types to the right of me to snag the garter as I landed on my stomach and slid four feet toward the bar.

A more spectacular dive Greg Louganis could not have made.

So there you have it, I have caught the garter four times and I’m still single. So if you’re a girl who’s still single and keeps catching bouquets, please reply below with your name, email address, a photo and your bra size!

Kidding about that last one… but not really!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Superman Returns, and I really want to love this movie…

I want to love this movie, I really do, but I just can’t.

I love Bryan Singer. What he did in 2000 with X-Men was a huge paradigm shift in comic book movies. Whereas in the past your comic-based movies were made to bring the audience into the world of the comic hero, instead he brought the comic heroes into our world. This brought a trend to comic movies and helped to produce some of the finest and most entertaining superhero films of all time, including the first two Spider-Man films and the latest Batman movie.

Now I can respect Singer for his intentions, but sometimes the best of intentions go wrong. Singer did his best to emulate the directorial style of Richard Donnor who directed the first two Superman movies (He was fired half way through the second but that’s another story). It is in not doing what he does best that Singer does the movie, his reputation and the audience a great disservice.

This movie takes place 5 years after the events of Superman 2. In that time Scientists have found the remains of Krypton and Superman (Brendon Ruth) returns to his home planet to see it for himself.

Upon Returning he discovers the world has changed without him. He discovers that Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has won he Pulitzer for her story “Why The World Doesn’t Need Superman.” To top this shock to our hero’s system, Lois is engaged to a senior editor at the Daily Planet and they are raising a son.

Here’s where this movie really looses a lot of credit with fans. I have a belief in something called “Generally Accepted Superhero Lore” which is the dynamic of characters, events and interactions that are absolutely central to creating a classic superhero. They are generally accepted because most people, be they comic fans or not, are privy to these elements.

Case in point: Superman is the story of a super powered alien who comes to earth, disguises himself as a bumbling human, Clark Kent, in order to fit in with his adopted home. His love interest as a human is Lois Lane who usually is less-than-receptive to Clark’s advances and is absolutely in love with Superman. Simply put, you can write any superman story based on these rules.

This movie broke those rules.

But that’s not the worst offence of this movie. Casting was a major issue. Ruth is actually a very good Superman. His greatest asset is that he looks quite like Christopher Reeve in the 80’s (but with very long eyelashes). By the way, Reeve was the best superman of all time not by how he played Superman but how he played Clark Kent. Watch Reeve try to ask Lois out on a date in the first movie and tell me I’m wrong.

Kevin Spacy is Lex Luthor: Superman’s arch nemesis and supremely intelligent super criminal. Spacy is probably one of my favorite actors. When I heard he was cast in this role I had so much hope for a completely evil and psychotically nasty Lex Luthor. Instead, and this goes back to the directorial style decision mentioned above, we have Spacy playing Gene Hackman playing Lex Luthor. It just gives you the sense that things could have been so much more… real.

Finally, and the worst offender of the bunch was one of the most interesting characters in the Super-world. Kate Bosworth fails to actually play the sassy, never-take-no-for-an-answer Lois in favor of… well, a soccer mom. It is up to everyone else around her to play the role for her because she becomes your rather typical damsel in distress.

Finally we have the movie itself. In what could have been a great Superman story where the good guy faces off with the bad guy and after much turmoil good finally defeats evil we get a good versus evil plot that seemed rehashed from Superman I and a more involving plot where Superman and Clark try to deal with the issues left by his absence.

There are a couple plot twists that effectively knock you out of your seat, but much like tequila shots you find yourself regretting it in the morning.

It is my understanding that at the request of Warner Bros. Picures Bryan Singer was cutting scenes up until a week before the film’s debut. This means that the 2-hour forty-minute running time is actually the light version of the picture with the whole story only to be available on a director’s cut DVD with the extra forty-five minutes added in.

In the end this movie just tried to do too much. Between revisualizing the character dynamic, childhood flashbacks and an unnecessary third act sub-plot it bites off more then it can chew.

There was so much potential here. And so much of it never came to fruition. I wanted to love this movie. I really did, but in the end I just couldn’t.