My face; you should kill it


My body has given up.  Totally and completely given up.  I don’t know why; I can’t honestly say that I’m sick, because “sick” generally involves symptoms beyond exhaustion, laying around, sleeping (during the daytime), insomnia (at night) and wanting to die.  I had a pounding headache all day yesterday that neither caffeine nor ibuprofin could get rid of; that’s mostly gone today but the level of effort it took to drag my ass from my bedroom to the office and type out these couple of paragraphs is almost embarrassing to describe.

I have to go to work tonight.  Not sure how the hell that’s supposed to work.

Speaking of carpentry…


Today’s Cavalcade of Fail will involve going over to my brother’s house and helping him rebuild his deck, which is currently in the no-particular-skill-needed “demolition” phase.  His deck is rotten and nasty and has been since he bought his house and he’s apparently finally gotten tired of it, so the old deck is getting ripped down this week and the new deck is slated to get rebuilt on Saturday.

I am hoping beyond all hope that we’ll find out that the structure underneath the deck is sound and that what went wrong with the previous one is just that the owners failed to properly waterproof the thing.  He claims that that may be the case based on what he’s already torn up; if I’m right than all we should have to do is pull up the old boards and then screw new ones into the old structure.  If the old structure isn’t sound then this is going to be a much more complicated process and we are almost certainly going to do it terribly wrong.

Frankly I’ll be perfectly happy if I manage to make it through today without injuring myself; we’ll worry about Saturday on Saturday.

At least y’all will have a story about how I badly injured myself to look forward to.

Memo to Guitar Center:  I know you like having the lots of merchandise near the floor thing and the whole crowded aisles thing; your store is niche enough that you’re never going to have a thousand customers in there at one time and it’s cool to have stuff everywhere to look at and apparently the whole “labyrinth” approach to your floor layout appeals to something in your corporate culture.  I’m good with that.

Maybe, though, if you’re going to have $800 guitars, you don’t set them so that if you take half a step backwards while trying to look at a harmonica that is pegboarded a foot off the ground you bump into that $800 guitar and almost knock it onto the floor, causing employees to shriek at you OH MY GOD DON’T MOVE  while they rush over and rescue the precious piece of inventory before it slides off of your back and hits the ground.  Especially when said $800 guitar is, for no clear reason, nowhere near any other guitars and hanging perilously to begin with.  I cannot possibly have been the first person to bump into this goddamn thing.  Make better layout choices, please.  I shouldn’t be able to describe any part of a retail store as a booby trap, y’know?

Heh.  Booby.

Things I want to learn

Had to cancel another ukulele appointment yesterday; it’s been two weeks since the first one, which is still the only one I’ve been to.  Other things keep intervening on both our parts.  I’m practicing occasionally but not really committing to it.  Still can’t handle that whole three-finger-chord thing.  I suspect when I topped out at Medium difficulty on Guitar Hero and Rock Band that was life telling me that I was never going to be any good at playing stringed instruments.

That said, it got me thinking about what other shit I was terrible at that I didn’t want to be terrible at any more.  Here’s a partial list.  Add your own!

  • Cooking.  I’m actually making great progress on this so far this year, as shown by the fact that half of my posts are about something I made.  But I want to be better.  I’m still doing pretty well for someone who could barely boil things at the beginning of 2013.  My next target is going to be chicken paprikash; sometime in the next couple of days.  In the meantime I need to find some hot paprika.
  • I have failed at learning two academic things in my life.  The first is calculus, which I dropped out of about 2/3 of the way through my senior year when I realized that a) I didn’t need it to graduate; b) I was already admitted to and scholarshipped at my school of choice, and c) I was a goddamn second-semester senior and screw calculus.  I took no math whatsoever in college, unless statistics count, and I loved both of the statistics courses I’ve taken– I tested out of all of the requirements my college had.  But I would like, as a grown-up, to have at least a vague understanding of what calculus is about and how it works.  There is a course on my iPad.  I’ve never opened it.
  • The second thing is Arabic, which I made the mistake of taking my first semester of my freshman year in college, and I wasn’t prepared for it so I dropped it.  I’ve learned Hebrew since then so I know I can handle non-European scripts.  There’s a course for this on my iPad too.  I don’t even necessarily want to learn to speak or understand it; I just want to be able to read and write in it.  I can still read (pointed) Hebrew, if slowly, despite the thirteen years that have passed since I had any formal instruction, so I figure once I’ve learned it it isn’t going to go away.
  • The building trades.  I could make this four bullets if I wanted to, but I gotta leave for work in a few minutes.  In no particular order:  Carpentry, plumbing, electrician…ing, and enough basic mechanical engineering that I feel like I know my way around an engine.  I’d like to know enough to be able to wire up a lamp to a switch or build a bookshelf or replace drywall or fix a spark plug or trade out a toilet without screwing it up.  It’s entirely possible that I’m already capable of these things if I take my time and am careful about it, but I’d like to know enough to know that what I’m about to do isn’t going to work, rather than my usual method of repeatedly screwing up until I get it right.  I’m not completely clueless; I managed to install a new radio in my current car without electrocuting myself, but still.  Better is the metric here.
  • Botany.  There’s a bunch of goddamn plants in my back yard; I wanna know what they are.
  • Music, specifically ukulele and harmonica, and whatever music theory knowledge is required to be able to competently handle those two instruments.  I have a story that I need to remember to tell you about going to Guitar City yesterday.  I very nearly did something bad.

