Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sorry, I fell off the wagon for a bit there, just like Lilo.

So, LOST finally starts tonight. I waited eight months for my most favorite of TV shows to start to almost answer my questions. I hate that I fell victim to such a predictably stupid formula, but I love the rewards that it brings towards the end of the season. I have never really been obsessive over a TV show before, I can usually show some decent restraint over missing an episode of, say, South Park. But LOST is the ultimate water cooler TV show, everyone always buzzes about what happened the last 5 minutes of a show that lasts roughly 42 (maybe closer to 90 with the season premier, but whose counting?). So far, every friend that I have forced to watch the first season has fallen victim to the same Burmese tiger trap. They’re hooked.

I can remember when I let the entire first season pass me by, as it was airing on ABC. I was doing things, what, I’m not sure, but it could not have added up to much as I cannot remember it. Chances are that I spent a great deal of time with my three friends, Bud, Coolers and Miller: The occasional visit to uncle keystone when the funds were low, maybe the debate of slumming it with grandpa natty or Milwaukee, or when times were good, my European cousin Heine. Either way, I missed the entire first season. The girl I was dating at the time would always set her watch to it, and I mocked her mercilessly for it. It seems only fitting that I would become ensnared, no?

My roommate, Trevor, had borrowed the first season box set from a friend and had planned on watching it, but never got around to it. In Mesa house, college was not really a priority. There was a good week where I was not feeling up to snuff (due to heavy drinking the previous night, each subsequent day) and decided it best not to go to school. Rather I would stay home, booze, and pop in a DVD. Boredom and curiosity got the best of me and I picked up the box set to LOST, season 1. I popped in the DVD, unscrewed my 40, sat in Alecia’s father’s old brown chair and began what would eventually become an epic journey. The first episode did not hook me, but it did have me thinking. What a cool concept for a show, they could have gone all Lord of the Flies with this thing, but instead they focus on how all the people are connected (kinda like Magnolia, except Tom Cruise is not on the island). As the season progressed I watched each episode back to back, my record being two discs in one day. I foolishly thought I would get answers, but instead the questions kept coming.

Season two I followed on TV, watching each and every week at the appointed time. I am pretty sure I only missed two or three episodes, but they were crucial because the entire time I wanted to know what the fuck that little button did. How could a button replace all the characters and their drama? This is probably the part where I started telling/raving to my friends about how great LOST was. This is also the season where my favorite character(s) were introduced, Desmond and Echo. I did not know Desmond was my favorite character at the time, but I really digged his Scottish accent. Soon, my friends started to tune in, one even bought the first season and I agreed to watch the bulk of the episodes with him. I caught new things, subtle hints that the producers are so keen on inserting. It enriched my second season of LOST, which had an amazing ending: The button was not pushed in time!

I would have to wait about 6 months to find out what happened, but this time I was not joking around with my LOST viewing for season 3. I had a Tivo, and I was not going to miss another episode. The first grouping of episodes focused on others, and then briefly took the time to kill one of my favorites (rest in peace eacho’s character, you were awesome and had one of the most creative characters in recent television history) before going away for two months. Then the latter part of season three came and kicked the show into high gear. Now, it seemed, there was a sense of purpose for the show. All the conflicts so far, all the drama, really was just a giant exposition for what is about to happen tonight.

And tonight, when I should be sitting comfortably in my house, waiting for the season premier, I will be working at the bar! Dammit! I will have to wait till tomorrow to download the episode off of itunes in the morning. I will have to show restraint not to look at the episode synopsis, not to look into what might have happened and what new questions are being asked. It feels like an impossible task, but one that I will have to attempt. I am sorry LOST, I thought I was a good fan.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What do you do with a communications degree from ASU? Well today I programmed a cow tour into our computer system. A means to an end I guess. I’ll never be rich and successful with my current job, but I just may be able to scrape together a simple life here, in time. As long as my glass is filled and my friends are constant then I find myself asking for very little these days.

Does anyone remember the AT&T of old? Remember how comforting it was to pick up your receiver and hear a dial tone that sounded superior to all the other dial tones? It was as if their dial tone was a note higher, a note brighter than the rest. The golden age that AT&T saw came crashing down with the advent of cell phones. In order to right a sinking ship, AT&T sold their wireless contracts to Cingular, who in turn sunk that ship, salvaged it and sold it for scrap back to AT&T. Like the mighty Colossus of Rhodes, this scrap was melted down into lesser things and distributed throughout the world. An echo of greatness is all the remains of the giant.

