18 November 2005

Grand Theft Auto Kitten

As I write this, The Crow is playing The Warriors on PS2. By the way, if you haven't seen the movie this video game is based on, I recommend it.

I asked The Crow what he thought of the game so far and he said something along the lines of, "Eh, it's pretty much the same game I've played over and over. You wander around, you pick shit up, guys attack you and you shoot them or stab them with a knife or whatever."

I read somewhere that the video game industry is in need of new ideas. Though the industry overall is doing very well, (I think I read somewhere that video games made more money than movies last year)* the exec's at EA Games and so forth are looking for new material to broaden the market. Sure you can put a new skin on the old shoot 'em up game or improve the graphics on the virtual football field, but that's just milking more money out of the same audience. What the industry needs is a game that could appeal to groups as disparate as:

  • girlfriends who stayed with their boyfriend despite his purchase of a PS2
  • Asian people
  • crazy cat ladies
So here's a free one, on me.

Someone needs to make a video game where the player is a house cat. Stick with me on this one. The various challenges would include:

  • opening the cupboard and breaking into your food
  • dragging the trash out of the can and into as much of the house as possible
  • crossing the street without getting distracted by any shiny objects
  • watching your owners have sex for as long as possible without getting thrown out
  • trying to trip your owner when he or she is working in the kitchen
  • knocking shit off of counters
  • killing and eating bugs
  • hiding as many valuable objects as possible under the couch
  • spilling as many wine glasses as possible with your tail
  • . . . the possibilities are endless.

The cat could even have a health meter that occasionally has to be replenished by napping.

EA Games or other development company - if you're reading this and are going to steal my idea, you at least have to send me a free copy. That's all I ask.

divemaster: one who likes to carry heavy things

Well, here it is, another exciting Friday night in Orange County.

After seeing the new Harry Potter movie, The Crow and I made a dinner of tortilla chips and beer at the nearby Mexican restaurant (don't worry Mom, we'll eat more later) and lamented that three of the four previews were for re-makes. By 9 PM we were back home.


The good news is, we'll be in Portland in about a month. We arrive the evening of December 23rd and I'll be ready to take in as much pierced, tofu, critical mass, movie snob, zine-reading, biodegradable, blue state, woodsy goodness as I can squeeze in during my two week stay. Barry even got me some heated socks so I'll be somewhat pleasant to be around despite the truly deplorable weather you guys have (seriously, can't you pass a law or something?)

So what the hell have I been doing to pass the time? Well, since June of this year, The Crow and I have been trying to finish up our divemaster certification.

What is a divemaster? Isn't one of you already a divemaster?
Barry is actually a Master Scuba Diver - a consumer rating which we call "the black belt of scuba diving." A divemaster, on the other hand, is the first step in becoming a certified scuba instructor. A rough comparison would be going from a student to a student-teacher: the grasshopper to the sensei.

To become a PADI Divemaster, we spent dozens of hours working with students, and many more hours learning and demonstrating a variety of skills. One of the skills was something called "gear exchange while buddy breathing."

What on earth is "gear exchange while buddy breathing?" Well, it's a very special torture devised by the certification agency to test the divemaster candidates' problem-solving ability. It has no practical application other than to give the people watching a good laugh.

Basically, you and a partner drop down to deep end of the pool and swap masks, fins, snorkels, tanks, buoyancy vests, weights, and all the rest of your gear. The extra-tricky part? You can only use one scuba unit the entire time - that means passing one air source back and forth between two people. This is more-or-less the equivalent of driving down Powell Blvd in a stick shift and having the passenger and the driver switch places.

We completed the gear exchange on the first try, and about a week and a half ago passed our six final exams (physics, physiology, dive tables, equipment, etc) and voila, now we are divemasters.

Can we actually teach anyone to dive?
Well, no. But, after the next course (which we start in 2006) we'll be certified scuba instructors - qualified to work for piddly wages and free tshirts in any country of the world! I'm not planning to quit my day job, but, it's a nice skill to have.

See you in about a month!


31 October 2005

Halloween Week in NYC

Hello from New York City,

It's day four of my seven day trip, which means my vacation is
officially half over; but, the best is yet to come. Tonight we are
going to Red Bamboo for dinner - an all vegetarian restaurant with
some of the best grub ever to grace this ex-omnivore's tofu hole.

Honestly folks, the fake meat here is so realistic even my meat-eating pals were impressed to find out the "marinated meat medallions" were 100% wheat gluten. Make all the soilent green jokes you want, until Mike Wallace does an expose, I am Red Bamboo devotee. Max, Alley, I don't know which of you found this place, but, you have my eternal thanks.

Tomorrow is a double-whammy of hipster goodness. We got tickets to
see The Daily Show AND we're going to the NYC West Village Halloween Parade.

"You're going to a parade? I thought you hated parades."

