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The Undiscovered Gate Which Leads Towards Galileo's Celestial Garden

A Place For Opinions, Parodies, Wild Accusations, Plus Cinematic And Worldly Reflections.

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Starlight's Theoretical European Vacation

9/24/2009 5:06:36 PM permalink

In my brief life, on certain occasions, the opportunity to further enrich myself by means of placing myself in the hands of a foreign land, be it Texas or Paris, has presented itself.

Once, as a child, I headed west to California and developed a severe allergy to airplanes. I set foot in Tulsa late one night and swore to myself I would never step on another airplane.

That was the 80's.

Approximately ten years later the notion of traveling through Jarrod's native land presented itself and, slowly, I warmed up to that notion. It had the major advantage of not being associated with flight.

But between these two instances, my old high school teacher put forth ideas like visiting whatever museums and galleries there are in Tulsa. She and my friends never could convince me, and never could figure out why.

The answer is simple -- I hate travel. I only started venturing out this past summer because I'd seen all there was to see in my very small, immediate area.

But every year in high school, the question would come up "do you want to go? Come, go with us, it'll be fun."

The response was simple -- no.

Then I left high school and, eventually, started taking French lessons around the turn of the millennium and, though I was average at best in learning the language of love, I kept advancing though I rightly should've stayed in the beginner's course.

In the midst of my second semester of learning how to parlez vous Francais, the opportunity arose to visit the homeland of this wonderful language I had absolutely no grasp of.

"Come, see the Louvre with us" was the general statement.

Well, besides having no real cash to speak of at that time, and my severe allergy to airplanes, I had to turn Monsieur Carty down. I did manage to get two rolls of film dedicated to Versailles out of the experience, though.  They even caught spectral evidence on my rolls of film, as Versailles is a pretty haunted place.

There was that, and a picture postcard of the Eiffel Tower.

There was France, a place Louis called home, and ghostly lights no one (but I) could explain.

And I missed it all.

I keep those photos locked away for safe keeping, partially so I don't have to look at them to remind myself of where I could've been.

From high school, I have a friend who was a foreign exchange student from Germany. She's the most innocent (or so I once thought) individual who also happens to be the happiest person alive in the entire world.

She asked me to prom...but I politely turned her down simply because I simply had no interest in going. She quickly found someone else to go with and, as she put it, her date's mom drove them and they talked about Jesus a lot.

Only in Arkansas.

She's made possibly half a dozen return trips to this state, and I've been here to greet her every time. I even offered her the chance to sleep at my place for her next stay, because I know she'd love nothing more than to spend time with my cats.

But she's stated repeatedly I, and a friend of mine, have to come to Germany. I say I will...and I mean it. But there's also the allergy to planes. Money is the other issue, but the notion of breaking my sacred vow to Mother Earth that I'd never leave her again is one I can't make, no matter how much money I do or don't have.

She insists we visit, and I'll insist on visiting all the haunted castles and other notable sites. She wants to scare me doing 90 on the Autobahn, and I'd rather just sit medicated in the backseat taking great care in ensuring I don't see the German countryside zipping by at Warp 6.

She drives like a maniac, and punches the break like David Beckham kicking a football. (European, not American. I do know some things about sports, no matter how much I don't pay attention.)

Frankly, her automobile activities scare the hell out of me.

But the open invitation will stay open until my friend and I get our collective asses into the European Union, and then she won't want us to leave. Under her observation, we'll see an entire country and half of Paris is one month or less.

The girl never stops moving. My friend knows this because he experienced the same treatment and insists that, when the stars align, I better get my ass over there so I can see and hear it just like he has.

Castles are on the itinerary, at my request. Paris is a must.

And, apparently, so is the techno playing gay bar she dragged my very heterosexual friend off to. She said "let's go to this great bar I know" and off they went. Never described what type of bar it was, and he didn't figure it out until he looked over to the side and saw two guys in a ferocious lip lock right there at the bar.

He turns to her and says "where the hell are we?"

Apparently, she's been visiting this bar for several years and has a lot of fun with it. The first time she told me about it, I asked if she was there for the boys or the fashion tips. She laughed, in her usual style, and stated Germany isn't as uptight about these things as America is.

I just couldn't figure out why she was there...but where she's concerned, if there's something she'd consider fun and exciting to do, she's there. Everything as mundane as autumn in America to driving to Graceland so her father can have a picture of his daughter in front of Chez Elvis, then she'll do it.

And she wants to take me to this same bar as well. I've already had visions of what could happen, and my friend has stated "I can see you now, you'll be drinking your Pepsi and end up staring open mouthed at all the things around you that you've never seen before in your life and I'm going to be there with a camera to capture it all."

Well, he's experienced these things with her, and I haven't. He even applied for citizenship to stay there with her. That's true love, baby. They haven't seen each other since, unfortunately, but they've been able to share phone conversations for about a year now, so it's all good -- not as good as it once was, but it's better.

As for me, well I like my movies that "rhyme with corn," but other than that I'm pretty straight laced. Remember the Adam Ant song "Goodie Two Shoes?" That's me. Don't drink, don't smoke, etc.

Never even set foot in a bar of any kind. Only visited a bowling alley maybe three or four times in my entire life (Almost killed a few friends when the ball damn near left my hands in a Galveston dive back in 96.)

But my friend has it right -- right down to the Pepsi. I'll just crack the lid and god only knows what will unfold before me. I've also had visions of singing "Last Mango In Paris" and "Garden Party" in some German karaoke bar. She likes the way I sing, even though it's absolutely dreadful. I could just look at her and she'll break down laughing.

It's great to be around her. The energy of an entire state changes when she's in town. She's happy 247 and her good mood spreads faster than H1N1.