This brief lesson in history should hopefully shed some light onto my current cell phone situation. Here in Steamboat, AT&T does not offer service. We are too remote for them to worry about us. Rather than view Steamboat as the largest town in northwest Colorado that has a major tourist population from December through April, AT&T views us as an unviable market. This translates into me having to “borrow” time off of other company’s towers and satellites in order to place a call. I can call and send messages to people, that’s it. Forget that my phone can jump on the internet and see what is happening in the world. Don’t pretend like my phone has a camera that I can take pictures with and send to my friends. My phone, despite all of its wonderful gadgetry, has been reduced to my first cell phone, the Nokia 3395. Don’t pretend for one minute that this was not one of your first cell phones, too. If you were born in the mid-to-early 80’s then you KNOW this phone.

Don’t get me wrong. That Nokia was probably the best phone I ever had. Probably you, too. It was a tank. Superior reception. Zero dropped calls. Never broke when dropped. The problem is that my new cell phone was not built like that Nokia, so it is like that Nokia in functionality without being that Nokia in dependability. Boo for me.

I called AT&T to see if I could negotiate with them on how to end my contract. Unlike them, Verizon has the foresight to see Steamboat as a land of opportunity, hence them being the only major national cell phone service provider in town. The grass is greener on the Verizon side, and I want in. There is a policy in place that states that if I move to an area in which AT&T does not offer service I can cancel with no obligation. This would be awesome, except for the fact that I got my cell phone forever ago and because of this fact alone, my mother is the account holder with me listed as the primary user. My mother would need to live here, too, for me to cancel with no obligation. Much to my dismay, AT&T informed me that the only way I could end my contract with them (forget the five years of being a loyal customer) was to pay a $175 early termination fee. Thanks guys. Hearing my displeasure, the operator offered me another option. I could transfer the line to myself for a small fee ($18 to be exact), put a $400 deposit down and then cancel the line. I could then be eligible (not guaranteed) to receive my deposit back in several months. Thanks? The operator actually thought she was helping me with this option. Sigh. In the end I will more than likely cave and pay the $175, assured that I never have to deal with AT&T and their customer service ever again. In retrospect, $175 does seem like a small price to pay for that.

The issue will have to wait regardless. I have a ski race today, my first ever, wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Right before I leave work, I typically check the news one last time just to make sure I have my fingers on the pulse of America. The usual fare is economic worries, China trying to kill our children with lead-based toys or what’s current in Britney Spears life. Imagine my surprise when I log on to and see the headline, “Heath Ledger dead at 28”. It’s one of those headlines where you just kind of stare at it and re-read it 5-10 times before the message finally sinks in. It’s not an emotional feeling when you read it, rather one of bewilderment.

Now this may be insincere but after I finally understood what I was reading my thoughts focused on one thing, does this mean the Dark Knight won’t be released as promised (Heath Ledger was the Joker)? Batman Begins is arguably one of the best superhero movies to have been produced and now there’s a chance of a ^more^ delayed sequel? Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the guy dying, but a great sequel dying is equally as tragic. I quickly asked the guy behind me in my office what his thoughts were and to my relief he told me that they had already finished filming and were in editing currently. After a huge sigh of relief I confessed my immediate thoughts to him only to be met with laughter and the admittance that he, too, thought that at first. Reassured and no longer in panic mode I decided it was time to read the article and get past the headline.

I know people have a tendency to think the best of people, but an overdose on sleeping pills? I don’t think so. Who overdoses on sleeping pills accidentally? There are clear instructions on every bottle; barring some kind of allergic reaction or genetic disposition to the chemicals contained within how could one accidentally overdose on them?

“I haven’t been sleeping well at all lately, so I am going to take 20 pills, that’ll bring some Z’s!”

Really? Really?! Get a clue people, this was intentional. It doesn’t take a forensic scientist to tell you that. That being said, it could be an interesting episode idea for a Law and Order episode, where a prominent young actor “accidentally” overdoses on sleeping pills only to be discovered towards the end of the episode that it was the jealous friend, with less success, who poisoned him out of spite. Sam Waterston could crack him in no time. Actually, I think there was a Law and Order episode like this, probably two.

I won’t speculate as to why he did it, it’s not that important. No one can change what happened and for whatever reason this man thought the world best without him. Our celebrity obsessed culture should look upon this as a lesson to reach out to those who may put up a fa├žade of happiness, but probably won’t. The real irony is that people will keep popping pills to prevent themselves from feeling.

This story did sadden me, but for a different reason than most. When I watch the Oscars this year and look upon all the faces of actors we lost in 2007, one will not be a surprise. I’ll see Heath ledger’s face (hopefully not from the Patriot) and think what surprise could have been mine, but with a story this big there’s no way that was ever going to happen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I think I have been to Texas once. I think it was around thanksgiving and I think I was in El Paso, but I cannot say that with any certainty. I do remember not liking neither Texas, nor the drive it took to get there. From that day forward my prejudice towards Texas has grown, albeit at a slow rate. Something about having so much pride in a state unnerves me. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Oregon, where we are happy to be left alone in the rain. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Arizona, where we are happy to borrow Kokopellis and call it culture. Maybe I don’t like Texas because when Texans travel they travel in packs, like locusts. They swarm and consume everything that is beautiful leaving you asking how this could have happened.

