Keeping Up With The Joneses

Johnny Dollar left this comment on my blog yesterday:

i don’t care what the haters say, i’m looking forward to the new indiana jones movie.

i saw raiders in the theaters and haven’t missed one since.

I am also very much looking forward to the forthcoming Indiana Jones flick, and intend to see it on the opening day. I was three or so when Raiders of the Lost Ark came out, and I think the first — and only — Indy flick I’ve seen on the big screen was The Last Crusade. (My favorite, if you’re wondering, is actually the one that takes place the earliest: The Temple of Doom.)

But I thought I’d take this opportunity — with the help of YouTube — to talk about Indiana Jones and all the ages we’ve seen him. Because, the truth is, five actors have portrayed the man with the hat: Corey Carrier, River Phoenix, Sean Patrick Flannery, Harrison Ford, and George Hall.

We’ll start here:

Yeah, you know River Phoenix portrayed Young Indy in the opening of The Last Crusade, but you might not know about The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which aired on ABC, and featured Corey as child Indy …

… and Sean Patrick as Indy in his late teens and early twenties:

When these episodes originally aired, they were “bookended” with segments featuring George Hall as Old Indiana, a ninety-year old man wandering around museums and sliding down bannisters. Unfortunatly, when these 45-minute episodes were edited for VHS release (they’re now available on DVD), these bookend sequences were cut, and this was one of the few George Hall as Indy clips I could find:

Which of course begs the questions: Where the eff is his fedora? (He does wear it in some episodes!) And, WTF happened to his eye? Maybe we’ll find out in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull …

Meanwhile, however, the bookends didn’t always feature George Hall as Old Indy. In one episode, a Not-Quite-So-Old Indy was portrayed by …

… Harrison Ford! This was one of the few times The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles played The Raider’s March in the score. This was filmed during a break on “The Fugitive”, which is why Indiana has a beard. According to a quick google search, the bookend of this episode was set in 1950 and Indiana is 50 (although filmed 5 years after “The Last Crusade” which was set in 1939, Indy has aged 11 years to Harrison’s five) — in “Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, Indy will be a measely 57 (so, do the math: Harrison will now have aged fifteen years to Indy’s seven…)

I think he’s still capable of wielding his bullwhip …

… and, last but not least, let us not forget Mr. Potato Head’s turn as Indiana.

Cracked Spine

Don’t get me wrong — I like Stephen King. To be specific, I think his early stuff is great. Most of his latter stuff has been very ho-hum if not just bad.

A few hours ago, a friend and I got into a discussion regarding the condition of books, and what should be done to people who abuse them. While I absolutely completely understand and appreciate his vehement desire to drag individuals into the street and shoot them (albeit, I’d like to do it to reckless drivers), I think it might be a bit extreme to do that to people who crack the spines of books. Truthfully, I think he was probably exaggerating his desires a tad.

I selected two books from my rather extensive personal library. The first is David Simon’s amazing “Homcide: A Year on the Killing Streets.” If you’ve never heard or read it, open a new browser window, go to, and order it. It’s an amazing book: for a year, Simon traveled with Baltimore’s Homicide detectives as a police intern, writing this true-crime novel that is, truly, more fascinating than any novel you could read. I’ve probably read it from cover to cover at least four times, and on hundreds of occasions I’ve grabbed it and read a few chapters while eating dinner or waiting on some work to be completed on my car, or when it was slow at work.

The other book is Stephen King’s “From A Buick 8.” I read this book once. I don’t remember if I actually finished it. I don’t remember what happened in it, except that I thought it paled when compared to his classic “Christine.” My most vivid memory of the plot comes from his book “On Writing”, when he describes his inspiration for the book.

Now, compare the photos I’ve taken of these books:


The cover of “Homicide” is torn and held on with scotch tape. The spine is cracked to hell and back. The binding is giving way. Pages are stained with liquid and wing sauce, many boast creases where I folded a corner to mark my place.

“From A Buick 8” is in pristine condition. I could have brought it home from the book store ten minutes ago.