Now I'm again faced with the prospect of traveling abroad -- as a final blowout, my former art teacher is taken students with her and headed to Germany and Paris. And, even though the offer hasn't been made officially, I know it exists in the lower levels of my reality waiting to bubble up.

My former art teacher will be leaving for Louisiana this December. There's a chance for one big blowout and its destination is to the East. My German friend will hear of this and ask if I'm able to go, and again I'll have to say no.

Friends, instructors, and mentors have all laid the path to Europe. From the coast of Spain, up to Scotland and back down along Hadrian's wall through Egypt while swinging back around through Roma and Napoli in old Italy on their way home again.

There are no yellow brick roads to walk along, from this continent to the next. The Emerald Island I wish to visit and the Renaissance masters that call out from their graves and chapels in an effort to be seen in person know my name by heart.

It's a long way to Tipperary...

Tags: my life

Jarrod's Lullaby

9/22/2009 5:09:46 PM permalink

If you're one of the three or four Maniacs that "listen" to Jarrod's ramblings on FacebookTwitter, then you'd be one of the other three or four people in the world who knows he's dealing with insomnia.

Well, them and "those" spammers. (Give in to online You Know What Jarrod. Give In. Jesse Jane has a new movie coming out soon -- it's called "Teachers." Have you been a bad student?)

So, being the sporting Maniac that I am, I thought we oughta chip in and give Jarrod some nice ways and means of getting him to sleep.

Step 1 - Love The Hammer

Take a large hammer...wait...

Igor! We're trying to achieve peaceful unconsciousness, not permanent catatonic behavior! Take the hammer away!

Whatever, Master. where were we?

How about a bottle of Dreamy Sleepy Nighty Snoozy Snooze? It's banned in most European countries, which means its very good.

Alcoholic based chocolate sedatives only work on Father Jack Hackett. (See "Escape From Victory," Father Ted, Season 3. Be sure to enjoy Mrs. Doyle's romantic take on football.)

Fine. Master Starlight no want help, then Igor go wash Vanessa Hudgens doll.

But seriously folks, Jarrod's not sleeping, and he'll probably turn to a life of zombie crime if this continues.

So, here goes the "Jarrod Needs Sleep" list of recommendations.

1. A Hammer.


1. No Caffeine after 4 PM. (Although 3 would be better.)

Learn to love Root Beer, Jarrod. It has no caffeine, and it won't keep you up at night.

2. Tune In Sirius XM's "Spa" Network.

Let's face it -- when XM and Sirius merged, the New Age music channel suffered greatly (for those of us who enjoyed XM's "Audio Visions" channel.)

Audio Visions had poetry, oriental voices saying " Audio Visions." Plus there was the lady named Garnett, and so on. Now that it's the badly named "Spa," we get this one voice over and over again who needs a lesson in inflection and other speech patterns.

But, when you get past all this, you get good, soothing music (most of the time) which is great in the early morning hours (it doesn't shock you awake) and lulls you into unconsciousness.

Think of it as meditation without attempting to get into those awkward positions. I just lay in my darkened bedroom, with the receiver on, and I give it about 20 - 30 minutes. That's really all you need.

Enya CD's work well, too.

3. No TV or work before bed.

'nuff said...unfortunately, You Know What viewing must also be canceled in this instance...

4. A Hammer.

(Igor, make that suggestion again and I'm going to straighten out your spine!)

4. "My Dinner With Andre"

Okay, so this is somewhat contradictory as I just said "no tv." "Andre" is a movie featuring Wallace Shawn and his friend Andre...uh....well I can't recall his last name, but this is a movie based on an existential conversation that covers Andre's life outside of the New York city streets Wallace Shawn (aka "Zek" from DS9) has been living as he attempts to ignite his acting career.

I had one hell of a hard time watching this movie in my Philosophy of Film class years ago. I also own it. It's interesting...and can be boring as hell. I threaten my niece and nephew with it when they've been bad. Sometimes I make them watch ten minutes of it.

5. Liquor

I'm actually not an expert on the drink, but considering my Bible thumping Southern Baptist cousins would chug Jack Daniels whenever they had the common cold...well..."only in Arkansas," is the statement that best fits here.

6. Lavender

There's various folk remedies involving Lavender -- some of it's for magical purposes. Burningsmoldering Lavender is undertaken to induce sleep. It has other intentions, but you can read about those in Scott Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs.

(Think of it this way -- Lavender smells a lot better than...say...Jarrod soused. Not as much fun, possibly, but certainly much more pleasant when it comes to scent.)

7. A Ham...


Igor not finished. Wait for it...

7. A Ham, canned.

(A canned ham?)

Yes. Igor take canned ham...and hit Jarrod over head with it.

(You mean like this?)



thunk thunk thunk thunk thump!

And that's why blunt weapons stay down in the lab.


Damn it Igor, that better not be my Jesse Jane movie collection!

It not -- it your Twilight movie poster collection. Shirtless Jacob now in fifty pieces!



PS - Apparently this entry contains "excessive profanity."

Really, "excessive?" You boys are just afraid of the word that begins with "P" and rhymes with corn.

I applaud the anti spam efforts...but Maelstrom may not come home if this is what will greet his first blog back from the depths of Maelstrom HQ.

PPS - I see blog archiving is hiding our entries away again after a few days. Now, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not that interesting (and I'm likely being hidden away for the good of the community) but it would be nice to get that slight bit of archiving fixed.

Also, when we edit blogs, we have a lot of unnecessary back slashes in and around the words that make use of contractions (don't, won't, can't) and also where quotations are used ("jarrod, stop hitting me!")

Matador's made a suggestion in knocking the Texan unconscious, but it's an odd one to me -- Nyquil just keeps me awake and makes my brain spin at Mach Two which means I not only do not sleep, I also cannot sit still in bed.

