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Doing Things Out of Sequence

It occurs to me that I should be posting here more often. Posting stupid crap. I mean, why not? It’s why I have this site, right? When I first acquired this domain and slaved away for a week to put this design up, I intended for the site to house my more random, spur-of-the-moment thoughts. For a while, it worked. I had something to post almost every day. Now…well, just thumb the calendar back a few months and notice how much I’ve been posting. Like, basically nothing. And the reason is because I’ve been feeling lately like I needed to come up with some nicely-written, sagely constructed piece of goddamn poetry before I could even think about starting an entry. Like I had to have a theme, and a complete thought, and wrap it up with juicy proverbial Nostradamic wackjobbery. But I’m sick of that! When an idea strikes, I want to just post it, not think about how to turn it into a newspaper article.

I’m too logically constructed for my own good, and my right brain just declared mutiny. A rousing chorus of “We’re not gonna take it” is echoing through the halls of my mind at this precise moment. I’m only writing this because my left brain can’t stop it, I assure you.

I’m listening to the old Quake II soundtrack right now. “Rage,” to be precise. The volume’s cranked up on my Klipsch satellites and this place is ROCKING. I even lined it out to my stereo system and let it join in on the fun. The people who share the other half of our duplex seem to have dropped off the face of the earth, been eaten by Species 8472, or joined a traveling circus. Either way, they have either not been home since Hurricane Frances, or simply don’t care that their garage-mounted lanterns are hanging ludicrously upside-down due to the windstorm. I prefer to side with the former theory, so, since my wife’s at work, I’m pumpin’ the bass. No, not the iron. It should be the iron. But that’s too much work. Bass it is. I’m a hedonist, maybe that’s it.

I seem to enjoy my writing the most when it’s this wacky, off-the-cuff, “What the hell are you talking about” kind of stuff, so I’m sure that one day I’ll look back on this update and it will bring a smile to my face. I want more of my posts to be like that. Hell, I want them all to be like that. Life’s too short for the straight-faced routine every day. I do enough of that from nine to five every day. Er, eight to six. Or six-thirty. Or whatever the current office climate requires. So why continue to bitchslap the Muse when I get home? Lord, what am I saying?

OH YEAH. Now “Kill Ratio” is on. I fucking love this track.

Spiders love my Trans Am. I do not love spiders. I walk out to the garage today to drive my lovely, adorable wife to work, and what do I see but an eight-legged freak climbing up the side of my mirror. OH HELL NO, YOU DO NOT INFEST THE CAR. When you love your car, but hate the thing that’s crawling on it, it’s difficult to use the restraint necessary to avoid damaging the paint when you’re swiping at the thing with a fricking pushbroom. But the spider met its end, and my mirror was no worse for wear. I dusted the car with one of those California Duster things, took the roofs off and went to town this evening. Both literally and figuratively.

What is it about seeing a Mustang in my mirror that suddenly triples the weight of my right foot? I’m beginning to doubt myself. Could I ever sleep with the enemy? I may need to buy a GTO…

Star Trek Voyager: Season Four is good. Damn good. Best season yet. “Scorpion” is one of the best episodes all series. That was my dinner entertainment tonight. I decided that this evening was so beautiful, why waste it on Enterprise? (Sorry, Quantum.) Indeed; I have not seen it so beautiful outside in months. It was cool, the wind was blowing, the sun was setting, and my black muscle car was on the prowl. The roads were full of classic cars, and little kids in their daddies’ old Camaros and Darts were staring at my ride and smiling like I should have been part of the fun. I love car culture in America. It’s not like this anywhere else. It can never be.

Finally got an idea of just how much money I saved myself on that 256 MB USB key I bought in Thailand. $37 US at Pantip Plaza in Bangkok, $54 for the same thing at Wal-Mart down the street. Woo-hoo. And I only had to travel 16,000 miles to get it. Seriously, I’m pleased.

Thailand? Thailand was awesome. The first couple of times I went there, I spent only a few days…everything seemed so foreign to me, it was strange and almost unnerving. It was different this time. I felt welcomed, almost at home even. Given time I could acclamate myself well. Several of my wife’s friends and family speak bits and pieces of english, and her younger sister makes great natual conversation, so I didn’t feel too isolated. There’s no end of things to do, places to eat, and stuff to buy…heh heh…and it was really cool to feel part of a big family. For generations now my lineage has been made of up small, close-knit families, which I love, but it was invigorating to get a taste of what the opposite is like. My wife has five brothers and sisters, many aunts and uncles, cousins, the whole lot…and they were all so glad to see us, and took such good care of us. When I left Thailand in 1999 I felt almost relieved, it had been so different. When I left last month, I felt sad. I look forward to going back. The Land of Smiles has a beauty all its own. And I love the new perspective it has brought me.

