Saturday, October 25, 2003

"My Sea-faring Foot."

People seem to like border conditions.

Living smack up against the ocean, or just outside a forest, or at the foot of a mountain. I'm not sure why. Maybe people like to have their backs up against something they feel is safe.

Although, in the case of the ocean, I think it may be that when someone makes their home by the ocean they may get a sense of closure because they've gone so far and now there is nowhere else to go.

Not at all in a negative sense, of course. But ideally, knowing that there is nowhere else to go should be a relief. Now, one can worry about all the other stuff in life.

Because a lot of times, when it is possible to go in every direction (despite perhaps the lack of a path) there is the continuous doubt that maybe you're going the wrong way.

Like travelling in a boat in the middle of the ocean. There is that nagging feeling that maybe you're traveling further away from somewhere you want to be.

And in the desert, too.

I've grown up in this desert. I like it. I like it because it's like a beach, but without an ocean. And people love the beach. Even when they go to the ocean, most of them still say "We're going to the beach!" But take away that ocean and people hate it, because then it's just a bunch of sand. I know how the beach (now a desert) might feel.

"The only reason you liked me at all was because of the ocean?"

But I like you, desert. And, like you, I'm not sure of where my ocean is, either.

Well, I've got Water, Forest, and Earth. I feel like I'm missing an element. Oh yeah!

Everyone thank Alan Schuler for providing the fire.

And I'd ask that before you point out that I don't have "Wind," first show me a decent picture you've ever taken of "Wind."

Hmm...I have to be at work at 8:30 am. It's almost 4:30 am now.

Oh, and thank Jarod Sibbet for the pictures of our trip to Mount Whitney and Death Valley.

Friday, October 24, 2003

I'm waiting for my laundry to get clean, so I'll try some more of this picture stuff.

At work, my friend Carla asked me, "Were you like, a dork when you were younger"

I had to laugh. "Are you saying I'm not a dork now?"

I'll let the evidence speak for itself:

Sixth Grade Gurg:

Eight Grade Gurg:

I found this program that can simulate the aging process and show you what you might look like after a couple of decades. I sent in the above pictures and it gave me an interesting result that I don't think is very accurate:

I would never grow a mustache like that.

Damn, I didn't close the lid on the washing machine and my clothes have been sitting merrily in luke-warm water for the past thirty minutes. I am the smartest man alive!

When I worked at Gold's Gym, I had a lot of free time. A lot of it was spent reading, but occasionally I would grab some old magazines, cut 'em up, and try to make something neat. I really like this for some reason:

In the upper right hand corner it says, "The sage is full of anxiety and indecision in undertaking anything, and thus he is always successful. -Book XXVI, The Texts of Chuang-Tzu."

Deep, huh? I can completely picture that guy sitting there just weighing things over in his mind. Heh, and I like the quote because it is probably the antithesis of my own spontaneous nature. Wait, maybe that would explain why I'm always so unsuccessful in my undertakings...

But the fun thing about this...collage, I guess is what it is, is that, the corner of the paper with the quote about the sage actually folds up, and there is a poem underneath, written on a triangle of paper. It's just more midnight scribblings, but I think it reflects one of the different moods this image projects for me:

You would turn your back on this world?
Resignation in your hand
You catch a glimpse before your eyes blur
Of all your castles in the sand

And you would turn your back on this world
Resignation in your mind
Certain of everything you're leaving
But not so sure of what you'll find

And I will mourn you here on this world
I will try to understand
As alone I watch the waves curl
Wherever oceans meet the land

Yes, and on that note: One of my favorite movies is The Fifth Element (which is funny because I didn't really like it the first time I saw it.) David DoBell has done it once again. That guy is going to put imagination out of business, just you watch. I'm still trying to convince him to make a picture of me in Lilu's "Thermal Bandages." I don't know why he's so against the idea.

Oh, I think my laundry is done.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

So this past Spring Break I went on a cruise.

*click on each picture for full size version*

I wrote a lot.

And I even drew a little.

So that's what my notebooks usually look like, except for the drawing. It's a good thing I can type because very few people can read my handwriting.

And now it's time to leave you with what you all came here to see... Hard-Core Nudity!

I must give proper thanks to David DoBell, who is the one of the best image-manipulators I know that is awake at three in the morning. You should also check out his recent work with Muppets and the Matrix. More cake, anyone?

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In Guillermo Mental Health News:

Nothing interesting to report. The night before last I dreamed I was a Jedi on the ice planet of Hoth.

And last night, I dreamed that I went to the state fair and watched a pig-diving competition.


Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Quite Possibly the Practicalest Joke Ever.

Often a great deal of set-up can go into a joke. There is always that waiting, that calm before the storm, that comes before the punch-line. And sometimes it really isn't worth it.

But sometimes it is.