It actually encourages insomnia in me. Go figure.

Tags: igor

Vampire Diaries - Night of the Comet

9/17/2009 6:05:41 PM permalink

Note -- I'm going to try to go a whole blog entry without mentioning the "T word." You people have driven me crazy -- the more I had to defend it against you, the deeper it had to drive me into a defensive position, and now I'm dangerously close to being a loony.

You know, last week I did a somewhat brief rundown of the pilot episode of "Diaries," and was willing to give it the benefit of a doubt.

It wasn't a bad first step last week. This week?


I'm not going to bother to review it this time -- Liana did it so well last week, so she can handle this task.

Only in its second episode, it's starting to wear a little on me. In fact, I'm not even going to bother to look up (or remember) their names this go around.

The girl who proclaimed her psychic abilities last week, along with her dubious relation to Salem Witches (honestly, couldn't they have come up with something more intriguing) is becoming somewhat flat and uninteresting, sort of like those diet rice cakes my mom used to eat in the 80's. The abilities are for real (she's psychometric -- think Johnny Smith from Dead Zone), but all the fluff that surrounds it should be burned away.

So far our bad vampire is the most interesting part of the show, and currently he's not enough reason for me to tune in weekly if the show was centered entirely around his drinking habits.

The prologue has been the most striking moment in this episode, and the most "CW moment" (as they should be called) involved the girls sitting around a table with the "boy likes girl, girl likes boy = sex" equation.

Now I've nothing against that equation. It's just that it was stated pretty much like I wrote it in the sentence above, only without the equal sign. It's this boy girl = sex and the one dude's drug abuse which is slowly making this slip into everything else which the CW is known for. It could be more than it sets out to be, this is my point. There's room to evolve...I just don't think it will.

Meanwhile, our good vampire is...actually it's more what he isn't -- so far he hasn't stood out as if there's something to write about. Both guys have but the ability to whammy on unsuspecting people, but our bad vampire is better at it since he actually saddles up to the bar for Blood Mary's, Johnny's, Becky's, and Jarrod's.

This episode isn't instilling faith in me for future episodes, but I'm also still willing to give it a chance -- for now. It took some time for me to become truly interested in Warehouse 13, as it struggled to find its footing. Let's hope the same is true here.

Also, a note on the diary entry voiceovers: the first time around it was a nice touch that the two monologues overlapped, but it's not going to remain interesting for much longer.

I don't know what Liana will grade it as, but I'd give it a C.

Less Melrose Place90210One Tree HillDawson's CreekGossip GirlOther Shows I Haven't seen and more...well let's ditch the comparisons above first and see what happens.

PS - I did watch Gossip Girl one night. I will never be that desperate for entertainment again.

Tags: vampire diaries

Spammers: Burn Them Like Witches

9/16/2009 6:34:54 AM permalink

Okay, so we know Jarrod (All Hail Jarrod!) is fighting the evil spammers, as usual.

But (and I don't know this for certain) would it be right up his alley to also DELETE the users from Mania who post these stupid entries?

You oughta make it Mania policy Sarafin -- abuse the blogs (or anything else), and out you go.

Entrance Denied, fellas.

Sic 'em, Jarrod.

Meanwhile,  I'll have to either repost The Reading List or update it later.

Tags: spam

The Reading List

9/15/2009 5:00:12 PM permalink

Before I dig into this latest mad adventure, I'd just like to reference something I saw quite by accident here.

The article Latest NEW MOON Trailer is the third most popular article under the Movies heading with a total of 5,858 views as of 5:14 PM CST Tuesday, 15'th September.

I've never really paid any attention to the popularity or, more appropriately, how many times X article has been viewed. Said article has only been up two days, and the comments are sparse. I check in a few times, as do a few others to continue this stupid cat fight.

But there's an enormous silent majority on here that check in...but for what reason? The fireworks? Honestly, I hope not -- these mute viewers are more likely just checking in to view the trailer as they anxiously await for New Moon to drop in November.

Sometimes, I silently admit to myself I'd like to be in Jarrod's position, if only to see the behind the scenes numbers on how many times one article or another is viewed. The same goes for our blogs.

A few entries ago, Maelstrom had pointed out what I'd either ignored or simply not recognized about the Twilight novels, and other such related books -- it's part of the "young adult" genre.

It's hard to know what I will be interested in, be it music, movies or books. I tend to be sadly deficient when it comes to recognizing novels that I'd be greatly interested in -- I never would've found Douglas Adams if a teacher hadn't pointed him out. Discworld wouldn't have made its way to my bookshelf if someone else hadn't declared his love for it. The same goes for Neil Gaiman, Dave Barry, Carl Hiassen, Dan Brown and, of course, Twilight.

Sometimes I do find books on my own: The Historian was one I found...but only because people were calling it The Dracula Code, in a sense. Then there's a book called Through Violet Eyes that I only became aware of it because it was being advertised regularly here on Mania way back in 2004. I distinctly remember clicking on those adverts, which lead me to the site, and then I found myself at Walmart one day five years ago and bought the book.

Sometimes (but all too rarely) I can lay my eyes upon a  book and be snared by it for some reason or another. Labyrinthe, from 2005, caught my eye in paperback form and I set aside the spare cash I had then to buy it...and promptly failed to read it.

I've got it sitting right here next to me -- it still captivates me for unknown reasons, I just haven't sat down with it yet.

Then there's Isaac Asimov's Foundation series I came across, but only because he was the only science fiction author on the high school reading list. A similar argument has been made for Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.

