He’s like a real life Mola Ram

mola-ram

Presented without further comment:

Wyatt told police he had drunk a cup of tea spiked with hallucinogenic mushrooms and became convinced his close friend Taylor Powell was possessed.

According to an autopsy Powell,21, bled to death after his heart was ripped out.

The coroner said Powell had been alive when the organ was ripped out after his chest had been sliced open with a knife.

Wyatt told the police he thrown the heart into a fire along with other organs that he had removed from the body.

He told investigators he cooked the body parts because he was fearful Powell was still alive and he “needed to stop the Devil.”

Police had been called to the grisly scene after a third friend had witnessed a sudden mood change in Wyatt after they had all ingested wild mushroom tea.

Justin Davis told police he returned to the flat in Klamath, California, to find Wyatt naked and covered from head to toe in blood.

Rome’s Subtitles

I am spending my afternoon and evening lounging around my apartment in my boxers, watching DVDs, playing some Xbox, and generally being unproductive. Hey, I walked six miles this morning, and according to iLoseIt, I’m 1500 calories under my daily budget — anyway, the point is, feeling like relaxing, y’know?

Anyway, so several years ago, I caught the first few episodes of Rome, but never got through the entire season (or show). I decided to Netflix them, and the first two discs arrived this week. I popped the first disc in and watched the first episode, and while it’s everything I’ve come to expect of an HBO production — sharp production values, solid writing — I realized pretty quickly that there was something really fucked up on these discs.

The subtitles.

First off, I don’t usually mind subtitles. I mean, if they pop up, whatever. They’re not something I’ll usually set, but I generally can’t be bothered to turn them off. Um. Except that in this case, the subtitles aren’t just white or yellow letters at the bottom of the screen. Here’s a photo of the TV:

rome-subtitles

HOW FUCKING ANNOYING IS THAT? I mean, first of all, you can barely READ the subtitles in the first place. But then they take up HALF THE DAMN SCREEN.

Sadly, using the player’s remote to turn off subtitles wasn’t really an option unless, having done that, I then rewound (you know what I mean) the disc a few seconds and started playing again. Also, the subtitles would pop up again at each chapter mark. Annoying. And frustrating.

And, yes: I do know the problem is the disc (or rather, am pretty certain it’s the disc because I’ve never had trouble with the player before), and I know it isn’t the TV because I’ve got two TVs hooked to the same source and they both have the ugly subtitles.

HBO: I don’t know what happened when you were making these discs, but if I’ve got to say: big FAIL.

Your Car Horn Sounds Like An Asthmatic Duck. Forgive Me For Not Taking You Seriously. Like, At All.

Usually my Saturday AM walks are pretty lame: I walk up to Giant at Van Ness, or over to Target in Columbia Heights, buy some stuff, walk home. So, since it’s a holiday weekend (and since I’ve actually got most of it off, excepting several hours tomorrow evening where I’ll help clean out a back room at the Bookstore that hasn’t been touched since like the mid-90s), I decided to take full advantage. This morning I set off and walked six miles.

My path took me directly south to the National Mall, via Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House. I camped out at 14th & Constitution and finished the last few chapters of my book, then walked north to Franklin Square, hopped on the Circulator to Columbia Heights, bought some stuff at Target, then walked the two miles home.

I was run over nearly twice.

The first time wasn’t a big deal. I was waiting to cross K Street when a bunch of motorcyclists (Rolling Thunder is in town for Memorial Day) began passing through the intersection. The light changed, but the last few cyclists went ahead and ran it. And then as I and the lady I was waiting with stepped into the intersection, some complete fucking moron in a black SUV tore past (thankfully, in the next lane over). I was pretty calm and collected about it (even though I’d ignored my cardinal rule of being a pedestrian, which is “always assume the people behind the wheel of the car are complete and total fucking morons who also happen to be on a personal mission to run you over”), the lady next to me? Not so much.

I have never heard so much swearing in my life. I mean, that’s a lie, but this lady was pretty dammed impressive, and loud.

The second time happened much later, as my walk was nearly at an end.

