Friday, September 28, 2007

I obviously need more guy friends...

So I just noticed on Quicktime that the 4th installment of the Saw horror flick franchise is forthcoming.

I've seen exactly none of them.

And I like horror films.

My wife is not so much against horror films as she is against anything that might disturb her sleep. As such, we rarely see horror films at night, the only time one is allowed to watch horror films after reaching the age of sixteen.

This brings me to my point, most of my friends here are women. They are all wonderful women, met mostly through my daughter (ie, mothers of the daughter's friends). That said, I can't exactly go catch a horror flick with any of them. Chiefly there's the concern of their own tastes which let's be honest, rarely run to the Rob Zombie/James Wan/Chan-Wook Park school of film-making. Secondly, there's the issue of husbands, whom look only rarely with delight upon their wives going out for a movie with the odd creature that is your author.

Yep, I obviously need more guy friends.

New reasons to not be at the gym!

Nothing like the birth a a few promising TV series to keep one's ass planted on the couch late in the evening rather than hitting the gym.

But don't worry, there's hope: these shows are likely too good to last.

That caveat aside, let's dive in, shall we?

Bionic Woman: Despite my trepidation, I find myself liking this show. The production values are high (a rarity in sci-fi programming) and the acting doesn't suck. I'm not going to say much more, because I won't be sold until the story pans out a little more fully.

Life: Regardless of the knee-jerk comparison to House, MD (right, because another Brit playing an odd but smart American automatically makes it a similar show) I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that Life has more in common with other conspiracy-driven shows (Lost, X-Files) than, House, Monk, or any other quirky character-driven drama. Damian Lewis proves again that he is a talented and nuanced actor, no surprise to those of us familiar with his work...even the tragically flawed "Dreamcatcher".

Haunted: Not the most original premise, but the premiere was engaging enough to elicit my continued viewing. Unlike Sci-Fi channel's "Dresden Files", this actually seems to be written for a grown-up audience. I like Matthew Fox in Lost and he seems well suited for the lead in Haunted.

Reaper: Love it! A 21 year old slacker working at Home Depot discovers his parents sold his soul to the Devil and he therefore has to work for said entity tracking down escaped souls. Priceless. As an added bonus, the best friend character, "Sock", the the spitting image of our friend Ben from San Diego. And Ray Wise as the devil, how cool is that?

Heroes: Yes, I realize I'm a bit Johnny Come Lately here, but we just watched the first two episodes of Heroes season 1 and we were very impressed. Damned fine TV.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Ask yourself, do you feel safer? Well do you, punk?"

While discussing concealed carry, a friend asked me, "So do you feel safer?"

This got me thinking about safety again.

For those of us with families, safety is a topic that merits a fair amount of consideration. Not that you single folks are off the hook, but I found becoming a parent magnified my interest in issues of safety and security.

Personally, I try to make a distinction between actual safety, and the perception of safety. Safety's dark mirror is danger, actual danger and the perception thereof. People sometimes make much ado about safe neighborhoods, safe schools, even safe cars (hats off to Volvo for one of the most successful and pervasive automotive marketing campaigns to date). My point here is these concepts speak more to perception of safety, rather than actual safety. Crime happens wherever you have people, from big cities to small towns, from rich suberbs to downtown tenements. I'm not denying that population density and socioeconomic level effect crime rates; I'm simply pointing out that criminals are people, people are mobile, and are therefore going to commit crime wherever the plum opportunity exists. Safe schools? Don't make me laugh. The idea of a safe school is a simple extension of the safe neighborhood concept. Safe cars are driven by safe drivers. I'll take a ride with a conscientious, defensive driver in a VW Beetle (an old one) before a ride with a hot-headed, self-important road-rager in a Volvo XC90 any day of the week.

This brings me to preparation.
We've all heard one variation or another on the "6 Ps".
Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

This is why families make disaster plans, put together go-bags, and utilize alarm systems on homes.

It's better to have all of these things and not need them, than need them and not have them. It's not about feeling safer. It's about taking steps in preparation against the presence of danger. We can't predict where or when disaster will strike so, we prepare, we plan and we train.

And this is why CHL/CCW holders carry concealed.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Things I've learned, episode 1: Texas

We've been in TX a year and I have managed to learn a bit about state, as well as a good deal about San Antonio. Contrary to the concern expressed by not a few folks back in CA, we didn't land in a little cow town filled with rednecks and arch-conservative oil industry WASPs.

In no particular order:

-We've checked the figures and it IS most certainly true; Texas is freaking gigantic. They have land here, and lots of it. It amazes me to drive to the inside of the 1604 loop (more of the freeways here later) and find 1+ acre lots of land. There are even large lots to be found further in. The developers here are still able to build out, rather than up.

-Texas, at least central Texas, is a remarkably green place. I was expecting a much more arid climate here. I realize there are parts of Texas that fit that description, but San Antonio is nicely green for most of the year, dormant lawns notwithstanding.

