because sometimes my synapses actually connect, and a coherent thought results...

21 January 2008


So, I just got back from a matinee showing of Cloverfield, and it's only now, 3+ hours after the end of the movie, that I'm getting over the feeling of being punched in the stomach.

Movies don't normally affect me this way. I had consciously avoided looking at much of the advance press for this one, not wanting to inadvertently come across a spoiler that would ruin the experience. Yes, I'd heard that this was the "Blair Godzilla Project", and even though I've never seen Blair Witch, I got the idea of what to expect. I also read my friend Richard's spoiler-free assessment of it, and I agree with him on one key point -- if you are susceptible to vertigo, or at all seizure-prone, DO NOT see this movie. So, since I suffer from neither of these conditions, off I went...


damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn damn...

I'm not sure exactly what it was that got to me. Maybe the first-person camera perspective, which reinforces the idea that you are not watching the movie, but rather are experiencing it. Maybe the dialogue, which had a stark, bare sense of reality, right down to the black humor comparable to that which my friends and I often use to break tense moments. Maybe it was my intimate knowledge of the locations involved, since my childhood was spent growing up just outside of NYC. Maybe it was the idea that, while I pray each day that no one I know will be confronted by a tragedy of horrific proportions, part of me thinks that if such a tragedy were to happen, whatever the cause, it would play out something like how this movie was presented....

... and that terrifies the hell out of me.

This movie was a reminder that, in real life, people die, often without reason, and that events in our lives usually yield more questions than answers. I hope that Roland Emmerich and the creative team behind the Godzilla debacle of a few years back are watching this movie and saying, "THAT's the movie we meant to make".

It amazed me that this movie, with no soundtrack to speak of, had over a dozen music credits. I can only assume that most of these were background music during the party & flashback scenes. I'm already hearing speculation among fans clamoring for a sequel, and I'm on the fence about it. Such a piece would have to be done right to be effective -- maybe a "documentary" retrospective?

Oh, and for anyone who disputes the effectiveness of the reality portrayed by this movie, I'll leave you with this -- a less-well-known piece of amateur film taken on the day of our most recent, and familiar, real-life tragedy. I don't normally like to invoke this memory, but this is it in its most genuine form. Twenty-six minutes, no agenda, just a witness:

10 January 2008

8 Simple Rules for Riding RTA

With apologies to the late John Ritter's sitcom (a fine piece of work on his part, though he left us too soon), my experiences as a transit user over the last couple of weeks have prompted me to present this list for general consumption, in no particular order:

8. If it's too loud, it's too loud: Bone conduction is a wonderful technology for speakerless headphones and discreet microphones, but if your traditional-speaker headphones are causing your skull to resonate such that I can hear your music, TURN IT DOWN. And the first person who gives me crap about "you're too old" gets beaten with my cane...

7. You pay for a ride, your package just goes along for it: Until you're willing to pay an extra fare to place your briefcase, office potluck contribution, retirement gift, bookbag, or other worldly posession on the seat next to you, it travels in one of three places: on your lap, on the floor, or in the overhead rack.

6. Swarm, swarm, swarm... NOT: If you are one of the first people on the bus, or will be one of the first people off the bus, don't cluster near the front door. This only serves to create grief for everyone, and gives the artificial appearance of a full bus. To the people who complain that (as I heard last night) "I thought we were delivered from this", I say get a clue and look at who else is standing and sitting in the back, front, and middle of the bus. You ain't Rosa Parks, this ain't Selma, and we're all in this situation together. Stop the I'm-a-victim pity party RIGHT NOW.

5. Courtesy much?: Guys, if you're under the age of 40, able-bodied, and not overly burdened by other items, get your butt out of that seat when a woman of any age, elderly person of any gender, or less able-bodied person of any age or gender steps on. If he/she refuses the seat, fine, at least you've made the offer. Make it again when the next person fitting that description gets on the bus. And again. And again. And again. Wash, rinse, repeat. Prove to me that common courtesy still is.

4. Leave the driver alone: If it's a problem with the driver, take it up with the appropriate channels after departing the bus. If it's not a problem with the driver, but a problem with the route or the vehicle, the driver is in the same predicament you are, and is likely doing his or her best to accommodate the situation. Your bitching/moaning/kvetching at the point of occurrence will only make things worse, for you, the driver, and everyone else on the bus.

3. Don't assume the driver knows everything: As a corollary to the above, remember that a bus is 40 ft. (or more) long, and what's going on in the back of the bus may not be readily apparent to a person in the front of the bus. This applies to noises, smells, temperature, etc... If it's too hot/cold, walk to the front of the bus and kindly ask the driver if a climate control adjustment can be made. The driver's compartment is somewhat isolated, and is subject to a blast of warm/cold air every time the door is opened, so what's comfortable up front could be unbearable in back. If it's a mechanical issue in the back (a strange noise, a broken window latch or seat), make sure the driver knows about it before you depart. Not everything causes the dashboard to light up.

2. Take the time to say "thank you": RTA likes to hear the good as well as the bad (and still needs to hear the ugly, hopefully before it reaches that point). Note the driver ID number if you can, or ask for their name, and the bus number, as well as time, place, and details as applicable. The occasional "attaboy" works wonders in ensuring that good behavior spreads like a virus (and bad behavior gets attacked like one).

1. Get involved: This is public transportation, and we're all part of the public. Find out more about where funding for the system comes from and where it goes to. Respond when comments are asked for, rather than just complaining when decisions are made. Offer comments when they're not asked for. Write to your elected officials at the state level, ask them why transit funding in Ohio is so poor, and issue them a mandate to fix it. Write to officials in Washington and insist, for the good of our national sustainability, that they provide funds to expand services offered. Somewhere, there's a reality disconnect between what we NEED (and yes, thanks to "Peak Oil", we are at the point of NEED) and what we have.

07 January 2008

O-H-uh oh...

Jim Tressel, I want the last two hours of my life back.

I don't know what the hell that was they displayed on the floor of the Superdome, but it sure as shit wasn't BCS-quality football. What, LSU throws anything but a standard two-back, two-wide set at you, and all of a sudden you start playing two-hand touch? And don't EVEN get me started on the two consecutive penalties that led to LSU's fourth touchdown.

Granted, not a single questionable officiating call or lucky shot went Ohio State's way, but good teams don't need to rely on that to win. Good teams bring their A game at every opportunity, and OSU just didn't do that, and hasn't done it in the big game for two years running.

Ah, well, at least the wings & chili at Muldoon's were worth it...