But sometimes its movies that lead me to books. The Golden Compass is a perfect example of this. Pete Jackson's LOTR trilogy lead me to Tolkien himself. I'd never heard of him. I likely passed over his books while searching out the numerous Star Trek books I was constantly buying.

And I've never defined anything as young adult. Harry Potter is called a kid's book, but that's just an over simplification of the Potter series. Twilight was called a romance, and I was hesitant to buy it at all because I like picking up the real romance novels simply because I want a good laugh -- a laugh at the expense of how bad such things are written.

Now, with Vampire Diaries on my digital converter, I find something else I'd never heard of.

I won't say I actively investigated the Young AdultTeen sections, but I also won't say I actively avoided it either. I was, arguably, unaware it existed, save for a few Buffy the Vampire Slayer novels. I was only looking for Buffy, I was briefly amused that there were Charmed novels, but never really went any further than that.

So now the young adult section has magically appeared in front of me. I now find myself investigating it nearly as much as I check out the New Age sections in my ongoing hunts for new books on magick, ghosts, and so on.

And sometimes I don't even have to traipse down those aisles -- Walmart is doing it for me these days.

There's another series of books that seem to be of the romantic supernatural genre.

A quick note here -- in my uninformed opinion, there ought to be two categories when dealing with "romance" in its more general form: 1. Drama, and 2. Soap Opera.

Drama is the more honorable, honest and genuine of the two. The latter it's rubbish, as the Brits might say. Twilight would be drama, and Gossip Girl would be soap opera. I'll make time for the drama aspect if I'm interested, and I'll make no time at all for the soap opera aspects of the genre.

This "new" series (and I say that loosely because it's obviously been around for awhile and I just didn't notice until very recently) is called "City of Bones - The Mortal Instruments."

It has a somewhat flashy cover by having an obviously shirtless guy seen over a city skyline. There also is something resembling golden light swirling about the cover in mid action.

And...for reasons unknown to me, I keep picking it up to read its synopsis to see if its worthy of my time. Since it is an apparent trilogy of books (also are City of Glass and City of Ashes with differing covers of their own) it has my interest.

One of the driving forces behind my curiosity is I'm always strangely drawn to something that goes beyond one simple novel, like Harry Potter did when I was first trying to figure out if I wanted to read it or not. Same for Discworld. Same for Hitchhiker. Same for Tolkien.

See a pattern here?

Back when I made my very first steps into the teen aisle to look for Buffy novels, I found what is called The Gatekeeper Trilogy. It consists of the following entries: Out of the Madhouse, Ghost Roads, and Sons of Entropy.

There were plenty of self contained, one volume novels I could've chosen, and it would've made more sense to buy one of those in case I didn't like the novel versions of Buffy, but I went for the trilogy and ate it up as fast as I could.

In fact, that's probably why I go for the bigger series -- I know when this book ends, it's not the end of the story, and there'll be even more to take in when this book is over with.

At least that's the theory.

Back to the Mortal Instruments novels -- if it's drama (as stated above) then I'll likely read all three books. If it's a soap opera, then I'll probably hate myself for showing interest in the series.

From what very little I know, there's some hot guy in the books called "Jace," and I'm assuming that he's the dude modeling skin from the neck down to the city skyline. I don't know this for certain, but my reasoning if this is a book for blossoming chicks, and there's a hot guy in it to fantasize over, then placing some buff bod on the front cover is the way of ensnaring the chicks to say "here's a taste of things to come, girls."

Okay, fine. I get it, shirtless guy on the cover -- it's marketing, sex sells, and all that crap.

Interestingly enough, the two follow up novels do not have half naked guys on the cover. One appears to be some kind of archer and the other I think is a girl with long, red hair.

So this series is the latest I'm considering. What it's like I have no idea...well except for the brief synopsis offered at Apparently, it contains nice werewolves and friendly vampires....along with the hot dude.

Hey, don't look at me -- I haven't read it. I know the boys will be upset if this series comes to the forefront like Twilight has, and with that anger will come the knee jerk reactions, as always.

Personally, I wonder if the True Blood lovers are reading the novels its based upon. I pick those up as well to examine. I've encountered a lot of girls reading that series, and it makes me wonder if it's a "girl book" as well, and that HBO just "manned it up" for broadcast.

I must admit, it'd be funny as hell if that was the case.

But, again, that's just speculation as I haven't read those either.

PS - If anyone has read those books, feel free to enlighten me one way or the other. I just know from my limited experience all the girls that are reading Twilight are also reading the Sookie novels as well.

Tags: mortal instruments, twilight, true blood, books

The Vampire Diaries - Pilot

9/10/2009 6:12:32 PM permalink

(Note - This was being written in between commercial breaks. If it qualifies as a review, I'm not sure. It always takes me awhile to settle into "new things," and then (should I keep doing) the "reviews" will become less recitation of what happened and more of an analysis and reflection of what transpired.)

Earlier in the week, way back in the TV Wasteland, the assumptions were made towards what exactly The Vampire Diaries would likely be. Predictions involved the text speak of OMG! and other typical high school drama and delight.

Rob, I'm going to say such a thing was spoken too soon. The inevitable comparisons to Twilight were made here, as they have been made everywhere else. Those, too, have likely been made prematurely as well.

But, so far I'm not fully certain.

There's a certain amount of sharpness to this, albeit possibly some lacking in originality. But more on that later.

Our lead benevolent vampire, Stefan, introduces himself by means of voice over as he expresses his reasons for returning to Mystic Falls, while another unseen force makes its presence known by hiding amongst the fog on a lonely, empty road that sees the first victims have their lives taken away with the snap of thirty jaws.

Meanwhile Lena, our female protagonist, has suffered an as yet unexplained family tragedy some months earlier. She attempts to reassure herself in her own personal diary before school. This seems to be her means to recover herself, while her brother has taken the less glamorous road of dealing in his own addictions while likewise selling to his clients.