That's right, I do hate parades, but that's because most parades hate
me back. First of all there's the pre-parade. When I lived in
downtown Portland, this meant closed streets, restricted bridges,
barricades where there should be parking spaces, and hordes of
suburbanites duct-taping lawn chairs to the sidewalk. Note - it is
not possible to duct tape anything to a sidewalk. During the parade
itself, every minivan and SUV is called from the suburbs into the city
center like ants to a dropped lollipop.

Adding to the congestion are the parade-goers who, after stowing their vehicle in a parking lot, immediately forget about the other cars on the road. Minds preoccupied with the state of their lawn chairs, they cross against the light snarling and glaring at the cars who are legally trying to cross the intersection.

When the parade finally gets going there's the obvious irritations including: noise, horse poop, groups no one cares about (Battleground Chamber of Commerce, I'm looking at you) and general lack of overall purpose. In the aftermath, there's nothing but coffee cups, fast food wrappers, confetti, and other bits of trash that clutter the streets and cause small birds to choke to death.

On a larger scale, parades are one of the worst forms of advertising
disguised as something that is beneficial for society. To enter a
float in The (Pasadena) Rose Parade a company must pay over $300,000 annually and sign a contract for several years. In return, the Rose Parade people promise millions of "impressions" on American families.

Here's why The NYC Halloween Parade is the homemade sock puppet to The Rose Parade's Joe Camel:

* The parade is run by a non-profit group

* The increase in tourism brings millions of dollars to community businesses

* Anyone can be in it. Neither a float nor a costume is required, but
some kind of decorative Halloween element is encouraged. I hear many
people choose to make giant puppets.

* When the parade was televised for the first time, it was on the
sci-fi channel and was hosted by Susan Sarandon.

* It's listed as "one of the 100 things to do before you die"
(alongside the Iditarod, Bastille Day in France and Australia's Nude
Surfing Championships).

Though the parade has its share of corporate sponsors, trash-creating
attendees and traffic snarls, I think its heart is in the right place.
Though I won't be dressing up to attend the parade, I'm hoping I'll
see some great costumes that will provide inspiration for next year.
I hope everyone has a fun and safe Halloween this year - and I'd love
to hear if you're dressing up or doing any extra-special tricking or

11 October 2005

The power of editing

I wouldn't call myself a fan of reality TV, but every now and then I'll flip past something I can't not watch. It's short lived, and usually ends in my saying, "I'd never eat that just to be on tv."

I did watch an episode of Morgan Spurlock's show which I liked, but, it was obvious that certain parts had been edited to heighten the drama. It got me thinking about how powerful editing can be. It's just like taking someone's words out of context, but instead it's someone's actions.

Throw a little music in there and you end up with this:


West Side Virus

(If the Shining link doesn't work, go to www.ps260.com/molly/ and click "SHINING FINAL.mov).

02 October 2005

Into the Blue

Into the Blue vs. The Deep

I'm going to cut right to the chase.

If you want to spend two hours looking at Jessica Alba in a teeny bikini and close-ups of Paul Walker's abs, go see Into the Blue this weekend; you won’t be disappointed. This movie has eye candy by the gallon. But if you’re curious about this recent adaptation of The Deep, keep sailin’, there ain’t no treasure to be found in these waters.

Where The Deep was a bonafide thriller, Into the Blue is really just an action movie sprinkled with some suspenseful scenes and a big helping of T & A. Innuendos about the film’s "scenery" and "booty" aside, the only thing that keeps Into the Blue from being a total flop is its gorgeous underwater cinematography.

Into the Blue is loosely based on the 1977 Nick Nolte film The Deep (also starring Jaqueline Bisset). The premise for both films is basically the same: a treasure hunting couple discovers a shipwreck off the coast of Bermuda. Unfortunately, the divers also discover a second wreck – one that’s full of illegal drugs. The divers must keep the location of both ships a secret while they search for an artifact that will allow them to stake a claim to the older wreck – a claim that could be worth millions. But the divers aren’t the only ones who know about the wreck loaded with hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics. The local drug lords soon learn about the find and make life difficult for our heroes.

Where The Deep uses Haitian voodoo, eel attacks,* and a collapsing shipwreck to ratchet up the tension throughout the film, Into the Blue doesn’t have much intensity until the very end. If the entire film was as good as the last fifteen minutes, Into the Blue could have been a huge hit. Instead, genuinely interesting underwater sequences are interspersed with mediocre topside scenes of the four main characters bickering or, in the case of Paul Walker, flexing.

Though Into the Blue wasn’t a boring film, there was a lot of unrealized potential – especially considering the source material. If the characters had been a little smarter, or a little more charismatic, it would have made a huge difference. Walker’s Jared was too much of a generic everyman, and his sweet-as-pie girlfriend Sam (played by Ms. Alba) would have been completely dull if not played by one of the hottest actresses in film today. The couple just didn’t embody what you’d expect young treasure hunters to be like. The supporting characters, Bryce and Amanda, were one notch on the tolerable side of annoying, and it was difficult to believe that the Jared character was a longtime friend of the arrogant, untrustworthy Bryce.