It’s now two hours later. In attempting to bring up Winamp using a global hotkey, I somehow closed the current tab in Firefox instead, losing several (well written, if I do say so) paragraphs of this entry. Even the “Undo close tab” function couldn’t get back the volatile text I’d entered into the form, so unfortunately a good deal of rather interesting stream-of-consciousness rambling has been lost. It mainly dealt with how different I feel about my surroundings in America and in Thailand. In a nutshell, when I’m home, I feel like everyone is my enemy, scrutinizing me at all times, such that I find solace in machinery—my car, my computers—non-judgmental entities that have preprogrammed functions which they exist solely to carry out without prejudice, and no intention of making my life miserable. (Occasionally they do, of course, but not by their own agenda.)

By contrast, in Thailand I felt surrounded by fellow human beings. People will come up to you and smile when they don’t even know you. People appreciate your kindness, your business, your patronage, your generosity. I don’t get the feeling that I’m being constantly watched or scrutinized for ways in which I break with tradition, even though most eyes probably were on me because I’m quite a bit different in appearance from most Asian folks. But I don’t know…I just feel warm and accepted there, but an outcast in my own nation. I guess it’s because I don’t fit with the idea society has for how people should walk, talk, think, dress, eat, breathe, and exist in American culture. Perhaps none of that is expected of me in Thailand because I’m not Thai, and people realize that yeah, that guy’s probably going to be different because he is different; he’s not one of us. That’s fine; whatever the reason, I feel relieved to know that I’m not being held to some kind of damn standard all the time. It’s quite relaxing.

I was telling my wife tonight that while I’m a very impatient person here at home, in Thailand I have reams of patience. I could sit in hour-long traffic jams, deal with people showing up late to scheduled get-togethers, or whatever else and take it all in stride. (And in fact, I did, as those are all things that happened to us while we were overseas.) I just found myself floating above all that; I mean, none of it’s really important when there’s a nice breeze blowing in the window and you feel like you could just sit back in your chair and take a nap. It’s probably due in part to my not having any work to do, but there seems to be more to it than that. Regardless, you could certainly say that this vacation really was a vacation, and that’s saying something. For the last three years, any time I’ve gone on vacation, I’ve always kept close contact with the office, checked my email, and done tasks remotely. That’s not really a vacation and I knew it then just as well as I do now, but I was always terrified of people screwing up in my absense and creating more work for me later when I would have to clean up their mess. I’m happy to report that the rest of the folks at the office did pretty well without me for two weeks, so maybe I won’t feel so bad about vacationing anymore. The perfectionist complex often gets in the way of my ability to just chill.

Switching gears here. (Hey, that’s what stream-of-consciousness writing is about, right?) The System Shock franchise, the holy bible of PC games as far as I’m concerned, is about to add one to its ranks. Irrational Games, the developers of Shock 2, are now hard at work on BioShock, a game designed around the same concepts as Shock 2, while not being a true sequel. We know next to nothing about the game because it’s so early in its development cycle, but I’m already more excited about it than I ever was about Doom 3 or Half-Life 2, the latter of which still isn’t even out. Everyone seems afraid to design games with brains anymore, but the Irrational team—which is still comprised of almost every person who worked on Shock 2—is different, always has been. I’m glad to see they’re still in business, even if Looking Glass is no more. And I look forward to the new heights that BioShock will bring the FPS genre. The bar desperately needs to be raised, guys. We’re drowning in mediocrity here.

Speaking of games, I picked up the PC version of Star Wars: KOTOR in Thailand. Holy gods—it so completely blows away the Xbox version, it’s not even funny. Primarily with the visuals. The game is graphically unpleasant on the Xbox, no joke. Jaggies everywhere, no support for 16:9 TVs, no high def. But on the PC, you crank up the resolution, flip on the anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering, and you’re cruising along with great framerates and far superior detail. I’ve decided to start the game over from scratch and build myself a hella evil Jedi bitch. I’ve never played the game on the Dark Side, so I think it’s high time to pull the Sadism card. Ha hah! Me likes. So far I haven’t had a chance to do too much Dark Side stuff, but I did order an old man to give me all his money, and have been yelling at Carth quite regularly, so it’s a start.

I rediscovered a treasure trove of schlock a few weeks back. Some old, old stories I had written circa 1993-1995, really really awful stuff, attempts at drama and romance, all of which (well, okay, most of which) fell terribly, horribly flat. It’s the kind of stuff that you re-read nowadays and it makes you laugh your head off, because it’s just that bad. I’ve decided to take the “MiSTing approach” to several of them, which is where you take a written work, go through and insert snarky comments and riffs, making thorough fun of the writing, the characters, the diction, or whatever else. I’m not doing a formal MiSTing—no actual characters like Mike and the Bots, just nameless comments thrown in every few sentences—but it’s a hilarious good time, and there’s plenty of lighthearted fun to be had making fun of yourself, let me tell you. Rather than lament over how thirteen-year-olds should never, ever write romance stories, I’ve decided to have some fun at my own expense. I’ve always been big into that kind of stuff, anyway—being snarky, I mean. And before you ask, this is not the sort of stuff I ever expect to share with anyone, but I imagine I’ll be looking at these snarkified files for years to come and getting a good chuckle. That’s worth the effort invested, several times over.

