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Well, it's about time to poke this particular ol' journal and call an end to the Dragon here. So, this is going to be the final post over here at One Man Standing...
but this isn't a bad thing! Oh, no - I'm moving my idiocy (and now, with more regular updating!) over to standing_dragon. Come by and sit a spell, and check out the new format, with the clean fresh springtime scent!
I needed a change, is all -a new way of doing things and a fresh start. While this journal's going to stay up here for as long as I can imagine it sticking about, there won't be anything new. The new journal's got an actual format and an update schedule - so there. Come on by, and - last one out? Turn off the light, wouldja?
AKA Shannon J. Lane
"One small.. oh, who we kidding. I just pissed in my space suit." - Mel Brooks
I honestly believe that I must have less and less to say as the days go on; that or I'm simply lazy. Either explination serves to explain a certain endemic lack of updating.
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Thanksgiving, oh-ye-day-of-Turkey, was positively fantastic this year, which is to say that the holiday that normally comes with its own special measure of hatred didn't live up to deserving it. My parents were great, my grandmother left me alone, the Lady had a great time (and a successful dinner party), and there was so much turkey we singlehandedly kept a turkey farm in business this year. Maybe I'm growing older and mellowing, but this turned out to be a great long, long weekend.
Now, though, it's back to the grind and eager anticipation of the christmas party pending on the 12th and yet more turkey on the 13th. It will be a busy month, what with the rapid approach of Christmas and the dawning of a new year. All is good, let me tell ya.
And if you don't believe me, you've no choice really. You must obey the suit.
Man. After this, I suddenly find myself wishing I knew Japanese.
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or.. uh.. maybe not.
Let me .. fix your mind with this, and maybe make up for that thing up there. Mm? Or not. but it's funny...
First, start by taking a peek over at the add you'll find here. Then, let me just ask a few questions:
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1) Do honda civics /really/ go fast enough to make a "whale-tail" useful?
2) Why on earth would someone put blue road lights under what is, essentially, a /STATION WAGON?/
3) How many of these guys spent more on custom bits than they did on the car itself?
4) How many civics pictured here with the flames and the big wheels and the spoilers can actually do 0-60 in less than eight seconds?
And thus, the phenominon of "ricing" hits a new low, whereby style and fashion completely replace any semblance of substance. And that's just why it amuses me so much - I'm one of those people who'd rather have a battered 1972 Barracuda Mach 1 with the 454 small block and a dual-port blower than a absolutely gorgeous 1995 Civic with blue lights mounted in the wheel wells and a big ol' spoiler that's about as pointless as Al Gore running for president next time around.
It's the age-old choice - style or substance? Kinda makes me wonder what they're compensatin' for. Or, maybe, they have it right - after all, an impressive looking car gets noticed, right?
Wouldn't life be absolutely fantastic if we knew who the heroes and villans were?
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I mean, wouldn't it be grand? Oh, I'm a hero? Great! That means I get to Save The Girl, and Live Happily Ever After, and all of that. Maybe I'd even get a list of villans for me, personally, to go up against - rivals to make my life story that much more interesting. Or.. maybe I'd be a villan myself. You know, Rule The Masses With an Iron Fist or Amass Huge Wealth With an Eye Towards Taking Over the World. I'm not sure which would be more fun - defending the people righteously or having the power to snuff out their lives with a nod to my Trusted Leftenant - but living in a four-color world would definitely have its advantages.
We'd never have to go to the bathroom, for one. Or reload. Or obey the laws of physics.
Other than perfecting your evil laugh, though, or practicing stances whereby the wind can blow your hair about heroically, I don't see that sort of thing ever really happening. In a world with shades of grey, nobody's really anything as easily labelled as our four-color counterparts. For every person we see as a villan, someone else sees them as a hero. For ever person we view as inconsequential, someone else steps up and vents as to their utter importance and elevated status. Perhaps all of these definitions are even true. Thing is, though, sticking people into narrow little boxes so that they /are/ heroes and villans actually sells them short. Looking at anyone and seeing less than all that they are is ignoring all that they can be.
Sure, it's not easy - but what that is worthwhile is? Yes, I know there are poisonous people, too, and I know that there are those who simply make our teeth ache. No one says we have to like everybody. Recognizing, however, that they are more than simple pasteboard cutouts conforming to our expectations - /that/ is what's important.