So, there I am, crossing Woodley Road on my way home. One block left until I reached my apartment. Two bags of groceries over my shoulder. Glad, because, no matter how much I enjoy walking (and I enjoy it a lot) I also enjoy getting home after a long walk (and at six miles this was one of those) and being able to collapse onto my sofa and spend the rest of my day nuzzling the cats, playing the Xbox, and mindlessly watching movies (on my list for today: The Last Samurai, Sunshine, and maybe the first disc of Rome, which I’ve Netflixed).

And waiting to make a left hand turn onto Woodley from the southbound lanes on Connecticut is a big old blue car. And when I say “big old”, think Oldsmobile circa the mid 1980s: it was big, it was blue, and there was no way the super new and super flashy and expensive sports car behind it could have dented it. Yet, no sooner does the light turn green, than the super new, super flashy and expensive sports car’s driver starts honking his horn. And the blue car’s driver, instead of doing what he should’ve done — which is to say, wait until there was no oncoming traffic and no pedestrians in the crosswalk (I’m the pedestrian, by the way), makes his left hand turn.

Now, I’m aware out of the corner of my eye that this big blue car has accelerated like mad to get across northbound traffic (because, y’know: oncoming traffic!) and is now rushing my way, and so I do a classic freeze like a deer in headlights, because WHAT THE FUCK ASSHOLE.

That’s actually what I yelled, as he cut in front of me (good thing there were no cars waiting to continue across Connecticut on Woodley, because the driver of Big Blue would’ve hit them head on), at the top of my lungs: “WHAT THE FUCK ASSHOLE!” I was tempted to yell it again, even though by cutting in front of me, I saw the car’s windows were down and it was packed with women and children because, honestly: WHAT THE FUCK, ASSHOLE?

So you’re waiting at a light, and some douchebag with a tiny penis in his uber expensive car (I’m not much of a car person, but I think it was a Maserati) starts honking his horn (because he can’t wait thirty seconds for you to make a safe left hand turn), and you decide to almost collide with oncoming traffic and risk mowing over a pedestrian rather than risk his continued honking?

Okay, first of all, that guy’s car’s horn sounded like an asthmatic duck.

Second of all: what the fuck was he going to do? Bump your gigantic Oldsmobile with his “I-have-a-small-penis-mobile”? Let’s examine what would happen if he actually did this: I predict there would be a smudge and perhaps a dent on the bumper of your twenty-plus year old car, and I predict the front end of his would look roughly like, I dunno, this.

Meanwhile, if you had run me over? Granted, I’m just a pedestrian, but I’m a pedestrian who weighs 234* pounds. Something tells me I’m still going to put a fucking dent in your car. Plus, “I was afraid of the asthmatic duck” isn’t, I think, a valid excuse for nearly running someone down.

*I stripped naked in the middle of writing this post so that I could jump on my scale and get an accurate reading on my weight. I do this for you, Dear Reader. (Apologies for the mental image).

Keep The Sexy Streetcars

DC-Streetcar-Elevation

I moved to DC not quite two years ago (I grew up in Adelphi/Hyattsville and Columbia, then went up to the Baltimore area for college and stayed for a long time). And in a weird way, living in this city, without a car, I felt suddenly much more a part of it than I had any other place I’ve ever lived. Maybe it’s because, being car less, I’m forced to interact with the environment in a way I haven’t, as an adult, ever before. So reading about what the future had for mass transit made me really excited because it makes this city, my home, even more obtainable to me.

So, reading that the Streetcar Project might be killed off makes me feel very, very sad. It’s like someone you care about who is about to make a giant leap forward in their personal growth and development … and suddenly they get a chill and call it quits.

At approximately 2 am last night, Councilmembers received the proposed budget from Chairman Vincent Gray and his staff. Among the 11th-hour (or should it be 14th-hour) changes was a near-complete elimination of the H Street-Benning Road streetcar line.

The line had been approved by the Committee on Public Works and Transportation last week, but the final proposed Budget Support Act removes it and returns funding to some of the Great Streets streetscapes which DDOT said they could backfill with federal funds.

