Geek Stuff

I got up at 5 am Friday morning to head to Comic-Con before traffic got horrendous. My plan was to get to San Diego, find parking, grab breakfast and have time to prowl the exhibit hall for most of the day. And it worked. The drive was relatively painless, and I only had to wait in line for half an hour to get a breakfast sandwich at Subway.

I should interject here that I am one of those people who thinks Comic-Con has completely outgrown its fishbowl, and continuing to have it in San Diego is a disservice to the fans it claims to cater to. Of course, having to wait 45 minutes to pay $19 for a cheeseburger will do that to you… but that’s a blog for another day.

The fact is, I’m not a very good geek. I don’t care about meeting comic book writers or artists. I’m unconcerned with how the LGBT community is portrayed in genre fiction. I don’t want to know how to cosplay any Buffy characters. During a normal SDCC trip, I spend the majority of my time prowling the exhibit hall anyway. I just don’t have the patience to wait for hours to get into the ballroom or hall H to see 5 minutes of a film that isn’t coming out for a year, or listen to Shane Black answering questions only a fan would ask (i.e., retarded ones). Watching all this going on around me, I decided Comic-Con is just Burning Man for people who read books.

I would have skipped it completely, but this year I had two reasons for going. The first was to make face-to-face contact with as many steampunk craftspeople as possible to source props and costumes for the short I keep mentioning, and in that regard, I was very successful. The second was to attend the screening of Natural 20, a short made by my friends John & Brusta, which was screening in the SDCC Film Festival. That went very well, and they won best humor short.

Not the worst Black Widow at Comic-Con. By far.

As it happened, this was my first time being at SDCC by myself, and it was a fairly lonely experience. I would see something cool or interesting, and had no one to discuss it. Two years ago, Comic-Con was all unfortunate mother/daughter Silk Spectre teams, which Mischief & I mocked mercilessly. Last year, it was bad Baronesses. This year was a plethora of embarrassing Black Widows and Harley Quinns, and I couldn’t share the pain. Tweeting “Huh. Batman is 5’2″ and fat. Who knew?” just isn’t the same thing as getting to say it in the moment.

Since I had a spare professional guest badge, I had originally planned for D to come down with me for the day, but our mutual poor communication skills fucked it up. Then, when she realized I was there alone, Vega began threatening to come down and join me which wasn’t going to happen. Again, too high-maintenance for Comic-Con, and I wasn’t about to add that stress. So we text-fought over that for a few hours while I walked the halls.

Alice & 50 Baht arrived that night. I met them for dinner after the Natural 20 screening, gave them my badges so they could spend Saturday & Sunday at the con, and headed home.

I spent most of the weekend editing a piece I shot for a pay-per-view channel, although I did get talked into going to Vega’s house Sunday night… See this conversation to figure out how that happened. We didn’t end up making a screening of Savages, so Vega got to sit through Prometheus, which she hadn’t seen, with a butt plug about the size of a coke can stuffed in her. Scary movies get her excited anyway; as a result, I don’t think she could even tell you what happened in the movie.

When I got up to leave around 3 am, she kept her promise and didn’t say a word about me staying. Tonight, I turned down a cooked meal to work, and I don’t know when I have a free night to see her again. I have plans Wednesday, I’m doing the Dark Knight marathon Thursday, seeing Blue Friday, and covering the Urban X Awards Saturday.

In the meantime, I had several ideas for Cowboys & Engines on the drive to SD. The more progress we make, the more excited I get about this thing.

This is unrelentingly awesome…

A few months back we got word that Chris Nolan was producing the re-re-boot of Superman from a script by David Goyer. Now, I’m personally of the opinion that Nolan is one of the finest filmmakers in the world. I can go on for an hour about everything that was right about The Dark Knight, and I would fuck Inception if I could. David Goyer has written a lot of… stuff, some of it genius, some of it… not… so much…

But I had hope.

Yesterday, Warner Brothers officially announced that the director of Superman: The Man of Steel would be… Zack Snyder. Y’know, the director of the pointless, ridiculous gay Fantasia know as 300, the new CG-Fest Owls of Ferngully or whateverthefuck that retarded Owls-in-Armor movie is called, and The Watchmen.

I’ve avoided spending six hours writing the full, doctoral-thesis version of why I hate The Watchmen as much as I do. But I really, really hate it. I mean words fail. The last time I was on the Warner Brothers lot I walked past Snyder’s parking spot where his convertible was parked with the top down and it was all I could not to take a dump in it.