The good news is, almost half the film takes place underwater. Director John Stockwell (Blue Crush) must have known to play to his strengths: a great underwater film crew and a group of very good-looking actors. I’ve been diving in some of the top destinations and the footage in Into the Blue blew me away. It’s very difficult to capture the magic of diving. Bubbles always get in the way, fish zip in and out of the frame, or everything just ends up a washed-out shade of blue. I also have to give credit to the cast for their underwater performances. Though stunt doubles were used for certain sequences, Alba and Walker did a lot of the work themselves. Alba was a certified diver prior to the film and appears in many of the shark dives, while Walker worked his way up to a three minute breath hold at seventy feet. Also worth mentioning – Into the Blue was filmed during the winter with water temperatures hovering in the low 70’s. At this temperature, you’d find most divers in 3mm or even 5mm wetsuits, but the actors did most of their scenes in naught but a swimsuit.

Something else I liked about Into the Blue, as compared to The Deep, was how the characters showed respect for the ocean environment. In 1977, blowing up part of the reef (or an artificial reef such as a wreck) was no big deal. Likewise, eels and sharks were portrayed as a threat and something that was expendable. Into the Blue takes the time to explain that not all sharks are dangerous and, for the most part, shows responsible diving behavior.

Into the Blue was supposed to be released as a summer blockbuster. Rumor has it that the film was pushed back due to Sony’s buy out of MGM.* * With a simplistic plot that relies mostly on its underwater action scenes and hard-bodied cast to hold the audience’s interest, the summer season is really where Into the Blue belongs. As remakes go, Into the Blue is in the same boat with Dawn of the Dead and City of Angels - the basic premise of the film is the same, but too much of the original film has been changed to warrant a fair comparison.

For two hours of entertainment, it’s not bad. Or you could put your $10 toward a vacation and some scuba lessons and can enjoy the Into the Blue experience first hand (annoying friends not included).

*If you’re a trained diver, you know such attacks are absurd, but, to a landlubber it’s scary.

** Supposedly Into the Blue was pushed back because Columbia Pictures (owned by Sony) already had a scuba movie slated for summer 2005 - The Cave. This film was laughably bad. When I saw it, the power went out in the theater about an hour into the film and the audience cheered.

five weeks straight in the O.C.

Hello all,

Not to much to report from the O.C. these days. My travelling schedule has more or less wound down for the year, and I'm really looking forward to the month of October being (mostly) easy-going weekends at home. Of course, five weeks straight in the O.C. will probably make me nuts, so, we've got a trip to New York planned for the end of the month (phew).

The weather here has finally cooled off from high temps reaching nearly 100 degrees, to afternoons that level out in the mid-80's with occasional Santa Ana winds. You've probably heard about the fires in L.A., but not to worry, the fires are nearly 100 miles away from me. Here's a helpful analogy. Orange County is to Los Angeles as Salem is to Portland - complete with cultural vacuum! We get the L.A. local news on TV and that's about the extent of L.A.'s influence on this place. In fact, I can drive about 10 miles and pick up San Diego radio stations.

"So," you ask, "You're not travelling, your house isn't on fire, how do you pass the time?"

I am happy to report that I've been seeing a lot of movies recently. After one of the worst summer movie seasons in recent memory, there's finally some interesting stuff to see (Corpse Bride, Mirrormask, Wallace & Gromit, Everything is Illuminated, etc). Also, in a strange merging of worlds, my boss has been working with MGM/Sony on a promotion for the new Jessica Alba film, Into the Blue.

To most people, Into the Blue is just another summer action flick that didn't make the cut. Glenn Holmes, longtime head projectionist at the KOIN Cinemas once referred to the period from late August through October as "tax-write off season." This time of year is just a nebulous post-blockbuster, pre-Oscar time that often becomes the dumping ground for films that didn't test well or films the studios just aren't sure about. It doesn't say much for Into the Blue. . .

To the scuba industry, Into the Blue is (we hope) a much-needed shot in the arm for our somewhat stagnant numbers. The industry isn't in decline, but it's not growing either. 9/11, numerous hurricanes, and a sluggish economy have put the breaks on thirty years of steady growth. In addition, scuba doesn't have the young heros it used to - Mike Nelson (of Sea Hunt) and Jacques Cousteau aren't the icons they once were. Though we don't like to admit it, the average die-hard scuba geek is typically a male between the ages of 40 and 50 who listens to too much Jimmy Buffet. Meanwhile, other water sports such as surfing and wakeboarding are seeing tremendous growth thanks to gens X and Y.

Will Into the Blue be the gravy train we're hoping for? It's too early to tell.

02 September 2005

Hello from Honduras

Greetings from Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras.

