Monday, December 04, 2006

The Fire Lord Strikes Back

So we got the Season 2 Finale for Avatar last night, and lo, it was awesome. However, multiple times throughout the ep I caught myself wondering where I'd heard this story before.

Quick Synopsis: Warning, Spoiler content ahoy!

Luke Aang must leave his friends behind go find Yoda a guru of sorts who lives on Degobah at his old Air Temple in order to complete his training so he can harness and control the Force the Avatar State.

During his training, which seems to be going well enough, he has a vision of Leia Kitara who is being held by the Empire the Fire Nation and requires saving. He leaves his training early, riding back with R2 his sky bison, Appa, and decides to take on Darth Vader the Fire Sibs before his training is complete.

Not only does he attempt to take on the Fire Nation Siblings, but he attempts to use the Force Avatar State even though he knows he cannot control it. He loses his hand and is injured so badly he is feared to be dead. His friends come to the rescue in the Falcon on Appa and carry his limp body away while they ride off into the sunset while Han Uncle Iroh sacrifices himself and is taken prisoner by the Fire Sibs.

Yeah, I think I've seen this story somewhere before, but I just can't place it.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Tonight on the ride home I had the distinct non-pleasure of having to piss off a proud BMW owner even more than he was evidently already pissed off. It was right after the York toll there on I-88, where all of the lanes merge down from 4 to 3 lanes.

I used to be one of those angry guys who'd sit there in the lane that gets merged into, shaking my fist at all of the people flying by on my left, thinking "if only you'd get in NOW, I wouldn't be stuck in all of this!" Years of driving in Chicagoland has taught me that nothing could be further from the truth; that you might as well be "that guy" who's flying by on the left, because there are literally thousands who will fill the void like water if you're not in it. All you accomplish by sitting in the slow lane is growing more gray hairs and possibly giving yourself a coronary.

Which is what Mr. BMW was evidently doing. Now, keep in mind, I too had been sitting in craptacular traffic all the way home, just on a different highway than him. Evidently he had picked that merge point where we met to take a stand. NOT ONE CAR MORE gets in front of me! Or something like that I guess. I've been doing this whole driving thing long enough (about 300k miles in the past 10 years) to learn that unless I'm up against someone with my seasoning (like guys in semis), I'm going to get merged into that lane whether the guy next to me wants me there or not.

I even sat back about 6 car lengths, to allow the cars ahead of me at the merge point time to get in, so I didn't add to the stack that was piling up by the time I got there. But when it came my turn to merge, my "shuffle" spot was between a car full of girls and a BMW 330xi. And he was intentionally hugging the bumper of the car in front, and even accelerated when he saw me coming. I had tried to find a "soft" target to merge into without incident, but there weren't any holes, and that's where I found myself at the time.

As I said, I've done this enough times and dealt with enough jerks in slow crawling traffic to know how to wedge myself in there, only BMW guy wouldn't give up. Not letting me in became a herculean task. He revved his engine loudly, surged forward a lot, stood on the horn, etc. Keep in mind we're all doing about 15 mph here. I just do what I always do: Put the car on an angle, and start easing over, and never back off. It's easy when your car is "old and crappy" and theirs retails for over $32 grand. They have an incentive to slide back and out of the way.

Only he refused to do it. I had the option of either getting on the brakes, and backing up traffic even worse, or hoping that BMW guy would realize he's being a huge tool in the face of my mild dickery and back off. He eventually was halfway into the other lane (still refusing to back up a bit to let me in), and finally relented.

But now he was angry! I waved politely (and yes, smugly) to thank him for letting me in, and it enraged him (as I expected it might). He whipped over onto the shoulder, and zoomed up next to me, and gave me an angry glare! I was already riding the bumper of the car in front of me from when I merged in, so there was no way he could try and return the favor, so what did he do? He gunned it up ahead and cut off the carfull of the girls in front of me. Now they're standing on the horn, slamming on the brakes, and flashing their brights at him.

Oh, the ironies.

But he wasn't done! He repeatedly tried to pull alongside of me for the next 8 miles or so and would roll down his window. Maybe he wanted to yell at me some? I really don't know. I didn't think he had anything that would really add anything positive to the situation, so I just ignored him. I'd occassionally smile and wave to him from time to time, because, hey, if you're going to stare at me that much, I will do my best to give my adoring fans what they want. I should keep autographed photos handy for these kinds of occasions. He eventually calmed down and gave up trying to talk to me at 70mph out his window, as if we could have an engaging discussion, and returned to driving like a normal human.

The funny thing was that we both got off at the same exit. Here I thought maybe he was going to follow me home, as he followed me through the short-cut to avoid the train crossing, but I guess we both just live in the same 5-10 mile radius.

Am I a dick? Most certainly, but in that driving environment, you pretty much have to be if you don't want to get eaten alive. The sad thing is that if the situations were reversed, I would have let him in. I always let one car in, at any given merge, even if they stack 8 lanes on top of each other, unless they are being a complete cock and driving so aggressively that they're going to get someone killed.