I want to take a second to talk about something that's become more and more a factor in my life as I've gotten older. I really want to type - er.. say.. er.. whatever - a few words about the idea of Control.
It's a funny thing, really. We spend our childhood dreaming of being in control of our own destiny: being able to stay up as late as we want, eat what we want, go where we want, talk to who we want. As we get older, we discover that doing those things comes with signifigant consequences: being useless at work, being fat, being lost, and worse. Despite our sudden maturity, we really have no more control than we did when we were five. The consequences may not be immediate, as they were then, but they're no less immutable, and perhaps more permanant.
The same goes for just about everything else, really. The more power we have, the less actual 'control' we have over wielding that power. Consequences lurk around every corner for every decision we make - the more momentous the decision, the more momentous the consequences. Control in our own lives becomes a function of choosing between effects our decisions have on ourselves and others. Worse, the more we fight to maintain that control, the harder it becomes to keep it as life's random events pop in and make mincemeat of our plans and break our aspirations. Rigid life isn't life at all - it's a cheap tinkertoy set that keeps getting knocked over by a five year old when you're not looking.
Of course, Lao Tzu had something to say about it:
is not about rules.
If it is only rules, it is dust, and death, and broken.
Life grows, like a tree
and cries like the sky
and shines like the sun -
but we can only kill trees,
avoid the rain -
and stand in the shade.
Ironically, you gain the most control over your destiny when you let it come to you, and simply live with the flow of your life. This doesn't mean your choices lack consequence, rather, your choices become obvious and easy, and the consequences just an expected part of existance. Life without effort, life with joy, life without worries. A great paradox - give up trying to control everything, and you suddenly will.
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I'm sitting here at work finding myself completely unable to muster enthusiasm for the jewelery I'm supposed to be speccing out. It's not that it's at all hard work - believe me, hard work is stuff like road construction* or house painting**, not sitting at a computer clicking your mouse for eight hours. Even so, I simply can't get excited about paging through another hundred pages of overpriced diamond solitaires and personalizeable necklaces that spell out people's names in two-inch-high diamondcut gold glory. Oh, and don't forget the cheap, Japaneese movement watches that someone, somewhere thinks are high-quality enough to sell as 'dress' watches to the unsuspecting public†.
In the midst of all of that though, I'm more interested in listening to the office ranting about the new Matrix flick and Cindi Lauper singing "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." For some reason, that song always brings up visions of The Goonies and a child actor screeching "Truffle Shuffle! Truffle Shuffle!", and That's Not a Bad Thing, Thank You.
Now, I'm going to have to take a moment to talk about the whole "Dissapointment in the Matrix" thing - and no, I haven't seen it. I do, however, have to ask the question, "What, you were expecting something different?" Sure, I liked - nay, loved - the first Matrix movie. Enjoyed the second but started to see more than a few holes in what should have been a very elegantly-crafted flick. Given how hollywood handles potentially interesting movie franchises (X-Men excluded, but all of the Bond flicks are definitely not created equal, and y'all have seen Star Trek, and /worse/ - Star Wars), did you people honestly expect anything more than a wholly dissatisfying movie that couldn't even keep up with its own philosophy? Internal logic? Hard pseudo-science? Filling in the holes?
Hollywood knows not these things.
I haven't seen it yet, but all I've expected since day one was a huge action fest that attempts to tie up a few loose ends. Sure, I expected a teeny bit more depth than people are claiming exists, but my favorite scene in the second one was the discussion with the Architect, so I held out hope. If you truly expected depth out of Keanu Reeves and the Wachowski Brothers in a third film of an action series, however, I've got a bridge for sale in Arizona you may be interested in.††
That said, however, I'm going to reserve a lot of judgement until after I've seen it myself. I remember Blair Witch too, you know, where for three weeks, when everyone thought it was 'real', people were admitting to being completely creeped out, absolutely terrified, and worse - and how, the day after the creators made /sure/ everyone knew it was false, suddenly people weren't "scared at all" and thought the camera work was stupid and the acting atrocious. There's at least a slim chance that the movie I expect is nothing more than an excuse to fly around on wires and beat people up may actually have something redeeming in it that people haven't noticed/won't see simply because it wasn't what they hoped it would be.
That's the danger of ending a series. We'll see. I doubt it, though.