I'm told that the Bay Islands were the first place Christopher Columbus visited when he reached "the new world." I don't know if that's true or not, but it's so peaceful and undeveloped here, it's easy to imagine the Nina, the Pinta and/or the Santa Maria sailing in to shore. I'm here for, you guessed it - a scuba event. The guests arrive tomorrow - nearly 100 of them- for a week of diving, drinking and partying in paradise. It's singles week here in Roatan, so the sarongs will be swinging and the guts will be heaving.

It certainly was an adventure getting here. We left from LAX at two in the morning. The five hour flight took us to El Salvador where I thought for a second that we were making an emergency landing because, looking out of the airplane window, I couldn't see anything below us but jungle. As it turned out, everything was fine. The runway appeared and the San Salvador airport is actually quite nice. From there we flew to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, then to La Ceiba (lah say-ba), and finally we landed in Roatan at around 11am. Yes, that's five different airports in one day. Phew!

The little island hopper plane is funny, they won't send the flight until the plane is at least half-full, and sometimes they stop in La Ceiba and sometimes they don't. On the plane in San Pedro Sula, they'll ask, "How many for Roatan?" "Okay, how many for La Ceiba?" My boss, likened it to a city bus where you have to push the button to get the stop you want.

I went on a dive this morning and saw my first seahorse (a black one, nearly six inches long), a baby cow fish, and a moray eel swimming across the reef. As the boat cruised around the island to our dive site, I was amazed by how few houses and hotels there were. On a similar drive around Grand Cayman or Cozumel, you'd easily see a dozen gigantic hotels rising out of the jungle - not to mention half a dozen cruise ships. But Roatan has only the occasional palm frond roof peeking out from the trees. As we drove around we saw local kids playing in front of their one-room home, and another couple of kids sleeping in a rowboat (fishing lines forgotten and drifting next to the boat).

That said, Roatan is by no means a deserted island, there are a number of large resorts here and the reality TV show Temptation Island was filmed at Luna Beach Resort (at the other end of the island from where I am). Most of the action is at "West End" where there are a number of restaurants and places to shop. There is also an amazing variety of wildlife. Walking back from the dive shop today I saw a four foot iguana (not including the tail), a female peacock, a skinny cat, several large butterflies, three goats, and this thing they call an island rabbit. It kind of looks like a really big hampster crossed with a mole. I hear there are monkeys who like to steal shiny objects, but I haven't seen them yet (have been keeping a close eye on my shiny objects nonetheless).

It's nice to get away from the fast-paced, $3 a gallon world. Right now, the only thing I have to worry about is making sure I put on enough bug repellent. Of course, all that changes tomorrow when the one hundred guests descend upon the resort. Then it's going to be, "When does the next boat leave? Where can I rent a camera? Does this smell funny to you? I think a monkey stole my room key!"

Hmmm, thinking about all that reminds me - I need to go take a siesta.

Until next time,


P.S. Here is where I am staying:

11 July 2005

The 2005 Orange County Fair

I am thoroughly wiped out today having spent all of yesterday at the
Orange County Fair. I know, I know, why would your favorite angry asian girl want to spend any amount of time amongst the tube top and cowboy boots crowd? Well, as you may remember from last year, the OC Fair is the home of the demolition derby AND the deep fried snickers bar. So, I doused myself in sunscreen and bought an extra-large
bottle of hand sanitzer and braved the throngs of sticky children and

Here's a slide show of OC Fair photos I threw together. Most of the photos are of the deep-fried treats I found.

Which of these is NOT a food available at the Orange County Fair:

a) Deep -Fried Avacado
b) Nachos on a Stick
c) Deep-Fried Twinkee
d) Cheescake on a Stick
e) Deep-Fried Oreos
f) Salad

The correct answer is "b," but I'm already working on the patent so no
stealing! If yesterday is any indications, fair food is a cash cow.
Hey, someone's got to help America fill its size 20 stretch pants.

As you'll also see by the photos, this year's demolition derby was
police-themed. Each of the thirteen cars was sponsored by a different
Orange County Police department. Much to my dismay, Mission Viejo was not represented. Unable to give it up for my homees back in the MV, I cheered for the one car driven by a chick (she took second place).

But those fair organizers aren't off the hook. I was robbed of the
opportunity to raise my beer and yell "wooooo!" to show my civic
pride. When the Irvine car rammed the Tustin car, and guy next to me yelled "F-ck You, Tustin!" I thought, "Man, that should have been
me." To make matters worse, none of south orange county was
represented. With thirteen cars, I had hoped that at least one of my
local subdivisions would be there. It really would have
lessened the sting if I could have at least flicked a nacho into the
ring and yelled, "Take that you Aliso Viej-hole!"