My hope is that Captain BMW calmed down enough to realize that keeping that one car from getting in front of you is never worth it. Ever. I used to be that guy, and it's not a healthy place to be. Here's to you, BMW Guy. May you figure out how to lose that road rage, and maybe we can meet someplace someday and have a beer and a laugh over it.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hiro Protagonist

Okay, if you're not watching NBC's Heroes, get off of your collective assbutts and get that show on the T(i)V(o). While it still has the plodding and awkwardness of a pilot series trying to find its voice/look, it is starting to feel like a show that could wade in against an X-Files or Lost.

And I love that the space/time bender is named Hiro. One of my favorite books has a guy named Hiro (see title).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

File under Haikiba

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of all things Samurai related (which immediately puts me in some kind of weirdo fan-boy company, I guess). I've always wanted an authentic Japanese katana (Iai-do?), but can't afford one (they cost well over $10k and probably won't sell you one without a list of references anyway, let alone allow an actual one to leave the country).

I've read historical accounts where Samurai split the helmet armor of other Samurai with their swords, that's how strong tempered the blades are. I've wondered if recent blades have the same strength as the ancient ones of legend. I guess a Japanese TV show was wondering as well and decided to put a real blade to the ultimate test.

In short, it won. Against a bullet.

Amazingly, I guess this test wasn't enough. So they tied it against what looks like a .50 cal machine gun.

It withstood six rounds, cutting the ones that struck the front of the blade in half, before it eventually had taken too much damage to withstand the seventh and shattered.

I want one now more than ever.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


This morning on the way in to work:

Middle aged overweight white guy. Looks like the golfing Dad type. Wearing a sun-visor, crappy sunglasses, driving a convertable Mercedes with the top down.

Listening to: gangsta rap.

Speaking of Disasters...

Hi, me again. I know, it's been a month. Shut it.

Just wanted to stop by here and point out that the media's still doing its job of not reporting the news. Why, here's a nice piece that's warning people of impending danger! Hurricane Worse than Katrina is Coming.

When you might ask? Where? Are you frantically packing your belongings? Stocking your basement with food? Well you better, because it's coming soon.

In fact, this expert they've quoted has it due to make landfall in exactly...uh...100 years? Oh wait, he's merely speculating. Speculation = front page news now, evidently.

Thanks MSN!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Not So Super

Been reading some comics again lately, and talking about the Superman mythos with some friends, and I've come to two conclusions about recent comic/comic movie fandom:

1). Wolverine sucks at fighting. No, he does. Sure, he's got the mutant healing ability, and the claws and the adamantium skeleton, et al. But he more than anyone on the X-Teams gets cut up and the shit kicked out of him. Kitty Pride? Never touched. Cyclops? Maybe a fat lip now and then. It seems like every writer wants to point out that Wolvie there can heal himself, so he gets hacked up. In every. Single. Fight. It's getting old, and they need to re-tool the character a bit. Instead of making this expert military black ops good ol' boy just a crappy brawler, why not make him addicted to pain? He knows he can heal from it, so why not have him push his limits. He wants to get cut. Show how truly brutal it is to have your muscle severed in two, or disembowelled. How about he loses an eye? All on purpose. You want edgy realism? Wolverine's your man.

2). I've had it with this "Superman visits his homeworld of Krypton" bullshit. Look, if the guy becomes human and powerless while being within spitting distance of a fist-sized crystal, why would he fly back to where there should be half a planet of the stuff? If we accept that being in the presence of Kryptonite makes him mortal, even if he brings a space suit and oxygen, he's dead. If he doesn't bring the space suit and oxygen, he dies the instant he gets within range of the planet, because, you know, humans in outerspace don't live more than what, 30 seconds or something? If he brings the space-suit, he can sit there and float uncontrollably in space and appreciate his red sun or whatever color sun Krypton orbits around, because he's now powerless to leave, and will suffocate to death when his oxygen runs out. I don't want to hear any arguments about him being some kind of "solar battery" and saving up energy from our sun for the trip, or whatever. A tiny crystal makes him human while within range of a yellow sun. Just entering Krypton's solar system, what with the Kryptonite asteroid belt that would surely exist there, would be a death sentence.

Got your own? Leave 'em in the comments.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Decline of the Word "News"

I'm finding it harder and harder to find actual "news" anymore. Both online and on TV, too many rules are being bent and too many opinions are being injected. Recently Katie Couric toured the country asking people "what they're interested in seeing in their news." Uh, NEWS maybe? I guess that's just me though.

The most recent affront to "news" is Yahoo's inclusion of their new "Ask" feature in their 4 Headlines of the Day they use in the News section of my Yahoo home page (where I get my email). Stephen Hawking asks "How will humanity survive?"

Normally, I find Hawking newsworthy. But 800 replies from what boils down to an internet forum is most certainly NOT.

Sidebar: If Stephen Hawking has to ask how humanity will survive the next hundred years, can we stop saying he's the smartest man on Earth?

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