It may be too late to now save the program, but if you want to push for Gray to restore it, call Gray’s office immediately at 202-724-8032.

I kind of have to think that, in an urban environment, rail mass transportation is a no-brainer. Obviously, it isn’t, or this blog post wouldn’t be getting written (hell, Greater Greater Washington probably wouldn’t even be around). When you look at the history of the development and expansion of the Metro system, economic development and revitalization has followed the system. Doesn’t it then follow, that in addition to providing people more and different options to make their way about this wonderful city, that the Streetcar would do the same for DC that the Metro has?

Actually, Beyond DC has an article to that point (particularly rail mass transit over bus mass transit) that’s really good: go read it.

So, please, Vincent Gray and the DC City Council: let’s keep the sexy streetcars, okay? You’re going to make me cry otherwise.

UPDATE 5/27 7:05am

AAAAAAND THEY’RE SAAAAAAFE!

It was midnight Tuesday, and D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray had it all figured out. To help close a projected $550 million budget gap, he would take an ax to the city’s plan to build a new streetcar system — one of his mayoral rival’s pet projects.

But hours later — after a backlash from at least one member of Congress and hundreds of residents who jammed government phone lines, community e-mail groups and Gray’s Web site — the late-night maneuver had been scrapped. By midday Wednesday, Gray was back at the council dais, telling his colleagues that he and city finance officials had found $50 million to keep the streetcar program on track.

Woo-hoodle!

The Myth of The Third Payday

I have a budget. Sometimes, I even keep to it. It’s written with pencil, on paper. I calculate all of my scheduled payments, make estimations for my utilities, and try to account for all of those things we forget about: walking money, groceries, how much I need to put on my SmarTrip card every two weeks. A fiver here and there for the laundry card. But that’s only part of a budget: that’s just calculating the red, the money you’re spending each month. The second part is calculating the black: how much you’re bringing in.

There are a few ways to estimate your monthly income. You may, in fact, know it, especially if you’re one of those poor bastards who gets paid once a month. You might think it’s even as easy as taking your yearly salary, taking out what you estimate you owe in taxes, and dividing by twelve.*

Of course, you shouldn’t do that, because it isn’t that easy.

Let’s do some math. But first, let’s make this assumption: let’s assume you are paid every two weeks.

This leads us to Assumption B: If you get paid every two weeks, and there are fifty-two weeks in the year, this means you will get paid twenty-six times by your employer.

Which brings us to Assumption C: Since no month can accommodate more than four complete weeks, this means that two months out of the year, you will receive three paychecks. (Since I work two jobs, there is no month out of the year where I receive less than four, but since they’re both on the same pay schedule, I only have twenty-six paydays per year).

Except B & C aren’t assumptions, they’re facts (if you’re paid bi-weekly). Yes, twice a year, you get a third payday in a month. Congratulations. If you’re on my pay schedule (last checks came on May 21st, next on June 4th), you might pull up your calculator and note you’ve got three paychecks coming in July, on the 2nd, 16th, and 30th. Party time, right?

Well, not so fast.

Let’s make some further assumptions: let’s say you’re like me. You put money into savings every time you get paid, but you do your best not to touch your savings account for any reason. So you pay rent out of the paycheck closest to the fifth of the month, and with your following paycheck, you pay your utilities, and your credit cards, and student loans, and whatever else. Meanwhile, you’ve decided to buy a Nintendo Wii with the Wii Fit to work yourself into shape, but you want to wait for that month with the extra pay day so you don’t have to dip into your savings.

“July,” you think. Because today is May 26th, and you know you’ve got three paychecks in July.

Well, but hold on a moment.

7/2 – Payday: pay your July rent.
7/16 – Payday: pay your utilities
7/30 – Payday: pay your August rent

See how that works? Because you don’t touch your savings to pay rent (or if you don’t have a savings account, or if you don’t have enough in it), you’ve got to use your third paycheck to cover your rent, as you won’t get paid again until the middle of August (the 13th, at which point your rent’ll be waaaaay overdue). But, somewhere along the line, you’ve got to be able to benefit from the bonus paycheck, right?