While I was in Thailand, I did have the opportunity to start crafting a story which I do intend to share with a friend of mine. It’s a piece of prose that belongs to the Genia 17 Space Stories series of epics which I’ve been writing for years now, which include such unfinished masterpieces as “The Escape of Harvie.” This one is entitled “Hoobadooboo Strikes!” which I suppose is like “Asuka Strikes!” but not really, since there’s no one named Asuka in the story. [??] Anyway, expect that one to be coming your way soon—you know who you are.

Should I leave now? It’s almost 12:30 a.m. now. I’m starting to feel a bit sleepy, which is dumb because I woke up at noon. (Nice to see I’m back on my old familiar schedule, finally!) It was a good day, but tomorrow I’ve got to powerwash the walls of the house (on the outside, you moron) as well as the sidewalk and driveway. Blarg. Sunday always seems to end up being errand day, which is okay I guess because I’d rather it be Sunday than Saturday, but of course, like most men, I’d prefer it if there was no errand day. Ah well! We all make do with what we’re given.

Watched the presidential debate on Friday night. Late Friday night, when they re-ran it on C-SPAN. Bush did much better than in debate #1, but Kerry still sounds like the intellectual superior. The problem is, can we trust the man? What has he done in the past that should compel us to trust him? If he feels so passionately about such a wide range of issues, how come he couldn’t bother voting on many of them for the last twenty years? Something about the guy doesn’t add up. Of course, a lot of things about Bush don’t add up either, and I gotta tell you, I’m getting real tired of being hated by everyone else on planet Earth. It was quite enlightening to go to Thailand and see what most people there think of our president, read: not much. There was a T-shirt shop we stopped by in Bangkok that had a shirt reading: GOOD BUSH / BAD BUSH, accompanied by a picture of a woman’s crotch and George Dubya, in that order of course.

The Letters to the Editor section of The Nation (an English-language newspaper in Bangkok) was filled to the brim with Bush-hating diatribes. People in most of the rest of the world resent Bush because they don’t like how he thinks he runs the entire world instead of just America. The trouble is, America is such a big player in the global economy, how can we just sit around and pretend we’re the only nation that exists? We tried that up till about 65 years ago, and it didn’t even work then. Still, I’m sure there’s a way to be globally involved and piss less people off, which is why I’m considering breaking with tradition and voting for Kerry. Yeah, I can barely tell you a damn thing the man honestly believes in, but I’m really starting to wonder how much more “hatin’” we Americans can collectively take. This entire presidential race is filled with paradoxes and double-edged swords, so voting is basically like a beaker of unknown substance you just hold your nose and swallow, and pray to God your choice doesn’t kill you. But given the state of our world I’d rather swallow it than do nothing.

I hate to cap off this update with something so dour, so I’ll change the subject at least once more before retiring for the night. I love Thai music. Hehehe…I mean, I am really just so sick of American pop music, that just about anything is an improvement, and there is some Thai pop that’s just so pleasing to the ear, it just sucks me in and makes me want to listen to it everywhere I go. I was sitting in that training seminar this week, bored to tears, and could think of only one thing most of the time: I wanted to go back to my desk and listen to my China Dolls album. I dunno, there’s something addictive about listening to a couple of Thai-Chinese girls rapping. It never gets old. No, I don’t understand any of the lyrics. But it’s a helluva lot more entertaining than listening to Dido wail the same goddamn song she’s been wailing since last May, which is what basically every FM radio station likes to shove down our throats around here. While the China Dolls’ songs may not make any sense to me, at least they’re fun to listen to; to wit:

What’s your name?
How old are you?
You understand?

One of the rare snippets of English in one of the songs, it is a total non sequitur but it’s still so funny and entertaining that I listen to that particular track over and over. I think, during the course of the song, the singers make fun of “Farang” (western people, basically), “Nippon” (Japanese people) and two other races I couldn’t identify. I should ask my wife to translate. She’s not much into this kind of music (even though it’s Thai) because it’s sorta Thai-countryish and kinda goofy to her (I guess it would be like if somebody came over here from Thailand and really got into Hillary Duff, ugh) but I’ve always had wacky tastes. No sense in denying it now! Wo ai ni and ni love me!

Huh, the “Templar Compound” background music from Deus Ex 2 is really, really reminding me of Terminator: Future Shock right now. Strange how that works.

Dude, I guess I should sign off. It’s almost 1 a.m., and I’ve rambled enough.