Case in point: Last night at the bar the Texans were in full force. Don’t ask me how all of them knew one another, but they did. Don’t wonder why they all wear cowboy hats. Definitely don’t ask me why they need to wear designer cowboy boots when the roads are full of ice. DO ask me why one Texan figures it would be a good idea to bring his acoustic guitar into a bar featuring live, paid-for, music and host a sing along.

Everyone knows that guy that has to bring out his acoustic guitar during a party and start plucking some strings (usually detuned E’s and F’s because they are different and sound “pretty”), but this guy took it to a new extreme. Personally, I blame his friends who have not shamed him enough by now. Due to their lack of action, this guitar-touting, toilet of a person now has the confidence to carry his guitar and setup shop wherever he pleases. I also blame women, who swoon over the simplest of cords and the twangiest of voices because some guy can do something foolish and show his sensitive side. The ultimate irony is a rough and tough cowboy who wears his heart on his sleeve right? His one saving grace was that I did not hear him play a rendition of a pro-Iraq war melody, but I assume he is working on one.

I wouldn’t take issue with the guy if he played music for music’s sake, but he doesn’t. He uses his guitar like a phallace with strings and bastardizes the instrument. It’s like date rape without the drug.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I heard this rumor once, “If you don’t use it you will lose it.” I very seldom use my pinky toe for things other than tickling, but it seems to still be there.

While not credible, this rumor is frightening when thought about and so for that very reason I am going to start writing, everyday, at least once a day…call it a very late, very unoriginal new year’s resolution. I am taking the exercise approach to it. At first it will be painful, tedious and boring…slowly, presumably around week three, this will become habit and my gains will grow faster than my lethargy. One of my co-workers had a much better, more simple new year’s resolution, to eat more turnovers. I like this idea because it is rewarding and easy to accomplish. The following morning after he told me about his resolution I made it a point to get an apple turnover for breakfast and let me tell you something, he is going to have great success with his resolution; it’s like pie for breakfast! Who doesn’t like a nice warm pie?!

A nice warm anything would be nice right now. The recent cold snap that has struck most of the U.S. has not ignored poor little Steamboat Springs. It’s a balmy 16 outside currently, but before that the high was 8 with a low of -16. Being from Arizona I was not prepared at all for what -16 feels like. When you open the door the cold air assaults you with blitzkrieg efficiency. The nostrils are the first to go, your first breath causes them to run and subsequently freeze. As the air travels through your body your lungs begin to hurt and a cough is almost guaranteed. Next the fingers begin to burn about 20 seconds into the ordeal with numbing sensation after about a minute.

This is the only reason people should have a remote start for their car. In Arizona, if you have a remote start for your car you are a tool. Here, you are a god among lesser mortals because it saves you 5 to 10 minutes of character-building agony. There is no finer feeling then stealing away into your warm car on a frigid winter’s day. To accomplish this I have to start my car 15 minutes prior to when I want to leave. As it stands, I use a Frisbee to scrape my windows clean because I broke my ice scrapper on a frozen floor mat that I thought would shed its ice if beaten. I was wrong. I also thought the snow trapped inside my car would melt sometime, but its presence continues to defy me. Same can be said for my wheel wells, which have less that a centimeter of clearance before a solid block of ice is caressed by my big, black, size 14 (standard for Honda Civics) tires. Everyone has advised me to take my car to a carwash and remove said ice, but I am kind of interested to see if my car can last longer than the ice does. I thought I was halfway through winter, but apparently I have to wait till the end of January before I can say that. It’s a good thing I love snowboarding as much as I do. With all the cons that come with this crappy weather, my one pro far outweighs all those annoyances.

Spirits are high and constantly consumed, despite all the low temperatures. To make ends meet and put a little extra coin in my stretched pocket I have taken to bussing at a local bar. Not the most glamorous, best paying job in the market, but they let me drink while I pickup/deal with people’s trash, something I typically had to do prior to my other restaurant jobs. Substance abuse is key in the service/hospitality industry. I mostly keep to myself, don’t say to much, sip on my Sam Adam’s and take a few Jameson space-filler-shots and before I know it my shift is over and my bar tab is around 12 bucks. It's like going out without going out and not being some douchey promoter. I can still look myself in the mirror at the end of the night and know I have not sold my soul. There’s a fine line between being pathetic and being a genius, so I like to think I am both. Part of being a genius is being unkempt, so I am growing my hair, for how long I cannot say. I’ll stop somewhere before reaching the edge of my hair’s universe. I am hoping the result is not in parallel to the real universe, where eventually the mass will become so great that it collapses in upon itself destroying everything, i.e. going bald. I’ll need a Baron Davis beard fast if that happens.