Lena has turned a blind eye to her brother's drug abuse, but now that school has started she confronts him in the men's room as he covers up the evidence with eye drops and less than believable lies.

Lena's friend, Bonnie, laughingly proclaims her faux psychic powers, but it's the psychometric touch from a bottle of beer that puts the fear of black birds and fog into Bonnie's mind.

Meanwhile, our vamp Stefan introduces himself to Lena as she sits writing in her diary in the local cemetery next to the graves of her decomposing parents. His companions, or should we say those that foreshadow his arrival, are ravens and fogs that appear out of nowhere, even in the middle of the day.

Stefan has his powers -- he puts the whammy on a school administrator with his eyes when she requests immunization records, plus transcripts from his past scholarly establishments. He's endowed with amplified hearing, and much like a Joss Whedon vamp, seems unable to enter into a home without some type of invitation.

If that wasn't enough for accidental lack of imagination, Lena's friend takes up her cellular phone, texts Lena during class to state that a certain vampiric "hawt-e" is staring at her, Edward style, though Stefan hasn't revealed to the human population he's of the undead sort.

He also hasn't burst into flames while standing in the sunlight, but this is accomplished much the same way it happened in the first season of Angel: by means of a rather unique ring that keeps him from turning to dust in the sunlight. And, so far, Stefan hasn't displayed any certain of luminescence in the same way Meyer's vamps do.

I seriously doubt he'll display that characteristic as well.

He does have a unique characteristic when it comes to the scent of blood -- his eyes change, involuntarily, to a shade of black. I'm not expert in the use of this term, nor do I really know of how its used in popular culture, but I'd say Stefan goes "emo" when it comes to blood.

And no teenaged drama would be complete without the all too often repeated of youths partying out in the middle of nowhere where any evil force could descend upon them, such as underage drinking, possible pre martial sexual encounters and, of course, the possible death by blood sucker.

After scoring a drink, Stefan's brother Damon makes his presence known to Stefan, as he wonders why his brother has returned. Damon makes comparisons to another young woman, Katherine, and how they were similar in nature. Plus Damon reveals Stefan's dietary habits, which also consist of eating animals, and when he suggests going out for the kill on a few girls, or even Lena herself, Stefan loses his composure.

Both Lena and Stefan are troubled souls in their own right, both are looking for ways to leave their pasts behind, and both express their fears and emotions in their respective journals which, in this age of blogs and Twitter, is somewhat refreshing. Pens hold their perspectives, not pixels and virtual notifications.

For me, it'll be interesting to see how this unfolds through this season, especially when the further comparisons are made to New Moon and Eclipse as they appear in theaters. The tone is a darker one that we have in the first Twilight movie, but I will not make comparisons to the source materials as I (so far) have no interest in reading the original novels where this gets its inspiration.

Next week, Damon intends to start wreaking havoc.

This show could easily have legs to stand upon -- it's not Buffy, it's not Angel, and it's not Twilight. Yes there are comparisons from Stephenie Meyer all the way to Smallville, but accidental similarities have happened before and will happen again, so there's no sense getting hung up on that.

If a grade was to be applied here, I'd probably say "B." We've established our characters, we've left dramatic doors wide open for the back story to hang on, and it's darker with more sophistication than might've been originally assumed by certain Maniacs.

And, like always, we'll just have to wait and see what becomes of it.

Tags: vampire diaries

Life, the Universe, and the Adventures of Stupid People

9/10/2009 9:53:39 AM permalink


This past holiday I spent time with a few friends, and their family. One was in from Texas (temporarily working there while working for BP) and proceeded to begin the slow process of renovations on his mobile home...which will hopefully be less mobile and more home when said renovations are complete.

He's put sheet rock up in the run down bedroom he's had these last few years, plans to triple the size of the entire structure by building around it, and adding a roof over the pre-existing one he's got now. There'll be decking that runs halfway around the would be house, not to mention a sound proof band room so he and the fellas can practice their somewhat hot licks while his mom and dad (who are in walking distance) are able to sleep in peace.

Or so they hope.

Meanwhile his dad was putting in new flooring in their kitchen...and it was there he repeated his often stated advice: "follow the money."

This nugget of advice comes from the fact that you can come up with something absolutely stupid that no one needs, and you'll instantly make millions off of it. "Guitar Hero," which is simply the more expensive version of air guitar, is making millions, no one needs it, and therefore someone is swimming in dough.

Also, those suckers who are too slow (or stupid) to look up the answers they need in, say, a search engine from their phone are now paying to get their answers from a mobile enhanced phone and receiving said answers via text messaging. Why? Because it's convenient? Google is convenient...but the waste of the extra three seconds, apparently, is not.

Follow the money, he says.

While this is going on, his wife is watching Lifetime Network, I believe. This is where the really, really, absolutely horrible movies nest. While she's watching the television, a movie is unfolding about some nutcase woman who believes her newborn baby is evil.

Yes, evil.

Now all of this stems from the fact that she lost a little girl a few years ago who drowned in a creek and paid absolutely no attention to her mom as she said, essentially "don't do that and come inside."

You know it's fiction when a little girl wants to stay outside while visiting a cabin in the middle of nowhere while playing with a ball.

I went into the living room and asked "how can you watch this? It's god awful."

Meanwhile I hear "what's it about?" from the kitchen, explain it to him, and he starts laughing and explains to me all movies on Lifetime feature certain things, and one of them is having a baby.

I was there one night, and they (more accurately she) was watching a movie about the Amish, I believe, and how one girl had gotten pregnant, gave bitch, and how she prayed to God to take it away. The twist of this movie was that the girl's mother took it away.