I hated everything about that movie. I mean Every. Single. Frame. I hated the look, the script, the design, the acting, the music (dear lord, the song cuts…). As much as I want to have sex with Inception, I want to drag The Watchmen  into an alley, stab it repeatedly in the abdomen with a chunk of shattered glass, reach in the hole, yank out its intestines and hold it by the throat as I watch its eyes grow cold and dead.

“Hate,” you see, is far too mild a description.

So it was distressing to say the least to think of Snyder, who has the emotional depth and resonance of a Spencer’s Gifts thank-you card, tackling the continuing saga of the Father of Superheroes. Yes, Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns is a flawed movie, but at least it has a story. Emotional clarity. And, I would still argue that the rescue or Richard Branson’s 747 is one of the greatest action sequences ever shot.

The thing I really can’t fathom is how Nolan, who is making some of the most adult-driven and thoughtful cinema today; movies with FX sequences designed to be real and serve the story; movies intentionally shot never to be released in 3D because Nolan believes (as do I) that it’s a pointless gimmick that interferes with the storytelling; how is this man going to produce a movie being directed by the King of Emotionally-Retarded 8-Year-Olds?

Zack Snyder believes that every movie should be a fucking video game, and I’m sure if you could see into his tiny little frantically-masturbating monkey brain and asked him to imagine “compelling human drama,” the result would be a mental catalogue of the cast of Jersey Shore.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and Nolan will beat him to death with a copy of Filmmaking for Beginners.

Obviously, things have not been sparkly of late. Friday just put a fine point on the feelings of utter defeat and despair I’ve been struggling with since the spring. Or perhaps I should say an even finer point. Every single man who is at or near my age will understand when I say there is a strong desire in me to sell everything I own (and perhaps a pile of stuff I don’t own), and vanish into the Great Unknown, never to be heard from again by a single human I currently know.

Of course, this is a purely romantic notion. Right? I still have five little furry monsters I have to feed. Six, if you count Mischief.

On the topic of the Goth Biscuit, last weekend, she fell while attending Anime Expo and jacked up her right arm pretty successfully. Emergency room and doctor visits ensued, and we’ve discovered it isn’t broken. Just a major contusion and probably some muscle and tendon damage.

Kids.

She’s been fairly gimpy as a result, and I’ve learned to do things I never imagined, like how to properly brush and wash hair. For the first half of the week, she was pretty dependent, and I felt like a responsible adult. It was creepy. But it did net a great doctor’s office story.

However, since I enjoy telling stories backwards, let me drop a few details about this most recent weekend first. Having spent most of Friday crying my eyes out and trying to function, I was looking forward to being über-geek on Saturday night, playing Magic (I know, I know) with my friends Jim, John and Brusta, decompressing, distracted.

I hadn’t seen Allison for a few days, so I was thrilled when she arrived at my loft on Saturday night, looking great and equally happy to see me. I was even happier when she proudly slid my hand down her ass to find the butt plug she’d been wearing for the last several hours. She takes her homework very seriously, this girl.

You can infer the rest from there. I mean, I have an issue with being completely rude, so I excused myself from the game for a few rounds to indulge in an office & closet quickie. In my world, you just don’t waste a soaking-wet 26-year-old with a butt plug in her ass. But, eventually, I did return to my “guests.”

On Sunday, we slept in, completely failed to get out of bed about three times by my count, and then finally hauled our asses up to start the day. Mischief made herself extremely cute, and I did my best with jeans that no longer fit (I’ve lost a lot of weight this year) and a shirt I know she likes.

We made our way down to Venice beach to wander and people-watch. Personally, unless I’m in Jamaica or the Dominican Republic or somewhere equally resort-ish, I’m not a really “beachy” guy. As an abstract concept I love the beach, but in L.A., the beaches are cold, dirty, bum-infested and crowded. As a result, I haven’t been to Venice in, oh, five years?

We had a great time. We looked at clothes, books, art both good and bad. I copy-edited shop signs (including the hand-carved wooden sign which advertises clothing imported from “Katmandu,” wherever that is). We ate, snarked each other and argued about precisely how crazy Allison is (I’m gonna vote for somewhere between “Special Olympics” and “Batshit Crazy,” but well shy of “Nurse Ratched Will See You Now.”)