17 months and four days ago exactly, (roughly the gestation period of the Sumatran Rhinoceros) Brian Young and I went to see Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.

Maybe it was because we had both worked 8-hour graveyard shifts the night before and saw the earliest showing of the movie at around 10:00 in the morning, (our equivalent of about 3 am,) but neither of us liked it. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say we disliked it.

We soon discovered that we were in the minority.

As the weekend progressed, more and more people saw the film and more and more praise for the film reached our ears. This naturally confounded us. We got together and discussed it.

Perhaps everyone was playing an elaborate hoax on the two of us, telling us that they liked it when, in truth, they really didn't.

We discarded that theory. To pull of such a scam would require a great deal of coordination and ingenuity on everyone's parts, which is feasible. But it also would have required them all to keep a secret, and to believe people to be capable of that would be giving human beings too much credit.

So they probably weren't lying.

The only other theory: We must have seen a completely different movie than everyone else.

Was it possible? Could we have possibly gone and seen a completely different movie and not even realized it? That also sounded incredible, but was still more likely of our two theories.

When the impossible is eliminated, what is left, however improbable, must be the truth.

We concluded that we must have accidentally gone to see "The Rookie," a Disney film starring Dennis Quaid that came out around that time.

Having solved that mystery, we went on with our lives.

Flash-forward to May 12, 2003.

In the parking lot of Chili's, Brian Young is handing me my birthday present. It's the DVD of Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones.

We both share a laugh. I say, "Ha, maybe I'll actually watch this some day!"
We laugh again.

Flash-forward five months and eight days. It's October 20, 2003, aka Last Night. Somewhere in Southeast Asia, a mother Sumatran Rhinoceros is grunting with the strain of giving birth to the calf that she has been carrying for so very long. But back in Midwest United States...

I feel like watching a movie. I'm looking through my meager DVD collection, and I'm trying to decide which one. I'm thinking maybe "The Professional," which I saw for the first and last time when I spent the night at Dan Roche's house when we were high school freshman (during that brief window of time in high school when sleeping over at a friends house sober wasn't yet categorized as "overtly gay.")

Then I notice Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones. "Why not?" I say to myself. I saunter over to the living room and plop down on the mattress that is currently being used as a "fainting couch." I spend a few minutes struggling with the shrink-wrap. I've had it for so long, and yet I'd never even opened it.

I succeed in my struggle to free the movie, and I insert it into my DVD player. I press play.

A preview for an upcoming DVD release comes up. It's for "The Santa Clause 2." I skip past it. Another preview comes up. It's for "Monsters Inc." Annoying, and a bit odd. I press the "Menu" button on the remote.

But instead of the trumpeting fanfare of the Star Wars theme, I hear a solemn orchestra. And instead of a bunch of light-saber wielding Jedi and muppets, I see the silhouette of a man against the setting sun. He's tossing something in his hand. Words begin to materialize and shimmer across the bottom of the screen. I shout the title out loud without even realizing it. "THE ROOKIE?!"

Then I'm laughing so hard that my cats scramble out of the room and hide. I am concerned that I'll wake my roommates, but far more concerned that my sides will split open.

After I regain my breath, I take out the DVD and inspect it more closely. The DVD has a picture of Anakin and Yoda and spaceships and all that, but it's one of those print-your own covers that you can make with a computer. In the dim light of my living room, I hadn't even noticed. I scratch away part of it, and sure enough, it looks like "The Rookie" is underneath. Diabolical.

I've had that damn thing for over five months and I didn't realize that all this time I had really been the proud owner of "The Rookie."

And the whole time, none of my friends (if, besides Brian, they even knew) had ever let it slip that a touching story of family and following your dreams awaited me the next time I was ever in need of of an Attacking-Clones fix.

Maybe people can keep a secret. Damn, I've underestimated them. What else haven't I been told?!

I guess that's another reason I love my friends. They are always willing to put forth that extra time and effort to really make you think you've gone completely insane.

Thanks, guys.

I think the moral of this story is best summed up by the movie's tag-line: "It's never too late to believe in your dreams."

Unless, of course, you're one of the rapidly dwindling Sumatran Rhinos. They can dream all they want, but I'm pretty sure they're screwed.

Monday, October 20, 2003

A Quick Equation

I've figured out what makes a nightmare.

All it takes is some ominous advice from Jay:

"See, that's the problem with writing so much. You're spending too much time in your own head; you're going crazy."

And couple Heinekens, a Seven-and-Seven, a couple glasses of red wine, and a half-cup of cold, black coffee. (One thing I'll say for Catholics, they sure know how to party after a baptism.)

You would think that this simple equation would lead to a night of peaceful slumber, but no, it didn't. Not at all.

I fell asleep for the second night in a row long before my usual dawn bedtime. And for the second night in a row I didn't follow my nightly ritual of writing that I've been following pretty strictly lately.