I’m sure there’s more; I’ll edit if something obvious comes up.  What do you want to know about that you don’t?

In which I was right and I hate it

Can I call something a crushing disappointment if it was exactly what I thought it was going to be? There really should be a word– maybe there is, and I just don’t know it– for something that you don’t want to suck, that you think probably will suck, that then turns out to suck just like you thought it would.

Why, yes, I did see Pacific Rim yesterday, how’d you guess?

As my wife and I were walking out of the theater I suggested that what they had done to make this film was take every bad movie ever and throw it into a blender and that they then somehow managed to make a good movie out of that pureed mess of bad movies. Now, fourteen hours or so later, the good parts of the movie have cooled and the bad parts have come to predominate. My wife, for what it’s worth, normally more of a plothole hound than I am, declared the movie to be exactly what she wanted. I can’t make that claim, just because it would have been so damn easy to make a good movie instead of the stupid movie they made.

It is not that much harder, Hollywood, to write a smart movie than it is to write a dumb one! I promise! You really could have done this!

Here’s the good stuff about Pacific Rim: the monsters and the robots. (Note: I have a weird prejudice against people who use Japanese words when there are English words that suffice perfectly well; the word “kaiju” annoys me enough that I refuse to use “jaeger” either. Monsters and robots. Fuck you.)

Generally whenever the monsters and the robots are on screen and punching each other, good shit is happening, at least until the point later in the movie where one of the robots reveals an ability that really makes you wonder why they were bothering with punching for so long if it’s obviously so ineffective. They never forget how big the monsters or the robots are, the action is stunningly shot (at least insofar as any of it is “shot;” that’s the wrong word for a movie which I assume was composed entirely in a computer) and there is never a point where you can’t figure out what the hell is going on on-screen– I’m looking your way, every other action director working right now. I had initially speculated, prior to seeing the movie, that the fact that every battle appeared to be at night and in the rain was going to be a bad sign and a crutch to make the action murkier; I couldn’t have been more wrong. The movie is gorgeous, crisp; they’ve raised the bar on what you can do with special effects in film.

What was bad: everything, and I mean everything else. The acting is horrifyingly bad, and made worse by the incredibly dumb things the actors have to say and do. Mickey fuckin’ Rooney might suggest that maybe the stereotypes were a bit over the top. The main dude’s brother (he probably had a name) looks enough like his rival (whose name was Iceman, I think) that at first I thought they were supposed to be clones. The science is crap even given that this is a movie about million-foot-tall robots fighting million-foot-tall monsters. The ending is literally exactly the same as the Avengers, which just came out and wasn’t too terribly original when it did. They spend large portions of the movie insisting that certain things are either Impossible or Really, Really Dangerous right up until the point where all the sudden they aren’t anymore– and not in a Ghostbusters “You said crossing the streams was bad” sort of way, but in a “yeah, never mind that, I’m good” sort of way. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Unavoidably, stupidly, painfully bad. All the punching in the world isn’t enough to make up for it, unfortunately. And I really wanted to like this movie.

I hate it when I’m right.


Three is still my limit

…except in this case I’m referring to days in a row in which I’m willing to have nothing useful to say.  This weekend has been good for nothing but inexplicable exhaustion and pointless crabbiness; I’m pretty sure I’m the only living thing in the house right now who is actually awake, and I’m certain I’m the only human.  I’ve been trying to get useful things done every once in a while– I cleaned up my living room and spent some time practicing my ukulele in between bouts of lying on the couch and moaning– but that’s about it.

This afternoon, I will see a movie where giant robots beat up giant monsters.  It is a sign of just how deep the rot in my brain has gotten that I’m not looking forward to it.

Blech.  Something interesting happen, please.

Well, this counts for something, I guess:  the six tags on this post?  Were suggested by WordPress after I dared to put a post up that I hadn’t bothered to add any tags to yet.  I’ll let you decide what relevance any of those six words have to anything I wrote.  At the moment we have not the slightest idea.

Prediction: at least one of those will get me a follow from one of the legions of WordPress SEO spambots that appear to do nothing but follow tags and like posts with those tags in them.  The longer I spend on this site the more I become convinced that I’m the only actual human being writing here.