I suppose there could come a time when I grab my copy of “Homicide” with the hope of going to an appearance with David Simon in the hope of getting him to sign his name on its pages. Simon might have one or two reactions. He might look at the book, look at the tape, look at the binding, look at the use this copy has been through, and hand it back to me with a look that says “Please take better care of what I write.” But I hope that he’d take the book from me and look with fondness at those flaws and say, “When I see a book this well used, I know the reader has appreciated what I spent so much time crafting.” I hope most authors would have that view to their bound works: that signs of well use are signs of appreciation in this are, as much as a shiny wax shows a person’s pride in their car.

My copy of “Homicide” has a cracked spine. So does my copy of “Catch-22.” So do many of my books. I consider a cracked spine a mark of honor. And when I’m patching a book back together with tape and gum and glue, a pulp MacGuyver, I couldn’t be happier.

Baltimore County’s Finest


I glanced out the window of my den a few minutes ago and did a double take. Three Baltimore County police officers, three police cruisers, and a white car I don’t recognized apparently being searched, with some dude I don’t recognize apparently the operator of said vehicle. I suppose he could be a new neighbor, or perhaps he tried to escape the police notice by pulling into this complex and parking and claiming to reside here. At least it’s a nice day — forty degrees! — to be doing a car search.

Okay, back to CareerBuilder.

RISK 2210 AD

I finally got to play RISK 2210 AD Saturday night. Checking my account, I found out that I’d ordered it January 16th … 2002. So, cool, only six years until I actually got around to getting some blokes together to play it!

RISK 2210 AD is a modernized edition of the classic war game, published by Hasbro under the Avalon Hill banner (A.H. also publishes a similar variant, titled RISK GODSTORM). 2210 AD is set — yes, in the future! — but in a world ravaged by nuclear war. At the start of the game, four territories are marked as non passable nuclear wastelands. In addition, new troop movements are possible via underwater colonies, and a whole new planet is open to invasion: by use of spaceports, you can invade the moon and fight your foes there!

Troop pieces are mechanized robots of various sizes (one with hulking missile launchers on its shoulders), with commander pieces allowing for extra defense and attacking powers, as well as the ability to use specialized cards allowing you to destroy half of your enemy’s attacking force or recruit additional reinforcements. Energy acts as currency, with energy coins — and reinforcements — doled out at the start of each player’s turn allowing for the purchase of Commander Cards. The game lasts five “years”, with each turn representing a year. At the end of the five years, the player with the most territories is the winner. In a twist I whole-heartedly agree with, a player’s position in the turn’s rotation changes at the beginning of each turn based on a bidding system.

Unfortunately, I failed to watch THE PRINCESS BRIDE before playing (although we — me, JWER, Wombat — watched “Blue Harvest” while waiting for stragglers, none of whom showed), or I would’ve remembered the immortal lesson: “NEVER FIGHT A LAND WAR IN ASIA!” Figuring that the future might’ve allowed for Asia to be an easier conquest (as even Australia now has three ways of invasion), I, um, failed. JWER played as the Black Army, Wombat was the Baby-Shit Army, and I played as the Union Army, blaming all of my defenses on my Land Commander, who I named General McClellan. Completely. JWER and Wombat ate into my territory, and the only reason I didn’t come in third place is that once the fifth turn was coming to an end on Wombat’s, he wasted most of his troops punching through JWER’s lines and then rampaging through barely defended Europe and North America until he’d exhausted his forces.

There was a “cat on the board” incident, but as was noted, “I never though a cat on a RISK board would do so little damage.”

Photos, after the break.

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Ledger Part II

Having a few days to reflect on my post on Heath Ledger’s death, I think I may have been a bit harsh in my judgement (not that anyone cares what little old me thinks).

I do believe that people who abuse narcotics or prescription drugs or engage in other risky behavior while aware of the risks deserve a certain amount of the blame for their own demise when it happens. I also believe that our culture places way more value on the death of a famous individual than it does to the deaths of hundreds of nobodys: 300 people die in Baltimore, and CNN won’t do a story on it, but they’ll run a dozen when Britney Spears finally croaks.

Still, I chose to exploit the death of Heath Ledger to make these points, when I could’ve chosen the tactful option of shutting the fuck up or waiting a bit or not referencing him in my post at all. Shame on me. I feel quite awful with myself, but at least I can comfort myself with the knowledge that there are, in fact, bigger assholes in the world.