I just lay in bed at 2 am, thinking a lot about what Jay had said. Because to be honest, I had already had similar concerns.

At some point, I fell asleep.

Shortly after that, my subconscious mind decided to go town and not tell my conscious mind anything about it.

So the next thing I know...

I'm in this grey, concrete prison. There are no bars, just a series of connected rooms with no exit. There are other prisoners there. We are all wearing orange jumpsuits. There isn't much to do in this prison, but that's as bad as it seems. I don't hear anyone ever talking, so I don't either.

A lot of the prisoners lie in their beds most of the day in the sleeping hall. Some of them just sit in the one of the bigger rooms. There are no chairs, no furniture of any kind except for the beds, so they all just sit on the floor.

There aren't guards or wardens either, but some of the prisoners seem to know what needs to be done and all the rest of us follow their lead.

This is all very boring. Not awful, just very boring.

One of the leader prisoners comes up to me and hands me some paper and a pen. I'm happy, because now I can at least do something. So I sit in the main room with everyone else and scribble away on my paper. It's not so bad. I am enjoying being able to write so much. I think of this great idea for a story...

Days pass. Each one is very much the same as the next, but not in the story I'm writing. In my story characters are being heroic and funny, making new friends and enemies, righting wrongs and getting into wacky misadventures. Even when I'm not writing, I'm thinking and wondering what will happen next. I'm enjoying myself immensely.

I'm writing a lot now, and every few days the leader prisoner will bring me some more fresh, clean, beautiful, white, new, paper to write on.

One day I am writing away as usual and I realize my story is almost done. I'm a bit sad because I'll miss my characters, but I'm quivering with pride that I made something so wonderful. I finish up the last page, write a big, bold, THE END, and take the last pages over to my bed to put with the rest of my story. I arrange them neatly, place them under my bed, and lie down for a nap.

"Shall we see what our little prodigy has been working on?" says a loud, chiding, voice. This are the first words I've heard in a long time, and it takes me time to absorb the fact that I've just heard a human voice. It doesn't make me happy, because even before I fully grasp the words I've already recognized that bullying tone. Whatever is going to happen next is not going to be good.

I become fully awake and try to leap out of my bed, but I end up taking all my sheets with me and fall to the ground. Two of the leader prisoners grab my arms while I'm still tangled up in my sheets and pin me to the floor. One sticks his knee in my back, sending shockwaves down my spine. I struggle, but it's useless.

The leader prisoner that had given me the paper and pen in the first place is holding up my story. He is the one who has spoken. And just from the way he is holding it, I know that I hate him. "So what is this supposed to be, huh?" he goads again.

"It's my story, and I wrote it!" I manage to sound indignant through the pain in my back. My voice is clear, despite not having spoken for so long.

The leader prisoner leafs through the pages. His eyes look amused. He holds the story up distastefully. "This is the dullest story I've ever seen!" He proclaims. He grins at me and I grow sick. Whatever is going to happen next is not going to be good.

In one swift movement, he rips the pages in half and throws them up in the air. I make a choked scream and try to lunge at him, but I'm still being held fast. My eyes fill with tears and I begin to let out these strange, strangled, sobs. I keep struggling, but it grows weaker and weaker as the shreds of my story rain down all around me.

The leader prisoner laughs. He turns on his heel and begins to walk out. The other leader prisoners let me go and walk out also. I remain on the floor and try to stop shaking. I get weakly to my knees and begin gathering up the pieces of my story to try to put them back together.

But something is wrong. I'm not seeing any of my handwriting. I pick up one page and look at it. It's an old supply order for some basic toiletry items. I let if fall and pick up another page. It's an authorization form for a Transportation of Prisoner, with a name I don't recognize. The date says it's from months ago. I throw it from me and grab another page. It's last week's menu from the dining facility. And so it goes with every page I pick up, and I pick up every single one to make sure. A form for a uniform adjustment. A form to order more laundry detergent. There are even a few pages of what look like court transcripts.

All the pages are old, useless, documents. There's no trace of me having written on them. Not a single word of my story is on them. And I'm trying to understand, maybe they stole my story and just switched it with these papers. And then I realize, for the first time, that I can't remember a word of my own story. I can't think of a single character, not one joke, and none of the wacky misadventures. I realize that I can clearly remember being given paper...but that now I can't remember ever being given a pen.

The next thing I realize is that this probably isn't a prison at all.

The leader prisoner walks back in to find me still on the floor, crying. "Hey, don't worry about it," he says in mock consolation, "I'm sure you'll remember the next story you write."

I get the haunting feeling that he has said those exact words to me many, many, times before.


* * * * *

Is there a moral to this story? If there is, let me know. So far, I think it means that I should chill out for a while.