Yep:

8/13 – Payday: pay your utilities
8/27 – Payday: pay your September rent
9/10 – Payday: pay your utilities
9/24 – Payday: pay your October rent
10/8 – Payday: pay your utilities
10/22 – Payday: BONUS

Because the next day of the pay cycle is the fifth of November, you can use that paycheck to pay your November rent. Which means that the paycheck for either October 8th or 22nd can be utilized as your bonus check from July. I mean, for that matter, you could pay your rent with your check from the 22nd and use your paycheck on the 5th to go celebrate Guy Fawkes day. There’s flexibility.

Yeah, you could look at it and say, “Damn. I was so excited for July, too.” Or you can say, “Woohoo! Just in time to buy all my Christmas gifts!”

This was pretty cool to sit down and figure out. I never really thought about when the bonus payday would actually impact my wallet, I had sort of assumed it would be immediate, y’know? I think most people would. It’s also a good reminder why it’s so important to budget yourself and plan things out — just because things seem to rationalize well in your head doesn’t mean they’ll survive the unforgiving brutality of pen and paper.

As for me, with my bonus payday, I’m looking forward to settling some outstanding debts, and putting quite a bit of green in my still fledgling savings account. Yeah … after much consideration, I opted to forgo to the Wii (for now, anyway).

FYI: The next three paycheck month following July is December, but guess how long you have to wait for that bonus? May 6th, 2011.

*Dividing by twelve doesn’t work because the bonus paychecks aren’t distributed evenly by month. Here’s what I mean: if after taxes your earnings are $30k, dividng by twelve fools you into thinking your monthly income is $2500. But if you’re paying bills in a month with only two pay days, your actual earnings are only going to be $2307. Hope that $193 difference wasn’t your grocery or transportation budget for the month.

I don’t know much about cologne

I don’t know much about cologne.

Which is to say, just give me a bottle of something that I can squirt/spritz/spray on the back of my neck at the start of the damn day, y’know? Give me something that your nose might still be able to pick a hint of as I’m leaving my part time job after a long sixteen hour day. Give me something that’s easy to find in stores.

So when I ran out of the bottle of cologne I brought down from Timonium …

Yeah, well, I was out of cologne for like six months.

Like, Target, what, no cologne section? (I looked.) Giant? What’s your excuse? (Groceries only my ass.)

And then, voila, as the Christmas season kicked into gear, we got cologne at the Bookstore.

But not just any cologne.

No. We got Star Trek cologne. Yes, I’m serious. No, this is not a belated April Fool’s gag. (I kind of wish it was).

And while I was tempted (because, hey, I needed cologne), two things turned me off: 1.) Star Trek cologne. 2.) $29.95. Fuck it, I don’t need to smell thirty-bucks good. I’ll just smear more deodorant on, thankyouverymuch.

But then something happened. Christmas ended, and the cologne (surprise) didn’t sell.

Like, it didn’t sell at all.

So it got marked 50% off. And I said, “Okay, I’ll spend fifteen bucks on cologne.” (Even if it was Star Trek cologne). So I did. And y’know, while for a few days I was worried people in my close vicinity would sniff and ask, “Hey, was a salt monster just sucking out your blood?” the truth is, if anyone noticed I was wearing cologne, they didn’t mention it. And if anyone noticed I was wearing Star Trek cologne, they kept their mouths shut.

And then something happened. Yesterday, in fact. Checking our internal inventory application for recent Blu-Ray sales (FYI: we have 100+ copies of Avatar sitting in our back room — go ahead, ask me what my pick for $4.99 Black Friday Discount is going to be?), I noticed the listing for the Star Trek cologne.

It had dropped from 50% off.

To ninety-eight cents.

Ninety-eight cents for a bottle of cologne?