In other news, Barry earned his Master Scuba Diver rating this
weekend. The Master Scuba Diver (or MSD) rating is the highest
non-professional certification you can get. We call it the "black
belt" of scuba diving. The requirements include completion of nine
different scuba courses plus completion of fifty dives. Altogether,
it takes more than 100 hours of dive experience to reach this level
and it's something few divers ever accomplish. We'll be up in
Portland next week, so if you see him, please tell him congrats.

Hope all is well with you.

Until next time,


08 June 2005

the creepiest greeting card ever

So I was at the Save-On yesterday looking for birthday cards. You've got the usual array: Hallmark, American Greetings, birthday cards for "Him," anniversary cards for "Her," those creepy cards of the animals with the big eyes, etc.

I'm scanning the little headers that appear behind each stack of cards and I see one that says "Secret Pal." In the midst of all the ones that say "Just for Fun" or "From the Group" there's this lone stack that says "Secret Pal." What the hell? So I pick it up. The front has a nice watercolor of some happy, colorful balloons along side the message:

"Happy Birthday from your Secret Pal who thinks you're very special"
On the inside it says, ". . . and don't you forget it."

Just imagine receiving a card like this either in the mail or, even worse, at work.

First of all, there's the whole secret pal thing. That's weird. Nobody wants a secret pal. Secret Santa? Maybe. Secret Pal. Oh HELL no. Friendship is supposed to be a two-way thing. When it's not, that's called stalking. Secondly, it's super freaky that the hypothetical secret pal has found out when your birthday is, written it down and (more than likely) obsessed over it.

Oh Man. Her birthday is coming up. What am I going to do? I have to let her know how special I think she is, but I don't want to freak her out. I don't want her to guess that I have a ball of her hair in my drawer that I collect from her coat when she's away from her desk.

Then, lo and behold, the creep goes to Save-On and finds exactly what they're looking for.

Kaloo-Kalay, there's a greeting card for everything! Now I can surprise her on her special day. I wonder if she'll guess it's me. If she figures it out, I'll have to go to her house in the middle of the night and convince her that I'm not crazy!

The last and best thing about this secret pal card is the message on the inside ". . . and don't you forget it." Your secret pal is watching. I know everything there is to know about you - where you shop, where you live, what you like to eat, and I even know that you sleep on your side and wear pink pajamas! AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT!!!

I'm thinking I should send one to The Tool with, like, a bloody thumbprint on it.

no-kids-allowed airline

Greetings all,

Let's see, what's new this month? Well, I just got back from my last business trip for the season. This time it was a four-day trip to Houston, Texas. They say Houston is the fourth largest city in America. I think maybe they were judging based on waistline (ba-dump bum).

Actually, Houston isn't a terrible place. This was my second visit and both were, as The Crow would say, it was "non-objectionable." I think there are many misconceptions about Houston. For one thing, there are no cowboys there. In fact, I imagine Houston is fairly similar in appearance to most mid-sized cities such as Atlanta, Columbus, etc. There are many attractive historical buildings and the downtown seems similar in size to Seattle. That said, I wouldn't drink the water, leave the city limits, or breathe the air for any extended period of time. This is "Bush-country" after all. Oddly, I saw very few of those "W" stickers, fewer than I see here in Orange County. Maybe it just goes without saying.

Everyone in Houston was very friendly, and it was fun to experience a little of that Texas pride. People really do put "Don't Mess With Texas" stickers on their bumpers and nearly everyone greets you with a friendly "Hi, ya'll" (even if you're by yourself . . . which confused me at first). I also got to enjoy several tasty meals of Cajun-style food. Overall, I'd say Houston is more of a southern city than a cowboy town. One last thing, the classic rock station played a sweeper that went something like, "Here at KTEX we play the full spectrum of classic rock from Lynyrd Skynrd to 38 Special to the Steve Miller Band." I nearly swerved off the road I was laughing so hard.

So, after this latest trip, I am more convinced than ever that there should be an airline that bans children. I even have a slogan for them: "Every Child Left Behind."

For those of you who are pro-child, hear me out:

I am willing to tolerate a little bit of fussing on take off and landing. It can be a little scary and I understand it's tough to get the hang of "popping" ones ears. But the constant chattering and kicking of the seat and running up and down the aisles and smearing their boogers on the armrest is more than a person should be asked to endure. Think about it, they require special carriers for pets on airplanes to prevent the very same activities that children are permitted to do with complete impunity.

This isn't an isolated incident either. I've been on over fourteen flights since January and more than half of them were plagued with misbehaving kids. Sitting in my seat, unable to sleep because of the repeated blows to the back of my neck from the kid behind me, I fantasize about having the bad ones tagged. The next time they step up to the gangway, a large red light will flash and a big sign will light up that says "REJECTED."

Or maybe kids should be required to get special permits: passport-looking-things for air travel. The parent would have to present the permit at the airport. If the child has been good, no problem, have a nice flight. If the child has received three or more infraction stamps. NYET! Out of there. No Disneyland for you!

Alternately, I propose no-kid flights, or, no children on flights between 5am and 9am. Who's with me?!?