I always state one thing when these pieces of trash are on: "I could never write anything like that. I'm not terrible enough."

And he turns to me, laughs, and says "hey man, follow the money."

He agrees their terrible, and when I ask "who the hell watches this shit?" he points to his wife and smiles.

...the Universe

Lately I've been trying to come up with something NEW to do -- new story, new script, new way of harassing Jarrod. And I often wonder "should I just abandon everything I know and write something as god awful as the crap polluting our theaters now?"

I'm not a horror fan -- I've no use for it. I'm also not one for graphic, bloody violence. Why would anyone like that? Hell, I've no idea, and they keep making it.

But I am somewhat fascinated by the PG-13 horror that creeps every so often -- it's intended to be dark and scary, but it's safe enough so anyone can see it. It's the scary equivalent of taking American Pie but keeping it to where your 12 year old brother can partake of it.

Sure, it's not the same, but that's the blend that's constantly being mixed up. Does it work? Hell I don't know. I just said I don't watch this crap.

But there's movies like The Mothman Prophecies, The Others, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (which is currently in the 5 dollar bin at Walmart), American Haunting, The Haunting In Conneticut, The Fog, and other such features.

These are the limits of my interest in horror. Yes, I know it's not true horror, but screw you. I was always prone to paranoia as kid when walking into a dark room, and I still have it now. The scientific terminology to describe my condition is chicken.

I keep considering going back to Walmart to splurge a whole five dollars (my friends call me stingy) on Exorcism of Emily Rose. Plus I'd consider the others, and I believe I also saw Final Destination on DVD for 5 bucks as well. I may get it too, seeing as how I liked the first movie...and that was all.

Side Note -- Whatever happened to Devon Sawa? He was here for a few movies, then he disappeared. Oh well.

So, again, the notion of PG-13 horror. Yeah, the scariest thing about The Fog was the fact Tom Welling was playing...well...Tom Welling in it. His lack of range was made all too obvious in Smallville, but his constant inability to act is what landed him the role in The Fog.

That, and the fact he took his shirt off in that movie as well. I could hear Lana Lang swooning from across the bay, couldn't you?

My friend lent me both versions of The Fog, and I watched them in the order he suggested: classic first, pretty boy second. The first relied solely on scare tactics of exceptionally normal things happening out of nowhere: a car honks, a guy appears out of shadows, etc.

But the spooky thing was all the figures facing down the guy holding the...what was it, a golden cross? Something like that. Those figures standing there was the spooky bit for me. And this movie is considered a classic? Well...okay.

Neither were particularly spooky, and frankly the plot device at the end of Welling's movie was, well, stupid. The fog looked really bad in both movies, and just goes to show we still can't have good effects, no matter if they're CGI or not.

I have an idea for one of these, and it comes from my Dictionary of Superstitions, but it's one you've never even heard of. Trust me, I'd never heard of it. It's a funny little belief from days gone by, but it's there. It could work. But, the real question is, can I abandon my higher standards to write something as commercially icky as, say, a lot of the stuff Jarrod yammers on about.

...the Adventures of Stupid People

One of my female friend's has escaped the damning punishment of being absolutely crazy. She has her own unique brand of crazy (as do I) but I think the iceberg of madness barely scraped her and, well, let's just say Leo wouldn't have gone down with the ship if it had ran into the Titanic.

These people are nuts. And you'll never look at Christmas the same way again when I'm finished.

She has a cousin who is the epitome of white trash. This slice of white trash has been trying to sleep with his own female cousin since she was in her teens. One day he literally came over when she was alone and tried to get some.

Another day I was with her, and her a commotion outside and looked out the window to see this hopefully incestuous bastard standing in front of a stationary van with its engine purring. Behind the wheel was the guy's son, and he kept telling the kid to put it into drive and run into him. The guy had his arms outstretched in an effort to say I'M A BIG ASS TARGET! HIT ME, BOY!

There was a death in the family very recently, and this same nut job was literally climbing onto (and possibly even into) the casket of his dead father at the viewing ceremony. I'm told that was an interesting weekend.

But the topper is something I had to be reminded of. My friend, being female, has female naughty bits. (I haven't checked, but I'll take her word for it.)

Now, when she was young, she had an equally bizarre grandmother who wouldn't refer to the female naughty bits in the style of Michael Xavier Maelstrom. Oh no, the word vagina was off limits.

She'd say Christmas.

They'd all be together in one house, and after my friend had completed her bath, her grandmother would then ask "did you wash Christmas?"

My friend then recollected the horrors she experienced after hearing "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" for the very first time.

Tags: my life

Back In The "Twi-Life" Again

9/1/2009 5:18:33 PM permalink

Steve Winwood, forgive me for abusing your really great song.

Stephenie Meyer, what have you created?

(And while I'm thinking about it, I obviously need to get a copy of "Back In The High Life," as I apparently am missing it. That, and "Valerie." I ought to be kicked out of the Winwood Appreciation Club for having a grossly incomplete selection on Steve.)

Okay, back to the point here -- so I'm the nut that resides herein defending (and often praising) Twilight. But the extent of my admiration goes to two books, and one movie.

But these people have nothing on me. I am talking about the "real" fans.

I just noticed (quite by accident) that Reelz Channel runs a seemingly weekly special on Twilight, covering different aspects of the juggernaut that is of the sparkly vampire kind.

For instance, today a special called "Digital Twilife" ran, and another is coming on either tonight or tomorrow covering the career of one of the actors from the movie.

They also showed instances from what was called "TwiCon," which was mostly of the estrogen crowd I admit, but there were guys there.