Folks, not only did I buy the remaining two Tiberius bottles at my Bookstore, but on Monday, I traveled to the Friendship Heights store with the intention of buying out their stock, as well. (According to our computer’s sister-search, they were the only other store in the area with them). I only bought one, actually, as the guy at the register mentioned he’d been thinking about buying his brother one, and heck, only snagging one would’ve given me four.

tiberius_cologne

Yes. I have four bottles of Tiberius cologne in my medicine cabinet. I guess there’s a plus here:

1. The logo doesn’t actually scream “STAR TREK DORK.”

and 2. If a girl I bring home* recognizes the logo, she’s probably a Star Trek Dork too, and this means LOVE and MARRIAGE and BABIES and all that jazz.

Or, y’know, not.

In any case, when I spray (spritz?) that stuff on, I feel strong enough to wrestle the ears off a gundark Gorn.

(And, yes, I do have the Star Trek bottle opener. Two of them, actually. Both gifts Christmas ’08).

*It could happen. It totally could!

Teaser Tuesday: Dangeous Dames

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser this week comes from Dangeous Dames by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem:

Still, I wasn’t about to let some Cockney- talking, God-Save-the-Queen singing, Latino droid toy be the one to punch my ticket for the hereafter express. So it was time to suck it up and show this psychotic Hispanic with Union Jack delusions of glory how a real tough guy dances. p 271.

Future sci-fi meets pulp noir: fun read.

The Rikers in Space

This really made me miss Star Trek: The Next Generation. What a great interaction between Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis.

If you have the special edition DVD for First Contact, the director’s audio commentary is worth listening to: it’s Frakes’ first commentary track, and he has a ball. His laughter is infectious.

(Not so much Nemesis, though, which was “just awful”).

Week Eleven: Lost’s Final Episode Still Isn’t Online, but I’m Thrilled As Can Be

Alas, it’s 2:37am as I start writing this post, and Lost‘s final episode still isn’t available online.

But since I’m up anyway, I jumped on the scale and had a holy-cow-wtf moment.

Last week, you’ll recall (or won’t) I weighed in at 243 pounds. For the last month or so, I’ve been flitting tantalizing close to breaking into the 230s, but I’ve yo-yoed between being “just about there” and “not close enough.”

And I feel like I cheated: I didn’t have dinner last night. I didn’t plan to skip dinner, but after walking the two miles home, I walked in the door to realize I felt dangerously close to throwing up. Fortunately, this is nothing that can’t be cured by opening the windows, taking off most of my clothes, and lying on the carpet (next to a towel … y’know, just in case).

The scale read 237.5.

Yeah. The 230s. I came. I saw. I’m a quarter of the way to the 220s.

Yeah. You see that?

237.5. I lost FIVE AND A HALF POUNDS last week. (My total weight loss is 21.5 pounds).

I still think my scale is fucking with me. I don’t feel like I lost that much weight. As always, the true test comes when I pull my belt closed and pull it tight. Pretty soon, I’m going to have to start carving new holes into it (or, y’know, buy a smaller one).

“We’ve gotta go back!”

Lost isn’t over.

For me. Not yet. Not for a day, anyway. I got rid of my cable TV subscription a few months back, my adventures on the island will end tomorrow evening when I get home and fire up Hulu. (Please, no spoilers).

Meanwhile, I thought this video was beautiful:

And I find myself echoing this sentiment: “When that day finally comes, and the screen goes black, I’ll be like LOST ain’t over, ‘We gotta go back!'”

(You can download the MP3 here).

Kick Ass’s Score: RELEASED

Kick Ass’s score, which I blogged about last month, has finally been released.

Well, okay: there’s a hitch — so far, it’s only been released in the United Kingdom. Which is, for those of here in the United States, on the opposite end of a fairly large body of water called by sane people “The Atlantic Ocean”, and be people who clearly have misjudged its size, “The Pond” (i.e., “I’m going across the bloody Pond, mate.”*)

Here is a link to the Amazon.co.uk page where you can purchase the album. (It is, by the way, fucking awesome. I’m listening to it right now).

NOTE: If you are not a resident of the U.K., you will have to use a U.K. proxy to download the album. Never fear, there’s one here.

*Please do not get me started on Americans who have not lived in the U.K. who use British slang. You’re not fooling anyone.