Well, that's about it. I've been doing a bit of blogging recently. Click the link below to read about:

The creepiest birthday card ever:

and/or my thoughts on the new Victoria's Secret bra commercials

Until next time.


09 May 2005

the blog is here

Greetings all.

Holy crap, has it really been since March since I last sent one of these? Sheesh. Well, from now on you can get on-demand rants at http://themadhapa.blogspot.com/

"Behind the Orange Curtain" received the most votes for blog name, but, I didn't want to make that the URL because I don't plan on living down here forever. The spacing on the the old email posts is a little wonky, and apparently I can't spell the word "across," but other than that it's good to go. Refinements will come later. I tried to bleep out any personal contact information, but, if you come across any, will you let me know? Do you think I should bleep out my employer''s name? Probably, huh?

Okay, on with the update.

April was a big "whatever" spent playing a highly-addictive Japanese video game called Katamari Damacy. Yes, you heard me, a video game. I put aside the Tom Robbins novel and the Sleater-Kinney advance CD to spend hours mindlessly glued to the television. I also owe Barry an apology. When he said he was going to buy a Play Station 2, I said "Video game consoles are for people who either don't have or don't want girlfriends." Well, it turns out I just needed a gateway drug. . . I mean game.

Katamari Damacy (http://www.namco.com/games/katamari_damacy/) doesn't sound all that great on paper, but, isn't that always the way with highly-addictive things? Here, eat this fried potato slice; drink this sludgy frozen coffee; roll up random Japanese objects into a ball. It all sounds so unappealing until you actually try it.

The game starts out where you're this little green guy rolling up candy and thumb tacks into a ball. By level eight or so you're rolling up people, fish, bears, park benches, etc. All the while the "King of the Universe" taunts you -saying your katamari is not large enough and have a funny-shaped head. Inexplicably, the King of the Universe has an enormous package.

So that was pretty much the month of April.

Towards the end of the month, our favorite bar, Kelly McCue's, burned down. It wasn't the greatest bar, but it was ours. The jukebox played Creedence Clearwater and Talking Heads, the one and only karaoke night was a huge failure, and the whole place was lit by neon signs and (muted) televisions. The lighting thing is key because, really, do you want to have a clear view of your fellow patrons or your bar food? Nuh-uh.

Alas, our bar is no more and it's not like we can just go to the bar on the next corner. Just about every bar around here is plagued by blaring TVs and an obnoxious waitstaff that look like they were yanked from a Clearasil commercial and pumped with uppers. The watering hole nearest to work serves beer in fishbowl-sized glasses but manages to screw up anything consumable that doesn't come out of the tap (sandwiches, nachos, etc). It is truly a dark time –especially since I discovered I really kick ass at Katamari Damacy with three or four beers in me.

Perhaps we'll find our late-night paradise at the newly opened "Diablo's Rockin' Cantina." God, what a name. The Crow and I are debating the genesis of "Diablo's." I think it went something like this:

"Honey, you'll never guess! The old dance club next to Kaptain Kreams closed down! I know you're going to this is crazy, but, I think it's a sign that it's finally time for me and my brother . . "

wait, wait, I can do better, let me give this another go . . .

"Honey, I think it's time for me and YOUR brother to open that bar we've always wanted! We've already picked out the name . . . 'Diablo's Rockin' Cantina' isn't that great? 'Diablo'' you know what that means heh heh heh. Honey where are you going? I was just going to tell you about our slogan: 'What happens at Diablo's stays at Diablo's, get it?'"

Luckily, I got to leave town at the end of the month for nearly two weeks in Grand Cayman. It was a work trip much like the Cozumel one in November (this event went much better, we had a broken leg but everyone left home with all the organs they arrived with). Evidence of Hurricane Ivan was everywhere, but the island is in recovery. Interestingly, the number of available hotel rooms is only one-third of what it used to be. As a result, the island is relying heavily on cruise ship traffic which, in my opinion, only brings out the worst in a destination. Just look at P.V., Cancun, and just about any place in the Florida Keys.

Hopefully people will start to trickle back. Cayman has a lot to offer and the people are incredibly nice. The diving was good and I finally got to swim with a turtle!

Now it's back to the old grind. My next big trip will likely be up to Portland in July. I can't wait! Hope this missive finds you all well.

Until next time . . .


26 March 2005

oranges to apples

Greetings, All!

I have recently returned from a trip to New Jersey and The Big Apple
which was half work and half fun. I The first part of my trip was
representing my company at the self-proclaimed "largest consumer scuba
show in North America" which takes place each year in Secaucus, New
Jersey. My company, for better or worse is the Microsoft/George Lucas/Nike
of our industry. We're not evil, but, we're the largest and,
therefore, most scrutinized.

One cool thing that came out of the show was a tour of CNN. It turns
out that one of the technicians over there is big into diving. So,
after the show one day, my co-worker Amy and I got a behind-the-scenes tour.