No, I seriously doubt they were dragged there -- especially when you consider they were damn near doppelgangers of both Edward and Jasper as they appear in the movie. Two girls were with them, and I must admit I can't remember what (or who) they were supposed to be. For some reason the guys got stuck in my mind.

And this quartet also did just look the part, they played it in their own home made video recreation of the movie, or so I gathered. Look, I was preoccupied, and I have to admit I'd ran to my copy of the tie in novel to compare their style to that of the one featured in the movie, and I have to say I was impressed.

And confused.

I'm still scratching my coconut over this.

I know it's popular, but damn I actually believe I'm under estimating this series. Today I was flipping through a catalog of knick knacks and other useless paraphernalia when I stumbled across two Twilight inspired blankets.

Well, not blankets as such. Look, I don't know how to classify them. They're not full sized blankets, they're just for...well...they're for decoration obviously, but they're also apparently intended to use when you want to keep warm and instead of grabbing say a beach towel, you grab this blanket thingy.

 I have something similar because the mother of the sisterly duo had bought me an equally small blanket thingy that was covered in Harry Potter decorations. I never use it, I just keep it off to the side as a sort of novelty.

The Twilight blanket thingy comes with two designs -- Edward and Bella (duh) and one that recreates the cover image from the tie in novel, featuring Jasper, Alice, Emmett and so on.

And...ahem...I must state that...yes...I want one. Of each. I'd put them next to my Harry Potter blanket.

I collect things. Shut up.

Also in this catalogue I found an apparent board game based on the Twilight movie. No, I don't want that. Frankly I don't see how you could build a game around the movie, but they did it.

I know they also have Twilight posters (which I would also get because I do try to get the movie posters of my fave movies -- don't care if they're not worth anything, it's an interesting way of decorating.) and they have Twilight book marks.

I used to collect book marks. I have maybe five of the Enterprise D (I bought them all at once in high school). I also have bookmarks of Capt. Picard from Generations, and another of Capt. Janeway. And, just for the record, I have a handful of Super Mario Bros bookmarks, one of a white cat (since I love cats), and another of Wakko from Animaniacs.

And there's lots of Twilight bookmarks. I've seen girls kneel before their displays and concentrate on each and every one like they were the fine print of tax forms to make sure everything is spotless and correct.

Then there's those little action figures I came across while in the mall last week. Little Edward figures. Huh, who'd have thunk it?

I'm still not entirely sure why Twilight has a convention of its own yet, as let's face it -- there's only one movie out, and four books. Yes, the next movie will be here soon, but can we honestly say four books and four movies are enough to generate a whole convention?

Apparently so. I guess even Star Trek had to start this small when it came to conventions.

But the image of those Edward and Jasper impersonators still rings in my mind, yet I can't figure out why. They certainly looked the part, and I know others have dressed up as those they enjoyadmire as a form of flattery, but I don't know how much of a stir should be caused over such imitations, no matter how well they are.

Hell, I like Jimmy Buffett, but that doesn't mean I'm going to run screaming to the live performance by a Jimmy Buffett "tribute band" that'll be in the local casino next week.

Oh yeah, a final thought on this madness -- there's also a group called Twilight Moms. They also have a gathering and one of these mom stated something like she could throw a dart at a town and know at least five people in the area who are also Twilight Moms and she'd have a place full of friends she could visit.

Yeah, it's a bit odd, but let's consider the alternatives -- Paris Hilton wannabes, Lindsay Lohan and her mom both acting like teenaged sisters (shudder), and those of the Spears clan.

Maybe we need Twilight, if only to balance out the prissy, vain destructive displays we've had over the last few years.

And, as for all the merchandising, well I can understand some of it. But if we end up with Twilight perfume, then you know it's gone too far.

PS - Follow the links to revisit Maelstrom's Trek Review.

Tags: twilight, star trek

Maelstrom's Star Trek (and) Spam & Dear Mania Tech:

8/28/2009 4:39:14 AM permalink

"Look out, here comes a big one." - Mrs. Slocombe, "Are You Being Served?"

Somewhere, out there, every virtual boy and girl is having to deal with the blogger blitzkrieg going on here at Mania.

(I could take this opportunity to play Blame Jarrod, but he posted a lovely article on New Moon's Volturi today, so no poking of the Sarafin kind shall happen here.)

First I should give Maelstrom his due -- after all he suffered the first blitzkrieg yesterday and then a broken link. And then another bombing raid came, and someone threw Mrs. Slocombe (and her pussy Tiddles) to the ground. So here we go:

We're having an impromptu Mania discussion on STAR TREK and The recent quality (or lack there-of -Ed) of SummerMovies.

If you'd like to participate, please punch ))((HERE))((

Post Script: I.Q above 80 requested.

(not demanded? - Ed)

Nein Ed.  Those with I.Q's under 80 won't be able to participate anyway, because they will not be able to find the link.

(that, or they will break their monitor when they punch the screen - Ed)


First our resident evil genius posted the blog, then it got swept away. Then he posted an entry with a link to the bombed blog, which also didn't work. Then he posted yet another in some vain attempt to be seen but, as always, he vanished when Jarrod initiated his mass deletion against the spammers.


No, now we'll blame Mania Tech!

(Now, let's see if I can match Maelstrom's eloquence. I highly doubt it, but we'll give it a go.)

Ahem...Dear Mania Tech, you scurvy bitches:

(Hey, I like this. We'll talk pirate to them.)

Arrgh, you mateys. Cap'n Jarrod did say you land lubbers were notified of that there technical issue. Now Cap'n Jarrod says you'll be scrubbing his poop deck with your tongues if ye be not fixing that there blogging arrrchiving.

And if that not be enough for the likes of ya's, then you won't get a chance at the pretty young waif we brought aboard last yearrrr. That Orlando Bloom may not be a girl, but he's a willin' to walk the plank if ye catch me drift.