We stood for a long while at the drum circle, both trying to “get it,” but failing on some mutual lack of chemical alteration and/or spiritual depth. We watched a rumored former Solid Gold dancer do some amazing moves on roller skates, which only made me more disdainful of the small flotilla of self-important punks on skateboards whom Mischief was quite enamored with.

Ah, youth. Sadly, none of them seriously injured himself while we watched. (Hey you kids! Off of my lawn! GET OFF OF MY LAWN!)

We ended the day with Allison buying us dinner at a terrific Lebanese place where only one of the women truly looked like Jamie Farr. Over dinner, we continued a discussion about my personal brand of applied psychology and social anthropology, and the way I “read” people from a distance. Mischief is fascinated by this, and we’d been discussing how she presents herself in different situations.

On Wednesday, with her right arm still more-or-less completely KIA, I picked Mischief up from work and took her to see her orthapædist. This doctor’s office is in a very conservative part of the very conservative Orange County.

Since I probably haven’t mentioned it, overt PDA is one of Mischief’s favorite pastimes. Inappropriate PDA, even moreso.

Sitting in the OC waiting room were a thin, young, gay Asian sales rep for a software firm, a 40-something blonde real estate agent trying too hard to hit that “vaguely sexy but completely bland” look right in the center of the bullseye, and a burly, red-faced mid-40s contractor waiting for his wife; a guy you just know was climbing into a white F-250 with a crew cab and a bedliner when they left.

The main receptionist was a surly, sour-faced, Christian, Republican, 43-year-old single mother of four who was every inch the female version of the contractor in the waiting room. She stood about 5’ 11’ and had to be three bills. If you picture the feminized John Lithgow in World According to Garp you’re right on target.

Just seeing a man her age (and aren’t all fucking men just the fucking same!) with a girl Mischief’s age turned her bitter blood to cold vitriol, and if looks were daggers I would have left in a basket. Naturally, Allison took this as the signal that she should climb all over me in the waiting room. At one point, she even decided to sit in my lap. If it wouldn’t have led to police involvement and defeating the purpose of the trip (by getting kicked out), I’m sure she would have tried to blow me.

The realtor was scandalized. The contractor tried not to be envious. The salesman was oblivious.

Ms. Lithgow seethed hatred from behind the counter.

In a quiet attempt to keep Allison from alienating her doctor (I was imaging some first-generation Indian immigrant who can’t look a white woman in a bikini in the eye), I stayed in the waiting room while she went inside. At one point I caught the realtor’s eye, and I realized she wasn’t seeing me; she was seeing her husband, who coaches the girls’ volleyball team, and her imagination was running rampant.

When Allison returned from the bowels of the building, I joined her at the counter for checkout. She spent a few moments harassing the desk flunkies about details, doctor’s notes and appointments, and then asked the nurse, standing next to Ms. Lithgow, to clarify what she could and couldn’t do.

“No typing, no writing, no repetitive arm movements.”

“Oh, good,” said Mischief. “So I can still use my mouth.”

They’ll be scrubbing Ms. Lithgow’s brains off that wall for a week.

If you’re me — and don’t I wish I was — people often boggle at the amount of random shit likely to fall from your head (via the mouth) at any given time. My brain, it seems, is Fibber McGee’s closet, and opening it is likely to produce a jangly crash of junk toppling over.

Here’s how this happens. This morning, while editing Kiss of the Strangler, in between takes I made a comment about a sixpenny nail. It occurred to me in passing that I didn’t really understand where sizing for nails originated, or why the designation for sixpenny nail would be 6d on the box. So off to the new Library of Alexandria, teh Intar-web. After a bit of scouring, I found this site about the history of weights and measures, complete with sources, and voilà. (FYI, that reverse accent mark is called a grave, and the ASCI hotkey for a lowercase Latin a with grave is ALT+0224)

I discovered that the “d” symbol is for the Latin denarius, or penny, and that the measurement is essentially meaningless as it referred to the amount one would have to spend to buy 100 nails of a particular length. Economies have changed slightly since the 16th century, so now it’s simply a rote designation with no relation at all to the original measurement. Making matters worse, this system used the British great hundred or King’s hundred, so 100 was really 120. So, for 5p you got 100 6d nails.

As. Mud.

I love this stuff. I can’t wait to tuck this nugget away with the other mathems and then unleash it on some poor, unsuspecting soul during set construction someday…

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