The rest of the work-related part of the trip was uneventful as there
is jack shit to do in Secaucus and the cab ride to the city (one-way)
can be as high as $85. As a result, I spent more time than I care to
remember sitting in the Outback Steakhouse attached to the hotel. In
case you're wondering what a vegetarian can get to eat at The Outback,
the answer is: beer. Good thing I wrote my room number on the back of
my hand before I headed down to dinner that night.

New York, on the other hand, was full of truly outstanding eating
opportunities. In four days I think I had four distinctly different
kinds of Japanese cuisine. I also saw a really bitchin' Thai movie
called Ong-Bak which reminded me of old Jackie Chan flicks -a simple
story and lots and lots of action. It was a great trip and a
much-needed infusion of culture.

Back at home, the guy I sit next to, let's call him "The Tool," seems
to be hanging in past his first 90 days. To make matters worse, one
of my favorite people in our department just put in his two weeks
notice. This virtually guarantees The Tool will be around for at
least another month since it would be impossible for our department
to be down two (out of a total of eight) people.

"Hate" is a strong word, I know. But, believe me, if you were put in
a room with this guy, just you and The Tool, within ten minutes you
would be looking for an implement to kill either him or yourself. I
hate this guy. He is the most arrogant piece of shit that does
nothing but talk about himself all day and gives his unsolicited
opinion about everything. Here is an example of the crap that
regularly dribbles out of his pie hole:

"How can I promote my roadside billboard concept to the dive centers
without becoming their go-to guy for all things marketing?"

"Megan, how can you be a vegetarian and not like vegetables?"

"Oregon, that's the home of The Mud Ducks. Go Mud Ducks."
[Me: Actually, it's just 'The Ducks.']
"No, I'm pretty certain that's incorrect. Oregon is the home of 'The
Mud Ducks.'"
[Me: Well, I only lived there for 25 years, I'm sure, being from
Arizona, that you're right.]

Did I mention that he wears sweater vests? This isn't some kind of
indie rocker look or anything, he honestly wants to look like a
pretentious asshole. Still don't hate him? How about this: his
previous job was selling guns over the internet, he thinks charging
higher taxes to the rich is "discrimination," and he thinks all
feminists are "man-haters."

So, if anyone has any suggestions on how to get rid of an unwanted
co-worker, please let me know. The whole department hates the guy.
Our best idea so far is to put LSD in his herbal tea and turn a laser
pointer on him.

Last thing:
I'm thinking of starting a blog just so I can log all of these rants
online. It would be back-up storage more than anything else. I have
some ideas for a name, let me know what you think and if you have any
other suggestions.

Weblog Name Ideas:

M.A.D. Hapa or Diary of a M.A.D. Hapa
(Hapa = Hawaiian word for a half-Asian & half-white person, M.A.D. =
my initials)

The Little Red Car
(named after my car, of course)

PDX Fugitive

Behind the Orange Curtain

??? other suggestions

Hope you all are well! Until next time. . .


08 March 2005

ipex shmipex

Have you see the TV ad for the Victoria's Secret Apex bra? Or, Ipex or whatever the hell it's called?

It's basically the supermodel Giselle standing on a catwalk and flinging her arms around while flashbulps pop all around. The voiceover tells the viewer that the Ipex bra is the most high-tech and comfortable bra ever. From the looks of things, even the bustiest of women can achieve complete support and comfort while -as the ad demonstrates- standing in one place.


As a marketeer, I fully understand the dichotomy of marketing women's lingerie: you're selling to women but appealing to men. I get that. The women want to be the chick in the ad because all the guys think she's hot. Uh huh.

But, dammit, seeing some amazon in high heels posing in her skivvies does not inspire me to go down the local mall, find parking, fight the crowds, dig around for my size, wait for a dressing room, try the darn thing on, and pay $45 freakin' dollars.

You know what MIGHT inspire me to do it? I'd like to see a woman (with at least a "C" cup and no visible muscle tone) running down a flight of stairs, and looking happy about it.

Hell, maybe even a cheesy compare and contrast. Something like this:

Aforementioned woman galloping down the stairs, bosoms heaving (maybe one hits her in the neck or knocks her coffee out of her hand). In the bra-view cutaway we see the inferior bra acting as little more than a boob sack. The woman is clearly uncomfortable, and to add insult to injury, she has to pass the creepy guy from accounting who leers at her and smiles a big perv. smile and says "nice sweater."

Then they show the IPEX:
The same woman as before is descending the stairs rapidly as before only this time she is carefree. The cutaway shows her completely strapped in with little-to-no movement. Yet, outwardly, the woman's upper torso appears very shapely. She passes the same creepy accountant, but this time, he ignores her.

Eh? Eh?

Now THAT is a bra I would buy.