But it’s a very small comfort.

Heath Ledger is Dead

If the title of this post is a shock to you, you must not’ve turned on CNN or read a paper or listened to the news since 3pm EST today.

Upon learning that he was dead — and that pills found near the body indicate a possible accidental overdose — I quipped, “I sure hope they finished filming The Dark Knight.” Frankly, I’m having a hard time grieving for the guy. Here’s why:

It’s hard to feel sorry for rich young famous men who bring about their own self-destruction. If Ledger had been killed by a stalker, or run over by a speeding taxi or a drunk driver, or killed in a movie stunt gone wrong, then the circumstances would be different: Heath Ledger would not have brought his death upon himself, and his loved ones. But that’s exactly what he did, regardless of whether or not he abused drugs or alcohol or sleeping pills to combat feelings of isolation or sleeplessness or whatever else one feels that motivates a person to chemical dependancy and abuse.

Certainly Ledger’s death is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for his family, and especially for his daughter, who will never know her father. But it’s a tragedy that Ledger apparently brought upon himself, if the sleeping pills found near him are any indication. Brad Renfro, who died Tuesday of last week of caused related to suspected drug abuse, brought a similar tragedy upon himself.

Abuse of chemicals involves a possibility of death. It’s hard to imagine that Ledger wasn’t aware of this possibility. Perhaps he didn’t care, or he felt whatever he needed the sleeping pills for was worth the risk. Maybe he felt that his fame or his wealth or his youth made him immortal.

If I’m going to spend my time mourning a person, I choose to mourn Zachariah Hallback, gunned down on the mean streets of Baltimore. What was his crime? What was his mistake? Why didn’t he allow inner-city life to propel him into a life of drug abuse? Poor. Not famous. His life couldn’t be more different than those of Ledger or Renfro, and yet, a week from today, Ledger’s death will still be the focus of articles around the world. Hollback’s will be the focus of no future articles, and even on the off-chance that one is written, it will most likely be published only local to Baltimore.

So Heath Ledger is dead. Sure hope they finished filming The Dark Knight.

Maybe I’m Alone On This Stupid


I was reading The Baltimore Sun today at work when I came across this article, and the above photo and caption, which I found highly hilarious. She, apparently, is so proud of her great-grandparents’ fight that she waited nearly two decades to start voting.

Don’t get me wrong: I think it’s great that people who’ve never voted before are feeling like their voice might matter, and that they might find reflected among the presidential-nominee nominees someone who reminds them enough of themselves that they’re motivated to wake up and start pay attention.

I just find her statement hilarious. That’s all.

EDIT: This is what I get for only reading the caption, and not the article: “Carmen Mister, 37, of Columbia had moved from Randallstown in May, but didn’t want to miss the chance to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat from Illinois.” Well, now, that does make more sense.

Voting Leanings

Here’s how I’m leaning:

Obama > Hillary
Obama > McCain
McCain > Hillary
Hillary > Romney, Huckabee, etc.

I think John McCain might be the most balanced of all the candidates (of both parties). He’s got political experience, he’s a maverick, he’s a war-hero, he’s respected on both sides of the aisles. Also, I like what he says about Iraq: we broke it, we bought it. I think it’ll cost him the election, in the end, but I do believe this country has a responsibility to the people of Iraq, and that leaving the country too soon will be a mistake.

While I like some of Ron Paul’s libertarian policies, his isolationist beliefs trouble me, and in addition, I don’t know what to believe about the racist publications put out in his name. While I want to believe his explanation — that they were ghost-written published using his name without his permission — I don’t understand why a politician of all people wouldn’t have taken action against them as soon as he found out his name was attached to them.

Mike Huckabee scares the shit out of me. Rewriting the constitution so that we can become a theocracy? Let’s all chant: “Hell No Huckabee!” Let’s hope history repeats itself: McCain won South Carolina, and the Republicans who’ve won that state’s primary since 1980 have won their party’s nomination.

I don’t get Mitt Romney’s appeal, except that of the field of Republican candidates, he’s the one who looks most like Mark Trail.

