This weekend I learned how to put snow chains on my car tires. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I had to pay someone else to put them on my rental car. I'm so cheap, I avoid valet parking because I don't want to tip the valets a dollar, so paying thirty bucks for someone to put chains on my tires was like willingly participating in state-enforced highway robbery. But I watched the guy like a hawk, and should the ridiculously unlikely events of The Day After Tomorrow ever come to pass, I'll be ready!

Tahoe In, Tahoe Out

The drive into Tahoe was easily accomplished. There wasn't any snow on the ground then. No, California likes to make sure it has you in its mitts before it tries to screw you over. The whole reason that I was in South Lake Tahoe in the first place was for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I once swore that I would never again A) return to California or B) drive in the snow, both of which I violated for the wedding. If I've never mentioned it before, let me stress my disapproval of snow here now: it sucks. It's cold, it's wet, and it makes travel impossible. Sure, it looks pretty, but like most pretty things, it's just not worth the hassle. Some way, some how, I'll get Jason back for this.

If you've got to get married, you can't pick better scenery

Despite eating my own words (which, unfortunately, I've done more times than I can count), it was an otherwise eventful weekend for me. I gambled in a casino for the first time (and lost my seed money, all 50ยข). I had a Coca-Cola Slurpee made from fresh, real snow (better than you can imagine). I attended an informal bachelor party with a table full of lawyers and teachers (but no strippers. It was commented that no stripper was hired because one couldn't be found who knew how to play chess). And, of course, I got to play in the deep, powdery snow with Chere. (Who goes to a wedding without a date?)

Chere loves snow

That's two weddings I've attended in three months on opposite sides of the country (Panama City, Florida and Lake Tahoe, Nevada), with another one coming up in May in New York City. Even though I don't care for the outdated and unnecessary concept of marriage, I do like free food and road trips. So it all works out in the end. Also I'm pretty sure it won't be snowing come May.

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When I watched A Charlie Brown Christmas as a child, the cartoon was already 20 years old, but the primary sponsor was usually McDonalds pushing Happy Meals to children. Now, 20 years later, most commercials that aired on ABC's seasonal broadcast were pitching cars to adults. I'm not sure what exactly that means or how significant it is, but I don't think I like it. (That's the safe position for me, because I don't like much of anything.)

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Yesterday ESPN.com ran the following headline:

Couples takes six holes in Skins Game

Now that's a sporting event that I'd like to see!

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Today was Thanksgiving, one of the few secular "holy days" on the American calendar during the so-called "holiday season." I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends (and anyone else who visits wriphe.com, for that matter) for the enjoyment and support that you provide throughout the year. Though I am naturally an argumentative, curmudgeonly fellow, I do recognize and appreciate your contribution to my life. Thank you.

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For the past few weeks, I've been working off-and-on (more "off" than "on," really) on some minor repairs to my mother's house. The goal was to complete some painting & cleaning before winter set in. Note below the new casing around her front door that I built and painted. On the surrounding brick, you can still see the paint outline of the old, rotten door casing that I removed. (Lest you think I'm a one-trick pony, I also repaired and painted the door and polished the brass door fixtures. Oh, yeah.)

Door and Casing by Walter

So you see, I'm like a super-hero: by day, I'm an average handy-man and carpenter. By night, I'm a computer web designer and artist. Of course, I generally try to keep my dual identity a secret to protect my friends and loved-ones, but try as I might, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep my two roles separate. Don't tell anyone, but I'm slightly concerned that I'm becoming Schneider from One Day At A Time.

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I've been trying to determine if I want to spend the cash to get my hands on Justice League Heroes for the PS2. One of my real questions has been, "is Batman any fun to play?"

IGN.com says, "Sadly, the most popular DC character, Batman, is easily the most useless and joyless character you can select. Even Aquaman is more fun to play." Aquaman is more fun than Batman? I think that answers my question. Aquaman is like the guy who stands alone in the corner at the party while everyone else is wondering who invited that loser. Though I'd hesitate to call Batman the life of the party, Aquaman shouldn't even have been on the guest list.

Apparently the game forces you to play certain characters in certain levels. What's the point of having Batman as an available character if you're going to spend a bunch of time in space? What good is Batman in space? I don't think you can jam enough equipment into a utility belt to really make a difference against the vacuum of freezing, airless space. (Which makes me wonder: is there an underwater level where I'll be forced to play Aquaman? Ugh.)

Adventures of Superman 488

Now, I'm sure that Guy Gardner & Captain Marvel can survive in space. I'm also sure that they'd be really cool characters in a video game. I'm also, also sure that I'm going to be very, very old before that ever happens.

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Sometimes posting to a blog is like being in a food fight: throw enough pie and someone's GOT to get hit in the face. (This column is going Larry King style, baby!)