07 February 2005

a tale of three cities

Unbeknownst to me, the day after Christmas launched Megan's Winter Road Show. Upon landing back in the states on January 4th, my boss called.

"Hey, do you want to go to Chicago next week? Okay, and how about Washington DC? End of the month. Greaaaaat."

So I had seven days on the ground before going to Chicago then, back to Orange County for a few days, and then off again to Washington DC for five days. Good thing I kept that pair of long underwear.

Chicago was good. It was great to get out of the suburbs and be back in a real city where there are real neighborhoods and you can see the personality of the city changing every ten blocks. Back home in Orange County, there are people who brag about living in "Laguna Niguel" as opposed to "Laguna Hills." But the houses look the same no matter where you go, and we all shop at the same damn Target! What the hell is a Niguel, anyway?

Ah well, at least it's sunny. When I left Chicago it was 20 below, and when I landed in Orange County it was 80 - a difference of 100 degrees! I actually had to change into my pajamas when I landed because I didn't have any other lightweight clothes.

Anyway, Chicago was cold but good, and I got to hang out with a very cool friend I hadn't seen since high school. Back home I had a few days to do my laundry and remind myself how much I still suck at surfing before I was off again to the land of the cold.

I have always liked Washington DC, I don't know why. I guess it's the "walkability" of the city (very much like Portland) paired with an unending list of things to do, see and eat. Highlights included: seeing another cool friend from Portland and later going to a place called Cosi where they serve an appetizer of smore's compelete with petite flame for roasting marshmallows. I also had the delightful experience of falling on my ass in the snow. I am proud of myself for landing squarely on my right butt cheek, sparing my tailbone and saving my left cheek for a future fall - I am such a pro. The next day I happily boarded a plane back to the summerland where, if I am to fall, it will more than likely be into water than onto ice-y concrete.

Guess what? At the end of this month, I will officially have lived in Mission Viejo for one year. It's no great accomplishment, but, it occured to me that I haven't said much about it in any of my e-mails.

First off, it's not a city, but, it is one of the largest suburbs in the area. A suburb of what, I can't say because we are equidistant from LA and San Diego.

Mission Viejo is also one of the safest cities in California. There is virtually no crime. If you don't believe me, check the police blotter.
It's 180 degrees from my first apartment, the Trevor Arms. If you lived in NW Portland in the mid-90's, it's the one that had the meth lab that blew up.

Anyway, something else that's nice about Mission Viejo that I have recently discovered is the community library. Though it doesn't have the wonderful smell of "old" that the downtown Portland library has, the MV library has some really good things going for it. The building is very bright, and well organized. They have banned cell phone use inside, and they carry graphic novels (as in comic books).

Yeah, yeah, Megan, your library is great and there's no crime, but we all know that it's boring as hell.

That's what you're supposed to think! I have recently discovered the secret purpose for the Mission Viejo library. From the outside, it's just an obligatory element in the cookie-cutter plan of the city, right? A police station here, a Home Depot over there, sprinkle some houses around and oh yeah, throw in a library for good measure. But really, the library is an on-going experimental art project.

Check it out: this month, the library is offering a scarf knitting class for teens.

Let's think about this for a second.

Not only do you need to find people in Southern California who can find a use for a scarf, but they have to make the damn thing themselves AND they have to be teenagers.

See? What else could it be but some weird nature/nurture art project about modern society? You know: the ever-chilling nature of isolated suburban life; the scarf is a symbol for the ability for the teenagers weave love in to their lives, blah, blah, blah. Isn't that awesome?!?!

please come visit me.


07 January 2005

thailand photos

Thanks again to everyone who called and sent e-mails of concern. I'm sorry it took me so long to get in contact with everyone. One problem with using the world's most popular e-mail is that it got completely jammed.

Anyway, we're back now and yesterday I threw together this web page of pictures. If you are really wanting to kill some time on a Friday, I can't think of a better way to do it! The web site is kind of ghetto, I went for speed instead of style. (If one of you web gurus out there can tell me how I can assign a name to the damn pages, that would be great. I filled in the "title" blank on every page, but for some reason it doesn't display. Is my use of frames screwing it up?)

Here it be:

I know it sounds corny, but, a simple photo can't possibly do justice to some of these places: the smell of incense, the tinkling of chimes, the warm sun and gentle breeze -it's pretty amazing. Also, I can't say enough nice things about our travel guide, Suree who really helped us understand the impact I like to get off the proverbial beaten path when I travel, but for godsakes, Thailand is the unbeaten path and it's good to have a guide.

The trip was great, truly fascinating, and it wasn't death and destruction at every turn. Contrary to what you may have seen on television, only a small area of the country was hit. Bangkok was no more damaged by the tsunami than Seattle was by the hurricanes in Florida (of course, there were relief efforts everywhere). We learned a lot and I know that many of the things we experienced will resonate with us for years to come.

I hope you enjoy the pictures and I hope it will inspire you to visit Thailand.