-Texans are proud of being Texans. Now this is an interesting point. Two days ago I was tooling around the city in my car and I heard the latest of the "Real Men of Genius" commercials on the radio. Now, those of you who know me understand how it causes me honest to goodness pain acknowledging Bud Light (or any other pilsener) as beer, but let's face it, the RMG ad campaign is fucking hilarious. The ad salutes Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy and it's an unnervingly accurate representation of a certain contingent of Texans. RMG Of course, most of the Texans who fit this description likely attend Cowboy Church. (I honestly wish I could say that was enough on that subject but as easily imagined, I'll make my way back to Cowboy churches shortly). However, most of the folks if met out here do not fit that rather colorful description. Point in fact, most of our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances out here aren't even from Texas, let alone San Antonio. We've met some natives, and they're all amazing people, but by an large, San Antonio is as much a transplant city guessed it, San Diego. We've met plenty of people who really like it here, but not nearly as many of the "Don't mess with Texas" variety as we'd feared. I will say that Texans are more cohesive than Californians. Texans tend to stick together in a way that I didn't see in California. As much as I'd like to crack a joke about that, I think I'll just say we really like it here, and have met some amazing and friendly folks.

-Mexican food. Oh boy, Mexican food. We've found one (1) restaurant in San Antonio that serves food that we'd identify in a line-up as Mexican food. All of the others (yes, all) serve food that resembles Mexican food to varying degrees. Some indicators you are eating Tex-Mex rather than Mexican food: your refried beans have no cheese on them (this vexes my daughter immensely), your beef tamales are filled with ground beef with only a hint of seasoning (they call it picadillo beef, I call it...well that's not really important), your beef chile relleno, assuming you can find one will be served with ground beef, your beef taco will be filled with ground beef. Are we seeing a pattern here yet? Oh, the enchiladas, NO RED SAUCE FOR YOU!!! Your enchilada sauce choices are verde (excellent), brown gravy (huh?), or...chili con carne (WTF?)! Yes, many places here serve enchiladas covered in watery chili. The mind boggles. There is, however, a silver lining here, two of them, actually. The first is that Texan Mexican restaurants almost invariably make excellent beef fajitas. My personal theory is that making fajitas is close enough to BBQing for Texans to get into it. The other silver lining is the Los Robertos on Bitters Road, just west of the 281. It is an honest to goodness, Mexican Taquería! There we can enjoy our favorites, from tacos and tamales filled with seasoned and SHREDDED beef or pork, huge carne asada nachos plates, or even carne asada fries.

-BBQ. Texans kick some serious ass when it comes to making BBQ. Rudy's, Grady's, and a host of other restaurants (not including Bill Millers, the McDonalds of BBQ) serve up outstanding BBQ every day of the week.

-Drivers here and the freeways they abuse. Really only two points of interest here. Yield signs. Some demented city planner decided it would be fun to pepper the cloverleafs and off-ramps with yield signs. This is problematic since San Antonio drivers seem to have only the loosest grasp on yielding. Related to this is the issue of merging and weaving. Simply put, this is apparently a much neglected topic in Texas driving classes.

Churches. This is definitely the place for a person who has an affinity for big-ass churches. The churches here are not as in-your-face as churches I found in Arkansas (after 15 years I still remember the "Not making it to church, if Satan can't make you bad he'll just make you busy" sign we stumbled onto in Rustleville). However, there are certainly a LOT of them. The most interesting phenomenon though, would be the Cowboy Churches, or Cowboy worship. I'm not going to put in any direct link because, well I really don't want to encourage that particular flavor of strangeness. However, if you're interested in attending a cowboy church, or just interested in sharing with me an amused if slightly nervous chuckle, then just Google "Cowboy Church". You'll see what I mean in short order.

More later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lies our parents told us

So my lovely wife has yet again inspired me. Last time it was giving white socks a try, this time it's inflicting...err, sharing my deranged thoughts with anyone stumbling by this space no longer for rent.

Without further ado...

We were watching LA Ink last night, yes we're so wild, and Kat (the owner/star of the shop, of late from Miami Ink) said something that got me to thinking. She said how she really hates it when people say how "everything happens for a reason." Kat went on to say how she believed that there were some things (ie, events) from which there were no good lessons to be learned.

Kat, in case you happen to read this, I agree whole-heartedly.

"Everything happens for a reason"

The implication is that everything happens for a good reason.

This is a load of bull.

Now I understand that when things go wrong in life people seek solace in rationalization, justification, and other exercises in everyday deception. I get it, really, I do. When tragedy strikes, folks want to make believe that their loss is part of some bigger plan, some grander scheme, a casualty in the war b/t good verses evil, Mac verses PC, Coke verses Pepsi (sorry Pepsi drinkers, Coke won years ago, slew Pepsi and now wears your cola-deity like a sock-puppet).

Here's the rub, this "everything happens for a reason" schtick? It's just another one of those lies our parents told us. We, in turn, have told them to our children. I know, I'm a parent now. All those maxims about hard-work, diligence, fairness, and just deserts...they are all lies, comforting little lies told to children in hope of making them feel safe and secure, so they'll grow up healthy, wealthy and wise. Children grow up (or out, especially those chubby American kids) and they become disabused of these fables. It's not a bad thing, it's part of their awakening to the world.

As adults I feel we should look tragedy straight in the face. To do anything less cheapens your loss.