Rudy Giuliani, I think, needs to read the writing on the wall. His entire campaign seems to be run on September 11th, 2001. I don’t think anyone wants four years of Rudy throwing that in our faces. “I’m keeping you safe! 9/11, bitches!” Same with Fred Thompson. I think he believed all the hype about himself prior to his entry. Both Fred & Rudy seem surprised that they actually have to campaign.

All John Edwards has anymore is bitching. Someone on CNN called him a “professional Presidential candidate”, and it doesn’t seem like he’s been a very successful one. If Edwards doesn’t drop out after Super Tuesday — especially if he does as well as he has been lately (and I’m using “well” loosely) — then he’s too proud to know when to quit. I don’t know why Dennis Kucinich is still in the race. Maybe to show off his hot wife?

I’m not too fond of Hillary Clinton. Electioneering and bitching in Nevada aside, my opinions started to turn from her when her post-caucus Iowa speech came across as “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the Hillanator! Vote for me!” She seems more than a little perturbed that in an election year she thought would be historic for having the first woman as a mainstream candidate with a very real chance at the Executive, the nomination cycle started with her getting her booty kicked by the first black man as a mainstream candidate with a very real chance at the Executive.

This is a great year to be an armchair political junky. I’m taking Super Tuesday off from work and I’m planning on keeping the boob-tube tuned to CNN, with a bowl of popcorn in my lap, and a tall frosty glass of milk on the sidetable.


I ran a delivery up north of the Indy Saturday night. Wasn’t a busy night, but it was steady until about 10:30, so I was appreciative for that. I get to this person’s house and knock on the door. There’s no answer, so after thirty seconds of waiting, I ring the doorbell. No answer. Now I knock AND ring the doorbell. No answer. It’s a not gigantic townhouse. How does this person not know I’m here?

I take out my cellphone and dial the number on the delivery slip.

“Hello?” an old crone answers.

“Hi! Did you order a pizza from the Indy? I’m the driver, and I’m here.”

Pause. I’m thinking I misread the number on the box and this woman is about to hang up on me. “What do you mean you’re here?” Her questioning tone turns hostile. “I was told forty minutes for delivery! I don’t want no goddamn raw pizza!”

Okay: this is a new one, I’m getting yelled at for being faster than the quoted time. “No, that’s a delivery estimate. I got back to the store faster than the inside help estimated. It’s fully cooked.” Seriously, it takes like five or six minutes to bake a pizza, depending on the oven’s two Ts: temperature and temperment.

“I’ll be right there,” like she’s doing me a gigantic favor.

About an eternity later, she opens the door. “It’s hot, right? It’s hot?”

“Fresh from the oven!” I say, putting a jolly expression on my face. Putting? Forcing. I don’t add: “It was hotter five minutes ago when I pulled up here, lady, but you seem to have a problem opening your fucking door.”

She takes the pizza and hands me some cash (about a $3 tip, not bad, not great) and as I back away from her townhouse, I can see her in her kitchen examining the pizza for any sign of undercookedness. She didn’t call back to the store, so I assume the pie met her rigerous standards of cooking. Rob got very indigent with me when I related the story to him: “I told her forty minutes!”

“I know! She was upset because I was early!”

“Who gets upset because they get their pizza faster?”

“Apparently, she does!”

So, that’s a lesson to me. Next time, lady, your pie’ll be forty+ minutes to your door.

7 Harry Potter Books = 8 Harry Potter Movies

The Powers That Be have decreed: Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows shall be split into two movies. This, by the way, had been the original plan for Goblet of Fire, until Alfonso Cuarón talked TPTB out of it. Meanwhile, I’m laughing at this quote from the article:

The books got progressively longer – the first, the Philosopher’s Stone, had 223 pages while Deathly Hallows has 776 – and fans have complained chunks of later novels have been left out of films.

Yeah, and Order of the Phoenix has 870 pages (here’s an oddity: the UK version, according to Wikipedia, has 766 … smaller font?), the movie was the shortest to date, and the adaptation was, by far, the best of the series.

But, hey, I’m really not complaining, especially since I give much credit for OotP’s success to the screenwriter, one-time Potter scribe Michael Goldenberg, who was replaced by the returning Steve Kloves (so I’m expecting Half Blood Prince to be about on the same level as Goblet of Fire … but I’m hoping to be surprised!)