  • Bravo Channel is showing both The Princess Bride and Back to the Future today. Could those be two of the best movies ever made? I say yes!
  • Huge underdog University of Georgia today beat (nay, CRUSHED!) the mighty Auburn Tigers, destroying any hopes Auburn had of running for the national title. Go Dawgs!
  • Television advertising execs just don't understand: the current Bellsouth ads use the song "Stuck In The Middle With You" to promote that product. The song was written about sitting between recording executives. Can telecom execs be that different?
  • Of all the cars I've ever owned/driven, the one I miss most is a 1985 Ford Crown Victoria LTD Country Squire Station Wagon.
  • Recent studies say that happy people are sick less often than people who are optimistic or active. That means that a cynical asshole like me will likely outlive the rest of you bastards so long as I'm happy being a cynical asshole. Hooray for science!
  • Julia Roberts' single sexiest film role was as Tinkerbell in Hook. Does that say worse things about her or me?
  • The National Football League has a patent on confusion; it is simply impossible to tell who is any good from week to week. Some may call this parity or equality but I call it exciting. Chicago: undefeated. Dolphins: incompetent. Final score: Dolphins 31, Chicago 13. I say this, I sure look forward to December 31, when the Dolphins play the currently undefeated Colts.

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I just watched Schwarzenegger's movie Commando straight through for the first time. (I'd only caught the very end before.) I found it very amusing. I should have watched it before now. I had no idea that it had such a robust cast: In addition to the obvious Schwarzenegger, Rae Dawn Chong, and Alyssa Milano, the film featured Dan Hedaya (who looked afraid of the gun he was firing at the film's climax), Bill Duke (the world's blackest man), David Patrick Kelley ("Warriors, come out and play!"), Branscome Richmond (who is in almost every non-speaking role in the past 30 years where a Portuguese/Spanish/Mexican/Indian is getting his ass kicked and the director needs a good reaction shot but we all know him from Renegade), and Bill Paxton (as Bill Paxton; is there any other role for him?). I mean, damn.

Speaking of casting, when it comes time for Schwarzenegger's Col. John Matrix to kill everyone in sight, it's pretty clear that they weren't filming on location in Latin America. (Wait, is John Matrix even a real name? His daughter's name was Jenny Matrix? Could I just make a movie and call someone something really stupid like Ford Taurus and get away with it? At least "Action" Jackson and "Desolation" WIlliams were nicknames.) I think every extra was a white guy wearing a really bad Groucho mustache and fake sideburns made of felt. Perhaps the grooming habits enforced by Dan Hedaya's deposed dictator were the reason that he was overthrown in the first place. It can't be easy to fight a coup d'etat when you have to make sure that you aren't sweating off your spirit gum.

It would have been a MUCH better film if any attempt had been made to make Matrix's antagonist Bennett look a) strong, b) fearsome, or c) less like a butch fag. (Clearly, this is the character that South Park's Mr. Slave is based on.) Bennett's mustache is the worst looking thing in the movie after his leather pants and sleeveless chainmail shirt. As Matrix taunts him into a hand-to-hand knife duel, his face goes through some orgasmic contortions that I think are just a little bit uncomfortable to watch on a man dressed in fetish gear before a bodybuilder who has been oiled-up for a "straight" action scene. Then I'm suddenly supposed to believe that this flabby gay man has equal strength to manly-man Matrix, who I've watched break steel chains in his bare hands, lift a phone booth over his head, remove a bolted down car seat, and kill Bill Duke? Um, no.

It's also completely worth noting that this film was penned by Jeph Loeb, a comic book writer that I once respected. That is, until he teamed up with Jim Lee to produce one of the worst stories in the history of Batman only to wash it down with some of the worst stories in the history of Superman/Batman. >sigh<. Credits for the film bill Loeb as "Joseph Loeb III," the same writer who wrote Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf 2, which really means that I shouldn't have ever respected him as a comic book writer in the first place. Teen Wolf was the only movie that I was ever embarrassed for having watched. My skin still crawls thinking about it. Curse you, Michael J. Fox, for following up Back to the Future with that, that... thing!

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Today is the big day in America when approximately half of the voting population (which is only about half of the registered voters in America, which is in turn only about half of the population of America) will stand in lines to cast ballots for, well, someone. Personally, I believe that exactly whom doesn't much matter.

I think my main problem with the system is that politicians keep squabbling over the same inane trivialities (gay marriage, giant border fences) that are designed to deflect our attention from the countries bigger problems, namely corrupt politicians.

Now that's a platform!

I'm not saying I'll never vote again; I just need something worthwhile to get me off my ass. For example, if I was given the option of voting to kill Judd Winick, I'd be right there.

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What with an election coming up in a few days, I'm being bombarded by advertisements telling me how lousy all of my leaders are. Is this sort of negative, petty message, condoned by our collective social passive acceptance, really indicative of how Americans wish to interpret the world around us? My innate cynical response is, "yes, and we deserve it."

On a related note, I found the following panel in the Fantastic Four story "The Skrull Takes A Slave," originally published in issue #90 in 1969 while a "police action" was ongoing in Southeast Asia. I think it sums up a lot of what you see debated on CNN these days. (See? Comics can be topical, even prescient.)

How can you argue with a guy named Mr. Fantastic? If you like your messages well mixed, please note that the "savage"-ly interrogated Mole Man makes his escape just 3 pages later in that same issue once the powerful Thing stops paying attention. (Stan Lee always loved his morality in shades of gray.)

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To be continued...

 

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