On more personal notes - Yes, I'm alive and well. Suekat, I keep missing your calls. Work will even out soon enough, I'm sure. Uh... that's about it, really. Philosophically speaking... well, we'll talk about that tomorrow.
Y'all be good, and enjoy the Desert of the Real. Woah.
* - when you're not standing around drinking coffee or laughing at the people driving by. And yes, they do do that - I used to work on the road-lines. Sucked, but definitely an instructive experience.
** - yes, I know it's not /that/ bad. I hate doing it, though. On the outside, anyway.
† - For you guys that don't know the reason for my scorn: Watches' innards are called 'movements'. Where the innards come from is usually a good indication of quality, Swiss and German being best, Japaneese and Chineese being worst. American movements are somewhere near the top end of the middle. So paying $300 for a japaneese-movement watch is like paying $25,000 for a Yugo.
†† - complete with oceanside views! No, really! But I'm not being overharsh - but we've seen what happens to good ideas when you stretch them out to three movies. Historically, it's difficult for Hollywood to produce multi-part epics that actually maintain their value all the way through. Back to the Future, Indy Jones...most of th Bond flicks.. but what else? Seriously.
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So there I am, slammed at work as per usual, these days, and working on speccing out a big list of toys. "What's that?", you ask, I'm sure, "toys? And this has you thinking?"
Anyroad, I'm looking at all these girly toys, and I notice a trend that, for some reason, vaguely disturbs me. Here - let me show you what I mean:
The description for a Bratz™ Doll:
"It's time to experience the winter season, Bratz-style. The girls with a passion for fashion don't need to see a thermometer to know that they look cool. Join the Winter Wonderland Bratz as they bundle up for a stylin' snowy season. Each doll comes with more than 15 accessories and the trendiest winter fashions ever."
Or how about this, for a Barbie™?
"Take an extended weekend trip with Barbie. She's got all the clothes and accessories she needs to enjoy some well-deserved R&R. Includes Barbie doll, three colorful outfits, four pairs of shoes, two pairs of sunglasses, two purses, two shopping bags, and more!"
There's more, but you see the point, I hope. Maybe it's just me - but are all
the 'girl' toys* in the same vein? Everything seems to be about shopping, fashion, or taking glamourous tropical vacations where Ken sleeps around on Barbie with Skipper, or something. I never gave much credence to the whole 'toys send a message to our kids' thing before, but maybe there's something to it when even the most violent 'guy' toys encourage the kid to be a champion of good against evil, defending the right, while most of the 'girl' toys concentrate on shopping, what kind of clothes you wear, and babies. Think about it - GI Joe has you taking on the role of the Joes against the evil terrorists of Cobra - sure, you blow stuff up, but you're supposed to recognize the good guys and the bad guys, and whip out an imagination that sets them into conflict**. Masters of the Universe was even better - what with the wierd powers and impossible muscles, but the most definite demarcation of good guy/bad guy in toydom. There's always that dichotomy in the 'violent' action figures, always a sort of motivation to pick the good guy. Even guy 'non violent' toys - stuff like chemistry sets and telescopes - always encouraged exploration and discovery***. Magic kits, Harry Potter.. if it's marketed towards guys, there's always some sort of 'go and find out' or 'go out and fix' involved.
The stuff girls are encouraged to play with? Vapid representations of everything we really hate about our own society, Shopahaulics, superficiality, secondary gender roles, and the like, clog the store shelves and seem exclusively marketed towards girls.
Tell me ladies - how did /you/ play with /your/ toys? Did the marketing actually get to you, or were your Barbies tomboys with shaved heads kicking Ken's anatomically-incorrect rear around the playground? Is the marketing behind the times... or are we actually buying in?
* - Look - there's no such thing as 'girl' or 'guy' toys. Let jane play with GI Joe and Eddie play with Barbie, and I couldn't care less; however, you and I both know that the people who /make/ this plastic stuff definitely market their toys on gender lines. er.. and no offense ladies, but your toys are /boring/.
** - and yes, being the villan is fun. Talking like Cobra Commander is fun. Whining like Skeletor is fun. Nyah.
***- Again, these aren't just for guys - but isn't it suspicious who's always playing with 'em in the commercials? It's like the toy marketers assume that girls only want to play with baby dolls and fashion dress-ups, maybe with fake make-up and hair sparklies, and /not/ check out stars or toy with elements.
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