Damn...I thought that was one of those there euphemisms.

Now, mateys, return to your duties and Cap'n Jarrod won't have to keel haul ye.

Avast there, you sea dogs!

(A vast what?)

A vast ocean. Get it? Arrgh! It's a long swim there, Orlando Bloom!

(I'll manage.)

Tags: star trek

Anime: First Steps...

8/22/2009 6:51:05 PM permalink

Some time ago (last year, I think) I'd written the original "Anime: Enlighten Me Please" blog in which I asked for the opinions of experienced viewers -- thank you Maelstrom and MBeckham for those responses.

Their replies helped to generate my list of viewing options.

Well, as of tonight, I've got my first animated box set -- but it wasn't on the list of options.

It is "Godannar," and I must say it is...unique.

(Disclaimer -- I've only watched three episodes so far.)

So far it is okay.

Well, "okay" may not be strong enough, but it's the word that fits most appropriately somehow.

I must admit, when I first dropped the disc in my DVD player, I was laughing (possibly unintentionally) at the madness unfolding. It was neat, no doubt about it, and a unique assault upon my visual and aural senses.

And naughty -- but hopefully it'll get naughtier, because frankly I don't see how it's earned the TV-MA rating by means of just having jiggling boobs in barely there clothing.

Not that I'm complaining about jiggling. Or the toothpick thin strands of clothing in certain areas. It's just...well...yeah I'm a dirty 32 year old guy hoping for more. And so far it looks more PG-13 than, say, a standard T&A movie.

I'm still going to keep my nephew away from the packaging of Goddanar, though.

So far this doesn't seem to have the depth (or implied depth) of Final Fantasy - Advent Children. It is plain silly, and that's fine. I've got no complaints about that, especially when the girl's cat pops up out between her boobs when she's rescued in the first episode.

But the robots...uh...the robots.

I feel like I'm betraying my higher standards of storytelling -- i.e. "Transformers" blows. Hey, if you like it, fine, got no problem with that. I had my fill of giant robots a long time ago from "Dexter's Laboratory." I wasn't looking for big ass robots, but there they were and if there ever was a need (which there wasn't) said need has been fulfilled.

But I'm not going to trash Godannar for having big ass robots. And, it must be said, that one robot has enormous boobs. But I also don't want to have a double standard -- I'm not interested in big ass monsters destroying cities (Cloverfield) nor do I want to see big ass robotos (Transformers, etc.) fighting each other.

In fact, it's that whole general area I don't like, and it's mostly because of my increasing distaste with the "blockbuster" movies we've been dealing with since the mid to late 90's. The storytelling standards, in my opinion, have lowered. And I don't like that. Fun is fun, and I won't trash fun (I am having fun with Goddanar, don't get me wrong) but I need more than what I'm getting.


Well, I need more than that. I can't help it.

I see Bleach at Walmart every so often and I pick it up and look at it. It's on the list, as is FullMetal Alchemist (which I probably should've gotten instead), but I don't regret the selection I've made.

I just need to do more research than asking "Does It Have Jiggly In It?"

"So," you're asking, "if you're not so much into big ass robots, why'd you choose something with big ass robots?"

Well...let's put it this way. (This is how I weigh all my DVD purchasing decisions)

I had the opportunity to spend X amount....and only that amount.

I look at which is the least expensive, and I cross reference that with how long the entire program is.

And...yes...ahem...I took into account "Maximum Jiggle Factors."

So, it's the most affordable PLUS the lengthiest product which is my usual standard, and Jiggle Vision is just a factor I'll have to factor out.

Pains me to do it, but I stopped watching T&A movies for a reason -- they were painfully bad.

But I haven't stopped watching the all out adult movies, oh no, that'll never happen (unless the local churches catch up with me, at least. There are 5 in the immediate region, after all. We rural folk must be big heathens.)
Now I know there's...uh....tentacle love, and honestly, I'm not in it to see innocent young girls get banged unwillingly by 15 foot long appendages. I'm just not for a girl being forced into such roles.

And, personally, it's simply my opinion that you don't mix sex and violence. I do have some standards -- I may like seeing Jesse Jane in a cheerleader orgy, but it's all consensual, and no one's getting knifed in the back while participating.

But this doesn't mean barely dressed anime girls can't get their...(oh god I'm gonna say it) "freak" on.

So, stronger storylines, naughty can remain naughty, and I must say I love the rich, vibrant pastels and softer images. I do have an episode of "Cowboy Bebop" here on video tape somewhere, and I need to look at it again.  Plus something else...there were two other shows I managed to record, but for the life of me I can't remember them.

Cutesy is always fun (but let's not get into Pokemon please) -- cutesy that is...arguably, at least 13 and older. Not childish cutesy.

And I'm just not a fan of violence -- the really, really graphic kind. The kind where people gotta slice their arms off to escape some madman's plan and crap. If it's considered torture porn or horror in general, I'm so not there. The more graphic it is, the more squeamish I'm going to be.

Hey, I fast forward through the murders in "Scream." Call me a pussy if you wish, that's fine, but the idea behind this is "life is bad enough, why expose ourselves to things that make it even worse?"

I reached new limits while sitting in the theater for "X-Files: I Want To Believe." I was very, very glad I didn't buy popcorn that day, and I spent more than a few times looking away from the screen during that final act.

And after I finish with Goddanar, I'll return either to Edward and Bella, or I'll go pick up FullMetal Alchemist or something else with a bit more bite to it.

But if someone wants to recommend something very jiggly, feel free to do so.

And if I need to be reminded of the really strong storylines, please rush to do that too.

Tags: godannar anime

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Date Joined: March 17, 2008